December 19, 2000
The above map was for December 14 and shows sea surface temperature (SST) deviations in the Pacific Ocean as derived using satellite altimetry. Most areas are experiencing water temperatures that are within a degree or two celsius of what has been observed in past years. The exceptions are the warm pool of water in the central Pacific, near the Tropic of Capricorn, and the water south of Japan, where temperatures are about 3 degrees C above normal. Cooler than normal water temperatures (3 degrees below normal) are found in a narrow band along the Equator, off the South American coast. If El Nino conditions (much above normal sea surface temperatures in the central eastern Pacific Ocean) are to occur, the first indication of its onset is often observed in December. El Nino refers to the Christ child. Neither El Nino nor La Nina (much cooler than normal waters in the central and north Pacific Ocean) conditions are seen on the above map - no strong temperature anomalies are evident.