March 21 Luncheon Topic
New Forecast Techniques Promise Better Capture of Atmospheric River Rains
F. Martin Ralph, Ph.D.
UC San Diego/Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Last Days to Register!
Plan Now to Attend
Just a few hundred miles wide, atmospheric rivers stretch over thousands of miles, from the tropical oceans to the poles, carrying up to 20 times as much water as the Mississippi River. That moisture gets tugged along by the windy paddle wheels of spinning storms ahead of its path. When the atmospheric rivers make landfall, they can release a staggering amount of rain and snow.
But despite their destructive potential, atmospheric rivers are vital to the West Coast’s way of life. They account for 30-50% of our annual precipitation. Lately, fewer atmospheric rivers have reached California, which is partly responsible for the state’s severe drought. Experts aren’t sure if the numbers will ever return to normal.
Scientists are now working to unravel their physics so they can provide better forecasts, now and in a future, hotter world. “They make or break precipitation in places like California,” says Marty Ralph, an atmospheric scientist at the University of California, San Diego, and director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes.
In recent years, Ralph has been working on a project called “Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations” (FIRO), a proposed strategy exploring how to incorporate improved forecasting about atmospheric rivers into West Coast reservoir operations.
The first testbed for this improved hydrometeorological forecasting has been Northern California’s Lake Mendocino, a large reservoir in Mendocino County, northeast of Ukiah. Lessons from that study are now being applied to explore the potential viability of FIRO for our local Prado Reservoir.
Join us this month as Marty Ralph provides an overview of the creation of the Lake Mendocino FIRO and a summary of its Preliminary Viability Assessment. A look ahead to activities related to Prado Reservoir, and description of the next steps to come in conjunction with OCWD and the United States Army Corp of Engineers will be summarized as well.
OCWA Members with Reservations: $30.00
Non-Members with Reservations: $45.00
OCWA Members without Reservations: $45.00 (at the door)
Non-Members without Reservations: $45.00 (at the door)
Reservations must be made by end-of-day, March 20,
to qualify for the Reservation Rate.
Cancellations received AFTER this date CANNOT be refunded.
About Our Speaker
F. Martin Ralph, Ph.D.
Dr. F. Martin Ralph is a Researcher at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and is the founding Director of the “Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes” (cw3e.ucsd.edu). He is a scientist, manager, and program developer who focuses on developing and carrying out programs that bridge science and its applications to practical problems, especially related to information on extreme weather events and associated issues in precipitation, drought and flood. He has published over 100 scientific articles, received several awards and is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.
His technical background is in atmospheric science (PhD. from UCLA, 1992; BS from University of Arizona, 1984) focused on understanding the physical processes that create extremes in precipitation ranging from flood to drought, and on advancing associated observations, predictions, climate projections and decision support tools. A primary topic has been atmospheric rivers and their role in mid latitude precipitation.
Graphic from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Click on graphic to view it in full size.