Impact of atmospheric rivers on the winter snowpack in the headwaters of Euphrates-Tigris basin

Y. Ezber*, D. Bozkurt, O. L. Sen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the hydrometeorological impacts of atmospheric rivers (ARs) on mountain snowpack is crucial for water resources management in the snow-fed river basins such as the Euphrates-Tigris (ET). In this study, we investigate the contribution of wintertime (December-January–February) ARs to precipitation and snowpack in the headwater regions of the ET Basin for the period of 1979–2019 using a state-of-the-art AR catalog and ERA5 reanalysis data. The results show that AR days in the headwaters region could be warmer by up to 3 °C and wetter by over 5 mm day−1 compared to non-AR days. The contribution of ARs to the total winter precipitation varies from year to year, with a maximum contribution of over 80% in 2010 and an average contribution of 60% over the 40-year period. While snow accumulation on AR days shows spatial variability, the average snow contribution is 27% of the seasonal average, ranging from 12 to 57% for different years. The south-facing parts of the mountain range experience significant snowmelt, with contributions ranging from 15 to 80% for different years. The high total precipitation (60%) and low snowpack (27%) contribution can be attributed to the semi-arid characteristics of the region and the occurrence of rain-on-snow events, where rain falling on existing snow rapidly melts the snowpack. The findings have implications for water resource management and call for continued research to improve our knowledge of ARs and their interactions with the complex terrain of the ET Basin.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClimate Dynamics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

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© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Atmospheric Rivers
  • Precipitation
  • Snow accumulation
  • The Euphrates-Tigris Basin


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