Current climate models misrepresent El Nino

December 15, 2015, University of Southern California
The 1997 El Nino seen by TOPEX/Poseidon. Credit: NASA

An analysis of fossil corals and mollusk shells from the Pacific Ocean reveals there is no link between the strength of seasonal differences and El Niño, a complex but irregular climate pattern with large impacts on weather, agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and air quality worldwide.

The finding contradicts the top nine climate models in use today, which associate exceptionally hot summers and with weak El Niños, and vice versa.

"The idea behind this link is based on very well-established physics, so it's appealing to think that nature works this way. But our analysis shows that it's not that simple," said Julien Emile-Geay, lead author of a study contradicting the models and assistant professor of Earth Sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

His study was published on December 14 in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Emile-Geay checked the models against data collected by his coauthors on shells and spanning the Holocene period - the last 10,000 years of Earth's history. The period had similar geography, amounts of ice and levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, making it a good analogue for today's climate.

Because shells form by crystalizing calcium carbonate taken from the surrounding water, they record information about the temperature and salinity of that water. For example, the shells capture the prevalence of various isotopes of oxygen, which vary based on sea-surface temperature.

Analyzing the composition of nearly 60 specimens through their thickness, the team was able to reconstruct a detailed history of climate in the tropical Pacific. The corals and clams were taken from various locations throughout the Pacific Ocean, creating a spatially and time-distributed data set that offered insight into both the amplitude of seasons and the intensity of El Niño via snapshots spanning the past 10,000 years.

He then compared this dataset to the predictions of nine state-of-the-art climate models, and found a mismatch: the models generally fail to simulate lengthy periods of subdued El Niños like the one that occurred 3,000 to 5,000 years ago; the ones that came close did so by relying on an Earth-Sun configuration that ran contrary to observed conditions.

"The causes for prolonged periods of weak El Niño are either beyond the current models, or we're missing an important piece of the puzzle" Emile-Geay said. "This points to deficiencies in the way these models simulate various aspects of tropical Pacific climate, from average conditions, to the march of seasons, to El Niño itself."

Emile-Geay said he hopes his findings will be used to refine climate models further, making them ever more accurate.

"Building is like building a ladder to the Moon," Emile-Geay said. "They are not perfect but they are reaching for the heavens. It's a long process, and one in which the paleoclimate record can teach us a lot about the inner workings of the climate system."

Explore further: UN: This El Nino to be among the strongest since 1950

More information: J. Emile-Geay et al. Links between tropical Pacific seasonal, interannual and orbital variability during the Holocene, Nature Geoscience (2015). DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2608

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cjones1
3.3 / 5 (7) Dec 15, 2015
I am a firm believer that climate models must be compared with climate history before relying on forecasts regarding future climate changes. Understanding as many as possible natural factors and ascertaining the metrics required to reveal the past is crucial to the accuracy of any models seeking to further scientific knowledge.
cantdrive85
2.2 / 5 (13) Dec 15, 2015
The finding contradicts the top nine climate models in use today

Obviously these denialists must be paid goons working for some oil company or something. The science is already settled.
Vietvet
4.4 / 5 (13) Dec 15, 2015
All climate models are tested by hindcasting. If you build a model and it fails to match the past climate record it's back to the drawing board. Only after a climate model is successful at hindcasting is it used for making projections.
SuperThunder
3.3 / 5 (11) Dec 15, 2015
I didn't know Donald Trump was a climate model. El Nino was sent over the border to commit crime!
ForFreeMinds
1.9 / 5 (13) Dec 15, 2015
Governments are investing far too much money into climate research. It seems every third article in phys.org regards research to support government control of energy use to save us from climate change, even though the climate has been changing since the earth came into existence.
antigoracle
1.9 / 5 (13) Dec 15, 2015
Building climate models is like building a ladder to the Moon

Yep, with every rung being an AGW Cult lie.
Dug
1.6 / 5 (15) Dec 15, 2015
I keep reading that the top 26 climate models are in general agreement regarding climate change (though those models did not predict the current hiatus in temperature increases. This article and several recent articles says these models may agree with each other, but they don't agree with past climate change mechanisms - including El Nino and precipitation/heat relationships in general.

Which in a similar vein I found it remarkable that UN climate agreement will seek to hold global temperatures within in 2 degree C of temperatures" before the industrial revolution." No one told these folks that thermometers at the time of the industrial revolution (1760-1840) did good to record temperatures that were +/- 2 degrees from standard and or that commercially produced batches of thermometers would rarely agree within 2 degrees of thermometers in the same batch. Not to mention the sparsity and uneven distribution of weather stations at that time. Clearly the science isn't settled.
wxw
4.4 / 5 (7) Dec 16, 2015
I can see why Emile-Geay is so cautious about his results. He seems to rely entirely on shellfish fossils which may not be an accurate single predictor of climate. I would expect accurate models would use multiple data sources together to increase confidence levels. His results are still useful in building a better master model.
runrig
4.6 / 5 (9) Dec 16, 2015
I keep reading that the top 26 climate models are in general agreement regarding climate change (though those models did not predict the current hiatus in temperature increases.


The slow down (barely) could not have been predicted by the models - at least not in their entirety as the IPCC gives an ensemble forecast - and so the variability is erased.
The ENSO/PDO cycle is impossible to forecast (at the mo) and so CANNOT be incorporated into them correctly.
However the individual GCM's that did by chance have the -ve part of the cycle correct gave excellent results.
http://phys.org/n...sed.html

You do accept that ENSO drives most global atmospheric temp variability?
After all. deniers are currently touting El Nino for the last 2 years of record warmth.
Can't do that my friends without the Yang part of Ying Yang .... La Nina's cool.
At least they used to before we buggered it up with CO2.
Now they just give us a "hiatus"
FFS
runrig
4.6 / 5 (10) Dec 16, 2015
Which in a similar vein I found it remarkable that UN climate agreement will seek to hold global temperatures within in 2 degree C of temperatures" before the industrial revolution." No one told these folks that thermometers at the time of the industrial revolution (1760-1840) did good to record temperatures that were +/- 2 degrees from standard and or that commercially produced batches of thermometers would rarely agree within 2 degrees of thermometers in the same batch. Not to mention the sparsity and uneven distribution of weather stations at that time.

It is DeltaT we are interested in and not T.
A thermometer may be imprecise but it will be consistently imprecise - so you end up with a record of reliable deltaT.
Also the instrumental record matches the paleo record remarkably well.
https://www.youtu...-yvQVLrs

So what's your denialist fall back now....
Oh, yes - the experts are all in collusion for our taxes and to impose world socialism.
FFS
SamB
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 16, 2015
Well, as Richard Feynman once said: If it disagrees with experiment, then keep tweaking your climate model until it does! (or something like that)
antigoracle
1.9 / 5 (9) Dec 16, 2015
A thermometer may be imprecise but it will be consistently imprecise - so you end up with a record of reliable deltaT............
So what's your denialist fall back now....

You should be inquiring about the alarmist go to.
The multi-millions dollar Argo buoys are a precise instrument, specifically designed to measure ocean temperatures, yet their data was adjusted (cooked) up to match the IMPRECISE data from ships. Why?
jeffensley
1.5 / 5 (8) Dec 16, 2015
The idea behind this link is based on very well-established physics, so it's appealing to think that nature works this way. But our analysis shows that it's not that simple,


You don't say?
jeffensley
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 16, 2015
A thermometer may be imprecise but it will be consistently imprecise - so you end up with a record of reliable deltaT.


I'm not sure that's a factual statement.

"During the comparison 0 to 5 and 1 to 3-year-old screens, significant temperature differences were recorded at different times of the day. "

http://onlinelibr...abstract
jeffensley
1 / 5 (5) Dec 17, 2015
I guess giving a poor rating to a simple statement backed by a study citation is easier than discussing the actual study and it's suggestion that even direct measurements aren't as simple as we'd like to think. I'd be interested to know if thermometers themselves degrade over time. That would be difficult to assess seeing as there would be no standard thermometer to compare to. I guess you'd have to use the freezing or boiling point of water.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (6) Dec 17, 2015
I guess giving a poor rating to a simple statement backed by a study citation is easier than discussing the actual study and it's suggestion that even direct measurements aren't as simple as we'd like to think. I'd be interested to know if thermometers themselves degrade over time. That would be difficult to assess seeing as there would be no standard thermometer to compare to. I guess you'd have to use the freezing or boiling point of water.

ANY SKEPTICISM IS FORBIDDEN! THE "SCIENCE IS SETTLED!

This one is for the Cap'n Capslock fans out there.
cantdrive85
1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 20, 2015
This testimony presented in Congress shows that skepticism is in fact forbidden in favor of group think.

https://www.youtu...LcfdovE8

jeffensley
1 / 5 (6) Dec 20, 2015
This testimony presented in Congress shows that skepticism is in fact forbidden in favor of group think.

https://www.youtu...LcfdovE8



Thanks for the link. She illustrates perfectly why those of us skeptical of the certainty with which this uncertain science is treated believe the issue has long left the realm of science and has fully entered the realm of politics. Credibility for science is most definitely on the line.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (4) Dec 20, 2015
Credibility for science is most definitely on the line.
@jeffe @cd et al
only for those who are conspiratorial, religious, delusional, insane or completely out of their minds...

this is what absolutely makes me laugh my butt off...

yall think that there is a worldwide conspiracy (before you whine about that, jeffe... there is only one way to cook the books and not have thousands of refuting papers out there invalidating a claim, and that is to conspire to cook the data)

so... the entire world can't agree on the deliciousness of freakin' "bacon", eating cheese or dairy with meat, or which culture, religion, belief, way of life, skin colour, lifestyle or anything else is the "best" or even "normal"... but somehow they all came together to conspire to defraud the world and create a socialist (whatever) state with a single ruling class...

ROTFLMFAO

yall kill me
[hyperbole]
jeffensley
1 / 5 (4) Dec 21, 2015
Captain, you and your minions never fail to disappoint. That a post beginning with insults and ending with "ROTFLMAO" gets a five-star rating from alarmists speaks volumes. FYI, you don't need conspiracy to create the present day, inflexible climate narrative, you just need human nature. But people do quickly seem to forget the "Climate Gate" emails where in their very own words, scientists illustrate an intent to protect their narrative via obfuscation and concealment.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (4) Dec 21, 2015
absolutely makes me laugh my butt off

So, your head fell off. When you manage to screw it back on, have a gander at AGW Cult "science".
http://wattsupwit...p-to-52/

Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2015
That a post beginning with insults and ending with "ROTFLMAO" gets a five-star rating from alarmists speaks volumes
@jeffe
well, i have tried, time and again, to talk science with you, but you ignore the evidence for the sake of your delusional beliefs - so what do you prefer i do?
you want everyone to believe what you do, but you can't give evidence to support your conclusions... that is BY DEFINITION a delusional belief and "false claim" ( http://www.auburn...ion.html )
you claim
you don't need conspiracy to create the present day, inflexible climate narrative, you just need human nature
and yet you can provide NO empirical evidence supporting your claims
you forget that the whole freakin planet is working in this same science... it is not about "one world order"... it is about validating scientific claims through various means of research and attempting to one up each other in competition
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2015
@jeffe cont'd
...But people do quickly seem to forget the "Climate Gate" emails ...
No... i follow the EVIDENCE... and it said "Though some of the emails can sound damning when quoted out of context, several inquiries have cleared the scientists. The CRU emails do not negate the mountain of evidence for AGW"
you can read the report here: http://www.cce-re...PORT.pdf

multiple other reviews have been done as well... all cleared the scientists of "conspiracy" or wrongdoing
so, not only are you still promoting a false claim (fraud) but this demonstrates your conspiracist ideation as well as delusional fanaticism to an unsubstantiated belief where you seek anything that may be slightly perceived as "confirmation" of your biased beliefs

your circular reasoning is spelled out in smaller words easy for you to read here: http://phys.org/n...ies.html

so, you still have provided no evidence for your claims

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