For years, people have been pointing to El Niño as the culprit behind floods, droughts, famines, economic failures, and record-breaking global heat. Can a single climate phenomenon really cause all these events? Is the world just a step away from disaster when El Niño conditions develop?

Richard Feely discusses new findings about how increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making the oceans more acidic, and how that will affect ocean ecosystems and the marine animals that inhabit them.
 

Richard Feely discusses new findings about how increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making the oceans more acidic, and how that will affect ocean ecosystems and the marine animals that inhabit them.
 

The total amount of water on Earth isn’t increasing, but the volume of liquid that fills the ocean is growing as ice and snow on land melt. The water is also getting warmer, which makes it expand. 

June 2009 SST anomalies

As of late August 2014, tropical atmospheric temperatures appear to be responding more strongly to the ocean than they typically do at this early stage of El Niño development.   

If you are someone who wants more or stronger ENSO events in the future, I have great news for you–research supports that. If you are someone who wants fewer or weaker ENSO events in the future, don’t worry–research supports that too.

How do changes in the equatorial Pacific Ocean impact places much farther away? The answer for the tropics, at least, lies in changes to the equator-wide atmospheric circulation called the Walker Circulation. 

June 2014 SST anomalies

Why hasn't El Niño been declared yet?  The answer might lie in the gradients of sea surface temperatures across the tropical Pacific Ocean.  

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