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La Nina's Effect on Global Commodities in 2011

Michael Ferrari profile picture
Michael Ferrari

In the weather and climate community, 2010 will be remembered as a year where the strong La Nina pattern exerted a significant influence on global agricultural production, with weather extremes hitting key commercial producing regions across a number of sectors. The

Southern Oscillation index (SOI), a measure of El Nino / La Nina strength and duration, was strongly positive over the last half of the year, and in fact, this may be the strongest La Nina that we have seen since the 1973/74 event. The figure below highlights the intensification of the La Nina over the course of the year.

The numbers on the perimeter show the day of the year, and the SOI is represented by the solid line; we can see that at the start of 2010, the SOI was in negative phase (-10.1, -14.5 & -10.6 for Jan, Feb & Mar 2010 respectively), but then a strong shift occurred during the El Nino – La Nina transition, and the year finished at nearly +27. Further, as the map above shows, the current equatorial Pacific Ocean Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies are still negative, and while some La Nina indicators seem to be approaching a peak and then a return to neutral phase, the current event is still certainly not over.

Statistically, there are certain types of patterns that we can associate with a given La Nina or El Nino year; however, there is no typical event where all expected seasonal weather outcomes manifest themselves, so using this approach, or relying on analog years when attempting to identify potential seasonal impacts can be dangerous. Disclaimer notwithstanding, there are some general relationships that tend to hold up which are highlighted in this map from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. Some of seasonal relationships did verify, and also led

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Michael Ferrari profile picture
Michael Ferrari is a Senior Scientist and Director of Commodities at aWhere, where his research and technology transfer activities focus on improving their global agricultural/climate/life sciences data platform. He is also the founder and principal at Atlas Research Innovations, which provides applied research and bespoke services to clients in the private and public sector, government, and academia. Previously, he was the Director of Agricultural Commodity Research & Risk Management for The Coca-Cola Company, the Director of Informatics and a Principal Scientist at NASA for Computer Sciences Corporation, Vice President of Applied Technology and Commodities at WTI, and a Research Scientist and Commodity Trader at Mars. He spends much of his time building tools and models with sensors and data, creating algorithms, and directing commercial research activities towards the examination of the global food and climate complex from a systems perspective. Michael is a frequent speaker at scientific, commodity and data/technology conferences around the world, where his talks focus on the confluence of human-environmental-technology interaction and the broader relationship of these topics to societal issues including climate, food and energy security, and global change. Michael holds a PhD in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics and Environmental Biophysical Modeling from Rutgers; his doctoral work in numerical modeling was supported by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

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Comments (1)

How long the cycle is? will it already reflect in commodity future price, if not, why? If the cycle is very long, will the production technology already changed when we look back similar position in previous cycles
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