A climate model developed by ISGlobal provides long-term predictions of ‘El Niño’ events

Although a number of functional climate designs are capable of forecasting El Niño events, they cannot carry out long-term anticipates over half a year beforehand. Now, a group from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an organization supported by “la Caixa”, has developed a brand-new analytical climate model able for the very first time to anticipate El Niño episodes as much as two-and-a-half years beforehand.

The El Niño Southern Oscilation (ENSO) is a climate phenomenon that represents a variation of climatic and oceanic functions over the equatorial Pacific. It happens every 2-7 years, however has an irregular periodicity. It consists of 2 opposite stages: a warming of the sea-surface temperature level in the eastern and main equatorial Pacific Ocean called El Niño, and an opposite cooling stage called La Niña. ENSO can trigger severe weather condition events in numerous areas of the world through climatic teleconnections, and for that reason, it has extremely crucial ramifications for the worldwide seasonal climate predictions.

The research study, released in the Journal of Climate, utilizes a series of predictor variables consisting of sea temperature levels at various depths, along with winds in the tropical Pacific, in a versatile analytical vibrant parts model to make retrospective predictions of ENSO events in between 1970 and 2016. The model is capable of forecasting all the significant El Niño episodes that took place within that duration, consisting of the severe occasion of 2015-2016, as much as two-and-a-half years beforehand.

The computational tool developed in this research study is an enhanced variation of an analytical vibrant parts model currently proposed 2 years ago by the exact same ISGlobal scientists. Desislava Petrova, very first author of the 2 research studies, states that this is an essential advance in the location of climate sciences and ENSO research study.

“The analysis shows that the events can be predicted with much more precision since the launching of the Tropical Pacific Observing System (TPOS), which provides better data quality and coverage, also of the subsurface ocean” describes Petrova. “This allows us to make long-term forecasts of this climate phenomenon at a relatively low computational cost,” she includes.

ICREA Professor Xavier Rodó, research study planner and director of the Climate and Health Programme at ISGlobal mentions that other analytical designs ought to be enhanced by “using available data from under the sea surface, which are key to predicting El Niño-Southern Oscillation events”. “This could provide early and useful information about El Niño and La Niña to decision makers around the world, which could prevent threats to human lives and reduce thousands of millions of dollars in economic costs”, he comments.



Desislava Petrova, Joan Ballester, Siem Jan Koopman, Xavier Rodó. Multi-year analytical forecast of ENSO improved by the Tropical Pacific Observing System. Journal of Climate, October 2019. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0877.1

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