The scary phenomenon that NASA’s advanced satellite caught in the ocean

NASA has observed the preparations for the start of one of the world’s famous climate cycles, which every 2 to 7 years causes large anomalies in the climate of the entire planet, from space, and says that if it is large, the planet will witness an unprecedented warming.

Michael Freilich’s Sentinel-6 recorded Kelvin waves moving eastward across the Pacific Ocean, a phenomenon often considered a precursor to El Niño.

NASA detected early signs of the El Niño weather cycle from space after one of its satellites spotted warm water in the Pacific Ocean moving eastward toward the west coast of South America in March and April.

Data from Michael Freilich’s Sentinel-6 satellite, which monitors sea levels, showed Kelvin waves across the Pacific Ocean. These long ocean waves are only 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) high, but hundreds of miles wide, and when they form at the equator they transport the warm upper layer of water into the western Pacific, acting as a precursor to El Niño.

The Sentinel-6 satellite is a radar altimeter satellite built by the European Space Agency (ESA) within the framework of the European Copernicus program led by the European Commission and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) cooperate with this project with the financial support of the European Commission and the technical support of the French National Center for Space Studies (CNES).

“We will be watching El Niño like a hawk,” Josh Willis, Michael Freilich’s Sentinel-6 project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said in a statement. If it is large, the planet will experience unprecedented warming.

How often does El Niño happen?


El Nino is one of the world’s famous weather cycles, which every 2 to 7 years causes great anomalies in the climate of the entire planet. Among these anomalies, we can mention sudden floods, droughts, famines and epidemics.

El Niño is simply a macro climatic event that occurs due to the release of accumulated energy in the world’s largest ocean area, the South Pacific Ocean. Its primary sign is the change in the direction of the flow of cold and hot water as well as the winds of this region.

Accordingly, El Niño occurs when sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific become significantly warmer than average, causing changes in atmospheric circulation. More heat in the atmosphere and warmer ocean surface temperatures could lead to increased wind speeds in tropical storms, severely affecting marine life along the Pacific coast.

El Niño is part of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate cycle. Normally, the prevailing easterly winds along the equator drive surface water westward across the Pacific Ocean, moving warm water from South America toward Asia, so as warm water moves, cold water rises instead.

El Nino is associated with a weakening of these winds, which causes warm water to be pushed eastward.

This has a significant impact on weather patterns around the world. For the United States, that means wetter weather in southern parts and warmer weather in the Northwest.

El Niño’s counterpart, La Niña, has the opposite effect, with strong winds pushing more warm water westward.

As mentioned, El Nino usually happens every 2 to 7 years. The last El Niño occurred in 2019 and lasted for six months, between February and August.

Is this an El Nino year?


Representatives of the US National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) said on May 11 that there is a 90 percent chance that El Niño will occur this year and last through the Northern Hemisphere winter. According to NOAA forecasts, there is an 80 percent chance that this year’s El Niño will be moderate and raise ocean surface temperatures by one degree Celsius.

The US National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration says there is a 55% chance of a strong El Niño occurring with a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Images taken by the Sentinel-6 satellite between the beginning of March and the end of April show Kelvin waves moving warm water eastward and dumping it on the coast, JPL said in a May 12 statement. Colombia, Ecuador and Peru collect. The red and white parts of the images represent warmer water and higher sea levels.

“Ocean waves spread heat around the planet, bringing heat and moisture to our coasts and changing our climate,” NASA program scientist and Sentinel-6 director Nadia Vinogradova-Schiffer said in a statement.

The National Atmospheric Administration and NASA will continue to monitor conditions in the Pacific Ocean in the coming months to determine how and when El Niño will occur and how strong it could be.

“Here in the southwestern United States, we could see another wet winter like last winter,” Willis says.

Scientists recorded the highest ocean surface temperature in April with a global average of 21.1 degrees Celsius. This record reflects the impact of climate change and the last La Niña that has ended.

“La Niña is now over and the tropical Pacific, which is a vast ocean, is warming,” said Michael McFadden, an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

Willis also says the combination of El Nino and increased ocean temperatures could mean a string of records over the next 12 months. “If El Nino really takes off, this year will be a strange year,” he said.

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