Claim: Global warming increasing El Niño activity

This is junk science because…

It’s not science at all. The study relies on the notion that tree-ring data are adequate proxies for historical temperatures and precipitation. As these results cannot be validated (we can’t actually check the claim against what actually happened 700 years ago), they aren’t scientific in nature. For results to be scientific, they must be subject to some sort of testing and validation.

The media release is below.


El Nino unusually active in the late 20th century

El Nino Variability

Spawning droughts, floods, and other weather disturbances world-wide, the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) impacts the daily life of millions of people. During El Niño, Atlantic hurricane activity wanes and rainfall in Hawaii decreases while Pacific winter storms shift southward, elevating the risk of floods in California.

The ability to forecast how ENSO will respond to global warming thus matters greatly to society. Providing accurate predictions, though, is challenging because ENSO varies naturally over decades and centuries. Instrumental records are too short to determine whether any changes seen recently are simply natural or attributable to man-made greenhouse gases. Reconstructions of ENSO behavior are usually missing adequate records for the tropics where ENSO develops.

Help is now underway in the form of a tree-ring record reflecting ENSO activity over the past seven centuries. Tree-rings have been shown to be very good proxies for temperature and rainfall measurements. An international team of scientists spearheaded by Jinbao Li and Shang-Ping Xie, while working at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, has compiled 2,222 tree-ring chronologies of the past seven centuries from both the tropics and mid-latitudes in both hemispheres. Their work is published in the June 30, 2013 online issue of Nature Climate Change.

The inclusion of tropical tree-ring records enabled the team to generate an archive of ENSO activity of unprecedented accuracy, as attested by the close correspondence with records from equatorial Pacific corals and with an independent Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction that captures well-known teleconnection climate patterns.

These proxy records all indicate that ENSO was unusually active in the late 20th century compared to the past seven centuries, implying that this climate phenomenon is responding to ongoing global warming.

“In the year after a large tropical volcanic eruption, our record shows that the east-central tropical Pacific is unusually cool, followed by unusual warming one year later. Like greenhouse gases, volcanic aerosols perturb the Earth’s radiation balance. This supports the idea that the unusually high ENSO activity in the late 20th century is a footprint of global warming” explains lead author Jinbao Li.

“Many climate models do not reflect the strong ENSO response to global warming that we found,” says co-author Shang-Ping Xie, meteorology professor at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa and Roger Revelle Professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego. “This suggests that many models underestimate the sensitivity to radiative perturbations in greenhouse gases. Our results now provide a guide to improve the accuracy of climate models and their projections of future ENSO activity. If this trend of increasing ENSO activity continues, we expect to see more weather extremes such as floods and droughts.”


4 thoughts on “Claim: Global warming increasing El Niño activity”

  1. For one thing, nobody knows what causes the El Nino, so how can any claims be made about a connection between Global Warming and El Nino?

    As far as the tree rings go, and depending on where the trees are, it can probably be stated that there is no correlation of tree rings and El Nino.

    Science in Western society left the building about thirty years ago, and was replaced by the environmental movement. The last time it happened on a scale like this was the prelude to the Dark Ages.

  2. I have trouble putting faith in any paleo-climate or paleo-weather proxies. Even the instrument record has lots of discrepancies and causes of error; something as imprecise as tree rings seems like a weak basis for saying that one can read the magnitude or even the periods of previous ENSO cycles.

  3. The intervals between El Ninos and La Ninas shortened noticeably in the ’80s. Aha, say the warmenistas when you tell them this, but get extremely disappointed when you tell them that it was the 1880s.
    The joys of puncturing thought balloons with facts. 😀

  4. A friend [scientist] was a skeptic 10 years ago and is now a pitch man for AGW and C02. Scripps has the biggest data storage on satellite buoy water temp storage information in the world. They could use super computers 24/7/365 and not process it all. Yes the Professor now travels all over the world speaking to groups and governments seeking more grant money.

    I told him he is no longer a scientist – he is a salesman looking to increase his customer base.


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