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Weather Academy: La Nina/El Nino Demonstration

Weather Academy: La Nina/El Nino Demonstration
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 2:31 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - La Nina and El Nino have a drastic effect on our weather patterns, especially during hurricane season. This week on the Weather Academy we demonstrate how La Nina and El Nino impact ocean currents in the Pacific and how that relates to our forecast.

What you’ll need:

  • Water
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Blue and Red Food Coloring
  • Large, Clear Baking Dish or Fish Tank
  • Hairdryer

Steps

  1. Add blue food coloring to the water and red food coloring to the oil
  2. Pour the water into the dish
  3. Pour the red oil on top of the water
  4. Use your blow dryer to recreate the trade winds!

The red oil represents the shallow warm water in the ocean. And the blue water represents the cold deep water in the ocean. Typically when we talk about climate patterns, we’re talking about the Pacific Ocean. So our tank here is going to be representing the Pacific. Our hairdryer is going to represent the trade winds because the trade winds are what really drive whether we see El Nino or La Nina.

First, we’re going to be demonstrating an El Nino weather pattern. Now typically our winds blow from east to west but during an El Nino pattern our trade winds, they become rather weak and that allows for our winds to start to blow in the opposite direction. So during an El Nino weather pattern, warm water is pushed from Asia toward South America.

The opposite can be said for during a la Nina year, the trade winds are a lot stronger, and they push the warm water towards Asia, which allows for cold water to rise near South America. The change in the strength of our Trade Winds has a huge impact on the temperature of the surface of the ocean, which then relates back to the strength of our Jetstream high up in the atmosphere. So the areas that are hit with drought during La Nina years can get lots of rain in El Nino years.

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