US/EUROPE LONG RANGE: A Look At The Quiet Sun, QBO, El Nino, SST Comparison!

Written by on July 21, 2014 in Rest of Europe, United States of America with 0 Comments

While there’s some very interesting developments in the current phase of solar cycle 24 which this post is based on, I also want to show the striking similarity between current global sea surface temps and El Nino to back at the same time in 2009. Summer is warmer than 2009 in the UK while it’s chilly but not as cold as 2009 in the US.

Jul 17, 2014


Jul 16, 2009


The reason for showing this is because we have a similar global SST, El Nino and warm/cool distribution over the continents while the solar cycle is going quiet following it’s double peak back last winter. Solar cycle 24 remains one of the weakest in the last century with a weaker maximum than 23 and it’s all part of a downward trend which started back in the late 1990s.

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The solar cycle and Nino could deem very important as we head towards winter once again. The peaking of the cycle along other drivers, likely led to our warm and stormy winter here in Europe but as the downturn off the max continues and the projected El Nino behaves like it did in 2009 in which the warm pool in the Pacific set up in the central Pacific, a sharp downturn in global temperature including Europe looks more likely.

Note in the graphic below the much weaker solar max in cycle 24 compared with 23 and the sharp downturn since. Sure Europe is a warm place right now but as posted in recent days, the rubber band may be about to snap as the weaker sun ‘should’ lead to more easterly winds around the pole (QBO) this upcoming winter with more North Atlantic blocking rather than just Pacific like last year.


Just how quiet has the sun become in recent days?


Back when I was compiling last winter’s forecast, admittedly the solar peaking did not come into it as much as it should and for those of us who look at solar cycles etc know that the sun can plays a critical role.

Just look at the top graphic and notice the extreme solar minimum between cycle 23 and 24 which occurred right on top of winter in 2009-10. We had record or near record high latitude blocking with a strong Greenland block (strong easterly QBO) which drew Siberian air into the UK from the east frequently.


The big question I need to consider is, does this current downturn off the weak peaking of cycle 23 have enough warming influence at high altitudes (stratosphere) and cooling down below in response to bring us another cold winter again or does this downturn need to progress further. In other words, will the cycle and activity be weak enough this upcoming winter to have influence over Europe. Despite being a weaker cycle, we aren’t heading for a minimum this winter like we saw in 2009 but will be interesting to see whether the overall weaker cycle overrides.

There is firm evidence of change, directly linked to the solar cycle downturn.

Courtesy/Credit: Michael J Ventrice

Courtesy/Credit: Michael J Ventrice

Check out the weakening of the polar westerlies (QBO) which have been dominant since last summer. The QBO almost certainly is heading for an easterly which means increased warming of the polar stratosphere, thus colder for BOTH United States and Europe next winter!

Models show a modoki or central Pacific based El Nino which is exactly what we had in winter 2009 but if the El Nino turns out stronger than expected with warmest waters nearer the South American coast, that ‘could’ lead to a warmer winter but I strongly believe a central Pacific based Nino is more likely, especially with the current solar state. The weaker the sun, the greater the probability of warming within the polar stratosphere which leads to the big cold outbreaks.

Both Jamstec and CFSv2 long range models show a modoki El Nino for winter 2014-15



The warmth and cool over the UK and Western Europe can be nicely tracked by what the NAO is up to. We’ve been largely dominated by ridging of late providing our second ‘good summer’ in a row following largely miserable ones between 2007 and 2012.

When looking at the NAO, notice it’s been slightly positive (below) but it’s set to go negative. I suspect a more negative NAO this upcoming winter with the downturn in solar activity and increase in stratospheric warmth as the westerly winds around the pole slacken and reverse. The upcoming autumn will be interesting to watch as this season, like in spring can provide great insight for an upcoming cold or warm season. Right now, ill be watching for a predominantly WET late autumn period…


Check out the projected 2-metre temperature anomalies for January 2015 around the hemisphere. Ouch!


Jamstec model is almost identical to CFSv2.


Hitting the road now but will have a video on this later on tonight….

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