Tuesday, October 17, 2017
 

Rivers in the sky

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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.

NOAA flies through atmospheric rivers off California coast

Researchers study evolution and structure of moisture-bearing rivers in air

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Scientists aboard the NOAA Gulfstream IV aircraft are flying over the Pacific Ocean off the U.S. West Coast this week to measure air pressure, temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction to help better understand atmospheric rivers - narrow conveyor belts of water vapor that can bring beneficial water supply and snowpack as well as create dangerous floods.