How the 2015 Major El Niño Was Predicted Years in Advance using a Lunar Cycle

By Javier Vinós

The Earth’s oceans contain a vast mass of cold water beneath a thin layer of warm water, and the limited amount of mixing between them plays a crucial role in our existence. Tides, primarily influenced by changes in the moon’s orbit, are the main force behind this mixing, which has the potential to cool the climate. Keeling, who pioneered CO2 measurements, believed this theory and predicted a cooling trend for the next decade. The impact of the 18.6-year lunar cycle on climate has been known for some time, but more recent research has revealed its influence on the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). In 2007, two Canadian scientists studying the effects of this cycle on the Pacific coast of North America successfully predicted the occurrence of a major El Niño event in 2015 based on lunar orbital data. Remarkably, their prediction proved accurate.

The potential uniqueness of the Earth-Moon system

When astrophysicists discuss the abundance of potentially habitable planets around Sun-like stars, they often overlook a crucial fact: Earth’s formation was probably an incredibly rare event. About 4.5 billion years ago, our planet was born from a chance collision between early Earth and a Mars-sized planet. This serendipitous event explains two extraordinary features of Earth that may be exceptionally rare among other Earth-like planets. The first remarkable feature is Earth’s large metallic core, which generates a strong magnetic field despite the planet’s size. This magnetic field plays an important role in protecting our atmosphere from the solar wind, preventing the loss of light gases. The second unusual aspect of Earth is that it has an unusually large satellite for its size. Normally, the mass ratio between a planet and its satellite is about 1:10,000. However, the Earth-Moon system has a mass ratio of only 1:81, so close that it is sometimes referred to as a double planet.

The presence of such a large satellite exerts a powerful influence on Earth. It may have been essential to the presence and maintenance of complex life over time. The gravitational pull of the Moon stabilizes the tilt of the Earth’s axis. A change in the axial tilt of the Earth of as little as 2.4° can lead to a glaciation. Thus, without the Moon, Earth’s climate may have been too unstable for complex life to evolve.

The main effect the Moon has on Earth is through its gravitational pull. This pull significantly affects Earth’s climate through the tides it produces in the ocean, atmosphere, and crust.

Tides’ effect on climate

The Moon’s orbit is tilted by 5° relative to Earth’s orbital plane, also known as the ecliptic (see Figure 1). The points where the Moon’s orbit intersects the ecliptic are called nodes. Eclipses occur only when the Moon is near a node and the line connecting the two nodes is aligned with the Sun. This alignment occurs approximately every six months, creating an eclipse season.

However, the Moon’s orbital plane around the Earth undergoes a gradual precession that causes one of the nodes to complete a full rotation relative to one of the equinoxes (the point where neither lunar pole points toward Earth) over a span of 18.61 years. This phenomenon is called the lunar nodal cycle. As a result of this precession, the 5° tilt of the Moon’s orbit is either added to or subtracted from the Earth’s axial tilt, resulting in a change in the Moon’s declination (its position relative to Earth’s equator). This declination varies from a maximum of 28.5° during a major lunar standstill (see here for a discussion of standstills) to a minimum of 18.5° during a minor lunar standstill, completing a full cycle over the course of 18.61 years. These changes affect Earth’s tidal patterns.

Figure 1. Elements of the lunar orbit. The lunar orbit around Earth has a 5° tilt (declination) with Earth’s ecliptic plane around the Sun (solar ecliptic). The Earth’s spin axis has a 23.5° declination relative to the solar ecliptic plane. The five degrees can add to the 23.5° for a major standstill or subtract for a minor standstill. Source: (Saraf, Zia, Das, Sharma, & Rawat, 2011).

Tides are a complex phenomenon. As a result of the Moon orbiting the Earth in the same direction as the Earth’s axial rotation, it takes 24.84 hours for the Moon to be over the same location, so there is a semidiurnal tide every 12.42 hours. But this is only one of the many constituents of the tides, and it is called M2 (M for Moon and 2 for being semidiurnal). The next constituent in strength is due to the lunar-solar declination. It is diurnal with a period of 23.93 hours, and it is called the K1 constituent. NASA animations of these basic tidal components can be seen here.

Since the strength of this diurnal tidal constituent is directly related to the declination of the Moon over the Earth’s equator, we observe an 18.6-year cycle in the strength of the lunisolar diurnal tide. The semi-diurnal tides are also affected but to a lesser extent. For example, the amplitudes of the largest diurnal and semi-diurnal tidal constituents, K1 and M2, vary by 13% and 5%, respectively, over an 18.6-year cycle.

The lunar nodal cycle influences surface ocean temperatures through vertical mixing, which is influenced by increased or decreased tidal currents depending on the phase of the cycle. Numerous studies analyzing oceanic and atmospheric time series have identified an 18.6-year cycle in sea surface temperature and sea level pressure at various locations in the Pacific and other regions. There is a large body of literature on this topic (Yasuda, 2018).

In the Pacific, two notable low-frequency oscillations affect sea surface temperature and sea level pressure. The first and most widely known is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). However, there is also a shorter-period low-frequency oscillation known as the North Pacific Bidecadal Oscillation. This oscillation was first discovered in Alaska in 1998. A year later, in 1999, Shoshiro Minobe established a correlation between the PDO and the Bidecadal Oscillation, showing that both oscillations occur in synchrony.[1]

Figure 2a shows the North Pacific Index (NPI) during winter (December to February). The NPI serves as an indicator of sea level pressure changes in the Aleutian Low, a large region in the North Pacific. It has a strong correlation with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). When the PDO reflects colder temperatures, the NPI shows higher pressure patterns and the other way around. The graph shows the NPI and two Gaussian smoothed curves. The thick solid line emphasizes the long-term, multi-decadal variation, while the thick dashed line represents the shorter-term, bidecadal variation.

Figure 2. Multidecadal oscillations of the North Pacific Index. (a) Winter NPI data and two Gaussian smoothed curves. (b) Wavelet analysis. Source: (Minobe, 1999).

Figure 2b from Minobe 1999 shows a wavelet analysis of the data. The graph illustrates time on one axis and frequency on another, while the third dimension is represented by the color scale indicates the pressure anomaly measured in hPa. This analysis identifies two prominent oscillations: one occurring every 60 years and another every 20 years. Significant climate shifts that cause sudden changes in the climate and ecology of the Pacific, such as the one in 1976 that triggered global warming, coincide with a simultaneous phase change in both oscillations.

Dave Keeling’s little-known tidal research

The ocean plays a critical role in moderating surface temperature variations on our planet. This fact is evident when comparing the greater seasonal temperature variations observed in continental climates compared to oceanic climates. Our existence depends on the lack of significant mixing between a thin layer of warm water, only a few hundred meters thick, on top of an icy cold ocean with an average temperature below 4°C.[2] Even a small increase in vertical mixing could be catastrophic. It is clear, then, that vertical mixing in the ocean has the potential to be a climatic factor. The only two forces that can influence this vertical mixing are the wind and the Moon, as they contribute the necessary mechanical energy to the ocean. The Moon contributes about 4 TW (terawatts) of energy, while the wind contributes about 2 TW.

Charles David Keeling (1928-2005) was an outstanding scientist. In the late 1950s, he established a meticulous system for accurately measuring the background concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Keeling’s dedication quickly led to the discovery that these concentrations were steadily increasing. Despite several attempts to shut down the Mauna Loa station due to budget cuts, he single-handedly ensured its continued operation. Many considered this ongoing effort costly and routine, but Keeling’s persistence prevailed. In recognition of his remarkable scientific achievements, he was awarded the 2002 National Medal of Science, the highest lifetime honor for scientific achievement in the United States. The atmospheric CO2 record at Mauna Loa, known as the “Keeling Curve,” was designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark in 2015.

It is not widely known that Dave Keeling, in his later years of research, focused on the Moon as a means of understanding climate variability on Earth. While he firmly believed that CO2 increases were the cause of global warming, he sought to identify additional factors that could account for previous cooling periods that could not be explained by CO2 changes. Keeling theorized that changes in the Moon’s effect on ocean mixing could affect surface temperatures – a simple and scientifically sound mechanism. The only question remaining was the magnitude of these changes.

Figure 3 is taken from a 1997 article by Keeling.[3] The strongest tides occur under certain circumstances:

(1) during a Sun-Earth-Moon syzygy or linear alignment,

(2) when the Moon is at its closest point to the Earth (perigee),

(3) when the Moon is at one of the nodes of the Earth’s ecliptic, and

(4) when the Earth is closest to the Sun (perihelion).

On average, these conditions coincide about every 1800 years (1682, 1823, or 2045 years ± 18 years). However, harmonics and shorter periodicities occur when only a subset of these conditions are met.

Figure 3 illustrates a 93-year cyclic pattern in tidal amplitude resulting from the succession of five nodal cycles. It’s important to note that tidal forcing does not increase continuously over decades. Rather, it increases on some days during a few lunar months when alignments occur, as indicated by the vertical lines in the figure. After that, the tidal forces may average out in the following years, only to regain strength 18 years later. The arcs connecting the peaks in tidal force are provided only as a visual aid to show the recurring pattern separated by an 18-year interval.

Figure 3. Timing of lunisolar tidal forcing since 1600 AD. Each event, indicated by a vertical line, gives a measure of the forcing in terms of the angular velocity of the Moon, in degrees of arc per day. The gray bars correspond to cool climate episodes. (Keeling & Whorf, 1997)

This figure is also reproduced in my book where I explain how tidal forcing is a likely candidate for triggering Dansgaard-Oeschger events during glacial periods.[4]

Keeling and co-author Timothy Whorf made an interesting observation about the alignment of significant increases in tidal forcing over the last 400 years. They noticed a correlation between these periods and the cool periods documented in a separate publication by Phil Jones, who retired as director of the Hadley Climate Research Unit (HadCRU) in 2016. These cool periods are represented by the gray bars at the top of Figure 3.

While it may be unreasonable to claim that the cooling climate of these periods was caused solely by the increase in tidal forcing, it is plausible to consider that tidal forcing played a role in enhancing the cooling effect beyond what would have occurred in its absence. They projected another peak in tidal forcing in the coming 2030s (labeled “D” in the figure). This should coincide with my projection of a temperature drop due to the coincidence of low solar activity and the transition of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation into its cold phase. Nature has yet to show its true strength to our overconfident climate modelers.

The Moon as an El Niño predictor

In 2007, two Canadian scientists, McKinnell and Crawford, conducted a study examining the relationship between the lunar nodal cycle and various factors such as air temperatures, sea surface temperatures, and 400-year tree ring records along the Pacific coast of North America.[5] One notable finding they made was the correlation between winter sea surface temperatures measured at Scripps Pier in San Diego, California, and the tidal constituent K1, which influences diurnal tidal amplitude. Figure 4 shows this relationship.

Figure 4. Mean January sea surface temperature anomalies at Scripps Pier superimposed on the diurnal lunar nodal cycle. Red circles, marking some El Niño years, have been added to the original figure. (McKinnell & Crawford, 2007)

Remarkably, the strongest positive January temperature anomalies at Scripps Pier consistently coincided with a lunar nodal cycle minimum. On the other hand, the lowest anomalies were often, though not always, observed within a year or two of a nodal cycle maximum.

McKinnell and Crawford also observed a remarkable synchronization between the lunar nodal cycle and some of the largest El Niño events of the 20th century, such as those in 1940/41, 1957/58, and 1997/98. Attributing the cause of El Niño solely to the Moon would be inaccurate, as there are instances (e.g., 1972/73, 1982/83) when El Niño events do not align with the nodal cycle.

Nevertheless, the relationship between the 18.6-year lunar cycle and El Niño had already been described in a 2001 article and has been further emphasized in recent studies.[6] [7] The explanation presented in the 2001 article suggests that tidal forces acting on the Pacific gyre modify the transport of cold water into the equatorial region, thereby influencing the likelihood and magnitude of El Niño events.

Even in the absence of a major El Niño event, the Scripps Pier data presented in Figure 4 show the presence of consecutive Niño episodes during lunar nodal cycle minimums. These are the Niño events of 1940/41 and 1941/42, 1957/58 and 1958/59, and 1976/77 and 1977/78.

Based on the available data, McKinnell and Crawford suggest:

“We also note that the response of North American coastal SSTs to many major El Niños of the 20th century are confounded with the SST response anticipated by the [lunar nodal cycle]. This unlikely coincidence will attract greater attention if a major El Niño occurs around 2015.”

(McKinnell & Crawford, 2007)

As we now know, a major El Niño did occur in 2015.

Given the challenges associated with predicting the occurrence of an El Niño event, let alone its magnitude, it is truly remarkable that the authors were able to successfully predict a major El Niño eight years in advance. Even more amazing is the fact that this prediction was based on the 18.6-year lunar cycle. It is recommended that anyone involved in ENSO forecasting consider the accumulated knowledge of the Moon’s influence on ENSO. While not a hard and fast rule, it is apparent that the likelihood of a major El Niño event, or even successive Niño episodes, is higher for 2034. Such an event could potentially temporarily mitigate the expected cooling trend, although cooling would be expected following the El Niño.

  1. Minobe, S., 1999. Geophys. Res. Lett. 26 (7), pp.855–858.

  2. Data from Viktor Gouretski, U of Hamburg, shows that the global average ocean temperature from 1000 to 6500 meters is 1.7°C. Overview: (Gouretski, 2019).

  3. Keeling, C.D. & Whorf, T.P., 1997. PNAS, 94 (16), pp.8321–8328.

  4. Vinós, J., 2022. Climate of the Past, Present and Future: A scientific debate. 2nd ed. Critical Science Also in French

  5. McKinnell, S.M. & Crawford, W.R., 2007. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 112 (C2).

  6. Cerveny, R.S. & Shaffer, J.A., 2001. Geophys. Res. Lett. 28 (1), pp.25–28.

  7. Yasuda, I., 2018. Sci. Rep. 8 (1), p.15206.

    Download the bibliography here.

    An earlier version of this post appeared on Climate Etc.

For more information on El Nino’s check out this page on our Everything Climate site

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July 19, 2023 6:10 pm

Dwarf planet Pluto’s mass is only 8.09 times its moon or twin Charon. The barycenter of their system lies outside the bodies of both dwarves.

Reply to  Milo
July 19, 2023 6:31 pm

The lunar cycle low point correlation is an important finding, but Los Niños also occur at other points in the 18-19 year cycle, to include Super Los Niños, as in 1982-83. Lately, they’ve been occurring at 15-18 year intervals. Los Niños of whatever strength happen about two to seven years apart.

John Shewchuk
July 19, 2023 6:13 pm

Excellent article about factors affecting climate and weather which is rarely discussed. Is the 18.6-year lunar cycle evident within the AMO (Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation) temperature record?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  John Shewchuk
July 21, 2023 4:51 am

Yes, excellent article.

Steve Case
July 19, 2023 6:15 pm

 In 2007, two Canadian scientists studying the effects of this cycle on the Pacific coast of North America successfully predicted the occurrence of a major El Niño event in 2015 based on lunar orbital data. Remarkably, their prediction proved accurate.

Climate models stink at predicting El Niño and La Niña but some Canadians examining the motions of the moon have been successful. Well how ’bout that (-:

Rich Davis
Reply to  Steve Case
July 20, 2023 1:38 am

Yeah amazing. To think Canadians could do something like that. What’s next, cats doing calculus?

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Rich Davis
July 20, 2023 4:34 am

Nah, calculus is in the dog’s skillset. Cats can’t even do trigonometry.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
July 21, 2023 5:28 am

I think cats are hiding their intelligence so they can have us as their servants!

I’m a cat lover so I watch cat videos on YouTube- while not watching videos on the Ukraine war, and UFOs, and climate emergency bullshit. I’ve seen cat videos lately where cats open windows and doors. In one video a cat opened a large cookie jar with a very large cap that was screwed on. The cat actually turned the cap until it opened. Notice how they look at us- staring. I think they’re thinking “I’ll just pretend I’m not smarter they these naked apes and they’ll keep feeding me- all I have to do is look cute.”

Nick Stokes
July 19, 2023 6:42 pm

Keeling theorized that changes in the Moon’s effect on ocean mixing could affect surface temperatures – a simple and scientifically sound mechanism. The only question remaining was the magnitude of these changes.”

Well, yes, that is the question, and I didn’t see any resolution. Mixing requires turbulence, which requires angular momentum creation, which requires shear, which requires torque. The main source of torque in the ocean is wind. Tidal forces can provide some in shallow water configurations, where water is forced to move relative to a solid surface. But how much? I would have thought relatively small.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 20, 2023 3:02 am

“I would have thought relatively small.”

Probably- but, as climate emergency cultists often tell us, a tiny difference in temperature can be catastrophic. 🙂

Javier Vinós
Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 20, 2023 11:15 am

I think you are wrong on this one, Nick. The Moon provides more mechanical energy to the oceans than the wind, and unlike the wind, this energy will be provided under sea ice and even at the bottom of the ocean. It causes all the water mass to move, and not just the part in contact with the atmosphere.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Javier Vinós
July 20, 2023 2:57 pm

The Moon provides more mechanical energy to the oceans than the wind”
That would be a hard one to pin down. But in any case case the requirement for creating turbulence is shear, a velocity gradient, and to do that you need torque. The wind/water interface clearly provides that – ocean waves are one outcome. And it creates it at the surface, which is where a mixing layer will potentially convey more heat from below to the surface.

There aren’t so many places where a tidal motion can create torque, and if it is below the ice or at a sea bottom, that is a long way from the surface mixing layer.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 20, 2023 3:23 pm

convey more heat from below to the surface”
Oops , from the surface to below

Javier Vinós
Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 21, 2023 12:51 am

That would be a hard one to pin down.

It is given in the Keeling paper referenced.

There aren’t so many places where a tidal motion can create torque

Quite a lot I would say. Here you have an Atlas of tidal currents in the Arctic. What they say is:

Tidal currents play a vital role in the Arctic climate

Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 21, 2023 1:25 am

“The Moon provides more mechanical energy to the oceans than the wind”

That would be a hard one to pin down.

Really, Nick? Proving the moon’s power would be hard, but proving the wind is stronger, that’s Settled Science, is it?

July 19, 2023 7:16 pm

Javier, your post begins (My boldface): “The Earth’s oceans contain a vast mass of cold water beneath a thin layer of warm water, and the limited amount of mixing between them plays a crucial role in our existence. Tides, primarily influenced by changes in the moon’s orbit, are the main force behind this mixing, which has the potential to cool the climate.

Really? Did you just make that up? You appear to be forgetting (1) the ocean gyres (i.e. circulation) which are caused by the trade winds which are caused by the temperature differences between the tropics and extratropics and by the rotation of the Earth…and (2) thermohaline circulation, which is caused by differences in temperature and salinity. I stopped reading the post after your opening paragraph.

But I did glance at the illustrations after that. Also, you presented Figure 4 as some kind of indicator of a relationship between a lunar cycle and El Nino events. Curiously, you’ve overlooked NOAA’s Oceanic Nino Index…
Climate Prediction Center – ONI (
…which shows that there were 21 El Nino winters between 1950 and 2010, while your figure 4 shows 3 El Nino years during that period. Being able to account for three out of twenty-one is a pathetic relationship.


Peta of Newark
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
July 20, 2023 3:36 am

What puzzled me, and turned me right off, was the assertion that the deep ocean is colder than 4°C
Such is physically impossible water has its maximum density at that temperature.

So if some deep water became (somehow) warmer than its surroundings, it would ‘bubble up to the top’
BUT, if that same water became colder that its 4°C surroundings, it would also ‘bubble up to the top’

Thus, water at 4°C at the bottom of any body of water is perfectly trapped – if it heats it rises, if it cools it rises.
This is of course as many schoolchildren know, how fish in (shallow) ponds survive winter – unless the pond freezes completely solid, there will always be liquid water at the bottom for them to survive the winter

NASA’s explanation of tides is childishness itself – they perfectly avoid the issue of why a High Tide occurs simultaneously on opposite sides of the globe and their graphic implies Negative Gravity is the cause
OK, they talk about ‘other tangential forces’

So why is there a tidal bulge on both sides simultaneously. There’s only one Moon and only one Earth.
Do NASA really regard themselves as so superior, coming across as patronising & condescending in that us underlings cannot handle ‘Inertia’

BTW and as regards ‘mixing’
What makes the wind?
Not unusual for CliSci, we have yet another grotesque Cause & Effect error

Yes The Atlantic (also) has its equivalent of ENSO
It is much smaller for myriad reasons:

  • Across its equatorial part, Atlantic is 4,000 miles instead 11,000 for the Pacific = less heat to be collected by the trade winds
  • Any heat (hot water) being transported across the Atlantic meets a Dead Stop when it arrives at South America. For same reason that aircraft ‘stall’, that Dead Stop creates turbulence
  • The heat flow disperses in a turbulent northerly flow into, still in deep water and into the GoM and the shape of coastline there facilitates that
  • From there it picks up the north easterly trades that carry it across to Northern Europe via The Conveyor
  • Versus ENSO where the hot water comes to a gradual, semi-controlled, stop in the shallow waters of The Philippines (and the Great Barrier Reef) and sits there ‘in a queue’ – gradually seeping away while waiting to get past the Philippines and into the Indian Ocean
  • Sometimes it cannot ‘seep’ fast enough and El Nino comes to help it out its dilemma
  • But significantly, the Amazon Forest is/was an incredibly wet place and via the daily thunderstorms there, works to defuse any large pool of warm water that tries to build off French Guiana/Brazil
  • As opposed to bone dry Australia, which has nothing ever different than a Heat Dome sitting on it = working to push any incoming heat back out into the ocean instead of sucking it ashore as the Amazon Forest does for the Atlantic

IOW, ENSO is a perfect storm of self reinforcing factors while the Atlantic equivalent has everything working against it

So Long As, The Amazon Forest remains intact

Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 20, 2023 10:30 am

“Such is physically impossible water has its maximum density at that temperature.”

Not impossible, you forget the effect of pressure. Attached are measured temperatures from the U of Hamburg database of deep Argo data.

ocean temp v depth_2.png
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 20, 2023 10:31 am

Here is another plot, going the other way.

ocean temp v depth.png
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 20, 2023 10:43 am

Here is a plot of all the variables, temperature, salinity, density and depth (pressure). Source Columbia U (Deep, Dark Fridge – directions (

Javier Vinós
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
July 20, 2023 11:17 am

Really? Did you just make that up?

I didn’t make anything up. All in that article is taken from published articles. Obviously, you have the right to disagree.

David Dibbell
July 19, 2023 7:17 pm

Excellent article. I had first come across Keeling & Whorf 1997 last year. Very interesting in respect to the ~18.6 year cycle.

I was also interested in hourly tide gauge data to explore the energy exchange between ocean and atmosphere as the tide rises and falls. More here.

The point is that the change in potential energy in the atmosphere with the timed changes in the water level is significant. The vertical column of the atmosphere gains/loses about 8.6 Watt-hours per square meter of potential energy with each foot of rise/fall of the water level.

Something to think about when considering the ocean tides. If I understand correctly, the atmosphere component of coupled climate models must assume a fixed sea level datum (i.e. no vertical ocean tide dynamics.)

John V. Wright
July 19, 2023 8:45 pm

Interested layman here. Thought-provoking article. Isn’t the next step to correlate the rhythms and outcomes of these lunar cycles with the rhythms and outcomes of sunspot activity? That could lead to a model for short-term temperature fluctuations. And who knows, there may be longer term implications also.

Reply to  John V. Wright
July 20, 2023 3:42 am

I was thinking the same. Also, as a Brit it was interesting to note that there was a strong El Niño in 1976 when there was a blocking high over the U.K. giving us our long hot summer.

Reply to  JohnC
July 20, 2023 5:04 am

There wasn’t a strong El Niño in 1976. There was a week one that didn’t start until after the summer of ’76. This followed a strong La Niña, ending just before the summer of 76.

I’m doubtful there is any correlation between ENSO conditions and British weather.

Reply to  Bellman
July 20, 2023 2:32 pm

Well something is!
Blocking high in summers of 1976 and 2003 giving hot extended summers.
Blocking highs in winters of 1962/63 and 2017/2018 giving extended cold winters. Same as happening now in southern Europe, which is why we’re having a cool July. The jet stream is weaker but has a bigger north south amplitude.

I do have one question, can this model hind cast a significant amount?

July 20, 2023 12:23 am

Lots of people make predictions. Someone is bound to get a single El Nino right.
But can that one get all the others right and not predict any extra El Nino’s?

I suspect that the answer is No, or the article would say so.

Practically speaking, if a scientist with the influence of Keeling couldn’t get this idea to fly, it must have problems.
It was socially acceptable and endorsed by the in-crowd. Stopping that takes some real difficulties. Like it’s a nice idea, but bunkum. Too small an effect that it may as well be ‘no effect’.

July 20, 2023 1:04 am

You got the mass ratio wrong.

Javier Vinós
Reply to  asklepias
July 20, 2023 11:20 am

Nope. Check it. It is 1:81. It is everywhere, NASA, Wikipedia.

Because the Moon‘s mass is a considerable fraction of that of Earth (about 1:81), the two bodies can be regarded as a double planet system, rather than as a planet with a satellite.

Right-Handed Shark
July 20, 2023 2:12 am

Not just the Sun and the Moon have influence on tides and therefore climate, I remember on a school trip back when I was a lad to the science museum, (or maybe it was the maritime museum-we visited both) was the first time I saw an analogue tide prediction calculator, a monster of a machine that had pulleys not just for the Sun and Moon, but all the planets as well as over 30 other variables. Maybe if the CO2 fanatics can appreciate just how complex the factors affecting the climate are, they can stop obsessing about 42 thousandths of 1% of the atmosphere. Or is that just wishful thinking?

David Dibbell
Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
July 20, 2023 3:35 am

Very cool. Thanks for that link!

Geoffrey Williams
Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
July 20, 2023 7:48 pm

Great reference to that Doodson machine . .

Joseph Zorzin
July 20, 2023 2:57 am

“Thus, without the Moon, Earth’s climate may have been too unstable for complex life to evolve.”

That really is mind blowing!

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
July 21, 2023 5:14 am

There might be a lot of life in the universe, but there might not be that much life that has the ability to leave the planet they were born on.

There might be life in underground oceans on many planets and moons, but there may be few spacefaring life forms.

I read the other day that a supernova is capable of wiping out any surface life on planets within about 100 lightyears of the blast. So even if there are places where surface life can develop, they may be located in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That could be us, too. That’s why humanity needs to get off-planet as soon as possible, if we are to assure the continuation of the human race.

Intelligent Dasein
July 20, 2023 3:56 am

This article was supremely stupid and not worth my time.

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Intelligent Dasein
July 20, 2023 9:27 am

Yet you thought it a good use of your time to make an inane comment.

Bob Weber
July 20, 2023 6:05 am

Apparently Javier didn’t notice the 1998 data point from his figure 4, taken from McKinnell & Crawford (2007), came one year after the 1997/98 El Niño was already underway.

While the moon’s tides are undeniably important, they provide ocean mixing, not energy.
Can anyone show how the El Niño conditions of today are related to recent lunar tides?

I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Paul Pukite at the 2018 AGU fall meeting, where he was presenting a poster building on his 2017 lunisolar work. This came several years after I had followed along with WeatherAction’s Piers Corbyn and his monthly weather forecasting using Pier’s lunisolar method, which he didn’t explain very much. I have since learned that while the moon’s tidal forces are important to mixing, the sun’s energy is the climate driver.

It was in 2014 that I had turned away from a modest lunar research interest to the actual source of energy changes from solar activity. To make a long story short, it’s been clear to me since then that the solar forcing of the present El Niño condition is in every respect following the solar cycle influence of this solar cycle just as the 2015/16 El Niño followed solar activity above my warming threshold of 95 SN during the last solar cycle.

The 2015/16 El Niño was driven by the solar maximum of solar cycle #24, and ended from TSI falling below the decadal sun-ocean warming threshold I has established in 2014/15.

comment image

How did the tidal influence cause either El Niño, when the pattern looks all solar to me, as it was in 2015/16? Below is the equatorial OHC anomaly indicating the first Kelvin wave of this solar cycle, along with last year’s sunspots and total solar irradiance.

comment image

I can understand why someone might consider that these two El Niño instances coinciding with solar maxima could be a spurious correlation. However, ~1°C tropical solar warming happened at least nine times in a row (working on the tenth time now), along with tropical solar cooling, both in step with the last nine solar cycles. The odds against this happening any other way are 1.6×10^19 to 1, basically impossible odds that it wasn’t solar activity.

Can anyone tell us how the moon’s tides exclusively caused the most recent Kelvin wave or the waves in 2015/16 without solar forcing, without more solar energy input?

Bob Weber
Reply to  Bob Weber
July 20, 2023 6:14 am

Per Strandberg has developed a artificial neural net (ANN) to work out lunisolar forcing, see “ENSO caused by high tidal pulses and by solar activity.”

Reply to  Bob Weber
July 20, 2023 9:05 am

Bob Weber:

There is a far more prosaic explanation for the cause of La Ninas and El Ninos than speculative unisolar forcing. See “The definitive caused of La Nina and El Nino events.

Javier Vinós
Reply to  Bob Weber
July 20, 2023 7:06 am

I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Paul Pukite

Such a privilege. Pukite is a crackpot that use to participate in Climate.Etc blog under the name of WebHubTelescope until he was banned for constantly insulting other participants. Here is a sample of his comments:

You deniers really ought to get a mirror and look at yourselves and ask yourselves what you are accomplishing. Being impediments to science is such a glorious endeavor, ain’t it? Sheesh.

He is also a known peakoiler regularly contributing to For example:

That’s why climate change gets higher billing than fossil fuel depletion as a threat to BAU. People would throw a fit if were told to transition to alternative energy due to depletion. Using climate change mitigation as a rationale seems to calm people down, thinking at least that’s reversible.

Why I am not surprised you have him in high esteem.

He does believe ENSO is due entirely to tides, and he is wrong in that too. ENSO is a heat pump. It responds to the amount of heat to be extracted, not to tides. Tides just affect the amount of heat, but they are one of several factors.

Bob Weber
Reply to  Javier Vinós
July 20, 2023 7:22 am

@ Javier

I held his work in high esteem, and Paul was personable to me, even though I disagreed with him, and told him as much. As far as his opinions, they’re no better or worse than some of yours, and I definitely have no problem with anyone asking “what are we accomplishing“.

The fact is that you decided to go after Paul personally and not address what my comment was actually about, then you attacked me over mentioning him and his work.

At least he and I have something in common, we took our science work to the science community in person, personally, on the front lines, at the 2018 AGU meeting, not taking the easy way out by going straight for a book without doing real science like you.

I’ll ask you the same question I’d ask Paul Pukite if he were here, can you tell us how the moon’s tides exclusively caused the most recent Kelvin wave or the waves in 2015/16 without solar forcing, without more solar energy input?

Reply to  Bob Weber
July 20, 2023 8:42 am

Bob Weber:

Javier cannot explain it.

The increased solar input for the 2015-2016 El Nino was due to a 23 Million ton decrease in industrial Atmospheric SO2 aerosol pollution. With cleaner air, temperatures naturally rose, because of the increased intensity of the solar radiation striking the Earth’s surface.

The decrease in SO2 aerosol pollution was due to a 2014 Chinese edict to reduce industrial SO2 aerosol emissions, and was confirmed by in-plant monitoring, and satellite observations. .

Bob Weber
Reply to  BurlHenry
July 20, 2023 9:44 am

It was you who told me before it was due to VEI4 eruptions or the lack of.

Now you’ve waffled by blaming the Chicoms. What am I to make of you?

Are you saying the Chinese took just a year to go from edict to results?

Your faith in communism must be overwhelming to believe that happened.

While your theory sounds plausible on the surface, the question is why didn’t the temperature just keep going up since then with cleaner air?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Bob Weber
July 21, 2023 5:32 am

Good question.

Reply to  BurlHenry
July 20, 2023 10:13 am

If solar input (into Earth’s energy balance) varied with SO2 aerosol pollution to the degree you continue to assert, then per the attached graph from the scientific article available at this link:
Earth should have cooled greatly during the period of 1965–1990 since annual SO2 emissions were some 10–20 million metric tons HIGHER than they are currently.

That such global atmospheric cooling DID NOT occur tells you all you need to know about your assertion.

Reply to  ToldYouSo
July 20, 2023 10:14 am

Ooops . . . here the image I referenced:

Javier Vinós
Reply to  BurlHenry
July 20, 2023 11:31 am

Javier cannot explain it.

Certainly, I cannot. There are lots of things in the climate I can’t explain. Luckily we have you.

Javier Vinós
Reply to  Bob Weber
July 20, 2023 11:28 am

and not address what my comment was actually about

I gave up on your comments and figures a long time ago, sorry.

Bob Weber
Reply to  Javier Vinós
July 20, 2023 11:36 am

Then you gave up on something important a long time ago, and I’m sure you’re not really sorry. because as the saying goes: ignorant people don’t know they’re ignorant.

Javier Vinós
Reply to  Bob Weber
July 20, 2023 11:43 am

I am very conscious of my ignorance. I am just very choosy about where I get my education.

Bob Weber
Reply to  Javier Vinós
July 20, 2023 1:18 pm

By definition you can’t be aware of your ignorance, so doubting one’s own educational choices would be inherent for a true skeptic.

This is the path forward. Why would the other side of the argument change if they won’t allow themselves to doubt their own choices?

I’ve given umpteen reasons for you to doubt some of your choices, but you’re not ready to take the next steps, just like the other side.

J Boles
July 20, 2023 8:08 am

I thought the mass ratio was 6:1?

Mike McMillan
Reply to  J Boles
July 20, 2023 1:57 pm says “The moon’s mass is 7.35 x 1022 kg, about 1.2% of Earth’s mass. Put another way, Earth weighs 81 times more than the moon. The moon’s density is 3.34 grams per cubic centimeter (3.34 g/cm3). That is about 60% of Earth’s density. ”

Iron ball vs green cheese.

Reply to  J Boles
July 21, 2023 8:32 am

“I thought the mass ratio was 6:1?”

That is the Earth-Moon surface gravity ratio. The force of gravity on a unit mass scales as GM/r^2, and the radius of the Moon is 1,740 km compared to the radius of the Earth being 6,370 km.

As Mike McMillan correctly notes, the Moon’s mass is only about 1.2% that of Earth, but if you correct for the smaller radius of the Moon’s surface (from its center of mass) by the ratio of (6,370/1,740)^2, you get back to the Moon having a surface gravity of 16% (about one-sixth) that of Earth.

Bob Weber
July 20, 2023 9:33 am

“While not a hard and fast rule, it is apparent that the likelihood of a major El Niño event, or even successive Niño episodes, is higher for 2034. Such an event could potentially temporarily mitigate the expected cooling trend, although cooling would be expected following the El Niño.” [my emphasis]

It is not a foregone conclusion there will be anything other than typical solar cycle cooling after this solar warming period is over, not a cooling trend per se from solar cycle to cycle, especially with solar cycle activity as high as it has been, well above the 95SN decadal warming threshold.

I wouldn’t outright disagree with 2034 for a possible major El Niño event as 2034 will likely coincide with the 3rd-4th year of solar cycle 26, a good analog time to our present situation in solar cycle #25. But, the ocean energy buildup from the future solar cycle #26 maximum won’t be completed until about the year 2037/38, when the maximum ocean warming effect of that solar warming period should occur, making it a more likely time for a major El Niño than 2034.

July 20, 2023 9:35 am

From the above article:
“Tides, primarily influenced by changes in the moon’s orbit, are the main force behind this mixing, which has the potential to cool the climate.”

Sorry, I’m having a very hard time seeing how tides induce mixing of the “vast mass of cold water beneath a thin layer of warm water” (the words of Javier Vinós). There seems to be no paleoclimatology evidence that this has occurred over the last million years (see attached graph from ).
Also, if such was occurring in the 19-year or so period associated with the lunar nodal cycle, as discussed above, it would then be difficult to reconcile how the predominate volumes of Earth’s oceans (even some lakes) have well-defined, relatively stable thermocline layers.
Gravitation tides induce movement of all layers of the ocean simultaneously, with essentially insignificant amounts of induced vertical or horizontal shear forces that would be needed to induce mixing. But gravitational tides do induce mixing of the ocean’s surface layers due to their interactions at the coasts of land masses and associated continental shelves.

Moreover, existing ocean circulation patterns (driven by forces other than gravity; e.g., Coriolis effects, temperature variations with latitude or longitude, salinity variations) likely are the predominate cause of whatever limited mixing does occur between surface waters and deeper layers in all of Earth’s oceans.

I can accept the assertion that lunar nodal cycles have a direct effect on mixing of ocean waters above the thermocline . . . but that they effect vertical mixing of such relatively shallow layer with deeper ocean volumes, no.

What am I missing here?

Reply to  ToldYouSo
July 20, 2023 10:58 am

“I’m having a very hard time seeing how tides induce mixing of the “vast mass of cold water beneath a thin layer of warm water” (the words of Javier Vinós).”

See the Keeling (1997) paper referenced in the post for an explanation.

Keeling writes: “dissipation of extreme tides increases vertical mixing of sea water.” Keeling lists numerous mechanisms.
My Notes – Solar (Possible Forcing of Global Temperature by Oceanic Tides) .pdf (

Reply to  Andy May
July 20, 2023 12:58 pm

Andy, thank you for your reply comment and for providing the link to the 1995 Keeling & Whorf paper published by PNAS 1997.

Keeling & Whorf [1997] do mention various possible mechanisms for tides to increase vertical mixing in oceans, but also clearly state the following (pg. 6):
“The mechanism of vertical mixing in the oceans is poorly understood, making it difficult to establish the importance of tidal mixing relative to other types of oceanic mixing.”

Also, Figure 8 of Keeling & Whorf [1997], reproduced as Figure 3 in Javier’s article above, presents the following problem:
In terms of relationship to the magnitudes of tidal forcing (vertical axis), the identification of “cool” periods as identified by grey blocks at the top of the graph have very little, if any correlation to the intervening periods not identified as cool periods. For example, the tidal forcings from the peak identified as “z” (circa year 1690) to the peak identified as “A” (circa 1790) have intervening vertical lines having higher tidal forcings than at point “z” but are lacking any designation as a cool period.

Also, again referring to Figure 3 of Javier’s article, the valley-to-peak variation in tidal forcing plotted from point Y to z to A to B to C to D (as defined by the encompassing parabolic curves) is at most .14 out of 17.16 average, or 0.8%. I just cannot believe that vertical mixing in the oceans, even if limited to the depth of the “surface layer” above a thermocline, would be dependent to the extent claimed if driven by a <1% variation in lunar nodal tidal forcing.

Javier Vinós
Reply to  ToldYouSo
July 21, 2023 1:14 am

Yes, I also find problems with Figure 8 in Keeling & Worf 97. I think it is more suggestive than probatory. Nobody seriously believes that past cold climates have been caused by increased tidal forcing. However, they may very well have been contributed by increased tidal forcing. If that is the case, one would not expect to see a cold period just because tidal forcing is higher. But having higher tidal forcing could decrease warming and increase cooling.

Javier Vinós
Reply to  ToldYouSo
July 20, 2023 11:41 am

Sorry, I’m having a very hard time seeing how tides induce mixing of the “vast mass of cold water beneath a thin layer of warm water” (the words of Javier Vinós). There seems to be no paleoclimatology evidence that this has occurred over the last million years

I think you are going a little bit further than what my article says. Tides don’t have to induce the mixing of the vast mass of cold water to have an effect. They just need to increase the mixing between the surface layer and the subsurface layer a little bit to cause cooling. And I would not expect any paleoclimatic detectable effect from this. Paleoclimatic effects from tides are detected in turbidites at continental platforms, iceberg activity, and Dansgaard-Oeschger events.

Reply to  Javier Vinós
July 20, 2023 1:28 pm

I guess the issue relates to how one defines the depths associated with the “surface layer” and the “subsurface layer”. NOAA presents graphical data indicating that El Niño may creates temperature variations in the Pacific Ocean in the range of 300 m deep (see ) to about 500 m deep ( ).

Geoffrey Williams
July 20, 2023 2:52 pm

The earth’s oceans are a little like my swimming pool, warm at the surface and cold underneath !

Reply to  Geoffrey Williams
July 20, 2023 4:18 pm

Hmmmm . . . just curious: what kind of tides do you experience in your swimming pool?

Reply to  ToldYouSo
July 21, 2023 7:19 pm

Exactly the same amount as in the oceans. Gravity exerts the same force on pool water as ocean water. The fact that you cannot see the effect due to fact that the pool water has no place to go does not negate the force.

Reply to  doonman
July 22, 2023 8:06 am


“. . . contrary to common belief, tides are not caused by the gravitational forces of the Moon or the Sun lifting up the oceans—their gravitational pull is much too weak for that. Rather, tides are created because the strength and direction of the gravitational pull varies depending on where on Earth you are. This variation creates the differential forces or tidal forces that in turn cause tides . . .
Mid-ocean, each tidal “wave” is just under a meter high, compared to the water level of the two troughs between them. However, the variation between high and low tide is very different from place to place. It can range from almost no difference to over 16 meters (over 50 feet).
This is because the water in the oceans is constrained by the shape and distance between the continents as well as varying ocean depths. As a result, the tides behave more like water sloshing around in an oddly shaped bathtub than in a smooth and even basin. In some places, the water flows freely and quickly, while in other areas, where the water has to pass through narrow channels, it moves more slowly.”
(my bold emphasis added)

I’m betting Geoffrey Williams doesn’t see ~meter high tides in his swimming pool, but perhaps I’m wrong on this.

July 22, 2023 2:59 am

Some silly questions:

If the sun and moon have an effect on the oceans causing tides, is there an effect on the atmosphere?
Are there shearing forces between the top tidal layers and the lower less mobile layers?
What are the potential consequences of the Earth rotating at 1000 mph at the equator whilst the moon is orbiting in the same direction at twice the speed?
If Venus had had a satellite would that have prevented the planet having a retrograde rotation that is longer than it’s orbital period and thus enabling it to have an earth like environment?
Do Phobos and Deimos have any effect on Mars despite their tiny sizes?

July 22, 2023 11:51 am

This is incredibly interesting. As a matter of interest I also predicted an El Nino, in 2012 in an AGU poster, and also on the basis of the precession of lunar nodes, although my reason was and is that if Earth has a ring system, it would do exactly this: a ring in the plane of the equator and a ring in the plane of the lunar orbit, would swing in and out of phase over the period of precession of lunar nodes.

So I said then 2015 El Nino. And I say this year, no strong La Nina, just squish, and next year too, as we are approaching the opposite side of the cycle.\

how is that for fightiing the whole world. we shall see about it.

It is very very good to see that other people have thought about it. I did not know.

Anyway the ring version also explains why Earth as a whole can warm then cool – it is because a pair of rings are more effective in cooling Earth when they are spread out (the La Nina node) and less effective when overlying (the El Nino node).

of course the ring idea was John O’Keefe’s.

Reply to  LHancock
July 23, 2023 12:29 pm

Nice theory, except for the fact that:
El Niño and La Niña events occur every two to seven years, on average, but they don’t occur on a regular schedule. Generally, El Niño occurs more frequently than La Niña.”
— ref:
(my bold emphasis added)

The precession of lunar nodes occurs with great regularity.

“The great tragedy of Science—the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”
— Thomas Henry Huxley, 1870; many subsequent variations by others
(ref: )

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