A New U.S. West Coast Network of Atmospheric River Observatories
Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
The West Coast of North America is the gateway to winter storms forming over the Pacific Ocean that deliver most of the precipitation and water supply to the region. Satellites are capable of detecting the concentrated water vapor in these storms (a.k.a. atmospheric rivers) over the oceans, but because of the complex emissivity of land surfaces, fail to do so over land. In addition, these storms often are accompanied by a baroclinically induced low-level jet that drives the moisture up the windward slopes of coastal and inland mountain ranges and produces orographically enhanced precipitation. To date, satellites cannot resolve this important feature. NOAA’s Hydrometeorology Testbed (HMT; hmt.noaa.gov) has developed the concept of an atmospheric river observatory (ARO); a collection of ground-based instruments capable of detecting and monitoring the water vapor transport in the low-level jet region. With funding provided by the California Department of Water Resources and U.S. Department of Energy, HMT has installed a picket fence of AROs along the U.S. West Coast. In addition, HMT has developed an award-winning water vapor flux tool that takes advantage of the data collected by the AROs to provide situational awareness and decision support for end users. This tool recently has been updated to include operational weather prediction output. The ARO network and water vapor flux tool will be described in this presentation.