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How does El Ni��o form?

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Quick Answer

The weather phenomenon known as El Ni��o is caused by weakened trade winds over the Pacific Ocean. Normally, warm water is pushed to the western Pacific Ocean by the trade winds, causing cold water to rise in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Weakened winds inhibit this, causing an El Ni��o event.

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Full Answer

The strong trade winds that would normally cause the deep ocean water to rise off of the coast of South America are weakened during an El Ni��o event. The exact cause of the weakened trade winds is unknown; however, scientists have noticed an oscillation of water surface temperatures in the Pacific ocean, referred to as the El Ni��o Southern Oscillation.

The area of the Pacific Ocean around Indonesia is often referred to as the Pacific Warm Pool by scientists. Normally, the warmer waters of the Pacific Warm Pool are pushed westward by the trade winds. El Ni��o is characterized primarily by the weakening of this phenomenon.

The effects of El Ni��o can be felt across the world, but primarily affect South America. El Ni��o often results in increased rainfall, thunderstorms, mass die-offs of fish and, in extreme El Ni��o events, massive flooding. El Ni��o also causes temperature changes in regional climate patterns across the globe. El Ni��o occurs during the months of December, January and February.

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