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Dec 22, 2016 03:00 AM EST

Sky Rivers: Hidden Phenomenon That Changes Earth

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Sky rivers or rivers in the sky might sound something new but they are not. However, they've gained so much attention these days because of the abnormalities in weather and climate changes.

Sky rivers is the informal name for atmospheric rivers (ARS), a weather phenomenon where narrow regions of the atmosphere transport great amounts of water vapor from the tropics, specifically the same amount as the water found at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Generally, sky rivers are an essential part of the global water cycle because they support area water supplies by providing the much-needed precipitation in various areas. They also contribute to the beneficial increase in snowpacks.

However, they carry as much as 15 times more water than necessary making them a destructive force of nature. When it hovers over an area for an extended period of time, it can create mudslides, floods, and other serious damages. The earliest reported sky river occurrence was in 1862.

Recently, scientists discovered that rivers in the sky can not only cause flooding and mudslides but also has the ability to wipe out an entire species. The first case of mass annihilation has, in fact, already occurred in 2011 when scientists found out that the population of wild Olympia oysters in the San Francisco Bay area was gone without a trace.

After thorough investigation, scientists found out that the culprit was sky rivers. These sky rivers brought huge amount of fresh water that decreased the salinity level of the area. Since salt plays a huge part in the existence of wild Olympia oysters, the low salinity level caused these oysters to die.

Oysters dying might sound less significant than people dying. However, their death greatly affects the ecosystem in that area. Without these oysters to clean seawater of pollutants and excess nitrogen, other aquatic life forms in the area will also suffer disrupting and perhaps killing all other life forms as well.

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