El Niño gaining strength

From the “WUWT never reports on anything warm department”, JPL reports El Niño looks like it is on schedule to make a Christmas appearance as “The Boy”. The good news is that it will likely help California’s water situation this year.

el-nino-111209

Click for large image - This image was created with data collected by the U.S./French satellite during a 10-day period centered on November 1, 2009. It shows a red and white area in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific that is about 10 to 18 centimeters (4 to 7 inches) above normal. Image credit: NASA/JPL Ocean Surface Topography Team

From NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

El Niño is experiencing a late-fall resurgence. Recent sea-level height data from the NASA/French Space Agency Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason-2 oceanography satellite show that a large-scale, sustained weakening of trade winds in the western and central equatorial Pacific during October has triggered a strong, eastward-moving wave of warm water, known as a Kelvin wave. In the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, this warm wave appears as the large area of higher-than-normal sea surface heights (warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures) between 170 degrees east and 100 degrees west longitude. A series of similar, weaker events that began in June 2009 initially triggered and has sustained the present El Niño condition.

This image was created with data collected by the U.S./French satellite during a 10-day period centered on November 1, 2009. It shows a red and white area in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific that is about 10 to 18 centimeters (4 to 7 inches) above normal. These regions contrast with the western equatorial Pacific, where lower-than-normal sea levels (blue and purple areas) are between 8 to 15 centimeters (3 and 6 inches) below normal. Along the equator, the red and white colors depict areas where sea surface temperatures are more than one to two degrees Celsius above normal (two to four degrees Fahrenheit).

“In the American west, where we are struggling under serious drought conditions, this late-fall charge by El Niño is a pleasant surprise, upping the odds for much-needed rain and an above-normal winter snowpack,” said JPL oceanographer Bill Patzert.

For more information on NASA’s ocean surface topography missions, see http://sealevel.jpl.nasa.gov/ ; or to view the latest Jason data, see http://sealevel.jpl.nasa.gov/science/jason1-quick-look/.

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137 thoughts on “El Niño gaining strength

  1. Well that’s just hunky dory. California gets snow in the mountains, rain in the fertile valleys, and a warm breeze up their skirts at ocean side while Oregon and especially Wallowa County get dished up a nice bowl of frozen brass monkeys under a pile of snow at our doorsteps. Great.

  2. What with all the climate cycles that make up our weather patterns I can’t keep them all straight.
    Will this increase or decrease snowfall in the Northeast?
    I like a LOT of snow…I love storms that are measured in FEET. We actually set a record in my town back in the late 90’s where we got 38″ of snow in 12hrs. It was incredible. I let my dogs out when I got home, around 5:30pm, and it had just started to snow. Got up at 5am to let the dogs out…couldn’t open the sliding glass door…turned on the outside light…there’s 3′ of snow on the deck.
    Hoping for more of the same for THIS winter 🙂
    JimB

  3. We had one good rain from the remnants of that typhoon but nothing of any significance since. We certainly could use a couple of storms out of the Gulf of Alaska.

  4. Never mind you Americans, what does it mean for us in England? We had fuschias blooming early and a profusion of berries this autumn – both of which usually mean a particularly cold winter. I’m sure the Pacific El Nino affects world climate so what of us to the east of the Atlantic? Anyone know?

  5. Pamela Gray (07:45:21)
    I agree,this is like a typical Cold PDO Nino. I am still not quite buying the “Super
    El Ninp” of the AGW cultists.But.Warm water,cold air is a recipe for big snow.
    1969,1971/72 were nasty,and cold here in NE Oregon-both Nino years as I recall
    and Cold PDO.

  6. I have also been following the numbers. We are no where near a super El Nino. Not even close. So my prediction above can be considered a milk toast variety.

  7. My understanding is that for the far NE corner, you get blasted with dry Arctic winds cold enough to freeze tree roots.

  8. We are in for a very snowy winter… colder temperatures globally with a warmer and more evaporative surface ocean… Merry Christmas!

  9. It’s strange that it is exactly at the equator… could the gravitational/rotational forces of the earth help in “pulling” warmer waters up?

  10. Here are the predicted weather changes for an El Nino (the top one would be for the winter).
    http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/MJO/warm.gif
    The newest upper ocean temperature animation is showing a Super-El Nino-like profile.
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/anim/wkxzteq_anm.gif
    But the Trade Winds have shifted back to normal or above-normal recently so the Kelvin wave cited by NASA JPl above shouldn’t continue moving eastward.

  11. Pamela. Thanks, but we don’t get foggy any more. I know it crops up on films (movies) about England, but fact is foggy days pretty much died out here coincidentally in the late 1970s early 1980s. We get the odd day here and there, but NOTHING like the peas-soupers we used to get in the 60s and 70s.

  12. “this late-fall charge by El Niño is a pleasant surprise,”
    Uh, Erl predicted this nearly a year ago in commentary at WUWT(his forecast early Spring). NOAA has been on this ‘development’ since its models inkled the SST rise a good 6 months back.
    El Nino arrives by Xmas? Not a surprise. The surprise was it arrived 5 months back and threatened, briefly, to dissipate.
    D’Aleo had a post recently on the expectations for NA of a solar minimum- negative PDO-El Nino. I wasn’t paying attention to CA, was it rosy?

  13. Pamela said
    “I am not sure about the UK. Foggy comes to mind”
    Come on Pam, you’ve been watching too many bad American B movies with fog swirling round ‘Hansen’cabs 🙂
    Seriously, according to a Dutch study the number of foggy days has halved in Holland in the last 50 years and I would guess the same for the UK-due to pollution controls. This has substantially increased sunshine which presumably would have a positive impact on temperatures.
    Apparently it was so smoggy in London in the 1800’s that sunny days were rare-much like Beijing today-that must have substantially held down temperatures
    tonyb

  14. ..and how about the perk fins? Do they corroborate or gainsay this scientifically based prognosis?

  15. “”” Henry chance (07:50:17) :
    Here is where i look for weastern drought patterns.
    http://www.drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html
    I am told some drought is due to irrigation water being shutoff in California. That land use effect can decrease rain also thanks to reports on this site. “””
    Well maybe you are TOLD that. That however is not in a peer reviewed paper.
    The people who are buying all that way under market priced water out of the Northern California delta, are then reselling at a hefty profit, to grow golf courses in the deserts of SoCal.
    And the big Eastern farming conglomerates who own all that land along hiway five; are making sure that the drive by motorists can see the land near the road blowing across the road. Well nobody looks further back from the road to where they are growing crops; it’s all about perception.

  16. Along with Kelvin waves near the Equator, strong winds in the Arctic, widely roaming ice bergs in the Southern Ocean and much else from the weather is not climate departments, we have:
    In the Washington Cascades this morning, Interstate 90 eastbound was closed because of snow at Snoqualmie Pass (3,000 ft.), and the rest of the mountain passes (all higher) are likewise dealing with an over supply of snow.
    JimB, you could visit and help out the Wash. DOT clean up the mess. Bring several large trunks along and take a little home with you.
    “In the American west, where we are struggling under serious drought conditions,” from the text as quoted of JPL oceanographer Bill Patzert. Bill, “the definition of the American West” has changed over the historic settlement period but in our time it does not mean just California.

  17. It is amazing how much the temps change in Oregon compared to where you are in the state. Growing up here as a kid, we used to joke about waiting 10 minutes if you didnt like the current weather.
    On the coast during the winter, it is warmer and wetter than the inland valley or the high eastern areas. In the summer its colder and foggy. The total temp swing in a day is less than 10 degrees at times.
    The lawn has finally started to grow again. We let it dry out in the summer, so our lawn is green and growing only during the winter months. Locally, we will get up to 80 inches of rain in a 3-5 month window.

  18. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to turn this into a post tomorrow.
    ECMWF has the equatorial subsurface temperature anomaly cross-sections archived here:
    http://www.ecmwf.int/products/forecasts/d/charts/ocean/reanalysis/xzmaps/Monthly/
    They go back in time quite a ways, but the monthly illustrations lag a few months. They do have the daily “real time” views also, which means, for comparisons to older “super” El Nino events you’d need to compare a recently daily view to the historic monthly views. Here’s the real time link:
    http://www.ecmwf.int/products/forecasts/d/charts/ocean/real_time/xzmaps/
    To put the recent subsurface anomalies into perspective, here’s the daily view for Nov 13:
    http://i35.tinypic.com/vzwmfm.gif
    And here’s November 1997 (El Nino of the Century). The current anomalies are nowhere close to it:
    http://i35.tinypic.com/2zh4cqw.gif
    November 1982. (The 1982/83 El Nino peaked at around the same SST anomaly as the 1997/98) The current one is still short of that one:
    http://i35.tinypic.com/2zs1w03.gif
    Third on the list of El Nino events was the 1972/73 El Nino and the current subsurface anomalies fall short of its Nov 1972 values:
    http://i38.tinypic.com/14ec7wl.gif
    Next for your viewing pleasure is Nov 1986 (part way into the 1986/87/88 El Nino). The current values appear a little stronger than it:
    http://i38.tinypic.com/24ch5ds.gif
    So if (BIG IF) the subsurface anomalies could be used a predictor of the SST anomalies, the current El Nino would peak somewhere between the 1986/87/88 El Nino and the 1992/93 El Nino.

  19. Tonyb, yes the lack of fog MUST have had an impact on temperatures since the late 1970s. The last pea-souper I can remember in my area was the winter of 1978/9. Me and some mates drove 40 miles to a party (we were teens) in fog so thick we nearly drove into the back of a parked lorry. The Mini we were in never had any heater either. Oh teen days – how did we ever get through them alive? 30 years without fog!

  20. Barry Foster (08:44:00) : “Pamela. Thanks, but we don’t get foggy any more. I know it crops up on films (movies) about England, but fact is foggy days pretty much died out here coincidentally in the late 1970s early 1980s. We get the odd day here and there, but NOTHING like the peas-soupers we used to get in the 60s and 70s.”
    The foggiest area in London (or the entire UK, for that matter) is found nowadays betwixt St. Margaret St. and the Thames, not far from Westminster Abbey.

  21. Here in north central California, no sign yet of relief from the drought. Cold and clear today, again. Feels more like a La Nina. Would love to see an El Nino, even though it limits backpacking season. In 97/98 El Nino, had permits to climb Mt. Whitney, in mid July, but couldn’t due to enormous snow depth. Even a moderate El Nino would be a relief, providing the Feds don’t flush the additional water out the delta and thru the Golden Gate, as they did this year……fm

  22. Stop the presses everyone, this startling admission from Al Gore himself as of today
    http://www.iceagenow.com/Gore_admits_CO2_does_not_cause_majority_of_global_warming.htm
    Cap & Trade may be starting its way to the dustbin of history.
    According to the same site the snowstorms in China has caused half a billion dollars in damage and caused 7000 buildings to collapse, it’s a good thing we’re not getting something like that here anytime soon in Kansas.

  23. I hope it brings some good snow to my Utah ski resorts. November so far has been really dry. I’m interested in seeing how the Global Temps will react to the strengthening of the El Nino.

  24. Can someone please get to the bottom line here?
    I live in Southern Wisconsin.
    Am I going to be able to make my backyard skating rink this year?

  25. Hey, I bet those politicians in the Maldives are glad it isn’t heading their way. It would almost bring the sea level back to where it used to be before all this pesky Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas did its stuff!

  26. Hey Oregon! Looks like we are getting buckets of El Nino in every which way: fog, rain, hail, and snow. Here in the high desert plain of NE Oregon, Pendleton is drowning in rain! Elgin will soon be covered in carport crushing snow again. That one year, you would have sworn there was no town there, just snow drifts.

  27. Of course, here in California’s San Joaquin Valley, more rain in the winter will mean more tuley fog. Yes Brits – We are the ones who have to live with the fog. On the one hand I like it. You feel this cosey isolation all about you. I used to have fun going out in a field on a foggy night and just get lost in thought. The bad part about the tuley fog… is the traffic accidents. Three or four times a year, during the foggy season, we have freeway pile-ups of sixty to one hundred cars and semi-trucks. It gets brutal.

  28. It looks like a CP-El Nino.
    “…Using calculations based on historical El Niño indices, we find that projections of anthropogenic climate change are associated with an increased frequency of the CP-El Niño compared to the EP-El Niño. When restricted to the six climate models with the best representation of the twentieth-century ratio of CP-El Niño to EP-El Niño, the occurrence ratio of CP-El Niño/EP-El Niño is projected to increase as much as five times under global warming. The change is related to a flattening of the thermocline in the equatorial Pacific.”
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7263/full/nature08316.html

  29. It’s 8 degrees F in Enterprise, Oregon right now and a very wet band of moisture is hung up in the Blue Mountains and is about to slide down the Eastern side of the Blues.

  30. Bob Tisdale (09:36:39) :
    “Hopefully I’ll get a chance to turn this into a post tomorrow.”
    Yes, it will be good to have all the plots under one link.

  31. Thanks, Pamela,I have to drive to Elgin every other day or so from LaGrande,
    -that is why Warmists will pull my F-150 4×4 out of my cold,dead, fingers.:-)

  32. Bob Tisdale (09:36:39) :
    Hopefully I’ll get a chance to turn this into a post tomorrow.

    Any chance of turning the ECMWF cross-sections into an animation? The current cross-section don’t look quite so big after looking at some of the older ones.

  33. ” Barry Foster (08:44:00) :
    Pamela. Thanks, but we don’t get foggy any more. I know it crops up on films (movies) about England, but fact is foggy days pretty much died out here coincidentally in the late 1970s early 1980s.”
    You should try around New Ross In Wexford ,Ireland. Beautiful fog and magic photos.

  34. The Department of Transportation has also increased the height of the road markers in the passes this year (they completely disappeared in the snow banks last year), while increasing chain requirements to all vehicles towing through the Blue Mountain passes, regardless of weight. I wonder where they get their climate news from.

  35. To JimB.
    I recall delivering Guinness to a place in the mountains which was “cut-off” by 20′ drifts .That was back in 1962-3 way before Mann and Briffa so hype springs eternal?

  36. Fred, is it just me or do the statistical models have a tighter ring around the observed ENSO? I have observed that one of the statistical models is usually dead on (though not the same one each time) while the dynamical models are off by no small amount.

  37. Your welcome. And that should lar’n ya to remember to offer sacrifices to Gore’s chosen one (after all, I did vote for the idiot) (s).

  38. This means that it will once again be cold enough in Wallowa County to freeze underground sewer lines. Now THAT is DAMNED COLD! This fall I had the local contractor pile a bunch of dirt over my lines for added protection. I think I will add some straw the next time I am at the ranch.

  39. Allright Pam, you can have your drying out time, if you promise not to complain if California gets an 82/83 super snow El Nino… and proceeds to totally sqaunder it.
    It won’t matter if it’s rain or snow here, they still don’t know what they want, and they don’t appreciate what they get. Biggest bunch of ingrates on the planet govern from Sacrameno, the home of the Grinch.

  40. Don’cha lurv them acronyms? It rightly reminds me of local farmers talkin’ tractors.
    Hhheeeypppp, that thar (petoowee) 359 was one helluva tractor but did ya see thet new fangled 3000F? By godamighty (petoowee) it’ll pull a calf all gentle like and the next minute take on my double hitched bottom plow an’ go straight through them thar clods at ’bout 30 mph. An’ I tain’t lyin neither! (petoowee!) Got em.

  41. Pamela Gray (12:33:32) :
    They don’t get thier forecasts from Gore or the IPCC.
    They won’t be calling this the Day after Tomorrow, but they might be calling this the year after Global Warming died.

  42. “jorgekafkazar (10:03:20) :
    The foggiest area in London (or the entire UK, for that matter) is found nowadays betwixt St. Margaret St. and the Thames, not far from Westminster Abbey.”
    I remember that place. That’d be a really big gothic looking place, right? attached to a really loud bell. *sigh* Loved that at lunchtime.
    There was one fog producer on the lawn one day that I walked past….being interviewed by a reporter on camera…

  43. Bill Illis: You asked, “Any chance of turning the ECMWF cross-sections into an animation?”
    For this post, I’ll do .gif animation comparisons of those illustrations. Maybe when the El Nino runs its course I’ll animate the subsurface anomalies from the first warm Kelvin wave of this year till the start of the La Nina. Carl Wolk animated the 2007/08 La Nina.

    It was part of his “The Evolution of La Nina” post:
    http://climatechange1.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/the-evolution-of-la-nina/
    And my video comparison of the subsurface temps of 3 major El Ninos was a look at the subsurface temperatures, not anomalies. But for those I was interested in illustrating the effects on the thermocline:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWKFPHJvuF8

  44. forfismum (12:38:07) :
    To JimB.
    I recall delivering Guinness to a place in the mountains which was “cut-off” by 20′ drifts .That was back in 1962-3 way before Mann and Briffa so hype springs eternal?
    I remember that winter. Living in rural Perthshire at the time by mid February both doors were frozen shut and buried under snow, fortunately we were able to climb in and out of a window! That lasted for a couple of weeks before a thaw allow us to use normal access methods.
    Most winters in the sixties we were unable to get to school during heavy snowfalls. We had a taxi ride of 4 miles (7 kilometers) then a bus journey of 10 more miles (16 kms). Things are much better now, and long may it continue. My brother rarely gets stuck in snow these days.

  45. “”” Frank Mosher (10:15:20) :
    Here in north central California, no sign yet of relief from the drought. Cold and clear today, again. Feels more like a La Nina. Would love to see an El Nino, even though it limits backpacking season. In 97/98 El Nino, had permits to climb Mt. Whitney, in mid July, but couldn’t due to enormous snow depth. Even a moderate El Nino would be a relief, providing the Feds don’t flush the additional water out the delta and thru the Golden Gate, as they did this year……fm “””
    Well north central California used to have the largest lake west of the Mississippi; so they had plenty of water. Then as I recall, someone flushed all of that out the Delta and out through the Golden Gate; just so they could get a few more acres to grow cotton on.
    What goes around comes around; meanwhile that “excess water” that “the feds” flush out the GG supports the whole ecology of the Monterey Bay; and all its fisheries; which are certainly worth more economically, than a few acres of cotton, as far as California business interests go.
    Sorry if it turns out you can’t go hiking on Mt Whitney again this year; I know that is important for you to be able to do that.

  46. I recall Joseph D’Aleo’s charts showing the odds of drought in the southwest and rain in the northwest when we have a cold PDO and warm AMO. How is the AMO doing? I am assuming that despite the PDO an El Nino will bring some rain? I sure hope so. San Francisco needs it.

  47. It is 86 fahrenheit here in Brisbane Australia today and beautiful blue skies. So what are you all complaining about?

  48. George E. Smith. I am referring to the devastating losses to agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley. Seems to me i saw a report that unemployment in Mendota was at 40% thjs last summer. Given the distance from the Golden Gate, to Monterey Bay, it seems unlikely to me that a single discharge will do much, if anything, to the Monterey Bay. The reason for the massive discharge was to help the Delta Smelt. As for Mt. Whitney. Having done it twice, i see no reason to do it again. Other than being the highest in the 48 states, there is little else to recommend it, in my opinion.However, abundant precipitation would be welcome throughout Calif.,Arizona, Nevada, etc.

  49. Pamela Gray (08:20:06) :
    El Nino is not a big drought producer.
    Different story over here of course (Oz), El nino is associated with drought and La nina with rain, mainly affecting the southern states on the east coast.

  50. I moved to Burbank in August, until that time the LA area had not seen rain in two years, so I am told. Since the end of the Station Fire, we’ve had two rain storms, one of which was last night. El Nino is evidently having an effect, or it may just be me bringing the rain from the east coast.
    Since the Santa Ana winds came in last month its been pretty much pleasant here.
    I am told the Station Fires still are smoking with a lot of underground root burning going on that will continue until we get a good soaking rain.

  51. Four months ago I posted this, and I still stand by it.
    =============================================
    tallbloke (15:03:05) : 15th July 2009
    Bob Tisdale (13:29:33) :
    tallbloke: My thoughts at present are that El Nino Modoki events are aftereffects of the more significant traditional El Nino events that precede them.
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/07/similarities-of-multiyear-periods.html
    And there have been some big ones after solar minimum in the last few cycles. However, I think they have been helped along by the advent of the next strong cycle, and that’s not happening this time round. All el nino’s are different, the classification we put on them is our taxonomy, not natures order. Maybe this one is a new type of el nino, as they all are in their own way.
    My prediction is for a UAH global anomaly of 0.35 in october, followed by a plateau of switchy spikes then slow decline to a deep low mid N.H. autumn next year.
    =============================================
    Well UAH for October came in at 0.284, slightly under my prediction, but I think the general drift is about right.

  52. Question/request that Bob Tisdale may be able to answer.
    It appears there is both an atmospheric and oceanic heat content contribution to El Ninos.
    Sea level height data would appear to a pure measure of the atmospheric contribution (trade winds).
    Whereas SSTs would be some combination of the 2 causes.
    A graph of Sea level height against SSTs over the El Nino area would help tease out the 2 causes.
    Are sea level height and SSTs highly correlated or not?
    If they are then it would seem El Ninos are purely an atmospheric effect and nothing to do with ocean heat content. A very interesting conclusion and quite contrary to the general belief.

  53. @JimB. Take a look at the national satellite image on the sidebar right now. Is that system with its feet in the Pacific affected in any way by El Nino?
    Anyway, looks like a great Nor’easter is coming out of that fading tropical storm off the east coast. Storm tides should make for interesting tides in the New England ports. It’s worse than we imagined. Very robust.

  54. It is 32 deg. f here in Pullman (southeast) Washington state and snowing real pretty like a Christmas card. It’s Dads’ weekend at Washington State University and the UCLA (southern California) Bruins are coming here for a football game tomorrow. May they freeze off their fingers the first time they touch the turf of Martin Stadium (go Cougs!).

  55. Satellite measurements of temperature are actually, I believe, based on a measure of sea level, not an actual heat measure. When water is warmer, you have more of it, so to speak (sea level increases). When water is colder, sea level goes down. Satellites can measure these bulges, ripples, waves, and valleys, and then assign a temperature value to them. With the equatorial water just sitting there getting heated by the Sun, you get Kelvin wave bulges of warm water sloshing West to East along the equatorial belt. When the trade winds, blowing East to West, kick up, the warm layer is blown West and the cold water lowers sea level. So SST’s are very much related to sea level height and you can use one to calculate the other.

  56. If you, Tallbloke, have been getting these predictions close to the mark, than perhaps you could write an article on this site highlighting your observations, your past predictions that came true, and what’s ahead for the future.
    It could be interesting. 🙂

  57. That’s good, something to push the jet stream up a little bit so that blob of cold air that calved off of the mass in Siberia and is moving East gets skipped over into the middle of the continent.

  58. Bob Tisdale (13:30:12) : Bill Illis: You asked, “Any chance of turning the ECMWF cross-sections into an animation?”
    For this post, I’ll do .gif animation comparisons of those illustrations…

    Seems to be a similar “Kelvin wave?” (is that the warm surface water flowing to the east along the equator?) in the Atlantic. The warm water is already along the eastern equatorial Atlantic and possibly deflected mainly northwards along the African coast and the Spanish peninsular.
    http://ocean.dmi.dk/satellite/index.uk.php

  59. Which leads me to ask – are there similar “el ninos” in the Atlantic, which seems reasonable. And how do they differ from the Pacific ones? Possible occurring earlier in the season than christmas time?

  60. Philip_B: You wrote, “Are sea level height and SSTs highly correlated or not?”
    The SSH anomalies in the illustration at the beginning of this post would primarily reflect the temperature anomalies of the water column, not only SST. The Kelvin wave in the SSH anomaly illustration agrees with the subsurface temperature anomalies more than it does the SST anomalies.
    As the thermocline flattens, warm water from the Pacific Warm Pool is sloshing east toward Peru. The cloud cover and precipitation follows the warm water east, upsetting “normal” atmospheric circulation patterns, wind stress and cloud cover in the Pacific and globally. Part of the rise in global temperature is caused by the release of heat from the tropical Pacific to the atmosphere. This can be seen in the drop in tropical Pacific OHC during an El nino. Part of the rise in global temperature is caused by the changes in atmosperic circulation. But I’ve never seen the proportions isolated and quantified. It probably varies per type of El Nino, traditional versus El Nino Modoki, and a multitude of other factors.

  61. Ninderthana, how do you correlate trade wind causes with the lunar connection? The only way El Nino can occur is if the East to West trade winds die down, thus allowing Kelvin waves to propagate from West to East and for the Sun to beat a constant drum into the much calmer equatorial sea surface.

  62. Richard (18:11:51) :
    Which leads me to ask – are there similar “el ninos” in the Atlantic, which seems reasonable. And how do they differ from the Pacific ones? Possible occurring earlier in the season than christmas time?

    The same kind of thing happens in the Atlantic as well. It doesn’t seem to get as extreme as in the Pacific and the impacts are not as great.
    But there are some impacts. This year has been an Atlantic-type La Nina which probably contributed to the low Atlantic hurricane season. SSTs in the hurricane forming regions didn’t go as high as they have been in the past several years.
    One can see this in this animation.
    http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/ml/ocean/sst/anom_anim.html

  63. This will be welcome at this time of year. Let us see if it can survive into the summer months. Given the narrowness of the band, it will be a test.

  64. Pamela Gray (17:02:08) :
    Can you tell me why the Jet streams stop at the Pacific Northwest, and is that the normal way it works? Seems to me that an El Nino will shift that Pineapple Express stream up north and slam it into Monterrey to Mendocino.

  65. Quote Pamela:”Good heavens! I-84 is now closed in two places! And before Thanksgiving” -there’s been several nasty wrecks on I-84 due to weather lately.
    Regarding the snow markers, I know personally the ODOT director of Maintenance for the area.Local boy, would love to give AlGore a little cab ride in a Rotary…
    Bob Tisdale (13:37:44) :
    Douglas DC (08:20:22) : “I agree,this is like a typical Cold PDO Nino.”
    Please provide examples of other “typical Cold PDO NINO.”
    Bob -what I meant was the Cold PDO Ninos seem to be less of an Warm influence
    than a general weather producer for the PAC NW in particular.I will get more specific
    as I can look some stats and document this position…Any thoughts would be appreciated too…

  66. Bill Illis (18:58:28) :
    Richard (18:11:51) : Which leads me to ask – are there similar “el ninos” in the Atlantic, which seems reasonable. And how do they differ from the Pacific ones? Possible occurring earlier in the season than christmas time?
    The same kind of thing happens in the Atlantic as well. It doesn’t seem to get as extreme as in the Pacific and the impacts are not as great. ..One can see this in this animation. http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/ml/ocean/sst/anom_anim.html

    That animation shows hot water from the Indian Ocean piling up against south australia at the exact same time the heat wave started there.
    On the 5th of November it was cold there and then suddenly the warm waters arrive and whamo – heat wave.
    See here http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/silo/temp_maps.cgi?variable=maxanom&area=nat&period=daily&time=history&steps=8
    Toggle for later dates and there is an exact match

  67. Aaron W. (19:13:45) : Does anybody know if the chinese government seeded the clouds that caused the bad snow storms?
    Yep I know – saw it with me own eyes. Its known as anthropogenic localised cooling.
    Well they claim that they caused the first snowfall on Nov2 though some remain sceptical of that claim. Since then there have been snowstorms all over Northern China and unless a little seed has gone a long way – you be the judge.

  68. Thanks for the explanation Bob. Although I’m not sure I’m any the wiser.
    The SSH anomalies in the illustration at the beginning of this post would primarily reflect the temperature anomalies of the water column, not only SST.
    So it’s a thermal expansion effect.
    Nomally the trade winds ‘push’ warm water westward toward the Pacific Warm Pool. During a conventional El Nino the Trades weaken and the warm water ‘slides’ back toward the east.
    I’d always interpretted this as a physical transport of water. How else can heat be transferred over distance through the ocean?
    Part of the rise in global temperature is caused by the release of heat from the tropical Pacific to the atmosphere.
    I was more interested in how much OHC was the cause of El Ninos, as opposed atmospheric circulation (Trade Winds and Kelvin waves) being the cause.
    If atmospheric circulation is the cause then El Ninos are irrelevant to global warming and in fact cause global cooling, even as they warm the atmosphere. This is because only the oceans can store significant heat.
    An atmospheric cause would mean increased OHC isn’t the cause. However, decreased OHC is clearly the effect. Thus El Ninos deplete the climate’s oceanic heat store causing climate cooling.
    Thanks again.

  69. Pamela – try this paper as a starter
    Earth rotation and ENSO events: combined excitation of interannual LOD variations by multiscale atmospheric oscillations
    Global and Planetary Change
    Volume 36, Issues 1-2, March 2003, Pages 89-97
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VF0-47C8SFR-3&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1092387948&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=94b255502e23cdaa8f653172bd7e7c32
    The interannual changes in the Earth’s rotation rate, and hence in the length of day (LOD), are thought to be caused by the variation of the atmospheric angular momentum (AAM). However, there is still a considerable portion of the LOD variations that remain unexplained. Through analyzing the non-atmospheric LOD excitation contributed by the Western Pacific Warm Pool (WPWP) during the period of 1970-2000, the positive effects of the WPWP on the interannual LOD variation are found, although the scale of the warm pool is much smaller than that of the solid Earth. These effects are specifically intensified by the El Niño events, since more components of the LOD-AAM were accounted for by the warm pool excitation in the strong El Niño years. Changes in the Earth’s rotation rate has attracted significant attention, not only because it is an important geodetic issue but also because it has significant value as a global measure of variations within the hydrosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere and solid Earth, and hence the global changes.

  70. Sorry wrote reference right abstract. Reference should read:
    Pacific warm pool excitation, earth rotation and El Niño southern oscillations
    Yan, Xiao-Hai; Zhou, Yonghong; Pan, Jiayi; Zheng, Dawei; Fang, Mingqiang; Liao, Xinhao; He, Ming-Xia; Liu, W. Timothy; Ding, Xiaoli
    Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 29, Issue 21, pp. 27-1

  71. I’m hearing the expression “cold PDO El Nino” and it’s making a sense. Here in eastern NSW, previous El Nino’s have meant drought in the normally wet warm season (with maybe some unseasonal winter downpours). This year we’ve had masses of rain through the later spring after a horribly dry winter: not regular afternoon storms, but a couple of really big dumps. Hardly conclusive, I know, but interesting.
    But one very important thing about the last three years is that regardless of Nino, Nina, winter or summer, the winds have been more from the ocean than the inland. There have been westerlies, but nothing like those of just a few years ago, and less dominant overall. Our El Nino spring had some savage moments, like the Great Dust, but mostly it was like a dewy European spring, even when far too dry. Cold PDO?
    Then there is Ninderthana’s point about earth’s rotation and climate, and those still wider matters of solar influence mentioned above. Why aren’t governments directing huge scientific resources at these huge issues?
    Rhetorical question, of course.

  72. Douglas DC (20:09:46) : “I will get more specific as I can look some stats and document this position…Any thoughts would be appreciated too…”
    At present the PDO is positive, so your original statement has a problem, which is why I asked. Also, if you were to plot PDO and NINO34 SST anomaly data togther, you’d discover that the PDO mimics NINO3.4 SST anomalies. The PDO is an aftereffect of ENSO.

  73. Philip_B (22:22:17) : Are you asking what initiates the typical El Nino? If that’s your question, then most discussions I’ve read say that a relaxation of the trade winds initiates the El Nino.

  74. Just an observation but the extreme linearity of the it, with its parallelism with the equator points to it being an artefact.

  75. Richard: You wrote, “is that [the Kelvin wave] the warm surface water flowing to the east along the equator?”
    An equatorial Kelvin wave like the one in the Pacific shown in the JPL graphic might not have a comparable immediate effect on SST since the majority of the temperature anomaly is subsurface. Here’s a video that compares sea level and SST anomalies from Jan 1996 to Dec 1999, capturing the 1997/98 El Nino.
    http://sealevel.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/tiffs/videos/sshsst-globalocean.mov
    If you stop the video in Jan 1997, the Kelvin wave is very pronounced in the central equatorial Pacific, but the SST anomalies don’t really show it yet. Then as the warm water moves east, some rises to the surface, increasing the SST anomalies.
    Here’s a link to the JPL gallery of SSH and El Nino videos:
    http://sealevel.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/tiffs/videos/

  76. Bob Tisdale: If relaxation of the trade winds initiates the El Nino, what would be a cause of that again…? Higher pressure than usual along the Intertropical Convergence Zone? Or lower pressure in the subtropics?

  77. It appears to me that the biggest driver of the ENSO, is really the Atmospheric Angular Momentum noted by Ninderthana. Other than the Sun, AAM is the biggest force impacting the climate, it is the rotation of the Earth and the combined impact of all the atmospheric winds on the planet, ie, one very big system.
    There is a high correlation, but there are also two large El Ninos in the last 50 years which are not predicted by AAM (and the current El Nino is also not predicted by AAM either which is currently quite negative).
    http://img524.imageshack.us/img524/6969/ensovsaam.png
    So we also have the Trade Winds, Equatorial Upper Ocean Heat Anomaly (the subsurface circulation of it in the Pacific), and the SOI which are all part of the same big system (potentially primarily driven by AAM in the first place).
    Any of these other factors might be the primary driver at any one time, so we would should be looking at all of them.
    http://img524.imageshack.us/img524/479/ensovstrades.png
    http://img94.imageshack.us/img94/7098/ensovseuoha.png
    http://img33.imageshack.us/img33/5826/ensovssoi.png

  78. Here in the midwest (USA Indiana), the first two weeks of Nov have been warm and sunny, much different from the cold rainy weather in October. Is this the expected weather for a strengthening El Nino?

  79. The PDO was discovered while studying why salmon tonnage apparently followed both short term and long term oscillations. It was determined that there could be a predominately cool or warm phase that could last 50 – 60 years. During these longer phases there could be episodes of El Nino or La Nina but that overall the long term oscillation could be placed into one of three categories: neutral, cool, or warm.

  80. Adam from Kansas (16:44:19) :
    If you, Tallbloke, have been getting these predictions close to the mark, than perhaps you could write an article on this site highlighting your observations, your past predictions that came true, and what’s ahead for the future.
    It could be interesting. 🙂

    Although my UAH October prediction of 0.35 was high, the sept-oct UAH anomaly fell:
    2009 09 0.422
    2009 10 0.284
    Which crosses my prediction of 0.35 nicely centred in the middle. Air temperatures can spike up and down quite a lot on a bi-monthly basis, so I’m happy with the result.
    I arrived at my prediction through a combination of using the model I’ve built which uses sunspot number data and LOD data, and looking at the el nino which occured 115 years earlier at the end of the C19th.
    LOD changes are linked to changes in atmospheric angular momentum.

  81. Bob Tisdale (02:48:40) : “If you stop the video in Jan 1997, the Kelvin wave is very pronounced in the central equatorial Pacific, but the SST anomalies don’t really show it yet. Then as the warm water moves east, some rises to the surface, increasing the SST anomalies.”
    Hey Bob, I like the El Nino animations you have found/created. However, I’m not sure your interpretation of how Kelvin waves increase SST anomalies is correct. In particular, I don’t think it is right to say that “as warm water moves east some rises to the surface”. Those large sub-surface anomalies associated with Kelvin waves do represent a “bulge” of warm water. However, the largest subsurface anomalies reflect a displacement of the thermocline so that the warmest anomalies are regions normally below the thermocline that become above the thermocline because of the “flattening” effect of the Kelvin wave. It is this “flattening” combined with weakening trade winds that allow the warmer waters in the west Pacific to “slosh” to the east increasing SST, not rising of “sub-surface waters”. The subsurface temps are cooler than temps near the surface, so I don’t even know if that would make sense.

  82. Re: Bill Illis (06:01:42)
    So then the question becomes: What is driving GLAAM? And why does its phase intermittently match that of various functions of interannual geomagnetic aa index (over different eras depending on the function)? As my investigations deepen, I’m starting to wonder if Piers Corbyn recently let us down on purpose (to strategically lower expectations). I have become convinced beyond all shadow of a doubt that the arguments that the sun & solar system have no effect on terrestrial climate are not only misleading, but also both ludicrous & scandalous.

  83. What does the weight of a Northern Hemisphere winter snow-pack do to the angular momentum of the planet?

  84. Espen (03:04:03) : You asked, “If relaxation of the trade winds initiates the El Nino, what would be a cause of that again…? Higher pressure than usual along the Intertropical Convergence Zone? Or lower pressure in the subtropics?”
    I don’t believe the researchers have identified one particular cause for the relaxation of the trade winds. It may change per El Nino.
    Bill Illis: You’ve researched tropical Pacific trade winds. Can you shed further light on this and correct me if I’ve missed something in my reply to Espen?

  85. Re: Ninderthana
    “In addition, it can be seen from the time-frequency spectral analysis that the seasonal atmospheric oscillations also affect the intensities of El Nino and La Nina events. The global seasonal atmospheric circulation appears to be eastward in winters and springs, and westward in summers (see Fig. 1b). Therefore, if an El Nino (or La Nina) reaches its peak period in winter or spring, a relatively strong El Nino (or weak La Nina) event will usually occur due to the anomalous eastward seasonal circulation of the atmosphere. On the other hand, if the peak period is reached in summer, a relatively weak El Nino (or strong La Nina) event will be resulted from the anomalous westward seasonal circulation in the atmosphere.”
    Zheng, D.; Ding, X.; Zhou, Y; & Chen, Y. (2003). Earth rotation and ENSO events: combined excitation of interannual LOD variations by multiscale atmospheric oscillations. Global and Planetary Change 36, 89-97.
    Their presentation could have been substantially improved by including bivariate color-contour cross-wavelet phase-contrasts for figure 4.

  86. Re: Pamela Gray (06:21:36) & (06:27:17)
    It’s not just salmon & PDO:
    Klyashtorin, L.B.; & Lyubushin, A.A. (2007). Cyclic Climate Changes and Fish Productivity. Government of The Russian Federation, State Committee For Fisheries of The Russian Federation, Federal State Unitary Enterprise (FSUE), Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO). Moscow, VNIRO Publishing.
    http://alexeylyubushin.narod.ru/Climate_Changes_and_Fish_Productivity.pdf

  87. Paul Vaughan (07:27:37) :
    I have become convinced beyond all shadow of a doubt that the arguments that the sun & solar system have no effect on terrestrial climate are not only misleading, but also both ludicrous & scandalous.

    Well said Paul.

  88. Adam, great point. We seem to be inundated with “anomalies”. There is no “warm” pool of water, subsurface, in the central or eastern Pacific. But there is a not as cool as “normal”, pool. IMHO, there is not a supply of warm water lurking at depth that will rise to the surface and feed the El Nino. ISTM a lot of the misinformation about our climate derives from creation of anomalies, whether they are air, SST, etc. When one looks at the absolute values, the Earth seems to be very stable. My 2 cents worth. Hot day in Sacramento is 100, cold is 30. In the overall scheme of things, that is pretty stable.

  89. Here’s a key admission:
    “Because both the tide-raising potential and the solid Earth’s elastic response to the tidal forces caused by this potential are wellknown, accurate models for the effects of the elastic solid body tides on the Earth’s rotation are available. However, models for the effect of the ocean tides on the Earth’s rotation are more problematic because of the need to model the dynamic response of the oceans to the tidal forces.” (italic-emphasis added)
    Gross, R. (2009). Ocean Tidal Effects on Length-of-Day.
    http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2009/EGU2009-1558.pdf

  90. Paul Vaughan (07:27:37) :
    ….
    I have become convinced beyond all shadow of a doubt that the arguments that the sun & solar system have no effect on terrestrial climate are not only misleading, but also both ludicrous & scandalous.

    Why do you say this? Could you describe the mechanism by which the sun & solar system affects terrestrial climate?

  91. Adam: You wrote, “However, I’m not sure your interpretation of how Kelvin waves increase SST anomalies is correct. In particular, I don’t think it is right to say that “as warm water moves east some rises to the surface”.
    Thanks for the heads-up on how that can be interpreted. I was not my intent to imply that the movement east is what causes the warm water to rise to the surface. Sorry for how that sounded. It happens when I take shortcuts.

  92. John Finn (12:09:38) :
    Could you describe the mechanism by which the sun & solar system affects terrestrial climate?

    Try these two:
    Pulling and pushing.
    Stretching and squeezing.
    😉

  93. Paul Vaughan,
    Richard Gross of NASA says most of the changes in length of day are brought about by changing sub crustal currents. His estimate is around 90% of the multidecadal changes are due to this. Logic says this is due to changes in sub crustal currents affecting the relative distribution of material of differing densities closer to and further from the centre of the Earth.
    What could cause this? Changing magnetic activity in the space the Earth moves through pulling/pushing ferrous material around?
    Stretching and squeezing of the Earth by the moon and it’s alignments with other celestial bodies as it’s declination changes over the 18.6 year cycle?

  94. Bob Tisdale (08:14:03) : “I don’t believe the researchers have identified one particular cause for the relaxation of the trade winds. It may change per El Nino.”
    Given all the mention, data massage, and animation of El Nino itself, it would seem that relaxation of the trade winds is all too quickly shrugged off. Googling the two gives these results:
    “El Nino”: 15.4 million hits;
    relaxation + “trade winds” -hotel -beach: 10 thousand hits
    The ultimate cause of late 20th Century record “global” temperatures in 1998? Oh, it was just “relaxation of the trade winds.” Meh. Ho hum. Wanna go watch ’em knock down the old Endicott Building?

  95. In case it hasn’t shown up here:
    http://www.elnino.noaa.gov/pandemic_1918_1919.html
    “Some scientists have proposed that El Niño and its consequences might be intensifying due to global warming. The strong El Niño events of 1982/1983 and 1997/1998 support this idea.
    “However, a new NOAA-funded study shows that the 1918/1919 El Niño was one of the strongest of the 20th century, a finding counter to earlier analyses that viewed it as weak. This research could ultimately lead to a better understanding of how El Niño events impact weather in the United States and globally. It also suggests a possible link between El Niño and the 1918 flu pandemic.”
    Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Now the Warmist willies want to blame pandemics on climate change? It’s worse than we thought.
    Science is dead.

  96. The Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
    Volume 117 Issue 499, Pages 571 – 585
    Published Online: 15 Dec 2006
    Copyright © 2009 Royal Meteorological Society
    Variations common to the interplanetary magnetic field, the zonal atmospheric circulation and the earth’s rotation
    D. Djurovic 1, P. Páquet 2
    1Department of Astronomy, University of Belgrade, YU-11000 Belgrade, Yugoslavia
    2Royal Observatory of Belgium, Avenue Circulaire, B-1180 Brussels, Belgium
    Abstract
    A study of the cyclic fluctuations in the earth’s rotation, the geomagnetic field, the global atmospheric circulation and solar activity reveals the existence of 50-day and 120-day oscillations common to all. Our results, as well as the results obtained by radiometric measurements from the satellites Nimbus-7 and the Solar Maximum Mission (Wilson 1982; Pap 1985), suggest that their origin lies in the physical processes in the sun. The mechanism remains unexplained but from this work it follows that the role of the interplanetary magnetic field could very well be important.

  97. Paul Vaughan (15:06:46) :
    Re: tallbloke (14:10:32)
    Don’t trust Gross’s percentage estimates.

    I don’t trust anyones estimates except mine. 😉
    I downloaded the LOD data and compared it to changes in Atmospheric angular momentum. What I discovered was than AAM did indeed only account for a small proportion of changes in LOD, roughly 10%.
    So, what about the rest? The info I’ve seen on changes caused by oceanic temperature shifts don’t account for much of LOD change either, so what is left but what’s under the Earth’s surface?

  98. The geomagnetic, mantle, solar, lunar influences on angular momentum are interesting.
    But to tie them to the ENSO would also require a seasonal component as well since about 80% of El Ninos, La Ninas occur in the November to January period. It is more likely, a seasonal atmospheric or ocean cycle influence is the driver.

  99. tallbloke (16:16:33) “I downloaded the LOD data and compared it to changes in Atmospheric angular momentum. What I discovered was than AAM did indeed only account for a small proportion of changes in LOD, roughly 10%.”
    You need to remove (from LOD) the decadal oscillations to see what Sidorenkov & others are talking about. Also, in order to gain helpful perspective on the layers of confounding, I highly recommend reading Barkin.
    I’ll leave commentary on physical mechanisms to Ninderthana & others who are more qualified to address that apect of these multidisciplinary matters.

    Bill Illis (16:19:48) “to tie them to the ENSO would also require a seasonal component”
    Thanks for this note. If you have any related links/articles to share, that will be appreciated.

  100. jorgekafkazar (14:19:19) : In response to my reply to Espen, “I don’t believe the researchers have identified one particular cause for the relaxation of the trade winds. It may change per El Nino,” you wrote, “Given all the mention, data massage, and animation of El Nino itself, it would seem that relaxation of the trade winds is all too quickly shrugged off.”
    I wasn’t shrugging off the relaxation of trade winds as an initiator of ENSO events, nor do I think researchers are neglecting it. I believe they simply haven’t found an initiator that is constant or dominant.
    Regards

  101. John Finn (12:09:38) “Why do you say this?”
    The patterns shared by a variety of solar/geophysical variables are nonrandom. I will leave commentary on the physics to the physicists.

  102. Bill Illis (16:19:48) “80% of El Ninos, La Ninas occur in the November to January period”
    I adjusted a wavelet algorithm in light of this insight which you have shared — the result is a pattern 1/4-cycle out of phase with the timing of the blue dots here:
    http://www.sfu.ca/~plv/RegimeChangePoints.PNG
    Annual ENSO variability “fishtails” in the years just-after major climate shifts.

  103. Bob Tisdale (17:25:40) : “I wasn’t shrugging off the relaxation of trade winds as an initiator of ENSO events, nor do I think researchers are neglecting it. I believe they simply haven’t found an initiator that is constant or dominant.”
    Sorry, didn’t mean to imply that you were. It’s just that trade wind relaxation is such an important part of the entire system, that I’d expect to see more about it on climate blogs. Doesn’t it deserve more attention or perhaps a thread of its own?

  104. John Finn (12:09:38) :
    Paul Vaughan (07:27:37) :” ….I have become convinced beyond all shadow of a doubt that the arguments that the sun & solar system have no effect on terrestrial climate are not only misleading, but also both ludicrous & scandalous.”
    Why do you say this? Could you describe the mechanism by which the sun & solar system affects terrestrial climate?

    1. Radiation heats us up
    2. Solar wind, storms – interacts with our atmosphere also keeps cosmic radiation at bay – or not
    3. Interplanetary dust along the solar plane which we plow through every 100,000 years

  105. 1. Radiation heats us up
    The sun’s output doesn’t vary sufficiently to explain 20th century warming. This is why we have a number of alternative “theories” such as ….
    2. Solar wind, storms – interacts with our atmosphere also keeps cosmic radiation at bay – or not
    There has been no trend in GCRs in the past 40-odd years. There has been an upward trend in temperatures.
    3. Interplanetary dust along the solar plane which we plow through every 100,000 years
    Not really relevant on multi-decadal/centennial timescales.

  106. Re: John Finn (02:39:07)
    Picking-off weak arguments is easy; meanwhile there are nonrandom patterns that have not been explained.

  107. Paul Vaughan (10:17:45) :
    Re: John Finn (02:39:07)
    Picking-off weak arguments is easy; meanwhile there are nonrandom patterns that have not been explained.

    what “nonrandom events”?

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