Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA'S live tropical sea surface temperature Web site gives climate, hurricane clues

13.10.2006
Sea surface temperatures give scientists information about ocean currents, climate, climate change and how a hurricane may evolve. Now, NASA has a web page that provides frequent updates on changing ocean temperatures.

There are two primary types of sea surface temperature data that scientists use. The first is the actual temperature readings from the ocean water surface. The second is called a sea surface temperature anomaly that compares present temperatures to the long-term average.

Visualizers at NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. have created two products. The first is a daily update of actual sea surface temperatures. Whenever clouds in the satellite data block the sea surface, the product interpolates the data. Interpolation is a calculation method for estimating data in regions that fall between points of actual measurement.

The second product is a 10-day average of sea surface temperatures over specific areas. This 10-day average helps to show or calculate the temperature anomaly.

"Climate and weather are great dances between the oceans and the global atmosphere," says Bill Patzert, climatologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Sea surface temperature changes control whether these dances are slow and graceful, as with climate, or stormy and violent, as with wild hurricanes and winter storms. Floods, droughts, hurricanes or balmy weather can often be foretold by shifting sea surface temperatures. Sea surface temperatures are a crystal ball that helps us see and plan for the future."

The web page graphics are the result of data from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite.

Big climate events like El Nino and La Nina in the eastern Pacific Ocean are directly related to ocean temperatures and can be seen in the sea surface temperature anomaly product. If the Eastern Pacific ocean temperatures deviate from average, this product will show that. El Nino and La Nina are also connected to changes in air pressure systems.

In a normal year, steady winds blow westward and push warm surface water toward the western Pacific Ocean. In contrast, during an El Niño year, weakened winds allow warm water to occupy the entire tropical Pacific, so scientists look at sea surface temperatures for a signal of El Nino's return. Usually sea surface temperature readings off South America's west coast range from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15-21 degrees Celsius), while they exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) in the "warm pool" located in the central and western Pacific. Rainfall tends to follow the warm water eastward, causing drought in Indonesia and Australia and also altering the path of the jet stream - a region of strong winds high in the atmosphere - that helps control weather patterns and storm paths.

La Niña is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the central Equatorial Pacific. Sea-surface temperatures along the equator can fall as much as 7 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) below normal. During La Niña, the easterly trade winds strengthen and cold upwelling - the transport of colder, deeper waters to the ocean's surface - intensifies along the equator and the West coast of South America. Like her counterpart El Nino, La Nina also changes weather patterns around the world.

La Niña tends to bring nearly opposite effects of El Niño to the United States -- wetter than normal conditions across the Pacific Northwest and drier and warmer than normal conditions across much of the southern tier. Both La Niña and El Niño tend to have the most profound influence in the winter. During El Niño years, temperatures in the winter are typically warmer than normal in the North-Central States, and cooler than normal in the Southeast and the Southwest. During a La Niña year, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the Southeast and cooler than normal in the Northwest.

Hurricane forecasters rely on daily sea surface temperatures to determine the behavior of tropical cyclones, the general name for tropical depressions, tropical storms, typhoons and hurricanes. Sea surface temperatures must be at least 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) for a tropical cyclone to develop and maintain itself. If there are no winds to tear a storm apart, warm ocean waters often allow a tropical cyclone to strengthen, since it is the primary "fuel" for development.

Maps of sea surface temperatures and anomalies are highly valuable to ocean and atmospheric scientists. They are one the primary tools climatologists use to monitor and forecast El Nino and La Nina events, and to forecast the frequency and intensity of hurricanes in all oceans.

Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Scientists shed light on carbon's descent into the deep Earth
19.07.2017 | European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

nachricht Thawing permafrost releases old greenhouse gas
19.07.2017 | GFZ GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

Leipzig HTP-Forum discusses "hydrothermal processes" as a key technology for a biobased economy

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation

20.07.2017 | Information Technology

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing

20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors

20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>