NCDC Frequently Asked Questions
Is the atmospheric/oceanic circulation changing?
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A rather abrupt change in the El Niño - Southern Oscillation behavior occurred around 1976/77. Often called the climatic shift of 1976/77, this new regime has persisted. There have been relatively more frequent and persistent El Niño episodes rather than the cool episode La Niñas. This behavior is highly unusual in the last 130 years (the period of instrumental record). Changes in precipitation over the tropical Pacific are related to this change in the El Niño - Southern Oscillation, which has also affected the pattern and magnitude of surface temperatures. However, it is unclear as to whether this apparent change in the ENSO cycle is related to global warming.