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Warm Ocean Temperatures Blanket the Far-Western Pacific
This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated. At the time of publication, it represented the best available science. However, more recent observations and studies may have rendered some content obsolete.
These data, taken during a 10-day collection cycle ending March 9, 2001,
show that above-normal sea-surface heights and warmer ocean temperatures
(indicated by the red and white areas) still blanket the far-western
tropical Pacific and much of the north (and south) mid-Pacific. Red areas are about 10
centimeters (4 inches) above normal; white areas show the sea-surface
height is between 14 and 32 centimeters (6 to 13 inches) above normal.
This build-up of heat dominating the Western Pacific was first noted by
TOPEX/Poseidon oceanographers more than two years ago and has outlasted
the El Niño and La Niña events of the past few years. See:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/elnino/990127.html . This warmth contrasts with
the Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, and tropical Pacific where
lower-than-normal sea levels and cool ocean temperatures continue
(indicated by blue areas). The blue areas are between 5 and 13 centimeters (2 and 5 inches) below
normal, whereas the purple areas range from 14 to18 centimeters (6 to 7
inches) below normal. Actually, the near-equatorial ocean cooled through
the fall of 2000 into mid-winter and continues almost La Niña-like.
Looking at the entire Pacific basin, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation's
warm horseshoe and cool wedge pattern still dominates this sea-level
height image. Most recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) sea-surface temperature data also clearly illustrate the persistence of
this basin-wide pattern. They are available at