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Topic: Sierra Nevada

NASA study shows Loss of Water in Sierras caused Mountain Range to grow taller

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Loss of water from the rocks of California’s Sierra Nevada caused the mountain range to rise nearly an inch (24 millimeters) in height during the drought years from October 2011 to October 2015, a new NASA study finds.

In the two following years of more abundant snow and rainfall, the mountains have regained about half as much water in the rock as they had lost in the preceding drought and have fallen about half an inch (12 millimeters) in height.

“This suggests that the solid Earth has a greater capacity to store water than previously thought,” said research scientist Donald Argus of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who led the study.

The Sierra Nevada range rose almost an inch during California's recent drought due to loss of water from within fractured rocks. (trailkrum, CC-BY-2.0)

The Sierra Nevada range rose almost an inch during California’s recent drought due to loss of water from within fractured rocks. (trailkrum, CC-BY-2.0)

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NASA’s AIRS Instrument Tracks Series of Storms Battering California

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A series of atmospheric rivers that brought drought-relieving rains, heavy snowfall and flooding to California this week is highlighted in a new movie created with satellite data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

The images of atmospheric water vapor were collected by AIRS between January 7th and 11th. They show the amount of moisture present in the atmosphere and its movement across the Pacific Ocean to the United States, where much of it fell as rain or snow.

A series of atmospheric rivers that brought drought-relieving rains, heavy snowfall and flooding to California this week is highlighted in a new movie created with satellite data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A series of atmospheric rivers that brought drought-relieving rains, heavy snowfall and flooding to California this week is highlighted in a new movie created with satellite data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Study reveals Sierra Snow can be reduced by Atmospheric River Storms

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new study by NASA and several partners has found that in California’s Sierra Nevada, atmospheric river storms are two-and-a-half times more likely than other types of winter storms to result in destructive “rain-on-snow” events, where rain falls on existing snowpack, causing it to melt. Those events increase flood risks in winter and reduce water availability the following summer.

The study, based on NASA satellite and ground-based data from 1998 through 2014, is the first to establish a climatological connection between atmospheric river storms and rain-on-snow events. Partnering with NASA on the study were UCLA; Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego; and the Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado.

Rain falling on snow. (Flickr user Malcolm Peacey, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Rain falling on snow. (Flickr user Malcolm Peacey, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory completes test, produces First Global Maps

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – With its antenna now spinning at full speed, NASA’s new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory has successfully re-tested its science instruments and generated its first global maps, a key step to beginning routine science operations next month.

SMAP launched January 31st on a minimum three-year mission to map global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or thawed. The mission will help scientists understand the links among Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles; help reduce uncertainties in predicting weather and climate; and enhance our ability to monitor and predict natural hazards such as floods and droughts.

SMAP radar image acquired from data from March 31 to April 3, 2015. Weaker radar signals (blues) reflect low soil moisture or lack of vegetation, such as in deserts. Strong radar signals (reds) are seen in forests. SMAP's radar also takes data over the ocean and sea ice. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

SMAP radar image acquired from data from March 31 to April 3, 2015. Weaker radar signals (blues) reflect low soil moisture or lack of vegetation, such as in deserts. Strong radar signals (reds) are seen in forests. SMAP’s radar also takes data over the ocean and sea ice. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

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NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory data reveals California Tuolumne Snowpack 40 percent less water than 2014

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New NASA data find the snowpack in the Tuolumne River Basin in California’s Sierra Nevada — a major source of water for millions of Californians — currently contains just 40 percent as much water as it did near this time at its highest level of 2014, one of the two driest years in California’s recorded history.

The data was acquired through a partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts.

Spatial distribution of the total volume of water in the snowpack across the Tuolumne River Basin on March 25, 2015 (left) and April 7, 2014 (right) as measured by NASA's Airborne Snow Observatory. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Spatial distribution of the total volume of water in the snowpack across the Tuolumne River Basin on March 25, 2015 (left) and April 7, 2014 (right) as measured by NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA estimates water and snowpack weight in California’s Sierra Nevada using GPS

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – For the first time, NASA scientists have used GPS to find the total weight of winter snowpack and soil moisture in California’s Sierra Nevada. The new results complement other satellite measurements and could provide a reality check for computer models used to estimate the state’s water and snowpack.

A team led by Donald Argus of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, studied data from 1,069 GPS research sites in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, extending back to 2006.

A GPS station in the mountains of Oregon. (Wikimedia Commons)

A GPS station in the mountains of Oregon. (Wikimedia Commons)

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NASA uses satellites, aircraft, and high-altitude balloons to investigate California’s extreme drought

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – California is supposed to be the Golden State.  Make that golden brown.

The entire west coast of the United States is changing color as the deepest drought in more than a century unfolds.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NOAA, dry conditions have become extreme across more than 62% of California’s land area—and there is little relief in sight.

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