La Niña on the way out, "La Nada" on the way in

From NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab:

The latest satellite data of Pacific Ocean sea surface heights

The latest satellite data of Pacific Ocean sea surface heights from the NASA/European Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason-2 satellite show near-normal conditions in the equatorial Pacific. The image is based on the average of 10 days of data centered on June 18, 2011. Higher (warmer) than normal sea surface heights are indicated by yellows and reds, while lower (cooler) than normal sea surface heights are depicted in blues and purples. Green indicates near-normal conditions. Image credit: NASA/JPL Ocean Surface Topography Team - click for larger image

La Niña’s Exit Leaves Climate Forecasts in Limbo

It’s what Bill Patzert, a climatologist and oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., likes to call a “La Nada” – that puzzling period between cycles of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean when sea surface heights in the equatorial Pacific are near average.

The comings and goings of El Niño and La Niña are part of a long-term, evolving state of global climate, for which measurements of sea surface height are a key indicator. For the past three months, since last year’s strong La Niña event dissipated, data collected by the U.S.-French Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 oceanography satellite have shown that the equatorial Pacific sea surface heights have been stable and near average. Elsewhere, however, the northeastern Pacific Ocean remains quite cool, with sea levels much lower than normal. The presence of cool ocean waters off the U.S. West Coast has also been a factor in this year’s cool and foggy spring there.

The current state of the Pacific is shown in this OSTM/Jason-2 image, based on the average of 10 days of data centered on June 18, 2011. The image depicts places where Pacific sea surface height is higher (warmer) than normal as yellow and red, while places where the sea surface is lower (cooler) than normal are shown in blue and purple. Green indicates near-normal conditions. Sea surface height is an indicator of how much of the sun’s heat is stored in the upper ocean.

For oceanographers and climate scientists like Patzert, “La Nada” conditions can bring with them a high degree of uncertainty. While some forecasters (targeting the next couple of seasons) have suggested La Nada will bring about “normal” weather conditions, Patzert cautions previous protracted La Nadas have often delivered unruly jet stream patterns and wild weather swings.

In addition, some climatologists are pondering whether a warm El Niño pattern (which often follows La Niña) may be lurking over the horizon. Patzert says that would be perfectly fine for the United States.

“For the United States, there would be some positives to the appearance of El Niño this summer,” Patzert said. “The parched and fire-ravaged southern tier of the country would certainly benefit from a good El Niño soaking. Looking ahead to late August and September, El Niño would also tend to dampen the 2011 hurricane season in the United States. We’ve had enough wild and punishing weather this year. Relief from the drought across the southern United States and a mild hurricane season would be very welcome.”

Jason-2 scientists will continue to monitor Pacific Ocean sea surface heights for signs of El Niño, La Niña or prolonged neutral conditions.

JPL manages the U.S. portion of the OSTM/Jason-2 mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C.

For more information on NASA’s ocean surface topography missions, visit: http://sealevel.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/ .

To view the latest Jason-1 and OSTM/Jason-2 data, visit: http://sealevel.jpl.nasa.gov/science/elninopdo/latestdata/ .

Alan Buis

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Alan.buis@jpl.nasa.gov

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See also the WUWT ENSO reference page for the latest information

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62 thoughts on “La Niña on the way out, "La Nada" on the way in

  1. I’m banking on La Nina returning by the winter. Sub-surface waters are cooler now than in 2008 when we returned to La Nina for the winter.

  2. If it’s convenient… “It’s just weather’.
    Of course, if it isn’t convenient- it’s all man’s fault.

  3. Pacific sub surface temperatures have been gradually dropping for 2 months now, my guess is on weak la nina conditions through the winter months.

  4. Can someone explain to me why both Jason and Envisat show sea level rise, exactly where GRACE and GOCE show strong gravitation from the Pacific Ring of Fire?
    and why, when Envisat showed sea levels falling, they tuned it to match the climate models so it showed sea levels rising?
    Envisat yearly report 2008
    http://bit.ly/j33fQv

  5. Okay, so forgive the question from the ignoramus engineer, but if El Niño follows La Niña follows El Niño etc. on a time scale of every one to two years (as would seem to be indicated by Patzert’s comments) then when is there time in between to establish any kind of pattern resembling ‘normal’? I seem to recall learning back in the 80’s that the El Niño/La Niña cycle typically ran about seven years or so – now it seems like every time you see a medium- to long-range forecast, it’s all the forecaster wants to talk about.
    Should I have believed Newspeak Newsweek when they told me ‘This is the New Normal’?

  6. At the moment NCEP model is showing the return of La Niña starting September. Winter should be REALLY interesting.

  7. LeeHarvey says:
    July 5, 2011 at 12:17 pm
    Do a search for ENSO. What you will see are episodes where the La Niña go to normal and then back to La Niña and the El Niño does the same. I.e they don’t always swing from one to the other although Hansen is saying it will be a super El Niño this winter. Wrong again but then he must be used that by now.

  8. Probably too little too late to end the predictable La Nina drought in Texas before winter. So unless hurricane or two pushes some nice juicy rain bands inland 150 miles to me I’m going to be majorly inconvienced, again, in another month or two as my water pump and boat dock reach the limits of their tethers. But my inconvenience is nothing compared to farmers and suffering wildlife. Making it worse is I’ll be hearing all the spoiled urbanites complaining that they can’t wash their cars or water their lawns whenever they want.

  9. LA NADA UNDERSTANDING
    When a scientist enters politics, his opinion as a citizen is as good as that of any citizen. Nonsense spouted by a misguided scientist has no force against common sense in the political field. This places informed laymen on unassailable ground against those who invoke the higher authority of a scientist in a subject that is political while masquerading as scientific.
    To quote Peer-Reviewed articles is no substitute for rational thought. Who peer-reviewed the work of Newton? Nobody; Newton has no peer. Who peer-reviewed the 500 articles Einstein published over 50 years? Again, nobody. To imagine peer review as approval by higher authority is an anti-scientific stance; science acknowledges no authority above proof established by systematic observation, measurement and mathematics. After Climategate, peer-reviewed climate science has become the butt of jokes.
    Above the fray, there are complex phenomena subject to uncertainty in observation, measurement and interpretation. These include weather forecasts beyond a horizon of one week, the behavior of markets and stock exchange quotations, long term economic predictions, demographics, ocean currents and climate change. They are known as chaotic phenomena, in a mathematical sense. In this setting, contending hypotheses are essayed in search of relationships of cause and effect, with their supporters and adversaries engaged in normal academic debate.
    If a hypothesis is hijacked by a commercial interest, for its benefit, the debate slides from the academic plane to the plane of politics. In this case the degree of uncertainty of long term forecasts is such that no responsible public policy may be based on them, with a claim of a consensus of scientific certainty. To do so is fraudulent. The debate must then be treated as a political confrontation of opposing interests. “In the alley, after school, there just ain’t no Golden Rule”; not even the rules of the Marquis of Queensbury apply in a conflict with squalid interests.
    Such is the gist of the thought of an eminent scientist, Prof. Hendrik Tennekes, stated in mathematical terms two decades ago, as director of research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute: “there exists no sound theoretical framework for climate predictability studies” used for global warming forecasts. Tennekes demonstrated to my satisfaction that funds are wasted when invested in more weather stations, more powerful computers, sophisticated computer models, in expectation of improving weather forecasts beyond one week, and time has proved him right. Uncertainty did not diminish. It has led to a chase of the foot of the rainbow.

  10. “I’m banking on La Nina returning by the winter. Sub-surface waters are cooler now than in 2008 when we returned to La Nina for the winter.”
    Part of me is hoping you’re correct, part is hoping you’re not.
    Here in Colorado, the strong La Nina gave us an extremely warm, dry winter, while the mountains got hammered with record snowfalls – that are STILL melting. But the dry was really hard on both people and plants.
    Fortunately, we also had a cool, wet May (la Nina on her way out?), which is unusual for us. Temps stayed mild in June too, until last week. That gave us the best plant growth I’ve ever seen. Everyone is commenting on how leaves and flowers are bigger and more plentiful. I’m sure the farmers are happy too.
    Our little subdivision, at the bottom in between two ridges, has also missed out on extreme thunderstorms. Our biggest weather damage here is from hail, which has yet to hit us (knock on wood) this year. When I watch on a real-time weather map (like Weather Underground’s wundermap), I can see the cells juke right around us to the west, right before they hit. We’ve only had rain from 2 storms that were big enough that the edge still hit us. It’s like there’s a bubble over just our 6 block by 6 block neighborhood.
    A repeat of this weather pattern for the coming year would be nice.

  11. Just some perspective: the MEI (Multivariate ENSO Index) was near a record low (El Nino) in February 2010 and then near a record high (La Nina) in February 2011. So for that snapshot month, during the past year, the atmosphere-ocean-climate system has transitioned naturally almost as much as it can — in the tropics.
    This has not happened very much in the past 30-years. However, prior to that in the period 1944-1976, it’s a different story.
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/enso/mei/#discussion

  12. La Nada will only last a few weeks as a transition period. We will know more in 2 weeks at which time the 3.4 index should either break through the zero line towards an El Nino or swing back to another La Nina.
    My money is on another La Nina. Keep your eyes on the trade winds

  13. Here in south-east England, the swallows (summer migrant birds) are already starting to muster on overhead power and telephone lines. Tradition has it that if the swallows leave early, the Winter will be hard. I hasten to add that this hypothesis is a result of centuries of empirical observation by uneducated country-folk and that no computer models were involved in it’s making.

  14. I’m hoping that there is not another La Niña. The area where I live has been so dry that another dry year will devastate the economy as well as the botanical environment. We have drought tolerant native species, but even they need more than .50″ of moisture during the growing season.

  15. Matt Rogers says:
    July 5, 2011 at 12:25 pm
    Interestingly, a weak or moderate La Nina winter is usually a colder-than-normal one for the East- can we get a fourth cold winter in a row?

    When Joe Bastardi was still working for accuweather.com, he had a video and which he explained that in a multi-year La Nina event, which he was predicting, the second winter was always colder than the first. In another video (or maybe the same one) he talked about how a winter with a first year La Nina never had below normal temperatures for so much of the US in all of recorded history. I think this might mean one of two things, assuming Joe is right about La Nina returning: (1) Since the second winter was always colder, this winter will be absolutely frigid; or (2) Since the first winter did not act like any La Nina in recorded history, the second one will also not act any second year La Nina in recorded history and be milder.
    In any event, I am still fascinated that people can make long-term predictions on a system as chaotic of the global weather. How can any prediction of any kind have any degree of confidence with you don’t know all of the variables and with the variables you do know none are fully understood?

  16. GOM, UK: When do the swallows normally begin to muster for their migration? It’s still only the first week in July, after all.

  17. Oceanography at a Jet propulsion laboratory. Are they building rocket propelled speed boats perhaps?
    I thought NASA was about going up up and away into outer space, taking over the solar system one planet at a time, not just taking up space (wherever climate funding exist.)
    I’m stumped.

  18. Ditchfield: warmists (like Leninists) redefine meanings. Peer reviewed used to mean “probably OK to publish [and tough luck on the author if he gets a hammering post-publication]”. Warmists have redefined it to mean “must be good/right [& therefore ‘non – peer-reviewed’ = not good/right ie rubbish]”. Make what you will of their redefining.
    Grumpy: swallow assemblies are not signifiers of weather. For the last 15 years I have not seen them assembling on the phone wires (from about mid August in my part of England). UK southern England weather seems pretty consistent, warm/cool/wet/dry/hot from time to time, sometimes all five in one day. Perhaps the swallows are halfway to telling us something about climate. Perhaps something entirely unconnected with climate has driven them away – wot, a phenomenon not connected to AGW!!

  19. Judging from NASA’s track record, they should call the next ENSO event La Bumble (h/t Ricthie Valens)

  20. “Patzert cautions previous protracted La Nadas have often delivered unruly jet stream patterns and wild weather swings.”
    Just so, by influencing surface air pressure distribution from the bottom up.
    And since the recent solar minimum ‘coincided’ with a highly negative AO many are suggesting that solar effects do exactly the same from the top down.
    So it is time to follow my recommendations of the past few years. Integrate the two interacting processes to provide an explanation for pretty much all observed climate change on the basis of natural variability alone.

  21. 1DandyTroll says:
    July 5, 2011 at 2:11 pm
    > Oceanography at a Jet propulsion laboratory. Are they building rocket propelled speed boats perhaps?
    JPL sends satellites to study solar system planets, their moons, and other bodies. Earth is in the first group.
    > I’m stumped.
    No, you’re a troll.

  22. I endorse Grumpy’s comment. I live on the south coast of England and I, too, have seen the very early gatherings of our migratory birds. Their usual (for the last ten years or so) time of departure is late-August to mid-September. The blackbirds have foregone raising their second broods, as have the dunnocks. Skeins of geese are already leaving in early July!
    I have followed the advice given to me by an old (80+years) Downs (as in Sussex Downs) farmer and have been collecting cords of firewood. He has been out with his two sons and what seems to be a whole tribe of grandsons and great-grandsons, gathering wood by the lorry-load. He is of the firm opinion that the coming winter here in England is going to make last year’s deep freeze look like a Vicar’s tea party and he’s preparing for it already. I’ve followed suit; if he’s right then I’ll also be prepared. If he’s wrong, I’ve got a whole lot of firewood stored stashed away for when it is going to be needed.
    More ominously. the shepherds of the Sussex sheep on the Downs are making preparations to bring their flocks down off the Downs (you have to be English to understand this) to the low-lying meadows at the end of July. This is normally an event in September. I am not going to deprecate the accumulated wisdom of so many people whose livelihood depends on their correct interpretation of what they “feel in their water”, as they put it.
    There is no science in what they do, just the desire to survive and to ensure that their flocks do the same. They’ve been doing this for many hundreds of years and they are still here.
    They’re doing it right!

  23. Rhoda Ramirez says:
    July 5, 2011 at 1:55 pm
    GOM, UK: When do the swallows normally begin to muster for their migration? It’s still only the first week in July, after all.
    ——————————————————————————————————————————-
    September. http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/s/swallow/migration.aspx
    Scroll down. (October migraters are stragglers)

  24. Re Stephen Brown says:
    July 5, 2011 at 3:04 pm
    “Downs” Downs are a range of hills.
    Hills are Downs? Don’t ask 😉

  25. Wade says:
    July 5, 2011 at 1:48 pm
    . . .
    In any event, I am still fascinated that people can make long-term predictions on a system as chaotic of the global weather. How can any prediction of any kind have any degree of confidence with you don’t know all of the variables and with the variables you do know none are fully understood?

    I think Joe Bastardi has stated that his method relies heavily on empirical evidence – as in “What happened before when the conditions were like they are now?”
    Joe uses models, but you will note that his reliance on the models only goes out for a short time to look for possible trends, and then from there he looks back to history.
    I am just a lowly earth scientist, but my reliance on models is similar. They are great tools for helping define the parameters and looking for short term trands, but cannot be relied upon for any long term interpretation.
    If I am wrong I hope Joe will straighten me out.

  26. Ric Werme says:
    July 5, 2011 at 3:02 pm
    “1DandyTroll says:
    July 5, 2011 at 2:11 pm
    > Oceanography at a Jet propulsion laboratory. Are they building rocket propelled speed boats perhaps?
    JPL sends satellites to study solar system planets, their moons, and other bodies. Earth is in the first group.
    > I’m stumped.
    No, you’re a troll.”
    OMG, how on earth did you deduce that? However, though, I’m a fisherman trolling. And I’m very dandy. :p
    And by the by, they’re more likely to advice on Hollywood production rather ‘an “sending” satellites into space . . . apparently all very probabilistic statistics.

  27. The last time we actually had a neutral ENSO winter, where water temps in the Pacific stayed within ±0.5˚C throughout the season was in 2003/04. Prior to that it was 1996/97. The last time we had a 1st year moderate to strong La Niña that was not followed by another La Niña winter was in 1988/89. Chances are, La Niña will be back again this winter and the cooling subsurface waters in the ENSO basin are indicative of that. The best analog fits for this coming winter are 1950/51, 1955/56, and 2008/09 which should make winter lovers in my neck of the woods (northern MN) very happy.

  28. Stephen Brown says:
    July 5, 2011 at 3:04 pm
    At some point by the end of this decade, we will be able to walk over a frozen Thames in central London.

  29. Green indicates near-normal conditions.
    “Normal” would seem to be a wrong choice of words. Wouldn’t average, or mean, be better words? The sea surface is never flat everywhere. It would be a very odd situation for that to happen. This if all of the oceans were “normal” green color on the image that would be abnormal.

  30. “Patzert cautions previous protracted La Nadas have often delivered unruly jet stream patterns and wild weather swings.”
    Well, that would be a vast improvement. The problem we’ve had the last few years is from adn overly “ruly” jet stream. When it moves around a lot, you don’t get as many droughts and floods.

  31. Stephen Brown says on July 5, 2011 at 3:04 pm:
    There is no science in what they do, just the desire to survive and to ensure that their flocks do the same. They’ve been doing this for many hundreds of years and they are still here.
    They’re doing it right!
    The science they do is the best kind: empirical observations over time. And they remember all of these and use data which is stored in long term memory to make projections for the near term weather.

  32. Re: Downs = Ups. Many of us recall Frodo’s travails in the Barrow Downs. I believe most English terms for topography are present in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
    If Washington, D.C. is frozen solid this winter, it would be a good thing.
    Meanwhile, I’ve just read a report that Julia (the Grotesque) Gillard has ordered thousands of feral camels killed in Australia’s outback, because their farting adds to Global Warming. Camels were imported to Australia back in the 19th century to haul supplies through the western deserts. Some escaped, and today, the Australian population of (bactrian) camels represents the biggest gene pool of this “mega fauna” in the world. Now the “environmentalists” are going to destroy them. Never let me hear one of them disparage Buffalo Bill Cody (a relative) lest I lose control and perform a camelectomy.

  33. The signals are pointing toward an El Nino, a double-dip La Nina or neutral conditions.
    That is just the way it is.
    The east Pacific equatorial upper ocean temperature anomaly is the most reliable measure of what will occur and it is starting to point toward the double-dip just like happened in 2008.
    http://img215.imageshack.us/img215/4272/ensoepuothajun11.png
    While there is more than enough warm water in the sub-surface and in the Pacific Equatorial Under-current to bring on an El Nino …
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/anim/wkxzteq_anm.gif
    … the left-over cooler water from the last La Nina are inflitrating/recirculating-back-in particularly at the important 140W longitude …
    http://www.ecmwf.int/products/forecasts/d/charts/ocean/real_time/yzmaps/
    … and in the Humbolt Current coming up the coast of South America.
    http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/global_nlom32/navo/EQANMSSTfcst.gif
    So. I’m still with an El Nino. The surface current has been going backwards for four months now.
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/GODAS/mnth_gif/xy/mnth.anom.xy.u15m.2011.05.gif
    and the Trade winds are almost back to normal after being higher than normal for the past year.
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_update/ua850_c.gif

  34. I can handle another la nina winter here in North Dakota. It wasn’t too bad — we didn’t have a the usual 3 week deep freeze we get in late jan–feb where we have highs of -15 below F. This year it was only 10 days. A little bit more than normal snowfall. All in all, not a bad winter.
    This spring and summer though– wet, thunderous and tornadic. I no-likey! If this is la-nada, i want no-mas.
    Ex

  35. polistra said:
    July 5, 2011 at 5:50 pm
    “The problem we’ve had the last few years is from an overly “ruly” jet stream. When it moves around a lot, you don’t get as many droughts and floods.”
    When the jets are more zonal you get more droughts on either side of, and more floods underneath, the more persistent longitudinal track.
    When the jets are more meridional there are more alternating droughts and floods more widely distributed latitudinally as the jets loop about and often get locked into position for a while.
    The critical factor is the net effect on the global energy budget of the two jetstream modes.
    Zonality is associated with poleward jets which whiz faster around the poles and closer to the poles. They result from a combined expansion of the tropics from warmer ocean surfaces and a contraction of the polar vortex from a more active sun. Although the tropics expand, the temperature around the equator itself changes barely at all due to the effectiveness of water cooling via the water cycle.
    The poles become more detached from flows of warm air in and cold air out so the contracted polar air masses result in colder poles but more warmth in the mid latitudes.
    When the jets are more meridional, waving about over a greater latitudinal range we see contracted tropics and expanded polar air masses. There is more air flowing in and out of the polar regions which become warmer but the mid latitudes get colder.
    More zonality thus gives less heat loss from the colder poles to space but more heat loss from the larger and warmer mid latitudes.
    More meridionality gives more heat loss from the warmer poles to space but less heat loss from the larger and cooler mid latitudes.
    There is a vast degree of flexibility in the net balance between polar and mid latitude energy loss hence the persistence of the existing climate zones. All that it takes to ensure system stability is relatively minor variations in the surface air pressure distribution which then alters the size position and intensity of those zones relative to one another.
    Thus the degree of zonality/meridionality represents the process that arranges for global energy in to match global energy out thereby stabilising the entire system in a way which is always negative to any forcing from any source towards warming or cooling.
    The equilibrium temperature which the system always seeks to maintain is set by global atmospheric pressure and via that the energy value of the latent heat of vaporisation which combined control the rate at which absorbed solar energy energy could leave the oceans in the absence of a water cycle.
    In the presence of a water cycle any factor that tries to make the system depart from that basic equilibrium temperature just alters the speed of the water cycle via those shifts in jetstream zonality/meridionality. It is always a negative system reaction overall so the assumption of a positive system feedback in any given scenario is erroneous. The system response is always a fast, effective and powerfully negative response.
    Here, I describe how the oceans set the equilibrium temperature and how the changes in surface air pressure distribution maintain it:
    http://www.irishweatheronline.com/features-2/wilde-weather/setting-and-maintaining-of-earth%e2%80%99s-equilibrium-temperature/18931.html
    and here (yet again, so my apologies to those who are getting bored by it):
    is a description of how the top down solar effect must work to fit recent observations:
    http://www.irishweatheronline.com/features-2/wilde-weather/the-sun-could-control-earths-temperature/290.html
    There is no observed climate change that is inconsistent with the scenario that I describe and greenhouse gases overall (let alone CO2) are relegated to an insignificant factor in the face of solar variations from outside the system and oceanic variations from within the system.

  36. “Tradition has it that if the swallows leave early, the Winter will be hard.”
    How is it that birds with tiny brains can outperform the smartest of climate scientists with huge electronic brains?

  37. The Japanese ENSO model that most accurately predicted the last La Niña is going for a double dip with a return to fairly strong (~ -1.0C) La Niña conditions within a few months.
    One set of models is going for La Nada while the others have a La Niña. I don’t put a lot of stock in the models since they’ve been proven to have little or no skill anyway but we’ll see what happens.

  38. As ex-dinosaurs (or siblings thereof), birds have had a LONG time to get it right, and a multi-hundred million year data file to mine. Climate Scientists, after anointing themselves, quickly froze their paradigms and ran halooing into a lush, green, dead-end canyon. Earth and data tremors have subsequently caused rockfalls of blown predictions and projections behind them, sealing off the exit.
    Sharpshooters are now moving into place along the canyon rim.

  39. Grumpy Old Man UK says onJuly 5, 2011 at 1:37 pm
    Here in south-east England, the swallows (summer migrant birds) are already starting to muster on overhead power and telephone lines. Tradition has it that if the swallows leave early, the Winter will be hard. I hasten to add that this hypothesis is a result of centuries of empirical observation by uneducated country-folk and that no computer models were involved in it’s making.

    That is interesting, because here on the opposite side, in South Wales, I’ve seen that as well.
    Also – some rowans have already ripe, red berries, in the first week of July! They generally ripen towards the end of the summer.
    And Circaea lutetiana, or Enchanter’s Nightshade, has set seed about a week ago. Again, this usually doesn’t happen here before mid-August at the earliest. I have to remove the burrs from my dogs’ coats, so I’m quite certain about the timing.
    It most certainly isn’t a sign of AGW, because a) May and June were not hot, and b) during some truly hot years earlier in this millennium we did not see this early ripening.
    This may indeed point to an early winter in the British Isles.
    But as Grumpy Old Man UK said, these are just simple, empirical observations by another uneducated person. No computer models involved …

  40. Look for another La NINA this coming winter starting in October / November and going through 2012. No EL NINO until 2013

  41. 1) A grasp of the past set ups, the current physical drivers, and then using models as tools is the way I forecast . The fact is the Frontier research model has been beating the other climate model silly on the enso trends, anticipating before the other models, and in agreement with ideas I had.
    2) This enso event is very close to 08-09. I said that LAST FEBRUARY.. IN 2010 that this would come on and be a 2 year event overall. The weakening now will be reverse and a secondary cool signal, similar to winter 08-09 will evolve. That has been a long standing forecast that has been out for almost 18 months now and I dont see why I should change it. Now that the CFS is showing this, I am sure many will climb aboard I I suspect they are already)
    3) Joe D Aleo’s wonderful post on Weatherbell on the nature of cold PDO enso events is something everyone should read, as in the cold PDO, these cold events last longer. My bet is NOAA, following their models, will see the second part of this event and realize it was only the naturally ebb and flow of the total occurrence much like 08-09. The excellent MEI site is the prime reference to situations like this and shows some of the things I am talking about with fading, then returning events.
    ciao cumpares

  42. Swallow migration and bird migration, in general, is well studied, but is also the subject of folklore and legend. The swallows of Capistrano supposedly return March 16 and leave October 23, and, like the wooly bear legends, has become the centerpiece of festivals. Yes, many of the swallows have returned to Capistrano by March 16 although in recent years due to urbanization there and, quite possibly, disruptions on their Argentina wintering grounds, fewer and fewer swallows are returning. Different species of birds navigate at different times of the day or night at different altitudes and using different migration paths (some over water, some avoiding ocean transit) and using different instruments including acute vision and memory of landmarks as well as internal compasses (solar or celestial). The migration patterns of a species reflect what has been sucessful over time: evolution. The principal reason for migration is that young nestlings require a lot of protein food which is available in the amounts required, mainly as insects (ever been in the tiaga and tundra in June and July!) , far to the north of their wintering grounds. Return flights of many species depend on nesting success- mostly weather related- with addition nesting attempted with failure of an earlier brood. Weather and their internal compass also influence their return migration dates. Migration is well understood and there is great variaty in species’ adaptations. Despite being well understood there remains much mystery and even awe at the incredible journeys of these descendants of the dinosaurs.

  43. Birds may be timing their arrivals and departures based on food supply. Food supply is highly sensitive to weather pattern variation changes. Mammals also may time their biological clocks to food supply.
    We have had a long, cool, wet spring with delayed flora and insect arrival. All flora arrived late but now that the sun is shining, we have had a major surge in plants. The ground is also still damp and even swampy, but warm, meaning that we have bugs available, finally. We had to wait for warm wet for the bugs to emerge. Cool wet kept them from hatching.
    So, while the bats have finally given birth (late) and are having a feeding frenzy, and the pair of great horned owls in the barn are finally able to eat bats at will, bat numbers are way down and offspring mortality will likely be very high when it is time to migrate out of here.
    A change in the timing of food supply that is even less than a month can devastate migratory bat populations, bird populations, and smaller ground mammals. That change can ripple all the way through to the major predators. We have had these conditions for the past 4 years. I wonder if that is why our local wolf packs have now begun to invade cattle herds.

  44. Tony Apple
    You may not like what the La Nina brings but forewarned , one can at least prepare.
    The current year 2011 is a good example of what happens in North Central US and the Prairie Provinces in Canada during La Ninas when global temperatures drop and we have cold and snowy winters that stretch well into spring. The previous Nina and the still cold PDO[ Pacific Decadal Oscillation] brought colder temperatures and extra amount of snow during the past winter to many parts of North America. Extra snow means significant spring flooding like we just had and are still having in July in Central US and many parts of western and eastern Canada. This year the Canadian Prairie provinces saw “once in 300 years” type of floods from the winter melt. The winter temperatures in the US East North Central region just west of the Great Lakes, the region that feeds the Manitoba rivers have dropped some 10.4 degrees F since 2002 The snow extent in North America during 2011 winter was the third highest ever since the 1967 and was only exceeded by the winters of 1979 and 2010.

  45. Whatever brings more rain to SW Colorado is fine by me. Backpacking in the Weminuche beginning next Sunday (17th) and the ability to have a fire would be quite nice. As it stands, stage 1 fire ban which means fires only in developed campgrounds.
    Mark

  46. I’m with Marcia. I check the WUWT ENSO page daily and if we should expect anything, it would be the return of La Nina. Recent experience also demonstrates that the consequences of La Ninas are not so predictable. The 2008 La Nina brought severe drought to Northern California, but this past one has brought lots of precipitation.

  47. Harvey
    Yes , different parts of the globe experience the La Nina differently. North America and especially Central inland and Prairie areas have it much colder during La Nina winters than some coastal areas. Europe ‘s coldest winters are more during NEUTRAL and El Nino years as this seems to correlate with negative AO more often. The current winter will likely have another L a NINA and North AMERICA may again be cold with lots of snow . Europe and UK will have a more normal winter or warmer than last winter which was extra cold due to a “one in 100 year” cold December. January and February were not that cold in Europe.

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