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ENSO Tracker - Mar 2022 | CLIMAS

 SW Climate Outlook

ENSO Tracker - Mar 2022

ENSO Tracker - Mar 2022

Sea surface temperature (SST) forecasts for Mar – May 2022 indicate cool conditions across the equatorial Pacific (Fig. 1). Current Nino 3.4/4 anomalies are still below the La Niña threshold (Fig. 2), and ENSO outlooks generally call for La Niña conditions to last into summer, with some not seeing a return to neutral conditions until the end of summer.

Forecast Roundup: On Mar 1 the Australian Bureau of Meteorology ENSO outlook stated “Atmospheric and oceanic indicators remain at La Niña levels”, but called for a “slow warming of deeper waters…[that] typically foreshadows a breakdown in La Niña”. On Mar 10 the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) maintained their “La Niña Advisory” noting “the coupled ocean-atmosphere system reflected the continuation of La Niña” and called for a 53-percent chance of La Niña lasting through the Jun-Aug period, and a 40-percent chance of ENSO-neutral by Fall 2022. On Mar 10 the International Research Institute (IRI) issued an ENSO Quick Look (Fig. 3), noting “Sea Surface Temperatures remain below-normal in the central-eastern equatorial Pacific” and “the evolution of key oceanic and atmospheric variables is consistent with weak La Niña conditions”. On Mar 10 the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) observed La Niña conditions are present and an 60-percent chance they would continue through the end of spring, and a 70-percent chance of ENSO-neutral by summer. The North American Multi-Model Ensemble (solid and dashed black line, Fig. 4) remains in La Niña territory, but indicates weak intensity and an increasingly gradual transition back to neutral conditions by mid-to-late 2022.

Summary: Some recent outlooks call for an increasingly gradual transition out of La Niña. Some forecast a transition by early-to-mid summer, but others forecast La Niña conditions could persist through the end of summer.  La Niña winters are usually warmer and drier than average in the Southwest, and this was consistent with most observed conditions in winter 2021-2022. If La Niña does persist through summer, the impact on spring and summer in the Southwest is less consistent or predictable. The Southwest does not typically see much precipitation in April or May, and the onset of monsoon activity in June and July is highly variable. Neither is as consistently linked to ENSO phase as winter precipitation.


Online Resources

  • Figure 1 - Australian Bureau of Meteorology - bom.gov.au/climate/enso
  • Figure 2 - NOAA - Climate Prediction Center - cpc.ncep.noaa.gov
  • Figure 3 - International Research Institute for Climate and Society - iri.columbia.edu
  • Figure 4 - NOAA - Climate Prediction Center - cpc.ncep.noaa.gov