Conditions for formation of Super El Ninos determined

Pools of warm water known as Kelvin waves can be seen traveling eastward along the equator (black line) in this Sept. 17, 2009, image from the NASA/French Space Agency Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason-2 satellite. El Ninos form when trade winds in the equatorial western Pacific relax over a period of months, sending Kelvin waves eastward across the Pacific like a conveyor belt. Image credit: NASA/JPL Ocean Surface Topography Team

A University of Aizu team has identified two distinct Indo-Pacific processes shaping the unique features and extraordinary ferocity of super El Ninos. A systematic analysis of these processes and their interactions will improve forecasts of the elusive super El Ninos, the researchers claim.

“Until recently, scientists believed that climate and weather processes operating within the Pacific Ocean could explain the occurrence of super El Ninos. The infamously failed prediction of a super El Nino event in 2014 had its root in these assumptions,” says Saji Hameed from the University of Aizu, who led the study.

To unveil the mechanisms of super El Ninos, Hameed and his colleagues conducted computational simulations that recreated selected Pacific Ocean processes involved in the generation of El Ninos. To their surprise, they discovered a mechanism embedded within the Pacific Ocean, which prevented sea surface temperatures in the far-eastern Pacific rising too far above normal.

“Extremely warm  are a notable feature of the super El Ninos that occurred in 1972, 1982, and 1997. The fact that Pacific Ocean processes responsible for generating regular El Ninos could not explain this key signature of super El Ninos came as a big shock,” says Dachao Jin, co-author of the study.

Noting that the years of super El Ninos co-occurred with Indian Ocean Dipole events (a phenomenon similar to El Nino, but generated by processes inherent to the Indian Ocean), the researchers explored possible mechanisms linking both phenomena. They found that while Pacific processes are needed to initiate El Ninos, it was the extra energy generated by the Indian Ocean Dipole, and transferred to the Pacific through atmospheric pathways, which eventually transformed the El Nino into a super El Nino event.

“A model for super El Ninos’ was published in Nature Communications.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-04803-7

 Explore further: Cause of El Nino abnormality found

More information: Saji N. Hameed et al. A model for super El Niños, Nature Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04803-7

 

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78 thoughts on “Conditions for formation of Super El Ninos determined

  1. researchers discover when it’s already warm…it’s easier to get warmer

    ….film at 11

  2. Warmistas and ‘Climate Scientists’ lie awake late at night, dreaming of the extraordinary ferocity of super El Ninos, and praying that there will be a succession of them , in the next few years, to raise the World temperature by any noticeable degree.

      • Except when you calibrate your model using only one half of a natural cycle, then use the same natural cycle as proof that your model is working.

      • Yet the natural cycle has been indistinguishable or greater than the “signal” except when teased out by back dated adjustments and heroic math.
        If it is so subtle that it can barely be detected, is it a crisis?

    • So far as I know, super El Ninos are not a product of a warming climate! They are a natural phenomenon. The reason why it is important to understand super El Ninos is because they have different impacts from regular El Ninos.

    • Except it came from above with “atmospheric pathways.” I’m not sure that rises above data fishing expeditions.

      • Fish themselves actually fly through the air from the Indian Ocean all the way to the east equatorial Pacific, along these very Elon Musk-like atmospheric pathways. It’s published in Nature so it must be true. What a time to be a scientist!

      • The atmosphere is connected all round the earth, unlike the oceans. The atmospheric pathways refer to very long waves in the atmospheric flow that carry information from one region to the other.

  3. “Until recently, scientists believed…”

    I cannot count on all my appendages combined the number of times I’ve heard this phrase used in the context of something or other having to with the climate of the planet.

    Makes you feel good to be skeptical.

    • It’s not hard to be skeptical when all models are wrong, some are useful.

      They just refuse to publicly acknowledge this fact.

  4. This is a good use of models, exploring processes that you don’t understand.

    Models are also good for helping you find out what it is you don’t know.

    • Thus far but let’s see the model tested and shown to have predictive value in the real world. Climate “scientists” always seem to forget that step.

    • Yep, it helps you form an hypothesis. Then you sit back and see if Mother Nature agrees.

      • That’s the crux. You believe that your model is correct while everything correlates. Then it doesn’t, and you suddenly have a dud model again.

        • A dud model is just evidence that there is something going on that you don’t understand yet.
          There is information to be gleaned even from a failed prediction.

          • ” Failed Predictions” MarkW, you left off the S. But you would never know AGW has had any failed Predictions, let alone all of them, and then take credit for things they didn’t predict, like snow.

      • The people in charge of creating “climate modeling” computer programs should start “modeling” what Mother Nature has been doing ……… instead of “modeling” what they desperately want Mother Nature to be doing in future months and years.

      • Exactly! If it does not, we throw out the model. Here, we used model in the sense of “here is a set of essential mechanisms that may explain key aspects of the phenomenon”.

    • Models have no intelligence whatsoever and they will not tell you anything you did not know already and programmed in as an input , Garbage in garbage out , the better the computer the faster it spits out your garbage , that’s all there is to models.

      • So says the man who has never worked with models.
        Models can give you insights into interactions that you would never have guessed on your own.
        Such as the insights gathered in the story above.

        • Those insights do not require the model. The model is a sophisticated calculator with graphical output. The chances of the model giving an incorrect answer increase with the complexity of the phenomenon modeled. And it is valid that anything that is ignored will not make it to the model, and with something so complex as the climate, a lot of things are unknown, and therefore missing from the models.

          When you cannot trust the calculations of models because of their incompleteness or the likely presence of errors, as in climate, models become exclusively learning tools. The problem arises when they are used for policy decisions.

          • The chances of the model giving an incorrect answer increase with the complexity of the phenomenon modeled.

            It is impossible for anyone to creates a functional computer “modeling” program for a known “entity” that has fifty (50) to a hundred (100) randomly occurring “input” criteria/variables.

            The chances of such a “model” of ever being correct is “50 factorial” ..… to …… “100 factorial”.

  5. Archeology suggests that there have been hyper El Ninos during the last millennium. These were so severe that the coastal people could no longer support themselves by fishing and abandoned coastal cities. Some of these cities were then destroyed by extreme rains due to the increased humidity in the area coming up against the Andes. Most of the sources appear to date several of these in the first half of the second millennium.

    It would be interesting to note what the descent into the colder period after 1305 had on triggering these insofar as changing the ocean currents and triggering them.

  6. “The infamously failed prediction of a super El Nino event in 2014…”
    It is unclear if that means the super El Nino was predicted and didn’t happen (failed to appear) or if there was a failure to predict – a more literal interpretation – of an El Nino which DID appear. Confused!

    • sorry, that was written in haste! A super El Nino was predicted to occur that year..the event failed to appear.

      saji

  7. “…conducted computational simulations…”

    Let’s be clear here, the researchers haven’t proven or discovered a stinkin’ thing. Computational simulations only construct a hypothesis, they don’t prove a damn thing. To prove something, now the researchers would have to go collect data. Don’t scientists do that anymore?

    • All they have to do is make a prediction that comes true, a few times. That will validate the model. After that, they can legitimately say they are making predictions.

      I congratulate them on their progress in understanding super El Ninos. Is there anything solar that coincides with these two coincidental, required phenomena?

    • You are making two assumptions Bob
      1 They can’t tell the difference.
      2 A good model should be discarded because it is not a perfect model and
      3 Models haven’t improve because they can’t improve.

  8. “Hameed and his colleagues conducted computational simulations that recreated selected Pacific Ocean processes involved in the generation of El Ninos.”

    I think the key word is ‘selected’ here. Does nature run on selected processes only?
    This sounds to me like an admission of the inability to model ALL of the formative processes of the ENSO.
    Did I misread this?

    • gymnosperm
      The 2016 El Niño was a minor Modoki one (warming in mid not eastern equatorial Pacific, no run of the Bjerknes feedback). The only reason it shows such a high temperature peak and is considered “super” is that it coincided with a fraudulent manipulation of the Pacific SST baselines which was performed to transform slow incipient global cooling into uninterrupted ongoing global warming.

    • We have discussed the strong El Nino event that happened in 2015/16, and show that it cannot be classified as a super El Nino. A large part of the warming is due to processes not associated with El Nino — this additional warming was due to more slowly varying changes in the decadal time scale. This may explain why countries like Peru did not suffer the floods that they were expected to experience, or regions like Southern California.

  9. So, what would be an experiment or data set to collect over the next few decades that would support this hypothesis? The answer can’t be more modeling or money for faster computers.

    • jeanparisot,

      they should be, and probably are, currently collecting the data associated with the aforesaid “selected Pacific Ocean processes” so that they can predict the next “super El Nino” like 6 months to 1 year before it actually occurs.

  10. From looking at recent Pacific equatorial temps, and to the consternation of CAGW advocates, it seems the current El Nino cycle will likely be a dud.

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/anim/wkxzteq_anm.gif

    Since relatively good ocean temperature data became available from the 1960’s, Super El Nino events occur every 10~15 years, and CAGW advocates constantly exploit this natural phenomenon to support their manmade CO2 forcing narrative; hogwash….

    There are obviously multiple natural climatic phenomena that interact to create Super El Nino events. Unfortunately, since CAGW advocates only wish to falsely blame manmade CO2 emissions for most natural climatic events, the actual processes will continue to remain a mystery..

    It’s encouraging to see that at least some researchers are trying to do their jobs, rather than just being tedious cheerleaders for CAGW sc@m.

    • Arm-waving bollocks. Not a shread of evidence for all that frothing and gnashing and wailing. And what’s more: “the current El Nino cycle will likely be a dud”, your link shows nothing of the sort.

      • Well indirectly that link does. A more appropriate link would be tracking upper ocean heat anomaly which always leads the strength of the coming El Nino and that has flat lined for the past 2-3 months below +1.

        Both the 97 and 2015 Ninos had +2 values by late NH winter and Spring leading the Nino SST peak around the following October, November and December. i.e. about a 6 month lead time.

        The current Upper Ocean heat anomaly implies this event is limited in strength. Likely weak, moderate at best. Super Nino is off the table as an option.
        .
        http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_update/heat-last-year.gif

  11. The CO2 increase flux =2W/m^2 from back radiation (if it exists to any degree) cannot warm the oceans because 50W/m^2 is removed by upward IR and another 64 W/m^2 by evaporation. Warm water evaporates quicker than cold water so if temp goes up more evaporation happens. The oceans control temp. NOT CO2.

  12. Just to update everyone about predictions of moderate to strong El Ninos using the Perigean New/Full moon tidal cycles. N.B. I am deliberately not giving the full picture to protect my attempts to publish this hypothesis in detail.

    I have been predicting a moderate to strong El Nino event starting around July 2019. This prediction is based upon the assumption that the 31-year period between 1994 and 2025 – moderate to strong El Nino events occur when the line-of-apse of the lunar orbit points directly towards (or away) from the Sun at the time of the Vernal or Autumnal Equinoxes. This happens about every 4.5 years e.g. the strong El Ninos in 1997-98 and 2015-16 are 18 years apart in time (4 x 4.5 years = 18 years).

    The problem with this prediction is that boundary years between 31-year periods slowly drift out of close alignment. It all boils down to the fact that the end of the 31-year epoch that starts in 1994.237 is not necessarily in 2025.243. Most likely, the epoch boundary marked by the strongest spring tidal events that align with the Spring Equinox near 2025.243 (i.e. March 29th 15:15 UT 2025) would move back in time by 4.531 years to a new epoch boundary marked by the strongest spring tidal events that align with the Autumnal Equinox near 2020.712 (i.e. September 17th 17:33 U.T. 2020). This would produce a series of 31-year epochs (starting with strong spring tides that are aligned with the Autumnal Equinox) in the years 2020, 2051, 2082, 2113, and 2144 that closely match the series of 31-year epochs (starting with strong spring tides that are aligned with the Spring Equinox) in the years 1870, 1901, 19 32, 1963, and 1994.

    This means that 2020 marks a transitional between consecutive 31-year lunar tidal epochs and during these 9.0-year time span it is possible for moderate to strong El Ninos to take place when the lunar line-of-apse aligns with the Sun at the times of the Equinoxes or the times of the Solstices. Hence, between about 2016 and 2025, I cannot be completely sure which of these two possibilities can occur.

    There is nothing I can do about the uncertainty in predicting the start of EL Nino events in this time period (i.e. 2016 to 2025) until we have a better understanding of the mechanism involved.

    • La Niña’s have occurred at the boundary of each solar cycle since 1964, which puts it in 2019/2020 or so. So your theory is in conflict with this. But the good news is in 3 years or so, we will know which is the better predictor! Actual, real-world results to test an assumption … a novelty in this area of science.

      • rbabcock,

        Our predictions regarding La Nina events (as opposed to El Nino events) is based upon the premise that they appear to cluster round time periods that are separated by approximately 11.0 years. Since the last La Nina period was around 2010-11, this would place the next period favoring La Nina events around 2021-22, not 2019-20.

        However, given the fact that there is still considerable uncertainty around the actual mechanism that links the level of solar activity to periodic increases in the upwelling cool deep ocean water associated with the Humbolt current, our prediction is no more than an educated guess at this stage.

  13. They can not even forecast ordinary ENSO changes. In addition it is natural and transient not a climatic factor in the overall scheme of things.

    Overall sea surface temperatures much more important which have and are in an overall down trend now going on for a year. Global overall temperatures responding with 2018 running colder then 2017 with more to come.

    I have called for year 2018 to be the transitional year with more cooling after that, due to my solar/geo magnetic climate impact theory.

    The theory in a sentence is low solar enhanced by a weakening geo magnetic field will result in overall lower sea surface temperatures and a slight increase in albedo.

  14. “…that occurred in 1972, 1982, and 1997”

    10 yrs and 15 yrs apart. So aren’t we due for another one? Maybe the solar cycles also have a play in these?

  15. The Indian Ocean is impacted by the ENSO after the fact. It plays no role at all in the development of the process.

  16. El Ninos certainly affects the Peruvian anchoveta population and always have. That was known well before the 72 El Nino. And while El Nino played a roll in the temporary collapse of the fishery, it was gross overfishing that played the overriding role. The fishery had become over capitalized after WWII and not just in the numbers of boats but expanding use of technology to find fish. Experts had been brought in prior to the 1972 El Nino because it had long been understood that the anchoveta abundance was dramatically influenced by ENSO events and the concerns caused by obvious overcapitalization. The experts made recommendations about the size of the fleet and what to do during an El Nino. Those recommendations were ignored, especially after record landings in 1971. Then the 1972 El Nino happened. The fleet fished the anchoveta that remained to near extinction. Luckily, anchoveta are very resilient, having long adapted to ENSO, and since have returned in relative abundance.

    • Right, the overfishing played the largest part in declines. I grew up in San Francisco, and distinctly remember the decline of all fish stocks and shellfish from the 1950s into the 1960s and on.

    • Yes, you are absolutely right. It was the gross overfishing, but El Nino made a name for itself thanks to the dramatic turn of events!

  17. well …. now that they have a model ….. what is their prediction as to when the next super El Niño will occur?

  18. “The fact that Pacific Ocean processes responsible for generating regular El Ninos could not explain this key signature of super El Ninos came as a big shock,” says Dachao Jin, co-author of the study.”

    –> The fact that Pacific Ocean COMPUTER MODELLED processes responsible for generating regular El Ninos could not explain this key signature of super El Ninos came as a big shock,” says Dachao Jin, co-author of the study.
    _____________________________________________________

    models are models are models are …

    ad infinitum. ad lib.

  19. For the non-Japanese among us, the University of Aizu is in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Yes, that Fukushima.

  20. This paper is unbelievable rubbish. I visited the online paper – full text – and searched for “upwelling”. No hits. I searched for “Bjerknes”. No hits.

    El Niño-La Nina (ENSO) is a coupled intermittent nonlinear oscillation linking Peruvian upwelling with the east to west blowing equatorial trade winds. This is the Bjerknes feedback discovered by, um, Bjerknes, the Norwegian oceanographer.

    The millennial research community have forgotten Bjerknes and are now trying to explain an oceanic phenomenon while ignoring the ocean.

    This is like trying to explain chemical reactions while ignoring electrons, looking only at protons, neutrons and gravity. Or to explain the orbits of planets and stars while ignoring gravity, looking only at electromagnetism and a planet’s surface colour.

    ENSO is nothing to do with frickin meteorology! It’s about the Humbolt current and Peruvian upwelling. And maybe the ocean-driven trade winds whose existence depends on gradients of ocean surface temperature.

    • Joe Bastardi is working on this on his daily free met report (http://www.weatherbell.com/). He use his stock of analogues to help with short term forecasting, which calls for more work than your average Climatista seems to put in.
      He notes a cold Indan Ocean eastern dipole and can give a good guess from experience at near-future seasonal USA weather. All in public, so we can all learn with him.
      The Humboldt current, well that has its own sources around the might of Antarctica as well as what comes from the tropical west….
      Joe B’s use of analogues reminds me of how Lorentzian Chaos works – once set in motion, predictable from initial condition. But not before. So keeping proper records should not be neglected.
      Bob Tisdale really cracked ENSO and we should remember that too. Thanks Bob, you’re a Beaut.
      The current Quiet Sun is, after due lag, seeming to weaken the ENSO by less deep solar ocean heating equatorally. We are finding that has power as a predictor.
      The likes of Ian Wilson may wish to comment on initiators such as lunar crossings to the north of the equator…. But we do seem to see the effects of reduced solar energy input to Kelvin waves. As Bob Tisdale says, Charge-Discharge operates, and it needs solar recharge.

      • “Joe B’s use of analogues reminds me of how Lorentzian Chaos works – once set in motion, predictable from initial condition.”

        Joe has also noted that low solar is associated with El Nino, that’s a negative climate feedback and nothing to do with chaos.

        “The current Quiet Sun is, after due lag, seeming to weaken the ENSO by less deep solar ocean heating equatorally (sic)”

        A quiet Sun increases El Nino conditions, and we very recently had a super El Nino. And with the decline in solar wind pressure since the mid 1990’s, tropical low cloud cover has declined, allowing increased ocean heating.

  21. “To unveil the mechanisms of super El Ninos, Hameed and his colleagues conducted computational simulations that recreated selected Pacific Ocean processes involved in the generation of El Ninos. To their surprise, they discovered a mechanism embedded within the Pacific Ocean, which prevented sea surface temperatures in the far-eastern Pacific rising too far above normal.”

    What!?
    Where did they buy their computer code? Or did it arrive in a Cracker Jack box?

    Now, predict the next dozen El Ninos and report your research after getting multiple accurate predictions. Predictions stated and documented now! Not revealed as a surprise after the El Ninos occur.

    The assumption is that this fancy surprising computational codes identify and predict all precursors, each ocean section state and all post occurrences.

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