Exploring El Niño Locally and Globally

Exploring El Niño Locally and Globally

Though western Massachusetts has finally seen its first true snowfall of the season, allowing the landscape to look like one of mid-winter in New England, this winter’s unseasonably warm and snow-less days have been a bit unsettling. While discussions of the effects of climate change on our region are not misguided, it is the effects of El Niño that we can say with certainty we are experiencing. This weather event, which causes a global impact, is the result of a complicated switching of winds and currents in the Pacific – and its effects have brought us the balmy winter we’d expect if we lived in a more southerly clime. Using diagrams, online resources, books, and even music, families can explore climate science and the effects of El Niño so as to gain insight into this year’s unusual winter weather.

Named after the Christian holidays that take place during the time of its occurrence, El Niño means “the child” in English, though its true meaning is intended to reflect the importance of one specific child. Named in the 17th century by Spanish-speaking Christians exploring the Pacific Ocean, El Niño refers to the unusual weather patterns and ocean currents that sometimes take place in December – right around Christmas, making El Niño’s namesake the baby Jesus.  Read the rest of this entry »

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