The ability to forecast El Niño and La Niña events is extremely important as these events tend to be associated with consistent climate variations in the tropics and can even influence the atmosphere around the world. There are two types of forecasts: those obtained from various ocean–atmosphere models and those obtained from statistical models. These models vary in their skill and sometimes can even do better during certain phases of ENSO than others. Forecasters try to take all this in account when making predictions.
Experimental statistical forecasts of SST anomalies based on current initial conditions. SST data used in these forecasts have been provided by NCEP, courtesy of R. W. Reynolds. Contour interval is 0.3 degrees C.