New WUWT Polar Vortex Reference Page

By WUWT regular “Just The Facts”

We are pleased to introduce WUWT’s newest addition, the WUWT Polar Vortex Reference Page.

For those unfamiliar, a Polar Vortex is “caused when an area of low pressure sits at the rotation pole of a planet. This causes air to spiral down from higher in the atmosphere, like water going down a drain.” Universe Today

“A polar vortex is a persistent, large-scale cyclone located near one or both of a planet’s geographical poles.” “The vortex is most powerful in the hemisphere’s winter, when the temperature gradient is steepest, and diminishes or can disappear in the summer. The Antarctic polar vortex is more pronounced and persistent than the Arctic one; this is because the distribution of land masses at high latitudes in the northern hemisphere gives rise to Rossby waves which contribute to the breakdown of the vortex, whereas in the southern hemisphere the vortex remains less disturbed. The breakdown of the polar vortex is an extreme event known as a Sudden stratospheric warming, here the vortex completely breaks down and an associated warming of 30-50 degrees Celsius over a few days can occur. The Arctic vortex is elongated in shape, with two centres, one roughly over Baffin Island in Canada and the other over northeast Siberia. In rare events, the vortex can push further south as a result of axis interruption, see January 1985 Arctic outbreak. Wikipedia

These Wired and NASA articles and associated imagery, including the one at the top of this article, help to demonstrate the dynamical effect of the polar vortex on Venus’s south pole.

This animation shows Earth’s Winter 2008 – 09 Arctic Polar Vortex and a Sudden Stratospheric Warming, which occurs when the Polar Vortex splits or breaks-up:

Within the Polar Vortex, “Air from very high altitudes descends vertically through the center of the vortex, moving air to lower altitudes over several months.” NASA

“The walls of the polar vortex act as the boundaries for the extraordinary changes in chemical concentrations. Now the polar vortex can be considered a sealed chemical reactor bowl, containing a water vapor hole, a nitrogen oxide hole and an ozone hole, all occurring simultaneously (Labitzke and Kunze 2005)” Stratosphere troposphere interactions: an introduction

There are also “measurements of low methane concentrations in the vortex made by the HALOE instrument on board the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite.” Rapid descent of mesospheric air into the stratospheric polar vortex, AGU 1993

In addition to our Polar Vortex Page if you have not had the opportunity to review the other Reference Pages it is highly recommended:

Please note that WUWT cannot vouch for the accuracy of the data within the Reference Pages, as WUWT is simply an aggregator. All of the data is linked from third party sources. If you have doubts about the accuracy of any of the graphs on the WUWT Reference Pages, or have any suggested additions or improvements to any of the pages, please let us know in comments below.

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81 Responses to New WUWT Polar Vortex Reference Page

  1. etudiant says:

    Seems like a very powerful mixer.
    Do any of the existing atmospheric circulation models make any provisions for this phenomenon?

  2. ferd berple says:

    the true cause of the ozone hole.

  3. DocWat says:

    This is way easier to understand than the “Polar Vortex Reference Page”

  4. etudiant says: October 29, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Do any of the existing atmospheric circulation models make any provisions for this phenomenon?

    “Many atmospheric general circulation models (GCMs) and chemistry–climate models (CCMs) are not able to reproduce the observed polar stratospheric winds in simulations of the late 20th century. Specifically, the polar vortices break down too late and peak wind speeds are higher than in the ERA-40 reanalysis. Insufficient planetary wave driving during the October–November period delays the breakup of the southern hemisphere (SH) polar vortex in versions 1 (V1) and 2 (V2) of the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) chemistry–climate model, and is likely the cause of the delayed breakup in other CCMs with similarly weak October-November wave driving.”

    “In the V1 model, the delayed breakup of the Antarctic vortex biases temperature, circulation and trace gas concentrations in the polar stratosphere in spring. The V2 model behaves similarly (despite major model upgrades from V1), though the magnitudes of the anomalous effects on springtime dynamics are smaller.”

    “Clearly, if CCMs cannot duplicate the observed response of the polar stratosphere to late 20th century climate forcings, their ability to simulate the polar vortices in future may be poor.”

    http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2009/EGU2009-651.pdf

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2010JGRD..11507105H

    “It is unclear how much confidence can be put into the model projections of the vortices given that the models typically only have moderate resolution and that the climatological structure of the vortices in the models depends on the tuning of gravity wave parameterizations.

    Given the above outstanding issues, there is need for continued research in the dynamics of the vortices and their representation in global models.”

    http://www.columbia.edu/~lmp/paps/waugh+polvani-PlumbFestVolume-2010.pdf

  5. TrueNorthist says:

    It’s coming right at us! (Jumps out window)

  6. DonB says:

    Vibrating vortexes, Batman! Does that thing rotate the opposite direction in th Antactic?

  7. Camburn says:

    Thank you. This is a very valuable tool. The Actic Polar Vortex affects the Greenland high which affects most NH weather patterns.

  8. oMan says:

    Justthefactswuwt: wow, those are some pretty strongly-worded limitations in the literature. A whole new reason to think the climate models are maybe not perfect. But…the science is settled! And, in terms of an atmosphere dynamic where heat has to go from source (tropics) to sink (poles), who really cares about the sink? I mean, if you were to plug the drain in your sink, and let the water run, you would get exactly the same flow as if the drain were open. No problem. /sarc off.

  9. Kim Allen says:

    In the northern hemisphere, wouldn’t the air spiral UP over ta low pressure area? Wouldn’t air spiraling down be associated with a high pressure area?

  10. DonB says: October 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Does that thing rotate the opposite direction in th Antactic?

    It rotates Counter Clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere;

    and Clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere;

    from a local frame of reference. The is due to Earth’s rotation and the resultant Coriolis Effect;;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriolis_effect

    which this image is helpful in visualizing the Coriolis Effect:

  11. Paul Vaughan says:

    Venus’ south polar vortex animation:

  12. oMan says:
    October 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    And, in terms of an atmosphere dynamic where heat has to go from source (tropics) to sink (poles), who really cares about the sink?

    Good point. The Brewer-Dobson circulation;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brewer-Dobson_circulation

    is important in understanding polar vortices and Earth’s climate system.

  13. Gary Mount says:

    Three of the arctic ice extent charts haven’t been updated since early October on the sea ice reference page. Are they waiting until Durban is over?

  14. etudiant says:

    justthefactswuwt says:
    October 29, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    “It is unclear how much confidence can be put into the model projections of the vortices given that the models typically only have moderate resolution and that the climatological structure of the vortices in the models depends on the tuning of gravity wave parameterizations.

    Given the above outstanding issues, there is need for continued research in the dynamics of the vortices and their representation in global models.”

    http://www.columbia.edu/~lmp/paps/waugh+polvani-PlumbFestVolume-2010.pdf

    Gravity wave parameterizations??
    It seems implausible that gravity waves would impact atmospheric processes on Earth. At least I could not find any reference to them in the document cited. What am I missing?

  15. Paul Vaughan says:

    On the wuwt polar vortex ref page, several of the images/animations are in anomalies.

    The polar vortices are much easier to visualize in absolutes. After hearing Erl Happ go on & on & on about polar vortices, I assembled some simple animations to help the audience visualize what he was going on about.

    Credit: Climatology animations have been assembled using JRA-25 Atlas [ http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/jra/atlas/eng/atlas-tope.htm ] images. JRA-25 long-term reanalysis is a collaboration of Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) & Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI).

    AnimWind550K

    AnimWindZonal

  16. u.k.(us) says:

    Kim Allen says:
    October 29, 2011 at 6:38 pm
    In the northern hemisphere, wouldn’t the air spiral UP over ta low pressure area? Wouldn’t air spiraling down be associated with a high pressure area?
    ====
    Thank you, I was thinking the same thing.
    Although, I don’t think it matters what hemisphere you are in ?

    Anyone care to clarify ?

  17. u.k.(us) says:

    Paul Vaughan says:
    October 29, 2011 at 6:55 pm
    ===========
    I’ll never believe anything Paul Vaughan says, ever again :)
    In fact, I’m gonna write it down.

  18. Kim Allen says: October 29, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    In the northern hemisphere, wouldn’t the air spiral UP over ta low pressure area?

    There is no relationship between vertical air direction and hemisphere. The air sinks due to the Brewer-Dobson Circulation;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brewer-Dobson_circulation

    and Polar Cells;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_circulation#Polar_cell

    which are more easily visualized in this idealized atmospheric circulation model:

    “HALOE data show, however, a surprising phenomenon occurring in the center of the Antarctic vortex. Air from very high altitudes descends vertically through the center of the vortex, moving air to lower altitudes over several months.”

    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/news/factsheets/HALOE-Ozone.html

    Wouldn’t air spiraling down be associated with a high pressure area?

    I do not think that the vertical direction of air with in the vortex is the primary cause of the low pressure seen within the polar vortex. Rather I think that the dynamical effects of polar vortex results in a low pressure area, similar to what occurs in hurricane/cyclone, i.e.: “the cyclone’s lowest barometric pressure occurs in the eye, and can be as much as 15% lower than the atmospheric pressure outside the storm.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_%28cyclone%29

    Changes in correlations have also been used to study denitrification inside the polar vortices (e.g. Fahey et al., 1990). Kondo et al. (1999) and Wetzel et al. (2002) were able to show that their observed anomalous correlation between N2O and NOy inside the polar vortex in February and March 1997 was indeed mainly caused by dynamical effects.”

    http://www.atmos-chem-phys.org/6/267/2006/acp-6-267-2006.pdf

  19. Paul Vaughan says:

    justthefactswuwt (October 29, 2011 at 6:49 pm) wrote:
    “It rotates Counter Clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere [...] and Clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere [...] The is due to Earth’s rotation and the resultant Coriolis Effect [...]“

    Temperature gradient is the MAJOR factor you’ve left out. That’s where the PGF (Pressure Gradient Force) comes from.

    I explained over here (start at the 5th paragraph):

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/15/shifting-sun-earth-moon-harmonies-beats-biases/#comment-769231

    Polar vortices also go by the name polar night jet:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_stream#Polar_night_jet

    “During these dark months the air high over the poles becomes much colder than the air over the equator. This difference in temperature gives rise to extreme air pressure differences in the stratosphere, which, when combined with the Coriolis effect, create the polar night jets [...]“

    Temperature gradient climatologies:
    AnimTempZonal: http://i56.tinypic.com/1441k5d.png
    Anim2mT: http://i55.tinypic.com/dr75s7.png

  20. Kim Allen says: October 29, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    In the northern hemisphere, wouldn’t the air spiral UP over ta low pressure area?

    This diagram lays it out well:

  21. Paul Vaughan says:

    @Kim Allen (October 29, 2011 at 6:38 pm)
    [question about the distribution of vertical velocity]

    AnimVerticalVelocity: http://i54.tinypic.com/2ch4x28.png
    AnimOmega700hPa: http://i53.tinypic.com/28tvqt1.png

  22. DonB says:

    How many variables would it take to model, with any level of confidence, a totally chaotic system such as this?

  23. etudiant says:

    Gravity wave parameterizations???
    I can follow the vortex discussion at least minimally, but that comment suggesting the vortices’ structure depends on those parameterizations makes no sense to me. Is it a typo or shorthand for some process?

  24. etudiant says: October 29, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Gravity wave parameterizations??
    It seems implausible that gravity waves would impact atmospheric processes on Earth. At least I could not find any reference to them in the document cited. What am I missing?

    “Gravity waves are a dominant mode of variability in the atmosphere at scales near the resolution of current climate model simulations. They are generated by a variety of processes including the interaction of surface winds with topography, deep convective storms, and unbalanced flow in the jet stream. Circulation changes associated with gravity wave dissipation are now known to have wide-ranging effects on numerical weather predictions, climate change response patterns, forecasts of stratospheric ozone recovery, and space weather. The global scale of these issues requires global knowledge of gravity wave properties despite the fact that the scales of the waves themselves are too small to be fully simulated in a global model or fully sampled in global observations.”

    http://www.agu.org/meetings/chapman/2011/ccall/

    “Atmospheric gravity waves account for a significant fraction of the observed variability in the atmosphere with periods from tens of minutes to tens of hours. The wind and temperature variances associated with high-frequency gravity waves are generally observed to increase with height from near the ground up to the lower thermosphere, and studies of gravity waves in the upper atmosphere have been a staple of middle and upper atmospheric dynamics for many years. Gravity waves act to exchange mean horizontal momentum between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere and among different layers of the atmosphere, and so they play a role in forcing global-scale atmospheric circulation. Recent work on dynamical coupling of the troposphere with the middle atmosphere has made it clear that gravity waves have a significant influence on the general circulation even in the lower atmosphere, and so global climate simulation models need to adequately treat the effects of atmospheric gravity waves that are not explicitly resolved.”

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2011EO300004.shtml

  25. Jessie says:

    Thanks Anthony, this is a very interesting post.
    Also ferd’s comment re ozone hole.

    Vortex (maelstrom)
    Equinox: Lethal Seas may be of interest to readers and those who have experienced ocean or tidal vortexes and attempted to retell the tale. Or those interested in mythology.

    “Sailors have learned the hard way that reality can outweigh even the most lurid of legends.”

  26. Mr Lynn says:

    Looks surprisingly like. . . images taken during colonoscopies!

    /Mr Lynn

  27. DonB says: October 29, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    How many variables would it take to model, with any level of confidence, a totally chaotic system such as this?

    I’ve been working on that:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/30/earths-climate-system-is-ridiculously-complex-with-draft-link-tutorial/

    Needless to say, a lot of variables, and I am sure that my list is still missing a number of them.

  28. Paul Vaughan says:

    @ u.k.(us) (:October 29, 2011 at 7:24 pm:)

    New animation – an important one not included before:
    AnimWind10m: http://i44.tinypic.com/28rgyzo.png

    Don’t be distracted by only the blues. Pay attention to the north-south shifting easterly gold band, particularly in the Pacific. A key feature to notice is northern hemisphere winter curvature around the east coasts of Eurasia & North America.

    Suggested: View in concert with:
    AnimMSLP: http://i54.tinypic.com/swg11c.png
    AnimVerticalVelocity: http://i54.tinypic.com/2ch4x28.png

    The difference: Other wind animations I’ve shared [ http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/15/shifting-sun-earth-moon-harmonies-beats-biases/#comment-768741 ] were either at constant pressure or constant potential temperature.

    I’m hoping readers will be able to see where the PGF (Pressure Gradient Force) – which is a function of temperature differentials – rhythmically overcomes gravity to alter vertical (troposphere/stratosphere) coupling — see here for how that plays out over an average year:
    AnimWindZonal: http://i51.tinypic.com/34xouhx.png

    For anyone struggling: Look up some videos on youtube on how clutches & differentials work in cars. It may be necessary to view a variety of the videos available, as they include & omit different details.

    I’ve been discussing this stuff with a local mensan mechanic. Looks like the northern hemisphere winter wheel’s a little wobbly due to zonal land-ocean contrasts, but the equator’s power is delivered along the path of least resistance (to the coldest pole) and rotated 90 degrees by the Coriolis force (analogous to the effect of a bevel, worm, or face gear [ http://www.gearsandstuff.com/images/gear_types/face%20gears.gif ]).

    Slipping & eventual phase-reversal of the lunisolar grip on the terrestrial Chandler wobble [ http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/vaughn2.png ] may have an analogy with the function of a clutch (with 2-pronged jaw coupling).

    Ocean & atmosphere cycles may have an analogy with multiple transmissions running off a common solar crank shaft. There would be one ocean transmission for each basin either side of the equator and the selected gear would be a function of temperature gradients (driving surface currents via winds via PGF). For example, in a face gear analogy, the northern hemisphere winter westerlies receive 2 primary outputs through 2 different pinions that aren’t the same size.

    Careful exploratory examination of asymmetries driving differential transmission could help specify the conditioning framework converting solar & lunisolar inputs into observed interannual variations.

    If we can attract the geometrically brightest humans on Earth to solve the geometry of this multiple differential transmission puzzle, we could have the riddle of ENSO solved much quicker than otherwise might be the case. I honestly believe this problem is solvable within a relatively short period of time by the geometrically/mechanically brightest minds and I wouldn’t be surprised if a select group of humans already knows the interannual solution.

    There may also be analogies for Ninderthana’s ideas about narrowing & widening rings of meridionally shifting mass flow weaving. Candidates include automatic transmissions & torque converters (relief channeling veins that constrain locally “chaotic” flow to regionally & seasonally laminar integrals).

    The thrust here is to introduce a cross-disciplinary brainstorming exercise where different parties bring complementary awareness to the discussion. Some parties can bring awareness of a wide variety of potential mechanical analogies while others bring from non-assumptive data exploration (not statistical inference) awareness of observed (not modeled) terrestrial patterns. The race to the best analogy may involve considerable slow back-&-forth over an extended period of time, with expired seed ideas being dropped without hesitation as soon as more accurate analogies become available.

    Considering limited volunteer time, it may take awhile to figure out the best analogies. This should provide plenty of opportunity for others to race by to arrive at the finish line first. It will be interesting to see if lay people can beat the so-called “experts” to the public solution of the El Nino / La Nina puzzle. If the supposedly-brilliant mainstream sleeps on this, we may have another analogy: tortoise & hare.

  29. This is a really interesting post. Thank you.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  30. Paul Vaughan says:
    October 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    The thrust here is to introduce a cross-disciplinary brainstorming exercise where different parties bring complementary awareness to the discussion. Some parties can bring awareness of a wide variety of potential mechanical analogies while others bring from non-assumptive data exploration (not statistical inference) awareness of observed (not modeled) terrestrial patterns.

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

    And some parties can just read with interest and support the process. Like me. :-) I’m the dog from the Baco’s commercial that can’t read.

    Carry on, Paul. I like your ideas of bringing together the best minds on earth. And I like your optimism even more.

    Also, “Justthefacts” I really respect your highly ordered way of presenting things. This post rocks.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  31. Paul Vaughan says: October 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    New animation – an important one not included before:
    AnimWind10m: http://i44.tinypic.com/28rgyzo.png

    The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has several current Arctic versions:

    Arctic Sea Ice Speed and; Drift – Current

    Arctic Sea Ice Speed & Drift – 30 Day Animation: – (NRL):

    Arctic Sea Ice Speed & Drift – 365 Day Animation – (NRL):

  32. TomRude says:

    Tail wags dog… again.

  33. Paul Vaughan says:

    TomRude (October 29, 2011 at 10:05 pm):
    “Tail wags dog… again.”

    Yes, but at least it’s raising awareness of temperature gradients, PGF, jet streams, & circulatory patterns emphasized by Leroux.


    @ savethesharks (October 29, 2011 at 8:52 pm)

    Chris, can you guess what TB has against this confounding alert?

    =—
    October 28, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/moon-carves-wake/#comment-9197

    @malagaview (October 28, 2011 at 8:56 am)

    Time travels in only one direction, but spatial gradients can turn in time:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/15/shifting-sun-earth-moon-harmonies-beats-biases/#comment-769231

    The “year” and the lunisolar cycles will be of different length on other planets in our solar system and the relief (e.g. submarine & aerial on Earth) will differ, combining to produce “interannual” oscillations of differing pattern from topologically distorted sampling reference frames, but I suspect that where similar asymmetries exist in spatial summary kernels, mulitdecadal oscillations will have a similar pattern to terrestrial ones:

    Bear in mind that one finds the same multidecadal patterns in geomagnetic aa index. ** Beware confounding arising via parallel processes with common modulation. ** Anyone looking carefully will note that patterns in EOP (Earth Orientation Parameters) are matched by aa index deviations from conventional abstract conception.

    This should indicate to mainstreamers that superposed temporal epicycles, no matter how numerous, fail where accounting ignores spatial gradient reversals in time, such as can happen with simple natural aliasing across asymmetric spatial kernels, such as where planets sample solar phase quasidiscretely (summers/winters of opposite poles where planetary north-south asymmetries exist).

    The signature of asymmetric driver-wheel aliasing by driven wheels, no matter the size of the driven wheels, will NECESSARILY be a function of driver-wheel acceleration/deceleration. THIS is the marker of the WHOLE system – the forest – which should not be confused with its spatially modulated (via relief) “interannual” trees.

    Primers:

    1. Sun, Earth, Moon Harmony, Beat, & Bias Changes:

    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/vaughn-sun-earth-moon-harmonies-beats-biases.pdf

    2. Solar, Terrestrial, & Lunisolar Frameworks in Earth Rotation:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/10/solar-terrestrial-lunisolar-components-of-rate-of-change-of-length-of-day/

    (Related to tchannon’s post:
    notes on 2.37 year in [1] & 3.57 year in [2].)

    The question on my mind is how much Earth’s hydrology amplifies.

    Regards.
    —=

    EOP content is bitterly inconvenient for some. Download those data & archive them. One never knows when publicly-available data might get vandalized.

    Thanks to WUWT regular “Just The Facts” (justthefactswuwt) for putting emphasis right where it needs to be: spatiotemporal mass distribution. Extra credit for the economy of words earned with visuals.

  34. Baa Humbug says:

    Hi JTF

    Could we please have an SOI index at the ENSO page. (Immediately below the Nino 3.4 index)

    thnku in advance.

  35. Stephen Wilde says:

    At last.

    Proper attention now being paid to a phenomenon that is capable of altering the latitudinal position of ALL the surface air pressure components and therefore the positions and sizes of the permanent climate zones AND the levels of global cloudiness and albedo.

    Such changes would have significant effects on the entire global energy budget by altering the rates of energy flow from sun to oceans AND from air to space.

    The mechanism seems to cause changes in atmospheric chemistry involving ozone that have effects on the vertical temperature profile of the atmosphere, especially above the poles.

    Those changes alter the balance between the vertical temperature profiles at poles and equator with the mid latitudes acting as a sort of mobile fulcrum as the point of balance shifts cyclically towards the poles or towards the equator.

    The sun affects the size and intensity of the vortices at the poles because when the mix of particles and wavelengths changes then so does the net thermal effect of the chemical response in the upper atmosphere.

    Everything we see follows from that and the water cycle response to those changes always acts negatively such that relative stability has been maintained for 4.5 billion years even whilst the energy putput of the sun increased substantially (see: faint sun paradox).

    Is there anything that such an explanation cannot account for ?

  36. Stephen Wilde says:

    “It will be interesting to see if lay people can beat the so-called “experts” to the public solution of the El Nino / La Nina puzzle”

    Due to ocean dominance in the southern hemisphere the mean position of the ITCZ is north of the equator.

    That upsets the balance of solar energy input to the oceans either side of the equator.

    The imbalance periodically builds up until it can no longer be constrained and a pulse of surplus energy in the southern oceans breaks through to the northern oceans in the SST patterns that we observe.

    The speed at which the imbalance builds up is affected by the amount of solar energy getting into the oceans. That amount is affected by cloudiness and global albedo which are in turn affected by solar effects on the upper atmosphere especially at the polar vortices.

  37. Ralph says:

    The air goes UP in a low pressure, does it not? Please explain.

    .

  38. Ralph says:

    .

    Ok, so comparing with a standard Cyclone/Hurricane, where the majority of the air actually spirals upwards throughout the storm. Except, however, for the very core where some air can funnel straight down the open core.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_%28cyclone%29#Formation_and_detection

    So in regard to the four images at the beginning of this thread, the spiralling clouds will be going upwards, while a downdraft may well be funnelling its way right down the open core.

    Its not quite like a bathplug scenario, where all the water is descending. Or perhaps it is – in reverse. All the water is descending in a spiral in a bath, while air is being forced upwards out of the plughole, through the core. So the Arctic vortex is actually a REVERSE plughole, where the spiralling clouds are going upwards and the open core is going downwards.

    .

  39. Roger Knights says:

    Gary Mount says:
    October 29, 2011 at 7:02 pm
    Three of the arctic ice extent charts haven’t been updated since early October on the sea ice reference page. Are they waiting until Durban is over?

    Their satellite is out of grease, so the data isn’t being collected:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/04/in-space-there-are-no-jiffy-lubes/

  40. Urederra says:

    So, If air is going down at the poles, how come the ozone breaking CFC gasses produced mainly in the Northern hemisphere get concentrated and break the ozone layer in the polar southern hemisphere?

    Nice post, thanks Justthefacts.

  41. John Day says:

    At first glance these cyclones are reminiscent of the giant Red Spot on Jupiter. But they’re entirely different. In fact, a dark, polar vortex was spotted at Jupiter’s North pole by Cassini (on its way to Saturn in 2000) and once by Hubble in 1997 (in UV light). But Hubble saw it only once, so it’s not a permanent feature, like the Red Spot.

    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2003/12mar_darkspot/

    [quoting Bob West at JPL]: “The Great Dark Spot and the Great Red Spot are entirely different. The Great Red Spot is deep. It’s a high-pressure storm system rooted in Jupiter’s troposphere far below the cloudtops. The Great Dark Spot is apparently shallow and confined to Jupiter’s high stratosphere. The Great Red Spot is a long-lasting storm rooted deep in Jupiter’s atmosphere”

  42. slow to follow says:

    JTF – thanks, I hope to get my head round some of this!

  43. Kaboom says:

    Looks like a colonoscopy.

  44. Ulric Lyons says:

    @Paul Vaughan says:
    October 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm
    “Ocean & atmosphere cycles may have an analogy with multiple transmissions running off a common solar crank shaft.”

    More like applying the power and the brakes at the same time..
    Here is the gas peddle: http://omniweb.gsfc.nasa.gov/tmp/images/ret_17809.gif (zoom right in),
    and correlate with ENSO: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears.shtml
    and notice that rising SW velocity drives La Nina, and falling SW velocity drives El Nino, an inverse relationship between SW velocity and ENSO.
    Land temperature short term anomalies show a direct relationship to SW velocity.

  45. Stephen Wilde says:

    “rising SW (solar wind) velocity drives La Nina, and falling SW velocity drives El Nino, an inverse relationship between SW velocity and ENSO.”

    I don’t think that could be right over the long term though. Faster SW occurs at a time of more active sun which, in my opinion, intensifies the polar vortices to draw the pressure systems poleward thus widening the equatorial air masses, dissipating cloud cover and allowing more solar energy into the oceans to increase El Nino strength in relation to La Nina as I think has been happening ever since the LIA. Hence the upward stepping from one complete Pacific Multidecadal Oascillation to the next (60 years or so).

    However there is a delay of a few months between shorter term SW changes and the ocean response. Someone suggested 7 months or so which is about half the ENSO cycle. Could it be that the ocean response is about half a complete ENSO cycle out of phase with short term SW variations such that by the time the change in SW has achieved its effect the opposite phase of ENSO is then in place ?

    Note that your data, Ulric, may be mainly dealing with short term SW variations within a single solar cycle whereas true climate change such as that from MWP to date deals with multiple solar cycle changes in SW over 1000 years peak to peak such as MWP through LIA to date.

  46. beng says:

    Funny. Just a couple days ago while looking at a sat visible-light mpeg, I noticed a giant CCW pinwheel spinning over the southern Hudson Bay. I guessed that was one of the polar vortices dropping well south of its usual position & then presto, an unusual early snow.

    In Jan 1994, a huge polar vortex moved south from Canada over the eastern Great Lakes & brought -20F into the mid-Atlantic states.

  47. erl happ says:

    Ralph says:
    October 30, 2011 at 2:53 am

    The air goes UP in a low pressure, does it not? Please explain.

    The dynamics are complex and your mid and low latitude analogies simply do not apply at the poles. Here are some things to bear in mind. There is a unique circulation found only at the poles. Normal rules do not apply. Just remember that the vortex is not a low level phenomenon. It links the mesosphere and the stratosphere and might be described as a particular feature of the Brewer Dobson circulation.

    1. The vortex increases its rate of descent (which is much slower than in mid and low latitude cells) when polar pressure increases. This brings NOx from the mesosphere which catalyses the destruction of ozone.
    2.In general ozone levels are high in the polar atmosphere in particular in winter because the photochemical degradation of ozone simply does not take place due to the absence of short wave energy from the sun.
    3. Ozone absorbs long wave radiation from the surface of the Earth giving rise to heating and convection but ozone is absent in the vortex core and at very high concentration outside the core. The circulation that is created tends to spin ozone rich air outwards at 30hpa in the middle stratosphere where it moves equator-ward.
    4. The entire atmospheric column is coupled in convection because the cold point is as high as 20hPa in winter. So the troposphere (if such a thing can be conceived to exist in the very cold and dry polar atmosphere where the ‘tropopause’ hardly exists) and the stratosphere heave together.
    5. The coldest parts of the stratosphere descend into the domain of the ‘troposphere’ raising temperature and lowering surface pressure between 50 degrees of latitude and the pole. Because the upper air circulation changes location slowly the centers of convection tend to be relatively fixed in position. This means the centers of descent of cold air at about 60° of latitude tend to constitute relatively fixed ‘blocking high pressure cells’.
    6. At the core below the vortex the air descends gently bringing more ozone towards the surface when polar pressure is high. This raises GPH when the AO and the AAO indices are negative.When polar pressure is low the lower polar atmosphere does not descend and it is cooler.
    7. There is a strong katabatic wind near the surface in Antarctica with surface air descending down-slope, and this is a separate near surface circulation.
    8. The air is always warmer than the surface in Antarctica. The tendency for warmer air to descend produces a broad winter minimum in temperature at many surface locations.
    9. A stalling of the vortex when polar pressure falls gives rise to an increase in ozone levels and what is known as a ‘stratospheric warming’. The warming tends to be located where the vortex no longer exists.At this time the near surface air below 50hPa cools. So, whatever is happening in the upper stratosphere (warming or cooling), the reverse is the case in the ‘troposphere’.
    10. A re-invigorated vortex as polar surface pressure increases is associated with the incursion of very cold air into the major continental land masses of the northern hemisphere. (low or negative Arctic Oscillation Index). Conversely, weak polar pressure is associated with the northward sweep of the mid latitude westerlies and associated jet streams bringing warm weather to high latitudes in winter (The Arctic between 1978 and 2007).
    11. The dynamics of the vortex affects polar pressure and therefore the vortex itself. This can move polar pressure, vortex strength and stratospheric ozone levels one way or the other over long time spans, sixty years or more. We see this in Antarctica.
    12. Polar pressure and NOx concentration in the mesosphere is affected by solar activity.
    13. On monthly time scales the Arctic tends to be a mirror image of the circulation in Antarctica but on longer time scales the two move together.

    All this is of the utmost importance to the evolution of surface temperature because ozone in the upper troposphere is associated with warming and cloud loss in all latitudes and from one hemisphere to the other, and in particular between November and March when the Arctic circulation is active. Change occurs on all time scales in accordance with solar activity.

    At the end of the following unpublished paper are some useful references.

    http://www.physics.otago.ac.nz/space/2008JA014029-pip.pdf

    If you want to understand natural climate variation you need to get your head around this. It’s not as simple as the erroneous idea that trace gas composition determines surface temperature.

  48. Ulric Lyons says:

    @Stephen Wilde says:
    October 30, 2011 at 6:59 am
    “I don’t think that could be right over the long term though. Faster SW occurs at a time of more active sun which, in my opinion, intensifies the polar vortices to draw the pressure systems poleward thus widening the equatorial air masses, dissipating cloud cover and allowing more solar energy into the oceans to increase El Nino strength in relation to La Nina as I think has been happening ever since the LIA.”

    Sea level data for the Pacific Islands suggest that sea level in the region fell, possibly in two stages, between AD 1270-1475. This was associated with a 1.5°C fall in temperature (determined from oxygen-isotope analysis) and an observed increase in El Niño frequency:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/1520-6548%28200010%2915:7%3C715::AID-GEA4%3E3.0.CO;2-L/abstract

    The team focused its attention on a particularly cold period (1701-1761), which occurred in the middle of the Little Ice Age (1400 to 1850 A.D.). At this time, temperatures in temperate latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere were between 1 and 2 °C lower than average figures recorded at present. Drill-core coral samples taken from near the Amédée Lighthouse on the South-West side of New Caledonia show that the Little Ice Age also prevailed in the tropical South-West Pacific, with an average cooling of around 1°C. Was El Niño, which now manifests itself in this area of the Pacific every two to seven years by a fall in SSTs (by 0.5 to 1.5°C), reinforced by this generalized cooling? The reconstitution of a composite monthly SST record over the first 60 years of the XVIIIth century has led the researchers to some surprising observations. El Niño’s behaviour then was similar to what it is now. In spite of a decrease in average temperatures, neither the strength nor the frequency of El Niño therefore appears to have been affected, even during the very coldest period: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2002-03/idrp-wen032902.php

    Now getting back to recent decades, there definitely seems to be a strong inverse relationship between ENSO and rising and falling SW velocity:

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears.shtml

  49. Mike McMillan says:

    Those photos should remind everyone over 50 to get a colonoscopy. They really do save lives.

  50. Ulric Lyons says:

    @Stephen Wilde says:
    October 30, 2011 at 6:59 am
    “However there is a delay of a few months between shorter term SW changes and the ocean response. Someone suggested 7 months or so which is about half the ENSO cycle. Could it be that the ocean response is about half a complete ENSO cycle out of phase with short term SW variations such that by the time the change in SW has achieved its effect the opposite phase of ENSO is then in place ?”

    The response looks a lot quicker from the data, and 7 months is much less than half an average cycle, and pretty meaningless as cycle length varies so much. My reasoning suggests to me that a stronger period of SW will be giving positive land temperature deviations, while triggering cold water up-welling ~ a La Nina condition, thus moderating land temp` extremes.

  51. Ralph says:

    >>Erl Happ

    Sorry Erl, you are no making sense with this (cut & paste?) explanation. The NOX and Ozone is irrelevant to the phenomena, so please do not discuss this issue.

    >>8. The tendency for warmer air to descend produces a broad winter
    >>minimum in temperature at many surface locations.

    Warm air only descends in anti-cyclonic conditions.

    >>9. A stalling of the vortex when polar pressure falls gives rise to an
    >>increase in ozone levels and what is known as a ‘stratospheric warming’.

    If the vortex stalls when pressure drops, then the phenomena must be anti-cyclonic. – ie, a high pressure system. But in the pic above, the rotation appears to be anticlockwise, which is a feature of N.H. cyclones (low pressures).

    >>10. A re-invigorated vortex as polar surface pressure increases is
    >>associated with the incursion of very cold air into the major
    >>continental land masses of the northern hemisphere.

    Again, if the vortex is invigorated with increasing pressure, then this is an anti-cyclonic feature, and not a low pressure.

    In short, your explanation has failed to explain.

    .

  52. M.A.Vukcevic says: October 30, 2011 at 2:06 am

    I have a link to even more impressive link from NASA:

    http://eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/images/imagerecords/36000/36972/npole_gmao_200901-02.mov

    That’s good stuff. I’d really like to get a live/current version for the reference page. It’s amazing how limited our vortex and vorticity tracking and measurement capabilities are at present…

  53. Stephen Wilde says:

    Thanks for that, Erl.

    I’ve been getting a headache from just that issue but your summary helps.

    The only real difference between us is that I think you subscribe to the consensus view that the whole atmospheric column warms with an active sun and cools with a less active sun.

    I think it is somewhat different. To get the surface pressure changes we observe we must have a warming stratosphere towards the poles when the sun is less active so that the polar air masses at the surface expand and push the jets equatorward.

    So, the descent of ozone destroying material is greatest when the sun is more active and the resultant cooling in the mesosphere enhances the downward flow to create higher surface pressure at the poles (positive polar oscillation). That reduction in ozone above 45km cools the stratosphere too especially at the poles despite an increase in ozone creation below 45km.
    I say 45km because Joanna Haigh noted a reverse sign solar effect on ozone quantities above that level for the period 2004 to 2007.

    The high pressure at the poles draws the mid latitude jets poleward towards it so as to provide the rising air needed to sustain the high pressure cells at the poles. The mid latitudes appear to warm up as more equatorial air is drawn poleward across them.

    The descent of ozone destroying material is weakest when the sun is least active so there is warming of the mesosphere and stratosphere as a result of increasing ozone above 45km. The reduced downward flow from that upper warming causes the polar vortex to weaken so that relatively low pressure develops at the pole (negative polar oscillation).

    However, reduced downward flow at the poles means that the rising warm air from the middle latitudes (which are in turn fuelled by energy from the tropics) is not so efficiently matched by a corresponding downward flow of air at the poles.

    The consequence is that instead of the downward air flow occurring over the poles it has to occur at lower latitudes so the polar high pressure cells have to migrate equatorward across the middle latitudes taking cold polar air with them (as per Marcel Leroux and his ‘mobile polar high’)
    In essence those changes at the poles alter the vertical temperature profile so as to change the balance between the vertical temperature profile at the poles and that at the equator.

    The outcome is a latitudinal shift in ALL the global climate zones and we perceive that as climate change.

    To summarise:

    When the sun is active the polar air masses contract at the surface and the mid latitude jets shift poleward.

    When the sun is less active the polar air masses expand at the surface and the mid latitude jets shift equatorward.

    However the global equilibrium temperature (if one includes the oceans) need not change much if at all.

    Most surface temperature sensors are situated in the temperate zones where those surface pressure and temperature shifts are most pronounced.

    Does that square the circle ?

  54. Stephen Wilde says:

    Thanks Ulric, I’ll give that some thought.

  55. Stephen Wilde says:

    Actually Ulric, I think we can resolve your points.

    The strength of El Nino might well be much the same throughout cold periods but maybe the time between El Nino events is longer during cold periods.

    I proposed that ENSO is a result of an imbalance between solar input to the oceans in each hemisphere. During a cold period El Nino need not become less strong. It might just take a little longer for the required imbalance to accumulate.

    That would still be reflected in the RELATIVE relationship between El Nino and La Nina over the 60 year periods of the Pacific Multidecadal Oscillation however. They need not change their respective intensities much. A change in timing would have much the same outcome.

  56. Ulric Lyons says:

    @Stephen Wilde says:
    October 30, 2011 at 6:59 am
    “Note that your data, Ulric, may be mainly dealing with short term SW variations within a single solar cycle whereas true climate change such as that from MWP to date deals with multiple solar cycle changes in SW over 1000 years peak to peak such as MWP through LIA to date.”

    The response would be at a weekly/monthly scale, though there is obviously a seasonal factor at play too as ENSO tends to change its vector in January or July:

    http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/indices.shtml

    On the long scale, the LIA, Dark Ages, and Greek minimum all show a rise in El Nino frequency:

  57. Baa Humbug says: October 29, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Could we please have an SOI index at the ENSO page. (Immediately below the Nino 3.4 index)

    Done. The SOI indexes where available on the Atmospheric Oscillation Page;

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/atmospheric-oscillation/

    but I added them to them on the ENSO page;

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/enso

    below the “Niño Region Sea Surface Indexes and Anomalies” charts and under the header “Southern Oscillation Index (SOI)”.

  58. Michael Schaefer says:

    “The Day After Tomorrow” – redux…

  59. Paul Vaughan says:

    Stephen Wilde (October 30, 2011 at 9:04 am)
    “However the global equilibrium temperature (if one includes the oceans) need not change much if at all.”

    It’s guaranteed to change due to the spatiotemporal version of Simpson’s Paradox, the “unfair averaging” (in layman’s terms) of straight vs. loopy land-ocean heat-capacity contrasts with zonal vs. meridional jet shifts on an asymmetric planet.

    A quick look at the north-south fractal dimension contrast (length:area ratio) of isolines here [ http://i54.tinypic.com/swg11c.png ] makes that crystal clear.

    The changes are only tenths of a degree K, but they do account for the multidecadal terrestrial oscillations we observe, as I’ve shown [ http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/vaughn4.png ]. It’s just asymmetric aliasing of the solar drive wheel. If climate discussion participants had a better handle on complex numbers (high-school math) and correlation (1st year university intro stats) they’d realize it’s as simple as 1 + 1 = 2.

  60. Stephen Wilde says:

    Ulric, the return period for El Nino is 3 to 7 years on that graph but recently it has been far less than that.

    Could you explain please ?

  61. Paul Vaughan says:

    Ulric & Stephen:
    Multivariate multiscale complex correlation (complex as in complex numbers, not as in complicated) sorts out the nonlinearities interfering with your communication on SW, ENSO, volcano, & earthquake relations.

    One of the challenges plaguing the media & the public in the climate discussion is the relentless mainstream direction of our attention to average anomalies where climate cannot be understood without maintaining vigilant cognizance of absolute gradients (differentially driving circulation & water states across hemispheres & basins).

    It’s an interesting exchange you guys are having here.

    Erl, thanks for joining the discussion. No other WUWT contributor has done so much to pioneer & promote community awareness of atmospheric circulatory geometry as you …but “Just The Facts” is now giving some welcome competition!

    “Just The Facts”: Can I suggest that you feature this [ http://i56.tinypic.com/14t0kns.png ] animation on the WUWT polar vortex ref page? If so, JMA & CRIEPI ask that you include an acknowledgement such as the one I provided above [ http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/29/new-wuwt-polar-vortex-reference-page/#comment-782074 ]. Looking forward to a ref page on the Westerlies if/when you ever have time/interest. Thanks for volunteering contributions.

  62. Paul Westhaver says:

    On Saturn the polar vortex is a HEXAGON!!!

    Have fun!

  63. Baa Humbug says:

    Thank you JTF

    This is a much appreciated marvellous work you do

  64. Ulric Lyons says:

    @Stephen Wilde says:
    October 30, 2011 at 9:30 am
    “Actually Ulric, I think we can resolve your points.
    The strength of El Nino might well be much the same throughout cold periods but maybe the time between El Nino events is longer during cold periods.
    I proposed that ENSO is a result of an imbalance between solar input to the oceans in each hemisphere. During a cold period El Nino need not become less strong. It might just take a little longer for the required imbalance to accumulate.”

    Two of my links above say El Nino frequency increases during cold periods.

    “Ulric, the return period for El Nino is 3 to 7 years on that graph but recently it has been far less than that. Could you explain please ?”

    2yrs between weaker El Nino episodes is not at all uncommon. Also, recent monthly rises in SW velocity have been quite rapid compared to periods of generally falling SW velocity, favouring more El Nino episodes and conditions:

  65. Ulric Lyons says:

    @Paul Vaughan says:
    October 30, 2011 at 11:06 am
    “Ulric & Stephen:
    Multivariate multiscale complex correlation (complex as in complex numbers, not as in complicated) sorts out the nonlinearities interfering with your communication on SW, ENSO..”

    The relationship I have found looks sound to me. The next thing I would explore in ENSO is rates of change, and apparent inertia of the ENSO condition according to it`s magnitude, it should take longer to stall and reverse a very strong El Nino.

  66. Ralph says:

    >>Stephen Wild
    >>The high pressure at the poles draws the mid latitude jets
    >>poleward towards it so as to provide the rising air needed to
    >>sustain the high pressure cells at the poles.

    Horse before the cart?

    I think you will find that the jets determine the location of the pressure systems, and not [i]vice verse.[/i]

    .

  67. Stephen Wilde says:

    Well Ralph, that is the conventional opinion. But if that is so then why do the jets become more meridional when the sun is less active and more zonal when it is more active ?

    The jets mark the contact region between two areas of high pressure with one being comprised of a polar air mass and the other being comprised of a more equatorial air mass.

    Change the position or intensity of those high pressure cells relative to one another and the jets are forced to follow.

    On the specific point you refer to, try to envisage a flow of falling water into a bucket. If the flow is rapid as in a positive polar vortex the entry region will be deep but small in diameter so that the consequent upwelling is closer to the entry point (the jets move poleward).

    If the flow is slow as in a negative polar vortex then the entry region will be shallower but broader and the consequent upwelling will be further away from the entry point (the jets shift equatorward).

    So it is when the polar air masses respond to changes in the intensity of the downward vortex flow.Fluid mechanics are applicable in these scenarios because the atmosphere behaves like a fluid of low density.

    It is confusing, simply because the flow in the upper atmosphere at the poles is not upward but downward EVEN THOUGH low pressure can be present AT THE SURFACE when the downward flow is weaker.

    Normally one would expect low pressure at the poles to mean rising air at the poles. At low levels that is so but in the bulk of the atmospheric column the flow is always downward at the poles.

    I think that distinction has hitherto caused conceptual problems that prevented an accurate diagnosis for the variations in the pressure distribution at high latitudes.

    Of course I may be wrong in which case someone should correct me :)

  68. Stephen Wilde says:

    I think I can improve on that description as follows:

    i) When the sun is active more ozone destroying chemicals flow down through the mesosphere and stratosphere which then cool as a result of the ozone destruction. The effect is maximised over the poles and the permanent downward flow is strongest over the poles so that is where the polar high pressure cell becomes established.With the high pressure cell localised to the pole the rest of the surface pressure systems have more space to shift poleward.

    ii) When the sun is less active then at such times less ozone destroying chemicals flow down through the mesosphere and stratosphere which then warm relatively due to the presence of more ozone. That effect is maximised over the poles as before but the relative warmth over the poles blocks the permanent downward flow preventing it from reaching the surface at the poles. Instead the downward flow is directed horizontally to flow irregularly down and around the warm block so as to reach the surface at two or three points some distance away from the poles thereby encroaching on the mid latitudes. Thus during a period of negative polar oscillation we see two or three polar high pressure cells forming over the poleward portions of the mid latitudes pushing polar air equatorward ahead of them.With the high pressure cells split up and spread around the poles rest of the surface pressure systems are forced to shift equatorward.

    I have described the climate consequences of that latitudinal shifting elsewhere.

    The process is more pronounced at the north pole because the energy leaving the Arctic Ocean predisposes the air above the north pole to be warmer than the air above the south pole.

  69. erl happ says:

    Ralph says:
    October 30, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Sorry Erl, you are no making sense with this (cut & paste?) explanation. The NOX and Ozone is irrelevant to the phenomena, so please do not discuss this issue.

    Ralph, I cut and pasted the above out of my head.

    If you persist in applying your conception of the behavior of mid and low latitude circulatory phenomena to that at high latitudes, and fail to recognize the unique features of the system at high latitudes then you will not get to first base in understanding the phenomena.

    Consider this. There is no tropopause. The cold point moves between 200hPa and 20hPa between summer and winter and exhibits a lot of variability in winter. This gives rise to a coupled circulation of the notional troposphere and stratosphere, concepts that have limited or no applicability to the high latitude atmosphere. Forget these concepts. Think of the entire atmospheric column locked in convection with a tendency for the coolest parts to descend promoting the pattern of low pressure of the annular modes at about 60° of latitude over the sea on the margins of Antarctica and over the Pacific and the Atlantic in the northern hemisphere.

    Then, think of a vortex at the top of the column (NOx rich) affecting ozone levels between 100hPa and 1hPa in what would otherwise be ozone rich air (none richer). This vortex manifestly varies in strength with surface pressure. Strong surface pressure = strong vortex = more NOx = less ozone. The vortex cools the air in the center of this heaving mass of air promoting a contrary tendency at the highest altitude/latitude, but shifting about, particularly in the Arctic where there is no high ice dome at the pole.

    Now, go look at the behavior of temperature at 10hpa at 90° south since 1948 at:http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

    Then, tell me again that NOx from the mesosphere is irrelevant to the ozone content, air temperature and surface pressure at high latitudes.

    The circulation is completely unrelated to surface phenomena in the troposphere that can be observed elsewhere. Get real. Observe. Inspect. Take an interest. Look at the historical data and THINK..

    Tom Rude, you are looking at the dog, not the tail. I would have thought that a man familiar with Leroux would know that.

    Stephen Wilde says:
    October 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm
    <i) Change the position or intensity of those high pressure cells relative to one another and the jets are forced to follow.

    That’s accurate.

    Also, let’s note that if we change the relative strength of the high pressure cells we change the meridional flow from north to south or south to north with big consequences for surface temperature. And the big changes come in winter.

  70. jack morrow says:

    Paul Westhaver says:
    I’ve been looking at this phenomenon for some time and it is really amazing. We know so little about everything yet so much about co2. Ocean cycles,jet stream cycles,solar cycles,even some bicycles we know less about than co2-yet our government knows best.

  71. Ulric Lyons says:

    @Stephen Wilde says:
    October 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm
    “Well Ralph, that is the conventional opinion. But if that is so then why do the jets become more meridional when the sun is less active and more zonal when it is more active ? [...]
    Of course I may be wrong in which case someone should correct me :)”

    During El Niño events, increased precipitation is expected in California due to a more southerly, zonal, storm track. During the El Niño portion of ENSO, increased precipitation falls along the Gulf coast and Southeast due to a stronger than normal, and more southerly, polar jet stream.
    (remembering that El Nino occurs with lower SW speed = less active Sun)

  72. u.k.(us) says:

    Am I the only one that thinks Paul Vaughan found a syllabus, and has become addicted to it’s pronouncements ????
    Ya sorta caught me last time :)

  73. Paul Vaughan says: October 30, 2011 at 11:06 am

    “Just The Facts”: Can I suggest that you feature this [ http://i56.tinypic.com/14t0kns.png ] animation on the WUWT polar vortex ref page?

    The animation at present does not meet three of the criteria for inclusion on the WUWT reference pages. Firstly, it must be hosted at its source, i.e. whether NOAA, NASA, leif.org or climate4you.com, it must be a source where users can go to evaluate the quality and trustworthiness of the data source. Thus tinypic.com is an issue. Secondly, it must be current/regularly updated, daily is preferred, monthly is common, quarterly is acceptable, and annually is tolerated in certain circumstances. We do not update any of the urls on the reference pages, thus we rely on our data sources to automatically update the content at each url we use. Finally, the graphic/animation must provide sufficient information for someone to verify its accuracy. In the example you provide, the year of each image in the animation isn’t available.

    With all of this said, it is a valuable animation and there is a dearth of good animations on Earth’s vortices, thus if we can figure out how to overcome the afore mentioned issues, I’d be happy to include the animation on the polar vortex page.

    Looking forward to a ref page on the Westerlies if/when you ever have time/interest.

    Westerlies is pretty narrow, I doubt that there are enough current data sources to support a page. We might be able to do a wind or atmospheric circulation page. Please post any prospective content and I will start compiling them for a future page, but next up are going to be the Potential Climatic Variables and the Significant Climatic Variables Reference Pages.

  74. Stephen Wilde says:

    Erl, I think we are almost agreed on the basis of your response to Ralph.

    Just try this:

    Envisage a warming effect in the mesosphere and stratosphere as a weak sun sends less ozone destroying chemicals down through the descending polar vortex. That is the reverse effect from standard climatology which assumes a cooling mesosphere and stratosphere when the sun is less active.

    However it is only by getting a warming effect at high altitudes above the pole that one can obstruct, break up and redistribute the downward flow of the polar vortex in the way that is observed as per my post at

    Stephen Wilde says:
    October 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    If you can accept that contention then it all falls neatly into place doesn’t it ?

    It also accords with Joanna Haigh’s comments about increasing ozone above 45km from 2004 to 2007 whilst the sun was becoming less active.

    Once the downward flow of the polar vortex has been split up and redistributed so that the surface pressure elements are pushed equatorward for a net increase in global cloudiness and albedo then less solar energy enters the oceans and the Earth system as a whole starts to cool.

    The opposite thermal effect occurs when the sun is more active.

    I hink that is the answer to the entire climate conundrum.

    Whatever way one tries to cut it we cannot get the observed changes in surface pressure distribution without a warmer stratosphere at a time of less active sun and a cooler stratosphere at a time of more active sun.. After all, the polar vortex did become more positive with more poleward jets during the late 20th century period of warming at a time of more active sun.

    A shorter term example is the phenomenon known as a sudden stratospheric warming. It is well accepted that short term warming of the stratosphere above the poles does split up and redistribute the polar vortex in exactly the same way as is observed on a longer timescale when the jets become more meridional such as occurred in the LIA.

    I think the logic is sound and the evidence incontrovertible.

    The models need to be adjusted to reflect that reality and the albedo changes that accompany it. Then we will start to get some more accurate ‘projections’.

    Stephen.
    Copyright 31/10/2011

  75. erl happ says:

    Hi Stephen,
    What comes before is coherent but I can not make sense out of this:
    Those changes alter the balance between the vertical temperature profiles at poles and equator with the mid latitudes acting as a sort of mobile fulcrum as the point of balance shifts cyclically towards the poles or towards the equator.

    The sun affects the size and intensity of the vortices at the poles because when the mix of particles and wavelengths changes then so does the net thermal effect of the chemical response in the upper atmosphere

    If you were to relate your argument to the planetary winds rather than the ‘jets’ it would make more sense to me. You would then be describing the Arctic Oscillation.

    You do not give enough weight to the changes in surface pressure that are responsible for the change in the planetary winds and do not appear to have a coherent explanation of why surface pressure changes.

    Nor do I see a coherent explanation for how and why cloud cover increases or decreases.

  76. Ralph says:

    >>erl happ says: October 30, 2011 at 4:23 pm
    >>Ralph says: October 30, 2011 at 8:41 am
    >>If you persist in applying your conception of the behavior of mid and
    >>low latitude circulatory phenomena to that at high latitudes.
    >>Strong surface pressure = strong vortex = more NOx = less ozone.

    In other words, this vortex is associated with a high pressure system, not a low pressure system as was initially advertised. And the clouds in those pictures are spiralling down in a clockwise fashion – as in a NH high pressure system. And NOX has naff all to do with it.

    .

  77. Stephen Wilde says:

    Erl, it is hard to transfer ideas from one’s own mind to another isn’t it ?

    i) I think ‘the planetary winds’ might well be a better term than the ‘jets’. I just used the latter because the route of the mid latitude jets is where the effect is most apparent. I didn’t refer specifically to the AO because I am considering a global process. Consider the slope in height of the tropopause from equator to north pole. That slope can be changed either by oceanic changes below at the equator or by solar changes above at the pole. If the solar and oceanic effects vary independently to some degree (as I think they do) then the point of balance (the fulcrum) between the two influences will cyclically shift latitudinally and that will take ALL the surface pressure components in that hemisphere along with it thus altering the latitudinal positions of the permanent climate zones.

    ii) Surface pressure changes can only occur locally and regionally from a redistribution of the various high and low pressure cells. The global atmospheric pressure is static on time scales we are concerned with.Changes in surface pressure distribution can only result from thermal changes above or below the atmosphere. Ocean SSTs can change the surface pressure distribution from below by altering the rate at which energy is released from oceans to air. Solar changes seem to be able to alter the vertical temperature of the atmosphere or parts of it so as to change the surface pressure distribution from above.So, surface pressure changes result from variability in sun and oceans.I think that is coherent.

    iii) When the polar air masses push equatorward in a more meridional fashion then the additional loopiness lengthens the boundaries between polar and equatorial air masses around the world. More air mass mixing occurs and I think more cloudiness develops with an effect on global albedo.It is no coincidence that cloudiness dropped as the jet streams became more zonal during the late 20th century warming spell. Nor is it a coincidence that we now see increasing cloudiness with more meridional jet streams. I don’t think we need the Svensmark hypothesis to deal with cloudiness changes. I think that is a coherent explanation.

  78. erl happ says:

    Ralph says:
    October 31, 2011 at 7:42 am
    Your simplification of the phenomena will not assist in understanding its power to change surface temperature.

    And NOX has naff all to do with it.

    So, you are not all all interested in the history of stratospheric temperature over Antarctica and you plainly did not download the data as I suggested. And plainly there is no point in endeavoring to answer your questions.

    I suspect you have an agenda and that this is a topic that you do not wish to see discussed. You are politically rather than observationally motivated.

  79. Paul Vaughan says:

    @justthefactswuwt (October 30, 2011 at 7:32 pm)

    The 550K potential-temperature polar-view isotachs & pressure climatology animation [ http://i56.tinypic.com/14t0kns.png ] is from JRA-25 Atlas [ http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/jra/atlas/eng/atlas-tope.htm “The reanalysis covers the 26-year period from 1979 to 2004 [...]“] using this sequence:

    http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/jra/atlas/isentrop-1/prs_w_550_JAN.png [...]
    http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/jra/atlas/isentrop-1/prs_w_550_AUG.png [...]

    More on the Westerlies another week. Thanks for explaining the criteria.

  80. E.M.Smith says:

    DonB says: October 29, 2011 at 7:40 pm
    How many variables would it take to model, with any level of confidence, a totally chaotic system such as this?

    It doesn’t matter how many variables you have, a chaotic system can not be reliably modeled.

    Minor, even trivial, variations in input data initial state, or minor, even trivial, variations in precision during calculations, result in dramatic divergence in the modeled outcome. It doesn’t converge on a solution, it diverges into chaotic states (by definition…)

    So take a cone. Balance it perfectly on the tip. Which way will it fall when released?

    Does it depend on the precision of the point? Even mass distribution? Surface inclination? Temperature differentials? Minor air currents? Rate the hand is withdrawn? Yes. And a whole lot more. So no matter how precisely you set all those initial state values, the cone is still likely to fall in an unexpected direction (minus an actual bias of leaning at the moment of release…)

    If it was not so, then you could model a rolling die or the lotto balls and win millions… Or maybe even model a cloud with some accuracy ;-)

    And after that cone falls over, which way will it roll? … and which other cones will it knock over?… and which ways will THEY roll?

    Divergence in models is the big bugaboo that makes them problematic for a whole lot of uses. Chaotic systems have divergence in spades.

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