Someone once said that “behind every successful woman is herself.” In an era when all anyone can talk about is El Nino, it takes a woman, La Nina, to prove that both El Ninos and La Ninas are geological in origin. Even more interesting, it turns out that this same woman proves there is no such thing as the famous climatological event called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). There is no oscillation, no changing from an El Nino warm phrase to a La Nina cool phase. El Nino and La Nina are actually the result of the same geologically induced deep ocean seafloor fluid flow event.
These are extremely bold contentions to be sure, especially when one considers that it implies every climate scientist, world renown university, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have gotten it wrong. Well the facts speak for themselves.
The theory posits that all El Ninos are generated by a massive and relatively long-lasting pulse of fluid from deep ocean seafloor geological features that are located in a limited area of the far western Pacific Ocean. This area is one of the most active geological regions on earth. It is comprised of several major fault / upper Earth crust plate boundaries, numerous deep ocean volcanoes, and hundreds of deep ocean hydrothermal vents.
As is the case with many geological features, such as geysers at Yellowstone, the initiation of the high rate and high magnitude pulse of fluid is caused by a shift / change in deep, very hot lava pockets. An El Nino begins when deep ocean seafloor lava pockets become active, thereby super-heating seawater trapped in rock layers adjacent to the lava pocket. This now super-heated and chemically charged seawater is forced upward and outward along vertical fault planes into the overlying ocean.
As this massive and relatively long-lasting pulse of chemically charged super-heated seawater pushes into the overlying ocean, it is progressively moved eastward and shallower by normal ocean currents. Eventually the deep pulse shows up on shallow sea surface temperature maps (SST Maps) as a warm blob, an El Nino is formed. For a more detailed description of how this El Nino process works the reader is directed to a previous CCD post.
Fine, sounds like an interesting theory, however, what does a La Nina have to do with all of this El Nino geological stuff?
As the lava pocket / magma chamber slowly exhausts its heat store, it loses its ability to heat the seawater trapped in the surrounding rock layers. The seawater still flows upward along the newly opened fault plane conduits into the overlying ocean, however, it’s just a little cooler. This cooler seawater flow phase is the La Nina. So there is no oscillation, no change of events, simply a cooling of the lava pocket.
Figure 2 shows the temperature flow progression of El Nino / La Nina fluid flow events during the last thirty five years. This figure clearly shows the initiation of the warm 1998 El Nino phase that seamlessly flows into the cool 1999 La Nina phase. Eventually the entire flow system shuts down and ocean temperatures settle back into their normal none-geologically influenced patterns. The seamless nature of the transition from El Nino to La Nina is very strong evidence that these ocean temperature anomalies are from the same event, after all the atmospheric temperature during the 1998 to 1999 time period did NOT swing from very hot to very cold.
There is more evidence, for instance the image atop this article (Figure 1) which clearly shows that El Ninos and La Ninas originate from the same fixed non-moving point source in the far western Pacific Ocean. Changing from a warm phase to a cold phase at the same fixed geographic location is extremely difficult to accomplish utilizing an atmospherically based man-made global warming model. A much better fit is one associated with the geologically based Plate Climatology Theory. This theory states that fixed non-moving geological forces influence / generate many climate events, including El Ninos and La Ninas.
Lastly, there is a newly discovered and well-suited analog to the El Nino / la Nina geological association. British researchers from the National Oceanography Center in Southampton have discovered a deep ocean hydrothermal vent off the coast of Antarctica near the South Shetland Islands that has a very telling history (see references below). This deep ocean vent has been proven to have recently pulsed significant amounts of super-heated and chemically charged seawater upward from a known fault zone into the overlying ocean. It is now pulsing cooler water into the overlying ocean.
This is very strong evidence that the theories proposed above are based on sound geological observations.
This simple and eloquent geological explanation fits the facts. Certainly El Ninos and La Ninas generate all sorts of associated atmospheric and oceanic side effects: increased trade winds, altered ocean currents, strange weather trends, etc. But they are just that, side effects. Climate scientists have for years incorrectly modeled these side effects in an effort to understand the cause of El Ninos and La Ninas. This has led to the development of overly complex theories that require all sorts of oscillations and phases. Importantly, none of these theories correctly predicts future El Ninos or La Ninas.
The huge number El Nino articles hitting the media is overwhelming, each extolling impending droughts, floods, starvation, and environmental disasters of every sort. Although not explicitly stated in most of these articles, it is strongly implied that man-made atmospheric global warming is to blame.
Should we act upon this banter or should we stop for a moment and listen to the quiet, concise and oft-correct voice of a woman…La Nina.
She is speaking. Are you listening?
James Edward Kamis is a Geologist and AAPG member of 41 years and who has always been fascinated by the connection between Geology and Climate. Years of research / observation have convinced him that the Earth’s Heat Flow Engine, which drives the outer crustal plates, is also an important driver of the Earth’s climate.