Remember The “Very Early Warning Of Next El Niño” Paper By Ludescher? “False-Alarm Rates Below 0.1”!

Very recently the Australian Meteorological Institute issued a bulletin advising that the chance of an El Niño in 2014 had “clearly eased“. And if one were to occur, it was “increasingly unlikely to be a strong event“.

El Nino NOAA

Like this year’s El Niño itself, reliable prediction method remains elusive as ever. Graphic: NOAA.

This of course all flies in the face of multiple recent warnings of a “super El Niño ” being in the works and set to push global temperatures to a new all-time record highs – all coming from leading institutes and experts. Once again these forecasts are turning out to be completely wrong.

Efficient 12 month forecasting scheme”

That the experts are all wrong should be quite surprising because not long ago a team of scientists led by Josef Ludescher, which included climate pope Prof. Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber of the renowned Potsdam Institute, published a paper titled: Improved El Niño forecasting by cooperativity detection“, which purported the ability of predicting El Niño events up to one year in advance with high certainty.

The authors announced that they had “developed an approach based on network analysis, which allows projection of an El Niño event about 1 y ahead“, and claiming they can “develop an efficient 12-mo forecasting scheme” and “achieve some doubling of the early-warning period”.  Moreover they added:

Our method is based on high-quality observational data available since 1950 and yields hit rates above 0.5, whereas false-alarm rates are below 0.1.”

Today we know that the probability of the heavily ballyhooed super El Niño occurring this fall has been evaporating rapidly. What happened? In climate science it often seems that the “0.1 chance” of something not happening in reality occurs 90 percent of the time.

The very same authors followed with another paper earlier this year appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled: “Very early warning of next El Niño“. The abstract this time stated that already in September 2013 they had been forecasting “the return of El Niño in late 2014 with a 3-in-4 likelihood”.

At the online Austrian news agency here, lead author Ludescher is even quoted saying:

Compared to the previous approaches, our methods offer very clear advantages: Firstly we reach a very high rate of accuracy and secondly prognoses can be made for a time period of up to one complete year.”

Note how the author had been quite convinced by the new “unique avenue” for predicting El Niño events well in advance.

But now that this year’s projected El Nino is failing to show up, maybe the scientists had indeed been a little too optimistic with their one-year forecast.

Even the 2-month forecasts are failing!

Maybe a forecast a whole year in advance is asking for too much. But surely the new Ludescher method at least should yield much better results for the much shorter 2-month forecast. After all, if it’s 76% accurate one year in advance, it really ought to be 90% or better for a measly 2 months ahead. Here as well it’s turning out that climate scientists are unable to get the El Niño forecast correct for just 2 months in advance, never mind an entire year! At his KlimaLounge blog, for example, Stefan Rahmstorf wrote here in May warning that a powerful El Niño was on the march, and used a graphical animation to “impressively show” the development. Today that “powerful El Niño” also is no longer in any discussion.

So even the 2-month forecasts are unreliable. Scientists are baffled once again.

Also a look back at Real Climate here is worth a read: They wrote that this year’s El Niño had only a “2 in 10 chance” of fizzling.

El Niño to send “world climate off the rails”

Back in May, citing experts at NOAA, the Climate Prediction Center (CDC) and the International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society, German online Die Welt here wrote: “The world climate could go off the rails over the coming months” and that the probability of an El Niño occurring in fall and winter were 80%.

To his credit, Die Welt journalist Joachim Müller-Jung added that we’ve heard such predictions before:

Also in 2012 they calculated that there was a more than 70 percent chance an El Niño would occur. The anomaly fizzled with hardly a murmur or fanfare.”

Again, in climate science the improbable has a way of occurring far more more often than not. Many scientists are merely shooting in the dark. Clearly there is still a lot they still do not understand at all about the climate.


12 responses to “Remember The “Very Early Warning Of Next El Niño” Paper By Ludescher? “False-Alarm Rates Below 0.1”!”

  1. DirkH

    “Our method is based on high-quality observational data available since 1950 and yields hit rates above 0.5, whereas false-alarm rates are below 0.1.”

    It would be interesting to know whether they have finally learned to divide past data into a training set and a validation set before they made that claim.
    I strongly doubt it.

  2. Ric Werme

    I don’t suppose there’s much excitement to be had in sorting through failed predictions of super El Ninos to learn where things went wrong even though it seems we could learn something from it.

    Or, we could spread a new climate aphorism: Cold PDO – El Nino won’t show.

    Hmm, I rather like it. I’ll try it out in a few venues. Zero Google hits at the moment.

  3. Curious George

    How many trillions did we spend on preventing global warming? And first results are here .. El Nino has been mitigated (probably; let’s wait a little). And the Arctic did not melt. Keep up your probabilistic work, Prof. Schellnhuber.

  4. TimiBoy

    It seems much of their stuff might work, if the Globe was warming. Clearly it no longer is. In any other field, and in any Business, for people to be this dumb for this long spells game over. I wish I was a Climate Scientist, that I could prognosticate to my heart’s content and get paid for it.

  5. Joachim

    ….”world climate of the rails…” . The PIK “science” at its best….once again proven!
    When will this outfit be closed down?

    1. DirkH

      I think they’re irrelevant already; but the state keeps institutes like these around for several reasons
      – you know where the inmates are
      – you control them by paying them
      – you have a place where you can place your own incapable offspring into nice-sounding positions where they can do no harm
      – if necessary you can use the propaganda output produced by them to scare the population into a desired direction.

      Other examples for such institutions are the Wuppertal Institute or the Frankfurt School; in which Marxists are being fed and watered to produce some philosophical underpinning for the European Total State.

  6. Frank

    From the Ludescher paper ( )

    “This suggests that a strong El Niño event in late 2014 (as indicated by our scheme) can make 2015 a record year, because air temperature rise lags Pacific warming by about 3 mo.”
    There was hope… anyway:
    “We are aware of the reputational risks associated with our announcement, yet formulating falsifiable hypotheses is at the heart of the scientific method.”
    Yes, there were reputational risks and they materialised 🙂

  7. oeman50

    It seems to me someone predicts an El Nino or “Super” El Nino every year. Those prediction have not born fruit in the last 10(?) years or so. So when an El Nino does arise, it will be loudly proclaimed as “proof” of global warming and the people who predict it every year and get it wrong will suddenly be prophets. Even a stopped clock is correct twice a day.

  8. lemiere jacques

    predictions were right, nature is wrong…another evidence of climate disruption…
    fortunately they have been wrong, imagine if they have been right only once!!!

    It is a mysterious must have faith in models an predictions even if they has never predict anything before…this is normality in climate science…

  9. Pointman

    Slight typo Pierre, CDC should be CPC, though if you regard climate alarmism as a highly contagious disease, CDC might be right after all …


  10. handjive

    Here is a little record of recent El Niño failure from Australia’s BoM:

    2009: Drought and fire here to stay with El Nino’s return
    “David Jones, the head of the bureau’s National Climate Centre, said there was some risk of a worsening El Nino event this year, but it was more likely to arrive in 2010 or 2011.”

    March 2009:
    A vast area of Queensland was affected by some of the worst flooding on record this year.

    June 2010: La Nina to drop buckets on Australia

    January 2011:–11_Queensland_floods
    The 2010–11 floods killed 38 people in Queensland. The Queensland floods were followed by the 2011 Victorian floods .

    2012:Flooding across southwest Queensland and northern New South Wales in February 2012 left thousands of properties and buildings flooded or isolated.
    3 years, 3 floods.

    November 2013: Fiercer El Nino weather ahead

    June17 2014: Most-watched El Niño gathers pace

    Consistent. You must give the BoM that.

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