CW3E Fieldwork Season Begins

CW3E Fieldwork Season Begins

January 10, 2018

A team of CW3E postdocs, students, staff, and collaborators headed to Northern California on Sunday, 7 January to begin the winter 2018 fieldwork campaign. Throughout this winter season, CW3E plans to release radiosondes, conduct stream surveys, and collect isotope samples. The campaign aims to continue efforts in understanding atmospheric rivers (ARs) and their impacts on the Russian River Watershed. In support of the Forecast Informed Reservoir Operation (FIRO), hydrometeorological data from the campaign will be used to enhance water resources and flood control operations.

The team is launching from two sites: a coastal site, the UC Davis Bodega Bay Marine Laboratory and an inland site in Ukiah, CA, southwest of Lake Mendocino. These launches are being shared with National Weather Service Weather Forecast Offices in Eureka, Sacramento, and Monterey. Peak launches recorded 511 units integrated water vapor transport (IVT) at Bodega Bay (0000Z 9 January 2018) and 389 units IVT at Ukiah (2100Z 8 January 2018).

A radiosonde launch completed in Bodega Bay (0259Z 9 January 2018) shows a sounding with typical AR conditions.


Note: no orographic enhancement present (NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory)


The Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch (RAMMB) of NOAA/NESDIS and Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRCA)


Leah Campbell and Anna Wilson, Postdocs, prepare to release radiosondes from Bodega Bay


Photograph taken at the mouth of the Russian River after the storm.

Other members of the team have been working on stream installations and measurements, along with isotope sampling. Working with the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA), CW3E has begun inventorying supplies to continue using the stream gauges that were installed during the previous fieldwork season. They have completed discharge measurements at five of the six streams where gauges are deployed, and will complete measurements at the remaining site today.

The team will continue collecting data and releasing radiosondes throughout this event with plans to return to sample ARs as they occur in the coming months. CW3E will also be partnering with NOAA and the U.S. Air Force, as part of the field campaign, for a series of Reconnaissance (Recon) flights into AR events. The AR Recon missions will start on 25 January, and continue through 28 February. In addition to the NOAA G-IV aircraft, flying out of Seattle for three storms, the campaign will also include two Air Force C-130s that will fly through a total of six storms, overlapping with the NOAA G-IV for three storms. These flights are a valuable method in improving the forecasting of AR conditions offshore and can provide enhanced prediction of AR landfall duration and intensity.

CW3E Publication Notice: Flood runoff in relation to water vapor transport by atmospheric rivers over the western United States

CW3E Publication Notice

Flood runoff in relation to water vapor transport by atmospheric rivers over the western United States

December 1, 2017

CW3E long-time collaborator, Mike Dettinger, and USGS colleague, recently published a paper in Geophysical Research Letter titled: Flood runoff in relation to water vapor transport by atmospheric rivers over the western United States.

In the study they analyzed historical flood flows at over 5000 streamgages across the western US in relation to landfalling atmospheric-river storms. Specifically, they focused on the probabilities of floods flows occurring as conditioned by the presence of an atmospheric river and by the water vapor-transport rates in the atmospheric river. Through this analysis they were able to show that stronger the atmospheric river, the more likely are flood flows to develop.

Along the west coast, these peak flows coincide with atmospheric rivers about 80+% of the time, falling off to about 40-50% of the time in southern California, and falling off the farther inland the river basin (with notable regional anomalies, e.g., around Phoenix and in northern Idaho).

Lake Mendocino Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations Steering Committee Submit Major Deviation Request

Lake Mendocino Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations Steering Committee Submit Major Deviation Request

November 15, 2017

On November 2nd members of the Lake Mendocino Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) Steering Committee1 submitted a major deviation request to Lt. Colonel Travis Rayfield, Commander of the San Francisco District, US Army Corps of Engineers. The purpose of the request is to improve water supply reliability and environmental conditions while maintaining flood management capacity of Lake Mendocino.

The deviation request, based on the Lake Mendocino FIRO Preliminary Viability Assessment, represents the culmination of a three-year collaborative effort by the FIRO Steering Committee to produce a significant body of technical and scientific work including watershed and atmospheric observations, atmospheric and hydrologic forecast analyses, and parallel modeling applications. If approved, this deviation would result in a maximum additional storage of 11,650 acre-feet between November 1 and February 28. The figure below shows the existing guide curve for the Coyote Valley Dam Lake Mendocino Water Control Manual and the proposed guide curve with the requested changes.

Existing Lake Mendocino guide curve (red dashed line) and the proposed guide curve with requested changes (blue solid line).

1 The Lake Mendocino FIRO Steering Committee consists of representatives from the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA), Scripps Institute of Oceanography (Scripps), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS), U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources. This deviation request is being submitted on behalf of steering committee members representing the following organizations: Sonoma County Water Agency, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, US Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and California Department of Water Resources.

FIRO Steering Committee Co-Chairs Provide In-depth Briefing to USACE

FIRO Steering Committee Co-Chairs Provide In-depth Briefing to USACE

November 2, 2017

FIRO Steering Committee Co-chairs, Marty Ralph and Jay Jasperse, as well as Steering Committee member Cary Talbot (USACE Engineer Research and Development Center), provided an in-depth briefing to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), South Pacific Division Commanders, at the Regional Management Board meeting on October 24 in Sacramento, CA. The presentation included findings from the Lake Mendocino Preliminary Viability Assessment and the scientific research that is informing the Viability Assessment. The group discussed transferability of FIRO and next steps for completion of the Final Viability Assessment.

Photo from a briefing on FIRO for the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), South Pacific Division Commanders, at the Regional Management Board meeting on October 24 in Sacramento. .

CW3E Field Team Beats the Heat, Installs Meteorology and Hydrology Instruments in Russian River Watershed

CW3E Field Team Beats the Heat, Installs Meteorology and Hydrology Instruments in Russian River Watershed

September 6, 2017

A group of CW3E graduate students, postdocs, and staff worked to install soil moisture, meteorology, and streamflow instruments in the Lake Mendocino watershed August 28 – September 1. Taking extra precautions and shifting work schedules due to California’s triple-digit heat wave, the team installed three soil moisture and surface meteorology arrays and a stream gauge on ranchlands representative of the hilly topography draining into Lake Mendocino. CW3E thanks the landowners who have volunteered to have instruments installed on their properties, as well as Steve Turnbull of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for participating in the installations. Two more soil moisture and meteorology arrays and three more stream gauges are planned to be installed in the watershed prior to the 2017-18 AR season for a total of six soil moisture and meteorology arrays and six stream gauges. The data from these sites will be used to better understand AR meteorological and hydrologic impacts in this region and improve streamflow forecasts on the Russian River.

The field team after completion of the Potter Valley North site: Lindsey Jasperse, Steve Turnbull, Will Chapman, Maryam Asgari-Lamjiri, Douglas Alden, Anna Wilson and Xin Zhang. Not pictured: Julie Kalansky and Brian Henn

Sonoma County Water Agency Board of Directors Chairwoman, Zane, testifies on FIRO before Senate Committee

Sonoma County Water Agency Board of Directors Chairwoman, Zane, testifies on FIRO before Senate Committee

August 2, 2017

CW3E works closely with Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) on the application of atmospheric river science to inform water management practices in the Russian River. SCWA and CW3E are leaders on the Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) project. FIRO is a proposed management strategy that uses data from watershed monitoring and modern weather and water forecasting to help water managers selectively retain or release water from reservoirs in a manner that reflects current and forecasted conditions. FIRO is being developed and tested as a collaborative effort focused on Lake Mendocino that engages experts in civil engineering, hydrology, meteorology, biology, economics and climate from several federal, state and local agencies, universities and others.

Shirlee Zane, SCWA Board of Directors Chairwoman, today testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Water and Power to discuss the many innovative water supply and drought resilience initiatives the Water Agency is currently implementing, including FIRO. The purpose of the hearing was to examine increasing water security and drought preparedness through infrastructure, management and innovation.

“I was honored to testify and share with the committee the innovative water supply management tools the Sonoma County Water Agency is developing and implementing,” said Sonoma County Water Agency Chairwoman Shirlee Zane. “Securing our water future means thinking outside of the box and not being afraid to lead by example. That is exactly what the Water Agency continues to do as we develop first-class initiatives with our partners. Our investment in water innovation can be replicated across the nation. I am excited to share our experiences to help build innovation in the water industry.” Zane highlighted FIRO, amongst the many innovative water management programs the Water Agency is currently implementing.

For more information on FIRO: Click here

For video of the briefing click here.

American Geophysical Union Publishes Collection of Atmospheric River Publications in Geophysical Research Letters

American Geophysical Union Publishes Collection of Atmospheric River Publications in Geophysical Research Letters

July 27, 2017

The American Geophysical Union recently published a special hand selected collection of papers on atmospheric rivers that have been published in Geophysical Research Letters.​​

Atmospheric rivers are a relatively new phenomena in atmospheric science that have become a popular subject of meteorological, hydrological, and climatological research due to their influence on global moisture transport, extreme precipitation, flooding, drought mitigation, and water supply. The collection in GRL highlights the research that has been published over the past three decades beginning with Newell et al’s seminal paper, which introduced the term “tropospheric river.”

Papers from numerous CW3E researchers and collaborators are featured in the collection which discuss topics ranging from extreme precipitation to the influence of climate change on atmospheric river characteristics. The collection of papers can be found here

CW3E Begins Installation of Instrumentation in the Russian River Watershed

CW3E Begins Installation of Instrumentation in the Russian River Watershed

July 7, 2017

CW3E began its summer fieldwork campaign in the Russian River watershed last week with the installation of surface meteorology, soil moisture and streamflow instruments. Pictured are CW3E members and collaborators from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Sonoma County Water Agency after installing soil moisture sensors on the Corps’ property at Lake Mendocino. The observations from the fieldwork campaign will provide information on precipitation, soil moisture and streamflow during cool-season atmospheric rivers (ARs) that produce the majority of the inflows to Lake Mendocino. The reservoir is a focus of the Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations project, which assesses the potential to enhance water resources and flood control operations with hydrometeorological forecast data. The surface meteorology and hydrology data from the field campaign will complement additional observations of the atmosphere made by CW3E, NOAA and other project collaborators.​​

CW3E members and collaborators stand near the finished instrumentation tower with Lake Mendocino in the background. From left to right: Chad Hecht (CW3E), Will Chapman (CW3E), Kyle Evans (Sonoma County Water Agency), Steve Turnbull (US Army Corps of Engineers), Anna Wilson (CW3E), Douglas Alden (CW3E).

CW3E Participates in Western States Water Council Visit to UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Lab

CW3E Participates in Western States Water Council Visit to UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Lab

July 1, 2017

CW3E members were on hand recently at UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Lab to introduce some of the key instrumentation located there to sample atmospheric rivers (ARs). The audience included members of the Western States Water Council (WSWC), California Department of Water Resources (DWR), and Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA). The audience toured state-of-the-art onsite instrumentation and learned about its significance for forecasting and research into ARs. This instrumentation included the Atmospheric River Observatory, which was installed as part of the California Enhanced Flood Response and Emergency Preparedness network (partners include DWR, NOAA, and Scripps), and has been making observations consistently at this location since 2004, as well as instrumentation installed during the past winter by CW3E to observe surface microphysics and vertical precipitation structure. CW3E collaborator Bruce Cornuelle gave a talk on the importance of ocean observations for numerical weather prediction at all scales, including subseasonal to seasonal. The conclusion of the visit featured a demonstration radiosonde release at Bodega Bay. 275 sondes in total were released by CW3E during historically wet Jan-Mar 2017 at the Bodega Marine Lab as well as an inland location to assess water vapor transport by ARs as they move inland and interact with the terrain.

Fig.1. Bruce Cornuelle gives a talk on the importance of ocean observations for numerical weather prediction and subseasonal to seasonal forecasting. Image also includes a model of an ARGO float (http://argo.ucsd.edu/). Photo courtesy CA DWR.

Fig.2. CW3E (a), WSWC (b), and SCWA (c) members before the demonstration radiosonde launch.
Photos courtesy CA DWR.

Points of contact: Anna Wilson, Marty Ralph.

CW3E AR Update: 06 June 2017 Outlook

CW3E AR Update: 06 June 2017 Outlook

June 06, 2017

Click here for a pdf of this information.

Update on Late Season AR Forecast to Impact West Coast This Week

  • Little change from yesterday’s forecast
  • Ensemble GFS members are still in good agreement of the onset, duration, and maximum magnitude of coastal IVT
  • NOAA WPC precipitation forecasts are predicting as much as 4.2 inches over the Coastal Mountains of Northern CA and OR
  • A few rivers in the Cascade Range of WA and OR are forecast to rise to action or flood stage due to melting snow and the landfalling AR

Click IVT or IWV image to see loop of 0-114 hour GFS forecast

Valid 1200 UTC 06 June – 0600 UTC 11 June 2017


 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary provided by C. Hecht and F.M. Ralph; 12 PM PT Tuesday 06 June 2017