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Some things in nature happen very fast. A honeybee can fly quickly from flower to flower. Thousands of gallons of water can stream over a waterfall every second. In the same way, some climate changes happen faster than others. For example, El Niņo (Ehl NEE nyoh) affects climate from season to season.

What is El Niņo?

Years ago, fishermen in Peru and Ecuador (EHK wah door) in South America noticed that during some winters, the ocean became warmer than usual. The fishermen gave the warmer water a name. They named it "El Niņo." In Spanish, El Niņo means "the little boy." When the ocean became warmer, the fishermen noticed that they could not catch as many fish. The fishermen also noticed that the amount of rain increased.

What is La Niņa?

La Niņa happens when ocean waters off Peru and Ecuador become colder than usual. La Niņa means "the little girl."

What Happens During El Niņo or La Niņa?

During an El Niņo or La Niņa year, parts of the Pacific Ocean warm and make changes in weather around the world. The effects of El Niņo or La Niņa cause changes in rainfall and temperature as far away as the United States and Australia. Usually, El Niņo comes every 3 to 5 years, and La Niņa less frequently.


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Page last modified: August 30, 2006
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