Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

231,603 subscribers and counting ...

Probably no La Niña in late 2016

An extremely strong El Niño was in progress earlier this year. Historically, some are followed by a La Niña, but ocean temps suggest … not this year.

Image via NASA.

Sea surface temperature patterns of the 2015 El Niño in the Pacific. They unfolded differently than those seen at the last large El Niño, in 1997-1998. Image via NASA.

NASA said on September 13, 2016 that water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific are expected to be around normal for the rest of 2016. That’s according to forecasts from the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO), which operates by assimilating real-time data into computer models. These researchers said that current conditions in the Pacific are now neutral and also said a La Niña event in late 2016 is unlikely.

We had a strong El Niño in late 2015 and early 2016. That’s the name given to an event where scientists measure warmer-than-normal water in the Pacific. El Niños can affect weather around the world.

Historically, some of the larger El Niños are followed by La Niñas, in which deep, colder-than-normal water surfaces in the eastern Pacific, off the coast of South America. But that hasn’t happened this year.

Steven Pawson, chief of the GMAO, said in the NASA statement:

We are consistently predicting a more neutral state, with no La Niña or El Niño later this year.

Read more from NASA about GMAO’s process

Bottom line: The El Niño of late 2015 and early 2016 probably won’t be followed by a La Niña.

Deborah Byrd

MORE ARTICLES