All About The O

So we were looking at stations along the Alaska coast and found that they moved in a step function higher, then stabilized, with the change of the PDO state. This has been called The Great Pacific Climate Shift, and there is a very nice write up of it here:

The Great Pacific Shift Which includes a map showing areas of the USA that will have drought, or not, and a discussion of who gets warmer, or not.

The article about Alaska being this one:

In wandering around looking for information about the AMO (Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation) I ran into an “odd thing”. I like “odd things” as they usually give me something to think about, and often it is something new (and that is a welcome feature.).

I was doing the “endless series of links with no-joy” over at NOAA, and finally found an interesting set of graphs here:

The Juicy Bit

I’ll skip over the variety of “minor interest” things I ran into and jump right to what I think is the “juicy bit”:

The outgoing Long Wave IR is modulated with the ocean state.

Here is a graph of the Southern Ocean Index, followed by a graph of Standardized Outgoing Longwave Radiation. Take a look. Are those not two very closely matched graphs? And if nature is modulating the IR outbound, what the heck does human CO2 have to do with it?

NOAA SOI May 2011

NOAA SOI May 2011

NOAA OLR May 2011

NOAA OLR May 2011

Now those two look more or less the inverse of this El Nino 3-4 SST graph:

NOAA El Nino 3.4 SST May 2011

NOAA El Nino 3.4 SST May 2011

All of which means it looks like Outgoing Long Wave Radiation (IR) is directly tied to Ocean Oscillations. It really is “All About The O”…

Longer Term Charts

OK, here is the “length of data” graph for each. Note that they have different lengths / scales. The top one starts in about 1950, so has roughly 20 years more data than the second one that starts in 1970. You can click on these to get larger more readable versions.

NOAA SOI 'length of data" Graph

NOAA SOI 'length of data" Graph

NOAA OLR "length of data"

NOAA OLR "length of data"

The identity is not quite as strong with whatever processing differences are in these graphs, but the direction of change is clearly matching once you line up the dates. The data also clearly remain inverted when compared to the long term El Nino 3-4 data. I’ve also added a graph of the ENSO state itself for comparisons.

NOAA El Nino 3-4 "length of data" graph

NOAA El Nino 3-4 "length of data" graph



From this ENSO page.

In Conclusion

So we’ve got this giant step function of temperatures along the Pacific Coast (and the weather starts there and drifts over the rest of the country). We’ve got it clearly tied to an Ocean Oscillator. We’ve got Outgoing IR tied to the same Ocean Oscillations. We’ve got stable temperatures SINCE the step up at that Great Climate Shift of the PDO. What more do we need?

It seems pretty clear to me that CO2 isn’t doing anything with the land temperatures, nor with the ocean state. The Ocean is driving everything else, and it is moving to its own drummer.

Since the year 2000, the PDO has swapped to a cold phase and we’ve begun cooling. (My garden tells me that with tomatoes not setting fruit and, now, endless cold overcast days after a very long wet cold winter. We’ve had a few of those lately in California.)

NOAA pdo-5-pg 2000 May 2011

NOAA pdo-5-pg 2000 May 2011

And we can see the direct impact of that as a big jump in OLR OUTGOING IR. CO2 be damned.

In this longer term chart, we can see why 1951 – 1980 was chosen for the GIStemp baseline. Until 2000 it gave a great “warming trend” from one phase of the PDO to another:

NOAA PDO from 1950 to 2011

NOAA PDO from 1950 to 2011

Oddly, since the Atlantic temperatures tend to follow the Pacific with about a 10 year lag, this speaks to why HadCRUT used a 1961-1990 baseline for their more European centered data as well.

Of course, one could easily use a more recent baseline and get the same graphs of “rising heat” from 1950 to date. As long as you have a “Climate” definition that is shorter than that 60 year cycle (and preferably very close to the 30 year 1/2 cycle); while not really paying any attention to the data from the “old days” prior to the 1940’s, it will still work. (Though I note that lately they have had to “poo poo” the recent cooling as ‘just a weather cycle’. Oddly, a truth; since it all is just a weather cycle…)

IMHO, this likely also explains why so much effort goes into ‘rewriting the past’ and cooling off that precursor data from 1880 to 1940. There ought to be a hot period from about 1910 to 1940, with cold from about 1880 to 1910. (Strange how that 1880 date conveniently matches when GIStemp chooses to “start time”…). That would give a cold segment, then a single “inconvenient warmth” segment from about 1910 to 1940 that would need some added “adjustments”, then another natural warming 60 year period to work with.

To me, this says that looking for odd “splice artifacts” in which stations were kept in the GHCN and which were left out during that 1910 to 1940 period would be “interesting” as a Dig Here! Are there any statistically abnormal changes of NUMBER of thermometers at those points? Is there any statistically significant change to the location of thermometers? Or is it all just done with “adjustment” and “homogenizing”?

This would tend to explain why so much effort has gone into trying to “disappear” the very high temperatures of the 1930’s in the USA. Finding all sorts of ways to de-emphasize them to where they would fit a ‘warming trend’ rather than be a peak temperature we’ve never reached again.

This also would explain the last decade of cooling that, if the Atlantic is true to form, will show up in force from this point forward as the AMO swaps too (about 10 years after the PDO). A future “dig here!” would be to tie together the AO and the Southern Ocean changes as well, but for now, this seems enough. Though I do note that the Antarctic Circumpolar Current has picked up speed and the winds have picked up force…

So, in the end, it looks like it is “All About The O” and we need to watch the Ocean Oscillations closely, but watch the Operators adjusting those records even closer…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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6 Responses to All About The O

  1. kramer says:

    The OLR and the SOI graphs definitely look linked in some way to me. Good eye…

  2. R. de Haan says:

    Raging weather because of the cooling

  3. oMan says:

    Chiefio: sure does look like a correlation. Does one lead the other, presumably the O drives the IR? The putative mechanism being, ocean heat is unloaded into the atmosphere, radiated away. Probably not much of a lag there, IR would take about how long to transit the column of atmosphere?

    PS: as “kramer” says, “good eye.” Your feel for patterns and connections, and your diligence/resourcefulness, are a gift to everybody who comes here.

  4. E.M.Smith says:


    The time lag for heat to leave the surface looks to be about one day:

    For the IR driven portion, it looks to be measured in hours at most.

    Thanks for the vote of support. It’s just a ‘difference engine’ that looks to see if it already has something the same or “close” in storage and can it store the next one as a “duplicate flag” or as a “diff bag of bits” instead of the whole thing. When that flag goes up on two “different” things, well, it causes the higher functions to ponder…

    I can’t see a whole lot of “lead” in the graphs, but if anything, the SOI is leading by just a bit.


    Thanks! Just glad you like the “catch”.

    @R. de Haan:

    Expect more of it too. We’ve got 30 years of sucking heat out of the ocean as water and dumping it to space as IR (with the water falling as loads of rain and snow…) to work off.

    I find it a bit “telling” that the last flood in the “midwest” of this size was in 1937, just 3 years after the peak heat of 1934. Almost like it was a cycle or something ;-)

  5. tckev says:

    It’s so simple to see once the data is presented clearly that there is some sort of correlation here. Well done yet again.

    Once more you have highlighted that a better method of assessing climate data is needed.
    Climate change – no matter what the cause – affects us all; therefore the maximum number of people analyzing all available data would see more of these correlations, and assist in directing research to find the basic underlaying mechanisms at work here.
    IMHO a system of Open Source directed research on climate change would be much the better method, and I think
    have a good idea here.

  6. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m pretty good at “spotting things”, not so good at exploiting them for personal gain… Oh Well…

    It seems to be one of the great “Virtues” of the “Progressive Side” that they always find a way to spin things for personal and peer group gain. Guess I just have too much altruism…

    At any rate, I find ’em; others can “Dig Here!” ’em ;-)

    Maybe I ought to make a small book of “collected observations on the broken meme of CO2” …

    Wonder if there would be any market for “Yet Another Climate Change Is Crap” book?

    At any rate, I don’t see any way that monotonically increasing CO2 can have an OLR modulation in sync with the ocean status… unless there is something hiding in the way the statistics are manufactured that I’m not seeing…

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