How Much Of Global Temperature Increase Is Due To El Niño?

Guest opinion: Dr. Tim Ball

Bob Tisdale wrote an “April Fools” article about the extreme nature of the 1998 El Niño. It was clever and humorous, but also fulfills Shakespeare’s observation that,

“Jesters do oft prove prophets.”

It is widely accepted that global temperature rose in 1998, and the rise is attributed to El Niño. The problem is that the attribution cannot be confirmed. How much of the increase was due to El Niño? As I explained in another article, the forecasts for the 2015 El Niño failed because the mechanisms are not understood. Dr. William Kessler of NOAA provides a list of answers to questions about El Niño one of which asks, “What initiates El Niño?” Kessler’s answer,

It is necessary to state outright that we do not know why El Niño events begin. It’s not that the answer is obfuscated behind scientific jargon. It’s that we don’t know. Not only don’t we know, we’re not really that close to knowing.

Assuming that the peak in temperature in 1998 was caused by El Niño ignores all other changes in climate mechanisms, or, at least, assumes they remain constant. The issue is complicated by Kessler’s answer to the question, “Is the periodicity of El Niño events (every 2-7 years) the same as La Niñas?”

No! It is wrong to think of this as an oscillation, simply swinging back and forth. There can be several El Niños in a row, as we had in the early 1990s. Many scientists are coming to the view that there may not be such a thing as La Niña, or at least that it is not just the opposite of El Niño.

Whatever triggers El Nino is also triggering other changes in energy balance and the mechanisms of change. They are important and contributing to the total temperature change.

The public became aware of El Niño following the shift northward of the 1983 event, so it affected southern California. This took it out of what was assumed as its general area of impact along the western coast of South America and Central America as illustrated in Figure 1. The El Niño events became the latest fad in predictions as climate science became a political vehicle in environmental alarmism. For example, Environment Canada and other agencies made long-term forecasts based on El Niño and global warming, but they were wrong almost every time. As I explained to farmers in Canada, El Niño does not affect Canada. It only appears to because the weather patterns in Canada change at the same time but in completely different ways. The analogy I used was that it was like somebody studying a car and noting that every time the front bumper moved the back bumper moved. The “El Niño type” conclusion is that the front bumper was causing the back bumper to move. In fact, whatever was causing El Niño to change was also causing the Circumpolar Vortex to change. That same cause of the change was also affecting other changes of heat balance and redistribution by global wind patterns.

clip_image002

Figure 1

Heat Energy, Imbalance, and Redistribution.

The issue is the balance of energy and the transfers that occur to redress the imbalance. These transfers are little understood yet occur on a much larger scale than El Nino. One major mechanism attempts to redress the imbalance between the latitudinal surplus and deficit regions shown in Figure 2.

clip_image004

Figure 2

The transfer occurs along the line marked by the zone of Zero Energy Balance. In the atmosphere, it is delineated as the Polar Front (Figure 3).

clip_image006

Figure 3

Rossby or Planetary Waves that form along the Front are the major transfer mechanism.

The Waves vary in number, between approximatley 3 and 8, and in amplitude from Zonal (4a) to Meridional (4b). Each configuration creates different weather patterns in the middle latitudes between 30 and 70°.

clip_image008 clip_image010

Figure 4a Figure 4b

Features associated with a strong Meridional flow include a measurable increase in variability of temperatures and precipitation. There is also a shift from the Zonal wind pattern of southwest in the summer and northwest in winter to the Meridional pattern of more southerly and northerly winds throughout the year.

The second great transfer involves the Hadley Cell. Figure 5 shows the cell for the Northern Hemisphere, a similar cell occurs in the Southern Hemisphere.

clip_image012

Figure 5

George Hadley described the mechanism using wind records from ships logs and the effect of Coriolis force in 1735, with little knowledge or understanding added since. It is a major failing of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) models because of lack of data and a grid size too large to accommodate the thousands of convective cells that form in the rising air along the heat equator.

A third great transfer mechanism is the monsoons, especially the one that impacts the Indian subcontinent and all the way into central Asia. Figure 6 shows the pattern of winds associated with the summer and winter monsoons.

clip_image014

Figure 6

It is important to note that, just as with the Rossby Waves, the transfer of energy involves the movement of warm air from the surplus region in Figure 2, but also cold air from the deficit region. The IPCC does not deal with monsoonal mechanisms well as I explained in a previous article. They acknowledge the problem in the 2007 and 2013 Reports.

In short, most AOGCMs do not simulate the spatial or intra-seasonal variation of monsoon precipitation accurately.

The models, however, have significant problems in accurately representing its seasonal cycle because of the difficulty in capturing the asymmetric nature of the monsoonal winds over the basin, resulting in too weak a semi-annual harmonic in the local Ekman pumping over the ridge region compared to observations (Yokoi et al., 2009b).

Others are pithier in their assessment as this headline indicates Climate Models Can’t Predict Squat: Latest IPCC Models Still Unable To Simulate Monsoons.”

In 2015, the Indian monsoon was considered below average, but that was concerning precipitation, not temperature. The anomaly was attributed to El Niño because a decrease occurred with the 2009 El Niño.

Indian monsoon rains were hit by El Niño weather pattern in 2009, when the four-month long monsoon season turned the driest in nearly four decades.

 

Figure 7 shows the Interannual variations of the Indian Summer Monsoon plotting floods and droughts against El Niño and La Nina events.

clip_image016

Figure 7

The accompanying text says,

It is interesting to note that there have been alternating periods extending to 3-4 decades with less and more frequent weak monsoons over India. For example, the 44-year period 1921-64 witnessed just three drought years; during such epochs, the monsoon was found to be less correlated with the ENSO. During the other periods like that of 1965-87 which had as many as 10 drought years out of 23, the monsoon was found to be strongly linked to the ENSO (Parthasarathy et al., 1991).

 

Likely because of this, they concluded that

Prediction of the future evolution of the monsoon activity, at least a season in advance, remains a difficult challenge.

Others confirm this finding. Tom Di Liberto, in an article titled ENSO and the Indian Monsoon… not as straightforward as you’d think,” concludes

“So remember, not every El Niño event affects global circulation in the same way, which makes seasonal forecasting all the more important.”

Maybe the answer is that not every El Niño affects circulation in the same way because it is not the only factor changing global circulation.

A couple of years ago NASA finally acknowledged that the wind is a major factor in the pattern of Arctic sea ice formation and dissipation. If they studied climate history, that is go beyond the official instrumental record, they would know that this is not new. Mount Tambora erupted in 1815 in the middle of the cooling trend associated with the Dalton Minimum (1790 to 1830). In the conference and workshops on the impact of Tambora, we plotted temperature and precipitation patterns on world maps.[1] They disclosed that there was an extreme increase in the amplitude of the Rossby Waves in the Circumpolar Vortex (Figures 3, 4a and b). This year the situation is similarly a function of changing wind patterns. Patterns of weather occurring now are precisely what occurs when the world is in a cooling trend, and the global wind patterns change.

Dramatic cooling caused by the eruption of Tambora produced extreme examples of Meridional Flow. One of these included the shift in wind patterns that transported warm air and water to portions of the Arctic to combine with the wind for a dramatic impact on ice conditions. The conditions were recorded in a November 20, 1817, letter the President of the Royal Society proposed to the British Admiralty:

It will without doubt have come to your Lordship’s knowledge that a considerable change of climate inexplicable at present to us must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past inclosed (sic) the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been during the last two years greatly abated.

Mr. Scoresby, a very intelligent young man who commands a whaling vessel from Whitby observed last year that 2000 square leagues of ice with which the Greenland Seas between the latitudes of 74° and 80°N have been hitherto covered, has in the last two years entirely disappeared.

 

The pattern of Arctic weather and ice conditions this winter is somewhat similar, albeit not as extreme. The Rossby Wave Meridional flow resulted in anomalous wind patterns, ocean currents and ice conditions. It is probable that this added heat raised the global average that was not a result of El Nino. Figure 8 shows the average pattern of Arctic winds and ocean currents.

clip_image018

Figure 8

The main influx of warm water is the North Atlantic Drift. Figure 9 shows the percentage concentration of ice for April 2, 2016, and Figure 10 shows the ice cover for April 1, 2016, with a delineation of the anomaly from the average. The increased melting, especially in the Russian sector due to greater heat transport by wind and water from the Meridional Wave pattern is apparent. This heat is not due to El Nino but does add to the global average.

clip_image020

Figure 9

clip_image022

Figure 10

El Niño became a fad explanation for weather phenomena after the event moved outside of what was considered its normal area of impact in 1983. The science community did not understand the mechanisms involved or the long term variations in the patterns of weather created. The public was left with the impression that this was a new phenomenon entirely due to human activity as the global warming hysteria was exploited.

Climate science assumed the peak in global temperature was solely due to the El Niño that occurred in 1998. They also applied the other misleading concept of teleconnections, which evolved around the chaos theory notion that a butterfly flaps its wings in Japan, and California gets a severe storm several days later. If there are teleconnections, it is because the change that causes the El Niño wind, and subsequent ocean current reversals is an outside the atmosphere forcing that manifests itself in different ways at different latitudes and longitudes. The net result is an increase in global temperature due to several causes, not just El Niño.


[1] The maps were included separately in a pocket inside the back cover.

Advertisements

114 thoughts on “How Much Of Global Temperature Increase Is Due To El Niño?

  1. So the neatly named sea temperature phenomenon that most word processors force you to misspell, El Nino, is not responsible for everything.:-)

    • “… phenomenon that most word processors force you to misspell, El Nino, ….”

      Just type Alt+n, then n. It’ll also work when typing into a WUWT text box, like this: El Niño

      • If it does not work, the character can be found in the Character Map which is installed on all Microsoft OS computers. Just open the Character Map, find the character you want, select it, and copy, then paste to your text.

  2. The short answer to the question “How Much Of Global Temperature Increase Is Due To El Niño?”
    For short term warming…. a lot.
    For long term warming…. little or nothing.

    • Simon, it’s definitely not “little or nothing”. You obviously aren’t accounting for all of the leftover warm waters from the El Nino that are redistributed out of the eastern tropical Pacific in the wake of the El Nino. I post the following graph in each monthly sea surface temperature update as a reminder:

      Most recent update is here:
      https://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/february-2016-sea-surface-temperature-sst-anomaly-update/

      Also see Chapter 3.7 in the book here:
      https://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/tisdale-on-global-warming-and-the-illusion-of-control-part-1.pdf

      • If el Nino is warming the globe, the energy absorbed from the sun has to be retained for decades or even longer in the ocean’s surface layer, since the atmosphere has no required thermal capacity. I would think that to be unlikely.

      • so what causes El Nino? If El Nino is causing warming, isn’t the real cause of the warming whatever is causing El Nino?

      • This illustration shows sea level anomaly in Solomon seas area

        I have looked into records o f tectonic activity (1950-2013 needs updating) for the Solomon islands, in the vicinity of the three red blobs. This is what I found

      • –Simon, it’s definitely not “little or nothing”. —

        Something like 40% of all sunlight reaching earth is absorbed below 1 meter of ocean surface and most
        in in tropical ocean. And this is same arena of El Nino. So I agree not little or nothing, more like, most or all.
        Or the so called greenhouse effect is dependent upon temperature of top 1 meter of water of the oceans which cover 70% of Earth’s surface.
        Or if mixed [however] the top meter layer with colder deeper ocean and you don’t have much of greenhouse effect- until the top 1 meter warms up- it could mostly take a week or so.
        And to have stable average ocean surface temperature one needs tens of meters of warmer surface waters- which what’s involved with El Nino. And mixing deeper ocean waters [also part of El Nino] is very long term warming [centuries] or a significant portion which is involved with sea level rise.

      • “If el Nino is warming the globe, the energy absorbed from the sun has to be retained for decades or even longer in the ocean’s surface layer, since the atmosphere has no required thermal capacity. I would think that to be unlikely.”

        There is obviously no distinct “changing” of heat from the sun one day, to heat from the sun the next day, since the ocean does not drop to absolute zero overnight . . so just as obviously there is a lingering of heat going on (not just at the “surface”, whatever you happen to mean by that) . . so I consider your reasoning extremely weak, here. (Hopefully you just put something reasonable, badly)

      • Ferdberple ” If El Nino is causing warming, isn’t the real cause of the warming whatever is causing El Nino?” Precisely. There must be an origin for this energy. If we can identify that, then we have the answer.

      • vukcevic says: “If el Nino is warming the globe, the energy absorbed from the sun has to be retained for decades or even longer in the ocean’s surface layer, since the atmosphere has no required thermal capacity. I would think that to be unlikely.”

        Great big assumption on your part, vukcevic, that the redistributed warm waters following an El Niño are limited to the surface.

        ferdberple says, “so what causes El Nino? If El Nino is causing warming, isn’t the real cause of the warming whatever is causing El Nino?”

        Wouldn’t your question would be better stated, If El Nino is causing warming, isn’t the real cause of the warming whatever is FUELING El Nino?

        Because then we can answer the question with sunlight and quote Trenberth et al. (2002):
        http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/papers/2000JD000298.pdf

        “The negative feedback between SST and surface fluxes can be interpreted as showing the importance of the discharge of heat during El Niño events and of the recharge of heat during La Niña events. Relatively clear skies in the central and eastern tropical Pacific allow solar radiation to enter the ocean, apparently offsetting the below normal SSTs, but the heat is carried away by Ekman drift, ocean currents, and adjustments through ocean Rossby and Kelvin waves, and the heat is stored in the western Pacific tropics. This is not simply a rearrangement of the ocean heat, but also a restoration of heat in the ocean. Similarly, during El Niño the loss of heat into the atmosphere, especially through evaporation, is a discharge of the heat content, and both contribute to the life cycle of ENSO.”

        Cheers.

      • Yes, Bob Tisdale – but is it ‘from’El Niño ore the ~4 ys accumulated natural warming due to recovering from LIA.

        Best Regards – Hans

      • Bob Tisdale wrote: Apparently, you have difficulty reading a graph, Seth.

        Apparently, you have difficulty answering a question, Bob:

        1) You think warming on the scale of decades is attributable to the El Nino?
        – Do you therefore claim that the El Nino is a recent phenomenon?

        Apparently, you believe or pretend that the first law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy) isn’t a thing, Bob:

        2) Warming on the scale of multiple decades requires more energy in than energy out of the earth’s system.
        – A warm surface of the earth increases outgoing radiation. It slows warming.

      • JohnKnight @vukcevic
        “so I consider your reasoning extremely weak, here. (Hopefully you just put something reasonable, badly)”
        Mr. Knight, nothing odd about that; perhaps what I said further down (vukcevic April 4, 2016 at 1:02 am) may be more reasonable put slightly less badly, but that is what I meant. Heat absorbed in the equatorial regions will be soon radiated back into space unless it is moved elsewhere and after while again radiated into space. All decadal anomalies show that the global warming is the higher latitudes rather than an equatorial event.

      • Bob, how could you proof that the time series you show is not just the ascending branch of a 60 years sinusoïd (with a minimum say around 1980 and a maximum around 2010)? The “pause” being then nothing else than some excursion around the maximum of the sinusoïd. of course, sinusoïds of shorter length are superposed (1 year, 11 year, 18 year being the most detectable). Smoothing out a sinusoïd with a period comparable to the time window considered, by linear trend lines or steps (as you did) induces biases (your steps). As a thumb rule, to reduce the significance of these biases, the time window must at least be equal to 5 times the period of the sinusoïd (300 years in this case). The same (mathematical) “error” is made with the concept of “anomalies” (= residue compred to an averaging “step” of 30 years). Could “anomalies” be a bad indicators of an eventual climate change? This would mean that a lot of (IPCC referred) studies are nothing more than scrap.

    • Simon, the pertinent question should be: are Global Surface Temperatures within mans control? If, and even political climate scientists agree, the answer is no. Then the only remaining pertinent question is: how can man learn to live and progress within his environment?

      • Same way we’ve been doing ever since we rose from the apes–along with every other species that hasn’t succumbed to extinction.

    • Bob Tisdale wrote: Simon, it’s definitely not “little or nothing”. You obviously aren’t accounting for all of the leftover warm waters from the El Nino that are redistributed out of the eastern tropical Pacific in the wake of the El Nino.

      What?

      1) You think warming on the scale of decades is attributable to the El Nino?
      – Do you therefore claim that the El Nino is a recent phenomenon?

      2) Warming on the scale of multiple decades requires more energy in than energy out of the earth’s system.
      – A warm surface of the earth increases outgoing radiation. It slows warming.

      Simon is quite correct. The El Nino is significant source of surface this year and 1998, but these events have less than zero contribution to long term warming.

      • Rubbish,
        you are obviously a subscriber to the idea that earths energy gets “Reset” to 15 deg at 0000 hours Jan 1 each years – or equivalently the fanciful “Global warming must be true because X of the hottest years have been recent”.

        The Energy of the ocean is NOT reset to some reference datum every January the 1st, each years oceanic energy depends of the level at the end of the last year, plus or minus the energy surplus/deficit in the current year. So there is roughly a 50/50 chance of warming or cooling between any two year depending on how the energy is distributed across the planet and released. This is called a random walk.

        If the release of energy is less than gain, then the year ends with more energy / if the release is greater than the gain then the oceans end up with less energy than the last year – that’s IT – done.

        El-Nino is a feature which creates conditions for the former (energy gain), La Nina represents the later, whether the climate on the whole over time gains or loses energy depends on the relative frequencies of La-Nina and El-Nino and it all depends on the dissipative wind flows and currents around the planet. Yes, it’s not a forcing but it is an internal variable that is very capable of producing long term warming if the cause (trigger) of La-Nina / El-Nino is NOT the temperature of the water.

        For example, in the last few decades the ring of fire has been somewhat more active, if the pacific volcanic activity is the source of the trigger for El-Nino phenomenon then wed expect global warming to be correlated to pacific tectonic activity via El-Nino over extended periods. The assumption that El-Nino is necessarily triggered by warm water is nai’ve, almost as certainly wrong as the poor (and wrong) assumption that outgoing EM radiation should equal incoming EM.

      • Bob Tisdale, I do not see how your response makes sense. The graph shows temperatures are higher after each El Nino. They do not prove that the El Nino was the cause of the temperature rise. Whatever causes the rise in temperature must have a physical basis. El Nino cannot be that cause unless it is bringing back energy that was stored decades ago. Is that what you are suggesting?

        Otherwise we can only get fluctuations about the norm. Higher temperatures means more radiation to space, and so cooling. Can you explain where the heat came from to keep temperatures high over decades? Energy does not just appear, it must have a source.

      • seaice1 says:

        Whatever causes the rise in temperature must have a physical basis.

        As always the alarmist cult is really good at asking endless questions — and really bad at answering questions.

        How about answering your own questions for a change. Be specific.

        You can start by telling us what you think is the cause of global warming since the LIA.

      • dbstealey. This article is about El Nino, so I would prefer to stick to the topic. Do you have any ideas what could be fuelling El Nino that results in continuing warming? That is, successive cycles adding energy, rather than ” the discharge of heat during El Niño events and of the recharge of heat during La Niña events”?

        I do not have an answer to that, but just because I do not have it does not mean there is not an answer. So I ask if anyone has the answer.

      • seaice1 says:

        Do you have any ideas what could be fuelling El Nino that results in continuing warming? That is, successive cycles adding energy, rather than ” the discharge of heat during El Niño events and of the recharge of heat during La Niña events”?

        As I pointed out, the alarmist cult always asks questions; they never answer questions.

        That’s happening here. Again. It’s a tactic, and a disreputable one. If they started answering skeptics’ questions, it would quickly become obvious that they know nothing at all. They certainly can’t answer why they’re always wrong.

        seaice1 also falsely asserts that:

        It was JohnWho that introduced the consensus.

        Is seaice1 a fool? Or a liar? Maybe both. It was John Cook who flogged the ‘97%’ nonsense. That’s another reason the alarmist cult won’t answer questions: their answers are always wrong.

        Finally, I’m calling seth on his bogus chart. It’s a fabricated, model-based chart that has no connection with reality. The ARGO network shows deep ocean cooling:

      • seaice1,

        The heat released during an El Nino comes from warm water stored in the western Pacific ocean (sometimes mistakenly called the eastern Pacific because it’s in the eastern hemisphere, but that’s another issue) . That warm water naturally collects there due to the trade winds pushing warm surface waters westward along the equator. These waters have been heated by the tropical sun, and that warmth piles up in the western Pacific warm pool. El Nino conditions occur when these trade winds falter, and allow that warm pool to slosh back towards the eastern Pacific, where they warm the normally cool upwelling along the west coast of South America, ruining the anchovy fisheries as one consequence. That’s how it got the name.

        But the heat accumulated in that western Pacific warm pool hasn’t been sitting around for decades, it comes and goes depending on various conditions, especially El Nino and La Nina conditions. And it doesn’t necessarily all rise to the surface and disperse immediately. Often, large pools of this water move around the Pacific and Indian oceans underwater for years, even making their way up to the Arctic, and finally resurface, warming the atmosphere years after the El Nino is over. So it can have long term effects on climate, not merely short term. Likewise, a preponderance of El Nino events can add up and warm the entire climate system for decades at a time, as happened recently from 1977 to 2005. On the other hand, a preponderance of La Nina events could cool the climate system over a similar time frame.

      • i think seth needs to do some graph reading. Ironically even the skeptic side with their fanous “escalator graph” prove the point: each step falls on an important el nino year.

        what you forget seth is that a lot of the released el nino waters don’t just flush tot the poles like if it was a toilet. Those warm waters linger on, go to the tropical regions of the indian ocean, and also stays lingering around in the pacific in returning rossby waves. Some return to the warm pool, others spred north, some flows south and some of it lands in the indian ocean.

        Most likely you think of a La nina as “the opposite” but it’s not: those cold waters don’t go around they don’t return in rossby waves and spread out. in science ENSO should rather imho be called ENSP (P for pattern) so that this ugly word “oscillation” (which it isn’t) would be coined as it should be: a pattern rather then an oscillation…

        but yea ENSP sounds less easier for the ear and in the media then ENSO so better not do that and know that this is a pattern and not a sinusoidal oscillation.

      • bobl wrote: Rubbish,
        you are obviously a subscriber to the idea that earths energy gets “Reset” to 15 deg at 0000 hours Jan 1 each years

        Indeed I am not.

        For example, in the last few decades the ring of fire has been somewhat more active, if the pacific volcanic activity is the source of the trigger for El-Nino phenomenon then wed expect global warming to be correlated to pacific tectonic activity via El-Nino over extended periods.

        Whoa, wait.

        Are you claiming that the increase in temperature over the past 50 years is due to volcanic heating of the oceans?

        Do underwater volcanoes release a lot more heat than above water ones, because up here they’re not associated with a warming. Quite the opposite.

        How come the top of the oceans contains more of the heat than the depths? Surely that implies the heat is moving downwards.

      • The oceans have multiple heat transfer inputs. Crust convection (NOT quantified) Oceanic vents (not sufficiently quantified) Largely unknown ocean floors for the most part.

        Lets not forget large regional up welling which brings up cooler water and takes down warmer water, turnover, solar energy..

        I don’t know what the story is but I know there is far too much certainty being bandied about by some.

      • Seth I don’t claim anything of the sort, read what I said rather than what you want to see. I said that if El-Nino is triggered / caused by something other than water temperature then it will cause heating ( actually reduced cooling) over long timeframes, that is you can’t assume ENSO will average to zero if this is the case. Volcanic inputs are just an example of something that might be the butterfly wings that flap to trigger El-Nino, or the tidal effects of the moon/sun or any number of other effects.

      • — For example, in the last few decades the ring of fire has been somewhat more active, if the pacific volcanic activity is the source of the trigger for El-Nino phenomenon then wed expect global warming to be correlated to pacific tectonic activity via El-Nino over extended periods.

        Whoa, wait.

        Are you claiming that the increase in temperature over the past 50 years is due to volcanic heating of the oceans?

        Do underwater volcanoes release a lot more heat than above water ones, because up here they’re not associated with a warming. Quite the opposite.

        How come the top of the oceans contains more of the heat than the depths? Surely that implies the heat is moving downwards.–

        I believe that we have not measured the heat from volcanic activity well enough to quantity it’s warming affects.
        But generally volcanic activity under the ocean should have a significant warming effect and would be significant due the the heat not escaping to the space environment quickly- or volcanic activity at land surface does have heat escaping to space environment, quickly.
        Volcanic activity is not limited to eruptions which cause ejecta to reach the stratosphere and thereby allowing such volcanic dust to cause cooling. Or only dust in high atmosphere caused by volcanic activity cause cooling by blocking sunlight from reaching the surface. So, stuff like large lava flows on land do not cause cooling, but the intense heat would directly radiate into space and not have much effect upon large regional areas or global temperature- unless such event were quite massive in scale [which they have been in distant past].

        Most volcanic activity does not occur on land surfaces. One aspect is that most of Earth surface is under a few kilometer of ocean water. So just in terms total area of Earth, there is more land area under few kilometer of ocean than land above sea level. So one has Atlantic sea floor spreading plus many other areas in ocean with volcanic activity and such heating is occurring in deep, dark, and cold waters
        without the heat directly getting the surface of the ocean.

        One can’t say whether any heating over last 50 year is due to volcanic activity. Though one can’t even say there has been any remarkable heating over last 50 years.
        The remarkable amount of heating can said to occur from the end of Little Ice Age- somewhere around 150 years ago. And we have global warming since beginning of our interglacial period- about 10,000 years ago. Or if want to point to dramatic period of warming, recently it started in LIA, and if look at longer periods of time, it was the Holocene optimal- “a warm period during roughly the interval 9,000 to 5,000 years BP” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_climatic_optimum

        But I would say there is no evident of oceanic volcanic activity causing such period of warming- but also I would say it has not been studied enough to determine whether there could be such evidence.
        One thing one could guess, is it would require very long prolong periods of significant increase of oceanic volcanic activity and one might start with first establishing what is the baseline of “normal” volcanic activity. Or broadly, what is current level of undersea volcanic activity,

      • dbstealey Get a grip. “It was JohnWho that introduced the consensus. Is seaice1 a fool? Or a liar? Maybe both”
        The question was asked “who brings a consensus to a science fight” I presume in an amusing parody of “who brings a knife to a gunfight”.

        It was doubly amusing because “johnwho” introduced the 97% into this discussion, about 2 comments up from mine. Hence the play on words “who?…johnwho”

        For this you call me a liar and a fool. Shame on you, dbstealey.

      • The ‘97%’ meme was started by John Cook. It’s been repeated by literally hundreds of people since then.

        seaice1 may have a hard time understanding what “introduced” means. To help out, just put ‘97%’ into the WUWT search box. seaice1 will get the whole story.

        Finally, I note that as usual, seaice1 ignores any questions he’s asked. I don’t really blame him, because if he started to answer questions and follow-up questions, his Arctic ice narrative would crash and burn.

    • El Nino’s and La Nina’s actually cause a little global cooling, because according to the Boltzmann equation “radiation increases to the forth power with temperature” so ups and downs in temperature mean a little more radiation is emitted to space, than if the globe stayed at a constant average temperature.

      • If La Nina results in the surface temperature dropping, then it will cause a reduction in radiative heat loss and a net absorption of energy. Remember the input of energy is almost constant. Same in with less out = gain in energy. Presumably that energy ends up in the ocean.

        El Nino cools the ocean and warms the atmosphere. This means we get more energy radiated. More out with the same in = net loss of energy.

        One might expect these to balance out over time, giving fluctuations about the mean.

    • The ENSO obviously impacts temperatures in a very profound way.

      To illustrate this a little better and make it more clear for everyone, I’ve made some adjustments to the lower troposphere temperatures for the impact of the Volcanoes (which distort the picture somewhat since there were two major ones in the time covered by UAH RSS and one happened right when a Super El Nino was starting up). The Volcano adjustment is to add back the regressed temp impact of the Volcanoes according to the Aerosol Optical Depth database as follows:

      Now with that impact removed, just see how close the lower troposphere Global and Tropics temperatures are to the ENSO going back to 1958 using HadAT and the UAH-RSS average.

      That is NOW extremely clear to me. (should have done this long ago.)

      Regarding Bob’s step changes, there is a 60 year cycle in temperatures you know. These more recent steps could easily just be the 60 year cycle. I choose to use the AMO index for that 60 year cycle because it is either the direct cause of that cycle, or it is a very good representation of whatever is causing that 60 year cycle.

  3. Arctic weather & Indian monsoon, is there a connection ?
    Two or three years ago I was researching the Earth’s magnetic field and came across strong 16 year periodicity in its secular variability. Subsequently I looked at spectral response of numerous climate related data, and found it only in two: the Arctic temperature and Himalayan monsoon

    I can see relationship between monsoon and the Earth’s magnetic field, but not monsoon and the Arctic temperature, perhaps there is a clue somewhere in the Dr. Ball’s article, initially I only skimmed through.

    • vukcevic
      The only connection l can see is if the Russian winter blocking extended so far to the south. That they linked with the monsoon winter high and so draw the warm air up into the Arctic.

      • Thanks. Possibly. I had looked into possibility of a link via the sudden stratospheric warming, as the warm Indian Ocean air rises up the Himalayas slopes it punctures hole into tropopause, but don’t know enough about subject

      • Not sure
        But what has been of interest this year is that the highs in the NH have tended to extend more north/south this year then normal. This has been a important factor in the warming of the Arctic this year. As it sets up large flows of air between the Arctic and warm air in the south. lt seems that its a way that the climate system can remove heat quickly out of the system. This has got me wondering is if goes on for to long is it a trigger for climate cooling.

  4. ” It’s not that the answer is obfuscated behind scientific jargon. It’s that we don’t know. Not only don’t we know, we’re not really that close to knowing.”

    Sounds like an honest statement from a “climate scientist”.

    More of that, rather than “97% certainty”, would then save the world a lot of grief and money.

    • More of that, rather than “97% certainty”, would then save the world a lot of grief and money.

      Interesting guess.

      Probably the wrong way around though. Given the scientific consensus, and the economics of living in a warming world with the oceans rising for the next several hundred years, and of the changing climate’s effect on agriculture and biodiversity, it seems prudent to consider the money and grief of not accepting the 97% consensus.

      • seth,

        You’re still fixated on the bogus ‘97%’ nonsense? Grow up. Scientists argue all the time, and there’s no possible way you could get 97% of them to agree on anything.

        You cling to that nonsense like a drowning man clings to a stick, and you look totally foolish for it.

        Your silly ‘consensus’ argument is all you have, because you certainly don’t have any credible scientific arguments.

        Are you still in the 8th grade? Based on your preconceived beliefs, it seems so. I suggest you trot along tothe thinly-trafficked ‘pseudo-skeptical pseudo-science’ for some better talking points. Because the ones you’re using amount to one big FAIL.

      • Dear lord, the 97% again that never existed. Sweet Jebus, who brings a consensus to a science fight :P

      • “Sweet Jebus, who brings a consensus to a science fight :P”
        Yes, in this case you are right. It was JohnWho that introduced the consensus.

      • seaice1 says:

        It was JohnWho that introduced the consensus.

        Forget this case. It was John Cook’s dishonest claim of ‘97%’ of scientists who all marched in lockstep. And ‘seaice1′ is happy to get on-board with that dishonesty.

        Their whole claim is political; intended to give support to the climate alarmists’ fake scare. There isn’t an honest skeptic among them; not Cook, nor ‘seaice1′, nor anyone else.

        They all lack credible evidence, so they have decided to tell their lies instead. And as usual, they hide out from answering skeptics’ questions.

        That’s the way it is — isn’t it, ‘seaice’?

  5. lt was the pressure pattern over Russia that was key to the warming in the Arctic this winter.
    The blocking highs over Russia this winter have extended much further to the south then normal.
    Which allowed warm air from as far south as the middle east to be drawn up into the Arctic. This weather pattern not only warmed the Arctic but also the western side of Asia. While over in eastern Asia cold air spilled down to the south.

    • But that high is tied to something else. Part of what Dr. Ball is saying is that separate weather structures may not be so much related to each other as by a common external driver.

      • John
        What was the reason for the high to behave that way l don’t know.
        But the interesting part is that this extending north/south has been a bit of a theme with areas of high pressure in the NH so far this year. We recently had one over eastern asia and now there is one looking to form over the northern Atlantic later this week. l am now wondering if this is how the climate removes heat quickly out of the system and if it lasts for too long. lt can be the trigger to push the climate into cooling.

      • Sure the position of the pattern over Russia isn’t a reflection of the highs and lows formed over the Pacific due to water temps?

        With warm equatorial waters (El Niño), the warm blob in the GOM last year and the cooler waters in the NW Pacific would cause the winter highs and lows to setup depending on the water temperature underneath it.

        Once you get a massive high or low formed in the winter, they sometime stay pretty much in place and to each side is a high or another low depending, resulting in a meridional pattern if the feature is far enough south. These slowly rotate around but can stay in place for quite a while or reform over the same area all winter.

        Joe D’Aleo and Joe Bastardi are basically using the ocean water temperature distribution and analog prior winters to predict the next winter and have been pretty successful over the past couple of winter predictions.

    • @ vulc and taxed, April 3, 1: 20 pm, I don’t know if there has been a “blocking ” high over Western Canada as well, but the last two weeks there has been a very constant benign pattern in place, clear/ calm and a very stable temp pattern, 0 – 3 c at night, and 17 – 18 C in the day, (Great for stargazing and early gardening). I don’t know if you guys were aware of this pattern and is it related to the high pressure zones you two are talking about?.

  6. The net result is an increase in global temperature due to several a seemingly infinite number of causes, not just El Niño.

    The mind boggles.

    The Earth’s energy input and output are pretty constant. Yet it seems that tiny changes in almost anything have a massive effect on how we live (or die miserably of starvation). Darn butterflies.

    • Or not. Sensitive dependence on initial conditions only means you cannot precisely predict/repeat a future system state. That is very different than assuming ‘tipping points’ between one strange attractor and another.
      We know that given the present continental positions (after the Panama isthmus closed forcing present ocean circulation patterns, h/t Geology prof emeritus Deffeyes of Princeton), Earth has has two main strange attractors, glacial and interglacial, for about the past 2 million years. For the first million, the ‘tipping’ had a periodicy of about 50-60 millennia. For the most recent ~million years, it is about 110-120 millennia (Vostok, EPICA). And we know that in that more recent longer periodicy, we are about at the end of a typical interglacial. And we know that ‘civilization’ meaning fixed agriculture and villages/cities and population growth all arose only within our present Holocene interglacial. Integrate all that to grok how myopically foolish warmunists appear.

      • ristvan,

        If what you say is true and I don’t doubt you at all, then mankind should seriously think about opening up the Panama isthmus again to return to a climate optimum. With nuclear devices and all major nation working on it, we should be able to do it within a century I’d wager.

        Hmmmm. The end of all gratification. I like that. Of course the Panamanians might not like the idea.

      • Actually, I was thinking of events during the Little Ice Age. World history changed, millions died, etc.

        Even a favorable climate could have serious consequences. Genghis Khan conquered much of the world because the climate in Mongolia was abnormally good for a while.

        Why did all this happen? As far as I can tell, it’s butterflies all the way down.

      • No more Panama – Oh noes! Where would Elon Musk, Warren Buffet and all the other green profiteers send their embarrassing wealth for offshore laundering?

      • marks
        Seems we have been to fixated on measuring anomalous high temperatures when we should have been measuring and focussed on the dynamics of energy distribution.
        Remember that lovely palindrome, “A man, a plan, a canal – panama”.

    • commieBob — “Darn butterflies.” Got to like it. Humorous and makes your point. — Eugene WR Gallun

  7. While we are talking about interesting weather patterns.
    The one coming up over the next weekend in the NH is so complete in the story it tells. That l now know the how and why of why North America and NE Europe/NW Russia become the extreme cold climate events during the last ice age. lts been well worth the 3 years l have had to wait for it to turn up. :)

  8. It seems obvious to me that there has to be an imbalance of heat retention between Northern and Southern hemispheres due to orbital factor, different land mass and ocean ratio and the presence of permanent ice in Antarctica. Large areas of ocean can rise or sink due to temperature and salinity. In the atmosphere, equatorial winds tend to keep the hemispheres separated somewhat while ocean currents transport heat over longer time frames. It therefore seems very likely that large amounts of heat can accumulate in one hemisphere before reaching a tipping point that causes it to “dump” heat to the other hemisphere. I think this is the most likely explanation for multi decade swings in weather patterns between North and South.

  9. Starting last year I started tracking the history of Nino regions. I analyze region 3, region 1.2 and region 3.4. I expect another round of data to be available soon. The last daily reading I have come from March 1. What I analyze are the monthly records going back to before 1860 and from 2014 onwards I use the daily measurement records.

    I also analyze the monthly records by themselves too. I won’t bother with that now.

    In each case analyzed I start by doing the Optimal Fourier Transform (OFT) that was developed by Dr. Evans. The OFT can be found under the Transform tab in his spreadsheet that is publicly available.
    I then use a Marquardt procedure that uses the output of the OFT as input. In most cases the procedure improves fidelity. In all these cases the correlation coefficient is above 0.9 with the exception being region 1.2.
    .
    Nino 3.0

    https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=A14244340288E543!12759&authkey=!AIE7kme2h4Pwz6Q&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg

    https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=A14244340288E543!12756&authkey=!AHgZqZYtGftFVMA&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg

    The table of values is given below. Since some of the early data are noisy I compute separately a correlation coefficient for data after the date indicated in the table.

    https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=A14244340288E543!12760&authkey=!AIN9vt6U-KHNO54&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg

    Nino 3.4

    https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=A14244340288E543!12762&authkey=!AJE12mrjOWihCpk&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg

    https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=A14244340288E543!12763&authkey=!AL8FetS8uttMefk&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg

    The table.

    https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=A14244340288E543!12761&authkey=!ALNJz1rLL5u_OFY&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg

    Nino 1.2

    The early data for this region is nosier. The overall correlation coefficient is not as good as the others but is satisfactory after the date given in the table.

    https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=A14244340288E543!12764&authkey=!AP2keqarx-o4qpE&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg

    https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=A14244340288E543!12765&authkey=!ALr41sr7yWXgSY8&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg

    The table.

    https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=A14244340288E543!12766&authkey=!AHgRwFKlow4plT0&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg

    The Future

    I think the next set of data will clear up the expected forthcoming behavior. Presently this is what is indicted for one of the regions.

    https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=A14244340288E543!12767&authkey=!ANATvYdMVRkHNUs&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg

    These things do adjust as new data become available.

  10. Yes the more general cooling we saw across the of the NH during the ice age would have been linked to factors like orbital changes. But the extreme cold events like we saw in America and NE europe. Now that was down to the weather forming blocking patterns that reduced the flow of warm air to these areas.

    • Taxed, IMO Milankovitch is only part of the ‘answer’. Consider that sea level rose 120 meters during the transition to the Holocene. That means both the Bering and Sundra straits were dry land during the long depth of the most recent glacial (both are about 40 meters deep). That means all of the thermohaline circulation had to be significantly different than now. Lots of moving parts about which we presently understand very little. As Dr.Ball’s essay reminds.

  11. How Much Of Global Temperature Increase Is Due To El Niño?

    The answer can not be calculated on present knowledge.

    As Dr. Ball put it: The net result is an increase in global temperature due to several causes, not just El Niño.

    Thank you Dr. Ball for a good essay.

  12. If you were a young person being educated in Earth Sciences over the last few years who would you have preferred as your Professors and mentors given the choice?
    Dr Tim Ball, Professor Bob Carter (now,sadly, deceased) and Professor Richard Lindzen. Or: Dr Gavin Schmidt, Professor Michael Mann and Dr.Hans Schellnhuber.

    Personally I find the clarity of thought and expression of the first group to be rather more enticing than the second. (Who can forget the expression on Richard Lindzens face when he realised that the chairman of the British Parliamentary Climate Change committee, Tim Yeo MP, was in fact, a complete idiot and not just pretending to be one.)

    Another though provoking post from Dr Tim.

  13. All we are supposed to know about El Nino events is that they aren’t the “norm,” can cause “extremes” in some regions, and are “becoming stronger and more frequent.”

    Be afraid…be very afraid.

  14. On winters when the northern lights are seen deep into the southern latitudes the jet stream dives toward the equator. Being that high and low pressure air masses follow the jet stream it is highly likely that there should be a 97 percent concensus that the Suns behaviour has something to do with it.

    • Lee, the sun does do that. Aside from the warming effect of TSI, the sun has two basic cooling mechanisms – outright direct low TSI, and the secondary cosmic ray/geomagnetic ozone polar effect.

      A meridional (wavy) jet stream forms and dives away from the Arctic when cosmic ray pressure increases when solar radiation is low, and sometimes from highly geo-effective, southward-pointing IMF driven geomagnetic storms. Over the past two weeks we saw each happen. First, large fetches from the Arctic draped over the US after TSI and the IMF dropped off a few weeks ago, and cosmic rays then increased.

      Solar activity is so low now cosmic ray intensity is nearly at solar minimum conditions. We could be headed for 2009 levels in the next minimum, or higher, depending on the power of the sun.

      Today the southern extent of the polar vortex lobe into the US is at the south Tennessee border, delivering up to a 24 hr thirty degree temperature drop near there right now. That boundary was near Michigan on Monday.

      The G2-geomagnetic storm from the past weekend kicked out the polar vortex lobe further south into the US since the weekend, as indicated in the north polar total ozone maps:

      There are other product images that can help depict this, ie, T/P maps at various polar heights/latitudes.

  15. “Whatever triggers El Nino is also triggering other changes in energy balance”

    Yes, between atmosphere and ocean, not necessarily between earth and outer space (though more hot surface ocean water causing warmer atmosphere may when the heat reaches higher levels in the atmosphere lead to increased heat being shed off into space).

    This blog post is all over the place anyway, where is the coherent picture? As an example:

    “As I explained to farmers in Canada, El Niño does not affect Canada. It only appears to because the weather patterns in Canada change at the same time but in completely different ways”

    Appears? Did the farmers benefit from your explanation?

    • “Appears? Did the farmers benefit from your explanation?”

      That question doesn’t only appear lame, it is lame.

      • clipe
        April 3, 2016 at 6:06 pm wrote:

        “Wagan wrote: “Appears? Did the farmers benefit from your explanation?”

        “That question doesn’t only appear lame, it is lame.”

        Which question? The “appears” or “did the farmers benefit”?

        I can see why Wagan would question the “appears” part. If El Nino rolls around and changes the weather patterns in Canada, then that is not appearing to do so, it *is* doing so. The fact that the weather pattern doesn’t duplicate what happens in California or the U.S. has nothing to do with it.

        And I guess Wagan is curious if the farmers benefited from such an ambiguous description. I kinda wonder, myself.

        I’m not familiar with Wagan’s past comments, but he doesn’t sound lame to me on this one.

        Insults don’t make very good counter-arguments, IMO.

  16. Tonight I’ve been working on this very subject, readying a special graphic that contains this information and more for my solar supersensitivity paper. So many who don’t think the sun does what I claim it does probably never looked at this information in this way.

    It is not a surprise to me, nor a coincidence, that the most severe extreme events occurred during, or not long after the higher solar activity periods of each solar cycle, or during the next cycle upswing in TSI.

    I highly recommend taking all these images, pasting them into Excel, and scaling them to match in time, and enjoying a most interesting epiphany.

    The average TSI, the green line in the composite plot, is just about at the level for overall ocean warming, and below that the ocean cools.

    These four images contain the basic elements needed to understand the sun’s power to drive weather, climate, and extreme events… and there’s more….

    TSI composite FYI – https://www.pmodwrc.ch/pmod.php?topic=tsi/composite/SolarConstant.

    • My study of global solar radiation and net radiation at few Indian stations using power spectral analysis showed 10.5 plus or minus 0.5 year cycle and its multiples [10.5, 21, 42 years].

      Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  17. What role is played by deep water oceanic currents, even brine currents, in ENSO discussion. Obviously we must have little or no data on such as it is rarely, if ever, part of any discussion on climate or global weather patterns.

  18. My specific answer as to the driver of ENSO events is still awaiting posting. In addition to that, my answer to Dr. Ball’s question is YES, the El Nino caused the sharp rise in temperatures, and now it’s over.

  19. There are two sources of energy to heat the waters that cover 70% of our planet to an average depth of 6500 ft. Solar and geothermal. We know the former varies little and about the latter we know little. How the oceans store, redistribute and discharge the energy they obtain from these two sources we know little. Add cloud cover and resultant greenhouse and albedo effects and we know even less regarding the entire system. One thing is certain, CO2 is not the thermostat for this planet. The answer lies in the totality of the system, said answer may well be chaotic in nature given all of what it is and adding all of the other potential exogenous variables that impact climate.

  20. It should be obvious that the Oceans act like a battery and there are separate mechanisms for charging and discharging it. Cloud coverage controls the charging and the wind controls the discharging. These are independent drivers, so it is rather hard to predict future temperature levels.

    • Jinghis, Have you ever looked at the relationship between 500hPa geopotential height and surface temperature. As the lower atmosphere warms geopotential height increases, cloud cover diminishes and the surface warms. https://reality348.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/3-how-the-earth-warms-and-cools-naturally/ The clue is to work out why the lower atmosphere below 500hPa warms. Hint, it warms in conjunction with an increase in geopotential height at 250hPa indicating a high pressure cell intensifying. Next question: What causes a high pressure cell to intensify?

  21. Any system that pushes warm moist air into the subzero polar night, is a ‘cooling’ event.

  22. Moderate to strong El Nino events are triggered by long-term (i.e. inter-annual) variability in the lunar tides. Specifically, the timing of these events is directly related to 31/62 year Perigee/Syzygy lunar tidal cycle.

    I do not have all the answers as to how this actually happens but the best answer that I can come up with is that slow forcings applied to the Earth by the lunar tides influences the formation and subsequent propagation of Madden-Julian Oscillations (MJO) along the Equatorial Indian Ocean and Pacific Oceans.

    A MJO consists of a large-scale coupling between the atmospheric circulation and atmospheric deep convection. When a MJO is at its strongest, between the western Indian and western Pacific Oceans, it exhibits characteristics that approximate those of a hybrid-cross between a convectively-coupled Kelvin wave and an Equatorial Rossby wave. When a MJO moves from the western Indian Ocean into the western Pacific Ocean, it generally accelerates, becomes less strongly coupled to convection, and transitions into a convectively de-coupled (i.e. dry) Kelvin wave.

    Periodically (i.e. roughly once every 4.5 years), the precise alignments of the lunar tidal forcings produce the right conditions that result an upsurge in the number and magnitude of what I call Pacific Penetrating MJO. These are MJO events that travel from the Eastern equatorial Indian Ocean, along the Equator, all the way into the Western Pacific Ocean, where they initiate Westerly Wind Bursts (WWB’s).

    The spawning of these WWB’s takes place as the MJO event is transitioning from a hybrid-cross between, a convectively-coupled Kelvin wave and an Equatorial Rossby wave, and a convectively de-coupled (i.e. dry) Kelvin wave. The spawning of the WWB’s occurs in the Western Equatorial Pacific Ocean, somewhere between 60O E and 150O W longitude. The actual process involves the formation of a typhoon/cyclone pair straddling the equator which produces an intense WWB between the two intense low pressure cells.

    The onset of El Nino event are marked by the weakening of the easterly trade winds associated with the Walker circulation. The actual drop off in easterly trade wind strength is always preceded by a marked increase in WWB’s in the western equatorial Pacific Ocean. The WWB’s help initiate an El Nino event by creating downwelling Kelvin waves in the western Pacific that propagate towards the eastern Pacific, where they produce intense localized warming, as well as by generating easterly moving equatorial surface currents which transport warm water from the warm pool region into the central Pacific.

    The net result of the Moon’s involvement in the initiation of El Nino events means that:

    El Niño events in New Moon epochs preferentially occur near times when the lunar line-of-apse aligns with the Sun at the times of the Solstices.

    El Niño events in the Full Moon epochs preferentially occur near times when the lunar line-of-apse aligns with the Sun at the times of the Equinoxes.

    For a full description of the meaning of Full and New Moon Epochs please read:

    http://astroclimateconnection.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/evidence-that-strong-el-nino-events-are_13.html

  23. “How much of the increase was due to El Niño? As I explained in another article, the forecasts for the 2015 El Niño failed because the mechanisms are not understood”

    Thank you Dr Tm Ball. This has been my own conclusion for some time

    Either:

    El Nino is driven by an energy increase pulse (input)
    or
    No increase in input, but rather one of a pulse in oceanic cooling through redistribution of warm water
    or
    Both

    Warm water rises – rapidly – but a large glass of warm water cools less rapidly than a small glass. Spread large deep cells of warm water over a large surface area and they will cool more rapidly. Spread these cells towards cooler, higher latitudes than what is the norm, then cooling is accelerated, showing as heat in surface temperature readings (Dr Ball’s point, I think)

    Personally, I would like to know a hell of lot more about geological energy input. It should not be discounted, yet

    The fantastic thing about El Nino is that it all happens so quickly. We don’t need to be reincarnated to learn some real truths, as in the case in regards to general climate change :-(

  24. The 2015 India summer Monsoon was below average in rainfall, but not the winter monsoon, which showers a south eastern coastal strip including Chennai. It was way above average (60%) but if you see the pattern over the 110 years you see a rough saw tooth all the way through, so par for the course. By the way overall Indian harvests were fine last year.
    The flooding in Chennai was mostly due to a management failure of a huge fresh water reservoir nearby: they did n’t let is any (drinking) water out in a dry spell so they had to open their sluices fully with the next bout of rainfall resulting in very fast rise of water in channels and next on roads.

  25. I see much confusion. First, lets clear the playing field. Get rid of the nice pictures of monsoons and polar ice extent, the multivariate ENSO index, the multifarious SSTs, the upper atmosphere happenings, and the El Nino — like Miocene. El Nino is a Pacfifc Ocean phenomenon and has no counterpart either in the Atlantic or the Indian oceans. It is basically a harmonic oscillation of ocean water from side to side in the central Pacific, powered by trade winds. If you blow across the end of a glass tube you get a tone that is its fundamental frequency. This fundamerntal frequency is determined by the dimensions of the tube. Trade winds are the equivalent of blowing across a tube and the ocean answers with its own fundamental frequency – one El Nino peak every four-five years or so. It starts with trade winds piling up warm water in the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool – the warmest water on earth. When the water level has reached a peak reverse flow by gravity starts, follows the equatorial counter-current and runs ashore in South America. There it splits and spreads out north and south along the coast. The warm water spreads out on the surface along the coast and warms the air above it. Warm air rises, joins the westerlies, and we notice that an El Nino has started. And so do the Europeans and the Japanese when the westerlies reach their land. But any wave that runs ashore mist also retreat. As the El Nino wave retreats water level behind it drops half a meter or so. Cold water from below fills this vacuum and a La Nina has started. As much as the El Nino warmed the air the La Nina will now cool it and the long term SST will not change. Normally, that is. There are special cases if something unusual comes up that mat block the eastward flow along the equatorial counter current. If that happens the blocked warm water will spread out in mid-ocean and create an El Nino on the spot. This is known as an El Nino Modoki or CP (Central Pacific) El Nino. While that El Nino itself is OK the formation of the La Nina that should follow is inhibited and there is a possibility that the heat balance just might be shifted as a result. Note that El Ninos and La Ninas are always created in pairs and there is an equal number of them. There are other things besides ENSO in the ocean and they are capable of influencing the ENSO frequency which makes El Nino prediction difficult. To get an idea of the extent to which this is happening look at ther sawtooth pattern on long global temperature curves. All the peaks you see are El Ninos and valleys between them are La Ninas. Together they take up the entire length of every temperature curve. The El Nino phenomenon started when the Panamanian Seaway closed and the Pacic current system of today was established.

      • I’ll echo your thanks to Arno, but there are notable exceptions, one of which was in 2014.

        Arno states: “It starts with trade winds piling up warm water in the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool – the warmest water on earth. When the water level has reached a peak reverse flow by gravity starts, follows the equatorial counter-current and runs ashore in South America. There it splits and spreads out north and south along the coast. The warm water spreads out on the surface along the coast and warms the air above it. Warm air rises, joins the westerlies, and we notice that an El Nino has started.”

        But in 2014 it decided not to.

        Consider the Tisdale sourced graphic that clearly shows the equatorial counter-current heading eastwards towards the South American coast. You can find it towards the bottom of:

        http://www.colderside.com/Colderside/Video_Clips.html

        I detest using the word “always” when discussing climate, but there are “always” exceptions!!!

  26. Thank you. Case in point wrt my earlier post, see below how TSI came up off the floor in 2009/10, at the onset of an El Nino. Later, the SC24 TSI peak in Feb/March 2015 happened at the onset of the 2016 El Nino. That was real, extra, additional energy from the sun over a period of time.

    I just cannot condone the idea that heat can build up without additional outside energy in, and I can’t condone ignoring the fact that there was indeed ENSOs during/after additional energy times from the sun. The synchronicity of the high TSI times and El Ninos should not be ignored, but explored further.

    • That was real, extra, additional energy from the sun over a period of time.

      Yes, but you’re pointing to correlation between onset of increased TSI and emergence of El Nino. I don’t understand how you justify the cause and effect. For El Nino to work, energy must build up in the system for months prior to the TSI spike itself. So the TSI spik cannot be the course of the El Nino, it is correlation not causation.

      But more importntly, your whole graph only shows a variation in TSI of about 1 w/m2. Corrected for albedo (30%) and normalized for curvature of earth and day night cycle, that leaves an effective change in TSI of 0.175 w/m2. Without a rather large feedback valie to rely upom, this is a much too small number to result in the changes observed in the El Nino cycle.

      • “For El Nino to work, energy must build up in the system for months”

        It’s a remarkably easy thing to see from simple examination of the SST record that SSTs are very sensitive to short-term increases in TSI.

        I am not claiming that energy build-up isn’t required for an El Nino – I am saying SSTs take off quickly when F10.7cm and TSI go up – that’s part of what “solar supersensitivity” is, and if there has been a build-up in TSI over time as there was in SC24 until the peak in Feb/Mar of 2015, the size of the temperature increase will be greater and of longer duration.

        From the MEI graphic, all the major El Ninos had a similar spread in delta T from the bottom of the previous “blue” spike to top of the “red” spike. What does that tell you?

        ” So the TSI spik cannot be the course of the El Nino, it is correlation not causation.”

        Your scenario ignores the TSI build-up through SC24 that happened over the period 2008/9 to 2015/6.

        “But more importntly, your whole graph only shows a variation in TSI of about 1 w/m2. Corrected for albedo (30%) and normalized for curvature of earth and day night cycle, that leaves an effective change in TSI of 0.175 w/m2. Without a rather large feedback valie to rely upom, this is a much too small number to result in the changes observed in the El Nino cycle.”

        This is where everyone goes south, imo. Try examining the record first before attempting to apply IPCC “physics” methods or ideology. It’s the reason why we’re here – IPCC warmist physics & ideology is junk.

        As long as people live in the IPCC’s tiny little mental TSI box without even observing what happens from variable TSI, as far as this engineer is concerned, those people as not truly being “scientific”. To whom else might that apply, unbeknownst to the afflicted?

        Observations must match theory to even have a chance of a correct interpretation of reality.

      • This is where everyone goes south, imo. Try examining the record first before attempting to apply IPCC “physics” methods or ideology.

        I’m one of the biggest critics of the IPCC there is, so don’t throw me into that junk pile.

        You can possibly convince me of the correlation but without a causation to go with it, you convince me. Less than a quarter watt/m2 just doesn’t get you there as a credible causation. If you could show a link in which change in a particular flux drives a change (through a physical process) in cloud cover (for example) you’d have the means so amplify the change in TSI you are talking about. But basing it on the change in TSI alone just doesn’t get you there.

      • Sorry David, I get you on the IPCC – you are not part of that mess.

        I just spent the interim shoveling 6″ of fresh snow thinking about this.

        It seems like the observations that anyone can make about the solar influence should verify the results of the reductionist maths used, by whatever or whoever’s technique, but the observations don’t match those maths, and the reason I say that is because I’ve been observing every day and recording and monitoring and looking at data for two and half years, and at no time did the basic principles I’ve discussed ever fail to happen as time progressed, up to today. Reductionist math doesn’t explain observations.

        Let’s get to an example. Everyone can keep an eye on this. Yesterday it was pretty warm in the US except the Upper Great Lakes area where I live. There were warm temp records set yesterday in Culpepper County Virginia – the highest temperature there since 1964. Let’s look at the similarities of what happened yesterday, in 1964, and what I am saying happens during the solar minimums, like in 1878, when there was a monster ENSO.

        Solar insolation at any location is a function of time of year due to the angle of incidence of sunlight, and the TSI (including UV), and cloud cover (albedo). If you watch water vapor/cloud cover off the Pacific every day along with TSI, eventually you’ll notice that higher evaporation ie more clouds stream off the subsolar point throughout the year, even on short time scales, when TSI spikes, where that energy and moisture then travels north in the NH, dumping on the US, creating floods and other extreme events. The converse is also true. Since TSI has recently tanked for the past few weeks, the cloud cover has dropped off, the skies have cleared, allowing for higher insolation under less windy and more stagnant skies, and the US UV index has risen lately, even though TSI has dropped recently.

        Temps were hot yesterday near and northward from the areas of highest UV index, where the heat traveled through the day, that clashed with the polar vortex’s cold air, creating the low pressure system in our area, dumping all that snow I just shoveled. Temps were high yesterday where solar insolation (& UVI) were high.

        This UV map is for today. Yesterday’s was not much different.

        The US UVI average over the 58 locations on their map was 5.5 last week, up from 3.8 on March 1, and it peaked at 6.2 yesterday. Solar flux yesterday was 82 sfu, expected to drop to 78 today by the USAF.

        In 1964, when Culpepper had last record set, the solar flux averaged 72.4 sfu/day, and in that summer, it was down to 67, solar minimum conditions. I think the conditions could have been very similar in 1964 as yesterday: high insolation with relatively high UV accompanied by low evaporation and mostly clear skies, allowing heat to build rapidly in one day.

        In 1878 there was a monster El Nino during solar minimum conditions, when the v2 SSNs only averaged 14 per month from May of 1875 to Dec of 1879, exceeding 30 in a month only three times during that span. Same effect, different years.

        http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/enso/mei.ext/table.ext.html

        That’s why I think there are two kinds of solar ENSOs – post-solar minimum and post-solar maximum, and in some cases of high solar activity, a couple ENSO events are possible after the cycle peak, as was the case in SC23.

        The warmists will claim CO2 did it. What kind of ‘math’ do we need to calculate what I just illustrated?

      • To be clear, it was warmer in Iowa yesterday than Texas because the wind from Texas blew that hot air northward straight into the low pressure system, and from the other surrounding areas.

      • What kind of ‘math’ do we need to calculate what I just illustrated?

        I’d say you first need data. A lot of data. Data that backs up the correlations that you observed.
        As far as the math…. above my pay grade.
        But you also still need causation. So if your observations are born about by the data, you still need a physical mechanism to drive them. Also above my pay grade.

    • “I just cannot condone the idea that heat can build up without additional outside energy in, and I can’t condone ignoring the fact that there was indeed ENSOs during/after additional energy times from the sun. The synchronicity of the high TSI times and El Ninos should not be ignored, but explored further”

      I believe that we should not ignore any correlation e.g. TSI could be a trigger that changes air and ultimately water currents. Earth’s systems are a web – not lineal pathways involving few components

      • Thank you and that should be slightly modified to say

        “I just cannot condone the idea that heat can build up without additional outside energy in, … unless the skies are clear enough, which appears to often occur under low solar activity conditions.

  27. “Corrected for albedo (30%) and normalized for curvature of earth and day night cycle, that leaves an effective change in TSI of 0.175 w/m2..”

    Actually it’s 0.0175 w/m^2.

    And denizens … The PDO/ENSO cycle has been going on for millennia, err without it driving continued warming.
    It is tuned to the Earth’s orbital characteristics re TSI absorbed, LWIR emitted and atmospheric opacity (in and out).
    It does not, cannot, cause overall, chronic warming.
    It is merely a storage radiator for the atmosphere and what it disgorges to it in the short term it will necessarily absorb to stabilise. You cannot lift yourself up by your own braces.
    It’s energy comes from the Sun. Full stop.
    The Sun has been cooling (overall) for 50 years.
    The thermal capacity of the oceans is vast.
    If there were any other source of energy warming ocean currents we would bloody well know about it, not least via vast convective overturning over any sea-bed hot-spots.
    EN/LN SHOULD be a harmonic on top of a neutral trend. That they are not is because of the background and increasing attenuation of the out part of the equation …. And science knows what is causing that.

    • Toneb

      Much if this is true and important.
      However the point being made is not that “warming is always and only caused by ENSO”, but rather, that there exists a mode of natural variability and oscillation in climate and global temperature, associated for instance with PDO and AMO oscillations. And that ENSO is an important part of the mechanism by which these oscillations change global climate, naturally with no human involvement.

      The PDO and AMO are actually part of a global oceanic oscillatory system c.f. Wyatt and Curry’s “stadium wave” ( https://judithcurry.com/2013/10/10/the-stadium-wave/ ) plus Bob Tisdales analysis in which they are two sides of the same coin. The role of the oceans in climate is to move heat from the equator poleward. The oceanic oscillations represent flips between alteriative modes or attractors in the ocean circulation which causes poleward heat transfer – making this transfer alternately faster (warming period) and slower (cooling). Since the major el Nino-La Nina episodes cause a substantial pulse of poleward warm water transfer (e.g. 1997-1999) then it makes perfect sense for ENSO to be at the heart of this natural oscillatory system.


      The thermal capacity of the oceans is vast.
      If there were any other source of energy warming ocean currents we would bloody well know about it

      Yes there is and we do know about it. You yourself know about it. You said it yourself in the preceding sentence. “The thermal capacity of the oceans is vast”. You answered your own question just before you asked it. The heat resident in the ocean is quite sufficient to serve up centuries and millennia of climate change, primarily by changes in vertical mixing combined with poleward transport, without there needing to be any change whatsoever in the total climate (atmosphere-ocean) heat budget.

      This is the central point that despite your considerable erudition in these matters, your CAGW community somehow fails to see. On timescales as long as century, the climate system can almost be considered as adiabatic. Due – as you correctly say yourself – to the vast heat capacity of the oceans.
      “Science” needs to join the dots and get the bigger picture.

      • “The heat resident in the ocean is quite sufficient to serve up centuries and millennia of climate change, primarily by changes in vertical mixing combined with poleward transport, without there needing to be any change whatsoever in the total climate (atmosphere-ocean) heat budget.”
        This sounds plausible from a purely energy point of view. The surface could warm if energy from the oceans were transported to the surface for decades or centuries. If this is the mechanism for recent warming, we should see the ocean heat content reduce as the atmosphere warms. I do not believe we are seeing this. Is this because we are not measuring in the right places?

    • “The Sun has been cooling (overall) for 50 years.”

      That’s kind of a loaded statement. TSI in SC19 was the highest in our time, and we can know that by understanding the relationship between the solar indices F10.7cm radio flux and TSI, and applying that relationship to the F10.7cm record which goes back to 1947.

      The years 1956-60 endured the longest and strongest stretch of high F10.7cm in the record. That’s how I know TSI was higher then. So technically yes, the sun has been ‘cooling’ compared to that, but…

      The problem with most analyses thus far is the failure to recognize that high TSI x (times) Time builds energy into the system, clearly evident in the data. SC21-23 through 2003 were plenty potent enough to drive warming, as was the peak of SC24, even though the sun wasn’t as active then as it was during SC19.

      That determination is only possible if it is known exactly how much TSI is necessary to just maintain the temperature in equilibrium…

      ftp://ftp.geolab.nrcan.gc.ca/data/solar_flux/monthly_averages/solflux_monthly_average.txt

  28. I hate to keep harping about this but please, it only takes a second but can you please, please tell us to whom you are addressing answers, it gets ( to me anyway) really confusing. Thanks

  29. Bob Tisdale April 3, 2016 at 4:56 pm
    “Great big assumption on your part, vukcevic, that the redistributed warm waters following an El Niño are limited to the surface.”

    Mr. Tisdale, thanks for the comment. However it still doesn’t explain process of continuous global warming by el Ninos.
    Any El Nino associated currents flowing away from the Equator, same as in case of other major currents e.g. Kurosiwo (Japan current), Gulf and N. Atlantic drift Current keep globe warmer than it would be without their presence.
    To make globe increasingly warmer these currents need to increase the heat transport (volume or temperature) moving more heat away from the Equator pole-ward.
    Ergo, equatorial seas are absorbing more heat from the sun (apparently sun is ‘constant’ another fallacy) or the currents are getting stronger (I am not aware of direct evidence of that being so).
    El Nino and la Nina are short lasting events which may temporarily intervene in the heat transport process, but are unlikely to contiguously power it (el Nino) as it is in the case of 1930s or ‘modern warming’ or interrupt it (la Nina) as in case of number of global cooling periods such as LIA, 1900s and 1960-70’s cooling.
    There is a more fundamental physical process governing N. Hemisphere’s warming and cooling, the fact is the science isn’t settled as yet.

  30. About Indian southwest monsoon precipitation versus El Nino & La Nina — Dr. B. Parthasarathy and his group published the precipitation data at sub-divisional level for 12 months, seasons and annual and finally for India. This data covered upto 1994. A copy this book was sent to me by Dr. B. Parthasarathy, a close friend of mine. Based on this data, I analysed for all-India Southwest Monsoon precipitation; Andhra Pradesh [a state in India comprises 3 sub-divisions] precipitation data for Southwest Monsoon and Northeast Monsoon were also analysed and presented them in my book “Andhra Pradesh Agriculture: Scenario of the last four decades in 2000.

    The All-India Southwest Monsoon precipitation presented a 60-year cycle; by 1987 two full cycles have been completed. In the above the average 30-year period more wet years and less dry years and vice versa with the next 30 year below the average period were observed.

    In the case of Andhra Pradesh precipitation, the two monsoons presented 56-year cycle but in opposite direction. The frequency of occurrence of cyclones in Bay of Bengal followed northeast monsoon 56-year cycle. However, annual data series presented 132 years cycle. The present cycle ended in 2000 and started the below the average part of 66-year cycle in 2001 — since then on majority of the years dry conditions were seen [including the last two seasons — water availability in dams also reflected this].

    The data after 1994 was built by other new group as Dr. B. Parthasarathy retired and staying in Hyderabad. He helped me getting the extension data from 1995 onwards but I found something wrong in that data. Neither it followed La Nina or 60-year cycle clearly. I brought to the notice of Dr. B. Parthasarathy the same.

    Here, after brought out the 60-year cycle, my self and Krishna Kumar has an opportunity to be on the same floor to talk in Mumbai on an invitation. He was associated with IPCC. Also, few others from this institute [friends of Dr. Shukla] were members of IPCC reports.

    Also, individual state governments disputed with the IMD on drought conditions in their states.

    There is a need to re-look in to the precipitation data of IITM after 1994.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  31. Reality shows climate is self regulating – no exaggeated need for climate prediction.

    On the other hand ever refined, enhanced weather forecast leads to better understanding of climate. – in the long run

  32. Most of the weather related Physics here is beyond my detailed understanding, But you used the Chaos Theory and I had my own corollary. If a nuclear bomb explodes over Japan it has no effect on the weather in California. In other words you can make huge changes which will have no effect on the final outcome.

    Explanation: from Chaos theory they often used as an example is the Butterfly wings which represent a small input perturbation, the result in a chaotic system is a huge perturbation on the output. Conversely in a chaotic system a huge input perturbation can result in a small to none output perturbation.

  33. Thanks Dr Ball for another great post. In my view the central comment you make comes very early in your piece and it is this: ‘whatever was causing El Niño to change was also causing the Circumpolar Vortex to change. That same cause of the change was also affecting other changes of heat balance and redistribution by global wind patterns.’

    Another way of representing this phenomenon of ‘heat balance and redistribution by global wind patterns’ is via what is known to Climate Science (even of the IPCC variety) as the ‘Annular Modes’ that were known to earlier observers as the Arctic Oscillation and the Antarctic Oscillation including the North Atlantic Oscillation as a local variant.Those who best documented these modes of natural climate variation DAVID W. J. THOMPSON AND JOHN M. WALLACE have no idea of what causes them but they have clearly established that change in the stratosphere precedes change at the surface.

    These are ‘annular or ring like modes of surface pressure variation’ whereby atmospheric mass departs high latitudes under the influence of an intensification of polar cyclone activity driven by extremes in air density between ozone warmed air and air that remains cold because its ozone deficient. There is a layer in the atmosphere between about 8km and 15km in elevation in the high and mid latitudes where these extreme differences in air density are responsible for very strong winds called jet Streams. The Circumpolar Vortex in Antarctica that forms up with great intensity in winter marks the boundary between ozone deficient air descending from the mesosphere over the Antarctic continent and ozone rich air on the margins of the continent. The Antarctic situation is the classic mode, the Arctic bastardised by the distribution of land and sea that plays havoc with pressure relativities in winter.

    ENSO too is a surface pressure driven phenomenon that relates to the strength of the planetary winds that introduce cold up-welling waters into the tropical circulation. Change the wind intensity and you change the composition of the waters by introducing more or less cold water on the eastern perimeter of the ocean basin. If you introduce more cold water by intensifying the circulation you also hasten the exit of warm waters to higher latitudes on the western perimeter of the ocean basin. Result is a cooling of the equatorial stream. This phenomenon manifests most strongly in the Pacific because of the intensity of the large, almost stationary high pressure cell that sets up on the western side of South America strongly reflects mass transfer dynamics in the atmosphere. That means when pressure falls at 60-70° south on the margins of the Antarctic continent it rises very strongly in this zone. Surface pressure on the western margins where the waters are warmest varies little. But if you plot equatorial surface pressure against sea surface temperature in the tropics the two fit like a glove.

    The amount of warm versus cold water present in the tropics is soon reflected in the global temperature statistics because the tropics have a very large surface area. Think of it this way. A woman changes from a blue dress to an red dress. Is she the same woman underneath?

    The real action in terms of energy entering or being excluded from the system relates to cloud albedo and it happens in the mid latitudes. I describe it here: https://reality348.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/3-how-the-earth-warms-and-cools-naturally/

    The key insight in this dialogue is the connection between the ozone content of the air and surface pressure that was noticed as soon as Dobson started using his spectrophotometer to measure total column ozone in the 1920’s. TCO on the margin of a high pressure cell is 25% greater than at its core. In high latitudes ozone maps atmospheric temperature, geopotential height and surface pressure.In the mid latitudes the descent of ozone in high pressure cells raises geopotential height at 500 hPa and we observe that surface temperature rises with it. Albedo changes with 500hPa height.

    Surface pressure drives the planetary winds.that takes us back to Dr Balls ‘global wind patterns’. You open your front door in the morning and notice the wind direction and the temperature of the air varies together. If it has an equatorial origin its warm and moist, a polar origin and its cold and dry.

    RM Goody wrote that ‘The idea is now gaining ground that , from the dynamical standpoint, the stratosphere and the troposphere should be treated as a single entity’. Page 125, Chapter 5, Winds and Turbulence in THE PHYSICS OF THE STRATOSPHERE. Cambridge University Press 1954.

    Unfortunately, the successor of Dobson and Brewer at Cambridge, a fellow named Sir John Houghton took climate science down a very different path. His ideas better fitted the temper of the day and he was rewarded accordingly. Entirely natural, no funny business, just natural selection at work.

Comments are closed.