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Paleo Slide Set: Coral Paleoclimatology:Natural Record of Climate change for High School Student
This map shows where El Niño occurs in the South Pacific
Scientists do not collect coral samples from just anywhere. The location of a site is extremely important. Paleoclimatologists are interested only in those sites where a clear, identifiable climate signal can be detected. Scientists want to spend their time studying an area that will give them the clearest picture of past climate change and so they explore areas of the globe where climate changes have been most dramatic.

El Niño transforms the weather in the Pacific Ocean significantly, making it an important area for the study of climate history. An El Niño is the appearance of warm waters in the eastern Pacific. El Niño is Spanish for the Christ Child originally named by South American fishermen because the event occurs near Christmas time. Because El Niño waters are much warmer than waters in other years, dramatically different regional climate patterns result.

Photo Credits:
Sarah H. Dawson
NOAA Paleoclimatology Program

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Last Modified: 12 October 2001

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