Across the globe, changes in salinity over time generally match changes in precipitation: places where rainfall declines become saltier, while places where rainfall increases become fresher. Where did saltiness change over the past decade?
Through June, the eastern Pacific was warmer than average, but the lack of a strong gradient in sea surface temperature anomalies between the eastern and western Pacific may have kept the atmosphere from getting in sync with the developing El Niño.
The globally averaged sea surface temperature in 2013 was among the 10 highest on record, with the North Pacific reaching an historic high temperature. ENSO-neutral conditions and a negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation pattern had the largest impacts on global sea surface temperature in 2013.
Upper ocean heat content has increased significantly over the past two decades. An estimated 70 percent of the excess heat has accumulated in the top 2,000 feet of the ocean, and the rest has flowed into deeper ocean layers.
In 2013, global average sea level was 1.5 inches above the 1993-2010 average, which is the highest yearly average in the satellite record (1993-present). Overall, sea level continues to rise at a rate of one-eighth of an inch per year.
For the billions of people in Asia who depend on the Indian Monsoon for the majority of their yearly rainfall, the precise location where the Pacific warms during El Niño may be the difference between a relatively normal year and a devastating drought.
A pool of warm water lurking beneath the surface of the western Pacific has been slowly sloshing eastward in the past few months. This traveling wave of warm water is one of the signs that climate conditions are favorable for the emergence of El Niño later this year.
(VIDEO) Without a strong influence from El Niño or La Niña, the U.S. winter climate is less predictable. Based on recent trends, however, drought is likely to develop in the Southwest and Southeast over the 2013-14 winter.
Traditional weather forecasts consist of weather maps that predict exactly how much rain may fall or the maximum daily temperature of an area. NOAA climate outlooks forecast the odds that future weather conditions will be above, below, or near normal.
The most likely explanation for the lack of significant warming at the Earth’s surface in the past decade or so is that natural climate cycles caused shifts in ocean circulation patterns that moved some excess heat into the deep ocean.