Godzilla Rises. Stunning El Nino Forecasts are Literally Off the Chart

August 25, 2015


Above, NOAA has published a graph of modeling predictions from various professional groups looking at the developing El Nino event in the Pacific.

The dark line that starts at the left is actual observations of what we see so far in unusually warm surface water in the central and eastern pacific.  The various colored lines that proceed to the right are the different attempts at predictions. As you can see, they are running hot – very hot, to the point of sailing off the top of the chart…

As you can see from this diagram, global temperatures tend to get a bounce in El Nino years, while La Nina years exert a cooling influence.


EL NIÑO is Spanish for…The Niño!” joked Chris Farley on a 1997 episode of Saturday Night Live, a sketch comedy programme. The skit was memorable for its absurdity but it did not do much to explain “The Niño”. It aired during the devastating 1997-1998 El Niño, which caused at least $35 billion in destruction and 23,000 deaths globally. A new El Niño is now brewing. NASA satellite pictures indicate this year’s could be even bigger than the 1997-1998 one, the strongest on record. So what is El Niño?


Spanish for “little boy”, El Niño was so named by Peruvian fishermen in the 1600s in honour of the Christ child. They observed that periodically around Christmastime, Pacific waters grew warmer and fish vanished, migrating to cooler waters. Unlike hurricanes, El Niño is not an individual weather event, it is a climate pattern. In non-Niño years trade winds, which blow east to west, push warm equatorial water into the western Pacific, allowing cold water from the deep ocean to well up in the eastern Pacific. During a Niño, those winds slacken. The warm water that is normally pushed westward pools right across the Pacific Ocean. Water temperature increases, and increased heat and moisture rise into the atmosphere, altering wind and storm patterns. If ocean-surface temperatures are between 0.5 to 1°C above average during a three-month window, America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal agency, deems it a Niño. The current one could produce temperatures 2°C higher than average, or more.


2 Responses to “Godzilla Rises. Stunning El Nino Forecasts are Literally Off the Chart”

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