PDO — ENSO, Aleutian Low, or some of each?

PDO — ENSO, Aleutian Low, or some of each?

Guest Post by Basil Copeland

Introduction

In a recent post here at WUWT, as well as on his own blog, Bob Tisdale challenged the popular view that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is a principal driver of climate independent of the tropical El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) system.  Presenting the results of his own analysis, as well as citations from published scientific literature, Bob at least made the case for some plausible relationship between PDO and ENSO.  But what is the nature of this relationship, and does it reduce PDO to, as Bob put it, merely “a pattern of SST variability, not SST” itself?

Bob quoted extensively from Newman et al. (2003).  While this paper was in press at the time, it was reviewed and considered by Miller et al. (2004).  The latter is a comprehensive review of “Decadal-Scale Climate and Ecosystem Interactions in the North Pacific Ocean” (e.g., the title of the paper).  While acknowledging a tropical forcing (ENSO) on North Pacific SSTs, they contend that there is another, distinct forcing that is independent of the tropical forcing, related on decadal time scales to the behavior of the Aleutian Low.

In this post I will be citing selected portions of the Miller et al. paper, and presenting some simple empirical data that demonstrate the complex reality of the PDO.  While on an interannual to decadal scale it is possible to demonstrate a “teleconnection” between ENSO and the PDO, on multi-decadal time scales this teleconnection appears to have little power to explain the behavior of the PDO.  Instead, the multi-decadal pattern of the PDO is based — or “forced” — on midlatitude climate variability reflected in the behavior of the Aleutian Low.  Specifically, I will bring into the discussion the North Pacific Index (NPI).  The NPI is calculated as the area-weighted sea level pressure over the region 30°N-65°N, 160°E-140°W, and provides a measure of the intensity of the wintertime Aleutian Low.  I’ve taken the monthly NPI data, created a moving average, and have normalized and inverted it so that it scales similarly to ENSO and the PDO for purposes of comparison.  For ENSO, I am using a series for Nino 3.4.  All data sources are cited in a reference list at the end of this post.

figure1.PDO

Power Spectrum: Nino 3.1, PDO, and NPI

In leading up to a discussion of Newman et al., Miller et al. say:

Deterministic forcing from the tropics clearly has an effect in establishing decadal SST variability in the midlatitudes.  The forcing of the canonical SST pattern (around the subtropic front) has long been linked to atmospheric teleconnections from the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events on interannual timescales.  (Except as noted, citations will be eliminated in quoting from Miller et al.)

So this much is consistent with the point Bob was making about ENSO being a driver of the PDO, and is what we see in Figure 1 with the common periodicities at 4.8 to 6.5 years, and possibly at ~9 years.  But Miller et al. go on to discuss a second pattern of SST’s present in the PDO that have their origin in the Aleutian Low and propagate via “Rossby waves from the central North to the region around the subartic frontal zone and the Kuroshio-Oyashio Extension (KOE) region.”  In further describing these Rossby waves, they write:

These Rossby waves arrive several years after the Aleutian Low changes, resulting in a lagged response in SST in the KOE region.  This second SST pattern…also projects onto the PDO although it has a lagged relationship to the canonical pattern of SST [i.e. the pattern induced by ENSO].  Hence, the PDO index should be considered an amalgam of these two physical ocean responses.  (Emphasis supplied.)

Continuing the first quote above, Miller et al. go on to say:

The forcing of the KOE SST pattern (around the subartic front) is only weakly linked to tropical teleconnections.  The independent behavior of the KOE SST has been clarified through its enhanced decadal variance relative to the canonical SST pattern and through its links to decadal wind-stress curl forcing.

Then they comment on Newman et al.:

Recent studies with a simple first-order Markov model with forcing specified by the tropical SST index, damping rate specified by SST persistence (with re-emergence) and white noise forcing (simulating midlatitude weather) reversals that the bulk of the PDO index is explicable by atmospheric forcing from tropical teleconnections (Newman et al., 2003).

Again, this accords with what Bob was saying.  But Miller et al. go on to say:

The forcing with tropical origins clearly drives the canonical SST pattern portion of the PDO.  However, the simple model result is somewhat deficient in decadal timescale energy.  This suggests that the KOE SST pattern portion of the PDO is not simply driven by (or at least is not in phase with) this tropical forcing.

We see this clearly in Figure 1.  Out beyond 12.8 years, there is very little power in the Nino 3.4 spectrum.  There is modest power on a scale of 31.2 years, but there is simply nothing to compare to the multi-decadal power spectrum seen in the PDO and evident in the NPI.  The latter show power at bidecadal, and especially at pentadecadal periodicities.  On the latter, I would here just reference a series of papers by Minobe (sometimes with others); see the reference list at the end of this post for examples.

The bottom line?  While ENSO forced variation may drive the PDO out to decadal time scales, it does not fully account for PDO variation on longer time scales.  That latter is more likely related to long term, low frequency, oscillations in the behavior of the Aleutian Low, which set up what is really the more uniquely characteristic pattern of the PDO: its variation between cool and warm phases on a scale of 20-30 years.

What Difference Does It Make?

Based on discussions we had in comments to his post, and some private email correspondence, I do not think that Bob would have any significant disagreement with any of this.  So what was his point, and why do I think it is important to clarify the matter?  Bob’s point was that “global warming” cannot be attributed to the PDO.  And depending on what one means by “global warming,” he is no doubt correct.  That is, if by “global warming” we are speaking of the long rise in global temperatures since the earth came out of the “Little Ice Age,” then certainly, the PDO cannot likely account for that.  After all, the PDO is basically an oscillation about the long term global trend, whatever that is.  But if by “global warming” we were to mean calling attention to the increase in the rate of increase in global temperatures since the middle of the 20th century — and this was a cornerstone focus of the IPCC’s AR4 — then the behavior of the PDO does become extremely relevant to the so-called “global warming” of the past half century or so.

To understand my point, consider Figures 2 and 3.  In Figure 2 I show smoothed trends for the NPI, PDO and Nino 3.4.  These were derived using Hodrick-Prescott filtering.  Since first introducing this technique to WUWT users last year, I’ve continued to investigate the properties of this technique.  As some readers may recall, the outcome all depends upon the value of the “smoothing parameter” lambda.  By analyzing Morelet wavelet transforms before and after smoothing, I can determine the degree of smoothing implicit in a given value of lambda.  For Figure 2 I used a value of lambda (512000) which results in a degree of smoothing that filters out cycles of less than ~2^6 months, i.e ~5.3 years.  It thus captures the decadal (and longer) variation in these three series, while filtering out shorter term periodicities (which are much more prevalent in ENSO than in the PDO/NPI).  We can clearly see the decadal variation in ENSO, as well as the multi-decadal variation in the PDO, which is closely matched by the multi-decadal pattern of the NPI, in Figure 2.

Figure2.PDO

I then extracted the first principal component from these three series, shown in Figure 3.  Consider this a “weighted average” of the three series.  It really does not reveal anything we do not already know – that the PDO/NPI, and a decadal influence from ENSO – has undergone major epoch changes, or regime shifts, in the 20th Century.  Figure 3 simply illustrates what is cited on the JISAO web page for the PDO:

Figure3.PDO

Several independent studies find evidence for just two full PDO cycles in the past century: “cool” PDO regimes prevailed from 1890-1924 and again from 1947-1976, while “warm” PDO regimes dominated from 1925-1946 and from 1977 through (at least) the mid-1990’s. Shoshiro Minobe  has shown that 20th century PDO fluctuations were most energetic in two general periodicities, one from 15-to-25 years, and the other from 50-to-70 years.

The issue with respect to what impact this has on measuring the degree of “global warming” is obvious.  If we simply bifurcate the 20th Century into two halves, which is more or less what the IPCC AR4 did in its assessment of 20th Century global temperature trends, the trend for the second half of the 20th Century is going to begin during a period that was dominated by a cool phase of the PDO, and end during a period dominated by a warm phase.  In other words, even if the PDO is not itself, over a complete cycle, contributing to “global warming,” trends calculated this way will be biased upwards because of the transient impact of decadal and bidecadal influences of the PDO on global temperature.  Measuring global warming with a starting point in the middle of the 20th Century, which is what the IPCC did in AR4, is just a variation on the theme of cherry picking, something familiar to most WUWT readers.

Perhaps a better way to look at all of this is from the global perspective of Figure 4.  Figure 4 plots the HadCRUT3 series from 1850:01 through 2009:03.  Shown is a smoothed trend line, blue (HP smoothing, lambda 512000), and superimposed is a smoothed trend line in red (again, HP smoothing with lambda 512000) of the UAH satellite record, rescaled to track with HadCRUT3.  In this data, there appear to be two complete PDO-like cycles, when measured peak-to-peak: one from 1879 to 1941, and the other from 1942 to 2004.  From 1879 to 1941, the decadal rate of growth in global temperature was 0.036°C/decade; from 1942 to 2004, the decadal rate of growth in global temperature was 0.087°C/decade.  Contrast this latter with the claim in IPCC AR4 that the rate of warming for the past 50 years (1956-2005) was 0.13°C/decade.

Figure4.PDO

Put differently, the real rate of warming since the last peak of the PDO is approximately 33% less than alleged by the IPCC because of the bias created in not taking into effect the suppression of global temperatures in the mid-20th by the cool phase of the PDO.  So while the PDO itself may not be contributing to global warming, the warm phase of the past three decades, following on two to three decades of a previous cool phase, has allowed climate alarmists to overstate the actual degree of global warming in the 20th Century.

References and Data

  1. The NPI data I utilized is here: http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/jhurrell/indices.data.html#npmon
  2. The main page for the PDO data is here: http://jisao.washington.edu/pdo/PDO.latest

I downloaded the data, though, from Wood For Trees: http://www.woodfortrees.org/data/jisao-pdo

  1. The Nino 3.4 series I used is here: http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/ihadisst1_nino3.4a.dat
  2. A full cite to the Miller et al., 2004 paper:  Miller, AJ, Chai, F, Chiba, S, Joisan, JR and Neilson, DJ.  Decadal-Scale Climate and Ecosystem Interactions in the North Pacific Ocean.  Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 60, pp. 163 to 188, 2004.  A copy can be downloaded here: http://horizon.ucsd.edu/miller/download/jgofs/JO_60-1-11.pdf .  I believe many WUWT readers will enjoy this paper.  The authors at least acknowledge the role of solar forcing, and cite Landscheidt, Svensmark and Friis-Christensen, and others who are often ignored in articles of this nature.
  3. The principle paper by Shoshiro Minobe on the pentadecadal cycle in the PDO is “Resonance in bidecadal and pentadecadal climate oscillations over the North Pacific : Role in climatic regime shifts,” Geophysical Research Letters. 26(7), 1999, 855-858.  A copy can be downloaded here: http://eprints.lib.hokudai.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2115/21813/1/1999grl_letter.pdf .  There is an intriguing indication that Minobe is working on research that would connect the Pentadecadal oscillation to LOD here: http://wwwoa.ees.hokudai.ac.jp/~mikeda/proj/iarc/sympo/8minobe.htm .
  4. The HadCRUT3 data was downloaded via Wood For Trees: http://www.woodfortrees.org/data/hadcrut3gl .
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61 thoughts on “PDO — ENSO, Aleutian Low, or some of each?

  1. I agree with the general points made but cannot accept the implication that the longer term oceanic phase shifts are all driven by the air.
    Bob says that ENSO drives PDO whereas this article suggests the Aleutian Low.
    For multidecadal phase shifts in the oceans from net energy absorption to net energy emission I think we should be looking at something within the oceans and not in the air.
    I’m happy to accept short term ENSO and ENSO type cycles in all the other oceans as being air driven but not the longer term phase shifts between positive warming and negative cooling modes.
    I don’t see the air as being powerful enough to induce such underlying long term phase changes.
    Given that PDO et al are statistical artifacts derived from observation of ENSO et al it seems that not many accept those oceanic phase shifts as having any independent existence.
    I think they are independent and require a new generic name such as ‘Wildean Ocean Cycles’ 🙂

  2. Note: Under the three charts find Nino 3.1 and not 3.4
    Power Spectrum: Nino 3.1, PDO, and NPI

  3. Let us apply Socrates’ mayeutic method to ask, almost naively: And which was the cause of such a peculiar variation of the 97-98 El Nino?, What happend before (considering a time lag) this El Nino?

  4. Stephen,
    ‘Wildean Ocean Cycles’ ??
    Sure, why not? How much is a vote going for these days? I noticed my case of beer is nearly empty. For my vote please send a new case to …
    Seriously, this is informative material but stretches my background in time series analyses. I’ll have to do a little reading to catch on – wasn’t following before a few months ago and a broadband connection.
    Speaking of stretching: My thought is we are accustomed to thinking of things as being independent or dependent variables – “ENSO drives PDO, and the like” – while, in fact, nature is more complex, with lots of co-dependencies. Sort of like a spider’s web – tweak it on any line, node, or connection and the whole thing responds. That idea may not lead to any fruitful research but is helpful as an underlying concept to the relationships suggested in this guest post by Basil Copeland.
    Relationships: forcing, drivers, teleconnections, patterns, lagged, linked, oscillations, and so on …
    Good post. Thanks. John

  5. So uh, this is kind of hard to understand, so based on this information what is the direction you think SST’s will go?

  6. Stephen,
    How does your comment now square with what you wrote here (on WUWT) back on 3-22:
    I contend elsewhere that the latitudinal position of the mid latitude jet streams (after accounting for seasonal changes) indicates whether the globe is warming or cooling overall.
    I propose that the latitudinal movement of those jets is the climate mechanism whereby the energy flow to space is accelerated or decelerated in order to maintain sea surface/air surface temperature equilibrium.
    The position of the jets represents the netted out product of all the other available variables in the climate system (in my humble opinion).

    The location of the Aleutian Low has a lot to do with the location of the jet stream, no? While intended to demonstrate the difference between El Nino and La Nina, this graphic
    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/images/elnino/jetstream.gif
    could just as easily be describing the bidecadal swings in the Aleutian Low, with the upper panel representing a strong Aleutian Low, and the lower panel a weakened Aleutian Low.
    I’m not suggesting that you’ve contradicted yourself. Rather, I’m suggesting that there may not be as much inconsistency between what I was writing about and your view of things.
    To what would you attribute the long term, low frequency cycles, in the NPI?

  7. These indices are a dog’s breakfast. What are they even supposed to represent?

  8. I would argue that most everything in the climate cycles in both directions, driving and being driven, aborbing and emitting. Thats the nature of… nature. There are no runaway asymptotic curves, everything that gets out of whack gets attenuated by negative feedbacks and casts ripples through time that affects other things and creates resonant patterns. Until and unless someone puts together a truly massive supercomputer that can simulate the entire planets climate/ocean/sun/geomagnetosphere system as a huge navier stokes equation run chaotic system, we will never have a true handle on climate. Many things contribute to it in various ways, there is no way to blame any one change in climate on any one thing. We certainly have not seen the sort of change in climate that would justify calling this one unprecedented. Anybody who claims they have the handle on the one true cause is deluding themselves, which primarily defines the AGW alarmists. It is important we dont fall into the same trap of self delusion and emotional investment in a given position.

  9. Stephen Wilde (@1): I don’t see the air as the driver here. Based on my reading of William DiPuccio’s stellar article on ocean heat ( http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/05/06/the-global-warming-hypothesis-and-ocean-heat/ ) I see the air as not the driver, but being driven; by ocean heat. Incoming sunlight heats ocean; huge thermal mass (with time lags); it dominates the system. When air is warm, less ocean heat comes out; when air is cool, more ocean heat comes out. In this long-cycle complex way.
    You can see I am a lay reader. But at this crude level, is it wrong?

  10. Diatribe Guy’s done quite a bit of work on the ENSO/PDO etc.
    http://digitaldiatribes.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/deconstructing-the-hadcrut-data/
    His prediction is we’re on a 23-year long downslope.
    A driving mechanism? Fluctuations in cloud cover, with increased cloud due to increased evaporation from a warmed ocean, cloud having a negative feedback, thus temperatures fall, reducing ocean temperatures, reducing cloud cover, etc, etc.
    Add in a contribution from our CO2 output and we’re nearly there?

  11. I suggest everyone give close consideration to Mike Lorrey’s post at 10:52:26. He is right on.
    As for the effect of PDO on ENSO, Kristen Byrnes Science Foundation seems to have made the first correct observation… when there is anegative PDO, cool SST’s are bown into theNino 3.4 region, obstructing the westward propagation of the warm tongue and therefore creating a greater liklihood that ENSO events will reflect cool neutral or La Nina conditions.

  12. My understanding of the PDO is that it is the result of serveral modes of climate variability. This includes the PNA, WPO, TNH, and ENSP. Robert Livesay of CPC says this…
    Is PDO variability the result of a single mode?
    NO, at least all four phenomena that impact the PNA sector contribute!
    Extratropical North Pacific SST variability dominantly follows and is
    driven by the PNA, WPO, and TNH patterns, which are the regional
    expressions of the four dominant PNA sector physical modes.
    I do believe that there are paleoclimatic reconstructions of the PDO index beyond 100 years ago. Is the power analysis over the last 400-1000 years the same as the analysis for the last 100 years? Is a peak at 57 years statistically significant over a 100 year analysis? Robert Livesay contends that the PDO signal is red noise…that is while we do see some oscillations in the signal over the last 100 years, it doesn’t mean that those oscillations will continue.
    Thoughts?
    I personally think that using statistical analysis is dangerous. One can “prove” whatever they want. The challenge with the PDO is to understand the physics behind it. The power analysis of the PDO and Allutian Low looked similar. Why? What is the physics behind it?

  13. Basil: Bravo! Great analysis. A few points before I read the Miller et al paper.
    I included the Newman et al paper in my post because it contradicted popular beliefs. I noted this in a comment early in the thread.
    I also included graphs of the PDO compared to North Pacific SST anomalies, to detrended SST anomalies for the North Pacific, etc. The one that most people missed was the one in which I subtracted Global Temperature anomalies from the North Pacific SST anomalies, a residual of sorts. It’s Figure 5 in that post:
    http://i42.tinypic.com/345kgsk.jpg
    Link to my copy of the post is here. The graphs are clearer:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/04/misunderstandings-about-pdo-revised.html
    Note how that “residual” opposes the PDO. This means, when the PDO is positive, the North Pacific SST anomalies are less than the global temperature anomalies, which, in turn, means that the North Pacific is subtracting from the global dataset, or cooling, not heating. And if the PDO is negative, the SST anomalies for that region are above global temperature anomalies, so the North Pacific is adding to the global temperature anomaly during those periods.
    Why then do global temperatures tend to rise when the PDO is positive, if it’s not caused by the SST anomalies of the North Pacific? The SST anomalies of the Tropical Pacific are in synch with the PDO. Refer to Figure 9 in that post.
    http://i41.tinypic.com/n14010.jpg
    And what dictates SST anomalies in the Tropical Pacific? ENSO, not the PDO.
    Recall that in the other paper I linked (the paper that first calculated the PDO), Zhang et al noted that the PDO lagged ENSO by a season (3 to 4 months). It’s tough for the PDO to control ENSO if ENSO preceeds it.
    Link to the Zhang et al paper:
    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~david/zwb1997.pdf
    Regards

  14. OT: EPA Chief: CO2 Danger Finding May Not ‘Mean Regulation’
    By IAN TALLEY
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124214922088511421.html
    WASHINGTON — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday a finding that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are a public-health danger won’t necessarily lead to government regulation of emissions, an apparent about-face for the Obama administration.
    The new position follows revelation of a White House document that warns the EPA of the wide-ranging — and potentially economically harmful — consequences of an agency finding last month that proposes declaring greenhouse gases are a danger to the public.
    Resources
    * Read the EPA’s proposed endangerment finding for greenhouse gases.
    The White House memo also undermines the EPA’s reasoning for the “endangerment” proposal.
    EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has previously said such a decision “will indeed trigger the beginning of regulation of CO2.”
    But speaking before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Ms. Jackson said Tuesday that an endangerment finding, “does not mean regulation.”
    An EPA spokeswoman wasn’t immediately able to explain the apparent change of policy position.
    Pressed by Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) about the interagency memo sent by the Office of Management and Budget to the EPA before the agency published its proposed endangerment finding, Ms. Jackson said she disagreed with several of the document’s characterizations
    She added, however, “We do understand that there are costs to the economy of addressing global warming.”
    She reiterated the administration belief that “the best way to address that is through a gradual move to a market-based program such as a cap-and-trade program.”
    The OMB memo warns the EPA, “Making the decision to regulate CO2 under the [Clean Air Act] for the first time is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small businesses and small communities.”
    The White House legal brief starts by questioning the link between the EPA’s scientific argument for endangerment and its political summary.
    Ms. Jackson said in the political summary that “scientific findings in totality point to compelling evidence of human-induced climate change, and that serious risks and potential impacts to public health and welfare have been clearly identified.”
    But the OMB memo says the endangerment finding rests too heavily on the precautionary principle, which gives the government responsibility to act if it fears for the public’s health or welfare.
    “The amount of acknowledged lack of understanding about the basic facts surrounding [greenhouse gases] seem to stretch the precautionary principle to providing regulation in the face of unprecedented uncertainty,” the memo reads.
    The OMB document also warns of a cascade of unintended regulatory consequences, advice the Department of Interior may have used last week in its decision not to revoke a Bush administration rule that prevents using the Endangered Species Act to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from facilities such as power plants and refineries.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124214922088511421.html

  15. Mike Lorrey (10:52:26) :
    Until and unless someone puts together a truly massive supercomputer that can simulate the entire planets
    ….Or perhaps the best computer ever made: A humble human brain
    Of course of an special kind, not those “models” that get entangled and lost in details.

  16. Nice work Basil. Having a competent statistician who writes well and lucidly address a subject of interest and concomitant difficulty is rather like mexican chocolate ice cream, a surprising delight.

  17. I’m not a big fan of smoothing functions. I think one can smooth data into all kinds of correlations that aren’t really there.
    In this case, however, and in minimizing the overall smoothing required, there does seem to be some kind of direct relationship.
    First, I just want to show the raw data so that one can see why too much smoothing might lead one astray.
    Here is the actual PDO index (quite different than the charts you might have seen on the internet).
    http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/8917/pdoindex.png
    Here is the actual NPI Index from the link above. There is a great deal of seasonality in this index that might lead one to just give up on it.
    http://img58.imageshack.us/img58/2326/npiindex.png
    But if you take out the seasonality and rescale the NPI to the same base as the PDO and then inverse it, one can see there is definitely a correlation (although it might be hard to tell which one is leading and which one is lagging).
    http://img58.imageshack.us/img58/3038/npipdo.png
    Next one has to describe a physical reason for the NPI to be a driver of the PDO.
    There is this great animation of clouds over one year which provides a real model of how the climate actually works. The Equator runs the climate and I don’t see a consistent Aleutian Low or an NPI in this animation.
    https://www.ucar.edu/publications/nsf_review/animations/ccm3.512×256.mpg

  18. Basil 10:14:22
    Owen Hughes 10:56:09
    I don’t think we are far apart at all. As Mike Lorrey suggests above the whole system is a mass of linked variables that are each in constant change.
    I take the view that at it’s simplest we are dealing with a net one way flow of energy from sun to sea to air to space.
    At the same time we see that the air has it’s own internal circulation patterns.
    I propose that the oceans have similar internal circulation patterns, probably involving the Thermohaline and that although the two sets of patterns interact there is nevertheless a stronger degree of independence in the ocean patterns because of the density, volume and thermal inertia of the oceans.
    Referring back to the one way flow I propose that the variations in solar input to the oceans affect the heat content of the oceans on century time scales. That the ocean circulations switch phase on multidecadal timescales independently of the influence of the air. That the air circulations vary constantly in their effort to maintain sea surface/ surface air temperature equilibrium.
    Overall the weather systems move poleward when the oceans are net emitters of energy and move equatorward when the oceans are net absorbers of energy.
    The air circulation affects short term ocean phenomena such as ENSO but the global net background ocean phase changes determine whether the air is cooling or warming at any given moment and I think those phase changes occur independently of influences in the air.
    I arrive at these opinions by weighing the timing of the events we have observed and the relative scales of the various components of the system together with the requirement that the net energy flow be one way.
    The key observation for me was noting the poleward shift in the weather systems in the 70’s and the shift back equatorward around 2000.
    That shift followed the SST changes on both occasions. That shift must have a function and I believe it to be varying the rate of energy flow from surface to space in order to maintain sea surface and surface air temperature equilibrium.
    If the rate of energy flow from surface to space is changed in order to deal with variations in energy flow from the oceans then it is likely that the same mechanism could deal with extra energy in the air from increased CO2 or indeed water vapour.
    The changes in the latitudinal position of the main weather systems could well be the mechanism that AGW proponents were unable to find as a means of neutralising extra energy in the air from more CO2. It works well enough when overall humidity changes as a result of ocean surface warming so it should be easily able to deal with our puny influence.

  19. Basil: The link you give:
    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/images/elnino/jetstream.gif
    took me to Peter Taylors’:
    the Maunder Minimum (a low point in the long term solar magnetic cycle) is associated both with the Little Ice Age, and with a southerly shift of the jet-stream
    And :
    solar activity and its effects on tropospheric climate. Reiter (1983) has launched series of radiosonde flights immediately after energetic solar flares. These observations revealed lowering of the tropopause, intrusion of warm
    stratospheric air from higher levels, formation of a sharply defined secondary ozone maximum immediately above the tropopause, perforation of the tropopause, emergence of jet streams, and change from zonal to meridional circulation

    Theodor Landscheidt:Predictable Cycles in Geomagnetic Activity and Ozone Levels

  20. John F. Hultquist (09:53:32)
    “My thought is we are accustomed to thinking of things as being independent or dependent variables – “ENSO drives PDO, and the like” – while, in fact, nature is more complex, with lots of co-dependencies. Sort of like a spider’s web – tweak it on any line, node, or connection and the whole thing responds”
    I agree with you. There is a tendency to try to find short cuts to answers. But it doesn’t work that way.
    I like this viewpoint of Richard Feynman :

  21. Adam perhaps instead of clouds a more immediate driver would be the difference in albedo from ice and snow. A cool PDO has warm SSTs in the western Pacific and a warm one has the warm SSTs in the eastern Pacific. With predominant easterly winds, during the cool phase warm waters heat the air which then blow across open ocean having little effect and during the warm phase the water warms air which then blows across N. America reducing the amount of ice and snow cover thereby reducing albedo.

  22. Basil: I haven’t been ignoring your post. I believe I must have I forgotten to press “Submit Comment” with my first comment before I closed the window. Or with the links, it’s awaiting moderation. Either way, I’ll try again.
    #####
    Bravo! I enjoyed the post, but let me clear up a few points.
    In one of my early comments on the “Misunderstandings About The Pacific Decadal Oscillation” thread, I noted that I included the Newman et al paper because it was controversial. I, however, also included numerous graphs of the PDO compared to the SST anomalies of the North Pacific (North of 20N), compared to detrended SST anomalies of the North Pacific, etc. Here’s a link to my copy of the “Misunderstandings” post, with the larger illustrations for the far-sighted (like me):
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/04/misunderstandings-about-pdo-revised.html
    One illustration that many people missed was Figure 5, in which I subtracted global temperature anomalies from SST anomalies of the North Pacific, North of 20N (the area of the PDO), creating a “Residual” of sorts:
    http://i42.tinypic.com/345kgsk.jpg
    Note how the two datasets opposed one another from the 1940s to ~1976. During that period, the PDO was in the Cool Phase, and according to popular beliefs, the PDO should have been causing global temperatures to decline. Note, however, that the SST residuals were positive. This means that North Pacific SST anomalies were higher than Global temperature anomalies, and the North Pacific was actually contributing positive anomalies during that period. In other words, it was warming, not cooling. So that North Pacific SST anomalies actually opposed the global cooling during that period. They did not contribute or drive.
    So why would global temperatures decline during that period? The Tropical Pacific SST anomalies are in “phase” with the PDO, as shown in my Figure 9 of that post:
    http://i41.tinypic.com/n14010.jpg
    And what dominates SST anomalies of the Tropical Pacific? ENSO.
    Again, ENSO drives global temperature, not the PDO. It expresses the PATTERN of SST Variability of the North Pacific, nothing more.

  23. Bill Illis (11:56:03) : “There is this great animation of clouds over one year which provides a real model of how the climate actually works. The Equator runs the climate and I don’t see a consistent Aleutian Low or an NPI in this animation.”
    First, good links. I appreciate the info. The animation is helpful but is the issue of the Aleutian Low, as being discussed, not a multi-year phenomenon rather than something over the course of one year? The paragraphs after the three charts at the top seem to suggest so.
    And in your statement I’ve quoted: “The Equator Runs the climate …”
    Although I would substitute the “Intertropical Convergence Zone” (ITCZ) for Equator, I basically agree. The vertical Sun, and thus solar intensity, shifts over six months but sort of hangs at the solstices (“sun stands still’) while passing the Equator more rapidly. When over each Tropic, in turn, there is tremendous energy input in a 10 to 15 degrees of latitude band. There is more ocean area involved when the vertical sun is over the Tropic of Capricorn and there is a lag between energy input and the atmospheric movements. The areal extent of the combined ITCZ and the Trade Winds, and the oceans over which these processes occur, is much greater than for the other – extra tropical – lows and highs and so on. As an analogy, take a bucket of water out of a large swimming pool. Both will have the same temperature but the pool will have more heat (aka energy).
    I also do not see much emphasis on the rotational aspect of Earth and the three dimensional shape of ocean basins applied to these problems. Recall the song “when you are spinning around, things come undone.”
    Adam Gallon (11:06:42) : “Add in a contribution from our CO2 output and we’re nearly there?”
    We don’t need no stinking “contribution from our CO2 output” – it is more or less miniscule and just clutters up the conversation.

  24. Basil: You wrote, “Bob’s point was that ‘global warming’ cannot be attributed to the PDO. And depending on what one means by ‘global warming,’ he is no doubt correct. That is, if by ‘global warming’ we are speaking of the long rise in global temperatures since the earth came out of the ‘Little Ice Age,’ then certainly, the PDO cannot likely account for that.”
    You missed my point. My point was the PDO reflects a pattern of SST variability in a specific part of the North Pacific. Nothing more. During positive phases of the PDO, SST anomalies in the extreme eastern North Pacific (North of 20N) tend to be positive, and the SST anomalies in the central and western North Pacific (North of 20N) tend to be negative. The reverse is true during the negative PDO phases.
    Granted, the tendency of the SST anomalies in the eastern part of the North Pacific, being in phase with the PDO, will impact land surface temperatures in the Pacific Northwest. That is, a positive PDO would correlate with a tendency toward a positive LST anomaly in the Pacific Northwest. But the SST anomalies in the western part of the North Pacific also have an impact the land surface temperatures–in eastern Asia. Since the SST anomalies in that part of the North Pacific oppose the PDO, the impact is of the opposite sign.
    You went on to illustrate the correlation between the PDO, NINO3.4 SST anomalies, and the inverted NPI.
    Then you wrote, without showing cause and effect, “In other words, even if the PDO is not itself, over a complete cycle, contributing to ‘global warming,’ trends calculated this way will be biased upwards because of the transient impact of decadal and bidecadal influences of the PDO on global temperature.”
    Basil, through what physical processes does the PDO, IN AND OF ITSELF, have transient impacts on global temperatures????

  25. Bob,
    I think you have accepted elsewhere that during a positive PDO the El Nino is enhanced and La Nina is suppressed. Vice versa during a negative PDO.
    Can you indicate how you think the ENSO process might give rise to approximately 30 year phase shifts between positive and negative PDO phases ?

  26. Mike Lorrey (10:52:26) – that comment is an excellent summation of the situation.
    In reading this and Bob Tisdale’s previous post ( http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/28/misunderstandings-about-the-pacific-decadal-oscillation/ ) — both very excellent discussions — this whole discussion of PDO & ENSO (and not to make light of it), I am reminded of mankind’s eternal conundrum — which came first, the chicken or the egg?
    We can use statistics to discern patterns as we’ve seen above, but we seem to be at the stage of only discerning symptoms. We’ve still a long way to go. It’s no wonder then that politicians have grabbed hold of the CO2 cause – it’s so simple and easy to understand – no real thought is necessary – which, maybe, is why politicians did grab hold of it. (Shhh – be nice now.)

  27. John F. Hultquist (09:14:20) :
    Note: Under the three charts find Nino 3.1 and not 3.4
    Power Spectrum: Nino 3.1, PDO, and NPI

    The 3.1 is a typo; should be 3.4.
    Northern Plains Reader (11:21:51) :
    By Robert Livesay, do you mean “Livezey?” I’m aware of Livezey’s position on this. The question of whether the PDO can be reduced simply to red noise is addressed in Radionov (2006):
    http://www.beringclimate.noaa.gov/regimes/Prewhitening2006GL025904.pdf
    Bottom line quote:
    Hence, it is unlikely that these regime shifts are
    just manifestations of a red noise process. The red noise
    component (Figure 4c), which is represented here by the
    difference in the PDO series before and after the prewhitening,
    accounts for about 25% of the total variance in PDO.

    For those less familiar with the background here, there are some (like Livezey) who challenge the notion of “regime shift.” The “red noise” argument would reduce the PDO to a random walk. It would then become meaningless to speak of phases of the PDO, or shifts between one or the other being characteristic of the PDO for long periods at a time. It is, I think, a minority view, not one widely held.
    On the paleoclimate record, McDonald & Case (2005):
    http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/geog/downloads/634/260.pdf
    and a quote:
    Second, the 50 to 70 year mode of PDO variability
    inferred from instrumental observations of SST’s has been
    generally persistent and significant over the past 200 years
    and intermittently significant prior to that.

    They do conclude that the paleo evidence is uncertain, and the mode unstable. A change in mode or phase is like pornography — we may not be able to predict it, but we know it when we see it.

  28. Thanks to all. This is like sitting-in on a serious postt-grad seminar. Again, as an amateur, I look for the gorilla in the room: who has the big Joules here? The Sun of course, but then the ocean. And from there back into the air, thence to space. Stephen Wilde improves on the point I wanted to make. ..The other point I would make (not original with me) is geometry. As noted above by Illis (11:56:03) and Hultquist (14:56:16) the Equator (or equatorial region) is the big dog here. Imagine a map of the energy flux of sunlight onto surface area over time. It would be like that crazy homunculus from Psych 101, with a gigantic component from Lat 23 N to 23 S and a much lesser contribution from 23 to 67, and almost bupkis from there to the poles. So the power to drive the system, the engine room, is the tropics. And all this yammer about changing albedo at the poles just leaves me –cold.
    Loving this conversation.

  29. If there is a PDO teleconnection I would think it may involve mechanisms in the Indian Ocean and some sort of harmonic of the MJO.

  30. Bill Illis, (11:56:03)
    I just cannot get over the beauty of that animation.
    It seems like Africa and the Amazon have a beating heart within them as the clouds change from white/blue to orange. In the Amazon basin the clouds are trapped against the Andes so they stay to make Brazil so productive.
    The clouds regularly wash over the USA and Europe and then let the crops dry off for harvest.
    In Australia the clouds seem to be avoiding the continent except for the last three months of the year, while New Zealand is regularly covered and revealed by bands of clouds.
    With more observations, a meteorologist could see and understand so much more. I imagine how wonderful our understanding of the earth could be if the billions upon billions had been spent on observations like this. Can you imagine a database that contained animations of every part of earth science that has been studied? Can you imagine if these animations could be layered at the viewer’s whim and run forward or backward through a decade? Temperatures, winds, currents, sea ice, snow accumulations, clouds, tides and anything else that would aid understanding? Can you imagine looking to the earth for answers instead of to a computer projection?
    When such a tool is available for twenty years or so perhaps it might be time to try to project the earth’s climate out to about three weeks and see how it goes. Until then let’s just look at the real numbers.

  31. Thanks to Basil Copeland for a post that adds to our knowledge of the PDO. Two aspects in particular were helpful to me as someone interested in what happens in California and Japan: 1) The Aleutian Low and 2) Rossby Waves. Bob Tisdale’s article convinced me that the PDO is not a driver of anything, but an indicator (for me) of regime changes on a multidecadal basis in the Northern Pacific, which also seems to be an indicator of many other changes to global climate. It is an “index” that seems very important to pay attention to. Its discovery, as I undertand it, came from trying to find out what happened to salmon runs.
    I am not able to understand a great deal of Dr. Copeland’s post, but I would be interested in feedback on the following. The first part connects Rossby Waves to ENSO.
    Oceanic midlatitude Rossby Waves from my reading are mechanisms that carry El Nino signals to the opposite coast. “ENSO-induced perturbations in the tropics [can] propagate poleward along the ocean’s eastern boundaries as coastal trapped waves. These waves tend to evolve into Rossby waves and transmit the effects of ENSO into mid-latitude oceanic interiors.” (Siedler ea) There is another atmospheric Rossby wave from the Indo-Australian Convergence Zone that moves into the Central Pacific. A wave train is set off in the upper tropics, arcing poleward and eastward. This leads to enhancement and southward movement of the Aleutian Low.” (Oliver) Are either of these important for changes that lead to the PDO?

  32. Steven Wilde: You wrote, “I think you have accepted elsewhere that during a positive PDO the El Nino is enhanced and La Nina is suppressed. Vice versa during a negative PDO.”
    Actually, you wrote something to that effect in the “Misunderstandings About The Pacific Decadal Oscillation” thread. Refer to your 12:31:32 comment on 4/28. If I wrote it elsewhere, I don’t recall it. I’d like to illustrate the effect in a future post, though, if it’s there.
    You asked, “Can you indicate how you think the ENSO process might give rise to approximately 30 year phase shifts between positive and negative PDO phases ?”
    There’s lots of debate about what causes the phase shifts, as can well be seen, and as you’re aware, the phase shifts in the PDO and ENSO and NPI all appear to happen around the same time, as Basil illustrated above. Do they result from an atmospheric bridge from the North Atlantic? Do the shifts result from variability in the subsurface South Pacific as suggested by Bratcher and Giese? Does the Southern Ocean play a role?

  33. I am interested in discussing the pros and cons of the negative PDO causing loopyness in the jet stream that affects weather around the globe as the jet stream circles the NH in its northern track. The reverse is also of interest. With the jet stream in its more southerly track with a positive PDO, the loopyness disappears and the jet stream is in a more linear track around the globe with fewer breaks and weather extremes. This may have more to do with the strength of the trade winds, which affects PDO, which affects the jet stream.

  34. Bill Illis (11:56:03) :
    Next one has to describe a physical reason for the NPI to be a driver of the PDO.
    There is this great animation of clouds over one year which provides a real model of how the climate actually works. The Equator runs the climate and I don’t see a consistent Aleutian Low or an NPI in this animation.
    https://www.ucar.edu/publications/nsf_review/animations/ccm3.512×256.mpg

    We need to revisit some basic climatology here. [In this, I’m somewhat touching on what John F. Hultquist (14:56:16) : posted about the ICTZ; there is more to climate than the ITCZ.] The equator does not run the climate entirely. There are other climate forces beyond Hadley cells. In this discussion, the presence and positions of the northern continents and the polar cells lead to permanent lows and highs — the Aleutian and Icelandic lows, and the Siberian high. If those are not shown in your animation, then your animation is not a realistic depiction of global climate. So a physical reason for the NPI to drive the PDO — in part — exists. Though it is probably a misnomer to say the NPI is “driving” the PDO. They are just two representations of the same underlying physical subsystems.
    For a physical mechanism, it is already there in Miller et al. For another explanation, here is Zhang and Delworth (2007):
    The PDO consists of both the projection of ENSO
    onto the North Pacific as well as North Pacific variability
    that is independent from ENSO
    [emphasis supplied.]
    In this paper, we focus on the latter part.
    ….
    The modeling results suggest that the
    AMO can contribute to the component of the PDO that is
    linearly independent of ENSO, i.e. the NPMO, and the
    associated PNA pattern.
    [9] How does the North Atlantic-North Pacific teleconnection
    occur and what affects the time lag between the PDO
    and the AMO? Here we propose a mechanism (Figure 3) for
    the influence of the AMO on the North Pacific multidecadal
    variability:
    [10] 1. During the positive (negative) AMO phase, the
    warm (cold) North Atlantic SST anomaly leads to reduced
    (enhanced) surface DJF northward atmospheric eddy heat
    transport and upper level DJF eddy vorticity flux over both
    the North Atlantic and the North Pacific mid-latitudes
    (Supplementary Figure 6), in response to the enhanced
    northward oceanic heat transport. This weakening (strengthening)
    of the mid-latitude winter storm track results in a
    poleward (equatorward) shift of the westerly wind, and thus
    the weakening (strengthening) of the Aleutian Low, i.e. high
    (low) SLP anomaly and positive (negative) PNA pattern
    over the North Pacific.
    [11] 2. The negative (positive) wind stress curl anomaly
    associated with the high (low) SLP anomaly over the North
    Pacific leads to an anomalous anticyclonic (cyclonic) midlatitude
    gyre circulation (Supplementary Figure 7), and thus
    a northward (southward) shift of the Kuroshio Current and
    warm (cold) SST anomaly in the central and western North
    Pacific, especially near the Kuroshio/Oyashio Extension
    (KOE) region.
    …..
    [12] 3. The atmospheric response to the warm (cold) SST
    anomaly in the KOE region leads to even stronger weakening
    (strengthening) of the Aleutian Low, i.e. amplified
    high (low) SLP anomaly and positive (negative) PNA
    pattern over the North Pacific. Hence the North Pacific
    air-sea interaction provides a positive feedback and the
    excited North Pacific multidecadal mode can persist.

    Source: http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/roz0704.pdf
    Let me pick up and address Bob here:
    Bob Tisdale (15:24:27) :
    Then you wrote, without showing cause and effect, “In other words, even if the PDO is not itself, over a complete cycle, contributing to ‘global warming,’ trends calculated this way will be biased upwards because of the transient impact of decadal and bidecadal influences of the PDO on global temperature.”
    Basil, through what physical processes does the PDO, IN AND OF ITSELF, have transient impacts on global temperatures????
    and
    Bob Tisdale (13:59:24) :
    And what dominates SST anomalies of the Tropical Pacific? ENSO.
    Again, ENSO drives global temperature, not the PDO. It expresses the PATTERN of SST Variability of the North Pacific, nothing more.

    I wouldn’t disagree with the PDO being a “pattern” of variability, of something. I do disagree that it is all ENSO. Whatever the PDO is picking up, it is more than just a pattern of SST variability caused entirely by ENSO. If that’s your point, then we’ll have to agree to disagree. As to whether it is just SST, it is actually as much SLP as SST (which are just two sides of a coin). But again, the issue is not what it is as much as what causes it, and whether ENSO can explain the multidecadal periodicity of the PDO. There is no agreement that ENSO can explain the intradecadal variability, and maybe even decadal variability. But there is something more. Please, read Miller et al., and Zhang and Delworth. Don’t put all your PDO eggs in one basket (ENSO). 🙂
    Incidentally, while I will be the last person to fail to express appreciation for the role of oceanic processes on global climate, of the energy received in the tropics, and redistributed over the globe, 50% more is redistributed by atmospheric circulation than by oceanic currents. So we need to broaden our horizons here, and not focus strictly on SST’s. Secular patterns in atmospheric circulation, oscillating between periods when zonal circulation dominates, and periods when meridional circulation dominates, have a lot to do with natural climate variability also. It is just not all about ENSO.
    -Basil

  35. I agree Basil. It isn’t all about SST’s. But I think the jet stream behavior is mostly influenced by what the oceans are doing. Once it hits land masses, it develops a life of its own. But I think that life can be characterized and modeled. If I had the computer chops to do it, I would be measuring jet stream behavior (literally, physical measurements of loops and digs (or lack thereof) along with pressure gradients and weather fronts) compared to PDO characteristics over several decades and see what we get in terms of temperature trends in the NH. Then I would do the same examination of the jet stream that surrounds the South Pole.

  36. Bill Illis (11:56:03) :
    I wonder why you have never done a guest post here?

  37. Just Want Truth… (18:57:35) :
    Bill Illis (11:56:03) :
    I think I better clarify : It seems I learn as much or more from your comments than some of the posts here. So I am wondering why you haven’t had an interesting guest post?

  38. Interesting thought from John Christy :
    “There are some of us who remain so humbled by the task of measuring and understanding the extraordinarily complex climate system that we are skeptical of our ability to know what it is doing and why. As we build climate data sets from scratch and look into the guts of the climate system, however, we don’t find the alarmist theory matching observations.”
    -John Christy
    Director, Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama (UAH)

  39. Fascinating. Thanks. And the comments are wonderfully informative.
    The jet stream has been loopy of late and WA is getting daytime temps 10 to 15 degrees cooler than “normal”, but the nights are about “normal.” Snow on the passes again today and tonight.
    How much data does it take to be meaningful? It just seems to me that a couple hundred years of data is simply not enough observations to document the complete cycle. Yep, the sun looks to be in a minima, that helps. The glacial cycle seems to be more in the 25,000 to 50,000 year range. Is there a role for geomagnetism, and have we only observed it in a declining state? What other cycles are there?
    I don’t mean to belittle any work done to date, but rather merely ask what is the likelihood that we have enough data to make comprehensive predictions or attribute causes and depict relationships with a high degree of certitude.

  40. I’m only going for the lifetime of a tax cap and trade scheme based on a poorly thought-out and studied cause and affect relationship. I will leave the next hundred years to someone else. There is enough data for the next 30 years. After that, I will be in my doddering and drooling on my bib.

  41. Pamela Gray (18:50:19) :
    I agree Basil. It isn’t all about SST’s. But I think the jet stream behavior is mostly influenced by what the oceans are doing. Once it hits land masses, it develops a life of its own.

    Pamela,
    Earlier you mentioned the “loopiness” of the jet stream when the PDO is negative. I’m just a curious observer — I switched from physical geology/geology/geophysics to economics (environmental/resource economics) many years ago, so my climatology is rusty…but wouldn’t this be explained by the relative strength or weakness of the Aleutian Low? At least in North America.
    The loopiness gives rise to (or is an expression of) times when winds are more meridional than zonal. There seem to be long epochs in which one or the other dominate. But why?
    Any thoughts?
    Basil

  42. For some reason this all reminds me of a bunch of folks analyzing a violin.
    One says “Look! The bridge modulates the body!”
    Another says “But the area near the chin piece starts vibrating after the main body, the main body is the important driver.”
    Yet a third says it’s the air in the body that drives the vibration and a fourth assures us all that the strings are where the energy comes from for all the rest and the air is just too thin…
    And I’m just left wondering: What about the bow, and where is the musician that moves it…
    Yes, complex systems can “ring” for a long time; but somewhere and at some time there is a modulating, driving, energy input that sets the whole thing ringing…
    http://www.lavoisier.com.au/articles/greenhouse-science/solar-cycles/IanwilsonForum2008.pdf
    So my take on it all is that we have this giant instrument, with resonant frequencies from 90 to 30 to 10 to ?? years based on small changes and with some resonances at 100,000 year intervals based on orbital mechanics (and potentially mid length cycles such as the 1500 year cycle); and we are surprised that the “sound” it makes in air pressures and movements is rich, deep, resonant and complex.
    I’m reminded of the way a cymbal does the crash and ring with deep rich frequencies, some measured in whole seconds, others in milliseconds. They must be made just a bit non-symmetrical and with a non-smooth finish to get that effect. Our planet is very non-smooth and non-symmetrical leading me to expect many non-linear, complex and rich oscillations.
    But where is the drumstick and the drummer?
    If not orbital mechanics and not the sun, then what and where? The earths tilt? The daily spin? Precession and wobble? Can we reasonably expect to identify it from hearing the cymbal crash? Or hearing the brush slowly dragged across it?
    One is left to wonder…

  43. Basil: Regarding your 18:34:50 comment, I have no doubt that the PDO is a response to coupled Ocean-Atmosphere processes, just like ENSO is a response to coupled Ocean-Atmosphere processes. And I thank you for pointing to the NPI as an indicator of the atmospheric variability.
    You wrote, “…of the energy received in the tropics, and redistributed over the globe, 50% more is redistributed by atmospheric circulation than by oceanic currents.”
    Please explain where the 50% came from.

  44. Bob Tisdale : “But the SST anomalies in the western part of the North Pacific also have an impact the land surface temperatures–in eastern Asia. ”
    Bob please excuse what is probably a stupid question from a non scientist, but if the winds are predominantly heading east then what is the mechanism for the heat tranfer to the Asian continent and why would you suspect that the amount of heat tranfer would be comparable to that which one would expect to see in N. America where the heat is following the predominent wind patterns?

  45. I wonder whether the conundrum of the behaviour of the PDO relates to the waxing and waning of several different influences on higher latitude temperature.
    There is firstly the transport of energy from the tropics by the sea. ENSO rules here.
    There is also the transport of moist warm air and the release of latent heat via condensation, sometimes quite closes to the surface. It changes air temperature in a transient fashion according to the passage of air masses and must influence sea surface temperature to some degree.
    But there is also an influence via the stratosphere and the Brewer Dobson circulation. Antarctic sea surface temperature has cooled in summer over the last thirty years. In my view the summer cooling is due to enhanced convection in the tropics. It is very episodic and temperature is very clearly anti-correlated. Antarctic winter sea surface temperature has not advanced at quite the rate that is seen in the Arctic. The gradual cooling of the tropics since about 1995 has promoted Arctic warming via a weakening of the Brewer Dobson circulation. The PDO probably reflects these competing influences.

  46. Just Want Truth… (19:18:40) :
    I wouldn’t disagree at all with the Cristy quote you posted.
    Terry Jackson (19:51:49) :
    “I don’t mean to belittle any work done to date, but rather merely ask what is the likelihood that we have enough data to make comprehensive predictions or attribute causes and depict relationships with a high degree of certitude.”
    This seems rather in the same vein of the Cristy quote, and I completely agree. For all we know about climate processes, climate is so complex, and our knowledge so limited, that we lack the ability “to make comprehensive predictions or attribute causes and depict relationships with a high degree of certitude.” But that, of course, is what the IPCC does. And it makes a mockery of standard scientific terminology about uncertainty by toning it down to where findings that would not be accepted as anything more than a lucky guess are labeled “likely” and results that would in many disciplines not be considered worthy of publication are considered “very likely.”
    E.M.Smith (21:49:05)
    Your analogy to the resonance of a violin is also in the same vein. If anything, that’s what I’m saying about the PDO, that understanding it is not as simple as attributing it entirely to ENSO.
    Bob Tisdale (04:19:31) :
    The 50% comes from the claim that of the energy received from the sun in the tropics, and transported poleward, 60% is transported by atmospheric circulation (think Hadley and Ferrell cells), and 40% by ocean currents. (60/40 = 1.50.) Given how slow ocean currents move, I’m surprised that it is as much as 40%. Keep in mind that SST’s are not necessarily indicative of ocean currents. At the equator, all that moist marine air is rising, and falling back poleward toward the midlatitudes, i.e. giving rise to atmospheric circulation. That’s how the bulk (60%) of the energy is being transported poleward, not in ocean currents (40%). I don’t have a link handy for the 60/40 number. I’ll check when I get to school and let you know where I got it.
    Basil

  47. The newest Ocean SST map shows the La Nina conditions have gone away and we are in slightly positive ENSO conditions.
    Also interesting is that the negative PDO seems to be moving back to neutral right now. The cool SST conditions off of Alaska (which has been there for 3 years now) looks to be moderating as well.
    http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/data/anomnight.5.11.2009.gif
    From my perspective, the other interesting feature is how the recent La Ninas have loaded up cool SSTs in the Pacific off south-east Asia which will soon move into the Kuroshio currrent which will then flow across the north Pacific.
    The upper ocean heat content is signaling we are going to move rapidly into El Nino conditions although most forecasts are calling for neutral conditions.
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/anim/wkxzteq_anm.gif
    Atmospheric Angular Momentum has really turned negative recently (signaling La Nina), the Trade Winds have fallen off to nothing (signaling El Nino).
    So overall, the north Pacific is offically schizophrenic right now.
    And Just Want The Truth, I’ve done three of them. I’ll do another when I find something interesting.

  48. Steve: As part of your question, you stated, “…but if the winds are predominantly heading east…”
    Therein lies the misunderstanding. In the Northern Pacific, North of 20N (the area being discussed in the PDO), when the PDO is in the cool phase, winds are predominantly heading west. Refer to the Windstress Anomaly patterns (arrows) on the first illustration, right-hand cell, on the JISAO PDO webpage:
    http://jisao.washington.edu/pdo/
    Let’s reinforce what I wrote about land surface temperatures with some graphs.
    The Eastern North Pacific SST anomalies (of the area included in the PDO) impact Western North America Land Surface Temperature anomalies:
    http://i41.tinypic.com/2ee8uj7.jpg
    BUT
    On the other side of the Pacific, the Western North Pacific SST anomalies have an impact on Eastern Asian Land Surface Temperatures, and here’s that graph.
    http://i42.tinypic.com/20ppslw.jpg
    Last, here’s a map of the areas included in those graphs.
    http://i43.tinypic.com/2w3z0o4.jpg
    Regards

  49. Basil: You wrote, “The 50% comes from the claim that of the energy received from the sun in the tropics, and transported poleward, 60% is transported by atmospheric circulation (think Hadley and Ferrell cells), and 40% by ocean currents.”
    Do you have a source for the 60% & 40% figures? Sorry about being a pest, but generic numbers without sources don’t sit well with me.

  50. Simple question. NPO has (overall) warm and cool phases. Yes, I know that each phase makes some areas cooler and others warmer. But the overall effect is cool or warm.
    So, which is Aleutian low phase, warm or cool?

  51. Bob thanks, obviously I was looking at wind patterns during a warming PDO and mistakenly believing them to stay consistant. It just goes to show a little information can be more dangerous then none at all.

  52. evanmjones (08:11:04) :
    Simple question. NPO has (overall) warm and cool phases. Yes, I know that each phase makes some areas cooler and others warmer. But the overall effect is cool or warm.
    So, which is Aleutian low phase, warm or cool?

    The Aleuetian Low is always a low pressure system. But sometimes it is weak, and at other times it is strong. A weak Aleutian Low coincides with a cool phase of the PDO, and a strong Aleutian Low with a warm phase.

  53. Anthony,
    My apologies — I just discovered that my comment above should have been addressed to Steve Goddard. By the way, I am in complete accord with Goddard;s observation about the “scientific” terms. The word “may” as used in newspaper accounts describing horrendous global warming that MAY occur drive me up the wall.

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