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Short-Term Climate Change

El Niño and La Niña represent different conditions in and over the Pacific Ocean; they create unusual weather conditions worldwide.

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La Nada

La Nada

Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon
Source: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=82994
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

January 2014 brought a string of brutal winter storms to the Midwestern, Eastern and mostly surprisingly even the Southern United States, but no snow to the mountains of California. The culprit could have been La Nada.

Why It Matters

Credit: LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC
Source: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=82910
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

January 18, 2014 there was almost no snow in the mountains of California [Figure2]

  • When conditions in the Pacific Ocean are not in an El Niño or a La Niña they are ENSO neutral or La Nada (nada means nothing in Spanish). Extreme weather has been linked to these conditions.
  • ENSO neutral conditions dominated from December 2010 until after June 2011.
  • ENSO-neutral conditions began in April 2012, with no indication of a change through spring 2014 and maybe beyond.
  • The Southern U.S. gets little or no snow, but snow in the winter 2013-2014 shut down cities all across the south.

Can You Apply It?

With the links below, learn more about ENSO-neutral conditions. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What happens to the jet stream during a La Niña?
  2. What happens to the jet stream during an ENSO-neutral time and why?
  3. Why did La Nada conditions produce so many killer tornadoes?
  4. What is the difference between ordinary thunderstorms and super cells?
  5. If you did the California Drought RWA, do you think it’s possible that the 2013-2014 (and on?) drought is caused by a La Nada and why or why not?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon; Source: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=82994; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC; Source: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=82910; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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