VERY, VERY PRELIMINARY July 2014 Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Update


Preliminary monthly NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies have dropped below the +0.5 deg C threshold of El Niño conditions, while the preliminary monthly global data are still elevated.  Weekly NINO3.4 data are well below the threshold of El Niño conditions.   And weekly global sea surface temperatures are still cycling up at record high levels, which we discussed in the June update and will mention again later in this post.


The sea surface temperatures of the equatorial Pacific are dropping for the most part—all but the NINO1+2 region which have taken another upswing.  Will NINO3.4 anomalies drop below zero this week?

The following are the weekly sea surface temperature anomalies for the 4 most-often-used NINO regions for the week centered on Wednesday July 23st.  From west to east:

  • NINO4 (5S-5N, 160E-150W) = +0.41
  • NINO3.4 (5S-5N, 170W-120W) = +0.08
  • NINO3 (5S-5N, 150W-90W) = +0.57
  • NINO1+2 (10S-0, 90W-80W) = +1.37

And the following series of graphs shows the weekly data for those regions since January 1990.

Weekly ENSO Indices

ENSO Indices


The July 2014 Reynolds OI.v2 Sea Surface Temperature (SST) data through the NOAA NOMADS website won’t be official until Monday, August 11,, 2014. 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 July 2014 that the NOMADS website prepares based on incomplete data for the month.  I’ve also included the weekly data through the week centered on July 23, 2014, but I’ve shortened the span of the weekly data.  As noted in the recent mid-July 2013 update, I started using 2001 for the start of the graphs of the weekly data so that the variations can be seen AND so that you can see how “flat” global sea surface temperature anomalies had been until recently.  Looks like we’ll need another strong La Niña event to bring the global sea surface temperatures back down.  The base years for anomalies are 1971-2000, which are the standard base years from the NOAA NOMADS website for this dataset.


The preliminary global sea surface temperature anomalies are presently at about +0.32 deg C.  Based on the preliminary data, they cooled slightly (a decrease of about -0.028 deg C) since June.  With the apparent upward shift in the North Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies last year, and the early El Niño conditions this year, we’re looking at the possibility of record-high global sea surface temperatures in 2014. The other factor, of course, is the upward shift in the sea surface temperatures of the South Atlantic-Indian-West Pacific subset in response to the 1997/98 El Niño. See the discussion in this post under the heading of The East Pacific Versus the Rest of the World in the post here.  We’ll have to watch and see whether the fall from the early El Niño conditions has an impact on the global data.

Monthly Global

Monthly Global SST Anomalies


The sea surface temperature anomalies of the NINO3.4 region in the eastern equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 170W-120W) are a commonly used index for the strength, frequency, and duration of El Niño and La Niña events.  See the illustration here for the location of the NINO3.4 region.  Based on the preliminary data, July 2014 NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies are now slightly below the +0.5 deg C threshold of an El Niño event.  They’re presently at +0.44 deg C.  The threshold for El Niño conditions is considered to be warmer than or equal to +0.5 deg C (and for a La Niña, it’s cooler than or equal to -0.5 deg C).  So the reading of +0.46 indicates the tropical Pacific has just dropped back into ENSO-neutral conditions based on the preliminary monthly data.  Also refer to the weekly data that follows, because the weekly NINO3.4 data have been dropping like a brick in recent weeks.

Monthly NINO3.4

Monthly NINO3.4 SST Anomalies



Weekly NINO3.4 region (5S-5N, 170W-120W) sea surface temperature anomalies for the week centered on July 23, 2014 are well below the threshold of El Niño conditions.  The weekly NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies were approximately +0.08 deg C.  They’re closer to a zero anomaly than they are to El Niño conditions.

Weekly NINO3.4

Weekly NINO3.4 SST Anomalies


The weekly Global sea surface temperature anomalies have been cycling near record high levels recently.  They are presently about +0.36 deg C.

Weekly Global

Weekly Global SST Anomalies



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, not manmade greenhouse gases. I’ve searched sea surface temperature records for more than 4 years and ocean heat content records for more than 3 years, and I can find no evidence of an anthropogenic greenhouse gas signal in either dataset. That is, the warming of the global oceans has been caused by naturally occurring, sunlight-fueled, coupled ocean-atmosphere processes, not anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

Last year I published an ebook (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 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 have to open a PayPal account. Simply scroll down to the “Don’t Have a PayPal Account” purchase option. It’s only US$8.00 marked down to U.S.$5.00.


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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17 Responses to VERY, VERY PRELIMINARY July 2014 Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Update

  1. wernerkohl says:

    Hi Bob,
    thanks for the very informative overview.

    There is one small typo:
    “4 (5S-5N, 170W-120W) = +0.08”
    should read
    “NINO3.4 (5S-5N, 170W-120W) = +0.08”

  2. Bob Tisdale says:

    Thanks, Werner. It has been corrected.

  3. goldminor says:

    I see that the WUWT ENSO gauge made a good sized move downward today. My speculative outlook is still batting 100%. A key point will be if a slight warm reversal occurs in October prior to a further drop for the end of the year.

  4. Bob Tisdale says:

    goldminor, is it too early to start talking about the next La Nina?

  5. goldminor says:

    Initially, i had speculated that the ENSO would swing back to La Nina late this year. However, for my concept to be correct, then there should be another swing back to a stronger positive ENSO around late Dec or January. In looking at current changes I find myself wondering how that might come about. I am working on how to interpret the influences from the solar/ocean connection which I am looking at. Such as ‘how to interpret neutral conditions as well as + and – conditions, and what time intervals will it take as the ENSO shifts to different states?’.

    I do expect a La Nina to develop after this next warm pulse in 2015. The 3 and 4 regions have cooled a good bit. I see in looking at the daily sst that there have been north/south intrusions of a cooler layer right through the warmest layer of the ocean, where the Kelvin/nino wave travels. Will that have the affect of lowering sea levels in the area? If it does lower sea level enough would the lower sea level then be an impetus for the next warm wave to move eastward again? Or is movement of the warm wave always driven by wind changes?

  6. Gary says:

    Bob, check this comments about Alaskan SST by one of the crab fishermen:
    Is what he says about the highs and lows correct?

  7. Alec, aka Daffy Duck says:

    Hmm, lest we not forget JAMES HANSEN

    April 8, 2006

    Scientist Forecasts ‘super El Niño’…795metro04-08-06.htm

    Here is his paper, and the most important sentences:

    We argue further that global warming has increased the likelihood of “super El Ninos”,
    such as those that occurred in 1983 and 1997-1998. This impact of global warming, if true, is
    important, because the extreme global climate anomalies associated with super El Ninos are
    more devastating than the effects of more moderate El Ninos.

    Click to access Hansen_Spotlight%5B1%5D.pdf

  8. Bob Tisdale says:

    Gary, apparently Keith Colburn can’t differentiate between climate and weather.

  9. Thanks, Bob. You do a great job informing about what nature is doing.

  10. Greg says:

    Bob , you recently posted the following two links in comments over at WUWT:

    This SH data is very interesting but I can’t find a source to get individual maps. I wanted to have a closer look and make my own animations at a slower speed so I can get a better idea of what is happening.

    Could you point me to source?

    Thanks, Greg.

  11. Bob Tisdale says:

    Hi Greg: I created those maps, using 12-month averages, at the KNMI Climate Explorer…

    Their of the CLS ENACT data that’s listed under the heading of “Sea surface height”.

    You’ll note that KNMI hasn’t updated that dataset for a while. It ends on 2005. And if memory serves, there’s a sharp drop-off in 2004, assumedly from a satellite problem.

  12. Greg says:

    Thanks Bob.

    Am I right in thinking that you used KNMI to do the plot. I can’t get any sense out of it. If I select anything but one month, it returns an empty plot and “entire grid unidentified”! . Looks buggy as hell.

    Sharp drop off ? Didn’t OHC start dropping in 2005 too until Josh Willis got told to be with the program and delete any ‘inconvenient’ XTBs?

  13. Bob Tisdale says:

    Greg, about your results at KNMI, it sounds like your trying to plot maps for a time period outside of the range of the available data. Try changing the year to 1998 and select 12-month average. I just did and it worked.

    Josh Willis found a “problem” with the ARGO floats, which he corrected. Different problem than satellite drift.

  14. Mike Mangan says:

    We would appreciate a comment on this new paper blaming a warm Atlantic for all sorts of mischief…


  15. Bob Tisdale says:

    Mike Mangan, thanks for the link. I’ll try to get to it later in the week. Right now, I’m finishing up another post about Risbey et al.

  16. Greg says:

    “Josh Willis found a “problem” with the ARGO floats, which he corrected. Different problem than satellite drift.”

    No, it was not ARGO but XBT as I said.

    You are correct, there is a what looks like an erroneous shift in the sea height data.

    I’m getting large expanses of grey in map plots, does not seem to be what you animated.

    What looked most interesting was the youtube vid. do you know what data that was?

  17. Bob Tisdale says:

    Greg says: “No, it was not ARGO but XBT as I said.

    And the link you provided reads, regarding ARGO:
    “He was looking at a map of global ocean temperatures measured by a flotilla of autonomous, underwater robots that patrol the world’s oceans. The devices—Argo floats—sink to depths of up to 2,000 meters, drift with the currents, and then bob up to the surface, taking the temperature of the water as they ascend. When they reach the surface, they transmit observations to a satellite. According to the float data on his computer screen, almost the entire Atlantic Ocean had gone cold. Unless you believe The Day After Tomorrow, Willis jokes, impossibly cold.”
    Later it reads, regarding ARGO:
    ““First, I identified some new Argo floats that were giving bad data; they were too cool compared to other sources of data during the time period. It wasn’t a large number of floats, but the data were bad enough, so that when I tossed them, most of the cooling went away. But there was still a little bit, so I kept digging and digging.'”

    The “little bit” turned out to the “too warm” XBTs around the 1970s to early 80s, which skewed the climatology during the ARGO era. But the ARGO floats were the primary problem in the 2000s.

    Regarding the sea level maps, adjust the “contour range” of the maps to what I have on my maps. That should take care of the greys.


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