El Niño intensifies from weak to moderate; Phillippines under the gun again

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:57 PM GMT on October 27, 2009

Share this Blog
4
+

El Niño conditions have strengthened in recent weeks, crossing the threshold from "weak" to "moderate", according to data compiled by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. NOAA defines "moderate" El Niño conditions as existing when sea surface temperature (SST) departure from average in the equatorial Eastern Pacific (the area 5°N - 5°S, 120°W - 170°W, also called the "Niña 3.4 region") warms above 1.0°C. According to the latest time-series plot of "Niña 3.4 region" SSTs (Figure 1), we crossed that threshold last week. Monthly average SSTs will have to remain above 1.0°C for five consecutive months in order for this to be considered a "moderate" El Niño event. The ongoing intensification of El Niño could have major impacts on this winter's weather.


Figure 1. Departure of sea surface temperature (SST) from average for the past two years along the equatorial Eastern Pacific (the area 5°N - 5°S, 120°W - 170°W, also called the "Niña 3.4 region"). Moderate strength El Niño conditions occur when the Niña 3.4 anomaly exceeds 1.0°C, which occurred last week (red arrow). Weak El Niño conditions (Niña 3.4 anomaly between 0.5 - 1.0°C) were present from early June to mid-October. Image credit: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

The intensification of El Niño is due to a combination of events in the ocean and the atmosphere. In the ocean, a slow-moving wave of water more than 5°C (9°F) warmer than average is progressing from west to east along the Equator (Figure 2). This wave, known as a "Kelvin" wave, is focused at a depth of 150 meters, but also affects surface waters. The Kelvin wave was at 175W on October 1, and is now near 140W, so it is traveling east at about 4 mph (100 miles/day). At the ocean surface, a burst of west-to-east winds near the Date Line has weakened the trade winds (Figure 3), which blow the opposite direction--east to west. The trade winds have weakened by 1 - 2 m/s over the past few weeks, allowing the Kelvin wave to push warm water eastward towards South America. The result of this interplay between ocean and air is an intensification of El Niño conditions from weak to moderate.


Figure 2. Animation of the ocean temperatures (top) and departure of ocean temperatures from average (bottom) as a function of depth along the Equator in the equatorial Eastern Pacific. The left side of the image is near Australia, and the right side is near the coast of South America. At the beginning frame in the bottom image on October 5, an ocean Kelvin wave is apparent at a depth of 150 meters, where the ocean temperature is up to 3°C above average (yellow colors). The wave travels eastwards at about 100 miles/day. By the final frame (October 25), the Kelvin wave has warmed to a temperature 5°C above average (orange colors). The Kelvin wave is helping to push the warm water at the surface to the east, as seen in the progression of the red and orange colors eastwards in the top image. I constructed the animation using the free ImageMagick package on a Linux machine, using data plotted up from the NOAA's Tropical Atmospheric Ocean (TAO) project web page.


Figure 3. Top: Sea Surface temperatures (colors) along the Equator between New Guinea and South America, with surface wind vectors overlaid. Note that there is a burst of westerly winds near the Date Line, 180W. This westerly wind burst is weakening the trade winds, which blow the opposite direction, east-to-west, over the ocean between the Date Line and the coast of South America. Bottom: Departure of wind speed from average along the Equator shows the effect of the westerly wind burst, which has weakened the trade winds at the surface by 1 - 2 m/s along a large swath of ocean near the Equator. The reduction in trade winds allows the warm water to the west to slosh eastwards, intensifying El Niño. Image credit: NOAA's Tropical Atmospheric Ocean (TAO) project web page.

Quiet in the Atlantic
There are no threat areas in the Atlantic to discuss, and none of the computer models is calling for tropical storm formation over the next seven days. This should be a quiet week in the region we need to be most concerned about for a late-season hurricane, the Western Caribbean. Wind shear is forecast to be marginal for tropical storm development this week, and most of the Caribbean is very dry at present. One possible area of concern early next week may be near Bermuda, where the models indicate a large non-tropical low may cut off from the jet stream 6 - 7 days from now. This low could potentially remain over warm waters long enough to acquire tropical characteristics and become Subtropical Storm Ida. Such a storm would only be a threat to Bermuda.

Philippines under the gun yet again
The typhoon-weary Philippine Islands have a new worry--Tropical Storm Mirinae is strengthening quickly east of the islands, and could be a typhoon later today. Latest infrared satellite loops show a large and expanding region of intense thunderstorms with very cold cloud tops, with well-developed spiral banding and excellent upper-level outflow developing. Wind shear is a moderate 15 knots, and the ocean temperatures are very warm, 29°C. These warm waters extend to great depth, and the Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential (TCHP) is 80 - 100 kJ/cm^2 along Mirinae's entire path to the Philippines. Values of TCHP in excess of 90 kJ/cm^2 are frequently associated with rapid intensification, and I expect Mirinae will be a major Category 3 or higher typhoon by Thursday. Mirinae is expected to track westward and hit the Philippines' Luzon Island on Saturday. With wind shear expected to remain in the low to moderate range, the models fairly united about a westward track over the Philippines, and plenty of ocean heat to feed off, the odds certainly favor a strike by Mirinae at Category 1 or higher strength on hard-hit Luzon.


Figure 2. Tropical Storm Mirinae, as it passed north of the Guam radar station last night.

Statisticians reject global cooling
An interesting exercise was conducted by the Associated Press (AP), who gave global average temperature data for the past 130 years to a group of independent statisticians, and told them to analyze the data without telling them what the data represented. These experts concluded that the data showed a distinct decades-long upward trend in the numbers, and no significant drop in the past ten years. This is not too surprising, since no scientific studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals have supported the idea that the globe is cooling. The AP exercise was the lead story in this morning's on-line version of the MSNBC news. Dr. Ricky Rood's climate change blog has an interest analysis of global warming and cooling trends, and how natural variability over years or decades can mask long-term trends. With El Niño cranking up to moderate levels heading into 2010, there's at least a 50/50 chance that year will end up beating 2005/1998 as the warmest year on record, putting the "global cooling" hype to rest for a few years.

Second Annual Portlight Honor Walk
When:
Saturday, December 5, 2009 or Sunday, December 6, 2009

What:
A nationwide grassroots event to raise funds for and awareness of Portlight's ongoing efforts specifically aimed at providing Christmas presents for kids and families devastated by the recent Atlanta floods, South Carolina wildfires, American Samoa tsunami, and other disasters that may occur.

Why:
Un-served, underserved and forgotten people are depending on us.

How:
We need one hundred people across the country to commit to walking one mile on this day, and to raise at least $300.00 in sponsorship from friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Participants can choose where to walk--it can be the park, the mall the neighborhood--anywhere you choose. The first 100 participants to raise at least $300 will receive a commemorative T-Shirt.

To register, simply e-mail your intention to participate at paul@portlight.org

Check the Portlight featured Weather Underground Blog regularly for updates!

The Honor Walk Sponsor Form available here will help you keep track of funds and pledges:
http://www.portlight.org/images/walkerform.pdf

Portlight's Paul Timmons on the Barometer Bob Show Thursday night
Portlight's Paul Timmons will be appearing live this Thursday at 8pm EDT on the Barometer Bob Show, an Internet radio show that I have appeared on several times in the past. Be sure to catch his discussion of how Portlight got started, where they're going, and what's new!

Next post
I'll have a new post on Wednesday, when I'll discuss how the recent intensification of El Niño may affect winter in the U.S.

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 549 - 499

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11Blog Index

Looking at 11:20 EST for launch.. ughhh
Member Since: September 11, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 263
looks like earliest launch at min 20 now
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
With the exception of weather, the Eastern Range is "go" for launch at a new launch time: 11:08 a.m. EDT. So the countdown will resume at 11:04 at T-4 minutes.
Member Since: September 11, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 263
wx break might be in 15 mins might pick up count at 10:04 CT
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
No issues for launch except wx - 4 mins and holding
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Wx just gave a no go - they're still looking for a gap in the Elect fields
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
11am seems to be the launch now 20% chance at 11 for a "no-go"
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
WOW the look as busy as I am. Geeze will something please break. Nothing major of course
Member Since: September 11, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 263
where did he go. Darn missed where he went, maybe feel out of the chair LOL
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Mine is busy as hell but I was first in today so I grabed the remote first :)
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
oops forgot the linky

Link
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Quoting Bonedog:
Dont thtink my coworkers want to speand another day watching NASA Tv on the LCD LOL

Work is extremely slow at the moment. I feel like the Maytag repairman. I guess I will follow the launch.
Member Since: September 11, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 263
talking about the tech right at the bottom of the screen LOL
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
I wonder if the tech in the AE Video 2 channel realizes hes on camera. Hes been asleep for 20 minutes already LOL. Even had a nice shot of his open mouth for a while
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Glad everything else is a go. They can be ready to fly if they see an approaching weather window.

No stuck tarps or frighters down range today to give us aheadache.

Hopefully that 10 minute break in the weather happens and they get a launch today. Dont thtink my coworkers want to speand another day watching NASA Tv on the LCD LOL
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Hurricane. Thats excatly what they are worried about. I did a little net searching and found their biggest concern about the triboelectrification is in case they need to self destruct and the signal doesnt get through and also all the telemetry on board needs uninterupted signals to the downrange based computers.

Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Although the Ares I-X rocket is in good shape and ready to fly, the weather just is not cooperating with the launch team for the 9:15 a.m. liftoff time. The range still is "red," or "no-go," due to the threat of triboelectrification. The team now is aiming for liftoff at 10:30 a.m., when Launch Weather Officer Kathy Winters expects a better possibility of a break in the clouds. All our other weather constraints are "green," or favorable, and there are no problems being discussed regarding the rocket.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Just a WAG ( wild a** guess). I think with all the sensors on board NASA wants to minimize the risk of static electricity interfering with the accuaracy of the information they are trying to gather. I can see not wanting a billion dollars to go to waste.
Member Since: September 11, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 263
Thanks Pat =)
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
10:30a launch tentative
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
funny that a little cirrus clouds will stop this flight all because of interference. Do they stop the shuttle for the same?
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Man, that's one funky looking bird...

Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127695
That I can relate too.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127695
oops it is the droop snoot.... 30 years can fog the memory
Member Since: September 11, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 263
FTS Checks Complete; Tel-4 Locked On
Wed, 28 Oct 2009 06:52:13 AM CST

Checks of the Ares I-X rocket's flight termination system, which would destroy the vehicle if it threatened a populated area, are complete. The Tel-4 tracking station south of Kennedy Space Center still has a lock on the rocket and is collecting state-of-health information. We could be in a position to launch within the next 30 minutes, but weather is likely to have other plans. Stay tuned.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127695
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_EC-135 Look this up. Interesting aircraft. I had the pleasure of getting a tour on it.
Member Since: September 11, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 263
Quoting HurricaneNewbie:
No the droop snoop was the tracking aircraft for NASA during the Apollo years.


Okay,...no I dont recall that particular one.


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127695
No the droop snoop was the tracking aircraft for NASA during the Apollo years.
Member Since: September 11, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 263
NASA - KSC Video Feeds
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127695
Quoting HurricaneNewbie:
Patrap. Have you ever heard of the droop snoop?


As in Droop Snoop on the Concorde?

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127695
Looking at the live sat feed from KSC second box out lower side appears to be clearing, might be a launch window
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Patrap. Have you ever heard of the droop snoop?
Member Since: September 11, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 263
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127695


Seismic Monitor

AOI

AOI

Humor in Comments
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The Saturn V was a true beast. Watched every launch but Apollo 17. Unfortunatley that was the only night launch of an Apollo mission.
Member Since: September 11, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 263
Ares I is the crew launch vehicle being developed by NASA as a component of the Constellation Program.[1] The name "Ares" refers to the Greek deity Ares, who is identified with the Roman god Mars.[2] Ares I was originally known as the "Crew Launch Vehicle" (CLV).[3]

NASA plans to use Ares I to launch Orion, the spacecraft being designed for NASA human spaceflight missions after the Space Shuttle is retired in 2010. Ares I is intended to complement the larger, unmanned Ares V, which is the cargo launch vehicle for Constellation. NASA selected the Ares designs for their anticipated overall safety, reliability and cost-effectiveness.

Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
Launch Targeted for 9:15 a.m.; Weather a Major Factor
Wed, 28 Oct 2009 06:43:54 AM CST

Safety checks are under way right now between the Eastern Range and the Ares I-X vehicle. Launch now is targeted for 9:15 a.m., but Launch Weather Officer Kathy Winters has indicated our best chance at favorable weather may not come until 10:30 a.m. or later. Triboelectrification continues to be the main concern, and the launch team is hoping for a gap in the clouds. The weather reconnaissance aircraft that supplies firsthand observations to weather personnel is refueling and will take to the skies again.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127695
The “Statisticians: ‘Global Cooling’ a Myth” story
Published by Briggs at 6:55 am under Bad Stats, Climatology

“J’accuse! A statistician may prove anything with his nefarious methods. He may even say a negative number is positive! You cannot trust anything he says.”

Sigh. Unfortunately, this oft-hurled charge is all too true. I and my fellow statisticians must bear its sad burden, knowing it is caused by our more zealous brethren (and sisthren). But, you know, it really isn’t their fault, for they are victims of loving not wisely but too well their own creations.

First, a fact. It is true that, based on the observed satellite data, average global temperatures since about 1998 have not continued the rough year-by-year increase that had been noticed in the decade or so before that date. The temperatures since about 1998 have increased in some years, but more often have they decreased. For example, last year was cooler than the year before last. These statements, barring unknown errors in the measurement of that data, are taken as true by everybody, even statisticians.

Th AP gave this data—concealing its source—to “several independent statisticians” who said they “found no true temperature declines over time” (link)

How can this be? Why would a statistician say that the observed cooling is not “scientifically legitimate”; and why would another state that noticing the cooling “is a case of ‘people coming at the data with preconceived notions’”?

Are these statisticians, since they are concluding the opposite of what has been observed, insane? This is impossible: statisticians are highly lucid individuals, its male members exceedingly handsome and charming. Perhaps they are rabid environmentalists who care nothing for truth? No, because none of them knew the source of the data they were analyzing. What can account for this preposterous situation!

Love. The keen pleasures of their own handiwork. That is, the adoration of lovingly crafted models.

Let me teach you to be a classical statistician. Go to your favorite climate site and download a time series picture of the satellite-derived temperature (so that we have no complications from mixing of different data sources); any will do. Here’s one from our pal Anthony Watts.

Now fetch a ruler—a straight edge—preferably one with which you have an emotional attachment. Perhaps the one your daughter used in kindergarten. The only proviso is that you must love the ruler.

Place the ruler on the temperature plot and orient it along the data so that it most pleases your eye. Grab a pencil and draw a line along its edge. Then, if you can, erase all the original temperature points so that all you are left with is the line you drew.


If a reporter calls and asks if the temperature was warmer or colder last year, do not use the original data, which of course you cannot since you erased it, but use instead your line. According to that very objective line the temperature has obviously increased. Insist on the scientificity of that line—say that according to its sophisticated inner-methodology, the pronouncement must be that the temperature has gone up! Even though, in fact, it has gone down.

Don’t laugh yet, dear ones. That analogy is too close to the truth. The only twist is that statisticians don’t use a ruler to draw their lines—some use a hockey stick. Just kidding! (Now you can laugh.) Instead, they use the mathematical equivalent of rulers and other flexible lines.

Your ruler is a model Statisticians are taught—their entire training stresses—that data isn’t data until it is modeled. Those temperatures don’t attain significance until a model can be laid over the top of them. Further, it is our credo to, in the end, ignore the data and talk solely of the model and its properties. We love models!

All this would be OK, except for one fact that is always forgotten. For any set of data, there are always an infinite number of possible models. Which is the correct one? Which indeed!

Many of these models will say the temperature has gone down, just as others will say that it has gone up. The AP statisticians used models most familiar to them; like “moving averages of about 10 years” (moving average is the most used method of replacing actual data with a model in time series); or “trend” models, which are distinct cousins to rulers.

Since we are free to choose from an infinite bag, all of our models are suspect and should not be trusted until they have proven their worth by skillfully predicting data that has not yet been seen. None of the models in the AP study have done so. Even stronger, since they said temperatures were higher when they were in fact lower, they must predict higher temperatures in the coming years, a forecast which few are making.

We are too comfortable with this old way of doing things. We really can prove anything we want with careful choice of models.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I miss living in Satellite Beach Fla. This would be an awesome launch to view from my backyard. And hear.
Member Since: September 11, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 263
Global Consequences of El Nino

Regional Consequences of El Nino (United States)

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127695
NASA Ares I Solid Rocket Motor Test

Produces 2 million horsepower

Flame exits rocket nozzle at approx. Mach 3.

Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
"The ongoing intensification of El Niño could have major impacts on this winter's weather."

No discussion of the possible "major impacts". What would they be?

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Countdown Update
Wed, 28 Oct 2009 06:26:15 AM CST

The Launch Authority Team and launch management still are reviewing all of the work done today as a result of last night's thunderstorms. No anomalies have been found, but all of the critical systems retested have to be verified flight-ready, and it's a fairly extensive list. Meanwhile, out at Launch Pad 39B, closeout work is nearly complete.

Launch still is targeted for 9 a.m. although that is subject -- and likely -- to change. The countdown clock remains at T-4 minutes and holding.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127695
final closeouts on the pad coming to an end soon
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
oops just looked its an archived skew t may bad LOL and it has been removed

still need more coffee
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Good Morning Everyone -

The Seven Sinister Sisters

For those of you who haven’t seen it, you owe yourself a treat by watching Jack Horkheimer’s STAR GAZER Halloween Special. It’s only 5 minutes long, but his campy enthusiasm is sure to bring a smile. The Pleiades star cluster reach their highest point (culmination) on or about midnight on Halloween. Many ancient civilizations have believed that this is a cosmic signal to honor their dead, and have attributed the culmination of the Seven Sisters to such cataclysmic events as the Great Flood, the Ten Plagues of Egypt, and even the sinking of Atlantis. To see it on You Tube click here. And remember, “keep looking up!
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
archived

Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
NASA Ares I-X Launch Blog
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127695

Viewing: 549 - 499

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.