January 01, 1996
This image compares a computer simulation (top) with observations (bottom) of Pacific Ocean sea levels during December 1994. The colors show the sea level relative
to a 2-year mean averaged over 1993 - 1994: magenta indicates 15 centimeters lower than average and red 15 centimeters higher than average. El Niño caused the
excessive heat (red and yellow) associated with the high sea levels in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean. The rise of tropical air and formation of rainclouds
contributed to the severe weather and heavy rains in California during winter 1995.
This comparison shows that the model underestimated the magnitude of oceanic features during this El Niño event. Using TOPEX/Poseidon data, scientists are working
to improve the performance of such models, with the goals of reliably predicting future climatic events.
JPL Identification #: P-46845
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
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