FarmLife Five: Weather Patterns

El Niño and his cool sister, La Niña, play havoc on weather and agriculture.

By Jenny Bryant

0216elnino11) 1.5º: A major force in climatic activity, El Niño can generate extreme weather events globally. In an average El Niño, sea surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific are 1 to 1.5º C warmer than the 30-year norm. Typically, the warmer the water, the more severe the El Niño.

Source: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/teleconnections/enso/indicators/sst.php

2) 3.1º: During the previously most extreme El Niño on record, water temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific reached 2.8º C above average in a November 1997 weekly reading. In November 2015, that same region showed temps reaching 3.1º C higher than the average.

Source: Oceanic Niño Index, NOAA Climate Prediction Center

3) 200%: Since 1975, El Niño has been twice as likely to occur as La Niña, which is caused in part by cooling of sea surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific.

Source: http://www.elnino.noaa.gov/lanina_new_faq.html

4) 1-3: La Niña may not occur as often as El Niño, but the former tends to stick around longer—approx. 1 to 3 years, compared to El Niño’s 12-month shelf life.

Source: http://education.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/la-nina/

5) 50%: Typically bringing drier-than-usual weather to some states in the U.S. and South America, and causing poor wheat harvests in the Canadian prairie, past La Niña events have caused prices for crops, such as corn, soy and wheat, to fluctuate as much as 50%.

Source: http://www.wsj.com/article_email/winter-is-coming-la-nina-poised-to-storm-the-markets-1450850704-lMyQjAxMTA1OTI5MzUyMDM5Wj