Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Global warming could change strength of El Niño

Date:
September 11, 2013
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
Global warming could impact the El Niño Southern Oscillation, altering the cycles of El Niño and La Niña events that bring extreme drought and flooding to Australia and many other Pacific-rim countries.

Flooding in the suburbs of Brisbane, Australia. Global warming could impact the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), altering the cycles of El Niño and La Niña events that bring extreme drought and flooding to Australia and many other Pacific-rim countries.
Credit: © On-Air / Fotolia

Global warming could impact the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), altering the cycles of El Niño and La Niña events that bring extreme drought and flooding to Australia and many other Pacific-rim countries.

New research published in Nature Geoscience using coral samples from Kiribati has revealed how the ENSO cycle has changed over the past 4300 years. This research suggests that external changes have an impact on the strength and timing of El Niño events.

"Our research has showed that while the development of La Niña and El Niño events is chaotic and hard to predict, the strength of these events can change over long time spans due to changes in the global climate," said one of the paper's authors Dr Steven Phipps.

"For instance, we found that the ENSO cycle was much weaker 4300 years ago than it is today. This weaker cycle persisted for almost two centuries."

The researchers determined that natural influences on Earth's climate, such as those caused by variations in its orbit around the sun, could affect the strength of El Niño events.

Although small, these natural influences altered seasonal trade winds across the Eastern Pacific and affected the development of El Niño events. Interestingly, the research also showed that El Niño events in the past started later in the year and were often less intense.

"We found there was a small strengthening of the regular seasonal trade winds in the Eastern Pacific in response to natural warming cycles in the Earth's orbit around the sun. Remarkably this acted in a big way to stop El Niño events from forming and growing," said lead author Dr Helen McGregor from the University of Wollongong.

"This shows us that external factors can influence the ENSO process and that it may have a sustained response to future greenhouse gas changes. Currently 20th Century observations are too short to confirm whether this is occurring now."

Importantly, these new observations can now be used in climate models to see if these past changes in ENSO processes can be reproduced.

"Currently, climate models do not agree on how El Niño may change under future global warming scenarios," said Dr Phipps

"With these new observations we can determine which models reproduce the most accurate response to changes in the global climate. This will help us to more accurately forecast the response of ENSO under future global warming scenarios."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. H. V. McGregor, M. J. Fischer, M. K. Gagan, D. Fink, S. J. Phipps, H. Wong, C. D. Woodroffe. A weak El Niño/Southern Oscillation with delayed seasonal growth around 4,300 years ago. Nature Geoscience, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1936

Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "Global warming could change strength of El Niño." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130911093153.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2013, September 11). Global warming could change strength of El Niño. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130911093153.htm
University of New South Wales. "Global warming could change strength of El Niño." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130911093153.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

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
Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) — Iceland has lowered its aviation alert on its largest volcano after a fresh eruption on a nearby lava field prompted authorities to enforce a flight ban for several hours. Duration: 01:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

AP (Sep. 1, 2014) — A lightning strike injured three people on a New York City beach on Sunday. The storms also delayed flights and interrupted play at the US Open tennis tournament. (Sept. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) — Fears are mounting in Bangkok that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis. Duration: 01:21 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