Press Trust of India 23. September 2019 14:24:07 IST
The rainfall on some Indonesian islands such as Sumatra, Java and Borneo affects the climate in regions that are even thousands of kilometers away, according to a new study.
Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Papua New Guinea, together with a number of smaller islands, form part of the so-called "sea continent," which, according to the researchers, has significant rainfall experience, including "periodic monsoon rains and flash floods." The study published in the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences revealed details of the relationship between a larger atmospheric phenomenon called Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) and daily precipitation patterns in the Maritime Continent.
According to the study, the MJO orbits the globe around the tropics and can affect the weather on weekly to monthly time scales, alternating between cloudy and sunny periods.
Researchers, led by atmospheric researcher Giuseppe Torri at the University of Hawaii, found that the impact of the MJO on Sumatra's daily rainfall patterns was quite significant. According to the researchers, when the MJO was active near the lake continent there was more water vapor and therefore a greater chance of rainfall.
The study also found that the MJO was associated with more variations in water vapor during the day compared to a suppressed phase. During the MJO's active phase, the study found that clouds and rain tended to move faster off the coast at night.
"Given the existing scientific literature, we felt that the MJO had an impact on local convection on the sea continent," Torri said. He added that he was surprised at how well he saw the convection spread out off the coast in the late evening. "This is due to the density of GPS network stations that we considered," he said.
Researchers used location data from a network of GPS stations installed in Sumatra and neighboring islands by a team of scientists interested in monitoring tectonic activity along the west coast of Sumatra.
They found that the GPS was distorted by the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. The researchers then found that the distortions recorded in the GPS stations could provide useful information about the state of the atmosphere.
According to the researchers, the MJO could be one of the most important phenomena on the planet affecting the weather and the climate of regions even thousands of miles away from the sea.
The researchers emphasized that a better understanding of the MJO and a good way to simulate it are important for understanding the Earth's current and future climate trends.
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