COASTAL WATERS WARM, BUT LA NIÑA STILL LINGERS
April 9, 2001 NOAA climate specialists are watching ocean temperatures warm off the coast of South America. Such warm water temperatures sometimes signal the onset of the global climate pattern called El Niño. Despite the warmer water, La Niña conditions are still dominating the global climate. La Niña is expected to weaken, however, and is not expected to significantly affect the weather this spring over North America. "Brief periods of warmer coastal waters do not necessarily indicate an El Niño," said NOAA's Climate Prediction Center research meteorologist Vernon Kousky. (Click on NOAA satellite image for larger view of La Niña conditions April 7, 2001. Click here to view the latest NOAA satellite images.)
According to Kousky, water temperatures along the coasts of Ecuador and northern Peru are typically at their warmest during the months of March and April. While water temperatures of this region have recently risen above normal, subsurface ocean temperatures remain near or below normal. Ocean surface winds will increase over the next several weeks, cooling the surface water temperatures again.
"El Niño, as the term is used today, reflects a warming of waters in the equatorial Pacific from the South American coast westward to near Indonesia," said Kousky. "It is this warming that causes changes in the jet streams, resulting in significant shifts in weather patterns worldwide."
El Niño can cause increased
rainfall and destructive flooding in the southern tier of the
U.S., throughout most of Indonesia, and in coastal sections of
northern Peru and Ecuador. Other areas, such as northeast Brazil,
southern Africa, northeastern Australia and Hawaii, experience
reduced rainfall and even drought during El Niño. Global
weather patterns associated with El Niño impact every
phase of human existence, including agriculture, transportation,
construction, heating and cooling, and water supply.