More water stored along major rivers during El Niño years



El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO)—the semiperiodic climate event associated with warming sea surface temperatures off the coast of Peru—not only disrupts atmospheric circulations, dramatically altering weather patterns across the globe, but also may be determining the amount of fresh water stored on continents in tropical rainforests, according to a new study. Phillips et al. used more than 7 years of satellite-based observations of fresh water content of continents from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) to show that between 2003 and 2010 the amount of fresh water stored on land (in terms of rainwater, river water, lake water, groundwater, and snow) between the 15°N and 15°S latitudes depends on El Niño– Southern Oscillation. The authors also found that the effect of ENSO is strongest on land areas adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. The maximum increase in the amount of stored fresh water on land was observed during El Niño years along major river valleys in the Borneo region of southeast Asia, the Amazon, the Congo, and the Yangzte and Met Cong in China.