ENSO Protocol Bundle

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I. Overview

El Niño and La Niña are important climatic phenomenon that can have impacts on the climate globally causing flooding and droughts as well as changes in seasonal weather. These interactions around the world are called teleconnections. Considering the importance of this issue, a GLOBE ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) Campaign has been formulated to engage students in determining where and how much El Niño affects local places and to put students in contact with the resulting patterns in their local environment.


II. List of the GLOBE Protocols included in the bundle



            Surface Temperature

            Max/Min Daily Air Temperature


Pedosphere (Soil)

            SMAP Soil Moisture

            Soil Temperature



            Water Temperature


III. Discussion of each GLOBE Protocol included in the bundle


  • Precipitation Protocol: How much precipitation falls in a region, when it falls within the year, whether it falls as rain or snow, and the amount that falls in individual events helps define the climate of that region. Materials: Installed rain gauge, snowboard, two or three containers for snow samples, Carpenter’s level, meter stick,
  • Surface Temperature Protocol: The temperature of your surrounding environment is ever changing, and thermal energy is constantly being transferred among all the components of the environment. Materials: Hand-held infrared thermometer, thermal glove, meter stick, watch, pencil
  • Max/Min Daily Air Temperature Protocol: Air temperature plays a major role in understanding our ever-changing weather and climate. Materials: Max-Min thermometer, sling psychrometer, string, rubber band, watch, pencil.


Pedosphere (Soil)

  • SMAP Soil Moisture Protocol: Soil moisture determines how much water is in the soil at a given location. Materials: 500-mL graduated cylinder, balance or scale, sealable plastic bags, 4 sampling cans, plastic wrap, soil-drying oven
  • Soil Temperature Protocol: The temperature of the soil affects climate, plant growth, the timing of budburst or leaf fall, the rate of decomposition of organic wastes and other chemical, physical, and biological processes that take place in the soil. Materials: Digital soil thermometer, 12 cm nail or spike, 500-mL beaker, hammer, spacers, wrench, watch, GLOBE Science Log(s)



  • Water Temperature Protocol: Water temperature influences the amount and diversity of aquatic life. Materials: Thermometer, watch, string, rubber band, latex gloves.


IV. Examples of case studies

An ENSO caused drought in the summer of 2015 in the middle of the rainy season, was an off-season drought. The water shortage crisis stemmed from the low level of water in reservoirs and a dry rainy season, which is an effect of El Niño. Major rice fields have been severely damaged by the drought. A major prediction was that if there was less rainfall than predicted in August and September, billions of baht in rice field damage will send Thai economic growth down by 0.4%. Yet El Niño is a global phenomenon and global rice prices have increased only slightly as a result of a widespread fall in the rice supply due to El Niño’s effects in the local agricultural environment.


Thai Economic growth will edge down following any fall in agriculture production.The decline in major rice production means lower incomes not only for rice farmers but also for other stakeholders in the supply chain, i.e., suppliers of fertilizers, herbicides, and other agricultural supplies. Losses, however, will be limited if rainfall arrives as predicted. In that case it is estimated that only 1-2% of rain-fed rice will be damaged. On the other hand, if rainfall is further delayed, agricultural production will be heavily hit. Particularly, over 30% of major rice production will suffer, leading to an up to 0.4% fall in economic growth this year. ENSO has played a major role in this issue.


Source: SCB Economic Intelligence Center



SCB Economic Intelligence Center. ‘Drought, a worrying situation for Thai agriculture’ (Last accessed October 2018) available at https://www.scbeic.com/en/detail/product/1429


V. Conclusion

ENSO is an important part of the global climate system. To determine its effects on your area you will need to collect measurements for several years so that you have local data for at least two of the phases of the ENSO cycle: El Nino, La Nina, and normal. With such a data set you may researchENSO effects on average air, surface, soil, and water temperatures as well as precipitation and soil moisture and the consequences for the environment and biosphere whre you live.



Acknowledgements: Special thanks to members of the GLOBE Science Working Group and Brian Campbell for improving the quality of the work.

Compiled by: Claudia Caro and Olawale Oluwafemi (Femi)

Edited by: Dr. Dixon and Prof. Cartalis