Focus Areas E2- Oceanography

Changes during an El Nino episode

Various changes in the atmosphere and ocean are observed during an El Niño. These changes are used by weather scientists as signs of an increased risk of certain weather events (e.g. bushfire and drought) in the environment and for human populations around the Pacific basin and countries bordering the Indian Ocean.  

These signs include:

  • higher than normal sea surface temperatures within the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean;
  • weaker than normal easterly trade winds (these are the south-easterly winds in the Southern Hemisphere which affect tropical and sub-tropical regions including the north-east region of Australia);
  • increased cloudiness in the central tropical region of the Pacific Ocean; and
  • negative values of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI).

Outcomes
Students learn about El Niño and La Niña
Students learn to identify features of El Niño and La Niña