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El Niño Temperatures in Pacific Ocean Break 25-Year Record: ‘This Thing Is Still Growing’

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The average sea-surface temperature departure from the average over the four weeks ending on Nov. 7, 2015. (NOAA / Climate.gov)

Temperatures in a key location of the Pacific Ocean are now far hotter than normal than ever were in the record 1997 El Niño.

Some scientists say the readings show that this year’s El Niño could be among the most powerful on record — and even topple the 1997 El Niño from its pedestal.

“This thing is still growing and it’s definitely warmer than it was in 1997,” said Bill Patzert, climatologist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. As far as the temperature readings go, “it’s now bypassed the previous champ of the modern satellite era — the 1997 El Niño has just been toppled by 2015.”

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at Stanford University, called the temperature reading significant. It is the highest such weekly temperature above the average in 25 years of modern record keeping in this key region of the Pacific Ocean west of Peru.

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