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HOME > Expert Assessments > Climate Diagnostics Bulletin > Forecast Forum
Forecast Forum - March 2006

          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 Forecast System Model (CFS03) are presented in Figs. F3 and F4a, F4b.  Predictions from the Markov model (Xue, et al. 2000: J. Climate, 13, 849‑871) are shown in Figs. F5 and F6.   Predictions from the latest version of the LDEO model (Chen et al. 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 and Landsea 1997, Wea. Forecasting, 12, 633‑652) are shown in Fig. F12.  Niño 3.4 predictions are summarized in Fig. F13, provided by the Forecasting and Prediction Research Group of the IRI.

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



            La Niña conditions are expected to continue during the next 1-3 months.





     The patterns of anomalous ocean temperatures, atmospheric circulation and precipitation are consistent in indicating La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific. During March negative equatorial SST anomalies less than –0.5ºC were observed at most locations between 180ºW and 90ºW (Fig. T18), and negative SST departures were observed in all of the Niño regions, except for Niño 1+2 (Table T2 and Fig. T5). During the month, positive SST departures decreased in the extreme eastern equatorial Pacific (Fig. T9), as conditions returned to near average in that region (Fig. T25).

     During March above-average precipitation (negative OLR anomalies) was observed over Indonesia, the Philippines, northern Australia and Hawaii, while below-average precipitation (positive OLR anomalies) was observed over the central equatorial Pacific and over the eastern tropical Pacific between the equator and 10ºN (Fig. T25). Stronger-than-average low-level (850-hPa) easterly winds (Figs. T7 and T20) persisted over the central equatorial Pacific, and anomalous upper-level (200-hPa) cyclonic circulation centers were observed in both hemispheres (Fig. T22). The equatorial subsurface temperature anomaly pattern (negative anomalies in the central and eastern Pacific and positive anomalies in the western Pacific) persisted during February-March 2006 (Figs. T15 and T17), and the basin-wide upper ocean heat content, although increasing, remained below-average. These atmospheric and oceanic features are consistent with ongoing La Niña conditions.

     The value of the Oceanic Niño Index (ONI; 3-month running mean average of SST anomalies in the Niño 3.4 region – computed using the Extended Reconstructed SST version-2 data set) for January - March 2006 is -0.7°C, which indicates La Niña conditions.  Most of the statistical and coupled model forecasts indicate ENSO-neutral conditions in the tropical Pacific through the end of 2006 (Figs. F1, F2, F3, F4a, F4b, F5, F6, F7, F8, F9, F10, F11, F12 and F13). The spread of the most recent statistical and coupled model forecasts (weak La Niña to weak El Niño) indicates uncertainty in the outlooks for the last half of the year.  However, current conditions (stronger-than-average easterly winds over the central equatorial Pacific and below-average upper-ocean heat content) support those forecasts indicating that La Nina conditions will continue for the next 1-3 months.

       Weekly updates of SST, 850-hPa wind, OLR and features of the equatorial subsurface thermal structure are available on the Climate Prediction Center homepage at:


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