Resources for teachers: GEOGRAPHY

What is El Niño?

Discipline: GEOGRAPHY

Key Stage: 3 or 4

Key idea: CLIMATE

TITLE:

What is El Niño?

AIM:

At the end of the exercise you should be able to apply some scientific ideas to explain a climatic event.

BACKGROUND

A description of what an El Niño event is and how it is caused can be found here.

ACTIVTY

A
1. Fill a large beaker [500ml] with cold water to near the top.
2. Tie a piece of thread around the rim of a small test tube and fill the test tube with hot, coloured water. [ A dilute solution of methylene blue will do.]
3. Lower the test tube containing the dyed water into the beaker filled with cold water.
4. Observe what happens to the hot water

B
Read the El Niño page.

C
1. Collect two 250ml beakers, fill one with hot water – take care, and the other with cold water - leaving a 3cm gap to the rim each time.
2. Place an evaporating dish over the top of each beaker.
3. Observe the difference between the two after a minute.

QUESTIONS/TASKS

  • Use your understanding of particles to explain why hot water is less dense than cold water.
  • Why is rainfall most likely to occur in areas where the sea temperature is highest?
  • Give two economic influences that El Niño can have on the people of Peru.

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February 2007