Q&A for Who Turned on the Heat?

You’re read my posts about the long-term effects of ENSO, and you’ve always had a question or two. If you think they should be answered in my upcoming book about ENSO and its long-term effects, now’s the time to ask them. I’ve included the current table of contents to give you an idea of what’s covered. Hopefully, it will rekindle those questions.

It was suggested that I include questions and answers in my upcoming book Who Turned on the Heat? The Unsuspected Global Warming Culprit, El Niño-Southern Oscillation. There will be a separate Q&A section at the end. It will include questions I’ve been asked a number of times. Some have already been answered explicitly and implicitly in the book, but the ones I do plan to include as separate chapters are:

A: Since El Niño Events Create an Effect Where Sea Surface Temperature Appear to Ratchet Upwards, How Can Global Sea Surface Temperatures Flatten or Cool for Multidecadal Periods?

B: If Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gases Don’t Warm the Oceans, What Forcing Causes Them to Warm? (The assumption in that question is that radiative forcings are required to cause sea surface temperature and ocean heat content to warm.)

C: In the East Pacific and West Indian Oceans, Would the Cooling Rates after Major El Niño events be Faster if Anthropogenic Greenhouses Gases Weren’t Warming the Oceans?

D: Is There Any Evidence That Downward Longwave (Infrared) Radiation from Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gases Warms the Oceans (Sea Surface Temperature or Ocean Heat Content)?

E: Why is using Global Data as a Metric for Global Warming Misleading?

Since I’ve added a few chapters and rearranged things a little since the last time I posted the Table of Contents, here’s how it presently exists:

INTRODUCTION

Section 1 – A Description of El Niño and La Niña Events Using Annotated Illustrations

1.1 Preliminary Discussion of the ENSO Annotated Illustrations

1.2 The ENSO Annotated Illustrations

1.3 Recap of Section 1

Section 2 – A Few Preliminary Discussions

2.1 Do the Words “Oscillation” and “Cycle” in the names “El Niño-Southern Oscillation” and “ENSO Cycle” Cause Misunderstandings?

2.2 The Types of Graphs Presented

2.3 Linear Trends

2.4 How El Niño and La Niña Events Present Themselves in the Sea Surface Temperature Record

2.5 Our Primary ENSO Index is NINO3.4 Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

2.6 How ENSO Events Are Presented in the Text

2.7 On the Use of Anomalies

2.8 Converting Monthly Absolute Data to Anomalies

2.9 Using the Model Mean of the IPCC’s Climate Models

2.10 Why We’ll Be Using Satellite-Based Sea Surface Temperature Data

2.11 Data Smoothing and Detrending

2.12 The IPCC Says Only Climate Models Forced by Manmade Greenhouse Gases can Explain the Recent Warming

2.13 The Additional Mode of Natural Variability in the North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperatures—Introduction to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation

2.14 The Two Primary Data Sources

2.15 Recap of Section 2

Section 3 – A More-Detailed Discussion of ENSO Processes

3.1 A Quick Look at the Size of the Pacific Ocean

3.2 Pacific Trade Winds and Ocean Currents

3.3 Putting the Equatorial Pacific Cross Sections in Perspective

3.4 The ENSO-Neutral State of the Tropical Pacific

3.5 The Transition from ENSO-Neutral to El Niño

3.6 El Niño Phase

3.7 The Transition from El Niño to ENSO Neutral

3.8 La Niña Phase

3.9 The Transition from La Niña to ENSO Neutra

3.10 The Recharge of Ocean Heat during the La Niña

3.11 Summary of Section 3

Section 4 – Additional ENSO Discussions

4.1 How El Niño Events Cause Surface Temperatures to Warm Outside of the Tropical Pacific

4.2 Central Pacific versus East Pacific El Niño Events

4.3 ENSO Indices

4.4 ENSO Indices Also Fail to Capture the Relative Strengths of ENSO Events

4.5 The Repeating Sequence of Primary and Secondary El Niño Events

4.6 A Look at How a Few More Tropical Pacific Variables Respond to ENSO

4.7 ENSO Events Run in Synch with the Annual Seasonal Cycle

4.8 Subsurface Temperature and Temperature Anomaly Variations in the Equatorial Pacific And an Introduction to Kelvin Waves

4.9 An Introduction to the Delayed Oscillator Mechanism

4.10 ENSO Versus the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)

4.11 There is a Multidecadal Component to ENSO

4.12 ENSO Monitoring

4.13 An Introduction to the Indian Ocean Dipole and How It’s Impacted by ENSO

4.14 Impacts of ENSO Events on Regional Temperature and Precipitation

4.15 Further Discussion on What Initiates an ENSO Event

4.16 Weak, Moderate and Strong ENSO Event Thresholds

4.17 ENSO – A Cycle or Series of Events?

4.18 ENSO Influence on Tropical Cyclones (Hurricanes)

Section 5 – The Long-Term Impacts of Major ENSO Events on Global Temperature Anomalies

5.1 No Surprise – East Pacific Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies Mimic ENSO, But Where’s The Anthropogenic Global Warming Signal?

5.2 But Global Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies Have Warmed During the Satellite Era

5.3 Where and Why Sea Surface Temperatures Can Warm in Response to Certain El Niño AND La Niña Events

5.4 The Obvious ENSO-Caused Upward Shifts in the Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies of the East Indian and West Pacific Oceans

5.5 The ENSO-Caused Upward Shifts Still Exist if We Add the South Atlantic and West Indian Sea Surface Temperature Data to the East Indian and West Pacific

5.6 The Additional Warming of the North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperatures is Caused by the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation AND Additional ENSO-Impacted Processes

5.7 The IPCC’s Climate Models do a Terrible Job of Simulating East Pacific, “North Atlantic Plus”, and South Atlantic-Indian-West Pacific Sea Surface Temperatures

5.8 Scientific Studies of the IPCC’s Climate Models Reveal How Poorly the Models Simulate ENSO Processes

5.9 A Look at the Long-Term Impacts of ENSO and Other Natural Variables on Ocean Heat Content Data

5.10 The Obvious Long-Term Impacts of ENSO on Lower Troposphere Temperature Anomalies

5.11 The Obvious Long-Term Impacts of ENSO on Land Plus Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

5. 12 Follow the Leftover Warm Water – The Importance of the Warming of the Pacific Western Boundary Current Extensions Following Major El Niño Events

Section 6 –Common ENSO-Related Myths

[NOTE: It has been noted before that some of the topics in this section are very similar. But they imply different things and should be answered separately, with different examples, so I’ll leave them as independent discussions.]

6.1 ENSO is an Oscillation and as Such Cannot Contribute to the Long-Term Trend

6.2 A New One – ENSO Balances Out to Zero over the Long-Term

6.3 ENSO Only Adds Noise to the Instrument Temperature Record and We Can Remove its Effects through Linear Regression Analysis

6.4 The Effects of La Niña Events Oppose those of El Niño Events

6.5 Correlation is Not Causation. Just Because the Upward Steps Occur at the Same Time as the Major El Niño Events Doesn’t Mean Those El Niño Events Caused the Upward Steps

6.6 Move Along – There’s Nothing to See Here – The Surface Temperature Record Always Shows Decadal Periods of Flat or Cooling Temperatures

6.7 The Warm Water Available for El Niño Events Can Only be Explained by Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas Forcing

6.8 The Frequency and Strength of El Niño and La Niña Events are Dictated by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation

Section 7 – Questions and Answers

7.1 Since El Niño Events Create an Effect Where Sea Surface Temperature Appear to Ratchet Upwards, How Can Global Sea Surface Temperatures Flatten or Cool for Multidecadal Periods?

7.2 If Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gases Don’t Warm the Oceans, What Forcing Causes Them to Warm? (The assumption in that question is that radiative forcings are required to cause sea surface temperature and ocean heat content to warm.)

7.3 In the East Pacific and West Indian Oceans, Would the Cooling Rates after Major El Niño events be Faster if Anthropogenic Greenhouses Gases Weren’t Warming the Oceans?

7.4 Is There Any Evidence That Downward Longwave (Infrared) Radiation from Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gases Warms the Oceans (Sea Surface Temperature or Ocean Heat Content)?

7.5 Why is using Global Data as a Metric for Global Warming Misleading?

Section 8 – Closing

I’ll close this post with two questions:

What questions would you like to add to Section 7?

And:

What ENSO-related topics have I missed?

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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 El Nino-La Nina Processes, Essays & Books, Natural Warming. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Q&A for Who Turned on the Heat?

  1. Kristian says:

    Hi, Bob.

    I have two questions or rather subjects that I would like to see covered. The first one I guess you might already include an answer to. But I’ll ask nevertheless. It regards the AMO and the nature and depth of its connection to ENSO. You call it an ‘additional mode of natural variability’ and yet you’ve shown how the SSTs at least in the tropical North Atlantic follow ENSO’s upward steps in quite rigid fashion (through the well-known atmospheric teleconnections and the Hadley-Walker-disturbances east across the American Isthmus). Does it all come down to the rise in North Atlantic SSTs between the steps? Is that what the additional mode amounts to? ENSO controlling AMO’s general direction (positive or negative trend) through the significant El Niño/La Niña episodes, but other internal Atlantic factors help accentuate the response? If so, what are these other factors? AO/NAO? AMOC? Other extratropical (or tropical) atmospheric (or oceanic) modes? Do you discuss any such modes at all? Like NPO/AL and NPGO in the North Pacific. And how they might relate to ENSO. I for one think the AO especially might prove to be an essential part of the whole picture. As perhaps (?) the AAO in the SH.

    Hmm, sorry for letting it splay out there at the end …

    Well, the other subject I wonder about is the Pacific climate shifts, relating to the PDV. What is your take on them? What causes those regime shifts between say a La Niña-dominated and an El Niño-dominated epoch? The biggest and most obvious one is of course the 1976-77 shift which I guess started moving already in the early 70s and in some respects wasn’t fully completed until around 1980. There was also a minor (that is, not trend-flipping) shift in 1988-90 and some suggests another one around 1999-2000. Quite clearly there’s a connection to the respective upward steps in global SSTs around those times.

    Thanks!

  2. Bob Tisdale says:

    Thanks, Kristian. Those are two topics I haven’t addressed yet, and they are important.

  3. Bob Tisdale says:

    I’ll also be adding a discussion of the Reemergence Mechanism.
    https://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/06/11/the-reemergence-mechanism/

  4. Kristian says:

    There is also the Pacific Meridional Mode (an equivalent to the Atlantic Meridional Mode), that some people, among others Dan Vimont of the University of Wisconsin, think might be a precursor to ENSO events and also might have a bearing on decadal processes in the Pacific.

    http://iprc.soest.hawaii.edu/users/xie/wu_shu-aas09.pdf
    http://www.aos.wisc.edu/~dvimont/Publications_files/chang_etal_GRL2007.pdf
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/1520-0442(2003)016%3C2668:TSFMIT%3E2.0.CO%3B2

  5. Bob Tisdale says:

    Thanks again, Kristian. I had looked at the Pacific Meridional Mode and was waffling on whether to include a discussion of it. You’ve convinced me to include it.

  6. My question seems to piggy back on Kristian’s, just how El Nino/ La Nina impacts change on whether a specific phase, such as the AMO/PDO, are positive or negative.

  7. Bob Tisdale says:

    Richard Fenske: Thanks for those.

  8. Kristian says:

    Inspired by your brilliant visualization of how global SSTs shift upward in steps caused by significant ENSO events, by dividing the world ocean into two subsets: 90N-90S, 180-80W and 90N-90S, 80W-180E, I wanted to see if you could do the same thing with global OHC. And it turns out you can. Only, your subsets would be different. Have you done this exercise? If you have, you should just disregard what comes next.

    It is pretty much a matter of The West Pacific Warm Pool against the rest of the world. They swing in quite perfect counter phase – when OHC in the one region (West Pacific-East Indian: 90N-90S, 80-180E) goes up (during La Niñas), the OHC in the other (‘Rest of the world’: 90N-90S, 180W-80E) goes down. And the reverse. Same goes with trends. But, there are a few instances where they both shift upwards, though not at the same time. The West Pacific-East Indian OHC rises first, then afterwards the Rest of the world follows suit. Since 1970 this happened mainly in the periods 1970-78 and 1995-2003:

    Notice I’ve multiplied the ‘Rest-of-the-world’ data with 2,333 to account for the much larger sea surface area (70/30%). Note also the similar spikes in West Pacific-East Indian OHC before the El Niños of 72/73 and 97/98.

    Was there also a step around 1988-90? Well, it certainly wasn’t as well-defined as the other two. But there still seems to be a shift of some kind.

    Also interesting is the fact that since about 2003 the trend in both subsets has flipped compared to the preceding decades. What will happen next?

  9. Bob Tisdale says:

    Kristian: WOW!!!!! Great find. Let me look at it more closely. The 1988-90 shift is likely the result of the 88/89 La Nina.

    Oops. I forgot to say thanks.

  10. Kristian says:

    No worries, Bob. Like I said, you’re the one who inspired me in the first place to go search for these connections myself. And they’re simply everywhere. And people should know about it. How obvious it is.

    I’m eagerly awaiting your book. Meanwhile I’m doing my best to ‘spread your word’ here in Norway. But it’s an uphill struggle, no doubt about it.. People (the scientific community, the government, the media, that is) simply doesn’t want to know about this. No curiosity whatsoever. Rather they go into rabid dismissal mode whenever ENSO is mentioned as a climate factor.

    Keep up the good work! Hopefully we’ll prevail in the end.

  11. Kristian says:

    These two are perhaps even more revealing as to the process of how, where and when the OHC builds up during the last 40 odd years. I’ll leave them without comment, since they tell their own story quite well by themselves …


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