Indecisive El Niño

  • Released Friday, March 11th, 2005
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:56PM
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This animation shows El Niño's and La Niña's mulitiple personalites. The sequence begins with normal jet streams, normal sea surface temperatures, and normal wind patterns. The first change illustrates what occurs when a very strong El Niño strikes surface waters in the Central equatorial Pacific Ocean. Warm water anomalies (red) develop in the Central Pacific Ocean while normal westerly winds weaken and allow easterly winds to push the warm water up against the South American Coast. The second change in the animation illustrates typical La Niña conditions. Cold water anomalies (blue) develop as stronger than normal trade winds bring cold water up to the ocean surface. The third change in the animation illustrates the current, weaker El Niño. Warmer waters develop in the central Pacific Ocean and stay in place due to westerly and easterly wind patterns.


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab