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Climate scientists say Asian monsoon forecasts could improve

April 23, 2013 at 4:03 PM   |   Comments

SAN DIEGO, April 23 (UPI) -- Researchers say summer monsoons important to water and food supplies for more than 1 billion people in Asia may be predictable months in advance.

A study led by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, has linked monsoons with climate patterns that occur months in advance and half a world away, a university release reported Tuesday.

The connection, linking the winter appearance of the climate phenomenon called El Nino in the Pacific Ocean with monsoon formation in the Indian Ocean six months later, could drastically improve the ability of forecasters to reliably predict the monsoon a few months in advance, the researchers said.

The link, they said, is an atmospheric phenomenon called the Pacific-Japan pattern that provides the connection between the two ocean basins and further poleward to East Asia.

"It has long been a mystery that climate anomalies in the region correlate better with El Nino in the preceding winter than with the one developing in the concurrent summer," climate scientist Shang-Ping Xie said. "The new paper shows that Indian Ocean temperature and atmospheric anomalies in the western Pacific are physically coupled, and their interactions amplify each other.

El Nino years are characterized by unusual weather and storm activity globally, the researchers said.

"We demonstrated that this new mode of coupled ocean-atmospheric anomalies is predictable a season ahead," Xie said. "Such predictions have tremendous benefits to society."

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