Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

cean surface saltiness influences el nino forecasts

30.01.2003




NASA sponsored scientists have discovered by knowing the salt content of the ocean’s surface, they may be able to improve the ability to predict El Nino events. Scientists, studying the western Pacific Ocean, find regional changes in the saltiness of surface ocean water correspond to changes in upper ocean heat content in the months preceding an El Nino event. Knowing the distribution of surface salinity may help predict events.

Salinity and temperature combine to dictate the ocean’s density. Greater salinity, like colder temperatures, results in an increase in ocean density with a corresponding depression of the sea surface height. In warmer, fresher waters, the density is lower resulting in an elevation of the sea surface. These ocean height differences are related to the circulation of the ocean.

The surface salinity in two regions contributes to El Nino events: an area of warmer temperatures and lower salinity in the western Pacific, and the higher salinity and cooler temperatures in the eastern Pacific. Differences in surface salinity are related to changes in temperature and upper ocean heat content, which are part of the El Nino phenomenon. They have the potential to influence the Earth’s climate through air-sea interaction at the ocean’s surface.



The study, conducted for NASA by University of Maryland researchers Joaquim Ballabrera, Tony Busalacchi, and Ragu Murtugudde, is one of the first to look at ocean salinity in El Nino, Southern Oscillation (ENSO) predictions and their relationship to tropical sea surface temperatures, sea level, winds, and fresh water from rain. Results of the study are in the latest issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans.

Ballabrera and his colleagues looked at data, from 1980 to 1995, about sea surface temperatures, winds, rainfall, evaporation, sea surface height, and latent heat, the energy released when water vapor condenses into droplets.

Using computer models, they performed a series of statistical predictions of the El Nino events for such a period. The results indicate short-term predictions only require monitoring sea surface temperatures, while predictions over a season require the observation of sea level. They concluded observations of salinity significantly improve predictions. When changes in salinity occur, they affect the El Nino event for the next six to 12 months. In this lag time, salinity changes have the potential to modify the layers of the ocean and affect the heat content of the western Pacific Ocean; the region where the unusual atmospheric and oceanic behavior associated to El Nino first develops. "As a result, when changes in ocean saltiness are considered, improvements are found in El Nino forecasts six to 12 months in advance," Ballabrera said.

"This research holds tremendous potential for the NASA Aquarius mission to monitor the surface salinity of the global ocean," Busalacchi said. Aquarius is scheduled for launch during 2006-2007. Aquarius will provide the first global maps of salt concentration on the ocean surface. Salt concentration is a key area of scientific uncertainty in the oceans’ capacity to store and transport heat, which in turn affects Earth’s climate and water cycle.

By using remote sensing data from satellites, scientists will be able to see changes in ocean salinity. Knowing the lag time factor, computer models simulating the movement of the atmosphere may be able to accurately predict El Nino episodes. This may lead to longer lead-time for predictions of ENSO events.

Florida State University, the National Center for Environmental Prediction, National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Etudes Climatiques de l’Ocean Pacifique tropical program at Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement, Centre de Noumea contributed ocean and atmosphere data to this study.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s El Nino Web Page:
http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/tao/elNino /Nino -home-low.html

Rob Gutro | NASA Goddard Space Flight Cente
Further information:
http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/2003/0114salt.html
http://essic.umd.edu/~joaquim/salinity/
http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/tao/elNino /Nino -home-low.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht A new 3D viewer for improved digital geoscience mapping
20.09.2016 | Uni Research

nachricht The significance of seaweed
16.09.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

Im Focus: Launch of New Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing

At AKL’16, the International Laser Technology Congress held in May this year, interest in the topic of process control was greater than expected. Appropriately, the event was also used to launch the Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing. The group provides a forum for representatives from industry and research to initiate pre-competitive projects and discuss issues such as standards, potential cost savings and feasibility.

In the age of industry 4.0, laser technology is firmly established within manufacturing. A wide variety of laser techniques – from USP ablation and additive...

Im Focus: New laser joining technologies at ‘K 2016’ trade fair

Every three years, the plastics industry gathers at K, the international trade fair for plastics and rubber in Düsseldorf. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will also be attending again and presenting many innovative technologies, such as for joining plastics and metals using ultrashort pulse lasers. From October 19 to 26, you can find the Fraunhofer ILT at the joint Fraunhofer booth SC01 in Hall 7.

K is the world’s largest trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry. As in previous years, the organizers are expecting 3,000 exhibitors and more than...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

ICPE in Graz for the seventh time

20.09.2016 | Event News

Using mathematical models to understand our brain

16.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Chains of nanogold – forged with atomic precision

23.09.2016 | Life Sciences

New leukemia treatment offers hope

23.09.2016 | Health and Medicine

Self-assembled nanostructures hit their target

23.09.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>