Using computer simulations, researchers from MIT have found there’s a decrease in nitrous oxide emissions during El Niño events, according to a release from the university. In contrast, an increase in the greenhouse gas is seen during La Niña weather patterns.
The simulations were developed by revising models of soil temperature and moisture content to include likely nitrous oxide emissions. To check the accuracy of the created models, real data were compared to simulated data when possible. Through the test process, the models were found to be accurate and useful in understanding the importance of the nitrogen cycle and its role in climate change.
El Niño events create unusually warm waters in the Pacific Ocean, affecting temperature and rainfall patterns around the world. La Niña, the opposing weather pattern, occurs when colder waters take over the Pacific.