Posted by: erl happ | August 22, 2009

Wherefore art thou Niño?

Map

This essay addresses the question of whether tropical waters are likely to warm or cool in the last half of 2009. Necessarily it also addresses matters such as:

  • The character of warming cycles in the tropics.
  • The usefulness of the ENSO 3.4 Index as a proxy for tropical warming events.
  • The driver of sea surface temperature change in the tropics.
  • Change in the nature of this driver over time.
  • The contribution of warming cycles in the tropics to global temperature change.
  • The place of greenhouse theory in explaining global temperature change.

For a description of the data used for this analysis see Kalnay, E. and Coauthors, 1996: The NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis 40-year Project. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 77, 437-471. This data can be accessed at: http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

Global temperature is strongly influenced by change in sea surface temperature in the global tropics. There is a lag of about six months from tropical to global peak. There is no argument as to the driver of global temperature on a year to year basis. Until recently many observers (including the UNIPCC) have maintained (without any justification whatsoever) that the ENSO oscillation is temperature neutral on decadal and longer time scales. That assertion is now widely questioned. We must ask how much, and whether all of the change in global temperature can be attributed to the cycles of warming and cooling in the tropics. The strong temperature gain between 1978 and 1998 has been attributed to man’s influence on the basis that “we know of no other reason for the change that has been observed.” That logic is now in question. Was something really obvious simply overlooked? There is still no evidence for the greenhouse induced ‘hot spots’ in the upper atmosphere. Is the UNIPCC assertion that the recent warming is due to the activities of man classic case of jumping to premature conclusions in the face of abundant evidence to the contrary.

Frequently the collapse of a solar cycle is associated with cooling in the tropics while the onset of a new cycle is associated with the initiation of a strong warming event. However, Cycle 24 is unusual. The sun is spotless even though 10.7cm radio flux has been increasing since late 1998. Just when is the big warming event to be expected and will it be as big as 1997-8?

Those who believe that anthropogenic greenhouse gases drive a relentless increase in atmospheric temperature eagerly await the next El Niño to re-establish their predicted warming trend.

In previous posts, and again here, I demonstrate a deterministic relationship between temperatures in the tropical STRATOSPHERE and sea surface temperature. Temperature in the tropical stratosphere varies with its ozone content. An increase in stratospheric ozone is associated with the slackening of the Antarctic vortex  between July and January and the collapse of the Arctic vortex in March April, an event that varies in significance with the oscillating strength of the latter.  Modulating the strength of the annual cycle there is  an exaggerated biennial flux in temperature associated with a wind reversal in the equatorial stratosphere described as the Quasi Biennial Oscillation. On a much longer time scale, a strong increase in the temperature of the southern stratosphere occurred between 1948 and 1978 and a decline thereafter. The resulting climate shift of 1978 was manifestly responsible for the 20 year warming trend in sea surface temperature that ran through to 1998.

It is possible to demonstrate that the temperature of the tropical atmosphere between 200hpa and about 10hPa moves in a synchronous fashion. As it moves, the (very hard to measure) opacity of ice cloud above 200hPa must vary in such a way as to admit more or less sunlight. The fact that sea surface temperature is locked directly to the temperature of the atmosphere above 200hPa strongly suggests that the flux in ice cloud opacity is the factor involved in modulating albedo.

The tropics between 30°north and 30°south tends to be relatively free of low cloud. The map of the globe below shows amazingly low levels of outgoing long wave radiation from the cloudiest areas of the tropics where convection and resulting de-compressive cooling is the defining characteristic. Conversely, high levels of outgoing long wave radiation emanate from locations where descending, warming, relatively cloud free air lie over the vast expanses of the southern ocean and the subtropical North Atlantic. It is these cloud free areas that will expand and contract as the centres of tropical convection wax and wane in their activity.

Operationally, when the ozone content of the upper troposphere and stratosphere increases, the upper atmosphere warms, cirrus cloud evaporates allowing more sunlight to reach the ocean. As the ocean delivers more evaporation to the atmosphere the centers of ascent and descent see intensified activity. As the centers of descending air expand, so also is there an expansion of the cloud free area. The ocean warms. This warming and cooling activity, depending upon cloud cover, is modulated by a wholly autonomous process that changes the concentration of stratospheric ozone.

This post identifies the southern hemisphere locations that exhibit  strong warming that initiates or contributes to generalized warming events.

Figure 1

Pattern of outgoing long wave radiation from the Earth in April 1985 at the height of the warming period that began with solar cycle 21 in 1976

Figure 1 Pattern of outgoing long wave radiation from the Earth in April 1985 at the height of the warming period that began with solar cycle 21 in 1976

Where is the warming activity concentrated?

Figure 2 compares global tropical sea surface temperature and sea surface temperature between 10° north and 10° south latitude. At issue is the question of what latitude sees the greatest warming. Is the warming confined to the Pacific and Indian Oceans? Is the warming confined to close equatorial latitudes? Is it due to a change in currents in the close equatorial zone? Is it due to the spreading of western Pacific Warm Pool waters over a greater surface area as the trade winds slacken?  Is it due to reduced upwelling of cool waters along the western coasts of the great continents as the trade winds slacken? Is it due to warming of the ocean floor? In truth it is none of these as a moments examination of figure 2 will reveal.

Figure 2

 Anomaly in monthly Sea Surface temperature in relation to the 1948-2009 average. Close equatorial zones compared with the global tropics 30°N to 30°S

Figure 2 Anomaly in monthly Sea Surface temperature in relation to the 1948-2009 average. Close equatorial zones compared with the global tropics 30°N to 30°S

Figure 2 shows that warming in the wider zone between 30°N and 30°S precedes that in the close equatorial zone.  Accordingly, it must be change in the latitudes outside the close equatorial zone that accounts for the flux in temperature at the equator. All waters between 30°N and 30°S are driven equator-wards by the trade winds. The atmosphere can not warm the ocean except at the very surface but sunlight penetrates to 200-300 metres. Logic dictates that it is the flux in cloud cover outside the very cloudy Inter-tropical Convergence Zone that is responsible for warming cycles in tropical temperature.

Secondly, let’s note that tropical temperatures between 30°N and 30°S have been very close to the long term (January 1948- August 2009) average since 1999. The cooling event of 2008 plumbed a depth unreached in 2000 and the cooling event of 2009, brief as it was, all but matched it, if not in duration then certainly in terms of the temperature reached. Where is the warming?

Thirdly we note that peaks in temperature in the global tropics occur in the main at  the end of southern summer (blue arrows). The sun is closest to the earth on December 21st. The southern ocean is more extensive and much cooler than the northern ocean at all latitudes. Furthermore, the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone is located north of the Equator for most of the year and the southern Trades and the configuration of the continents ensure that the northern hemisphere is the recipient of most of the benefit from the warming of the southern ocean. Figure 2 shows that the zone 0-10°north is slightly warmer than the zone 0-10°south most of the time, although manifestly not so in the strongest warming events like that of 1997-8. Given this dynamic, tropical waters must be expected to cool strongly during southern hemisphere winter in mid year.

However, it is apparent that the tropical ocean sometimes experiences anachronistic warming in mid and late year (blue circles and red arrows). How can this be? What causes it?

Warming late in the year

Figure 3

Anomaly in monthly Sea Surface temperature in relation to the 1948-2009 average Southern latitudes compared with the global tropics 30°N to 30°S

Figure 3 Anomaly in monthly Sea Surface temperature in relation to the 1948-2009 average Southern latitudes compared with the global tropics 30°N to 30°S

Figure 3 confirms the point that the early annual peak in tropical sea surface temperature (blue arrows) is always associated with strong warming of waters between 20° and 40° south latitude. It is therefore the warming of the southern waters that drives this annual peak.  However it is also plain that the southern tropics do occasionally warm in mid and late year (see the green arrows). But, omplicating the picture is the presence of late year warmings (see red arrows) that are clearly not associated with generalized warming between 20° and 40° south.

Late year warming not associated with warming in subtropical waters in general

Figure 4

Anomaly in monthly Sea Surface temperature in relation to the 1948-2009 average. Global tropics 30°N to 30°S compared to the index of SST in the ENSO 3.4 region

Figure 4 Anomaly in monthly Sea Surface temperature in relation to the 1948-2009 average. Global tropics 30°N to 30°S compared to the index of SST in the ENSO 3.4 region

Figure 4 shows the relationship between global tropical sea surface temperature and sea surface temperatures in the ENSO 3.4 zone in the mid Pacific. The Niño-3.4 region is located at 5°N-5°S, 170°W-120W.

It is notable that when temperature in the ENSO 3.4 region is elevated we have late year heating events that are not associated with the warming of southern waters in winter. Notice that the early annual peak in global tropical temperatures frequently finds the ENSO 3.4  index at a minimum. Given the difference between the two data streams it is apparent that an index of ENSO 3.4 temperatures relates poorly to tropical and global temperature. ENSO 3.4 is a Pacific phenomenon that does not relate at all well to warming phenomena in the rest of the tropics or the globe as a whole. In terms of global temperature dynamics it’s a distraction and something of a red herring. The dynamics driving ENSO 3.4 temperature are not the same as those driving temperature in the global tropics.

This however, is not to say that what happens in the Pacific is irrelevant to the dynamics of tropical temperature change. The Pacific is an important theater, but not the only one.

Warming in the in-feed zone of the south east Pacific

Figure 5

Anomaly in monthly Sea Surface temperature in relation to the 1948-2009 average. Waters of the South East Pacific compared to the global tropics 30°N to 30°S

Anomaly in monthly Sea Surface temperature in relation to the 1948-2009 average. Waters of the South East Pacific compared to the global tropics 30°N to 30°S

Figure 5 compares anomalies in sea surface temperature in the global tropics with those in the in-feed zone in the south east Pacific. The in-feed zone is partitioned into two areas by latitude, separating 30-40°south from 20-30°south.  Figure 5 also identifies late season warming events with red and green circles. A strong warming of the in-feed zone of the equatorial waters coincides with early annual warming events. But this in-feed warming also occurs and is responsible for late year warming on six of eight occasions.

Strong in-feed warming has been uniquely responsible for the spectacular increase in tropical sea surface temperature in both 2008 and 2009. The resulting increase in tropical temperatures will however be short lived because the south east Pacific is already cooling. On the other hand successive minima show an advancing trend from 2005 suggesting that, if this trend continues, strong warming of the in-feed and the equatorial zone zone may be possible next time round late in 2010.

Cause of warming in the in-feed zone

Figure 6

Anomaly in monthly Sea Surface temperature in relation to the 1948-2009 average Waters of the south east Pacific 30-40°S.  260-275°E compared with 250-280°E

Figure 6 Anomaly in monthly Sea Surface temperature in relation to the 1948-2009 average Waters of the south east Pacific 30-40°S. 260-275°E compared with 250-280°E

Figure 6 shows that in-feed warming  extends over thirty degrees of longitude in northward trending waters at latitude 30-40° south. Figure 6 also identifies with red arrows warming associated with the  periodic collapse of either the Arctic or Antarctic vortex customarily described either as a ‘sudden’ or a ‘final’ stratospheric warming. This phenomenon is described in the post: https://climatechange1.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/the-atmosphere-dancing-in-the-solar-wind-el-nino-shows-his-face/

Figure 7

 Anomaly in monthly Sea Surface temperature in relation to the 1948-2009 average

Figure 7 Anomaly in monthly Sea Surface temperature in relation to the 1948-2009 average

The changing nature of the forces driving sea surface temperature in the south east Pacific in-feed zone is apparent in figure 7. After 1978 the range of latitudes responsive to change in stratospheric ozone increased to take in 30-40° south. The increase in the temperature of the upper troposphere and stratosphere prior to time was responsible (via change in ice cloud cover) for the increased extent, frequency and intensity of warming events that raised global temperatures between 1978 and 1998. However, 200hpaand 20hPa temperature in the global tropics and in the south east Pacific in particular has actually been in slow decline since 1983 and cloud cover in the upper troposphere must be expected to respond accordingly just so long as upper atmosphere moisture levels are adequate.

Figure 8

Sea surface temperature in the south east Pacific at 250-280° East and 20-30° south compared to the temperature of the stratosphere at 20hPa

Figure 8 Sea surface temperature in the south east Pacific at 250-280° East and 20-30° south compared to the temperature of the stratosphere at 20hPa

Figure 8 shows how sea surface temperature in the in-feed zone is locked to stratospheric temperature at 20hPa.

Change in the parameter driving cycles of sea surface warming and cooling

Figure 9

Moving 12 month average of 20hPa temperature centred on seventh month and the anomaly in monthly temperature with respect to the average monthly temperature (period 1948 to 2009).

Figure 9 Moving 12 month average of 20hPa temperature centered on seventh month and the anomaly in monthly temperature with respect to the average monthly temperature (period 1948 to 2009).

Figure 9 plots the moving 12 month average of 20hPa temperature at 10°north to 10°south and also the departure of each month’s mean from the period average for that month. This is a very important graph. It shows the dramatic change in the forces driving sea surface temperature over the period of record. And indeed, what changes there have been! Here is a list of the patterns that emerge.

  • There are four, five or six warming cycles in stratospheric temperature per solar cycle. The nature of these warming cycles has changed over time.
  • Cycle 18 produced relatively stable temperatures in the stratosphere.
  • Strong peaks in stratospheric temperature occurred in 1963, 1971, 1983, 1992 and 2007.
  • The strongest advances in stratospheric temperature occurred in the early stages of odd numbered cycles 19, 21 and 23.
  • Much enhanced variability in temperature from month to month is seen to develop in solar cycles 22 and 23.
  • Stratospheric temperatures are again on the increase in the last half of cycle 23.
  • Cycle 20, when the globe cooled, was marked by declining temperatures in the stratosphere after solar maximum as was cycle 22.

It is abundantly evident that the basic parameter driving the warming of the tropical sea has changed dramatically over the period of record. Conventional climate science and the UNIPCC knows nothing of this.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

It is apparent that cycles of warming in the tropics contributed strongly to the increase in global temperatures between 1978 and 1998. The forces that control the temperature of the stratosphere influence the flux in ice cloud cover in the subtropics and thereby the frequency and intensity of warming events in the tropics. The role of cirrus cloud in determining the flux of temperature at the surface is currently misunderstood. This misunderstanding is a product of reliance on greenhouse theory in complete defiance of the evidence that other factors overwhelm and negate the response to the increase in trace gas content.  As the upper atmosphere warms in  subtropical latitudes cirrus evaporates and the surface manifestly warms. It does not cool. The IPCC has it the other way round. It maintains that cirrus cloud traps heat and warms the surface. This theory is completely at odds with observation. It should be consigned to the scrapheap of intellectual thought along with Lysenkoism. It is Junk Science.

The behaviour of  stratospheric temperature since 1948 is inconsistent with the notion of a closed system. Solar influences and in particular the condition of the polar vortexes is critical in determining the temperature of the stratosphere. Temperature change in the stratosphere propagates from high to low latitudes. The dynamic whereby water vapor is lifted into the stratosphere from a warm tropical ocean, influential because it dissolves ozone, is important in damping change in stratospheric temperature in equatorial latitudes. But, the temperature of the stratosphere at high latitudes is externally driven. Geomagnetic events and the intensity of solar irradiance are known to affect the concentration of erosive nitrogen oxides that enter the stratosphere via the polar vortexes and deplete stratospheric ozone.

Until the dynamics that control the ozone content of the upper atmosphere are fully elucidated the future of tropical and global sea surface temperature will remain unclear. Some atmospheric scientists assert that planetary waves generated by internal processes control the temperature of the tropical and polar stratosphere. The thread of that argument is fragile in the extreme.

In general, our understanding of the atmosphere is weak. Compartmentalizing of the atmosphere into discrete regions known as troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere and thermosphere tends to inhibit focus on the all important interaction zones. This categorization is no more valid or useful than the notion that there are discrete zones characterized by quite different and stable climates on the surface of the Earth.

The influence of solar activity is plainly important in driving air temperature above the 200hPa level (about two thirds of the way into the troposphere). Ice  cloud is also found in the stratosphere..

The upper atmosphere has an electrodynamic dimension (related to the increasing presence of plasma with elevation) that renders it susceptible to the influence of the flow of charged particles from the sun. This may be responsible for the change in surface pressure at the poles in relation to that at the equator and the phenomena whereby the upper tropical stratosphere suddenly cools as the polar stratosphere warms.

The atmosphere is asymmetric between north and south in part due to the presence of the Antarctic ice mound and the relative abundance of land at high latitudes in the northern hemisphere. The distribution of land and sea is a strong contributor to atmospheric dynamics. So, the hemispheres are essentially very different, a strong factor influencing atmospheric dynamics.

The atmosphere is not amenable to modeling that treats the globe as a closed system. Our understanding of atmospheric processes is elementary. Mathematicians who do not appreciate that the basic parameters driving climate are externally imposed and forever changing, are a hindrance to progress and best employed elsewhere.

It is unnecessary to invoke the increase in the concentration of trace gas concentration in the atmosphere as a cause of surface temperature change. This pattern of thought is nonsense. Natural processes are at work and these owe nothing to the activities of man. It is the height of folly to drive up the price of fossil fuels in pursuit of a furphy.

Footnote: A furphy, also commonly spelled furfie, is Australian slang for a rumour, or an erroneous or improbable story.

Quote:

SEPP Editorial #26-2009 (8/22/09)
The Big Global Warming Debate
By S. Fred Singer, President, SEPP

Solar power is good for hot water systems, remote properties, navigation beacons, recharging portable  batteries, growing grass and drying the washing.  Wind power is good for pumping water, flying kites and racing yachts. Neither can be relied on to run the trains, the factories, the smelters or the hospitals. Any society foolish enough to rely on these medieval energy sources deserves to freeze in the dark.
Naturally, if enough money is extracted from consumers or taxpayers, we could build enough storage capacity or backup generating capacity to provide continuous power from these intermittent power sources. But the cost is prohibitive because the backup facility needs to cope with 100% of the Green Power capacity. This duplication doubles the capital cost of Green Power, but neither the Green Plant nor the backup plant is used efficiently: one or the other is always idle.
If Australia is stupid enough to mandate 20% of the electricity market for Green Power, electricity costs  will escalate, backup gas prices will soar, industry will emigrate and jobs will disappear. If the market is unwilling to build Green Power facilities without mandates or subsidies, there is a good reason for it.

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Responses

  1. […] […]

  2. […] on Climate Change, August 22, […]

  3. Bits from IceCap 8/27. I think this is basically what you have been talking about, no?

    There is an important new paper in Science (H/T Steve Milloy) that confirms what we have been saying for years. It is Meehl, G.A., J.M. Arblaster, K. Matthes, F. Sassi, and H. van Loon (2009), Amplifying the Pacific climate system response to a small 11 year solar cycle forcing, Science, 325, 1114-1118. It blows away the IPCC and CCSP arguments that the sun is a bit player in climate compared to CO2.

    Top Down – Bottom up

    In order for such reinforcement to take place many small wheels have to interdigitate. The initial process runs from the top downwards: increased solar radiation leads to more ozone and higher temperatures in the stratosphere. “The ultraviolet radiation share varies much more strongly than the other shares in the spectrum, i.e. by five to eight per cent, and that forms more ozone” explains Katja Matthes. As a result, especially the tropical stratosphere becomes warmer, which in turn leads to changed atmospheric circulation. Thus, the interrelated typical precipitation patterns in the tropics are also displaced.

    The second process takes place in the opposite way: the higher solar activity leads to more evaporation in the cloud free areas. With the trade winds the increased amounts of moisture are transported to the equator, where they lead to stronger precipitation, lower water temperatures in the East Pacific and reduced cloud formation, which in turn allows for increased evaporation. Katja Matthes: “It is this positive back coupling that strengthens the process”. With this it is possible to explain the respective measurements and observations on the Earth’s surface.

    • Thanks for the comment. Comments are as rare as hens teeth it seems. Each one is precious. Your comment gives me a chance to clarify my position in an informal and off the cuff fashion which is simply great.

      Yes I have seen reports of that paper. Yes, the mechanisms that they are talking about are, in my opinion, real. But no, this is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the cause of ENSO, broadly defined as the cycle in tropical temperature. And ENSO is driven by change on upper atmosphere cloud cover as the upper atmosphere cools (higher relative humidity, more ice cloud formation) and warms (the ice cloud evaporates). Warming cycles occur annually, bigger ones biennially and larger ones again at the start of the solar cycle and on three to five occasions after solar maximum. A La Nina frequently marks solar maximum as the authors of the paper you cite recognize. Harry Van Loon has been gently prodding people for years reminding them that solar maximum brings La Nina, but of course the Solar Enthusiasts must have it that solar irradiance is greater so it must be warmer…..silly boys. Like the greenhouse people they forget to look at the data.

      What I am, less gently than Harry, pointing out, is that there are clear biennial cycles in the temperature of the stratosphere driven from the polar vortexes where nitrogen oxides from the mesosphere enter the stratosphere, degrading ozone. So, I am not talking about the cycle in UV light intensity driving a 10 year oscillation. I am talking about a biennial cycle (the QBO) and much longer cycles in stratospheric temperature that we know little about. What I do know from the NCEP/NCAR data is that the stratosphere warmed strongly between 1948 and 1983 and has been on a cooling trend until the latter stages of Cycle 23.

      We do know however that the concentration of nitrogen oxides in the mesosphere depends on solar activity, both irradiance and particles (the solar wind) and we do know that there are 100 and 200 year cycles in solar activity, the latter bringing a longer and deeper minimum.

      When the stratosphere warms so does the upper troposphere above 200hPa because its temperature depends on ozone. That drives ice cloud opacity. One of the theaters of action (the strongest) is the south east Pacific off Chile. This drives the Southern Oscillation. Its “southern” rather than “northern” because of the amount of ocean in the southern hemisphere, particularly at high latitudes, and the cooling influence of Antarctica that is the source of most of the cold air and floating icebergs hundred of kilometers in extent. Antarctica double its size in winter and halves in summer. Think of the effect of that on Southern Ocean temperature. I know because I swim in it and I have checked the data with NCEP/NCAR.

      So, I think that while the authors of the paper you cite make an important contribution; they miss the main game. Unfortunately their speculations will confuse rather than elucidate. Its like describing the way a horses tail moves when its running and you are trying to describe the mechanism of the running and you fail to notice the long legs moving back and forth.

      We don’t need computer simulations to tell us what has happened to the climate. Its very plainly evident in the record from NCEP/NCAR. All you need is some basic graphing skills, the ability to plot one series of numbers against another. but I suspect the authors of the paper want to bring the modelers along with them because they are so powerful, though they know nothing about climate they are good mathematicians and have very sensitive skins. (Like Tamino and James Annan who are so protective of their readers sensibilities they must delete my comments).

      The ice cloud thesis is hard to observe, and impossible to measure because it is a minute change in the opacity of what appears to be a cloudless sky. But you don’t need to be Einstein to relate a warming extra-tropical sea to a warming upper atmosphere. And I truly mean extra-tropical. Most of the action is in the southern hemisphere at 20-40° south. That’s because the air that ascends in the centers of tropical convection descend in the main in the southern hemisphere, (over the cold water) warming and drying as it does so. A warming tropics tends to expand the cloud free sky in the extra-tropics. For this check the OLR diagram in the post. It tells you a lot about cloud dynamics.

      Once again: Thanks for the comment. From my point of view you are a living national treasure.

    • Here is a little supplementary information in relation to the question from B Buckner. I found this on the WUWT thread at:http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/08/27/ncar-spots-the-transistor-effect-small-solar-activity-fluctuations-amplify-to-larger-climate-influences/

      Mike Abbott (14:41:58) :

      Let me put a few things into perspective about the NCAR study. Those of you who think it is another nail in the coffin of AGW theory are sadly mistaken and I’m a skeptic myself. (Actually, I’m a skeptic’s skeptic; I’m skeptical of claims made by both sides of the debate.) Do you know anything about the lead author, Dr. Gerald Meehl? He has been a Contributing Author or Lead Author on every IPCC assessment report including AR4 (2007.) He is one of the IPCC’s leading climate model experts. On February 8, 2007, he summarized AR4 and warned of the perils of AGW in an address to the U.S. House of Representatives. (See http://www.ucar.edu/oga/pdf/meehl_testimony%202-07.pdf) Significantly, his theory of solar amplification in the Pacific climate system was well under development at that time, as the references in his current paper demonstrate.

      In short, Dr. Meehl is a well-established AGW proponent and Insider. As noted in an earlier comment, the last sentence of his paper states that his theory “cannot explain recent global warming because the 11-year solar cycle has not shown a measurable trend over the past 30 years.” (By the way, he cites Lean, 2005 for this.)

      At first blush, the NCAR study may appear to be the “smoking gun” the skeptics are seeking but, on the contrary, I predict it will be hailed by the AGW community for making an important incremental improvement to current GCMs and for resolving nagging inconsistencies between the models’ projections and observational data in the Pacific climate system. In other words, AGWers will claim that the models will become more accurate and credible because of Dr. Meehl’s work.

  4. Your Elizabethan could use some improvement. “Where for art thou” means “Why must you be” not “Where are you”.

    • If that were all that needed improvement!

      “Yet, Why must you be?” or twisting it a little, “Where did you come from?”, is not an inappropriate question.

      The working title was “Aspects of ENSO”, but of course there is some topicality in the question “You have long been expected, you show your face, but it seems you’re off again?”

      My Elizabethan is a bit like your punctuation.

      But, lets not worry about that. There are more important things to discuss.

  5. It’s a bit tough for me to parse all of the detail in this article.

    Is it your believe that this 2009 el nino will be minor, but there is a chance for a larger el nino in 2010?

    Also, do you have any prophetic views on the coming decades? Will we experience further step-up El Ninos like 1998/99 or will it be a period dominated by larger-scale La Ninas like 2008?

    The temperatures (sea and atmosphere) for 2009 appear to have rebounded to 2007 levels, and if this El Nino continues may push higher. Is this increase short lived ?

    • JK Thanks for the comment.

      Is it your believe that this 2009 el nino will be minor, but there is a chance for a larger el nino in 2010?

      Yes

      Also, do you have any prophetic views on the coming decades?

      I expect a quieter sun to produce gradually cooling temperatures in the southern hemisphere with a contraction in the subtropical zone that is subject to fluctuating cloud cover. Warming events should be less severe and cooling events deeper. Figure 9 in the following post shows the trend.

      https://climatechange1.wordpress.com/2009/06/29/the-southern-oscillation-the-young-persons-guide-to-climate-change/

  6. Thank you very much for the reply.

    One followup question – I was looking at a graph of the past few decades of NINO 3.4 anomalies – I could be misreading it, but I don’t see any double el ninos – one el nino that dies followed the next year by an el nino – the el ninos either seem to be multi-year or spaced out more.

    Am I misreading this? Would an el nino that dies down and is immediately followed by a larger el nino the next year an unusual event?

    Just curious. Thanks in advance, and I look forward to future postings!

    • JK. ‘EL Nino’ has a defined meaning in terms of amplitude and duration relating to sea surface temperature in the NINO 3.4 region. But as my post shows Nino 3.4 is not a good proxy for tropical sea surface temperature taken as a whole. I think the focus on the 3.4 region is unwarranted, misplaced and unhelpful. The warming actually occurs outside the equatorial region. We should be looking at the latitudes and longitudes where the warming occurs, and it is right up into the mid latitudes, especially in the northern hemisphere as my next post will show.

      We want to understand this phenomenon and the change in tropical and global temperature that it causes over time.

      In that wider context a warming in the tropics in general occurs on an annual basis peaking in March/April and there are occasional warmings in mid to late year.

      If we asked the question ‘how frequently would one expect an El Nino of the magnitude of 1997-8 then I believe the answer is that it occurs very rarely even though there were many in the last 30 years….and none in sight for the near future, as I try to show also in the coming post.

      Basically, sea surface temperatures rise with temperature in the stratosphere and that is determined by the strength of the polar vortex and geomagnetic activity. Small fluctuations occur on a weekly and a monthly basis.

  7. Hi Erl,

    “sunlight penetrates to 200-300 metres”

    This may be an imperial/metric mixup. Sunlight penetrates clear water to around 70m, in terms of the effective transfer of heat energy. How it get’s mixed down to around 1000m is a mystery I have been investigating.

    AGW oceanologist James Annan says subducting currents polewards do the job, but I’m not sure about this. There seem to be as many opinions on this as there are oceanologists…

    I think we get la nina at solar max and el nino after solar min because the oceans switch from heat absorption mode to heat emission mode. My studies suggest the equilibrium value is around 40 sunspots/month. The average throughout the global warming period has been substantially higher – around 75SSN.

    I agree with you that we may see a bigger el nino next year if the sun continues quiet. I also agree with you that this will be followed by substantially lowered global temperature, because the ocean heat content will have been reduced by this oceanic heat emitting phase, without the oceanic battery getting recharged by the solar charger.

  8. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/07/18/cern_cosmic_ray_gag/

    • Thanks for the endorsement but its not my thesis.


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