Thursday, January 30, 2014

Too Much to Ask For?

I've been thinking about ENSO and the tradewinds lately.

Both times that we crossed the Pacific we had La Niña conditions, which involve enhanced trades (which blow east to west, natch).  From Fiji onwards, especially in 2008, we had really booming conditions - 25 knot southeasterlies, day after day.

In a Niño year, though, the Pacific trades weaken, or even reverse, and blow west to east.

Can you see why this might be an interesting possibility for a family intending to sail their boat from New Zealand to South America via the tropics?

I've been watching the ENSO pattern pretty closely for the last few years for my work - ENSO is linked to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation pattern, which has strong implications for Alaskan marine ecosystems.  The world has been in a strong PDO-negative/La Niña state since about 2007/08.  There's only been one Niño in that time (in 2010), and the Niño forecast to appear in 2013 failed to materialize.

The current prediction is for continued ENSO-neutral conditions through 2014.  But there is some chance of a Niño developing - 25% according to the consensus prediction published by NOAA, with the seasonal Climate Forecast System (something else I'm interested in for work) showing a switch to Niño conditions around June or so of this year.

Would it be too much to ask for??

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