By Charles Poladian, International Business Times, For SouthFloridaReporter.com, Oct. 21, 2015 – A strong El Niño is predicted for this winter, but the weather phenomenon affects a lot more than temperatures. El Niño can influence precipitation, forest fires across continents and fishing industries around the seas. Luckily, NASA is up to the task of tracking El Niño with a slew of Earth-observing satellites.
El Niño 2015 is expected to rival the mighty 1997 event that led to severe flooding, tornadoes and other extreme weather across the U.S. The 2015 event may be among the strongest on record, but NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are busy monitoring El Niño using a fleet of satellites. The Ocean Surface Topography Mission on the Jason-2 satellite will be one of the workhorses the space agency relies on this winter.
Jason-2, launched in 2008, has the formidable task of monitoring Earth’s oceans. The satellite measures changes in sea surface height, which can be used to track events like El Niño. Jason-2’s ability to measure how oceans store heat is also important in tracking El Niño. Other satellites, like the Global Precipitation Measurement Mission and the Soil Moisture Active Passive mission, can monitor precipitation and surface-level moisture.