Archive for April, 2014

Apr 11 2014

El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion

issued by
and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society
10 April 2014

ENSO Alert System Status: El NiñoWatch

Synopsis: While ENSO-neutral is favored for Northern Hemisphere spring, the chances of El Niño increase during the remainder of the year, exceeding 50% by summer.

ENSO-neutral continued during March 2014, but with above-average sea surface temperatures (SST) developing over much of the eastern tropical Pacific as well as near the International Date Line (Fig. 1).


The weekly SSTs were below average in the Niño1+2 region, near average but rising in Niño3 and Niño3.4 regions, and above average in the Niño4 region (Fig. 2).


A significant downwelling oceanic Kelvin wave that was initiated in January greatly increased the oceanic heat content to the largest March value in the historical record back to 1979 (Fig. 3) and produced large positive subsurface temperature anomalies across the central and eastern Pacific (Fig. 4).



Also during March, low-level westerly wind anomalies were observed over the central equatorial Pacific. Convection was suppressed over western Indonesia, and enhanced over the central equatorial Pacific (Fig. 5). Although these atmospheric and oceanic conditions collectively reflect ENSO-neutral, they also reflect a clear evolution toward an El Niño state.


The model predictions of ENSO for this summer and beyond are indicating an increased likelihood of El Niño this year compared with last month. Most of the models indicate that ENSO-neutral (Niño-3.4 index between -0.5oC and 0.5oC) will persist through much of the remainder of the Northern Hemisphere spring 2014 (Fig. 6), with many models predicting the development of El Niño sometime during the summer or fall.


Despite this greater model consensus, there remains considerable uncertainty as to when El Niño will develop and how strong it may become. This uncertainty is amplified by the inherently lower forecast skill of the models for forecasts made in the spring. While ENSO-neutral is favored for Northern Hemisphere spring, the chances of El Niño increase during the remainder of the year, and exceed 50% by the summer (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome).

This discussion is a consolidated effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA’s National Weather Service, and their funded institutions. Oceanic and atmospheric conditions are updated weekly on the Climate Prediction Center web site (El Niño/La Niña Current Conditions and Expert Discussions). Forecasts for the evolution of El Niño/La Niña are updated monthly in the Forecast Forum section of CPC’s Climate Diagnostics Bulletin. The next ENSO Diagnostics Discussion is scheduled for 8 May 2014. To receive an e-mail notification when the monthly ENSO Diagnostic Discussions are released, please send an e-mail message to:

Climate Prediction Center
National Centers for Environmental Prediction
NOAA/National Weather Service
College Park, MD 20740

Apr 5 2014

Giant squid escapes icy tomb

27 March, 2014 3:06PM AEST By Lucinda Kent


One of the ocean’s monsters is being revealed to the public for the first time in the Queensland Museum’s latest exhibition.

The giant squid has been thawed and preserved for public display at the Queensland Museum for the first time. (ABC Multiplatform:Lucinda Kent)

A giant squid that was found frozen in a block of ice has been thawed and meticulously preserved by scientists for display in the Deep Oceans exhibition.

See more photos at the 612 ABC Brisbane Facebook page.

Mollusc expert Darryl Potter says the squid on display may seem large at around seven metres long, but the species can grow all the way up to 13 metres in length including their ‘club tentacles’ used for killing prey.

Giant squid live in some of the deepest parts of the ocean and were thought to be mythological creatures until around 100 years ago, but the first sighting of a live giant squid in the ocean was in September 2004.

“They were spotted by mariners in early days and that lead to the tales of monsters from the deep,” Mr Potter said.

“That of course led to all your science fiction movies with grossly distorted facts about the size of these things and what they ate.”

Mr Potter says the giant squid on display in the Deep Oceans exhibition, is known as Cal, short for calamari, is one of the best preserved specimens in the world.

Breaking the ice

Cal the squid had previously been on display at Underwater World on the Sunshine Coast, where it was kept frozen in the block of ice it was found in, which kept the creature intact before museum scientists used professional preservation techniques.

“We brought it back to the museum here and it took about three days of chipping through the ice very carefully because you didn’t want to damage any of the appendages,” he said.

“Not only just chipping through it but there’s a lot of ice that was inside it that had to thaw, it sat around for about a week completely thawing.”

Museum workers had to don protective ‘spacesuits’ while they applied chemicals that keep the animal’s skin, tentacles, and head permanently fixed.

The squid has been kept in the museum laboratories for the past 5 years and can be seen for the first time out of the ice at the Deep Oceans exhibit at the Queensland Museum from 28 March to 6 October 2014.

Apr 3 2014

Exotic Opah in San Diego Harbor

‘Craziest day ever’ as exotic opah beaches itself in San Diego Harbor

It’s unclear how the colorful, deep-water denizen got so far off-track

by Pete Thomas |


Brandon Buono poses with 91-pound opah that was found swimming in front of Fisherman’s Landing; photo by Doug Kern

The opah is a solitary denizen of deep water and caught very rarely by anglers fishing far offshore for other species.

So folks at Fisherman’s Landing Tackle in San Diego were understandably surprised this week to discover that a 91-pound opah had swum right up to the dock area, where it was promptly gaffed by a landing employee.

That would mean the exotic opah either swam into and through much of San Diego Harbor to reach the landing, or the colorful fish was somehow delivered alive—say, in the ballast of a ship or the hold of a commercial fishing boat.


Exotic opah after its capture at Fisherman’s Landing; photo by Doug Kern

Either way, it was a bizarre event, one that led landing co-owner Doug Kern to write on Facebook: “CRAZIEST DAY EVER AT FISHERMAN’S LANDING!”

Kern, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, also posted this statement: “I never would have believed it if I wasn’t there to see it. The fish was swimming around in circles and then just beached itself. Brandon [Buono, a landing employee] got a gaff and pulled it up on the sand.”

Opah are large and colorful fish that roam tropical and temperate seas and are delicious as table fare. They’re caught mostly by long-lining commercial fishermen targeting tuna and other pelagic fish. However, they’re caught very sporadically by anglers on San Diego’s long-range sportfishing fleet, which targets tuna and wahoo in Mexican waters.

One of the Facebook comments reads, “That was the El Nino messenger,” in reference to a warm-water event that appears to be developing in the eastern Pacific and could result in sending exotic species of fish far north of their typical range.

Those fish might include opah, yellowfin tuna, or mahi-mahi. But don’t count on any of those fish swimming ashore.