Frozen Tropics as La Niña takes hold

By Steve Goddard

As La Niña takes hold in South America, we are seeing something I’m not sure I have ever seen before. Temperatures in some parts of the Andes Mountains of Bolivia are forecast to average below -5C this week. The entire country of Bolivia is located inside the Tropic of Capricorn.

Closeup below :

Temperatures are 6-10C below normal in much of South America.

The image below shows Unisys SST anomalies combined with NCEP forecast anomalies. Note how sea surface temperatures affect the land temperatures.

Our friend Joe Romm is very focused on the Northeastern US, but there is a whole big world out there.

Cold Weather Proves Killer in Parts of South America (Source: Time newsfeed)

Strange but true: despite blazing hot temperatures, sometimes in the triple digits, sweeping across the United States, the opposite is true in much of South America where a cold front has actually claimed more than 400 lives in parts of Peru and Argentina. The temperatures, which have hovered in the upper 30s in the southern part of the continent qualify as a rather typical winter by North American standards. But in some places, like the Andes mountains the thermometer has dropped as low as -11 degrees F and decimated alpaca and cattle herds. The usually subtropical areas affected are particularly vulnerable because the populations are largely poor, live in conditions that are not equipped for cold weather and the governments do not have the infrastructure to handle winter conditions.

As La Niña develops, climate alarmists will soon be seeking shelter from the storm.

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Did you really mean -11F . That’s -24C?
Keep up the good work…
[that’s from the news article excerpt, not the post author ~mod]


Nice to see, parts of Russia are 7 degrees C too warm, and in parts of south America it’s 7 degrees C too cold. Our world keeps amazing us, and will be…

John S

Unusually warm weather is caused by AGW. Unusually cold weather is caused by AGW. Unusually wet weather is caused by AGW. Unusually dry weather is caused by AGW.
Don’t forget that NYC froze in the movie The Day After Tomorrow.</i?


But that’s weather, it has nothing to do with climate…sarc off.

wayne Job

Not one word about the plight of those suffering from cold has been noted in the MSN of Australia, how odd. The BBC in England are talking up temperatures in Russia, curiouser and curiouser. Has the world gone mad?

Bill Jamison

Look closely at the SST anomoly map and notice the plume of VERY cold water off the coast of South America – it’s running 5C below average. The NINO 1-2 regions are already at -3C so we’re looking at possibly a very strong La Nina forming very quickly. It wasn’t long ago some forecasters were predicting a La Nina was unlikely. In fact I think I read it right here on WUWT!

Philip Finck

Hmmm….. I wonder if this will make the front page of Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, like the `we are all going to fry’ story they ran yesterday. Or the ‘we are all going to fry’ story on our top news station in Maritime Canada, CTV.
Our main newspaper ran a two paragraph comment, placed about 20 pages into the paper, on the cold in South America.
I am amazed at the comments of `scientists’ who release results of studies that they have undertaken. Without exception, even when the research has extremely tenuous relations to anything climatic, they always link what they see to climate change. As a scientist my self it drives me crazy.
But then again. All my funding and work is focused or `sold’ based on climate change and ‘accelerating (?) rates of sea level rise’. I would add more on that topic but depending who read this I would need to fear for my job. Actually, I wouldn’t say even this much except that by the time the paper work and appeals were completed I would have taken early retirement anyway. I need to get out and make an honest living!

The indicators begin to stack up. The Antarctic Oscillation at a record high will not provide resistance to the equatorial trade winds that are essential for a strong La Nina. The North Atlantic Oscillation will most likely go neg and permit Arctic winds to flow south as the PDO gives strong backup…. get ready for a big one in the north this winter.


It is not only La Nina I think. My own thoughts based only on observations is that somehow, probably linked with this solar minimum, there is less “mixing” in the atmosphere making summers warmer and winters colder for the respective hemispheres but also inside the hemispheres. Hotspots like eastern VS the heart of Russia or the mediterranean tend to keep undisturbed hot for a long time and located close to the heart of summer. Vice versa for winter. South America as well as South Africa and Australia and New Zealand have a cool winter as well as we had in the Northern Hemisphere and I have few doubts we well get again this year.

The NOAA SST graph is maybe intentionally graded to train the mind towards heat. A 0.1 anomaly gives a hot yellow color. The Unisys example is more subjective.

Seppie says:
July 30, 2010 at 3:56 am (Edit)
Nice to see, parts of Russia are 7 degrees C too warm, and in parts of south America it’s 7 degrees C too cold. Our world keeps amazing us, and will be…

Interesting. Those locations are on diametrically opposite parts of the globe.


wayne Job: “Has the world gone mad?” No, just crooked.

Jimmy Haigh

I spent a few days in the Bolivian capital La Paz in 1998. It’s a beautiful place, at about 12-13000ft above sea level, with the clearest air I’ve ever seen. I then spent 4 weeks in a tent in primeval jungle in the foothills of the Andes. An incredible experience.

Henry chance

Record hheat and permanent droughts in the southwest according to Joe Romm in january 2009. We have pleasant record cold in southern California that save electric also. Why can’t that be reported on the biased blogs?

John Finn

There is likely to be a significant La Nina. That is a fact. There was a La Nina in 2007/08. We get cooler conditons during a La Nina. None of this is in dispute.
However the question is – how much cooler will it get. Will the UAH temperatures drop to the same levels as during the 1980s or even 1990s. If not then the underlying trend is still likely to be positive. Just as far too much was made of the 2008 La Nina it looks as though we’re going to get the same extravagant claims about this one. I think it is possible that we’ve shifted to phase of more La Ninas/less El Ninos which will clearly dampen (or completely offset) any warming trend but these phases (if they exist) will end and a new warmer phase will begin.

Michael Schaefer

I don’t know, what you are actually doing.
But I am preparing for another VERY cold winter ahead.

Eric (skeptic)

I’m going to try to preempt the “balance of energy” or other similar comments. There is no balance of energy except an equilibrium over the long run. If it gets ridiculously cold in South America it is not because energy disappeared there and magically reappeared in Russia. The only minor exception to this rule is that there are probably slightly warmer areas around Antarctica where this cold came from. Not balancing, but just part of a weather pattern that draws the colder air north.

Bill Marsh

Interesting too is that, I suppose because of the cold temps in the Southern Hemisphere, that the ASU Sat temperatures have been roughly .2-.25F below temperatures in July of 09 every day this month. In Jan – Jun the opposite was true.


In the first picture, it looks like there’s a second plume of cold water, running north-by-northeast at the Baja peninsula. According to this forecast, the western side of the peninsula is predicted to have temperatures some 30-40 degrees (Fahrenheit) lower than the eastern side (73 in Ensenada versus 112 in Mexicali or 102 in San Felipe). It also describes the coastal weather as “still darn chilly”.
I know, it’s weather, not climate. Still interesting, though.


“Has the world gone mad?”
In a way, yes, although what’s actually happened is worse than that, since it has been an intentional decision by the people responsible. Around the world the MSM allowed itself to become an appendage and a propaganda arm of the political left, and the political left has allowed itself to be hooked into the global warming narrative since they 1) find it attractive and 2) they need the money it would provide to finance a raft of social engineering dreams that can’t be financed any other way.
It’s not about the science – it has never been about the science. Which is why we are now at the stage where people who probably even know better themselves, like the BBC reporters, are intentionally slanting the news to favor their political narrative because they fear the loss of power and standing for the political forces they support that will ensue once this narrative falls apart.
They’re all now at the end stages of an “in for a dime, in for a dollar” bet. They have now accepted that they would rather burn the credibility of every institution they control rather than give in now, even if that means destroying their institutions in the process. In this way, this is just a reflection of the much wider crisis our society is in – virtually all of our major institutions are now controlled by true nihilists, people who would rather see everything they control destroyed, even entire countries, before they will accept political defeat. And somewhere deep they still hang onto the child’s hope that if they just wish for something hard enough, the world they dream will magically appear.
This is not a “sustainable” situation, we all sense that – there is a great reckoning coming. In fact it is almost upon us.


Not much has been said about it but the contrast in temperatures between hot summers in one part of the world and cold winters in the other is a negative feedback due to T to the fourth power in Planck’s radiation law. With the la Niña (regrettably) global temperatures may get below what we experienced after Mt. Pinatubo cooling event. This could become a very rude wakeup call for some activists I believe.


“As La Niña develops, climate alarmists will soon be seeking shelter from the storm.”
Why don’t you just stick with the phenomenon itself and leave this kind of stupid remarks away? I like to read critical thoughts about the so called AGW, but this kind of comments makes it hard to return to this blog… Generally I hate the division about “climate-alarmists” and “climate sceptics”. Like it’s black or white. I’ll stick to gray and look for both sides.

Joe Lalonde

Thanks Steve,
Looks like it’s going to be a frigid winter this year!


I guess “Global Averaging” doesn’t have quite the scary tinge to it as “Global Warmimg”.


I can see that the predicted anomaly is well below average but the mountains in Bolivia do get very cold normally. -20 -> -25 degrees C can be normal compared to a daytime temperature of 15->20.
It is definitely one of those places where I wonder what is the point of an ‘average’ temperature when it can vary by about 5 degrees in an hour. The icy old nights at 4500m altitude do have fantastic stars though..

Sean Peake

All that leftover whitewash from the Climategate investigations that was used to paint poured the mountains of Peru to slow the melting of glaciers must be working.

Ron Cram

Tallbloke, is Russia in the tropics?

Robert of Ottawa

I note the recent outburst of “scientifice reports” in the media of “it really is worse than we thought” is timed with a warm July in the Northern hemisphere. What happened to those reports for the previous two years? ..or next year if Jo Bastardi is correct?


I’m expecting a very strong La Niña, perhaps the strongest ever registered, as a rebound from the quite strong El Niño that we have suffered in 2009-10 in a period with very very low solar activity. My bet is between -1,8 and -2,2 by February 2011. And I expect La Niña conditions to stay until 2012.
I’m no specialist about ENSO, but I predicted the El Niño we just enjoyed quite accurately as early as November 2008, when everything was pointing to a recovery of La Niña conditions instead. I even correctly forecast its 1,8 top strength…


Carrying on with Tallbloke’s observation about the cold and hot anomolies being on opposite sides of the globe, a couple of unscientific but logical (hopefully) thoughts. 1. cold south of the equator hot in Russia– then cold in russia and hot on the tropic of capricorn– isn’t that how global averages are made? 2. as the sun is the sole source of heat for the earth, doesn’t solar variability have to have some effect on global temperatures? 3. doesn’t the rapid ocean self cleaning (bacteria love that crude oil– yum) after the BP disaster show that earth’s natural functions drive conditions to the mean i.e. primarily negative feedbacks? 4. as the oceans are the substantial majority of the earth’s surface, and the total mass and heat content of the oceans dwarf the atmosphere, by definition the oceans drive climate, not the other way round? 5. the AGW alarmists demand that we drop all skepticism and accept their theories, isn’t that the same as the religious demand for faith based acceptance of the truth? isn’t that the opposite of science?


Cherry picking as always Steve. What about the massive heatwave presently sweeping Russia, the largest country on Earth. Thousands of people have died (okay–some had a little too much to drink) and 23% of all crops have failed. Have not heard a peep from you on this. It was much like your reporting on last year’s cold winter in (parts of) the U.S and Europe, while the rest of the world baked in well above temperatures.


The liars at NASA must be worried. They have already started preparing the propanda that 2010 is “on track” to be the hottest year on record. Looks like that`s going to be another spectacular FAIL !
Pitty we dont have any politicians brave enough to stand up and say “If 2010 does not turn out to be the hottest year – then those at GISS/NOAA who predicted this will lose their jobs”

wayne Job,
Don’t worry – Australia is going to be freezing too.

Johnny D

It’s cold up at high altitudes — shocker! The latitude seems kinda irrelevant when you’re talking about such high elevations. I mean this about roughly the same distance from the equator as the Himalayas, which are not exactly thought of as a (sub-)tropical paradise.

Large areas of Russia are experiencing record cold.
The MSM doesn’t talk about this, do they?

Johnny D
Do you understand what an “anomaly” is?


It’s a good thing that Henson and his buddies removed those pesky high altitude temperature stations from inclusion in their datasets. Otherwise these low temperatures would be a real problem for the next “Hottest Ever” headline.


/sarc on/
I don’t care how cold it gets, it’s the hottest year on the record..
/sarc off/


SC22 had 7 years of sunspots above 30 -> 1987.5 to 1994.5.
—– Starting 10 years later:
SC23 had 7.5 years of sunspots above 30 -> 1997.75 to 2005.25.
—– Starting(?) 13 years later:
SC24 has 0 years of sunspots above 30 -> 2010.5 to ?????
—– Note: NOAA has a blip at 31 for several days. Layman’s and SIDC less than 20 for the same time interval.
If (since?) sunspots show increased sun activity, then we are experiencing an unprecedented lack of activity!
The Pacific has given up the stored heat from SC22, SC23. Now we will feel the effects of SC24. A La Nina is equivalent to a cooling Pacific. With less heat traveling from South America to the Poles, look for very cool Western US coastal temperatures. Unfortunately, it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere; very, very cold temperatures and an increasing ice build around Antarctica (sea ice).


“Around the world the MSM allowed itself to become an appendage and a propaganda arm of the political left”
wws, it’s just the nature of the news business.
It’s the left that is always generating disasters, and bad news sells.

One puzzling anomaly (correct usage, ie. oddity) is the strip of +2 to +4C warm “anomaly” (incorrect usage, ie. delta T) at the northern tip of Chile, despite a particularly chilly bit of water just off the coast there.


Check the sea ice page and you’ll see that the 80N temps are running below average.

John Blake

In context and perspective, Climate Cultists’ bloviations “aren’t right– they aren’t even wrong.” From Monbiot to Romm to Schmidt, nevermind the Green Gang’s duplicitous Cargo Cultists such as Briffa, Hansen, Jones, Mann, Trenberth et al., AGW propagandists broadcast only asininities, mere bumpf.
In any case: Given an increasingly probable “aggravated La Nina”, could anyone project a 6 – 9 month cycle of rough northern and southern hemispheric temperatures through next spring? Much like seasonal aggregates of Arctic and Antarctic ice conditions, it’d be interesting to see how non-linear extrapolations play out over the next year or so.


stevengoddard says:
July 30, 2010 at 6:23 am
Steve, thanks for this link. But once again it proves my point about your habit of cherry picking regions. Looking at the Global map it would be clear to an “objective person” that the majority of areas (including most of Russia) have experienced warmer temperatures over this past week.

kent Blaker

By my reconing this is the fourth consecutive cool winter in the southern hemisphere, while we have had three. This coming winter in the north could be very interesting, ( our forth coming up?) The SST along both north and south america’s west coast is below normal and it is almost August. I was near Machu Pichu when the heaviest rains in 35 years washed out the roads, bridges and train tracks. That puts it back to when the expert scientists were talking about global cooling.

stevengoddard says:
July 30, 2010 at 6:12 am
Don’t worry – Australia is going to be freezing too.

Nice pick up Steve, as well the jet stream maps are suggesting a big dump of cold air in the south on Sunday, expect plenty of snow.


mjk says:
July 30, 2010 at 6:05 am
“Steve,Cherry picking as always Steve.”
MJK, what Steve is doing here, is mentioning stuff that is NOT in MSN.
Why mentioning the heatwave in russia, when the whole point is that you can read about that in MSN? Every day?

Stephen Wilde

When the jet streams move equatorward as a result of a contraction of the equatorial air masses at a time when the ocean surfaces are transferring energy less quickly to the air then they have more room to swing about latitudinally. ‘Loopiness’, someone called it.
Hence the cold air flow into South America from the South Pole and the hot air flow into Russia from North Africa.
The thing is that more latitudinal ‘loopiness’ means the air is trying to transfer energy faster from equator to poles but it’s degree of success depends on the contemporaneous state of the polar oscillations.
When the polar oscillations are negative as now the polar high pressure cells sink equatorward and limit the poleward transfer of energy so helping to mitigate the global (as opposed to regional) rate of energy loss to space. So negative polar oscillations help to mitigate the cooling effect of La Nina and supplement the warming effect of El Nino.
That is why the recent El Nino gave such a boost to global tropospheric air temperatures despite the quiet sun at the same time as we saw wide regional variability.
When the polar oscillations are positive as during the late 20th Century the polar high pressure cells migrate back poleward and allow a faster rate of energy loss to space.
So positive polar oscillations help to supplement the cooling effect of La Nina and offset the warming effect of El Nino.
The climate reaction depends on the interplay of those four available scenarios:
i) Faster energy transfer from oceans plus positive polar oscillation
ii) Faster energy transfer from oceans plus negative polar oscillation
iii)Slower energy transfer from oceans plus positive polar oscillation
iv)Slower energy transfer from oceans plus negative polar oscillation
We are in the process of moving from a recent scenario ii) to an upcoming scenario iv)
Whether tropospheric air temperatures rise or fall depends on the precise balance of the two opposing forces at any given time.
Since that balance is represented by the average latitudinal position of the air circulation systems we must ascertain that average latitudinal position in order to see whether the globe is warming or cooling as a result of the interplay.
Generally a poleward position means tropospheric warming because energy is coming out of the oceans faster than it is going out to space.
Generally an equatorward position means tropospheric cooling because energy is coming out of the oceans more slowly than it is being lost to space.
The question of ocean warming or cooling is a seperate matter because of the albedo changes complicating the scenario when the main cloud bands move poleward and equatorward. That is beyond the scope of this thread but I have dealt with it elsewhere.
Suffice to say that in the short term the quiet sun (if it continues) will help to mitigate the effect of the coming La Nina whereas it supplemented the effect of the recent El Nino.
The fastest cooling scenario for the troposphere would be the oceans denying energy to the air at the same time as a positive polar oscillation accelerates it to space i.e. scenario iii) above.
The fastest warming scenario for the troposphere would be the oceans supplying more energy to the air at the same time as a negative polar oscillation decelerates the energy flux to space as in scenario ii) above.
In relation to individual ENSO events the effects are short term and quickly reversed but being cumulative over time the effects are more noticeable over the decadal time scales involving PDO switches from positive to negative phases.
We see it most clearly over millennial time scales where we see the swings from MWP to LIA to date.
So during an interglacial the two forces normally offset one another to minimse climate swings apart from those millennial fluctuations and overall total global ice decreases.
During a glaciation the two forces normally supplement one another to increase climate swings way beyond the millennial fluctuations that we are used to and total global ice cover increases because the heavy winter snows over the northern continents do not get to melt away during the summer months.
The current global land distribution dictates a 9:1 ratio in terms of length between ice ages and interglacials.
The coming La Nina will have a strong cooling effect but not yet enough to do more than continue a slow slide from the recent millennial temperature peak and there is a chance that there is a little further to go over the next hundred years or so before the true modern peak is reached.
I don’t expect all this to be accepted uncritically at this point. I’m just putting it on record for future reference.

Gail Combs

The other interesting thing I noticed on the maps recently is the warm water “anomaly” seems to be migrating towards the north pole. Has anyone else noticed that?