|El Niño physics and El Niño predictability|In: Annual Review of Marine Science. Annual Reviews: Palo Alto, Calif.. ISSN 1941-1405, more
ENSO engine, ENSO predictions, Southern Oscillation
Much of the year-to-year climate variability on the Earth is associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This variability is generated primarily by a coupled ocean-atmosphere instability near the eastern edge of the western equatorial Pacific warm pool. Here, I discuss the physics of this variability, including its phase locking to the seasonal cycle. ENSO growth typically occurs from April/May to November, and by July the perturbation is usually strong enough that it persists to the beginning of the following year, when ENSO events usually end. Consequently, predicting ENSO is easy from July to February but is more challenging across the April/May transition to the next event. I discuss precursors of this transition and recent results from dynamical and statistical models used for ENSO forecasting.