Adding to the grim list of record ice losses, record air temperatures and record droughts, all of which have been making headlines lately, the surface water temperature of our oceans is also at an all-time high. With El Niño looming on the horizon, there are fears that we will soon be facing the worst of the extremes. Satellites orbiting above the Earth are used to carefully track the patterns that lead to El Niño to better understand and predict the consequences of this cyclical phenomenon against the backdrop of climate change.
The ocean-atmosphere system associated with El Niño and La Niña, known together as the El Niño Southern Oscillation, is a driver of the large variations in the Global Oscillation. Temperature and precipitation, on top of the warming trend caused by climate change.
El Niño phenomenon occurs every few years trade winds Allow weakening warm water in the western Pacific to shift eastward, bringing with it changes in wind patterns and ocean dynamics. This can have a significant impact on weather around the world, leading to changes in ecosystems, fisheries, droughts, floods, and storms, among other things.
Climate models indicate that after three years of La Niña, which has a general cooling effect on the planet, in the next few months we will experience a return to the more disturbing El Niño.
Climate change is already fueling the recent temperature extremes that many of us have had to deal with, so the troubling question is whether the impending El Niño will make things worse.
Observing changes in sea surface temperature and elevation, along with surface wind patterns generated by interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere, helps us understand the mechanisms driving El Niño events.
Moreover, scientists have to take Climate change into account, which is likely to amplify the extremes that El Niño and future El Niño events will cause.
The satellites orbiting above are of paramount importance in providing data for this type of research because the equatorial Pacific Ocean, home to El Niño, is too large to monitor.
Lead oceanographer at the European Space Agency, Craig Donlon, said, “More than 70% of our planet is covered by oceans. They play an enormous role in the climate system.
“We all know our climate is warming – but I imagine most people think first of warmer air temperatures. In fact, our oceans absorb a lot of this extra heat, keeping the atmosphere relatively cool. This has come at a cost, and we are now seeing warmer temperatures. Our oceans are at their highest levels since records began.”
“Scientists around the world use Copernicus Sentinel-3 data which provides reference measurements of surface temperature along with sea level height data. They also use Copernicus Sentinel-6 which gives us the most accurate measurements of sea surface height. When does sea water warm and expand? – and is one of the biggest causes of sea level rise. Together, these complementary datasets work to provide a unique picture of an evolving El Niño.”
Built by the European Space Agency and operated by Eumetsat, the Copernicus Sentinel 3 mission is unique in providing measurements of global sea surface temperature as well as sea surface height from the same satellite platform.
The mission consists of two identical satellites, each carrying the same set of instruments — one is the Sea-Ground Temperature Radiometer, which measures daily global sea surface temperatures with an accuracy of more than 0.3 K.
the other is a Radar altimeter It measures sea level height, wave height, and wind speed. In addition, his imager, called the Ocean and Land Color Imager, allows scientists to study biological signatures in the ocean that have been modified by El Niño.
Sentinel-3’s radiometer is used by the Commission on Satellites to monitor Earth within a hypothetical constellation of sea surface temperature in order to better understand phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña, ocean currents, and heat exchange between Ocean And the atmosphere.
Sentinel-6 is the reference altimeter used to homogenize other satellite altimeter data to provide measurements of sea level rise every 10 days.
Most importantly, data from both tasks is delivered in near real time.
The European Space Agency is currently building two more Sentinel-3 satellites, Sentinel-3C and Sentinel-3D, to ensure continuity of such measurements. Looking into the future, the European Space Agency is also developing a follow-up mission to the next generation Copernicus Sentinel-3.
A second Sentinel-6 satellite is currently in storage and scheduled to be launched in the next few years to maintain sea level.
Because sea surface temperature is an important primary climate variable, the European Space Agency’s Climate Change Initiative is also feeding Sentinel-3 data to the Sea Surface Temperature Project.
The mission of the future Copernicus Microwave Imaging Radiometer is set to provide high-resolution measurements of sea surface temperatures in all weather conditions. In addition, the Copernicus Earth Surface Temperature Monitoring mission will provide very high-resolution data on sea surface temperature in coastal regions.
In short, the Copernicus program is well prepared to continue observing our oceans into the future.
Warming oceans is already a concern, and now with El Niño on the horizon, the world is ready for the impact it will have.
El Niño is likely to affect more than 60 million people, mainly in eastern and southern Africa, the Horn of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Asia-Pacific region.
Severe drought and associated food insecurity, floods, rains and higher temperatures due to El Niño can cause a wide range of health problems, including disease outbreaks, malnutrition, heat stress and respiratory illnesses.
Dr. added. Donlon.
European Space Agency
the quote: Satellites tracking the patterns that led to El Niño (2023, May 18) Retrieved May 19, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-05-satellites-tracking-patterns-el-nio.html
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