This section of the report will provide a rolling three month update on a monthly basis of the state of the climatic and ecological indicators used in monitoring areas at risk to RVF activity. These indicators include, global SST anomalies patterns, Equatorial Western Indian Ocean (WIO) and Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO: NINO 3.4) SST anomalies, Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) anomalies, Rainfall and anomalies, Normalized Difference Vegetation index anomalies and RVF risk map for Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
1. SOI and SST Indices
The SOI index continued with the trend towards normal but remained negative with a value of -0.8 in January indicating persistence of below normal conditions as has been the case since early fall 2014. Monthly SST anomalies in all NINO monitoring regions have decreased but still warmer than normal, with NINO3.4 SST anomalies at ~ +0.53°C in January. In western Indian Ocean recent warming pattern has dramatically decreased and January shows a cooling pattern with the WIO SST index at -0.52°C indicating the prevalence of colder than normal conditions over this ocean basin. Even though above-average sea surface temperatures (SST) (below) and in all the NINO regions of the equatorial eastern equatorial Pacific were consistent with of El Niño conditions, the overall atmospheric circulation continued to show show very limited coupling with the anomalously warm water. Therefore the combined atmospheric and oceanic state remains in ENSO-neutral state. As in the last five months, nearly all model forecasts predict weak El Niño conditions during the February - April 2015 period. If El Niño emerges, the prediction consensus favors a weak event (3-month values of the Niño-3.4 index between 0.5°C and 0.9°C), with 50-60% chance of El Niño conditions during the next two months, with ENSO-neutral favored thereafter during Northern Hemisphere spring 2015.
Cumulative NDVI anomalies for Africa for November 2014 to January 2015 show positive anomalies concentrated eastern Sudan, Eritrea, eastern Ethiopia, northern Somalia, northwestern Kenya, Botswana and NW South Africa even though the patterns are not spatially coherent. The RVF risk map below was derived from thresholding NDVI anomaly data to detect areas persistent of above normal NDVI. Periods of widespread and prolonged heavy rainfall lead to flooding of dambos and anomalous green up in vegetation, creating ideal ecological conditions for the emergence RVF vectors. For the period November 2014 to January 2015, the RVF persistence model identifies isolated areas in eastern Sudan where ecological conditions would support the emergence of RVF vectors. Enhanced surveillance is advised in these areas.