The climatic march toward warmer oceans and higher sea levels is not a straight line. Just as the atmospheric warming is susceptible to fluctuations we call weather for warmer and cooler days and seasons, the ocean sea level can also fluctuate widely. This year the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)'s satellites have observed a surprisingly large drop in global average sea level. Scientists attribute the anomalous drop to the flooding effects of La Niña (see GOOS El Niño/La Niña Watch). The extreme La Niña has caused such a huge increase in overland rainfall and flooding that the hydrologic cycle has actually stored huge amounts of water on land, dropping sea level. "This year, the continents got an extra dose of rain, so much so that global sea levels actually fell over most of the last year," says Carmen Boening, a JPL oceanographer and climate scientist.
An early indicator of the warming of the oceans due to climate change is the effect on on the world's corals. Coral reefs have developed slowly over eons in tropical areas with relatively constant water temperatures. Warming seas have stressed corals which respond by losing their color, or bleaching, or by simply dieing back. Coral reefs are endangered across the globe, from the Great Barrier Reef off Australia to the Caribbean. NYTIMES Article
NOAA's Coral Reef Watch Program's satellite data provide current reef environmental conditions to quickly identify areas at risk for coral bleaching, where corals lose the symbiotic algae that give them their distinctive colors. If a coral is severely bleached, disease and partial mortality become likely, and the entire colony may die.
2012 Arctic Sea Ice is Already at Record Minimum.
GOOS Satellite and in situ data help to monitor Sea Ice in Arctic.
Thanks to data collected and disseminated by the Arctic Regional Ocean Observing System, http://www.arctic-roos.org/and by national observing efforts,information about the extent of the Arctic sea ice is reported every few days, providing an early warning of changing conditions in the Arctic Ocean. Other updated observation data maybe accessed from the Arctic ROOS site at: Observations.
August 2012: Another record breaking year for sea ice extent.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) are reporting minimal Arctic sea ice extent for this time of the year. Even before the expected season for minimal sea ice, which usually occurs in September just before the Arctic begins to cool again, as the sun passes through equinox, the sea ice coverage is less than it was at this time in 2007, the year of the greatest sea ice meltback on record.
2015 El Niño Strongest since 1998
In its latest update, the WMO says the 2015 occurrence will be among the three strongest recorded since 1950.
Severe droughts and significant flooding in many parts of the world are being attributed to this El Niño.
The WMO warn these impacts are likely to increase and this event is now in "uncharted territory".
El Niño is a naturally occurring weather episode that sees the warm waters of the central Pacific expand eastwards towards North and South America.
The phenomenon, which happens every two to seven years, usually peaks late in the calendar year, although the effects can persist well into the following spring.
This year's El Niño seems to be following that pattern.
According to the WMO, the peak three month average water surface temperatures in tropical Pacific will exceed 2C above normal.
It is the strongest event since 1998 and is expected to be among the three most powerful ever recorded.
Watch an educational video prepared by WMO about El Nino: Watch ElNINO
2014 El Nino May Return as Models Signal Warming of Pacific Ocean
In an Jan 29 2014 article from Bloomberg Press (El Nino May Return) Australian Bureau of Meteorology scientists report that seasonal climate models are indicating a return to El Niño conditions after a five year hiatus. Warming of the Tropical Pacific has been detected and expected to continue through the next six months leading to the El Niño condition. Scientists are concerned that a return to El Niño will have disruptive effects on food production, especially rice and wheat crops, as well as forage for cattle. The article elaborates the situation regarding food production and recent flucuations of prices worldwide. As forecasts of this type become more accurate and reliable, we can see how important Ocean Services such as forecasts of equatorial ocean temperatures, will be to the world's economy.
2012 Higher Equatorial Temperatures May Lead to El Niño
GOOS temperature data is the basis of this graph of the El Niño3.4 index which is an indicator of central tropical Pacific El Niño conditions and can indicate the onset of the El Niño or La Niña, ocean/atmosphere circulation patterns of the Pacific Equatorial Ocean which affect weather worldwide.
2012 has seen a warming in the El Niño3.4 index, indicating a transition from La Niña to El Niño conditions. Sea surface temperatures during July continued to rise and trend warmer than average across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, the region where ENSO conditions are monitored. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, El Niño conditions will likely emerge by September.