Sunday talk in Port Townsend to focus on El Niņo, La Niņa seas

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Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — An ocean researcher who will talk Sunday about El Niņo and La Niņa is the first lecturer in a new Port Townsend Marine Science Center series about the health of the seas.

Michael McPhaden, senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, will present “El Niņo: The Boy Wonder of World Weather” at the chapel at Fort Worden at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5.

Admission will be $10 for the general public and $5 for marine science center members.

Students and teachers with identification will be admitted free of charge.

Janine Boire, executive director for the marine science center, said McPhaden is the “driving force behind the world’s largest scientific detector,” NOAA’s Tropical Atmosphere Ocean Project, an “array of deep-sea instrument moorings that span one-quarter of the Earth’s circumference.”

The system provides real-time data for detection, understanding and prediction of El Niņo and La Niņa.

El Niņo is characterized by unusually warm temperatures and La Niņa by unusually cool temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.

These two phenomena make up the strong year-to-year fluctuation of the climate system on the planet, including weather in the Pacific Northwest.

The lecture will describe what causes El Niņo and La Niņa, how they affect weather, how they are measured and predicted and how they may change in the future as concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increase.

McPhaden is also an affiliate professor at the University of Washington.

He is an author of some 300 scientific papers and recently served as president of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a 62,000-member body that represents many facets of oceanography and earth sciences.

“We’re honored to welcome a speaker and scientist of Dr. McPhaden’s caliber to launch our ‘The Future of Oceans’ lecture series,” Boire said.

The five lectures — set at Fort Worden the first Sunday of each month through March, except in January — will cover such topics as the tides and eddies in Puget Sound, what’s beneath the Salish Sea, Arctic images and ocean acidification.

The series is provided through the support of the Darrow family, the marine science center said.

For more information about McPhaden, visit

For more information about the marine science center, phone 360-385-5582, email or visit

Last modified: September 28. 2014 6:37PM
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