EL NIO : Predicting

Every 3-5 years, the world’s weather patterns undergo a major change that we now call El Nino. Although we know that part of what generates El Nino is the movement of large volumes of warm water in the Western Pacific Ocean, scientists are still searching for ways to predict the occurrence of this phenomenon. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

Bob Weller is a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

“One of the things that this year’s El Nino makes us very aware of is how sensitive changes in climate and weather are to changes in the temperature in the Eastern tropical Pacific. The warm water there during this El Nino has had profound influences on our weather. Now the way the ocean influences the atmosphere is through the exchange of heat and moisture. Unfortunately, this region of the world is also a region where very little is known quantitatively about how heat and moisture are exchanged. Our project is largely devoted to an effort to install very accurate instrumentation in that region to make very accurate measurements of the exchange of heat and moisture and fresh water between the ocean and the atmosphere there. If we can do that, we can build toward a much better understanding of the influence on weather and climate of the Eastern tropical Pacific.”

To get a sense of the importance of this region to the world’s climate, consider this – If you cooled the upper ten feet of the ocean by one degree, took that heat and put it into the atmosphere, you could heat the atmosphere from the surface of the ocean to outer space by one degree. Well during an El Nino year, this vast expanse of the Eastern Pacific is five degrees warmer than it usually is and that’s enough heat energy to influence world climate.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.

EL NIO : Predicting

Although scientists know what phenomena generate an El Nio event, they are still searching for ways to predict its occurrence.
Air Date:04/09/1998
Scientist:
Transcript:

Every 3-5 years, the world's weather patterns undergo a major change that we now call El Nino. Although we know that part of what generates El Nino is the movement of large volumes of warm water in the Western Pacific Ocean, scientists are still searching for ways to predict the occurrence of this phenomenon. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

Bob Weller is a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

"One of the things that this year's El Nino makes us very aware of is how sensitive changes in climate and weather are to changes in the temperature in the Eastern tropical Pacific. The warm water there during this El Nino has had profound influences on our weather. Now the way the ocean influences the atmosphere is through the exchange of heat and moisture. Unfortunately, this region of the world is also a region where very little is known quantitatively about how heat and moisture are exchanged. Our project is largely devoted to an effort to install very accurate instrumentation in that region to make very accurate measurements of the exchange of heat and moisture and fresh water between the ocean and the atmosphere there. If we can do that, we can build toward a much better understanding of the influence on weather and climate of the Eastern tropical Pacific."

To get a sense of the importance of this region to the world's climate, consider this - If you cooled the upper ten feet of the ocean by one degree, took that heat and put it into the atmosphere, you could heat the atmosphere from the surface of the ocean to outer space by one degree. Well during an El Nino year, this vast expanse of the Eastern Pacific is five degrees warmer than it usually is and that's enough heat energy to influence world climate.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I'm Jim Metzner.