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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Getting hotter - much too hot for WUWT

Sou | 5:08 AM Go to the first of 5 comments. Add a comment

It's getting a bit too hot for the deniers at WUWT. Anthony Watts is even disputing a report from the University of Hawaii ‑ SOEST that the oceans this year are the hottest ever recorded.  He's written one of his "claim" headlines, meaning his readers are meant to deny the science (archived here). has carried the report, under some charts provided by Professor Axel Timmermann:

Figure 1: a) NOAA Sea Surface Temperature anomaly (with respect to period 1854-2013) averaged over global oceans (red) and over North Pacific (0-60oN, 110oE-100oW) (cyan). September 2014 temperatures broke the record for both global and North Pacific Sea Surface Temperatures. b) Sea Surface Temperature anomaly of September 2014 from NOAA's ERSST dataset.
This summer has seen the highest global mean sea surface temperatures ever recorded since their systematic measuring started. Temperatures even exceed those of the record-breaking 1998 El Niño year," says Axel Timmermann, climate scientist and professor, studying variability of the global climate system at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
From 2000-2013 the global ocean surface temperature rise paused, in spite of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. This period, referred to as the Global Warming Hiatus, raised a lot of public and scientific interest. However, as of April 2014 ocean warming has picked up speed again, according to Timmermann's analysis of ocean temperature datasets.
"The 2014 global ocean warming is mostly due to the North Pacific, which has warmed far beyond any recorded value and has shifted hurricane tracks, weakened trade winds, and produced coral bleaching in the Hawaiian Islands," explains Timmermann.
He describes the events leading up to this upswing as follows: Sea-surface temperatures started to rise unusually quickly in the extratropical North Pacific already in January 2014. A few months later, in April and May, westerly winds pushed a huge amount of very warm water usually stored in the western Pacific along the equator to the eastern Pacific. This warm water has spread along the North American Pacific coast, releasing into the atmosphere enormous amounts of heat--heat that had been locked up in the Western tropical Pacific for nearly a decade.
"Record-breaking greenhouse gas concentrations and anomalously weak North Pacific summer trade winds, which usually cool the ocean surface, have contributed further to the rise in sea surface temperatures. The warm temperatures now extend in a wide swath from just north of Papua New Guinea to the Gulf of Alaska," says Timmermann.
The current record-breaking temperatures indicate that the 14-year-long pause in ocean warming has come to an end.

I've also plotted HadSST., with the annual global average anomaly, including the average of 2014 to date, which includes October. Look how high it is. It might not stay that high this year. It depends on this month and the next.

Data source: Met Office Hadley Centre

And just out of interest, here's an animation of the sea surface temperature changes over this year, up to a couple of days ago, from NOAA:

Animated from Source: NOAA

You'll recall that UAH reported the equal hottest October on record for the lower troposphere. Now GISTemp has also released the October surface temperature data. October is the equal hottest on in the GISS surface temperature record, with 2005. May, August and September were also the hottest ever on record. And the surface temperature is on track to be the hottest year on record, or close to it. I've plotted the data below, including the average of the year to date for this year.

Data Source: NASA GISS

From the WUWT comments

A lot of the WUWT deniers are obeying Anthony Watts' call to reject the report.

November 14, 2014 at 8:22 am
Timmermann. “The current record-breaking temperatures indicate that the 14-year-long pause in ocean warming has come to an end.”
So a six month uptick is sufficient to call and end to 18 years of no warming?
Can we have some error bars on that claim please?

Ian W decides it's a conspiracy and says:
November 14, 2014 at 8:38 am
As the conference on another Climate Treaty (or whatever euphemism they use) in Paris next year gets closer output like this will increase. Rebuttals will be denied until after the Paris conference. 

David A is wired to deny and seems to think it's getting cold:
November 14, 2014 at 8:44 am
The uptick is not over the land, and is not a record for the year, but a part of the year, and with the fact that SH sea ice near record high, NH snow, near record high, Great lakes ice about 10 F below normal, The ratio of very cold days to very hot days in the US in 2014 (so far) is second highest in a century and
RSS and UAH anomalies about 1/2 of the 1998 anomalies, the claim of hottest year ever is not just pre mature, but simply wrong. 

Salvatore Del Prete says the weaker sun has caused all the warming and it's about to get cold:
November 14, 2014 at 8:44 am
[Removed link] In addition the overall warmth is all related to solar and has nothing to do with GHG’S.
Solar being quite strong from last century up to year 2005 and the ocean responding to this as was to be expected. Going forward and taking into account lag times the ocean temperature trends in all categories will be down in response to a continuation of weak solar conditions going forward.
In addition the atmospheric circulation will continue to display this meridional pattern in response to sub-solar activity. 

jayhd wonders about undersea volcanoes
November 14, 2014 at 9:16 am
Since the heat appears not to be coming from the atmosphere, should we be worried about accelerating underwater volcanic activity? 


  1. Axel Timmerman is keeping things simple for communication purposes, but I'm in agreement with him - the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation does indeed appear to have flipped back to it's positive phase. So we appear to be in for decades of accelerated surface warming.

    A giveaway that this isn't just temporary is the large-scale spin-down of the subtropical ocean gyre in the North Pacific. This hasn't occurred since the last 'climate shift' in the late 1970's. The Aleutian low deepens as the gyre circulation weakens, and that has been observed this year too.

  2. Perhaps someone should tell Greg that when you add the error bars the pause disappears into internal variation.

    1. Waiter! Cancel those error bars. We're leaving.

  3. Figure 1, Chart B shows the eastern pacific being very warm. This certainly correlates with local observations in California. The weather buoy at the mouth of Monterey Bay recorded a record-breaking 67F surface temperature a couple of months ago, with some reports of water temps inside the bay reaching 70F. Temps were warm all summer. Compare this with the typical temps of low- mid-50Fs.

    Risso's dolphins were absent nearly all summer, but seen in SE Alaska further north than ever before in the Eastern Pacific. Long-beaked Common Dolphins, common further south but uncommon in Monterey Bay, have been present in large numbers all summer and are still here in November.

    Likewise, in southern California, observers and fishermen have noticed an intrusion of species normally found further south off the Mexican coast.

    Warmer than 1998 ... and in a year in which we're either hanging on the edge of a weak El Niño, or entering one.

    Interestingly, anchovies - tentatively associated with the cool phase of the PDO, and having bloomed tremendously last fall when temps were still cool - are going gangbusters in the current warm waters, leading to higher than normal numbers of humpback whales in Monterey Bay and apparently a delayed migration for some.

    Anyway, if we're really flipping into a PDO positive phase the next few years here on the Central California coast will be interesting ...

  4. I always enjoy Sou's posts - where does she find the time?!?! Anyway, I had the chance to hear Alex Timmerman give (1/2) of a talk on the warming of the NE Pacific and El Nino, etc., several months ago in Honolulu at our local Science Cafe, a Hawaii Academy of Science-sponsored forum, at a local bistro, for laymen to hear scientists from UH talk about their research. That is if you can pay attention after a good repast with friends and several bottles of wine . Anyway, it's nice to have an update on what he talked about and where the warm water went during the summer of 2014. Funny thing is that the questions centered around why was it so damn hot and humid in Hawaii this summer and was this "Florida-weather" going to last - we could all move to Florida if we wanted hot and humid. This weather just seemed so unusual for us locals - I've lived here for 30+ years. His response was demure and he would not give predictions. However, it did last until a few weeks ago at which time we've moved right into winter weather (no snow, though, not even close). I will not attest to the actual records, but my excellent memory (hahaha!) seems to suggest this was an usually warm, humid summer with few trades and not much "Kona weather" (winds from the SW or W) to explain the heat. But, then again, the 40 days and 40 nights of rain a decade or so ago was unusual, too. But, Alex's data does provide a psychologically satisfying, if not factual, explanation. Aloha.


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