This image shows water temperature (in degrees Celsius) at varying ocean depths and wind stress anomalies, averaged over the equatorial Pacific (120E-80W, 2S-2N) from January 2014 - 2016. Red colors represent higher than normal temperatures and longer arrows represent stronger than normal winds.
PMEL climate scientists describe in a recently published paper the relationship between the 2014-15 failed El Niño and this year’s monster El Niño as well as any similarities between the past strong El Niño’s. They examined changes in sea surface and sub-surface temperatures, winds, and volumes of warm water in the Pacific Ocean from 2014 to 2016.
What they found was that the highly anticipated 2014-15 El Niño event failed due to unusually strong easterly winds in the summer of 2014 which... more
In the News
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A major unanswered question about El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is why the largest El Niño events are stronger in magnitude than the largest La Niña events. This paper examines one of the leading hypotheses to explain this asymmetric behavior; namely, that westerly wind bursts (WWBs) create conditions to promote additional WWBs, and the sum total of all the WWBs that occur during the initiation and growth of an El Niño event impacts the eventual magnitude of the event. WWBs are short... more