Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Phillip Elden on La Nina

Phillip Elden

La Nina is the name of a weather pattern that begins in the Pacific. Like its brother, El Niño, La Nina causes the climate of a particular area to change for an entire season or longer. According to Phillip Elden, this can have an effect on local wildlife and their habitats. 
Q: What is La Nina? 
Phillip Elden: La Nina means “the little girl” in Spanish. It can create warmer and dryer averages in some parts of the United States, including Oregon. In a typical year, warm weather is pushed into South America over toward Australia along the lower border of the equator. This leaves cooler water in a small pocket along the West coast of South America. In a La Nina year, this pattern is pushed upward, creating a larger area of cool ocean water along the Western coast of Mexico up into Southern California. 

Q: How does La Nina affect Washington and Oregon? 
Phillip Elden: Typically, both states will see cooler, wetter weather in a La Nina pattern year. As the Northwestern states are colder and wetter, the weather pattern pushes warmer water toward Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Asia. These countries will see more rainfall than usual. California and parts of northern Mexico may see drought conditions during La Nina.  
Q: What causes the La Nina weather pattern? 
Phillip Elden: As with most weather patterns, La Nina is caused by some type of interaction between the atmosphere and the ocean. Interestingly, although the change to the yearly weather takes place in the Pacific ocean, in this case, even areas along the Atlantic experience changes. Importantly, humans do not play a role in whether or not a weather pattern will take place, however, meteorologists and climatologists can predict these up to one year in advance. 
According to Phillip Elden, warmer weather in the south and cooler weather in the North may result in birds migrating earlier than usual in the year. There are many other animals that react to weather pattern changes.