KPCC’s Take Two interviewed Daniel Swain, climate scientist within UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, about atmospheric rivers, concentrated plumes of water vapor in the atmosphere that can bring heavy rainfall. In the segment, Swain explained that these occurrences are likely to become more intense as the climate warms, increasing the risk of major flooding events in the state of California.
UCLA research funded in part by the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge indicates that California’s climate is likely to alternate between extremely wet and extremely dry periods – a phenomena coined as “climate whiplash.” Swain explains: “Even if California’s climate doesn’t necessarily become wetter on average, our rain is expected to come in increasingly-short but very sharp bursts, so the risk of floods associated with atmospheric rivers is likely to increase…”
Atmospheric rivers are part of features of climate models for the region which will be essential for planning for regional resiliency.
Listen to Swain’s interview at the 25:26 minute mark of KPCC’s Take Two.