Bob Tisdale on NCDC's USCGRP report

The USGCRP Report “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States” Fails To Acknowledge the Multiyear Effects of ENSO on Global Temperature

Guest post by Bob Tisdale

The USGCRP report “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States” was released today. Link to report:

As noted in the title, it fails to address the multiyear effects of El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events on global temperature.

Other than explosive volcanic eruptions, El Nino-Southern Oscillation events have the greatest impacts on global climate on annual and multiyear bases. The year-to-year global temperature impacts of ENSO events are clearly visible in a comparative time-series graph, Figure 1. Also visible are the overriding effects of the 1982 El Chichon and 1991 Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruptions.

Figure 1

The multiyear impacts of the 1986/87/88 and 1997/98 El Nino events on Northern Hemisphere Lower Troposphere Temperature (TLT) are clearly visible in the TLT Time-Latitude Plot available from Remote Sensing Systems (RSS). Refer to Figure 2 and 3, which are from my post “RSS MSU TLT Time-Latitude Plots…Show Climate Responses That Cannot Be Easily Illustrated With Time-Series Graphs Alone.”

Figure 2


Figure 3

A seldom-discussed, naturally occurring oceanic process called Reemergence (Refer to my post “The Reemergence Mechanism”) provides the mechanism by which the global oceans integrate the effects of ENSO events. And it only takes the cumulative effect of a very small portion (0.0045 or less than ½ of 1%) of the monthly ENSO signal, as shown in Figure 4, to reproduce the Global Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomaly curve.

Figure 4


The USGCRP mentions “El Nino” nine times in the body of the 196-page report, but those references only pertain to global temperature on one occassion. The first reference, however, states that ENSO is independent of human activities.

On page 16, during a discussion Natural Influences, they wrote, “The climate changes that have occurred over the last century are not solely caused by the human and natural factors described above. In addition to these influences, there are also fluctuations in climate that occur even in the absence of changes in human activities, the Sun, or volcanoes. One example is the El Niño phenomenon, which has important influences on many aspects of regional and global climate.” [My emphasis.]

They acknowledged that ENSO is independent of anthropogenic influence. That’s significant.

On page 17, in the text of the comparative graph of “Global Temperature and Carbon Dioxide”, they wrote, “These year-to-year fluctuations in temperature are due to natural processes, such as the effects of El Niños, La Niñas, and the eruption of large volcanoes.” [My emphasis.]

Yet they fail to note the multiyear and cumulative effects of ENSO.

Page 36, during a discussion of Pacific Hurricanes, they write, “The total number of tropical storms and hurricanes in the eastern Pacific on seasonal to multi-decade time periods is generally opposite to that observed in the Atlantic. For example, during El Niño events it is common for hurricanes in the Atlantic to be suppressed while the eastern Pacific is more active. This reflects the large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns that extend across both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans.” [My emphasis.]

That quote is important in many contests. Much can be inferred from it. Yet they fail to acknowledge the multidecadal epochs when El Nino or La Nina are dominant. These epochs are visible in a time-series graph of smoothed NINO3.4 SST anomalies, Figure 5.

Figure 5

On page 38, under the heading of Snowstorms, they wrote, “The northward shift in storm tracks is reflected in regional changes in the frequency of snowstorms. The South and lower Midwest saw reduced snowstorm frequency during the last century. In contrast, the Northeast and upper Midwest saw increases in snowstorms, although considerable decade-to-decade variations were present in all regions, influenced, for example, by the frequency of El Niño events.” [My emphasis.]

And again, they infer multidecadal influences of ENSO, but the USGCRP have failed to account for it in their attribution of global temperature change.

There are further references of El Nino and La Nina events on pages 81, 147, 148, and 152, as they pertain to tuna stock, droughts, coral reefs, and coastal currents. No need to repeat those in this post.


Like the IPCC, the USGCRP either fails to accept the significant multiyear and cumulative impacts of ENSO on global temperatures or they chose to ignore them in their presentation of the causes of global temperature change.

Posted by Bob Tisdale at 8:42 PM


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Please don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is made up.


or they chose to ignore them in their presentation of the causes of global temperature change.
doesn’t fit the fantasy.


Bob, thank you, clear and concise as always.
The nino3.4 anomaly correlation to global SST is striking but the upward departures of Global SST seem to coincide with the progression of solar cycles.
Following Willis’ thermostat hypothesis’, I wonder if this could this be due to the cloud cover being suppressed in extra-tropical regions and so not reacting to extra heat input in the same way it does at the intertropical convergence zone.
That would seem to be a confirmation of the Shaviv solar amplification theory and the Svensmark GCR cloud seeding theory. The equatorial region is less affected by the cyclical fluctuation in GCR incidence which rises and falls with the solar cycle.
High solar activity – less GCR’s and cloud seeding in the extra-tropical regions, leading to increased surface reaching insolation at higher latitudes relative to the ITCZ.

Of course weather changes are taking place fast. Summer season is becoming longer in Lahore, Pakistan. Previously I lived in Tarbela Dam for 25 years. It was excellent weather having rains, sand free winds, greenery and tropical forests. Forests diminished gradually from there.


Do we know what causes ENSO?

Michael D Smith

From a comment I posted at CA:
I like this quote: \”Roughly one-half of the carbon dioxide released from fossil fuel burning remains in the atmosphere after 100 years, and roughly one-fifth of it remains after 1,000 years.90\” page 40…
Now from the slope of monthly Mauna Loa data, when the signal is maximum negative (usually in September), I show a slope of roughly -25ppm per year (for a short time). This means the sink outweighed the source by the maximum amount, and the system exchanges CO2 at an extremely high rate. It does this all the time, we are seeing a difference in source and sink as the maximum rates, but the exchange rate MUST always be very high, not just in September.
Point 1 is that such a half life is impossible while still showing a signal that sharp at Mauna Loa, otherwise it would be much more filtered. An older chart I made also shows how fast CO2 reacts to temperature, even when heavily smoothed, so I seriously doubt CO2 has a life of more than a few, single digit years at most.
Point 2: They claim a half life of 100 years from the first statement. I thought this was debunked years ago, but I\’ll work with it. Half life is described as AmountFuture=AmountPresent*e^-(tx) where t in this case is years and x must be 0.006931472. (same as -ln(.5)/100)
CO2(100)=CO2Now*e^-(100*.006931472), or 1 * e^-.6931472) = .5 in 100 years. Good.
CO2(1000)=CO2Now*e^-(1000*.006931472), or 1 * e^-6.931472) = 0.000976562, or 0.097%, NOT 20%. This also means one time constant is 144 years, and there are 6.93 time constants in 1000 years. 6.93 time constants will never yield 20% in a decaying process, it will always yield 0.097%.
Just one small example of politicians masquerading as scientists. Looking for other gross errors…

Of course weather changes are taking place fast. Summer season is becoming longer in Lahore, Pakistan. Previously I lived in Tarbela Dam for 25 years. It was excellent weather having rains, sand free winds, greenery and tropical forests. Forests diminished gradually from there.
BTW I love your blog!


On page 13 the report states \”Over the past 30 years, temperatures have risen faster in winter than in any other season, with average winter temperatures in the Midwest and northern Great Plains increasing more than 7ºF. \”
I am sure they came up with that some place. But, I go to US Historical Climate Network.
and randomly picked three midwest cities and NOTHING that is out of the ordinary comparing the last 30 years to the 1930\’s and 1940\’s.

No Copenhagen-aztec sacrifices

Dear friends,
what will warmists do when farmers or anyone else SUE them for deception, COLD weather unsuspecting victims, poverty due to warming taxes, money waste and so on?


Talking of Climate Change impacts, \”Organisers of the London Olympics have begun advertising for meteorologists to predict weather patterns in 2012. \” in the UK Telegraph.
Anyone care to have a go? My guess is it will be \’unpredictable\’. Do I get the job?

Gary Pearse

“the cumulative effect of a very small portion (0.0045 or less than ½ of 1%) of the monthly ENSO signal, as shown in Figure 4, to reproduce the Global Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomaly curve.”
Is the 0.0045 figure a best fit value or from some other basis? Are the “graphs” showing northward dissipation qualitative or quantitative? If the latter, there may be a basis for calculating the rough volume and heat content of El Nino/La Nina events. If this volume and heat content is already known then the effect on average SST should be calculable. Another thing: these ocean heating/cooling events are almost universally acknowledged to be of major importance in earth weather and climate (I’m not a meteorologist but everything I’ve read seems to acknowledge this). What causes them seems to be a mystery and to me heavy lifting on this subject should be big priority. In an earlier post I supplied a possible source – not from without but from within. The geothermal heat gradient has been looked at and discarded as being to weak and it would appear to be so on average (0.075watts/mE2). But guess where the the highest flux has been determined – the east central Pacific where it is 5 times as high. See the link below and scroll down a few clicks to the heat flow map.
Now imagine the currents from the NH and SH converging along the equator and gathering this into an east-west axis along the equator. Also consider multiyear cumulative heating of the seawater 3-5 years at the seafloor before it rises up to form an El Nino event. This would be 0.35w/mE2 day and night (x2 for day and night)(x4years, say) accumulates to about 3w/mE2. Now gather it up with the currents to a narrow zone…

Gary Pearse

I think this may make an interesting post if someone had the time to flesh it out.

Mark Wagner

Those TLT Time Latitude plots are a very good visual tool for describing what occurs.
And very telling.
And pretty cool, too. But I digress…
Do we know what drives the ENSO oscillation? Is it just unknown? Or maybe sea monkeys doing the backstroke? Didn’t someone connect it to solar changes driving tropical cloud cover?

Michael D Smith

Anthony, how about a new topic to discuss the USGRP report, called “what’s wrong with this report?”
1) Report Claim (reference):
2) Counter Claim:
3) Reference from literature supporting counter claim:
No other commentary allowed (except referring to other counter claims), simple point by point debunking…
REPLY: Maybe, do you think there will be enough material? 😉 – Anthony

VinceW: You asked, “Do we know what causes ENSO?”
Refer to Bill Kessler’s Q&A page:
And David Enfield’s:

Texas Aggie

Amazingly, this morning’s Wahington Post has minimalized the story and buried it on page 3.
Let’s keep writing to the editors, the legislature, and the White House. The cascade of facts is beginning to have an impact. The last place it will be felt is in the WH or the Speaker’s office. But it will be felt.
When you do write to your members, remind them of the upcoming 2010 cycle.


TinyCO2 (03:55:18)
I know wat the weather in 2012 in London wil be. IT wil rain with a periods of sun and a average tempreture of 19C wind probaly comming from south west.

Interesting post. I wish that there was more too it… By the look of the plots it seems that north does indeed get the brunt, by why does it remain for so long, it looks like the mid cooled down but the North stayed hot from late 1999 to mid 2001… During that time it seems like very little heat left the north. So why would it remain so warm there at that time?

Frank K.

I browsed through the document this morning and it is filled to the brim with climate alarmism. It would be a worthwhile project to go through the text and start looking at and evaluating the reference data – I’m sure there is plenty of cherry picking and outright distortion of the facts (as is usual with the AGW crowd).

Mike O

Much like VinceW above, I’ve wondered what is the root cause of El Nino events? We go to great pains to point out that correlation is not causation in theAGW debate, but then assert that El Nino drives the SST anomalies. Sure, they are strongly correlated, but they could both be driven by the same, external factor. My guess is the Sun. Maybe El Nino does drive SST’s, but what drives El Nino?
I did check out Bob Tisdale’s links, but there is no root cause posited there.
Any thoughts?


Does anyone actually believe this document was for any other purpose than to promote Obama’s ideological agenda? He said he’d restore science “to its rightful place”, and that’s exactly what he did. It’s the usual suspects reviewing their own work and ignoring virtually all opposing research and observational data.
Perhaps the biggest laugh I got was the section on tropical tropospheric warming. Trashing satellite data in favor of cherry picking a set of radiosonde measurements to better support the models is the new definition of an experiment.
This report is nothing but a political document authored by the usual AGW lackeys, and hastily assembled at that.


speaking of sun spots.. Spaceweather has one forming, but its at a fairly low latitude. Another Cycle 23 spot?

I am madder about this report than anything I’ve read before. It’s full of mistakes, exaggerations and flat lies.
This has nothing to do with science and I recommend people read it to see what exactly the government is planning. This is multi-billion dollar propaganda, every graph seems cherry picked, every statement as extreme as can be made. I’m banning myself from blogging on it until I can calm down.
In the meantime, if you’re tired of being pissed off. I have an excellent guest post on the history of the Arctic ice by Tony B.

Myron Mesecke

Unfortunately my local paper ran the Washington Post story as the lead story on the front page this morning. And over the weekend it ran the story of how we ought to paint all the buildings and roads white. I’m losing faith in my local paper. Temple, Texas
I’m not well versed enough to contribute but I’m learning a great deal. Keep up the good work everyone.

Jim Hughes

Mark Wagner (04:44:58)
Do we know what drives the ENSO oscillation? Is it just unknown?
The sun does and it’s not even up for debate in my opinion. The problem with mainstream science not understanding the reasoning, or I should say the mechanisms to consider when trying to forecast it, are that they have always failed to think “outside the box”.
But I personally know some long term proffesional forecasters who are starting to look at things differently now.

Jim Hughes

I meant “professional” forecasters above…typo.. brain freeze.

Carl Wolk

Tallbloke: “The nino3.4 anomaly correlation to global SST is striking but the upward departures of Global SST seem to coincide with the progression of solar cycles.”
Before you begin to argue for a correlation between global SST and solar cycles, you have to remove the immediate effect of ENSO – to see the true, underlying nature of modern climate change. Without doing so, all attempts to find a solar cycle in SST will be baseless. I’ve done this analysis on a regional level, here:
Solar cycles don’t seem to be the dominant feature of the SST in any ocean; instead, it appears that ENSO produces step-changes in SST radiating outward from the Pacific Warm Pool.
I give more data to back up these assertions here:

@ Bob Tisdale (04:58:34) :
1. Why the European (?) SST data are seldom (well, never) seen on these pages? Please go to the page
and from the right menu choose WUWT-SST-Anomaly (I created the option ad hoc) or go directly to one of the ECMWF pages
2. What are the main dfferences between all the data sets presented here:
Why, let’s call ’em “American” and “European” data sets (satellite versus buoys data?) not put together for climate considerations?
BTW. I’d be greatfull for any remarks what to change or improved in the image database I created for myself and other (climate) bloggers. The Climages is updated daily. What I need now is “constructive critique” before The Climages are officially presented to the world. 😉

Steven Hill

We need cap and tax, the truth is not information that we are interested in.

Bob Tisdale citing report:
“there are also fluctuations in climate that occur even in the absence of changes in human activities, the Sun, or volcanoes. One example is the El Niño phenomenon, which has important influences on many aspects of regional and global climate.”
They acknowledged that ENSO is independent of anthropogenic influence. That’s significant.

They acknowledged that ENSO is independent of changes in the Sun. That’s significant.

Jim Hughes

I can’t help but think that some of this is indirectly related to what I wrote about a few years back. Anomalies in the TLT plots. Sorry about the lackluster presentation but you still should be able grasp what I was trying to show. Or bring forth as a hypothesis.


I am surprised that yesterday’s fantasy climate report from the Obama adminstration has gotten so little press coverage.

Tiny CO2
I am afraid you have failed the job interview for the Met office Olympics job. If it was ‘unpredictable’ you (and the Met office) wouldn’t be wanted would you? Pay attention now will you?
The correct answer is obviously that “our state of the art equipment enables us to make a robust forecast with a high level of certainty.”

Bob Tisdale… Congratulations for this excelent explanation.
Have you noticed that your theory is strongly correlated with Willis Eschenbach’s theory on the thermoregulation of Earth’s climate by the oceans? This is correct science! 🙂


Be careful all. Throwing opinions around on this sort of thing could get you ostracised. Prominent scientist refused service due to skepticism

Hopefully this isn’t a repeat. I got a server error when I tried to post this the first time.
Mark Wagner: You asked, “Do we know what drives the ENSO oscillation?”
In addition to the two links I provided in reply to the same question by VinceW that just happened to pop up right underneath your comment…
Refer to Bill Kessler’s Q&A page:
And David Enfield’s:
…consider the following. It’s a response at Lucia’s Blackboard I provided to a blogger who asked , “…how does an El Nino increase global temperature ?”
Link to Lucia’s thread:
My reply:
My simplest explanation might be a little wordy, but bear with me.
During non-El Nino years (La Nina and ENSO-neutral years), heat accumulates in the Pacific Warm Pool. Some of that heat is from warm water that returns to the PWP from the El Nino events (the equatorial counter current relaxes after an El Nino and the equatorial currents move the warm water back from the eastern to the western equatorial Pacific). Some of it is the normal heat buildup caused by the trade winds pushing warm surface waters from east to west in the tropical Pacific. And some of the buildup of heat occurs during the preceding El Nino event itself, when cloud amounts over the PWP drop significantly, causing a major rise in downwelling shortwave radiation (visible light). During the 1997/98 El Nino, downwelling shortwave radiation rose as much as 25 watt/meter^2 over the PWP.
The Pacific Warm Pool covers an area that varies in size. I did a few comparisons a while back and could go find them if necessary, but my memory says it varies from (approximately) the size of the United States to the size of Russia. So it can be quite large. And it can also reach depths of 300 meters. To put it into technical terms, it’s a chunk of warm water. During significant El Nino events like the 1986/87/88 and 1997/98 El Ninos, the Pacific Warm Pool will pretty much “empty” its contents as the warm water sloshes east.
So the warm water that was in the Pacific Warm Pool, most of it below the surface, shifts east during the El Nino. The warm water rises to the surface during the process. The increase in surface temperature of the central to the eastern tropical Pacific causes the lower troposphere above it to rise, and atmospheric processes redistribute the heat around the globe. This is as far as most people carry the discussion.
Here’s the rest. Some BUT NOT ALL of the warm water returns to the Pacific Warm Pool during the subsequent La Nina. BUT (big but) the warm water that doesn’t return to the Pacific Warm Pool is now on the surface of the North and South Pacific and the Indian Ocean.
In other words, warm water that was below the surface of the Pacific Warm Pool (and not included in the calculation of global temperature) is redistributed around the SURFACE of the nearby oceans by the El Nino, (and it is now included in the calculation of global temperature). This can be seen as upward step changes in the sea surface temperatures of the East Indian and West Pacific Ocean after the 1986/87/88 and 1997/98 El Nino events. Refer to my posts here:
I hope that helped.


The more we learn, the more we forget.
“Fishermen who ply the waters of the Pacific off the coast of Peru and Ecuador have known for centuries about the El Niño.”

Gary Pearce: You asked, “Is the 0.0045 figure a best fit value or from some other basis?” I eyeballed it, that’s all.

Indiana Bones
Sergio da Roma

Bob, I dont understand how you obtain the trend in fig. 4 for nino 3.4. If I use the nino 3.4 I observe no trend upward. But probably I missed somewhat…

Ron de Haan

At Climate depot there is much more critisism on the report.
There is also an open letter to climate change denialists and skeptics accusing them to behave like Chamberlain before WOII who did not see the real danger of the Nazi Regime.
More bad science presented by demogoges:

Milwaukee Bob

Michael D Smith (02:53:39),
Your analysis is spot on. But, as I previously posted, the “reported” measurement from Mona Loa is in PPM, (as is all other measurements of CO2 I’ve been able to find) which is a percentage figure. The percentage of the total of the atmosphere which is CO2, in this case. From that we cannot infer and should not assume the density (moles per cubic foot) of a gas is increasing, as it could equally be a DECREASE in the density of other gases that make up the total of the atmosphere. For example, in your analysis you noted the decrease of CO2 PPM every year during the Northern hemisphere summer. There are a lot of theories as to how this occurs and why it occurs when it does. But we really do not know. There are a number of things that are unaccounted for, including the relative DENSITY of other gases, including the two gases of primary concern, oxygen and carbon dioxide. For most of these theories to work AND for the density of CO2 to continue to increase as scientist and the computer modelers would have us believe is happening, the massive increase in the density of oxygen required to force the PPM (don’t forget it’s a percentage) of CO2 to decrease every year, is by my calculations, if not impossible, very improbable.
I have yet to find any comprehensive studies showing the PPM of the other gases over the same time period as the Mona Loa CO2 record and none on the density thereof. Even the CO2 record (compendium of studies) is at best hit and miss AND as has been reported here before, abused and misused. From what I have been able to determine, it (the historical record of the composition of the atmosphere) is just one more item we simply do not know and of course is subsequently ignored (or perverted) by the AGW crowd. I have found “they” even use it as a straw-man argument when cornered by physics and logic in asking the inane question, “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CARBON?” hoping that will shut me up, but to which I now respond, “Yeah, where does all the carbon go?” the answer to which “they” are still searching.
My summary point being, the PPM record of CO2 as a component of the atmosphere, no matter where derived from, at this point is virtually meaningless.

Milwaukee Bob

“My summary point being, …..” i should have said, …. virtually meaningless TO ALL BUT THE POLITICIANS AND THEIR FRIENDS THAT USE IT TO KEEP THEMSELVES IN BUSINESS. As per the article in todays WSJ – Legislators Framing Climate Bills Hold Energy Stock

G. Karst

Great work Bob T, I suspect when we fully unravel ENSO, the whole climatic modality will become resolved. I am not necessarily saying ENSO drives all climate, but the underlying forces (initiators) will be key to the entire music of climate.

Gary Pearse

Bob Tisdale
“Gary Pearce: You asked, “Is the 0.0045 figure a best fit value or from some other basis?” I eyeballed it, that’s all.”
Thanks Bob. My point was that I believe there may be a basis for calculation of temperatures volumes involved. Also I give a link showing the much elevated geothermal gradient in east-central pacific. Geothermal gradient has been rejected as a too weak and it is weak on average. See the following link and scroll down to the heat content map of the globe a couple of clicks down.
This with the currents gathering it together may possibly be the source of El Nino. (Compared to suns heating it is 0.35W/m2 times two because it operates day and night, times four because it heats the water on the sea floor for say 4 yrs before the water wells up and it is equivalent to about 3W/m2) – other factors, no albedo effect or IR re radiation to outerspace from the the SST.

Gary Pearse

Although I am neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring when it comes to actual climate change, I note what I think are flaws in the report here:
I would be happy to call attention to other defects as they occur, and if Anthony decides to host a ‘minority report’ as I call it in my article, I will faithfully report on the results.

Berry R

Possibly OT, but don’t forget variations in solar activity. Speaking of which: My understanding is that the reason Skylab fell before NASA could rescue it is that solar activity was higher than normal. For some reason that caused the upper fringe of the atmosphere to expand outward which caused enough drag to make Skylab’s orbit decay.
“Meanwhile the peak of the 11-year sunspot cycle arrived, a more active peak than NASA had hoped for, bringing a greater intensity of solar x-rays and extreme ultra-violet radiation. These radiations are absorbed in the uppermost fringes of the atmosphere, heat them up and make them expand outwards, more at “solar maximum” than at other times. Their expansion increased the air resistance (“drag”) to the motion of Skylab and caused its early demise.”
Here’s the question: If increased solar activity causes the upper fringe of the atmosphere to expand outward, what impact if any would that have on climate. We’re talking very low density here–not far from vacuum. That should mean very little heat transmission at any one area. On the other hand, if we’re talking hundreds of miles of extension all around the planet, then it’s bound to have some impact. Has anyone investigated the size of that impact and how heating of those upper layers interacts with the rest of the atmosphere?

Jim Hughes

Leif Svalgaard (06:34:20)
They acknowledged that ENSO is independent of changes in the Sun. That’s significant.
I always love it when I hear this. Not that you did the research. And this is not intended toward you Leif. So certain indivduals have decided what’s important within the scheme of things and the rest just go along for the ride.
Now I heard this same type of reasoning many years back in regards to the ability to predict certain events from weeks out. Like 3-4 day temperature anomaly weather patterns, or snowstorms etc.. But the community “now understands” the importance of the MJO, AAM – GWO.
And the naysayers who tried to downplay my own local success with these type of forecasts, like a former AMS president, had to eat crow. Because an astute global observer should have noticed these AAM-GWO-MJO pendulum like patterns, even before the GWO indice was officially brought forward.
So this is really all about being able to grasp pattern recogniton. Even with the sun and the ENSO.


The report apparently ignores everything since the early 00s. For example, shifted snow storm tracks. People have been taken by surprise by the southward shift since the early 00s, as they had been anticipating this would be impossible. Well, guess what.