More rain for the Red Sea if El Niño breezes in

July 30, 2017

he El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has been shown, for the first time, to play a role in increased rainfall and storms along the Red Sea and surrounding regions.

During the winter months, from October to March, the northern Red Sea experiences northwesterly winds from the Mediterranean and southeasterly winds from the Gulf of Aden. These form the Red Sea Convergence Zone (RSCZ), an area characterized by cloudy skies and drizzle that contrasts with the typically clear weather of the region.

Ibrahim Hoteit and colleagues from the Earth Fluid Modellng and Prediction group at KAUST have explored how the intensity and position of the RSCZ affects rainfall during the winter months, and how it is influenced by ENSO.

"The Red Sea is a narrow basin, and so requires high spatially resolved data to accurately describe variations in the RSCZ," explains Hoteit. "This means we require extensive and accurate datasets to assess the influence of ENSO variability on the region's rainfall."

The team modeled rainfall patterns for the period 1979-2016 by combining data from a number of datasets from NASA: the ERA-Interim global atmospheric reanalysis and the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer for sea surface temperatures, with satellite data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission and APHRODITE, a dataset containing gridded daily precipitation.

Using data on wind speeds and patterns, the researchers first identified the position and intensity of the RSCZ and the locations of the associated high and low pressure systems. Then, to explore the mechanisms responsible for rainfall they analyzed variables, such as convective available potential energy, total column perceptible water vapor, and evaporation.

"As rainfall intensity is associated with the meeting of different water vapor fluxes, we used a moisture budget analysis to identify the sources of moisture and to estimate the amount of rainfall in the region," says Hari Prasad the first author of the study.

They found that the RSCZ shifts northward during the warming El Niño phase of the ENSO, which transports more moisture from the Arabian Sea, increasing the number of rainy days and the intensity of rain events and resulting in cooler than normal air from the north combining with warm air from the south over the RSCZ.

"We are working on building advanced models for short and long-term predictions, as well as investigating how changes in the global circulation patterns during ENSO years are connected with the Red Sea weather and climate, and vice-versa," says Hoteit.

King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

Related Rainfall Articles from Brightsurf:

Study projects more rainfall in Florida during flooding season
A new study by researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science projects an increase in Florida's late summertime rainfall with rising Atlantic Ocean temperatures.

Importance of rainfall highlighted for tropical animals
Imagine a tropical forest, and you might conjure up tall trees hung with vines, brightly colored birds, howling monkeys, and ... rain.

New study could help better predict rainfall during El Niño
Researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science have uncovered a new connection between tropical weather events and US rainfall during El Niño years.

Mediterranean rainfall immediately affected by greenhouse gas changes
Mediterranean-type climates face immediate drops in rainfall when greenhouse gases rise, but this could be interrupted quickly if emissions are cut.

Future rainfall could far outweigh current climate predictions
Scientists from the University of Plymouth analysed rainfall records from the 1870s to the present day with their findings showing there could be large divergence in projected rainfall by the mid to late 21st century.

NASA estimates Imelda's extreme rainfall
NASA estimated extreme rainfall over eastern Texas from the remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda using a NASA satellite rainfall product that incorporates data from satellites and observations.

NASA estimates heavy rainfall in Hurricane Dorian
Hurricane Dorian is packing heavy rain as it moves toward the Bahamas as predicted by NOAA's NHC or National Hurricane Center.

NASA looks at Barry's rainfall rates
After Barry made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, NASA's GPM core satellite analyzed the rate in which rain was falling throughout the storm.

NASA looks at Tropical Storm Barbara's heavy rainfall
Tropical Storm Barbara formed on Sunday, June 30 in the Eastern Pacific Ocean over 800 miles from the coast of western Mexico.

NASA looks at Tropical Storm Fani's rainfall rates
Tropical Storm Fani formed in the Northern Indian Ocean over the weekend of April 27 and 28, 2019.

Read More: Rainfall News and Rainfall Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to