The Texas ENSO Bassmaster Classic

A bit of a tiff developed over at Dr. Roger Pielke’s place over disagreements on the recent Texas heatwave being attributed to AGW or to ENSO. Bob Tisdale has something to say about that. Bob writes:

“In one email, Roger referred to my post about how poorly the new NCAR model hindcasts certain temperature indices, including ENSO, and Nelsen-Gammon’s decided to call my discussion about ENSO a red herring. Little does he know, I have observation-based data to back my claims.”

A Texan ENSO fishing in the Pacific - using the correct tackle is important - wow those fish can jump!

John Nielsen-Gammon Comments Regarding Climate Models And The Process Of El Niño-Southern Oscillation

by Bob Tisdale

INTRODUCTION

I can see no basis for John Nielsen-Gammon’s attempt to attribute the record high temperatures in Texas to the hypothesis of Anthropogenic Global Warming. It appears that Nielsen-Gammon, like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), relies on climate models to conclude that most of the rise in Surface Temperatures, globally and regionally, is caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, their reliance on models to support that hypothesis is unfounded. The climate models show little to no skill at hindcasting past global and regional natural variations in Sea Surface Temperature, which, through coupled ocean-atmospheric processes, would have impacts on the temperature and drought in Texas. Since the climate models are incapable of replicating the natural modes of multiyear and multidecadal variability in Sea Surface Temperatures, the models are of little value as tools to determine if the warming could be attributed to manmade or natural causes, and they are of little value as tools to project future climate on global or regional bases.

And based on John Nielsen-Gammon’s comment about El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), it appears he has overlooked the significant contribution ENSO can make to the multiyear and multidecadal variations in Global Sea Surface Temperature anomalies, which are so obvious during the satellite-era of Sea Surface Temperature observations.

BACKGROUND

Roger Pielke Sr., has published at his blog a series of emails between he and John Nielsen-Gammon. Roger’s post is dated November 10, 2011 and is titled John Nielsen-Gammon and I Continue Our Discission. Pielke Sr.’s initial post on this topic, dated November 4, 2011, is titled NBC Nightly News Regarding The Recent October Snowstorm And A Quote From John Nielsen-Gammon. In it, Pielke Sr. refers to Nielsen-Gammon’s September 9, 2011 blog post at the Houston Chronicle website Chron.com titled Texas Drought and Global Warming. All three posts are worth a read and provide the fuel for this post.

In one of the emails reproduced in his recent post, Roger Pielke Sr. provided Nielsen-Gammon with a link to my November 4, 2011 post An Initial Look At The Hindcasts Of The NCAR CCSM4 Coupled Climate Model. (Please read this post also, if you haven’t done so already. It shows how poorly the recent version of the NCAR CCSM coupled climate model replicates the surface temperatures from 1900 to 2005.) And Nielsen-Gammon’s response to it included:

“When driven by observed oceanic variability, the models do a great job simulating the atmospheric response.  With the present drought, it’s not a matter of predicting the oceans and atmosphere.  We know the present ocean temperature patterns, so we can estimate their contribution very well from both observations and models.  The models’ difficulty in simulating the statistics of ENSO itself is a red herring.”

First, I have no basis from which to dispute Nielsen-Gammon’s opening sentence of, “When driven by observed oceanic variability, the models do a great job simulating the atmospheric response”.  I have not investigated how well the models actually perform this function. But that’s neither here nor there. Why? Well, if the hindcast and projected representations of sea surface temperatures created by the models are not realistic, then the atmospheric response to the modeled oceanic variability would also fail to be realistic.

Second, Nielsen-Gammon wrote, “We know the present ocean temperature patterns, so we can estimate their contribution very well from both observations and models.” Nielsen-Gammon’s sentence does not state that the models provide a reasonable representation of ocean variability. So the fact that Nielsen-Gammon can estimate the oceanic contributions from observations AND from models is immaterial. The models are so far from reality, they have little value as climate hindcasting, or projection, or attribution tools, as stated previously.

Also, if you’re new to the subject of climate change, always keep in mind, when you read a climate change post like John Nielsen-Gammon’s, where the author constantly refers to models and model-based studies (in an attempt to add credibility to the post?), that it may not be the same climate model being referred to. Models have strengths and weaknesses, and climate scientists use different models for different studies. Depending on the coupled ocean-atmosphere process being studied, even if one organization’s model is used, model parameters may be set differently, they may be initialized differently, they may use different forcings, etc. So, while two model-based climate studies may use the same model, the model runs used to study the atmospheric response to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, for example, may not incorporate the same forcings that are used to hindcast past climate and project future climate. In fact, there are model-based studies where observed Sea Surface Temperature data are used to force the climate models.

MORE EXAMPLES OF HOW POORLY CLIMATE MODELS DEPICT SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE VARIATIONS

In addition to the post linked earlier in which I compared climate model outputs to observed data, I have also illustrated and discussed in detail the differences between the observed sea surface temperature anomalies and those hindcast/projected by climate models in the two posts titled:

Part 1 – Satellite-Era Sea Surface Temperature Versus IPCC Hindcast/Projections

AND:

Part 2 – Satellite-Era Sea Surface Temperature Versus IPCC Hindcast/Projections.

In those posts, I showed the very obvious differences between observed Sea Surface Temperature data and the model mean of the climate models used in the IPCC AR4 on global and ocean-basin bases, during the satellite-era of sea surface temperature measurement, 1982 to present. Here are a few examples:

Figure 1 is a time-series graph of the satellite-based observations of Global Sea Surface Temperatures versus the model mean of the hindcasts/projections made by the climate models used in the IPCC AR4. It shows how poorly the linear trend of the model mean compares to the trend for the measured Global Sea Surface Temperature anomalies. The models overestimate the warming by approximately 50%.

Figure 1

Figure 2 compares the linear trends for the observations and the model mean of the IPCC AR4 hindcasts/projections of Sea Surface Temperatures on a zonal mean basis. That is, it compares, for the period of January 1982 to February 2011, the modeled and observed linear trends, in 5-degree-latitude bands (80S-75S, then 75S-70S, etc., from pole to pole) from the Southern Ocean around Antarctica north through to the Arctic Ocean. It clearly shows that, in the models, the tropics warm faster than at higher latitudes, where in reality, that is clearly not the case. This implies that the models do an extremely poor job of simulating how the oceans distribute warm water from the tropics toward the poles. Extremely poor.

Figure 2

In those two posts, I not only illustrate the failings of the models on a Global basis, but I also illustrate them on an ocean-basin basis: North and South Pacific, East and West Pacific, North and South Atlantic and Indian Ocean. There are no subsets of the models that come close to the observations on a time-series basis and on a zonal-mean basis.

ON ATTRIBUTION

John Nielsen-Gammon notes in his article, after he changed attribution from “greenhouse gases” to “global warming”, that:

The IPCC has not estimated the total century-scale contribution to global warming from anthropogenic greenhouse gases, but has said that the warming since 1950 was probably mostly anthropogenic.  So it seems reasonable to estimate that somewhere around two-thirds of the century-scale trend is due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas increases. That is to say, the summer temperatures would have been about one or one and a half degrees cooler one half to one degree cooler without the increases in CO2 and other greenhouse gases. [John Nielsen-Gammon’s boldface and strikes.]

I cannot see how Nielsen-Gammon can make that claim when the IPCC’s model depictions of sea surface temperature variability over the past 30 years, which are coupled to global and regional variations in temperature and precipitation, differ so greatly from the observations. I truly cannot. The models are so different from observations that they have no value as an attribution tool. None whatsoever.

ON ENSO BEING A RED HERRING

The last sentence in the first quote from John Nielsen-Gammon above reads, “The models’ difficulty in simulating the statistics of ENSO itself is a red herring.” As a reference, Animation 1, is the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-related comparison from my post that Roger Pielke Sr. linked for Nielsen-Gammon (An Initial Look At The Hindcasts Of The NCAR CCSM4 Coupled Climate Model).It shows how poorly the models hindcast the frequency, magnitude, and trend of ENSO events. In that post, I explained why the failure of climate models to reproduce the frequency and magnitude of ENSO events was important. Yet John Nielsen-Gammon characterized my illustrations and discussion as a “red herring”.

Animation 1

Here’s what I wrote, in part, about Animation 1:

The first thing that’s obviously different is that the frequency and magnitude of El Niño and La Niña events of the individual ensemble members do not come close to matching those observed in the instrument temperature record. Should they? Yes. During a given time period, it is the frequency and magnitude of ENSO events that determines how often and how much heat is released by the tropical Pacific into the atmosphere during El Niño events, how much Downward Shortwave Radiation (visible sunlight) is made available to warm “and recharge” the tropical Pacific during La Niña events, and how much heat is transported poleward in the atmosphere and oceans, some of it for secondary release from the oceans during some La Niña events. If the models do not provide a reasonable facsimile of the strength and frequency of El Niño and La Niña events during given epochs, the modelers have no means of reproducing the true causes of the multiyear/multidecade rises and falls of the surface temperature anomalies. The frequency and magnitude of El Niño and La Niña events contribute to the long-term rises and falls in global surface temperature.

My illustrations and discussions of ENSO in that post are not intended to divert anyone’s attention from the actual cause of the rise in global temperatures, which is what I assume John Nielsen-Gammon intended with the “red herring” remark. The frequency and magnitude of ENSO events are the very obvious cause of the rise in Sea Surface Temperatures during the satellite era. And that isn’t a far-fetched hypothesis; that is precisely the tale told by the sea surface temperature data itself. One simply has to divide the data into logical subsets to illustrate it, and it is so obvious once you know it exists that it is hard to believe that it continues to be overlooked by some members of the climate science community.

Recently I started including two illustrations of ENSO’s effect on Sea Surface Temperatures in each of my monthly Sea Surface Temperature anomaly updates. (Example post: October 2011 Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomaly Update) Refer to the graphs of the “volcano-adjusted” East Pacific Sea Surface Temperature anomalies and of the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies for the Rest of the World. I’ve reposted them here as Figures 3 and 4, respectively.

Note Regarding Volcano Adjustment: I described the method used to determine the volcano adjustment in the post Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies – East Pacific Versus The Rest Of The World, where I first illustrated these two datasets. The description reads:

To determine the scaling factor for the volcanic aerosol proxy, I used a linear regression software tool (Analyse-it for Excel) with global SST anomalies as the dependent variable and GISS Stratospheric Aerosol Optical Thickness data (ASCII data) as the independent variable. The scaling factor determined was 1.431. This equals a global SST anomaly impact of approximately 0.2 deg C for the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption.

Back to the discussion of the volcano-adjusted East Pacific and Rest-of-the-World data: Let’s discuss the East Pacific data first. As you’ll quickly note in Figure 3, based on the linear trend produced by EXCEL, there has been no rise in the Sea Surface anomalies for the volcano-adjusted East Pacific Ocean Sea Surface Temperature anomaly data, pole to pole, or the coordinates of 90S-90N, 180-80W, for about the past 30 years. The El Niño events and La Niña events dominate the year-to-year variations, as one would expect, but the overall trend is slightly negative. The East Pacific Ocean dataset represents about 33% of the surface area of the global oceans, and there hasn’t been a rise in sea surface temperature anomalies there for three decades.

Figure 3

Since we’ve already established that Global Sea Surface Temperature observations have risen during that period (Refer back to the observation-based data in Figure 1), that means the Rest-of-the-World data is responsible for the rise in global Sea Surface Temperature anomalies. But as you’ll note in Figure 4, the volcano-adjusted Sea Surface Temperature anomalies for the Rest of the World (90S-90N, 80W-180) rise in very clear steps, and that those rises are in response to the significant 1986/87/88 and 1997/98 El Niño/La Niña events. (It also appears as though the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies of this dataset are making another upward shift in response to the 2009/10 El Niño and 2010/11 La Niña.) And between those steps, the Rest-of-the World Sea Surface Temperature anomalies remain relatively flat. How flat will be illustrated shortly.

Figure 4

Note: The periods used for the average Rest-Of-The-World Sea Surface Temperature anomalies between the significant El Niño events of 1982/83, 1986/87/88, 1997/98, and 2009/10 are determined as follows. Using the NOAA Oceanic Nino Index(ONI) for the official months of those El Niño events, I shifted (lagged) those El Niño periods by six months to accommodate the lag between NINO3.4 SST anomalies and the response of the Rest-Of-The-World Sea Surface Temperature anomalies, then deleted the Rest-Of-The-World data that corresponds to those significant El Niño events. I then averaged the Rest-Of-The-World SST anomalies between those El Niño-related gaps.

I have in numerous posts discussed, illustrated, and animated the variables associated with the coupled ocean-atmosphere process of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) that cause these apparent upward shifts in the Rest-of-the-World Sea Surface Temperature anomalies. My first posts on this were in January 2009. The most recent ones are from the July 2011: ENSO Indices Do Not Represent The Process Of ENSO Or Its Impact On Global Temperature and Supplement To “ENSO Indices Do Not Represent The Process Of ENSO Or Its Impact On Global Temperature”.Those two posts were written at an introductory level for those who aren’t familiar with the process of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). In the initial post, I further illustrated the actual linear trends of the Rest-of-the-World data between the significant ENSO events, reproduced here as Figure 5. They are indeed flat.

Figure 5

And in the supplemental post, I further subdivided the Rest-of-the-World Sea Surface Temperature data into two more subsets. The first to be illustrated, Figure 6, covers the South Atlantic, Indian and West Pacific Oceans. As shown, Sea Surface Temperature anomalies decay between the significant ENSO events, just as one would expect.

Figure 6

And for the North Atlantic, Figure 7, which is impacted by another mode of natural variability called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), the linear trends between those significant ENSO events are slightly positive, also as one would expect. And the short-term ENSO-induced upward shifts are plainly visible in Figure 7 and are responsible for a significant portion of the rise in North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature anomalies over the past 30 years.

Figure 7

CLOSING

This post clearly illustrates that John Nielsen-Gammon failed to consider that climate models prepared for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR4 have little to no basis in reality. When one considers the significant differences between the observed Sea Surface Temperature anomaly variations and those hindcast/projected by climate models, the models provide no support for his conclusion that most of the rise in Surface Temperatures, globally and regionally, was caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

This post also clearly illustrated that “The models’ difficulty in simulating the statistics of ENSO itself is”…NOT…“a red herring.” The process of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation was responsible for most of the rise in global sea surface temperature anomalies over the past thirty years.

SOURCES

For the sources of data presented in this post, refer to the linked posts from which the graphs were borrowed.

ABOUT: Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations

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102 thoughts on “The Texas ENSO Bassmaster Classic

  1. Thanks a lot for your outstanding work, Bob.
    Fig. 1 is great! I guess the modelers are very proud of being able to get the dent from Mt. Pinatubo after 1991 right… but everything else is wrong again…
    I think we see a growing tendency to improve the correlation by adjusting the past temperature record, rather than improving the models – as they’re getting bigger and bigger, complexity grows exponentially. So it becomes easier to pay a guy like Hansen to silence the data.

    And as if by magic, it looks like the model should correlate much better with GISTEMP (hope I got the right time series there):

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp-dts/from:1979/mean:3/plot/uah/mean:3

  2. … we didn’t have the usual steady wind from the south … more like southwest which means hot and dry – which it was …

    ‘splain that please.

    PS. Living and observed from the DFW area.

    .

  3. “The process of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation was responsible for most of the rise in global sea surface temperature anomalies over the past thirty years.”

    Precisely, so we then have to consider where that oceanic warmth came from given that at the same time there was a 30 year run of strong El Ninos.

    El Nino should be a discharge phase for energy from the ocean whereby the energy from the oceans warms the troposphere. I agree wholeheartedly with Bob on that. However that should result in a decline in ocean heat content but that did not happen. Ocean heat content continued to rise despite the run of strong El Ninos so what is really going on ?

    AGW proponents would presumably aver that it was due to more human CO2 emissions warming the air that warmed the oceans but that could never have transferred so much energy from air to water so fast because the thermal capacity of water is some 1000 times greater than that of air. It would take millennia for warmer air to transfer sufficient energy to the oceans to produce the observed outcome.

    As it happens global cloudiness decreased over the period and the surface air pressure distribution moved poleward with a widening of the equatorial air masses leaving more equatorial oceans cloud free.

    There is the answer. More solar energy getting into the oceans to fuel BOTH stronger El Ninos and an increase in ocean heat content. Indeed the increase in ocean heat content is what fuelled the increase in dominance of El Nino over La Nina.

    Since about 2000 cloudiness has increased, El Nino strength relative to La Nina has begun to decline and the rise in tropospheric temperatures has at least stopped and may be about to change to a falling trend. The surface pressure distribution is moving back equatorward as evidenced by all the recent reports of negative polar oscillations and more meridional mid latitude jets.

    The change in trend was coincident with the decline in solar activity from the peak f cycle 23.

    How much more obvious does it need to be ?

    Keep it simple. The shifting climate zones have made fools of climatologists.

    There has been no change in system energy content, hence Trenberth’s missing heat. Instead we just see a change in the distribution of thermal energy at the surface in response to a change in the rate of flow of solar energy through the system and out to space.

    Our surface sensors simply record the rate of flow of energy past them and are therefore not representative of any change in total system energy content. More equatorial winds flowing poleward will result in higher recorded temperatures and more polar winds flowing equatorward will result in lower recorded temperatures. Either way there need be no change in overall system energy content.

    That is why the satellite sensors show a much reduced variability.

    Even the satellite sensors do not reflect any change in total system energy content. When the system tries to gain energy the outward flow just increases to eliminate the gain and the satellites record more outgoing longwave. When the system tries to lose energy the outward flow decreases in an attempt to cancel out the loss and the satellites record less outgoing longwave.The satellites are not necessarily recording any change in system energy content merely a change in the rate of energy flow past them at a given moment in a given location.

    All that the satellites do is record the varying rate of energy outflow as the system constantly adjusts the rate of energy flow to maintain equilibrium.

    That is why the Earth’s total energy content is now little different from that which obtained several billion years ago at the time of the so called faint sun when the sun was some 30% less powerful than today.

    Are there any serious objections to that scenario ?

  4. Yes, but, as the IPCC has noted, their idea of climate science “isn’t quite empirical”.

    So, they won’t care how many observations you have to support your ideas. Only their models count.

  5. Stephen Wilde says: “Precisely, so we then have to consider where that oceanic warmth came from given that at the same time there was a 30 year run of strong El Ninos.”

    That’s as far as I got in your comment, Stephen, because, using Tropical Pacific Ocean Heat Content data, it’s already been explained. Start with the 1973/74/75/76 La Nina.

    That multiyear La Nina established the “base” of warm water. The coming El Nino events depleted part of it, and the subsequent La Nina events replaced even less. So there was a long-term decay until the freakish 1995/96 La Nina, which established the fuel for the 1997/98 El Nino. Then the 1998/99/00/01 La Nina recharged the OHC discharged during the 1997/98 El Nino.

    Now I know you have an aversion to data, but using data, do you have another explanation?

    The tropical Pacific OHC graph is from the most recent OHC update:

    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/april-to-june-2011-nodc-ocean-heat-content-anomalies-0-700meters-update-and-comments/

  6. Stephen Wilde says:
    November 12, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Excellent analysis Stephen. A very easily followed systemic approach. One that GCR’s and Gama radiation entering the atmosphere would cause the greatest changes.. Again the sun and its magnetic waves control the overall cloud cover. Hence the major changes allowing warming or cooling.

    I think that someone once said… its the sun stupid!

    Bill

  7. But Dr. Tisdale
    Postmodern “science” has models=data. If real observation, previously referred to as data, does not agree with the model then the real world observations are wrong and need adjustments.

    I hope I cleared things up for you. ;)

  8. Good post Bob.

    I might adjust the ocean SSTs in a little different way for the volcanoes (assuming they were temporarily reduced by 0.2C to 0.25C in the two big eruptions). Putting this temporary reduction back in, then provides a more stable (lower than current) trend and a more closer relationship to the ENSO (possibly without the step changes).

    In any event, if the climate models cannot simulate / do not reproduce the ENSO, then they are not anywhere close to reality because it is clearly a large component of the trends and the variability.

  9. Ross Sheehy says: “Is there any credible research into what causes the El Nino/La Nina phenomena?”

    It depends on what level you’re looking for. If you’re looking at introductory explanations of the process, Bill Kessler of NOAA has a excellent description:

    http://faculty.washington.edu/kessler/occasionally-asked-questions.html

    And my Introduction to ENSO is better illustrated:

    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/an-introduction-to-enso-amo-and-pdo-%e2%80%93-part-1/

    If you’re looking for scientific explanations, a few were mentioned in the closing paragraph (57) of Giese and Ray 2011. (I read it this week, which is why I’m referring to it):

    http://soda.tamu.edu/documents/2011_JGR_Giese_Ray.pdf

    You could start with the references they provided and expand from there, since papers many times include alternate explanations. I think you’ll find that there are about a half dozen competing explanations.

  10. Yes Bob, I know all that, but where do you think the high rate of recharge came from during those La Ninas?

    The sun was active, the jets moved poleward, the equatorial air masses expanded with more solar input to the oceans so overall the strength of El Ninos increased over the period relative to La Ninas.

    My concept is identical to yours save that I go one step further to the ultimate energy source.

    I am not averse to data,Tha data one needs is very simple and I have set it out. More active sun, more poleward jets, less global cloudiness, more solar input to the oceans, faster recharge during La Nina, increasing ocean heat content despite historically powerful El Ninos.

    All that is data. No need to get bogged down in minutiae.

  11. Bill H says:
    November 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm
    Stephen Wilde says:
    November 12, 2011 at 11:37 am

    “Excellent analysis Stephen. A very easily followed systemic approach. One that GCR’s and Gama radiation entering the atmosphere would cause the greatest changes.. Again the sun and its magnetic waves control the overall cloud cover. Hence the major changes allowing warming or cooling.”

    Thanks Bill, but I disagree on one point. I don’t see how cosmic ray variations could plausibly alter the surface air circulation in the way that we observe.

    I favour solar induced changes in the vertical temperature profile at the poles caused by chemical processes involving ozone and with different effects at different levels.

    I particularly note the comments by Joanna Haigh in connection with the unexpected finding that ozone above 45km INCREASED at a time of less active sun. I am awaiting further data on that point.

  12. “Ross Sheehy says: “Is there any credible research into what causes the El Nino/La Nina phenomena?”

    Well there is that link that Bob referred you to but it refers to a chicken and egg problem and just leaves it hanging.

    I have created a new concept to account for it as follows:

    Due to the ITCZ having a mean position north of the equator there is an imbalance of solar energy input either side of the equator. Over time that imbalance builds up and periodically results in a pulse of energy discharging across the equator from the southern hemisphere in the ENSO pattern we observe.

    I think the surface pressure distribution and thus the winds change as a result of the SST changes so that resolves the chicken and egg problem.

    Keep it simple.

  13. Stephen Wilde says: “Yes Bob, I know all that, but where do you think the high rate of recharge came from during those La Ninas?” And you continued, “The sun was active…”

    During the 1973/74/75/76 La Nina the Solar Cycle was dropping from Solar Cycle 20, which looks like an average cycle in magnitude. The 1995/96 La Nina occurred toward Solar Minimum at the end of SC22. Those are not “active” periods in anyone’s imagination. Your explanation needs some work, Stephen.

    Regards

    • “Those are not “active” periods in anyone’s imagination. ”

      Cycle 20 was an average (ish) cycle amongst a series of above average cycles.

      My explanation stands.

      The relevant timescale is 1000 years peak to peak as from MWP through LIA to date. Taking the 30 year period as a whole my account is the only one that fits the observations.

  14. From http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/09/texas-drought-and-global-warming/ (my bold):
    ‘The general model consensus is that precipitation is likely to decrease a bit, but it’s not a sure thing. Some models at one extreme have precipitation increasing across Texas, while others have a substantial decrease.’ and

    ‘Models have varying degrees of success in even being able to produce a La Niña, and changes are not consistent among models.’

    This appears to lend credence to Bob’s statement ‘it may not be the same climate model being referred to.’ and makes me (a non-scientist but an interested party due to Australia’s carbon tax) wonder why models are so often touted as ‘proof’ of AGW.

  15. Bob, your comment, which I agreed with, referred to a 30 year period and it is the entire 30 year period that I was describing.

    You then switched to a couple of short lived La Nina spells during cycle 20 in a determined effort to disagree.

    I don’t think your reactions to my contributions are logical.

  16. “That multiyear La Nina established the “base” of warm water. The coming El Nino events depleted part of it, and the subsequent La Nina events replaced even less. So there was a long-term decay until the freakish 1995/96 La Nina, which established the fuel for the 1997/98 El Nino. Then the 1998/99/00/01 La Nina recharged the OHC discharged during the 1997/98 El Nino.”

    Yep, clear as crystal.
    During the present double-la-Nina the Pacific is recharging for a new El Nino. The longer la Nina lasts, the hotter El Nino will be.

  17. Yet another brilliant, glorious post from Bob Tisdale. Everyone should save this one.

    Tisdale writes:
    “This post also clearly illustrated that “The models’ difficulty in simulating the statistics of ENSO itself is”…NOT…“a red herring.” The process of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation was responsible for most of the rise in global sea surface temperature anomalies over the past thirty years.”

    Of course, Nielsen-Gammon thinks that ENSO is a Red Herring. Warmista do not do natural processes unless they can be treated as statistical noise or epiphenomena of radiation.

    The entire approach to climate based on computer models is not just wrong but wrong-headed. It will never lead scientists to empirical reality. It should be abandoned except for analytic purposes.

    I believe that Bob Tisdale’s contributions to climate science over the last three years are far and away the most important contributions by anyone writing about climate science. He deserves all the big prizes.

  18. Stephen Wilde says:
    November 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm
    “Ross Sheehy says: “Is there any credible research into what causes the El Nino/La Nina phenomena?”

    Do you mean credible empirical research? Research that might lead to reasonably well-confirmed physical hypotheses that can explain and predict ENSO behavior?

    The answer is a shameful, flat-out No. Our government does not fund actual empirical research into climate phenomena. It funds only computer model fantasies, paleo-fantasies, and statistical magic tricks.

  19. Bob Tisdale says:
    November 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Robw says: “But Dr. Tisdale…”

    Robw, there’s no Dr. in front of my last name. Only my first name Bob.

    I’m not sure. How about an honorary WUWT doctorate?

  20. Stephen Wilde says:
    November 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Interesting note is solar wind also thins the polar region atmospheres. thus black body radiation is increased. My point with GCR’s is simple. The ionization process is one that can change global cloud cover by 3% in hours, not days… Thus if the solar wind is high global cloud cover will reduce and allow day time heating of the oceans. During times of solar low the reverse is true.

    When you add that the polar regions are allowing greater amounts of heat to escape and increased cloud cover reducing day time warming of the oceans it becomes clear in short order that the two in conjunction will have a significant effect on not only polar jets and their width but the amount of heat the oceans equatorial can contribute.. La Nina is the shut down of heat output to conserve ocean temp. not unexpected in times of low solar output and reduced Heat absorption on the earths surface.

    IMHO it is quite possible for the low output of the sun to cause all of which your premise states.

    Bill

  21. Well, I suspect there are multiple variables behind ENSO and some of them may very well have been mentioned. The bottom line, however, appears to be clouds. Exactly how and why they increase/decrease is open to several explanations.

    One very simple one is pure feedback. It gets cool and the air holds less moisture which leads to less clouds. More sun is available to heat the oceans and eventually it gets to the atmosphere where the warmth leads to more evaporation and more clouds. That starts the cooling process and we cycle back and forth. Throw in a little chaos and not much else is required.

  22. Bob Tisdale says:
    November 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    “During the 1973/74/75/76 La Nina the Solar Cycle was dropping from Solar Cycle 20, which looks like an average cycle in magnitude. The 1995/96 La Nina occurred toward Solar Minimum at the end of SC22. Those are not “active” periods in anyone’s imagination. ”

    ———————————————————————————————————-

    Bob,

    Active is a relative term.

    Even an average cycle with reduced global cloud cover will result in oceanic warming of the mid latitudes. That is Stephens point, if I’m not mistaken. While the solar cycle was in decline the average heat absorption remained high. As i remember this was a time of high US temps during the summer and hard cold winters (it local i know). the real point is what was the polar jet doing and how was it affecting global weather/climate? again it was a wide cold jet which allowed warming of the polar regions and cooling of the mid latitudes..

    Bill

  23. Bob:
    Thank you for taking the time to do this research. There are two sides to the AGW debate and it is quite refreshing to read, what I consider, an honest presentation.

  24. “During the present double-la-Nina the Pacific is recharging for a new El Nino. The longer la Nina lasts, the hotter El Nino will be.”

    That would be implicit from Bob’s description but ocean heat content is not rising much is it ?

    That throws us back to my description.

    The increased cloudiness from about 2000 can only be reducing solar energy into the oceans so as to cause the La Nina recharge process to falter.

  25. BillH, agreed that the solar wind could be relevant. Anything that increases ozone destruction above the poles and above 45km when the sun is more active would do the trick. Increased nitrous oxide descending through the polar vortex is just one candidate.

  26. Ocean heat content continued to rise despite the run of strong El Ninos so what is really going on?

    Stephen, I wouldn’t put too much reliance on the pre-Argo OHC. Argo shows no significant rise in global OHC.

    AGW proponents would presumably aver that it was due to more human CO2 emissions warming the air that warmed the oceans but that could never have transferred so much energy from air to water so fast because the thermal capacity of water is some 1000 times greater than that of air. It would take millennia for warmer air to transfer sufficient energy to the oceans to produce the observed outcome.

    The heat flow is from the oceans into the atmosphere. There is never any significant heat flow from the atmosphere to the oceans. All the atmosphere can do is impede heat loss from the oceans.

    Bob’s work shows that only the India ocean has had a significant OHC increase in the Argo age and I’d point the finger at the aerosol brown cloud over India that stretches as far south as the Maldives.

    I think this is also the cause of the small rise in South Atlantic OHC, due to Indian Ocean heat being transferred by the Benguelen Current.

  27. Theo Goodwin:
    Of course, Nielsen-Gammon thinks that ENSO is a Red Herring. Warmista do not do natural processes unless they can be treated as statistical noise or epiphenomena of radiation.

    Our government does not fund actual empirical research into climate phenomena. It funds only computer model fantasies, paleo-fantasies, and statistical magic tricks.

    Not sure I’d go too far with this line of argument. What I’ve read from Nielsen-Gammon strikes me as the work of someone who is prepared to follow the empirical evidence wherever it leads. He clearly shares some of the Anthony’s concerns about accurate data. Take a look, for example, at “Historic and Future Droughts in the Big Bend Region of the Chihuahuan Desert.”
    Notice the extended attention to station meta-data. Even to the extent of citing and using information from the surfacestations project for Orogrande, Jornada Experimental Station, Roswell, State University, and Balmorhea.

  28. Stephen Wilde says: “I don’t think your reactions to my contributions are logical.”

    And your ability to alter timescales at will astounds me, Stephen.

    That’s enough on this thread.

    Regards

  29. Bill H says: “Active is a relative term.” And you continued, “Even an average cycle with reduced global cloud cover will result in oceanic warming of the mid latitudes. That is Stephens point, if I’m not mistaken.”

    Yes, active is a relative term, and with respect to Stephen’s conjectures, they are just that, conjecture. They are not supported by data. He and I do this run-around all the time. Nothing new.

  30. And on clouds,

    Polluted air (air containing anthropogenic aerosols), in contrast, usually contains much higher concentrations of water-soluble particles, which means pollution-rich clouds tend to have more numerous, but smaller, droplets. The small droplets make polluted clouds look brighter than they would otherwise be. Just as many bits of crushed ice give light more surfaces to reflect off—appearing brighter than a solid cube of ice—if the water in a cloud is divided into a larger number of smaller droplets, it will scatter more light and become more reflective.

  31. Philip Bradley says: “I think this is also the cause of the small rise in South Atlantic OHC, due to Indian Ocean heat being transferred by the Benguelen Current.”

    The ACC might also assist in the South Atlantic OHC rise. There’s been a drop in the South Pacific OHC.

  32. Another great article. I, too, have puzzled over the chicken vs egg thing that others comment on, above.

    Richard M says: “…pure feedback. It gets cool and the air holds less moisture which leads to less clouds. More sun is available to heat the oceans and eventually it gets to the atmosphere where the warmth leads to more evaporation and more clouds. That starts the cooling process and we cycle back and forth. Throw in a little chaos and not much else is required.”

    Yes, Richard, but that doesn’t fully explain the magnitude and mechanism of the ENSO pendulum. One neglected factor is the effect of ocean temperature on seawater density and, especially, viscosity. During La Nina, upwelling cold water in the eastern Pacific eventually presents a great enough resistance to equatorial surface winds, that they slow and diverge, thus triggering El Nino. Cooled, higher density air above and west of the upwelling water also presents a greater obstacle to medium altitude winds, assisting the process.

  33. “Yes, Richard, but that doesn’t fully explain the magnitude and mechanism of the ENSO pendulum. ”

    Yes, I agree. That’s why I added the chaos comment, but I think it needs even more than that like an amplification factor. The upwelling, the trade winds, the PWP, changes in atmospheric pressure seem to all be involved. Could all be tied to the current geography. Once again, it could be simple feedback that starts the process and these elements (and others) take over to increase the amplitude.

    One could even hypothesize that tropical cyclones could be one chaotic factor as well.

  34. juanslayton says:
    November 12, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Thanks. I will look for some empirical work in his publications. In the meantime, what is his problem with ENSO? I bet his reasoning about ENSO is purely a priori.

  35. petermue says November 12, 2011 at 11:50 am

    (Maybe M.A. Vukcevic or Volker Doormann can give a more extended explanation)

    … still waiting for the simple ‘answer’ (or comment) about the ‘coupling’ of theory to observed meteorology this year (re: Texas and the hot wx); perhaps the ‘wizards of smart’ cannot conjure an answer?

    .

  36. It is really important that everyone understand that there is no physical science in climate science; that is, there is none that goes beyond Arrhenius’ physics about the behavior of CO2 molecules in the atmosphere. Because of IPCC hype and hype from many other corners, it is very easy to come away with the opinion that there is some physical science under there but it is not very good. Wrong. There is none.

    There is no physical science of ENSO. There are collections of temperature measurements and some loose observations about cool waters upwelling at various places in the oceans during La Nina. That is about it. There are no reasonably well confirmed physical hypotheses about atmosphere, ocean, radiation, you name it that can be used to describe the natural regularities that make up La Nina and, for that reason, there are no rigorous predictions about La Nina.though there can be those loose things we call “forecasts.”

    As for the models, they treat La Nina as statistical noise. They do not treat it as a natural process that has its own integrity. So, it is no surprise that models cannot hindcast La Nina phenomena. By the way, Richard Betts who is a chief modeler at the MET Office in England has verified on the Bishop Hill blog that ENSO is treated as statistical noise in the models.

    To undertake the empirical research necessary to create a physical science of ENSO, there must be more satellites with more capabilities, more ARGO diving buoys, some ocean going vessels, some aircraft, and some more things.

  37. Thanks Bob, the heat wave in Texas this past summer was caused by a high pressure system that hangs over Texas every summer. They are sometimes weak and others strong, nothing new here in Austin. Lived here since 1972 and it has not changed. Look back in recorded and written history and it is the same. Just like in Moscow last year, except here they generally last all summer long.

  38. This is an educative post, thank you Bob.
    Still reading, going back to dictionary info to understand the debate and learning.
    Sorry to read in a previous post of your parents, but glad to read you had the opportunity to spend such time with them both. Neat, and all the best with your new adventures.

    A question however. Is that red fish really a herring??

  39. Bob, I am unaware and do not care the level of your academic qualifications. I have a great deal of appreciation for your posts.

    cheers

  40. Bob Tisdale says:
    November 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm
    >>
    Stephen Wilde says: “Precisely, so we then have to consider where that oceanic warmth came from given that at the same time there was a 30 year run of strong El Ninos.”
    >>

    Instead of being so dismissive at the same time as openly admitting to not having read beyond the first line, why don’t you learn some humility and consider what other have to say? You may actually learn something.

    I was about to post to point out what you have been told a dozen times already and saw Stephen has already covered it.

    Having managed to spot a correlation between between global temperatures and a subset of global temperatures (which is not actually totally unexpected) you go on to conclude causation.

    Your hand waving commentary about Ninos and Ninjas only explains the medium term ups and downs. What you wilfully ignore _in your own graph_ is a steady increase in ocean heat content. If you were arguing for the other side you’d be quite happy to predict ice free Himalayas.

    While some may say you have to fight fire with fire, I don’t think fighting BS with BS is ever effective.

    Take a step back from promoting your pet theory and start being a bit more scientific , since that it what you claim your approach is.

    Please have the humility and good manners to read the rest of Stephen’s post before dismissing it.

  41. For God’ sake! When will people stop saying that there are no physical models to describe the ENSO phenomenon. There are dozens of possible models that have been proposed and you can read about (the preliminary musings of) mine here:

    http://astroclimateconnection.blogspot.com/2011/11/el-ninos-and-extreme-proxigean-spring.html

    This blog entry briefly outlines the main results of my research from about two years ago. I have moved on considerably from this work and have actually identified a physical mechanism that I believe naturally explains the main characteristics of the ENSO phenomenon. It may also explain some of the apparent teleconnections between different climate systems around the world.

    Like any research, however, it often takes years for this information to get into peer-reviewed journals. To meet the rigorous standards of peer-review, a researcher(/s) must be willing to devote hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of their time to assemble an argument and present it a scientific valid form. Since it is more likely that skeptical researcher can swim across the Sahara desert in a wet suit than get funding to conduct this difficult type of research, it is often painstakingly done by self-funded “amateurs” like Bob Tisdale using their meager life savings and the sweat of their brow.

    Bob has chosen the non-peer reviewed blog postings method to present his work (and more power to him). While this give him the advantage of laying out his research to a wide internet audience it has the added danger that his work will not be taken seriously by scientists in the field because it lacks peer review. ( I genuinely hope that for Bob’s sake that this is not the case).

    I have chosen to present my results in peer reviewed journals. This is a choice that I have made because I believe that it is important to turn scientific juggernaut around using one peer-reviewed scientific argument at a time [Note: I do not believe that any of my ideas will necessarily solve even a tiny fraction of the climate debate. Clearly, I am just one tiny voice amongst many.]. This has the advantage that any concepts and ideas that I get published will have to considered in the mix of the scientific debate and compared to the evidence at hand. These concepts and ideas may not pass the muster but at least I will be one of many voices raising (peer-reviewed) scientific arguments against the religious dogma of the high-priests of AGW….. (I mean) the arguments of the consensus scientists.

    The down side is that I (like many others who float around this blog) cannot openly discuss the details of what I have found on the internet without endangering the peer-review process. This makes me sound like some sort of mysterious troll who chimes in every now and then to give a cryptic message that extols the blog readers to patiently wait for some future breakthrough at some as yet undefined future date. Such is the bane of those who live by the [blunt] sword of “peer-review”. Like many other “amateur” scientists dabbling in the filed of climate change, All I can say is trust me and wait for my proposal to pass through the hallowed arch-way of peer review.

  42. Stephen Wilde:
    >>
    Due to the ITCZ having a mean position north of the equator there is an imbalance of solar energy input either side of the equator. Over time that imbalance builds up and periodically results in a pulse of energy discharging across the equator from the southern hemisphere in the ENSO pattern we observe.
    >>

    Sounds very credible as an idea. There’s no glass wall between the major Coriolis rotations of the N and S Pacific. If water gets sufficiently warmer/cooler on one side, that could cause the abduction of cooler water from one side to the other. This would presumably require a build up to overcome the detente of the persistent currents.

    A closer look at any ARGOs in that region may provide a means of supporting or refuting the hypothesis.

    Did you think of that all by yourself ? I’m impressed ;)

  43. P. Solar says: “Your hand waving commentary about Ninos and Ninjas only explains the medium term ups and downs. What you wilfully ignore _in your own graph_ is a steady increase in ocean heat content.”

    First, I have already written numerous posts about the increase in OHC, which is something Stephen is well aware of. Second, this post was not about OHC, but surface temperature and ENSO. Third, since Stephen shifted topics to OHC, in his typical discussion of the rise in OHC, he attempts to explain it with a decrease in cloud cover caused by solar, but he fails to provide data to support his conjecture, and when offered data that contradicts his conjecture, he shifts the timespan of the discussion. Fourth, the rise on OHC may appear to be a steady increase on a global basis, but it is not steady when divided into subsets. ENSO, shifts in Sea Level Pressure in the North Atlantic and Pacific basins, and AMO/AMOC are significant contributors to the rise in OHC since the 1970s. Fifth, if your comment about the steady rise pertains to the tropical Pacific OHC graph I linked for Stephen, in addition to the 1995/96 and 1998/99/00/01 La Nina events, one also has to consider the increase in sampling that took place in the 1990s. The TAO Project buoys are the primary source of temperature-at-depth readings in the tropical Pacific during that period, and there was a significant increase in coverage because the buoys were being installed. That would also need to be factored into any consideration of a long-term trend.

    The animation is from this post:

    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/toa-project-sea-air-and-sea-surface-temperature-data/

  44. The Earth has a complex thermostat with inputs and outputs, the leads and lags due to its rather chaotic behaviour, give us pain and headaches as to trying to make sense of it.

    The heat input to our little blue ball, in the music of the spheres dance that is our solar system is the sun, there is no other heat. However there is a lot of cold around us.

    The sun and our distance from it does vary some what, as also the various output parameters of the sun vary, this tied to our dance around the galaxy gives us enough variables to cause all sorts of climate changes.

    That our thermostat tends to keep us at 15C and a 1013 mb is a wonder, that a trace gas in the atmosphere can cause us to run into thermogedon on an oxygen, nitrogen, watery world is fantasy. Thank you Bob and Anthony and Willis and all other real thinking people on this site.
    We owe you much for your hard work.

  45. P. Solar: Let me expand on my earlier (November 13, 2011 at 1:29 am) comment. The topics of discussion of this post are John Nielsen-Gammon’s faith in climate models, his conjecture based on them, and his calling my discussion of ENSO in an earlier post a red herring. To counter this I presented how poorly climate models hindcast Sea Surface Temperature and presented the multiyear impacts of ENSO on Sea Surface Temperature. That’s my post in a nutshell. Stephen’s initial and subsequent comments, and the comments of those replying to him, have little to nothing to do with the subjects of this post. Stephen has effectively hijacked this thread. Scroll up through the comments and see how many of them are responses to his comments and not the post. Those who are new here, who want to learn more about the subjects being discussed in my post, are now being distracted, and possibly confused, by Stephen’s introduction of a totally different subject. This is commonplace for him. If I write about the satellite era of Sea Surface Temperatures, for example, he discusses paleoclimatology. Authors understand this will happen, but it doesn’t please us. So if you feel if my reply to him was rude, I was responding to his rudeness.

    My “pet theories”, to use your description of my posts, unlike Stephen’s, are based on, and supported by, data of multiple variables. In my numerous posts about the process of ENSO, I have confirmed my understandings with data, including Cloud Amount anomalies, Downward Shortwave Radiation anomalies, Trade Wind strength anomalies, Sea Surface Temperature (Absolute and Anomalies), Sea Level anomalies, Depth-Averaged Temperature anomalies, Warm Water Volume anomalies, Ocean Heat Content anomalies, Precipitation anomalies, Lower Troposphere Temperature anomalies, Land Surface Temperature anomalies. I’ve provided animated maps of most of those, and I’ve animated maps of equatorial Pacific Ocean current strength and direction. I’ve taken the time to do this to support my posts and to help educate readers about the process of ENSO and its multiyear aftereffects

    In the future, I will change my tack with Stephen. I will remind him of the topic(s) being discussed in the post, remind him that I do not appreciate his attempt to hijack the thread, and suggest he write a post on the conjecture he wishes to promote since it so interests him.

    Regards

  46. Oh dear. I didn’t mean to cause such a kerfuffle. To my mind the comments I made seemed germane to the thread.

  47. “Did you think of that all by yourself ? I’m impressed ;)”

    Yup. Haven’t seen it anywhere else.

    The relevance to this thread being that if the models don’t have the basic mechanics of the process right then as Bob rightly says they aren’t going to be able to allocate causation correctly for any climate observations that might be affected by ENSO.

  48. Great post as usual Bob.

    I am going to throw this information in just for kicks. Since it seems to link the sun to the ocean ossilations.

    NASA Finds Sun-Climate Connection in Old Nile Records

    …Alexander Ruzmaikin and Joan Feynman… with Dr. Yuk Yung… have analyzed Egyptian records of annual Nile water levels collected between 622 and 1470 A.D. at Rawdah Island in Cairo. These records were then compared to another well-documented human record from the same time period: observations of the number of auroras reported per decade in the Northern Hemisphere. Auroras are bright glows in the night sky that happen when mass is rapidly ejected from the sun’s corona, or following solar flares. They are an excellent means of tracking variations in the sun’s activity…..

    Feynman said that while ancient Nile and auroral records are generally “spotty,” that was not the case for the particular 850-year period they studied.

    …The researchers found… The Nile water levels and aurora records had two somewhat regularly occurring variations in common – one with a period of about 88 years and the second with a period of about 200 years….

    …….said Ruzmaikin. “The Nile River provides drainage for approximately 10 percent of the African continent…. in equatorial Africa. Since Africa’s climate is interrelated to climate variability in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, these findings help us better understand climate change on a global basis.”

    …… The authors suggest that variations in the sun’s ultraviolet energy cause adjustments in a climate pattern called the Northern Annular Mode, which affects climate in the atmosphere of the Northern Hemisphere during the winter. At sea level, this mode becomes the North Atlantic Oscillation, a large-scale seesaw in atmospheric mass that affects how air circulates over the Atlantic Ocean. During periods of high solar activity, the North Atlantic Oscillation’s influence extends to the Indian Ocean. These adjustments may affect the distribution of air temperatures, which subsequently influence air circulation and rainfall at the Nile River’s sources in eastern equatorial Africa. When solar activity is high, conditions are drier, and when it is low, conditions are wetter…….

    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/features.cfm?feature=1319
    WOW, climate scientists actually looking at REAL data in the written records and finding a posible solar/ocean oscillation connection…. I am amazed NASA allowed this to be published.

    A second study:

    The 400-Year Wet-Dry Climate Cycle in Interior North America and Its Solar Connection

    ….Several high-resolution paleoclimatic records from lakes and peatlands in the northern Great Plains (NGP) show some regular patterns of late Holocene climate changes at centennial time scales….

    We attribute this dominant 400-year wet-dry cycle to solar forcing (Yu and Ito 1999, 2000). Solar activities as indicated by solar proxy of cosmogenic isotopes (14C, 10Be) show a fundamental periodicity at ~400 years (Stuiver and Braziunas 1989; Figures 2 and 3). Dry periods in the NGP appear to correlate with solar minima (Yu and Ito 1999). Recent climate modeling suggests that solar variation likely causes a large temperature change at regional scale through a forced shift in atmospheric variability (e.g., North Atlantic Oscillation), although global-scale temperature only shows a minor response (Shindell and others 2001). These modeling results also indicate that lands and oceans show opposite responses to solar forcing. Thus we argue that the interior of the continents is more sensitive than other land areas to small changes in solar variations, especially over a longer time scale. This response in the NGP is perhaps related to a shift in dominant modes of the atmospheric pressure fields (e.g., Pacific-North American teleconnection pattern)….

    http://tenaya.ucsd.edu/~dettinge/PACLIM/Yu02.pdf

    Modeling again, sigh…

    Another interesting tidbit is Frank Lansner, in his Rural Unadjusted Temperature Index (RUTI), noticed “the trend of the inland stations was markedly different from coastal stations and island stations….” This seems to fit what is indicated in the above paper.

    http://joannenova.com.au/2011/10/messages-from-the-global-raw-rural-data-warnings-gotchas-and-tree-ring-divergence-explained/

    As long as the CAGW crowd keep insisting that the total effect of the sun on the climate is TSI and not other factors and insist that TSI is essentially constant, they can continue to pretend that a 60ppm change in a minor greenhouse gas causes major changes.

    The oceans are 70% of the earth’s surface and have orders of magnitude more heat capacity compared to air. That is the elephant in the room and that is why John Nielsen-Gammon is calling ENSO a “Red Herring” To divert attention away from the elephant. To divert research funds away from the study of what causes the ocean oscillations.

  49. It shows how poorly the models hindcast the frequency, magnitude, and trend of ENSO events.
    ——–
    I stared at those graphs for a while and could not see any obvious justification for this statement, I have concluded that just eyeballing these graphs is not an adequate way of analyzing whether the statement is true or not.

    Not all of the climate models can produce ENSO-like behavior. So the statement is plausible. But on the other hand failure to reproduce ENSO-like behavior does not render a model ineffective at reproducing other kinds of coarser-grained behavior. So I am finding some of the logic dubious.

  50. “Now if climate models could explain how and why these blocking weather patterns develop……?”

    Part of the interest in posts such as this from Bob is that the basic point once accepted leads on to other issues so I hope that Bob doesn’t mind too much if I comment on the above. I think we can accept that the basic post is correct so unless we move on this thread will die.

    I’m sure that warm SSTs affect the air pressure distribution above them. At the equator they clearly lead to a more energetic ITCZ as per Willis Eschenbach’s themostat hypothesis. What goes up must come down so the result is bigger and stronger high pressure cells either side of the ITCZ. That leads to more blocking in low latitudes.

    At the same time more blocking may be caused in high latitudes by changes above the poles which cause polar high pressure cells to migrate equatorward as per Marcel Leroux’s mobile polar highs.

    So, how to link it all to this post of Bob’s ?

    Well Bob accurately describes all that goes on in the ENSO process and gets down to a lot of fine detail. It must be possible to get some idea as to how that blocking from oceanic events from below and that blocking from solar events above combine to affect the air flow changes associated with ENSO.

    Personally I think it is the differential build of solar energy in the oceans either side of the equator that forces the basic ENSO phenomenon and the surface air flow follows the water whereas I think Bob believes that the changes in air flow drive ENSO.

    However once that basic energy imbalance has accumlated sufficiently either side of the equator then the form and timing and intensity of the subsequent ENSO event (whether El Nino or La Nina) will be affected by the net combined influence of the bottom up oceanic influence and the top down solar influence.So to trhat extent the air flow will influence how the ENSO event plays out. The answer to the chicken and egg situation is therfore that although SSTs get the process started there is an influence from above as well (as per Bob’s contention).

    THere are therefore three significant components namely that energy imbalance either side of the equator, the effect of that imbalance on the air flow above AND the influence at that time of solar effects at the poles which ultimately constrains how far the SSTs can drive the winds. On that basis we would both be right.

    I don’t significantly disagree with any of Bob’s fine work but having satisfied myself that he is correct the most interesting path is to place it in a global context over long timescales. Admittedly the data we most need is currently lacking but there is no harm in setting up a hypothesis and comparing it with new data as it comes in.

    I hope Bob will accept my approach as a compliment (and complement) to his established platform of ENSO data and not see it as a challenge to his domination of that arena.

  51. wayne Job is right.
    Bob, I have a question for you

    Note that I have done a statistical analysis of the results from a number of weather stations all over the world.
    In the choice of my sample of weather stations I have tried to maintain a balance according to latitude and the 70/30 water/land distribution. The results are attached for your information.

    http://www.letterdash.com/HenryP/henrys-pool-table-on-global-warming

    My latest results from Grootfontein in the Namib desert are not yet included in the displayed tables.

    If you want details about how each of the black figures in the tables were arrived at,
    I will gladly provide you with the file of each figure in the table with the details.

    Although there does seem to be some variability here and there, due to a number of differing local factors,
    the results of my sample so far show that maxima, means and minima have risen at a ratio 7.5 : 3 : 1 during the past 35 years. So, the increase in maxima far outstrips the rise in minima.
    The implication is that mean temperatures have risen globally mainly due them being pushed by increasing maxima.
    I think it is reasonable for me to assume that this rise in maxima caused some, if not most, of the rise in the minima as well.

    It is my opinion that rising maxima can only be be caused by more (intense)sunshine and/or less clouds.
    If it had been the other way around, i.e. rising minima pushing up the mean temperature, I would have to agree that the cause was trapped heat by an increasing level of greenhouse gases.
    As it stands, the conclusion from my tables is simply that the increase in temperatures noted over the past 3 or 4 decades, was largely due to natural causes,
    and not due to an increase in green house gases. Do you agree?

    I am puzzled that most studies on the increase in the temperature on earth, including WUWT, only show the increase in average mean temperatures, or average anomalies (deltaT).
    It seems to me there is a concerted effort by the “scientific” community to hide the truth about what is really causing the increase in temperature on earth.
    I would like to hear from you what your thoughts are on this or whydo you think maxima and minima are ignored?.

  52. The models treat ENSO as noise and therefore are incorrect if especially ERSSTv3b is true for NINO 3.4. Figure 4 posted by Bob http://i44.tinypic.com/r7jbdf.jpg does back up the possibility that ERSSTv3b is correct and the interpolated hadSST NINO3.4 that is often used instead, not the best representation of ENSO long term behaviour.

    ERSSTv3b shows increasing temperatures over the NINO 3.4 region.

    HadSST shows no trend in temperatures over the NINO 3.4 region.

    La Nina’s are not only responsible for global cloud level decline, as the tropics is only responsible for about 50% of global albedo level trends. There was also a 50% decline in global cloud levels away from the tropics.

  53. Typo,

    There was also a 50% decline in global cloud levels away from the tropics.

    Should be ” There was also a 5% decline in global cloud levels away from the tropics.”

    Please correct my previous post, this message can then be removed.

  54. It appears that John Nielsen-Gammon does not understand the long term effects of ENSO. Because this is an area of climate science that has not been studied to any degree, it has the “moniker” of not being important, and therefore no cause-effect is established. Therefore, to him, a “Red Herring”.

    There is ample literature, such as the above post, concerning precipitation patterns world wide. There is ample literature showing a sun/precipitation relationship. Do we know all the causes of this yet? No we don’t. Is the correlation so strong that this bears further study? Yes it is.

    We still don’t know what causes gravity. Yet, there are laws written of the effects that gravity has on objects. That is a somewhat mature science. Climate science is a very infant science. Our ability to measure UV etc is only becoming somewhat certain. Our understanding of the forces that drive the sun, and the forces the sun provides to the earth are really about nill. Lots of hints, no clear cut answers.

    The radical changes proposed by GAGW folks are based on conjecture, with very little science behind them. AS has been demonstrated over and over, the models fail. The solution proposed by GAGW folks is to take the mean of the models and project this as something useful. This is ludicrous, and non scientific. You do not take a bunch of outputs that are all wrong, meld them, and think that somehow the mean is right. If you tried this in a stats 101 class the teacher and fellow students would laugh you out of the room.

    There should be no fear of the unknown, there should only be an intense desire to isolate the unknown and look for it.

  55. Thankyou for yet another excellent post Bob.

    I need your help to clear my head regards La Nina recharging ocean heat content.

    As you show in your More Detail On The Multiyear posts, La Nina is accompanied by clear skies allowing more DSR (Downwelling Shortwave Radiation) to warm the water column.
    In that post you also present Fig.3
    Fig.3

    This figure shows DSR anomalies in Wm2 which clearly indicate more DSR during La Nina and less DSR during El Nino.

    But as we know, heat content is governed by not only energy in, but also energy out.
    In the Fig.3 above, DSR anomalies range from +40 to -40 Wm2 but mostly around +20 to -20 Wm2.

    What about energy out? The following link is to the BoM OLR (Outgoing Longwave radiation) values in the 7.5S-7.5N 170E-170W region.
    OLR values

    As can be seen, the OLR values range from about 270Wm2 during La Nina (no cloud cover) to as low as 170Wm2 during El Nino (cloud cover).
    The range is in the order of about 100Wm2 as opposed to the DSR range of 40-80Wm2.

    This is what’s causing the confusion in my head. Seems to be more energy out during La Nina
    which contradicts the recharge hypothesis.

    To add further to my confusion, during El Nino, the trade winds are suppressed. During La Nina trade winds strengthen. I presume these winds play an important part in the evaporation process at the sea surface. If they do, then during La Nina, more energy is transported up and away from the sea surface by these stronger winds, reducing any ‘recharging’ further.

    I wish I had the skills to be able to compare DSR anomalies to OLR anomalies during ENSO.
    Have I missed that comparison somewhere in your ENSO posts (which I’m going through slowly to improve my knowledge)?

    Thank you once again for your invaluable voluntary work. Much appreciated and enjoyed.

  56. Baa Humbug

    I think you are making valid points but the answer lies in looking at the global scenario rather than the 7.5S-7.5N 170E-170W region alone. That region’s cloudiness seems to vary inversely with the global changes in cloudiness.

    During the period of strong El Ninos in the late 20th century global cloudiness declined and now with a less active sun and less El Ninos relative to La Ninas global cloudiness is increasing again.

    This thing is bigger than ENSO but ENSO is a major component as regards the variable supply of ocean heat content to the troposphere.

  57. Ninderthana says:
    November 13, 2011 at 12:32 am
    “For God’ sake! When will people stop saying that there are no physical models to describe the ENSO phenomenon. There are dozens of possible models that have been proposed and you can read about (the preliminary musings of) mine here”

    A computer model consists of code that can be solved for a simulation which is a set of numbers. The code has no cognitive content so it cannot describe anything. The set of numbers has to be interpreted by some researcher as values for the imagined world that the model simulates. The numbers have no cognitive content and are not about anything.

    You need physical hypotheses to describe the world.

  58. Matt G: In your comparison of HADISST and ERSST.v3b did you consider the methods used to infill missing data? I believe we’ve discussed this on other threads. As you may be aware, there’s lots of missing source SST data prior to the 1950s in the eastern equatorial Pacific. Did you determine which of the two datasets has the observational data reinserted after the infilling process? HADISST has the data reinserted after infilling, while ERSST.v3b does not. You’ll find this mentioned in papers as the reason the authors selected HADISST over ERSST.v3b.

  59. Ninderthana says:
    November 12, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    This is very interesting speculation but it remains speculation. It contains no rigorously formulated physical hypotheses that have been reasonably well confirmed and that can be used to explain and predict the phenomena in question.

  60. Baa Humbug, a question back: How would OLR reflect the ENSO discharge/recharge of Ocean Heat Content (0-700 meters), Warm Water Volume, or Depth-Averaged Temperature (the last two 0-300 meters)? All show the same basic discharge and recharge associated with ENSO? Downward Shortwave Radiation penetrates to depth of, what?, 100 meters, while Outgoing Longwave Radiation does not.

  61. Stephen Wilde says:
    November 13, 2011 at 4:31 am
    “Oh dear. I didn’t mean to cause such a kerfuffle. To my mind the comments I made seemed germane to the thread.”

    Mr. Tisdale strikes me as a conservative writer who rarely strays from the tried and true methods and measurements. I believe that if we respect that about him then we get more from his posts. I find his posts to be excellent.

  62. Bob Tisdale says:
    November 13, 2011 at 4:04 am

    “Stephen has effectively hijacked this thread. Scroll up through the comments and see how many of them are responses to his comments and not the post. Those who are new here, who want to learn more about the subjects being discussed in my post, are now being distracted, and possibly confused, by Stephen’s introduction of a totally different subject. This is commonplace for him. If I write about the satellite era of Sea Surface Temperatures, for example, he discusses paleoclimatology. Authors understand this will happen, but it doesn’t please us. So if you feel if my reply to him was rude, I was responding to his rudeness.”

    If Stephen attempts a subject change on your post then he should be banned from that thread. This is not a put down of Stephen. He makes valuable contributions elsewhere.

    Hijacking a Bob Tisdale post causes unfathomable harm to those among us who follow Bob Tisdale’s work closely.

  63. Matt G: To add to my earlier discussion of HADISST and ERSST.v3b. There is no peer-reviewed paper for ERSST.v3b. There was one for ERSST.v3, which mostly pertained to the inclusion of the satellite data to the post 1982 period and its influence on the data over its entire term. The satellite-based SST data served as the basis for the EOF and EOT analyses used for infilling. When they deleted the satellite data due to political pressure, it impacted the dataset over the entire term, not just the satellite era, and that has never been addressed in a paper. I’ll stick to HADISST.

  64. Henry P: “I would like to hear from you what your thoughts are on this or whydo you think maxima and minima are ignored?”

    Henry, monthly anomaly datasets are easier to work with in many ways. But when you’re dealing with annual maxima and minima, you’re restricted to annual data.

    I also seem to remember a paper (or a webpage) a while back (5 maybe 10 years ago) by Hansen that gave the reasons why Global Land Surface Temperature was only presented as anomalies by GISS, but I wouldn’t have any idea which one it was. And I can’t remember anything else about the discussion (since I rarely look at land surface data).

    Best of luck with that Pool Table.

    Regards

  65. Matt G says: “La Nina’s are not only responsible for global cloud level decline…”

    Generally when people discuss cloud amount changes caused by ENSO, they’re discussing the equatorial or tropical Pacific.

  66. Bob Tisdale says:
    November 13, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Baa Humbug, a question back: How would OLR reflect the ENSO discharge/recharge of Ocean Heat Content (0-700 meters), Warm Water Volume, or Depth-Averaged Temperature (the last two 0-300 meters)? All show the same basic discharge and recharge associated with ENSO? Downward Shortwave Radiation penetrates to depth of, what?, 100 meters, while Outgoing Longwave Radiation does not.

    With respect, I need clarification of the above please Bob.
    Outgoing Longwave does not because it’s outgoing. Did you mean Downwelling LR? If so I havent considered DLR at all in my request to you.

    Yes DSR penetrates to about 100 metres, but barely 3% of the light gets down that far. Most of it is used up in the top 10 metres.

    My thoughts, and the reason why I asked if you had graphed OLR and DSR together to get a comparison was as follows:-

    Although DSR is strong, it is only active during daylight hours and even then it climbs from zero at dawn to a maximum around midday, then back to zero again at dusk.
    OLR is constant 24/7. And if it is as strong as shown in my link to BoM (up to 270Wm2 during la Nina which is about 100Wm2 more than during El Nino) then there is a chance that more energy is leaving the ocean than is being replaced by DSR during La Nina.
    Add to that a further loss of energy due to the stronger trade winds causing more evaporation.

    During El Nino, cloud cover suppresses OLR and convection, retaining the heat in the ocean as well as the atmosphere until the tradies pick up again blowing away the clouds and the moisture laden warm air and cooling everything down.

  67. Bob Tisdale says:
    November 13, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I also seem to remember a paper (or a webpage) a while back (5 maybe 10 years ago) by Hansen that gave the reasons why Global Land Surface Temperature was only presented as anomalies by GISS, but I wouldn’t have any idea which one it was. And I can’t remember anything else about the discussion (since I rarely look at land surface data).

    Bob is this the web page you’re thinking of?

  68. “there is a chance that more energy is leaving the ocean than is being replaced by DSR during La Nina.
    Add to that a further loss of energy due to the stronger trade winds causing more evaporation.

    During El Nino, cloud cover suppresses OLR and convection, retaining the heat in the ocean as well as the atmosphere until the tradies pick up again blowing away the clouds and the moisture laden warm air and cooling everything down.”

    In other words a complete reversal of the El Nino discharge / La Nina recharge scenario ?

    If so, then clouds cause ENSO events by modulating the rate of energy loss from the oceans much like the Greenhouse effect on steroids ?

    My doubt about that is that the clouds also reduce DSR into the water and energy reflected out is energy lost to the system forever.

    Bob ?

  69. Baa Humbug: And a topic I forgot to include in my earlier reply is evaporation. Most of the heat released during an El Nino event is through evaporation. Are you including it? If so, what dataset?

  70. Baa Humbug says: “During El Nino, cloud cover suppresses OLR and convection, retaining the heat in the ocean as well as the atmosphere until the tradies pick up again blowing away the clouds and the moisture laden warm air and cooling everything down.”

    During an El Nino event, the increased cloud cover is caused by the increased surface temperature and increased evaporation, the latter of which is the primary way the Tropical Pacific releases heat, is it not?

  71. But increased cloud cover reduces evaporation by allowing humidity to rise under the cloud sheet due to suppression of convection.

    I come back to the point that the region in question is not representative of the global response to ENSO events.

    The fact that ENSO can change cloudiness levels outside the ENSO region itself is one of Bob’s best points for arguing that ENSO effects are not adequately represented in the models.

  72. @Bob and Stephen

    Thanks to both of you for the replies.

    Bob I don’t have a dataset. I’m reading thrpugh the many links you provide to make sense of it all.
    Yes evapo is the primary way the Tropical pacific releases heat. El Nino increases SSTs by what, anywhere from 0.5DegC to max 2.9DegC (I think was the max during the 98 EN). But EN is accompanied by suppressed tradies. Surely stronger tradies ( La Nina) facilitates more evapo. (my washing drys quicker during a breezy 20 Deg than a calm 25 Deg.)

    But clouds don’t form over the central Pacific during La Nina because they get blown onto the coasts of PNG and OZ, hence the heavier rains there?

    Stephen, no, I don’t think clouds cause ENSO events at all. I would have thought the Humboldt Current had more to do with ENSO formation.
    And yes I am having trouble with the recharge/discharge scenario. I think the tropical oceans are always recharging. However when the permanent upwelling zone off the coast of Peru spreads wider to the south, there is then enough of a spatial coverage to kick off the trade winds which spreads the cooler waters in a westerly direction culminating in a La Nina with all it’s associated atmospheric changes.

    Anyway, I should learn to read up more and gather my thoughts before asking people to give up their time to feed me with info.

  73. First, I have no basis from which to dispute Nielsen-Gammon’s opening sentence of, “When driven by observed oceanic variability, the models do a great job simulating the atmospheric response”.  I have not investigated how well the models actually perform this function. But that’s neither here nor there. Why? Well, if the hindcast and projected representations of sea surface temperatures created by the models are not realistic, then the atmospheric response to the modeled oceanic variability would also fail to be realistic
    ————-
    A reasonable interpretation of this remark: “the models do a great job simulating the atmospheric response” is that the claim was tested against reality.

    Bob simply denies it without out giving counter evidence and bases the denial on a logical fallacy.

  74. Bob Tisdale says:
    November 13, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Yes Bob, did consider the difference between the two, although not had the chance to determine by analysis, which method confirms with satellite data is the best. During the previous encounter was and still concerned with using infilled data from coastal regions that hardly change between El Nino’s and La Nina’s. (ie no trend)

    The problem between the two is still evident even after the 1970’s. After a period of frequent La Nina’s would expect the overall trend in temperatures to increase with higher frequency of El Nino’s.

    This is shown quite clearly with ERSSTv3b.

    Despite the increase in frequency of El Nino’s there is no trend in temperatures during this period, so it disagrees with observations from all other sources. (including your own)

    ONI uses ERSSTv3b Nino3.4 and is considered reliable, so what if ONI was to use HadSST Nino3.4? The flaws in this HadSST Nino3.4 would be represented well in ONI.

    Bob Tisdale says:
    November 13, 2011 at 11:20 am

    http://isccp.giss.nasa.gov/products/onlineData.html

  75. Great article, thanks again Bob. The real show-stopper here is the flat global SST trends in between ENSO events. The potential significance of this is mind-blowing.

    Has anyone thought about the significance of this? Lets assume for the sake of argument that this is a correct mathematical observation or statement, that globally, SSTs only decrease or increase at el Nino or La Nina events, not in between. And that climate shifts to higher or lower temperatures are mediated by these shifts only (a not unreasonable corollary – climate change is meaningless without SST change).

    This implies that the ENSO is the sole mechanism of effecting global temperature / climate change. This is huge! Note that this is not the same as saying that the ENSO is the only cause of temperature change. But if one champions any other causes of climate change, such as CO2, solar changes, magnetic fields, cosmic rays, etc, then these agents themselves must be acting via the ENSO.

    But how could they be acting via the ENSO?

    This might be hard to figure out at first, the ENSO, although big, does not directly impact the whole earth. The Pacific ocean is about half of the world surface, the south Pacific thus a quarter of it. So how does the equatorial alternation of warm and cold surface anomalies so strongly dominate world climate?

    As Philip Bradley points out, “The heat flow is from the oceans into the atmosphere. There is never any significant heat flow from the atmosphere to the oceans. All the atmosphere can do is impede heat loss from the oceans. It is not unreasonable that the oceans, holding as they do the vast majority of climate energy, should be the driver of climate heat.

    Lets therefore assume for a moment – following from the assumed fact of SST stasis between ENSO events – that climate energy and heat trends do come from the ocean. This still does not make it obvious why the south Pacific ENSO should drive the planet’s heat. Except that is, unless ENSO is a marker of something global in extent.

    That thing could be oceanic deep upwelling. At the heart of ENSO is, as we all know, the Bjerknes feedback between Peruvian coast upwelling and the equatorial trade winds. The conjecture I have made several times before is that the upwelling part of that feedback is linked to the global thermohaline circulation (THC). Maybe periods of ENSO upwelling are correlated with upwelling elsewhere, that global upwelling is thus pulsatile, perhaps from chaotic-nonlinear patterning. This is conjecture of course. (I could look for models of fluid chaotic mixing for possible analogies.)

    OK lets fast-forward to my tentative hypothesis here:

    1. Heat flows to the oceans originally from the sun,

    2. The ocean releases this heat back to the atmosphere, but it does so with a spatiotemporal pattern that is determined by a dynamic and quasi-chaotic ocean circulation system (possibly an aspect of Stephen Wilde’s climate model). This patten could be subject long term to periodic forcing from solar, cosmic ray etc oscillations.

    3. One feature of a chaotic system is a LIMIT CYCLE. This means that a chaotic / nonequilibrium pattern system, while potentially able to adopt an infinite number of possible states, in practice oscillates between a limited number of states which emerge from the system. This set of states is the limit cycle.

    4. When an ENSO event moves the oceans globally to a higher or lower SST level, it means that the oceans thermal regime has moved from one position (node) to another in its limit cycle.

    5. The ENSO correlates with global transitions to increased or decreased deep upwelling – upwelling means the downward movement of heat, or the slowing of heat release from the ocean. Thus upwelling globally is an inverse controller of release of heat by the oceans, or a brake to such release.

    This is of course just a thought experiment, but it shows that the logical implication of Bob’s observation of SST stasis between ENSO events is a completely dominant role of the oceans in global climate, focused on ENSO.

    (Which also means Bob Tisdale is king of all he surveys :-)

  76. Bob Tisdale says:
    November 13, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I agree with this concern too.

    Bob Tisdale says:
    November 13, 2011 at 11:53 am
    Matt G says: “La Nina’s are not only responsible for global cloud level decline…”

    Generally when people discuss cloud amount changes caused by ENSO, they’re discussing the equatorial or tropical Pacific.

    True, but my point is the decline in global cloud levels was not just restricted to this area.

  77. Theo Goodwin says:
    November 13, 2011 at 10:50 am
    You need physical hypotheses to describe the world.

    There are many types of scientific models and most are not computer models. A scientific model consists of a series of linked hypotheses which attempt to answer a scientific question or describe an observation. You are clearly confused about the use of the term “model”. You have been in the climate game too long if you immediately think that the word “model” immediately implies “computer model”.

    Theo Goodwin says:
    November 13, 2011 at 11:16 am
    This is very interesting speculation but it remains speculation. It contains no rigorously formulated physical hypotheses that have been reasonably well confirmed and that can be used to explain and predict the phenomena in question.

    You seem to have overlooked the fact that I have long since passed this point of speculation (over two years ago) and have moved on to produced a scientific paper that provides a physical hypotheses that I believe will eventually be used to explain and predict the ENSO phenomenon.
    Because of the limitations of peer-review, I can not discuss the set of hypotheses [based on observation] that I have come with to explain the ENSO phenomenon. All I can do is point you towards the original speculative idea(s) that (I believe) pointed me in the right direction.
    Peer-review (in its wider sense) will compare my scientific model to the evidence and decide whether or not my set of linked hypotheses successfully explains the ENSO phenomenon.

  78. Theo Goodwin,

    A caveat: The scientific model that I am proposing only explains a part of the ENSO phenomenon. The El Nino/La Nina cycle is a complex interplay between the oceans (e.g. Solar/Lunar atmospheric tides, Earth rotation, currents up welling etc.), atmosphere (e.g. clouds, Solar/Lunar Atmospheric tides, Earth rotation, trade winds etc.) and radiative/non-radiative energy inputs and exchanges (e.g. evaporation, convection, DSR, OLR etc.).

    The model that I propose describes how long term variations in solar/lunar atmospheric tides plays a crucial role in triggering the El nino/La Nina phenomenon on inter-annual to decadal time scales.

  79. phlogiston.

    I think you are on the right track and the amount of cold upwelling near Peru would indeed be relevant in my wider conceptual ‘model’.

    One of the points I made elsewhere is that periods of increased or decreased solar input to the oceans could well introduce temperature discontinuities along the horizontal toute of the thermohaline circulation. When those discontinuities resurface some 1000 or so years later they would modify the balance between El Nino and La Nina (and atmospheric CO2 for that matter as per Murry Salby’s preliminary paper).

    It only takes a tiny change in water temperatures to make a large change to air temperatures.

    And, yes, I do agree that the ENSO phenomenon is at the heart of ALL observed climate changes simply because the thermal capacity of water covering 71% of Earth’s surface is so huge as compared to that of air.

    However the source of ALL significant (excluding a little geothermal) energy in the oceans is solar input hence the significance of global cloudiness and albedo which I would aver is affected profoundly by surface air pressure distribution as manifested in the natural shifting of ALL the climate zones.

    Hence my repeated attempts to understand how the ENSO details described exhaustively by Bob fit into the wider context both geographically and over time.

    I know that Bob declines to go there because of the current data inadequacies and my persistence irritates him but he must recognise that if his posts relate to such an important ,indeed THE most important, component of climate change then many will find the wider application of his findings to be irresistible.

    I think that the data collated by Bob is in fact the key to how it all fits together in a global context provided one uses it to see the way all the components of the climate system come together at the ocean surface in the ENSO regions.

    For those reasons I would respectfully deny the suggestion that I am engaged in thread hijacking.

    Bob’s work is fundamental and needs thorough and careful interpretation with a view to wider application and if he wishes to leave the wider application to others then that is fine by me.

  80. LazyTeenager says: “A reasonable interpretation of this remark: ‘the models do a great job simulating the atmospheric response’ is that the claim was tested against reality.” And you continued, “Bob simply denies it without out giving counter evidence and bases the denial on a logical fallacy.”

    I did not deny it. Please quote me chapter and verse where I denied it. Read precisely what he wrote and what my reply was.

  81. Baa Humbug, just a general thought: When considering ENSO, sometimes it’s better to think in terms of absolute temperatures, etc., not anomalies.

    You asked, “But clouds don’t form over the central Pacific during La Nina because they get blown onto the coasts of PNG and OZ, hence the heavier rains there?”

    I don’t believe I’ve read a description that states that clouds don’t form over the central tropical Pacific during a La Nina. Cloud cover is reduced then. Also, the convection and cloud cover accompanies the warmer water as it migrates east during the El Niño and accompanies it back west during the La Niña.

    You wrote, “I think the tropical oceans are always recharging.”

    I agree. When the cloud cover wanders east during an El Niño, accompanying the warmer water, cloud cover over the West Pacific Warm Pool decreases significantly, allowing more DSR to reach the ocean. With the reversal of the trade winds in the western tropical Pacific and the increased flow of the Equatorial Countercurrent, this would help fuel the El Niño, and it should also help to recharge (precharge?) the PWP.

    You wrote, “However when the permanent upwelling zone off the coast of Peru spreads wider to the south, there is then enough of a spatial coverage to kick off the trade winds which spreads the cooler waters in a westerly direction culminating in a La Nina with all it’s associated atmospheric changes.”

    The sign of the SST anomalies off the Peruvian coast can appear to be a precursor of the sign of the ENSO event. Sometimes it happens that way. And there are times when just the opposite occurs. Also, I don’t believe the upwelling along the Peruvian coast is truly permanent. I can recall reading papers that describe the seasonal and ENSO-induced changes in upwelling there.

  82. Stephen Wilde says: “If so, then clouds cause ENSO events by modulating the rate of energy loss from the oceans much like the Greenhouse effect on steroids ?”

    Convection and cloud cover accompany the warmer water as it travels east during the El Nino and they accompany the warmer water west as it returns to the PWP during the La Nina and ENSO-neutral phases.

  83. Good, we all seem to agree that it is the warmth of the water that then leads to convection and cloud cover rather than the cloud cover coming along first and holding in any warmth.

    It is then the geographical distribution of the cloud cover that becomes important.

    El Nino events are associated with rising air from the warm water in the El Nino regions as per Willis Eschenbach’s thermostat hypothesis. That rising air then has to descend elsewhere and it does so in the subtropical high pressure cells either side of the ITCZ. Those larger and more intense high pressure cells then produce less cloudiness in the areas they affect which allows more energy into the oceans outside the ENSO regions.

    In the late 20th century the ocean heat content rose and global cloudiness fell despite more and stronger El Ninos than previously so one is driven to the conclusion that El Nino may be a discharge mode in the ENSO regions but a recharge mode under the adjoining subtropical high pressure cells.

    Vice versa for La Nina.

    Thus we have simultaneous recharge / discharge in different locations (on the face of it producing an energy neutral process) so what other factor causes recharge or discharge to swing to or from net warming of the system or to or from net cooling of the system ?

    I suggest that there is a role for the top down solar effect on the surface pressure distribution.

    When the sun is active the climate zones shift towards the poles thus widening the equatorial air masses independently of ENSO. That allows more energy into the oceans than the ENSO process alone so it supplements an essentially neutral ENSO process towards energy gain for the system as a whole.

    Vice versa for a period of less active sun.

  84. Stephen Wilde says:
    November 13, 2011 at 7:30 pm
    phlogiston.

    I think you are on the right track and the amount of cold upwelling near Peru would indeed be relevant in my wider conceptual ‘model’.

    One of the points I made elsewhere is that periods of increased or decreased solar input to the oceans could well introduce temperature discontinuities along the horizontal toute of the thermohaline circulation. When those discontinuities resurface some 1000 or so years later they would modify the balance between El Nino and La Nina (and atmospheric CO2 for that matter as per Murry Salby’s preliminary paper).

    We agree on the general picture of solar and possibly other astrophysical forcings acting on THC to produce effects years later; your model is classical while the paradigm I find more compelling is the nonlinear / nonequilibrium oscillating dynamic system. I notice that another aspect of your general model – upper atmospheric solar interactions involving UV, seem to be attracting mainstream attention especially the UV aspect (Prof Lockwood from Reading seems to be running with it). You should publish this material and not let it get expropriated.

    Oddly the blog community seems little better than the climate establishment in refusing to offer more than lip service to nonlinear pattern dynamics, clinging stubbornly to linear Catholic logic. Perhaps this is just primate sociobiology – what it takes is an individual with the right smelling bottom to champion the idea. Willis Essenbach is of course sociobiologically the right stuff with a wonderfully fragrant derierre, but his woeful forays into chaos and nonlinearity have done more harm than good. I have published in the literature on nonequilibrium pattern models for biological phenomena – it is mainly the Chinese who seem to pick up on it.

  85. “You should publish this material and not let it get expropriated.”

    It has been published and duly dated in several locations. Expropriation is no longer an option but no doubt it could be refined.

    The general idea of UV or EUV effects is not novel but I have extended it to other chemical reactions including nitrous oxide and have weaved it into a pretty complete climate overview. That is where the novelty lies.

    I’m sure there are also such oscillations as you propose within the system and lots else besides but they can all be fitted into my general overview at appropriate levels of contributory influence.There is room for many of the regulars here to graft their own ideas onto it.

    We are a bit off topic now so better get back to it if there is more to be said.

  86. Bob Tisdale
    November 14, 2011 at 3:05 am

    Thanks again Bob.

    Regards the permanent upwelling, I was sure I had read it at some stage. A quick search of my USB key located it.
    You may be familiar with a highly detailed paper about the Humboldt current by Thiel et al

    In northern Chile (21–23°S, off Iquique and Antofagasta), a permanent upwelling sustains high PP throughout the entire year (3–9 g C m−2 d−1; Daneri et al. 2000, Montecino & Quiroz 2000, Iriarte & González 2004) while in the central-southern area (i.e., Concepción at 36°S) the upwelling events are mainly concentrated in the spring–summer period (Strub et al. 1998).

    Not quite peru but neighbourly close by. These upwelling zones are relatively small, in shallow water near the coast and usually in bays. It seems the topography of the region has much to do with it.

    When the current strengthens (seasonally) it upwells in many other areas and spreads along as well as away from the coast (Galapagos islands etc).
    I have the paper in pdf, would be glad to email to you if you wish. Mostly concerned with HC effects on local fisheries etc but very detailed overall about the HC.

    By the way, have you had the opportunity to look at the Quinn El Nino index? From 1525 to 1987

    http://jisao.washington.edu/data/quinn/

    Is it something useful to your work?

  87. That Quinn index is useful, thanks.

    The most obvious feature is the dearth of El Ninos in the 1600s and most of the 1700s.

    Given that that was the period of the Maunder Minimum there does seem to be a link between solar activity and the amount of energy available to fuel El Ninos which fits my proposals nicely.

    It helps to link Bob’s work to the longer term background trends in climate over centuries.

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