2010-11-06 16:16:06Draft blog post on the current La Nina
John Bruno
John Bruno
jbruno@unc...
74.245.80.25

I could use some help and would appreciate any suggestions, editorial comments, guidance, etc. on this draft blog post. 

http://www.skepticalscience.com/LaNinacanterasewarming 

The formatting has been driving me nuts and I still can't fix some quirks with the text at the end.  

Thank you,

JB

Former TV weather guy Art Horn has a post up at the right wing outlet Pajamas Media about the current La Niña. He mixes some reasonable and accurate observations with several important misconceptions and misstatements about weather, oceanography and climate change.

Mr. Horn correctly points out that we are in the midst of a strong La Niña phase ofthe ENSO cycle. We entered the current La Niña when the last El Niño ended in April/May (or a month or so later based on NOAA's Multivariate ENSO Index). According to NOAA, equatorial Pacific SSTs are currently about 1.4C cooler than average.

 

As Art says, the switch from El Niño to La Niña was abrupt, as can be seen in the rapid change from negative to a positive SOI:  

Fig 2. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI-as plotted by the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology above) is based on the measured air pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin. Sustained positive values are associated with stronger Pacific trade winds and are indicative of La Niña. 

Record high temperatures during La Nina

Art then goes on to make a number of errors in his analysis of the relevance of this La Niña, and ENSO in general, for anthropogenic climate change. Although his wording is a bit vague, he seems to suggest that a La Niña can somehow erase anthropogenic heat accumulation:

"strong La Nina events drop the Earth’s average temperature around one degree Fahrenheit" "The most recent La Nina developed in the spring of 2007, and persisted until the early summer of 2008. The global average temperature fell one degree Fahrenheit in that period of time, equal to all of the warming of the last 100 years!"

Two points of correction: (1) Global temperatures during La Niña tend to be about 0.1 to 0.2 C cooler than average (not 0.6 C as Art states). I am guessing what Art means when he says "global average temperature fell one degree Fahrenheit" is from the El Niño maximum to the La Niña minimum. If so, Art gets this months climate cherry picker award. (2) Global warming over the last 100 years was more like 0.7 C (not 0.55).  NASA states since 1880 we have seen abut 1.5 F degrees of warming

To state the obvious, the ENSO cycle is a primary driver of inter-annual climate variability, particularly global surface temperatures. I think the source of Art's confusion is that he doesn't understand the difference between instantaneous global temperature averages and longer term temperature trends (which is what climate change is all about).  As I explained above, the observed cooling during a La Niña does not equal the warming over the last century (it doesn't even equal the warming over the last few decades). But that point is largely immaterial since when this La Niña phase ends, the instantaneous average will go back up to where the long term trend (or running average) lies, i.e., the cooling effect is temporary. 

Fig 3. Instrumental record of global average temperatures as compiled by the NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studiesfrom Global Warming Art

Furthermore, this is all just quibbling about terrestrial surface temperatures, when all the action is in the ocean which is where >90% of the excess heat being retained by the greenhouse gas blanket is going (Fig 3, only ~2% is going into atmospheric warming)

Fig 4. Redrawn by John Cook with data from Murphy, D. M., S. Solomon, R. W. Portmann, K. H. Rosenlof, P. M. Forster, and T. Wong. 2009. An observationally based energy balance for the Earth since 1950. J. Geophys. Res. 114:D17107. doi:10.1029/2009JD012105

 

Mr. Horn also states "Many parts of the southern United States had record heat this summer" and "For the last year, the world has been dealing with the warming effects of a strong El Nino." Like the New York Times did in labeling 2010 "an El Niño year", Mr. Horn mistakingly asserts, albeit indirectly, that El Niño has dominated our weather this year. Lets take a look at what the global climate has been doing during the first six months of Art's "super" La Niña. The recent NASA GISS report "2010-How warm was this summer" states: 

• June-July-August 2010 was the 4th warmest in the 131 year GISS analysis [for the northern hemisphere it was the second warmest]

• 2010 was a bit cooler than 2009 mainly because a moderate El Niño in the equatorial Pacific Ocean during late 2009 and early 2010 has been replaced by a moderate La Niña

• 8 of the last 10 summers were warmer than the 1951-1980 mean in the United States and Japan, and 10 of 10 in Europe. So if you are perceptive and old enough, you should be able to notice a trend toward warmer seasons.

• The global seasonal temperature anomaly for March-April-May in 2010 was the warmest in the 131 year GISS temperature data set

No net warming since yesterday

 

AH: "there has been no net warming or cooling since around 1999. Interestingly, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 369 parts per million to 387 ppm (parts per million) during this time. This amount is above the level of 302 ppm in 1910, when 20th century global temperature started to rise. Despite this significant rise in carbon dioxide since 1999, there has been no “global warming” during this period."

 

 

Despite being thoroughly debunked, the "It hasn't warmed since 1998" meme is still alive and well in the denial-o-sphere. This argument is flawed in at least four ways: (1) it isn't true, (2) it is a great example of climate cherry picking, (3) it ignores the well-known role of ENSO in driving year-to-year climate variability and (4) it is a classic straw man in that it seeks to counter an argument that nobody is making: the (false) expectation of progressive annual warming, i.e., even if true, it wouldn't be relevant to the argument at hand.  

Tomorrow we will see the sun with a chance of rain

Mr. Horn closes with a prediction: "Right now El Nino’s colder sister is on the fast track to generate more temperature extremes and a very cold winter in some parts of the world."  At least about this, he is correct (but only partially, e.g., much of the US is actually typically warmer than usual during La Niña, Fig. 4). There will surely be record highs and lows over the next six months and a very cold winter somewhere on earth, possibly due to La Niña.  

In fact, I'll up the ante and predict that this will be the case for the next 100 years. Anthropogenic climate change does not mean (or predict) progressive, homogenous warming everywhere. Some places are going have cold winters even a century from now. Cold record will continue to be broken (although with reduced frequency). There will likely be regions that cool, especially if ocean currents are altered, and we could see cool decades.  Yet none of that will negate the warming effect of greenhouse gases on the atmosphere and oceans. So keep your PJs on Mr. Horn, a La Niña, no matter how strong is just a natural cycle that is riding atop of a warming planet and it certainly cannot erase decades heat accumulation.  

 

Fig. 5. 

Seasonal mean temperature trends for the United States during Strong La Niñas, gohere for methods. 

 

 


 

2010-11-06 16:20:24"nofollow" code
John Bruno
John Bruno
jbruno@unc...
74.245.80.25
should i use a "nofollow" code for my links to Art's post?
2010-11-07 00:49:24html code meltdown!
John Bruno
John Bruno
jbruno@unc...
74.245.80.25

I made some updates to the article and am working on cleaning up the html code which is a total mess.  I somehow am not able to do it in the built in SS html editor.  When I click on HTML and make changes, they are not retained when I close the HTML window.  So, I am trying to edit it on an online HTML editor.  

For some reason, I have huge strings of "em>" in my code that won't go away! 

jb 

2010-11-07 00:54:23Fixed the broken formatting
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198

John, sorry about the hassles with the formatting glitches. Sometimes the WYSIWYG editor goes ballistic with italic tags and the only way to fix it is to manually edit the code. I've just done that, have cleaned up the code, added some blockquotes and bullets to give the article a little bit more visual structure. The updated post is now at:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/La_Nina_canterase_warming.html

I think it's a great post. Many thanks for writing it. Feel free to go live with it whenever you want. Can I make two possible suggestions and feel free to ignore either?

1. Me personally, I wouldn't use the 'right wing outlet' label - merely because it just gives deniers a 'cognitive dissonance opportunity'. What we're trying to do here is communicate the reality of climate change to people who simply don't want to know. So they will employ any act of cognitive dissonance to avoid the scientific truths we're trying to impart. The easiest act of cognitive dissonance is moral outrage at any hint of politics, perceived slights, etc. Remember Anthony Watts' over-the-top hissy fit at your mere use of the word 'denier'? My personal conviction is much of the manufactured outrage is about avoiding the science and/or distracting others from the science. So I try to provide as few 'cognitive dissonance opportunities' as possible. But it's your call :-)

2. I think it would be cool if you updated your username from 'John B' to 'John Bruno' so readers would know that it's not an anonymous blogger or a layman hack like myself writing the blog post, but a genuine, real scientist writing it. You can update your profile at http://www.skepticalscience.com/profile.php?a=updateprofileform. But again, totally up to you.

Re the rel='nofollow' question, don't bother. I can add that in later but it's not that much of a big deal.

2010-11-07 01:54:29Revised draft of La Nina post
John Bruno
John Bruno
jbruno@unc...
74.245.80.25

Hi John, Thanks.  I took out the inflammatory language (I agree w you).  Changed my user name.  I had already cleaned up the html using http://htmledit.squarefree.com/

Which was a good exercise for me, helping me see what the code does.  I did add your modifications to format and created a new version of the post. 

Ill get wifey to proof read before going live.  

Note I tried to clean up the HTML in the HTML box but it didn't seem to work?  It kept reverting... I should be able to do this in a plain text editor soon.  But this is pretty new to me.  

JB

 

 

Former TV weather guy Art Horn has a post up at Pajamas Media about the current La Niña. He mixes some reasonable and accurate observations with several important misconceptions and misstatements about weather, oceanography and climate change.

Mr. Horn correctly points out that we are in the midst of a strong La Niña phase of the ENSO cycle. We entered the current La Niña when the last El Niño ended in April/May (or a month or so later based on NOAA's Multivariate ENSO Index). As a result, equatorial Pacific SSTs are currently about 1.4 C cooler than average.

As Art says, the switch from El Niño to La Niña was abrupt, as can be seen in the rapid change from negative to a positive SOI:  

Fig 2. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI-as plotted by the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology above) is based on the measured air pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin. Sustained positive values are associated with stronger Pacific trade winds and are indicative of La Niña.

Record high temperatures during La Niña


Art then goes on to make a number of errors in his analysis of the relevance of this La Niña, and ENSO in general, for anthropogenic climate change. Although his wording is a bit vague, he seems to suggest that a La Niña can somehow erase anthropogenic heat accumulation:

"strong La Nina events drop the Earth’s average temperature around one degree Fahrenheit" "The most recent La Nina developed in the spring of 2007, and persisted until the early summer of 2008. The global average temperature fell one degree Fahrenheit in that period of time, equal to all of the warming of the last 100 years!"


Two points of correction:

   

     

  1. Global temperatures during La Niña tend to be about 0.1 to 0.2 C cooler than average (not 0.6 C as Art states). I am guessing what Art means when he says "global average temperature fell one degree Fahrenheit" is the difference from the El Niño maximum to the La Niña minimum. If so, Art gets this month's climate cherry picker award.
  2.    

  3. Global warming over the last 100 years was more like 0.7 C (not 0.55).  NASA states since 1880 we have seen abut 1.5 F degrees of warming.
  4.   

     

To state the obvious, the ENSO cycle is a primary driver of inter-annual climate variability, particularly global surface temperatures. I think the source of Art's confusion is that he doesn't understand the difference between instantaneous global temperature averages and longer term temperature trends (which is what climate change is all about).  As I explained above, the observed cooling during a La Niña does not equal the warming over the last century (it doesn't even equal the warming over the last few decades). But that point is largely immaterial since when this La Niña phase ends, the instantaneous average will go back up to where the long term trend (or running average) lies, i.e., the cooling effect is temporary.

Fig 3. Instrumental record of global average temperatures as compiled by the NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, from Global Warming Art.

Furthermore, this is all just quibbling about terrestrial surface temperatures, when all the action is in the ocean, where >90% of the excess heat being retained by the greenhouse gas blanket is going (Fig 3, only ~2% is going into atmospheric warming)

Fig 4. Redrawn by John Cook with data from Murphy, D. M., S. Solomon, R. W. Portmann, K. H. Rosenlof, P. M. Forster, and T. Wong. 2009. An observationally based energy balance for the Earth since 1950. J. Geophys. Res. 114:D17107. doi:10.1029/2009JD012105

 

Mr. Horn also states "Many parts of the southern United States had record heat this summer" and "For the last year, the world has been dealing with the warming effects of a strong El Nino." Like the New York Times did in labeling 2010 "an El Niño year", Mr. Horn mistakingly asserts, albeit indirectly, that El Niño has dominated our weather this year. Lets take a look at what the global climate has been doing during the first six months of Art's "super" La Niña. The recent NASA GISS report "2010-How warm was this summer" states:


• June-July-August 2010 was the 4th warmest in the 131 year GISS analysis [for the northern hemisphere it was the second warmest]


• 2010 was a bit cooler than 2009 mainly because a moderate El Niño in the equatorial Pacific Ocean during late 2009 and early 2010 has been replaced by a moderate La Niña


• 8 of the last 10 summers were warmer than the 1951-1980 mean in the United States and Japan, and 10 of 10 in Europe. So if you are perceptive and old enough, you should be able to notice a trend toward warmer seasons.


• The global seasonal temperature anomaly for March-April-May in 2010 was the warmest in the 131 year GISS temperature data set


Furthermore, coral reefs are bleaching worldwide this year due to the anomalously high ocean surface temperatures.  The result is extensive coral mortality in the Caribbean and SE Asia over the last two months.

NOAA's Global Climate Analysis for September 2010 states, quite remarkably, that:

 

"The global average ocean surface temperature for the period January–September was also the second warmest on record, behind 1998"


That is despite the facts the El Niño that dominated the early months of 2010 was quite mild, the current La Niña is very strong and this period of 1998 was warmed by the strongest El Niño of the last 100 years.


There is generally a 2-3 month lag before land surface temperatures respond to changes in ENSO, so it is reasonable to argue that the last El Niño could be in part responsible for the high global temperatures in May-July 2010. However, as Dr. Simon Donnor points out at Maribu, it is highly unlikely that the record breaking global temperatures of 2010 would have occurred in the absence of greenhouse gas emissions. This is especially true given the weakness of the last El Niño, the abruptness of the switch to La Niña.


No net warming since yesterday



AH: "there has been no net warming or cooling since around 1999. Interestingly, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 369 parts per million to 387 ppm (parts per million) during this time. This amount is above the level of 302 ppm in 1910, when 20th century global temperature started to rise. Despite this significant rise in carbon dioxide since 1999, there has been no “global warming” during this period."


Despite being thoroughly debunked, the "It hasn't warmed since 1998" meme is still alive and well in the denial-o-sphere. This argument is flawed in at least four ways: (1) it isn't true, (2) it is a great example of climate cherry picking, (3) it ignores the well-known role of ENSO in driving year-to-year climate variability and (4) it is a classic straw man in that it seeks to counter an argument that nobody is making: the (false) expectation of progressive annual warming, i.e., even if true, it wouldn't be relevant to the argument at hand.  


Tomorrow we will see the sun with a chance of rain

 

Mr. Horn closes with a prediction: "Right now El Nino’s colder sister is on the fast track to generate more temperature extremes and a very cold winter in some parts of the world."  At least about this, he is correct (but only partially, e.g., much of the US is actually typically warmer than usual during La Niña, Fig. 5). There will surely be record highs and lows over the next six months and a very cold winter somewhere on earth, possibly due to La Niña.  

 

In fact, I'll up the ante and predict that this will be the case for the next 100 years. Anthropogenic climate change does not mean (or predict) progressive, homogenous warming everywhere. Some places are going have cold winters even a century from now. Cold records will continue to be broken (although with reduced frequency). There will likely be regions that cool, especially if ocean currents are altered, and we could see cool decades.  Yet none of that will negate the warming effect of greenhouse gases on the atmosphere and oceans. So keep your PJs on Mr. Horn, a La Niña, no matter how strong is just a natural cycle that is riding atop of a warming planet and it certainly cannot erase decades heat accumulation.  

 

Fig. 5. Seasonal mean temperature trends for the United States during Strong La Niñas, go here for methods.


 

2010-11-07 04:48:01notes
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.137.148.215

Nice job.  My first comment would be that you should define your acronyms before using them - ENSO, SOI, SST.  For SOI, you defined the acronym in the figure caption after you'd already used it in the text.  It flows better if you define the term the first time it's used.

In your point of correction #2 I'd change the warming over the past century from 0.7 to 0.8°C.

This sentence is a bit choppy - "...all the action is in the ocean, where >90% of the excess heat being retained by the greenhouse gas blanket is going (Fig 3, only ~2% is going into atmospheric warming)"

I'd break it up something like this: " ...all the action is in the oceans, which are absorbing >90% of the excess heat being retained by the greenhouse gas blanket (see Figure 4 [not 3]).  Only about 2% of the excess heat is going into warming the surface air."

I'd shorten the caption for Figure 4 to something like "Redrawn by John Cook with data from Murphy et al. (2009)".

In the "No warming since yesterday" I'd expand "AH" to "Mr. Horn" or something.  Otherwise it's a bit confusing.

I like the "keep your PJs on" comment :-)

2010-11-07 08:06:24Comment
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
134.153.163.105
Maybe you should consider putting in the 12-month running mean from NASA's gistemp... John has the graph/data...
2010-11-07 12:57:29Thanks for the input
John Bruno
John Bruno
jbruno@unc...
74.245.80.25

Thanks so much Dana and Robert, ill make those edits-jb

Robert one question, would that be to replace the climate change art graphic of the temp trend?

JB 

2010-11-07 16:35:25comment
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
142.162.11.6
Yeah,
Not that there's anything wrong with the graph. But when using the 12-month running means you can at least show the data for this year instead of ending on 2009 like in the global warming art graph.
cheers