Spencer: Global Average Sea Surface Temperatures Poised for a Plunge

Global Average Sea Surface Temperatures Poised for a Plunge

by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Just an update…as the following graph shows, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) along the equatorial Pacific (“Nino3.4″ region, red lines) have been plunging, and global average SSTs have turned the corner, too. (Click on the image for the full-size, undistorted version. Note the global values have been multiplied by 10 for display purposes.)

The corresponding sea level pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin (SOI index, next graph) shows a rapid transition toward La Nina conditions is developing.

Being a believer in natural, internal cycles in the climate system, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that global-average SSTs will plunge over the next couple of months. Based upon past experience, it will take a month or two for our (UAH) tropospheric temperatures to then follow suit.

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intrepid_wanders

Ahhh… this might be what Bob Tisdale was seeing in the SSTs…
http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/sst-has-dropped-below-zero-anomaly/

There appear to be a long term cycle to intense El’Ninos; if so a prolong period at the bottom of the cycle is due.
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC22.htm

Wow! Joe Bastardi also thinks we’re headed for a deep La Nina. Could it make 08 look warm?

geo

So, what do we need to hit on the anomaly, and when, to avoid “2010 hottest year” headlines? April already showed some decrease, presumably May and June will as well, and then by July what Roy is talking about here should be kicking in.

Michael

will they stay down or is this just another flash crash?

JOhn

OT
Anthony,
I live in Rocklin, ca. It seems to me that the weather (at least in Nor Cal) the last 3 years or so has been cooler…..fall, spring and summer…..can’t tell with winter.
Maybe around when the PDO changed……?? Of course this is anecdotal.
Any evidence of this?
Thanks JOhn

Murray Carpenter
kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Those seas are gonna chill up,
Put on a happy face!
Warmers will then go dry up,
Put on a happy face!

Henry chance

This is explained by global warming.

R. Gates

As Dr. Spencer acknowledges, there is nothing at all unusual in this kind of natural cycle (i.e. drop) after an El Nino, and exactly the same kind of fall was seen after the 1998 El Nino. The more interesting question is how low will the ocean temps go and how much will the tropo temps be affected. I doubt we’ll see the La Nina low temps we saw in 2008, though temps may fall somewhere to the 2009 low.

Doug

Uh, why not just change the scale instead of multiplying the data by 10? Makes no sense to me.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Trenberth’s missing heat went into hiding in the ocean, where it was subsequently presumed to be murdered. Forensic evidence from the alleged crime scene to be processed and analyzed by Dr. Spencer. From the initial statement to the press by investigators: “Knowledgeable people assured us it was hiding deep in there, but so far we have found no credible evidence to that effect. At this point we will have to verify first that it even existed at all, and we may soon be bringing those people in for questioning.”

rbateman

No, not altogether unusual, the drop to La Nina after El Nino. What Joe Bastardi is predicting is the drop to the type of La Nina’s of the 1950’s. The effect on humans will be rather pronounced, as what we are used to is 3 decades of warm El Ninos.
Don’t step on my La Nina frosted Shoes.

R. Gates

And I’m wondering why the AGW skeptical group is not talking about this major study on the overall warming trend of the oceans (not the cyclical rise and fall of temps based on the cycle of El Nino/La Nina):
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v465/n7296/pdf/nature09043.pdf
So while it is interesting to note the ENSO cycles, PDO, etc., more important for the long term climate are the longer term trends.

Tesla_X

Um…so does this mean I’m wearing shorts or sweaters this summer?

geo

R. Gates says:
May 20, 2010 at 3:31 pm
And I’m wondering why the AGW skeptical group is not talking about this major study on the overall warming trend of the oceans (not the cyclical rise and fall of temps based on the cycle of El Nino/La Nina):
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v465/n7296/pdf/nature09043.pdf
So while it is interesting to note the ENSO cycles, PDO, etc., more important for the long term climate are the longer term trends.
+++
Because it is uncontroversial to either side to note that 1993 was significantly cooler than 2008? Lovely Mt. Pinatubo cherry-pick there tho.

kwik

R. Gates says:
May 20, 2010 at 3:31 pm
Yes, it is interesting. The sun is warming the ocean.Can you explain to me why it has anything to do with CO2? How much less would the ocean be warmed by the sun, if we, say, reduced CO2 to 0.028% , instead of 0.045% (or so)

harrywr2

Doug says:
May 20, 2010 at 3:24 pm
“Uh, why not just change the scale instead of multiplying the data by 10? Makes no sense to me.”
There are two lines, global oceans and equatorial(5 degrees north to south).
Dr Spencer multiplied the swing in the global oceans by 10 so one could see the global ocean temps track with the equatorial temps with a time small lag.

Crashex

R. Gates,
That paper addresses a 1993 to 2008 thermal trend analysis. Not a long term climate trend and much less than the estimated 30 to 60 year ENSO cycles.
The theory that stronger La Nina cycles will dominate for the next decade or two has interested people watching the shorter term swings. Are you betting for or against a long and strong La Nina?

kim

We are cooling, folks; for how long even kim doesn’t know.
===============

Ivan

R Gates,
I am not really sure what you mean by “temps may fall somewhere to the 2009 low”? 2009 was a relatively warm, El Nino year. What is the basis to believe that strong La Nina would bring about equally high temperature as those produced by a moderate El Nino in 2009?

Phil Clarke

Hi Kim,
FYI http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/execute.csh?amsutemps
Select ‘near surface layer’. Check as many boxes as you like and then ‘Redraw’
Arguably more blogworthy than what Dr Spencer chose to post about …..

Gail Combs

R. Gates says:
May 20, 2010 at 3:31 pm
And I’m wondering why the AGW skeptical group is not talking about this major study on the overall warming trend of the oceans (not the cyclical rise and fall of temps based on the cycle of El Nino/La Nina):
_____________________________________________________________________
You expect me to read an article that starts out with the word “Robust”????
We already know there is a pseudo-60 year cycle, Vukcevic graphs it for you and so did Bob Tisdale. Bob even showed the “step function” of the ocean charging with heat after the large El Ninos. Now we seem to have hit the top of that cycle and are probably headed towards lower temperatures. This has been expected for the last couple of years and now we see the start of it.

Phil Clarke

Apologies, messed up the URL- try here: http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/

Ben

We will cool for roughly the next 15-20 years if past experience tells us anything, then go back to a warming trend. If history tells us anything, we will be smothered with the next ice age discussions starting in about 5 years then concluding in roughly 2035 after the cooling cycle has finished it buisness and is long gone…
Natural cycles are so much fun when you change gears every 30 years and people wonder why there is so much dis-trust for climate scientists…

jorgekafkazar

R. Gates says: “As Dr. Spencer acknowledges, there is nothing at all unusual in this kind of natural cycle (i.e. drop) after an El Nino, and exactly the same kind of fall was seen after the 1998 El Nino. The more interesting question is how low will the ocean temps go and how much will the tropo temps be affected. I doubt we’ll see the La Nina low temps we saw in 2008, though temps may fall somewhere to the 2009 low.”
You may be right, but the drop-off in the NINO 3.4 SST anomaly is the steepest since 1998, or close to it. I shan’t get excited much either way. El Ninos are heat shedding mechanisms and vice versa. We’ll soon know.

FergalR

Doug says:
May 20, 2010 at 3:24 pm
Uh, why not just change the scale instead of multiplying the data by 10? Makes no sense to me.
—————–
Uh Doug not all of us have a 2 meter wide monitor sitting on its side hooked up to our computers, at least until our cheques from Big Oil clear.

It’s really strange for SST to be this high with SOI to so low, provided you’ve only been observing the planet for 30 years. If I were Dr. Trenberth I’d be saying “We don’t understand” right now, as per usual.

rbateman

R. Gates says:
May 20, 2010 at 3:31 pm
And I’m wondering why you directed to a pay-per-view magazine study.
Are you a Nature fan?

RobertM

Hmmm, can’t have that, it must be time for an “adjustment”!

Larry T

R. Gates says:
May 20, 2010 at 3:31 pm
And I’m wondering why the AGW skeptical group is not talking about this major study on the overall warming trend of the oceans (not the cyclical rise and fall of temps based on the cycle of El Nino/La Nina):
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v465/n7296/pdf/nature09043.pdf
So while it is interesting to note the ENSO cycles, PDO, etc., more important for the long term climate are the longer term trends.

I would only look at studies in good scientific journals and I no longer consider nature to be one.

Alan S. Blue

Has anyone plotted the derivative (or best-estimate thereof) for the smoothed fit? Because that would appear to be one of the steepest 3 month periods on record from the AMSR-E instrument.

I noticed that there seems to be a correlation between El Nino / La Nina events and global temperatures. More El Nino events than La Nina events give a warmer average temperature on the planet, and the temperature increases stagnate when there are approximately equal La Ninas and El Ninos. Greater La Ninas than El Ninos give a decline in planetary temperatures. However, the El Nino/La Nina data record extends only to the 1950s, so I can’t really claim it’s an historic phenomenon.

JimF

So, R. Gates:
What do you make of (And I’m wondering why the AGW skeptical group is not talking about) this major study? Just wondering.

tommy

@R. Gates
“And I’m wondering why the AGW skeptical group is not talking about this major study on the overall warming trend of the oceans (not the cyclical rise and fall of temps based on the cycle of El Nino/La Nina)”
Would be more interesting if it didnt stop at 2008. All that paper proves is that oceans warmed somewhat between 93-2008, which proves nothing when it comes to climate.

The cool PDO (20 to 30 years) has resumed, so we should see more La Ninas, weaker El Ninos, and cooler temperatures ahead, according to Joe D’Aleo and Joe Bastardi.
Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at the Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, predicts that a new “Little Ice Age” could begin as early as 2014. Abdussamatov says that sunspot activity should reach a new minimum in 2042, resulting in a deep global temperature minimum in the years 2055-2060.
Congress needs to force the cap-and-trade bill down our throats before the onset of colder temperatures. The good news: When the cool-down finally arrives, we won’t have to hear any more global warming nonsense.

benpal

It’s worse than we thought.
“FOUR mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park have died from extreme cold and rainy conditions.”
http://snipurl.com/wl1wd

jorgekafkazar

Alan S. Blue says: “Has anyone plotted the derivative (or best-estimate thereof) for the smoothed fit? Because that would appear to be one of the steepest 3 month periods on record from the AMSR-E instrument.”
It’s no record setter, but is on the rare side. Maybe 6 or 7 similar drops in the record, though I’m not sure the graph accuracy is all that good. Re your suggestion, derivatives cause a loss in plot accuracy. The error in the graph will be increased even more, so I’m not sure whether any valid conclusions could be drawn. Worth a look, sure, but mostly for amusement.

Anu
richcar 1225

The Nature paper claims there has ocean heat accumulation that translates into a radiative imbalance of .53 to .75 W/M2 from 1993 to 2008. However since 2002 Argo demonstrates no ocean heating according to Willis.
http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/global_change_analysis.html#temp
Does anybody have an idea of what Argo has revealed since 2008?. Did the current El nino result in added ocean heat content or released heat from the oceans?
I suspect the entire global warming movement will live or die with Argo. Forget atmospheric temperatures.

Pamela Gray

The greatest source and cause of weather climate variability and long term oscillation is in the oceans and trade winds. Understand those, and you understand warming and cooling trends upon the land. C02 is a sliver in your finger compared to the forest of oceans.

nedhead

#
kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
May 20, 2010 at 3:27 pm
Trenberth’s missing heat went into hiding in the ocean, where it was subsequently presumed to be murdered. Forensic evidence from the alleged crime scene to be processed and analyzed by Dr. Spencer. From the initial statement to the press by investigators: “Knowledgeable people assured us it was hiding deep in there, but so far we have found no credible evidence to that effect. At this point we will have to verify first that it even existed at all, and we may soon be bringing those people in for questioning.”
—————-
Uh…Kadaka…why do you equate sea surface temperatures SSTs with deep ocean temperatures? Don’t you realize they are not the same thing?
_

wayne

Pamela Gray says:
May 20, 2010 at 6:18 pm
The greatest source and cause of weather climate variability and long term oscillation is in the oceans and trade winds. Understand those, and you understand warming and cooling trends upon the land. C02 is a sliver in your finger compared to the forest of oceans.
Exactly Pamela, and I would add an explanation point on the wind.
A calm windless stagnated ocean cannot evaporate to any appreciable amount little matter of what is the temperature, some don’t really understand the evaporation/condensation surface interface. Now add wind, linear or from convection, and then you have something happening, once again, little matter of the temperature even though it does affect the rate of course but the wind speed easily trumps it!

MattN

Just as I suspected. Forget about a record. 1998 is safe…

Robert of Ottawa

pgosselin,
Yeah, I enjoy Joe Bastardi too. He’s also predicting a strong hurricane season. This leads to the possibility of the AGWers pointing at the hurricanes and saying “I told you so” only then to be hit by a cold cold winter and spring. We shall see. The empirical science that hte AGWers refuse is still being done, whether they like it or not. They can only distort (sorry, adjust) the data so much.

Robert of Ottawa

Pamel Gray
C02 is a sliver in your finger compared to the forest of oceans.
Nice metaphorical mix 🙂 You should write political speeches 🙂

wayne

Pamela, I should have added that when the wind gets high enough to break the wave tops the surface area shoots up a hugely, now with wind to carry away the moisture and a huge surface area exposed a serious amount of water vapor can be stripped away from the surface in no time, but surely everyone understands that, I realize you do. Well, maybe someone not savvy on science might read this and say, “Gee, I didn’t quite realize that!”.

Tom H

This would explain the enormous amount of unseasonal rain in the north of Australia the past week. It follows a 3C to 4C higher monthly average in Broome for April and nearly as much for Jan and Feb, caused by well above average sea temperatures in the area between NW Australia and Indonesia. Temperatures so far for May are almost back to the monthly average following this rain.

richcar 1225

I assume Trenbarth’s statement that 50 % of the heat is missing is based on the .52 w/m2 radiative imbalance inferred from the ocean heat content accumulation curve from 1993 to 2008 as discussed in the Nature paper when compared to the 1 w/M2 radiative imbalance estimated from the Ceres Satellite data. However from 2002 to 2008 the Argo data shows no accumulation. Since 2008 the arctic ice cap has rapidly grown and is probably releasing heat at .2 w/m2 which would then need to be subtracted from any heat accumulation since 2008 gained from the current El Nino. With the impending drop in SST I bet Argo will ultimatly reveal heat loss since 2002.

DR

ftp://ftp.nodc.noaa.gov/pub/data.nodc/woa/DATA_ANALYSIS/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/DATA/basin/yearly/h22-w0-700m.dat
The anomalous step change from 2002-2003 is a step change (3.5 deg) during the transition from XBT to ARGO, something which Josh Willis has acknowledged in exchanges with RPS, yet mysteriously is not mentioned in the Nature article.
These pro-AGW advocates just can’t bring themselves to to admit things are not working out as planned.

R. Gates

Crashex says:
May 20, 2010 at 3:55 pm
R. Gates,
That paper addresses a 1993 to 2008 thermal trend analysis. Not a long term climate trend and much less than the estimated 30 to 60 year ENSO cycles.
The theory that stronger La Nina cycles will dominate for the next decade or two has interested people watching the shorter term swings. Are you betting for or against a long and strong La Nina?
______________
I never bet on the weather, but I don’t see the La Nina hitting the low ocean temps we saw in the dip in late 2007/early 2008 of -2.5, more like the range we saw in late 2008/early 2009 of -1.5, and I think the odds are good for us to see a stronger El Nino in 2012/13 than we just had
__________
JimF says:
May 20, 2010 at 5:26 pm
So, R. Gates:
What do you make of (And I’m wondering why the AGW skeptical group is not talking about) this major study? Just wondering.
____________________
This study is confirmation of predicitons made by AGWT about the warming of the oceans using multiple data sets. It is not a landmark study, but for those, like me, who remain 25% skeptical about AGW, it begins to nudge me further down the road.
____________
Ivan says:
May 20, 2010 at 4:10 pm
R Gates,
I am not really sure what you mean by “temps may fall somewhere to the 2009 low”? 2009 was a relatively warm, El Nino year. What is the basis to believe that strong La Nina would bring about equally high temperature as those produced by a moderate El Nino in 2009?
_________
Ivan, I really should have said “late 2008/early 2009. There was a second downturn in the La Nina temps, that didn’t go as far down at the late 2007/early 2008 low. (only -1.5 versus -2.5) I think the next La Nina will see this range (-1.5)