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ENSO Temperature Trends
For a video version of this graphic updated through 2016, click here
Berkeley Earth estimates of the change in average annual global surface air temperature (1966–2015) show that much of the short-term variability in the upward temperature trend is produced by the El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a 2–7 year climate pattern in the tropical Pacific. Average air temperature is affected by many different factors, including: anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming (AGW) that is mainly caused by CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels; the 11-year solar sunspot cycle; sulfate aerosols from volcanic eruptions; and the periodic ENSO.
In this analysis, each year was classified as either an El Niño, La Niña, or ENSO-neutral year based on the average of 3 common ENSO indices. The years were then ranked and the top, middle, and bottom approximately one-third of the ranked years were classified as El Niño, neutral, and La Niña years, as described here. Years that were strongly influenced by the volcanic eruptions of El Chichón (1983–1985) and Mount Pinatubo (1992–1994) were excluded from the analysis due to the temporary cooling effect of volcanic aerosols.
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