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Legislation to Expand Atmospheric River Research Program Heads to Governor’s Desk for Signature

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Atmospheric river patterns can help scientists better understand climate change and the environmental implications too much or too little water can have in California. AB 30, introduced by Assemblymember Chris Ward, aims to broaden the atmospheric river program administered through the Department of Water Resources to connect reservoir and flood control operations with best practices in prediction modeling to optimize water management, increase storage, and reduce flood risk. The bill is now headed to Governor Newsom for his consideration. 

“We now have the ability to predict where and when atmospheric rivers will lead to precipitation, as well as how much it will produce thanks to new developments in this research,” said Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego). “Linking best practices to these new developments will help our water managers better prepare for the future in the event of another drought, beneficial increases in snowpack, or excess rain that leads to flooding.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, about 30 to 50 percent of annual precipitation in the west coast states occurs in just a few atmospheric river events. A well-known example is the "Pineapple Express," a strong atmospheric river that is capable of bringing moisture from the tropics near Hawaii over to the U.S. West Coast. Scientists use satellite, radar, aircraft and other tools to better understand atmospheric rivers and their importance to both weather and climate.

“Climate change is throwing more extremes in weather at us in California,” said Dr. Marty Ralph, Director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes. “One of the things we can do is try to adapt to it, and there’s a lot of interest in adaptation strategies. Better atmospheric river forecasts help forecast informed reservoir operations (FIRO) be viable, allowing reservoir operators to use existing infrastructure to manage the extremes more effectively.”