Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 19 Issue 04

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Volume 19, No. 4
Pages 114 - 122

Walker Circulation and Global Warming: Lessons from the Geologic Past

Ana Christina Ravelo
First Paragraph

Short-lived El Niño events are temporary changes in tropical Pacific conditions that are responsible for dramatic perturbations to “normal” tropical climate, such as drought in Indonesia and flooding on the Peruvian coast, and to global climate, such as warmer-than-average wintertime temperature in parts of North America and drier-than-average climate in Australia. A tremendous amount is known about the dynamics and driving forces of the El Niño phenomenon (Cane, 2005; Philander and Fedorov, 2003a), which is useful for the prediction of short-term interannual climate variability. Although modern El Niño events demonstrate the potential impact that the tropics have on global climate on any timescale, there is recognition that El Niño dynamics do not dictate long-term changes in tropical Pacific climate (Boccaletti et al., 2004; Fedorov and Philander, 2000; Liu and Yang, 2003) and that the factors determining long-term tropical conditions need to be constrained. As global warming occurs, is the mean state of the tropical Pacific likely to change, and will there be subsequent far-field effects like those that occur interannually due to El Niño events?


Ravelo, A.C. 2006. Walker circulation and global warming: Lessons from the geologic past. Oceanography 19(4):114–122, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2006.10.