Never mind those earthquakes: Atmospheric rivers could put Sacramento 30 feet under water

July 9, 2019
Candice Wang
The Sacramento Bee

The biggest freshwater rivers on Earth don’t flow along the planet’s surface.

Instead, they surge and whip through the atmosphere thousands of feet above our heads, carrying 2½ times the amount of water that gushes through the Amazon River at any given time.

They’re called atmospheric rivers, or, more aptly, rivers in the sky.

These rivers are capable of burying Sacramento under 30 feet of water.

A research team led by Sasha Gershunov at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego published a new study on atmospheric rivers in Nature Scientific Reports this week that places atmospheric rivers under scrutiny as the driving cause behind California’s increasingly extreme, infrequent bouts of precipitation.

Gershunov’s team used 16 global climate models to analyze the expanding role of atmospheric rivers as contributors to precipitation in California. The results show that atmospheric rivers are getting stronger and wetter, and catastrophic events like the Great Flood of 1862 could happen again.

Read more here.

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