California has been hit by multiple atmospheric river events over the 2016-2017 winter season.  Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow bands of high water vapor that transport moisture from tropical regions into the mid-latitudes.  The atmospheric rivers bring 50% or more of the annual precipitation to California and often lead to hazards, such as flooding and mudslides.  The events of January and February 2017 resulted in year-to-date precipitation totals greater than 150 - 200% above normal for many Northern California locations. The latest map from the U.S. Drought Monitor and NOAA shows Northern California is no longer under drought conditions, while Southern California drought status has improved from severe status to moderate.

Reservoirs, which supply essential water during the dry-season, have filled to capacity due to the excess rain.  Lake Oroville, in Northern California, experienced weeks of heavy rain and runoff into the reservoir.  To prevent dam overtopping, the spillway was activated on February 10, 2017.  While releasing water, the spillway developed a hole almost the size of a football field that continued to expand with use.  The damaged spillway was subsequently closed, but rising lake levels resulted in water release over an emergency spillway that caused excessive hillside damage.  The headward erosion of the hillside toward the emergency spillway edge risked failure of the concrete berm of the spillway and sudden massive water release from the lake. Should this happen, devastating floods would occur to the many downstream communities.  Nearly 200,000 people were evacuated as a precaution and the water flow of the damaged spillway was increased to lower lake levels and stop the erosion.  Crews are rapidly working to reinforce the damaged spillway before forecasted rains arrive.  Another series of storms are expected to dump 4 - 6 inches of rain to the area during the next week (February 15th-23rd).

The Land, Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for Earth Observing Systems (EOS) (LANCE) distributes data to support users monitoring natural and man-made phenomenon by making data available within three hours of satellite observation.  These near real-time data are critical for disaster planning, assessments, and decision making. The GHRC LANCE AMSR2 data observed the most recent atmospheric river as it moved towards Southern California on February 10, 2017.  The image shown has 3 panels, Terra MODIS corrected reflectance imagery (left), the LANCE AMSR2 water vapor data (center) and the surface precipitation (right) observations available from the AMSR2 Rain and Ocean dataset.  On the left, the MODIS imagery captures the linear band of convective cloud cover.  Associated with this cloud cover is the narrow stream of higher water vapor concentrations shown in the AMSR2 water vapor image (middle).  The AMSR2 surface precipitation data (right) identifies regions of high rain rates that coincide with the higher water vapor concentrations and cloud cover.

Near real-time data such as these LANCE AMSR2 Rain and Ocean data can provide emergency managers with important information during extreme weather events to help them decide how to respond.  

For more information about NASA LANCE and other LANCE datasets at GHRC please access:





NWS Sacramento Twitter:

U.S. Drought Monitor:


GHRC science staff member Amanda Weigel presented to the ESDIS Webinar series on February 8. Her presentation entitled "Atmospheric Event based Research using NASA GHRC Tools and Services” covered a variety of information, tools and services available at the GHRC, including micro articles linking data to phenomena or other information, the HyDRO search tool for data discovery, Field Campaign Explorer for visualization and and acquisition, and data recipes to guide users in the use of selected data products. The webinar can be viewed online here:

The GHRC DAAC was represented by science staff members Deborah Smith and Amanda Weigel at the Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in Seattle, January 22–26, 2017. A primary goal was to interact with current and potential users of GHRC data, as well as data providers. Weigel created and hosted the poster “Stimulating Remote Sensing Education through Knowledge Augmentation Services” on Monday, Jan 23rd in the Education poster session. Deborah created and hosted “Visualize, Discover, and Analyze: A Data Center’s Innovative Services for Addressing Observing System Challenges” poster on Wednesday, Jan 25th in the Observation Symposium (theme of 2017 meeting) poster session. This poster included an information box about the upcoming ESDIS Webinar on Field Campaign Explorer, scheduled for February 8.

The posters can be found on the Information Technology & Systems Center website at

“Stimulating Remote Sensing Education through Knowledge Augmentation Services”

“Visualize, Discover, and Analyze: A Data Center’s Innovative Services for Addressing Observing System Challenges”


The AMSR Science Investigator-led Processing System (SIPS) at the GHRC DAAC has completed processing of the initial AMSR Level-2 Land product from beginning of the AMSR2 mission to present. This product is generated using the AMSR Unified (AMSR-E and AMSRU) Land algorithms, with Level-1R (resampled) brightness temperatures from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as input. Routine forward processing continues. Data products are delivered from the AMSR SIPS to NSIDC DAAC for archive and distribution. Full resolution imagery are provided to the Global Imagery Browse Services (GIBS).

On January 9, 2017, William Ellett and Lamar Hawkins, of the GHRC DAAC’s data processing and management team for the Lightning Imaging Sensor to be deployed to the International Space Station (ISS LIS), participated with the LIS science and engineering team in a simulation activity for the STP-H5 (Space Test Program-Houston 5) package, which contains the ISS LIS. The successful simulation involved use of proper voice protocol to ask the STP-H5 Payload Rack Officer to enable commanding for LIS, to issue the LIS instrument reset commands, and to verify that those commands were sent.

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