Physic side

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El Niño La Niña

Definition:
El Niño and La Niña are two different things how can affect the atmosphere and the seawater. The La Niña causes warmer seawater and can cause more hurricanes. On the next two pictures I will show you the different between an El Niño and a La Niña. El Niño:

This picture shows how the El Niño affects the seawater and the weather in the colored area. La Niña:

I will first explain the colours in the picture, after that I will explain something more about the El Niño and La Niña. Colour: Meaning: Cool air Wet air Dry and cool air Warm and dry air Cool and Wet air Wet and Cool air Warm air Dry Wet and Warm

As you can see if there is El Niño conditions, which affects the water in the Atlantic Ocean, the seawater changes dramatic. The ocean atmosphere and also the seawater become colder and even weather condition become wetter. So more rainfall in the Caribbean area. The normal conditions for the Pacific Ocean are the warm water in the west and cold water in the area of the South American coast line. That is the reason, why hurricanes can’t approach San Francisco in normal conditions of the seawater. The El Niño conditions causes that the warmer water comes in the area of the South American coast line. The normal conditions of the colder air do not take place and this cause for increasing warmer air and seawater. The La Niña causes only that the warmer water is further west than usually. These phenomenon most have a magnitude 0.5 Celsius and most last long for more than 5 months to name it a El Niño or La Niña episode (year). If this is not, but the magnitude is over the 0.5 Celsius, than these ocean conditions called El Niño or La Niña conditions. One episode of an El Niño or La Niña can last for 2 years with a break of 2-7 years.

Signs:
El Niño: • Higher air pressure in the area of the Indian Ocean, Indonesia and Australia • Lower air pressure in the area of Tahiti and central and eastern Pacific Ocean • Trade winds weaken in the south Pacific • Warmer air in Peru, with causes rainfall in the dessert of Peru • Decreased fishing activity in Peru • Extensive drought in the West Pacific Ocean • Rainfall in dry areas of the East Pacific Ocean La Niña: • Cold ocean temperatures in the East Pacific Ocean • Atlantic hurricane activity can be increased by the La Niña episode. This means, that the hurricanes or tropical storms in the Atlantic Ocean, can be better developed and also more dangerous than in a non La Niña year.

Stages:
El Niño:

Stage 1: The seawater is getting warmer by the effects of the El Niño.

Stage 2: The seawater is still getting warmer. The blue (colder) areas are slowly disappearing.

Stage 3: The evolution of the El Niño is almost done. The blue areas are almost gone, only in the north and the south. In these areas is still colder seawater. As you look to the equator, the seawater around this area is very hot in compare to the first stage.

Stage 4: The evolution from the El Niño is complete. The seawater on the south coast of the Middle American continent is very hot and all the cooler seawater in this area is almost gone. This is now a perfect spot for hurricanes to develop.

These stages where made in the El Niño episode in 1997. Two years later after the El Niño a La Niña episode reaches the Pacific Ocean. La Niña:

Stage 1: The seawater in the south area of the Pacific Ocean is showing some cooling. But the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter.

Stage 2: The cooling is still in progress and the warmer areas are slowly disappearing to the west.

Stage 3: The cooling process is almost done. The warmer seawater moved to the south and the west. But on the Atlantic Ocean there are still signs of the warmer seawater, what can caused a perfect spot for hurricanes to develop!

Stage 4: The La Niña evolution is complete. The colder water has taking place for the warmer seawater. Moreover the seawater in the Atlantic Ocean is still warmer than normal.

These stages represent the La Niña event in 1999. Short after the El Niño episode two years earlier.

Sources:
http://facultyfiles.deanza.edu/images/gawrychjeff/sunrise.jpg http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/tutorials/enso.shtml