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CNN Today

El Nino May Return Next Year

Aired January 26, 2001 - 4:29 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: NASA scientists are using satellite images to create a virtual climate to help them better understand the complex interactions between the oceans, land and atmosphere. Now, this new computer model is already hinting at the return of one still puzzling climate phenomenon, yes: El Nino.

CNN's Natalie Pawelski on that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (VOICE-OVER): Four years ago, it caught the blame for washed-out roads in California, mud slides in Peru and drought in rain forests from Asia to Brazil. The culprit: El Nino, and NASA scientists say some version of El Nino may be coming back.

DAVID ADAMEC, NASA OCEANOGRAPHER: For next summer, this model is saying that, you know, you've got a good shot at a moderate warming trend in the Pacific Ocean that is just under El Nino and saying we've got to keep a very close eye on it.

PAWELSKI: The model he's talking about: NASA's latest forecasting tool: a virtual climate. It starts with worldwide satellite observations and other information on earth's oceans, land masses and atmosphere, fed into an elaborate supercomputer program.

ADAMEC: If you ran it on the most powerful PC you could buy, as opposed to the system we run, our system takes a day to finish that simulation; that PC would take 2 1/2 years.

PAWELSKI: NASA is hoping its virtual climate will help forecasters make better predictions and issue earlier, more accurate warnings so people can be better prepared for whatever the weather may bring.

Natalie Pawelski, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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