On the Cutting Edge - Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
Developing Student Understanding of Complex Systems in the Geosciences
AGU Fall 2010
Cutting Edge > Complex Systems > AGU Modeling Workshop 2010 > Modeling Exercise Ideas > ENSO in a warming climate

This is a partially developed activity description. It is included in the collection because it contains ideas useful for teaching even though it is incomplete.

ENSO in a warming climate

Mathieu Richaud, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Fresno State University

Topic: ENSO, warming climate, climate change
Course type: Introductory undergraduate course


First, I would like to model ENSO using the flow of water/heat produced by the internal Kelvin and Rossby waves traveling through the Pacific Ocean. Second, I would like to be able to predict its long-term change over hundreds of years as the climate warms (i.e., more El Nino-like or more La Nina-like?).

Learning Goals or Outcomes

1) Full grasp of the concept of ENSO being a coupled atmosphere-ocean system, where the ocean and the atmosphere influence each other.
2) Full understanding of the feedback concept.
3) Better understanding of what numerical models are and can be used to understanding climatic events.

How would you assess whether those goals have been met?

Assessment by writing a summary paper of the model building and of the results.


Cane, Mark. Climate System Modeling: "Tropical Pacific ENSO models: ENSO as a mode of the coupled system", Cambridge University Press, NY, NY, 1992.

Philander, George. El Nino, La Nina, and the Southern Oscillation, Volume 46, International Geophysics, Academic Press, 1989.

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