There is a notion that the climate of the Earth is deteriorating under the influence of generations of ‘developers’.  It is asserted that the burning of fossil fuels is increasing the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causing the air at the surface of the planet to warm. The word sustainability is hip. The generation  taking up the reins of power, the best educated ever, seeks to act responsibly. In particular they see they want to curtail is the rape and pillage of scarce resources.

Concurrently with the issue of sustainability it is asserted that population growth must be contained and same sex marriage legitimized. The left has abandoned Marxism and taken on the environment. Coal is the new demon.  The exploitation of animals should cease whether on the land or in the sea. This bandwagon has been especially popular in places where living standards are already high and the social security net well established. The thought is that we should be satisfied with less because ‘more now’ will mean less for succeeding generations. The waggoner’s look around and they see is other snouts in the trough. That disturbs them mightily.I see this behaviour when I feed my animals. The dog gets very agitated when the cat is fed.

But hey, before we get too excited we should ask the question ‘what temperature regime is most desirable’.

A good place to begin is with an assessment of the range of climates that the Earth currently provides.

With the advent of satellite surveillance from the late  1970s we have comprehensive data for the atmosphere across the entire globe. Prior to that time, the climate record is deficient lacking data for much of the oceans and the great bulk of the southern hemisphere. With the knowledge of relationships between atmospheric variables that are a product of the satellite age, and taking advantage of computers, it has been possible to project backwards on the basis of rather sketchy data, but only with any confidence as far as 1948. The resulting climate record was made available in 1996 as ‘reanalysis data’ and is accessible at: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl  This data is good enough for a broad brush analysis.

Striking an average for the last 69 years  we can describe the situation with respect to surface temperature. In so doing we create a snapshot of the planet.

Broadly speaking temperature varies with latitude. But by virtue of the unequal distribution of land and sea between the hemispheres the thermal regime in the northern hemisphere is very different to that in the southern hemisphere. In the mid latitudes summers are warmer and winters colder in the northern than in the southern hemisphere. The Arctic has a summer of almost five months when temperature rises above the freezing point of water. The Antarctic is frozen on a year round basis, an impossible situation so far as human habitation is concerned.

What is most comfortable? When people retire from work and are able to relocate to the places they prefer, they go to the Mediterranean, to Florida, the Bahamas and to Queensland.  In the south west of Western Australia at 30° of latitude I observe that retired people hook up their caravans and migrate north in the winter. In general, people migrate to the tropics to avoid cold winters. On that basis, let’s face it quite squarely; much of the planet is on average too cold for personal comfort. People vote with their feet.

Imagine that you are a businessman, a farmer or a retired person from another planet visiting Earth to assess its suitability as a location to spend your leisure time,  invest your inherited wealth or hard won superannuation. You are a warm blooded creature. You like a free-wheeling life and can see no virtue in decorating your frame with multi-coloured clothing. If the mind boggles at this prospect perhaps imagine that you are the seed of a hermaphroditic plant travelling on the wind. Where would you like to land?

Here are the choices according to latitude. Average temperature by latitude

If you are a photosynthesising plant you will prefer the zone inside the red rectangle where photosynthesis at a sustaining rate is possible.If you are not wearing multi coloured clothing look for all round temperatures in excess of 25°C. If you are a cold adapted plant consider the data in the table below.

Optimum Temperature Cold limit for CO2 uptake
Agricultural C3 plants that have open stomata during the day 20-30°C 0 to -2°C
Deciduous trees in temperature zone 20-30°C -3 to -1°C
Coniferous trees 10 -25°C -5 to -3°C

How do you rate the real estate?

The life forms that inhabit Earth have evolved over time. We know that species can adapt to some extent when circumstances change. When conditions become too adverse organisms migrate to seek what they need elsewhere. The  Earth provides multifarious environments. However, looked at in the broad, and without the rose coloured glasses, cold weather is the Achilles heel of planet Earth, and in particular pole-wards of 30° of latitude. Cold is the circumstance that is most threatening when one is caught outdoors, even when one is endowed with the multi coloured clothing.

We are always curious as to how plants and animals can exist in the most adverse circumstances. This is because, outside the tropics, our planet is by and large, inhospitably cold in part of, or even the entire year.  We feel the pinch of it.

Why then do we assume that a warming planet is a bad thing?


If we look at the question simply in terms of the productivity of the Earth as dictated by surface temperature and precipitation a stark reality emerges. The map below shows net primary production (or carbon output from photosynthesis less that used in respiration). Mysteriously, many of the most productive parts are as yet sparsely populated.

Net pimary production

Source: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/HANPP/

One is surprised at how little of the Earth performs well in terms of plant productivity.  All life forms depend upon the productivity of plants. Carbon output (as carbohydrate and cellulose) depends upon photosynthesis and is limited by temperature and precipitation. The most productive areas lie between the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer, the warmest and wettest areas on the surface of the Earth. The bulk of the rest of the Earth is by comparison a relative wasteland of, at best ‘seasonal’ productivity. Here food must be preserved, stored or transported from more productive locations to sustain a population over the period when nothing much grows. The alternative is to grow plants in a heated chamber supplemented with light and fed with compressed carbon dioxide out of thick steel walled steel cylinders at considerable expense.

In the tropics temperature ranges between 20 and 30°C across the year.  Three crops are possible within the space of a year. Latitudes south of 60°south, in every month, and north of 60° north, between October and March, are uniformly inhospitable to plant life. No plant survives permanent burial in ice and snow. Between these extremes, at 30-60° of latitude the northern hemisphere winter months can be excruciatingly cold and although cold adapted plants can assimilate carbon at quite low temperatures the rate  is excruciatingly slow. Snow adapted species have needle shaped leaves that hang down to inhibit the accumulation of snow so that they can remain free of that burden and access light. Trees with broad leaves drop them prior to winter choosing to hibernate rather than lose branches as they accumulate snow. In the subtropics of the southern hemisphere, although winter temperature is less limiting and there is little chance of a damaging burden of snow  the area of suitable land is relatively small and much of  it inhospitably dry. This is the domain of the hardy, drought tolerant, evergreen eucalypt that, when introduced to Africa and the Mediterranean, greens the dry country and displaces the local vegetation much to the chagrin of the local inhabitants who see this interloper as a weed.

A dispassionate view of the Earth, considering its ability to promote plant life, sees the planet as distinctly cooler than is desirable.  Earth could support more life if it were warmer, especially in winter. Accordingly we find that the most populated parts of the globe lie in the well watered tropical and subtropical  climates, mostly on the eastern side of the major continents where precipitation falls in the warmer summer months. These climates favour photosynthesis at rates that are respectable.

The basic premise that a warming planet is bad for mankind is just plain silly. The reverse is in fact the case. Modern civilization enables humans to live in relatively cool circumstances only when provided with food, elaborate and expensive shelter and energy for heating the interiors of structures. Its called ‘central heating’.Venturing outside one must don many layers of clothing, making work tedious. But it’s less tedious and precarious than working in space or on the moon. Humans do adapt very well, but there is always inconvenience and cost involved.

In locations where winters are cold animals are provided with warm shelters. They no longer forage because there is nothing to forage on. Food grown in summer is stored for the winter.

The pattern of consumption of carbohydrate  by human species appears below:


It is plain that there is a mismatch between production and consumption. This reflects:

1. The ability to move commodities. In short, transportation involving machines and energy.

2. Diversity in living standards. Machines and energy are not universally available.

3. A great deal of spare capacity for further growth of population based on exploitation of potentially productive areas currently sparsely populated. Much greater numbers could be catered for if water can be made available in warm but dry locations where population density is currently very low. With machines and energy this is possible.

Given that the temperature of so much of the globe is limiting because its too cool, a little extra warmth is highly desirable. The increase in the length of the growing season associated with extra warmth, a characteristic of climate change in the northern hemisphere, has been beneficial.It should be welcomed. It should not be the cause for concern.

Given that plants use less water as the carbon dioxide content of the air increases that circumstance should be welcomed.

Relax, its all good on the climate front.

The real problem is that our societies are so poorly organized that, although energy is cheap and the capacity to produce machines has never been greater than it is at the present time there is currently a deficit in demand for machines. In many parts of the globe, including the heartlands of western civilization youth can not find useful employment. Banks are awash with funds and interest rates are at historic lows. Governments are spending a lot more than they earn without taking up the economic slack. Commodity prices are falling. No-one wants to buy.

This will end badly. Flights of fancy are counter-indicated. We must look to create the greatest good for the greatest number.





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.


Immediately beneath this sentence is the interface of the ESRL Website at: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

ESRL interface

The interrogation that is entered in the form relates to sea surface temperature at 20-40° south latitude around the entire globe (0-360° longitude) taking into account every month of the year adjusting for the reducing circumference of the Earth as latitude increases, presented as a plot. That plot is below.Graph SST

I live at 34° south latitude and at this latitude there is mostly ocean rather than land. Home is on the south-west coast of Australia where the winds are mostly onshore. So, air temperature tends to follow sea surface temperature. I am a farmer and all farmers take a strong interest in climate. I grow grape vines and make wine. The wine expresses the variations in the climate from year to year. To make good wine, the best wine possible, I need to know what is going on. I am told that the climate is getting hotter and I may need to plant later ripening varieties to avoid damaging heat during the ripening period.

All that we can say about this data is that temperature has increased in both winter and summer. But spring and autumn is important to me. The vine leafs out in spring and the fruit matures in autumn. I need to dig deeper.

The data can be acquired in the form of an array of monthly averages as seen below. Its a long sheet of data and I show you just the top and the bottom of the sheet.

SST data top

SST bottom

I want to show you how to work with the raw data to get a much better idea of what is going on in your habitat. Since climate varies primarily according to latitude I define my own habitat, in the first instance, as a band of latitude. If you prefer, you can focus on just part of a latitude band and perhaps air temperature rather than sea surface temperature if you happen to live far from the sea. In this exercise I am going to focus on the entire band of latitude because I am interested in the way climate changes globally.

Copy the data directly from the ERSL website and paste using a simple ‘notepad’ format. Save this as a text file. This is what the notepad sheet looks like.

SST notepad

Next step is to import that data into a spreadsheet via the import wizard available in excel.Text import wizard

Below, the spreadsheet is represented in part with some calculations in red text and a graph of the data in red.

Annual average SST 20-40° south

I have added each months data from January through to December and divided by 12 to yield the annual average. Then I have plotted the column in red. What can we see:

  1. There has been an increase of 0.4°C in temperature in this latitude band over the last 67 years. However, this is within the range of the most extreme inter-annual variability (more than 0.5°C) so it is possible that the factor causing the temperature to swing between the years is also responsible for the whole of period change.
  2. Extreme inter-annual variability prior to 1978 and much less after 1978.

The expansion of the Hadley cell and the consequent southward migration of the mid latitude high pressure cells after 1978 is a feature than many observers have remarked upon. High pressure cells dominate this band of latitude. Summers are dry. In winter fronts attached to low pressure cells that impinge at this time of the year bring rain. The lack of variability post 1978 suggests a reduced incidence of cold winds from the south.  High pressure cells are relatively cloud free. If there is less cloud it can’t come and go. With an expansion of the Hadley cell one would see fewer fronts associated with low pressure cells so the fluctuations in surface temperature would tend to diminish along with the rainfall. Indeed rainfall has declined by 15-25% depending on location.


By adding all Januaries and dividing by 68 (68 Januaries) the average temperature for the month of January over the period 1948-2014 is obtained. It is 22.32°C. Paste the formula across the page. Graph the result as the average monthly temperature.

Average daily temperature is sub optimal for photosynthesis (25°C is optimal) in all months but daytime temperature in the height of summer is almost warm enough to be optimal.  Growth of plants is very slow in the winter months. An extension of the warmth of February into the months of March through to June would increase plant productivity but unfortunately, without irrigation this can not happen. However, grape vines are hardy plants and this is their natural habitat and the best wines come from non irrigated vines. Less rain means less fungus and less spraying so it’s all good.

I want to see how sea surface temperature has evolved over the decades. The process is shown below. First copy and paste the average monthly temperature for the entire period to the head of the spreadsheet immediately adjacent and to the right of the raw data. Follow in the next row with a label for each month. In the next row calculate the difference between the raw data for a particular month and the average for that particular month for the entire period. For instance  raw data for January 1948 is a temperature of 21.957°C and the average for the entire period for the month of January is 22.32128, the difference being 0.36428°C. This statistic is the ‘anomaly’ with respect to the average for the entire period.

Anomaly 1948-56

I plot the anomaly for the period 1948-56 together with the average for that period of 9 years and you see it above. Its plain that this decade was cooler on average especially in April and May. I work through the decades.

When I get to the decade 1997-2006 I see this:

SST Anom 20-40S 1997-2006

The months that were very cool in the first decade are very warm in 1987-96. The months that were slightly anomalously cool in 1948-56 are still slightly anomalously cool.  This is interesting. If there is a greenhouse effect due to increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere why is there so small a temperature increase in spring and so large an increase in autumn over this sixty eight year period?

So, I plot the average for each decade and here it is:

Decadal change

It turns out that in the intervening decades, and in particular from 1957 until 1976 the first half of the year has been very much cooler than both the first and the last decade. There is very little change between the first and last decade. Much wider swings have occurred in the past. The decade 1977-86 was much warmer in spring and early summer than it is in the last decade. The decade 1997-2006 that saw some of the warmest years globally in terms of annual averages is the coolest within this particular band of latitude.

Obviously, there is a factor involved that can produce warming AND COOLING and climate change is not a one way train.

Obviously, annual averages are not the appropriate metric if we want to discover the sources of natural variation in climate. We need to focus on monthly data.

What is to come in this blog/book?

If you are genuinely interested in the question of whether man has an influence on the climate then read on.  If you want to know what the sources of natural climate variation are then read on. But if you would rather engage in a ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ as most of us do when we go to the movies or to church on Sunday, and you are ideologically committed to the notion that man is responsible for climate change and are not willing to consider any other possibility then this is not the place for you. In short order you will be confronted by things that will bother you and you will become uncomfortable.

If you can look at data and ask yourself ‘why is it so’ please come along for the ride.




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