Recent News


November Climate Briefing: El Niño Takes the Wheel

Read our ENSO Essentials & Impacts pages for more about El Niño. Tony Barnston provides an overview of the briefing Is it 1997? Rapid strengthening of the ongoing El Niño event over the last several weeks has made headlines, some saying that its strength has eclipsed that of the 1997-98 “super” El Niño event. But Tony Barnston, IRI’s chief climate forecaster, cautions that […]

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El Niño Drives Drought in the Philippines

A strong El Niño event is in place in the tropical Pacific. IRI’s seasonal forecast for the October-December 2015 period, based on the most recent sea surface temperature projections, predicts a strong likelihood of below-average precipitation for regions in the western equatorial Pacific, including much of the Philippines. The strong likelihood of reduced rainfall during […]

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International Conference on El Niño, November 17 and 18

One of the strongest El Niño events ever measured is now underway. It is already causing droughts and flooding in different parts of the world, and affecting food production, water availability, public health and energy supplies in a number of countries. The last major El Niño occurred in 1997/98, wreaking widespread havoc and erasing years of development gains. The world is […]

Figure 1: Annual rainfall in the Sahel from 1900 to 2006, adapted from Mason et al, 2015. The red dots indicate the yearly observations, so the red line indicates variation in climate from year to year (also know as interannual variability). ENSO (see below) is a major influence of interannual variability for many places, especially in the tropics. The blue line represents decadal variability, or the trends in climate that occur over the span of 10-30 years. These clusters of relatively wet or dry years can result in prolonged drought or flooding. The Sahel droughts of the 1970s and 80s show up at this timescale, indicated by the dip of the blue line in this graph. Sometimes trends on the decadal timescale can be counter to long-term trends (>30 years). While a long-term trend is apparent in this dataset (black line), long-term trends caused primarily by climate change are generally more apparent for temperature than rainfall, which tends to be more variable.

Climate Variability: What You Need To Know

Climate change is a fairly constant source of news, but this year’s El Niño is bringing more attention than usual to climate variability–changes in climate that unfold on shorter timescales. These are typically natural swings in our climate, be them year-to-year or decade-to-decade. They tend to be more dramatic than the projected average changes anticipated from climate […]


October Climate Briefing: El Niño Flexes Its Strength

Read our ENSO Essentials & Impacts pages for more about El Niño.   Tony Barnston provides an overview of the briefing Changes from last month’s briefing The El Niño that officially began last March and became a “strong” event in July continues to strengthen, with the event expected to peak in the next few months. Even with the weakening projected […]


Indonesia’s Parched Peatlands Burn Under El Niño

Indonesia on track for worst fire season since 1997 This post contains excerpts from a story published by IRI on View the full story, including data and additional graphics, here.  Written by staff from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Media can contact Francesco Fiondella. Much of western Indonesia is […]


California Drought: Happy New Year?

Using the IRI Data Library to Predict and Track the 2016 Water Year This post is an excerpt from a story published by IRI on, where we are updating the post each month with the latest forecasts. View the full story and forecast maps here.  October 1st marks the first day of the new “Water Year” for […]


New Integration Between Climate Predictability Tool and Data Library

Version 14 of the Climate Predictability Tool features several new updates, the most significant being integration with IRI’s Data Library that allows users to directly download datasets from IRIDL into CPT. The data will automatically be converted into CPT format. IRI scientists frequently update the Data Library and CPT in response to user input from around the world. “It’s the constant feedback […]


September Climate Briefing: More Confidence than Ever

Read our ENSO Essentials & Impacts pages for more about El Niño.   Tony Barnston provides an overview of the briefing   Changes from last month’s briefing An El Niño event is now in full swing, with probabilities of its continuance similar to those forecasted last month and remaining at close to 100% through the first few months of 2016 (bottom […]


Global Nutrition Report Highlights Role of Climate

Climate change is complicating global efforts to end malnutrition, and even small seasonal fluctuations make a difference says a new report.  According to the Global Nutrition Report released this week, there are actions leaders of every country should be taking to end malnutrition in all its forms. Among the report’s key findings: One in three members of […]

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