La Niña Is Not The Opposite Of El Niño – The Videos

Thursday, June 10, 2010

La Niña Is Not The Opposite Of El Niño – The Videos

Weather noise and seasonal variability have stifled my previous attempts to animate noisy datasets like TLT anomalies. That noise made it difficult, at best, to determine what is taking place. A short example of a .gif animation of monthly TLT anomaly maps is shown in Figure 1.

http://i46.tinypic.com/2zqznnn.jpg

Figure 1 – Sample Animation – Not Used In Video

Recently, I began animating maps that represent 12-month averages of “noisy” datasets with good results. The weather noise and seasonal variations are gone, for the most part. The 12-month-averaged TLT anomaly maps present a much “smoother” animation, as shown in the .gif sample, Figure 2.

http://i48.tinypic.com/2gt6slz.jpg

Figure 2 – Sample Of Animation Used In Video

In the video, I liken the effect to smoothing the data in a time-series graph with a 12-month filter, Figure 3.

http://i48.tinypic.com/160wk1w.jpg

Figure 3 – Smoothed Time-Series Graph

VIDEO DESCRIPTION

The following 2-part video series provides detailed descriptions, time-series graphs, and animations of the processes that take place during El Niño and La Niña events. It uses TLT, SST, Total Cloud Amount, Sea Level, and Downward Shortwave Radiation anomalies to help illustrate the significant differences between the 1997/98 El Niño and the 1998/99/00/01 La Niña.

The videos also help illustrate why the effects of ENSO cannot be removed from the global surface temperature record by simply subtracting scaled and lagged NINO3.4 SST anomalies (or another ENSO index) from global temperature anomalies. There are significant residuals that contribute to global temperature anomaly trends, and these residuals are not accounted for with the simple methods used in climate studies such as Thompson et al (2009). Link (with paywall) to Thompson et al (2009):

http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2009JCLI3089.1

I’ve also included animations that compare global SST anomalies with the other datasets. A sample frame that compares SST and TLT anomalies is shown in Figure 4. To indicate the timing of the maps as they proceed from El Niño to La Niña, many of the animations also include time-series graphs that fill in as time progresses.

http://i49.tinypic.com/2yl22bk.jpg

Figure 4 – Sample Frame From Animation Of Two Datasets

THE VIDEOS

Please view the animations full screen and, if possible, in high definition.

Part 1

YouTube Link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et3wjKKCy5o

####################

Part 2

YouTube Link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6bmb8hi6u0

SOURCES AND DATASETS

The maps were created using the map-making feature of the KNMI Climate Explorer, which was also used for the data in the time-series graphs.

http://climexp.knmi.nl/selectfield_obs.cgi?someone@somewhere

The primary SST and SST anomaly data used in the animations and graphs are NOAA/Reynolds Optimum Interpolation (OI.v2) SST.

http://www.emc.ncep.noaa.gov/research/cmb/sst_analysis/

For the comparison to tropical Pacific Ocean Heat Content, a longer-term SST dataset was required, and for that graph, I used Kaplan/Reynolds (OI.v2) NINO3.4 SST anomalies from the Monthly climate indices webpage of the KNMI Climate Explorer. Link to Kaplan overview:

http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/guide/Data/kaplan_sst.html

The other datasets used in the videos are also available through the KNMI Climate Explorer and they include:

1. International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) Total Cloud Amount data. Link:

http://isccp.giss.nasa.gov/projects/flux.html

2. CAMS-OPI [Climate Anomaly Monitoring System (“CAMS”) and OLR Precipitation Index (“OPI”)] precipitation data. Link:

http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/global_precip/html/wpage.cams_opi.html

3. RSS MSU Lower Troposphere Temperature (TLT) anomalies. Link:

http://www.remss.com/msu/msu_data_description.html

4. CLS (AVISO) Sea Level anomalies. Link:

http://www.aviso.oceanobs.com/en/news/ocean-indicators/mean-sea-level/

5. NCEP/DOE Reanalysis-2 Surface Downward Shortwave Radiation Flux (dswrfsfc) anomalies. Link:

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/wesley/reanalysis2/kana/reanl2-1.htm

There is also an animation of the Equatorial Subsurface Temperature Cross-sections that are available through the ECMWF website:

http://www.ecmwf.int/products/forecasts/d/charts/ocean/reanalysis/xzmaps/Monthly!monthly!201004!Full%20field!Temperature!/

The Trade Wind Index (5S-5N, 135W-180) Anomaly data is available through the NOAA CPC website. Scroll down to the second grouping for the anomaly data:

http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/data/indices/wpac850

FURTHER DISCUSSIONS

The first detailed posts on the multiyear aftereffects of El Nino events are:

Can El Nino Events Explain All of the Global Warming Since 1976? – Part 1

And:

Can El Nino Events Explain All of the Global Warming Since 1976? – Part 2

And:

Supplement To “Can El Nino Events Explain All Of The Warming Since 1976?”

And:

Supplement 2 To “Can El Nino Events Explain All Of The Warming Since 1976?”

The impacts of these El Nino events on the North Atlantic are discussed in:

There Are Also El Nino-Induced Step Changes In The North Atlantic

And:

Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation Data

The Lower Troposphere Temperature (TLT) anomaly responses are discussed in:

RSS MSU TLT Time-Latitude Plots… Show Climate Responses That Cannot Be Easily Illustrated With Time-Series Graphs Alone

And:

El Ninos Create Step Changes in TLT of the Northern Hemisphere Mid Latitudes

The misrepresentation of ENSO in climate studies are discussed in the following (The discussions are similar but there are differences in the presentation):

Climate Studies Misrepresent The Effects Of El Nino And La Nina Events

And:

The Relationship Between ENSO And Global Surface Temperature Is Not Linear

And:

Multiple Wrongs Don’t Make A Right, Especially When It Comes To Determining The Impacts Of ENSO

And:

Regression Analyses Do Not Capture The Multiyear Aftereffects Of Significant El Nino Events.”

Posts related to the effects of ENSO on Ocean Heat Content are here:

ENSO Dominates NODC Ocean Heat Content (0-700 Meters) Data

And:

North Atlantic Ocean Heat Content (0-700 Meters) Is Governed By Natural Variables

And:

North Pacific Ocean Heat Content Shift In The Late 1980s

Detailed technical discussions can be found here:

More Detail On The Multiyear Aftereffects Of ENSO – Part 1 – El Nino Events Warm The Oceans

And:

More Detail On The Multiyear Aftereffects Of ENSO – Part 2 – La Nina Events Recharge The Heat Released By El Nino Events AND…During Major Traditional ENSO Events, Warm Water Is Redistributed Via Ocean Currents.

And:

More Detail On The Multiyear Aftereffects Of ENSO – Part 3 – East Indian & West Pacific Oceans Can Warm In Response To Both El Nino & La Nina Events

Posted by Bob Tisdale at 9:32 AM

Advertisements

65 thoughts on “La Niña Is Not The Opposite Of El Niño – The Videos

  1. Thanks, Anthony.
    Let me answer a question that has already been asked about the post, with hope of heading off repeats. The question: “If both El Nino and La Nina result in warming of the East Indian/West Pacific Ocean, how can these basins cool?”
    The East Indian And West Pacific Ocean dataset isn’t an isolated, stand-alone basin. Those portions of the oceans are constantly mixing with the adjacent portions of the North and South Pacific and Indian Oceans. They also don’t remain elevated after the cumulative effect of an El Nino and La Nina event; that is, they aren’t rising and staying at a new level indefinitely. There is decay in the temperature, but when they are elevated, they are adding to the temperature of the adjoining parts of the ocean basins.
    One thing is certain: there are ENSO residuals that are not accounted for using the methods of Thompson et al, and those residuals add to the positive trend.

  2. Bob, you describe a plausible set of related cycles. However, you seem to need to do difficult things, like push warm water to depth, so it can later rise to give surface heat. Such cycles cannot continue forever because they consume energy.
    I’m confused (my fault) as to whether you are describing a closed heat system, where the mechanism is geographic redistribution of what is available, or a more open system where heat can be taken in and given out from the globe. If additional heat can be taken in, what is its source?
    Please snip if I’m failing to comprehend.

  3. A fine piece of work with lots to chew on.
    I assume those all important residuals would include variable interactions between the different ocean basins as energy is moved over time from equatorial regions to the poles.
    The question of causation remains open however and in particular the question as to whether the ENSO phenomenon is itself a climate driver causing air circulation changes or whether the air circulation changes drive ENSO.
    It might be a combination of the two as ocean variability affects the atmosphere from the equator whilst as I propose elsewhere solar variability affects the atmosphere from the poles with ENSO likely to be part of the global climate response.
    In oder to account for longer air circulation changes over the period from MWP to LIA and then to date I think we need to attribute a climate forcing ability to the oceans themselves possibly via small variations in the temperature of the water along the horizontal route of the thermohaline circulation.

  4. Thanks Bob – a thorough piece of work that I’ll look into in greater detail later. First thing that struck me is that, just like this year, the 1997/8 El Nino brought much warmer-than-usual temperatures to Canada. Is there a known mechanism for this (I’m guessing the Kuroshio current is made warmer by ENSO)?

  5. Nice work, Bob. It was fascinating to see the animated map side by side with the animated graph.

  6. Bob-
    This is a fantastic video! The visualizations provide an excellent tool to help understand the changes in ocean surface temperatures and, in particular, sea level. Thanks for all of your work on this!

  7. This is really good – tying a lot of impacts together into a more comprehensive view. I like bringing the cloudiness and the impact of solar short-wave radiation into the picture (and I note that out-going long-wave radiation is also part of this same issue).
    I think you are right that there are differences in the impact/changes from a La Nina versus an El Nino and it is not a one-for-one opposite.
    One thing which might be part of the way you explained the recharge/discharge idea is that we have not had what would be described as a Super-La Nina. It looks like there are least 5 Super El Ninos in the record back to 1862 but there are no Super La Ninas. Maybe the recharge/discharge idea places a limit on that.

  8. Bob, your series of posts, graphs, and animations are a most important contribution to our understanding of both weather and climate — and the insignificance of greenhouse gases. For some reason, the material you present has been difficult for me to understand even though I read every post. These two animations work for my untrained mind better than anything else. I am grateful for your soldiering on and on and on. One of these days a large number of readers will be fully educated re El Nino and La Nina. I am still working at it. Thanks.

  9. So, given enough time and El Nino’s and La Nina’s (they are not opposing ends of the sine any more?) the Earth residually turns into Venus.
    I don’t know what else to conclude from all this.

  10. One of the crucial questions is, is the theoretically calculated IR “backradiance” from “greenhouse gases” able to increase the SST/OHC? Because the oceans do not follow the air temperature, but they rule the temperature of air, and also sea ice cover, air circulation, you name it.
    If there is no physical mechanism, how the theoretically calculated tiny excess of downward IR warms the oceans, the whole theory is bunk.

  11. Great post Bob. The filtered/smoothed images in the video are a great innovation. Was this your idea or are others doing this as well?
    Some questions:
    1. Are there some unique physical characteristics of the PWP area (like ocean depth, etc.) which make this area of the tropical Pacific more “warmable”, and therefore more prone to variability (due to tsi or cloud variability)?
    2. Would detrended SST’s still leave these ENSO residuals?

  12. Bob Tisdale,
    I think it’s time for you to publish your work in a peer reviewed journal.
    Your attention to details is bringing you where Thompson and Jones can’t never get.

  13. rbateman says: “So, given enough time and El Nino’s and La Nina’s (they are not opposing ends of the sine any more?) the Earth residually turns into Venus.
    I don’t know what else to conclude from all this.”
    They are opposing climate variables for most of the globe. Occasionally, they result in a cumulative response over approximately 25% of the global oceans. But keep in mind, as I noted in a comment above, the East Indian And West Pacific Ocean dataset isn’t an isolated, stand-alone basin. Those portions of the oceans are constantly mixing with the adjacent portions of the North and South Pacific and Indian Oceans. They also don’t remain elevated after the cumulative effect of an El Nino and La Nina event; that is, they aren’t rising and staying at a new level indefinitely. There is decay in the temperature, but when they are elevated, they are adding to the temperature of the adjoining parts of the ocean basins.

  14. When there is a LA NIÑA, there is not a southward warm current running along the northern coasts of Peru, instead the usual Humboldt´s current running from antarctica northwards along the west southamerican coast. Then, this cold current SURFACES and it is accompanied, following the same counterclockwise direction, the southern pacific anticyclone, also called the chilean anticyclone. So, it is the sense of gyre what changes, its “polarity”, so to say.
    Southward and Northward are Opposite, are they not now, or is it because South America doesn’t exist anymore now, but Australia and New Zealand?

  15. Keith says: “First thing that struck me is that, just like this year, the 1997/8 El Nino brought much warmer-than-usual temperatures to Canada. Is there a known mechanism for this (I’m guessing the Kuroshio current is made warmer by ENSO)?”
    The mechanism described in papers such as Trenberth et al (2000)…
    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/papers/2000JD000298.pdf
    …are typically referred to as teleconnections. These are caused by the changes in atmospheric circulation that result from the El Niño.
    Trenberth et al write on page 1, “A major part of the ocean heat loss to the atmosphere is through evaporation and thus is realized in the atmosphere as latent heating in precipitation, which drives teleconnections. Reduced precipitation and increased solar radiation in Australia, Southeast Asia, parts of Africa, and northern South America contribute to surface warming that peaks several months after the El Nino event. Teleconnections contribute to the extensive warming over Alaska and western Canada through a deeper Aleutian low and stronger southerly flow into these regions 0–12 months later.”
    Refer also to the color version of Figure 8 on page 18.
    Keep in mind, though, that Trenberth et al (2000) included El Niño Modoki with the “traditional” central and eastern Pacific El Niño events. The correlations may be somewhat different. The 1997/98 El Niño was a central and eastern Pacific El Niño, and the 2009/10 event was an El Niño Modoki.

  16. A note to tech article writers and wannabe writers everywhere: define your acronyms in first use, regardless of whether you think you are talking to your confreres or not. Not everyone interprets your acronyms the same way, as in: “It’s well known that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) …” I hate reading through an article wondering what appears to be the prime subject is , only referred to as “ROTFL” or some such thing… using only the content of the article to try to deduce what the hell yer talking about.

  17. Great work and much to think about. This illustrates the importance of fully understanding the fluid dynamic system we call oceans as they are a much greater influence on the fluid dynamic system we call the atmosphere then most seem or recognize. It also demonstrates not only the lack of understanding we have of these systems but the lack of understanding we have of how they interface. Your hypothesis sure make more sense then most others I have seen.

  18. Kids, ya know, use to have parents; in this case we all know who the father is, the Sun, and we feel the Mother around by her electrical character, she undoubtedly is Gaia.

  19. Stephen Wilde says: “A fine piece of work with lots to chew on.”
    Yup.
    “The question of causation remains open however and in particular the question as to whether the ENSO phenomenon is itself a climate driver causing air circulation changes or whether the air circulation changes drive ENSO.”
    I vote for the former, with the air circulation changes driving LaNiña, in turn.
    “In oder to account for longer air circulation changes over the period from MWP to LIA and then to date I think we need to attribute a climate forcing ability to the oceans themselves possibly via small variations in the temperature of the water along the horizontal route of the thermohaline circulation.”
    Yes, possibly. Perhaps volcanism played a part in this. Dissolved gases have a significant effect on water viscosity and, to a lesser extent, density and temperature.

  20. vukcevic asks: “Has El Nino link(ed) to the Earth’s magnetic field changes?”
    I see no evidence other than an apparently accidental association, so far. Thanks, though. I find your comments interesting.

  21. Bob, when you say
    “One thing is certain: there are ENSO residuals that are not accounted for using the methods of Thompson et al, and those residuals add to the positive trend.”
    am I right to read this as “account for some of the positive trend found by Thompson et al” ? ie that because the decay of temp in the west takes many years – 9 to 11 was it – there is a cycle which blurs the trend and makes the linear trend unreliable, especially as a projection or to conclude its all due to CO2?
    Presumably, analysis over longer timescales should reveal any net temp trend, but if Oceans absorb and release heat over even longer timeframes, how does anyone know what’s going on unless we know ALL the cycles involved, the scale of each of the effects and how they mesh (phase) together to affect “our” temperatures?
    Excuse if these are superficial observations, I don’t pretend to deep knowledge but do wonder in view of the oceans’ heat capacity and complexity, how others can be so certain of what’s going on in the total climate system…

  22. jorgekafkazar says:
    June 11, 2010 at 11:25 am
    Yes, to say that would be blasphemous, but times are changing you know…

  23. As the earth rotates from west to east the current order would be La Niña, but circulation goes clockwise when El Niño appears. Curious, isn´t it?

  24. Geoff Sherrington says: “Bob, you describe a plausible set of related cycles. However, you seem to need to do difficult things, like push warm water to depth, so it can later rise to give surface heat. ”
    Maybe it’s my description. During La Nina and ENSO-neutral phases, the trade winds push warm surface water from east to west. In the west it encounters land mass and it “piles up”. It is physically higher in the west than in the east. Some of the height difference is caused by the temperature difference, but some of it is caused by the trade winds pushing the water to the west. When the trade winds relax, gravity causes the warm water (that had accumulated in the west) to travel to the east.
    Let’s look at it another way. By pushing surface waters from east to west during ENSO-neutral phases, the trade winds create a temperature gradient, where the surface waters are cooler in the east than they are in the west. This can be seen in a temperature profile of equatorial Pacific SST (not anomalies) at the various longitudes. The temperature difference between east and west is more than 4.5 deg C during ENSO-neutral periods:
    http://i49.tinypic.com/33tms61.jpg
    The next illustration shows the equatorial Pacific temperature profile at the peak of the 1997/98 El Niño and at the first peak of the La Niña that followed.
    http://i48.tinypic.com/24deio1.jpg
    The temperature difference between east and west drops to approximately 1.7 deg C during the El Niño because the trade winds have allowed the warmer waters in the west to slosh to the east. The temperature difference between east and west increases to 6.9 deg C during the La Niña, because the trade winds are stronger than they are during ENSO-neutral months.
    There are also equatorial surface and subsurface ocean currents that come into play, Geoff. I wrote a post on the surface currents portion that also includes a video:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/02/equatorial-currents-before-during-and.html
    Did these explanations overcome your concerns? And did they help answer the other questions from your comment?

  25. Layman Lurker says: “The filtered/smoothed images in the video are a great innovation. Was this your idea or are others doing this as well?”
    I’ve never seen it done before.
    You asked, “Are there some unique physical characteristics of the PWP area (like ocean depth, etc.) which make this area of the tropical Pacific more “warmable”, and therefore more prone to variability (due to tsi or cloud variability)?”
    I believe it’s due to a couple of factors. There’s the breadth of the tropical Pacific. It circles almost half of the globe. Also, the trade winds push the surface waters in the tropical Pacific (that have been warmed by the sun) from east to west, but then they encounter the Indonesia land mass and “pile up” there in what is called the Pacific Warm Pool.
    You asked, “Would detrended SST’s still leave these ENSO residuals?”
    What subset of the global oceans are you asking about, or are you asking about detrending global SST anomalies?

  26. Enneagram says: “When there is a LA NIÑA, there is not a southward warm current running along the northern coasts of Peru, instead the usual Humboldt´s current running from antarctica northwards along the west southamerican coast.”
    I’m not sure what you’re driving at, Enneagram. Where in this post or video did I write or imply that there was a “southward warm current running along the northern coasts of Peru” during a La Nina.

  27. jorgekafkazar: You quoted Stephen Wilde, “The question of causation remains open however and in particular the question as to whether the ENSO phenomenon is itself a climate driver causing air circulation changes or whether the air circulation changes drive ENSO.”
    Then you wrote, “I vote for the former, with the air circulation changes driving LaNiña, in turn. ”
    ENSO is a coupled ocean-atmosphere process–a chicken and egg process. The trade winds cause the temperature difference between the eastern and western tropical Pacific, and the temperature difference between the eastern and western tropical Pacific causes the trade winds.

  28. Keith in Hastings UK: You asked, “am I right to read this as ‘account for some of the positive trend found by Thompson et al’ ? ie that because the decay of temp in the west takes many years – 9 to 11 was it – there is a cycle which blurs the trend and makes the linear trend unreliable, especially as a projection or to conclude its all due to CO2?”
    Papers like Thompson et al don’t account for the atypical response of the East Indian and West Pacific Oceans with their simplistic analysis. While the temperatures in the East Indian and West Pacific Oceans are elevated, they are mixing with the other portions of those oceans. This causes the SST anomalies in the East Indian and West Pacific to drop and the SST anomalies in the adjacent portions to rise. In turn, this causes the trend in global SST anomalies to differ from the NINO3.4 SST anomaly trend. But papers like Thompson et al assume that all of the difference is caused by greenhouse gases. (They also miss the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, but that’s another matter entirely.)
    You continued, “Presumably, analysis over longer timescales should reveal any net temp trend…”
    But that trend has been biased upwards by the atypical response of the East Indian and West Pacific Oceans.
    Regards

  29. On December 20 of 1998, as we left Autumn, it was snowing (and to be fair, not sticking) at sea level in the San Francisco Bay Area. The animation makes it apparent how that happened.

  30. Bob, thanks for another outstanding post. As others have exclaimed, the videos are most informative. I need to watch them several times to absorb the information content. At this moment, I’m unable to ‘see the linkage’ between PDO and El Nina/El Nino.
    Job well done …

  31. Paul Coppin says: “A note to tech article writers and wannabe writers everywhere: define your acronyms in first use, regardless of whether you think you are talking to your confreres or not.”
    Sorry. I jumped right into the use of TLT. I’m usually better at defining acronyms.

  32. What subset of the global oceans are you asking about, or are you asking about detrending global SST anomalies?

    Detrend global SST anomalies, but you would look for the residuals in the applicable ocean subsets. Would this not confirm the rebuttal of Thompson et al that you are implying?

  33. Thank you Bob, there is a lot to take in of your fine work. Asking the right questions is a challenge (for me anyway).
    I will jump in.
    1. With the trade winds moving water to the western pacific during La Nina, does the relatively shallow water around Indonesia and Australia/New Guinea form a barrier to this water moving to the Indian Ocean ? (It appears so to me).
    2. Does the Indian Ocean Dipole play a part in this cycle ?

  34. Surprised that anyone could think they are opposites to start with. Just because they happen one after the other doesn’t make them some sort of oceanic Summer/Winter thing…
    Just two obvious examples of the coupled and chaotic forces controlling the climate.

  35. Bob, Thanks for the answer. It is almost complete re my questions, but I’m still searching for your impression of the ultimate source of energy that pushes the water around, etc. Is it as simple as the rotation of the Earth creating surface/air friction?
    Please no not get an impression I’m knocking your work, I’m not – I’m just seeking education.
    I continue to study the “hot 1998 year” and your visualisations help. In some other data, it seems to show globally as a sharp heat pulse about January 1998, with perhaps another about April 1998. It does not seem to spread from an identifiable locus, so to me it remains a mystery. However, within that mystery there might well lurk some important fundamentals. I explore short term anomalies, your preference is for longer events, but there’s a place for both.
    Thank you.

  36. Geoff Sherrington says: “It is almost complete re my questions, but I’m still searching for your impression of the ultimate source of energy that pushes the water around, etc. Is it as simple as the rotation of the Earth creating surface/air friction?”
    As described above there are multiple phenomenon at work. Gravity is one. The Coriolis effect is another. Convection is another.
    Refer to ENSO FAQ webpage by Bill Kessler of NOAA:
    http://faculty.washington.edu/kessler/occasionally-asked-questions.html
    And the one by David Enfield, also of NOAA:
    http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/general/enso_faq/

  37. Keith Minto: You asked, “With the trade winds moving water to the western pacific during La Nina, does the relatively shallow water around Indonesia and Australia/New Guinea form a barrier to this water moving to the Indian Ocean ?”
    The landmass forms a barrier that allows the Pacific Warm Pool to form. There is some transfer from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean by a current called the Indonesian Throughflow.
    You asked, “Does the Indian Ocean Dipole play a part in this cycle?”
    And vice versa. For a place to start, refer to Ashok et al (2001) in that discussion:
    http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frcgc/research/d1/iod/grl_ashok.pdf
    And refer also to the JPL animation of Sea Level anomalies. Watch for the Rossby wave carrying warm water from east to west in the Indian Ocean during the 1997/98 El Nino, then the blast of elevated sea level in the western tropical Indian Ocean.

    There is also a spike in the western tropical Indian Ocean SST anomalies at that time. It appears it also occurs during other major El Nino events:
    http://i49.tinypic.com/29uu83m.jpg

  38. jeef says: “Surprised that anyone could think they are opposites to start with.”
    But that’s how they are presented:
    http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensofaq.shtml#NINACHAR
    NOAA writes, “La Nina- related oceanic and atmospheric conditions are generally opposite to those of El Niño.”
    And scrolling down to the discussion of the main differences between El Nino and La Nina, NOAA writes, “El Niño and La Niña represent opposite extremes in the naturally occurring climate cycle referred to as the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). ”
    When in actuality, La Nina is simply an exaggeration of the ENSO-neutral phase, while El Nino includes shifts in locations of warm surface and subsurface waters and convection and the reversal of “normal” trade winds and ocean currents. I often think of La Nina as nature overshooting its goal while it attempts to return to a normal state.

  39. Layman Lurker says: “Detrend global SST anomalies, but you would look for the residuals in the applicable ocean subsets. Would this not confirm the rebuttal of Thompson et al that you are implying?”
    Detrending Global SST anomalies and those of the other datasets adds complexity to the discussion. It also doesn’t help to illustrate the differences that much, but it was worth a look. Here’s a graph of detrended global SST anomalies versus detrended and scaled NINO3.4 SST anomalies:
    http://i49.tinypic.com/21n34p0.jpg
    And East Indian & West Pacific SST anomalies versus detrended and scaled NINO3.4 SST anomalies:
    http://i47.tinypic.com/2vabkup.jpg
    And East Pacific, Atlantic, & West Indian SST anomalies verus versus detrended and scaled NINO3.4 SST anomalies:
    http://i50.tinypic.com/de21vs.jpg
    I also looked at subtracting the scaled NINO3.4 SST anomalies from the datasets to show the residuals, but that too added complexity. These topics are complex and confusing as is.

  40. I like the colored graph that shows how the warm waters allowed to develop under El Nino conditions are then pushed to the West and migrate over time to the poles as the wind picks up again. Their trail leaves cooler waters behind. This cycling oscillating chaotic imbalanced system made up of Solar IR, precip, wind (atmospheric pressure differentials), oceanic currents, and topographical boundaries explains much related to land temperatures.
    But this is not the only game in town. If this system is on its own chaotic oscillation timing, it stands to reason that other parts of the globe have systems that also work in similar ways and on their own somewhat chaotic oscillating timing. And since the world is not made up of separate contained systems, these systems overlap with each other and even occasionally invade quite deeply into each other. These interactions likely set up the occasional decades long rise or fall in temperatures.

  41. The article has raised many comments and questions that point to the complexity of the subject of climate change, global warming and global cooling. It is very clear that the debate is far from over. Water in the atmosphere is a dynamic variable in itself, which I believe is far more influential in causing changes than the other greenhouse gasses that has been the focus of the debate. The gathering of moisture by hurricanes and storms, the evaporation from the oceans, the moisture traps of forests as well as its vapor production, the hydrologic cycle acceleration, the infinite capacity of the atmosphere to hold water as in Venus, etc. are still to be understood in terms of their combined effect upon climate. And so it is still too early to lay down the verdict. Let the debates continue without having to label the sides as deniers and climate mafia. No side has yet proven correctness without doubt as would meet the standard of the scientific method to arrive at any conclusion. More learning and better understanding is still needed.

  42. Bob Tisdale is truly masterful in graphic presentations of SST-related data that are clear and instructive. When dealing with anomalies, especially temporally-smoothed ones, however, care needs to excercised in associating apparent migrations of anomaly values with actual flows of mass or heat. In the case of the latter, a water mass showing a negative temporal anomaly can be warmer than an adjoining mass showing a positive one. The correspondence of statistical temperature anomalies to actual physical levels is not one that permits unambiguous inferences about physical flows to be made.
    In studying currents, oceanographers use both salinty and ACTUAL temperature as a function of depth (STD) as a water-mass tracer. It’s been decades since I’ve worked with equatorial STD data, but I don’t recall ever seeing a profile where subsurface waters were actually warmer. Nor do equatorial waters overturn in either phase of ENSO. Thus I’m sceptical of any claim that the surface is ever warmed by heat transport from below. And the whole idea of WestPac waters “sloshing” back to the east during El Ninos is vague, at best. There are east-flowing equatorial countercurrents, but I doubt that they strengthen with increased countervailing winds. These objections aside, Bob’s presentation is, as usual, quite fascinating.

  43. sky: You wrote, “Thus I’m sceptical of any claim that the surface is ever warmed by heat transport from below.”
    Please advise where in the post I wrote “the surface is ever warmed by heat transport from below.” I did not present subsurface equatorial Pacific anomalies in these video, even though they can and do show warmer anomalies rising to the surface:

    You wrote, “And the whole idea of WestPac waters ‘sloshing’ back to the east during El Ninos is vague, at best. There are east-flowing equatorial countercurrents, but I doubt that they strengthen with increased countervailing winds.”
    The equatorial countercurrent do strengthen. And I’m sure you could find papers that discussed it if you searched, but to save you some time, I had also prepared a post with videos on just that subject:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/02/equatorial-currents-before-during-and.html
    Also refer to the descriptions of ENSO by Bill Kessler of NOAA in his FAQ webpage:
    http://faculty.washington.edu/kessler/occasionally-asked-questions.html
    I’m not the only person using the word slosh in discussions of ENSO.

  44. I’m thinking of how many tens of thousands of sailors who languished in the tropic heat, stuck for days and weeks in the equatorial doldrums would have liked to have been be able to see (and predict) these large scale wind and current movements before they set out.

  45. sky: To add to my reply above, you wrote, “It’s been decades since I’ve worked with equatorial STD data, but I don’t recall ever seeing a profile where subsurface waters were actually warmer. Nor do equatorial waters overturn in either phase of ENSO.”
    In what part of the video did I write that “subsurface waters were actually warmer” than the surface waters above it? During ENSO-neutral and La Nina phases, the subsurface waters in the western tropical Pacific are warmer than the surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific.
    http://i48.tinypic.com/288v8yd.jpg
    When the warmer water in the west travels to the east during an El Nino, it replaces the normally cooler water in the east, and temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific rise.
    And in what part of the video did I write or infer that “equatorial waters overturn in either phase of ENSO”?
    You wrote, “When dealing with anomalies, especially temporally-smoothed ones, however, care needs to excercised in associating apparent migrations of anomaly values with actual flows of mass or heat. In the case of the latter, a water mass showing a negative temporal anomaly can be warmer than an adjoining mass showing a positive one. The correspondence of statistical temperature anomalies to actual physical levels is not one that permits unambiguous inferences about physical flows to be made.”
    The processes described in these videos are also visible in animations of SST anomalies and sea level anomalies that have not been smoothed using 12-month averages. For animations of weekly SST anomaly maps, refer to:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/01/animation-of-weekly-global-sst-anomaly.html
    And:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/07/animations-of-weekly-sst-anomaly-maps.html
    And for an animation of sea level anomalies produced by the JPL that are from daily maps, refer to:

    And here’s one by Sebastian Krieger:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNefCmc3_1Y&NR=1
    The maps of 12-month average anomalies were used primarily for the TLT data. I carried the smoothing over to the other datasets for continuity. The smoothing did clean up the weather noise in the other datasets, though.

  46. Bob Tisdale:
    Early in Pt. I of your video you DO treat subsurface anomalies in a way that associates them intimately with water flows. The point of my comment was that migrating anomalies are not in one-to-one correspondence with flows. Land-based anomalies also migrate, though there can be no flow of land involved. In mathematical terms, the total time derivative displayed by changing anomalies does not distinguish between local changes and those induced by advection.
    Reference to sloshing is appropriate in connection with minor flow produced by readjustment of sea-level. Yet, at 2:53 you seem to connect this flow, which is concentrated in the middle portion of the basin, with dramatic changes at opposite ends, which sloshing cannot produce. And at 4:03 you advise viewers “Keep in mind that most of the warm water that had spread across the surface of the Central and Eastern Tropical Pacific during the El Nino came from BELOW the surface.” Such physically unconvincing interptretations prompted my original comment.

  47. Bob, your OHC / ENSO ‘zig-zag’ graph is a piece of the puzzle of why a pattern in stratospheric-volcano / lunisolar patterns does something [seemingly] temporally-inconsistent around ~1974-6. This gets me wondering what we’d know either side of ~1896-7 if we had OHC records for then.
    I can suggest a future step: Breaking your analysis down seasonally [but still using ‘annual’ smoothing (with a reduced number of months)].
    Rationale: NH annual smoothing is raking in some pretty serious seasonal nonlinearities due to continentality [skew/outliers leveraging misleading distortion]. [My instinct is that this will not be an issue for SH (which is naturally damped).]
    As often: I read one of your articles & discover a missing piece of the puzzles I’m exploring [ e.g. http://www.sfu.ca/~plv/VolcanoStratosphereSLAM.htm ] somewhere in your notes —– and as always: appreciated.

  48. Bob, where can I find the image displayed 4:15 – 4:21 in Part 2?
    Also, can you provide links to your webpages which discuss this?
    Regards,
    Paul.

  49. Paul Vaughan: You wrote, “Bob, your OHC / ENSO ‘zig-zag’ graph is a piece of the puzzle of why a pattern in stratospheric-volcano / lunisolar patterns does something [seemingly] temporally-inconsistent around ~1974-6.”
    I assume you referring to this graph of NINO3.4 SST anomalies and tropical Pacific OHC since you qualified it with your later comment:
    http://i46.tinypic.com/14u9ulx.jpg
    I don’t see anything inconsistent with the rise in 1974 to 76. There was a La Nina at that time that lasted for 3 plus years. If the tropical Pacific OHC hadn’t risen, then I would have wondered why.
    You asked, “Also, can you provide links to your webpages which discuss this?”
    It was discussed in:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/02/la-nina-underappreciated-portion-of.html
    And:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/11/more-detail-on-multiyear-aftereffects_26.html
    And:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/11/global-temperatures-this-decade-will-be.html
    And:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/10/why-are-ohc-observations-0-700m.html
    And:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/09/enso-dominates-nodc-ocean-heat-content.html
    I think that gets them all.

  50. clarification: The [seeming] inconsistency involved “stratospheric-volcano / lunisolar patterns” …and your insights appear (at first glance at least) to remove the appearance of inconsistency.
    Thanks for the links.

Comments are closed.