The record of El Niño

  • Exhibition Text

    • El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a phenomenon of the atmosphere and ocean that is observed in many different climate records. Growth rings in corals record the intensity of an ENSO event, as do the annual layers of ice and snow in the Andes. These records of precipitation, sea surface temperature, and air temperature are supplemented by data from ships’ logs, satellites, and weather buoys. Analysis of all these records produces a history of ENSO events that extends back into the 1800s.

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  • For Educators

    • Topic: Earth Science

      Subtopic: Climate/Climate Change

      Audience: General

El Niño

The seasons, which are caused by the tilt of the Earth's axis, are the most important periodic fluctuations in climate. But changes in atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns also cause periodic changes in climate on a global scale.

The best known is El Niño - Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which originates in the Pacific Ocean but creates effects around the world.


This video was produced in 1999 for the David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth at the American Museum of Natural History.

Video credits:
American Museum of Natural History
Ballentyne Brumble Communications
Explorations, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Franco Biondi and Chuck Colgan
Clipperton Expedition, E.T. Rulison Jr.
NGT Library, Inc.
ABCNEWS VideoSource
Chasing El Nino, KTLA Los Angeles, TV Azteca, Jose Octavio Cano, Devillier Donegan Enterprises
KCOP Television, Inc.
StormStock, Prairie Pictures
Energy Film Library
OCN, Leslie Dean
Jericho Pictures, Josh Morton
The New Explorers - What Darwin Never Saw, Kurtis Productions, Johanna Humbert
The Fenomeno del Nino, Panamericana Television