Messenger - Vol. 2, No. 1, Page 12 Fall 1992 Checking out the ocean's hot spots A University of Delaware oceanographer has produced a satellite image pinpointing the ocean's hottest water--a warm pool around 29.5 Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) just above New Guinea. Xiao-Hai Yan, associate director of the University's Center for Remote Sensing, has developed data processing software to convert satellite data into the image, which graphically corroborates shipboard observations. Such satellite images will give researchers a powerful tool to track the so-called Pacific warm pool as its temperature and size fluctuate each year. The Pacific warm pool plays a key role in regulating the Earth's climate by storing and transporting both heat and greenhouse gases, Yan says, and his comparison of satellite data from 1982-1990 shows a slow warming trend and a gradual increase in area. Yan says that satellite observations may give new insight into El Nino, because the early stages of this notorious warm current may develop in the Pacific warm pool. As El Nino flows south along the western coast of South America, it disrupts local fishing and climates in distant places. According to Yan, El Nino events have been accompanied by droughts in Australia, India and Africa; floods in South America and China; and severe winter storms in the U.S. and Asia. "Therefore, it is extremely important to understand the relationship between the warm pool dynamics, El Nino events and global climate changes," he says.