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New El Nino forecasting system could help prevent harvest failures

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - 15:14

Washington: A new forecasting technique can help predict irregular warming of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, called El Nino, which could result in lesser harvest failures due to the phenomenon.

In order to extend forecasting from six months to one year or even more, scientists have now proposed a novel approach based on advanced connectivity analysis applied to the climate system.

The scheme builds on high-quality data of air temperatures and clearly outperforms existing methods.

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and co-author of the study by Josef Ludescher et al (Justus-Liebig Universitat Giessen), said enhancing the preparedness of people in the affected regions by providing more early-warning time is key to avoiding some of the worst effects of El Nino.

The new approach employs network analysis which is a cutting-edge methodology at the crossroads of physics and mathematics.

Data from more than 200 measurement points in the Pacific, available from the 1950s on, were crucial for studying the interactions between distant sites that cooperate in bringing about the warming.

According to Schellnhuber a new algorithm has been developed and tested which does not only extend the forecasting time but also enhances the reliability.

In fact, the novel method correctly predicted the absence of an El Nino-event in the last year. This forecast was made in 2011 already, whereas conventional approaches kept on predicting a significant warming far into 2012.

The study will be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


First Published: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - 15:13

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