El Nino & La Nina
by: Kailey Bevins & Amya Dickens

El Nino is a period of ocean warming that affects global weather patterns. La Nina is a cooling of the water in the equatorial Pacific that occurs at irregular intervals and is associated with widespread changes in weather patterns to those of El Nino. However, La Nina's changes are less extensive and damaging in their effects than El Nino.

One way that scientists study El Nino and La Nina by using buoys in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Buoys are weather stations located in oceans; these buoys measure wind speed, wind direction, atmospheric pressure, air temperature, and sea temperature. Scientists also you weather satellites to study El Nino and La Nina. Weather satellites are satellites that orbit Earth and take pictures that show temperature, cloud cover, circulation presence, and height of moisture in the air. Scientists use a variety of meteorological technology to help them study El Nino and La Nina.

El Nino and La Nina impact global climate patterns. In lots of locations, especially in the tropics, La Nina produces the opposite climate variations from El Nino. For example, parts of Australia and Indonesia are prone to drought during El Nino, but during La Nina they are normally wetter than normal. In the United States, La Nina causes drier than normal conditions in the Southwestern U.S. in the winter. However, the Pacific Northwest is more likely to be wetter than normal in early winter and late fall with the presence of La Nina. On Average, La Nina winters are warmer than normal in the Southwestern United States, and colder than normal in the Northwestern United States. Seeing as El Nino and La Nina have damaging weather affects, this affects our farmers and crops, which thereby badly affects our economy.

Being able to predict El Nino and La Nina helps out water, energy and transportation managers. It also helps farmers be able to plan for the oncoming season, and the weather that may come with it. Also with better predictions comes enhanced economic opportunities, especially for national agriculture, fishing, forestry, and energy sectors, as well as social benefits.