Posted by: erl happ | August 16, 2011

The character of climate change part 1

Figure 1 records global temperature as it runs between its minimum in January and maximum in July. Vital information is lost when we reduce the data stream to a computed mean (maximum plus minimum/2). But that vital information is retained in Figure 1.

Figure 1 Evolution of Global temperature from 1948 to early 2011 Source: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

Observations in relation to figure 1

  • The global maximum and minimum moved up and down for thirty years between 1950 and 1980 but without establishing a clear upward or downward trend despite the increase in so-called greenhouse gases over the period.
  •  After 1978 the minimum began to advance but not as fast as the maximum,
  • The minimum is much more volatile than the maximum.

The Earth is closest to the sun in January and this is the time when the ocean, most of it in the southern hemisphere, is best illuminated. The year-to-year variability in the January minimum is patently unrelated to ‘greenhouse factors’ that exhibit a monotonic increase over time. What causes this variation in the January minimum? A likely candidate is a variation in the degree of illumination of the southern oceans as cloud comes and goes. Cloud cover varies on a daily, seasonal, inter-annual and decadal basis. It varies on the scale of a human lifetime and longer.

Obviously we need to understand the forces that lie behind change in cloud cover. At this stage we don’t. We simply can’t rule out change in cloud cover as a cause of the change in global temperature.

How do we decide what is ‘good’?

The average between the daily maximum and the minimum is commonly reported as the ‘mean’. The mean temperature is averaged over the globe to derive the average temperature for the globe as a whole. A change in the mean can be due to change in minima or maxima. As is seen in figure 1 the maximum can change independently of the minimum.

For practical purposes it is the transition between the extremes that is important to agriculture, trade, commerce and human habitation. We find the extremes ‘remarkable’. However it is the length of the period of favorable weather between the extremes that determines whether plants will grow and mature well or poorly. The period of sunlight within the day influences the rate of photosynthesis and respiration. But, unless the air is warm plants will not grow. The same consideration applies when we consider the growing season as a whole. The mean temperature actually tells us very little about the habitability of the planet.

The UN panel on climate change was set up to assess whether man’s activities have influenced the climate of the globe. It was not asked to describe the natural forces that drive the temperature of the globe one way or the other. That was not part of the brief. The source of natural variation on inter-seasonal, decadal and longer time scales is still a mystery. When the panel reports that it cannot imagine what is causing the variation in the climate that we see (other than man) it is telling the story as it is. But, is the panel totally honest in suggesting that man is the culprit when it cannot describe the source of natural variation that is plainly there. If that source of natural variation can cause the temperature to rise and fall over a year or two, why not a decade or a century?

We need to discover the sources of natural variation so that we can expand the range of explanations for the change that we observe. It is desirable that we should not mistake one for the other, and like Don Quixote, go off tilting at windmills.

But, there is a more fundamental concern that relates to the efforts of the UNIPCC. It is this. The UN does not address the question as to whether the change in the climate that we see is advantageous or disadvantageous. It is the failure in this respect that represents the ongoing irrelevance of UNIPCC deliberations. The UN does not seem to be interested in the question that can be phrased in this way: OK, things are changing but does it really matter? Are we better or worse off?

Before leaving figure 1 lets note that the depression of maximum and minimum temperature from 1992-95 that is possibly related to the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. This is plainly an example of a ‘natural’ rather than a man made or ‘anthropogenic’ cause of climate variation.

What climate would we prefer?

At what temperature would the Earth be most productive? A temperature of at least 15°C is required to support plant growth and 25°C is about optimal. But, figure 1 indicates that the temperature of the air at the surface of the planet varied between just 12°C (the coolest average minimum) and 16° C (the warmest average maximum) between 1948 and 2010.

Were the temperature of the Earth to be the same at all latitudes and were there to be no variation at all (no seasons) the Earth would be quite unsuitable for human habitation. A regime that varied between 12°C and 16°C would very much inhibit the growth of many plants. It is the variation in temperature from warm at the equator and cold at the poles and the seasonal variation between summer and winter that opens the window for agriculture and animal husbandry. Birds migrate across the hemispheres because they need a daily food source and it is infrequently available on a year round basis within a single hemisphere. Man builds shelters and carefully conserves food so that he can eat in the lean times. Outside the tropics the lean times arrive with winter. It is the ‘larder’ the ‘pantry’, the ‘freezer’ and the ‘refrigerator’ that we hold nearest and dearest, a point that is well established in Kenneth Graham’s classic tale “The Wind in the Willows”. There has to be a time of the year when it is possible to actually grow the food and effective means to conserve it. That time of the year begins in ‘spring’ when animals emerge from their burrows after the winter hibernation and look around for something to eat.

So, we should begin with the obvious question “what is the nature of a ‘desirable climate’, where is it to be found, is it changing over time and is that climate improving or deteriorating ’? Are we happy to have a ‘winter’ or would summer be preferable? For that category of climates quite unsuitable for human habitation at any time of the year we might put aside any concern as to whether the temperature is increasing or decreasing as simply inconsequential.

The ‘global average’ is a statistic of little practical value especially if it is driven one way or the other by change in places that are uninhabitable  Similarly, the daily mean tells us nothing about how cold the nights are and how warm the days, nor the number of daylight hours in winter. We need to know more. Madrid has a much wider annual range of temperature than the isle of Capri. Which suits our purpose? If we seek to retire and write poetry under the shade of a tree the temperature requirement will be different to that if we wish to grow cherries that must experience a strong winter chill in order to set fruit.

Plainly such an approach increases the complexity of the analysis, but realistically, if we cannot answer these questions we are being hysterical rather than practical. Hysterical behavior is not adaptive. In former times it might have brought a slap around the head. Today it should bring a kindly arm around the shoulder and the polite query: What’s up dear? But, I do sometimes wonder whether the former approach is more appropriate if one is dealing with evangelical advocates who are plainly out of touch with reality. To people of this ilk I say, forget the mean, give me the raw data by latitude and longitude and I will try and make something sensible of it.

Where do people choose to live?

As an Australian I know that the early visitors to Australia were unimpressed. Much of Australia is desert and to this day most of the habitable country is seen as ‘marginal’. Australia supports little in the way of human habitation and is never likely to. This is one country that suffers extreme swings in weather and climate. When the rain falls the desert blooms and the inland rivers flow, and there is an enormous party of procreation. But for long periods it does not rain at all. Some coastal margins have a reliable rainfall and can support the growth of forests, but for a large part the desert runs close to, or all the way to the coast. The vegetation is hardy and Australians describe it as ‘the scrub’. The scrub can survive a run of bad seasons. In the early years in South Australia a notion was put about that ‘the rain follows the plough’, and for a while it seemed to work that way. But clearing of the Western Australian scrub started at the beginning of a long period of rainfall decline. Today, there seems to be no way back.

An intergalactic explorer, looking for greener pastures might not give Earth a second look. Humans are fond of their blue planet, but were it slightly warmer; it would be more productive. When Australians retire, even though they live in a continent that experiences warm summers, they move north because they don’t like winter. The grass may be green but it doesn’t grow much. It is just too cold. So, we must look at the pattern of human habitation as an indication of the manifest preference of the human species. Unlike bears, humans like to eat several times a day, every day of the year, so agricultural productivity is important. In pre-industrial societies gardening and food gathering were of pre-eminent concern. By and large, most of the globe is still pre-industrial and means of transport can be primitive so people tend to live close to where food can be easily obtained.

To some extent climate can be engineered, certainly within structures built by man, certainly in wealthy sophisticated industrial societies. Less naturally favorable climates can be tolerated if we can shelter ourselves from the extremes. Air conditioners are more numerous in China than anywhere. Mankind, by and large lives in India and China where the growing season is long, there is plenty of moisture and spring, summer and autumn favors plant growth, oftentimes in an environment that may be distinctly humid and a touch warm, certainly from the western European point of view. There is substance in the words of the song “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun” because the really productive parts of the British Empire were in climates rather warmer than experienced in the British Isles. That warmth made for a long growing season and high population densities.

Figure 2 Distribution of mankind on planet Earth

The map above indicates that human settlement is denser in humid, warm environments on the east coast of the major continents. South and East Asia are examples of locations eminently favorable for agriculture having abundant rainfall and a long growing season.   Western Europe defies the rule. But this part of the globe is unnaturally warm in relation to its latitude, particularly in summer, in part due to the influence of the warm North Atlantic Drift and also a persistent flow of tropical moist air from the south west. The growth of mining, commerce and manufacture and the development of cities and transportation promote a pattern of settlement different to that which existed in the agrarian past. Nowadays a lot of food is transported and stored for long periods increasing the range of climates that can support high population densities, so long as people can be kept warm in winter.

From figure 2 it is apparent that the densest areas of human settlement are to be found between latitude 10°south and latitude 60°north. But look at this. Figure 2 truncates a large part of the southern hemisphere. Why? Because, the missing portion experiences sub freezing temperatures over most of the year. The Southern hemisphere pole-wards of about 45°south has little land to support human habitation and pole-wards of 60° south comprises the giant, ever deepening  ice mound of Antarctica.

Why is it that the bulk of humankind is to be found between latitude 10° south and 60° north? It is because the land is more productive there. Life is easier. This is the message in figure 3.

Figure 3 The seasonal flux in temperature in degrees C in the more habitable latitudes

The habitable area of the northern and southern hemispheres experience very different thermal regimes. Which is to be preferred?

Agriculture is a seasonal activity. If temperature moves into the favorable range for long enough, farming is possible and so long as the food that is produced has an adequate ‘shelf life’, a larger population can be supported.  The more habitable latitudes of the northern hemisphere have the advantage over the southern hemisphere in this respect. Summer is warmer than it is in the southern hemisphere. At the height of northern summer, mean temperature approaches 25°C. In the warmest month the temperature is almost warm enough to promote the fastest rate of plant growth. This outweighs the disadvantage that northern winters are cooler than southern winters. Summer provides the bounty that maintains life and a relatively inhospitable winter is not a high price to pay if you are warm, well housed and well fed.

The most productive and most heavily populated parts of South and East Asia have a summer thermal regime that is even warmer than the global average. (Delhi India June Av Min 26.6, Av Max 39.3, Shanghai, China 24.9-31.3, Chongqing 25-34, Hanoi July 26.1-32.9). It is apparent that the warmest months of these locations are rather warmer than is optimal for photosynthesis. But the growing season is very long and this makes the land unusually productive. If the all the habitable lands of the northern hemisphere were as warm as East Asia productivity would increase with the length of the growing season. So, in this respect we can conclude that the warmest part of the globe, the northern hemisphere in summer, would be more productive if it were a little warmer. It is not warming that we should fear, but cooling.

A lesson in climate dynamics for the UNIPCC

Looking again at figure 3 we see that the pattern of seasonal change in ‘global temperature’ more strongly relates to the annual range in the northern hemisphere than the southern hemisphere. The extended annual range in the north is driven by the warming and cooling of the continental landmasses of Eurasia and North America in northern summer.

There is an interesting paradox here. In July and August, the globe as a whole is warmest. Paradoxically the Earth is actually 3% further from the sun in July than it is in March and September.  Solar irradiance is 7% less intense in July than it is in January. But atmospheric warming due to enhanced daytime radiation from warm land masses drives a loss of global cloud cover in mid year. Consequently the global average temperature is driven upwards to a strong peak in July-August. The strong rise in temperature in the northern hemisphere more than compensates for the cooling of the southern hemisphere in winter.

So, the surface is warmest when the Earth is furthest from the sun, in June, July and August. The lesson is plain. The level of irradiance from the sun is not the prime driver of surface temperature. It is the relative presence of cloud that determines the issue. Climate scientists that write IPCC reports maintain that cloud holds the heat in and amplifies the supposed heating effect of carbon dioxide. There is no shadow of doubt that the effect of cloud is to cool the earth, not warm it.

However, the fact that the southern oceans face the sun in January when the sun is closest and irradiance is 7% greater than in June, makes for a warmer globe because the ocean absorbs and stores energy rather than expelling it into the atmosphere from where it is pretty well lost to space within the 24 hour time cycle.

The Earth would be a lot cooler if the vast oceans of the southern hemisphere faced the sun when it was furthest away. Then the energy from the sun, when it is most abundant, would be expended on the land masses of the northern hemisphere and promptly returned to space. Due to the present happy conjunction of the tilt of the Earth’s axis, the orbital influence and the current distribution of land and sea one can conclude that the global climate is in a warm phase. The available energy when it is most abundant is safely delivered into storage in the southern oceans. The warmth from the sun is conserved for longer and the cooler areas of the globe benefit because the ocean currents (e.g. Gulf Stream) are warmer. It follows that the area of the globe that is currently suitable for habitation is larger than it would be if the sun were closest in June. We live in times that are favorable to mankind in a globe that is actually a little cool for maximum comfort. But we should note that the globe will cool as the orbit around the sun becomes less favorable.

It is apparent that surface temperature is much affected by the distribution of land and sea, orbital considerations and most of all, the relative abundance of cloud.

Were the orbit of the earth around the sun more elliptical than it currently is, the difference in irradiance between January and July would be greater. If the tilt of the axis were to be less than it currently is, the contrast between summer and winter would be less and higher latitudes would experience cooler summers.

If there were some factor that drives a variation in cloud cover when the bulk of the ocean faces the sun in December to March it would change the January minimum and the climate globally. With less cloud the globe would warm. With more cloud it would cool.

Plainly there is no variation at all in the area of the land masses of the northern hemisphere and this leads to little variation in the global maximum temperature in June-July. But there is obviously a large variation in cloud cover that causes the January minimum to swing wildly from year to year.

Does ‘climate science’ offer us an explanation for wide swings in the global minimum in January? Sadly, no! Climate science seems to be very closely focused upon the global average temperature and subtleties of this sort are un-remarked because un-noticed. This is like owning a car and not knowing whether the engine is in the front or the back.

If you went to your doctor and he insisted that the corns on the sole of your foot were related to the temperature of your inner ear you would probably seek alternative advice. If he said the corns could be related to the fit of your shoe you might be more inclined to listen. Similarly, a climatologist that observed that global temperature varied most dramatically in January and pointed to the clouds makes more sense than the guy who looks at the global average and points his finger at you suggesting that humanity is exhaling too much carbon dioxide, extravagantly using up scarce fuels and generally living too high on the hog.

Who is it that peddles this nonsense that the globe is in danger of getting too warm? Why are they doing it?

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Posted by: erl happ | July 16, 2011

The origin of climate change

Over the last several years I have worked  to understand the origins of climate change.  My conclusion is that the temperature at the surface of the Earth is affected by the presence or absence of clouds that reflect short wave energy from the sun back into space. The presence and density of cloud is a simple function of the temperature of the troposphere that is affected by the ingress of ozone, a potent greenhouse gas that absorbs long wave infrared radiation from the Earth. Ozone is injected into the troposphere  in high latitudes due to the coupling of the stratosphere and the troposphere that occurs most strongly in winter in polar regions. It is carried towards the equator by the counter westerlies producing a tell tale pattern of sea surface temperature change. The amount of ozone injected into the troposphere is a function of the strength of the polar night jet that introduces nitrogen oxides from the mesosphere into the stratosphere. Nitrogen oxides erode ozone in the stratosphere. The primary control of the ozone content of the stratosphere (and its temperature) is via the poles where the night jet varies in its activity with atmospheric pressure. Initially atmospheric pressure changes according to solar activity. Atmospheric processes then amplify the change.

You can see how I have come to that conclusion by downloading the paper that is available here:

http://www.happs.com.au/images/stories/PDFarticles/TheCommonSenseOfClimateChange.pdf

It is my conclusion that human activity has made little or no contribution the increase in the temperature of the lower troposphere and the warming that has been experienced is localized, temporally uneven and reversible.

Posted by: erl happ | January 17, 2011

Earth’s changing atmosphere

Mean sea level pressure for JJA (June-July-Aug...

Mean sea level pressure for June-August (top) and December-February (bottom). Note the presence of a permanent low pressure zone off Antarctica

This article investigates the sources of natural climate variation.  This is a long post but it’s a big subject. Before you get half way through, your perception of the way things are, will have changed. You might even begin to smile inwardly, as if a burden had been removed from your  shoulders.

I begin with a description of the critical features of the atmosphere as I perceive them, and it is different to what you will find in Wikipedia or an IPCC report.

Figure 1 shows the major wind systems, the location of the jet streams in the upper troposphere and the polar front. Were the vertical scale to be in strict accord with the horizontal, the atmosphere would be embodied in the line drawn to represent the perimeter of the Earth’s surface. About 75% of the mass of the atmosphere is held within 10 kilometers (6 miles) of the surface. Figure 1 is in that respect, a spectacular fiction. Suggesting that the composition of that skin, when change is reckoned in just parts per million, can change the temperature of the surface of the earth, is not good science. Were the atmosphere completely static, yes, but only to a very small degree. Still air is a fair insulator; moving air is no insulator at all.

The greenhouse idea is too simple, too unsophisticated and too easy. It is a disabling thought pattern that climatologists must discard if they are to understand the system. Understanding the system is a pre-requisite to modeling it.

Figure 1 The surface winds

Beyond an altitude of about 10km, the atmosphere changes in its composition according to the variable flow of nitrogen compounds from the mesosphere via the polar night jets and also the intensity of short wave radiation from the sun that splits the oxygen molecule, allowing the formation of ozone, but only to the extent to which the presence of oxides of nitrogen will allow. The ozone rich layer from 10 to 50km in elevation is called the stratosphere. The ability of ozone to trap long wave radiation from the Earth delivers increasing air temperature all the way to 45 km in elevation. At the equator the temperature that is reached is sufficient to melt ice but at the poles it is 10-20°C more. Increased ozone concentration at the poles increases stratospheric air temperatures despite a decline in the incidence of short wave radiation with latitude. The flux in ozone concentration is the prime agent of change in the temperature of the stratosphere and the upper troposphere.

The stratosphere is Earth’s natural greenhouse umbrella. In that role it has the advantage over the troposphere that it is relatively non convective. But only where there is a downward transport of ozone into the troposphere do we see an impact of ozone  on surface temperature. This impact on surface temperature  is not due to back radiation, unphysical due to strongly countervailing processes within the troposphere, but flux in cloud cover that is a direct result of flux of ozone into the cloud bearing troposphere.

In the context of the forces described above, the issue as to whether the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million or 550 parts per million is inconsequential (so far as  ‘climate’ is concerned), but to the extent that it would enhance the productivity of photosynthesizing plants and marine organisms, enhancing evaporation, thereby cooling the near surface air and sustaining life, a little more rather than a little less would be desirable. CO2, along with nitrogen, is the fertilizer in the air. From the point of view of a plant, these are scarce building blocks  and none more so than CO2 at just 380 parts per million. Can you appreciate the difficulty attached to finding a unique vehicle in a parking lot with 2,600 others. In order to survive a plant must select from the molecular parade, a molecule that is supplied in that ratio. The efficiency of plants in assimilating CO2, so rendering it a ‘trace gas’, is plainly evident in the savaging of the CO2 content of the global atmosphere in northern summer when the great bulk of the global plant life on land benefits from temperature that is warm enough to sustain photosynthesis.

While there is water and carbon dioxide on Earth there will be plant life and CO2 will always be a trace gas. Paradoxically, as the CO2 content of the air rises, a plant uses less water and is capable of living in a drier environment.

This has been a preamble. I hope you are ready to look at the climate system with new and inquiring eyes.
The first part of my story is about atmospheric pressure and the winds. The second, to come at a later date, the clouds, and the third the sun and its influence on the distribution of the atmosphere and its circulations.

All data presented here is  from: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

THE WIND
Figure 2 Average sea level pressure by latitude in mb.

Figure 2 shows the average air pressure at the surface between 1948 and October 2010 as it varies with latitude. Air moves from zones of high to low pressure and we call it wind. It can be seen that pressure relations define a climate system where:

  1. Sea level pressure is higher in winter than summer, especially over Antarctica.
  2. Apart from Antarctica in winter, pressure is highest at about 20-40° of latitude in both hemispheres. This is the region of the traveling high pressure cells where air descends, warming via compression, promoting relatively cloud free conditions. The trades and the westerly’s originate here.
  3. Globally the lowest sea level pressure is experienced at 60-70°south latitude. This limits the southward travel of the humid north westerly winds and the northward travel of the cold and dry polar easterlies in the southern hemisphere. By contrast there is no such pressure trough in the northern hemisphere. That hemisphere will accordingly freeze or fry according to whether the easterlies or the westerlies prevail. Whether the prevailing wind is from the north or the south depends upon the balance of atmospheric pressure between the Arctic and 30-40°N. Because pressure relations change in a systematic fashion over time (will be documented below) this dynamic dictates the direction of temperature change in the northern hemisphere.

The average character of the wind according to latitude
By subtracting the sea level pressure at destination latitude from that at source latitude, the average pressure differential driving the surface winds can be calculated.

Figure 3 The differential pressure between key latitudes driving the surface winds in mb
Abbreviations: PENH (Polar Easterlies Northern Hemisphere), PESH (Polar Easterlies Southern Hemisphere), SW (South Westerlies), NET (North East Trades), SET (South East Trades), NW (North Westerlies).

The strongest winds are found in Antarctica in winter. The differential pressure driving the surface winds falls away from south to north. Figures 2 and 3 taken together suggest that there is fundamental difference between the hemispheres, a theme that will run throughout this post and an understanding that is essential if one is to appreciate the source of change in surface temperature over time.
With the exception of the Trades and the Westerlies in the southern hemisphere (where there is little difference between the seasons) the differential pressure is noticeably higher in winter.
In the Arctic the differential driving the surface polar easterlies is only weakly positive, a marked contrast to conditions in the southern hemisphere. Consequently the dominant wind from 30°N latitude to the Arctic is the South Westerly, bringing warm moist air to the highest latitudes, rendering land masses that are to the north of the Arctic circle marginally useful to man, at least in summer, a situation very different to that which prevails in the Antarctic where the warmest locations may thaw for just one month in a year. The hemispheres are so different that it is really like two planets in one.
It is the roaring forties that brought the clipper ships via the Cape of Good Hope to Australia to disembark settlers and load grain on a round trip of about 200 days. Clippers, the Formula 1 of sailing ships, continued in an easterly direction via Cape Horn, braving giant swells, ice floes, and extreme wind chill. This is the latitude of Spain and Portugal in the northern hemisphere but the climate is different there. The Westerlies in the northern hemisphere are Arcadian zephyrs when compared to the Westerlies of the roaring forties. For an interesting perspective on the Roaring Forties see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clipper_route
The Trade winds of the northern hemisphere are much stronger in winter, and stronger than the southern Trades in any season, but the southern trades are more constant. In northern summer the north east trades are weak.

Variations in surface pressure over time, the key to climate change
The average tells us little about the habitability of a place. We need to appreciate the extremes.
Figure 4 Range in atmospheric pressure experienced since 1948 according to latitude in mb

Figure 4 records the difference between the highest and lowest monthly average sea level pressure for the four summer and the four winter months taken as a group. It is plain that variability increases with latitude. Variability is greater in the southern hemisphere and greater in winter than summer. In the northern hemisphere winter variability in is almost twice as great as summer variability. The flux in pressure at the highest latitude of the northern hemisphere is almost as great as it is in the southern hemisphere. This has important implications for the variability  in climate in the entire hemisphere because the north lacks the stabilizer of the low pressure trough at 60-70° south latitude that is apparent in figure 2 and also in the map that heads this post. The northern hemisphere might be characterized as ‘an accident that is waiting to happen’.
Figure 5 Difference between sea level pressure extremes for winter and summer, a measure of the swing between the seasons.

Figure 5 shows the extent of change in the extremes of the pressure differentials between summer and winter. This statistic is simply the difference between the curves in figure 4. Latitudes pole-wards of 60°north and 80° south see the most extreme shift between summer and winter. This diagram gives us a measure of the extent to which the atmosphere can shift about, affecting wind direction and strength, within the space of a year. The ‘lumps and bumps’ at 30-60°north and 40-70°south relate to the ‘annular mode’ or ‘ring like mode’ associated with the flux in ozone from the winter pole and associated geopotential height anomalies, the atmospheric heating via the absorption of long wave radiation from the earth by ozone. This generates change in cloud cover with associated flux in sea surface temperature. This is the essence of the Northern Annular Mode (the Arctic Oscillation) and the Southern Annular Mode (The Antarctic Oscillation). Describing this mode, and the origin of its locomotion, will be the subject of the second post in this series.
What figure 5 does not reveal is the extent to which the atmosphere can shift between one hemisphere and the other, something that changes the dynamic in the annular modes over time. Flux within just a single hemisphere is something that never actually occurs and yet you would think, from our reliance on the AO and the AAO that it is of no importance whatsoever. Wrong.

Change in the distribution of the atmosphere

Figure 6 evolution of sea level pressure at high latitudes in mb

Figure 6 shows that there has been a systematic loss of atmospheric pressure at the poles since 1948 and a partial recovery. Trend lines are second order polynomials. Notice the upward trend in Arctic pressure in winter after 1989 (black line).  The loss in pressure in both polar jurisdictions up to 1989 indicates external forces at work. Antarctic winter pressure is yet to bottom. Otherwise pressure appears to have bottomed in the 1990’s. As Antarctic summer pressure has increased just a little, Arctic pressure has increased a great deal. As we shall see this will change the climate of the northern hemisphere.

Change in distribution of atmospheric mass affects the differential pressure driving the winds. Figures 7 and 8 show the changing distribution of atmospheric mass over time in two key latitudes in the northern hemisphere.
Figure 7 Sea Level Pressure at 80-90°N and 30-40°N in June July August and September. mb

In summer, the increasing atmospheric mass at latitude 30-40°north and diminishing atmospheric mass at 80-90°north increases the domain of the south westerly winds warming the high latitudes. The trend lines suggest that a reversal of this process is underway.

Figure 8. Pressure at 80-90°north and 30-40°north in December, January, February and March. Mb.

In winter (figure 8), atmospheric pressure at 30-40°north latitude has been slowly increasing since 1948 and mass over the Arctic fell away till 1990 favoring the Westerlies over the Polar Easterlies. But pressure has recovered in the Arctic since 1990. When the brown line rises above the blue, the easterlies dominate and a cold winter is experienced in the northern hemisphere. The latest data in figure 8 relates to the winter of 2009-10.

A falling AO indicates a change in pressure relativity favoring the Polar Easterlies. A rule of thumb is that surface atmospheric pressure in the Arctic is inversely related to the Arctic Oscillation Index. When the AO falls, pressure is rising in the Arctic.
In all the following diagrams except the last monthly data is reported. The statistic is the anomaly. I calculate the monthly average for the entire period 1948 to November 2010 and the anomaly represents the departure from that average. The changing pressure differential driving the surface winds indicates the nature of monthly weather and to the extent that it departs from the average in a systematic fashion over long periods of time represents climate change in action.
Figure 9 Anomalies in differential pressure between 30-40°N and 50-60°N (differential Westerlies North) and 50-60°N and 80-90°N (differential Easterlies North) Monthly data. Mb.

The data in figure 9 relates to the northern hemisphere. The monthly anomalies reveal a flux in the differential pressure driving the Polar Easterlies (right hand axis) that is about three times the flux in the differential driving the Westerlies. Weak easterlies are sometimes associated with strong Westerlies, but for much of the time, surprise, surprise, the two move together. For both the Easterlies and the Westerlies to advance at the same time an inter-hemispheric redistribution of atmospheric mass is required allied with an intensification of the low pressure cells where the two converge (polar cyclones). This generates weather extremes. Rest easy. These are naturally generated extremes. Records tend to be broken at both ends of the spectrum. More heat and more cold.
The paradigm of the Arctic Oscillation takes no cognizance of this inter-hemispheric shift in pressure and cannot therefore fully account for the change in weather and climate that occurs. The second order polynomials in figure 9 suggest a cyclical pattern of change. The dominance of the Westerlies after 1978 is associated with warming winter temperatures and melting ice sheets in the Arctic a reversal of the circumstance that caused the Arctic to cool for thirty years up to the late 1970’s.
When the pressure differential is negative the wind ceases to exist and another takes its place blowing from the opposite direction. If you cover the bottom part of the graph below the zero point and inspect the curves above that point you get an idea of how the wind direction and temperature has changed over the course of time.
Figure 10 Anomalies in differential pressure between 30-40°N and 0-10°N (differential Trades North), 30-40°N and 50-60°N (differential Westerlies North) Monthly data. Mb.

Figure 10 reveals that the Trades and the Westerlies of the northern hemisphere vary together. Again, the polynomial (3d order) suggests reversible phenomena. This diagram is a representation of a climate system oscillating about a mean state in a fashion that makes it very difficult to model unless the forces moving the system away from the mean state are recognized, are quantifiable and predictable. If you cannot do this forget about modeling.

Cloud cover and ENSO
Figures 11 and 12 break new ground in understanding climate science. The connection between cloud cover and ENSO is apparent.

Figure 11 1948-1977

dWN (differential pressure between latitude 30-40°north and 50-60° north, the pressure driving the South Westerly winds in the Northern Hemisphere). SST (Sea Surface Temperature).

Figure 12 1978-2010

Figures 11 and 12 show us that the temperature of the sea in the mid latitudes of the northern hemisphere varies directly with the differential pressure driving the Westerly winds. When the wind blows harder we expect the sea to cool. But it warms. One infers a loss of cloud cover. The cooling of the sea between 1948 and warming thereafter are entirely accounted for in the shift in the mass of the atmosphere that lies behind the change in wind strength and the flux in ozone that causes the cloud cover to change. The  explanation of the ozone dynamic must await the next post. The warming of the sea in the northern hemisphere in winter is the distinctive feature of climate change as it has been experienced over the last thirty years. The cooling of the sea in the northern hemisphere between 1950 and 1978, under the influence of changes in the distribution of atmospheric mass, provides the key to an explanation of  climate change.
Figure 13 Evolution of sea surface temperature in mid and low latitudes of the northern hemisphere.

Figure 13 shows that the temperature of the sea between the equator and 30°north follows the temperature of the sea at 30-50° north but in a less agitated fashion. It appears that the cloud cover response in tropical waters is less energetic than it is in the mid latitudes. I suggest, no I insist, that the ENSO phenomenon in the Pacific, and climate change on all time scales, is ultimately due to changes in cloud albedo. ENSO is not climate neutral. ENSO is not a driver of climate change. It reflects climate change as it happens just as the ripples on the sea reflect change in the wind. Global temperature trends are not confounded by ENSO dynamics. ENSO is part of the whole, integrating the effects of change that occurs in latitudes where the cloud dynamic is more sensitive than it is in the tropics.

Figure 14 dWS (differential pressure between latitude 30-40° south and 60-70° south) SST (the temperature of the surface of the sea between 30-50°south latitude).

Figure 14 shows that the temperature of the sea in the southern hemisphere moves with the strength of the westerly winds in a very similar fashion to that seen in the northern hemisphere.

The climate change dynamic

I repeat that the dynamic behind this phenomenon is the flux of ozone from the winter pole as atmospheric mass moves to and from the pole, enhancing or limiting the flow through the night jet thereby metering the flow of nitrogen oxides from the mesosphere. When NOx flow is reduced  ozone concentration rises. Ozone finds its way into the upper troposphere as can be seen in any map of 200hpa height anomalies. Sea surface temperature responds precisely in accord with this spatial pattern. As the upper troposphere warms the cloud evaporates.
At the root of the increasing temperature of the sea is the long term shift in atmospheric mass away from the Antarctic, and the consequent increase in the temperature of the stratosphere in the southern hemisphere prior to 1978. The slow build of pressure at 30-40° south and the increase in the strength of the westerlies is just collateral damage. The decline in rainfall in my part of the world (South West Australia) is part of this phenomenon. High pressure cells are relatively cloud free and have dry air. As the Antarctic regains the atmospheric mass that it has lost, the high pressure cells of 30-40° south will shrink and the frontal action that brings the rainfall will move north again.

Figure 15 Changing atmospheric pressure at the poles

Figure 15 shows a 12 month moving average of polar pressure. It suggests that polar pressure is currently increasing at both poles with the Arctic leading the way. Frequently both poles experience a loss or gain of mass at the same time. This suggests a dynamic where the interchange of atmospheric mass is primarily between high and low latitudes. Something attracts the atmosphere away from the poles, weakening the polar easterlies and strengthening the Trades and the Westerlies. This is plainly associated with loss of cloud and surface heating. Inversely as surface pressure increases at the poles the flow of NOx from the mesosphere will increase, ozone concentration in the stratosphere will fall and surface temperature will fall. Atmospheric mass is returning to the poles especially in the northern hemisphere, particularly in winter when it matters most.

The second post  will trace the flux in ozone from the polar stratosphere that erodes cloud cover in the mid and low latitudes.

The third post will describe a force that shifts the atmosphere between the poles and the equator and between the hemispheres causing the winds to wax and wane, the clouds to come and go and the sea to warm and cool. This is a force that is external to the Earth. So I see the Climate System as responding to external stimuli. It is an open system with ever changing parameters.

Posted by: erl happ | January 4, 2011

Something Topical

Northern Hemisphere of Earth (Lambert Azimutha...

Image via Wikipedia

The Northern Hemisphere is having an old fashioned winter. I thought it might be of interest to look back at history for any lessons that might be there.

The Arctic Oscillation Index compares mid latitude sea level pressure with sea level pressure in the Arctic. There are other useful ways to compute the index based upon atmospheric phenomena that vary with the index but this is the simplest way to think of it.

The Arctic Oscillation Index and the Antarctic Oscillation Index change primarily with polar atmospheric pressure. The flux of pressure at the poles is large. In the mid latitudes the flux of pressure is small. If one observes these indexes (or polar pressure) over time it is plain that they frequently move together. Indeed, over the best part of the last sixty years there has been a loss of atmospheric mass and pressure at both poles. That process is now reversing, confounding a prediction that the AO would increase with the proportion of so called greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The implications for the climate of the northern hemisphere are discussed in this post.

All data from http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

Figure 1 Sea Level pressure at the poles in summer and winter

Let us imagine that a ( mysterious) force that is capable of shifting atmospheric mass away from the poles and towards the equator increases over a period of sixty years. Then it begins to relax. First to respond is the place that exhibits the largest inter-annual fluctuation, the Arctic in winter. It is like the canary in the coal mine. Since about 1990 there is a just a small gain in the Antarctic in southern summer. By contrast the Arctic, at precisely the same time of the year is, ‘up, up and away’.

Last to respond will likely be the Antarctic in winter, where pressure is higher than anywhere else on the globe. The Antarctic is a large block of ice about as big as the USA and it doubles its surface area in winter. The southern hemisphere at any latitude is colder than the northern hemisphere at the same latitude. The pressure that the atmospheric column exerts at the surface depends upon its temperature and density. There is a natural swing of atmospheric mass towards the winter hemisphere. Cold air is denser, warm air is less dense. So, depending upon the relative temperature of the hemsipheres the swing is modulated from season to season. It follows that Arctic pressure depends upon Antarctic pressure. The Antarctic is far and away the bigger sink.

So, Arctic sea level pressure has been increasing fast since 1990, both in summer and winter as we see in figures 1 and 2.

Figure 2  SLP is sea level pressure. 12 MMAv. is 12 month moving average. AO is the Arctic Oscillation Index.

If we tip the AO on its head (as in figure 2) we see that the Arctic Oscillation Index is actually a very good measure of sea level pressure in the Arctic. Notice that the right hand axis of figure 2 is reversed with negative values on top.

Just in passing, do you notice anything in particular about figure 2? It’s like petals on a flower, or the decoration on the rim of a swirling skirt. Pressure is moving in accord with a natural process, yet to be discovered. There is no suggestion that a natural driver is being distorted by a new, third force that is giving polar pressure a downward tilt. Arctic pressure and the AO index are as high today as they have been at any time in the recent past.

Figure 3 The Monthly Arctic Oscillation Index

In figure 3 we have the AO again but this time, the conventional way up, and presented not as a twelve month moving average of monthly data but as raw monthly data, a thirteen month moving average and a fitted second order polynomial trend line. The interesting patterns in the de-seasonalised data of figure 2 have disappeared. If the polynomial curve is to be trusted as a summary of trend, we might say that the AO index has gradually risen over time but, the rate of increase has become less and less. The index is now just a smidgen below the high point that it reached about 1998. And, just to emphasize the point that things are changing, it has recently fallen into a hole. That hole is the period from December 2009 to May 2010. The data does not reflect a similar plunge in December 2010 because it only goes as far as November.

What is going to happen if we are now entering a period where sea level pressure in the Arctic is no longer subject to the insistent pull of Antarctica.

Figure 4 The monthly AO and the anomaly in sea surface temperature at latitude 30-50 north

From 1948, sea level pressure was not only high in the Arctic but for thirty years it kept rising.

As figure 4 shows the AO just happens to correlate fairly closely with sea surface temperature in the mid latitudes.

Here is a closer look at that period. Sea surface temperature is now on the right axis that is scaled so that the relationship is easier to assess.

Figure 5 AO and anomaly in SST 30-50°N

It looks like sea surface temperature declined at a faster rate than the AO.

In figure 6 dWN refers to the differential pressure driving the Westerly winds in the Northern hemisphere. That is gauged by subtracting the sea level pressure at latitude 50-60° north (the sink) from the sea level pressure at latitude 30-40° north (the source). The letters dEN refer to the differential pressure driving the Polar Easterlies southwards in the Northern hemisphere. That is calculated by subtracting the atmospheric pressure at 50-60° north (the sink) from the atmospheric pressure at 80-90° north (the source).

Figure 6 The differential pressure driving the Polar Easterlies and the South Westerlies in the northern hemisphere

Figure 6 is not easy to read. The polar easterlies (dEN is colored blue for cold) actually fluctuate much more than the south westerlies (dWN is colored orange for warmth). The right hand axis where dEN is plotted has a spread of 30mb and the left only 12 mb.

If the differential is negative that wind can not exist. It doesn’t even get out of bed. Its probably easier to conceptualize reality if you cover up the all that portion below zero on the vertical axis.

The warm south westerlies did not get out of bed for many short intervals up to 1969 but the cold polar easterlies were active and influential. This is what you can expect when the AO is low. After a period of low flux between 1969 and 1980 the relationship flipped. The Westerlies came into their own and the Easterlies experienced repeated intervals of slumber. The Easterlies sunk to abysmal depths of invisibility when Arctic pressure fell into a deep hole in the early 1990’s as Antarctic pressure bottomed. But Antarctic pressure is now increasing and the Easterlies are making their presence felt.

And that has a lot to do with why the ice in the Arctic comes and goes, the polar bears have been swimming further between meals and you are now shoveling snow as the price of orange juice is rising.

If you want to reproduce my sea surface temperature data please use the same database, calculate the average for the entire period and work out the anomaly from that.

Postscript: I have been wondering why Southern Greenland and Hudsons Bay have experienced unseasonable warmth at the same time as entire continents froze in December. Here is my best shot:

There are four factors contributing
1. Warm air descends from the stratosphere. As soon as the AO goes negative we see a geopotential height anomaly appear at latitudes higher than 60°north representing ozone rich air that absorbs long wave radiation from the Earth. There is no UV to be had in the polar night but plenty of outgoing long wave radiation. So the source air in the descending polar circulation is warmer. It represents air slipping down through the ozone profile with more above and less below.
2 The warmed source air is further warmed as it descends via compression. In the polar regions, during the polar night, the air at the surface is warmer that the surface itself.
3 As Tom Rude points out in the last Arctic Ice thread at WUWT: ” at the front of the high pressure anticyclones that brought cold and froze lemon trees in Florida the strong temperature gradient will force the advection of a huge amount of warm and moist air northward, that very same air that dumped snowmaggedon on the NE USA recently.”
4. All forms of precipitation release latent heat.

The Arctic and Antarctic circulations are different beasts to a regular subtropical high pressure cell of descending air. For a start the air is loaded with ozone, it starts off warm and it warming further as it it descends. The warm air wants to climb out of the funnel where the centre is colder and denser because it lacks ozone due to the influence of NOx from the mesosphere.  The long and the short of it is that the coolest part of the stratosphere sinks into the troposphere at latitude 50-70. Bear in mind that the troposphere contains 75% of the atmsophere. If the troposphere is warmed kinetic energy forces the molecules apart creating a low pressure zone at that latitude. This low pressure zone markedly accelerates the circulation with an increase in the speed of the polar easterlies at the surface. Unlike the southern hemsiphere that ring of low pressure does no manifest all the way round the globe. The low pressure zones in the northern hemsiphere lie over the North Pacific and the North Atlantic leaving the continents exposed.

As the atmospheric shift occurs, increasing the general level of polar pressure, the circulation intensifies and the whole caboodle descends to the surface (its usual habitat in the Arctic is in the stratosphere) and starts to mimic what happens in the Antarctic all year round. This is really a case of the dynamics that drive the stratospheric circulation becoming apparent at the surface. What happens in the stratosphere is determined in the stratosphere, it is a function of the stratospheric circulation and the night jet that starts in the mesosphere and the dynamics alter with the shift of atmospheric mass to the Arctic. Those who would suggest that it is all driven from the troposphere are deluding themselves. It is their want to consider the atmosphere as a closed system so that their AGW fantasies are cosseted and conserved. I would hope that there is a bit of soul searching going on at the moment amongst those who can glimpse the bigger picture.

The climate of the northern hemisphere depends upon the general level of atmospheric pressure in the Arctic. If pressure is low the hemsiphere warms and if presssure is high the hemsiphere cools. It is a winter time dynamic.

This explanation of climate dynamics focuses on shifts in atmospheric mass over time as a function of external stimuli. I can conceive of no internal process that would shift the atmosphere towards the equator from the poles. In a warming globe those parts that are warming most should see a loss of atmospheric pressure. Since the climate shift of 1978 the entire northern hemisphere has gained atmospheric mass as it has warmed and the surface air temperature has increased at a faster rate than in the southern hemisphere. If the north had cooled relative to the south I could understand the increase in mass. But no, something is slewing the atmsophere northwards.

I am aware that sea surface temperature is modulated by the activity of the adjacent pole as it determines the flux of ozone into the troposphere. That is the ENSO driver. But that is a story for another day.

I can not imagine any internal dynamic that would produce a swing in Antarctic sea level pressure over 100 years. But I am aware of an external influence that does vary on that time scale.

Corroboration that the Stratosphere/Mesophere is the driver of the AO:

Stratospheric Harbingers of Anomalous Weather Regimes Mark P. Baldwin Timothy J. Dunkerton

Observations show that large variations in the strength of the stratospheric circulation, appearing first above ∼50 kilometers, descend to the lowermost stratosphere and are followed by anomalous tropospheric weather regimes. During the 60 days after the onset of these events, average surface pressure maps resemble closely the Arctic Oscillation pattern. These stratospheric events also precede shifts in the probability distributions of extreme values of the Arctic and North Atlantic Oscillations, the location of storm tracks, and the local likelihood of mid-latitude storms. Our observations suggest that these stratospheric harbingers may be used as a predictor of tropospheric weather regimes.

JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 104, NO. D24, PP. 30,937-30,946, 1999
doi:10.1029/1999JD900445

Propagation of the Arctic Oscillation from the stratosphere to the troposphere Mark P. Baldwin Timothy J. Dunkerton

Geopotential anomalies ranging from the Earth’s surface to the middle stratosphere in the northern hemisphere are dominated by a mode of variability known as the Arctic Oscillation (AO). The AO is represented herein by the leading mode (the first empirical orthogonal function) of low-frequency variability of wintertime geopotential between 1000 and 10 hPa. In the middle stratosphere the signature of the AO is a nearly zonally symmetric pattern representing a strong or weak polar vortex. At 1000 hPa the AO is similar to the North Atlantic Oscillation, but with more zonal symmetry, especially at high latitudes. In zonal-mean zonal wind the AO is seen as a north-south dipole centered on 40°–45°N; in zonal-mean temperature it is seen as a deep warm or cold polar anomaly from the upper troposphere to ∼10 hPa. The association of the AO pattern in the troposphere with modulation of the strength of the stratospheric polar vortex provides perhaps the best measure of coupling between the stratosphere and the troposphere. By examining separately time series of AO signatures at tropospheric and stratospheric levels, it is shown that AO anomalies typically appear first in the stratosphere and propagate downward. The midwinter correlation between the 90-day low-pass-filtered 10-hPa anomaly and the 1000-hPa anomaly exceeds 0.65 when the surface anomaly time series is lagged by about three weeks. The tropospheric signature of the AO anomaly is characterized by substantial changes to the storm tracks and strength of the midtropospheric flow, especially over the North Atlantic and Europe. The implications of large stratospheric anomalies as precursors to changes in tropospheric weather patterns are discussed.

JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 104, NO. D24, PP. 30,937-30,946, 1999
doi:10.1029/1999JD900445

Propagation of the Arctic Oscillation from the stratosphere to the troposphere

Mark P. Baldwin

Northwest Research Associates, Bellevue, Washington

Timothy J. Dunkerton

Northwest Research Associates, Bellevue, Washington

Geopotential anomalies ranging from the Earth’s surface to the middle stratosphere in the northern hemisphere are dominated by a mode of variability known as the Arctic Oscillation (AO). The AO is represented herein by the leading mode (the first empirical orthogonal function) of low-frequency variability of wintertime geopotential between 1000 and 10 hPa. In the middle stratosphere the signature of the AO is a nearly zonally symmetric pattern representing a strong or weak polar vortex. At 1000 hPa the AO is similar to the North Atlantic Oscillation, but with more zonal symmetry, especially at high latitudes. In zonal-mean zonal wind the AO is seen as a north-south dipole centered on 40°–45°N; in zonal-mean temperature it is seen as a deep warm or cold polar anomaly from the upper troposphere to ∼10 hPa. The association of the AO pattern in the troposphere with modulation of the strength of the stratospheric polar vortex provides perhaps the best measure of coupling between the stratosphere and the troposphere. By examining separately time series of AO signatures at tropospheric and stratospheric levels, it is shown that AO anomalies typically appear first in the stratosphere and propagate downward. The midwinter correlation between the 90-day low-pass-filtered 10-hPa anomaly and the 1000-hPa anomaly exceeds 0.65 when the surface anomaly time series is lagged by about three weeks. The tropospheric signature of the AO anomaly is characterized by substantial changes to the storm tracks and strength of the midtropospheric flow, especially over the North Atlantic and Europe. The implications of large stratospheric anomalies as precursors to changes in tropospheric weather patterns are discussed.

Posted by: erl happ | December 19, 2010

The solar wind, shifts in the atmosphere, climate change

It looks like the little puzzle that was the subject of my last post is not engaging too many minds. I will close out the offer of a reward with the following diagrams which provide some clues as to the physics behind shifts in the atmosphere, the forces driving the wind systems and the resulting warming and cooling of the ocean. In short, climate change is driven by the solar wind.

If the following diagrams seem to be obscure click on them to get a full screen view. The text explaining the figures is immediately beneath each figure.

Ring current dynamics affect the distribution of the atmosphere

The Dst index measures the strength of the electromagnetic fields in the Earth’s atmosphere.The Antarctic Oscillation Index and the Arctic Oscillation Indexes represent the balance of pressure between the mid latitude and the respective pole. Practically speaking these indices also represent the flux in polar sea level pressure with the polar index falling as sea level pressure rises.

When the solar wind intensifies the Dst index becomes more negative and it takes a couple of months to fully relax again. In about one half of occasions when it pulses negative both the AO and the AAO move upwards, and on a quarter of occasions it is one and on the other quarter it is the other. There are very few occasions when the polar indices fail to react.

As Dst relaxes the AO and the AAO indices fall indicating a return of atmsopheric mass to the poles

As the atmosphere becomes more compact,  it does towards solar minimum and in low amplitude solar cycles, the swings in the AO and the AAO become wilder, with a greater range in their activity. In an atmosphere where neutrals and changed particles are more closely associated it takes less energy from the solar wind to bring about an equivalent shift in the mass of the atmosphere.

Antarctic Oscillation and Arctic Oscillation from 2005

In the long term the AO and the AAO are locked together. This tells us that a force that must be external to the Earth itself must be responsible. What internal force could give rise to a shift of atmospheric mass from high to lower latitudes and gradually magnify the effort over sixty or 100 years, and then reverse the process?

In the short term there can be shifts of atmosphere from one hemisphere to the other due to seasonal influences (pressure at the pole is much higher in winter) and perhaps to the state of the northern hemisphere temperature in winter and the flux of ozone into the stratosphere and troposphere from the stratospheric vortex.  Perhaps the solar wind itself can preferentially shift the atmosphere from one hemisphere to the other. Certainly there has been a spectacular decline in pressure in the Antarctic since 1948 which is now bottoming. In the Arctic pressure fell from the 1940’s till the early 1990’s and is now recovering.The recovery is faster in winter. Interestingly, the temperature of northern hemisphere winters is strongly tied to the Arctic Oscillation. When pressure rises during an Arctic winter the westerlies weaken and the polar easterlies descend from their usual habitat in the stratosphere to plunge southwards in what is frequently described as an Arctic Outbreak. The Westerlies retreat south and the entire hemisphere outside of the Arctic cools. In the Arctic circle and the usual centres of downdraft activity, Siberia and Greenland, the surface warms when that descending air contains ozone from the upper stratosphere. Every interval of slightly increased pressure at the pole results in an increase in geopotential heights as ozone is gathered up from the interaction zone of the stratosphere and the mesosphere by renewed vortex activity, absorbs long wave radiation from the Earth and warms the surrounding atmosphere. The phenomenon is called a sudden stratospheric warming. Ultimately that ozone finds its way into the troposphere in the mid latitudes where it warms the air so reducing cloud density. The notion that this is all due to ‘planetary waves’ is unphysical. This idea does nothing to explain the propagation of thermal anomalies from upper stratosphere to middle troposphere that occurs every time pressure rises at the pole.

Antarctic Oscillation Index (AAO) and Southern Oscillation Index

Some people have noticed  a relationship between the AAO and the Southern oscillation index, a proxy for ENSO and Sea surface temperatures in tropical waters. It’s frequently out of phase however, sometimes one leading and sometimes the other. This rules out ENSO as a mode of causation of change at the pole. However, it does not rule out polar phenomena as a cause of ENSO because there are two poles that swing independently over the short term. Defend the jab from the south but watch out for the uppercut from the north.

Arctic Oscillation Index (AO) and the Southern Oscillation Index

Some people have noticed  a relationship between the AO and the Southern oscillation index a proxy for ENSO and Sea surface temperatures in tropical waters. It’s frequently out of phase however.

Antarctic Sea Level Pressure and the differential pressure driving the westerly winds between 30-40S and 60-70S latitude

There is nothing sloppy about the relationship between the Antarctic sea level pressure and the differential pressure driving the westerly winds however. The relationship is inverse.

Differential pressure driving the westerlies in the southern hemsiphere and the AAO
Differential pressure driving the westerlies in the southern hemsiphere and the AAO

And the same  can be said of the AAO and the differential pressure driving the westerlies. The relationship and its result in terms of changing sea surface temperature  is stronger in the northern hemisphere (not shown)

dWS and Sea surface temperature 30-50S

As the westerly winds strengthen there is an increase in sea surface temperature. One expects evaporation to increase as the surface of the ocean gets rougher. So, this relationship can only be due to flux in cloud cover. Notice the wider swings in dWS and sea surface temperature in the mid latitudes after 1990. I used to think think that this was due to the expansion of the Hadley cell. Now, I think it due to the gradual collapse of the ionosphere through solar cycle 23. The atmosphere is more reactive now because neutrals are more intimately associated with charged particles that are capable of acceleration when the electromagnetic field changes.

SST between 30N and 50S by wind zone

Sea Surface temperature evolution in the mid latitudes

Beware the differences in the scale on these two figures. It is apparent that the flux in sea surface temperature is greater at 30-50N than it is at 30-50S and that the flux is even less at lower latitudes. This conforms to what we know of the density of mid and upper level cloud according to latitude and the fact that the northern stratosphere has a higher ozone content and experiences a much greater flux in ozone from the stratospheric vortex than is seen in the southern hemisphere.

Going forward, weaker solar cycles will allow atmospheric mass to return to the poles, the westerlies will weaken, the stratosphere and the upper troposphere will cool, cloud cover will increase and the surface will cool. The SOI has been positive most of the time since 2007 whereas it was highly negative over the previous thirty years since the gross climate shift of 1978 when upper atmosphere temperatures jumped. Since that time upper atmosphere temperatures have been in decline.

What is described here is a mechanism that accounts for the change in the climate of the Earth over short and long periods of time that needs no reference to the supposed influence of carbon dioxide or other  ‘greenhouse gases’ of anthropogenic origin.

It is not expected that a better understanding of climate change phenomena will make much difference to the UN driven campaign to control carbon emissions. The ‘science’ of AGW has always been weak. This campaign is driven by an agenda that sees economic growth as unsustainable. Such a view has long been held by a section of the intelligentsia.  They hold this view regardless of evidence that man is highly adaptive, technology is advancing at a faster pace than ever before and individual people (even at times nation states)  frequently exhibit an unselfish attitude towards those in need. Left to his own devices man strives for improvement, organized into political parties and movements, he often loses his way. But, its usually temporary.

Postscript:

Brian H asked for a potted version of my theory of climate change.

From the surface upward.

Sea surface temperature increases due to

Increase in temperature of the cloud bearing layer of the troposphere from about 5km through to 12 km (this thins the cloud layer and lets more light through) due to:

Ozone descending from the stratosphere due to

A pulse of ozone descending via a polar vortex as the vortex recovers activity after a period where the flow has been restricted due to

Loss of atmosphere from the polar region due to

Electromagnetic attraction from the equatorial regions due to

Pulse of energy from the solar wind generating electric currents in the atmosphere…in particular the ‘ring current’ that circulates around the equator.

 

How can we get  “A pulse of ozone descending via the polar vortex”

Because the upper stratosphere over the pole is a mixing zone for nitrogen ions from the mesosphere and oxygen ions from the stratosphere. When the vortex is strong the flow of nitrogen ions is strong and this depletes the oxygen ions available to form ozone (O3).

When the vortex is weak, the flow of nitrogen ions is reduced, oxygen ions become abundant and more ozone forms.

So the vortex at the poles represents the primary natural regulator of the amount of ozone in the stratosphere and because ozone absorbs long wave energy from the Earth the vortex is also the primary regulator of stratospheric temperature. Because the stratosphere and troposphere are not walled regions that never mix and there is in fact a descent of ozone rich air into the troposphere (especially in the mid latitudes and to a lesser extent the low latitudes) this directly affects cloud density. When the cloud thins, the sea warms. The warming of the sea can be traced back very directly to a shift in the atmosphere (to and from the poles) wrought by the solar wind.

These phenomena are observable on a weekly basis. The loss of atmospheric pressure at the poles and gains elsewhere indicate that the phenomenon also varies on very long time scales of the order of at least 100 years.

Posted by: erl happ | November 15, 2010

The puzzle

I will pay $500 to the person who can explain the atmospheric physics behind the following phenomena:

If your cup of tea is too hot to drink you can blow across the surface of the liquid to cool it down.

In the trade wind zone, between the equator and 30° of latitude the temperature of the surface of the sea varies inversely with the differential pressure driving the trade winds (negative correlation).

In the zone where the westerly winds blow, between 30° and 60° of latitude, the temperature of the surface of the sea varies directly  with the differential pressure driving the westerly winds (positive correlation).

I want to advise that the reward will increase by $1 per day from today, the 16th November 2010 until the physics behind this phenomenon is explained to the satisfaction of both Mr Leif Svalgaard and myself.

Thank you Leif, for agreeing to participate.

I propose to provide a clue about once a week until the matter is resolved.

As Leif says, it should be fun.

Should there be sponsors who desire to elevate the stake I would be delighted to hear. Adding a dollar a day might suit you……..a bunch of flowers…..whatever strikes your fancy.

Update 17th November

Thanks for the contributions thus far.

All data from http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

No correspondence will be entered into in relation to the veracity of this data. That is the concern of the authorities responsible. I thank them for making available a fine database that enables a person to explore the relationship between climatic variables over time. I maintain that our climate system is changing on a daily basis.  Without an idea of where and why it changes you can not model it successfully.

Here is the data that supports the statement that sea surface temperature increases with the differential in atmospheric pressure in the latitude band 30-50° where winds with a westerly component dominate. The first figure presents anomalies based on climatology of the record up to today. In other words the data represents the departure from the monthly average for the entire period.

Northern Hemisphere Sea Surface Temperature and Sea Surface Pressure

The figure below is very simply derived. The pressure data represents the difference between the sea level pressure at 30-50°N and the sea level pressure at 50-60°N averaged over the four months from June to September. Despite the variable lag, the response in terms of increasing SST to increasing differential pressure is in my view quite striking. Remember that the latitude band chosen is pretty arbitrary, it is not refined according to the position of the wind systems in the summer season and that there will be interference at low latitudes from processes that characterize the trade wind zone.

NH Summer

And here is the winter situation where the connection between the two is even more obvious.

NH Winter

The northern and the southern hemisphere are different kettles of fish. But he relationship between SST and the pressure  differential is also pretty tight in the southern hemisphere when viewed as anomalous monthly data. Notice the discrepancy from 1993 that is also apparent in the northern hemisphere data.  My guess is that its due to volcanic action. You will see it in the summer and winter figures as well. This data should be compared with data from the stratosphere to explore the relationship. But, that is not my current interest.

Southern Hemsiphere SST and Differential pressure in the westerly wind zone

The data for southern hemisphere summer is only faintly suggestive of a relationship.

SH Summer

But the data for the winter is much tighter. What causes sea level pressure to fluctuate strongly on short and long time scales? Where does sea surface temperature fluctuate most and how does it affect the differential pressure driving the major wind systems?

SH Winter

And just in case you think that the ocean always cools in the trade wind zone when the differential pressure driving the trade wind increases, look at this.

SH trade wind zone

And to focus on recent years.

SH Trade wind zone, recent

Compare the SST response to the pressure decline in 2001-2 to 2003-4 and 2008-9. Why the discrepancy. If you contemplate this for a moment you will realize that evaporation and upwelling of cold waters are not the only factors driving the temperature of the sea in the trade wind zone. The ‘thing’  that drives the temperature of the sea upwards with sea surface pressure in the zone  where the westerly winds blow is also probably operating to some extent, and at some times more than others, in the trade wind zone.

Plainly, any explanation of the climate system has to resolve the question of how and why atmospheric pressure changes over time and why sea surface temperature responds on very short (hourly) and long time scales………centuries. It must account for SST declines in some places and concurrent increases in other places. It must also account for the difference in the behavior of  two quite different baskets of fish.

There is evidence in both pressure and temperature data that we are dealing with gradual change in both directions, increase and decrease. Any person in their right mind would not suggest that the sudden warming of the tropical ocean in the southern hemisphere from 1978 is due to back-welling radiation. The increase in the temperature of the sea in the southern hemisphere mid latitudes was steep initially and has flattened out since. It seems that the temperature of the sea in northern mid latitudes is currently in decline, having peaked at a value that was last reached in the 1940’s.

I hope that some of this discussion has helped. At this stage I consider my money safe.

Update no 2  on 17th November

Useful hint

Nature. 2004 Nov 18;432(7015):290-1.

Atmospheric Science: Early peak in the Antarctic Oscillation Index

Jones JM, Widmann M.

Institute for Coastal Research, GKSS Research Centre, 21502 Geesthacht, Germany. jones@gkss.de

Abstract

The principal extratropical atmospheric circulation mode in the Southern Hemisphere, the Antarctic oscillation (or Southern Hemisphere annular mode), represents fluctuations in the strength of the circumpolar vortex and has shown a trend towards a positive index in austral summer in recent decades, which has been linked to stratospheric ozone depletion and to increased atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations. Here we reconstruct the austral summer (December-January) Antarctic oscillation index from sea-level pressure measurements over the twentieth century and find that large positive values, and positive trends of a similar magnitude to those of past decades, also occurred around 1960, and that strong negative trends occurred afterwards. This positive Antarctic oscillation index and large positive trend during a period before ozone-depleting chemicals were released into the atmosphere and before marked anthropogenic warming, together with the later negative trend, indicate that natural forcing factors or internal mechanisms in the climate system must also strongly influence the state of the Antarctic oscillation.

Update no 3 20th November 2010

I want to revisit the first figure presented above. It explores the relationship between pressure and temperature in the west wind zone of the northern hemisphere. This time I present it as a 12 month moving average of hourly data centered on the seventh month. That removes seasonal influences. Looking at this data you might think that there is an excellent relationship from 1996 to 2004 and the rest is obscure. It is probably most obscure in the period from 1948 through to 1970.

SLP and SST 30-50°N

So, lets look at the monthly data for this period. This data is presented as the departure from the monthly average for the particular month concerned, that average computed for the entire period.

1948-1970 SLP differential (30-40N less 50-60N) and SST anomalies 30-50N

There is no doubt about the relationship. When Sea Level pressure rises so does sea surface temperature. This is different to what happens in the trade wind zone where SST falls as the pressure differential increases and the winds blow harder. That is due to the effect of evaporation and cold water upwelling. So, what happens in the west wind zone is the direct opposite of what happens in the trade wind zone.

The next figure shows that the trade wind and westerly pressure differentials move together and of the two, the greater flux is seen in the westerlies.

Westerly and Trade wind differential pressure flux 1948-1970

Consider this satellite derived imagery.

Current global cloud cover

Areas of dense cloud flowing away from the major centres of tropical convection (Amazon, Congo, Maritime continent) close to the surface are moving into colder territory and the tendency will be for cloud density and the heavily shaded surface area to increase as latitude increases. However, the light grey is high level cirrus cloud that is lifted into the upper troposphere in these same centres of of intense tropical convection and also due to uplift associated with mid latitude cyclones. Cirrus tends to flow westward as the low level cloud travels eastward. I suggest that it is this cirrus cloud that lightens off as sea level pressure in the west wind zone increases. It will do so if trace quantities of ozone enter the lower stratosphere/upper troposphere from the polar regions. This occurs as polar pressure falls. It is the fall in polar pressure that allows the westerlies and the trades to gain momentum.

The evidence for this can be seen in the flux in 200hPa temperature here: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/intraseasonal/z200anim.shtml. If you look frequently at sea surface temperature anomaly maps you will see that the areas that stand out as being highly variable in temperature are closely related. This includes as notable examples, the Arctic and the north west Pacific off Kamchatka.

There is a notion abroad that the presence of cirrus warms the surface. I say, the warming of the surface is related to the disappearance of cirrus cloud. We know the surface warms when atmospheric pressure increases. We know that cloud intensity is directly related to atmospheric pressure (happens in mid latitudes every summer and on a week to week basis with the passage of the pressure systems). Perhaps some smart person can separate these influences and give us the answer as to whether the observed warming of the upper troposphere is related to surface warming. My work in climate science started with the observation that a 1°C increase in SST is related to  a 3°C warming at 200hPa.

Again, I point you toward the pole, the enormous flux in atmospheric pressure that occurs at high latitudes, particularly in the south, and the flux in ozone that is closely related.

Here is the flux in the differentials driving the trade winds in millibars:

Trade wind drivers. Difference between SLP pressure at 30-40° and 0-10°

On the right hand  is dTN (differential driving the trades in the northern hemisphere) in summer and the left axis is used for polar pressure. Note the very large difference in the scales. There is a 45mb range on the left and a 4.5mb range on the right.

dTN summer

Here is dTN winter.

dTN winter

dTS (Southern Trades, where the great bulk of the tropical ocean lies) in summer.

dTS summer

dTS in winter.

dTS winter

We see a 1-2 millibar change in the differential driving the trade winds that is associated with a 10-15 mb change in Antarctic pressure.

The change in global pressure relations is part of a planetary system that involves ongoing change in the mass of the atmosphere at all latitudes on inter-decadal and longer time scales.

The change in the mass of the atmosphere is responsible for the surface winds that drive evaporation, upwelling of cold water and associated change in cloud cover, direct drivers of surface temperature.

What is being described here is a natural climate system that explains the cooling of the nineteen seventies, the warming from 1978 to 1998, static temperature thereafter and a swing to La Nina dominance from 2007.

Update no 4 20th November 2010

Here is independent support for my statement that an increase in  the strength of the westerly  winds (due to a rise in the AO or the AAO representing falling pressure at the pole) that is associated with  La Nina  type cooling in the tropics (due to concurrent intensified trade winds)  is associated with reduced cloud cover and increased sea surface temperature in mid latitudes:

11th Conference on Atmospheric RadiationP2.17

Relationship of the Arctic and Antarctic Oscillation to the Outgoing Longwave Radiation

A. J. Miller, NOAA/NWS/NCEP, Camp Springs, MD; and S. Zhou and S. K. Yang

Utilizing a combined data set of broadband outgoing longwave radiation data derived by NASA, (Wielicki et al., 2001) we show that the relationships of the Arctic and Antarctic Oscillation (AO/AAO) to the outgoing longwave radiation are well defined on the monthly time scale. Recent work by Limpasuvan and Hartmann(2000) (L&H) utilizing the NCEP/NCAR reanalyses indicate that the AO/AAO high phase minus low phase difference depicts downward motion in the mid-latitudes of each hemisphere. While it is usually very difficult to test attributes of the reanalysis, this downward motion suggests that this would be associated with a decrease of clouds and an increase in the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR). Thus, the independent OLR data provide a test of the data and results. Through both correlation analysis and composite analysis we demonstrate that a positive AO/AAO signal is, indeed, strongly associated with an increase in OLR in the mid-latitudes and vice-versa. These results also compare very well with the OLR computed within the reanalyses. This leads to conjecture as to how we may improve the current forecast system at time-scales beyond about a week.

extended abstract Extended Abstract (208K)

Poster Session 2, Earth Radiation Budget
Tuesday, 4 June 2002, 1:00 PM-3:00 PM

Comment on this research: This research does not assist our understanding of the type of cloud that disappears but the logic (see above under the map) supports the notion that it is high altitude cirrus cloud that is affected by the flux in ozone from the stratosphere. Ozone is a potent absorber of long wave radiation from the earth. Small amounts of ozone are influential in raising air temperature. Downward transport carries the warmed air towards to the surface although it does not always reach it. Downward transport commences when polar pressure increases, as signified by a fall in the AAO or AO respectively. This is a very consistent feature that relates warming of the stratosphere to the change in pressure.

Update no 5 22nd November

Warning: What follows may be, from some points of view, an unorthodox interpretation of the way the world is. Some maintain that any warming of the Antarctic stratosphere is due to planetary waves. I consider that interpretation unphysical. Planetary waves are internally generated and can not explain the variability that is seen, the extent of warming or in the distribution of the air that is warmed. There may be an involvement of planetary wave activity in vortex splitting events that occur when polar  air pressure falls to a very low point and the vortex is wholly inactive.

First look at this: http://www.jhu.edu/~dwaugh1/gallery_stratosphere.html

Stratospheric warming is episodic and continuous but most intense in the winter hemisphere where air pressure is at its annual high point. Between seasons you can see it occurring in both hemispheres simultaneously.  See the excellent animation at: http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/intraseasonal/temp10anim.shtml

I want to describe the process by which cirrus cloud can come and go affecting sea surface temperature in the west wind zone. The diagram below shows very cool air in the eye of the polar vortex over Antarctica. The AAO index is currently (November 17-22, 2010) high which means that sea level atmospheric pressure at 80-90°S is low. The flow through the vortex will be weak and the rate of change in atmospheric constituents like ozone, slight. There will be little air entering the upper stratosphere from the mesosphere and in this circumstance ozone concentrations will rise.The stage is being set for the next warming of the middle and lower stratosphere when the vortex refreshes. At this time of the year pressure is falling away in the south and rising at the northern pole. So the next major warming will be in the north. Humpty Dumpty needs to sit on the wall before he can fall off. If pressure is low it is difficult to reduce it still further. If its high, it can fall more readily.

On November 17th (diagram below) we are looking at the result of a fall in the AAO centred about 7th November denoting higher surface pressure and a more vigorous vortex. As the vortex refreshed with the increase in air pressure , ozone was brought down into the middle stratosphere and mixed with air as far north as the equator, as you can see by the bulge between 120 and 150 west longitude. The nitogen oxides that come from the mesosphere destroy ozone and the eye of the vortex is an ‘ozone hole’.  In circumstances where the vortex is weak, ozone concentrations rise in the upper stratosphere (10hPa is about the middle at 30km) and this happened prior to November 7th. The AAO had been high for the preceding three weeks as you can see here:http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/daily_ao_index/hgt.aao.shtml

If you check that link you will see that a warming of the stratosphere always occurs when the AAO falls.

Looking at the diagram below (which relates to the tropopause, the border between the troposphere and the stratosphere) you can see a region of high temperature (Letter H) between Antarctica and Australia and another close to the junction of the Antarctic Peninsula with South America. Ozone is a very good absorber of long wave radiation from the Earth and it imparts energy to the surrounding molecules of nitrogen and oxygen causing the local temperature to increase. Paradoxically, areas with high ozone levels in the lower stratosphere are usually anomalously cool at the surface.  I would ask those who believe that greenhouse gases warm the surface to contemplate that rather awkward fact.

The atmosphere is a convective medium. Local warming promotes the ascent of low density air. Accordingly, ozone descends into the troposphere where the stratospheric air is descending, and that is never ever where the stratosphere is warmest. So, look for the temperature anomalies in the upper troposphere at 200hPa and they will be a mirror image of the temperature anomalies in the stratosphere. Then look at a map of sea surface temperature anomalies and you will see positive anomalies beneath the positive temperature anomalies at the 200hpa level. That is sunlight streaming through a hole in the cirrus cloud. The effect is most readily seen in the southern hemisphere where the flux in  stratospheric temperature is slowest and there is a single dominant vortex. By contrast the northern hemisphere is a bucket of worms with strong centres of descending air not only at the pole but also over the Tibetan Plateau, Siberia and Eastern Canada and Greenland and there is much less ocean (which is relatively neutral) than in the southern hemisphere.

All you need to do to lose cloud density is to warm the air a little. Watch the air cross a mountain range and descend on the other side and the point will become obvious.

Effect of the flux in ozone on atmospheric temperature at 100hPa

One last point. The surface warms when cirrus cloud becomes less dense. The notion that the presence of cirrus cloud warms the surface is just an urban myth. The surface warms according to the rate of evaporation in relation to the rate of heat accumulation and the latter is determined by the strength and duration of sunlight on a daily basis. Cloudy days and nights are warmer than clear days and night s because the air that is associated with cloudy conditions comes from a wet and warm place and it is moving into cooler territory.

The climate system is not that complex, but if you are fixated on a central, inappropriate idea it is going to look incredibly complex, inexplicable in fact. Then you start talking about chaos, butterfly wings and so on. But the single most debilitating idea is that it is a closed system where change is determined by internal forces. Then you can fall into the trap of thinking that the Pacific Ocean forces change worldwide and drives the polar vortex, the AAO and determines whether it’s going to rain this winter.

Update December 19th 2010

It looks like this little puzzle is not engaging too many minds. I will close the contest with the following diagrams which provides some of important clues to the physics behind shifts in the atmosphere, the forces driving the wind systems and the resulting warming and cooling of the ocean, in short climate change as it is driven by the solar wind.

Ring current dynamics affect the distribution of the atmsophere

The Dst index measures the strength of the electromagnetic fields in the Earth’s atmosphere.The Antarctic Oscillation Index and the Arctic Oscillation Indexes represent the balance of pressure between the mid latitude and the respective pole. Practically speaking these indices represent the flux in polar sea level pressure with the polar index falling as sea level pressure rises.

When the solar wind intensifies the Dst index becomes more negative and it takes a couple of months to fully relax again. In about one half of occasions when it pulses negative both the AO and the AAO move upwards, and on a quarter of occasions it is one or the other only.

 

As Dst relaxes the AO and the AAO indices fall indicating a return of atmsopheric mass to the poles

As the atmosphere becomes more compact,  it does towards solar minimum and in low amplitude solar cycles, the swings in the AO and the AAO become wilder, with a greater range in their activity. In an atmosphere where neutrals and changed particles are more closely associated it takes less energy from the solar wind to bring about the same shift in the mass of the atmsophere.

AO and AAO January 2005 to December 2010

In the long term the AO and the AAO are locked together but in the short term there can be shifts of atmosphere from one hemisphere to the other due to seasonal influences (pressure at the pole is much higher in winter) and perhaps to the state of the northern hemisphere temperature in winter and the flux of ozone into the stratosphere and troposphere from the stratospheric vortex.  Perhaps the solar wind itself can preferentially shift the atmosphere from one hemisphere to the other. Certainly there has been a spectacular decline in pressure in the Antarctic since 1948 which is now bottoming. In the Arctic pressure fell from the 1940’s till the early 1990’s and is now recovering.The recovery is faster in winter. Interestingly, the temperature of northern hemisphere winters is strongly tied to the Arctic Oscillation. When pressure rises during an Arctic winter the westerlies weaken and the polar easterlies descend from their usual habitat in the stratosphere to plunge southwards in what is frequently described as an Arctic Outbreak. The Westerlies retreat south and the hemisphere outside of the Arctic cools. In the Arctic circle and the usual centres of downdraft activity, Siberia and Greenland, the surface warms when that descending air contains ozone from the upper stratosphere. Every interval of slightly increased pressure at the pole results in an increase in geopotential heights as ozone is gathered up from the interaction zone of the stratosphere and the mesosphere by renewed vortex activity, absorbs long wave radiation from the Earth and warms the surrounding atmosphere. The phenomenon is called a sudden stratospheric warming. Ultimately that ozone finds its way into the troposphere in the mid latitudes where it warms the air so reducing cloud density.

Antarctic Oscillation Index (AAO) and Southern Oscillation Index

Some people have noticed  a relationship between the AAO and the Southern oscillation index, a proxy for ENSO and Sea surface temperatures in tropical waters. It’s frequently out of phase however.

Arctic Oscillation Index (AO) and the Southern Oscillation Index

Some people have noticed  a relationship between the AO and the Southern oscillation index a proxy for ENSO and Sea surface temperatures in tropical waters. It’s frequently out of phase however.

Antarctic Sea Level Pressure and the differential pressure driving the westerly winds between 30-40S and 60-70S latitude

There is nothing sloppy about the relationship between the Antarctic sea level pressure and the differential pressure driving the westerly winds however. The relationship is inverse.

Differential pressure driving the westerlies in the southern hemsiphere and the AAO

Differential pressure driving the westerlies in the southern hemsiphere and the AAO

And the same  can be said of the AAO and the differential pressure driving the westerlies. The relationship is stronger in the northern hemisphere (not shown)

dWS and Sea surface temperature 30-50S

As the westerly winds strengthen there is an increase in sea surface temperature. One expects evaporation to increase as the surface of the ocean becomes rougher. So, this relationship can only be due to flux in cloud cover.

SST 30-50N and 30-50S

SST between 30N and 50S by wind zone

It is apparent that the flux in sea surface temperature is greater at 30-50N than it is at 30-50S and that the flux is even less at lower latitudes. This conforms to the density of mid and upper level cloud by latitudes and the fact that the northern stratosphere has a higher ozone content and experiences a much greater flux in ozone from the stratospheric vortex than is seen in the southern hemisphere.

Going forward, weaker solar cycles will allow atmospheric mass to return to the poles, the westerlies will weaken, the stratosphere and the upper troposphere will cool, cloud cover will increase and the surface will cool. The SOI has been positive most of the time since 2007 whereas it was highly negative over the previous thirty years since the gross climate shift of 1978 when upper atmosphere temperatures jumped. Since that time upper atmosphere temperatures have been in decline.

What is described here is a mechanism that accounts for the change in the climate of the Earth over short and long periods of time that needs no reference to the supposed influence of carbon dioxide or other  ‘greenhouse gases’ of anthropogenic origin.

It is not expected that a better understanding of climate change phenomena will make much difference to the UN driven campaign to control carbon emissions. The ‘science’ of AGW has always been weak. This campaign is driven by an agenda that sees economic growth as unsustainable. Such a view has long been held by a section of the intelligentsia.  They hold this view regardless of evidence that man is highly adaptive, technology is advancing at a faster pace than ever before and individual people (even at times nation states)  frequently exhibits an unselfish attitude towards those in greater need than himself.


Introduction

High pressure cells are areas of descending air while ascending air  is found in low pressure cells. Air travels from high to low pressure in a circuitous fashion, crossing isobars (lines of equal pressure). When isobars are close together, the wind velocity is greater.  Speculatively, the speed and volume of flow depends upon the pressure differential and also the size of the cells involved.

The Trade Winds originate in high pressure cells centred at about 30° of latitude in winter and 50° of latitude in summer. Air flows from these high pressure cells towards low pressure cells at the inter-tropical convergence near the equator. There is a wind with a westerly component that flows towards the poles from these same high pressure cells. High pressure cells are largely cloud free. High pressure cells establish and endure most strongly over cold waters that are free of the diurnal flux in temperature evident over the land. However, a large high also establishes north of the Himalayas, on land, dominating the northern circulation in winter.

The intensity of the wind in the trade wind zone drives wave action that determines the surface area of the ocean and thereby evaporation. Under high and relatively invariable levels of sunlight, the rate of evaporation from tropical waters is the prime factor determining surface temperature. But, the trade wind also drives the flow of the equatorial currents and determines the degree of upwelling of cold waters from below. This cools the eastern margins of the oceans. Cool waters are driven in a westerly direction by the trades.

It is plain therefore that warm tropical waters are associated with slackness in the trade winds. In the Pacific this is the ‘El Nino’ situation. The reverse, ‘La Nina’ is characterized by vigorous trade winds, enhanced surface cooling by evaporation and strongly upwelling cold waters. These phenomena are seen in tropical latitudes in all oceans.

One notes that the flux in global temperature closely follows that in the tropics. It is common parlance that ‘teleconnections’ link change in temperature of the Pacific Ocean to change in the weather around the globe. The El Nino Southern oscillation (ENSO) is seen as the major mode of inter-annual variation in the climate of the earth.

Since the intensity of the Trade winds depends upon the pressure differential between subtropical high pressure cells and lows located at the equatorial convergence, we can infer the  strength of the trades via the flux in surface atmospheric pressure.

The flux in surface atmospheric pressure in the subtropical latitudes between January 1948 and July 2010

The data in Figures 1 through 11 is presented as 12 month moving averages centered on the 5th month. The data refers to the entire latitude band. All data in figures 1-14 is sourced from: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

This data is cited as

Kalnay, E. and Coauthors, 1996: The NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis 40-year Project. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 77, 437-471.

Figure 1

Sea Surface pressure differential between 10-20° latitude and 10N-10S Lat.

The pressure differential between 10-30°south and 10° north to 10°south fell between 1948 and 1978, and remained low and relatively invariable until about 1996, subsequently increasing again.

The pressure differential in the northern hemisphere is seen to be little better than half of that in the southern hemisphere.  In the north the differential increased from 1948 till 1995 and fell away thereafter.

The change in differentials at this latitude is slight. The lower pressure differential in the north is probably due to the fact that the warmest equatorial waters are located between the equator and 10°north rather than at the equator itself. This means that the 10-30°north zone is warmer than in the 10-30°south zone. The northern zone does not support the generation of high pressure cells like the cooler zone in the southern hemisphere.

Figure 2

Sea surface pressure differential between 30-50° latitude and 10N to 10S Lat.

The inter-annual change in pressure differential between 30 to 50° and the equator (figure 2) is plainly  more vigorous than it is at 10-30° latitude (Figure 1). The ENSO dynamic is plainly driven by change in the atmosphere outside the tropical latitudes.

Reversing the relationship apparent in figure 1, the pressure differential between 30-50° latitude and the equator is greater in the northern hemisphere.

The progressive collapse in pressure differential in the southern hemisphere is impressive. This collapse and recovery (in part), that is evident in the trend curves, suggest that natural, reversible cycles of multi-decadal length drive the climate system.

A decadal collapse in the differential pressure occurred in both hemispheres between 1988 and 1998. This collapse is most obvious in the northern hemisphere. In the south, the differential fell strongly, bottoming out in 1992 then rose again, but to a figure that remained below the trend line. This produced the ‘El Nino of the century in 1997-8. The recovery of this differential in 1999, to produce the La Nina of 2000, was equally spectacular.

It is the collapse in the differential in the northern hemisphere that seems to be associated with the strong El Nino of late 2010-2011.

Collapsing differentials indicate that the climate system acquires an El Nino bias. The base state then promotes continuous warming.

Change in atmospheric pressure at high latitudes

Figure 3

Sea surface pressure differential between 50-70° latitude and 10N to 10S Lat.

The pressure differential between 50° and 70° north and 10°north to 10°south is positive in the northern hemisphere but strongly negative (and increasingly so over time) in the southern hemisphere. Even though it occurs at high latitudes well away from the trade wind zone this development would tend to weaken the south-east trades by diverting air to the north-westerly flows tending south. The strengthening sink is in the south and it robs the tropical sink. Secondly, it is probable that there has been a diversion of air supply from the southern to the northern Hadley circulation. This is consistent with the slowly increasing differential in atmospheric pressure at 30-50°north in relation to 10°north to 10°south. This would further weaken the southern trades while strengthening the northern hemisphere circulations. Again we see a proclivity for a base state of El Nino dominance in the southern hemisphere where the expanse of heat absorbing ocean is greater than in the northern hemisphere. This must be seen to be an adequate explanation for the increase in tropical and global temperature over the period 1978 to 1998. The lack of further warming after 1998, in a regime of an unchanging differential, is wholly consistent with that explanation.

The collapse in the pressure differential at 50-70° south is much greater than in the northern hemsiphere. It is more exaggerated on both inter-annual (ENSO) and multi decadal time scales. The negative pressure differential at 50-70°S increased by 8 bars between 1948 and 1978. This was due to a strong fall of pressure at 50-70° south and a slight gain at the equator. The collapse in the differential was most extreme in the period 1994 to 1998.

Figure 4

Sea surface pressure differential between 70-80° latitude and 10N to 10S Lat.

There is a positive pressure differential between 70-80°north and 10°north to 10°south in the northern hemisphere but the differential has diminished over time. The differential ran to the negative in the 1990’s and from 2007 it has recovered.

The inter-annual (ENSO) fluctuation is most extreme in the southern hemisphere. Lowest pressure relativity between 70-80° and the equator was seen in 1994.

Again, we observe that the origin and extent of the El Nino of 1997-98 lies in the low differentials established in mid and high latitudes of both hemispheres during the period 1990-94.

Figure 5

Sea surface pressure differential between 80-90° latitude and 10N to 10S Lat.

The pressure differential between the high polar latitudes and the equator is normally positive in both hemispheres. But notice the negative pressure differential in the Arctic over the period 1990-1996 leading up to the El Nino of the century in 1997.

The Antarctic has suffered a marked reduction in surface pressure over the period. This is of the order of 11 bars between 70 and 90°south.

The pressure differential in the northern polar region recovered strongly from 1990. The differential at 80-90°north recovered to a high point (in terms of the record as a whole) during at the start of 2010.  The resulting flow of cold air from the Arctic into continental Europe and North America prompted many observers to remember similar winters in the 1970’s.

During Southern hemisphere winter in mid 2010 Antarctic differential pressure has also been high with cold polar air affecting Australia, and South America.

Figure 6

Sea surface pressure at 80-90° latitude and 10N to 10S Lat.

Globally, the most severe fluctuations in surface pressure are seen at 70-80°south. It is interesting therefore to compare the flux in atmospheric pressure at 70-80°south to that at 10N-10S. This data is presented in figure 6.

Atmospheric pressure at 10°north to 10°south is plotted on the right axis that has a restricted scale by comparison with the left hand axis. It must be remembered that the equatorial surface area is much greater than the at the pole. It takes a large drop of pressure at the pole to produce a small increase in atmospheric pressure at the equator.

Generally, the relationship between atmospheric pressure at 70-80° south and pressure at 10°north to 10°south is inverse, confirming that it is the loss of pressure in high southern latitudes that allows the gain in pressure at low latitudes and in the northern hemisphere generally. The gain in pressure in the low and mid latitudes of the northern hemisphere is apparent in figures 1 and 2 above.

Peak pressure at 10°north to 10°south occurred in 1998 and pressure has been in decline since that time. This will markedly assist the recovery of the trade winds and the end of the El Nino base state. In fact, data for the SOI (Southern Oscillation Index) (not shown) suggests that the base state has been La Nina dominant since 2007.

Figure 7

Sea Surface Temperature 20N-20S and differential pressure at 30-50°S.

Figure 7 relates changing pressure differentials to sea surface temperature between 20°north and 20°south latitude. However, in this figure the pressure differential between 30-50° south latitude and 10°northto 10°south is inverted by reversing its sign. In this graph a rise in the pressure data indicates a fall in the differential. A fall in the differential causes sea surface warming. The blue line confirms the point.

It is apparent that change in the pressure differential ordinarily precedes the change in sea surface temperature. The pressure differential is a predictor of sea surface temperature. But, is it reliable?

Sea surface temperature at 20°north and 20°south depends upon the activity of both the north-east and the south-east trades, and as we have seen, pressure changes rather differently in each hemisphere. Let us now look at the northern hemisphere.

Figure 8

Sea Surface Temperature at 20N-20S and differential pressure at 30-50N

Notice the strong relationship between the northern pressure differential and sea surface temperature in 1998 and 2011. It appears that the northern differential has been the prime driver of tropical sea surface temperature since 1996. Notice also that sea surface temperature leads the northern pressure differential between 1972 and 1996. In this period the southern differential seems to havebeen more influential. However, in the 1963 El Nino it was the north that drove the change.

This paper therefore presents  a new ‘Southern Oscillation Index ‘ and for the first time, an equally valid ‘Northern Oscillation Index’. Both indices rely upon the pressure differential across the entire latitude band rather than that between spot locations. We should be interested in what drives the trade winds in all oceans, not just the Pacific. Figure 9 presents these two indices on a common axis.

Figure 9

Southern and Northern 'pressure band' ENSO oscillation indexes

It is apparent that the indices are as different as the hemispheres that give rise to them. It is also apparent that an El Nino bias is currently reversing in both hemispheres.

Let us compare the new (pressure band) ENSO Oscillation Index with the old SOI? Figure 10 relates to the southern hemisphere. Remember, a fall in the SOI indicates warming in the tropics.

Figure 10

Southern 'pressure band' ENSO oscillation index and 'Darwin Tahiti' SOI

The southern pressure band index is more volatile than the SOI. The SOI is not a good guide to global pressure relations at 30-50°south. The pressure band index frequently leads the SOI revealing that change begins outside the confines of the Pacific Ocean.

And in figure 11 there is the comparison of the Northern (pressure band) Oscillation Index with the traditional SOI.

Figure 11

Northern 'pressure band' ENSO oscillation index compared to the SOI

Plainly the SOI is not a good guide to the pressure relations driving the trade winds in the northern hemisphere.

Now let us focus on the last couple of decades using monthly data rather than a 12 month moving average. Figure 12 is compiled using a 5 month moving average of monthly data. The green and brown bars are a means of locating each pressure collapse within the annual cycle.

Figure 12

Five month moving average of monthly pressure differentials and sea surface temperature.

The leap in SST in early 2010 represents the first El Nino of solar cycle 24 just as the leap in temperature in 1997 was the first El Nino of solar cycle 23. These events, of almost equal stature, were plainly driven in the main by a collapse of differential pressure in the northern hemisphere. The La Nina that prevailed through 2001 and 2002 persisted through solar maximum. A similar experience might be expected in 2011 and 2012. The southern index is currently plummeting and the northern index may well fall as far as it did in 2008.

It is apparent that the northern hemisphere pressure differential frequently collapses in mid winter (1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2010) or in spring (1999, 2000, 2005, 2007, 2008).

The southern pressure differential collapses most frequently in late winter/southern spring. However, there is one instance of autumn collapse in 2004 (slight) and one in midsummer 2010 (again a slight collapse).

It is noted that the SST response to a collapse in the differential in atmospheric pressure appears without delay.  See for instance the events of 1997 and 2010 when the collapse in pressure occurred in both hemispheres at the same time.

Figure 13

Pressure differential in mid latitudes related to 10hPa temperature in the Antarctic stratosphere

Figure 13 is compiled from a 12 month moving average of monthly data. It compares the changing pressure differential at mid latitudes with air temperature at 10hPa over Antarctica.

An enhanced pressure differential at 30-50°south seems to be associated with a plunge in 10hpa temperature at 80-90°south, the latter implying a vigorous polar vortex. A vigorous vortex brings nitrogen oxides from the mesosphere, eroding ozone. Ozone is a primary driver of temperature in the stratosphere because ozone is a greenhouse gas par-excellence, reacting strongly to long wave radiation from the earth.

Figure 14

Surface atmospheric pressure is closely related to high altitude temperature in the Antarctic

Figure 14 presents  monthly data. The calculated anomaly represents the departure from the average for the entire period January 1948 through to July 2010.

The dramatic fall in sea level pressure at 70-90°south in July 2010 is associated with a sudden warming of the stratosphere between Antarctica and Australia in that month. The course of 10hPa temperature at 65-90° south is shown in figure 15.

Figure 15

10hPa temperature at 65-90°S showing anomalous warming from mid July 2010.

Figure 15 shows the range of data over the years 1979-2010. In the period 1948-1978 winter temperature were much cooler than after 1978.

Returning to figure 14, relative to the period as a whole, 10hpa temperature has been anomalously high in winter when the high altitude atmosphere reaches its lowest temperature (as seen in figure 15). Figure 14 shows that this anomalous warmth at 10hPa in midwinter is associated with a collapse of surface atmospheric pressure at 80-90°south. This represents a change in the base state of the climate system that weakens the differential pressure driving the trade winds. The change in the base state happened in 1976-1978. It is well documented in my post ‘The climate Engine’.

Discussion

Tropical sea surface temperatures respond to the change in surface pressure across the globe and in particular to the differential between mid latitudes and the near equatorial zone.

The southern hemisphere and high latitudes in particular experience marked flux in surface pressure. This leads directly to a change in the trade winds and tropical sea surface temperature.

There is an asymmetry between the hemispheres with loss of pressure in the southern hemisphere compensated to some extent by a gain in pressure in the northern hemisphere.

If we wish to understand the ENSO phenomenon we must look beyond the tropics for causal factors. ENSO in the Pacific is just one facet of change in the tropics. Change is driven by air pressure variations at mid and especially high latitudes. This determines the strength of the trade winds and the temperature of the tropical ocean (where solar insolation is greatest and cloud cover is least). There are knock on effects for heat transfer from the tropics to mid and high latitudes, rainfall, flood, drought and tropical cyclone activity worldwide. The tropical oceans are the Earths solar array.

The flux in surface pressure appears to be cyclical. However, the cycle is longer than the sixty years of available data.  We cannot say for sure what the cycle length may be or how it varies over time. However, there is good evidence that the warming cycle that began in 1978 peaked in 1998. Cooling is underway.

We must acknowledge that the ENSO cycle is not temperature neutral. There are short ENSO cycles of just a few years and long ENSO cycles that are longer than 60 years.

Is there evidence that the activity of man (adding CO2 to the atmosphere) is tending to produce more severe El Nino events.  The answer is no. The flux in surface pressure is responsible for ENSO and for the swing from El Nino to La Nina dominance. In spite the activities of man, the globe is currently entering a La Nina cooling cycle testifying to the strength of natural cycles and the relative unimportance  atmospheric composition in determining the issue (if the much touted greenhouse effect exists at all) .

Is there evidence that the ENSO phenomenon is in fact ‘climate change in action’, driven by factors other than the increase of atmospheric CO2? Yes, it appears that whatever drives the flux in surface atmospheric pressure drives ENSO and with it, climate change.

Is recent ‘Climate Change’ driven by greenhouse gas activity? No, it appears that the cause of recent warming and cooling relates to long-term swings in atmospheric pressure that changes the relations between mid and low latitudes thereby affecting the trade winds that in turn determine the temperature of the Earth’s solar array, its tropical ocean, and ultimately the globe as a whole.

Recommended reading:

Bill Illis on the connection between the Trade winds and ENSO at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/02/17/the-trade-winds-drive-the-enso/

And the conventional viewpoint on ENSO can be found here: http://earthsci.org/education/investigations/ies/El%20Nino/El%20Ni%F1o.htm

Posted by: erl happ | November 28, 2009

Natural climate variation

Going out on a limb and sawing it off

Dr Kevin Trenberth lead author of “Observations: Surface and Atmospheric Climate Change” in the 2007 IPCC report is reported to have emailed colleagues to say (my italics):

1.  ‘The fact is we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.’

2. ‘How come you do not agree with a statement that says we are no where close to knowing where energy is going or whether clouds are changing to make the planet brighter. We are not close to balancing the energy budget. The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geoengineering quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not! It is a travesty!’

Kevin Trenberth and the UNIPCC have enthusiastically promoted the notion of impending climate disaster. But when Kevin Trenberth admits to colleagues that he can’t explain what is going on, we should thank him for his candor, put aside the message, defer planned legislation, cancel attendance at international meetings and take a good hard look at the possible causes of climate change.

The ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’ mechanism is plainly in trouble. What else is at hand?

Atmospheric shifts
Trends in tropical and global temperature are dictated by change in the electromagnetic forces governing the distribution of the atmosphere.  The atmosphere can shift from high to low latitudes or vice versa over any time interval. Atmospheric pressure governs the strength of polar vortex activity. Vortex activity determines the flow of nitrous oxides from the mesosphere that govern the concentration of ozone and therefore the temperature of the upper atmosphere. When the temperature of the upper atmosphere changes, so does the concentration of reflective ice crystals, so changing the porosity of the atmospheric filter that determines how much sunlight reaches the surface.

Change in the distribution of the atmosphere is continuous. Such a change initiated the celebrated climate shift of 1978 that was followed by thirty years of warming. But a mini-shift occurs once or twice each year, whenever the polar atmosphere warms in the middle of the polar night. Regardless of the time scale, the result is the same. The warming of the polar stratosphere initiates a period when more sunlight gets through the atmospheric medium to warm the surface of the planet.

Regulation of stratospheric ozone

A low pressure regime at the pole weakens the polar vortex. A high pressure regime strengthens the vortex. If the vortex weakens, ozone levels increase and the air warms. This is a direct consequence of a slower flow of nitrous oxides from the mesosphere. These compounds are hungry for oxygen.

Surface temperature follows that of the upper atmosphere

The ozone content of the upper atmosphere determines its temperature. Ozone absorbs UVB from the sun and Infrared from the Earth. The stratosphere represents the temperature inversion to top all temperature inversions. This is a classic greenhouse gas warming scenario. But the mechanism whereby temperature increases aloft to cause temperature to increase below has nothing to do with back radiation. That simply doesn’t work against the countervailing force of convection. No, it’s to do with ice cloud. Ice cloud density changes when the temperature of the upper atmosphere changes. This is very likely the factor that modulates the flow of solar radiation to the surface of the earth.  Manifestly, surface temperature closely follows that of the upper atmosphere as is clearly evident in figure 1. We don’t have to know how it works to appreciate the dependence of surface temperature on the temperature of the upper atmosphere. We jump in the car, move the lever to ‘first gear’, let out the ‘clutch’ and off we go. Indeed, it’s a big surprise when it doesn’t happen that way. Driving a motor car is an act of faith. We can understand the climate system and predict the near future on the basis of the linkages described above .

Inspecting figure 1, we can see that, patently, 200hpa temperature (about 10km in elevation) varies much more than surface temperature. About 1978 the temperature of the air at 200hpa stepped up to a new plateau in the space of just a few years. Since that time, 200hpa temperature has been in slow decline while sea surface temperature has continued to exceed the period mean. It hasn’t risen much but nor has it fallen by very much. Short term variation in surface temperature is a much dampened version of temperature gyrations in the upper atmosphere with change initiated from above rather than below. Change in the temperature of the upper atmosphere leads the surface.

The ice cloud region stretches from a few kilometers to 20 or more in altitude. It is therefore far more extensive and it seems, more influential, than the near Earth cloud zone that is composed of water droplets. Unlike water droplets, microscopic ice crystals are near invisible and very hard to detect from satellites or from the surface. But the evidence of changing sea surface temperature tells us what we need to know.

Figure 1

Source: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

Pressure and temperature are intimately related

When air pressure drops at the pole it increases at low latitudes. Figure 2 shows that there is a strong relationship between surface pressure at the equator and sea surface temperature. Pressure is plainly the independent, more volatile, variable and there is frequently a short lag in the temperature response. The climate shift of 1978 that initiated strong warming is apparent in both series. The cooling process that set in after 1998 is plainly associated with declining atmospheric pressure at the equator.

Figure 2

Source: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

Effect of an atmospheric shift on the temperature of the tropical upper atmosphere

A major stratospheric warming in the Arctic in January-February 2009, as seen in figure 3, is associated with a simultaneous fall in the temperature of the tropical (25N to 25S) stratosphere, as seen in figure 5. I suggest that the fall in the temperature of the tropical stratosphere is associated with the outward movement of the zone of direct heating of the atmosphere by incoming short wave radiation as atmospheric pressure rises at the equator.

A sudden stratospheric warming at the winter pole influences month to month weather elsewhere because it is related to an increase in ozone content.  See figures 7-14 at https://climatechange1.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/the-atmosphere-dancing-in-the-solar-wind-el-nino-shows-his-face/, where the increase in ozone is carefully documented.

Episodic sudden stratospheric warming does not change climate. It is the change in the distribution of the atmosphere that persists over longer time periods that changes the climate.

Figure 3 shows that after 1979, the Arctic stratosphere has shown marked variability in temperature between October and April (black lines).  While the lower bounds of the temperature curve show a positive anomaly in December and January this curve is otherwise about where we would expect it to be. It is dictated by the tilt of the Earths axis and its rotation about the sun.  However, the upper boundary of the thermal range shows marked anomalous warming between November and March including a dramatic increase in December. This is in the middle of the polar night.

Figure 3

Source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/temperature/

Figure 4 shows evidence of enhanced variability in the temperature of the southern vortex between April and February with peak anomalies centered in August and September (black lines). By contrast, the range is very restricted in the late summer and autumn months February, March and April.

Figure 4

Source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/temperature/

Figure 5 shows that cooling of the tropical stratosphere occurs between November and March with the most intense cooling in November and December. The Earth is closest to the sun in January and this is when temperature at 1hPa should be warmest. A decline in temperature at 1hpa between November and March is anachronistic. It can only be due to a shift in the atmosphere.

Figure 5

Source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/temperature/

My last post ‘The climate Engine’ showed that the difference between the pre 1978 cooling mode and the post 1978 warming mode was a marked increase in the temperature of the stratosphere peaking in September in Antarctica and February in the Arctic. See figures 6 and 7 as re-numbered for this post. How do I reconcile the fact that the evidence in figure 5 suggests that the peak period for the gain in atmospheric pressure in the tropics lies, not in September or February, but midway between the two in November and December.  Naturally, if the poles are suffering a simultaneous depletion, as they do when surface pressure drops simultaneously at both poles the atmosphere can pile up only in the tropics. There is nowhere else for it to go.

The upshot of this analysis is that shifts in the atmosphere are responsible for an increase in the temperature of the upper atmosphere with peak warming occurring between August and February. This feeds through to sea surface temperature. The southern hemisphere experiences a warmer spring and summer in consequence. The vast expanse of the southern ocean absorbs the energy. In the cooling scenario it is the southern oceans that suffer a depletion in energy supply. That is simply a function of the time of year when the polar stratosphere warms. This is consistent with earlier bud burst and ripening in grapevines in the last forty years. Its a plant that leafs out in spring and matures its fruit in Autumn.

Figure 6

Data Source: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

Figure 7

Data Source: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

El Nino Southern Oscillation: Climate change on all time scales

The ENSO phenomenon is intimately related to atmospheric shifts. Figure 8 shows the relationship between the Southern Oscillation Index and sea surface pressure in the Indonesian region. In figure 8 the SOI index is inverted by changing its sign. Warming is indicated by a rising index which is more intuitive. Plainly, there is a very close association between the SOI and pressure over Indonesia.

Figure 8

Data Source: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

ftp://ftp.bom.gov.au/anon/home/ncc/www/sco/soi/soiplaintext.html

The SOI index is based on the relationship between atmospheric pressure in Tahiti and Darwin. A falling SOI is accompanied by a slackening of the Trade winds and rising sea surface temperature at the equator while a rising SOI is accompanied by intensification of the trades and a cooling sea. The Southern oscillation Index, and change in the Nino 3.4 region in mid Pacific are monitored because change in this region is associated with changing climate phenomena world-wide. Global temperature follows tropical sea surface temperature with a lag of a few months. Billions of dollars of research funds have been dedicated to studying temperature change in the Pacific Ocean. In spite of this investment, the dynamics of atmospheric change that drive the change in the temperature of the sea remain unknown, mysterious and controversial. Some birds, when faced with a threat to their existence will bury their head in the sand. Anthropogenic Global Warming theorists are not immune.

It is patently obvious that the El Nino Southern Oscillation phenomenon (ENSO) is the manifestation of ‘climate change in action’ both in the short and the long term. However, this interpretation is very much at odds with the version of climate science expressed by the U.N.I.P.C.C. where it is assumed that ENSO is internally generated and temperature neutral. Nothing could be further from the truth. This organization prefers its own highly speculative view of climate change in preference to that which is observed. This apparently ‘orthodox view’ is mistaken. Like many other supposed ‘pollutants’, carbon dioxide is just ‘plant food’. Like many other plant foods, it is in short supply. Many farmers who work with controlled atmospheres purchase carbon dioxide to supplement the natural supply. The atmosphere and the UNIPCC, ‘climate models’, have very little in common.  Kevin Trenberth has implicitly admitted this.

Figure 9 shows the relationship between surface pressure in Indonesian waters and the global tropics as represented by the latitude band 10N to 10S. It is apparent that pressure in Indonesia is an amplified version of pressure in the entire tropics, perhaps reflecting the movement in the zone of convection across the Indo-Pacific oceans.  The dramatic change in surface pressure in the El Nino of 1997-8 establishes this as the most powerful El Nino event of the last half of the century with the event of 1982-3 second in apparent intensity. From 1978 to the present time, surface pressure at the equator has been greater than the period average whereas prior to 1978 it was less than the period average. The globe cooled in the nineteen seventies, warmed between 1978 and 1998 and has since cooled. Periods of cooling are denied in ‘U.N.I.P.C.C.’ climate science. It appears that data is massaged to remove them. That is not science. It’s spin.

In problem solving activity, science can be of no utility unless some ground rules are adhered to. One must call a spade, a spade and cooling is cooling.

Figure 9

Data Source: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

Since tropical sea surface atmospheric pressure is such a good guide to surface temperature it occurred to me to extend the data series as far as possible into the past. The virtue of barometric pressure is that it is not subject to urbanization effects, changes in land use and does not suffer from discontinuities due to relocation of the recording site, all problems that bedevil the temperature record.

Evangelista Torricelli, working with Galileo, became the first scientist to create a sustained vacuum and to discover the principle of a barometer. Torricelli realized that the variation of the height of the mercury from day to day was caused by changes in the atmospheric pressure. Torricelli built the first mercury barometer around 1644. In 1843, the French scientist Lucien Vidie invented the aneroid barometer and this was soon linked to a recording device.

Understandably, barometric pressure records begin about 1850. The Hadley Centre produces a gridded series of barometric pressure for the globe that can be accessed at http://climexp.knmi.nl

Surprise, surprise, the period from 1922 through to 1978 is characterized by low barometric pressure in the tropics whereas the period after 1978 is characterized by very high barometric pressure. In this graph we see the origins of the global cooling scare of the seventies and the warming scare of recent times. It would be a brave man who could suggest that the increase in barometric pressure post 1978 is in any sense unusual.

Figure 10

Conclusion

Recent change in global temperature is explicable in terms of atmospheric dynamics that depend upon the influence of the sun. There is no need to invoke an anthropogenic influence.

There have been episodes of very high barometric pressure in the past, just as extreme as those of recent years. One can confidently assert that the pressure record is an accurate reflection of thermal conditions and is probably better than the temperature record itself. The period since 1978 is therefore warm only in the context of the cool period that immediately preceded it.

Reality check

Good science requires accurate measurement and careful extrapolation where no data is available. In that context consider the difference between HadAT2 and NCEP /NCAR Reanalysis versions of atmospheric pressure near the equator as represented in figure 11. Do these two series reflect national differences in demeanor? Is British ‘reserve’ and American ‘exuberance’ coming through? Where oh where does reality lie? Are scientists kidding us when they maintain that they have a handle on measurement? When they say they have confidence one way or the other, do they really expect us to believe them?

Figure 11

When I was just a lad my mother read me the story ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. I guess we are just coming to terms with the refinement of what is conveyed by the term ‘Expert’ and the term ‘Scientist’. But, to be humane about it, all so called ‘knowledge’ is speculation anyway. We ‘choose’ what to believe on the basis of very limited evidence and most of the time it doesn’t worry us at all.

Note on the dominant data source:

NCEP/NCAR data is described in Kalnay, E. and Coauthors, 1996: The NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis 40-year Project. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 77, 437-471.

From http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/gridded/reanalysis/ we have this description:

Physical Sciences Division  maintains a collection of reanalysis datasets for use in climate diagnostics and attribution. Reanalysis datasets are created by assimilating (“inputting”) climate observations using the same climate model throughout the entire reanalysis period in order to reduce the affects of modeling changes on climate statistics. Observations are from many different sources including ships, satellites, ground stations, RAOBS, and radar. Currently, PSD makes available these reanalysis datasets to the public in our standard netCDF format:

  • NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis I (1948-present)

    This reanalysis was the first of it’s kind. NCEP used the same climate model that were initialized with a wide variety of weather observations: ships, planes, RAOBS, station data, satellite observations and many more. By using the same model, scientists can examine climate/weather statistics and dynamic processes without the complication that model changes can cause. The dataset is kept current using near real-time observatons.

Posted by: erl happ | November 8, 2009

The Climate Engine

What follows is a general theory of natural climate variation supported by observation of the changing temperature of the atmosphere and the sea between 1948 and September 2009. This work suggests that strong warming after 1978 is an entirely natural phenomenon and that a cycle of cooling is imminent.

Imagine a small planet about the size of the Earth orbiting a sun just like our own. The planet has an atmosphere composed of nitrogen (76%), oxygen (23%) and trace gases (1%) of which argon makes up half of that one percent.

Let us further imagine that the sun bombards the Earth with radiation so energetic as to destroy the integrity of nitrogen and oxygen in the planet’s upper atmosphere. The region where this occurs may be called the ‘ionosphere’. When superheated at the highest elevations it can be known as the ‘thermosphere’.  The electrically unbalanced particles of the ionosphere possess negative or a positive polarity. Like iron filings scattered across a piece of paper atop a magnetized iron bar, atmospheric ions orient themselves according to the lines of the planets magnetic field. Rotating with the planet, the ionosphere is a place of constant flux.  Particles are energized on the dayside and dragged into a long tail on the night-side by the pressure of the solar wind, a highly magnetized stream of helium and hydrogen emanating from the sun. There is an exchange of energy between the wind and the ionosphere and particles are accelerated in one direction or the other and re-distributed according to the tension imposed by the constantly changing electromagnetic medium.

As ionized particles radiate energy and cool they will join up with particles of opposite polarity. The junction of one with the other moves the union closer to a ‘neutral’ state.  The orgy of irradiation, excitement, and reorientation, begins anew each day as the sun appears above the horizon. Recombination occurs mainly at night.

Nitrogen requires the most energetic short wave radiation to achieve the ionic state. This energy is available at a higher altitude. Oxygen ions are scarce at altitudes where nitrogen ions are formed because when the music stops, ions of nitrogen grab oxygen partners just as happily as nitrogen partners and there are many more nitrogen partners than oxygen partners.

Where free oxygen ions exist, they do so at a lower level where there is insufficient very short wave radiation to ionize nitrogen.

So, we have two regions of an ionosphere, the lower oxygen rich and the upper oxygen poor and nitrogen rich, ‘ionically’ speaking.

Ions of oxygen will hold hands in groups of three in a molecule called ozone. Although this happens only to a limited extent, it nevertheless creates an ozone rich layer. We call it the stratosphere.

The cumbersome ozone molecule has an ability to trap the relatively long wave radiation of the planet and also some radiation from the sun at the long end of the short wave spectrum.  Consequently this ozone rich layer is warmer than the atmosphere above and below it.

The depth of the atmosphere beneath the ozone rich layer is, in the context of the size of the earth, hardly skin deep (only 10Km at mid latitudes and 15Km at the equator) but nevertheless sufficient to effectively cool the Earth. In dry air the lapse rate is 10°C per kilometer. The upper troposphere is very much colder than the surface of the planet. So we must (reluctantly perhaps) conclude that the atmosphere is a very effective vent for surface heat.

Though about three quarters of the atmosphere is below the stratosphere and free of the influence of an electromagnetic field, the remaining portion of the atmosphere is very much under its influence. That part is very much more influential in determining climate at the surface than the 0.04% which is carbon dioxide.

The tropical troposphere tends to lose energy by decompression associated with uplift whereas the subtropical latitudes is a place of descending, compressing air where long wave radiation is the chief means of energy removal. Where decompression is vigorous, the upper troposphere cools to minus 85°C. Elsewhere it reaches a temperature of about minus 55°C. As the equatorial region has warmed the quantum of long wave radiation from the near equatorial zone has diminished while in the subtropics by contrast, where the air is descending, long wave radiation has increased. In the subtropics increased radiation is a signature of a warm and cloud free troposphere and increased radiation incident at the surface. Here is a characteristic of climate change in action.

The surface of the planet is 70% water and the atmosphere near the surface is water vapor rich. Because the air at 1000 meters elevation is already between 6 and 10°C cooler than the surface, clouds of moisture form in rising air. At an elevation of two to four kilometers condensing moisture forms, not water droplets, but ice crystals of many and varied patterns and considerable surface area. Ice crystals populate the atmosphere at a density so low as to make them virtually invisible. But, the ice crystal zone stretches from about 2km to 25km in elevation and it is therefore very much deeper and potentially more reflective than the water droplet zone.

Sensibly therefore, we might expect the temperature at the surface of the planet to relate strongly to the extent of ice crystal formation. Since the upper atmosphere tends to have much the same level of moisture all the time, the population of ice crystals varies inversely with air temperature.

How could the temperature of the ice cloud region change?

The concentration of ozone in the stratosphere and upper troposphere depends upon the rate of mixing of oxygen hungry, mesospheric nitrogen ions into the stratosphere. Where does this mixing occur?

Most of the land is in the northern hemisphere but there is none at the northern pole. Strangely there is a massive landmass at the southern pole. Here the surface is very cold all the year round and particularly so in winter.

The temperature of the Antarctic ice mound is always below the freezing point of water. Any precipitation that falls upon it is trapped. Ice surface area doubles in winter by virtue of the freezing of the sea on its margin. A downdraft is present at all times and it is particularly powerful in winter.

The circulation of the atmosphere is driven by differences in surface temperature and the release of latent heat giving rise to columns of rising air particularly over the tropical rain forests. Air descends over the cold oceans in the subtropics and also over the Polar Regions especially in their winter season when the pole is dark and the surface is at its coldest.

The column of descending air over the Antarctic continent stretches into the mesosphere.

Because nitrogen from the mesosphere enters the stratosphere primarily over the Antarctic continent there is less ozone in the southern hemisphere than the northern hemisphere. But when the downward flow of air within the vortex stalls, ozone builds up throughout the stratosphere and to a more limited but very influential extent in the upper troposphere. The mixing rate of ozone into the upper troposphere varies with latitude.

As the ozone content of the ice cloud region rises, so does its temperature. This depletes ice cloud allowing more solar radiation to reach the surface.

Can a reorientation in the direction, mass density or speed of the ‘solar wind’ or perhaps a change in the intensity of ionizing radiation or a change in the Earth’s magnetic field or a mix of all three shift air from high to low latitudes, lowering surface pressure there and raising it somewhere else? Unambiguously, the answer is yes. There is no process internal to the Earth itself that could account for this shift in the atmosphere. It depends wholly upon the magnetic fields in the ionosphere and the exchange of energy between the solar wind and the ionized atmsophere. So, the distribution of the atmosphere by latitude is determined by the sun and the earth together.

Figure 1 shows the loss of atmospheric pressure at 70-90° south latitude after 1948. Most of the depletion occurred before 1976. However, the forces that created this changed state have continued to maintain it.  Not only can the atmosphere move, it can be held in position by the electromagnetic force and it will stay in place until that force relaxes.

Figure 1

1 SA Pressure

Change in surface atmospheric pressure

Where and when did surface pressure change?

Figure 2 compares the period of global warming after 1977 to the period of relatively stable or cooling temperature prior to 1977.

The change in the atmosphere is striking.  After 1977 there is a loss of pressure increasing with latitude between 40° and 90° south latitude, especially in winter. A loss of pressure weakens the vortex, reduces the influx of mesospheric nitrogen oxides allowing ozone levels to increase and stratospheric temperature to rise.

Between the equator and 30° south latitude surface atmospheric pressure has increased. At 40-50° south, which may be a transition zone, surface pressure increased in summer and fell in winter with greatest loss in September. Very similar dynamics manifest at 30-40° south but by and large this latitude has been once of increasing atmospheric pressure.

Figure 2

2 Change in SP 0-90S

Looking now at the northern hemisphere as represented in figure 3, we observe a loss of pressure in the winter months at high latitudes with losses also in June, August and September. However, the loss of pressure is no more than 1mb, much less than in the southern hemisphere where pressure fell by 2 to 8mb south of 50° south latitude.

After 1977 atmospheric pressure increased in mid year between the equator and 50° north latitude. There is obviously a tendency for pressure to increase at high latitudes in the northern summer at the same time as pressure falls in the southern hemisphere. This represents an atmospheric shift from high latitudes of the southern hemisphere into the entirety of the northern hemisphere in northern summer. This should tend to increase northern vortex activity in the wing months of the northern winter.

Peak months for loss of pressure in high latitudes of the northern hemisphere are November through to February. At this time pressure rises at 40-50° south latitude (aqua line in figure 2). This represents an atmospheric shift from the northern to the southern hemisphere in northern winter. However, there is another contributing factor. It is probable that the Arctic vortex suffers from competitive downdraft activity over the very cold Siberian and North American land masses. It is noticeable that pressure loss in midwinter is greater at 60-70°N (olive green) than at 80-90°N (red).

The ‘Arctic Oscillation Index’ records change in the relationship between surface pressure close to the northern pole and that at mid latitudes in the northern hemisphere. Change in the index goes along with change in the nature of western European weather.  It may appear that there are complex influences driving the Arctic Oscillation including perhaps the state of the downdrafts over Antarctica, continental Asia and North America. But in physical terms, the real driving force is electromagnetic and it can be shown that the A.O. index closely follows the flux in surface atmospheric pressure within the Arctic circle and that surface pressure at the north and south pole change in the same direction at the same time.

Figure 3

3 Change in SP 0-90N

The relationship between pressure and surface temperature in the tropics

Figure 4 shows the relationship between atmospheric pressure near the equator and sea surface temperature at 20° north to 20° south globally. Warming of the tropics goes hand in hand with increased surface atmospheric pressure. This is a key understanding. It is counter-intuitive because hot air is less dense and will rise in the middle of a low pressure area. But here we have hot air under increased pressure. We are accustomed to observing high pressure air that is associated with subsidence and cloud free skies in the subtropics. This is different. This pressure regime is determined by a shift in the atmosphere from high to low latitudes.

The relationship between these variables is mediated by the change in atmospheric moisture levels. An illustration of this relationship is the failure of the tropics to warm when pressure increased in the year 1999-2000. The precipitation event that followed the marked increase in atmospheric moisture during the El Nino event of 1997-8 created its own momentum (increased atmospheric moisture and cloud cover) and overwhelmed the possibility of a response to the increase in pressure a year later, itself a response to electromagnetic activity in the upper atmosphere. If one appreciates this, we can dispense with the usual statistical tests, proceeding according to logic and the eye. Many a baby has been thrown out with the bathwater after the application of an inappropriate statistical test.

Figure 4

4 Temp and pressure in tropics

We know that El Nino activity in the Pacific is accompanied by a slackening of the Trades as the pressure difference between the south east Pacific (high pressure) and Indonesia (low pressure) falls away. Figure 5 shows that, when pressure rises in the Indonesian region, it falls very strongly in the waters off the coast of Chile. The weakening of the trade winds is a marker for El Nino activity in the Pacific. The change in pressure relations driving the trade winds is due to the movement of the atmosphere. That movement has its origin in electromagnetic activity in the upper atmosphere.

A glance at figure 4 reveals that the tropical sea cools when surface atmospheric pressure between 10°N to 10°S  falls below its long term mean.  Figure 6 shows that there is much greater activity in terms of pressure change in the waters off Chile than in the Indonesian theatre.  Change in Chilean waters appears to precede change in Indonesia.

A shift in the atmosphere from high to low latitudes increases pressure at 30-40° south latitude. However, in the waters off Chile, we see a loss of pressure as pressure builds at the equator and this is particularly noticeable in March and September when geomagnetic activity peaks due to the favorable orientation of the Earth to the sun at the equinoxes. Surface pressure off Chile at 30-40° south behaves atypically for the latitude. It moves with polar pressure rather than low latitude pressure. This makes Pacific sea surface temperature particularly susceptible to influence from shifts in the atmosphere that changes polar pressure, vortex strength, upper atmosphere ozone content and therefore atmospheric opacity .

Figure 5

5 Pressure Indo and Chile

Figure 6 shows that when atmospheric pressure falls off Chile (in figure 6 pressure is inverted so that a rise in the pressure line actually represents falling pressure) sea surface temperature in the intake region for Nino 1 and Nino 2 warms. An increase in the temperature of tropical waters follows as a matter of course. The thing that controls the atmospheric pressure controls the temperature of tropical waters and ultimately the globe. That ‘thing’ is the electromagnetic force in the upper atmosphere. The change in surface temperature is due to a change in the ratio between radiation received at the limits of the atmosphere (almost a constant) and radiation reflected by ice crystals. Variation in reflection is responsible for change in the intensity of radiation received at the surface.

Figure 6

6 Press off Chile and SST

The temperature of the polar stratosphere increases at the time of the year when atmospheric pressure falls.

Figure 7 indicates a marked increase in stratospheric temperature at 10hPa post 1977 that is coincident with the fall in atmospheric pressure illustrated in figure 2.

There can be no shadow of doubt that the increase in the temperature of the upper stratosphere over Antarctica is associated with falling atmospheric pressure, the collapse of the vortex and a diminution of the flow of mesospheric nitrogen ions into the stratosphere. This allows an increase in ozone concentration which accounts for the increase in temperature both in the stratosphere and at the surface.

Ozone absorbs long wave radiation from the earth and UVB from the sun and this energy is rapidly transmitted to adjacent molecules. The upper atmosphere warms and as the ice crystal population falls in southern winter and spring, the temperature of the sea increases in the intake zones for the equatorial currents. In the Pacific this is called El Nino. The conventional explanation of this warming is at odds with reality. Most of the warming activity occurs outside the tropics. It is most pronounced in late winter and spring in the southern hemisphere and it is patently a phenomenon that shows up with greater intensity after the climate shift of 1978. Indeed, the increased frequency and intensity of southern hemisphere warming in spring lies at the heart of the warming of the globe after 1978.

Figure 7

7 change by latitude at 10hPa

Figure 8 shows that the warming of the northern stratosphere at 10hpa in the middle of northern winter is insignificant if compared to the warming of the southern stratosphere. Stratospheric warming and cooling is just as lopsided as the distribution of the land between the hemispheres.

Some observers attribute sudden stratospheric warming in the polar night to ‘planetary waves’. But planetary waves are more evident in the northern than the southern hemisphere. These observers  maintain that the Earthly climate system is free of external influences.  Copernicus feared the response of the keepers of the conventional wisdom when he suggested that the sun was at the centre of the solar system rather than the Earth. He kept his opinions to himself until his theories were published close to his death in 1543. Galileo supported the Copernican viewpoint in a forthright fashion in 1632, was tried by his peers in the ‘Inquisition’ and spent the rest of his life in detention.  Geo-centrism is alive and well to this day and it thrives in the field of climate science. Trial by ones peers can be a harrowing affair. As Galileo would no doubt observe:  ‘My colleagues, though well meaning, are sadly deluded’.

Figure 8

8 change at 10hPa northern hemis

The extent of warming of the polar stratosphere in winter increases with elevation

Figure 9 reveals that temperature gain in the Antarctic stratosphere after 1977 increases with elevation. This is in conformity with the notion that a mesospheric influence on stratospheric ozone is the driver of stratospheric temperature at the poles and it acts via a variation in vortex activity brought on by change in the weight of the atmospheric column as expressed in changing surface pressure.

Figure 9

9 Change 80-90S

Figure 10, relating to the northern hemisphere shows temperature gain increasing with altitude as is the case in the southern hemisphere. Peak temperature gain is in February when surface pressure loss after 1977 is maximal (see figure 3).

Figure 10

10 Change 10hpa 80-90S

Figure 11 shows the relationship between surface atmospheric pressure in the tropics and the aa index of geomagnetic activity. Anomalies are calculated with respect to mean monthly data for the period 1948-2009. The trend lines are third order polynomials selected for best fit.  It appears that this cycle may be about 80 years from trough to trough. A cycle of about this length has been called the Gleissburg cycle. The currently falling pressure at the equator heralds cooling. A simple projection of trend indicates perhaps thirty years of cooling ahead.

In considering figure 11 one must bear in mind that the atmosphere must first be ionized before it comes under the influence of the solar wind. We know little about the cycles in very short wave ionizing radiation. Nor, it seems do we know much about the driving force behind the change in the Earth’s magnetic field. The electromagnetic movement of the atmosphere is a multi-factorial phenomenon. Figure 11 deals with a single contributing factor and compares its oscillation with surface pressure near the equator. The field of change is much wider than the equator. The dynamics of pressure change are driven by many factors including the tilt of the Earth’s axis of rotation, the revolution of the earth around the sun, the distribution of the land and the sea, the variation in the temperature of the sea at the same latitude, variations in the magnetic emanations from the Sun and variations in the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field from place to place. At times surface pressure at both poles moves in the same direction and at other times pressure increases at one pole and decreases at the other. The atmosphere behaves quite differently when the earth is warm to when it is cool. The pressure systems move at quite different latitudes along with the jet stream.

Accordingly, one cannot say that geomagnetic activity drives surface temperature. It contributes as one element of a complex matrix in a constantly changing climate system. Do the climate modelers realize this?

Figure 11

11 atmospheric pressure and aa index

Figure 12 is astonishing in its symmetry.  Prior to 1977 peak anomalies in 30hpa temperature at 80-90°S latitude occurred in April-May. After 1977 peak anomalies occur in October.  After 1977 October anomalies are as strongly positive as they were negative prior to 1977. This change relates directly to the warming of the southern oceans in southern winter-spring that is expressed in El Nino activity in the Pacific. But the Pacific is only one of the theatres of action in the global tropics. All theatres of action are affected by change in atmospheric pressure in Antarctica.

Figure 12

12 anomaly 30hPa 80-90s pre and post 1977

Figure 13 shows 30hpa temperature anomalies at 80-90°north in the Arctic. Again the symmetry is astonishing. Let there be no mistake. Here is evidence that the climate system is alternating between two very different modes of activity. One is a cooling mode and the other a warming mode. Temperature anomalies are positive only for a period of time, and they move to the  negative. When October anomalies are positive in Antarctica they are negative in the Arctic and vice versa.

Figure 13

13 anomaly 30hPa 80-90N pre and post

Consequences of the warming mode of 1977-2009 for the temperature in the ice cloud zone of the upper troposphere

Figure 14 shows the character of the warming mode that prevailed after 1977 in the northern upper troposphere at 200hPa. There is sufficient ozone at this level for temperature to be driven by vortex phenomena rather than surface phenomena.

In relation to the northern hemisphere: After 1977, at latitudes greater than 50° north, the upper troposphere warmed slightly in summer between June and November but is actually cooler during the winter months.  At low latitudes the troposphere is warmer all year but particularly so in northern winter. I hope some greenhouse theorists read this. Perhaps they can explain how the upper troposphere can warm when outgoing long wave radiation is at its annual minimum.

Figure 14

14 Change 200hPa N

Figure 15 illustrates the dramatic influence of the warm mode on temperature in the southern hemisphere upper troposphere. Strong warming occurs between 20° and 70° south latitude. Peak warming occurs about the time of the equinoxes when the coupling of the solar wind with the Earth’s atmosphere is strongest.

When the polar vortex stalls, it allows ozone levels to rise at high altitudes above the pole. A strong peak in 200hpa temperature occurs in September at 80-90° south latitude and this peak appears at mid latitudes within a month, testifying to the speedy rate of mixing of ozone into the upper troposphere at 200hpa.

Figure 15

15 anomaly 200hPa S

Surface temperature follows the lead of the stratosphere via change in ice cloud density

Figure 16 shows the relationship between the 20hpa temperature anomaly at 10° north to 10° south latitude on the one hand and  sea surface temperature in the in-feed zone in the south east Pacific near Chile on the other. The obvious way that the stratosphere and upper troposphere can affect surface temperature is via change in ice cloud density affecting the reflectivity of the atmosphere. An increase in temperature reduces ice cloud density allowing more radiation to reach the surface.

High amplitude variation in 20hPa temperature is seen between 1950 and 1976 when geomagnetic activity, stratospheric and surface temperature was depressed. This phenomenon might be interpreted this way: When stratospheric temperature is low due to low ozone content (high surface pressure at the pole and strong vortex) a small reduction in the inflow of nitrogen ions from the mesosphere can produce a large change in ozone and 20hpa temperature. The law of diminishing returns applies.  In periods where ozone levels are already high (low atmospheric pressure and collapsed vortex), the extent of change in 20hpa temperature from further collapse in the vortex is small.

After the year 2000 the flux in 20hpa temperature is large as it was during the cooling period prior to 1977.

Sea surface temperature in the south east Pacific follows 20hpa temperature with more fidelity and vigour after 1978 when change in southern hemisphere 200hpa temperature became the dominant mode of ENSO variation. Patently, the heating trend between 1977 and 2000 is due to a marked increase in the temperature of the ice cloud zone.

Figure 16

16 20hPa and SST

Figure 17 shows the relationship between 200 hPa (upper troposphere ice cloud zone) temperature and sea surface temperature at 40-50° north.

When the upper troposphere warms strongly, relative humidity must fall and the surface temperature response to high amplitude change in upper troposphere temperature then lacks coherence and vigour. Compare the cooling period after 1998 with the warming period ten years earlier. This observation suggests there is little increase in atmospheric moisture content as the troposphere warms. Moisture content, if it increases at all, lags the temperature increase. There is no amplifier here for a greenhouse effect.

Figure 17

17 200hPa 40-50N and SST

Figure 18 shows the increase in surface pressure that accompanies warming at 40-50° north latitude.  The increase in pressure relates to falling pressure at the poles and an increase in the temperature of the stratosphere as ozone content builds.

Figure 18

18 T and P at 40-50N

Figure 19 shows the repeating pattern of positive anomalies in 20hpa temperature in southern spring  at 70-90° south and the frequent symmetry in the rise in sea surface temperature at 40-50° north. The relationship between these two variables will never be absolutely deterministic because of the other influences that impinge. Firstly, there is the independent activity in the northern vortex as it becomes more or less active leading into northern winter. Secondly, the flux in high altitude specific humidity determines the response rate. Thirdly, the atmosphere is never homogeneous consisting as it does of a series of traveling pressure cells responding to forces that move them as a band either towards or away from the poles.

Repeating positive anomalies in southern spring is the essence of the change that occurred in the climate system after 1978. When these anomalies disappear, the earth will cool. This can only happen as the atmospheric shift away from Antarctica goes into reverse.

Figure 19

19 20hPa 70-90S SST 40-50N

There is great interest in the driver of sea surface temperature in the North Atlantic and the North Pacific. Enormous  store is put in the notion that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is capable of influencing global temperatures and potentially reversing the trend in global warming. However, the actual forces determining sea surface and global temperature lie in the upper atmosphere rather than in the oceans themselves. There is no mystery as to where warm water appears or does not appear. It is always at the surface and it is always dissipating into the atmosphere via evaporative transfer, surface contact and radiation. There is only one thing that can warm the surface of the sea on a large scale and that is solar radiation.

The temperature of the southern stratosphere increased much more than the northern stratosphere after 1977

In line with the dominance of the southern vortex in determining stratospheric temperature we would expect a strong increase in temperature in the high latitudes of the southern hemisphere over the period of study. Figure 20 shows a 12 month moving average of 30hpa temperature in selected latitude bands of the southern hemisphere. It is apparent that the last great rise in 30hpa temperature at 80-90° south occurred just prior to the climate shift of 1978. Can planetary wave theorists explain this warming of the stratosphere above Antarctica at this time?

What theory explains why the high latitudes of the southern hemisphere have warmed so strongly while in low latitudes the stratosphere has cooled? Changes in gas composition will not suffice. Planetary waves will not suffice.

As the atmosphere shifts to mid and low latitudes the zone of heaviest ozone concentration in the stratosphere moves a little further away from the earth. This produces cooling. There has been a continuous fall in 30hpa temperature at 0-10° south latitude over the period. This may be due in part to the reduction in outgoing long wave radiation as cooling via decompression has become more important close to the equator. But, between 20° and 40° south the cooling of the stratosphere is likely related to the local thickening of the atmosphere.

Figure 20

20 30hPa SH

Figure 21 shows that, as the atmosphere in the northern hemisphere has ‘thickened’, due to the atmospheric shift, 30hpa temperature has declined slightly at all latitudes. This has nothing to do with greenhouse gas activity in the troposphere. Greenhouse theorists who maintain that the stratosphere cools while the troposphere increases in temperature may care to comment on the rise in the temperature of the Arctic stratosphere between 1948 and 1978!

Figure 21

21 30hPa N H

Two climate modes

“Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. The sun is much too sultry and one must avoid its ultry violet rays”. Noel Coward 1932.

Perhaps Noel Coward’s observation is particularly pertinent in the southern hemispherewhere there is less ozone to absorb UVB. During the warming mode, protective ice crystals evaporate, allowing the surface to warm. Most of the warming activity post 1978 has been in the southern hemisphere in late winter and spring. This warming activity is plainly driven by shifts in atmospheric pressure affecting vortex activity.

The warming mode:

  1. There is a shift of the atmosphere from the poles towards mid and low latitudes under electromagnetic forcing of ionized air.
  2. Weakening of the polar vortexes curtails the flow of ionized nitrogen into the upper stratosphere allowing the survival of oxygen ions and increased ozone formation.
  3. Intermixing of ozone into the upper troposphere raises temperature in the ice cloud zone. Ice crystals evaporate.
  4. More solar radiation reaches the surface which warms.
  5. In the southern hemisphere 200hpa temperature rises much more than in the northern hemisphere exhibiting strong equinoctial maxima.
  6. Peak anomalies in stratospheric temperature occur in September-October rather than March.
  7. A southern spring deficit in ice cloud density promotes warming across all southern latitudes which promotes the El Nino pattern of sea surface warming at the equator.

The Cooling Mode

  1. Surface atmospheric pressure increases at the poles as the electromagnetic force in the ionosphere/thermosphere relaxes.  This happens at solar minimum as the quantum of ionizing radiation falls to its lowest levels. It also tends to happen at solar maximum as the suns magnetic polarity reverses and magnetic fields emanating from the sun tend to be self cancelling. The manifestation in the Pacific Ocean is La Nina cooling.
  2. Strengthening of the polar vortexes introduces ionized nitrogen into the stratosphere reducing the population of oxygen ions and ozone.
  3. A loss of ozone in the ice cloud zone reduces temperature enhancing the formation of reflective ice crystals.
  4. Less solar radiation reaches the surface which cools.
  5. A generally low ozone level in the stratosphere results in high amplitude change in stratospheric temperature during the ENSO cycle. This is expressed in high amplitude variation in 20hpa temperature at the equator. At the surface, the swing from El Nino warming to La Nina cooling is more violent and extreme.
  6. Change is more extreme in the southern hemisphere where the polar vortex is generally cooler especially at the highest altitudes. In the cool mode stratospheric temperature exhibits a March maximum probably in line with enhancement of orbital rather than geomagnetic influences on stratospheric temperature. The earth is closest to the sun in January.
  7. A cooler stratosphere and upper troposphere in southern spring promotes ice cloud formation reducing the flux of solar radiation to the surface establishing a La Nina dominant regime in the Pacific Ocean.

The pattern of change from the cool to the warm mode and back again is well expressed in figure 22 showing the pattern of change of the (Darwin –Tahiti) Southern Oscillation Index when compartmentalized according to solar cycle time intervals. A fall in this index represents warming. A dramatic fall in the index occurred about 1978. With the end of solar cycle 23 the globe is emerging from the strongest period of warming in the period of the instrumental record. The Southern Oscillation Index, based on barometric pressure, is not affected by the distortions present in the temperature record.

Figure 22

22 SOI

The smoking gun for natural climate variation is an increase in the temperature of the southern stratosphere and troposphere increasing with latitude all the way to the southern pole with a marked variation in southern hemisphere temperature in winter/spring between cool and warm episodes. This determines the strength of El Nino warming events across the tropics.

The smoking gun for greenhouse effects should be a generalized warming at all latitudes without any marked seasonal bias. If there were to be a seasonal bias it should be present as an increase in temperature above the norm when outgoing long wave radiation is maximal in the summer season. There should be no great difference between the hemispheres. That is far from what is actually observed. The evidence suggests that natural variation rather than anthropogenic influences drives climate change.

Conclusion

Between 1948 and 1976 the tropics and the globe as a whole was fairly stable in temperature with obvious cooling discernable in the decade prior to 1976. From 1977 through to 2000 the tropics and the globe warmed. By comparing data from the earlier period with that for the later period one can discern change in the atmosphere that resulted in more solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth causing it to warm.

Atmospheric conditions in the near earth environment are strongly influenced by the sun. The observed warming of the last decades of the twentieth century can be attributed to natural influences. There is no evidence of any warming signature due to the increased presence of so called ‘greenhouses gases’. It is suggested that the greenhouse hypothesis takes little cognizance of the manner in which the atmosphere actually functions. The atmosphere cools the planet but a change in its temperature causes a change in ice crystal density and the quantum of radiation reaching the surface.

Climatic models suggest that any greenhouse effect should be strongest in the tropical upper troposphere where water vapor is in higher concentration. In point of fact warming of the upper troposphere at the equator is less likely as the globe warms because the quantum of outgoing radiation diminishes as convection and de-compressive cooling is enhanced. It is in the subtropics that outgoing long wave radiation increases and in particular in the high pressure cells where the air is descending and warming and the sky tends to be cloud -free both in terms of liquid and ice crystal density.  A water vapor feedback mechanism would require an increase in specific humidity levels in these high pressure areas. The reverse is observed. If a greenhouse effect were present it would be unamplified and tiny. Any warming tendency in these areas is more likely to be due to a loss of ice cloud density than a greenhouse effect.

If the Earth enters a period of cooling, as it has since 1998, it suggests that the natural factor is pre-eminent. If there is a strong relationship between ice cloud density and surface temperature it confirms the point that moisture in the upper troposphere cools rather than warms the planet and the basis of the greenhouse feedback mechanism is negated. Without a water vapor amplifier a change in so called ‘greenhouse gas’ levels can have little or no effect upon surface temperature.

If we can rid ourselves of the foolish mantra that surface temperature is governed by so called greenhouse gas, much unnecessary pain can be avoided. We are threatened by zealous governments keen to interfere in markets, raise taxation and redistribute incomes. The absurd notion that carbon is a pollutant is daily promoted.  ‘Will of the wisp’ schemes to generate renewable energy burden the public purse. Nothing is to be gained by these stratagems. Innovation has its own rewards and investment in all forms of innovation is already well enough subsidized and feverishly exploited. Man needs no urging to innovate and will do so quite happily in the absence of artificially inflated monetary incentives. The introduction of market distorting incentives and disincentives destroys rather than creates wealth. This is the tool of the central planner, the social activist, the miscreant.

Distraction and absurdity are our unhappy lot, parading as morality and virtue. Snake oil salesmen multiply by the minute. These are unfortunate times.

There are none so blind as those who will not see. The authority of ‘Science’ and the United Nations organization has been subverted to the activists cause. This is a sorry time for mankind. It is a time when belief is substituted for science and the two are irretrievably tangled and confused.

DATA

The data used in this study can be downloaded from: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

As I understand it the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis project uses a computer model to cross check the validity of data from many sources with the aim of representing the surface and the atmosphere of the entire globe. Data for one atmospheric parameter is related to other parameters that vary together in a known fashion. When a temperature recording station shifts site there is a discontinuity in the data. The reanalysis project is designed to overcome this sort of problem. This dataset is particularly valuable for research on climate change.

The sea surface data from the NCEP/NCAR dataset exhibits much greater variability than other Sea surface temperature datasets. The NCEP/NCAR data reflects skin temperatures that respond rapidly to atmospheric change. Winter minima are lower while summer maxima are similar. Change is faster in the skin data with earlier seasonal maxima and minima.The NCEP /NCAR sea surface temperature data incorporates ice and land surface temperature at high latitudes.

I understand that satellite derived sea surface temperature data for areas beyond about 60° latitude requires an adjustment for the extent of floating ice. Some SST datasets do not extend to higher latitudes. Because the NCEP/NCAR dataset provides skin temperature it covers all latitudes.

Some sources of SST data relate more to a near surface rather than a skin temperature reflecting the origin of data in the measurement of water temperature from engine intake, bucket or floating buoy. This is not the case with the NCEP/NCAR dataset.

P.S. This piece was revised in May 2010. It was corrected via the inclusion of missing letters, minor improvements in expression, correction of an error in reporting the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere  and the elimination of a comment that was in poor taste.

Posted by: erl happ | October 4, 2009

A different view of ENSO and systematic climate change

El Nino and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO) seems to be perceived as a change in the state of the tropical oceans, the focus being on the ENSO 3.4 region in the Pacific.  It is thought that change in the Pacific feeds into temperature change elsewhere. The word ‘teleconnections’, is a mantra of climate science. It seems to be shorthand for “we know not how this happens but its regular’. There is also an opinion that ENSO change is temperature neutral on decadal and longer timescales.

I want to tip this perception of ENSO on its head. ENSO is the tropical manifestation of change in sea surface temperature that is most vigorous away from the equator. It is only when we look outside the 10°N to 10°S latitude band that we see the forces that create the phenomenon that we know as the El Nino Southern Oscillation.

A person unfamiliar with the way in which an automobile works might suggest that the turning of the wheels is responsible, via the ‘transmission’, for the up and down motion of the pistons. This is the case while the fuel supply is cut off but not so during acceleration. I assert that ‘wheels moving pistons’ is the mindset in relation to ENSO.

The end point of this essay is a realization that ENSO is not a tropical phenomenon at all. It is a driven by conditions at the poles, particularly Antarctica, and ultimately by the interaction between the mesosphere and the stratosphere.

All data is obtained from the very useful NCEP/NCAR reanalysis that is referenced as: Kalnay, E. and Coauthors, 1996: The NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis 40-year Project. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 77, 437-471. Thus data is available at http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

In this work the average monthly temperature between January 1948 and August 2009 is computed. The difference between that average and the actual figure for each month is then obtained. That difference is referred to as an ‘anomaly’. What is shown here is therefore de-seasonalised data. It is de-seasonalised only in the sense that the method identifies change from the average for the entire period of record for this dataset. The anomaly thus calculated is occasionally presented as a five month running mean centred on the third month and this statistic is shown in the graphs as ‘5MMA’. This average is computed rather than relying on the function in Excel so as to preserve the integrity of the time axis. The figure is centred on the third month.

Sea surface temperature depends upon the stratosphere

Figure 1 shows the five month moving average of 20hPa temperature over Antarctica (in maroon) driving sea surface temperature (henceforth SST) in the Arctic (in blue). Relatively large changes in 20hpa temperature drive relatively large changes in sea surface temperature. Temperature in the stratosphere clearly leads the temperature at the sea surface. The lag is variable but it is of the order of a month or two and sometimes longer. The peak in 20hpa temperature occurs between September and November. I have confidence  in asserting a strong causal relationship here. The mechanics of that causal relationship will be discussed later.

Fig 1

1

Figure 2 shows the five month moving average of 20hpa temperature in the Arctic stratosphere (in red) driving sea surface temperature in the 20-30°S latitude band (in blue). Here, smaller changes in 20hpa temperature drive minor changes in sea surface temperature with a range of about 1°C in the five month moving average (more on a monthly basis). The rhythm is not as regular, well defined or as consistent as in figure 1. There are good reasons for this that will become apparent. Clearly, the upper turning points in stratospheric temperature lead the upper turning points in sea surface temperature. Peaks in 20hpa temperature in the Arctic stratosphere occur between February and March. Occasionally a peak in 20hpa temperature occurs in mid year as in 1994, 1997, 2004 and 2006. This is likely an effect of the southern vortex which varies in strength in mid winter.

Fig 2

2


The questions that arise include: By what mechanism does the stratosphere drive surface temperature? If the Antarctic stratosphere drives Arctic sea surface temperature why does the Arctic stratosphere not drive SST in the Antarctic? What drives stratospheric temperature over the poles? Does change in temperature at the poles regulate the temperature of the stratosphere at lower latitudes. If so, how does this affect the flux of stratospheric and sea surface temperature at different latitudes?

First, let’s look at the way surface temperature varies at different latitudes. In the graphs that follow the vertical scale is the same in both hemispheres. The Northern hemisphere appears first and the same latitudes of the Southern hemisphere appear immediately below.

Fig 3

3

Fig 4

4

Comparing figures 3 and 4:

Marked SST increase occurred early in the period (1994 through to 1997) in both hemispheres. This generated the warmth for the El Nino of 1997-8. The ocean does not care where the warming occurs.

In general, the more sustained and bulky increases in SST over the widest latitude band occurred in the southern hemisphere in mid year.

The higher the latitude, the more extreme is the temperature fluctuation.

Fig 5

5

Fig 6

6


Comparing figures 5 and 6:

SST shows much more flux in the mid latitudes of the northern hemisphere than the southern.

Warm anomalies occur in December to January (winter) in the northern hemisphere.

In the southern hemisphere warm anomalies predominantly occur early in the year (summer) but the anomaly peak is later (during winter) at higher southern latitudes. The mid latitudes of the southern hemisphere are a transition point where a weak northern vortex competes with a strong and more persistent southern vortex in regulating stratospheric and sea surface temperature.

Fig 7

7

Fig 8

8

Comparing figures 7 and 8:

The most defined and seemingly erratic fluctuations (matching the pattern that prevails at higher latitudes) occur away from the equator at 20-30° latitude (in black)

The fluctuation of SST between equator and 10° south latitude is frequently out of sync with other southern latitudes occasionally peaking prior to year end like the SST of the northern tropics. This is likely due to the mixing of northern and southern waters.

The peaks of SST variation at the equator are much broader, rather amorphous and less well defined than at higher latitudes.

The equatorial fluctuation is atypical of other latitudes and is not a fair indication of the degree of warming of the sea globally.

Looking at the SST data as a whole

The most extreme variations in SST are at higher latitudes.

In mid latitudes the northern hemisphere shows much heavier fluctuations than the southern. The effect of the Arctic vortex on SST appears to be much diminished beyond about 30S latitude but these high latitude southern waters vary in temperature more than anywhere else on the globe. The variation here is in the middle of winter.

The seas in the two hemispheres experience peak warming activity at different times but these times are fairly consistent from year to year.

The only way in which the sea can warm simultaneously at all latitudes within a hemisphere is via a loss of cloud cover.

There is a unifying force dictating the pattern of sea surface temperature increase and this is the force that regulates stratospheric temperature.

What are these anomalies telling us about natural climate cycles?

The figure below shows the march of raw sea surface temperature in near equatorial latitudes. The strongest peak is in February-April while a secondary peak shows up in September to November in northern waters. A February-April peak is in the middle of the time of peak anomalies in SST in the Southern Hemisphere. The anomaly will be earlier if driven by the northern stratosphere and later if it is driven by the Antarctic stratosphere.

The secondary peak that shows up in September-November in the northern tropics is driven in part by the global reduction in cloud cover in northern summer and secondary effects from the state of the Antarctic (winter) vortex that shows strongly positive anomalies between September and December in the entire period after 1978.

The movement of southern water temperature prior to the strong El Nino of 1997-1998 shows how an expansive southern ocean can warm equatorial waters while the contribution from the restricted volume of northern hemisphere waters is relatively minor.

Fig 9 Sea surface temperature in close equatorial waters. Raw data.

9

There is no other force than the sun that will warm the oceans in such an expansive fashion on this relatively rhythmic schedule. There is no chaos in this system. There is order and regulation. The largest sea surface temperature responses are at higher latitudes and the smallest responses are at low latitudes. This mirrors the pattern of temperature variation in the stratosphere.

What we witness in the period 1994-2009 is a simple amplification of the normal pattern of seasonal warming due to an amplification of stratospheric temperature.

Does change in temperature at the poles affect the stratosphere at lower latitudes and how does this affect the flux of temperature at different latitudes?

It is at the highest latitudes that 20hpa temperature fluctuates to the greatest extent. Figure 10 shows the primacy of stratospheric temperature change at the poles in relation to that at the equator. Vertical blue lines show precedence for polar temperature fluctuations. In the mixing process between poles and equator, ozone content and temperature fluctuations are damped. A further, little understood process tends to produce the quasi-biennial oscillation in ozone content, temperature and stratospheric wind that is apparent at 10°N to 10°S. In low latitudes the influx of moisture from overshooting convection erodes ozone because ozone is soluble in water. A further factor influencing conditions in the tropical stratosphere is the enigma of a rise in surface pressure at the equator during SST warming events accompanied by falling temperature at the highest levels of the equatorial stratosphere and a fall in surface pressure at the poles, the subject of my next post.

The unifying force that controls sea surface temperature is the changing concentration of ozone in the upper atmosphere. Change in ozone is a polar phenomenon because that is where the exchange with the mesosphere predominantly occurs.

Adding the anomaly of 20hPa temperature for the north and south accounts for a push pull relationship between the vortexes. Notice the decline in the summed anomalies from 1960 to 1976, a period when the seas cooled.

Fig 10

10

The question remains: Why does SST follow the temperature of the stratosphere.

This is a subject for speculation. My guess is that ice cloud in the atmosphere above 200hpa (where there is sufficient ozone and the rise and fall in temperature is consequently several times that at the surface), simply varies with temperature. As the upper air warms, relative humidity falls, less water is condensed as ice and consequently more sunlight gets through the atmosphere to reach the surface of the absorbing sea. It is the winter hemisphere vortex that determines the flux in ozone in the global stratosphere. It is in the summer hemisphere that the sun is shining on high latitudes.The relative weakness of the northern vortex vis a vis the southern means that it’s influence is weak beyond 30°S latitude. Between 30S latitude and Antarctica the southern vortex determines the issue.

It will not be easy to verify this hypothesis because the change in ice cloud density in the atmosphere above 200hpa is light and the change tiny.

Why bother? Why is it important to know how it works?

Fig 11

11

The Antarctic vortex exhibits the greatest change over the period of record. The origin of the climate shift of 1978 is apparent in figure 11. The greater change is at 10hpa  indicating the influence of the mesosphere. The warming of the sea between 1978 and 2003 is wholly explicable. The sea warmed because the Antarctic stratosphere warmed. The documented cooling of the sea after 2003 has occurred because the Antarctic stratosphere began to cool about 2003.

In my next post I will look at inverse relationships between atmospheric pressure at the poles and the equator confirming that change in vortex strength lies behind the change in ozone and air temperature above the poles rather than the prevailing idea of ‘planetary waves’ generated by change in SST at the equator and the increase in convection that results from that. The latter is another instance where the wheels are seen to be causing the pistons to move up and down.

The warming and cooling of the globe is due to influences that have been in operation long before the industrial revolution and the burning of fossil fuels. The atmosphere is not capable of retaining warmth like a greenhouse. It is a very efficient vent for surface warmth. It should be compared to a collection of chimneys. Those who disagree with this assessment need to have a closer look at how the atmosphere functions.

A different view of ENSO and systematic climate change

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