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El Niño Seen Through the Discerning Eye of UPMC Climatologists

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El Niño Seen Through the Discerning Eye of UPMC Climatologists

Eric Guilyardi is a researcher at the LOCEAN laboratory* and a specialist on El Niño, the climatic phenomenon that appears in the tropical Pacific every two to seven years. As the co-leader of an international working group on the subject, he directed an expert workshop as part of the conference Our Common Future Under Climate Change organized at UPMC from 7 to 10 July 2015.

What was the objective of this workshop?

Our goal was to advance knowledge on El Niño and understand its physics. We also wanted to establish the state of the art of the field, taking stock of existing common activities and propose joint avenues of research for the future. Moreover, since the last IPCC report, the community has achieved new results. We want the negotiators at COP 21 to have this information by year end.

How was the workshop organized?

We were fortunate to have fifty of El Niño experts from around the globe, who were mostly climatologists. The work revolved around presentation sessions where everyone had the time to ask questions and get deeply into the subjects, but also discussion sessions where we covered themes that were prepared ahead of the conference. Those we had programmed in advance gave us the opportunity to move forward in the evolution of El Niño and in its modeling and simulation, given the current context of global warming.

What are the effects of El Niño?

Its impact is global! The ocean is warming in the Eastern tropical Pacific, the trade winds weaken. Heavy rains then appear in regions that are the usually dry (such as Peru and Chile), causing major flooding. Conversely, Indonesia and Australia experience droughts. The price of food staples (e.g. rice) is also affected, since many producing countries are affected by these precipitation changes. Recent studies have shown more that global warming of 4 to 5 degrees Celsius will double the frequency of extreme events such as those of 1997-1998. We hope the December conference will lead to actions that will limit the devastating effects of this phenomenon.


* LOCEAN: Experimentation and Numerical Approaches to Oceanography and Climate Laboratory, (UPMC/CNRS/IRD/MNH/IPSL)

For more information:

L'interview filmée d'Eric Guilyardi (in French)Nouvelle fenêtre

For Africa, Adapting to Climate Change Must Be a Priority

Decisive Feedback on Our Future

Helping Decision-Makers to Choose Wisely

The conference site Our Common Future Under Climate ChangeNouvelle fenêtre





Photo Credits: Géraldine Bachmann - Communications Department, UPMC