We’re Expecting: Will it be a Boy, a Girl, or ENSO-Neutral in 2013?

There was lots of interest in the short-lived El Niño conditions in 2012. Recently, they very quickly transformed into the present weak La Niña conditions. NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies are right at NOAA’s -0.5 threshold for La Niña conditions.  I’ve received some questions about them over the past few weeks, and Steven Goddard has a recent post about it here. There are many bloggers who study El Nino-Southern Oscillation, using many different variables, so the intent of this post is to get a discussion started about what the future will bring for El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in 2013.

It appears the sea surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific might continue to cool below the present NINO3.4 values of -0.52 deg C shown in Figure 1. The graph is from my recent post Annual Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomaly Update for 2012. The Reynolds OI.v2 data is available through the NOAA NOMADS website.

Figure 1 Weekly NINO3.4

Figure 1

The reason I say that is there’s lots of cool subsurface water along the equatorial Pacific, a result of the last upwelling (cool) Kelvin wave. See Figure 2, which is a gif animation from NOAA here. (You may have to click-start the animation.) As you’ll note, at present, there’s are some warm subsurface waters awaiting the next downwelling (warm) Kelvin wave, and they would warm surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific if and when work their way to the east.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Refer also to the Hovmoller diagram, Figure 3, from the most recent NOAA ENSO update. See page 16 there.

Figure 3

Figure 3

How long will the existing La Niña conditions last? Australia’s BOM is projecting ENSO neutral conditions through July 2013, while NOAA is being more cautious and limiting their ENSO-neutral projection only through boreal spring (though the models they present show the ENSO-neutral conditions extending into the summer). Refer to the most recent updates from BOM here and NOAA here.


There’s an off-equatorial pool of warm water in the northwestern tropical Pacific that shows up in the NODC ocean heat content data, Figure 4. The map was created at the KNMI Climate Explorer.

Figure 4

Figure 4

It also appears in the AVISO sea level anomalies for Dec 2012, Figure 5.

Figure 5

Figure 5

And it shows up in the JPL sea level anomalies, Figure 6, but it’s not as pronounced .

Figure 6

Figure 6

If that pool heads north or works its way into the Indian Ocean, then it won’t be involved in the next downwelling (warm) Kelvin wave to scoot across the equator in the Pacific, but if it migrates south, it could help to strengthen the next one and bring us back to El Niño conditions again in 2013.

Those were great big ifs.


Why should you be interested? 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 and ocean heat content since 1955, not manmade greenhouse gases. I’ve searched sea surface temperature records and ocean heat content data for more than 4 years (more than 3 years for the ocean heat content data), 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. Credit/Debit Card through PayPal. You do NOT need to open a PayPal account. Simply scroll down to the “Don’t Have a PayPal Account” purchase option. It’s only US$8.00.

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, SST Update. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to We’re Expecting: Will it be a Boy, a Girl, or ENSO-Neutral in 2013?

  1. tomwys says:

    Nice having a “Go To Guy” available on the ENSO!!!

    Thanks for all you do!!!

  2. Green Sand says:

    Thanks Bob, as usual good interesting info.

    As for “El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in 2013”. I just don’t know how to call it!

    Do you know how the “models” make their calls? I have had a look at the Met Office “GloSea” predictions over the last few years, they give a series of predictions versus actual going back to 2009 on their site:-


    Just by eyeballing the model appears to have demonstrated a certain amount of skill until the middle of last year when the prediction was El Nino and the actual set off in the opposite direction:-

    Does this instance of divergence mean we should consider the models broken? Or do we expect them to get back on track? Do you have or have you seen an explanation for last year’s divergence?

  3. Bob Tisdale says:

    Green Sand says: “Do you know how the ‘models’ make their calls?”

    I know very little about the ENSO models, other than to be able to describe the difference between the statistical and dynamical models.

    I also haven’t attempted to track their performances.


  4. Green Sand says:

    Thanks Bob, let the models remain a mystery!

    OLR is interesting, for the last 10 months it has just bounced around the average. If the warm pool was charged and full of energy would it not have come out to play?

    OLR bouncing around the average can’t be doing much to recharge the “warm pool” so until it does….

  5. Bob Tisdale says:

    Go Canucks Go!, thanks for the link. It’s more ENSO falsehoods by SkepticalScience.

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