Okay, disclaimer first: there may be a bit of a climate ego involved in this post. So therefore it is probably best to start with where we were wrong(ish).
Based on some rather extensive monitoring of climate models over several months [which is a far easier job than it may sound btw] by the start of April this year we were fairly confident the Pacific would enter ‘at least into moderate’ El Niño state halfway through the boreal summer of 2014. By October (as for instance NOAA’s NCEP model showed) we could even have an officially ‘strong’ El Niño (that is, sea surface temperature anomaly over +1.5 degrees Celsius) – we thought.
Well, it is October now, and we know we were wrong:
Yesterday we took a look at what we have been doing over the past 40 years. Now we take a look at what we will be doing over the rest of the 21st century. It’s a real shocker to look at: All policy scenarios now require an immediate trend breach – this is the biggest challenge mankind has ever faced:
This is the graph of the world’s best-established temperature dataset, of NASA GISS. It shows another good representation of the 1997-1998 El Niño world average temperature peak.
Recent years have been net influenced by La Niña state, as shown in this graph – although also the 2005 and 2010 temperature records have been provoked by short/weak El Niño events, taking place in late 2004 and late 2009. From 2010 La Niña has dominated. This will change.
Shown below is a graph of the satellite-derived University of Alabama global temperature dataset (those fellows that each year in early January beat NOAA/NASA/MetOffice/WMO etc by being the first to say ‘how warm it was’). Clearly visible is the peak of the powerful 1997-1998 El Niño:
The below image was released by NOAA yesterday, 7 April 2014. It shows the NCEP climate model is anticipating the arrival of this Kelvin wave– and that El Niño will surface around May 2014 and likely intensify during the boreal summer and autumn:
El Niño Southern Oscillation index: duration and intensity of La Niña and El Niño years. El Niño is usually defined as a positive temperature anomaly in the east and central tropical Pacific. Another way to express the climate phenomenon is through an index (Southern Oscillation index) for air pressure difference across the equatorial Pacific – with relatively high pressure in the West and low pressure (because of increased convection over warm water) in the East typical for El Niño. The above graph uses that alternative indicator – and it holds a clue to our temperature predictions for 2014 and 2015: hottest year on record, followed by the hottestest year on record…