Another Paper Blames ENSO for the Warming Hiatus

UPDATE 2 (Aug 29, 2013): If you haven’t seen Judith Curry’s post about Kosaka and Xie (2013), it is very much worth a read:

# # #

The recently published climate model-based paper Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling [Paywalled] by Yu Kosaka and Shang-Ping Xie has gained a lot of attention around the blogosphere.  Like Meehl et al (2012) and Meehl et al (2013), Kosaka and Xie blame the warming stoppage on the recent domination of La Niña events. The last two sentences of Kosaka and Xie (2013) read:

Our results show that the current hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La-Niña-like decadal cooling. Although similar decadal hiatus events may occur in the future, the multi-decadal warming trend is very likely to continue with greenhouse gas increase.

Anyone with a little common sense who’s reading the abstract and the hype around the blogosphere and the Meehl et al papers will logically now be asking: if La Niña events can stop global warming, then how much do El Niño events contribute? 50%? The climate science community is actually hurting itself when they fail to answer the obvious questions.

And what about the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO)?  What happens to global surface temperatures when the AMO also peaks and no longer contributes to the warming?

The climate science community skirts the common-sense questions, so no one takes them seriously.


Another two comments:

Kosaka and Xie (2013) appear to believe the correlation between their model and observed temperatures adds to the credibility of their findings. They write in the abstract:

Although the surface temperature prescription is limited to only 8.2% of the global surface, our model reproduces the annual-mean global temperature remarkably well with correlation coefficient r = 0.97 for 1970–2012 (which includes the current hiatus and a period of accelerated global warming).

Kosaka and Xie (2013) used the observed sea surface temperatures of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific as an input to their climate model. By doing so they captured the actual El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) signal. ENSO is the dominant mode of natural variability on the planet. In layman terms, El Niño and La Niña events are responsible for the year-to-year wiggles. It’s therefore not surprising that when they added the source of the wiggles, the models included the wiggles, which raised the correlation coefficient.

Table 1 from Kosaka and Xie (2013) is also revealing. The “HIST” experiment is for the climate model forced by manmade greenhouse gases and other forcings, and the “POGA-H” adds the tropical Pacific sea surface temperature data to the “HIST” forcings. For the modeled period of 1971-1997, adding the ENSO signal increased the linear trend by 34%. Maybe that’s why modeling groups exclude the multidecadal variability of ENSO by skewing ENSO to zero. That way El Niños and La Niñas don’t contribute to or detract from the warming. Unfortunately, by doing so, the models have limited use as tools to project future climate.

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, The Pause. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Another Paper Blames ENSO for the Warming Hiatus

  1. Mike Mangan says:

    That’s it? That’s all you have to say? If we assume no warming for the 50-60 years the PDO will be in negative phase in the 21st century, how much extra warming will have to occur during it’s positive phases to meet their doomsday predictions by 2100? I do not have the time or brains to figure that out. Your’e the Vulcan, how about you figure it out? I want to use this argument like a brickbat for the next few months. 🙂 Thanks, Bob!

  2. tomwys says:

    The disconnect between temperatures and CO2 is not just a recent aspect of Climate.


  3. big polluters should be rewarded for preventing global cooling

  4. Janice Moore says:

    Although the surface temperature prescription is limited to only 8.2% of the global surface, …

    What a bunch of clowns. Good for laughs.

    Thank you, Bob Tisdale, for keeping us informed, O Warrior for Truth in Science. I’m so grateful for all of you out there on the front lines of the battle. We owe you so much.

  5. Scott Scarborough says:

    If the top ocean is cool and Trenbreth says the deep ocean has warmed, maybe the ocean just turned over and the warm surface exchanged places with the deep ocean – Occam s razor. The extra heat in the atmosphere just radiated out to space. What I just said sounds a lot more reasonable than what the climate scientists are saying.

  6. The lame excuses keep coming.

  7. Pingback: Mind Blowing? Shocking News? PDO? ENSO? Effects Global Temps? Natural Variability? Wow. : | suyts space

  8. Roger Andrews says:

    Hi Bob:

    I just posted this over at Tallbloke’s Talkshop::

    Bob Tisdale, January 10, 2009: “Can El Niño events explain all of the global warming since 1976? Absolutely.”

    Me, March 16, 2012: “I don’t think these results leave much doubt that the post-1976 warming was caused by ENSO events and not by man-made greenhouse gases.”

    Kasaka & Xie, August 28, 2013: “ …. our model reproduces the annual-mean global temperature remarkably well with correlation coefficient r = 0.97 for 1970–2012 …… Our results show that the current (warming) hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La-Niña-like decadal cooling.”

    Judith Curry, August 28, 2013: “My mind has been blown by (the Kasaka & Xie) paper … natural internal variability (primarily PDO) … is … a major and likely dominant cause … of the warming in the last quarter of the 20th century.”

    Vindication is nice, but a little recognition wouldn’t go amiss either.

  9. Ragnaar says:

    Hello Bob Tisdale:
    I had a recent comment on Curry’s site about some of your graphs:
    I was wondering if it would be possible to get some updates on your 6 latitude zones and SST graphs? The ones I refer to in my post. Thank you.

  10. Bob Tisdale says:

    Ragnaar: Those zonal mean graphs are a lot of work. I download each latitude band by hand. So it’s not a simple update.

    While it would be interesting to update them, at present I don’t have the time. Maybe in a couple of months, after I finish my new book and update the last one.

    I’ve done model-data trend comparisons for the ocean basins on latitudinal bases, based on Reynolds OI.v2 data, more recently:


  11. Bob Tisdale says:

    Roger Andrews: Thanks. All we can do is keep pushing them.

    I’ve really enjoyed Trenberth’s discussions of “big jumps” in his RMS article:


  12. Thanks, Bob. You are doing a great job. The information you gather and put out for all to see is most valuable.

  13. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

  14. Ragnaar says:

    Thank you Mr. Tisdale. I should look at how to work with the data that’s out there. Your work has helped me with understanding what’s happening with this issue.

  15. Pingback: The Annoying ENSO | Greenhouse Bullcrap

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s