Annual Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomaly Update for 2012

INITIAL NOTE

I rarely present annual sea surface temperature anomalies using the Reynolds OI.v2 Sea Surface Temperature data. I thought many of you would find the appearances of the curves interesting. Some of the ocean basins continue to show warming. Others do not.

Also included are the weekly NINO3.4 and global sea surface temperature anomalies for the week centered on January 9, 2013. Both are cooling.

ANNUAL OVERVIEW

The sea surface temperature anomalies for the NINO3.4 region in the eastern equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 170E-120E) are a commonly used index for the strength, frequency and duration of El Niño and La Nina events. We keep an eye on the sea surface temperatures there because El Niño and La Niña events are the primary cause of the yearly variations in global sea surface temperatures AND they are the primary cause of the long-term warming of global sea surface temperatures over the past 30 years.

This year was a very curious year for the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. Monthly NINO3.4 sea surface temperatures warmed from La Niña conditions to well into El Niño conditions by mid-year and then dropped like a stone late in the year into ENSO-neutral conditions. For the year, the NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies were just above zero.

What stands out in the graph of annual NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies are the strengths of the 1986/87/88 and 1997/98 El Niños. They dwarf the others, and there were no La Niña events near to their strength. Note also which year had the warmest annual NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomaly—1987, not 1997. It was part of the 1986/87/88 El Niño.

01 NINO3.4

(1) NINO3.4 Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

(5S-5N, 170W-120W)

Global Sea Surface Temperature anomalies warmed in 2012 in response to the the La Niña then El Niño then late ENSO-neutral conditions. All ocean basins warmed in 2012, responding to ENSO conditions, with the exception of the South Atlantic. The South Atlantic continues to do what the South Atlantic wants to do, and last year, it wanted to cool. See graph 6.

02 Global

(2) Global Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

ANNUAL RANKINGS

2012 Global sea surface temperature anomalies ranked 10th warmest, with the peak year continuing to be 1998. The Arctic Ocean sea surface temperature anomalies were the warmest seen in the 31 years of this dataset, which comes as no surprise. The existence of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation in the North Atlantic and the exceptional Arctic sea ice loss in 2012 both contributed to this. At the other end of the globe, Southern Ocean sea surface temperature anomalies were near their lowest in 31 years, ranking 27th. Good thing the Southern Ocean covers more of the globe than the Arctic Ocean.

A bit of trivia: The sea surface temperature anomalies for Pacific Ocean—the largest ocean basin on the planet—have not warmed in 19 years.

QUICK NOTE ABOUT THE DATA

The annual graphs illustrate raw monthly OI.v2 sea surface temperature anomaly data from 1982 to 2012, as it is presented by the NOAA NOMADS website linked at the end of the post. NOAA uses the base years of 1971-2000 for this dataset. I’ve simply averaged the monthly January through December values to determine the annual anomalies.

INDIVIDUAL OCEAN AND HEMISPHERIC SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE UPDATES

All three Pacific subsets show significant cooling since the early to mid-2000s. And of course, the Southern Ocean has cooled since the late 1980s. That cooling is opposed by the warming in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans subsets, and the warming of the Arctic Ocean.

There’s no other commentary until the discussion of the weekly data.

03 No Hem

(3) Northern Hemisphere Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies

####################################

04 So Hem

(4) Southern Hemisphere Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies

####################################

05 No Atl

(5) North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies

(0 to 70N, 80W to 0)

####################################

06 So Atl

(6) South Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies

(0 to 60S, 70W to 20E)

####################################

07 No Pac

(7) North Pacific Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies

(0 to 65N, 100E to 90W)

####################################

08 So Pac

(8) South Pacific Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies

(0 to 60S, 120E to 70W)

####################################

09 Pac

(9) Pacific Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies

(60S to 65N, 120E to 80W)

####################################

10 Indian

(10) Indian Ocean Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies

(60S to 30N, 20E to 120E)

####################################

11 Arctic

(11) Arctic Ocean Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies

(65N to 90N)

####################################

12 Southern

(12) Southern Ocean Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies

(90S-60S)

####################################

WEEKLY SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE ANOMALIES

The NINO3.4 Sea Surface Temperature anomalies based on the week centered on January 9, 2013 have just squeaked below the -0.5 deg C threshold of La Niña conditions. They are presently at -0.515 deg C.

13 Weekly NINO3.4

(13) Weekly NINO3.4 Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies

####################################

With the continued decrease in temperatures of the equatorial Pacific, the weekly global Sea Surface Temperature anomalies are also continuing their rapid cooling. They are at +0.144 deg C. It does not appear there will be a short upturn in a lagged response to the earlier short upturn in the sea surface temperature of the equatorial Pacific. In other words, it looks like the global sea surface temperature anomalies have peaked for this ENSO season.

14 Weekly Global

(14) Weekly Global Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomalies

####################################

INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT THE EL NIÑO AND LA NIÑA AND THEIR LONG-TERM EFFECTS ON GLOBAL SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES?

Why should you be interested? The sea surface temperature record indicates 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 31 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.

Please buy a copy. (Paypal or Credit/Debit Card). It’s only US$8.00.

You’re probably asking yourself why you should spend $8.00 for a book written by an independent climate researcher. There aren’t many independent researchers investigating El Niño-Southern Oscillation or its long-term impacts on global surface temperatures. In fact, if you were to perform a Google image search of NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies, the vast majority of the graphs and images are from my blog posts. Try it. Cut and paste NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies into Google. Click over to images and start counting the number of times you see Bob Tisdale.

By independent I mean I am not employed in a research or academic position; I’m not obligated to publish results that encourage future funding for my research—that is, my research is not agenda-driven. I’m a retiree, a pensioner. The only funding I receive is from book sales and donations at my blog. Also, I’m independent inasmuch as I’m not tied to consensus opinions so that my findings will pass through the gauntlet of peer-review gatekeepers. Truth be told, it’s unlikely the results of my research would pass through that gauntlet because the satellite-era sea surface temperature data contradicts the tenets of the consensus.

DONATIONS/TIPS

Donations/tips are very much appreciated. Regardless of what you’ve heard, climate skeptics like me are not funded by big oil—but if big oil wants to donate a gazillion dollars, I’ll be happy to accept it.

SOURCES

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

http://nomad1.ncep.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/pdisp_sst.sh

or:

http://nomad3.ncep.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/pdisp_sst.sh?lite=

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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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11 Responses to Annual Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomaly Update for 2012

  1. slimething says:

    Bob,
    Is the OHC data for the Arctic region reliable? I ask because while SST is rising as the ice is trending down, OHC does not appear to be. A popular hypothesis is that the Arctic will warm more as more open water is exposed to short wave solar radiation, but to me it looks to be more of a negative feedback whereby heat trapped in and under the ice is being released. It also appears the North Atlantic OHC is dropping as well.

    What is your take on all this?

    Thanks.

  2. Bob Tisdale says:

    slimething: I don’t believe I’m going to be much help to you. I spend little time studying SST and OHC in the Arctic because there’s so little data–and because it’s so small and has such a limited impact on the global data.

    You asked, “Is the OHC data for the Arctic region reliable?”

    It’s about as reliable as any other dataset where there are few to no samples and where the sampling devices need constant corrections–like ARGO floats. In other words, it’s less reliable than ocean heat content elsewhere, which makes it pretty bad. The last time I checked (over a year ago) ARGO-era OHC in the Arctic was cooling.
    http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/figure-42.png

    I went to check the KNMI Climate Explorer, but it’s down this afternoon.

    Sorry I can’t be more help.

  3. Hi Bob,

    Do you know what factors determine predictions for La Nina events?

    Because eyeballing the sea surface data it looks like a La Nina has formed:

    http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sst_anom.gif

    But the models are predicting neutral conditions…

    http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/ahead/ENSO-summary.shtml

  4. Bob Tisdale says:

    Will, I’ve only seen general terms discussed, like sea surface temperature, subsurface heat content, atmospheric conditions, etc. I’ve never seen all of the individual factors listed for those specialized weather models.

    If the NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies stay at their depressed levels, and if the models continue to predict ENSO neutral condition, then the Spring Predictability Barrier may have worked its way into the winter this year. We’ll have to check the models the next time they’re updated.

  5. Max says:

    Bob:

    Maybe somewhat “askew” to the general topic, however – The classic “Ocean Heat Content” graph that’s brandied about. Showing an every increasing “ocean heat content” from 1955 until the ARGO BUOYS are fielded, and then merely NOISE…and flat after those instruments are set out.

    Doesn’t that data set BOTHER you, 1/2 as much as it bothers me?

    I’ll tell you what I think…the 1955 to 2000 values are BOGUS, worthless, El-CRAPPO… and the 12 years of ARGO shows the “Sine Qua Non” of the truth…i.e., the Atmospheric Energy Balance of the Earth is just that BALANCED! Neither going up nor going down.

    Personal answer to [email address deleted], you know the formula! (Just if you care. By the way, one of your biggest fans!)

    Max Hugoson

  6. Bob Tisdale says:

    Max says: “Doesn’t that data set BOTHER you, 1/2 as much as it bothers me?”

    The ocean heat content data may bother me more than it bothers you. I’m no longer convinced that the inconvenient hump from the 1970s to early 80s that existed in the 2005 Levitus OHC data was an error with the fall rates of the XBTs. It probably existed and was a response to a shift in sea level pressure, which reflected a change in wind patterns.

    Max, would you like me to delete your email address from your comment?

  7. Max Hugoson says:

    Great response Bob. Sure if you want to help “anti-spam” me! Point to be taken, I’m not sure HOW they did the “pre-Argo” evaluations, I think they may be “bogus”, and…in a way, in citing the fact that you think one of the spikes is “real”…but connected with currents, I TAKE IT BY IMPLICATION that the “heat content” is NOT the “total heat content” of all 18,000′ (average? I think?) but rather some small “sub set”. AGAIN limiting the value of the information…depending on the RATE OF TURNOVER of the ocean contents. (Which, I believe, as other matters in regard to the oceans, we are “woefully ignorant” of!)

    Max

  8. Pingback: We’re Expecting: Will it be a Boy, a Girl, or ENSO-Neutral in 2013? | Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations

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  10. Dave in Canmore says:

    Slimething re open water in Arctic absorbing more radiation than ice:

    open water at 273K or 0C radiates 315W/m2 (5.67*10^-8)273^4

    TSI at 70degrees lat in May and June is 196W/m2 and 204W/m2
    downwelling radiation in Arctic is measured at around 140W/m2

    therefore (196+140)-315 = 20W/m2 gain from ice loss in May

    so yes, more heat gain in May and June with open water rather than ice to the tune of 20 to 30 W/m2

    BUT
    Aug, Sept TSI is 108W/m2, and 54W/m2 respectively which is loss of 65 to 120 W/m2

    Im not an expert, but as far as I can figure my bad math tells me that less ice in Aug and Sept loses more heat than is gained in May and June. Would love to have an expert go through the details better though.

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