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JPL Niño

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The oceanic phenomenon known as, "El Niño" has apparently moved from the eastern equatorial to the central equatorial area of the Pacific Ocean.

This potentially significant development was reported by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Tong Lee and Michael McPhaden of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

From the JPL press release:


"'Our study concludes the long-term warming trend seen in the central Pacific is primarily due to more intense El Niños, rather than a general rise of background temperatures,' said Lee.

"'These results suggest climate change may already be affecting El Niño by shifting the center of action from the eastern to the central Pacific,' said McPhaden. 'El Niño's impact on global weather patterns is different if ocean warming occurs primarily in the central Pacific, instead of the eastern Pacific.

"'If the trend we observe continues,' McPhaden added, 'it could throw a monkey wrench into long-range weather forecasting, which is largely based on our understanding of El Niños from the latter half of the 20th century.'"

The full release is here, including thermal imagery from the Jason-1 spacecraft.

Related: JPL's Bill Patzert, of La Niña fame
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Photo Credit: The image accompanying this post was taken by Flickr user Fr Antunes. It was used under Creative Commons license.

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