Chances of a western north America megadrought of an intensity not seen since before the arrival of European explorers just went up. The largest surge of heat ever recorded moving west to east in the Pacific ocean along the equator just dissipated heating the planet to the warmest 3 months in history, but failing to produce an El Nino. Strong El Nino events intensify the jet stream across the Pacific, bringing rain to California and the southwestern U.S. Although a number of climate models still predict an El Nino, the chance of a drought breaking strong El Nino has gone way down with the passing of this huge Kelvin wave.
An enormous Kelvin wave, the strongest surge of heat ever recorded crossing the equatorial Pacific ocean failed to start an El Nino as the heat moved off the equator.
One hundred percent of California is in severe or worse drought. The failure of this Kelvin wave to trigger a strong El Nino means that there is no end in sight to this drought. The liklihood of drought worsening across the southwestern U.S. has gone up because a strong El Nino would likely bring rains from California to Texas. Instead of a warm tropical Pacific pulling the jet stream down, warm water in the subtropics and temperate zones has pushed north in the northern hemisphere. This movement of heat will tend to move the jet stream poleward, leaving California and the southwest in drought.
100% of California is in severe (yellow orange), extreme (red orange) or exceptional (dark red) drought.
Global ocean temperatures were the highest ever measured for June. According to NOAA the global sea surface temperature anomaly was the highest in history.
At the end of July the oceans continue to be very hot and the temperature anomaly may be even higher.
Heat from the largest Kelvin wave ever seen along the equator in the Pacific ocean has moved poleward, heating the subtropical and temperate Pacific waters.
For the ocean, the June global sea surface temperature was record warm, at 0.64°C (1.15°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C (61.5°F). This marks the first time that the monthly global ocean temperature anomaly was higher than 0.60°C (1.08°F) and surpasses the previous all-time record for any month by 0.05°C (0.09°F); the previous record of +0.59°C (1.06°F) was first set in June 1998 and tied in October 2003, July 2009, and just last month in May 2014. Similar to May, scattered sections across every major ocean basin were record warm. Notably, large parts of the western equatorial and northeastern Pacific Ocean and nearly all of the Indian Ocean were record warm or much warmer than average for the month.
Stronger than normal winds in the eastern Pacific near south America from 20April 2014 to 20July 2014 blew heat off of the equator and the coast of South America towards an area east of New Zealand.
All the heat that built up in the equatorial Pacific in the Kelvin wave was blown away from the equator by stronger than normal winds in the southern hemisphere. The strong winds may be part of a natural weather cycle in the southern hemisphere but anthropogenic climate change may be having an effect. Deepwater formation around Antarctica has declined in response to freshening waters caused by massive melting of Antarctic glaciers. Therefore, less warm water is flowing near the surface towards Antarctica. Coastal Antarctica has been colder than normal this winter while warm water has heated up in the temperate waters from Australia to south America. Winds and currents have sped up as this ring around Antarctica has tightened up. Interaction of these strengthening westerly winds and with the high Andes barrier in south America has intensified the trade winds and the cold Humboldt current that runs along the coast of south America. Warm water has been pushed by the winds, currents and weather into a huge pool east of New Zealand. The pool has so much heat that sea level has risen about 4 inches above normal over an area of the Pacific ocean the size of the United States according to NOAA's GODAS model.
The global oceans are stunningly warm now, smashing previous records for anomalous heat.
June 2014 was the warmest June on record globally. Global warming never paused. The oceans are continuing to take up extraordinary amounts of heat.
The implications for California and the southwest are dire. The largest Kelvin wave ever seen in the equatorial Pacific was apparently consumed by an increase in heat in the southern ocean north of the Antarctic circumpolar current. This could be a pattern that reinforces itself leading to drought patterns not seen since the ancient Pueblo people in the southwest were forced to migrate after decades of continuous drought.