|THE WRATH OF EL NIÑO|
October 3, 1997
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Questions answered in this forum:
Where does El Niño get its energy? Will this El Niño be the biggest in 150 years? How does the NWS model El Niño? Does El Niño have any positive effects? What factors determine the frequency of El Niño? Who will suffer the most from El Niño?
September 9, 1997
A NewsHour report on the heavy, choking smog enveloping Indonesia.
Browse the Online NewsHour's archive of weather, Asian, and environmental stories.
The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center page on El Niño.
Vivian Neely of Baton Rouge, LA, asks:
Are the results of the last great El Niño known? 150 years ago, is suggested as the last one this large. Is that fact or guesstimate? Where does that figure come from.
Dr. Robert E. Livezey of the National Weather Service responds:
Dear Ms. Neely,
Many oceanographers and climatologists like to point to 1982-83 as a "record" El Niño episode. In many respects (until now) it was the strongest either directly observed in the last 60 or so years or indirectly over the last 120 or so years. I'm not sure what the source for suggesting an event around 1850 was as strong or stronger than some of the modern ones. It would be difficult to confirm this because the lion's share of the evidence would be in the form of documentation of effects of El Niño and not the sea temperatures themselves.
Incidentally, in some respects that are of importance to how strongly El Niño effects North America,the 1982-83 episode has been exceeded a number of times in the last 30 years. I'm specifically referring to the sea surface temperatures in the central equatorial Pacific. These experience smaller increases during El Niños than the more impressive jumps much further to the east, but may actually have more of an impact on the global atmosphere.
How does the National Weather Service model El Niño?