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To the casual observer it may come as a surprise to learn that the phenomenon known as El Niņo is actually a yearly event. But the fact is that each winter a mass of warm water builds in the western Pacific. In the spring of every year this warm water moves eastward into the region of the dateline at longitude180° (figure 1.1).
This annual build up and subsequent migration is a regular phenomenon in the western Pacific. Occasionally the build up and migration of the warm water into the central Pacific finds conditions that support the further eastward migration of the warmth pool. This happens when conditions at the dateline and in the eastern Pacific support the continued eastward migration of the warm water from the central Pacific. It is known that the conditions that support enhanced eastward flow are rhythmic in decadal timeframes. Climatologists know this series of movements as the canonical El Niņo. However, the precise timing of the enhanced flows is not understood. If no support for enhanced eastward flux occurs at the dateline in midsummer then the El Niņo will not move into the west coast of South America. No clear phenomenon has presented itself as the determining parameter of these patterns. In the following charts the archetypal movements of the warm water during a non El Nino year is illustrated.
The basic chart (fig1.2) divides the Pacific into five different areas. Niņo 1&2 is the area just off the west coast of Peru. Niņo 3 is the area in the eastern Pacific to the east of Hawaii. Niņo 3.4 runs from just east of Hawaii westward to the dateline at 180° of longitude, west of Hawaii. Niņo 4 runs from the dateline westward to the east coast of Australia. What we will call Niņo 5 runs from the east coast of Australia westward to Indonesia.
In January, February, and March (fig 3) warmth builds in Nino 5.
In April (fig 4) the warm water moves into Niņo 4.
In May (fig 5) the cool emerges in Niņo 5 and the warmth shifts eastward to the edge of Niņo 3.
In June (fig 6) the cool expands into Niņo 4 and the warmth expands into Niņo 3.4.
In July (fig 7) the cool expands in Niņo 4, and the warmth shifts to the east and begins to shrink.
In August and September (fig 8) the cool and warm masses approach each other at the dateline.
In October/November (fig 9) the cool water to the west meets the warm water to the east at the dateline. In December the cool and warm neutralize each other.
Occasionally, in a little understood periodicity, the warmth at the dateline does not neutralize but continues to the east, eventually ending up on the west coast of South America. Many physical hypotheses have been put forward to explain this mysterious periodicity. Research has shown that increased convection from many clustered thunderstorms at the dateline in the spring supports the eastward continuation of the warmth, sending subsurface Kelvin waves into the east Pacific. The physical cause for the increase in convection at the dateline is obviously that there is more warmth in the water to support convection. The question that still remains unanswered by the physical data is why there is so much warmth available at the dateline in some years and not in others.
In the sequence illustrated below, we can see the winter buildup and spring dateline migration described in the preceding sequence. What is different is that instead of fading at the dateline in the spring, the warmth is enhanced and migrates toward Hawaii as spring unfolds into summer. Furthermore, this movement continues into the southeast Pacific, bringing warm water to this region by Christmas.
The sequence is as follows. From January to March warm water builds in Niņo 5 and 4 (see figures 1.3 and 1.4). In April Niņo 4 warms, as Niņo 5 begins to cool. In May the cold water spreads eastward into Indonesia as warm water spreads eastward into Niņo 4 (see figure 1.5). So far the patterns are the same.
In June the cool grows in Niņo 5 (see figure 1.6), as the warmth migrates into the whole of Niņo 4 and approaches the dateline. During El Nino years there is a shift at this time to a new pattern. This shift distinguishes a canonical El Nino from an El Nino event.
In an El Nino, or warming event, the warmth at the dateline moves east of the dateline for the rest of the year instead of neutralizing at the dateline in July. In an El Nino July (fig 10) the cold water spreads into Niņo 4 bringing drought to Northern Australia. Warmth spreads towards Hawaii through nino 3.4.
By August, a cold pool spreads through the western Pacific, while warmth travels east.
From September to November cold settles into place in the west while the warmth expands and spreads into the eastern Pacific. By December the entire Pacific from the dateline to Peru is the site of a large warm pool of water, and the El Niņo reveals its impact on world weather.
This sequence is the El Niņo warmth event. Research has revealed this pattern, and many indicators of it, but attempts to find reliable related periodicities in other phenomena have previously proved to be statistically weak. The complexity of the possible physical elements in such a vast time and space system is staggering. We could ask if there is some system in which the natural periodicities resemble the periods in the el niņo cycle?
Contemporary research in climatology is centered on finding such periods in the physical interaction of currents or in atmospheric/ sea surface temperature linkages. These researches focus on ever-smaller micro data inputs hoping for a symptom at the micro level that may explain the oscillations at the macro level. This approach multiplies the variables within the system, which greatly enhances the possibility for error. Perhaps a research strategy that would yield some useful insights would be to look for macro periods even longer than the time periods in which the phenomena unfold. Since the periodicities of El Niņo and La Niņa phenomena are quasi biennial, or even inter decadal, it would seem reasonable to look for large-scale periodicities with these time signatures.
The greatest, and most predictable source of large-scale time signatures available is the system of movements found in the orbits of the planets. It seems reasonable that if a natural phenomenon being studied manifests in periods of ten or twelve years, that a juxtaposition of these events with others occurring in periods of ten or twelve years would yield insights which could be statistically significant. This is exactly what was done in this study.
The El Niņo warmth event and its periods were placed into a context of the direct and apparent retrograde motion of planets transiting the Pacific in a given year. Through this approach a strong correlation between the direction and timing of a planet in a given sector of the Pacific and the onset of El Niņo was found. This initial theoretical insight was then applied to actual El Niņo events and La Niņa episodes in a continuous study from 1976 to 1998. A significant degree of correlation was found between the periods of planetary motion in a given sector and the particular climatic response. This paper only deals with the period of 1975/76 and looks at a Mercury / Mars relationship that is at the heart of many El Nino events.
We can recall that in the early part of the year in the canonical El Niņo there is a strong build-up of warmth in the sea water in the far western sector of the Pacific ocean. Physical research by satellite reveals that in this area a vast hillock of water actually mounds up, a meter or two higher than the sea level throughout the rest of the Pacific. Some force appears to be pushing from east to west mounding up the water. Physical influences such as the action of the easterly trade winds (east to west) in the Niņo 4 sector have proved to be unreliable predictors of the onset of this phenomenon. This is especially so since in actuality the winter/spring buildup in the far west occurs in many more years than in el Niņo years, and also occurs independently of the quasi- biennial trade wind oscillation.
Looking at the winter / early spring buildup from a perspective of planetary motion, we can formulate protocols for prediction which have been determined through observation. The first is that a planetary position in celestial longitude can be projected onto the earth. These projected positions are often coincident to extreme weather events. As a result of this projection technique it is possible to correlate positions in celestial longitude with weather events in terrestrial longitude. This projection method finds further validation when a planet at a particular position in celestial longitude moves into retrograde motion. A blocking high often forms in the projected longitude of the retrograde loop. This often observed phenomenon was the original stimulus to form an El Niņo model based upon retrograde motion in specific longitudes at specific times.
Regarding El Niņo, it can be observed that any outer planet in the longitude of Indonesia in the western Pacific will have a retrograde period that is coincident with the winter and early spring warmth buildup in that area. In figure 13 this retrograde motion is illustrated using Jupiter as an example.
Retrograde motion is depicted with an arrow pointing to the left or west of Jupiter accompanied by the symbol "RX". Direct motion is depicted with an arrow to the right or east. The arrow is accompanied by a "D". The period of an outer planet near Indonesia would be retrograde in January and direct in May. As a result, the retrograde motion (i.e. east to west motion) of any outer planet in the far western Pacific is coincident with the east to west movements of warm water in that far western sector each year. This was depicted in the second figure labeled January, February and March earlier in this article. Linking this canonical motion of the warmth plume with the movement of the outer planets in a given year we can see that the onset of west to east direct motion of any outer planet in that sector is coincident with the onset of the west to east migration of warm water out of the far west in the canonical year. This pattern in which outer planets are active in the far west is present in most significant El Niņos.
Figure 14 depicts the retrograde and direct periods of any outer planet from March to July near the dateline. The dateline falls on the border between Niņo 4 and Niņo 3.4. This period perfectly coincides with the critical dateline support that is necessary for the unfolding of strong El Niņo patterns.
In the eastern Pacific, the retrograde and direct motion of any planet in Niņo 1&2 directly coincides with the canonical El Niņo as planets in the far eastern Pacific go retrograde in June, building up warm water to the west (i.e. the tropical Pacific east of Hawaii). Outer planets in Niņo 1&2 then go direct in either December or January, coincident with a west to east flow that marks the onset of warming sea surface temperatures in Niņo 1&2.
The next chart (fig 16) shows a composite of the retrograde and direct rhythms of the planets in a month -to -month pattern. This rhythm will then be overlaid with Sea Surface Temperature (SST) data in order to illustrate the high degree of coincidence in the two systems. In January of each year any outer planet placed in the eastern half of the far western Pacific would have a retrograde period beginning in January and ending in June of the same year. This period of retrograde and direct motion holds true for any outer planet in the far west in any given year. The inner planets (Mars, Mercury, and Venus) move much more rapidly through their orbits and as a result constitute more rapid and local movement phenomena that the outer planets.
From the composite we can see that any outer planet in central Niņo 4 near the dateline will go retrograde in February and direct in July. Any outer planet in the western half of Niņo 3.4 will go retrograde in March and direct in August. Any outer planet in the eastern half of Niņo 3.4 will go retrograde in April and direct in September. Any outer planet in Niņo 3 will go retrograde in May and direct in October, and any outer planet in Niņo 1&2 will go retrograde in June and direct in November or December.