by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 19, 2012
La Nina, "the diva of drought," is peaking, increasing the odds that the Pacific Northwest will have more stormy weather this winter and spring, while the southwestern and southern United States will be dry.
Sea surface height data from NASA's Jason-1 and -2 satellites show that the milder repeat of last year's strong La Nina has recently intensified, as seen in the latest Jason-2 image of the Pacific Ocean, available here.
The image is based on the average of 10 days of data centered on Jan. 8, 2012. It depicts places where the Pacific sea surface height is higher than normal (due to warm water) as yellow and red, while places where the sea surface is lower than normal (due to cool water) are shown in blues and purples.
Green indicates near-normal conditions. The height of the sea surface over a given area is an indicator of ocean temperature and other factors that influence climate.
This is the second consecutive year that the Jason altimetric satellites have measured lower-than-normal sea surface heights in the equatorial Pacific and unusually high sea surface heights in the western Pacific.
"Conditions are ripe for a stormy, wet winter in the Pacific Northwest and a dry, relatively rainless winter in Southern California, the Southwest and the southern tier of the United States," says climatologist Bill Patzert of JPL.
"After more than a decade of mostly dry years on the Colorado River watershed and in the American Southwest, and only two normal rain years in the past six years in Southern California, low water supplies are lurking. This La Nina could deepen the drought in the already parched Southwest and could also worsen conditions that have fueled recent deadly wildfires."
NASA will continue to monitor this latest La Nina to see whether it has reached its expected winter peak or continues to strengthen. A repeat of La Nina ocean conditions from one year to the next is not uncommon: repeating La Ninas occurred most recently in 1973-74-75, 1998-99-2000 and in 2007-08-09.
Repeating La Ninas most often follow an El Nino episode and are essentially the opposite of El Nino conditions. During a La Nina episode, trade winds are stronger than normal, and the cold water that normally exists along the coast of South America extends to the central equatorial Pacific.
La Nina episodes change global weather patterns and are associated with less moisture in the air over cooler ocean waters. This results in less rain along the coasts of North and South America and along the equator, and more rain in the far Western Pacific.
The comings and goings of El Nino and La Nina are part of a long-term, evolving state of global climate, for which measurements of sea surface height are a key indicator.
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Map project accuses Google users of edits
San Francisco (UPI) Jan 17, 2012
The OpenStreetMap project, an open source mapping group competing with Google Maps, say user accounts in India linked to Google have tampered with its data. Accounts attached to a range of Google Internet addresses in India have been maliciously vandalizing OpenStreetMap data, OSM project members said. The allegation comes after an incident in which users behind a Google IP [Inte ... read more
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