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.
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.
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.
A global report released this week on changing carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land environment draws heavily from data and observations by NOAA research scientists and their partners. For the first time, the annual assessment by the Global Carbon Project uses data obtained from autonomous instruments installed by NOAA scientists on its ships and other ships of opportunity and moorings to determine the variability of carbon dioxide in the surface ocean.
For the last five years, NOAA has teamed up with NASA to fly NASA’s Global Hawk unmanned aircraft to get an inside look at how hurricanes form and intensify over the Atlantic. The NASA-led project called the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel mission is demonstrating the ability of the Global Hawk to fly over hurricanes to gather continuous weather data on flights that are longer in duration than possible with manned aircraft. In the next three years, NOAA will take the next step with the Global Hawk, leading a new experiment and continuing its important collaboration with NASA. Drawing on technology and expertise honed in the current mission, NOAA will assess the feasibility of regular operations of Global Hawk to improve day-to-day forecasts of severe storms forming over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.
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.