The family name

Because therms far more to El Nino than a change in the ocean, the term is now popularly used to refer not only to the oceanic warming but also to the weather changes that go along with it Ditto for La Nina. However, scientists have to be more precise than this. Some argue over which patch of the Pacific ought to be used to diagnose El Nino. At leastfour different regions have been considered. Experts refer to the whole interwoven phenomenon – El Nino, La Nina and the atmospheric changes related to them – as the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Journalists would cringe, but one scientist proposed changing El Nino'to a more precise but far less catchy term: 'the warm phase of ENSO'. The flip side of El Nino became commonly known as La Nina only in the 1980s. Peruvians had never attached a label to the cooler than normal waters, since they saw no negative effects on the local ecosystem. La Nina is actually a bit of an ungainly term, since there is no female equivalent in Spanish for the Christ child. Two alternatives – seldom used outside of the scientific world – are the anti-El Nino and El Viejo (the old man).