What Is the Definition of "El Nino"?


Quick Answer

The term "El Nino" describes unusually warm ocean water temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific region. Relaxed trade winds in the Pacific cause this phenomenon by stalling the upwelling of colder, nutrient-rich water to the surface.

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Full Answer

The El Nino condition causes increased rainfall across the southern part of the United States and in Peru, where El Nino has caused heavy flooding. On the other side of the Pacific, in Australia, El Nino causes drought conditions, sometimes associated with the onset of brush fires. In addition to creating climatic changes, El Nino conditions also reduce the nutrient levels in some areas of ocean water, affecting primary food chain productivity and commercial fisheries in the region.

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