New El Niño type: worse than we thought

From the Jet Propulsion Lab:

NASA/NOAA Study Finds El Niños are Growing Stronger

Deviations from normal sea surface temperatures (left) and sea surface heights (right)

Deviations from normal sea surface temperatures (left) and sea surface heights (right) at the peak of the 2009-2010 central Pacific El Niño, as measured by NOAA polar orbiting satellites and NASA's Jason-1 spacecraft, respectively. The warmest temperatures and highest sea levels were located in the central equatorial Pacific. Image credit: NASA/JPL-NOAA - Click for a larger image

A relatively new type of El Niño, which has its warmest waters in the central-equatorial Pacific Ocean, rather than in the eastern-equatorial Pacific, is becoming more common and progressively stronger, according to a new study by NASA and NOAA. The research may improve our understanding of the relationship between El Niños and climate change, and has potentially significant implications for long-term weather forecasting.

Lead author Tong Lee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and Michael McPhaden of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle, measured changes in El Niño intensity since 1982. They analyzed NOAA satellite observations of sea surface temperature, checked against and blended with directly-measured ocean temperature data. The strength of each El Niño was gauged by how much its sea surface temperatures deviated from the average. They found the intensity of El Niños in the central Pacific has nearly doubled, with the most intense event occurring in 2009-10.

The scientists say the stronger El Niños help explain a steady rise in central Pacific sea surface temperatures observed over the past few decades in previous studies-a trend attributed by some to the effects of global warming. While Lee and McPhaden observed a rise in sea surface temperatures during El Niño years, no significant temperature increases were seen in years when ocean conditions were neutral, or when El Niño’s cool water counterpart, La Niña, was present.

“Our study concludes the long-term warming trend seen in the central Pacific is primarily due to more intense El Niños, rather than a general rise of background temperatures,” said Lee.

“These results suggest climate change may already be affecting El Niño by shifting the center of action from the eastern to the central Pacific,” said McPhaden. “El Niño’s impact on global weather patterns is different if ocean warming occurs primarily in the central Pacific, instead of the eastern Pacific.

“If the trend we observe continues,” McPhaden added, “it could throw a monkey wrench into long-range weather forecasting, which is largely based on our understanding of El Niños from the latter half of the 20th century.”

El Niño, Spanish for “the little boy,” is the oceanic component of a climate pattern called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, which appears in the tropical Pacific Ocean on average every three to five years. The most dominant year-to-year fluctuating pattern in Earth’s climate system, El Niños have a powerful impact on the ocean and atmosphere, as well as important socioeconomic consequences. They can influence global weather patterns and the occurrence and frequency of hurricanes, droughts and floods; and can even raise or lower global temperatures by as much as 0.2 degrees Celsius (0.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

During a “classic” El Niño episode, the normally strong easterly trade winds in the tropical eastern Pacific weaken. That weakening suppresses the normal upward movement of cold subsurface waters and allows warm surface water from the central Pacific to shift toward the Americas. In these situations, unusually warm surface water occupies much of the tropical Pacific, with the maximum ocean warming remaining in the eastern-equatorial Pacific.

Since the early 1990s, however, scientists have noted a new type of El Niño that has been occurring with greater frequency. Known variously as “central-Pacific El Niño,” “warm-pool El Niño,” “dateline El Niño” or “El Niño Modoki” (Japanese for “similar but different”), the maximum ocean warming from such El Niños is found in the central-equatorial, rather than eastern, Pacific. Such central Pacific El Niño events were observed in 1991-92, 1994-95, 2002-03, 2004-05 and 2009-10. A recent study found many climate models predict such events will become much more frequent under projected global warming scenarios.

Lee said further research is needed to evaluate the impacts of these increasingly intense El Niños and determine why these changes are occurring. “It is important to know if the increasing intensity and frequency of these central Pacific El Niños are due to natural variations in climate or to climate change caused by human-produced greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Results of the study were published recently in Geophysical Research Letters.


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122 thoughts on “New El Niño type: worse than we thought

  1. “These results suggest climate change may already be affecting El Niño by shifting the center of action from the eastern to the central Pacific”
    Eh… yeah. He’s got it backwards..

  2. If the Modoki type has been happening more often, SST anomalies in the Modoki area should be rising compared to classical ENSO area more to the east. It is not happening.
    Modoki area SST
    http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/ihadsst2_200-230E_-5-5N_n_mean1.png
    Normal El Nino area SST
    http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/ihadsst2_230-270E_-5-5N_n_mean1.png
    The claim that Modoki-type ENSO events are happening more often, is not supported by data, unless cherry picking 1960-2000 period.

  3. Recently Bob Tisdale posted here on WUWT showing from recent decades that the el Nino Modoki type was less likely than the “standard” el Nino to be followed hot on its heels by a La Nina event. This analysis, based on several closelyt spaced el Ninos recently (e.g. 1991-2, 1994-5, 2002-3, 2004-5), coming from one of the leading authorities on oceanic cycles, surprisingly has proved wrong this year. “As we speak” we are descending into a strong La Nina event immediately after the most intense recent el Nino Modoki.
    This unusual turn of events which seems to be breaking the recent pattern may signify that something has changed. What could change influencing the pattern and succession of ENSO events? The answer is obvious – the PDO/AMO longer term multidecadal cycles. In fact we now know this very clearly following Roy Spencer’s recent WUWT post showing that the 20th century temperature curve could be tracked precisely as a function of the ENSO cycle.
    The paper here, while useful and informative, shows the myopic cherry picking to give an alarmist AGW conclusion without which nothing can be published in scientific journals concerning climate. “Here is a trend over the last 3-4 decades which obviously is going to continue for ever and ever, Amen”.
    A more raional take on this is that the ENSO is the mechanism by which global temperatures rise during the PDO/AMO upswings, e.g. 1970-2005. But now we are starting a downswing, so the rules change subtly. A second strong La Nina tightly sandwiching an el Nino Modoki is not supposed to happen. The regime has changed. We could call his year’s ocean temperature downswing as a “La Nina Modoki”.
    ( Sorry no WUWT links supplied, I’m writing from a mobile phone.)

  4. Anthony, I admit my ignorance about sea surface temperature records, so I ask for your help here. A.R.G.O’s are very recent but do they indicate any warming outside what would normally be observed in the central Pacific as this study would indicate?

  5. How can you believe this.
    According to those maps sea surface heights were around 9 cms [4.5 ins] above normal at the peak of that ’09-’10 El Nino on the east coast of Australia.
    Well the highest astronomical [king] tide of the year at my 47 year old benchmark on Jan 31st 2010 [in the middle of that El Nino] was 200 cms [8 ins] below the normal king tide level.
    And local marine scientists claimed that tide was higher than predicted.

  6. If background temperatures are the same, and if the 2010 El Niño was the most intense, this year should be the warmest on record. But according to IPCC background temperature is now 0.2°C higher than in 1998. And still 2010 does not seem to become the warmest.
    So the planet must be cooling.

  7. So they “measured changes in El Niño intensity since 1982.”
    And “they found the intensity of El Niños in the central Pacific has nearly doubled, with the most intense event occurring in 2009-10.”
    And “Our study concludes the long-term warming trend seen in the central Pacific is primarily due to more intense El Niños”
    And “These results suggest climate change may already be affecting El Niño”
    So they are sure that a bigger (or I guess a smaller) El Nino compared to a 28 year average is a big deal. If the cycle is 3 – 5 years, that would make it the biggest out of somewhere between 6 & 9 “El Ninos”.
    Wow.
    And there’s no doubt, I presume, that it is Climate Change (=all you guys driving SUVs) that is puffing up these El Ninos and not El Ninos that are changing the Climate.
    Yeah. Just when we thought the Science Was Settled. Worse than we thunk.
    Not only that, but “it could throw a monkey wrench into long-range weather forecasting”.
    Well that’ll be a blow, seeing how long-range forecasts are so accurate that we need urgently to change to a “low-carbon” economy (that doesn’t work) on the strength of them.

  8. This is probably a great study.
    But let us look, for example, at NINO 3.4
    Go to http://climexp.knmi.nl/selectfield_obs2.cgi?someone@somewhere
    look for, e.g., the ERSST v3b (Bob Tisdale would prefer the Reynolds OI v2 SST but that does not matter much) take +- 5 degrees latitude and 170 to 120 W longitude and look at the last 30 years.
    The trend line is slightly negative. You may see it by eyesight, if you want to do better, you have to evaluate the raw data, also provided by KNMI.
    In contrast, the average 30 y trendline of all tropic oceans is +0.1 C/decade (to which the Nino areas significantly contribute).
    Is it discussed in the paper, why the Nino 3.4 trendline deviates so strongly from the rest of the tropics?

  9. Does the data actually exist to conclude that these events didn’t ever happen on such a scale prior to 1990 – or is this just hyperbole based on just 20 years worth of data?

  10. A recent study found many climate models predict such events will become much more frequent under projected global warming scenarios.
    Lee said further research is needed to evaluate the impacts of these increasingly intense El Niños and determine why these changes are occurring.

    Keywords: projected global warming scenarios, more frequent, further research is needed, increasingly intense El Niños.
    Panic now? Or simply another case of “We haven’t a clue but blame it on Global Warming anyway, where are the grants?”

  11. “changes in El Niño intensity since 1982″
    Well we all know that there was a run of strong El Ninos over that period so this is hardly news.
    The whole period was a spell of positive (warming) ocean cycles and so would be bound to show an increase in El Nino strengths as compared to the previous 30 years and before that we had no means of measuring El Nino intensities.
    The trouble is that the whole process went into reverse around the turn of the century as part of the normal 30/60 year ocean cycle so we are now in the early stages of a negative cooling cycle once again.
    ” the most intense event occurring in 2009-10.”
    Really ? I had read that it was merely a ‘moderate’ El Nino.
    I’m sure Bob Tisdale has a lot to say on this thread.

  12. These results suggest climate change may already be affecting El Niño by shifting the center of action from the eastern to the central Pacific

    How unscientific. A statistical result (‘climate change’) cannot affect a real world phenomenon (‘El Niño’) as the causality link is reversed. Here is a more logical wording:

    These results suggest shifting of El Niño center of action from the eastern to the central Pacific may affect climate.


    (I drop the word ‘change’ as it is a redundancy in this context.)

  13. A couple thoughts in passing — —

    …measured changes in El Niño intensity since 1982.

    /sarc on// OMG, that’s like … forever!! /sarc off// Okay, seriously for a moment. Now that we’ve seen changes during the latter stages of the warm phase of the PDO; let’s see how it develops over the long haul during the cool phase of the PDO.

    “It is important to know if the increasing intensity and frequency of these central Pacific El Niños are due to natural variations in climate or to climate change caused by human-produced greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Let’s try a little thought experiment and put the horse before the cart. What if it’s the changing nature & strength of the ENSO that’s been driving the bulk of climate changes? It might take more than a single (human) generation of studies to arrive at a working hypothesis.

  14. Andy Revkin has asked these researchers a couple of intelligent questions. (http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/27/pacific-hot-spells-shifting-as-predicted-in-human-heated-world/) Quoting from the replies:
    “If all we had was data the interpretation would be ambiguous as to what causes what. However, we also have climate change computer models which are valuable guides to how the climate system will respond to greenhouse gas forcing.”
    “We can’t be 100% certain that this interpretation is correct because the data are limited and the models are imperfect. But it provides us a plausible working hypothesis for further investigation into the nature and impacts of a changing face to El Niño.”
    If it’s just a plausible working hypothesis, it’s hardly worth arguing about. But I have a plausible working hypothesis that it will be reported in the media as something more.

  15. OMG! It’s worse than we thought! A new kind of global warming! Aaargh!

  16. With all due respect, what a load of crap.
    There is no possible way to even theorize about a “new el nino type” given the microscopic amount of time we’ve been monitoring the Pacific with any kind of accuracy.
    This is sounding like the med-school syndrome, where as someone learns about various diseases they often become convinced they have them.
    We get the ability to see ozone concentrations, find a “hole”, and immediately panic. We get the ability to see temperature anomalies and immediately panic. Others have joked about it, but some of these people would not surprise me if they started thinking the Sun’s lethargy was our fault.
    REPLY: Bingo. – Anthony

  17. @Anthony
    I told you that you were too quick to say that the intensity of El Nino is not related to CO2 warming. You don’t know that. The climate system is too complex for off-the-cuff dismissals like that. You wrote that the El Nino heat disappears too quickly and isn’t reflected in distributed global temps the next year. Further you wrote if it was CO2 induced the heat should stick around somewhere. Then I pointed out that the massive amount of energy in the 1998 El Nino was probably absorbed as latent heat of fusion in Arctic ice melt which ice appears to have made a 1 million square kilometer step change to a lesser extent shortly after the 1998 El Nino and so the heat actually did stick around. Then you stopped responding to me.

  18. How do they do a press release like this without mention of the PDO, which has a 50 to 60 year cycle, and they’ve studied for 28 years?

  19. Yes, I paid for the study. $9.00 for a very simple statistical examination of NINO3 and NINO4 peak SST anomalies during El Nino and La Nina events. Oy!
    The following is their Figure 3.
    http://i38.tinypic.com/3004ktz.jpg
    The first thing to note is the impact of the 2009/10 El Nino, which is one of the reasons for the study. But any short-term evaluation of the linear trends of ENSO events is skewed by the years included in the study. Second, the multiyear El Nino and La Nina events are not represented. They appear to have picked peak SST anomalies for ENSO events. Would this make a difference? I’m working on it. Then the question would be is the intensity of an ENSO event dictated by the peak, or the time spent above 0 deg C, or the actual change in SST anomalies from trough to peak and from peak to trough.

  20. These scientists have been measuring El Nino events since 1982 and have noted a trend since then–a 28-year period. Likely there is no way to reconstruct El Nino changes before 1982. Since temps have been rising for most of that period anyhow, it is possible that the El Nino changes reflect (or helped produce) that warming, and that in future years, as temps fall, the observed trend will change back; perhaps another natural oscillation. A bit early to tell, yes?

  21. I though the whole PDO thing was only partially understood, and only recently at that.
    In any case, an El Niño does not ‘warm’ anything, it is merely bringing warm water up, where it can happily release its heat and cool the world down. A nice negative feedback, if anything, not something to worry about, surely?
    This ‘report’ (aka speculation) makes it sound really scary! I guess the “further research” needed may be the main cause, however….

  22. Did I read that right?
    The emergence of this new and more powerful El Niño is based on about 30 years of data.
    This is like having a temperature series that runs from 12:01 AM to 4:00 PM and claiming that you’ve uncovered a new and more powerful form of daylight that didn’t exist before noon.

  23. “It is important to know if the increasing intensity and frequency of these central Pacific El Niños are due to natural variations in climate or to climate change caused by human-produced greenhouse gas emissions”
    Would that, by any chance, be the punch-line of submissions for research funding by taxpayers? Just curious.

  24. This article mentiones sea level rise as something that happens in conjunction with El Nino’s. If you download the sealevel data from the Colorado University website, then you can see that for the 1998 El Nino there was a clear sealevel rise in the Pacific in 1997, starting around the 2nd quarter with a peak somewhere in September. The amount of sea level rise, about 20 mm, suggests therefore that a large amount of heat has been introduced into the pacific before this particular El Nino. The atmospheric temperature rise follows El Nino’s, and this can therefore not have been causing the El Nino as well. A remixing of warm and cooler water does not cause a volume increase according to some simple sums I have made. Therefore, there must have been a large infusion of energy in the Pacific ocean before the El Nino occured.
    The amount of energy involved and the time in which it must have been introduced -considering that thermal expansion is more or less instantaneous with a temperature rise- makes it virtually impossible that this energy was introduced via the ocean surface. For me it is obvious therefore that the source of this energy must have been geothermal.
    If you look from this perspective to the historic sea level rise the question arises whether not all or most of this is caused by geothermal energy. This of course puts a different light on the global climate change issue.
    I am very interested in your opinion.
    Evert Jesse

  25. The 1998 was supposed to have been a super El Nino. GISS had its peak anomaly at 0.80 C. Now the 2009-2010 was worse (GISS: 0.84 C) and our temperatures still did not blow 1998’s away over a decade later? Wow. — John M Reynolds

  26. I have been frequently told El Nino (capitalized) refers to “The Christ Child” because of the rains it caused along the South American coast near Christmas… or is this new explaination just a move toward political correctness?
    And, does this report go in the same catagory as the other “Worse-Than-We-Thought” reports… for that mater, what is worse than we thought?
    My friend, who has 4,000 acres of dryland farm says yields on his wheat, corn, milo, and sunflowers, are up significantly, and the prices are “worse than we thought”!!

  27. “Lead author Tong Lee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and Michael McPhaden of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle, measured changes in El Niño intensity since 1982.”
    Since 1982? There are lots of weasel words in the rest of the article which suggests that’s not a long enough time to say whether or not we are seeing something new.
    “If the trend we observe continues,” McPhaden added, “it could throw a monkey wrench into long-range weather forecasting, which is largely based on our understanding of El Niños from the latter half of the 20th century.” (bold is mine)
    I’m going to set my snooze alarm for 8:30 am, 2182 and see if their observations are just natural variability or if they’ve really spotted a new trend. Who knows? They don’t and I certainly don’t so we’ll just have to wait and see.

  28. Since the early 1990s, however, scientists have noted a new type of El Niño that has been occurring with greater frequency.
    We have known about El Nino Modoki for how long? Greater frequency than when?
    Isn’t it amazing how when something is discovered and studied for the first time that it is different than how it was before it was ever known to exist? Astounding!

  29. Is it just me , or do Lee and McFaden contradict themselves ? At one point they say that Pacific temps rise due to these intense “new” el ninos yet remain neutral at other times . They then claim that climate change could be causing these el ninos in the first place . Considering that the el nino phenomenon is a relatively recent discovery , how can they know that these intense el ninos are anything out of the ordinary ?

  30. I seem to have missed the mechanism of how more global CO2 heats only the central Pacific. Those human emitted molecules must be really clever.

  31. Dave Springer says:
    August 28, 2010 at 2:47 am
    @Anthony
    It’s hardly surprising that Anthohy stopped responding to you. After such prattish remarks such as this so have I and everyone else here, I guess.

  32. Again, this El Niño thing has been driving me mad. I have seen nothing in 50 years of study that has defined clearly and precisely the origins of the Niña/o familly. There is nothing here, either, that has explained the origines. I am also aware that NO GCM as yet been able to forecast a Niño more than 6 myhs before it’s arrival. So this is report has to be a sampler for gaining more money. You know the sort of thing by now, “I’m an AGW scientist therefore you can give me money to prove it”.

  33. hmmmmm, I wonder if there is any relationship to the fact that we’ve had a warm PDO? I wonder if this trend’ll continue the next 30 years or so with a cold PDO, or if something else occurs

  34. When the study is pre-hung on a warming meathook, it is only warming events that are considered.
    No time spent discussing what changes in longitude that La Ninas are occurring.
    Did the Ninas and Ninos swap places, or do they occur in the same longitudes?
    30 years ago, I suppose it would have been considered mainstream to hang the study on a freezer meathook, rather than a smokehouse meathook.
    I really do expect legitimate scientific inquiry to examine both sides of the coin.

  35. “it could throw a monkey wrench into long-range weather forecasting”
    —————–
    Ahhhhhh…..really
    Shocker here, massively complex non-linear systems are hard to predict….this is a huge break through. Give them more money.
    Facetious rant over.

  36. Vukcevic
    Maybe you are on to something. All of your graphs that you present have always made some sense out of a lot of unknown weather and climate events. Keep up the good work.

  37. A measured El Nino intensity of 28 years is twice as bad as the Mauna Loa CO2 measurement going on for the last 52 years. In geological terms both these measurement sets are anecdotal at best and useless at worse.
    What scientist would avoid using millenial time frames of core drilled sediment data and prefer meaningless decade long data? What agenda is at hand? It ain’t the truth!

  38. Who Discovered the El Niño-Southern Oscillation?
    Gregory T. Cushman, Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX
    Two giants of 20th-century meteorology, Gilbert Walker and Jacob Bjerknes, are usually given credit for discovering the El Niño-Southern Oscillation phenomenon. During the early 1920s, Walker empirically identified a periodic variation in atmospheric pressure over the Indo-Pacific which he christened the “Southern Oscillation.” During the 1960s, Bjerknes posited a physical mechanism to explain the atmospheric features of this phenomenon over the equatorial Pacific which he christened the “Walker Circulation.” Both men deserve recognition since they opened the way for our present understanding of the global climate system.

  39. There is not that much data on this until reports like this just coming out in recent years.
    If the researchers base it on a theory of man-made global warming, as stated in earlier comments, they may have interpreted it backwards.
    If, over the past century, due to having the hottest sunspot cycles on record for the last 300 years, what we may be seeing is a global warming event.
    Other events are:
    > double the number of named storms
    > One inch increase in US precipitation
    > Continued melting of glaciers between given northern and southern latitudes and lower elevations
    > Increased Accumulated Cylone Energy, a measurement of hurricanes and tropical storms
    > A significant increase in Earth temperatures
    > A slight shift north and south of the Equator of the Earth’s Topography
    That should be changing now in the opposite direction of each point made as global cooling takes over.
    Sincerely,
    Paul

  40. Andres Valencia says: August 28, 2010 at 4:50 am
    Seems to me that “Modoki” is a new Japanese word for modified, like “Gorofu” is for golf.
    No consonant-ended words is the rule.

    “N” is the only consonant allowed. It is the only consonant in the kana character sets that doesn’t have a vowel at the end.

  41. “A relatively new type of El Niño, which . . .”
    What does this mean? What the word “relatively” is doing here is a mystery. As for “new” – they contradict themselves before getting to the second sentence, namely with “becoming more common.” I guess they just mean ‘a type of El Niño is becoming more common’.
    However, because the study seems to begin in 1982 they should have begun with a caveat something like this:
    ‘We have used a very short modern period and ignored the historical record and report on a type of El Niño new to us.’

  42. One thing’s for sure there’s an academic cottage industry around data mining modern instrument records for correlations. And if you can’t find any correlations then make some up. Then cherry pick sparse unreliable records from the more distant past and make up a narrative about those describing how they relate with the modern records. Begin and end with a gratuitous warning about the dangers of climate change. Include in the final paragraph, right after the CAGW warning, the critical need for further study before we all die and then you’re all ready to publish in the pal review literature.

  43. And another thing: The historical context for the naming of this pattern of weather need not be left in the dust of political correctness.
    They write: “El Niño, Spanish for “the little boy,” is the . . .”
    NASA knows better or, at least, did in January 2003 when this was written:
    “South American fisherman have given this phenomenon the name El Nino, which is Spanish for “The Christ Child,” because it comes about the time of the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child-Christmas.”
    http://kids.earth.nasa.gov/archive/nino/intro.html
    The following is worth reading. Search on “Callao Painter” for one of the effects not often mentioned.

  44. I wonder if the position of the warmest water in the Pacific is in any way inversely proportional to tropical atorm and hurricane activity in the Atlantic. During an El Nino year, hurricane activity is supressed. Last year, activity was around average. Now I learn that the El Nino settled in the Central Pacific not the Eastern Pacific.
    I realize that there are a lot of variables in action here but it would be interesting if there was a corellation between location of warmest water and storm activity.

  45. The way science is being twisted to support preordained conclusions is really getting astounding.
    I wonder how they explain the coming snows. Or the current freezing in the southern hemisphere.
    It’s a sight to see … the pretzel dances.

  46. The El Nino’s over the past 30 years are just releasing the extra energy build up from shortwave radiation that has increased in the oceans at the surface, thanks to the lowering albedo of the period. This is natures way of trying to address the balance and keep temperatures relatively stable. The energy from each El Nino will be eventually lost forever and expired into space, but it takes many years to remove from the oceans.
    It was only a matter of time until someone tried to blame a natural phenomenon on AGW because it clearly demonstrates with the PDO, AMO that it has caused most of the warming. The AGW folks are running out of ideas and now the only poor excuse to try and keep hold on any little thread is to try a bring this strawman on. The temperatures shown say nothing and show absolutely no evidence in the report what caused it. There have been big El Nino’s detected many decades and even centuries ago.
    “It is important to know if the increasing intensity and frequency of these central Pacific El Niños are due to natural variations in climate or to climate change caused by human-produced greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
    Looking at the PDO would be a good start where there are signs of change. Good luck in explaining how such a huge energy pool can be caused by CO2, while only the skin of the ocean can be affected for such a minute temporary moment before latent heat comes in. While the shortwave radiation penetrates down to 100m depth and has changed over this same period with decreasing albedo.

  47. “Our study concludes the long-term warming trend seen in the central Pacific is primarily due to more intense El Niños, rather than a general rise of background temperatures,” said Lee.
    “These results suggest climate change may already be affecting El Niño by shifting the center of action from the eastern to the central Pacific,” said McPhaden. “El Niño’s impact on global weather patterns is different if ocean warming occurs primarily in the central Pacific, instead of the eastern Pacific.
    “If the trend we observe continues,” McPhaden added, “it could throw a monkey wrench into long-range weather forecasting, which is largely based on our understanding of El Niños from the latter half of the 20th century.”
    The cart before the horses… Read “Dynamic Analysis of Weather and Climate” Springer 2010 2ed. by Marcel Leroux before believing that crap! El Nino is a consequence of circulation and these authors do not even know it…

  48. In review of comments
    Glaciers, Hurricanes, El Ninos and La Ninas may simply be temperature driven by ocean temperatures.
    Formation temperatures:
    Land Glaciers 22F Degrees
    La Ninas need 40F degrees
    El Ninos need 60F – 70F degrees
    Hurricanes need 82F degrees 100 feet down.
    I have only found numeric research back to 1899.
    Warmer sunspot cycles tend to have about 8 of a 11 year cycle.
    Cooler sunspot cycles; 3 to 5 of a 11 year cycle.
    The 1964 to 1975 sunspot cycle was extraordinary. Chart wise flat, but working off of three preceding warm cycles, it had 121 named storms, 7 El Ninos and 7 La Ninas.
    It eventually cooled the earth down and gave us a record Arctic Ice Sheet in 1979. Interesting climate lag there.
    One scientist states El Ninos give rise to La Ninas.
    La Ninas tend to stir up warmer waters needed for ocean food chains.
    Paul

  49. Phlgistin said: The paper here, while useful and informative, shows the myopic cherry picking to give an alarmist AGW conclusion without which nothing can be published in scientific journals concerning climate.
    I’m beginning to feel sorry for young climate scientists trying to advance their profession. They try doing real science, but then have to produce what their boss pays them to produce.
    ….. OK, not THAT sorry. These are “professionals” after all … they do do it for the money.

  50. Here’s a thought. If the jet stream moves poleward that would allow the El Niño to move northward as well. In addition, it would tend to bring about warmer temperatures with fewer cold incursions. The net may be that more Modokis will occur on a warmer planet. And, just possibly, another negative feedback.

  51. Since El Nino was only associated with world wide weather patterns in the 1950s, and satellite data(very unfocused at that) has only been available since 1980, I would say that the novelty of this pattern is questionable. The authors might merely have pointed out that the locale of El Nino’s is not as fixed as once thought. There was no need for the arching conclusions.
    This is a valuable contribution to weather science and offers further study into the types of consequential weather patterns appear as the locale of the El Nino varies.

  52. First: The El Niño from 1525 to present:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/30810082/Ninos
    Now, A relatively new type of El Niño, which has its warmest waters in the central-equatorial Pacific Ocean, rather than in the eastern-equatorial Pacific, is becoming more common and progressively stronger, according to a new study by NASA and NOAA
    That it is not El Niño. The El Niño CURRENT was named as such by peruvian fishermen from the northern coast of Peru, in Piura, because this CURRENT appears around Christmas, opposing the most usual and cold Humboldt´s current which runs from south to north along the western coasts of south america.
    In order to know something and not just describing facts, which is not science but a childish behaviour like saying: “mommy is dark in there!”, NASA s hould provide a ROBUST study pointing to the CAUSES why this is happening and not that, whatever it is. El Niño is a warm current in the pacific sea, running southwards, opposing the counterclockwise Humboldt´s current, which is driven by the pacific anticyclone (also called chilean anticyclone), and try to explain us, not so clever and funded people, what makes currents change direction. Is it the Moon?, is it the planets and the moon?, is it something “surprising and unknown”like antimatter or black holes?., is it Superman or Al Baby?. Please, tell us, because if you don´t we´ll get scared!

  53. This is it:
    vukcevic says:
    August 28, 2010 at 2:24 am
    EL NINO events arise in an area of the equatorial Pacific where crossings
    of the magnetic (Z-component) and the geographic equators are found.
    The equatorial crossing has moved towards the central Pacific during the last four centuries.

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC20.htm
    However, my dear Vuk, what does it make those magnetic fields change direction?
    Don´t take it wrongly, this is just Socrates´ Mayeutics.

  54. Snowlover123 says:
    August 28, 2010 at 4:17 am
    What a load of BS. I don’t trust anything from NASA and NOAA these days.
    My thoughts also.
    Record this, record that, and still the temperature record remains flat. More importantly will we have a “record” La Nina over 2010/2011?
    Nearly all the cooling factors are in place, these factors group together in a 60 year cycle but with an added influence when the phasing is right. This will see the northern hemisphere in general suffer this winter…Scafetta & Bastardi also agree.
    This is the start of a 30 year cycle of cooling.

  55. The difference between a regular El Nino and an El Nino Modoki needs to be explained. Any type of El Nino starts out as a mass of warm water at the beginning of the equatorial countercurrent near New Guinea and the Philippines. The countercurrent then normally carries it to South America where it washes ashore, spreads out, and thereby starts warming the atmosphere. The updraft from this may stop or even temporarily reverse the trade winds. Enough warmth is released this way to rise the global air temperature by half a degree. But any wave that washes ashore must also fall back. As that massive wave retreats for a return journey across the ocean water level behind it drops by half a meter or more, cool water from below wells up, and a La Nina has started. An El Nino Modoki happens if something stops the motion of the El Nino wave before it has reached the coast. A likely cause for this could be a storm surge from a typhoon. When this happens the warm water of the El Nino wave spreads out as though it had hit an obstacle like the coast, and its warm water again starts transferring heat to the atmosphere, but this time in the middle of the ocean. It has been reported that an El Nino Modoki sometimes may not be followed by a La Nina. This is understandable because once the El Nino wave that was held up does reach the coast and turn around it will have lost momentum and the drop in sea level behind it will not be as strong as usual.

  56. Just because we can measure it does not mean we understand it. This is all well and good but ±30 years is grossly insufficient to make any kind of trend announcements for something that has been happening for hundreds of years. This begs the question of what is normal and on what scale. It puzzles me that more effort isn’t being put into finding all that missing heat. It also puzzles me that while everyone recognizes the ENSO, high heat to low heat changes many seem surprised that the centroid of this shifts around. ENSO is just another major ocean oscillating current, all of the ones I have looked at seem to be shifting around over time. Then maybe I have missed something. Maybe this is just another case of correlation looking for a cause.

  57. Moderator: my early comment has been lost in the cyberspace, please rescue it.
    REPLY: recovered – Anthony

  58. jack morrow says: August 28, 2010 at 6:34 am
    Maybe you are on to something…..
    Nothing better to do. My late grandmother use to say ‘jobless pastor baptises piglets’.
    I am being a bit flippant, but as a hobby and as natural curiosity, I enjoy looking into unknown ; and why not if data is available.

  59. stephen richards says:
    August 28, 2010 at 5:12 am
    It’s hardly surprising that Anthohy stopped responding to you [Springer]. After such prattish remarks such as this so have I and everyone else here, I guess.

    That’s the first response you’ve ever made to me Stephen. That said, if all you have to say to me is as schoolyard as that I’ll just say thanks for promising to make it your last. Anthony can defend himself, by the way. What’s British slang for “brown noser”?

  60. vukcevic says:
    August 28, 2010 at 10:04 am
    I am being a bit flippant, but as a hobby and as natural curiosity, I enjoy looking into unknown ; and why not if data is available
    All great breakthroughs in science, arts, etc. have been always done by gifted individuals, usually, though we know it is not your case, by laymen as Thomas Alva Edison,etc,etc…
    There is one intriguing fact: If you see the El Niño records, you will see that during the Maunder Minimum years there were a lot of intense El Niño. Either those records are wrong or we are about to live much more “interesting times” than before.

  61. Enneagram:
    I see that no El Nino was ever recorded as less than intense until 1902.
    The assessments prior to that date are clearly suspect. All those years ago the means of making any assessment at all were extremely poor as compared to today.
    However, interestingly, it has always been part of my contention that overall during the interglacial the tendency has been for oceanic cycles to offset rather than supplement solar cycles over longer periods of time so as to avoid the wild swings in climate ( known as ‘Bond Events’)that are typical of a glacial epoch when I contend solar and oceanic cycles more often supplemented one another to lead to huge northern hemisphere snowfalls with too much ice left over to melt during the summers.
    So if there were a lack of moderate or weak El Ninos during the Maunder Minimum it would be consistent with my hypothesis that at that time the positive ocean cycles were indeed protecting us from the worst effects of then solar inactivity that would have instigated a highly negative polar oscillation and much worse cooling of the mid latitudes than was actually seen.

  62. Enneagram says: August 28, 2010 at 10:19 am
    ……………
    To be even more flippant:
    Edison was a ‘pedestrian’ thinker in comparison to the greatest of the Serbs Nikola Tesla.
    Edison’s DC couldn’t be stepped up, required a large power plant every square mile and thick cables for transmission. Tesla invented AC. Scientists of the late 1880’s were convinced that no motor could work with AC (sure sign it could!). After all, AC electricity reverses itself 60 times a second, so all previous motors would just rock back and forth 60 times a second. Tesla solved this problem and proved them all wrong. Tesla signed a contract with Westinghouse, but Edison had too much money invested into his DC system, and he tried his best to discredit Tesla by showing that AC was more dangerous than DC. Edison paid local children 25 cents for each stray dog they could bring him. Then he would hold press conferences and electrocute the dogs at public gatherings to frighten people. He claimed that DC could not kill, but in fact, it could.
    Yes, it was actually Edison who invented the electric chair to frighten people away from Tesla’s AC system. Edison was rich American capitalist, Tesla was poor Serbian immigrant, but eventually Tesla was triumphant.
    His lab’s fire (strange that) burnt all his works, from which he never recovered.
    However no man is an island unto himself, and so ‘the sun is no a star unto itself’ or ‘the Earth is no a planet unto itself’.
    Maunder minimum’s el’Ninos strong or or not; the sun, the Earth, Edison, Tesla, you, I and the rest are the children of one the same universe, made just of tree little bits: proton, electron and neutron, it is just a minor matter of their re-arrangements.

  63. They found the intensity of El Niños in the central Pacific has nearly doubled, with the most intense event occurring in 2009-10.
    If that is true then the earth must be cooling since temperature around the earth was higher from the 1998 El Nino.
    I am certain this phrase “most intense event occurring in 2009-10” will be used to help justify why GISTemp shows 2010 is the ‘hottest year ever’—-if indeed it does show that in January, 2011.

  64. If the majority of the warming from human GHG’s has indeed been absorbed into the oceans, as NOAA stipulates, then it not unreasonable to think that this heat could cause some changes in natural ocean cycles such as ENSO, PDO, etc. This notion does not sit well with AGW skeptics, as can be expected.

  65. “Our study concludes the long-term warming trend seen in the central Pacific is primarily due to more intense El Niños, rather than a general rise of background temperatures,” said Lee.
    Ummm…. huh? Which is it? Warming is causing stronger El Ninos or stronger El Ninos are causing warming? You can’t have both sir.

  66. “Our study concludes the long-term warming trend seen in the central Pacific is primarily due to more intense El Niños, rather than a general rise of background temperatures,” said Lee.
    There would be one cause in the chain of warming, not two separate ones, as you are arguing.

  67. tarpon says:
    August 28, 2010 at 8:14 am
    The way science is being twisted to support preordained conclusions is really getting astounding.
    I wonder how they explain the coming snows. Or the current freezing in the southern hemisphere.
    It’s a sight to see … the pretzel dances.

    Hence my neologism, “scientwists”

  68. “If the trend we observe continues,” McPhaden added, “it could throw a monkey wrench into long-range weather forecasting, which is largely based on our understanding of El Niños from the latter half of the 20th century.”
    They should not have used such a small data set, i.e., “the latter half of the 20th century”, to draw conclusions from in the first place. ‘Global warming’ cannot be blamed for the “monkey wrench” rather their unscientific approach is to blame!

  69. since 1982……..They found the intensity of El Niños in the central Pacific has nearly doubled….a trend attributed by some to the effects of global warming.
    If this is true then it’s highly likely that El Ninos during the Medieval Warm Period were even more frequent and intense since it was warmer on earth then than now.

  70. As pointed out on earlier posts, I had predicted a feverish rush of CAGW scientific literature pouring out after the Climagegate affair. The reason for this is only in part to rescue whatever the agenda they can. The feverishness however comes from the cooling signs that are upon us – even acknowledged by many of their stalwarts (Trenbreth and his remarks in a Climategate email that it was a travesty that there had been no warming in the past decade). They know that once things freeze up again: Arctic ice, glacier masses increase, UK elderly poor having to burn books again to keep warm ( http://www.metro.co.uk/news/807821-pensioners-burn-books-for-warmth ), that the jig is up. The post on Nature and the cold in the SH above this post
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/28/nature-notices-the-cold-global-warming-blamed/
    along with this gobal warming El Nino is an escalation of the fever by pre-empting signs of the cooling to come (no mention of deepening La Nina) blaming it on global warming. This gives them more time when they can use cooling as a sign of warming. I hope someone is saving all these articles for a study of the anatomy of the crashing of a scientific theory.

  71. Arno Arrak:
    August 28, 2010 at 9:56 am
    Animation of waters, temperature and height, along the equator in the Pacific
    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/tao/jsdisplay/plots/gifani/t-dyn.gif
    from this page
    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/tao/vis/tao-vis.html
    they also feature this same study of this post at the site, under “What’s New”
    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/
    It should have been categorized “What’s Happened Before But We’re Just Learning About It Now So We’re Going To Call It Global Warming”

  72. I don’t understand how analysis of El Nino events can be meaningful without concurrently studying La Nina events. Are not the trends derived from the net differences between the two what matters?
    I recall that the giant anchovy fishery along the west coast of south America crashed in the late 1960s due to a sudden and significant change in water temperature. The fish disappeared. I believe that subsequent investigation led to the discovery (or perhaps meaningful understanding)
    We still remain largely ignorant of the causes and interrelationships of these phenomena, including their contribution to weather formation.

  73. Quote:
    ““Our study concludes the long-term warming trend seen in the central Pacific is primarily due to more intense El Niños, rather than a general rise of background temperatures,” said Lee.”
    Wait, I thought El Ninos were the RESULT of warm waters, not the causal factor for warm water. Are the really saying that El Ninos cause waters to get warm?
    Is that like saying snow causes the ground to get cold?

  74. I was waiting to see what Bob Tisdale had to say since he has the actual paper and is the top expert here on this.
    But for some perspective while we wait:
    There is no trend in the ENSO.
    It is one of the few areas in the oceans which does not have a trend over the long-term. Given this is unusual enough and it is by far the most important natural ocean cycle impacting the whole world’s climate really, it should be thoroughly investigated. Instead, we have scientists trying to put another global warming stamp on it.
    Here is the Nino 3.4 monthly anomaly going back to 1871 (using the most common ocean dataset used for the ENSO – Trenberth/NOAA/CPC’s measure using the Smith and Reynolds ocean dataset).
    It is increasing at 0.009C per decade (and given its impact on temperatures, it is increasing the global temperature by 0.0007C per decade over that period – ie ZERO).
    http://a.imageshack.us/img844/1079/nino341871.png
    Let’s look at the high resolution weekly data going back to November 1981 which should cover the same period as the paper (using OISST v2). It is actually declining by 0.002C per decade (with a nil impact on temperatures).
    http://a.imageshack.us/img823/2301/weeklynino34.png
    Let’s also look at the Nino 3 region versus the Nino 4 region back to 1856 (the Kaplan SST dataset). Both have essentially Zero trend but there are some higher spikes in the Nino 3 region lately – actually the Eastern Pacific versus the Central Pacific as was claimed in this paper.
    http://a.imageshack.us/img830/3963/nino3and41856.png
    Overall, I’m sure one can cherrypick a certain period and come up with a trend in the ENSO and write a paper about it.
    But there isn’t one. And this also has an important impact on global warming science. It has been theorized that the ENSO could increase in a warming world – that we might end up with a permanent El Nino for example. But the long-term data says that is not happening – the data says the ENSO is a natural oscillation – El Nino then La Nina then neutral and so on – it is not reacting to a warmer world. It is separate enough from the rest of the ocean in that its waters more-or-less just keep circulating in the same area (although there is certainly some incoming water from and outgoing water into other ocean currents).

  75. R Gates
    The bad news for most people that believe CO2 gases can warm the oceans is the scientific fact that longwave radiation can’t warm a volume of water, only the surface. Whereas shortwave radiation easily warms a volume of water. The atmsosphere is always in equilibrium with the ocean, whatever the ocean does, the atmosphere follows. Hence, the atmosphere above the ocean can’t warm the surface.
    The only exception to this rule is via convection, where low or high temperatures are transferred across the coasts or the very edges of oceans via changing weather patterns from a land mass. The rest of the ocean can’t warm because this convection can’t reach it and the changing seasonal yearly short wave radiation determines these levels.
    You may have seen diagrams of changing fluxes between the atmosphere, but 100w of shortwave radiation is much different to 100w longwave radiation. This can easily be observed by a simple experiment in your garden. Place two containers of water at same temperature in identical containers with the same volume. One in the shade where shortwave radiation directly from the sun can’t reach it at all, but longwave can. The other directly in a spot where shortwave radiation is in contact most of the day. Record the temperature change of both near the bottom of the containers.
    Well I have already done this experiment myself a number of years ago now. Starting temperature of the water for both was 15c and left out most the day with air temperatures reaching no higher than 21c. (sunny and mostly clear day, light winds) The experiment ended just as the sun stopped directly reaching the exposed sample. The volume of water exposed directly to the sun warmed up to 35c. While the shaded volume recorded no change and stayed at 15c, despite longwave radiation and atmosphere temperatures up to 6c higher.

  76. I might also add, that there has been some additional cooling in the Pacific subsurface temperatures recently. The ECWMF ocean model is recording some -9Cs at 140W 100 metres deep (and I have not seen a +/-9C before in the equatorial Pacific subsurface ocean temperatures going back to 1980 even in the Super El Ninos).
    That means that enough cool water has now built to sustain this La Nina for a long time and it might be enough to push it over the top and make it the very first Super La Nina (more than -2.5C).
    http://www.ecmwf.int/products/forecasts/d/charts/ocean/real_time/yzmaps/
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/anim/wkxzteq_anm.gif
    It is still early, but a record La Nina would make this study a moot point obviously.

  77. Gary Pearse,
    You may be right.
    I add, they may not be allowed to or know where to look for the cause and effect.
    Paul

  78. vukcevic says:
    August 28, 2010 at 10:21 am
    Yes, I´ve just seen the graph: That line crosses 60 km.south of my house, at the SA west coast. Precisely there, back in 1957 (I still can remember it) NASA launched two
    NIKE rockets from that place to study the magnetic equator, during the IGY. (12°39´SL).

  79. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
    August 28, 2010 at 11:44 am
    They are just lying again. I live in the El Nino 1+2 area, there was not any El Nino this year. A real one increases local temperatures above 35°C (Up to 38°C many times during 97-98 El Nino); the last summertime we reached just 30° only a few days in late february. BTW, in 97-98 El Nino, deserted hills around the city turned green, however with NO rain whatsoever. Again: Warm is good.

  80. Arno Arrak:
    August 28, 2010 at 9:56 am
    In that red fired gif animation see the longitudes below, they conveniently start at 100°west. El Niño, the real one, starts at 75°west. They are picking green cherries and painting them red.

  81. To Gary,
    I add:
    Plato believed that people sit in a cave facing down into the darkness. The enlightened try to take one-by-one each person and face them towards the light at the opening of the cave.
    I knew they were deceiving us and had us looking down into the cave. One day I found a book titled, “Through Space and Time” by Sir James Jeans of the Royal Society.
    He took all the classes of a liberal science degree and rolled them into one book. The book clearly rebutted the IPCC and Al Gore nearly 80 years ago.
    We are in a global warming period that won’t happen again for 115,000 years. In the last 10,000 years we had 3 global warming periods.
    We are in the latter part of this global warming period before we slide into the next ice age.
    We are in another cooling period that happens every 100 years. That will last at least 30 years.
    The people who will suffer the most are the elderly and the poor whom depend on big government much as those whom were dependent on the government in Katrina.
    That showed up in an Ireland report just last week. This group feels the effects of winters the most and is reflected in higher death counts during winter months.
    Like lambs they depend on the farmer. The farmer doesn’t know better to house them for the next 30 years.
    Those who bought into the darkness of the cave such as Hollywood producers, stars and starlets, politicians, directors of our key government offices, liberals and intellects will be looking more into the darkness for answers as 30 years of severe winters come upon us.
    Why? They want to believe they can answer the problem.
    I was thinking today how rural we will be in 50 years as all our technical gains are lost.
    If sunspot activity doesn’t begin to pick up in the next two years, another mini-ice age may be upon us.
    Paul

  82. Linear trends are illogical in an oscillating system. In agriculture, it would be financial suicide to pay attention to this kind of a statistic. Does it matter much to the span of a human life what has happened linearly? No. If you were to tell a human being at birth to spend the rest of his or her life preparing for a slight downward trend, or a slight upward trend, you would set that person up for much misery. So can we dispense with linear trends? Please?

  83. Paul Pierett, Thanks for the comment on Plato in your response to Gary Pearse’s excellent post.
    Plato explained that the people chained to the wall in the cave received enhanced prestige when they correctly predicted what the shadows on the wall would do next. [Maybe that’s a bad analogy, since planet Earth is not cooperating with the shadow predictors IPCC or James Hansen.]
    Plato also wrote in his Republic that society should be divided into the aristocracy, the army under the direction of the aristocracy, and the vast unarmed peasantry. The analogy works a little better there — no doubt the UN is working toward those exact same goals. It is clear in every action they take: the UN Aristocrats ruling the unarmed, tax-paying Peasantry [that’s us], through the coercion supplied by the UN Blue Helmets and the World Court. The long term goal is to eliminate sovereign military forces. Then they’re home free. No dissent will be tolerated. This is the age of an internet that never forgets what you wrote. Ever. So you’re already branded as peasant stock – if you’re lucky, and if you didn’t say too much. ☹
    I just never expected they would demonize a harmless, beneficial trace gas to advance their agenda. Or that so many scientists would sell their ethics so easily. They’re lucky, I suppose: Cthulhu eats the souls of his supporters last.

  84. Trucker Bob says: “Anthony, I admit my ignorance about sea surface temperature records, so I ask for your help here. A.R.G.O’s are very recent but do they indicate any warming outside what would normally be observed in the central Pacific as this study would indicate?”
    You’re right. ARGO is recent. But their primary intent is measuring subsurface data and they spend most of the time away from the surface. There have been other floats with multiple sensors in the tropical Pacific since the late 1970s. Refer to the TOA project website:
    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/tao/index.shtml
    The Lee & McPhaden paper actually shows a decrease in the overall strength in El Nino events, though there has been a slight increase in Central Pacific El Ninos.
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/08/on-lee-and-mcphaden-2010-increasing.html

  85. Bill Illis
    I do agree with your posts, but there are alternative decadal warm and cool phases of ENSO shown in the data. This is where the PDO comes into it and difficult to explain these changes when we don’t know what causes them. I guessing along the lines that something (Arctic melt or no ice melt for long periods) onsets these different phases by altering the salanity of the oceans in key areas and different circulations result, causing different regions off ocean upwelling to occur more often. Though I don’t know if anybody has actually detected these changes. Maybe Bob Tisdale has an idea how these different phases even occur.
    While these warm phases and cool phases on there own will warm and cool the atmosphere over a decadal scale. When both combined over about a 65-70 year period should almost balance out to figures you have mentioned like 0.009c etc. Although changes in albedo is going to effect how much shortwave radiation is going to increase/decrease the ocean energy content, which influences how these events respond. It’s like night and day, where day is the warm phase and night is the cool phase. Looking back the daily temperature was 15c, but the current day tempearture is 20c. There taking this point in time to judge that it has warmed more than the last daily temperature when the night phase hasn’t even occured yet.
    The La Ninas and El Ninos are going to have a bigger effect on atmospheric temperatures the more surface area of the ocean they cover. This is not taken into account with the simple Nino3.4, Nino3 or Nino 4 data. There have been narrow ENSO events and wide events showing an impressive difference on the eye when looking at SST data. Also doesn’t take into account how much it has caused other regions away from this area to warm or cool.

  86. After reading Bob’s excellent post on this and the paper itself, it is hard to believe how far off reality things have gotten to.
    Generally, if you read a pro-AGW paper and review the data in it, the actual evidence almost always points to a different conclusion.
    There is huge pressure on climate scientists to write abstracts as if the paper supports global warming (you get excommunicted if you don’t) and there is great pressure on news release writers to add a catastrophic global warming angle to the paper (so that it gets picked by the media and the science media), that one should actually just skip the abstracts and the news releases and go straight to the paper and the data.
    After having seen 100s of examples of this, I would say 80% of pro-AGW papers actually support some very modest warming only and not the dangerous global warming angle (“dangerous” being a common word in abstracts). People put time in, gather the data, write a paper – and then they are forced to put a pro-AGW spin on it by supervisors, reviewers, editors or just knowing the reaction of the community itself – they still put the non-dangerous data into the paper and must feel a little schizophrenic when the paragraph doesn’t match the chart/data but the news release still makes it to the La Times anyway.

  87. Bob Tisdale:
    Just a quick thanks for your help Bob, I’ll now take the time to explore your links.

  88. I don’t think we can dispense with linear trends.
    Civilization depends on farming and under The US house of Reps, Cap and Trade bill, farms and ranching that depends on a given temperature that are now coming on to the House radar.
    In the coming minimum we will lose more than average inch of rain and that is already being felt around the world. Sir Richard Gregory proved around 1925 that the lake levels of Lake Victoria, that feeds the Nile matched the sunspot cycles.
    We are now in a minimum. That will affect farming and ranching. Mongolia lost millions of livestock and Scotland lost 17,000 lambs last winter.
    During the milder sunspot cycles of the early 1900s, the US was experiencing average winter temperatures well below freezing. On the other hand, from 1934 to 2007, we had some of the hottest sunspot cycles in 300 years.
    Since 1984 average winter temperatures have been above freezing.
    If one reviews the history of Europe during the Mini-Ice age, farms pretty much switched to the potato so their nations could survive. The French on the other hand did not wish to part with their cereal grains.
    Parts of France lost 30% of their population.
    Until our nations get off of this man-made global warming hoax and listen to the scientist that can address what I am talking about here and quit raking the good scientists across the coals in Congressional hearings,,,
    We will not be prepared for what is coming.
    Simply take the movie, “The Day After”, slow it down to five years, slow down the scenes, slow down the affects, throw in Winters without Summers, and take out the actors and put yourself in their shoes. Take the ice sheet out of the picture and replace it with some growing glaciers.
    Next, show the lost of cattle and other livestock on US farms due to severe winters. Show farmers and ranchers being hauled in to court by animal rights groups and sympathetic or politically correct sheriffs.
    Next, take the picture of Russia today and take out the Russians and put is US citizens fighting fires and 20% lost of grain crops.
    I am not painting a linear picture, I am sketching what is coming so far.
    Add to your email, the following Google News alerts.
    Key in these newspaper key words after midnight
    Drought
    Winter Animal Deaths
    Winter deaths
    Global warming
    Global warming hoax
    Global cooling
    Global cooling hoax
    Sunspots
    Sunspot activity
    Glaciers
    Glacier growth
    Key in the cast of characters on both sides of the global warming hoax fight
    Hurricanes
    Hurricane Activity
    Tree Ring Research
    Farm losses
    Herd losses
    Deer losses
    Copenhagen
    Climate-gate
    Climate hoax
    Climate gate emails
    This will give you about every newspaper report in the world each morning on these topics.
    This is my morning report.
    I will say this about that, after Copenhagen and climate-gate, the throne of the IPCC was shaken. The battlefield is a little more level now.
    I find it a little humorous here in the US that Republicans are gaining an understanding of sunspots and what I am saying while Democrats and liberals still think an abundance of cows are killing us.
    How many cows does it take to plug in a sunspot?
    Cows died on their feet in the mini-ice age and peasants slept with them during the minimums in the early 1700 and 1800.
    Is that the answer we are looking for, five cows per household?
    Stack the wood a little higher and a little longer this year.
    Something to think about.
    Paul

  89. Matt G says:
    August 28, 2010 at 1:41 pm
    Hence, the atmosphere above the ocean can’t warm the surface.

    Correct.
    But it can slow down how quickly the surface cools. Shortwave in from the sun heats the ocean, longwave out to cool it. Gases like water vapor, CO2, and methane let most of the shortwave through from the sun unattenuated but absorb the longwave that radiates back up from the surface. In other words they don’t slow down heating from the sun but they impede cooling back out into space. The net effect is the surface temperature rises which causes a greater temperature difference between the ocean and space. The greater temperature difference causes faster longwave heat transfer through the gases loss so that incoming heat and outgoing heat remain in balance.
    Water in all its phases plays such a large role in determining equilibrium temperature that the atmosphere’s greatest role is simply supplying 14.7 psi pressure at the surface which allows liquid water to exist. The heat capacity of the global ocean is 1000 times that of the atmosphere. Moreover water largely controls the planet’s albedo through clouds and snow and circulates vast amounts of heat through both ocean currents and as water vapor which evaporates from the ocean surface carrying an enormous amount of latent heat with it and throws off that heat high in the atmosphere (where it is easier for the heat to escape into space) when it condenses into a cloud. Moreover if it’s during the day the cloud then reflects most of the shortwave radiation from the sun so the ocean surface gets far less daytime heating.
    Greenhouse gases (other than water vapor) are mere details in comparison and CO2 has to increase exponentially to keep a linear insulating effect. There doesn’t appear to be enough fossil fuel on the planet to sustain exponentially increasing atmospheric CO2 for long enough to have anything but overwhelmining positive effect of raising global temperature by a couple of degrees C, speeding up the water cycle, and through fertilizing the atmosphere for plant growth along with longer growing seasons speeds up the carbon cycle. The only thing not to like is thermal expansion of the ocean which should continue to rise with temperature on the order of about 3-4 millitmeters per year. It’s risen an awful lot faster than that in both the distant and recent geological past. About the only species that is inconvienced much by a rising ocean is us and only because we built permanent stuff like cities and major ports very close to sea level or in some cases below sea level behind dikes and levees. That’s our fault for being so short sighted. The global ocean has been rising for thousands of years. Inability to easily relocate industrial age infrastructure is a problem of very recent origin. Even so, the projected rise is marginal (1 to 2 feet per century) and we’ll just have to deal with it – if it actually happens. Nasty things like the Little Ice Age aren’t going to be lessened in severity much by global warming, a huge volcano can wreak biosphere havoc for years afterward by blocking a lot of sun, a coronal mass ejection of size that happens once a century or so would destroy worldwide electrical grids, and so forth. So-called anthropogenic climate change is the least of our worries. If it’s real then great because it’s beneficial. If it isn’t real we should be prepared for global cooling. And we need a long term answer for an energy supply against the day when fossil fuel supplies get short and an electrical grid that will be shut down for years in the event of a big CME.
    There’s a million things we should be investing in for the future but drastically raising the price of energy right now by discouraging fossil fuel CO2 production isn’t one of them.

  90. Stephen Richards: “Again, this El Niño thing has been driving me mad. I have seen nothing in 50 years of study that has defined clearly and precisely the origins of the Niña/o familly.” Clearly you have not read my book or you would know what El Nina/o is. ENSO is sloshing back and forth of the ocean waters from east to west thanks to wave resonance. Equatorial currents and trade winds push the water west until blocked by the Philippines and New Guinea. Water piles up and eventually returns east via the equatorial countercurrent. If you blow across the end of a glass tube you hear its resonant frequency or tone. Trade winds are the equivalent of blowing across the tube and the ocean answers with its resonant frequency – about one cycle every four-five years. As one of these El Nino waves reaches South America via the countercurrent it runs ashore, spreads out, and starts warming the atmosphere. Global air temperature will go up half a degree and rising warm air will stop or even reverse the trade winds. But any wave that runs ashore will also have to fall back. As the El Nino wave retreats sea level in its wake drops by half a meter or more and cold water from below wells up to start a La Nina. As much as the El Nino warmed the air the La Nina will now cool it. Result is a multi-year temperature oscillation about a midpoint that may stay the same for decades. There is more, but these are the basics you need to know.

  91. Bob Tisdale says:
    August 28, 2010 at 5:26 pm
    R. Gates says: “If the majority of the warming from human GHG’s has indeed been absorbed into the oceans, as NOAA stipulates…”
    This is not reflected in the NODC’s OHC data. Refer to:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/09/enso-dominates-nodc-ocean-heat-content.html
    And:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/10/north-atlantic-ocean-heat-content-0-700.html
    And:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/12/north-pacific-ocean-heat-content-shift.html
    ____
    With all due respect, this is not what NOAA seems to be saying.
    They indicated that the vast majority of AGW is going into the oceans, which they did, quite clearly in their State of the Climate Report for 2009. Check out the nice graph on page 4 of the summary that can be found here:
    http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/bams-sotc/2009/bams-sotc-2009-brochure-lo-rez.pdf
    The only point I was making is that according to NOAA, the bulk of AGW has gone into the oceans at approximately 93.4% according to their own graph. If this were even close to being accurate, it would not be unreasonable to postulate that such warming could alter the nature, frequency, duration, location, intensity, etc of natural ocean cycles such as ENSO, PDO, etc.
    Of course, this gets back to Trenberth’s entire “travesty” comment, (used in the proper and accurate context). We simply don’t have enough measurements in deep enough water to fully know what is going on with the deeper OHC. Though, as we know, some recent research would seem to indicate that some OHC increases were being significantly underestimated, and may be revised upward by some accounts, perhaps accounting for a bit (but hardly all) of the missing ocean heat.

  92. R. Gates says:
    August 29, 2010 at 10:16 pm
    Though, as we know, some recent research would seem to indicate that some OHC increases were being significantly underestimated, and may be revised upward by some accounts, perhaps accounting for a bit (but hardly all) of the missing ocean heat.
    =========================================
    Of course….if you are to believe NOAA….which of course you would.
    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100519_ocean.html
    Well they got a few clues that they were being ridiculously and tragically obtuse….so their NEW motto is:
    “NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources.”
    It used to say “NOAA understands and predicts…”
    Blah blah blah….all of these ******* public servants thinking they are gods.
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  93. R. Gates says:
    August 29, 2010 at 10:16 pm
    The only point I was making is that according to NOAA, the bulk of AGW has gone into the oceans at approximately 93.4% according to their own graph. If this were even close to being accurate, it would not be unreasonable to postulate that such warming could alter the nature, frequency, duration, location, intensity, etc of natural ocean cycles such as ENSO, PDO, etc.
    =================================
    And it would not be unreasonable for me to postulate that you are officially mentally challenged.
    But I am not going to do that.
    It is so much better to let history play out on its own so you have a clear idea of who the charlatans and snake oil salesmen are, and who are not.
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  94. Paul Pierett says:
    August 28, 2010 at 9:19 pm
    Something to think about.
    Paul
    ===========================
    Something to think about, too, is your tropical cyclone forecast.
    What was that prediction, again?
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  95. Commenting on one of the earliest posts here:
    phlogiston says:
    Recently Bob Tisdale posted here on WUWT showing from recent decades that the el Nino Modoki type was less likely than the “standard” el Nino to be followed hot on its heels by a La Nina event. This analysis, based on several closely spaced el Ninos recently (e.g. 1991-2, 1994-5, 2002-3, 2004-5),
    ….
    Ah … but 2005 had a Nina follow. I know Officially that was NOT a La Nina by the Rules of TODAY, but the NOAA head had the DEFINITION of La Nina changed to require a longer period above ONI=0.5 – – 2005 hit = 0.8, WELL OVER the previous standard – – but it was a Brief event. – -so the Change meant the Late-2005 event would not be CALLED a La Nina – – thus allowing him to grab Headlines, in this Post-Katrina Era, by predicting an above-average hurricane Season ! – – Despite the Rule of Thumb that La Ninas make for smaller (if more numerous), storms.
    >> Since then, NOAA has found some excuse to predict EVERY YEAR to be FAR ABOVE AVERAGE. And been WRONG.
    But they get lots of Headlines. Politically that is = SUCCESS.
    … but Science loses Credibility. What if a REAL Danger needs warning about ?

  96. Hello Chris,
    If I put all my comments together, unlike the pros whom give big numbers, trash Florida tourism and cause Floridians to blow them off, I summarize:
    4 to 7 named storms
    50/50 mix of tropical storms and hurricanes.
    If I could find historical data to justify adding major hurricane numbers in this year’s prediction, I would. I didn’t for that reason. If there was one or two, that is about par for the course this year.
    I also said in one blog there would be several tropical depressions and that is part of the new Hurricane Tracking Center tracking data.
    My numbers are based on three factors I use,
    1. Historical data that has sunspot activity along with Accumulated Cyclone Energy, number of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes.
    2. Volcanic activity around the Atlantic, in which Iceland had one, but how much did it affect temperatures?
    3. The Average US Winter temperatures and this past year was 31.4F degrees, 3F degrees below historical temperature that gives us the Pro forecasts for this year.
    Thus, a shorter season should be added in. I haven’t finished my distribution numbers yet, however, the season should be over in October.
    So far:
    There have been 7 official tropical depressions from which 5 became storms
    Two tropical storms
    Three hurricanes
    Tropical Storms Bonnie and Colin
    And
    Hurricanes Alex, Danielle and Earl.
    I heard Danielle made Cat 4 which is not too hard staying at sea, but it look like it has pretty much broken now. That is a good sign it is a weak season and the fact the wind currents turned it on its heels.
    A new factor revealed itself this year, the collapse of humidity in the upper atmosphere. That may be a major player in years to come.
    The Farmer’s Almanac is forcasting Cold and a dry winter. Ouch!
    I probably gave you more than you asked for, but I am copying all my notes, comments and work for the next research paper.
    Paul

  97. Charles Wilson: The definition of what a La Nina is is plain wrong. It should be defined as the cool period initiated by the retreat of an El Nino wave. Every El Nino before 1998 was followed by a La Nina as satellite records show. If it did not meet the fashionable definition at the time that is because those defining it have no idea what a La Nina is nor what an El Nino is, for that matter. Check out my entries above and read my book.

  98. R. Gates says: “They indicated that the vast majority of AGW is going into the oceans, which they did, quite clearly in their State of the Climate Report for 2009. Check out the nice graph on page 4 of the summary that can be found here:”
    The posts I linked used the NODC OHC data. That dataset is listed in the NOAA State of the Climate Report for 2009 (the OHC graph on page 4) as Levitus et al (2009). Again, that OHC dataset, when broken down into hemispheric and ocean-basin subsets, does not reflect Anthropogenic Global Warming. It shows the majority of the rise in global OHC can be explain by ENSO, changes in sea level pressure, and the AMO.
    You continued, “The only point I was making is that according to NOAA, the bulk of AGW has gone into the oceans at approximately 93.4% according to their own graph. If this were even close to being accurate, it would not be unreasonable to postulate that such warming could alter the nature, frequency, duration, location, intensity, etc of natural ocean cycles such as ENSO, PDO, etc.”
    The assumption in your comment is that the NOAA presentation was “even close to being accurate.”
    Here’s a why I don’t buy an assumption that the increase in OHC is changing the frequency and magnitude of ENSO events: NINO3.4 SST anomalies smoothed using a 121-month filter (same smoothing used by NOAA for their AMO dataset) show decadal and multdecadal variability, not a continuous rise:
    http://i43.tinypic.com/33agh3c.jpg
    Second, the linear trend of NINO3.4 SST anomalies from 1900 to present is flat:
    http://i34.tinypic.com/1rwydg.jpg
    Regards

  99. Charles Wilson says: “…the NOAA head had the DEFINITION of La Nina changed to require a longer period above ONI=0.5 – – 2005 hit = 0.8, WELL OVER the previous standard – – but it was a Brief event. – -so the Change meant the Late-2005 event would not be CALLED a La Nina…”
    Do you have a link to the older version of the NOAA ENSO event definition?

  100. Bob Tisdale:
    Just a quick Search: found 1997: “Values above thresholds of ±0.5°C for Niño 3 and ±0.4°C for Niño 3.4 are stippled ”
    — graphs show ANY duration is OK – – but he is using a 5-month not the 3-month running average NOAA uses today http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/papers/clivar97/ Titled “The Definition of El Nino”.
    Here is NOAA calling the late 2005-06 Event a La Nina: “NOAA Says La Nina Here As Predicted”
    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:hVc_aFkqXuUJ:www.panama-guide.com/article.php/20060209091138839+ONI+ENSO+definition&cd=62&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
    In detail:
    La Niña events are operationally defined using the Oceanic Niño Index (ONI), which is the three-month running-mean values of sea surface temperature departures from average in the Niño 3.4 region of the central Pacific (bounded by 5N-5S, 120-170W). NOAA defines La Niña as the condition whereby the ONI is less than or equal to -0.5 degrees C. This definition was adopted by the U.S. and 25 other countries in North and Central America and the Caribbean in April 2005
    From 2004 “The NOAA operational definition for El Niño [Oceanic Niño Index (ONI), a three-month running mean of the Niño 3.4 index, greater than or equal to +0.5°C] was satisfied for the period June-August 2004, with a value of +0.7°C. ” http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:-DdUBjKyQhgJ:www.storm2k.org/phpbb2/viewtopic.php%3Ff%3D31%26t%3D48351%26start%3D0%26st%3D0%26sk%3Dt%26sd%3Da+ONI+ENSO+definition&cd=91&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
    In the June 2002 Bulletin of Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society v.17
    ” NOAA’s operational definitions for El Niño and La Niña, based on the index, are:
    El Niño: A phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific Ocean characterized by a positive sea surface temperature departure from normal (for the 1971-2000 base period) in the Niño 3.4 region greater than or equal in magnitude to 0.5C, averaged over three consecutive months. http://www.amos.org.au/documents/item/57
    Definition : gives NO duration minimum: “Last revised 6.10.2005”
    http://www.weather.gov/om/csd/pds/PCU4/Composites/CompInstructions.pdf
    Also, cf http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears.shtml – – NOAA changed their ONI rating algorithm slightly which dropped the -0.8 I remembered to -0.7 but you can click & get the OLD version is still on their site.http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears.shtml

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