Question about coral bleaching and El Nino

Mark Eakin eakin at
Tue Nov 24 09:11:56 EST 1998

        Reply to:   RE>Question about coral bleaching and El Nino

El Nino does not follow calendar years.  If you recall the previous largest El Nino event, it was the 1982-83 El Nino.  This one is the 1997-98 El Nino.  

A major point is that the actual El Nino oceanic warming is only a part of the total phenomenon.  Better known as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, these are coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomena in which a combination of oceanic and atmospheric changes occur over a period lasting almost a year.  The changes result in climatic effects over much of the globe.  The coral bleaching we saw was related, but many of the mechanisms of the physical system are still unknown.

For more information, I recommend that she check out one of the many good web sites on the subject.  Ours is:


C. Mark Eakin, Ph.D.
NOAA/Global Programs, 1100 Wayne Ave., Suite 1210
Silver Spring, MD  USA  20910-5603
Voice: 301-427-2089 ext. 109              Fax: 301-427-2073
Internet: eakin at
Check out the La Nina at

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Date: 11/23/98 16:39
To: Mark Eakin
From: Pam Muller
A student in a science writing program called me the other day and asked
an interesting question:

"If coral bleaching is associated with high temperatures associated with 
El Nino, and 1997 was a major El Nino year, why did the corals bleach in

I said that the reports that I had followed seemed to indicate that the
temperatures were higher this year than last, but didn't know how to
explain that in the context of El Nino/Southern Oscillation.  

I told her to subscribe to the coral.list, so she will probably see your
response if anyone has specific insight into this question.


Pamela Hallock Muller
Department of Marine Science
University of South Florida
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701 USA
pmuller at
Phone: 727-553-1567
FAX: 727-553-1189 	NOTE NEW AREA CODE!!!

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