Monday, 1 June 2009

First day of winter

Winter last year here was probably average, the year before that was very cold. The recent summer was reasonably warm with moderate heat waves over the country in late December early January. Late Autumn seems wetter and colder than usual.

All this is my subjective assessment based on memory. I have not checked the averages over the last few years and made comparisons. It is likely to be a reasonable assessment though, and I am happy to be corrected by locals who disagree.

I am going to make a prediction for this year's winter. It may seem somewhat suspicious being so close to winter, especially given the recent cold snap, but I have been thinking about this since summer.

So I predict a colder than usual winter for this year.

My reasons for this are unrelated to anthropomorphic global warming because I remain a global warming sceptic. My reasons are
  • Sunspot minimum
  • La Nina
  • Pacific Decadal Oscillation
Not only are we in a sunspot minimum, we are in a particular long one; reminiscent of the quiet periods in late 19th century, though not to the extent of the Maunder minimum.

If the southern Pacific ocean temperature anomaly is greater than 0.5 °C for 5 periods it is an El Nino, if it is less than –0.5 °C it is a La Nina. Temperatures that show less excursion are neither. El Ninos and La Ninas are of variable duration but about 1–2 years. The last cycle was a La Nina ending mid 2008. The current anomalies are less than –0.5 °C for the last 4 cycles, so if the anomaly for March-April-May is also less than (or equal to) –0.5 °C then we are in another La Nina.

The Pacific Decadal Oscillation has a cycle of about 20–30 years. It has been in a warm phase since 1977. It (probably) switched to a cool phase in 2008.

All 3 features are associated with temperature. The ocean patterns may be reflective of temperature rather than a cause of it, but even if we don't know the cause we can recognise the correlation. The current conditions of each of them individually suggest cool temperatures. All 3 of them in cool mode suggests to me that this winter is going to be colder than average.

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