Published online 15 July 2009 | Nature 460, 317 (2009) | doi:10.1038/460317c

News in Brief

El Niño arrives in the Pacific Ocean

US climate scientists last week announced the arrival of El Niño, a cyclical rise in sea-surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. The event is known to influence fisheries and global weather patterns.

El Niños, which are associated with a weakening in the easterly trade wind, occur every two to five years and typically last for about a year. The current one is expected to continue developing over the next several months and to last through the winter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Washington DC.

Previous El Niños have seen more rainfall over the central tropical Pacific, drought in Indonesia and powerful winter storms in California as well as flooding and mudslides in Central and South America. The phenomenon has also been linked to less hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean and additional winter precipitation in the arid southwestern United States. 

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