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El Niño Comparison 1997-98 versus 2015-16

Note: updated graphs are included in the ENSO page accessible at the top of this page.

The current El Niño that started in 2015 appears to have peaked and to be slowly declining now as can be seen in Figure 1.

Multivariate ENSO Index comparison for 1997-98 versus 2015-16

Figure 1. Multivariate ENSO Index comparison for 1997-98 versus 2015-16.

This figure compares the Multivariate El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Index (MEI) provided by the US National Atmospheric and Ocean Administration (NOAA) for the current 2015-16 El Niño versus the 1997-98 El Niño.  Since the satellite global temperature estimates typically show the largest response to El Niño events, global estimates of the temperature of the lower troposphere (TLT) estimates from Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) and the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) are presented in Figures 1 and 2.  Both figures compare the TLT estimates for the 1997-98 El Niño versus the 2015-16 El Niño so far.

RSS global TLT anomaly comparison for 1997-98 versus 2015-16

Figure 2. RSS global TLT anomaly comparison for 1997-98 versus 2015-16.

Satellite peak global TLT estimates for El Niño events often lag the peak MEI and that appears to be happening with the current El Niño event.  Both the RSS and UAH global TLT estimates through January 2016 are still rising.

UAH global TLT anomaly comparison for 1997-98 versus 2015-16

Figure 3. UAH global TLT anomaly comparison for 1997-98 versus 2015-16.

If the current El Niño follows a similar pattern to the 1997-98 El Niño, the global TLT estimates may not peak until somewhere in the February to April range.  The 1997-98 El Niño, as well as the 2010-11 El Niño were both followed by strong La Niña cooling events as can be seen in Figure 4 (click to enlarge).  Thus, it seems likely that the current El Niño will also be followed by a strong La Niña, although time will tell.

UAH global TLT anomalies vs Multivariate ENSO Index 1996 through 2016 so far

Figure 4. UAH global TLT anomalies vs Multivariate ENSO Index 1996 through 2016 so far.

Figures 5 shows the current Sea Surface Temperature  (SST) anomalies for today (February 7, 2016) which can be compared to the Figure 6 map of SST anomalies for the same date in 1998.  Both maps were provided by the University of Maine Climate Change Institute.  Click on these figures to enlarge.

Global SST anomalies for 2016 February 7

Figure 5. Global SST anomalies for 2016 February 7.

Global SST anomalies for 1998 February 7

Figure 6. Global SST anomalies for 1998 February 7.

These maps indicate that in 1998 the El Niño was more intense in the far eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, as compared 2016 where the highest SST anomalies are farther west, in the central portions of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, and slightly weaker.  Interestingly, both years exhibit a cold SST anomaly pool in the North Central Pacific Ocean.

For monthly updates to key figures, see the ENSO page accessible from the menu bar at the top of this page.

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No Real Global Warming for 20 Years Now

A paper published in Nature magazine in 2014 (see link below) looked at recent trends in global temperature in the lower troposphere (TLT) from satellite observations and attempted to remove the effects from major volcanic activity and from the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The result indicates no global warming for over 20 years now, despite the continued rapid increase in carbon dioxide concentrations. Yet one more study that greatly calls into question the “settled science” of man-made global warming. More evidence that the effects of man-made carbon dioxide on global temperature are quite small and perhaps not even significant.  See the graphs below.

Global Temp no ENSO-volcanic

Most people don’t realize that carbon dioxide is NOT a pollutant and is absolutely critical for plant survival. Higher carbon dioxide levels actually promote more rapid plant growth and therefore have a major beneficial effect for crops as well as natural plant growth. From 3 million years ago back to more than 200 million years ago, Earth had no glaciers, global temperatures were much warmer, and carbon dioxide levels were much higher than today. Then about about 3 million years ago at the start of the Pleistocene period for reasons unknown global temperatures gradually cooled and Earth entered an ice age that continues today.

We are lucky to live in one of the relatively short interglacial warm periods between the much longer intense glacial periods. During the last 500,000 years there have been five intensely cold glacial periods each lasting about 80,000 to 100,000 years and separated by interglacial warm periods with much less ice but each lasting only about 10,000 to 15,000 years on average. Our present interglacial period is called the Holocene and started about 11,700 years ago and based on past history will likely end sometime within the next few thousand years or less. The next glacial period will be a major challenge for humanity, with ice covering most of Canada, the northern US, and northern Europe. With colder global temperatures come drier air and expanding deserts as well as much lower carbon dioxide levels that will inhibit plant growth. We should count our blessings today and explore the deep meaning of true climate change over the ages to prepare for what will come.

Thanks to Paul Homewood for the tip:
No Underlying Global Temperature Increase For 20 Years

Original 2014 paper by Benjamin Santer, et al,  in Nature:
Volcanic contribution to decadal changes in tropospheric temperature

More on Earth’s climate changes in the last 3 million years:
Three Million Years of Climate Change

Comparison of NCEP CFSR versus NCDC Global Temperature Anomalies

The US National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) has produced a Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) based on “all available conventional and satellite observations”.  Most of these data were used to initialize real-time global weather forecast model runs four times each day since 1979.  This reanalysis can also be used to estimate annual global temperatures and temperature anomalies.  The University of Maine Climate Change Institute has compiled the CFSR data and provided an easy-to-use interface for viewing some of the data using maps and graphs with their Climate Reanalyzer web site.

I pulled CFSR annual global temperature anomaly data from the Climate Reanalyzer for 1979 through 2013 and added a compatible estimate for 2014 from the Weather Bell model temperature web page to complete the period 1979-2014.  I then graphed this data against the US National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) estimates based on the Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN) for the same period, as shown in Figure 1 below.  Both data sets have been normalized to the 1981-2010 period for comparison.

Figure 1. Comparison of NCEP CFSR versus NCDC estimates of annual global temperature anomalies from 1979 through 2014.

Figure 1. Comparison of NCEP CFSR versus NCDC estimates of annual global temperature anomalies from 1979 through 2014.

In general, the two approaches show a similar result, but there are some interesting differences.  These differences help to indicate some of the uncertainty in trying to estimate a global temperature anomaly as discussed in my previous post.  Of particular interest is the result for the most recent portion from 2001 through 2014.  The “pause” in the NCDC estimates is actually more of a peak and decline in the CFSR estimates.  The warmest years in the CFSR estimates are 2002-2003 and 2005-2007 with a peak in 2005.  In contrast, the warmest year estimated by NCDC is 2014.  In the CFSR data, 2014 ranks 12th for the 36-year period – far from being the “hottest year ever” as promoted by some.

Considering that the NCEP CFSR approach incorporates a much larger data set with much better spatial coverage for estimating global temperatures than the NCDC GHCN approach, I suspect the CFSR annual estimates are more accurate.