The 2014/15 El Niño – Part 7 – May 2014 Update and What Should Happen Next

This post provides an update on the progress of the evolution of the 2014/15 El Niño. Included are updates of the weekly sea surface temperature anomalies for the four most-often-used NINO regions. Also included are updates of the GODAS map-based animations of sea surface height anomalies, T300 anomalies (depth-averaged temperature anomalies to 300 meters), sea surface temperature anomalies, and the cross sections of temperature anomalies at depth along the equator. GODAS only includes the last 3 months in the animations at their website. These animations start in January 2014 for the full progress of the events.

We compared the evolution of the 2014/15 El Niño to the 1982/83 and 1997/98 El Niños in the third post in this series. The evolution of this El Niño is still being hyped by comparing it to the strong 1997/98 El Niño. See Kevin Trenberth’s YouTube video here. So I’ve updated those graphs. And since we’ve been watching the downwelling (warm) Kelvin wave as it makes its way east along the equator in the Pacific, also included in this post are evolution comparisons using warm water volume anomalies and depth-averaged temperature anomalies from the NOAA TAO project website.

Then we’ll take a look at a number of Hovmoller diagrams comparing the progress so far this year to what happened in 1997. This will serve as a background for a general discussion of what should happen next as this El Niño evolves, regardless of how strong this El Niño eventually becomes.

NINO REGION TIME-SERIES GRAPHS

Figure 1 includes the weekly sea surface temperature anomalies of the 4 most-often-used NINO regions of the equatorial Pacific. (Yes, Virginia, there are more NINO regions.) From west to east they include:

  • NINO4 (5S-5N, 160E-150W)
  • NINO3.4 (5S-5N, 170W-120W)
  • NINO3 (5S-5N, 150W-90W)
  • NINO1+2 (10S-0, 90W-80W)

While the +0.5 deg C El Niño threshold really only applies to the NINO3.4 region, I’ve highlighted +0.5 deg C in red on all four graphs. As of last week, with the exception of the NINO3.4 region, the sea surface temperature anomalies in all four NINO regions are warmer than +0.5 deg C. But the NINO3.4 region anomalies are within spitting distance of that threshold. It won’t take much to push them over.

Figure 1

Figure 1

EL NIÑO EVOLUTION COMPARISONS FOR NINO REGION SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE ANOMALIES

Using weekly sea surface temperature anomalies for the NINO3.4, NINO3 and NINO1+2 regions, Figure 2 updates and expands on the comparisons of the evolutions of this El Niño with the 1982/83 and 1997/98 events. As you’ll recall, the NINO3.4 and NINO1+2 comparisons were originally provided in the post 2014/15 El Niño – Part 3 – Early Evolution – Comparison with 1982/83 & 1997/98 El Niño Events. I’ve added the NINO3 region for this post. NINO3.4 and NINO3 region sea surface temperature anomalies this year are still in the ballpark of the two earlier strong El Niños. And in the NINO1+2 region, the temperature anomalies have broken away sharply from the 1982/83 El Niño evolution, but they’re still far below the values at this time for 1997/98 El Niño. We’ll have to keep an eye on the NINO1+2 data, because they’re an indicator of an East Pacific El Niño, which are stronger than Central Pacific El Niños.

Figure 2

Figure 2

ANIMATION UPDATES

In the first post in this series, we discussed a number of animations of maps and animations of equatorial cross sections available from the NOAA Global Ocean Data Assimilation System (GODAS) website. Each cell of the animation is a 5-day (pentadal) average. Those animations ran from January 3rd to March 29th. The following are updates, again starting in January 3rd. GODAS only maintains their animations for 3 months. I’ve stored the maps from the first of the year and will continue to add maps as time progresses. That way we can watch the El Niño unfold from the beginning and then try to keep track of the warm water when El Niño is over.

Animation 1 provides the sea surface height anomalies and the depth-averaged temperature anomalies for the top 300 meters (T300) side by side. With the update, we can see that the downwelling Kelvin wave has reached the coast of South America. (Thump.) Please click them to enlarge them.

Animation 1 GODAS SSH v H300 thru May 3

Animation 1

Animation 2 is a similar side-by-side comparison, but on the left are maps of sea surface temperature anomalies and on the right are the H300 maps. In less than two months, we’ve gone from La Niña conditions in the sea surface temperature anomalies of the eastern equatorial Pacific to the threshold of El Niño conditions. Considering the immensity the Pacific, that was quite a remarkable feat of nature.

Animation 2 GODAS SST v H300 thru April 28

Animation 2

And Animation 3 is an update of the cross sections of temperature anomalies at depth along the equator.

Animation 3 GODAS Equat Cross Sections thru May 3

Animation 3

EL NIÑO EVOLUTION COMPARISONS WITH TAO PROJECT SUBSURFACE DATA

The NOAA Tropical Atmosphere-Ocean (TAO) Project website includes data for two temperature-related datasets for the equatorial Pacific. See their Upper Ocean Heat Content and ENSO webpage for descriptions of the datasets. The two datasets are Warm Water Volume (above the 20 deg C isotherm) and the Depth-Averaged Temperatures for the top 300 meters (aka T300). Both are available for the:

  • Western Equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 120E-155W)
  • Eastern Equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 155W-80W)
  • Equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 120E-80W)

Keep in mind that the longitudes of 120E-80W stretch 160 deg, almost halfway around the globe.

In the following three graphs, we’re comparing data for the evolution of the 2014/15 El Niño so far (through month-to-date May 2014) with the data for the evolutions of the 1982/83 and 1997/98 El Niños. The Warm Water Volume data are the top graphs and the depth-averaged temperature data are the bottom graphs. As you’ll see, the curves of two datasets are similar.

Let’s start with the Western Equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 120E-155W), Figure 3. The warm water volume and depth-averaged temperature data show the Western Equatorial Pacific had slightly less warm water or was slightly cooler this year than during the opening months of 1997. But 2014 had more warm water or was warmer than 1982.

Figure 3

Figure 3

In the second post in this series, we showed that the ocean heat content for the entire eastern tropical Pacific (24S-24N, 180-80W), for the depths of 0-700 meters, was cooler now than it was in 1997. (See the graph here.) The warm water volume and depth-averaged temperature data shown in Figure 4 for the eastern equatorial Pacific also show lower warm water volume and lower depth-averaged temperatures in 2014 than in 1997.

Figure 4

Figure 4

As a result, across the entire equatorial Pacific, Figure 5, warm water volume is lower and depth-averaged temperatures are less in 2014 than they were in 1997. Then again, they’re higher than they were in 1982.

Figure 5

Figure 5

Keep in mind, though, that both the 1982/83 and 1997/98 events were strong El Niños.

COMPARISONS OF HOVMOLLER DIAGRAMS OF THIS YEAR (TO DATE) WITH 1997

Hovmoller diagrams are a great way to display data. If they’re new to you, there’s no reason to be intimidated by them. Let’s take a look at Figure 6. It presents the Hovmoller diagrams of thermocline depth anomalies (the depth of the isotherm at 20 deg C) with 2014 on the left and 1997 on the right. GODAS, unfortunately, furnishes the illustrations (not the data) in different dimensions for the two years. The vertical (y) axis in both is time with the Januarys for both years at the top and Decembers at the bottom. The horizontal (x) axis is longitude, so, moving from left to right, we’re going from west to east…with the Indian Ocean in the left-hand portion, the Pacific in the center and the Atlantic in the right-hand portion. We’re interested in the Pacific. The anomaly data are color-coded according to the scales below the Hovmollers.

Figure 6 GODAS Thermocline Depth Anomalies 2014 v 1997

Figure 6

Figure 6 is presenting the depth of the 20 deg C isotherm along a band from 2S to 2N. The positive anomalies, working their way eastward since the beginning of 2014, were caused by the downwelling Kelvin wave, which pushes down on the thermocline (the 20 deg C isotherm). You’ll note how the anomalies grew in strength as the Kelvin wave migrated east. That does not mean the Kelvin wave is getting stronger as moves east; that simply indicates that the thermocline is normally closer to the surface in the eastern equatorial Pacific than it is in the western portion. The 1997/98 El Niño was preceded by two downwelling Kelvin waves shown in the right-hand Hovmoller in Figure 6. The first one that began in 1996 wasn’t very strong, but the second one that began a few months later in 1997 was enough to kick start the 1997/98 El Niño.

Note how the thermocline continued to drop in the eastern equatorial Pacific as 1997 progressed. The 1997/98 El Niño was a freak. So much warm water flooded from the western tropical Pacific into the eastern portion that the normal warm water distribution along the equator reversed. That is, normally there is more warm water in the western portion than in the eastern portion of the equatorial Pacific so that the thermocline slopes upward from west to east, but at the peak of the 1997/98 El Niño, there was more warm water in the central and eastern portion than the west, with the slope of the thermocline growing downward from west to east. (See the cross section from ECMWF here.)

Figure 7 presents the 2014-to-date and 1997 Hovmollers for wind stress (not anomalies) along the equator. The simplest way to explain them is that they’re presenting the impacts of the strengths and directions of the trade winds on the surface of the equatorial oceans. In this presentation the effects of the east to west trade winds at various strengths are shown in blues, and the reversals of the trade winds into westerlies are shown in yellows, oranges and reds.

Figure 7 GODAS Zonal Wind Stress 2014 v 1997

Figure 7

The two westerly wind bursts shown in red in the western equatorial Pacific in 2014 are associated with the downwelling Kelvin wave, and the westerly bursts early in 1997 are associated with the Kelvin waves that year. Note how in 1997 as time progressed from June through November that the negative wind stresses decreased, with the neutral whites expanding eastward, and with repeated westerly wind bursts in the western equatorial Pacific. Those westerly wind bursts throughout the summer and fall of 1997 continued to help push warm water from the western equatorial Pacific into the east, strengthening the 1997/98 El Niño.

Figure 8 presents the Hovmollers of wind stress anomalies…just a different perspective. Note how there were more positive wind stress anomalies in the western equatorial Pacific in 1997 than there have been so far this year. The westerly wind bursts this year were earlier, but the westerly wind bursts in 1997 were stronger and longer.

Figure 8 GODAS Zonal Wind Stress Anomaly 2014 v 1997

Figure 8

And Figure 9 presents the Hovmollers of sea surface temperature anomalies. Unfortunately, the Hovmoller of sea surface temperature anomalies is delayed a few weeks. But as we’ve seen in the comparison graphs in Figure 2, the sea surface temperature anomalies of the NINO3.4 and NINO3 regions in 2014 are tracking with those of 1997, and that the sea surface temperature anomalies this year in the NINO1+2 region are less than they were at this time in 1997. As you’ll note in the Hovmoller for this year, it didn’t take long for the La Niña conditions in the eastern equatorial Pacific to disappear.

Figure 9 GODAS SST Anomaly 2014 v 1997

Figure 9

WHAT’S NEXT?

As you’ll recall, the surface temperatures (absolute) and the strength of the trade winds are coupled. The temperature difference between the western and eastern tropical Pacific (warmer in the west than in the east) depends on the strength of the trade winds (blowing from east to west), and the strength of the trade winds depend on the temperature difference between the western and eastern tropical Pacific. The stronger the trade winds, the greater the temperature difference, and the greater the temperature difference, the stronger the trade winds. The temperature difference and the trade winds reinforce one another with positive feedback. That positive feedback is called Bjerknes feedback.

Now, in the wake of the downwelling Kelvin wave, as the warmer-than-normal subsurface waters are upwelled to the surface, the temperature difference (absolute) between the eastern and western equatorial Pacific is decreasing. The trade winds will weaken in response, allowing more warm water from the West Pacific Warm Pool to migrate eastward, which decreases the temperature difference more, which further weakens the trade winds, etc.; that is, the positive feedback between the trade winds and the surface temperature gradient (absolute) will reinforce the decrease in the temperature difference between the western and eastern tropical Pacific by forcing more warm water from west to east. And as a result, the surface temperatures and anomalies in the eastern equatorial Pacific will rise.

That feedback will eventually kick in to allow the 2014/15 El Niño to strengthen, if it hasn’t started already. The only questions now are how strong the El Niño will become and how long El Niño conditions will last. Everything depends on the weather in the tropical Pacific, which is why no two El Niño events are the same.

EARLIER POSTS IN THIS SERIES

And for additional introductory discussions of El Niño processes see:

FURTHER READING

My ebook Who Turned on the Heat? goes into a tremendous amount of detail to explain El Niño and La Niña processes and the long-term aftereffects of strong El Niño events. Who Turned on the Heat? weighs in at a whopping 550+ pages, about 110,000+ words. It contains somewhere in the neighborhood of 380 color illustrations. In pdf form, it’s about 23MB. It includes links to more than a dozen animations, which allow the reader to view ENSO processes and the interactions between variables.

I’ve lowered the price of Who Turned on the Heat? from U.S.$8.00 to U.S.$5.00. A free preview in pdf format is here. The preview includes the Table of Contents, the Introduction, the first half of section 1 (which was provided complete in the post here), a discussion of the cover, and the Closing. Take a run through the Table of Contents. It is a very-detailed and well-illustrated book—using data from the real world, not models of a virtual world. Who Turned on the Heat? is only available in pdf format…and will only be available in that format. Click here to purchase a copy. Thanks. Book sales and tips will hopefully allow me to return to blogging full-time once again.

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About Bob Tisdale

Research interest: the long-term aftereffects of El Niño and La Nina events on global sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. Author of the ebook Who Turned on the Heat? and regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.
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73 Responses to The 2014/15 El Niño – Part 7 – May 2014 Update and What Should Happen Next

  1. crosspatch says:

    My personal opinion: it is probably close to its peak right now or slightly past it. I expect this one to be more like 2012 than like 1982/83.

    Looking at the trade wind anomalies, they are starting to pick up again and trending back toward nominal. Upper ocean heat content is already starting to fall. My personal non-professional amateur forecast: continuing la nada.

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_update/heat-last-year.gif

  2. Espen says:

    If you look at the SOI index for the different El Niño years, the SOI was already firmly negative (which indicates El Niño) by this time of year in most El Niño years. 2009/2010 was an exception, though, so based on current SOI values, a repeat of the 2009/2010 El Niño is still possible.

  3. philjourdan says:

    In another 100 years, imagine how much history we will have on these events. Reading these analysis, I am always struck by “yea but….”. Which more history would help to show. 82/83 was very different than 97/98, and regardless of the final result, 14/15 looks to be different from the other 2 as well. It is like we are plotting a graph with 3 data points now. Eventually, we will have enough to be able to more accurately predict what will happen. It just takes time.

    Thanks for the lesson Dr. Bob. As always, very informative and interesting!

  4. pokerguy says:

    Bob,
    Sounds like you’re not necessarily buying Bastardi’s and Joe D’s analysis, which is confidently in the camp of a weak, short lived Modoki. I think Judith’s analysis is similar.

  5. Doug says:

    How refreshing to read an article that has none of doom and gloom we find in the “scientific” literature. The absence of “could”s and “might”s shows that I am reading an honest appraisal of current conditions and what could occur this year. Thank you Bob Tisdale and Anthony Watts for providing such a valuable service.

  6. Bob Tisdale says:

    pokerguy says: “Sounds like you’re not necessarily buying Bastardi’s and Joe D’s analysis…”

    Gotta link?

  7. Bob Tisdale says:

    Espen says: “If you look at the SOI index for the different El Niño years…”

    I’ll discuss the SOI and Equatorial SOI in a post over the weekend.

    Regards

  8. Thanks, Bob. I was waiting for your update.

  9. Joe Bastardi says:

    We are thinking that 2002 is the closest analog. including following winter! Very close match to sst that shifts into enso 3.4 a we get later, begins to cool in 1.2. This is plainly shown on cfsv2 The el nino will spike global temps, but the response will be cooling globally after. There is little linkage to this in the MEI set up for the enso, much more like 57,65,76,02,09 with 02 pulling away overall . BIGGEST CLIMATE NEWS.. THE ARCTIC SEA ICE INCREASINGLY POSITIVE SUMMER ANOMALY!!!! This is due to the much cooler n atlantic. and is the sign we are right ( all of us) about the amo flipping and the arctic ice hysteria going into the tank! I have posting on weatherbell.com on this matter, the public issuance was here
    http://patriotpost.us/opinion/25340.. it is even higher now. If you are going to scream about the enso being warm ( this is the 5th super nino forecast since the 97 event.. then the biggest story is what the arctic sea ice is telling us. While the AMO cooling is not likely the final chapter in its warm event it is telling us where this is going. and the arctic ice scam will wind up on the ash heap of history

  10. ozspeaksup says:

    great post..but:-)
    too full on for some of us.
    I look at the enso pic on the right side,
    at present it looks good for usa getting wet
    and crappy for us down in Aus having a decent WET winter
    of course Ive been quite surprised to see how it can swing back n forwards in a matter of weeks
    Im hoping for some swing back so the garden and fodder for the animals does ok.

  11. Latitude says:

    Joe said: “it is telling us where this is going.”

    …why do I have the feeling this is not good news

  12. Rick K says:

    Always good stuff, Bob. Thanks for the education!

  13. Mike Maguire says:

    Thanks very much Bob!
    The comprehensive discussion on this topic provided here by you via Anthony is unmatched.

    Thanks also Joe. You are one of a kind when it comes to long range weather forecasting.

  14. Green Sand says:

    Hi Bob, as always excellent info.

    The possibility of an El Nino event is of interest to many people for differing reasons, changes in weather patterns etc. However one aspect is more “global”, i.e. the expected effect upon global sea surface temperatures. Have you considered adding such a chart to your excellent “El Nino Evolution Comparison” chart set?

  15. Pete says:

    Very informative, folks.

    Thank you.

  16. vukcevic says:

    Hi Mr. Tisdale
    I read you posts regularly, but I am out of my depth here, even more than elsewhere.
    Earlier on the CET thread I posted this graph including the ENSO periodicity.
    It appears that ENSO has some, let’s call it ‘cross-talk’ from the AMO (9yr), sunspot cycle (11.5 yr) and luni-solar tidal effect (18 yr), however, all in the second division.

  17. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    @Joe Bastardi,

    As always, your comments are greatly appreciated! I personally think that the Antarctic is probably an even bigger story (at least right now) than the Arctic. A 1.667 million square kilometer positive anomaly is unheard of this early in the year. This will likely have an even bigger global effect than the fact that the Arctic is projected to be near “normal” again by August. Couple the two together, and you have really big news!

    My personal feeling is that we may be seeing Arctic anomalies near 0 by August, and Antarctic anomalies of +2.0 million square kilometers by August, but time (and the actual data) will tell….

  18. conscious1 says:

    Thanks for your efforts Bob!! We are heavily influenced by El Nino’s here in the PNW so this is of great interest to me. Our ski seasons usually suck in El Nino conditions so I’m hoping Joe is right and it fades this winter.

  19. wws says:

    I’m just hoping Texas gets a bit more rain this year than the last few.

  20. Phil. says:

    Joe Bastardi says:
    May 9, 2014 at 5:01 am
    We are thinking that 2002 is the closest analog. including following winter! Very close match to sst that shifts into enso 3.4 a we get later, begins to cool in 1.2. This is plainly shown on cfsv2 The el nino will spike global temps, but the response will be cooling globally after. There is little linkage to this in the MEI set up for the enso, much more like 57,65,76,02,09 with 02 pulling away overall . BIGGEST CLIMATE NEWS.. THE ARCTIC SEA ICE INCREASINGLY POSITIVE SUMMER ANOMALY!!!!

    Well a prediction of an arctic sea ice positive anomaly, it remains to be seen how it turns out.
    In the meantime we have open leads showing in the N pole webcam, early breakup of the shore fast ice at Barrow and the NW passage opening at both ends well in advance of last year.

  21. Jbird says:

    If this just results in more rain and snow for the desert southwest, I’ll be happy. Will winter temperatures be unusually warm for CONUS? Probably not if the sun has anything to say about it!

  22. hunter says:

    Bob,
    Great work. Thanks. Whatever is going on is not like the 2012 period. Texas is falling back into drought. Rains are being shifted north and east. The graphs shown look more like another mild warming-to-neutral-to mildly cooling pacific ocean influence. It would be interesting to look back to the early 1950′s, when Texas suffered a bad multi-year drought.

  23. Alan Robertson says:

    Phil. says:
    May 9, 2014 at 7:04 am

    “Well a prediction of an arctic sea ice positive anomaly, it remains to be seen how it turns out.
    In the meantime we have open leads showing in the N pole webcam, early breakup of the shore fast ice at Barrow and the NW passage opening at both ends well in advance of last year.”

    __________________________
    Predictions are just that. Joe made clear that he doesn’t expect the AMO to flip, that this recent cooling just shows what can happen when it does.
    It surely isn’t your contention that the NW Passage will be open anytime soon, since most of the route is still blocked by 2-4 meter thick ice.
    Meanwhile, Arctic sea ice extent is still within 30 yr average. Antarctic sea ice is so far above normal that the Global Sea Ice anomaly is >1 million Km2.

  24. Doug Proctor says:

    Interesting series. The simple SST anomaly pattern looks (IMO) that the ’98 warm spike was “repeated” in the 2010 period, not a 2014 period. Also, the cross-section showing water temps rising, looks like the last of the “warm” water hits the surface in about 1 month, that there isn’t a lot of longevity to it.

    If it weren’t for the sharp spike upward in SST in the last couple of weeks, you might think that the El Nino is going to be El Boringo.

    I don’t see a repeat of ’98 that would delight the warmists, but then, as a skeptic, I prefer not to have “bad” things happen.

  25. Barbee says:

    I’m still waiting for the post that will tell me why I should care.

  26. climatologist says:

    We don’t really know till MJJ’s sea level pressure anomalies are available. Remember 1974.

  27. Mike from Carson Valley a particularly cold place that could benefit from some warming says:

    82 and the following two years were monster skiing years in the Northern Sierra with deep powder dumps week after week in 1982 especially into the following spring months. Fanny Bridge at Tahoe City had snow banks exceeding 12 feet. In 1998 snow fall again was heavy. I recall a monster powder day when the snow was bottomless. Not a good day to have a ski come off mid run. Needless to say I look forward to the effects of an El Nino in the Northern Sierra this coming winter and next spring with increasing anticipation. I hope its a big un!

    I also remember big dumps in the period from 1969 to 1974 as well as drought limited snow in the later 1950s. Weather seems to cycle, So bring it on. Time for the return of the deep snow part of the cycle. I have always hoped to see a winter that approached the level that the Donner Party faced in 1846 -1847.

  28. Bob Tisdale says:

    Barbee says: “I’m still waiting for the post that will tell me why I should care.”

    That was covered in the last post in the series:
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/the-201415-el-nino-part-6-whats-all-the-hubbub-about/

  29. Caleb says:

    The only “unprecedented” thing about this El Nino will be the detail with which we are able to observe it. Even in 1997/98 the ARGO buoys didn’t exist, and back in 1982/83 observations were even more sparse.

    Not that observations are all that important to certain Alarmists, as is shown by their willingness to “adjust” past data. They are so caught up in their “cause” they are in a sense blind to what observation can tell us. “They have eyes but do not see.”

    It seems a great pity to me to be blind to the vistas being revealed to us by the marvels of ARGO Buoys and satellites. We quite literally are seeing things that the generations before us only dreamed of seeing. We are like the people who raised the first telescope to the heavens, like Galileo looking at Jupiter and first seeing the four biggest moons. All you need to do is open your eyes and observe, yet some can’t do it, as it is politically incorrect.

    Simply by using his powers of observation Bob Tisdale is seeing what others refuse to even look at. Thanks for sharing, Bob.

  30. crabalocker says:

    Captain on Grey Goose’s blog of the Northwest Passage has lots of good reading. Being able to get passage attempting tracking information and real-time happenings in the Arctic is pretty cool!

    We get to watch the real effects on the Arctic…El Nino and AMO changes etc. etc.
    http://northwestpassage2014.blogspot.ca/

  31. commieBob says:

    Alan Robertson says:
    May 9, 2014 at 7:45 am

    … Joe made clear that he doesn’t expect the AMO to flip, that this recent cooling just shows what can happen when it does.

    My reading is that he does expect it to flip. It’s just too early to tell if it has started yet.

    The Jamstec model is forecasting water temps this summer to be much colder in the north Atlantic than the map above. but still not cold enough to say this is the permanent flip. It is, however, a sign of what is to come. http://patriotpost.us/opinion/25340

  32. Barbee says:

    Thanks Bob-Are you saying that we should expect another ‘big jump’.?

  33. Alan Robertson says:

    commieBob says:
    May 9, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Alan Robertson says:
    May 9, 2014 at 7:45 am

    … Joe made clear that he doesn’t expect the AMO to flip, that this recent cooling just shows what can happen when it does.

    My reading is that he does expect it to flip. It’s just too early to tell if it has started yet.

    The Jamstec model is forecasting water temps this summer to be much colder in the north Atlantic than the map above. but still not cold enough to say this is the permanent flip. It is, however, a sign of what is to come. http://patriotpost.us/opinion/25340

    __________________________
    You are correct, I didn’t complete the thought and should have added that he doesn’t expect the AMO to flip yet.

  34. Alan Robertson says:

    commieBob says:
    May 9, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Alan Robertson says:
    May 9, 2014 at 7:45 am

    … Joe made clear that he doesn’t expect the AMO to flip, that this recent cooling just shows what can happen when it does.

    My reading is that he does expect it to flip. It’s just too early to tell if it has started yet.

    The Jamstec model is forecasting water temps this summer to be much colder in the north Atlantic than the map above. but still not cold enough to say this is the permanent flip. It is, however, a sign of what is to come. http://patriotpost.us/opinion/25340
    _______________________
    You are correct. The sentence should have read: “… he doesn’t expect the AMO to flip yet“.
    pimf

  35. vukcevic says:

    commieBob says:
    May 9, 2014 at 9:14 am
    My reading is that he does expect it to flip. It’s just too early to tell if it has started yet.

    Hi commieBob,
    Some decades ago when I came to London as a postgrad student, I was also referred as a commie.
    Back to the AMO, going negative depends on the starting point for the N.A SST trend line, the conventional one suggest 5-10 years ahead, not as steep downturn as in 1950s. I consider the red line a better guide to the next decade, but that doesn’t have much traction with the science aficionados.

  36. Neil Jordan says:

    Thank you, Bob. I’m still picking up some pieces from the 82/83 event, the gift that keeps on
    giving. Looking forward to your material on SOI. To throw some fat on the fire, here are four El Niño items in today’s Department of Water Resources California Water News. Odds – makers augur that there is an 80%, 78%, 65%, and 65+% chance of an El Niño this season.

    1. There’s Now Nearly an 80% Chance of an El Niño Event by the Fall
    http://mashable.com/2014/05/08/el-nino-event-probability-fall/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=rss

    2. California drought: El Niño probability raised to 78 percent for next winter
    http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_25723802/california-drought-el-ni-241-o-probability-raised

    3. California Drought: Hopes Rising for El Niño
    http://blogs.kqed.org/science/2014/05/08/california-drought-hopes-rising-for-el-nino/
    The latest report from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center puts the chance of a summer El Niño at better than 65 percent, based on observations that, “collectively indicate a continued evolution toward El Niño.”

    4. El Niño Odds Boosted Again: Now Exceed 65% By Summer
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/imageo/2014/05/08/el-nino-odds-boosted-now-exceed-65-summer/#.U20GUFcvCGc

  37. Matthew R Marler says:

    Nit: And since we’ve been watching the downwelling (warm) Kelvin wave as it makes its way east along the equator in the Pacific, also included in this post are evolution comparisons using warm water volume anomalies and depth-averaged temperature anomalies from the NOAA TOA project website.

    In that sentence you mean “TAO” for “TAO”, as subsequently explained.

    Thank you again. Good post.

    Neil Jordan: To throw some fat on the fire, here are four El Niño items in today’s Department of Water Resources California Water News.

    We are all wishin’ and hopin’ here in California. Thank you for the items.

  38. Matthew R Marler says:

    Joe Bastardi: There is little linkage to this in the MEI set up for the enso, much more like 57,65,76,02,09 with 02 pulling away overall .

    How do you measure “likeness” to MEI — integrated (across time) mean square error (across multivariate measurements)? something else?

  39. Congratulations on another most informative posting. This is really useful information.

  40. Weather Dave says:

    You put a lot of work in preparing the comparisons, most convenient. Just a couple of comments. Please drop the summer/winter terminology, we’re dealing with two hemispheres; just use months would be best. The second is that this post is geared toward the NINO regions and SST and sub; I would like to see you to address in more detail the other factors that determine which side of ENSO we are in; eg cloudiness (OLR), more on the trade winds, and SOI. You did say you were going to write about the later which I’m looking forward to but to complete the picture we need all the indicators, don’t you think? One last little tidbit, as I forecast for the tropics, other than the last MJO which brought westerlies to the western S. Pacific winds along the equator have been from the easterly quadrant, no westerly quadrant at all for the last two months. Have they been weaker?, No not really.
    Good job for this effort Bob.

  41. KRJ Pietersen says:

    The El Niño this year and next, strong or weak, will mean yet another very quiet hurricane year. That’s good. I hope it also brings plentiful rain to places such as California and Texas that are much in need of it.

  42. KRJ Pietersen says:

    Bob, two questions, if I may.

    Firstly, are El Niños always followed by a trailing La Niña?

    Secondly, is there a correlation between the size or strength of the El Niño and that of the trailing La Niña? I understand from your posts that El Niño and La Niña are not opposites, but is a trailing La Niña a response usually of a size more or less equivalent to its preceding El Niño?

    Many thanks in advance.

  43. phlogiston says:

    The movement from west to east of Equatorial Pacific ocean warmth does not mean physical movement of water. This “sloshing” idea is problematic. The east Pacific warms in an el Nino due to interruption of the usual cold water upwelling. Not warm water travelling half way round the world.

    Water’s temperature can change due to changes to vertical mixing and solar warming. Altered SST distribution does not necessarily mean movement of water from somewhere else with a different temperature.

    I am puzzled as to why it now seems forbidden to mention upwelling in connection with ENSO, or in fact at all. Trades are one side of the Bjerknes feedback coin – upwelling is the other, of no less importance.

  44. JJ says:

    Matthew R Marler says:

    In that sentence you mean “TAO” for “TAO”, as subsequently explained.

    That’s very Zen for Tao.

  45. Bob Tisdale says:

    Caleb says: “The only “unprecedented” thing about this El Nino will be the detail with which we are able to observe it. Even in 1997/98 the ARGO buoys didn’t exist, and back in 1982/83 observations were even more sparse.”

    ARGO should help, but the TAO project buoys have been in place since the early 1990s, so we haven’t been totally blind.

  46. Bob Tisdale says:

    Barbee says: “Thanks Bob-Are you saying that we should expect another ‘big jump’.?”

    If the El Nino is strong enough, there will likely be one. Trenberth keeps mentioning big jumps. One question that stands out is how the North Atlantic will respond.

  47. Bob Tisdale says:

    Green Sand says: “Have you considered adding such a chart to your excellent “El Nino Evolution Comparison” chart set?”

    I hadn’t, but now I am, thanks.

  48. Mark Bofill says:

    Bob,

    If the El Nino is strong enough, there will likely be one. Trenberth keeps mentioning big jumps.

    I never expected to find myself saying this, but good for him. At least that idea shows some shred of respect for the actual observations. I don’t know how it jives with the theory though, my impression is it doesn’t.

  49. Bob Tisdale says:

    Matthew R Marler says: “In that sentence you mean “TAO” for “TAO”, as subsequently explained.”

    Typo corrected. Thanks.

  50. Bob Tisdale says:

    Mark Bofill says: “I never expected to find myself saying this, but good for him. At least that idea shows some shred of respect for the actual observations. I don’t know how it jives with the theory though, my impression is it doesn’t.”

    Trenberth contradicts himself. On one hand, he says that manmade global warming is being driven into the depths of the Pacific Ocean by the stronger trade winds associated with La Ninas. And on the other hand he notes that the warming of the Pacific during La Nina events is associated with increased sunlight.

  51. Bob Tisdale says:

    KRJ Pietersen says: “Firstly, are El Niños always followed by a trailing La Niña?”

    Not always. The old version of ONI is a good reference. The sea surface temperatures of the NINO3.4 region hardly cooled after the 1991/92 and 2002/03 El Ninos.
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears_1971-2000_climo.shtml
    Then again, those El Ninos appear to be secondary events to the 1986/87/88 and 1997/98 El Ninos.

    KRJ Pietersen says: “Secondly, is there a correlation between the size or strength of the El Niño and that of the trailing La Niña?”

    One would think that, but it doesn’t always hold. The 1982/83 El Niño was strong, but there was little cooling in the eastern equatorial Pacific (NINO3.4 region) after it. And the 1986/87/88 El Niño didn’t peak as warm as the 1982/83 or 1997/98 El Ninos, but the single-season La Niña that followed the 1986/87/88 El Niño was extremely strong.

  52. Bob Tisdale says:

    Weather Dave says: “Please drop the summer/winter terminology, we’re dealing with two hemispheres; just use months would be best.”

    Sorry. I try to avoid using summer/winter–I even changed it a couple of times in the initial drafts of this post. Sorry that I missed the others.

  53. James at 48 says:

    My hope is modest. I hope we have at least a normal rainfall year in 2014 – 15. Anything more would be a bonus. (California perspective). Ixnay on the dust bowl!

  54. Weather Dave says:

    Phlogiston and sloshing.
    Don’t lose sight of the Equatorial Counter Current. It runs from West to East with the latitude band roughly 7N to 1S. It most certainly is moving water to the East. It fluctuates in intensity but it’s real. Yachts use it all the time to get east. The biggest influence on it is the MJO but there are many others.
    And Ekman pumping or transport is important when considering ENSO. Wind flow velocity along the eastern South American Coast will cause oceanic upwelling bringing cold water to the surface. That’s why it’s important to monitor the semi-permanent Anticyclone off the coast. ENSO is incredibly complicated. There are so many factors involved and one reason why models are seldom correct.

  55. Weather Dave says:

    correction: Western South American Coast. Sorry.

  56. Bob Tisdale says:

    phlogiston says: “The movement from west to east of Equatorial Pacific ocean warmth does not mean physical movement of water. This “sloshing” idea is problematic.”

    Not a problem at all. The Equatorial Counter Current in the Pacific can grow quite strong during an El Nino. I presented that a couple of years ago:
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/02/16/equatorial-currents-before-during-and-after-the-199798-el-nino/

  57. Bob Tisdale says:

    Weather Dave says: “Phlogiston and sloshing…”

    Thanks. You beat me to it. See above.

  58. KRJ Pietersen says:

    Bob Tisdale says:
    May 9, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Thank you, Bob. You are an educator.

    The alarmists and warmistas will look at the step changes in global surface temperatures that you explain and ask “OK, but where is this extra heat in the Earth’s system coming from, and if it’s just a natural ongoing upward progression, why hasn’t the Earth fried already if it’s only step changes upwards? Where’s the other side of the coin that takes us down again and keeps us within acceptable limits?”

    I must admit I can’t answer that question.

  59. Bob Tisdale says:

    Hi Joe Bastardi. Thanks for your comment. I hope you’re right that this upcoming El Niño turns out to be a moderate one and that it ends early. However, the comparison to the 2002/03 El Niño has its problems.

    The 2002/03 El Niño evolved through two relatively weak downwelling Kelvin waves, while the Kelvin wave this year was quite strong.
    http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/jb-godas-thermocline-depth-anomalies-2014-v-2002.png

    As a result, there is a lot (<– scientific term) more warm water below the surface of the eastern equatorial Pacific this year than there was during the development of the 2002/03 El Niño.
    http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/jb-wwv-2002-v-2014.png

    Regards.

  60. Bob Tisdale says:

    Thanks for the links, Green Sand. I’m hoping you use screen caps of those earth.nullschool.net maps in future posts as the El Nino develops.

    Regards

  61. Farmer Gez says:

    The multi year droughts in Texas during the early 50′s keys in nicely with excellent high rainfall years in Eastern Australia. Can I expect the opposite seasonal conditions to Texas this year?

  62. Green Sand says:

    KRJ Pietersen says:
    May 9, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    “OK, but where is this extra heat in the Earth’s system coming from, and if it’s just a natural ongoing upward progression, why hasn’t the Earth fried already if it’s only step changes upwards?
    —————————————–

    It can’t be “extra” it can only be energy we receive from our sun. How our planet chooses to distribute, dissipate, utilise or simply retain said energy is what we mere homo sapiens are striving to comprehend. At present our experience relative to the life of this planet is the same as a “one day butterfly”, we know next to nothing!

    On the other hand there is another species “homo superbus” who are collectively convinced they know that every infinitesimal change that theoretical academia can model is directly attributable to man’s intervention. For sure collectively man does not lack imagination!

  63. Bob Tisdale says:

    Farmer Gez says: “The multi year droughts in Texas during the early 50′s keys in nicely with excellent high rainfall years in Eastern Australia. Can I expect the opposite seasonal conditions to Texas this year?”

    Texas typically gets rain during an El Nino:
    http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/figure-2-ukmo-weather-during-el-nino.jpg
    The key word in the above sentence is “typically”.

    The illustration is from this post:
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/the-201415-el-nino-part-6-whats-all-the-hubbub-about/

  64. Ed Mertin says:

    I cannot possibly wish the upcoming El Niño turns out to be a moderate one and that it ends early. If we stay in this cold La Niña to La Nada, humans and animals both will suffer hard for much longer. Harsh weather conditions clearly will go on for a prolonged time as La Nada dominates, causing the jet stream to continue to snake and get stuck with the blocking high pressure areas.

    Many people have died all over the globe in this cold pattern. So many livestock and crops have been lost. Locally, we have also lost a large number of mature trees in the plains and on the Ozark Plateau from the 2012 summer heat and drought, reminiscent of the ‘dust bowl’. Many of the trees already damaged from the unusually harsh 2009 ice storm that went from NE Oklahoma/SE Kansas to Ohio. There are houses that have been here 40 years that had their plumbing freeze up and bust for the first time this winter.

    Everything in La Nada/La Niña weather gets blamed on anthropogenic global climate change anyway. That is, until people gather together to demand debunction junction from this lunacy. A lunacy that is just about as bad as prostituting our military to do regime changes based on lies. Unfortunately, the powerful only seem to recognize ‘we the people’ when we GATHER BIG, such as in the 1930′s when the courageous WWI veterans surrounded the White House convincing them that eventually there would be a removal of power in store for them if they didn’t straighten up and get off the dime. Since we are failing something like that, at least please don’t express a wish for more cold and suffering to convince the dunderheads to change their ways.

  65. phlogiston says:

    Weather Dave, Bob Tisdale

    Point taken about the Equatorial counter current. However its still wrong to give the impression that all the east Pacific el Nino warm water has immigrated from the west. A large part of it is due to the interruption of Peruvian coast cold upwelling. This directly warms the surface, as well as indirectly by slackening the trades (i.e. the Bjerknes feedback). Indeed el Nino was first recognised as a fishing, not meteorological phenomenon – the periodic crash of the huge Peruvian anchovy fishery caused by the cessation of nutrient upwelling and reduced plankton blooms.

  66. bushbunny says:

    That’s interesting phlogiston, in the video of the answer to The Inconvenient Truth. One of the extras included a scientist who was hired by anchovy fishers in Canada I think, as to why some years these fish disappeared. Don’t quote me, but it was to do with solar activity and galactic atoms being diverted from our atmosphere, less rain. So less water flowing into the region where anchovies used to be found and necessary nutrients in the water.

    When the Aswan dam was first erected, it stopped the annual flood that brought in fertile silt to the delta. The Delta fishing was destroyed, malaria was rampant and so was that snail, (although they have a vaccine for that now) Farmers had to use chemical fertilizers that made agricultural production was more expensive. The plankton blooms that fish relied on had disappeared. It took 30 years for it to come back.

  67. Bob Tisdale says:

    phlogiston says: “Point taken about the Equatorial counter current. However its still wrong to give the impression that all the east Pacific el Nino warm water has immigrated from the west. A large part of it is due to the interruption of Peruvian coast cold upwelling.”

    The interruption of the upwelling off of Peru is a response to a coastally trapped Kelvin wave, which is a response to the equatorial Kelvin wave that has shifted warmer water from west to east. See Kessler (2006) “The circulation of the eastern tropical Pacific: A review”
    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/kess2580/variations.shtml

    Regards

  68. phlogiston says:

    Thanks again Bob.

    BTW what is it that causes an el Nino to flip into a reactive, sometimes strong La Nina? Or is that a subject for another day?

  69. Pamela Gray says:

    sarc on (just in case someone is reading this who is a believer in the creds of Bill Nye):

    My dear Bob, you said, “…the trade winds (blowing from east to west)…”. Now you know that Bill Nye, the ohhhh soooo sciency guy, has told us, complete with a fan demonstration, that the trade winds blow from the west to the east. You must correct this immediately because Bill Nye is a sciency guy and you are not, according to the latest criteria on who can “splain” this stuff to flat earth, moon movie people like me, and who cannot “splain” this.

    sarc off (just in case someone is reading this who thinks everything I write is tongue in cheek non-serious stuff).

  70. Thanks, Bob. These GODAS animations rock and your charts are very good; an excellent view of the Pacific.

  71. According to my research this Kelvin wave is going to fizzle out and I expect neutral or La Niña conditions at the end of this year.
    Nevertheless, the overall trend of the ENSO index is going to be positive for the coming years. I expect the ENSO index to be in weak or moderate El Niño condition during the end of next year, in other words between 2015/2016.
    http://www.global-warming-and-the-climate.com/enso-and-tidal-forcing.htm
    I am now concentration my research effort on the connection between solar activity and ENSO forcing.

  72. Bob Tisdale says:

    phlogiston says: “BTW what is it that causes an el Nino to flip into a reactive, sometimes strong La Nina?”

    One of the reasons: The delayed oscillator theory. IRI used to have a great introduction to it but they’ve recently revised their website and now it appears to be missing. This one isn’t as basic but it covers the fundamentals:
    http://www.goes-r.gov/users/comet/tropical/textbook_2nd_edition/navmenu.php_tab_5_page_2.1.3.htm

    Regards

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