Archive for the ‘Sea Surface Temperature’ Category

Land and Sea Temperature: South West Australia Part II: TMin

November 29, 2016

This is a quick follow up to my last post, as an update:  I’ve been reminded to show Tmin as well.   My apologies.

In this post I examine minimum temperature for Winter in South-Western Australia, and Sea Surface Temperature data for the South West Region, all straight from the Bureau of Meteorology’s Climate Change time series page .

All temperature data are in degrees Celsius anomalies from the 1961-90 average.

Fig. 1:   Southwestern Australia Winter TMin Anomalies & SST


Note that TMin roughly matches SSTs, but there are differences from TMax.  CuSums will show this:

Fig. 2:  CuSums of Winter TMin and SST compared:


Note that TMin has completely different change points, marked in red.  The major different ones are at 1949, 1956, 1964, 1990, 2000, and 2010.  There is a barely discernible point at 1976 (not 1975), so the next plots will use 1976 to show trends since then.

Fig. 3:  Trends in TMin:


Cooling since 1976 at -0.36C/100 years.

Detrending the data allows us to see where any of the winters “bucks the trend”.  In the following plots, the line at zero represents the trend as shown above.

Fig. 4:  TMin Detrended:


2016 winter TMin is 0.5C below trend, and 0.38C below average, however winter this year in southwest WA was not as cold as 1986, 1990, 2001, 2006, 2008, or 2010- according to Acorn of course.

The action is with TMax.

Land and Sea Temperature: South West Australia

November 29, 2016

This year, the south-west of Western Australia has recorded some unexpectedly low temperatures.  Has this been due to rainfall, cloud, winds, or the cooler than normal Leeuwin Current and Sea Surface Temperatures in the South West Region?

In this post I examine maximum temperature and rainfall data for Winter in South-Western Australia, and Sea Surface Temperature data for the South West Region, all straight from the Bureau of Meteorology’s Climate Change time series page .

All temperature data are in degrees Celsius anomalies from the 1961-90 average.

Figure 1 is a map showing the various Sea Surface Temperature monitoring regions around Australia.

Fig. 1


The Southwest Region is just to the west and southwest of the Southwest climate region, and winter south westerlies impact this part of the continent first.  2016’s winter has seen maxima drop sharply.  In fact, it was the coldest winter since 1993:

Fig. 2:  Southwestern Australia Winter TMax Anomalies


There is a relationship between rainfall and Tmax- as rain goes up, Tmax goes down, so here south west rainfall is inverted and scaled down by 100:

Fig. 3:  TMax and Rain:


The next plot shows TMax and the South West Region’s Sea Surface Temperature anomalies (SST):

Fig. 4:  TMax & SST:


Again, related: both have strong warming from the 1970s.  Next I check for whether there was a real change in direction in the 1970s, and if so, when.  To do this I use CuSums.

Fig. 5:  CuSums of Winter TMax and SST compared:


Both have a distinct change point: 1975, with SST warming since, but TMax appears to have a step up, with another change point at 1993 with strong warming since.  Rainfall however shows a different picture:

Fig. 6:  CuSums of Winter Rainfall


Note the major change at 1968 (a step down: see Figure 3), another at 1975 with increasing rain to the next change point at 2000, after which rain rapidly decreases.

I now plot TMax against rainfall and SST to see which has the greater influence.  First, Rain:

Fig. 7:  TMax vs Rain:


100mm more rain is associated with about 0.5C lower TMax, but R-squared is only 0.22.

Fig. 8:  TMax vs SST:


A one degree increase in SST is associated with more than 1.1C increase in TMax, and R-squared is above 0.51- a much closer fit, but still little better than fifty-fifty.

TMax is affected by rain, but more by SSTs.

I now look at data since the major change points in the 1975 winter.  The next three figures show trends in SST, Rain, and TMax.

Fig. 9:  Trends in SST:


Warming since 1975 of +1.48C/ 100 years.

Fig. 10:  Trends in Rainfall:


Decreasing since 1975 at 89mm per 100 years (and much more from 2000).

Fig. 11:  Trends in TMax:


Warming since 1975 at +2.14C per 100 years.

Detrending the data allows us to see where any of the winters “bucks the trend”.  In the following plots, the line at zero represents the trend as shown above.

Fig. 12:  SST Detrended:


Fig. 13:  Rainfall Detrended:


Fig. 14:  TMax Detrended:


Note that SST in 2016 is just below trend, but still above the 1961-90 average.  Rainfall is only slightly above trend, and still below average.  However TMax is well below trend, and well below average, showing the greatest 12 month drop in temperatures of any winter since 1975.

My conclusions (and you are welcome to comment, dispute, and suggest your own):

  • Maximum temperatures in winter in Southwestern Australia are affected by rainfall, but to a much larger extent by Sea Surface Temperature of the South West Region.
  • The large decrease in winter temperature this year cannot be explained by rainfall or sea surface temperature.  Cloudiness may be a factor, but no 2016 data are publicly available.  Stronger winds blowing from further south may be responsible.

Water World

November 15, 2016

Readers may be aware of the “Cold Blob” which is moving across the northern Pacific Ocean.  In this post I shall show sea surface temperature anomalies, and currents, in all of the world’s oceans, as shown by nullschool.

This is the colour scale for all figures, from -6C to +6C.  Zero anomaly is black.


The Arctic Ocean


The Southern Ocean


Note the large area of sea ice around Antarctica (black) surrounded by a ring of below average SSTs, with another ring of swirling eddies of warmer SSTs.  Note also the cold blob just below south-western Australia which is working its way east.

The Atlantic Ocean


The North Atlantic is predominantly unusually warm- especially the Gulf Stream.  However the South Atlantic is largely covered by a very large pool of cold water.

The Indian Ocean


The Indian Ocean Dipole between the west and the east is plain to see.  Note the colder than normal SSTs near south-western Australia which have led to some unusually cold land temperatures this winter and spring.

The Pacific Ocean


The El Nino has ended and La Nina appears to be building as the surge of cold water moves west along the Equator.  Note the cold blobs in the North Pacific, and less well defined in the South Pacific.  Note also the high SSTs near South America and around the International Date Line at 30 degrees North.

Note there are large areas of above and below normal SSTs in all ocean basins except the Arctic, where sea ice cover tends to hide water temperature below.  The Arctic ocean atmospheric temperature anomalies have recently shot up to record highs.

I now turn to the seas close to Australia.


Waters around the northern, north-western, and eastern coasts of Australia are generally 1.0 to 1.8C above normal.  This includes the area of the Great Barrier Reef.  The East Australian Current runs down the east coast and can be seen as a warm tongue spilling into the Tasman Sea.  (This is what led to the ABC’s reports about high temperatures in the Tasman Sea.)  But the Tasman Sea has several eddies of cold and warm water.  Note also the cold area to the south of Western Australia, and the cool area just to the east of Tasmania.

Warm waters around northern Australia are likely to generate extra rainfall and probably cyclones, and a strong gradient between north and south will likely lead to strong weather changes and storms.

Conclusion:  Once again, the difference between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres shows itself in sea temperatures.  Apart from the cold blob in the northern Pacific, Northern Hemisphere oceans are predominantly warmer than usual, while those of the Southern Hemisphere have large regions of both warmer and cooler water.  There is a very large cold blob in the South Atlantic, and another surrounding Antarctica.  Ocean currents constantly move thermal energy around, releasing it by radiation and evaporation mainly, and governing land temperatures hundreds of kilometres away.

The next six months should be interesting.