Has the PDO flipped?

Guest post by David Middleton

Spurt

Cyclical changes in the Pacific Ocean have thrown earth’s surface into what may be an unprecedented warming spurt, following a global warming slowdown that lasted about 15 years.

While El Niño is being blamed for an outbreak of floods, storms and unseasonable temperatures across the planet, a much slower-moving cycle of the Pacific Ocean has also been playing a role in record-breaking warmth. The recent effects of both ocean cycles are being amplified by climate change.

A 2014 flip was detected in the sluggish and elusive ocean cycle known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO, which also goes by other names, including the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation. Despite uncertainty about the fundamental nature of the PDO, leading scientists link its 2014 phase change to a rapid rise in global surface temperatures.

The effects of the PDO on global warming can be likened to a staircase, with warming leveling off for periods, typically of more than a decade, and then bursting upward.

“It seems to me quite likely that we have taken the next step up to a new level,” said Kevin Trenberth, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The 2014 flip from the cool PDO phase to the warm phase, which vaguely resembles a long and drawn out El Niño event, contributed to record-breaking surface temperatures across the planet in 2014.

 

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LINK

 

Cyclical changes in the Pacific Ocean have thrown earth’s surface into what may be an unprecedented warming spurt, following a global warming slowdown that lasted about 15 years.

“Unprecedented warming spurt”… When? Where?

UAH and RSS Lower Troposphere global temperature anomalies (°C) since 1997 (Wood for Trees)

A 2014 flip was detected in the sluggish and elusive ocean cycle known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO

Firstly, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation doesn’t drive anything; so it could not be “playing a role in record-breaking warmth.”  The PDO, particularly its long-term behavior is a response to, not a cause of warming and cooling cycles (quasi-periodic fluctuations).  The late 20th century warming phase was coincident with PDO phase reversals.  It flipped from negative to positive in 1976-77 and then flipped back to negative in 1997-98. Is there any indication that it has flipped from its cool to its warm phase as it did in “The 1976-77 Climate Shift of the Pacific Ocean“?  My short answer is, “No.”

 

PDO2

PDO (University of Washington JISAO) and HadCRUT4 (Hadley Centre). The current upswing in the PDO is more analogous to the mid-cycle 1957-58 El Niño than it is to the 1976-77 Climate Shift of the Pacific Ocean

 

The long term signal of the PDO as indicated by the 10 year mean and band pass filter is clearly still cool.  Large swings of short duration are not uncommon.  The current upswing is very similar to the strong El Niño of 1957-58, which occurred in the middle of a PDO cool phase.  While it is possible that the PDO has begun to flip, it will be several years before we will know if this is a genuine phase shift or just strong El Niño

 

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Joel Snider

I’m paraphrasing, but wasn’t one of the most famous Climategate quotes: What if Global Warming turns out to be just the Pacific Decadal Oscillation? They’ll kill us probably.”

Richard Keen

Joel, that’s a good one – up there with “get rid of the MWP” and “Hide the decline” and “Travesty”. Do you have a link for that so I can add it to my collection?
thanks!

Joel Snider

Here’s the actual quote – I was a little bit off, working from memory – http://climategate.nl/quotes/
‘What if climate change appears to be just mainly a multidecadal natural fluctuation? They’ll kill us probably …’
– Tommy Wills, Swansea University, Mail naar mailing list tree-ring data forum ITRDB, 28 Mar 2007 (email 1682)

Whenever we see the word “unprecedented” we know a load of nonsense will be forthcoming. and then we see the dreaded name Trenberth, and stop reading altogether.

bit chilly

yes joel, we probably will 🙂

“Firstly, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation doesn’t drive anything; so it could not be “playing a role in record-breaking warmth.”
I find that to be very wrong. All my findings that the PDO has connections to can be found under the twitter hash tag #wxPO
https://twitter.com/search?q=%23wxpdo&src=typd
BTW I find solar cycles are the main driver of the PDO also

#wxPDO

TRM

So the release of heat from the ocean isn’t driving warming but is just a symptom. Whatever is charging the ocean (most likely solar + lack of clouds) is the underlying cause. I hope I got that correct. Interesting charts you have there Chris. Thanks.
As to if the PDO has flipped I’ll wait to hear from Dr Easterbrook and some others. I’m not taking KT’s word on it. From the graphs above it doesn’t look like we are back to the positive phase. It looks more like a slightly larger bump than we had in 1960 but we stayed negative until 1977. Those of us old enough to remember the 70s can attest to it being much colder.

xyzzy11

I still like Richard Lindzen’s statement about the PDO – it’s not decadel and it’s not an oscillation 😉

Any time line of less the 180 years just demonstrates cycles in weather. The PDO is seen in weather cycles of localized conditions. Oceanic circulations are somewhat random so always some randomness should be expected…pg

DD More

Wyatt and Curry identified two key ingredients to the propagation and maintenance of this stadium wave signal: and found that the stadium wave signal has existed for at least 300 years.
Hard to put a leading / lagging driver on a spinning wheel.comment image

Thanks, David Middleton. An interesting article. A PDO has not happened yet.
According to the KNMI Monthly PDO Time series (Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut)
http://climexp.knmi.nl/getindices.cgi?WMO=UWData/pdo&STATION=PDO&TYPE=i&id=someone@somewhere

I meant to write “A PDO flip has not happened yet.”

jorgekafkazar

Clear in context, Andres..

if you skip the last 10 years that is.

Chris Hanley
Chris Hanley

What the article shows is the GISSTemp “meteorological stations” temperature graph, not the Global Land-Ocean graph.

The ‘pause’ is our greatest weapon. I sure home the PDO does not bring a warming spike.

Dawtgtomis

How does the AMO presently flipping to cold interplay in PDO reversal or the next La Nina?

rbabcock

First Bob Tisdale tells us El Niño has peaked and now this .. oh my.

Don Easterbrook

The last couple of years have been warm, but that does not mean that the PDO has flipped–each cool PDO cycle has multiple warm El Nino spikes and each warm period has cool La Nina spikes. But LaNinas dominate during cool PDOs. A few warm years in the present cool PDO cycle isn’t significant.

CC Reader

Don,
Your article in 2008 indicated that you predicted a 30 year cooling of the PDO. Does this prediction still stand?
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/07/20/shifting-of-the-pacific-decadal-oscillation-from-its-warm-mode-to-cool-mode-assures-global-cooling-for-the-next-three-decades/

Don Easterbrook

Yes. I made this prediction in 2000, based on a continuing pattern of PDO 60-year cycles (~30 yrs warm, ~30 yrs cool). In 1977, the PDO flipped from cool (where it had been from ~1945 to 1977), to warm in a single year, and we had global warming from 1978 to 1998. In 1999, when the PDO flipped back to cool, I projected the long-term PDO pattern into the future and predicted ~25-30 years of global cooling. The global climate has followed the PDO for the past century and glaciers have advanced and retreated accordingly. But the pattern apparently goes back even farther (500 years)–I plotted the oxygen isotope ratios back to 1480 AD using the accelerator data of Stuiver and Grootes and found 40 such oscillations, averaging 27 years long.
So far, my prediction seems to be holding. The climate has cooled slightly over the past decade and we have had no warming for 18 years. Time will tell if the cycle continues for another couple of decades. All indications are that it will. We’re just entering a Grand Solar Minimum, which, in the past, has correlated very well with climate.

Pamela Gray

Fish, elk, deer, and other oceanic and land based flora and fauna cannot lie about the PDO and weather pattern variations connected to oceanic/atmospheric teleconnections. Unlike several climacatastrophy scientists.

Don Easterbrook

The AMO generally lags the PDO by several years. The AMO has been turning cooler the past few years so we can expect some additional climatic cooling.

Steve Oregon

…….”Cyclical changes in the Pacific Ocean have thrown earth’s surface into what may be an unprecedented warming spurt, following a global warming slowdown that lasted about 15 years.”
“Unprecedented warming spurt”… When? Where?”…………..
The key to when and where is the “what may be” part.
When using an expression so obtuse as “have thrown” when talking about a scientific matter like this the “what may be” means we haven’t the slightest idea what is or what will be.

“Despite uncertainty about the fundamental nature of the PDO”
They just as well blame CAGW on Dark Energy.

Trenberth is betting his house on:
i) The current El Nino causing a warm spike over coming months
AND
ii) That warm spike then being maintained as a new upward step change in global air temperatures.
The more likely outcome given the wavy jets and increased global cloudiness is:
i) The current El Nino not making as much of a warm spike as did the 1997/8 El Nino
AND
ii) The next La Nina starting a new downward step change in temperatures from the current ‘pause’.
Place your bets 🙂

Using satellite observations, that is, as regards any comparison between the 1997/8 El Nino and the current El Nino.
Trenberth et al are already using a newly fudged combination of heat island distorted surface measurements plus SSTs at the peak of a large El Nino to announce that 2014 is already warmer than 1998.
I regard that as desperation driving dishonesty and unworthy of an experienced scientist.

RWturner

I bet he will be correct in i) but you will be correct in ii).
He can be correct with i) without RSS or UAH showing it to be the warmest evah.
Diminished solar activity, the PDO staying negative, the AMO flipping negative, and possibly a La Nina inversely as strong or stronger than the current El Nino, all signs point to cooling in the years ahead.

bit chilly

despite the relative size difference between the atlantic and the pacific in the northern hemisphere, the amo going cool will be the game changer in the next decade . i was just a kid ,but can still remember the winters we had in the uk in the 70’s and early 80’s at the end of the last cool phase.

joelobryan

the coming La Nina will also coincide with a declining Solar cycle 24 and much quieter magnetic indices than the 1999-2001 step up, with SC23 max, that kept the 97-98 El Nino semi-fixed.

thingadonta

“It seems to me quite likely that we have taken the next step up to a new level,” said Kevin Trenberth, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Trenberth now looking for that ‘missing heat’ in the near surface of the ocean, rather than the deeps, after all it just HAS to be there.
“Quite likely”. No comment needed.
“Cyclical changes in the Pacific Ocean have thrown earth’s surface into what may be an unprecedented warming spurt, ”
What are these guys on?
“May be”. The usual get out of jail, “there ‘may be’ a flying spagetti monster” is still scientifically valid, if extremely unlikely.
And how can it be ‘unprecedented’ if we have been having ‘unprecedented’ already for the last 50 years or so? When does something start not becoming ‘unprecedented’ after it has already occurred many times before?
Usual propaganda from the desperate and out of touch.

RWturner

Unprecedented would be warming that actually matches the global climate models. I give that less chance than me winning yesterday’s Powerball.

The usual stuff. DM quotes
“Cyclical changes in the Pacific Ocean have thrown earth’s surface into what may be an unprecedented warming spurt”
and responds
“Unprecedented warming spurt”… When? Where?
with a plot of troposphere indices.
The answer to his question is, earth’s surface. Just as the man said.

Lance Wallace

NIck–
But does not the theory say that the troposphere (at least in the tropics) should show even more warming than the surface?

Well, what does the theory say? Links?
You do say, at least in the tropics. So how does that relate to the global average? But more to the point, how does it relate to the average that RSS and UAH calculate, which is a weighted mean of various levels, even including some stratosphere.
And even if you can find a theory which says just that, it doesn’t justify quoting sat indices in place of surface.

willnitschke

What Stokes is arguing is that if we have a measurement that takes a large sample of the atmosphere across many levels, this may tell us less about global temperature, not more. If this doesn’t make any sense to you, don’t worry, it makes no sense to him either. He just likes to ramble nonsense.

” how does it relate to the average that RSS and UAH calculate, which is a weighted mean of various levels, even including some stratosphere.”
C’mon. Not much stratosphere.comment image

aaron

O’ come on Nick, you know the models were made to emulate the satellite data and the stratosphere overlap is trivial (thought it’d be nice to sort out).
Surface records and satellite data all have their uses and will hopefully give us insights to eventually create useful models.
What do you think all that kriging is about. It’s about making the sparse surface record more comparable to the more comprehensive model and satellite data.

thingadonta

Yes, but note the statement says cyclical changes “have thrown”, with no qualifier, meaning it has already occurred, and then adds “what may be”, which is a qualifier. This is grammatically dubious, (bordering on incorrect), and scientifically unjustified. It is assuming the result and then adding a qualifier.

Jimmy Haigh

What do we want?
“Global Warming”!
When do we want it?…

Marcus

Two weeks ago..I’m tired of freezing my @ss off in the Great White North !!

Latitude

Nick, which one of these spikes is the “unprecedented” one….comment image

Latitude

So to show current global surface warming, you give us a land plot finishing 7 years ago, and an ice core plot finishing 160 years ago.

Pamela Gray

And you seem to like buckets with a thermometer. Way better.

Maybe someone here knows how global warming and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, caused the big increase in Antarctic ice shhet. At least that is the reason given to me by another group of scientists about to head off to the Antarctic Peninsular to look for signs of dinosaurs.
http://pindanpost.com/2016/01/14/unmentionable-cooling-for-dinosaur-expedition/
” Steve Salisbury: The increase in sea ice around Antarctica is most likely a direct consequence of the warming Tom Harley. Tightening of the Circum Antarctic currents in the Southern Ocean due to warmer termperate waters in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans amplify the colder sea surface temps close Anarctica (similar to a positive phase of the Southern Annual Mode), combined with melting of continental and glacial ice that then feeds into the cooler surface waters… thereby increase the amount of sea ice. We’ve been monitoring this situation closely for the last five years.”

Fat, lazy, fingers, meant to be ice “sheet”.

Not fat, lazy fingers, Tom. A fast brain and fingers racing to keep up.

Christopher Paino

So it’s the warming Tom Harley that’s causin’ all the trouble! Somebody cool that man down!

He will bve cooling down there already. A few months ago he was all heated up in Broome.

Yep Chris I guess dinosaur scientists are still struggling with commas and termperate waters! A very ‘circular’ argument there. I am none the wiser.

“Cyclical changes in the Pacific Ocean have thrown earth’s surface into what may be an unprecedented warming spurt, following a global warming slowdown that lasted about 15 years.”
Statements like this are sent out to hearten the resolve of those Warmistas who are wavering and thinking of becoming Apostates to the evil Denier-Camp.
“It seems to me quite likely that we have taken the next step up to a new level,” Translates as, ‘Hang in there true believers, we are on the verge of great new Alarms.’
Richard Lindzen’s statement that the PDO is “not decadel and it’s not an oscillation”. is still a Classic. At least it is still in the Pacific.

Dave in Canmore

” Despite uncertainty about the fundamental nature of the PDO, leading scientists link its 2014 phase change to a rapid rise in global surface temperatures.”
translation: leading scientists link temperature rise with temperature rise.
Who writes these press releases, that Captain Obvious guy from those commercials?
And isn’t Trenberth finally inadvertently admitting that surface temps are being dominated by ocean circulation rather than CO2? WUWT?

Lewis P Buckingham

Wasn’t it ‘Captain Risky’.
It must be a leap of faith to work out that when the El Nino is hot then the PDO will be hot and that in both cases the temperature of the Pacific will rise as will global temperature because the Pacific is a big part of the globe.
He may, though. be alluding to a ‘phase change’, where the global temperature goes up a step by his predictions.
The risk for him is that we may be entering a cooling phase as pointed out above.

Richard M

If you plot out global temperature using a 64 year PDO cycle they look like this …
http://woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1850/to/mean:10/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1880/to:1912/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1912/to:1944/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1944/to:1976/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1976/to:2008/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1850/to:1880/trend
Now, that does look quite reasonable. There’s a very nice correlation to the global temperature trend and it could be something that provides a warming and cooling influence. Given this view the PDO didn’t go negative until 2008. That means it’s just starting its 32 year cool phase and has another 25 years to go.
Of course, this is just an exercise but it shows just how easily one can come up with any conclusion they want with a little motivation. Until we actually have a reasonable hypothesis for what drives the PDO then we can all play match the wiggles as much as want.

Leo Smith

“It seems to me quite likely”
All together now, including you Mandy Rice-Davis
“Well he would say that, wouldn’t he?”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandy_Rice-Davies

Ed

Ho hum. Once again Ian Wilson was far ahead of the pack on this;
http://astroclimateconnection.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/will-pdo-turn-positive-in-next-few-years.html

Ian Wilson

A post for those who want to think outside the box:
IS THIS A PLANETARY SIGNATURE IN OUR CLIMATE SYSTEM?
http://astroclimateconnection.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/is-this-planetary-signature-in-our.html
Will the PDO Turn Positive in the Next Few Years?
Please remove the quotes:
“http://astroclimateconnection.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/will-pdo-turn-positive-in-next-few-years.html”

Thank you for posting a link to my work Ed. I am so used to people ignoring my predictions that I literally did not see the link to my work right above my own post.

Ed

Ian, some of us are watching your work. Your track record on predictions and explanations of natural cycles is good. In time your achievements will be widely recognized. Keep up the good work!

KLohrn

To me, the article resembles a request for a grant/loan extension of 15 years from some college student who is experimenting in bedroom singularities.

dp

Keeping the dream alive one hysterical claim at a time. These guys generate more noise than Seattle’s 12th Man (Seattle Seahawks Football Fans for the newly arrived women and orphans – notoriously and strategically noisey).

joel

Get a grip people. A researcher (going for his PhD?) investigating the cause of variation in salmon harvests discovered the PDO in 1996. He was not a climate researcher. He was a fish expert.
Since his work, the “climatologists” have been spinning theories to account for this pattern. Without much success. Just computer boys crunching numbers. Makes you wonder what else might be discovered with less money spent on computer models and more time spent researching real world problems, like fish harvests.

Regarding “Firstly, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation doesn’t drive anything”:
Dr. Roy Spencer, a skeptic of AGW being great, seems to say that PDO (not ruling out something else natural that PDO correlates well with) is a major driver of global temperature, and explains much of the warming during times the world warmed rapidly, and lack of warming when the world did not warm rapidly.
I think the issue is whether or not PDO is making a transition from a cooling phase to a warming phase. The various oscillations are noisy, and some of them may be resonances responding to other things as opposed to being fully self-sustaining oscillations. One question is whether a recent uptick of some PDO index is some sort of short term noise to be followed by PDO returning to favoring lack of warming for another decade or more, or if PDO is flipping towards warming-favoring for real.
Another question is how to define the PDO – I think it is poorly defined. I have heard of it having two components with different periods – and I see this as one of a few signs that PDO is not yet either fully defined or understood.
One thing that comes to my mind is that The Blob seems to have contributed to a high value of PDO indices. The Blob seems to me as one of the many random multi-year weather events that happen all the time.

James at 48

PDO killed the ENSO spike.

Rob

The year to year PNA has been mostly positive for several winters. But as stated, it would be entirely premature to say anything about a “decadal” oscillation.

joelobryan

CO 2 AGW theory is dead. D. E. A. D. dead.
We ‘re all just waiting around now for the political regime change to occur. Woe be to those still-believer scientists who refuse to accept the obvious when the political winds change.

I am confused about El Ninos. They were defined since the mid 1400’s by the Spanish Fleet as warming of the Pacific linked to West Coast rain. So if we study basin discharge of Southern California, say Hansen Dam records that go back to 1933, we can see episodes of high discharge culturally called El Ninos all that time. Yet, only 1998 was linked to global warming in the record. Nothing in 1969, in 1983, or 2004. Massive flooding here is Socal, and no global warming. Why is it that a singular event of 1998 is used to define a link of El Nino’s to global warming since there are no other correlations, if we use basin discharge data? Are El Ninos now not supposed to be linked to rainfall? Anything anyone comes up with year to year? ENSO’s are now El Nino’s? I thought ENSOs were models. It also appears that El Ninos are now being redefined by other means that are ambiguous and subject to debate. Basin discharge is discharge but the ocean is big and the numbers are unclear. For basin discharge and its impact on the inhabitants here, no El Nino since 1933 is linked to warming, and up to 1969 event, the discharge amounts were a third of present El Ninos. Any ideas? If someone says “1998 warmed because of the El Nino, it was sooooo big”, okay, show me another El Nino where this occurred. Some say, oh lookit, 2010 was an El Nino year and the temp went up. Oh really? There was no rain here. Furthermore, there is no positive ENSO to El Nino correlation at all, if you base El Ninos on basin discharge data. Are extremely wet winters here with massive flooding supposed to be due to something else? If so, what else?

Dave in Canmore

Donald Kasper I suggest you go to Bob Tisdale’s fine blog and find one of his ENSO primers. You will find everything answered if you are willing to invest some time.

u.k(us)
herkimer

I think PDO has flipped. ( but from rising positive level to declining positive level).. The positive level has been dropping for 3 months in a row . As the impact of 2015/2016 El NINO diminishes , PDO will probably return to the negative mode later this year, in my opinion. The 1940-1980 cool cycle started with the PDO going negative in 1944 and stayed cool until PDO went positive again in 1976.
http://research.jisao.washington.edu/pdo/PDO.latest
The key to PDO is its pattern . A negative pattern which means more colder water in eastern side of the Pacific than in the western or central Pacific , seems to change the weather patterns over much of North America especially the west half).
The PDO has been shown previously to modulate winter precipitation in the US as well as summer drought and stream flow in the conterminous US (McCabe et al 2004)
I think during the next 1-2 decades , both PDO and AMO will again be negative like 1895-1915 and also 1965-1975 when Northern Hemisphere and especially North America had some very cold years

herkimer

Article by McCabe et al called” Pacific and Atlantic Ocean influences on multi-decadal drought frequency in United States”
http://www.pnas.org/content/101/12/4136.full.pdf

CO2isLife

The oceans contain 1,000x the energy of the atmosphere. CO2 does nothing to warm the ocean. You could transfer all the heat in the atmosphere to the ocean and it wouldn’t do diddly. Explain what warm the oceans and you explain the global temperatures.

Ryan G
4TimesAYear

There’s that word again…”unprecedented”…. Just 14 months ago we had some other “unprecedented” weather: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/11/18/analysis-coldest-november-morning-in-u-s-since-1976-all-50-states-freeze/
But that probably didn’t make it into their “anomaly” list.

kramer

In 1979, there was an article in newspapers titled something like “Prediction: Warming until 2009 then cooling…”. From my recollection of that article, they said that their proxy data suggested that there could be 30 to 50 years of cooling.
I believe that article because they based their assumption on a pattern that they saw from their proxies. I guess it remains to be seen if they are right or if the PDO did flip to a warm phase. My money is on the 1979 article….

” leading scientists link its 2014 phase change to a rapid rise in global surface temperatures.”
It should happen any time now as I haven’t seen parts of the yard that have been buried in snow since November. Despite several periods of warm weather. I predict about June or July.

I quote:
“A 2014 flip was detected in the sluggish and elusive ocean cycle known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO, which also goes by other names, including the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation. Despite uncertainty about the fundamental nature of the PDO, leading scientists link its 2014 phase change to a rapid rise in global surface temperatures.”
Why bother with such nebulous stuff that nobody understands?