Tisdales’ Blog Memo to Kevin Trenberth at NCAR

Guest post by Bob Tisdale

Date:  September 20, 2012

Subject:  Trenberth and Fasullo (2012) paper “Climate extremes and climate change: The Russian heat wave and other climate extremes of 2010”

From:  Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations

To:  Kevin Trenberth – National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO

Dear Kevin:

First, let me congratulate you on the products of your El Niño-Southern Oscillation research. I still refer to many of your early papers about ENSO, especially Trenberth et al (2002) Evolution of El Nino–Southern Oscillation and global atmospheric surface temperatures. I learned a tremendous amount about ENSO from your early work. In fact, I still refer to that paper and provide links to it in my blog posts and in my recently published e-book.

I was (past tense) a big fan of yours. However, your recent papers have become nothing more than fodder for alarmists. Case in point: the title of the subject paper, Climate extremes and climate change: The Russian Heat Wave and other Climate Extremes of 2010, includes the word “extreme” twice in only 15 words. You used the word “record” as in “highest on record” or “record breaking” more than 25 times throughout the paper, and “extreme” more than 15 times. If you’re not aware of this, most readers see those repetitions and understand you intended your paper solely as climate extremist propaganda. Hence, that’s why the largest coverage of your paper came from the political website ThinkProgress with Joe Romm’s post Must-Read Trenberth: How To Relate Climate Extremes to Climate Change.

There were brilliant diagnostic efforts within the paper to explain the cause of the Russian heat wave and other weather events, but they are overshadowed by your unfounded claims about “global warming from human influences”, which “resulted in very high sea surface temperatures”. Apparently, you don’t understand the general public is slowly become aware of the realities of natural global warming. You, on the other hand, continue to preach fiction. There is no anthropogenic greenhouse gas signal in the sea surface temperature records for the past 30 years. For example, the sea surface temperature anomalies for the significant portion of the global oceans captured by the coordinates of 90S-90N, 20E-70W, which we’ll call the “Indian & Pacific Oceans Plus”, haven’t warmed in 19+ years. See Figure 1.

The “Indian & Pacific Oceans Plus” dataset includes those four little ocean subsets where you noted record or near record sea surface temperatures caused by “global warming from human influences”. I’ve highlighted in my Figure 2 the four small regions you examined, which is the lower cell of your Figure 2, and I’ve highlighted the “Indian & Pacific Oceans Plus” region in Figure 3, which captures them all.

 

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THE ABSTRACT

Your abstract reads:

A global perspective is developed on a number of high impact climate extremes in 2010 through diagnostic studies of the anomalies, diabatic heating, and global energy and water cycles that demonstrate relationships among variables and across events. Natural variability, especially ENSO, and global warming from human influences together resulted in very high sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in several places that played a vital role in subsequent developments. Record high SSTs in the Northern Indian Ocean in May 2010, the Gulf of Mexico in August 2010, the Caribbean in September 2010, and north of Australia in December 2010 provided a source of unusually abundant atmospheric moisture for nearby monsoon rains and flooding in Pakistan, Colombia, and Queensland. The resulting anomalous diabatic heating in the northern Indian and tropical Atlantic Oceans altered the atmospheric circulation by forcing quasi-stationary Rossby waves and altering monsoons. The anomalous monsoonal circulations had direct links to higher latitudes: from Southeast Asia to southern Russia, and from Colombia to Brazil. Strong convection in the tropical Atlantic in northern summer 2010 was associated with a Rossby wave train that extended into Europe creating anomalous cyclonic conditions over the Mediterranean area while normal anticyclonic conditions shifted downstream where they likely interacted with an anomalously strong monsoon circulation, helping to support the persistent atmospheric anticyclonic regime over Russia. This set the stage for the “blocking” anticyclone and associated Russian heat wave and wild fires. Attribution is limited by shortcomings in models in replicating monsoons, teleconnections and blocking.

WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE TAKEN AWAY FROM THE PAPER

Basically, a few sentences in the closing Discussion capture the overall findings of your paper, they are:

In this paper a global perspective is provided and, as shown here, is essential for addressing the phenomenology of the RHW [Russian Heat Wave], while other studies have taken a more regional approach… The importance of the strong La Niña that developed by June 2010 was not adequately appreciated in some previous studies but has been brought out by Schneidereit et al. [2012]. The negative diabatic heating anomalies in the tropical Pacific arise from the La Niña and help drive an anomalous Rossby wave train. The La Niña also focused the monsoon rains in southern Asia in conjunction with exceptionally high SSTs in the Indonesian and Indian Ocean regions and in the tropical Atlantic. Both regions feature strong convection and anomalous diabatic heating in the atmosphere (Figure 9) and associated atmospheric circulation anomalies. In part the high SSTs in the Indian and Atlantic sectors were a consequence of the previous El Niño [Trenberth et al., 2002]…

In short, the 2009/10 El Niño and 2010/11 La Niña events were ultimately responsible for the record rainfalls, the Russian Heat Wave, and the other meteorological weather extremes of 2010. Thank you for that.

THE PORTION THAT MOST PEOPLE READ AND DISMISSED

But you destroyed your efforts with the continuation of that sentence, which reads:

…however, there is also a significant global warming component [Gillett et al., 2008]. The human influence is systematic and persistent and can be thought of as the underlying warming of order 0.6C since the 1950s while there are large regional and temporal fluctuations superposed on this warming by natural variability.

There is no “significant global warming component” of “human influence” in the sea surface temperature records. Climate model studies such as Gillett et al (2008) Attribution of cyclogenesis region sea surface temperature change to anthropogenic influence and the Santer et al (2006) paper Gillett et al referenced, Forced and unforced ocean temperature changes in Atlantic and Pacific tropical cyclogenesis regions, fail to consider the long-term effects of major El Niño events. Those long-term aftereffects of the 1986/87/88 and 1997/98 El Niño events are blatantly obvious in satellite-era sea surface temperature data. More on that later.

Let’s take a look at how well the CMIP3 climate models simulated the lack of warming for the “Indian & Pacific Oceans Plus” sea surface temperature data over the last 19+ years. See Figure 4. The multi-model ensemble mean of the CMIP3-archived climate models simulate continued warming of that dataset during that period. The simulated sea surface temperatures marched happily on their way skyward. Why? Because they’re FORCED by greenhouse gases, while the sea surface temperatures of the global oceans are not. As noted on the graph, If The SST Anomalies Of The “Indian & Pacific Oceans Plus” Dataset Were Warmed By Greenhouse Gases They Would Have Warmed 0.31 Deg C.  But they haven’t warmed.

BUT YOU LATER NOTE THE CLIMATE MODELS HAVE PROBLEMS

You were realistic enough, though, to include the following as your final paragraph:

It remains a challenge for climate models to correctly simulate mean rainfall distributions, and as a result it is even more of a challenge to reproduce anomalies and associated teleconnections [Yang and DelSole, 2012], such as those observed in 2010. However, unless the diabatic heating, mainly from latent heating in precipitation linked to SST anomalies, is properly simulated in both its spatial and temporal character, it will likely not be possible to simulate, predict, or fully attribute blocking events and climate anomalies such as observed.

And that undermines any hope climate modelers may have at short-term (decadal or multidecadal) regional weather projections, which appears to be one of the main objectives of the IPCC’s upcoming 5thAssessment Report (AR5). Are you preparing policymakers to be disappointed?

CLIMATE MODELS STILL CAN’T SIMULATE ENSO

You noted that the ultimate causes of the 2010 weather events were the combine effects of the 2009/10 El Niño and the 2010/11 La Niña. However, you failed to mention that climate models still do not model ENSO properly after decades of modeling efforts. These model failings were discussed in detail in Guilyardi et al (2009) Understanding El Niño in Ocean-Atmosphere General Circulation Models: progress and challenges. That paper served as the basis for my recent blog post here, which was a preprint of one of the chapters from my book. Let me call your attention to one paragraph from Guilyardi et al (2009) that reads:

Because ENSO is the dominant mode of climate variability at interannual time scales, the lack of consistency in the model predictions of the response of ENSO to global warming currently limits our confidence in using these predictions to address adaptive societal concerns, such as regional impacts or extremes (Joseph and Nigam 2006; Power et al. 2006).

Climate models can’t simulate ENSO. And as you noted, models can’t simulate precipitation patterns. Another and: as I showed in my Figure 4, climate models assume sea surface temperatures are warmed by greenhouse gases, when they clearly are not.

In short, climate models have no value as tools to predict future climate based on projections of future greenhouse gas emissions. As shown in Figure 4, the only function they serve is to confirm that anthropogenic greenhouse gases DO NOT warm sea surface temperatures.

YOU PROVIDED A GRAPH OF THE SST ANOMALIES FOR ONLY ONE OF THE REGIONS

During my first pass through your paper, I noted that you had included a long-term graph of the seas surface temperature anomalies for only one of the four small regions you had examined. It showed an almost continuous warming of sea surface temperature anomalies since 1900. I’ve replicated your Figure 1 as my Figure 5 below. I’ve also added a horizontal line in red that represents the peak monthly SST anomaly for 2010.

Since you elected not to provide graphs of the other three regions, readers of your paper understand a couple of things. First, the graph you furnished provided the image you wanted to present—one of continuous warming—and, second, the graphs for the other small datasets likely did not warm in a similar fashion. They would be correct as shown in Figures 6, 7 and 8.

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The Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico data clearly show multidecadal variations consistent with the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. The North Australia sea surface temperature data, on the other hand, is in a region that can be warmed by a number of ENSO-related factors: (1) changes in atmospheric circulation caused by the El Niño that work their way eastward around the globe, (2) residual warm surface waters left over from an El Niño that are swept back to the western tropical Pacific when trade winds resume, (3) the aftereffects of downwelling Rossby waves that return warm subsurface waters to the western tropical Pacific at the end of strong El Niño events, and (4) by La Niña events. But you know that.

TWO REGIONS SHOW LITTLE TO NO WARMING IN RECENT DECADES

As illustrated in Figure 9, the sea surface temperature anomalies for the Gulf of Mexico subset have not warmed in 24 years—since its response to the El Niño event of 1986/87/88. And the North Australia sea surface temperature anomalies, Figure 10, have not warmed in 17 years—since its response to the 1994/95 El Niño. I’ve also highlighted the period of July 1990 to December 1994 just to show that the initial dip then occurred before the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

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ENSO IS THE PRIMARY CAUSE OF THE WARMING OF GLOBAL SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES FOR THE PAST 30 YEARS

If you’re not aware, for more than 3 ½ years, I have documented in dozens of blog posts that ENSO-caused natural variability, not anthropogenic greenhouse gases, is the primary cause of the warming of sea surface temperatures for the past 30 years. In fact, no anthropogenic component is evident in the warming of global oceans.

Further, as an aid to those without technical backgrounds who are interested in understanding the cause of the natural warming of the global sea surface temperatures, I have recently published an e-book in pdf form titled Who Turned on the Heat? – The Unsuspected Global Warming Culprit, El Niño-Southern Oscillation. The introductory blog post can be found here, and a preview is here, and you can purchase a copy here. It’s only US$8.00. Buy two or three. In fact, why not buy a copy for each of the members in your department?

The following three graphs sum up my argument. They are from my recent blog post The Warming of the Global Oceans – Are Manmade Greenhouse Gases Important or Impotent?

The sea surface temperature anomalies for the East Pacific Ocean (90S-90N, 180-80W) have not warmed in 30 years, Figure 11. That of course contradicts climate models, which show the East Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies should have warmed more than 0.4 deg C over that period if they were warmed by greenhouse gases.

The sea surface temperature anomalies for the Rest-of-the-World (90S-90N, 80W-180), Figure 12, show they warmed only in response to the major El Niño events of 1986/87/88 and 1997/98—and possibly 2009/10, but it’s a little soon to tell. Between those major El Niño events, there is no evidence of warming. Though not illustrated in this letter, I’ve confirmed that with linear trends, and I’ve further isolated the North Atlantic from the Rest-of-the-World data to show that the additional mode of natural variability in the North Atlantic—the AMO—is what keeps the sea surface temperature anomalies of the Rest-of-the-World data so flat between the major El Niño events. That is, the sea surface temperatures for the combined South Atlantic-Indian-West Pacific data progressively cool between the major El Niño events. Once again, they should be warming according to climate models, not cooling.

In your 2002 paper, Evolution of El Nino–Southern Oscillation and global atmospheric surface temperatures, you provide the following disclaimer (my boldface):

The main tool used in this study is correlation and regression analysis that, through least squares fitting, tends to emphasize the larger events. This seems appropriate as it is in those events that the signal is clearly larger than the noise. Moreover, the method properly weights each event (unlike many composite analyses). Although it is possible to use regression to eliminate the linear portion of the global mean temperature signal associated with ENSO, the processes that contribute regionally to the global mean differ considerably, and the linear approach likely leaves an ENSO residual.

To illustrate those ENSO residuals in the Rest-of-the-World sea surface temperature anomalies, all one needs to do is detrend the Rest-of-the-World data and compare it to scaled and lagged NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies. See Figure 13. It clearly shows the Rest-of-the World sea surface temperature anomalies do not cool proportionally during the La Niña events of 1988/89 and 1998/99/00/01, which followed the two strong El Niño events. I have explained in detail in my book why the Rest-of-the-World sea surface temperature anomalies do not cool during those La Niña events.

Consider this: If the Rest-of-the-World sea surface temperature anomalies had cooled proportionally during those two La Nina events, there likely would be no long-term trend in that dataset. That is, the Rest-of-the-World data would look very similar to the East Pacific data.

Before you attempt to argue using other datasets, I have also addressed the natural warming of Ocean Heat Content, Land-Plus-Sea Surface Temperature and Lower Troposphere Temperature anomalies in my past posts and in my book.

CLOSING

Thank you for confirming that the combined effects of the 2009/10 El Niño and the 2010/11 La Niña were responsible for the 2010 Russian Heat Wave and other climate extremes of 2010.

Thank you for confirming that your belief that the “very high sea surface temperatures” in specific regions were caused by “global warming from human influences” has its basis in blatantly and fatally flawed climate models.

I hope your research efforts can someday return to the days when they were not tainted by the erroneous assumption that anthropogenic greenhouse gases have a measurable impact on the sea surface temperatures of the global oceans. On second thought, I’m having a hard time recalling any of your papers when you did not at least imply a manmade global warming component.

I understand the ClimateGate emails are kind of a sore subject with you, but I just wanted to remind you of one of your statements in your October 14, 2009 email to Michael Mann, which was, I believe, a follow-up to your infamous “travesty” email. You wrote:

Where did the heat go? We know there is a build up of ocean heat prior to El Nino, and a discharge (and sfc T warming) during late stages of El Nino, but is the observing system sufficient to track it?

The aftereffects of the naturally created heat, in the form of warm water, from the 1986/87/88 and 1997/98 El Niño events are plainly evident in Figures 12 and 13.

Sincerely,

Bob Tisdale

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49 thoughts on “Tisdales’ Blog Memo to Kevin Trenberth at NCAR

  1. Curiously, I did not see much of any ocean heat that could be responisble for the US warming in the mid 1930′s. Or maybe look eslewhere?

    The key observation is the “public” sees the CAGW notion as bunk. But, the 97% of the X% of the Y% press on.

  2. Doctor Tisdale:
    I think I just felt a blood pressure spike tremor from the south (towards the Carolinas). The rumbling is still growing.

    Terrific post and very insightful. Thank you!

  3. Bob 1 Kevin – well, he’s probably wondering if he should even take the field.

    I particularly liked the point about how many times the word extreme gets used by Dr Trenberth. Marks the difference between reporting your results and trying to push a message.

  4. Hopefully a day will come when Trenberth can confess he was under the thumbs of patrons and benefactors he dared not mess with. Hopefully there is a true scientist hard at work under the politics. If so, he will appreciate your work, and rather than resenting your lack of patience he will be amazed at how patient you’ve been. Hopefully….

    In the meantime, tell it like it is!

  5. Trenberth says “…..underlying warming of order 0.6C since the 1950s while there are large regional and temporal fluctuations superposed on this warming by natural variability”

    Henry says
    my data set also shows (global) warming of ca. 0.6 or 0.7 since 1950
    but warming turned negative (into cooling) since 1995 (looking at maxima= energy-in)
    or ca. 1998 when looking at means=energy out (when earth was the warmest)
    As does mine, most data sets show cooling from 2000. It is ca. 0.1 or ca. 0.2 degrees C or K since 2000. My data set also shows that (global) cooling will continue until ca. 2040.

  6. “And some fell on stony ground.” In other words, Trenberth undoubtedly believes he is far too important to respond, or even to read the article. He certainly would not want to read anything which systematically shreds his ‘research’, like has been done here.

    When you are dealing with people whose mantra is: “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up”, it is always the same.

  7. Minor embarrassment, Bob Tisdale, but who *are* you?

    Do I know you….?

    I’ve searched your blog and the entire internet for some sort of bio, to no avail.
    ….Lady in Red

  8. “The simulated sea surface temperatures marched happily on their way skyward. Why? Because they’re FORCED by greenhouse gases, while the sea surface temperatures of the global oceans are not.”

    That is it in a nutshell.

    Overall, a fine forensic deconstruction of the alarmist position.

  9. Sorry, I don’t grasp this paragraph, relative to the charts below it: “Since you elected not to provide graphs of the other three regions, readers of your paper understand a couple of things. First, the graph you furnished provided the image you wanted to present—one of continuous warming—and, second, the graphs for the other small datasets likely did not warm in a similar fashion. They would be correct as shown in Figures 6, 7 and 8.”

    The warming trends seem similar to me for 6 and 7, but not 8:
    Figure 5 0.059 Deg C/Decade
    Figure 6 0.057
    Figure 7 0.053
    Figure 8 0.031

    What am I missing here??

  10. Whoa. Thanks, Bob. That was both understandable and intellectually stimulating. I only hope those at NCAR can handle it.

  11. It remains a challenge for climate models to correctly simulate mean rainfall distributions

    Would the man-made signal disappear if simulations replaced man-made CO2 with cloud cover? The models can’t simulate rainfall because they can’t simulate cloudcover and tradewinds.

    In a rational world, cloudcover would be ruled out before man-made CO2 became the default explanation.

  12. I should have noted, Bob, that your post was EXTREMELY understandable and EXTREMELY stimulating. I liked it EXTREMELY and I expect you will see many other EXTREMELY complimentary comments regarding this EXTREMELY excellent post.

    I hope that wasn’t too extreme.

  13. “Has Kevin Trenberth replied in any way?”

    I’d be very surprised it he gave this anything more than a cursory glance. He’s “all in,” and there’s no going back. The last thing he wants or needs (from his point of view) is to argue with a skeptic who knows his stuff. Of course, that doesn’t mean he won’t write back, but any response would be entirely useless as to the substantive points raised by B.T.

  14. “Has Kevin Trenberth replied in any way?”
    I find a visual would help with this question. Picture fingers in ears and screaming ” LALALALALALALALALALAL , make the bad men go away, LALALALALALAL.

  15. Bob:
    >>
    In short, climate models have no value as tools to predict future climate based on projections of future greenhouse gas emissions. As shown in Figure 4, the only function they serve is to confirm that anthropogenic greenhouse gases DO NOT warm sea surface temperatures.
    >>

    That’s a very good way of approaching the modelling problem. Rather than saying models are not very good and need to be corrected (which they will take a decade to do without ever admitting they were wrong) , taking the models for what they are and deriving the conclusions they impose is a very good approach.

    climate models using strong CO2 forcing (based on hypothesised feedbacks amplifiying the physically known effect) fail to reproduce past climate even moderately well beyond the “last 50 years” calibration period. They also failed abismally in prediciting the first decase of the 21st century.

    Presenting this as “anthropogenic greenhouse gases DO NOT warm sea surface temperatures” is probably the only scientifically valid result that can be drawn from these models.

    AFAIK, you are the first person to put it in those terms. That’s twice in a row I’m impressed with what you are presenting.

    Well done. And as you may have noticed I don’t give completments lightly.

  16. Lady in Red says:
    September 20, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Minor embarrassment, Bob Tisdale, but who *are* you?

    I’ve searched your blog and the entire internet for some sort of bio, to no avail.

    I confess I’ve wondered who you are, hang on … Ah, Google says 9,870,000 results on a search for |”lady in red”|. I guess I can answer the question myself, I’ll go off and read for a bit.

  17. Thanks, Bob – great presentation. Do you think Kevin and friends will take away the message or will they find a reason to ignore your observations? This all reminds me of the person that was looking for car keys under a street light but not in the dark where they were dropped. The climate folks focus on the thin air and ignore the ‘plainly evident warm water.’
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    We currently have a lightening caused fire burning through the forest north of us here in central Washington State. The closest edge to me is about 6 miles and 3,000 feet up. I have hiked, ridden horses, driven thru, and cleared downed tress from a section of trail in this forest. It is a forest accustomed to long dry summers and high temperatures. It is (or was) loaded with fuel of long dead trees and insect-damaged mature trees. The current fire is not unexpected, not unprecedented, and not extreme. If anyone claims this and nearby fires are a result of global warming – feel free to quote me to the contrary.

    Current fire areas can be seen at the following link – scroll down and click on the KMZ File – then look at central WA — southwest of Wenatchee and north of Ellensburg.

    http://activefiremaps.fs.fed.us/

  18. Bob

    Quite a “behind the woodshed” wuppin’! Well deserved, I might add.

    Two questions from Fig 12

    1) why the perdiotic step changes?

    2) why was the ’97/’98 step change twice the size?

    The ’97/’98 El Niño was exceptionally strong. Could this be due to an extra-solar energy input such as a weak Gamma Ray burst?

    Bill

  19. I don’t feel being smart enough to comment on accuracy of the whole article, but some of these graphs are an interesting game of deception. For instance, Figure 5, 6, 7, and 8. Notice the vertical scale – first (which appears in the paper) is scaled from -1°C to +1°C. 5 and 6 are scaled from -1.5°C to +1.5°C, and the last is from -2°C to +2°C. No wonder the linear regression appears to have smaller slope in the last three. It only appears. Figures 5 and 6 have actually exactly the same, and Figure 7 only a little bit less. No wonder just one example was considered sufficient for the paper. Yes, extremes are different – but they are extremes and don’t really last.

    I’m no friend of linear regressions in any kind of graphs related to climate. That means I’m also no friend of linear regressions with arbitrarily chosen start and end points. There’s way too much of that in this article for me to cope with.

  20. Interesting and lucid explanation but I also wonder wuwt with respect to Figs. 6,7,& 8 as mentioned by
    [@jorgekafkazar says:
    September 20, 2012 at 9:15 am]

    Thanks.

  21. jorgekafkazar says: “Sorry, I don’t grasp this paragraph, relative to the charts below it: ‘Since you elected not to provide graphs of the other three regions, readers of your paper understand a couple of things. First, the graph you furnished provided the image you wanted to present—one of continuous warming—and, second, the graphs for the other small datasets likely did not warm in a similar fashion. They would be correct as shown in Figures 6, 7 and 8.’”

    Yup, that portion you quoted is poorly written. It really does not get the point across. What I was trying to point out was that Trenberth & Fasullo had only presented the Northern Indian Ocean subset because the high in 2010 for was a new record, where no prior year came close, while with the other three subsets those levels had been achieved before, especially with the Gulf of Mexico data. Including the other three small regions would not have had the same visual impact.

  22. F. Ross, sorry, looking at it now, that paragraph was awkward. To save myself a couple of minutes, I’ll repeat my reply to jorgekafkazar:

    Yup, that portion you quoted is poorly written. It really does not get the point across. What I was trying to point out was that Trenberth & Fasullo had only presented the Northern Indian Ocean subset because the high in 2010 for was a new record, where no prior year came close, while with the other three subsets those levels had been achieved before, especially with the Gulf of Mexico data. Including the other three small regions would not have had the same visual impact.

    Regards

  23. Bill Yarber says with respect to Figure 12: “1) why the perdiotic step changes?”

    Short answer: That’s how the sea surface temperatures for the “rest of the world” (other than the east Pacific) responds to a major El Niño event. A strong El Niño event releases a huge volume of naturally created warm water from below the surface of the western tropical Pacific. During an El Niño, all of that warm water sloshes into the eastern tropical Pacific. After the El Niño, the warm water sloshes back into the “rest of the world” subset—on the surface.

    Longer answer:

    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-warming-of-the-global-oceans-are-manmade-greenhouse-gases-important-or-impotent-2/

    The really long answer is provided as my book, introduced here:

    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/everything-you-every-wanted-to-know-about-el-nino-and-la-nina-2/

    You asked, “2) why was the ’97/’98 step change twice the size?”

    It was a stronger El Niño event, with more “leftover” warm water.

    You asked, “The ’97/’98 El Niño was exceptionally strong. Could this be due to an extra-solar energy input such as a weak Gamma Ray burst?”

    The 1997/98 El Niño was fueled by warm water created during the rather weak 1995/96 La Niña. Clarification: It was weak in the area where sea surface temperatures are measured as an ENSO index (the NINO3.4 region) but the trade winds were very strong in the western tropical Pacific, which pushed cloud cover aside and allowed the sun to warm the western tropical Pacific to depth, and create the warm water that fueled the 1997/98 El Niño.

  24. Thanks Bob.

    There’s a rout in progress. The independents marching for the truth hold the high ground. You sir, have your place in real history.

  25. The Minister of Climate Change Issues, Tim Groser, in New Zealand states unequivocally that the evidence for human caused climate change is ‘convincing’ based on the compilations of scientific research by the IPCC, the American Meteorological Society, The Royal Society of New Zealand and the academies of science from 19 different countries. He states that this is not a position derived from ‘consensus’ but one arising from the science itself.

    I will refer him to this analysis. Thank you Dr Tisdale.

  26. Lady in Red says: “Minor embarrassment, Bob Tisdale, but who *are* you?
    “Do I know you….?”

    I’ve been asked that same question in that same way by a young lady, but she was wearing black that summer afternoon in Houston—over a decade ago.

    Me? A simple blogger who likes his privacy. And now I’ll ask the same thing, Lady in Red. Do I know you? You can leave a reply on any thread at my blog if you like.

  27. Old Nanook says: “Dr. Trenberth needs to retire and return to New Zealand.”

    Please no, not New Zealand. I love lamb, and that’s where it comes from. He’d probably claim they alter albedo and try to have them outlawed.

  28. Bob T.,
    Could the proportion of black sheep to white sheep be used as a control to adjust Earth’s albedo? [Young lady in a black dress – I think I met her.]

  29. John F. Hultquist: Of course, the odds on her being the same young lady would be similar to those of anthropogenic greenhouse gases warming the oceans–about a gajillion to one. But I had to ask.

  30. Travesty Mann replied yet? Or would that be a violation of team rules, I mean actually debating real world measurements & the implications there of, Kevin Trenberth is indicative of the early failure of the school system in NZ.

  31. Could ENSO be the beating heart of the global climate system?

    Hong and Soh 1998 studied “Steady-State Solutions in Globally Coupled Nonlinear Oscillators
    with Pulsatile Interactions” (Journal of the Korean Physical Society, Vol. 32, No. 1, January 1998, pp. 1419)

    The model they referred to was in fact the chordate heart beat, a well known nonlinear oscillator. Wading through the maths and trying to distill the essential points here. Some of it may have relevance to coupled atmosphere – ocean systems such as the Bjerknes feedback which underlies the ENSO.

    Here is their abstract in bite-sized chunks:

    Globally coupled oscillators with a pulsatile interaction were studied. We modi ed the model of Kuramoto by replacing the piecewise linear terms with nonlinearly self-interacting terms.

    It would show some enlightenment if climate models could evolve from sets of “piecewise linear terms” to “nonlinearly interacting terms”.

    We obtained the steady-state solutions, and determined the range of the parameters in connection with the number of possible steady states.

    Here is the key attribute of such nonlinear systems that resembles Bob’s interpretation of the ENSO. Although in such a system infinite states are possible, in reality one gets a “limit cycle” or a limited number of states, and the system at certain moments jumps between such states. The heartbeat is a rather extreme example of this, the coupling in question is very strong and positive thus the pulsatile oscillation between states in regular – at least in the healthy heart (what the authors are studying is what leads to pathological cardiac irregularity).

    So at large el Nino events the global temperature makes a step change? This looks like movement from one to another steady states of a pulsatile nonlinear oscillatory system.

    We analyzed the linear stability of the steady-state solutions by using the asymptotic theory under the assumption of weak noise and weak coupling.

    “Asymptotic here refers – I think – to the circumstances leading up to a change in state.

    Here is another interesting nugget:

    By application of this, we may suggest that the physiological phenomena, such as the variation of the heart rate due to the alteration of the coupling strength, can be understood. We may interpret the bifurcation of Eq. (28) as an instability point of heart beats. As the coupling becomes stronger, the heart beat changes in its frequency
    and shape, and at the critical coupling, it becomes unpredictable because of the bifurcation.

    A possible analogy is that alterations in coupling strength in one or more atmosphere-ocean systems could feed into the nonlinear system to result in a change to the frequency and waveform of the oscillation – such as a change in the pattern of ENSO events.

    Here is the URL – a tad long:

    http://www.google.com.hk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=nonlinear+oscillation+pulsatility&source=web&cd=12&ved=0CCkQFjABOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kps.or.kr%2Fhome%2Fkor%2Fjournal%2Flibrary%2FdownloadPdf.asp%3Farticleuid%3D%257BB2FB7ED2-29BD-4AAA-AC25-9A92783E54EF%257D&ei=Y91dUIrkIsKfiQeDnIHIAg&usg=AFQjCNGFVPzwl6iHA9iNrU9XzHV1sGNLcA

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