Curious Correlations

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Grrrrr … gotta pull this one. The effect I found was due to the interaction of the El Nino with the seasons. Once I removed that, very different results. When I’m wrong, I’m wrong, no getting around that.

Ah, well. I’ll return to this subject of correlations with Nino/Nina, it’s an interesting one.


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Jimmy Haigh
May 10, 2019 6:58 pm


Richard Chenoweth
May 10, 2019 7:08 pm

willis many thanks for what you do, and to make us think,

Ed Bo
May 10, 2019 7:11 pm


Thanks for this. Very intriguing!

Now I’ll have to re-read Judith Curry’s stuff on the Stadium Wave hypothesis. Similar flavor.

May 10, 2019 7:21 pm

Clearly it’s because hot air rises, and cold air sinks. So the Northern hemisphere should get hotter and the Southern hemisphere should get colder…

May 10, 2019 7:36 pm

I would say that when the southern hemisphere starts a positive correlation that is when the global warming scenario would be scary.

Danley Wolfe
May 10, 2019 7:51 pm

Hot air rises and cold air sinks….because the Northern hemisphere is “above” the Southern hemisphere? Also this sounds like the political environment in Washington DC, a hot air political ping pong game.

May 10, 2019 8:02 pm

Willis it would be useful if you could give a clearer indication of the colour scale. What range does each colour represent ? yellow is labelled “0.1”, presumably starting at zero but is it 0-0.1 ; 0-0.2 , what happens with the other bands which are not equally spaced.

The green land area at 5 mo is interesting in that it is very well defined but if it is just 0.1 it does not have much explanatory power. It probably reflects the different heat capacity and thus reaction time of land and reflects one of my persistent gripes about attempts to “average” land and sea temperatures. One can average heat content but not temperature.

Generally a very thought provoking dig into the data, clearer info on the colour scale would make it more informative. Thanks.

May 10, 2019 8:19 pm

Is there an audio version of this for us color blind people Willis?
(just kidding)

Dr Deanster
May 10, 2019 8:25 pm

Just another example of how the whole global warming hoax is merely a misinterpretation of energy moving around in the system. Willis …. I got ya another project. The pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans make up 90% of the worlds oceans. Thus just a fraction of the energy from the Atlantic and pacific moving into the Arctic Ocean would be enough to cause a huge anomaly in the arctic, while barely being noticed in the Atlantic and pacific. … whallah, global warming.

Reply to  Dr Deanster
May 12, 2019 11:45 pm

Yep, same thing with warming on Antarctic peninsula. Froehm winds transfer heat from surrounding seas to land and the leeward side of mountains, so increasing wind warms land at expense of SST.

The problem is that land has about half the specific heat capacity of water so land warms twice as much as oceans cool with no net change in total heat energy. However, taking physically meaningless averages of land + sea shows an artificial “warming”, from which we incorrectly infer and increase in heat energy.

I think this was one thing that was shown in Willis’ correlation maps: the clear separation of land and sea at a lag of 5 months. This was almost certainly a similar, and real, effect and global averaging of temperature would produce some spurious warming/cooling.

I think Willis threw the baby out with the bath water in his haste to cover up what he felt was a mistake.

May 10, 2019 8:30 pm

Land / ocean ratio seems to be the big “thing” here – SH 1:4 (20% Land v 80% water), NH 1:1.5(60% land v 40% water).

The Eastern and Western hemispheres are an arbitrary division for climate purposes but looking from above the pacific at around 150 degrees west, that “side” of the Earth is well dominated by water and smack dab in the middle of all that ocean, is the NINO34 region!

Isn’t it wonderful that the Earth has this particular arrangement in the time we are living.

May 10, 2019 8:53 pm

In considering further work on this topic, you might want to review the study by Johnstone and Mantua, 2014.


Johnstone JA, Mantua NJ (2014) Atmospheric controls on northeast Pacific temperature variability and change, 1900–2012. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111(40):14360–14365

May 10, 2019 10:13 pm

Congratulations on admitting you mistake.

Now if we can get the climate “science” establishment to do the same we could get sensible policies.

Reply to  BillP
May 11, 2019 3:06 am

Policies? For what? Sun coming up? Seasons? Full Moon? Tides? Gravity? Tectonics?

Oh wait, the weather of course! That will keep them busy. 🙂

robbin harrell
Reply to  BillP
May 11, 2019 4:40 am

+1 on admitting your error. If everyone was like you, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in.
Thanks for showing how to lead…..

May 11, 2019 4:17 am

Shoot! Now I wish I had seen the original article.

Reply to  CoRev
May 11, 2019 8:17 am

Me too! Why not re-post the original article with the caveat that it is incorrect? I think Dr Feynman would have approved:

“One example of the principle is this: If you’ve made up your mind to test a theory, or you want to explain some idea, you should always decide to publish it whichever way it comes out. If we only publish results of a certain kind, we can make the argument look good. We must publish both kinds of result. ”

May 11, 2019 5:13 am

Another correlation: The sudden urgency from Juncker and others in the EU, the grandstanding of a Swedish teenager, the school climate protests, etc., all coming in the wake of the Yellow Vests in France. Coincidence? Unlikely. Causation? Mm, yeah, very likely.

bit chilly
Reply to  David
May 12, 2019 4:36 am

David, i believe the current push of CAGW is due to where the AMO cycle is at the moment.If co2 levels keep rising yet temperatures in the northern hemisphere drop over a significant period of time a lot of people are going to look very stupid.

This is the second year in a row where the prevailing winds in the UK during spring/early summer have been from the north round to the east.Two years is just weather, similar over the next ten years would be a return to patterns that prevailed during the run into ,through and out of the cool phase of the AMO last time around.

When i was a kid all the old small scale lobster and crab fishermen would keep their boats out of the water until the end of May as that is when they knew the rough weather from onshore winds would calm down. Cool phase of AMO should see a return to more traditional seasons here as well. Unless of course the anthropogenic component of atmospheric co2 really can bring about armageddon.

May 11, 2019 6:30 am

The current mini-El Nino is over – as far as I can see.comment image

Robert of Texas
May 11, 2019 7:57 am

Crud! You pulled it before I even saw it…one can learn just as much from seeing an original mistake as seeing a breakthrough – its good way to teach people how to better think critically. Oh well.

May 11, 2019 4:56 pm

Off to the Solomons with you to measure the difference between climate change and trade winds and don’t come back until you have the correct answer for us-

May 11, 2019 5:13 pm

Pulled b4 I saw it.
And now I want to see BOTH sets f correlations, as well as your current conclusions.

I have a “science T-shirt.” It shows a honey stick dripping honey and it says: Lord, make my words as sweet as honey, for tomorrow, I may have to eat them.

Joseph Murphy
May 12, 2019 9:33 am

I would still like to read it. If everyone only publishes positive results…

Reply to  Joseph Murphy
May 12, 2019 11:35 pm

Yes, I don’t see why this has to disappear from view !

If just an example of how easy it is get a spurious result or misinterpret data, it is valuable with a suitable disclaimer added at the top of the article.

The correlations were there mathematically, they were not an error. If El Nino is interacting with the seasons despite being N/S symmetric zone it is informative about something. The land / sea separation was also very clear and contains some real information.

It was a brief article and I don’t recall Willis drawing any real conclusions, just marking the patterns as interesting. Admitting when one has made a mistake is laudable, trying to hid ones tracks less so.

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