Jan. 29, 1998 This week, NOVA/PBS Online Adventures return with a Web site dedicated to one of the most important weather events of our lifetime: El Niño. (Web address: http://www.pbs.org/nova/elnino.) "Tracking El Niño" will take NOVA's Internet audience on a series of adventures, along the way attempting to unravel the scientific mysteries underlying this powerful weather phenomenon.
El Niño has generated intense media coverage and huge popular interest, and for good reason—El Niño transforms the entire planet into a weather laboratory, and reveals the heart of the "machine" that generates the Earth's weather. It has been heralded by many as the century's biggest weather event, and the worst could be yet to come.
The NOVA/PBS ONLINE "Tracking El Niño" site will be the Web's complete guide to El Niño. Beyond news and insightful articles, the site will create a personal weather laboratory for users called "Weather Station," which will feed real-time data from the field to an onscreen panel of virtual instruments modeled after those used by weather scientists. Round-the-clock Webcams, situated at key locations including the ocean view from Maui Hawaii, Mazatlan in Mexico, and Reñaca Beach in Chile, will let users watch as storms roll in. Up-to-the-minute animations (supplied by NOAA--National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) will let users visualize El Niño, instead of just reading about it.
The NOVA/PBS ONLINE site will also act as a learning lab, recreating the conditions and experiences of discovery in the field. For example, users can engage in a search for evidence of past El Niños, just as scientists in the field do, by looking at tree-ring samples from the California Sierra, or x-rays of a coral sample from the Galapagos. Web surfers can ride into an El Niño storm off the coast of California, and fly the jet stream from Alaska to Hawaii. To further personalize the experience, NOVA will post reports from the field by its own Web reporter, equipped with a digital camera, notebook computer, and satellite phone.
Sometime next summer, El Niño will retreat, setting the stage for a return, the date of which is uncertain. With this Web site, however, NOVA will offer its online viewers something of lasting significance: a chance to experiment and learn in one of the grandest weather laboratories of all time, side-by-side with scientists who are still struggling to understand what drives El Niño.
NOVA Online (http://www.pbs.org/nova) provides a companion Web site for each week's NOVA broadcast, program schedules, teacher guides, audience feedback, and links to related sites. In addition, NOVA Online joins with PBS to bring you images and reports from live expeditions around the globe. NOVA Online appears on PBS ONLINE (http://www.pbs.org).
PBS ONLINE, PBS's award-winning site on the World Wide Web, produces high-quality Web programming as it pioneers the digital convergence of television and the Internet. PBS ONLINE features more than 40,000 pages of content as well as companion Web sites for nearly 100 PBS programs and specials.
PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations. A trusted community resource, PBS uses the power of non-commercial television, the Internet and other media to enrich the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services that inform, inspire and delight. Available to 99 percent of American homes with televisions and to an increasing number of digital multimedia households, PBS serves nearly 100 million people each week.
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