Climate: Is this year’s El Niño here to stay?

Forecasters nearly certain pattern will persist at least through the end of summer and probably to the end of the year


Warm sea surface temperatures along the equatorial Pacific show the shape of El Niño.


A classic El Niño sea surface temperature pattern is projected in this map from NOAA.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A developing Pacific El Niño is already affecting weather patterns across the western U.S. by bringing abundant spring moisture to the region, including late season snow and rain to parts of parched California.

And last week meteorologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said El Niño is likely to stick around for the summer and probably even through the end of the year, perhaps even gaining strength. More on the forecast in this NOAA El Niño blog.
Continue reading

Study eyes Pacific warm water ‘blob’ as drought driver

‘This is a taste of what the ocean will be like in future decades’


Exceedingly high water temperatures in the eastern Pacific have persisted for several years, influencing weather across western North America and beyond.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Climate scientists have long known that the West has experienced significant long-term droughts during past millennia, but they don’t know exactly why. Understanding the cause may be more important now, given the huge impacts of the current drought in California, so researchers have been focusing on a huge mass of warm water hugging the West Coast.

Those conditions may be linked with a relatively unknown decadal weather pattern called the North Pacific Mode, which may be a significant weather driver, along with the El Niño-La Niño oscillation, and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, according to the University of Washington’s Dennis Hartmann. Continue reading

Climate: Does La Niña increase the odds of tornadoes?

Finding a signal amidst the climate noise isn’t easy


Does La Niña increase the odds of tornadoes?

A new NOAA study tracks the occurrence of seasonal tornadoes across the U.S.

Study finds links between ENSO and tornado frequency in the Southern U.S. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Teasing out a link between large-scale atmospheric patterns and specific weather events isn’t easy against the backdrop of natural variability.

But a new study of the El Niño-La Niña cycle in the Pacific Ocean suggests that La Niña — the cool phase of the cycle — increases the frequency of tornadoes and hail storms in some of the most susceptible regions of the United States.

During La Niña, both vertical wind shear and surface warmth and moisture increase significantly in the southern states, making conditions favorable to severe storm occurrence.

The study, published in the current issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, may help provide more information for medium- and long-range extreme weather forecasts. Continue reading

Climate study predicts doubling of extreme La Niñas

Will global warming intensify extreme weather swings?


How will climate change affect ENSO?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global warming could increase the frequency of extreme La Niña events in the Pacific Ocean, with more droughts in southwestern United States, floods in the western Pacific regions and increased Atlantic hurricane activity.

The international study, published in Nature Climate Change, used advanced modeling to show how increased land-area heating, combined with more frequent El Niños, will feed a cycle of extreme La Niñas. Continue reading

New series of climate studies aim to pinpoint global warming impacts on key natural resources


Glen Canyon Dam. Photo via U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Arizona researchers to focus on Colorado River flows as feds grant $7 million for 50-plus research projects

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Arizona-based researchers will lead an effort to pinpoint how global warming will affect Colorado River flows in the coming decades, with an eye toward exploring links between Pacific Ocean climate patterns like El Niño/La Niña cycles and the occurrence of extreme wet or dry conditions.

The two-year study will result in a streamflow projection product that better accounts for physical mechanisms of weather and climate on a regional and local scale, that can be directly used by water resource providers.

The research project is one more than 50 studies funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Interior’s regional climate centers as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution, move the economy toward clean energy sources and begin to prepare communities for the impacts of climate change. Continue reading

Climate: Is the Southwest ‘stuck’ in a drought pattern?



NOAA’s winter outlook offers little relief for Arizona, New Mexico

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Drought conditions may persist across the southwestern U.S. this winter and may redevelop across the Southeast, according to the seasonal outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

“Even though we don’t have La Niña, the atmosphere across the Pacific seems to be stuck in a La Niña mode … It’s been quite surprising to us, how persistent the pattern is,” said Mike Halpert, acting director of the Climate Prediction Center.

Parts of the Southwest, especially New Mexico, have been experiencing one of the driest periods on record, and Halpert said there is “decent agreement” in the CPC’s models on the climate signal that has resulted in the persistent trend. Continue reading

How will global warming affect El Niño?

Study shows how external influences shape Pacific weather patterns


New research may help show how global warming will affect El Niño.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — By studying coral samples from a remote Pacific atoll, Australian researchers say they’ve found evidence that external influences can change the intensity of the periodic El Niño cycle. By extension, they said, human-caused global warming could also alter the pattern, though the observational record is too short to determine whether that’s already happening.

The research was led by scientist with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science and  published in Nature Geoscience.

“Our research has showed that, while the development of La Niña and El Niño events is chaotic and hard to predict, the strength of these events can change over long time spans due to changes in the global climate,” said one of the paper’s authors, Australian climate researcher Dr. Steven Phipps. Continue reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,944 other followers