Conference explores El Ni˜o's relationship to the northeast Pacific



Dramatic shifts in extratropical Pacific conditions in early 1997 appeared to precede the development of the 1997–1998 equatorial Pacific El Niño, researchers at last fall's Eastern Pacific Ocean Conference (EPOC) reported. Evidence indicated, however, that anomalous ocean conditions observed in the northeast Pacific were largely the result of anomalous regional atmospheric forcing rather than tropical El Niño signals.

Some model results suggested that unusual conditions in the tropics generated planetary waves capable of propagating strong sea surface height anomalies up the North American west coast, but the observations were ambiguous. Coastal sea level appeared to contain a Kelvin wave signal during the El Niño, but it is not certain whether equatorial Kelvin waves or midlatitude wind events were their source.