More water stored along major rivers during El Nino years

Oct 11, 2012

El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) - the semiperiodic climate event associated with warming sea surface temperatures off the coast of Peru - not only disrupts atmospheric circulations, dramatically altering weather patterns across the globe, but also may be determining the amount of fresh water stored on continents in tropical rainforests, according to a new study.

Phillips et al. used more than seven years of satellite-based observations of fresh water content of continents from the Gravity Recovery and (GRACE) to show that between 2003 and 2010 the amount of fresh water stored on land (in terms of rain water, river water, lake, ground water, and snow) between the 15-degree north and 15-degree south latitudes depends on El Nino- Southern Oscillation. The authors also find that the effect of ENSO is strongest on land areas adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. The maximum increase in the amount of stored fresh water on land was observed during El Nino years along major in the Borneo region of southeast Asia, the Amazon, the Congo, and the Yangzte and Met Cong in China.

The authors suggest that these findings are not surprising given that meteorological conditions within 15 degrees north and 15 degrees south are sensitive to the location of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) - a zone of low pressure that brings heavy convective rainfall along the tropics; its location is sensitive to the same ocean temperatures and that ENSO disrupts. The authors feel confident that as more data become available, it would be possible to predict water storage in other regions of the world, particularly in the Arctic region, where their preliminary study suggests that ice loss could be associated with El Nino events.

Explore further: Study shows air temperature influenced African glacial movements

More information: The influence of ENSO on global terrestrial water storage using GRACE, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2012GL052495 , 2012

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Forecasters say El Nino may be developing

Jun 08, 2009

(AP) -- A new El Nino could be approaching. Sea-surface temperatures have been warming in the tropical Pacific Ocean, suggesting the potential for the development of the El Nino climate phenomenon this summer, according ...

Global warming's influence on El Nino still unknown

May 24, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The climate of the Pacific region will undergo significant changes as atmospheric temperatures rise but scientists can not yet identify the influence it will have on the El Nino-Southern Oscillation ...

Warm temps, El Nino delay lakes' freezing

Jan 12, 2007

A strong El Nino and warmer temperatures pushed back lake freeze dates for the Northeast and Midwest areas of the United States, a water scientist said.

Understanding autumn rain decline in SE Australia

May 23, 2008

According to a report from a CSIRO Wealth From Oceans Flagship study – published this week in the science journal Geophysical Research Letters – since 1950 Victoria has suffered a 40 per cent decline in aut ...

Recommended for you

Melting during cooling period

19 hours ago

(Phys.org) —A University of Maine research team says stratification of the North Atlantic Ocean contributed to summer warming and glacial melting in Scotland during the period recognized for abrupt cooling ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

22 hours ago

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Melting during cooling period

(Phys.org) —A University of Maine research team says stratification of the North Atlantic Ocean contributed to summer warming and glacial melting in Scotland during the period recognized for abrupt cooling ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...

New clinical trial launched for advance lung cancer

Cancer Research UK is partnering with pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Pfizer to create a pioneering clinical trial for patients with advanced lung cancer – marking a new era of research into personalised medicines ...

More vets turn to prosthetics to help legless pets

A 9-month-old boxer pup named Duncan barreled down a beach in Oregon, running full tilt on soft sand into YouTube history and showing more than 4 million viewers that he can revel in a good romp despite lacking ...