Seismic predictors of El Ni˜o revisited


  • Daniel A. Walker

    1. University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822 USA
    Search for more papers by this author


With the termination in 1998 of the most publicized El Niño in history, it may be appropriate to consider whether El Niños have a discrete triggering mechanism or whether they occur merely as the result of episodic conditions in the atmosphere and ocean. This is an important consideration because the discovery and understanding of a discrete mechanism could lead to predictions that are more reliable than those based only on secondary interactions.

Thus far, most Earth scientists agree that a discrete trigger for El Niños has not been found and is unlikely, and that differing atmospheric and oceanic parameters must be considered if there are to be reliable predictions of future El Niños. Contrary to these opinions, the process that triggers episodic seafloor spreading and higher than normal levels of reported seismic activity along portions of the East Pacific Rise (EPR) may also trigger El Niños.