Vessel returns with valuable data on El Nino

Vessel returns with valuable data on El Nino
Published: Aug. 18, 2015 at 7:53 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 18, 2015 at 8:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The research vessel Falkor has docked in Honolulu.  Aboard it, data that could be used to better understand El Nino.
Dr. Kelvin Richards, an oceanographer at UH Manoa, led the team.  They studied small scale mixing, which is how ocean currents at different depths interact with one another.
The profiling, done in the central equatorial Pacific, came at an optimal time as El Nino conditions are present.  By mapping the area, Richards could influence the way the severe weather spawned from El Nino is forecast.
"Certainly, improving models so they represent El Nino better is a big step towards getting better forecasts of the system," he said.
Dr. Richards and his team used submersibles to measure water temperature at different depths, and how the water mixed with itself.
"It's known that ocean mixing does have a relatively large impact on our climate," he said.
While forecasters watch atmospheric conditions above to predict severe weather, Dr Richards says it's equally important to look below.
"Our climate is very much affected by the interaction between the ocean and atmosphere.  Producing phenomenon such as El Nino."
Bottom line: the more we learn and understand about ocean temperatures--and the critical role they play in affecting our weather--the better off we can handle extreme situations.

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