A correlation between El Niño and global CO2

It was only when I read the Met Office news release “La Niña cools 2018 CO₂ forecast” that it occurred to me that there might be a link between ENSO events in the central Pacific Ocean and global CO2 measured at nearby Mauna Loa. So today I cobbled together a hybrid application made up of code from my ENSO and CO2 programs to plot charts of both of them to see what I can find, never really expecting to see very much in the way of a link, I was wrong.

Figure 1

In the above image (fig 1) the top chart is of the 12 monthly change in global CO2 measured at Mauna Loa, the bottom Chart is the SST anomaly in Niño region 3.4 of the central Pacific. These two charts span the period from when CO2 readings first started at Mauna Loa in March 1958.

The top chart needs a bit of explaining because it’s a bit complicated. The readings are monthly anomalies of the rate of change of CO2, but because the CO2 levels have been rising rather quickly as we all know, I though I would make my long-term average variable, and base it on a linear trend for the sixty year period between 1958 and 2018. As far as I can see the rate of change has increased from around 0.73 ppm per year in 1958 to 2.37 ppm  a year in 2018.  So I wrote a little function to calculate the LTA for any particular month to calculate a variable LTA and with it a monthly anomaly if that makes sense, and because the rate of change is over 12 months, I thought it better if the series was centred to better correspond with the ONI, which itself is a three-month average. If this doesn’t seem particular scientific to you, that’s OK, I don’t mind, but I’m betting there’s some fancy statistical name for what I’ve done.

Anyway the interesting thing is that the results do show a good deal of correlation between global CO2 and ENSO, I can’t quantify it exactly, but there’s no doubt that it exists. Here’s a close up of the last 20 years to give you a better look (fig 2).

Figure 2

I have no idea why there is any correlation at all. Do the global levels of CO2 have an influence on the SST in the central Pacific, or does the SST in the central Pacific somehow affect the levels of global CO2? It’s sheer speculation but does more CO2 percolates out of the central Pacific when an El Niño event is in progress and SST are well above average than when a La Niña is ongoing – who knows it could even be the CO2 that’s being released by the bleaching of the coral reefs across the world. As usual letters to the editor are welcome on this subject.

Just one of those things

Figure 1 – Data courtesy of NOAA/ESRL

If I were asked to make a scientific forecast which I knew for an absolute certainty would be proved correct (apart from the sun will go down this evening and rise again tomorrow morning), it would be with regard to global CO levels as measured at Mauna Loa. In fact I’ll make a forecast now that the global CO levels as measured at Mauna Loa in February 2019 will be at least 410.25 parts per million [ppm] if not a little higher!

The first chart is of monthly COlevels for the last 30 years, and how they have been inexorably rising, but at a fairly steady rate of 19 ppm per decade. There is a seasonality about the series as you can see (fig 1), with a high each year around May and a low in early autumn.

Figure 2 – Data courtesy of NOAA/ESRL

The above plot is of the 12 month difference in concentrations, which takes away the seasonality to reveal the true rate of change that’s going on in the data series (fig 2). As you can see the 12 month changes fluctuate and reached a peak of over +4.14 ppm change in April 2016, since then the 12 month centred moving average (outlined in yellow) has continued to fall since then, declining to +1.93 ppm in the 12 months to February 2018.

Figure 3 – Courtesy of the Met Office

The correctly predicted levels of COas forecast by the Met Office for last year and outlined in their news blog today (fig 3) for some reason remind me a little of the lyrics from the 1984 song ‘Accident on third street’ by Al Stewart. It concerns a girl call Linda who gets killed in a road traffic accident by a drunk driver and why it happened:

I asked my local guru about the situation, he gave me this reply
While pointing a bony finger up into the general direction of the sky:
‘Get on with your own life, it is not ours to reason why’
Said he used to worry about it once when he was young
Now he doesn’t even bother to try,
He left me with a feeling that what he said was basically sound
Like a black hole in space, or philosophy, useless but profound
Just one of those things
One of those things

Recent global temperatures continue to fall

Figure 1 – Data courtesy of CRU, Met Office & NASA

Recent global surface temperatures have continued to fall in the two years following the El Niño of 2014-16. January 2018 was the coldest January since 2014 in both the CRUTEM and GISS series (fig 1). The anomalies of 0.553°C and 0.78°C above the long-term average still mean that the global picture is one of various shades of yellow and red rather than blue though (fig 2). There was an interesting cold pool across a large area surrounding the Mediterranean during the month, but apart from this it was the scale of the warmth across eastern north America and northern Asia that were the main talking points.

Figure 2 – Courtesy of NASA

If you were wondering just how the recent SSW has affected things, and how temperature anomalies ended up in February, here’s a chart that I’ve put together using reanalysis data (fig 3).

Figure 3 – Data courtesy of NCEP Reanalysis

Is it 1°C higher or not? revisited

Figure 1 (click to enlarge)

In an addendum to yesterdays blog “Is it 1°C higher or not?“, I can now say yes, recent global temperature were 1°C higher than pre-industrial levels for the best part of two years or more, but in the latter part of 2017 monthly temperatures dropped below the magic +1°C, and that’s why the press releases seem to suggest things haven’t changed. In fact they have gone up and crashed back down again in that period.

Perhaps if they had used a more detailed and larger graph of changes in global temperatures in the latest news release that might have helped. And so to clarify what’s actually going on in more detail I decided to create my own graph based on the CRUTEM4 monthly data that you can freely download (fig 1).

I can now also understand why professor Stephen Belcher the Met Office chief scientist is saying that global surface temperature anomalies could reach 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels in the next 5 years. Already monthly values in the last El Niño event in early 2016 got close to 1.5°C (fig 1). He is obviously banking on the current La Niña fizzling out and a return to the strong warming we saw in 2015.

There is a natural seasonality to the monthly values and that’s why I’ve added a 12 month moving average to the graph. That 12 month moving averaged peaked at +1.25°C in early 2016 and by December 2017 it’s fallen back to +1.05°C. The linear trend for the last five years does indicate that there’s been a decadal increase of 0.547°C, which would be enough to take temperatures above 1.5°C, possibly in the next ten years rather than the five suggested by Stephen Belcher.

The west wind doth blow and we shall have snow…

Figure 1

I see that it’s snowing again across parts of Scotland this morning. It was only 10 days or so ago that Tulloch Bridge had 15″ of snow lying, just to see it all washed away, but it’s back again now, and they have a fresh cover of 4 cm (fig 1). The source of the cold air is once again from the west, and in these days of climate change I wonder if it’s time to adjust the old children’s nursery rhyme to reflect which wind direction we are now more likely to get snow from?

Guardian: The BBC apologise for Lawson – but did he just get muddled up?

Figure 1 – Courtesy of the Guardian

There’s no doubt that global surface temperatures have been on the rise. There may have been a slight pause while it caught its breath in 2011 & 2012, but with the help of a record ENSO event in 2015, the linear trend for the last 10 years is almost +0.4°C per decade in the CRUTEM4 series (fig 2).

Figure 2

The American GISS data shows a slightly higher linear trend for the last 10 years of +0.429°C (fig 3).

Figure 3

So Nigel Lawson was wrong big time about global data for the last ten years, he thought the pause had been continuing, and refused to look at the latest temperature data. But was Nigel wrong about temperatures closer to home in the UK during the last 10 years?

Figure 4

Not a great deal of solace for Nigel from the 1910 UKMO gridded data series, the linear trend for the last 10 years is not that dissimilar to the CRUTEM4 of GISS showing warming at the rate of +0.34°C per decade (fig 4). What about the Central England Temperature series.

Figure 5

Even worst than ever with the CET I’m afraid Nigel, the decadal linear trend on the 12 monthly moving mean CET for the last 10 years is above 0.5°C per decade (fig 5). So the simple answer to the question I posed in the title of “did Nigel just get muddled up?” is no, he’s just an idiot, and how he ever got to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer beggars belief. To be fair to him, he should have picked a longer time period than 10 years, because even with long-term temperature series like these there are natural background fluctuations.

*There are a couple of things wrong in the titles of charts that I used for figures 2 & 3, I’ll award special bonus points to those that can spot where I ballsed up.

BBC News: Switzerland landslide: Are the Alps melting?

Figure 1 – Bondo Village courtesy of the BBC & Reuters
Figure 2 – Courtesy of BBC News

Well are the Alps melting as Imogen Foulkes is proposing in her article? Well with the help of the trusty temperature statistics that lie* behind the CRUTEM4 global land temperature series that I’ve downloaded from the Met Office, I thought that I would investigate. Here are a couple of graphs from near the top of the Säntis mountain in northeast Switzerland at a height of 2,490 M (8,169 feet), where the mean annual temperature is -1.9°C, and there may well be some permafrost if you can find any soil to freeze.

Figure 3

As you can see from the trend of the annual mean temperature things have been on the warm up there since 1864 to the tune of 2°C in 153 years (fig 3). Things get even warmer if you look at the month of August which have warmed by 2.6°C in the same time, the linear trend since 1965 is currently as high as +0.66°C per decade (fig 4), so it’s no wonder that there have been increased occurrences of rock and landslides in recent years.

Figure 4

It would have liked to include the temperature series from the Sphinx Observatory on the Jungfraujoch (WMO #06730) in Switzerland at 3,571 m (11,716 ft), which must have a fine record of temperature data that probably started in 1931, but as far as I can see, and for some reason I can’t fathom, it’s not included in the list of CRUTEM4 sites. It’s certainly not because it’s too high, because there are climate records from mountains as high as 4,700 M in China. Perhaps the price that they charge for the data is just too high for even the Met Office to afford.

* That was a purely unintentional pun on my part, and a completely unforgivable play on words on my part!

High risk of unprecedented rainfall

Figure 1 – England Wales Precipitation (October – March) 1766 – 2016 – data courtesy of the Met Office

Dr Adam Scaife has been at it at the Met Office again, or more correctly I should say that Dr Vikki Thompson the lead author of the report ‘High risk of unprecedented rainfall in the UK in the current climate‘ has. News of her findings are in the latest Met Office blog, in which she says:-

“Our computer simulations provided one hundred times more data than is available from observed records. Our analysis showed that these events could happen at any time and it’s likely we will see record monthly rainfall in one of our UK regions in the next few years”

According to the article:-

“Analysing these simulated events showed there is a 7% risk of record monthly rainfall in south-east England in any given winter. When other regions of England and Wales are also considered this increases to a 34% chance”

I can’t totally agree with her when she says in the included video that:-

“…older records are now no longer so relevant to the current risk because climate has changed over the past century”

My question to her would be – “why do we know climate has changed?” – the answer to that is because we already have existing rainfall data back to 1910, wouldn’t it then be wise to digitise all the rainfall data that the Victorian’s collected from 1859, and just see how unprecedented (and believable) the rainfall events that their new supercomputer has generated?

Sometimes I think that the NWP programmers have taken over the asylum Met Office, rather than the climatologists taking the lead in these investigations, or perhaps they’ve fused together as one being that does both.

They maybe onto a winner with this one though, because a quick look at the “real” (or as close as we are going to get it) gridded England Wales Precipitation from 1766, and the simple linear trend is definitely upwards and wetter by 22.7% in those 250 years (fig 1). If the total rainfall across the October-March period has increased, then you would logically infer that the number of unprecedented months has also increased.

The article goes onto say:-

The authors have named this novel research method the UNSEEN method to emphasize that this analysis anticipates possible events that have just not yet been seen.

I can’t see a link to the report that they are talking about in the blog, so it maybe that they’ve applied the “unseen method” to that, and we are to rely on the infographic (fig 2) for people with really short attention spans like myself.

Figure 3 – Courtesy of the Met Office

So if Climate change is likely to increase the frequency and magnitude of severe flooding events as many people think, why has rainfall declined, and not increased in the other half of the year? I reckon that April to September precipitation is 13% lower than it was 250 years ago (fig 3). But of course older rainfall records are now no longer as relevant these days, because the climate has changed so much, and we should probably just disregard it.

Figure 4 – England Wales Precipitation (April – September) 1766 – 2016 – data courtesy of the Met Office

Summers in Central England since 1659

Figure 1

It’s quite a number of years since we have had a really warm Summer [JJA]. The last very warm one was the summer of 2006 which ranked #4 warmest in the series (fig 2), and before that summer 2003, which ranked joint third warmest, perhaps we’ve been spoiled in recent years, and are taking it for granted that every summer will end up being warm or very warm.

Figure 2

Summers have become slightly warmer during the last 358 years in Central England (fig 3), but not so much that you would notice. They have crept up by around +0.36°C in that time, which is almost exactly +0.01°C a decade, if global warming is having any effect on summers in Central England then it’s being very slow about it.

Figure 3

Catastrophic climate change

Courtesy of Energy Matters

Interesting blog from Roger Andrews in his Energy Matters blog that you may find of interest. There doesn’t seem away that I can reblog it, so you’ll just have to follow this link. Obviously he may have an axe to grind, but then again these days who doesn’t. I like how he’s listed the main findings of the IPCC, and also his summation.