State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

El Niño: The Basics

ElNinoLaNinaIRIForecasts suggest we’re looking ahead to an El Niño event this year—a warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean around the equator that can affect weather patterns around the globe. But what exactly is an El Niño event, how strong do forecasters think it’s likely to be, and just how will it affect our weather?

El Niño and its cooler counterpart, La Niña, are part of a complex climate system that has been fluctuating for millions of years, involving ocean temperatures, changes in atmospheric pressure, and wind and rainfall patterns around the Pacific and beyond. Researchers at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society keep a close eye on the phenomenon, issuing regular forecasts and working to better understand the system’s dynamics.

For anyone wanting to better understand what’s going on—and what might happen as a result—the institute has prepared key information about El Niño on its website. Check out these stories:

Eight misconceptions about El Nino (and La Nina)
June 2014 Climate Briefing: El Niño Likely to Develop this Summer
El Niño’s Impacts on Water, Agriculture and Health
El Niño Primer for the Global Health Community
Why do ENSO Forecasts Use Probabilities?
– Video: El Niño’s Potential Impacts to Malaria

For more on El Nino, visit this page on the IRI site.


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