El Niño and La Niña


La Niña Summit: Review of the Causes and Consequences of Cold Events

This event, convened by Glantz, was held in Boulder, Colorado, from 15-17 July 1998. The purpose for convening such a meeting was to identify what is known, what is not known, and what societies need to know about cold events in order to forecast their onset, growth, and decay several months in advance and to prepare for their societal impacts. (The terms La Niña and "cold event" are used interchangeably.) An executive summary of the deliberations and presentations of the participants went on-line in late September 1998 at ccb.ucar.edu/lanina/exec_summ.html. The full report will go on-line in mid-October 1998. Both reports are available in hard copy. The workshop was supported by the United Nations U (Tokyo), NCAR, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the NSF. The workshop was coordinated by an ESIG team led by D. Jan Stewart. Stewart was assisted by Baat Enosh (U Colorado-Boulder), Hanna Gilbert (U Colorado-Boulder), and Ben Rasmussen (Carleton College).

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La Niña, El Niño, and Atlantic Hurricane Damage

In 1998, Pielke contributed to a comprehensive review of Atlantic hurricane activity led by Christopher Landsea (NOAA/Hurricane Research Division) and two other authors. Pielke and Landsea also collaborated on a paper on El Niño/La Niña and hurricane damages, which has been submitted for publication.

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ENSO Impacts in Peru

Glantz continued work on the study entitled "Usable Science IV: The Use of Remote Sensing and Other ENSO-Related Information in Peru: A Prototype Study" (NASA/MTPE). Information on ENSO in Peru comes from various scientific and media sources, but there has been little research into whether or how this information is utilized in Peruvian decision-making processes. Remote-sensing information on ENSO is known in Peru, to physical scientists and to the fishing sector, but its impact on other sectors of society is less well-known. This study is working toward assessing the degree, as well as the strengths and weaknesses, of the use of ENSO information in four sectors in Peru, the country most directly affected by ENSO events. Glantz's collaborators on this study are Pablo Lagos (Instituto Geofisica del Peru) and a team of three other Peruvian scientists -- Manuel Flores (Instituto del Mar del Peru), Alfredo Valverde (Peru Hydropower), and Eduardo Franco (Intermediate Technology Development Group/Programa de Disastres del Peru). Alejandra Martinez (Instituto Geofisica del Peru) continued work to complete a review of references to El Niño in El Comercio del Peru, a Lima newspaper that has been published since 1839. In addition, Norma Ordinola (U Piura, Peru) participated in this project. The 1997-98 event has brought about major changes in the way Peruvian society is dealing with El Niño; Peru has been energized by the actions of President Fujimori to make preparations in order to mitigate the impacts of ENSO events. The study also briefly addresses the step-like change that took place in Peru with the onset of the 1997-98 El Niño event. The report became available at the end of FY98.

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ENSO Impacts in Southeast Asia

This work was stimulated by a workshop convened by Glantz in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in October 1995 on "ENSO and Extreme Events in Southeast Asia," under the sponsorship of UNEP and NCAR. During that meeting, there was discussion of the apparent strong linkages (based on preliminary and anecdotal information) between Mekong River flow and the occurrence of El Niño events. It was concluded that research was lacking on assessing either the reliability or the strength of this connection and that almost no research had been done on this particular teleconnection. In collaboration with Mikiyasu Nakayama (Utsunomiya U, Japan), Glantz has prepared two papers in a special issue of the UN/ESCAP (Economic Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) Water Resources Journal focused on ENSO and its impacts in Southeast Asia (with a particular focus on the Mekong River).

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El Niño Impacts and Pacific Rim Response Strategies

Glantz is in the process of seeking funding from various foundations for a collaborative NCAR/UNU/UNEP project that would bring together, in an ongoing, functional collaboration, individuals in science, local and national governments, nongovernmental organizations, agriculture, industry, labor, and finance from countries on all sides of the Pacific Rim. The purpose is to create and maintain new, working partnerships that build focused approaches to local and regional environmental sustainability and security issues affected by the ENSO phenomenon in its totality: the warm (El Niño), the cold (La Niña), and the normal phases. Pacific Rim countries, in particular, remain vulnerable to interannual climate variability and related weather extremes of the various ENSO phases. Although the more direct impacts (e.g., droughts, floods, fires) have received more attention, the less visible impacts on local and global commodities and trade, international aid, employment, and the human psyche have been less well-studied. This project proposal was developed to conduct research, study impacts, and ultimately to develop, share, and implement response strategies among leaders and citizens alike through capacity-building and "enabling" activities.

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Assessing the Use and Value of ENSO Information for Food Security in Southern Africa Development Community

Glantz, Betsill, and Kristine Crandall (U Arizona) completed their project examining the use and value of ENSO information for food security in the SADC region of Southern Africa during the 1991-1992 drought. The results are contained in a report entitled “Food Security in Southern Africa: Assessing the Use and Value of ENSO Information.” The project was funded by NOAA/OGP.

This research concludes that ENSO information existing at the time did not play a significant role in the national, regional, and international responses to the drought. Using the case-scenario method, the research finds that, in theory, the response to the drought could have been more timely and therefore more efficient and less costly if ENSO information had been widely available in early 1991. However, numerous social, economic, and political obstacles existed at the time that would have made it difficult for decision-makers to have used ENSO information effectively. In the final chapter, the authors note that many lessons were learned from the 1991-92 drought in Southern Africa that have enhanced the potential utility of ENSO information for regional food security.

Betsill, Glantz, and Crandall prepared an article based on the above report for the December 1997 issue of Environment. The article summarizes the findings of their research on the use of ENSO information during the 1991-92 Southern African drought. It also reviews responses to the onset of the 1997-98 ENSO event and concludes that much has been learned about the value of ENSO information for food security in Southern Africa.

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Comparative Study of the Use of 1997-98 ENSO Forecasts for Kenya, Peru, and Costa Rica

With reprogrammed support from NOAA/OGP, Glantz planned a study of when forecasts of the 1997-98 El Niño event were available to and received by national weather bureaus and passed on to relevant government agencies to assist them in developing appropriate response strategies. The study focuses on the uses of these forecasts in Peru ("ground zero" for El Niño), along with Costa Rica and Kenya. All three of these countries are known to be affected by El Niño to varying degrees, with the possibility of serious societal impacts. The ways in which forecasts were disseminated and put to use (or not) in these countries will be compared, and similarities and differences will be identified in order to improve, if necessary, forecast effectiveness in these countries. Each country had a forecast of a major El Niño at the same time (about June 1997) but reacted to it differently.

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Encarta CD-ROM Encyclopedia: Forecasting El Niño

At the request of the Microsoft Corporation, Glantz prepared a feature article for the Encarta Encyclopedia on "Forecasting El Niño." The article described the nature of the El Niño phenomenon, its global impacts, the history of interest in the phenomenon, advances in the science of forecasting, its relation to a possible global warming, and current ways of putting that information to use in creating appropriate response strategies.

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What We Know and Don't Know About El Niño

Glantz presented a discussion paper as a keynote speaker on this topic at the 25th Anniversary of the U Washington School of Marine Affairs in May 1998. He addressed the history of El Niño, starting in the 1500s and up to the present day, and the increased level of attention paid to the El Niño phenomenon as a result of public awareness of and media attention to the 1997-98 event. He identified "Seven Things that People Ought to Know about El Niño" (i.e., that it is not unusual, that it is part of a cycle, that not all weather anomalies in an El Niño year are caused by it, that it has a positive side, that surprises will continue to be associated with it, that its impact on global warming is not known, and that forecasting its impacts is different than forecasting the event itself), as well as "Seven El Niño Traps."

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Currents of Change: Revision/Update and Foreign Editions

Glantz authored this book, which was published in September 1996 by Cambridge U Press (UK). In light of the major 1997-98 ENSO event and of the societal responses to this event, Glantz began to develop revisions to the book for an updated edition, to be published in mid-FY99. The update will also include new scientific issues related to ENSO. During FY98, Glantz obtained rights from Cambridge for foreign translations of the book. The original book has now been translated into Japanese and Chinese (China and Taiwan). The book was translated into Spanish by the Chilean Navy in FY98 and printed by USAID for distribution in Latin America in FY99.

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