Myth: El Nino/La Nina transitions caused by wind

This 2-D heat map, from Jialin Lin’s research group at The Ohio State University, shows the eastward propagation of the ocean subsurface wave leading to switch from La Niña to El Niño.

The above is from an informative OSU press release from last year titled Solving climate’s toughest questions, one challenge at a time. The following quotes are from that page, bold emphasis mine.

Jialin Lin, associate professor of geography, has spent the last two decades tackling those challenges, and in the past two years, he’s had breakthroughs in answering two of forecasting’s most pernicious questions: predicting the shift between El Niño and La Niña and predicting which hurricanes will rapidly intensify.

Now, he’s turning his attention to creating more accurate models predicting global warming and its impacts, leading an international team of 40 climate experts to create a new book identifying the highest-priority research questions for the next 30-50 years.

… still to be published

Lin set out to create a model that could accurately identify ENSO shifts by testing — and subsequently ruling out — all the theories and possibilities earlier researchers had proposed. Then, Lin realized current models only considered surface temperatures, and he decided to dive deeper.

He downloaded 140 years of deep-ocean temperature data, analyzed them and made a breakthrough discovery.

“After 20 years of research, I finally found that the shift was caused by an ocean wave 100 to 200 meters down in the deep ocean,” Lin said, whose research was published in a Nature journal. “The propagation of this wave from the western Pacific to the eastern Pacific generates the switch from La Niña to El Niño.”

The wave repeatedly appeared two years before an El Niño event developed, but Lin went one step further to explain what generated the wave and discovered it was caused by the moon’s tidal gravitational force.

“The tidal force is even easier to predict,” Lin said. “That will widen the possibility for an even longer lead of prediction. Now you can predict not only for two years before, but 10 years before.”

Essentially, the idea is that these subsurface waves can in no way be caused by surface wind as the latter only are observed later (likely as an after-effect of the sub-surface thermocline nearing the surface and thus modifying the atmospheric pressure gradient). This counters the long-standing belief that ENSO transitions occur as a result of prevailing wind shifts.

The other part of the article concerns correlating hurricane intensification is also interesting.

p.s. It’s all tides : Climatic Drivers of Extreme Sea Level Events Along the
Coastline of Western Australia

Low #DOF ENSO Model

Given two models of a physical behavior, the “better” model has the highest correlation (or lowest error) to the data and the lowest number of degrees of freedom (#DOF) in terms of tunable parameters. This ratio CC/#DOF of correlation coefficient over DOF is routinely used in automated symbolic regression algorithms and for scoring of online programming contests. A balance between a good error metric and a low complexity score is often referred to as a Pareto frontier.

So for modeling ENSO, the challenge is to fit the quasi-periodic NINO34 time-series with a minimal number of tunable parameters. For a 140 year fitting interval (1880-1920), a naive Fourier series fit could easily take 50-100 sine waves of varying frequencies, amplitudes, and phase to match a low-pass filtered version of the data (any high-frequency components may take many more). However that is horribly complex model and obviously prone to over-fitting. Obviously we need to apply some physics to reduce the #DOF.

Since we know that ENSO is essentially a model of equatorial fluid dynamics in response to a tidal forcing, all that is needed is the gravitational potential along the equator. The paper by Na [1] has software for computing the orbital dynamics of the moon (i.e. lunar ephemerides) and a 1st-order approximation for tidal potential:

The software contains well over 100 sinusoidal terms (each consisting of amplitude, frequency, and phase) to internally model the lunar orbit precisely. Thus, that many DOF are removed, with a corresponding huge reduction in complexity score for any reasonable fit. So instead of a huge set of factors to manipulate (as with many detailed harmonic tidal analyses), what one is given is a range (r = R) and a declination ( ψ=delta) time-series. These are combined in a manner following the figure from Na shown above, essentially adjusting the amplitudes of R and delta while introducing an additional tangential or tractional projection of delta (sin instead of cos). The latter is important as described in NOAA’s tide producing forces page.

Although I roughly calibrated this earlier [2] via NASA’s HORIZONS ephemerides page (input parameters shown on the right), the Na software allows better flexibility in use. The two calculations essentially give identical outputs and independent verification that the numbers are as expected.

As this post is already getting too long, this is the result of doing a Laplace’s Tidal Equation fit (adding a few more DOF), demonstrating that the limited #DOF prevents over-fitting on a short training interval while cross-validating outside of this band.

or this

This low complexity and high accuracy solution would win ANY competition, including the competition for best seasonal prediction with a measly prize of 15,000 Swiss francs [3]. A good ENSO model is worth billions of $$ given the amount it will save in agricultural planning and its potential for mitigation of human suffering in predicting the timing of climate extremes.

REFERENCES

[1] Na, S.-H. Chapter 19 – Prediction of Earth tide. in Basics of Computational Geophysics (eds. Samui, P., Dixon, B. & Tien Bui, D.) 351–372 (Elsevier, 2021). doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-820513-6.00022-9.

[2] Pukite, P.R. et al “Ephemeris calibration of Laplace’s tidal equation model for ENSO” AGU Fall Meeting, 2018. doi:10.1002/essoar.10500568.1

[3] 1 CHF ~ $1 so 15K = chump change.


Added: High resolution power spectra of ENSO forcing
see link

The Search for Order

Chap 10 Mathematical Geoenergy

For the LTE formulation along the equator, the analytical solution reduces to g(f(t)), where g(x) is a periodic function. Without knowing what g(x) is, we can use the frequency-domain entropy or spectral entropy of the Fourier series mapping an estimated x=f(t) forcing amplitude to a measured climate index time series such as ENSO. The frequency-domain entropy is the sum or integral of this mapping of x to g(x) in reciprocal space applying the Shannon entropy –I(f).ln(I(f)) normalized over the I(f) frequency range, which is the power spectral (frequency) density of the mapping from the modeled forcing to the time-series waveform sample.

This measures the entropy or degree of disorder of the mapping. So to maximize the degree of order, we minimize this entropy value.

This calculated entropy is a single scalar metric that eliminates the need for evaluating various cyclic g(x) patterns to achieve the best fit. Instead, what it does is point to a highly-ordered spectrum (top panel in the above figure), of which the delta spikes can then be reverse engineered to deduce the primary frequency components arising from the the LTE modulation factor g(x).

The approach works particularly well once the spectral spikes begin to emerge from the background. In terms of a physical picture, what is actually emerging are the principle standing wave solutions for particular wavenumbers. One can see this in the LTE modulation spectrum below where there is a spike at a wavenumber at 1.5 and one at around 10 in panel A (isolating the sin spectrum and cosine spectrum separately instead of the quadrature of the two giving the spectral intensity). This is then reverse engineered as a fit to the actual LTE modulation g(x) in panel B. Panel D is the tidal forcing x=f(t) that minimized the Shannon entropy, thus creating the final fit g(f(t)) in panel C when the LTE modulation is applied to the forcing.

The approach does work, which is quite a boon to the efficiency of iterative fitting towards a solution, reducing the number of DOF involved in the calculation. Prior to this, a guess for the LTE modulation was required and the iterative fit would need to evolve towards the optimal modulation periods. In other words, either approach works, but the entropy approach may provide a quicker and more efficient path to discovering the underlying standing-wave order.

I will eventually add this to the LTE fitting software distro available on GitHub. This may also be applicable to other measures of entropy such as Tallis, Renyi, multi-scale, and perhaps Bispectral entropy, and will add those to the conventional Shannon entropy measure as needed.

ESD Ideas article for review

Get a Copernicus login and comment for peer-review

The simple idea is that tidal forces play a bigger role in geophysical behaviors than previously thought, and thus helping to explain phenomena that have frustrated scientists for decades.

The idea is simple but the non-linear math (see figure above for ENSO) requires cracking to discover the underlying patterns.

The rationale for the ESD Ideas section in the EGU Earth System Dynamics journal is to get discussion going on innovative and novel ideas. So even though this model is worked out comprehensively in Mathematical Geoenergy, it hasn’t gotten much publicity.

If you want to learn how to build a house, then build a house

A ridiculous paper on the uncertainty of climate models is under post-publication review at peerpub.com

What drives me more nuts is why everyone is trying to correct what a blithering idiot (P. Frank) is advancing instead of just solving the differential equations and modeling the climate variability. Does everyone think we will actually make any progress by correcting the poor sod’s freshman homework assignment?

Instead, let’s get going and finish off the tidal model of ENSO. That will do more than anything else to quash the endless discussion over how much natural climate variability is acceptable to be able to discern an AGW trend.

Continue reading

Asymptotic QBO Period

The modeled QBO cycle is directly related to the nodal (draconian) lunar cycle physically aliased against the annual cycle.  The empirical cycle period is best estimated by tracking the peak acceleration of the QBO velocity time-series, as this acceleration (1st derivative of the velocity) shows a sharp peak. This value should asymptotically approach a 2.368 year period over the long term.  Since the recent data from the main QBO repository provides an additional acceleration peak from the past month, now is as good a time as any to analyze the cumulative data.



The new data-point provides a longer period which compensated for some recent shorter periods, such that the cumulative mean lies right on the asymptotic line. The jitter observed is explainable in terms of the model, as acceleration peaks are more prone to align close to an annual impulse. But the accumulated mean period is still aligned to the draconic aliasing with this annual impulse. As more data points come in over the coming decades, the mean should vary less and less from the asymptotic value.

The fit to QBO using all the data save for the last available data point is shown below.  Extrapolating beyond the green arrow, we should see an uptick according to the red waveform.



Adding the recent data-point and the blue waveform does follow the model.



There was a flurry of recent discussion on the QBO anomaly of 2016 (shown as a split peak above), which implied that perhaps the QBO would be permanently disrupted from it’s long-standing pattern. Instead, it may be a more plausible explanation that the QBO pattern was not simply wandering from it’s assumed perfectly cyclic path but instead is following a predictable but jittery track that is a combination of the (physically-aliased) annual impulse-synchronized Draconic cycle together with a sensitivity to variations in the draconic cycle itself. The latter calibration is shown below, based on NASA ephermeris.



This is the QBO spectral decomposition, showing signal strength centered on the fundamental aliased Draconic value, both for the data and the set by the model.


The main scientist, Prof. Richard Lindzen, behind the consensus QBO model has been recently introduced here as being “considered the most distinguished living climate scientist on the planet”.  In his presentation criticizing AGW science [1], Lindzen claimed that the climate oscillates due to a steady uniform force, much like a violin oscillates when the steady force of a bow is drawn across its strings.  An analogy perhaps better suited to reality is that the violin is being played like a drum. Resonance is more of a decoration to the beat itself.
Keith 🌛 ?

[1] Professor Richard Lindzen slammed conventional global warming thinking warming as ‘nonsense’ in a lecture for the Global Warming Policy Foundation on Monday. ‘An implausible conjecture backed by false evidence and repeated incessantly … is used to promote the overturn of industrial civilization,’ he said in London. — GWPF

MJO

The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is a climate index that captures tropical variability at a finer resolution (i.e. intra-annual) than the (inter-annual) ENSO index over approximately the same geographic region.  Since much of the MJO variability is observed as 30 to 60 day cycles (and these are traveling waves, not standing waves), providing MJO data as a monthly time-series will filter out the fast cycles. Still, it is interesting to analyze the monthly MJO data and compare/contrast that to ENSO. As a disclaimer, it is known that inter-annual variability of the MJO is partly linked to ENSO, but the following will clearly show that connection.

This is the fit of MJO (longitude index #1) using the ENSO model as a starting point (either the NINO34 or SOI works equally well).

The constituent temporal forcing factors for MJO and ENSO align precisely

This is not surprising because the monthly filtered MJO does show the same El Nino peaks at 1983, 1998, and 2016 as the ENSO time-series. The only difference is in the LTE spatial modulation applied during the fitting process, whereby the MJO has a stronger high-wavenumber factor than the ENSO time series.

This is the SOI fit over the same 1980+ interval as MJO, with an almost 0.6 correlation.

 

AO

The Arctic Oscillation (AO) dipole has behavior that is correlated to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) dipole.   We can see this in two ways. First, and most straight-forwardly, the correlation coefficient between the AO and NAO time-series is above 0.6.

Secondly, we can use the model of the NAO from the last post and refit the parameters to the AO data (data also here), but spanning an orthogonal interval. Then we can compare the constituent lunisolar factors for NAO and AO for correlation, and further discover that this also doubles as an effective cross-validation for the underlying LTE model (as the intervals are orthogonal).

Top panel is a model fit for AO between 1900-1950, and below that is a model fit for NAO between 1950-present. The lower pane is the correlation for a common interval (left) and for the constituent lunisolar factors for the orthogonal interval (right)

Only the anomalistic factor shows an imperfect correlation, and that remains quite high.

NAO

The challenge of validating the models of climate oscillations such as ENSO and QBO, rests primarily in our inability to perform controlled experiments. Because of this shortcoming, we can either do (1) predictions of future behavior and validate via the wait-and-see process, or (2) creatively apply techniques such as cross-validation on currently available data. The first is a non-starter because it’s obviously pointless to wait decades for validation results to confirm a model, when it’s entirely possible to do something today via the second approach.

There are a variety of ways to perform model cross-validation on measured data.

In its original and conventional formulation, cross-validation works by checking one interval of time-series against another, typically by training on one interval and then validating on an orthogonal interval.

Another way to cross-validate is to compare two sets of time-series data collected on behaviors that are potentially related. For example, in the case of ocean tidal data that can be collected and compared across spatially separated geographic regions, the sea-level-height (SLH) time-series data will not necessarily be correlated, but the underlying lunar and solar forcing factors will be closely aligned give or take a phase factor. This is intuitively understandable since the two locations share a common-mode signal forcing due to the gravitational pull of the moon and sun, with the differences in response due to the geographic location and local spatial topology and boundary conditions. For tides, this is a consensus understanding and tidal prediction algorithms have stood the test of time.

In the previous post, cross-validation on distinct data sets was evaluated assuming common-mode lunisolar forcing. One cross-validation was done between the ENSO time-series and the AMO time-series. Another cross-validation was performed for ENSO against PDO. The underlying common-mode lunisolar forcings were highly correlated as shown in the featured figure.  The LTE spatial wave-number weightings were the primary discriminator for the model fit. This model is described in detail in the book Mathematical GeoEnergy to be published at the end of the year by Wiley.

Another common-mode cross-validation possible is between ENSO and QBO, but in this case it is primarily in the Draconic nodal lunar factor — the cyclic forcing that appears to govern the regular oscillations of QBO.  Below is the Draconic constituent comparison for QBO and the ENSO.

The QBO and ENSO models only show a common-mode correlated response with respect to the Draconic forcing. The Draconic forcing drives the quasi-periodicity of the QBO cycles, as can be seen in the lower right panel, with a small training window.

This cross-correlation technique can be extended to what appears to be an extremely erratic measure, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).

Like the SOI measure for ENSO, the NAO is originally derived from a pressure dipole measured at two separate locations — but in this case north of the equator.  From the high-frequency of the oscillations, a good assumption is that the spatial wavenumber factors are much higher than is required to fit ENSO. And that was the case as evidenced by the figure below.

ENSO vs NAO cross-validation

Both SOI and NAO are noisy time-series with the NAO appearing very noisy, yet the lunisolar constituent forcings are highly synchronized as shown by correlations in the lower pane. In particular, summing the Anomalistic and Solar constituent factors together improves the correlation markedly, which is because each of those has influence on the other via the lunar-solar mutual gravitational attraction. The iterative fitting process adjusts each of the factors independently, yet the net result compensates the counteracting amplitudes so the net common-mode factor is essentially the same for ENSO and NAO (see lower-right correlation labelled Anomalistic+Solar).

Since the NAO has high-frequency components, we can also perform a conventional cross-validation across orthogonal intervals. The validation interval below is for the years between 1960 and 1990, and even though the training intervals were aggressively over-fit, the correlation between the model and data is still visible in those 30 years.

NAO model fit with validation spanning 1960 to 1990

Over the course of time spent modeling ENSO, the effort that went into fitting to NAO was a fraction of the original time. This is largely due to the fact that the temporal lunisolar forcing only needed to be tweaked to match other climate indices, and the iteration over the topological spatial factors quickly converges.

Many more cross-validation techniques are available for NAO, since there are different flavors of NAO indices available corresponding to different Atlantic locations, and spanning back to the 1800’s.

ENSO, AMO, PDO and common-mode mechanisms

The basis of the ENSO model is the forcing derived from the long-period cyclic lunisolar gravitational pull of the moon and sun. There is some thought that ENSO shows teleconnections to other oceanic behaviors. The primary oceanic dipoles are ENSO and AMO for the Pacific and Atlantic. There is also the PDO for the mid-northern-latitude of the Pacific, which has a pattern distinct from ENSO. So the question is: Are these connected through interactions or do they possibly share a common-mode mechanism through the same lunisolar forcing mechanism?

Based on tidal behaviors, it is known that the gravitational pull varies geographically, so it would be understandable that ENSO, AMO, and PDO would demonstrate distinct time-series signatures. In checking this, you will find that the correlation coefficient between any two of these series is essentially zero, regardless of applied leads or lags. Yet the underlying component factors (the lunar Draconic, lunar Anomalistic, and solar modified terms) may potentially emerge with only slight variations in shape, with differences only in relative amplitude. This is straightforward to test by fitting the basic ENSO model to AMO and PDO by allowing the parameters to vary.

The following figure is the result of fitting the model to ENSO, AMO, and PDO and then comparing the constituent factors.

First, note that the same parametric model fits each of the time series arguably well. The Draconic factor underling both the ENSO and AMO model is almost perfectly aligned, indicated by the red starred graph, with excursions showing a CC above 0.99. All of the rest of the CC’s in fact are above 0.6.

The upshot of this analysis is two-fold. First to consider how difficult it is to fit any one of these time series to a minimal set of periodically-forced signals. Secondly that the underlying signals are not that different in character, only that the combination in terms of a Laplace’s tidal equation weighting are what couples them together via a common-mode mechanism. Thus, the teleconnection between these oceanic indices is likely an underlying common lunisolar tidal forcing, just as one would suspect from conventional tidal analysis.