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El Nino's impact on continental evaporation

22 January 2014

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As global temperatures gradually increase, more water is expected to evaporate into the atmosphere. But using satellite data, scientists have discovered that El Nino-induced droughts have caused global declines in evapotranspiration despite rising temperatures.

Terrestrial evaporation, or evapotranspiration, is the transfer of water from soil and vegetation into the atmosphere. It's a critical component of the global water cycle and, in recent years, it has gained increased attention due to its role in global warming and water cycle intensification.

It is well known that evaporation rates increase as temperature rises. A simple example is hanging wet clothes outside to dry: if it is hot outside, they dry faster than if it is cooler.

Source: ESA

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