Requested by Eva K

EL NIÑO & LA NIÑA: WHAT ARE THEY? HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT?

So I'm writing this list with the basic knowledge and understanding necessary to create lesson plans for 5th graders (10-11 year olds) because @evak made me! **Disclaimer: I am not an expert in the field of meteorology, earth science, or any for that matter. I am merely a fifth grade teacher breaking it down in a way that makes sense to me!**
  1. 1. El Niño and La Niña are opposite phases of the fluctuations in temperature between the ocean and atmosphere in the Equatorial Pacific (area of the Pacific Ocean near the equator).
  2. 2. Keep in mind that during the winter the Polar Jet Stream(basically a river of air in the troposphere) generally is positioned further south in the US and moves from West to East at a faster rate.
  3. 3. La Niña (Spanish The little girl)
  4. La Niña is COOLER THAN NORMAL sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean (near the equator, off the west coast of S. America.)
    Which is caused by...
  5. Strengthening of the eastern trade winds (the global wind band of the Earth between 0 and 30 degrees N latitude)
    Effecting winter weather by...
  6. Resulting in drier and milder conditions across the Southern US, wetter than normal conditions for the Pacific Northwest, and short cold periods in the Northeast.
  7. 4. El Niño (Spanish for the little brother)
    Think of El Niño as the opposite of La Niña, the attention grabbing brother.
  8. El Niño is WARMER THAN NORMAL sea surface temperatures in that same area of the Pacific Ocean.
    Which is caused by...
  9. The easterly Trade winds (again in the band between 0 and 30 degrees N Latitude) become weaker, even reversing direction slightly. This means that warm water becomes almost stationary.
  10. What happens to the air over warm waters?
    It takes the characteristic of the surface below it- it becomes warm and moist! (Think of putting your hand above a warm glass of water vs. a room temperature glass of water.)
  11. Effecting Winter weather by...
  12. Causing wetter conditions from southern CA to the Southeast US, stormier winters for the Northeast, and typically milder winters for the Northwest.
  13. ❓Questions I still have and credible sites with responses, diagrams, and explanations:
  14. Do the weather phenomenon La Niño and El Niño happen in patterns?
    I did find this site that somewhat answered my question and show a really cool graph of El Niño and La Niña years and their intensities since 1950 (check out 2016 😬) http://ggweather.com/enso/oni.htm
  15. Why do these fluctuations in temperature of the ocean occur and what other factors influence this?
  16. What are the typical effects of El Niño and La Niña on the rest of the planet?
  17. 💻Sites that have been most helpful to me:
  18. Thanks for dorking out with me and I hope you learned something interesting! 😬 If you are an expert in this area and can answer some of my questions and explain it like you're talking to a 12 year old, I'm all ears! 👂