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Browns Valley Elementary students now have the opportunity to contribute to science and weather forecasts in their watershed thanks to a new monitoring station installed at the school by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego with support from Yuba Water Agency.
“We’re so excited to work with teachers, students and district staff to integrate data from the Browns Valley Elementary site with curriculum at different grade levels,” said Anna Wilson, field research manager at the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E) at Scripps Oceanography. “From learning how to access and read data to exploring the different instruments we use, this weather station opens up a ton of possibilities for bringing science into the classroom.”
Yuba Water is already partnering with the Marysville Joint Unified School District, which Browns Valley is a part of, and other school districts to develop grade-specific science and Yuba River watershed-based curriculum.
“Every opportunity we have to contribute to knowledge, especially in ways that invest in our children and in the future of our planet, moves us forward as a community,” said Rocco Greco, MJUSD executive director of student engagement. “This is what education is about. With partners such as the water agency and UC San Diego, Marysville continues to find ways to bring new opportunities and awareness of the amazing physical world we are surrounded by in Yuba county.”
It was through CW3E’s collaboration with the Yuba Water curriculum program that the idea formed to merge the education project with another vital project underway to better understand atmospheric rivers, powerful, rain-intensive storms responsible for most of the flooding in Northern California.
The weather station is now part of a larger regional monitoring network funded by Yuba Water and the California Department of Water Resources to monitor current conditions and inform decision-making. The stations collect a range of continuous meteorological data, including temperature, humidity, pressure, rainfall, wind speed and direction, solar radiation and soil moisture.
The Browns Valley school is also located near a weather balloon launch site that CW3E researchers use for storm-specific monitoring. Wilson says this provides additional opportunities for students to learn about science and weather relative to actual events happening around them.
The data from both the continuous monitoring stations and weather balloon launches also inform global weather and climate forecast models. Yuba Water and DWR use these forecasts to plan water releases from Lake Oroville and New Bullards Bar Reservoir, a coordination that is key to managing flows on the Yuba and Feather rivers and reducing flood risk for surrounding communities.
John James, water operations project manager for Yuba Water, says this opportunity was a great marriage between two projects that are having huge, positive impacts for Yuba County.
“The idea that we gather critical information to improve our forecasting and at the same time help local students get hands-on experience that could inspire them to become future scientists – that’s incredibly rewarding,” James said.
Yuba Water is a stand-alone public agency dedicated to flood risk reduction, water supply reliability, fish habitat protection and enhancement, hydroelectric generation and recreation at New Bullards Bar Reservoir.
The Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at Scripps Institution of Oceanography provides state-of-the-art water cycle science, technology and outreach to support effective policies and practices that address the impacts of extreme weather and water events on the environment, people and the economy of Western North America. CW3E works on observations, weather predictions, seasonal outlooks and climate projections of extreme events including atmospheric rivers and their impacts on the West.