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El Niño exhibits distinct Eastern Pacific (EP) and Central Pacific (CP) types which are commonly, but not always consistently, distinguished from each other by different signatures in equatorial climate variability. Here we propose an index based on evolving climate networks to objectively discriminate between both flavors by utilizing a scalar-valued measure that quantifies spatial localization and dispersion in global teleconnections of surface air temperature. Our index displays a sharp peak (high localization) during EP events, whereas during CP events (larger dispersion) it remains close to the values observed during normal periods. In contrast to previous classification schemes, our approach specifically accounts for El Niño's global impacts. We confirm recent El Niño classifications for the years 1951 to 2014 and assign types to those cases where former works yielded ambiguous results. Ultimately, we demonstrate that our index provides a similar discrimination of La Niña episodes into two distinct types.
Research news | 2017-06-22
Fisheries in least developed countries among world’s most vulnerable to climate change
Research news | 2017-06-21
Placed-based sustainability efforts often fail to recognise the risk of piling up the environmental pressure elsewhere
Research news | 2017-06-15
How an ongoing project aims to develop positive visions of the Anthropocene for southern Africa and beyond
General news | 2017-06-13
Centre director selected from a global short-list of remarkable candidates demonstrating "extraordinary leadership in mid-career"
Research news | 2017-06-12
New study explores how information and collaboration influence governance networks, and highlights trade-offs and benefits of using adaptive policies
Educational news | 2017-06-12
We seek change makers for LEAP - a new leadership programme on human and planetary opportunities