Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Satellites See El Nino Creep In From The Indian Ocean

Date:
December 6, 2004
Source:
National Aeronautics And Space Administration
Summary:
Scientists studied the winds and rains in the eastern Indian Ocean for hints at developing El Ninos. They used that information to create an "Index" or gauge that accurately predicted the El Nino of 2002-2003.

The image shows what happens when a very strong El Nino strikes surface waters in the Central equatorial Pacific Ocean. The sequence shows warm water anomalies (red) develop in the Central Pacific Ocean. Winds that normally blow in a westerly direction weaken allowing the easterly winds to push the warm water up against the South American Coast.
Credit: NASA

Scientists studied the winds and rains in the eastern Indian Ocean for hints at developing El Ninos. They used that information to create an "Index" or gauge that accurately predicted the El Nino of 2002-2003.

El Nino is signaled by a warming of the ocean surface off the western coast of South America that occurs every 4 to 12 years when cold, nutrient-rich water does not come up from the ocean bottom. It causes die-offs of plankton and fish and affects Pacific jet stream winds, altering storm tracks and creating unusual weather patterns in various parts of the world.

The researchers used the TRMM and QuikScat satellites to track wind, rainfall, and warmer sea surface temperatures moving from the Indian to the Pacific Ocean in early 2002, before the 2002-03 El Nino.

During the winter of 2001-2002, climate conditions in the eastern Indian Ocean changed dramatically. Westerly winds increased and the weather flip-flopped from dry to wet.

Scott Curtis, Assistant Professor at East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C., and Robert Adler, George Huffman and Guojun Gu, all of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. used NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and QuikScat satellite data ranging from November 2001 to March 2002.

"This study expands on recent work linking rain and wind changes over the last 25 years to the development of El Ninos," Curtis said. The earlier study examined changes in rainfall from week to week, and the total amount of wintertime rainfall in key locations of the eastern Indian Ocean. They found these data points could be a sign of early shifts in climate leading to the development of El Ninos since 1979. The researchers then examined winds recreated by computer models, but did not find the same connections.

Curtis suggests that for the 1979-2002 period changes in rainfall in the eastern Indian Ocean are a better predictor for the onset of an El Nino than winds. Therefore, the El Nino Onset Index (EOI) was created using only rainfall data.

The scientists noticed the first weather system from the eastern Indian Ocean followed the Equator and the second traveled further south closer to Australia. In the second example, warm waters appeared first, followed by heavy rainfall in the eastern Indian Ocean. Then, strong westerly winds and a cooling of the sea surface developed. These events moved through the ocean area between Indonesia and Australia, suggesting a connection between rising air, wind, and sea surface temperatures over a period of days. These studies provided a basis for how changes in the East Indian Ocean are linked to following events in the Pacific Ocean, including the start of El Nino events.

There is a weak El Nino underway, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which the EOI did not predict. Curtis explained that the EOI may not be sensitive enough to register weak episodes. In addition, the current El Nino is not basin-wide, as the far eastern Pacific Ocean is cooler than normal.

In the future, NASA will launch the Global Precipitation Measurement Mission which will contribute to the EOI, as TRMM does currently.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Aeronautics And Space Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "NASA Satellites See El Nino Creep In From The Indian Ocean." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 December 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041203095709.htm>.
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. (2004, December 6). NASA Satellites See El Nino Creep In From The Indian Ocean. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041203095709.htm
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "NASA Satellites See El Nino Creep In From The Indian Ocean." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041203095709.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, July 25, 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
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) — Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
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

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