Second Thoughts on Skill Of El Niño Predictions

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Science  13 Oct 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5490, pp. 257-258
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5490.257

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A few years' perspective on the 1997-98 El Niño and a toughening of standards has dropped model forecast performance from spectacular to encouraging; some critics don't even give the models a passing grade. According to an analysis published in the September issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the sophisticated models did a poor job of predicting the 1997-98 El Niño's full course; in fact, they did no better than a rudimentary model that can run on a desktop. Others won't go that far but agree that the models' reputation needs to be taken down a notch or two.