This interactive live show gives an overview of the causes and consequences of El Niño. Through talking points and engaging questions, the audience investigates whether current conditions look like an El Niño. A short video at the beginning gives an overview of the dynamical causes of the periodic climate phenomenon called El Niño and its impacts. Each dataset from the video is then included in the playlist so the audience can explore them longer. Maps of the expected wet/dry patterns caused by El Niño and La Niña are followed by real-time drought index and precipitation datasets for comparison. The notes are intended to start the conversation with your audience.
Key learning points
Ecosystem changes caused by El Niño are massive. The marine food web in the central and eastern Pacific loses its usual source of food: phytoplankton at the base of the food web. From satellite observations, we see subtle changes in the ocean color that reflect this loss.
Weather patterns around the world are disrupted, typically resulting in: less rain in the western Pacific and southeast Asia, more rain over the eastern Pacific and southern United States, among other changes.
No two El Niño events are alike. We still cannot predict El Niño more than a few months in advance. Scientists still have a lot to learn about how ocean circulation drives changes in weather from year to year.