Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Discovers A Soggy Secret Of El Niño

Date:
May 2, 2003
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
NASA-funded researchers have discovered El Niño's soggy secret. When scientists identified rain patterns in the Pacific Ocean, they discovered the secret of how El Niño moves rainfall around the globe during the life of these periodic climate events when waters warm in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

NASA-funded researchers have discovered El Niño's soggy secret. When scientists identified rain patterns in the Pacific Ocean, they discovered the secret of how El Niño moves rainfall around the globe during the life of these periodic climate events when waters warm in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

The results may help scientists improve rainfall forecasts around the globe during the life of an El Niño, and may also offer new insights into how an El Niño develops.

The findings were highlighted in a paper authored by Scott Curtis of the University of Maryland - Baltimore County, Baltimore, Md., and Bob Adler, of Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The study appeared in a recent issue of the American Geophysical Union's Journal of Geophysical Research.

In an effort to predict and understand the effects of El Niño, most scientists focus on seasonal changes in rainfall patterns, like where and when rain falls during winter. This study takes a different approach by first looking at the evolution of rainfall over the geographic area of the Pacific, which has the power to change the global winds and re-direct rainfall patterns around the world.

Curtis and Adler found a significant pattern of alternating rainfall for El Niños since 1979, with wetness in eastern China, dryness over Indonesia and wetness in the south Indian Ocean and Australia.

They noted that this pattern swings eastward as the El Niño weakens. As El Niño weakens, rainfall patterns alternate from one area to another. In the eastern Pacific, there is wetness on the Equator, dryness off the coast of Mexico, and wetness off the coast of California. The traditional view of El Niño based on seasonal rainfall patterns obscures these relationships.

El Niño events, like individual thunderstorms, differ in intensity, lifespan, rainfall, and other characteristics, making them difficult to quantify. So, Curtis and Adler had to set parameters to define El Niños based on rainfall that occurs in the equatorial Pacific. They looked at the periods before rainfall began, when the El Niño started, peaked, faded, and after it ended. They also identified areas around the globe that were consistently wet or dry during each El Niño evolution stage.

Curtis and Adler utilized global rainfall datasets developed from satellites and rain gauges from all over the world, which are part of the Global Precipitation Climatology Project under the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX), a project heavily supported by NASA.

Data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite, used in this study, will also help ensure the accuracy of satellites used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Department of Defense. TRMM is a joint NASA/Japanese Space Agency mission to study tropical rainfall and its implications for climate. Each day, the TRMM spacecraft observes the Earth's equatorial and tropical regions.

In the future this kind of study will help pinpoint where an El Niño will generate floods, droughts, and changes in rainfallaround the globe. This information will be extremely useful once NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement mission, currently in formulation launches sometime after 2007.

This NASA funded work addresses a number of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise research strategies, including how variations in local weather, precipitation and water resources are related to global climate variation, in this case caused by El Niño. By recognizing global rainfall patterns associated with El Niño and by better understanding the impacts of El Niño, researchers may be able to better understand and predict these climate variations.

###

For more information and images on the Internet, visit: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/2003/0428soggyNino.html

For information the about various programs mentioned above on the Internet, visit: El Niño events: http://www.elNino.noaa.gov/edu.html

GEWEX: http://www.gewex.org/

Global Precipitation Measurement mission: http://gpm.gsfc.nasa.gov/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA Discovers A Soggy Secret Of El Niño." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030502075847.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2003, May 2). NASA Discovers A Soggy Secret Of El Niño. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030502075847.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA Discovers A Soggy Secret Of El Niño." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030502075847.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pakistan's 'killer Mountain' Fails to Draw Tourists After Attack

Pakistan's 'killer Mountain' Fails to Draw Tourists After Attack

AFP (Sep. 12, 2014) — In June 2013, 10 foreign mountaineers and their guide were murdered on Nanga Parbat, an iconic peak that stands at 8,126m tall in northern Pakisan. Duration: 02:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — Two solar flares which erupted in our direction this week will arrive this weekend. The resulting solar storm will be powerful but not dangerous. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Ozone Layer Is Recovering, But It's Not All Good News

The Ozone Layer Is Recovering, But It's Not All Good News

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — The Ozone layer is recovering thickness! Hooray! But in helping its recovery, we may have also helped put more greenhouse gases out there. Hooray? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins