Exciting change is on the way! Please join us at nsf.gov for the latest news on NSF-funded research. While the NSF Science360 page and daily newsletter have now been retired, there’s much happening at nsf.gov. You’ll find current research news on the homepage and much more to explore throughout the site. Best of all, we’ve begun to build a brand-new website that will bring together news, social media, multimedia and more in a way that offers visitors a rich, rewarding, user-friendly experience.

Want to continue to receive email updates on the latest NSF research news and multimedia content? On September 23rd we’ll begin sending those updates via GovDelivery. If you’d prefer not to receive them, please unsubscribe now from Science360 News and your email address will not be moved into the new system.

Thanks so much for being part of the NSF Science360 News Service community. We hope you’ll stay with us during this transition so that we can continue to share the many ways NSF-funded research is advancing knowledge that transforms our future.

For additional information, please contact us at NewsTravels@nsf.gov

Top Story

To forecast winter rainfall in the Southwest, look to New Zealand summer

El Niño was long considered a reliable tool for predicting future precipitation in the southwestern United States, but its forecasting power has diminished in recent cycles, possibly due to global climate change. In a new study, scientists and engineers demonstrate a new method for projecting wet or dry weather in the winter ahead. This new method, a interhemispheric teleconnection, could promise earlier and more accurate prediction of winter precipitation in California and the southwestern U.S. The researchers called the new teleconnection the New Zealand Index because the sea surface temperature anomaly that triggers it begins in July and August in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, close to New Zealand. As the sea surface temperature in the region cools down or heats up, it causes a change in the southern Hadley cell, an atmospheric convection zone from the equator to about the 30th parallel south. This prompts a commensurate anomaly east of the Philippine Islands, which, in turn, results in a strengthening or weakening of the jet stream in the Northern Hemisphere, having a direct influence on the amount of rain that falls on California between November and March. For the study, an interdisciplinary team of scientists analyzed sea surface temperature and atmospheric pressure in 1- and 2-degree cells around the globe from 1950 to 2015. The team said this resulted in the unexpected discovery of persistent sea surface temperature and atmospheric pressure patterns in the southwestern Pacific Ocean that exhibited a strong correlation with precipitation in Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

Visit Website | Image credit: Amir AghaKouchak/University of California, Irvine