Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation

Accomplishments and Legacies of the TOGA Program

Advisory Panel for the Tropical Oceans and Global Atmosphere Program (TOGA Panel)

Climate Research Committee

Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1996



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Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: Accomplishments and Legacies of the TOGA Program Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation Accomplishments and Legacies of the TOGA Program Advisory Panel for the Tropical Oceans and Global Atmosphere Program (TOGA Panel) Climate Research Committee Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1996

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Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: Accomplishments and Legacies of the TOGA Program NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. This work is funded in part by contract CMRC 50-DKNA-5-00015/C from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and printed with funds from U.S. Department of Agriculture grant 403K06506534. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA or any of its sub-agencies. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 96-70442 International Standard Book Number 0-309-05342-0 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Ave., NW Box 285 Washington, DC 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area) COVER ART: Reproduction of the batik “Sunday Morning” by Susan Schneider, from the collection of Edward Sarachik. Ms. Schneider runs her own batik card business in Seattle, Washington. Her father, Harry Wexler, was Chief Scientist of the U.S. Weather Bureau. Her uncle, Jerome Namais (member of the National Academy of Sciences), was a major developer of long-range weather prediction and a pioneer in the study of short-term climate variations. “Sunday Morning” is based on a black and white photograph from the 1890s of residents in the town of Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, heading for church. The TOGA Panel selected it for the cover to evoke the beginnings of a new age of climate prediction. Copyright 1996 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.

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Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: Accomplishments and Legacies of the TOGA Program ADVISORY PANEL FOR THE TROPICAL OCEANS AND GLOBAL ATMOSPHERE PROGRAM (TOGA PANEL) EDWARD S. SARACHIK (Chair), University of Washington, Seattle ANTONIO J. BUSALACCHI, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland ROBERT E. DICKINSON, University of Arizona, Tucson STEVEN ESBENSEN, Oregon State University, Corvallis DAVID HALPERN, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena DENNIS L. HARTMANN, University of Washington, Seattle ROBERT A. KNOX, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California ANTS LEETMAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Camp Springs, Maryland ROGER LUKAS, University of Hawaii, Honolulu STEPHEN E. ZEBIAK, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, New York Staff MARK D. HANDEL, Senior Program Officer ELLEN F. RICE, Reports Officer THERESA M. FISHER, Administrative Assistant MARK BOEDO, Project Assistant

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Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: Accomplishments and Legacies of the TOGA Program CLIMATE RESEARCH COMMITTEE ERIC J. BARRON (Chair), Pennsylvania State University, University Park DAVID S. BATTISTI, University of Washington, Seattle RUSS E. DAVIS, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California ROBERT E. DICKINSON, University of Arizona, Tucson THOMAS R. KARL, National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina JEFFREY T. KIEHL, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado CLAIRE L. PARKINSON, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland STEVEN W. RUNNING, University of Montana, Missoula KARL E. TAYLOR, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California Ex Officio Members DOUGLAS G. MARTINSON, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, New York EDWARD S. SARACHIK, University of Washington, Seattle SOROOSH SOROOSHIAN, University of Arizona, Tucson PETER J. WEBSTER, University of Colorado, Boulder W. LAWRENCE GATES, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California Staff WILLIAM A. SPRIGG, Director MARK D. HANDEL, Senior Program Officer DORIS BOUADJEMI, Administrative Assistant KELLY NORSINGLE, Senior Project Assistant

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Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: Accomplishments and Legacies of the TOGA Program BOARD ON ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES AND CLIMATE JOHN A. DUTTON (Chair), Pennsylvania State University, University Park ERIC J. BARRON, Pennsylvania State University, University Park WILLIAM L. CHAMEIDES, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta CRAIG E. DORMAN, consultant, Arlington, Virginia FRANCO EINAUDI, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland MARVIN A. GELLER, State University of New York, Stony Brook PETER V. HOBBS, University of Washington, Seattle WITOLD F. KRAJEWSKI, The University of Iowa, Iowa City MARGARET A. LeMONE, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado DOUGLAS K. LILLY, University of Oklahoma, Norman RICHARD S. LINDZEN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge GERALD R. NORTH, Texas A&M University, College Station EUGENE M. RASMUSSON, University of Maryland, College Park ROBERT J. SERAFIN, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado Staff WILLIAM A. SPRIGG, Director H. FRANK EDEN, Senior Program Officer MARK D. HANDEL, Senior Program Officer DAVID H. SLADE, Senior Program Officer ELLEN F. RICE, Reports Officer DORIS BOUADJEMI, Administrative Assistant KELLY NORSINGLE, Senior Project Assistant

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Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: Accomplishments and Legacies of the TOGA Program COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES GEORGE M. HORNBERGER (Chair), University of Virginia, Charlottesville PATRICK R. ATKINS, Aluminum Company of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania JAMES P. BRUCE, Canadian Climate Program Board, Ottawa, Ontario WILLIAM L. FISHER, University of Texas, Austin JERRY F. FRANKLIN, University of Washington, Seattle DEBRA KNOPMAN, Progressive Foundation, Washington, D.C. PERRY L. McCARTY, Stanford University, California JUDITH E. McDOWELL, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts S. GEORGE PHILANDER, Princeton University, New Jersey RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario THOMAS C. SCHELLING, University of Maryland, College Park ELLEN SILBERGELD, University of Maryland Medical School, Baltimore VICTORIA J. TSCHINKEL, Landers and Parsons, Tallahassee, Florida Staff STEPHEN RATTIEN, Executive Director STEPHEN D. PARKER, Associate Executive Director MORGAN GOPNIK, Assistant Executive Director GREGORY SYMMES, Reports Officer JAMES MALLORY, Administrative Officer SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate MARQUITA SMITH, PC Analyst

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Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: Accomplishments and Legacies of the TOGA Program The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is interim president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council (NRC) was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and interim vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: Accomplishments and Legacies of the TOGA Program PREFACE El Niño and the Southern Oscillation, collectively called ENSO, are primary drivers of interannual climate variability. Prior to the initiation of the Tropical Oceans and Global Atmosphere (TOGA) Program in 1985, scientists had only the beginnings of a picture of ENSO. They had scant, scattered means of observing it. Ocean observations, in particular, were usually available after considerable delay. Scientists had only begun to understand the coupled dynamics of the ocean and atmosphere system; most previous research had concentrated on either the oceanic or the atmospheric response to a specified forcing by the other fluid. In 1982, the onset of the largest ENSO warm event (El Niño) of this century was not even recognized, let alone predicted, while in its early stage of development because available observations were so meager, aerosols from the eruption of El Chichon had contaminated satellite-based observations, means of effective data dissemination and interpretation were so lacking, and predictive models were so rudimentary. Research efforts at that time were still strongly divided between meteorologists and oceanographers, and the disciplinary barriers between them were significant. Useful ENSO predictions were a distant dream. The TOGA program, which began 1 January 1985 and ended 31 December 1994, addressed the important challenges of ENSO prediction. As the TOGA decade closed, the improvement in our understanding of short-term climatic fluctuations on our planet was clearly evident. A substantial network for oceanic and atmospheric observations is in place in the tropical Pacific and, to a lesser extent, in the other tropical oceans. Most of the data from that network are transmitted immediately and are accessible to researchers shortly after collection. Models have improved in quality. Regular predictions of aspects of ENSO are now made by a number of groups worldwide. Currently, these predictions are significantly better than predictions based on climatology for only limited geographic regions. Even in regions where skill is greatest, forecasts still fail. Nevertheless, the predictions are demonstrably skillful, enough so that they are taken seriously and used to guide national economic strategies and choices in some of the countries most affected by ENSO. International efforts to institutionalize short-term climate predictions for practical, regionally tailored ends are taking shape and expanding. An international community of scientists with firm roots in both meteorology and oceanography has come of age, learned how to talk to each other, and joined forces to carry out major cooperative research efforts. TOGA, in many respects, now represents a model for international and interdisciplinary scientific research.

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Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: Accomplishments and Legacies of the TOGA Program In view of such success, holding to the end date of 1994 for TOGA that was scheduled somewhat arbitrarily in 1985 may seem odd or rigid. The decision to do so, however, was not made casually. It necessitated thought about how to sustain certain activities, such as the observing system, that were nourished by TOGA but that must now remain healthy under other stewardship. However, formally ending TOGA has also ignited a valuable, energetic reassessment of the state of the art in understanding and predicting all aspects of seasonal-to-interannual climate variations. This assessment has involved a broad community of scientists. The initial planning for the new Global Ocean-Atmosphere-Land System (GOALS) program, an ambitious attempt to extend our knowledge of ENSO and other short-term variations of climate, has flowed from this reassessment (see NRC 1994b). New scientists have joined the process of shaping GOALS, bringing new ideas and fresh enthusiasm. If the end of TOGA has been unsettling and worrisome, it has been reinvigorating as well. The National Research Council's Advisory Panel for the Tropical Oceans and Global Atmosphere Program has played an active and very important role in shaping and guiding the U.S. contributions to TOGA. The panel as a group as well as some of its members as individuals, have been closely associated with the program. The Climate Research Committee, as the “parent” of the TOGA Panel, has asked the Panel to write a retrospective on TOGA, its accomplishments, and its shortcomings, with an emphasis on the U.S. contributions. Our hope is that this report, in conjunction with the original planning reports (NRC 1983, 1986) and mid-term assessments of scientific progress (NRC 1990), will provide a valuable milestone on the scientific path from TOGA, through GOALS, into future efforts to comprehend and cope with Earth's climatic machinery. Eric Barron, Chair Climate Research Committee

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Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: Accomplishments and Legacies of the TOGA Program ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The TOGA Panel would like to thank David Battisti, Grant Branstator, Inez Fung, Richard Gammon, Michael Halpert, D. Edmunds Harrison, Mojib Latif, Gary Mitchum, James Moum, John Marsh, Michael McPhaden, Robert Molinari, James W. Murray, Peter Niiler, Kevin Trenberth, Peter Webster, and Yuan Zhang for contributions to this report, and also the staff of the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, especially Mark Handel, for their diligence in preparing this report for publication. The current members of the panel are grateful to the many previous members (listed in Appendix A), who helped design the TOGA Program and provided part of the foundation for this report. Edward Sarachik, Chair TOGA Panel

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Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: Accomplishments and Legacies of the TOGA Program CONTENTS     SUMMARY   1 1.   INTRODUCTION   5     El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO)   7     Concept of the TOGA Program   8     Purpose of this Report   9 2.   GROWTH OF THE TOGA PROGRAM   12     ENSO: A Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Phenomenon   12     Emergence of a Coherent Effort (1970–1984)   14     Development of the TOGA Program   18     Scientific Plan for TOGA (1985)   19 3.   COMPONENTS OF THE U.S. TOGA PROGRAM   22     Observations of ENSO   24     Process Studies   50     Modeling ENSO   66     Prediction   71     TOGA Products   76     Problems and Shortcomings   78 4.   WHAT WE'VE LEARNED   81     Observations of ENSO in the Tropical Pacific   82     Effects of ENSO on the Rest of the Globe   87     Theories of ENSO   96     Working in a Larger Community   106 5.   ORGANIZATION   110     U.S. Organizational Arrangements   111     International Organizational Arrangements   117 6.   APPLICATIONS OF ENSO PREDICTION   123     Development of Applications and Assessments   124     Applications of Regional ENSO Forecasts   127 7.   THE FUTURE   132     What TOGA Didn't Do   133     Obstacles to Progress   135     An International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRICP)   138     GOALS and CLIVAR   139

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Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: Accomplishments and Legacies of the TOGA Program     REFERENCES   141     APPENDICES   165     A. Members of the TOGA Panel   165     B. TOGA Products   166     C. Acronyms and Other Abbreviations   169 LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1.   Schematic of ENSO   6 Figure 2.   Correlations of annual-mean sea-level pressure with the pressure at Darwin, Australia   7 Figure 3.   The major conceptual components of TOGA   22 Figure 4.   Funding for U.S. TOGA   23 Figure 5.   The TOGA In Situ Pacific Basin Observing System   26-27 Figure 6.   An ATLAS (Autonomous Temperature Line Acquisition System) Mooring   38 Figure 7.   Climatology of the near-surface equatorial ocean at 110°W   44 Figure 8.   Composite structure of the intensive operation period for TOGA COARE   51 Figure 9.   Monthly-mean anomalies of sea surface temperature averaged over 5°S to 5°N during the TOGA years   54 Figure 10.   Correlations for predictions of anomalies of equatorial sea surface temperature using fully coupled atmosphere-ocean models   74 Figure 11.   Evolution of sea surface temperature in the tropical Pacific   84 Figure 12.   Total field and anomalies of sea surface temperature for January 1992   85 Figure 13.   Analyses of interannual and lower frequency variations of sea surface temperature throughout the entire Pacific   86 Figure 14.   Organization of TOGA within the United States   111 Figure 15.   International organization for TOGA   118 LIST OF TABLES Table 1.   TOGA data requirements   28 Table 2.   Rain conditions for India and associated phase of ENSO   91

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Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: Accomplishments and Legacies of the TOGA Program Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation Accomplishment and Legacies of the TOGA Program

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