By Dr. Roy Spencer
Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) measured by the AMSR-E instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite continue their plunge as a predicted La Nina approaches. The following plot, updated through yesterday (June 17, 2010) shows that the cooling in the Nino34 region in the tropical east Pacific is well ahead of the cooling in the global average SST, something we did not see during the 2007-08 La Nina event (click on it for the large, undistorted version):
The rate at which the Nino34 SSTs are falling is particularly striking, as seen in this plot of the SST change rate for that region:
To give some idea of what is causing the global-average SST to fall so rapidly, I came up with an estimate of the change in reflected sunlight (shortwave, or SW flux) using our AMSR-E total integrated cloud water amounts. This was done with a 7+ year comparison of those cloud water estimates to daily global-ocean SW anomalies computed from the CERES radiation budget instrument, also on Aqua:
What this shows is an unusually large increase in reflected sunlight over the last several months, probably due to an increase in low cloud cover.
At this pace of cooling, I suspect that the second half of 2010 could ruin the chances of getting a record high global temperature for this year. Oh, darn.