Understanding ENSO variability and its extrema: A delay differential equation approach


Ghil, Michael, and I. Zaliapin. 2015. “Understanding ENSO variability and its extrema: A delay differential equation approach.” Extreme Events: Observations, Modeling and Economics, edited by M. Chavez, Michael Ghil, and J. Urrutia-Fucugauchi, 63–78. American Geophysical Union & Wiley.


The El-Nino/Southern-Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon is the most prominent signal of seasonal-to-interannual climate variability. The past 30 years of research have shown that ENSO dynamics is governed, by and large, by the interplay of the nonlinear mechanisms, and that their simplest version can be studied in autonomous or forced delay differential equation (DDE) models. This chapter briefly reviews the results of Ghil et al., Zaliapin and Ghil, and Ghil and Zaliapin and pursues their DDE model analysis by focusing on multiple model solutions for the same parameter values and the dynamics of local extrema. It first introduces the DDE model of ENSO variability, reviews the main theoretical results concerning its solutions, and comments on the appropriate numerical integration methods. Novel results on multiple solutions and their extrema are reported and illustrated. After discussing the model's pullback attractor, the chapter explores parameter dependence in the model over its entire 3D parameter space.

Last updated on 08/09/2016