A note from the Doc: The references to planets and constellations on this site are not astrological in nature, merely the clearest way to reference these positions and angles. For more, please read: Astrology or Astronomy »
When tracking el Nino events it can be observed that when planets are transiting the Pacific, their influences often can be traced right across the ocean only to cease to be an effective force in the temperate zones once they are past the 110°w longitude mark. This is a locale known to oceanographers as the 110° ridge. This ocean feature is the western edge of a large gyre or vortex in the ocean off of the western coast of Central America. This tropically placed gyre is a vortex of warm water that circulates between Central America and the Islas Revillagigedo due south of Cabo San Lucas the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula. This gyre dominates the circulation of the southeastern Pacific and creates a blocking oceanic ridge at 110° west longitude. As a planet like Jupiter comes across the Pacific it is often at the leading edge of advancing warmth on a year to year basis. Then when Jupiter comes into the area of the 110° ridge there often is a noticeable drop off of influences.
This drop off of influences, as a transiting planet passes the 110° ridge, has been observed in many situations. Planets passing Cape Mendocino, the farthest western point on the West Coast at approximately 125° w longitude, begin to fade in their ability to influence the unfolding of el Nino or la Nina patterns. In general, once they pass the 110° ridge their influence is usually not evident. The migration of warmth surges across the Pacific and the subsequent fading of planetary influences in regards to the 110° ridge can be observed in the strong buildup and collapse of el Nino conditions surrounding the record warmth event of 1998.
During the decade of the 1990's there was a regular and unusually rhythmic unfolding of warmth events in the Pacific. These unprecedented events led to a strong support of the idea of global warming in the scientific community. Concurrent with the climate event, astronomically there was also an unprecedented coincidence of planetary motions across the Pacific during that decade. Click here for explanations of terminology
During the decade of the 90's Jupiter gradually moved across the Pacific. Starting in 1991 and ending in 1998 a strong coincidence between the eastward migration of warmth impulses and the eastward passage of the planet could be noted. The timing and placement in longitude of the retrograde movements of Jupiter in that decade were highly coincident with the extraordinary warmth events of the early 1990's in the Eastern Pacific. During that decade the warmth surge in the ocean followed the motion of Jupiter across the Pacific with peaks in 1992,93,95.(fig1) According to climatology records, the peaks of the warmth surges in the ocean generally reached the easternmost longitude of Jupiter during each successive year of the surge, building up during the retrograde period and then fading. The final, peak year of 1998 was coincident with Jupiter reaching the West Coast of the US. This sequence points to the effect of a Jupiter Pacific transit on the emergence of El Nino. By July of 1998 Jupiter had moved across the 110° ridge. This decade long unprecedented El Nino phenomenon has dropped from the charts since then.
Most often, when there is a strong el Nino the year after it is a strong la Nina cooling event for the eastern Pacific. This was the case for this el Nino. However, since December of 1998 a series of la Nina events has replaced the frequent el Ninos. Regular climatology has few clear analogs as to why the strong warming influences peaked in 1998 and then didn't arise in any form for two or three years. However, looking at the passage of Jupiter across the 110° ridge we might venture a guess as to why the radical warming in the east Pacific fell off. But that was then and now Jupiter is once again poised at the western door to the Pacific.
Last year (2004) Jupiter went onto a retrograde loop between January and May, in the eastern Indian Ocean, just barely venturing into the westernmost reaches of the Pacific. The actual Jupiter Pacific transit began this year in the spring of 2005. At that time, Jupiter was in retrograde motion in the western Pacific between February and June in the western edge of Nino 4 over the east coast of Australia. This was the first time that Jupiter was fully in the Pacific since the last el Nino. This current year (2006) Jupiter will be in a loop in the middle of Nino 4 (160°E). In 2007, Jupiter will go into retrograde motion between March and July in the longitude of the dateline (180°lon). July at the dateline is a sensitive time and area for the emergence of El Nino patterns. The question is will this be the presence of Jupiter in this area be the beginning of another El Nino cycle?
To track this, it is useful to look at a timeline chart for the SSTs in Nino 4 during the Jupiter loop in the spring of 2005. At that time, the Jupiter retrograde motion was coincident with a moderate fall in SSTs in Nino 4. Click on the link for a great interactive website on SSTs. This fall of sea surface temperatures in the retrograde sector of Jupiter is in line with the concept that the east to west retrograde movement of Jupiter in western Nino 4 starting in February was influencing the east to west migration of warm water out of Nino 4 and into the far western Pacific. This would account for the moderate drop in SSTs in Nino 4 at the time of the loop. We will be on the lookout for a rise in SSTs in the middle of Nino 4 during the retrograde timeframe of Jupiter this spring since Jupiter will have moved approximately 30° from its position of last year. But there are also other influences that can be factored into these patterns.
In April 2005 Pluto went retrograde in the longitude of Hawaii. By May a significant rise in SSTs in that longitude was noticeable in the N Pacific. By July the warmth was very strong in the longitude of Hawaii This was further enhanced in August. However, in September 2005 Pluto went direct in the area near Hawaii. At that time a distinct drop in SSTs accompanied the motion of the planet as the ocean near Hawaii suddenly cooled. To finish off any eastward migration of warm water, in November Mercury went retrograde in the longitude of Hawaii. This halted the development of any warmth moving eastward towards the West Coast at that time. This pause should continue as Venus moves into retrograde motion in December 2005 in Nino 1+2 just to the west of the 110° ridge. At the present time a tongue of warm water that was near Hawaii is retreating to the west. This is in line with the idea that the retrograde Venus is moving the warm water to the west of its position. All in all it doesn't look like much El Nino or La Nina activity will be forthcoming this winter since the rhythms of these planets are stopping the eastward motion. But stay tuned for next year as Jupiter moves to the dateline at midsummer and begins to interact with Pluto.