The atmospheric balance of water vapor for the northern hemisphere is investigated through entirely automatic data processing and objective analysis procedures, in order to assess the potentialities of these methods for the present purposes by examining a large sample of results. The present study is based on five years of daily observations taken at about 800 meteorological stations. The final maps of the distribution fields of mean precipitable water content and of zonal and meridional transports of water vapor in the atmosphere are presented and discussed. The structure and the implications of the water vapor divergence map for hydrology are treated. Finally the water vapor balance on a planetary scale is discussed and the results are compared with evidence obtained from climatological and hydrological sources. The five-year averages of the various fields appear to give consistent results and mainly agree with previous findings.

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