Saturday, February 20, 2016

Conspiracy theorising deniers at WUWT are waiting, hoping for a La Niña

Sou | 3:43 PM Go to the first of 6 comments. Add a comment
The current El Niño is still going and will continue for a while yet. Science deniers are hoping against hope there will be a La Niña later this year. Anthony Watts has posted an article where he says that one source predicts a La Niña (archived here). I don't know why he wants one. He lives in California, which is suffering extreme drought. A La Niña could well exacerbate the drought. Anyway, you'd think they'd all be very glad of this current El Niño. It may allow them in a few years to start claiming that "it hasn't warmed since 2016".

I won't make a prediction, but here are a couple of charts and some indications from more experienced sources. Australia's Bureau of Meteorology states (archived here):
Based on the 26 El Niño events since 1900, around 50% have been followed by a neutral year, and 40% have been followed by La Niña. International climate models suggest neutral is most likely for the second half of the year. However, La Niña in 2016 cannot be ruled out, and a repeat El Niño appears unlikely.

Below is the latest BoM chart of the model outlook through to the end of the year. The blue shaded area is La Niña territory.

NOAA in its ENSO reports only has a prediction from January so far. This is what it shows for NINO region 3.4:

[Added a bit later:] You'll notice the NOAA chart includes dynamical and statistical model forecasts:
  • Dynamical models are based on mathematical equations combined with current observations
  • Statistical models are simpler, they just use past observations to predict the future. 
Added by Sou at 7:45 pm 20 February 2016 AEDT

So according to BoM and NOAA, there are a couple of models that suggest a La Niña may develop later in the year, most indicate that the Pacific will shift to neutral territory and remain there through to the end of 2016. (Notice the spread. In the BoM chart there is one model that shows El Niño lasting right through to October.)

Experimental model prediction

Anthony put up the chart below and wrote:
New NOAA forecast suggests current El Niño will fade fast, and be replaced by a strong cooling La Niña this year
Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. directs me to this new forecast product from NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL). If it holds, it suggests a big cooling event ahead.

The "fading fast" is in the eye of the beholder. El Niño events typically go from around May of the first year to March of the following year. So it would be fading as expected, or even more slowly, rather than particularly fast.

Here is the chart Anthony posted, which I copied from the NOAA website. The NOAA website describes it as "Experimental NOAA/ESRL PSD and CU CIRES Forecast in Global Tropics Domain" and asks that it be referenced as:
LIM SST Anomalies Forecast data provided by the NOAA/ESRL Physical Science Division and CIRES CU, Boulder, Colorado, from their website at http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/

Well, I had a look but couldn't easily work out the predicted temperature anomalies just from the charts, so I went to the data (archived here), which NOAA kindly provided. For the NINO 3.4 region at the equator, the current measures are reported as having an anomaly of more than 3 C. When I scrolled down to see what temperature anomalies are predicted toward the end of the year I found:
  • nine months out, minus 1.35 C was the coldest at 125W at the equator
  • 12 months out, minus 1.25 C was the coldest at 125W at the equator

If you compare those numbers with the BoM chart above, which is using the same baseline period, you can see that it would rate as a La Niña, though not as strong as 2010-11. I don't think the numbers are strictly comparable, however, even though they use the same baseline period. The regions wouldn't line up precisely for one thing.

I'll wait to see what happens. Bear in mind that ENSO events aren't the only things that affect global surface temperature. As I showed a few days ago, the Arctic has been extremely hot lately. (I don't know to what extent this is influenced by the tropics via teleconnections.)

How the El Niño is tracking compared to past events

Below is a chart showing how global mean surface temperatures are tracking this year compared to the years of past El Niño events of 1997/98 and 2009/10, using data from GISTemp. The pink shaded area is the typical period of El Niño.

From the WUWT comments

There was the usual nuttery from the WUWT conspiracy theorists, most speculating that the global mean surface temperature will fall in the future, and maybe an ice age will cometh. It is so weird that they still cannot see or accept what has been happening for the last few decades. It's a display of wishful thinking while ignoring and in some cases disputing what is happening to the world:

Roy Denio can't tell up from down and wrote:
February 19, 2016 at 11:02 am
“New NOAA forecast suggests current El Niño will fade fast, and be replaced by a strong cooling La Niña this year
Well that is one way to help cover a natural cooling trend.
This is what's been happening to global mean surface temperature - it's getting hotter.

Bryan A is anticipating a La Niña developing this year, but thinks it will be the second warmest:
February 19, 2016 at 12:26 pm
It will probably be touted as the Second Warmest La Niña this century

If he's referring to global mean surface temperatures, that would make next year (if that's what he's referring to) cooler than 2012 and quite a bit cooler than last year.

Stephen Rasey asked if a La Niña means another Texas drought:
February 19, 2016 at 11:11 am
So, should Texas get ready for a late 2016-early 2017 drought?
So soon, again?

rishrac wonders how a La Niña will be spun. He or she is a regular WUWT conspiracy theorist:
February 19, 2016 at 11:17 am
Yea, we will wait and see. Yep, it’s probably just coincidence, the sun in a quite stage and an la Nina. If it does get colder, officially, I wonder what kind of spin they can throw on this to keep up the urgency of CAGW. I’m impressed by the sheer number and innovative explanations so far. And the impressive feat of contradicting themselves as if it never happened. .. I know! I know! ” this is to be expected that colder weather could occur, but not so fast….. warming is still continuing” . 

Walt D. is just being silly with his "mini-ice age", but no sillier than anyone else at WUWT:
February 19, 2016 at 11:21 am
If global cooling occurs, they will still say it is climate change due to CO2 emissions. If we go into a mini ice age it will still be climate change caused by CO2 emissions. 

Jim Watson is another "ice age comether". Doesn't he know that even if there were a La Niña, the predicted anomaly in the NINO 3.4 region using Anthony's NOAA modeled prediction is less than minus 1.4C, whereas the current sea surface temperature in the same region, using the same data, is more than plus 3.3 C. And that's only one region on the planet:
February 19, 2016 at 11:24 am
The earth has just burped up an awful lot of heat in the form of El Nino and there’s nothing to replace it with, especially given the sun’s lackluster performance of late.
I’d say we’re in for a big cooling period, maybe even a MLIA (Modern Little Ice Age).

commieBob wonders if in the medium term temperatures will fall:
February 19, 2016 at 11:24 am
Actually, I’m more interested in what follows La Nina. The 1998 El Nino/La Nina was followed by an upward step change in temperature.
We could have no change, upward step, or downward step. If the alarmists were discomforted by ‘The Pause’, they would be downright apoplectic about a downward step. Of course, we won’t really know the result for a few years. 

emsnews seems convinced that the earth is about to cool. He or she doesn't mention that the sun has been sending less energy our way for a while now, and it's not stopped the surface temperature from rising, a lot.
February 19, 2016 at 4:41 pm
There will be no step upwards. We are entering a global cooling cycle since all cycles are caused by the sun and can be tracked via observing sun spot activity. 

Tom is getting the message that you can't pick a super-El Niño as the start year and try to claim that it's not warming. He doesn't like the message, but he has received it.
February 19, 2016 at 11:36 am
The CAGW crowd will update the same excuse they’ve been using for flat temperatures after 1998. “If you say it’s cooling you’re cherry picking because 2015 was an el Nino year”. Repeat until the *next* big el Nino. 

Quite a few people have received Anthony's message that NOAA is not to be trusted. They haven't got his message that it can be trusted some of the time, when it predicts what he wants it to predict. There's a selective trust operating at WUWT.

John Robertson is totally distrustful in true conspiracy theorising fashion ("something must be wrong" and "nefarious intent"), and wonders about the warming in the Arctic:
February 19, 2016 at 12:15 pm
i will wait and see.
NOAA is not high on my “trusted source of information” list just now.
What will their forecast be next week?
I am fascinated by the “unprecedented warming” of the high arctic.
Does anyone know how this is measured?

tadchem wants to believe Anthony Watts, but doubts it. Not because he or she has looked at other modeled predictions, but because he or she thinks NOAA is part of a global conspiracy:
February 19, 2016 at 12:15 pm
I really WANT to believe that El Nino will yield to La Nina soon, but given the source of this report, you may forgive me for having my doubts. 

Mark is also typical of the conspiracy theorising crowd at WUWT and writes a mixed up "thought":
February 19, 2016 at 12:47 pm
So NOAA attempted to magic el nino out of the picture when going with land only temps
Now they will trumpet La Nina cooling to assure us CAGW is on track and this is just an isolated event not related. 

Steve Fraser can't understand anomalies and baselines:
February 19, 2016 at 3:05 pm
Hmmm…. I wonder if they are trying to prove that they can at least forecast this.
However, since they are continually moving the 30-year average uses for the anomaly baseline, I wonder…. 

Just Some Guy weirdly thinks that a La Niña will prove "alarmists" wrong. Goodness knows why. Does that mean he doesn't think NOAA is "alarmist"? Does that mean he doesn't think that the climate scientists who told him about ENSO events are "alarmist"? Maybe heaven knows because I don't.
February 19, 2016 at 4:40 pm
I’m not gonna lie. I really hope there’s a strong La Nina followed by and either years of cooling or extension of the “Pause”.
I hope this for no reason other than I enjoy watching the alarmists squirm when they are proven wrong. 

Louis is a conspiracy theorist through and through and wonders if the global mean surface temperatures will be fudged. Does he know Anthony's prediction is from NOAA? If NOAA was going to fudge surface temperature, why would it signal the possibility of a La Niña? Why not fudge the prediction, too? And that's just part of the problem with his convoluted "thought".
February 19, 2016 at 5:51 pm
If a strong cooling La Niña does occur, will they report temperatures as they are? Or will they adjust the temperature record upward to compensate so they don’t have to explain the lack of warming? I fear they’ll do the latter because they can always correct the data in a few years when they need to cool the past to make the present appear warmer. They’ve gotten away with it so far, so why wouldn’t they continue down that road? 


  1. In addition to documenting and exploding the nonsense of the denieratti (people like Watts and Monckton, who are evangelists of denierism), it is also valuable to document and explore the effect upon the denialsphere (a subset of whom comment at WUWT).

    This is grist for a study of -- or at least, an awareness of -- the effects of the denial cult upon its victims/followers. That's one of the many reasons I read HW. Sou, you have a gift for identifying and preserving for posterity the madness that is denierism.

  2. An ice age that is always just about to appear despite no known mechanism for its existence. That is religious belief.

  3. Historically, strong El Niños -- and this is a strong one -- do tend to be followed by La Niñas. Look at the 1971-72, 1982-83, and 1997-98 events, the three strongest prior to the current event.

    Admittedly that's not much of a sample size in a statistical sense and cooling after the 1982-83 event was borderline. But I suspect there may be dynamical reasons for this, perhaps related to large oceanic mass transport in the strong Kelvin waves associated with those events.

    Also relevant, the spring predictability barrier is currently in play. (That's Northern Hemisphere spring, btw.) There's less confidence in both dynamical and statistical models now than there will be in a couple of months.

    After my second cup of coffee I might try to look for some references...

  4. "Anthony Watts has posted an article where he says that one source predicts a La Niña .... I don't know why he wants one."

    He wants one because WUWT has come up with the theory that El Niño and La Niña are the only things that cause major global temperature changes. According to them, the Earth sometimes warms for a year or so due to an El Niño, then it will shortly cool again due to a La Niña, and the net effect is that nothing changes long term. So if a La Niña does happen later this year, they will claim that vindicates their theory.

    They also hope the coming La Niña will cool the Earth back to c. 2013 levels, thus also proving there is no long-term upward trend in temperature.

    Finally, they're resigned to Monckton's fraudulent "pause" vanishing in a puff of hot air. But they're hoping a strong La Niña will bring it back.

    "Bear in mind that ENSO events aren't the only things that affect global surface temperature."

    Not to WUWTiots. Well, maybe The Blob is also affecting global surface temperatures, but La Niña and El Niño are, in their "minds", the major drivers. The =only= major drivers.

    1. If things stay relatively warm this year and next, expect a return of the ratchet effect and much talk of step changes. Don't expect much discussion of actual mechanisms of course ... slapping truthy-sounding labels borrowed from engineering fields on them seems to be sufficient.


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