El Niño Modoki

Study: ‘El Nino’ changes result in more hurricanes in the Atlantic

The journal Science has published a study about ‘El Nino’ – the warming patterns in the Pacific Ocean – which says that a change in the phenomenon is likely to be indicative of additional seasons of greater hurricane activity in the Atlantic, and an increased number of storms entering the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico.

Characteristically, El Nino is supposed to produce a small number of Atlantic hurricanes, but that has been undergoing a change over the years. According to a study reported in Science, there are indications of the appearance of a new kind of El Nino – one which originated in the Central not Eastern Pacific – and is termed as El Nino Modoki, with the Japanese word meaning: ‘similar, yet different.’

Referring to the supposedly ‘different’ aspect of the El Nino Modoki, the study’s co-author, Peter Webster – a professor at the Atlanta University’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences – said that the changed El Nino dynamics come about when the warming system moves nearly 2485 miles west into the central Pacific.

Webster, who co-authored the study with the school’s Hye-Mi Kim and Judith Curry, said: “It’s not magic; if you move that heating more to the central Pacific you are not increasing the shear as much over the Atlantic Ocean. So what you finish up with is a possibility of more storms occurring in the western Atlantic Ocean.”

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