Mar 3, 2006

Scientists Predicting A 2006 La Niña

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(Geneva) Scientists at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) believe that evidence exists of an upcoming La Niña, a weather phenomenon that originates off the western coast of South America but which produces climate changes in many parts of the planet.

"Combined with broader tropical Pacific ocean and atmosphere conditions, this is consistent with the early stages of a basin-wide La Niña event," a memo from the WMO read. "It is unprecedented in the historical record for a La Niña of substantial intensity or duration to develop so early in the year."

La Niña, which last occurred from mid-1998 until early 2001, typically brings dryer weather to the southwestern United States, Florida and western Latin America, while delivering above-average rainfall to Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and the Philippines.

A typical La Niña episode lasts between nine and twelve months, although some last several years. The WMO belives that there is a significant possiblity that the weather phenomenon could be of high intensity.

"Most models and expert interpretations favour the event dissipating quite rapidly over the next three to six months," the agency said. "Nonetheless, neither a continuation of La Niña beyond mid-year, nor the development of El Niño in the second half of 2006, can be ruled out as possible outcomes from the current prevailing situation."

11 comments:

Stefan Schmidt said...

La Niña, which last occurred from mid-1998 until early 2001, typically brings dryer weather to the southwestern United States, Florida and western Latin America, while delivering above-average rainfall to Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and the Philippines.
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Good news for Florida—less hurricanes!

historymike said...

Could be, Stefan, although hurricanes depend more on climate conditions in West Africa, where they originate.

Also, warmer water temperatures in the Carribean help intensify hurricanes.

Florida could have drier overall conditions, but still get smacked with the occasional hurricane, in a La Niña year.

Stephanie said...

First question: how do you make the tilde over the "n." I've never been able to figure that out on a computer.

Second question: what's the difference between El Nino and La Nina.

historymike said...

1. Hold the ALT key and use the following codes to make these Spanish letters:

á 160 ¿ 168
é 130 ¡ 173
í 161 ª 166
ó 162 º 167
ú 163 Ñ 164
É 144 ñ 165


2. Wikipedia has an in-depth explanation of the two phenomena.

Shorter definitions from Wiktionary:

El Niño is an invasion of warm water into the surface of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Peru and Ecuador every 4 to 7 years that causes changes in local and regional climate.

La Niña is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, as compared to El Niño, which is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.

Both phenomena disrupt normal weather patterns around the globe.

Some scientists speculate that an increasing number and intensity of these phenomena may be related to increasing global temperatures

Stephanie said...

Cool! Thank you! Though, for me the Ñ and the ñ are reversed as per the code.

"Some scientists speculate that an increasing number and intensity of these phenomena may be related to increasing global temperatures"

Probably. All I remember is there's supposed to be a bumper crop of shrimp or caviar somewhere because of an El Niño.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Mike,

As usual, I will bet against the weather experts.

At least, until they can get the local weather right 72 hrs. in advance...

;-)

historymike said...

Yes - I think only meteorologists can be wrong so often and still have job security.

liberal_dem said...

The fact that the Antarctic ice Sheet is melting faster than new snows can replace it, ought to wake up our administration to the problems of greenhouse gases.

However when Bush and his cadre supress vital environmental data and silence their own scientists, he and his associates may well rank in future years as the prime agents of the world's environmental disaster.

Hooda Thunkit said...

liberal_dem,

You might have a point except that ozone has been declining for years and the ice sheets are still melting.

Maybe if we step back and look at the bigger picture, we might find that this has happened before and man has very little to do with it.

It's called a long-term weather cycle.

If we hadn't reduced the ozone causing emissions from flourocarbons the difference would still have been minimal; but every bit helps ;-)

historymike said...

Yes, the temperatures of the Earth do fluctuate, Hooda.

The problem is the timing; this 200-year spike in average temperature also coincides with man's production of greenhouse gasses.

The question is if humans are wholly, partially, or not responsible for the uptick.

Is this a purely cyclical phenomenon that human polllution has no bearing on, or are the rising temperatures directly related to greenhouse gasses produced through the widespread use of fossil fuels?

Stephanie said...

I wouldn't go so far to say that human activity has no effect, but to say we've caused it is probably equally false. My suspicion is that we sped this trend up on an already occuring time-table.

Even our little bit can accomplish in 200 years what might otherwise take 500 years, and the difference would definitely be both noticable and profound. However, since there is no other Earth to compare it to, I doubt it's a question we'll ever really know the answer to conclusively.