Maps, Graphs, and Data

Sort It Out: El Niño or La Niña

Sort It Out: El Niño or La Niña

Can you tell El Nino from La Nina? This interactive was created by UCAR Center for Science Education using satellite images of the height of the ocean surface.  Students interpret these images to identify whether they represent El Nino, La Nina, or neither event (La Nada!).

  • During El Nino, satellite images show sea level is higher than normal (red and white) across the center of the Pacific, indicating that water is warmer than normal
  • During La Nina, satellite images show sea level is lower than normal (blue and purple) across the center of the Pacific, indicating that water is cooler than normal.
  • When there is neither a band of cold water nor a band of warm water, the ENSO climate oscillation is in this neutral state, which is sometimes called La Nada.

Mini Lesson

Sort it!  Drag each image of the Earth's ocean surface on the left to the El Nino, La Nina, or La Nada box on the right where it belongs.

Sort It Out: El Niño or La Niña
© 2014 UCAR  https://scied.ucar.edu/enso-sorting-game