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3:30 p.m.

AOSC Seminar by Dr. Michelle L'Heureux, 12/03/2020

AOSC Seminar

Dr. Michelle L'Heureux


NWS Climate Prediction Center

Title: How Good Are Predictions of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)?


The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a leading mode of seasonal climate variability over the globe. In addition, ENSO is predictable, meaning that unlike some other weather and climate patterns, empirical and dynamical models capture enough ENSO-related physics that they can, with some accuracy, forecast the future evolution of ENSO many seasons in advance. For this reason ENSO is commonly used in making long-range climate outlooks. However, how skillful are these ENSO outlooks? In this talk, we will go over how the NOAA Climate Prediction (CPC) makes their operational (routine) monthly ENSO outlooks. We will also cover the concept of prediction skill, and discuss what kind of skill results from current generation models that predict ENSO. In particular, making predictions that start in the spring remains quite challenging despite several decades of model development. We will go over recent research that focuses on “False Alarms,” or predictions of El Niño events that ended up not happening in reality. Finally, we will discuss some other challenges in predicting ENSO, and offer some developmental pathways that could help improve these outlooks and our understanding of ENSO.



Michelle L'Heureux is a Physical Scientist, NOAA Climate Prediction Center/NWS where she works on understanding and improving climate predictions from two weeks to a year. Her experience and background is in climate science from the University of Virginia and Colorado State University. She is involved in preparing the ENSO Blog and engaged in examining how ENSO influences weather and climate patterns globally. More recently she investigates how changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean impact the circulation over the Arctic. Her main responsibility at CPC is to coordinate a team that updates the official status and forecast of the El Niño- Southern Oscillation (ENSO).


Contact: Rachel Pinker

AOSC Seminar

Pre-seminar refreshment: N/A
Seminar: 3:30-4:30pm, Zoom
Meet-the-Speaker: 4:30-5:00pm, Zoom [For AOSC Students only]

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