1997-26 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 17, 1997
Boulder, CO 80307-3000
Quick Rise in Temperatures Suggests a
Blockbuster El Nino for the Late Nineties;
NCAR El Nino Colloquium This Month
BOULDER--El Nino 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
Nino 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 Nino, the upcoming colloquium, the relationship between
El Nino episodes and global warming, and a recently published book
on El Nino for the lay reader. Also included are a list of experts
and helpful World Wide Web sites.
The current El Nino
A strong El Nino 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 Nino
of 1982-83. That El Nino, the century's strongest, triggered over
$10 billion in weather-related damages worldwide. One signal of
the current El Nino'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 Nino. If this
event behaves as most do, the present oceanic signals of El Nino
will continue to intensify during the summer and fall.
A two-week colloquium, "A Systems Approach to El Nino-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; email@example.com). A
session schedule is available on the colloquium's interactive Web
site, http://www.dir.ucar.edu/esig/enso, or by calling
El Nino and global warming
El Nino 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 Nino to clearly attribute
these changes to global warming. However, even without affecting
how often El Nino 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 Nino and its inverse, La Nina. Trenberth
believes that global warming and El Nino 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 supplies.
The book: Currents of Change
Published in fall 1996 and now in its second printing, Michael
Glantz's book, Currents of Change: El Nino's Impact on Climate and
Society (Cambridge University Press) is aimed at a broad audience.
Glantz defines El Nino, 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 El Nino.
Michael (Mickey) Glantz 303-497-8119 firstname.lastname@example.org
NCAR/Environmental and Societal Impacts Group (ESIG)
Specialty: Interaction between climate anomalies and human
activities. A political scientist, Glantz has studied El Nino's
societal impacts for 23 years.
Kevin Trenberth 303-497-1318 email@example.com
NCAR/Climate and Global Dynamics Division
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 of 1993.
Gerald Meehl 303-497-1331 firstname.lastname@example.org
NCAR/Climate and Global Dynamics Division
Specialty: Tropical climate and climate change. Meehl has studied
El Nino phenomena using observations and global climate models and
has analyzed links between El Nino and the Asian-Australian
Nick Graham 619-534-1858 email@example.com
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 Nino; marine
meteorology of U.S. West Coast.
Ants Leetmaa 301-763-8396, ext. 7553
National Center for Environmental Prediction/Coupled Modeling
Specialty: Coupled ocean-atmospheric modeling and seasonal
climate prediction, with an emphasis on ENSO.
Martin Hoerling 303-492-1114 firstname.lastname@example.org
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/Climate
Specialty: The global impact of El Nino on weather and climate.
Antonio Moura 914-365-8493
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia
University/International Research Institute for Climate Prediction
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.
Michael McPhaden 206-526-6783 email@example.com
NOAA/Pacific Marine Environment Laboratory
Specialty: Development of ocean observing systems for climate
studies; interpretation of resulting data to understand and
predict climate variability.
Pertinent sites on the World Wide Web
Interactive Web Site for ENSO Colloquium
The night before each presentation, extended abstracts will
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 Tropico Humedo para
America Latina y el Caribe/Water Center for the Humid Tropics of
Latin America and the Caribbean) and TC3 (Trade Convergence
Contact: Jan Stewart, 303-497-8117
NOAA/An El Nino Theme Page
This award-winning page features a comprehensive set of links
many sources of El Nino information. It includes various sources
of predictions, current ENSO data (including information on how it
is gathered), and a list of frequently asked questions.
Contact: Nancy Soreide, 206-526-6890
NOAA/Climate Prediction Center (CPC)
This page includes a link to the CPC's ENSO Diagnostic
the primary U.S. outlook on El Nino 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
Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies
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.)
Contact: Ben Kirtman, 301-595-7000
NCAR is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric
Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation.
Find this tip sheet on the World Wide Web at
To receive UCAR and NCAR press releases by e-mail,
telephone 303-497-8601 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org