Brian Dunbar Headquarters, Washington, D.C. November 9, 1993 (Phone: 202/358-0872) Mary A.

Hardin Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. (Phone: 818/354-5011) RELEASE: 93-205 TOPEX/POSEIDON DATA CONFIRMS EL NINO PREDICTIONS Sea surface measurements taken by the U.S.-French TOPEX/Poseidon satellite have confirmed that conditions are ripe for development of an El Ni¤o event in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean this winter. The El Ni¤o phenomenon has been blamed for causing devastating weather conditions around the world including the severe floods in the U. S. Midwest, colder than normal winters in the eastern United States and wetter than normal conditions in California. The TOPEX/Poseidon mission is addressing long-term climate issues. By mapping the circulation of the world's oceans over several years, scientists can better understand how the ocean transports heat, influences the atmosphere and affects long-term climate, said Dr. Lee-Lueng Fu, TOPEX/Poseidon Project Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif. Data from the radar altimeter onboard TOPEX/Poseidon reveal a new Kelvin wave moving toward the western coast of South America. A Kelvin wave is a large warm water mass that moves along the equator in the Pacific Ocean. Such Kelvin wave pulses sometimes give rise to El Ni¤o conditions in the eastern equatorial Pacific.

Using near real-time data from TOPEX/Poseidon, this most recent wave pulse has been confirmed by Drs. Jim Mitchell and Gregg Jacobs of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Mississippi. "This wave was generated in early August at the equator around 160 East latitude and moved eastward in the form of a bulge of sea surface elevation of about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) above normal," said Jacobs. - more -2The Kelvin wave pulse that began in August may have faded in strength in early October. The NRL team continues to monitor these developments in addition to using numerical ocean models to better understand the evolution of the Kelvin wave's strength, Mitchell said. The TOPEX/Poseidon data confirm an advisory issued recently by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Analysis Center that the El Ni¤o event would continue in 1993-94. This Kelvin wave, plus other oceanographic and meteorological indicators, has indicated a strong potential for the redevelopment of the El Ni¤o conditions that have persisted through two consecutive winters in 1991 and 1992, according to the NOAA advisory. Data from the satellite are distributed monthly for analysis by more than 200 scientists around the world. JPL manages the NASA portion of the joint U.S./French TOPEX/Poseidon mission. Launched Aug. 10, 1992, it is the second satellite in NASA's Mission to Planet Earth. NASA's Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) studies how the global environment is changing. Using the unique perspective available from space, NASA and its partners are observing, monitoring and assessing large-scale environmental processes that affect climate change.

MTPE satellite data, complemented by aircraft and ground data, will allow humans to better understand natural environmental changes and to distinguish natural changes from human-induced changes. MTPE data, which NASA will distribute to researchers worldwide, will be essential to humans making informed decisions about protecting their environment. - end -