Friday, June 13, 2014

Could we be saved from the El Nino monster?


Back in March, the combination of satellite data and sea temperature maps were telling us that we were going to be in for another El Nino.  This is the weather phenomenon that basically screws up the world’s climate for a year and here in Australia gives us below average rainfall and higher then average temperatures.  In short we cop the worst end of it.  This generally happens over a 12 month period, proceeding from when an El Nino first forms around April of one year through to April of the next year when a typical event has formed, peaked, and subsided.

The main focus of studying such events is scanning the Pacific Ocean for water surface temperatures.  In a normal year, such temperatures are flat across the entire ocean with very little fluctuation from area to area.  In an El Nino year, waters around the Western Pacific cool by about 5 degrees, while waters on the Eastern Pacific will rise in temperature by around 5 Degrees.  This is caused by a current several hundred meters under the ocean surface.  At this stage we'll leave it there, as the rest is rather complicated.  But for the maps below this will basically explain things.

This satellite scan from the 21st of April shows an El Nino event rapidly forming.  Note the white area in the ocean west of Peru, and the blue and deep purple areas above Australia.

Now interestingly check the image below here, taken on the 5th of June.  Though the signs of an El Nino are still present, look at the intensity of the colours - this is what is looking hopeful.  The El Nino could be pulling back.  Note the purples above Australia are almost absent (mostly blue), and the white patch west of Peru is gone.    The recent weather in Sydney would also support such a trend.  April and May were very dry, while the first few weeks of June have been moderately wet.  Over the last two weeks, there has been a number of days where solid rain has fallen.   

For all of us who live in non-air-conditioned units or flats or whatever - this is of particular interest.  If one knows of when we have a stretch of 35 degree days in a row, then you'll know exactly where I'm coming from.  Hopefully it may completely revert, and instead we get a La Nina, which is cooler wetter weather.  This is especially so when one has Asperger's Syndrome, as they are much more susceptible to the heat. 

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