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.
The Energy Department today announced $2.5 million for a new project to research the atmospheric processes that generate wind in mountain-valley regions. This in-depth research, conducted by Vaisala of Louisville, Colorado, will be used to improve the wind industry’s weather models for short-term wind forecasts, especially for those issued less than 15 hours in advance. With access to better forecasts, wind energy plant operators and industry professionals can ensure wind turbines operate closer to maximum capacity, leading to lower energy costs for consumers.
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.
Weather forecasters rely on an incredibly large amount of information when they make forecasts and issue warnings. A new system, activated by NOAA’s National Weather Service last week, quickly harnesses the tremendous amount of weather data from multiple sources, intelligently integrates the information, and provides a detailed picture of the current weather.
NOAA researchers set out this week on a two-week mission to fly over the Arctic to measure how much the ice has melted over the summer and gauge the speed of this fall’s refreezing of sea ice. This is the second year in a row scientists have flown above Arctic waters. Data gathered from both years is testing a hypothesis that increased summer heat stored in the newly sea-ice free areas of the Arctic Ocean lead to surface heat fluxes in autumn that are large enough to have impacts on atmospheric temperature, humidity, wind and cloud distributions.
Last September’s widespread flooding in northeast Colorado, which saw just over 17 inches of rain in one week in the city of Boulder, was not made more likely or more intense by the effects of human-induced climate change, according to a new NOAA-led study published today in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
Deborah H. Lee, the chief of water management for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, has been named the new director of NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL). Lee is slated to begin on December 1, 2014.
Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) - or "NOAA Research" - provides the research foundation for understanding the complex systems that support our planet. Working in partnership with other organizational units of the NOAA, a bureau of the Department of Commerce, NOAA Research enables better forecasts, earlier warnings for natural disasters, and a greater understanding of the Earth. Our role is to provide unbiased science to better manage the environment, nationally, and globally.