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El Nino likely late this year

There’s a 75 percent chance that an El Nino will develop late this year, improving the prospects that Southern California will pull out of a deep drought, scientists say in a paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.The forecast was made by an international team of scientists who said they’ve developed a model that enables them to make such a prediction about one year in advance, rather than the 5 to 6 months that is common for spotting an El Nino, a natural periodic climate change that can
strengthen Pacific storms.The
team, led by researchers at the University of Giessen in Germany, also say the algorithm enabled them to correctly predict that an El Nino would not occur in 2012 and 2013.An El Nino can develop when westbound winds in the Pacific slacken at and near the equator, allowing unusually warm water to flow east, where it triggers atmospheric changes that can increase the strength and frequency of the winter storms that flow into Southern California. El Ninos vary in length and intensity. A reverse pattern, known as La Nina, can cause extended periods of dry weather. Southern California is currently in a neutral phase.Forecasters have struggled to accurately forecast El Nino. It isn’t clear that things have changed with the new prediction. Conditions have been changing rapidly; as the new science paper notes, researchers said last September that there was a 1 in 5 chance that an El Nino would develop. The odds changed to 1
in 3 by November. Southern California experienced a moderate El Nino in 2009 2010, and an historic one
in 1997 98. The latter event produced floods and mudslides across Southern California."We are aware of the reputational risks associated with our announcement, yet formulating falsifiable hypotheses is at the heart of the scientific method," the
science team says in the PNAS paper. "Should our alarm turn out to be correct, however, this would be a major step toward better forecasting and eventually understanding of the (El Nino) dynamics."Our contribution may also be relevant for the wider debate about anthropogenic global warming. There have been speculations that the
recent hiatus in planetary mean surface temperature rise indicates that the climate system is less CO2 sensitive than previously thought. On the other hand, new studies have demonstrated
that decadal atmospheric warming is considerably masked by equatorial Pacific variability."The U T’s Rob Krier reports that the Climate Prediction Center said last week that the odds of an El Nino developing later this year appear to be increasing. But climatologists at the center say there is low confidence
in forecasts this time of year.Articles Connexes:

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