Yes, there are rivers in the sky! Atmospheric rivers, to be exact, are narrow bands of moisture that regularly form above the Pacific Ocean and flow towards North America’s west coast, drenching it in rain and packing it with snow. These rivers, which transport more water than the Amazon or the Mississippi, have a far-reaching impact - even on the food you may be eating today.
With this week’s January 14 sailing of NOAA’s largest ship, the Ronald H. Brown, a major investigation of atmospheric rivers named CalWater 2015 is now underway.
Craig McLean, the acting assistant administrator for NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, announced Wednesday, December 24, that David Fahey, Ph.D., has been selected as the new director of the Earth System Research Laboratory Chemical Sciences Division (CSD), in Boulder, Colorado, effective December 28, 2014.
New research published in Marine Policy from the first Alaska-focused study on public understanding and awareness of ocean acidification risk shows that Alaskans are three times more aware of ocean acidification than Americans in general. However, Alaskans have difficulty seeing ocean acidification as an immediate risk, and the direct risks to Alaska’s fisheries are still not well understood. The research, “Gauging perceptions of ocean acidification in Alaska,” can be read online.
Scientists at the Army Corps of Engineers, Environment Canada, and NOAA recently documented a record-setting surge in water levels on Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron that began in January 2013, and has continued through November 2014. The United States and Canadian federal agencies expect water levels to stay near or above average on all of the Great Lakes over the next six months.
According to a new NOAA-sponsored study, natural oceanic and atmospheric patterns are the primary drivers behind California's ongoing drought. A high pressure ridge off the West Coast (typical of historic droughts) prevailed for three winters, blocking important wet season storms, with ocean surface temperature patterns making such a ridge much more likely. Typically, the winter season in California provides the state with a majority of its annual snow and rainfall that replenish water supplies for communities and ecosystems.