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The first signs of El Niño are visible. A weather anomaly is coming

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Scientists from around the world are predicting the arrival of El Niño, a weather anomaly occurring in the Pacific. Early symptoms of the emerging phenomenon were recorded by the Sentinel-6 satellite Michael Freilich (S6MF).

Data from the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich (S6MF) satellite show that Kelvin waves have formed on the surface of the Pacific Ocean. They are 5 to 10 centimeters high and hundreds of kilometers wide, moving from west to east, along the equator, towards the west coast of South America.

Kelvin waves. what they mean

Kelvin waves can be created in both the ocean and the atmosphere. They are formed as a result of disturbance of the movement of air or water by the Coriolis force. Coriolis force is the force that causes the path of a body moving in a system such as the Earth to deviate from a straight line. The Earth rotates from west to east, so in the northern hemisphere moving objects deflect to the right, while in the southern hemisphere – to the left.

When Kelvin waves form at the equator, they transport warm water from the western to the eastern Pacific. According to experts from NASAthis phenomenon, appearing in spring, is an announcement of the upcoming El Nino.

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El Nino

Warmer waters of the Pacific

Data taken from the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite covers the period from early March to late April 2023. By April 24, Kelvin waves had piled up warmer water, and higher sea levels (marked in red and white) were recorded off the coasts of Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

Satellites such as Michael Freilich’s Sentinel-6 can detect Kelvin waves using a radar altimeter that uses microwave waves to measure the height of the ocean surface. When the altimeter passes over areas that are warmer than others, the data will show a higher sea level.

“We’ll be watching El Nino like hawks,” said Josh Willis, one of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “If it’s strong, it’s going to be record-breaking global warming, but here in the southwestern United States, we can expect heavy downpours,” he added.

Sentinel-6 satellite Michael Freilich recorded on April 24 warmer water temperatures (marked in red and white) at the equator and off the west coast of South AmericaNASA/JPL-Caltech

Both the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have reported in recent months increased chances of El Niño developing by the end of the summer. Continued monitoring of ocean conditions in the Pacific by instruments and satellites such as Michael Freilich’s Sentinel-6 should help clarify in the coming months just what scale this phenomenon could reach.

>>> Read: La Nina is over, El Nino is coming. Here are six risks it brings

What is El Niño?

El Niño is a phenomenon that occurs when the water surface temperature in the equatorial Pacific is above average. This phenomenon is also associated with the weakening of trade winds. When the Pacific Ocean is warmer, North and South America are at greater risk of heavy rainfall and severe hurricanes, and parts of Southeast Asia and Northern Australia are at greater risk of severe drought.

The opposite of this phenomenon is La Nina. We’ve been dealing with him for the last three years. According to the latest research, the giant bushfires that occurred in Australia at the turn of 2019 and 2020 could be responsible for its prolongation.

>>> More about research: La Nina reigned long. Perhaps because of the fires

Comparison of the 2015 and 1997 El Nino

Comparison of the 2015 and 1997 El NinoNASA scientists show how the water surface temperature was shaped during El Nino in 1997 and in 2015. NASA Goddard

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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