NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California identified a “potential precursor” of El Niño conditions after one of its satellites spotted a massive wave of warm water moving across the equatorial Pacific.
Described as “Kelvin waves,” JPL said the US-European satellite Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich shows raised ocean surface, approximately 2 to 4 inches, and hundreds of miles wide, moving from west to east along the equator.
“A series of Kelvin waves starting in spring is a well-known precursor to an El Niño, a periodic climate phenomenon that can affect weather patterns around the world,” JPL said, adding these waves tend to be higher than cooler ocean water because warm water expands.
“We’ll be watching this El Niño like a hawk. If it’s a big one, the globe will see record warming,” Josh Willis, a project scientist on Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich at JPL.
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich can detect Kelvin waves – low waves that can be hundreds of miles /km wide. When Kelvin waves form at the equator, they can bring warm water – and higher sea levels – from west to east across the Pacific, all characterizations of an El Niño. pic.twitter.com/0TrjhyWmxK
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) May 12, 2023
El Niño is also associated with weakening trade winds and can bring cooler, wetter conditions to the US Southwest and drought to countries in the Western Pacific, such as Australia and Indonesia. More specifically, here are the impacts on North America:
As of May 11, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said the probability of El Niño forming is greater than 90% over the next few months.
We have previously explained to readers that El Niño could affect global weather patterns and cause disruptions in the agriculture sector. Reports of heatwaves in Asia and Europe have already surfaced, with the possibility of rice crops being damaged in Thailand.
And to get the facts straight, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has stated, “El Niño and La Niña are naturally occurring climate patterns, and humans have no direct ability to influence their onset, intensity or duration.”
Sorry Greta, but attributing every weather change to evil fossil fuels won’t work this time.
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