A climate change dynamic

Guest post by Erl Happ

The presumption that ‘the science is settled’ is incorrect.

This post aims to give readers an understanding of the dynamics of the coupled circulation of the stratosphere and the troposphere at the poles that drives surface pressure, the temperature of the troposphere, cloud cover and surface temperature.

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

Shifts in the atmosphere to and from Antarctica occur on daily and weekly time scales. These shifts have delivered a sixty year increase followed by a sixty year decline in atmospheric pressure. Witness the change between the decade starting 1948 and the decade starting 2001 shown in figure 1.

Figure 1 Change in sea level pressure according to latitude mb.

The shift in the atmosphere over Antarctica occurs in winter, spring and summer with greatest effect on 10hPa temperature at 80-90°south latitude in August and September.

Figure 2 Temperature by month at 10hPa and 80-90° south. °C

Figure 3 below shows that the temperature change is highest at the highest altitude. Temperature peaked in 1978 and has fallen away since that time. In ‘Climate Science’ the fact and the implication of these changes in the southern polar stratosphere are unrecognized.

Figure 3 Evolution of temperature in the stratosphere at 80-90°south. Twelve month moving average. °C.

The change in atmospheric pressure at the poles can be monitored as the Arctic Oscillation Index (AO) or the Antarctic Oscillation Index (AAO) as depicted in figure 4 and 5. Although these indices are computed as a ratio of atmospheric pressure between the poles and the high mid latitudes, most of the change in pressure occurs at the highest latitudes as is clearly apparent in figure 1.

Figure 4

The right axis in figures 4 and 5 is inverted. The Arctic Oscillation Index and the Antarctic Oscillation index both vary inversely with polar pressure at 80-90°north latitude.

Figure 5 Sea level pressure at 80-80°south and the AAO. Left axis SLP mb.

Daily data for both the AO and the AAO can be found at:

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/daily_ao_index/aao/aao.shtml

and

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/daily_ao_index/ao.shtml

Figure 6

In figure 6 we can see that a fall in the AO (increased surface pressure) is always associated with a strong increase in the temperature of the atmosphere below 100hPa. The warming extends all the way to the surface. As air descends, the net of ozone molecules gathering long wave radiation becomes finer. This is classic greenhouse activity. The warming seems to diminish below 500hPa, perhaps because the surface at the poles is always cooler than the air above it.

The latitudinal coverage of figure 6 extends between 65° and 90°north. So figure 6 does not encompass the zone where the troposphere is affected by ozone (latitude 50-60°north). This is responsible for the zone of ‘negative velocity’ (ascending air) in figures 8, 9 and 10 that are colored mauve through to blue. A zone of descending air colored red is located between 70 and 90° of latitude. This confirms the dynamic described in relation to figure 6 relating a low AO index (high polar pressure) with warming of the air column below 100hPa.

Zones of descending stratospheric air at 60-70° south are discontinuous. Figure 7 shows that the recent cooling of the stratosphere at 60-70° south and 10hPa is most evident between the Greenwich meridian and 180° east.

Figure 7

Source: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/map/time_plot/

Figure 8

Figure 9

Figure 10

Source of figures 8,9 and10: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/jra/atlas/eng/atlas-tope.htm

November is the transition month when coupled circulation is enhanced in the Arctic and loses strength in the Antarctic. In the Antarctic, the lowering of the cold point from its winter altitude of about 25hPa diminishes the coupling of the stratosphere and troposphere via its effect on the strength of convection.

From figure 11 we discover that:

1. When the Arctic upper stratosphere warms the equatorial upper stratosphere cools. This should be expected given the thickening of the atmosphere at the equator and a slight outward movement of the zone of heaviest ionization. That we see this activity suggests a significant plasma presence in the equatorial middle and upper stratosphere.

2. Relating the timing of warming events shown in figure 11 to the date of their occurrence  in figure 6 we see that, as the upper stratosphere warms at the pole, the AO index increases, confirming a loss of surface pressure at the pole. This warming of the polar atmosphere, greater with altitude is consistent with a reduced flow of NOx from the mesosphere via a weakened night jet.

3. Going back to figure 6 we observe a cooling of the air in the lower profile as the polar upper stratosphere warms suggesting a commencement of a general uplift of the entire polar air mass. This is consistent with an increased flux of ozone into the troposphere on the margins of the night zone, a lowering of surface pressure there, cloud loss and increased surface temperature.

Figure 11

How much of this coupling is maintained over summer when the cold point in the stratosphere descends? To assess this we can simply look at the pattern of geopotential height anomalies at 200hpa (upper troposphere) bearing in mind that no month or season can be ‘typical’ and the concept of an ‘average flow’ is inappropriate at anything less than the time scale required for the complete evolution of the phenomenon. Our records are not long enough to support such an analysis. However, flux in wind strength in the southern high latitudes, a direct consequence of pressure fluctuation, suggest an evolution over a period of at least 120 years.

Lastly, in figures 11 and 12 we can observe that zones of anomalous warmth in the stratosphere are cool in the upper troposphere and vice versa. In the coupled circulation it is the coolest parts of the stratosphere that descend into the troposphere.

Figure 11

Note: The dynamic described here is arguably ‘the’ climate change dynamic that accounts for climate change over recent time.

I have suggested elsewhere that there is nothing internal to the climate system that could drive this dynamic. Change in pressure is likely related to electromagnetic influences that are amplified by the coupled circulation. A fall in surface pressure begets a further fall in surface pressure.

If this dynamic is acknowledged climate science as we know it today would be turned on its head.

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About erl happ

I am a winemaker and grape-grower with a strong interest in climate. I was interested enough to try and discover the common thermal characteristics that are seen in great vineyard locations and did a lot of work with hourly temperature data from around the world. Climate sets the limit on what can be achieved in the vineyard. I became interested in climate change when I noticed the growing season temperature falling in our part of the world, the south west of Western Australia. That set me on a quest to work out why. Soon, it became apparent that parts of the Southern Hemisphere like Antarctica and Southern Chile had been cooling for fifty years or more. My experience in analyzing temperature dynamics for vine sites and working out just how much heat these plants need to bring their fruit to maturity gave me a focus on sourcing data and figuring out what has been happening on a regional scale, both at the surface and in the upper atmosphere. I think there is room for a subject called historical climatology. We can learn a lot just by looking at what has happened over long periods of time. Good data sets are readily available on the net. All one needs is a little curiosity, a facility with spreadsheets and a lot of determination.
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29 Responses to A climate change dynamic

  1. AndyG55 says:

    Erl, looking at Figure 3, it appears that something caused a big jump in the top blue line (70hPa?)between 1976 and 1981, and the system is now trying to re-stabilise itself. Any idea what might have caused that jump?

    I can’t tell which hPa line it is because the colours are too indistinct.

  2. AndyG55 says:

    Further, could it be that a single event like that could have caused warming to propagate around the whole globe for several more years, say until 1998, then gradually level out ?

  3. Werner Brozek says:

    Is that a typo for Figure 5? Should it be 80-90 S and not 80-80 S?

  4. LazyTeenager says:

    Breathtaking.

    There are a whole lot assertions here and I am too ignorant to make any kind of assessment.

    However the last 2 paragraphs are intriguing. It looks like we have yet another contender, amoungst 50 others, that explains the temperature rise we are/are not having without invoking the rise of human CO2 levels that are/are not increasing.

    Except the whole description is so vague as to be devoid of meaning.

  5. erl happ says:

    AndyG55 says:
    Erl, looking at Figure 3, it appears that something caused a big jump in the top blue line (70hPa?)between 1976 and 1981, and the system is now trying to re-stabilise itself. Any idea what might have caused that jump?

    Andy, if you click on any of the figures you will get a full screen version and the resolution is much better. I think you are referring to the 10hPa line which is blue. Its also on top. For the top of the stratosphere to warm in that fashion the night jet that brings NOx from the mesosphere must become relatively inactive. This is the time of the ‘Great Pacific climate shift’ that in actual effect was not just in the Pacific but global. Tropical sea surface temperature jumped by half a degree C and stayed at that level until recently.

    The timing coincided with the transition between the weak solar cycle 20 and the strong cycle 21. In my last post I showed a diagram relating geomagnetic activity to surface pressure.

    In my next post I will show how night jet activity and the temperature of the upper stratosphere varies with surface pressure.

  6. erl happ says:

    Werner Brozek says:
    September 3, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Is that a typo for Figure 5? Should it be 80-90 S and not 80-80 S?

    Yes, it should be 80-90°south.

    AndyG55 says:
    September 3, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Further, could it be that a single event like that could have caused warming to propagate around the whole globe for several more years, say until 1998, then gradually level out ?

    Not a single event. The temperature of the upper stratosphere over the pole correlates very well with ozone content. So, the evolution of temperature at the top of the stratosphere depends upon surface pressure and that is in turn affected by the ozone content of the stratosphere. So, there is a feedback process operating.

  7. erl happ says:

    LazyTeenager says:
    September 3, 2011 at 8:55 pm
    It looks like we have yet another contender, amoungst 50 others, that explains the temperature rise we are/are not having without invoking the rise of human CO2 levels that are/are not increasing. </i)

    No mention of CO2 levels in this post. I am not talking 50 explanations. Only one is necessary.

    Coherence is a matter of perception. Let not your prejudices blind you to an alternative interpretation.

  8. erl happ says:

    LazyTeenager says:

    If anything is unclear I would be delighted to explain the phenomena as I see and interpret them.

  9. ThomasJ says:

    ee..hrrm… “settled science”… ??

    cheers from Sweden
    //TJ

  10. bushbunny says:

    Have those AGW ‘scientists’ or protestors ever thought they can explain climate with just the simple explanation it is due to carbon emissions and CO2? Lazy minded lot aren’t they. They should surrender their degrees and go back to school again or possibly University? LOL

  11. erl happ says:

    Bushbunny, you are right. Schools went away from studying the disciplines and flip flopped into issues education. The kids I taught in the sixties and seventies got a good background in climatology. They at least knew what caused the seasons. When I read some of the great papers written about climate in the eighties when people charted the expansion of the Hadley cell, the southward movement of the high pressure systems in summer and actually tried to document what is happening I see a discontinued thread. I wonder what happened to those people. I have spoken to experts in meteorology who saw their field taken over by chemists trying to explain the change in stratospheric ozone in terms of hydro fluorocarbons emitted by man.

    Then the mathematicians and the modellers who understood only numbers took over. It’s only a short step from there to chicken entrails and tea leaves.

  12. chemman says:

    erl happ says:
    September 4, 2011 at 8:09 am
    ———————————————————————————————————————————-
    I take great umbrage at your characterization of chemists. :)
    Actually you are correct, most times we can’t see the overall picture, reaction vessel about to blow, because we are to0 caught up in trying to quantify and describe the reactions. It is a failing of our specializations.

  13. Paul Vaughan says:

    JRA-25 Atlas
    http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/jra/atlas/eng/atlas-tope.htm

    Excellent link Erl.

    The material there can help people connect the dots:
    A. Leroux (1993).
    B. Sidorenkov (2005).
    C. LeMouel, Blanter, Shnirman, & Courtillot (2010).

    And if the “It’s the Ocean” crowd would open their minds for just a few minutes to look at the seasonal plots there, they might actually develop basic awareness of the current-driving role of winds. (…Probably this is hoping for more effort than most are willing to expend.)

    An overly-simplistic notion that it’s “just clouds” has become widespread, as if cloud cover timing & location – and circulation more generally – are irrelevant and some “global average” (which includes clouds in the polar night) will magically render all relations forever-simple-linear just to prevent mental discomfort for those unwilling to think beyond “When A goes up, B goes up” and “When A goes up, B goes down”.

    While it’s interesting, there’s nothing vital riding on the expensive CERN CLOUD experiment. Observations have already spoken for themselves; it’s just that few have developed the listening skills prerequisite to hearing & understanding nature’s message.

    That there’s coupling between terrestrial variables is a given at this stage. And given that there’s coupling, the most illuminating exploratory strategy is to note the effect of changes in rates (i.e. acceleration/deceleration) on spatiotemporal aliasing …Yet no one in the mainstream is doing this — this indicates fundamental misconception.

    Again: Thanks for the great link Erl.

    JRA-25 Atlas
    http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/jra/atlas/eng/atlas-tope.htm

  14. If this dynamic is acknowledged climate science as we know it today would be turned on its head.
    Not at all: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2010JD015473.shtml
    “A stationary wave model (SWM) that captures the stratospheric and tropospheric stationary wave field is developed and applied to the problem of the stationary wave response to climate change.”

  15. erl happ says:

    Leif Svalgaard

    Oh come on. There is no evidence in the abstract that common subject matter is under investigation.

  16. erl happ says:

    Leif, you could learn a lot from figure 10. Engage in the dialogue rather than simply throw bricks.

  17. pochas says:

    Paul Vaughan says:
    September 4, 2011 at 10:27 am

    “While it’s interesting, there’s nothing vital riding on the expensive CERN CLOUD experiment. Observations have already spoken for themselves; ”

    True. But unless you spend a couple of billion on it, its not real science.

  18. Paul Vaughan says:

    erl happ (September 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm) wrote:
    “Engage in the dialogue rather than simply throw bricks.”

    Excellent idea.

    I sure hope everyone will take a VERY careful look at the monthly maps for the many variables at the JRA website. I particularly recommend 850hPa wind. Note how the North Indian Ocean loop reverses in May & November. Compare with this [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ITCZ_january-july.png ].

    Also note from the average seasonal cycle in many of the variables how latitudinal summaries for the northern hemisphere can be seriously misleading (due to the distribution of ocean-continent contrast – like mixing clean basin-signals in a hemispheric-blender, inadvertently running interference on the patterns of interest). For example, mean sea level pressure tells quite a story about seasonally-reversing ocean-continent contrasts. Interannual variation in the dates & locations of such reversals can easily reverse the sign of interannual correlations.

    -
    Erl, you seem to have a keen interest in ozone. What can you say about the seasonally dense average ozone patch over the North Pacific?

  19. Kevin Hearle says:

    Interesting now how do you explain this to a politician with no science background? Help

  20. erl happ says:
    September 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm
    Leif, you could learn a lot from figure 10. Engage in the dialogue rather than simply throw bricks.
    People have been studying this for some time. All the coupling comes from below. See e.g. http://sidc.oma.be/esww4/presentations/Session%204%20meteo/LasMeteo.ppt
    That you are not up to current knowledge is a problem.

  21. erl happ says:

    Leif I have no doubt that there is an influence from the bottom up (albeit small). My problem is that the top down influence is overwhelmingly dominant and current climate science (and the authors of the papers you cite) prefer, for obvious reasons, to ignore it. And it is quite apparent that you are an apologist for the current dogma.

    The physics of the interactions that I describe above represent interactions on the ‘grosso’ scale and may not be ignored. Ignore them and you disqualify yourself as an observer of the atmosphere and the forces within it that drive pressure, temperature, wind, precipitation and cloud cover i.e climate.

    Paul, ozone is the greenhouse gas of interest because it is not well mixed. When it is driven into the troposphere (where there is next to no ozone) it affects cloud cover. It happens that the coupled circulation in high latitudes is the vehicle for that driving. There are two parts of the northern hemisphere where cold stratospheric air tends to descend into the troposphere and especially in winter and as it does so it brings ozone. One is between Greenland and Canada. The other is the north Pacific especially on the western margins near the Kamchatka Peninsula. I have not investigated this but I would not be at all surprised if the region of descent gives rise to the PDO.

  22. erl happ says:

    Kevin Hearle says:
    September 4, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Interesting now how do you explain this to a politician with no science background?

    Politicians have such a poor background in climatology that they take the point of view that they will ‘take advice’, just as a barrister picks up a brief. That is why it is so important that there is respect for different viewpoints and constructive discussion wherever ideas are discussed, including blogs like this.

    The ability of special interest groups to drive a public agenda is much enhanced when learning becomes too esoteric and is seen to be beyond the reach of the common man. But climatology should not be like this. The weather is something that everyone is interested in.

  23. bushbunny says:

    I’ve been sending Tony Windsor information for years, when the ETS was mentioned in 2007 but was later dropped by the PM. But Tony appears to ignore it and in someways driving it. However the rest of his electorate are up in arms, but he prefers to knock the opposition any time he can. I don’t expect he will stand again, why would he? He’s a millionnaire and will be entitled to two pensions, 10 years in the State Parliament and twelve in Fed. He might think he will get in again with a smaller majority, but if Barnaby Joyce stands for the New England Electorate he will have a contender that is strong. Barnaby is one of the few politicians that have published the CERN report and its effect on dodgy climate science.

  24. phlogiston says:

    Is it just me or is all this just too complex to be credible. Like the Greek national debt, this body of theory seems greatly in need of a haircut by Occam’s razor. To be compelling there needs to be something a bit more unifying and coherent.

    “I have suggested elsewhere that there is nothing internal to the climate system that could drive this dynamic.”

    To deny the existence of internal nonlinear oscillation in climate dynamics stretches credibility still further.

  25. Paul Vaughan says:

    erl happ (September 5, 2011 at 1:08 am) wrote:
    “I have not investigated this but I would not be at all surprised if the region of descent gives rise to the PDO.”

    Looking forward to a concise article on this (preferably void of political rants!)

    Thanks for the gem needles reliably buried in the haystacks Erl (but please omit the diluting haystacks moving forward! – thanks – time is too valuable…)

    Cheers!

  26. erl happ says:

    phlogiston

    Thank you for your opinion.

    The exposition is rather less complex than the phenomenon under study. If you have trouble with it please frame a question.

  27. erl happ says:

    Paul,
    LIke it or not, all science has political implications. I like to make that very plain. Others may pretend otherwise but at the end of the day its just that, a pretense.

    There are no haystacks in this exposition. You may be sure that every word and every diagram is carefully considered. An example might help me understand what you are talking about.

    The PDO may be a pattern of SST anomalies that reflects the 200hPa GPH (and temperature) anomalies that are expressed as a pattern of relative cloudiness in the sky above. There may also be an ocean current influence. I don’t know and in the grand scheme of things its just a local expression of long term changes in the weather that are driven by phenomena elsewhere. The PDO does not generate change elsewhere just as ENSO can not be responsible for the dynamics of the atmosphere at the poles and the waxing and waning of the night jet, an atmospheric phenomenon that varies with surface pressure. And the waxing and waning of the night jet is a phenomenon that is central to the issue of how much solar energy is received at the surface. Central elements must be given due weight.

    Seems to me that the emphasis that you are giving to micro elements in weather systems would be important if you are trying to predict the weather next week but it introduces a level of complexity to the analysis that is unnecessary. You are in danger of missing the big picture. The engine driving the system is not that complex.

  28. erl happ says:

    Like it or not, all science has political implications

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/09/05/update-on-spencer-braswell-part-ii/

    Let’s acknowledge that it’s an arm wrestle out there and the stakes are high. It comes down to a question of good governance and that very much affects human welfare. A particular notion of what constitutes an appropriate ‘climate’ and the manner in which it changes is being used to bludgeon people into accepting a debilitating social, economic and political agenda. Unfortunately, there is a widespread viewpoint that CO2 levels determine surface temperature, a complete misreading of atmospheric physics on Earth where H2O is the prime driver of all things atmospheric, at least in the near surface layers.

  29. Paul Vaughan says:

    Must be some misunderstanding Erl. Apologies.

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