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Climate phenomenon La Nina to blame for global extreme weather events

February 9, 2011 1 comment

Climate phenomenon La Nina to blame for global extreme weather events


Cyclone Yasi over Australia in February 2011. Image credit: NASA

(PhysOrg.com) — Recent extreme weather events as far as Australia and Africa are being fueled by a climate phenomenon known as La Nina — or “the girl” in Spanish. La Nina has also played a minor role in the recent cold weather in the Northeast U.S.

The term La Niña refers to a period of cooler-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean that occurs as part of natural climate variability. This situation is roughly the opposite of what happens during El Niño (“the boy”) events, when surface waters in this region are warmer than normal. Because the Pacific is the largest ocean on the planet, any significant changes in average conditions there can have consequences for temperature, rainfall and vegetation in distant places.

Scientists at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), part of Columbia’s Earth Institute, expect moderate-to-strong La Niña conditions to continue in the tropical Pacific, potentially causing additional shifts in rainfall patterns across Read more…