ENSO Forecasts

The simulation of the evolution of the atmosphere and ocean using coupled models has yielded a demonstrated ability to predict the onset of the El Niñ o-Southern Oscillation warming, known to be central to short-term variability in the Earth's climate system. Experimental predictions from these models can now be used to provide advance warning to national and international decision makers, which allows them to adjust planting schedules and crop selection in anticipation on anomalous climate patterns associated with ENSO. Using ENSO-based rainfall forecasts, Peruvians have been able to sustain the gross value of their agricultural sector, increasing it 3% in 1987 in spite of the moderate 1986-87 ENSO event (in contrast to a 14% decrease in 1983, accompanying the devastating 1982-83 ENSO event). In Ceará , Brazil during the drought of 1991-92, a systematic effort to organize the timing of seeding, based on prediction information, maintained agricultural production close to the historical annual mean. A multinational capacity is currently being developed to improve the ability to make accurate regional climate forecasts, and to distribute this information to affected nations in a format that most effectively addresses their specific conditions and needs.

Fisherman image © 1993 Paul Grabhorn