1.3 Strong 2015-16 El Niño and Implication to Global Ecosystems from Space

Tuesday, 24 January 2017: 9:15 AM
Ballroom 6E (Washington State Convention Center )
Felix Kogan, NOAA/NESDIS, College Park, MD; and W. Guo

During 2015, sea surface temperature (SST) in the central tropical Pacific (TP) was warmer than normal, what indicated about potential for development of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). By December 2015, El Niño intensified when SST anomaly in the Niño-3.4 TP area reached +2.9° C, what indicated about the strongest event of the past 36 years. El Niño normally impacts weather, ecosystems and socioeconomics (agriculture, fisheries, energy, human health, water resource etc) on all continents. However, the current El Niño is much stronger than the recent strong 1997-98 event. Therefore, this paper investigates how the strength of El Niño impacts world ecosystems and which areas are affected. The vegetation health (VH) method and 36-year of its data has been used. Specifically, the paper investigates VH-ENSO teleconnection, focusing on estimation of vegetation response to El Niño intensity and transition of the impact from boreal winter to spring and summer. Two types of ecosystem response were identified. In boreal winter, ecosystems of northern South America, southern Africa, eastern Australia and Southeast Asia experienced strong vegetation stress, which will negatively affects agriculture, energy and water resources. In Argentina, southeastern USA and the Horn of Africa ecosystem response is opposite.  One of the worst disasters associated with ENSO is drought. The advantages of this study are in derivation of vegetation response to moisture, thermal and combined conditions including an early detection of drought-related stress. For the first time, ENSO impact was evaluated based on all events with |SSTa| > 0.5º C and >2.0º C. The current strong El Niño has already triggered drought in Brazil, southern Africa, southeastern Asia and eastern Australia during December-February. Such conditions will be transitioned from boreal winter to spring but not to summer 2016, except for two regions: northern Brazil and Southeast Asia.
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