New research is finding that there is a signal in the atmosphere that will help show when El Nino conditions will change weather patterns across the U.S.
Orange colors indicate water at the equator that is warmer than average. This is El Nino.
El Nino – NOAA Visualization Lab
El Nino occurs when ocean water at the equator warms above average and stays warm for an extended period of time. Those warmer waters will throw off the normal atmospheric flow.
El Nino Pattern – Climate Prediction Center, NCEP, NWS
The El Nino pattern will typically affect the winter months. In Indiana, during an El Nino, we will see a dry and warm winter. However, El Nino does not guarantee that these conditions will be seen. There have been some years where we were in an El Nino and we did not see our weather patterns change.
New research has shown that there is a signal that will better tell scientists when the weather patterns will change. Ed Harrison, Ph.D. of the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle and Andrew Chiodi, Ph.D., of the NOAA Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington, co-wrote the paper on the research.
Their findings show that El Nino years when heat radiation from deep convective clouds decreased, those years showed that the weather patterns were shifting. They found this by comparing satellite imagery for all El Nino years. They also found that El Nino years where the weather pattern did not change, there was no drop in heat radiation from the convective clouds.
One other thing that they noticed was the timing of when the drop of radiation occurred. This could help forecasters in the future when putting together seasonal forecasts. This could help companies, including oil companies, better prepare for the winter season.