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Ocean Surface Topography from Space
La Niña begins to fade
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April 22, 1999

The cold pool of water in the Pacific known as "La Niña" is beginning to fade, but ocean conditions have not returned to normal, according to scientists studying new images from the U.S.-French TOPEX/Poseidon satellite.

New imagery of sea-surface heights taken this month by the ocean-observing satellite show cooler temperatures and lower sea levels across the equatorial Pacific Ocean (seen in blue and purple in the center of the image) are diminishing, which indicates that the equatorial Pacific is slowly returning to normal.

However, in the north and south Pacific Ocean, temperatures and sea level remain high (seen in red and white), a pattern that began many months ago. In a nutshell, this means that although La Nina is fading, heat distribution in the Pacific Ocean remains dramatically out of balance.

The TOPEX/Poseidon mission is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Earth Science, Washington, DC. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.

For more information, please visit the TOPEX/Poseidon project web page at

Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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