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

By Stanley A. Changnon | Go to book overview

1
What Made El Niño 1997-1998 Famous?

The Key Events Associated with a Unique Climatic Event
STANLEY A. CHANGNONEl Niño 97-98 provided one of the most interesting and widely known climatic events of this century. It garnered enormous attention not only in the scientific community but also in the media and from the American public.El Niño developed rapidly in the tropical Pacific during May 1997, and by October "El Niño" had become a household phrase across America. Television and radio, newspapers and magazines pummeled America with the dire tales of El Niño during the fall of 1997 as the climate disruption battered the West Coast and the southern United States with storm after storm. Worried families changed vacation plans, and insurance executives pondered losses and raised rates. Victims of every type of severe weather blamed El Niño. After a winter filled with unusual weather, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared, "This winter's El Niño ranks as one of the major climatic events of this century." It was the first El Niño observed and forecast from start to finish.The event was noteworthy from several perspectives.
• First, it became the largest and warmest El Niño to develop in the Pacific Ocean during the past 100 years.
• Second, the news media gave great attention to the event, and El Niño received more attention at all levels than had any previous climate event.
• Third, scientists were able to use El Niño conditions to successfully predict the climate conditions of the winter six months in advance.

-3-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Contributors xv
  • 1 - What Made El NiñO 1997-1998 Famous? 3
  • References 26
  • 2 - Causes, Predictions, and Outcomes of El NiñO 1997-1998 28
  • References 47
  • 3 - Was El NiñO a Weather Metaphor--A Signal for Global Warming? 49
  • Notes 67
  • References 67
  • 4 - The Scientific Issues Associated with El NiñO 1997-1998 68
  • Appendix 103
  • References 105
  • 5 - Who Used and Benefited from the El NiñO Forecasts? 109
  • References 134
  • 6 - Impacts of El NiñO's Weather 136
  • References 166
  • 7 - Policy Responses to El NiñO 1997-1998 172
  • References 193
  • 8 - Summary Surprises, Lessons Learned, and the Legacy of El NiñO 1997-1998 197
  • References 209
  • Index 211
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