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

By Stanley A. Changnon | Go to book overview

4
The Scientific Issues Associated with El Niño 1997-1998
STANLEY A. CHANGNONThe development of a record large El Niño event and its ensuing major effects on the nation's weather over an eight-month period created a scientific event of major proportions. Key science-related questions that developed during El Niño 97-98 included:
Who was issuing El Niño-based climate predictions and for what conditions;
What kinds of weather conditions were caused by El Niño;
What types of impacts were being projected as a result of the El Niño weather?
How accurate and useful were the El Niño-based climate predictions?
How accurate were the oceanic predictions relating to the development, intensification, and dissipation of El Niño 97-98;
Was the record-size event caused by global warming?

Answers to such questions define the scientific information transmitted to the public, the scientific community, and decision makers during the event. This assessment focused on the scientific information that appeared during the period from May 1997 to June 1998. but it also included information that appeared a few months after El Niño ended (i.e., into early 1999), since these issuances reflect the thoughts and findings generated by scientists during the event. Topics assessed included: (1) the sources of the scientific information, (2) how the information was interpreted and by whom, (3) the accuracy of what was presented by different sources, and (4) the scientific issues that emerged, some of which involved disagreements and/or caused potential confusion for decision makers and the public. Most of the information assessed herein was extracted from the Internet, newspaper stories, and scientific documents published during the June 1997-June 1998 period.

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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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