Facts vs factors: El Nino
MONDAY JANUARY 01, 0001
The latest PR from the meteorologists expresses confusion because a recent change in the ocean next door to Australia has caused them to pause and revise everything they had previously predicted.
It only be described as the changing whims of the news-hungry weather reporters who work under the job title of meteorologists. The lesson for the public should be that the BoM and other mainstream agencies cannot project forward at any given moment because it is subject to reversal at any time. Nowcasting is safe - forecasting is not. If their latest statement is not binding one might legitimately ask, of what use is it then?
Their most recent conclusions have not been based on facts, but factors. What is the difference? In science there is a difference and real science is the attempt to be precise. To that end science words try to be unequivocal. A fact is something unchanging whereas a factor is a variable. Facts and factors are mutual opposites. Facts do not vary whereas variables infinitely change. In anything to do with nature, facts more favour the existence of cycles rather than the absence of them. So what do the cycles of weather/climate tell us?
1. Fact: we have just come through solar cycle#24 which peaked around the end of 2014 and cycle#24 is now well into decline.
2. Fact: El Ninos typically follow solar peaks and minimums.
3. Fact: the strength or weakness of the solar cycle just before a max or min determines the strength or weakness of the subsequent El Nino.
4. Fact: we have just come through a weak cycle - logical outcome: a weak El Nino.
5. Fact: weak El Ninos at peaks or troughs of weak solar cycles have been 1976-78 and 2006-7.
6. Fact: strong El Ninos that followed relatively steep solar cycles were 1957-58, 1965-66, 1982-83, and 1997-98.
7. Fact: El Ninos reduce cyclones. Therefore a weak El Nino will tend to inhibit the number and intensity of cyclones, so although we will still get some this season they may not be too destructive.
8. Fact: El Ninos delay or weaken monsoons. Therefore the next wet season could be relatively weak, bringing more heat to the Interior.
None of this is rocket science. The layman can understand it. But El Nino has been so twisted in meaning and interpretation because of the culture of research funding that state-salaried meteorologists seem not to know what they are monitoring or describing any more. Because the funding is available now every year is considered a potential El Nino condition, the progression or regression of which is worthy of monitoring.
But long range forecasting is based on long term cycles, the factors of which contain lunar and solar returns. The SOI is lunar (one fourth of the declination cycle) and became ENSO. ENSO then morphed into El Nino. What started off as a respectable science cycle has been rendered down into a series of unpredictable one-offs, each threatening to out-perform its predecessor. For the sake of clarity it may be time to ditch El Nino and revert to the SOI.
Our estimation is that the coming wet season starts for WA in mid December, for NT (Darwin-Daly) around end of November, and for QLD (Peninsular, Gulf. tropical Coast) in the second week of December. These calculations are based on the lunar return. Cyclones and the active monsoon becomes developed across northern Australia in the second week of January, adding up to plenty of rain across the north. Later in January the rain is enough to bring flooding to Townsville and the north QLD coast, also in NSW as far inland as Broken Hill. Cyclones will not extend beyond February. Much heat will bring violent storms and bushfires to many States. Overall, Sydney can look forward to a long hot summer, with 85-90% of days getting above average temperatures from the beginning of December to the end of February. In autumn, good rains will delight QLD farmers, with relief to some drought areas. Also, WA wheat growers will welcome widespread autumn rain in some districts. But winter rain, frost, floods and wind will be disastrous to crops in many states.
More in the 2016 Weather Almanac for Australia, to be released soon.