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What Does It Mean to Be El Niño Ready?

1
Consortium for Capacity Building, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
2
Senior Climate Change Consultant, C4EcoSolutions, Capetown 7945, South Africa
3
Department of Anthropology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2018, 9(3), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos9030094
Received: 3 January 2018 / Revised: 4 March 2018 / Accepted: 5 March 2018 / Published: 7 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO))
Once an El Niño event has been forecast, government warnings and news headlines highlight the need for society to get ready for the potential impacts of the event, whether drought, flood, heatwave, disease outbreak, or water shortage. The notion of readiness for a climate-, water- or weather-related hazard or disaster is a fuzzy term, subject to a wide range of conflicting perceptions. Not every government sees El Niño as a direct threat to the wellbeing of its citizens. In this paper, we conceptualize readiness and identify reasons that some governments do not as well as cannot prepare for El Niño’s foreseeable consequences. Central among those reasons are its characteristics: quasi-periodicity, event variability, difficulties with onset forecasting, and the fact that El Niño and its “teleconnections” are influenced by numerous other oceanic and atmospheric oscillations. As a result, there is no universally accepted approach to or reliable measure of readiness. The concept is often discussed qualitatively in terms of “shades of readiness”, such as hardly ready, somewhat ready, almost ready, and absolutely ready. Although El Niño is still difficult to forecast, the existing knowledge about it can provide usable information for decision makers to choose whether to pursue strategic or tactical disaster risk reduction policies. View Full-Text
Keywords: El Niño; disaster risk reduction; readiness; teleconnections; lessons; disasters; satisfice; hurricane; NMHS El Niño; disaster risk reduction; readiness; teleconnections; lessons; disasters; satisfice; hurricane; NMHS
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Glantz, M.H.; Naranjo, L.; Baudoin, M.-A.; Ramírez, I.J. What Does It Mean to Be El Niño Ready? Atmosphere 2018, 9, 94.

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