Get ready for the storm of the century: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena this week unleashed a study showing that El Ninos, those wet-weather generators for Southern California, are growing stronger and more frequent.
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There has been some speculation that the warm Pacific waters that create El Ninos have been intensifying as a result of global warming. It's possible that global warming might be goosing the newer, more powerful type of El Nino scientists have observed:
"These results suggest climate change may already be affecting El Niño by shifting the center of action from the eastern to the central Pacific," states Michael McPhaden of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "El Niño's impact on global weather patterns is different if ocean warming occurs primarily in the central Pacific, instead of the eastern Pacific."
The biggest finding in the study appears to be that a new kind of El Nino "is becoming more common and progressively stronger," according to a JPL statement. The newer El Ninos, which have been seen in the winters of 1991-92, 1994-95, 2002-03, 2004-05 and 2009-10.