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Climate Locked into ‘Unending’ El Niño?

Posted by feww on December 15, 2009

El Niño May Continue into Summer 2010 [and Beyond]

El Niño Weekly Update [14 Dec 2009]

ENSO Cycle: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions

UPDATE prepared by Climate Prediction Center / NCEP –  14 December 2009

The latest weekly SST departures are:

  • Niño 4   ~ 1.3ºC
  • Niño 3.4  ~ 1.8ºC
  • Niño 3  ~ 1.6ºC
  • Niño 1+2 ~ 0.2ºC

El Niño Map. [SOURCE: NOAA/ Climate Prediction Center / NCEP]

Recent Evolution of Equatorial Pacific SST Departures (ºC)

  • LongitudeTimeDuring November 2008-February 2009, negative sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies covered the central and east-central equatorial Pacific Ocean.
  • Since the beginning of June 2009, SST anomalies have been at least +0.5°C across most of the equatorial Pacific.
  • During October 2009, positive SST anomalies increased across much of the equatorial Pacific.
  • During November 2009, positive SST anomalies remained nearly unchanged.
  • Recently, positive SST anomalies increased across the east-central Pacific.

SST Departures (ºC) in the Tropical Pacific During the Last 4 Weeks

During the last 4-weeks, SSTs were at least 1.0°C above average across much of the equatorial Pacific east of 170ºE, and more than 2.0°C above average across portions of the eastern half of the Pacific. Click image to enlarge.

Global SST Departures (°C)

During the last four weeks, equatorial SSTs were above-average across the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Also, above-average SSTs covered large areas of the Northern Hemisphere subtropics
. Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

Central & Eastern Pacific Upper-Ocean (0-300 m) Weekly Heat Content AnomaliesSince

Since April 2009, the upper-ocean heat content has been above average across the eastern half of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. The heat content was previously below-average from mid-August 2008 through March 2009, with a minimum reached in late December 2008.
Click image to enlarge.

Sub-Surface Temperature Departures (°C) in the Equatorial Pacific

Click image to enlarge.

Atmospheric Circulation over the North Pacific & North America During the Last 60 Days
During the last half of October, a nearly zonal pattern of below-average heights over the mid-latitudes was observed with an anomalous ridging over the higher latitudes. By early November, the anomalous zonal pattern of below-average heights at mid-latitudes had been replaced by strong anomalous ridges across the N. Pacific and much of N. America with below-average heights near Alaska. This pattern led to above-average temperatures across much of Canada and the United States and below-average temperatures in Alaska. Since late November, the pattern has reversed again with below-average heights in the mid-latitudes and above-average heights over Alaska.

SST Outlook: NCEP CFS Forecast Issued 13 December 2009
The CFS ensemble mean predicts El Niño will last at least into the Northern Hemisphere summer 2010.


  • El Niño is present across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
  • Sea surface temperatures (SST) are at least 1.0ºC-2.0ºC above-average across much of the central and east-central equatorial Pacific.
  • Based on current observations and dynamical model forecasts, El Niño is expected to continue and last at least into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2010 [and beyond.]

Information and images on this page are sourced from Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NOAA. Edited by FEWW

Related Links:

El Niño Updates:

14 Responses to “Climate Locked into ‘Unending’ El Niño?”

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