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El Nino

Current Knowledge

The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a natural cycle that recurs over two to seven year periods. When surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific are warmer than usual (El Niño), heavy rains often hit East Africa and droughts beset India, Indonesia, and Australia. When ocean conditions reverse (La Niña), so do global rainfall patterns. WHOI scientist Kris Karnauskas and colleagues have uncovered evidence for another natural cycle that shifts Pacific Ocean winds and currents on century-long timescales and rearranges rainfall and weather patterns around the globe. (Fern Gibbons, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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