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

By Stanley A. Changnon | Go to book overview

8
Summary
Surprises, Lessons Learned, and
the Legacy of El Niño 1997-1998

STANLEY A. CHANGNON, ROGER A. PIELKE JR., DAVID CHANGNON, & LEE WILKINS

Much has been said about El Niño 97-98, some of it profound and some not. Several of the key findings from this assessment are reflected in an excellent short summary published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in January 1999.

The 1997/ 1998 El Niño was probably the strongest in recorded history: it disrupted the lives of millions of people on all the Earth's inhabited continents. Not all climate extremes and severe weather events of the period, however, can be directly attributed to the El Niño event. Further, not all its impacts were negative, and some regions that were expected to suffer were not seriously affected. ( Obasi, 1999)

As the WMO found on a global scale, we have documented the profound impacts of El Niño 97-98 in the United States. But, perhaps contrary to conventional wisdom, the impacts in the United States were, in the aggregate, positive. Because El Niño shifted the geographical distribution of seasonal anomalies and because scientists were able to anticipate these shifts, many decision makers were able to profit from the early warnings to take compensatory actions. The accuracy of the predictions, and the successful use by decision makers of those predictions, offers the promise of the development of a more robust climate service in the United States. The remainder of this chapter summarizes the surprises, the lessons learned, and the legacy of El Niño 97-98.

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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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