lesson 8 - Introduction to ENSO events As you know from the...

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Introduction to ENSO events As you know from the Tropical Circulation lesson, climate in the equatorial tropics is dominated by the ITCZ and is characterized by somewhat monotonous weather. You also learned that the tropical regions immediately poleward of the equator are more dramatically affected by migrations of the ITCZ, as well as the transient oceanic and atmospheric disturbances we will discuss in this lesson. Not only will we talk about these disturbances and their connections (called teleconnections ) to weather and hazard anomalies worldwide, we will also take a look at how people have learned to live with them. How is it that El Niño is a phenomenon of the tropical Pacific Ocean, yet it frequently makes the news as having an impact on local weather all over the globe? Why did we only begin to really hear about El Niño in the early 1980s when South-American fisherman have recognized it since at least the 1800s and the Inca recognized it well before that? How in the world can some researchers blame El Niño for coastal erosion in California, bushfires in Australia, malaria outbreaks in Africa, drought in India, death of over 10% of the world's coral in one year, an increase in hurricane activity, a decrease of activity in "Tornado Alley," and fluctuations in natural gas prices? Where does La Niña come into play? How have people adapted to these oceanic and atmospheric phenomena? Is forecasting Los Niños possible or even worthwhile? What were the most costly El Niño and La Niña events in history? ENSO events: El Niño and "relatives" El Niño, La Niña, El Viejo, Southern Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, Atlantic ITCZ Oscillation, Warm Pool Oscillation, Pacific Decadal Oscillation. ...and that's just the beginning. What do they all mean? Are they related? The bottom line : They are all massive, cyclical, climatic anomalies that affect the global environment. Learning more about these anomalies may help scientists explain abnormal/drastic changes in our weather and other related phenomena (e.g., catastrophic floods, mass wasting, droughts, global warming, wildfires, biotic fluctuations, wine production in western Europe, early springs in Washington DC, etc.). In this section of the lesson, we are going to explore El Niño (EN), Southern Oscillation (SO), and La Niña (LN) and the way they impact us. These three anomalous phenomena are featured in this lesson because they are examples of transient oceanic/atmospheric disturbances that take place in the tropics, yet affect global environmental conditions. These phenomena have a significant impact on our lives whether we realize it or not. What are El Niño, Southern Oscillation, and La Niña?
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El Niño and La Niña are opposing components in a natural climatic cycle, called the El Niño- Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle , that takes place in the Pacific Ocean . During El Niño years a pool of very warm surface water shifts from the western side of the tropical Pacific to the east
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This note was uploaded on 09/14/2009 for the course ISS 731 taught by Professor A.arbogast during the Summer '09 term at Michigan State University.

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lesson 8 - Introduction to ENSO events As you know from the...

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