5 thoughts on “ENSO Update

    • Rattus Norvegicus: One would think that modelers could get the peak month for El Nino events right, since they historically peak in Nov-Dec-Jan, but as you can see in the following IRI forecasts graph, some models even miss that. Also note that the strength of the 2009/10 El Nino was more than 3 times the model average from May 2009.

      [So El Niño is supposed to be metronomic? In your linked graphic the “statistical” models seem to be the main source of divergence, while the “dynamic” models do much better. Your point seems to be just another way of unrealistically accusing climate modeling of bein “imperfect”. – Ben]

      The forecast graph is from the NOAA NWS ENSO Diagnostic Discussion Archive for June 2009:

  1. Ben, thanks for replying.

    You wrote, “So El Niño is supposed to be metronomic?”

    I did not write or imply that. ENSO events are quasi-periodic. However, during El Nino years, SST anomalies typically peak in November, December, or January. The following graph illustrates the average SST anomalies (ONI data) by month during the El Nino events from 1951 to 2007, starting in July of the development year through June of the following (decay) year. The average El Nino peaks in December. This is the basis for that portion of my comment.

    Of the 17 El Nino events from 1951 to 2007 (assumes 1986/87/88 El Nino is one event and it excludes the incomplete 2009/10 El Nino which peaked in December 2009, BTW), there are three El Nino events that do not peak during the months of November, December, or January. The multiyear 1986/87/88 El Nino was an anomalous event in its length and variability. The January and February ONI SST anomalies for the 1968/69 El Nino were the same at 1.0 deg C. And the SST anomalies for the 1951/52 El Nino peaked in October. However, looking at maps of ICOADS SST anomaly data (the basis for the Hadley Centre and NCDC’s SST data) for the tropical Pacific for October through December 1951 and January 1952…

    …we can see that there were few to no SST readings during those months in the NINO3.4 region (and most of the tropical Pacific for that matter), so the 1951/52 El Nino data is suspect.

    But, even with those exceptions, the typical El Nino event peaks in November, December, or January, with the average event peaking in December.

    You continued, “In your linked graphic the ‘statistical’ models seem to be the main source of divergence, while the ‘dynamic’ models do much better”.

    The average of the dynamic models for January is approximately 0.96 deg C, but the El Nino actually peaked at 1.8 deg C. While the dynamic models are better, they still missed the mark by a considerable amount.

    You ended with, “Your point seems to be just another way of unrealistically accusing climate modeling of bein ‘imperfect’.

    Your assumption is incorrect. My comment was solely about the models used for El Nino predictions.

    • Your reply here was sort of like the old joke about Microsoft tech support. You know the one where a guy is flying in a cloud and comes close to skyscraper. He sees a guy in a window and asks where he is. A reply comes back, you’re lost in a cloud. He turns to course 175 and lands at the Redmond airport. His passenger asks how did he know where the airport was? The answer: everything he was told was correct but of no help. So he knew that he was at Microsoft tech support headquarters…

      Everything you said is correct, yet of no consquence. None of the statistical models at that point even got the SST anomalies to the El Nino range (Nino 3.4 at .5C or higher). NASA pretty much nailed it. All of the dynamical models pretty much had the decay correct back in the fall.

      De Aleo’s prognostications come as no surprise, although he does go off the reservation by his prediction of a La Nina event through a rather non-rigorous application of a “statistical” model. Most of the models are currently looking an ENSO neutral conditions for the rest of the year.

      Care to play again?

      • Rattus Norvegicus: And the point of my first sentence in original reply was that your initial comment was without merit since El Nino events normally peak at that time, so the fact that the El Nino “seems to be leaving right on schedule, just like the models predicted,” is nonsense.


        [Funny, I thought that model predictions approximating reality was a good thing. – Ben]

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