9 Mankind in a cloud of confusion

The last chapter ended with these words: If we want to understand climate change we need to come to grips with the processes that are responsible for the change in the partial pressure of ozone in the polar atmosphere. This is the parameter that drives surface pressure, the planetary winds, cloud cover and surface temperature.  We will see that ozone levels climb to a peak in the polar atmosphere in spring but to a variable extent between the years and across the decades. We will see that this process is independent of man’s activities. Furthermore, it is a sufficient explanation of the change in surface temperature that has occurred. But this is a long story that is rich in evidence and will take time in the telling.

The basic parameters of the climate system are forever changing in a fashion that precludes effective modelling, unless we properly apprehend the forces involved.

This chapter is intended to be a brief general introduction to the nature of the atmosphere. It is informed by an unconventional view of climatic processes. I hope that the chapters that precede this chapter have prepared you for this!

Two very different accounts of the nature of the atmosphere are presented, first my own and then what might be describes as the orthodox version.  The latter emanates from a private company in the UK, not the Met Office. It can be found at: http://www.weatheronline.co.uk/reports/wxfacts/The-Earths-Atmosphere.htm

In the latter there are a number of jolting errors: Nitrogen represents 78%, not 70% of the Earth’s atmosphere. Secondly, there is in fact pervasive horizontal and vertical motion in the stratosphere. The stratosphere is anything but homogeneous in its composition.  Thirdly, the ozone content in the stratosphere is in a state of constant flux. Fourthly, the concept of a tropopause, if by ‘tropopause’ we mean a notional boundary separating ozone affected and ozone free air, that is coincident with a ‘cold point’  can not be found outside near equatorial latitudes.

There is however, an elemental truth in the orthodox description of the atmosphere relating to its importance to humans dwelling at the surface and it is encapsulated in the following words: “The atmosphere protects surface dwellers from the high energy short wave radiation from the sun and the frigid vacuum of space”.  Let me hasten to add that these points  should be qualified. The southern hemisphere is in fact, due to the relative deficiency of ozone’ much less protected from short wave radiation than is the northern hemisphere, a curiosity that needs to be accounted for. On the other hand, the northern hemisphere that is land rich and therefore develops large areas of high surface pressure in the winter,  regularly gets a taste of the frigid vacuum of space. That’s why Santa Clause lives in the relatively salubrious climate of the north Pole rather than in Siberia.  The relative warmth of the Arctic Ocean is infinitely preferable to the blizzards of Antarctica or the gut freezing grip of Oymyakon in Siberia. In 1924 a temperature of −71.2 °C was reported for Oymyakon  indicating that the air gained only  15°C in its passage from the mesosphere to the surface. This is no place for reindeer. At about -60°C the snow and ice loses its slipperiness and sleigh travel is no longer practical. Santa would be locked up for Christmas.

TEMPERATURE AT THE SURFACE

 Over a short vertical interval of about a thousand metres the atmosphere has a temperature that is close enough to surface temperature to be comfortable to humans but only over a restricted range of near tropical latitudes and a larger portion of the summer hemisphere. Fortunately the atmosphere and the waters of the oceans actively transfer energy tending to make cold places warmer and warm places cooler. This relates to storage and transport phenomena and simple conductivity rather than any supposed ‘greenhouse effect’. The oceans are a great moderating influence. By virtue of their transparency the oceans store energy to depth. Maritime locations have a relatively invariable temperature regime while landlocked places are subject to inconvenient diurnal and seasonal fluctuations in temperature. Accordingly the ocean rich southern hemisphere is warmer in winter and cooler in summer than the land rich northern hemisphere.

THE DARK SIDE

MISERY

It is somewhat inconvenient that due to the tilt of the Earth on its axis, the winter sun falls low in the sky near the poles actually disappears below the horizon. The land surfaces do not store energy at all well.  In the land rich northern hemisphere surface temperature falls precipitously. The map above shows the extent of the inconvenience attached to the combination of low temperatures and dry moving air calculated as a ‘misery index’. This map relates to the early part of winter on January 18th 2016. The combination of cold dry air and the movement of the air induces a chilling effect.  the temperature ‘feels like’ the figures recorded above. The transition between black and blue takes one into the freezing zone.  Freeze drying chambers intended to freeze animal tissue operate at a temperature of -50 to -80°C , the latter being close to the temperature of the mesosphere and the middle stratosphere over the pole in winter.

On the dark side ozone proliferates intensifying the production of polar cyclones that collectively lower surface pressure between  50° of latitude and the pole. The transfer of atmospheric mass to lower latitudes and the summer hemisphere that is due to enhanced polar cyclone activity is recognized as the major mode of inter-annual climate change. It depends upon the amount of ozone in the air in high latitudes, the agent for the generation of polar cyclones. That depends in turn upon the extent of incursions of cold mesospheric air from above and tropospheric air from below. Both contain oxides of nitrogen that are involved with the destruction of ozone.

The transfer of mass engendered by waxing and waning polar cyclone activity engenders change in processes responsible for cloud cover and surface temperature. Northern landmasses in winter can suffer from accelerated descent of cold upper air as surface pressure rises in the mid latitudes. The extent of cloud cover in the mid latitudes is reduced as surface pressure increases over those parts of the oceans occupied by high pressure cells.  Cloud can reflect up to 80% of incident solar radiation. The energy stored in the oceans represents a buffer that, via the movement of the sea makes maritime locations more tolerable than inland locations and offers a store of energy that tends to maintain planetary temperatures above inconvenient minima, especially in spring and autumn. This buffer is sore needed in the northern hemisphere in winter.

The temperature of the surface of the Earth varies with change in the amount of energy  that finds its way into the ocean according to variations in cloud cover rather than any supposed inefficiency in the process of  transferring energy to space.  The atmosphere is invariably efficient in transporting energy from the surface of the planet to space. There can be no inhibition due to back radiation in an atmosphere characterised by constant movement. The properties of a thin envelope of gas surrounding a planet spinning in space that is warm at its equatorial region and cold elsewhere, where the gas envelope loses density with elevation at a very fast clip, all together, ensure that the celebrated ‘greenhouse’ mechanism is simply  a work of the imagination rather than an atmospheric reality. If the atmosphere was static, like a jelly, then perhaps, yes. But in an atmosphere that is characterised by uplift of any parcel of air that becomes slightly warmer…no, definitely not.

CLIMATE CHANGE

The atmosphere contains a very large molecule much subject to destruction via photolysis by short wave radiation from the sun, a molecule that is distributed quite unequally, a molecule that is energised by radiation from the Earth itself, that becomes the dominant influence on the circulation of the atmosphere at the surface and the temperature of the cloud bearing layer. The concentration of that molecule in the atmosphere  is affected by  interaction with the very much rarefied upper portion of the atmosphere that is hungry for oxygen and ozone and equally he Nox rich troposphere below. Ozone is subject to destruction via the impact of  Nox metered into the stratosphere over the poles at a faster rate in the southern than the northern hemisphere.  It is also affected by the uplift of NOx from the troposphere and particularly so over the equator. To a slight extent the atmosphere responds to changes in the Earth’s magnetic field forced by the solar wind due to the diamagnetic properties of ozone and the presence of particles carrying an electric charge in turn due to the activity of cosmic rays.  Once initiated a reduction in high latitude surface pressure is  magnified by the increase in the ozone content content of the polar atmosphere that immediately occurs. These factors combine to ensure that climate at the surface must inevitably change over time according to the concentration of ozone in the atmosphere and clouds in the sky.

FUZZY BOUNDARIES

Man makes sense of his environment and promotes communication, cooperation and order by classifying things according to their character and giving them names. He draws maps and puts up fences to suit his own convenience. He builds houses on the sea shore, on slopes subject to slippage, in terrain subject to earthquakes and valleys subject to flooding. This is not wise.

In his notions of what constitutes the atmosphere man is less wise than the birds who rise upon the thermals and wing their way across the hemispheres in vast annual migrations. In particular the notions of a troposphere and a stratosphere with a notional boundary between the two have hampered man’s understanding of his atmospheric environment. Earth is an orb spinning about the sun rather than a flat surface uniformly illuminated from above and the implications of this are difficult to grasp. This ‘orbital character’ fundamentally shapes the character of the atmosphere ensuring that in almost every respect the atmosphere is very different in its summer and winter modes. Climate Science of the official academic variety has yet to come properly to grips with this reality.

MISTAKES

The first mistake made in the description of the atmosphere that is provided below comes in the very first sentence. The atmosphere has none of the properties of a blanket. The second mistake is in the second sentence. For practical purposes, so far as atmospheric energetics is concerned, the atmosphere is not 200 kilometres in thickness but somewhere between 20 and about 30 kilometres in thickness, encompassing 97% and 99% of its total mass respectively … a mere skin.

Within  that skin like layer the atmosphere  has charged particles subject to electromagnetic influences and chemical interactions but less so at the equator and more so at the poles. The behaviour of these changed particles when the Earth’s electric and magnetic field is affected by the solar wind is a matter of conjecture but of fundamental importance to the climate system that can be nudged one way or the other  according to tendencies that are maintained over long periods of time. The Earth system itself tells us that this must be happening. There is a consistent date stamp in the surface temperature record indicating that polar processes govern the  inter-annual variation in  surface climate and that same date stamp appears in the historical evolution of surface temperature across the decades. The date stamp is applied to the pulse of extremes associated with those months of the year when polar atmospheric processes engineer the strongest shifts in atmospheric mass. And to top this off the movements in mass change high latitude surface pressure over long time cycles, of the order of perhaps 200 years so far as the Antarctic is concerned and shorter intervals for the Arctic.

The two hemispheres are very different kettles of fish. The change in surface pressure over time should not be swept under the table as a matter of little consequence because the distribution of atmospheric mass and surface pressure determines the temperature of the air that we perceive as we emerge from under the blankets each morning. Our first interest is to work out what to wear to keep ourselves warm.

HEATING, AIR DENSITY AND WIND

Wind is air in movement travelling from a high to a low pressure zone. Low pressure is produced by heating of the atmosphere reducing its density. The three major modes of heating are via contact with a warm surface, via the release of latent heat associated with condensation and sublimation  (as in a tropical cyclone) and via the absorption of infra-red energy by ozone utilizing the energy emanating from the earth itself. The proportion of the atmospheric column that contains ozone increases with latitude and more so in winter. Lowest surface pressures are produced in high latitudes where the air is cold and dense. One can with difficulty imagine the extent of the influence of ozone that is required to produce this phenomenon. It is this latter source of heating that drives shifts in atmospheric mass from high latitudes on inter-annual and longer time scales. In fact it drives Hadley cell dynamics and the change in the velocity of the winds that accounts for the relative share of the tropics inhabited by cold waters up-welling from the deep. One can perhaps appreciate the shift in thinking that is required to accommodate this reality.

THE PLANETARY WINDS

When one emerges from ones cosy bed in the morning and steps outside the air is observed to be warm or cold, moist or dry according to the point in the compass from which it blows. between the frigid zones surface temperature is dictated by the origin of the air mass present at the time. The temperature of the air is influenced by the surface over which it blows. The sea is much windier at the surface than the land and it more strongly reflects the surface pressure regime that varies with latitude. The surface pressure regime is a function of the distribution of atmospheric mass that depends upon the ozone content of the air.

In the Frigid zones the origin of the air alternates between the warmer surface that is always more equatorial in origin and the very much colder air aloft. If surface pressure is high the air will be descending.

PLANT FOOD AND THE ‘STOCKING CAPACITY’ OF THE FARM

The most limiting nutrient  so far as plant growth is concerned is carbon dioxide. The increase in the carbon dioxide content of the air enables plants to survive with less water. The increase from near starvation levels to levels that will continue to be well short of optimal is enabling a well documented greening of the arid lands and will increase the carrying capacity of the globe. If man exhausts sources of energy that involve the emission of carbon dioxide plants will have to survive on the carbon dioxide breathed out by warm blooded animals. Then perhaps it will be a question of the survival of the fittest.

THE CONVENTIONAL VIEWPOINT

Atmosphere

atmsophere a

5 The enigma of the ‘cold core’polar cyclone

70-90S

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.

SST

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.

1000hpa

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

850

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.

CONCLUSION

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.

 

 

 

1 HOW DO WE KNOW THINGS?

When we are  trying to understand how a machine or a process works we can approach via a study of each of its particular elements including its physical, chemical and metallurgical character, its motions, the sources of energy that drive the system and the lubricants that facilitate its smooth working.  That’s the long route.

By contrast just a moment or two of observation of the working machine can be revelatory.

In a flash we observe that the machine has two wheels; you sit on the seat, grasp the handlebars and provide energy with your legs going up and down. We witness its performance over time. It might be just a minute long, it might contain the going round in circles part, the climbing the hill part or the free-wheeling part and perhaps the falling off part. But just imagine how little we would learn if the only part we saw was the front wheel and the handlebars with the hands hanging on.

Until 1996 when a 48 year history of the atmosphere became available in the form of reanalysis data a portion of natural world was missing from the field of view. That portion was the mid to high latitudes of the southern hemisphere where the global circulation of the atmosphere is determined. Unfortunately, the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change had already made up its mind that man was the agent of change and disaster was at hand.

Via reanalysis, we can now see the entire structure of the atmosphere. It is apparent that the nature of the atmosphere changes over time. Today, in 2015 we have nearly sixty eight years of data. But it appears that we need at least two hundred years of data to see the workings of the atmosphere through its shortest cycle of change.

The Earth system can be known via the results that it produces even though the  sixty-eight year period of observation is short…comparable to that where the bike rider  settles into his seat, takes his feet off the ground and starts pedalling.

We don’t have to travel into the Antarctic stratospheric vortex and measure the concentration of NOx that erodes ozone to know what the Antarctic vortex is doing. We observe the perennial deficit in ozone in the southern hemisphere by comparison with the northern hemisphere and the long cycle of change in Antarctic surface pressure. Ozone partial pressure, the temperature of the stratosphere, the kinetic energy imparted to the atmosphere, surface pressure, wind velocity and the evolution of the planetary winds are inseparably linked. If the tongue of mesospheric air over the Antarctic shrinks away, less erosive NOx is drawn into the stratosphere and ozone partial pressure increases, the air warms driving a further fall in surface pressure in a circle of self reinforcement that has headed in the same direction for the last sixty-eight years, the entire period of modern observational record.

To all those earnest chemists who will maintain that the ‘ozone hole’ is due to the works of man I would say, stand back.  Appreciate that the ozone hole occurs at that time of the year when the ozone content of the southern stratosphere PEAKS outside the perimeter of the ozone deficient polar vortex that is loaded with mesospheric air. Yes, it PEAKS. Think about the circular motion of the atmosphere over the pole and what governs the presence of mesospheric NOx that erodes ozone. Appreciate the fact that, in winter, the entire atmospheric column from fifty to seventy degrees of latitude is rich in ozone throughout most of its depth. At this time the high latitude stratosphere takes on the role that the troposphere seems to perform in determining the movement of the air. The stratosphere becomes the ‘weather sphere’. Outside the tropics rules of thumb that enable us to differentiate between a ‘troposphere’ and ‘stratosphere’ no longer apply. In terms of convection, neither surface temperature nor the release of latent heat of condensation can explain convection in high latitudes. That role belongs to ozone. It is ubiquitous, unaffected by cold traps, has a ready supply of energy to drive warming both day and night and that energy is at the very peak of the spectrum of long wave energy emitted by the Earth at 9-10 µm, virtually unlimited in its supply. Hence the warmth of the stratosphere and the vigour of a polar cyclone.

Why is the stratosphere warm? Is it primarily because the ozone molecule absorbs at 9-10 µm serendipitously at the peak of Earth energy emission rather than photolysis by very short wave radiation from the sun that impinges in the main at the upper margins of the stratosphere above 1hPa? Is the warmth of the stratosphere that varies little between day and night, much less in fact than the variation at the surface, not the result of the constant emission of long wave radiation from the Earth itself, day and night and via the transfer of energy from low to high latitudes, across the seasons? How can we account for the fact that the mid latitude stratosphere is warmer in winter than it is in summer?

Gordon Dobson, who developed the use of a spectrophotometer almost a century ago, to measure total column ozone, discovered that ozone distribution mapped surface atmospheric pressure with 25% less ozone in the core of a high pressure system than at its perimeter. Zones of low surface pressure exhibit the highest total column ozone. Plainly there is more ozone in the upper air, and the stratosphere is warmer when surface pressure is low.  A cold core polar cyclone is a warm core polar cyclone aloft.  Is it not the warming aloft that drives uplift?  Indeed, warming in the stratosphere is linked to the creation of polar cyclones. Palpably ozone drives surface pressure and the high latitude jet stream. Ozone variation is therefore linked to the annular modes of inter-annual climate variation and its northern hemisphere manifestation, the Arctic Oscillation. Why, where and how do variations in ozone occur and at what time? Dobson established the fact that there is a direct relationship between ozone and weather phenomena. That was a vital clue as to the origin of climate change. That all important ‘clue’ just slipped through the cracks. It was replaced with a particular notion that, while it has no relation to what we actually observe, is a better fit to the ideology of the age. We choose to believe what we desire to believe.

We establish the presence of a high pressure cell of descending air by measuring atmospheric pressure at the surface. There is a zone of high pressure centred on latitude 30° in both hemispheres. But where is the head of a high pressure cell located? Is its head in the stratosphere, and at what level?  How does that play out in determining the quotient of cloud that shelters the Earth from the rays of the sun? If ozone came and went on a 200 year time scale what would that mean? Would we not need 200 years of observation to properly describe the climate of any particular place?

The temperature of the surface of the Earth will vary if there is change in either the input side or the output side. Changes on the input side can account for both warming and cooling. In the 1960s the northern hemisphere cooled and Antarctic summers have been getting cooler for the last fifty years. Logic and observation are important.

At particular places the direction of the wind changes coming from a warmer or a cooler place, it contains more or less moisture and there is more or less cloud to shield us from the burning rays of the sun. Surface temperature is intimately tied to the global circulation of the air and the distribution of cloud. This in turn is governed by shifts in atmospheric mass to and from Antarctica. Ozone is inextricably linked to surface pressure phenomena and shifts in atmospheric mass from high latitudes.

So far as the ‘greenhouse effect’ is concerned, is this mental construct compatible with cooling? The temperature of the surface across the entire globe varies strongly in winter tied to polar atmospheric processes that are inseparably linked to the arrival of the polar night and the intensification of the stratospheric circulation in winter. Is the greenhouse effect compatible with warming that occurs only in winter, only in one hemisphere? Is it compatible with a hiatus in warming. Is it consistent with the cooling of the entire system that is evident in the last decade? At a very basic level, we need to answer this very simple question: Can air that is free to move constitute an effective insulator? Or is it better described as a medium for energy transfer from one place to the other just like the ocean, except that in the case of the atmosphere the ‘other place’ is in the vertical dimension……’space’ where that energy is dissipated, never to return.

Science could be described as the practice of critical examination of the validity of the interpretations drawn from data. The problem with ‘climate science’ as it manifests in the works of the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (I.P.C.C) is that it fails to offer a plausible explanation for the patterns of warming and cooling that we observe. In the 1960s and early 70s, the Earth warmed in the southern hemisphere while cooling in the northern hemisphere. Of what use is a brand of climate science that cannot explain the patterns of variation  that we actually observe?

Here is the ultimate kicker: The basis of the alarm concerning the way the globe has warmed over the period of record needs to be critically assessed at the most elementary level. Is the warming that has undoubtedly occurred beneficial or harmful? Looked at dispassionately, the tropics is the only location where the Earth is sufficiently warm in all seasons to enable photosynthesis to achieve peak rates of carbon assimilation. The remainder of the globe experiences temperatures that are sub optimal for photosynthesis for part of, or the entire year. Plants use carbon dioxide in the air to create complex carbohydrates that are the basis of the food chain upon which all species depend. Carbon dioxide at 400 ppm., from a plants point of view, is at a concentration that is very close to starvation levels. When CO2 concentration is enhanced, plants require less water and the entire planet greens. This improves the environment, a thoroughly desirable end. From the point of view of mankind, sitting at the head of the food chain, from the point of view of man as farmer, the Earth is cooler than is desirable.

What I offer in the chapters to come is a novel explanation of the real world of climate change. That explanation is grounded in the reality of temperature change as it is observed. If you are keen to see the book of about 30 chapters that I have written on this subject over the last year simply subscribe to this blog to receive it in serial form.

I want to make a difference. The sooner the better. Don Quixote is riding again and this time he is not tilting at windmills but building them at our expense. One would not mind perhaps if he did not have his hand in our pocket.

I need help to make a difference. If you could pass on the address of this blog to your friends that will materially help.

If there is anything that is unclear, obscure, badly expressed, poor grammar, lousy spelling or needs further explanation or you want to challenge my conclusions I want to hear about that too. Please email me erlathapps.com.au