The ocean and its effect on the weather through El Niño will be the topic of the next presentation in the University of Delaware's Year of the Ocean Lunch and Lecture Series.
On April 16, Dr. 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 is comprised of 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.
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 Incorporated, a non-profit 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.
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 promises to shed light on this fascinating phenomenon and on U.S. efforts to improve its prediction.
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 of Delaware Graduate 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, located at the Hotel du Pont, includes lunch and will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Cost is $10 per person, and advance registration is required. To register, please call (302) 831-2841, or e-mail MarineCom@udel.edu.
The series will conclude on May 19, with the presentation "Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans" by Dr. Sylvia Earle, ocean explorer and author.