It’s The Circumpolar Vortex Not The Polar Vortex And Other PR Deceptions

Note: the image below is an animation, on some browsers you may have to click on it to get it to animate.

Circumpolar_vortex_animation

Above: Image from Unisys showing the circumpolar vortex during the last big outbreak and decay in the CONUS. Animation by Anthony h/t to Scott Sabol Fox 8 for the source.

Guest essay by Dr. Tim Ball

Recently Talk Show host Conan O’Brien played a compilation of TV news people all making essentially the same comment. They were using a phrase prepared by some central PR agency, something like their subscription to a news agency like Associated Press (AP).

It’s orchestration of a message using artificial words or phrases to control and promote misinformation and deception. A good example was the use of the word “glitch” in reference to the abject failure of the Affordable Care Act web site. Sometimes the words are created, to marginalize and denigrate a group; “birther” is a person who questions the President Obama’s resume. Climate has two prime examples; Global Warming Skeptic and Climate Change Denier. They are forms of collective personal attacks, if that isn’t a contradiction.

Manufactured terminology appeared in climate in conjunction with its use as a political vehicle. Catch phrases appeared that created false, but threatening images such as the Greenhouse Effect (Artificial Heat) or the Ozone Hole (Leaking). Mechanisms of climate change were presented as something new even though they were well known and in the literature for decades. The idea that they were “new” played into the deliberate attempt to link them to human causes. I recall when El Nino first appeared in the public forum because it moved north and impacted California in 1983. Most thought it was a new phenomenon, therefore caused by humans. The common denominator of most environmental and climate science of the last 40 years is the determination to find a human cause for everything. The IPCC ensured this because the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) limited their research by definition to human causes of climate change.

The latest example of phrase creation is the resurrection by Obama’s Science Czar John Holdren of the term “polar vortex”. It’s resurrected because the term was used by Time magazine in 1974 when they explained global cooling as follows,

“Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds — the so-called circumpolar vortex — that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world.”

In January 2014 they said

“It may well be that global warming could be making the occasional bout of extreme cold weather in the U.S. even more likely. Right now much of the U.S. is in the grip of a polar vortex, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a whirlwind of extremely cold, extremely dense air that forms near the poles.”

Notice the first says “circumpolar vortex” and the second “polar vortex”. Holdren attributed the recent cold spell to his invented term of “Polar Vortex” and took the unusual step of producing, a two minute video. It only served to illustrate his ignorance. He is a master at changing terminology such as his introduction of “climate disruption” as adjectives ‘warming’ and ‘change’ lose their effect. Disruption implies it is anomalous or new. It doesn’t matter if the term or the explanation is wrong, the goal is to get a headline and imply a human cause; with Polar Vortex it worked well.

Originally the Circumpolar Vortex (CV) was the middle latitude wind that blew around the Poles from west to east. The faster moving segments with speeds above 30 m/sec (108 kph), were designated as Jet Streams. Over time the entire circulation became the Jet Stream. The CV is also called the westerlies referring to the overall direction of flow of winds and weather systems in the middle latitudes (35 to 65°). The CV is a strong wind at altitude first identified by pressurized US B29 (Flying Fortress) bombers going to bomb Japan.

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Figure 1

As early as 1925 Carl Rossby began his study of the Polar Front, the boundary between the cold polar air and the warmer tropical air. (Figure 1) Temperatures across the Front are the greatest so above the surface, away from the effect of friction, they combine to create the CV. Waves in the CV determine the shape of the Polar Front and the associated surface weather patterns.

The Front is coincident with the boundary between surplus and deficit energy or line of Zero Energy Balance (ZEB) (Figure 2). By 1946 Rossby identified the large planetary waves given his name (Figure 4).

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Figure 2

The challenging issue in the early days was to explain the development of sinuosity in the Vortex. Apparently, if a liquid or gas flows through a uniform medium it will begin as a straight line flow and develop a sine wave pattern. This applies to rivers flowing through sediment to develop meander waves and also to the sinuous pattern of the Gulf Stream (water through water). The CV is air flowing through air.

The CV as upper level winds are affected by the high mountain chains that run north/south across their flow, such as the Andes in the Southern Hemisphere Andes and Rockies. Standing waves develop in the flow downwind of these obstacles. Since the latitude of the CV moves north and south with the seasons the influence and downwind effect varies. For example, when the CV crosses the Rockies in central Alberta a very confused turbulent pattern develops downwind making forecasting very difficult. In Alberta they say only a fool or a newcomer tries to predict the weather.

The strength of the CV is different between the hemispheres because of the land/ocean distribution. In the Southern Hemisphere it is more clearly defined and the winds much stronger because you have a very cold Antarctica surrounded by continuous open warmer southern oceans. This is an important difference in the pattern of distribution of ozone. In the Northern Hemisphere it is an Arctic Ocean surrounded by land creating a very different juxtaposition.

A recent paper by Barnes et.al., discussed at WUWT claims there is no pattern, which implies no cause/effect, between atmospheric blocking, Arctic warming and sea ice conditions. They wrote

“…an increase in blocking could mean an increase in weather extremes as Arctic sea ice continues to decline. However, both observational and modeling studies suggest that any potential link between sea ice and midlatitude weather may be masked by internal variability.” and, “…the link between recent Arctic warming and increased Northern Hemisphere blocking is currently not supported by observations.”.

As usual the data base is completely inadequate in space and time as their diagrams illustrate. More problematic is the implication that sea ice is a cause of blocking and the changing wind conditions determine sea ice patterns. This was the situation that resulted in the dramatic change of ice conditions in 1816 during the cold temperatures associate with the Dalton Minimum. The extreme Meridional Flow was caused by the eruption of Tambora as we determined at the 1992 conference in Ottawa. It was also finally acknowledged by NASA as the major cause of changing ice conditions in 2007.

Nghiem said the rapid decline in winter perennial ice the past two years was caused by unusual winds. “Unusual atmospheric conditions set up wind patterns that compressed the sea ice, loaded it into the Transpolar Drift Stream and then sped its flow out of the Arctic,” he said. When that sea ice reached lower latitudes, it rapidly melted in the warmer waters.

This problem of inferring that surface conditions cause upper air patterns is prevalent in current climate science. The classic example is the weakening and even reversal of the subtropical easterlies that are the primary initiating factor in the El Nino/La Nina pattern. What causes the change in these upper level winds?

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Figure 3

One way the surface affects conditions is the air sitting on the ground takes on the characteristics of the area. Historically this was known as the “Air Mass” system. For example, air that sat over cold snow covered Arctic land became a continental Arctic (cA) air mass (Figure 3). It was the same as the recent outbreak of Arctic air in eastern North America.

Marcel Leroux revisited this process in his 2005 book Global Warming: Myth or Reality? The Erring Ways of Climatology. Leroux simply renamed the cA air mass the Mobile Polar High (MPH). The important point is the air moves because of the upper flow enhanced by the density of the air.

Two basic patterns can occur in the CV, described as Zonal and Meridional (Figure 4). Zonal gives relatively stable weather in the middle latitudes with generally prevailing southwest winds in summer and northwest in winter. Meridional flow brings more north/south winds, variable weather especially of temperature and precipitation. So far the focus has been on averages and trends, but we must start considering variation. It is changing was Meridional Flow asserts itself. This is one positive side of the increased variability of weather that cooled Washington and forced Holdren to create the “Polar Vortex”. People are so conditioned most assume a new terminology means it is a result of human activities. This is possible because most are unaware of the historical patterns associate with cooling an Meridional flow.

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Figure 4

The number of waves around the complete Vortex varies, but generally creates two groups of Rossby Waves; 1-4 with Zonal conditions or 5 – 8 with Meridional flow. The length of time over which each can last varies but can persist for decades, which is a major reason why the paper by Barnes is inadequate and the 30 – year normal is unhelpful.

Rossby Waves move along the Polar Front so that the weather pattern changes approximately every 4 to 6 weeks. As cooling occurs the Polar Front moves toward the equator and a Meridional pattern develops. When this happens amplitude reaches a certain depth (north/south) and blocking occurs. Usually this delays the movement of the Waves so weather patterns persist for 8 even up to 10 weeks. It is called Omega blocking reflecting the Greek letter shape on the weather map. (Ω)

With a Meridional pattern cold air pushes toward the Equator and warm air toward the Poles. This pattern was very apparent globally over the last few weeks. Normally media only look at the warmer areas, unless the cold hits politically sensitive regions, such as the eastern US. Figures 5 and 6 illustrate another problem with changes in the Rossby Wave pattern on global temperatures.

Figure 5 shows cold air over eastern North America and Western Europe and Figure 6 warm air over those regions. The black dots represent weather station but present a distorted picture because of the map scale, nonetheless they show how different positions of the Rossby Waves creates different emphasis on densely populated and Urban Heat Island affected stations of eastern North America and Western Europe.

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Figure 5

As the dome of cold polar air expands (Figure 1) seasonally or because of global cooling the mean position of the Polar Front moves toward the Equator increasing the temperature contrast between the two air masses. Cold air is denser and heavier than warm air so it dictates what happens as we know from the evolution of mid latitude cyclogenesis. With this new pattern the surplus energy from the tropics is increasingly concentrated in the warm axes Waves thus increasing the temperature.

This likely explains why when extreme cold pushes south, as it did in the recent cold spell over eastern North America, very warm Wave regions develop.

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Figure 6

The pattern of the Waves also determines precipitation events. For example, the extreme Meridional flow of 1816 caused an extreme drought in central and western North America. Agricultural droughts in the middle latitudes are related to blocking when dry conditions persist for 8 to 10 weeks. Similarly, flooding occurs in other regions. We can witness these patterns now with the flooding in Britain as the following headline attests: Water, water everywhere: Britain at risk of more flooding as heavy rain looms. Meanwhile drought is impacting northwest coast of America.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, released Dec. 26, showed abnormally dry to drought conditions across Oregon and abnormally dry conditions across much of Washington. Drought conditions were shown in other Western states, too.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said he “suspects” the storms and floods are linked to climate change. He is right for the wrong reason. He believes the changes are the result of warming when they are actually due to cooling. It appears it is ignorance not a political distortion. Agenda 21 and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) arose out of the works of members of the Club of Rome to which Holdren was a major contributor. When climate was chosen as a political vehicle it became a war. It became “us against them” or “if you are not with me you must be against me”. And as Aeschylus said, In war, truth is the first casualty.

84 thoughts on “It’s The Circumpolar Vortex Not The Polar Vortex And Other PR Deceptions

  1. “I recall when El Nino first appeared in the public forum because it moved north and impacted California in 1983″

    And for the next few years every news worthy weather event brought some mention of el nino/la nina as the cause. Sound familiar?

  2. I concur with the comments about Holdren. He is attempting to misrepresent and misinform with the media being the prime target for influence. It looks a lot like the BBC 28Gate process except with lights and cameras. Meanwhile each Federal agency is wasting time and effort in following orders to misrepresent science and agency operations with seemingly random press releases of agency findings and predictions. The latest is a DOD study of strategic and mission effects from ice free Arctic predictions with more shipping routes and potential threats opening across the Arctic. Thus it’s worse than messaging and phrases, it’s time and effort research and planning investment in nonsense agency-by-agency to further a misguided agenda directive on a wide scale. I suspect this is all research and planning froth leading up to the final push for a major new funding effort comparable to another Homeland Security department or another EPA budget. The magnitude of the misinformation effort by agencies correlates with the new money funding goal that follows. The side agenda of voting block management is also there as in the cases of Labour Party involvement in the scheme in the UK-BBC and Australia.

  3. What the CAGW kiddies don’t realise is that every new discovery they have is another bullet hole in their existing models. Ma Bakers car has lees holes then the models now.

  4. Cliff Mass Weather Blog: “The Polar Vortex: Myth and Reality”

    http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-polar-vortex-myth-and-reality.html

    There is a nice technical description there with a clever intro and a mention of WUWT.

    Some of the media, politicians, and others did not accurately portray the nature of what happened last week. Some suggested that the event was somehow “consistent” or “may” have been forced by global warming, a claim that has very little support from either observations or theory (see previous blog). Global warming skeptic folks who claimed this feature was somehow proof that global warming was nonsense were equally culpable for playing with the truth. As they said in Sharknado: “enough said”.

    I think the global warming skeptic claim was actually that global warming fanatics are misrepresenting the truth.

  5. Thanks, Dr. Ball. Back in the earliest 90s, as part of a previous post as a geology professor in a multi-discipline department, I had to teach several courses/terms of meteorology, so I had to really bone up on the climatology and meteorology I had learned as part of my studies of Earth systems. This is a good summary article which I might want to excerpt for various venues, if that is all right with you.

  6. So, the polar vortex is a feature of the upper atmosphere especially in winter. It doesn’t suddenly appear over the US as a symptom of Global Warming, as the Department of Silly Walks would have us believe.

  7. Thanks to Tim Ball for mentioning the late Professor Marcel Leroux! Albeit his sentence is slightly misleading: “Marcel Leroux revisited this process in his 2005 book Global Warming: Myth or Reality? The Erring Ways of Climatology. Leroux simply renamed the cA air mass the Mobile Polar High (MPH).”

    For those who wish to know exactly what Marcel Leroux’s contribution to understanding atmospheric circulation really is, they should read his seminal 1993 peer reviewed paper published in Global & Planetary Change:

    http://ddata.over-blog.com/xxxyyy/2/32/25/79/Leroux-Global-and-Planetary-Change-1993.pdf

    Abstract from Leroux 1993:

    “Air-mass and energy transportation is chiefly made by large lenses of cold air, the Mobile Polar Highs, the key factor of meridional air exchanges, which organize migratory units of circulation in troposphere low levels. Mobile Polar Highs (MPHs) originate in the downwards air motion in high latitudes. The cold air injection organizes a dipolar vortex of very large size (2000/3000 km), the anticyclonic side of this vortex (precisely the MPH) is thin, about 1.5 km thick, by reason of cold air density. Mobile Polar Highs migrate roughly eastwards, with a meridional component towards the tropical zone, through the middle latitudes where they are responsible for weather variability and for rain-making conditions Their own thermo-dynamic evolution and relief divide them into fragments, and they supply the low-layer of the trade circulation, and eventually the monsoon (previously trade) circulation of a cross-equatorial drift. Eastwards movement and disposition of relief govern the MPHs paths and determine distinct aerological domains, in one of these domains, China is precisely located at the eastern Asian exit of MPHs, stopped by the Himalaya/Tibet range, on their southern side during their eastwards migration. Power of the MPH, connected with its density, as observed in winter in the present conditions, is a function of the initial temperature, namely of the polar radiative conditions. It is precisely in the high latitudes that radiation balance and temperature changes are the most important, at all scales of time, from the seasonal to the palaeoclimatic scale, while in tropical latitudes the changes are comparatively always weak. Two modes of troposphere general circulation are a result of this mechanism (1) A rapid mode of circulation, connected with a cold situation in polar latitudes, is characterized by strong and extended MPHs and strong winds at all latitudes and all levels (2) A slow mode of circulation, connected with a warm situation in polar latitudes, is characterized by weak and less extended MPHs, and weak winds at all latitudes and all levels. Insolation and surface boundary conditions of high latitudes are the key control of MPHs dynamics, and therefore the key control of palaeoclimatic changes.”

    Since Connolley’s intervention, the Wikipedia Marcel Leroux page in English was deleted in the fall 2012. However, his final book “Dynamic Analysis of Weather and Climate: Atmospheric Circulation, Perturbations, Climatic Evolution” published in 2010 by Springer is available, unfortunately at a fairly steep price tag: http://www.springer.com/earth+sciences+and+geography/atmospheric+sciences/book/978-3-642-04679-7

  8. Good post, but…the B-29 was the Superfortress; the B-17 was the Flying Fortress. Both developed by Boeing.

  9. I just to love the part where Holdren says that warmer air at the poles equals colder air…

    Does this guy not believe his own kool aid or understand thermodynamics?

  10. Yes – linguistic engineering has been essential to “framing” a variety of debates. The terms proffered will set in motion pre-assumptions that determine the lines of argument that will resonate and the moral yardsticks that will be used to measure people who engage in the debate.

    Concretely – “Climate Change” allows alarmists to paint skeptics as saying the climate never changes. With that smear the attacks can be visceral and uncompromising – opponents “hate science” and “reject rationality” etc. Such language indulges tribalism and hatred for the other side. All by design.

  11. “birther” is a person who questions the President Obama’s resume. “

    Sorry, unfortunate attempt at equivalency. This is partly why we’re losing the war, or at least only fighting them to a standstill. “”Birther” is if anything too kind. “Conspiracy denier loon” more appropriate,

    Want to win the war? Keep politics and religion out of it. Stick to the science and the failure of the models.

  12. ya right, Holdren invented the term polar vortex. And we didnt land on the moon.

    Check the glossary of meteorology. Holdren wrote that of course.

  13. I think Dr Ball, and anyone else interested in linguistic engineering, would enjoy the intriguing essay at Sultan Knish blog on what he terms ‘Liberal Newspeak’ – http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/liberal-newspeak.html – a feminine-gendered version of Orwell’s Newspeak, intended in no way to empower and enable, but in equal measure terrify, soothe, and render (politically) somnolent. So who’s its Daddy?

  14. Thanks for the very informative essay, Dr. Ball. I learned a lot from this.

    One question: Did I miss something? Are we in a Zonal or Meriodional flow right now? Dr. Ball seemed to by implying Meriodonal because of the recent blocking condition, but I don’t think that he said it directly. I count 4 nodes in the animated gif – does that imply Zonal? How long have we been in the current flow state (Z or M), and, can we expect it to last for decades from now?

  15. John Stewart did a similar piece on media coverage of Ron Paul….showing tens of talking heads from every channel and alleged political bias repeating verbatim the exact same talking points. Conan O’Brien also has another one on coverage of his show.

    Neither man asks “Who is writing the script?”

  16. “Conspiracy denier loon” more appropriate,

    A release of the relevant records might dispel a lot of this. I refuse to call them loons until I see the evidence.

  17. The number of waves around the complete Vortex varies, but generally creates two groups of Rossby Waves; 1-4 with Zonal conditions or 5 – 8 with Meridional flow. The length of time over which each can last varies but can persist for decades…

    Are any graphs available which depict how and when these two general modes have flipped over time? Do any correlations exist (one way or the other) with global warming/cooling?

  18. The jet stream was known to the Japanese in the 1920’s. They used it during WW2 to fly balloons carrying bombs to the US.

  19. The trendy new term among progressive sociologists and the scientists providing their rationale, is “Anthropocene.” It has been introduced because, acccording to its supporters, humans are now purported to have a “decisive influence on the state, dynamics and future of the Earth system.” The concept now even has received a scientific imprimatur, having been granted its own journal.

    Humans have been powerfully affecting the surface of Earth for about 40,000 years, when groups began extensively using fire in hunting and forest management. Therefore, human impacts begin well before the Holocene and continue right up to the present, in an unbroken line. So, the idea that the Holocene is now ended and the new geological age of the “Anthropocene” is begun offers a distinction without any real difference. The “Anthropocene” distinction supposes that humans have affected Earth only since the industrial age (beginning 1850), which is a crock easily refuted by existing published literature. But, of course, 1850 is also when humans began emitting industrial CO2 on a large scale. Anthropocene, global warming, take your pick. What a strange coincidence.

    The idea that human activity has a “decisive,” as in controlliing, impact on the petaWatts of the Earth system is pure intellectual hubris. However, “Anthropocene” as a notion has a fine political appeal. Expect “Anthropocene” to replace “climate change” as the cudgel used against human activity. Anthropocene will have more staying power, because although an uncooperative climate can discredit climate scientists, human industrial activity remain with us and will always require mining, manufacturing, transportation, and energy generation. All of them impact the terrestrial surface and disturb the native state.

    Everything humans do can be and will now be evidence of more ‘Anthropocenic’ interference. Expect more grandstanding events as one scientist after another goes somewhere to show how humans have taken over yet another used-to-be-wonderful-and-natural area and converted it into yet more proof of the Anthropocene and its attendant horrors, now published in a peer-reviewed issue of “Anthropocene” near you. Accusatory breast-beating remains fatally seductive.

  20. A minor error:

    “The CV is a strong wind at altitude first identified by pressurized US B29 (Flying Fortress) bombers going to bomb Japan.”

    It was actually discovered by the Japanese a couple of years earlier, and they used their knowledge to launch a fire-balloon attack (!) on the US in the winter of 1944-45. They even achieved something. One of the balloons short-circuited the high-voltage line to the Hanford reactors, shutting them down for a couple of days.

  21. Isn’t it interesting – we have a tremendous number of people who want to blame humans for “climate change” in spite of the fact that the science shows different. It almost mimics the trend to find someone to blame for every minor tragedy that happens – and it’s almost always “It wasn’t me – blame them…”

  22. “Holdren attributed the recent cold spell to his invented term of “Polar Vortex””

    Holdren didn’t invent it. Here is a 1853 book that uses the term.

    Further, it’s mathematically correct. You characterise a vortex by its centre. The Circum- is redundant.

  23. I thought AP stood of Anointed Presstitutes.
    As for the progressive tactic of “newspeak” whats new?
    The true mark of a liberal democrat, in North America, is when given the choice between truth or lie, they instinctively lie.
    Deliberate erasure of history, willful blindness and blatant dishonesty…we are from the govt, we are here to help…
    Climatology will live in history as pseudoscience by authority, otherwise known as nonsense.

  24. Pat Frank says:
    January 13, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Ah but man is inherently evil and bad with no redemption.

    Unless you see that algore is your savior….

  25. ‘The common denominator of most environmental and climate science of the last 40 years is the determination to find a human cause for everything.’

    Methinks there are many spirits flying around Mayan temples who beg to differ. Scaring the populace and then demanding sacrifice is not new.

  26. pokerguy says: ““birther” is a person who questions the President Obama’s resume. “ Sorry, unfortunate attempt at equivalency. This is partly why we’re losing the war, or at least only fighting them to a standstill. “”Birther” is if anything too kind. “Conspiracy denier loon” more appropriate, Want to win the war? Keep politics and religion out of it. Stick to the science and the failure of the models.”

    The “war” is leftist politics and AGW is a religious meme. The “Science” is only window dressing. The war must be fought on all fronts, or it will morph into something new on the weakest front.

  27. Excellent article, dr Tim. I note your use of the word “misinformation” to describe the abuse of language by the warmists and their camp-followers the MSM. I would go further and call it “disinformation”, as practiced so well by the KGB during the Cold War to further the Communist cause. The fact that the meaning of so many common words and phrases are twisted by the warmists for the past two decades or so, and then constantly repeated by a growing gang of “useful idiots” including many gullible activists and journalists indicates to me that AGW proponents have been mounting a massive “disinformation” campaign not unlike that undertaken by the KGB during the cold war. Those who ignore history…

  28. Poker Guy…. Good luck with those ad homs… You need to do the research before making such declarations…

  29. Nick Stokes on January 13, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    “Holdren attributed the recent cold spell to his invented term of “Polar Vortex”

    ”Holdren didn’t invent it. Here is a 1853 book that uses the term.Further, it’s mathematically correct. You characterise a vortex by its centre. The Circum- is redundant.

    Thanks for the historic and linguistic clarification.

  30. REPLY: see this: http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/500hPa/orthographic=152.04,90.00,360-Anthony

    Thanks – bookmarked. Superb polar map and graphics! I count seven Rossby waves right now. It seems like there is a vortex within the vortex – plus an eddy or two.

    I’m surprised the MSM haven’t gotten around to quoting the turtle in “Saving Nemo” and calling it the “swirling vortex of terror”.

  31. Nick Stokes says:
    January 13, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    “Holdren attributed the recent cold spell to his invented term of “Polar Vortex””

    Holdren didn’t invent it. Here is a 1853 book that uses the term.

    Further, it’s mathematically correct. You characterise a vortex by its centre. The Circum- is redundant.

    ====================================================================
    Is it redundant? It seems to describe where they occur rather why they are a “vortex”.
    To me the question is, “Is describing this weather event, which is nothing new, as a “polar vortex” when such events have not been described as such to the public before just what Dr. Bell says; an attempt to make it seem to be something ‘new’?”

  32. Gunga Din says: January 13, 2014 at 1:55 pm
    “such events have not been described as such to the public before”

    This very blog has a
    Polar Vortex page, dating from 2011. Yes, that’s the heading. And it has many polar vortex references. I didn’t see circumpolar vortex there.

  33. OK, I have a question.

    From what I gather there are 3 competing (or complimentary) theories for the massive cold and hot snaps recently:

    1. The cooling climate leads to expanding cold and a steeper temperature gradient between the lower and polar latitudes creating more turbulence and a meridonal wave pattern and hotter areas due to surplus energy.

    2. Sudden stratospheric warmings caused by solar activity in conjunction with Rossby waves and the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation warm the polar region causing a LESS steep gradient on the polar front weakening the vortex and causing the jetstream to meander South creating a blocking effect.

    3. Less Polar ice causes more heat absorption and more polar warmth thus causing a LESS steep gradient on the polar front weakening the vortex and causing the jetstream to meander South creating a blocking effect. (Unlikely given the lack of warming and slowly recovering Arctic ice)

    I apologise, I’m not at all an expert on this and may have it all wrong but I’m wondering if someone can clear this up for me.

    Mr Ball?

    PS: Thanks for the great article.

  34. Thanks Dr. Ball! I’ve been trying to understand why we have this persistent blocking ridge that’s screwing up our ski season in the NW.

    Will we return to zonal flow when enough heat has been transported?

  35. The polar vortex is just a thing of the present, amplified by global warming. Brrrrr. It’s worse than we could have imagined. We must act then! Send more money for goodness sakes, it’s all our fault. Sob, sob, sniff, sniff.

    1853
    “….reaching the greatpolar vortex, pressed up on every side,….”

    Abstract
    Glaciochemical time series developed from Summit, Greenland, indicate that the chemical composition of the atmosphere was dynamic during the Holocene epoch. Concentrations of sea salt and terrestrial dusts increased in Summit snow during the periods 0 to 600, 2400 to 3100, 5000 to 6100, 7800 to 8800, and more than 11,300 years ago. The most recent increase, and also the most abrupt, coincides with the Little Ice Age. These changes imply that either the north polar vortex expanded or the meridional air flow intensified during these periods, and that temperatures in the mid to high northern latitudes were potentially the coldest since the Younger Dryas event.

  36. I notice that the only attack that Mosher and Stokes make are on Holdren not inventing the Polar Vortex terminology. Is that it? Your ammo is running low. Good to see you find the sceptics view in line with your own on the vortex bad behaviour in our modern SUPER HOT PERIOD.

  37. Nick Stokes says:
    January 13, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Gunga Din says: January 13, 2014 at 1:55 pm
    “such events have not been described as such to the public before”

    This very blog has a
    Polar Vortex page, dating from 2011. Yes, that’s the heading. And it has many polar vortex references. I didn’t see circumpolar vortex there.

    ========================================================================
    OK
    But what I meant by “to the public” was in the press reporting the weather. Maybe it has been used and I just missed it. I had a similar question about the the term “derecho”.
    Personally, I don’t remember hearing the term “polar vortex” until this event. And I don’t remember hearing “derecho” until we we had one a few years ago. (I live in central Ohio.)

    Nick Stokes says:
    January 13, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Gunga Din says: January 13, 2014 at 1:55 pm
    “such events have not been described as such to the public before”

    This very blog has a
    Polar Vortex page, dating from 2011. Yes, that’s the heading. And it has many polar vortex references. I didn’t see circumpolar vortex there.

    ========================================================================
    OK
    But what I meant by “to the public” was in the press reporting the weather. Maybe it has been used and I just missed it. I had a similar question about the the term “derecho”.
    Personally, I don’t remember hearing the term “polar vortex” until this event. And I don’t remember hearing “derecho” until we we had one a few years ago. (I live in central Ohio.)

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/09/quote-of-the-week-climate-induced-extreme-weather-has-long-been-a-concern-of-climate-scientists/#comment-1531509

    I did get a partial answer but not one addressing whether using the terms in reporting the weather is “new” or I had just missed them.
    “Arctic air”, I’ve heard often but never, that I recall, “Polar Vortex”.

  38. Jimbo says: January 13, 2014 at 2:53 pm
    “the Polar Vortex terminology. Is that it? Your ammo is running low.”

    This post is titled: “It’s The Circumpolar Vortex Not The Polar Vortex And Other PR Deceptions”. It seems a reasonable point to comment on.

    “Good to see you find the sceptics view in line with your own on the vortex bad behaviour in our modern SUPER HOT PERIOD.”

    I’m sorry to hear that the Polar Vortex has been making a nuisance of itself up your way. But the forecast max here for today (Tue, where the tennis is on) is 43°C. And not much less for the rest of the week.

  39. I recently had a letter published in our national daily newspaper The Australian in which I urged skeptics to refrain from playing by the warmist’s rules by meekly accepting and using the almost meaningless term ‘climate change’. We should always refer to the theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. Don’t let them get away with changing the ground rules.

  40. “The common denominator of most environmental and climate science of the last 40 years is the determination to find a human cause for everything.”

    It’s worse. Such elites as Maurice Strong who actually created the UN environmental organization that cooked up the IPCC, knew full well that the world is full of useful idiots who have no idea they are being manipulated. Lenin knew this and P.T. Barnum’s “..a sucker born every minute” is another iteration of the principle. These seemingly idealistic creations are really the work of deeply cynical and hateful few. The predisposed “useful” throngs, are vessels seeking fulfillment who plunge into the project.

    Steve McIntyre estimated:

    “In my opinion, most climate scientists on the Team would have been high school teachers in an earlier generation – if they were lucky. Many/most of them have degrees from minor universities. It’s much easier to picture people like Briffa or Jones as high school teachers than as Oxford dons of a generation ago. Or as minor officials in a municipal government.”

    And about his ever humble self:

    “Allusions to famous past amateurs over-inflates the rather small accomplishments of present critics, including myself. A better perspective is the complete mediocrity of the Team makes their work vulnerable to examination by the merely competent.”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/04/quote-of-the-week-high-school-climate-science/

    This might be why these things always fall apart eventually, but damn, the damage and the cost….

  41. Nick Stokes said:
    I’m sorry to hear that the Polar Vortex has been making a nuisance of itself up your way. But the forecast max here for today (Tue, where the tennis is on) is 43°C. And not much less for the rest of the week.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Your forecast corresponds with living in Melbourne, Nick.
    So you must have noticed that our summer arrived very late. The current forecast is for a very ordinary week in mid-summer, with very ordinary hot weather of the kind you should expect at this time of year; nothing remarkable. Tell me when it gets hot.

    Melbourne Feb 6, 1851:
    ==============
    THE WEATHER. – Thursday was one of the most oppressively hot days we have experienced for some years. In the early morning the atmosphere was perfectly scorching, and at eleven o’clock the thermometer stood as high as 117° in the shade [47.2°C]; at one o’clock it had had fallen to 109 °and at four in the afternoon was up to 113°.
    The blasts of air were so impregnated with smoke and heat, that the lungs seemed absolutely to collapse under their withering influence; the murkiness of the atmosphere was so great that the roads were actually bright by contrast. The usual unpleasantness of hot wind was considerably aggravated by the existence of extensive Bush fires to the northward, said by some to have an extent of 40 or 50 miles.

    http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/4776072

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

    Nota bene:

    It was found that “zonal” epochs correspond to the periods of global warming and the meridional ones correspond to the periods of global cooling. (Lamb 1972; Lambeck 1980).

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/y2787e/y2787e03.htm

    A few hot days in Melbourne were not found to correspond with the periods of global warming.

  42. This is one of the most important statements in this post:

    “This problem of inferring that surface conditions cause upper air patterns is prevalent in current climate science. The classic example is the weakening and even reversal of the subtropical easterlies that are the primary initiating factor in the El Nino/La Nina pattern. What causes the change in these upper level winds?”

    Here’s a possible answer

  43. The Russian’s have long claimed that there are two dominant types of wind patterns over North central Asia. For 30 years the wind pattern as dominated by Zonal (East-West) wind directions and then fro the next 30 years the wind patterns are dominated by Meridional (North-South) wind directions (and so on). This the rough equivalent to the Zonal and Meridional patterns seen in the Jet stream (see figure 4 above).

    It isn’t hard to see that when Zonal wind patterns dominate in the mid-latitudes, atmospheric energy transfer between the tropics and pole is inefficient and so the world warms for ~ 30 years. Similarly, if Meridional wind patterns dominate, atmospheric energy transfer between the tropics and pole becomes more efficient and so the world cools for ~ 30 years.

    What many climatologists forget is that there two belts of dry descending air – the polar high(s) and the horse-latitude highs (near 30 degrees latitude), just as there are two belts of moist ascending air – the equatorial zone of convergence and the mid-latitude lows and cold front(s) (near 40 to 60 degrees latitude). Both play an important role in affecting the efficiency of atmospheric energy transfer from the tropics to the poles.

    What actually causes the 30 year flip between zonal and meridional wind flow patterns [and hence a ~ 60 year climate cycle] is still open to question.

    I have proposed in the reference sighted in my previous post above that it is a 31/62/93/186 year pattern in the long-term lunar atmospheric tides that produce standing-wave longitudinal atmospheric pressure patterns that reinforce horse-latitude (semi-stationary) highs for 31 years then weaken them for the next 31 years.

  44. Khwarizmi says: January 13, 2014 at 5:30 pm
    “The current forecast is for a very ordinary week in mid-summer, with very ordinary hot weather of the kind you should expect at this time of year; nothing remarkable”

    Hardly. Here are the stats. Average 1855-2013 number days >40°C, in Jan 0.7. Whole summer 1.3. Here is the current forecast. 3 days >40 and another 39.

    And yes, it’s our first >40 for the summer. But it was 39.9 on 19 Dec.

    It was 39.7 at 1pm today.

  45. “good luck with the ad homs”

    I actually regret the harsh language. I could have made my point without the epithets. But if the goal is winning the debate, I can absolutely guarantee it will never be accomplished with political or religious based arguments. The other side has been impressively effective in framing the argument in political terms (we’ll never listen to a bunch of anti-science dumb flat earth conservatives), so when you do this you’re just playing into their hands….If the goal is to open people’s minds, stick to the facts…

    Incidentally, some of you guys are like little kids with fireworks wrt some of these logical fallacies…”ad hominems”, “appeals to authority” especially, which is to say you can’t wait to set them off whether regardless of the circumstances…Half the time they don’t apply.

  46. @ Nick Stokes

    Averages are just that and have no real meaning. We had 49.7 down here (W Aust) last week. Just can’t seem to find that elusive 50 BOM have been on about. :)

  47. Many of us from Down Under have to constantly apologize for the misguided statements of Nike Stokes about the weather. Our hope is that one day he will be able to distinguish between weather and climate.

    The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) here in Australia is regularly used by the alarmist media [Fairfax press and the ABC TV] to constantly hype the argument that the recent heat waves we have received here in Australia are UNPRECEDENTED!

    However, the BOM’s own temperature data shows that this is not the case.

    Melbourne is about to experience three days of above 40 C (104.0 F) temperatures with the possibility of a 4th which is currently predicted to be about 39 C (102.2 F). Such an extended heat wave has not happened since 1908 when as we all know greedy industrialists were driving SUVs and their coal fired power stations were belching forth huge quantities of CO2.
    [Note: hardly a summer goes by without Melbourne experiencing two or three days in a row with temperatures over 40 C]

    Here are Melbourne’s recent temperature measurements:starting on the 1st of January this year:
    [Note 26 C = 78.8 C]

    1st__26.3 __2nd_23.6___3rd__22.3__4th___20.7
    5th__26.7__6th__20.2__7th__20.8__8th___27.5
    9th__33.3__10th__34.7__11th__22.7__12th__22.8
    13th__31.1

    Oh how can we survive such blistering heat!!?? Please send us some aid as soon as possible or will all die from the blistering heat! Our clothes are bursting into flames…. please help us!!

  48. Ian Wilson says: January 13, 2014 at 8:15 pm
    “Our hope is that one day he will be able to distinguish between weather and climate.”

    I said nothing about climate. Jimbo alluded to the current cold snap in the US (liberally mentioned at WUWT) and I pointed out that it is hot where I am. And it is.

    “[Note: hardly a summer goes by without Melbourne experiencing two or three days in a row with temperatures over 40 C]”
    Not true. As I noted above, the long term average is 1.3 days in total for the whole year.

    • “[Note: hardly a summer goes by without Melbourne experiencing two or three days in a row with temperatures over 40 C]“

      Not true. As I noted above, the long term average is 1.3 days in total for the whole year.

      Since the “average” is 1.3, that means most have more than 1, which falls into the 2-3 range since some have zero. He said “hardly a summer”, not every summer. You are wrong again.

  49. Dr. Ball,
    Thank you, for this informative primer on Rossby Waves and the yin/yang of Zonal and Meridional flow, as well as standing waves generated off the lee side of mountain ranges. I have seen these expressed locally as a series of lenticular clouds extending east of Mt. Rainer at approximately 16,000 – 20,000 feet ASL.

    Re-reading your essay while visually watching the Rossby Wave progression on the ‘Earth’ site reinforced the relevant details.

    http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/500hPa/orthographic=152.04,90.00,360

    Thanks for the insights,
    Mac

  50. Nick Stokes said in response to my comments in brackets below:

    “[Note: hardly a summer goes by without Melbourne experiencing two or three days in a row with temperatures over 40 C]“ Not true. As I noted above, the long term average is 1.3 days in total for the whole year.

    A great way to hide periodic heat waves in Melbourne is to average them out with years in between in which there are no heat waves. This is a common statistical trick used to fool the gullible. What you are comparing are heat waves.

    Melbourne Regional Office [BOM Station 86071] has maximum temperature data back to 1858
    From 1858 to 1910 the following years had four or more summer days over 40 C:

    1858 – 4 days (2 in a row above 40 C)
    1870 – 5 days (2 x 2 in a row)
    1882 – 4 days (2 in a row)
    1898 – 7 days (2 in a row)
    1900 – 6 days (3 in a row)
    1905 – 5 days (3 in a row)
    1908 – 5 days (5 in a row)

    You have to compare the current heat wave with these heat waves and not with the years in which heat waves do not occur. Why? For the simple reason that the conditions that produce heat waves do not exist every Melbourne summer. Similar heat wave conditions apply between the years 1970 and 2020. In fact I am predicting a real scorcher in meklbourne during the summer of 2018/2019.

  51. I’ll repeat the question as people may have missed it. I know there are people here that have a much better grasp on the topic than I do. I just want to clarify the most likely probability or combination thereof amongst we skeptics and gain an understanding of the precise nature of what causes such dramatic Meridonal jetstream patterns.

    From what I gather there are 3 competing (or complimentary) theories for the massive cold and hot snaps recently:

    1. The cooling climate leads to expanding cold and a steeper temperature gradient between the lower and polar latitudes creating more turbulence and a meridonal wave pattern and hotter areas due to surplus energy.

    2. Sudden stratospheric warmings caused by solar activity in conjunction with Rossby waves and the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation warm the polar region causing a LESS steep gradient on the polar front weakening the vortex and causing the jetstream to meander South creating a blocking effect.

    3. Less Polar ice causes more heat absorption and more polar warmth thus causing a LESS steep gradient on the polar front weakening the vortex and causing the jetstream to meander South creating a blocking effect. (Unlikely I would’ve thought given the lack of warming and slowly recovering Arctic ice, although I guess Arctic ice loss is more to do with warm water intrusions and wind patterns, not global warming)

    4. something else?

    I apologise, I’m not at all an expert on this and may have it all wrong but I’m wondering if someone can clear this up for me.

    Mr Ball?

    PS: Thanks for the great article.

  52. Thanks Dr. Ball well and clearly explained, though river meanders are due to water buildup in an area of slow flow like flat plateaus, wide valley bottoms and near discharge points on coasts. The meanders create a reservoir for the excess water but will flood onto the flood plain at times of heavy rain. Meander flow is quite interesting and routes change frequently as flow is modified by sedimentation.

  53. philjourdan says: January 14, 2014 at 6:25 am
    “Since the “average” is 1.3, that means most have more than 1, which falls into the 2-3 range since some have zero. He said “hardly a summer”, not every summer. You are wrong again.”

    “hardly a summer goes without” means it happens almost every summer. “It” is 2-3 consecutive >40. With an average of 1.3/yr, that’s impossible.

    Anyway, he gave the numbers for a 52 year period. 45 of those summers went by “without Melbourne experiencing two or three days in a row with temperatures over 40 C” in that time. That’s not “hardly a summer”.

    • @Nick Stokes. I guess you flunked math 101. So what is the average of 4 years, of 2, 1, 0, 2?

      Give up? 1.25 – strangely very close to the 1.3. Why? That is how math works. So when he qualified his statement by “hardly a year” and included the number 2 in his calculations, he was being correct. You were not.

  54. This has all been a bit Northern Hemisphere centric for a reason but, could someone link a site to show the Antarctic Rossby Waves. I live in a high dessert valley in northern Argentina and I am looking to gain an understanding of the air flow dynamics that influence the temperature changes. Also, if it might lead to a drought or flooding period.

  55. An extraordinarily persistent pattern like this could be a factor in ending an interglacial. It has been noted that during the ice mode of an ice age, the climate over the glaciated parts of NoAM are cold and snowy meanwhile the SWUS is even more arid than normal. The aridity can be found nearly up to the ice face especially the southwestern part of the ice face. Well, what do we see presently?

  56. Nick Stokes says:
    January 14, 2014 at 6:47 am
    ps you might wonder why I am up blogging at 1.40 am. The reason us that it is 36.4 °C.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    Hot summer nights….cool!

    It was a hot summer night and the beach was burning.
    There was fog crawling over the sand.
    When I listen to your heart I hear the whole world turning.
    I see the shooting stars falling through your trembling hands.

    http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/meatloaf/youtookthewordsrightoutofmymouthhotsummernight.html

    Oh babe you make me feel like it’s a
    Hot summer night
    Even though it’s the middle of the winter
    And it’s really bad weather
    It’s a hot summer night
    When I’m next to you, baby

    http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/gracepotterandthenocturnals/hotsummernight.html

    It felt good when we got it right
    It felt good on a hot summer night
    Ooh hot summer nights
    Ooh hot summer nights

    http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/n/night/hot_summer_nights.html

  57. Nothing adds more to an argument than an article by that noted authoritative source, Guest Blogger!

    [Reply: If you would take 5 seconds to read, you would see that the guest blogger is climatologist Tim Ball. ~ mod.]

  58. T-Mo says:
    January 14, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Nothing adds more to an argument than an article by that noted authoritative source, Guest Blogger!

    On this site? You can bet your sweet bippy on that one!

  59. Nick Stokes says:
    January 14, 2014 at 6:47 am

    ps you might wonder why I am up blogging at 1.40 am. The reason us that it is 36.4 °C.

    Nick: Here it has been similar — but more like -36 °C this month — just sayin’… so cry me a river!

    Maybe you aught to go on a summer Antarctic Cruise. I hear they have some great vacation properties there!

    A little science, a little surf (if a bit icy), a lot of PR flakking…. could be fun!

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