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What Role Does Geological Heating Play In El Ninos?

September 30, 2016

By Paul Homewood   





Geologist James Kamis offers his views on the latest El Nino:


The 2014-2016 El Niño “warm blob” was created, maintained, and is now being partially recharged by massive pulses of super-heated and chemically charged seawater from deep ocean geological features. Manmade atmospheric global warming had nothing to do with this El Niño, nor any previous El Niño.

Figure 1.) Partial Re-Warming of the 2014-2016 El Niño as expressed in the 9/26/2016 Shallow Sea Surface Temperature (SST) map. (red / yellow colors equal warmer ocean water (“warm blob”), blue colors equal cooler ocean water(“cool blob”, red dot equals geological heating source point)

Figure 1.) Partial Re-Warming of the 2014-2016 El Niño as expressed in the 9/26/2016 Shallow Sea Surface Temperature (SST) map. (red / yellow colors equal warmer ocean water (“warm blob”), blue colors equal cooler ocean water(“cool blob”, red dot equals geological heating source point)


A summary of the four lines of thinking supporting this claim are as follows; consistent failure of El Niño / La Nina forward-looking computer models, very good correlation of western Pacific Ocean strong earthquake occurrences to El Niño onset, the short term “eruptive” nature of El Niño ocean warming, and the very unique / one of a kind shape of El Niño warm blobs. This article will review each of these lines of thinking to start with the failed El Niño / La Nina computer models.

Supposedly state of the art computer climate models have failed to properly predict the timing and intensity of El Niño warming, La Nina cooling, and of late El Niño Partial Re-Warming (Figure 1). The progression of failed predictions during the last two years has caught everyone’s attention and can be paraphrased as follows; “El Niño has not started…oops it actually has started,  El Niño will last 12 months…oops 14 months,  when El Niño ends it will be followed by a strong La Nina…oops a weak La Nina…oops no La Nina just normal conditions”,  and finally “not sure what is happening will get back to you”.

It is now extremely obvious that something is very wrong with the current multi-billion dollar mainstream El Niño / La Nina climate analysis process, including the highly touted and often cited computer models. This analysis work is funded in large part by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). To be perfectly clear the problem is not the working level staff because these are highly qualified, motivated, and well-intentioned / apolitical scientists. Additionally, the problem is not the amount of data these folks run through their highly sophisticated computer programs.

So what is the problem? They are analyzing / inputting the wrong type of data! When searching for a cause or a timing of an El Niño event–including the current one–NASA and NOAA scientists are only utilizing atmospheric and oceanic data. Their computer models are loaded with just atmospheric and oceanic data. All of this data is here contended to be secondary in nature, it is side effect data that is not directly associated with the root cause of anomalous El Niño / La Nina cycles.

One example of how this works is as follows. Anomalous geological forces, specifically chemically charged and super-heated deep ocean seafloor fluid flow, heat the overlying ocean column thereby directly generating an El Niño warm blob. This heated warm blob then indirectly affects the overlying atmosphere in many ways such as altering the trade winds. NASA and NOAA scientists have observed these changes in trade winds and incorrectly assumed they are one of the important root causes of El Niño generation. They take this side affect trade wind data study it, then they computer model it, and then make predictions. When the model fails they add more trade wind data or other side effect data. This process is inherently incorrect and consistently fails.

Next, let’s discuss the correlation of western Pacific Ocean strong earthquake occurrences to El Niño onset. In February 2014 (Figure 2), there wasn’t any sign of anomalous El Niño warming in the key / telling area just west of Central America.  No bright red and therefore warmed ocean in this area on the SST Map. Beginning in April of 2014, a significant swarm of high magnitude earthquakes occurred in the Papua New Guinea / Solomon Island region. This swarm was related to a shift in the large deep-sea hot lava chamber beneath this region (see here). By May  2014, (Figure 3), an El Niño had formed. Note the bright red / super-heated ocean areas across the entire breadth of Pacific Ocean the SST map.

Figure 2) 2/2014 Post-Earthquake Swarm

Figure 2) 2/2014 Pre-Earthquake Swarm

Figure 3) 6/2014 Post-Earthquake Swarm

Figure 3) 6/2014 Post-Earthquake Swarm

In February of 2015, the emerging El Niño had diminished a small amount in response to diminished flow from the deep-earth hot lava chamber beneath the origin point as per Figure 4. Beginning in May of 2015, a second, and as it turns out a more significant, swarm of high-magnitude earthquakes occurred in the Papua New Guinea / Solomon Island region. This swarm signified another and larger movement in the deep-earth lava pocket.  This reactivation of the magma chamber initiated a stronger and longer-lasting, chemically charged, super-heated fluid flow pulse. By June 2015, as per Figure 5, the 2014-2016 El Niño was in full warming mode.


Figure 4.) 2/2015 Pre-Earthquake “Swarm”

Figure 4.) 2/2015 Pre-Earthquake “Swarm”

Figure 5.) 6/2015 Post-Earthquake “Swarm”

Figure 5.) 6/2015 Post-Earthquake “Swarm”


The correlation or western Pacific Ocean earthquakes to El Niño onset has also been tracked back historically by utilizing earthquakes data from the Solomon Islands area which is the geological Heat Source Point on all this articles figures. This process has yielded an excellent correlation.

The  El Niño ocean warming process occurs in very short “eruptive” bursts (Figure 6) and not in a uniform constant fashion. These bursts all originate at the same limited and fixed non-moving geographical point in the far-western Pacific Ocean. Once a burst of warm ocean water forms it maintains its shape and intensity as it is progressively moved by normal ocean currents eastward toward Central America. These  bursts are here interpreted as geologically induced fluid flow pulses from fractured rock layers above a deep earth  magma chamber. Deep ocean magma chambers, like land volcanoes, erupt in pulses. Eruptions of land volcanoes chemically charge and heat the atmosphere. Eruptions / activations of the Solomon Island / Papua New Guinea deep ocean magma chamber located at the Heat Source Point act to chemically charge and heat the overlying ocean. This is a significant part of the geologically induced formation of El Niño’s.


Read the full report here.



I have no strong views either way on this one. But a few things are clear and indisputable:


1) Since the PDO switch in 1976, we have experienced a run of strong El Ninos, principally 1982/3, 1997/8 and 2014/16.




2) Strong El Ninos, such as these, release substantial heat into the atmosphere. As such, they have long term effects on global warming.


3) Nobody, in my knowledge, has come up with any proper explanation for these cycles. 


4) There is no proven way as to how CO2 can be responsible for these sort of regional ocean surface warming events.



We know that there was a rise in global temperatures in the late 1970s, which coincided with the PDO switch and the upward cycle of the AMO. Until we can properly explain both phenomenons, we cannot begin to understand the cause of recent global warming, never mind future changes.

We will do neither while we are obsessed with CO2 as the only determinant of climate.

  1. Broadlands permalink
    September 30, 2016 11:53 pm

    The question asked might consider this…. (widely ignored?)…

    40,000 mile volcano…

    “A main question is to what extent the volcanism changes over time. The old idea was that the eruptions of oozing lava and related activity occurred at fairly steady rates. Now, studies hint at the existence of outbursts large enough to influence not only the character of the global sea but the planet’s temperature.Experts believe the activity may carry major repercussions because the oceanic ridges account for some 70 percent of the planet’s volcanic eruptions. By definition, that makes them enormous sources of heat and exotic minerals as well as such everyday gases as carbon dioxide, which all volcanoes emit.”

    Geological heat?

    • NeilC permalink
      October 1, 2016 6:14 am

      By definition, that makes them enormous sources of heat and exotic minerals as well as such everyday gases as carbon dioxide, which all volcanoes emit.

      Yes, they even measure the world’s CO2 levels on the side of the the biggest shield volcano at Mauna Loa. Which I’ve never understood as globally representative!

  2. October 1, 2016 12:31 am

    I was just reviewing this paper which I got from a different source (not this blog). Apparently, we know very little about the deep ocean having only explored a tiny fraction of the ocean floor. I am in no position to judge the merits of this paper, but wouldn’t it be rich if we eventually find that yes indeed, climate fluctuations are due to undersea volcanism and ocean currents? CO2. Hmmm.

  3. October 1, 2016 12:34 am

    Effect of emissions on warming not detectable probably because it is overwhelmed by nature.

  4. October 1, 2016 12:46 am

    I don’t place any confidence in the geothermal idea, even for El Nino. Two very basic reasons.
    First, that much heat leaving Earth’s mantle would be detectible other ways in the oceans–it isn’t.
    Second, ENSO relates to prevailing trades, which influence only the mixed zone, which is where warm water piles up until it surges east. And that warm mixed zone water is plainly only heated by incoming solar.
    in my opinion, skeptical communities need to hew to reasonably well established knowns, adamently reject fringy stuff as here, and admit remaining uncertainty. Even posting provably fringy stuff (WUWT on permafrost CO2 today, this easily refited geothermal stuff) do more harm than good politically.
    Short refutation: ENSO is a Pacific near surface water phenomenon. Geothermal heating would be a bottom of the Pacific up to top phenomenon. For which there is ZERO observational evidence. Nowhere is the thermocline inverted. Nowhere are ocean column convection cells observed. As Feynman observed, hypotheses have testable sequelae. If the observational tests don’t pan out, the hypothesis is wrong. As here.

    • Broadlands permalink
      October 1, 2016 1:40 am

      The testable hypothesis? It is that our addition of CO2 will, if it increases, “boost” the El-Nnos and create more havoc. The result, to date? Now at 400 ppm with a global increase of less than one degree C and a rise in sea level of less than a foot…after 200 years of adding 120 ppm of CO2, an increase of more than 40%. Feynman was right?

  5. Broadlands permalink
    October 1, 2016 1:06 am

    El Ninos are one part of three ENSO “cycles”.. The warming of El-Nino, the cooling of La-Nina and the “normal” of the “El-Nada”. Looking at the NINO 3.4 data (HadlSST 1,1) for the 20th century (1901-2000) the net effect of the three averages out to nil. The linear trend is level….while atmospheric CO2 has continued its rise. Hard to see or understand how our added CO2 (now at 400 ppm) is “boosting” El-Ninos or affecting geothermal input. Maybe someone can explain?

  6. martinbrumby permalink
    October 1, 2016 7:28 am

    Of course ristvan is right. We need to avoid being depicted as being in thrall to crackpottery.

    But I think that Paul and Anthony over at WUWT and Andrew (when he was still blogging) are right to air some counter-theories and odd ball ideas.

    Anyway, I for one am not taking lessons on gullibility from a bunch who claim a modern, developed economy can rely on whirligigs and solar panels (at 54 degrees North) for its energy.

    And as Harry Truman wisely pointed our, “An expert is someone who doesn’t want to learn anything new, because then he wouldn’t be an expert,”

    Maybe James Kamis has jumped out of his bathtub here and run naked down the street shouting “Eureka”. I have to admit, that doesn’t mean he’s Aristotle. But it also doesn’t prove he’s a loonie.

    I remember back in 2009, Ian Plimer published (what I thought was) a readable and fact filled, well referenced book, “Heaven & Earth”. As soon as it appeared (or even sooner), the great scientists Bob Ward, George Monbiot, DeSmogBlog and all the rest pounced on it and gave it a good kicking. Great lists of blunders were drawn up detailing all the egregious errors into which Plimer had apparently fallen. Looking through this, it quickly became obvious that on virtually every point, Plimer was right and Ward & Monbiot were talking bollocks. As is their wont. But on one paragraph in a big fat book they got some traction. Plimer had pointed out the prevalence of deep ocean volcanos and sea vents. “Rubbish!” they cried. Maybe I’m wrong but I seem to remember more than one Paper since that has confirmed that far more deep sea volcanos and vents have been found than was first thought. No matter, who has read Plimer’s book since?

    Then there was the announcement in 2013 that the Earth’s core wasn’t 5000 degrees Celsius, it was actually 6000 degrees. (Al Gore pitched for “millions of degrees” but even the BBC gave that a wide berth.) Anyway, there were a few snide comments from our side about “Settled Science” but otherwise, this 1000 degree Celsius jump just joined all the herd of invisible elephants in the Climate Science playroom. Although the Scientific ‘Elite’ all started bouncing off the walls and doing somersaults when fiddled data suggested 2015 was the hottest year evvaaaaah, by a stonking 0.01 degrees Celsius.

    So, I don’t know. Maybe Kamis is flat wrong. Maybe he has exaggerated. But I have to say that, if I was a Climate Scientist, one area I’d be looking at ‘in depth’ (in more ways than one) would be the area in the West Pacific that Kamis points to. How many Argo buoys there, I wonder? They send batallions of scientists all over the world, in the most modern exploration ships imagineable. Maybe Boaty McBoatface? A chance to hone up your scuba diving in the Pacific? Anyone?

    Maybe they already did that. Years ago. But if they did and found something ‘unexpected’, don’t expect to read about it in the next six weeks!

    • Nigel S permalink
      October 1, 2016 7:46 am

      He may not be Archimedes either but still worth considering as you say.

    • johnmarshall permalink
      October 1, 2016 9:53 am

      Recent research has claimed that there are over 3million volcanic vents on the planet’s surface, most of them below the ocean surface, all producing CO2.Prof. Plimer has agreed with this estimate.

  7. Malcolm Bell permalink
    October 1, 2016 8:17 am

    Hooray, a concept to study that makes thermodynamic sense. Conventional warmist said say CO^2 warms the air which warms the sea which warms the air.
    Not if the First Law of Thermodynamics is right it doesn’t. Heat only goes down hill, it doesn’t accumulate to make hotter blobs,

    This idea works – put a cooker hot spot at the bottom of the sea and bingo – all the rest happens. Simple.

    • johnmarshall permalink
      October 1, 2016 10:09 am

      Sorry Malcolm, that is the 2nd law. 1st law is a repeat of the law of conservation of energy. The alarmist energy flow diagram, the one with two lines and arrows, violates both 1st and 2nd laws. They then add fluxes with total disregard to the “per sq. m”, giving a stupid answer.

  8. John Peter permalink
    October 1, 2016 8:20 am

    It is back to this vexed question of quantity. I remember reading confirmation of this continued ingress of heat from the mantle into the Pacific in particular. The issue is not whether it happens or not. The issue is the volume, heat content and timing. How do we determine what the heat content is and whether it substantially matches up with the additional heat generated by an El Nino? Where are the “transport channels” located that moves this heat from the bottom of the ocean to the surface and thus into the atmosphere to correspond with the known movement of El Nino heat? Until that is mapped and verified ristvan’s views probably prevail.

  9. Malcolm Bell permalink
    October 1, 2016 8:23 am

    Ristvan gives himself away I think. He says ” … Does more harm than good politically”.

    POLITICALLY !!! — what has that got to do with science and the absolute necessity to be right. Is that what is going through people’s head, politics not science?

  10. Allan M permalink
    October 1, 2016 8:53 am

    If I remember correctly, it takes ~1300 times as much heat to warm a cubic metre of sea water as to heat a cubic metre of air. Volume for volume, the air would have to be 1300º hotter to warm the water by 1º. The only point of contact is the ocean surface. The atmosphere warming the ocean? Mickey mouse land.

    A large blob of chemically different and hotter water, therefore of different density, would surely take some time to mix and affect temperatures more than locally.

    Mr Kames may well have something.

  11. johnmarshall permalink
    October 1, 2016 10:13 am

    Whatever the answer the extra heat will excape to space over a short time period.

  12. Malcolm Bell permalink
    October 1, 2016 10:21 am

    Of course you are right JohnMarshall, I was trying to encapsulate the idea of the laws in a single statement as you have unraveled. In the process I made a mess of what I wrote.

    The key point is that we agree, the warmist a have got their thermodynamics wrong. The geological cooker hypothesis is way better as others writing after us illustrate the point even more clearly.

    Thank you for tidying it up.

    • johnmarshall permalink
      October 2, 2016 8:55 am

      That’s OK Malcolm the laws are not easy to get right especially if you read the old definitions. 2nd law can be reduced to three words:- “Entropy must increase”.
      Keep the sceptic arguments going.

  13. October 1, 2016 11:14 am

    I only got as far as Figure 1. No need to go beyond that.

    Figure 1 shows an area in the eastern tropical Pacific outlined as “El Nino ‘Warming'” when in reality there are La Nina to ENSO neutral conditions in the equatorial Pacific. Surface temperature anomalies in the NINO1+2 region do not define an El Nino. So the author needs to better understand the definition of an El Nino.

    Second, subsurface temperatures are monitored along the equator in the Pacific by the NOAA TAO Project, and there is no evidence that the warm surface water outlined in Figure 1 originated in the western equatorial Pacific.


    • October 1, 2016 5:57 pm

      Thanks Bob.

      What I’d really like to understand is the mechanism behind the PDO, as that seems to create the conditions for El Nino rich periods, and La Niña ones

  14. Broadlands permalink
    October 1, 2016 1:04 pm

    Martinbrumby… This may be the article you saw on deep sea volcanism?

    40,000 mile volcano

    “A main question is to what extent the volcanism changes over time. The old idea was that the eruptions of oozing lava and related activity occurred at fairly steady rates. Now, studies hint at the existence of outbursts large enough to influence not only the character of the global sea but the planet’s temperature. Experts believe the activity may carry major repercussions because the oceanic ridges account for some 70 percent of the planet’s volcanic eruptions. By definition, that makes them enormous sources of heat and exotic minerals as well as such everyday gases as carbon dioxide, which all volcanoes emit.”

  15. October 1, 2016 1:39 pm

    The title is correctly posed as a question. I respect ristvan and Bob Tisdale who answer “None.”

    I am open to persuasion, noting there are various serious researchers looking at geothermal heat fluxes under the ocean. Observations are limited (we spend more on space exploration than on the ocean floor), but some are convinced geothermal effects are not negligible. For example:

    The role of the geothermal heat flux in driving the abyssal ocean circulation

    The results presented in this paper demonstrate that the geothermal heat flux (GHF) from the solid Earth into the ocean plays a non-negligible role in determining both abyssal stratification and circulation strength. Based upon an ocean data set, we show that the map of upward heat flux at the ocean floor is consistent (within a factor of 2) with the ocean floor age-dependent map of GHF. The observed buoyancy flux above the ocean floor is consistent with previous suggestions that the GHF acts to erode the abyssal stratification and thereby enhances the strength of the abyssal circulation.

    We emphasize that while the diffusivity profiles employed herein were useful in investigating the role of GHF in the presence of a strong vertical decay of diapycnal mixing immediately above the ocean floor at a constant depth of 4 km, mid-ocean ridges reach up to 2000 m elevation above the sea floor in the real ocean and thus the bottom topography may also significantly influence the sensitivity of the overturning circulation to the GHF. Therefore, we conclude by noting that an accurate quantitative estimation of the influence of GHF will require application of global models with appropriate representations of the bottom boundary layer, an accurate map of basal heat flux, and a high quality representation of diapycnal mixing throughout the abyssal ocean.

    Click to access MashayekFerrariPeltierGRL13.pdf

    • October 1, 2016 5:41 pm

      Thanks Ron! Your posts are informative as ever and your blog is always worth a visit. Learned a new word:

      • October 1, 2016 7:27 pm

        I appreciate that gregole. I do want to explore this issue. As you know, one theme on my blog is Oceans Make Climate, and processing geothermal heat would be another aspect not previously considered. Of course, there needs to be some evidence that vents in the ocean floor have more than negligible impact.

  16. Sara Hall permalink
    October 1, 2016 4:52 pm

    I was looking for “temperature measurements of the deep ocean floor” and found this rather dubious (but thankfully short!) piece from NOAA.

    Why didn’t they even consider that just a tiny fraction of the warmth could have originated from undersea thermal activity? I know that numbers of huge, active volcanoes were discovered the year after (2011), but they should have at least considered that there was a possibility of thermal activity that might help explain the warming of the Antarctic deep water, before attributing it 100% to the atmosphere.

    • October 1, 2016 5:40 pm


      Thanks for the link:

      “The study, “Warming of Global Abyssal and Deep Southern Ocean Waters between the 1990s and 2000s: Contributions to Global Heat and Sea Level Rise Budgets,” authored by Sarah G. Purkey and Gregory C. Johnson, will be published in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Climate.”

      So measurements are being taken of the deep oceans – that’s interesting!

    • October 1, 2016 8:04 pm

      sara and gregole, the Purkey and Johnson paper concludes:

      In summary, we show that the abyssal ocean has warmed significantly from the
      1990s to the 2000s (Table 1). This warming does not occur uniformly around the globe
      but is amplified to the south and fades to the north (Fig. 8). Both the Indian and Atlantic
      Oceans only warm on one side, with statistically insignificant cooling on their other side.
      The recent decadal warming of the abyssal global ocean below 4000 m is equivalent to a
      global surface energy imbalance of 0.027 (±0.009) W m–2 with Southern Ocean deep
      warming contributing an additional 0.068 (±0.062) W m–2 from 1000–4000 m. The
      warming contributes about 0.1 mm yr–1 to the global SLR. However, in the Southern
      Ocean, the warming below 1000 m contributes about 1 mm yr–1 locally. Thus, deep
      ocean warming contributions need to be considered in SLR and global energy budgets.

      Click to access Purkey%20%26%20Johnson%202010.pdf

      • Sara Hall permalink
        October 2, 2016 8:21 am

        Thank you Ron!

  17. Broadlands permalink
    October 2, 2016 12:57 am

    Studies 30 years ago about the fate of CFCs have revealed that these uniquely man-made materials down-welled very quickly to abyssal depths in the Weddell Sea. What upwells in the Pacific must downwell somewhere else. All this doesn’t seem to have affected the HadlSST 1.1 ENSO 3.4 which as no trend at all over the 20th century. Atmospheric CO2 has, of course risen steadily…making “in part” no contribution? Neither, apparently, has submarine volcanic heat over the same period?

    • johnmarshall permalink
      October 2, 2016 9:05 am

      Broadlands, there is clear evidence of volcanogenic CFC’s from volcano eruption analysis.

  18. October 3, 2016 2:23 am

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

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