SkepticalScience Still Misunderstands or Misrepresents the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

The author of the recent SkepticalScience post Distinguishing Between Short-Term Variability and Long-Term Trends, Dana Nuccitelli, still misunderstands or misrepresents El Niño and La Niña processes. Either way, he’s missed something. The instrument temperature record indicates that La Niñas and El Niños serve as a natural recharge-discharge oscillator, with La Niñas acting as the recharge mode and El Niños serving as the discharge and distribution phase. As such, the data indicate that El Niño and La Niña events are responsible for the natural warming of global sea surface temperatures over the past 31 years and that they’re the cause of a portion of the warming of ocean heat content since 1955. If this subject is new to you, refer to my illustrated essay “The Manmade Global Warming Challenge” [42MB]. Also, we’ve discussed time and again that an El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) index only represents the impacts of ENSO on the variable being measured, and that an ENSO index does not represent all of the ENSO processes or their aftereffects, but the SkepticalScience author Dana Nuccitelli continues to present myths about ENSO indices—and, in turn, about global warming.

I have not read the recent post by Dana Nuccitelli in its entirety. Based on the opening paragraph, it looks to be a comment on the McLean et al (2009) paper Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature. This post is not a defense of that paper. It’s about the closing statement of Dana Nuccitelli’s post, which is clearly a falsehood. Nuccitelli writes:

If we remove the long-term warming trends, we can see once again that the short-term wiggles in the temperature data are strongly influenced by changes in ENSO. However, the long-term global warming trends are not – they are due to the human-caused greenhouse effect.

Here’s a challenge to Dana Nuccitelli and other bloggers from SkepticalScience. You and your associates at SkepticalScience claim to have analyzed more than 12,000 peer-reviewed papers about global warming and climate change. What I present in the following should be a really easy task, because lower troposphere temperature anomalies for the mid-to-high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere warmed in a very specific way. Surely, out of the 12,000 papers, a few of them must have addressed how lower troposphere temperatures have actually warmed.

If you believe that manmade greenhouse gases are responsible for the recent bout of global warming, please provide links to the climate model-based, peer-reviewed papers that explain:

1. How and why the lower troposphere temperature anomalies of the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere show upward shifts in response to strong El Niño events—without proportional cooling during the trailing La Niñas. That is, the RSS lower troposphere temperature anomalies for the latitudes of 20N-90N do not cool proportionally during the La Niña event of 1988/89, Figure 1, but they did warm in response to the 1986/87/88 El Niño, which caused a major portion of the long-term warming trend.

Figure 1

Figure 1

2. And how and why the RSS lower troposphere temperature anomalies for the latitudes of 20N-90N do not cool proportionally during the La Niña event of 1998-01, Figure 2, but they did warm significantly in response to the 1997/98 El Niño, which caused another major portion of the long-term trend.

Figure 2

Figure 2

It is blatantly obvious to anyone reading and comprehending those two graphs that there would be little to no long-term warming of the lower troposphere temperature anomalies for mid-to-high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere if lower troposphere temperature anomalies had cooled proportionally during the La Niña events of 1988/89 and 1998-01.

I first discussed the warming of lower troposphere temperature data almost 4 years ago in the post RSS Time Latitude Plots Show Climate Responses That Cannot Be Easily Illustrated With Time-Series Graphs Alone. And I discussed why the lower troposphere temperature anomalies for the mid-to-high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere do not cool proportionally during the 1988/89 and 1998-01 La Niñas in the post The ENSO-Related Variations In Kuroshio-Oyashio Extension (KOE) SST Anomalies And Their Impact On Northern Hemisphere Temperatures.

Back to Nuccitelli’s closing statement: That was the same conclusion reached in a recent video by SkepticalScience, using surface temperatures. I responded to their video with the post The Blatant Errors in the SkepticalScience Video “Global Warming over the Last 16 Years”, which includes the following YouTube video:

DON’T FORGET SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE AND OCEAN HEAT CONTENT

Further to my challenge to Dana Nuccitelli and his associates at SkepticalScience: if you continue to believe that manmade greenhouse gases are responsible for the recent bout of global warming, please provide links to the climate model-based, peer-reviewed papers that explain how and why sea surface temperature and ocean heat content data have warmed (or not warmed) in the following ways (numbering continued from preceding section):

3. How and why the sea surface temperatures of the East Pacific (90S-90N, 180-80W) haven’t warmed in 31 years (Figure 3).

Figure 3

Figure 3

4. How and why the sea surface temperatures of the Atlantic, Indian and West Pacific Oceans (Figure 4) with the coordinate of 90S-90N, 80W-180, only warmed during the strong El Niño events of 1986/87/88, 1997/98 and 2009/10 and did not cool proportionally during the training La Niñas—and without those El Niño events, the sea surface temperatures there would show no warming.

Figure 4

Figure 4

That should be a simple task since the global oceans were only broken down into two subsets.

Moving now to ocean heat content of the tropical Pacific where the fuel for El Niño events is generated:

5. How and why the warming of the ocean heat content data for the tropical Pacific, Figure 5, is dependent on the 1973-76 and 1995/96 La Niña events, and without those La Niñas the ocean heat content for tropical Pacific would cool.

Figure 5

Figure 5

Still in the subject of ocean heat content:

6. How and why the warming of the ocean heat content of the North Pacific (north of the tropics) is dependent on a 2-year climate shift (1989-90), and without that climate shift, the ocean heat content for the North Pacific would cool (Figure 6).

Figure 6

Figure 6

I discussed the above four graphs and the natural processes that caused their warming in the illustrated essay “The Manmade Global Warming Challenge” [42MB] and in the YouTube video series “The Natural Warming of the Global Oceans” Part 1 and Part 2. And I also discussed them in great detail in my ebook Who Turned on the Heat? which is available in pdf form for only US$8.00. Who Turned on the Heat? also discusses the warming of lower troposphere temperature anomalies shown in Figures 1 and 2.

CLOSING

There’s no reason to wait for links to peer-reviewed papers from Dana Nuccitelli and his associates at SkepticalScience—links that will offer climate model-based explanations for how and why the oceans have warmed in the fashions they’ve warmed and how the lower troposphere temperature anomalies warmed as they had. The warming is dependent on ENSO, and for the ocean heat content of the North Pacific, it depends on a change in wind patterns and sea level pressure. The first problem they’ll encounter is trying to find studies based on climate models that can simulate ENSO. As far as I know, there are a sum total of…How should I put this?…none. See Guilyardi et al (2009), discussed in the post here.

I used the phrases “if you believe” and “if you continue to believe” as part of the challenges to SkepticalScience. Sea surface temperatures, ocean heat content and lower troposphere temperatures have all warmed in very specific ways in response to ENSO. Unless there are climate model-based peer-reviewed papers that explain specifically how and why those variables have actually warmed in the manners in which they’ve warmed as responses to ENSO, then parties like SkepticalScience who are promoting hypothetical manmade global warming are doing so based solely on their beliefs.

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oldseadog

I haven’t bothered to get in more popcorn – my bet is that they won’t respond.

JJB MKI

Dana Nuccitelli thinks he gets to choose what is a ‘short term wiggle’ and what is a trend. To me, most of his trends are short term wiggles. He also seems to think CO2 somehow saves itself up for very short, intense bursts of climate changing activity. Amazing stuff, CO2. I’m no expert, but it seems that if sea surface temperatures have warmed in the pattern shown as a result of anthropogenic influence rather than asymmetric transport of energy around the ocean basins and to the atmosphere over decadal periods, there must be some serious negative feedbacks at play to prevent warming during ENSO neutral times. What are these Nuccitelli? How can the models tell us anything about them when they cannot reproduce any short term fluctuations? These guys just come out with soap bubble science – it all looks pretty but evaporates into nothing when touched.

Tom

I think I’m missing something here. Sorry if it’s blatantly obvious.
If ENSO oscillations do not balance out, that is if the cycle results in net warming, then that either represents energy moving from one part of the planet to another (ie oceans to troposphere or some such) or radiative imbalance (ie the earth takes more solar energy in than it re-radiates).
I haven’t seen anyone suggesting that it’s energy transfer – have I missed this? Is there a theory that ENSO is releasing stored energy into the atmosphere?
If it’s radiative imbalance, isn’t that global warming? Anthropogenic or otherwise – there’s not enough information there to say why there is a radiative imbalance.
AFAICT Bob seems to be saying that warming that can be correlated with ENSO “Doesn’t Matter” – which is a technique patented by the Hockey Team, last I checked. But warming is warming, and if it really is net warming then it comes from radiative imbalance – no?

CodeTech

The list of things not understood or misrepresented over there is long and comprehensive, and starts with “Skeptical” and “Science”…

You obviously do not have the same Higher Level of Understanding that Mr. Nuctelli has received. What we call “El Nino” is the manifestation of the Male Planetary Essence, and the “La Nina” phenomenon is the outwelling of the Female Essential Spirit. How can it be more obvious? We must throw Gold at them! Showers and showers of Gold, if they are to be appeased! Oh, and please don’t think you can just throw it anywhere. You must first give all of your Gold to Enlightened Beings such as Light Warrior Nucitelli, one of the True High Priests of our age.
Repent! Repent! Or ye shall all perish in Fire, and Flame, and Nasty, Pointy, Teeth!

Tom

Thanks for the link, it’s very interesting. It does a few things very well, but leaves me with some questions I feel should be really obvious.
It does really well at showing that climate models are rotten – which I think we all knew pretty well.
It does really well at explaining the mechanism of the El Nino – La Nina oscillation – that it *is* an oscillation and how heat moves around. I feel like I understand the flows in the oscillation while I only had a vague idea beforehand. Thanks for teaching me something.
It seems a bit like sleight-of-hand to present graphs with the warming portions of El Nino events removed and to then describe ocean heat content as cooling – after all, you are describing this as a recharge-discharge oscillator, so if you remove the warming bits of the oscillation then *of course* what is left will be cooling. But you say it like it means something, which smells a bit off. I know you’ve not just removed any warming but only the bits that are part of “official” El Nino events, but if you are right and the system is a recharge-discharge oscillator then it amounts to the same thing. You’ve removed the recharge bits and – shockingly! – found that what’s left is an average discharge. To put this another way, how would you respond to someone from the other camp who dismissed all the cooling sections of these graphs as “only caused by La Nina events” and presented a graph that kept stepping upwards – showing that, if you discount the cooling caused by La Nina, warming is even worse than we thought?
And, lastly, my question I’m left with: If the El Nino – La Nina cycle is a recharge-discharge oscillator, why isn’t it zero-sum? Oscillators either have something driving them, or they average to zero over a long enough course. Why do your graphs show an oscillator that averages to net warming – something that naturally leads to the conclusion that it is an oscillator that is not at its natural equilibrium but one that is being driven up by some external factor?
I can think of a couple of answers: We might have just got (un)lucky and had several warming cycles in a row by chance. In this case, we ought to expect either zero sum from here on, or perhaps slight cooling to redress the radiative imbalance. Or there might be a longer-term oscillation underlying the immediately apparent oscillation, in which case we should expect accelerating cooling over the coming three or four decades. The current temperature plateau would be consistent with either of these (another method TM the Hockey Team – I’d better watch out) and it’s too early to tell. I’m interested whether you subscribe to one of these theories or whether you have another explanation I’ve missed?
Thanks for responding!

Tom

I should point out I understand the bit about trade winds and reduced cloud cover – but that’s not an explanation, only moving the problem one step further away. Why have we had an unusual pattern of trade winds and cloud cover that’s persisted for over 50 years? What’s driving the unusual pattern?
I realise as well that we are getting to the point of trying to discern trends that are much longer than the dataset we have available – so the answer might well be just “we don’t know.”

Réaumur

I have to agree with Tom – there is a lot of interesting information about the details of the El Nino – La Nina oscillation as a transport mechanism, but I also don’t see where the extra energy comes from to cause a net temperature rise.
Warmists would say that “we” caused it and the oscillations are just moving the result around!
Please forgive me if I have missed the explanaion in the details, but perhaps others have as well, so it needs to be stated as simply as possible.

Bill_W

Tom,
As the planet has been warming since the Little Ice Age, the energy is coming from a combination of natural and anthropogenic sources. Since the rate of warming was similar (as a recent Monckton post showed) “from 1976-2001, warming was no greater than in 1860-1880 or 1910-1940” this would argue that most of it is natural. If now they claim that the heat is hiding in the deep oceans, this would argue for longer lag times so that any affects from man will be muted on very short time scales like 50 years.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/05/04/monckton-asks-ipcc-for-correction-to-ar4/#comment-1296975

sailboarder

Réaumur says:
May 7, 2013 at 5:50 am
I have to agree with Tom – there is a lot of interesting information about the details of the El Nino – La Nina oscillation as a transport mechanism, but I also don’t see where the extra energy comes from to cause a net temperature rise.
_________________
That was my first thoughts way back when I first read what Bob was posting. Then I got to think about the fact that the models do not explain why we have warmed since the Little Ice Age.
Add to that my doubts about the ‘corrections” to the temperature histories.(I trust Central England, which shows nothing alarming at all recently)
And I conclude that the warming was natural, ie, probablly a result of Sun/planet interactions as per Scafetta, and that Bob Tisdale is quite right, there is no human CO2 signature evident in the records. Just hiccups on the longer term trend. Our CO2 had to ADD to that in a uniformly rising way. It did not.

CodeTech says:
May 7, 2013 at 4:17 am
The list of things not understood or misrepresented over there is long and comprehensive, and starts with “Skeptical” and “Science”…

Agreed.
An aptly named site, however, since once should be very skeptical of the science there.
… parties like SkepticalScience who are promoting hypothetical manmade global warming are doing so based solely on their beliefs.
True dat.

Richard M

One possible answer to the questions raised about the ENSO creation recent warming is the mode of the PDO. For some reason when the PDO is in its cool mode there are fewer El Niño events than when it is in its warm mode. What drives the Pacific ocean to cycle between these modes would be the cause of the cyclic warming and cooling. I’m not aware of any explanations as yet.

jlurtz

Simple explanation:
1) Take any Solar Cycle and measure the area under the curve. Convert to Flux [not as noisy ].
2) Large area under the curve, El Niño will occur. Small area under the curve, La Nina will occur.
3) Check the strength of the trade winds and the size of the currents leaving Indonesia.
4) PDO follows as the currents move the warm water to the Northern/Southern Pacific.
5) Watch the heat leave the Northern/Southern Pacific during a small area under the curve.
Step 5) is happening now. In about two months, NOAA will declare a La Nina. This will be a great La Nina [very little solar input], and will last a long time.
The “Great Global Cooling” has been put on hold by this meager Solar Cycle 24. As the Cycle wanes, one should prepare for cold.

SkepticalScience: Authors, purveyors of FUD.
FUD – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Known to be used as a scare tactic, in lieu of logic or cogently expressed ideas and thought, often accomplished by threat (prognosticating imminent doom) or making the opponent doubt his standpoint (through illusion or the presenting of works of outright f raud). A tactic often used in sales, marketing, public relations, politics and propaganda.
FUD is generally a strategic attempt to influence perception by disseminating negative and dubious or false information.
One might conclude, therefore, that FUD has _no_ place in science.
.

Brian

Bob, you continue to post the same idea over and over again. I am starting to get the sense that you are simply promoting your book, since you haven’t provided any new information or ideas in quite a while.
I agree with Tom and some others that you are just explaining the natural process of ENSO without describing where the warming is coming from. It may be from the same natural processes that brought us out of the little ice age, it may be anthropogenic, or more likely a combination of both. But explaining ENSO to death and creating your own version of the escalator graph does nothing to discredit AGW.
To be fair, SkepticalScience has also posed questions to you that you have yet to support with peer-reviewed evidence:
1: Where’s the heat coming from?
2: What’s the physical mechanism?
3: Why is this mechanism unidirectional?
That said, I admire that you have gone to their site to have a civil discussion with them. That’s something I wish they would do more often over here. I believe scientific dialogue is much more beneficial than both you and Nuccitelli repeatedly calling each other’s ideas myths.

Richard M

Bob, thanks for your response. It’s always nice to see someone following the evidence rather than trying to fit it to a preconceived view.
You say above that you don’t know what drives ENSO modes but then you state that ENSO drives the PDO. Could you articulate a little more on this. Is there actual processes you can follow that demonstrate ENSO is driving the PDO?
Keep up the good work.

sailboarder

Bob Tisdale says:
“He may not understand those processes—or, just as likely, he may understand them and has chosen to intentionally mislead his readers.”
ha.. so true. Nuccitelli can always show up here and post his superiour knowledge and debate those that disagree. What he can’t do is edit WUWT to create a false impression. His failure to show up says that Bobs description is correct. Thats easy enough for everyone to understand.

There may be nothing new here for Brian but I found the question and answer with Tom clarified a few things for me. A good question and thoughtful answer is why I come here.

Brian

Bob says: “It’s been a long time since I’ve discussed lower troposphere temperature anomalies. So your complaint is unfounded.”
You have two paragraphs about lower troposphere temperature anomalies, which make the same basic point about step changes resulting from ENSO. The rest of your post in its entirety is regurgitated from your other posts.
Bob says: “Sometimes I include links to my book in posts and other times I don’t.”
5 of your last 6 posts (minus the open letter) promote your book. Not that there is anything wrong with promoting your work, but many posts seem to serve only that purpose.
Bob says: “Actually, if you had read Tom’s comments, he advised that he understood the relationship between cloud cover and trade wind strength in response to ENSO.”
Yes, he did say that, but it’s a strawman. Nowhere in that statement do I see any reference to a long term net warming trend. I’m not talking about the warming within a single El Nino, I’m talking about the net warming over the last 5 decades or so. Here’s his full comment, which I agree with: “I should point out I understand the bit about trade winds and reduced cloud cover – but that’s not an explanation, only moving the problem one step further away. Why have we had an unusual pattern of trade winds and cloud cover that’s persisted for over 50 years? What’s driving the unusual pattern? I realise as well that we are getting to the point of trying to discern trends that are much longer than the dataset we have available – so the answer might well be just “we don’t know.””
Regarding your experience at SkepticalScience, I agree that many will attack out of context qoutes and that there is a lot of time wasted correcting uninformed opinions. But there are just as many of those kind of people here, just from the opposite point of view. For instance, Dr. Lurtz above seems to think he can predict a deep prolonged La Nina in two months. Why does that comment get a pass here? So I commend you for arguing your case over there and dealing with those with predetermined conclusions.
Bob says: “The fact that they didn’t or wouldn’t grasp my answers indicates they weren’t capable of doing so or they were unwilling to.”
That’s just a ridiculous statement. You seem to imply that anyone who disagrees with what you say is either dumb or stubbornly wrong. I think many commenters there (such as Tom Curtis and KevinC) had legitimate concerns with your hypothesis and methods.
Bob says: “As far as I know, Nuccitelli has never attempted to discuss ENSO processes in one of his posts. Not once. I’ve only seen him representing ENSO as noise. He may not understand those processes—or, just as likely, he may understand them and has chosen to intentionally mislead his readers.”
Replace Nuccitelli with yourself, replace ENSO with AGW, and preplace noise with natural. It’s a reversible argument. I don’t believe it is valid from either side.

Larry Kirk

Bob, many thanks for your beautifully clear, understated and articulate explanation of 1. the episodic ENSO oceanic warming process and 2. the absence of any monotonously-rising, industrial CO2-induced warming signal in either the SST or ocean heat content records. Your Global Warming Challenge is a much appreciated education, and a very enjoyable read, which I shall pass on to various associates from either side of the discussion (which here in Australia, is often a very political, opinionated, scientifically ignorant discussion).
And thanks too to some other commenters and yourself in clearing up the question that was niggling at the back of my mind as I was reading your presentation: “But surely this is showing net warming? And why is that happening right now? And what does it all mean? etc., etc.”
I can see from your responses that such digressions simply miss your intended point. You are completely aware that there is net warming, it is blindingly obvious, but you don’t pretend to know why, or what longer term pattern that may be part of, and it wasn’t the point of your presentation to address that. You weren’t disputing that there was warming. You were simply showing that the warming couldn’t be due to ‘anthropogenic’ CO2 emissions. All you were intending to demonstrate was the fact that this warming is brought about by clearly understood, completely natural, episodic mechanisms, and that aside from the effects of these, there is no other warming signal in the data. There is certainly no monotonously increasing warming signal of the sort that could possibly correlate with the monotonously rising ‘Keeling Curve’ of trace atmospheric carbon dioxide content.
(Your description of these natural oceanic warming mechanisms are very thought provoking though. Do we know what ultimately controls the position and strength of the trade winds and how they may have varied over time?)
I wonder if perhaps some audiences need an additional slide at some point in the Global Warming Challenge, for the numerous influential people that may read it, who will be coming from a position of only superficial familiarity with the subject. Something that clearly informs them that:
1. ‘Only ocean heat content and temperature measurements count in any consideration of ‘global warming. The heat capacity of the air over the small area of the planet’s surface that is land mass is insignificantly small and is of no consequence. It is barely worth measuring it from a Global Warming perspective’, and
2. ‘Yes, the data does show that the oceans have warmed overall during the past 30 years of satellite and ocean buoy measurements, but the crucial point is that all of this warming has been due to localised, intermittent and entirely natural oceanic phenomena. If you remove the effects of these natural phenomena from the global data there has been no other warming. So the world is not being warmed by anything else, and not therefore by CO2. It is simply warming naturally, and will eventually also cool again naturally at some point. The climate has always varied like this, throughout geological time and throughout recent history. The earth’s climate is continually variable over time. It is not naturally stable and never has been’.
As an incidental aside, anybody in search of a perfect small-scale demonstration of the El Nino effect, only has to go swimming here at one of Western Australia’s beaches in the height of summer. We have a west-facing, north-south coastline, and daytime midsummer temperatures in the high 30s to low 40s (C). The ocean is warm enough to swim all year round, and on the hot summer mornings there is an oven-like, dry easterly wind that blows in from the interior. Then in the afternoons, with luck, we get a cooling sea breeze that comes in from the west, cools down the city, and eventually drives everyone off the beach with whipping sand and choppy surf. The thing is though, when you get into the ocean on a day with a strong, hot, offshore easterly wind behind you, it is usually surprisingly chilly, but if there is an early onshore sea breeze you find yourself in warm summer water instead. The easterly winds obviously drive the warm surface water out to sea, and much colder, deeper waters rise up along the shoreline to replace them. Whereas the westerly sea breezes pile up the warm surface waters along the beach for people to enjoy. I don’t know what this summertime diurnal coastal heat pump does to overall coastal water temperatures. I imagine it warms them, as that shallow cold water then spends half the day being warmed by a blazing sun under a cloudless blue sky. But perhaps the late afternoon sea breeze increases evaporative cooling and mixing enough to compensate for the morning’s warming.
Pardon excessive my late-night rambling!
With regards,

Janice Moore

Brian, at 0819 on 5/7/13: “Bob, you continue to post the same idea over and over again. I am starting to get the sense that you are simply promoting your book… .”
Setting aside the fact that, as he pointed out above, Mr. Tisdale has not addressed this particular aspect of his work for some time, there are many people who come to WUWT who, apparently, still do not understand what he is saying. Given that MANY of the above criticisms or questions could easily be answered by reading Mr. Tisdale’s analyses, including his book, he is extremely generous to devote so much of his time to, once again, try to teach what he has learned.
Bob Tisdale has donated hundreds of hours to teaching on WUWT and essentially GIVEN us all of his work (you don’t need to buy his book) in his many posts and by his patient, thorough, answers. He deserves our unqualified gratitude and praise.
If you agree that Mr. Tisdale has conferred a substantial benefit on you by his teaching for free, it seems that buying his book, if you can afford it, would simply be the decent thing to do.
*************************************************************************************
“… parties like SkepticalScience who are promoting hypothetical manmade global warming are doing so based solely on their beliefs.” [Tisdale]
Dear Bob Tisdale, you are too generous to the SS gang. They don’t have a sincerely held belief in AGW. They are either prideful to the point of insanity or out for money. The End.
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR FREE TEACHING AND FOR SO GENEROUSLY SHARING YOUR YEARS OF HARD WORK, Mr. Tisdale.
You are a scientist in the George Washington Carver tradition — the finest tradition.

Crispin in Waterloo

@Bob T
I really appreciate Figure 4. It is a direct explanation and to me, a proof that the mechanism you have so clearly identified is tangible, quantifiable and validated.

Mac the Knife

Bob Tisdale says:
May 7, 2013 at 8:07 am
Tom says: “It seems a bit like sleight-of-hand to present graphs with the warming portions of El Nino events removed and to then describe ocean heat content as cooling…”
You’re missing part of the argument. One of the gospels according to the purveyors of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis is that global temperatures respond proportionally to El Nino and La Nina events. It’s the only way that papers like Foster and Rahmstorf (2011)…
…can attempt to remove the impacts of ENSO through linear regression analysis and claim that the remaining warming trend is caused by manmade greenhouse gases.
And my argument is that they cannot do that because there are residuals from strong El Niño events (leftover warm water) that cause global sea surface temperatures to warm.

Bob,
Thanks for the explanation! I also needed that reminder….
MtK

Thanks you, Bob. You certainly do reach many and there are always new people at WUWT. I have learned a lot through your words.
As for Brian’s comment about your book, it comes across to me as a deliberate attempt to have readers here question your motives, which frankly makes me question HIS motives. With apologies to Brian if I am wrong, I can’t help but wonder if he is a troll. He seems to be going after the man when he can’t take on the science.
Brian, if you are not a troll, please stop fretting about whether Bob promotes his book or not. Who cares? Pay attention to the subject matter and keep your questions there, on observations and science. As for Bob’s book, I think it’s excellent that he promote it. He should. It’s the best way to get the information into the hands of the general public in a copy they can own and share. This is hugely important stuff Bob is talking about, and the more people who understand it, the better.
Cheers.

Sam Yates

Hm. Have you considered that the stepwise progression in global temperatures might simply be the result of applying a quasi-sinusoidal pattern (the oscillating shifts between El Nino and La Nina, in other words) to a continually rising trend in temperatures? During periods where the oscillation was rising, the increase in temperatures would be magnified to produce an apparent leap upwards in temperatures, and during periods when the oscillation was falling the underlying rising trend would more or less cancel out the descent, producing a plateau or a slow descent–which, as it happens, is more or less exactly what is seen in the global temperature record. How would you respond to that criticism?
On another note, I’d just like to be absolutely sure I understand you; your argument is that, in effect, the extra heat that has accumulated in the Earth system over the past ~50 years has been due to a string of unusually strong La Ninas, which have resulted in an excess of energy (thanks to low cloud cover and a consequent increase in downwelling shortwave radiation) being plonked into the oceans, yes? Or am I misrepresenting that?

Brian

A.D. Everard, I’m certainly not a troll. I have commented on many of Bob’s posts recently, and this is the first time I have said anything at all about the promotion of his book, and it was just one sentence (I’m not exactly fretting about it). In fact, I’m trying to keep the emphasis on the science in a way that is fair to all viewpoints. I have learned a lot from Bob’s explanations of the natural processes of El Nino. And I have made multiple scientific objections, which Bob has answered to various degrees. Perhaps you should pay more attention to the observations and science that I pointed out, and not so much emphasis on one statement I made.
Personally, I have an issue with making the jump from “ENSO causes the oceans to warm naturally” to “ENSO proves that there is no AGW”. I understand that this is an oversimplification, but I think it’s the essential stripped-down argument Bob is making. By removing El Nino warming (or a lack of La Nina cooling), he is also removing a possible way for AGW to manifest itself. I don’t think this kind of thing would fly in the peer-reviewed literature. Of course a large component of every ENSO cycle is natural, and some warming may be explained by trade winds and cloud cover. But I think Bob has yet to disprove that some degree of the strength of recent El Ninos may be AGW induced warming.
I think it is very ironic that Bob demands peer-reviewed evidence in this post, and then says this: “Your and SkepticalScience’s need for peer-reviewed evidence indicates you (plural) cannot read and interpret time-series graphs.”

Thanks, Bob.
I always learn something about ENSO when you share your observations and comments.

phlogiston

Bob, does your delayed oscillator model of ENSO presented in your book agree generally with this mini-review by Fiona Eccles? I confess I still havent read all of the book. I noticed that your thoughts on El Nino and La Nina being discreet events rather than a continuous oscillation receive support from Kessler who also sees interrupted events and intervening neutrality. The key ingredient seems to be intermittency, e.g. Tadokoro et al 2011.
There is enough knowledge out there on nonlinear/nonequilibrium oscillatory systems in the “chaos” community to really take ENSO by the scruff of the neck and sort it out once and for all. That no-one does this probably is due to political intimidation – if anyone pinned down ENSO in a working intermittent delayed nonlinear oscillator model, they would be accused of supporting AGW “d***ers”, so they are being scared off – only making non-committal statements from afar. This is a depressing state of affairs and shows how AGW thugs like Cook and Nutticelli are holding back science by decades.

Brian

Bob, in your lengthy hypocritical response, I don’t think you have really answered any of my concerns. You quote me, then twist my words into something that you can easily rebut, thereby arguing against something different from what I actually said. I would explain each (and I will if anyone would like), but I’m sure you’ll just say I’m using “time-wasting tactics”. So I’ll sum up my major concerns succinctly in a few lines:
1. No one is disputing your data or observations. Myself and others have disputed the conclusions that you draw from the data (that ENSO can explain away AGW).
2. Reduced cloud cover is one of the causes of each step change. You have yet to explain why there have been more steps up in temperature, creating a decades-long net warm trend.
3. Removing El Nino from a temperature plot is misleading, as it removes a possible mechanism for AGW to manifest itself.
4. Your hypothesis has not been reviewed by scientists. The following statement casts considerable doubt on it, especially given your demands for peer-reviewed evidence in this post: “Your and SkepticalScience’s need for peer-reviewed evidence indicates you (plural) cannot read and interpret time-series graphs.”
These are major concerns, not trivialities.

Brian

Bob, you have a problem with my statement “‘ENSO proves that there is no AGW’. I understand that this is an oversimplification, but I think it’s the essential stripped-down argument Bob is making.”
Then you say this:
“They claim that ENSO is simply noise overlaid on top of the global warming signal. That hypothesis fails to account for the naturally created warm water released and redistributed by strong El Nino events. That warm water is reason for the long-term trend in global sea surface temperatures during the satellite era, not greenhouse gases.”
So you seem to admit there may be an AGW signal over land, but absolutely not in sea surface temperatures. Fine, that’s part of the oversimplification I was referring to. It doesn’t change what I was saying whatsoever, but that’s the only sentence you responded to. How can you accuse me of belaboring trivialities when you continually skip the main components of my arguments?
Here’s my comment again with your trivial complaint corrected:
Personally, I have an issue with making the jump from “ENSO causes the oceans to warm naturally” to “ENSO proves that there is no GHG signal in the satellite era SST trends”. I understand that this is an oversimplification, but I think it’s the essential stripped-down argument Bob is making. By removing El Nino warming (or a lack of La Nina cooling), he is also removing a possible way for AGW to manifest itself. I don’t think this kind of thing would fly in the peer-reviewed literature. Of course a large component of every ENSO cycle is natural, and some warming may be explained by trade winds and cloud cover. But I think Bob has yet to disprove that some degree of the strength of recent El Ninos may be AGW induced warming.
I think it is very ironic that Bob demands peer-reviewed evidence in this post, and then says this: “Your and SkepticalScience’s need for peer-reviewed evidence indicates you (plural) cannot read and interpret time-series graphs.”

Skiphil

FYI, Roger Pielke, Sr. with lengthy comment at Climate Etc. (the full text of his email to David Appell):
http://judithcurry.com/2013/05/07/more-on-the-pause/#comment-319450

sailboarder

Brian, you are a troll. Bob answered you straw man statement with:
“You’ve personally made a jump that I don’t make. I state that there is no evidence that manmade greenhouse gases have had any impact on the warming of the global oceans. That is not the same as “ENSO proves that there is no AGW”. In fact, in my videos and essays I present the multiple anthropogenic factors that cause land surface temperatures to warm above and beyond the warming there caused by the natural warming of the oceans–including but not limited to the increased emissions of manmade greenhouse gases”

Theo Goodwin

Brian says:
May 7, 2013 at 2:04 pm
“A.D. Everard, I’m certainly not a troll.”
Actually, Brian, you are a Troll. However, I will explain your (pretended) misunderstanding of Mr. Tisdale’s work.
In writing about ENSO, Mr. Tisdale uses the published data about ENSO in an effort to describe the natural processes that make up ENSO. That is what he is doing. He sticks to the observations. He has never offered a scientific explanation for ENSO.
His work is not intended as a direct criticism of AGW or Alarmist climate science. However, his work is a powerful indirect indictment of Alarmist climate science because it shows that ENSO does consist of natural processes that have been described to some extent. Because he is not a rich institution, he has not found all the natural processes that make up ENSO and he has not followed any natural process to its ultimate cause. As you no doubt know, Alarmist climate science does not treat ENSO as a natural process at all. In fact, they deny that it is a natural process.
Mr. Tisdale might seem to repeat himself because such repetition is the very nature of describing natural processes as one’s knowledge of the process is growing and being refined.
When you ask him for causes or explanations, you show that you have not a clue what he is doing or what he has achieved in his work. When you berate him for not answering your questions about causes or explanations, you are simply compounding your error.

Crispin in Waterloo

Brian
I don’t think you’re a troll but I am pretty sure you have no intention of accepting the conclusions of any argument or sets of data that contradict the idea that the warming, stepped or not, depending on how you wish to draw the trend lines, is not primarily caused by AGW. It is clear though all your posts that you are scurrying around the essential arguments looking for a way to hide AGW behind every tree and I am getting tired of reading it. You are being out-classed.
For your putative ‘AGW signal in the ENSO warming’ or AGW from CO2 to be a large contributor to long term warming (I noted your very carefully worded #2 above so don’t think we are not considering your statements carefully) you will have to provide some alternative explanation for the warming that has something to do with CO2. Central to this need is some mechanism for CO2 to heat the oceans. How on earth do you explain that back-radiation is going to heat the oceans?
I know there is no such mechanism because the physics are dead set against it. So, what does that leave? It leaves you a very weak argument that somehow warmer air is damping the heat loss from a natural ENSO heating event and the result is a ‘stronger El Nino’. Poppycock, I say.
If such a mechanism existed, and it was primary caused by AGW induced by CO2, there would be a continuous influence that would smooth the rise along with the CO2. There is clearly no such rise in the data. It is a stepped signal and it only steps up with solar-induced El Nino events. I expect some rebuttal from you about ocean heat content and yatta yatta about how it could be happening in some as-yet-undiscovered cyclical way in which ocean heat content is driven up (again by either having back-radiation heat the oceans or limiting heat loss) that just happens to match the rather obvious El Nino heating. Well, it could be a large number of mice running on tiny treadmills connected to friction brakes with water cooling systems connected to the ocean floor. Or not.
I find Bob’s rather specific complaints about the poor quality of discussion at SkS to be believable. The main points Bob makes are well documented, well presented and alternative explanations are, so far, simply not viable – make that ‘not believable’. I think your treatment of him here is shabby and poorly intended, perhaps for an external audience that is not contributing at all. I find your analyses intent only on showing that he has not shown that AGW is disproved. To what end? If you understand this subject so well, why not just present your view on how the data shows that CO2 can create step-wise increases is ocean temperatures so we have an alternative to consider?
After you do that, you can write to SkS and point out that the single-slope-trendline graph is bunk, not because the very real ‘stepped’ nature of ocean heat content is caused by El Nino events, but because it is actually caused by your newly discovered CO2-related mechanism with its clear tie to human emissions of fossil CO2. Until then I encourage to adopt a silent key approach to this subject. As Victor Borge so wisely said, “If you have nothing to say, the least you can do is shut up.”

Brian

I’ll respond somewhat briefly, as I don’t want these discussions to become overly verbose and lose sight of the science. Still, I would like to try to respond to each poster who addresses me.
Theo, I have never said that Bob offers an explanation for ENSO, but he certainly does claim that his observations indicate that there is no GHG signal in the oceans. This is a claim, more than just showing data. I understand that he doesn’t have substantial resources to work with, but he is putting his work out there on a widely read blog, and I think he handles rebuttals quite well. He very rarely resorts to ad hominem attacks, and does a great job of answering many comments. Overall, I have great respect for Bob and his work. I don’t think I am berating him, but rather giving point by point responses in civilized dialogue.
Crispin, you have come to the conclusion that I subscribe to CAGW, or that I’m some sort of SkS crony. I am neither of those. I’m in the camp that says we don’t know nearly enough about climate yet to either prove or disprove the precise impact of any possible forcing. As such, your first 4 paragraphs are generally falling on deaf ears for me. You do make a very valid point when you say “I find your analyses intent only on showing that he has not shown that AGW is disproved. To what end?” I suppose it is because many commenters here seem to think that Bob has indeed disproved AGW, and there are very few dissenting opinions. I think dissenting opinions are necessary to avoid confirmation bias. Believe me, I don’t like the way SkS handles dissent either. They will fit any forcing imaginable into their GHG framework without acknowledging any shortcomings.
Looking back, I see that I got off on the wrong foot by (unintentionally strongly) accusing Bob of self-promotion. Bob, I apologize for that, and I appreciate that you respond to rather than ignore criticism..

Pierre-Normand

The paper: Pavlakis et al. (2008) “ENSO surface shortwave radiation forcing over the tropical Pacific”, referred to by Bob Tisdale, is quite interesting. I was unaware of this cloud induced amplification of the ENSO induced effect on ocean heat content.
This paper (Pav. 2008) also refers to their earlier Pavlakis et al. (2007) “ENSO surface longwave radiation forcing over the tropical Pacific” where they present evidence for longwave forcing about twice as large as the shortwave forcing. This forcing is partly caused by the SST variation between La Nina and El Nino. They define NSL (the net surface longwave downwelling) as the difference between the downward longwave radiation (DLR) and the surface thermal emission. This latter term is εσT^4. The variation of that term accounts for much of the La Nina induced forcing (and the corresponding El Nino dampening). (See figure 7 in the paper; available online).
Bob Tisdale makes no mention of this longwave forcing, but it seems that it could potentially change the strength of his La Nina ‘recharge’ mechanism. He seems to be dismissing such effects on the ground that longwave radiation can’t penetrate much beyond the ocean skin layer. However, if the effect of this forcing merely is to slowdown the rate of longwave surface cooling that compensates the rate of (deeper) shortwave warming, then this objection is irrelevant. (This objection was put to some Sky Dragon Slayer, and I can’t remember hearing a convincing response). Second, it doesn’t seem to me that an increase in latent heat flux can neutralize this forcing (as Bob Tisdale suggested it could). There are both a theoretical and an empirical objection to this proposal. The theoretical objection is that the forcing can hardly cause a large increase in the latent heat flux when the air above the surface already is saturated (or nearly saturated) with water vapor. The empirical objection is that the sensible heat flux actually seems larger over much of the Tropical Pacific during the El Nino phase of ENSO than it is in the La Nina phase. I am wrong about this?