The basic problem in climate science, and its indeed a very basic problem, is an inability to differentiate between cause and effect. Its the old problem of the chicken and the egg.
Letting the mathematicians into the act is the source of the difficulty. They see their responsibility as bringing their equations to bear. Cause and effect is ignored. Correlation is sufficient. Attribution is someone else’s problem. The guys who were concerned with attribution were pensioned off long ago. Now we have robots looking after the show. Using models. Recipe for disaster.
In determining cause and effect one needs to have a focus on observation first and foremost.
The modes of change are discernable in reanalysis data. It takes effort to examine what has happened at fifteen pressure levels in the atmosphere in all eighteen 10° latitude bands from pole to pole.
We now have 74 years of reliable data. Its necessarily based on interpolation from sparse sampling but simple physical principles that are well understood govern the behaviour of gases. See the data source here.
The answers are in the data. It’s not rocket science.
First, discard the notion that CO2 might be relevant. The Southern Hemisphere has not warmed for three decades in December and January.
Second, discard the notion that weather and climate, the winds and the currents are driven by the energy that is acquired in the tropics.
Throw out fluid dynamics.
The climate system is energized by what is described as ‘extratropical cyclones’. The name in itself is discouragement, because it leads people to believe that the tropical cyclone is the more important phenomenon. Better to call it a ‘polar cyclone’. Wind intensity is the same as for a tropical cyclone but the area affected is 100 times as large. It’s genesis is not at the surface but at jet stream levels. If he were alive today, Bjerknes would improve his analysis of polar front phenomena because he would have access to Reanalysis data. He would also improve his understanding of ENSO. Tragically, we are still stuck with Brjerknes idea of what ENSO is, that is not much of an advance of Walker.
These polar lows tend to aggregate and become more severe at solar minimum. The most severe solar minimum is possibly seen on 200 year time scales.
Observe that the atmosphere moves in the same direction as the Earth, but faster, and fastest at the winter pole. The solar wind is least disturbed and most consistent in its magnetic signature at solar minimum. It’s impact on the atmosphere depends on electromagnetic phenomena. The atmosphere will be more reactive when it is most ionized, more particles orienting themselves according to the magnetic field because and behaving like little magnets zipping along the lines of magnetic force and bumping the neutrals along with them. The atmosphere is most ionized at solar minimum because cosmic rays impacting the atmosphere are most intense when sunspot activity is least. So there are more particles acting as little magnets. Doing the shoving. Add to that the fact that UVB and UVC is least intense at solar minimum, the atmosphere is least inflated, more dense in neutrals where it is most ionized. Ozone is not neutral and it is least affected by short wave radiation at solar minimum. It is a superb absorber of the Earths long wave radiation that is available 24/7/365 and its partial pressure is greatest in the winter hemisphere. The ability of ozone to impart kinetic energy to nitrogen and oxygen is a function of the density of the atmosphere. At least two thirds of the depth of the atmospheric column at 50-70° of latitude, the most elevated two thirds of the column, has sufficient ozone to dramatically affect its temperature and density in winter. So, in these high latitudes a map of total column ozone is also a map of surface pressure.
The polar cyclone originates where the air density gradient is steepest. That’s where subtropical air is confronted by very cold air descending over the Antarctic continent to jet stream altitudes and below, according to the flux in surface pressure over the continent that hits its maximum in winter. The evolution of surface pressure over the Antarctic continent, very important to the temperature of the air that sweeps up in a south westerly flow after the passage of a low pressure system because surface pressure is higher over the Antarctic Continent than anywhere else on the globe, has been a one way affair over the last 74 years, down, down down. Snow in Brazil. A wet Australia in 2021. Very cold winter. Windy all the time. Roofs coming off. Water in the streets. People driven inside and infecting each other with Covid. Get some Ivermectin now. See here. In the absence of the tablets usually prescribed for humans get Cattlemax.
Polar cyclones involve the entirely of the atmospheric column. There is no troposphere in high latitudes in winter. The elevation of ozone in little spirals of disturbed air is observable at 10 hPa over the Arctic even in the height of summer. See nullschool here. What goes up must come down. When it descends into the upper half of the troposphere in the mid latitudes it drives the comings and goings of ice cloud, the stuff that is ‘stratified’, indicating the direction of flow of the upper air.
As polar cyclones intensify in high latitudes atmospheric mass is shifted from their zone of activity to essentially reactive centers of descending air (non initiating) that develop over the oceans where the cold surface favours descent. As surface pressure is driven down in the latitudes where polar cyclones originate they tend to aggregate into bigger systems that necessarily spread into the mid latitudes invading the latitudes normally occupied by high pressure cells of descending air. In these latitudes, in winter, in the southern hemisphere, like right now there is a succession of intense lows and highs and the winter gets very cold, like now, and the higher the latitude, the relatively the colder it gets because the ratio of cold to warm increases. Currently the sea to the south west of W. Australia is up to 2.5° cooler than normal. Observe the air flow from Antarctica here.
The Aleutian Low doesn’t develop particularly low surface pressures but it exhibits the widest fluctuation in surface pressure. It shifts to the stratosphere in summer and there is little to show for its activity in surface pressure data until conditions favour its genesis, like now for instance, August 2021. It fluctuates so much that it impacts the pressure regime in the Antarctic trough and over the Antarctic continent. Its evolution governs the pressure differential across the Pacific Ocean, the trade winds and upwelling phenomena that are the essence of ENSO. It does that by shifting atmospheric mass towards the southern hemisphere in a heroic fashion between September and March directly impacting the difference in surface pressure between the Chilean high in the east and the Maritime continent to the north of Australia in the east…..ie the trade winds and the upwelling phenomenon that brings cold water to the surface not only in the Galapagos islands but globally, wherever there is a difference in the density of water and wind stress.
The upshot is that surface temperature very much depends on surface pressure dynamics that is driven by the polar lows.
All the diagrams below present data from a same archive, that can be found here.
In short, ‘decarbonization’ is unnecessary, economically harmful and socially destructive. It will do nothing for ‘the climate’ because the modes of variation in climate have nothing to do with carbon dioxide.
At issue is the question of what determines the surface temperature on planet Earth.
Understanding the waxing and waning of the mid latitude high pressure cells that traverse the southern hemisphere at 20-40° South latitude, is key to understanding the evolution of climate. These cells dominate the ocean. The ocean dominates the Southern Hemisphere. As the cells strengthen, cloud cover falls away and the surface of the sea warms. The relationship is loose in April but improves as the year goes on, being acceptably impressive between September and December as global cloud cover moves towards its annual peak in December. By February, although the relationship still holds in the long term its a bit irregular on a monthly basis. Anyone with the slightest gift for pattern recognition will see that this correlation between surface pressure and sea surface temperature is more impressive than the relationship between CO2 and temperature. CO2 is not the control knob. Let’s talk about the real control knobs. Let’s get the required understandings into the hands of teachers and students for the good of humanity. What is currently happening in schools and in the media is deplorable, nay ‘inhumane’.
If you are a swimmer, you will be aware that in a quiet day, the water in the shallows and near the surface is always much warmer than the water out in the deep. Deep water that experiences the full force of the suns radiation warms almost imperceptibly. That’s because the benefit of the energy from the sun is absorbed throughout the zone that is illuminated. The ocean, unlike the land, is transparent.
The solar energy acquired by the ocean is retained for many months, perhaps years, whereas the land, being opaque loses the energy that it acquires within the twenty four hour cycle. There is little or no residual when the sun rises next morning.
The atmosphere, regardless of its composition is thin, radiative, convective and incapable of storing energy. If you think otherwise drill a hole in your vacuum flask and see how long it maintains the temperature of the fluid inside. Replace the air with carbon dioxide and see if it makes any difference. No gas is any better or worse and that’s why we use a vacuum and we call the device, a ‘vacuum flask’. And when the air gets in, the device is useless. A gas is actually the worst of possible choices if you want to keep the heat in, unless its kept completely immobile, as in a blanket. And no gas is any better than any other.
The agent of change in surface pressure at 20-40° South Latitude, is in the first instance the low pressure trough that surrounds the Antarctic Continent. Secondly there is the Aleutian Low and finally the Icelandic low, all located in high latitudes and all most energetic in winter. When the lows generate lower in barometric pressure, surface pressure rises elsewhere including at the equator. Pressure rises unequally because cool parts favour settlement while warm surfaces favour ascent. This changes the wind direction and the distribution of cloud and sunlight.
It is frequently asserted that the energy that drives the planetary winds is sourced in the tropics. That’s unphysical. Palpably, it’s the energy that drives the low pressure systems in high latitudes that is responsible for every twist and turn in weather and climate. A polar low has the same central pressure as a tropical cyclone but covers an area about ten times as large, develops in the interaction zone between the troposphere and the stratosphere, propagates to the surface like a vacuum cleaner and and convects air from the surface of the planet all the way to 50km in elevation.
In a high pressure cell, the air descends. It is warming under increasing compression, and is accordingly cloud free. The volume of air that is involved in the descent increases as the surface pressure increases, but more importantly, the area so affected increases, as the surface pressure increases. As afore mentioned, the volume of air that is descending depends on the activity of polar cyclones in the Antarctic trough, the Aleutian and the Icelandic lows. As atmospheric pressure falls in the lows, it increases in the highs.
Relating to Australia in particular, a high pressure cell that lodges in the Great Australian Bight in summer delivers dry, hot summer conditions because it prevents the inflow of cooler southerly air that occurs in the margin between high pressure cells as they move eastwards. When a large cell lodges in the Bight, or in the Tasman Sea the flow of air over the Australian continent is persistently east to west, hot and dry, with the possible exception of the north of Queensland. We must take cognizance of the everyday observation that the temperature of the air depends on where it comes from. Furthermore, because surface pressure changes over time so does the origin of the wind. The Earth is made up of warm to hot locations, generally favoured for human settlement, and inhospitably frigid locations like Antarctica and southern Chile, where, unlike Alaska and the Scandinavian countries, summer temperatures rise above freezing point for only a couple of months in the year.
But if there is a high pressure cell overhead the days will be sunny. You can rely in it.
So called greenhouse gases, and supposed back radiation, can not account for the patterns of change in climate that are observed by the month, by the region, from decade to decade and over centennial time scales. Those who assert that proposition disrespect the data. Their point of view is based on ignorance, superstition, hearsay and an unfortunate personal predilection to think the worst of their fellow man and read into every sort of change, confirmation that their dystopian diagnosis is correct. This is not a new problem. It’s just got way out of hand. Actually, it’s now being used as a means of social control, a distraction from concerns that could be embarrassing . It’s the old story, ‘give me your money’. Or, focus on the enemy without….. following up with ‘Hey, the problem is actually YOU’. Wow, your conscience cuts in. Give me your money and I’ll fix it for you.
Weather and climate have particular, distinctive modes of variation. It is these modes of variation that must be apprehended and secondly explained and understood. One can’t do that without examining the data. Theory and speculation will never suffice. A true scientist respects the data. The pretending type just run away. Most of those that I observe, including the bulk of academia, have their heads in a cloud of speculative theory. Radiative theory has been stretched to a conclusion that it is incapable of supporting. It’s part of the story but not the important part. No-where is it determinative.
See above. The relationship between surface pressure in the Antarctic trough and surface pressure in the mid latitudes is indicative of the relationship between lows and highs. We must understand the consequences of this to understand weather and climate.
When there there is a shift of atmospheric mass from high southern latitudes, about a third of the surface area of the globe, gives, yields, transfers, pushes, atmospheric mass to the other two thirds. The part that loses atmospheric mass in the Southern Hemisphere is located from about thirty five degrees of latitude to the Antarctic pole. The area affected is massive and the volume of air involved more than significant. Furthermore, because the shifting process involves convection to the upper limits of the atmosphere, the balancing settlement involves the stratosphere and troposphere, in favour of high pressure cells everywhere.
In Southern Summer, the Aleutian Low of the northern Hemisphere is a powerful shifter of atmospheric mass to the highs of the Southern Hemisphere and to the High over Siberia and Tibet, accentuating the outflow of the East and South Asian winter monsoon. Paradoxically, if the Aleutian Low is not available as a ‘sink’, a cold flow from the Arctic can bring a chill to Florida and New Orleans. But so far as the Earths energy budget is concerned, the shift that matters most is to the high pressure cells that lie over the Ocean in the Southern Hemisphere. That is the shift that is critical to cloud cover and the Earths energy budget.
Indian culture dictates that the birthday person gives presents to friends and acquaintances on his/her birthday. What a lovely way to celebrate the fortunate accident of life. This is a similar situation. The Lows give to the Highs and the benefit is an increase in sunshine at the surface. The Antarctic is dominant in setting the pattern of centennial change. The Aleutian is dominant in the Northern Hemisphere but lets the Icelandic trough run a sideshow in the Atlantic Ocean where it gives to the Azores High. These systems ‘have a go’ in winter, and work with one hand tied behind their back in summer. They shift atmospheric mass to seasonally weakened lows in the summer hemisphere, impairing their function (one hand already tied behind the back). This is all part of the rich texture that determines where the wind comes from and how much cloud there will be. Ninety percent of the mass of the atmosphere lies within 15 km of the surface. The thickness of the atmosphere should be compared to the cover that a person has were they to emerge from their bedroom wearing just a skin of paint. Just one coat please, and make it thin. That should keep me warm enough!
One needs to be aware that the Earth system is not a closed system. We know this because all these lows can lose atmospheric mass at the same time. They can improve their performance progressively over a period of one hundred years.
The change that is documented in the figure immediately above, is oscillatory in the short term, a matter of four or five years, in tune with ENSO, but oscillatory too on centennial and longer time scales. The figure documents the change over just 74.5 years. That’s all the data that we have. But, we know this process is reversible because the change directly affects the the strength of the North Westerly winds of the Southern Hemisphere.
Co-lead author, palaeo-climate scientist Dr. Krystyna Saunders from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and the University of Bern says:
“This is an important discovery. Our new records of the Southern Hemisphere westerly winds suggest there have been large changes in wind intensity over the past 12,000 years. This is in marked contrast to climate model simulations that show only relatively small wind speed changes over the same period.”
Co-lead author, palaeo-climate scientist Dr. Steve Roberts from British Antarctic Survey says:
“We have now developed a new method for measuring winds from lake sediments on remote sub-Antarctic islands. These are the only land masses, except for South America where you can collect these data.”
‘Climate model simulations show only relatively small wind speed changes‘
There you have it. Useless, Out of touch with reality. Worthless. Disrespecting the data.
The diagram above shows climate model forecasts for the evolution of temperature in the Pacific Ocean as of June 2021. Take your pick. Back your horse. When it comes to the nitty gritty of forecasting what is to happen in the last half of this year, despite all the courses, all the training, all the seminars and correspondence, all the government funding of millions of experts in all the dedicated institutions, despite decades of effort, all over the world, and the technology at our command, there is no agreement.
Plainly, pretend as they may, these experts can’t agree. Are any of them right? Are all of them wrong?
Atmospheric albedo is due to particles that reflect visible wave lengths in the spectrum of light emitted by the Sun. This reduces the light that reaches the surface of the planet. Reflection in the atmosphere is due to cloud, and my gut feeling is that the strongest variability will be in the cloud that is in the form of multi branching crystals of ice that create a large surface area in relation to their mass. With a lapse rate of 6.5°C per kilometer, the elevation required to form ice cloud is no more than 3 km over the bulk of the planet and 5 km at the equator. Much ice cloud is seen to be stratified due to localized cooling at a high altitude. With 90% of the atmosphere below 10 km in elevation and ice cloud extending into the stratosphere, its obvious that albedo due to variation in ice cloud density might play a very important part in determining surface temperature. Orthodox climate science tells us that this cloud warms the surface by back radiation. I think differently. The higher the elevation of the cloud the more its density will vary according to the ozone and H2O content of the particular layer involved. And this type of cloud is always layered. It is estimated that about 90% of the albedo of the Earth is due to cloud. Surface features don’t get to play a big role due to the ubiquity of cloud. The question is, which sort of cloud plays what role.
Using satellite instruments that intercept light that is reflected, it has been possible, for more than twenty years, to document atmospheric albedo and chart its variation. So far as I am aware nobody has thought to juxtapose that data with surface temperature. Why? Because of the almost universal assumption that the temperature at the surface is determined by back radiation from the atmosphere, including from cloud, with ice cloud at a high altitude presumed to be partly responsible.
Albedo is measured as the proportion of solar radiation that is reflected towards space with no change in wave length. As we see above, there is a seasonal cycle.
Albedo is at its minimum in August and it peaks in December. The secondary hump in albedo between April and August is explained by the increase in cloud associated with the South and East Asian Monsoon. Eastern China receives about 60% of its rainfall between May and August. The Indian Monsoon is frequently initiated on 1st June. So there should be no doubt that albedo varies with cloud cover.
The data indicates that, between 28% and 31% of solar radiation fails to reach the surface according to the time of the year, due to reflection by atmospheric constituents.
Consider the following argument. As we see above, the temperature of the Earth peaks in July-August. This is coincident with albedo at minimum. The July-August peak in temperature is due to the evaporation of cloud as the land masses of the northern hemisphere heat the atmosphere, driving the dew point down and maintaining more water vapour in its invisible, non reflective, gaseous form. On a regional scale land returns energy to the atmosphere tending to clear the sky during the daylight hours but allowing cloud to return in the late afternoon and evening. Vegetation supplies moisture to maintain cloud so that a fence separating cleared land from native vegetation is frequently observed to be also a dividing line for cloud. So, we know that the supply of moisture and the extent of back radiation from the land surfaces play a big role in determining the presence of cloud. Globally, tropical rain forests in the Congo and the Amazon and across the ‘Maritime Continent’ are the chief sources of atmospheric moisture measured as Total Precipitable Water.
Solar irradiance is 6% weaker in July than in January due to orbital considerations. Now get this! Paradoxically, the temperature of the globe peaks when solar irradiance is weakest. A 5.7% decline in albedo between January and July compensates for the 6% deficit in solar radiation and on top of that, delivers the thumping 2.5°C benefit by comparison with the southern hemisphere. Obviously, this is a feedback driven process that relates to the distribution of land and sea.
This paradox is instructive. Take away the cloud and surface temperature increases. Put the cloud back, and the temperature plummets. Adding the cloud back negatively impacts the Southern Hemisphere in its summer giving rise to cooler temperatures at every latitude than is experienced in the same latitude in the northern hemisphere. The notion that cloud warms the surface via back radiation that is incorporated into the mathematical equations that constitute climate models is erroneous. Cloud normally comes in warm moist air from the equator. Perhaps that is the source of this error.
Over the sea, radiation goes straight into the receipts ledger of Earths energy budget because the sea is transparent. Radiation that falls on land tends to be returned to space with expedition. That is what a comparison of the temperature of the Northern versus the Southern Hemisphere demonstrates.
Its important to realise that any variation in albedo over the land starved Southern Hemisphere that occurs between July and April will be critical to the Earths energy budget.
We need to know what lies behind the variation in albedo including an answer to the ‘where and ‘why’ questions. We can begin with a study of variability by month of year.
The diagrams below are a simple method of assessing the nature of variability in albedo according to the month of the year.
Patently the variation in albedo is a cyclical phenomenon and we have to look for a mechanism to explain it. If we can not explain it and account for it properly we have no business attributing climate change to the works of man. or anything else for that matter.
The interpretation delivered below is based on the reality that the atmosphere of the Earth is in part ionized, especially so in winter and at solar minimum due to the impact of intergalactic cosmic rays. The atmosphere exists in a magnetic field that extends into Space that we call the Magnetosphere. The Earths magnetic field couples to the interplanetary magnetic field to the greatest extent in March and September when the axis of the Earths rotation is at right angles to the plane of it’s orbit.
First see diagram 3. Notice that the pattern in September is a mirror image of that in March. Its hard to make any sense of what’s happening as the Antarctic begins to dominate the evolution of the planetary winds, via its determination of the evolution of surface pressure, between April and August.
Close inspection reveals that the whole of period variation of albedo in October is greater than any other month. In figure 1 we see that the data for October is a mirror image of that in January.
September shifts the August pattern towards what it will become in October. In other words, October magnifies and exaggerates the nature of the variation in albedo that is initiated in September. In November and December, the October pattern is maintained but softened.
November is a very important month for climate. It is in November that the changeover occurs between the Antarctic and the Arctic in the phenomenon known as the final stratospheric warming. The high altitude circulation over the Antarctic changes from descent to ascent with a 180° swing in rotation from ‘west to east’, to ‘east to west’ with the summer rotation a pale version, in terms of the energy involved, of that in winter. With a cessation of descent associated with a fall in polar surface pressure, the temperature of the stratosphere warms to the point where, over Antarctica, it is commonly 20°C warmer at the stratopause than at the equator where the pressure of ionization is most severe. Patently, it is not ionization by solar energy that heats the stratosphere, it the absorption in the infrared by ozone. There is a less exaggerated variation of albedo in November. But, the pattern of variation in November is still like that in September. November albedo is a regular 9-10% increase on that in September. The Earth system is throwing up a cloud umbrella as the Earth gets closer to the sun and solar irradiance gets stronger.
The variation in January is a mirror image of that in December and the January pattern persists into February. The pattern in March is different to that in February, sometimes opposed. However, the disturbance seems to be temporary because the pattern in April reverts to the January-February type.
In September the organizing principle transitions to the form that persists between October and December.
March and September, the months where the Earths atmosphere couples most effectively with the Interplanetary magnetic field are diametrically opposed. It’s as if the atmosphere gets a jerk that temporarily disturbs its habits. The reversion from Arctic to Antarctic control of the global atmospheric circulation occurs in late March, muddying the impact of the coupling of the atmosphere with the interplanetary magnetic field at that time. The ionization of the Arctic atmosphere peaks in January rather than in March. In contrast, the September coupling occurs at a time of strong ionization, and a peak in ozone partial pressure. Ozone is not neutral, electrically speaking. The critical thing to remember is that, via this process the atmosphere is set up to rotate like an electric motor.
There has been a steep recovery in Albedo since 2019 in the months from September through to December. It’s plain that there is an organizing principle that lies behind the variability in albedo and it is very likely to be the response of the atmosphere to the interplanetary magnetic field. Just consider this. The atmosphere rotates in the same direction as the Earth, but faster. Those who are interested in this phenomenon talk about atmospheric angular momentum and a variation in ‘time of day’ that appears to correlate with changes in the planetary winds.
The connection with surface pressure
The flux of surface pressure in high latitudes. directly determines pressure in the mid latitudes in a manner described as the ‘Annular Modes’ phenomenon. Along the equator any increase in surface pressure in the south east of the Pacific Ocean is associated with a fall in temperature as cold water either upwells to the surface along the South American coast or upwells and is is transported westwards along the equator. Where waters are not affected by the mixing of cold with warm or warm with cold, surface temperature varies directly with surface pressure. Along the equator surface temperature rises as atmospheric pressure falls. Under a high pressure cell where the waters are not affected by mixing processes, as the surface pressure rises, so does the temperature of the water, due to a reduction in cloud albedo, exactly the opposite to what occurs at the equator. When this occurs over land, as in the northern hemisphere in summer the impact on surface temperature is immediate and strong. Over the sea, the impact is slight because the ocean absorbs energy to depth.
On a month by month basis surface pressure in the mid latitude high pressure cells of the southern hemisphere depends on pressure in the Aleutian Low and the Icelandic Low. When these cells are are active atmospheric mass accumulates in the high pressure cells of the mid latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere, especially that in the South East Pacific adjacent to Chile. Whereas the Antarctic trough is the background driver of surface pressure across the globe, the vigour of the Aleutian Low has a surprisingly generous impact on the high latitudes of the southern hemisphere between January and March. This directly impacts the ENSO phenomenon via a strengthening of the Trades.
Pressure is normally high in the southern high pressure cells in winter due to the pronounced heating of the northern hemisphere and enhanced polar cyclone activity in the Antarctic trough. This creates a wide zone in the mid latitudes where cloud albedo is naturally low. A strong Aleutian trough delivers strengthening trade winds in the Southern Hemisphere via a boost to the high surface pressure in the Chilean High. The loss of cloud albedo as these high pressure systems expand in surface area, creates a situation where temperature in the mid latitudes increases as it falls across the equator. The enhanced pressure differential between the Chilean High and the Maritime Continent, traditionally monitored by observing an increase in surface pressure in Tahiti against a relatively static pressure in Darwin drives the cooling along the equator. Paradoxically, La Nina is associated with almost invisible additions to the receipts ledger of the Earths energy budget, under the high pressure cells of the Southern Ocean, that is add odds with the evolution of tropical and global surface temperature.
In this way, the Southern Hemisphere is set up to either receive or to reject solar radiation as cloud cover is rapidly growing after the August minimum through to the December maximum. The Southern Hemisphere is mostly ocean and is known to transport energy to the northern Hemisphere, via the diversion of tropical waters northwards due to the arrangement of the land masses.
The diagram below indicates very little change in surface temperature in the southern hemisphere in December when the northern hemisphere is at its coldest and global albedo peaks. The consistent warmth of northern summer in the highest northern latitudes, is due to the invariable surface area of the continents that are responsible for reduction in albedo in mid year. But it is the Southern Hemisphere, picking up energy as the northern hemisphere cools in the last half of the year. that provides the warmth that lengthens the growing season in the northern hemisphere by elongating Summer and Autumn and rendering northern winter warmer than it otherwise would be. The ocean currents that provide this benefit are well known but the source of their variability has long been a matter of speculation.
It’s important to realize that this is a reversible process. Its entirely possible that an increase in albedo affecting the mid latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere will cut off the flow of energy from the southern to the northern hemisphere. Unless there is warming in Southern Hemisphere winter the Northern Hemisphere will see its supply of energy from the south cut off. The gain in temperature seen above, should not be taken for granted. It will not necessarily continue.
Polar regions have lost atmospheric mass over the last seven decades, piling it up most strongly in the mid latitudes. This is assisted by increased convection at the equator. Nothing that is inherent in the Earth system, defined to exclude the influence of the Interplanetary magnetic field, can explain this. The increase in pressure in the mid latitudes affects the differential pressure that drives the South East Trade winds initiated from May through to December and either building or falling away in Arctic winter according to the activity in the Aleutian Trough.
The differential pressure driving the North Westerly winds of the Southern Hemisphere is superior to that driving the Trades and has been increasing apace, over the last seventy years. The differential pressure driving the Westerlies peaks in the middle of winter as surface pressure is enhanced in the mid latitudes against a relatively invariable Circumpolar Antarctic Trough that maintains a resounding planetary low in surface pressure all year round. The increase in surface pressure in the mid latitudes opens an atmospheric window according to the area that exhibits high surface pressure and relatively clear skies. The Trades and the Westerlies come from the same source, the share going to east is unstable a possible subject for another post.
The initiator of variation in ENSO is the high latitude troughs in surface pressure in both hemispheres especially attached to the vigour of the Aleutian trough from October onwards through Southern Hemisphere summer. ENSO is not albedo neutral but the change occurs, not at the equator, but in the mid latitudes.
The movement on the center of convection across the Pacific is a consequence of an increase in the temperature of waters in the East of the Pacific ocean and of no great significance in itself. This is a booster rather than an initiator of the ENSO event. There is little variation in albedo attached to the movement in the centre of convection. The process is started and driven from high latitudes, background condition determined by the Antarctic trough and the month to month swings by the Aleutian Low.
The obvious thing to ask is: How does the variation albedo relate to global temperature?
In the diagrams below the albedo axis on the right, is inverted. As albedo falls away, temperature increases. The relationship is watertight. No other influence needs to be invoked other than ENSO which throws a spanner in the works unrelated to the underlying change in the Earths energy budget.
The relationship between global albedo and surface temperature is less disturbed by ENSO at 20-30S Latitude, the latitudes where the variation in albedo is likely to be directly related to change in surface pressure.
The tropics distort the evolution of global surface in a manner that is unrelated to albedo. Temperature increase in the tropics is important to the global statistic because the circumference of the Earth is greatest in low latitudes. However, tropical variability relates to a mixing phenomenon of cold with warm water that has little to do with albedo and the Earths energy budget. The temperature of the Eastern Pacific that is normally about 8°C degrees cooler than the waters in the West increases in the El Nino phase. But essentially the increase in the East brings temperature to the point where the difference between the East and the West is, for a brief interval, reduced, or eliminated. The result is a leap in global temperature when the high pressure cells in the mid latitudes are contracting and albedo is increasing.
It follows that average global temperature is a not a good guide to the status of the Earths energy budget.
In high latitudes temperature is dependent, not on the ENSO phenomenon or even albedo, but rather the degree of penetration of flows of cold air originating from the Arctic and the Antarctic and that of warm air travelling pole-wards from the mid latitude highs towards the Polar Lows that bring these air masses together. The chief variable here is the surface area occupied by LOW PRESSURE cells (polar cyclones, extratropical cyclones) in high latitudes and the balance of pressure between source and sink with reversals a fact of life. The cooling of high latitudes in the southern hemisphere relates to this phenomenon. Variability in the polar lows occurs on very long time scales. Surface pressure on the margins of Antarctica has been falling for seventy years and the area affected by reduced surface pressure has expanded northwards, especially in winter.
At times when the interplanetary field is less disturbed by solar activity, as we have seen in the most recent solar cycle, large swings in albedo should be expected.
Land and sea surface temperature is very sensitive to albedo on all time scales. Variation in albedo, accounts for the change in surface temperature over the last 20 years, to the exclusion of any other mechanism.
This is a lesson in the the desirability of observation, measuring what is observed and making an effort to understand the mechanism responsible for change. The Arctic Oscillation is well correlated with geomagnetic activity. Shifts in atmospheric mass between the high and mid latitudes change the planetary winds and this is the prime source of change in weather and climate on inter-annual, and longer and decadal time scales. What has been lacking is a close observation of the mechanics of the circulation of the atmosphere in high latitudes in winter and its evolution over time, that is primarily determined in the stratosphere.
Ozone is a greenhouse gas too. There is less ozone than carbon dioxide. But there is enough ozone in the air to impart sufficient kinetic energy to all atmospheric constituents to reverse the lapse rate at the tropopause. The partial pressure of ozone increases in winter when the sun is low in the sky and the short wave radiation that splits the ozone molecule is attenuated. The Antarctic circumpolar trough, the Aleutian Low and the Icelandic Low are made up of one or more polar cyclones. These cyclones can elevate ozone to to the 1hPa pressure level. A polar cyclone that is due to absurdly steep density gradients in the lower stratosphere/upper troposphere, can propagate to the surface because, the surface is simply not very far away. It is in the stratosphere, at Jet stream altitudes, and in the vicinity of polar cyclones, that the climate engine can be found, driving the circulation of the atmosphere. If you are looking to find the engine of climate change at the equator or via ENSO it won’t be there.
What goes up must come down. It (ozone) comes down in the mid latitude high pressure cells that pay scant respect to mans conceptual differentiation between ‘troposphere’ and ‘stratosphere’. The importance of ozone is derived from the fact that it is the only greenhouse gas that is not uniformly distributed and secondly, the virtual absence of ozone in the very cold air descending over the Antarctic, and the Arctic when polar pressure is sufficiently high. The volume of descent of this very cold air is not as important as the maintenance of a steep gradient of temperature and density where the two air masses converge. The notion of a ‘Front’ where these air masses meet, is unphysical. The air rotates in what might be deceptively described as a ‘cold core’ polar cyclone’. In fact the warm core starts at about 500 hPa. There is no ‘troposphere’ at high latitudes. Tropospheric air re-enters high latitudes to establish an ‘ozone hole at Jet stream altitudes in spring. The air that is of tropospheric origin has a high NOx content. Its not there during the winter season.
The descent of ozone into the troposphere has implications for atmospheric albedo. The climate shift of 1978, evident in the evolution of tropical surface temperature in the diagram above, was due to a breakdown of the Antarctic circulation that delivered a steep increase in the temperature of the stratosphere and upper troposphere globally, a subject for another day.
It can be observed that a map of total column ozone is also a map of surface pressure. It is the kinetic energy acquired by ozone aloft that is responsible for low surface pressure. It is difference in near surface pressure that appears to drive the winds. But in a polar cyclone, air density gradients are at their steepest between 500 and 50 hPa, not at the surface. The driver is aloft, not at the surface.
Notions couched in terms of ‘forcings’ of surface temperature based on radiation theory pay no respect to the complexity of the atmosphere and cannot explain the evolution of surface temperature. CO2 has nothing to do with it whatsoever. There is virtue in the study of geography even though its very old fashioned. A study of the geography of the atmosphere is good to combine with a knowledge of the manner in which the temperature and density of the atmosphere has evolved over time, at each pressure level in all latitudes. The temperature of air depends upon where it comes from. That changes systematically over time and with it, albedo.
The parameters that are important to the determination of surface temperature evolve, as does everything in the natural world. The Earth is not an Island unto itself. Unless we identify the correct parameters and study the linkages, the climate system can’t be modelled. When humans pursue ideological objectives its quite common the see them rewrite science to suit their purpose. But, who in their right mind could ignore the importance of cloud as a determinant of surface temperature.
The immediate future
This data above indicates that the change each months data from one year to the next is systematic and progressive, even in the space of 20 years. The ‘clumping’ of several months together all moving in the same direction occurs in the low points of solar cycles. We can see that over the last twenty years the tendency for the variation in albedo between months to be self cancelling, is diminishing. The recent tendency for more grouping in the last half of the year has produced wide swings in surface temperature that are independent of the ENSO phenomenon, affecting the mid and high latitudes rather than the tropics. This week Melbourne experienced its coldest, temperature on record. Some parts of Victoria received half their annual rainfall in two days. Swings to extremes are to be expected when the interplanetary magnetic field is least disturbed during solar minimum and during low magnitude solar cycles that are less disturbing of the interplanetary magnetic field.
The progression of change in March and September is worth examination:
The trend is for albedo to increase in October and for the swings to be wider since 2017. The situation in March is the opposite. The swing in October is more capable of changing the course of global temperatures than that in March. The trend in September-October has, in the past, been maintained through to December. These are important months for both hemispheres.
The big unknown is how the impact of a change in polarity of the Interplanetary Magnetic field, currently underway, impacts the system. Perhaps a person who knows more about electricity and magnetism than I do, can answer that question. Will the next solar cycle be stronger or weaker. If its the former, the Interplanetary magnetic field will be thrown into disarray and its impact on the atmosphere will not have a strong central tendency, to drive albedo either one way or the other.
My gut feeling is that the tendency for albedo to increase will not be turned around for a couple of solar cycles.
This figure shows the average atmospheric albedo by month of year from March in the year 2000 through to March 2021. Atmospheric albedo is the extent to which solar radiation is reflected by particles in the atmosphere back to space where they are sensed by an instrument on a satellite. The data indicates that more than 30% of the energy of the sun fails to reach the surface of the Earth in December while in August only 28% is lost to space.
Question 1. What are the particles in the atmosphere that could be responsible for reflection of solar radiation and where are they likely to be located?
Question 2. What’s the origin of the anomalous bump in the descent of albedo between February and July?
Question 3. The Earth is closest to the Sun in January and furthest away in July. This makes for a 6% difference in the intensity of solar radiation. What wins out do you think. Would a 3% increase in the proportion of radiation reaching the surface due to less reflection in July compensate for a 6% reduction in the intensity of solar radiation at that time? The Earth as a whole is about 2.5 degrees warmer in one or the other month. Which month? July or January? Why?
Question 4. How does this dynamic relate to Greenhouse theory?
The diagram above traces the evolution of albedo by month over the last two decades.
Question 5 Which month exhibits the biggest short and long term variability?
Question 6. What’s the average interval between peaks in that month?
Question 7. Why is the evolution of albedo in January a mirror image of that in October?
Question 8. Why is September a consistent 91-92% of the figure in November and the evolution of albedo so different in these two months by comparison with adjacent months?
Question 9. Is September setting up for October, November and December or does its pattern indicate an anomalous jerk away from a prevailing pattern? If the latter, what could be causing that jerk?
Question 10. Is this change in albedo, that is different from month to month, likely to be part of the reason for variations in the temperature in a particular season or are there other things that come into play. If so, what are they?
Question 11. Could anything in the Earth system be responsible for the change in albedo that we see here? Is the Earth an Island unto itself or could its atmosphere be influenced by circumstances external to the Earth considering the atmosphere as part of the Earth system? If influenced from the outside environment what part of the Earth is likely to be impacted and in which season?
The diagram above traces the evolution of departures from the monthly average atmospheric albedo and average monthly global temperature for the period 2000 through to 2021. Temperature data is from here
Please note that Albedo is on the right hand axis which is inverted. So, an upward movement in the albedo trace represents a decline in the amount of radiation that reaches the surface of the Earth.
Question 12. Is there a relationship between the two? Could the change in albedo be related to the change in temperature in terms of causation? Is there any factor that could reverse the relationship in the short term, i.e temperature rising as albedo increases and vice versa?
Question 13. The temperature curve departs from the albedo curve strongly on at least two occasions. What could be responsible?
Question 14. In what latitude, hemisphere and location is this variation in albedo likely to be most evident?
Feel free to speculate. Don’t feel bad if there are some questions that simply stump you. Just pass them by. I’m going to send a bottle of very nice red wine to the person that, in my opinion, makes the most sense.
The data below shows the evolution of sea surface temperature in the Western Pacific between the coordinates marked in the map below. In this map from https://earth.nullschool.net/ temperature at 20° south is about 26°C and at 30° south its about 21°C. The currents that are visible in the picture indicate its a mixing zone so local temperature depends in part on where the water is coming from. The circulation in the Pacific south of the equator is anticlockwise and can be expected that temperature will reflect the El Nino, La Nina phenomenon.
The evolution of surface pressure across the globe is governed by the Antarctic trough that exhibits a profoundly low and highly variable atmospheric pressure in cycles of between three and four years duration, that evolve within a longer cycle of 80-120 years, in line with solar activity. Since 1948 surface pressure has dropped by almost 10mb in this trough, the heart of which is located on the margins of Antarctica at 60-70° South Latitude. Its the deepest trough in surface pressure on the planet, a sink for the atmosphere, globally. Don’t underestimate its significance.
The intensity of Polar cyclone activity in the ‘Antarctic Circumpolar Trough’ is greatest in August, September, October and November. As atmospheric pressure falls away in the trough, surface pressure builds elsewhere. The Icelandic and the Aleutian Troughs of the Northern Hemisphere are also actors in this play, the northern and the southern troughs like two horses pulling a buggy but unevenly, because the pulling in the Arctic happens only in northern winter and the pull from the Antarctic trough is all year round and peaking between June and November with September a particularly significant month.
By this process atmospheric mass is shifted to the mid latitudes, especially over the ocean in the Southern Hemisphere where high pressure cells of descending air manage the return of air towards the surface of the planet. This changes the winds and flow of water in the ocean including the phenomenon known as ‘upwelling’ that occurs in the eastern Pacific, brings cold nutrient rich waters to the surface and is vital to the fishing industry in the North Pacific (Monterey, ‘Cannery Row’, John Steinbeck) and off the coast of Chile. The Trade winds and the North westerlies that flow from the mid latitude high pressure cells intensify as surface pressure builds in mid latitudes, but since the major trough is in the south rather than at the equator, the westerlies tend to rob the trades of their oomph. That has consequences for the location of the center of convection in the Pacific Ocean. Strong Trades keep the center of convection in the west. Weak Trades are associated with less upwelling of cold waters in the east (fishing industry collapses) and allow the center of convection to move more to the east, further weakening the trades to the west of the center of convection. But only rarely are the trades weakened to the extent that they flow eastwards rather than westwards. This is monitored as the ‘Southern Oscillation’ which is simply the extent to which surface pressure in Tahiti exceeds that in Darwin.
The impact of the Arctic trough is seen at its peak in January. The Aleutian and the Icelandic Lows are active between November and March in changing the distribution of atmospheric mass, the global winds, ocean currents and depleting cloud cover which increases globally from August as the land masses of the northern hemisphere cool, and with the land masses, the atmosphere. As the Aleutian trough deepens the large high that is resident to the west of South America intensifies.
A polar cyclone lifts air containing ozone to the top of the atmosphere. What goes up must come down. As atmospheric mass is shifted from high latitudes to the mid latitude high pressure zone in the southern hemisphere it introduces ozone to the troposphere, a potent source of atmospheric warming and a destroyer of cloud. When this happens over the ocean, energy accumulates in the Earth system. So, how this phenomenon plays out in the southern hemisphere, that is mostly ocean, is vital to the evolution of temperature globally.
Inspecting the figure above one can see that September exhibits less of an increase in temperature over the period as a whole but wider swings between solar cycles (numbered at the bottom with rectangles indicating when they started and how long they lasted. The polynomial curve doesn’t really capture the full variability between cycles. In particular it fails to indicate the descent in sea surface temperature in the change from the weak cycle 20 to the strong cycle 21.
Why did sea surface temperature fall during the strong solar cycle 21? The effect of the interplanetary magnetic field on the rotation of the atmosphere, that influences the strength of Polar cyclone activity, is greatest at solar minimum when galactic cosmic rays are most intense and are influential in ionizing the atmosphere to depth, including the troposphere. A high level of atmospheric ionization within a relatively invariable magnetic field (few solar eruptions at solar minimum) will promote the rotation of the atmosphere which moves in the same direction as the Earth but faster, and nowhere faster than in high southern latitudes in winter. Think ‘electric motor’. At solar minimum a fast solar wind comes from high sun latitudes, while at solar maximum, the solar wind is dominated by a slow and variable wind from all solar latitudes that is grossly disturbed by coronal mass ejections, introducing flotsam and jetsam (highly charged particles) that spiral out into the interplanetary environment. It follows that the Interplanetary Magnetic field is less coherent in strong solar cycles and at solar maximum.
The Earth’s atmosphere couples most strongly with the interplanetary magnetic field when the axis of the Earths rotation (a line from pole to pole) is at 90 degrees to its orbit of rotation in March and September. Hence the significance of September that lends weight to what’s happening in the Antarctic trough in September. It can be demonstrated that September is the organizing month for the evolution of temperature at all latitudes. But not now.
It is in strong solar cycles that Galactic Cosmic rays penetrate the atmosphere to the least extent. So, in a strong solar cycle the atmospheric condition, the extent to which atmospheric particles carry an electric charge, is subdued. The ionization picture is not simple because ionization also depends on the variation in short wave ionizing radiation from the sun that peaks at solar maximum and secondly the variation in the partial pressure of ozone that is affected by the intake of mesospheric air over the poles in winter. Ozone partial pressure peaks in winter but that’s also when the intake of mesospheric air occurs. However, as pressure falls in high latitudes, the intake of mesospheric air falls away and allows ozone partial pressure to build. That works to intensify the polar cyclones. It’s a built in feedback that magnifies change. Its like putting your foot on the accelerator and someone pushing down on your knee at the same time. Whoopsie, here we go.
The upshot is that solar minimum and weak solar cycles produce change in sea surface temperature in the Western Pacific and across the tropics generally. The sign of that change will depend on whether the solar wind, that reverses polarity at Hale cycle intervals, favours or retards the rotation of the atmosphere. The trend in sea surface temperature is currently posting a warning that cooling is imminent. A new Hale cycle is underway.
It’s apparent from the timing of peaks and troughs that solar minimum always introduces a steep change in the evolution of sea surface temperature. The fingerprint of each cycle, as it appears in the month of September is different. It’s apparent that solar minimum is a time of abrupt and extreme change in sea surface temperature.
Peaks in sea surface temperature in September signal change in January. It looks as if January puts the candles on a cake baked in the winter months. There is nothing random or chaotic about the way sea surface temperature changes. This is an organic system. It’s not dependent on the flap of a butterflies wings in the Amazon.
A decline in sea surface temperature is likely in the coming Hale Cycle (two eleven year cycles) and it will be as abrupt and severe as that between Cycle 20 and 21. September leads the way.
Cool springs are bad news for grape growers and wine makers. Grape-growers in the northern hemisphere have been reminded of this in recent months. Here in Margaret River a slow build in temperature in spring makes for light crops and later vintages. Frost damage is almost unheard of. But, last winter we had snow on Bluff Knoll in the Stirling ranges That’s rare. 1999 and 2006 stand out as cool vintages and that is reflected in January and April temperatures in the data above.
My preferred fuel is diesel. When I want instant heat, I mix it with petrol. I just hope we never run out because the power coming out of my solar array is pathetic. I’ve tried both solar and wind and learned my lesson the hard way. If you think bending over the bonnet of a car is bad for your back think about the risks attached to cleaning solar panels on a sloping roof eight metres up in the air, no safety net, and concrete below. When I signed up and took the subsidy from the ever generous taxpayers, I didn’t realise I was agreeing to run a power station that splutters and dies on a daily basis.
Here endeth the lesson for today. I have underlined the important bits. If any of this argument is obscure please let me know. You need to prepare for cold. Hint: don’t let them close down the coal mines.
Let’s start with what can be observed. Tahiti lies within the margins of a large zone of high surface pressure that tends to be centered over the Pacific Ocean to the west of Chile.
The extent of upwelling of cold water in tropical latitudes, that account for 36% of the surface of the Earth, conditions global surface temperature. The litmus test for the current state of the atmosphere that is thought to determine the extent of this upwelling, is the difference in atmospheric pressure between Tahiti and Darwin that is encompassed in the Southern Oscillation Index. However, as we see in the diagram above there is a strong inverse relationship between atmospheric pressure in Tahiti and sea surface temperature in the Nino 3.4 region. As pressure increases, temperature falls. The third element shows that pressure swings more widely in January than in September. However, pressure in September exceeds that in January and the peaks in September frequently precede the peaks in January. In Nautical terms Antarctica generates the swell while the Arctic is responsible for the chop.
The distribution of atmospheric mass, determining local surface atmospheric pressure, is driven from the winter hemisphere. January and September are the months of greatest variability on inter-annual, decadal and longer time scales. The handover months, when variability is least, are November and April. Essentially, as pressure falls in the Antarctic trough, the Icelandic or the Aleutian Low, it increases everywhere else. This governs the differential pressure that drives the Trade Winds and the Westerlies and determines whether cold air outflows from the poles or warm air displaces cold air in the Arctic and the Antarctic. As surface pressure increases in the mid and equatorial latitudes, colder water appears at the surface in the tropics. Local sea surface temperature varies inversely with local surface atmospheric pressure as is evident above and below. As pressure rises (downwards on the right hand axis), sea surface temperature falls away. This is the La Nina condition that affects tropical latitudes.
As surface pressure declines in high latitudes it increases strongly in the mid latitudes, 20-40 degrees of latitude encompassing the bulk of the high pressure cells that form over the Ocean all year round expanding to include cold land masses in winter. As surface pressure increases, albedo falls away allowing more solar radiation to reach the surface of the ocean where the energy is absorbed to depth. The temperature of the surface of the sea does not reflect the extent of the energy transfer that is occurring. Over the ocean, because the energy is absorbed to depth, the surface temperature response is restrained. Where a cold current intrudes, the energy transfer can be entirely masked.
When insolation increases over land, the surface temperature increases strongly, and the resulting atmospheric heating drives a further decline in albedo accelerating the increase in surface temperature. This phenomenon is best illustrated by considering the evolution of temperature for the globe over a year.
The different heating rates of land and sea delivers a maximum surface temperature for the globe in July because albedo falls away with the heating of the northern land masses. The Earth is actually further from the sun in July and irradiance is 6% weaker than in January. Weak sun, warm Earth, reason is the decline in albedo.
The direct relationship between pressure and temperature brought about by a change in albedo is illustrated below. In September surface pressure is highest in the mid latitudes and lowest in the Antarctic trough. The location takes in the east of the Pacific Ocean between Sydney and Auckland and about as much ocean again, to the east.
Wintertime polar cyclone activity in high latitudes, that determines surface pressure there, and everywhere else, changes on centennial and longer time scales. If we wish to describe a climate in terms of mean or median conditions, the computation requires at least two hundred years of data. We can see in the figures above that there is both warming and cooling, pressures increasing and decreasing within the space of seventy years. It makes no sense to refer to an anomaly with respect to the mean state for any thirty year period within the cycle of change.
This flux in surface pressure is described as the Annular Modes phenomenon, in enlightened circles, acknowledged as the prime cause of inter-annual and decadal climate variation. This is the elephant in the room of climate change that activists who beat the climate change drum, choose to ignore.
The temperature of equatorial latitudes drives the global temperature statistic because tropical latitudes constitute 36% of the total area. But in terms of understanding the Earths energy budget what happens in the tropics is simply a mixing phenomenon. Its a smoke and mirrors trick played by the winds and the ocean.
The real action is happening in the mid latitudes. So far as high latitudes are concerned temperature is simply a function of where the wind is coming from, the variability occurring in winter, another smoke and mirrors trick.
It is in the mid latitudes that high pressure cells form, delivering cloud free skies and fine weather, the extent of this phenomenon governing the flux in the Earth’s albedo. The dynamics are well disguised because the Ocean is always in a state of movement, driven by the winds, mixing cold water into the warm.
The proportion of carbon dioxide in the air is of no account. Look at the figure below. The Southern hemisphere is no warmer in January than it was in the 1970s. Conflicting data should trump theory. When you disrespect the data, you are practicing religion, not science. Apparently, religion is as popular as ever, just substituting the god of ecology for former gods now on the nose, due to the behaviour of their priests and disciples. A similar fate awaits the believers in the ‘carbon problem’.
What really matters is the long cycle in the Earths albedo. January is the middle of summer in the Southern Hemisphere where I live. The southern hemisphere is cooler in January at every latitude than the same latitude in July in the Northern Hemisphere. I’m not looking forward to the cooling that is coming. But I guess its all part of the rich texture of climate change. Natural climate change.
Let’s give mankind a break.
That big El Nino of 1996-7, when tropical waters hit the temperature ceiling, occurred in the trough of the most recent cooling cycle of the southern hemisphere as a whole. Notice how quickly temperature can descend.
Due to the configuration of the landmasses, warm tropical water is channeled mostly into the northern hemisphere. The Gulf Stream is illustrative. That means the Northern Hemisphere gets most of the benefit of the warmth that is taken up by the Oceans of the Southern Hemisphere. I’m for warmth. As you can see from the last graph but one, the temperature in September is limiting for plant growth. Without plants, there is no food.
Am I irritated with the climate change worriers, the United Nations Organization, the Australian Government, the carpetbaggers promoting unreliable sources of energy, academia, the ABC, the BBC, Bill Gates, Twiggy Forrest, the poor unfortunate Poms, the EEC, the Greens and the unquestioning press? You bet.
In summer 2021 tropical cyclones brought rainfall to both the west and the East coasts of Australia.
The grape vine is a Mediterranean plant that leaf’s out in summer and matures its fruit in autumn. Enhanced summer rainfall is associated with disease that attacks the leaves and fruit. To counter this, fruit may be harvested ahead of the rain. Growers are caught between a rock and a hard place.
Summer rainfall is associated with stronger surface pressure in Tahiti and lower surface pressure in Darwin and across the north of the Australian continent. This is termed the La Nina phenomenon. This paper examines the origin of that phenomenon.
The location of Tahiti is shown within the green circle (SLP1013mb) and that of Darwin (SLP 1008mb) in the red circle. The date is April 11 2021. Along the coast of Western Australia, air flows from north to south bringing torrential rainfall. A tropical cyclone moves south to merge with an intense low-pressure zone centred near the Antarctic coast.
Air pressure reflects the number of molecules in the column at a particular location. A zone of extremely low surface pressure surrounds the Antarctic continent. High pressure cells (much lighter colour) are centered on about 35S latitude, notably in the Great Australian Bight and to the east of New Zealand and over the Antarctic continent itself. The air that rises in the ‘Antarctic trough’ descends in the adjacent high-pressure cells warming as it descends, engendering a cloud free atmosphere.
On a global basis this turnover is the most persistent and vigorous because the surface pressure difference between the mid latitude highs and the Antarctic Trough is extreme. What is happening at the equator is just a sideshow to this main event. This paper will outline how the tropical sideshow depends on the dynamics in the Antarctic and the North Pacific Trough, the former active all year round, the latter for a few months in northern winter. Along the way it will be established that the agents responsible for change in weather and climate are to be found in high, not low latitudes.
The Southern Oscillation Index is the simplest method of tracking the El Nino La Nina phenomenon. It is based on the difference in the surface pressure between Tahiti and Darwin. High index values relate to relatively high surface pressure in Tahiti and/or lower surface pressure in Darwin.
In the figure below the right-hand axis is inverted. Superficially the temperature of the Ocean in the Eastern Pacific in the ENSO 3-4 zone appears to depend on the difference in surface pressure between Tahiti and Darwin. However, close observation indicates that in some instances the change in water temperature leads the change in pressure.
This diagram is based on the simple difference in sea level pressure between Tahiti and Darwin. It is different to the Southern Oscillation Index that is based on departures from the average pressure in each location. Later I examine the differences between these two indices in some detail.
On a global basis the Trade winds wax and wane with the Westerly winds in high southern latitudes, driving the West Wind Drift that is responsible for the anticlockwise circulation in the South Pacific. However, the wind in high latitudes is much stronger than it is in low latitudes and it peaks at a different time of the year. The circulation of water in the South Pacific Ocean moves like a swing that is attached to a post, like a Maypole, moving around the post, pushed from two extremities. The post is a high-pressure cell about which the air swings anticlockwise to all points of the compass with a greater attractor located in the south than the north. Surface pressure is much lower in the Antarctic Trough than it is at the equator. Accordingly, the surface of the Ocean is driven harder in high latitudes than in low latitudes.
The temperature of the surface of all tropical waters follows that in the Nino 3-4 region. Because the tropical latitudes have the widest circumference, the tropics amount to 40% of global surface area. Accordingly global surface air temperature follows that in the Nino 3.4 region and the tropics generally. This evolution of surface temperature in low latitudes is due to a stop/start mixing process.
As wind intensity increases, very cold water from high latitudes is driven north towards the Galapagos Islands and westwards across the Pacific. The Antarctic Trough is the major sink generating a flow of air and water from the west to the East. So vigorous is the circulation within and above it, that the entire atmosphere rotates faster than, and in the same direction, as the Earth. But, the intensity of the circulation in the Antarctic trough changes on all time scales. The trough occupies a very large area, stretching from 40S latitude to 70S latitude. Change in atmospheric pressure in the trough manifests as a shift in atmospheric mass to other parts of the globe, modifying surface pressure relationships and the planetary winds globally.
Returning to the figure above its apparent that T_D declines between 1948 and 1978 and increases after 1978. The trend line in Nino 3.4 temperature declines with T-D until the decade of the 1960s, rises gently until the turn of the century and declines again after 2005 indicating warming in the Nino 3-4 region.
Why does the temperature of the waters in the trade wind zone not reflect the enhanced tendency for more cold water from high southern latitudes to cool the tropics as the difference between surface pressure between Tahiti and Darwin increases? The answer follows.
In the southern Hemisphere high- pressure cells dominate the expansive surface of the Southern Ocean in the mid latitudes. As surface pressure falls in the Antarctic trough it rises in the high-pressure zone in the mid latitudes where descending air is warmed by compression. Accordingly this zone tends to be cloud free. Increasing pressure widens the zone of influence of these cells directly reducing the Earths albedo, allowing more solar energy to reach the Ocean where it is absorbed to depth.
What is causing the current trend increase in the difference in surface pressure between Tahiti and Darwin? To answer this question, one needs to attend to the process of change in surface pressure. The situation is complex, and a methodical approach is required.
We see above that surface pressure in Darwin falls away more than it does in Tahiti in the summer season. For this reason the difference in surface pressure between Tahiti and Darwin is greatest in January and least in July. The reduced surface pressure in summer indicates reduced air density associated with enhanced kinetic energy as the land mass of the Australian continent heats the atmosphere.
The atmosphere is global. Like one big bathtub. Seasonally, there is a shift of atmospheric mass from the summer to the winter hemisphere. The shift from south to north peaks in January. This is documented in the maps below. The cooling of the Eurasian continent assists the increase in atmospheric pressure in the northern hemisphere. The generation of low pressure zones over the north Atlantic and the North Pacific Oceans retards this process. These two low pressure cells, forming over the ocean, are the northern Hemisphere equivalent of the Antarctic trough.
The location of Tahiti is indicated with a white circle.
In January, surface pressure falls away in the region of Australia. Notice the low surface pressure in the Coral sea to the east of New Guinea, an area associated with the generation of tropical cyclones, as is the zone of low surface pressure to the south of Indonesia.
Summer rainfall across the north, the west and the East of the Australian continent is associated with the monsoonal flow and in particular the incidence of tropical cyclones. Cyclone tracks are mapped in the figure above. Some of these cyclones, particularly on the West Coast, travel far enough to merge with low pressure systems in the Antarctic trough. It is probable that as the trough has deepened, this merging occurs more frequently.
The incidence of tropical cyclone activity increases strongly from November reflecting the evolution towards low surface pressure in summer. Peak month for cyclone activity is January. But in the next two months, while the number of cyclones falls away slightly, the number of stronger category 5 cyclones increases.
If we want to understand the evolution of the planetary winds and all forms of cyclone activity, we must understand the dynamics driving surface pressure.
Surface pressure dynamics
The lowest surface pressure on the globe is found in Antarctica between November and January (yellow line). But on a year-round basis, the Antarctic Trough (grey line) generates the lowest surface pressure. The Antarctic Trough is where polar cyclones form.
Polar cyclones dominate the latitude band 40 to 70 degrees south. They have their genesis at jet stream altitudes where the strongest winds occur. Above the tropopause ozone reduces the number of molecules in the column of air by transferring energy to oxygen and nitrogen that has been acquired from the Earths own infrared emissions, by day and by night. In low pressure cells the upper two thirds of the atmospheric column is less dense and the tropopause, where the lapse rate of temperature with increasing altitude falls to zero, is two to three kilometers lower in elevation, than in high pressure cells. The uplift is intense, extending to the top of the atmospheric column at 1hPa or 45 kilometers in elevation, to the stratopause. The corresponding downdraft in the mid latitude high pressure cells introduces ozone into the troposphere to such an extent that at 200 hPa, the temperature of the air peaks in winter. That indicates the heating power of ozone as it is energized by infrared radiation from the Earth itself.
Relating to figure immediately above:
Black line: Northern hemisphere surface pressure peaks in northern winter, falling away as the air warms in summer.
Dashed blue line. There is a small increase in atmospheric mass between 0-15S latitude in the winter months.
The difference between Tahiti (dotted green line) and Darwin (dotted blue line) is greatest in January.
Orange Line. This is where high pressure cells are located at 15 to 40 degrees of latitude. Atmospheric pressure builds strongly in the winter season, peaking in August. Elevated atmospheric pressure is related to cloud free skies and therefore reduced albedo. Pulses of higher atmospheric pressure (and geopotential height) are associated with an increase in surface temperature. The presence of ozone elevates the amplitude of swings in temperature above 500 hPa by comparison with the contemporaneous swings below 500 hPa and at the surface. In very cold air this strongly affects ice cloud density, opacity and reflectivity. It changes the Earth’s albedo.
Yellow line. There is strong increase in atmospheric pressure in Antarctica in winter, absorbing some of the movement of atmospheric mass from the northern hemisphere. High surface pressure over the Antarctic continent is associated with the descent of relatively ozone deficient, mesospheric air inside the polar vortex, deeper contrasts in air density across the vortex and enhanced polar cyclone activity. In this way, the Antarctic Trough, despite its proximity to the continent, avoids the increase in air density and surface pressure that manifests over the continent in winter.
Grey line. The activity of polar cyclones keeps surface pressure in the Antarctic Trough to a planetary minimum all year round.
Green line. Tahiti sees peak pressure in September at a time when ozone partial pressure peaks in the high latitude southern stratosphere.
The evolution of ENSO since 1992
In this diagram the 61day smoothed SOI (left axis) is compared with the simple 61day smoothed difference in surface pressure between Tahiti and Darwin (right axis). The year marked on the y axis indicates the first day of January in that year. The columns are inserted as an aid to judging the incidence of peaks and troughs in the data.
To remove the Madden Julian Oscillation from surface pressure data a 61day average is required, centred on the 30th day.
From Wikipedia: The Madden–Julian oscillation is characterized by an eastward progression of large regions of both enhanced and suppressed tropical rainfall, observed mainly over the Indian and Pacific Ocean. The anomalous rainfall is usually first evident over the western Indian Ocean and remains evident as it propagates over the very warm ocean waters of the western and central tropical Pacific. This pattern of tropical rainfall generally becomes nondescript as it moves over the primarily cooler ocean waters of the eastern Pacific but reappears when passing over the warmer waters over the Pacific Coast of Central America. The pattern may also occasionally reappear at low amplitude over the tropical Atlantic and higher amplitude over the Indian Ocean. The wet phase of enhanced convection and precipitation is followed by a dry phase where thunderstorm activity is suppressed. Each cycle lasts approximately 30–60 days. Because of this pattern, the Madden–Julian oscillation is also known as the 30- to 60-day oscillation, 30- to 60-day wave, or intraseasonal oscillation.
Relating to figure above
T-D (orange) is the simple difference between atmospheric pressure between Tahiti and Darwin). This statistic is rarely negative, unlike the SOI (Blue). The default arrangement is for winds to blow east to west driving cold surface waters westwards. This relates to a positive value for T-D except briefly, in the winter season, manifesting in only 9 of the 29 winters.
T-D exhibits an annual cycle, not always evident in the SOI, with a consistent peak in December-January-February. Because the SOI (left axis) is computed to reveal anomalies in relation to the average, this peak is suppressed, a January peak occurring only when the anomaly is abnormally large. Another difficulty with this statistical treatment (departure from the average) is that trends are distorted as the average changes. The average is always changing because the climate of the Earth changes over time naturally. ENSO has been present for thousands of years.
The peak in T-D rarely strays from early January.
The timing of the trough in T-D, that occurs in the winter season, is irregular.
The year-to-year variation in T-D in January is much larger than the variation in the trough in winter. This points towards a dominant Northern Hemisphere influence driving change in surface pressure in January because shifts of atmospheric mass primarily emanate from the winter hemisphere. In the winter season the Antarctic trough dominates.
The SOI is noisy by comparison with T-D. It conceals rather than reveals the surface pressure dynamic that drives the winds.
Because T-D is positive almost all the time, the circulation of the Pacific Ocean in the Southern Hemisphere is always anti-clockwise. The warmest water is always in the Western Pacific located in South East Asia and the Indonesian archipelago. This is the case even when the trade winds falter, because the trades reverse for only a tiny fraction of the time and it is the constant north westerlies that are the dominant driver of the circulation of the waters of the Pacific Ocean. There are parts of the Pacific Ocean that have not warmed with the tropics. In fact they are cooler today than when records began.
Negative T-D implies a reversal of the trades to blow West to East. This is the El Nino condition when the centre of convection moves from the western to the Eastern Pacific. This is facilitated by the eastward movement of local centres of convection that originate in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean documented as the Madden Julian Oscillation that has a frequency of 30-60 days. In addition, the Earth’s atmosphere moves from West to East, rotating faster than the Earth itself with the speed of travel increasing with latitude. This opposes the east to west movement of the trade winds. The MJ oscillation and the generalized movement of the atmosphere to the east, tends to move the centre of convection over cooler waters in the eastern Pacific regardless of the T-D surface pressure differential. Convection, once started, is self-reinforcing via the release of latent heat. To the extent that the movement of cold surface waters to the west is slowed as the Trades and the Westerlies weaken, the waters of the Eastern Pacific will warm up, assisting the movement of the centre of convection to the east.
There is a 10-13year long wave in T-D. The peaks in T-D are punctuated by anomalous deep troughs. These anomalous troughs occurred in (1997, 1998) and (2009,2010), by far and away the years with the strongest El Nino tendency. The abrupt reversal from cold to warm is associated with a build up of warmer waters in the mid latitudes that spill into the tropics to the exclusion of colder waters from higher latitudes. Energy gain in the mid latitudes relates to elevated surface pressure there, driven by low surface pressure in the Antarctic trough. So far as the ocean is concerned, energy is absorbed to depth and its distribution is affected by mixing processes. It follows as a matter of logic that one cannot assume that an average of global surface temperature actually reflects the process of energy acquisition and emission by the Earth as a whole. To assess the energy balance, one should endeavour to measure the energy stored in the atmosphere and in the ocean, at least to the depth of the ocean that light penetrates. To speak of the hottest year since records began, while it adequately describes surface conditions tells us nothing about the underlying process of energy acquisition and emission.
The trough in the 10-12year long wave in T-D rarely manifests negative values. But this occurred notably in (1993,1994), (2002,2004,2006) and 2015.
Any weakness in the Antarctic trough will manifest as a slowing in the anticlockwise movement of the Pacific Ocean in the southern hemisphere. Weakness in the trough is associated with a decline in atmospheric pressure in the high-pressure cells of the mid latitudes and a consequent increase in cloud cover reducing the uptake of solar energy in the mid latitudes. It follows that the energy balance in the climate system will turn to the negative (emission exceeding acquisition) when surface pressure in the Antarctic trough begins to increase.
The surface temperature dynamic was much affected by a marked increase in the temperature of the stratosphere in the late 1970s, a reflection of its ozone content, the origin being a relative collapse in the intake of mesospheric air due to a fall in atmospheric pressure over the Antarctic continent at that time. The temperature change propagated globally affecting temperatures in the upper troposphere, reducing the Earths albedo.
Dynamics affecting the evolution of the system.
The data in the figure immediately above suggests that the annual cycle in the differential pressure between Tahiti and Darwin is part of a longer 10-12year cycle, cause unknown.
The annual cycle involves change in cloud cover related to the central pressure within and the change in the area occupied by high pressure cells.
The strongest zone of uplift on the planet is not located at the equator. It is located on the margins of Antarctica. The change in cloud cover in the mid latitudes is directly related to the vorticity and volume of air uplifted within the Antarctic trough. This should focus our attention away from the Hadley cell, that is characterized by weak and fluctuating trade winds towards high latitudes.
Evolution of surface pressure in Tahiti and Darwin by month of year
Surface pressure has increased most strongly in September pointing towards enhanced cyclone activity in the Antarctic Trough.
Trends in sea level pressure in Tahiti and Darwin tends to converge in the middle of the period but with a secular increase in all months over time.
Between November and March, the amplitude of the individual swings in surface pressure increases.
The T-D Negative status (westerly winds) manifests most strongly in January, February and March.
From October through to March the variability in Darwin is generally greater than in Tahiti.
Surface pressure in Darwin and Tahiti tend to be anti-correlated at all times of the year, but not strictly so. This lack of strict correlation indicates that the migration of the zone of convection is influenced by conditions unrelated to the process of convection itself. This invalidates the notion that the ENSO phenomenon is solely due to an interaction between the atmosphere and the ocean in tropical waters.
Year to year volatility is strongest in September-October, falls away in November then ramping up in December-March.
In January the thirty years between 1969 and 1999 had the greatest potential for pressure reversals between Tahiti and Darwin.
From 1980 to 1999 conditions in March favoured El Nino.
The origins of shifts in atmospheric mass
The figure above shows the evolution of the Antarctic and the Pacific troughs over time, its relative depression in relation to the North Pacific trough and the competition for influence on southern hemisphere atmospheric pressure from the North Pacific Trough in December, January, and February. To be more complete this analysis should be extended to compare the evolution of surface pressure in North Pacific, to that in the North Atlantic perhaps a subject for another day.
We see in the figure above that, in January, the shifts in atmospheric mass consequent on changes in the intensity of the North Pacific trough are much more substantial than those emanating from the Antarctic Trough. In the main, a depression in pressure in the Pacific trough coincides with an increase in surface pressure in the Antarctic Trough and vice versa. However, its not a simple case of atmospheric exchange within a closed system. The red arrows mark occasions when both troughs move in the same direction emanating from a global change in the partial pressure of ozone in the upper air or perhaps an electromagnetic jerk affecting the rotation of the atmosphere. Either way, the agent of change is external to the Earth, not the product of an internally generated change within a closed climate system. This system is open to external influences. If we don’t acknowledge this dynamic that affects the planetary winds, the Earths Albedo and ENSO, we have our heads buried in the sand. When I survey the climate science literature and the work of the United Nations all I see is bums in the air.
Due to the complexity of the origins of shifts in atmospheric mass from the high-pressure troughs in both hemispheres, the fact that the troughs vary in their influence according to the month of the year and according to external influences that are currently unrecognized, and currently unpredictable, it is not possible to anticipate the likely evolution of climate from year to year or in the decade to come. Modelers should acknowledge this and back off.
However, given that cloud cover in the mid latitudes is undoubtedly a function of the evolution of the high latitude troughs, we can say that, when the troughs weaken, the beneficial warming trend that commenced in the late 1970s will reverse.
It is well to remember that the temperature of the Earth peaks in July when, due to orbital considerations, solar radiation is 6% weaker than in January. Global cloud cover reaches its minimum in July, its maximum in January. This demonstrates the importance of albedo in determining how much solar energy reaches the ocean, the only medium that can absorb solar energy to depth and retain it for long periods of time. The atmosphere is incapable of retaining energy. Any energy gain is strictly temporary, swiftly countered by convection and decompressive cooling with a compensatory compression in the mid latitudes where most of the radiative energy emitted by the Earth system emanates from high altitudes. Radiation theorists need to acknowledge this geometry and back off.
It is stupid to suggest that there is ‘a climate or any other sort of emergency’ when something bad is expected to happen if we as humans are powerless to influence the course of events.
It’s comforting to remember that warming has been highly beneficial. The bulk of the globe is too cold for comfort, especially in winter. This is what the green tremolos need to fully absorb, and admit. Then back off for the good of humanity.
As for the grapes, the great years have dry summers, frequently associated with an upswing in the solar cycle like the one that is now underway, albeit weakly.
The table shows the average temperature at the 1000 millibar pressure level (sea level) for the Southern Hemisphere for the last seven decades. The warmest decade is marked in red and the coolest in blue.
The warmest decade in January occurred in 1979-1988. The failure to warm indicates that the much celebrated hypothetical link between carbon dioxide and atmospheric temperature is absent. Carbon dioxide is well mixed. It’s supposed effects on the temperature of the atmosphere, via ‘back radiation’ should be present in all locations, at all times, continuously. Plainly, if it skips the entire southern hemisphere, in January, for thirty years, its a furphy. A ‘furphy’ is an Australian term for an erroneous or improbable story that is claimed to be factual.
NCEP reanalysis provides a record of the characteristics of the atmosphere at seventeen pressure levels from the surface of the globe to the 10 millibar pressure level’. The NCEP record begins in 1948. From the 1960”s accuracy and reliability has been enhanced via access to observations from orbiting satellites.
Reanalysis data-sets are used in climate diagnostics and attribution. The 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.
Via reanalysis the inconsistency due to constant adjustment of the surface temperature record is avoided. Sampling error is reduced. Localized ‘urban warming’ in human settlements on land is less likely to affect the record.
Students of the change that has occurred in the Earths atmosphere should be aware that it is not at the surface, but in the region where the troposphere interacts with the stratosphere that surface wind and climate is driven.
The next post will explore the factors responsible for change. One can not begin to explain the causes of change unless one is familiar with the characteristics of change. Fortunately, change comes with a time signature that provides the vital clue as to its origin.
Chilean High 20-40S. Latitude, 240-290E Longitude. Maritime Continent 0-10S. Latitude, 120-180 Longitude. Aleutian Low 45-60N. Latitude 180-210 E Longitude. The blue line in the graph registers surface pressure in the region of the Aleutian Low. The orange line traces the difference in surface pressure between the Chilean High and the Maritime continent that is a name for the thousands of islands and the surrounding waters where low pressure prevails to the north of the Australian continent.
The difference in sea level pressure between Tahiti and Darwin is the basis of the Southern Oscillation Index. This is a good way of monitoring the movement of the centre of convection between Indonesia and the eastern Pacific Ocean. But this is really a local phenomenon that plays out along the equator. The bigger picture involves the atmospheric pressure differential that governs the rate of mixing of cold water from the south with the warm water of the tropics, the rate of flow of warm tropical waters to the sink in higher latitudes and the associated change of albedo in the mid latitudes.
The tendency for cold waters to upwell along the equator is tied to higher surface pressure in the South East Pacific and relatively low surface pressure in equatorial latitudes. A hydrostatic phenomenon involved. The warmth of the surface waters in the tropics is skin deep. The water is more salty due to evaporation making it denser and liable to sink depending on its temperature. Higher temperature makes this salty water buoyant. At depth. there is cold less salty water. When surface pressure rises in the mid latitudes it depresses the surface of the ocean locally, elevating it where surface pressure is low, tending to thin and spread the skin of warm water in the tropics. As the density gradient between cold and warm waters increases in the lateral domain, eddies occur with rotating circulations that lift cold waters to the surface.
The high pressure cell that I am calling the ‘Chilean High’ rotates anti-clockwise. The near surface airflow is constrained by the High Andes that has an average elevation of 4000 metres affecting 40% of the depth of the atmospheric column in terms of atmospheric mass. That gives rise to a push of cold water northwards along the east coast of South America where coastal locations have been cooling for more than 100 years. That cold water creates a fog that reflects sunlight. Cold water favours the descent of air in the core of the resident high pressure cells.
As the difference in sea level atmospheric pressure increases between the Chilean High, that is an extreme proxy for the mid latitude high pressure cells and the Maritime Continent, that is an extreme proxy for the equatorial latitudes, cold water upwells in the tropics and the anticlockwise circulation drives cold water northwards along the coast of South America. In this way, the La Nina condition that makes for good fishing in Chile and Peru is established. Upwelling of relatively salt free, less dense water, desalinated as it is frozen of the coast of Antarctica, transports nutrient-rich water into the photic zone, increasing phytoplankton growth and anchoveta production, more than 95% being used to produce fish meal. Peruvian anchoveta support approximately 50 percent of global fishmeal production and 33 percent of global fish oil production, making Peru the largest exporter worldwide. In 2009 Peru’s production plants in the coastal cities of Chimbote and Pisco, processed over 9000 metric tons of fish per hour and employed 47,000 workers. It’s not all good because La Nina also brings cold air from Antarctica, snow in the Andes giving rise to Influenzas and pneumonia. In the high Andes the suicide rate peaks in Spring as the Antarctic Ozone Hole migrates towards South America. This is not a new phenomenon. Its been like this for thousands of years. This is indeed a unique and challenging part of the globe.
To reiterate: When the Aleutian Low is abnormally active, (extreme low pressure) it shifts atmospheric mass from the northern Pacific Ocean to the Southern Pacific Ocean that increases pressure in the accommodating Chilean high. Then as the pressure differential across the Pacific increases it speeds the Trade winds, the condition we know as La Nina. Why doesn’t The Aleutian low shift that atmospheric mass to somewhere else in the Northern Hemisphere you might ask? Well, in winter the atmosphere of the northern hemisphere is resistant because its cold and dense. In summer, the Northern Hemisphere is a hothouse due to the heating of the atmosphere by the continents, the evaporation of cloud and the amount of long wave radiation that is streaming towards space, the entire atmosphere loaded with kinetic energy. The Ocean near Chile is very cold, the air above it is being chilled, fogs are endemic shielding the ocean from solar radiation and the area involved is very large. so the atmosphere in the southern Pacific is unusually accommodating. This type of behaviour in gases is described as Boyles Law. Air temperature is inversely related to pressure unless the air is constrained. Bear in mind that 90% of the atmosphere is constrained by gravity to below 10,000 metres in elevation but there is no lateral constraint, no wall at the equator to prevent the flow. The atmosphere is very thin. So, when heat is applied, its every molecule for himself in a constrained space and the kinetic energy carried by a molecule determines the space that it occupies while the number of molecules in the column determines local surface pressure.
In winter when the atmosphere in the Northern Hemisphere is cold and dense, be amazed that the Aleutian Low is shifting lots of atmospheric mass to the Southern Hemisphere and ask yourself this question. What is the energy source that drives this phenomenon? Something is delivering heat to the atmosphere, locally, that is enhancing kinetic energy of molecular movement. Its in the vicinity of the Aleutian Low and its not sunlight. The only other energy available is that being given off by the Earth itself. What is the ‘greenhouse absorber’ that is not uniformly distributed? We will return to that question later.
The last post on this blog asserted that as pressure falls below the 1948-2021 average in the region of the Aleutian Low the same thing happens in the Chilean High. This is an instance of behaviour that is different on a decadal or longer interval to that which applies on shorter, monthly time scales. On longer time scales, squeezing extra atmospheric mass into the Antarctic Trough may impair the vorticity of polar cyclones and their efficiency in shifting atmospheric mass to the Chilean High. So, on longer time scales, a fall in pressure near the Aleutians is associated with a fall in pressure over the Ocean adjacent to Chile and Peru. Over the last seventy years atmospheric pressure has fallen in both the Antarctic and the Arctic. Climate science does not acknowledge this. To do so would bruise the CO2 narrative by introducing the need to explain a source of natural variation. This is anathema. It’s poison.
But on a monthly basis the Aleutian Low shifts atmospheric mass to the Chilean High, as for instance in April, according to the chart below.
As the Northern Hemisphere moves towards summer, the signature of the Aleutian low shrinks and the high pressure zone that lives in winter, in its dwarfed state, near the Gulf of California expands towards the Aleutians. Nevertheless, via the graph, we see that the interaction and the relationship persists.
In June the Aleutian Low has disappeared, but on the left we see that, somehow, its still up to its usual tricks.
The invisible Aleutian Low is still active in determining the gradient in surface pressure across the South Pacific in August.
In October, the Aleutian Low shows up again in the surface pressure data. The polynomial curve indicates the manner in which the relationship between these variables evolves over time at least in October. Notice the big bump in the 1970s and the crossing of the curves that occurs after the bump. That’s a signature of the 1978 Climate Shift that ended a two decade cooling trend in the northern hemisphere and started the warming trend that delivered an immediate 2°C increase in the temperature of tropical waters and a 1°C increase in the temperature of the entire northern hemisphere, but gradually, over the last seventy years. Warming occurred in every month. This, in contrast to no warming in the Southern Hemisphere in December through to March, the warmest time of the year, when global albedo peaks with the winter chilling of the Northern Hemisphere.
By December, the Aleutian Low is in full flight again, with massive swings in surface pressure giving rise to mirror image swings in the pressure differential across the Pacific. We see in the map that the area affected by high surface pressure in the Chilean High is somewhat reduced by comparison with October. But, the Maritime continent sees a large expansion of the area affected by low surface pressure. So, the pressure gradient across the Pacific is enhanced.
Just incidentally, notice that the Antarctic Trough is active all year round, deepening in surface pressure in the winter. The Antarctic Continent pressure regime is deepest in August.
Summarizing, the pressure gradient between the Chilean High and the Maritime continent is slight in Southern Hemisphere winter but, significantly, between April and August it frequently dips into negative territory implying a reversal of the Trade winds. So, its plain that even in the depth of winter the invisible Aleutian Low is pushing and prodding. That’s why ENSO tends to manifest in late winter, build during the spring, and see the largest swings in the gradient of surface pressure across the Pacific between December and March.
The gradient of surface pressure across the Pacific is always, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring at the mercy of the Aleutian Low.
The Aleutian Low has this ‘Mother in Law’ role, an invisible hand dictating the play across the Pacific south of the equator.
The mystery is: Where is the Aleutian Low in the northern hemisphere summer months when there is no evidence of low surface pressure anywhere near the Aleutian Islands?
The detective work starts at the surface, in northern winter.
This is the way ENSO works. the manner of its construction and operation have nothing to do with carbon dioxide or the works of man in any way shape or form.
Climate Science is corrupt. It goes out of its way to ignore the dynamics that are documented above. That wouldn’t suit the CO2 narrative. Its poison because it introduces the question as to how much the temperature of the air is determined by natural influences including those which are external to the Earth environment.
If academic climate science is corrupt, that which is promulgated at the United Nations is utterly corrupt. The agenda is manifestly, power, control and the redistribution of assets and wealth. All worthy objectives, but the end does not justify the means.
As Jo Nova remarks at her blog, ‘a perfectly good civilization is going to waste. ‘Perfectly good’ may be ‘over the top’, but I must agree with her.
It appears that corruption is more pervasive than I fondly imagined.
I am not particularly fond of cars, tending to hang onto them till the no longer run. The handbook that comes with my most recent purchase, has more pages of than a valid description of the climate system should require.
A. Surface temperature in the mid latitudes is governed by cloud cover.
B. In the tropics, surface temperature varies according to the change in the input of cold water from high latitudes and that upwelling from below.
C. In the tropics more energy is acquired than is emitted to space. The difference goes via ocean transport into the black hole heat absorber that exists in high latitudes. Some is quickly returned to space via radiation in cloud free skies in the mid latitudes.
D. It has long been appreciated that air temperature in high latitudes depends on whether the air is coming from. Due to the deficit in radiation in relation to that emitted as long wave radiation to space, the surface is, on the average, cooler than the air above it. If the westerlies blow harder into a deeper sink of low surface pressure these latitudes will warm. Conversely, if surface pressure rises in high latitudes a cold wind emerges to chill the mid latitudes.
Radiation theory, and the notion of ‘atmospheric forcing’s’ might apply if the atmosphere that is strictly immobile. But the Earth is not like that. Radiation theory lacks a proper focus on the properties of gases. it denies any role for the stratosphere. It fails to appreciate the obvious role of ozone and the importance of the troughs of low surface pressure that form in close conjunction with the air that descends from the mesosphere. It entirely disregards the evolution of the modes of natural variability in the atmosphere and seeks to link them to the change in CO2. Current dogma ignores the variability in albedo to due to change in cloud cover.
In short, the current pretense is not science, its religion, probably the most influential religion that has ever existed, and sadly so. It pits man against his fellow man and makes children fearful for their future. It’s a pox worse than Covid.
The author is a grape farmer and wine maker, and a close observer of climate.
It is widely asserted that grape vintages are nowadays earlier, due to hotter summers. I reject that assertion. Winters are warmer than in the past. Not summers. The earlier start to a longer growing season and enhanced availability of CO2 enhances photosynthetic capacity. It improves efficiency in the use of scarce water by the grape vine. This very likely accounts for the earlier time of ripening. In addition, when the ripening month has been in February, the warmest month, and it occurs in January, the maturation period is cooler than hitherto, an advantage.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s maintains that Australia’s climate has warmed on average by 1.44 ± 0.24 °C since national records began in 1910. But this statistic is the result of averaging monthly data that gives equal weight to autumn, winter, spring, and summer months. The inference is that temperature is rising in summer, in daytime when the sun is shining and this is considered a dangerous development.
To establish whether there has been warming in summer we should examine the average daily maximum temperature in locations that are already, or likely to become, unsuitably warm from the plant productivity/fruit quality point of view.
The bulk of the continent, including the major fruit growing and cropping areas, is described as hot dry summer, cold winter. Surprisingly, only a few towns in this zone have temperature records for a century or more. But, this is indeed the case for Mildura, Kalgoorlie, Adelaide, Alice Springs and Bourke. Their locations are indicated on the map below.
Mildura is close to the junction of the Murray and the Darling Rivers, where most of Australia’s grapes, citrus, almonds, pistachios, olives, carrots, and asparagus are grown. Mildura prides itself on four hundred more sunlight hours per annum than the Queensland’s Gold Coast where people go in their retirement, to live out their remaining years in a warm environment close to the sea. Mildura has rich red, energy absorbing soils that radiate strongly.
We have data for the post office up to 1950 and for the airport, that is about 4Km away, after that date.
First let us look at the monthly average daily minimum temperature in February, the warmest month.
The minimum, both prior to and after 1950, is close to 16.5C. No change. Contrary to expectations based on greenhouse theory, all the energy that is picked up during the day is dissipated overnight. There is no inhibition of the cooling process in the eight hours of darkness in mid-summer. Quick and complete. There is no ‘greenhouse effect’ in Mildura.
The average daily maximum in February is shown below.
In the 70 years prior to 1950 the average maximum reached or exceeded 35C on ten occasions. In the seventy years post 1950 it reached 35C on two occasions and exceeded it once. In the most recent seventy years the mean maximum is cooler by about a degree. If we rule out the data for the years prior to 1910, as being perhaps inflated due to the use of ‘non standard equipment’, no change.
Periods of sustained heat occurred between 1890 and 1905 and more recently, between 2011 and 2019. In these years there were wide fluctuations in temperature over short intervals. What can account for these gyrations?
Even the drovers dog knows that the temperature of the air is driven by the origin of the travelling airmass arriving from different points of the compass every day of the year. That is what a weather map shows. The direction of flow depends on the distribution of surface pressure. The sustained heat of the odd warm year and the early decades is plainly due to something other than trace gas composition. It is fair to suggest that the recent warmth is likely due to the same influences that brought warmer air in the earlier years.
In the instance of Kalgoorlie, as for Mildura, we must have regard to records for locations that are just a few kilometers apart. However, bear in mind that due to the lack of vegetation, airports tend to be warmer than well watered regional towns with their long established and proudly maintained gardens, lawn and trees.
The data for the airport runs from 1954. The situation in Kalgoorlie is like Mildura. The warmest years occur in the earliest decades, in this instance, persisting until the 1930s. If we consider only the data post 1910 is reliable, we still have 20 years of sustained warmth from 1910 to 1930, warmer than recent decades.
Looking at Adelaide we see sustained warmth until about 1930 and cooling in the maximum temperature over time. The long gap in the data is unfortunate. However the data for Adelaide Airport, that is 7km closer to Spencer’s Gulf, is instructive.
The warmest years at the airport were during a brief interval about the year 2000. Since then, the maximum has fallen away. Plainly, warmth comes and goes with change in the winds.
In the case of Alice Springs and Bourke the story is similar. The maximum falls away in mid period. Recent decades are no warmer than in the past.
Feel free to draw your own conclusions.
When the minimum temperature varies in a manner that is out of concert with the maximum, logic suggests that something other than a ‘greenhouse effect is involved.
In my estimation there appears to be a cycle about 100 years in length, which is likely solar driven, influencing the distribution of atmospheric pressure, cloud cover and the planetary winds. This changes the ocean currents and the pole to equator temperature gradient.
Remember that greenhouse gases are well mixed. If warming is produced by burgeoning levels of greenhouse gases, it should be evident in all seasons, in both the minimum and maximum temperature, everywhere, without exception. Warming should be a one-way affair, constantly up. The Greenhouse mechanism can’t take a holiday.
Notice that, over a century or more, the change in the central tendency in the maximum temperature is a fraction of the change that occurs in the space of a few years. Logically, this small degree of change could be due to the same, regular, everyday mode of causation, a change in the origin of the wind. We observe that the temperature of an air mass depends upon where its coming from. A falling maximum and rising minimum, in the case of Adelaide, and even Alice Springs, is likely due to an enhancement of air flow from the Southern Ocean. When this occurs in Perth people refer to the ‘Fremantle Doctor’. In Kalgoorlie, much further inland, the ‘Albany Doctor’ may or may not arrive to relieve the heat.
The natural factors that change temperature from one year to the next, to do with the way the wind blows, are unstable, in both the short and the long term. Why is this? For over seventy years surface pressure has been falling on the margins of the Antarctic and rising at 20 to 40 degrees south latitude. The resulting enhancement of air flows from the warmer north of the Australian continent is accompanied by a loss of cloud cover and enhanced blue sky. This is predominantly a winter phenomenon. So, it aligns with the seasonal bias to the warming that has occurred. Greenhouse theory doesn’t cut it as an explanation for this phenomena.
Regrettably, the temperature record from the BOM is sparse and discontinuous. Recording stations open and close. There have been changes in the type of housing that shield thermometers from direct sunlight. There have been changes in the amount of vegetation that cools the air in the vicinity of the recording station. One cannot assume that data from our BOM, possibly no better or worse than that of any other country, is capable of supporting an assertion that the background air temperature has changed from one decade to the next, let alone over a period of one hundred years. In the case of lighthouses and islands the data may be less corrupted by change in the local vegetation. Central city areas have warmed by 6C or more due to the loss of vegetation and enhancement in the amount of material that absorbs and stores energy including a vast expansion of window glass to trap heat in buildings and dense materials that are rock like in their capacity to store energy. Many sources of uncertainty are attached to the measurement of air temperature. In my view the BOM and the CSIRO should recognize the uncertainties, pay a lot more attention to seasonal data, up their game so far as logic and observation is concerned and practice the precept that ‘honesty is the best policy’.
The future of Western Civilization…a question of human welfare.
Self described ‘climate scientists’ who rely upon numerical models, built on airy-fairy assumptions, predicting warming, have a vested interest in the climate scare. The concern with fossil fuels used to be that they would run out. These fuels have never been as cheap as they are today, especially oil and gas. So, another rationale has been developed to take us back to a simpler life style, presumably less exploitative, more in tune with the ‘nature’ of Prince Charles and David Attenborough.
There is an ideological component, city, income, and wealth based, not grounded in observation, that is free of any concern about loss of employment as energy becomes expensive and unreliable. The cost of energy to Australian households at $US0.26 /kW hour is more than three times the $US0.08 in China and the gap is widening. Cheap energy is the foundation of human progress and material welfare. Our pattern of expansive urban development (new suburbs on the outer margin) depends for its viability on cheap personal transport. If energy is expensive and unreliable, the result will be inconvenience and impoverishment. But not necessarily for those with inherited wealth, or those supported out of the public purse including the British aristocracy, of whom we Australian’s are very fond, the public service, the CSIRO, the BOM, the ABC, the teachers who educate our children and that ever-expanding class we refer to as ‘academics’….all of whom could be described as ‘protected species’.
Tellingly, according to the ‘United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’ the total of direct foreign investment in China exceeded that in the USA for the first time in pre Covid 2019. There was a substantial fall in investment in climate obsessed Europe. The inflow to China increased by 4% as the inflow to the USA halved. This should be a wake up call.
We are witnessing the decline of Western Civilization, hamstrung by ideological commitment to the “Green New Deal’, ‘The Great Reset’ and ‘zero carbon by 2050’, all recipes for economic and social stagnation. We are being ‘led up the garden path’ by those who should know better. This is like the Dardanelles all over again. The hubris that is exhibited by the leaders of the ‘free world’ was also evident prior to the debacle of World War 1. John Kerry, the White House’s special envoy on climate, warned last week that the U.S. has less than a decade left to avoid the worst of a climate catastrophe instancing the cooling affecting Texas. Cooling, warming, its all the same to John. Its incredible that we have got to the stage that people who mouth this nonsense are given credence by the daily press.
Unless society is prepared to arrange for a massive transfer of wealth from those who are alarmed at changes in the climate, to those who have their noses closer to the grindstone, as has occurred to a limited extent during the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia, that could produce the worlds cheapest energy, via utilization of its coal reserves, is destined to suffer a collapse in the living standards, first for its non-public service employee division, and later, everyone. There are limits to what can be achieved by expanding the public debt and ‘quantitative easing’ of the money supply.
There is no substitute for independent thinking, grounded in observation. Is there a politician brave enough to tell the story as it is and risk condemnation by those obsessed with the ‘climate emergency’? The last federal election surprised us. A clear message came from rural and coal mining areas in Queensland and NSW. Will Her Majesty’s opposition continue to put forward policies that disadvantage traditional supporters to please the chatterati at the ABC (Invasion Day) and the Australian Financial Review (Green Finance). Will the opposition continue to lend credibility to the notion that the planet is endangered or can/will it come to its senses.
The conjunction of the words ‘climate’ and ‘science’ is insupportable and this has been the case for more than thirty years. So called ‘scientists’ that select data to support an agenda, are either naïve, or corrupt. This gives science a bad name. What happened to ‘impartiality’. We cant trust these people. There is a direct comparison with Lysenkoism in the Soviet Union.
The northern Hemisphere is currently experiencing the coldest winter in many decades. Tragically, when people most need electricity, they find that it is not available. Yes, the climate changes. Get used to it. Warming is not forever. Adapt. Listen to the engineers.
We should acknowledge that the last fifty years of ‘Climate Change’ has been beneficial. Warming in autumn, winter and spring is a great advantage. It lengthens the growing season. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is favourable to plant life. Necessarily, we must expect more fires in the dry season. Plants become fuel. The planet is greening.
Let us rid ourselves of this absurd notion that the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a problem.
It is time for a ‘Reset’. We can either manage the situation intelligently or wait for the inevitable explosion and then, with extreme difficulty, endeavor to pick up the pieces.
This post is dedicated to Philip Adams, one of the cleverest minds around, who should know better.