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El Niño 2014: Early Strength Fades

Inform the Pundits

New model forecasts out this month suggest that the consensus probability of El Niño this summer and winter is higher than ever, up to 80 percent by midwinter. However, those hoping El Niño 2014 will kick-start another round of global warming may be greatly disappointed. Basically, the PDO this year is sucking the heat out of El Niño 2014.


NOAA El Niño Report/June 2014: El Niño 2014 strength fading compared to El Niño of 1997-98


NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released its monthly El Niño report for May, on June 5th. The consensus probability there will be El Niño conditions for the Northern Hemisphere summer jumped to 70 percent, getting as high as 80 percent by late fall and winter.

Last March saw the highest subsurface ocean temperatures ever measured so early in an El Niño event. Speculation suggested this year’s event might be a repeat of the super El Niño of 1997-98. That one was the exclamation point at the end of the last massive global warming cycle that stopped 15 years ago.

However, it’s beginning to look like El Niño 2014 won’t be as strong as previously feared.

NOAA El Niño Report/June 2014: Consensus El Niño forecast

Forecasting El Niño is a consensus probability calculated from the average of 22 dynamic and statistical El Niño climate models.

It is the same basic principle as used by the IPCC in its climate models used to forecast global temperature rise. The IPCC has over 100 models. The difference, though, is that the IPCC has yet to achieved forecast reliability. The statistical “hiatus” from warming since 1998 has really messed up IPCC forecasting.

Indications that this year’s El Niño will not be as strong as previously thought comes from new data measuring sea temperatures down to a depth of 300 meters. El Niño is defined as a temperature anomaly ≥ +0.5°C in specifically defined zones. Upper 300-meter temperature of the equatorial Pacific comparing 2014-15 with 1997-98

Subsurface sea temperatures down to 300 meters depth, that had set an all-time record high in March, have now fallen way back to half the pace of the 1997-1998 super El Niño.

The trend appears to be toward a weaker, more normal event for 2014-15.

The PDO Effect


University of Washington: The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) matches earth’s temperature profile

The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is a new Pacific ocean phenomena, discovered in 1997, that affects ocean temperatures which, in turn, affects climate change and El Niño. It’s a 20-30 year alternating pattern between warming and cooling. We are about half way through a cooling cycle right now.

Statistically speaking, earth’s temperature stopped rising around 1998 when a down cycle in PDO began. PDO was in an up cycle in the great global warming years of the 1980s and 1990s. It was in a down cycle during the slight global cooling phase of the 1960s and 1970s.

Current speculation among scientists this month, based on the sudden drop in subsurface sea temperatures, is that PDO will mute the impact of El Niño this year. Many now believe it will not be a repeat of the super El Niño of 1997-98 that was at the end of the last up cycle in PDO.

Basically, PDO this year is sucking the heat out of El Niño 2014.

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