Atmospheric Rivers: Understanding and Mitigating the Impact of Strong Storms

Scientists are racing to understand and measure the increasing strength of atmospheric river storms. These powerful storms, fueled by the climate crisis, bring both chaos and opportunity. By deploying instruments to measure atmospheric rivers, scientists are improving weather forecasts and providing early warnings to communities.


Measuring Atmospheric Rivers: A Race Against Time

Scientists are deploying tools to measure atmospheric rivers during powerful storms. By releasing instruments from planes and attaching them to balloons, scientists can gather key intelligence about these storms.

These small but mighty devices help scientists improve weather forecasts as the climate crisis intensifies storms. By understanding atmospheric rivers, water managers can plan ahead and communities can receive early warnings to prepare for the potential destructive floods.

The recent storm in California caused significant damage and loss of life. By studying atmospheric rivers, scientists aim to expand the accuracy of weather predictions and mitigate the impact of future storms.

The Growing Threat of Atmospheric Rivers

Atmospheric rivers have always played a role in weather systems, but the warming oceans are making them stronger and more dangerous.

These moisture-filled systems can cause devastating floods, as seen in the recent storm in California that caused $11 billion in damage and economic loss.

Scientists are racing to better understand and predict these storms as they become more destructive. By studying the complex interactions between the ocean, atmosphere, and land, scientists hope to gain invaluable insights on how, when, and where these storms will strike.

Advancements in Measuring Atmospheric Rivers

Research into atmospheric rivers has significantly grown in the past three decades. However, there is still much to learn about these systems, especially as their dangers increase.

Scientists are using advanced technologies, such as dropsondes and radiosondes, to gather data directly from inside the storm systems. Dropsondes, attached to small parachutes, provide crucial observations as they fall through the clouds. Radiosondes released from the ground complement these measurements.

New methods, like airborne radio occultation (ARO), also help scientists obtain a more complete picture of incoming storms. ARO sensors attached to airplanes measure properties like moisture and temperature, aiding in the understanding and prediction of atmospheric rivers.


Mitigating the Impact of Atmospheric River Storms

With flood risks increasing in California and other arid parts of the American west, precise measurements and predictions are essential for mitigating the worst disasters.

By understanding the intensity and patterns of atmospheric rivers, scientists can develop strategies to adapt to climate change and reduce the impact of future storms.

Scientists are working towards climate mitigation by continuously improving tools to measure and predict atmospheric rivers. These efforts aim to provide better adaptation strategies for humans in the face of the changing climate.