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HOME > Expert Assessments > Climate Diagnostics Bulletin > Forecast Forum
Forecast Forum - March  2003

The canonical correlation analysis (CCA) forecast of SST in the central Pacific (Barnett et al. 1988, Science, 241, 192-196; Barnston and Ropelewski 1992, J. Climate, 5, 1316-1345), is shown in Figs. F1 and F2. This forecast is produced routinely by the Prediction Branch of the Climate Prediction Center. The predictions from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) coupled ocean/atmosphere model (Ji et al. 1998, Mon. Wea. Rev, 126, 1022-1034) are presented in Figs. F3 and F4a, F4b.  Predictions from the Markov model (Xue, Y., A. Leetmaa, and M. Ji, 2000: ENSO prediction with Markov model: The impact of sea level. J. Climate, 13, 849-871) are shown in Figs. F5 and F6.   Predictions from the latest version of the LDEO model (Chen, D., M. A. Cane, S. E. Zebiak, Rafael Canizares and A. Kaplan, 2000, Geophys. Res. Let., 27, 2585-2587) are shown in Figs. F7 and F8. Predictions using linear inverse modeling (Penland and Magorian 1993, J. Climate, 6, 1067-1076) are shown in Figs. F9 and F10. Predictions from the Scripps / Max Planck Institute (MPI) hybrid coupled model (Barnett et al. 1993, J. Climate, 6, 1545-1566) are shown in Fig. F11.   Predictions from the ENSO-CLIPER statistical model (Knaff, J. A. and C. W. Landsea 1997, Wea. Forecasting, 12, 633-652) are shown in Fig. F12.

The CPC and the contributors to the Forecast Forum caution potential users of this predictive information that they can expect only modest skill.


Based on the recent evolution of conditions in the tropical Pacific and on the latest coupled model and statistical model forecasts, near-normal conditions are expected to prevail in the tropical Pacific through September 2003.


Warm episode (El NiZo) conditions continued to weaken during March 2003. Sea-surface temperature anomalies continued to decrease throughout the central and eastern equatorial Pacific during the month (Figs. T5 and T9), while low-level equatorial easterlies continued to strengthen (Figs. T7 and T20). Since December 2002 there has also been a steady decrease in the magnitude and extent of the positive subsurface temperature anomalies, indicating a depletion of the excess warmth in the upper ocean of the equatorial Pacific (Figs. T15 and T17). This evolution is typical during the decay phase of warm episodes.

In spite of these trends, significant positive SST anomalies remained in the central equatorial Pacific during March 2003 , with anomalies greater than +1EC extending from 170EE to 140EW (Fig. T18). In addition, enhanced precipitation and cloudiness occurred over western portions of this region (Fig. T25). The Tahiti-Darwin SOI remained negative (!1.0) for the 13th consecutive month (Table T1), while the equatorial SOI was closer to zero.

Consistent with current conditions and recent observed trends, a majority of the coupled model and statistical model forecasts indicate that near-normal conditions will prevail through September 2003 (Figs. F1, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6, F7, F8, F9, F10, F11, F12). However, there is uncertainty in this forecast, as some forecasts indicate the possibility of continued weak El NiZo conditions (e.g. the NCEP CCA, Figs. F1, F2) while others indicate the development of La NiZa conditions during the second half of 2003 (e.g. the Linear Inverse Model, Figs. F9, F10). All such models have relatively low skill during the transition phases of the ENSO cycle.

Weekly updates of SST, 850-hPa wind, OLR, and the equatorial subsurface temperature structure are available on the Climate Prediction Center homepage at: (Weekly Update).

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