FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 17, 1997|
Quick Rise in Temperatures Suggests a Blockbuster El Niño for the Late Nineties; NCAR El Niño Colloquium This Month
July 17, 1997
P.O. Box 3000
Boulder, CO 80307-3000
Telephone: (303) 497-8611
Fax: (303) 497-8610
BOULDER--El Niño is a warming of the surface waters of the
tropical Pacific Ocean whose far-reaching climatic consequences affect
societies and economies around the globe. As the second El Niño
of the nineties builds in the Pacific, the National Center for
Atmospheric Research is hosting a colloquium of experts July 20-August
1 in Boulder. This Tip Sheet has information about the current El
Niño, the upcoming colloquium, the relationship between El
Niño episodes and global warming, and a recently published book
on El Niño for the lay reader. Also included are a list of
experts and helpful World Wide Web sites.
The current El Niño
A strong El Niño has developed over the past several months.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA), waters across the eastern tropical Pacific have warmed to
levels of 2 to 3 degrees Celsius above normal. Near the South American
coast, waters are the warmest observed since the El Niño of
1982-83. That El Niño, the century's strongest, triggered over
$10 billion in weather-related damages worldwide. One signal of the
current El Niño's strength: for about 10 days last month, the
northeasterly trade winds across the entire equatorial Pacific reverted
to westerlies. Such a switch has been observed only once in the past 30
years--again, during the 1982-83 El Niño. If this event behaves
as most do, the present oceanic signals of El Niño will continue
to intensify during the summer and fall.
A two-week colloquium, "A Systems Approach to El Niño-Southern
Oscillation (ENSO): Oceanic, Atmospheric, Societal, Environmental, and
Policy Perspectives" will be held in Boulder July 20-August 1.
Sponsored by NCAR with additional support from NOAA, the colloquium
will update participants on current understanding of the causes,
effects, and implications of ENSO and the various roles ENSO plays in
the global climate system. By taking a multidisciplinary, systems-based
approach, the colloquium seeks to stimulate new insights about
climate-society interactions. Prominent ENSO experts will draw from
oceanography, atmospheric science, statistics, ecology, and biology, as
well as economics and other social sciences, in their presentations.
The colloquium is open to the press by prior arrangement with organizer
Michael Glantz (303-497-8119; firstname.lastname@example.org). A session schedule is
available on the colloquium's
site, or by calling 303-497-8117.
El Niño and global warming
El Niño has been showing up more often since the late 1970s,
with a prolonged episode from 1990 to 1995 and another quickly building
up now. According to NCAR atmospheric scientist Kevin Trenberth, one
possible explanation is that the warm pool in the tropical western
Pacific Ocean may be growing larger. Climate models are not yet
accurate enough in simulating El Niño to clearly attribute these
changes to global warming. However, even without affecting how often El
Niño occurs or how long it stays around, global climate warming
is likely to intensify the extremes of flooding and drought already
experienced in different parts of the world during a normal El
Niño and its inverse, La Niña. Trenberth believes that
global warming and El Niño reinforce each other in their impact
on the environment and society, primarily through their combined
effects on the hydrological cycle and the repercussions for water
The book: Currents of Change
Published in fall 1996 and now in its second printing, Michael Glantz's
book, Currents of Change: El Niño's Impact on Climate and
Society (Cambridge University Press) is aimed at a broad audience.
Glantz defines El Niño, describes its far-reaching impacts on
climate and society, and discusses how those impacts might be forecast.
The book considers the state of prediction research and the value of
forecasts in preparing for widespread effects, from drought to malaria
epidemics. An introductory crossword puzzle tests readers' knowledge of
| Michael (Mickey)
NCAR/Environmental and Societal
Impacts Group (ESIG)
Specialty: Interaction between climate anomalies and human
activities. A political scientist, Glantz has studied El Niño's
societal impacts for 23 years.
NCAR/Climate and Global Dynamics
Specialty: Global climate analysis. Trenberth has studied ENSO's
interaction with global change and its impact on weather and climate
anomalies worldwide, including the Midwest drought of 1988 and floods
NCAR/Climate and Global Dynamics
Specialty: Tropical climate and climate change. Meehl has
studied El Niño phenomena using observations and global climate
models and has analyzed links between El Niño and the
Scripps Institution of
Oceanography/Climate Research Division
Specialty: Role of tropical oceans and climate in global climate
variability and climate change; seasonal-to-interannual climate
prediction; impacts of climate variability and El Niño; marine
meteorology of U.S. West Coast.
| Ants Leetmaa||301-763-8396, ext.
National Center for Environmental
Prediction/Climate Prediction Center
Specialty: Director of CPC, which provides operational predictions of climate variations and monitors the global climate system.
Institute of Global Environment and
Society/Center for Application of Research on the Environment
Specialty: Addressing the domestic and international
applications of new climate forecast capabilities; establishing and
supporting a dialogue between scientists and potential beneficiaries to
identify forecast needs.
Florida State University/Center for
Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies
Specialty: Impacts (hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires,
agriculture) of El Niño on North America.
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of
Columbia University/International Research Institute for Climate
Specialty: Climate impacts over South America; applications of
seasonal-to-interannual forecasts to agriculture in northeast Brazil
and flooding in southern South America. Moura served as director
general of Brazil's weather service.
NOAA/Pacific Marine Environment
Specialty: Development of ocean observing systems for climate
studies; interpretation of resulting data to understand and predict
Pertinent sites on the World Wide Web
New: NOAA Office of Global Programs/El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Home Page
An excellent one-stop source of pertinent information on El Niño, tailored to newcomers. Provides links to the current status of this El Niño, its expected effects on the United States and other countries, and sources for more information.
Interactive Web Site
for ENSO Colloquium
The night before each presentation, extended abstracts will be
posted on the Web. Visitors to the site may pose a question for the
next day's discussions. A session summary, including responses to Web
questions, will be posted after the session. Spanish translations of
the extended abstracts, funded by the National Science Foundation, will
be available on the Web site through the assistance of CATHALAC (Centro
del Agua del Trpico Hmedo para América Latina y el Caribe/Water
Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean) and
TC3 (Trade Convergence Climatic Complex).
NOAA/An El Niño Theme Page
Contact: Jan Stewart, 303-497-8117
This award-winning page features a comprehensive set of links to
many sources of El Niño information. It includes various sources
of predictions, current ENSO data (including information on how it is
gathered), and a list of frequently asked questions.
Prediction Center (CPC)
Contact: Nancy Soreide, 206-526-6890
This page includes a link to the CPC's ENSO Diagnostic Advisory,
the primary U.S. outlook on El Niño conditions. It is updated on
an irregular basis as ENSO conditions evolve. Also included are links
to CPC predictions of sea-surface temperature and to the center's
multiseason climate outlooks, which project U.S. climate up to one year
in advance based on ENSO and other signals.
Contact: Peggie Davis, 301-763-8000, ext. 7502
Part of an ongoing effort to predict ENSO behavior using an
ocean/atmosphere computer model, this site includes an archive of
sea-surface temperature forecasts issued every two to three months.
(These forecasts are intended as research tools and not as outlooks on
which commercial or policy decisions should be based.)
Diagnostic Center (CDC)
Contact: Ben Kirtman, 301-595-7000
This site offers answers to such questions as "what happens during
an El Niño," "what are the effects of ENSO on climate," and
"what is the current state of El Niño." Color animations of sea
surface temperature anomalies can be viewed in Netscape without
downloading additional software. The site offers resources for teachers
and the public, a list of publications, and a glossary.
Contact: Martin Hoerling, 303-492-1114
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under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation.
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telephone 303-497-8601 or by email
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