The map above is from here. Notice the peculiarly low surface pressure at 60-70° south latitude. Why? Has it always been there? Has it changed over time?

History is written in obituaries, and when it suits things are changed around according to the survivors point of view…..the old story about those who win the war get to write the story of the war.

Those currently at Oxford University, have written a history of atmospheric research carried out at the university viewable here.  It includes the following statement.

 G.M.B.Dobson (1889-1976)  Dobson was an experimentalist of unusual ingenuity who devoted much of his life to the observation and study of atmospheric ozone. The results were to be of great importance in leading to an understanding of the structure and circulation of the stratosphere. He came to Oxford in 1920 to take up the position of University Lecturer in Meteorology, having previously been Director of the Experimental Department at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, during the War. Together Lindemann and Dobson worked on studies of meteor trails, from which they deduced that the temperature profile above the tropopause was not constant – as simple theory would predict and the name ‘stratosphere’ implies – but rather that there was a region where temperature increased substantially with height.

Dobson inferred correctly that the cause of the warm stratosphere was heating by the absorption of ultraviolet solar radiation by ozone, and he set out to make measurements of the amounts and their variability. He decided to measure ozone by observing its absorption in the solar ultraviolet spectrum, as Fabry and Buisson had done a few years before. 

But Dobson did not believe that the cause of the warm stratosphere was heating by the absorption of ultraviolet solar radiation by ozone as we see in the personal account of his  life’s work investigating matters atmospheric  delivered here: The paper is entitled ‘Forty Years Research on Atmospheric Ozone at Oxford: a History’. On page 399 in the March 1968 / Vol. 7, No. 3 / APPLIED OPTICS Dobson writes:

The wartime measurements of the humidity of the upper atmosphere, showing that the stratosphere is very dry, were of interest in relation to the question of the equilibrium temperature of the stratosphere. The temperature of the stratosphere was generally regarded as being controlled by the absorption and emission of longwave radiation, the chief absorbing gases being water vapor, carbon dioxide, and ozone. If the air in the stratosphere were nearly saturated with water vapor, then water vapor would far outweigh the others in importance. When it was found that the stratosphere only contained a few percent of the water vapor required to saturate it, the picture appeared quite different and the three gases appeared to be of equal importance in determining the temperature of the stratosphere. Another interesting result to come out of the measurements with the frost point hygrometer was that there were often layers of very dry air quite low down in the troposphere, which must have descended from high in the troposphere if not from the stratosphere. The results of this wartime work were presented in the Bakerian Lecture of the Royal Society for 1945.

I want to call attention to Dobson’s observations and the notions that he developed about the properties of the stratosphere as the most influential element in the atmosphere, a product of the work of collating  measures of total column ozone from the global network of about 100 instruments  that he designed and built, securing the willing collaboration of interested individuals across the globe:

Dobson tells us:

  1. There were often layers of very dry air quite low down in the troposphere, which must have descended from high in the troposphere if not from the stratosphere.
  2. Chree,’ 2 using the first year’s results at Oxford had shown that there appeared to be a connection between magnetic activity and the amount of ozone, the amount of ozone being greater on magnetically disturbed days. Lawrence used the Oxford ozone values for 1926 and 1927 and in each year found the same relation as Chree had done. However, when he used the average ozone values for Northwest Europe-which should be less affected by local meteorological conditions-he found no relation at all, so it was concluded that both Chree’s results and his earlier ones had been accidental. This investigation has never been repeated.
  3. Ozone maps surface pressure. Specifically, low pressure cells exhibit the highest total column ozone and there is on average a 25% decline in total column ozone from the edge to the centre of a high pressure cell.

Point number 1 Is evidence that stratospheric air containing ozone is entrained in descending air in high pressure cells. As surface pressure falls in high latitudes it increases in a compensatory fashion in the mid latitudes, ozone implicated in the change via the intensification of polar cyclone activity. It is ozone in the descending column of a high pressure cell that can account for the increase in geopotential height at 250 hPa and 500 hPa. There is a well known relationship between geopotential height and surface temperature as you can verify here that is acknowledged in the reproduction below just in case that link is lost.

NOAA statement

The increase in geopotential height is due to atmospheric warming below the point of measurement. This warming is material to the evaporation of cloud.  This is both weather and natural climate change in action on daily and monthly time scales. Change in the weather involves a change in cloud albedo. Because the ozone content of the air depends primarily on dynamics at the winter pole surface temperature is most variable in January and July driven by the Arctic and the Antarctic respectively. The influence of the Arctic ensures maximum variability in January as far south as 30° south latitude while the Antarctic, with weaker flux in the ozone content of the air, at least on monthly time scales, is seen to produce the most intense variability of surface temperature in July. That variability is documented here. It represents the signature of change wrought by ozone imprinted on the surface temperature record. It’s the smoking gun of natural climate change.

In relation to point 2. The study of the relationship between ozone content of the air in the mid latitudes and magnetic activity pursued by Chree and Lawrence, but then abandoned at Oxford. Well, that relationship has continued to be investigated by others and has been confirmed. On that basis we should expect a 200 year cycle in climate change due to the influence of the solar wind.

In relation to point 3. Climate science today takes no cognizance of the relationship between ozone and surface atmospheric pressure. Accordingly, the planetary low in surface pressure at 60-70° south, a latitude that sees the greatest variability in surface pressure on inter-annual and centennial time scales remains unobserved and is therefore seen as unremarkable. Seventy years of decline in surface pressure south of latitude 50° south is not observed and its implications unrealised. The agent of surface pressure change, ozone, so far as climate research is concerned is a NO GO ZONE. If you search you will discover that orthodox opinion maintains that the movement of the air in the troposphere is responsible for the differences in ozone distribution in the lower stratosphere. This is a ‘clueless’ notion. The formation of cyclones absolutely requires a warm core. Polar Cyclones have their warm core aloft rather than at the surface. Upper level troughs are a product of the conjunction of air of contrasting densities.Low density is due to heating by ozone. Upper level troughs propagate to the surface when they are strong enough. Manifestly, they are strongest at 60-70° south latitude with winds as powerful as a category 5 tropical cyclone, even at the surface. This is the reason for the map at the head of this post….just in case you were wondering.

A failure to acknowledge the relationship between ozone and surface pressure might be considered to be akin to Lord Nelson’s resolve in the battle of Copenhagen when he famously raised his telescope to his blind eye refusing to ‘see’ the flag raised by his superior giving the order to withdraw. Following the successful pursuit of a bloody battle Nelson’s superior was dismissed. Nelson was appointed to command. His action in ignoring his superiors instructions might be seen as evidence of plain stupidity, reckless bravery on a heroic scale, or perhaps a scheming cupidity driven by plain ambition.

Dobson was succeeded as reader in Meteorology at Oxford by his long time collaborator Brewer and shortly after by Brewers post graduate student Houghton who went on to promote the notion that the carbon dioxide content of the air determines surface temperature going on to co-chair of the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change‘s (IPCC) scientific assessment working group. He was the lead editor of first three IPCC reports. Houghton was appointed professor in atmospheric physics at the University of Oxford,  Chief Executive at the Met Office and founded the Hadley Centre. This stellar career, coming as it does at the end of a period where Dobson engaged the attention and interest of observers world wide, might be compared to that of Nelson, albeit in a different field.

Did Houghton  appreciate the significance of what Dobson had discovered? I doubt it. His appreciation of atmospheric processes related to his study of physics and the desire to predict  atmospheric motions via mathematical analysis assuming a closed system. In effect, he ‘assumed away’ the causes of natural climate change, spent his time with theoretical abstractions, engaged in sophisticated mathematical analysis and showed little interest in any other possible drivers of the climate system. If you have no knowledge of alternative modes of climate action, when global temperature rises and you have a habit of mind that is Malthusian, as many do, its easy to assume that man’s activities are at fault. Paul Erlich and others were hard at work telling mankind that mindless growth in both industry and population must end badly. This was the intellectual fashion of the day amongst the shakers and movers of society. It persists today in the mindset of most if not all of the journalists in Australia’s ABC.

We see that  pioneering work done by capable people of integrity can go to nought when it does not suit the point of view of their successors. Frequently, one pursues a line of work designed to yield a result that is satisfactory from ones personal point of view. This situation applies to ‘scientists’ as much as others, and particularly those on the government payroll. Some of us are born missionaries. We have a ‘vocation’. Of course, there is also the money aspect. If the government is funding ones research the opportunity to support a politicians particular brand of ‘spin’ would/should/indeed MUST be considered. Some lines of inquiry are funded. Others not. There is an element of Darwin’s ‘natural selection’ in determining who gets to do what and where. Oxford is a nice place to work. Unfortunately, this process inevitably leads to mushrooming error. No, not just mushrooming but rather toad-stooling, or turd-stooling error.

It  would be better if governments  stopped funding scientific research and speculative activity that fails to attract the backing of cautious men of independent means. Yes, stopped, altogether, FULL STOP. Voters should regard politicians arguments with the utmost scepticism when they propose to interfere with market forces and promote a particular endeavour that is near and dear to their partisan hearts. Too often governments are kack-handed in their dispensations from the public purse and particularly so at election time. Governments trust too much in the words of those hand reared to advise them.  It is the prejudices of those whose hands grasp the public purse that we should concern ourselves with.We should regard scientists who are in the employ of governments and our governments in the singular and the plural with a healthy scepticism.

In the history of the activities of man, nowhere do we see the sort of miscarriage and waste on the scale wrought by the modern environmental movement in so very many fields of endeavour, from ‘town planning’, the pollution of the air, the sea and the sky involving the notion of ‘anthropogenic climate change’ and the ‘protection of the protective ozone layer’. The notion of ‘sustainability’ and the desire for the preservation of the status quo, including the preservation of buildings of historical significance, has become an excuse for foolishness on an epic scale.

The public waits in vain for a leader who will change the order of priorities.


9 thoughts on “29 THE ‘PURPOSE’ OF SCIENTISTS

  1. Nice Erl, at some point its worth some plain speak over just hammering the technical. I am getting a 3D picture in my head. Having said that I am currently looking at gas emissivity, ie although molecules can absorb IR they may not be efficient at emitting it. Lots of research like this abound. Eg,. Emissivity of the Main Greenhouse Gases A. E. Galashev and O. R. Rakhmanova, which indicates ozone is crap at emitting what it little it gets from IR. can the apparent ozone temperature signature come from NOx reactions/ destruction intead. After all IR is the resulting energy signature not actual temperature. An example is where I work, alumina oxide powder at over 150C looks same as cold until actually touching it, like polished stainless steel too. I think mesosphere is 1000’s C but due to very low preesure, the lack of molecules would still make it “feel” cold……but I am probably off topic. Cheers.


      1. I look at the problem from the inside out. From result back to cause. It is now well established that the Earth has a dominant mode of climate change and it is described by others here: http://www.atmos.colostate.edu/~davet/ao/introduction.html

        That mode of change is unrelated to CO2. There is no agreed explanation for what causes that mode of change. Whatever the cause actually is, it changes climate by shifting atmospheric mass from high latitudes in winter. One does not really have to be very smart to work out what causes that. One can see the change by studying atmospheric pressure, geopotential height, wind strength and direction and surface temperature because all mare affected.

        Unfortunately, few theorists are capable or actually interested in looking at the problem from result back to cause. To do that one needs to study the atmosphere intensively. If one begins with radiation theory its very likely that one will be there for a lifetime. We spend a lot of money on satellites to investigate the upper atmosphere but the really critical part to investigate and become familiar is the interaction zone where the stratosphere and the troposphere overlap. That’s between seven and 20 kilometres in elevation.

        It is enlightening to look at the flux in surface temperature by latitude. That’s coming up in the next chapter.


    1. Macha, my doubting Thomas. Theory is one thing, observation is another. If ozone absorbs infrared it is energised by it. It can not be energised in the first place unless it has a means of passing that energy on to other molecules. In terms of results I see increases in GPH that start from the top of the atmosphere in a stop start fashion over a period of days and weeks. These increases are time and location specific conforming to the distribution of ozone in winter.


  2. What climate Change? Not much seems to be happening other than seasonal type weather. https://kenskingdom.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/the-pause-update-june-2016/
    Depends on what one would deem as a “Change” I guess. In any case, is it good science practice to be a doubting Thomas ie sceptic? But be assured I will not let one theory in face of all others become my religion… I am still riding with you and promoting your sites where I se fit at those other CAGW CO2 heard following sites. Ps. Hailing here in Warnbro.


      1. Hi Macha, Good dose of hail here half an hour ago. Null school shows a detached low pressure zone travelling much further north than usual with lots of very cold polar air at below zero temperatures at 850 hPa. I have been looking at surface pressure at 60-67° south latitude and across Antarctica that is lower in June than at any time since 1948. Seems to be a very cold winter so far and this site confirms it http://www.weatherzone.com.au/station.jsp?lt=site&lc=9603&list=ds&of=of_a&ot=ot_a&mm=06&yyyy=2016&sub=go Maximum temperature in June almost 1°C cooler than normal. July so far 2° cooler than normal. Polar cyclone activity off Antarctica has been consistently vigorous since winter 2014.


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