Looks like yet another false alarm. Probably no super monster El Niño coming this year

Summary: as we pass the Spring prediction “barrier”, the models become more accurate. The confident predictions of a “super” “monster” El Niño appear less likely, yet another in the endless series of false alarms by the Left’s alarmists. This is why people no longer listen, except for those who get enjoy disaster porn as entertainment. It’s the boy who cried wolf: people no longer listen to repeated false alarms, so that the eventual accurate warning is ignored.

From a broader perspective, our gullibility is a great weakness. Until we become more savvy, more skeptical, reform in America might be impossible. If we’re unlucky, even survival might be difficult.

This is a follow-up to About the warnings of a monster super El Niño coming to you this year, 2 May 2014, which provides detailed information about these cycles and their effects. And the 16 June 2014 update: Learning about – and from – the super monster El Niño coming this year.

The World in our Hands

Contents

  1. Searching for El Niño: the climate giant
  2. Will there be a super monster in 2014-15?
  3. Why do climate scientists speak in terms of probabilities?
  4. Other posts about this event
  5. For More Information about El Niño
  6. Other posts about weather & climate

(1)  Searching for El Niño: the climate giant

Now that we’re coming through the Spring prediction “barrier”, forecasts for the next six months become more accurate. Here’s what the models say, from the National Weather Service’s Weekly ENSO Update, 23 June 2014.

(a)  An El Niño is likely in 2014 – 2015. The columns show the odds of each event. The lines are the average historical probability for each quarter.

Weekly ENSO Update
NWS, 23 June 2014

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(b) IRI/NWS Pacific Niño 3.4 SST Model Outlook

“Most models favor El Niño (greater or equal to +0.5ºC) to develop in the next several months and persist through Northern Hemisphere winter 2014. Model of the NWS and International Research Institute (IRI).” But with a peak of only 1.5, no “super” “monster” El Niño.

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NWS Weekly ENSO Update
International Research Institute (IRI), 17 June 2014

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(c) SST Outlook: NCEP CFS.v2 Forecast

“The CFS.v2 ensemble mean (black dashed line) predicts El Niño starting in the late Northern Hemisphere summer/early fall.” Again, with a peak of only 1.5 it predicts no “super” “monster” El Niño.

NWS ENSO Weekly Update
NWS ENSO Weekly Update: graph updated 23 June 2014

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(2)  What makes an El Niño “super” and “monster”?

The models shown above forecast an El Niño peaking with a Niño 3.4 sea surface temperature anomaly of 0.5°K – 1.5°K. If correct, would anomalies in that range make it a super monster El Niño? No.

First, the top of that range barely qualifies as a strong El Niño. Because NOAA has definitions):

Weak El Niño: Episode when the peak Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) is greater than or equal to 0.5°C and less than or equal to 0.9°C.

Moderate El Niño: Episode when the peak Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) is greater than or equal to 1.0°C and less than or equal to 1.4°C.

Strong El Niño: Episode when the peak Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) is greater than or equal to 1.5°C.

Second, such levels are not unusual. There have been eight stronger El Niño cycles since 1951 (63 years itself being a brief time), including the 1997-98 El Niño peaking at 2.4 (source: NWS weekly report).
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List of El Niño events
Weekly ENSO report, NOAA, 28 April 2014

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(3)  Why do climate scientists speak in terms of probabilities?

Amateurs, especially alarmists amateurs, speaking with confidence of certainties. Climate scientists speak of probabilities. For an explanation see “Why do ENSO forecasts use probabilities?“, Anthony Barnston, NOAA, 19 June 2014.

(4)  Other posts about this event

(5)  For More Information about El Niño

  1. Recommended:  “United States El Niño Impacts“, Mike Halpert (Deputy Direct of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center; bio here), Climate.gov (NOAA), 12 June 2014
  2. Recommended:  “Eight Misconceptions About El Niño (and La Niña)“, Francesco Fiondella, IRICS (joint project of NOAA & Columbia), 30 June 2014
  3. Comprehensive list of Sea Surface Temperature & El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Predictions, at NOAA’s website
  4. Effects of El Niño on world weather, The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI)
  5. Weather Impacts of ENSO, National Weather Service
  6. ENSO impacts: El Niño Southern Oscillation is a key component of year-to-year climate variability, UK Met Office
  7. NOAA’s weekly ENSO update

(4)  Other posts about weather & climate

(a)  Reference Pages about climate on the FM sites:

  1. The important things to know about global warming
  2. My posts
  3. Studies & reports, by subject
  4. The history of climate fears

(b)  Posts asking if we’re prepared for past weather:

  1. Hurricane Sandy asks when did weather become exceptional? (plus important info about US hurricanes), 28 October 2012
  2. Have we prepared for normal climate change and non-extreme weather?, 11 February 2014
  3. Droughts are coming. Are we ready for the past to repeat?, 12 March 2014
  4. About the warnings of a monster super El Nino coming to you this year, 2 May 2014

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18 thoughts on “Looks like yet another false alarm. Probably no super monster El Niño coming this year

    1. John,

      You seem unclear about this “science” thing.

      (1) May 2014

      Due to the flat trend in global surface temperatures since ~2000, the range is tiny. Hence the various SAT datasets give different rankings. For some details see the NASA-funded report here.

      1. HADCRUT4 — not out yet (last I checked)
      2. RSS satellite record: 6th warmest May
      3. UAH satellite: 3rd warmest May
      4. NOAA NCDC and NASA GISS: warmest May, but the difference from other May’s since 2000 is not statistically significant. For example, NOAA shows the difference between May 2010 and May 2014 as 0.03°F

      (2) “We’re clearly in an uptrend.”

      Such statements are meaningless without providing a time period. An uptrend over 10 years, 50 years, 500 years, 5000 years, etc? The climate is always changing.

      If you believe you are giving a rebuttal to the pause, I suggest you send it to the scientists who mention the pause, who published about causes of the pause, and forecast when the pause will end.

      (3) “The data is about to overwhelm your case.”

      This is entirely excerpts from NOAA research. Write to NOAA if you believe they’re wrong.

    2. Interestingly your data seems to indicate that this “pause” is a plateau in an uptrend. If you take out one anomaly year in the 1990’s resulting from El Nino, the pause looks much less like a pause than a slowing in the uptrend. We’ve been in a very long term uptrend with various pauses and temporary reversals for the past 12,000 years. We’ve been in a shorter term uptrend since the end of the Little Ice Age. Most analysts believe that the current period marks a pronounced acceleration of that uptrend and that the new factor that has entered the equation is an acceleration of burning of fossil fuels.

      Time will tell on the pause. If global temps turn down over the next 50 years then the pause will be material. If not our great grandchildren will not even notice the pause on an uptrend graph

    3. John,

      (1) Thanks for the explanation of why scientists call the pause a “pause”, not a “stop”. Isn’t this obvious?

      (2) “Your data seems to indicate…”

      NOAA’s data, not “my data”. I’m not a climate scientist. I just report about it.

      (3) “If global temps turn down over the next 50 years…”

      I have heard that some Russian scientists forecast global cooling, but have never been able to track this down in English. Other than that I don’t know of any climate scientists expecting the pause to last 50 years, let alone cooling. However, many have said that a sufficiently long pause will invalidate the current climate models. I’ve not seen peer-reviewed research on this, but 2 decades is a number often mentioned. That is aprox 3 years per RSS and 8 per GISS.

      That would not mean that warming does not resume if we continue burning fossil fuels, but that the timing and magnitude of warming might differ than that currently forecast by the IPCC.

      (4) Scientists discussing the pause (links to major reports and peer-reviewed research). You might find some of this of interest.

      Recognition of the pause: Still good news: global temperatures remain stable, at least for now., 14 October 2012

      Scientists explore causes of the pause in warming, perhaps the most important research of the decade, 17 January 2014

      One of the most important questions we face: when will the pause in global warming end?, 25 August 2013

    4. A slowing of global warming could be very helpful. I’m not cheering for resumption of rapid warming. We are on a two to three decade global transition from primary dependence on fossil fuels to widespread adoption of renewable energy. If the alarmists are right, that dooms the planet to irreversible changes, including possible cataclysmic release of the methane hydrate deposits and similar nightmare scenarios. A few more decades could make all the difference.

    5. John,

      I agree. The pause is a gift from Nature, a gift of time.

      Unfortunately, my guess is that the politics of the climate wars will prevent any substantial action. Activists will shout that all sorts of normal weather are “extreme”; skeptics’ rebuttals will win them more support — discrediting climate science.

      Meanwhile skeptics will say that the pause discredits climate science.

      We are in a mess created by activists on both sides, and our gullibility. Perhaps hope us our only plan.

      “If the alarmists are right”

      And if the skeptics are right? I recommend sticking with the mainstream climate scientists, and let the those on the extremes fight it out.

    6. Unfortunately science is not the primary driver of public action, which can have a major impact on the course of events. It’s time to begin planning for likely outcomes based on the science to avoid unnecessarily negative outcomes. For that to happen we need to create a middle ground discussion that doesn’t exist today. You have an excellent bully pulpit Fabius. Perhaps you could give it a shot.

    7. John,

      “Perhaps you could give it a shot.”

      177 posts so far. Many explaining the findings of the IPCC, the major climate agencies, and the peer-reviewed literature. Many giving rebuttals to activists of the Left and Right.

      These have had thousands of comments. Few suggest there is any substantial “middle ground discussion”. I look at the discussions on the active climate sites (e.g., WUWT, Climate Etc, Skeptical Science): ditto. My guess is that the “middle ground” folks are mostly watching TV, disinterested after listening to increasingly outlandish claims by Left and Right (see examples here).

      That’s about 300 thousand words, representing over 400 hours of effort — the rough equivalent of 54 working days.

      Any thoughts are welcome.

    8. I’ve read a majority if not most of your posts on climate change. You have clearly studied the science and everything I have read and heard pretty much supports your analysis, which seems pretty even handed. You’ve been branded by some as a climate denyer because you don’t accept the extremist position on climate change. This opinion seems unfair to me and is not based on a careful reading of your posts. What is clear is that you are not going to change the minds of the extremists on either side.

      However, events are beginning to change minds on the subject. Warming is occurring and its having impacts on the planet. Pretty soon only true believers and ideologues will remain as professing denyers. On the other hand very few thoughtful observers believe that humanity can turn on a dime and reverse the course of three hundred years of industrial society overnight. That leaves room for all but the extremists to reach a consensus in the middle.

      For me it would be very helpful if you could turn your prodigious research talent to seeking out the best thought on how to address the impacts of climate change. I suspect there are many observers out there giving creative thought to the subject of preparing for the impacts of climate change whose analysis goes well beyond a chant of “ban greenhouse gases”. An active discussion of these ideas could lead to positive action and would be far more useful than continued theological disputes on the reality of global climate change.

    9. John,

      Personally I believe developing alternative energy sources — more useful than solar and wind — is the only option. It’s not a popular option, as it does nothing for entrenched business interests — or political interests on the Left (no new taxes or regulations) or Right (allies of existing energy corps). The public doesn’t care, happily burning oil, natural gas, and coal.

      I will print more about new energy sources in the next few weeks.

      More broadly, I think that nothing can be done while activists on the Left and Right kick sand into our eyes.

    10. Thanks. i will read with great interest.

      I’m far more optimistic about the prospects for change. We’re in an era of unprecedented technological change that will likely overwhelm governmental attempts to impede progress.

      In addition to the alternative technologies like advances in nuclear reactors, the potential for fusion and the various space based technologies, I hope you will educate us on the real developments in and challenges for solar, wind, bio-energy, etc. Solar in particular appears to be reaching a tipping point where it becomes viable without subsidies in certain high cost locations such as Hawaii. Also the infrastructure issues get too little attention, e.g. grid technologies, smart grid investment and government enforced power company monopolies. Related to that is the risk to the grid from solar flares.

      Finally, improvements in energy efficiency and the reordering of social/transportation infrastructure to reduce the demand for energy is a key longer term factor. Cities are much more energy efficient than suburbs and rural. New ride/car sharing economies promise the need for far less physical investment in the automotive rolling stock. This has a huge impact as much of the energy cost of transportation is in the construction of the vehicles themselves.

      Finally I’d be interested in any good research on the role of reforestation in ameliorating carbon buildup. I just drove from Memphis to South Carolina and was struck by the extent to which reforestation in the southern U. S. has matured. Many/most former hill farms have been replanted with either pine or mixed hardwoods and the region across north Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. We are now thirty to forty years into this development and the hills have progressed from scrub pine to rather mature forests. Frankly I’m not sure of the biology of this. What vegetation is the best converter of carbon dioxide? Is it mature forests? young forests? cropland? urban lawns?

    11. John,

      “We’re in an era of unprecedented technological change that will likely overwhelm governmental attempts to impede progress.”

      IMO that’s backwards, 100%. The massive investments necessary to develop new energy sources, then rapidly implement them, probably can come only from the government. The vast and successful propaganda campaign to convince us to despise the collective action via our Republic’s institutions makes this less likely.

      Re: reforestation

      The US forest cover has been growing since the 1920s. Much of the NE was de-forested, and now looks like it did when the Pilgrims landed. Each decade farms close (economically uncompetitive, with a new generation unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to run them). The land quickly returns to forest.

      Trees are harvested in the East from plantations, re-seeded after each crop.

      The effect of this — vs. the deforestation in the emerging nations (esp the tropics)? There is probably much literature on it.

    12. John,

      “including possible cataclysmic release of the methane hydrate deposits”

      Let’s turn to the most recent IPCC report: AR5, Working Group I, looking at the result of 2 centuries of warming (over half of the warming since 1950 is anthropogenic). They don’t see any acceleration from anthopogenic factors; they see stabilization. The rest of the report also provides little basis for the alarmists about methane.

      2.2.1.1.2 Methane

      Globally averaged CH4 in 1750 was 722 ± 25 ppb (after correction to the NOAA-2004 CH4 standard scale) (Etheridge et al., 1998; Dlugokencky et al., 2005), although human influences on the global CH4 budget may have begun thousands of years earlier than this time that is normally considered ‘pre-industrial’ (Ruddiman, 2003; Ferretti et al., 2005; Ruddiman, 2007).

      In 2011, the global annual mean was 1803 ± 2 ppb. Direct atmospheric measurements of CH4 of sufficient spatial coverage to calculate global annual means began in 1978 and are plotted through 2011 in Figure 2.2a.

      This time period is characterized by a decreasing growth rate (Figure 2.2b) from the early 1980s until 1998, stabilization from 1999 to 2006, and an increasing atmospheric burden from 2007 to 2011 (Rigby et al., 2008; Dlugokencky et al., 2009). Assuming no long-term trend in hydroxyl radical (OH) concentration, the observed decrease in CH4 growth rate from the early 1980s through 2006 indicates an approach to steady state where total global emissions have been approximately constant at ~550 Tg (CH4) yr–1.

      Superimposed on the long-term pattern is significant interannual variability; studies of this variability are used to improve understanding of the global CH4 budget (Chapter 6). The most likely drivers of increased atmospheric CH4 were anomalously high temperatures in the Arctic in 2007 and greater than average precipitation in the tropics during 2007 and 2008 (Dlugokencky et al., 2009; Bousquet, 2011).

      Observations of the difference in CH4 between zonal averages for northern and southern polar regions (53° to 90°) (Dlugokencky et al., 2009, 2011) suggest that, so far, it is unlikely that there has been a permanent measureable increase in Arctic CH4 emissions from wetlands and shallow sub-sea CH4 clathrates.

      [caption id="attachment_67571" align="aligncenter" width="501"]AR5: Methane AR5, WGI, 2.2.1.1.2 Methane[/caption]

    13. The reason May peaked was because ocean temperatures peaked in Feb-March. There’s about a two to three month delay between ocean temperatures and atmospheric temperatures. So that’s why May temps spiked, it was a response to what happened in ocean temps in Feb and March. What happened in Feb-Mar was the reason some were predicting a super el nino in first place. But the el nino weakened considerably in April-May and now June. Which means that atmospheric temps will drop off again until probably Oct-Nov-Dec when the el nino peaks altogether.

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