According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s ENSO Wrap-Up, the 2009-2010 El Niño has been characterized as the warmest since the 1997-98 event, the warmest in recorded history. This El Niño is now stronger than the 2002-03 and 2006-07 events.
Here is ABM’s Nino 3.4 Sea-Surface Temperature Index time series, which measures temperatures over a large patch of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean. It’s latest weekly value is 1.91C positive anomaly. In comparison, the 1982-83 and 1997-98 events both had 3C+ anomalies, with the 1997-98 event coming close to a 4C+ anomaly!
Will the 2009-10 event be as strong as the 1997-98 event? Not likely. It will be one of the stronger events, by all current appearances and recent forecasts. What does that mean for 2010? It means that 2010 has a decent chance at being the all-time warmest year (globally averaged temperatures), beating 2005 by fractions of a degree. Since global temperatures typically respond to El Niño events 3-6 months later, the current spate of near-record global temperatures have less to do with El Niño than will be the case in 3-6 more months. That time-frame happens to coincide with the Northern Hemispheric summer.
Despite what might or might not happen in any particular location or state in the U.S. this next year, I expect global temperature records to be set in 2010. This will happen at the same time that a protracted solar minimum (no/few sunspots) is occurring. So to all those who try to excuse temperatures to solar activity – your excuse is broken. Where will you look to next, all the while ignoring the evidence in front of you?
[h/t Climate Progress]