Flights Into The Stratosphere Study Changes To Atmospheric Rivers



Is the global pandemic making. You wish you could take a quick break from planet earth. Our next story will help you do to stop over the past six months. Scientists have been flying high over the Pacific Ocean into the stratosphere to study weather phenomena called Atmospheric rivers these rivers in the sky can deliver huge amounts of rain and snow to the West Coast and they may be getting more intense. Npr's Nathan join them for a flight. Confession I don't always pay attention to preflight briefings you know the whole insert buckle seatbelt thing. But most flights don't have emergency masks with compressed air pressure you'll need like coordinator returning says because if something goes wrong above forty thousand feet here get sucked out of your lines okay. He's got my full attention heading like just about everyone else on this flight. Works for Noah the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They're wearing smurfs. Blue flight suits with patches that read Hurricane Hunter because these are the folks if light through hurricanes when it's that time of the year this like far over the northeast Pacific Ocean shouldn't be nearly as bumpy because collecting data on atmospheric rivers is a little less invasive instead of flying through the band of moisture will fly over it at about forty one thousand feet just shy of where you can see the curvature of the earth. The weather event we're studying is far below. But let's have the expert on the jet. Explain starting with you know what the heck is an atmospheric river. Yeah sure so. They're basically like a river in the sky. Which is why that name got coins? And Wilson is with the scripts institution of Oceanography. So it's sort of a long narrow corridor of strong Moisture Transport so lasted water vapor and lots of wins mostly at low levels water vapor that starts in the humid tropics and then snakes its way across the ocean until it hits a landmass like a river hitting a damn that collision can be good and that brings much needed water to places like California but it can also be bad. Because when Wilson says lots of water vapor she means lots and atmospheric river on average can transport as much water as a twenty five Mississippi of Earth Atmospheric rivers are to blame for flooding events in California Washington and Oregon just about every year and scientists expect strong ones to increase in frequency with the warming climate similar to hurricanes because warmer air can hold more water hence the need to better understand with heading coordinating over the radio to know engineers at the back of the jet ready. A piece of data collecting equipment called a drops out the packing tape on there. The Drop Zone Jeff. Hart burgers hand is about the size and shape of to soda cans stacked on top of each other. He loads it into a shoot near the back of the jet. Careful not to touch the exposed sensors on its top and other engineer Stephen. Paul readies released switch. Paul flips a switch valve on the bottom of the plane opens sucking the sensor out and ripping open a parachute. The sensor will fall for more than fifteen minutes through the Atmospheric River below beaming back data. Along the way data that will be used to improve weather forecasts immediately and data that will help. Scientists better understand atmospheric rivers into the future eighth UNWRAP NPR

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