“Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow bands in the atmosphere that transport water vapor, like a river in the sky.” Potentially loaded with more than twice the water of the Amazon River, atmospheric rivers can produce major amounts of rainfall.
Stretching from warm tropical areas near the equator to the poles, these watery highways playing a significant role in the Earth’s water cycle and often contribute to extreme weather events like intense flooding and snowstorms. This 2020 Scripps Institution of Oceanography video explains.
These events can have positive and detrimental effects on the environment and communities, depending on factors like the timing, intensity, and geographical location. Understanding them aids in predicting and preparing extreme weather, as well as managing water storage, distribution, flood control, drought preparedness, and ecological considerations. From the video:
“Atmospheric rivers are responsible for up to half of California’s annual precipitation. Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography have developed a new system that rates atmospheric rivers on a scale of 1 to 5. The rating system helps identify atmospheric rivers that are beneficial, such as as those that replenish reservoirs, and ones that produce hazards like flooding.”
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