Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

Robert Burgman

First Advisor's Committee Title

Assistant Professor


El Niño, Atmospheric Sciences, Earth and Environment, Climate, Central Pacific El Niño, Peter Washam, Robert Burgman

Date of Defense



Recent research indicates that characteristics of El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO) have changed over the past several decades. Here, I examined different flavors of El Niño in the observational record and the recent changes in the character of El Niño events. The fundamental physical processes that drive ENSO were described and the Eastern Pacific (EP) and Central Pacific (CP) types or flavors of El Niño were defined. Using metrics from the peer-reviewed literature, I examined several historical data sets to interpret El Niño behavior from 1950-2010. A Monte Carlo Simulation was then applied to output from coupled model simulations to test the statistical significance of recent observations surrounding EP and CP El Niño. Results suggested that EP and CP El Niño had been occurring in a similar fashion over the past 60 years with natural variability, but no significant increase in CP El Niño behavior.





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