The Impact Of El Nino And La Nina On Earth

El Niño and La Niña are both opposite southern oscillations but work together in harmony. El Niño is characterized as the warmer phase of the southern oscillation where the surface temperature increases and the convection zones expand and merge in the Pacific Ocean which increases the occurrence of spatially homogeneous conditions. La Niña, on the other hand, is the colder phaser of the southern oscillation where the surface temperature decreases and the convergence zones are separated 一 it also is on a smaller scale than El Niño. The parts of the continent that are mostly affected by El Niño and La Niña are the coats and most often those close to or below the equator 一 some exceptions being the western coast of Canada and the North-Western states of the United States. In simpler terms, the continents that are affected are those surrounded by the Tropical Specific and its coasts touching it are affected directly. The parts of the world that are affected and how much they are affected change with the seasons. Maps also show that during the “winter months” (December-February) continents who are affected are most likely to be more northern than the “summer months” (June-August) when the continents affected will be more southern. 

The effects and impacts of El Niño and La Niña can occur at different seasons and have different impacts based on the regions they hit. Both oscillations can have a significant effect on rainfall and whether certain regions will go through a serious drought or not. This is especially important because many farmers depend on substantial rainfall to grow their crops, but also if there is too much water it can damage their crop as well. El Niño, specifically, can increase the average rainfall in the Gulf Coast but prolong the dry season for Ohio and Northwest of the U.S. El Niño also can cause a milder winter in the Northwest of the U.S. and Western Canada. Also, it can help to reduce the occurrences of hurricanes in the Atlantic especially Europe. La Niña on the other hand, for the most part, has the opposite effect of El Niño. La Niña, for instance, does not have as much effect in Europe as El Niño does, however, it can lead to milder winters in Northern Europe. Some other effects are its ability to make stronger winds along the equator. It also can lessen the power of the jet streams due to the decreased convection in the Pacific. La Niña can also change the weather in specific regions. For example, it tends to increase the average temperature in the southeast and decrease them in the northwest. Opposite to El Niño, La Niña increases the chance for hurricanes, but solely in the Caribbean and Central Atlantic region. La Niña also increases the chances for tornadoes in the states in the U.S. that are already at a greater risk for them. 

Overall, it's no secret that El Niño and La Niña have many impacts on the Earth and these impacts can greatly affect humans. For instance, the greater increase of hurricanes and tornadoes caused by La Niña can cause destruction across many communities. However, El Niño can decrease the chances of hurricanes in other regions. These oscillations can also determine whether a growing season will be good or not depending on the temperatures of the precipitation, which both La Niña and El Niño can affect depending on the region. In these instances, a drought could be detrimental to many communities causing the loss of many crops and livestock as well as many jobs. Too much precipitation caused by the oscillations on the other hand, for example, can wash away topsoil which is filled with organic matter that contains rich nutrients and is needed for drainage. Without topsoil, the growing season will not be as beneficial to the community as seasons beforehand. Overall, the impacts of these oscillations can have varying degrees of positive and negative effects on the Earth and therefore on human life. 


  • Lindsey, Rebecca. “Global Impacts of El Niño and La Niña: NOAA” Global Impacts of El Niño and La Niña | NOAA, 9 Feb. 2016, 
  • Mason, Matthew MasonMG. “Matthew Mason.”, Philander, S.G., 1985: El Niño and La Niña. J. Atmos. Sci., 42, 2652–2662 
16 December 2021
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