Posts Tagged ‘El Niño-Southern Oscillation’

La Niña may come back for a third straight year

March 4, 2012

P. Gosselin reports on his blog that Norwegian scientists are already predicting that La Niña may come back for a 3rd year.

(Related: La Niña will last well into 2011 and could extend into 2012)

It wasn’t all that long ago when a number of climate scientists were projecting the Earth would soon fall into an almost permanent, increasing El Niño mode, where the surface temperatures of the equatorial Pacific would always be like what we saw in 1998 – all man-made.

Today a number of German-language papers are reporting that Norwegian scientist Tore Furevik of the Bjerknes Centre of the University of Bergen says he expects the opposite to happen at least this year. Furevik says that La Niña may come back for third straight year. “The situation is simlar to the previous year,” he says.

Die Welt here writes that “there are no signs that La Nina is going to disappear anytime soon” and that according to Norwegian experts “it will occur even more strongly than in 2011″.

The Wiener Zeitung of Vienna, Austria adds:

The La Niña phenomena has been persisting since 2010 and there are no signs of it going away. We had this strong cooling in 2010 and instead of getting warmer, we stayed in a long cold phase’, said Furevik. “And it appears as if an even stronger La Niña will occur.’”

Furevik’s La Niña forecast contradicts the experts’ forecast, where an ensemble of models show the trend towards an El Niño for the 2nd half of the year:

The pseudoscience of climate wars: climate does not control human violence

August 29, 2011

A welcome paper after last weeks nonsense where a new “scientific field” was created to study the effects of climate on human conflict. This paper claimed – by playing rather silly numbers games – that conflict was linked to the El Niño cycles. What passes for science: Mindless number games show El Niño correlates with civil war! Correlations do not necessarily indicate causality. It is not difficult to find correlations between entirely unrelated parameters. The El Niño – civil war correlation fulfils all the requirements of a pseudoscience.

The “Climate Wars” pseudoscience is clearly shown up by Dr. Bruno Tertrais in a new paper in The Washington Quarterly • 34:3 pp. 1729, The Climate Wars MythDOI: 10.1080/0163660X.2011.587951.

He writes:

The first decade of the 21st century was the hottest since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution….. Think tanks have enthusiastically embraced this new field of research, and militaries around the world are now actively studying the possible impact of a warming planet on global security. Books with titles such as Climate Wars predict a bleak future. 

A well-known French consultant claims that a five degree Celsius increase in average global temperature would generate no less than a ‘‘bloodbath.’’ Former World Bank economist Lord Nicholas Stern the author of the 2006 ‘‘Stern Report’’ on the possible economic impact of climate change even declares that failing to deal with climate change decisively would lead to ‘‘an extended world war.’’ 

However, there is every reason to be more than circumspect regarding such dire predictions. History shows that ‘‘warm’’ periods are more peaceful than ‘‘cold’’ ones. In the modern era, the evolution of the climate is not an essential factor to explain collective violence. Nothing indicates that ‘‘water wars’’ or floods of ‘‘climate refugees’’ are on the horizon. And to claim that climate change may have an impact on security is to state the obviousbut it does not make it meaningful for defense planning.

… if there was any significant link between warfare and warming, the number of conflicts should have been rising in the past two decades. It has not quite the contrary. Since the end of the Cold War, the total number of wars, after having steadily increased since 1945, has diminished. Statistics published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which come from work done at the Uppsala University, clearly show such a decrease. 

Some of the most catastrophic scenarios of climate change-induced conflict just do not stand up to scrutiny. … 

He concludes:

There are indeed, it seems, some causal links between climate and warfare. But they are of a seasonal nature: ‘‘nations address seasonal climate change in terms of where they fight, rather than through when or whether disputes occur.  . . . Fighting moves to higher latitudes in the summer, and lower latitudes during the cooler months of the year.’’ 
The stakes of climate change are important and that is why this area should not be the object of intellectual fantasies or fashions. It is appropriate for defense and security planners to monitor the evolution of the scientific and political debate on its possible consequences. But there is no objective reason today to list climate change as a key issue for defense and security planning.

Read the whole paper

What passes for science: Mindless number games show El Niño correlates with civil war!

August 25, 2011

Even making allowance for the fact that it is August when “silly season” stories come to the fore, this nonsense  does not bring much credit to the authors, Columbia University, Nature or the sponsors of the “study” who include the U.S. EPA, the brother of George Soros and the Environmental Defense Fund. Gullible journalists who are short of copy and create headlines from this kind of junk science are plentiful.

Civil conflicts are associated with the global climate Solomon M. Hsiang, Kyle C. Meng & Mark A. Cane, Nature 476, 438–441 (25 August 2011) doi:10.1038/nature10311 

pdf version here


The Guardian leads –

Climate cycles linked to civil war, analysis shows

Cyclical climatic changes double the risk of civil wars, with analysis showing that 50 of 250 conflicts between 1950 and 2004 were triggered by the El Niño cycle, according to scientists.

Researchers connected the climate phenomenon known as El Niño, which brings hot and dry conditions to tropical nations and cuts food production, to outbreaks of violence in countries from southern Sudan to Indonesia and Peru.

Solomon Hsiang, who led the research at Columbia University, New York, said: “We can speculate that a long-ago Egyptian dynasty was overthrown during a drought. This study shows a systematic pattern of global climate affecting conflict right now. We are still dependent on climate to a very large extent.”

JunkScience gives it short shrift:

Weather causes war, a new study claims. So should we limit CO2 emissions and give peace a chance? Make love not CO2?

The study published in this week’s Nature claims to correlate El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycles with wars around the world during 1950-2009. The study’s intended implication, then, is that if only we can stop climate change (i.e., limit CO2 emissions), peace will be at hand.

The study’s major problem, however, is that even if there is a statistical correlation (pardon the redundancy) between ENSO events and wars, the study authors failed to examine any of the actual socio-political circumstances surrounding the wars. To insinuate weather cycles as a cause of or contributor to war simply because they can be correlated is to mindlessly exalt numerology over socio-political reality. 

Next ENSO cycles are real and result in actual weather phenomena. Extrapolating the actuality of ENSO to the dubious hypothesis of catastrophic manmade global warming, is yet another leap of faith. The goal of this research is to link CO2 emissions with national security. That is, we don’t just have to wish for world peace anymore; we can stop burning fossil fuels, cooling our homes, driving SUVs, eating meat, etc. It is merely a ploy to tug at the consciences of conservatives who, as a tribe, otherwise generally oppose Al Gore-ism.


La Niña is back and will persist till 2012

August 22, 2011

In February Klaus Wolter came to the conclusion that there was an even chance that La Niña conditions could extend into 2012. He wrote then:

While La Niña conditions are guaranteed well into 2011, it remains to be seen whether it can rally once more to cross the -2 sigma barrier, and/or whether it will indeed last into 2012, as discussed six months ago on this page. I believe the odds for a two-year event remain well above 50%, made even more likely by the continued unabated strength in various ENSO indices.

Bob Tisdale points out at WUWT that

NINO3.4 SST anomalies (a commonly used El Niño-Southern Oscillation Index) have dropped significantly below the -0.5 deg C threshold of a La Niña Event. They are presently at approximately -0.74 deg C.

NINO3.4 SST anomalies

NOAA has yet to update its El Niño / La Niña forecasts but has called a “La Niña watch” but Bob Tisdale is ahead of them in calling the return of La Niña which is not too far away from Wolter’s forecast.

Update!! 8th September: NOAA now calls it:  La Niña is back

But reports that the money is already betting on La Niña conditions for this winter and into 2012:

Sentiment towards commodities lying in the traditional path of conditions known as La Nina is starting to turn more bullish, exacerbated by supply shortages in a number of products like iron ore and coal.

Forecasting models by the U.S. National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center predict La Nina will redevelop this autumn. “Atmospheric patterns continue to reflect La Nina-like conditions,” the weather body said.

La Nina is a periodic climatic phenomenon that brings more rain to the western Pacific, and to a lesser extent, to the eastern Pacific. Climatologists blamed La Nina for last year’s floods that gripped Australia, resulting in major losses to coal and iron ore stockpiles. 

But while it isn’t clear what impact La Nina might have on the production and shipment of commodities, its return isn’t expected to cause the same serious problems as in 2010. That’s because historically the La Nina weather phenomenon occurs in bursts of three consecutive years, with the first one being the worst and the next two much milder. ……

Joe Vaclavik, grains broker at Chicago-based MF global, said from an agricultural commodity markets perspective, the biggest fear of a second La Nina would be the continuation of the current drought in the U.S. southern plains, causing further damage to the winter wheat crop. ….. Matt Rogers, President of Maryland-based Commodity Weather Group, warned that possible effects from the second round of La Nina could bring above-normal precipitation in eastern Australia, but would actually benefit the wheat and barley crops in terms of moisture. Yet, dryness concerns could be an issue for Argentina and southern Brazil, which would experience lower amounts of rainfall, causing damage to wheat, corn and soybean yields.

And Indian and Japanese forecasters have already called La Niña conditions.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast an active wet spell for northwest India during the next five days and over east and adjoining central India during the next three days. This came about on a day when Japanese scientists assessed that the predicted return of La Nina conditions may already be happening.

Dr Jing-Jia Luo, Senior Scientist with the Climate Variation Predictability and Applicability Research Programme Research at RIGC, wrote to Business Lineon Friday that the La Nina condition is currently on the way back. This condition is forecast to persist until early next year, Dr Jing-Jia says, adding that a weak positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which mimics EL Nino-La Nina in the Indian Ocean, also may occur during the next few months.

Positive IOD refers to the warming of seas-surface temperatures in the western part of the Indian Ocean, and vice versa. Positive IOD has been found to favour a concurrent monsoon. Regional forecast from the RIGC said that the La Nina would bring cool to wet conditions over southern Africa, Australia, and Brazil during the southern hemisphere summer.

The confirming indicators for a La Niña event are accumulating – from the Indian monsoon to greater evaporation leading to increased rains expected in the Western Pacific in Australia, less rain in the Eastern Pacific on the western coast of S. America (coastal Chile and Peru) but increased rain on the east coast in southern Brazil and  northern Argentina.

La Niña and NAO driving current stormy weather

February 8, 2011
During cold La Niña episodes the normal patter...

La Nina Regional impacts: Image via Wikipedia

It may seem obvious (or it should be) that it is ocean currents that dominate weather and man-made effects pale into insignificance in relation to these. But it has been more politically correct to find that every kind of weather event is due to man-made global warming.

But as this article in PhysOrg shows, perhaps the oceans (and the sun) are beginning to get their due (but of course they don’t really care whether anybody believes in them or not – they just carry on).

The term La Niña refers to a period of cooler-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean that occurs as part of natural climate variability. This situation is roughly the opposite of what happens during El Niño (“the boy”) events, when surface waters in this region are warmer than normal. Because the Pacific is the largest ocean on the planet, any significant changes in average conditions there can have consequences for temperature, rainfall and vegetation in distant places. Scientists at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), part of Columbia’s Earth Institute, expect moderate-to-strong La Niña conditions to continue in the tropical Pacific, potentially causing additional shifts in rainfall patterns across many parts of the world in months to come.

These shifts, combined with socioeconomic conditions and other factors, are making some countries more vulnerable. However, La Niña and El Niño conditions actually allow for more accurate seasonal forecasts and help better predict extreme drought or rainfall in some areas. ………..

“Based on current observations and on predictions from models, we see at least a 90 percent chance that La Niña conditions will continue through March,” said IRI’s chief forecaster, Tony Barnston.

Climate scientists have found La Niña’s fingerprints on a number of extreme weather events such as the devastating flood that occurred in Pakistan in 2010, as well as flooding in West Africa, South Africa and most recently in Queensland, Australia, where an area equal to the combined size of France and Germany was underwater. La Niña is also to blame for Cyclone Yasi, one of the strongest to hit Australia, which came ashore on Feb. 2. Cyclone Yasi is the second most damaging Australian cyclone on record after Cyclone Tracy, which struck in 1974.

But La Niña isn’t to blame for the recent severe weather affecting the Northeast. Winter weather for these regions is often driven not by La Niña but by large-scale weather patterns over the U.S., the northern Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic. These are often short-term, and are generally predictable only a week or so in advance. They are the culprits responsible for the dip in temperatures and spike in snow storms in the Midwest and Northeast.


Since 1950, the world has experienced six major La Niña events, wreaking havoc in countries around the world. In 2000, for example, floods associated with La Niña affected 400,000 people in southern Africa, caused at least 96 deaths and left 32,000 homeless.

La Niña conditions typically persist for 9 to 12 months, peaking sometime during the end of the year. But 2010 was a lively year for climate scientists: For the first four months of this year, El Niño conditions prevailed in the tropical Pacific, but that quickly changed, and by June, a La Niña pattern had emerged.

“Last year’s transition from El Niño to La Niña was about the most sudden we’ve ever had,” Barnston said. “When we had rapid flips like this in the past, we sometimes ended up having a two-year La Niña, such as right after the El Niño episodes of 1972 to 1973 and 1997 to 1998.”

Barnston cautions that the likelihood of this happening with the current La Niña is unknown. “Even if we do have a second year of La Niña developing in northern summer 2011, we expect at least a brief return to neutral conditions from May to July of 2011.”


La Niña will last well into 2011 and could extend into 2012

February 5, 2011

A new article has been posted on the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration website and comes to the conclusion that there is an even chance that La Niña conditions could extend into 2012:

Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) by Klaus Wolter 4th February 2011

El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the most important coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon to cause global climate variability on interannual time scales. Here we attempt to monitor ENSO by basing the Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) on the six main observed variables over the tropical Pacific. These six variables are: sea-level pressure (P), zonal (U) and meridional (V) components of the surface wind, sea surface temperature (S), surface air temperature (A), and total cloudiness fraction of the sky (C). …… Negative values of the MEI represent the cold ENSO phase, a.k.a.La Niña, while positive MEI values represent the warm ENSO phase (El Niño)………

Discussion and comparison of recent conditions with historic La Niña events

In the context of the rapid transition of the MEI into strong La Niña conditions, this section features a comparison figure with strong La Niña events that all reached at least minus one standard deviations by June-July, and a peak of at least -1.4 sigma over the course of an event. The most recent moderate La Niña events of 1998-2001 and 2007-09 did not qualify, since they either did not reach the required peak anomaly (the first one) or became strong too late in the calendar year (both).

The updated (December-January) MEI value has strengthened slightly to -1.62 standard deviations after almost dropping below -2 standard deviations in August-September. Nevertheless, the most recent value ranks 2nd for this time of year, clearly below the 10%-tile threshold for strong La Niña MEI rankings , but slightly weaker than the value recorded in 1974. If one were to take the average of all MEI rankings since July-August (a six-month period), the strongest La Niña half-year periods of mid-55, ’73-74, and late ’75 averaged slightly stronger than the current event, for now (this is means Rank 4 for the current event, up one from last month).
Negative SST anomalies are covering much of the eastern (sub-)tropical Pacific in the latest weekly SST map. Many of these anomalies are in excess of -1C.
For an alternate interpretation of the current situation, I highly recommend reading the latest NOAA ENSO Advisory which represents the official and most recent Climate Prediction Center opinion on this subject. In its latest update (6 January 2011), La Niña conditions are expected to last “well” into the Northern Hemisphere spring of 2011. …….. While La Niña conditions are guaranteed well into 2011, it remains to be seen whether it can rally once more to cross the -2 sigma barrier, and/or whether it will indeed last into 2012, as discussed six months ago on this page. I believe the odds for a two-year event remain well above 50%, made even more likely by the continued unabated strength in various ENSO indices.

It seems self-evident ( even if not fashionable or politically correct) that the sun controls our climate and that the oceans do the sun’s bidding as they drive the atmosphere which then determines our weather.

The consequences of an extended La Niña into 2011 / 2012 could be

  • another good monsoon year in India,
  • a cold winter again for 2011/2012 in the Northern hemishere

La Niña begins to show up in global temperature

February 3, 2011

From Dr. Roy Spencer:

…although this, too, shall pass, when La Nina goes away.

January 2011 experienced a precipitous drop in lower tropospheric temperatures over the tropics, Northern Hemisphere, and Southern Hemisphere. This was not unexpected, since global average sea surface temperatures have been falling for many months, with a head start as is usually the case with La Nina.

This is shown in the following plot (note the shorter period of record, and different zero-baseline):

Read original report:

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