Oscillation Rules as the Pacific Cools

Dec 10, 2008
A cool wedge of lower-than-normal sea-surface heights continues to dominate the tropical Pacific, ringed by a horseshoe of warmer waters. The continuation of this long-term cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation stacks the odds against a wetter-than-average winter/spring in the southwestern United States. Image credit: NASA/JPL

(PhysOrg.com) -- The latest image of sea-surface height measurements from the U.S./French Jason-1 oceanography satellite shows the Pacific Ocean remains locked in a strong, cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, a large, long-lived pattern of climate variability in the Pacific associated with a general cooling of Pacific waters. The image also confirms that El Niño and La Niña remain absent from the tropical Pacific.

The image is based on the average of 10 days of data centered on Nov. 15, 2008, compared to the long-term average of observations from 1993 through 2008. In the image, places where the Pacific sea-surface height is higher (warmer) than normal are yellow and red, and places where the sea surface is lower (cooler) than normal are blue and purple. Green shows where conditions are near normal. Sea-surface height is an indicator of the heat content of the upper ocean.

The Pacific Decadal Oscillation is a long-term fluctuation of the Pacific Ocean that waxes and wanes between cool and warm phases approximately every five to 20 years. In the present cool phase, higher-than-normal sea-surface heights caused by warm water form a horseshoe pattern that connects the north, west and southern Pacific. This is in contrast to a cool wedge of lower-than-normal sea-surface heights spreading from the Americas into the eastern equatorial Pacific. During most of the 1980s and 1990s, the Pacific was locked in the oscillation's warm phase, during which these warm and cool regions are reversed. For an explanation of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and its present state, see: jisao.washington.edu/pdo/ and www.esr.org/pdo_index.html .

Sea-surface temperature satellite data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration mirror Jason sea-surface height measurements, clearly showing a cool Pacific Decadal Oscillation pattern, as seen at: www.cdc.noaa.gov/map/images/sst/sst.anom.gif .

"This multi-year Pacific Decadal Oscillation 'cool' trend can cause La Niña-like impacts around the Pacific basin," said Bill Patzert, an oceanographer and climatologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "The present cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation will have significant implications for shifts in marine ecosystems, and for land temperature and rainfall patterns around the Pacific basin."

According to Nathan Mantua of the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington, Seattle, whose research contributed to the early understanding of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, "Even with the strong La Niña event fading in the tropics last spring, the North Pacific's sea surface temperature anomaly pattern has remained strongly negative since last fall. This cool phase will likely persist this winter and, perhaps, beyond. Historically, this situation has been associated with favorable ocean conditions for the return of U.S. west coast Coho and Chinook salmon, but it translates to low odds for abundant winter/spring precipitation in the southwest (including Southern California)."

Jason's follow-on mission, the Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason-2, was successfully launched this past June and will extend to two decades the continuous data record of sea surface heights begun by Topex/Poseidon in 1992. The new mission has produced excellent data, which have recently been certified for operational use. Fully calibrated and validated data for science use will be released next spring.

Provided by NASA

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MikeB
2.7 / 5 (9) Dec 10, 2008
"During most of the 1980s and 1990s, the Pacific was locked in the oscillation's warm phase, during which these warm and cool regions are reversed."
"The latest image of sea-surface height measurements from the U.S./French Jason-1 oceanography satellite shows the Pacific Ocean remains locked in a strong, cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, a large, long-lived pattern of climate variability in the Pacific associated with a general cooling of Pacific waters."

Hmmm, I guess this is why it's been getting cooler... and this is a long term trend?
Interesting, very interesting.

I wonder if this new, long-term cool phase we are entering is also caused by CO2.
GrayMouser
2.7 / 5 (9) Dec 10, 2008
"I wonder if this new, long-term cool phase we are entering is also caused by CO2."

Now your getting the hang of it.
deepsand
2.8 / 5 (11) Dec 10, 2008
The lack of understanding of basic physics as above exhibited by both is appalling.

'Tis interesting to note that those with the least understanding are those with the most to say.

To quote Abraham Lincoln, "Better to remain silent, and be thought the fool, than to speak and remove all doubt."

mikiwud
3 / 5 (8) Dec 11, 2008
deepsand,
I think you will find it is sarcasm. Because the only "proof" put forward by warmists is based on the Sayings of Big Al,Little Jim and Co, we need a bit of it to keep our sanity and lighten the mood. Obviously you did not get it. This article shows that CO2 is not everything,but what the hell.
CO2 can not warm water. The ocean mass is vastly greater than the atmosphere so energy transfer from the atmosphere is very limited.So, ocean heating must be from geothermal sources or...The Sun. But we know from the Goricle etc that the sun variations do not effect the earth.It's in the gospel of the Gori (pronounced GOR-HI as in Ori in Stargate SG1)
Hallowed are the Gori,NOT
MikeB
3.7 / 5 (6) Dec 11, 2008
"The lack of understanding of basic physics as above exhibited by both is appalling."

Asking questions is bad?
Velanarris
2.7 / 5 (7) Dec 11, 2008
The lack of understanding of basic physics as above exhibited by both is appalling.

'Tis interesting to note that those with the least understanding are those with the most to say.

To quote Abraham Lincoln, "Better to remain silent, and be thought the fool, than to speak and remove all doubt."

Make sure you fire this comment over to the AGCC proponents that can't find ANY of the telltale markers of CO2 based AGCC.
agg
3.3 / 5 (7) Dec 11, 2008
The "between the lines" message of this article is ocean currents are extremely complex, tied into the global weather system and understood by no one. Shouting about trends in a system that no one can fathom is ... politics, greed, corruption, misguided and naive - everything science wishes it wasn't.
GuruShabu
3.5 / 5 (8) Dec 11, 2008
None of the climate models used presently predict "El Niño". Not to mention "La Niña". So, the bottom line is all those climate models are speculative but unfortunately, people and the media keep on presenting them as hard fact. Early in the 70s it was predicted that the global temperature average would increase by 1.4C and now we found out it merely went up about .3 to .4C. This is an error of 300%. When Phoenix landed on Mars Nasa's error was about 14s over a time span of about 22 months. NASA guys know what they are talking about. If climate alarmists were to invest your money would you trust someone making a 300% error?
Agg is right. Those climatic trends in fact show only greed, corruption, misguided and naïve behaviour not real science.
Velanarris
3.3 / 5 (7) Dec 12, 2008
Even more basic than that, they fail to accurately predict or account for clouds, which are a fundamental aspect of both weather and climate.
Noein
2 / 5 (6) Dec 12, 2008
This article affirms my deep religious faith in global warming denialism. It so clearly proves that CO2 doesn't exist and that humans have no effect on the environment whatsoever. CO2 is just a conspiracy made up by scientists to steal money from me. Carbon taxes! Volcanoes!
GrayMouser
4.6 / 5 (5) Dec 14, 2008
This article affirms my deep religious faith in global warming denialism. It so clearly proves that CO2 doesn't exist and that humans have no effect on the environment whatsoever. CO2 is just a conspiracy made up by scientists to steal money from me. Carbon taxes! Volcanoes!


What it proves is that the oceans are the largest energy moderator on the planet.
barakn
2.2 / 5 (6) Dec 14, 2008
GuruShabu said:
None of the climate models used presently predict "El Niño". Not to mention "La Niña".

http://meteora.uc...ino.html
http://www.bom.go...ma.shtml
http://ddb.kishou...#outlook
http://gmao.gsfc....ndex.cgi
http://www.cpc.nc...TMon.gif
http://www.ecmwf....blic_s3/
And here http://www.ucar.e.../elnino/ we read that "In 1986, a milestone was reached when the El Niño beginning late that year was successfully predicted months in advance by a computer model at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University."
Oh my. Not only do they predict ENSO oscillations, they've been doing so for over 2 decades. Please stop spreading falsehoods.
mikiwud
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 15, 2008
barakn,
I think what GuruShabu should have said is that although El Nino and La Nina can be predicted,this knowledge is not incorporated into IPCC "models" as CO2 is the only driver taken into account or the whole premis of AGW falls down. This also applies to other variables such as Solar.
Nartoon
1 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2009
"the North Pacific's sea surface temperature anomaly pattern has remained strongly negative since last fall. This cool phase will likely persist this winter and, perhaps, beyond."

Huh, the warm phase lasted through the 80's and 90's but the cool phase may persist past this winter? Give me a break!