The Tao That Can Be Spoken …

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

As I mentioned in an earlier post,  I’ve started to look at the data from the TAO/TRITON buoy array in the Pacific Ocean. These are an array of moored buoys which collect hourly information on a variety of environmental variables. The results are quite interesting, because they relate directly to the subject of my previous post, “It’s Not About Feedback“.

Before I get to the buoys and what kind of diurnal cycle their temperatures undergo, let me first look at what a common extra-tropical temperature cycle looks like. I used Mathematica to get the hour-by-hour temperature records for the US Historical Climate Network (USHCN) station nearest to where I am at the moment, Santa Rosa, in the wine country north of San Francisco in California.

Figure 1. Location of the diurnal temperature records shown in Figure 2. Santa Rosa is in an interior valley at some distance from the true local maritime climate of say Bodega Bay. Thunderstorms are uncommon in that area, and summer days are often cumulus-free. The Golden Gate Bridge and a bit of San Francisco can be seen at the lower right.

So let’s look at what kind of temperatures it takes to make good wine …

Figure 2 shows how the temperature varies with the time of day around Santa Rosa.

Figure 2. Daily temperature swings in Santa Rosa, California.

This looks like you’d expect, or at least like I’d expected. The surface air temperature rises and falls with the sun. In addition, as the night progresses the cooling slows. It all seems very reasonable, and gives us a comparison for the surface air temperature information from the TAO/TRITON buoy array.  Let me start with the location of the array of buoys:

Figure 3. The TAO/TRITON buoy array (squares with blue centres) in the tropical Pacific Ocean, along with average ocean temperatures.

You can see that a number of these buoys are in the “hot pool”, the area in the western South Pacific just south of the Equator. It is shown in the darkest red. Not all buoys collect the same information, but a large number of them have hourly air temperature records.

What follows are some of the preliminary results from my look at that TAO/TRITON data.

I have explained elsewhere what I have called my “thunderstorm thermostat hypothesis”. I propose that a combination of cumulus clouds and thunderstorms maintain the tropical temperature within a fairly narrow range. This is done by means of sequential thresholds which, when each is passed, marks a change into a different type of circulation.

In the morning, the sky is clear and the air is generally calm. When a critical threshold is passed, cumulus start to form. Each cloud marks the centre of a rising column of air. The surrounding air is descending to replace the rising air.

Note that this is not a negative feedback in the sense usually discussed. It is not dependent on the exact feedback from clouds and water vapor and whether it is positive or negative. Instead, it is a change between atmospheric quiescence and a defined circulation pattern containing rising air, clouds, and descending air. The net result is increasing wind, increasing evaporation, reflection of incoming energy, and surface cooling.

Particularly in the warmer regions, the temperatures continue to rise despite the emergence of the cumulus circulation regime.As the air temperature continues to rise, another threshold is passed, and a new circulation pattern emerges. This pattern is set by the thunderstorms that drive the surface air deep into the upper troposphere. Again, this is not a negative feedback, but a new form of self-organized criticality.

In the context of my hypothesis I was interested to look at the hourly air temperature data from the buoys. My first procedure as always is to look at each and every record. This is a critical step which is often omitted. Figures 4–6 show the hour-by-hour average temperature variations of the 67 buoys that collect air temperature:

Figure 4. Air temperature records from the first 24 TAO/TRITON buoys, ordered from the Western Pacific to Eastern Pacific. Each record shows the hour-by-hour average temperature over the entire record for that buoy. Records are colored from red to blue, from the warmest to the coldest. The colors are sequential, showing relative rather than absolute temperature. This group is from the western Pacific.

Figure 5. Air temperature records from the second 24 TAO/TRITON buoys, from the central Pacific.

Figure 6. Air temperature records from the final 19 TAO/TRITON buoys, from the eastern Pacific.

Here the value of examining each and every record becomes apparent. Five of the records, from the central Pacific, are strangely jagged and obviously quite unlike the others. I don’t know why these buoys are so anomalous, particularly as despite being dissimilar to the others, they are quite similar to each other. In any case, I simply took the easy path and removed them from the dataset. Figure 7 shows another view of the various records, before removing the questionable observations.

Figure 7. Hour-by-hour averages of all of the TAO/TRITON recorded air temperatures. Note the “jagged” records, which I removed.

One big difference is visible immediately. The tropical oceanic records only have about a tenth of the day/night temperature swing, due to the huge thermal reservoir of the ocean and the fact that it is heated at depth. The land is warmed by the sun only at the surface, which (in addition to having no thermal mixing and lower thermal mass) leads to much greater variations in day/night temperature swings over the land.

In order to try to understand what’s going on, after removing the jagged records I converted each of the records to anomalies about their averages. Figure 8 shows the anomalies of the remaining records:

Figure 8. Temperature anomalies, all valid records. I have shown two days (repeating the average anomalies) to clarify what happens overnight. Heavy black line shows average temperatures, all records.

I kind of understand what’s going on in Figure 8. The onset of cumulus formation, shortly before noon, is quite visible. I was surprised to find that the onset of cumulus on average actually cools the air temperature. I had expected it to merely slow the warming.

The reasons for the “shoulder” where temperatures tend to level out between about 9PM and midnight is less easy to understand. I suspect that it is related to the onset of the nocturnal overturning of the upper mixed layers of the ocean, which (in my experience at least) doesn’t start until a few hours after dark. But that is conjecture about the shoulder, I welcome alternate physical explanations.

I was surprised to see that despite the large difference in local average temperature, the daily swings were quite similar in size.

I find it significant that the afternoon peaks of the cooler areas (blue) are higher than those of warmer areas. I interpret this as an indication that the afternoon peaks are knocked down by strong afternoon thunderstorm action in the warmer regions.

We can get more insight into the patterns by splitting them into the warm, medium, and cool records. First, Figure 9 shows the averages of the warmer buoys.

Figure 9. Hour by hour anomalies, warmer areas. Data is shown repeated over two days for clarity. Heavy red line is average of the warmer buoys.

There are a couple points of note. The onset of the cumulus just before noon is very visible, and does more than slow the warming. It actually cools the air temperature significantly. The “shoulder” in the curves after dark are also quite evident and strong.

Next, Figure 10 shows the midrange temperature buoys, along with the average of the warmer buoys (red line) for comparison:

Figure 10. Medium temperature TAO/TRITON buoy hourly averages. Heavy green line shows the average of the selected buoys. Red line shows the average of the warmer temperature buoys.

My interpretation is that when the temperature is not as hot, the thunderstorms are more successful in keeping down the peak afternoon warmth. The effect of the cumulus onset, however, is quite similar, as are the same evening “shoulders” in the curves.

Finally, Figure 11 shows the cooler buoys. Again I have included the average of the warmer buoy records for comparison:

Figure 11. Cooler temperature (eastern Pacific) TAO/TRITON buoy hour-by-hour records. Heavy blue line shows average of cooler buoys, heavy red line shows average of warmer buoys.

The average of these cooler buoys, along with some of the individual cooler records, is starting to resemble the Santa Rosa record shown in Figure 2, losing the shoulders on both sides of the afternoon temperature peak. I interpret this as the result of weak cumulus generation and infrequent thunderstorm formation in the cooler areas.

That’s what I’ve found so far. I have no big conclusions out of all of this, other than that overall it provides clear evidence of the homeostatic mechanisms which I described in my last post. As such , it provides support for my underlying claim, that the tropical temperature is regulated by the interplay of cumulus and thunderstorm clouds.

There’s more to look at in the records. There are unanswered questions in what I show above. Why is the time of cumulus onset about the same, from the coolest to the warmest regions? Heck, I don’t know, the investigation of climate homeostasis is not far advanced, mostly the question never even gets asked, much less investigated. So I’m mostly swimming alone in the dark here, and swimming upstream against scientific orthodoxy to boot. I have also not yet split out warmer days from cooler days, to see what difference that makes in the onset time of the morning cumulus regime. Always more to do, and never enough time.

Regards to all,

w.

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85 Responses to The Tao That Can Be Spoken …

  1. Ed_B says:

    I watched a video of a Chicago professor explaining the greenhouse theory. I was totally shocked that all the equations are based on “static” analysis. Your dynamic approach to the earths heat balance is more realistic. I think you will end up ‘forcing’ a lot of college professors to go back to school.

  2. Graeme W says:

    Interesting :)

    I looked up the location of the five bouys with the atypical patterns and three of them are located just south of Hawaii, though the other two don’t appear to have any obvious geographical points nearby. That has me suspecting it’ll probably be related to ocean currents. I don’t know where I can find an ocean current map to see if those locations are near current boundaries where they could be affected by multiple currents of different temperatures.

  3. dlb says:

    A very interesting post. How about the evening temperature shoulder is due to clouds acting as a thermal blanket? When they dissipate around midnight the air once more cools. Of course one has to assume clouds have a greater greenhouse effect than the water vapour they contain and I don’t know if this has been studied?

  4. Ex-Wx Forecaster says:

    Until research focus shifts away from CO2, the important questions about the how and why of climate and weather will never be answered.

  5. patvann says:

    I luv readin this stuff. ALL of it.

  6. Charlie A says:

    Over how long of period did you average to get the temp vs hour plots for the buoys? A full year?

    Perhaps the air temp at all of the buoys have the same sort of wiggles, but only on a few do the wiggles stay at the same time throughout the year, while on the others the wiggles are also there but get averaged out/smoothed out since the timing of the wiggles vary during the year.

    Very intriguing, thought-provoking article. Thanks.

  7. Rick K says:

    Willis, thanks for your posts. I always enjoy them.

    Does your view of homeostatic mechanisms which regulate the tropical temperature by the interplay of cumulus and thunderstorm clouds have any bearing or provide any insight on longer term climate changes (ice ages and the like)?

    Or, are those things a totally different animal altogether?

  8. gnomish says:

    shoulders possibly produced by phase change?

    morning:
    clouds form and block solar radiation from delivering energy to the surface = shoulder

    sunset:
    condensation from self nucleation releases latent heat = shoulder

    just a thought

  9. Mac the Knife says:

    Willis,

    Very interesting, both the data and your conjectures! Those 5 ‘jittery’ data sets are an odd bit, with the buoys being stationed from 155W to 180 and both N and S of the equator. Anomalies with their sensor package construction? Buoy proximity to atolls? Corrosive effects from application of sea gull dung?!!

    Also odd, at least to me, is the temperature anomaly ranges for the ‘hot’ and ‘cool’ buoys temp data are very similar but the temp anomaly range for those buoys in the ‘medium’ data set have a somewhat smaller delta T range than either the ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ ones. Curious…. I would have thought they would show an increasing delta T trend line, from the more cumulus and thunderstorm regulated ‘hot’ buoys to the less homeostasis regulated ‘cool’ buoys!

    From Figure 3, it appears there are more ‘hot’ buoys located in the range from 180 – 155E, but the last sentence from Figure 4 refers to these as being from the Western Pacific…??

    I look forward to your subsequent posts on this topic – Thanks!!!

  10. David McKeever says:

    This reminds me of the kind of charts of chaotic heartbeats that you see in Gleick’s ‘Chaos: The Making of a New Science’.

  11. Queen1 says:

    Willis, you amaze me. Thanks for doing the hard stuff so that idiots like I can just read!

  12. Latitude says:

    “The reasons for the “shoulder” where temperatures tend to level out between about 9PM and midnight is less easy to understand”
    =======================================================================
    On a cold day….yes, you know it gets cold in the tropics too……we call that dinner time.
    It’s not unusual for it to feel warmer than it did all day too….

    The hiccups are usually either a sticky needle or a short……………….

  13. timetochooseagain says:

    Interesting that the diurnal range of the medium mean temperature bouys is smaller than both the colder and warmer bouys.

  14. timetochooseagain says:

    BTW, are these annual mean diurnal cycles? How does the diurnal cycle vary within the year?

  15. David Falkner says:

    Before I read further and forget I was going to say this:

    Might the PM ‘shoulder’ be from release of latent heat stored in clouds? Those two shoulders would then show you the anomaly where the clouds form and disperse. That’s a (slightly educated ;) ) guess from me.

  16. David Falkner says:

    Oh, phooey. I see gnomish beat me to it.

  17. trbixler says:

    Could it be that the clouds are driven by the atmosphere temperature and pressure changes. This would make the cloud formation much less dependent on the sea surface temperature. I will admit that the amount of water vapor should be dependent on the sea surface temperatures but the change of the atmosphere temperature is much more dynamic because of its lower thermal mass. So maybe one would see a time shift in the cloud formation between various sea surface temperatures. Seems like a daunting instrumentation and logging problem.

  18. Hoser says:

    Charlie A says:
    August 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Yes! What is the effect of solar angle? Seasonal variation might be interesting.
    Could you compare a place like Ft. Bragg, CA? Or Hilo, HI? Since you probably don’t have buoys at all latitudes, it’s difficult to compare. Nevertheless, you still might find temps in other locations dominated by the ocean, at different latitudes.

    By the way, I imagine these buoys must be tethered. If so, the tension must be amazing on the lines.

    Nice post.

  19. Gary Hladik says:

    http://www.taoism.net/ttc/chapters/chap01.htm

    The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
    The name that can be named is not the eternal name
    The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
    The named is the mother of myriad things

    Thus, constantly free of desire
    One observes its wonders
    Constantly filled with desire
    One observes its manifestations

    These two emerge together but differ in name
    The unity is said to be the mystery
    Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders

    ————————————————————————

    I assume tranlations differ, but the one above is very pretty.

    Thanks, Willis.

  20. GogogoStopSTOP says:

    I think this is a great piece of work; great hypothesis & analysis. I love your innate sense that this is metastable process… that the climatic process is a cycle driven by the sun on a daily basis & by the sun on an annual basis.

    A suggestion I would have is to not refer to a “cumulus & thunderstorm-like” nomenclature. But rather to think in terms of the energy induced into the atmosphere-ocean by the height of the resulting cloud structure & the vertical circulation energy that results. I would suspect that cumulus clouds result in less overall circulation. Thunderstorm circulations result in very high clouds, very strong circulation, lots of mass transport.

    There might be a continuum of energy between small cumulus accumulation to large thunderstorm circulation. But, there may be some homeostasis that would result in a “quantum-like” relationship.

    Love your thought pattern. Please, I humbly submit my thoughts for your consideration. My engineering background is far from anything like science!

  21. Kevin Kilty says:

    That the misbehaving buoys all exhibit the same pattern suggests…(drum roll) …manufacturing problem. Very common with small runs of items.

  22. Ric Werme says:

    Figure 2 shows how the temperature varies with the time of day around Santa Rosa.

    This looks like you’d expect, or at least like I’d expected.

    Not me, at least not a typical New Hampshire day! Certainly not on a cloudy day. What I often see is a quick uptick at sunrise as the inversion warms up. Then a slower rise as convection gradually builds and the atmosphere approaches instability. At this point, air masses can go up and down as everything is neutrally buoyant, or at least the atmosphere tries to mix convected air to keep things buoyant. Now the temperature climb mostly plateaus and days breezes kick in as wind aloft gets deflected down to the ground. Now there’s a huge mass of air to heat for any further ground temperature increase, hence the plateau. Only when the sun approaches sunset does the mixing stop, wind drops, and then as trees and ground radiate away the day’s heat, near ground air temperature drops and air flows down the valleys to reestablish the inversion.

    A couple things that are different – California coastal communities often have winds that blow through the night, at least I can remember one night on the Oregon where I could hear a gust coming closer and closer, and then blow all the warm air out of the sleeping bag. I eventually put my jacket over my head and did without a pillow, worked much better. You have those goofy trees that grow downwind because their buds got dessicated in the unprotected wind.

    Also, New England is closer to the jet stream, we may simply have faster winds above us blowing in chilly air from Canada so mixing will bring down air that hasn’t had much of a chance to warm up before reaching us.

    On a cloudy day, we can have a temperature excursion that’s only a few degrees.

    Oh yeah, the post is on buoys. I’ll go read it….

  23. Richard M says:

    In many areas of the world the other end of the cycle is limited by the dew point. As the temp drops at night it slows down as the the dew point reached. Just like clouds prevent excess heating, this prevents excess cooling.

    It all gets down to good old H2O.

  24. Kevin Kilty says:

    I went to the tao/triton site to read about the history and characteristics of the array. I was surprised to see that a large portion of the array was deployed before 1990, that the are actually three arrays (Atlantic/Indian oceans also), it provides SW and LW radiation at perhaps one-half of the sites, and, this is the most interesting part, it records temperature at ten levels down to 500m depth. The entire array was operational in time for the super el nino of 1998. Surely this is a repository of data for testing hypotheses about el nino and climate warming?

  25. u.k.(us) says:

    Would it be too much to ask, for Mr. Eschenbach (aka Willis), to explain the meaning of “tao” ,
    I looked it up, but the definitions left me wanting.
    Maybe in another post Willis :)

  26. Nice willis.

    The thunderstorm thermostat hypothesis is an interesting beginning. Not sure what if anything it has to do with the effects of adding more GHGs to the atmosphere. I suppose if the tropics stay well regulated, then the excess heat goes poleward. it would be nice if the heat from the tropics could be dumped from the tropics straight into space. Of course, we could see that. Any way. I like the charts.

  27. DesertYote says:

    I must be noted that Santa Rosa is micro-climate city! I just moved from the area. BTW, Santa Rosa is also the home of one of the rooftop weather stations.

  28. intrepid_wanders says:

    Ric Werme says:
    August 14, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks Ric for the explanation. I was slightly surprised that Willis did not see the same behavior with this and his exceptional explanation of how the night-time measurements of less energetic CO2 fall back to sea-level at night. The only missing mechanism (for me at least) was the night-time inversion. I wonder if non-valley (mountains or deserts) temperatures would have the shoulder profiles like the ocean measurements.

  29. jorgekafkazar says:

    David Falkner says: ‘Oh, phooey. I see gnomish beat me to it.’

    The role of solar radiation must be included. Note that incoming sunlight goes thru a somewhat complicated rise and fall as the zenith angle changes. At high zenith angles (6 am, 6 pm), sunlight has to pass thru more atmosphere. At some point, the zenith angle becomes low enough that the ocean albedo will go to zero. This reverses after solar noon. The presence of clouds complicates this.

  30. David Falkner says:

    Hoser says:
    August 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Yes! What is the effect of solar angle? Seasonal variation might be interesting.

    Not being an astrophysicist, I would guess that the effect of solar angle would be directly incorporated into insolation, as observed.

    steven mosher says:
    August 14, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    I suppose if the tropics stay well regulated, then the excess heat goes poleward.

    Which excess heat are you referring to? Could you kindly point out the graph in which you have observed the excess heat?

    The thunderstorm thermostat hypothesis is an interesting beginning. Not sure what if anything it has to do with the effects of adding more GHGs to the atmosphere.

    Still, the summer data from DMI also seems to be strangely regular. In fact, most summer data seems to be strangely regular. Almost as though sensitivity decreases as temperature increases. Now how would something like that happen without some kind of ‘thermostat’ mechanism?

  31. Andrew says:

    As someone else pointed out, there are arrays of bouys in other ocean basins. What do their diurnal cycles look like?

  32. Tim Clark says:

    Willis,
    The 3 degree temperature increase expected by the IPCC in response to [CO2] increases is predominantly ascribed to increased water vapor and it’s corresponding GHG effect, as you well know. However, figure 11 confirms a lower- high end temp anomaly and a lower- low end temp anomaly (i.e. “cooler” at both ends) for the warmer ocean water. If warmer ocean waters have greater evaporation than cooler ocean waters, the data from these bouys is not consistent with the dogma from the IPCC bible regarding water vapor “feedback”. What’s your take on this.
    Gates, you can add your irrelevant excuses if need be.

  33. Willis Eschenbach says:

    steven mosher says:
    August 14, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Nice willis.

    The thunderstorm thermostat hypothesis is an interesting beginning. Not sure what if anything it has to do with the effects of adding more GHGs to the atmosphere. I suppose if the tropics stay well regulated, then the excess heat goes poleward.

    Thanks, Steven. Huge, incomprehensibly large amounts of energy are constantly moving from the tropics to the poles. Total average downwelling radiation in the tropics is high. The atmosphere is moist and warm so there’s lots of downwelling longwave (DLR), the sun is hot and square to the surface so there’s lots of solar energy. In the tropics the sun is around 300 w/m2 on a 24/7 basis, and DLR is around 400 w/m2, call it 700 watts/m2 all up.

    The change projected from a doubling of CO2 is 3.7 w/m2 … in an arena where the average downwelling radiation of all types is on the order of 700 w/m2, that’s only half a percent change.

    it would be nice if the heat from the tropics could be dumped from the tropics straight into space. Of course, we could see that. Any way. I like the charts.

    I doubt our ability to detect a half-percent change in this huge and varied a system, whether directly or by its effects. I don’t think our measurement systems are good to that degree of accuracy.

    What I don’t doubt is the ability of the clouds and the thunderstorms to deal with that 3.7 w/m2. You ask an important question—what happens to the excess energy? The common claim is that the excess energy must perforce be translated into a temperature rise. Sounds convincing, but it’s wrong.

    The simple answer is, the system automatically cuts down the incoming solar by something like that same amount, and the balance is restored.

    The mechanism to do this is that the cumulus clouds and the thunderstorms form earlier in the day. This reflects back additional sunlight, and sends it out to space, and the balance is maintained. (It’s a bit more complicated, extra sun makes the thunderstorm wheels spin faster so some of the excess energy goes to the poles and is radiated out, but local albedo control is one of the major features of the system I describe. Think of the clouds as a temperature controlled mirror, reflecting more and more sunlight as the surface warms and the clouds increase.)

    Thanks for your comments,

    w.

  34. Willis Eschenbach says:

    u.k.(us) says:
    August 14, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Would it be too much to ask, for Mr. Eschenbach (aka Willis), to explain the meaning of “tao” ,
    I looked it up, but the definitions left me wanting.
    Maybe in another post Willis :)

    The passage quoted by Gary Hladik is hard to improve on.

    w.

  35. coldlynx says:

    I am surprised that the daily effect of solar angle is not visible.
    The air are heated with the same degrees/hour in the morning from 6 to 12 despite a very different solar angle to the ground.

  36. Rob R says:

    An adaptive iris rather like Richard Lindzen has hypothesised but acting on a day to day basis?

  37. Duster says:

    For ocean current data and GIS mapping try looking here:

    http://www.oscar.noaa.gov/datadisplay/

  38. Richard111 says:

    Fascinating reading. I was not aware sea surface temps had such a small diurnal change. A comment above mentioned sea currents. I believe the area with the highest temps is also the area of most sea current and I think least depth of water. I assume these effects will impact TOA?

  39. Richard111 says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    August 14, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    “Total average downwelling radiation in the tropics is high. The atmosphere is moist and warm so there’s lots of downwelling longwave (DLR), the sun is hot and square to the surface so there’s lots of solar energy. In the tropics the sun is around 300 w/m2 on a 24/7 basis, and DLR is around 400 w/m2, call it 700 watts/m2 all up.”

    Does water vapour not have an effect absorbing near infrared before it gets to the surface? (I haven’t a clue how this is done so it might be included in your calcs.)

  40. Peter Plail says:

    Not being familiar with weather in the tropics, can I ask what effect wind would have on the processes that Willis has described. Does it simply change vertical columns of rising air to angled columns, effectively pushing the cumulus downwind. Also would there come a point at which wind velocity is sufficient to entirely disrupt the process.

    I understand that as land areas heat more swiftly than sea, we get winds blowing from land to sea during the day, reversing at night. If wind is at all disruptive then I would expect this to affect the buoys closer to land more than their mid-ocean brothers.

  41. Martin Lewitt says:

    @David Falkner,

    “Which excess heat are you referring to? Could you kindly point out the graph in which you have observed the excess heat?”

    There is the excess of the day part of the diurnal cycle over the night time part, the excess heat of the tropics over the poles, excess heat of the land over the oceans (and vice versa, seasonally and daily) and the excess heat of the surface over the top of the troposphere and the excess heat of the ocean surface over the depths. Temperature differences drive the various circulations, although some of the drive is buoyancy, of warm fluids over cold, fresher water over saline, air with higher absolute humidity over that with lower humidy, etc.

    As a first approximation, the climate is a heat engine, transporting solar heat to space either directly through radiation or to the top of the atmosphere and poleward where it then gets radiated directly or at the top of the atmosphere there.

  42. stephen richards says:

    Willis

    A sequence of satelite images showing the rise and fall of the thunder clouds would add a je ne sais quoi.

  43. stephen richards says:

    Peter Plail says:

    August 15, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Other direction Phil. The land warms, air rises sucks air in from the cooler sea.

  44. Don K says:

    Hoser says:
    August 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    By the way, I imagine these buoys must be tethered. If so, the tension must be amazing on the lines.

    ====================

    Yes, they do seem to be tethered to anchors made from a couple of tons of old RR wheels. the cable is made from 3/4 in nylon in the lower part and 3/8 inch wire rope in the upper part. Doesn’t seem strong enough to survive a really big storm, but apparently it is.

    see: http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/tao/proj_over/mooring.shtml

  45. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Richard111 says:
    August 15, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    August 14, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    “Total average downwelling radiation in the tropics is high. The atmosphere is moist and warm so there’s lots of downwelling longwave (DLR), the sun is hot and square to the surface so there’s lots of solar energy. In the tropics the sun is around 300 w/m2 on a 24/7 basis, and DLR is around 400 w/m2, call it 700 watts/m2 all up.”

    Does water vapour not have an effect absorbing near infrared before it gets to the surface? (I haven’t a clue how this is done so it might be included in your calcs.)

    In clear air (no clouds) most downwelling longwave radiation, over the ocean or not, originates in the lowest few hundred metres of the atmosphere. Reference not to hand (Geigers venerated “The Climate Near The Ground”), but from memory about 75% originates from under a hundred metres.

    w.

  46. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Don K says:
    August 15, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Hoser says:
    August 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    By the way, I imagine these buoys must be tethered. If so, the tension must be amazing on the lines.

    ====================

    Yes, they do seem to be tethered to anchors made from a couple of tons of old RR wheels. the cable is made from 3/4 in nylon in the lower part and 3/8 inch wire rope in the upper part. Doesn’t seem strong enough to survive a really big storm, but apparently it is.

    see: http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/tao/proj_over/mooring.shtml

    As a long-time commercial fisherman, sailboat deliveryman, and single-handed sailor, my gospel text in these matters is the inestimably valuable “Oceanography and Seamanship” by William Van Dorn. Among other things he gives the formulas for deep-water anchoring of the type you mention. As you observe, the rope seems light. But the key is the stretch in the rope. Heavy rope yanks at the end of the pull, while thinner rope goes boing and comes back without breaking.

    And that’s just one small part of the book, the other chapters are as fact-filled and practical. If you’re serious about the ocean as I am, you should get a copy.

    w.

  47. Dr A Burns says:

    Well done Willis.

  48. Ralph says:

    >>The reasons for the “shoulder” where temperatures tend to level out
    >>between about 9PM and midnight is less easy to understand.

    For that, you need a glider pilot. The shoulder in the temperature profile is caused by an overbuild of cumulus early in the morning.

    Early in the day, the atmosphere is relatively moist, due to the lower temperatures. So as the day warms up, cu starts forming at low altitudes, blocking out the sun. This prevents full insolation for a while, and the heating effect will be greatly reduced. Heating does slowly continue, but the atmosphere is getting drier now, and so the cloudbase will rise and the lower level cu will slowly dissipate (cloud tops limited by an inversion). Thus the skies will clear and the ground can warm much more than before, with full insolation. Sometimes a critical temperature is achieved, when the clouds may reform later in the day at higher level.

    On the following SkewT graph, the green line is actual atmospheric dewpoint, and the red line is the actual atmospheric temperature (measured with a radiosond).

    Let’s look at the daily events for this graph.

    Early morning
    Temp 15oc. Good temp dewpoint split – no cloud, full insolation.
    Mid morning
    Temp 18oc cloud forming between 900 and 800mb (3,000 – 6,000ft) Thats 3,000 ft of cloud – so inslolation is lost.
    Midday
    Temp 28oc cloud forming between 740 and 720mb (7,700 – 8,400). Thats only 700 ft of cloud – so inslolation is much greater.
    Early afternoon
    Temp 36oc cloud forming between 690 and 330mb (10,000 – 28,000). Thats 18,000 ft of cloud – inslolation lost again.

    This will cause the observed insolation and temperature ‘shoulder’ .

    Also please note that thermal (convection) formation is greatly assisted by a non-uniform temperature profile at the surface. So a region with hot an cold areas (tarmac and forest) will produce much better thermals (and thus heat dissipation) than a uniform region. This is perhaps another reason why the sea does not dissipate its heat energy as efficiently as the land.

    .

  49. Rosco says:

    The earth a dynamic system ? – not according to every piece of “science” explaining greenhouse gases I have read. Everybody knows the earth is subject to equal radiation over the disk exposed to the sun of one quarter of the solar “constant”. This is then further reduced by an albedo of ~0.3. If you don’t observe the earth in this manner you can’t calculate the actual temperature every climate scientist knows the earth will be without GHGs – minus 18 C of course. If you do a dynamic analysis you achieve unrealistically high temperatures approaching +60 C instead. The fact NASA reports the moon can reach 123 C doesn’t support a dynamic analysis on earth – the moon has no GHGs and is therefore irrelevant – just like every observed fact or piece of data that doesn’t fit the GHG theory.

    I can’t believe anyone can keep a straight face and repeat GHG crap.

    The scientific institutions are falling into disrepute. I read on Wikipedia that a blackbody radiator the same distance from the sun would have a temperature of ~ 5 C. What a load of rubbish – the moon hits 123 C according to NASA.

    Belief in GHGs controlling everything seems to force the stupidity gene in adherents into overdrive and cause verbal diahhrea – just like the rant I wrote above.

    I can’t believe any scientist would accept the constant irradiation model as in any way reflecting reality and then go on from there to try to justify the ridiculous proposition.

  50. Brian H says:

    Ralph;
    So a region with hot an[d] cold areas (tarmac and forest) will produce much better thermals (and thus heat dissipation) than a uniform region. This is perhaps another reason why the sea does not dissipate its heat energy as efficiently as the land.

    Suggests an interesting role for islands in convection, “overturn”, and T-storm generation.

  51. wayne Job says:

    Willis you really must stop doing this serious science stuff it may cause pain and heart burn in some circles. Apoplexy even, please continue. Logical analysis is an anathema to the consensus.

  52. Bill Illis says:

    I was going to mention this on your last post, but the diurnal cycle of the atmosphere as well is exceeding small.

    Once you get to 850 Mb, the diurnal range falls to about 0.5C and stays around that level until about 50 Mb, which is well above the tropopause.

    The large energy variations throughout the day on land, moves up and out fast enough, so that the atmosphere hardly varies at all throughout the day.

    Remember at the height of the day, an average 960 watt/m2 is coming in from the Sun and none is coming in at night. The atmosphere, however, reacts as though it only changes by +/- 5 watts/m2 or so throughout that 24 hour period.

    http://www.arl.noaa.gov/documents/JournalPDFs/SeidelFreeWang.JGR2005.pdf

  53. Ric Werme says:

    intrepid_wanders says:
    August 14, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Ric Werme says:
    August 14, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks Ric for the explanation. … I wonder if non-valley (mountains or deserts) temperatures would have the shoulder profiles like the ocean measurements.

    Ralph’s glider pilot view of the atmosphere at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/08/14/the-tao-that-can-be-spoken/#comment-719857 works for me. It’s not quite what I expected. While I’m not a glider pilot I know enough not to argue with their observations.

    Perhaps this is a decent hypothesis. Of course, it would help if I actually had spent any time in the tropics:

    Daytime heating at the sea surface is limited by the huge thermal mass underfoot. The early afternoon falloff may come from convective winds both bring air down from aloft and by mixing the top layer of seawater, allowing stable-temperature water to cool the surface. As insolation decreases, mixing improves. The clouds are still around and they act as a blanket reflecting IR back to the surface limiting heat loss. As the clouds evaporate overnight they open the window for radiational cooling and that continues until dawn. (Well, it continues until clouds reform, the early morning sun overwhelms the cooling effect.)

    On your notes about mountains and deserts:

    Mountain tops have a small diurnal temperature change, as they stick into air that for the most part doesn’t have direct heating from contact with the ground. Here in New Hampshire, Mt Washington’s temperature and wind profile reflects the local air mass more than diurnal effects to the point it’s are to point out the diurnal effect. It helps that it’s almost always windy. Compare http://vortex.plymouth.edu/mwn24.gif with http://vortex.plymouth.edu/1p124.gif . The latter is a grass airstrip in the Baker River Valley some 50 miles away from Mt Washington. It’s cloudy and rainy today, on sunny days they’ll have a 30 degree (F) diurnal variation.

    I good rule of thumb here is to take Mt Washington’s morning temperature, add 30 degrees to it (for dry adiabatic lapse rate) and you have a decent estimate of the day’s high temperature away from the mountains.

    I don’t have much experience in low deserts, but in high deserts the dry soil is a poor heat conductor and the relatively thin air has less heat content. When my brother lived in Flagstaff AZ, he tried to end a bicycle ride well before sunset as the afternoon’s ground heat quickly radiates away through the dry air. OTOH, there are some valleys in Oregon’s desert lined with basalt that present extreme UHI and baked my family well into the night during that hot 2003 summer.

    No shoulder effect in either area that I know of.

    One random mountain observation – while crossing the North Cascades by bicycle, I noticed I had a tail wind uphill and head wind down the other side. I figure on windless days convecting warm air masses tend to flow up the land and make a plume above the mountain tops. On windy days, wind blowing across a ridge may curl around on the downwind side and produce upslope wind there too.

    Ralph – comments welcome!

    —————————————-

    Richard M says:
    August 14, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    In many areas of the world the other end of the cycle is limited by the dew point. As the temp drops at night it slows down as the the dew point reached. Just like clouds prevent excess heating, this prevents excess cooling.

    My summertime rule of thumb is to take the dewpoint, knock a few degrees off that and that will be close to the night’s low temperature. A temperature plot often shows two exponentials – one rate down to the dew point, then a lower rate as both fall until dawn. In winter, low dew points mean there’s so much less water in the air, and the nights are so long, that rule doesn’t work. If the air is really dry, the temperature reaches the dew point and doesn’t slow down until dawn. (Both these require windless nights, a little stirring really messes up the inversion.)

  54. Ric Werme says:

    Brian H says:
    August 15, 2011 at 4:15 am

    Ralph;
    So a region with hot and cold areas (tarmac and forest) will produce much better thermals (and thus heat dissipation) than a uniform region.

    Suggests an interesting role for islands in convection, “overturn”, and T-storm generation.

    I think one of the naked eye navigation techniques is to spot islands beyond the horizon by seeing the clouds above them. Hmm, I guess the first clouds of the day must form over islands, so that would be the best time to look.

  55. erl happ says:

    Nice bit of observation Willis. And lots of persistence too in arranging and calculating all the data. Observation of the real world. Can’t get enough of it.

    What all that cloud says to me is that in tropical latitudes most of the energy is being lost in evaporating water and generating uplift. So, energy movement is via an evaporation/ transport phenomenon. This part of the world generates little more top of atmosphere direct radiation than the polar regions. So, no scope for a feedback loop relating to long wave energy returning to the Earth in these latitudes.

    Centered on latitude 30 degrees we have cells of descending air that is dry, being compressed and warming, and that is where most of the radiant energy exits, from high in the troposphere. Very little water vapour there to generate any feedback so low sensitivity there too.
    If you look at the evolution of atmospheric precipitable water over time you will find that it fell into a hole but has recently recovered. That tells me that cloud is not constant. Data at http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

  56. Jose Suro says:

    Excellent post WIllis! I love this kind of research.

    Best,

    J.

  57. Theo Goodwin says:

    “I kind of understand what’s going on in Figure 8. The onset of cumulus formation, shortly before noon, is quite visible. I was surprised to find that the onset of cumulus on average actually cools the air temperature. I had expected it to merely slow the warming.”

    Yes, it does. The tropical sun is way powerful. Block it and the temperature drops five degrees immediately. This is well understood in central Florida. People who have not lived in the tropics or the subtropics do not know what sunshine can be.

  58. Dixon says:

    Thanks Willis. I really do think you’re onto something with the thunderstorm thermostat hypothesis – the tropics are where all the energy is and they are pretty poorly studied from an atmospheric science perspective.
    As to the spikes – what is the sensor A/D resolution? maybe a few 8 bit or 12 bit converters from an early batch? It can make quite a difference if the full span of the sensor is large.
    For the bulk though, I’ve seen similar pm and eve shoulders from ground based measurements of photochemical species and believe that boundary layer collapses can be responsible – I think Ric Werme alluded to that.
    Finally, are these averages over a whole year? Wouldn’t it be best to split it out into seasons to look at trades and doldrums – or did you do that and find no real difference? I’d have thought advected heat transport must be a consideration.
    In terms of how effective this mechanism might be: couldn’t one look at what was being reflected off clouds with an airborne downward facing spectral radiometer? Might need the sickbag :) I’d have thought some Wx/cloud physicists might have looked at that (maybe INDOEX?). Sorry, wish I had more time!

  59. Theo Goodwin says:

    Your work is brilliant, Willis. It is a first-rate contribution to climate science and to the debate on climate science. In addition, the topic is very interesting as natural history. And it is likely to cause a land boom in central and south Florida.

    Years ago, I told some climate scientists that they had not a clue how to explain the extremely active summer climate in central Florida. And I told them that they reason they could not explain it is that they have no physical hypotheses that describe the natural regularities that make it up. And I told them that they would never have any such hypotheses as long as they stick exclusively to their computer models of Earth’s radiation budget. As a final dig, I told them that they had not a clue how to take temperature measurements in central Florida because the temperature can vary by 20 degrees in the middle of each summer afternoon.

    You work makes my case and then some.

  60. marcoinpanama says:

    Willis,
    Excellent work as we are coming to expect. A couple of quick comments/observations:

    1) The wind records from the buoys would be a very interesting addition to add depth to your analysis. I suspect they might also shed light on the “rogue” buoys, which I notice, all fell within a narrow temperature range. Another as yet unexplained “regime?”

    2) Somebody spent a lot of money and time putting these buoy networks in place. I find it hard to believe that nobody has ever done even the rudimentary analysis that you have undertaken. So the question is, what, if any, is the scientific legacy of these networks? It would be interesting to have input from a legitimate (unbiased) mainstream climate scientist who is generally familiar with the research in this area. Like maybe Judith Curry. For us lay readers it would be very helpful to know what work has already been done (or not done) in the direction you are heading. Despite the ugly connotations, an informal sort of peer review would greatly help support your hypothesis.

    As I have commented before, living in Panama at 9 degrees North, perched on a mountainside at 1200 meters and looking out over the Pacific, I watch the thermostat in action every day. Your hypothesis goes a long way to explain how our temps can be so incredibly consistent over the course of the year. Rainfall however, varies enormously, from almost none in some months to 50 inches in other months, with between 200 and 300 inches per year. Antidotally, in conversation with our deep sea fishing friends, there is an obvious correlation between the ocean temps and the amount of rainfall we receive.

    Like the rest of us, I look forward to seeing your ideas fleshed out and verified.

  61. starzmom says:

    I recall in the coastal Carolinas in the summer, you could practically set your watch by the 3 pm afternoon thunderstorms. It seems likely to me that a similar mechanism was at work there.

  62. Theo Goodwin says:

    “The simple answer is, the system automatically cuts down the incoming solar by something like that same amount, and the balance is restored.”

    Excellent! Now we are jamming.

  63. Paolo M. says:

    “Why is the time of cumulus onset about the same, from the coolest to the warmest regions?”

    Maybe because the boundary layer is in equilibrium with the local sea surface temperature.
    As the surface warms, the buoyancy of the lower layers strart convection, i.e cumulus formation.
    Above the PBL, the troposphere is capped in the coldest region, no deep convection, in the warmest area there is no cap so that cumulonimbus clouds can form.

  64. Ralph says:

    >>While crossing the North Cascades by bicycle, I noticed I had a tail wind
    >>uphill and head wind down the other side. I figure on windless days
    >>convecting warm air masses tend to flow up the land and make a plume
    >>above the mountain tops.
    >>Ralph – comments welcome!

    Quite correct. Anabatic and Katabatic winds. Very noticeable in mountainous areas. If you go to the likes of Gap, in S France, you will see dozens of gliders hugging the cliffs and soaring all day long (rock polishing, as it is known).

    .

  65. Ralph says:

    >>So a region with hot and cold areas (tarmac and forest) will produce
    >>much better thermals (and thus heat dissipation) than a uniform region.

    Just thought of something.

    Will the addition of tarmac (roads, airports) increase thermic activity, and thus cool the land (averaged over the whole day) more than a uniform region with monoculture crops??

    Just a thought.

    Anyone got a radiation budget satellite with good enough resolution??

    .

  66. mkelly says:

    Willis says: “In the tropics the sun is around 300 w/m2 on a 24/7 basis, and DLR is around 400 w/m2, call it 700 watts/m2 all up.”

    I am unfamiliar with a radiative heat transfer equation that allows just adding watts together. Please enlighten.

  67. Theo Goodwin says:

    starzmom says:
    August 15, 2011 at 7:17 am
    “I recall in the coastal Carolinas in the summer, you could practically set your watch by the 3 pm afternoon thunderstorms. It seems likely to me that a similar mechanism was at work there.”

    Yes, it seems that the same mechanism is active in many places but with varying ranges of temperature change, rain, and all such. In central Florida, it is active even in winter but the variations are weaker. One January, I sat through a typical rush hour (3-6 here) with an Englishman as a passenger, and he commented how the weather reminded him of London in July.

  68. Theo Goodwin says:

    marcoinpanama says:
    August 15, 2011 at 7:04 am

    “Like the rest of us, I look forward to seeing your ideas fleshed out and verified.”

    We will have to raise lots of money for that to happen.

  69. Ralph says:

    >>“Why is the time of cumulus onset about the same, from the coolest
    >>to the warmest regions?”

    Thermal formation depends on temperature difference, not total temperature. The best thermals in the UK are formed in the cool conditions following the passage of a cold front. This not only gives cool temperatures, but also a steep lapse-rate, so that thermals can propogate to higher levels.

    .

  70. John says:

    I have a basic question about the model. You propose that cloud formation should occur earlier in the day at higher temperatures. Yet, when I look at all the data, the time of the initial shoulder (cloud formation) is more or less independent of temperature. Looking more closely, it seems that the time is even delayed a bit with increasing temperature for the blue to green traces, but only advances for the green to red traces (at the hottest temperatures). Can you explain this?

  71. Gary Swift says:

    Willis:

    For the PM hump, check dew points? Do the floats log humidity? If so, how does the humidity chart against the temperature? I suspect an investigation along that line will illuminate the PM hump.

  72. wiki.answers.com says:

    “The Moon has no atmosphere, so there is no “air temperature”. The surface temperature varies greatly depending on whether it is in sunlight or not.

    The average daytime temperature on the Moon is around 107°C (225°F), but can be as high as 123°C (253°F).

    When an area rotates out of the sun, the “nighttime” temperature falls to an average of -153°C (-243°F).

    The temperatures near the poles (which get the least solar heating) can fall as low as -233°C (-387°F). This is only 40°C above absolute zero.

    However, there are craters (Hermite, Peary and Bosch craters), that never receive any sunlight and their temperatures can be below -249 °C (-416°F, 26 Kelvin)”

    Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_temperature_on_the_moon#ixzz1V7kuxfaZ

    So day average is 107Cº and Night average is -153 Cº

    So the moon average must be.. -23Cº
    With Max a min average: 123 Cº & -250Cº -63,5 Cº

    Stupid numbers..

  73. Willis Eschenbach says:

    mkelly says:
    August 15, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Willis says:

    “In the tropics the sun is around 300 w/m2 on a 24/7 basis, and DLR is around 400 w/m2, call it 700 watts/m2 all up.”

    I am unfamiliar with a radiative heat transfer equation that allows just adding watts together. Please enlighten.

    I’m not sure what you mean, mkelly. If an object is receiving say 100 w/m2 of radiation from one source and 200 w/m2 of radiation from another source, how do you get the total radiation impinging on the object without “just adding watts together”?

    w.

  74. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Theo Goodwin says:
    August 15, 2011 at 9:55 am

    marcoinpanama says:
    August 15, 2011 at 7:04 am

    “Like the rest of us, I look forward to seeing your ideas fleshed out and verified.”

    We will have to raise lots of money for that to happen.

    Indeed, as I have a day job (that I’m neglecting at the moment, but then I’m self-employed) and I am an amateur scientist, meaning someone who does science for the love (amare) of the intellectual chase, and not for the money. I have no supercomputer and no graduate assistants, just me and a powerful Mac.

    The good part is that means I’m not beholden to the “climate is changing, be very scared” meme. I won’t lose my job if the AGW folks are unable to even falsify the null hypothesis, much less to establish an alternate hypothesis. The AGW folks may lose their jobs (except in academia where failure is irrelevant to advancement), or at least lose funding and prominence, when scientific rationality, transparency, and observational-based analysis returns to the field of climate science.

    The bad part is that I need to go to work at some point. I’ve thought about asking Anthony if I could put a tip jar at the top, but after consideration I decided that if I took folks money, I’d feel like I had to produce something on some kind of a schedule, I’d be obligated if I took the Queen’s shilling … and somehow, that would make the joy of the chase less satisfying and rewarding.

    Which is why this will be a long fight. It’s like the old story about why the rabbit usually wins the race against the fox … because the fox is just running for his breakfast, while the rabbit is running for his life …

    Keep running,

    w.

  75. mkelly says:

    Willis says: I’m not sure what you mean, mkelly. If an object is receiving say 100 w/m2 of radiation from one source and 200 w/m2 of radiation from another source, how do you get the total radiation impinging on the object without “just adding watts together”?

    w.

    Apologise if I was not specific enough. All radiative heat transfer equations I am familiar with deal in a difference in temperature modified by an emissitivity with SB. Just adding watts together is not something I have ever been familiar with. Since you used the word “warm” and talked about the sun being “square to the surface” earlier in the paragraph I made a implication you were talking about heat transfer. If you were not then no harm no foul.

  76. Mr Lynn says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    August 15, 2011 at 1:16 pm
    The bad part is that I need to go to work at some point. I’ve thought about asking Anthony if I could put a tip jar at the top. . .

    I know how closed—and close-minded—academia can be, and how scarce jobs are (have kin who’ve been looking), but I would bet there is a small, independent college somewhere in the world that would love to have a talented, idiosyncratic, eclectic, amateur climatologist on board. Indeed, I would not be surprised if someone here knew of such a place. Maybe, instead of a tip jar, Anthony would let you post a ‘Position Wanted’ ad at the top.

    /Mr Lynn

  77. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Ralph says:
    August 15, 2011 at 10:29 am

    >>“Why is the time of cumulus onset about the same, from the coolest
    >>to the warmest regions?”

    Thermal formation depends on temperature difference, not total temperature. The best thermals in the UK are formed in the cool conditions following the passage of a cold front. This not only gives cool temperatures, but also a steep lapse-rate, so that thermals can propogate to higher levels.

    Ralph, my thanks to you and the other glider pilots for your insights. I’m considering and learning from them all.

    Indeed, thermal formation from temperature difference is visible in thunderstorms towards dusk. Instead of dissipating, as the upper air cools and the ocean maintains the warmth of the day, they can intensify and continue their work of cooling the surface.

    It’s all part of what I call “The Great Hadley Global Air Conditioning, Water Purifying, and Ice Making Machine™.” One single thing drives the Hadley planetary circulation—massed and serried ranks and piles of thunderstorms at the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). It’s the same thing that wanders in ones and fives across the land as well, the thunderstorm.

    Here’s an oddity to consider. A thunderstorm moves across the face of the ocean. But it does not move randomly. Instead, it moves preferentially to the warmer areas, areas which will prolong its existence.

    We don’t notice it because we are so familiar with thunderstorms, but they are an emergent phenomenon with great similarities to a living organism. It is born at a certain moment. It has a certain lifespan. It is a heat engine which converts energy into work. At the end of the lifespan it decays into its component parts, and passes out of existence as an entity. During its lifetime it may spawn copies of itself which in turn have their own time-limited independent existence, and may in turn spawn further copies. It is capable of feeding itself (by increasing winds at the base it provides increased quantities of one of its two fuels, water vapor). In its lifetime it moves preferentially to areas containing more of what fuels it (see immediately above). If it sits still it dies (thunderstorms will rain themselves out with cold water, just like raining on a fire, if they sit still and grow straight upwards).

    Now, don’t go all Gaia on me, I’m not suggesting that thunderstorms are alive.

    My point is that they share a host of behaviors with life, and that this sets them apart from many other phenomena. Their spontaneous threshold-based generation in response to increasing temperature means that there is a “mushy” but none-the-less real upper temperature limiting mechanism. Any real-world theory of climate and climate models has to include thunderstorms and their action. They thermally regulate the system and their selective response to counteract even the most local temperature increases needs to be included in any climate theory and model.

    w.

  78. Willis Eschenbach says:

    mkelly says:
    August 15, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Willis says:

    I’m not sure what you mean, mkelly. If an object is receiving say 100 w/m2 of radiation from one source and 200 w/m2 of radiation from another source, how do you get the total radiation impinging on the object without “just adding watts together”?

    w.

    Apologise if I was not specific enough. All radiative heat transfer equations I am familiar with deal in a difference in temperature modified by an emissitivity with SB. Just adding watts together is not something I have ever been familiar with. Since you used the word “warm” and talked about the sun being “square to the surface” earlier in the paragraph I made a implication you were talking about heat transfer. If you were not then no harm no foul.

    mkelly, I’m sorry but it’s still not clear, in part because you didn’t answer my question. How much radiation energy is impinging on the object in my question? Once you answer that I can see where any misunderstanding might lie.

    Regarding emissivity, to a first-order approximation the simplifying assumption of blackbodies all around is usually made regarding climate radiation. It’s not true, but it’s not far from true. The surface IR emissivity is about 0.95 instead of blackbody 1.0, and for the average atmosphere it’s somewhere near the same (because about 70% of the surface is covered by clouds at any instant, clouds which except when very thin are basically blackbodies with respect to IR). When considered separately, clear sky emissivity is often taken as a “gray-body” with emissivity of about 0.75. Averaging 70% blackbody with 30% at 0.75 gives 0.95 average, not far from blackbody.

    Finally, in climate science it is usual to concentrate on the individual flows of energy to and from something (e.g. upwards radiation from the surface of say 390 w/m2.) This allows the flow analysis while it avoids the question of emissivity altogether, as the emissivity only affects the actual temperatures of the objects in question and not the flow of energy between them.

    Hope this clarifies things,

    w.

  79. Richard M says:
    August 14, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    My summertime rule of thumb is to take the dewpoint, knock a few degrees off that and that will be close to the night’s low temperature. A temperature plot often shows two exponentials – one rate down to the dew point, then a lower rate as both fall until dawn. In winter, low dew points mean there’s so much less water in the air, and the nights are so long, that rule doesn’t work. If the air is really dry, the temperature reaches the dew point and doesn’t slow down until dawn.

    I suppose that depends to some extent on latitude. Here in Central Alberta (actually most of Alberta), the temperature falls in summer as in winter until about an hour after sunrise with a clear or partially cloudy sky and not too much wind. I speculate that that is due to the air not warming sufficiently until solar insolation has reached balance with what is being radiated into space.

    At any rate, in early Fall, some of the first frosts of the year do not occur until after sunrise.

  80. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Ralph says:
    August 15, 2011 at 3:02 am

    [Willis said:]

    The reasons for the “shoulder” where temperatures tend to level out between about 9PM and midnight is less easy to understand.

    For that, you need a glider pilot. The shoulder in the temperature profile is caused by an overbuild of cumulus early in the morning.

    I read and re-read your explanation above, but I didn’t see where the evening shoulder was explained. What am I missing?

    w.

  81. marcoinpanama says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    August 15, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    “The bad part is that I need to go to work at some point.”

    Understood. Perhaps as a group we could develop a collaborative project to to push the hypothesis forward. Right here on this blog you have an enthusiastic group of real scientists, amateur scientists and science enthusiasts, many of whom might be willing to lend a hand. Some of us have time and ability, but not specific subject area knowledge. Others, as you are hearing, have cogent insight into the phenomenology involved.

    What are the key areas that need to be explored to verify your hypothesis? I for one, would be happy to volunteer an hour or so a day to do Internet research or help with organization. I know there are others who can run data sets and do statistical analysis. It would probably be helpful to have a different forum, more like a Yahoo group, in which people could interact directly with each other.

    I for one believe that this is too important an idea – and indeed time *is* of the essence in defeating the AGW meme – to let it founder for lack of time/money/effort. What think the rest of you?

  82. Charlie A says:

    Two papers on intradiurnal temperature that may be of interest:

    http://faculty.knox.edu/pschwart/2a.pdf (full text pdf)
    “Observed changes in the diurnal temperature and dewpoint cycles across the United States”, by Paul C. Knappenberger and others from University of Virginia. Published in GRL, Sept 15, 1996.

    and Dai, Aiguo, Kevin E. Trenberth, Thomas R. Karl, 1999: Effects of Clouds, Soil Moisture, Precipitation, and Water Vapor on Diurnal Temperature Range. J. Climate, 12, 2451–2473.
    doi: 10.1175/1520-0442(1999)0122.0.CO;2
    fulltext pdf: http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0442%281999%29012%3C2451%3AEOCSMP%3E2.0.CO%3B2

    The first paper looks at hourly readings from 15 airport stations in the US to determine trends in hourly readings from 1948 through 1990. They never really plotted the actual readings, but do show a schematic drawing of the change. The show early post-sunrise hours have cooled, while late afternoon hours have warmed. They used an interesting analysis method of doing one analysis centered on local sunrise; another analysis centered on local sunset; and then spliced the two analyses together to get a full daily plot,.

    The Trenberth paper used a 3 hour modeling step, so the fine temporal details are missing. It looks at both observations and model outputs for a variety of parameters including temperature and precipitation. The summary and concluding remarks include
    “The CCSM2 captures the diurnal amplitude (18–68C)
    and phase (peak at 1400–1600 LST) of surface air temperature
    over land. Over the oceans, however, the simulated
    temperature amplitude (#0.28C) is too small. The
    observed surface air temperature also shows a coherent
    semidiurnal cycle with amplitudes of 0.48–1.58C over
    land and 0.28–0.48C over ocean and peaks around 0100–
    0300 and 1300–1500 LST over most land areas. The
    model simulates some of the semidiurnal features, but
    they are too weak over Eurasia and North America during
    DJF and over the oceans in all seasons. The results
    suggest that, while the daytime solar heating and nighttime
    radiative cooling near the ground are generally
    realistic in the CCSM2, the diurnal cycle over the ocean
    surface is too weak in the model owing to the absence
    of diurnal variations in SSTs.”

    and

    “Over the marine stratocumulus regions west of the continents
    where large diurnal variations (amplitude 3%–
    10%) in low and total cloud amount are observed, the
    CCSM2 underestimates the mean low cloud amount by
    10%–30% and the diurnal variations with incorrect diurnal
    phase (midnight peak instead of 0300–0500 LST
    in observations).”

  83. Ralph says:

    >>Willis
    >>I read and re-read your explanation above, but I didn’t see where
    >>the evening shoulder was explained. What am I missing

    Err, actually I am missing something – I was explaining the morning shoulder. I will think again about the evening shoulder, and post again if I have a brainwave.

    Cheers.

  84. Ralph says:

    >>John
    >>I have a basic question about the model. You propose that cloud formation
    >>should occur earlier in the day at higher temperatures.

    From gliding experience, thermal formation (cloud formation) occurs LATER in higher temperatures. With a cold airmass, very little solar heating is required to start thermal production, but higher atmospheric temperature require much more heating.

    In the UK we can get thermals by 9am. In Western Australia in the summer, you may wait until 10-30 or 11am.

    .

  85. Theo Goodwin says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    August 15, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    “The bad part is that I need to go to work at some point. I’ve thought about asking Anthony if I could put a tip jar at the top, but after consideration I decided that if I took folks money, I’d feel like I had to produce something on some kind of a schedule, I’d be obligated if I took the Queen’s shilling … and somehow, that would make the joy of the chase less satisfying and rewarding.”

    I believe that you should have a tip jar at WUWT. What you have accomplished is worth so much that it will take contributors to your tip jar a long time to catch up to you. So, there is no need for you to feel obligated to publish on a schedule or more often.

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