Natural Resources and Science

Natural Resources and Science

News articles ranging from water and energy issues, and restoration projects to science and technology are found here.

Atmospheric Rivers (AR) are long corridors of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere. They usually appear at altitudes of about one mile above the earth's surface, flowing for thousands of miles, and on average are 400-600 km wide. ARs can create extreme rainfall and floods, disrupt travel, trigger mud slides, and cause catastrophic loss of life and property. 

According to a Jan. 2013 Scientific American article, this atmospheric phenomenon was discovered about 15 years ago and given the name "atmospheric river" by researchers Yong Zhu and Reginald Newell who, "...noticed an odd feature in simulations of global wind and water vapor patterns that had been made by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts."

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOOA) website, "Most flooding events that occur along the west coast of North America in winter are associated with the landfall of AR conditions." Although ARs can be detected by satellite instruments, a specialized atmospheric river observatory, or ARO, (see photo above/credit NOOA) has been developed which includes instrumentation uniquely adapted for capturing AR data. The Eureka Office of the National Weather Service, on Woodley Island, is slated to receive an ARO this coming January.

Just before Halloween KMUD News traveled to Woodley Island to learn more about Atmospheric Rivers and AR observatories.

Use the player below to hear this story, submitted by KMUD Community Journalist Bob Froehlich. This piece aired on KMUD Local News on Tues., Nov. 5, 2013 and includes interviews with National Weather Service Meterologist in Charge, Nancy Dean,  and Mel Nordquist, Science and Operations Officer.

The entire 25 minute extended interview can be heard below.


Mobile AR Observatory. Credit: NOAA

Additional Resources:

Photos/top to bottom: entrance to the NWS Woodley Island Facility, view of the facility's "Command Center", and meterologists Mel Nordquist and Nancy Dean.



Update: Fri., Oct., 25, 2013 - Audio added, including an interview with Pat Higgins, Eel River Recovery Project Volunteer Coordinator.

Another fish count in the Eel River will take place this Sat., Oct. 26. The orientation will begin at 8:30 AM, at the River Lodge in Fortuna. Volunteers are welcome and, if interested, should contact Pat Higgins, at (707) 223-7200. See photos and more information about the fish survey in the original post of this story below.

Use the player below to hear the Pat Higgins interview. This piece was submitted and aired on the KMUD Local News Thurs., Oct 24, 2013 by News Anchor Christina Aanestad.

The original post on this story appears below.

Around 20 volunteers met at River Lodge in Fortuna on Saturday morning, Oct, 12, ready to embark on their Lower Eel River Fall 2013 Chinook Census Dive. This dive, sponsored by the Eel River Recovery Project (ERRP) and several other groups, covered the Lower Eel River, including 12th Street, Boxcar, Drake, and Worswick Pools - shown in the map above. According to USGS data, the flow of the Eel River at Scotia, before the September 20 rain, was down to 50 cfs, but subsequent rainfall brought flows up, making for ideal dive conditions on October 12. Click here for the complete pdf version of the report and here for additional spectacular photos.
The dive team counted 1854 fall Chinook in pools ranging from the Van Duzen River to just above Fernbridge. These numbers were similar to last year's count. In addition to Chinook, 15 adult steelhead and 90 half pounders were counted. Chinook salmon were more numerous in the 12th Street Pool and Van Duzen/Eel convergence than in pools or runs further downstream. No Coho were seen in this first fall dive.

According to the report, lessons learned in this dive include:

  • The rise of the Eel River with the September 20 rain event and the September 30-October 1 storm was sufficient for dispersal upstream and access to the lower Eel River pools for adult and jack Chinook salmon. Flows were also optimal for the dive (<200 cfs).
  • Holding capacity in the lower Eel River is restricted with only the Creamery, Drake, Boxcar and 12th Street Pools capable of holding large numbers of adult Chinook in 2013. The Worswick pool is compromised in depth as is the run above it.
  • Doing reconnaissance and mapping of pools helped to develop more effective tactics for dive team.
  • High turnout of fish professionals and experienced ERRP divers lead to very trustable data being collected.
  • Scorekeepers that walk the bank are a great help because it frees up all divers to be part of the team.
  • Team may have bunched on River Walk side in 12th Street Pool and we may have missed some fish. The Drake Pool is much shallower in 2013 and we may need to rethink tactics.
  • Count is comparable to 10/13/12 dive in gross numbers, but the Van Duzen Pool was not counted in 2012 and many more fish were counted in the Drake Pool and below last year.
  • ERRP and Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) dives are documenting the pre-pulse portion of run, if last year’s patterns hold, which means large counts are likely on subsequent dives (10/26 & 11/9 in Fortuna)

The next HRC dive is Monday October 21. Volunteers need to be in Scotia at Hoby's Market at 9 AM.  Call Nick Simpson at HRC to coordinate (764-4281).

Call Pat Higgins, ERRP Volunteer Coordinator (223-7200), if you want to help count fish near Fortuna on Saturday, October 26. Orientation will begin at 8:30 AM, at the River Lodge in Fortuna. Wetsuits are available, with advance request.

The photos below show adult Chinook and Jacks and a portion of the dive team after surveying the
Worswick Pool.



Sudden Oak Death (SOD), a disease that kills oak and other species of trees, has had devastating effects in some areas of California and Oregon. Symptoms of the disease, now known to be caused by the oomycete plant pathogen Phytophthora ramorum, include bleeding cankers on the trunk of the tree and dieback of the foliage. Often the disease is fatal to the infected tree. The photo above (credit: U.C.Davis) shows a forest with oak trees dying of sudden oak death.

In an update on the spread of SOD on the Mendocino Coast, KMUD News Correspondent Dan Young conducts several interviews, including an interview with U.C. Berkeley Professor and Statewide Forestry Pathologist Matteo Garbelotto.

This report can be heard using the player below and was aired on KMUD News on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013

Additional Resources:

Previous SOD News Web posts:


The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted recently to support a multi-agency committee dedicated to promoting enhanced use of the port at Humboldt Bay. However, others are concerned about the environmental impact of increased shipping on marine mammals. These issues were the focus of a news piece aired Thurs., Oct. 3, 2013 on the KMUD Local news. See the "Additional Resources" section below for infographics that support the information in the interview.

Use the player below to hear an interview with Stephanie Buffum, Executive Director of Friends of the San Juan, a non-profit organization focused on cleaning up and protecting the harbors and surrounding waters in Washington State.This story was submitted and aired by KMUD News Director Terri Klemetson.


Additional Resources:

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