“We’re at the point in the year where forecasting is hard, so the computer models used to try to get a handle on where this is headed are all over the map.”
It’s the conventional wisdom the ENSO forecast community has been giving me for years, a sort of “pivot point” around this time of year when their forecast skill is weakest.
Then comes this draft paper from Jim Hansen and others:
We suggest that an El Niño is likely to originate in 2006 and that there is a good chance it will be a “super El Niño”, rivaling the 1983 and 1997-1998 El Niños, which were successively labeled the “El Niño of the century” as they were of unprecedented strength in the previous 100 years.
Hansen goes on to “argue further that global warming has increased the likelihood of super El Niños.”
As it happens, I’ve been poking at this question as well because of the important relationship between ENSO and the climate here in the southwest. More/bigger (less/smaller) El Niños means less (more) drought where I live. As Eric Guilyardi recently put it, “Predicting El Niño occurrence and amplitude… is a key societal need.”
I’m going to have some more commentary on water issues tomorrow, based on information I heard from the Interstate Stream Commission today. Still, John’s got the goods on statewide climate issues, so make sure you bookmark his site.