The Thermostatic Throttle

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I have theorized that the reflective nature of the tropical clouds, in particular those of the inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ) just above the equator, functions as the “throttle” on the global climate engine. We’re all familiar with what a throttle does, because the gas pedal on your car controls the throttle. The throttle on any heat engine controls the running conditions by limiting (throttling) the amount of incoming energy.

Similarly, in the climate heat engine, the throttle is the tropical albedo (reflectivity). The tropical albedo controls how much incoming solar energy is rejected back to space at the hot end of the heat engine. In other words, the albedo throttles the incoming energy to control the entire system.

I have further said that the tropical albedo is a threshold-based and extremely non-linear function of the temperature. So I thought I’d use the CERES satellite data to take a look at how strong this climate throttle is in watts per square metre (W/m2), and exactly where the throttle is located. If such a throttle exists, one of its characteristic features would be that the amount of solar energy reflected must increase with increasing temperature. Figure 1 shows the results of that analysis.

changes in reflected solar per one degree increaseFigure 1. Average change in reflected solar from a 1° increase in surface temperature. Red areas show greater reflection with increasing temperature. The change in reflected energy is calculated on a per-gridcell basis as the change in albedo per 1° temperature increase for that gridcell, times the average solar radiation for that gridcell. Gray line shows zero change in albedo with temperature. Dotted lines show the tropics (23.45°N/S) and the Arctic/Antarctic circles (66.55°N/S).

Clearly, then, such a throttle mechanism exists. It is also where we would expect to find it, located near the Equator where the maximum energy is entering the system. On average, the throttle operates in the areas enclosed by the gray line. I was surprised by the strength of the mechanism, however. There are large areas (red) where a one degree C warming in temperature increases the solar reflection by 10 W/m2 or more. Obviously, this thermostatically controlled throttle would be a factor in explaining the observations of a hard upper open ocean temperature of about 30°C.

The throttle mechanism is operating over much of the tropical oceans and even some parts of the tropical land. It is strongest in the ITCZ, which runs below the Equator in the Indian Ocean and over Africa, and above the Equator in the Pacific and Atlantic.

Next, it is worth noting that overall the effect of temperature on solar reflections is about zero (global area-weighted average is -1.5 W/m2 per degree, which is smaller than the uncertainty in the data). In addition, large areas of both the land and the ocean in the extra-tropics are quite similar, in that they are all just slightly negative (light orange). This is another indication that we have a thermoregulatory system at work. Since over much of the planetary surface the albedo is relatively insensitive to changes in temperature, small changes in temperature in the tropics can have a large effect on the amount of energy that is entering the system. Figure 2 shows the relationship (land only) between absolute temperature in °C, and the change in reflected energy per degree of warming.

change reflected solar energy over land per degree temp vs tempFigure 2. Change in reflected solar (W/m2 per °C) versus absolute surface temperature (°C) over the land. Note that where the annual temperature averages below freezing (0°C), there is little variation in surface reflection with temperature. From freezing to about 20°C, the amount reflected is generally dropping as temperatures increase. Above about 20°C, there are two kinds of responses—sizeable increases or sizeable decreases in reflected solar with temperature.

Next, over the oceans the areas near the poles show the reverse of the behavior in the tropics. While the tropical albedo changes cool the tropics, near the poles as the surface warms, the albedo and the reflected sunshine decreases with increasing temperatures.

change reflected solar energy over ocean per degree temp vs tempFigure 3. Change in reflected solar (W/m2 per °C) versus absolute surface temperature (°C) over the ocean, annual averages. Where the annual temperature averages near freezing, there is strong negative variation in surface reflection with temperature. From freezing to about 20°C, the variation is stable and slightly negative. Above about 20°C, there are two kinds of responses—sizeable increases or sizeable decreases in reflected solar with temperature, up to the hard limit at 30°C

What this means is that in addition to limiting overall energy input to the entire system, the temperature-related albedo-mediated changes in reflected sunlight tend to make the tropics cooler, and the poles warmer, than they would be otherwise. Clearly this would tend to limit the overall temperature swings of the planet.

Finally, the use of monthly averages obscures an important point, which is that the changes in tropical albedo occur on the time scale of minutes, not months. And on a daily scale, there is no overall 10 W/m2 per degree of temperature change. Instead, up to a certain time of day there are no clouds, and the full energy of the sun is entering the system. During that time, there is basically no change in tropical albedo with increasing temperature.

Then, on average around 11 am, within a half hour or so the albedo takes a huge jump as the cumulus clouds emerge and form a fully-developed cumulus regime. This makes a step change in the albedo, and can even drive the temperature down despite increasing solar forcing, as I showed herehere,  here, here, and here

From this we see that the thermal regulation of tropical albedo is occurring via changes in the time of the daily onset and the strength of the cumulus/cumulonimbus regime. The hotter the surface on that day, the earlier the cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds will form, and the more of them there will be. This reduces the amount of energy entering the system by hundreds of watts per square metre. And on the other hand, during cooler days, cumulus form later in the day, cumulonimbus may not form at all, and there are fewer clouds. This increases the energy entering the system by hundreds of W/m2.

I bring this up to emphasize that the system is not applying an average throttle of e.g. 10 W/m2 over the average area where the throttle operates.

Instead, it is applying a much larger throttle, of a couple hundred watts/square metre, but it is only applying the throttle as and where it is needed in order to cool down local hot-spots, or to warm up local cold spots. As a result, the averages are misleading.

The final reason that it is important to understand that the albedo changes are HOURLY changes, not monthly average changes, is that what rules the system are instantaneous conditions controlling cloud emergence, not average conditions. Clouds do not form based on how much forcing there is, whether the forcing is from solar or CO2 or volcanoes. They form only when the temperatures are high enough.

And this means that things won’t change much if the forcing changes … because the cloud emergence thresholds are temperature-based, and not forcing-based.

I hold that this immediate response is the main reason that it is so hard to find e.g. a solar signal in the temperature record—because the thermoregulation is temperature based, not forcing based, and thus operates regardless of changes in forcing.

This is also the reason that volcanoes make so little difference in the global temperature—because the system responds immediately to cooling temperatures by reducing albedo, opening the thermostatically controlled-throttle to allow the entry of hundreds of extra W/m2 to counteract the drop in temperature.

There is plenty more to mine from the CERES dataset, and although I’ve mined some of it, I still haven’t done lots of things with it—an analysis of the efficiency of the climate heat engine, for example. However, I think this clear demonstration of the existence of a temperature-regulated throttle controlling the amount of energy entering the climate system is important enough to merit a post on its own.

Best regards to all on a sunny December day,

w.

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167 thoughts on “The Thermostatic Throttle

  1. Is there a corolation between this and the movements of plates over this band?

    I haven’t had the time to read the whole article so you might have already answered that question. Sorry.

    [Best to read, think, pause and consider, then write. 8<) Mod]

  2. Very interesting, and potentially very important. Thank you.

    Given that the thermostat ensures (as any good thermostat does) that the average temperature remains approximately constant regardless of the forcing, then this raises the following question: what causes the “temperature setting” of the thermostat to change? I.e. what causes the yellow dots in Figure 3 to shift to the right or the left? Could it be the overall humidity of the atmosphere? But presumably that is controlled by a mechanism very similar to your thermostat? Is there some component of the thermostat that has a very-long-time period resonance, causing climatic variations?

  3. Aren’t cumulonimbus clouds a huge heat engine on their own, absorbing heat by evaporation and taking it up to the of the troposphere to be released by condensation.

  4. I am not a climatologist’s pimple, but:

    (1) Any speculation by way of heat engine analogies would have to be for open systems, not closed systems, such as the earth’s climate system.
    (2) The test for this speculation might be measurements of radiation in v radiation out, through, for example, CERES.

    PS, please send lots of cumulonimbus to Australia. We are having our hottest year on record, apparently.

  5. A throttle that acts as a thermostat is very interesting. Hook that in with Svensmark’s ideas on solar/cosmic cloud generation along with recent GEC findings, and this could be going places.

  6. dang!

    (1) Any speculation by way of heat engine analogies would have to be for open heat engine systems, in order to be consistent with the earth’s climate system which is an open system.

  7. Climateace,
    I think that Willis is talking about open heat engine system, otherwise he would not be talking of limiting the energy input using a thermostatic regulatory mechanism.

  8. climateace,

    “PS, please send lots of cumulonimbus to Australia. We are having our hottest year on record, apparently.”

    That must be why an eco-tourism / global warming publicity stunt expedition got stuck in the sea ice in the middle of SH summer. I saw a report that the Chinese Ice Breaker was forced to turn back because they couldn’t make any headway. Maybe you should send some of your excess heat their way.

  9. Someone commented that mediaeval Iceland was some sort of idyllic stateless nirvana. It may have been so for the Norsemen.

    For their thralls it would have been hell on earth.

  10. MS

    [climateace,

    “PS, please send lots of cumulonimbus to Australia. We are having our hottest year on record, apparently.”

    That must be why an eco-tourism / global warming publicity stunt expedition got stuck in the sea ice in the middle of SH summer. I saw a report that the Chinese Ice Breaker was forced to turn back because they couldn’t make any headway. Maybe you should send some of your excess heat their way.]

    LOL. The silly things cherrypicked the wrong place at the wrong time!

  11. It acts like a cars thermostat. It stays closed and keep’s most of the energy in the system, some energy is lost due to radiation from the surface of the engine.
    Then when the temperature of the coolant reaches a threshold it opens and surplus energy is more effectively lost from the car’s radiator.
    If the temperature goes below the threshold it closes and energy is no longer lost from the radiator.

    This engine is the ocean and atmosphere.

    What drives, energy, this engine is the sun.

  12. The `throttle’ being over the tropical oceans is no big surprise. Is there any correlation with ocean currents? ie; could they assist with sensitivity, forcing, etc?

  13. “PS, please send lots of cumulonimbus to Australia. We are having our hottest year on record, apparently.”

    UN kan help you with your weather if you just sign a climate treaty?

  14. Great thinking as usual from Willis.

    How would the first chart look with the reflected solar shown as a percent of either TOA incoming, or better, surface incoming energy?
    Given the dramatically lower insolation as we move towards the poles.

  15. I hate to get political but surely the IPCC have included this obvious (when you spend a little time looking at the data) powerfull thermoregulatory mechanism in their various reports? Otherwise they (and the reports) would lack credibility.

    What models did they use when modelling the thermoregulatory cloud formation mechanisms?
    What data did they use when modelling the thermoregulatory cloud formation mechanisms?
    How do their models and real world data compare?

    There is an interesting correspondence between the “Ocean” graph and the V/I curve for a Zenner diode. Does this mean the IPCC are forward biased?

  16. “The final reason that it is important to understand that the albedo changes are HOURLY changes, not monthly average changes, is that what rules the system are instantaneous conditions controlling cloud emergence, not average conditions.’
    OK sort of. Hourly is not instantaneous, hourly is also an average that misleads. With a clear sky at noon on the equator you get the full 1366 w/m2.

  17. There is something that supports this claim but is, unfortunately, the result of a model, at least in the example I’ll provide. It serves to show the point. The thermostat, indeed the entire hypothesis depends upon the location of the sun relative to the earth’s surface. The tropics is where it all starts, as stated. What this implies is that the greatest affect is where the sun is directly overhead, and one presumes there is some lead/lag which we see in the event time starting at about 11:00 am, local time. Having spent some time in the tropics that is also my experience. And this necessarily causes to a seasonal north/south movement of greatest cloud density owing to the position of the sun changing through the year. Northern summers should exhibit a denser band of cloud formations north of the equator, and so too for the southern summer exhibiting bands of clouds south of the equator. Fall and spring should exhibit greatest cloud density at the equator.

    So to the “evidence”. This video shows this exact latitudinal movement of the densest band of equatorial clouds in accordance with the changing seasons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qh011eAYjAA

    To expose this one has to grab the video time index mark at the bottom of the video with the mouse pointer and drag the time line quickly left and right. You should observe the cloud band moving per the consequences of Willis’ hypothesis north and south, in accordance with the seasons. And note too that the northern summer is in the central portion of the video time line.

    There may also be actual satellite imagery that will also reveal this and which will remove any bias in the model that created the linked video.

    The fact that this annual latitude shift of the densest cloud band exists actually leads to Willis’ hypothesis as one possibility. And it is a really beautiful video. Astute viewers should also see streamers flowing from the main sequence to the upper latitudes. This is energy being moved toward the poles.

  18. eco-geek says:
    December 28, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    I hate to get political but surely the IPCC have included this obvious (when you spend a little time looking at the data) powerfull thermoregulatory mechanism in their various reports? Otherwise they (and the reports) would lack credibility.

    What models did they use when modelling the thermoregulatory cloud formation mechanisms?
    What data did they use when modelling the thermoregulatory cloud formation mechanisms?
    How do their models and real world data compare?

    There is an interesting correspondence between the “Ocean” graph and the V/I curve for a Zenner diode. Does this mean the IPCC are forward biased?


    Did you mislay a /sarc tag? The poor manner in which the GCMs handle clouds and water vapour is a long-standing common place in the climate debate. I would suggest that it is arguable that CO2 was selected as the “keystone” for these models, not because it was clearly important, but instead, because it was the “easiest” element to model that had well understood physical properties. A “lazy” or “desperate” climatologist syndrome so to speak. Clouds in particular are complex if not outright chaotic systems and are essentially impossible to model well. Worse, Willis points out that clouds react on hourly time scales. That places clouds into the “micro” scale was far as weather is concerned, effectively would force modelers into the position of attempting to derive climate from weather, rather than the other way around. That would forbid fortune telling on the grand scale the IPCC has been working toward.

  19. On the Zenner analogy and forward biasing I should perhaps have made it clear that I meant voltage to be the analogue of temperature, the analogue of current being currency (units $ or Yuan where t > AR6)……

  20. eco-geek says: (December 28, 11:56 pm)
    … “There is an interesting correspondence between the “Ocean” graph and the V/I curve for a Zenner diode. Does this mean the IPCC are forward biased?”

    No, no, like the Zener diode in its usual circuit they’re back biased! In the IPCC’s case, back to mediaeval feudalism.

    OTOH, as Willis points out, this “hydrological Zener” serves just as effective a stabilisation function as its electronic counterpart, to the good of the planet’s biological subcircuitry.

  21. Willis what occurs to me here is there are two opposing thermoregulatory effects here. One oppossing inbound energy in the tropics, and one opposing outbound energy at the poles. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the pattern repeat at the boundaries of the dominant hadley cells, either. Though your graph doesnt seem to indicate that.

    What do you think?

  22. Duster,

    That places clouds into the “micro” scale was far as weather is concerned, effectively would force modelers into the position of attempting to derive climate from weather, rather than the other way around.

    I should have thought that if we (OK Willis) were to take a long term data average of this weather he would arrive at a real world data based climate model input for the thermoregulatory effect (TRE). The climatic input from this effect should straightforwardly slot into GCM models which I believe Willis has previously shown to amount to a one line equation which can be executed itteratively on an abbacus by a team of low cost chimpanzees.

    Perhaps Willis could repeat his calculations using the chimpanzee team on his simplified but empirically accurate version of the GCM models with the TRE included? Then by comparing the new output with real world temperature data we can see just how important the TRE is in climate modelling.

    If it transpires that Willis is able to show that his now modified GCMs are more accurate than those used by the IPCC to justify their fat salaries we might reasonably replace the IPCC with the chimpanzee team and organise a “spot the difference” competition.

  23. I live near Singapore, so it is interesting to note the transition to a negative reflective effect by temperature rise in this area, and generally around any equatorial landmass. Here we tend to not see the precise timing of cloud build up around noon, we can have predominantly cloudy days for weeks on end.

    I suspect this may primarily because of the airflow changes around the land masses.

    A most beautiful rendition of wind currents on the earth:

    http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/1000hPa/orthographic=110.77,2.94,256

    It reveals the huge effect the landmasses have on airflows around the earth.
    Double click to zoom in, shift and double click to zoom out, drag to rotate, click to show wind speed direction at any point.

  24. I find the comment Any speculation by way of heat engine analogies would have to be for open systems, not closed systems, such as the earth’s climate system.. The theoretical Carnot Cycle describes a closed cycle heat engine, with an externally heated hot end and an externally cooled cold end – quite a good analogy for the Earth described as a heat engine, I would have thought.

  25. Re the above, Sorry a bit off topic; But interesting.

    Re temperatures at the north pole vs the south pole.
    While not discounting ocean currents, perhaps it is as much a function of the airflow disrupting effects of all the land mass surrounding the north pole as it is that the Arctic region is a sea rather than a land mass.

    North pole view of airflows:

    http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/1000hPa/orthographic=100.45,90.13,256

    South pole view of airflows:

    http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/1000hPa/orthographic=97.64,-83.19,256

  26. Perhaps what is so amazing is the stability of the Earth’s climate over the past 500 million years with the occasional near extinction event obviously excluded.

    There obviously has to be some kind of self-regulation mechanism for our planet’s temperature and climate.

    After all:

    1. We have been steadily moving further away from the Sun.
    2. The Sun has been steadily increasing its energy output. Also, we can measure the change in energy output over the known 11 year cycle, but we do not know if there are more much longer cycles.
    3. The continents move around the face of our planet having a long term impact on climate.
    4. Our planet has an elliptical orbit.

    Has what Willis describes been accurately modelled? My five bucks says it: i) either has not been considered, ii) is too complex to model, or iii) produces inconvenient results of the no future funding variety, i.e. No CAGW.

  27. Well, that’s a model for a thermostat, which is the default setting within one geological era.

    You also need a model of how to over-ride the thermostat, creating either very warm periods or ice ages with temperatures ten degrees or more hotter or colder than currently.

    A rampaging out of control fire removing the cloud cover over what is currently equatorial forest?

    A freak set of storms covering an abnormally large NH area with long-term snow cover??

    A meteorite??

    More subtle effects??

    Anyone come up with any practical models for that part of the equation??

  28. rtj1211 says:
    December 29, 2013 at 1:43 am
    Well, that’s a model for a thermostat, which is the default setting within one geological era.

    You also need a model of how to over-ride the thermostat, creating either very warm periods or ice ages with temperatures ten degrees or more hotter or colder than currently.

    That would be Svensmark’s theory – Galactic Cosmic Ray modulation of the tendency of water vapour to form clouds. All else being equal, when GCR levels are high, Willis’ cumulus clouds would form a few minutes earlier, resulting in a cooler Earth.

  29. The very strong negative albedo effect at high latitudes tallies nicely with the Milankovich curves. The Milankovich parameter that correlates with the glacial-interglacial cycles is the amount of sunlight at high latitudes.

  30. The tropical thermostatic throttle mechanism explains why there has been almost no warming in the lower latitudes which is a paradox (an observation that directly contradicts the predictions of the IPCC general circulation models (GCM) and that indicates there are one or more fundamental errors in the GCMs.)

    It is truly strange (surreal, twilight zone weird ) that billions upon billions of dollars have been spent to study ‘climate’ change and five IPCC reports have been published and there is no comment that the observed latitude warming pattern on the planet disproves the extreme/catastrophic AGW theory. If there is no CAGW problem we do not need to spend trillions of dollars on green scams that do not work even if there was a EAGW problem which there is not.

    The warmists and media have screamed from the roof tops the fact that the planet has warmed. They have completely hidden the fact that lower latitudes have not warmed which disproves catastrophic AGW. They have hidden the failure of CAGW theory by focusing on the polar warming and calling the polar warming amplification with no comment that the polar warming is not predicted by the GCM.

    Curiously the polar warming has abruptly and suddenly reversed. There was a 50% increase in summer sea ice in the Arctic and there is now two sigma record sea ice in the Antarctic for every month of the year. Atmospheric CO2 has not changed. Something must have changed to cause the sudden cooling of both poles which also indicates that something else besides the increase in atmospheric CO2 caused the warming. (Hint the sun.) Another curious observation is the sudden inhibiting of the La Niña / El Niño cycle. Changes in observations require a physical explanation.

    Latitudinal Warming Paradox
    As CO2 is more or less evenly distributed in the atmosphere the potential for CO2 warming is the same for all latitudes. The actual theoretical warming (if theory worked in reality which it does not which indicates there are one or more fundamental errors in the models) due to CO2 is linearly dependent on the amount of long wave radiation at the latitude in question before the increase in CO2. As most amount of long wave radiation that is emitted to space is in the tropics the most amount of warming due to the CO2 increase should have occurred in the tropics. That is not what is observed as shown in Bob Tisdale graph. The following is a peer reviewed paper that supports the above assertions.

    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0809/0809.0581.pdf

    “These effects do not have the signature associated with CO2 climate forcing. (William: This observation indicates something is fundamental incorrect with the IPCC models, likely negative feedback in the tropics due to increased or decreased planetary cloud cover to resist forcing). However, the data show a small underlying positive trend that is consistent with CO2 climate forcing with no-feedback. (William: This indicates a significant portion of the 20th century warming has due to something rather than CO2 forcing.)”

    “These conclusions are contrary to the IPCC [2007] statement: “[M]ost of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

  31. Willis, I would guess that , like most people doing the sensitivity thing, you are doing OLS regression of dRad against dT, with T on the x-axis.

    Since OLS _requires_ negligible error in x variable, doing this on two variables with significant uncertainty is not really giving the correct regression slope. This is known in some circles as regression dilution. The regressed slope will (almost always) be lesser in magnitude that the real ratio.

    How much less depends upon the spread of the data. First check is invert the axes and do the regression the other way around.

    It’s quite easy to have a factor of 2 difference with broadly scattered data !

    It could be that your figure of 10 W/K is significantly underestimating the effect.

    This is one of the biggest blunders in climate science in attempting to assess climate sensitivity in both models and obs data. There is a tradition of doing the plot (and hence the regression) this way around and since climate sensitivity (CS) is derived from the inverse of the slope everyone using this kind of method _over-estimates_ CS.

    Spencer, Trenberth, Dessler …. just about everyone is doing it. Notable exceptions being Lindzen & Choi, who get much lower sensitivities !

    I really need to find time to write this up in detail. Simple OLS regression on scatter plots is wrong but just about everyone is either ignorant of that or thinks it doesn’t “matter”. Well it often does.

    It would be interesting to see how much your estimations change if you invert the regression. I would imagine that would be pretty easy to flip variables in your R code lm() function.

  32. In support of:
    Eric Worrall says:
    December 29, 2013 at 1:59 am
    rtj1211 says:
    December 29, 2013 at 1:43 am
    Well, that’s a model for a thermostat, which is the default setting within one geological era.
    You also need a model of how to over-ride the thermostat, creating either very warm periods or ice ages with temperatures ten degrees or more hotter or colder than currently.
    That would be Svensmark’s theory – Galactic Cosmic Ray modulation of the tendency of water vapour to form clouds. All else being equal, when GCR levels are high, Willis’ cumulus clouds would form a few minutes earlier, resulting in a cooler Earth.

    William:
    As the solar system revolves about the galaxy it bobs in and out of the galaxy arms which results in a 3 to 5 fold increase in galactic cosmic rays (GCR, mostly high speed protons) for the period of time when the solar system passes through the galaxy’s arms.

    http://ruby.fgcu.edu/courses/twimberley/EnviroPhilo/Phanerozoic.pdf

    Celestial driver of Phanerozoic climate?

    http://www.phys.huji.ac.il/~shaviv/articles/long-ice.pdf

    The Spiral Structure of the Milky Way, Cosmic Rays, and Ice Age Epochs on Earth

  33. Willis, what you are describing with the timing of a major switch of state, say between cloudy and clear skies, is analogous to digital pulse width modulation (PMW). It is the duty cycle that controls the effect, rather than amplitude. The strong positive feedback of the ‘emergent phenomenon’ makes it snap on and off like a switch.

    Small scale variability in SST means that on a regional scale there can be a continuous response to variations in input.

    In doing a linear regression you are attempting to model the response as linear. (I’m not necessarily against that idea but I thought you were, maybe try regressing T^2 against rad if you are still of that opinion. Again, you’d want to plot and regress the other way around. ).

    Willis: “I hold that this immediate response is the main reason that it is so hard to find e.g. a solar signal in the temperature record—because the thermoregulation is temperature based, not forcing based, and thus operates regardless of changes in forcing.”

    If you are correct, the reason it’s hard to find a solar signal is that there won’t be one !
    Actually, there will be one but outside the tropics.

    “This is also the reason that volcanoes make so little difference in the global temperature—because the system responds immediately to cooling temperatures by reducing albedo, opening the thermostatically controlled-throttle to allow the entry of hundreds of extra W/m2 to counteract the drop in temperature.”

    http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=278

    http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=310

  34. Milankovitch cycles are at best unhelpful insofar as it is already possible to make planetary comparisons with other planets and draw proper conclusions based on a climate spectrum between zero degrees (Equatorial climate) and 90 degrees (Polar climate).

    A planet with zero inclination maintains the same surface weather conditions across its orbital period,something like Jupiter with its 3 degree inclination hence storms like the Great Red Storm have no real orbital input to dissipate the storm whereas at the other extreme,Uranus has a Polar climate with its 82 degree inclination and extreme swings in surface conditions across its orbital period.

    The old ‘no tilt/no seasons’ has to go in order to research planetary climate properly by introducing the climate spectrum between o Degrees and 90 degrees as a working principles.Each planet has a global temperature budget and it is the degree of inclination that determines how the surface spends that budget over the course of its orbit,if is has an Equatorial climate with zero degree inclination then the heat to col differential across latitudes with be more or less steady whereas a 90 degree inclination then the expenditure will be extreme and more extensive across all latitudes much like moving the Arctic circle close to the Equator.

    Milankovitch cycles operate off a false assumption because the heat budget of the Earth is the same regardless of inclination so an increase or a decrease in inclination doesn’t affect the level of solar energy a location experiences across an annual cycle,only the way it experiences that radiation. If people assume a polar climate means a ‘colder’ climate then they are mistaken,it only means how the surface responds to inclination across latitudes.

  35. Gerald Kelleher

    Milankovitch cycles operate off a false assumption because the heat budget of the Earth is the same regardless of inclination so an increase or a decrease in inclination doesn’t affect the level of solar energy a location experiences across an annual cycle,only the way it experiences that radiation. If people assume a polar climate means a ‘colder’ climate then they are mistaken,it only means how the surface responds to inclination across latitudes.

    Wrong, the connection between Milankovitch cycles and ice ages appears to be the level of insolation received by the Northern Hemisphere.

    From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles

    Changes near the north polar area, about 65 degrees North, are considered important due to the great amount of land. Land masses respond to temperature change more quickly than oceans, which have a higher effective heat capacity, because of the mixing of surface and deep water and the fact that the specific heat of solids is generally lower than that of water.

  36. If earth reacts in a way its surface temperature keeps constant, then a simple question what is this temperature? You can answer me the temperature that is actually observed…but it is weird.

    So even it you caught a process in the complexity of climate…you still don’t understand the climate because nobody can tell you,given the sun radiation, given the astronomical situation, given the physical composition of earth the temperature at the surface will be….
    whatever will be the calculation to try to know the temperature they always will start from the current state of earth climate and we don’t know if we are in a equilibrium state or not.

    To make it shorter , you may have found a process to keep a changing temperature constant…

    but so nice and so rare to see some real data …

  37. Surely “Climate Science” is aware of this albedo = f(Temp) relationship. But, from what I gather from Spencer’s shall I say “input”, Willis’ time of day hypothesis is not recognized.

    With the hundreds of watts-m^-1 involved in Greg’s “switching duty cycles”, the amount of time the switch is “on” is not trivial. Doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to model this “large signal/large response” phenomenon… and get a model with some skill in reflecting reality (past and future).

  38. Willis, I remember well your “spot the volcanos” charts. Greg might be onto something higher up.

    Re: land, sea and clouds over them. I was lying on the beach at Giardini, Sicily having climbed up Mt Etna to look into the bubbling cone. It was impressive but so were the clouds.

    During the bright sunny days there were white clouds drifting from over the land straight over the sea, the path square to the shoreline. As the clouds passed the shoreline going East they disappeared in a period of a few minutes. They literally evaporated. Cloud after cloud met its death at the shoreline.

    I conclude, after reading your piece today that the temperature over land was higher than over the (still lovely, but cloudless) Mediterranean Sea. You can probably extend your thesis to include land where there is enough moisture available.

  39. Another great post Willis. Thanks much.

    I first got interested in the climate in the early 70s when so many “experts” were predicting another ice age real soon. There was a fair amount of hysteria and would have been even more if everyone was not thinking we would all die in a nuclear war before the ice froze us to death. (plus I live in Florida — hard to get excited about ice here)

    I have come to believe, based on decades of information and observing predictions, that the climate of this planet is very, very complex and that it has many “controls” or “thermostats”. During the life of the planet, if one can believe the paleo-climatologists, the climate has remained remarkably stable within certain large cycles. Earth has been an “ice ball” at times with much of the northern hemisphere under ice and it has also been approximately the present temperature. (or even a bit warmer at times in the past)

    The real unanswered question is what causes an interglacial period of warmer global average temperature lasting thousands of years and what causes a return to the glacial periods within the present ice age. Other than this oscillation between glacial and interglacial, all other questions pale in comparison.

    Alarmists holler that an average warming of 2 degrees would kill most of us with great disruptions, and yet some of my family left the north and came here to central Florida where it is perhaps 20 degrees warmer than their home area is. They seemed to handle the rapid increase in temperature (20 degrees in a day!) just fine. It is freezing temperatures that kill people.

    In conclusion, I would love to know what causes the onset of glacial periods, and I would love to see the socialists who want to use CO2 to scare people into submission to shut up. (hoping for 1 out of 2 before I die)

  40. Willis, have you ever thought of getting this kind of article published?
    A little reworking and it would be more or less there.

  41. One thing’s for certain, given the non-linearity of any such negative feedback function, hell will freeze over before we’ll see it incorporated properly into a GCM, the modelers can’t seem to even get the coefficients of the linear stuff correct.

  42. markstoval
    The real unanswered question is what causes an interglacial period of warmer global average temperature lasting thousands of years and what causes a return to the glacial periods within the present ice age. Other than this oscillation between glacial and interglacial, all other questions pale in comparison.

    Fred Hoyle hypothesised that the catalyst for abrupt transition to interglacials is a large ocean asteroid strike – vast amounts of sea water would be evaporated, causing a burst of global warming. No idea whether this theory is still current though.

  43. Could precipitation alone serve as a reasonably good proxy for albedo and vertical transfer of latent heat?

  44. Paul Vaughan says: December 29, 2013 at 5:57 am

    Judging by the seasonal swing in peak wave heights from the Arctic region region in the NH winter to the Antarctic region in the SH winter, one must question the global warming meme that warming will result in more storms and wilder weather.

  45. Willis, you have long since convinced me that the sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is going to be low, perhaps 0.4 C or so.

    Your very original work is outstanding! Thanks!

  46. A Question Willis!

    You showed us in an earlier article the distribution of SST observations where there seems to be a “wall” at max 30 C. To me I interpret this as a passed threshold and what the cloud feedback max allows SST to reach. Any objections?

    PS Love your articles

  47. “Clouds do not form based on how much forcing there is, whether the forcing is from solar or CO2 or volcanoes. They form only when the temperatures are high enough.”

    Clouds form where the air mass has cooled, or the water vapour has increased. There are a number of ways other than convection where air masses get lifted and cool to the dew point. Cloud formation around the 50th parallels is greatly effected by atmospheric circulation, which is turn effected by solar forcing on the AO and NAO:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0273117713005802

    High values of global cloud cover is associated with low global temperatures.

  48. How much of the albedo effect is negated by the night time insulative property of increased cloud cover?

  49. This throttle is likely more potent than just albedo, owing to Lindzen’s adaptive iris hypothesis. Those clouds at higher energy/temp/evaporation lead to afternoon T storms, whose precipitation transfers latent heat high where it can radiate away, and which lowers specific humidity in the upper troposphere, whichnis why the ‘modeled’ constant UTrH was not observed over the warming decades. All very consistent with yours Ceres analysis, just additional throttle mechanisms.
    Note that since AR4 and AR5 both say coulda are not well modeled, and therefore cloud feedback is very uncertain (despite the experimentally unsupported AR 5 conclusion that cloud feedbackmis likely positive [when available data plus your analysis suggest it is negative in the all important tropics]). There the IPCC admits that your throttle is not modeled by the coupled GCMs. Which explains in part why they run hot and have observationally about twice the likely ECS.

  50. Willis,

    Radiative changes are too weak to cause the effect – its much more likely to be a function of convection than radiation. As someone has mentioned above, the extremely strong convection in cumulonimbus clouds exactly matches your proposed throttle mechanism.

  51. Said it before and will say it again. What the clouds do in the equatorial belt (allowing in or reflecting away SWIR into the equatorial ocean) is likely an important metric to both measure and model as a way of projecting future global temperature trends. Finding the time lag between equatorial (ie smoothed oceanic/atmospheric cloud-controlled surface irradiance weather pattern variation trends and subsequent land-based weather pattern variation trends may hold the key that unlocks global temperature trend being a function of natural variation with little to do with anthropogenic CO2. And indeed, solar amplification. If I were to coin a phrase about solar input it would be this: Earth variably and powerfully dampens solar input whether it varies or not. There is no mechanism whereby Earth amplifies solar variation.

  52. Seems to me this could be an important mechanism by which Milankovitch cycles work and why the annual cycle for the NH (more land) is more pronounced than the SH (more ocean). Note the difference in response to 1C increase between land and ocean and between NH and SH.

  53. My dream: Deploy a raft of anchored equatorial solar irradiance buoys around the globe’s middle. This measure alone should solve our modeled projection dilemma. The amount of heat that goes into the oceans will follow known pathways and will be belched up so many years later to affect land temperatures and weather pattern variations and shifts. Fire all the CO2 nuts and cut off all the CO2 grants and alternative energy subsidies and redirect all that money into these buoys and the scientific staff needed to deal with the data. Put the left over money into paying down the debt caused by the CO2 nuts who now sit in jail. Round up the solar nuts and make then read a basic text on solar science.

  54. Freeman Dyson said we understand fluids but clouds are not fluids. Does the albedo of the clouds depend, upper surface shape ,droplet size, density of droplets , thickness of clouds?
    It appears to me that cloud formation typifies chaos theory.

    I would suggest that cloud formation may occur over 10-15 minutes. I cannot see GCMs operating on 10 minute time scales!

  55. Greg says:
    December 29, 2013 at 2:42 am

    Since you mention volcanoes

    http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=750

    Stratosphere is nice since it’s much less noisy than down below.
    Note the definitive 0.5K drop in TLS after each event.

    Thanks, Greg. The oddity is that we see such a clear signal in the stratosphere, but almost nothing at the global average temperature level. I say that this is because of the counter-effect of decreased clouds when the temperature is lower, which returns the temperature to its previous value quite quickly.

    w.

  56. I have been involved in high altitude balloons and have noted a variability in global upper atmospheric temperatures. The Standard Atmospheric temperature curve is an on average plot. It is well known that the global troposphere is very cold (-60 to -80 deg C). And depending on where one launches a balloon and in spite of the Std Atmos plot, the temperature varies quite a bit. When our balloon instrumentation packages are passing through the trop, they could actually “freeze” and stop working unless we consider the thermal issues. Large NASA high altitude balloons are commonly launched from Alice Springs, Australia and Fort Sumner, NM. From Fig 1 is seems that Alice is slightly within the gray banded area and Ft. Sumner is well outside the gray area. Trop temps at Alice are some of the lowest I have noticed at -80 C while Ft. Sumner and NM in general varies from -50 to -60 C.

    I wonder if it would be possible to obtain trop temps, inside and outside the gray banded regions and see if there is any correlation between the trop temps in the gray and non gray regions? Standard weather balloon flights usually pass through the trop but there aren’t many launch sites in the ocean regions.

    I have no idea what it might prove other than, if there is correlation there then we might have one more piece of the complex thermodynamic puzzle figured out. Just another question in the long list of questions in what is claimed to be a settled issue.

  57. markx says: A most beautiful rendition of wind currents on the earth:

    http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/1000hPa/orthographic=110.77,2.94,256

    It reveals the huge effect the landmasses have on airflows around the earth.

    Thanks, an excellent animation!

    However, I would say that it shows the huge effect the oceans have on airflows, not land.

    In fact, the way I read that is that winds are pretty much due to SST driven patterns, far more than Coriolis. Lands is there wind goes afterwards.

  58. Rob Dawg says:
    December 29, 2013 at 7:16 am

    How much of the albedo effect is negated by the night time insulative property of increased cloud cover?

    Good question, Rob. Typically, during the day in the tropics a cloud reflects hundreds of watts per sq. metre, while it increases the downwelling LW by about 40 W/m2. Check out the links in the head post regarding the TAO buoy data, it’s in there.

    w.

  59. Duster says: @ December 29, 2013 at 12:48 am
    … I would suggest that it is arguable that CO2 was selected as the “keystone” for these models, not because it was clearly important, but instead, because it was the “easiest” element to model that had well understood physical properties….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Let me correct that sentence for you:
    I would suggest that it is arguable that CO2 was selected as the “keystone” for these models, not because it was clearly important, but instead, because it was the “easiest” element to model that had well understood physical properties TAX.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Willis, Great post.

    Some years ago when you came up with your thermostat theory, I took a quick look at the rain from Florida to North Carolina during the summer and found the data supported your theory.

    Afternoon thunderstorms go from forming about 3/4 of the time in Florida to about 1/3 the time in southern North Carolina. They become sporadic when you hit Fayetteville NC.

    I did this based on the memory of having to drive through an afternoon gully-washing thunderstorm at 4:00 pm every day when I lived in Columbia SC. (At least it was often enough to seem to be every day.)

    Be interesting to see if the time those thunderstorms move in varies with latitude since it take longer to reach the threshold temperature.

  60. Rud Istvan says:
    December 29, 2013 at 7:21 am

    This throttle is likely more potent than just albedo, owing to Lindzen’s adaptive iris hypothesis.

    Thanks, Rud. The hypothesis of Lindzen also involves albedo, but of a different kind (high thing clouds instead of cumulus. But the measurements made by the CERES dataset make no differentiation between the two, so both will be shown in the graph above.

    Regards,

    w.

  61. John A says:
    December 29, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Willis,

    Radiative changes are too weak to cause the effect – its much more likely to be a function of convection than radiation.

    Sorry, John, but that’s not clear. What is “the effect” of which you speak, and how is it a function of convection? My hypothesis is that the changes in tropical albedo are caused by clouds … do you disagree?

    w.

  62. Bernie McCune says:
    December 29, 2013 at 9:07 am

    … I wonder if it would be possible to obtain trop temps, inside and outside the gray banded regions and see if there is any correlation between the trop temps in the gray and non gray regions? Standard weather balloon flights usually pass through the trop but there aren’t many launch sites in the ocean regions.

    I have no idea what it might prove other than, if there is correlation there then we might have one more piece of the complex thermodynamic puzzle figured out. Just another question in the long list of questions in what is claimed to be a settled issue.

    I’ve been thinking along somewhat the same lines. It seems we might get a fairly accurate measure of the thermal state of the tropics by subtracting the temperature inside the gray regions from that outside the gray regions (within the tropics).

    Always more to do, a good dataset is a thing of wonder.

    Thanks,

    w.

  63. Very interesting, Willis.

    What stage are we in at present? Are we in a cool-water-low-albedo phase, or a warm-water-high-albedo phase?

    R

  64. Willis: “Thanks, Greg. The oddity is that we see such a clear signal in the stratosphere, but almost nothing at the global average temperature level. I say that this is because of the counter-effect of decreased clouds when the temperature is lower, which returns the temperature to its previous value quite quickly.”

    I think the volcano stack plots show that you are basically correct in the tropics. Even degree.days product is maintained about 6 years out from eruptions. However, ex-tropics do take a hit. Temps come back up but there is a permanent loss of degree.days.

    I have not split TLS by latitude, it would be worth doing. My guess is that post eruption drop in TLS reflects more incoming solar going into recharging tropical OHC and is probably contributing to the 1998 pulse and subsequent warmer global temps.

    I’im not aware of any data going back to pre-sat era that could help on this but it seems that those two events actually “cleaned” the stratosphere. Whether it flushed out some anthro-pollution or just naturally occurring aerosols and condensation nuclei I have not looked into.

    However, it does invite the question : to what degree to such stratospheric events could end up causing warming rather than the presumed cooling when the full decadal scale picture is examined.

  65. Eric Worrall says: @ December 29, 2013 at 6:09 am
    ….Fred Hoyle hypothesised that the catalyst for abrupt transition to interglacials is a large ocean asteroid strike – vast amounts of sea water would be evaporated, causing a burst of global warming. No idea whether this theory is still current though.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    It might explain one but not the periodic repeats.
    graph 1 and graph 2 a subsection of graph 1.

    You might want to look into the closure of the Panama Isthmus link and the opening of Drake Passage. link

  66. A number of years ago I asked why the climate models all used equilibrium equations and broad averages. One only has to look outside to see that weather and the climate act pretty much instantaneously on a very localized, non-equlibrium basis. What clouds are ever in equilibrium? The idea got roundly blasted and dumped in their borehole. Never went back again.

    Thanks Willis for tweaking out a real scientific idea from the data that has been so misused in the past.

  67. So, if one were to have a huge continent covering a major portion of the equator,
              like say Pangaea, or Gondwana,
    then one might expect the temperature to regulate somewhat higher
              causing very voluminous life
    in spite of the sun being a bit weaker
              sort of like addressing the “faint young sun” problem?

    And should that continent ever split or cover less of the equatorial region, one would expect a period of glaciation
              maybe like the Huronian glaciation,
              about 2.4 to 2.1 billion years ago.

    Why does this seem like a much better theoretical explanation of the historical record than do most of the current theories?

  68. Willis, thanks, it looks great. Could you please post a reference to data you used for this work? I am not familiar with the CERES project.

    Happy New Year!

  69. Clouds also act as a throttle to govern the rate of OLR to space. I have found there is a linear relationship between the amount of atmospheric precipitable water and the reduction of OLR at any location (the difference in radiation at skin surface temperature and outbound longwave radiation at the top of the atmosphere). The coefficient of this linearity is relatively constant from the equator to the poles where the controlling factor (atmospheric water, ice, vapor) has extremes. This effect swamps any possible sensitivity to atmospheric CO2.

  70. Keep up the work and us folks @ Big Oil will not only keep not sending you a check, we will come after your money….

    Yer pals at Big Oil

  71. In keeping with Willis’s heat engine hypothesis, what would happen when you stop up the exhaust. The Arctic regions are just that, the exhaust as the atmosphere is thinner and out going LWIR escapes more rapidly.

    In an active solar cycle the equatorial regions will be less affected so the throttle will have little impact, but as lower energy input is placed into the system the amount of energy escaping will exceed that of the input until equilibrium is reached. During solar maxima the exhaust is stopped up so to speak and heat will build up due to the inefficiency of the motor at higher temp.

    Maybe I’m just to simplistic but a plugged exhaust on my car sure makes it overheat.

    Bill

  72. fhhaynie says:
    December 29, 2013 at 11:14 am
    Clouds also act as a throttle to govern the rate of OLR to space. I have found there is a linear relationship between the amount of atmospheric precipitable water and the reduction of OLR at any location (the difference in radiation at skin surface temperature and outbound longwave radiation at the top of the atmosphere). The coefficient of this linearity is relatively constant from the equator to the poles where the controlling factor (atmospheric water, ice, vapor) has extremes. This effect swamps any possible sensitivity to atmospheric CO2.

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

    Interesting premise. Add to this the fact the molecular weight of CO2 does not allow for it to be well mixed and thus at earths surface it is greater. this fact alone should dismantle the CO2 meme as it removes CO2 from the parts of the atmosphere that would be required to create runaway heat.

  73. I have never thought that the equator having a more or less constant seasonal temperature requires an explanation, I don’t like analogies.The reason that we have ice at the poles of the Earth during some periods in earths history but not in others does require an explanation, logic would suggest that if this was down just to changes in earths orbit and inclination then we would see the pattern that we have seen in the last 5 million years constant throughout earths history,and we don’t. Why don’t we?

  74. Susan Corwin says: @ December 29, 2013 at 10:38 am

    So, if one were to have a huge continent covering a major portion of the equator…
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Does make sense doesn’t it?
    You have the position of land masses (not to mention mountains and rain shadows) that dictate ocean currents. Then you add in the information from Bob Tisdale on ENSO, trade winds and clouds and Willis’ information on clouds.

    You can also add a bit about the sun (sorry Pam) and ocean Solar Radiation Intensity and Wavelengths at Various Ocean Depths and The oceans as a calorimeter – Nir Shaviv

    And if you are really open you can add in a lunar component.
    Long-Term Lunar Atmospheric Tides in the Southern Hemisphere

    Are Global Mean Temperatures Significantly Affected by Long-Term Lunar Atmospheric Tides?

    Now if they can figure out what causes Bond and Dansgaard-Oeschger (D-O) warming and cooling cycles (1450 year cycle plus or minus 500 years) SWAG – a lunar tide component maybe?

    The 1,800-year oceanic tidal cycle: A possible cause of rapid climate change
    ABSTRACT
    … A well defined 1,800-year tidal cycle is associated with gradually shifting lunar declination from one episode of maximum tidal forcing on the centennial time-scale to the next. An amplitude modulation of this cycle occurs with an average period of about 5,000 years, associated with gradually shifting separation-intervals between perihelion and syzygy at maxima of the 1,800-year cycle. We propose that strong tidal forcing causes cooling at the sea surface by increasing vertical mixing in the oceans. On the millennial time-scale, this tidal hypothesis is supported by findings, from sedimentary records of ice-rafting debris, that ocean waters cooled close to the times predicted for strong tidal forcing…..

    There are a heck of a lot more possible influences on climate than just CO2 and the IPCC ignores most of them.

  75. “Instead, it is applying a much larger throttle, of a couple hundred watts/square metre, but it is only applying the throttle as and where it is needed in order to cool down local hot-spots, or to warm up local cold spots. As a result, the averages are misleading.

    The final reason that it is important to understand that the albedo changes are HOURLY changes, not monthly average changes, is that what rules the system are instantaneous conditions controlling cloud emergence, not average conditions. Clouds do not form based on how much forcing there is, whether the forcing is from solar or CO2 or volcanoes. They form only when the temperatures are high enough.”

    Willis this is why no model we have today will function with any certainty beyond about three hours. Using a bone hung from a tree as a weather predictor would be more accurate. If there is snow on the bone its snowing.. If there is water dripping from the bone its raining… Etc..

    You have hit so many points with this post its amazing.. Excellent !!!

  76. Bill H says:
    December 29, 2013 at 11:34 am
    In keeping with Willis’s heat engine hypothesis, what would happen when you stop up the exhaust. The Arctic regions are just that, the exhaust as the atmosphere is thinner and out going LWIR escapes more rapidly.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Maybe the extent of ICE on the poles acts like a throttling device?

    Would be interesting to see a calc on the amount of heat rejected by the poles and a graph of the yearly energy budget.

  77. Eric Worrall

    Climate science is a lot of fun and spirited when comfortable with the astronomical principles and these Milankovitch cycles are way off the mark. Were you to assign the 82 degree rotational inclination of Uranus to the Earth while retaining its daily rotational 24 hour cycle and its 365 1/4 day orbital period,it would mean extending the Arctic/Antarctic circle to large areas of the Earth’s surface and almost to the Equator,in other words,the Earth would have a polar climate. This assumes a climate spectrum governed by the degree of inclination from zero degrees (Equatorial climate) to 90 degree inclination (polar climate).

    There are two components to surface conditions,the daily rotational input which causes temperatures to rise and fall within a 24 hour period and the annual component which causes latitudinal variations in temperatures across an orbital period. The Earth has a largely Equatorial climate in that daily rotational influences are dominant up to the Arctic/Antarctic circles where orbital influences take over. Increasing the inclination of the Earth towards the polar end of the spectrum would mean widening the surface area exposed to polar conditions so that at 45 Degree inclination,the Arctic circle would extend down to New York. A shift towards the polar end of the spectrum does not mean a colder climate as it is more complicated than that,just as the length of time New would spend in polar darkness so would it experience more time in solar radiation,the global heat budget would be the same as today with a 23 1/2 degree inclination but the way it would be experienced would be conditioned by orbital rather than daily rotational influences.

    Astronomically,global climate comes under a set of generalized rules regardless of distance from the Sun,atmospheric or surface condition such as the presence of oceans or not. Presently we are still subject to the inadequate ‘no tilt/no seasons’ ideology which is obscuring what is effectively an Equatorial climate (0 degrees) set off against a polar climate (90 degree inclination) as a spectrum. This deserves a thread on its own insofar as it represents a modification of variable axial inclination first proposed by Copernicus himself -

    “To this circle, which goes through the middle of the signs, and to its plane, the equator and the earth’s axis must be understood to have a variable inclination. For if they stayed at a constant angle, and were affected exclusively by the motion of the centre, no inequality of days and nights would be observed. On the contrary,it day or the of equal daylight and darkness, or summer or winter, or whatever the
    character of the season, it would remain identical and unchanged.” Copernicus

    Although it is a tough assignment,it is also an enjoyable one made easily with visualization tools both actual and animated.If the stakes are so high then everything has to be revisited including the original assertion of variable annual inclination.

  78. donald penman says: @ December 29, 2013 at 11:42 am
    …. we would see the pattern that we have seen in the last 5 million years constant throughout earths history,and we don’t. Why don’t we?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Again look into the closure of the Panama Isthmus link and the opening of Drake Passage. link

    Those two events changed the ocean circulation patterns. Also look into Pangaea, or Gondwana as Susan Corwin suggested.

  79. Gerald Kelleher says…
    Do not forget there are actually three components.

    The shape of the Earth’s orbit (roundness or eccentricity)
    The tilt of its axis (obliquity) which you just explained
    and the direction the axis points (precession)
    This has a good animation link (click on arrow)

  80. I have looked at past plate tectonics and we had periods when all the continents were on the poles and yet we had a warm ice free planet .How can I explain that? I think that the continents may have been at a lower elevation and the oceans less deep at this time.

  81. Willis

    The maximum solar energy entering the Earth at any given time is determined by the ecliptic path of the planet and not the rotational line of the Equator.The Equator having the largest surface area across latitudes constantly passes through that ecliptic line for it makes no sense to say the Equator tilts towards and away from the Sun for clearly it does not ,neither do the poles or anywhere in between.

    The best way to visualize the latitudinal variation in optimum energy input is through the unique inclination of Uranus where the rotational Equator of Uranus will run almost in line with the circle of illumination at the Solstice and receive little energy from the Sun whereas all the energy will be concentrated at the poles -

    This is why a global polar climate is not necessarily colder but it would be extreme.

    That Hubble time lapse footage is priceless for one specific reason – it demonstrates that aside from and in addition to daily rotation,all locations on the planet turn once to the central Sun as a component of the orbital motion of the planet.It is along that ecliptic line that the greatest energy to the Sun is received and not the daily rotational line of the Equator.

  82. Box of Rocks says:
    December 29, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Maybe the extent of ICE on the poles acts like a throttling device?

    Would be interesting to see a calc on the amount of heat rejected by the poles and a graph of the yearly energy budget.
    ========================================

    Willis showed there was no rejection of heat in his article. What is not shown is the LWIR of heat being lost. Willis shows how the INPUT is being regulated. What I am suggesting is the output being unrestricted allows for the motor to run smoothly and when a restriction of heat is applied to these regions how it will slow the heat loss.

    The surface storms a few years back broke up major amounts of ICE and increased LWIR loss. this of course after along time of slow warming. What is now occurring is a rapid rebound now that the excess heat is gone. The exhaust is flowing very well and now its time to close up a little to maintain heat.

    Heating > warms oceans > flows to poles where it melts ice> once the ice buffer is reduced the LWIR is allowed out rapidly> Ice Returns to choke off the exhaust and slow heat escape> buffer rebuilds> heating resumes….. Repeat…

  83. Willis did another post on WUWT. I’m not sure why the cloud regulator isn’t getting the attention it deserves. The Earth as a heat engine is limited by this mechanism. The limit on SST sets the high temperature of the heat engine. That leaves the poles as the low temperature side of the engine. It may be that this fact makes the poles the driver – but it may be that the temperature variation at the poles isn’t enough to make a significant difference.

    So, instead of the temperature of the tropical atmosphere just getting hotter and hotter, the time spent at the 31C limit would get longer every day as more CO2 accumulates. Sort of a duty cycle control (the time spent at the limit) sort of like a quadrac controlled by a RC circuit, with R variable, and a diac.

    http://judithcurry.com/2013/12/26/seasonal-radiative-response/#comment-430391

  84. Gail

    It may come across as too much too quickly but axial precession must go the same way as the ‘no tilt/no seasons’ perspective.

    A person standing on the South pole experiences a single day/night cycle each year where 6 months of darkness follow roughly 6 months of daylight so to account for the polar day/night cycle the same rules of surface rotation must apply as those which cause the daily daylight/darkness cycle at habitable latitudes.

    Rather than the old ’tilt towards and away from the Sun’ explanation or any of its variants to account for the polar day/night cycle,that location turns in a circle to the central Sun just as the rotational poles of Uranus is seen to do in the time lapse footage from the last posting.It is initially difficult to spot the orbital surface rotation to the central Sun in the East to West motion seen in the Hubble video because it has become so ingrained in the human mind about tilt and precession but effectively axial precession as it is presently understood has to go in order for the annual surface rotation of our planet to conceptually mesh with the daily surface rotation in defining climate.

    It takes a of familiarity to discern that Uranus is not going through axial precession,the polar coordinates are simply being turned in a circle to the central Sun while maintaining a fixed orientation in space -

    Likewise the polar coordinates of the Earth turn in like manner to the central Sun indicative of a separate surface rotation,again,takes a bit of getting used to but an entirely different way to explain the seasons and climate.

  85. I think some of these basic principals would be easy to test using using a type of cloud chamber and a source of light.

  86. Gerald Kelleher says: @ December 29, 2013 at 12:55 pm
    >>>>>>>

    Obliquity refers to the tilt of the Earth’s axis relative to the plane of its orbit. This is now equals 23.5°. In December the axis [north pole] is tilted away from the sun… link

    The tilt changes over a 40,000 year cycle from 22.1° to 24.5° link and this would result in a greater difference between summer and winter climate.

    You can see this result of the tilt of the Earth’s axis in the change from summer to winter in the sky where I live. For example Orion, which is located on the celestial equator, is most visible in the evening sky from January to March and is just showing up at dusk in October. In the summer it is ‘visible’ during the day.

    As that link also says the North Star is Polaris now and in 13,000 years it will be Vega because of the precession of the equinoxes.

    I guess if you wanted to completely change your reference system you can but I see absolutely no reason to.

  87. My dear Gail

    http://www.newgrange.com/winter_solstice.htm

    The neolithic alignments of Stonehenge and Newgrange which are over 5200 years old are 20% through a precessional cycle yet still happen on the Dec/June Solstice so it should give you an indication of how flawed axial precession is as a conception.It is time to revisit all the conceptual astronomical inputs which define climate and explain the seasons otherwise all these assertions come off as pretension and bluffing like the following graphics are and on which you base your assertions

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/Earth_axial_precession.svg

    If the fact that the ancient alignments are still valid and not enough for you to actually look at a climate spectrum which relies heavily on using axial inclination then good luck to you.Forget Milankovitch cycles,it belongs to a different era along with wishful thinking of summer/winter climate when the generalized rules extend specifically to an equatorial of polar climate – global terms and not hemispherical ones.

    Of course it happens that when things like ‘no tilt/no seasons’ or axial precession as it is presently understood is so fixed in your head from your schooldays that no argument ,everything from the neolithic alignments to actually imaging, can alter your point of view but perhaps some others will catch a glimpse of something new and much better for terrestrial sciences including climate research.

  88. This is probably going to expose my abysmal ignorance of climate but: Did the southern hemisphere go through an ice age with sheets of ice or was the ice age a northern hemisphere phenomenon?

  89. Bill H says:
    December 29, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    So are there not *two* – 2 ways to throttling devices or negative feedback loops

    1) cloud formation in the tropics.
    2) heat rejection at the poles

    ???

  90. William Astley says:
    December 29, 2013 at 2:06 am

    The tropical thermostatic throttle mechanism explains why there has been almost no warming in the lower latitudes which is a paradox (an observation that directly contradicts the predictions of the IPCC general circulation models (GCM) and that indicates there are one or more fundamental errors in the GCMs.)

    Excellent summary observation and links. Thanks muchly.

    BTW, you can save words and eliminate an awkward redundancy by just using “most” instead of “most amount of”. If you prefer the extra wordcount, try “largest amount of”.

  91. I like Willis’ masterful use of phase space. Finding pairs of carefully chosen climate parameters and plotting them against eachother portrays a phase space, an illuminating technique.

    Phase spaces are good for showing chaotic-nonlinear attractors. If a phase space reveals a cool unexpected shape its likely there is some kind of attractor involved.

  92. Bill H says:
    December 29, 2013 at 11:34 am

    In keeping with Willis’s heat engine hypothesis, what would happen when you stop up the exhaust. The Arctic regions are just that, the exhaust as the atmosphere is thinner and out going LWIR escapes more rapidly.

    In an active solar cycle the equatorial regions will be less affected so the throttle will have little impact, but as lower energy input is placed into the system the amount of energy escaping will exceed that of the input until equilibrium is reached. During solar maxima the exhaust is stopped up so to speak and heat will build up due to the inefficiency of the motor at higher temp.

    Maybe I’m just to simplistic but a plugged exhaust on my car sure makes it overheat.

    Apply for a grant, to do an exhaustive exhaust analysis. Call it “Banana in my Tailpipe”.

  93. Gerald Kelleher says:
    December 29, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Nag-dabbit. Stonehenge. One of those things that skritched in the back of the mind, but never got brought forward. Every time I saw a clip of the solstice line-up of the sunlight on the exact right gap in the stones, I sorta wondered, “Still?”, but never worked back to the (obviously flawed) assumptions that were causing my surprise.

    So. Precession is disproved by Stonehenge!! Glorious. Love it. A neolithic Davidic slingshot stone to the forehead of the modern Science Goliath!

    What say you, Leif?

  94. sophocles (December 28, 2013 at 11:30 pm) “The `throttle’ being over the tropical oceans is no big surprise. Is there any correlation with ocean currents? ie; could they assist with sensitivity, forcing, etc?”

    Here’s a paper about that: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/people/dezheng.sun/dspapers/science96/science-f.pdf “In this article we propose an alternative thermostat for the SST in the tropical Pacific Ocean: the dynamic coupling between the atmosphere and the ocean.”

    Basically the SST difference creates a surface wind which creates a current which limits the SST. The apply it to two large areas, the east and west Pacific so it is a large scale throttle not small scale like the thread is about. But it also helps explain why the strong positive feedbacks and momentum that characterize the El Nino (see http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/enso-basics-westerly-wind-bursts-initiate-an-el-nino/ ) could also override the thermostat suggested in the Sun/Liu paper.

  95. Box of Rocks says:
    December 29, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Both of the throttles (one throttle and one choke) are controlled by an outside influence, the sun. Both involve water in its various forms. One controls inflow and the other out flow. Pressure and temperature differential are what appear to make them work.

    It would not surprise me if the old two cylinder engine that my grandfather relied on for decades because it was reliable and constant are much like what WIllis is describing. The input is controlled by clouds and water vapor. The oceanic flows are the constant and their speeds regulate how fast the energy is transferred from the equator to the poles. The Ice is a buffer slowing LWIR out flow. As sea ice increases the LWIR decreases. As sea ice Decreases LWIR increases. Open sea water and wind should drive this fairly well.

    SO basically put, water is most certainly the controlling factor in it various forms. CO2 not so much as this trace gas can not overwhelm the thermostats discussed and from the geological record of very high CO2 levels in earths history when both glaciation and warm periods were present it would lend credence to the hypothesis.

  96. – Peter Miller says:
    December 29, 2013 at 1:41 am

    Perhaps what is so amazing is the stability of the Earth’s climate over the past 500 million years with the occasional near extinction event obviously excluded.

    There obviously has to be some kind of self-regulation mechanism for our planet’s temperature and climate.

    After all:

    1. We have been steadily moving further away from the Sun.–
    It’s been measured to be 15 cm per year.

    So 1.5 meters decade. 1.5 million meter in 10 million- or 1500 km.
    And in 500 million that’s is 75,000 km.
    Assuming measured accurately and a constant rate over 500 million years.

    “The current value stands at 149,597,870.696 kilometres.

    Having such a precise yardstick allowed Russian dynamicists Gregoriy A. Krasinsky and Victor A. Brumberg to calculate, in 2004, that the sun and Earth are gradually moving apart. It’s not much – just 15 cm per year – but since that’s 100 times greater than the measurement error, something must really be pushing Earth outward.”

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17228-why-is-the-earth-moving-away-from-the-sun.html#.UsDcZPtFbzY

    And if extend 5 billion years [which due many forces from large impactors over such
    time period] is probably a bad idea. But anyhow: 750,000 km
    So 149.5 million distance vs change of .75 million over 5 billion.
    Let’s go to: 4. Our planet has an elliptical orbit.
    Which varies by 147.1 million km to 152.1

    http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/

    So each we changing the distance to by 3.75 times more distance
    than earth *may* have move outwards in duration of 5 billion years.
    So this variation of 5 million km does have significant effect upon
    the amount energy reaching earth. According wiki:
    “The actual direct solar irradiance at the top of the atmosphere fluctuates by about 6.9% during a year (from 1.412 kW/m² in early January to 1.321 kW/m² in early July) due to the Earth’s varying distance from the Sun”

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

    So have average of 1361 watts, then due to distance it varies from 1321 to 1412 watts
    per square meter.
    And sun’s output and perhaps more important different amounts of say, it’s UV spectrum,
    effects this average of 1361 watts.

    -2. The Sun has been steadily increasing its energy output. Also, we can measure the change in energy output over the known 11 year cycle, but we do not know if there are more much longer cycles.-
    According to wiki, same article:
    “Solar output is nearly, but not quite, constant. Variations in total solar irradiance were too small to detect with technology available before the satellite era. Total solar output is now measured as varying (over the last three 11-year sunspot cycles) by approximately 0.1%; see solar variation for details”
    So 0.1% of 1000 watts is 1 watt per square meter. But according pseudoscience of AGW,
    1 watts per square meter is important. And if one has 1000 median, 0.1% variation is 999 to 1001 watts. Or if at closest of 1412 watts, it’s 1410.5 to 1413.4.
    So averaged swing of 1413.4 to 1319.68. A 93.7 watts per square range of variation of the sun
    light reaching top of Earth’s atmosphere.
    So a 90 watts per square meter range should large amount to the religious believers overly concerned about tenths of degrees in average temperatures.

    But I am sure whether sun has warmed significantly in last, oh say 500 million years. So I don’t know for example whether there has 1% increase or decrease in solar flux during this period.
    I seems plausible that there has been such levels of variation, but from indirect historical proxy records measuring the sun to accuracy better than 10 watts plus or minus doesn’t seem possible.
    I don’t even have confident that present satellite measurement is within error of 1 watt plus or minus.
    If we to do some exploration of the Moon, then I think more accurate proxies could achieved.
    One because moon isn’t filter through atmosphere with level of dust, that not sure we have yet measured accurately. Plus knowing Earth dust levels accurately over last 500 million years seems highly implausible. Someone please give the reference to such a important and laborious work.
    Second the Moon surface could describe as very static compared Earth- the 1960′s footprints
    are probably still fairly pristine- whether they will last 10 times longer than age of the Pyramids
    is debatable, though it seems their chance of them being discernible in 100,000 years, very much unlike anything exposed on the surface of Earth for such time periods. Or Lucy’s footprints were buried by volcanic ash within a short period of time.
    So given enough study, utilization of science, of the kind which are employed on Earth, were to be done on the Moon, it seem one could get a fairly accurate record of the Sun from the Moon over periods of hundreds of millions or billions of years.

    -3. The continents move around the face of our planet having a long term impact on climate.-

    Yes. There are why we has been in a Ice Box climate for 10+ millions years. The absurdity of thinking Earth is warmest it’s ever been is pathetic. In this ice box climate, we are about 10 C cooler in terms of average global temperature. Or having permanent polar ice caps is not been Earth’s “normal” climatic conditions. And idea this could change within a thousand years
    is indication of no understanding of Earth’s climate.

  97. Rhoda R says: December 29, 2013 at 3:02 pm
    Did the southern hemisphere go through an ice age with sheets of ice or was the ice age a northern hemisphere phenomenon?

    Mainly northern hemisphere … map here …. some in South America (wiki below)

    http://earth.rice.edu/mtpe/cryo/cryosphere/topics/ice_age.html

    South America
    In the Southern Hemisphere, the Patagonian Ice Sheet covered the whole southern third of Chile and adjacent areas of Argentina. On the western side of the Andes the ice sheet reached sea level as far north as in the 41 degrees south at Chacao Channel. The western coast of Patagonia was largely glaciated but some authors have pointed out the possible existence of ice-free refugia for some plant species. On the eastern side of the Andes glacier lobes occupied the depressions of Seno Skyring, Seno Otway, Inútil Bay and Beagle Channel. On the Straits of Magellan, ice reached as far as Segunda Angostura.

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

  98. Seems plausible but what is the explanation for the 500 year drop in temperature and 400mm drop in sea level from 1100AD?

  99. Gerald Kelleher
    I understand that one orbit of the earth around sun is equivilent to another rotation of the Earth on its axis this is important if we are calculating the days of the year, the fact is though I think that the earth is still inclined with respect to the sun and the axis of this inclination is at the equator when the earth completes one orbit of the sun.

  100. markx says:
    December 29, 2013 at 8:17 pm (replying to)

    Rhoda R says: December 29, 2013 at 3:02 pm
    Did the southern hemisphere go through an ice age with sheets of ice or was the ice age a northern hemisphere phenomenon?

    Mainly northern hemisphere … map here …. some in South America …

    You really have very, very little “land” in the Southern Hemisphere compared to equal latitudes up in the north. Chicago = 42 north, New York = 40.6, Toronto = 43.7, Cleveland = 41.4, Pittsburgh = 40.4, Albany = 42.6. Those cities, and all of the land between there extents, were covered with thousands of feet of solid ice for thousands of years. But little ice went much further south – about the bottom of Illinois (Cairo) at latitude 37 north.

    Contrast this with the Cape Horn (latitude 56 south) -> That’s the closest piece of land to the Antarctica. The very first piece that could be ice-covered. South of there – there is nothing but water (and the ice shelves of Antarctica, the sea ice around Antarctica, and the 14.0 million km^2 ice-covered rock of Antarctica). So, glacier ice covering anything in the south could only come down from the Andes mountains (like the Alpine glaciers extend down those mountains). They’d cover areas down from the Andes, but much less than the continent wide masses found up north. 40 south latitude cuts Argentina about in half, so the south half of that country might become ice-covered if the southern hemisphere were a mirror image of the north glaciers.

    Africa (Cape of Good Hope = 34 south) is another example of geography preventing massive glaciers from “creeping up” onto land. The African land masses start at 34 south, but up north, the glacier masses have ended at 37 north! You’d likely to have only glaciers coming from the very few south African mountains over there.

    If a “glacier mass” could extend north from Antarctica, there would be little evidence (compared to millions of years of debris dropping from icebergs sheared off of Antarctica, so we’d see no evidence even with sub-sea drilling cores. If you found glacier-dropped residue, how do you tell what dropped it? When it dropped maybe, but where did it come from?

  101. Re Gerald Kelleher says: December 29, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    This is re Newgrange, not Stonehenge, but there is similar information available for it, including how precession calculations helped pinpoint its dating to about 4200 BP.

    Once a year, at the winter solstice, the rising sun shines directly along the long passage into the chamber for about 17 minutes and illuminates the chamber floor.[5] Professor M. J. O’Kelly was the first person in modern times to observe this event on 21 December 1967.[28] The sun enters the passage through a specially contrived opening, known as a roofbox, directly above the main entrance. Although solar alignments are not uncommon among passage graves, Newgrange is one of few to contain the additional roofbox feature; (Cairn G at Carrowkeel Megalithic Cemetery is another, and it has been suggested that one can be found at Bryn Celli Ddu.[29]). The alignment is such that although the roofbox is above the passage entrance, the light hits the floor of the inner chamber. Today the first light enters about four minutes after sunrise, but calculations based on the precession of the Earth show that 5,000 years ago first light would have entered exactly at sunrise.

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

  102. “Maybe I’m just to simplistic but a plugged exhaust on my car sure makes it overheat.”
    Bill

    Ignorant , not simplistic. A car has an internal combustion engine, not a Carnot heat engine.

    “Add to this the fact the molecular weight of CO2 does not allow for it to be well mixed and thus at earths surface it is greater. ”

    Read up on how gas diffusion works before make such bold statements. Even in a closed container with no air currents CO2 will be well mixed in under 24h.

  103. phlogiston says:
    I like Willis’ masterful use of phase space. Finding pairs of carefully chosen climate parameters and plotting them against each other portrays a phase space, an illuminating technique.
    ===

    You cannot (usually) see the phase relationship if you remove the time element from a time series. You need to link the points in order not just throw up a scatter plot of dust.

    A scatter plot can reveal certain things but looses most of the phase relationship information.

    You are correct that phase is key to understanding how a system behaves. It is almost contradictory to remove the time element when investigating time series data. You certainly risk missing much of the information contained in the data if you remove a key part of it.

  104. Brian H

    You are truly unfortunate,precession goes from a long term axial trait to a long term orbital feature so your response that I am ‘disproving’ precession is the usual dismaying one.What you see as East to West precession of Uranus is actually the surface rotation of the planet to the central Sun just as the Earth,traveling around its orbital circumference,turns all locations of the Earth once to the Sun where the polar coordinates act like a beacon for that surface rotation.It is the only way to even discuss the polar day/night cycle and the seasons at lower latitudes where the two surface rotations combine.

    I am mindful that this is modifying the original proposals of ‘no tilt/no seasons’ for contemporary purposes as well as the explanation for the precession of the equinoxes along with appreciation of the exquisite astronomical monuments which still retain their alignments. In this era where people are screaming the sky is falling,it is so,so difficult to get people to widen their perspectives even when they have these amazing images in front of them which should draw attention to the necessary modifications and then draw new conclusions .

  105. Markx

    Have you any understanding of those images of Uranus and what looks like axial precession but really isn’t ?.

    Newgrange and Stonehenge are separated by 1000 years or roughly 5% of a precessional cycle yet both maintain a fix on the June/December Solstices. If axial precession was valid,either one or the other monuments would lose its alignment as the 5% difference translates into an 18 degree difference however these points are truly secondary to actual images of the single surface rotation to the central Sun aside from and in addition to daily rotation that the Earth has and clearly visible in those sequence of images of Uranus. I truly admire what our ancestors did in antiquity so these monuments are quite important astronomically but what can be said for this era who simply will look for an escape rather than take a wider view of the matter thereby arrive at the same conclusions.

    Axial inclination is required to define a climate spectrum between 0 degrees and 90 degrees rather than a dynamic to explain the seasons.The tendency is to explain the seasons by way of the Earth tilting towards and away from the Sun or some variant of that instead of looking at the polar day/night cycle and concentrating on what causes an observer at the South pole to experience one single night cycle of roughly 6 months of daylight followed by another 6 months of darkness. It is this and this alone which draws attention to the motion of the polar coordinates over the year and why axial precession as it is presently understood has to give.

  106. Some thoughts on albedo

    Great effort Willis!

    Of the 0.3 albedo or reflectivity, about 0.22 is due to clouds and 0.08 is due to the surface. Oceans and water tend to be under 0.04 so there is a massive increase where clouds are present. Clouds tend to run 0.4 to 0.8 albedo when present, some more some less. Fresh snow tends to have similar albedo but drops as it ages and as it turns to ice it gets lower. Dirty snow is also lower.
    Most land mass is in the NH but the difference in incoming solar insolation due to orbit occurs in the SH. The presence of much more snow during glaciation provides a short circuit to cloud effects -if it happens in a region where there is a thermostat effect.
    Another factor is that cloud albedo varies. Some clouds have higher albedo than others and that seems to be associated with particulate size. How clouds are formed seems to be a factor – enter the cosmic ray influence possibility. Hence, not only the surface area of clouds affect albedo but also the reflectivity has an effect.
    Finally, clouds do have a warming effect factor. If one does not take into account that the tropics clouds are daily cyclical beasts powered by sunlight, one can be lead to the error that increases in cloud cover will also lead to blocking of more radiated energy from the surface and tend to cancel out. Of course clouds formed and dissipated during times of insolation that are not around for night time surface radiation blocking have far less of this. Actual changes to the cloud’s albedo doesn’t factor in to this either.

  107. Throwing a high-five attcha, Willis! Fantastic stuff.
    Living in South Carolina for many years, the summer cloud behavior was just as Willis describes. Clouds progressively gathered, and rain came just as we got off work every day. It is also noteworthy that the hottest times are when there is a drought because not enough water to make those clouds (or cooling rain).

  108. Gerald Kelleher says: December 30, 2013 at 12:11 am

    Markx…..Have you any understanding of those images of Uranus and what looks like axial precession but really isn’t ?.

    Frankly, Gerald, I must admit, I’m baffled, and the more I read and re-read the above posts on this, the less I understand.
    I now have no idea whatsoever in regard to the point here. I’d ask you to enlighten me, but I fear the above-mentioned trend will only continue, and we are going way off topic.
    I think I will leave it at this point.

    Thanks and best regards,
    Mark

  109. Naw,I am going to leave it for somebody else to work out the details as the first reading would be plain enough. The use of Newgrange and Stonehenge Solstice alignments across their 1000 year separation would translate into an 18 degree difference if axial precession was valid so Newgrange would have lost its alignment by the time Stonehenge was being built if the following graphical description were true -

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/43/Earth_precession.svg

    As Newgrange is already through 20% of a precessional cycle ,the alignment would be off by roughly 73 day from the original solstice 5200 years ago at this stage but it isn’t hence it is worthwhile to revisit planetary dynamics behind the daily and annual temperature fluctuations.

    The real value of this approach is explaining the polar day/night cycle where it is not possible to rely on the inadequate ’tilt towards and away from the Sun’ explanations that have survived from the original work of Copernicus but it is not often people are focused on the orbital cause where a person standing on the South pole turns once to the central Sun as a component of the orbital behavior of the planet.

    A parting note – the only satisfaction I get is the attempt to raise the standard of discussion rather than disproving ideas and I take no joy in watching people who made poor predictions get caught in the very weather conditions they said would cease.I was not disproving precession,the actual cause of that features is a hugely arduous task which is devoid of any company but as presently understood is highly disruptive to climate studies.

  110. Feedback loops upon feedback loops …

    So, a cooling globe begat an intense Negative PDO. The PDO begat a Rex of a Block. The Block begat a “hot spot” over CA. The “hot spot” begat Warmistas to call for the heads of “Denialists” (see today’s SJ Mercury page, the article about the drought).

    I’m very looped now and have not had a single drop to drink!

    Happy New Year.

  111. Gerald Kelleher says:
    December 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Willis

    The maximum solar energy entering the Earth at any given time is determined by the ecliptic path of the planet and not the rotational line of the Equator.The Equator having the largest surface area across latitudes constantly passes through that ecliptic line for it makes no sense to say the Equator tilts towards and away from the Sun for clearly it does not ,neither do the poles or anywhere in between.

    My friend, I fear that is totally incomprehensible. The Equator doesn’t even have a surface area, it is an imaginary line.

    The maximum solar energy hitting the planet is at the perigee, and has nothing to do with the ecliptic path.

    And as to whether the poles point away or towards the sun, why does it make no sense to say something so obviously true as that?

    Sorry, but I can’t follow your thoughts.

    w.

  112. So Willis, if I tilt my head over at 23 1/2 degrees, a near sphere will look different ?? Dang ! They always look the same to me. Maybe Gerald has discovered something new.

  113. george e. smith says:
    December 30, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    So Willis, if I tilt my head over at 23 1/2 degrees, a near sphere will look different ?? Dang ! They always look the same to me. Maybe Gerald has discovered something new.

    Thanks, george. What I said was that if you tilt your head over at 23 1/2 degrees, the crown of your head will be pointing either towards or away from the sun … but I said nothing about whether a “near sphere will look different”, whatever that might mean.

    w.

  114. Willis:
    The temperature is reading from space. The satellite measures the actual temperature of the surface without that temperature also being blocked by the clouds that also reflect the incoming solar irradiance from getting to the surface? I think the answer is yes they can, but how do the satellites read the surface temperature through the clouds, and how do we know that they are not also reading the reflected energy too? I assume that the warm areas have increased albedo, and so the satellites perform some math to subtract the amount that’s being blocked by the albedo increase. It’d be interesting to know the surface temperature readings vs the reflected energy –and perhaps that is what indeed is being measured.

  115. I hope this above comment by me was a softball question. Tuthfully I do not actually know how the satellites calculate the surface temperature through the clouds.

  116. Willis

    The Equator represents not only a line on the Earth,it represents the maximum circumference in tandem with the maximum rotational speed of the Earth – there is nothing imaginary about it. The polar coordinates represent points on the Earth where daily rotational influences are zero hence the issue comes up as to what causes a person standing on the poles to experience 6 months of daylight followed by 6 months of darkness -there is nothing imaginary about these points either.

    The maximum energy entering the Earth regardless of its orbital position is always along the line of the ecliptic and at right angles to the circle of illumination like so -

    The Earth doesn’t tilt towards and away from the Sun as a means to explain annual temperature fluctuations at different latitudes insofar as this is loading daily rotation with an action it does have,however.It has a motion than looks like axial precession when seen from a distance just as those images of Uranus demonstrate but what it is really happening is that all locations on Earth turn once to the central Sun and the polar coordinates are merely a window or beacon into that single surface rotation which runs East to West on Uranus -

    Go ahead,try the same motion with the Earth and you will get a better idea why temperatures fluctuate across an orbital period as opposed to the Equator tilting towards and away from the Sun even though people should know that the planet maintains the same daily orientation in space just as Uranus does. -

  117. Oops bad typo -

    “The Earth doesn’t tilt towards and away from the Sun as a means to explain annual temperature fluctuations at different latitudes insofar as this is loading daily rotation with an action it does have”

    That should read,the Earth doesn’t tilt towards and away from the Sun as the tilting action doesn’t happen,what happens is that all locations on Earth turn once to the central Sun along the line of the ecliptic where the axis is defined running North to South and in line with the circle of illumination -

    Of course unfortunate people can manage to get the circle of illumination to tilt as demonstrated by the Wikipedia article but it should strike the eyes and the mind as hideous -

    Expecting students to swallow that rubbish is dismaying when relatively simply motions seen in those images of Uranus where the planet turn South to North due to daily rotation and East to West as a component of orbital motion do the job right .

    Sorry for the poor proofreading.

  118. Mario Lento says:
    December 31, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Willis:
    The temperature is reading from space.

    If you mean the temperatures I’m using in this analysis, no, these are from surface measurements. The satellite is measuring up- and down-welling long- and short-wave radiation.

    w.

  119. George Smith

    Want to teach students how this works then take a broom handle to represent the constant axial orientation of the Earth as it travels around the Sun and any object to represent the Sun.

    Point the broom handle at any external point and walk/orbit around the central object Sun where the line of your body represents the ecliptic axis .The broom handle represents the Lat/Long system at 23 1/2 degrees to the ecliptic axis in the actual image while the line of your body represents the North/South axis of the ecliptic axis while walking/orbiting along the plane of the Earth’s motion through space and around the Sun.

    In order to keep the broom handle fixed to the same external point (representing fixed orientation towards Polaris),the student discovers that as they walk/orbit the central object,all points in their body face the central object/Sun once across an orbital circuit and this is what you see in those images of Uranus -

    I am in danger of overselling this but the ’tilting’ Earth is a hard indoctrination to break.

  120. Gerald Kelleher says:
    December 31, 2013 at 12:48 am

    Willis

    The Equator represents not only a line on the Earth,it represents the maximum circumference in tandem with the maximum rotational speed of the Earth – there is nothing imaginary about it. …

    Gerald, if the Equator’s not imaginary, then it must be real. Do you have any photographs of it?

    Seriously, though, I’m not at all clear what your point is. Yes, the axis of the earth doesn’t tilt back and forth … so what? And what does it have to do with the thermostatic throttle?

    At present, you seem to be fighting a fight against someone other than myself. I don’t care whether you use a geostationary frame of reference, or a heliocentric frame of reference. Based on one, the earth’s has no tilt and that never changes (except for precession). Based on the other frame of reference, the poles tilt so that the north pole is alternately visible and not visible from the sun. Both frames of reference have their uses, you can pick one or the other based on your needs.

    But so what? What does this have to do with the subject under discussion?

    Sorry to be so blunt, but truly … what does this have to do with me or my post?

    Thanks,

    w.

  121. Gerald Kelleher says:
    December 31, 2013 at 12:48 am

    The maximum energy entering the Earth regardless of its orbital position is always along the line of the ecliptic and at right angles to the circle of illumination like so – [link]

    Gerald, that is totally unclear. Your link doesn’t help. You say the maximum energy is “along the line” of the ecliptic … but the ecliptic is a circle. And you say the max energy is “at right angles to the circle of illumination” … what does that mean? It sounds like it means that the energy is at a maximum where the sun is shining … but if so, while true, that means nothing.

    In any case, the problem with your underlying assertion is that the total energy entering the Earth depends, not on the ecliptic, but on the distance from the earth to the sun. This is at a minimum in January and a maximum in July, with a difference (from memory) of about 28 W m-2 from max to min. The maximum energy enters the earth in January, at perigee (closest approach to the sun).

    And perigee has nothing at all to do with either the ecliptic or the “circle of illumination”

    w.

    PS—Once again … what does this have to do with a tropical thermostat?

  122. Your statement is this -

    “Clearly, then, such a throttle mechanism exists. It is also where we would expect to find it, located near the Equator where the maximum energy is entering the system.”

    This is incorrect,the stable maximum energy input ,regardless of where the Earth is in its orbit, is along the line of the ecliptic and this is why we have the seasonal temperature fluctuations across latitudes. This is literally explaining the seasons in a new and non aggressive way,whether it is accepted or not is a different matter.

    If people wish to be experts in climate,a good start would be to revisit the cause of temperature fluctuations at different latitudes as the Earth orbits the Sun otherwise known as the seasons.

  123. Willis

    The total energy budget from solar radiation may have a minor fluctuation due to the variation in orbital distance from the Sun as a side issue however the maximum energy received on the surface is always dictated by the area of the surface which is turned to the Sun as a component of its orbital motion.

    You can tell where the Earth is in its orbital position by the location of the polar coordinates to the circle of illumination and ecliptic axis as the North/South poles are turned to the Sun each year hence 6 months of darkness followed by 6 months of daylight -

    No point walking on eggshells here,if this community doesn’t wish to focus on the orbital day/night cycle and its cause,including the annual temperature fluctuations caused by that component of orbital motion then there is little I can do about that. The major factor for the seasonal fluctuations in temperatures is not the inclination to solar radiation but the length of time any given latitudes spends in solar radiation or the orbital shadow of the planet..

  124. Gerald Kelleher says:
    December 31, 2013 at 1:41 am

    Your statement is this -

    “Clearly, then, such a throttle mechanism exists. It is also where we would expect to find it, located near the Equator where the maximum energy is entering the system.”

    This is incorrect,the stable maximum energy input ,regardless of where the Earth is in its orbit, is along the line of the ecliptic and this is why we have the seasonal temperature fluctuations across latitudes.

    I think I see the problem. My statement referred to the annual average energy, while your statement refers to the instantaneous maximum energy. Your claim, which is true, is that the most energy at any instant is absorbed directly under the sun. This is true, but not material to the question of where to locate a regulatory mechanism.

    My claim, however, relates to the long-term location of a regulatory mechanism. It is located somewhere around where the long-term average incoming energy is near the maximum.

    w.

  125. Gerald Kelleher says:
    December 31, 2013 at 2:03 am

    … No point walking on eggshells here,if this community doesn’t wish to focus on the orbital day/night cycle and its cause,including the annual temperature fluctuations caused by that component of orbital motion then there is little I can do about that.

    The cause of the day-night cycle? You think I should focus on the cause of the day-night cycle?

    My friend, I have navigated across the Pacific using celestial navigation with a sextant. There is little you can teach me about the day-night cycle, or about how the sun moves through the sky.

    The major factor for the seasonal fluctuations in temperatures is not the inclination to solar radiation but the length of time any given latitudes spends in solar radiation or the orbital shadow of the planet.

    Let me simplify your statement. Both the height of the sun above the horizon ( what you call “ inclination to solar radiation“) and the length of day (what you call “time any given latitudes spends in solar radiation”) affect the seasonal fluctuations in temperature.

    However, both quantities are mathematically related, one can be calculated from the other, and both can be calculated for any given date and location on the planet.

    So it is not correct to say that one is a “major factor” and the other is not. They are two facets of the same thing. Both are caused by the fact that the axis of the earth is not perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic, which gives us seasons with varying solar elevations and day lengths … but again …

    So what? What is it that you think we don’t understand about seasons with varying day lengths? And how does that affect the climate in other than the ways we all know about?

    w.

  126. Willis

    The maximum solar energy received by a specific area of the Earth’s surface is defined by a line that runs at right angles to the North/South line which runs parallel to the circle of illumination in that image -

    As the Earth moves along the ecliptic plane it also turns once to the central Sun thereby changing the relationship between the length of time any given latitude spends in solar radiation or orbital darkness.The Earth does not tilt toward and away from the Sun or any variant on that theme,it has a separate surface rotation that is best understood in isolation at the North/South poles as the single day/night cycle experienced over a year.The guys stuck in the sea ice don’t have to worry about darkness setting in because the orbital position of the Earth has orientated the surface to the central Sun in such a way that their latitudes receive constant radiation from the Sun until around the Equinox when that polar latitude turns through the circle of illumination and into orbital night.

    The idea of ‘axial precession’ is gone as it is disruptive to the perspective which recognizes two surface rotations to the central Sun instead of the single daily rotation that is presently recognized.The introduction of a second orbital surface rotation relieves the stress in loading daily rotation and its traits with so many causes and effects and especially what the degree of planetary inclination actually does. Precession exists of course but its 25900 year cycle goes to being a long term orbital trait rather than a long term axial one.

    There is no need to taunt or insist that unless the polar day/night cycle and its cause is explained properly,all bets on climate research are off.

  127. Willis

    I am talking about the motions of the Earth,while you are giving geocentric descriptions of the motion of the Sun above the horizon and I am not going to be dragged into a discussion on putting words in my mouth.

    A navigator would know that the 24 hour AM/PM system in tandem with the Lat/Long system assigns a maximum Equatorial speed of 1037.5 miles per hour so that the Earth turns once in a 24 hour cycle with all its effects such as daily temperature rises and falls which keep instep day in and day out.

    The jokers in the late 17th century decided to model the motions of the Earth based on a rotating celestial sphere framework and insist that the Earth doesn’t turn once in 24 hours,ignore all the effects and experiences of one rotation in 24 hours and rig everything to suit the model for the Earth’s rotation in 23 hours 56 minutes 04 seconds.As a human being you should be appalled at the attempt to create an imbalance between rotations and 24 hour cycles insofar as even the cause of the daily temperature fluctuations are compromised as a fact but the fact is you are not and won’t be. So students have to suffer through mindnumbing ‘facts’ that belong in an asylum because people do not want to get their act straight in respect to the motions of the Earth -

    ” Multiplying the value in rad/s by Earth’s equatorial radius of 6,378,137 m (WGS84 ellipsoid) (factors of 2π radians needed by both cancel) yields an equatorial speed of 465.1 m/s, 1,674.4 km/h or 1,040.4 mi/h. Some sources state that Earth’s equatorial speed is slightly less, or 1,669.8 km/h. This is obtained by dividing Earth’s equatorial circumference by 24 hours. However, the use of only one circumference unwittingly implies only one rotation in inertial space,”

    Some sources indeed !,the sprawling history of the Longitude problem and how watches and the 24 hour system mesh with the Lat/Long system dictate an Equatorial speed of 1669.8 km /h so giving the Earth’s Equator “two circumferences” can only come from the same type of people who can just as easily turn ‘global warming’ into ‘climate change’ when it suits.

    The question still stands – the people on that stranded ship are close to the South pole where they experience a single day/night cycle over the course of a year.Before people mock their predicament perhaps they should look at our own where not even the lockstep between one rotation and all the effects within a 24 hour cycle are rejected and that is more than sad.

  128. Gerald Kelleher said:
    December 31, 2013 at 1:41 am

    “If people wish to be experts in climate,a good start would be to revisit the cause of temperature fluctuations at different latitudes as the Earth orbits the Sun otherwise known as the seasons.”

    At the extremes there is only one season, bloody cold(Dark or Light) at the poles and bloody hot(wet or dry) at the equator. The tropics have two seasons hot/wet and warm/dry. Only the middle of the temperate zones can claim to have four seasons! Where I live at 42% South we have three, freezing(damp), cold(wet) and warm (dry)! ;-)

    Out of interest, my town broke its cold temperature record and nearby the coldest temperature ever recorded for the State was equalled this year!

  129. Willis writes “Then, on average around 11 am, within a half hour or so the albedo takes a huge jump as the cumulus clouds emerge and form a fully-developed cumulus regime.”

    Had you thought about looking for a trend in the times of onset? There may not be enough satellite data for that though…

  130. Scott Bennett

    You got it backwards – at the Equator they experience no appreciable difference in daylight/darkness throughout the year while the poles the difference are extreme and from a separate cause to daily rotation,either way,the Earth’s surface must turn to the central Sun to cause the experience of the day/night cycle in both cases . Had the Earth a zero degree inclination,the surface conditions of the entire planet would be the same as experienced at the Equator presently in terms of no seasonal variations in daylight or darkness. It this respect an Equatorial climate can be considered to have one season or no season as it makes no difference in terms of daylight/darkness when you live on the Equator.

    We use the term ‘climate’ in all sorts of ways from maritime climate to tropical climate to micro climate and no objections to that however for astronomical purposes the terms become more definite and only exist as an Equatorial climate (0 degree inclination) or a polar climate (90 degree inclination).

    There is a bit of a mess going on with planetary dynamics ,although there is nothing exceptionally difficult in assigning cause and effect to each individual motion,there is no real move in that direction to clear up the mess up to and including what causes the temperatures to rise and fall within a 24 hour period.

    I have said what I came to say and can’t bear having people put words in my mouth,after all,the dispute is as much about integrity in dealing with common material than scoring points of right and wrong.

  131. TimTheToolMan says:
    December 31, 2013 at 3:15 am
    Willis writes “Then, on average around 11 am, within a half hour or so the albedo takes a huge jump as the cumulus clouds emerge and form a fully-developed cumulus regime.”

    Had you thought about looking for a trend in the times of onset? There may not be enough satellite data for that though…
    ++++++++
    If I recall, Willis has done A LOT of research into the times of onset. His studies on this subject are fascinatingly brilliant, and are in the WUWT archives.

  132. Gerald Kelleher says:
    December 31, 2013 at 3:30 am
    Scott Bennett

    You got it backwards
    +++++++++
    Gerald, respectfully, your equator fetish is getting a bit nasty. If you were spot on, I’d not respond here. But Scott Bennett got nothing backwards. Again, you read into what he wrote and saw a reason to attack him needlessly. Check again, there’s more the equator than you understand. If you could only see the equator through your fetish you’d probably have a lot to offer to the conversations. There are seasons in many equatorial regions which range from dry to wet regardless of what you think you know.

  133. Mario

    Respectfully,there is nothing nicer than to look at an actual town on the Earth’s Equator and affirm that there is ,in terms of seasonal fluctuations in daylight/darkness, only one season or no seasons if you prefer,you can see this in the astronomical almanac on this website -

    http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/hdfForecast?query=Pontianak

    At the poles there is only 6 months of daylight and 6 months of darkness due to a separate cause and this too you can read from the same almanac -

    http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=Amundsen%E2%80%93Scott%20South%20Pole%20Station

    The cause of the two day/night cycles are dynamically different but it is not often people actually dwell on the North/South pole day/night cycle and the necessary separation from daily rotation and the more familiar day/night cycle at our latitudes.

    The only way out of the ‘global warming’ mess is to raise the standard for climate research rather than demean the opposition and there I take my stand.

  134. Gerald Kelleher says:
    December 31, 2013 at 4:06 am
    Mario

    Respectfully,there is nothing nicer than to look at an actual town on the Earth’s Equator and affirm that there is ,in terms of seasonal fluctuations in daylight/darkness, only one season or no seasons if you prefer,you can see this in the astronomical almanac on this website -

    http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/hdfForecast?query=Pontianak

    At the poles there is only 6 months of daylight and 6 months of darkness due to a separate cause and this too you can read from the same almanac -

    http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=Amundsen%E2%80%93Scott%20South%20Pole%20Station

    The cause of the two day/night cycles are dynamically different but it is not often people actually dwell on the North/South pole day/night cycle and the necessary separation from daily rotation and the more familiar day/night cycle at our latitudes.

    The only way out of the ‘global warming’ mess is to raise the standard for climate research rather than demean the opposition and there I take my stand.
    +++++++++++
    Please focus. I correctly stated to you: “But Scott Bennett got nothing backwards… There are seasons in many equatorial regions which range from dry to wet…” You’re not addressing anything he said. And your conclusion is not right.

    Your last sentence says it clearly to me that your stand should be based on facts of the argument. However, your facts led you to quite an incorrect conclusion. You toss in something about the equator and fail to understand that your guesses are wrong. That does not help the cause –being blatantly wrong. If you would spend more time thinking about what was being said, you’d not jump to incorrect conclusions.

    I try to counter the global warming mess with fact and truth. We have that on our side regarding the alarmists untruthful meme.

  135. Mario writes “If I recall, Willis has done A LOT of research into the times of onset. ”

    Well I’m reasonably familiar with Willis’ work over the years but I don’t recall him ever quantifying the onset times using the CERES data.

    Still… I’m on an awkward tablet with poor internet right now and can’t be bothered doing searches so I’m sure he’ll link if he has.

  136. Gerald Kelleher says:
    “Respectfully,there is nothing nicer than to look at an actual town on the Earth’s Equator and affirm that there is ,in terms of seasonal fluctuations in daylight/darkness, only one season or no seasons if you prefer..”

    Equatorial locations have two warm seasons, at both equinoxes, that’s when the Sun is directly overhead at midday.

  137. The nature of the thread focus on astronomical inputs using the characteristics of the Earth’s motions which coral climate observations into fluctuations caused by those motions.For me this is just working language and if people have not yet become familiar with the language then they can hardly be hostile when I point out easy to understand examples such as the conditions set at the region of the Equator where daylight/darkness asymmetries are minimal whereas the polar day/night cycle is extreme and from a different dynamical cause.

    I am even big enough to admit that perhaps I am not the man for the job of describing these motions but they are there and they completely alter how we look at the seasons and what causes the temperatures to go up and down across an orbital circuit.

    This business of the ‘sun being overhead ‘ each day is from a different era,the Equinox in dynamical terms are when the polar latitudes turn through the circle of illumination and the respective poles descend into orbital darkness or emerge as orbital dawn,one of the great astronomical events of the year.The Earth doesn’t tilt sideways to the Sun at the Equinox no more than it tilts towards or away from the Sun at the Solstices,it has a magnificent surface rotation emerging from its orbital behavior and I would like people to take account of this 100% observational certainty -

    At the solstices,Uranus receives the maximum solar radiation along the plane of its ecliptic motion and not at its Equator hence it has a polar climate,were Uranus or the Earth to have zero inclination and the rotational Equator and the ecliptic Equator were coincident,all areas on the surface would experience Equatorial conditions hence an Equatorial climate.

    It has little to do with hot/cold or wet/dry,just generalized rules set down by two surface rotations to the central Sun and there for people to work with.

  138. My dear Mario

    The maximum energy entering the Earth’s surface in terms of solar radiation would be from a line drawn at right angles to the North/South line you see running parallel with the circle of illumination and that energy remains constant along that line even if the Earth does increase or decrease its distance from the Sun -

    The Lat/Long system imposed on the daily rotational characteristics of the Earth turn through that maximum energy input over the course of a year but it takes a fine sense of judgment to mark the changes.It is much easier to look at what happens with Uranus first and then return to the Earth a lot wiser.

    The New Year always brings a new hope and I wouldn’t stand in the way of a new explanation for the seasons or why natural noon cycles vary from the same dynamical mechanisms.With all creative and productive insights it goes to help those who cannot help themselves and need assistance in understanding the relationship between dynamics and terrestrial effects rather than trying to impress people. Some people may surprise themselves by getting a glimpse of the main points and congratulations to them as my descriptions and my proofreading skills are terrible.This is due to a natural situation where people are either naturally talented at interpretation/intuition while others are not,much like what Pascal noted -

    “The reason, therefore, that some intuitive minds are not mathematical is that they cannot at all turn their attention to the principles of mathematics. But the reason that mathematicians are not intuitive is that they do not see what is before them, and that, accustomed to the exact and plain principles of mathematics, and not reasoning till they have well inspected and arranged their principles, they are lost in matters of intuition where the principles do not allow of such arrangement. They are scarcely seen; they are felt rather than seen; there is the greatest difficulty in making them felt by those who do not of themselves perceive them. These principles are so fine and so numerous that a very delicate and very clear sense is needed to perceive them, and to judge rightly and justly when they are perceived, without for the most part being able to demonstrate them in order as in mathematics, because the principles are not known to us in the same way, and because it would be an endless matter to undertake it. We must see the matter at once, at one glance, and not by a process of reasoning, at least to a certain degree. And thus it is rare that mathematicians are intuitive and that men of intuition are mathematicians, because mathematicians wish to treat matters of intuition mathematically and make themselves ridiculous, wishing to begin with definitions and then with axioms, which is not the way to proceed in this kind of reasoning. Not that the mind does not do so, but it does it tacitly, naturally, and without technical rules; for the expression of it is beyond all men, and only a few can feel it.” Pascal

    The mathematical modelers tend to ignore physical considerations and that is why there is such a clash of cultures in this thread and why they wouldn’t be able to understand that Pascal uses the word ‘intuitive’ in the sense of interpretative talents rather than ‘guesswork’ as mathematicians imagine.

    Over and out.

  139. Gerald Kelleher says:
    “For me this is just working language and if people have not yet become familiar with the language then they can hardly be hostile when I point out easy to understand examples such as the conditions set at the region of the Equator where daylight/darkness asymmetries are minimal..”

    It’s always close to a 12 hour day at the equator, but at the solstices the Sun is 23.5° away from the zenith at midday, so it does a lower arc through the sky.

  140. “””””……Gerald Kelleher says:

    December 31, 2013 at 1:11 am

    George Smith

    Want to teach students how this works then take a broom handle to represent the constant axial orientation of the Earth as it travels around the Sun and any object to represent the Sun……”””””

    Well Gerald, the exact path of the sun across the earth surface is, I am sure, an interesting subject, but as I see it, slightly more than one half of the earth surface is in sunlight continuously (or izzat continually). There is never less than half the earth exposed to sunlight at any time. Sure the amount of sunlight varies slightly over the course of a year, but averaged over a year orbit of the sun, the total solar energy that impinges on the earth does not change perceptibly, and from day to day, the total energy received changes very little. Exactly where it reaches the surface may change slowly over the year, which will affect the weather, I suppose the very slight non-sphericity of the earth will cause the exact solar flux intercepted to change as the earth rotates daily; but I have never seen any graph that shows how much it changes throughout the day and throughout the year. And I don’t see how the axis tilt alters the fact that about half the surface is continually in daylight, every day of the year.

  141. “””””……Willis Eschenbach says:

    December 30, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    george e. smith says:
    December 30, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    So Willis, if I tilt my head over at 23 1/2 degrees, a near sphere will look different ?? Dang ! They always look the same to me. Maybe Gerald has discovered something new.

    Thanks, george. What I said was that if you tilt your head over at 23 1/2 degrees, the crown of your head will be pointing either towards or away from the sun … but I said nothing about whether a “near sphere will look different”, whatever that might mean…….”””””

    Well I guess I didn’t make myself clear. As seen from the sun, earth looks like a near sphere, that changes in apparent angular size from day to day, but the sun has no knowledge of the axial tilt of earth’s rotation axis, so it just goes on illuminating slightly more than half the earth surface area all the time, regardless of any axis tilt, and delivering the same solar energy supply rate adjusted for earth orbital radius change throughout the year.

  142. Gerald Kelleher says:
    December 31, 2013 at 8:17 am
    My dear Mario
    +++++++
    Gerald: I’m not going to get distracted commenting about your off-subject interests, or read a diatribe on equator material on this post.

    You argue with points that are not being made; make assertions which are patently false, and then shift to talking about the equator.

    Perhaps you have lots of good information, but your conclusions start out with the wrong answer, and then you spiral down some path off in the weeds.

  143. George Smith

    When I see an attempt to explain the polar day/night cycle where a person standing on the South pole once to the Sun each year then I know people are serious about climate.The maximum radiation entering the system is always orthogonal to the circle of illumination hence it would be nice to encounter the North/South ecliptic axis around which the entire planet turns to the central Sun -

    Without the orbital component and the proper explanation for the seasons you are all wasting your time and annoying the public in the process with the nonsense that is passed off as climate today.

  144. My dear Mario

    The maximum energy entering the Earth’s atmosphere at any given time is dictated by the orientation of half the surface to solar radiation from a line drawn North to South and running with the circle of illumination so that the latitudinal temperature fluctuations known as the seasons are heavily dependent on how where the Earth is in its orbit,and more importantly,where the rotational poles are position in respect to the circle of illumination.

    The so-called global warming controversy has all the hallmarks of an older scientific controversy and is taking the exact same route in how it plays out.The climategate affair told you that not even when it is demonstrated conclusively that convictions were driven by variable hypothesis and rigging observations to suit unwarranted conclusions,the driving force was not science but politics and it remains so to this day. The politics, in this case, is modeling itself and these guys would still believe in ‘global warming’ and all its contrived notions were the ice sheets to extend to New York or Sydney rather than giving up modeling for genuine interpretation.

    You guys are so wound up with the opposition that you may miss out on what is actually before you when it comes to explaining both daily and annual temperature fluctuations and that the present explanations are simply not good enough or dysfunctional. So,when properly understood,you wake up in 2014 to two individual surfaces rotations of the Earth to the central Sun in order to make sense of why the temperatures are the way they are on the surface at specific orbital points for the heat budget through the year is constant but because of the relationship between daily and orbital components,different latitudes experience that expenditure in different ways.

    I may have oversold the issue already and that blame I take upon myself,all the same,it is new and raises lovely issues brought up by ancient Solstice alignments,the history of navigation and timekeeping,the aggressive modeling in the late 17th century that caused the present difficulties and so many other topics that widen the perspective and make climate research an exciting and adventurous affair rather than the sullen,dreary and mean-spirited entity it has become.

  145. George

    You are spot on.An observer on the Sun sees the full face of the Earth and no orbital shadow where the Arctic pole is located 23 1/2 degrees South of the circle of radiation which divides daylight from orbital darkness -

    The hypothetical observer on the Sun would see the rotational pole turn and disappear into the orbital shadow at the Equinox and simultaneously watch the opposite pole which is 23 1/3 degrees North of the Southern face turn into solar radiation.

    From a rotational point of view,the entire planet would appear to gyrate over the course of an entire 365 degree circuit for even at the Equator where daylight and darkness lengths are equal,the Sun rises and sets at different points on the horizon as the entire Lat/Long system is carried around in a circle to the central Sun. Applying that principle to the image above will give a graphic description of your statement.

  146. I would just like to necro for a moment and point out that Gravity has final say in all temperature matters on the planet. Just as you cannot “terraform” another body without giving it an earthlike mass, you cannot change the temperature range of a given atmosphere without a MAJOR change in its chemical makeup or a change in the mass of the planet beneath.

  147. Gerald, here’s my problem.

    You keep saying that the maximum solar radiation occurs directly under the sun. Of course, you can’t say it that simply. You say it is on the “line of the ecliptic” and “orthogonal to the circle of illumination” … which means directly under the sun.

    To which I have replied, and reply again … so what? I mean that seriously. If I accept every single one of your premises, what difference will it make to my description and analysis of the thermostatic throttle above?

    w.

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