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# Blog - El Nino project (part 2)

Here's a draft of part 2:

It's a sketchy introduction to the - still controversial - physics of the El Niño Southern Oscillation, or ENSO.

Reason: even though we're going to do a lot of data analysis, not modelling, our work will be "blind" if we don't know anything about how the ENSO actually works.

The post after this will dive into the work of Ludescher et al.

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Okay, I've got a draft worth looking at, though I need to add a picture or two.
Comment Source:Okay, I've got a draft worth looking at, though I need to add a picture or two.
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edited June 2014

Okay, I think this post is about done, ready for criticism. I've tried to explain the mechanisms in an intuitive way, but they're complex: if something seems confusing, let me know!

I find the two animated gifs right before the section But why? to be very problematic. They sometimes work and sometimes don't. Sometimes I refresh the page and they stop working. Are they working for you?

Comment Source:Okay, I think this post is about done, ready for criticism. I've tried to explain the mechanisms in an intuitive way, but they're complex: if something seems confusing, let me know! I find the two animated gifs right before the section **But why?** to be very problematic. They sometimes work and sometimes don't. Sometimes I refresh the page and they stop working. Are they working for you?
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They work for me.

Comment Source:They work for me.
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edited June 2014

Thanks. They work for me too, now! I don't get it.

I plan to post this part on Tuesday 24 June, 00:30 am GMT. If anyone has comments, please give them to me!

The next part will be about Ludescher's papers.

Comment Source:Thanks. They work for me too, now! I don't get it. I plan to post this part on Tuesday 24 June, 00:30 am GMT. If anyone has comments, please give them to me! The next part will be about Ludescher's papers.
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edited June 2014

This is really good.

I have a suggestion about making one point more explicit. El Nino means more than warmer temperatures in the East, it involves an overall increase in the mean temperature in the Pacific, right?

If I heard the story from very far away, knowing nothing about the subject before hand, it could sound like the oscillation means that the warm temperatures move from one side to the other, but the average stays the same. But it's the asymmetry that ends up leading to an overall increase in temperature in the Pacific, because during La Nina there is cold water rising from beneath the surface in the East, and during El Nino there is just less cold water rising from beneath the surface there. Since in both cases the winds continue to move from East to West, that means there is never a condition where there is a substantial current of cold water is rising to the surface in the West, right? This asymmetry explains why the cycle involves changes in overall mean temperature.

Comment Source:This is really good. I have a suggestion about making one point more explicit. El Nino means more than warmer temperatures in the East, it involves an overall increase in the mean temperature in the Pacific, right? If I heard the story from very far away, knowing nothing about the subject before hand, it could sound like the oscillation means that the warm temperatures move from one side to the other, but the average stays the same. But it's the asymmetry that ends up leading to an overall increase in temperature in the Pacific, because during La Nina there is cold water rising from beneath the surface in the East, and during El Nino there is just less cold water rising from beneath the surface there. Since in both cases the winds continue to move from East to West, that means there is never a condition where there is a substantial current of cold water is rising to the surface in the West, right? This asymmetry explains why the cycle involves changes in overall mean temperature.
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edited June 2014

Also, you had said that there is a lot of heat trapped in the oceans, which gets released during El Nino. But isn't it rather the case that the rising of cold water reflects a net transfer of heat downward to the ocean depths, and during El Nino this "conduit" is reduced, thereby causing the surface to capture a larger share of the incoming solar energy?

Comment Source:Also, you had said that there is a lot of heat trapped in the oceans, which gets released during El Nino. But isn't it rather the case that the rising of cold water reflects a net transfer of heat downward to the ocean depths, and during El Nino this "conduit" is reduced, thereby causing the surface to capture a larger share of the incoming solar energy?
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edited June 2014

Minor suggestion, here is an idea for a sentence that could make the description more vivid at one point.

The piling up of warm water in the West raises the temperature of the air, which then rises.

New: This lowers the pressure, thereby causing an inflow of air from all directions. The effect of the inflow from the East is to increase the trade winds, which are already flowing from East to West.

Comment Source:Minor suggestion, here is an idea for a sentence that could make the description more vivid at one point. The piling up of warm water in the West raises the temperature of the air, which then rises. New: This lowers the pressure, thereby causing an inflow of air from all directions. The effect of the inflow from the East is to increase the trade winds, which are already flowing from East to West.
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edited June 2014

David wrote:

El Nino means more than warmer temperatures in the East, it involves an overall increase in the mean temperature in the Pacific, right?

I'll assume by "Pacific" you mean "Pacific ocean".

I don't think so: that would violate conservation of energy unless energy were going into the Pacific ocean. In fact, energy tends to come out of the Pacific ocean and go into the atmosphere during an El Niño: that's why we see global average surface air temperatures like this:

On the other hand, maybe by "Pacific" you didn't mean the ocean, but rather the air in the Pacific region? Then I believe you are right.

Comment Source:David wrote: > El Nino means more than warmer temperatures in the East, it involves an overall increase in the mean temperature in the Pacific, right? I'll assume by "Pacific" you mean "Pacific ocean". I don't think so: that would violate conservation of energy unless energy were going into the Pacific ocean. In fact, energy tends to come _out_ of the Pacific ocean and go into the atmosphere during an El Ni&ntilde;o: that's why we see global average surface air temperatures like this: <a href = "http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Enso-global-temp-anomalies.png"> <img src = "http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/ecological/el_nino/ENSO-global-temp-anomalies.png" alt = ""/> </a> On the other hand, maybe by "Pacific" you didn't mean the ocean, but rather the air in the Pacific region? Then I believe you are right.
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edited June 2014

David wrote:

Also, you had said that there is a lot of heat trapped in the oceans, which gets released during El Nino. But isn’t it rather the case that the rising of cold water reflects a net transfer of heat downward to the ocean depths, and during El Nino this “conduit” is reduced, thereby causing the surface to capture a larger share of the incoming solar energy?

Your questions are interesting; they're making me think. But this question is a bit confusing.

During this era of global warming there's on average a net flow of heat from the atmosphere to the ocean, for the obvious reason: the atmosphere heats up faster and then it helps heat the ocean. So one question is whether this transfer of heat from atmosphere to ocean slows down or actually reverses during El Niño. I was claiming it actually reverses: that heat in the oceans is released into the atmosphere during El Niño.

At first I thought you were questioning this. But now it seems you're asking about something else: something about the surface layer of the ocean capturing more heat than the depths during El Niño. This is a logically independent issue than what I was talking about, right?

Anyway, I think what I said is true. Here's a tiny bit of evidence:

The global weather altering event that is El Nino again took a step forward this week as temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific continued to rise, today hitting values of +0.78 C above the 1979 to 2000 average. An impressive climb adding to already warm readings which, since late May, have ranged between +0.6 and +0.68 C. It’s a strong rise that continues to show progress toward El Nino, increasing ocean-to-atmosphere heat transfer, and raising the likelihood that 2014 may break the all-time global high temperature records last set in 2010.

This is from:

not the most authoritative source, but perhaps okay.

Comment Source:David wrote: > Also, you had said that there is a lot of heat trapped in the oceans, which gets released during El Nino. But isn’t it rather the case that the rising of cold water reflects a net transfer of heat downward to the ocean depths, and during El Nino this “conduit” is reduced, thereby causing the surface to capture a larger share of the incoming solar energy? Your questions are interesting; they're making me think. But this question is a bit confusing. During this era of global warming there's on average a net flow of heat from the atmosphere to the ocean, for the obvious reason: the atmosphere heats up faster and then it helps heat the ocean. So one question is whether this transfer of heat from atmosphere to ocean _slows down_ or actually _reverses_ during El Ni&ntilde;o. I was claiming it actually reverses: that heat in the oceans is released into the atmosphere during El Ni&ntilde;o. At first I thought you were questioning this. But now it seems you're asking about something else: something about the surface layer of the ocean capturing more heat than the depths during El Ni&ntilde;o. This is a logically independent issue than what I was talking about, right? Anyway, I think what I said is true. Here's a tiny bit of evidence: > The global weather altering event that is El Nino again took a step forward this week as temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific continued to rise, today hitting values of +0.78 C above the 1979 to 2000 average. An impressive climb adding to already warm readings which, since late May, have ranged between +0.6 and +0.68 C. It’s a strong rise that continues to show progress toward El Nino, increasing ocean-to-atmosphere heat transfer, and raising the likelihood that 2014 may break the all-time global high temperature records last set in 2010. This is from: * 'Robert Scribbler', [Extreme eastern Pacific sea surface temperature spike looking a lot like El Ni&ntilde;o](http://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/extreme-eastern-pacific-sea-surface-temperature-spike-looking-a-lot-like-el-nino/), 20 June 2014. not the most authoritative source, but perhaps okay.
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So one question is whether this transfer of heat from atmosphere to ocean slows down or actually reverses during El Niño. So one question is whether this transfer of heat from atmosphere to ocean slows down or actually reverses during El Niño.

Actually I am not sure wether there is a big correlation between temperature and El Nino's by glancing at the curves it "looks" as if (air surface) temperature goes both up and down during El Nino's, -if you want a trend then I'd say it goes very slightly down. I implemented the El Nino's now into the curvature diagram, I did there. I find those trends are better visible there, so what I see is:

In 1958,1966,1992, 1998, 2010 slightly down 1969, 1987, rather up 1983,1995, 2003 no clear trend with sometimes slight inclination to down

but one should also look at volcano's. John - since I implemented the El Nino values, I would need to know the source of this above El Nino diagram which is at: http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/ecological/el_nino/ENSO-global-temp-anomalies.png

Comment Source:>So one question is whether this transfer of heat from atmosphere to ocean slows down or actually reverses during El Niño. So one question is whether this transfer of heat from atmosphere to ocean slows down or actually reverses during El Niño. Actually I am not sure wether there is a big correlation between temperature and El Nino's by glancing at the curves it "looks" as if (air surface) temperature goes both up and down during El Nino's, -if you want a trend then I'd say it goes very slightly down. I implemented the El Nino's now into the curvature diagram, I did <a href="http://www.azimuthproject.org/azimuth/show/Does+global+warming+lag+or+lead+a+rise+in+greenhouse+gas+concentration%3F">there</a>. I find those trends are better visible there, so what I see is: In 1958,1966,1992, 1998, 2010 slightly down 1969, 1987, rather up 1983,1995, 2003 no clear trend with sometimes slight inclination to down but one should also look at volcano's. John - since I implemented the El Nino values, I would need to know the source of this above El Nino diagram which is at: http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/ecological/el_nino/ENSO-global-temp-anomalies.png
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edited June 2014

John - since I implemented the El Nino values, I would need to know the source of this above El Nino diagram which is at: http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/ecological/el_nino/ENSO-global-temp-anomalies.png

I got it here.

Usually if you click on my pictures you get taken to their source. This time I got lazy and didn't make a clickable link since I'd already done so for the same picture on El Niño Project (Part 1). But now I've done it.

Comment Source:Nad wrote: > John - since I implemented the El Nino values, I would need to know the source of this above El Nino diagram which is at: http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/ecological/el_nino/ENSO-global-temp-anomalies.png I got it [here](http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Enso-global-temp-anomalies.png). Usually if you click on my pictures you get taken to their source. This time I got lazy and didn't make a clickable link since I'd already done so for the same picture on [El Ni&ntilde;o Project (Part 1)](http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/el-nio-project-part-1). But now I've done it.
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edited June 2014

I got it here.

thanks.

This time I got lazy and didn’t make a clickable link since I’d already done so for the same picture on El Niño Project (Part 1).

I remembered that I had seen the image before and that I had intended to write down the source....but couldn't quite remember where.....

By the way: the air surface temperatures I was talking above are precisely: global Combined land [CRUTEM4] and marine [sea surface temperature (SST)] anomalies from HadSST3 http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/ to be precise: I don't know whether sea surface temperature is measured by measuring the air on the surface or the water itself so may be it is not strictly "air temperature". Where I hope that I remember correctly that land temperature was measured by measuring the air above it. ?

Comment Source:>I got it here. thanks. >This time I got lazy and didn’t make a clickable link since I’d already done so for the same picture on El Niño Project (Part 1). I remembered that I had seen the image before and that I had intended to write down the source....but couldn't quite remember where..... By the way: the air surface temperatures I was talking above are precisely: global Combined land [CRUTEM4] and marine [sea surface temperature (SST)] anomalies from HadSST3 <a href="http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/">http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/</a> to be precise: I don't know whether sea surface temperature is measured by measuring the air on the surface or the water itself so may be it is not strictly "air temperature". Where I hope that I remember correctly that land temperature was measured by measuring the air above it. ?
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edited June 2014

I don't know how "sea surface temperature" is measured, and I've been curious. Let me find out:

It's measured in the water. In particular:

Between 1985 and 1994, an extensive array of moored and drifting buoys was deployed across the equatorial Pacific Ocean designed to help monitor and predict the El Niño phenomenon.

Comment Source:I don't know how "sea surface temperature" is measured, and I've been curious. Let me find out: * [Sea surface temperature: measurement](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_surface_temperature#Measurement), Wikipedia. It's measured in the water. In particular: > Between 1985 and 1994, an extensive array of moored and drifting buoys was deployed across the equatorial Pacific Ocean designed to help monitor and predict the El Niño phenomenon.
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It’s measured in the water.

thanks for the link, however upon further reading it seems water measurements are not the only measurement method:

Weather satellites have been available to determine sea surface temperature information since 1967, with the first global composites created during 1970.[9] Since 1982,[10] satellites have been increasingly utilized to measure SST and have allowed its spatial and temporal variation to be viewed more fully.

it seems satellites are also used increasingly for measuring land temperatures.

Comment Source:>It’s measured in the water. thanks for the link, however upon further reading it seems water measurements are <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_surface_temperature#Weather_satellites">not the only measurement method:</a> >Weather satellites have been available to determine sea surface temperature information since 1967, with the first global composites created during 1970.[9] Since 1982,[10] satellites have been increasingly utilized to measure SST and have allowed its spatial and temporal variation to be viewed more fully. it seems satellites are also used increasingly for measuring land temperatures.
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edited June 2014

Okay. The TAO/TRITON data, important for El Niño, comes from 70 devices anchored to the floor of the Pacific Ocean. These measure winds, sea surface temperature, relative humidity, air temperature, and subsurface temperature at 10 depths in the upper 500 meters. All this information is sent in real time to the Argos System - six satellites that follow polar orbits at an altitude of about 850 kilometers, 50 receiving stations on the ground, and two data processing centers. This has been going on since 1985.

Comment Source:Okay. The [TAO/TRITON data](http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/tao/jsdisplay/), important for El Ni&ntilde;o, comes from 70 devices anchored to the floor of the Pacific Ocean. These measure winds, sea surface temperature, relative humidity, air temperature, and subsurface temperature at 10 depths in the upper 500 meters. All this information is sent in real time to the Argos System - six satellites that follow polar orbits at an altitude of about 850 kilometers, 50 receiving stations on the ground, and two data processing centers. This has been going on since 1985.
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All this information is sent in real time to the Argos System

It seems there are also wether satellites. From wikipedia:

The satellite measurement is made by sensing the ocean radiation in two or more wavelengths within the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum or other parts of the spectrum which can then be empirically related to SST.

I have though some doubts about the preciseness of those versus a real temperature measurement. So the TAO/TRITON shouldn't be replaced by those. Those weather satellites may seem to make though a could supplement for cross-checking.

This has been going on since 1985.

quite impressing. And quite costly to maintain as it seems, Nature writes:

Those charters have failed to keep pace with the rigorous maintenance requirements, however, and the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) array has partially collapsed as a result (see Nature http://doi.org/q72; 2014). The upshot is that, to save a few million dollars, NOAA has left the world partially blind to a phenomenon that can cause tens of billions of dollars in damage.

Comment Source:>All this information is sent in real time to the Argos System It seems there are also wether satellites. From <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_surface_temperature#Weather_satellites">wikipedia:</a> >The satellite measurement is made by sensing the ocean radiation in two or more wavelengths within the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum or other parts of the spectrum which can then be empirically related to SST. I have though some doubts about the preciseness of those versus a real temperature measurement. So the TAO/TRITON shouldn't be replaced by those. Those weather satellites may seem to make though a could supplement for cross-checking. >This has been going on since 1985. quite impressing. And quite costly to maintain as it seems, <a href="http://www.nature.com/news/support-our-buoys-1.14594">Nature writes:</a> >Those charters have failed to keep pace with the rigorous maintenance requirements, however, and the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) array has partially collapsed as a result (see Nature http://doi.org/q72; 2014). The upshot is that, to save a few million dollars, NOAA has left the world partially blind to a phenomenon that can cause tens of billions of dollars in damage.
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edited June 2014

Cool! Yes, in the US we read how Republicans fight against funding any science that might give evidence of climate change. This could be why the TAO array has partially collapsed. I doubt the scientists at NOAA want this.

By the way, Nad, wether and sofar are not words in English. In German "question words" like wie, was and_wo_ don't have the letter h after the letter w, but in English they all do. So, we have words like what, why, when... and whether. I keep editing your stuff and changing wether to whether.

On the other hand, this time I want to change it to weather. Wetter in German corresponds to weather in English.

Sofar should be so far.

Comment Source:Cool! Yes, in the US we read how Republicans fight against funding any science that might give evidence of climate change. This could be why the TAO array has partially collapsed. I doubt the scientists at NOAA want this. By the way, Nad, **wether** and **sofar** are not words in English. In German "question words" like _wie_, _was_ and_wo_ don't have the letter h after the letter w, but in English they all do. So, we have words like _what_, _why_, _when_... and _whether_. I keep editing your stuff and changing **wether** to _whether_. On the other hand, this time I want to change it to _weather_. _Wetter_ in German corresponds to _weather_ in English. **Sofar** should be **so far**.