Possible links between thermohaline circulation and the ENSO cycle were suggested by Bill Grey as early as the late 1970’s.
I became interested in this linkage when I learned Gore and Hansen, (who at that time were not deemed laughable and wielded considerable influence,) urged that Bill Grey’s applications for funding to study the linkage be torpedoed. (“Stick to hurricanes, Bill.”) I decided anything worth going to that length to suppress must be worth investigation.
One of the greatest withdrawals from the deep sea’s bank of cold water occurs off the west Coast of South America during La Ninas. This upwelling would seem to necessitate the deep sea’s bank of cold water be replenished in that area, and a deep sea current exist to do the replenishing.
Inexplicably, Wikipedia shows no such current, and in fact shows thermohaline currents go to great lengths to avoid the west coast of South America.
This further whetted my interest, as I have the cynical belief that, in matters of climate, when Wikipedia states there is no linkage, there probably is a linkage.
Besides withdrawals (up-wellings) to the deep sea’s bank of cold water, there must be deposits, (down-wellings,) and these occur in polar regions.
Because Antactica is completely surrounded by a circle of howling winds and surging currents, a great deal of mixing occurs, and down-welling is liable to be erratically located and of irregular volumes. A complete and thorough study of Antarctic down-welling would involve vast sums, sturdy equipment, and scientists hot-blooded and insane enough to work in the world’s coldest and roughest waters. As I lack all three of these requirements, for the purposes of this paper I intend to do the scientifically reprehensible thing: I’ll ignore Antarctic down-welling altogether, and focus on the calmer Arctic.
My understanding is that, when ice melts, the relatively fresh water floats on top of polar seas. Therefore it can only be during times when ice refreezes that the relatively briney water created is injected downwards into the Thermohaline flow.
It follows that injections into the thermohaline circulation occur as a seasonal pulse, rather than in a steady manner all year long. As I could find no word for such a pulse, I have created the acronym “WHADUP,” (which stands for, “Wicked Huge Arctic Down-welling Undersea Pulse.”)
It is interesting to note that, just when the WHADUP occurs in the Arctic, the La Nina tends to get stronger off the coast of South America.
It therefore becomes necessary to invent a mechanism that explains the linkage.
The thermohaline circulation itself moves at a snail’s pace. Even if I had the WHADUP speed up the flow, (like a river in flood,) it would take hundreds of years for a WHADUP to reach South America. So I rejected that mechanism.
A better idea involved creating a wave in the thermocline. In this scenario the WHADUP would lift the thermocline in the form of a gradual wave. When this wave reached a place where the thermocline was close to the surface, such as the west coast of South America, the uplift of the top of the thermocline would manifest as an upwelling.
I still like this idea, but getting the wave around the tip of South America presented problems. Also having a wave in the thermocline, without a reflective wave at the surface, involved moving large amounts of water between the surface and the thermocline, and perhaps even the turbulent destruction of the thermocline itself. Lastly, a wave wasn’t fast enough. I needed something immediate.
It was at this point I hit upon the idea of a pneumatic effect. After all, pneumatics allow us to touch our brake pedal, and to immediately have brakes grab in our distant rear wheels. Why couldn’t the WHADUP be like pressure downwards on brakes, and the simultaneous increase in La Nina upwelling be like distant brakes grabbing?
The answer, or course, is that a brake line is rigid and the thermocline is not.
However I then began to wonder exactly how rigid the thermocline is. To create even an inch-high wave in it, without a reflective wave at the surface, would involve displacing megatons and megatons of water. What if the sheer weight of the water above made the thermocline semi-rigid? Could any pneumatic effect exist? Even if 99.9% of the pneumatic effect was lost, distorting the thermocline, might not 0.1% getting through be enough to increase upwelling off the coast of South America?
At this point it became obvious that I needed grant money, in order to study the pneumatics of semi-rigid systems.
I needed to build a huge glass tank, and to create an observable “thermocline” by purchasing a vast amount of transparent, yellow oil, which would float above water tinted blue with food coloring. I also needed a large staff of Scandinavian blonds, a new computer, a geek who knew how to run it, and maybe even a scientist or two who could figure out how the heck to inject pneumatic pressure down on one side, and measure if there was any pneumatic change on the far side.
But where to get the funding?
I figured I might interest George Soros, if I could spin my study to show greater arctic melt meant a greater refreeze, greater WHADUP, and greater La Nina, and that this might “mask” Global Warming. Alas, George Soros sent me no money.
I then figured that, with a different spin, I might interest Big Oil, by showing that melting Arctic ice might cause greater La Ninas, and lead to Global Cooling. Alas, Big Oil sent me no money.
I had to keep my day job.
I found this very depressing. (I was really looking forward to the staff of Scandinavian blonds, not to mention trips to Bali and Cancun.)
However true Science is not to be denied. It was while sitting dejected that I looked over at my bathroom sink and noticed a tube of toothpaste. In a flash it hit me: I might not be able to interest Big Oil, but I could interest Big Toothpaste, if only I could convince the readership of WUWT to conduct the following experiment:
Take a tube of toothpaste and, when your spouse isn’t looking, squirt at least half of the paste into the trash. In this manner you have created a semi-rigid pneumatic system, a system that lacks the complete rigidity of a brake line.
At this point the tube’s skin is a surface that gives with some resistance, like the thermocline. By squeezing at various places on the tube your fingers are like the WHADUP, pressing down megatons of brine. As you press, observe the mouth of the tube, which represents upwelling off the coast of South America. (Don’t forget to remove the cap.) Observe whether a pneumatic effect far away has any effect on the paste at the tube’s mouth.
What I observed was that the pneumatic effect was largely spent distorting the skin of the tube, but sometimes the paste did bulge out. (On one occasion the paste counter-intuitively sucked in, but I threw that observation out as an “outlier,” because I understand that is proper procedure for Climatologists.)
I rest my case. The pneumatic effect of a WHADUP in the Arctic can immediately effect far reaches of the earth, and increase La Ninas.
I would like to thank Hansen and Gore for helping me write this paper. If they had not torpedoed Grey’s efforts to study thermohaline circulation and the thermocline with, “Sick to hurricanes, Bill,” papers such as this one could not be written. Only through their tireless efforts to pressure scientists has over a quarter century been spent adjusting, readjusting, and re-readjusting old and stale temperature data, without gaining new and fresh insights and data about mysterious deep-sea depths. Indeed that pressure is more important than pneumatic pressure, for had people said, “Stick to Venus, Hanson,” and “Stick to politics, Gore,” science would be in a totally different state.
Short summary: A humorous paper written using a mock-heroic tone of voice and quasi-serious style, intended to poke fun at the current nature of scientific thought, and hopefully to also get people thinking and commenting about thermohaline circulation.