Climate.gov tweet chat: Talk El Niño and La Niña with the ENSO bloggers

June 1, 2021

The world of climate phenomena is cluttered with all sorts of oscillations—natural back-and-forth swings between two states of the climate system. The acronyms experts use for these oscillations—PDO, PNA, AO, NAO, MJO—can make it seem like scientists are speaking a foreign language. But if there is one oscillation that transcends that acronym gobbledygook, it’s El Niño and La Niña: the warm and cool phases of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Sea surface temperature, anomaly, December 2020

Sea surface temperature anomalies across the ENSO regions of the Pacific Ocean in December 2020, when La Niña was in progress. Reds indicate areas where sea surface temperatures were warmer than average, and blue colors indicate areas where sea surface temperatures were cooler than average. NOAA Climate.gov image from our Data Snapshots collection.

El Niño and La Niña were named for patterns of ocean temperatures across the tropical Pacific Ocean: large areas seesaw back and forth from warmer than average to cooler than average. The ocean patterns then disrupt the large-scale weather patterns in the tropical atmosphere. These phases occur every two to seven years and can cause predictable disruptions to seasonal average temperature, precipitation, and winds—not only in the tropical Pacific, but around the world.

Droughts, floods, and tropical cyclones are just a few examples of the sort of weather and climate extremes that can be made more or less likely during ENSO events. ENSO events and their influence on the climate can also be predictable months in advance, giving communities a heads up to plan for potential climate disasters. But there is still a lot left to learn about ENSO, including how far ahead we can hope to predict it, why some events are strong and others weak, and how it might change in a warmer climate.

On Thursday, June 3 from 1;00 to 2:00 p.m. Eastern, join Climate.gov ENSO Bloggers Michelle L’Heureux, Emily Becker, Nat Johnson, and Tom Di Liberto for a tweet chat all about El Niño and La Niña. We know you’ll have plenty of questions!

Michelle L’Heureux—Meteorologist at NOAA NWS Climate Prediction Center and ENSO team lead

Emily Becker—Associate Director of the University of Miami Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS)

Nat Johnson—Scientist at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

Tom Di Liberto—Climate scientist for NOAA’s Climate.gov at the Climate Program Office, and social media manager for NOAAClimate.

What: Tweet chat — tweet your questions @NOAAClimate and use the hashtag #ClimateQA

Can’t make the chat? Return to this page in coming weeks; we will update this page with a selection of questions and answers from the discussion.