background image

What is an atmospheric river? A hydrologist explains the good and bad of these flood-prone storms and how they’re changing

author image

By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on The Conversation or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Atmospheric rivers are narrow corridors of concentrated water vapor in the atmosphere, resembling sky-bound rivers, and can produce intense rainfall or snowfall
These phenomena are essential for water supply but also pose significant flood risks, especially when occurring consecutively as "AR families"

🔭 The context: Forming over warm tropical oceans and guided by jet streams, atmospheric rivers are common in mid-latitudes
They play a crucial role in transporting moisture and are particularly impactful along the U.S. West Coast, where they contribute significantly to annual precipitation and snowpack, crucial for water resources

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: While atmospheric rivers are vital for ending droughts and supplying water, their increasing intensity and frequency due to global warming pose challenges
They contribute to extreme weather events, affecting water management, reservoir regulation, and climate resilience.

⏭️ What's next: Research focuses on improving atmospheric river forecasts and understanding their evolving patterns under climate change
This knowledge is vital for water management and preparing for the increased risk of flooding and water variability.

💬 One quote: "Atmospheric rivers have been responsible for ending more than a third of the region’s major droughts, including the severe California drought of 2012-16." - Research Hydrologist

📈 One stat: Atmospheric rivers provide 30% to 50% of the West Coast’s annual precipitation and contribute about 30% to 40% of the Sierra Nevada’s seasonal snow accumulation.

Click for more news covering the latest on environmental sustainability


Did you enjoy this illuminem voice? Support us by sharing this article!
author photo

About the author

illuminem's editorial team - providing you with concise summaries of the most important sustainability news of the day.

Follow us on Linkedin, Twitter​ & Instagram

Other illuminem Voices

Related Posts

You cannot miss it!

Weekly. Free. Your Top 10 Sustainability & Energy Posts.

You can unsubscribe at any time (read our privacy policy)