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posted on 04 May 2015

4 May 2015 Weather and Climate Outlook - Let's Discuss Sunspots - NOAA Updates the May Outlook

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

"Abstract

Relations between the length of a sunspot cycle and the average temperature in the same and the next cycle are calculated for a number of meteorological stations in Norway and in the North Atlantic region. No significant trend is found between the length of a cycle and the average temperature in the same cycle, but a significant negative trend is found between the length of a cycle and the temperature in the next cycle. This provides a tool to predict an average temperature decrease of at least 1.0°C from solar cycle 23 to solar cycle 24 for the stations and areas analyzed. We find for the Norwegian local stations investigated that 25–56% of the temperature increase the last 150 years may be attributed to the Sun. For 3 North Atlantic stations we get 63–72% solar contribution. This points to the Atlantic currents as reinforcing a solar signal.

Highlights

► A longer solar cycle predicts lower temperatures during the next cycle. ► A 1 °C or more temperature drop is predicted 2009–2020 for certain locations. ► Solar activity may have contributed 40% or more to the last century temperature increase. ► A lag of 11 years gives maximum correlation between solar cycle length and temperature.

Mechanism

In addition to the relation between solar cycle length and the amplitude of the next Rmax, it is reasonable to expect a time lag for the locations investigated, since heat from the Sun, amplified by various mechanisms, is stored in the ocean mainly near the Equator, and transported into the North Atlantic by the Gulf Stream to the coasts of Northern Europe. An example of time lags along the Norwegian coast is an advective delay between the Faroe-Shetland Channel and the Barents Sea of about 2 years determined from sea temperature measurements (Yndestad et al., 2008).

Formation of NADW represents transfer of upper level water to large depths. The water is transported and spread throughout the Atlantic and exported to the Indian and Pacific oceans before upwelling in Antarctic waters. The return flow of warm water from the Pacific through the Indian ocean and the Caribbean to the North Atlantic, a distance of 40,000 km, takes from 13 to 130 years (Gordon, 1986). There appears to be solar “fingerprints” that can be detected in climate time series in other parts of the world with each series having a unique time lag between the solar signal and the hydro-climatic response. Perry (2007) reports that a solar signal composed of geomagnetic aa-index and total solar irradiance (TSI) is detected with various lags from 0 years (Indian Ocean) to 34 years (Mississippi river flow) and 70 years (Labrador Sea ice). Mehl [sic G. A. Meehl] et al. (2009) have shown that two mechanisms: the top-down stratospheric response of ozone to fluctuations of shortwave solar forcing and the bottom-up coupled ocean–atmospheric surface response, acting together, can amplify a solar cyclical pulse with a factor 4 or more. Since our stations are located near or in the North Atlantic, solar signals in climatic time series may arrive with delays of decades. If we can detect a solar signal and measure the delay for individual regions, we may have a method for future climate predictions.

Recognizing that averaged temperature series from different meteorological stations of variable quality and changing locations may contain errors, and partially unknown phenomena derived from the averaging procedure, Butler (1994) proposed instead to use long series of high quality single stations. This might improve the correlation between SCL and temperature.

He showed that this was the case when using temperature series obtained at the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland 1844–1990. Since the Armagh series correlated strongly with the NH temperature, he concluded that this indicates that solar activity, or something closely related to it, has had a dominant influence on the temperature of the lower atmosphere in the Northern Hemisphere over the past 149 years (Butler, 1994). This investigation was later expanded to the period 1795–1995 by Butler and Johnston (1994), who found a relation tARM=14.42−0.5LSCtARM=14.42−0.5LSC, where LSC is the smoothed length of the solar cycle determined by the 1-2-2-2-1 filter. They concluded that the good fit over nearly 200 years indicated that solar activity had been the dominant factor for nearly two centuries."

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.

"The Last 25 Years

Lean's study found that "solar forcing may have contributed about half of the observed 0.55°C surface warming since 1860 and one third of the warming since 1970". However, lest we take unwarranted comfort from the fact that the Sun seems most important and anthropogenic warming is less than originally estimated, keep in mind that if the Sun controls substantial climate fluctuations by changing its brightness by only 0.25%, a change of more than 1 percent in virtual brightness (from trace greenhouse gases like CO2 and CH4) could have a considerably greater impact. The fact is we do not know for sure which will have the greater effect, but it is well to remember that the reconstruction of sunspots, their relationship to solar energy output, and the link to overall background brightness are areas of science that are still changing. Thus, solar contributions may be much less (or a somewhat more) than those currently estimated. In any case, the conclusion that can be taken from this discussion is that the warming since 1975 is outside the range of a purely solar effect and may safely be ascribed to a strong anthropogenic component."

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.

Sunspot Numbers inversely related to cosmic rays

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.

The recent paucity of sunspots and the delay in the expected start of Solar Cycle 24 have drawn attention to the challenges involved in predicting solar activity. Traditional models of the solar cycle usually require information about the starting time and rise time as well as the shape and amplitude of the cycle. With this tutorial, we investigate the variations in the length of the sunspot number cycle and examine whether the variability can be explained in terms of a secular pattern. We identified long-term cycles in archival data from 1610 - 2000 using median trace analyses of the cycle length and power spectrum analyses of the (O-C) residuals of the dates of sunspot minima and maxima. Median trace analyses of data spanning 385 years indicate a cycle length with a period of 183 - 243 years, and a power spectrum analysis identifies a period of 188 ± 38 years. We also find a correspondence between the times of historic minima and the length of the sunspot cycle, such that the cycle length increases during the time when the number of spots is at a minimum. In particular, the cycle length was growing during the Maunder Minimum when almost no sunspots were visible on the Sun. Our study suggests that the length of the sunspot number cycle should increase gradually, on average, over the next ∼75 years, accompanied by a gradual decrease in the number of sunspots. This information should be considered in cycle prediction models to provide better estimates of the starting time of each cycle.

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.

Richards Sunspot History

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.

"PROGNOSTIC DISCUSSION FOR MONTHLY OUTLOOK NWS CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER COLLEGE PARK MD 300PM EDT THURSDAY APR 30 2015

30-DAY OUTLOOK DISCUSSION FOR MAY 2015

THE REVISED MONTHLY OUTLOOK FOR MAY 2015 CONTAINS SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES OVER THE NORTHEAST QUADRANT OF THE CONTIGUOUS 48 STATES. THE DIFFERENCES ARE SUPPORTED BY MOST DYNAMICAL MODELS AND SHORT-TERM OUTLOOKS. ADDITIONALLY, THE CORRELATIONS WITH THE PACIFIC DECADAL OSCILLATION AND ENSO HAVE WEAK SIGNALS OVER THE NORTHEAST. PROBABILITIES ARE STILL MODEST, DUE TO UNCERTAINTY BECAUSE OF WEAK CORRELATIONS BETWEEN TEMPERATURES OVER THE NORTHEAST AND CURRENTLY OBSERVED ATMOSPHERIC AND OCEANIC PATTERNS. [Editor's Note: That can happen when you have read the entire situation wrong as NOAA has.]

THROUGH THE FIRST TWO WEEKS OF MAY, MOST DYNAMICAL MODELS PREDICT ABOVE NORMAL HEIGHTS OVER THE NORTHERN TIER OF THE CONUS AND BELOW NORMAL HEIGHTS OVER THE SOUTHERN TIER. THAT PATTERN IS GENERALLY CONSISTENT WITH THE PATTERN INDICATED IN CORRELATIONS OF MID-LEVEL HEIGHTS AND THE NINO3.4 INDEX. THE UPPER-LEVEL PATTERN IN THE MODELS SUPPORTS ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR THE WESTERN CONUS AND NORTHEAST QUADRANT, WITH BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES OVER THE SOUTHERN GREAT PLAINS AND GULF COAST. CORRELATIONS OF AIR TEMPERATURE WITH THE NINO3.4 INDEX SUPPORT ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES OVER THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST AND BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES OVER THE SOUTHWEST AND SOUTHERN GREAT PLAINS. CORRELATIONS OF AIR TEMPERATURE WITH THE PDO SHOW LITTLE SIGNAL OVER THE CONUS. BALANCING THE CORRELATIONS OF AIR TEMPERATURE WITH ATMOSPHERIC AND OCEANIC PATTERNS, AGAINST THE DYNAMICAL MODEL OUTPUT, RESULTED IN THE EXPANSION OF THE AREA WHERE BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FAVORED TO COVER THE GULF COAST AND FLORIDA FROM THE SOUTHERN GREAT PLAINS. THE INTRODUCTION OF THE AREA WHERE ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FAVORED IS FROM SHORT-TERM AND MONTHLY DYNAMICAL MODEL GUIDANCE, WHERE LITTLE TO NO SIGNAL IS PRESENT IN THE CORRELATION MAPS OF EITHER PDO OR NINO3.4 VERSUS SURFACE AIR TEMPERATURE. A SLIGHT REDUCTION IN PROBABILITIES FOR ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES IS MADE TO THE CALIFORNIA COAST, WHERE THE CORRELATIONS WITH ENSO BEGIN TO WEAKEN. [Editor's note: consultation with colleagues in Japan about the California Nino might be in order]

AN ANTICIPATED WET START TO THE MONTH ACROSS THE PLAINS SUPPORTED EXPANDING THE AREA WHERE ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED. BEYOND THE EARLY PORTIONS OF THE MONTH, FORECASTS INDICATE AN ACTIVE SOUTHERN STREAM AND A GENERALLY WET PATTERN FOR MUCH OF THE CONUS AND SOUTHERN ALASKA. THE AREA WHERE ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED WAS EXPANDED ACROSS THE GREAT PLAINS AND SOUTHEAST. DYNAMICAL MODEL GUIDANCE AND CORRELATIONS WITH NINO3.4 AND PDO INDEX VALUES FAVOR ABOVE MEDIAN RAINS ACROSS MUCH OF THE ROCKIES, SO THAT FORECAST IS RETAINED FROM THE 0.5 MONTH LEAD OUTLOOK.

A DRY START TO MAY, WHEN AVERAGE MONTHLY PRECIPITATION AMOUNTS ACROSS THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST ARE STILL GREATER THAN 5 INCHES, RESULTS IN SLIGHTLY ENHANCED ODDS FOR BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION THERE, WHICH IS A CHANGE FROM THE 0.5 MONTH LEAD OUTLOOK. CORRELATIONS OF PRECIPITATION RATE AND THE NINO3.4 INDEX ARE WEAKLY NEGATIVE OVER THAT AREA, ALTHOUGH MOST OF THE COUNTRY SHOWS A POSITIVE CORRELATION WITH NINO3.4 INDEX VALUES, WHICH WOULD BE A WET SIGNAL GIVEN THE WARM SST VALUES."

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.

current highs and lows

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.

Current Jet Stream

And sometimes the forecast is revealing. Below is the forecast out five days.

Jet Stream Five Days Out

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.

Day 3 highs and lows

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.

Day 6 Weather Forecast

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

May 2015 Early Temperature Outlook Issued April 16, 2016

And here is the updated Temperature Outlook for May

Updated May 2015 Temperature Probabilities Issued April 30,. 2015

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.

8-14 Day Temperature Outlook

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.

May 2015 Early Precipitation Outlook Issued April 16, 2015

And here is the updated Precipitation probabilities for May issued on April 30, 2015.

May Final Precipitation Probabilities 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.Precipitation Forecast 814

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.

"6-10 DAY OUTLOOK FOR MAY 10 - 14 2015

THE AVAILABLE MODELS EXHIBIT GOOD AGREEMENT ON THE 500-HPA HEIGHT FIELD OVER NORTH AMERICA. MOST MODELS DEPICT A TROUGH-RIDGE-TROUGH PATTERN OVER THE EASTERN PACIFIC AND ALASKA, WITH TROUGHING THEN EXTENDING ACROSS THE SOUTHWEST QUADRANT OF THE CONUS. ABOVE NORMAL HEIGHTS ARE FORECAST OVER THE EASTERN THIRD OF THE CONUS IN ALL MODELS, EXCEPT THE 6Z DETERMINISTIC GFS, WHICH MOVES THE ABOVE NORMAL HEIGHTS OVER THE ATLANTIC. 

THE AVAILABLE MODELS DIFFER SLIGHTLY IN THE POSITION OF THE RIDGE OVER WESTERN NORTH AMERICA, WITH THE EUROPEAN ENSEMBLE MEAN DEPICTING LOWER HEIGHTS OVER BRITISH COLUMBIA. THE GFS-BASED AND CANADIAN MODELING SYSTEM SOLUTIONS DEPICT RIDGING THAT EXTENDS FROM CANADA ACROSS THE GREAT LAKES, WHILE THE DETERMINISTIC ECMWF SOLUTIONS BREAK THE AREA OF ABOVE NORMAL HEIGHTS OVER THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS. 

THE 0Z GFS ENSEMBLE MEAN IS THE LARGEST CONSTITUENT IN THE THE 500-HPA HEIGHT MANUAL BLEND, AS THAT MODEL HAD THE HIGHEST COMBINED ANALOG CORRELATION SCORE  AND ANOMALY CORRELATION SCORE. THE 0Z ECMWF ENSEMBLE MEAN HAS THE HIGHEST COMBINED ANALOG AND ANOMALY CORRELATIONS SCORES FROM NON-GFS MODELS, SO IT IS INCLUDED AS WELL. TELECONNECTIONS ON THE POSITIVE HEIGHT CENTER OVER NORTHERN CANADA WOULD FAVOR NEAR TO SLIGHTLY BELOW NORMAL HEIGHTS OVER THE CENTRAL PORTIONS OF THE CONUS, WHICH ALIGNS WITH THE ENSEMBLE MEAN SOLUTIONS, SO NO  DETERMINISTIC SOLUTIONS ARE INCLUDED.

THE RESULTANT 500-HPA PATTERN CONTAINS ABOVE NORMAL HEIGHTS, WHICH FAVORS ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES, OVER ALASKA. MID-LEVEL TROUGHING AND STRONG SURFACE  RIDGING [Editor's Note: The RRR] NEAR THE WEST COAST FAVORS BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES ALONG THE IMMEDIATE WEST COAST. THE POTENTIAL FOR SOME LATE SEASON COOLER AIR TO MOVE SOUTHWARD FROM CANADA FAVORS BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES OVER THE NORTH CENTRAL CONUS WHILE ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FAVORS BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES OVER THE SOUTHERN GREAT PLAINS AND PORTIONS OF SOUTHWEST. SURFACE AND UPPER-LEVEL RIDGING FAVOR ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR THE EASTERN THIRD OF THE CONUS. ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR MUCH OF THE CONUS DUE TO TROUGHING NEAR THE WEST COAST AND A MEAN SOUTHEASTERLY LOW-LEVEL FLOW INTO THE GREAT PLAINS.  SOME UNCERTAINTY ABOUT TOTAL PRECIPITATION AMOUNTS EXISTS FOR THE MID-WEST, AS ANY AIR MASS THAT MOVES FROM CANADA WOULD LIKELY BRING DRIER AIR.

FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD: ABOVE AVERAGE, 4 OUT OF 5, DUE TO GOOD AGREEMENT AMONG THE MODEL SOLUTIONS, TEMPERED BY DISAGREEMENT ON THE PREDICTED PRECIPITATION PATTERN.

8-14 DAY OUTLOOK FOR MAY 12 - 18 2015 

THE MODELS CONTINUE TO EXHIBIT GOOD AGREEMENT ON THE 500-HPA HEIGHT PATTERN OVER NORTH AMERICA DURING THE 8-14 DAY PERIOD.  MOST MODEL SOLUTIONS DEPICT ABOVE NORMAL HEIGHTS STRETCHING FROM ALASKA, ACROSS CANADA TO THE NORTHEAST, WITH TROUGHING AND BELOW NORMAL HEIGHTS WEST OF THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE.   

THE SOLUTIONS FROM THE ECMWF ARE SLIGHTLY MORE AMPLIFIED WITH THE TROUGH NEAR THE WEST COAST, RESULTING IN A MORE WESTWARD DISPLACEMENT OF THE AREA OF ABOVE NORMAL HEIGHTS OVER THE NORTHEAST. Editor's Note: I am not reading the maps the same way. [I see the drier than climatology in the Midwest but it does not appear to me to be due to displacement of High Pressure from the Northeast but another cold intrusion from Canada but I do not have the necessary information to really study this. It is two weeks out so it will be interesting to watch.] THE GFS-BASED SOLUTIONS ARE THE MOST PROGRESSIVE, WITH THE CANADIAN ENSEMBLE MEANS LEANING TOWARD THE ECWMF SOLUTIONS. TELECONNECTIONS ON THE ANOMALOUS CIRCULATION CENTERS IN THE MODEL FIELDS DO NOT ALIGN WELL WITH THE MODEL OUTPUTS, INTRODUCING UNCERTAINTY INTO THE OUTLOOK. THE 500-HPA HEIGHT MANUAL BLEND IS A 50/50 SPLIT BETWEEN GFS AND ECWMF/CANADIAN, DUE IN PART TO THE UNCERTAINTY REGARDING THE ALIGNMENT WITH HISTORICAL OBSERVATIONS. DISAGREEMENT AMONG THE TOOLS IS ELEVATED, WITH ANALOG  FORECASTS FROM THE MANUAL BLEND NOT ALIGNING WELL WITH OTHER SPECIFICATION TOOLS OR CALIBRATED DYNAMICAL MODEL OUTPUTS.  

THE PREDICTED 500-HPA PATTERN FAVORS BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES FROM CALIFORNIA TO TEXAS, WITH ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES FROM THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST TO THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS. MOST TOOLS FAVOR ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER TO THE EAST COAST, ALTHOUGH THERE IS INCREASED UNCERTAINTY ABOUT THE IMPACT OF A LATE SEASON COLD FRONT ACROSS THE GREAT LAKES AND NORTHEAST. 

TROUGHING FROM THE WEST COAST TO THE SOUTHERN GREAT PLAINS IMPLIES AN ACTIVE SOUTHERN STORM TRACK, WHICH FAVORS ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR MUCH OF THE ROCKIES, HIGH PLAINS, AND SOUTHERN GREAT PLAINS.  MEAN SURFACE HIGH PRESSURE FAVORS BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR THE GREAT LAKES AND OHIO VALLEY, WHILE THE POSSIBILITY OF A STALLED FRONT ELEVATES ODDS FOR ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ACROSS THE SOUTHEAST.

FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 8-14 DAY PERIOD IS: AVERAGE, 3 OUT OF 5, [Editors's Notes: Perhaps it is average for this time of year but many uncertainties were identified and some contradictory movements of features were either discussed or shown in the maps so I have less that 3 out of 5 confidence.] DUE TO GOOD AGREEMENT AMONG THE MODELS BUT DISAGREEMENT AMONG THE TOOLS AND POOR ALIGNMENT WITH TELECONNECTIONS."

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.

Analog

Centered

Day

ENSO

Phase

PDO AMO Other Comments
1955 May 3 La Nina - +  
1959 May 4 El Nino Neutral + Tail end of Minor Modoki Type II
1959 May 5 El Nino Neutral + Tail end of Minor Modoki Type II
1962 May 4 Neutral - Neutral  
1982 May 5 El Nino Neutral - Later but strong Traditional El Nino
1992 May 8 El Nino + - Modoki Type II
2009 April 22 La Nina - Neutral Followed by an El Nino Modoki Type II

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.

 

 McCabe Maps modified to include the subtitles

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.

May 4, 2015 Current SST Departures.

NOAA has a graphic that shows the change over the last four weeks.

May 4, Change in SST Departures.

This is extremely interesting as it shows:

  1. The Warm Event has strengthened somewhat.
  2. The PDO has become less positive
  3. The AMO has become more positive
  4. Look at the increase in SST off of Asia
  5. Some progress towards the formation of a positive IOD

"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.

Current SST and wind anomalies

So as of Monday May 4 in the afternoon working from the May 3 TAO/TRITON report, this is what I calculated.

Calculation of ONI from TAO/TRITON Graphic
Anomaly Segment Midpoint Length on Equator in number of five degrees of latitude (ticks) Midpoint X Length (tempxticks)
-0.5C to 0C -0.25 0 0
0C to +0.5C +0.25 0 0
+0.5C to 1.0C +0.75 1 0.75
1.0C to 1.5C +1.25 3 3.75
1.5C to 2.0C +1.75 1 1.75
1.75 Total 5 Ticks (or 5 centimeters) 6.25
    Estimated ONI the NINO 3.4 Anomaly 6.25/5 = 1.25 C

 

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.

May 4, NINO SST Departures

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.

28 Apr 2015                       -15.4       -2.78      -4.60

29 Apr 2015                       -18.9       -3.13      -4.81

30 Apr 2015                        -7.3       -3.08      -4.89

 1 May 2015                        -0.5      -3.28      -4.85

 2 May 2015                       +3.6      -3.58       4.76

 3 May 2015                      

 4 May 2015                       

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.

May 4, 2015 Low Level Wind Anomalies

The Kelvin Wave graphic to me is the key to the situation at this point. It is really the Upper Ocean Heat Anomaly.

May 4, 2015 Kelvin Waves

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. 

May 4, 2015 Kelvin Wave History 

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:

  • A more complete set of NOAA and other agency graphics (including international agencies) that auto update. So this includes both short term- and seasonal "updates". Most of the graphics will ALWAYS be up to date even if my commentary on the graphics is not. I update my commentary when it seems necessary and certainly every Monday, but some of these graphics auto update every six hours.
  • Economic and other Impacts of major weather events. Not sure there is any other place to obtain this information consistently other than very specialized subscription services.
  • Information on Climate Cycles both those which are fairly short term i.e. less than a decade in duration and multi-decadal cycles.
  • Economic and other Impacts of those Climate Cycles which are referred to by the IPCC as Internal Variability as opposed to secular Climate Change which is always in the same direction. Again I am not sure if there is another source for this information where it is pulled together in one place as I have.

Click Here for Page III which deals with Global Warming.

  • Information on Anthropogenic Global Warming science i.e. the secular change in our climate that overlays both short-term weather and historical climate cycles as well as black swan events like volcanic eruptions. I prefer to call this Global Warming as it is the warming that triggers the other changes.
  • Economic and other Impacts of Global Warming. The IPCC AR5 WG2 attempts to describe and quantify these and I have some excerpts from their report. Over time I will go beyond their report as it is very deficient.

Click here for a list of Sig Silber's Weather Posts

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