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Developments in Brief : El Nino Appears to Be Taking a Year Off

April 27, 1986

The El Nino warm water current, which has severely hurt California's fishing industry in the past, is unlikely to return this year--but may do so next year, scientists now say.

Researchers had been alarmed since January when they first detected warm ocean water off the coast of Australia and interpreted it to be the first sign of a return of the El Nino.

But since then, the warm water has cooled and there have been no other signs to support the theory that an El Nino will occur this year, according to Richard Barber, a Duke University biological oceanographer.

"But the chances increase that the El Nino will come next year," he said, adding that this year may be better than average for fishermen because "pre-El Nino years are historically good."

The warm water current occurs every two to seven years as part of a larger climatic system that oscillates from one part of the Pacific to the other. It last occurred in 1982 and 1983, and severely harmed the state's fishing industry when salmon went farther north to cooler waters.

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