Quicky Early July 2015 ENSO Update: NINO3 (not NINO3.4) Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies Reached 2.0 Deg C Last Week

Guest Post by Bob Tisdale


NOAA’s weekly sea surface temperature anomalies for the NINO regions (based on Reynolds OI.v2 data) are furnished on Mondays. This week’s update for the week centered on July 1, 2015 shows the surface temperature anomalies have reached 2.0 deg C in the NINO3 region of the eastern equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 150W-90W). NINO3 sea surface temperature anomalies are used in the JMA’s El Niño outlooks.

On the other hand, the weekly sea surface temperature anomalies of the NINO3.4 region (5S-5N, 170W-1250W), which NOAA uses to define an El Niño and its strength in its Oceanic NINO Index, is still at 1.4 deg C, which is below the 1.5 deg C threshold of a strong El Niño. But it’s early in the development of an “average” El Niño, which typically peaks in December.

The weekly sea surface temperature anomalies for the easternmost NINO1+2 have recently exceeded the values reached during the 1991/92 El Niño, but they are lagging behind the weekly values for the 1997/98 El Niño. And at the westernmost NINO4 region, surface temperatures are slowly dropping, seeming to be the response as more warm water is pushed eastward.

And there was another westerly wind burst at the end of June/early July, which, even though it wasn’t very strong, should help to strengthen the El Niño in coming months.


The weekly NINO region sea surface temperature anomaly data for Figures 1 and 2 are from the NOAA/CPC Monthly Atmospheric & SST Indices webpage, specifically the data here. The base years for anomalies for the NOAA/CPC data are referenced to 1981-2010.

Figure 1 includes the weekly sea surface temperature anomalies of the 4 most-often-used NINO regions of the equatorial Pacific. From west to east they include:

  • NINO4 (5S-5N, 160E-150W)
  • NINO3.4 (5S-5N, 170W-120W)
  • NINO3 (5S-5N, 150W-90W)
  • NINO1+2 (10S-0, 90W-80W)

Figure 1

Figure 1

And for Figure 2, the evolutions of the sea surface temperature anomalies for the four NINO regions in 2015 are compared to 1997 as a reference for a very strong El Niño and compared to 2014 as a reference for a very weak El Niño. Keep in mind that 2015 started the year at or near El Niño conditions, where that was not the case in 1997 and 2014.

Figure 2

Figure 2


In the post ENSO Basics: Westerly Wind Bursts Initiate an El Niño, we discussed how westerly wind bursts prompt the downwelling Kelvin waves that appear early in the development of an El Niño. Later in the process of El Niño evolution, westerly winds bursts also help to push more warm surface water than normal eastward along the Pacific Equatorial Countercurrent. So they too help to strengthen an El Niño.

The most recent update (pentad centered on July 2)at the NOAA GODAS website includes the 12-month Hovmoller of wind stress (not anomalies) along the equator through July 2nd. See Figure 3. It shows yet another westerly wind burst in late June/early July. That westerly wind burst should be the response to the two tropical depressions that recently straddled the equator in the west-central tropical Pacific.

Figure 3

Figure 3

That’s all for now. I’ll try to provide the full update next week.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
M Courtney
July 7, 2015 5:48 am

This year is quite unlike the others on the chart because 2015 started the year at or near El Niño conditions.
To me, that means either:
A) The El Nino will be a doozy because we are starting to jump up from the 7th floor.
B) The El Nino is ongoing right now and just slow as the warm water spreads slowly – in which case there will be no big jump up.
I’m curious as to what happens towards Christmas. What do other people expect?

Joseph Murphy
Reply to  M Courtney
July 7, 2015 5:57 am

I was thinking along the same lines. It will be a very interesting El Niño to watch.

michael hart
Reply to  M Courtney
July 7, 2015 6:09 am

“What do other people expect?”
I’m expecting climate hysteria before December in Paris.

Reply to  michael hart
July 7, 2015 8:07 am

My thoughts, exactly, Michael Hart.

Richard M
Reply to  M Courtney
July 7, 2015 7:33 am

The PWP does not seem to be overly warm at the present. This likely means the normal El Nino process of warm water spilling back to the east will not be as strong. In addition, the subsurface anomalies are cool in this area. Once the trade winds increase this water will begin moving east and will undercut the warmer surface waters in the Nino zones which should enhance the next La Nina.
I think it all gets down to when the trade winds pick up.

Reply to  M Courtney
July 7, 2015 2:10 pm

Joe Bastardi and Joe D’Aleo at Weatherbell.com are a little surprised at not only the strength of the El Nino at this time but also by all the warm SST anomalies around Australia and in the Indian Ocean. This is not what they expected so I’m not sure they know what to expect. I think they think it will start to back down sooner rather than later. A super El Nino in a cold PDO cycle would be highly unusual.

Reply to  willybamboo
July 7, 2015 2:21 pm

A super El Nino in a cold PDO cycle would be highly unusual.

I wonder if this is going to be a massive discharge of the last bit of built thermal energy that has collected, and that temps will start to drop afterwards.
I have no evidence, just a gut feel, and we’ll know fairly soon.

Pamela Gray
Reply to  willybamboo
July 7, 2015 6:46 pm

This is why I think we are running out of juice. Consider the decreasing strength of the La Nina’s and the decreasing strength of the El Nino’s http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/enso/mei/ . If indeed ENSO processes are a discharge/recharge system http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/docs/ENSO_Revision.pdf that has both a noisy annual to less than decadal, and a decadal oscillation, it is, well…
anybody’s guess….and this anybody guesses that we are slowly, jerkingly, stepping down and heading towards a series of recharging La Nina’s. We still have a couple year’s of warm weather to stock up on fuel, food, and blankets. So while the Sun shines forth and El Nino’s give us warm weather, check your roof for snow stability, caulk your windows and doors, and lay in extra insulation.

Joe Bastardi
Reply to  willybamboo
July 7, 2015 8:00 pm

That is not what I said. What I said was diagnostic, not prognostic. The diagnosis was that this was very different from the 97 enso event and NOT WHAT IS EXPECTED for the super nino, as warm water around Australia means lower pressure and you can see that in the SOI, which has not fallen nearly as low as what seen in 1997 at this time! As far as a prognostic statement, we have said all along that this will go to the levels of 57-58 and 65-66, but the super nino as others have opined is certainly in the mix, and would mean I am underdone. If you want to label me as surprised it is because of the OBSERVATION, and pointing out this has not happened before. I made no forecast for waters around Australia, but have commented numerous times on the observation I am making. We do believe ENSO 3.4 will be warmer than 1.2 in the winter, a crucial forecast tool for US winters. . As a side note, the SOI has not even challenged 97-98, which would cast some doubt on the how strong the linkage is and the actually affect in the atmosphere so far. The most mind boggling event is the record phase 6/7 amplitude of the MJO, which is something I can not find in any record Cheers

Joe Bastardi
Reply to  willybamboo
July 7, 2015 8:10 pm

Hi Will
Let me further illustrate my point with these 2 links. The SOI this year
vs 1997
I believe the cold water Around Australia in 1997 promote higher pressures early an lead to a quicker deeper SOI, which I think shows what is going on in the atmosphere in tropical Pacific, which has a huge effect on input into the westerlies further north with time. As you can see 1997 was well ahead already

Reply to  willybamboo
July 8, 2015 12:41 pm

Warm SSTs in the Indian Ocean usually work against a Strong or Super El Nino. Compare the Indian Ocean SSTs in 1997 (fairly cool anomaly) with this year’s (warm). Also there is a very high amplitude MJO currently crossing the West Pac. The MJO often causes Westerly Wind Bursts (WWBs) or Kelvin Waves similar to ENSO. The current MJO could be giving this El Nino a bit of a push. But, once it exits the West Pac, this El Nino might also lose some of its punch due to relatively warm temps in the Indian ocean. We shall see. Very interesting situation.

Bill H
Reply to  M Courtney
July 7, 2015 7:25 pm

I expect heavy wet snow in the Rockies and very bitter cold in the mid west. Going to be s big water content year in the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada ranges. it all depends on the Polar jet and its southward intrusions.

charles nelson
July 7, 2015 5:53 am

But what does it all mean Basil?

Reply to  charles nelson
July 7, 2015 8:56 am

A little more salt and pepper in tyme for Parisian hot pots. Main ingredient: Pressed Turkey. Be good and ready to CET down (or jet off to the south), winter is coming up next. The mean is chaos, the standard deviation is another matter entirely however.

July 7, 2015 6:03 am

Random reminder dept, inspired by Bob’s list of data sources. The ENSO meter on the right side navigation bar uses data from http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/nino_3.4.txt . It’s close to NOAA’s data, http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/data/indices/wksst8110.for , which I’ve used, but that occasionally breaks. My system tries to update things on Monday at 1100UTC, and tries several more times over the next couple of days if the web page hasn’t been updated.

Ron Clutz
July 7, 2015 6:26 am

How ironic that fossil fuel activists are hoping and praying for this El Nino ahead of Paris COP, when ocean circulations have nothing to do with CO2.

July 7, 2015 6:29 am

Here in the East of France , we had our El Nino already: it crossed the Mediterranean sea and not the Pacific; but we are waiting for a second one in december coming from all over the world

July 7, 2015 7:11 am

Can California expect to get any moisture out of this El Nino?

Reply to  noaaprogrammer
July 7, 2015 7:15 am

I think they have had some unseasonable rains in past few months.
If last time is any clue, they will have a real soaker of a wet season, starting earlier than usual in the fall.

July 7, 2015 7:13 am

New paper is out today in Science, from NOAA.
They have completely erased any hint of pause.

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
July 7, 2015 7:41 am

You are correct. My mistake.
It is the Karl paper of June 4th.
My brain saw 4th and thought it was a new article.
Guess skipping coffee for the summer may not be such a great idea after all.

July 7, 2015 7:32 am

This seems like the el Nino that never wants to materialize. How well do oceanographers really understand el Nino as far as predicting climate in California?

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
July 7, 2015 7:45 am

Thanks. Then I guess my question would be at what time frame could California see significant rainfall? I believe this question was already asked though. Does el Nino always mean a high precipitation pattern in California? Excuse me for my lack of knowledge.

Ernest Bush
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
July 7, 2015 8:19 am

– We have already seen an increase in rain from Tucson to the Cleveland National Forrest east of San Diego. Usually there is no late spring/summer rain in Yuma, AZ, until August. The desert here is looking healthy green, and on the way to San Diego last Wednesday I was struck at how beautiful and green it was once we began to climb off the desert floor to cross the mountains on the way to the coast.
Strangely, the rain seems to be coming from the east and south and doesn’t seem to make it past the mountains east of San Diego. It was cool to us in San Diego, but very dry and sunny.

Reply to  Charlie
July 7, 2015 3:56 pm

It’s been raining everyday here in the Eastern Sierra. Flash floods and hail, but not winter type drought breaking quantities.

July 7, 2015 7:50 am

For historical purposes, periods of below and above normal SSTs are colored in blue and red when the threshold is met for a minimum of 5 consecutive overlapping seasons. The ONI is one measure of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, and other indices can confirm whether features consistent with a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon accompanied these periods.

Bruce Cobb
July 7, 2015 8:06 am

Whatever the El Nino does, it will be blamed on “climate change”.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
July 7, 2015 8:08 am

It will be announced before December of this year – “The Missing Heat Has Been Found!” – mark my words.

July 7, 2015 8:12 am

How about positive-neutral in Dec-Jan? Plus 0.5C

July 7, 2015 8:22 am

It looks like the easfward stream joined the ‘Red Blob’:

July 7, 2015 8:35 am

More charts …
1. Troup’s SOI
2. Indices Comparison (2650 x 2580px, 639KB) OLR added.
Click on image in browser to expand and scroll as necessary.

Mike from the Carson Valley on the cold side of the Sierra
July 7, 2015 8:46 am

Here on the back side of the Northern Sierra we have been experiencing a lot of unusual rainy weather. Quite uncharacteristic for this part of the desert at this time of the year. The first couple of weeks of June we spent in Hawaii and also experienced unusual wet and rainy weather on the dry side of the Big Island. My guess is that all of this warm rainy weather both in Hawaii and in Nevada was El Nino related. I look forward to many more months of El Nino driven weather as a consequence.
Not sure what is happening on the Western slope but I think it is dryer over there.

James at 48

You folks are getting hammered today (again). Not much of a dry season this year in the Sierra. I know every year you get a lot more of the SW Monsoon than we get out here at the coast. But this year you are getting a strong SW Monsoon, plus, all the cut off lows coming in from the NW (another one today) are also giving precip. What’s excellent about this is the ground will be a lot more moist once fall hits, and the first freeze. That will give a wonderful substrate for sticking snow.

July 7, 2015 11:21 am

Bob, is this as cold as it looks?comment image?w=720

Reply to  micro6500
July 7, 2015 12:52 pm

Ah, never mind 🙂

July 7, 2015 11:35 am

What is the meaning of the color code in the zonal wind stress graph: eastward blowing minus westward blowing?

July 7, 2015 11:57 am
Reply to  ren
July 7, 2015 5:58 pm

Nice one ren. OLR down, convection up, latent heat bypass on song. Sod the tropospheric CO2, straight to the cooling variety.
Roughly here at the surface today. More on the way it seems …
Modelled 4 days out. D and T pressures at about parity and southern high rebuilding.
No lows coming around to upset the apple cart for a while by the looks of it but place your bets.

Reply to  ren
July 7, 2015 6:01 pm

Dang, left the first URL blank … here ya go.

Reply to  ren
July 7, 2015 6:09 pm

It sure looks pretty anthropogenic over Europe to me:

Pamela Gray
Reply to  philincalifornia
July 7, 2015 6:56 pm

Now that made me laugh out loud!!!

July 7, 2015 1:21 pm

This chart shows well the current situation in the Pacific.

Reply to  ren
July 7, 2015 11:57 pm

This graph shows that the surface temperature of the oceans at the equator is not high.

Reply to  ren
July 8, 2015 9:59 am

This graph shows that the surface temperature of the oceans at the equator is not high.

If the oceans are a charge(heat)/pump oscillator, and it’s part of the longer term ocean cycles, I would expect at transition it pumps the last of the warm water poleward to cool, and once it’s cooled the oceans down, it changes state.
I don’t think anyone’s ever seen this before, though there might be bits of it in SST’s from the end of the last cycle, but if that is what’s happening, we’ll be the first to watch it happen.

July 7, 2015 4:07 pm

Thanks, Bob. This El Niño is close to breaking the “pause” in global temperatures, this must be the reason for so much attention on it.
But, if something as natural and CO2-independent is recognized to have a global effect, then the “anthropogenic” side of the debate receives another blow. How long before it’s out?

July 7, 2015 6:18 pm

I just saw a report on the KSBW news that “The Blob” has returned and is even a little warmer than before. We’ll see how that interacts with El Niño.

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
July 8, 2015 4:48 am

Bob Tisdale

Chuck: The Blob never went away, and yes, it’s a warmer than last year. Here’s a time-series graph of The Blob SSTa …
And here’s a graph that shows the yearly evolutions of The Blob sea surface temperature anomalies for the past few years, with 2012 as the “pre-Blob” reference:

Thus, if the North Pacific Hot Spot continues into the fall, should we expect a continued low sea ice this winter north of Japan in the Sea of Oshkosh? That region was the only Arctic region this winter that remained consistently below average.

Jimmy Haigh
July 7, 2015 8:11 pm

Snow is forecast for the Scottish hills today.

July 8, 2015 4:19 am
James at 48
July 8, 2015 4:44 pm

I’d gladly take a ’91-’92. Dumped like heck in the Sierra that year.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights