Skip to content

La Nina Likely By Summer – NOAA Failed To Predict Due To Faulty Models

April 7, 2016

By Paul Homewood 




Sounds as if Reuters are just catching up with I’ve been saying for a while!


The decay of El Niño and the onset of La Niña, the cold phase of tropical Pacific Ocean surface temperatures, are occurring more rapidly than it would appear.

The timing of La Niña’s arrival is important to commodities markets as La Niña has vastly different effects on global climate than its warm counterpart, El Niño.

For example, in agriculture markets, if La Niña moves in on the early end of the range by June or July, U.S. summer crops could face complications with dry and hot weather. But dry regions of Australia, Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa could receive ample rainfall prior to the peak of their next crop season.

The lingering of extremely warm waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean has led to some flawed assumptions that El Niño is decaying at a slower pace than in previous years, and that the transition to La Niña will happen later than initially expected.

But the platform for La Niña’s entrance has been in the assembly phase since late last year, and new data suggests that construction is nearly complete.

There are a couple of key atmospheric and oceanic variables that we watch for to signal the switch from El Niño to La Niña, and now more than ever, these variables are pulling the final plugs on El Niño.

The cold pool just beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean continues its rapid expansion, and it has nearly overcome the El Niño warmth on the surface, making remarkable strides in the final three weeks of March.

The anomaly lost heat during March at the same rate as in February, and decidedly cool waters now dominate the subsurface Pacific Ocean

A slowdown or reversal in this cooling trend does not seem likely as the atmosphere is becoming increasingly supportive of it. The Southern Oscillation Index, a measure of pressure tendencies over the Pacific Ocean, made a massive leap out of El Niño-favoring territory last month and is now ahead of the pace of similar years 1998 and 2010

Another key supporting variable, trade winds in the western and central Pacific, no longer favor El Niño though they are not definitively in the La Niña camp, either. But if the SOI continues on its upward trend, the winds might be encouraged to strengthen, moving the Pacific Ocean closer to La Niña .

A graph of sea surface temperature anomalies in the defining Niño 3.4 region suggests that yes, 2016 is decaying at a slower rate than the other years.

But given both the record peak it is coming from and the recent changes in the ocean and atmosphere, it would actually not be surprising to see the transition happen just as quickly as in 1998, if we truly are to enter into a stronger La Niña .



Not only is the atmosphere supporting a faster switch to La Niña, but now so is a major climate model. It was announced last week that the Climate Forecast System Version 2 model, commonly known as CFSv2 and run by a division of the U.S. government, had accumulated an error that was massively skewing the results.

In a nutshell, the model built up an erroneous cold bias in the Atlantic Ocean which significantly altered global sea surface temperature forecasts. This bias has since been corrected, but before the correction, CFSv2 was one of the only models predicting a continuation of El Niño

Now the model predicts a healthy La Niña by July, further dismantling the delayed La Niña theory .


Karen Braun is Global Agriculture Columnist at Thomson Reuters.

  1. David Richardson permalink
    April 7, 2016 3:34 pm

    “accumulated an error that was massively skewing the results.”

    What is news about that? When you are dealing with climate models – they all have errors that skew the results.

  2. April 7, 2016 3:51 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  3. Broadlands permalink
    April 7, 2016 4:11 pm

    Using the NOAA ONI 3.4 overlapping three month database, the 2015 El-Nino started out (DJF) way ahead of the path taken by the 1997-98 ENSO (DJF), by about one degree C. But, by June it had caught up. The ’98 values resumed their increases but at the seasonal year end (OND)… they both were tied.

    Apparently, the early fast start attracted attention, “jumped the gun” and created the early model forecasts?

  4. April 7, 2016 4:14 pm

    ‘This bias has since been corrected, but before the correction, CFSv2 was one of the only models predicting a continuation of El Niño

    Now the model predicts a healthy La Niña by July’

    Back to the pause then 😉

  5. catweazle666 permalink
    April 7, 2016 9:10 pm

    Funny thing, after the big 1998 El Niño spike, all the Warmists were frothing and screeching about “tipping points” and predicting boiling oceans and all sorts of other claptrap. And then the next year the global temperature dropped like a brick down a well.

    I haven’t seen a single reference to “tipping points” after the last one.

    Does indicate that they are losing confidence in the more apocalyptic aspects of their alarmist obsession?

  6. April 7, 2016 9:29 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News.

  7. April 7, 2016 10:14 pm

    Coldest, wettest February and March I can remember at 33° south latitude. That has to mean something. Sea surface shows anomalous cold in high latitudes and in particular in the central northern Pacific Ocean. The infeed waters are cooling.

    • ClimateOtter permalink
      April 7, 2016 10:32 pm

      We had our April in March; right now, we’re having March. But after the last three winters it was a real relief.

      • April 8, 2016 12:47 am

        What month is it in Virginia?

      • ClimateOtter permalink
        April 8, 2016 9:58 am

        Depends on who the voting majority is!

  8. Green Sand permalink
    April 12, 2016 10:45 am

    Looks like the cooler sub sea water is starting to surface at the coast of South America:-,2.67,587/loc=-80.117,4.234

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: