42 THE WARMING OF THE INDIAN OCEAN. THE CANARY IN THE COAL MINE

CAUSE OF WARMING

In general the planet warms as surface pressure increases in low and mid latitudes.

The chain of causation runs like this: Increased surface pressure is associated with increased geopotential height, extra warmth in the atmospheric column and a consequent reduction in the quotient of moisture held in the very expansive ice crystal form. As cloud cover diminishes more solar radiation reaches the surface of the planet. When energy is absorbed by the ocean it is stored to depth and, by virtue of ocean currents, re-distributed, fortuitously warming those parts that receive little solar energy.

In contrast, when solar energy falls on land it is swiftly, in the main overnight, returned to the atmosphere. The warming of the atmosphere that is occasioned in northern summer, due to the extensive land masses of that hemisphere,  results in a global deficit of cloud cover in the middle of the year producing the annual maximum in planetary temperature when the Earth is furthest from the sun and solar irradiance 6% diminished by comparison with January.  It should be obvious (how did climate scientists miss this?) that the primary dynamic determining surface temperature is the temperature of the atmosphere in relation to the moisture that it contains.

REDISTRIBUTION

Please inspect the map below. The planetary winds drive ocean currents that mix cold waters from high latitudes and the ocean deep into the warm waters of the tropics. This is evident on the eastern margins of the oceans and particularly so in the southern hemisphere. The Indian Ocean is the odd man out with a weak cold current on its western margins and a warm, southward travelling, current on its eastern margin. The consequence is a relative backwater that is less  affected by the mixing of cold with warm water.

global-sst

It follows that the circulation of the oceans results in a very different thermal regime in each basin according to the  the ocean currents that are primarily driven by the winds. As the winds evolve, so do the currents.

The table below documents the extent of the temperature increase  over the last 68 years according to latitude and longitude in the three major ocean basins. For economy I focus on those latitudes that are warm enough to be relatively hospitable  to man.

sst-in-numbers

It is obvious that the bulk of the Pacific Ocean has not warmed to the same extent as the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. In terms of basin averages, in January the Indian Ocean has warmed by 0.87°C, The Pacific by 0.42°C and the Atlantic by 0.46°C. In July the Indian has warmed by 0.84°C the Pacific by 0.12°C and the Atlantic by 0.6°C. It is in July that the contrast between the oceans is strongest.It is the Indian Ocean that has warmed to the greatest extent.

THE SURFACE PRESSURE DYNAMIC

annual-slp

If we are to understand the differences in the rate of warming of the Ocean basins we need to comprehend to role of polar cyclones in high latitudes. Enhanced polar cyclone activity in the Antarctic circumpolar trough (red and orange in the map above) has, over the period of record, shifted atmospheric mass into low and mid latitudes from latitudes south of the 50° parallel. In consequence the high latitude west wind drift that is coextensive with the circumpolar trough, that drives cold water into the tropics, has accelerated. The flow is restricted at the Drake Passage between the Pacific and the Atlantic. Accordingly the Pacific Ocean cooled in parts and generally warmed at a much reduced rate when compared to the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

drake-passage

The Indian Ocean is like the canary in the coalmine, a companion to the miner to warn him of a change in the quality of the air. The evolution of surface temperature in the Indian Ocean offers a glimpse of unfettered reality in terms of the march of surface temperature across the globe as it is forced by change in cloud cover associated with shifts in atmospheric mass and the change in the planetary winds.

The remainder of this chapter explores the shift in atmospheric mass from high southern latitudes and its relationship to surface pressure in the rest of the globe and the Indian Ocean in particular.

The discussion is is not based on the hypothetical constructs of a climate model or the abstruse mysteries of so called ‘planetary forcings’.  Rather it is grounded in observation and measurement based on data as  presented in the reanalysis work of Kalnay et al accessible here.

The graph below represents the evolution of surface pressure in the Indian Ocean south of the equator.We must to answer the question: Why is it so?

slp-indian-ocean-south-of-equator

WHY WORRY

The entire southern hemisphere has not warmed in the month of December in the last 68 years. If surface temperature were being forced by increased back radiation from the atmosphere the southern hemisphere should warm in all months.  There is no reason to expect the degree of warming due to a hypothetical increase in back radiation to be different in one month to another.  We therefore discard the hypothesis that temperature at the surface is driven by the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere.  We look for other mechanisms to explain the flux in surface temperature. Radiation theory is all very well but in the real world, inoperable. The concept of anthropogenic warming is a distraction from fairyland. We can, to advantage, be more discriminating in what we choose to believe.

SURFACE PRESSURE DYNAMICS

sh-high-lat-surface-pressure
Figure 1 Sea level pressure in the region of the Antarctic circumpolar trough compared to sea level pressure in the entire region south of 50° south latitude.

Figure 1 compares the evolution of sea level atmospheric pressure in the Antarctic circumpolar trough to all latitudes south of 50° south. It is plain that the relatively short term fluctuations in surface pressure in the larger entity are greater than in the ‘trough’. In point of fact the trough expands and contracts across the parallels affecting surface pressure in adjacent latitudes and in particular across the Antarctic continent. The agent of change is polar cyclone activity that is energised by differences in atmospheric density between very different parcels of air that meet in the region of the trough in the very broad interface between the stratosphere and the troposphere between about 400 hPa and 50 hPa. It is in this region that the strongest winds are to be found. Polar cyclones are generated aloft. This is the nature of the ‘coupling of the troposphere with the stratosphere’, a concept that is a postulate of conventional climate science but remains a mystery so far as its modes of causation is concerned. If one is wedded to radiation theory it limits the mind.

slp-50-90-s-and-90n-to-50s
Figure 2 twelve month moving averages of sea level pressure either side of the 50° south latitude band encompassing the globe as a whole.

In figure 2 we compare the evolution of surface pressure south of the 50° south  parallel of latitude with surface pressure north of that same parallel. If the total mass of the atmosphere were to be invariable we would expect a strictly reciprocal relationship. As pressure falls on one side of the 50th parallel it should rise on the other. Plainly, the increase, decrease and subsequent increase in surface pressure in concert, between 1948 and 1964, is evidence of a planetary evolution in the quantum of atmospheric mass perhaps associated with enhanced loss in very active solar cycles and incremental gain in quiet cycles. That is a subject for another day.

Plainly, since 1964 it is the reciprocal transfer relationship that dominates. When atmospheric mass is lost south of the 50th parallel it moves north the 50th parallel and vice versa.This process of exchange is referred to as the Antarctic Oscillation.

slp-indian-versus-90n-50s
Figure 3

In figure 3 we compare the evolution of surface pressure in the Indian Ocean south of the equator through to 30°of latitude with that north of the 50th parallel.

indian-versus-90n-70-50s-two-axis
Figure 4

Figure 4 presents the same information as in figure 3 but on two axes with independent scales. It’s plain that broadly speaking the Indian Ocean south of the equator gains and loses atmospheric mass in parallel with all points north of the 50th south parallel but there are short term differences. These discrepancies are likely due to complex interactions between the southern and the northern hemispheres where, depending on the time of the year the Arctic Oscillation imposes change in the southern hemisphere or in the reverse, the Antarctic Oscillation imposes change on the northern hemisphere, tending to produce ‘mirror image’ results. Short term variations in these two data series  can be in opposite directions.

sst-indian

Figure 5

In figure 5 we compare the evolution of sea surface temperature in the Indian Ocean north of the equator  with that south of the equator.  The data is a twelve month moving average of monthly  means so as to remove the seasonal influence. It is plain that the more extreme variations occur north of the equator. Nevertheless the series are very similar in their evolution with generally coincident peaks.

sst-and-slp
Figure 6

In figure 6 we compare the evolution of sea level pressure in the Indian Ocean to the south of the equator with the evolution of sea surface temperature in the Indian Ocean north of the equator. Sea surface temperature tends to lag surface pressure by a few months. Plainly the Antarctic Oscillation affects sea surface temperature via coincident heating of the atmospheric column as reflected in increased geopotential height driving a reduction in cloud cover.

indian-ocean-sst-and-gph
Figure 7

Figure 7 looks at the relationship between geopotential height and sea surface temperature. Note that geopotential height is strongly related to sea surface temperature but the relationship is  not proportional. It is not the increase in sea surface temperature that drives the increase in geopotential height but warming of the air column due to the increase in the ozone content of the air within descending columns of air. These air columns reflect in their temperature the increased surface pressure, the increased warming at the surface and the increase in the ozone content of the descending air. At 200 hPa the air is warmer in winter than in summer due to enhanced ozone content in winter. The temperature of the air is independent of the temperature of the surface over which it lies.

slp-and-sst-monthly-indian
Figure 8 Sea level pressure in the Indian Ocean south of the equator compared to sea surface temperature north of the equator. Temperature lags pressure.by several months. There is pronounced warming in southern hemisphere winter months and occasional warming cycles in the summer months, notably in 2009-2010 and 2012- 2013. This warming is tied to the ozone content of the air in high latitudes.

In figure 8 we focus on monthly data.  Shown is the departure of a particular month’s data from the whole of period average for that month.

This graph reveals a climate system that is capable of swinging between a sea surface temperature anomaly of about -0.3°C and +1.2°C in an interval of between one and six years. The amplitude of this variation is almost double the increase in temperature that has occurred in the Indian Ocean over the last 68 years.  In this circumstance we should simply move on. There is nothing exceptional about this increase in temperature. There is no need to invoke new modes of causation to explain this phenomenon.

RECAP

Why has surface pressure and sea surface temperature in the Indian Ocean increased almost continuously since 2011? The answer lies in the forces that determine polar cyclone activity in the Antarctic circumpolar trough. Those circumstances relate to the  changing nature of the atmosphere in the area of overlap between the stratosphere and the troposphere in high southern latitudes.

As Gordon Dobson observed back in 1925, surface pressure is a by-product of total column ozone. Low pressure cells have more ozone aloft and exhibit a lower tropopause than high pressure cells.

Ultimately polar cyclone activity and surface temperature together with wind direction and intensity and the extent of mixing in the ocean  are a function of the ozone content of the air in high latitudes.

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:
https://www2.physics.ox.ac.uk/research/atmospheric-oceanic-and-planetary-physics/history/biography-dobson

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.