There is a terrific battle of hot vs. cold going on in the Pacific, and La Nina may be losing out to El Nino.
The latest information from NASA's Topex-Poseidon satellite shows the Pacific Ocean running both hot and cold as the phenomena evolve."The very strong signal we had last winter from El Nino continues to linger, and embedded in that is this La Nina signal that began last May," oceanographer Bill Patzert said Wednesday. "It looks like the El Nino signal remains strong, and the La Nina signal seems to be waning a little bit. But both signals are very, very strong."
El Nino is the phenomenon in which a large mass of warm water across the equator begins to pile up against the west coast of South America. La Nina is essentially the opposite - cold water that exists along the coast of South America extends out to the central Pacific.
Both are linked to changes in global weather patterns.
Topex-Poseidon measures sea surface height, an indicator of the ocean's heat content.
Scientists said the new image shows the rapid cooling that occurred in the central tropical Pacific has slowed and the area of cold water known as La Nina has slightly decreased since August.
That leaves uncertain whether La Nina will last very long if it develops, raising questions about long-range weather forecasts.