Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

November 12, 1997
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El Niño Earth
Credit: TOPEX/Poseidon Team, CNES, NASA

Explanation: El Niño is a temporary global climate change resulting from unusually warm water in the central Pacific Ocean. El Niño can cause unusual or severe weather for some locations over the next few months. Warm water is shown in white in the above false-color picture taken by the orbiting TOPEX/Poseidon satellite in late October. The Pacific Ocean is color coded by sea surface height relative to normal ocean levels. The large white area represents a mass of warm water 30 times greater than all the Great Lakes, flowing toward the Americas. Although El Niños occur every decade or so, this year's is the first ever predicted. The cause and full effects of El Niños are still under study.

Tomorrow's picture: Sheer Mars

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.