1997 El Nino Comparison 7 years ago

August 18, 2015

Top 5 Differences between the 1997 and 2015 El Niños

The ongoing El Niño has been compared to 1997, the strongest on record. This image compares the two, with 1997 on the left and 2015 on the right:

Some major differences in the global sea surface temperature patterns:

  1. There is a lot more warm water this year off the West Coast of the U.S.
  2. The water of the West Coast of South America is not as warm as 1997.
  3. The Atlantic Ocean is completely opposite, thanks to the flip in the AMO (Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation) from positive to negative.
  4. The Indian Ocean was cool in 1997 but is warmer than normal this year.
  5. The warm pool in the Gulf of Alaska is warmer.

In the longer term, sea surface temperatures steer the overall jet stream. These differences will ensure that the overall fall and winter weather patterns will be unique.