El Nino – La Nina, how natural cycles control temperature

Solar-driven El Nino-La Nina events arise in the equatorial Pacific Ocean and control global weather and climate on annual, decadal, and multidecadal time frames. El Nino is the warm cycle; La Nina is the cold cycle. Together they are known as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Currently we are in a La Nina cycle.

The graphic below shows the relative sea surface temperatures for February, 2022. (Blue is cold, red is warm.)

Sea surface temps Feb 2022JPG

You can see the correlation of the El Nino-La Nina cycles with temperatures derived from global measurements by satellite:

ENSO and temp

According to an article by meteorologist Paul Dorian, “Numerous computer models suggest that these colder-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific will last into at least the beginning part of the upcoming summer season. If so, La Nina may indeed have an impact on global tropical activity this summer as it did during the last tropical season in 2021. In addition to its impact on tropical activity in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, these back-to-back La Nina episodes have seemingly affected global temperatures during the past many months which have dropped to nearly normal levels in the latest monthly reading.”

“What goes on in the tropical Pacific Ocean with respect to ENSO does indeed have an effect on tropical activity in the Atlantic Basin. El Nino, which refers to warmer-than-normal waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, tends to be an inhibiting factor for tropical storm formation/intensification in the Atlantic Basin.”

“On the other hand, La Nina, which refers to colder-than-normal waters in the equatorial part of the Pacific Ocean, is usually correlated with weaker wind shear over the breeding grounds of the tropical Atlantic Ocean. This typically leads to a more favorable environment in the tropical Atlantic for the development/intensification of tropical activity. Indeed, with La Nina in full force last summer, the Atlantic Basin tropical season was the third-most active on record in terms of the number of named storms with 21.”

In other words, we can expect a strong hurricane season this year.

For more information, see my post:

An Illustrated Guide to El Nino and La Nina and How They Control Climate

See also:

A Review of the state of Climate Science

The Broken Greenhouse – Why Co2 Is a Minor Player in Global Climate