El Niño event that emerged in the tropical Pacific Ocean shortly after this spring has become as strong as the record-breaking phenomenon in 1997, as our Application Laboratory predicted. The Super El Niño, accompanied by Indian Ocean Dipole (hereinafter referred to as IOD) which arose in the Indian Ocean as predicted, has already caused abnormal weather across the globe. This year’s El Niño has gained prominence abroad owing to its intensity, coming to be called Godzilla El Niño based on the old Japanese movie. In this column, we would like to analyze the Super El Niño along with future prospects.
Niño3.4, an index, which defines deviation between region-averaged SST (sea surface temperature) in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean and the average year value, is used often to determine whether El Niño event is emerging, Continuation of values above 0.5 °C for several months is considered indication of an El Niño event. Figure 1 (a) illustrates time-series of the Niño3.4 showing the index exceeded 1 °C this spring, developed rapidly followed by reaching above 2 °C in September. We may judge from these values that present El Niño is at least comparable to the scale of Super El Niños in 1982-1983,and in 1997-1998.
Note: The terminology Super El Niño began to be used in scientific papers (Hong et al. 2014).
Application Laboratory (previously known as Climate Variations Research Program, Frontier Research Center for Global Change), JAMSTEC, successfully developed a prototype of SINTEX-F seasonal forecast system (*1) in 2005, commenced monthly experimental predictions for climate variability inducing abnormal weather. This year marks 10th anniversary of initiation of delivering prediction information to the world. Prediction made under initial conditions on 1st May 2015 successfully predicted this year’s El Niño with accuracy.
As one of the strongest events ever, called Super El Niño (Figure 1 a) The system also predicted evolution of positive IOD which could bring extreme summer heat to Japan in contrast to El Niño which could cause cool summer (Figure 1 b). In fact, Japan experienced the impact from two contradicting events this summer; IOD in the Indian Ocean brought unusually hot conditions in July and the first half of August, whereas El Niño in the Pacific brought cool and wet conditions in the latter half of this summer
Note: For IOD, readers may be referred to our previous column issued on 24th July 2015; Signs of Indian Ocean Dipole as Predicted.
According to latest forecast with SINTEX-F (forecasting as of 1st October 2015), the intensifying El Niño will reach its peak late this autumn, retaining the momentum until this winter (Figure 2 a) which may result in warmer winter in Japan (Figure 3).
For further details, see Latest Seasonal Outlook; information on forecast is updated every month.
Based on the results from the SINTEX-F forecasting system, the extremely strong El Niño will lose its strength next spring, take turn with La Niña event next winter (December 2016 through February 2017) that causes cooler than normal sea temperature in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. While most other forecasting agencies around the world make a 6 to12-month prediction, SINTEX-F forecast system of Application Laboratory succeeded in predictions of El Niño and La Niña events 2 years in advance, making itself the sole system in the world to monthly distribute 2-year prediction information on El Niño and La Niña. We note that SINTEX-F was successful in predicting the following 2 events; Super El Niño that emerged in 1997 and suddenly waned in the spring of 1998, and La Niña emergence in January 1999 (Figure 2 b). The integrity of the system evinces a great likelihood of La Niña event next year. La Niña event is considered to bring wintry weather to affected areas in winter.
Global Warming Hiatus appears to have ended in 2014 and we expect a start of a reversed decadal-scale phase which may strengthen the global warming impacts However, the winter from 2016 through 2017 may be an exception during which it does not get so warm. For reference, see Figure 4 illustrating climate prediction for the winter averaged between December 2016 and February 2017. Note that some of the data in it may not be as reliable as others since the diversity among the forecast ensembles large.; in particular, we should be careful to interpret the results near Japan because of the big diversity among forecast ensemble.
The information contained herein is provided as a public service to introduce our research activity and seasonal prediction experiments conducted at Application Laboratory (APL)/JAMSTEC. We do not warrant or take any responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.
When a part or all of the contents of this site are refereed to, please acknowledge as “Provided by Application Laboratory (APL)/JAMSTEC”.