Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Typhoon Megi and SST anomaly in East Asia

Typhoon MEGI (local name "Juan") has crossed the Philippines' landmass but still on the western side of the country's area of responsibility as I write this.

A gasoline station toppled by Megi's strong winds. Photo taken from Business Mirror today. Megi is the 10th typhoon of the year in this country and among the strongest this year. So far, at least 10 people have died, mostly due to collapsed structures or drowning.

Before MEGI came, Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces were cloudy everyday last week except last Sunday, but then it rained that night and the clouds ruled the sky until today because of the typhoon. Two weeks ago, I was in Jakarta, Indonesia and all four days that I was there, it was cloudy there, with rains in the afternoon.

I checked the sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly to see if La Nina has already settled in East Asia.

This is the SST anomaly as of July 29, 2010. Click on the graph to see a bigger picture. Formation of La Nina -- indicated by the movement of cold sea water, the blue color code, from east to west, or more specifically from South America to Asia -- was rather weak then. Graph source, http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/anomnight.current.gif

And here's the SST anomaly as of yesterday, October 18. Compared to the graph above or 2 1/2 months ago, the following are notable: (1) Cold sea water has consolidated in a big part of central Pacific Ocean, especially along the equator.

(2) But the eastward movement of colder than normal Pacific Ocean water has stalled since end-July although the degree of cooling has accelerated. East Asia though, including the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, still has warmer than normal sea water.

(2) North Pacific is now generally cooler than normal compared to end-July. Note the consolidation of cold water south of Alaska.

(3) South Pacific, even South Atlantic, now generally much cooler than normal too.

(4) Indian Ocean also showed the formation of cooler than normal sea water.

Here's SST anomaly for Nino 4, the region closest to East Asia, as of October 17, 2010. Data is from Australia's Bureau of Meteorology. Note that the cooling this year in Nino 4, about -1.2 C colder than normal as of mid-October 2010, is more severe than the cooling of 2007-2008 La Nina, where SST anomaly as of mid-October 2007 was only about -0.5 C. Consider also that we just came from a bad El Nino just a few months back.

The warmer than normal sea water is somehow "trapped" in East Asia and west/north Australia. I am not a meteorologist or any climate scientist to make any intelligent discussion about the implication of this trend in the region's weather. But perhaps this explains the formation of this rather strong typhoon Megi that lashes out the Philippines for two days now. It should move west or north-west and will soon slam Vietnam or southern China.

The current typhoon and the damages it caused should pose another question mark to the believers of the "man-made warming" claim, at least in east Asia. On the other hand, it might bolster the claims of "man-made climate change" where "global warming makes dry weather drier and wet weather wetter." What a life.

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