California Drought Report #62: How Much Global Cooling Will We See On Transition To La Niña?

Anthony Watts writes:

The potential for the massive El Niño to transition into La Niña later in the year is one of the hottest topics in commodities markets right now. The short question-and-answer session would look like this: Are we headed for La Niña toward the end of 2016? Looks that way. Will it be a big one? Not sure.

A La Niña environment has already begun to develop. Cooler waters are building beneath the surface in the Pacific Ocean and El Niño-supporting trade winds have lessened. But sea surface temperatures, or SSTs, in the defining region of the Pacific remain very warm, so we are still amid a strong El Niño event.

It is helpful to look for historical instances in which El Niño turned into La Niña through the course of a year. This has occurred only a handful of times since 1982, but there are enough similarities among these analogs that we can use them to inform this year’s likely outcome.


Selected analog years suggest that huge dropoffs of SST anomalies into negative, La Niña-defining territory are likely to take place between April and July. These analogs also suggest that when the SST anomalies cross into negative territory later than June, a weaker La Niña event is likely to follow.

With a cool PDO and La Niña event on the horizon, we can expect more drought in our future. The current rain and snow will provide enough water for several more years, but the long-term potential is for more drought. This graphic shows the potential impact of Negative (Cool) PDO and La Niña event

West With Out Water page 54

About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
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