Seminar: A machine learning-based approach to quantify ENSO sources of predictability

Jan. 18, 2023

1:00 – 2:00 pm MST

Mesa Lab Main Seminar Room

Speaker: Ioana Colfescu, NASC



A machine learning-based approach is used to quantify how much the predictability skill of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is attributable to oceanic predictors and their interplay, and to isolate the geographical regions and time scales contributing to the skill. While tropical SST represents the main source of ENSO seasonal predictability skill at scales of up to 1 year, 10mu plays an important role from late fall up to late spring and for timescales of 11 to 21 months in advance. The long-lead signal is generated by a coupled wind-SST mechanism originating in the Indian Ocean and later propagates across the Pacific via the atmospheric bridge mechanism. A linear correlations analysis supports this mechanism, and further suggests the precursor link between SST anomalies in the western Indian Ocean (IO) and anomalies westerlies in the eastern basin originating nearly 2 years ahead of an ENSO event.


I am a Senior Research Scientist working for the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and a Visiting Scientist in the Department of Physics, University of Oxford. My background is in Mathematics and Mechanics followed by a Ph.D. in Climate Dynamics at George Mason University in Virginia (USA). Throughout my career, I have been involved in various projects in different parts of the world (e.g USA, Romania, Scotland, England, Italy) and field campaigns (the Arctic Ocean, Iceland, Italy, UK, Isle of Arran, Scotland). As part of my work in NCAS, I am also coordinating and developing course modules on climate change as well as teaching, mentoring, and supervising post-graduate students. The focus of my research has been understanding large-scale modes of variability (Atlantic Multidecadal Variability) and extreme events; recently I've been transitioning to using  Machine Learning techniques and climate models to improve the understanding of the key processes determining Earth’s climate at long-term scales of variability. Outside work I love photography, spending time with my dog, and camping (especially on the Western coast of Scotland despite the midges).


*This event is for NCAR/UCAR/UCP staff only. For employees, add this event to your calendar