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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Animated Atmosphere

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, April 13, 2018/Categories: natural history, video, space science, sustainability, art and design, environment, climate change


NASA has created an animation using satellite data gathered from the Atomspheric River that has been hitting California over the past 12 days. It is a dramatic visualizaton of how these moisture-rich, weather systems develop. According to the Agency, the weekend downpours in northern California were caused by one such "river" that transported large volumes of moisture towards the State. Such events are vital for replenishing water supplies, when a system makes landfall the moisture is released as rain or snow, contributing between 30-50% of the West Coast's annual precipitation. The latest atmospheric river flowed from the tropical Pacific near Hawaii creating a Pineapple Express. The animation visualizes ten days of moisture data as it increases.

An even larger series of atmospheric rivers hit California in January 2017. They brought so much moisture into the previously drought-stricken state, the water supplies were fully restored. NOAA created a visualization for the first 10 days of the month showing the series of pulses that hit California and West Coast then.

                   Atmospheric River, January 2017 (credit: NOAA's Earth Systems Research Laboratory)

With the continuous use of environmental monitoring satellites now, data visualizations of complex weather systems are increasingly possible and valuable. They will allow for improved predictions of pending hazards like floods, tornadoes, and other extreme weather events.



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