Year of Ocean lecture to focus on El Niño, weather
Vol. 17, No. 26April 2, 1998

Year of Ocean lecture to focus on El Niño, weather

The ocean and its effect on the weather through El Niño will be the topic of the next presentation in the University's Year of the Ocean Lunch and Lecture Series at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington.

On Thursday, April 16, D. James Baker will present "The Oceans, the Weather and El Niño." Baker is the under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the U.S. Department of Commerce. NOAA includes the National Weather Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service and the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

The program includes lunch and will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Cost is $10 per person, and advance registration is required. To register, call 831-2841, or e-mail

El Niño, the subject of Baker's lecture, is an extremely powerful weather phenomenon that occurs every four to six years. Spurred by unusually warm currents in the Pacific, El Niño is a complex of ocean and atmospheric changes that causes disruption in normal weather patterns.

El Niño has been blamed for floods, droughts and both severe and unseasonably mild weather around the world. The wrath of the current El Niño, considered to be the strongest in 150 years, is still not completely tallied. Baker's lecture will shed light on this phenomenon and on U.S. efforts to improve its prediction.

Baker holds a doctorate in physics from Cornell University and a bachelor's degree in physics from Stanford University.

He has served as president of Joint Oceanographic Institutions Inc., a nonprofit corporation that represents the 10 largest U.S. academic oceanographic programs ranging from deep-sea drilling to global ocean ecosystems.

In addition, Baker developed the concept and initiated the formation of the Council on Ocean Affairs, an organization that represents 55 institutions and provides information on coastal and global ocean issues.

He is a former member of the Council of the American Meteorological Society and was co-founder and first dean of the College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.

To focus global attention on the importance of the ocean and its sustainability, the United Nations proclaimed 1998 the Year of the Ocean.

In commemoration of this special year, the University's College of Marine Studies and Sea Grant College Program are sponsoring the Year of the Ocean Lunch and Lecture Series in Wilmington. The lecture series features renowned ocean scientists sharing their research on marine topics.

The series concludes on May 19, with the presentation "Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans" by Sylvia Earle, ocean explorer and author.