El Nino, that warm-water weather spawner off the coast of South America, has long been been blamed for severe weather in many parts of the Americas. Today scientists said it affects rain patterns throughout the world.
Mapping yearly changes in rainfall around the globe, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite showed that El Nino is the main driving force for rainfall amounts in different locations.
"The rain-change index (a measurement from the TRMM), which comes directly from global measurements" Ziad Haddad of NASA said, "confirms that El Nino is the principal driver of global year-to-year rainfall change."
TRMM, a joint project between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), launched in 1997. Probing through clouds with microwaves, data from the TRMM is the first global picture of rainfall.
Scientists studied data from the TRMM satellite, detailed in a recent issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, to see where the greatest fluctuations in rainfall occurred, and correlated those extreme changes to episodes of El Nino.
Currently NASA is planning the Global Precipitation Measurement mission (GPM), a multi-national multi-satellite mission to expand the scope of TRMM. GPM will focus on producing three- dimensional maps of rain around the world every three hours.