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Predicting Precipitation

Predicting Precipitation

June 15, 2016

Physical oceanographers Laifang Li, Ray Schmitt, and Caroline Ummenhofer (left to right) look over an illustration depicting a recently discovered link between sea-surface salinity and rainfall in the Sahel, an impoverished region of Northern Africa. By analyzing decades of data, the researchers found that they were able to connect salinity patterns—a proxy for evaporation and rainfall over the ocean—with rainfall patterns in the Sahel months later. They suspect that a similar pattern exists in other parts of the world, and that salinity may be a better predictor of rainfall than the more commonly used variable of sea-surface temperature. (Photo by Jayne Doucette, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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