Insights: The Newsletter of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship


Warren P. Aston


El Niño, dendrochronology, Pacific Ocean, Book of Mormon


In recent years several scholars have drawn the attention of Latter-day Saints to the phenomenon popularly known as “El Niño.”1 In 1990 David L. Clark highlighted the fact that a mechanism was now known to science that would permit, periodically, easterly sea travel across the Pacific, the direction Lehi’s party is understood to have traveled.2 ENSO, the more formal acronym for this phenomenon, comes from El Niño (the Christ child) and Southern Oscillation, referring to the fact that the changes commence in the southern Pacific Ocean. The intermittent ENSO effect creates an easterly equatorial current running counter to the prevailing westerly direction of Pacific currents and winds. The winds can even blow in reverse, thus not only allowing but encouraging sea travel to the western coast of the Americas.