March 2011 SST Anomaly Update


I’ve changed the longitude used as the boundary between the Indian and South Pacific Oceans from 145E to 120E. With the Indian Ocean data extending north to 30N, the eastern boundary of 145E was picking up too much of the western tropical North Pacific data.  The new boundary of 120E reduces that overlap significantly.

The links to past posts have all been updated to the WordPress addresses.

I also no longer include the tinypic links below each graph.  The graphs SHOULD now be linked directly so that all you have to do is click on them for the full-sized versions.


The map of Global OI.v2 SST anomalies for March 2011 downloaded from the NOMADS website is shown below.

March 2011 SST Anomalies Map (Global SST Anomaly = +0.11 deg C)


Monthly NINO3.4 SST anomalies are continuing their rise toward ENSO-neutral conditions.   The Monthly NINO3.4 SST Anomaly is -0.92 deg C.

The SST anomalies in Northern Hemisphere dropped this month, but this was exceeded, slightly by the rise in the Southern Hemisphere. Global SST anomalies rose slightly (+0.012 deg C).  The Global SST anomalies are presently at +0.11 deg C.

(1) Global

Monthly Change = +0.012 deg C


(2) NINO3.4 SST Anomaly

Monthly Change = +0.322 deg C


As noted in the post Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies – East Pacific Versus The Rest Of The World, I have added these two datasets to the monthly updates.  Both datasets have been adjusted for the impacts of volcanic aerosols, and both are smoothed with 13-month running-average filters to reduce the seasonal noise.  The global oceans were divided into these two subsets to illustrate two facts.  First, the linear trend of the volcano-adjusted East Pacific (90S-90N, 180-80W) SST anomalies since the start of the Reynolds OI.v2 dataset is basically flat.

(3) Volcano-Adjusted East Pacific (90S-90N, 180-80W)

And second, the volcano-adjusted SST anomalies for the Rest of the World (90S-90N, 80W-180) rise in very clear steps, in response to the significant 1986/87/88 and 1997/98 El Niño/La Niña events.  It also appears as though the SST anomalies of this dataset are making another shift in response to the most recent ENSO event.

(4) Volcano-Adjusted Rest of the World (90S-90N, 80W-180)


The SST anomalies in the East Indian and West Pacific continued their drop this month.

I’ve added this dataset in an attempt to draw attention to what appears to be the upward steps in response to significant El Niño events that are followed by La Niña events.

(5) East Indian-West Pacific (60S-65N, 80E-180)

Monthly Change = -0.032 deg C

Further information on the upward “step changes” that result from strong El Niño events, refer to my posts from a year ago Can El Nino Events Explain All of the Global Warming Since 1976? – Part 1 and Can El Nino Events Explain All of the Global Warming Since 1976? – Part 2

And for the discussions of the processes that cause the rise, refer to More Detail On The Multiyear Aftereffects Of ENSO – Part 2 – La Nina Events Recharge The Heat Released By El Nino Events AND…During Major Traditional ENSO Events, Warm Water Is Redistributed Via Ocean Currents -AND- More Detail On The Multiyear Aftereffects Of ENSO – Part 3 – East Indian & West Pacific Oceans Can Warm In Response To Both El Nino & La Nina Events

The animations included in the post La Niña Is Not The Opposite Of El Niño – The Videos further help explain the reasons why East Indian and West Pacific SST anomalies can rise in response to both El Niño and La Niña events.


The MONTHLY graphs illustrate raw monthly OI.v2 SST anomaly data from December 1981 to March 2011, as it is presented by the NOAA NOMADS website linked at the end of the post.


(6) Northern Hemisphere

Monthly Change = -0.020 deg C


(7) Southern Hemisphere

Monthly Change = +0.037 deg C


(8) North Atlantic (0 to 75N, 78W to 10E)

Monthly Change = -0.096 deg C


(9) South Atlantic (0 to 60S, 70W to 20E)

Monthly Change = -0.053 deg C

Note:  I discussed the upward shift in the South Atlantic SST anomalies in the post The 2009/10 Warming Of The South Atlantic.  It does not appear as though the South Atlantic will return to the level it was at before that surge, and where it had been since the late 1980s.  That is, it appears to have made an upward step and continues to rise.  Why?  Dunno—yet.


(10) North Pacific (0 to 65N, 100E to 90W)

Monthly Change = -0.001 Deg C


(11) South Pacific (0 to 60S, 120E to 70W)

Monthly Change = +0.015 deg C


(12) Indian Ocean (60S to 30N, 20E to 120E)

Monthly Change = +0.070 deg C


(13) Arctic Ocean (65N to 90N)

Monthly Change = -0.026 deg C


(14) Southern Ocean (90S-60S)

Monthly Change = +0.084 deg C


The weekly NINO3.4 SST anomaly data portray OI.v2 data centered on Wednesdays.  The latest weekly NINO3.4 SST anomalies are -0.634 deg C.

(15) Weekly NINO3.4 (5S-5N, 170W-120W)

The weekly global SST anomalies are at +0.109 deg C.

(16) Weekly Global


The Optimally Interpolated Sea Surface Temperature Data (OISST) are available through the NOAA National Operational Model Archive & Distribution System (NOMADS).


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 March 2011 SST Anomaly Update

  1. Espen says:

    Bob, I guess you’ve looked at Steig’s new paper on Antarctic Peninsula warming ( ). When I read about that on WUWT, I was trying to sift through your old posts to see if you’ve looked at the central tropical Pacific specifically yet, but I didn’t find anything. I was wondering if there might have been a 1976 step change in that central area too that explains Steig’s Rossby waves, and also whether we now may be entering a period where there will be a step down again.

  2. Bob Tisdale says:

    Espen: I haven’t read the paper since there’s a paywall, nor would I spend much time on it, because it seems to be based on Steig’s questionable, statistically manufactured warming of West Antarctic and on a seasonal warming signal of an area of the Central Pacific that happens to fit the need for a statistical driver of the imaginary West Antarctic warming. Here’s a link to the Supplemental materials:

    Click to access ngeo1129-s1.pdf

    See Figure S4. The Central tropical Pacific dataset curiously straddles the equator and it appears to cover the coordinates of 20S-10N, 160E-140W. They use the years 1979 to 2009, and the summer months of JJA. There IS a warming signal in that part of the globe from 1979 to 2009, for JJA. Here’s a map created from the GISS map-making website:

    The new paper appears contrived and it seems as if the new paper is being used as a way to justify the questionable warming of the earlier paper.

  3. Espen says:

    Thank you for your comment. I agree with your sentiment. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds in the next few years – I wouldn’t be surprised if the Antarctic peninsula cools significantly again. It’s interesting to look at the long temperature history of Punta Arenas in Chile, the only real city with a long temperature record that is relatively close to the peninsula:

    I wonder – suppose we had a long continuos temperature record for the Antarctic peninsula – would it look similar to the Punta Arenas history? I.e. with a recent warming – but with a long period of warmer climate from 1920-1950…

  4. Roger Andrews says:

    Espen: plots the record from Base Orcadas, which is off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula about a thousand miles SE of Punta Arenas. It shows about 2C of warming since 1903.

  5. Bob Tisdale says:

    Roger Andrews @ April 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm: There’s no way to cross check using SST data. There’s little to no source SST data in the area before the 1970s.

  6. Roger Andrews says:

    Bob: Right, no SST data, but you can cross-check using surface station data. Punta Arenas matches the records from the rest of Central and Southern Chile. Orcadas matches the other Antarctic Peninsula records after 1943. Conclusion – Chile and the AP have had fundamentally different warming histories.

    The Antarctic mainland records, however, look much more like Chile than the AP. So the AP is the odd man out.

  7. HR says:

    Thanks Bob,

    In fig4 I’m not convinced by the final up step in 2010. The earlier horizontal lines are generally running near the ENSO-neutral temperatures while the final horizontal is running near the peak of the 2009/2010 El Nino. The 13-month smoothing doesn’t seem to be fully capturing the effect of the most recent La Nina yet . When you look at the unsmoothed data such as Fig1 the very brief ENSO-neutral period in 2009 actually looks lower than the previous ENSO-neutral periods in the mid-2000’s, although there is very little in it and probably only one or two months worth of data. I think it might be worth holding back on whether there has been another step up in 2010 until we find where tenmperatures settle after the present La Nina and maybe even beyond that.

  8. Espen says:

    Roger Andrews: Thanks, I missed that one when I was searching for long-running giss stations.

    This is more recent (adds the years 2008-2010, which were very warm):

  9. Bob Tisdale says:

    HR says: “In fig4 I’m not convinced by the final up step in 2010…”

    HR: That final step is not complete. We’ll have to wait until the next significant El Nino event to determine where it finally settles out. I included a note in the linked post…
    …that read, “It will be interesting to see where the ‘July 2009 to Present’ SST anomaly average settles out, if it does before the next significant El Niño drives them higher.”

    I’ll include it in future posts.


  10. Pingback: >LINKS TO SST ANOMALY UPDATES | Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations

  11. Pingback: More ‘science’ fiction… | pindanpost

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