National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2006

El Niño and Ocean Observations: A personal history

McPhaden, M.J.

Chapter 6 in Physical Oceanography, Developments Since 1950, M. Jochum and R. Murtugudde (eds.), Springer, New York, 79–99 (2006)


This article presents a brief personal account of my involvement in tropical ocean studies and observing system development over the past 30 years. The purpose is to provide perspective on the process of conducting scientific research against the backdrop of community wide efforts to better describe, understand, and predict El Niño. Failures as well as successes are highlighted to illustrate how unexpected events, blind alleys and supportive colleagues can shape a career. The most significant lesson from this experience is that systematic long-term observations are of fundamental importance to advancing our knowledge of the oceans and their role in regulating climate variability.

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