Friday, September 29, 2023

The Global Impact of El Niño

This month New South Wales in Australia has been experiencing temperatures up to 16C above the Sepetember average. This is likely the start of El Niño's grip on the country. In an El Niño year Australia typically experiences drought conditions. In July the the World Meteorological Organization said there is a 90% likelihood of El Niño conditions developing this year. They say that it likely to be of 'moderate strength'.

According to Axios "El Niño can reshape weather patterns around the world, bringing drought for tens of millions and floods to others." You can learn more about what causes an El Niño and how it impacts weather conditions around the world in Axios' explainer How the El Niño Climate Pattern Affects the World's Weather.

At the heart of Axios' presentation on the causes and effects of El Niño is an animated story map. This map is used to show how rising temperatures in the Pacific Ocean can lead to shifting trade wind patterns. The effect of these shifting trade wind patterns can in turn lead to a "reduction in rainfall in the western Pacific" (leading, for example, to drought conditions in Australia). In the U.S. the effect of an El Niño is felt most strongly in winter, often leading to wetter conditions in the south, drier than normal conditions in the Midwest and milder than average conditions in the west.

The Axios map includes animated carbon concentration and sea surface temperature layers. I don't know how Azios created their animated weather layers but many animated weather maps use the open source animated weather map released by as a starting point for animating weather data on a map. Mapbox has also released its own animated web-gl wind code, which is particularly useful for creating animated weather layers for maps built with Mapbox's mapping library.

If you want to create an interactive storymap with Mapbox like Axios' El Niño map then a good place to start is this Mapbox Interactive Storytelling template.

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