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Scientists probe Indian Ocean for clues to worldwide weather patterns
Date:9/22/2011

ides of the equator, and into the equatorial western Pacific, providing scientists a chance to measure the pulse of the whole life cycle of the MJO," says Chuck Long of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, AMIE's principal investigator.

The MJO plays a key role in driving tropical weather and climate variations during all seasons of the year. It also interacts with other atmospheric patterns, such as the El Nio/Southern Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation, that can shape weather and climate patterns across much of the globe.

Scientists need to better understand the MJO, both to improve long-range weather forecasts and seasonal outlooks worldwide, and perhaps make the leap to longer-term forecasts of climate that may extend years into the future.

In winter, for example, the onset of an MJO can set off atmospheric waves that travel across the globe and, about 10 days later, influence the location and severity of major storms on the west coast of North America, some of which cause significant flooding.

"If you can find out how an MJO event starts, you may get a couple of weeks' warning about wintertime storms in the United States," says NCAR scientist Mitchell Moncrieff, a member of the DYNAMO Science Steering Committee.

At present, the computer models that scientists use to study global weather and climate fail to capture the oscillation very well. The information from the field campaign can lead to significant improvements in the models.

As global climate changes, it is becoming more important to understand how the atmosphere and oceans interact to regulate Earth's temperature and respond to long-term variation.

Field projects such as DYNAMO and AMIE, with an emphasis on basic research, add to scientists' growing body of knowledge about the many interconnected components of Earth's complex climate system.

"The long-term applications and implications of the data that com
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Contact: Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-292-7734
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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