NOAA expects this El Ni±o to continue developing during the next several months, with further strengthening possible. The event is expected to last through winter 2009-10…..
In its monthly El Ni±o diagnostics discussion today [click here], scientists with the NOAA National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center noted weekly eastern equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures were at least 1.0 degree C above average at the end of June. The most recent El Ni±o occurred in 2006.
Today’s NOAA announcement is not news to CP readers (see June 4′s Breaking: NOAA puts out “El Ni±o Watch” and June 17′s, “NOAA: Fourth warmest May on record, model predicts a long and strong El Ni±o“). But since it is news for everyone else, I will review what this means, updating my earlier analysis with new figures. Regular readers can skip this post.
This announcement is a big deal from the perspective of heating up global temperatures and cooling off denier talking points. After all, the La Ni±a conditions over the past 18 months helped temporarily mute the strong human-caused warming signal, allowing the global warming deniers to push their nonsensical global cooling meme with the help of the status quo media (see “Media enable denier spin 1: A (sort of) cold January doesn’t mean climate stopped warming“).
Figure 3: Area-averaged upper-ocean heat content anomalies (°C) in the equatorial Pacific (5°N-5°S, 180º-100ºW).
Remember that back in January, NASA had predicted:
Given our expectation of the next El Ni±o beginning in 2009 or 2010, it still seems likely that a new global temperature record will be set within the next 1-2 years, despite the moderate negative effect of the reduced solar irradiance.
ENSO doesn’t change the overall warming trend, but it is a short-term modulation, what NASA labels the largest contributor to the “natural dynamical variability” of the climate system. How are El Ni±o and La Ni±a defined?
El Ni±o and La Ni±a are officially defined as sustained sea surface temperature anomalies of magnitude greater than 0.5°C across the central tropical Pacific Ocean. When the condition is met for a period of less than five months, it is classified as El Ni±o or La Ni±a conditions; if the anomaly persists for five months or longer.
As the planet warms decade by decade thanks to human emissions of greenhouse gases, global temperature records tend to be set in El Ni±o years, like 2005, 1998, and 2007, whereas sustained La Ni±as tend to cause relatively cooler years.
Human-caused global warming is so strong, however, that as NASA explained, it took a serious La Ni±a, plus unusually sustained low levels of solar irradiance, to make 2008 as cool as it was. Yet, notwithstanding the global warming deniers and the status quo media, 2008 wasn’t actually cool. Indeed, 2008 was almost 0.1°C warmer than the decade of the 1990s averaged as a whole.
So if we have an El Ni±o, then, as NASA says, record global temperatures are all but inevitable. And this brings us back to NOAA’s prediction today [boldface in original]:
Synopsis: El Ni±o conditions will continue to develop and are expected to last through the
Northern Hemisphere Winter 2009-2010.
… Model forecasts of SST anomalies for the Ni±o-3.4 region (Fig. 5) reflect a growing consensus for the continued development of El Ni±o (+0.5°C or greater in the Ni±o-3.4 region). However, the spread of the models indicates disagreement over the eventual strength of El Ni±o (+0.5°C to +2.0°C).
Current conditions and recent trends favor the continued development of a weak-to-moderate strength El Ni±o into the Northern Hemisphere Fall 2009, with further strengthening possible thereafter.
Figure 5. Forecasts of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies for the Ni±o 3.4 region (5°N-5°S, 120°W-170°W). Figure courtesy of the International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society. Figure updated 15 June 2009.
A hot summer and fall “” how timely that would be for debating a climate bill!
Will we set a record this year for global temperature? Too soon to say, especially since the strong La Ni±a this winter will no doubt partly offset whatever impact the El Ni±o has. More likely is that 2010 is the record, since there is typically a delay of a few months between ENSO changes and changes in global temps.
And not that there was any realistic chance global temperatures would collapse this year, but now it is quite safe to say that “this will be the hottest decade in recorded history by far.” The 2000s are on track to be nearly 0.2°C warmer than the 1990s. And that temperature jump is especially worrisome since the 1990s were only 0.14°C warmer than the 1980s.
Once we set the global temperature record, then the “no warming in 10 years” meme will die “” at least until the next La Ni±a or major volcano and/or general lapse in coverage by the status quo media, as the “best climate blog you aren’t reading” depicted with this figure:
It’s always cooling, except, of course, when it’s not.
- Sorry deniers, hockey stick gets longer, stronger: Earth hotter now than in past 2,000 years
- The data show the planet STILL keeps warming
- Yes, the planet has kept warming since 1998
- Yes, the globe is warming. But how fast?
- “Hadley Center to deniers: We are STILL warming”
- NASA: 2007 Second Warmest Year Ever, with Record Warmth Likely by 2010