Thursday, March 5, 2009

Apartment Climatologist

I have not been out much lately, so I have not been able to post observations of plants and animals. Instead, I have been inside reading papers on climate patterns in the western U.S. I am working on a presentation about climate change and southwestern birds for the Cooper Ornithological Society Conference in April and for several weeks my mind has been occupied with drought, El Nino, monsoons, and floods.

I find this climate work very interesting because of the complex relationships between ocean temperatures, winds, and our weather. For example, we now appear to be in a La Nina stage of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

This means that cooler Pacific Ocean temperatures have resulted in a cool, somewhat wet northwestern winter and a warm, dry southwestern winter.

This is the second La Nina event in two years, which seems abnormal because the ENSO cycle is supposed to last five to ten years. Throw in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and its interaction with ENSO and your brain will really start to hurt.

Anyway, that's what I've been thinking about lately.

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