Science Bytes

‘Godzilla’ El Niño to be followed by La Niña this year

New Delhi, March 08 (G’nY News Service): The term El Niño refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific. The recent El Niño weather phenomenon has been one of the most powerful on record. Following its high impact over the past few months, National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) scientist Bill Patzert had nicknamed it ‘Godzilla’.

El Nino is suspected to be followed by its flip side, La Niña Apparently, the world will be relieved of the effects of El Niño towards mid -2016 followed by warmer winters in the Southeast and cooler winters in the Northwest, courtesy La Nina. La Niña episodes represent periods of below-average sea surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific. In the tropics, ocean temperature variations in La Niña also tend to be opposite those of El Niño.

El Niño leads to scorching heat and drought in parts of Africa instead of the expected rainy season and more rain in California and West and South US. It also leads to warmer temperatures globally. In December 2015 and January 2016, El Niño was found to be comparable to the strongest ever recorded weather pattern in 1997-1998.

But this time, “El Niño hasn’t brought drought-struck California as much moisture as earlier, though there are 2 months to go for a significant rainfall to be recorded”, states Mike Halpert, deputy director of the climate prediction centre.

While the UN agency had forecasted this El Niño to be the worst in 15 years, with ocean temperatures being measured more than 2.0-degree Celsius above average, the World Meteorological Organization ( WMO) feels, “El Niño has passed its peak based on specific temperature, wind and atmospheric pressure conditions. But it doesn’t mean that the threat is over. Its effect is declining very slowly and similar conditions can be expected in March, April and May as well.”

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