Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Global Warming May Dent El Niño's Protective Shield From Atlantic Hurricanes, Increase Droughts

Date:
September 24, 2009
Source:
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Summary:
El Niño, the periodic eastern Pacific phenomenon credited with shielding the US and Caribbean from severe hurricane seasons, may be overshadowed by its brother in the central Pacific due to global warming, according to new research. Could lead to more intense hurricanes in the Atlantic, increased opportunity for droughts in Australia and India.

El Niño, the periodic eastern Pacific phenomenon credited with shielding the United States and Caribbean from severe hurricane seasons, may be overshadowed by its brother in the central Pacific due to global warming, according to an article in the journal Nature.
Credit: Ben Kirtman/UM

El Niño, the periodic eastern Pacific phenomenon credited with shielding the United States and Caribbean from severe hurricane seasons, may be overshadowed by its brother in the central Pacific due to global warming, according to an article in the September 24 issue of the journal Nature.

"There are two El Niños, or flavors of El Niño," said Ben Kirtman, co-author of the study and professor of meteorology and physical oceanography at the University of Miami's Rosentstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. "In addition to the eastern Pacific El Niño which we know and love, a second El Niño in the central Pacific is on the increase."

El Niño is a recurring warm water current along the equator in the Pacific Ocean that affects weather circulation patterns in the tropics. The eastern El Niño increases wind sheer in the Atlantic that may hamper the development of major hurricanes there. The central Pacific El Niño, near the International Dateline, has been blamed for worsening drought conditions in Australia and India as well as minimizing the effects of its beneficial brother to the east.

Led by Sang-Wook Yeh of the Korea Ocean Research & Development Institute, a team of scientists applied Pacific Ocean sea surface temperature data from the past 150 years to 11 global warming models developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Eight of the models showed that global warming conditions will increase the incidence of the central Pacific El Niño. Over the past 20 years, according to the data, the frequency of an El Niño event in the central Pacific has increased from one out of every five to half of all El Niño occurrences.

"The results described in this paper indicate that the global impacts of El Niño may significantly change as the climate warms," said Yeh.

Though the centers of the central and eastern areas are roughly 4,100 miles apart, El Niños historically have not simultaneously occurred in both places. An increase in central Pacific El Niño events may reduce the hurricane-shielding effects of the eastern Pacific event.

"Currently, we are in the middle of a developing eastern Pacific El Niño event," said Kirtman, "which is part of why we're experiencing such a mild hurricane season in the Atlantic. We also anticipate the southern United States to have a fairly wet winter, and the northeast may be dry and warm."

Kirtman expects the current El Niño event to end next spring, perhaps followed by a La Niña, which he expects may bode for a more intense Atlantic hurricane season in 2010.

Growing up in southern California, Kirtman frequently had to man the sump pump in his family's basement during the rainy season, which he learned later was caused by El Niño.

"We're finally learning about how ocean current flows and increases in sea surface temperature influence weather patterns, which affect every one of us, including the kid manning the sump pump," he said. "I have devoted much of my career to studying El Niño because of how it affects people and their lives."

Kirtman works with various meteorological organizations around the world to help developing countries respond to climate extremes.

"We provide them with the forecasts," he said, "and the countries use the results to develop their response."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sang-Wook Yeh, Jong-Seong Kug, Boris Dewitte, Min-Ho Kwon, Ben P. Kirtman & Fei-Fei Jin. El Niño in a changing climate. Nature, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/nature08316

Cite This Page:

University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. "Global Warming May Dent El Niño's Protective Shield From Atlantic Hurricanes, Increase Droughts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090923143337.htm>.
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. (2009, September 24). Global Warming May Dent El Niño's Protective Shield From Atlantic Hurricanes, Increase Droughts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090923143337.htm
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. "Global Warming May Dent El Niño's Protective Shield From Atlantic Hurricanes, Increase Droughts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090923143337.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Over 53 tons of rotting fish have been removed from Lake Cajititlan in western Jalisco state. Authorities say that the thousands of fish did not die of natural causes. (Sep. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — The alert warning for the area surrounding Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano was kept at orange on Tuesday, indicating increased unrest with greater potential for an eruption. Smoke is spewing from the volcano, and lava is spouting nearby. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 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