El Niño is an important quasi-cyclical climate phenomenon that can have a significant impact on ecosystems and societies. Due to the chaotic nature of the atmosphere and ocean systems, traditional methods (such as statistical methods) are difficult to provide accurate El Niño index predictions. The latest research shows that Ensemble Empirical Mode Decomposition (EEMD) is suitable for analyzing non-linear and non-stationary signal sequences, Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) is good at local feature extraction, and Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) can capture the overall information of the sequence. As a special RNN, Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) has significant advantages in processing and predicting long, complex time series. In this paper, to predict the El Niño index more accurately, we propose a new hybrid neural network model, EEMD-CNN-LSTM, which combines EEMD, CNN, and LSTM. In this hybrid model, the original El Niño index sequence is first decomposed into several Intrinsic Mode Functions (IMFs) using the EEMD method. Next, we filter the IMFs by setting a threshold, and we use the filtered IMFs to reconstruct the new El Niño data. The reconstructed time series then serves as input data for CNN and LSTM. The above data preprocessing method, which first decomposes the time series and then reconstructs the time series, uses the idea of symmetry. With this symmetric operation, we extract valid information about the time series and then make predictions based on the reconstructed time series. To evaluate the performance of the EEMD-CNN-LSTM model, the proposed model is compared with four methods including the traditional statistical model, machine learning model, and other deep neural network models. The experimental results show that the prediction results of EEMD-CNN-LSTM are not only more accurate but also more stable and reliable than the general neural network model.
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