About this Research Topic
With its warm (El Niño) and cold (La Niña) phases and its strong connection with the atmosphere through the Southern Oscillation pressure system, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) represents the largest signal in the interannual ocean/climate variation. The term, El Niño (“the boy child”, used by Peruvian fishermen to describe a Christmas-time warming of the sea surface), was first considered a climatic phenomenon restricted to the coastal zone of the Eastern Pacific. However, in the last 50 years, scientists have described nearly global effects in weather conditions and biotic systems connected with the ENSO cycle, including changes in rainfall patterns, the occurrence of droughts and storms, the incidence of epidemic diseases, and changes in the structure and function of marine ecosystems. These changes often have severe impacts on the world and local economies. Although the ENSO cycle has been present at least since the late Pliocene as an inherent component of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system, and despite our improved capacity to forecast it, the depiction of El Niño as a “phenomenon” prevails in mass media and the society at large. This research topic focuses on the advances in understanding ENSO and its consequences, particularly in American countries.
Keywords: Climate variability, coastal ecosystems, emerging diseases, biological impacts, marine ecology
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