4th CLIVAR Workshop on the Evaluation of ENSO in Climate Models: ENSO in a changing climate

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 to Friday, July 10, 2015
Event City: 
Event Attendance: 
Event Contact: 
Eric Guilyardi
Event Description: 

The El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the dominant mode of interannual climate variability on Earth, with worldwide impacts. Because ENSO involves a complex interplay of ocean and atmospheric processes, accurately modelling this climate phenomenon with coupled General Circulation Models (GCMs), and understanding and anticipating its behaviour in a warming climate, still pose major challenges. Over the past three decades, new theoretical insights, together with longer and more comprehensive observations, increased computer power, and improved physical parameterizations of subgrid-scale processes, have resulted in better understanding of ENSO dynamics and much improved simulations of ENSO in CGCMs.

While many of the basic properties of ENSO are now well understood and simulated, the community is still faced with the problem of addressing its detailed mechanisms and impacts (e.g. extremes, inter-event diversity, physical feedbacks, asymmetries between El Niño and La Niña), their statistical robustness in light of short observational records, and how these evolve in a decadally- to centennially-varying background climate. A review of available and potential observations is needed, in order to plan for a future Tropical Pacific Observation System (TPOS). Metrics to evaluate ENSO and the tropical Pacific in models need to be designed. In addition, a review of new developments -- including recent research on extreme El Niño events, ENSO predictability, and ENSO non-linearity – is needed to consolidate existing understanding and plan for future research.

The World Climate Research Program (WCRP) has long recognised the central importance of understanding and predicting ENSO and this workshop is the first to be organised under the new CLIVAR ENSO Research Focus. Beyond addressing CLIVAR goals, this workshop will contribute to several of WCRP’s Grand Challenges.

The specific goals of the workshop are to review, discuss and report on:

  • The current mechanistic understanding of ENSO (extremes, diversity, predictability,…), particularly in the context of a warming climate.
  • Observations of the tropical Pacific (paleo, historical, atmospheric, oceanic), recommendations for future observing systems (TPOS), and metrics to evaluate and intercompare models.
  • The role of the tropical Pacific in global-scale decadal variability including the recent slowdown in global surface temperature increase.
  • Anticipated changes in ENSO properties over the coming decades.


The workshop will be limited to 50 active researchers, of whom 30 will be invited. PhD students and postdoctoral researchers are invited to propose a contribution to the workshop; from among these, a selection of 20 presentations (oral or poster) will be made by the scientific committee. Applications, including an abstract, a CV and a statement of interest, should be sent to lei.han@clivar.org before March 1st.

The agenda of the workshop can be downloaded here.


The local organizers of the workshop are:



Some ECS participants are kindly co-sponsored by: