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Goodbye, El Nino

Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
Jul 12, 2016 at 7:26 AM
Climate Change
Earth Temperatures El NinoPhoto by NASA/JPL

The major El Nino of 2015-2016 is over. Sea surface temperatures in the Nino regions have dropped to normal or below normal levels.

All of the temperature anomaly products are showing cooling from the peak of the 2015-2016 El Nino. The NASA GISS near-surface temperature anomaly product is the only near-surface temperature anomaly product currently available through May, 2016. It has declined by 0.4°C from its peak. The UAH tropospheric temperature anomaly has dropped by 0.3°C from its peak, while the RSS tropospheric temperature anomaly has dropped by 0.5°C from its peak. The NCEI and HadCRUT temperature anomaly products have also cooled from their peaks through April, 2016, though the drops are not as large since they do not include the May 2016 changes.

The Pacific “warm blob”, which has also been affecting global temperatures, has also disappeared, according to NASA. This should further reduce the sea surface temperature anomalies; and, thus, all of the global integrated temperature anomalies.

NOAA and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology have issued La Nina alerts for 2016-2017. Both organizations are anticipating a moderate to strong La Nina. However, there is no basis on which to project the magnitude and extent of the sea surface temperature cooling which will result.

The news releases from the producers of the near-surface temperature anomaly products tended to minimize the assessment of the impact of the El Nino on their surface temperature anomalies. However, the end of the El Nino has already produced a very significant reduction in the NASA GISS anomaly products. There is no reason to expect that similar reductions will not appear in the NCEI and HadCRUT anomaly products when the May 2016 anomalies are announced. This should make it quite clear that the minimal attribution of the 2015 warming to the El Nino was political spin, rather than scientific assessment.