ENSO Cycle: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions. Update prepared by Climate Prediction Center / NCEP 23 April 2012

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1 ENSO Cycle: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions Update prepared by Climate Prediction Center / NCEP 23 April 2012

2 Outline Overview Recent Evolution and Current Conditions Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) Revised March 2012 Pacific SST Outlook U.S. Seasonal Precipitation and Temperature Outlooks Summary La Niña Composites

3 Summary A transition from La Niña to ENSO-neutral is underway.* Equatorial sea surface temperatures (SST) remain near 0.5 C below average in the central Pacific, and above average in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Atmospheric circulation anomalies remain mostly consistent with La Niña, but have weakened in recent weeks. La Niña is expected to transition to ENSO-neutral conditions during April 2012.* * Note: These statements are updated once a month in association with the ENSO Diagnostics Discussion:

4 Recent Evolution of Equatorial Pacific SST Departures ( o C) Time From September January 2012, below-average SSTs were evident across much of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Longitude Since February 2012, above-average SSTs have persisted in the eastern Pacific, while negative anomalies have gradually weakened in the central Pacific.

5 Niño Region SST Departures ( o C) Recent Evolution The latest weekly SST departures are: Niño 4 Niño 3.4 Niño 3 Niño ºC -0.4ºC 0.1ºC 1.5ºC

6 SST Departures ( o C) in the Tropical Pacific During the Last 4 Weeks During the last 4-weeks, equatorial SSTs were below average in the central and eastcentral Pacific and above average in the eastern Pacific.

7 Global SST Departures ( o C) During the last four weeks, equatorial SSTs were below average across the east-central and central Pacific Ocean and above average in the eastern Pacific. A horseshoe pattern of above-average SSTs extended from the Maritime Continent into the middle latitudes of the Pacific Ocean.

8 Weekly SST Departures ( o C) for the Last Four Weeks During the last four weeks, below-average SSTs in the central equatorial Pacific decreased in magnitude. Also, above-average SSTs strengthened in the eastern equatorial Pacific. During the last 30 days, positive changes were observed near S. America.

9 Upper-Ocean Conditions in the Eq. Pacific Cold Episodes Warm Episodes The basin-wide equatorial upper ocean (0-300 m) heat content is greatest prior to and during the early stages of a Pacific warm (El Niño) episode (compare top 2 panels) and least prior to and during the early stages of a cold (La Niña) episode. The slope of the oceanic thermocline is least (greatest) during warm (cold) episodes. Recent values of the upperocean heat anomalies (near zero) and a weakening thermocline slope index reflect a transition toward ENSO neutral. The monthly thermocline slope index represents the difference in anomalous depth of the 20ºC isotherm between the western Pacific (160ºE-150ºW) and the eastern Pacific (90º-140ºW).

10 Weekly Central & Eastern Pacific Upper-Ocean (0-300 m) Average Temperature Anomalies Positive subsurface anomalies were evident from March-July Negative anomalies developed in late July The negative anomalies began weakening in January 2012 and have recently become positive.

11 Sub-Surface Temperature Departures ( o C) in the Equatorial Pacific During the last two months, negative subsurface temperature anomalies became near-average to above-average across the eastern equatorial Pacific. During the recent period, near-surface positive anomalies are evident in portions of the eastern equatorial Pacific. Time Longitude Most recent pentad analysis

12 Tropical OLR and Wind Anomalies During the Last 30 Days Negative OLR anomalies (enhanced convection and precipitation, blue shading) were observed over the Philippines, South China Sea, and southeast of Papua New Guinea. Positive OLR anomalies (suppressed convection and precipitation, red shading) were located over the central tropical Pacific. Weak low-level (850-hPa) easterly anomalies were observed over the central tropical Pacific, while lowlevel westerly anomalies were observed in the eastern Pacific. C C Upper-level (200-hPa) westerly anomalies were observed over the tropical Pacific. Cyclonic circulation anomalies were present in the subtropics of both hemispheres

13 Atmospheric Circulation over the North Pacific & North America During the Last 60 Days 200-hPa Wind 500-hPa Height & Anoms. 925-hPa Temp. Anoms. ( o C) From mid-february to mid-april, above-average 500-hPa heights persisted over central and eastern North America, accompanied by above-average temperatures. During most of the period, below-average 500-hPa heights and temperatures were evident near the western coast of North America.

14 U.S. Temperature and Precipitation Departures During the Last 30 and 90 Days 30-day (ending 20 Apr 2012) % of average precipitation Last 30 Days 30-day (ending 21 Apr 2012) temperature departures (degree C) 90-day (ending 20 Apr 2012) % of average precipitation Last 90 Days 90-day (ending 21 Apr 2012) temperature departures (degree C)

15 Intraseasonal Variability Intraseasonal variability in the atmosphere (wind and pressure), which is often related to the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), can significantly impact surface and subsurface conditions across the Pacific Ocean. Related to this activity significant weakening of the low-level easterly winds usually initiates an eastward-propagating oceanic Kelvin wave.

16 Weekly Heat Content Evolution in the Equatorial Pacific Time From July 2011 February 2012 heat content was below average in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific. Recently, heat content anomalies have returned to near zero. Longitude Oceanic Kelvin waves have alternating warm and cold phases. The warm phase is indicated by dashed lines. Down-welling and warming occur in the leading portion of a Kelvin wave, and upwelling and cooling occur in the trailing portion.

17 Low-level (850-hPa) Zonal (east-west) Wind Anomalies (m s -1 ) Westerly wind anomalies (orange/red shading). Easterly wind anomalies (blue shading). Time During October- mid December 2011, the MJO contributed to an eastward shift of the low-level wind anomalies. From the beginning of December mid March 2012, low-level easterly wind anomalies persisted over the western and central equatorial Pacific. During late March and early April, westerly anomalies were evident across the western equatorial Pacific, in part due to the MJO. Longitude

18 200-hPa Velocity Potential Anomalies (5ºN-5ºS) Positive anomalies (brown shading) indicate unfavorable conditions for precipitation. Negative anomalies (green shading) indicate favorable conditions for precipitation. Time From May January 2012, a persistent pattern of upper-level convergence anomalies (brown) was evident over the central Pacific, while anomalous upper-level divergence (green) generally prevailed over the Maritime Continent. The MJO was active during October through December 2011 and again during February through mid April Longitude

19 Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) Anomalies Time Drier-than-average conditions (orange/red shading) Wetter-than-average conditions (blue shading) From October December 2011, variability in OLR anomalies (focused mostly over the Indian Ocean and Maritime Continent) was associated with the MJO. Since April 2010, negative OLR anomalies have been observed near the Maritime Continent and positive OLR anomalies have prevailed over the western and central Pacific. During February through March, eastward propagation of negative OLR anomalies is evident. Longitude

20 Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) The ONI is based on SST departures from average in the Niño 3.4 region, and is a principal measure for monitoring, assessing, and predicting ENSO. Defined as the three-month running-mean SST departures in the Niño 3.4 region. Departures are based on a set of improved homogeneous historical SST analyses (Extended Reconstructed SST ERSST.v3b). The SST reconstruction methodology is described in Smith et al., 2008, J. Climate, vol. 21, ) Used to place current events into a historical perspective NOAA s operational definitions of El Niño and La Niña are keyed to the ONI index.

21 NOAA Operational Definitions for El Niño and La Niña El Niño: characterized by a positive ONI greater than or equal to +0.5 C. La Niña: characterized by a negative ONI less than or equal to -0.5 C. By historical standards, to be classified as a full-fledged El Niño or La Niña episode, these thresholds must be exceeded for a period of at least 5 consecutive overlapping 3-month seasons. CPC considers El Niño or La Niña conditions to occur when the monthly Niño3.4 OISST departures meet or exceed +/- 0.5 C along with consistent atmospheric features. These anomalies must also be forecasted to persist for 3 consecutive months.

22 ONI ( o C): Evolution since 1950 The most recent ONI value (January March 2012) is -0.7 o C. El Niño neutral La Niña

23 Historical El Niño and La Niña Episodes Based on the ONI computed using ERSST.v3b El Niño Highest ONI Value La Niña Lowest ONI Value JJA 1951 DJF 1951/ ASO 1949 JAS NOTE (Mar. 2012): The historical values of the ONI have slightly changed due to an update in the climatology. Please click here for more details on the methodology: Historical ONI Values DJF 1952/53 JFM SON 1950 JFM MAM 1957 JJA AMJ 1954 NDJ 1956/ OND 1958 FMA AMJ 1964 DJF 1964/ MJJ 1963 JFM JJA 1970 DJF 1971/ AMJ 1965 MAM AMJ 1973 JJA JAS 1968 DJF 1969/ SON 1974 MAM AMJ 1972 FMA ASO 1983 DJF 1983/ ASO JFM SON 1984 ASO ASO 1977 JFM AMJ 1988 AMJ AMJ 1982 MJJ ASO 1995 FMA JAS 1986 JFM JJA 1998 FMA AMJ 1991 MJJ OND 2005 FMA ASO 1994 FMA JAS 2007 MJJ AMJ 1997 MAM JJA 2010 MAM AMJ 2002 JFM JJA 2004 DJF 2004/ ASO 2006 DJF 2006/ JJA 2009 MAM

24 Recent Pacific warm (red) and cold (blue) episodes based on a threshold of +/- 0.5 o C for the Oceanic Nino Index (ONI) [3 month running mean of ERSST.v3b SST anomalies in the Nino 3.4 region (5N-5S, W)]. For historical purposes El Niño and La Niña episodes are defined when the threshold is met for a minimum of 5 consecutive over-lapping seasons. The complete table going back to DJF 1950 can be found by clicking: Historical ONI Values Year DJF JFM FMA MAM AMJ MJJ JJA JAS ASO SON OND NDJ

25 Official Probabilistic ENSO Outlook (updated 5 Apr 2012) ENSO-neutral is favored during the Northern Hemisphere spring and summer.

26 Pacific Niño 3.4 SST Outlook The majority of models predict ENSO-neutral conditions (Niño-3.4 SST anomalies between C and +0.5 C) during the Northern Hemisphere spring, continuing through the remainder of The average dynamical model forecast is slightly warmer than the statistical models and favor El Niño conditions during the last half of Figure provided by the International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society (updated 17 April 2012).

27 SST Outlook: NCEP CFS.v1 Forecast Issued 23 April 2012 The CFS.v1 ensemble mean (black dashed line) predicts above-average (ENSO-neutral to El Niño) SSTs during the remainder of Please note that CFS.v1 will be discontinued in October 2012.

28 SST Outlook: NCEP CFS.v2 Forecast Issued 23 April 2012 The CFS.v2 ensemble mean (black dashed line) predicts El Niño conditions to develop by JJA (not PDF corrected)

29 U. S. Seasonal Outlooks May July 2012 Temperature Precipitation The seasonal outlooks combine the effects of long-term trends, soil moisture, and, when appropriate, ENSO.

30 Summary A transition from La Niña to ENSO-neutral is underway.* Equatorial sea surface temperatures (SST) remain near 0.5 C below average in the central Pacific, and above average in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Atmospheric circulation anomalies remain mostly consistent with La Niña, but have weakened in recent weeks. La Niña is expected to transition to ENSO-neutral conditions during April 2012.* * Note: These statements are updated once a month in association with the ENSO Diagnostics Discussion:

31 U.S. Precipitation Departures (mm) and Frequency of Occurrence (%) for La Niña during Mar.-May

32 U.S. Temperature Departures ( C) and Frequency of Occurrence (%) for La Niña during Mar.-May

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