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Last Updated: 4:20 AM GMT on August 02, 2014
— Last Comment: 2:39 AM GMT on August 02, 2014
|Posted by: RickyRood, 10:49 PM GMT on August 01, 2014
Tracking El Niño: Summertime Update
Back in May 2014, I wrote a couple of blogs about El Niño predictions for this year (Tracking El Niño and Underlying Models). For those who need it, there are links to basic information such as definitions of terms in those blogs. This entry is an update.
One quote I want to bring forward from the May 20, 2014 entry, “Note, none of these centers are predicting, yet, strong, super or monster. I’m not as smart as those others [predicting the super and the monster], so right now I am steering away from “monster,” and looking forward to what we learn about prediction, the climate as a whole and, of course, how we communicate our science.”
I had three reasons to avoid going along with the “super” and the “monster.” First, reading the dispassionate words of several forecast centers, there was little suggestion of an extraordinarily strong event. Second, it’s usually not wise to predict extraordinary extremes without a lot of evidence, because extremes are rare. Finally, as was the case in my cranky response to the return of the polar vortex, the increasing exaggeration and personification of weather events and their implications for climate change are distinctly negative contributions. Of course, it probably costs me readers.
I’m not very good with search engines and analytics, so forgive my shortcomings in actually providing meaningful numbers. I used the Search Tools in Google and looked at the last three months. I’m just going to take a few titles and links from the first page of the results.
El Niño is coming: Epic event ahead? - The Weather Network
We Are heading for the Most Powerful Super El Niño Event
Are We Heading for a Worrying Super El Niño?
Real Climate: El Niño or Bust (thank goodness)
Odds Against Formation of a 'Super El Niño,' Experts Say
Looks like yet another false alarm. Probably no super monster El Niño coming this year
El Niño 2014: Early strength fades
Warmist Year Of Disappointment? Likelihood Of “Super El Niño” Rapidly Fading…Arctic Set For Impressive Rebound
El Niño plays coy with forecasters in 2014
While a 'super' El Niño looks to be off the table, what does develop this year might not deliver what many Canadians are hoping for
The 2014 El Niño is looking more and more like a bust
What’s the three month arc there? From super and monster to yet another false alarm and bust. What was the evidentiary information for super and monster as adjectives back in May? How did super and monster enter into and flash to the top of headlines? Worth studying and thinking about.
In my entry from May 29, 2014 I wrote, “even a moderate El Niño this year is likely to lead to the hottest year on record.” My rationale for this statement is that we are living in the hottest decade since we have had easily defended direct temperature measurements. We have remained warm, globally, despite relatively cool temperatures in the eastern Pacific. Given the importance of the eastern Pacific to the global picture, even a small break in the cool pattern is likely to lead to globally historic highs. Though too early to declare 2014 as warmest, as summarized in Jeff Master’s July 24, 2014 entry, June 2014 was the warmest June since modern temperature records began in 1880, May 2014 the warmest May, April 2014 the warmest April.
OK what’s happening with El Niño? I want to trace this through the prediction centers and the last three months. Also it’s an exercise in the organization and usability of web-based information.
From the Climate Prediction Center
May 8, 2014, Diagnostic Discussion (and my blog)
“Chance of El Niño increases during the remainder of the year, exceeding 65% during summer.”
June 5, 2014, Diagnostic Discussion
“The chance of El Niño is 70% during the Northern Hemisphere summer and reaches 80% during the fall and winter.”
July 10, 2014, Diagnostic Discussion
“The chance of El Niño is about 70% during the Northern Hemisphere summer and is close to 80% during the fall and early winter.”
July 28, 2014 (Update)
“ENSO-neutral conditions continue. // Sea surface temperatures (SST) are above-average in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. // Tropical rainfall is slightly enhanced over Indonesia and in the western equatorial Pacific. // Chance of El Niño is about 70% during the Northern Hemisphere summer and is close to 80% during the fall and winter.”
From the Japanese Meteorological Agency
May, 2014, El Niño Outlook (from my blog, can’t find archive on JMA page)
“It is likely that El Niño conditions will develop during the northern hemisphere summer and will continue to autumn.”
July 10, 2014, El Niño Outlook
“El Niño conditions did not form in June, though the NINO.3 SST deviation from normal increased from May to June. // The possibility of development of El Niño conditions in this summer is lower than previous forecasts. // It is likely that El Niño conditions will develop during the northern hemisphere autumn.”
From the Australian Bureau of Meteorology
May 6, 2014, ENSO Wrap-Up (and my blog)
“Climate models surveyed by the Bureau suggest El Niño development is possible as early as July. These factors indicate that while El Niño in 2014 cannot be guaranteed, the likelihood of an event developing remains at least 70% and we are at El Niño ALERT level.”
June 3 2014, ENSO Wrap-Up
“The tropical Pacific Ocean remains on track for El Niño in 2014, with just over half of the climate models surveyed by the Bureau suggesting El Niño will become established by August. An El Niño ALERT remains in place, indicating at least a 70% chance of an El Niño developing in 2014.”
July 1, 2014, ENSO Wrap-Up
“While the tropical Pacific Ocean surface temperature is currently at levels typically El Niño ALERT associated with a weak El Niño, waters below the surface have cooled and atmospheric patterns continue to remain neutral.
However, over the past fortnight changes have occurred in the atmosphere that may be a response to the warm surface waters–the Southern Oscillation Index has dropped by over 10 points, and weakened trade winds have re-appeared.
These changes would need to persist for several weeks in order for an El Niño to be considered established, and it remains possible they are simply related to shorter term weather variability.
Climate models surveyed by the Bureau continue to indicate that El Niño is likely to develop by spring 2014. The Bureau's ENSO Tracker remains at El Niño ALERT, indicating at least a 70% chance of El Niño developing in 2014.”
July 29, 2014, ENSO Wrap-Up
“Despite the tropical Pacific Ocean being primed for an El Niño during much of the first half of 2014, the atmosphere above has largely failed to respond, and hence the ocean and atmosphere have not reinforced each other. As a result, some cooling has now taken place in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, with most of the key NINO regions returning to neutral values.
While the chance of an El Niño in 2014 has clearly eased, warmer-than-average waters persist in parts of the tropical Pacific, and the (slight) majority of climate models suggest El Niño remains likely for spring. Hence the establishment of El Niño before year's end cannot be ruled out. If an El Niño were to occur, it is increasingly unlikely to be a strong event.”
From the International Research Institute,
2014 May Quick Look (and my blog)
“During April through mid-May the observed ENSO conditions moved from warm-neutral to the borderline of a weak El Niño condition. Most of the ENSO prediction models indicate a continued warming trend, with a transition to sustained El Niño conditions by the early northern summer.”
2014 June Quick Look
“During May through mid-June the observed ENSO conditions remained near the borderline of a weak El Niño condition in the ocean, but the atmosphere so far has shown little involvement. Most of the ENSO prediction models indicate more warming coming in the months ahead, leading to sustained El Niño conditions by the middle of northern summer.”
2014 July Quick Look (There are some confused links on IRI page, that I will need to fix in the future.)
“During June through early-July the observed ENSO conditions remained near the borderline of a weak El Niño condition in the ocean, but the atmosphere so far has shown little involvement. Most of the ENSO prediction models indicate more warming coming in the months ahead, leading to sustained El Niño conditions by the middle or late portion of northern summer.”
Returning here to some of the details in the Climate Prediction Center’s Diagnostic Discussion.
“Over the last month, no significant change was evident in the model forecasts of ENSO, with the majority of models indicating El Niño onset within June-August and continuing into early 2015. The chance of a strong El Niño is not favored in any of the ensemble averages for Niño-3.4. At this time, the forecasters anticipate El Niño will peak at weak-to-moderate strength during the late fall and early winter (3-month values of the Niño-3.4 index between 0.5oC and 1.4oC). The chance of El Niño is about 70% during the Northern Hemisphere summer and is close to 80% during the fall and early winter.”
Analysis at the end of a blog
The forecast summaries from these four centers are consistent in the sense that none of them are calling for a strong El Niño, much less a super or monster El Niño. It is also true, that the forecast centers summaries NEVER called for a strong El Niño in their public releases of information.
All of the centers are maintaining that it is more likely than not that the criteria for an El Niño will be met. The onset, originally predicted for the middle of northern hemisphere summer, keeps moving into the future. The strength of predicted El Niño is projected to be from weak to moderate.
Looking at the press and blogs reports, I would be interested to see in the blog comments how people think “super” and “monster” entered into the discussion. There is a burst of the adjectives in the press and blogs in May, followed quite quickly in June by people distancing themselves from the extreme description. Accompanying this distancing is the growth of commentary in the press and blogs about exaggerated claims and failed models. I point out explicitly, there is no language of exaggeration in the summaries from the prediction centers, which should be viewed as the basic knowledge-based information. Therefore, there is no foundation to say these models have failed in any fundamental sense.
Looking more deeply at the discussions that are only summarized above, the models originally anticipated an atmospheric response to the changes in the sea surface temperature. These responses are not being realized, which is summarized a couple of places above as “atmosphere so far has shown little involvement.” This does, to perhaps only me, raise the question about the state of the atmosphere going into the beginning of the El Niño event. As noted in my previous blogs, there are a couple of documented and persistent extremes, the changes in the Arctic and the very strong trade winds in the eastern Pacific. This brings me back to my conjecture “From the point of view of predicting El Niño, during this prediction cycle we have levels of sea ice that are far lower than in previous El Niño cycles. This changes the heat exchange between the atmosphere and ocean in the Arctic. This is outside of the range of previous variability, which intrinsically increases the uncertainty in the forecast.” Might be a good idea for a proposal.
I close with a mention of NOAA’s ENSO Blog. Michelle L’Heureux wrote an entry on July 25, 2014 entitled What’s the hold up, El Niño? Michelle L’Heureux also wrote Real Climate: El Niño or Bust, where I put the “thank goodness” above. Perhaps that’s the name to look for El Niño news this summer.
I like the effort from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology to summarize the criteria for El Niño and La Niña watches, alerts and existence, in addition to the neutral phase.
Figure 1: ENSO Tracker indicating an El Niño WATCH (left) and El Niño ALERT (right). Far more details from Australian Bureau of Meteorology. In the July 29, 2014 update, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology shifted from Alert to Watch
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Updated: 4:20 AM GMT on August 02, 2014
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|Posted by: RickyRood, 2:14 AM GMT on July 25, 2014
Models and Planning for Climate Change
I have written many blogs about models and modeling of climate. My collection includes a 2012 tutorial approach where I show that climate modeling is the process of calculating a budget, with many similarities to keeping the balance of a checking account (Introduction and end). In 2012, I wrote a piece on uncertainties in models and a number of ways to evaluate and to place model uncertainty in decision making. I...
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Updated: 2:54 AM GMT on July 25, 2014
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|Posted by: RickyRood, 6:49 PM GMT on July 13, 2014
Monday It Will be 80 degrees in Yellowknife
The forecast for Monday in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories is for a high temperature of about 80 F. Pretty nice. Sunday it’s predicted to be 80 in Inuvik, here’s a link to the Inuvik Weblog: Saving lives above the Arctic Circle!
Of course the more important news is that “Temperatures could drop to sweatshirt weather by Tuesday, when an unseasonably cool pool of air is expected to reac...
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Updated: 5:35 PM GMT on July 14, 2014
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|Posted by: RickyRood, 10:49 PM GMT on July 09, 2014
Sea-Level Variability: A Primer
The comments in the last blog helped me realize the complexities of sea-level rise. In this entry I am going to explore sea-level rise more rigorously. I will continue using the East Coast of the U.S. as a case study.
One of the most certain consequences of the warming planet is that sea level will rise and land will be flooded. My mantra is that the temperature of Earth’s surface will rise, ice will melt, ...
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Updated: 5:36 AM GMT on July 10, 2014
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|Posted by: RickyRood, 5:08 AM GMT on June 30, 2014
North Carolina's Friendly Mountain Breezes, Sandy Beaches and Sea-Level Rise
In the last entry, I promised to write more about sea-level rise on the East Coast of the U.S. My motivation is, partially, the North Carolina General Assembly putting a moratorium on rules, plans and policies that were based on the projections of greater sea-level rise. The NC Coastal Resources Commission was directed to provide a sea-level projection to be used by planners. T...
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Updated: 3:19 PM GMT on July 03, 2014
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