The Pacific Ocean is developing an interesting pattern that is different from the more well known El Nino/La Nina cycles that officially go by ENSO. Instead a very powerful cool phase of the pattern known as PDO is developing. The PDO was last in the cool phase back in the early 1970’s. Since then it has typically been in what is called the warm phase. I have compared the current pattern to the available records that extend back to 1998 and I cannot find anything that even compares to the well defined nature of the current ‘cool’ PDO.
The PDO has gotten a lot of attention from Skeptics who argue that the switch from cool phase to warm phase back in the 1970’s correlated to the warming that subsequently took place globally. Certainly there is a correlation, but of course that does not equal causation. The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation also went from cool to warm in the same time period. How much influence each had is currently impossible to determine. If climate scientists were doing their job instead of trying to convince the public about global warming there would be much more known about this.
What is known is that the climate and precipitation in the western US this year has been atypical for the past decade. Last years La Nina did not adequately explain it, but the formation of the ‘cool’ phase PDO might. Unfortunately the drought in the southeast might also be an indicator. The entanglement between the oceans and climate makes it difficult to truly know what to expect, but I will make one prediction. The cooler than average places will be ignored and the warmer than average places will be hyped. Much like what has already happened this year as the West has been mild to say the least.
What this really highlights is the stupidity of caring about the overall global Sea Surface Temperature. Picking an anomaly that is based on long term averages of various oscillations in ocean temperature just wastes time. Understanding the different patterns and the relative strength of the patterns would be far more useful. Of course that would not help push global warming so that path is not taken. That is the real casualty of the global warming debate. Science is so concerned with proving (or disproving) global warming that real science has been lost. We are not ready for the cool PDO because it has been largely ignored.
If the past year is any indicator, then we are about to get a large dose of ‘cool’ phase PDO. What is going on six months from now will be interesting because for the most part, it will not be expected.