We study the dynamics of the El Niño phenomenon using the mathematical model of delayedaction oscillator (DAO). Topics such as the influence of the annual cycle, global warming, stochastic influences due to weather conditions and even off-equatorial heat-sinks can all be discussed using only modest analytical and numerical resources. Thus the DAO allows for a pedagogical introduction to the science of El Niño and La Niña while at the same time avoiding the need for large-scale computing resources normally associated with much more sophisticated coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models. It is an approach which is ideally suited for student projects both at high school and undergraduate level
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