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Signos evidentes en el Pacífico de que se avecina un contundente El Niño

Los científicos han detectado una serie de ondas de Kelvin en el nivel del mar que se desplazan a través del océano

Madrid. (EP).- Cada diez días, el satélite francoestadounidense Jason-2 chequea todos los océanos del mundo, vigilando cambios en la altura de la superficie del mar, una forma de medir el calor en las capas superiores del agua.
Debido a que nuestro planeta es agua en más del 70% de su superficie, esta información es fundamental para las previsiones globales de tiempo y el clima. Últimamente, Jason-2 ha visto algo preparándose en el Pacífico y resulta muy parecido a lo que pasó en 1997.
“Se ha formado un modelo de alturas y temperaturas en la superficie del mar que me recuerda a la forma en la que el Pacífico se veía en la primavera de 1997”, dice Bill Patzert, climatólogo del Laboratorio de Propulsión a Chorro de la NASA.
“Aquello resultó ser el precursor de un gran El Niño”. “Todavía no podemos decir con seguridad que un nuevo El Niño se desarrollará en 2014, o lo grande que puede ser”, advierte Mike McPhaden, de la NOAA, “pero los datos de Jason-2 corroboraron un informe publicado el mes pasado”.
Lo que Jason-2 ha estado viendo es una serie de “ondas de Kelvin”, ondas masivas en el nivel del mar que se desplazan a través del Pacífico, desde Australia hasta América del Sur. Los meteorólogos están prestando mucha atención debido a que estas ondas podrían ser un heraldo de El Niño.
Los dos fenómenos, ondas de Kelvin y El Niño, están vinculados por el viento. Vientos alisios del Pacífico soplan de este a oeste, empujando las aguas superficiales calentadas por el Sol hacia Indonesia. Como resultado, el nivel del mar cerca de Indonesia es normalmente 45 centímetros más alto de lo que es cerca de Ecuador .
Los investigadores llaman a esa zona la “piscina caliente” -que es el mayor reservorio de agua cálida en nuestro planeta-. A veces, sin embargo, los vientos alisios se tambalean por unos días o semanas, y el exceso de nivel del mar crea una ondulación hacia las Américas. “Esa es una onda de Kelvin”, dice McPhaden. “No es raro ver a una par de ellas cada invierno”.
Lluvias torrenciales en América del Sur
El Niño -que produce lluvias torrenciales en América del Sur, en torno a las fiestas navideñas- ocurre cuando los vientos alisios decaen no sólo por unos días, sino por muchos meses. Entonces las ondas de Kelvin cruzan el Pacífico como una caravana, elevando el nivel del mar y dejando más cálidas aguas ecuatoriales en su estela.
“El Niño de 1997-1998 fue un ejemplo de libro”, recuerda Patzert. “En ese momento nos dieron los datos de TOPEX/Poseidon, un predecesor de Jason-2. Mapas de la superficie del mar mostraron un bulto blanquecino, lo que indica un nivel del mar de unos 10 centímetros más alto que de costumbre, moviéndose a lo largo del ecuador desde Australia a América del Sur”.
“El mismo patrón se repite en el año 2014”, dice McPhaden. “Una serie de ondas de Kelvin generadas por las explosiones de viento localizadas al oeste en el Pacífico occidental, se inició a mediados de enero de 2014 y se dirigió hacia el este. Este movimiento se potenció por un tercer debilitamiento de los vientos alisios del Pacífico ocurrido a mediados de abril”.
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