State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

International Conference on El Niño, Nov. 17-18

One of the strongest El Niño events ever measured is now underway. It is already causing droughts and flooding in different parts of the world, and affecting food production, water availability, public health and energy supplies in a number of countries.

Visit the event page to watch a live stream starting Nov. 17. Follow #ElNinoConf on Twitter for updates.

The last major El Niño occurred in 1997-98, wreaking widespread havoc and erasing years of development gains. The world is much better prepared for this year’s El Niño, but the socio-economic shocks will still be profound.

El Niño. NOAA
A streak of warmer water stretching west from the Pacific coast of South America is emblematic of El Niño. Image: NOAA

To increase scientific understanding of this event and help boost resilience, a high-level El Niño conference will take place on Nov. 17 and 18. It is jointly organized by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, the World Meteorological Organization, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The conference will:

  • Provide an overview of the 2015 El Niño and its potential impacts
  • Explore the connection between the current El Niño and global change
  • Foster dialogue between climate scientists and development practitioners to strengthen action for climate resilience and sustainable development
  • Examine the progress, and lessons learned, over the last 20 years in international, national and regional climate services, with a focus on El Niño

Latest El Niño Forecast
Malaria and El Niño in East Africa
IRI’s El Niño Resources Page

Confirmed speakers include Jerry Lengoasa, World Meteorological Organization deputy secretary-general; Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute; and Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University. Senior experts from meteorological services and research institutes around the world will present national case studies about the current El Niño, and representatives of development agencies, academia and the private sector will lead discussions on the impacts on health, water, disaster management, energy, and agriculture and food security.

They will discuss issues such as lessons learned since the 1997-98 event, connecting research to operational communities, and defining adequate and appropriate El Niño response strategies and public messaging. They will also help define future priorities for enhancing climate resilience and sustainable development.

The conference takes place at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory campus in Palisades, N.Y.

The event is invitation-only, but will be live streamed, and Twitter users can get updates in real time by following the #ElNinoConf hashtag.

For more information or an invitation for the event, send a paragraph mentioning your affiliation and interest to Dannie Dinh at

Details and a full agenda are available at

Journalists interested in attending should contact Francesco Fiondella via email: Space is extremely limited.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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