Typhoon Megi and SST anomaly in East Asia

Guest Post by Nonoy Oplas,

Typhoon MEGI (local name “Juan”) has crossed the Philippines’ landmass but still on the western side of the country’s area of responsibility as I write this.

A gasoline station toppled by Megi's strong winds. Photo taken from Business Mirror today.

Megi is the 10th typhoon of the year in this country and among the strongest this year. So far, at least 10 people have died, mostly due to collapsed structures or drowning.

Before MEGI came, Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces were cloudy everyday last week except last Sunday, but then it rained that night and the clouds ruled the sky until today because of the typhoon. Two weeks ago, I was in Jakarta, Indonesia and all four days that I was there, it was cloudy there, with rains in the afternoon.

I checked the sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly to see if La Nina has already settled in East Asia.

This is the SST anomaly as of July 29, 2010. Click on the graph to see a bigger picture. Formation of La Nina — indicated by the movement of cold sea water, the blue color code, from east to west, or more specifically from South America to Asia — was rather weak then. Graph source,http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/anomnight.current.gif

And here’s the SST anomaly as of yesterday, October 18. Compared to the graph above or 2 1/2 months ago, the following are notable: (1) Cold sea water has consolidated in a big part of central Pacific Ocean, especially along the equator.

(2) But the eastward movement of colder than normal Pacific Ocean water has stalled since end-July although the degree of cooling has accelerated. East Asia though, including the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, still has warmer than normal sea water.

(2) North Pacific is now generally cooler than normal compared to end-July. Note the consolidation of cold water south of Alaska.

(3) South Pacific, even South Atlantic, now generally much cooler than normal too.

(4) Indian Ocean also showed the formation of cooler than normal sea water.

Here’s SST anomaly for Nino 4, the region closest to East Asia, as of October 17, 2010. Data is from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. Note that the cooling this year in Nino 4, about -1.2 C colder than normal as of mid-October 2010, is more severe than the cooling of 2007-2008 La Nina, where SST anomaly as of mid-October 2007 was only about -0.5 C. Consider also that we just came from a bad El Nino just a few months back.

The warmer than normal sea water is somehow “trapped” in East Asia and west/north Australia. I am not a meteorologist or any climate scientist to make any intelligent discussion about the implication of this trend in the region’s weather. But perhaps this explains the formation of this rather strong typhoon Megi that lashes out the Philippines for two days now. It should move west or north-west and will soon slam Vietnam or southern China.

The current typhoon and the damages it caused should pose another question mark to the believers of the “man-made warming” claim, at least in east Asia. On the other hand, it might bolster the claims of “man-made climate change” where “global warming makes dry weather drier and wet weather wetter.” What a life.

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29 Responses to Typhoon Megi and SST anomaly in East Asia

  1. Douglas Dc says:

    Trouble is, those things get caught in the Eastbound Subtropical jet, get going and the
    remainder gets more cold air from the Polar Jet, that makes for a nasty Sou’Wester in
    the Pac NW. USA, -give it 10-14 days.
    Glad I’m not flying Air Freight and Charter-did that in the 70’s at the tail end of the last PDO shift, this one’s just starting…

  2. Bob Tisdale says:

    An El Nino releases warm waters from below the surface of the western Pacific (the Pacific Warm Pool) and spreads it across the surface of the central tropical Pacific and sometimes the eastern tropical Pacific. As the El Nino fades and is replaced by the La Nina (like is happening this year), the “leftover” warm water is sent back to the western Pacific (and Eastern Indian Ocean). Much of the ‘leftover” warm water remains on the surface of the west and is spun poleward by the North and South Pacific gyres (along the western boundary currents). To add to the warm water in the west Pacific, during the La Nina, the Pacific trade winds strengthen, reducing cloud cover and allowing more sunlight (Downward Shortwave Radiation) to warm the tropical Pacific. The trade winds also push the warm surface waters created by the additional sunlight to the west, further raising the sea suface temperture anomalies there.

  3. Stephen Wilde says:

    It seems to be becoming more generally accepted that a more negative polar oscillation occurs at a time of less active sun with the mid latitude jets moving more towards the equator.

    In pushing clouds equatorward that should reduce solar insolation into the oceans but the scale of the current La Nina and the general oceanic coolness in equatorial regions seems to go way beyond what could have been caused by such solar effects on their own in the time available since the sun became less active especially since we had a moderate El Nino not long ago.

    So the important question is whether that which we are now observing is a change in the behaviour of the oceans generated from within and nothing directly to do with solar forcing (although perhaps modified by solar effects).

    I’m satisfied that solar variability exerts a top down effect on the air pressure distribution globally in the troposphere via changes in ozone chemistry in the upper atmosphere which then affect the temperature of the stratosphere but I need to firm up on the issue of independent oceanic variability. These recent oceanic changes are looking persuasive as an independent bottom up climate forcing to set against the top down solar forcing.

    The problem with ENSO on its own is its relatively short term influence and the fact that over time individual El Nino and La Nina events tend to cancel out.

    Concentrating on ENSO is rather like looking at wind driven ripples on the ocean surface but ignoring tides and the air circulation giving rise to the winds.

    We really need a better grip on the cyclical changes in the Pacific and all the other ocean basins that occur on longer timescales such as the 30/60 year cycling seen in the temperatures of the Pacific surface waters and which occur over and above the more mundane ENSO phenomenon.

    If the solution were ‘only’solar or ‘only’ oceanic then our observations would readily reveal any such simple and direct connection with a single main forcing. The fact that the observations are so often contradictory especially on shorter time scales clearly indicates that more than one primary forcing is involved with the potential for variable phasing so that each forcing can either supplement or offset the other.

    I think we can restrict our considerations to two such forcings namely sun and oceans. The introduction of a third forcing seems unnecessary at present.

    As regards this thread it would be interesting to know whether the SST anomaly in East Asia might fit in as part of internal oceanic variability. I find it very difficult to imagine that the present distribution of SST anomalies is solar induced.

  4. crosspatch says:

    La Nina is produced by strong trade winds. These cause the warmer waters to be pushed to the Western side of the Pacific along the East coast of Asia. The colder water in the equatorial region generally inhibits cloud development which means that while the ocean surface temperature is cooler due to the upwelling of water in the Eastern Pacific along the coast of South American, it is absorbing more energy from sunlight. So basically it is dredging up deep water, spreading it across the surface where it absorbs sun, and is pushed into the Western Pacific. Equatorial surface temps drop during La Nina but overall ocean heat content rises! It is a bit counter-intuitive but is how I understand it from my reading of Tisdale.

    During an El Nino, the trades slack or can even reverse causing this water to, in effect, “slosh” back East. This warmer surface water increases clouds, increases sea surface temperatures in equatorial region but the water is actually losing heat to the atmosphere during this time and total ocean heat content is falling in that region. Again, my understanding of how I read Tisdale’s various postings on the issue on his blog.

    So as long as we have a la nina condition, we will have warmer than normal waters off the East coast of Asia. Strong trades will pick up a lot of moisture before heading inland. But it isn’t just the sea temperatures increasing the monsoonal rains in Asia this year. Part of it is a sluggish atmospheric steering current where storms tend to stay put and not move as rapidly as they might have in past years. The absolutely torrential monsoons in Pakistan are an example of this where a weather pattern becomes fixed in place and is blocked from moving on.

  5. Wade says:

    Here is what I noticed. I couldn’t help but notice how cool the Gulf of Mexico is. The Atlantic hurricane is coming to an end. I also noticed that the warm water below Alaska has become cold water. Then I noticed the Pacific waters near Asia are much warmer than normal. There is definitely less red in the October picture than in July and a lot more blue.

    To me this says that the oceans are losing heat. Oceans help regulate temperature. That is why the record winter low where I live in North Carolina is lower than the record low of London, England. But the southeastern part of the state has the shape it does because of the Gulf Stream, which goes to England and helps keep it warmer. The average January low in Raleigh, NC is 30 F. In London it is 36 F.

    I fear that we will refer to this past winter as the good old days. The only time I remember a week when the temperature was never above freezing was in the early 1980’s, I think it was 1982 when I was 4. A big snow had fallen and the temperature outside was below 0 F. But I never remember a winter where it never was above freezing with a day of sun and no snow on the ground. Because La Nina, I know my winter will be mild here. But I fear for our future winters.

  6. savethesharks says:

    We really need a better grip on the cyclical changes in the Pacific and all the other ocean basins that occur on longer timescales such as the 30/60 year cycling seen in the temperatures of the Pacific surface waters and which occur over and above the more mundane ENSO phenomenon.

    ======================

    Hi Stephen.

    Enter the Super-ENSO…..

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/297/5579/222

    http://www.ifeanet.org/publicaciones/boletines/22(1)/3.pdf

    -Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  7. Stephen Wilde says:

    crosspatch said:

    “Part of it is a sluggish atmospheric steering current where storms tend to stay put and not move as rapidly as they might have in past years. The absolutely torrential monsoons in Pakistan are an example of this where a weather pattern becomes fixed in place and is blocked from moving on.”

    I agree and that is where I think the top down solar effect comes into play. The current quiet sun is pushing the jets equatorward and restricting the movement of tropical storms.

    In the Atlantic that seems to be preventing hurricale development by reducing the length of sea track available for development. The drier air aloft has come equatorward from the north and is restricting hurricane growth.

    In the Pacific however there is much more space for storms to wander around in so the effect of more equatorward jets has less effect. However it does mean that the storms cannot move poleward as easily so you get more risk of a super typhoon developing and remaining over or near the same area than would normally be the case.

  8. crosspatch says:

    The current quiet sun is pushing the jets equatorward and restricting the movement of tropical storms.

    That isn’t exactly it. If you have a piece of string or yard or thread handy, get it, I will wait (drums fingers). Now lay it out horizontally. Now place one finger “south” of the string and one finger “north” of it and these two fingers should be about a third of the way in from their respective ends. Now move the “south” finger to the North and the “north” finger to the South. You should have something like a sine wave, sort of. That represents the jet stream. That string represents a current of air moving at over 100mph.

    Now below the string is a high pressure system (assuming this is in the Northern Hemisphere), it pushes the string up … it is a “ridge”. North of the string is a low pressure system, it pushes the string down, it is a trough. Now imagine if not only the jet that flows within the string is moving, but imagine that entire wave pattern itself moves to the right as if you placed both hands on top of the entire string and moved the whole thing to the right. That is what normally happens. The wave withing the get moves along the jet.

    What we had this year was a jet that was doing regular jet stuff as far as the stream that the string represents but what was missing was that the wave stood still. It just sat there. That low pressure system sat and sat and sat and it rained and rained and rained. Now the area where the high pressure is, the ridge, it was sunny and hot. And it kept getting hotter and dryer. Remember how there was so much heat in parts of Russia but so much rain in parts of Europe such as Hungary?

    http://www.news24.com/World/News/Hungary-flood-situation-critical-20100605

    They had nearly a month of constant rainfall. So did Pakistan. It wasn’t that the jet changed, it was that the waves that travel ALONG the jet stopped.

  9. crosspatch says:

    “The wave withing the get moves along the jet.”

    Heh, meant ” the wave moves along the jet”.

  10. Stephen Wilde says:

    Crosspatch:

    That is a good description and I accept it as far as it goes.

    However I don’t think it is complete.

    It appears that when the jets are more poleward as during the MWP and up to around 2000 they run faster and tighter around the poles with less propensity for what we see now.

    When the jets are more equatorward as they are now and were to a more extreme extent in the LIA they have space to loop about much more and more frequently get locked into blocking patterns.

    The LIA apparently saw lots of huge slow moving storms in relatively equatorward positions and I remember such happening to some degree in the 60s but not as severely as in the LIA.

    So the jets do move cyclically poleward and equatorward over time and the current Asian storm with more blocking events is typical of a more equatorward jet stream regime.

  11. Bob Tisdale says:

    Stephen Wilde wrote, “It seems to be becoming more generally accepted that a more negative polar oscillation occurs at a time of less active sun with the mid latitude jets moving more towards the equator.”

    Wrong. The error in your claim can be seen in a comparison of scaled sunspot number and the Arctic Oscillation data:

    And the error can be seen in a comparison of scaled sunspot number and the Antarctic Oscillation data:

    The only reason you, and you alone, generally accept “that a more negative polar oscillation occurs at a time of less active sun” is because you don’t bother to look at or rely on data.

    Stephen Wilde wrote, “In pushing clouds equatorward that should reduce solar insolation into the oceans but the scale of the current La Nina and the general oceanic coolness in equatorial regions…”

    Wrong. There is no “general oceanic coolness in equatorial regions” outside of the central and eastern tropical Pacific at the present time. The September 2010 Equatorial Atlantic SST anomalies were +0.56 deg C:

    And the September 2010 Equatorial Indian Ocean SST anomalies were +0.31 deg C:

    FYI: The current weekly SST anomalies (week of Oct 13, 2010) for the equatorial Atlantic is +0.7 deg C and for the equatorial Indian Ocean is +0.22 deg C.

    Stephen Wilde wrote, “The problem with ENSO on its own is its relatively short term influence and the fact that over time individual El Nino and La Nina events tend to cancel out.”

    Wrong. This is a myth. The error with you statement, Stephen, can countered very easily by creating a running total of NINO3.4 SST anomalies, and plotting the running total with time. If the El Niño events were cancelled out by La Niña events, the running total would cycle back and forth across zero. But it does not:

    Do you recognize the curve? Let me scale that running total and compare it to Global SST anomalies:

    For more info refer to the post “Reproducing Global Temperature Anomalies With Natural Forcings” :

    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/01/reproducing-global-temperature.html

    I didn’t bother to read the rest of your comment, Stephen. In a comment on an earlier thread, you wrote to me, “Pull the other one, as they say in UK.”

    They have a saying here in the States, Three strikes, you’re out.

  12. Stephen Wilde says:

    Bob Tisdale:

    i) Sunspot number is not an adequate proxy for the effect of an active sun on the climate. Even so your very first chart shows a slowly increasing positive AO across several historically high solar cycles. The fact that it does not match individual solar cycles is not relevant. There seems to be a slow cumulative effect over multiple cycles.

    ii) The current intensifying La Nina has moved on since September. The majority of the tropics are cooling but the remaining warmth in small locations skews the average. I might be anticipating the development of the La Nina a bit but unless it now stops dead my comment will turn out correct.

    iii) The running total does not cycle back and forth across zero because other forces are at work altering the relative strengths of El Nino and La Nina events over longer time periods. ENSO on it’s own would tend to cancel out. You already well know that I propose just such background effects. ENSO is just ripples in the wind. What matters is the underlying cycling of oceans and tropospheric air circulation systems. The latter increasingly appearing to be susceptible to solar variability.

    No strikes, not out. Is there any more ammo in your locker ?

  13. Eddieo says:

    Interesting discussion Bob and Stephen. Stay civil and let the rest of us learn as we go.
    Are these anomolies deviations from the average for this day of the year?

  14. Bob Tisdale says:

    Eddieo says: “Are these anomolies deviations from the average for this day of the year?”

    I downloaded the SST anomaly data in my earlier comment from the NOAA NOMADS website:

    http://nomad3.ncep.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/pdisp_sst.sh?lite=

    And those SST anomalies are deviations from a monthly (and weekly) climatology that NOAA prepared soon after the satellite-based SST data started. The AO and sunspot anomalies are the deviations from the monthly mean. I downloaded that data from the KNMI Climate Explorer

    http://climexp.knmi.nl/selectfield_obs.cgi?someone@somewhere

  15. Bob Tisdale says:

    Stephen Wilde says: “i) Sunspot number is not an adequate proxy for the effect of an active sun on the climate.”

    Sunspot numbers are an excellent proxy for solar activity. In fact, they’re the most commonly used proxy for solar activity. So your earlier statement, “a more negative polar oscillation occurs at a time of less active sun,” is in error or you’re using another proxy for solar activity. And if you’re using another proxy for solar activity, please identify it and provide a link to a long-term dataset in an easily useable format.

    You wrote, “Even so your very first chart shows a slowly increasing positive AO across several historically high solar cycles.”

    That’s a creative but erroneous interpretation of the two datasets in that graph. Solar cycle 19 (starts 1954) has a high amplitude cycle. It was followed by a number of cycles with lower amplitudes. So, if I start and stop the AO and sunspot datasets at the first and last solar minimums and throw on some linear trends…

    …we can see that the Sunspot Numbers have a negative trend and the AO has a positive trend over the fifty-(plus)-year term.

    You wrote, “The majority of the tropics are cooling but the remaining warmth in small locations skews the average.”

    Nice try at spin, but it doesn’t work. Your earlier statement was about “the general oceanic coolness in equatorial regions”, not the tropics, not the fact that SST anomalies are dropping, and not about “remaining warmth in small locations”. The data shows your statement was wrong. The maps provided as part of the post show your statement was wrong.

    You wrote, “iii) The running total does not cycle back and forth across zero because other forces are at work altering the relative strengths of El Nino and La Nina events over longer time periods. ENSO on it’s own would tend to cancel out.”

    There are no “other forces”, Stephen. You misunderstand what I’ve done. This graph…

    …uses only NINO3.4 SST anomaly data. Nothing more, nothing less. No “other forces”. The running total (to paraphrase the Wikipedia webpage on running total) is the summation of NINO3.4 SST anomalies which is updated each month when the value of a new NINO3.4 SST anomaly is added to the sequence, simply by adding the monthly value of the NINO3.4 SST anomaly to the running total each month. And what that graph shows is that El Niño and La Niña events do not “tend to cancel out.” There are periods (from 1910s to the 1940s and from the mid 1970s to the mid-2000s) when El Niño events dominated, and periods when La Niña events dominated (from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s).

    Curious that the curve of the running total is so similar to global temperature anomalies, don’cha ya think?

    You wrote, “ENSO is just ripples in the wind.”

    And you’re well aware how very wrong that statement is. That’s another failed attempt at misdirection, Stephen.

    ENSO is a self-recharging process that releases heat from the tropical Pacific, primarily though evaporation. The changes in the strength and location of convection and evaporation alter atmospheric circulation patterns. These changes in atmospheric circulation cause global surface temperatures to vary. And the variations in sea surface temperatures resulting from ENSO are integrated by the global oceans through a number of processes. El Niño events release vast amounts of warm water from below the surface of the Pacific Warm Pool and spread it across the surface of the central and eastern tropical Pacific. As noted earlier on this thread, during a La Niña event, the leftover warm water is returned to the Western Pacific and East Indian Oceans, which is why that ocean subset can rise in response to both El Niño and La Niña events. I’ve presented all of this in multiple posts at my website, and many of those posts have been co-posted here at WUWT.

    You concluded, “Is there any more ammo in your locker ?”

    No need for it. You’re attempts to spin and misdirect did not work. You failed to comprehend what I presented with the running total, and you misrepresented the effects of ENSO.

  16. Stephen Wilde says:

    Bob, you are entitled to your opinions as to the significance of ENSO and I cannot fault your general description.

    However I do not share your opinion when it comes to long term climate change.

    Other factors are indeed at work and ENSO responds to them over time. I am entitled to hold that opinion.

  17. Bob Tisdale says:

    Stephen Wilde wrote, “However I do not share your opinion when it comes to long term climate change.”

    Let’s look at the long-term NINO3.4 SST anomaly data and the contribution of ENSO to global temperatures in another way. Using the HADISST NINO3.4 SST anomalies with the base years of 1950 to 1979, the average NINO3.4 SST anomaly from 1915 to 1945 was 0.14 deg C, indicating the tropical Pacific was pumping out more heat than normal during that period. It’s slight, but consider it a small El Niño that lasted for 30 years. Then from 1945 to 1975, the average NINO3.4 SST anomaly was -0.06 deg C, like a very small but long-lasting La Niña, pumping out less heat than normal for 30 years. And then, of course, with those two super El Niño events in the last epoch of the 20th century, the average NINO3.4 SST anomaly from 1975 to 2005 was 0.19 deg C. Again, for thirty years, the tropical Pacific was pumping out more heat than normal. What should global temperatures do in response over those three epochs? They should rise from 1915 to 1945, fall from 1945 to 1975 but at a rate that’s less than the earlier period, and then rise again from 1975 to 2005.

  18. ChrisC says:

    Hello – My first post to this site – not sure how I found you?! Back to the concluding questions of this article – I do not think climate change had anything to do with the strength of Megi – it is just boring randomness. There have been many other stronger typhoons in the past – see http://www.usno.navy.mil/JTWC/

    A much bigger story this year has been the lack of T-storms in the West Pac (not to mention the East Pac). I have been observing the central and north Pac for many years and this has been a quite season indeed. Perhaps it is global warming that caused this! Actually, my theory is that the strong trades associated with La Nina that have been blowing across the central and west Pac have increased the shear in the lower atmosphere, which reduces the ability of heat to concentrate and develop converge in the wind field, which then provides the opportunity for development into a t-storm. I have not done an analysis yet on comparing the ENSO signal to the frequency of t-storms in the west Pac but it would be fun to do…

    Just a note on the effect of the sunspot cycle on climate – not much I believe. Its variation equates to only a small amount of the total solare forcing on this planet, ~0.1% max. Shifts in our orbit around the sun are what have the most effect (naturally occurring) on global climate, I think.

  19. Stephen Wilde says:

    Bob Tisdale says:
    October 20, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Agreed on all that Bob but there is no evidence there that everything you describe is a free standing phenomenon independent of other forcings that affect the relative strengths and timings of El Nino and La Nina events on varying time scales.

  20. Bob Tisdale says:

    Stephen Wilde: In reply to your October 21, 2010 at 10:39 am comment, I’ll be posting an animation in the next few days. We can discuss it again then.

    Regards

  21. Nonoy Oplas says:

    Hi Bob, Stephen, Crosspatch, others, thanks for the comments and the exchanges. They are useful for me. Just an update here: typhoon Megi slammed northern Philippines last Monday then remained stationary for the next 3 days about 350 kms. east of the country. It exited the country only early morning today, heading northeast, going perhaps to southern China. The Sun is still invisible until today as thick clouds and occasional rains rule the sky.

  22. Werner Brozek says:

    I would like to sincerely thank both Stephen Wilde and Bob Tisdale for a very thought provoking discussion! I learned a lot. Stephen wrote: “The running total does not cycle back and forth across zero because other forces are at work altering the relative strengths of El Nino and La Nina events over longer time periods.” The following has ocean currents and six other things that could be “other forces”: http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/seven_theories.pdf.
    This whole debate seems very much a chicken and egg type of thing. It is something like the graphs Al Gore showed that seemed to show that CO2 and temperatures went up together. However closer inspection showed temperature in ancient times went up hundreds of years sooner than CO2.

    In the present discussion, we can use an analogy of a large beach ball that has an iron weight attached to it and which bobs up and down with the huge ocean waves. The question being debated seems to be whether the beach ball and weight correspond to El Nino and La Nina respectively, or whether the crests and troughs of the ocean waves correspond to El Nino and La Nina respectively. Of course in the latter case, the beach ball and weight would be other forcings.

    I am not sure if I have the answer and I could be wrong, but for the moment, I have to agree with Bob. I checked the following site: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/people/klaus.wolter/MEI/rank.html
    It showed that the numbers for the strength of the 1997/1998 El Nino were 61 in June of 1997 and more or less remained that way until April of 1998 when it was 60. On the other hand, with two exceptions, the Hadcrut3 data set (http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadcrut3gl.txt) showed an anomaly of 0.6 or higher from February 1998 to August 1998. From this one example at least, it seems to me that it was the El Nino that was driving things. Or am I missing something?

  23. Stephen Wilde says:

    Thanks Werner,

    I think that the problem Bob has (in my opinion) is that total ocean heat content rose during the period of large El Nino events in the late 20th century whereas Bob’s contention about El Nino representing a discharge of energy to the air should have resulted in a decrease in ocean heat content over the period.

    I actually agree with his discharge (El Nino) and recharge (La Nina) proposition on short timescales so the question is as to why it didn’t apply then on the longer timescale.

    My contention is that one has to introduce external (to ENSO) forcing factors.

    I propose that it was because the increased solar insolation into the oceans when the jets shifted poleward meant that more energy was entering the oceans from that increased insolation than was being discharged by those El Nino events.

    Thus in that instance the high level of solar activity caused the jets to shift poleward, the increased solar insolation to override the discharge process and there you have an external solar forcing affecting the ENSO process.

    When the sun is weak the whole thing can go in reverse so one could see reduced insolation to the oceans more than offsetting the recharge process from La Nina for a net decline in ocean heat content despite that La Nina.

    Or any combination between the two extremes.

    So on that basis the ENSO process is susceptible to an external (solar) forcing which affects the long term relationship between El Nino and La Nina.

    I also propose that the relative strengths of El Nino and La Nina can be affected on long timescales by energy stored in the oceans in the past resurfacing from the thermohaline circulation but that is another story.

  24. Werner Brozek says:

    Thank you very much for your reply Stephen. In my previous post I talked about a chicken and egg situation and then proceeded to show that the El Nino came first, at least in 1998, and later the temperatures spiked. Then after I submitted it, I realized that this point was not the main issue. But rather the issue seemed to be why the next set of El Ninos, about 60 years later, started at a higher point than 60 years earlier. Bob Tisdale showed a graph of NINO3.4SST Anomalies. Could anything be proven one way or the other if that graph were superimposed on the following by GISS: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/

  25. Stephen Wilde says:

    Well, Werner, both Bob’s analysis and the GISS products show the upward steps during the 20th century from one 60 year cycle to the next. That pattern is well recognised but the cause is unknown though it does suggest a forcing mechanism in the background which is independent of but which does influence the ENSO cycle.

    The most obvious and simplest solution would be that such stepping occurs throughout the 500/1000 year climate cycle from MWP to LIA to date with downward steps for 500 years or so then upward steps for the next 500 years.

    I have now proposed that the cause of that background trend is in fact the observed variation in solar activity over those periods. The level of TSI is largely irrelevant because it is too small. What does seem to happen is that variable solar proton quantities entering the mesosphere alter the ozone chemistry above 45Km so as to send the temperature of the mesosphere and stratosphere in the opposite direction to that which is usually assumed i.e. a more active sun actually cools the mesosphere and stratosphere thereby increasing the temperature differential between surface and stratosphere which causes the tropopause to rise and the jets are drawn poleward.

    That leads to an opening of the blinds so to speak because the cloud bands shift away from the equator where insolation is strongest and so global albedo declines and more energy enters the oceans to skew ENSO in favour of stronger El Ninos with consequent upward stepping every 60 years or so.

    The reverse process when the sun is getting less active.

    I have been canvassing that proposition more forcefully since the Haigh data became available a few weeks ago because that data confirmed my previously published opinion that in reality a more active sun must cool and not warm the stratosphere and the solar proton causation looks like a very persuasive mechanism.

    I’m waiting to see if someone can falsify that proposal but no sign of that so far.

  26. Werner Brozek says:

    Hello Stephen,

    The first graph at: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2406928/posts?page=77
    shows an excellent correlation between global mean temperature and solar activity at certain times but totally falls apart at other times. I do not know if it would be helpful to you. Or could Dr. Spencer’s ocean tropic anomalies help you prove your case? What I have in mind is using the months of March and April along with September and October when the sun can more or less be assumed to be above the equator. Then during times of very high or very low solar activity, the lower troposphere should respond to less or more condensation and heating. Naturally, El Ninos and La Ninas have to factored in since if the ocean is very cold, less water will evaporate at the equator. Then less can condense higher up and the ocean tropic anomalies will be cold. A case in point is this past September when the overall anomaly was 0.60, but the ocean tropic anomaly was only 0.17 if I interpreted it correctly.

  27. Stephen Wilde says:

    Yes, Werner, the lack of correlation at certain times is why my hypothesis also proposes independent (or semi independent) ocean cycles that sometimes supplement and sometimes offset the oceanic effect. Furthermore the phasing of the solar and oceanic cycles seems to shift over time because the lengths of the solar and oceanic cycles are not the same.

    Furthermore one really needs to measure the net effect at any given time of the cycles in all the ocean basins and not just PDO although that is the largest. I see fom your last few sentences that you do appreciate that point.

    My comments about the effects of varying solar activity are only one half of the equation.

    I am resigned to the fact that the historical data that I need most is simply not available. There is no clear data about average latitudinal jet stream positioning and no clear data about the moment by moment net global effect of all the ocean sea surface temperatures combined.

    Similarly there is no clear data about past temperature trends in the mesosphere from solar proton activity on mesospheric ozone.

    Thus I must rely on ongoing observations to support or rebut my hypothesis.

  28. Werner Brozek says:

    Hello Stephen, As you know, Dr. Spencer has huge amounts of data available for every month since December 1978. Is it possible there is some more detailed raw data in the satellites that you may wish to have access to? For example if the “ocean tropics” anomaly is 0.17, and if the average sea surface temperature was a certain quantity, would it be helpful for you to know exactly how the average sea surface temperature varied for every few hundred kilometres and how the troposphere above it varied at the same time? Perhaps the specific data you need is there, but it just needs to be made meaningful and analyzed for the specific thing you are looking for. Or perhaps he does not have exactly what you would like, although he may have other data to let you infer what you need to know to either prove or disprove your point.

  29. Stephen Wilde says:

    ” would it be helpful for you to know exactly how the average sea surface temperature varied for every few hundred kilometres and how the troposphere above it varied at the same time?”

    Yes, if in global netted out terms that would be useful but even if Roy does have the raw data I wouldn’t be able to process it because I have a day job and this is just a hobby albeit an intense and lifelong one.

    Mind you, the way things are going with modern sensors and the economic and political importance of the whole issue I think many things are going to become clearer over the next year or two so I think I’ll just wait and update my hypothesis as necessary.

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