Last month, forecasters were predicting with
90 per cent certainty we'd see an El Niño by the end
of the year, driving severe weather patterns worldwide. But with
little sign so far of the ocean and atmospheric changes scientists
expected, those odds have dropped off quite a bit.
We'll probably still see an El Niño before the year's
out but it's unlikely to be a strong one, scientists are saying.
What is an El Niño?
Every five years or so, a change in the winds causes a shift to
warmer than normal ocean temperatures in the
equatorial Pacific Ocean - a phenomena known as El
Together, El Niño and its cooler counterpart La Niña are known
as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Between them, they're
responsible for most of the fluctuations in global weather we see
from one year to the next.
Sea surface temperature during El Niño (left) and
La Niña (right). Red and blue show warmer and cooler temperatures
than the long term average. [Credit: Steve Albers, NOAA]