6.1 El Nino and La Nina

Engage: is the weather the same from year to year?

Step 1: Open the ArcGIS Online map, El Nino, and explore the map.

Step 2: Observe the map with the data layer, Snow Cover: January 2016.

  • What parts of the world experienced snow cover?
  • Is there always the same amount of snow at your location? At various locations around the world?

Explore: How are sea surface temperatures different around the globe?

Step 3: The year range 2015-2016 was considered a moderate El Nino event. From the Details pane, click the button, Show Contents of Map.

Step 4: Click the checkbox to the left of the layer name, Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly: January 2016.

  • What patterns in SST anomaly are in the Pacific Ocean?
  • What are some possible factors that may influence ocean temperatures throughout a given year?

Explain: what is some possible feedback of warmer sea surface temperatures?

Step 5: Click the checkbox to the left of the layer name, Global Temperature Anomaly: January 2016. January 2016 was considered the peak heating of the Pacific Ocean.

  • ​What patterns in global temperature anomalies do you notice in the United States?
  • Do the sea surface temperature patterns that you previously observed correspond to the observed land surface temperature anomaly layer currently visible? Explain your reasoning.

Elaborate: how would warmer ocean temperatures affect precipitation?

Step 6: Click the checkbox to the left of the layer name, Water Equivalent Anomaly: September 2009.

  • What generalizations can be made about precipitation in California during an El Nino event?

Evaluate: is there an opposite event to el Nino?

La Nina is the opposite event to El Nino, generally observed as unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific.

  • From your observations of the 2015-2016 El Nino event, what sea surface temperature conditions may be present during a La Nina event?

Step 7: Click the checkbox to the left of the layer name, Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly: January 2008.

Step 8: Analyze your observations.

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World Regional Geography Lab Manual by R. Adam Dastrup, MA, GISP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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