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 July 24, 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 July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) — The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Driving Sports (July 24, 2014) — Subaru Rally Team USA drivers David Higgins and Travis Pastrana face off against a global contingent of racers at the annual Mt. Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire. Includes exclusive in-car footage from Higgins' record attempt. Video provided by Driving Sports
Powered by NewsLook.com
Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) — A likely tornado tears through an eastern Virginia campground, killing three and injuring at least 20. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) — Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
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