A new perspective on continental moisture recycling

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The importance of moisture feedback between continental precipitation and evaporation, referred to as moisture recycling, is still under debate. Most of the research in the past focused on the contribution of recycling to precipitation within a certain region only. This paper clearly distinguishes between different definitions of moisture recycling. This allows us to study the complete process of continental moisture recycling. In addition to identifying how much of the precipitation originates from continental sources, a new definition is used to identify regions which are major moisture suppliers for continental precipitation. An accounting procedure based on ERA?40 reanalysis data is used to calculate moisture recycling ratios. As such, this paper derives new information from existing data. It is estimated that on average 38 % of the continental precipitation has continental origin and that 52 % of the continental evaporation returns as precipitation over continents. This paper demonstrates the important role of topography in the Andes and the Tibetan Plateau where regional moisture recycling is a key process. The Amazon and the Congo are identified as very important regions for sustaining continental precipitation. It is also demonstrated that moisture recycling from the Eurasian continent is the major supplier of the fresh water resources of China.