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

By Stanley A. Changnon | Go to book overview
The second major disagreement was among scientists and centered around which weather conditions and storm events of the October 1997-May 1998 period were totally, partially, or not at all the result of El Niño's influence on the atmosphere. Debates and controversies were particularly common in the media's presentations of explanations for the causes of many tornadoes. This situation was compounded by the media's tendency to blame everything that happened with the weather on El Niño.A third confusing issue centered around whether El Niño 97-98 and its record size were tied to global warming. Widely different views came from scientists. administrators, and the White House. The debate became engulfed in the larger national scientific-economic-political controversy over global warming and what to do about it.The fourth area of major scientific disagreement centered around the widely different impacts foreseen as part of the varying climate predictions being issued. This especially affected predictions of conditions for the 1998 growing season and the possible ramifications for agricultural production that year. The debate resulted from the wide differences in the model predictions, which suggested a continuing El Niño, a return to normal condition, or a sudden development of La Niña conditions in 1998. However, even when the predictions being issued for the 1997-1998 winter conditions were all in agreement, widely different impact predictions were issued by a wide variety of sources, a reflection of the general lack of understanding of how the weather affects the nation's complex societal and economic systems.
APPENDIX
The institutions and individuals issuing predictions of climate conditions in the U.S. and/or impacts from predicted climate conditions, based on El Niño 97-98.
Foreign countries and international organizations
World Meterological Organization (WMO)
Argentine Weather Bureau
Australia Bureau of Meterology
Environment Canada
Thailand Meterological Department
University of British Columbia, Canada
University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Federal agencies
Department of Commerce/ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Climate Prediction Center of National Weather Service
Pacific Marine Experimental Laboratory (PMEL) and its TAO Group
Secretary of Commerce and NOAA Administrator
Office of Global Programs
Climate Diagnostics Center at CIRES

-103-

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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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