Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

What is El Nino Taimasa?

20.02.2014
During very strong El Niño events, sea level drops abruptly in the tropical western Pacific and tides remain below normal for up to a year in the South Pacific, especially around Samoa.

This shows flat-top Porites coral on a shallow reef near American Samoa. Coral heads are fully submerged under normal conditions. During El Niño Taimasa, tops of large flat coral on the reef are exposed to air at low tide.

Credit: Image courtesy of the National Park of American Samoa.

The Samoans call the wet stench of coral die-offs arising from the low sea levels "taimasa" (pronounced [kai' ma'sa]). Studying the climate effects of this particular variation of El Niño and how it may change in the future is a team of scientists at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa and at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

Two El Niño Taimasa events have occurred in recent history: 1982/83 and 1997/98. El Niño Taimasa differs from other strong El Niño events, such as those in 1986/87 and 2009/10, according to Matthew Widlansky, postdoctoral fellow at the International Pacific Research Center, who spearheaded the study.

"We noticed from tide gauge measurements that toward the end of these very strong El Niño events, when sea levels around Guam quickly returned to normal, that tide gauges near Samoa actually continued to drop," recalls Widlansky.

During such strong El Niño, moreover, the summer rain band over Samoa, called the South Pacific Convergence Zone, collapses toward the equator. These shifts in rainfall cause droughts south of Samoa and sometimes trigger more tropical cyclones to the east near Tahiti.

Using statistical procedures to tease apart the causes of the sea-level seesaw between the North and South Pacific, the scientists found that it is associated with the well-known southward shift of weak trade winds during the termination of El Niño, which in turn is associated with the development of the summer rain band.

Looking into the future with the help of computer climate models, the scientists are now studying how El Niño Taimasa will change with further warming of the planet. Their analyses show, moreover, that sea-level drops could be predictable seasons ahead, which may help island communities prepare for the next El Niño Taimasa.

At Ocean Sciences 2014

PROJECTIONS OF EXTREME SEA LEVEL VARIABILITY DUE TO EL NIÑO TAIMASA, Oral presentation Session #:079 Rising Sea Level: Contributions and Future Projections; Date: 2/26/2014; Time: 12:00; Location: 313 B; http://www.sgmeet.com/osm2014/viewabstract.asp?AbstractID=15569

Authors

Widlansky, M. J., University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA, mwidlans@hawaii.edu

Timmermann, A., University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA, axel@hawaii.edu

McGregor, S., University of New South Wales, Australia, shayne.mcgregor@unsw.edu.au

Stuecker, M. F., University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA, stuecker@hawaii.edu

Chikamoto, Y., University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA, chika44@hawaii.edu

Public Information Officer

Gisela Speidel, Outreach Specialist, International Pacific Research Center; gspeidel@hawaii.edu; tel. – (808) 956-9252

Publication Citation:

Widlansky, M.J., A. Timmermann, S. McGregor, M.F. Stuecker, and W. Cai, 2014: An interhemispheric tropical sea level seesaw due to El Niño Taimasa. J. Climate, 27 (3), 1070-1081, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00276.1.

Gisela Speidel | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.hawaii.edu

Further reports about: El Niño Mânoa Pacific coral Samoa Taimasa sea level tropical cyclone

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Tropical Depression 21W Forms, Philippines Under Warnings
27.11.2014 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Satellite Views Early Thanksgiving Travel Trouble Areas in U.S.
26.11.2014 | NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Regional economic cooperation in Central Asia

21.11.2014 | Event News

Educating the Ecucators

13.11.2014 | Event News

36th Annual IATUL Conference 2015: Call for papers and posters

12.11.2014 | Event News

 
Latest News

SLU Researcher Finds an Off Switch for Pain

27.11.2014 | Health and Medicine

University of Minnesota engineers make sound loud enough to bend light on a computer chip

27.11.2014 | Physics and Astronomy

Tropical Depression 21W Forms, Philippines Under Warnings

27.11.2014 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>