El Nino and NASA

Photo credit: Science Daily

This visualization shows side by side comparisons of Pacific Ocean sea surface height anomalies of what is presently happening in 2015 with the Pacific Ocean signal during the famous 1997 El Niño. These 1997 and 2015 El Niño animations were made from data collected by the TOPEX/Poseidon (1997) and the OSTM/Jason-2 (2015) satellites.
Credit: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA studying 2015 El Nino event as never before

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Every two to seven years, an unusually warm pool of water — sometimes two to three degrees Celsius higher than normal develops across the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean to create a natural short-term climate change event. This warm condition, known as El Niño, affects the local aquatic environment, but also spurs extreme weather patterns around the world, from flooding in California to droughts in Australia. This winter, the 2015-16 El Niño event will be better observed from space than any previous El Niño.

This year’s El Niño is already strong and appears likely to equal the event of 1997-98, the strongest El Niño on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization. All 19 of NASA’s current orbiting Earth-observing missions were launched after 1997. In the past two decades, NASA has made tremendous progress in gathering and analyzing data that help researchers understand more about the mechanics and global impacts of El Niño.

El Niño is a fascinating phenomenon because it has such far-reaching and diverse impacts. The fact that fires in Indonesia are linked with circulation patterns that influence rainfall over the United States shows how complex and interconnected the Earth system is, said Lesley Ott, research meteorologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

Using NASA satellite observations in tandem with supercomputer processing power for modeling systems, scientists have a comprehensive suite of tools to analyze El Niño events and their global impacts as never before. Throughout this winter, NASA will share the latest scientific insights and imagery updates related to El Niño.

Read the full article: Science Daily

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.