Ocean Temperature Anomaly Hits Extraordinary +1.12 C Above Average Reading on April 22, All Australian Weather Models Now Predict El Nino for 2014

With the ever-more certain approach of El Nino, the world ocean surface is starting to radiate more and more heat.

Over the past four days, GFS assessments have shown positive temperature anomaly values in excess of +1 degrees Celsius (C) above the, already hotter than normal, 1979 to 2000 average (which was, itself, about .5 C above the low averages seen during the period of 1880 to 1920). With each new dawn, readings ramped higher and, by today, those temperatures had spiked to an extraordinary +1.12 C hotter than ‘normal’ for the entire global ocean system.

TS_anom_satellite1 April 22

(Global oceans hit extreme +1.12 surface temperature anomaly. Data from NOAA’s Global Forecast Systems model visually depicted by the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer.)

The equatorial Pacific region hovered near El Nino values with readings of +.44 to +.45 C approaching the El Nino threshold of +.5 C. It is worth noting that the Eastern Equatorial Pacific has consistently shown below average temperatures during recent years as strong trade winds drove both upwelling of cooler waters and atmosphere-to-ocean heat transfer. Meanwhile, the Western Pacific spiked to much hotter than normal readings as heat content just kept piling up in a broad zone east of the Philippines.

Extraordinary high temperature departures have also cropped up across other regions. The Northern Hemisphere, for example, showed an extraordinary +1.56 temperature anomaly for April 22. This exceptional reading was fed by extreme northern ocean temperatures in the Barents Sea above the Arctic Circle at +4-5 C above the 1979 to 2000 average and a very warm pool in the Pacific Ocean south of Alaska ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 C hotter than normal.

Aside from these zones of extreme heat, almost all Northern Hemisphere waters now display hotter than average temperatures.

All Australian Models Now Show El Nino

These excessively high global ocean temperature readings come on the same day that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issued new findings showing that every climate model run by that agency now predicts El Nino for 2014. The BOM notes:

The likelihood of El Niño remains high, with all climate models surveyed by the Bureau now indicating El Niño is likely to occur in 2014. Six of the seven models suggest El Niño thresholds may be exceeded as early as July.

At issue is the fact that reversals of the trade wind, known as west wind back-bursts (WWB), are currently ongoing both east of the Solomon Islands and in the Central Pacific Ocean. Real-time observation of western Pacific wind flow through composite weather model data shows a broad field of westerly winds of about 5-15 mph velocity centered at 1.7 degrees South, 156 degrees East. A second cyclonic circulation north of Tahiti at 2.9 North, 139 West in the mid Pacific Ocean has also generated a 5-15 mph west wind.

Overall, these counter trade wind flows help to push down-welling warm water in the Western Pacific eastward, spreading hot waters across the surface and amplifying the force of what, during March, was the most powerful Kelvin Wave on record. Factors that bring with them the potential for an extraordinarily powerful monster El Nino for 2014-2015, continued positive ocean surface temperature extremes, and major weather disruptions associated with both human warming and the global tilt toward the warm extreme that is El Nino.

Links:

Climate Reanalyzer

BOM ENSO Wrap-up

El Nino’s Arrival Seen by All Models

Real Time Global Surface Wind Data

Monster El Nino Emerging From the Depths

Potential For El Nino Spikes as Record Pacific Ocean Heat Content Continues to Emerge

Hat Tip to Colorado Bob

 

 

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45 Comments

  1. As a general comment, I’d also like to note that with ocean temperature anomalies spiking, we have a rising potential for deluge in certain regions. So we may need to keep eyes peeled for rivers of moisture…

    Reply
    • Simply put… Thank you for your work to get this published!

      Reply
      • Cheers Steve and thanks! No time to waste right now. GIS (Greenland Ice Sheet) now taking on a surge of heat from Europe/North Atlantic that is highly anomalous. I’m worried about the rain/snow line invading the ice sheet. Should such occur it would be an extraordinary and rather ominous event for April.

  2. It’ll all be “happening” soon enough, one suspects…

    Reply
  3. Implication: global temperatures will rise to a new maximum. What will the denialists say then, I wonder?

    Reply
    • Probably just bring up some other distraction and wait until temps move off the peak to claim global warming ‘disappeared.’

      Reply
    • Andy (in San Diego)

       /  April 23, 2014

      They will say “see the temperature has not risen significantly since 2015.”

      Very similar to the currently cherry picked year of 97/98 for the denialist sound bite du jour.

      Reply
      • Exactly. But when PDO flips, temps will rocket up much more rapidly. They won’t have the same cover. Fossil fuel supporters will have shift back to doublespeak.

    • colinc

       /  April 23, 2014

      “Oh, yeah, that’s how it always starts. Then there’s the running and the screaming and the dieing.” (Dr. Ian Malcolm, The Lost World – JPII)

      It would be a mistake to ‘bet’ that the incipient El Niño, IF it manifests, will result in global weather patterns similar to past occurrences. (Except, of course, that global mean temperatures will spike!) I’ll take even money that any ‘near-term’ or later PDO event will only serve to exacerbate and intensify the ‘stuck’ weather phenomena we’ve been witnessing these past ‘few’ years, including the drought-stricken crop-producing regions around the world. It matters not whether you burn coal, oil, gas, uranium or the ‘furniture,’ without water there will be NO electricity. Then the real fun begins.

      Reply
      • We see a modified El Niño disposition now.

        Split jet off the west coast, stronger block than usual for El Niño. Exaggerated west east dipole. Dry Southeast Asia (worse with added effect of climate change), dry Brazil, warming in Eastern Europe and Asia.

        Added influences come from dis associations of the upper level cold vortex at the pole. Oh, and NAO appears to be exaggerated as well.

        Joys.

    • They’ve already started their next meme.
      It goes; “Global warming is good for us”.
      I kid you not.

      http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/04/04/World-doing-just-fine-Global-Warming-is-Good-CO2-is-our-friend-say-Scientists

      [Warning - mind-meltingly stupid article alert]

      Despite the fact that I (and many others) predicted precisely this response from the Denial Industry I still don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

      Reply
      • I had read that before; it is a mind numbingly stupid article and the comments that followed it: man. All I can say is that when the changes happen in full swing it won’t discriminate based on politics who it claims as its victims. I’s fascinating from an evolutionary perspective, and I say this as someone who studies evolution on a daily basis. Either the atomic and molecular systems that comprise us will adapt to changes in the environment in a dynamic fashion or humanity as a whole will die out.

        The earth has gone through major catastrophes since its birth as a planet (starting with the creation of the moon, as much a part of the earth system as the sun and the rest of the universe) and it will not only endure this one, but come out ahead, as it has in the past to give rise to us. I was concerned about the velocity but here’s a claim that the changes 55 mya which previously was thought to have taken in 10,000 years actually happened in 13: http://phys.org/news/2013-10-climate-geological-instant.html

        While a single paper by itself doesn’t say much, scientific peer review is my minimum standard for believing something as a scientific fact. So it’s fascinating to think that our current hundred+ year process may not be that unique in terms of velocity even in the past history of the earth and given the vast number of amplifying feedbacks all working together, anything can happen. Again, I think the Arctic is the place to watch.

        Overall, I think people are in denial or being disingenuous. The former is excusable and is stage to acceptance; the latter is the reason we’re having the problems we’re having. I do see some ways out and humans can adapt but only if there’s enough lead time (i.e., it’s self-fulfilling). I do think the majority of humanity will suffer as a result of this inaction (since the carbon cycle has still not yet reached equilibrium with the emissions from the last few decades).

        However, my concern isn’t the denial industry even though they aggravate me. It’s our inability to truly make sacrifices and look ahead. Most of humanity, even if they believe in AGW, is in a hedging mode.

      • The paper only deals with pace of temperature change, not the velocity of ghg build up. Nor does it take into account that we have ice caps now. There’s a difference — going from glaciation to hothouse. A rather crucial one if you look at the Permian.

        Now… Once you get down to the physical laws. The ones that govern molecules and atoms, then there’s not much hope. At this point, behavior change is the best option.

        http://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/when-burning-is-no-longer-moral-a-call-for-fossil-fuel-abolition/

      • I’m unclear on what you mean with regards to velocity of GHG buildup since the paper referenced (I pointed to an article discussing it but the original paper itself is below) is indeed making an argument about the rate of release of carbon at the PETM. There was a rebuttal to that (actually two) and then the authors rebutted them back. Here’s a sampling of three articles (the original, a response, and the final response back which I think is actually the best one):

        http://www.pnas.org/content/110/40/15908.long

        http://www.pnas.org/content/111/12/E1062.full

        http://www.pnas.org/content/111/12/E1068.full

        There is one more, if you look below the first one (if there is interest I will post the links to them all and since some of it is behind a paywall I can post the abstracts).

        My point simply is that a process that previously was thought to have occurred over a period of 10,000 years was posited to have occurred in a decadal time scale, so the current changes we’re seeing could rapidly feedback into each other in a way we’ve not fully grasped yet. That is, I’d place bets on humanity going extinct (zero members of the populace) in a couple of hundred years if it’s BAU, perhaps hundred, but the first and last paper linked above make the case for far more rapid changes.

      • Good points, Ram.

        I suppose I should have been more clear. My view, based on reading of the current science, but still just a somewhat informed opinion, is that whatever release occurred during the PETM was initiated by forcing on the environment which, in turn, catastrophically responded.

        I don’t see much evidence in the research for any kind of CO2 bearing comet anywhere in the geological record, nor particularly here.

        Given the pace of warming, it makes sense that the initial release occurred as methane which then denatured to CO2 or from CO2 from another environmental source.

        The paper’s conclusions, as yet, remain unvalidated, are based on some rather unsupported suppositions (CO2 comets etc) and there’s a bit of evidence that seems to refute a number of the findings.

        In any case, if the Earth did warm by 5 C in 13 years due to a 3,000 gt C release my view is that it was based on some internal environmental feedback that we haven’t fully pinned down yet. Culprits could include biosphere burning, burning of carbon in soil, clathrate release, deep ocean turnover and breakdown of large volumes of methane into CO2 before or after atmospheric release.

        I’ve done a bit of researcj on the speculative issue that an energetic sea bed release of clathrate could transfer some of the stored sea bed CO2 to the surface where it would mix with the atmosphere. But that’s a bit further past the cutting edge than I’m usually comfortable venturing.

        My last point is to go back to my early statement and mention that we do have ice sheets which tend to act as a bit of an insulator. So if such a large feedback release occurred we probably end up with the blessing/curse of slower temperature rise combined with far more rapid melt and related consequences.

        As to the assertion that the Earth System could rapidly feedback based on this study’s initial findings. Yes! That’s a huge concern.

      • I totally agree with you that those papers are on the cutting (bleeding) edge which is why I posted the original and the rebuttal so people can decide for themselves. I myself would say I’m only taking a “wait and see” approach with regards to this one. If others can replicate this result, then we’d have something to go on. The paper is purely about the C13 gradient in the clay, with some supporting evidence from the plankton, but it doesn’t say how it happened. The comet is pure speculation IMO. I also think it’s most likely if there was such an instantaneous release of carbon (3000 GtC), it probably happened via clathrate release.

        Finally, I also agree that conditions are now quite different from the PETM in many ways, especially considering the chaotic nature of such systems. As I mentioned, this is the first time I’ve seen a paper (at least in a journal with IF >= 4) claiming abrupt climate change is what occurred for one of the other previous mass extinction events.

    • Mark from New England

       /  April 23, 2014

      They’ll just say it’s a ‘natural cycle’ – El Nino coming around again – and they will be partially correct – but they don’t want to understand that these natural cycles are enhanced or fortified by human GHG emissions.

      Reply
      • This is where what is intentional deception comes in. Here you have a valid scientific observation that is taken out of context in order to serve a narrow and destructive agenda.

  4. Phil

     /  April 23, 2014

    Things are certainly interesting with the weather models saying that chances of El Nino have increased while the SOI has quickly retreated back towards ENSO neutral territory.

    Will be interesting to see how things pan out and whether the WWB’s will kick things along sufficiently for further development of a strong El Nino.

    Reply
  5. mikkel

     /  April 23, 2014

    Is there a chance the overall ocean will stay at similar anomalies even after El Nino forms? Wouldn’t that make a strong El Nino cause ~1.6C overall anomaly? Surely if that happens then records will be smashed by even more than 0.2C

    Reply
    • The overall ocean anomaly will tend to increase with El Niño. There’s a possibility we beat +.2 C. If we do, we’ll be testing Mann’s 2 C by 2036 hypothesis.

      The .05 to .2 range is based largely on historic boundaries with some ex cession due to human forcing.

      Reply
  6. I just watched a 2013 Weather Channel report on the permafrost situation in Alaska. The “Stinking Hills” segment was particularly revealing. Apparently, the CO2 and methane releases from warming permafrost were not included in the IPCC’s fifth climate assessment report released last year (see: http://www.weather.com/news/science/environment/melting-arctic-permafrost-looms-major-factor-warming-climate-change-20130927). So, the report conservatively understated what’s actually happening.

    It’s getting really difficult to keep a positive attitude about reversing climate change. I just don’t see how we’re going to get out of this mess.

    Reply
    • We’re not getting out of this mess, not now. Too many decades were squandered, and still no sign of action in the right directions anyway (just the opposite in fact). That doesn’t mean we can’t still do productive and useful things however.

      Reply
      • I think Anne Sexton wrote a book of poems entitled “Live or Die.” She killed herself, of course. The sentiment is worthy, though. I like to think that we should act as if there is a point to all this, and try best we can to get together and live as humans should, should we choose to keep on living. What other action could be more pleasant? Even in the face of near-certain doom? Do it even though, do it out of respect for life. And keep speaking truth to power, whatever way suits you. Because a life devoid of response to these horrors is an empty life.

    • Removal of bad actors, then full emergency response at a global scale.

      We’ve already locked in just slightly less than 2 C of short term warming and about 3.9 C of long term warming. This is catastrophic but nowhere near as bad as what happens if we keep burning fossil fuels.

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  April 23, 2014

        Robert, I seem to recall from a previous article that you mean a few decades by short term, and a century plus for long term. Is that basically correct?

      • Without major ice sheet response, it looks like we hit 2 C (+1.2 C from now) sometime between 2030 and 2050 under BAU. If we fully shut down fossil fuel use, it looks like we can delay the 2 C number til sometime around 2040 to 2080. This range is what I’m calling short term. (Mann finds 2 C warming by as early as 2036 under BAU emissions).

        It’s worth noting that to hit the 2 C number by 2036, global temperatures have to increase by, on average, about .05 C each year from now to then, a very rapid jump of about .5 C per decade or about 2-3 times as fast as what we’ve seen thus far. So the models pointing to 2 C by 2036 assume added feedback response and a natural variability backlash by that time.

        Long term is on the centuries scale once all the so called slow feedbacks kick in. So under current forcing (with removal of aerosol negative feedbacks), you hit 4 C at about 5 centuries on.

      • Phil

         /  April 23, 2014

        Of interest assuming, for argument sake, that the PDO has a 30 year period and we are about half way through the current cycle, then this means that the flip to the warm phase of the PDO would ocurr at a time to reinforce the global warming induced march to 2 deegrees C warming. In that case, both the man made component and natural variation forcing would be self-reinforcing at a dangerous time – both global warming and warm phase of PDO most probably reinforcing the likelihood, length and severity of El Nino events.

        That is something ignored by the deniers who are pining for natural variation to moderate temperature increases so they can keep spinning their arguments that there is a problem and that we do not need to do anything now. They forget that natural variability will also eventually work the other way and reinforce the impacts of global warming.

        Even with the possible onset of a powerful El Nino latter this year, alot of them are more focused on the possibility of a strong La Nina to follow it.

      • 30 years of rapid atmospheric warming. Now that’s a rather scary thought. Although, I think the effects of current ocean heating are pretty dangerous as well. I guess you pick your poison. In any case, 15 years from now, things will be quite a bit worse.

        Not certain the 30 year PDO cycle is an exact lock, though the last cycle lasted about that long. In any case, I suppose there’s still a declining chance of no El Nino or weak El Nino.

        I’m thinking someone should write a spoof novel about the deniers and call it ‘Denier Games.’ It’s gallows humor, though, ’cause it’s a pretty dangerous game.

      • Phil

         /  April 24, 2014

        The issue of length of PDO is an interesting topic. The interesting aspect is whether global warming might affect the waveform of the PDO.

        Just looking at the monthly values, while negative over the last couple of years, the magnitude of these values has appeared to be declining.

        If that continued, we would probably expect weakened La Nina events while strengthening El Nino events as the transition towards the warmer PDO phase continues to emerge.

        It will be interesting to see what eventuates over this year – for example, will recent positive PDO values continue or will the PDO values transition back to negative values. Similar to observing arctic sea ice developments.

      • The period has been 15-30 years historically…

      • Phil

         /  April 24, 2014

        Interesting, so the 15 years is up and a PDO flip based on past experience could not be ruled out. Be interesting to see if the flip becomes entrenched if we have a very strong El Nino.

      • Mark … 16 years and counting. Based on history, possible anytime between now and 2028.

  7. Tom

     /  April 23, 2014

    Thanks for the update Robert. I re-posted this over on NBL and used colinc’s cogent movie comment as a lead-in. RE from the Doomstead Diner doesn’t think it’s even remotely possible that humans can become extinct before mid-century and some of us are revealing his “normalcy bias” via comments. Finally, I also borrowed R. Vella’s last link (since RE lives in Alaska).

    Reply
  8. thanks for the el nino updates. living just minutes south of the equator, i’m watching all reports and appreciate all that you do to keep us informed. we’ve been w/o power for four days, and i’m in a small hostal in town to catch up on things cyber. knowing that you’re watching those stats and charts, i’m grateful for this site. btw, we received almost two inches or rain last night – we’re supposed to be entering the dry season…

    z

    Reply
  9. Ocean Heat Uptake: The Apparent Hiatus in Global Warming and Climate Sensitivity – Prof. Kevin Trenberth

    Reply
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