Category: La Niña

Emerging La Niña likely to end streak of record-warm years

Pacific Ocean ENSO cycle a key player in global climate

La Niña
Cooler water welling up along the coast of South America and moving west suggests the start of La Niña in the Pacific Ocean.

By Bob Berwyn

The shift from a powerful El Niño to the cooler La Niña phase of Pacific Ocean temperatures will temporarily end the planet’s recent record streak of record-warm years, according to climate scientists who see the cyclical ocean changes as a key factor in the long-term global climate change equation.

Nearly all record-warm global years since 1950 (when accurate records start) have come during during El Niños, when the Pacific Ocean releases heat to the atmosphere and  intensifies global warming caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution. The 2015-16 El Niño was one of the strongest on record, but it has now ended, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which says sea surface temperatures in the central and equatorial Pacific have cooled to average in the past few weeks. Continue reading “Emerging La Niña likely to end streak of record-warm years”

Mega-scale El Niña pattern may have big climate impacts

New findings help sharpen global warming projections

Can El Niño last for centuries?

Staff Report

A chemical analysis of cave formations in Indonesia has helped climate researchers identify a large-scale pattern of El Niño shifts in the Pacific Ocean that may play a role in how climate change plays out over the next few decades.

Measuring isotopes in the stalagmites, and comparing it with records from East Asia and the central-eastern equatorial Pacific, enabled the researchers to pinpoint century-scale patterns in Pacific rainfall and temperature, and link them with global climate changes in the past 2000 years. Continue reading “Mega-scale El Niña pattern may have big climate impacts”

2015 in review – environment

A NASA satellite shows oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill spreading across the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Oil spill impacts

Looking back over some of the top environmental stories published in Summit Voice, it’s interesting to see some of the long-running threads, including continued news about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. A half decade after BP failed drilling operation spewed millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, scientists continue to track the impacts, including massive amounts of oil buried deep in sea-bottom sediments, as described in this Jan. 2015 story.

Monarchs bounce back

For some good news in January, an annual monarch butterfly survey showed a slight recovery in population numbers, up to 56.5 million from the previous year’s low of 34 million. But that was still more than  80 percent below the 20-year average and down 95 percent from numbers tallied in the mid-1990s. Near-perfect conditions during breeding season helped bolster the numbers in 2015. Read more here.


Monarch butterflies are struggling, but population surveys in 2015 suggested that, with some help, the species can recover. @bberwyn photo.

Continue reading “2015 in review – environment”

Climate: Study links deadly 2010-2011 Australia floods with long-term ocean warming

A NASA Earth Observatory satellite image shows swollen rivers in northwestern Australia during record-setting floods in 2010-2011. Visit this NASA page for more info.

‘Take action to forestall global warming …’

Staff Report

Deadly floods that swept across Australia in 2010 and 2011 were at least partly fueled by long-term warming in the Indian and Pacific oceans, according to a new study that highlights some of threats posed by human-caused climate change.

The research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, shows that ocean warming can have profound effects on atmospheric circulation, delivering huge amounts of moisture to land areas under certain conditions. Continue reading “Climate: Study links deadly 2010-2011 Australia floods with long-term ocean warming”

Climate: When good ozone goes bad

Western U.S. Counties Violating Current and Proposed Ozone Air Quality Standards.
Western U.S. counties violating current and proposed ozone air quality standards. Map courtesy Jeremy Nichols/ClimateWest blog.

La Niña weather pattern found to contribute to spikes in western ozone levels

Staff Report

FRISCO — Spring ozone formation in parts of the western U.S. appear to be linked with the hemispheric La Niña weather pattern, when the path of the jet stream forces high altitude ozone down to ground level.

After discovering the link, a team of researchers say their findings may help forecast harmful ozone episodes well in advance, which could have implications for attaining the national ozone standard. Continue reading “Climate: When good ozone goes bad”

Global temps record high in November 2013

Cool U.S. readings the exception in a record-warm month

Planet Earth record-warm in November 2013. Graphic courtesy NASA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — November’s cool temperatures across parts of North America were the exception, as the rest of globe reported all-time record warmth for the month. According to the National Climatic Data Center’s monthly update, the average global temperature was 1.40 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average.

Many regions saw all-time record highs, including southern Russia, northwest Kazakhstan, south India, southern Madagascar, parts of the central and south Indian Ocean, and sections of the Pacific Ocean.

Northern Australia, parts of North America, south west Greenland, and parts of the Southern Ocean near South America were cooler than average, but no regions of the globe were record cold during November. Read the full report here. Continue reading “Global temps record high in November 2013”

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