posted on 04 May 2015
Written by Sig Silber
The NOAA May Update does not answer many questions but suggests that short-term forecasting in May will be difficult especially for the Eastern Half of CONUS. The Warm Event continues but May is the wrong time to be forecasting the condition of ENSO in Fall and Winter. Some interesting papers on sunspots are discussed which suggest they may be a bit more important than generally recognized.
This is the Regular Edition of my weekly Weather and Climate Update Report. Additional information can be found here on Page II of the Global Economic Intersection Weather and Climate Report.
I thought I would start out with something a little different. Sunspot Cycles. But first I should explain that sunspots although they represent cooler areas on the Sun are surrounded by brighter warmer areas called faculae. Sunspots are actually associated with more irradiation reaching the Earth. It is the opposite of what you might think.
The long sunspot cycle 23 predicts a significant temperature decrease in cycle 24
Jan-Eric Solheim, Kjell Stordahib, Ole Humlum Full report can be found here.
I do not know what to make of this. Clearly these Norwegian researchers are challenging the Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory or at least that GHG is the primary cause of Warming at least with regards to parts of the North Atlantic. I have not gone into it, but these papers are related to the workings of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).
As an aside, a well known economic forecaster includes the sunspot cycle in his analysis. I am not sure how he sees this impacting the economy. But weather does impact the economy. It is on my list of things to pursue.
And here is another take which is based on the work of Dr. Judith Lean and is related to what is called the Maunder Minimum of solar activity (approximately 1645 - 1715 some say 1705) which is generally associated with the Little Ice Age (LIA) which occurred at about the same time perhaps with a slight lag. But this article also looked at more recent times. It gives more weight to changes in solar irradiance impacting Warming than the IPCC. From that article.
Here is the article SOLAR INFLUENCES ON CLIMATE L. J. Gray, J. Beer, M. Geller J. D. Haigh, M. Lockwood, K. Matthes U. Cubasch, D. Fleitmann, G. Harrison, L. Hood, J. Luterbacher. G.A. Meehl, D. Shindel, B. van Geel, and W. White which I believe is the basis for the IPCC view on the matter. I think it is both comprehensive and well prepared. But it was published prior to the Solheim article and thus does not incorporate that information. It begins by focusing on the small variance in Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) at the Top of the Atmosphere (TOA) which according to this multi-author paper is in the order of 0.17 Watts/square-meter. The estimate in that paper of total solar incoming is 239 watts/square-meter. The variance of 0.17 is only 0.07% of 239 so that is pretty much what appears in the IPCC where sunspot cycles are declared to have minimal impact on climate based on the above calculation or similar. But the changes due to sunspot activity are not all in the same wavelength so those changes may be as much as 6% for certain wavelengths such as ultraviolet. And then you have what is called Solar Energy Particles (SEP) and Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs) which some believe can serve as cloud condensation nuclei (CNN) so it gets complicated really quick. It gets even more involved as you consider the impact or lack thereoff on ozone and other characteristics of the Stratosphere. The following graphic is simply to illustrate sunspot cycles. We are in Cycle 24 now.
I am neither convinced that the Solheim et al article is valid or invalid but I observe that it is based on one geographical area. And I think the Gray et al article acknowledges that this type of impact has been observed in certain geographical areas especially in areas close to the Poles. Also the possible alternating impact of solar cycles is not surprising as a larger or smaller than average cycle is likely to be followed by one that reverts to the mean. And the 11 year nature of the solar cycle can easily be confused with the ENSO cycle. So I am neither buying into this concept or rejecting it but presenting it because it illustrates the complexity of climate.
I was originally not going to present the work of Richards et al which would appear to be predicting 75 years of reduced sunspot activity from current levels here. But I changed my mind and here is the Abstract. It certainly challenges the claim that all scientists believe that Global Warming is Anthropogenic.
This is the key graphic in this paper. The third row is probably of most interest as that is described by the author as being the best fit with the data. Notice it does not fit with the Oort Minimum but does fit the others. That is the challenge of trying to fit a regular sinusoidal cycle to historical data. If you accept that there is predictive value to this approach, then the dashed line on the third row is a prediction of sunspot cycle length with is inversely related to number of sunspots which is in turn inversely related to the impact on the temperature of Planet Earth. So Richards et all are projecting a cooling influence for the next 75 years and actually longer since it will take longer to return to Year 2000 levels namely close to 188 years. I was reluctant to include this article because it so much stands apart from other research, but I concluded that it would be wrong to suppress information. Let the reader be the judge.
I generally am able to figure out the science behind the papers that I refer to in this weather and climate column. But I acknowledge that I am not enough of an astrophysicist to offer an opinion on the validity of these very complicated papers. But I find the premise very interesting. I suspect that the math (and some other aspects of this research) is too daunting for the Main Stream Media - even that part of the MSM that is science oriented. But I believe that there are some readers of this column who can post on what they think of these papers. It does not appear to me to be a small group of researchers who are involved in this sort of research but a fairly large group. As such their work can not simply be ignored.
Updated NOAA May Outlook
NOAA issued their regular end of month update for the subsequent month and the updated maps are in the report with the 6 - 14 Outlook Discussion.
The discussion issued by NOAA relative to this update follows.
As you will see in the maps later on, the major changes relate to temperature on the East Coast.
We will now shift timeframes dramatically. Current (Now to 5 Days) Weather Situation:
For daily forecasts it is better to consult your local weather service or the weather service where you are traveling as these will be more specific. But I do have daily forecasts on Page II of the Report so you can always look at those as they auto-update. What I present here is information that normally is not made available via local weather forecasts and which can help you understand what some of the major drivers are for the local forecast.
First here is a national 12 hour to 60 hour forecast of weather fronts shown as an animation. Beyond 60 hours, the maps are available in Part II of the Global Economic Intersection Weather and Climate Report.
The explanation for the coding used in these maps i.e. the full legend can be found here.
Sometimes it is useful to take a look at the location of the Jet Stream or Jet Streams. This and the following graphic update every six hours. The split jet stream may be related to the Warm Event.
And sometimes the forecast is revealing. Below is the forecast out five days.
To see it in animation, click here.
This longer animation shows how the jet stream is crossing the Pacific and when it reaches the U.S. West Coast is going every which way. One can imagine that attempting to forecast this 6 - 14 days out is quite challenging and NOAA is having fits attempting to guess how this will play out over a 14 day period especially for the Southwest.
And below is another view which highlights the surface highs and the lows re air pressure on Day 3.
And here is Day 6. The RRR remains in place. California continues to be cut off from Pacific moisture. We still see "incoming" cold waves but at this time of year they mostly result in April Showers.
Outlook Days 6 - 14 (but only showing the 8 - 14 Day Maps)
Here is the Early Outlook May Temperature Outlook which was issued on April 16, 2015
And here is the updated Temperature Outlook for May
Looks like the ideas about the East Coast have changed a bit in two weeks.
And here is the April 8 - 14 Day Temperature Outlook issued today May 4, 2015. It covers most of the third week of May.
Remember that the 6 - 14 day outlook only covers 9 days not the full month and the map shown only covers seven days. But May appears to be developing somewhat differently and warmer especially in the Southeast than indicated in the May Outlook which was updated just last Thursday. The almost appears to be somewhat of a 45 degrees clockwise rotation of systems around the center of CONUS.
And here is the Early May Precipitation Outlook Issued on April 16, 2015.
And here is the updated Precipitation probabilities for May issued on April 30, 2015.
It is fairly similar to the prior Early Outlook. So one wonders how the temperature forecasts changes without the precipitation forecast changing?
Here is the 8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook issued today May 4, 2015.
And again remember that this map shows only seven days and the full 6 - 14 Day Outlook only covers nine days. There are 30 days in May. But the third week of May looks to be wetter for more of CONUS than the full-month Outlook issued just last Thursday. The 6- 10 Day Outlook is even wetter Again it looks like somewhat of a rotation around the center of CONUS. It am not sure what it means but it could be related to the Northern Jet Stream being stronger than the Southern Jet Stream. But that is not what NOAA says in the discussion below.
And here are excerpts from the NOAA release today May 4, 2015.
Analogs to Current Conditions
Now let us take a detailed look at the "Analogs" which NOAA provides related to the 5 day period centered on 3 days ago and the 7 day period centered on 4 days ago. "Analog" means that the weather pattern then resembles the recent weather pattern and was used in some way to predict the 6 - 14 day Outlook.
Here are today's analogs in chronological order although this information is also available with the analog dates listed by the level of correlation. I find the chronological order easier for me to work with. There is a second set of analogs associated with the outlook but I have not been analyzing this second set of information. This first set applies to the 5 and 7 day observed pattern prior to today. The second set which I am not using relates to the forecast outlook 6 - 10 days out to similar patterns that have occurred in the past during the dates covered by the 6 - 10 Day Outlook. That may also be useful information but they put this set of analogs in the discussion with the other set available by a link so I am assuming that this set of analogs is the most meaningful.
On May 4, there was one ENSO Neutral and two La Nina and four El Nino analogs. So that is a big change from recent weeks. The 1982 analog is of most interest. The specific analogs are significantly different from just yesterday. NOAA provides me with two groups of five and I discard the duplicates and this week there were three duplicates. Yesterday the analogs were somewhat consistent with McCabe Condition A. The seminal work on the impact of the PDO and AMO on U.S. climate can be found here. The key maps are shown below. Today I do not see a clear pattern of how the analogs correlated with the phase of the ocean cycles that were associated with those analogs. This gives me less faith in the forecast as what NOAA said on Thursday our weather right now is not being highly correlated with ocean cycle phases possibly because the oceans are delivering a mixed message.
You may have to squint but the drought probabilities are shown on the map and also indicated by the color coding with shades of red indicating higher than 25% of the years are drought years (25% or less of average precipitation for that area) and shades of blue indicating less than 25% of the years are drought years. Thus drought is defined as the condition that occurs 25% of the time and this ties in nicely with each of the four pairs of two phases of the AMO and PDO.
Progress of the Warm Event
Because of the long discussion at the beginning of my report this week, I decided to again attempt to cover the Warm Event in a concise (for me) fashion. The graphic below shows the current situation quite well. You can see the warm anomaly along the Equator. The anomalies are quantified and are not extreme but somewhat more extreme than last week. You see three sections of warm anomalies. The middle one is in the Nino 3.4 area and is above 0.5 which makes this El Nino Conditions. The one on the right which extends along the coast of South America down to Peru makes it a Traditional El Nino. The warm water off of Mexico extending up to the Northwest Coast of North America and the warm water near and west of the Date Line makes this an El Nino Modoki Type II. We have a mixed bag. It is not even summer, so none of this means very much. The real question is what will the Fall and Winter be like?
This shows the state of the Tropical Pacific over the past four weeks.
NOAA has a graphic that shows the change over the last four weeks.
This is extremely interesting as it shows:
"2" Contradicts "1" and "3" mediates both "1" and "2". So this is a confusing situation and confirms in my mind that NOAA has consistently misinterpreted what is going on and this shows why they are having problems.
For my own amusement, I thought I would recalculate the ONI again as I have been doing recently. The little tick marks on the chart can be used instead of a ruler. When I print out this graphic one tick is about one centimeter. So you can use a ruler or just estimate the number (including fractions) of tick marks.
So as of Monday May 4 in the afternoon working from the May 3 TAO/TRITON report, this is what I calculated.
My estimate of the Nino 3.4 ONI is now 1.25 which is a very respectable value and larger than last week. Overall it looks to me like this warm event may be petering out. The asymmetry around the Equator has increased a bit. I think the NOAA reading is a bit too low and will be reported as higher next week. Remember that NOAA is providing a weekly average and I am estimating a daily value. So if the ONI is rising, the average will lag a daily reading and that is the case right now as this Kelvin Wave moves through the area where Nino 3.4 is measured. The NOAA estimate is impacted to some extent by some cooler water near 5S Latitude but I do not think that is a major factor.
Now this week's weekly SST Departures and the trend graphs on the right.
These are all fairly high values especially the Nino 1+2 estimate. The view of El Nino as a 2014/2015 event appears to be morphing into a view that it is a 2015/2016 event. But all predictions about El Nino for next winter must be tempered by what is called the Spring Prediction Barrier (SPB). Nevertheless, an El Nino this coming winter is a possibility. It is due and many factors are in place that suggest it will happen. But it needs another Kelvin Wave to make it happen. At this point I am leaning towards thinking it is not going to happen. The reason I am less positive than most computer models is that both warm and cold ENSO events are processes that have negative feedback loops i.e. they tend not to reinforce themselves but dissipate. Greater than single-winter warm events are fairly rare. I am looking at the NOAA list of El Ninos declared since 1950 and there are 19 of them and one lasted through two winters years starting when this warm event first reached a ONI 0.5 level and one lasted two winters but started later in the season. Both were during a period later recognized as PDO+. So I am just wondering if there is a reason to assume that this particular Warm Event has the staying power of the former champions. The PDO is currently positive but not as positive as recently and what has occurred so far re this Modoki Type II in terms of geographical coverage of warmer water has been minimal so the dissipating impacting may have been sufficiently minimal to allow this event to make it through this winter. I will be surprised if that happens but I have been surprised before.
The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) reporting by Queensland, Australia has been off the air since May 2 so I am only able to show five days of data. The first column is the tentative daily reading, the second is the 30 day running average and the third is the 90 day average.
This past week, considering five days of data, the SOI started off being favorable for the development of an El Nino and then became unfavorable so it is a no decision. Usually -8 is considered El Nino Conditions. Sometimes -6 is used for local forecasting in Australia. The 30 average which on May 2 was reported as being -3.58 and which is the most widely used measure is further from -8 than it has been in a long time although a bit closer than last week. The following NOAA graphic would be helpful but it is up to date as of only May 1 so it does not reflect the last couple of days. It shows a decline in the Easterlies. I do not think the NOAA comments on this graphic are correct. The TAO/TRITON graphic does not show westerly winds over the Eastern Equator but a decline in the Easterlies. There are Westerlies in the Western Equatorial Pacific. We do not see the wind gust that is necessary to keep this Warm Event going.
The Kelvin Wave graphic to me is the key to the situation at this point. It is really the Upper Ocean Heat Anomaly.
We need to examine this graphic very carefully as NOAA will not provide any assistance with this. They so far have not recognized a new upwelling phase and perhaps that is the correct call as it may not develop. But if you look a this graphic carefully you will see that along the bottom of the graphic, which is what counts as being a Hovmoeller the time sequence is from top to bottom and the bottom is the most recent readings, the most extreme anomalies are now impacting the Equator east of 150 W. So this Kelvin Wave is playing out. The TAO/TRITON data is showing surface anomalies further west but this is showing upper level anomalies which is the surface down probably down to 300 meters (but I am not positive about that). So it is a bit confusing to be sure but there is another graphic that helps to resolve the confusion.
I hate presenting so many graphics as it is a lot for a reader to process but when your Government Agency is not fully explaining the situation, sometimes it becomes necessary to present more of the data they are working from so that informed readers can draw their own conclusions. I think it is pretty obvious looking at the snapshots on the right and the most recent (hardly current) snapshot on the left, that this Kelvin wave which was quite powerful is playing out and will do so within three to four months. So far there is no sign of a follow-up wave which is why the concept of a Spring Prediction Barrier re ENSO events has developed based on the experience of those who attempt to predict Fall and Winter conditions in the Spring and Summer. It just is not a highly reliable approach.
Pulling it All Together.
We may or may not have an El Nino this Winter. We may or may not have a Pacific Climate Shift as the PDO+ may be simply related to the Warm Event. But for now we do have PDO+. The AMO being an overturning may be more predictable so the Neutral status moving towards AMO- is probably fairly reliable but not necessarily proceeding in a straight line. So none of this is very difficult to figure out actually if you are looking at say a five-year forecast. Predicting a particular year is far harder. The research on Ocean Cycles is fairly conclusive and widely available to those who seek it out. I provided a lot of information on this in prior weeks and again last week but with more information last week and all of that is preserved in Part II of my report which you can get to below. This week I threw solar cycles into the mix. My Editor tells me that he will show me how to create a Table of Contents for Part II to make it easier to navigate.
Click Here for the Econointersect Weather and Climate Page II where you will find:
Click Here for Page III which deals with Global Warming.
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