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September/October 2008: In This Issue

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Weather Front: An Early El Niño

Spanish explorer  Ferdinand Magellan’s legendary circumnavigation of the globe from 1519-1520 might have been made possible by an El Niño weather pattern that gave him calm waters to sail across the Pacific Ocean, according to anthropologists Scott M. Fitzpatrick of North Carolina State University and Richard Callaghan of the University of Calgary, Canada.

Magellan had set sail from Spain in 1519 intending to find the Spice Islands, now the Maluku Islands in Indonesia. Instead, 2 years later, he landed 1,500 miles north of there, in Guam.

While looking at early exploration trips, the two researchers thought it was interesting that Magellan ended up so far north of his original destination, which he knew was located along the equator.

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