Winds Interrupted — El Nino is Tearing a Hole Through the Trades

Trade winds. The east-to-west flow of airs across more than ten thousand miles of Pacific waters. Starting just off the coast of Ecuador, these winds typically blow in the range of 15 to 25 miles-per-hour uninterrupted across the vast Pacific before terminating in the South China Sea. The winds are a normal condition in the Equatorial Pacific. So constant that sailors relied on them as a kind of ocean conveyor during the days when sailing ships still ruled the waves. Year in, year out, the trade winds blow. Usually only subject to minor insults and brief interruptions from the massive and powerful weather phenomena that is El Nino.

But, starting yesterday, something rather odd began to happen. A six thousand mile stretch of the trades simply went dead.

image

(Pacific Ocean wind pattern as of 1 PM EST, June 4. The brighter the green, the higher the intensity, the deeper the blue, the weaker the winds. Direction of flow indicated by tapering lines. Note the large dead zone in the Pacific equatorial wind belt. Image source: Earth Nullschool. Data source: NOAA, GFS, MMAB, EMC, NCEP, OSCAR, UCAR.)

Draw a line due south of Kauai to the equator and there you will find a cyclone hovering just to its north.

Cyclones here usually have their wind fields dilated by the ongoing pressure of the east-to-west trade winds. As such, typical circular wind flow around a normal cyclone near the Pacific equator is distorted, turning instead into a kind of wind hump where the trades slow at the base and speed up at the top. West winds generally never completely wrap around these small storms.

But our cyclone is a bit unusual. For not only is it featuring a west wind flow of about 10 mph over about a 500 mile stretch of water, it also pushes ahead of it a trade wind killing frontal boundary. A sinking and rolling in the atmosphere that is acting like a kind of wall to the trades — keeping them from further progress.

The storm is the tip of a spear aimed at the heart of the trades and around it they bisect, shifting above the 10 degree North Latitude line in the north and below the 10 degree South Latitude line in the south. This wide gap features only weak and confused airflows. North-to-south they meander with the occasional weak east wind and numerous anomalous west winds filling in this rift. A broad, nearly 1,000 mile wide hole, that continues on west past the Solomons, past New Guinea, and on all the way to the Philippines.

To the East, a second 2,000 mile stretch of west winds running from south of California and on to the South American coast crowds out the trades. Together with the great wind gap to the west, these two patterns combine to cut off the trades from much of the Equator. What is left is only about 3,000 miles of uninterrupted flow. A mere 30% of the pattern’s typical range.

The El Nino Feedback

So why all the drama? What’s so important about trade winds anyway? Well, from the point of view of the developing monster weather event that is El Nino — almost everything.

For El Nino to grow and progress, in essence, for the massive pile of warm water that has accumulated in the Western Pacific to keep flowing east, the trade winds have to fail. They do this either through strong west wind events that open the gates to warm surface water flow eastward. Or they do it through a kind of trade wind collapse.

TS_anom_satellite2 jun 4

(Equatorial Pacific Ocean temperatures warmed to near +0.70 this week as global sea surface temperatures remained in an extraordinarily hot range near +1 C above the already hotter than normal 1979 to 2000 average. A rising El Nino combined with global warming pushed April of 2014 to its hottest temperatures on record and likely had the same effect on May. Any further intensification of El Nino is likely to push this dire trend into even more extreme territory. Image source: University of Maine. Data Source: GFS.)

It is this kind of event that climate experts call an El Nino feedback — an atmospheric condition that sets in place the features that allow Pacific Ocean surface warming to intensify along a strengthening El Nino path. As of yesterday, and continuing on through today, that feedback is readily visible in what appears to be a mass trade wind die-off. A great hole punched through the heart of equatorial air flow.

Such a condition, according to past weather observations, should give what is already a strengthening El Nino a boost. So it appears the potential for a monster El Nino today again ramped higher.

UPDATE: The most recent NOAA/CPC official forecast calls for  a 70% chance of El Niño by this summer with the overall intensity forecast to be moderate. However, CPC El Niño forecast discussion shows a rough historic potential of 60% for a strong El Niño and a 20% chance for a very strong event due to very rapid Pacific Equatorial warming during May.

Links:

University of Maine

GFS

Earth Nullschool

NOAA

GFS

MMAB

EMC

NCEP

OSCAR

UCAR

 

 

 

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129 Comments

  1. Spike

     /  June 4, 2014

    Robert – are the ocean heat anomalies much higher than the 1998 El Niño?

    Reply
  2. There had been indications that we might be in for a later, weaker El Nino:

    2014 Niño unlikely to be a strong one?

    May 2014 Climate Briefing Highlights, with Prof. Tony Barnston

    todaysguestis, May 26, 2014 comment to “Global Sea Surface Temperatures Increase to Extraordinary +1.25 C Anomaly as El Nino Tightens Grip on Pacific”

    It is after all a stochastic process, one in which the branch we take may easily be determined by the amplification a fluctuation that happens at just the right time. But judging from what you are writing it appears we are back on track for the bigger event.

    Reply
  3. Is that a cyclone forming off the coast of Alaska?

    Reply
    • It’s a low that’s been stuck there for about a week — impeded by the blocking high off the US and Canadian west coasts.

      Reply
      • I’m in Portland, OR. I’ve been watching the low sit there. It’s a leaden mass of air that covers a lot of ocean — a giant paper weight doing picket duty.
        Thanks, Robert, et al for your keen insights.

        Reply
        • Best to you, DT. Hope all is well in Oregon.The low has nowhere to go. It’s jammed between the blocking high over the north Pacific, a high over the Bering and a high over the Beaufort. If this keeps up it might back up into Siberia.

          The patterns that are shuffling into place this summer are just extraordinary. GFS shows 75-80 degree temps for June 10 on the shores of the Laptev Sea. Central Yakutia gets close to the 90s. That region doesn’t know whether to flood or heat-wave. It’s an intense weather strobe.

      • Yeah, and that high seems sluggish for a high.
        Is warm water anchoring it, or are surface winds and the jet stream to weak to budge it?
        … or some equilibrium of inertia vs force?
        Thanks.

        Reply
        • Weak Jet breeds strong highs. The warm water is there due to the fact that the high is there. The warm water helps keep the high there. It’s a set of feedback loops that will take a big nudge to break.

    • Somewhat related — Laptev Sea ice recession looks very rapid in the visual shot today.

      Reply
  4. Colorado Bob

     /  June 4, 2014

    Speaking of the real world –

    See What Grapefruit-Sized Hail Did to These Cars

    Link

    The number one insurance payout in the United States is hail damage. As the water machine gets more muscles , we will see more extreme hail events. These images were shot at Blair, Nebraska, about 20 minutes north of Omaha. The tops on this storm, were at the very top of the troposphere , 60,000 feet.

    One does not get Grapefruit-Sized Hail without going to the top of the troposphere , 60,000 feet.

    In Mexico at the same time Boris was raining like Noah was under it . From Physics Dot Org –

    The AIRS image showed very cold cloud top temperatures in the depression indicating that the thunderstorms had strong uplift that pushed cloud tops near the top of the troposphere. Temperatures drop to just under 220 degrees kelvin (-63.6 F/-53.1C) at the top of the troposphere (and where the tropopause begins). Some of the depression’s storms had cloud tops that cold and that high.

    Read more at: Link

    The hypothesis said we would see more “extreme precipitation events”, that’s every thing from fog to hail.
    I followed the ” extreme precipitation events” in last El Nino in 2010 .

    When the cloud tops reach that high , just pray to God you’re not under them. And if this El Nino is what many of of us fear it is. There will be a lot fewer deniers on Dec. 31st of this year, because they will be living in the rubble of their houses , like we saw last month Southeast Europe, or last fall in Colorado , or last summer on the Amur River in Russia. Or last winter in Britain the wettest in 250 years. I have followed this for sometime , trust me if one of these storms is moving toward you , get ready “Hell is coming Breakfast”.

    Reply
    • 60,000 feet is a brutal height. I used to stand in awe of the occasional 50,000 foot monsters running across the Piedmont of VA. From my childhood summer camp on the James River, you could see them from miles and miles away. Ferocious dragons of storms they were. But nothing compared to the brutes we could see today.

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  June 4, 2014

        When I was boy in West Texas I saw all of the 50’s drought , but after that , I saw the daily spring “Dry Line Storm” march east from the New Mexico line. They were 35,000 to 45,000 feet high . And they were mean and made tornadoes every spring . They wiped my home town 44 years ago.

        They never happen here now.

        Tornado Alley is on the march as the drought moves North and East.

        I’m watched a worst that 50’s drought. We had sand dunes around our house back then.

        This much worse, we sucked up 60 years of water table since then .

        Reply
        • How many years has drought been ongoing in your area, Bob? Ever since I started faithful monitoring there seems to have been drought conditions there.

          BTW, I’m getting temps in the low 90s in the ghg spawning ground of Yakutia in the GFS model on June 11. Still a bit far out to lock in. But, damn.

        • Somewhat related…

          We have almost zero cloud cover over India right now. Not even pre-monsoonal type rains on the coast.

          So we have El Niño conditions in the Pacific, El Niño feedback in the trades, and an El Niño like disruption of the Indian monsoon that now appears to be ongoing.

          The El Niño deniers have quite a lot to chew on…

      • Mark from New England

         /  June 5, 2014

        Robert, you wrote: “BTW, I’m getting temps in the low 90s in the ghg spawning ground of Yakutia in the GFS model on June 11.”

        Where is Yakutia? Somewhere in Siberia? Thanks.

        Reply
        • Huge carbon deposits in the form of thawing tundra over the region. Looks like tundra thaw is about to get a swift kick in the pants.

    • Paul from NSW

       /  June 5, 2014

      I had a car caught in a rooftop carpark in Sydney a while ago. Copted an absolute canning. To repair it, they cut the roof off.

      Reply
  5. Colorado Bob

     /  June 4, 2014

    I posted a double link.

    Reply
  6. Reblogged this on abraveheart1.

    Reply
  7. Reblogged this on dtlange2.

    Reply
  8. Mark from New England

     /  June 4, 2014

    Great new article Robert. It took me a second look to detect the cyclone near the equator in the wind map you provided. A cyclone with low wind speeds because of the screwy trade winds.

    Here’s an interesting article, with map, showing how summer temperatures have increased or decreased in the US since 1970:

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/us-summer-temperatures-climate-change-17510

    Reply
    • Nice map there. Seems wherever I’ve lived, I’m in a rapid warming zone.

      And yes, the near-equator cyclones tend to be squashed and suppressed due to the trades among other things.

      Reply
    • james cole

       /  June 5, 2014

      What interests me in that map is my county in N.E. Minnesota on Lake Superior. Our summers show only a moderate warming according to the map. That fits with my experience of living here. Summers are a bit warmer and longer. BUT, the real warming of note has been the winters. Those have been warmer by a much larger degree. Also, Autumn comes much later now, used to be Sept. now it is Oct before the cool down and first frosts.
      Also, the real noticeable summer warming is that it does not cool down much at night, in the 1960-70’s for example, once the sun went down the temperatures plunged quickly and it was a very rare night that was not chilly. Like, get up at midnight and close the windows cold! Now, open windows in a summer heat wave do little at night. Those cool summer nights are gone. I am sure all this has to do with science facts about how the warming is manifesting itself.

      Reply
      • climatehawk1

         /  June 5, 2014

        Correct, warming at nighttime is greater relatively because that is when the earth normally cools off by radiating heat to space–only it does that less because there is more CO2 in the way.

        Reply
  9. Colorado Bob

     /  June 4, 2014

    I got banded at WUG once again . For 24 hours .

    I will poke my finger in everyone’s eye that needs it. I tolded them . blow your brains out .

    You are morons

    Reply
    • pintada

       /  June 4, 2014

      “I got banded at WUG once again . For 24 hours .”

      Lucky you. I changed my password over there to “32165464321werwert6546312we” or some such. I can’t remember. Hurray!!!!!

      I would love for one of those bastards to say to my face some of the stuff Rood and WUG lets them. Oh yeah.

      Reply
      • The deniers seem to thrive on ugliness. I sometimes wonder if they’re around to actually deny climate change or to just try to give as many people heart attacks as possible. There’s a special pen of the worst of the worst school yard bullies they pick these guys from.

        In any case, right wing extremism appears to be making the hard tilt toward terrorism. Looking at the vileness on the forums, it’s sadly not unexpected.

        Reply
      • pintada

         /  June 4, 2014

        And while we are on the subject.

        1. If Rood gave a flying f(&K about the planet he would do something about those SOBs. Instead, he coddles and supports them.

        2. Someone was offended when I mentioned that climatologists should learn how to write. If you need an example of one who can’t go to Roods blog.

        3. I compared Accuweather to WUG all this spring. Accuweather was better – more accurate – every day. Saved me a lot of sleep knowing when to get up to check the trees, and when I could relax.

        4. there is more, but …

        Reply
        • I wonder if they farm them for traffic? My thoughts on this is: not worth providing them another platform and better to have quality traffic than quantity traffic anyway.

          As for Accuweather… very sharp predictive analysis. Although I do like the fact that WUG covers climate change openly.

  10. Amazing imagery. Last month, the NOAA/NWS Climate Prediction Center (CPC), partnering with the International Research Institute (IRI), revised their probability estimate for El Niño upwards to 80%. They remain non-committal on how strong it will be, but an updated report is due out soon. See: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/05/el-nino-or-bust/

    Reply
  11. Griffin

     /  June 4, 2014

    Thank you again for a very thought provoking post Robert. Thank you for taking the time to do the research and connect the observations that you see. This is a great blog and your followers leave comments that serve to reinforce the thought process that inevitably follows the reading of one of your posts!

    Reply
  12. Phil

     /  June 4, 2014

    Very interesting blog. You seem to have been the first to pick up on this development. Have not seen it mentioned on the arctic sea ice blog or weather underground. On the weatherszone blog here in Australia, the usual candidates have begun to emerge once again to say that El Nino is dead and buried for this year.

    Very interested to see how this trend continues to develop. Is it the new emerged low pressure system that is primarily responsible or is it something further, such as a path dependent development whereby the upwelling of the earlier EKW has started to initiate a ‘positive’ atmospheric feedback from the perspective of El Nino development?

    Reply
    • Looks like a positive feedback generated by the preparatory warming at the ocean surface along the equator. I’d wait for the official word on this before making final assumptions. But it appears to me to be a very broad failure of the trade winds over the last 24 hours at least.

      El Nino is most certainly not dead.

      Reply
    • The NCEP map here is exactly what El Nino should look like. And that’s what it appears we have:

      http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/sst/ophi/

      Reply
  13. As of this week, activity from Alaska’s Pavlof Volcano may impact the atmosphere.
    http://www.avo.alaska.edu/activity/Pavlof.php
    http://www.adn.com/2014/06/03/3499631/scientists-monitor-active-alaska.html

    Reply
  14. bassman

     /  June 5, 2014

    Sorry I meant to post this at the bottom. Please delete the above copy.

    Quick update on ENSO: The MEI Index for April/May was just released (they always show it as a 2 month average).

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/enso/mei/table.html

    It is .932 for April/May. Last month it was .152 so quite a jump but not unexpected as El Nino slowly builds. 2012 did hit 1.111 for the June/July period but dropped after that. For those of you wondering, MEI is used to gauge El Nino and La Nina intensity mostly for research purposes. It has been mostly negative after May 2010 when the last El Nino ended. NOAA surface temp anomalies have a 2 month lag in response to MEI values which represent a way of measuring the greatest regularly occurring natural variation in surface temperatures.

    I went back and investigated Aug and Sept 2012 to see if the last MEI value had a noticeable affect on surface temps. These 2 months should have been influenced by the MEI value in June/July. They were. Aug and Sept averaged together were just .01 degrees Celsius short of 2005 and 2009 for 3rd warmest 2 month period for Aug and Sept.

    https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/time-series/global

    This suggests that summer temps will continue to be at or near record breaking levels as the El Nino develops. I expect 2014 to be the warmest year on record barring a sudden reversal in ENSO.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the excellent assessment, Bassman.

      Reply
    • Something else of note. According to the most recent analysis by Klaus Wolter at Earth System Research Laboratory, the “simple-minded” likelihood of an El Niño (based off of the top five best historical analogs) stands at 20%, a strong El Niño (based on a head count of historical analogs) now stands at 60%, and something on the same scale as 1997 is now back on the table at 20%.

      Please see:

      The updated (April-May) MEI has gone up 0.8 sigma in just one month, now at +0.93. This increase is the 2nd biggest on record for this time of year. In fact, its current ranking has gone up to 24 ranks to reach the 7th highest value for this time of year, vaulting straight into high moderate El Niño rankings from solid ENSO-neutral territory last month. The long anticipated breakthrough to El Niño conditions in 2014 is clearly under way, leading to the next question of how big it will get. Of the 10 nearest-ranked April-May values, five had clearly come up to this level over the previous three months. Among those five, four continued at El Niño levels through the rest of the year, while one (1993) dropped back to borderline neutral conditions by the end of the year. One (2002) ended up as a weak-to-moderate event, while the other three (1957, 1987, and 1997) are classified as strong El Niño events in the MEI sense. In other words, the simple-minded odds for El Niño remain at or above 80% through the remainder of 2014, and are consistent with previous discussions on this website. The odds for a strong El Niño are perhaps slightly higher than before, somewhere around 60%.

      Discussion, Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI), Klaus Wolter, ESRL, Updated 2014-06-04

      Reply
      • Thanks for the excellent analysis and links to expert discussion, Timothy.

        So it appears that the initial trends observations we’ve posted here are showing some validation in the official discussion.

        Was actually a bit surprised to see the MEI values break .9 when Bassman posted them. It’s rather early for such a high value. It takes some time digesting when compared to other observations (trades, upper ocean heat content, overall weather conditions etc). For my part, it had always seemed like a potential strong event since the extraordinary March sub-sea values.

        I would have napkined MEI at around .8. GFS SST values for the Equatorial Pacific seem a close to accurate proxy for official estimates. In any case, the NOAA Nino index value advancements through May were very strong.

        Now, early June trade wind suppression seems to indicate the gates continue to inch open for a potential significant event.

        Reply
      • Correction

        I had written:

        Something else of note. According to the most recent analysis by Klaus Wolter at Earth System Research Laboratory, the “simple-minded” likelihood of an El Niño (based off of the top five best historical analogs) stands at 20%, …

        Obviously that number should have been 80%. That is, El Nino at 80%, strong El Nino at 60%, super El Nino at 20%. But all of those numbers are, as the author puts it, the result of “simple-minded” calculations.

        Reply
        • Well, yes. The art of El Nino prediction is still a bit messy overall. But the trends keep pointing toward a potential strong event.

        • Moderate-to-strong is probably most likely at this point. The official forecast calls for a moderate event. A very high probability at this point.

      • Mark from New England

         /  June 5, 2014

        Tim wrote: “Obviously that number should have been 80%. That is, El Nino at 80%, strong El Nino at 60%, super El Nino at 20%.”

        In 200 words or less, can someone explain what the difference is between a ‘strong’ and a ‘super’ El Nino? I thought 1998 was supposed to have been ‘super’.

        Does a super El Nino result in significantly stronger weather events?

        Reply
        • 1998 = super El Nino
          1983 = strong El Nino

          Super El Nino equals more atmospheric heat forcing so it ends up resulting in more extreme weather.

  15. Phil

     /  June 5, 2014

    Robert, I am Just checking in to see if this pattern has continued?

    Also, I often see you use LANCE MODIS ‘snapshots’ of parts of the Arctic, for example. Can you give some information on what NASA product you use to get these snapshots. I have looked on the NASA LANCE MODIS web page but am not sure what product these snapshots fall under, and what procedures you would use to produce them?

    It would be interesting to be able to have a quick look at these snapshots to see how things are going with the Arctic melt.

    Reply
  16. Spike

     /  June 5, 2014

    interesting to see even mainstream politicians are getting hacked off with the denialist camp – quite strong and undiplomatic language quoted in todays Guardian in the UK. bang on the nail though.

    “I think the Australian government must be one of the most ignorant governments I’ve ever seen in the sense, right across the board, on immigration or about anything else, they’re totally unwilling to listen to science or logic,” he said.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/05/uk-floods-could-make-climate-change-action-more-likely-says-lord-deben

    Reply
    • Phil

       /  June 5, 2014

      Yep, he is right about the Australian Government. Many state governments of similar bent are around too in Australia – especially Queensland and Western Australia – there is not enough coal for them to dig up and ship out. They are aided and abetted by particularly the Murdock press empire and the fossil fuel lobby.

      Some recent polling indicates that concern here for climate change is once again on the rise but it will need severe weather to help continue this trend. If a severe El Nino with heatwaves, drought and bush fires was to eventuate, this would push public concern along further.

      The Commonwealth Government is on the nose here significantly because they broke alot of promises with their recent budget. Typical neoconservative ideology – slash and burn public sector and make the elderly and poor pay for it while pandering to and protecting the interests of big business – government for the 1%.

      I think as with all conservatives in UK, USA, Canada, those in Australia are driven by ideology which they think will trump the Laws of Physics. However, it seems that the earth is responding more quickly to event than even most scientists expect.

      Reply
      • How far back would you say the Murdoch influence has put Australia? The damage here has been enormous.

        Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  June 5, 2014

        Sounds like our (US) infamous chief denialist Senator Jim Inofe could move to Australia, learn how to speak Australian (Fosters is Beer) and mix right in with the right-wing party down under. Throughout the world this type of politician seems to be cast from the same mold – could they be – ‘Pod People’? It’s the invasion of the planet snatchers, snatching a livable planet out of our future.

        Reply
    • That’s pretty damning. Although it would have been nice if he could have used the words ‘climate change.’

      Reply
    • Phil

       /  June 5, 2014

      The Murdock empire has been very significant together with some fossil fuel magnets also diversifying into some TV, right wing think tanks and off course, right winfg shock jocks on radio.

      In Australia, Murdock’s press empire has monopoly positions in new print – for example, Brisbane has one major paper that is owned by Murdock. As in most other places, ‘right’ wind media interests seem to outweigh ‘left’ wing media interests by a large margin. Of course, all these outlets reinforce a common ideology which governs their response the the climate change issue.

      Reply
      • The internal disruption Murdoch’s far ranging activities cause is quite intense for many western countries. I’m surprised such an oppressive monopoly force hasn’t been broken up. It’s exactly the kind of monopoly power that looks very bad historically.

        Reply
  17. Tom

     /  June 5, 2014

    People will deny anything is wrong until something catastrophic happens to them, then it’ll be “the end of the world!” The masses of humanity are enjoying the lazy, distracting and easy life that fossil fuel provides (and don’t SEE any problems with CO2, methane or anything else – it’s all “natural” and Mother Nature, or God, is in control of everything so no need to worry). This is why nothing has been or will be done in time to ease us into any kind of sustainable, no-growth or slow-growth scenarios where people can get by for a while, a soft collapse, if you will. It’s already too late.

    Another great up-date Robert – thanks. Last night Guy McPherson “debated” some shill for the fossil fuel industry. McPherson, the picture of calm, presented cited, peer-reviewed scientific evidence of the condition of things (in answer to the question “Is it time to worry?” regarding climate change), where the other speaker claimed that CO2 is necessary for life on Earth, and the more of it the greener our world will be. Ugh. They basically presented two completely different pictures – we’re in deep shit vs don’ worry be happy. It was hard to gauge which speaker influenced the most people in the Wyoming audience and the debate ended with a Q & A that only underlined this.

    Those who want to believe we’re just in a slight economic recession that will soon be over amid some weird, but not unusual, weather will be bamboozled by the lies and distortion of the pro fossil-fuel fool will take his “evidence” as sound and continue living as before.

    Those who see what’s really happening will sooner or later reach the same conclusion as McPherson – enjoy your days, for they are indeed numbered (and it’s all going to end by around 2030, give or take a decade, from loss of habitat for humanity and the other species of plants, fish, animals and birds that we rely on, not to mention the ever-increasing levels of methane, hydrogen sulfide, and radiation we’ll all be struggling to live through).

    Reply
    • Phil

       /  June 5, 2014

      Probably, when things go haywire, everyone will face the double whamy – out of control weather/climate and bursting of the carbon bubble. Both climatic and economic depression operating at the same time.

      Reply
      • Related — did anyone notice that Marcellus shale reserve figures were revised downward by 96% and the IEA is predicting the US shale oil/gas boom will end in 2020, with a new US net production declines after that time.

        So it appears US industry may well take a hit at exactly the time renewables become more readily available. In economic terms, the IEA figures mean even more steeply rising costs for ff industry going forward.

        Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  June 5, 2014

        So the peak oilers are proven correct, of course. They were just about 12 – 15 years late in relation to their pre-fracking estimates made between 2003 – 2008. The only way peak oil cannot be true in concept is if the oil supply is infinite. Give the exponential rates at which fuel is being consumed, and all the other exponential consumption that humans are undertaking, it’s not a surprise to see this.

        But *thanks* to fracking we’ve been given a liquid fuel and natural gas reprieve of 10 – 15 years. So yes, I agree with you and others here that the economic impacts post peak oil and gas will be hitting right about when the climate starts to really go haywire, say around 2030. That in itself is ironic.

        When things really go meltdown, circa 2100, there may be very little fossil fuel burning going on, due to lack of supply and economic meltdown, and a likely population crash. Those unfortunate people struggling to survive then will have the worst of both worlds; suffering under 4 to 5 C of global warming at a time when they can’t even enjoy the benefits of fossil fuels in terms of saving human labor.

        Best not to get reborn on Earth for a few hundred-thousand years I think😉 Better get going on that Enlightenment thing🙂

        Reply
        • OK. I’m going to break with consensus opinion and say that loss of fossil fuels in the face of rising renewables adoption will actually be good for the economy. Fossil fuels amount to an equality and climate destroying resource curse.

      • Phil

         /  June 5, 2014

        Also alot of questions being asked in Australia about the viability of many new coal mining projects – China seems to be heading towards more dependence upon their own coal deposits while also more generally moving away from coal as all the pollution/environmental contamination begins to emerge.

        India is now seen as the key market but analysts have been saying that the price the Indian’s would need to pay would have to be double current prices to make the new projects commercially viable.

        Also, recently, a major investment bank pulled out of an infrastructure project based around building a larger export port for these new coal mines in central and north Queensland.

        Reply
        • Scarcity = lack of economic access. If there were no alternatives, innovation would push the scarcity curve out a bit more. Fossil fuels get squeezed between available alternatives, scarcity, and climate concerns.

        • … And a wave of climate change deniers just tried to post here under the faux notion of ‘adding balance…’

          More like adding nonsense. No thanks. Will pass.

    • Fake equal veracity of opinion by putting some numbskull who still thinks CO2 results in overall and beneficial global ‘greening’ into a so called scientific debate. Of course the greening argument is bunk and has no valid context in climate science. It’s like the media having Guy debate a clown and then asking everyone to consider the clown’s opinions seriously.

      Reply
  18. Personally, I’m really grateful that you edit out the comments from the obtuse, crazy-making deniers… My reaction to their mindset is to get depressed and feel misanthropic. This place is balm to my soul. -FINALLY some reliable, thoughtful and unflinching analysis.

    Reply
    • climatehawk1

       /  June 5, 2014

      Agreed, though I do like Stoat (where the host has some very caustic commenters for the deniers). But, a little of that goes a long way.

      Reply
    • In my view, this kind of degradation of morale is at least as harmful as the bad action of fossil fuel use itself. Not only do people of conscience have to face the uphill battle of rational change, but they must also engage in a scarring psychological/spiritual war to do it.

      I’m glad that you can make good use of the haven. And it’s great to see so many concerned and thinking persons sharing thoughts, the latest science and expert analysis.

      Reply
  19. jyyh

     /  June 5, 2014

    ok, i’m beginning to believe stronger than average niño coming, that sort of a low might be an indicator for imminent nino, and some reports have stated that Nino conditions are on but the size of it is still uncertain. so it’s possible that this one affects also ice in the north already this year.

    Reply
    • Possibly. The overall heating effect would tend to shift the climate zones north.

      Trade wind shut down over a broad section is still ongoing. West winds primarily over the Eastern Pacific. Wouldn’t call strong El Niño certain but this appears to be a step in that direction. Will have to see how long the shut down persists and if more west wind bursts emerge.

      Reply
  20. In China , currently 700+ mountains are being removed in order to create urban space (buildings, shopping malls). This is being done without foresight as to the many changes such as hydrology.

    http://www.designntrend.com/articles/14991/20140605/bulldozing-mountains-to-make-way-for-cities-in-china-could-prove-catastrophic.htm

    Reply
    • Really? They’re taking out mountains for strip malls?

      At least with mountains, there’s a retreat route for species up going climate stress. It’s like forcing terrestrial creatures to live in the ocean while first removing the islands.

      Reply
  21. Ken Barrows

     /  June 5, 2014

    A poll on global warming is meaningless if it doesn’t mention changing one’s lifestyle. If you asked Americans if they would support policies to restrict carbon if it also restricted their buying, you’d get maybe 5%. Now optimists can say we don’t have to sacrifice anything, but we should be ready to tighten our belts in case that assertion is wrong.

    Reply
    • climatehawk1

       /  June 5, 2014

      Not so sure. I think as long as it’s not guns we have to give up, there might be some receptivity.

      Reply
    • The opinion is probably more nuanced if you present the risks if you don’t act. People are often willing to buckle down if they have a better understanding of risks. I also think that the link between growing capital for the rich, environmental destruction and expanding inequality hasn’t been fully explored. The loss of capital concentration in fossil fuel assets would be a general equalizer that would have benefits beyond the capital accumulation paradigm.

      Reply
  22. Boris Hits Mexico; Atlantic’s First Invest of 2014 Forms in Gulf of Mexico

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2691

    Reply
  23. Mark from New England

     /  June 5, 2014

    Robert or anyone else – I understand that El Nino tends to suppress the formation of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic ocean, while simultaneously enhancing their formation in the Pacific ocean. Is that correct, and why is there such a discrepancy between the Atlantic and Pacific in this regard?

    Reply
    • Warming in the Eastern Pacific tends to generate more wind shear for storms developing in the Atlantic. This increase in shear prevents formation over larger regions and can harm peak intensity. However, storms that do form tend to pop up in areas that make landfall more likely. So just because the number if storms is lower doesn’t mean that landfall impacts will necessarily be lower.

      Of course, this is a general rule and weather has been rather strange lately. Currently, we have a potential early season storm forming in the Atlantic.

      Reply
  24. “The chances of an El Niño, the global climate phenomenon that can destroy crops in Asia and offer a relief from harsh winters in North America, were raised to 70% on Thursday. But scientists said the coming El Niño was likely to be of only moderate strength.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/05/el-nino-summer-us-weather-forecaster?CMP=twt_fd

    Reply
  25. El Niño would be a disaster for the world’s coral reefs

    “A growing number of scientists are predicting a major El Niño weather event this year, which could wreak havoc across South America and Asia as droughts, floods and other extreme weather events hit industry and farming. But the impacts on the world’s coral reefs could be even more disastrous…..

    Professor Guldberg, who led the Oceans chapter of the IPCC report on climate change, is less than sanguine about the prospects for the region’s coral reefs. “It only takes about half a degree on top of background sea temperatures to cause bleaching,” he explains. “Atmospheric scientists are telling us we’re headed for temperatures that will trump those of 1998.” ”

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2014/jun/05/el-nino-coral-reef-earth-amazons?CMP=twt_fd

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  June 5, 2014

      Thanks for finding this. Coral reefs will soon be rare on the Earth – tragic.

      Reply
  26. Gerald Spezio

     /  June 7, 2014

    Leslie, the recent Showtime t.v. special, “Years of Living Dangerously,” had a very effective cartoon segment showing purple colored smoke emitting from tailpipes & smokestacks.
    Part of the problem IS that CO2 is an invisible gas.

    Reply
  27. Gerald Spezio

     /  June 7, 2014

    Leslie, the recent Showtime special, “Years of Living Dangerously,” had a very effective cartoon segment showing purple smoke coming out of tailpipes & smokestacks.
    Part of the problem IS the simple fact that CO2 is an invisible gas.

    Reply
  28. Andy in Bangalore

     /  June 8, 2014

    So how do you drive and take out the emissions? Power plants are needed to make the electricity if that is what is being referred to. I’m pretty sure that the biosphere cannot survive centralized electricity production and distribution.

    Reply
  29. dalyplanet

     /  June 8, 2014

    The tradewinds falter with every El Nino. The winds need to be strongly easterly for a super El Nino and they are not.

    Reply
    • The atmospheric feedback during strong surface warming tends to produce more widespread easterlies. As the current SST situation is that of a weak to moderate El Niño, the general trade weakening we see is consistent with a building event.

      Step toward stronger El Niño, but not a guarantee.

      Reply
  30. rayduray

     /  June 12, 2014

    El Nino Update: 90% Certainty according to ECMWF via Guardian

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/11/-sp-el-nino-weather-2014

    Reply

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