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Warmest year on record but no El Niño

January 21st, 2015

The immediate threat of El Niño onset appears passed for the 2014–15 cycle. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology reported this week that since late 2014, most ENSO indicators have eased back from borderline El Niño levels.

As the natural seasonal cycle of ENSO is now entering the decay phase, and models indicate a low chance of an immediate return to El Niño levels, neutral conditions are considered the most likely scenario through into autumn.

Central tropical Pacific Ocean surface temperatures have fallen by around half a degree from their peak of 1.1 °C above average in late November. Likewise, the Southern Oscillation Index has weakened to values more consistent with neutral conditions, while recent cloud patterns show little El Niño signature. As all models surveyed by the Bureau favour a continuation of these neutral conditions in the coming months, the immediate threat of El Niño onset appears passed for the 2014–15 cycle. Hence the ENSO Tracker has been reset to NEUTRAL.


The Tracker will remain at NEUTRAL unless observations and model outlooks indicate a heightened risk of either La Niña or El Niño developing later this year.

The absence of an El Niño makes the record high world temperatures for 2014 quite surprising. Previous record years have coincided with them

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