Pollution enhanced thunderstorms warm the planet?

Diagram from NOAA National Weather Service tra...

From the DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a new paper in GRL saying something that doesn’t make much sense to me. As shown in the diagram above, thunderstorms transport heat from the lower troposphere upwards. The heat source at the base of the atmosphere (at the surface) is the absorption of sunlight by the surface of the Earth. That transfers heat to the lower atmosphere by conduction (a small amount), and mostly be re-radiated Long Wave IR. Heat is then transported upwards by convection, which is done by clouds (cumulus for example) and especially thunderstorms. So, given the amount of energy transport, I’m puzzled as to how they think this new theory works as a net warming, especially when all they are doing is running a model, and providing no hard data. They say:

Pollution strengthens thunderstorm clouds, causing their anvil-shaped tops to spread out high in the atmosphere and capture heat — especially at night

Basically what they are saying is that thunderstorm anvils are enhanced by pollution, probably due to increased condensation nuclei, and those anvils act as IR reflectors at night…but…they also act as strong sunlight reflectors, something that goes on every day in the ITCZ, as Willis has pointed out with his Thermostat Hypothesis, now a peer reviewed paper.  Steve McIntyre also offered a view that clouds offer a strong net negative feedback here.

But when an abstract ends with this:

The positive aerosol radiative forcing on deep clouds could offset the negative aerosol radiative forcing on low clouds to an unknown extent.

I wonder how this speculation got published in the first place.

Pollution teams with thunderclouds to warm atmosphere

New simulation study shows that atmosphere warms when pollution intensifies storms

RICHLAND, Wash. — Pollution is warming the atmosphere through summer thunderstorm clouds, according to a computational study published May 10 in Geophysical Research Letters. How much the warming effect of these clouds offsets the cooling that other clouds provide is not yet clear. To find out, researchers need to incorporate this new-found warming into global climate models.

Pollution strengthens thunderstorm clouds, causing their anvil-shaped tops to spread out high in the atmosphere and capture heat — especially at night, said lead author and climate researcher Jiwen Fan of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

“Global climate models don’t see this effect because thunderstorm clouds simulated in those models do not include enough detail,” said Fan. “The large amount of heat trapped by the pollution-enhanced clouds could potentially impact regional circulation and modify weather systems.”

Clouds are one of the most poorly understood components of Earth’s climate system. Called deep convective clouds, thunderstorm clouds reflect a lot of the sun’s energy back into space, trap heat that rises from the surface, and return evaporated water back to the surface as rain, making them an important part of the climate cycle.

To more realistically model clouds on a small scale, such as in this study, researchers use the physics of temperature, water, gases and aerosols — tiny particles in the air such as pollution, salt or dust on which cloud droplets form.

In large-scale models that look at regions or the entire globe, researchers substitute a stand-in called a parameterization to account for deep convective clouds. The size of the grid in global models can be a hundred times bigger than an actual thunderhead, making a substitute necessary.

However, thunderheads are complicated, dynamic clouds. Coming up with an accurate parameterization is important but has been difficult due to their dynamic nature.

Inside a thunderstorm cloud, warm air rises in updrafts, pushing tiny aerosols from pollution or other particles upwards. Higher up, water vapor cools and condenses onto the aerosols to form droplets, building the cloud. At the same time, cold air falls, creating a convective cycle. Generally, the top of the cloud spreads out like an anvil.

Previous work showed that when it’s not too windy, pollution leads to bigger clouds . This occurs because more pollution particles divide up the available water for droplets, leading to a higher number of smaller droplets that are too small to rain. Instead of raining, the small droplets ride the updrafts higher, where they freeze and absorb more water vapor. Collectively, these events lead to bigger, more vigorous convective clouds that live longer.

Now, researchers from PNNL, Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the University of Maryland took to high-performance computing to study the invigoration effect on a regional scale.

To find out which factors contribute the most to the invigoration, Fan and colleagues set up computer simulations for two different types of storm systems: warm summer thunderstorms in southeastern China and cool, windy frontal systems on the Great Plains of Oklahoma. The data used for the study was collected by different DOE Atmospheric Radiation Measurement facilities.

The simulations had a resolution that was high enough to allow the team to see the clouds develop. The researchers then varied conditions such as wind speed and air pollution.

Fan and colleagues found that for the warm summer thunderstorms, pollution led to stronger storms with larger anvils. Compared to the cloud anvils that developed in clean air, the larger anvils both warmed more — by trapping more heat — and cooled more — by reflecting additional sunlight back to space. On average, however, the warming effect dominated.

The springtime frontal clouds did not have a similarly significant warming effect. Also, increasing the wind speed in the summer clouds dampened the invigoration by aerosols and led to less warming.

This is the first time researchers showed that pollution increased warming by enlarging thunderstorm clouds. The warming was surprisingly strong at the top of the atmosphere during the day when the storms occurred. The pollution-enhanced anvils also trapped more heat at night, leading to warmer nights.

“Those numbers for the warming are very big,” said Fan, “but they are calculated only for the exact day when the thunderstorms occur. Over a longer time-scale such as a month or a season, the average amount of warming would be less because those clouds would not appear everyday.”

Next, the researchers will look into these effects on longer time scales. They will also try to incorporate the invigoration effect in global climate models.

###

The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. The data from China were gathered under a bilateral agreement with the China Ministry of Sciences and Technology.

Reference: Jiwen Fan, Daniel Rosenfeld, Yanni Ding, L. Ruby Leung, and Zhanqing Li, 2012. Potential Aerosol Indirect Effects on Atmospheric Circulation and Radiative Forcing through Deep Convection, Geophys. Res. Lett. May 10, DOI 10.1029/2012GL051851 (http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2012/2012GL051851.shtml)

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

Here’s the abstract:

GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 39, L09806, 7 PP., 2012
doi:10.1029/2012GL051851

Potential aerosol indirect effects on atmospheric circulation and radiative forcing through deep convection

Key Points

  • Aerosol invigoration (AIV) on deep convective clouds incurs positive radiative forcing
  • AIV also leads to enhanced regional convergence, and a strong thermodynamic forcing
  • Wind shear and cloud base T determine significance of aerosol invigoration effect
Jiwen Fan Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington, USA
Daniel Rosenfeld Institute of Earth Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Yanni Ding Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA
L. Ruby Leung Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington, USA
Zhanqing Li Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA

Abstract:

Aerosol indirect effects, i.e., the interactions of aerosols with clouds by serving as cloud condensation nuclei or ice nuclei constitute the largest uncertainty in climate forcing and projection. Previous IPCC reported negative aerosol indirect forcing, which does not account for aerosol-convective cloud interactions because the complex processes involved are poorly understood and represented in climate models. Here we elucidated how aerosols change convective intensity, diabatic heating, and regional circulation under different environmental conditions. We found that aerosol indirect effect on deep convective cloud systems could lead to enhanced regional convergence and a strong top-of-atmosphere warming. Aerosol invigoration effect occurs mainly in warmed-based convection with weak shear. This could result in a strong radiative warming in the atmosphere (up to +5.6 W m−2), a lofted latent heating, and a reduced diurnal temperature difference, all of which could potentially impact regional circulation and modify weather systems. The positive aerosol radiative forcing on deep clouds could offset the negative aerosol radiative forcing on low clouds to an unknown extent.

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85 thoughts on “Pollution enhanced thunderstorms warm the planet?

  1. Anthony wonders how this got published.

    “Pollution is warming the atmosphere…”

    That’s a sufficient qualification for publication in the MSM, and, sadly, some peer reviewed journals too.

    This global bandwagon is destroying the planet I tell you!

  2. “The heat source at the base of the atmosphere (at the surface) is the absorption of sunlight by the surface of the Earth. That transfers heat to the lower atmosphere by conduction. Heat is then transported upwards by convection, which is done by clouds (cumulus for example) and especially thunderstorms.”

    It’s not conduction – it’s all convection. The non-radiative heat transfer from the surface to the atmosphere is convection. Stop the air bulk movement and this flux is practically stopped. Still air is a very fine insulator.

    REPLY: There’s some conduction, a small amount, but yes, mostly convection. Updated the description – Anthony

  3. “…Previous work showed that when it’s not too windy, pollution leads to bigger clouds . This occurs because more pollution particles divide up the available water for droplets, leading to a higher number of smaller droplets that are too small to rain. Instead of raining, the small droplets ride the updrafts higher, where they freeze and absorb more water vapor. Collectively, these events lead to bigger, more vigorous convective clouds that live longer.”

    Sorry, but this paragraph make *NO* sense at all! I’ll bet all that ‘previous work’ was model simulations as well. Rain, from what I understand, is caused by all those smaller droplets ‘too small to rain’ collide & make bigger drops which eventually fall as rain, depending on the speed of the updraft. However, it looks as if they are trying to make the case that the bigger the cloud, the less rain will fall from it & will just stay suspended in the anvil area. Then there is this doosie – the small droplets “…freeze and absorb more water vapor”. What in the world are they talking about?!?!?

    Jeff

  4. I’m trying to work out how people can present these papers without a deep sense of embarrassment. Perhaps they can’t. Perhaps that’s the heat increase they feel and go on about. You know – facial warming.

  5. Don’t forget about the heat transfer associated with the phase change of water.

  6. There is an interesting way to test this theory. I have the HRIR (High Resolution Infrared Radiometer) data from Nimbus II. Stack that up against the latest comparable data from Terra or Aqua and lets see if it holds water.

    In the HRIR data the tops of the clouds in the monsoon regions went below the calibrated temperature of 210 kelvin in the data….

  7. I have to suggest that a lot of what they said made sense. Unfortunately, they put a warmist spin onto it. In fact they said several things that are pretty reasonable:

    “the larger anvils both warmed more — by trapping more heat — and cooled more — by reflecting additional sunlight back to space”>>>>>>>>>>>

    If all we’re discussing is the effects of a larger anvil verus a smaller one, that statement is likely accurate.

    “The springtime frontal clouds did not have a similarly significant warming effect. Also, increasing the wind speed in the summer clouds dampened the invigoration by aerosols and led to less warming.”>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Again, not unexpected.

    Now…. here’ the real flaw in the paper. They attribute the larger anvils to aerosols that “split up” the available water vapour, resulting in larger numbers of droplets before they get large enough to rain. I’m not sure that explanation holds water frankly, but let’s suppose for a moment that they’re right. What did they miss?

    They missed the use cases where there were insufficient particles in the atmosphere to cause rain under normal circumstances, in which case the aerosols wouls promoted rain where it otherwise would not have occurred.

  8. “…something that goes on every day in the ITZC…”

    Should be ITCZ

    REPLY:
    Fat fingered typist, fixed – Anthony

  9. Interesting. While this suggests a source of anthropogenic warming, it wouldn’t be CO2 related. I wonder if that is problematic to the conventional wisdom (so to speak) as it would logically undercut the importance of CO2.

  10. I would like to invite the authors to spend a few days storm chasing on the eastern plains of Colorado. Sitting in the car for hours sweltering in the afternoon heat watching the storm cells try to break through the convective cap, then after the thunderstorm finally develops, watching in awe as the cloud rockets up ward at over 200 mph. The stom building so fast you literally have to progressively tilt your head back to watch the top of the convective column rise. The after an inch or two of 40 deg F rain falls, standing beside the car at sun set, shivering in the chill of a cool 60 degree breeze and watch the ground fog drift across the soaked farm fields, and the spectacular sun sets as the thunder storm melts away and cruises off to the east to repeat that refrigeration cycle.

    These storms lift cubic kilometers of hot moist air to high enough altitude for the moisture to not only condense to liquid water but to freeze out as ice crystals. Both the water droplets and ice crystals liberating huge amounts of latent heat as the phase change occurs. This air now warmed by the liberated heat rises to 60,000+ ft elevations where it can radiate enormous amounts of heat energy directly to space. Some of the up drafts are so vigorous that they form “over shooting tops” as the updraft punches up through the tropopause and pushes into the stratosphere only to sink back down below the tropopause after it radiates away its heat energy into the -30 to -50 deg F air above it.

    Sometimes the cooling is so strong that the storm will lay down a layer of hail inches to feet deep that takes days to fully melt.

    I bet their model completely ignores this energy transfer and loss and only considers IR radiation as if no direct cooling due to rain, or hail occurs, or direct IR radiation from the latent heat released in the cloud tops occurred, but only considers the albedo of the cloud to local sun shine..

    These guys need to get out more. They probably live in a climate where the rain is warm as bath water. In strong thunderstorms the air temperature (and the rain) drops in temperature to the local dew point. In the high plains that can be a drop from the mid to high 80 deg F range into the low 60-50 deg F range in a matter of minutes. Just how much power does it take to chill a few hundred cubic kilometers of moist air by 30+ deg F in minutes?

    Larry

  11. I don’t see anything about the aerosol composition/type that will be forcing the increase in anvil size, so is there any reason to think that quantity of the aerosol will increase will correspond in any to the increase in CO2? If not, is there any reason this should be relevant to AGW?

    And if the effect is as big as they imply, how about an experiment to measure it in the field?

  12. Ally – “I’m trying to work out how people can present these papers without a deep sense of embarrassment”. The embarrassment is offset by the sure knowledge that they have funding guaranteed for the next 10 years while they sit in darkened rooms playing computer simulation games. Great job if you can get it. When will someone pull that computer plug and kick these academic masturbators out into the real world to do some real science?

  13. Not my area of specialty but two things come immediately to mind. One, cloud and therefor storm formation is heat driven and as I recall condensation releases energy gained when water vapor is created. Two, a few degrees C change locally is not general warming or cooling. Are we counting angles again? This just sounds like a masturbation activity with the usual discredited models.

  14. The positive aerosol radiative forcing on deep clouds could offset the negative aerosol radiative forcing on low clouds to an unknown extent.
    =======
    You can word that anyway you want……it’s non-sense

    The negative aerosol radiative forcing on shallow clouds could offset the positive aerosol radiative forcing on deep clouds to an unknown extent….

    The sex life of the bifurcated hummingbird could offset milk production in Jersey’s to an unknown extent…………..

  15. I have to admit to not knowing all that much about science but this statement really leaves me cold:
    “The positive aerosol radiative forcing on deep clouds could offset the negative aerosol radiative forcing on low clouds to an unknown extent.”
    Now I have to admit to mangling the English language myself but there’s no denying that that is a poorly constructed statement. But even if it wasn’t poorly constructed it still sounds stupid. Obviously they don’t know how positive the radiative forcing is. Or maybe they do, they just don’t know how negative the radiative forcing is. Or maybe they don’t know either. Nonetheless they go ahead and say that the positive forcing ‘could’ offset the negative. But then could it not? Of course. But while these ‘educated’ people are no masters of English they were clever enough to sufficiently imply a positive feedback (as all feedbacks must be) on something they pretty much don’t have a clue. And they were clever enough to use the weak wiggly word; ‘could’.

  16. Russ in Houston, I think that’s the greatest heat transfer mechanism of all. Water evaporates, absorbing the laten heat of evaporation; it then rises and when it get sufficiently cold at altitude, it releases it’s latent heat and falls down as water or ice, to repeat the process.

  17. This, and 99% of other environut pronouncements, remind of the that Shyamalan ‘B’ flick; “The Happening” from 2008. Waaaaay too many people think that kind of apocalyptic nonsense is plausible and this fits in that genre. Unfortunately it is perpetuated by constant doom and gloom from nearly every media talking head and idiots with agenda’s. Many of whom ‘occupy’ influential positions in national governments and various international organizations from the UN on down.

    Rational behavior in today’s world is out the window.

  18. Of course, in (annual and global) average, the evaporative transfer (moist convection) is the predominant heat transfer mode at the surface/atmosphere interface.

  19. Ally E. says:
    May 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm
    I’m trying to work out how people can present these papers without a deep sense of embarrassment. Perhaps they can’t. Perhaps that’s the heat increase they feel and go on about. You know – facial warming.

    I’ve been thinking along similar lines Ally.

    Back when I was younger we used to believe that part of getting workers enthused was structuring the work so people felt their work was challenging and that people felt their efforts were appreciated and contributed to success.

    Instead we have been observing a parade of papers that seriously challenge this enthused worker concept. One wonders just how all of these research scientists (cough cough, gag, heave, projectile expel my lunch, ow that was not a pleasant use of the words “research scientists”) manage to go home every day believing they truly earned their wages. Surely these folks are surrounded by other scientists who are not bemused or deluded and definitively know that these atmospheric perps are classic buck naked emperors.

    Normally a pyramid scheme only benefits the first couple of layers of investors. With the first CAGW investors getting more strident as they struggle to continue their contributions against science; just what do new entrants into the CAGW pyramid expect? We joke about all CAGW researchers have to do is add some sentences about proving some aspect of mans contributions to CAGW disasters and the moola and honors just roll in. But surely there are limits to making this claim… Are there not?

    The CAGW papers aiming for IPCC AR- climate septic repository history that we’ve had glimpses of the last few weeks causes me to think we’re past the limit. Claims have moved beyond outrageous and in some cases well into just plain absurdly synthetic. No wonder Manny boy ran away from a PBS interview given that Roger Sowell was available to provide accurate insights.

    So the polluted thunder deity abstract is composed of twisted logic hidden in gerrymandered wording and comes across as some sort of perpetual motion machine. Just why would a thunderstorm ever cease existance in China? And where is all of that heat hiding? Or are these forcing factors now responsible for part of human caused climate heat disasters? Just what part of the fraction of a degree are they staking their claim on? In ten years are they going to claim they helped prevent the ice age?

  20. “The data from China were gathered under a bilateral agreement with the China Ministry of Sciences and Technology.”

    There seems to be a strong Chinese connection. I wonder if the research has some remote connection to this:

    “China will begin four regional programs to artificially increase precipitation across the country before 2015, according to the newly released 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for meteorological development.

    “Each year, an average of 3 trillion cubic meters of water passes over China in clouds, and only 20 percent of it falls to the ground, according to the China Meteorological Administration (CMA).

    “Currently, 50 billion cubic meters of rain and snow are gained annually in artificial precipitation, but the volume could reach 280 billion cubic meters if more effective weather intervention measures are taken, according to the CMA.

    “Zheng said the programs can play an important role in guaranteeing the nation’s plan to boost the annual grain yield to 550 million tons by 2020 – that target was exceeded this year with a record 571 million tons.

    “A national weather intervention command center will also be established before 2015, according to the plan. ”

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2011-12/09/content_14236576.htm

    The Beijing Weather Modification Office has already been dealing with a ten year drought in North-East China by cloud seeding using silver iodide aerosols. I wonder if they also use dry ice!

  21. Reading the above article it looks to me as if its “models all the way down” all over again.

  22. It is a known fact that cloudy nights are usually warmer than clear nights. Clouds are not transparent to infrared so they trap it and re-radiate back. And they also radiate their own heat.
    On the other hand, during day I’d say they’d have quite strong cooling effect by reflecting visible sunlight back into space without giving it a chance to convert to infrared.

    Another important (but not so well known) effect is that clouds in general warm up the atmosphere. Water vapor condensating to water droplets releases all of the heat which was stored to it during vaporisation. This generates strong convection which is keeping the cloud up in the sky, but it also heats up the air. And the more clouds, the more of such heating. But that’s not actual warming because it’s releasing heat which was trapped elsewhere (to create the vapor). So it counts as increased heat transport but not as any additional heat.

  23. Yet another “Given these conclusions what assumptions can we draw?” paper.

    Or perhaps, updated to modern technology: “Given these conclusions what model can we draw?”…

  24. I think Larry Ledwick (hotrod) is on to something. Being in the Texas Panhandle, I see similar forces at work. I’ve long bought the pollution induced thunderstorms, but summer storms of any type ( to my admittedly limited knowledge) tend to die off once solar heating goes away. This study assumes the anvils last throughout the night. My personal experience (again, limited globalwide) says that the anvils are gone by nightfall. There would be a large dissipation of low level energy through the thunderstorm mechanism, then once it’s done, it’s done. No anvils at night to trap any heat. Again, personal experience YMMV.

  25. These guys are what’s left of the AGW science movement….stragglers. It’s wonderfully anticlimactic.

    Heat is not even a minor motivation for dealing with air pollution, Everyone knows pollution is not good for health reasons. That’s why we have the Clean Air Act in the US. We’re already doing our part.

    Cutting edge (young) Environmentalists are now running toward the new “hot field” of “sustainability”. My son is taking an intercession course this summer as part of his engineering program. It’s sustainable engineering practices. The text has a few scattered references to climate change, but appears primarily focused on efficiency (in materials and energy).

    If sustainablility is about the most efficient use of energy and materials, I am all for it.

    I doubt that the UN will find a way to tax us all based on some sustainability index, and so I am encouraging my son to learn what he can about it..

  26. I see several flaws in this, but the main one, is that if aerosols are seeding smaller droplets (and its generally accepted that in some cases this occurs, but not in other circumstances) and impeding precipitation that would otherwise occur, then the hydrological cycle is slowed, because water that would otherwise fall as rain and be available for evaporation again, stays in the cloud.

    Many, myself included, think the hydrological cycle controls the climate. Slowing the evaporation/precipitation cycle will result in less heat transport upward in the troposphere and less heat loss to space, warming the climate.

    I suspect this is the primary effect and radiative effects are secondary, but in mainstream climate science, radiative effects are always primary. So says the dogma (aka theory) and the models.

    Formation of these ‘anvil’ clouds requires both surface heating and sufficient water vapour in the column of air above the ground. Absent the second, no matter how hot the surface gets, you will have a cloudless sky.

  27. “The positive aerosol radiative forcing on deep clouds could offset the negative aerosol radiative forcing on low clouds to an unknown extent.”

    Help me with this scientific proposition, please, I am struggling with it mightily. English is (obviously) not my mother tongue, so when poetry is involved I may miss the finer details. Therefore in cases like this I can’t help but resort to strict logical analysis.

    First let’s take the structurally much simpler proposition “The positive aerosol radiative forcing on deep clouds offsets the negative aerosol radiative forcing on low clouds to an unknown extent.”

    It has the logical form of “(positive) A offsets (negative) B to extent X” which is logically equivalent to the proposition “A + B = X”. Translating it back to plain English by substituting the descriptions above to variables yields “The sum of aerosol radiative forcing on deep and low clouds is unknown.” Honest enough.

    Now back to the issue of “could”. What is its role as a modifier in the sentence above?

    The logical form we are dealing with is “(positive) A could offset (negative) B to extent X” now. Is it fair to transform it like (it is possible that) {(positive) A offsets (negative) B to extent X}”? If so, we clearly get (it is possible that) {A + B = X}”, that is, applying the same substitutions “It is possible that the sum of aerosol radiative forcing on deep and low clouds is unknown.”

    In alethic modal logic the proposition “It is possible that M” is understood as “M is true in at least one world accessible to our own”.

    With this we get “The sum of aerosol radiative forcing on deep and low clouds is unknown in at least one possible world given the facts of our own.” It may well be the case that this stuff is in fact unknown in our world, but since it is a widely held stance that the accessibility relation is reflexive, there would be no justification whatsoever for using the modifier “could” in the original sentence. Therefore the author may allow for the possibility that “The sum of aerosol radiative forcing on deep and low clouds is in fact known in our world, but there is another world accessible to it where it is not.”

    However, at this point it gets complicated beyond comprehension for me and my mind simply melts down. Could any of you kindly help me out?

  28. I was under the impression that the anvil heads were horizontal sheer at a particular altitude.
    JKrob says: May 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    “…Previous work showed that when it’s not too windy, [...]Collectively, these events lead to bigger, more vigorous convective clouds that live longer.”

    Sorry, but this paragraph make *NO* sense at all! [...] Then there is this doosie – the small droplets “…freeze and absorb more water vapor”. What in the world are they talking about?!?!?

    Jeff

    I agree with you Jeff. As regards your last question, I’m not sure what they are talking about, but we call it hail. Seriously, hail is just droplets that get swept up until they freeze and then grow to gain enough mass to overcome the updraft and fall as hail. Some hail is clear high-density ice, other is granular low-density ice, and often a combination of the two.

  29. My first thought was that I could see high cloud cover having an insulating effect at night, and a solar-reflective inpact in the day. So, a net cooling in daytime, a net warming at night.
    However, if we assume the same ammount of cloud cover, would’t we have to assume that every square meter of cloud is receiving as much electromangetic energy from the earth at night as it does from the sun in the daytime? Yet, the energy density per square meter of sunlight is far higher than earth’s nighttime IR.

    Also, what time of day do most thunderstorms occur? Afternoon, which is daylight.
    Also, hasn’t it been shown that cloud cover in general gives us net cooling?

    Seems to me that the net effect would be opposite of what they are claiming.

  30. I have a little puzzel that may be related.
    Tarawa is an atoll in the central Pacific Ocean, part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. At the moment it has a few minutes more than 12 hours of sunlight per day. It is about as close as you can get to being part of the equatorial ocean, and not get wet.
    This is the (predicted) hourly temperature;

    http://www.timeanddate.com/weather/kiribati/tarawa/hourly?hd=w

    and the weekly temperature cycle;

    http://www.timeanddate.com/weather/kiribati/tarawa/hourly

    Can anyone explain when the temperature drops at sunset, then rebounds?

  31. I have to agree with Keith Pearson and Larry Ledwick. The Summer afternoon thunderstorms form around 2:00 pm and dump on us somewhere around 4:00 pm. Yes you get clouds at night but they aren’t the massive convective thunderhead clouds that form in the Southeast on many a summer afternoon.

    Do these guys even know there are different types of clouds? It doesn’t sound like it if they think thunderhead clouds make though the night very often.

    Even when you do get thunderstorms in the late summer evenings it will knock 10 degrees F at least off the temperature very quickly. I only remember clouds “warming” the evening in the winter when the temperatures are around freezing.

  32. Hey, it’s unusual in my opinion that a warmest based work actually addresses the idea that night exists at all.

  33. I suspect what is being conveniently missed here is the contribution of condensed water and condensing water to the radiant energy escaping from the upper atmosphere to outer space. As far as I know, there has been no attempt to run experiments on condensing water vapor to see if the electrically driven molecule to molecule condensation of two water molecules do not have a tendency to produce photons much the same as two magnets can come together with a ‘click.’

    Granted, this would not be an easy experiment to do as it would require a continuous condensation chamber, and sensors in a cooled environment so that they could detect this radiation. I assume this has not been done as I find no mention of this possibility in standard texts.

    All that heat being released by condensation must go somewhere. As radiant energy, at least half of it should be making it to outer space. MODTRAN, which I believed to be modeled on a typical atmospheric profile, shows progressively increasing outgoing radiation with altitude such that, in clear air, about 4/5 of the outgoing radiation actually originates in the atmosphere. Mysteriously, there are no water vapor absorption bands, only the solitary CO2 ‘hole’ in the middle of the band and a minor ozone ‘hole’ on the upper fringe.

    Outgoing radiation is what you have left after you subtract the back-radiation,seen looking up, from the upward-radiation, seen looking down, at any level.

  34. “…Heat is then transported upwards by convection, which is done by clouds (cumulus for example) and especially thunderstorms.”

    Convection will take place with or without clouds. Clouds will transfer more heat, if there’s enough water vapor present.

  35. Larry Ledwick has described what I love best about crossing western Kansas and eastern Colorado in the summer. And when you get to be in these phenomenal thunderstorms, you see how much the temperature drops. I also have not seen these anvils last a really long time–they seem to do their job and dissipate when they are done. But really, this study lost me when they discussed “methodological studies”. I assume those are modeling studies. So did anything really happen in real life?

  36. As Larry Ledwick says, have these people ever experienced a bad thunderstorm? Whether on land or at sea when one arrives it turns a hot day into a very chilly event. A big dump of hail into a tropical garden can freeze solid and take so long to melt that it kills the plants. Likewise on deck it can block your scuppers and freeze solid, making life cold and miserable for hours after.

    Bad thunderstorms don’t always include hail but they are always cold.

  37. Oh Boy…. This is what happens when common sense is replaced with nonsense and is actually taken seriously.

    Lindzen & Choi, Spencer & Braswell, Svensmark and Allan’s papers all show clouds have NET negative feedback effect on Earth’s climate.

    Dr. Allan’s paper published last year calculates clouds have a NET feedback of -21 watts/M^2, which is huge.

    This paper is just another example of climate model parameters being manipulated to make the computer generated line go from lower left to upper right. Complete GIGO.

    I forgot what statistician said this, but he said, “Given four parameters, I can make a line look like an elephant. With five, I can make his trunk wiggle.”.

    And so it goes…..until it doesn’t…..

  38. Dennis Nikols, P. Geo. says:
    May 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Not my area of specialty but two things come immediately to mind. One, cloud and therefor storm formation is heat driven and as I recall condensation releases energy gained when water vapor is created. Two, a few degrees C change locally is not general warming or cooling. Are we counting angles again?

    Or angling for angels? With logic hooks? ;)

    Spector says:
    May 18, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    I suspect what is being conveniently missed here is the contribution of condensed water and condensing water to the radiant energy escaping from the upper atmosphere to outer space.

    At last, someone mentions this. Those huge anvil heads are ideal and potent radiators. Their insulating effect is trivial by comparison, because they are being powered by massive condensation/freezing latent heat transfer.

  39. Larry Ledwick (Hotrod)’s description of what happens in a decent-sized thunderstorm really says it all about the major method of upward heat transference and heat loss to space in the hotter, more humid parts of the world.

    You only have to struggle through a November morning’s fieldwork in northern tropical Australia to experience this first hand. You spend half the morning under burning sunshine, sweltering in 38 degree heat and intolerable humidity, wishing you had asbestos gloves to handle rock samples and tools. Then the thunderheads start building, so rapidly that the chopper gets grounded back at the fuel dump, leaving you stuck out in the open somewhere north of Wolf Creek. And then it drops on you: thunder, lightning, freezing rain and large hail, for fifteen or twenty minutes, with nowhere to go and nothing to hide under that is over eight inches high. At the end of which you find yourself standing ankle deep in ice, soaked to the skin and shivering half to death, in exactly the same landscape that was unsurvivably hot barely an hour before.

    It is very impressive when experienced at first hand. All that heat goes up and away in a very short space of time, and what comes back down to the surface in its place is very cold indeed. The transfer medium is water vapour, the upward transport mechanism is convection, and the heat exchange mechanisms at the top of the system is the phase change from water vapour to liquid water and then from liquid water to ice. After which the (cold) water/ice comes back down on your head, whilst the heat goes on up.

    It is the water in the system that carries the enormous upward transfer of energy, as latent heat, and its phase changes at the top of the storm that liberate it at high altitude. It is an incredibly efficient, rapid mechanism for cooling the earth’s surface, and it only works in one direction.

    And once that energy is liberated at the top of the storm, as radiant heat, this can warm the colder air there and make it convect upwards, or it can radiate straight on up into space, but it cannot radiate back down to the surface, because there is a big white cloud underneath it that will simply absorb a bit of the radiation and reflect the rest back up.

    In the tropics the temperature is regulated by such systems for much of the year, and they seem to be a very effective thermostat, which is why Jakarta, Singapore, Bangkok and Darwin in summer, have such a monotonously appalling climates and are such horrible places to have to cross the street in a tie and a suit: “31C and 79% humidity again.. yuk!”

    But I think it probably is the incredibly powerful thunderstorm system that moderates global temperature, dominating climate where most of the sun’s heat comes in, at the tropics. And the only thing that might really be able to upset this temperature regulation mechanism, would be something that directly affected the rate or efficiency of the phase change from water vapour to liquid water (and thence to ice). In which case pollutive aerosols might have an important role, and Svensmark’s mechanisms might have a very important role indeed.

    Besides which, you really can’t beat a good thunderstorm for pure entertainment!

  40. The claim seems to be basically: during all stages of the storm’s life cycle, there is a heating “greenhouse” effect due to IR, but the IR dominated tops outlive the storms they originate from, thus time integrated effect will be dominantly in IR. Well maybe, but I think that one needs extensive observational data to verify that hypothesis. Models aren’t really cut out for this.

  41. A question for the cloud experts here. Clearly cloudy nights tend to be warmer than clear nights. It seems to be accepted here that the clouds are causing the low level warmth (through back radiation or some other means.) I had always thought that low level moist air caused the clouds. Ie. when night fell and the suns heating went away the warm/moist air that was high enough to be close to condensing during the day actually condensed. This then created coulds or made existing clouds thicker.

    So is it the low level/moist air which causes the clouds or the clouds which cause warmth at low levels?

    Seriously this is a real question.

  42. Adendum to previous question. The discription of the thunderstorms is that warm moist air rises, the moisture condenses and the clouds form. So the warm moist starts the process. It seems like it is the electric car with the fan (perpetual motion) to say the the warmth is caused by the cloud which creates the updraft to create the cloud.

  43. The most obvious question to ask of this paper is “what validation & verification has been performed on the model?”. How do they know that what they see in the model is an accurate representation of what happens in the real world?

    I assume that they must have lots of observational data relating to real thunderstorms, and that they have measurements of “pollution” (whatever that is) in the air associated with these storms, plus measurements of the radiation associated with these storms, both by day and by night. How well does their model relate to this data?

    If their model verifies and validates well, then surely there is no need for them to have the statement about the “unknown extent” of the “positive aerosol radiative forcing” caused in these thunderstorms. They would know for sure.

    Of course, if their model does not verify & validate (or none has been done…), then all we have here is yet another interesting hypothesis to put on the pile with all the other glittering baubles.

  44. DocMartyn says:
    May 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    “I have a little puzzle that may be related.”
    reply————————
    I think what you are seeing is a shift in wind direction and speed effects bringing in warmer air off of the lagoon which is slightly warmer? ( have you measured it?) than the open ocean and on shore / off shore direction shifts when a slow wind is out of the west at night it stabilizes to the lagoon temps, when out of the North, South or East it is set by the temp of the open ocean.
    I think the sunset drop then pop back up is due to the dieing of the thermal driven on shore breeze.
    Looking at the corresponding wind directions and speeds as well as large storm systems just off shore will solve you little puzzle.

  45. Using common sense in an attempt to discredit a paper in Geophysical Research Letters is one thing. Formally stating issues with the research in the form of a rebuttal paper on how their methods are flawed is another. Offering an alternative explanation is also another matter.

  46. Along with the several objections above, my main objection in the reporting is that these scientists are said to have shown results that are treated as facts or data. It bears repeating: models cannot generate facts, and their results are not data in the sense that real world measurements provide data. Models generate calculations, which then might be compared against real world measurements as a test of the usefulness or truth-value of the models.

    Without comparing their model-generated results with real data, they have only created some specificity for their models, but no enlightenment for science in general.

    How hard would it have been to take some measurements of temps at various altitudes before, during, and after storms, including observing whether daytime storms produce substantial increased cloudiness at night? I guess they would have to get away from their computer consoles and make contact with the real world, and hey, they are climate scientists, so we cannot expect that.

  47. They are looking for a hook to hang all the problems of the world on. Once found they can call all those that disagree with them the nasty people. They can then say look at us were the nice guys, we are were doing something to save the world, not like those nasty people. There politics is a religion and like all religions they want to feel special and nice. This may fail but they will keep trying other ideas. Calling these fools scientists is an insult to science. Any paper that publishes this nonsense can never be called a scientific paper. none of these people are scientists they are religious zealots.

    They will never go away as humans need believe something.

    Just means that freedom of speech must be protect as it is the only thing that protects us from ourselves.

  48. While cloudy nights may seem warmer, once it begins to rain or snow, there is a powerful ground-level cooling effect, as that water is not subject to any direct adiabatic warming as it falls and later it will extract its heat of vaporization on return to the atmosphere.

    Note that the Svensmark theory is predicated on cooling caused by increased clouds in the atmosphere nurtured by cosmic radiation. I maintain that more clouds must signal an enhanced rate of convective cooling.

  49. “That transfers heat to the lower atmosphere by conduction (a small amount), and mostly be re-radiated Long Wave IR. Heat is then transported upwards by convection, which is done by clouds (cumulus for example) and especially thunderstorms. ”

    There’s one very important omission from that statement. A very significant amount heat is transfered from the surface by evaporation. This is stored as latent heat in the moist air mass that rises by convection. This is greater than the sensible heat (temperature related heat) that also rises with convection.

    This heat is deposited at higher levels during precipitation.

    Models do not model the cloud formation and precipitation processes because they are not understood well enough to be modeled. It is guestimated by what is called “parameterisation” . This is the big fudge factor in climate science that everyone tries to ignore.

    It is precisely these “parameters” that give rise to the spurious x3 positive feedback. Roy Spencer has calculated that just 2% variation in cloud would be equivalent to the CO2 forcing we are all supposed to get hysterical over. Does anyone imagine that their crude parameters are within 2% of the true climate?

    Any paper basing its conclusion of such grossly incomplete modeling is equally spurious.

    Anthony, I suggest you correct that important omission in your introductory paragraph. Transport by latent heat is fundamental. This lack of understanding of cloud formation and precipitation is the key to the whole issue.

  50. Russ, Larry, Robert, Keith…

    That’s what I thought. Thirty years ago I learned that the reason Earth cannot succumb to a runaway greenhouse effect is that the latent heat of H2O is dumped high in the atmosphere to be largely radiated away. This was, in those days, reckoned to account for almost a quarter of all outgoing radiation. It has always worried me that the effect of warming on this major mechanism is never explicit in IPPC AR’s etc (inevitably, you’d think, a major negative feedback/buffer).

  51. Larry Ledwick (hotrod) says:
    May 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm
    I would like to invite the authors to spend a few days storm chasing on the eastern plains of Colorado. Sitting in the car for hours sweltering in the afternoon heat watching the storm cells try to break through the convective cap, then after the thunderstorm finally develops, watching in awe as the cloud rockets up ward at over 200 mph. The stom building so fast you literally have to progressively tilt your head back to watch the top of the convective column rise. The after an inch or two of 40 deg F rain falls, standing beside the car at sun set, shivering in the chill of a cool 60 degree breeze and watch the ground fog drift across the soaked farm fields, and the spectacular sun sets as the thunder storm melts away and cruises off to the east to repeat that refrigeration cycle.

    These storms lift cubic kilometers of hot moist air to high enough altitude for the moisture to not only condense to liquid water but to freeze out as ice crystals. Both the water droplets and ice crystals liberating huge amounts of latent heat as the phase change occurs. This air now warmed by the liberated heat rises to 60,000+ ft elevations where it can radiate enormous amounts of heat energy directly to space. Some of the up drafts are so vigorous that they form “over shooting tops” as the updraft punches up through the tropopause and pushes into the stratosphere only to sink back down below the tropopause after it radiates away its heat energy into the -30 to -50 deg F air above it.

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

    And others who’ve described the WATER CYCLE – this, as I’ve been trying to point out, IS MISSING from the AGWScienceFiction comic cartoon energy budget…

    The WATER CYCLE cools the earth from the 67°C it would be without water but with the real gas atmosphere of mostly nitrogen and oxygen. The AGWSF “greenhouse gas warming from minus 18°C to 15°C – doesn’t exist – it is a sleight of hand. It misses out the Water Cycle.

    They don’t have it. Because they don’t have convection. They don’t know how it works. Because, they have a different atmosphere. Actually, really, they have empty space where we, in the real world, have a heavy ocean of fluid gas. This real gas has volume, weight, attraction. All this is missing from the AGW energy budget.

    They have radiation in empty space with ideal gas molecules not real molecules. Doesn’t anyone here apart from me know the difference? So their descriptions of ideal gas molecules as in an empty space container – diffusing spontaneously and mixing thoroughly because they are non-existent hard dots bouncing off each other, not real molecules. Real and Ideal are technical terms. No real gas obeys the ideal gas law. The ideal gas is a fiction useful in calculations like average, it doesn’t actually exist. They use actual ideal gas descriptions and apply this to real gases. Ideal gases don’t have volume, so their atmosphere has empty space instead of the volume of fluid real gas above us.

    Ideal gas doesn’t have weight, so is not subject to gravity, so their ideal gas molecules can’t separate out without work being done – the complete opposite of real molecules in the real world – real gas molecules separate out. Carbon dioxide is heavier than nitrogen and oxygen and without work being done will naturally sink displacing these to come to ground, lumpy – they instead have ideal gas carbon dioxide molecules which spontaneously diffuse into their atmosphere and bounce off their other ideal gas molecules of oxgen and nitrogen and so get thoroughly mixed and, so, their claim that carbon dioxide accumulates for hundreds and thousands of years – it has no way of out of their imaginary empty space in a container where only radiation rules . They can’t explain evaporation in their empty space ideal gas molecule atmosphere.., so they say their gases aren’t buoyant in air. That’s why they don’t have convection – they have an empty space atmosphere of imaginary ideal gas dots zooming around at great speeds in a container.

    Their gases don’t have volume, their atmosphere is actual empty space – they have no sound, they can’t hear this… Put in lots of exclamation marks.

    Their ideal gas molecules don’t have attraction, so they can’t have carbon dioxide and water vapour attracting, they have no rain; in the real world of real gases with real attraction we have rain which is water and carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, as in fog, dew – because real gases have attraction. Real gas carbon dioxide can’t accumulate in the atmosphere, it either comes down displacing air because heavier, subject to gravity, or comes down in the water cycle – it’s a cycle.

    Surely there has to be someone on this top science blog who can understand what I’m saying?

    For pity’s sake. Look at their AGW comic cartoon. It isn’t a picture of the real world. Their fisics is fake. FAKE.

    All of it.

    FAKE.

    Seriously considering banging head against brick wall.

    Not mine.

    Joke.

    And, they’ve excluded the real heat direct from the Sun – they’ve taken out the direct thermal infrared from the Sun which actuall we feel as heat because this is what warms us up…

    They’ve given the property of thermal infrared to their comic cartoon shortwave, Light, not Heat, from the Sun heats up their imaginary fictional Earth.

    What does it take to get reality back into these arguments?

  52. Complete rubbish. Cb clouds cool the surface given the large mass of water vapour evapourated from the surface with the latent heat required for this simple operation. This latent heat is released at height where it can escape to space

  53. otter17~ If common sense is all it takes to discredit a peer-reviewed paper, then it wasn’t a very well done paper to begin with, was it?

  54. otter17 says:
    May 18, 2012 at 11:43 pm
    Using common sense in an attempt to discredit a paper in Geophysical Research Letters is one thing. Formally stating issues with the research in the form of a rebuttal paper on how their methods are flawed is another. Offering an alternative explanation is also another matter.

    Uh, No!

    Outside of more emails getting leaked that demonstrate how the peer review process has been hijacked and controlled through pal review, absurd notions that are published as peer reviewed papers are the clearest evidence that the whole scam of published peer reviewed papers obstruct science, not advance it.

    Every one of these pal reviewed and buddy back slap papers advances the idea that publishing papers into science oriented blogs is now the truest method for rigorous science. Of course, this only works for those blogs that DO NOT borehole honest critiques, like WUWT.

    It also will be eventually worthwhile to track IP sources in order to identify the professional and amateur trolls. Not necessarily to muzzle them, but to identify them so when troll try to bait or baffle folks will know not to pay attention to them (Don’t feed the trolls!).

    When common sense is unable to winnow out the real ideas or research in a paper, that is strong evidence that the paper should not have been published. Typos are understood in that all ten fingers (or just two-four fingers plus a thumb in the case of most white collar and self educated typists), often hit the wrong key. I have always been a computer rather than a professional typist. I may be able to type thirty-forty words a minute, but I’ve used backspace often in those forty words.

    Weasel words in a published paper (would could might maybe and many more caveat empowering words) indicate areas where research is inconclusive. When research is indecisive, it means scientific method was not rigorously applied nor that project properly managed. In clim-sci, in comes across as a wail for more money, more conferences and trips and more demands on honest worker types for support.

    By these methods, papers in any of published journals need no official paper published to rebut or otherwise correct them. The papers themselves have already discredited themselves. As went Scientific American, National Geographic so goes so many formerly trusted and revered publications. I used to keep every copy, now I won’t subscribe and when some fool thinks we need a “gift subscription’ I donate the mags to local kindergartens and playgroups for the kids to cut the pictures out.

    One does wonder just what an editor in such publications thinks their job is supposed to be. Indecisive, unclear, twisted or nonsensical writings should never be acceptable, let alone ensuring the science illustrated (elucidated) is correctly followed and results properly interpreted. When an editor had reservations about articles but was forced to publish, they often included their concerns/cautions in a foreword.

    All assumptions in a paper should be clearly stated. All code and formulas included. Publishing code and formulas is traditionally how initial ownership is identified; patenting worthwhile ideas or methods is the only other alternative. Keeping code or data or anything ‘secret’ is indication of false pretenses. Maybe Fermat really did have proof for his theorem, but no-one really believes Fermat was that good in math. Only Fermat believed it. Sure sounds like some of the more infamous climate scientistas… And their published peer/pal reviewed papers and secret data.

    When the trolls harangue commenters to peer review and publish their papers rebuttal or new, all involved here recognize that as troll speak in the climate crowd control process to obstruct rather than defend science. Let those researchers who are unable to write about real science in clear succinct fashion wither away as the borehole blogs that support them are withering. Their funding will wither away soon too.

  55. hotrod: That was a great description of thunderstorms. I could see, hear and feel them.

    These folks didn’t say what kind of “pollution.” Just aerosols. Do they mean sulfates or will any old, common, garden variety pollution do the trick? The whole thing seemed a tad vague, but if you have no specifics, no one can call you on them.

  56. Kasuha says:
    May 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    It is a known fact that cloudy nights are usually warmer than clear nights. Clouds are not transparent to infrared so they trap it and re-radiate back. And they also radiate their own heat.
    On the other hand, during day I’d say they’d have quite strong cooling effect by reflecting visible sunlight back into space without giving it a chance to convert to infrared.

    Another important (but not so well known) effect is that clouds in general warm up the atmosphere. Water vapor condensating to water droplets releases all of the heat which was stored to it during vaporisation. This generates strong convection which is keeping the cloud up in the sky, but it also heats up the air. And the more clouds, the more of such heating. But that’s not actual warming because it’s releasing heat which was trapped elsewhere (to create the vapor). So it counts as increased heat transport but not as any additional heat.

    Kashua – you have not read the paper or you are displaying your bias. The paper is about severe convective weather colloquially called thunder storms. Claiming that the top of the storms – their anvils heads – are prolonged by aerosols. As any observation will tell you a convective storm cools the surface sometimes by a considerable amount. Warm humid air rises and as it does the water vapor condenses giving up latent heat of condensation warming the air more which rises faster and as the lapse rate cools further the droplets freeze giving up latent heat of fusion warming the air again which rises faster thus transporting heat to the top of the troposphere. The vertical updrafts can be well in excess of 100 mph and in the tropics can reach heights of over 10 miles. The frozen water droplets eventually become too heavy and fall to the surface if they stay frozen they are called hail if they melt taking the latent heat from the atmosphere the large drops are heavy rain. This is why it is always cooler after a storm has passed.

    You are either deliberately or out of lack of knowledge confusing low stratus cloud with convective storms. I suggest you read some of the many primers on convective weather and thunderstorms available on the internet. You will find more heat is transported to the tropopause to be radiated to space by convection than by any other means.

  57. Instead of raining, the small droplets ride the updrafts higher, where they freeze and absorb more water vapor. Collectively, these events lead to bigger, more vigorous convective clouds that live longer.

    No, they lead to freezing rain, sleet, or hail, depending on the vigor of the updrafts, the freezing level, and the air temperature below the clouds.

  58. Erwinia Caratovora.These little creatures are in every cloud. They act as condensation nuclei. What makes them bloom? Are they part of this “pollution” mentioned as condensation nuclei? A major aspect of cloud formation is not included in their simulation.

    Simulation is simulation. Reality is reality. Never the twain shall meet.

  59. Anvils do persist for a long time, sometimes, but they’re thin, and I believe, mostly glaciated. The phase changing over their disspation period would absorb a certain amount of energy, rather then let it go off. There is some albedo effect, but I’m willing to bet that rather than albedo reflection, the insolar energy is largely what contributes to the phase change and dissipation. The contribution to ground temp would be cooling by retaining insolar heat at altitude, rather than warming. The heat exchange due to IR blankineting would be insignificant relative to the heat transfer than occurred during the active phase of the thunderstorm. The latter is energy neutral to the planet – just a redistrbution.
    Assuming (I know) that nucleation is necessary for rain and water droplet formation in cloud systems of all types, by the anvil phase, those aerosols are already sequestered. They may contribute to the speed and density of the convective event, but once anvilized, they’re done as a contributor to the heat event, other than any contribution they make in the density and dissipation rate of the anvil.

  60. Every time I’ve seen material on this subject, low clouds warm and high clouds cool. Thunder storms do have high clouds and views from space show a high albedo. If Sunlight can’t get to the surface, it can’t be converted to IR. Thus, if Sunlight is reflected, it HAS to COOL the Earth. This doesn’t even take into account heat transport via convection. This article has to be a crock of you-know-what.

  61. ‘They will also try to incorporate the invigoration effect in global climate models.”

    Gotta love it.

  62. The new, and contentious, aspect of this paper is the claim that anthropogenic pollutants may be providing more cloud condensation nuclei and therefore enabling the formation of bigger and longer lasting thunderclouds.

    The basic thermodynamics of a thunderstorm are established. They warm a vast volume of air by convective transport of water vapor causing cloud formation. You cannot condense that much water vapor without the thermal energy going somewhere. And while the clouds reflect sunlight, they are going to prevent very low nighttime temperatures reducing the diurnal variation.

  63. As a retired operational meteorologist (forecaster), I’d say that Larry Ledwick hit the nail on the head. Thunderstorms are the greatest cooling mechanism known.

  64. Summary
    Pollution causes lesscoolingmorecooling thunderstorms, lessmore rain, smallerbigger hail, and lessmore snow. But it always causes more money to be had. Always. This is actually one of the democratic party planks doncha know.

  65. izen says:
    May 19, 2012 at 8:42 am

    The new, and contentious, aspect of this paper is the claim that anthropogenic pollutants may be providing more cloud condensation nuclei and therefore enabling the formation of bigger and longer lasting thundercloud
    ========================
    You mean like the drought and dust storms of the 1930’s and 40’s…………

  66. “Pollution is warming the atmosphere through summer thunderstorm clouds, according to a computational study published May 10 in Geophysical Research Letters. How much the warming effect of these clouds offsets the cooling that other clouds provide is not yet clear. To find out, researchers need to incorporate this new-found warming into global climate models.”
    Folks, when I see “according to a computational study” and “new-found warming into global climate models” my BS meter is pegged and I know what I’m reading is garbage. Especially when there are no real world observations and data to verify their “simulations”.

    Jay Davis

  67. Larry Ledwick (hotrod) had a post on thunderstorms from the point of view of a storm chaser in Colorado. I think his post is quite an understatement.

    Steve Keohane is of the impression that anvil heads were caused by horizontal shear at altitude. That is what I have always been taught.

    LC Kirk, Perth speaks of the incredible power and violence of thunderstorms. He also says “Besides which, you really can’t beat a good thunderstorm for pure entertainment!”.

    I have been watching thunderstorms for over 50 years. They can be very good entertainment – I actually missed then while I was in college in the Los Angeles area.

    I have great doubts that they can be modeled with any reasonable degree of accuracy. Among the reasons for this are:
    A: There is great detail inside a storm, a storm a mile or two across can have internal features as small as a hundred feet. When a storm collapses, a phenomena called a microburst can send a downdraft with a diameter as small as 100 yards at a speed in excess of 200 miles per hour. I live in Tulsa Oklahoma and there have been two destructive microbursts within 3 miles of my home. They were first mistaken for tornadoes, but all the damage was from straight winds coming radially from a central point.
    B: The internal complexity can be illustrated by examination of a large hailstone. Break one in half and you can see a series of layers of ice. A 3 inch diameter hailstone may have over 50 layers. This makes me suspect that it had dropped down and then had been blown back up to accumulate another layer at least 50 times. I have not tried to calculate the wind velocity needed to take a 3 inch hailstone back up into the freezing zone and keep it there long enough to accumulate another layer, but the fact that it made many round trips indicates a very complex structure in the thunderstorm. The velocities that hailstones can reach is very high. Pilots are strongly advised to avoid thunderstorms. They are warned that there have been cases of hailstone strikes when the plane had several miles of clear air between it and the thunderstorm.
    C: There are several types of storms. Not all storms have a strong wind shear within reach to knock the top into an anvil shape. I suspect that those winds take a lot of energy out of the storm since I believe that storms with anvil heads dissipate more quickly than those without them. I am convinced that wind shear is responsible for the anvil top since I have seen only ones with a sharp, well defined anvil pointing in one direction.
    D: There are several causes for thunderstorms. Some come with weather fronts, but others form as isolated events. The latter seem to form in the early afternoon, build quickly, and dissipate fairly rapidly. They are also the ones which are most apt to have anvil tops. I suspect that the turbulence which comes with a weather front may inhibit the formation of anvil tops. The ones that form as isolated events have a good chance of repeating from day to day until the moisture they drop gets absorbed or spread around, or the temperature drops enough that the heat engine cannot get restarted.
    E: It is almost impossible to get instruments into a storm. I attended a seminar where a presentation was given by a pilot who had flown a specially armored, modified, and instrumented fighter jet into a thunderstorm. He wound up ejecting and claimed that he was caught in the storm for about 40 minutes after he ejected. I doubt that he ever did it again. I doubt that there are radars with the required resolution which can penetrate into the storm. Without being able to get data on the internals of a storm, I have no idea how you could refine or verify the model.

    Donald K. Mitchell

  68. Myrrh says @ May 19, 2012 at 2:49 am
    ….And others who’ve described the WATER CYCLE – this, as I’ve been trying to point out, IS MISSING from the AGWScienceFiction comic cartoon energy budget…….
    ============
    Yes Water is very much conspicuously absent. It is one of the things I first noticed.
    ============
    Myrrh says
    What does it take to get reality back into these arguments?
    ============
    “Science advances one funeral at a time.” ~ Max Planck

    In this case we need a whole heck of a lot of funerals. Unfortunately the young have been indoctrinated in the new religion from the day they set foot in school. This is not by accident but to make sure the next couple of generations stay brain washed so they do not mind being starved to death. Communitarianism aka sustainability, sacrifices the individual for the “common good”

  69. This is the first time researchers showed that pollution increased warming by enlarging thunderstorm clouds. The warming was surprisingly strong at the top of the atmosphere during the day when the storms occurred.

    So, there is no verification by way of observation, but if there is a surprisingly strong warming at the top of the atmosphere; and, in addition, there is the reflection of sunlight; and finally, since thunderstorms also dry the air, could they not also aid in opening a thermal IR window from the ground? Cooling mechanisms everywhere … it’s really time to design a real experiment

  70. Smokey, Donald Mitchell:

    This young German paraglider spent quite a long time hig up inside a massive thunderstorm out here in Australia:

    http://www.weatherimagery.com/blog/paraglider-caught-in-thunderstorm/

    There was a one-hour award winning ABC (Australian ABC) TV documentary made about her experience, which included quite a lot of her observational detail, and some interpretation and conclusions as to how she actually managed to survive the experience:

    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/geo/documentaries/interactive/miracles/

    Unfortunately the only part available on Youtube seems to be a 4 minute string of the more dramatised excerpts. The full length ABC doco has expired for download, but can be obtained from them. The detail of interest is in the commentary on the full length version.

  71. Gail Combs says:
    May 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm
    Myrrh says @ May 19, 2012 at 2:49 am
    ….And others who’ve described the WATER CYCLE – this, as I’ve been trying to point out, IS MISSING from the AGWScienceFiction comic cartoon energy budget…….
    ============
    Yes Water is very much conspicuously absent. It is one of the things I first noticed.
    ============
    Myrrh says
    What does it take to get reality back into these arguments?
    ============
    “Science advances one funeral at a time.” ~ Max Planck

    In this case we need a whole heck of a lot of funerals. Unfortunately the young have been indoctrinated in the new religion from the day they set foot in school. This is not by accident but to make sure the next couple of generations stay brain washed so they do not mind being starved to death. Communitarianism aka sustainability, sacrifices the individual for the “common good”

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

    Thank you Gail – I was beginning to feel a bit lonely… :)

    It’s been so frustrating reading arguments where they’ve been talking at cross-purposes, those with real world knowledge of water cycles and convection and so on simply assuming that the other side is using real basic physics and those without, using the fake fisics, totally unable to grasp the concepts because they don’t exist in their fiction.

    I’m actually quite impressed with the attention to detail in the tweaking of real physics to create this imaginary AGW warmist world…, someone had to know the basics very well indeed to juggle the elisions, swapping of properties, taking laws out of context and so on, and, the ‘experiments’ to prove the fictional fisics incorporating these magic tricks. Even using contradictory explanations, like the scent from a bottle wafting through the classroom explained by ideal gas in empty space spontaneous diffusion, and, by Brownian motion (which presupposes volume)..

    Ugh, I have to admit when I’m not trying to remain calm whenever I see the way this fictional fisics is being used to dumb down science education for the general population, it is an amusing world they’ve created through the looking glass with Al…

  72. Mann in Disneyland preferring to speak about unicorns, rather than answer questions, and then this. What a shame Walt is not around, he could make this an adventure into phantasy land.

    Regardless of their cause or intensity cummo nims suck heat off the ground and dump it at high altitude. I would be surprised actually amazed if any of the heat came back, the hottest part is that which gains the most altitude and dumps the most heat.

    If pollution is making these clouds bigger it is cooling us more.

  73. Wow. So they used real fluid dynamics coupled with real physics and real chemistry to look at the energy transfer in a cu-nim cell (or several). Ran it over 24 hours with real changes in solar irradiance. Clearly contrasted what difference anthropogenic aerosols have over biogenic aerosols? Sheesh, guess I’d better rethink my view of climate scientists, even though Cb are weather anyway and we all know weather isn’t climate.
    /sarc off

    Glad to hear Willis paper is published, I’ll wander off to have a read of some real science.

  74. Donald Mitchell says: May 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm
    I have a fondness for thunderstorms, and the front range and on east in Colorado have some spectacular storms. I was a storm spotter for twenty years over there, now I’m on the west of the divide, with much milder weather. I had the chance to see three storms that had tornadoes drop out of the clouds. Watching the dynamics of the turbulence is fascinating and awe inspiring.

    Smokey Thanks for the link about the Marine, what a trip that must have been!

    Larry Ledwick (hotrod) says: May 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm Great description Larry. I never chased storms, just spotted them for the NWS, from the foothills west of Loveland.Though having lived 11 years in Indiana, the three tornados I have seen were on Colorado’s prairies. I spent twenty years hiking around Crow Creek, north and east of Briggsdale, up toward Grover, Hereford and Keota. IIRC, the Pawnee Buttes are NE from Keota. If one hikes to the top of the elevated ground west of the Buttes, it is a fossilized sea shore, with the wave-rippled sand frozen in stone, strewn with water-rounded pebbles. It is awesome to stand on this ancient shore, several hundred feet above the nearly desert prairie.

  75. The bigger the thunderstorm, the more energy required – where does this energy come from? The ground in the form of heat. When the heat leaves the surface, then what happens? If this created more heat, then you have a perpetual motion situation you could exploit and also a runaway thunderstorm that would give even more energy for your your PMM

  76. “”””” Kasuha says:

    May 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    It is a known fact that cloudy nights are usually warmer than clear nights. “””””

    It’s also a known fact that the days preceding warmer cloudy nights, are even warmer still than the warm cloudy nights; suggesting that it is those warmer days, that CAUSE both the warmer nights and the clouds. Clouds or no clouds, warmer or not warmer, it is still a known fact that the night just before dawn is usually colder than it was immediately after sundown, suggesting that it still COOLS at night regradless of the clouds, or irregardless of the clouds, as the case may be.

    The clouds DO NOT “””””CAUSE””””” the warmer nights; the EVEN WARMER DAY before causes both the warm night, and the clouds . (by evaporating a lot of moisture during the day, which forms clouds once the temperature falls, either late in the afternoon or after sunset.) The Temperature NEVER goes up after sunset, UNLESS some external warm air mass moves into the area from some hotter place.

  77. So these Terra-computerists know that the bigger and denser the storm cloud anvil, the more sunlight it reflects back out into space during the daylight hours. Guess whether there are more big anvil thunderstorm clouds during the day, or during the night. Guess whether these bigger anvil dirtier storm clouds ABSORB more OR less INCOMING SOLAR SPECTRUM ENERGY FROM THE SUN, than the little tichy thunderhead clean storm clouds; and guess whether more solar energy absorption in those big dirty thunderclouds, causes warming of the earth surface or cooling of the earth surface.
    Do all the above simulations and calculators on a pocket abacus; or a soroban if you have one of those.

  78. I don’t get why JKrob doesn’t get it? Most well-educated readers who stumble here do. Stop pandering to those who don’t “get it” (by that, I mean your readers).

  79. george: about that whole daytime/nightime thing: try READING! We (scientists) understand that clouds are the single largest source of uncertainty in numerical simulations. It’s a straw man, douche bag.

  80. Science and scientific method are in a sorry state these days. When you have a a theory that replicates observations you can and should use that theory to predict phenomena not yet observed. At that point, you need to observe these new phenomena in the real world, by way of verification of the theory.

    Seems that these days, it is perfectly acceptable to publish the predictions of theory as absolute fact. Today everyone seems to forget the predictions are ( at this point ) just a tool to verify the theory.

    Take for example the theory of the ether. The lack of observed changes in the speed of light when looking for the effect of the ether led to the rejection of the ether and to the maverick outsider ( Einstein ) coming up with a better theory, against the failed “consensus”.

    I shudder to think of all the lost opportunities for real scientific progress caused by “scientists” not critically appraising their own models and blithely publishing their model based predictions as fact.

    Recently in the press and media, I saw a report of a scientist speculating that today’s massive computing power will radically change the way science is done, as much more can be done with modeling. Science is in real trouble when people like that get to the top,and modeling is valued more than observation.

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