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Astronomy Talk: The 2015-16 El Niño: Wind on the Water and the Weather on Mauna Kea – Dr. Steven Businger

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In 2015, the global wind machine fired up record numbers of powerful hurricanes in the central Pacific, with several making close passes to the Island of Hawaii. Is it possible that the Island of Hawaii is protected from a direct hurricane impact by Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea? What does the historical record tell us? In 2016, the wind machine has brought drought conditions to Hawaii, record-breaking surf to the north shores, and even better than the usual excellent star-viewing conditions to Mauna Kea. Meanwhile global surface temperatures have spiked to record highs. Is there a link between these events? In this talk, Dr. Steven Businger, Director of the Mauna Kea Weather Center and Professor at University of Hawaii's Department of Atmospheric Sciences, explains varied observations in terms of the global wind machine forcing ocean currents that in turn help cause extreme weather events, and changing conditions for plants and astronomers on the island of Hawaii.