21 October 2013

Question place!

Been a while since I hung out the shingle for questions.  Have at it.

Also, a couple astronomical things have come up in my 3d life, so remember that's an area to think/ask about too.


Brian said...

Hi Bob - in La Nina years, we're pumping more heat into the oceans and less in the atmosphere. So when does that extra heat come back to the surface? If it's many many decades in the future, we might discount the harm we'll ultimately experience, but if it's only a few years, then La Nina years haven't really bought us any advantages.


Robert Grumbine said...

La Nina are the cold phase of the El Nino - Southern Oscillation. Cold for the eastern Pacific, that is. The heat is buried in the Western Pacific during La Nina. When the cycle returns to the warm phase (El Nino), the warm water from the west sloshes to the east and the heat gets released back to the atmosphere.

This cycle takes 3-8 years. In terms of climate, this is a bump on the general trend. As the tremendously warm 1998 El Nino showed, this bump can be pretty large. The last decade, we've been seeing mostly La Nina, which makes things look cooler than they'd otherwise be.

Brian said...

So if I've got it right, an intense La Nina might mean a colder-than-average year, but that increases the likelihood of warmer-than-average temps 3-8 years in the future?

I suppose the reverse is also true - a 1998-strength El Nino will leave the oceans cooler and atmosphere warmer than would otherwise have been the case, and increase the likelihood of colder years subsequently?

Alastair said...


I've got a question that you may be able to answer with your sea ice hat on.

Why is it that the minimum volume anomally of ice appears in mid summer and not in September when the minimum volume happens? See piomas

Hank Roberts said...

on ocean heat, this comment by Isaac Held at his blog seemed good questions to look into: http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2013/09/23/41-the-hiatus-and-drought-in-the-u-s/#comment-3548

Bayesian Bouffant said...

Care to comment on this?
Massive offshore turbine arrays would help us harness hurricanes

Robert Grumbine said...

Looks very fun, Bouffant. I'll take it up in a full post on Monday.

My first reaction, and always main line, response is -- if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

But (and I haven't worked it out yet) it's worth delving in to the hows and whys at some length. And maybe the result of my further thoughts will be favorable. _Some_ of the amazing things suggested to be true, like the phenomenal computing power we now have, turn out to be both true and good. Still, as a conservative, my expectation is that the new thing doesn't really work.