Florida's Agriculture and Climatic Variability: Reducing Vulnerability


  • David Letson
  • James W Hansen
  • Peter E Hildebrand
  • James W Jones
  • James J O'Brien
  • Guillermo P Podestá
  • Frederick S Royce
  • David F Zierden


A remarkable scientific breakthrough has important financial implications for Florida’s ,agriculture. Meteorologists can now forecast El Niño and its opposite, La Niña, months in advance by monitoring the Pacific Ocean west of Peru. The tropical Pacific atmospheric-oceanic phenomenon known as ENSO (EI Niño Southern Oscillation) is a variation between normal conditions and two extreme states associated with warm or cold sea surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific. ENSO has profound effects on global atmospheric circulation, resulting in regional shifts of temperature and precipitation on a seasonal to inter-annual time scale (Trenberth 1997). In Florida the most recent EI Niño event two years ago created property losses of $500 million and spawned tornadoes that led to more than 100 deaths (Changnon 2000).