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From Extreme Experience to Climate Engine: The Satellite Story of El Niño
Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0866-0487
2015 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In the 1980s and 1990s a local weather phenomenon called El Niño acquired global fame as a part of the Southern Oscillation, the umbrella term for oceanic and atmospheric temperature cycles in the eastern tropical Pacific region. Today, El Niño is the reference and indicator of global climate change. This paper explores satellite oceanography as a critical science and technology in the process of turning El Niño from a local explanandum to an explanans of global environmental change. Satellite high-resolution infrared sea surface temperature measurements established new knowledge about the oceanic-atmospheric climate cycle, spatially and temporally, since the 1990s. In the practice of outbalancing problematic “top skin” data by breadth of areal coverage a synoptic picture emerged. El Niño no longer signified the sporadic, elusive and disruptive event but the regular world climate engine. The phenomenon changed from an anomaly to a normality that also gave rise to probing climate predictability.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
History of Technology
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-199421OAI: diva2:1062508
7th Tensions of Europe Conference, "Technology and Environment", Stockholm, September 3-6
Views from a Distance: Remote Sensing Technologies and the Perception of the Earth
Swedish Research Council, 2012-1134

QC 20170123

Available from: 2017-01-06 Created: 2017-01-06 Last updated: 2017-01-23Bibliographically approved

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