The data from TOPEX/Poseidon, and in the future Jason-1, helps us study and understand the complex interactions between the oceans and the atmosphere which affect global weather and climate events. One well-known example of this interaction is an El Niño event.
El Niño was named by people who fish off the western coast of central America to refer to the warm current that invades their coastal waters around Christmastime. El Niño events disrupt fisheries and bring severe weather events worldwide.
The effects of El Niño disrupt normal winter conditions throughout the Pacific Ocean, and can persist into May or June. Reliable predictions of an El Niño occurrence will lead to better preparation for its widespread impact.
Warm El Niños and cold La Niñas follow each other against the backdrop of the ocean seasons. During a La Niña, the trade winds are stronger and cold, nutrient-rich water occupies much of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Most of the precipication occurs in the western tropical Pacific Ocean, so rain is abundant over Indonesia.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)
The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is a long-term ocean fluctuation of the Pacific Ocean. The PDO waxes and wanes approximately every 20 to 30 years.
Additional Information on El Niño/La Niña and PDO
Learn More About El Niño/La Niña & PDO