Did ENSO and the “Monster” Kelvin Wave Contribute to the Record High Global Sea Surface Temperatures in 2014?

Guest Post by Bob Tisdale

Of course they did.

Those who have followed the 2014/15 El Niño series from its start back in April will recall all the hoopla about the strong downwelling Kelvin wave that was traveling from west to east along the Cromwell Current (aka the Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent). Based on the size of that Kelvin wave, alarmists were anticipating a super El Niño that would cause record-high global surface temperatures, but the super El Niño failed to form.

The strong Kelvin wave earlier this year took a massive volume of warm water that had been below the surface of the West Pacific Warm Pool, where it was not included in the surface temperature record, and allowed that warm water to be spread across the surface of the tropical Pacific, where it was then included in the surface temperature record. The surfaces of the tropical Pacific had to warm in response. They could do nothing else.

But did the warm water released by that Kelvin wave have a noticeable impact on global sea surface temperatures?


Record-high global sea surface temperatures have occurred in 2014, and annually 2014 is likely to set a new record high. We also know the primary cause: the unusual weather-related surface warming of the eastern extratropical North Pacific. That unusual warming event, also known as “the blob”, was discussed in a number of posts this year, including:

And we further discussed the blob and a very likely cause of it in Axel Timmermann and Kevin Trenberth Highlight the Importance of Natural Variability in Global Warming…

For 24 years, from 1989 to 2012, the surface of the North Pacific showed no warming, but climate models showed the surface there should have warmed more than 0.5 deg C in that time. See Figure 1.

Figure 1

Figure 1

If the manmade greenhouse gas-forced climate models used by the IPCC cannot explain the 24-year absence of warming of the surface in the North Pacific, it can’t be claimed that the weather-related warming there in 2013 and 2014 were caused by manmade greenhouse gases. That little bit of common sense eludes alarmists.


As we discussed in the first post in this series, the strong Kelvin wave that formed and traveled from west to east along the equator in the Pacific was caused by a couple of very strong westerly wind bursts. Think of the downwelling (warm) Kelvin wave as a humongous pulse of warm water traveling from west to east, below the surface, being carried eastward by the Cromwell Current. The water in the western equatorial Pacific is naturally warmer than it is in the east, so the pulse of warm water can create greater positive subsurface temperature anomalies as it travels east. See Animation 1, which is an animation of the pentadal (5-day average) subsurface temperature anomaly cross sections available from the NOAA GODAS website. It runs from the first of the year to the end of July 2014.

Animation 1

Animation 1

The complete animation to the end of November is here.

That first downwelling Kelvin wave this year was very strong, the strongest one since 1997, and of course the Kelvin wave(s) in 1997 initiated the 1997/98 super El Niño.

A minor upwelling (cool) Kelvin wave followed the strong downwelling (warm) Kelvin wave in 2014, and the upwelling (cool) Kelvin wave helped to offset a small part of the effects of the strong downwelling (warm) Kelvin wave. That is, the upwelling (cool) Kelvin wave was not comparable in strength to the strong downwelling (warm) Kelvin wave, so the cool one did not negate the warm one. See the Hovmoller diagrams in Figure 2 as well. (The Hovmoller diagrams in Figure 2 and 3 are also available from the available from the NOAA GODAS website. I’ve included 1997 as a reference in both.)

Figure 2

Figure 2

We’ve discussed other reasons why this El Niño failed to turn into a super El Niño.

In 1997, there were a series of westerly wind bursts throughout the year that helped to pump more warm water from the western to the eastern tropical Pacific, while this year there were no additional westerly wind bursts to help reinforce the evolution of the El Niño. 1997 was freakish because the weather conditions in the western tropical Pacific all aligned to help the El Niño evolve, and 2014 was freakish because the weather conditions in the western tropical Pacific failed to help the evolution. See the Hovmoller diagrams in Figure 3 for a comparison of NOAA zonal wind stress along the equator in 1997 and 2014.

Figure 3

Figure 3

We discussed another unusual event this year…how part of the original Kelvin wave broke out of the Cromwell Current just east of the dateline. See the posts here and here. That warm water was carried back (south of the equator) to the west where it reentered the Cromwell Current and is now being carried eastward, providing the fuel for the late evolution of the weak-to-moderate El Niño conditions we have now.


That’s very true. While some of the warm water that was part of the first downwelling Kelvin wave this year broke away and is now being recirculated along the equator, the rest of that the warm water from that Kelvin wave didn’t simply disappear. And the upwelling (cool) Kelvin wave that followed it wasn’t strong enough to counter it fully. So the warm water has to be somewhere, and the likely place is the surface of the tropical Pacific.

Because that warm water didn’t really make its presence known in the NINO3.4 region until recently (in response to the second and third downwelling Kelvin waves), the impacts of the strong Kelvin wave earlier this year will not register on the “official” El Niño records. But that doesn’t mean that warm water didn’t rise to the surface of the tropical Pacific and influence surface temperatures there. Figure 4 presents a map of the average sea surface temperature anomalies of the tropical and North Pacific for the past 6 months: May through October 2014. I’ve highlighted (1) the NINO3.4 region (5S-5N, 170W-120W), upon which NOAA’s “official” ENSO index ONI is based; (2) the tropical Pacific (24S-24N, 120E-80W), which is also directly impacted by El Niño and La Niña events; and (3) the extratropical North Pacific (24N-65N, 120E-80W), where the blob existed in 2013 and 2014.

Figure 4

Figure 4

You’ll note the coordinates carry over into the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and Hudson Bay. Those small portions outside the Pacific have little impact on this simple analysis.

Looking at the average sea surface temperature anomalies for the past 6 months in Figure 4, we can see a number of things. The greatest anomalies occurred in the extratropical North Pacific. But the map can give the wrong impression of the size of the extratropical North Pacific. The extratropical North Pacific actually covers a surface area that is almost 2 ½ times smaller than the tropical Pacific. Then again, the temperature anomalies in the extratropical North Pacific were much greater than in the tropical Pacific.

Also visible in the map: the warming in the tropics avoided the NINO3.4 region. That is, in response to the Kelvin waves this year, the primary warming over the past 6 months occurred east and west of the NINO3.4 region. But NOAA uses NINO3.4 region to determine if an El Niño has occurred.

We can confirm that El Niño conditions have hardly existed (in monthly data) in the NINO3.4 region by looking at the sea surface temperature anomalies there, Figure 5. They’ve reached the threshold a couple of times (and they will be higher in November).

Figure 5

Figure 5

If we look at the sea surface temperature anomaly data for the entire tropical Pacific, however, Figure 6, we would think an El Niño had been taking place for a good part of 2014. Sea surface temperature anomalies across the entire tropical Pacific this year are warmer than the peaks for period of 2002 to 2007 when 3 El Niño events occurred. See the ONI index to confirm that 3 El Niños occurred then.

Figure 6

Figure 6

NOTE: In the post Axel Timmermann and Kevin Trenberth Highlight the Importance of Natural Variability in Global Warming…, we discussed coastally trapped Kelvin waves. It was topic introduced by Kevin Trenberth in the interview that was discussed in that post. As we noted in that post, while coastally trapped Kelvin waves do exist, it was difficult to see any evidence of them in the sea surface temperature records this year. That doesn’t mean they didn’t occur; they’re just difficult to see. [End note.]

Looking at Figure 6, it’s blatantly obvious that an ENSO-related warming event this year impacted the sea surface temperature anomalies of the tropical Pacific, and based on the size of the tropical Pacific, that ENSO-related warming had to have had some impact on the global data. But some people are hard to convince…


A simple way to determine the impact of the surface warming in the tropical Pacific this year is to remove the sea surface temperature data of both the tropical Pacific and the extratropical North Pacific from the global data. We can then add the data for those regions back in and check the results.

If we know the surface areas of those two regions, we can then weight the data for those two regions and subtract the data for those two subsets from the global data.

The tropical Pacific (24S-24N, 120E-80W) is not a small portion of the global oceans. As shown above in Figure 4, it stretches almost halfway around the globe. It covers a surface area of roughly 88 million km^2, or about 17% of the surface of the Earth, or about 24% of the surface of the global oceans. The extratropical North Pacific (24N-65N, 120E-80W) is considerably smaller. It covers a surface area of about 37 million km^2, or about 7% of the surface of the globe, or about 10% of the surface of the global oceans.

Figure 7 presents the monthly global sea surface temperature anomalies (Reynolds OI.v2 data) from November 1981 to October 2014. It serves as our reference. There should be no doubt that global sea surface temperatures reached record-highs in 2014.

Figure 7

Figure 7

Using the area-weighting factors for the extratropical North Pacific (0.1) and the tropical Pacific (0.24), the sea surface temperature data for those two regions were subtracted from the global data in Figure 8. Without the extratropical North Pacific and the tropical Pacific, the adjusted global sea surface temperature data do not show the extraordinary warming in 2014. ENSO-related peaks in 1998 and 2010 were comparable or greater.

Figure 8

Figure 8

NOTE: We’ve discussed how Kevin Trenberth now suggests that El Niño events can cause the long-term warming of global surface temperatures. The most recent post was The 2014/15 El Niño – Part 9 – Kevin Trenberth is Looking Forward to Another “Big Jump”. And there are other related posts linked to it. The El Niño-caused upward shifts were evident in Figure 8, so I’ve highlighted them in Figure 9.

Figure 9

Figure 9

[End note.]

Back to our discussion of the impact of the warming of the tropical Pacific in 2014:

In Figure 8 above, we can see that global sea surface temperatures would not be at record high levels without the impacts of the extratropical North Pacific and the tropical Pacific.

Let’s add the data for the tropical Pacific back in, but exclude the extratropical North Pacific. See Figure 10. In that case, they’d be warmer, closer to record highs, but not at record highs.

Figure 10

Figure 10

On the other side of the coin, if we exclude the tropical Pacific data but include the extratropical North Pacific data, Figure 11, the addition of the extratropical North Pacific data puts the abridged global sea surface temperature data at record levels in 2014.

Figure 11

Figure 11

So we’ve been correct to say that the unusual weather-related warming event in the extratropical North Pacific is responsible for the record-high sea surface temperatures in 2014.


If there was any doubt, the ENSO-related warming of the tropical Pacific in 2014 did contribute to the record high global sea surface temperatures, but without the exceptional weather-related warming of the extratropical North Pacific (Figure 12), 2014 would not have been a record warm sea surface year globally (Figure 7).

Figure 12

Figure 12

And for those of you who want to argue about the warm water for the Kelvin wave, also see the post The 2014/15 El Niño – Part 2 – The Alarmist Misinformation (BS) Begins.



78 thoughts on “Did ENSO and the “Monster” Kelvin Wave Contribute to the Record High Global Sea Surface Temperatures in 2014?

  1. As usual, a very clear, concise summary of actual observations. I far prefer it to the modeled stuff. Thank you.

    I’m curious about something. In the very-short-term, the low whirling off California, and transporting the flow of moisture up from the southwest and giving California needed rain, would seem to transport warmer surface water north along the California coast. Is this a real current? (Seasonal, or irregular, perhaps?) All I ever seem to read about is cold water up-welling there.

    • Caleb, from your description, the stream of moisture I think you’re referring to is called the Pineapple Express:

      Also, based on your discussion, coastally trapped Kelvin waves do transport (a “pulse” of) warm water poleward along the west coasts of the Americas after an ENSO-related equatorial Kelvin wave slams into the coast of South America. That was one of the points Trenberth was making in his recent interview. See:
      [Start quote]
      Next, a series of waves of warm water – known as Kelvin waves – moved across the Pacific from the west near Indonesia to the east and these were interpreted as signs that an El Nino Pacific Ocean warming event may be about to take place. Trenberth explained to reportingclimatescience.com that, as a result of this movement of water, sea levels rose in the central and eastern Pacific and fell back in the western Pacific. However, this warm water did not trigger the expected full blown El Nino.

      Instead, the warm water moved across the Pacific until it hit the western coast of the Americas and moved north and south – warming coastal waters along the west coast of North America as far north as Oregon and causing a warming of the north eastern Pacific Ocean waters from April through to September.
      [End quote]

      There’s a problem with that last sentence because the “blob” in the eastern extratropical North Pacific existed before the first Kelvin wave headed across the equatorial Pacific this year. We discussed that in the post here:

      Last, coastal upwelling and downwelling vary in response to changes of coastal wind patterns.

      Let’s assume for a moment that upwelling of cool subsurface waters is the “normal” at a location. If the upwelling decreases due to a change in wind patterns, sea surface temperatures along the coast will increase, creating positive anomalies.

      • Thanks, Bob. I’ll enjoy the reading.

        Joseph D’Aleo and Joe Bastardi noticed the “blob” last winter, and by comparing it to the very cold winter of 1918 predicted last winter would be cold where it was cold. They seem to get some good results by comparing current sea-surface temperatures with temperature lay-outs of the past. All of which suggests the “blob” and other features have existed before and will disappear only to reappear in some future time.

    • Caleb, FWIW, there sometimes is a warm countercurrent off Southern California that manifests itself by the appearance of Dolphin (the fish — Couyphaena hippurus) and other tropical forms in commercial and sport fishing catches. IIRC, the warmer water it brings North stays inshore and peters out around Pt Conception (Santa Barbara). I don’t think anyone has correlated it to ENSO or to rainfall. Most of the time the water along the California coast is provided by the South flowing California Current and is uncomfortably cool (mid 60s F) for humans even in Summer. The countercurrent has a name that that I can’t recall. If ENSO generated warm surface water makes it out of the tropics in the North Pacific, I would guess that it normally tends to end up mostly in the already quite warm Gulf of California, rather than making its way North along the West coast of Baja California..

      I did a cursory check of SoCal dolphin catch big years 1983, 1984, 1990, 1992, 1993 and don’t see any particular correlation with ENSO, (1983 was an El Nino year. The others pretty much neutral?) but a more serious analysis might show something

      The “blob” looks to be something different — further North and well offshore. That’s all I think I know about it — sorry.

      • A coupla data points from a friend, farmer in Salinas, Ca, the two summers that he was ever able to scuba near Monterrey without a wetsuit on were 1982 and 2014. He attributed this to a Northward moving current from the Kelvin wave that crossed in March.

      • Thanks for the information. It is amazing how much we can learn from the fishermen.

        Here on the Atlantic side I can remember a college-educated ecologist giving a lecture to the general public back around 1974, before the best satellite pictures were readily available, and in the audience was a young fisherman of about the same age. The young fisherman talked a bit about warm and cold whirlpools along the edge of the Gulf Stream, asking a question about them. The ecologist sort of indulgently rolled his eyes, as if the fisherman was talking about sea serpents or mermaids. A few years later the satellite was showing us beautiful pictures of the warm and cold whirls the fisherman described.

        (Not that the ecologist was all bad. He was giving the public some very valuable information about beach erosion. He just should have stuck with the subject he knew about, and shown a bit more respect for people who actually sail the seas, and have actual observations to share.)

        I agree that the “blob” is quite a ways from the coast of California. However what is fascinating is how all these various winds and currents interrelate. If you get warmer water in one place it encourages the creation of a semi-permanent high or low pressure system, which results in steady winds for a duration of time, which in turn shifts the surface waters and either fuels or snuffs the semi-permanent high or low pressure system. Sometimes events which are far apart have some connection, sort of like the rear wheels of a car being far from the engine; then you can puzzle about a chicken-or-the-egg factor which always seems to be involved.

        Satellites are giving us new ways to observe we never had before, but the key is the observing, whether you are a fisherman or satellite-data-collector. Observe, observe, observe, with a sense of wonder.

        Leave the politics out of it. The sea doesn’t give a hoot who you voted for, or whether you are rich or poor.

  2. It is clear from the figures 2 and 4, the warm sea temperatures are confined to certain parts only. If it is due to global warming, why it is confined to a specific zones? So, it is a phenomenon associated with regional general circulation effect. Also, drought condition generally increase the surface temperature.

    In the last 18 years the temperatures show above and below the average peaks. Other-wise the trend instead of flat would have reflected differently.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  3. Thanks Bob. I always learn something from your posts.

    For anyone who spends some time analyzing the arctic, I wonder if this pattern, in the link to Sea Ice extent with open water off Alaska, is connected to the blob. All other areas of the arctic are filling in quickly, save the area near the Aleutians and north,

  4. Should there not be an area of anomalous cooling left by the departure eastwards of this hot volume?
    That is, is heat merely being relocated rather than generated to form records?
    Or are there factors like area changes, like taking hot water from below and spreading it on the suface?
    Is there a present change in OHC or not?

    • Geoff, thanks for the reminder. The KNMI Climate Explorer was down yesterday when I went to look for the OHC update.

      The ocean heat content of the tropical Pacific has not dropped off as one would expect during an El Nino.

  5. Bob

    I’m somewhat confused. Your article implies that the SST is commonly reported as an unweighted average. Surely the gridding routines they use account for clustering by using some type of area weighting (e.g. Voronoi tessellation) on an equal area projection. Of course kriging on an equal area projection would be the best way to go: unlike BEST I think sea surface temperatures should be treated separately. It’s how we would treat such an issue in the oil industry as the structural component and pdfs (the detrended pdfs after accounting for the structural component) are likely to be different between land and sea (don’t know for sure but would suspect so). Anyway I’m digressing here…

    But do the SST values (as presented to the public) not take into account clustering?

    • cd: “Your article implies that the SST is commonly reported as an unweighted average.”

      Nope. I didn’t mean to imply that and I don’t believe I did. All surface temperature datasets are weighted by latitude.

      • Bob

        If we know the surface areas of those two regions, we can then weight the data for those two regions and subtract the data for those two subsets from the global data.

        Just thought if you’re dealing with gridded data that is area weighted (or accounts for clustering) then you don’t need to know the areas of your two regions to do this. But then I didn’t delve very deep so an obvious misunderstanding on my part.

        Thanks for the clarification.

  6. 2 observations.

    “Freakish” seems to be a commonly used term. Perhaps it is because we still do not understand the complete dynamics of the weather. To the dynamics of the planet, it may just be Gaian burps that occur regularly. How long have we had the tools to notice “Freakish” events? Not long enough to know if they are normal and semi regular or not.

    And 2, while the heat was distributed wider with the Kelvin wave, it was not really adding any additional heat/energy into the system. Just moving it from one place to another.

  7. Whenever you see the words ‘record high’ two good questions to ask are how big a high ‘ and how ‘long’ is the record , in this case we can add how ‘good ‘ is the record . Hear we can suggest that given the very limited amount of data compared to vast range of what could be measured, not that good.

    Now we need to ask ourselves is ‘not that good ‘ is the standard needed to justify the spending of trillions and the massive changes to people lifestyles which those pushing AGW are affectively calling for ?

  8. I wonder if you know the error bars in the data…for example, the global record for 2014 is 0.03 C above the 1998 record (Figure 7). That is 3/100ths of a degree – Is that difference statistically significant? And what does the graph look like when expressed in absolute temperature rather than anomalies? Would the difference look at all remarkable?

  9. Wasnt the stage set for this well before this weak to moderate enso, Bob, We had a standard deviation of 6 in the ne pac SST LAST YEAR that was never going to cool enough this year to not keep that area warm ( it will in 2-3 years as the cold PDO re-establishes itself. BUT THAT OCCURRED WAY BEFORE THE WAVE that in all honesty produced, compared to the early hype, an “Is that all there is enso event”

    We cant just at one thing and say, aha, that is it. The superninoistas did not even realize all they needed was a wake to moderate event given the warmth in the NE pac to get their spike IN FACT THE PHYSICAL REALITY OF THE WARMER WATER ALL AROUND EARLY.. AUSTRALIA AND THE STILL WARM NE PAC limited the enso event.

    The wave was there but the seeds for this were planted well before. I am not trying to sound Uppity, but D Aleo and I have been going over maps of the 1912-1919 period with a fine tooth comb for quite some time now to set up what I think will be the 3rd major winter in a row for the US. We can not be sure of the exact temps of the SST back in that time, but you can see links to what we see now very plainly

    Another very similar situation, and I suspect if we had the way to measure things then the way we do today, was the late 1950s.. including a spike in the PDO very close to what we are seeing now
    As Thoreau said. the sum of all our fictions add up to a joint reality. It is not one thing.. it never is.


    • Joe, thanks for reinforcing what I presented in the post…and those linked to it.


      PS: I liked “superninoistas” but I think you need to hyphenate it: super-nino-istas.

    • Quite an article from that thorn in your side, Bob. Ad hominem all the way through. One wonders about the personality disorder that generates such stuff. Be assured that most of us value your analysis.

    • There is something pointlessly circular about a reference to a page that references another page that refutes a third page. Miriam is a loony and your preoccupation with her is making you look like a loony. That can’t be healthy for your reputation. She never had one to risk but she’s succeeding in taking yours.

      • dp, obsession with Miriam? Hardly. I don’t read most of her posts, but when I do bother, I find them extremely funny.

        Do you recall the Jon Lovitz character Tommy Flanagan on SNL, the pathological liar? Next time you read one of her posts, throw in a few, “Yeah, that’s the ticket.”

        MoreOnMiram is going to be short lived. Yesterday, it had less than 100 visitors. I guess for most people, if you’ve read one of Miriam’s posts, you’ve read them all.

  10. Any warming that leaves the oceans for the atmosphere is heat that is on its way to leaving the Earth system forever. It is a net cooling event. Why then is it seen by CAGW alarmists as a warming event?

    • Because the GW meme survives on knee-jerk reactions to short term events. We know the warming is just a spike and temporary — unless KT is correct — but they see it as an opportunity to spread alarmism.

  11. “…Kevin Trenberth now suggests that El Niño events can cause the long-term warming of global surface temperatures….The El Niño-caused upward shifts were evident in Figure 8, so I’ve highlighted them in Figure 9.”

    Trenberth might be on the right track there, but, of course, it has nothing to do with CO2, but rather it is the result of a natural phenomena.

    Bob correctly states: ” If the manmade greenhouse gas-forced climate models used by the IPCC cannot explain the 24-year absence of warming of the surface in the North Pacific, it can’t be claimed that the weather-related warming there in 2013 and 2014 were caused by manmade greenhouse gases. That little bit of common sense eludes alarmists.”

    But morwe generally there is no known mechanism whereby CO2 can induce/cause El Nino events. All of this, whilst not fully understood, appears to be natural in origin and not the result of CO2 driven forcing.

    The satellite temperature data confirms that there is no first order correlation with CO2, and the only temperature change is a step change in and around the Super El Nino of 1998, as opposed ro a more linear steady warming that would result from the monotonous year on year rising levles of CO2.

    The more interesting issue is whilst the ocean may be driving step changes why has the temperature that has been released into the atmosphere, remained there and not gradually dissipated.

    • There is one possible mechanism. Suppose the additional radiation from higher CO2 prevents oceans from cooling. We don’t know what the trends looked like in the past. Maybe the same jump upward was followed by cooling. Now, the cooling goes away and we are left with a bumpy warming trend. Since IR is absorbed in the top few microns this could be preventing heat from escaping.

      If you look at Bob’s picture missing the two key Pacific areas they appears to be a more gentle warming. While this is no doubt somewhat affected by the AMO, it seems to support this idea.

      Of course, this warming is very, very slow (.05C/decade at most). If all CO2 can do is limit some heat loss then the long term warming is never going to be dangerous.

      Finally, even though one can think of a mechanism, it doesn’t make it true. There could be another mechanism that is driving this change (e.g. changes in clouds). We have been warming from the depths of the LIA and something must have driven the warming in the past.

    • But isn’t it strange that the SST isn’t causing the troposphere to have a record warm year as well?

      • It almost makes you think we’d be cooling fairly rapidly this years without the El Nino conditions and the blob.

  12. OT but take note, the system comes ashore over 4 days whole and is projected to remain a Typhoon as the eye is partly or entirely over land most of that time.

    In other words, the system doesn’t weaken due to the NET conditions being progressively less favorable for a strong typhoon, it only weakens because of continuous land atmosphere interaction over four days, yet the conditions supporting an organized typhoon are expected to be maintained. It’s begun to impact the coast right now, and will not be moving off again until late Tuesday.

  13. If the manmade greenhouse gas-forced climate models used by the IPCC cannot explain the 24-year absence of warming of the surface in the North Pacific, it can’t be claimed that the weather-related warming there in 2013 and 2014 were caused by manmade greenhouse gases. That little bit of common sense eludes alarmists.

    Not necessarily. We can have greenhouse gas induced warming but the models be incorrect. With a system as complex as the Earth climate system, there is no reason to expect the warming, if there, to be uniform in time and space. This is a region of scientific inquiry in which common sense and the models fail. To repeat: the Earth climate system is a high dimensional non-linear dissipative system rotating with respect to the source of input, which is fluctuating: nothing that it does can be derived from common sense, and the best models to date are not accurate.

    • Matthew R Marler says: “We can have greenhouse gas induced warming but the models be incorrect… …and the best models to date are not accurate.”

      And they will continue to be of no value until they can simulate coupled ocean-atmosphere processes and simulate decadal and multidecadal variability.

      • Bob Tisdale: And they will continue to be of no value until they can simulate coupled ocean-atmosphere processes and simulate decadal and multidecadal variability.

        I agree. In the meantime, there is no good way to tell whether CO2 has caused the Earth to warm or is causing the Earth to warm.

      • Matthew R Marler says: “I agree. In the meantime, there is no good way to tell whether CO2 has caused the Earth to warm or is causing the Earth to warm.”

        Or to rephrase your comment, climate models still cannot be used in attribution studies, and the climate science community still can’t differentiate between anthropogenic and natural warming.

  14. Remember that SSTs are only surface. They don’t mean that much in terms of ocean heat. The North Pacific OHC anomaly map down to 150m is currently unremarkable:


    A climate cooling regime involves a weakening of poleward transport of warm water from the tropics. This probably means less ocean circulation and mixing energy which in turn could result in temporary higher SSTs simply due to reduced mixing. Enough to get the warmists excited but actually due to cooling, not warming. They months / years ahead will shed more light on this.

  15. Quite possibly. If a Kelvin wave is not followed by an El Nino it is because strong trade winds have hijacked the rising warm air that would join the westerlies and create an El Nino back down to the surface, there to join the trades and warm the ocean. This seems to be a twenty-first century phenomenon and is responsible for lack of El Ninos during the first seven years of our century. Looks like it has returned after allowing the 2010 El Nino to be born. Those waiting for an El Nino to save them from the Hiatus are just out of luck.

  16. Bob: Thanks for another informative post. My question would relate to the persistent high pressure ridge over the extra-tropical NP. The persistent would result in prolonged cloudless skies at the season for high sun in the NH. Would this account for some the warming observed? If so it would negate some of the prescribed warming to a necessary movement of normally tropical Kelvin waves. Comments?

  17. R2Dtoo: You’ve asked questions that I can’t answer with support from data…and as you know, that’s what I do. I suspect you might find your answers in the first three papers of the special report from the AMS. They were on the California drought, but the blob and the ridiculously resilient ridge are linked to it.

    If not, we’ll just have to wait for the papers or reports, probably toward the middle of next year, which typically arrive after the media hoopla about record this or that have faded away.


    • I find this analysis of your ENSO commentaries on the mark:
      [How many times are you going to try to promote that blog? Everyone here already knows about it. ~mod.]

      • Do you snip repetitive skeptic’s comments because ‘they all know about it?’

        [Reply: The snipped URL is a blog that has never had one good thing to say about Anthony, or WUWT. Not one. We should give someone like that free advertising? Readers here know the blog and can find it with no problem. Now you have something else to trot back and report. ~mod.]

    • Yo, wlb: If I know the blog you’re trying to promote, I’ve tried to comment there a couple of times. I was extra polite, because I knew that my comment could be deleted.

      Guess what? Every comment was censored out of existence.

      See the difference between skeptics and haters? Anthony allows your comments. You should regularly post your thanks for that.

  18. Here on the Gold Coast (Queensland) the sea temperature is several degrees cooler (<19 C) than is normal for this time of year. This is not appreciated by the beach goers but the offshore fishing is exceptionally good. the experts suggest it is due to long periods of northerly winds. It just goes to show "it is an ill wind that does no good."

    • That Queensland warm water is down the NSW coast and with easterly winds is causing massive outbreaks of storms across NSW.
      I’m declaring El Niño a dead duck. The Northern monsoon will kick in soon and watch out as we are at the 40th anniversary of the destruction of Darwin by cyclone Tracy.

  19. We do not understand what triggers ENSO events. We do not know where the energy driving them comes from, or whether or not we will even have one. We only have higher resolution data for the last several, and although we have definitions for what the events are, we also have had them lacking during periods they were cyclically expected.

    So that said if my understanding was indeed correct.. How do we know this energy, whatever its source cant manifest in other ways that dont fit our current definition of an ENSO event?

  20. Randy, of course your understanding is wrong. The sun is the source of energy that heats the water, which the trade winds push into the western warm pool. Eventually that pool releases some of the heated water back to the East due to gravity causing it to shift. The interaction between the winds and ocean currents is a bit more obscure. What causes the westerly wind bursts that reverse the action of the trades is not well understood but without it the coupled ENSO system doesn’t fire as was the case this year. Maybe soon a weak El Nino will be declared but still the winds are not cooperating.

  21. “If the manmade greenhouse gas-forced climate models used by the IPCC cannot explain the 24-year absence of warming of the surface in the North Pacific, it can’t be claimed that the weather-related warming there in 2013 and 2014 were caused by manmade greenhouse gases.”

    I bet it can and will be.

  22. And still after a couple of hundred years of people watching and learning, the Earth and our Solar system hold their secrets close.
    So much still to learn and yet we have a supposed 97 % consensus that human produced CO2 is the culprit of an evidently non event in Global warming, increased weather events, sea level rise, lack of snow etc etc.
    Is it just me or do others think that Nature has a whole lot more to teach us yet before we even get a good grasp of whats up with the Climate ?

  23. “Fall snow cover in Northern Hemisphere was most extensive on record, even with temperatures at high mark”

    Antarctic ice was also the most extensive on record, Arctic ice extent rebounded to near average, Niagara falls froze twice, Great Lakes ice reached 2nd highest extent on record, followed by the latest melt on record, followed by the earliest formation on record.
    I don’t believe temperatures are anywhere near the high mark. It doesn’t compute.

    • It’s due to polar amplification — warming of the Arctic at a higher rate than the equator is leading to increased waviness of the Jet Stream and more extremes in the northern hemisphere, including more snowfall.

      • Yes, and when the “waviness” of the jet stream turns into curlicues, the ice age will return and the sea level will fall and the warming will stop and everything will be fine except that we’ll all be killed.

        See how much bigger my puddle is?
        That means I’m right, right?

      • Barry,
        It’s not “polar amplification” (a stupid phrase). It’s called MERIDIONAL CIRCULATION PATTERN, and it has always been associated with DECLINING TEMPERATURES.

        Let me show you:

        1) Meridional (C) circulation dominated in 1890-1920 and 1950-1980.
        2) It was found that “zonal” epochs correspond to the periods of global warming and the meridional ones correspond to the periods of global cooling. (Lamb 1972; Lambeck 1980).

        The high priests of your fanatical doomsday cult are now trying desperately to socially construct a new climate system in which the MERIDIONAL COOLING PATTERN can be attributed to GLOBAL WARMING.

        Bu cooking the books won’t actually cook the planet, or reverse the current cooling trend that is so evident in real world.

  24. I find this analysis of Tisdale’s remarks on ENSO on the mark:

    [URL snipped. Why not comment there instead of here? That blog is more your speed. ~mod.]

  25. Like all gravity waves, equatorial Kelvin waves put parcels of fluid into orbital motion, which does NOT transport mass over great distances. They merely introduce pulsations in the speed of currents, which do the actual mass transport. Their coherent, irrotational motion, either in the “upwelling” or “downwelling” phase, CANNOT bring subsurface waters to the surface. While they are of considerable theoretical interest in dynamical oceanography, they simply can’t exert the influence upon surface temperatures attributed to them here. Nor can the ocean sequester warmer-than-surface waters in its depths. The actual oceanograpic picture, which is all too often is painted impressionably by “climate scientists,” is considerably different.

  26. At first glance, the look at the global SST graph suggests the pause was nothing more than an illusion among an upward trend (noting that it closely matches other times where there’s a flat period followed by upward movement).

    In this case, there’s a chance the pause will end and temperatures will climb higher, still at a much lower rate than what the models believe though. Perhaps it’s even time to put to rest the idea that CO2 has no effect at all, but that it will be of a net benefit to the world (plants will thrive in a warmer planet because not only would photosynthesis rates climb higher, but so will the required temperatures for maximum growth).

  27. How strange. If the oceans really warmed in 2014, then guess where the type of heat that is required to warm the oceans could only really have come from?

    Yep. The sun, which heats the upper 50 meters of ocean.

    But hey, the global warming alarmists say the sun has virtually no influence on climate change, which is why the IPCC only concentrates on anthropogenic warming.

    Has anyone seen carbon dioxide heat up anything?

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