Monash University climate scientists contribute to new authoritative book on El Niño

Landmark new book takes a comprehensive look at El Niño and its impacts.

Monash University climate scientists have contributed to a new landmark book that takes the most comprehensive look to date at El Niño and its impacts.

El Niño Southern Oscillation in a Changing Climate is written by the research community and presents the latest theories, models, observations, and challenges of understanding and forecasting ENSO as the climate continues to change.

Launched today by publishers Wiley Press and compiled by the American Geophysical Union, the book is authored by 98 ENSO experts, and contains 21 chapters that detail ENSO characteristics, dynamics and response to external forcing, as they are currently known.

ARC Future Fellow Dr Shayne McGregor and Associate Professor Dietmar Dommenget, both from the Monash University School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment are among the 98 international experts who have contributed to the text.

“This is a unique book because each of its chapters are written by a group of world renowned topic experts,” Dr McGregor said.

“This book is also provides the first comprehensive examination of all aspects of ENSO, its climatic and ecosystem impacts, and its past and projected future changes,” he said.

Dr McGregor led the chapter team, consisting of six authors, that describe the impact of explosive volcanic events on the El Nino-Southern Oscillation.

The observational record suggests that large tropical volcanic events co-occur with El Niño events.

In the chapter led by Dr McGregor the contributors present a detailed review of this relationship in paleo-climatic proxies of the past and climate model simulations along with our understanding of its physical drivers.

The book covers the latest theories, models, and observations, and explores the challenges of forecasting ENSO as the climate continues to change.

It was initiated in the wake of the intense El Niño of 2015-16 that left a wide swath of destruction across the globe and addresses whether such extreme events are likely to increase in the future.

Highlights of the book include the historical development of ideas about ENSO, a description of the underlying physical processes that generate ENSO variations, and how ENSO varies on decadal and longer time scales.

Several chapters cover the impacts of ENSO on extreme events, fisheries, marine ecosystems, and the global carbon cycle.

Advances in modelling, paleo-reconstructions, and operational climate forecasting are described as is the latest science on how ENSO responds to external factors such as forcing from outside the tropical Pacific, volcanic eruptions, and anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing.

The book argues that because it is so consequential, sustained and coordinated international efforts are needed to better observe, understand and predict ENSO and its effects on human and natural systems.

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