Story: Ocean currents and tides

El Niño and La Niña

El Niño and La Niña are weather patterns that occur every 3–7 years in the tropical Pacific Ocean. During El Niño, warmer than average ocean waters spread eastward across the tropical eastern Pacific; during La Niña, they are concentrated in the west. The change in the distribution of warm water in the Pacific affects the climate worldwide. In New Zealand, El Niño years bring more winds from the south-west, and the weather is wetter in the west and south, and drier in the east and north. During La Niña years, the winds are more from the north-east, and the weather is drier in the west and south, and wetter in the east and north. Watch this explanation of El Niño and La Niña and how they affect weather around the world.

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How to cite this page:

Craig Stevens and Stephen Chiswell, 'Ocean currents and tides - The ocean’s role in climate change', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 29 October 2021)

Story by Craig Stevens and Stephen Chiswell, published 12 Jun 2006