February 13, 2007

More Bad News about El Nino

World Climate Report has brought you many essays regarding articles in the scientific literature with results that challenge popular perceptions about global warming and El Niño. Don’t look now, but, predictably, this year’s El Niño has brought with it its share of climate change/impact associations. (We wonder what happened to that warm winter that El Niño was thought responsible for?).

You’ve probably read this a dozen times already, but El Niño is related to a warm pool of water forming off the Pacific coast of equatorial South America, and during El Niño periods, Australia suffers from drought and fire, the southern and southwestern United States receive significantly above average winter precipitation, and the United States as a whole has warmer than average winters. The empirical linkage underlying these connections is significant in a statistical sense, but often surprisingly weak as covered many times in World Climate Report.

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October 5, 2006

El Niño is Back

Don’t look now but it appears an El Niño event is brewing-up in the Pacific and by Christmas of this coming year, we could be feeling the effect of this oceanic phenomenon. Imagine the potential here – pictures of floods in the Southwest, avalanches in the Rockies, mudslides in California, fires in Australia, and calamities from throughout the world. Every event will be blamed on El Niño and like clockwork, global warming will get mixed into the story.

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May 4, 2006

Winds of Change?

Big news is coming out of Nature magazine that there has been a weakening of the atmospheric circulation over the tropical Pacific Ocean—and it is caused by anthropogenic changes to the earth’s greenhouse effect (of course). What effect might this have on the climate? According to an AP story, “It’s not clear what climate changes might arise in the area or possibly beyond, but the long-term effect might resemble some aspects of an El Nino event, a study author said.”

Hmmm. This sounds like an open door for anything. To paraphrase “We’re not sure what might happen, so anything bad that does happen anywhere might be related to this. So go for it!”

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March 30, 2005

La Niñas and climate warming

This winter, relentless coastal rains and mountain snows pummeled the Pacific Southwest. Given that the target zone was green Southern California, it’s shocking that the storms were accompanied by little hype about global warming. The reason? Unlike 1998, the last stormy winter, there was no big El Niño in the central Pacific to conflate with global warming. And everyone knows (just ask Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research) there’s got to be a connection between global warming and more frequent and severe El Niños (For Kevin’s philosophy on this, look here).

But is there really a connection between warming and El Niño?
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