Using the NASA scatterometer (NSCAT) winds for initialization has greatly improved the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory model forecasts of the 1997/1998 El Nino. The improvement is mostly attributed to the better resolved wind field in the southeast tropical Pacific. Because of the simplicity of the model and the short record of the NSCAT data, our model results should be taken as indicative rather than conclusive. Nevertheless, it is crucial to assimilate accurate information into the initial model state to predict the development of El Nino. Satellite-derived wind products certainly have the potential to provide such information for real-time forecasting.
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