Topic: El Niño
Theme: Energy

Next to the seasons, El Niño is the most powerful force driving global weather. Predicting and tracking El Niño in the past has been a dubious job. Thanks to the satellite altimeter TOPEX/Poseidon (which tracked the 1997-98 El Niño) and lots of buoys in the equatorial Pacific, we now know a great deal more about the phenomena.

El Niño has altered weather patterns all over the world. In some areas its destructive force and ensuing aberrant weather has altered coastlines. Because people and animals pattern their lives on average weather, most of the impacts of El Niño are negative.


The world is now recovering from the onslaught of the '97-'98 El Niño. Lots of people want to know:

  • Will another El Niño occur?
  • How will we know if another El Niño is brewing? In other words, what is the recipe for El Niño?
  • What causes El Niño?
  • What is the source of all that warm water and why does it create such havoc (destruction)?

Your team's job is to find answers to the questions above and satisfy the curiosity and fears of the populace. You must submit a technical report to the Admiral by the appointed time.

Here are some resources that may be of help:


Your technical report will be assessed on accuracy of information and its technical format.


Lesson Ideas created/adapted by Margaret Hammer (Graduate Research Assistant) and Judith Kenworthy (Technology Mentor Fellowship Associate) Texas A&M University. All comments and questions can be directed to stewart@ocean.tamu.edu