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Saturday, September 26, 1998 Published at 09:55 GMT 10:55 UK


Hot and cold in the Pacific

Red is warm water, blue cold.

The battle between El Nino and La Nina is still being waged in the Pacific, according to recent satellite images. Our science editor Dr David Whitehouse reports:

Satellite images show a titanic tussle between warm and cold masses of water ebbing and flowing across the ocean.

[ image: Topex-Poseidon]
The winner will influence the global climate for many months, altering the direction of ocean currents as well as rainfall and wind patterns.

Images taken from the ocean-monitoring Topex-Poseidon satellite show that a recent rapid cooling of the central tropical Pacific has slowed. An area of cold water called the La Nina effect has also decreased in size.

At the moment the central Pacific displays the complicated characteristics of a lingering El Nino effect and possibly a waning La Nina - an ocean and climate in transition.

La Nina is basically the opposite of El Nino. During the La Nina effect the trade winds are stronger than normal. Cold water, usually found along the coasts of South America, extends to the central Pacific.

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