"The area of below normal sea surface temperatures continues to expand in the central equatorial Pacific, marking the demise of the 1997/1998 El Niño episode and the further evolution of La Niña (Cold episode) conditions. El NIA ("the girl"), the twin and opposite of more well known El No ("the boy") is now in full swing.
The warm peaks--El Niño --were first named by South American fishermen because the warm, oxygen--and nutrient--poor water caused fish catches to plunge around Christmas time (El Niño is also a reference to the Christ child) in certain years. According to the National Center for Environmental Prediction, this century\'s previous La Niña\'s began in 1903, 1906, 1909, 1916, 1924, 1928, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1964, 1970, 1973, 1975, and 1988. During the most recent La Niña, in the winter of 1988-89, sea surface temperatures were about 7 degrees F below normal. La Niña\'s don\'t always follow El Niño\'s; since 1975, La Niña\'s have been roughly half as frequent as El Niño\'s.
The researchers identified what is known and still unknown about La Niña and what is needed in order to issue forecasts and prepare for La Niña\'s impacts. The scientists at the meeting agreed that better ocean monitoring is needed for more accurate predictions of El Niño and La Niña.