Stochastic theories for the irregularity of ENSO

Richard Kleeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon is the dominant climatic fluctuation on interannual time scales. It is an irregular oscillation with a distinctive broadband spectrum. In this article, we discuss recent theories that seek to explain this irregularity. Particular attention is paid to explanations that involve the stochastic forcing of the slow ocean modes by fast atmospheric transients. We present a theoretical framework for analysing this picture of the irregularity and also discuss the results from a number of coupled ocean-atmosphere models. Finally, we briefly review the implications of the various explanations of ENSO irregularity to attempts to predict this economically significant phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2511-2524
Number of pages14
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number1875
StatePublished - Jul 28 2008


  • Climate oscillation
  • ENSO
  • Irregular
  • Predictability
  • Stochastic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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