Topic: El Niño
Theme: Energy

Key Concepts:


With the weakening of the trade-winds, a large mass of warm water moves eastward along the equator from Australia and Indonesia into the central Pacific along the equator and into the eastern Pacific near Equador. This shift in warm water brings with it a great amount of heat energy. This heat energy is released into the atmosphere through equatorial evaporation.

  • Heat flux is the amount of heat energy that crosses the surface of the ocean of a given area. Heat fluxes are typically measured in watts/m2.
  • Heat energy raises the temperature of ocean water. Variations in heat flux may cause variations in ocean temperature. Heat content of ocean water is given by its temperature.
  • Heat released from the sea drives the atmosphere.