An Improved Procedure for EI Niño Forecasting: Implications for Predictability

Science  22 Sep 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5231, pp. 1699-1702
DOI: 10.1126/science.269.5231.1699


A coupled ocean-atmosphere data assimilation procedure yields improved forecasts of El Niño for the 1980s compared with previous forecasting procedures. As in earlier forecasts with the same model, no oceanic data were used, and only wind information was assimilated. The improvement is attributed to the explicit consideration of air-sea interaction in the initialization. These results suggest that EI Niño is more predictable than previously estimated, but that predictability may vary on decadal or longer time scales. This procedure also eliminates the well-known spring barrier to EI Niño prediction, which implies that it may not be intrinsic to the real climate system.