El Niño (Southern Oscillation)
The term El Niño (Spanish for “the Child Christ”) was initially used by Peruvian fishermen to describe a warm-water current that periodically flows along the coast of Ecuador and Perú about Christmas time. It is an oscillation associated with the unusually large basin-wide warmings of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean that occur every few years (about 2–7 years) and change the local and regional ecology and have global impacts. The oceanic event is connected to the atmospheric component termed “Southern Oscillation.” The coupled atmosphere-ocean phenomenon is collectively known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). While El Niño refers to the warm phase of ENSO, La Niña (Spanish for “the girl”) refers to the cold phase of ENSO. See Trenberth (1997) for a review on definitions of El Niño.
An initial positive sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly intensifies due to a positive feedback first hypothesized by...
KeywordsCold Tongue Tropical Pacific Ocean Equatorial Upwelling Equatorial Westerly Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean
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