NASA scientists say satellite remote sensing can help determine when water will fall from the sky several weeks in advance. It can pinpoint how much water is available in snowpack and how much water is available in the ground. It’s crucial information during California’s drought.
Duane Waliser is a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He’s using satellite remote sensing to predict a tropical weather pattern that produces heavy precipitation. It’s known as an “atmospheric river.”
“One of these rivers transports as much water at any given time as about five to ten Mississippi Rivers, so it’s very significant, and about 20-to-30 percent of that often ends up in the form of precipitation.”
Scientists can now forecast the weather pattern as much as four weeks in advance. The Department of Water Resources says the information will help the state better prepare and respond during droughts.
Last year, California saw everything from intense drought to torrential rain. Researchers and water agencies say that the future of the state’s drought depends on adapting to these shifts.
As the drought dries up California’s wetlands, traveling birds such as ducks, geese and eagles are struggling to survive and breed. “This drought is bad. The odds are against us,” a state expert said.
Drought resilience depends on location but also extraordinary engineering — determining which California places are running out of water this year and which remain in good shape.
About 4,300 users were issued notices to halt diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Experts say the current drought is hotter and drier than previous ones, meaning water is evaporating faster.
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