How likely is a La Niña the year after an El Niño, and in particular after a strong one like this year's? IRI's Tony Barnston analyzes the history of ENSO behavior since 1950 for a possible answer. 

June 2014

  • The Signal and the Noise is often mentioned in reference to ENSO forecasting and not just in reference to Nate Silver’s bestselling book.  In fact, understanding what is signal and what is noise is critical to interpreting predictions from models and climate science in general.  



  •  We’d like our forecasts—both weather and climate—to be simple and certain. Because of the fluid and chaotic nature of the ocean and atmosphere, however, forecasts are never about certainty: they’re about probability.

  • How does El Niño affect U.S. winter temperature and precipitation?

  • Chances that an El Niño will occur by summer are above 70%, hitting 80% by the fall. But subsurface temperature anomalies have tapered off some from earlier this spring, decreasing the odds the event will be as strong as the El Niño of 1997-98.