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El Niño

National Geographic Society

This National Geographic video explains the origins of the El Niño Southern Oscillation using animations and shows the impacts on humans, wildlife and habitat, particularly in the United States.

Video length: 3:10 min.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas
High School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Use this resource to lead a discussion of the differences between climate variability and climate change.
  • The images are not annotated, so the educator may have to pause and explain what some of the graphics are.

About the Science

  • The video addresses climate variability, not climate change, so the educator needs to explain that distinction.
  • There is no clear link between climate change and ENSO and the video is not trying to make that link.
  • Comment from expert scientist: This is an excellent graphic depiction of El Niño and its consequences. The depiction of the relocation of the centers of convection over the Pacific margins is particularly good. The incorporation of real data - superimposed on the globe - is also excellent and memorable.

About the Pedagogy

  • The video provides a short concise introduction to a discussion of the El Niño phenomena and its impacts.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The video has a short commercial advertisement at the beginning. Educators can pause just after this ad to begin the video during their class without the ad playing.
  • Because of compression, the video is fuzzy at full resolution. It may not be good for projection in a classroom.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

MS-ESS2.C2:The complex patterns of the changes and the movement of water in the atmosphere, determined by winds, landforms, and ocean temperatures and currents, are major determinants of local weather patterns.

MS-ESS2.D1:Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

MS-ESS2.D3:The ocean exerts a major influence on weather and climate by absorbing energy from the sun, releasing it over time, and globally redistributing it through ocean currents.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

HS-ESS2.C1:The abundance of liquid water on Earth’s surface and its unique combination of physical and chemical properties are central to the planet’s dynamics. These properties include water’s exceptional capacity to absorb, store, and release large amounts of energy, transmit sunlight, expand upon freezing, dissolve and transport materials, and lower the viscosities and melting points of rocks.

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

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