Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I'm dreaming of a ....Green Christmas...thanks to El Nino

El Nino may mean a green Christmas across Canada

El Nino, the precocious weather system with the cute name, is back, meteorologists say, which means that after a summer of record low temperatures, much of Canada may experience warmer days just in time for Christmas.

According to a report issued Monday by the Climate Prediction Center, an agency of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, El Nino conditions "are present across the equatorial Pacific Ocean."

Sea surface temperatures are currently between 0.5 and 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than usual across the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which can have a dramatic impact on air currents and affect weather worldwide.

In most of Canada, it will likely mean a warmer winter with less snowfall, according to Environment Canada Senior Climatologist Dave Phillips.

"It generally means less snow for Canada," Phillips told in a telephone interview. "This may be a problem for ski resorts and snowmobilers, but it may be a boon for cities that don't want to spend much money on snow removal and may make winter less stinging than it would be."

Phillips said he, too, cannot predict El Nino's exact impact on Canada's winter weather.

The system is still developing, and its severity will depend on both how warm the water gets and the surface area that warm water covers, he said.

"We need to see the strength of it, we need to see the size of it and it could stay weak," Phillips said. "The weaker it is the less effect it will have on us."

Environment Canada's own temperature forecasts issued two months ago predict above normal temperatures from B.C. to Ontario and below-normal temperatures in Nunavut and Atlantic Canada."

"Current observations and dynamical model forecasts indicate El Nino conditions will continue to intensify and are expected to last through Northern Hemisphere winter 2009-10," the report says.

The weather system, which can occur every two to seven years, can cause drier conditions in southern Africa, northern Australia, Indonesia and northeastern Brazil, and heavier rainfalls over the west coast of South America.

According to Michelle L'Heureux, a meteorologist with the Climate Prediction Center, warmer Pacific Ocean waters tend to shift the jet stream further south than usual.


El Nino, is ├łan abnormal warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical Pacific, is one part of what's called the Southern Oscillation. The Southern Oscillation is the see-saw pattern of reversing surface air pressure between the eastern and western tropical Pacific; when the surface pressure is high in the eastern tropical Pacific it is low in the western tropical Pacific, and vice-versa. Because the ocean warming and pressure reversals are, for the most part, simultaneous, scientists call this phenomenon the El Nino/Southern Oscillation or ENSO for short. South American fisherman have given this phenomenon the name El Nino, which is Spanish for "The Christ Child," because it comes about the time of the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child-Christmas.

El Nino happens when weakening trade winds (which sometimes even reverse direction) allow the warmer water from the western Pacific to flow toward the east. This flattens out the sea level, builds up warm surface water off the coast of South America, and increases the temperature of the water in the eastern Pacific.

The deeper, warmer water in the east limits the amount of nutrient-rich deep water normally surfaced by the upwelling process. Since fish can no longer access this rich food source, many of them die off. This is why these conditions are called "El Nino", or "the Christ Child", which is what Peruvian fisherman call the particularly bad fishing period around December. More importantly, the different water temperatures tend to change the weather of the region.

What happens to the ocean also affects the atmosphere. Tropical thunderstorms are fueled by hot, humid air over the oceans. The hotter the air, the stronger and bigger the thunderstorms. As the Pacific's warmest water spreads eastward, the biggest thunderstorms move with it. If you look on a map, you will see that suddenly islands like Tahiti, normally tropical paradises, experience massive storms.

The clouds and rainstorms associated with warm ocean waters also shift toward the east. Thus, rains which normally would fall over the tropical rain forests of Indonesia start falling over the deserts of Peru, causing forest fires and drought in the western Pacific and flooding in South America. Moreover the Earth's atmosphere reponds to the heating of El-Nino by producing patterns of high and low pressure which can have a profound impact on weather far away from the equatorial Pacific. For instance, higher temperatures in western Canada and the upper plains of the United States, colder temperatures in the southern United States. The east coast of southern Africa often experiences drought during El Nino. source:

Source of satellite image of El Nino:

Three interesting and educational video clips concerning El Nino can be viewed at: ,, and at

No comments:

Visit GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's Women's Chess Blog:Please click on the image below:

Visit GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's Women's Chess Blog:Please click on the image below:
Chess needs more women and girl participants and administrators!

Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.