2014/15 El Niño – Part 3 – Early Evolution – Comparison with 1982/83 & 1997/98 El Niño Events

Comparisons are still being made of the 1997/98 El Niño with the El Niño forming this year. So I thought we should compare the weekly sea surface temperature anomalies for this year, in two NINO regions, with those during 1997 for the 1997/98 El Niño and 1982 for the 1982/83 El Niño. The 1982/83 and 1997/98 El Niño events were the two strongest single-season events of the late 20th Century. (The 1986/87/88 El Niño wasn’t as strong as the 1982/83 El Niño in terms of peak sea surface temperature anomalies, but the 1986/87/88 event remained an El Niño for more than one year, so it was likely comparable to the 1982/83 El Niño if duration is taken into account.)

First, the NINO3.4 region, see Figure 1. The NINO3.4 region is bordered by the coordinates of 5S-5N, 170W-120W. See the illustration here for the location.  It captures the sea surface temperature anomalies of the east-central equatorial Pacific. Sea surface temperature anomalies of the NINO3.4 region are a commonly used index for the strength, timing and duration of El Niño and La Niña events.   And as you can see, the weekly NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies still have not reached the +0.5 deg C threshold of El Niño conditions. It’s still a little early. They are presently at +0.31 Deg C compared to the reference years of 1971-2000.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Sea surface temperature anomalies in the NINO3.4 region are evolving about the same as they did for the 1982/83 and 1997/98 El Niños.

- HOWEVER -

Sea surface temperature anomalies of the NINO3.4 region really don’t do justice to the 1997/98 El Niño. That El Niño was freakish in how quickly it evolved in the eastern (not central) equatorial Pacific and how warm the sea surface temperatures eventually grew there. We can use the sea surface temperature anomalies of the NINO1+2 region to illustrate this. See Figure 2. The NINO1+2 region is bordered by the coordinates of 10S-0, 90W-80W. It’s just west  east and south of the Galapagos Islands.

Figure 2

Figure 2

The sea surface temperature anomalies in the eastern equatorial Pacific are evolving this year more like the 1982/83 El Niño. The NINO1+2 data for 1997 shows east Pacific sea surface temperatures warmed much sooner during the 1997/98 El Niño.

The 1982/83 El Niño was strong, there’s no doubt about that, but it was nowhere close to being comparable to the 1997/98 El Niño as an east Pacific event.

A couple of things to keep in mind: First, there are subtle differences between El Niño events. It’s still very early in the evolution this year to make predictions of how strong the 2014/15 El Niño will eventually become.

Second, before you look at global surface temperature data and conclude that the 1982/83 El Niño had a very small effect on global surface temperatures, compared to the 1997/98 El Niño, keep in mind that the 1982/83 El Niño was counteracted by the eruption of El Chichon that year and there was no colossal explosive volcano in 1997 to offset the 1997/98 El Nino.

EARLIER POSTS IN THIS SERIES

FURTHER READING

My ebook Who Turned on the Heat? goes into much more detail to explain El Niño and La Niña processes and the long-term aftereffects of strong El Niño events. I’ve lowered the price of Who Turned on the Heat? from U.S.$8.00 to U.S.$5.00…with hope of increasing sales a little bit.  A free preview in pdf format is here.  The preview includes the Table of Contents, the Introduction, the first half of section 1 (which was provided complete in the post here), a discussion of the cover, and the Closing. Take a run through the Table of Contents.  It is a very-detailed and well-illustrated book—using data from the real world, not models of a virtual world. Who Turned on the Heat? is only available in pdf format…and will only be available in that format.  Click here to purchase a copy.  Thanks.

 

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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.
This entry was posted in 2014-15 El Nino Series, El Nino-La Nina Processes, ENSO Update. Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to 2014/15 El Niño – Part 3 – Early Evolution – Comparison with 1982/83 & 1997/98 El Niño Events

  1. Steve Keohane says:

    Thanks for the perspective Bob.

  2. Bob Tisdale says:

    Oops, I forgot to include the data source:
    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=

  3. Bill Hudson says:

    Bob, I mentioned to you some years back the deep interest that those of us in the grain market research business have in your stuff concerning ENSO, but not concerning its connections with land/ocean temp anomalies so much as with the various intercontinental “teleconnections” claimed by NOAA for ENSO, and our own efforts to make correlations with grain yield changes in the major regions of interest—the US cornbelt, Ukraine, Argentina, and Brazil. I am certain that if you added this focus, you would become exposed to a larger group of researchers who can pay for things, as opposed only to those with an anti-AGW hobby. You might want to look at Roy Spencer’s blog of March 18, 2014, which mentions my company and uses one of my charts. If you want to examine this further, please contact me by direct email, and I will reply with sample reports. Your current analysis that the emerging 2014 El Nino is more like 82-83 than 97-98 is of keen interest.

    Bill

  4. Bob Tisdale says:

    Bill Hudson, thanks for the idea. Right now my plate is full, but I’ll take a look and see if I can be of value.

    Regards

  5. geran says:

    More great insight.

  6. Pingback: The 2014/15 El Niño – Part 4 – Early Evolution – Comparison with Other Satellite-Era El Niños | Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations

  7. Weather Bob says:

    No way to compare events. Yet, this multi part article seems to keep comparing events to let everyone know its not like the 97/98 and its more like 82/83 (comparison). There’s not enough historical data to make comparisons of any sort on El Nino events except for the timing of the development and the wind anomalies associated with development. Actual ocean reactions are not able to be accurately forecasted yet. Let those other articles be. Focus on what you know.

    FYI in 97′ there was a large area of cool surface water west of the 1+2 region that doesn’t exist with this event. Fact is that everything is setup. now we need one more significant wwb to cause development we saw in 97′. There is plenty of time for this to grow into a monster possibly and we are seeing some reversal in trade winds at the moment over the Western Pacific. If you look back at the link below and notice the development between now and mid-May it was explosive. If that was to start in even July we would see an usually strong El Nino. We’re in the most interesting time of this event and I look forward to future post.

    http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/ocean/sst/anomaly/1997.html

  8. Bob Tisdale says:

    Weather Bob says: “No way to compare events. Yet, this multi part article seems to keep comparing events to let everyone know its not like the 97/98 and its more like 82/83 (comparison).”

    I agree that there’s no way to compare events. And sorry if I gave the wrong impression. It’s not my intent to let anyone believe that the upcoming event will be more like the 1982/83 E Nino than the 1997/98 El Nino. I present data. I don’t make predictions.

    Weather Bob says: “FYI in 97′ there was a large area of cool surface water west of the 1+2 region that doesn’t exist with this event.”

    The data disagree with you. Sea surface temperature anomalies for the NINO3 region (just west of the NINO1+2 region) this year dropped down temporarily below the 1997 values.

    NINO3 Evolution v 1982-83 and 1997-98

    And yes, it will be interesting to watch this develop.

    Regards

  9. Pingback: The 2014/15 El Niño – Part 4 – Early Evolution – Comparison with Other Satellite-Era El Niños | Watts Up With That?

  10. Pingback: The 2014/15 El Niño – Part 5 – The Relationship Between the PDO and ENSO | Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations

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  12. Hugo V says:

    Bob,
    I have just ’discovered’ your blog recently, but I like the clarity of your conceptual models for El Niño and La Niña. Your commitment to remain evidence driven is also very commendable.
    What can be said about the currently developing El Niño on the basis of the preceding Niñas? What do we know about heat stored in that preceding phase with all the ARGO infrastructure?
    Thanks.

  13. Bob Tisdale says:

    Hi, Hugo, Welcome aboard.

    The ARGO floats are helpful for the tropical Pacific, but they’ve only been in place for a decade. Luckily, the TAO Project floats have been fully in place in the equatorial Pacific since the early 1990s.

    The two sets of double-dip La Ninas before and after the 2009/10 El Nino did not have a drastic impact on the ocean heat content of the tropical Pacific. (Not all La Ninas have the same effect apparently):

    The La Ninas that trailed the 2009/10 El Nino replaced some of the heat released by that El Nino, but not all of it.
    The graph is from the post here:

    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/the-201415-el-nino-part-2-the-alarmist-misinformation-bs-begins/

    Regards

  14. Pingback: The 2014/15 El Niño – Part 6 – What’s All The Hubbub About?… | Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations

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  38. Pingback: The 2014 15 El Niño – Part 19 – Is an El Niño Already Taking Place? | Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations

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