IRI's Walter Baethgen gives an overview of El Niño's potential impacts on global food production.

The globally averaged sea surface temperature in 2013 was among the 10 highest on record, with the North Pacific reaching an historic high temperature. ENSO-neutral conditions and a negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation pattern had the largest impacts on global sea surface temperature in 2013.

Upper ocean heat content has increased significantly over the past two decades. An estimated 70 percent of the excess heat has accumulated in the top 2,000 feet of the ocean, and the rest has flowed into deeper ocean layers.

In 2013, global average sea level was 1.5 inches above the 1993-2010 average, which is the highest yearly average in the satellite record (1993-present). Overall, sea level continues to rise at a rate of one-eighth of an inch per year.

(VIDEO) Without a strong influence from El Niño or La Niña, the U.S. winter climate is less predictable. Based on recent trends, however, drought is likely to develop in the Southwest and Southeast over the 2013-14 winter.

Traditional weather forecasts consist of weather maps that predict exactly how much rain may fall or the maximum daily temperature of an area. NOAA climate outlooks forecast the odds that future weather conditions will be above, below, or near normal.

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