MARIT JENTOFT-NILSEN / NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARIT JENTOFT-NILSEN / NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
El Nino comparison. Animation comparing maps of Pacific Ocean height anomaly during 1997 (left) and 2015. Data for 2015 ends in September. Blue and purple areas are lower than average and red and yellow areas are higher than average. Water expands as it warms and so warm areas of the ocean are higher than cool areas. The red areas across each centre are indicative of El Nino events. El Nino affects weather systems across the world, causing drier conditions in Australia and South-East Asia, and wetter and warmer conditions in the Americas, with often dire consequences for agriculture. 1997 saw one of the most powerful El Nino events of the 20th century. 2015 could see an even more powerful El Nino event, possibly the most powerful since 1950. 1997 data obtained by the TOPEX Poseidon satellite, 2015 data obtained by the Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM) Jason-2 satellite.
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