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Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

2009-10 El Niño Warmest Since 1997-98

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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]


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