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Observing El Niño

2 minutes

(male narrator) El Niño and La Niña are periodic weather patterns resulting from interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Ocean temperatures indicate the presence of El Niño and La Niña, which sometimes lead to extreme weather in many parts of the United States.

(Describer) Weather like flooding and heavy snowfall.

NOAA climatologists closely track the development of these oscillating systems, which typically last between one to two years. With so much at stake, it's critical to monitor and forecast when El Niño or La Niña is developing so governments, businesses, and private citizens can prepare. NOAA gathers data from an array of buoys and satellites that measure ocean and air temperature, wind speed and direction.

(Describer) Currents move over oceans.

But there's more to the story. Emerging technologies are being tested to measure ocean temperatures and salinity, including low-cost, easily deployed PICO buoys, with instruments that use wave energy to climb the mooring line, then take measurements during descent, and underwater gliders that fly like a roller coaster on autonomous missions that can last over three months. With this information in hand, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center tracks and forecasts the development of El Niño and La Niña. Historical and real-time weather data are collected, and a team of climatologists piece together a probabilistic forecast months into the future. Since we continue to develop and implement new observing technologies, and gain more skill at predicting weather and climate, take advantage of this freely available information from NOAA, the nation's environmental intelligence agency, because El Niño and La Niña in the Pacific Ocean can impact weather and climate in your backyard.

(Describer) Title: Narrator: Mark Atherlay. Logos are shown for the Smithsonian and NOAA. Accessibility provided by the US Department of Education.

Accessibility provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

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El Niño and La Niña are periodic weather patterns resulting from interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere in the Pacific Ocean. Ocean temperatures indicate the presence of El Niño and La Niña, which sometimes lead to extreme weather in many parts of the United States. NOAA climatologists closely track the development of these oscillating systems, which typically last between one to two years. With so much at stake, it’s critical to be able to monitor and forecast when El Niño or La Niña is developing so governments, businesses, and private citizens can prepare.

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