What's New Archive
Rainfall declines may affect U.S. West Coast and parts of the East Coast
New research by NOAA and a visiting scientist from India shows that warming of the Indo-Pacific Ocean is altering rainfall patterns from the tropics to the United States, contributing to declines in rainfall on the United States west and east coasts.
In a study published this week in the journal Nature, researchers report a doubling in the size of a warm pool of water spanning the western Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean in recent years. This Indo-Pacific warm pool in what is already the warmest part of the global ocean is expanding each year by an area the size of California.
The expansion is changing a key weather and climate feature called the Madden Julian Oscillation, which is characterized by a band of rain clouds that move over the tropical ocean from the Seychelles off Africa toward India and into the Pacific Ocean, influencing everything from monsoons in India to heat waves and flooding in the United States.
Warming ocean driving change in key climate pattern
The changes in the behavior of the MJO have brought a decline in rainfall to the central Pacific, the west and east coasts of the United States, north India, east Africa and the Yangtze basin in China. These same changes are causing an increase in rainfall over northern Australia, the Amazon basin, southwest Africa and Southeast Asia, researchers conclude.
“NOAA is part of coordinated international efforts to extend the range of accurate weather forecasts out to lead times of two to four weeks and the MJO is one of the most important keys to the success of this enterprise,” said Michael McPhaden, a senior scientist at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab and co-author of the study. “Our research provides a critical benchmark for determining which computer models to trust for extended range weather forecasting, based on their ability to simulate the observed behavior of the MJO in changing the climate.”
Though the entire Indo-Pacific Ocean has warmed, the warmest waters are over the west Pacific, creating a temperature contrast that drives moisture from the Indian Ocean to the west, enhancing cloud formation. This has changed the life cycle of the MJO. The length of time these clouds linger over the Indian Ocean has shrunk by four days from an average of 19 to 15 days. Over the west Pacific, the clouds now reside five more days. It is this change in the residence of MJO-driven clouds that is altering weather patterns around the globe, researchers found.
“Climate model simulations indicate that continued warming of the Indo-Pacific Ocean is highly likely, which may further intensify these changes in global rainfall patterns,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, lead author of the study with the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology who worked with McPhaden while visiting PMEL for the last year. “This means that we need to enhance our ocean observational arrays to monitor these changes accurately, and update our climate models to skillfully predict the challenges presented by a warming world.”
The study is part of a collaboration between NOAA and India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences, facilitated by the National Academy of Sciences with funding from NOAA’s Climate Program Office Climate Variability and Predictability Program. In addition to McPhaden, Chidong Zhang, also of NOAA PMEL, is a co-author of the research.
Originally posted on NOAA Research on November 27, 2019.
RAMA—The Research Moored Array for African-Asian-Australian Monsoon Analysis and Prediction— was established in 2004 to address fundamental questions related to the ocean’s role in monsoon dynamics. RAMA is the moored buoy component of the Indian Ocean Observing System (IndOOS), which is a coordinated system of sustained ocean based observing systems in the Indian Ocean designed to complement the constellation of earth observing satellites. IndOOS is in the final stages of a comprehensive, community-based decadal review, the goal of which is to update the observing system design based on new knowledge gained, new technologies that can be brought to bear, and practical lessons learned since inception more than 10 years ago. As part of this review, several recommendations have been made specific to RAMA, including a reconfiguration of the array to reduce its size from 46 to a more manageable 33 moorings. The updated array, referred to as RAMA-2.0, is more robust, capable, and cost-effective for meeting its scientific objectives. The full scope of the IndOOS decadal review, inducing all recommendations, can be found here.
The recent Research Moored Array for African-Asian-Australian Monsoon Analysis and Prediction (RAMA) cruise aboard the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown, which departed Goa, India on June 14, established three new RAMA sites in the Arabian Sea along 65E and 67E. The cruise also maintained five existing RAMA moorings along 67E and finished on July 19 in Darwin, Australia.
RAMA was designed to study the Indian Ocean’s role in the monsoons. One third of the world population depends on monsoon driven rainfall for agricultural production, so improving our understanding and ability to predict the monsoons has been a longstanding objective of the international scientific community.
RAMA, the newest tropical moored buoy array (the other two being in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans), was initiated in the traditionally data sparse Indian Ocean in 2004 via multi-national partnerships led by NOAA/PMEL. The new moorings bring RAMA to near completion and will help NOAA and other weather forecast centers around the world continue to improve monsoon predictions.
Oceanographic data will now be easily available worldwide in National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) website. There will be no restrictions of sharing data with the East for security reasons too, said Secretary of Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) Dr. M Rajeevan.
NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown steamed out of Charleston, South Carolina, on February 16, 2018 for a multi-stage trip around the world to improve ocean data that informs United States and global weather prediction.
Ron Brown's first mission will be to investigate ocean currents in the North Atlantic Ocean that influence global climate. From there, NOAA's ocean workhorse will journey south to the tropical Atlantic Ocean to replace four instrumented observing moorings in the Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic or PIRATA. The PIRATA moorings are part of a larger tropical observing system of buoys that provides ocean and atmospheric data that helps the U.S. and other nations predict droughts, floods, hurricanes and other weather affecting millions of people in the Americas and Africa.
Brazil recently issued an official postage stamp with photographs of the Ron Brown and vessels from Brazil and France to celebrate 20 years of collaboration between Brazil, France and the United States on the PIRATA ocean observing system.
See full article here.
28 talks will present research on ocean carbon, ocean acidification, ocean observing systems, Arctic research including the Distributed Biological Observatory and Arctic Marine Pulses (AMP), ENSO, MJO, hydrothermal vents, Saildrone research, air-sea interactions, SOCCOM, and ocean mixing. 26 posters will be up during the poster sessions and highlight research in the Arctic, hydrothermal vents, acoustics, methane bubbles and hydrates, Saildrone, Oculus Coastal Glider, ocean carbon, deep ocean temperatures, glider research in the Solomon Sea, and ocean acidification and hyopxia.
PMEL staff will also be chairing sessions and workshops on:
- El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diversity, Predictability, and Impacts
- Western Pacific and Indonesian Sea Circulation and Its Environmental and Climatic Impacts
- New Platform and Sensor Technologies: Advancing Research, Readiness, and Transitioning for Sustained Ocean Observing of Essential Ocean Variables
- Methane from the Subsurface Through the Bio-, Hydro-, and Atmosphere: Advances in Natural Hydrate Systems and Methane Seeps in Marine Ecosystems
- Cascadia Margin methane seep and hydrates to share results and coordinate future work
The 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting is co-sponsored by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), and The Oceanography Society (TOS). The meeting is an important venue for scientific exchange across broad marine science disciplines. Sessions will include all aspects of oceanography, especially multidisciplinary topics, as well as presentations that reflect new and emerging research on the global ocean and society, including science education, outreach, and public policy
July 2 - July 26: The Research Moored Array for African-Asian-Australian Monsoon Analysis and Prediction (RAMA) in the Indian Ocean began in 2004 as an international effort to improve understanding and ability to predict variability associated with the monsoon system. The array is now 78% complete and continues to grow through the formation of new partnerships.
The newest RAMA partnership is between NOAA and the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST). KIOST recently launched a new all purpose research vessel, the R/V Isabu, and is conducting a cruise in partnership with NOAA/PMEL to service three RAMA moorings along 67°E in throughout July 2017. Initial planning has also commenced for an Indian Ocean-Climate Workshop in Korea in late 2017 to identify common themes for a collaborative Korea-US research program over the next five years. The KIOST-NOAA Partnership is an exciting development to facilitate exchange of ideas and sharing of resources for advancing Indian Ocean science.
RAMA complements other moored buoy arrays in the Atlantic (PIRATA) and Pacific (TAO/TRITON). To learn more about RAMA, visit PMEL’s Global Tropical Moored Buoy Array’s website here.
PMEL’s Global Tropical Moored Buoy Array group has begun the 2017 field season of the Research Moored Array for African-Asian-Australian Monsoon Analysis and Prediction (RAMA) in the Indian Ocean.
PMEL scientists and engineers just finished participating in the collaborative US-Indonesian research cruise aboard the Indonesian research vessel Baruna Jaya VIII in support of the RAMA array. Dr. Michael McPhaden, Tim Nesseth, and William Higley (from the University of Washington’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Ocean and Atmosphere) serviced 5 RAMA moorings along 90°E. The cruise left Jakarta on February 20 and returned to Jakarta on March 16 with a mid-cruise port call in Sabang on northern Sumatra. During the mid-cruise port stop in Mike McPhaden briefed local and regional officials from the Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics (BMKG), which partners with NOAA in maintaining RAMA buoys in the eastern Indian Ocean.
RAMA is an international effort to improve understanding and ability to predict of the African-Asian-Australian monsoon system. It complements other moored arrays in the Atlantic (PIRATA) and Pacific (TAO/TRITON) Oceans. Since RAMA began in 2004, the array has since grown through the formation of new partnerships and is now 78% complete. To learn more about RAMA, visit PMEL’s Global Tropical Moored Buoy Array’s website here.
Last week, PMEL scientists attended the American Meteorological Society (AMS)’s Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA and the Alaska Marine Science Symposium (AMSS) in Anchorage, AK. Presentations covered research in the Bering Sea, data management and access, El Nino, sea ice, the Earth's energy imbalance, innovative technologies, and recent warming in the Pacific and others.
At AMSS, the Ecosystems and Fisheries-Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (EcoFOCI) group had multiple presentations and posters on the Bering Sea including topics on the recent marine heat wave in Alaska, linking annual oceanographic processes to contiguous ecological domains in the pacific Arctic, fish distributions, ecology, Saildrone and oceanography.
A wider range of topics were covered at AMS and included invited talks from Nick Bond, Chidong Zhang and Kevin Wood. Dr. Zhang spoke about the Dynamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation; Kevin Wood presented the Old Weather Project using historical U.S. ship logbooks to collect and analyze historical climate data; and Nick Bond discussed the recent warming in the NE Pacific. The annual meeting is the world’s largest yearly gathering for the weather, water, and climate community and brings together atmospheric scientists, professionals, students, educators and research’s from around the world. AMS is the nation’s premier scientific and professional organization promoting and disseminating information about the atmospheric, oceanic, hydrologic sciences.
Learn more about all our different research themes and groups here.
PMEL scientists, including scientists from the University of Washington's Joint Institute for the Study of the Ocean and Atmosphere (JISAO) and Oregon State University's Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies (CIMRS) are attending the American Geophysical Union (AGU)’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco this week, December 12-16. AGU's Falling Meeting is the largest Earth and space science meeting in the world bringing together the Earth and space science community for discussions of emerging trends and the latest research. Poster and talk topics include data integration, El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Indian Ocean temperature trends, hydrothermal plumes and vents, carbon dioxide in the tropics and Gulf of Alaska, aerosol research, and heat impacts on marine ecosystems and fisheries, tsunamis, and acoustic research.
The 2016 Arctic Report Card will be released Tuesday morning in conjunction with a press conference led by NOAA’s Jeremy Mathis. The 2016 Arctic Report Card brings together the work of 61 scientists from 11 nations to provide the latest information on multiple measures of Arctic environmental change, including air and sea surface temperature, sea ice, snow cover, vegetation, wildlife, and plankton abundance. Read the full report and highlights here as well as the press release. Watch the recorded press conference here.
Researchers will also present during a press conference Thursday morning some of the first scientific results from the 2015 Axial Seamount eruption including discoveries of previously unknown structures and new glimpses into the volcano’s internal plumbing. These new insights into the world’s most active and well-studied underwater volcano may help scientists better understand all volcanoes and the hazards they pose. Read the press release here. Watched the recorded press conference here.
Dr. Bob Embley from the Earth-Ocean Interactions group will be honored during the Awards Ceremony as part of the 2016 class of Fellows for his pioneering contributions to the understanding of deep-sea volcanism by fostering interdisciplinary investigations with advanced technologies.