Dr. Mark A. Cane


G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University

Presenting Lectures:
“The Prime Mover for Abrupt Climate Change: 1. Could It Be the North Atlantic?”
Date: August 20, 2002

“The Prime Mover for Abrupt Climate Change: 2. Could It Be the Tropics?”
Date: August 22, 2002


With Lamont colleague Dr. Stephen Zebiak, Mark devised the first numerical model able to simulate El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a pattern of interannual climate variability centered in the tropical Pacific but with global consequences. In 1985 this model was used to make the first physically based forecasts of El Niño. Over the years the Zebiak-Cane model has been the primary tool used by many investigators to enhance understanding of ENSO. Dr. Cane has also worked extensively on the impact of El Niño on human activity, especially agriculture. His 1994 paper showing the strong effect that El Niño has on the maize crop in Zimbabwe has been influential in prompting decision makers to factor climate variability into their deliberations. His efforts over many years were instrumental in the creation of the International Research Institute for Seasonal to Interannual Climate Prediction. He has served on numerous international and national committees. In 1992 Dr. Cane received the Sverdrup Gold Medal of the American Meteorological Society. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the American Geophysical Union, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His current research is focused on the variations in the paleoclimate record, especially abrupt changes, and on the impact of climate variability on human activities, especially agriculture and health. Cane's nearly 200 publications include "Experimental forecasts of El Niño," Nature (1986, with S.E. Zebiak and S. Dolan); "Forecasting Maize Yield in Zimbabwe with Eastern Equatorial Pacific Sea Surface Temperature," Nature (1994, with G. Eshel, R.W. Buckland); ); "Controlling spatiotemporal chaos in a realistic El Niño prediction model," Physical Review Letters, (1998, with E. Tziperman, H. Scher, S.E. Zebiak); "Orbital controls on tropical climate," Paleoceanography (1999,with A. Clement, R. Seager); and "Forecasting Andean rainfall and crop yield from the influence of El Niño on Pleiades visibility," Nature, (2000, with B.S. Orlove and J.C.H. Chiang).