College of Fellows Distinguished Lecture Series Speaker

Michael McPhaden
Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, NOAA
United States of America
Primary Affiliation: Ocean Sciences

El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a naturally occurring year-to-year fluctuation of the climate system that is spawned in the tropical Pacific but which has societal and environmental impacts felt worldwide The ENSO cycle of warm El Niño and cold La Niña events is occurring today in the context of a climate system that is rapidly changing through human activities that have raised heat trapping greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to unprecedented levels.  The planet has warmed, and will continue to warm, raising questions about whether climate change has affected the ENSO cycle already, or whether it will in the future.

Michael McPhaden is a Senior Scientist at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington. His research focuses on large-scale tropical ocean dynamics, ocean-atmosphere interactions, and the ocean’s role in climate. He received a Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1980. For more than 35 years he has been involved in developing ocean observing systems for climate research and forecasting, most notably the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) moored buoy array in the Pacific for studies of El Niño and the Southern Oscillation.

McPhaden has published over 300 articles in the refereed scientific literature and is one of the most highly cited authors on the topic of El Niño. He is a Past President of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a Sverdrup Medalist of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), a Nansen Medalist of the European Geosciences Union, and a fellow of the AGU, AMS and The Oceanography Society. For his contributions to assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with Al Gore and other IPCC participants.