What happened in 1982
RSMAS, University of Miami
• What is El Nino?
• Why 1982?
• Oceanographic Events
• Meteorological Events
What is El Nino?
• major temperature fluctuations
in surface waters of the
tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean.
• Non-El Nino conditions the
trade winds blow towards the
west across the tropical
• During El Nino, the trade
winds relax in the central and
western Pacific leading to a
depression of the thermocline
in the eastern Pacific, and an
elevation of the thermocline in
Why 1982 El Nino?
• The strongest and most devastating of the
• 2,000 deaths.
• $13 billion in damage to property and
• The Annual Cycle in the Tropical Pacific
• The Canonical El Nino
• 1982-1983 El Nino
“Oceanographic Events during El Nino”, Mark A. Cane
Standard El Nino Phases
• Prelude: Strong easterlies, high sea level,
• Onset: East trade winds begin to diminish
• Event: Warming the South Coast of
America, westerly winds, high sea level
• Mature Phase: Another warming in
December, trade winds become normal
1982-1983 El Nino
• West coast sea level
decreased in April and
continued to drop
throughout the year.
• East Coast Islands
sea level increased
25cm instead of
Meteorological Aspects of El Nino
• In normal conditions, Walker Circulation
Typical El Nino vs. 1982 El Nino
Atm. Conditions after the peak of 1982 El Nino Atm.
Typical El Nino Conditions
Possible reasons of 1982 El Nino
• Swing in the Southern
• El Chichon eruption
• The El Chichon eruption of 6th
April 1982 was powerful
enough to eject aerosols and
dust particles into the
stratosphere, resulting in
greater scattering and
reflection of incoming sunlight,
thus dampening the warming
effect of El Niño.
December 1982-February SST & SST