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Archive for the ‘El Niño episode’ Category

La Niña Strengthening

Posted by feww on September 19, 2010

La Niña Conditions Continue to Strengthen Across the Equatorial Pacific Ocean.


Above map shows a 10-day average of sea-surface height and was acquired by the Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason-2 satellite on September 6, 2010. Higher water surface areas signifying warmer temperatures are shades of red-brown, and areas of lower water surface (cooler) are blue. White areas are normal condition.  “The El Niño weakens the westward trade winds that normally blow over the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Those winds keep eastern Pacific waters cool and concentrate warm waters in the western Pacific. A weakening of trade winds enables warm waters to gradually spread eastward, heating up the central Pacific. La Niña typically follows El Niño, and causes essentially the opposite conditions. La Niña strengthens the trade winds, spreading cool water from the South American coast to the central Pacific. This see-saw pattern of El Niño and La Niña can drive large-scale weather changes, especially in the tropics.” Full caption here… Source: NASA E/O. Click image to enlarge. Download large image (1 MB, PNG).

Sea Surface Temperatures


50 KM Global Analysis – updated weekly.

Current Conditions


Source: NWS/CPC/NOAA

Current SST Anomalies

SST Anomalies During El Niño

Current SST Anomalies
Above image shows SST Anomalies during the 2009 El
Niño episode, saved on July 27, 2009 and included for comparison.

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Posted in El Niño, El Niño conditions, El Niño episode, El Niño impact, La Niña, La Niña episode | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Your Worst Fears About El Niño

Posted by feww on March 21, 2010

Worst fears about El Niño may come true

The El Niño, formally known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or “ENSO” for short, is the most significant cause of large-scale climate variability in the tropics. El Niño episodes bring warmer than normal waters to the central and eastern Pacific Ocean from Indonesia in the western end to South America in the eastern end of the  ocean, helping to maintain the above-normal sea surface temperatures.

Figure below shows one of these Kelvin Waves progressing across the Pacific in February 2010.

Kelvin Wave Renews El Niño

The globes show sea surface height anomalies, which means places where the water surface is higher (red) or lower (blue) than average. A higher-than-average sea surface height at a given location indicates that there is a deeper-than-normal layer of warm water. Lower-than-average sea surface height indicates a shallower layer of warm water. The globes are based on 10 days of data centered on January 15, January 30, and February 15.

In January (left-hand globe), sea surface heights across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific were elevated (red), but not extremely so, potentially a sign that El Niño was weakening. But in early February, a strong sea level anomaly appeared northeast of Australia (center globe). This swell of deep, warm water is the start of the Kelvin wave, and by late February, it had spread eastward into the central Pacific (right-hand globe) and re-invigorated the current El Niño.

Where do Kelvin waves come from? Under normal conditions, the tropics’ prevailing easterly winds push Sun-warmed surface waters across the Pacific from the Americas toward Indonesia, creating a deep pool of warm water in the western Pacific. During an El Niño, the trade winds falter, and sometimes even reverse, for months. When the winds that maintain the warm pool falter, a large pulse of warm water from the western Pacific slides back toward the east. NASA Earth Observatory images by Jesse Allen, Kevin Ward, and Robert Simmon. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey, based on interpretation provided by Josh Willis and Bill Patzert, NASA JPL.

Related Links

  • El Niño [Main Page, Links to Weekly Updates Archive]

Posted in El Niño episode, ENSO, Equatorial Pacific, Kelvin Waves, Trade winds | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »