Discussion of Results

 

The results regarding which area of the pacific is more affected by El Nino are conclusive, as without a doubt, analysis of the data leads to the conclusion that the eastern pacific off the coast of Ecuador faces a more drastic ocean temperature change as a result of El Nino. Since ocean temperature alone possesses great control over the status of a body of water's surrounding environment, this data also leads me to believe that the environment itself is also under greater changes in the eastern pacific than in the western pacific. Looking specifically at the increase or decrease in temperature for El Nino 97-98 was not enough to come to these conclusions, for even in a non El Nino affected weather system there is going to be a change in water temperature as a result of changing seasons and other uncontrollable factors. For this reason, it was necessary to establish a means by which these changing water temperatures could be compared. In scientific terms, a control group was needed for the variable temperatures. Fortunately, the weather buoys used maintain information from as far back as 1980, so water temperatures for a normal year were attained in addition to the El Nino affected temperatues. Making comparisons between the El Nino affected water temperatures and those that were not affected made it possible to clearly see by how much the water temperatures were changing solely as a result of El Nino.

The temperatures received from the buoy off the coast of South America were the first analyzed. Already from the first day data was taken, June 1st, there was a solid 10.7 % increase in temperature as compared to 96-97. This very high level was easily maintained, as throughout the summer the temperatures continued to increase to as high as 28.01 degrees C with as much as a 31.6 % increase in temperature. On 9/15 and 10/1 there was a slight drop off in the % increase, however, this did not result from a drop in the growing El Nino water temperatures but rather from an unexplainable temporary increase on the same dates of the non El Nino year. The water temperatures continued to increase at a steady rate through winter into February, where the highest temperature was recorded on February 1st. The percent of increase peaked a little earlier though on December 15, where the percent increase from 96-97 to 97-98 was 36.1 %. Final results for the change in water temperature for the western pacific were as follows. The average water temperature for this area from June 1, 1996 through February 15, 1997 was 23.0 degrees C whereas the average water temperature for the same time period exactly one year later during El Nino conditions was 27.94 degrees C. The average amount by which the temperature had increased was 4.94 degrees C and finally, the average percent by which the 97-98 temperatures were higher than those of 96-97 was 21.9%. Contrary to predictions, the increase in water temperature began much earlier than expected. In addition this increase was maintained well into late winter 1998, much later than expected.

The area in the western pacific, off the coast of Asia, for which temperatures were recorded, was affected with a decrease in temperature as expected, however, the smaller time period and the extent to which the temperature was affected was not an predicted result. From the first recorded day, there was in fact a decrease in temperature, however, it was not until August 15th that this decrease reached more than 1 degree C. The temperature continued to decrease as did the percent by which it decreased until September 15 when the change reached its peak at a change of 2.68 degrees C and 8.8%. After this point however the change gradually tapered off. By mid December temperatures had all but returned to normal and on January 1st the water temperature was actually higher than it had been in normal conditions. The final results were as follows. The average water temperature for this area from June 1, 1996 through February 15, 1997 was 29.85 degrees C where as the average water temperature for the same time period exactly one year later during El Nino conditions was 29.04 degrees C. The average amount by which the temperature had decreased was .9 degrees C and finally, the average percent by which the 97-98 temperatures were lower than those of 96-97 was 3%. As predicted, the change in water temperature occured with greater strength, earlier in 1997. However the amount by which these temperatures were affected was much lower than expected.

Without a doubt, according to the data, a final conclusion can be made. The 21.9% average increase in water temperature in the eastern pacific far outweighs the 3% increase in water temperature in the west and therefore, the environment east of the pacific should expect far reaching and longer lasting effects than that west of the pacific.