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Discovering How the North Atlantic Oscillation
Drives Climate Change

As atmospheric changes cause global warming to heat our planet, climates are influenced worldwide. The result is not just a blanket change in temperature. Instead, individual regions of the globe may be influenced by a variety of mechanisms with a variety of results. Exactly how climates of specific areas are affected and why they are changing are the research questions for many NCAR scientists. If we could better understand the mechanisms that are driving climate change on our globally warming planet, we could better predict how individual regions of the globe might be affected, where crops will grow, where floods may occur, and how animal and plant species are influenced.

NCAR scientist James Hurrell is using computer models to understand North Atlantic climate change by identifying the driving forces behind the North Atlantic Oscillation (or NAO), a pivotal force affecting the climate of the Eastern United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. Because of its climatic importance, the NAO is currently of great scientific interest and researchers such as Hurrell continue to advance our understanding of this intriguing phenomenon.