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El Nino-Southern Oscillation Updates

NOAA National Weather Service / Climate Prediction Center

Date: January 13, 2020

  • ENSO-neutral conditions are present.
  • Equatorial sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are near-to-above average across the Pacific Ocean. 
  • The tropical atmospheric circulation is generally consistent with ENSO-neutral. 
  • ENSO-neutral is favored through Northern Hemisphere spring 2020 (~60% chance), continuing through summer 2020 (~50% chance).

International Research Institute for Climate and Society

Date: January 9, 2019

SSTs in the east-central Pacific were near the borderline of weak El Niño levels during mid-January. Patterns in most atmospheric variables have mainly maintained neutral conditions, with some trends toward El Niño. Most model forecasts favor borderline weak El Niño SST conditions during winter, returning to ENSO-neutral by early spring and beyond. The official CPC/IRI outlook is consistent with these model forecasts.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Date: January 7, 2020

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) has returned to neutral after one of the strongest positive IOD events to impact Australia in recent history. The IOD is expected to remain neutral in the coming months, meaning that it will have little influence on Australian and global climate.

However, the IOD’s legacy of widespread warm and dry conditions during the second half of 2019 primed the Australian landscape for bushfire weather and heatwaves this summer.

In the Pacific Ocean, although indicators of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are neutral, the tropical ocean near and to the west of the Date Line remains warmer than average, potentially drawing some moisture away from Australia.

Most climate models indicate ENSO will remain neutral until at least the end of the southern hemisphere autumn, meaning it will have limited influence on Australian and global climate.

When the IOD and ENSO are neutral, Australia’s climate can be influenced by more local or short-term climate drivers. The Bureau's Climate Outlook for the weeks, months and seasons ahead include all the climate influences on Australian weather.


Most international climate models indicate central tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures in the NINO3.4 region will remain at ENSO-neutral levels through the southern hemisphere autumn 2020. One model of eight approaches El Niño thresholds at times, while another exceeds La Niña thresholds in late autumn.

World Meteorological Organization

Date: November, 2019

Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific have been neutral with respect to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (signifying that neither El Niño nor La Niña have prevailed) since July 2019. During October and early November, sea surface temperatures warmed to near El Niño levels, but most tropical Pacific atmospheric indicators have remained neutral. WMO Global Producing Centres of Long-range Forecasts (GPCs-LRF) indicate that sea surface temperatures are most likely to return to near-average levels after November and remain at ENSO-neutral levels into the first half of 2020. Given current conditions and model outlooks, the chance of ENSO-neutral conditions prevailing during the period December 2019 through February 2020 is estimated at about 65%, while the chances for El Niño and La Niña are 30% and 5%, respectively. Considering the increased uncertainty in long-range forecasts during the coming seasons, National Meteorological and Hydrological Services will continue to closely monitor changes in the state of El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) over the coming months.

In summary:

  • Since July 2019, the tropical Pacific has been in an ENSO-neutral state. During October and early November, a temporary warming of the waters occurred. This is being attributed to sub-seasonal variability and not the onset of an El Niño. 
  • Model predictions and expert opinion indicate a 65% chance of ENSO-neutral conditions continuing during December-February 2019-20, while the probability for El Niño is near 30%. For the March-May 2020 season, the chance for ENSO-neutral is 60%, El Niño is 25% and La Niña is 15%.
  • Sea surface temperature anomalies in the east-central Pacific Ocean are most likely to be in the range from 0.1 degrees Celsius below average to 0.5 degrees Celsius above average during December-February 2019-20.

The state of ENSO will continue to be carefully monitored. More detailed interpretations of regional climate variability will be generated routinely by the climate forecasting community over the coming months and will be made available through National Meteorological and Hydrological Services.


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