Sorry to Disappoint: Cooling in the North Pacific? Not So Much

The sea surface temperature anomaly maps from Unisys had many people thinking there had been a drastic cooling of the surface of the extratropical North Pacific. But as discussed in this weekend’s post On The Recent Unisys Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly Maps and Cooling of Northern Hemisphere Ocean Surfaces, there were other sea surface temperature anomaly maps that were showing much less cooling there.  On Monday, Harold Ambler reported in his post UNISYS pulls down map showing dramatic ocean cooling that Unisys was suspending their sea surface temperature anomaly maps while they remedied some problems. Later that day, Unisys then followed that up with a post at their news blog that they were suspending those maps.

The NOAA ERSST.v3b sea surface temperature dataset is the first to be updated every month (that’s especially true now that the preliminary monthly Reynolds OI.v2 SST data are no longer available from the NOAA NOMADS website, which is being modified), and the ERSST.v3b data are in for October 2014. They can be accessed at the KNMI Climate Explorer.

The good news is, the blob (hotspot) in the eastern extratropical North Pacific has dissipated. See Animation 1, which cycles between the September and October ERSST.v3b sea surface temperature anomaly maps.  That blob was associated with a ridge of high pressure there, both of which were contributors to the California drought.

Animation 1

Animation 1

Will the blob return next year?  I hope not, but I suspect it might.  Will the blob’s recent weakening help to allow some more rain to fall in California?  I hope so.

Now the bad news: the sea surface temperature anomalies for the extratropical North Pacific have dropped, as shown in Figure 1. (For the extratropical North Pacific, think the latitude of the big island of Hawaii at about 20N then northward to the Bering Strait at 65N.)

Figure 1

Figure 1

But, the sea surface temperatures of the tropical North Pacific, Figure 2, still look as though a moderately strong El Niño is taking place…when, at best, the sea surface temperatures of the equatorial Pacific have only been tickling the threshold of an El Niño since the boreal summer.

Figure 2

Figure 2

As a result, there has been some cooling of the surfaces of the North Pacific as a whole, Figure 3. But there is still a long way to go for it to return to its “normal” of the period of 1989 to 2012, a 24-year period when there was little to no warming of the surface of the North Pacific.  See the post On The Recent Record-High Global Sea Surface Temperatures – The Wheres and Whys.

Figure 3

Figure 3

In turn, the sea surfaces of Northern Hemisphere and global oceans are only showing minor downturns from their peaks last month.  See Figures 4 and 5.

Figure 4

Figure 4

# # #

Figure 5

Figure 5

The October 2014 Reynolds OI.v2 sea surface temperature data should be available at the KNMI Climate Explorer sometime next week.  I’ll provide a full update then.

In closing, thank you, Unisys, for pulling those maps.


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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3 Responses to Sorry to Disappoint: Cooling in the North Pacific? Not So Much

  1. Werner Kohl says:

    Thanks, Bob, for the information update. We all (I think) wait whether the El Niño will come and how strong it will be.

  2. Thanks, Bob.
    Reality is the best!

  3. animation cycles between aept 2011 and sept 2014

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