Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



EARTH OBSERVATION
NASA Estimates the Global Reach of Atmospheric Rivers
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Nov 01, 2017


This visualization uses satellite data to show the movement of water vapor and precipitation as an atmospheric river slams into California. New research extends scientists' understanding of the impact of these events on a global scale. Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio - see detailed gif animation image here

A recent study by NASA and several partners has estimated, for the first time, the global impact of atmospheric rivers on floods and droughts, as well as the number of people affected by these atmospheric phenomena.

Atmospheric rivers are relatively long, narrow, short-lived jets of air that transport water vapor across significant portions of Earth's mid-latitude oceans, onto the continents and into Earth's polar regions.

Previous studies recognized that atmospheric rivers can have profound effects on precipitation, floods and snowpack on land - collectively known as hydrology - but these studies were limited to very specific regions. The new study is a first attempt to determine how extensively atmospheric rivers affect global hydrology.

Like tropical cyclones, atmospheric rivers are a form of extreme weather that affects many areas of the globe. The new study conservatively estimates that, on average, at least 300 million people around the world are exposed to floods and droughts linked to atmospheric rivers each year. And while the percentage of Earth's population affected by atmospheric river storms is relatively small, their effects are quite significant.

The study authors found that globally, precipitation from atmospheric rivers contributes 22 percent of the total water that flows across Earth's land surfaces. In certain regions - such as the west and east coasts of North America; Southeast Asia; and New Zealand - that contribution can exceed 50 percent.

These impacts come from just a handful of atmospheric river storms each year. Around the world, in places where their influence is strongest, atmospheric rivers make floods and droughts far more likely - increasing the occurrence of floods by 80 percent in those areas, while their absence may increase the occurrence of droughts by up to 90 percent.

Earlier research on atmospheric rivers focused largely on two types of impacts from these systems. First, early studies in the 1990s noted that these storms are responsible for the vast majority of water vapor transported to Earth's higher latitudes, helping to shape the climate and water cycle of the polar regions.

Second, most atmospheric river studies in the past decade have primarily focused on the impacts they bring to western North America and western Europe. The studies found that atmospheric rivers are responsible for most flooding events, as well as recoveries from drought, in these regions, and also that just a dozen or so storms drop 40 percent of California's annual water supply.

"This new work quantifies the potential impacts of atmospheric rivers on important freshwater quantities, such as snowpack, soil moisture and the occurrence of droughts and floods across the globe," said study co-author Duane Waliser, chief scientist of the Earth Science and Technology Directorate at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "The findings provide added impetus for considering improvements to our observing and modeling systems that are used for forecasting atmospheric rivers."

For this research, the scientists used a database of atmospheric rivers (previously developed by the study co-authors) to model the amount of water these moisture-laden jets contribute to variations in stream flow, soil moisture and snowpack. Next, they identified regions where atmospheric rivers play a major role in influencing floods and droughts. They then calculated the number of people exposed to these hydrologic hazards due to atmospheric rivers.

"By incorporating demographic data into our study, we have found that, globally, a large number of people are exposed to hazards that stem from atmospheric rivers," said study lead author Homero Paltan. (Paltan is currently a graduate student at the University of Oxford in England, but began work on the study during a summer internship at JPL in 2016.) "They have a considerable impact that we're only beginning to understand and measure."

While many areas experience either drought or flooding as impacts of atmospheric rivers, Paltan said, in some places, rivers can bring both of these hazards. For example, people in the Iberian Peninsula (in Spain and Portugal), northern Iran, the Yellow River Valley in China, and areas of Australia and New Zealand might be exposed to droughts like the one California recently experienced. "Yet at the same time, in these and other areas around the globe, atmospheric rivers also represent a major source of flood risk."

The research was published online recently by the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

EARTH OBSERVATION
When surrounding farms get hot and dry, cities cool off
Washington (UPI) Oct 26, 2017
Until now, scientists thought city temperatures knew just one direction - up. Many studies have documented what's known as the heat island effect, but new research shows some cities, especially in India, benefit from an urban cooling phenomenon. Usually suburban and rural land, with more vegetation, experience more cooling than cities, where concrete buildings and paved roads bake in t ... read more

Related Links
JPL
Earth Observation News - Suppiliers, Technology and Application


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

EARTH OBSERVATION
Pope asks spacemen life's big questions in ISS live chat

Plants and psychological well-being in space

Spacewalkers fix robotic arm in time to grab next cargo ship

NASA develops and tests new housing for in-orbit science payloads

EARTH OBSERVATION
Thruster for Mars mission breaks records

Draper and Sierra Nevada Corporation announce new agreement for space missions

Aerojet Rocketdyne breaks ground on advanced manufacturing center in Huntsville

New solid rocket motor development facility completed at Spaceport America

EARTH OBSERVATION
Mars Rover Mission Progresses Toward Resumed Drilling

Solar eruptions could electrify Martian moons

MAVEN finds Mars has a twisted tail

Mine craft for Mars

EARTH OBSERVATION
Space will see Communist loyalty: Chinese astronaut

China launches three satellites

Mars probe to carry 13 types of payload on 2020 mission

UN official commends China's role in space cooperation

EARTH OBSERVATION
Myanmar to launch own satellite system-2 in 2019: vice president

Eutelsat's Airbus-built full electric EUTELSAT 172B satellite reaches geostationary orbit

Turkey, Russia to Enhance Cooperation in the Field of Space Technologies

SpaceX launches 10 satellites for Iridium mobile network

EARTH OBSERVATION
Liquids take a shine to terahertz radiation

Voltage-driven liquid metal fractals

Nanoscale textures make glass invisible

Discovery of a new structure family of oxide-ion conductors SrYbInO4

EARTH OBSERVATION
Scientists discover new type of deep-sea hunting called kleptopredation

Comet mission reveals 'missing link' in our understanding of planet formation

Astronomers discover sunscreen snow falling on hot exoplanet

Marine microbes living beneath seabed resort to cannibalism

EARTH OBSERVATION
Haumea, the most peculiar of Pluto companions, has a ring around it

Ring around a dwarf planet detected

Helicopter test for Jupiter icy moons radar

Solving the Mystery of Pluto's Giant Blades of Ice




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement