BOSTON — People living around the Indian Ocean don't need El Nio to whipsaw their weather. Scientists have found the ocean has its own climatic beat. This may help forecasters warn of droughts or floods, in the Indian Ocean region, the researchers say. Peter J. Webster at the University of Colorado in Boulder looked at the 1997-98 abnormal winds, rain, sea-surface temperatures and sea-surface heights around the Indian Ocean. They compared their findings with 40 years of climate data. Although El Nio was strong in 1997 and 1998, they find the Indian Ocean was doing its own thing. By understanding El Nio's mode of waxing and waning, scientists have developed techniques to forecast "El Nio weather." Writing Sept. 23 in Nature, the Colorado team concludes: "There may be a similar potential for predictability of climate in the Indian Ocean region."
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