El Niņo and La Niņa

By Karey Burek

I never understood the differences between El Niņo and La Niņa, and why it affected the weather systems so much. I did some research and this is what I came up with.

El Niņo - As easterly trade winds decrease, warm water in the western Pacific flows eastward. This layer, typically 500 feet deep flows over cooler, nutrient rich water and blocks its normal upwelling along North and South America. Sea life in these areas can suffer from lack of food. A great example of this was off the coast of California in 1997. The mortality rate of California sea lions in non El Niņo years is 25 percent. In 1997, the mortality rate was 75 percent. This was due to the warm water rising to the top of the ocean and sending the food sources (jellyfish, squid) to cooler water, which was deeper and out of sea lion diving range. Another impact that El Niņo has on the environment is on coral reefs. When the water becomes warmer, the reef expels its algae and becomes white. Over time, the polyps eventually die.

La Niņa - Pushed westward by strong trade winds, warm surface water flows toward Asia. Colder deep-sea water upwells to the surface along the Americas.

 Nutrients become more plentiful and evaporation decreases, reducing storm cloud formation and rain in the region.  Drought and colder than normal temperatures are a result of La Niņa weather patterns.

As you can see, both El Niņo and La Niņa affect our weather and our environment.  It influences food sources, animals, humans and the weather.  

La Niņa - Pushed westward by strong trade winds, warm surface water flows toward Asia. Colder deep-sea water rises to the surface along the coast of the Americas. Nutrients become more plentiful and evaporation decreases, reducing storm cloud formation and rain in the region.  Drought and colder than normal temperatures are a result of La Niņa weather patterns.

As you can see, both El Niņo and La Niņa affect our weather and our environment.

It influences food sources, animals, humans and weather.

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