From the outset let me say that my investigations suggest that the ‘Greenhouse Effect’ is not something that we have to contend with in atmospheric reality. There is another mode of climate change that appears to be responsible for the change in the temperature of the globe over the period of record. That mode of change is capable of explaining variations in both the short and long term in both directions,  both warming and cooling. It can explain warming in one place and simultaneous cooling in another. In short it is very well adapted to explain the climate changes that we observe from daily through to centennial time scales ……. and to do so, exclusively and completely.


Geopotential height is a measure of the elevation of a pressure level in the atmosphere. Low heights indicate low pressure zones where the lower atmosphere is dense and cool. High heights indicate a high pressure zone where the lower atmosphere is warm and relatively rarefied.

At a surface pressure of 1000 hectopascals (hPa) the 500  pressure level is located at 5 kilometres in elevation. The upper half of the column (above the 500 hPa level) runs from 5 km through to the limits of the atmosphere at about 350 km. But 98% of the upper portion is located between 500 hPa and the 10 hPa pressure level that is found at an elevation of just 30 kilometres. You can walk 30 km in six hours, jog there in three or get there by bicycle in an hour and a half. From a good vantage point in clean air you can see objects that are 30 km away. As surface dwellers we tend to imagine that the atmosphere is vast. Its not.

Below, we have a representation of the temperature of the atmosphere above the equator in 2015. Notice the location of the 500 hPa and the 10 hPa pressure levels, the gradual decline in temperature from the surface to the 100 hPa pressure level and the very gradual increase above that level. That temperature increase is due to the presence of ozone that, as a greenhouse gas, is excited by long wave radiation from the Earth. Importantly, the change in the temperature in the upper levels is not smooth, its perturbed, and if we were to look at the data across the years and decades we would see strong variability.

This is the situation at the equator where the influence of ozone cuts in at about 15 kilometres in elevation.At the poles it cuts in at half that elevation.

atmosphere over equator

Gordon Dobson who first used a spectrophotometer to measure Total Column Ozone noticed that the distribution of ozone varies with surface pressure. Specifically, the atmospheric column where surface pressure is low is composed of a lower portion that is cold and dense. Low pressure cells originate in high latitudes where the near surface air is cold and dense.  But, the upper portion is rich in ozone to the extent that the number of molecules in the entire column is reduced giving rise to low surface pressure. The paradox is that cold dense air in the lower part of the atmospheric column is accompanied by warmer, relatively less dense air aloft. It is the inflation of the upper half of the atmospheric column, due to its ozone content, that is responsible  for low surface pressure.

Based on Dobson’s observations we can suggest a rule of thumb. It is this: The variation in the density of the upper half of the atmospheric column, due to its ozone content, accounts for variations in surface atmospheric pressure. You might not realise it at this point but this observation turns climatology, as we know it today, precisely on its head. Let me reiterate the point in a different form of words. The ozone content of the upper air drives surface winds. Here is another formulation: The character of the troposphere is determined in the stratosphere.

This was the interpretation of the atmosphere that was gaining ground prior to the 1950’s. But the world of climate science turned from observation towards mathematical abstraction in the 1960’s and has never looked back to take into account observational realities.


High pressure cells are found mainly over the oceans in the mid latitudes. They create clear sky windows. The surface warms because more sunlight reaches the surface rather than being reflected by clouds. Surface pressure is high because of a deficiency in ozone in the more extensive upper half of the atmospheric column that is accordingly relatively dense. Despite relatively low density in the lower part of the column, the enhanced density of the upper half of the column renders the weight of the entire column, and therefore surface pressure, superior.

Surface pressure is intimately associated with surface weather and climate. Surface pressure governs the planetary winds. It follows that the planetary winds evolve according to change in the ozone content of the upper half of the atmospheric column. Yes, in the terms that we are fond of employing, the stratosphere is the troposphere. The stratosphere is where weather and climate is determined. As Gordon Dobson observed back in 1924, weather   evolves according to the ozone content of the air. But the significance of his observation  was lost on those who replaced him. His successors were not observers but ideologues. The account of climate science became a servant of people with a social agenda is told here.

Indeed, the relationship between geopotential height,  surface pressure and surface temperature is intimate. In 2002 Polanski  found that he could accurately reconstruct 500 hPa heights using just sea level pressure and surface air temperature data. He noted that the reconstruction  was more accurate in winter and in mid to high latitudes where variability in both surface temperature and pressure is greater. The reconstruction was less accurate in low latitudes and indeed wherever variability in surface temperature and pressure is low. You can see an account of Polanski’s research here:(http://research.jisao.washington.edu/wallace/polansky_thesis.pdf). This is an excellent instance of deduction from result back to cause. At this point, just remember that surface pressure, geopotential height and surface temperature are linked with surface temperature a product of pressure and geopotential height.


Now to the nitty-gritty of surface temperature variation….climate change:

The three maps below show:

  1. The spatial distribution of geopotential height anomalies in January 2015
  2. Anomalies in the temperature in the lower troposphere in January 2015
  3. Surface temperature anomalies in January 2015500hPa heightsLT Jan 2015

GISS Surface temperature January 2015Map Sources: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/maps/    http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/sotc/drought/2015/01/hgtanomaly-global-201501.gif, http://nsstc.uah.edu/climate/  http://nsstc.uah.edu/climate/

The first map shows geopotential height anomalies. The second map indicates that the lower troposphere is indeed anomalously warm where 500 hPa heights are anomalously elevated.  The third map indicates that the surface is anomalously warm where heights are anomalously elevated. Remember that high heights indicate a high pressure zone where the lower atmosphere is warm and relatively rarefied.This gives rise to a rule of thumb that accords with common sense and daily observation. The surface warms when atmospheric pressure increases, the air warms and cloud cover falls away. 

The question arises: What causes atmospheric pressure to increase in the mid latitudes. The short answer is a persistent shift in atmospheric mass from high latitudes, especially from the winter hemisphere where ozone proliferates reducing the density of the upper part of the atmospheric column and  so reducing surface atmospheric pressure. For those of you familiar with the notion of the ‘Annular Modes’ or its northern hemisphere manifestation, the ‘Arctic Oscillation’ or perhaps the North Atlantic Oscillation I am here describing the causation of all these phenomena. All involve a change in the relationship between surface pressure in the mid latitudes and that in high latitudes. These are recognised as the dominant modes of natural climate change on all time scales…..cause unknown!


The figure below shows the evolution of temperature at the surface, 600 hPa, 300 hPa and 200 hPa over the Indian Ocean between Africa and Australia at latitude 30-40° south over the period 1976 through till December 1990. In order to facilitate comparison at very different temperatures the data is shown as anomalies with respect to the 1948-2015 average.

Air T in a column

Source for both graphs, above and below: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

It is plain that the higher the elevation the more wildly does the temperature gyrate and not always in concert with the air at the surface.This is also apparent when we compare anomalies in temperature near the surface and at 600 hPa as seen below.Indian Ocean surface and 600hPa T

Plainly, the variation of the temperature at the surface does not explain the variations at 600 hPa. Temperature at 600 hPa is affected by the ozone content in the upper half of the atmospheric column. The ozone content of the stratosphere is determined in the upper atmosphere in interaction with the mesosphere (where the ozone content and the temperature of the air diminishes with increasing altitude) and the ionosphere where short wave solar radiation ionises the atmosphere making possible the formation of ozone and other compounds injurious to ozone).

Indeed, it is un-physical (an impossibility) that a small temperature increase at the surface could be responsible for a greater temperature increase aloft. The upper air is independently warmed by ozone that absorbs long wave radiation from the Earth. Warming and cooling of the air aloft is independent of change in the temperature of the air at the surface and the prime determinant of surface atmospheric pressure (our first rule of thumb) and surface temperature.

To reiterate: High pressure cells are characterised by down-draft.  Air can hold water vapour according to its temperature. Descending air is warming due to increasing compression. Descending air will not produce cloud. To the extent that the  atmospheric column has  cloud it will thin as the air warms.This is why our second rule of thumb works so well. To remind you here it is again: The surface warms when atmospheric pressure increases and cloud cover falls away. 

It follows that surface temperature in the mid latitudes,  a zone inhabited by high pressure cells, much subject to minute variations in surface pressure as atmosphere shifts to and from the poles , very much depends on the ozone content of the air aloft.


The explanation given for the origin of warming in the mid latitudes via loss of cloud cover does not explain warming in the total darkness of the polar night that is pretty obvious in the third diagram above. Why is it so? The mode of causation follows from the minute increase of pressure in mid latitudes and a dramatic fall in high latitudes. It involves the replacement of  cold with warm air. Lower surface pressure in higher latitudes and higher in the mid latitudes involves a change in the origin of the air that always flows from high to low pressure. The solar energy that accrues in low latitudes is constantly being redistributed to higher latitudes via the movement of the air. Exaggerate the movement from the equator to the pole by changing the surface pressure relationship and the pole warms.

The variation in the ozone content of the air in high latitudes, occurring in winter time is the source of change in cloud cover in the mid latitudes. It is also the origin of changes in the winds according to change in the pressure gradient between the equator and the pole. All we need to do to change the average temperature of the surface of the Earth is re-distribute the warmer air.


Dobson’s observation that surface weather varies with total column ozone is a vital clue that leads us to an explanation of the origins of the natural variation in climate. Accordingly we should look carefully at the influence of ozone on the temperature and density of the upper air. Specifically, we must ascertain the particular altitude at which the presence of trace amounts of ozone begins to affect the temperature of the air (and therefore cloud cover) and whether and to what extent that altitude varies with latitude? The answer will lead, in time, because nothing happens as quickly as we might like it to happen, to a revolution in our understanding of the Earth system upon which man depends for his sustenance.

If an increase in the ozone content of the upper air can cause the temperature of the air to increase at the surface of the planet on a month to month basis then we must examine the long term evolution of the ozone content of the air to explain surface temperature change on annual, decade and longer time scales. Equally, we can study the evolution of surface pressure over time that tells us where the wind is coming from. Or indeed, we can simply study the change that occurs in the speed of the wind because that is related to its ability to convey energy from warm to cool locations.These are the central concerns of this work.

Quantifying change due to natural causes is an essential pre-requisite  to the determination of whether in fact, as is widely believed, man is spoiling his nest via the emission of so called ‘greenhouse gases’.

It appears to me, via a close examination of the surface temperature record across the globe that there is no background level of temperature increase that is underpinning the temperature increase (and decrease) that varies so widely (and so naturally) according to hemisphere, latitude, location and season. That natural mode of change is what we need to explain.If we don’t, we will be at the mercy of of  those who want to attribute any and every change to the works of man in order to promote their own, in many instances, expensive and damaging agendas.






  1. @Erl Happ; Read your dissertation and find it very plausible as the explanation for the development of high and low pressure areas in the atmosphere. One small thing, The cause of the changes in the amount of Ozone. I have often felt that standard explanation for the creation of high and low pressure areas was defective. How does changes in the amount of Ozone Cause these pressure changes?
    Back in the early days of high atmospheric Ozone and Ozone holes, the cause of the depletion was thought to be the sunless cold. Then the present Ecoloons jumped on the Theory that man made Chlorinated hydrocarbons was the cause of Ozone depletion. It appears to me that energy levels in the atomic/molecular oxygen are directly tied to the amount of Ozone created and destroyed. O3 is more dense then O2 and occupies less space as a molecule…pg


    1. Hi PG Sharrow, Thanks for the communication.
      My answer:
      Firstly, ozone partial pressure changes with sun angle. The wave lengths responsible for the disassociation of ozone are attenuated as the sun sinks lower in the sky. Change the angle of the sun and you increase the number of ozone molecules in the path and use up that particular wave length just as the very short wave lengths that disassociate oxygen are almost completely removed above the stratopause and there is very little if any left at 10hPa. The result is an increase in ozone partial pressure with latitude.
      Secondly, ozone partial pressure varies according to the rate of chemical destruction by NOx flowing in from the mesosphere via the polar vortex situated directly over the pole.
      Re low pressure cells. There are three sources of energy to heat the air, reduce density and create uplift. The first is a warm planetary surface. The second is the release of latent heat in the creation of clouds and precipitation. The third is long wave energy from the planet that is absorbed by ozone and instantly transferred to the surrounding atmosphere. In high latitudes ozone is ubiquitous throughout the atmospheric column and in much higher concentrations than at lower latitudes. The result is a reduction in air density and the creation of the strongest winds to be found anywhere in the atmosphere, the polar arm of the jet stream also known as the polar vortex. The velocity of these winds increases with elevation reflecting the increasing presence of ozone. The result is not a localized greenhouse effect, it is convection. Low pressure cells convect the air upwards. If that air is removed to a location where it is entrained in a column of descending air it warms via contact. At the poles the air is warmer than the surface. Its temperature is not a response to the temperature of the surface. It is a response to the presence of ozone.
      It does not matter where in the atmospheric column ozone is present. So long as there is a gradient between low and high ozone content air there will be convection. Nowhere in the atmosphere do we see the steep gradients in ozone partial pressure as we see across the polar vortex. There is mesospheric air, low in ozone content within and high ozone content stratospheric air without. This creates instability.
      When a column of ascending air that forms at about 60-70° of latitude (where the vortex is located) moves towards the equator, we call it a polar cyclone…….a low pressure cell.

      If we released a stream of low density liquid into the upper half of a large bath of high density material the weight of the column above the floor of the bath would be reduced. If the supply of that low density material were to be maintained over a period of time we would see a convective circulation appear. Because polar cyclones move equator-wards and meet wet air travelling polewards the upwards motion is further fuelled by the release of latent heat tending to maintain the density differential.

      Is this your answer or have I missed the point?


  2. So now the UN will go back to saying we need regular conferences to renew the Montreal protocol. If they can’t have COP umpteen, they’ll have to top up there tans somehow.


  3. “The third is long wave energy from the planet that is absorbed by ozone and instantly transferred to the surrounding atmosphere. ”

    Why is the long wave radiation from the sun never used in theories about climate?
    https://climate.ncsu.edu/edu/k12/.LWSW (first image)

    Most of the long wave energy coming from the sun never reaches the surface, but warms the atmosphere. (the greenhouse effect acts on energy from both directions)

    This would especially be true for ozone and it’s influence on long wave from the sun.

    Serious question.


    1. You are right. Both incoming and outgoing excite ozone. However, by the time the entire energy from the sun across a very wide spectrum of wave lengths exits the earth it is consolidated into a very much smaller spectrum of wave lengths carrying the same amount of energy as incoming radiation and these wave lengths are very close to the 9-10um lengths that excite ozone. So the potential for heating is one hell of a lot greater from the larger energy pool in the right spectrum that is exiting.

      Same sort of consideration applies when we compare the small amount of energy coming in as short wave to heat the stratosphere by comparison with the consolidated thrust of outgoing in just the right sort of configuration to be effective in heating ozone. Consider the difference between a punch on the nose by comparison with the impact of an entire body falling on you from above.


      1. I wouldn’t worry Erl. The ex-TV weatherman knows about as much about the mesosphere and stratospheric ozone as he does about astrophysics and orbital resonance.


      2. Not sure what sort of ‘ologist’ he is. A meteorologist would have been better equipped to discuss the substance of the matter. TV weather man perhaps. Skilled in lots of other areas. But the desire is obvious. Perhaps something related to CENSOR…..Got it. ‘Censologist’.


  4. Hi Erl,

    I am aware that ozone creates the tropopause by reversing the lapse rate gradient above that point so that convection in the tropopause can rise no further.

    However, I’m not aware of ozone in the troposphere as having any effect on the formation of low or high pressure cells in the way that you suggest.

    Changing the amount of ozone in the stratosphere will indeed warm the stratosphere and lower the tropopause or cool the stratosphere and raise the tropopause but the convective cells beneath the tropopause come and go or wax and wane solely as a result of uneven surface heating causing density differentials in the horizontal plane which then leads to convective overturning between surface and tropopause.

    You seem to be saying that ozone in the upper portion of the tropopause controls the formation of high and low pressure cells in the lower part of the tropopause rather than uneven surface heating.

    Is that really what you are suggesting ?


    1. Welcome Stephen, its good to have your participation. In order to progress the discussion we need to define what latitude you are referring to and come to an agreement as to whether there exists a tropopause and a troposphere at that latitude, and if so where exactly these things manifest. Have you had a close look at chapter 4? Can we discuss the matter in that context…..in terms of the specific latitude that you have in mind?


  5. Thanks Erl.

    I’ve just found Chapter 4 which is quite lengthy so I’ll spend a little time digesting it and then respond.

    When we last communicated a few years ago there was some overlap between our points of view but eventually I was unable to persuade you about a couple of my contentions.

    We both agreed about the importance of ozone in the stratosphere, the polar vortices and other matters but we differed about the way it all fits together.

    No doubt we have both moved on and refined our respective accounts so it will be interesting to try and narrow down the differences and sort out which is the more accurate perspective.

    In any event our consideration of such matters (IMHO) puts us both ahead of the current climate establishment.

    I note a few ‘odd’ statements in your Part 3 which may have provoked Anthony Watts but I’ll try to look behind them to ascertain the broader thrust of your arguments rather than picking on what may be simple differences in terms of expression.

    Here’s to an interesting ride 🙂


  6. Stephen that’s really positive approach. Anthony was not forthcoming so I have no idea what caused him the pain but perhaps it was things like this:
    ‘You might not realize it at this point but this observation turns climatology, as we know it today, precisely on its head. Let me reiterate the point in a different form of words. The ozone content of the upper air drives surface winds. Here is another formulation: The character of the troposphere is determined in the stratosphere.’

    If he can’t or won’t tell me I can’t know what’s causing the pain.

    When approaching a subject as complex as this it’s very difficult to carry people with you in the early stages. There is so much that is foreign to the current way of thinking that the thesis is in danger of being dismissed out of hand at first or second glance.

    Here is a glimpse of what will unfold as the exposition continues.

    The key to it all (weather, and climate change) is the increasing proportion of the atmospheric column that is demonstrably affected by the presence of ozone between the intertropical convergence and the poles. The evidence is in the changing lapse rate of temperature with altitude. Precipitation flattens the lapse rate close to the surface and ozone flattens it aloft. At 60-70° south latitude the presence of ozone results in so much atmospheric heating in so much of the upper part of the atmospheric column as to produce the lowest surface pressures, the greatest uplift throughout the deepest extent of the atmospheric column that, in consequence, winds reach the intensity of a category 5 tropical cyclone. Wind speed increases with elevation from the surface into the upper stratosphere. This phenomenon we know as a polar cyclone that has a cold core at the surface and a warm core in the stratosphere. Only a warm core can cause the reduction in density that results in cyclogenisis. This insight is critical to understanding the role of the stratosphere.

    Chapter 4 is vital. Its difficult, but essential.


  7. Hi Earl, I just joined and like what I have read. only comment I have is your charting of NOAA temperature datasets. I have alos read a lot of ther bloggers that seem to show the data has been heavily adjusted, In-filled and homogenised. So Garbage in euals garbage out. Any comments. Macha


    1. Hi Macha, thanks for taking an interest. Re adjusting datasets: It doesn’t matter a jot. You cant adjust out the 15 millibar fall in Antarctic surface pressure since 1948. You cant adjust out the massive peak in temperature variability that manifest between the Arctic and 30° south latitude in January and February every year or the peak in variability that manifests in between 30° south latitude and the Antarctic in July and August each year. You cant adjust out the increase in the temperature of the Antarctic stratosphere up to 1978 and its gradual decline since. You cant adjust out the massive deficit in surface pressure at 60-70° south latitude created by Polar cyclones driven by ozone heating above 500 hPa. If one wants to know how the climate engine works to change surface temperature these are the things that sure and certain indicate that polar atmospheric processes are the main driver of change in wind and temperature at the surface of the planet. Parts of a degree, one way or the other are, or should be, irrelevant.

      The challenge is to educate the public about the really esoteric matter of how the ozone content of the stratosphere is actually determined. Climate science has no explanation of the origin of Polar Cyclones or the ‘annular modes’, no clues as to why the southern hemisphere has less ozone than the northern, is bogged down in the notion of ‘planetary waves’ rising from below and driving temperatures aloft…….stupid stuff. A planetary wave is just the pattern that is generated by the conjunction of low and high pressure cells. And the major dynamic that determines the pattern of surface pressure is that which drives Polar Cyclones. All else is reactive.

      Climate science is aware that there is some sort of ‘coupling of the stratosphere and the troposphere’ that drives the annular modes phenomenon. But, there is no troposphere where the action happens…..oh really!


  8. Thanks for prompt reply. I like where you are going with this a lot, although I disagree with some…perhaps the wording. Eg. Variability actually can be adjusted if you are unaware of raw data manipulations going on behind the scene. Eg. Steven Goddard blog shows plenty of temperature adjustments going on at NASA, NOAA, etc. and others, as noted by jonova, find the same here in Australia with BOM records. The point I make is that relationships will only hold true if we are sure of their primary validity. This is especially so if the data is collected by someone else. Its a high level of trust or faith to use it for another purpose such as trending or anomoly. Hence, is it irrelevant if the raw data is pressure or temperature if its been manipulated without your knowledge. This is currently a topical subject with the alarmists now trying to discredit the satellite data (Uha, rss). Oddly no mention of discrediting balloon data (yet?). Anyway, that aside, your work flows logically. as I am an industrial chemist and a CAGW-due to CO2 sceptic, I have a strong affinity with your proprosed theory over those from IPCC crowd. We all know the issues with cause and effect relationships, so nice to see you play out the connectivities. Cheers, macha.


  9. Hi Macha,
    The sort of variability I am talking about is so great that its orders of magnitude greater than the little fiddles done to create the impression of increasing global temperatures. See chapters 7 and 8. There I relate the way that temperature has evolved to the causes of that evolution. I am not talking tenths of a degree C but multiple degrees. The pattern of change is primary evidence of the mode of change. That’s where the argument should be taken. Unfortunately, most sceptics believe that there is an anthropogenic effect so the argument is lost before it actually gets under-way. To break the issue wide open one needs to adequately explain the change that has taken place…..not in terms of a global average but in terms of the disparate trends that are actually observed.

    Governments will always back their agencies in arguments with citizens and the Courts will back governments.


  10. Is this how solar cycles affect the climate? it is known that while TSI only changes by 0.1% ultraviolet can change a lot, would this affect the levels of ozone in our atmosphere


    1. Hi Stuart. Your comment is welcome.
      TSI changes very little. Short wave UV changes slightly over the sunspot cycle. Solar wind goes up and down on both much shorter and much longer time scales.

      Ozone has an annual pulse in the winter hemisphere that aligns with surface temperature change. All the factors behind variations in that ozone pulse are yet to be identified. Its complex. But one of the factors is likely to be the solar wind that shares a 80-100 year cycle with the apparent flux in surface atmospheric pressure in high southern latitudes.

      I think its significant that the inter-annual variation in surface temperature in the particular month where it varies most can exceed the extent of change seen over the last seven decades.


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