Climate Change and El Nino Locked in Tempestuous Embrace — Teleconnection Between Hot Equatorial Pacific and North Atlantic Cool Pool?

The troubled and tempestuous North Atlantic. It’s a place where the most ominous kinds of atmospheric bombs just keep going off. From the Cumbria floods — the worst seen since at least the Middle Ages — to the 300-year-old bridge wrecking Frank, to above-freezing temperatures at the North Pole during Winter, weather features throughout this region have increasingly taken on the ugly markings of systems twisted by the hand of human-forced warming.

One issue that’s been raised is what, if any, influence El Nino might have had on this most oddly extreme North Atlantic weather? There, such anomalous storms are more than likely the off-shoots of three new features related to climate change. One is a Stefan Ramhstorf-identified cool pool of water just south of Greenland. A freakish region of colder than normal sea surfaces that is, all-too-likely, the result of increased glacial melt outflows from a heat-harrowed Greenland. A second climate change related feature is a zone of very hot water along the Gulf Stream off the US East Coast. This odd warmth is likely due to a kind of Gulf Stream train wreck caused by the blocking lid of fresh water Greenland melt has thrown over that current’s driving circulation. So as the zone south of Greenland cools, the area just off the Eastern Seaboard heats up. A third and final feature is a polar warming related heating of the Barents sea surface along with a related massacre of sea ice in that previously frozen region.

These three features have radically altered the heat and moisture exchange patterns of the North Atlantic and are all too likely the primary factors involved in the crazy increase in extreme weather we’ve seen there during 2013, 2014, and 2015.

image

(Teleconnection between El Nino and the three freak weather patterns in the North Atlantic? River of moisture running up from the El Nino heat bleed in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific all the way to a storm forming in the North Atlantic cool pool just south of Greenland on January 1 of 2016. Note the above image is a graphical measure of total precipitable water content. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

But one factor that has been somewhat murky is what, if any, influence a near record or record El Nino may be having on the weather bombs going off over this climate change hotspot? At issue is the fact that teleconnections — or atmospheric energy and moisture exchange — between El Nino and the North Atlantic are somewhat difficult to tease out in the model essays and observational data.

However, this year, there does appear to be quite a lot of heat and moisture issuing from the monster El Nino raging in the Equatorial Pacific. For one, the record rains over South Carolina and the Central United States this year are certainly tied to an extremely heavy flood of moisture coming from this major atmospheric and ocean event. The moisture bleed has originated from the Eastern Pacific, lofted over Mexico and Central America to saturate airs over the Gulf States, the Central and Eastern US.

Recent observational data, in addition, also hints that this extraordinary moisture flow may well be linking up with another major moisture bleed off of sea surfaces in the range of 5-7 degrees Celsius above average off the US East Coast before feeding directly into the storm bombification zone over the North Atlantic cool pool.

Teleconnection between El Nino and North Atlantic Cool Pool

(River of moisture sets up between Equatorial Pacific and North Atlantic on January 1 of 2016. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

It’s initial observational evidence that may well be the answer to a question we’ve been asking in the forum here since summer time — could such a teleconnection set up between these two ocean surface temperature anomaly features? In other words, could we be seeing a link up between El Nino and features that are all-too likely related to climate change resulting in some extraordinarily severe weather? Well, on January 1, as identified by the cracker-jack spotting of Andy in San Diego, the atmosphere appeared to present a very strong tell-tale of just such a link up between moisture flows.

In the above NASA MODIS satellite shot we find what appears to be an atmospheric river of moisture running along a cloud pattern issuing from the Eastern Equatorial Pacific, across Mexico and the Southern US, out over the raging hot waters off the US East Coast and finally terminating in the North Atlantic cool pool zone east of Newfoundland and just south of Greenland.

If this is indeed what’s happening, then what we’re seeing is El Nino enhancing an already extremely intense North Atlantic storm generation pattern that is all-too-likely related to climate change. An El Nino + Climate Change teleconnection between the Pacific Equator, the North Atlantic, and, earlier this week, the North Pole that’s about just as unprecedented as all the never-before-seen weather we experienced during 2015. Something that could well turn weather forecasting as we know it on its ear.

In any case, something to look for in the post event reports on this, very disruptive, El Nino and possibly related North Atlantic extreme weather.

Links:

LANCE MODIS

Earth Nullschool

Warm Storm Pushes Above Freezing Temperatures at North Pole

Hat Tip to Andy in San Diego (fantastic spotting!)

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48 Comments

  1. Another factor that is seldom addressed is the latent heat added to the atmosphere when heavy rains precipitate. Doing the numbers is above my pay scale but intuitively I can confidently say that they amount to many Hiroshima size nuclear explosions worth. I hope that someone that has access to the total rain fall across the south could post some ball park numbers. At 450 calories of latent heat given off every gram of rain, the energy input is clearly enormous. However the math part is easy.

    .

    Reply
  2. Matt

     /  January 4, 2016

    Wow “Storms of my Grandchildren” stuff. I remember the animations in that “Day after Tomorrow”? movie and although o.k. we are not going to see 3 massive Northern Hemisphere hurricanes start a new ice age:), there are some amazing similarities re: the sheer size of these systems and the link with melting Greenland ice disrupting the polar bound currents!
    An update on whether Marble Bar can beat it’s record of 160 consecutive days over 100F this summer… it’s topped at 46.4C so far today making it 93days in a row since the last recorded day below 100F (30 days ahead of where it was when the record was set)! Lowest forecast for the next 5 days is 44C. For the record, this “record” is a real focus point for the denier mob here in Aus, hence my interest in it. It is quite strange why it so important to them (I think because it is in Wiki so it’s easy for them to look up) when in reality it is not really a heat record, given that there may well be an identical 160 day period at that location which was hotter but had 1 or more days under 100F!!!
    Might have to analyse the raw data if I get time:)

    Reply
    • Mark in New England

       /  January 4, 2016

      Too hot for me! Good luck mate as you say😉

      Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  January 5, 2016

      I wonder how that rain and filling of Lake Eyre etc will affect this years weather, cooling the Centre somewhat

      Reply
  3. Jeremy

     /  January 4, 2016

    Hiroshimas?

    Aw fuck!

    https://4hiroshimas.com

    Reply
  4. Chuck Hughes

     /  January 4, 2016

    Has anyone heard anything else about the pingos in the Arctic? Are they still increasing in numbers?

    Reply
    • labmonkey2

       /  January 4, 2016

      Not sure about the pingos, but the northern lakes are attracting more attention:

      With climate warming, particularly at high northern latitudes, longer ice-free seasons in combination with permafrost thaw is likely to fuel methane release from lakes, potentially causing their emissions to increase 20-50 precent before the end of this century. Such a change would likely generate a positive feedback on future warming, causing emissions to increase even further.

      Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-01-large-methane-emissions-northern-lakes.html#jCp

      Reply
  5. Bryan Stairs

     /  January 4, 2016

    Another feature that it appears to be resulting in is the continued lack of any strong northern jet stream. Could this result in the resurgence of the TTT-RRR resulting in very little in the way of precipitation in Southern California, but because of the extraordinary warm North Atlantic East coast of North America very warm east coast winter?

    Reply
  6. Kevin Jones

     /  January 4, 2016

    Eastern Arctic Ocean, Greenland and Barents Seas, appear bruised by Frank. NSIDC showing -2 standard deviation in Arctic Sea Ice Area broached.

    Reply
    • Give it a day or two. We’re in the range of second lowest on record for both sea ice area and extent right now. We’ve been at a flatline or even slightly declining for the past week. If this keeps up it’s 24 to 48 hours to hit new record daily lows.

      Reply
      • Kevin Jones

         /  January 5, 2016

        Yes. 1/4/2011 Arctic Sea Ice Extent: 12.892 million sq. km. 1/4/2015: 12.801 New record low for date according NSIDC Charctic Interactive Sea Ice Graph.

        Reply
      • Kevin Jones

         /  January 5, 2016

        1/4/2016, I meant.

        Reply
  7. Kevin Jones

     /  January 4, 2016

    Interesting remarks from Drs. Hansen and Mann.
    http://www.eco-business.com/news/double-dilemma-for-paris-climate-deal/

    Reply
  8. PlazaRed

     /  January 4, 2016

    Interesting El Nino getting its feet wet into the North Atlantic.
    Meanwhile the global temp anomolies are looking very interesting today and probably for quite a few days to come yet.
    Thank you for the info and ideas.
    Take a look over on WU for some unplesent suprises fro January 2016.

    http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/

    Reply
    • PlazaRed

       /  January 4, 2016

      Here’s a link to the SST anomaly map.

      Reply
      • James Burton

         /  January 4, 2016

        The heat off of Eastern USA and Canada is impressive! If that is backed up North Atlantic Current energy, then how bad of storms could we see coming down the line?

        Reply
        • James — if we get a strong trough running into it and if there’s enough atmospheric instability then you’re talking about some epic storms off the US East Coast.

      • Kevin Jones

         /  January 4, 2016

        Yeah. My scientifically literate bones sense an ice storm from hell for New England in the coming month or three….

        Reply
  9. Jeremy.

     /  January 4, 2016

    Comedy gold folks.
    I urge you to watch these two ass-clown televangelists justifying flying around in their private jets to each other.

    http://jonathanturley.org/2016/01/04/televangelists-explain-to-the-faithful-why-they-need-private-jets-to-avoid-demons-and-allow-them-to-talk-to-god/

    Comedy gold, just comedy gold.
    Sadly millions of schlubs send these crooks their hard earned cash.
    And you can be damn sure these nutters preach that global warming is a hoax being promulgated by us devilish liberals.

    Please, pray with me for continued flooding of the Mississippi.

    Reply
  10. climatehawk1

     /  January 4, 2016

    http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/01/04/activists-crowdfund-court-costs-for-uk-coal-mine-shutdown/

    “Activists who shut down a UK opencast coal mine have taken to a crowdfunding website to meet court-ordered costs, after pleading guilty to aggravated trespass.

    “Eight members of “Matt Ridley’s Conscience”, a group named after the Conservative peer and climate sceptic columnist who owns the land, owe £9,000 (US$13,000) between them.

    “They are calling on sympathisers to chip in, with the bulk of money going to compensate Banks Mining Group for the eight-hour disruption on 26 October. Contributions have topped £4,000.

    “In a statement following the 16 December sentencing, the group expressed defiance, saying: ‘Though we chose to declare ourselves guilty in court, we see this as no reflection of morality…

    “’We urge Matt to listen to his Conscience and to wake up to the consequences of his actions. The coal profits lining his bank account come at the cost of the deaths and displacement caused by climate change.’”

    Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  January 4, 2016

      Fascinating, utoutback. Thanks for the link.

      Reply
    • entropicman

       /  January 4, 2016

      It would help explain where all the North Atlantic meltwater has come from so suddenly.

      Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  January 5, 2016

      Actually my reading of this is that it is the surface firn and porous snow and ice that are impacted, leading to greater run off. However it has been shown that most of the run off is diverted into moulins rather than Greenland surface or even ocean, thus filling the internal lakes more rapidly.
      Coming lake drainage will be doozies

      Reply
  11. Carole

     /  January 4, 2016

    Following is a presentation by Dr. Jennifer Francis which she gave at the AGU 2015 (December 14-18, 2015) on recent studies of weather blocking patterns.

    Reply
  12. Geir Bratthammer - Norway

     /  January 4, 2016

    Are these weather incidents realy connected to El Nino, or are they simply a product of a warmer ocean and atmosphere? Last years weather was also said to be a product of last year El Nino, which was a moderate, or even a weak but long lasting one. It turned out to evolve into a strong El Nino a year later. After all, the latest report indicates that The El Nino is still gaining strength, and most of its energy is still in the pacific. If I understand this right, the real El Nino effect is still to come.

    Reply
    • Since Climate Change fundamentally alters the hydrological cycle and since most El Nino events are hydrologically related (drought and flood), Climate Change results in an amplification of overall El Nino impacts. It’s El Nino weather on steriods. What’s a bit difficult to tease out, at this time, is that there are current impacts that are now also likely soully related to Climate Change.

      If anyone is out there blaming all this extreme weather on just El Nino, then they’re basically wrong. You don’t have El Nino in a +1 C world without some added impact. And we’re seeing this in the extreme weather events around the world right now.

      Reply
      • “If anyone is out there blaming all this extreme weather on just El Nino, then they’re basically wrong.”

        Right, Robert. This must be emphasized at every turn.

        To my mind El Nino is an ‘event’ whereas climate change is more of a continuum.
        The climate change now surrounding us is, or was, preventable. Humans caused it by the burning of fossil fuels despite evidence of its catastrophic harm.
        Many of its impacts are generated in the far North or Arctic regions. Most powerful of these have been the melting of Arctic sea ice which has hampered the weather steering polar jet stream.

        This current El Nino is an occasional and naturally occurring condition centered in the equatorial Pacific Ocean which takes place whether humans are around or not.

        Without a doubt, our climate has been altered by human activity. El Nino just reflects this reality.
        ###
        OUT

        Reply
  13. NWS Western Region ‏@NWSWestern 42m42 minutes ago

    Going to be a wet week across the western U.S., especially over the southwest!

    Reply
  14. U.S. files civil suit against Volkswagen for environment violations

    WASHINGTON, Jan 4 (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Monday filed a civil suit against Volkswagen AG for allegedly violating the Clean Air Act by installing illegal devices to impair emission control systems in 600,000 vehicles.

    The allegations in the lawsuit carry penalties that could cost Volkswagen billions of dollars, a senior Justice Department official said.

    “The United States will pursue all appropriate remedies against Volkswagen to redress the violations of our nation’s clean air laws,” said Assistant Attorney General John Cruden, head of the departments environment and natural resources division.
    http://www.trust.org/item/20160104180359-uzdvs

    Reply
    • Matt

       /  January 4, 2016

      Wow
      ““The United States will pursue all appropriate remedies against Volkswagen to redress the violations of our nation’s clean air laws,” said Assistant Attorney General John Cruden, head of the departments environment and natural resources division.”
      Did they do that for BP in the Gulf??? Easier target perhaps??? Sounds exactly like how my country Aus would handle the two situations!!!

      Reply
  15. Colorado Bob

     /  January 4, 2016

    Historic Mississippi River Flood Brings Highest Crest on Record Below St. Louis

    Figure 1. Precipitation over much of the drainage basin of the Mississippi River in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and portions of surrounding states during December 2015 averaged 200 – 600% of normal (dark blue to purple colors.) Image credit: NOAA/NWS/AHPS.
    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=3216#commenttop

    Reply
  16. Melting of massive ice ‘lid’ resulted in huge release of CO2 at the end of the ice age

    – See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/melting-of-massive-ice-lid-resulted-in-huge-release-of-co2-at-the-end-of-the-ice-age#sthash.ACCu3mS6.dpuf

    Reply
  17. Large and increasing methane emissions from northern lakes

    “With climate warming, particularly at high northern latitudes, longer ice-free seasons in combination with permafrost thaw is likely to fuel methane release from lakes, potentially causing their emissions to increase 20–50 precent before the end of this century”

    http://www.su.se/english/about/profile-areas/climate-seas-and-environment/large-and-increasing-methane-emissions-from-northern-lakes-1.263259

    Reply
  18. Colorado Bob

     /  January 4, 2016

    New pictures show historic North-east castle on brink of falling into River Dee

    THE fate of a historic castle was hanging in the balance today after a 60ft chunk of land next to the river washed away.

    The owner of Abergeldie Castle was forced to evacuate the 16th century A-listed tower house in Aberdeenshire on Sunday after the River Dee swept away about 60ft (18m) of land behind the property, leaving it only a few feet from the water.

    Link

    Reply
  19. Excellent post, Robert.
    May I suggest a moniker for the river of moisture crossing the USA Southeast? The Cross Dixie Expressway, in honor of the type of road most responsible for transportation CO2 emissions and Robert M Moses, chief early advocate and builder of such roads in NYC, including the Cross Bronx Expwy.😉

    Reply
  20. mlparrish

     /  January 5, 2016

    It’s an old article, but it mentions a Pacific – North Atlantic teleconnection: “As a nexus for climate change, the tropical Pacific also has a clear advantage over the North Atlantic, in that the global atmosphere is exquisitely sensitive to tropical Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies. It has been said that “the temperature in Spitzbergen is more sensitive to the tropical Pacific than it is to the North Atlantic” (T. Palmer, personal communication). . . ”

    R. T. Pierrehumbert. Climate change and the tropical Pacific: The sleeping dragon wakes. PNAS. 2000, vol. 97 no. 4, 1355–1358, doi: 10.1073/pnas.97.4.1355.

    Link – http://www.pnas.org/content/97/4/1355.full.

    Reply
    • Well, now we have both North Atlantic SST change and massive warmth in EPAC. Pick your poison or mix liberally.

      Reply
    • uilyam

       /  January 5, 2016

      “If one is tugging on the dragon’s tail with little notion of how much agitation is required to wake him, one must be prepared for the unexpected.” — R. T. Pierrehumbert

      How exactly should we prepare for the unexpected?

      Reply
  1. Climate Change and El Nino Locked in Tempestuous Embrace — Teleconnection Between Hot Equatorial Pacific and North Atlantic Cool Pool? | GarryRogers Nature Conservation

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