Postdoc receives grant to predict El Niño

Postdoc Sebastian Mathias Jensen from the Department of Economics and Business Economics has received DKK 2.27 million from Independent Research Fund Denmark to continue his research abroad. He conducts research on how to better predict the weather phenomena known as El Niño and La Niña.

Thanks to the DFF-International Postdoc grant from Independent Research Fund Denmark, Sebastian Mathias Jensen will have the opportunity to spend an extended period of time among collaborators and other experts in econometrics and climate at Vrije University Amsterdam.

“Of course, I am very proud and honored. The grant enables me to start an exciting new research project and, at the same time, strengthen my international network," says Sebastian Mathias Jensen.

El Niño and La Niña are extreme phases of a bigger climate phenomenon known as ENSO, which involves irregular fluctuations in wind and ocean temperatures and atmospheric pressure across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. It is the largest source of interannual variability in the Earth's climate.

El Niño and La Niña affect wind and weather conditions across the globe, causing extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, droughts, fires and floods, as well as outbreaks of diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and cholera.

"With the research project, I hope to contribute to improving our ability to forecast one of the most important climate phenomena, ENSO, at long horizons such that communities and authorities around the world can better prepare for its often extreme consequences," says Sebastian Mathias Jensen, who will also be introducing machine learning methods in state-of-the-art statistical models in order to improve ENSO forecasts.

Global climate change means that ENSO's extreme phases will become more frequent and with even more catastrophic consequences, which is why we need accurate, long-term forecasts of ENSO in the future.