Por primera vez en más de 60 años, los científicos han observado cambios en el patrón de vientos sobre las regiones ecuatoriales.

Un fenómeno climático de consecuencias desconocidas

tierra-desde-el-espacioEl cambio de patrón de la circulación de los vientos que se mueven en la zona de la estratosfera que se encuentra por encima de las regiones tropicales de la Tierra —un fenómeno conocido como oscilación cuasibienal, que no se había observado en décadas— aún no ha causado un impacto inmediato en el clima de la Tierra, pero ha despertado el interés de varios científicos de la NASA.

El responsable del estudio que ha documentado esta variación y ha aparecido en la revista ‘Geophysical Research Letters’, Paul Newman, es investigador jefe de Ciencias Terrestres en el Centro de Vuelo Espacial Goddard de la NASA y compara el fenómeno con el géiser Viejo fiel del parque nacional de Yellowstone (Wyoming, EE.UU.) —uno de los accidentes geográficos más predecibles del mundo— que, «si un día no se activa, te preguntarías qué sucede bajo tierra».

Las corrientes de la estratosfera tropical —la capa atmosférica desde alrededor de 16.000 hasta cerca de 48.000 metros de altura— circulan en dirección este y oeste de manera alterna cada 28 meses. Primero, los flujos del oeste que se encuentran en la parte alta descienden de manera gradual y dejan lugar a los del este; después, son los vientos del este los que bajan, mientras que los del oeste ascienden. Esta oscilación cuasibienal se conoce desde 1953 e influye en la cantidad de ozono de la atmósfera.

A finales de 2015, los especialistas observaron extrañas alteraciones en esa conducta: los vientos del oeste subieron y bloquearon el flujo descendente de los del este. Aunque todo volvió a la normalidad este julio, Newman y sus colegas estudiaron las causas y posibles consecuencias de ese fenómeno.
Una de las explicaciones podría ser el impacto que causó en ese periodo el fenómeno climático El Niño, aunque los investigadores no descartan que el motivo fuera el aumento de las temperaturas que vive nuestro planeta desde hace años. En definitiva, estos especialistas intentan averiguar si se trata de un ‘cisne negro’ —un evento que ocurre una sola vez en una generación—, o de ‘un canario en una mina de carbón’: una alteración fruto del cambio climático de consecuencias desconocidas.

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