Sea Surface Temperature Approaching the Threshold of El Niño

Guest post by Bob Tisdale

This post will serve as the sea surface temperature update for mid-June.

The post also provides an update on the progress I’m making with my new book The Ignored Driver of Global Climate.  I’ve included the table of contents as it exists now and a sample “ENSO cartoon”. The reason I’ve included the table of contents is to ask you if I’ve missed any topics that you believe need to be covered.

NINO3.4

NINO3.4 Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies (a commonly used El Niño-Southern Oscillation Index) are just below the 0.5 deg C threshold of El Niño conditions. For the week centered on June 13, 2012, NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies are approximately +0.43 deg C.

NINO3.4 SST Anomalies – Short-Term

GLOBAL

The weekly global sea surface temperature anomalies made an upward surge a couple of weeks ago in response to the transition from La Niña to soon-to-be El Niño conditions, then dropped, and last week they made a very slight upturn. They are now at about 0.17 deg C.

Global SST Anomalies – Short-Term

NOTE

This weekly Reynolds OI.v2 SST dataset begins in 1990. I’ve started the graphs in 2004 to make the weekly variations visible.

SOURCE

OI.v2 SST anomaly data is available through the NOAA NOMADS system:

http://nomad3.ncep.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/pdisp_sst.sh?lite

STATUS OF NEW BOOK

I’m making great progress with my new book The Ignored Driver of Global Climate. I’m about 85% done, I believe, based on what I think should be included. The following is the Table of Contents as it exists today. I’m presently at chapter “4.10 ENSO Versus the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)”. So far it’s 240+ pages long and includes 180+ illustrations. As you’ll note in the Table of Contents, there are a number of topics discussed in the book that I’ve not addressed in any blog posts to date.

And now the question that I need to ask: what topics do you want to see discussed that I’ve missed?

PRESENT TABLE OF CONTENTS OF THE IGNORED DRIVER OF GLOBAL CLIMATE

INTRODUCTION

Section 1 – A Description of El Niño and La Niña Events Using Cartoons

1.1 Preliminary Discussion of the ENSO Cartoons

1.2 The ENSO Cartoons

1.3 Recap of Section 1

Section 2 – A Few Preliminary Discussions

2.1 The Types of Graphs Presented

2.2 Linear Trends

2.3 How El Niño and La Niña EventsPresent Themselves in the Sea Surface Temperature Record

2.4 Our Primary ENSO Index is NINO3.4 Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

2.5 How ENSO Events Are Presented in the Text

2.6 On the Use of Anomalies

2.7 Converting Monthly Absolute Data to Anomalies

2.8 Using the Model Mean of the IPCC’s Climate Models

2.9 Why We’ll Be Using Satellite-Based Sea Surface Temperature Data

2.10 Notes on Data Smoothing

2.11 Recap of Section 2

Section 3 – A More Detailed Discussion of ENSO Processes

3.1 A Quick Look at the Size of the Pacific Ocean

3.2 Pacific Trade Winds and Ocean Currents

3.3 Putting the Equatorial Pacific Cross Sections in Perspective

3.4 The ENSO-Neutral State of the Tropical Pacific

3.5 The Transition from ENSO-Neutral to El Niño

3.6 El Niño Phase

3.7 The Transition from El Niño to ENSO Neutral

3.8 La Niña Phase

3.9 The Recharge of Ocean Heat during the La Niña

3.10 Recap of Section 3

Section 4 – Additional ENSO Discussions

4.1 How El Niño Events Cause Surface Temperatures to Warm Outside of the Tropical Pacific

4.2 Central Pacific versus East Pacific El Niño Events

4.3 ENSO Indices

4.4 ENSO Indices Also Fail to Capture the Relative Strengths of ENSO Events

4.5 The Repeating Sequence of Primary and Secondary El Niño Events

4.6 A Look at How a Few More Tropical Pacific Variables Respond to ENSO

4.7 ENSO Events Run in Synch with the Annual Seasonal Cycle

4.8 Subsurface Temperature and Temperature Anomaly Variations in the Equatorial Pacific

4.9 An Introduction to the Delayed Oscillator Mechanism

4.10 ENSO Versus the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)

4.11 Recap of Section 4

Section 5 – The Long-Term Impacts of Major ENSO Events on Global Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

Section 6 – The Long-Term Impacts of Major ENSO Events on Global Land-Plus-Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies and Lower Troposphere Temperature Anomalies

Section 7 – The Long-Term Impacts of ENSO on Ocean Heat Content Anomalies

Section 8 – Failed Arguments Against ENSO as the Primary Driver of Global Surface Temperatures

Closing

ENSO CARTOONS?

If, after looking at the Table of Contents, you’re wondering about the “ENSO Cartoons” mentioned in Section 1, the following is a sample. There are 29 in Section 1. Why so many? I was looking at all of the websites that provide introductions to ENSO and noticed that most included only a couple of illustrations of the ENSO process. Readers there have to jockey between the text and the illustrations. Unfortunately, much of what’s discussed in the text at those websites is not illustrated. So I’m trying the cartoons which combine text and the illustrations, with hope that they will help readers understand the basics of the ENSO processes. Later, in Section 3, I go into much more detail, supporting the cartoons with data, to reinforce what was presented in the cartoons.

Sample “ENSO Cartoon”

MY FIRST BOOK

The IPCC claims that only the rise in anthropogenic greenhouse gases can explain the warming over the past 30 years. Satellite-based sea surface temperature disagrees with the IPCC’s claims. Most, if not all, of the rise in global sea surface temperature is shown to be the result of a natural process called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. This is discussed in detail in my first book, If the IPCC was Selling Manmade Global Warming as a Product, Would the FTC Stop their deceptive Ads?, which is available in pdf and Kindle editions. An overview of my book is provided in the above-linked post. Amazon also provides a Kindle preview that runs from the introduction through a good portion of Section 2. That’s about the first 15% of the book. Refer also to the introduction, table of contents, and closing in pdf form here.

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Kurt in Switzerland

Good job. Now how to get this message to Mainstream Media?
Proponents of the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming are telling the general public that the seas are in fact warming (and becoming more acidic, and rising), due primarily to mankind’s CO2.
Time to make a lot of noise about the subject and to ask true scientists to come to some conclusions.
Kurt in Switzerland

Stephen Wilde

“what topics do you want to see discussed that I’ve missed?”
The potential for the amount of energy tied up in the ENSO process to be influenced by solar activity and / or global albedo on centennial timescales.

DWR54

Bob,
What, in your opinion, is the average ‘lag’ between SSTs in ENSO 3.4 and:
i) global average surface temperatures
ii) temperatures at 14,000ft (AMSU CH5).
Thanks.

From your lips to God’s ears, Bob. Unfortunately it’s still feeling very “La Nina-like” here in Denver today. 95 degrees and a vicious high pressure system, and the most destructive wild fire in state history. Please bring on the El Nino.

SAMURAI

In your chapter on satellite SST data, will you also include a critique on ARGO data vs satellite SST data?
It would be very interesting to hear your views on this.
Good luck with your book!

Pamela Gray

blocking episodes related to the jet stream and how these patterns are influenced by oceanic conditions.
ENSO influence on Jet stream meandering between the equator and the Polar Jet stream.

Werner Brozek

Even if El Nino happened next week, I believe it is too late for 2012 to set any warm records. Here are the latest hadsst2 numbers that I have:
With the sea surface anomaly for April at 0.292, the average for the first four months of the year is (0.203 + 0.230 + 0.242 + 0.292)/4 0.242. If the average stayed this way for the rest of the year, its ranking would be 14th. This compares with the anomaly in 2011 at 0.273 to rank it 12th for that year. (1998 was the warmest at 0.451.)

ChE

Still cold and wet and grey in the PNW. Is summer really going to happen this year?

jorgekafkazar

Why the trade winds slacken and trigger the El Niño. You knew I’d bring that up, didn’t you? The book is a great idea.

tonyb

Bob
Can I echo Pamela Gray. The jet stream is to me the most significant driver of weather. Whether or not it is influenced directly by ocean currents I can’t say, but it is the position of the jet stream that diverts weather systems. For example, here in the UK the jet stream has been a long way south and in consequence we have been getting lots of weather systems coming from an unseasonably wet and cold position.
I noticed that these patterns cropped up regularly when researching 15th and 16th Century weather references for an article and noted it here;
“Due to its geographical location British weather is often quite mobile and periods of hot, cold, dry or wet weather tend to be relatively short lived. If such events are longer lasting than normal, or interrupted and resumed, that can easily shape the character of a month or a season. Reading the numerous references there is clear evidence of ‘blocking patterns,’ perhaps as the jet stream shifts, or a high pressure takes up residence, feeding in winds from a certain direction which generally shape British weather.”
tonyb

Harold Pierce Jr

ATTN: BOB T.
Did you ever get around to checking out “Cyclic Climate Changes and Fish Productivity” by K.B. Klyashtorin and A.A. Lyubushin????? You ref list would not be complete unless you cite this seminal monograph.
Here somthing ellse you should do: Make two copies of Klaus W. MEI graph. Place one on top of the other and move the top plot over the bottom to check for repeating patterns. There are repeating patterns from about 1970 to 2000.

DWR54: Like lower troposphere temperature anomalies, the average lag between NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies and the response of global mid troposphere temperature anomalies (AMSU channel 5) is in the neighborhood of 5-7 months (so 6 months). Because the surface temperature datasets also include the direct measurement of the sea surface temperature anomalies of the central and eastern tropical Pacific, which includes the NINO3.4 data, their lag is shorter, closer to 2-4 months (so 3 months).

Pamela Gray: I’ve described why the jet streams shift, but I haven’t shown the before and after of where they shift.

timetochooseagain

What, exactly, makes a .5 degree anomaly or greater so special? Is this just a completely arbitrary threshold or is there some physical reason to think that anomalies of more than .5 degrees from the “normal” would lead to the alleged “effects” of ENSO, but closer to zero than that has no relationship?

Steven M-E

I must have missed the memo that not having hot dry weather in the Pacific Northwest meant we were lacking a Summer, come on it’s June 18th, give Summer a chance to get here already.
I’m looking forward to the book, I’m also glad it has a section on the difference between the now default Central Pacific El Nino versus the traditional Eastern Pacific El Nino, as there as some significant differences.

BILL KURDZIEL

Show an example of how raw temperature data is adjusted for the Heat Island effect, leading to exaggerated trends in temperature projections. Great news about your book, Anthony.
We’re all looking forward to it.

Harold Pierce Jr: Thanks for the suggestion, but Klyashtorin and Lyubushin (2005) is a paleoclimatological study and my book discusses the satellite era of sea surface temperatures.
Regarding the repeating patterns discussed in chapter 4.5 The Repeating Sequence of Primary and Secondary El Niño Events, I presented those in a post a couple of years ago: http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/07/12/similarities-of-the-multiyear-periods-following-significant-el-nino-events-since-1970/
There were three decadal periods of what appear to be “primary” and “secondary” ENSO events. The primary El Niño events occurred in 1972/73, 1986/87/88, and 1997/98. The two-year El Niño of 1986/87/88 simply skews it a little bit, but the secondary El Niño events “fit” with the other two periods.
It looks like that epoch may have ended though. Has ENSO switched to moderate El Niños followed by two back-to-back La Niñas? We’ll simply have to watch and see what Mother Nature and her two mischievous children have in store for us.
Regards

rogerknights

Bob Tisdale says:
“… my new book The Ignored Driver of Global Climate.”

Oh Nooooo!!!!
Try “{Gaia’s | Climate’s | The} Forgotten Forcing”
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(Nobody uses “forcing” except climate science (others use “drivers”), so “The Forgotten Forcing” will be self-explanatory.)

rogerknights

PS: Here’s another title I donate to anyone who has a book in the pipeline:
The “Green” Bay Tree”

rogerknights

PS: How about “ENSO: The Forgotten Forcing”?
That gets an important “keyword” / search term (ENSO) into the title, which will help it pop up on Amazon when readers do searches.

Hi Bob Tisdale;
Your work is admirable. The new book is about a very important topic. The ToC seem to concentrate on the Pacific. But the ocean space covers the earth over more than 2/3, and although ENSO puts, from time to time, a lot of dynamics into the atmosphere, the potential of other ocean space could be significant as well. Here is the temperature map for winter 1939/40: http://www.seaclimate.com/c/c1/images/buch/big/C1-6-TM4.png , an issue which still needs to be explained, and presumably not with a reference to El Nino (at least not alone) as Brönnimann et al (Nature*) have done it, as discussed, here: http://www.seaclimate.com/f/f.html
All best wishes for successfully finishing you book soon. It is awaited with high interest, with best regards ArndB
*) Brönnimann, S.; Luterbacher, J.; StaehelinJ., Svendby, T.M.; Hansen, H. & Svenøe, T
(2004); ‚”Extreme climate of the global troposphere and stratosphere in 1940–42 related to
El Niño”; Nature, Vol. 431, pp. 971-974.

Latitude

Matt says:
June 18, 2012 at 10:15 am
From your lips to God’s ears, Bob. Unfortunately it’s still feeling very “La Nina-like” here in Denver today. 95 degrees and a vicious high pressure system, and the most destructive wild fire in state history. Please bring on the El Nino.
===============================
This mega-fire is about 2% the size of the 1890 fire, which burned from Santa Fe well up into Colorado along the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/todays-fire-update/

Pat of Charleston

Bob Tisdale,
Please do not call your Illustrations cartoons. Cartoons are humorous and can be dismissed.. Please call them annotated illustrations or some other name such as annotated illustrations (cartoons).

Pat of Charleston: Thanks for that thought on the word cartoons. I’ve just changed it in the text.

Brian H

Differential impacts of La Nina and El Nino on population and agricultural centers. Basis for projecting “cost cycles” and hyping of regional effects as if they were global.

Does this mean that we can look forward to some sunshine in the UK? We missed out on a Spring, and so far Summer has been about ten days of admittedly very hot weather in late May/early June, but since then it’s felt like winter.

Goldie

So the global atmosphere will warm as the oceans discharge heat. Look out for a swag of we told you sos at the atmosphere warms over the el nino.

rogerknights

rogerknights says:
June 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm
PS: How about “ENSO: The Forgotten Forcing”?
That gets an important “keyword” / search term (ENSO) into the title, which will help it pop up on Amazon when readers do searches.

Even better: “ENSO: The Forgotten Forcing of Global Climate”
Those two vital search-keywords from Bob’s version need to be retained.
“Forgotten Forcings” is better than “Ignored Drivers” is all I’m saying.
Plus, ENSO should be in there too.

jjfox

Bob, I think the title of your book is a little bit too cryptic. Might I suggest: “The Ignored Driver of Global Climate; the ENSO”.I think it should be clear from the get-go.
The one major question that I have that it is not clear if addressed from reading the “Table of Contents” is:
What drives the ENSO? I have read about these Kelvin waves that travel back and forth east and west through the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Do they drive the ENSO What is causing them? Why do they happen? Why does the ENSO happen?
Your book looks as though it may provide a good description of what the ENSO is, but may be a bit shy on why it exists and what causes it. It may not have been your intent to describe “why”, but that is my major interest in ENSO; Why does it happen, and what causes it?
Additionally, recognizing the fact that there really isn’t any such thing as “global climate” (which is nothing more than a socialist globalizers’ fantasy anyway), couldn’t you include some information on how the ENSO affects different regional weather patterns? In the early days when the ENSO was first discovered there was lots of writing about how the ENSO differentially affected the monsoon season in India versus the fishing season off the west coast of South America. If the affects of the ENSO are truly global, I would like to see a description of how the ENSO affects all of the different regions of the globe, separately, because there is no such thing as “global climate”, of course.
If your goal is to depict the ENSO as a truly global phenomenon that affects the entire world (albeit differentially), that does need to be described. Meaningless abstractions like “global climate”, which lets face it, have no value, are not useful.
Other than these comments, your book sounds like a very worthwhile endeavor and I look forward to it.

First time poster. I realize that use of the term “anomaly” is standard practice and is unlikely to change but the word implies that the average measurement is the regular actual measurement. In fact, the measurements that differ from the average should be referred to as variations. Use of the word anomaly implies that these measurements are unusual when in fact the average is a calculation based on the normal variation of the quantity being measured.

Scott Peterson

Would prefer that climatologists would use the term “variation” instead of “anomalies” as anomaly implies unusual while what’s being measured is normal variation of the quantity being measured.

Scott Peterson,
An anomaly is simply a deviation from the average. It is a close synomym to variation. But in the context of the climate discussion, anomaly is the widely accepted term.

barry

Australian Bureau of Meteorology predicts moderate el Nino conditions or just below el nino threshhold from July through to next year.
http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/
(click on ‘climate models’ to get a graphical depiction of the forecast)

Duke C.

Typo in the cartoon text-
“DICHARGED” should be “DISCHARGED”?

Nigel Harris

Werner Brozek says: Even if El Nino happened next week, I believe it is too late for 2012 to set any warm records. Here are the latest hadsst2 numbers that I have:
With the sea surface anomaly for April at 0.292, the average for the first four months of the year is (0.203 + 0.230 + 0.242 + 0.292)/4 0.242. If the average stayed this way for the rest of the year, its ranking would be 14th. This compares with the anomaly in 2011 at 0.273 to rank it 12th for that year. (1998 was the warmest at 0.451.)
Werner has given us the benefit of this analysis (and identical analysis for other temperature anomaly datasets) in comments on a wide range of WUWT threads over the past week (or possibly longer). Werner always says “if the average stayed this way for the rest of the year…” That would be a reasonable assumption if the current temperature anomaly were close to the average for the first four month of the year. But it isn’t. In this hadsst2 dataset, the average for April was 0.292. A more reasonable (and with ENSO index rising, still conservative) naive forecast is that temperature anomaly stays where it currently is for the rest of the year, rather than instantaneously falling back to 0.242 and then remaining there.
If you assume 0.292 to the end of the year, you get a figure of 0.275 which is higher than 2011.

Duke C.: Thanks for seeing the typo. Corrected.

Bob, there was discussion at WUWT recently around a paper which had almost incidentally, identified a longer term trend (decrease) in SH atmospheric pressure. Could this affect the baseline over which ENSO events are currently measured?
I’ll probably get shot for referring to this, but at SkS they have this escalator or elevator type analogy going on. I was wondering if the same analogy might be appropriate for the size of ENSO events in respect of the purported trend in atmospheric pressure.

Harold Pierce Jr

ATTN: BOB T.
Here is the link to the English translation of the mongraph which you can download for free:
http://alexeylyubushin.narod.ru/Climate_Changes__and_Fish_Productivity.pdf?
NB: The mongraph is 224 pages.. The Russian edition was published in 2005. The English translation was published in 2007 and was edited by Dr. Gary Sharp, Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study.
FYI, they used just numerous time series of empircal data. They found the earth has a climate cycle of about 60-70 years which has a cool and warm phase, each of which has a periodcity of 30 years. They then examined catches in the major fisheries to determine how the climate cycle influences fish catches. By analyzing fish caches and populations, they were able to detect he 60 year cycle.
Using all of these empirical data, they develped a stocastic mode of climate change which predicts that the earth’s climate will enter a cool phase that will last until ca 2030.
RE: “…my book discusses the satellite era of sea surface temperatures”.
It does not matter which method of analysis is used. If the methods are sound, then the same result will be obtained. Recall wave mechanics vs matrix mechanic in the early days of quantum mechanics. They both game the same result for the energy levels of the hydrogen atom.
Preciding the mongraph was KBK’s report: “Climate change and long-term fluctuations of commercial catches : The possibility of forecasting” , FAO Fisheries Technical Paper, No. 410, Rome, FAO, 2001. 86p.”
Note the date of publication. Was this report passed on to the IPCC? I going to check AR4 WG1 to see if it cited.
“It looks like that epoch may have ended though. Has ENSO switched to moderate El Niños followed by two back-to-back La Niñas? We’ll simply have to watch and see what Mother Nature and her two mischievous children have in store for us.”
We have had a very cold spring so far in Metro Vancouver (aka Lotus Land). There is Big Blue Monster emerging from the North Pacific and it is going to kick IPCC butt!
BTW, I check you website frequently so I don’t miss you latest research results.

Solomon Green

Pat of Charleston says:
“Please do not call your Illustrations cartoons. Cartoons are humorous and can be dismissed.. Please call them annotated illustrations or some other name such as annotated illustrations (cartoons).”
While this is probably true today, it was not always so and pre-war UK dictionaries correctly define a cartoon as “(i) a study or design executed on strong paper, and of a size to be reproduced in fresco or tapestry (ii) a pictorial sketch dealing with a political or social subject”.
Probably the best-known cartoon is that by Leonardo da Vinci, now known as the Burlington Cartoon, see:
http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/leonardo-da-vinci-the-burlington-house-cartoon/*/key-facts
.
But it is good that Mr. Tisdale has taken your advice, as the last thing that is wanted is to provide his attackers (and they will come) with any ammunition, no matter how spurious..

barry

Harold, Bob, the link above didn’t work for me. Found one that did for the full version (edited by Gary Sharp)
http://www.klimarealistene.com/web-content/Bibliografi/Klyashtorin2007,Cyclic%20Climate%20Change_Fish.pdf
Re the posibility of 60-year climate cycles – if the notion is based on the instrumental record (as it is in this large study), then we only have enough data for two (potential) full cycles, which is not nearly enough to determine whether this is a regular periodicity, something much more variable, or even if there is an oscillation at all. Time will tell.

Werner Brozek

Nigel Harris says:
June 19, 2012 at 12:37 am
A more reasonable (and with ENSO index rising, still conservative) naive forecast is that temperature anomaly stays where it currently is for the rest of the year

Thank you for your comments! In general, I do agree with you. However we do not know for sure what will happen. Look at the following for example:
http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2011.66/plot/uah/from:2011.66/plot/rss/from:2011.66/plot/gistemp/from:2011.66/plot/hadsst2gl/from:2011.66/plot/wti/from:2011.66
In May, RSS went down 0.10 and GISS went up 0.10.
(Hadcrut3 and hadsst2 are not on WFT for April yet, nor are the numbers available for May. However the April numbers are available at the following. I find that explorer works for me.)
Thank to “Ray” at Dr. Spencer’s site.
You can usually get the HadCRUT data files from the following UKMO website, before they are available on the CRU site:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/index.html
It can be a bit convoluted, but if you follow the following instructions, you should be able to download, the HadSST2 figures, for example:
1. Click on HadSST2, under Marine Datasets
2. Click on Various diagnostics, near the bottom left of the page.
3. Click on Mean of the northern and southern hemisphere averages.
4. Scroll down to the monthly series and click on “data file”.
The file can sometimes be a bit slow and sometimes the page or file doesn’t load, so just keep clicking.

John B

Bob,
As you know, the “mainstream” view is that ENSO is, as the name implies, an oscillation, producing quasi-periodic, low-frequency noise superimposed on the underlying trend, which is currently upward due primarily to CO2 forcing. How does your hypothesis, that ENSO is a driver, answer the following questions:
Why did ENSO start driving temperatures upwards?
When, if at all, will ENSO stop driving temperatures upwards?
How, if at all, does ENSO add energy to the systeem, as opposed to simply redistributing it?
Thanks, John

Harold Pierce Jr

barry says on June 19, 2012 at 6:34 am
Harold, Bob, the link above didn’t work for me. Found one that did for the full version (edited by Gary Sharp)
http://www.klimarealistene.com/web-content/Bibliografi/Klyashtorin2007,Cyclic%20Climate%20Change_Fish.pdf
The link does work but you have you to type it into the address bar of the browser. The problem is the underline of the address. At the Russian website the underline is still there even if you turn off underlining of website addresses.
Thanks for the new link.
Since the instrumental recorded began in 1880, two cycles have been completed by 2000. From the mongraph: 1880-1910. cool; 1910-1940, warm; 1940-1970, cool; 1970-2000, warm; 2000-2030, cool.
Note the warm phase 1970-2000. At 1975 the Great Climate Shift ocurred. The term “Great Climate Shift” was coined Don Easterbrook.

John B says: “As you know, the ‘mainstream’ view is that ENSO is, as the name implies, an oscillation, producing quasi-periodic, low-frequency noise superimposed on the underlying trend, which is currently upward due primarily to CO2 forcing.”
Well, John B, you must be new here. I’ve been illustrating this, discussing it and animating it for more than 3 years here at WUWT.
First of all, you’ve been misinformed. There’s no evidence of CO2 forcing of sea surface temperature-based ENSO indices. The underlying trend of NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies is negative or flat since 1900:
http://i45.tinypic.com/f28u9w.jpg
The underlying trend of NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies during the satellite era is negative.
http://i50.tinypic.com/2pooa3b.jpg
In fact, John B, there’s no evidence of CO2 forcing of sea surface temperatures globally during the satellite era—the last 30 years. The sea surface temperature anomalies for the entire East Pacific Ocean from pole to pole (90S-90N, 180-80W) haven’t risen in 30 years:
http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/3-east-pacific1.png
And the sea surface temperature anomalies for the Atlantic, Indian and West Pacific Oceans from pole to pole (the rest of the world, 90S-90N, 80W-180) only rose in response to the El Nino events of 1986/87/88 and 1997/98. The jury is still out on the 2009/10 El Nino. Between the major El Nino events, sea surface temperatures are flat, even with the additional variability in the North Atlantic associated with the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation:
http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/4-rest-of-world.png
Want me to throw some trend lines on there for you, insread of the period average temperatures? Trust me, the trends are flat.
Now a request on my part: Please show me the CO2 forcing in the last 2 graphs, John B, and please don’t link some comical multiple trend line graph from SkepticalScience.
BTW, I include those last two graphs every month in my sea surface temperature updates:
http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/may-2012-sea-surface-temperature-sst-anomaly-update/
You asked, “How does your hypothesis, that ENSO is a driver, answer the following questions:
Why did ENSO start driving temperatures upwards?”
First of all, it’s not a hypothesis. It’s what the instrument temperature record for the past 30 years shows, John B. I’m simply the first person to show and describe it. Why am I so unlucky? I’m one of the only bloggers investigating sea surface temperature data. But to answer your question, ENSO started driving global sea surface temperatures upwards when the frequency, magnitude and duration of El Nino events exceeded the frequency, magnitude and duration of La Nina events. Would you like a year? 1977–immediately after the 1973/74/75/76 La Nina event, or if you prefer, immediately after the 1976 Pacific Climate Shift.
You asked, “When, if at all, will ENSO stop driving temperatures upwards?”
When the frequency, magnitude and duration of La Nina events exceeds those of El Nino events, as it did during the period from 1944 to 1976.
You asked, “How, if at all, does ENSO add energy to the systeem, as opposed to simply redistributing it?
You may need to ask your question again. Are you aware that a La Nina event recharges (in part, fully, and in excess, depending on the La Nina event) the heat released and redistributed by the preceding El Nino?
Back to your mainstream view of ENSO: That view is changing, John B. And I’ll keep pumping out blog posts and books to assure that it does. The new “mainstream view” in coming years will be:
During a multidecadal period when El Niño events dominate (a period when El Niño events are stronger, when they occur more often and when they last longer than La Niña events), more heat than normal is released from the tropical Pacific and more warm water than normal is transported by ocean currents toward the poles—with that warm water releasing heat to the atmosphere along the way. As a result, global sea surface and land surface temperatures warm during multidecadal periods when El Niño events dominate. Similarly, global temperatures cool during multidecadal periods when La Niña events are stronger, last longer and occur more often than El Niño events.
Regards

warofthewolds says: “Bob, there was discussion at WUWT recently around a paper which had almost incidentally, identified a longer term trend (decrease) in SH atmospheric pressure. Could this affect the baseline over which ENSO events are currently measured?”
Please provide a link to the WUWT thread and please re-ask your question.

Harold Pierce Jr: Thanks for the additional link. And with respect to my earlier comment about using satellite era sea surface temperature data, let me expand a little more. I’m looking at only the last 30 years of surface temperature data. It is the period that the IPCC says the warming can only be explained by greenhouse gases. I’ve shown that they’re wrong. It’s not cause by greenhouse gases, that for sea surface temperatures it’s a response to ENSO events, plain and simple. What happened in the 1500 years before then has no bearing on the discussion.

rogerknights and jjfox: I’m not sure that I like the full working title “The Ignored Driver of Global Climate: El Niño -Southern Oscillation.” I’m thinking of something even more direct like “ The Ignored Cause of Global Warming: El Niño-Southern Oscillation”.
Regards

Pamela Gray

Bob, your description is just perfect. How anyone can argue that ENSO is less of a driver of multi-decadel trends than the teeny tiny anthropogenic CO2 addition to the atmosphere must think that 2 plus 0 is 5, somehow attributing the value of 0 to be 3, IE greater than ENSO factors. It is magical fudge factor belief thinking devoid of mathematical acumen.

Stephen Wilde

Bob Tisdale said:
During a multidecadal period when El Niño events dominate (a period when El Niño events are stronger, when they occur more often and when they last longer than La Niña events), more heat than normal is released from the tropical Pacific and more warm water than normal is transported by ocean currents toward the poles—with that warm water releasing heat to the atmosphere along the way. As a result, global sea surface and land surface temperatures warm during multidecadal periods when El Niño events dominate. Similarly, global temperatures cool during multidecadal periods when La Niña events are stronger, last longer and occur more often than El Niño events.”
Absolutely right but begs the question as to why, during the 20th century (and possibly since the LIA) successive periods of El Nino dominance have led to upward stepping in atmospheric temperatures.with the ocean heat content rising overall despite the strong El Nino discharge events.
And potentially the reverse scenario (downward stepping) having applied between MWP and LIA.
I know that those issues are outside Bob’s area of interest but it is a good question nonetheless.

rogerknights

Bob Tisdale says:
June 19, 2012 at 11:31 am
rogerknights and jjfox: I’m not sure that I like the full working title “The Ignored Driver of Global Climate: El Niño -Southern Oscillation.” I’m thinking of something even more direct like “ The Ignored Cause of Global Warming: El Niño-Southern Oscillation”.

Since you want to emphasize ENSO as being the cause, how about one of these?
“Who Turned Up the Heat?–ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation), Global Warming’s Backseat Driver”
“Global Warming Due to ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation)”
“Overlooking ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation), Global Warming’s Backseat Driver”
“ENSO in the Driver’s Seat: Global Warming’s Hidden Heater”