NASA Will Examine Oregon Coast, Pacific Ocean More Closely from Space

Published 10/20/2015 at 6:22 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff


(Manzanita, Oregon) – As a powerful El Nino pattern is gearing up in the Pacific Ocean, NASA will be taking a much closer look at this unusually warm pool of water off the western U.S., which includes the Oregon coast. (Above: NASA climate modeling graphic of El Nino in '97).

Scientists at the World Meteorological Organization say this El Nino is predicted to be the strongest since that of 1997-98, which caused all sorts of meteorological anomalies around the world, including stronger storms along the Oregon coast. With that in mind, NASA plans to train the eyes of 19 satellites onto the Pacific, examining the weather patterns that emerge from that aquatic environment.

El Nino patterns happen every two to seven years, raising ocean temperatures two to three degrees Celsius higher than normal. Their impact can be worldwide, from droughts or flooding in California, Oregon and even Australia.

“El Niño is a fascinating phenomenon because it has such far-reaching and diverse impacts,” said Lesley Ott, research meteorologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. “The fact that fires in Indonesia are linked with circulation patterns that influence rainfall over the United States shows how complex and interconnected the Earth system is.”

NASA's satellite observations will be paired with supercomputer processing power for modeling systems, giving scientists a comprehensive suite of tools to analyze El Niño events and their global impacts.

The connections between global weather patterns affected by El Nino are complex – and they area wide-ranging. One area scientists will be looking at is how El Nino can change the fire seasons in the western U.S., Amazon and Indonesia. It's believed El Nino can also affect the yearly variability of ozone that comes up from the surface.

Other areas the satellites will be eyeing include the eastern Pacific Ocean, where warmer waters can help spur on disasters like floods and fires. The spacecrafts will be tracking storms, cloud cover and other patterns caused by this area's warmer ocean, which can have devastating effects on fisheries and other industries.

Below: Astoria and Newport, on the Oregon coast, as seen from space.




 

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