Monthly Archives: August 2011


Google Earth, looking straight down.

Location 19°27′N 102°04′W

I read this as NOT a volcanic feature – even though it is ON a volcano. I base this on what I interpret as its interruption of the visible contours of the volcano’s western slope.

For anyone who would point out that this is right smack in the middle of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, yes, I know. However, there is nothing that precludes impactors from landing in volcanic fields. An inquirer merely needs to use some judgment in distinguishing.

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El Niño Southern Oscillation Open Discussion

At WUWT, this thread engendered the following string of comments.

  • Steven Mosher | August 18, 2011 at 8:02 pm

ENSO has a thrust?

  • Steve Garcia | August 19, 2011 at 2:15 am

    Who knows? It might. I would love it if anyone here could tell me what causes El Niño – where is the extra energy coming from, and why isn’t it there all the time? What makes the heat plume move westward, then back? With movement there must be something akin to thrust.

  • Chief Hydrologist | August 19, 2011 at 5:27 am

ENSO originates in more or less upwelling of cold and nutrient rich in the region of the Humboldt Current. I have a review here -

The thermal evolution of the Humboldt Current is best understood in terms of ENSO. ENSO is an oscillation between El Niño and La Niña states over a 2 to 7 year cycle. An El Niño is defined as sustained SST anomalies greater than 0.5O C (in the Nino 3 region) over the central pacific. Conversely, a La Niña is defined as sustained SST anomalies less than -0.5O C. The oscillations (more correctly chaotic bifurcation – but we will come to that) are driven by complex interactions of cloud, wind, sea level pressure, sea surface temperature, planetary rotation and surface and subsurface currents. The short explanation is that the Pacific trade winds set up conditions for a La Niña. Trade winds, south-easterly in the Southern Hemisphere and north-easterly in the Northern Hemisphere, pile up warm surface water against Australia and Indonesia. Water vapour rises in the western Pacific creating low pressure cells that strengthen the trade winds piling yet more warm water up in the western Pacific. Cool, subsurface water rises in the eastern Pacific and spreads westward. At some point the trade winds falter and warm water spreads out westward across the Pacific.

In the region of the Humboldt Current – there is a balance between upwelling where deep ocean currents emerge and suppression of those currents by a warm surface layer.

The reasons for more or less upwelling may hinge on the state of the Southern Annular Mode. Here is some up to date info on SAM –

Here we are very at the edge on the known. I went looking for some connection between UV and SAM – and found myself quoted at – There is a good discussion there.

Here is an SST anomaly thermally enhanced satellite image from October last year.

SST Anomalies 10/04/2010

You can see the PDO in the north Pacific and La Nina in full swing in the central Pacific. You can also see the potential for cold water being pushed up from the Southern Ocean and onto the western coast of South America in the area of the Humboldt Current. The region of the Humboldt Current is the most biologically productive area on Earth because the cold southern water is joined there by upwelling frigid water. The upwelling (or not) in turn determines the thermal evolution of ENSO. ENSO is many things but starts in upwelling – or not – in the eastern Pacific.

There is a direct physical link between UV and the SAM in the ozone layer of the middle atmosphere – and thus in storm tracks spinning of the Southern Ocean, pooling cold water off the western coast of South America and diluting the warm surface layer that suppresses upwelling in the eastern Pacific.’

ChiefHydrologist’s comments are welcome, and yet I see inconsistencies and have questions.  It clearly appears to me that well into the year 2011 the cause of El Niño is explained, but not explained to my own standards.

Comments follow:



Cyclical Random Spontaneous Organization

On Judy Curry’s Climate Etc. blog, a commenter on one thread said the following and I had a reply all typed up, but decided to post it her, instead.

[WebHubTelescope] Here is a simple financial market model, which essentially demonstrates the effects of implied correlation. When stock’s move in unison, then market swings become larger. When stocks differentiate themselves, some up some down, then the swings are smaller because the individual movements can cancel. We are entering a phase where the implied correlation is high and the stock market no longer shows useful differentiation. 400 to 600 point swings will become the norm.

How would you test this hypothesis?

Yes, exactly!  ( A light goes on in my head…)

When they “move in unison”…  Yes, that happens.  It is about cyclical organization, perhaps in an unrecognized cycle that hides within what seems random but isn’t.  Stocks or heat packets are normally randomized to some “normal” level.  But in that randomness is also a propensity from time to time for things to align – to push in parallel.   Just like rolling a die that comes up three sixes rolled consecutively.
This kind of thing could and would happen on several different scales over time.  Sometimes the organization entrains a LOT of heat packets or stocks.

Look at clouds.  Normally random and mostly vertical plumes, though their size and morphology fall into classes, but mostly some variation on “mandlebrotian” mushroom shapes.  Yet we’ve all seen cloud patterns where there are very long rows in the sky.  The wind action or something for a while is no longer acting random, though even the organization itself is a randomness.  But maybe not.  Look up also “Undulatus asperatus” clouds.  What I saw was WAY better than that shown on Wikipedia.  I have photos myself of this newly delineated cloud type, where they look like the underside of a vaulted ceiling, each vault 1/4 to 1/3 of a mile wide, and consistent in their widths, row after row and miles and scores of miles long.  And it stayed that way long after I drove 30 miles.  I did see the end of the pattern, and the wind flow still existed, even when the visible clouds had gradually faded to blue sky.  Thus, it was not the clouds as the cause, but as the effect.  They also extended far in the other direction, as far as I could see in that direction.

Here is perhaps the best image:

Undulatus asperatus clouds, Hoffman Estates IL, along I-90, May 26, 2009

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