"The area of below normal sea surface temperatures continues to expand in the central equatorial Pacific, marking the demise of the 1997/1998 El Ni?o episode and the further evolution of La Ni?a (Cold episode) conditions. El NIA ("the girl"), the twin and opposite of more well known El No ("the boy") is now in full swing.
The warm peaks--El Ni?o --were first named by South American fishermen because the warm, oxygen--and nutrient--poor water caused fish catches to plunge around Christmas time (El Ni?o is also a reference to the Christ child) in certain years. According to the National Center for Environmental Prediction, this century's previous La Ni?a's began in 1903, 1906, 1909, 1916, 1924, 1928, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1964, 1970, 1973, 1975, and 1988. During the most recent La Ni?a, in the winter of 1988-89, sea surface temperatures were about 7 degrees F below normal. La Ni?a's don't always follow El Ni?o's; since 1975, La Ni?a's have been roughly half as frequent as El Ni?o's.
The researchers identified what is known and still unknown about La Ni?a and what is needed in order to issue forecasts and prepare for La Ni?a's impacts. The scientists at the meeting agreed that better ocean monitoring is needed for more accurate predictions of El Ni?o and La Ni?a.