A climatic event occurring every two to seven years, characterized by warming of surface waters and reduced upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water off the western coast of South America, causing die-offs of plankton and fish and influencing jet stream winds, altering storm tracks and affecting the climate over much of the world.
Origin of El NinoAmerican Spanish (originally used by fisherman in Ecuador and Peru as a name for the warm ocean current typically appearing around Christmastime in El Niño years), from Spanish, the Christ child : el, the (from Latin ille; see al-1 in Indo-European roots) + niño, child (from Old Spanish ninno, from Vulgar Latin *n&imacron;nnus).
top: normal water temperatures, with warm water concentrated in the western tropical Pacific
bottom: El Niño conditions, with warm water extending from the western tropical Pacific to the eastern Pacific
- A variant, less correct, spelling of El NiÃ±o