Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Data Captures El Niño's Return In The Pacific

Date:
October 7, 2006
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
NASA satellite data indicates El Niño has returned to the tropical Pacific Ocean, although in a relatively weak condition that may not persist and is currently much less intense than the last major El Niño episode in 1997-1998.

The left image shows sea surface height anomalies on September 15, 2006, during a weak El Niño event. The right image, from September 20, 1997, was associated with a much more intense El Niño. Yellow and red areas indicate where the waters are relatively higher (warmer) and have expanded above normal sea level; green indicates near normal sea level; blue and purple show where waters are relatively lower (colder) and below normal sea level.
Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA satellite data indicates El Niño has returned to the tropical Pacific Ocean, although in a relatively weak condition that may not persist and is currently much less intense than the last major El Niño episode in 1997-1998.

Over the past several weeks, NASA's Aqua and Jason satellites have observed a general warming of ocean temperatures and a rise in sea surface heights in the central and eastern Pacific along the equator, both indicators of El Niño development.

"The present conditions indicate that the intensity of this El Niño is too weak to have a major influence on current weather patterns," said Bill Patzert, oceanographer and climatologist at the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "But, if the ocean waters continue to warm and spread eastward, this event would likely strengthen, perhaps bringing much-needed rainfall to the southwestern and southeastern United States this winter."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the lead U.S. agency on monitoring and forecasting these events, has also recently noted other signs of a developing El Niño, including below-normal rainfall in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. These areas are usually the first to respond to an El Niño pattern as trade winds relax due to higher-than-normal air pressure in the region.

Still, scientists remain doubtful about whether the observed El Niño will persist. They say it is important to wait and see how ocean conditions evolve over the next couple of months since there are natural fluctuations that result in a short-term tendency toward warmer water on the Pacific equator at this time of year.

According to researchers, the current El Niño signal is far less dramatic than that seen during the start of the last major El Niño episode in 1997-1998. That event brought devastating floods to California that cost millions of dollars in damage while severe drought struck Indonesia, Australia and the Philippines.

El Niño is a cyclical warming of the ocean waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific that generally occurs every 3 to 7 years. It is associated with changes in air pressure and the movement of high-level winds that can affect weather worldwide. Typically peaking during the winter months, El Niño is the warm phase of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation. It alternates with La Niña, the cooling of ocean waters in the same region of the Pacific.

In the United States, El Niño normally results in warmer-than-normal temperatures across the northern and western states. Wetter conditions often prevail over much of the south with dry weather across the Ohio Valley and Pacific Northwest.

During the next several weeks and months, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA will continue to closely monitor conditions in the Pacific to determine how the evolution of this El Niño may impact weather patterns this winter.


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:

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

AFP (July 22, 2014) — As part of the 14-ship convoy that will accompany the Costa Concordia from the port of Giglio to the port of Genoa, there will be a boat carrying experts to look out for dolphins and whales from crossing the path of the Concordia. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) — New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) — A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

AFP (July 19, 2014) — A spectaCular lightning storm struck the UK overnight Friday. Images of lightning strikes over the Shard and Tower Bridge in central London. Duration: 00:23 Video provided by AFP
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