El Niño, 1997-1998: The Climate Event of the Century

El Niño, 1997-1998: The Climate Event of the Century

El Niño, 1997-1998: The Climate Event of the Century

El Niño, 1997-1998: The Climate Event of the Century

Synopsis

This book assembles a stellar group of contributors to provide an in-depth perspective on a nationally high visibility and complex climate event: El Nino 1997-1998. It presents what happened in the United States where El Nino became a household word and a "climate event of the century" to scientists. The book is a "snapshot" of events during a 14-month period starting when El Nino developed in the spring of 1997 and ending by early summer 1998. Its particular focus is on information that appeared in the media and on the Internet -- two major sources, correct or not, during the event.

Excerpt

This book represents a conjunction of the talents and interests needed to obtain a reasonably in-depth perspective of a nationally high visibility and complex climate event like El Niño 97-98. The book's focus is on what happened in the United States where El Niño became a household word and scientifically the "climate event of the century." The book is a "snapshot" of events during a 14-month period starting when El Niño developed in the late spring of 1997 and ending by early summer 1998. Some material was issued after June 1998, but it is tied to activities during the event.

The book has a strong focus on information that appeared in the media and on the Internet--these were the two major sources of information, good or bad, correct or not, issued during the event. What most everyone learned came from newspapers, television, and the Internet collectively comprising a myriad of sources.

The concept of such a study was the brainchild of Lee Wilkins and the book's editor, Stan Changnon, Both share interests and concerns over how the mass media handle and interpret scientific information and they had worked together on a book about the great Midwestern flood of 1993. The scientific anomaly that El Niño 97-98 represented and its massive press coverage led them to conceive of a project that would describe and try to interpret the entirety of El Niño in the U.S. This concept was shared with Jim Laver, the Assistant Director of the Climate Prediction Center (CPC). and this led to a project funded by CPC to perform the analysis. Lee assessed the media's handling of the issue, and Stan addressed the scientific issues that arose and the societal impacts that were created from the El Niño weather.

Other talents were needed to accomplish the goals of the project and the book envisioned. One involved extensive sampling of users of the long-range weather . . .

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