Monday, March 19, 2007

It's Ya Boy

Tale of the Tape:

Ya Boy
-Originates: San Fran
-Raps over the Imperial March from Star Wars
-Keeps Shit Hot
-Only person ever to be down with Stephon Marbury
-Came up in 2002
-Has a confusing-ass name

El Nino
-Originates: Indian Ocean
-Makes it Rain
-Keeps Shit Hot
-Will Fuck up your Fishery
-Comes up every couple of years, but never on the regular (like Cappadonna)
-Thinks Stephon Marbury is a complete piece of shit
-Gets accused of all sorts of shit he may or may not have done

El Nino (aka El Nino- Southern Oscillation or ENSO) is a pain in the ass, but an interesting one, if that makes any sense. The general public's short memory and scientific naivite (we are a nation petrified of doing our taxes for chrissakes) has been thrown through a loop by this year's warm winter in North America. El Nino, which has been a recent culprit for climate anomaly, has been implicated by many as a player in this year's steez. But is El Nino synonymous with global warming? If not, what is it? Does it fuck La Nina or is that it's sister, if yes, is that statutory? Does it hang out with Rick Rock?

El Nino is a force which warms winters in North America as westward trade winds weaken, allowing warm water to float eastward from New Guinea (where it is hot as fuck, according to Survivor). Waters in the tropics rotate counter-clockwise in the southern hemisphere and clockwise in the north like this diagram shows. El Nino has a bunch of strange effects on the Americas including playing havoc with fisheries off Peru, which used to be an extremely important source of fertilizer, various oils, guano and nasty canned fish for grandpas and Mediterranean people. El Nino happens cyclically but not quite regularly and it corresponds to the Southern Oscillation, which is a weather cycle that affects monsoons and other weather in South/Southeast Asia (read some history about it, but it is fucking confusing). La Nina is its opposite- La Nina is an abnormally cool easterly Pacific current, El Nino totally hit that. This University of Illinois site explains it pretty simply.

Like I've said a million times before- weather is not climate. 2006 is like a day in the long geological life of the earth. If you feel sick today, it's hard to say you've got AIDS, but if you are sick for a month, you might be in trouble. Unfortunately, news cycles and attention spans are 15 minutes at most, so this is a hard notion to get through to people- neither does it say that warming is not taking place, it's just good science. The El Nino signal is apparently not large enough to be entirely responsible for the record high temperatures of 2006, but it does have effects on seasonal climate. 1997-98 was certainly a more drastic year and stuck in people's memories. What seems to be going on is that El Nino and Warming Temperatures are interfering constructively, instead of destructively (picture two waves both moving in the same place at the same time, getting larger instead of clashing and breaking up- these waves are temperature).

So winter like "AYE!"

What weather can do is tip climate. For example, if your gutters are backing up, it's gonna take a good, hard rainstorm (No Bol) to blow the whole shit up...but that rainstorm in and of itself is not the cause of clogged gutters, they've been backing up over many many seasons. Penn State's Michael Mann breaks this down really well at as it relates to El Nino versus global climate in 2006. I mean, shit, the man made Heat, gotta listen. OK, no he didn't. Here's what he says about El Nino and climate change, and I figure this is a good way to end, because frankly, this is a complicated issue and I can't say it any better than the pros:
Another issue here involves the precise role of El Nino in climate change. El Nino has a profound influence on disparate regional weather phenomena. Witness for example the dramatic decrease in Atlantic tropical cyclones this most recent season relative to the previous one. This decrease can be attributed to the El Nino that developed over the crucial autumn season, which favored a strengthening of the upper level westerlies over the tropical North Atlantic, increased tropical Atlantic wind shear, and a consequently less favorable environment for tropical cyclogenesis.

If a particular seasonal anomaly appears to be related to El Nino, can we conclude that climate change played no role at all? Obviously not. It is possible, in fact probable, that climate change is actually influencing El Nino (e.g. favoring more frequent and larger El Nino events), although just how much is still very much an issue of active scientific debate. One of the key remaining puzzles in the science of climate change therefore involves figuring out just how El Nino itself might change in the future, a topic we're certain to discuss here again in the future.
Oh, by the way, El Nino and Rick Rock are tight.

[NOAA: ENSO Education Resources]
[RealClimate: El Nino and Anomalous Winter Warmth]

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