A National Research Council (NRC) committee has laid the foundation for a coordinated, decade-long study of the ocean-atmosphere interactions associated with the El Niño and the Southern Oscillation. The plan describes itself as intended to “serve as a mechanism for engendering a vigorous international program required to address the global problem.”
The Southern Oscillation (SO) is a recurrent seesawing of atmospheric mass between the Pacific and Indian oceans in the tropics and subtropics that plays havoc with the global climate by changing wind, temperature, and rainfall in the monsoon regions, the central and western equatorial Pacific, and throughout the tropics. The El Niño (EN), a related phenomemon, is an anomalous, periodic warming of the waters off South America that in turn affects atmospheric circulation patterns, producing erratic weather patterns. Together, the phenomena are known as ENSO.