It's still early yet, but a monster El Nino might be forming in the pacific, and it just might shake up the worlds weather for awhile. Over on the robertscribbler blog is an excellent write up describing the details of a monster Kelvin wave, which sometimes signals the start of an El Nino. Here's what he has to say about the Kelvin wave:
The pool of 4-6+ degree Celsius above average temperatures continues to widen and lengthen, now covering 85 degrees of longitude from 170 East to 105 West. Perhaps more disturbing is the fact that the zone of extreme 6+ C temperature anomalies has both widened and extended, covering about 50 degrees of longitude and swelling to a relative depth of about 30-40 meters. This is an extraordinarily intense temperature extreme that well exceeds those observed during the ramp-up to the record 1997-98 El Nino event.
more below the fold
Lets take a look at some maps created at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
This first image is an image of the temperatures near the surface in a location near the equator and the forecast for the same area.
Now here's what I find pretty fascinating about the above image. Take a look at the map in the far upper right hand corner of the image. That's one of the latest temperature maps and was created for the month of March. See all the red in the center and how it goes to dark brown? Now go down and look at the color scale at the bottom of the image. I believe that's described in technical terms as, OFF THE FREAKIN SCALE!
There's a bunch of models that try to predict El nino events. Lets look at a series of predictions for the last three weeks, with the earliest first.
The above is the model predictions for March 17.
This one is for March 27.
And this last one is from April 6.
Notice how the models were kinda scattered all over the place in the first run, and how they keep kinda bunching up over the next couple of runs? Also notice that last week the predicted sea temperature for the October November December time frame took a pretty big jump over the previous week. I want to emphasize that the further away the models predict, especially in the spring, the bigger chance they could be wrong. But the fact that the models seem to be converging, seems to indicate they might be on to something.
So what? Why should we care about El nino? Well, if you live in the highlands of Peru, you may be facing devastating floods in the not to distant future. And if you live in Southern India, you're going to need all the help you can get from the monsoons that might not come.
Here's what the University of Illinois has to say about some impacts around the world.
Drought in Southern Africa, Southern India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, Southern Peru, Western Bolivia, Mexico, Central America
Heavy rain and flooding in Bolivia, Ecuador, Northern Peru, Cuba, U.S. Gulf States
Hurricanes in Tahiti, Hawaii
The biggest impacts in the U.S. seem to occur in the winter. This year, we had just over 5 feet of snow in the Colorado foothills where I live. That's a pretty normal winter for up here. During the last El Nino 2009-10, we had 23 feet of snow. So here's the winter maps for an "average" El Nino winter for the U.S.
And finally, the link between Global Warming and El Nino. Again from the robertscribbler blog;
For the currently emerging El Nino, all indications point toward it being as strong or stronger than the extraordinarily powerful 1997-98 El Nino, perhaps readying to raise global temperatures by another .15 C or more.
And this from Brian Kahn over at Climatecentral.org
which was written back in January, before any indications of the possible El Nino now forming.
A new study suggests while the overall number of El Niños is unlikely to increase, particularly strong “super” El Niños are likely to occur twice as frequently in a warming world.
So if Global temperatures take a jump this year because a big chunk of heat that was hiding in the ocean decided to come out of hiding and wreak havoc with the worlds weather, you can bet your bottom dollar that the denialists will be out in force and claiming the earth isn't warming, it just your typical El Nino.