ENSO 2013 – Boy or Girl?

We’re Expecting: Will it be a Boy, a Girl, or ENSO-Neutral in 2013?

There was lots of interest in the short-lived El Niño conditions in 2012. Recently, they very quickly transformed into the present weak La Niña conditions. NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies are right at NOAA’s -0.5 threshold for La Niña conditions.  I’ve received some questions about them over the past few weeks, and Steven Goddard has a recent post about it here. There are many bloggers who study El Nino-Southern Oscillation, using many different variables, so the intent of this post is to get a discussion started about what the future will bring for El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in 2013.

It appears the sea surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific might continue to cool below the present NINO3.4 values of -0.52 deg C shown in Figure 1. The graph is from my recent post Annual Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomaly Update for 2012. The Reynolds OI.v2 data is available through the NOAA NOMADS website.

Figure 1 Weekly NINO3.4

Figure 1

The reason I say that is there’s lots of cool subsurface water along the equatorial Pacific, a result of the last upwelling (cool) Kelvin wave. See Figure 2, which is a gif animation from NOAA here. (You may have to click-start the animation.) As you’ll note, at present, there’s are some warm subsurface waters awaiting the next downwelling (warm) Kelvin wave, and they would warm surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific if and when work their way to the east.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Refer also to the Hovmoller diagram, Figure 3, from the most recent NOAA ENSO update. See page 16 there.

Figure 3

Figure 3

How long will the existing La Niña conditions last? Australia’s BOM is projecting ENSO neutral conditions through July 2013, while NOAA is being more cautious and limiting their ENSO-neutral projection only through boreal spring (though the models they present show the ENSO-neutral conditions extending into the summer). Refer to the most recent updates from BOM here and NOAA here.

HOWEVER

There’s an off-equatorial pool of warm water in the northwestern tropical Pacific that shows up in the NODC ocean heat content data, Figure 4. The map was created at the KNMI Climate Explorer.

Figure 4

Figure 4

It also appears in the AVISO sea level anomalies for Dec 2012, Figure 5.

Figure 5

Figure 5

And it shows up in the JPL sea level anomalies, Figure 6, but it’s not as pronounced .

Figure 6

Figure 6

If that pool heads north or works its way into the Indian Ocean, then it won’t be involved in the next downwelling (warm) Kelvin wave to scoot across the equator in the Pacific, but if it migrates south, it could help to strengthen the next one and bring us back to El Niño conditions again in 2013.

Those were great big ifs.

INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT THE EL NIÑO AND LA NIÑA AND THEIR LONG-TERM EFFECTS ON GLOBAL SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES?

Why should you be interested? Sea surface temperature records indicate El Niño and La Niña events are responsible for the warming of global sea surface temperature anomalies over the past 30 years and ocean heat content since 1955, not manmade greenhouse gases. I’ve searched sea surface temperature records and ocean heat content data for more than 4 years (more than 3 years for the ocean heat content data), and I can find no evidence of an anthropogenic greenhouse gas signal. That is, the warming of the global oceans has been caused by Mother Nature, not anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

I’ve recently published my e-book (pdf) about the phenomena called El Niño and La Niña. It’s titled Who Turned on the Heat? with the subtitle The Unsuspected Global Warming Culprit, El Niño Southern Oscillation. It is intended for persons (with or without technical backgrounds) interested in learning about El Niño and La Niña events and in understanding the natural causes of the warming of our global oceans for the past 31 years. Because land surface air temperatures simply exaggerate the natural warming of the global oceans over annual and multidecadal time periods, the vast majority of the warming taking place on land is natural as well. The book is the product of years of research of the satellite-era sea surface temperature data that’s available to the public via the internet. It presents how the data accounts for its warming—and there are no indications the warming was caused by manmade greenhouse gases. None at all.

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77 thoughts on “ENSO 2013 – Boy or Girl?

  1. Well we know that NOAA/NASA will predict a super Nino, and consequently the warmest year ever.

    And then will adjust the data to until they get it.

  2. Shouldn’t this: “appears the sea surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific might continue to cool below the present NINO3.4 values of -0.52 deg C shown in Figure 1.”

    Be more like this: “appears the sea surface temperature anomaly in the eastern equatorial Pacific might continue to cool below the present NINO3.4 values of -0.52 deg C shown in Figure 1.”

  3. I say neutered in the stall-it will tip back and forth but mostly neutral-then back to nina….
    That Indian Ocean warm poll will migrate north….
    Just guessing however..

  4. There is an animation of 0-300 metre ocean heat content from the Godas system which shows the whole ocean and, in which, one can see there is much cool water flowing in from the north and south Pacific on the eastern side.

    And the latest update of the equatorial cross-section shows there has been considerable cooling in the last week -5.0C are showing up which is as cold as this cross-section gets.

    A typical measure is the Temperature anomaly in the 0-300 metre equatorial Pacific from 180W to 100W which is down to -0.6C in the last week.

    And this measure typically leads Nino 3.4 by 1 to 2 months so yeah we are heading down to La Nina territory.

  5. Bill Illis says: “There is an animation of 0-300 metre ocean heat content from the Godas system…”

    Thanks for that link. Looks like the “leftovers” from the flash-in-the-pan El Nino are making their way into the East Indian Ocean.

  6. Michael Mann has talked about global warming leading to La Nina like conditions, yielding more droughts. He also concluded that it meant climate models vastly overstate warming.

  7. You’ve said many time that “El Nino” is responsible for the ocean warming. What I haven’t understood from your discussion is where the energy is coming from? Clearly the “enhanced” greenhouse effect doesn’t correlate to the ocean temperature (“It’s a travesty!”), but just having hot and cold water sloshing back and forth across the ocean can’t increase the total energy of the system… so that’s where you lose me.

    No snark intended, I just like that particular bit of ignorance eliminated.

    EC

  8. Hi Bob, and thanks for all your postings about ENSO. It must be quite a reward for you to see the mainstream climatologists one by one blaim ENSO for being more than just a yearly variation (read: noise). I’ve read your book, and i’ve learned a lot from that and from Kristians norwegian interpretation of your work.

    Have you read his “Warming by the Sun or by the Atmosphere …?”?

    http://klimaforskning.com/forum/index.php/topic,1148.0.html

  9. We’re Expecting: Will it be a Boy, a Girl, or ENSO-Neutral in 2013?

    Is this a ‘pregnant pause’?
    MtK

  10. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation represents an east west pattern of ocean heat that is not just driven by residual waters from previous El Nino and La NIna events but the PDO in turns alters the Walker Circulation in ways that encourages one cycle over the other. The current cool phase of the PDO encourages more La Nina events. However weakening trade winds will allow more El Ninos. Declining solar activity reduces the Hadley circulation and thus the trade winds allowing the warm pool to more readily slosh eastward in an EL NIno, as appears to be the case during the Little Ice Age. So we are in a situation where current ocean surface temperatures promote more La NInas but solar activity promotes more El NInos. I suspect we will see more back and forth conditions in contrast to the multiyear El Ninos of the 1980s and 90s. Also because the ocean stores more heat during a La NIna but the solar activity has waned, I would suspect a cooling warm pool and a smaller supply of heated water for future El Ninos. In contrast to Jim Hansen’s predicted super El Ninos I would predict smaller extremes. This also suggests there will be less of an east west temperature gradient and thus I would predict shorter intervals between El Nino and La NIna and more neutral events.

  11. You’ve said many time that “El Nino” is responsible for the ocean warming. What I haven’t understood from your discussion is where the energy is coming from?

    #############
    it comes from the only sources it can. Solar input and amplification via GHGs.
    The ocean cycles cannot add to or subtract from the energy balance. They dont cause global warming. they are the way that warming is expressed. They are not the cause of long term trends.

  12. Ethically Civil says,
    “You’ve said many time that “El Nino” is responsible for the ocean warming. What I haven’t understood from your discussion is where the energy is coming from? ”

    I really recommend Bob’s book, $8, as it explains this very clearly. I am a layman and it is an excellent read which is easy to follow for me and therefore for most other people as well.

  13. This sucks. Here in CA we are getting ready to utter the D word. I hate La Nina and hate negative PDO even more.

  14. Here is a high resolution (1/4 deg) OI SST AVHRR map from Jan 14, rendered with WebGL. It does show a marked La Nina cool jet in the E Pacific.

  15. Bill Illis, “one can see there is much cool water flowing in from the north and south Pacific on the eastern side.”

    How do you tell from the gif that it is cool water from the poles and not increased upwelling from below? La Nina conditions increase the California and Humboldt currents and ekman pumping then increases upwelling of cooler water. However I agree that the increased currents would also deliver more cold water equatorward. So I suspect both dynamics but I can’t tell from your gif

  16. Am I right to think that a third la-nina, is going to see a continuation of this past year’s drought? I’ve recently gotten the idea from somewhere, that multiple la-ninas have that effect.

  17. Bill Illis, From where did you derive or obtain the graph of equatorial heat anomalies and to what depths do those anomalies represent ?

  18. Ethically Civil says:
    January 17, 2013 at 11:36 am where?

    The ocean from 30 N to 30 S is a big region. Clear sky allows solar energy to enter the water. No GHG amplification needed. Trade Winds move the warm water westward and so on . . .

  19. Steven Mosher says:
    January 17, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    You’ve said many time that “El Nino” is responsible for the ocean warming. What I haven’t understood from your discussion is where the energy is coming from?

    #############
    it comes from the only sources it can. Solar input and amplification via GHGs.

    ————————————————————————————————–

    Not quite.

    The energy comes from solar input (plus a little geothermal). For GHGs to “amplify” that input would require an additional source to supply the difference.or the spontaneous creation of energy from nowhere. I can’t imagine even Hansen wouldn’t suggest that GHGs can do THAT?

  20. ALL one can say at present is that there will be no STRONG El Nino. Anything else can happen, from cold event to weak to moderate. warm event.

  21. I hope ENSO doesn’t happen. Last time that happened we got the hottest year on record (1998, you know as in it hasn’t warmed since 1998). I thought with all the snow around this year was going to be the coldest year this century and bet a friend $1000 that it would. I wish you had told me about this ENZO business last week before I agreed to the bet!

  22. Figure 1 looks like the trend typically switches directions near the winter solstices. If the downward trend continues, it would break that tradition.

  23. Ethically Civil says: “You’ve said many time that “El Nino” is responsible for the ocean warming. What I haven’t understood from your discussion is where the energy is coming from?”
    Think of ENSO as a recharge-discharge oscillator, with La Niña as the recharge phase and El Niño as the discharge phase. Here are a few illustrations from my book to help explain La Niña and the recharge phase.

    Regards

  24. Ethically Civil says:
    January 17, 2013 at 11:36 am

    You’ve said many time that “El Nino” is responsible for the ocean warming. What I haven’t understood from your discussion is where the energy is coming from?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Check out Bob’s videos. That I found was made things much clearer for me.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/BobTisdale1

    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/the-natural-warming-of-the-global-oceans-videos-parts-1-2/

  25. James at 48 says:
    January 17, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    This sucks. Here in CA we are getting ready to utter the D word. I hate La Nina and hate negative PDO even more.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I am in sunny NC and they are predicting 3 inches of SNOW, we don’t GET snow where I live. It is why I left New Hampshire, to get away from shoveling snow. GRRRrrrrr

  26. jim Steele says: “The current cool phase of the PDO encourages more La Nina events.”

    The PDO lags ENSO. The PDO is an aftereffect of ENSO and the sea level pressure of the North Pacific. And, don’t forget the Southern Hemisphere—the South Pacific. The Southern Ocean has been cooling since the 1980s, and all of the cool water has been working its way north along the coast of South America.

    jim Steele says: “However weakening trade winds will allow more El Ninos.”

    If we’re seeing more La Ninas, then the trade winds should be strengthening. And that’s the case for the western tropical Pacific, and the central tropical Pacific. Only a small portion of the eastern tropical Pacific has had a reduction in trade wind strength:

    jim Steele says: “Declining solar activity reduces the Hadley circulation…”

    Do you have a link to a website or papers?

    Regards

  27. @Mosher.

    Quite the display – Certainly there a far more energy sources than GHGs so your assertion is incorrect. Direct exposure to incoming insolation of all wavelengths add to the sum total of inputs, plus there is geo energies derived from Nuclear and gravitational forces on the planet – Lets not forget the direct affect of gravitational tidal forces on the ocean and particle collisions (nuclear/chemical and kinetic forces) which warm the thermosphere – huge forces are at work other than the minor effect of the Magic CO2.

    Also Steven (and a lot of people here) of people conflate energy and temperature. The Temperature of a gas is not only related to it’s energy. The Ideal Gas Law gives PV=nRT or T=PV/nR. The Temperature at a given energy is dependent on its volume density (or PV) at the earths surface is pretty constant overall though it does vary from place to place.

    Also given that the ocean has a vastly greater heat capacity that the atmosphere it’s entirely possible that the oceans could net liberate or sink sufficient extra energy to raise the by comparison very low energy capacity of the atmosphere for long periods to give a slight trend overall for one or two thousand years. No “extra Energy” is required overall what you are looking at can simply be a longer energy exchange cycle between the ocean and atmosphere – nothing magic there.

    While I am on this point the warmists (like you) like to talk about feedback – you want to say that the climate has a loop gain of around 0.7 – which implies a forward loop gain after the known negative feedbacks are accounted of 0.95 (impossible I know, but warmists don’t seem to be noted for their grip on reality) but they use a scalar model – all the feedbacks are assumed to be instantaneous! Thats just not physically possible – we Engineers use vector models for feedback calculation which take account of the lags and therefore we can predict closely the behaviour of a system with feedback. The Climate fraternity don’t even know what all the lags are let alone be capable of modelling them! They are like infants looking at the world for the first time.

  28. Steven Mosher says: “it comes from the only sources it can. Solar input and amplification via GHGs. The ocean cycles cannot add to or subtract from the energy balance.”

    The data contradicts your assumptions about GHGs. First, the fuel for El Ninos is supplied by the ocean heat content of the tropical Pacific. Between 1955 and 1995, tropical Pacific ocean heat content only warmed during the 3-year La Nina events of 1954-57 and 1973-76. Ocean heat content there cooled after those 3-year La Ninas:

    Then there was the 1995/96 La Nina. It provided the fuel for the 1997/98 super El Nino.

    The 1998-2001 La Nina recharged the heat discharged the heat discharged by the 1997/98 El Nino:

    And the tropical Pacific has been cooling since then:

    There’s no evidence of greenhouse gas-induced warming.

  29. jim Steele says: “Bill Illis, From where did you derive or obtain the graph of equatorial heat anomalies and to what depths do those anomalies represent ?”

    Just in case Bill doesn’t return for a while, I know it can be found through this NOAA webpage:

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/index.shtml

    Specifically the “weekly ENSO update”:

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

    See page 10.

  30. jim Steele says:
    January 17, 2013 at 1:23 pm
    Bill Illis, “one can see there is much cool water flowing in from the north and south Pacific on the eastern side.”
    How do you tell from the gif that it is cool water from the poles and not increased upwelling from below? La Nina conditions increase the California and Humboldt currents and ekman pumping then increases upwelling of cooler water. However I agree that the increased currents would also deliver more cold water equatorward. So I suspect both dynamics but I can’t tell from your gif
    Bill Illis, From where did you derive or obtain the graph of equatorial heat anomalies and to what depths do those anomalies represent ?
    ————————————

    The Ocean is 3D and it has typical currents that flow in certain patterns at different latitudes, at different depths (which are often backwards from the surface currents) and have a seasonal patterns as well. After watching this for a long time and specifically seeking out this info, I can say the answer to your first question is Both.

    The cold water is coming up from below in the 150 metre deep Cromwell / Equatorial Pacific Under-Current (which flows west to east at 150 metres depth) and from the surface to 150 metre deep California and Humbolt currents which are part of the north Pacific gyre and the south Pacific gyre. Beyond this, there is a north-equatorial counter current at 8N (which flows west-to-east) and a north-equatorial counter-under-current (which flows east-to-west at 150 metres depth) and southern-equatorial-counter-current versions of both of these (which for some reason are not as strong as their northern counter-parts).

    There are also three upwelling currents next to Central America sometimes called the Tehuantepec upwelling currents, which are not understood that well since we don’t have good bouy coverage of the region, but which can provide surprising changes in ocean temperatures.

    ALL of these are filtering into the Nino regions at the equator in the Pacific at the Galapagos Islands which is where the ENSO starts.

    After that, it is also a coupled phenomenon with the atmosphere. The trade winds move the surface water to the west. The temperature of the ocean water itself determines where the thrunderstorms will develop and these have a huge impact on the amount of long-wave radiation which escapes from the ocean. Near the International Dateline, out-going radiation can be +/- 50 watts/m2 depending on the state of the ENSO which is an order of magnitude higher variation than any other place on Earth. The clouds, caused by the warmth of the ocean, actually hold the heat in and allow the heat to migrate to the rest of the planet (or escape).

    Rotation of the Earth makes winds blow east to west at the equator – surface is pushed in the same direction by the wind – Cold water flows in from the feeder currents – La Nina – trade winds blow even stronger – even cooler La Nina – no clouds form at the equatorial International Dateline – more radiation escapes from the still relatively warm equatorial Pacific – planet cools off because the equator does not have / is not providing so much warmth – ocean gyres and currents eventually move warm water back in, recirculating the previous El Nino waters mostly – now we have a new El Nino – oscillation back and forth – very hard to predict how such a big system will work in the medium-term-future – easier in the short-term.

    The equatorial temperature anomaly data is here (and the chart I used, used to be on the net but it isn’t anymore) It is only in the weekly ENSO briefing from the NOAA/CPC.

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/index/heat_content_index.txt

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/GODAS/pent_gif/

  31. I imagine the failure of the El Nino to develop as expected is messing up the fellows who are good at long range forecasting. I recall Joe D’Aleo stating a weak El Nino after a La Nina often went hand in hand with a cold winter over the lower 48 states. However what does it mean when the El Nino poops out so swiftly?

    It goes to show you long range forecasting can be messed up by a failure of long range forecasting. If the El Nino does not materialize, everything else is compromised.

  32. Another effect that affects the long range forecasts is where the heat is located in the Pacific. Some El Ninos have the warm anomaly centered just off the coast of Peru, while others have the warmth centered towards the center of the Pacific (and are called “Dateline” or “Modoki” El Ninos.) As I recall it is this second sort, when they occur after a La Nina, that indicate a cold winter may be at hand for the lower 48. (The big El Nino of 1998 was of the first sort, and didn’t lead to a particularly bad winter.)

    The question is, if the center of the Pacific is warmer than the east, does it matter all that much if it is “officially” an El Nino. Could it even be “officially” a La Nina, and still have the effects that generate a cold winter over the lower 48?

    This is something we are about to learn about, this winter.

    (As a sidelight, the “Modoki” El Nino’s were not really known about until satellites revealed them in the 1980’s. As I recall, when they were discovered some claimed they were new and unprecedented, and due to…(drum roll)…Global Warming.)

  33. bobl says:
    January 17, 2013 at 3:49 pm
    @Mosher.

    Brilliant post. Your last two paragraphs emphasize the importance of discovering the natural processes involved and the fact that Warmists simply overlook these natural processes. You write:

    “Also given that the ocean has a vastly greater heat capacity that the atmosphere it’s entirely possible that the oceans could net liberate or sink sufficient extra energy to raise the by comparison very low energy capacity of the atmosphere for long periods to give a slight trend overall for one or two thousand years. No “extra Energy” is required overall what you are looking at can simply be a longer energy exchange cycle between the ocean and atmosphere – nothing magic there.”

    “A longer energy exchange cycle” is a behavior of a natural process that must be understood through empirical investigation. You write:

    “While I am on this point the warmists (like you) like to talk about feedback – you want to say that the climate has a loop gain of around 0.7 – which implies a forward loop gain after the known negative feedbacks are accounted of 0.95 (impossible I know, but warmists don’t seem to be noted for their grip on reality) but they use a scalar model – all the feedbacks are assumed to be instantaneous! Thats just not physically possible – we Engineers use vector models for feedback calculation which take account of the lags and therefore we can predict closely the behaviour of a system with feedback. The Climate fraternity don’t even know what all the lags are let alone be capable of modelling them! They are like infants looking at the world for the first time.”

    I want to emphasize the following point:

    “…we Engineers use vector models for feedback calculation which take account of the lags and therefore we can predict closely the behaviour of a system with feedback.”

    Lags are the time taken by a natural processes to run their course. Warmists have never believed in lags and have done no empirical work to discover what they are.

    Following Trenberth, warmists have used a simple “radiation in equals radiation out daily” model of Earth’s energy balance. On that grand assumption, feedbacks must be instantaneous. There can be no natural processes which channel energy from radiation over unspecified periods of time and which must be observed and understood in their own right. However, in the last year or so, Trenberth violated his own grand assumption when he claimed that there is undetected warmth stored in the deep oceans. In my humble opinion, Warmists have no instincts for empirical science.

  34. There will be another El Nino. There always has been another El Nino coming. I might say there has always been another coming for at least the last 400 million years since the Pacific became a large deep ocean.

    The warmth that is building up next to the Philippines right now and is filtering into the Indian Ocean now as Bob noted (and is renewing its build-up in the west Equatorial warm pool area in the subsurface) will be the source of the next El Nino but it could take a few years to recirculate back to the Galapagos Islands surface region. Which sounds a little strange I guess but this a very big, very strong warm pool now. But there is too much cool water in the east Pacific now for this to happen for awhile.

  35. The Oz BOM state: “Tropical patterns of winds and cloud also remain near normal.”
    What is ‘normal’ when referring to the Pacific?
    Does this mean the recent cyclone that hit the Pacific nations is ‘normal’?
    Compare that to when I travelled across the Pacific (Sydney to Hawaii in the RAN) when it was like a mirror – not a ripple as far as the eye could see.
    There seems to be a common misconception that calm, people-friendly weather is the norm and anything that disturbs this is ‘abnormal’.

  36. Bob Tisdale on January 17, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Steven Mosher says: “it comes from the only sources it can. Solar input and amplification via GHGs. The ocean cycles cannot add to or subtract from the energy balance.”

    The data contradicts your assumptions about GHGs. First, the fuel for El Ninos is supplied by the ocean heat content of the tropical Pacific. Between 1955 and 1995, tropical Pacific ocean heat content only warmed during the 3-year La Nina events of 1954-57 and 1973-76. Ocean heat content there cooled after those 3-year La Ninas:

    Then there was the 1995/96 La Nina. It provided the fuel for the 1997/98 super El Nino.

    The 1998-2001 La Nina recharged the heat discharged the heat discharged by the 1997/98 El Nino:

    And the tropical Pacific has been cooling since then:

    There’s no evidence of greenhouse gas-induced warming.

    – – – – – – –

    Bob Tisdale,

    The educational value of your ENSO related writing is wonderful.

    Do you consider the ENSO (and its related) phenomena as a variable natural cyclic subsystem within a larger system? Have you considered how the ENSO subsystem’s variability is influenced by the larger system variability and vice versa? What are the major magnitude influences?

    ABOUT the boy or girl prediction => If the names were in a non-Romance language we could avoid the masculine, feminine and neutral designations of nouns. The downside of doing that kind of language change is a little less Romance in climate science.. : )

    John

  37. I’m sticking with a La Niña cycle for 2013 based on all the cold water still shown in Niño areas 1+2 and 3.0. The ENSO index has been dropping like a stone over the last month and just out of sheer joy, I’d like to see all those CAGW-skewed climate models which are predicting neutral/El Nino conditions this year to fail yet again.

    Having a strong -2.0C La Niña would cause the warmunists to go apoplectic as it would cause the HADCRUT4 anomaly to drop to around .2C this year, which would lock in 17 yrs of no warming trend.

  38. Bob Tisdale says: The PDO is an aftereffect of ENSO and the sea level pressure of the North Pacific.

    Bob I don’t disagree but it is not a one-way street, and it is clear that the PDO intensifies each ENSO phase. From a biological perspective the PDO creates regime shifts that alter salmon fisheries, sardine versus anchovies and numerous other impact. The cool phase of the PDO encourages more upwelling and increases the equatorward bound eastern boundary currents.

    Bob Tisdale says: If we’re seeing more La Ninas, then the trade winds should be strengthening.

    I agree but the trade winds are a function of the Hadley Circulation and the Walker circulation. I don’t know how to tease the two apart but the Hadley circulation drives the Trade Winds and as it creates a gradient between a hot warm pool in the west and cooler upwelled waters in the east, that temperature gradient intensifies the Walker circulation and thus the trade winds. The PDO phases mimic the ENSO phase. Dr. Chavez likes to call the cool PDO La Vieja. A La Nina has cooler waters in the east and warmer waters in the west, as does the La Vieja and it that gradient that enhances the Walker circulation and promote more La Nina like conditions. Over the course of a few years with similar solar input, a switch from El Nino to La Nina would definitely increase the trade winds. However if all else was equal less sun should create weaker trades and thus less intense La Ninas.

    The solar connection is best seen in paleoclimate data and megadroughts. During greater solar activity around the Medieval Warm Period the southwestern USA and the Yucatan were hammered with megadroughts. That implies stronger more frequent La Nina conditions. Conversely during the Little Ice Age the megadroughts assaulted southeast Asia and undermined nearly very kingdom. Those droughts imply more frequent El Nino conditions.

    Asmerom used Be C14 to track solar activity and found periods of increased solar radiation correlated with decreased rainfall in the American southwest, and the opposite to that observed in the Asian monsoon suggesting “a solar link to Holocene climate is through changes in the Walker circulation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and ENSO”

    Asmerom, Y., et al. (2007) Solar forcing of Holocene climate: New insights from a speleothem record, southwestern United States. Geology, vol.35, p.1-4.

    And Mann also found the strong and persistent La Niña conditions around 1000. During the preceding medieval warm period (∼800–1300 AD) had an SST pattern that was very similar to the present. Conversely the equatorial Pacific cold tongue was absent during the LIA.

    Mann ME, Zhang ZH, Rutherford S, Bradley RS, Hughes MK, et al. 2009. Global signatures and dynamical origins of the little ice age and medieval climate anomaly. Science 326:1256–60

    Mann and Asmeroms data is supported by Gutierrez and Chavez who report greater upwelling and greater ocean productivity during La Nina phases. As solar activity increased since the Little Ice Age so did upwelling and ocean productivity, implying a solar connection to more La Ninas, and despite the global warming dooms dayers, warmer oceans have created greater marine abundance.

    They also implicated the ITCZ migration during the LIA that could shut down the tropical Walker circulation and, off Peru, deepen the thermocline and nutricline, increase surface layer ventilation and oxygen”

    Gutierrez D, et al. 2009. Rapid reorganization in ocean biogeochemistry off Peru towards the end of the Little Ice Age. Biogeosciences 6:835–48
    Chavez,. F., et al., (2011) Marine Primary Production in Relation to Climate Variability and Change. Annual Revie of Marine Science, vol. 3, p. 227–260.

    Regards direct connections between solar activity and the Hadley circulation, it seem obvious that greater solar heating should create more convection and intensify the trades as well as increase the north south temperature gradient and that has been observed during sunspot cycles.

    Van Loon writes, “it has been shown in observations that a signature of enhanced solar forcing is evident in a warming of the upper tropical troposphere (van Loon and Shea 2000) and an intensified Hadley circulation”

    van Loon, H., and D. J. Shea, 2000: The global 11-year solar signal in July–
    August. Geophys. Res. Lett., 27, 2965–2968

    Meehl writes “Over relatively cloud-free oceanic regions in the subtropics, the enhanced solar forcing produces greater evaporation. More moisture then converges into the precipitation convergence zones, intensifying the regional monsoon and Hadley and Walker circulations, causing cloud reductions over the subtropical ocean regions, and, hence, more solar input.

    Meehl, G.A., et al., (2003) Solar and greenhouse gas forcing and climate response in the 20th century. Journal of Climate, vol. 16, p. 426–444.

  39. Steven Mosher says:
    January 17, 2013 at 12:38 pm
    The ocean cycles cannot add to or subtract from the energy balance.
    =========
    False. By changing the ocean mixing rate you fundamentally change the energy balance. Increase the mixing rate and global temperatures will drop. Decrease the mixing rate and they will rise. This changes evaporation, precipitation, convection, winds, radiation to space, etc., etc. Pretty much like ENSO.

    Is ENSO truly an oscillation around a mean? is it auto correlated? Does it have a unit root? Due to the large effect on global temperatures, the wrong assumption about the nature of ENSO will likely lead to misleading statistical results when analyzing global temperatures.

    Is spurious regression the source of the unexplained rise in temperature that has caused the IPCC, the climate models and indeed a great many climate scientists to seriously over estimate the observed warming?

  40. In my untrained opinion, looks like 2013 will be a moderate to strong El Niño year. Unfortunately, as it may help it to be a warmer than normal earthly temp. That is the last thing I want to hear.

  41. Has anyone else noticed that for months now we have had no more sea level graphs from NOAA? They say that they are doing a recalculation but it is taking a very long time to complete.

  42. JOE says
    The energy comes from solar input (plus a little geothermal).

    Henry says
    true. But I would even make that a little more specific. Because the spectrum of water shows absorbency in the UV and IR regions, it is specifically these types of radiation that heat the water, causing the oceans to act as store room of energy. It is the slight variation in UV that causes a big variation in the amount of energy being slammed into the big oceans, due to back radiation by ozone and others. Hence we are now cooling whilst ozone and HxOx and NxOx are increasing at the TOA.

  43. In the amination its remarkable how the east Pacific warmth completely dissipated.

    At the end we have cool east Pacific and in the west Pacific, significant warmth just subsurface. If this western warmth popped up to the surface we would have the perfect scenario for a STRONG LA NINA – big east-west temperature gradient to drive the trades and further increase cold eastern upwelling.

    Strong La Nina – that’s my guess FWIW. Those habitually waiting for el Ninot will go on waiting …

  44. phlogiston says: “In the amination its remarkable how the east Pacific warmth completely dissipated.”

    As the upwelling (cool) Kelvin wave makes its way across the equator, it can displace the remaining warm water, shifting it away from the equator, so that it no longer appears in that animation. You can watch the warm and cool anomalies shifting, spreading out in waves, away from the equator in the following animation. Unfortunately, the Kelvin waves don’t show up that well.

    It’s from my last ARGO-era OHC update:

    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/argo-era-nodc-ocean-heat-content-data-0-700-meters-through-december-2010/

  45. jim Steele, thanks for all of the references. It’ll be a while until I get get to them and read them. Lots of blogging on my plate right now. Thanks again, they should make for interesting reading.

  46. John Whitman says: “Do you consider the ENSO (and its related) phenomena as a variable natural cyclic subsystem within a larger system?”

    It surely is not a system independent of the rest of the other coupled ocean-atmosphere processes. Unfortunately, we only have a few years (a decade) of reasonable temperature and salinity measurements at depth (ARGO) so we know very little about subsurface “weather” throughout the Pacific and the adjoining oceans. We also have very little sea surface temperature data at high latitudes in the South Pacific and also in the Southern Ocean before the satellite era. We have no idea if there is a cycle in the sea surface temperatures of the Southern Ocean and what its influence might be on the variations in the frequency, magnitude and “skewness” of ENSO—with skewness referring to the tendency toward El Nino or La Nina during multidecadal periods. There are too many early unknowns , which is why I study aftereffects—what the data presents.

  47. The SOI is also some sort of measure that goes with ENSO. This measure is very close to zero. It is my understanding that it gets to be very positivie during a La Nina, and very negative during an El Nino. Is it used to try and decide what is happening?

    As an aside, people dont seem to be familiar with where the expression El Nino originates. In a Catholic country, like Peru where the name originated, EL Nino is the Christ child, because the first signs tend to be felt at Christmas. The first signs were all of impending disaster; the Humboldt current moves some 200 miles west, and the inshore anchovy fishery collapses. EL Nino ought to bring gifts, not disaster. La Nina has no such meaning, and is merely the opposite of El Nino.

  48. Given the fact that global temperatures are not rising at the rate predicted by the models, obviously CO2 is not the main driver of climate. The warming caused by CO2 will ride on top of temperature caused by the more dominate climate mechanisms. There is no physical evidence that the extra warming will be amplified. In fact, given the overwhelming force of the other mechanisms, it is reasonable to assume these mechanisms will continue to act in a manner to moderate global temperatures.

  49. Bob Tisdale on January 18, 2013 at 4:01 am

    – – – – – – –

    Bob Tisdale,

    Thank you for your reply.

    You mentioned “subsurface ‘weather’ throughout the Pacific and the adjoining oceans”. A useful expression. I had not thought about the ocean in quite that way.

    John

  50. Jim Cripwell says: EL Nino ought to bring gifts, not disaster. La Nina has no such meaning, and is merely the opposite of El Nino.

    An El Nino Christmas gift makes for a nice story but it brings disaster for the fishermen. Indeed the Peruvians noticed a stream of warm water flowing down from Ecuador each winter. However when the warm stream was extreme it shuts down upwelling. The whole ocean food chain depends on upwelling to bring nutrients that always sink into the dark depths back up into the sunlit zones. El Nino’s warm waters create a “thermal lid” that inhibits nutrients from reaching the surface. I suspect the momentum of the wave of eastward warm water would also promote downwelling as it is trapped against the coast. The seabird populations collapse during an El NIno as upwelling slows, affecting the whole food chain. The warm phase of the PDO also inhibits upwelling. Anchovies boom during cool PDO’s and wane during warm PDO’s while the sardines do the opposite. Steinbeck’s Cannery Row was bout the sardine collapse from the regime shift to the cool PDO in the 1940’s. The earliest documented extreme El Niño occurred in the 1890’s when the flood of warm ocean water carried crocodiles from Ecuador down the coast to Peru and heavy rains turned the Peruvian deserts into grasslands. El NIno brings rains to Peru but droughts to southeast Asia and conversely La NIna brings drought to Peru but rains to Asia. It is a climate see-saw that robs Peter to pay Paul. Francisco Chavez from Monterey BAy Aquarium has written much about the effects of El Nino and La Nina on his native Peru. If you are interested in the biological gifts of ENSO and PDO cycles start with Chavez,. F., et al., (2011) Marine Primary Production in Relation to Climate Variability and Change. Annual Review of Marine Science, vol. 3, p. 227–260.

  51. Bill Illis says: January 17, 2013 at 4:16 pm
    =====================================
    This has been an informative thread. Bill Illis shares insights into the natural processes involved in ENSO. I am intrigued by the role of cold water currents and upwelling, and how these contribute to ENSO.
    Bill, as it stands now ENSO is a puzzle, in that the ultimate cause of the oscillation is not understood. Possibly, the key to understanding ENSO is the cold water currents and upwelling, and the variation of this factor over time. How do you see this?

  52. @Steven Mosher says:
    January 17, 2013 at 12:38 pm
    You’ve said many time that “El Nino” is responsible for the ocean warming. What I haven’t understood from your discussion is where the energy is coming from?

    #############
    it comes from the only sources it can. Solar input and amplification via GHGs.
    The ocean cycles cannot add to or subtract from the energy balance. They dont cause global warming. they are the way that warming is expressed. They are not the cause of long term trends.
    +++++++++++++++++++

    Mosher: Again the broken record. You never ever explain yourself… just make unsubstantiated claims.
    The basic idea is that La Nina occurs when the westward winds blow more warm surface waters to the west. This exposes more cool waters. Cool waters produce fewer clouds. More sun energy therefore warms the cooler water. This is where the heat comes from… it’s the sun having more direct influence on the cool water rather than allowing it to radiate back into space. If cool water is made less cool, it has more heat. More heat not from GHGs.

    Steve: Could you try being more open minded here? Your well spoken nature could make you an important person in the quest to help people learn critical thinking skills. But you waste yourself on an ideology instead.

  53. mpainter says:
    January 18, 2013 at 9:18 am
    ————-

    My estimate from this summer about where Nino 3.4 would be right now is +1.0C. Instead, it is -0.5C and I’m only 3 for 6 in long-term guestimates. Shorter-term one can get closer, but beyond
    several months, its too unpredictable.

    This is the July, 2012, prediction plumes from the ENSO models. Just as bad as me this year (and worse previously).

    Generally, we can understand what is happening and how it is happening. Right now that is. But the Pacific ocean is deep and variable and couples with the atmosphere producing an additional enhancement (except this year, when the atmosphere completely decoupled with the ENSO and pushed it in the opposite direction) so we still don’t know enough about the ENSO. Maybe we never will.

    But then, how is that different than the obstacles faced by a global warming climate model. Same deal IMO which is why I am a skeptic. We have to see what the climate is doing rather than forecast it because it is so complex and so much that we don’t know about is occuring every day.

  54. Bob Tisdale, what do you think of this comment: • The basin-wide equatorial
    upper ocean (0-300 m) heat
    content is greatest prior to and
    during the early stages of a
    Pacific warm (El Niño) episode
    (compare top 2 panels) and least
    prior to and during the early
    stages of a cold (La Niña) episode.

    from here:http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

    I did download your pdf. Have you thought about submitting it to an academic publishing house such as Springer? I would expect it to get a wider readership among graduate students that way.

  55. Bob Tisdale: It surely is not a system independent of the rest of the other coupled ocean-atmosphere processes. Unfortunately, we only have a few years (a decade) of reasonable temperature and salinity measurements at depth (ARGO) so we know very little about subsurface “weather” throughout the Pacific and the adjoining oceans. We also have very little sea surface temperature data at high latitudes in the South Pacific and also in the Southern Ocean before the satellite era. We have no idea if there is a cycle in the sea surface temperatures of the Southern Ocean and what its influence might be on the variations in the frequency, magnitude and “skewness” of ENSO—with skewness referring to the tendency toward El Nino or La Nina during multidecadal periods. There are too many early unknowns , which is why I study aftereffects—what the data presents.

    Is that equivalent to saying that the ENSO is a part of a larger oscillatory system but all the feedbacks and feedforwards (“couplings” etc) are poorly characterized because there are not enough data?

  56. Ethically Civil: You’ve said many time that “El Nino” is responsible for the ocean warming. What I haven’t understood from your discussion is where the energy is coming from?

    Steve Mosher:
    #############
    it comes from the only sources it can. Solar input and amplification via GHGs.
    The ocean cycles cannot add to or subtract from the energy balance. They dont cause global warming. they are the way that warming is expressed. They are not the cause of long term trends.

    Please notice that the last 3 of your 4 sentences there are irrelevant to the question, which was not about how ocean warming drives the climate, but is about where the energy for the warming of the oceans comes from. The energy to warm the oceans comes from the sun. However, the ocean cycles can add to or subtract from the atmospheric energy balance; they can cause warming of the global atmosphere, and they can be the cause of long-term trends in atmospheric temperatures.

    “Amplification” by GHGs is a mysterious concept; allegedly what the GHGs do is slow the rate of cooling of the surface (via all that absorption and back radiation), which has acquired its warming from the sun. I argued in a previous post that the evidence is insufficient to rule out a role for GHGs in altering the amplitude of the ENSO over the long term. But here the reference to GHGs is gratuitous. The energy to warm the oceans comes from the sun.

  57. Matthew R Marler says: “Oh. I see everyone else has gone home.”

    Sorry about the delay in my reply. Off doing family stuff.

    Matthew R Marler says: “Is that equivalent to saying that the ENSO is a part of a larger oscillatory system but all the feedbacks and feedforwards (“couplings” etc) are poorly characterized because there are not enough data?”

    ENSO is the most significant short-term and decadal climate phenomenon on the planet. We have little idea about its feedbacks or if part of a larger oscillatory system.

    Matthew R Marler says: “Have you thought about submitting it to an academic publishing house such as Springer?”

    I’ve looked at the costs of hardcopy editions and I can’t see many people spending well above $100US for something they could buy in electronic format for less than $10.

    Thanks for buying a copy.

  58. I also like the expression “subsurface weather” although “submarine weather” would catch the concept even better.

  59. Bob Tisdale: I’ve looked at the costs of hardcopy editions and I can’t see many people spending well above $100US for something they could buy in electronic format for less than $10.

    After downloading the pdf of another book, for free, I purchased the bound version for $80 plus tax. That’s cheaper than printing the pdf at home or Office Depot. I am reading that book now. How many like me there are I do not know, but I know a lot of us. Besides us, there are libraries. Springer, Chapman-Hall, Elsevier etc display their books at scientific conferences almost every week of the year internationally, and they mail out fliers to the professionals of many scientific societies. So I repeat my recommendation, tedious though I may be.

  60. The ENSO 3.4 value is down again this week and the ENSO meter is into La Niña conditions again this week:

    Opening http://nomad3.ncep.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/pdisp_sst.sh?ctlfile=oiv2.ctl&ptype=ts&var=ssta&level=1&op1=none&op2=none&day=22&month=dec&year=2012&fday=21&fmonth=jan&fyear=2013&lat0=-5&lat1=5&lon0=-170&lon1=-120&plotsize=800×600&title=&dir=
    Found target /png/tmp/CTEST135876961513904.txt
    Opening http://nomad3.ncep.noaa.gov//png/tmp/CTEST135876961513904.txt
    Data file
    data from 00Z22DEC2012 to 00Z21JAN2013
    “———-”
    -0.119068
    -0.045533
    -0.228761
    -0.514692
    -0.561866
    Length of data file 102, most recent value: -0.561866
    file_last -0.514692
    anomaly -06

    From the sudden drop two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a warmer value this week, but from the SST images, that is looking like a nice wedge of cool water in the east. Like recessions, it’ll be a while before an official La Niña is declared.

  61. Tasty but dangerously dry mid-high 50s right now for Albuquerque NM! Meanwhile the rest of the US including Florida of all places is going through continual abnormal cold! It gets crazier, climatologists are predicitng high 60s-mid 70s for Feburary here in Albuquerque as well! This winter heatwave feels like a classic La Nina pattern to me. Actually I think december 2012 there was less snow for New Mexico then the previous few La Nina winters! I love to go and hike with with just a Tshirt and jeans but I know the mega-fires are destined this spring and summer and the 2013 fire season will surpass 2012 as the worst in New Mexico history! Farms and some regions’ drinking water will also drastically be effective! I don’t care if its rain or snow New Mexico needs moisture soon!

  62. Correction, I’ve heard the predicted temps for Feb will be in the upper 60s, there may be a few days towards March that reach the 70s but the average will be high 60s for Feb.

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