Michael McPhaden

Michael McPhaden.


Michael McPhaden is a Senior Scientist at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington.  His research focuses on large-scale tropical ocean dynamics, ocean-atmosphere interactions, and the ocean’s role in climate. 

He received a B.S. in Physics from SUNY at Buffalo in 1973 and a Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1980.  For more than 35 years he has been involved in developing ocean observing systems for climate research and forecasting, most notably the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) moored buoy array in the Pacific for studies of El Niño and the Southern Oscillation.

McPhaden is a Past President of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), an organization of over 60,000 Earth and space scientists from 140 countries. He has published nearly 300 articles in the refereed scientific literature and is one of the most highly cited authors on the topic of El Niño.  He is a Nansen medallist of the European Geosciences Union, a Sverdrup medallist of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and a fellow of the Oceanography Society, the AMS and the AGU.  For his contributions to assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with Al Gore and other IPCC participants.

Lecture Title: The 2015-16 El Niño and Climate Change

An El Niño of surprising intensity developed in 2015-16, affecting patterns of weather variability worldwide. The event rivaled the 1997-98 El Niño, the strongest on record, in its magnitude and impacts. El Niño-related drought, flooding, extreme weather, and wild fires affected far reaching parts of the globe in 2015-16, with consequences for agriculture, power generation, economic development, and human health. The 2015-16 El Niño also affected Pacific marine ecosystems and fisheries, most notably contributing to record coral bleaching event that affected approximately 40% of the world’s coral reefs. This presentation will describe the evolution of the 2015-16 El Niño, the physical mechanisms that gave rise to it, how it compared to previous El Niño events, and how well it was predicted by various forecasting centers. The question of whether anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing is having an effect on El Niño will also be addressed.

Thursday, June 14th, 2018 11:00am

Capen 107 (Honors College)