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HOME > Expert Assessments > Climate Diagnostics Bulletin > Forecast Forum
Forecast Forum - January 2005

The canonical correlation analysis (CCA) forecast of SST in the central Pacific (Barnett et al. 1988, Science, 241, 192‑196; Barnston and Ropelewski 1992, J. Climate, 5, 1316‑1345), is shown in Figs. F1 and F2. This forecast is produced routinely by the Prediction Branch of the Climate Prediction Center . The predictions from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Coupled Forecast System Model (CFS03) are presented in Figs. F3 and F4a, F4b.  Predictions from the Markov model (Xue, et al. 2000: J. Climate, 13, 849‑871) are shown in Figs. F5 and F6.   Predictions from the latest version of the LDEO model (Chen et al. 2000: Geophys. Res. Let., 27, 2585‑2587) are shown in Figs. F7 and F8.  Predictions using linear inverse modeling (Penland and Magorian 1993: J. Climate, 6, 1067‑1076) are shown in Figs. F9 and F10. Predictions from the Scripps / Max Planck Institute (MPI) hybrid coupled model (Barnett et al. 1993: J. Climate, 6, 1545‑1566) are shown in Fig. F11.  Predictions from the ENSO‑CLIPER statistical model (Knaff and Landsea 1997, Wea. Forecasting, 12, 633‑652) are shown in Fig. F12.  Niño 3.4 predictions are summarized in Fig. F13, provided by the Forecasting and Prediction Research Group of the IRI.

The CPC and the contributors to the Forecast Forum caution potential users of this predictive information that they can expect only modest skill.



            A transition from weak warm-episode (El Niño) conditions to ENSO-neutral conditions is expected during the next three months.



Sea surface temperature  (SST) anomalies decreased in the equatorial Pacific everywhere east of the date line during January 2005, resulting in decreases in all of the Niño indices with the exception of Niño 4 (Table T2). However, positive sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies greater than +1°C (~1.8°F) persisted in portions of the central and western equatorial Pacific (Fig. T18).  The pattern of anomalous warmth in the equatorial Pacific in recent months (Fig. T9) and the most recent  five-month running mean value of the Southern Oscillation Index (-0.5) (Fig. T1) indicate that a weak warm (mid-Pacific El Niño) episode is continuing. However, through December 2004  there was a lack of persistent enhanced convection over the anomalously warm waters of the central equatorial Pacific (Fig. T11), which has limited El Niño-related impacts.

Through most of 2004 MJO activity resulted in week-to-week and month-to-month variability in many atmospheric and oceanic indices (Tables T1 and T2). The MJO activity weakened considerably during early November 2004 and remained weak through mid-December. During the last half of December the MJO strengthened, as enhanced convection and precipitation over the Indian Ocean shifted eastward across Indonesia into the western tropical Pacific by early January.  Since then enhanced convection has persisted in the western equatorial Pacific and expanded eastward into the central equatorial Pacific (Figs. T11 and T25), accompanied by a weakening of the low-level easterly winds over the region (Fig. T13). At this time it is not clear whether the recent enhanced convection and weakening of the easterly winds in the central equatorial Pacific are transient features (related to the MJO) or perhaps evidence of a coupling between the anomalously warm waters and the overlying atmospheric circulation. 

The value of the Oceanic Niño Index (ONI; 3-month running mean average of SST anomalies in the Niño 3.4 region – computed using the Extended Reconstructed SST version-2 data set) for November 2004 – January  2005 is +0.8°C, which satisfies the NOAA operational definition of El Niño for the sixth consecutive month. Based on the recent evolution of oceanic and atmospheric conditions and on a majority of the statistical and coupled model forecasts (Figs. F1, F2, F3, F4a, F4b, F5, F6, F7, F8, F9, F10, F11, F12 and F13), it seems most likely that weak warm episode (El Niño) conditions will gradually weaken during the next three months and that ENSO-neutral conditions will prevail during the last half of 2005.

Weekly updates of SST, 850-hPa wind, OLR and features of the equatorial subsurface thermal structure are available on the Climate Prediction Center homepage at:


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