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 Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed
21.02.2017 | University of Exeter

nachricht How much biomass grows in the savannah?
16.02.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's fermi finds possible dark matter ties in andromeda galaxy

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Wintering ducks connect isolated wetlands by dispersing plant seeds

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>