Impacts of El Nino and La Nina

Sue Clement, Kent State University-Geauga Campus
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Initial Publication Date: May 31, 2013 | Reviewed: July 12, 2015


In this exercise, students explore NOAA and the Climate Data Center websites that provide information about El Niño. The students are then asked interpret a series of maps to describe the key changes in climate conditions during El Niño and La Niña. Two locations of emphasized: North America and Australia to illustrate the contrast in climatic changes and allow for determination of the impacts close to home.

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undergraduate course for non-science majors

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

familiarity with web-browsing software

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity can be assigned as a stand alone homework or as an in-class activity if computers are available.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

  • El Nino & La Nino
  • Atmospheric Circulation sea surface temperature patterns in equatorial Pacific
  • Climate Impact

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

  • interpret graphical information
  • synthesize data to draw conclusions

Other skills goals for this activity

Description and Teaching Materials

Impact of El Nino and La Nino (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 95kB May31 13)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Since the exercise is a series of questions based on reading and interpretation of maps, a simple rubric can be applied.

References and Resources