Ocean Heat Anomaly Spikes to New Extreme High of +1.16 C Above ‘Average’ on May 10, 2014

Ocean heat anomaly May 10 2014

(Global ocean surface temperature anomaly vs the 1979-2000 average. Data source: Global Forecast System Model. Image source: University of Maine.)

On May 10 global ocean surface temperatures hit a new extreme high for 2014 of +1.16 C above the already hotter than normal 1979-2000 average. This extraordinary temperature departure was driven in part by a warming of Equatorial Pacific waters to a +.59 C anomaly, putting that region in the range of a weak El Nino.

Overall, global ocean temperatures show very high positive anomalies in all regions with the mid-to-high latitude Northern Hemisphere oceans showing an extraordinary departure in the range of +1.36 C. Heat of particularly high anomaly values remains concentrated in surface zones in the North Pacific south of Alaska and in the Barents Sea, which over the past few years has displayed excessive warmth after a near permanent loss of seasonal sea ice cover. Hot spots in this zone continue to show +3 to +4 C above average temperature anomalies contributing to sea ice recession and weakness in the region east of Svalbard and on to the Laptev Sea.

An emerging Kelvin Wave off the West Coast of Ecuador has also created a high temperature anomaly hot spot in the range of +2.5 to +3.5 near the Nino 1 and 2 region. This expanding warm pool has been reinforced by broad area synoptic westerly winds counter to typical easterly trades which is pushing warm water toward the coasts of South and Central America.

Overall Equatorial Pacific Ocean temperatures in central and eastern zones have ranged between +.4 and +.7 C above average depending on region. Though these temperatures are in the range of El Nino, they will have to maintain or increase for a period of two months for an official state of El Nino to be declared.

It is worth noting that since the base-line for the GFS summary given above is in the 1979-2000 range, total departures from 1880 values are likely in the range of .3 to .4 C hotter, putting the actual global anomaly for the date at around +1.5 C.

In context, the swing toward a weak though still strengthening El Nino pattern is already starting to push global sea surface temperatures into or near the record range. We will continue to provide updates as the situation progresses.

Links:

Global Forecast System Model

University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer

 

Leave a comment

50 Comments

  1. Bassman

     /  May 10, 2014

    Thanks for answering my question as a blog post. It seems the positive PDO values will do to 2014 what they did to 2005 in terms of record anomalies even if the El Niño is minor.

    Reply
    • I’ve been pressed for time today. But I wanted to thank you for the excellent question which apparently coincided with a new record high ocean temp anomaly for 2014.

      The heat switch is at least temporarily on for the ocean surface atmosphere. I’d call the long term switch to positive PDO up in the air at this point. 2005 may well be a good corollary for the next couple of months.

      Reply
      • 2005? Well that’s not good; it means we get another Katrina and Rita, only this time on the USA mid-Atlantic coast and in New England where the SST anamolies are warmer. It’s also where my relatives live!

        Reply
  2. Kevin Jones

     /  May 10, 2014

    What, please anyone, am I missing understanding of the difference between U Maine extraordinary sea surface temps and not so (yet) global air temps?

    Reply
    • Bassman

       /  May 10, 2014

      Kevin, there is a delay (depending on the surface temp method) between 2-5 months from El Niño like conditions to global anomalies, check out table 1 from this great paper below for specifics. I can’t tell you necessarily why there is such a delay.

      http://m.iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/6/4/044022/pdf/1748-9326_6_4_044022.pdf

      Reply
      • The atmosphere has a lot of inertia. Takes a long time for heat transfer to complete.

        Reply
      • I am not sure it is so much the thermal inertia of the atmosphere that is responsible for the lag between global temperature and the Multivariate ENSO Index as the spreading of the pool of warm water that has risen to the surface. So long as it is relatively localized in the Eastern Tropical Pacific there is less surface area for heat exchange with the atmosphere. Or at least that is my amateur take on the phenomena. As further support, I would also point out that:Foster, Grant, and Stefan Rahmstorf. (2011) linked to by Bassman gives a lag time of only a month for Total Solar Irradiance (TSI). If thermal inertia were that great a factor, then I would expect a greater lag time for TSI, particularly since it has a considerably weaker effect on global temperature.

        Reply
        • First, positive ocean temp anomalies in the Eastern Pacific have been clearly linked to atmospheric temperature increase. Second, the response time is certainly not instantaneous as atmospheric inertia results in global lag. Clearly regional atmospheric air temps respond first, as they are now.

    • Air temps in the GFS summary have ranged between +.6 C and +1.1 C above 1880s values over the past month. A strong high departure but not as strong as the ocean surface departure. During times of ocean to atmosphere heat release, we’d expect this as high ocean temp anomalies gradually push atmospheric values higher.

      Today’s atmospheric anomaly value of +.63 C is a strong reading about + .98 C above 1880 (when you factor in the difference between that time and the 1979 to 2000 model period).

      Reply
  3. james cole

     /  May 10, 2014

    I ran across a reality TV show that followed a group of American mineral prospectors and potential gold and gem miners doing initial prospecting in Greenland. The striking thing is that will consulting native Greenland peoples about potential mining sites, they keep running into the problem that the natives themselves have little of no information or experience of areas these miners want to prospect. The answer to this is that the locals do not know because much of these lands are newly ice free. As they say up there, new lands appear very day and large land areas every year. Once Ice locked areas are see mans footprints for the first time, and much of it is totally new and unknown by the locals. I also understand that a few years back Greenland cities began to experience a new thing “Farmers Markets”. Local grown vegetables and root crops being sold by local garden growers. One older lady who sells her produce said she never thought she would live to see it. but she now gardens in summer and sells her surplus. Greenland is attracting much more new attention from the corporate world as well, not just the small time gem and gold prospectors. The main post above seems to point to the Greenland land rush as just getting underway!

    Reply
    • These people will be taken advantage of (we are banking on it here in civilizedland). They see a GDP bump and not much beyond that as an offset to the destruction of their traditional lifestyle. I feel bad for them.

      Reply
    • The bride and groom were both getting cold feet, but it appears the fossil fuel industry and Greenland will be going through with the marriage.

      Please see:

      Greenland Targets $4 Billion in Offshore Funds to Double GDP, Peter Levring and Omar R. Valdimarsson, 2014-01-15

      Reply
      • And the mad march continues.

        Reply
      • james cole

         /  May 11, 2014

        Thanks for that fine link! This is the type of news I have been searching for and expecting to find, and now we have it. Russia is also looking for partners and investors to push ahead with off shore Arctic Sea drilling. From my Navy experience up there, where the USN and Soviet Navies operated submarines, I recall that much of the Arctic sea is shallow enough to be very off shore drilling friendly. I expect a black gold rush up there, and one more nail in the coffin.

        Reply
  4. Dave Person

     /  May 11, 2014

    Hi Robert,
    Is it not true that heat is not really released from the ocean, rather a warmer ocean simply is a weaker sink for absorbing the atmospheric heat imbalance caused by GHGs? Thus it is not really correct to say oceans are releasing stored heat, rather the warmer waters are absorbing less heat from the atmosphere.

    Thanks,
    dave

    Reply
    • orSomethingLikeThat

       /  May 11, 2014

      Dave, The ocean-atmosphere system is not quite so simple, the majority of sunlight striking the planet is absorbed by the ocean (it being fairly dark, and covering a large surface area). The atmosphere, while it does tend to contribute heat during the day also absorbs heat from the ocean at night (a warmer atmosphere in the morning will heat up to a higher temperature during the day). The ocean also contributes ‘latent heat’ to the atmosphere through evaporation.

      Reply
  5. Overall, this assessment is correct, as the ocean is a huge heat sink. That said, the calculus occasionally swings to positive at the surface during periods of anomalous warmth, as appears to be happening now. As with everything natural, ocean heat absorption is uneven.

    Reply
  6. Why are forecasters being so conservative with regard to the upcoming El Niño? Here would seem to be the answer:

    Most El Niño researchers say forecasters are being too conservative. “One thing I hear over and over again is ‘we do not want to create a panic’,” says Timmermann. There is a reason: forecasting a big El Niño would cause a spike in food prices. “But it may be better to have this reaction at an early stage, when farmers can still adapt, rather than later.”

    New Scientist: World is unprepared for major El Niño later this year. Michael Slezak, 2014-05-07

    This is in line with the reaction earlier this year of the India’s government to western meteorologists predicting an El Niño. Their weather office took a decidedly conspiratorial note:

    Weather scientists from Australia to the US are seeing ominous signs of a ‘monster El Niño’ that heightens the risk of a drought in South Asia this year, but India’s weather office is snarling at these forecasters and accusing them of conspiring to rattle the country’s commodities and stock markets.

    India Times – Economic Times: West spreading El Niño rumours: India Meteorological Department, Madhvi Sally, 2014-03-24

    Reply
    • I guess flood insurance prices are also affected by the chance of an El Nino. No doubt the insurance companies would rather have less conservative estimates though.

      Reply
  7. Perhaps I can give eye witness reports from ground-zero here in southern California this winter.

    I’ve put up another post on my attempt at a blog, critique is definitely welcome. And if someone to try the comment thing for me, it would be appreciated (not sure if you need to create an account).

    http://technicow.com/blog/index.php

    Reply
  8. Peter Sinclair (greenman3610) has a good interview with Kevin Trenberth on the Coming El Nino

    DaveW

    Reply
  9. And NOAA has just started an ENSO blog

    DaveW

    Reply
  10. Colorado Bob

     /  May 12, 2014

    Among the worst-hit were Hong Kong Island, Tai O on Lantau Island, Lamma, Cheung Chau and the northeast New Territories, which saw 300-400mm of rainfall in 24 hours ending at 8am today, according to the Hong Kong Observatory

    Link

    Reply
    • Every time we see ocean temps spike, somebody ends up getting pounded by a deluge. In this case, Hong Kong with 1+ foot of rain in 24 hours. As ever, thanks for the virtuoso eye, Bob.

      Reply
  11. Colorado Bob

     /  May 12, 2014

    NWS estimates 2-day rain totals of 26 inches in Baldwin Co., some data lost in power outage
    http://www.al.com/news/beaches/index.ssf/2014/04/nws_estimates_2-day_rain_total.html

    Reply
  12. Colorado Bob

     /  May 12, 2014

    Ocean winds keep Antarctica cold, Australia dry

    “The Southern Ocean winds are now stronger than at any other time in the past 1,000 years,” Abram said.
    “The strengthening of these winds has been particularly prominent over the past 70 years, and by combining our observations with climate models we can clearly link this to rising greenhouse gas levels.”

    http://phys.org/news/2014-05-ocean-antarctica-cold-australia.html#jCp

    Reply
  13. Colorado Bob

     /  May 12, 2014

    Ice-loss moves the Earth 250 miles down

    The study, led by Newcastle University, UK, and published this week in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, explains for the first time why the upward motion of the Earth’s crust in the Northern Antarctic Peninsula is currently taking place so quickly.
    Previous studies have shown the earth is ‘rebounding’ due to the overlying ice sheet shrinking in response to climate change. This movement of the land was understood to be due to an instantaneous, elastic response followed by a very slow uplift over thousands of years.
    But GPS data collected by the international research team, involving experts from Newcastle University, UK; Durham University; DTU, Denmark; University of Tasmania, Australia; Hamilton College, New York; the University of Colorado and the University of Toulouse, France, has revealed that the land in this region is actually rising at a phenomenal rate of 15mm a year – much greater than can be accounted for by the present-day elastic response alone.

    Read more at: Link

    Reply
  14. Colorado Bob

     /  May 12, 2014

    Collapse of Parts of West Antarctica Ice Sheet Has Begun, Scientists Say

    The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the pace of the disintegration, two groups of scientists reported Monday.

    The finding, which had been feared by some scientists for decades, means that a rise in global sea level of at least 10 feet may now be inevitable. The rise may continue to be relatively slow for at least the next century or so, the scientists said, but sometime after that it will probably speed up so sharply as to become a crisis.

    Link

    Reply
  15. Aaron Lewis

     /  May 12, 2014

    We should say the obvious, and not dance around it like like a tribe of reticent academics.

    The SST noted above is at the start of a good ENSO, (which should raise SST by 0.4C) so we can reasonably expect SST of +1.9 degrees over 1880 during this El Nino.

    That means by 2016 we will be within spitting distance of the 2C global agreed limit, Reductions in snow and ice albedo as a result of 2014 El Nino are like to provide the additional feedback forcing to cross the 2C limit shortly thereafter. All-in-all, we can plan on passing the 2C global agreed limit prior to 2020.

    We need a Plan B.

    Reply
  16. Colorado Bob

     /  May 12, 2014

    Back to China –

    The downpours will shift south on Thursday into Friday targeting Guangzhou and Hong Kong.
    From Friday night through the following Monday, the second storm will spread additional rounds of heavy rainfall across the entire region. Additional rainfall of 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) will be widespread during this time causing even more flooding problems.
    Total rainfall of 75-150 mm (3-6 inches) will be common across southeast China through next Monday with local amounts over 300 mm (12 inches).

    http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/hong-kong-to-shanghai-brace-fo/26836656

    Reply
    • Big trouble here, Bob. This is almost certainly an El Nino enhanced pattern. God, I have to finish the sea ice blog so I can get hopping. A boatload happening this week!

      Reply
  17. Colorado Bob

     /  May 12, 2014

    3D survey reveals massive seabed gas hydrate and methane system

    A joint New Zealand-German research team has discovered a huge network of frozen methane and methane gas in sediments and in the ocean near New Zealand’s east coast. The 16-strong team is using state-of-the-art 3D and 2D seismic and echosounder technology to map both forms of methane within the ocean and beneath the seafloor.

    The area off the North Island’s east coast is known to have very large active landslides, up to 15km long and 100m thick, and the team set out to discover what is causing them to move.

    What they discovered was direct evidence of widespread gas in the sediment and ocean, and indications of large areas of methane hydrate, ice-like frozen methane, below the seafloor.

    The team has identified 99 gas flares in a 50 km2 area, venting from the seabed in columns up to 250 m high. This is believed to be the densest concentration of seafloor gas vents known in New Zealand. 3D seismic data show that landslides and faults allow the gas built up in the sediment to be released into the ocean.

    This discovery reveals a hydrate and gas field very different from others known in New Zealand.

    http://www.voxy.co.nz/national/3d-survey-reveals-massive-seabed-gas-hydrate-and-methane-system/5/189952

    Reply
  18. Colorado Bob

     /  May 12, 2014

    The JPL press release about West Antarctica –

    The study presents multiple lines of evidence, incorporating 40 years of observations that indicate the glaciers in the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica “have passed the point of no return,” according to glaciologist and lead author Eric Rignot, of UC Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The new study has been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

    Link

    Reply
  1. Deep Ocean Warming is Coming Back to Haunt Us: Record Warmth for 2014 Likely As Equatorial Heat Rises | robertscribbler

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: