El Niño Energizes Climate-Change Consequences

November 16, 2015

World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud in a press conference today (Scientific American):

“However, this event is playing out in uncharted territory. Our planet has altered dramatically because of climate change, the general trend towards a warmer global ocean, the loss of Arctic sea ice and of over a million sq km of summer snow cover in the northern hemisphere,” Jarraud said.
“So this naturally occurring El Niño event and human-induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways which we have never before experienced.
“Even before the onset of El Niño, global average surface temperatures had reached new records. El Niño is turning up the heat even further.”

CC_El_NinoWarmth not this afternoon on California’s north coast, overcast darker and darker with a goodly-sized rainstorm drenching our way sometime supposedly later this evening.
And way-chilly this morning, but as the rain approaches, the temperatures climb, which is about-normal, sometimes.

Weather is a hard subject, and like a successful restaurant, location is key. Here this close to the shoreline, there’s a shitload of variables, and a shift in a particular weather situation can happened really quickly — when I arrived in Humboldt eight years ago one local saying was heard often: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes…”

(Illustration above: El Niño last August, via NOAA, found here).

Or travel a mile or so eastward. Sometimes a major weather shift in a short space, especially in cold vs heat — heavy frost inland, freezing temperatures, while we on the coast are warmer, still cold-as-shit, but not as cold-as-way-shit as the interior.
Even already, just keeping tabs with the NWS it appears the storms are increasing in frequency, though, yet with any ferocity, at least along this little section of territory.

And almost short of paranoia, I also sense an extra-ordinary winter a-coming, so prepare thy-selves and, ‘“…Hold on your butts!”

Additional heat to an already heating stove — Dr. Jeff Masters at WunderBlog this morning and the special, “super” El Niño:

Incredibly warm waters continue to build across the equatorial Pacific, and the El Niño event of 2015 has just set a record for the warmest waters ever observed in the equatorial Pacific over a 1-week period.
Sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Pacific’s Niño3.4 region, between 90°W and 160°E longitude and 5° north/south latitude, are considered the benchmark for rating the strength of an El Niño event.
The weekly departure of SST from average in this region hit +3.0°C (5.4°F) over the past week, NOAA announced in their November 16 El Niño update.

And in a less-disastrous, optimistic tone:

El Niño can’t get much stronger than it is now, though, since there simply isn’t enough warm water available in the Western Pacific to transport to the Eastern Pacific; wunderblogger Steve Gregory speculated in his Friday post that El Niño may now be peaking, and will begin a slow decline over the the next three months.
Even so, El Niño will decline only gradually, and we can expect significant global impacts on weather during the coming winter.

In a related subject from last week, meteorologist Eric Holthaus at Slate put together an interesting piece of climate-into-weather situations coming together recently — some points:

Over the past few days, a bevy of climate data has come together to tell a familiar yet shocking story: Humans have profoundly altered the planet’s life-support system, with 2015 increasingly likely to be an exclamation point on recent trends.
On Monday, scientists at Britain’s national weather service, the Met Office, said our planet will finish this year more than one degree Celsius warmer than preindustrial levels for the first time.

Separate data released on Monday by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed the current El Niño, a periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean, has now tied 1997 for the strongest event ever measured, at least on a weekly basis.

If that wasn’t enough, the World Meteorological Organization, a division of the United Nations, also confirmed on Monday that global carbon dioxide levels reached a new record high in 2014—for the 30th consecutive year…Since our carbon dioxide emissions have a lifespan of a hundred years or so, there’s a significant lag in this process—temperatures will keep rising for decades even if all human emissions ceased today.

That means not only will 2015 end up as the planet’s warmest year in millennia — and probably since the invention of agriculture more than 10,000 years ago — but that there’s a lot more warming that’s already baked into the global climate system.

Stomping on the brakes…

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