New WUWT ENSO Forecast Page, Underwater Upgrades to the WUWT ENSO Page and a Disturbance in the Equatorial Atlantic

Guest Post by Just The Facts

Introducing the new WUWT ENSO Forecast Page with an array of low skill forecasts…

thumb its the sunThere are also several upgrades to the WUWT ENSO page, including new Sea Temperature Anomalies at depths. Lastly, WUWT reader “tim” points out in comments of the WUWT Ocean Page that “everybody is focusing on the Pacific at the moment, but “in the central Atlantic around the 10th may there seemed to be a large disturbance in the SST lasting around 2 weeks.” Animation to the left and analysis below.

The WUWT ENSO Forecast Page has actually been available for a few months, but I was hesitant to formally introduce it because “The period from February through May is commonly referred to as the spring barrier. During this time, models generally have the least skill to predict the coming season.” IRI “During April, May, and June, the state of the central Pacific is dynamic and can change quickly, making it hard to predict how it will behave in the coming months. In June, indications of potential strength should become more clear.”IRI

With this in mind, on May 16th Tony Barnston of the The International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society noted that “Models are currently predicting El Niño of moderate strength, though a strong or weak El Niño is also still possible. Certainty in the strength has increased somewhat, though we are still within the time of the “’spring predictability barrier.’” “Tony Barnston expects a weak El Niño to continue to develop in the next few weeks. The IRI’s May ENSO forecast puts the chances of El Niño conditions at just under 70% for early next fall (see image at right), a slight decrease from IRI’s April forecast and from NOAA/IRI’s official prediction issued on May 8. A possible reason for the slightly lower probability is some weakness in the positive feedback loop typically seen in El Niño events between the atmosphere and warm ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific”

Here IRI’s Mid-May Plume of Model ENSO Predictions;

Columbia University – NOAA – International Research Institute (IRI)/CPC – Click the pic to view at source

And here is NOAA’s Consolidated Niño 3.4 forecasts:

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

and Consolidated  Standardized Niño 3.4 Anomaly Forecast:

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

In the two consolidation graphs above, it is interesting to note that the CFSv2 Arctic Sea Ice Extent prediction is for a positive anomaly in September and CFSv2 Niño 3.4 SST Anomalies forecast above is for a much stronger El Niño than it’s peers. below is CFSv2 Niño 3.4 SST Anomalies with the 16 most recent forecast members;

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

and here’s the 80 most recent forecast members:

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

Seems that they’ve certainly covered most of their bases. In addition to the fact that “for the predictions through the spring season in the growth phase of El Niño events, the prediction errors induced by both initial errors and model errors tend to have a prominent season-dependent evolution and yield a prominent spring predictability barrier (SPB)” Duan et al. , 2012, it is important to note that even after the SPB passes, our ENSO forecasting skills are abysmal, i.e.:

“ENSO conditions are represented by the Niño- 3.4 SST index in the east-central tropical Pacific. The skills of 20 prediction models (12 dynamical, 8 statistical) are examined. Results indicate skills somewhat lower than those found for the less advanced models of the 1980s and 1990s. Using hindcasts spanning 1981–2011, this finding is explained by the relatively greater predictive challenge posed by the 2002–11 period and suggests that decadal variations in the character of ENSO variability are a greater skill-determining factor than the steady but gradual trend toward improved ENSO prediction science and models.” Barnston et al. Given that, “Climate simulations suggest that multi-decadal periods of high and low variability in the phenomenon known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation in the tropical Pacific Ocean may be entirely unpredictable” DiNezio, 1014, we cannot have confidence in any of our current ENSO forecasts

With these warnings applied, all of the ENSO forecasts above, as well as an array of others, can be found on the new WUWT ENSO Forecast Page.

In addition to the new ENSO Forecast Page, there are also some upgrades to the WUWT ENSO Page. When one views Sea Surface Temperatures;

Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) – Monterey Marine Meteorology Division – Click the pic to view at source

and even Upper Ocean (300 Meters) Heat Anomalies;

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

one gets a 2 dimensional view of the Ocean Heat. However, the following Average Sea Temperature and Anomalies graphs at 55, 105 and 155 meters provides a view of what is occurring at three different depths below the surface. Here are Average Sea Temperature and Anomalies at 155 Meters:

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

105 Meters;

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

and 55 Meters:

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

Note how the area of large positive Sea Temperature Anomaly first appeared in early February at a depth of 155 meters, centered on longitude 160W. By late February had risen to 105 meters, centered on longitude 135W and by mid March had risen to 55 meters centered on 95W.

Here is an animation of weekly Equatorial Temperature Anomaly (Surface to 450 Meters) from Jan 18th – March 19th:

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

here is weekly from March 19th to May 18th;

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

and here is Equatorial Temperature and Anomaly monthly for the last 12 months:

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

The ENSO graphs above are now available on the WUWT ENSO page, as is the following Equatorial Upper-Ocean graph, which shows that Upper Ocean (300 Meters) Heat Anomalies reached a maximum in late March/early April, and then have slowly declined since then:

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

Aside from the WUWT ENSO pages and Equatorial Pacific, WUWT reader “tim” points out in comments of the WUWT Ocean Page, that “in the central atlantic around the 10th may there seemed to be a large disturbance in the SST lasting around 2 weeks.” Let’s take a look, here’s Global Sea Surface Temperature;

Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) – Monterey Marine Meteorology Division – Click the pic to view at source

and here’s Equatorial Atlantic SST:

Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) – Monterey Marine Meteorology Division – Click the pic to view at source

There definitely appears to have be a disturbance in Sea Surface Temperature between May 9th and 19th, Furthermore, the disturbance wasn’t just SST, it was also Sea Surface Height;

Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) – Monterey Marine Meteorology Division – Click the pic to view at source

Speed / Currents;

Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) – Monterey Marine Meteorology Division – Click the pic to view at source

and Sea Surface Salinity, where there is also an interesting coincident decrease in salinity off the coast of Africa:

Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) – Monterey Marine Meteorology Division – Click the pic to view at source

Does anyone know what what might have caused of this disturbance? “tim” suggested that it might be a Submarine Volcano Near The Equator in The Atlantic Ocean, 1838, i.e.:

“The effect of a submarine eruption on a ship is described, by those seamen who have experienced it, to be similar to that of dragging the ship bodily along a roughly paved road; or like that violent shaking which the chain cable produces when running through the hawse; and this effect appears to have been felt in greater or less degree in the various instances now brought forward.”

“Mr. T. L. Huntley presents some volcanic ashes, collected at sea by Captain Ferguson, of the ship ‘Henry Tanner.’ These ashes were black, and had the same consistence as those of coal. The spot where they were picked up was 0 degrees 35′ S and 15 degrees 50′ W., the sea being in a violent agitation. In a former voyage, made by the same officer and almost in the same place, lat 1 degree 35′ S. and 20 degrees 27′ W., he had been alarmed by hearing a very great noise. The captain and officers thought the ship had struck on a coral rock; but in sounding they could not reach the bottom.”

Here’s picture of a Submarine volcano disturbing the sea surface in 2011;

National Geographic – Click the pic to view at source

with associated commentary, “Whitecaps churn in the Atlantic off West Africa as an underwater volcano erupts off Spain’s Canary Islands on Monday. Since last week, the volcano has been spewing gas and fragments of smoking lava, staining the ocean surface green and brown, as seen above. Spanish authorities have closed a port on Hierro island, ordered ships away from the island’s village of La Restinga, and banned aircraft from flying over the island’s southern tip, according to the AFP news service.” Crystalinks

Please post your thoughts on what might have caused the Equatorial Atlantic disturbance in comments below or on the WUWT Ocean Page. In addition to the WUWT Ocean Page, WUWT ENSO Page and new WUWT ENSO Forecast Page, if you have not had the opportunity to review some our other WUWT Reference Pages, they are highly recommended:

Please note that WUWT cannot vouch for the accuracy of the data within the Reference Pages, as WUWT is simply an aggregator. All of the data is linked from third party sources. If you have doubts about the accuracy of any of the graphs on the WUWT Reference Pages, or have any suggested additions or improvements to any of the pages, please let us know in comments below.

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58 thoughts on “New WUWT ENSO Forecast Page, Underwater Upgrades to the WUWT ENSO Page and a Disturbance in the Equatorial Atlantic

  1. Thanks for the great animations and all the work that went into them! Fascinating!

    However, as I look at them, I am reminded of the investors who stare endlessly at various financial time history plots, trying to divine future trends. With both the markets and climate/weather as fundamentally chaotic systems, that is probably a fool’s errand.

  2. Spanish authorities have closed a port on Hierro island, ordered ships away from the island’s village of La Restinga, and banned aircraft from flying over the island’s southern tip, according to the AFP news service.”

    That report was from 2011!! and the island is at latitude 27.7°N!

    http://earthquake-report.com/2011/09/25/el-hierro-canary-islands-spain-volcanic-risk-alert-increased-to-yellow/ shows that there’s essentially nothing going on. This is not the volcano you are looking for.

  3. When you first look at the animation, it looks like the “disturbance” was bubbling up from below and not related to currents moving. If it was volcanic, wouldn’t there be seismic readings from both sides of the Atlantic that could pinpoint it’s location ?

  4. Ric Werme says: May 26, 2014 at 10:23 am

    That report was from 2011!! and the island is at latitude 27.7°N!

    http://earthquake-report.com/2011/09/25/el-hierro-canary-islands-spain-volcanic-risk-alert-increased-to-yellow/ shows that there’s essentially nothing going on. This is not the volcano you are looking for.

    Understood, this reference was included, along with the other citation from 1838, as a comparative reference of submarine volcanoes and their effect on the Ocean surface. I’ve added years to both references within the article to make clear that these are not examples of the event that occurred in May of this year.

  5. ggm says: May 26, 2014 at 10:30 am

    If it was volcanic, wouldn’t there be seismic readings from both sides of the Atlantic that could pinpoint it’s location ?

    I’d assume so, however the only seismic readings in the Atlantic during the time frame appear to be a 5.2 “Moderate earthquake – Southern Mid Atlantic Ridge on May 10, 2014″;

    http://earthquake-report.com/2014/05/10/moderate-earthquake-southern-mid-atlantic-ridge-on-may-10-2014/

    which was much further South than the location of the disturbance, and a 6.0 (USGS) was recorded off the coast of Antigua and Barbuda, a twin-island nation between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, on May 16, 2014;

    http://thewatchers.adorraeli.com/2014/05/16/strong-m-6-0-earthquake-recorded-off-the-coast-of-antigua-and-barbuda/

    that was much further to the West of the disturbance.

  6. Ryan Scott Welch says: May 26, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Could there be a corruption in the data to eplain the “upwelling” we see on these animations?

    Certainly a possibility, but if this is the case it is strange that the corrupt data shows up in different ways and time frames on the Sea Surface Temperature, Sea Surface Height, Speed / Currents and Sea Surface Salinity animations.

  7. Jaxa’s Gosat, Ibuki, is tracking CO2. Did they notice if the Atlantic Ocean belched?

  8. Gaseous subaqueous emissions would reduce buoyancy in the water column above the origin of the eruption. The consequence for shipping could be catastrophic.

  9. The disturbance covers a very wide area – extending 12degrees west to 27 degrees west in a very short period of time (less than 1 day) – would that not imply either a data problem or a meteoric disturbance? For it to be volcanic it would need to be enormous or very fast currents!

  10. Just The Facts writes: “Does anyone know what what might have caused of this disturbance?”

    I suspect it’s an uncorrected anomaly in common satellite-based data. I’ll take a look at the Reynolds OI.v2 SST data when they update it next, hopefully tomorrow, to see what it looks like…if it shows up.

  11. ” The International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society noted that “Models are currently predicting El Niño of moderate strength, though a strong or weak El Niño is also still possible.”

    My model predicts it will it get warmer or go dark before the night’s out.

    “… for Climate and Society” . Sounds like a totally objective scientific venture, not.

  12. When I first saw that disturbance I shrugged it off as some data glitch, because it is so huge the cause would hard to go unnoticed.

    Now I’m wondering. Perhaps it is a glitch caused by some event in the upper atmosphere that would effect the readings a satellite was getting.

    Maybe some sort of crushed comet could hit the upper atmosphere with a sort of spread-out shotgun blast of tiny particles, all vaporizing long before they reach the earth, yet creating a “disturbance in the force.”

    This mystery will be interesting to follow.

  13. Salinity disturbance? Maybe fresh water from the Congo R. (6 deg S) .. Not sure about the northern Bight of Bonny source

  14. Well, almost all of my thoughs on the disturbance in the Atlantic have been covered.

    Has anyone scaled it for size?

    Now, what about plankton or algae blooms??

  15. It’s helpful to save the animations and use a tool like GIMP to resave them with different frame rates. I set it to 2000ms per frame (every frame) and you get chance to focus on what happens at least.

    I noted in the salinity anim. that the Gulf of Guinea shows activity just before the mid atlantic event.

    12th pulse near to africain coast 7-8 east; 13th quick flash 5W half way to central zone; 14th quiet; 15th,16th mid-atlantic disturbance 15W. Coastal zones remains low salinity until near to end of month then anomaly contracts.

    Like Caleb, I initially dismissed this a curious glitch but this tends to go against that. It’s a different time-scale , affects different areas and a different measurement. I think that argues for a real physical event.

    A volcano is the obvious thought but if there was not recorded activity that seems at least in doubt. Also the size of the zone affected is huge. It’s not just a squirt of bubbles making it to the surface.

    There was a solar eclipse on 29 April so this 11-16th period was around the following full moon when solar + lunar tidal forces add. Near equinox so both are focuses in tropics. Closest perigee was 23 April but still very close at this time. Stronger than usual lunar tidal force.

    I guess all these things we are looking at are ‘anomalies’. Could this be a sub-surface standing wave (tide) reaching higher than usual magnitude due to alignment of tidal forces?

    It certainly came and went very quickly.

  16. On the Atlantic event, I have a collection of AVHRR OISST stills here. It’s high resolution; you can get down to 1/4°. You can choose days, rotate etc. I couldn’t see anything unusual on 9 or 10 May, or nearby days.

  17. justthefactswuwt says: May 26, 2014 at 2:16 pm
    “Modeled, the Equatorial Atlantic animations within the article are from Naval Research Laboratory’s HYCOM Consortium for Data-Assimilative Ocean”

    Yes, it looks to me like a disturbance in the NRL modelling. A checkerboard instability, with an alternating pattern, fading rapidly as it loses energy in shallow water. As I mentioned above, I can’t see anything in the AVHRR observations.

  18. If this is indeed satellite based measurements in which one must peer through the atmosphere in order to measure oceanic things, what would it look like if a large explosion in the atmosphere occurred? And then the satellite picked up those signals, incorporated it into the model component of the program, and ended up with what you see above?

  19. Nick Stokes says: May 26, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Yes, it looks to me like a disturbance in the NRL modelling. A checkerboard instability, with an alternating pattern, fading rapidly as it loses energy in shallow water. As I mentioned above, I can’t see anything in the AVHRR observations.

    There is a similar disturbance in the Atlantic operational Real Time Ocean Forecasting System (Atlantic RTOFS), which is “a basin-scale ocean forecast system based on the HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM). Atlantic RTOFS is described in the following paper (PDF): “A Real Time Ocean Forecast System for the North Atlantic Ocean” by Mehra and Rivin, Terr. Atmos. Ocean. Sci., Vol. 21, No. 1, 211-228, February 2010″

    http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/ofs/

    Here is the RTOFS disturbance on May 16th;

    http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/global/nc/?-eqatl-temperature-000-small-rundate=20140516

    and May 17th:

    http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/global/nc/?-eqatl-temperature-000-small-rundate=20140517

    However, as you note, I don’t see anything unusual in the Optimum Interpolation (OI) sea surface temperature (SST) analysis from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) instrument:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sst/plots.php

  20. There was an M5.6 earthquake on 2014-04-30 15:52:40 UTC north of Ascension Island (1.184°S 13.455°W depth=10.0km) followed by smaller quakes throughout May, including an M5.1 one on 2014-05-16 21:11:29 UTC (10.396°S, 13.234°W depth=10.0km). Looks like an entire section of the mid Atlantic ridge is on the move there.

    With a RAF airbase on Ascension Island, used by the Americans and a NASA Tracking Station at Devil’s Ashpit I am sure it was closely monitored. Pretty much everything related to the island is classified, I have no idea why tectonic processes should be included though.

  21. Doesn’t look right.
    That was a vast area of ocean, currents don’t act like that and, water simply doesn’t mix that quickly. The arrival of some super hot/super cold water would have left traces which would have remained visible for much longer.
    This ‘anomaly’ vanished in a day, so it is indeed anomalous!

  22. Nick Stokes says: “On the Atlantic event, I have a collection of AVHRR OISST stills here. It’s high resolution; you can get down to 1/4°. You can choose days, rotate etc. I couldn’t see anything unusual on 9 or 10 May, or nearby days.”

    Thanks, Nick.

  23. If it was a volcano, maybe it produced pumice which would be quite hot then rapidly cool as it floats to the surface, then would be rafting its way to some distant shore.

  24. The 2014 El Nino is looking more and more like a mild/moderate summer off-typical-timeline event.

    The thing is when the heat dissapates, the equatorial Pacific will then be a big cool-spot along its entire length. A La Nina is then likely to develop which will then offset any global temperature impact by next spring 2015.

    Up and down and up and down. This is what the ENSO is.

  25. I’m with Barnston for this year’s “el Nino” being weak.

    As for the disturbance in the Atlantic, if it’s a volcano it’s pretty damn big. This is where interhemispheric heat piracy takes SH heat to the NH by the trans-equatorial current becoming the Carribean current. If this is disrupted or changed it could have global climate implications.

  26. The Atlantic temperature, sea height, current, and salinity observations for the period May 27-31 are the most interesting. :-) If you can explain them, then you can explain the disturbance around May 14.

  27. UnfrozenCavemanMD says: May 26, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    The Atlantic temperature, sea height, current, and salinity observations for the period May 27-31 are the most interesting. :-) If you can explain them, then you can explain the disturbance around May 14.

    Yes, it’s a “Real-time 1/12° Global HYCOM Nowcast/Forecast System”;

    http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/GLBhycom1-12/skill.html

    however the portion in question is modeled based upon observations versus a forecast. With that said, the following Temperature and Salinity Sections from the 1/12° Global HYCOM Equatorial Atlantic from the time in question, look more like a modeling anomaly versus a natural one:

    Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) – Monterey Marine Meteorology Division – Click the pic to view at source

  28. Kevin is engaged in wishful thinking. This el nino is already proving not as powerful as the 97 el nino, failing to hit similar targets at similar points of its evolution. How powerful it will be, ultimately, remains to be seen yet.

  29. ‘How powerful it will be, ultimately, remains to be seen yet.’, yip, but all the signs are pointing to a big El Nino! A case of wait and see, which will not be to long off.

  30. blackadderthe4th says: “‘How powerful it will be, ultimately, remains to be seen yet.’, yip, but all the signs are pointing to a big El Nino!”

    The feedbacks (Westerly Wind Bursts and general weakening of the trade winds) are going to have to kick in if that’s going to happen. So far, they are no where near where they were during the evolution of the 1997/98 El Nino. NINO1+2 region sea surface temperatures, as a result, are presently about 1.0 deg C lower than where they were during this week in 1997.

  31. Not only that Bob, but because the current el nino is unfolding in a similar way as 1997, you can just compare them at similar stages. So far, this el nino is failing to reach 97 levels. With each week the discrepancy grows. That’s a fact. Let’s keep in mind as well, in 1997 there was yet another kelvin wave that increased temperatures even further in the summer. If that doesn’t happen, this el nino will come no where close to 1997.

    The kelvin wave was the only thing that even suggested a strong el nino to begin with and now that it’s surfacing we can see it’s not creating 1997 type temperature increases in the ocean. Ocean temperatures are not rising as high, or as fast, as they did in 1997. The kelvin is waning as it surfaces as well. The winds are not cooperating at all and even many of the more “optimistic” models (predicting strong el nino) are pulling back. The models, as of now, are calling for a mild el nino. Something else will have to happen to give this el nino a kick start.

    It’s becoming more and more obvious this won’t be a very powerful one (ala 97 or 83) but it could still be a 2010 type event. Let’s see. I would hardly say that all indications point to a strong one. There were a few indications, a couple of months ago, but many of those have not materialized.

  32. Living here in central Ca, I am hoping for a strong enough El Niño to alarm the alarmists . The precipitation it would bring will surely be another example of “Climate Change” as well as climate change. I will suffer those fools in exchange for the rain.

  33. I am hoping for at least 20 in of rain next water year. It is not too much to ask for.

  34. I believe the effects of the negative PDO will work toward a weaker ENSO event than predicted. Does anyone know of research on this point?

  35. I am completely mesmerized by the anomaly.
    I’m also fascinated while watching my hard drive being de-fragged.

    The volume of seawater, being churned in a few days is just amazing. The speed of the rising cold water volume from 10,000′ below sea level, with an area the size of the Philippines.
    90,000 cubic miles of water moving vertically at about one mph..

    Say how many horse power would be needed to duplicate this event?….

  36. upcountrywater says:
    May 27, 2014 at 10:45 pm
    I am completely mesmerized by the anomaly.
    I’m also fascinated while watching my hard drive being de-fragged.

    What PC operating system do you use? In older windows versions there was this nice graphic display of the shifting colored squares as defrag proceeded. But in Vista and Windows 7 this was removed (unless there’s a way to get it back?)

  37. The Atlantic disturbance is in the same area where the Air France flight 447 crashed on June 1, 2009. Just saying…

  38. phlogiston says:
    What PC operating system do you use?
    That would be : Raxco Perfect Disk 10 …

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