An automated atmospheric rivers (ARs) detection algorithm is used for the North Atlantic Ocean Basin allowing the identification of the major ARs that affected western European coasts between 1979 and 2014 over the winter half-year (October to March). The entire west coast of Europe was divided into five domains, namely, the Iberian Peninsula (9.75° W; 36-43.75° N), France (4.5° W; 43.75-50° N), UK (4.5° W; 50-59° N), southern Scandinavia and the Netherlands (5.25° E; 50-59° N), and northern Scandinavia (5.25° E; 59-70° N). Following the identification of the main ARs that made landfall in western Europe, a Lagrangian analysis was then applied in order to identify the main sources of moisture that reach each domain. The Lagrangian dataset used was obtained from the FLEXPART model global simulation from 1979 to 2012, where the atmosphere was divided into approximately 2.0 million parcels, and it was forced by ERA-Interim reanalysis on a 1° latitude-longitude grid.
Results show that, in general, for all regions considered, the major climatological source of moisture extends along the subtropical North Atlantic, from the Florida Peninsula (northward of 20° N), to each sink region, with the nearest coast to each sink region always appearing as a local maximum of evaporation. In addition, during the AR events, the Atlantic subtropical source is reinforced and displaced, with a slight northward movement of the moisture sources is found when the sink region is positioned at higher latitudes. In conclusion, the results confirm the advection of moisture linked to ARs from subtropical ocean areas, but also the existence of a tropical one, and the mid-latitude sources further the analysed longitude along the North Atlantic is located eastward.