Generally, we know the river that flows on land. However, near the atmospheric layer, scientists say, there is also a river. As Live Science proclaims, rivers in the atmosphere are responsible for some rainfall in certain regions. In this case, it is mentioned in the western United States. The river is where water meets and flows in the same direction. On land, rainfall accumulates in trenches and cliffs, joins with the abundance of water around it, and forms tributaries which later become large rivers which lead to the sea.
Water in the atmosphere behaves similarly, and forms rivers in the sky. Hydroclimatologist at the University of Illinois, Francina Dominguez explained, “Rivers in the atmosphere are long corridors and intense water vapor channels.” This term began when meteorologists, namely Yong Zhu and Reginald Newell, published the results of their research in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in the 1990s. In this study they described their findings about the tropospheric river, which is an area in the troposphere where water vapor accumulates and lasts for days at a time.
Rivers in the atmosphere can be hundreds of miles wide and over a thousand miles long, and the amount of water in the form of steam that flows through them is comparable to the largest land rivers in the world. “These sky-based rivers usually form above the ocean, when large cold lines move from west to east,” Dominguez said. Atmospheric rivers are a global phenomenon. It appears in the northern and southern hemispheres, extending from the tropics or subtropics to the middle latitudes, more than 30 degrees north or south of the equator.
In some cases, atmospheric rivers can cause flash floods to cause property damage and death. Some areas are affected by atmospheric rivers, including Chile, Australia, South Africa, and Western Europe. It is estimated that 90 percent of the moisture in the air comes from atmospheric rivers, said Dominguez. That means that atmospheric rivers play a key role in distributing water vapor throughout the world.