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Ocean heating will increase rainfall in east Asia

The upper ocean surface heating in the equatorial Pacific - an important oceanographic region in Earth's climate system - is likely to make the east Asian monsoon season wetter according to a new study by Rutgers University.

The study Recent frontiers of climate changes in East Asia at global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C published in a recent issue of said the recent increases in ocean heat content - where energy is absorbed by the waters - have been implicated in the intensification of tropical storms that draw their energy from the surface of the ocean. The link between ocean heating and rainfall on land is less clear.

Rutgers' School of Environmental and Biological Sciences marine and coastal sciences professor Yair Rosenthal said, "Our study suggests variations in ocean thermal structure affect the delivery of moisture, latent heat, and what happens when they arrive on land."

Tongji University China professor of ocean studies and lead author of the study Zhimin Jian found that over the past 360,000 years, increases in monsoonal rain in eastern China have been correlated with increases in the heat content of the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool - a region where sea surface temperatures remain above 27 degree Celsius year-round – could be due to enhanced transport of moisture and latent heat absorbed in the water vapour from the ocean to the continent.

According to the study, the changes in upper ocean heat content follow shifts in the Earth's orbit that occur about every 23,000 years and change the distribution of incoming solar radiation at each latitude.



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