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El Nino Update

March 7, 2016
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By Paul Homewood 


Most of the indicators are now pointing to ENSO-neutral conditions by late spring/early summer.

The latest ENSO update from the NWS shows the warm water in the central and eastern Pacific continuing to break up and dissipate.







The change in the last four weeks is evident:




More significantly, there has been a dramatic reduction in upper ocean temperatures since the middle of January, with them virtually back to average.




Negative anomalies largely remain below the surface, but are spreading eastwards. Once the remaining hot spot has evaporated away in the east, there will be an awful lot of cold water around.





All of this warmth at the sea surface has had to go somewhere, and that somewhere is the atmosphere. The UAH anomaly has jumped from 0.54C to 0.83C. However, this sort of increase is not uncommon during El Ninos – there was a jump of 0.27C in 1998 between March & April, and 0.38C from December 2009 to January 2010.

Indeed what stands out is that we get such large monthly variations, due to natural oceanic changes, which dwarf claimed global warming trends.

Generally atmospheric temperatures peak about six months after the El Nino, which according to the MEI was last August. I would therefore be surprised if we have not seen the peak in temperatures, or at least something very close.  

However, if La Nina conditions return later in the year, we will be unlikely to see much effect on temperatures till next year.






  1. March 7, 2016 7:07 pm

    Reblogged this on Roald J. Larsen and commented:
    This might be right, however, the record breaking cold in huge areas, especially in Asia suggest the drop can be a lot sooner.

  2. spaatch permalink
    March 7, 2016 7:13 pm

    We are heading for back to back El Ninos…

  3. March 7, 2016 7:28 pm

    Nice work Paul. It looks like the odds are high that a significant La Niña will follow later this year and/or next year and help to bring global average temperatures back down.

    I’ve been looking at CFSR surface temperature estimates and it appears that much of this recent spike in global average temperature anomalies since October is from very warm air intruding into the Arctic. The CFSR global surface temperature anomalies have only shown small impacts from El Niño events, similar to the other surface temperature GHCN based estimates. This is even more true for the CFSR Arctic temperature anomalies, which show a recent huge spike that was not seen in past El Niño events. I don’t have a good hypothesis for this Arctic spike, but I believe it is more weather related than climate related. As you can see on the graph of the CFSR Arctic temperature anomalies since 1979 below, there have been a few other sharp high spikes. This one just happens to coincide with an El Niño and therefore is causing a greater impact on global temperatures.

    The CFSR Tropical temperature anomalies show the El Niño events well and show the current event. So, at least part of the current upward surge in global average temperature is attributable to the El Niño, but also a significant portion is from the recent Arctic warming that has not correlated with El Niños in the past and therefore is probably not directly related.

    The current El Niño seems to be having little effect in the overall significant downward trend in CFSR Antarctic temperatures since 1979. This downward trend is majorly inconsistent with the man-made CO2 induced global hypothesis and models.

    • March 7, 2016 8:01 pm

      Good point about the Arctic.

      I remember Roy Spencer or John Christy making the same point

      The problem with these Arctic intrusions is that they increase global temperatures, because the Arctic is so dry, but don’t change overall heat content. Indeed it can be argued that that warmth in the Arctic quickly disappears into space, thus losing heat.

      • March 7, 2016 9:09 pm

        Yes, when there is excess heat in the system for any reason, it is likely to get vented to the higher latitudes to be radiated to space under clear skies at night and sometimes that air will vent all the way into the Arctic. I made a Google slide show presentation showing NH GFS temperature contour analyses every four hours since late January that should be accessible here:

        It shows intrusions of less cold air coming into the Arctic mainly from the Atlantic between Greenland and Scandinavia, but also sometimes from the northern Pacific across Alaska and the Bering Sea. Some of these shots have passed right through the interior of the Arctic.

        One of these days I’m going to make a similar full NH winter 2015-2016 presentation with the daily Arctic CFSR temperature maps available from UM CCI.

    • AndyG55 permalink
      March 7, 2016 8:31 pm

      And let’s also remember,

      This is not heat, its a LESS COLD anomaly

      Its Arctic Winter up there. !

      I bet the Russians are absolutely loving that 3C or so increase in there mid winter temperatures. 🙂

      • March 7, 2016 8:58 pm

        AndyG55, you’re exactly right. I have been trying to remember to use “mild” instead of “warm” and “higher temperatures” instead of “warmer temperatures” etc for cold situations that are not as cold, but old habits are hard to break. This time I didn’t remember until right after I hit the “Post Comment” button. 🙂

        Here in Central Texas and probably likewise in Central Australia and a few other places, if the temperature increases in the summer it is getting “hotter”. So it’s all relative. Our summer heat waves invariably occur with dry spells and probably have more to do with the dryness and lack of rain that than anything else. I don’t think heat causes drought (although it may contribute to sustaining it), but drought definitely causes hotter temperatures than in wet periods in general.

  4. A C Osborn permalink
    March 7, 2016 7:33 pm

    Paul, they do not seem to understand your point that the storms that we have seen have brought the tropical warmth up to the top of the northern hemisphere and hence more quickly in to space.
    It temporarily warmed the troposphere on the way out of the atmosphere, thus cooling the planet.

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