Network analysis reveals strongly localized impacts of El Niño

Jingfang Fan, Jun Meng, Yosef Ashkenazy, Shlomo Havlin, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Climatic conditions influence the culture and economy of societies and the performance of economies. Specifically, El Niño as an extreme climate event is known to have notable effects on health, agriculture, industry, and conflict. Here, we construct directed and weighted climate networks based on near-surface air temperature to investigate the global impacts of El Niño and La Niña. We find that regions that are characterized by higher positive/negative network “in”-weighted links are exhibiting stronger correlations with the El Niño basin and are warmer/cooler during El Niño/La Niña periods. In contrast to non-El Niño periods, these stronger in-weighted activities are found to be concentrated in very localized areas, whereas a large fraction of the globe is not influenced by the events. The regions of localized activity vary from one El Niño (La Niña) event to another; still, some El Niño (La Niña) events are more similar to each other. We quantify this similarity using network community structure. The results and methodology reported here may be used to improve the understanding and prediction of El Niño/La Niña events and also may be applied in the investigation of other climate variables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7543-7548
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number29
StatePublished - 18 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.


  • Climate
  • Dynamic network
  • ENSO


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