Fig. 1 Sea surface atmospheric pressure in January Source here

Even in the height of summer we see a marked trough in surface pressure on the margins of Antarctica, a product of polar cyclone activity driven by differences in the ozone content of the air and resulting differences in air density. Of course, the contrast  between the coldness of the ice bound continent and air from the mid latitudes also helps but at 200 hPa where these cyclones are generated the contrasts seen at the surface are less apparent. Surface contrasts probably assist in allowing the upper air troughs to propagate to the surface but where these contrasts don’t exist as in Arctic summer the propagation from upper air troughs to the surface to create a polar cyclone still occurs.

January pressure
Fig 2

In winter atmospheric pressure increases in the mid latitudes of the southern hemisphere increasing the differential pressure between the mid latitudes and 60-70° south. Surface pressure over Antarctica hits a planetary maximum.

July pressure
Fig. 3  Source of data for FIgs 2 and 3  here:

Figures 2 and 3 show the swings in pressure that are part of the annual cycle and the evolution of pressure over time. Mainstream climate science (is there any other) has yet to realise the importance, let alone account for the cause of that massive deficit in surface pressure in the ocean about the margins of Antarctica. ‘Climate science’ is yet to become aware  of the cumulative effect of the decadal slips in surface pressure and is incapable of making the connection with the ‘annular modes phenomenon’ or working out that the atmosphere is driven from the poles rather than the equator, let alone working out the mechanisms involved.in change. Perhaps this is because the bulk of the land mass and the population of the globe together with most of the money is in the northern hemisphere and perhaps because the Earth is round the incumbents can not see over the equatorial horizon?


SLP 80-90S by month
Fig. 4 Source of data here.

In FIG 4 the year to year variability is perhaps due to change in the rate of intake of mesospheric air into the stratosphere as it modulates the partial pressure of ozone above the 300 hPa pressure level.  The change in surface pressure  is greatest in Antarctica but it  impacts the global atmosphere from pole to pole. The southern hemisphere vortex is most influential in determining the ozone content of the air between June and November and the northern vortex between November and April.

AO and AAO
Fig 5 Source of data here.

The Arctic Oscillation and the Antarctic Oscillation indices are proxies for surface pressure over the pole. As they fall, we know that surface pressure rises over the pole. We see in fig. 5 above that a rise in the AAO, signalling a fall in surface pressure in the Antarctic forces an increase in surface pressure in the Arctic between June and November whereas the weaker, poorly structured and migratory northern vortex seems to be incapable of the same performance when it is active in northern winter. Perhaps our measurement  settings are not capturing it adequately.

The replacement of low ozone content air with high ozone content air consequent on a stalling of the intake of mesospheric air brings an increase in the temperature of the stratosphere. The greater the elevation the greater is the increase in temperature, a natural product of the fact that ozone is the agent of convection and it is ozone rich air that is lifted to the limits of the atmosphere.   This amplified response is documented at 80-90° south latitude in figure 6 below.

T of Sth Strat at 80-90S Lat
Fig 6 Source of data here.

Plainly, the largest response to an increasing presence of ozone is at the highest elevations. There has been a fundamental change in the temperature profile over the polar cap with a massive shift  from 1976 to 1978. Note that prior to this date the temperature at 10 hPa was little different to that at 200 hPa. The 200 hPa level is Jet stream altitude.What happens at 200 hPa determines the synoptic situation and is reflected at lower altitudes albeit, softened and smoothed due to the fact that not all activity at 250 hPa propagates all the way to the surface. Upper level troughs are cyclones that are insufficiently strong to  propagate all the way to the surface.But the point to be aware of is that the temperature profile between 200 hPa and 10 hPa is fundamental to the dynamics determining the movement of the atmosphere over the pole that relates to the timing of the final warming.


Another way to assess the impact on the Antarctic stratosphere is via a whole of period assessment of temperature variability at 10 hPa according to the month of the year. To examine this each months temperature is ordered from highest to lowest regardless of the year attached to the data and the difference between the highest and lowest is derived. That difference is graphed In Fig. 7

Variability in 10hPa temp by latitude
Fig 7 Source of data here.

It is plain from  Fig 7 that in the period between 1948 and 2015 temperature variability in high southern latitudes is greatest between July and October. At lower latitudes variability is strongest in June or at the start of the year. The skew towards October reflects the impact of a developing ozone hole below 50 hPa that is forced by the intake of troposphere air containing the ozone destroyer, NOx that is drawn in laterally between 100 hPa  and 50 hPa like a gradually tightening hangman’s noose that by September occupies the entire polar cap. Very cold air drawn in from the equatorial upper stratosphere is as cold as air from the mesosphere but it has more NOx, a catalyst for the destruction of ozone. This produces a severe contrast in ozone partial pressure and air density across the vortex, generates intense polar cyclone activity and drives surface pressure at 60-70° south to its annual minimum when the hole is fully established.

the ozone hole
Fig 8 Source of data here

Fig. 8 shows NOx at 50 hPa . By 15th October 2015 NOx has destroyed all ozone between 100 hPa and 50 hPa as we see at left in Fig 9 below in terms of the distribution of ozone. The light blue line defines the position of the vortex at 50 hPa.

12th Oct
Fig 9 Source of data at left and right 

In  Fig 9,  above at right, the dotted black line represents  ozone prior to the establishment of the hole while the purple line shows the temperature profile at that time. The red line shows that temperature increases as the hole establishes in stark contrast with the narrative of those who promote the story that man is responsible for the hole, a natural feature of the polar atmosphere in spring. Big Green prefers ‘unnatural’ and it would muddy the narrative if they had to admit that the hole is a natural consequence of atmospheric dynamics.

The contrast between cold air devoid of ozone and warm air from the mid latitudes that is rich in ozone at 60° south seen in figure 9 at left drives intense polar cyclone activity giving rise to a springtime minimum in surface atmospheric pressure as seen in figure 10. It was there in 1948 but more so in November. As surface pressure has fallen and ozone partial pressure has increased the minimum is a month earlier.

SLP 60-70°S
Fig. 10 Source of data here.

The winter maximum in surface pressure seen in Fig 10 now occurs earlier than it did in 1948.

Below we see that the climate shift of 1976-8 shows up in the comparison between sea surface temperature and the temperature of the air 200 hPa (where ozone warms the air) at 25-35° south latitude. This represents enhanced ozone propagating across the latitude bands at the time of the 1976-8 climate shift, a shift that simultaneously intensified the Aleutian low in the North Pacific, the dominant low pressure, ozone rich area in the northern hemisphere with knock on effects across the Pacific and North America.

Fig 10 Source of data here

The increase in the temperature at 200 hPa produces an increase in geopotential height. There is a well established relationship between GPH and surface temperature as acknowledged and demonstrated in the paragraph below from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under the heading ‘Temperatures’. What a title!

NOAA statement

In this way the ozone content of the atmosphere is linked to the synoptic situation, the generation of the jet stream, upper level troughs and polar cyclones. Polar cyclones are the most vigorous and influential elements in the circulation of the atmosphere and the prime determinant of the rate of energy transfer from torrid equatorial to frigid high latitudes because they determine the pressure gradient between the equator and the pole. The warm moist westerly winds emanating from tropical rain forests pass by the high pressure systems of the mid altitudes and drive pole-wards warming the surface and giving rise to precipitation in ‘fronts’.

If the jet stream loops towards the equator cold dry polar winds sweeps equator-wards bringing near freezing conditions to mid and even low latitudes. Orange Orchards in subtropical Florida can be frosted. Cold Antarctic Air has been known to sweep northwards into Brazil. If polar atmospheric pressure increases the mid latitudes cool due to this influence and also due to increased cloud cover under high pressure systems as geopotential heights fall away with the ozone content of the air.

The progressive loss of atmospheric mass in high southern latitudes over the last seventy years has added mass to the mid altitudes and enhanced the westerly wind flow while opening up the sky to admit more solar radiation thereby warming the oceans. The result has been a marked warming of the air in high southern latitudes centred on those months where this natural variability occurs, primarily between Jun and the ozone hole months of the Antarctic springtime. See Fig 11 below.

A peculiarity  in the Antarctic record is the cooling experienced in summer over the last seventy years. The Arctic forces atmospheric mass into  high southern latitudes as it becomes ozone-active in the months November through to February keeping the westerlies at bay in the summer season giving rise to cooling in high southern latitudes.

Fig 11 Source of data here


SLP Antarctica
Fi 12 source of pressure data here

Sunspot numbers: Source: WDC-SILSO, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels


The decline of surface pressure at 80-90° south latitude is punctuated with oscillations between regimes of relatively high surface pressure that are on average about 3.5 years apart with twenty such occurrences in the last sixty nine years and an equivalent number of periods of low surface pressure. The amplitude of the swings varies little within a solar cycle but secular change seems to occur between solar cycles. Change points seem to be associated with solar minimum.

If we now superimpose the data for surface pressure  in the high Arctic we have Fig. 13:

Polar SLP
Fig 13


  • Over time we see a shift of atmospheric mass from the poles and a gain of mass in the region of the East Asian High pressure zone. In fact atmospheric mass is likely to accrue everywhere except in high latitudes above 50° where polar cyclones, energised by increase in the partial pressure of ozone force pressure reductions. This process has fundamentally changed the parameters of the climate system. Changed, not ‘warped’ because warping suggests something unnatural and change is a natural and ongoing process. The change in 1976-8 involved a marked drop in Antarctic surface pressure that forced an increase in Arctic surface pressure regardless of the increase in global ozone at that time. The change in surface pressure has been continuous and  frequently abrupt and in particular either side of the relatively spotless cycle 20. There is a change of slope between 21 and 22 that is common to both hemispheres.
  • The evolution of surface pressure is characteristically different in different solar cycles
  • In solar cycle 18 Antarctic atmospheric pressure is superior to that in the Arctic. This superiority disappears in solar cycle 19, the strongest of recent times.
  • The very strong solar cycle 19 saw a steep fall in atmospheric pressure over Antarctica and also over East Asia but a compensating increase in pressure in the Arctic.
  •  The weak solar cycle 20 that nevertheless exhibited strong solar wind activity, saw a fall in atmospheric pressure at the poles that proceeded ‘hand in hand’  and a strong compensatory increase in surface pressure over the Eurasian continent.
  • The climate shift of 1976-8 involved a departure from the norm of the previous solar cycle 19 in that extreme falls in atmospheric pressure over Antarctica produced short term mirror image increases in Arctic surface pressure. Antarctic pressure still declined at much the same rate as it had over cycle 20 prior to the climate shift of 1976-8 .
  • Cycle 22 sees a recovery in Antarctic pressure and a compensatory collapse in Arctic pressure now establishing at the lowest level seen in the entire 69 year period bringing on the period of strong  advance  in Arctic temperature and loss of sea ice.
  • The onset of further declines in Antarctic pressure in cycle 23 allowed a recovery in Arctic pressure that, despite stepping to a higher level at the start of the cycle, declined over the period. Mirror image effects are again apparent.
  • Cycle 24 brings a brief recovery in Antarctic pressure at the expense of the Arctic where the peaks decline quickly as successive minimums in Antarctic  pressure (except the last) are higher than the previous minimum.
  •  After solar maximum in cycle 24 the decline in surface pressure in Antarctica is spectacular involving  greatly enhanced polar cyclone activity  perhaps due to enhanced ozone production due to  increased  cosmic ray activity as solar cycle 24  enters the decline phase. Reduced sunspot and flare activity  is responsible for a very compact atmosphere that may react more vigorously to the solar wind.
  • The peak in Eurasian surface pressure occurred about 1998 and a slow decline appears to have set in.

Generalising we can say that surface pressure and surface temperature appears to be linked to solar activity but in a fashion that is completely different to the narrative that insists that ‘total solar irradiance’ is the the only factor of importance. Rather, the driver of natural change in climate  works by changing the planetary winds and cloud cover via polar atmospheric dynamics that are closely linked to the flux in the ozone content of the air. Since 1978 the swings in surface pressure in Antarctica have been vigorous suggesting that a more compact atmosphere reacts more strongly to change in the solar wind and that cosmic rays that are enhanced in a regime of low solar activity may be more influential in ionising the polar atmosphere allowing the generation of ozone and especially so  during periods where the intake of mesospheric air is disrupted and the polar stratosphere warms. It is apparent that the ozone content of the air in high latitudes peaks in late winter/spring  even though the lifetime of ozone in the atmosphere is progressively shortened due to the increase in the incidence of destructive UVB radiation as the sun rises higher in the sky and the earths orbit takes it closer to the sun. Something has to account for that extra ozone. Climate science does not even pose the question, let alone answer it.

The ‘canary in the coalmine’ that indicates the change in the forces at work can be seen in extreme surface temperature variability in February and July. These months exhibit the greatest differences in terms of the whole of period  minimum and whole of period maximum in surface pressure as seen below. It is the months of January and July that exhibit the greatest variability in surface temperature. We see that in the sphere of natural climate change, surface pressure and surface temperature are inextricably linked. But, then again we always knew that by looking at the weather from week to week.

SLP varn Antarctica
Fig 14

The evolution of Antarctic surface pressure by the month is explored in the third diagram in this chapter. It appears that the system is at a turning point. Eight of the twelve months of the year, including the critical months under the control of the Antarctic and later the Arctic, from August through to February  show signs of a rise in surface atmospheric pressure. If this continues and the  ozone content of the global atmosphere continues to fall, and with it the temperature of the upper stratosphere we might sometime witness a reversal of the climate shift of 1976-8.

TEST QUESTIONS related to Fig.15: Have you understood this chapter?

Why is it that the Antarctic stratosphere above 150 hPa warms faster than the  atmosphere below 150 hPa in spring?

Why do we see the abrupt change in slope in the temperature of the air above 70 hPa in November?

Why does temperature between the surface  and 400 hPa decline at an invariable rate between April and August while the atmosphere above becomes increasingly colder?

What is the temperature at the tropopause in August and at what elevation is it located?

Fig. 15


POSTSCRIPT:   For the convenience of the reader I list the chapters in this treatise in order to provide an idea of the scope of the work and the manner of its development. At the end is a list of chapters currently in preparation.


How the Earth warms and cools in the short term….200 years or so…the De Vries cycle

Links to chapters 1-38

  1. HOW DO WE KNOW THINGS Surface temperature is intimately tied to the global circulation of the air and the distribution of cloud.Ozone is inextricably linked to surface pressure and cloud. The key to unlocking the cause of climate change lies in observation.
  2. ASSESSING CLIMATE CHANGE IN YOUR OWN HABITAT On accessing and manipulating data to trace the way climate changes regionally. It is essential to understand the manner in which the globe warms and cools if one is to correctly diagnose the cause.
  3. HOW THE EARTH WARMS AND COOLS NATURALLY It is observed that the surface warms when geopotential height increases. This chapter answers the question why geopotential height increases.
  4. THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE STRATOSPHERE  Answers the question ‘at what elevation does the incidence of ozone cut in as a means for heating the atmosphere thereby creating what has been erroneously described the ‘stratosphere’. In winter its anything but stratified. It should be renamed ‘The Startosphere’.
  5. THE ENIGMA OF THE COLD CORE POLAR CYCLONE High latitude cyclones are the most vigorous circulations on the planet. At the surface they have a cold core. Their warm core is in the upper troposphere where the ozone impinges. No cyclone can form without a warm core.
  6. THE POVERTY OF CLIMATOLOGY Geopotential height at 200 and 500 hPa vary together in the extra-tropical latitudes. Furthermore, the increase in geopotential height that accompanies the surface pressure change is accompanied by a loss of cloud cover. All ultimately relate to the changing flux of ozone in the upper half of the atmospheric column in high latitudes.
  7. SURFACE TEMPERATURE EVOLVES DIFFERENTLY ACCORDING TO LATITUDE Surface temperature change is a two way process that occurs at particular times of the year.
  8. VOLATILITY IN TEMPERATURE. Temperature change is a winter phenomenon, increasing in amplitude towards the poles
  9. MANKIND IN A CLOUD OF CONFUSION Our understanding of the atmosphere is primitive.
  10. MANKIND ENCOUNTERS THE STRATOSPHERE. The origin of the stratosphere was a mystery back in 1890 and we still haven’t got it right.
  11. POPULATION, SCARCITY AND THE ORGANISATION OF SOCIETY. A dispassionate view of the Earth, considering its ability to promote plant life, sees the planet as distinctly cooler than is desirable.
  12. VARIATION IN ENERGY INPUT DUE TO CLOUD COVER. The atmosphere mediates the flow of solar energy to the surface of the planet via change in cloud cover. How could this be overlooked?
  13. THE PROCESSES BEHIND FLUX IN CLOUD COVER. A discussion of some of the intricacies involved in the relationship between surface pressure, cloud cover and the uptake of energy by the Earth system.
  14. ORGANIC CLIMATE CHANGE A discussion of the big picture that focuses on the natural sources of climate change.
  15. SCIENCE VERSUS PROPAGANDA The scare campaign about ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’ is not based on science. Science demands observation and logic.  There is a ‘disconnect’ between observed change and the hypothesis put forward to explain it. One cannot ‘do science’ in the absence of accurate observation. What is being promoted as ‘Climate Science’ by the UNIPCC fails at the most basic level.
  16. ON BEING RELEVANT AND LOGICAL Climate scientists freely admit they do not know what lies behind surface temperature change that is natural in origin that expresses itself regionally and with large differences according to latitude i.e. the annular modes (Arctic and Antarctic Oscillations). In that circumstance it is nonsense to attribute change to the influence of man. There is an error in logic. But, its wilful.
  17. WHY IS THE STRATOSPHERE WARM Is the warmth of the stratosphere due to the interception of ultraviolet radiation or heating due to the interception of long wave radiation from the Earth? This issue is fundamental. Observation provides the answer.
  18. THE OZONE PULSE, SURFACE PRESSURE AND WIND The direction and intensity of the wind and the distribution of ozone is closely related. This chapter gives an introduction to the nature and origin of the annular modes phenomenon.
  19. SHIFT IN ATMOSPHERIC MASS AS A RESULT OF POLAR CYCLONE ACTIVITY The distribution of ozone maps surface pressure. When the partial pressure of ozone builds pressure falls locally and is enhanced elsewhere.
  20. THE DISTRIBUTION OF ATMOSPHERIC MASS CHANGES IN A SYSTEMATIC FASHION OVER TIME Surface pressure changes on long time schedules. UNIPCC climate science is oblivious to these changes and the consequences attached to the change.
  21. THE WEATHER SPHERE-POWERING THE WINDS. The strongest winds can be found at the overlapping interface of the troposphere and the stratosphere and we haven’t yet worked out why or what it means when change occurs at that interface.
  22. ANTARCTICA: THE CIRCULATION OF THE AIR IN AUGUST An introduction to the structure and dynamics of the atmosphere in high latitudes
  23. THE DEARLY BELOVED ANTARCTIC OZONE HOLE, A FUNCTION OF ATMOSPHERIC DYNAMICS. The celebrated ‘hole’ is actually a natural feature of the Antarctic atmosphere in spring and has always been so. It’s dictated by geography and process during the final warming.
  24. SPRINGTIME IN THE STRATOSPHERE More detail on the natural processes responsible for the ozone hole.
  25. WHERE IS OZONE? PART 1 IONISATION. The structure of the upper atmosphere is dictated by process. Hand waving is no substitute for observation.
  26. WHERE IS OZONE PART 2 EROSION More on the processes responsible for the structure of the atmosphere in high latitudes and in particular the manner in which tongues of air of tropical origin are drawn into the polar circulation.
  27. COSMIC RAYS, OZONE AND THE GEOPOTENTIAL HEIGHT RESPONSE Observation and logic suggest that both the solar wind and cosmic rays are independently influential in determining the partial pressure of ozone in high latitudes. No other possibility is remotely plausible.
  28. MISREPRESENTING THE TRUTH Ozone, not UV radiation warms the upper air in winter
  29. THE PURPOSE OF SCIENTISTS History is re-interpreted continuously to suit the purposes of elites. Science is moulded in that same way by virtue of the fact that the elites hold the purse strings. All is ‘spin’.
  30. THE CLIMATE SHIFT OF 1976-1980. The nitty gritty of how climate changes together with the basics of a theory that can explain the natural modes of variation. Observation and theory brought together in a manner that stands the test of common sense.
  31. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE HEMISPHERES: THE ORIGIN OF STRATOSPHERIC WARMINGS. Unfortunately climate science has a lot to learn. It has to begin with observation rather than mathematical abstractions. In fact, it’s best to keep the mathematicians at arms length.
  32. THE CLIMATE ENGINE THAT IS THE OZONOSPHERE . The atmosphere re-defined to take account of the critical processes that determine its movements and thereby the equator to pole temperature gradient. Takes a close look at processes inside and outside the winter time polar vortex. The system is the product of the distribution of ozone.
  33. SURFACE PRESSURE AND SUNSPOT CYCLES .  This chapter looks at the evolution of surface pressure and how it relates to solar activity. It explores the nature of the interaction between the atmosphere at the northern and southern poles.
  34. WEATHER ORIGINATES IN THE OZONOSPHERE Takes the focus to a regional and local perspective to answer the question as to why the mid latitudes of the southern hemisphere have been colder in winter of 2016.
  35. JET STREAMS Compares and contrasts two quite different explanations for the strong winds that manifest where the troposphere and the stratosphere overlap.
  36. JET STREAMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE Looks at some great work that measures the ozone content of the air across the northern hemisphere and sets up a classification in a novel fashion, by zone of commonality rather than latitude. Relates the distribution of ozone to the occurrence of the subtropical and polar jet streams.  Zones of surprisingly uniform ozone content lie between the jets, and both pole-wards and equator-wards of the jets. Tropopause height steps down at the latitude of the jets creating marked contrasts in atmospheric density. This is a very useful and rock solid survey of great importance given the relationship between ozone and surface pressure.
  37. THE HISTORY OF THE ATMOSPHERE IN TERMS OF UPPER AIR TEMPERATURE An examination of temperature dynamics at the 10 hPa pressure surface over the poles.Critical to understanding the evolution of climate over the period of record.
  38. E.N.S.O. RE-INTERPRETED. The origin of the El Nino Southern Oscillation phenomenon and why the matter is of little consequence.


Here is how would I explain the Earth’s natural modes of climate change to a child!

Let us consider the Earth as a car. We are at some latitude (like being in the back or the front seat of a car). Let’s imagine we have the heater in the front of the car and a vent over the back seat. You can open and close the vent and turn it to the front to scoop in air or to the back and suck air out of the car. So, the cold air from the vent can blow straight down the back of your neck or you can turn the vent around so that it sucks air out of the car so that the warm air from the engine travels to the back of the car.

Ozone heats the air in winter creating polar cyclones that lower surface pressure at the pole attracting a flow of air from the equator. More ozone = lower surface pressure in high latitudes = wind blows more often from the equator. Less ozone= higher surface pressure at the pole= wind from equator does not come. Instead, a cold wind comes from the pole similar to what would happen if you turned the vent in the car roof so it faced forwards.

The second way in which ozone changes surface temperature is by changing cloud cover. Because ozone is mainly present in the upper air and it ascends strongly at the poles in winter it has to come down somewhere else. Where it  descends it warms the air and evaporates cloud letting the sun shine through to be absorbed by the ocean that acts like a battery because it stores energy.  Full dense cloud  curtails solar radiation by as much as 90%.

The climate varies by warming and cooling  in winter. It is in winter that we see the big changes in 1. Polar surface pressure, 2. The ozone content of the air 3. The direction of the wind and hence  the temperature at the surface.

Change can be two way, both warming and cooling.

Ozone is inextricably linked to surface pressure. The key to unlocking the cause of climate change lies in working out what can change the ozone content of the air near the poles in winter.



Ninety nine percent of the atmosphere lies within the ambit of a vigorous day’s walk, just 30 kilometres!

The atmosphere efficiently conveys heat to space via convection (transport) and radiation.  This is apparent in the 24 hour cycle of temperature as a point on the Earth’s surface alternately faces the sun and enters the night zone and the more so in inland locations where the daily range of temperature is accordingly much greater.We call this increase in the daily range of temperature the ‘continental’ effect.

In the northern hemisphere where there is a relative abundance of land the seasonal extremes are wider we have another example of the ‘continental effect’. The strong maximum in outgoing radiation in summer should promote summer warming if the atmosphere were subject to a ‘greenhouse effect’. But, consult the graph below and see that in the mid latitudes of the northern hemisphere we find that the temperature has increased mainly in spring and autumn. In high latitudes the increase in temperature has been in winter when outgoing radiation plunges to a  minimum.

Change in T in NH according to month of the year

Under an imaginary greenhouse regime the atmosphere becomes an impediment to heat transfer and we should see an increase in temperature in all seasons and in all locations just as the ocean limits the variation in temperature of proximate locations. But in fact we observe that the temperature increase that has occurred is variable according to the month of the year. This temperature increase does not tally with the mechanism that is proposed by the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change that was set up to examines man’s influence on the climate of the globe.

In cold conditions humans make sure that the air close to their skin is contained and unable to move. But, the Earth’s atmosphere is not confined in this way. Consequently it acts as a river for energy transfer from the surface to space. As a river it is perhaps the most vigorous on the planet. The ‘supposed greenhouse effect’ is no impediment to this process. Common sense dictates that a static atmosphere is required if the rate of loss of energy is to be curtailed and back radiation is to return energy to the surface via a so-called greenhouse effect. The atmosphere is anything but static. We insulate to stop the air moving. The atmosphere is air.

Plainly we must look to other modes of causation to explain the temperature increase that has been observed.


The following observations demonstrate the primacy of cloud that acts to reflect solar radiation, so determining surface temperature:

  1.   For the globe as a whole the sea is always warmer than the land and the global average for both the land and the sea is greatest in July.Global sea and air
  2.  A maximum in June/July is an anachronism. Earth is farthest from the Sun on July 4. The quotient of energy available from the sun (above cloud level) is 6% less in July than in January.

Why is the Earth warmest when it is most distant from the sun?

In northern summer the sun heats the abundant land masses and the land being opaque the surface quickly warms and with it the atmosphere.  The supply of water vapour to the atmosphere lags behind the increase in the water holding capacity of the air. There is less ocean in the northern hemisphere. In any case water is transparent and it stores energy to depth releasing it slowly. The upshot is that the heating of the atmosphere by the land rich northern hemisphere directly and dramatically reduces cloud cover.  The July maximum in global temperature is due to an increase in the diminished total of solar energy that is available in July. The amount made available at the surface is so much greater in mid year as to result in a temperature peak in mid year.

In northern autumn gathering cloud reflects more solar radiation and the globe therefore cools as its orbit takes it closer to the sun. That’s a pity because as I explained in the last post the globe as a whole is cooler than is desirable from a plant productivity point of view and all life ultimately depends on plants.


From:http://www.iac.es/adjuntos/cups/CUps2015-1.pdf we have direct measurements for Izana observatory in the Canary Islands of  the number of days where cloudiness (red and yellow) is recorded and conversely the number of days where the sky is sufficiently devoid of clouds to achieve a clear sky rating (green).  The attenuation of cloud cover in northern summer is evident.
Cloud cover Teide Observatory, Spain


From http://www.ccfg.org.uk/conferences/downloads/P_Burgess.pdf we have direct measurements of solar radiation at the surface.

Radiation as a function of time of year and cloud cover in Bedordshire

At this site in the UK cloud is responsible for the attenuation of solar radiation by a minimum of 26%  and a maximum of 90%.


Surface temperature is directly modulated by cloud cover as demonstrated in the following satellite photograph.Temp varies with cloud cover



It should be abundantly clear that it is the mediation of energy input by clouds that is the most influential determinant of surface temperature. Zones that experience high surface pressure are relatively cloud free. The essence of change in the ‘annular modes’ lies in a shift of mass from high latitudes due to ozone heating that drives down surface pressure. High southern latitudes have lost atmospheric mass for seventy years on the run. Lost mass has been distributed across the globe adding to surface pressure in those parts of the globe where increased surface pressure  is allied with relatively cloud free skies. In chapter 3 we observed that the globe warms when geopotential height increases. Geopotential height increases when surface pressure increases as the core of a high pressure cells entrains ozone from the stratosphere.


Cloud comes in all shapes, types, sizes altitudes and density and is notoriously difficult to measure.

At http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~sgw/PAPERS/2007_Land_Cloud_JClim.pdf  we have a paper documenting change in cloud cover and establishing correlations between cloud cover over Europe and the North Atlantic Oscillation, a local manifestation of the the northern annular mode.

Survey of cloud cover change


Note that in the mid latitudes in winter, cloudiness is associated with incursions of warm, moist air from the tropics promoting a positive correlation between the presence of clouds and surface temperature. The band of cloudiness formed by frontal activity occurs in the interaction zone between cold dry air of polar origin and warm air of tropical origin. People  might observe that ‘its too cold to rain’ when the air is coming from high latitudes. Alternatively they might say, they can ‘smell’ the rain coming when the air is humid and it comes from lower latitudes. Or they might say, ‘the temperature will increase when it starts to rain’.

To suggest that the positive correlation between cloud cover and temperature in winter is due to back radiation from clouds or that there is a positive causal relationship between the presence of cloud and surface temperature due to back radiation involves an error in logic. Its warmer in winter when there is cloud about  because the cloud arrives with a warmer, moister body of air that originates in tropical latitudes.  Cloud does not cause warming in winter and an opposite effect in summer. Cloud always involves an attenuation of solar radiation.


There should be no confusion as to the effect of cloud on surface temperature. To suggest that the climate is warming due to back radiation indicates a lack of appreciation of the reality of the way in which the atmosphere mediates the flow of solar energy to the surface of the planet and a lack of appreciation of the manner in which the atmosphere actively cools the surface.

To suggest that back radiation is causing warming without first ascertaining that cloud cover has not fallen away indicates an appalling lack of common sense and responsibility.  This brand of ‘science’ is unworthy of the name.

Many sceptics of the AGW argument wrestle with the notion that there is some sense in the idea of ‘back radiation’ from clouds and a CO2 rich atmosphere and try and assess whether the ‘feedbacks’ built into IPCC climate models are an exaggeration of reality. Most unfortunately this belief in cloud radiation feedback and the primacy of a ‘back radiation effect’ has given the ‘anthropogenic’ argument legitimacy.

Back radiation is no defence against a wind chill effect! You wear clothes to combat conduction and convection. To think otherwise is to be muddle headed.

The manner in which the Earth warms and cools indicates that there is another mechanism at work. This other mechanism has primacy and a study of the manner in which the globe has warmed and cooled suggests that it is also a sufficient explanation of the change that has occurred. It is a two way process, capable of warming and cooling as we observe on an inter-annual basis. The mechanism that is responsible for inter-annual variations is also responsible for the decadal and longer trends. When you understand the mechanism you will see that cooling has already begun and more cooling is the immediate prospect.

If you can not explain the inter-annual variations you fail climate 101. UNIPPC, you fail climate 101.


10 Mankind encounters the stratosphere

Here I present the opening page of a paper presented to the Royal Society of London in 1908 by Mr E Gold relating to an ‘isothermal layer’ in the atmosphere. ‘Iso’ means equal. At a certain elevation the temperature of the air ceases to decline with altitude and appears to stabilize. This was a great surprise and a challenge to understand and explain. The challenge is still there, more than 100 years later. The science is by no means settled.

Isothermal layer

Teisserenc de Bort was chief meteorologist for the Central Meteorological Bureau in Paris from 1892 until 1896, when he opened his own meteorological observatory at Trappes, near Versailles.

de Bort discovered a difference in the temperature profile between high pressure cells and low pressure cells. The height at which temperature no longer falls was observed to be 12.5km in high pressure cells and only 10 kilometres in low pressure cells.

The question is: Why Is it so?

Gordon Dobson, working in the late 1920s observed that total column ozone is enhanced in low pressure cells and reduced in high pressure cells. Near the surface the air in low pressure cells is colder and denser than high pressure cells because low pressure cells originate in higher latitudes. The expectation is that the air in low pressure cells would be denser throughout the atmospheric column and that there would be more molecules in the atmospheric column, not less. That there are less molecules (lower surface pressure) is due to an anomalous reduction in density aloft due to ozone heating.

This state of affairs is reflected in the temperature of the atmospheric column at 30-40° south seen below:


Notice that the lapse rate is lower and the cold point is warmer in winter when ozone partial pressure increases and low pressure cells are found closer to the equator. From this figure we see that the lapse rate (decline of temperature with altitude) is reduced by ozone above the 300 hPa pressure level (8 kilometres).  The enhanced presence of ozone above and below the point of reversal at 100 hPa is responsible for a warmer ‘tropopause’ than in lower latitudes.  The temperature at the point of reversal is -70° C at 30-40° south latitude whereas it is commonly -85°C above the equator. The warmer ‘tropopause’ is found at a lower elevation than at the equator. It is also found at a lower elevation in cells of low surface pressure than in cells of high surface pressure as observed by de Bort. Cells of high surface pressure originate in lower latitudes where there is less ozone to warm the atmospheric column aloft.

At 50-60° south the ‘cold point’ or ‘point of reversal’ is still warmer as seen below. But its temperature and elevation varies according to the time of the year.  Here, the presence of very cold air from the mesosphere tends to lower temperature in winter against the influence of increasing ozone partial pressure.50-60S

As latitude increases the temperature profile of the atmospheric column is increasingly affected by the presence of ozone at ever lower altitudes. The cold point is not a point of demarcation between ozone affected air and air that is free from ozone.  One might say that the stratosphere is invading and taking over the troposphere. But, more accurately, one would say that the nature of the atmospheric column is changing so as to render the terms ‘troposphere’, ‘stratosphere’ and ‘tropopause’ less and less meaningful. The cold point ascends into the stratosphere as the point at which ozone is present in the atmospheric column descends towards the surface. It is no longer appropriate to refer to the atmosphere below the cold point as the ‘troposphere’. Because its temperature profile is affected by ozone it is as much stratosphere as troposphere.

In truth, as we approach the poles the terms, ‘troposphere’, ‘stratosphere’ and ‘tropopause’ become a source of confusion.  For instance, at 50-60° of latitude we can observe that the  cold point is located in the upper margins of the ozonosphere (defined as a zone containing ozone that influences the lapse rate of temperature with elevation). In winter the cold point establishes at 10 hPa where the greatest heating due to ozone is experienced.  In conventional parlance the stratosphere, considered as that part of the atmosphere below the cold point, would simply have disappeared and the entire column up to 30 hPa would be called ‘troposphere’.

In fact, the term ‘stratosphere’, implying that the air is stratified into different layers with the temperature aloft greater than the temperature below, is  misleading. It is the presence of ozone that is responsible for the formation of the most extensive areas of uplift that extend throughout the entire atmospheric column. This is the enigma of the cold core polar cyclone, cold and dense at the surface, warm and much less dense over a much broader area aloft with ‘aloft’ implying continuation into the stratosphere. It is the stratospheric component that accounts for the lower surface pressure. Does that reality square with the notion of ‘stratified?


For the purpose of understanding weather and climate we should forget about ‘troposphere’ and ‘stratosphere’.  It is more productive to make distinctions between parcels of air that have relatively consistent but quite different characteristics and respect that the parcel has a tropospheric component and a stratospheric component. These parcels pay no respect to the notion of a ‘tropopause’ because it is their characteristics in the ozonosphere that differentiates them.

The description of the atmosphere might then go something like this:


The low density and warmth aloft in a low pressure cells is unrelated to surface conditions. It is due to ozone. Reduced atmospheric density due to the presence of ozone initiates uplift.  Uplift aloft promotes uplift below. Uplift below together with the intake of moist air of tropical origin results in cloud and precipitation.  Cloud reflects solar radiation keeping the surface cool. Cloud absorbs long wave radiation from the surface promoting a warmer atmospheric column. Precipitation results in the release of latent heat warming the atmospheric column and reducing its density. Low pressure cells carry cold air into warmer latitudes maintaining the temperature differential at the surface. Accordingly, by virtue of the ozone in the air aloft, the heat engendered below, the heat gained from long wave radiation by both atmospheric moisture and ozone and the movement towards lower latitudes the pressure differential between cells of low surface pressure and the surrounding atmosphere tends to be maintained. But the process results in the erosion of ozone aloft due to the solubility of ozone in water. Low pressure cells are a watery environment, not within their core but on their wide margins where moist tropical air is drawn into the circulation. For this reason, the life of a low pressure cell is limited. Nothing like this phenomenon is generated in mid or low latitudes. Tropical cyclones have a narrow core that peters out aloft. Polar cyclones have a wide dry cold core below and broaden aloft into an even wider dry core that is plainly located in the region that we have been accustomed to call the stratosphere. In fact its ozone that gives these ascending columns of air their life force.


High pressure cells are formed at lower latitude where the surface air is warmer. The consequent reduction of air density in the near surface air means that the 500 hPa pressure level is located at a higher elevation than in low pressure cells. Aloft, the relative deficit in ozone gives rise to enhanced air density.  This enhanced density aloft is responsible for the greater weight of the atmospheric column in a high pressure cell as measured at the surface.  Settlement occurs in the winter hemisphere associated with cold landmasses and cold water and over relatively cold waters on the western sides of the continents in the summer hemisphere.  Contact with a cold surface cools the air enhancing density and assists the process of descent. Descending air is dry, warming due to compression and relatively cloud free, especially in the core, less so on the margins. As pressure increases in a high pressure cell one would expect geopotential height to fall due to increased density in the lower part of the column. However, it is observed that geopotential height increases and the increase in geopotential height, increases with elevation. This is due to the downwards descent of ozone, making the column warmer and reducing the incidence of cloud.


The difference between the two air masses establishes a horizontal density gradient that is steepest above 500 hPa. The steepness of the density gradient is associated with rapid circular motion and the elevation of low density air. This convective process manifests as a jet stream that circulates around the globe rather than around the periphery of low pressure cells. One arm tends to be located where high latitude ozone rich air meets ozone deficient air from lower latitudes. Another arm of the jet stream manifests at the polar vortex where there is a steep gradient in ozone and air density between ozone rich air on the periphery and ozone deficient air from the mesosphere within the core. Nowhere is this jet stream continuous. It is a porous medium allowing mesospheric air to escape into the wider atmosphere. In summer when surface pressure is lower at the pole and ozone partial pressure falls away in high latitudes mesospheric air no longer descends into the upper atmosphere and the entire polar region is relatively ozone rich. The absence of mesospheric air in the circulation is associated with a reversal of the flow at 10 hPa. The near polar arm of the jet stream disappears as surface pressure falls away and cold air of mesospheric origin withdraws.


The warmth that initiates the ascending circulation in low pressure cells is not at the surface. It is in the upper half of the atmosphere. This is due to the increase in the ozone content of the air in high latitudes due to reduced photolysis of ozone at low sun angles, especially in winter. In today’s climatology (as in IPCC reports), the reason given for enhanced ozone in higher latitudes and the Arctic in particular is ‘the Brewer Dobson circulation’ involving the descent of ozone from aloft in high latitudes. But this transport phenomenon can not explain concentration enhancement. A body of air with a given constitution can not change its constitution simply by moving to another place. Concentration enhancement is made possible by reduced photolysis as the sun sinks towards the horizon and the wave lengths that photolyze ozone are progressively screened out. This enhancement of ozone partial pressure does not explain the higher concentration of ozone in both summer and winter in the northern hemisphere. That is due to the relatively reduced intake of mesospheric air over the Arctic by comparison with the Antarctic. There is an alternative area of descent in the northern hemisphere called the Siberian High and another over the Greenland Hudson’s bay area but nowhere does surface pressure approach that seen over the Antarctic ice mound in winter. The difference in the ozone content of the two hemispheres is reflected in an enhanced erythermal UV index in the southern hemisphere, especially in summer.

In conventional climate science the atmosphere is driven by heating of the surface at the equator. In the climate science that takes account of ozone phenomena ozone is observed to be the single greatest source of atmospheric heating and it is most pronounced in the winter hemisphere. It gives rise to a zone of uplift over the oceans at roughly 60-70° of latitude in both hemispheres.

Conventional climate science has no plausible explanation for the existence of a ‘cold core’ polar cyclone’ and it struggles to provide a plausible reason for the jet streams.

Conventional climate science has no explanation for the planetary low in surface atmospheric pressure at 60-70° south latitude that has intensified over the period of record.

A low pressure circulation that engages the totality of the atmospheric column including what is confusingly described as ‘troposphere’ and  ‘stratosphere’ (low pressure cells at between 30° and 60° of latitude) must be balanced by a matching descent of stratospheric air into the ‘troposphere’. What goes up must come down. That is accommodated in zones of high surface pressure where air descends.  High pressure cells form at lower latitudes where the circumference of the Earth is greater. High pressure cells are accordingly very extensive requiring a relatively slow rate of descent over a very broad area. The ozone descending from the stratosphere is shared over this broad area and much diluted in concentration in the process. The presence of ozone in high pressure cells, while it warms the air and raises geopotential height as the ozone concentration of the air anomalously increases, is insufficient to counter the tendency of the air to settle. As the air is warmed clouds disappear allowing more radiation to reach the surface, the prime source of surface temperature variations on all time scales. This is the subject of chapter 3 https://reality348.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/3-how-the-earth-warms-and-cools-naturally/


Descent also tends to occur at the pole where surface pressure increases in winter due primarily to a shift in mass from the summer hemisphere. The velocity of descent at the pole is no greater than in the upper atmosphere in the mid latitudes, in fact it is possibly less. It may be enhanced according to the vorticity of the circulation driven by ozone outside the margins of the polar cap and also as surface pressure episodically increases. It is retarded when surface pressure falls as naturally occurs in summer.  Research suggests that there is an overriding geomagnetic effect via the behaviour of charged particles in a magnetic field. The polar atmosphere has a low plasmapause and is much subject to ionization by cosmic rays. These factors will tend to facilitate a geomagnetic effect.

There has to be a countervailing force. Ozone, left to its own devices, would keep on lowering surface pressure that has the effect of excluding mesospheric air and allowing the partial pressure of ozone to build up. In any event the advent of summer puts an end to the process. The ozone content of the air is inhibited in summer by increased photolysis. Surface pressure falls as the atmosphere warms and becomes less dense. The winter hemisphere cools and draws in atmospheric mass.  It is in the alternate winter hemisphere that the process begins afresh. This is the reason why surface temperature is seen to increase in winter rather than summer. It is also the reason for the much enhanced volatility of surface temperature in January-February and July August. It is the reason why all points north of 30° south experience greatest volatility in January and February and all points south of 30° south experience greatest volatility of temperature in July and August. Why the split at 30° south. Its because of the ozone supercharged nature of the Arctic atmosphere as against the ozone impoverished nature of the southern hemisphere gives the former greater reach.


It is observed (in IPPC climate science) that an increase in the temperature (or geopotential height) of the ozonosphere in high latitudes (50° through to 90° of latitude) is associated with a loss of atmospheric mass (reduced surface pressure) in high latitudes and a gain in mass (surface pressure increase) in the mid latitudes and elsewhere. What is not observed in IPCC climate science is that this shift in atmospheric mass can be extended to decadal and longer time scales. There is a cycle of change in atmospheric pressure in high southern latitudes that is longer than the seventy years of reanalysis data. This change in surface pressure alters the planetary winds on a relatively enduring basis. The failure of IPCC climate science to realize the cause of this atmospheric shift or to associate it with the manner in which the globe warms and cools over long time periods represents a failure to observe, analyse and reason. This represents a failure to come to grips with the origin of climate change that is natural in origin and the disaster of false attribution.


It can be observed that in the mid and equatorial latitudes, surface temperature increases directly with atmospheric pressure. As described above this phenomenon relates to the change in cloud cover. Surface pressure rises in the mid latitudes as it falls in high latitudes. This is the primary dynamic behind weather and climate change on all time scales.

It is plain that the evolution of the planetary winds and temperature at the surface of the Earth is intimately associated with this flux in surface pressure wrought by ozone heating in high latitudes.

Mr Gold made the following statement in his paper delivered in 1908:

It is clear that there cannot be convection currents to any marked extent in this region

That there cannot be convection in the stratosphere is an article of faith in climate science to this very day.  This error arises due to a lack of appreciation of the heating properties of ozone as an absorber of long wave radiation from the surface of the Earth and conceptual confusions as to the nature of the atmosphere encapsulated in the continued use of the terms ‘troposphere’, tropopause and stratosphere’.  Mr Gold was aware of the heating properties of ozone but had no knowledge of the distribution of ozone according to latitude and altitude, its enhancement in winter hemisphere or the interaction with mesospheric air at the poles that drives change in ozone partial pressure over time.

The result of  ozone enhancement in high latitudes where there is a close conjunction of cold dense air from the mesosphere and warm light air heated by ozone is convection on a massive scale that corresponding to annular or ring like pattern of troughs in surface pressure manifesting in high latitudes and on a scale that dwarfs the manifestations of low surface pressure elsewhere on the planet, even under the pressure of direct solar radiation and massive precipitation, two forces that contribute very little to uplift in high latitudes. The flux in ozone driven convection is what gives rise to the phenomenon known as the ‘Annular Modes’, now well recognized in the annals of the IPCC, but regarded as a mystery both in terms of its mode of causation and its impact on climate.

Convection can be driven by heating of the surface. It can be driven from the lower atmosphere via precipitation at cloud level. And it can be driven by ozone heating in high latitudes where ozone tends to be ubiquitous throughout the atmospheric column.  Of these forces, the most powerful, pervasive and influential is the last. This pervasive regulating force,  is unrecognised in ‘climate science’ as it manifests in the works of the United Nations  International Panel on Climate Change. If it were recognized as the driver of the planetary winds and cloud cover we would no longer be speculating as to whether the activities of man are the cause of ‘climate change’.

Unfortunately, climatology is not yet at first base in understanding the generation of the planetary winds. Without an understanding of the origin of shifts in atmospheric mass or the physics behind the generation of cold core cyclones there is no possibility of understanding the source of natural climate change. We are then extraordinarily susceptible to the arguments of those who seek to exploit our ignorance.

Climate is not complex and nor is climate change. It is in the interest of every citizen, every voter and every taxpayer to take an interest in this matter and not leave it to the those who style themselves as professors, doctors of science or simply as ‘experts’.


It has long been supposed that the solar cycle influences climate and in particular it is supposed that as the sun becomes more active (more sunspots) the earth might be warmer. But, those who have closely examined the data suggest that a maxima in sunspot activity frequently coincides with a cooling of the tropics while the reverse is also the case. There is no evidence that the energy quotient in solar radiation increases with sunspot activity although the composition of solar radiation certainly does change within the sunspot cycle.

On the other hand geomagnetic activity wrought by the solar wind, while it rises and falls with sunspot activity  has a different mode of activity in that it conditions the behaviour of  the Earth’s magnetic field as it manifests in the atmosphere.  The ozone cycle via its effect on surface atmospheric pressure  has the capacity to greatly magnify small changes in atmospheric pressure in the same direction as the initial change wrought by geomagnetic activity. This impacts climate on both shorter time and longer time scales than the eleven year sunspot cycle..

Geomagnetic activity, as an initiating force has the capacity to change the ozone cycle by modulating the amount of NOx that is drawn into the ozonosphere via the polar vortex in winter. An enhanced flow of NOx either from the troposphere or the mesosphere erodes ozone and reduces the temperature of the stratosphere over the pole due to a ‘space occupying effect’. If cold mesospheric air is present the warmer air is displaced to lower latitudes. This is a natural dynamic that depends upon surface pressure, much more active in winter than summer. It is for this reason that ‘sudden stratospheric warmings’ are a winter phenomenon.

This natural ebb and flow of air between the mesosphere and the stratosphere is manifestly more influential in determining the partial pressure of ozone than the flux in short wave solar radiation. When the temperature of the stratosphere over the poles changes there is a knock on  effect, rippling across the atmosphere like little waves on a pond, ever smaller in amplitude as they propagate across the globe into the summer hemisphere.






Meteorologists are well aware that surface temperature varies with geopotential height at 500 hPa. The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says as  much below.  The full text can be accessed at: here:https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201507

GPH and ST anomalies

But hey, there is a problem here: The  text above the map states  that there is a relationship between geopotential height at 500 hPa and surface temperature. But thereafter, the commentary is  driven by an overarching belief that carbon dioxide drives surface temperature and it is therefore constantly escalating.

But carbon dioxide is well mixed in the atmosphere and cannot account for regional warming on a month by month basis.  The observed warming is  regional in scope and it conforms to the pattern of the distribution of surface pressure and geopotential height, not the distribution of carbon dioxide that is in fact well mixed and very close to uniform in its distribution throughout the atmosphere.

And surface temperature is not constantly escalating as we will see below.

Gordon Dobson started measuring total column ozone in 1924 and soon noticed that total column ozone mapped surface pressure. An increase in surface pressure that is related to the distribution of ozone can originate in two ways namely:

  1. A reduction in the ozone content of the column above 500 hPa allowing the upper half of the column to become more dense, contract and thereby allow more molecules to  populate that column. But, this is not possible in a column of descending air that has its upper extremity in the stratosphere.
  2. A piling up of atmospheric mass against the force of gravity in the mid latitudes due to a shift in mass from high latitudes. The density of the column in the mid latitudes is increased as atmospheric mass accumulates.This should reduce geopotential height at 500 hPa.  For geopotential height to increase at 500 hPa the increase in atmospheric mass must be accompanied by warming below the 500 hPa pressure level . The lower half of the column becomes less dense as the column weight increases.

So, the question arises, is the increase in geopotential height at 500 hPa due to the descent of ozone within the atmospheric column of descending air as the weight of the column increases?


When satellites were equipped to study the atmosphere in 1969 ozone could be mapped more effectively than via surface measurement. The following report of 1973 links the distribution of ozone to geopotential height at 200 hPa :

Sensing ozone

Source: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00881075#page-1

Plainly total ozone varies with the upper troposphere (200 hPa) geopotential height,  and ozone distribution at that level defines the circulation of the air and the jet streams.

If you have read chapter four you will be alert to the fact that south of about 20° of latitude ozone begins to affect the lapse rate at the 300 hPa level  and that the notion of a demarcation between  troposphere and stratosphere via a hypothetical ‘tropopause’ is no longer sustainable. Perhaps it is the fuzzy boundary phenomenon that leads to the ambiguity of lumping together the ‘systematic variation in ozone distribution in lower stratospheric circulation‘ and the ‘correlation between ozone and upper troposphere geopotential height’ in the abstract above.

The variation in ozone partial pressure drives geopotential height at 200 hPa. Of this there is no doubt. But, does it drive  height at 500 hPa? The study reported below bears on this matter.

Baroclynic development

Found at:http://ephyslab.uvigo.es/publica/documents/file_21530-A%20climatology%20based%20on%20reanalysis%20of%20baroclinic%20developmental%20regions%20in%20the%20extratropical%20NH-ANYAS-2008.pdf

The authors of this study set out to examine the distribution of winter geopotential height minima over the period 1958–2006 at the 200, 500, and 850 hPa pressure levels. In effect they engaged in a very extensive mapping exercise to locate cyclones of ascending air that are associated with low surface pressure at three pressure levels, 850 hPa close to the surface, 500 hPa at the mid point and 200 hPa that is plainly within the fuzzy boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere. When the geopotential height at a central point was lower than six or more of the surrounding eight points on a 2.5° latitude and longitude grid  the authors nominated that point as a minimum of geopotential height and mapped it as seen above.

The map reveals that height minima at 500 hPa and 200 hPa have a common geographical distribution. Furthermore, in the lowest map we see an extension of the relationship into subtropical latitudes that sees variations of geopotential height at 850 hPa to some extent aligning  with those at higher elevations.

In the light of this knowledge we might say that the temperature of the surface of the Earth is as much tied to variations in geopotential height at 200 hPa as it is to variations in geopotential height at 500 hPa and the implications would be very much clearer.

Lets pause at this point to remind ourselves of the very simple relationship between the capacity of the air to hold water vapour and its temperature. If the temperature increases more water can be held in the invisible gaseous phase. If temperature increases the droplets of moisture and highly reflective multi branching crystals of ice that constitute clouds will simply disappear. When this occurs the surface of the planet receives more solar radiation and it warms accordingly.

Lets pause a moment longer to observe that this very different chain of thought  is the narrative that should follow the observation that surface temperature is related to geopotential height…… and I hope that the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration takes note and changes their narrative accordingly.

The critical observation is that geopotential height minima have a common distribution throughout what we refer to as ‘the troposphere’ and are forced by one means or another by differences in the ozone content of the air  at the 200 hPa level and above. Many meteorologists being the practical, results oriented fellows that they are, have long noted that cyclogenisis  at elevation seems to be a requisite for the development of cyclogenesis below.

Meteorologists examine the circulation of the air at 500 hPa to be relatively free of the influences of topography, vegetation, land and sea, in order to predict the course of weather in the days ahead.  We see that the action at 500 hPa  is plainly dictated at 200 hPa and above (the lower stratosphere) where the largest variations in geopotential height, ozone partial pressure, atmospheric density and air temperature are observed. But, is that the end of it?


Chapter 5 identified the origin of so called ‘cold core’ Polar Cyclones in the heating of the air above 500 hPa by ozone. A shift in atmospheric mass from high to mid latitudes is forced by enhanced cold core Polar Cyclone activity that drives surface pressure lower in high latitudes. The result is enhancement of surface pressure in the mid and low latitudes.

This chapter establishes that geopotential height at 200 and 500 hPa vary together in the extra-tropical latitudes. Furthermore, the increase in geopotential height that accompanies the surface pressure change is accompanied by a loss of cloud cover. All ultimately relate to the changing flux of ozone in the upper half of the atmospheric column in high latitudes that occurs in winter that drives both the exchange of atmospheric mass and the observed change in the distribution of ozone that drives the circulation of the atmosphere at 200 hPa   in the extra-tropical latitudes.

We are aware that high pressure cells bring air from aloft towards the surface. We are also aware after chapter 5 that the stratospheric circulation involves descent in the mid latitudes. That brings air with an elevated ozone concentration into the troposphere.

Soooooooo, in the absence of an ability to touch, feel, smell or see what is actually happening in the atmosphere and with a sense of caution related to the fact that our hand waving and speculation is not always related to reality, and that we don’t always get things right we should inspect the surface temperature record for date stamping that is related to ozone flux at one pole or the other during the winter season. That should go a long way towards settling the matter, at least until a better explanation comes along……you know, I don’t think the science is ever completely settled.


The tropics constitute a large surface area and make a huge contribution to the global temperature average especially on multi-year ENSO time scales. But surface temperature is actually most volatile on a monthly basis in the mid and high latitudes where ozone directly regulates cloud cover.

It is in the tropics that the waters of both hemispheres are brought together and homogenized. We can eliminate short term variability due to wind by looking at decades rather than years.

In the diagram below we have sea surface temperature at decadal intervals. Tropical sea surface air temperatures in April, May, June and July behave as if they were a bundled package with little variation between  months.  Departures seem to occur only when there is a marked change in trend. The month of April shows more variability and July the least.

SST Tropics Ap,M,J,J

By contrast, we see in the graph below, drawn to the same scale, that there is a big variation in air temperature between August and March.  It is between August and March that polar processes engineer large changes in surface temperature according to the flux in ozone from month to month, year to year, decade to decade and across the centuries. Pre-eminent in terms of volatility are the months January February and March and to a smaller extent December, under the sway of Arctic polar processes. The Arctic, precisely because of the limited descent of mesospheric air is supercharged with ozone. When change occurs it’s dynamic. Its like coming into a perfectly dark room and switching on the light.

SST tropics other months

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

Antarctic atmospheric  processes that involve the same interaction with mesospheric air as in the Arctic, but on a much more continuous and interactive basis, are most volatile between August and November. The movement in tropical sea surface temperature in these months is in the same direction at the same time but has less vigour in line with the reduced partial pressure of ozone in the entire southern hemisphere. The fluctuations in cloud cover and surface temperature engineered by the Antarctic are consequently muted and can be compared with the act of switching on a light fitted with one of these newfangled environmentally conscious, energy saving  halogen globes that emit much less light.

Observe that in the last decade surface temperature in the tropics between August and November has fallen away, a departure from the long term trend but not unprecedented.

In the key months where the Arctic has a strong influence on cloud cover and surface temperature (January through to March) a departure from trend manifested a decade earlier in  1997-2006. A cooling trajectory was established in the last decade in all months that are strongly affected by polar atmospheric processes. This is due to a continuing reduction in ozone partial pressure in high latitudes in both hemispheres that goes along with a cooling of the high latitude stratosphere.

We will see that January and February are months of most extreme temperature variability in all latitudes between 30° south and 90° north while June and July are the months when the Antarctic most heavily stamps its authority on temperature between 30°south and 90° south.

We will see that the change in surface pressure due to the flux in ozone in high southern latitudes happens on very long time  scales with a swing so wide as to govern the ozone content of the entire stratosphere. The Antarctic makes the centennial swells upon which the Arctic generates the energetic surface chop.

Why did tropical sea surface temperature decline in the decade 1967-76? Why the spectacular increase of 0.5°C over the following two decades? Why the departure from trend between January and March in the last two decades. Obviously, there are more complex factors at work than a the remorseless increase in the very tiny proportion of the well mixed greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

But let me hasten to add that there is one, naturally occurring greenhouse gas that is quite unequally distributed, that varies in its concentration across the year and over time. It varies under the influence of polar atmospheric processes that dictate the rate of entry of mesospheric air that contains the chief agent of erosion  of ozone in the stratosphere described as NOx.

Follow the data, that is what science should be about. If  the narrative doesn’t follow the data, its propaganda.

Lets face it, people tell fibs to suit their own purposes.

5 The enigma of the ‘cold core’polar cyclone


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

When I started looking into atmospheric matters back in 2008 and I discovered that the temperature of the Antarctic in mid winter at 10 hPa had jumped in the 1970’s as the atmospheric pressure at the surface took a plunge it started me on a search for answers. This post tells you what I have discovered as a private self funded researcher seven years on.

The cold core polar cyclone

The ascent of the air at the core of a polar cyclone is a mystery because the near surface air in a polar cyclone is cold and dense. Polar cyclones form in high latitudes where the surface and the air in contact with it is very cold. Air that is cold and dense should not ascend. The  unsatisfying explanation that is offered in the meteorological literature has to do with fronts between cold and warm air and the Coriolis ‘force’. But the Coriolis ‘force’ is not a force at all. It explains the direction of rotation and has nothing to do with the force responsible for uplift or down-draft.

Anticyclones form in the mid latitudes where the surface is warmer than in high latitudes. This is the case despite the fact that anticyclones form over water that is relatively cold for the latitude, located on the eastern margins of the oceans. Anticyclones also form over cold land masses in winter. To take the land based anticyclone out of the equation we can examine the summer hemisphere.

It is now possible to examine the atmosphere in real time and toggle back and forward to look at it as on some day in the past. It’s animated too which is a real help. You get spot values at the click of your mouse. This is a fantastic resource for a student of the atmosphere. Find it at:  earth.nullschool.net.

First, sea surface temperature. Observe that the eastern margin of the Pacific is cooler. The ocean moves clockwise, driven by the winds.


The day I have chosen is the first day of September 2015. We will stick to this single day throughout.

Below we have atmospheric pressure with an overlay of wind at 1000 hPa.

The lines indicate the circulation of the winds. Three tropical cyclones manifest south of a large high pressure cell. The high has a central pressure of 1030 hPa.  Cold core Polar cyclones are also in evidence associated with zones of low surface pressure in high latitudes. The air circulates in an anticlockwise direction around cyclones and a clockwise direction around anticyclones.

1000hPa SLP

The map below shows Wind Pressure Density at 1000 hPa (close to the surface) in terms of kilowatts of wind energy per square metre. Tropical cyclones are powerful systems but the energy is generated very close to the core and has little lateral spread . By contrast the cold core polar cyclone shows a fraction of the energy that is generated in a tropical cyclone and the energy manifests remotely, and in particular over the oceans rather than the land.


At 850 hPa (1000 metres) the energy attached to a cold core polar cyclone manifests over both the land and the sea.


The map below shows air temperature at 850 hPa (1000 metres). Shades of green represent temperatures above 0°C . Shades of blue indicate temperatures below 0°C. It is apparent that the air in cold core cyclones at 850 hPa is close to 0°C, while the air in the major anticyclone rejoices in a temperature of 12°C, well below the 24°C that is the temperature of the sea surface only 1000 metres below.

850 Temp

Below we have the temperature of the air at 500 hPa, roughly 5.5 kilometres in elevation with half the atmospheric column below and half above. All temperatures are sub zero.  At its heart the anticyclone has a temperature of -5°C  while the cold core cyclones have central temperature between -24 and -35°C.

500 temp

Below again: There is a marked increase in wind pressure density on the outer margins of cold core cyclones at 500 hPa. But each polar cyclone conserves a relatively extensive core where the horizontal vector in the movement of the air is slight and we can infer that the vertical vector is pronounced. These cold core cyclones are now immensely more powerful and extensive systems than tropical cyclones.

500 WPD

At the 250 hPa pressure level, about 9 kilometres in elevation, extreme wind speeds manifest on the outer margins of cold core polar cyclones while the cores of vertically ascending air are extensive.

250 wind

Below, we see that at 250 hPa the ascending air in the core of a polar cyclone is warmer than the the rapidly rotating air that surrounds it.

250hPa temperature

So, we see that at 9 km in elevation a polar cyclone has a warm core. The laws of physics are not flouted by the ascent of relatively dense air that is somehow magically displaced upwards by air of lower density. It is the power generated aloft that pulls denser air into the system from below. In effect we have the engine attached to an extraction fan above, a pipe extending towards the surface, narrowing as it does so, sucking dense air into the upper atmosphere. This is like a vacuum cleaner that sucks in cold air and pushes out hot air. At 250 hPa just 25% of the atmosphere is above and 75% below. Somewhere between the 500 hPa and the 250 hPa pressure level (5.5 km to 9 km) sufficient energy is imparted to the atmospheric column within these polar lows to reduce the lapse rate of the air with increasing altitude to the point that the air within these polar cyclones becomes relatively warmer and less dense than the air that surrounds the core.

Gordon Dobson who invented the spectrophotometer to measure total column ozone in 1924 very quickly discovered that ozone mapped surface pressure with more ozone in the atmospheric column of low pressure systems than in high pressure systems. De Bort, the Frenchman who put more than 500 balloons into the atmosphere around 1900 discovered that the air became warmer in cells of low surface pressure at a lower elevation than in high pressure cells. Both gentlemen were independently wealthy private researchers who considered that the science of their day was not settled.

There should be no mystery as to the cause of this phenomenon. Once initiated, the system gains momentum by virtue of the fact that the air that is being elevated is warmer that the air through which it ascends. This is so because the surface air is warmer than the air aloft. This gives rise to very extensive areas of extremely low surface pressure in high latitudes.

As the ozone content of the air increases in winter, the jet streams so formed become more intense.

As the ozone content of the air varies from year to year, so too does surface pressure in high latitudes.

As surface pressure falls away in high latitudes it rises in the mid latitudes where anticyclones form.

How far does the air ascend in polar lows?

70 wind

The pattern of ascent is still present, albeit more gently so, at 70 hPa (above) with 93% of the weight of the atmosphere below, an elevation of just 17 kilometres. A balancing descent occurs in the mid latitudes associated with anticyclones.

10hPa wind

The air is still mobile at 10 hPa (30km) with 99% of the atmosphere below. Importantly, there is both ascent and descent.

10 pacific descent

See above. At 10 hPa in early spring in the southern hemisphere the air is very mobile in high latitudes. Gentle descent is apparent over the cold waters south of the equator in the eastern Pacific. This feeds ozone into anticyclones.

70 pacific desc

Above, at 70 hPa we have very strong ascent in the high latitudes and broad areas of gentle descent in the mid latitudes. The southern hemisphere is approaching its seasonal peak in ozone  partial pressure that occurs in October. The winds at 70 hPa reflect where that peak occurs. We are looking at a donut shape sitting atop the Antarctic continent.

250 sth pacific

At 250 hPa the southern hemisphere is in a frenzy driven by differences in ozone partial pressure between air masses of different origin. Patterns of descent will drive the evolution of geopotential height, cloud cover and surface temperature in the manner described in chapter 3.

500 globe pacific

At 500 hPa there is a relaxation in the circulation.

700 desc Pacific

At 700 hPa the winds are more benign. The pattern of descent over the south Eastern Pacific is typical.

700 pacific

The pattern of surface pressure is closely aligned with surface winds. Very high pressure in the south eastern Pacific is associated with very cold waters in this region promoting settlement. This area gains atmospheric mass very strongly when it is lost at 60-70° south very much influencing the strength of the trades and the westerlies across the Pacific and thereby the ocean currents that determine the relative extension of the ‘cold tongue’ across the equatorial Pacific that is the essence of the ENSO phenomenon.

70 Antarctic SLP wind

The flow of the air over Antarctica at 70 hPa is very much related to the pattern of surface pressure forced by the ozone content of the air at lower altitudes. It is the ozone content of the air between 500 hPa and  the 250 hPa that is deterministic so far as the circulation of the winds is concerned.

Notice the zone of high surface pressure over the Antarctic content that sets up a pattern of descent near the surface.

Mesospheric air descends in the core of this circulation. It is relatively deficient in ozone and has damaging levels of the ozone destroyer NOx . The British Antarctic base at Halley Bay lies to the East of the Antarctic Peninsula. When  total column ozone was first measured there using Dobson’s spectrophotometer in 1956 Dobson was amazed at the relative deficit in ozone by comparison with the northern hemisphere. But the deficit disappeared in November, as it does today. As surface pressure has fallen in high southern latitudes due to the increase in the partial pressure of ozone in the donut shaped pattern of polar cyclone activity that surrounds Antarctica, as atmospheric pressure has increased in the mid latitudes of the southern hemisphere expanding the Hadley cell in response to falling pressure in high latitudes, the donut of low pressure has been forced south, the tongue of mesospheric air is narrowed but it penetrates more deeply. This is the chief, albeit unrealized, one hundred percent home grown, all natural, ozone hole dynamic.


So called ‘cold core’ polar cyclones are warm core aloft and they do not contradict the laws of physics. By virtue of the fact that they depend for their activity on the partial pressure of ozone in the air that fluctuates on all time scales we must look to the cause of these fluctuations if we wish to understand the climate at the surface of the globe. It is the exchange of atmospheric mass between high and other latitudes that determines surface wind, cloud cover , the energy flux into the oceans and surface temperature. This is at the root of weather and climate change. I will demonstrate in later chapters that what happens in Antarctica rules all.

The flux in surface pressure that is wrought by ozone is greatest in winter and this puts a date stamp on the  surface temperature record. That identity will be revealed in due course.




4 The geography of the stratosphere mk2

My previous effort in relation to this chapter attracted very few readers. So, here I re-state the argument, hopefully in a more accessible form. I do so because the subject matter is critical. A great deal depends upon an appreciation  of the matters described below. If there are queries and disagreements lets have them up front in the comments:

The description of the nature of the stratosphere given below differs from accounts that you will see in the literature in important respects, and for good reason. The stratosphere is a complex entity, much more complex and interesting than the troposphere. By virtue of its effect on atmospheric pressure in high latitudes (directly responsible for Polar Cyclones and the Jet Streams) the stratosphere drives weather and climate, the planetary winds and surface temperature on all time scales. This realization is new, a product of investigation into what is known as the Annular Modes (ring like modes) of variation in surface pressure over just the last couple of decades and insights into the origin of polar cyclones together with the observations of the early French balloonist De Bort, Gordon Dobson and others that ozone maps surface pressure.  It has long been known that there is enhanced total ozone in cyclones of ascending air (called cold core cyclones) but the significance of this observation has been unrealized.  Ozone heating of the upper part of the atmospheric column is responsible for these cyclones.They are so pervasive in high latitudes that the formation of more cyclones and the intensification of existing cyclones changes surface pressure in high latitudes shifting atmospheric to or from high latitudes in the process.

It is the difference in atmospheric pressure at the surface of the planet that determines the planetary winds, patterns of precipitation and surface temperature so we must get a grip on the nature of Polar Cyclones if we are to understand surface climate.

There are three modes of heating of the air, heating by a warm surface, heating within the atmosphere due to the release of latent heat and heating within the atmosphere by absorption of long wave radiation from the surface of the Earth. Notably, it is the heating of the air due to the presence of the greenhouse gas ozone that accounts for the warmth of the stratosphere and the generation of polar cyclones that are the manifestation of the strongest modes of atmospheric heating on the planet, albeit hitherto overlooked.

In this account I focus exclusively on the southern stratosphere because it is simpler, being relatively unaffected by north south intrusions by land masses, except in the notable instance of South America. In the southern hemisphere a strong accent is given to polar processes due to the  presence of the Antarctic continent almost symmetrically distributed about the pole.  In southern winter the massive and relatively invariable heating of the entire northern hemisphere adds to surface pressure in high southern latitudes. In fact this seasonal shift of atmospheric mass to the southern hemisphere creates a planetary high in surface pressure over Antarctica. The atmospheric dynamics resulting from the donut shaped peak in ozone partial pressure at 60°-70° south latitude result in an ‘ozone hole’ over the polar cap. The chemical composition of the space inside the donut of ozone rich air, and the manner of its escape into the wider atmosphere has profound implications for the evolution of the ozonosphere and the extent of cloud cover globally.


All the remarks under this head address what can be observed in the diagram immediately below. Please give it your closest inspection.

Temp at 10hPa over Antarctica

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

The temperature profile at 10 hPa that is mapped above exhibits differences in the evolution of temperature between the hemispheres. This has nothing to do with the sun or short wave solar radiation. Air temperature varies with the place that the air comes from and the upper atmosphere is an active rather than a passive medium. Cooling in high latitudes in winter represents a regime of supercooling that is completely unrelated to the progress of the temperature at the surface. This supercooling is the thermal consequence of the penetration of the  polar stratosphere by very cold, ozone deficient air that originates in the mesosphere. When mesospheric air is present, temperature plummets and when it is not present the space hitherto temporarily occupied is taken by warmer, ozone rich air that is immediately adjacent. That pattern of arrival and departure is mapped in shades of blue and green above. By virtue of the erosive effect of NOx compounds present in mesospheric air the ozone content of the wider atmosphere is much affected as mesospheric air is inevitably mixed into the wider atmosphere. It is obvious from the diagram above that this has knock on consequences over a very wide latitude band. Mixing processes speedily  impact the evolution of ozone partial pressure and temperature at lower latitudes and especially so in the northern hemisphere where a prevailingly slight presence of mesospheric air enables a regime of high ozone partial pressure and elevated temperature to prevail. In this regime, small additions of mesospheric air to the melting pot result in widespread change.

The temperature of the stratosphere is a function of the extent of the heating by short wave radiation from above, long wave infra-red from the Earth itself and the dynamics of the movement of the atmosphere affecting the extent of the presence of mesospheric air. Atmospheric dynamics vary strongly with latitude.

The chief absorbers of outgoing infra-red radiation from the Earth are water vapour, of which there is little in the stratosphere, carbon dioxide, that is uniformly distributed and therefore of little account as far as surface pressure is concerned and ozone that is much affected in its concentration by the impact of photolysis. In addition the presence of NOx that catalyses the destruction of ozone affects ozone partial pressure as NOx is rapidly spread across the stratosphere.

Heating by short wave incoming radiation is the dominant influence on the temperature of the stratosphere above 10 hPa affecting the most elevated 1% of the atmospheric column by weight. Long wave infra-red radiation from the Earth drives the warming of the stratosphere very broadly between about 300 hPa and 10 hPa, although the lower fuzzy margin is higher at the equator and lower in high latitudes. The lower fuzzy margin corresponds with the tropopause near the equator but nowhere else. Outside near equatorial latitudes, as the air increasingly dries, the forces responsible for the cold point at the tropical tropopause wither away and the descent of cold mesospheric air at the pole in winter moves the cold point upwards towards 10 hPa. This divorces the cold point from any association with ozone distribution or the distribution of water vapour and the notion of a ‘tropopause’ that happens to be conjunction-al with the cold point and the presence of very dry air in low latitudes. It is only conjunction-al in low latitudes because massive continuing uplift keeps ozone aloft. The notion of a tropopause has no meaning, and is therefore un-locatable in mid or high latitudes.

Marked differences in ozone partial pressure give rise to a very different stratosphere between winter and summer. This reflects the presence of mesospheric air and enhanced O3 in high latitudes in winter.

The pressure of photolysis on ozone diminishes as the path through the atmosphere lengthens accounting for a natural increase in ozone partial pressure with latitude and more so in winter. This sets the background level of ozone according to latitude, less at the equator and more ozone closer to the poles. But it is over the polar caps that mesospheric air establishes its presence interfering with the aforesaid pattern and via its interaction eroding ozone partial pressure throughout the stratosphere.

To reiterate and expand: The impact of NOx from the mesosphere occurs via a tongue of mesospheric air that enters the stratosphere in winter. Entry is facilitated via an increase in the velocity and mass involved in the overturning circulation driven by ozone in high latitudes (forming Polar Cyclones). Descent that represents the return arm of this circulation occurs at the pole and in the mid latitudes. Ascent involving that part of the column containing ozone occurs in an ‘annular ring’ that is most intense at 60-70° of latitude and descent is apparent at 20-40° of latitude especially over cold waters on the Eastern side of the major oceans. The latter constitutes the corresponding ring like mode of descent in the mid latitudes. Because the circumference of the Earth is so much greater in the mid latitudes than it is over the polar cap the overturning circulation heads in this direction, the line of least resistance, rather than towards the polar cap. Descent over the polar cap is by comparison almost a stalled circulation in the sense that the rate of descent is very slow. If it were fast and continuous we would have much less ozone in the southern hemisphere than we do currently. The southern hemisphere would become almost uninhabitable. Fortunately for the inhabitants of the Southern Hemisphere NOx rich air from the mesosphere enters the wider stratosphere at a much slower and intermittent rate across the leaky polar vortex and is replaced from above. However there is one part of the southern hemisphere where the mesospheric air tends to lean northwards and that is towards the continent of south America. In the high Andes where elevation enhances exposure to UV light, the suicide rate peaks in spring.

The rate of descent of mesospheric air, the surface area of the interaction zone, its depth of penetration and impact on the wider stratosphere across the entire globe is surface pressure dependent. The landmass of south America interrupts the formation of polar cyclones. Zones of very high surface pressure form to the East and west of the continent in the mid and high latitudes associated with the presence of very cold oceans. The tongue of mesospheric air expands in its volume as surface pressure increases over the polar cap. Surface atmospheric pressure at the pole is to some extent just a proxy for the rate of overturning of the ozone driven circulation in high latitudes and to the remaining extent a proxy for the tendency of the atmosphere to be shifted equator-wards under the impact of geomagnetic pressure wrought by the solar wind. In the long term the latter determines the issue driving ozone partial pressure one way or the other and with it surface pressure over the polar cap and in the mid altitudes. Hence the relentless loss of mass since 1948.

It is important to realize that infrared emission from the Earth is never limiting, even at the highest latitudes. That stream of energy that is available both day and night and at all levels of the atmosphere. Ozone absorbs at 9-10 µm in the peak of the energy spectrum emitted by the Earth. Ozone is most enhanced between 30 hPa and 10 hPa shading away in concentration to the limits of the mesosphere on the one hand and downwards into the lower atmosphere to an altitude that varies with latitude on the other. Because the energy flow from the Earth is inexhaustible in terms of the amount intercepted by ozone there is little difference in the temperature of the stratosphere between day and night. This is a very different situation to that at the surface where short wave energy from the sun heats only during the daylight hours and wide diurnal fluctuations in temperature are the rule. If you read that the temperature of the stratosphere is the result of the interception of of short wave radiation by the atmosphere check the credentials of the author of that statement, even though he is a co-author or even a chairman of the committees responsible for UNIPCC reports. That author is not getting to grips with the nature of the ozonosphere.

As already mentioned geography ensures that the cooling in the stratosphere over the Antarctic during the polar night is much enhanced by comparison with the Arctic. The Antarctic at 1 hPa is slightly warmer in summer due to orbital influences. The massive annual range of temperature over Antarctica due to the depression of the winter minimum is anomalous because, at the surface, it is the northern hemisphere that exhibits the greatest swing between summer and winter.   This enhanced range is mainly the result of the presence of very cold mesospheric air over the Antarctic pole in winter and its relative exclusion between December and March.

The relative absence of cold mesospheric air in southern spring of recent times has resulted in a marked increase in the temperature of the polar cap and the intensification of the southern circulation. This trend is related to the 15 hPa fall in surface pressure over Antarctica since 1948.  The decline very likely began at the turn of the nineteenth century. The process of withdrawal of mesospheric air was already well under-way in the 1940’s.  To some extent the warming of the polar cap between 65-90° of latitude is due to a narrowing of the tongue of mesospheric air due in turn to enhanced uplift closer to the margins of Antarctica as the air that is external to the vortex becomes warmer in late winter and spring, reflecting its increased ozone content. In this way atmospheric dynamics drive ozone content and the extent of the ‘ozone hole’ over Antarctica. That hole was present at the time of the earliest measurements of total column ozone by Dobson’s colleagues at the British Antarctic base situated in Halley Bay in 1956, astounding Dobson and leading him to question the validity of the measurement. It was not what was expected given the pattern that he had observed in the Northern Hemisphere. The Antarctic ‘hole’ disappeared in November at that time as it does today. Measurements of total column ozone in the following year confirmed that it was the stratosphere and not the instrument that was responsible for the difference. Students of history will remember that the use of Freon in air conditioning and domestic refrigeration only really got going in the post WW2 era.

The anomalous warming of the Antarctic stratosphere that shows up between October and December in the data for 2014 in the diagram above is a function of the sustained ozone content of the air after the period of the polar night and despite the growing impact of photolyzing solar radiation as the sun rises higher into the sky and the atmospheric path shortens. Plainly it is the rate and the extent of the descent of mesospheric air that rules the temperature regime over the Antarctic polar cap rather than the angle of the sun.

By comparison the descent of mesospheric air in the Arctic comes in fits and starts allowing the northern hemisphere to maintain a much enhanced level of ozone in the stratosphere.

Again, looking at the diagram above, the temperature of the entire stratosphere is much affected by short term dynamical processes that manifest in the Arctic in winter. The descent of mesospheric air over the Arctic polar cap has knock on effects across a very wide band of latitudes. In terms of timing, the plethora of warming events in the Arctic has a life that is independent of the march of the sun. Again, it is the dynamics within the atmosphere that determine the pattern of evolution of temperature in the Arctic.


Gordon Dobson who invented and built a spectrophotometer to measure the quantity of ozone in the atmospheric column according to the attenuation in the energy at the wave length that destroys it (and is partially used up in the process) observed that ozone affects the upper troposphere:

The chief result of these measurements at Arosa  (1932 Swizerland 46.78° N) was to show with certainty that the average height of the ozone in the atmosphere was about 22 km and not about 40-50 km as had been thought before. They also gave a fair idea of the vertical distribution, showing that the main changes took place at heights between 10 km and 25 km. This made it much easier to understand why changes in the total amount of ozone should be so closely correlated with conditions in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere.

hPa Km
850 1
700 2.5
600 3.5
500 5.0
400 6.5
300 8
200 11.0
150 12.5
100 15
30 23
10 30
1 45

We may think it strange that Dobson writes about the presence of ozone affecting the upper troposphere because it is often (always) assumed that the quantity involved is immaterial. But, in fact the issue as to whether ozone is present at 10 km in the mid latitudes or not, and of significance to weather and climate, is worthy of close examination. Is the boundary between the ozonosphere and the lower atmosphere actually fuzzy?

The French balloonist deBort  had actually settled the issue at the turn of the 19th century when he observed that the ‘isothermal layer’ as he called it was encountered at  9-10km when surface pressure was low and at 12.5 km when it was high but let us not take too much account of that. He is French and we are British….and the message got awfully rusty in the effluxion of time…or did we simply regard him as a crank.

A simple method of ascertaining where ozone begins to affect the temperature of the atmosphere is to inspect the rate at which temperature falls with elevation. The rate of change of temperature with elevation is affected by the release of latent heat (predominantly a near surface phenomenon) and the presence of ozone (an upper air phenomenon), both reducing the lapse rate. In parts unaffected by precipitation or ozone heating the decline of temperature with elevation should be the dry adiabatic lapse rate of about 10°C per 1000 metres. As ozone begins to affect the temperature of the air the lapse rate should immediately fall below the dry adiabatic lapse rate…..or whatever the rate has been to that point of elevation.

At any concentration above zero ozone has the ability to raise the temperature of the air via absorption of long wave energy from the Earth and the instantaneous transfer of this energy to surrounding molecules.  At 30 hPa where the ratio between ozone and other atmospheric constituents is greatest the actual ozone content is only about 30 parts per million, well below the concentration of CO2 at 400 parts per million. But, by virtue of its uneven distribution it is responsible for the stratosphere. Strangely, when we inspect the curves there is no evidence that down radiation from an ozone rich layer causes an increase in the temperature of the air below…..but that is an entirely different type of investigation that should not distract you or me at the moment.

In an effort to locate the effective starting elevation of the stratosphere the thermal profile of the atmosphere will be mapped in 10° latitude bands between the inter-tropical convergence zone just north of the equator and the southern pole. The data is for the year 2014 available in the database that can be accessed at: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl  We can delve into the distant past later on.

The inter-tropical convergence

Here the South East Trades meet the North East Trades and a line of tropical thunderstorms rings the globe, especially in the afternoon.

Because the horizontal scale is in pressure levels rather than metres the intervals on the horizontal axis are not constant. However the blue line indicates a lapse rate of 6.44°C per 1000 metres that is a true reflection of  the lapse rate between the surface and 600 hPa a distance of 3500 metres with the temperature falling 22.54°C over that interval. The red line represents a lapse rate of 6.86°C per 1000 metres that is  a true reflection of  that particular lapse rate between 300 hPa and 100 hPa where the temperature falls 48°C over 7000 metres. The dry rate of 10°C per 1000 metres can only be attained if there is a lack of warming from any source. The degree of uplift at the ITC and the presence of appreciable moisture can be assumed to reduce ozone to near zero levels below 100 hPa. Away from the ITC both uplift and moisture levels do fall away allowing ozone to penetrate below the 100 hPa pressure level and down to less than 10,000 metres in low pressure cells. Let us assume however that  ozone is not present unless the lapse rate falls below 6.86°c per 1000 metres, the slope of the red line. That is the conservative approach.

Both the blue and the red lines have the same slope in all diagrams that follow. All the diagrams have a common vertical and horizontal scale so that the slope of the blue and red lines is invariable.

There is a cold trap (about -80°C) at 100 hPa that is said to promote a dry atmosphere above this pressure level. In practice clouds do manifest in the lower stratosphere, particularly in the region of the south East Asian warm pool.  A high rate of uplift results in he sudden appearance of ozone above 100 hPa and a steep increase in temperature above that pressure level. At 100 hPa only 10% of the atmosphere by weight lies above while 90% is below.  In terms of distance there is 15 km of atmosphere below and another 15 km to get to the 10 hPa pressure level so the graph exaggerates the rate of increase in temperature with altitude above the tropopause.

At no other latitude do we see as steep an increase in temperature in the stratosphere. At no other latitude is the stratosphere as elevated at its inception.

At the poles in winter the temperature of the air falls to minus 85°C. Convection over the inter-tropical convergence keeps ozone so much at bay as to produce exactly the same temperature, -85°C at 15 km in elevation.

Notice that the month to month variation in the temperature of the stratosphere over the I.T.C. at 100 hPa and higher is greater than is seen in the troposphere below.  At 100 hPa temperature is depressed in December and elevated in August when ozone partial pressure increases strongly outside the margins of the Antarctic polar vortex. This testifies to the vigour of mixing processes in the stratosphere.

Equator to 10° south


Between the equator and 10° south latitude the thermal structure of the atmosphere is very similar to that at the inter-tropical convergence.

10-20° south


At 10-20° south latitude a slight reduction in the lapse rate above 300 hPa indicates the presence of ozone in the atmospheric profile.

A temperature of about minus 30°C at 300 hPa is common to latitudes below 20°.

At 100 hPa temperature is warmer by a few degrees than at the I.T.C. The black dotted line has a common length in all diagrams. The minimum or ‘cold point’ warms as latitude increases reflecting an increase in the ozone content of the air with increasing latitude.

20-30° south


At 20-30° south latitude where high surface pressure is the rule, the presence of ozone appreciably reduces the lapse rate above 300 hPa. At 300 hPa the atmosphere is slightly cooler than it is in the tropics.

The temperature at 100 hPa is warmer than in the tropics indicating more  ozone in the air at 100 hPa.

Between the months of August and November in late winter and spring, the ‘cold trap’ and the stratosphere in general is warmer than it is in summer indicating enhanced descent of ozone in high pressure cells at the particular time of the year when ozone partial pressure peaks outside the margins of the Antarctic polar vortex driving a shift of atmospheric mass away from the poles and towards these latitudes. An enhanced rate of descent from the stratosphere brings ozone into what has been hitherto regarded as the ‘troposphere’. If the word troposphere is intended to indicate the absence of ozone to the point where the lapse rate is unaffected then plainly we have a dilemma. The terminology is no longer appropriate to circumstances at this latitude and even less so in higher latitudes. This dilemma can be avoided if the term ‘troposphere’ is  used in reference to truly tropical latitudes and the word ozonosphere is used to indicate air that is warmed by ozone, at this latitude well below the cold point from about 300 hPa or eight kilometres in elevation, less again in zones of low surface pressure. What we have here is data for the average of high and low pressure cells at this latitude.

By virtue of its effect on cloud cover the relatively amplified increase in temperature aloft drives temperature variations at the surface. The mechanism behind the relationship between increased surface pressure anomalous warming at the surface is described in terms of anomalous increases in geopotential height and surface temperature in chapter 3 entitled ‘How the Earth warms and cools naturally’.

30-40° south30-40S

At 30-40° south latitude the presence of ozone markedly reduces the lapse rate of temperature with elevation above the 300 hPa pressure level.

40-50° south40-50S

At 40-50° south latitude the temperature of the ozonosphere at 100 hPa is considerably warmer than at lower latitudes and particularly so in winter.

The temperature at 300 hPa is very little different between 40-50° of latitude and 70-80° of latitude despite cooling at surface with increasing latitude indicating that this is indeed part of the ozonosphere. This warming occurs in the absence of mesospheric air in the summer season and more so in winter when cold mesospheric air is present. However there is obvious cooling of the ozonosphere above 100 hPa due to the influence of mesospheric air in winter the depression of air temperature increasing with elevation. Looking back we see that this trend emerged at 30-40° south latitude. The mechanism by which mesospheric air reduces the temperature of the ozonosphere beyond the margins of the polar vortex that is traditionally seen as containing it (cannot get out), involves both mixing and the chemical erosion of ozone by NOx. This process is fundamental to the long term evolution of ozone partial pressure in the ozonosphere and the temperature at the surface of the planet because it affects the Earth’s cloud albedo. It is the diminution of the flow of mesospheric air over time that has allowed ozone partial pressure to build in high southern latitudes and with it surface temperature and the volume of energy stored in the global oceans. The build in ozone partial pressure has produced a dramatic fall in surface pressure in high latitudes and a less dramatic but highly influential increase in surface pressure and energy gain in the mid latitudes.

The containment of mesospheric air within the polar vortex is an essential requirement if the Earth system is to be entirely self contained and free of influences from our highly variable local star….the sun. Certain people who wish to drive a political agenda will hang on to that notion like a dog with a bone. These people will not want to know about stratospheric processes.

At 40-50° south ozone drives a halving of the lapse rate above 300 hPa and a 10° C increase in the temperature of the cold point by comparison with latitudes only 10° closer to the equator. The lapse rate is particularly curtailed and the temperature of the cold point is particularly affected in the winter/spring period. Temperature above 300 hPa plainly relates more to polar atmospheric processes than surface temperature at this latitude.

So far as the use of the term ‘tropopause’ is concerned we must note that the ‘cold trap’ is unequivocally located in the stratosphere and is further elevated in late winter–spring (reduced descent of mesospheric air). It is warmer in winter than in summer. It is no indication of a ‘boundary’ between spheres of interest climatically. That ‘boundary’ is now to practical intents and purposes  at 300 hPa and the cold point will be lower when surface pressure is lower, as observed by the French balloonist Debort who discovered ‘the stratosphere’ in the 1890’s.  The notion of a ‘tropopause’ is devoid of content in defining the character of the atmosphere in mid latitudes and should be abandoned. The use of the term is rooted in a failure to observe the dynamics that determine the thermal structure of the atmosphere and the origins of the surface pressure regime. We abandoned the use of the term ‘isothermal layer’ as a description of the stratosphere when we found that it is by no means equal and we should abandon the use of the term tropopause and troposphere when we refer the atmosphere outside the tropics. These terms mislead and result in sloppy thinking.

At 40-50° south latitude the marked variation in the temperature of the stratosphere at 10 hPa across the year reflects the impact of the pulse in ozone partial pressure outside the polar vortex where 10 hPa temperature rises quickly to be very close to its annual peak and surface pressure falls to its annual minimum in September-October.

Seventy percent of the depth of the atmospheric column lies above the 300 hPa level at this latitude. It stretches between 8 and 30 km in elevation.

Warmer temperature in the lower stratosphere between June and October is the product of the increase in ozone partial pressure across mid and high southern latitudes in late winter-spring.   Mass transfer from the summer hemisphere and the high latitudes enhances surface pressure in the mid latitudes of the southern hemisphere in winter. The transfer of mass from high latitudes involves enhanced uplift due to ozone heating affecting the entire atmospheric column. That which ascends must descend and it does so in the mid latitudes. The rate of descent and the surface area of descending air is simply a function of the dynamics of ascent in the near polar atmosphere. Again we see a dynamic affecting the Earth’s albedo, stronger at this latitude than at 30-40° south latitude.

50-60° south


At 50-60° south we enter the domain of the ozonosphere proper. The lapse rate is diminished above 500 hPa due to appreciable ozone in the upper half of the atmospheric column.  Regional density differences in the stratosphere promote strong uplift. This is the domain of the Polar cyclone that is generated  between 50 and 70° south.  The ozonosphere drives cyclogenesis, the distribution of atmospheric mass, short and long term weather variations and the evolution of the planetary winds. The notion that the ‘troposphere’ is the ‘weather-sphere’ at these latitudes is silly. None of the circumstances that give this term relevance  in the tropics apply at 50-60° south. The surface itself is very cold. The near surface atmosphere is cold and dry. Cloud is associated with uplift at the junction of warm wet and cold dry air masses. Convection originates in the ozonosphere by virtue of the behaviour of ozone as a greenhouse gas. Heating is then assisted by the release of latent heat associated with frontal activity. Cyclones move equator-wards tending to maintain the distinctive differences that maintain their vorticity until they run out of ozone aloft and moisture below.

The ‘cold point’ that is named the ‘tropopause’ in low latitudes is located within the stratosphere in all months. In June it is found above 10 hPa. As an indicator of the ceiling for convection due to the release of latent heat of condensation it is irrelevant. Wet air never reaches this altitude. The cold point is much warmer than it is in the tropics. The air is very much drier in high latitudes and precipitation is consequently light. But the elevation of the cold point materially assists the process of convection whereby lower density air is squeezed upwards. Convection affects the entire atmospheric column rather than being confined to the atmosphere near the surface. At latitudes pole-wards of 50° south we find the true weather-sphere,. This is the domain of the roaring forties the furious fifties and the screaming sixties. The enormous forces operating aloft are muted at the surface but still rock us back on our heels.

Polar cyclones owe their origin to heating of the atmospheric column by ozone. Heating occurs at all elevations where ozone is found, both above and below the cold point. This heating is driven by long wave infra-red emissions by the Earth itself varying little between day and night, and via energy redistributed polewards by the oceans and the atmosphere so that outgoing radiation has a pattern of annual variation  much less extreme than the variation in the energy supplied in the form of short wave radiation from the sun.

In mid and high latitudes the Earth starts to act like a battery for energy storage and energy supply to the atmosphere at a relatively invariable rate. This energy performs work via the agency of ozone. That work is weather change if we are talking of short term effects and ‘climate change’ in the longer term. The stratosphere is now the ‘weather sphere’ because this is where weather is generated. The partial pressure of ozone evolves on very long time scales.

In climatology as presently taught, what happens in the lower half drives the upper half. Motions in the lower atmosphere condition the distribution of ozone in the stratosphere. This doctrine is absurd. People refer to a coupling process between the troposphere and the stratosphere. What troposphere would that be?

60-70° south60-70S

At 60-70° south latitude, the lapse rate is reduced below and above 500 hPa and we have a very warm cold point in summer and a cold point in winter that approaches the temperature of the mesosphere to which it is proximate. The temperature of the ozonosphere declines in winter due to the influence of mesospheric air that descends inside the polar vortex over the Antarctic continent. Ozone partial pressure increases strongly outside the margins of the polar vortex but the temperature of the air still falls away at 60-70° of latitude in winter.  The nature of the mesospheric air,  the variation in the exposed surface of this tongue of air and the interaction of this air with that in the ozone rich stratosphere determines the evolution of ozone partial pressure in the wider stratosphere in a process unrecognised in ‘climate science’. The tongue of mesospheric air is continually being abraded by a Jet Stream at the polar vortex and large portions escape beyond the margins of the vortex to be gradually absorbed into the ozone rich surrounding atmosphere. Jet streams are wavy discontinuous phenomena and the notion that this air is confined behind some sort of wall is …., not to put too fine a point on it, akin to a fairy tale.

The temperature  at 10 hPa rises quickly from July to be very close to its annual peak by October-November, well before midsummer. Ozone partial pressure outside the polar vortex peaks in October as the tongue of mesospheric air retracts in Spring. This is in part a function of change in surface pressure as atmospheric mass swings back to the now swiftly cooling northern hemisphere. The resulting very late accumulation of ozone despite the fact that the pole is now in full sunlight brings the temperature peak forward in time so that it is only loosely related to the angle of incidence of the sun. See the diagram below for the annual evolution of 10 hPa temperature according to latitude. This diagram represents a 1948-2014 average and conceals change that has brought the temperature peak forward over time, the subject of later chapters.

10hPa T by Lat

The accumulation of ozone in the atmosphere outside the polar vortex from mid winter through till the spring equinox relates to a diminishing influence of the tongue of mesospheric air over the pole at this time of year and the consequent enhancement of ozone partial pressure outside the vortex. As ozone partial pressure peaks the vorticity of the overturning circulation brings raw mesospheric air deeply into the lower stratosphere and an ozone hole manifests, in truth it has been growing in size since March but at this time of the year it is squeezed into a narrower profile.  This is veritably the hole in the donut. Those who talk ‘hole’ seem to be blind to the substantial donut that surrounds it. They have little appreciation of atmospheric dynamics in high latitudes. Chemists need training in atmospheric dynamics if they are to be relevant and helpful so that they avoid the unpleasantness involved in offering themselves as unwitting shills to environmental activists.

Heating of the atmospheric column by ozone results in a planetary low in surface pressure at 60-70°south latitude that is present in all months but most extreme in September/October (see below). There is no counterpart to this in the northern hemisphere, just patches of low surface pressure over bodies of water over a broad range of latitudes. Observe that all the surface heating and the release of latent heat in near equatorial latitudes is incapable of driving surface pressure to the lows seen in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere, let alone the extreme pressure deficit seen on the margins of Antarctica. It is not the Hadley cell that drives the atmospheric circulation, it is not the heating and uplift in the tropics, it is heating by ozone in high southern latitudes.  Hadley cell dynamics are determined according to the extent of atmospheric shifts from high latitudes because the Hadley cell expands with surface pressure. The ring like modes that characterise atmospheric shifts are a response to the distribution of ozone in high latitudes. The mechanics of the global circulation is driven not from the equator but from the poles and the Antarctic pole in particular. This is the reason why this chapter focusses on the southern hemisphere.


Source: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/jra/jra25_atlas/eng/indexe_surface11.htm

As noted repeatedly, the depression of the temperature of the ozonosphere over the pole in winter is due to the descent of very cold, relatively ozone deficient air from the mesosphere. This air is mixed into the mid latitude flow on the margins of the polar vortex by what is referred to as the Jet Stream that pares away at the margins of the tongue of mesospheric air. There is a knock on effect via chemical erosion of ozone by NOx species (NO, NO2) from the mesosphere. It is at 60-70° south latitude that the interaction primarily occurs. That interaction is the engine room of climate change.

70-80° south

At 70-80° of latitude the near surface air is warmer than the surface itself. Its warmth is due to transport from warmer latitudes by the westerlies and the presence of ozone throughout the profile. Slow descent is the order of movement within the atmospheric column enhanced  in the winter, when surface pressure is high and retarded or stalled completely when it is low. The lapse rate above 850 hPa is considerably flattened and in this cold desert with sparse precipitation there is little release of latent heat to contribute to that flattening. Ozone is present throughout the profile.

Practically speaking the entire profile is part of the ‘ozonosphere’ that continues into the mesosphere. Atmospheric dynamics are not related to the coupling of something that exist with  a mental construct that is locally irrelevant.

It is sometimes remarked that we do not understand the coupling of the troposphere and the stratosphere in high latitudes. I have a large dam on my property in which I swim. I have looked intensively for a Bunyip without success. We can give up looking for a tropopause in high latitudes. It’s not a favourable environment for that beast. Its far too cold and dry.

Winter air temperatures are markedly affected by the descent of very cold air from the mesosphere that operates to a schedule unrelated to the march of the sun or the duration of the polar night that runs from March 21st through to September 21st. The schedule is much affected by the overturning of the atmospheric column at and beyond the polar vortex. This phenomenon is driven by the ozone content of the air.

The cooling due to the descent of mesospheric air is episodic as is evident in the diagram below. The flip side of that coin is called a sudden stratospheric warming.  A warming occurs when surface pressure falls away, the tongue of mesospheric air retracts and the space that it formerly occupied is taken by ozone rich air. The polar vortex and the jet stream contract towards the pole, the westerlies stream further polewards and high latitudes warm accordingly. This is the ‘Arctic Oscillation/ Northern Annular Mode/Atlantic Oscillation or the SAM’ in action. Meteorologists however, with their noses very close to their weather maps, converse together talking about the waviness of the jet stream, the incidence of so called blocking events and Arctic outbreaks.60-90T


80-90° south


At 80-90° south the main dynamic affecting the temperature of the atmospheric column is the variable presence of very cold, ozone deficient air descending from the mesosphere. At this latitude it is the interaction between the mesosphere and the stratosphere and whether the air is descending or ascending that determines the temperature profile from the surface upwards.  December is the warmest month at 10 hPa due to relatively enhanced ozone in high latitudes, a near static atmospheric column gently ascending and the relative proximity of the sun bringing a 6% increase in solar irradiance by comparison with July.  There is a reversal of the circulation at 10 hPa in late December as the descent of mesospheric air finally stalls.  The cessation of a regime of vigorous interaction with mesospheric air results in a relatively invariable temperature regime from 100 hPa through to 10 hPa.  In November, very regularly from one year to the next, as the Antarctic closes up shop, the action centre shifts to the Arctic.

Enhanced descent of the atmospheric column containing ozone warms at the 600 hPa pressure level, particularly in winter/spring the cycle in temperature at this level influenced by descent rates, penetration ratios and the flux in ozone partial pressure.

At 300 hPa the Antarctic stratosphere is warmest in February reflecting enhanced long wave radiation and the temporary absence of mesospheric air from the circulation until it enters again, in March. Accordingly, the range of temperature is minimal at all levels above 300 hPa between February and March (see below).

At 850 hPa  the temperature peak is in January driven by the march of the sun.

It is plain that other than quite close to the surface, the forces responsible for temperature and ozone content of the upper and lower portions of the atmosphere are very different.

Back in the 1940s the Antarctic ozonosphere used to be conditioned by the presence of a tongue of mesospheric air throughout the year. At that time 10 hPa temperature was very much cooler than it is today.1hPa T variability10hPa variability in T

30hPa T variability

Inspecting the three diagrams above, we can infer that variability increases the closer one gets to the mesosphere. It is mesospheric air that is the source of that variability and it dances to the tune of surface pressure variation, a good indicator of the vorticity of the overturning, ozone driven circulation.


Change in the rate of uplift in the stratosphere (and descent from the mesosphere) associated with ozone heating outside the margins of the polar vortex occurs on all time scales but is most active in the month of July and August as is apparent above. It is at this time of the year that the interaction between the stratosphere and mesosphere over the Antarctic pole is most variable. The decline in the temperature of the Antarctic stratosphere at 10 hPa since 1998 indicates that mesospheric air is driving down the ozone content and the temperature of the ozonosphere at 10 hPa over time. This heralds cooling. An Earth system that is already on the cool side will become colder. Fortunately, mankind has many tools at his disposal to survive and prosper in adverse circumstances. Clothing helps. Warm slippers and thick socks keep the toes warm and we have a good supply of cheap fuel to keep interior of our shelters warm. In the absence of viable battery storage storable fuel needs to be available both day and night, when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow. There is no need to fast track so called renewable energy technologies with massive subsidies at the taxpayers expense. There is no ‘carbon pollution’ problem. We are in a regime of carbon enrichment that will serve all species well, including the polar bears that will find more to eat in summer but will unfortunately have to go hungry for a longer period in winter.

A note for theorists: The temperature of the stratosphere at 10 hPa cannot vary on the time schedule and in the manner seen in the last graph according to internally generated ‘planetary waves’.  That is a logical absurdity. Yes, waves there are, but in terms of modes of causation for the temperature of the stratosphere, look elsewhere. Bottom up thinking represents a failure to grasp the reality of ozone flux over time and its relationship with surface pressure, an inability to appreciate the factors responsible for the increase in ozone partial pressure in winter and factors responsible for the variability in incursions of mesospheric air. It represents an inability to grasp the importance of NOx in mesospheric air, the dynamics behind the jet stream and the origins of the ‘ozone hole’. Bottom up thinking makes it absolutely impossible to grasp the cause of the ‘annular mode’ phenomenon. It makes it impossible to appreciate the fact that the planetary winds evolve on all time scales changing the basic parameters of the climate system. Above all, bottom up thinking makes it impossible to model the atmosphere numerically. It dooms us to failure. It opens us up to superstition and exploitation. In general, it’s a disaster. Climate change is manifestly ‘top down’.

2014 is not a typical year. Every year is different. The geography of the stratosphere evolves over time. As we will see the influence of the stratosphere is indelibly imprinted on the surface temperature record.



In thanks to Stephen Wilde

To see the context refer to the post ‘Heresy and orthodoxy’ and the comments attached thereto: It’s here.

Just a bit of background first up. The sources of convection in the atmosphere are:

  1. Heating at the surface.
  2. Heat released to the atmosphere via condensation of water vapour.
  3. Heating due to the absorption of infra-red radiation in the 9-10 micrometre band by ozone.

Of these three, the most influential agent of convection is ozone but you won’t hear that in the annals of climate science so its not much good Googling the phenomenon.

Gordon Dobson who first measured ozone in the atmospheric column observed that low pressure cells had greater total column ozone than high pressure cells.

We are discussing the movements of the atmosphere and whether and to what extent the stratosphere is ‘stratified’, stable and to that extent unimportant in terms of weather and climate at the surface.

Dear Stephen,
Thanks for your comment. It takes guts to speak your mind and I respect that. You are always welcome here. You have impeccable manners.

Southern Hemisphere winter: There is a descent of very cold mesospheric air inside the polar vortex that reaches down to perhaps 300 hPa. The air is very cold throughout its profile and it gently descends. However, if we look at the temperature at 1 hPa in June 2015 it was -32°C and at 70 hPa -73°C . So, it is warmer at the top of the column than below and with that profile we would expect that it would be ascending.

Southern hemisphere summer: At this moment temperature at 1 hPa over the polar cap (65-90°C) is +6°C at 1 hPa, at 10 hPa it is -26°C , at 30 hPa it is -29°C, at 50 hPa it is -36°C and at 70 hPa it is -40°C. Directly over the pole, the air at 1 hPa is warmer than the average for the polar cap and warmer than the air over Australia or the Equator. The air is gently ascending with core ascent over the pole. Air from the mesosphere is excluded. It is in the state that some refer to as following a ‘final warming’ that happened in December. By March, this situation will revert to the winter pattern. Seventy years ago there was no final warming, no summer pattern.

Whether the air ascends or descends in the stratosphere over the pole is not a function of its temperature profile. It is a function of the strength of the ascent above 500 hPa outside the vortex where the presence of ozone is much enhanced in winter, strongly heating the atmosphere. It drives the density of the air above 500 hPa so low as to result in surface pressures down to 980 hPa in the entire band of latitude 60-70° south. It is the rate of ascent in this latitude band that forces descent over the polar cap and in the mid latitude high pressure cells. Ascent aloft forces ascent below 500 hPa all the way to the surface. The result is the constant presence of 5 or 6 Polar Cyclones of an intensity that equates to a regular tropical cyclone.

In winter the northern hemisphere heats very strongly driven by land masses that return heat to the atmosphere as fast as energy accrues at the surface. So, atmospheric mass shifts strongly to the southern hemisphere. As a result surface pressure over Antarctica reaches a resounding planetary maximum. Off the coast of Antarctica at 60-70° south ozone forces surface pressure to a resounding planetary minimum at exactly the same time. This shifts atmospheric mass from high southern latitudes to low southern latitudes dramatically increasing atmospheric pressure in zones that already experience high surface pressure.

But there is a big difference in how this circulation affects the ozone profile. What goes up must come down. Ozone that ascends into the upper stratosphere via a Polar Cyclone must come down somewhere. It is precluded from descending over the pole. That parking space is occupied by low ozone content, high NOx air from the mesosphere. So, it descends in the very broad high pressure cells that circulate between the equator and 40° of latitude at this time of the year where the body of air involved is so large that it much dilutes the the descending ozone. Nevertheless, ozone warms the entire stratosphere in these latitudes so that it is warmer in winter than it is in summer. That ozone descends into the troposphere affecting cloud cover.

So, just forget about ‘stratification’ in the stratosphere. The circulation throughout the entire atmosphere is driven by ozone that accumulates in the winter hemisphere. The base state of surface pressure is determined by the distribution of land and sea and the revolution of the Earth around the sun. The flux of ozone partial pressure driven by the highly variable interaction between mesospheric and stratospheric air at the winter pole works variations on that base state.

The accumulation of ozone outside the vortex, strongest on the margins of Antarctica,but occupying the latitude band 50-90° south has driven a 15 hPa loss of surface pressure over Antarctica in the last 70 years, in the process further opening the natural clear sky window over the Southern Oceans.

The good (or is it bad) news is that the process stalled about 1998 and is currently reversing. This is reflected in the gradual decline in the temperature of the stratosphere in high southern latitudes currently under way. Outgoing long wave radiation as measured at the top of the atmosphere peaked about 1998 and has been up and down since that time but nevertheless on a plateau. Tropical sea surface temperature is down over the last decade is down in eight of the 12 months of the year. These are the months where surface temperatures are most affects by the rate of entry of mesospheric air into the stratosphere in high latitudes.

What worries me is that the people who advise governments on climate related matters are not driven by observation and deduction but by ideology. We fear the followers of Allah but there are people equally determined, equally ruthless, in their demeanour the latter day descendants of Joseph Goebbels but without his swagger, and they occupy the high ground. These people will not be swayed by reason. They are social engineers with an objective in mind. To these people, the end justifies the means. There is no subtlety to them. They are brutes.

Stephen, thanks for the opportunity to make this comment. But for you I would have devoted the time to something else entirely and perhaps much less fun.

Heresy and orthodoxy

Overnight, I have a comment on my Chapter 3 from none other than Anthony Watts. ‘What an atrocious article’. Anthony has certainly nailed his colours to the wall with that comment. What is he on about? I reply below:

This post is an impromptu based upon some interesting material that turned up in a search on the words: ‘ozone surface pressure’ the day before yesterday.

In 1968 Gordon Dobson, the man measured the quantity of ozone in the stratosphere and revolutionized our understanding of the middle atmosphere  reviewed his life’s work (see here:  http://esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ozwv/dobson/papers/Applied_Optics_v7_1968.pdf) and wrote the passage italicised below that gives a good indication of the methodical approach that the man had to his work. The wartime government in the UK was concerned that aircraft contrails were giving information to the enemy about aircraft movements and his task was to measure the amount of water vapour in the air where these aircraft flew. But his enduring interest was to discover the nature of the atmosphere and the drivers of surface weather because he was a meteorologist :

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.

Dobson lectured in meteorology at Oxford. A biography of Dobson is provided by University of Oxford Department of Physics at:

There,  you will find this statement:

Dobson inferred correctly that the cause of the warm stratosphere was heating by the absorption of ultraviolet solar radiation by ozone,

Longwave radiation is not ultraviolet radiation.

Apart from being a direct contradiction of what Dobson had written in 1968 the notion that the stratosphere owes its temperature to interception of short wave ultraviolet light is nonsense and you must ask yourself why the person writing Dobson’s biography should take that diametrically opposed position. Anyone who thinks about it for a moment will decide that Dobson is right and his biographer wrong. If short wave radiation were responsible for the heating of the stratosphere it would be warmest over the equator. The stratosphere is a markedly heterogeneous medium in terms of its ozone content and in high latitudes during winter there are relatively warm parcels of air that are well out of the reach of short wave solar radiation. The only form of energy available to these parcels is outgoing long wave. Ozone rich air gets warmer. If short wave energy were the only form available to heat ozone there would be very little differentiation in the temperature of the stratosphere in winter and meteorologists would not be setting up this website to study the variations in ozone content, atmospheric temperature and geopotential height in high latitudes :  http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/

Between 200 hPa and 10 hPa we have 20% of the atmosphere. Above 10 hPa we have just 1% of the atmosphere of which the stratosphere takes up the interval to 0.1 hPa. Above o.1 hPa we have just 0.01% of the atmosphere and none of it is classified as stratosphere. Short wave solar radiation contributes strongly to the heating of the stratosphere above 10 hPa. Long wave radiation from the Earth contributes to the heating of the stratosphere throughout, and into the mesosphere as well. If you must choose one of these sources of radiation as being dominant it is the latter.

Dobson spent most of his life in the field of optics (generation, propagation, and detection of electromagnetic radiation) and in manufacturing instruments to measure the energy in short wave spectra. His spectrophotometer selected out the wave length that is absorbed by ozone in the the process of its destruction in the stratosphere and compared that to wave lengths unaffected by their passage through the atmosphere and the ratio between the two enabled him to infer the quantity of ozone in the atmospheric column. The use of his instrument  resulted in major advances in our understanding of the atmosphere. He manufactured these instruments in a garden shed at his home. Later when the instruments were manufactured by others every one of them was brought to his garden shed for calibration against his original Dobson Meter Number 1.

Dobson was an expert when it came to the difference between short wave ionising radiation coming from the sun and long wave coming in the main from the Earth itself.

If you take the position that the stratosphere is heated by short wave incoming radiation alone, you deny that ozone is a greenhouse gas. You deny that it absorbs at 9-10 micrometres, a wave length that lies in the peak of the earth’s spectrum of infra-red emission and you deny that it can be responsible, via its effect on the density of the upper atmosphere for variations in surface pressure. AND THAT IS THE ENTIRE POINT.

Dobson who had worked briefly at the Eskdalemuir Geomagnetic Observatory in Scotland  wrote as follows in the same report:

Chree,’ 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.

And the decision to close off that particular line of investigation was designed to effectively shut the door on inquiries designed to ascertain if there existed a link between the solar wind and the flux in surface pressure at the surface of the Earth via the impact of the solar wind on the electromagnetic medium that is the upper atmosphere. There are false trails in science but people like Dobson don’t go to the trouble of mentioning them. There is an air of regret in the last sentence of that paragraph: This investigation has never been repeated.

This sort of obfuscation and denial is rife in the world of climate science as it is carried on in academic institutions and the IPCC where Dobsons successor in atmsopheric science at Oxford was the lead author of the first three IPCC reports . Though it may have been possible to shut down this type of inquiry at Oxford it continues elsewhere and the evidence of the link between atmospheric pressure and geomagnetic activity continues to accrue.

In his 1968 summary of his life’s work Dobson wrote this about his very early observation that Total Column Ozone mapped surface pressure:

At this time it was well known from the work of Dines and others that the stratosphere was warmer in cyclonic conditions and colder in anticyclonic conditions, and Lindemann also suggested that these differences of temperature might be due to different amounts of ozone in the stratosphere-cyclonic conditions having much ozone and anticyclonic conditions little ozone. It also seemed just possible that cyclones and anticyclones might be actually caused by different amounts of ozone in the upper atmosphere. We know now that there is, indeed, more ozone in cyclonic conditions than in anticyclonic conditions but that this is not the cause of the different pressure systems.

When I read this paragraph I see arm twisting going on and Dobson resisting. He takes every opportunity to suggest that ozone drives surface pressure, repeatedly states the connection, reminds people that Lindemann thought that ozone drove temperature (and therefore density) and then, surprisingly, in the last dozen words he capitulates.

Dobson had a position at Oxford University that was no doubt important to him. My guess is that he was being leaned on  by  people who were dead set on pushing a different narrative. These people were well aware that if surface pressure were to be seen to be dependent upon the ozone content of the upper half of the atmospheric column it would spoil their narrative and they prevailed upon him to alter his words accordingly.

Tell me this: if the presence of ozone in the upper half of a column of ascending air is not the cause of low surface pressure then, by what process can ozone enter a column of ascending air that draws its air from the lower atmosphere that is ozone deficient?

The narrative that denies ozone a role in determining surface pressure requires strict separation of a ‘troposphere’ from a ‘stratosphere’ so that convection in low pressure cells is limited to the troposphere. In point of fact cyclogenisis (indicated by the wind strength and enhanced density differential) increases from the surface into the stratosphere in a polar cyclone. The geopotential height anomaly associated with the Annular Modes that represent the shift in surface pressure between high latitudes and the rest of the globe is greatest in the stratosphere.

My long post Chapter 4  makes the exact same point as the last paragraph by examining the temperature profile of each latitude band between the inter-tropical convergence and 90° south.

“It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words, and words can be molded until they clothe ideas and disguise.”
Joseph Goebbels

“That propaganda is good which leads to success, and that is bad which fails to achieve the desired result. It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success.”
Joseph Goebbels

If ordinary people can not be a little more intelligent the forces of darkness will prevail. For humanity’s sake, get angry. Do not let people who follow in Goebbel’s footsteps push you around.