The Mediterranean connection: ecological effects of El Nio in the Northern hemisphere

06/10/04

The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the El Nio/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are being increasingly acknowledged as major climatic sources of ecological variability.

However, studies linking ecological processes to those oscillations have been conducted in geographic regions close to their centers of action, so their effects outside these areas are largely unknown. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, this is a priority research area facing global warming.

In a forthcoming issue of Ecology Letters, Pablo Almaraz and Juan A. Amat provide the first evidence of concurrent NAO and ENSO effects on the long-term dynamics of a natural population. Their study suggests that the spatial and numeric dynamics of the globally threatened White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) in Spain were simultaneously affected by different climatic phenomena during different phases of their cycles.

Strikingly, these results point to both the NAO and the ENSO as potentially major factors simultaneously forcing ecological processes in the Northern Hemisphere.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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