Scientists' Research Reports El Niño Affects Global Winds and Length of Day

Lexington, Mass., May 26, 1998--Dr. David Salstein, principal scientist and manager of General Circulation Diagnostics at Cambridge-based Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc. (AER) will report today that an important effect of El Niño on the Earth is to increase the overall winds substantially and that this effect can lengthen the day measurably. This finding is based on research Dr. Salstein and his collaborators have been gathering over more than 15 years. Dr. Salstein will report this finding at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) 1998 Spring Meeting, which begins today in Boston at the Hynes Convention Center.

This research shows how components of the Earth system work together. Warmer surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean during El Niño relate to differences in atmospheric pressure there, as well as to disturbed wind currents around the Earth. Increases in the overall speed of the wind are balanced by changes in the Earth's rotation rate so that our day is lengthened by almost a half a millisecond. Such Earth rotational effects are measured by sophisticated space-based methods.

Dr. Salstein and other scientists will be reporting their findings today, during a panel session at the AGU Spring Meeting. Salstein's report, entitled "The 1997-1998 El Niño and Atmospheric Angular Momentum," will be presented as part of the larger session he is chairing, entitled "The Impact of El Niño and Other Low-Frequency Signals on Earth Rotation and Global Earth System Parameters." This panel will include over a dozen reports from other scientists on global El Niño influences.

This is the AGU's first meeting in Boston. The AGU is a society of over 35,000 members with the purpose of advancing progress in the Earth, atmospheric, oceanic, hydrologic, and space and planetary science.

About AER:
Founded in 1977, Atmospheric and Environmental Research is an environmental research and consulting company. AER is an award-winning company with demonstrated expertise in remote sensing, satellite meteorology, numerical weather prediction, climatology, circulation diagnostics, atmospheric chemistry, air quality and risk assessment, mathematical modeling, planetary sciences, and system engineering. In addition to its Cambridge, MA headquarters, AER has offices in Bedford, MA; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco, CA; Hong Kong, and Beijing.


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