NOAA's Participation in WSSD — El Niño Applications|
An El Niño is an abnormal warming of the ocean temperatures across the eastern tropical Pacific that affects weather around the globe, and is the oceanic component of a more general ocean-atmosphere oscillatory phenomenon called El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). El Niño is characterized by changes in sea surface temperature associated with the eastward displacement of the Pacific warm pool and the disappearance of the equatorial and coastal upwellings of cold, nutrient rich waters. Because the oceanic temperatures in the tropical eastern Pacific control seasonal climate (and related economic) fluctuations worldwide, NOAA is committed to providing accurate long lead prediction of El Niño and subsequent La Niña events.
By analyzing the large-scale changes in sea surface temperature patterns provided by satellites and the buoys in the ocean, NOAA scientists have been able to study the onset, intensity and duration of specific El Niño events. In fact, NOAA's El Niño forecasts have become much more reliable in recent years. The new Operational Climate Forecast System at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, in collaboration with other NOAA research partners, provides NOAA and the world a means for developing longer lead-time strategies to deal with expected impacts, including economic impacts. For example, NOAA successfully predicted the major El Niño of 1997-1998—six months in advance—and is now forecasting a weak to moderate El Niño event to continue through winter 2002-2003.
Publication of the
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Last Updated: 8/21/02