Almost two months after a devastating earthquake rocked Haiti, nearly half a million people there are displaced from their homes, and a million more are living without proper shelter. What climate-related risks will they face in the coming months?

NOAA researchers have built a "time machine" for weather that provides detailed snapshots of the global atmosphere from 1891 to 2008. The system's ability to "hindcast" past weather events is emerging as a powerful new tool for detecting and quantifying climate change.

For years, people have been pointing to El Niño as the culprit behind floods, droughts, famines, economic failures, and record-breaking global heat. Can a single climate phenomenon really cause all these events? Is the world just a step away from disaster when El Niño conditions develop?

The Southern Oscillation Index tracks differences in air pressure between the eastern and western sides of the tropical Pacific.

El Niño and La Niña conditions occur when abnormally warm or cool waters accumulate in tropical latitudes of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. The Oceanic Nino Index is the tool NOAA scienitsts use to watch for these temperature changes. 

Guest blogger Ken Takahashi assesses the prospects for this El Niño to be an extreme one in the eastern tropical Pacific, like the 1982 and 1997 events were.

ENSO forecasters are predicting this El Niño will be a strong one. What does that mean?

Part science expert, part ringmaster, Jessica Blunden shares the challenges and the value of putting together the State of the Climate report every year.

“El Niño is Strong!” “No, it’s Moderate!” “But the [insert your favorite ENSO indicator here] is the largest it’s been since the El Niño of 1997-98!”

There’s a very high probability that El Niño will continue through the fall and early winter, and it could become a strong event.

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