PRELIMINARY December 2012 Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly Update


The December 2012 Reynolds OI.v2 Sea Surface Temperature (SST) data through the NOAA NOMADS website won’t be official until Monday, January 6th 2013. Refer to the schedule on the NOAA Optimum Interpolation Sea Surface Temperature Analysis Frequently Asked Questions webpage. The following are the preliminary Global and NINO3.4 SST anomalies for December 2012 that the NOMADS website prepares based on incomplete data for the month. I’ve also included the weekly data through the week centered on December 26, 2012, but I’ve shortened the span of the weekly data, starting it in January 2004, so that the variations can be seen.


The sea surface temperature anomalies of the NINO3.4 region in the eastern equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 170W-120W) are a commonly used index for the strength, frequency, and duration of El Niño and La Niña events. Based on the preliminary data, December 2012 NINO3.4 SST anomalies are at +0.004 deg C, basically zero, after the bottom dropped out of the El Niño conditions last month.

Monthly NINO3.4

Monthly NINO3.4 SST Anomalies


The preliminary global SST anomalies cooled slightly (-0.033 deg C) in the last month, probably a lagged response to the drop in the sea surface temperatures along the eastern equatorial Pacific. They’re presently at +0.21 deg C, but that’ll change when the full month of data is reported next week.

Monthly Global

Monthly Global SST Anomalies



Weekly NINO3.4 region (5S-5N, 170W-120W) sea surface temperature anomalies for the week centered on December 26, 2012 have remained slightly below zero, indicating we’re in ENSO-neutral conditions—that is, it’s not an El Niño or a La Niña. The sea surface temperature anomalies were at -0.05 deg C.

Weekly NINO3.4

Weekly NINO3.4 SST Anomalies


Weekly Global SST Anomalies are still rebounding after the month-long drop that ended a few weeks ago. They are presently at +0.232 deg C. Obviously, global sea surface temperature anomalies peaked August this year, but will there be a more substantial rebound as we enter 2013 or will they continue to decline in response to the ENSO-neutral conditions?

Weekly Global

Weekly Global SST Anomalies



Why should you be interested? Sea surface temperature records indicate El Niño and La Niña events are responsible for the warming of global sea surface temperature anomalies over the past 30 years, not manmade greenhouse gases. I’ve searched sea surface temperature records for more than 4 years, and I can find no evidence of an anthropogenic greenhouse gas signal. That is, the warming of the global oceans has been caused by Mother Nature, not anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

I’ve recently published my e-book (pdf) about the phenomena called El Niño and La Niña. It’s titled Who Turned on the Heat? with the subtitle The Unsuspected Global Warming Culprit, El Niño Southern Oscillation. It is intended for persons (with or without technical backgrounds) interested in learning about El Niño and La Niña events and in understanding the natural causes of the warming of our global oceans for the past 30 years. Because land surface air temperatures simply exaggerate the natural warming of the global oceans over annual and multidecadal time periods, the vast majority of the warming taking place on land is natural as well. The book is the product of years of research of the satellite-era sea surface temperature data that’s available to the public via the internet. It presents how the data accounts for its warming—and there are no indications the warming was caused by manmade greenhouse gases. None at all.

Who Turned on the Heat?was introduced in the blog post Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about El Niño and La Niña… …Well Just about Everything. The Updated Free Preview includes the Table of Contents; the Introduction; the beginning of Section 1, with the cartoon-like illustrations; the discussion About the Cover; and the Closing. The book was updated recently to correct a few typos.

Please buy a copy. Credit/Debit Card through PayPal. You do NOT need to open a PayPal account. Simply scroll down to the “Don’t Have a PayPal Account” purchase option. It’s only US$8.00.


For those who’d like a more detailed preview of Who Turned on the Heat?, see Parts 1 and 2 of the video series The Natural Warming of the Global Oceans. Part 1, below, appeared in the November, 2012 24-hour WattsUpWithThat TV (WUWT-TV) special.

Refer also to my introduction to the WUWT-TV videos here. You may also be interested in the video Dear President Obama: A Video Memo about Climate Change.


The Sea Surface Temperature anomaly data used in this post is available through the NOAA NOMADS website:


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About Bob Tisdale

Research interest: the long-term aftereffects of El Niño and La Nina events on global sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. Author of the ebook Who Turned on the Heat? and regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.
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12 Responses to PRELIMINARY December 2012 Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly Update

  1. crosspatch says:

    I just watched the video at the end of the post, thanks for making that available to us. I do have a question. What is your gut feeling for what impact variations in cloud cover during La Nina events might have? In particular, I am wondering of Svensmark’s hypothesis is correct and if periods of decreased solar wind result in greater penetration to the inner solar system by Galactic cosmic rays and thereby cause a general increase in cloudiness, if the nature of La Nina changes significantly during periods of active sun vs. periods of an inactive sun. Put another way, consider a La Nina condition with increased clouds where you have a reduction in surface temperature due to surface wind but at the same time you don’t get the “charging” of the Western Pacific Warm Pool to the expected extent via solar energy action on the ocean. At that point it would seem to me that rather than acting to recharge the energy in the Western Pacific, La Nina then becomes an *extension* of the energy depletion of the Pacific Ocean energy.

    We’ll probably have to wait until we are past this solar maximum to get an idea what the real impact is actually going to be, but I wondered if you had any instinctive feel for how a La Nina with cloudier than normal conditions might impact the energy balance.

    Thanks for all the great posts!

  2. Bob Tisdale says:

    crosspatch says: “I just watched the video at the end of the post, thanks for making that available to us. I do have a question. What is your gut feeling for what impact variations in cloud cover during La Nina events might have? In particular, I am wondering of Svensmark’s hypothesis is correct…”

    Sorry, crosspatch, I haven’t studied to Svensmark’s hypothesis.

    The interrelationship between tropical Pacific cloud cover and ENSO is pretty easy to illustrate:

    As is the response in Downward Shortwave Radiation:

    Refer to Pavlakis et al 2008 for a further discussion:

    Glad you enjoyed the video.

    Happy New Year!

  3. crosspatch says:

    Ok, right, I understand that during La Nina there is generally less cloudiness. What Svensmark is about, and he has verified this with a cloud chamber and a particle accelerator, is that solar activity can impact earth temperature but not in an intuitive way, has nothing to do with changes in TSI, it has to do with changes in solar magnetic field and solar wind. Over the past several solar cycles, the solar wind has been fairly strong. This keeps the inner solar system swept relatively clear of energetic particles from outside the solar system. When we have a weakening solar dynamo, we have more of these particles striking the atmosphere of Earth as more of them make their way into the inner solar system. When these very energetic particles strike the atmosphere they are sort of like a cue ball to a rack of billiards and cause a cascade of particles that eventually act as nuclei for water droplets. The idea is that changes in solar illumination are not enough to account for changes in observed temperature changes during periods of solar minima but the increase in these high energy particles causing an increase in cloudiness would be enough to account for it.

    The reduction in global temperature during the corresponding Oort, Wolf, Spörer, Maunder, and Dalton minima are well documented but changes in solar radiation are not enough to account for the change in temperature. The energy reaching Earth simply doesn’t change enough. If there is a modulation of cloud cover that corresponds to changes in solar wind, that would possibly be enough to explain it. Subsequent experiments with particles of energy levels approximating those Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs) in a cloud chamber have verified that they do increase the production of water droplets.

    So the point of my question would be … what if the interrelationship of La Nina and cloud cover changed? What if we had a cloudy La Nina?

    His original paper is here:

    Anthony Watts posted information on a new paper by Svensmark showing correlation between showers of cosmic rays from relatively nearby supernovae have correlated with changes in biological diversity on Earth:

    Mr. Watts also posted the results of Svenmark’s experiment at CERN here:

    The issue is … we know how La Nina and El Nino operate under current conditions, but the response might be completely different with different energy inputs reaching the surface. A “cloudy” La Nina might produce a result quite different from a “sunny” La Nina or better put, La Nina in periods of grand solar minima such as during the Little Ice Age might have a different impact on ocean energy distribution.

  4. HR says:


    thanks for another year of putting the data out there.

    Happy New Year

  5. John Robertson says:

    Bob Happy New Year , Still working on your book. These anomalies graphed, what is the zero being used for each? In degrees C and what is the accuracy of these means?
    I am having difficulty understanding the significance of the deviation as plotted.
    For example what does a range of -0.08 to +0.36 C in global SST anomaly mean when compared to the SST as measured?

  6. Bob Tisdale says:

    Happy New Year to you too, John. The anomalies are the difference between the a value for a given month and the average for that month for the base year period of 1971-2000.

  7. John Robertson says:

    Thanks Bob, not sure that helps.
    What does the anomaly tell me if I do no know the average for the base period of 1971-2000 and what accuracy this estimate has?
    The single mean I have found specified was 14.5C with no indication as to accuracy, as in +/_ xC.
    What I find confusing is being given information to a claimed accuracy of 0.001C , yet not being clear WRT the reference value. Is this a change about 14.5C with an error band of +/-0.5 C.
    I must hasten to say, I am not asking you to justify the mean. I want to know where is it specified, where on these official temperature sites is this info listed?
    Or if I missed it what page in your book?

  8. John Robertson says:

    Sorry was a dumb question, pages 70-78 helped a lot.To what accuracy? As you might have guessed its the mean annual global temperature anomalies that got me wondering about the values involved.
    From the cycles of the monthly mean SSTs , I gather an annual global value may be of limited informational value.Thanks for the book its slow going as I have to work , but its helping sort the chaff of IPCC assertions as well.

  9. Bob Tisdale says:

    John: Open this link to the NOAA NOMADS website:

    There’s a drop down menu called FIELD. The third choice is:
    “sstc *Adjusted OISST Climatology(1971-2000) Monthly Ave (C)”.

    Select it. Scroll down. The default coordinates should be for the globe (-90, 90 and -180,180). Click on “Plot”. A new window should open and a graph will appear. Scroll down and click on the link that’s on the left-hand side below the graph. The first value is the average November global sea surface temperature (deg C) for 1971 through 2000. The next value is December, etc. You’ll notice they repeat after the 12 months.

    As you’ll also note, the average global sea surface temperature for the base period is 18.1 deg C, not 14.5. That 14.5 sounds like a value for the GISS LOTI data which includes land surface air temperatures.

    There are links to a couple of papers on the following webpage that will hopefully answer the rest of your questions:


  10. John Robertson says:

    Thanks Bob, appreciate you taking the time to help.

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