Skip navigation
B. Predicting The El Nino

Narrator: This is Science Today. By now you've probably heard about the global effects of the pending El Nino, a huge mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean which periodically appears and affects weather patterns throughout the world. Marine Research Physicist Tim Barnett of the University of California, San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography says while climatologists didn't see the brutal 1983 El Nino coming, they've got the tools to do so now.

Barnett: We've developed a model that will allow us to predict the El Nino up to a year in advance, in fact we predicted this one a year in advance. And from there we have a technique to bring that forecast from global scale, right down to regional scale almost literally to your backyard.

Narrator: This is done with a high resolution computer model that not only predicts El Ninos ...

Barnett: We've developed the capability now to lay that high resolution grid down anywhere in the world, so we can actually do forecasts for South America, for Australia. The system is just being put in place now and how well it works is an open question yet. We've got a years or two's worth of testing to go.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin