For GSS Energy Flow chapter 7. Excerpt: new NASA-led study of "atmospheric river" storms from the Pacific Ocean may help scientists better predict major winter snowfalls that hit West Coast mountains and lead to heavy spring runoff and sometimes flooding. Atmospheric rivers -- short-lived wind tunnels that carry water vapor from tropical oceans to mid-latitude land areas -- are prolific producers of rain and snow on California's Sierra Nevada mountains. ...An atmospheric river is a narrow stream of wind, about a mile high and sometimes of hurricane strength. Crossing the warm tropical Pacific in a few days, it becomes laden with water vapor. A moderate-sized atmospheric river carries as much water as the Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf of Mexico in an average week. When the river comes ashore and stalls over higher terrain, the water falls as snow or rain. "Atmospheric rivers are the bridge between climate and West Coast snow," said [Bin Guan of the Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineerin]. "If scientists can predict these atmospheric patterns with reasonable lead times, we'll have a better understanding of water availability and flooding in the region." The benefit of improving flood prediction alone would be significant. A single California atmospheric-river storm in 1999 caused 15 deaths and $570 million in damage. Guan's team used data from the JPL-developed Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite, ...http://airs.jpl.nasa.gov.... http://www.nasa.gov/press/2013/november/study-finds-climate-link-to-atmospheric-river-storms/. NASA RELEASE 13-329.
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