The Oceans and Weather; The Oceans; Scientific American Presents; by Webster, Curry; 6 Page(s)
In the hierarchy of unavoidables, weather is as inevitable as death and taxes. No matter where people live, they must think about it-whether they are checking the local news in England to see if they will need an umbrella, sowing seeds in anticipation of monsoon rains in India or rebuilding in the wake of a catastrophic hurricane in the U.S. When most people ponder the weather, they instinctively look to the sky. But the atmosphere does not determine the weather by itself. It has a less obvious but essential partner: the ocean.
One demonstration of this synergy has been quite obvious of late. The disastrous El Nino of the past year increased public awareness that many unusual events all over the globe-relentless series of storms, prolonged droughts, massive floods-were directly caused by changing conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean.