A new version of the Lamont forecast model is used to assess the impact of TOPEX/POSEIDON altimeter data on predicting short-term climate change. with emphasis on the 1997/98 El Nino and subsequent La Nina. As compared to forecasts initialized with only wind data, the model's predictive accuracy was improved when the altimeter sea level data are used for model initialization. This is due to the effectiveness of sea level data in correcting the model ocean state. For this particular application, the effect of altimeter sea level observations is comparable to that of tide gauge measurements.
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