PRELIMINARY September 2012 Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly Update


The September 2012 Reynolds OI.v2 Sea Surface Temperature (SST) data through the NOAA NOMADS website won’t be official until Monday, September October 8th. 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 September 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 September 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 temperatures of an area in the eastern equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 170W-120W), known as the NINO3.4 region, are a commonly used reference for the strength, frequency and duration of El Niño and La Niña events. Weekly NINO3.4 region sea surface temperature anomalies for the week centered on September 26, 2012 are well below the 0.5 deg C threshold of an “official” El Niño. They’re at +0.27 deg C.

Weekly NINO3.4 SST Anomalies

Weekly Global sea surface temperature anomalies have been cooling for the past 5 weeks. They are presently at +0.27 deg C. Nope. That’s not a typo. Global and NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies are about the same, based on NOAA’s climatology, which uses the base years of 1971-2000.

Weekly Global SST Anomalies


Based on the preliminary data, September 2012 NINO3.4 SST anomalies are at +0.59 deg C still above the +0.5 deg C threshold of “official” El Niño conditions. They’ve cooled (about -0.26 deg C) based on the preliminary data. Refer also to the weekly data, which continues to show cooling in the NINO3.4 region.

Monthly NINO3.4 SST Anomalies

The preliminary global SST anomalies were basically flat, having warmed only 0.002 deg C. They’re presently at +0.273 deg C.

Monthly Global SST Anomalies


The weekly NINO3.4 SST anomalies for 2012 are compared to those of the El Niño events since 1982 that started from La Niña conditions. The early cooling this year appears odd, but looking at the monthly data above, there have been early demises in the past.

NINO3.4 Evolution Comparison – Starting From La Niña Conditions

Looking at the evolution of all El Niño events since November 1981, the happenings in 2012 are beginning to look out of place. Will this year’s event turn into a non-Niño, aka La Nada?

NINO3.4 Evolution Comparison – All


Why should you be interested? Satellite-era 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 have been publishing blog posts for the past 3 ½ years that illustrate that fact.

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 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.  To keep it inexpensive, I still have no plans to publish a Kindle edition.


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



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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2 Responses to PRELIMINARY September 2012 Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly Update

  1. BillC says:


    Do you have any posts using ARGO data or any subsurface ocean temperatures? A related question – do you know of any good references describing the evolution of ENSO using ocean temperatures at different depths? Thanks.

  2. Bob Tisdale says:

    BillC: My ocean heat content posts present ARGO-era data, but I don’t use unadjusted ARGO data. I haven’t done a post solely about ARGO-era Ocean Heat Content for a while:

    But I have other posts that include some ARGO-era OHC data:

    With respect to ENSO at different depths, the subsurface ENSO processes take place above the thermocline, see the lower portion of the following animation…

    …so most discussions here are of Ocean Heat Content for depths of 0-700m and depth-averaged temperature and warm water volume along the equatorial Pacific for the top 300m.

    What specifically are you looking for?

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