Weather forecasters have long known that El Niño events can throw seasonal climate patterns off kilter, particularly during winter months.
Now new research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Washington suggests that a different way to detect El Niño could help forecasters predict the unusual weather it causes, according to NOAA.
“When it comes to El Niño’s weather impacts, we are always looking for ways to improve our forecasting skill,” Ed Harrison, of the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, said in a statement. “Our goal is to extract the most useful information to predict El Niño seasonal weather anomalies.”
El Niño refers to a warming of waters along the equator in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Through its influence on the atmosphere, El Niño shifts tropical rainfall patterns, which causes further shifts in weather around the globe, including milder winters in western Canada and parts of the northern United States and wetter winters in some Southern states.