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.


Global Forecast System Model

University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer



Ocean Temperature Anomaly Hits Extraordinary +1.12 C Above Average Reading on April 22, All Australian Weather Models Now Predict El Nino for 2014

With the ever-more certain approach of El Nino, the world ocean surface is starting to radiate more and more heat.

Over the past four days, GFS assessments have shown positive temperature anomaly values in excess of +1 degrees Celsius (C) above the, already hotter than normal, 1979 to 2000 average (which was, itself, about .5 C above the low averages seen during the period of 1880 to 1920). With each new dawn, readings ramped higher and, by today, those temperatures had spiked to an extraordinary +1.12 C hotter than ‘normal’ for the entire global ocean system.

TS_anom_satellite1 April 22

(Global oceans hit extreme +1.12 surface temperature anomaly. Data from NOAA’s Global Forecast Systems model visually depicted by the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer.)

The equatorial Pacific region hovered near El Nino values with readings of +.44 to +.45 C approaching the El Nino threshold of +.5 C. It is worth noting that the Eastern Equatorial Pacific has consistently shown below average temperatures during recent years as strong trade winds drove both upwelling of cooler waters and atmosphere-to-ocean heat transfer. Meanwhile, the Western Pacific spiked to much hotter than normal readings as heat content just kept piling up in a broad zone east of the Philippines.

Extraordinary high temperature departures have also cropped up across other regions. The Northern Hemisphere, for example, showed an extraordinary +1.56 temperature anomaly for April 22. This exceptional reading was fed by extreme northern ocean temperatures in the Barents Sea above the Arctic Circle at +4-5 C above the 1979 to 2000 average and a very warm pool in the Pacific Ocean south of Alaska ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 C hotter than normal.

Aside from these zones of extreme heat, almost all Northern Hemisphere waters now display hotter than average temperatures.

All Australian Models Now Show El Nino

These excessively high global ocean temperature readings come on the same day that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issued new findings showing that every climate model run by that agency now predicts El Nino for 2014. The BOM notes:

The likelihood of El Niño remains high, with all climate models surveyed by the Bureau now indicating El Niño is likely to occur in 2014. Six of the seven models suggest El Niño thresholds may be exceeded as early as July.

At issue is the fact that reversals of the trade wind, known as west wind back-bursts (WWB), are currently ongoing both east of the Solomon Islands and in the Central Pacific Ocean. Real-time observation of western Pacific wind flow through composite weather model data shows a broad field of westerly winds of about 5-15 mph velocity centered at 1.7 degrees South, 156 degrees East. A second cyclonic circulation north of Tahiti at 2.9 North, 139 West in the mid Pacific Ocean has also generated a 5-15 mph west wind.

Overall, these counter trade wind flows help to push down-welling warm water in the Western Pacific eastward, spreading hot waters across the surface and amplifying the force of what, during March, was the most powerful Kelvin Wave on record. Factors that bring with them the potential for an extraordinarily powerful monster El Nino for 2014-2015, continued positive ocean surface temperature extremes, and major weather disruptions associated with both human warming and the global tilt toward the warm extreme that is El Nino.


Climate Reanalyzer

BOM ENSO Wrap-up

El Nino’s Arrival Seen by All Models

Real Time Global Surface Wind Data

Monster El Nino Emerging From the Depths

Potential For El Nino Spikes as Record Pacific Ocean Heat Content Continues to Emerge

Hat Tip to Colorado Bob



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