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Aerosols, Atmospheric Rivers, and California Reservoirs

Aircraft in the skies, a ship on the ocean, and sites on the ground will let researchers gather data to improve what we know about precipitation

News Release

January 16, 2015 Share This!

  • The Ron Brown set sail from a Hawaiian harbor. Loaded with data-gathering instruments, it will take measurements below atmospheric rivers while aircraft fly above them.

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SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA — In the midst of the California rainy season, scientists are embarking on a field campaign designed to improve the understanding of the natural and human-caused phenomena that determine when and how the state gets its precipitation. They will do so by studying atmospheric rivers, meteorological events that include the famous rainmaker known as the Pineapple Express.

CalWater 2015 is an interagency, interdisciplinary field campaign starting January 14, 2015. CalWater 2015 will entail four research aircraft flying through major storms while a ship outfitted with additional instruments cruises below. The research team includes scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, NOAA, and NASA and uses resources from the DOE's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility, a national scientific user facility.

The two-month-long study will help provide a better understanding of how California gets its rain and snow, how human activities are influencing precipitation, and how the new science provides potential to inform water management decisions relating to drought and flood.

"We are collecting this data to improve computer models of rain that represent many complex processes and their interactions with the environment," said PNNL's Ruby Leung, who leads the DOE-funded portion. "Atmospheric rivers contribute most of the heavy rains along the coast and mountains in the West. We want to capture those events better in our climate models used to project changes in extreme events in the future."

Read the entire release from Scripps here.

Tags: Environment, Fundamental Science, Climate Science, Atmospheric Science, Aerosols, Meteorology

PNNL LogoInterdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science. Founded in 1965, PNNL employs 4,400 staff and has an annual budget of nearly $1 billion. It is managed and operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. As the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information on PNNL, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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