A Displaced Polar Vortex and Its Causes

Mitchell et al. 2011 – Click the pic to view at source

By WUWT Regular “Just The Facts”

If you aren’t familiar with Stratospheric Polar Vortexes, you can get acquainted here, here and here.

“A strong link exists between stratospheric variability and anomalous weather patterns at the earth’s surface. Specifically, during extreme variability of the Arctic polar vortex termed a “weak vortex event,” anomalies can descend from the upper stratosphere to the surface on time scales of weeks. Subsequently the outbreak of cold-air events have been noted in high northern latitudes, as well as a quadrupole pattern in surface temperature over the Atlantic and western European sectors, but it is currently not understood why certain events descend to the surface while others do not. This study compares a new classification technique of weak vortex events, based on the distribution of potential vorticity, with that of an existing technique and demonstrates that the subdivision of such events into vortex displacements and vortex splits has important implications for tropospheric weather patterns on weekly to monthly time scales. Using reanalysis data it is found that vortex splitting events are correlated with surface weather and lead to positive temperature anomalies over eastern North America of more than 1.5 K, and negative anomalies over Eurasia of up to −3 K. Associated with this is an increase in high-latitude blocking in both the Atlantic and Pacific sectors and a decrease in European blocking. The corresponding signals are weaker during displacement events, although ultimately they are shown to be related to cold-air outbreaks over North America. Because of the importance of stratosphere–troposphere coupling for seasonal climate predictability, identifying the type of stratospheric variability in order to capture the correct surface response will be necessary.” Mitchell et al. 2012 – Paywalled

During January 2014 the Northern Stratospheric Polar Vortex appears to have experienced a weak vortex event and displacement, i.e. here is a 10 hPa/mb – Approximately 31,000 meters (101,700 feet) Height Analysis showing the low pressure area of the Stratospheric Polar Vortex being displaced (squeezed) on January 7th;

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

and this Northern Hemisphere Temperature Analysis at 10 hPa/mb shows the Northern Stratospheric Polar Vortex apparently with two lobes on January 11th, 2014:

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

Northern Polar Wind at 10 hPa/mb also shows the Stratospheric Polar Vortex still displaced at present (if you click on the picture it will link to an animated version):

Cameron Beccario – Global Forecast System
- NCEP / National Weather Service / NOAA – Click the pic to view animated at source

and when Polar Wind is overlaid with Temperature, you can clearly see the cold “air from very high altitudes” that descends “through the center of the vortex, moving air to lower altitudes over several months,” “NASA” (Click the pic to animate):

Cameron Beccario – Global Forecast System – NCEP / National Weather Service / NOAA – Click the pic to view animated at source

“Large regions in northern Asia, Europe and North America have been found to cool during the mature and late stages of weak vortex events in the stratosphere. A substantial part of the temperature changes are associated with changes in the Northern Annular Mode (NAM) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) pressure patterns in the troposphere. The apparent coupling between the stratosphere and the troposphere may be of relevance for weather forecasting, but only if the temporal and spatial nature of the coupling is known. Using 51 winters of reanalysis data, we show that the development of the lower-tropospheric temperature relative to stratospheric weak polar vortex events goes through a series of well-defined stages, including the formation of geographically distinct cold air outbreaks. At the inception of weak vortex events, a precursor signal in the form of a strong high-pressure anomaly over north west Eurasia is associated with long-lived and robust cold anomalies over Asia and Europe. A few weeks later, near the mature stage of the weak vortex events, a shorter-lived cold anomaly emerges off the east coast of North America. The probability of cold air outbreaks increases by more than 50% in one or more of these regions during all phases of the weak vortex events. This shows that the stratospheric polar vortex contains information that can be used to enhance forecasts of cold air outbreaks. As large changes in the frequency of extremes are involved, this process is important for the medium-range and seasonal prediction of extreme cold winter days.” Kolstad et al. 2010

Here is Northern Hemisphere – Vertical Cross Section of Geopotential Height Anomalies and the Northern Annular Mode (NAM) or Arctic Oscillation (AO) Index, which shows large positive Height Anomalies and the AO swinging negative in January:

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

And here is North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) Index for the prior 4 Months, showing a positive swing in mid-January:

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

So what caused the weak vortex event, displacement of the Northern Stratospheric Polar Vortex and cold air outbreaks?

There are several potential factors:

“A vortex displacement event is associated with anomalously high wavenumber-1 planetary wave activity entering the stratosphere and is characterized by a vortex with a comma-like shape that is shifting equatorward. Often this shifting occurs ‘‘top down’’ and the vortex has a baroclinic structure. Subsequently the Aleutian high, a weak anti- cyclone, encroaches over the pole and is especially dominant at lower levels.”

“A vortex splitting event is associated with anomalously high wavenumber-2 planetary wave activity entering the stratosphere. During such an event the vortex barotropically splits into two ‘‘daughter’’ vortices that tend to align along the 90°E – 90°W axis, with one centered over Siberia and the other centered over northeastern Canada (Matthewman et al. 2009, hereafter M09).”

“Analyses show that the most extreme vortex variability occurs most commonly in late January and early February, consistent with when most planetary wave driving from the troposphere is observed. Composites around sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) events reveal that the moment diagnostics evolve in statistically different ways between vortex splitting events and vortex displacement events, in contrast to the traditional diagnostics.” Mitchell et al. 2011

Planetary Wave 1 activity can be see on this Zonal Wave #1 Amplitude Jan, Feb, March Time Series;

Mitchell et al. 2011 – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

and Planetary Wave 2 on this Zonal Wave #2 Amplitude Jan, Feb, March Time Series:

Mitchell et al. 2011 – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

There was some Planetary Wave 2 activity in early January, however there was strong Planetary Wave 1 activity throughout much of the month.

A second likely factor in the weakening and displacement of the Polar Vortex is Eddy Heat, i.e. “strong negative fluxes indicate poleward flux of heat via eddies. Multiple strong poleward episodes will result in a smaller polar vortex, Sudden Stratospheric Warmings and an earlier transition from winter to summer circulations. Relatively small flux amplitudes will result in a more stable polar vortex and will extend the winter circulation well into the Spring.” NOAA

Here you can see that 10 day Averaged Eddy Heat Flux Towards The North Pole At 100mb neared a record daily maximum in early January:

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

A third potential factor in Polar Vortex behavior is that “geomagnetic activity (used as a measure of solar wind parameters)” plays a role in the “variability of large-scale climate patterns and on changes in the global temperature.”, i.e.: “We have found positive statistically significant correlations between global temperature and the distribution of surface temperature over Eurasia, the East and Equatorial Pacific and over the North Atlantic for the period 1966-2009 correspond to large-scale climate patterns defined by climate indices. We found very similar positive correlations between geomagnetic activity and the distribution of surface temperature in the mentioned regions. As an effect of geomagnetic storms, energetic particles penetrate from the magnetosphere into the region of the stratospheric polar vortex. The increase of temperature and pressure can be observed over northern Canada. The vortex shifts towards Europe, rotates counter-clockwise and the wind blows from the polar region over Greenland southwards. It diverts the warm flow proceeding northward over the Atlantic, eastward along the deep Icelandic low extending as far as the Barents Sea and takes part in warming Eurasia. The strengthened zonal flow from Siberia cools the western Pacific with the impact on the warming of the equatorial and eastern Pacific when also a distinct 1976-78 climate shift occurred. Processes in the Atlantic and Pacific play a significant role and a time delay (wind forcing over the previous 1-4 yr) appears to be the most important for the relocation of the oceanic gyres. Results showing statistically significant relations between time series for geomagnetic activity, for the sum of climate indices and for the global temperature help to verify findings concerning the chain of processes from the magnetosphere to the troposphere.” Studia Geophysica & Geodaetica, Bucha 2012

A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME); hit Earth around January 1st:
Ensemble WSA-ENLIL+Cone Model Evolution Movie for Median CME Input Parameters – Dynamic Pressure:

NOAA – Integrated Space Weather Analysis – Click the pic to view at source

and the Magnetosphere was rocking and rolling:

NOAA – Integrated Space Weather Analysis – Click the pic to view at source

However, potential influences of Solar activity on Polar Vorticity are speculative and in the past Leif Svalgaard has challenged the potential that Solar influences on the upper atmosphere could influence Earth’s climate.

Finally, we have the Wobbly Jet Steam hypothesis put forth by Jennifer Francis, of Rutgers University and other, i.e.:

“The Arctic is heating faster than the rest of the world, hurried along by the disappearance of polar sea ice. Bright white ice reflects energy back into space; dark blue water absorbs it. Arctic temperatures are about 2 degrees Celsius warmer there than they were in the mid-1960s. (The average temperature increase for the Earth’s atmosphere overall is about 0.7 degree C, since 1900.)

In other words, the temperature difference between the Arctic and North America is shrinking. That’s one factor causing wobbliness in the jet stream, the west-east current that circles the Northern Hemisphere, according to Jennifer Francis, research professor at Rutgers University. Normally, that river of air keeps low-pressure cold air contained above the Arctic and holds higher-pressure warm air above the temperate regions, where most people live.

Scientists tend to call the jet stream a “polar vortex,” Francis says.

A slowing in the jet stream has caused it to zigzag, carrying warmer temperatures farther north than usual—and Arctic cold farther south. “The real story,” Francis says, is that the jet stream is “taking these big swings north and south and that’s causing unusual weather to occur in a number of places around the Northern Hemisphere.” Bloomberg Businessweek

I am not sure which scientists beyond Jennifer Francis “tend to call the jet stream a ‘polar vortex,’” as these are two distinct and separate climatic phenomena, i.e.:
“The jet stream consists of ribbons of very strong winds which move weather systems around the globe. Jet streams are found 9-16 km above the surface of the Earth, just below the tropopause, and can reach speeds of 200 mph.” Met Office  Whereas “the polar vortex extends from the tropopause (the dividing line between the stratosphere and troposphere) through the stratosphere and into the mesosphere (above 50 km). Low values of ozone and cold temperatures are associated with the air inside the vortex.” NASA

This graphic is helpful in seeing the height and location of the Polar Jet, one of the Jet Streams in relation to the Tropopause, down to which the Stratospheric Polar Vortex can extend:

ddata.over-blog.com – Click the pic to view at source

Additionally, in the following image the Stratospheric Polar Vortex is delineated by the “Arctic Front”, whereas the Jet Stream is delineated by the “Polar Front”:

clip_image006

Jennifer Francis’ comment that “Scientist tend to call the jet stream a ‘polar vortex’” reminds me of this graphic:

memegenerator.net – Click the pic to view at source

But I digress, there are two key weaknesses in the Wobbly Jet Steam hypothesis.  Firstly, there does not appear to be a correlation between Sea Ice Area and Extent and the Cold Air Outbreaks. Secondly, it seems highly suspect that the extent of Arctic Sea Ice in September and October could have a significant impact on Stratospheric Polar Vortex behavior in January.

From a correlation perspective, the prior most notable Polar Vortex associated Cold Air Outbreak was the January 1985 Arctic Outbreak:

“The January 1985 Arctic outbreak was the result of the shifting of the polar vortex further south than is normally seen. Blocked from its normal movement, polar air from the north pushed into nearly every section of the eastern half of the United States, shattering record lows in a number of states. The effects of the outbreak were damaging. At least 126 deaths were blamed on the cold snap and 90 percent of the citrus crop in Florida was destroyed in what the state called the “Freeze of the Century.” Florida’s citrus industry suffered $1.2 billion in losses ($2.3 billion in 2009 dollars) as a result of the inclement weather. The public inauguration of President Ronald Reagan for his second term was held in the Capitol Rotunda instead of outside due to the cold weather, canceling the inaugural parade in the process. (Because Inauguration Day fell on a Sunday, Reagan took a private oath on January 20 and the semi-public oath on January 21.)” NOAA

(An interesting aside, on January 12, 2014 “KinkyLipids” changed the Wikipedia January 1985 Arctic Outbreak page from ‘Arctic outbreak’ to ‘cold wave’, ‘Janaury’ to ‘Winter’ and “moved page Winter 1985 Arctic outbreak to Winter 1985 cold wave” because “Sources do not use the term ‘Arctic outbreak’. The term ‘cold wave’ matches other Wikipedia articles”. Not sure why one wouldn’t call “the outbreak of cold-air events” an “outbreak”, but you can visit the new Wikipedia “Winter 1985 cold wave” at the old January 1985 Arctic Outbreak link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/January_1985_Arctic_outbreak)

Regardless of what it’s called, the January 1985 Cold Air Outbreak occurred during a time of slightly above average Northern Sea Ice Area, where the January 2014 Cold Air Outbreak occurred during a time of slightly below average Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice Area:

Cryosphere Today – Arctic Climate Research at the University of Illinois – Click the pic to view at source

Also, Arctic Sea Ice Extent was within two standard deviations of the 1981 – 2010 average for the entirety of 2013:

National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) – Click the pic to view at source

and there was signifacantly more Sea Ice Area prior to the recent the strong Cold Air Outbreaks occurred, versus 2012 when the Cold Air Outbreaks weren’t as strong:

Cryosphere Today – Arctic Climate Research at the University of Illinois – Click the pic to view at source

Aside from the apparent lack of correlation between Cold Air Outbreaks and Arctic Sea Area and Extend, there is another aspect of Arctic Sea Ice that makes the Wobbly Jet Stream hypothesis even wobblier. The Arctic is mostly land locked and freezes over quickly in the Fall. Thus by December Sea Ice Extent has reached across much of the Arctic:

National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) – Click the pic to view at source

For the Wobbly Jet Stream hypothesis to be correct, either the approximately 1 Million Sq. km Sea Ice Area Anomaly in September and October must have a long lasting residual effect that lingers into January to disrupt the vortex, or the approximately 500K Sq km anomalies in November and December around the periphery of the Arctic are what must weakened and displaces the Stratospheric Polar Vortex.

Even Kevin Trenberth thinks the melting sea ice, warming Arctic, Wobbly Jet Steam causes cold January weather hypothesis is weak, i.e. “So with regards to the Arctic, there are certainly major changes in the Arctic Sea Ice. And those are biggest in the fall. We’ve had record low Arctic Sea Ice, about 40% decline in Arctic Sea Ice overall, since the 1970′s, in September. But the Arctic fills up in the winter time.” “And so at those times of years the Arctic Sea Ice it seems to me plays a much lesser role. The area affected is a lot less, simply because the arctic is land locked.”

So Planetary Waves, Eddy Heat, Geomagnetic Storms or Sea Ice, what do you think caused the weakening and displacement the Northern Stratospheric Polar Vortex in January 2014?

For an array of real time Northern Stratospheric Polar Vortex graphs and graphics please visit the WUWT Northern Polar Vortex Reference Page.

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99 thoughts on “A Displaced Polar Vortex and Its Causes

  1. That’s a lot of factors affecting the polar vortex.
    Whatever it is, I wonder how those factors can be distinguished and evaluated.
    Add enough indistinguishable factors and anything can be explained… after it happens.
    Unless one factor can be shown to be overwhelming; over to you Solar Guys.

  2. Ha! I was a little too absolute with my comment but I believe the evidence for solar-induced stratospheric warmings is a fair bit weightier than ‘speculative’ and the article is slightly misleading in this respect adding undue weight to the fact that Svalgaard has challenged the link. He has invalidly challenged it of course.

  3. sabretruthtiger says: February 1, 2014 at 1:45 pm
    sabretruthtiger says: February 1, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    It’s the Sun stupid.

    Nothing is that easy, there are a multitude of factors and the Sun may be one of them.

    And Leif Svalgaard is flat out wrong.

    He raises valid criticisms and the science is still nascent. We should be skeptical of all proposed climatic influences, not just those of CO2.

    Ha! I was a little too absolute with my comment but I believe the evidence for solar-induced stratospheric warmings is a fair bit weightier than ‘speculative’ and the article is slightly misleading in this respect adding undue weight to the fact that Svalgaard has challenged the link. He has invalidly challenged it of course.

    Most of climate science is speculative, our understanding of Earth’s climate system is rudimentary at best and out historical record is laughably brief. Can you present the “evidence for solar-induced stratospheric warmings” that “is a fair bit weightier than ‘speculative’”?

  4. It’s complex with Rossby waves, phenomena like the Quasi-biennial Oscillation and many other factors but Solar activity is definitely one of them, not so much TSI but periods of inactivity punctuated by coronal and sunspot events that correlate with these SSWs. There seems to be a move to dismiss the sun amongst alarmists as anything else can be linked to CO2.

  5. sabretruthtiger says:
    February 1, 2014 at 2:03 pm
    I believe the evidence for solar-induced stratospheric warmings is a fair bit weightier
    Indeed, they only occur during winter [and generally only in the Northern Hemisphere] when there is no sunlight at the pole, so there you have clear evidence that the Sun [or perhaps the lack of Sun] is involved. For more see: https://www.eiscat3d.se/sites/default/files/EISCAT_3D_Fifth_User_Meeting/28-Khosrawi.pdf

  6. I find the article to be strangely contradictory

    “A third potential factor in Polar Vortex behavior is that “geomagnetic activity (used as a measure of solar wind parameters)”

    and

    “However, potential influences of Solar activity on Polar Vorticity are speculative”

    It slyly references all influence by the solar wind as ‘geomagnetic activity’ throughout the article, slightly misleading, despite not being incorrect.

    Here’s an interesting paper:

    http://www.researchgate.net/publication/4670901_The_sun-weather_connection_-_Sudden_stratospheric_warmings_correlated_with_sudden_commencements_and_solar_proton_events

  7. sabretruthtiger says:
    February 1, 2014 at 1:45 pm
    “It’s the Sun stupid. And Leif Svalgaard is flat out wrong.”

    Thank you Barack Obama. You just forgot to add “that’s a fact”.

  8. Disagreement is fine.
    But to substantiate the position of “It’s the Sun, stupid” all that is required is the following:
    1 Evidence of a correlation between solar changes and the climate.
    And
    2 Proof that the correlation is not caused by another common cause.

    Otherwise, “It’s the Sun and a lot of other things, stupid” seems more reasonable.

  9. I suspect the polar air has, en masse, regions of electrostatic charge, and further, that the jet stream is driven by a positive ion electrical current (at all latitudes). Changes in solar output would result in a change of the Sun’s total electrostatic field, which would have an unbalancing effect on the Earth’s many electrostatic atmospheric regions. Actually, it is the interaction of the Moon’s electrostatic charge relative to the Sun that is causing the unbalanced electrostatic regions of Earth’s atmosphere. I have noticed that cold air sinking typically, but now always, occurs just prior to the Full Moon, such that Full Moon nights are typically the coldest of the month.

    Also, changes in solar wind amplitude and magnetic field strength reduce the Sun’s magnetic induction effect of the Earth’s overall magnetic field, and hence it slows down the ion currents in the upper atmosphere and hence the atmosphere’s angular momentum around the poles.

    The reduce angular momentum and the unbalanced electrostatic forces on the polar air are causing the upper atmosphere to sink and follow the wobbly path it has been taken. I would agree that ocean temperatures could help steer the polar jet stream as it takes its new course.

    This is just my anecdotal observations and is not based upon hard data.

  10. sabretruthtiger says: February 1, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I find the article to be strangely contradictory

    It slyly references all influence by the solar wind as ‘geomagnetic activity’ throughout the article, slightly misleading, despite not being incorrect.

    You’ve got me, I crafted this article to slyly hide the potential influence of Solar wind while also highlighting it…

    Here’s an interesting paper:

    http://www.researchgate.net/publication/4670901_The_sun-weather_connection_-_Sudden_stratospheric_warmings_correlated_with_sudden_commencements_and_solar_proton_events

    There are lots interesting papers out there, but many tend to be heavy on correlations and light on mechanisms, like the one you cited:

    “It has been found that a strong correlation exists between sudden stratospheric warmings and sudden commencements of geomagnetic activity. This correlation follows a 22-yr cycle. The sudden warmings of the lower stratosphere occur near the north magnetic pole over Siberia and the Pacific, although occasionally they do occur over North America. A mechanism explaining how the solar wind ultimately affects the surface weather through its selective interaction with the middle atmosphere is outlined.” L. Neubauer 1983

    And this paper “Cosmic Ray Showers and their Relation to the Stratospheric Sudden Warmings” Kilifarska et al. 2008 relies on a cross-correlation analysis to reveal an “almost instantaneous acceleration of the vortex core and delayed westerlies’ deceleration at its polar and equatorial edges.”, i.e.

    “The purpose of this paper is to analyse the thermo-dynamical response of the stratosphere-troposphere system to the solar corpuscular and electromagnetic forcing during Solar Proton Event in January 2005 (SPE’05). Cross-correlation analysis of the zonal wind and temperature reveals a warming of subtropics and mid-latitudes (with a time delay of about 5 days) and cooling of the polar cap with time lag of 20-30 days. The zonal wind response manifests itself as a strong and almost instantaneous acceleration of the vortex core and delayed westerlies’ deceleration at its polar and equatorial edges. The temperature response equatorward of 50 0 N are most probably related to the increased solar ultra-violet (UV) radiation, whose effect can not be separated by the cross-correlation technique from those of the corpuscular heating. Multi-factorial and multivariate statistical analysis of the zonal wind before and after the SPE’05 confirms the leading role of the solar short time variability. Moreover, it turns out that the vertical propagation of planetary waves is strongly influenced by bursts in solar UV and corpuscular radiation. Comparison of the effectiveness of solar and wave forcing shows that solar impact is dominant factor influencing temperature and zonal wind in the period of preparation of final stratospheric warming in 19 March 2005.”

    However the following seems like an interesting area of potential as it suggests a mechanism:
    “THE POLAR VORTEX EVOLUTION AS A POSSIBLE REASON FOR THE TEMPORAL VARIABILITY OF SOLAR ACTIVITY EFFECTS ON THE LOWER ATMOSPHERE CIRCULATION ” S.V. Veretenenko 2012

    “The evolution of the vortex is known to be determined by dynamic coupling between the troposphere and stratosphere via planetary wave propagation, as well as by radiation processes in the stratosphere. So, we can suggest that the mechanism of SA/GCR influence on the troposphere circulation involves changes of the vortex strength associated with changes of the heat-radiation balance in the stratosphere. These changes may be caused by variations of atmosphere transparency in visible and infrared range associated with the effects of ionization and atmospheric electricity variations on cloudy and aerosol particle characteristics [Tinsley, 2008]. Indeed, a considerable increase of aerosol concentration at high latitudes which was most pronounced at the heights 10-12 km and accompanied by the temperature decrease in overlying stratospheric layers was detected during a series of powerful solar proton events on January 15-20, 2005 [Veretenenko et al., 2008]. In turn, the increase of the vortex strength intensifies temperature gradients at its edges (see Fig.4). At the stages of a strong vortex this increase of temperature gradients may be transferred to the troposphere via planetary waves and contribute to the increase of temperature contrasts in tropospheric frontal zones and the intensification of extratropical cyclogenesis.”

    “5. Conclusions
    The results of this study showed that the evolution of the stratospheric polar vortex plays an important part in the mechanism of solar-climatic links. The vortex strength reveals a roughly 60-year periodicity influencing the large-scale atmospheric circulation and the sign of SA/GCR effects on the development of baric systems at middle and high latitudes. The vortex location is favorable for the mechanisms of solar activity influence on the troposphere circulation involving variations of different agents (GCR intensity, UV fluxes). In the periods of a strong vortex changes of the vortex intensity associated with solar activity phenomena seem to affect temperature contrasts in tropospheric frontal zones and the development of extratropical cyclogenesis.”

  11. If solar activity were a primary factor in Stratospheric Warmings [SSW] one would expect that to occur in both the northern and the southern polar caps as solar-induced geomagnetic activity occurs equally in both hemispheres [being global and occurring at the same time in both polar caps]. However, SSW are almost exclusively a Northern Hemisphere phenomenon [I know of only one case of a southern SSW].

  12. Lief Svalgaard said:
    Indeed, they only occur during winter [and generally only in the Northern Hemisphere] when there is no sunlight at the pole, so there you have clear evidence that the Sun [or perhaps the lack of Sun] is involved.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    But isn’t winter also the period when the Northern Lights are at their highest activity?
    which is caused by the solar wind is it not?? Which is at its highest speed between September and March, so the sun has some influence in even in winter when sunlight is not directly involved, If Ozone can affect weather patterns why can’t Plasma (ionized gas)

  13. The various well known climate cycles (Hallstedt, Bond Events, DeVries/Seuss, Gleissberg, PDO/AMO) beg for an explanation, all of which cannot be found in internal variability. One must look to the only external power source, the Sun, and the orbital properties of its satellites including the earth’s moon. Once these connections are understood, a foundation for climate science will be at hand. Until then, we’re just guessing. And, trying to generate large cash flows.

  14. “But I digress, there are two key weaknesses in the Wobbly Jet Steam hypothesis. Firstly, there does not appear to be a correlation between Sea Ice Area and Extent and the Cold Air Outbreaks. Secondly, it seems highly suspect that the extent of Arctic Sea Ice in September and October could have a significant impact on Stratospheric Polar Vortex behavior in January.”

    The second reason is sound. Also remember there is no cause and effect in weather. Solar is a key potential factor, but not a cause. Weather leads to weather in the troposphere and stratosphere. Stratospheric weather affects tropospheric and vice versa. An “extreme” weather event like the polar vortex elongation and subsequent surface cold blast requires a month or more of setup followed by a particular coincidence of weather events. The potential solar contribution, labeled “speculative” in the head post, is a coincident factor to the rest of the weather factors, possibly not necessary, definitely not sufficient, but it also cannot be ignored.

    Contrary to Francis, the stratospheric polar vortex is likely to speed up due to enhanced contrast between the troposphere and stratosphere in the Arctic in fall and early winter. That is the positive AO predicted by most long run climate models (again contrary to Francis). See http://yly-mac.gps.caltech.edu/Reprintsyly/z%20Yung%202012%20biblio%20Irene%20%20copy/N173Limpasuvan_2005.pdf for this explanation “The gross behavior of the composite VI event is similar in shape but opposite in sign to that associated with sudden stratospheric warming events (SSWs).”

    Essentially what happens is a month or more of positive AO (see chart in head post) building up momentum in the polar vortex and also building up surface cold air. Second, there was a persistent eastern pacific ridge that pumped cold air down into central Canada which built up snow cover froze over lakes. That was the primer for the cold surface air.

    Then there was a partial SSW (technically not called an SSW in that case). That elongated the polar vortex and pushed it into the upper midwest. Remember that the vortex had built up momentum during December leading to a stronger push which it finally pushed south. Remember too that the cold air had built up in December in central Canada so the low level air masses had no chance of moderating on their way south.

    Then there was the coincident surface weather, 100% necessary but not sufficient for this event to happen. One was a deepening trough, but obviously causing surface weather effects deepening from feedback from that same surface weather. There was a upper strong shortwave rounding the base of the trough. There was a surface low spawned in the lee of the Rockies that dipped down into Texas then came up through the eastern plains. The surface low met up with and helped pinch off an upper low in Ontario. That stacked low then pulled the surface air south in tandem with the vortex. The intrusion of the vortex is not uncommon but does not often align with the tropospheric weather as perfectly.

    Finally, I come full circle to the comment that I quoted. The temperature of the Arctic this past January was not warmer in winter due to “Arctic amplification”. It was warmer overall due to weather (with a possible minor contribution by some of the worldwide warming) and some regions were colder due to weather. It is weather (mainly the jet stream) that controls the temperature of the arctic not the other way around.

  15. Mycroft,
    You just made the relevant point. Solar or magnetic field induced responses many miles above the stratosphere are indisputable in the Winter. …….even when the surface of our planet is in darkness.

    If it was based on a direct relationship to how much sun was reaching the surface, we would have had it figured out a long time ago.

  16. not going to pretend I understand it all but last week or so wasn’t there indications the vortex “drop” could happen again in first week or so of Feb?
    I may have misunderstood what I was seeing and if so would appreciate someone letting me know.
    in Maine so Feb usually very cold for me anyways, a -15 to -20 F night not unusual, but the added cold air mass may be an issue if so.

  17. Eric1skeptic says: February 1, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    It is weather (mainly the jet stream) that controls the temperature of the arctic not the other way around.

    Yes, there is definitely a tail wagging dog issue going on. There is also ample evidence that the recent decline in Arctic Sea Ice is primarily driven by Wind and Atmospheric Oscillations, not “Global Warming”, i.e.:

    Per this 2004 Science Daily article, ”Winds, Ice Motion Root Cause Of Decline In Sea Ice, Not Warmer Temperatures” states that,
    “extreme changes in the Arctic Oscillation in the early 1990s — and not warmer temperatures of recent years — are largely responsible for declines in how much sea ice covers the Arctic Ocean, with near record lows having been observed during the last three years, University of Washington researchers say.”

    And this 2007 NASA article “NASA Examines Arctic Sea Ice Changes Leading to Record Low in 2007“;

    “Son V. Nghiem of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that “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.”

    “The winds causing this trend in ice reduction were set up by an unusual pattern of atmospheric pressure that began at the beginning of this century,” Nghiem said.”

    The efforts to come up with a mechanism to blame the CO2 for Cold Air Outbreaks is comical, e.g.:

    “Cohen was the lead author of a 2009 study that found that sudden stratospheric warming events are becoming more frequent, a trend that may be related to an increase in fall snow cover across Eurasia. The increase in snow cover has in turn been tied to the rapid loss of Arctic sea ice, since the increase in open water in the fall means that there is more atmospheric moisture available to fall as rain or snow.” Climate Central

    So the mechanism whereby Anthropogenic CO2 influences Polar Vortex breakup is that CO2 affects the winds, which blow away the multi-year Sea Ice, increasing evaporation, resulting in increased “fall snow cover across Eurasia”, which somehow makes sudden stratospheric warming events become “more frequent”. Clearly…

  18. Some people never learn or have they never had to learn basic knowledge about for example our Earth and normal laws of physics, chemistry nor mathematic statistic….

    The Earth’s circumference at the equator is about 40 076,592 km. Nearly 40 009 km if we measure the circumference from pole to pole. Hence, it is flattened at the poles due to centrifugal force, the water cycle, erosion of various kinds from vulcanos on land and in sea needs to be taken into consideration when calculating the impact of each periods saltination in sea especially in areas south and south east of Alaska.

    One other important factor is that Earth’s axis tilt, oblikvidity varies in relation to our Earth’s rotation between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees. A factor forgotten (?) by many scholars still believing in human caused Global warming….

    A third important factor never taken into consideration in any of the so called computermodels is that Vulcanos on land due to the fact mentioned above, in other words that our globe isn’t an ideal sphere, has had large impacts on stofts in ‘air’ and athmosphere.

    For more reading on impacts such as large numbers (millions) of deaths from Iceland to China as well as impact on photosyntesis in plants causing crop failure in other words bad harvest, please read: Alexandra Witze & Jeff Kanipe, An Island on Fire: The extraordinary story of Laki, the vulcano that turned eighteen century Europe dark, Profile Books 2014.

    Our Earth has a complexed weather system especially observed in the Arctic. One need to take all windfactors as well as eruptions, erosions of different kind, seastreams into consideration,
    not forgetting that the main factor behind all observed correct data as well as the so called temperature changes observed by satelites into consideration, the later never ever gives correct information of temperatures 1 meter above surface nor 1 meter under. Reflexion isn’t the same as correct temperature. Never been and never will be.

    * More than 70% of Earth’s surface is water. Oceans, lakes, rivers, rivers, streams, etc.

    * Impacts on landrise and sea levels still is seen caused by the last ice age. Please remember that Archimedes principle applies whether we are dealing with glaciers (which weigh down the land under) same goes for ice in the Arctic (floating in the ‘sea’) or ice and glaciers in the example Antarctica where there are both ice as ice on land.

    * Sea surface NEVER can be presented as a fixed figure. When science talks about sea level we are dealing with averages over a long period, at least one year, comparing the highest and lowest value during the day. Never ever forget the moon’s attraction on the water!
    Facts about Earth, swedish text

    Important knowledge:
    Working with sediment cores extracted from Lower Murray Lake, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada (81°21′N, 69°32′W) in 2005 and 2006, the authors calculated annual mass accumulation rate (MAR) for the past five millennia, which they used to derive a relationship between MAR and July temperature at the two nearest permanent weather stations over the period of instrumental measurements. This work revealed there were several periods over the past 5000 years when the temperature of the region exceeded the peak temperature of the 20th century, the most recent of which was during the Medieval Warm Period, which we have delineated on the following figure as occurring between about AD 930 and 1400, and where the peak temperature of that period can be seen to have been about 0.6°C higher than the peak temperature of the Current Warm Period.
    Source:
    Cook, Bradley, Stoner and Francus, P. 2009. Five thousand years of sediment transfer in a high arctic watershed recorded in annually laminated sediments from Lower Murray Lake, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada. Journal of Paleolimnology 41: 77-94.

  19. Yes, I think they have that one pretty much backwards. It is much more likely that SSW’s are one of the causes and not an effect of increased snow cover. Most likely there other factors causing both. That said, there is always feedback from weather in the troposphere to every stratospheric event and snow cover affects the weather to some extent.

    But like most manmade warming / cooling / whatever causes “Extreme XYZ” theories, it falls on its face because most of the effects of CO2 are static, e.g. a bit of extra warming here and there. But most extreme events are dynamic, not in the sense of energetic (an incorrect warmist meme) but in the sense that all the dynamical weather has to line up, mostly by coincidence, to cause the extreme event.

  20. There are some fascinating ideas here. I personally think there are several different factors involved. If you place all your money on any single factor, a situation may arise where the other factors out-weigh the factor your money is on, and you will suffer the chagrin (which all of us who love weather have suffered) called, “a botched forecast.”

    Among other factors, I don’t think thinkers should ignore the fact the AMO is warm as the PDO is cold. While it might not be correct to call this situation an “imbalance,” it may lead to the jet stream wobbling more.

    Dr. Tim Ball would likely know more about this than I do, but apparently one of the most extreme jet stream wobbles resulted in a huge amount of Arctic Sea ice getting flushed down through Fram Strait. So much ice was flushed south that it was coming ashore on the beaches of Ireland, and it may have so cooled the North Atlantic that it contributed to “The Year Without A Summer.”

    The “factor” involved in that wobble of the jet stream may have something to do with the unbelievably huge eruption of Tambora in 1815. (It made Krakatoa look small.)

    It would be totally cool to be able to picture what the upper troposphere and stratosphere looked like during and after that event, but I don’t suppose we’ll ever know. My main point is that more than one factor may be involved.

  21. norah4you says:
    February 1, 2014 at 6:12 pm
    “One other important factor is that Earth’s axis tilt, oblikvidity varies in relation to our Earth’s rotation between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees. A factor forgotten (?) by many scholars still believing in human caused Global warming….”

    The obliquity cycle is 41,000 years so while it is the reason for the seasons and one of the main reasons for interglacial periods, it cannot have any effect on the relatively short periods of climate change over the last couple of hundred years.

  22. lsvalgaard says:
    February 1, 2014 at 3:59 pm
    “If solar activity were a primary factor in Stratospheric Warmings [SSW] one would expect that to occur in both the northern and the southern polar caps as solar-induced geomagnetic activity occurs equally in both hemispheres [being global and occurring at the same time in both polar caps].”

    If only there was winter at both poles at the same time, as I fear SSW’s do not occur in summer.

  23. “Firstly, there does not appear to be a correlation between Sea Ice Area and Extent and the Cold Air Outbreaks.”

    I would say that it is negative AO and/or NAO episodes that are behind the cold outbreaks *and* the sea ice extent reduction.

  24. R. de Haan says:

    February 1, 2014 at 2:01 pm
    —————————————
    Ok, I watched. Now you watch the SAMPEX and tell me where the tail at the equator is coming from..

    Movie of the changing radiation belts as measured by SAMPEX/LICA from January 1, 1998 to March 1, 2005.

    check that SAMPEX animation of the radiation belts out JTF. Wish it was a bit slower so you could get a better feel for all the penetration locations. Also, wishing we could see the SAMPEX version of the radiation belts through solar cycle 24. SAMPEX came down the same year the Van Allen Belt Probles went up? I think..
    “”and the Magnetosphere was rocking and rolling:”””
    And if this action of the Van Allen Radiation belts is related to the above magnetopause region, that would be solar induced wave action and reconnection and much more..like heavy wet blankets overhead.

    If Dr. S. is lurking nearby … found a couple of articles about bipolar regions and strangely tilt angles.. of these bipolar regions…and vertical magnetic fields and MRI on flux transportation..

    “”A new dynamo pattern revealed by the tilt angle of bipolar
    sunspot groups””
    The above article was interesting, but on a different scale the article below says .. not it all .. but lots of it..

    “”TURBULENCE IN THE OUTER REGIONS OF PROTOPLANETARY DISKS.
    II. STRONG ACCRETION DRIVEN BY A VERTICAL MAGNETIC FIELD””

    Jacob B. Simon1, Xue-Ning Bai2,3, Philip J. Armitage1,5, James M. Stone4, and Kris Beckwith1,6
    Draft version August 14, 2013
    We carry out a series of local, vertically stratified shearing box simulations of protoplanetary disks
    that include ambipolar diffusion and a net vertical magnetic field. The ambipolar diffusion profiles we
    employ correspond to 30AU and 100AU in a minimum mass solar nebula (MMSN) disk model, which
    consists of a far-UV-ionized surface layer and low-ionization disk interior. These simulations serve as
    a follow up to Simon et al. (2013), in which we found that without a net vertical field, the turbulent
    stresses that result from the magnetorotational instability (MRI) are too weak to account for observed
    accretion rates. The simulations in this work show a very strong dependence of the accretion stresses
    on the strength of the background vertical field; as the field strength increases, the stress amplitude
    increases….
    …Furthermore,
    the stress has a non-negligible component due to a magnetic wind. For sufficiently strong vertical
    field strengths, MRI turbulence is quenched, and the flow becomes largely laminar, with accretion
    proceeding through large scale correlations in the radial and toroidal field components as well as
    through the magnetic wind. In all simulations, the presence of a low ionization region near the disk
    mid-plane, which we call the ambipolar damping zone, results in reduced stresses there….

  25. The video should have loaded at video number 25 of 41 for the changing radiation belts as measured by SAMPEX/LICA from January 1, 1998 to March 1, 2005.
    I even used the share>current video>link provided..

  26. As a climatology non-expert it seems to me (and using Occam’s razor), the proximal cause of the Polar Vortex displacement is the Bering Sea High (BSH) shown in the GFS 10-hPa Height Analysis (above). That high pressure would strengthen during a strong period of negative (strengthening cool phase) PDO. The strong BSH would also force the sea ice extent anomaly seen locally in the Bering Sea on 1/31/2014 NSIDC sea ice extent north polar map.

    http://www.jisao.washington.edu/pdo/

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    A strong BSH, being anti-cyclonic, would thus be a “kicker” to the cyclonic PV, and cause it to expand out (bulge) into the NA continent (angular momentum stuff). The emergence and position of the “bulge” (wobble?) would thus be dependent on the meanderings and strength of the BSH.

    So, in this scenario, the long-term (50-60 years) oceanic heat cycles, with chaotic behavior on short time scales (weeks) of the BSH would provide variability in the PV “wobbles” occurrences.

  27. Good post. Thanks.

    This analysis enters the circle of reasoning at a convenient place but not necessarily the best place. At the altitude of the Stratosphere atmospheric density is quite low. One ought to consider the source of the air entering this region and ask what is going on there shortly before and during stratospheric variability and anomalous weather patterns at the earth’s surface.
    ———-
    An aside:
    It is difficult to tell when a person is just a “lazy writer” or whether she has a Swiss cheese knowledge base. Case in point: “Bright white ice reflects energy back into space; dark blue water absorbs it.” [Jennifer Francis]
    Surely she knows that water is essentially colorless. The physics is pretty widely known so I will assume she is a lazy writer and not clueless.

  28. Here is a possible piece to the puzzle. I had noted a potential correlation with moon phases and polar sea ice growth or retardation. Watching the daily Antarctic sea ice changes is where I first noted this in June of last year. Then in the last several months of 2013, I noted a somewhat similar effect in the Arctic. The Antarctic sea ice appears to move with the ascending mid moon, with the effect leading to ice gain, or on the descent as it is now, it leads to less sea ice loss. What I noticed in the Arctic is that on the dark of the moon, the growing sea ice experienced a slump in growth rate. It has just done this again, and I had predicted this several weeks ago on the basis of what the NSIDC, DMI, or JAXA graphs have shown over the last 3 months. I had forecast a slump in growth rate for Friday/Saturday of this week. The slump started on Wednesday, a bit early. This is the 3rd time in a row over the last 3 months.

    Two weeks ago, I had also made a forecast that Antarctic sea ice is likely to see it,s minimum shortly after the 8th of this month. The reason for the thought is that if the growth rate is truly affected positively after the mid moon, then the occurrence of this effect landing on the 8th of this month, which is not far from the normal average minimum, could well hold the sea ice extent minimum of this year very close to the extent of the sea ice on the 8th of this month.

  29. Mycroft says:
    February 1, 2014 at 4:04 pm
    <i<But isn’t winter also the period when the Northern Lights are at their highest activity?
    No, it is just that you see the aurorae best when it is dark.
    Like, the Moon is more important than the Sun because the Moon shines for us in the dark when we need it, while the Sun shines during the day when it is light anyway.

  30. dmacleo says:
    February 1, 2014 at 4:44 pm
    “not going to pretend I understand it all but last week or so wasn’t there indications the vortex “drop” could happen again in first week or so of Feb?

    Maybe this is what you saw: http://www.tropicaltidbits.com/analysis/models/gfs/
    Click on the “2m Temperature Anomaly”
    Then Click on “Loop” near the bottom
    When the map appears, move the slider for “Set Animation Speed” to about ¼
    Note the Stop/Start button at the top left
    Click stop as the bright pink color spills from Texas into Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico
    About Friday of this coming week, most of North America is going to be cold.

  31. lsvalgaard on February 1, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    while the Sun shines during the day when it is light anyway
    - LOL!

  32. @goldminor
    The serious physical problem you would have to overcome with your Moon phase observation-explanation is that lunar tidal forces diminish rapidly toward the poles (cosine of lat).

  33. lsvalgaard says:
    February 1, 2014 at 3:59 pm
    If solar activity were a primary factor in Stratospheric Warmings [SSW] one would expect that to occur in both the northern and the southern polar caps as solar-inducedgeomagnetic activity occurs equally in both hemispheres [being global and occurring at the same time in both polar caps]. However, SSW are almost exclusively a Northern Hemisphere phenomenon [I know of only one case of a southern SSW].

    Yes, SH SSWs are rare but not unheard of. In fact the majority of the SH ones have occurred during an active solar flux. 2002 SSW had F10.7 around 160. You don’t see many SSWs in the SH due to topography, less mountainous terrain to create the wave action. So, it must have relied on the solar activity to induce some kind of warming mechanism at the Stratosphere.

    http://www.igp.gob.pe/its/file.php?nf=IGP-1-1-1-1359998202.pdf&sub=1

  34. “So Planetary Waves, Eddy Heat, Geomagnetic Storms or Sea Ice, what do you think caused the weakening and displacement the Northern Stratospheric Polar Vortex in January 2014?”

    It has been one strong PV to break down, and maybe by the end of this week, a true SSW (not sure if it will make it a technical Major SSW though) will occur around the 5th, just looking at berlin ecmwf strat forecasts. We have been seeing a 1-2 punch from wave1 and 2 for several weeks now and the PV has slowly taken the punches, and kept its form for the most part. If not, then we could be looking for a Early Final Warming event later in the month.

  35. What is interesting is that the ‘journalists on this site’ no matter who, have produced many hypotheses over the years (this includes alarmist articles) but no-one has been able to definitively prove any of them. The commenters therefore spend Joules of energy speculating about the cause(s) of their observations. I guess it shows just how little is known about our planet.

  36. Joel O’Bryan says:
    @goldminor
    The serious physical problem you would have to overcome with your Moon phase observation-explanation is that lunar tidal forces diminish rapidly toward the poles (cosine of lat).

    ===

    Not at all. Tidal effects are global , the usual trivial account being two opposing “bulges” on each side of the planet. For a high tide to occur at some location water has to come from somewhere else. Tides are mostly a _horizontal_ bulk displacement of water, a longitudinal wave.

    Water has different temperature in different places, so tides also represent bulk displacement of energy.

    Currently with the sun close to its annual extreme, the lunar declination also hits an extreme. Combine this with lunar eccentricity (perigee/apogee) being at an extreme.

    Lunar distance changes by up to 15% . Since tidal forces are inv. r^3 that implies a change of 40% , a huge change.

    All these factor come into play to produce the once in 18.6 year extreme tides such as the one that coincided with Sandy hitting NY coast. Early Jan storms in UK also hit an unusually strong high tide. (The perigee pattern peaks about twice a year and is stronger in winter when perihelion increases lunar eccentricity).

    The atmosphere also experiences tidal forces, so it is probably no coincidence that these storms and tides happened at the same time.

    In relation to polar vortex, the wavenumber=2 pattern is also typical of tidal influence.

  37. A weak sun allows more ozone to form above 45km and towards the poles.

    More ozone means warmer (or rather less cold) temperatures above 45km and towards the poles.

    The descending stratospheric polar vortex draws down that ozone towards the surface, warming the lower stratosphere in the process and in doing so lowers tropopause height towards the poles.

    The lower polar tropopause height above the poles relative to the tropopause height above the equator pushes cold air masses outward from the poles to cause greater global cloudiness and reduce the proportion of solar energy able to enter the oceans which in turn leads to a cooling climate system.

    An active sun does the opposite.

    http://www.newclimatemodel.com/how-the-sun-could-control-earths-temperature/

  38. I am amazed that in the polar vortex reference there is no discussion of plasma interactions.
    has anybody checked to see if the Polar Plasma Fountain and the Polar vortex are lined up??

    Especially considering that there are Birkeland Currents.
    “A Birkeland current is a set of currents which flow along geomagnetic field lines connecting the Earth’s magnetosphere to the Earth’s high latitude ionosphere. In the Earth’s magnetosphere, the currents are driven by the solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field and by bulk motions of plasma through the magnetosphere (convection which is indirectly driven by the interplanetary environment).”

    And the Polar Fountain.
    “Polar wind or plasma fountain is the permanent outflow of ionized gas (plasma) from the polar regions of the magnetosphere,[2] caused by the interaction between the solar wind and the Earth’s atmosphere. The solar wind ionizes gas molecules in the upper atmosphere to such high energy that some of them reach escape velocity and pour into space. A considerable percentage of these ions remain bound inside Earth’s magnetic field where they form part of the radiation belts.”

    And the Aurora.
    “Auroras are now known to be caused by the collision of charged particles (e.g. electrons), found in the magnetosphere, with atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere (at altitudes above 80 km). These charged particles are typically energized to levels between 1 thousand and 15 thousand electronvolts and, as they collide with atoms of gases in the atmosphere, the atoms become energized. ”

    All connected by Sprites and other types of electrical discharges…
    “Sprites are sometimes inaccurately called upper-atmospheric lightning. However, sprites are cold plasma phenomena that lack the hot channel temperatures of tropospheric lightning, so they are more akin to fluorescent tube discharges than to lightning discharges.”

    Connected to the sun by a Flux tube that is modulated by flux transfer events causing the magnetosphere to ring making substoms and plasmoids in the magnetotail. all of this affecting the climate and weather on earth….

  39. Polar spacecraft measures “auroral fountain” flowing out as solar wind flows in…

    “On Sept. 23, though, nature and NASA’s planners were on the same schedule. On Sept. 22, the sun belched forth a CME, a roiling bubble of plasma (electrified gases) that sailed along with the solar wind on a collision course with Earth. TIDE’s plasma gun already had been scheduled to be operating, and Polar’s orbital position was above the northern hemisphere, when the CME arrived.
    “The amount of upwelling ions is a function of solar wind pressure or activity,” Spann said.
    The Earth’s plasma “fountain” So when the CME hit, it squeezed Earth’s magnetic field, squirting particles stored in the magnetotail up the field lines towards the Earth’s poles.
    Left: The polar auroral fountain sprays ions – oxygen, helium, and hydrogen – from Earth’s upper ionosphere into deep space. The loss is miniscule compared to the immense ocean of air covering our world, but is significant in terms of what drives space weather around our world. (NASA)
    As UVI showed an explosion in auroral brightness, TIDE measured a significant increase in oxygen and hydrogen ions rising from the Earth.
    “What we are finding is that the magnetosphere, the space environment within Earth’s magnetic field, is usually indirectly driven,” Spann said. “When that energy is released and it rushes forward there is a time delay.
    However, “with these large pressure pulses from CMEs, we are seeing the magnetosphere respond practically instantly. It’s like you hit it with a bat. Everything rings at the same time.”

    http://science1.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/1998/ast08dec98_1/

  40. A long and erudite way of saying that we dont know what the **** is going on.


    So Planetary Waves, Eddy Heat, Geomagnetic Storms or Sea Ice, what do you think caused the weakening and displacement the Northern Stratospheric Polar Vortex in January 2014?

    Kits, cats, bags and wives,
    How many went into St. Ives?

  41. I do not understand why more rain clouds can not be combined with the the severity of ionizing radiation. I do not see any other reason.

  42. John F. Hultquist says:
    February 1, 2014 at 9:14 pm
    *******************
    thats not the one I saw but seems to match what I had understood, thanks.
    yay…although presently we are warm now so may not be any worse than normal.
    oh well, feb in Maine is always cold so not a huge issue, was just trying to think/plan ahead as I sometimes have to leave water running.

  43. Following several decades ofa decline of solar activity will cause such changes in the stratosphere, the climate goes back about 100 years.

  44. Well this says there is a regular pattern to these events.

    Polar Vortex
    “It was shown that the detected earlier ∼60-year oscillations of the amplitude and sign of SA/GCR effects on the troposphere pressure at high and middle latitudes (Veretenenko and Ogurtsov, Adv.Space Res., 2012) are closely related to the state of a cyclonic vortex forming in the polar stratosphere. The intensity of the vortex was found to reveal a roughly 60-year periodicity affecting the evolution of the large-scale atmospheric circulation and the character of SA/GCR effects.”
    Veretenenko & Ogurtsov

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0273117713005474

  45. ren says:

    February 2, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Following several decades ofa decline of solar activity will cause such changes in the stratosphere, the climate goes back about 100 years.

    Gradually changing stratosphere, with changes in the level of solar activity, from higher to lower. Sounds about right.
    How about changes in LOD length of day, changes stratospheric winds, too.
    Or changes in rotation, affect axial tilt beginning with minute changes..

    If LOD fluctuates + – 3 ms over higher amplitude solar cycles. What happens to LOD when the solar cycle changes to several low consecutive solar cycles or numerous low amplitude cycles?

  46. Carla says:
    What happens to LOD when the solar cycle changes to several low consecutive solar cycles or numerous low amplitude cycles?
    And this is the crux of the matter. One low cycle and cosmic radiation reaches the records. Whether will beat another record with the 2010?

  47. Joel O’Bryan says:
    February 1, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    @goldminor
    The serious physical problem you would have to overcome with your Moon phase observation-explanation is that lunar tidal forces diminish rapidly toward the poles (cosine of lat).
    ———————————————————————————————————-
    Greg Goodman says:
    February 2, 2014 at 1:35 am

    goldminor: “Here is a possible piece to the puzzle. I had noted a potential correlation with moon phases and polar sea ice growth or retardation. ”

    Detailed spectral analysis reveals perigee lunar cycles in Arctic ice extent.
    ———————————————————————————————
    Thanks for the thoughts. Could pressure changes in the oceans from lunar tidal influences lead to the formation or decrease of sea ice? Another thought, is this occurring at a more noticeable rate now, because of alignment changes in other planetary bodies and/or through solar changes? It is apparent that this event is not seen on every moon phase during the course of a year. Is there another affect that combines with or is augmented by the moon phase?

  48. lsvalgaard says:
    February 1, 2014 at 3:59 pm
    If solar activity were a primary factor in Stratospheric Warmings [SSW] one would expect that to occur in both the northern and the southern polar caps as solar-induced geomagnetic activity occurs equally in both hemispheres [being global and occurring at the same time in both polar caps]. However, SSW are almost exclusively a Northern Hemisphere phenomenon [I know of only one case of a southern SSW].
    —————-
    Why should one expect solar-induced geomagnetic activity to occur equally in both hemispheres when (a) the planet does not have two North (or South) magnetic poles, and (b) the solar wind is not electrically neutral? Is this not a case of fiat definition conveniently dissolving the scientific problem?

  49. I agree with ren, Carla, Stephen Wilde, Brent Ra, and a few others – who are on the right road that only leads to solar activity as the cause. On the other hand, there’s this one solar scientist guy…

    lsvalgaard says:@ February 1, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    “If solar activity were a primary factor in Stratospheric Warmings [SSW] one would expect that to occur in both the northern and the southern polar caps as solar-induced geomagnetic activity occurs equally in both hemispheres [being global and occurring at the same time in both polar caps]. However, SSW are almost exclusively a Northern Hemisphere phenomenon [I know of only one case of a southern SSW].”

    I think Dr. S’s statement would apply if both the North and South poles were the same polarity magnetically. However, each pole, being polar opposites in magnetic polarity (pardon the puns), influence charged particles oppositely, do they not? Then why would we expect the atmosphere above the South pole to react to protons & electrons from the magnetosphere (delivered from CMEs) in the same way as the atmosphere above the North pole?

    I would like to know when that southern SSW occurred, so we could study it and the solar and geomagnetic activity associated with it, and see how that event differed from northern SSW events.

    Regarding surface and ocean temperatures: lower solar activity periods result in cooling because of concurrently less energetic photons in the solar flux, while higher solar activity periods result in warming from more energetic solar flux photons, in short term as well as over longer term periods.

    The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind: photons, protons, and electrons – delivered by solar flux and solar wind. I covered this at least a month ago – must I repeat myself? You wanted a mechanism – there it is – it’s that simple – albeit with some complications.

    There’s a great 1977 video called ‘The Sunspot Mystery’ at http://youtu.be/v3frXY_rG8c that helps illustrate how far off course since then climate science has veered in interpreting the sun-earth connection (nothing in it about SSWs, polar vortices, or CO2).

  50. Luther Bl’t says: February 2, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    You must have been reading my mind – we said the same thing – LOL.

  51. Note that whatever effect solar variability has it must alter the vertical temperature profile in the atmospheric column.

    Furthermore, if the positions of the climate zones and the jet stream tracks are to be affected it must have differential effects between equator and poles.

    It is ozone and ozone alone that creates the temperature inversion at the tropopause and so that is where we must look for the effect of solar variations.

    To achieve more meridional jets in the LIA (and now) at a time of quiet sun one MUST have a warmer stratosphere and lower tropopause at the poles.

    To achieve more zonal jets in the MWP and the late 20th century warming spell at a time of active sun one MUST have a colder stratosphere and higher tropopause at the poles.

    No other scenario fits both observations and the basic laws of physics.

  52. Bob Weber says: February 2, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I would like to know when that southern SSW occurred, so we could study it and the solar and geomagnetic activity associated with it, and see how that event differed from northern SSW events.

    “The Southern Hemisphere (SH) sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) of 2002 was unique in more than four decades of observations not only in terms of its timing during the calendar year, but also in terms of its amplitude. Other papers in this volume deal extensively with the state of the tropospheric circulation during the period leading up to the SSW of 2002 and of the SH stratospheric circulation throughout the life cycle of the event (e.g., Charlton et al. 2005; Newman and Nash 2005; Orsolini et al. 2005).”

    “The results presented in this study are remarkably similar to those observed in association with anomalies in the NH stratospheric polar vortex, as documented in Baldwin and Dunkerton (2001). Thus, the results provide independent verification for the observed relationships between long-lived anomalies in the NH stratosphere and the surface climate. One notable difference between the two hemispheres is the enhanced persistence of the SH anomalies. In the NH, major stratospheric events are followed by anomalies in the lower stratosphere and troposphere that persist for up to 60 days; in the SH; such events are followed by anomalies
    in the lowermost stratosphere and troposphere that persist for up to 90 days. The enhanced persistence of anomalies in the SH stratosphere is consistent with the relative dearth of dynamical forcing there.”

    http://www.atmos.colostate.edu/ao/ThompsonPapers/ThompsonBaldwinSolomon.pdf

    “In late September 2002 the Southern Hemisphere stratosphere underwent its first recorded major stratospheric warming, splitting the vortex and tearing the normally quiescent Antarctic ozone hole into two parts. The occurrence of this “unprecedented event” (WMO, 2002), in which the stratosphere suddenly warmed, is in contrast to the trend for the last ~20 years toward a stronger, colder, longer-lasting Antarctic vortex.”

    http://www.atmosp.physics.utoronto.ca/SPARC/News20/20_Baldwin.html

    “We use ground-based and satellite measurements to examine, for the first time, the characteristics of equatorial electrodynamic perturbations measured during the 2002 major and 2010 minor Southern Hemisphere sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) events. Our data suggest the occurrence of enhanced quasi 2 day fluctuations during the 2002 early autumnal equinoctial warming. They also show a moderately large multi-day perturbation pattern, resembling those during arctic SSW events, during 2002 late equinox, as the major SSW was weakening. We also compare these data with extensive recent results that showed the fundamentally important role of lunar semidiurnal tidal effects on low latitude electrodynamic perturbations during arctic SSW events.”

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jgra.50142/abstract

    “Using absorption data measured by imaging riometer for ionospheric studies (IRIS) located at the South Africa National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE), Antarctica (72° S, 3° W), we extracted the parameters of gravity waves (GW) of periods between 40 and 50 min during late winter/spring of the year 2002, a period of the unprecedented major sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) in the Southern Hemisphere middle atmosphere. During this period, an unprecedented substantial increase of temperature by about 25–30 K throughout the stratosphere was observed. During the period of the occurrence of the major stratospheric warming, there was a reduction of both the GW horizontal phase speeds and the horizontal wavelengths at 90 km. The GW phase speeds and horizontal wavelengths were observed to reach minimum values of about 7 m s−1 and 19 km, respectively, while during the quiet period the average value of the phase speed and horizontal wavelength was approximately 23 m s−1 and 62 km, respectively. The observed event is discussed in terms of momentum flux and also a potential interaction of gravity waves, planetary waves and mean circulation.”

    http://www.ann-geophys.net/31/1709/2013/angeo-31-1709-2013.html

    “In summary, our data suggest that the during 2002 Southern Hemisphere SSW event there
    were quasi-two day perturbations on equatorial ionospheric electric fields and currents. Our
    autumnal equinoctial data also suggest the occurrence of multi-day coherent electrodynamic
    perturbations with morning depression and afternoon enhancements near new moon. These
    perturbation resemble those observed during Northerm Hemisphere warmings and which were
    associated with enhanced lunar tidal effects. However, additional measurements during
    Southern Hemisphere and also equinoctial Northern Hemisphere SSWs are clearly needed to
    fully characterize the response of the low latitude ionosphere during these events and to
    determine the importance of lunar tidal and the occurrence of enhanced wave-like fluctuations.”

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CDwQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.igp.gob.pe%2Fits%2Ffile.php%3Fnf%3DIGP-1-1-1-1359998202.pdf%26sub%3D1&ei=fsHuUrbdLIvJsQS0hoGICw&usg=AFQjCNGXyPuIILl0cDdwM0FUVTqgK8PyZw&bvm=bv.60444564,d.cWc&cad=rja

    “The circulation in the stratosphere is characterized by a series of planetary wave events in 2002 winter that weakened he polar vortex and triggered the SSW in the late September. In Fig. 4, we compare the zonal winds at ∼ 94 km from SANAE HF radar with the zonal mean zonal winds from NCEP stratospheric data (at 10 hPa), and the results show that the reversal event in the MLT took place in a few days (about a week) prior to the reversal in the stratosphere. This behaviour indicates that there may be a downward propagation of circulation disturbance in the middle atmosphere. Similar results were also reported by Dowdy et al. (2004). SANAE HF radar results show similarities to the previous observations of the major SSWs both in the southern and the Northern Hemisphere. Lee et al. (2009) also reported the same behaviour of the middle atmosphere, where they studied the vertical structure and evolution of the wintertime Northern Hemisphere Annular Mode (NAM). In their study they concluded that the time evolution of NAM suggested that significant NAM anomalies typically appear first in the mesosphere and progress downwards”

    http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/10/3397/2010/acp-10-3397-2010.pdf

  53. Thanx justthefactswuwt says: February 2, 2014 at 2:24 pm. I’ll spend some quality time with that.

  54. Bob Weber says:

    February 2, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I agree with ren, Carla, Stephen Wilde, Brent Ra, and a few others – who are on the right road that only leads to solar activity as the cause. On the other hand, there’s this one solar scientist guy…

    lsvalgaard says:@ February 1, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    “If solar activity were a primary factor in Stratospheric Warmings [SSW] one would expect that to occur in both the northern and the southern polar caps as solar-induced geomagnetic activity occurs equally in both hemispheres [being global and occurring at the same time in both polar caps]. However, SSW are almost exclusively a Northern Hemisphere phenomenon [I know of only one case of a southern SSW].”
    ————————–

    Sudden stratospheric warmings of late.. are a combination of solar activity and warmed areas of the planet due to mankinds error.. Like for instance that Asian sector where in that quadrant you have the most populated area of the planet. India, China etc., well its observed that there is a contribution from this sector and when the sun belts the equator with a solar storm it puffs up the atmosphere and waves carry the agw with it.
    You know, without the solar activity to push the agw around, it would seem that agw is on pause..

  55. Carla says:
    February 2, 2014 at 2:54 pm
    I agree with ren, Carla, Stephen Wilde, Brent Ra, and a few others – who are on the right road that only leads to solar activity as the cause.
    If solar activity is the primary cause of SSWs then we should observe those equally in both hemisphere and we do not, so ‘the right road’ appears to be falsified. Of course, what is a little falsification for true believers?

  56. As an observer to the above discussions – in particular, the development of intense high and low pressure systems above North America and the consequent polar vortex – might I inject another possible trigger. It seems to me that there has been a significant rise in both sea and land surface temperatures in the NW corner of the North America continent during the summer and autumn months of 2012 and 2013. These increases have been particularly evident along the west coast of the USA, western Canada and Alaska and coincide with the intensification of stationary high pressure systems centered on the Bering Sea.

    Now, high pressure systems are usually accompanied by clear skies and sinking air – which inevitably lead to atmospheric warming. When the high pressure system remains stationary for a protracted period of time, this can lead to a significant increase in surface temperature. However, the absence of cloud cover should counter this trend because there is no natural barrier to trap rebounded long-wave radiation. So what is driving the current temperature increases?

    Between the 1960s and 1990s jet aircraft routes were primarily between the USA and Japan on the one hand and to Europe on the other. Most aircraft were limited in range and hence refueling stopovers were made in Alaska en route to Japan and Europe. Accordingly, aircraft movements across the Arctic Ocean were confined to those proceeding to Europe. Following the development of long-range jet aircraft the need for an intermediate stopover in Alaska was effectively eliminated. Concurrent with the development of these long-range aircraft, routes broadened across the entire Arctic Ocean – this being due to the opening of markets in SE Asia and, particularly, China and India. Could this be driving the observed “heating” of the Arctic region, Alaska and western Canada?

    Now jet aircraft travelling at cruising altitude often produce condensation trails. These vapor trails intensify as one moves from the tropics to high latitudes and can drive the formation of a cirrus-like cloud in the lower stratosphere. Such “clouds” can trap rebounded radiation; leading to an artificial heating of regions beneath the dispersed vapors.

    Also, polar routes become increasingly problematic as one moves from summer to winter. It becomes necessary for aircraft to travel at progressively lower altitudes as winter approaches in order to avert problems with fuel supply. Is it possible that an artificial “heat-trap” is being created as a consequence of aircraft movements between the USA and SE Asia/China and that this trap intensifies in winter as cruising altitudes drop during the winter months?

    Could such a “trap” account (in part), for (1) the heating that we are witnessing along the west coast of the USA, western Canada and Alaska and (2) the intensification of the high pressure system along this spine?

    Greg Beasley
    (Prospect, NSW)

  57. goldminor: “It is apparent that this event is not seen on every moon phase during the course of a year. Is there another affect that combines with or is augmented by the moon phase?”

    There is much more to lunar motion and hence its influence on tides than the visible cycle.
    Even the synodic month or “lunation” period varies from around 28.2 to 29.9 days through the year and from year to year. The lunar distance varies around 27.55 days. That means there will be a phase slippage of around 2 days per lunar month, so just eye-balling the bumps on the annual cycle it will appear to come and go.

    I don’t think it has much to do with pressure affecting ice formation. except possible atmospheric pressure via it’s affect on weather.

    The amplitude of the monthly effects is quite small but implies that the long term interactions of the various lunar cycles, that lead to periods of 8.85, 9.3 and 18.6 years need to be considered.

    For example addition of 8.85 and 9.3 will produce 9.05 modulated by 356 years ( thus with a beat period of 183 years). Now it’s possible such effects just average out but it’s also possible That they produce long term tidal periods that involve large scale bulk displacement of water , and hence heat.

    Scafetta and BEST team (land surface temp) have already reported 9.1 +/-0.1 year periodicity in various phenomena

    The same period appears in cross-correlation of N.Atlantic and ex-tropical N. Pacific SST

    http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=755

    Keeling and Whorf (1997) additionally suggested 6.0 years. I find 9.15 and 6.02 in cross-correlation of north and south Atlantic SST.

    http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=761

    Chandler nutation period of about 436 days (variation is the position of the geographic north pole) is also to be found.

    That is not to argue against a solar linkage, much more likely there are many inputs that are significant. However, such repetitive and globally spread signals argue against the simplistic idea that it’s all just stochastic “noise” on top of a steady , exponentially rising CO2 effect.

    neither can any such ‘oscillations’ be assume to average out to zero. The spurious and unfounded assumption usually put forward by AGW proponents.

    If lunar tidal forces evacuate warm waters from the tropics this will provoke non linear responses in tropical climate. Even if the water is drawn back 4.5 or 9 years later it will not be the same temp as when it left. The idea that this kind of thing can average out like the phases of some harmonic oscillation is clearly not applicable.

  58. lsvalgaard says:

    February 2, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Carla says:
    February 2, 2014 at 2:54 pm
    I agree with ren, Carla, Stephen Wilde, Brent Ra, and a few others – who are on the right road that only leads to solar activity as the cause.
    If solar activity is the primary cause of SSWs then we should observe those equally in both hemisphere and we do not, so ‘the right road’ appears to be falsified. Of course, what is a little falsification for true believers?
    ———————————-

    How long have we known about SSW in any hemisphere? The space age or period of mankinds history when the solar cycle was in a medium high phase of solar activity? Do they begin to occur early in their season and with more frequency during extended periods of years, of higher solar activity? During times when the atmosphere is already jet puffed up and out by solar storms, seems more likely suitable for any wave, solar, lunar, planetary or combination thereof to do the job.

    little bipolar spots and their tilt angles suggestive of changes in solar differential rotation.
    MRI shearing through horizontal magnetic laminate sheet, preventing rise (buoyancy damping) of vertical magnetic fields, keeping us in little bipolar spots and specs on the sun?

  59. lsvalgaard says:
    February 2, 2014 at 3:39 pm
    ‘If solar activity is the primary cause of SSWs then we should observe those equally in both hemisphere and we do not…”

    It is my understanding (limited as it is) that SSW occurs in winter. Could the fact that currently during SH winter Earth is farthest from the Sun and the lower energy received due to this extra distance would be reason for the lack of SSW in the SH?

  60. eeek
    The space age..and during the period of medium high consecutive solar cycles…..

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

    A sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) is an event where the polar vortex of westerly winds in the winter hemisphere slows down or even reverses direction over the course of a few days. The change is accompanied by a rise of stratospheric temperature by several tens of kelvins.
    The first continuous measurements of the stratosphere were taken by Richard Scherhag in 1951. He used radiosondes to take reliable temperature readings in the upper stratosphere (~40 km).

    It was his persistence which led him to witness the first ever observed stratospheric warming on
    27 January 1952.

    After his discovery, Scherhag assembled a team of meteorologists specifically to study the stratosphere at the Free University of Berlin. This group continued to map the northern-hemisphere stratospheric temperature and geopotential height for many years using radiosondes and rocketsondes. In 1979 when the satellite era began, meteorological measurements became far more frequent. Although satellites were primarily used for the troposphere they also recorded data for the stratosphere. Today both satellites and stratospheric radiosondes are used to take measurements of the stratosphere

  61. Dr. S., do the sector boundarys form a hour glass like shape around the solar disk? Like a baseball seams?

  62. Tom in Florida says:
    February 2, 2014 at 5:19 pm
    It is my understanding (limited as it is) that SSW occurs in winter. Could the fact that currently during SH winter Earth is farthest from the Sun and the lower energy received due to this extra distance would be reason for the lack of SSW in the SH?
    The difference is only a few percent, so can hardly be significant.

    Carla says:
    February 2, 2014 at 5:24 pm
    Dr. S., do the sector boundarys form a hour glass like shape around the solar disk? Like a baseball seams?
    http://www.leif.org/research/Solar%20Sector%20Structure.pdf has more on sector boundaries, see e.g. Slide 7.

  63. “lsvalgaard says:
    February 2, 2014 at 3:39 pm
    Carla says:
    February 2, 2014 at 2:54 pm
    I agree with ren, Carla, Stephen Wilde, Brent Ra, and a few others – who are on the right road that only leads to solar activity as the cause.
    If solar activity is the primary cause of SSWs then we should observe those equally in both hemisphere and we do not, so ‘the right road’ appears to be falsified. Of course, what is a little falsification for true believers?”

    Show me a electrical dynamic plasma pumping system that is symmetrical….. The SSW’s are a cyclical events and I doubt they are driven “directly” by the sun but the energy certainly comes from the sun.. I am however certain that if one were to look closely one would find a basic rhythm if you will, that is driven by the sun as a resonant system.

  64. Dr. S., I was cherry picin some cosmic ray info in one of your many online docs and btw giggles at the “no consensus” part of conclusions.
    And this was the bomb..
    ” ” Alternatively, the calculation of the cosmic ray solar modulation parameter may not be quite cor158
    rect for low solar activity – for which the assumption of a spherically symmetric heliosphere is not
    159 valid. The issue remains unresolved, although the recent low solar activity combined with an actual
    160 measurement of the intensity in the Local InterstellarMedium may eventually provide the empirical
    161 evidence needed to settle the matter.””
    Kinda, stuff I run into my interstellar, interplanetary and planetary journey..

    http://www.leif.org/research/Long-term-Variation-Solar-Activity.pdf

    page 9 line 152 did you mean recorded. ? not record

  65. Brant Ra says:
    February 2, 2014 at 6:16 pm
    I am however certain that if one were to look closely one would find a basic rhythm if you will, that is driven by the sun as a resonant system.
    If you are so certain, perhaps you could ‘look closely’ and show us what you find.

  66. I see that some people do not been following the winter in the southern hemisphere, and a utter. From August 2013 to October there was the same lock polar vortex. There’s radiation reaches the hole over the Atlantic. Just check the AAO or tell the truth. What was winter in South America?

  67. I think that individual SSW events are more akin to weather than climate change.

    However, the frequency and intensity of SSW events changing over decades and centuries in response to changing solar effects on the balance of the ozone creation / destruction process would lead to climate change.

    One only needs a small change in the gradient of tropopause height between equator and poles to produce the climate variations that we observe.

  68. Let me get this straight..

    Warm air moves to the north pole. The air cools and and and becomes more dense. This cold air has to go some where right???

    Maybe just maybe a elongation and subsequent disruption in the ‘polar vortex’ is one of the mechanisms for heat and mass exchange between the warmer tropics and the cooler arctic.

    It would be interesting to a see a 3 dimensional representation of the airflow immediately preceding, when the polar vortex and following the elongation and subsequent splitting of the polar vortex.

  69. @lsvalgaard

    Sun – stratosphere-climate.
    Some basic understanding: they are mainly indirect and cumulative (long-term) effects and often delayed – indirect: through ozone and stratospheric water vapor. There are hundreds of papers on the subject.

    … but the direct effect is also possible … Perhaps it is atmospheric patterns with mid-latitude decide about polar vortex, not vice versa.

    Varma et al. 2012., (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2012GL053403/abstract): „The results suggest that during periods of lower solar activity, the annual-mean SWW [Southern Hemisphere Westerly Winds] tend to get weaker on their poleward side and shift towards the equator. The SWW shift is more intense and robust for the simulation with varying stratospheric ozone, suggesting an important influence of solar-induced stratospheric ozone variations on mid-latitude troposphere dynamics.”

    Perhaps it is like for NH.

    In an e-mail to J. Francis I presented evidence of the lack of correlation between the extent of Arctic sea ice and cold winters on NH, particularly before 2007.
    I received this response:

    “You are correct that sea ice loss alone is not enough to affect the jet stream appreciably. We link jet stream changes to Arctic amplification, which is caused by a number of factors. Sea ice loss is only one of those factors that affects mainly fall and winter, and mainly the lowest layers of the atmosphere. Earlier loss of the snow cover on high-latitude land contributes to Arctic amplification during late spring and summer, while increasing water vapor content warms upper layers of the atmosphere in all seasons. Other studies have also found that the atmospheric response to sea ice loss alone has not yet been statistically significant as well, but recent analyses of model simulations for the future when ice loss is more dramatic do show a robust response.

    Our work also suggests that the same types of extreme conditions will not be experienced year after year in the same location, only that the jet stream will assume a more amplified trajectory. Other atmospheric features likely dictate where ridges and troughs will set up, such as the natural fluctuations of ENSO, PDO, AO, etc.”

  70. semczyszakarkadiusz says: February 3, 2014 at 6:20 am

    In an e-mail to J. Francis I presented evidence of the lack of correlation between the extent of Arctic sea ice and cold winters on NH, particularly before 2007.
    I received this response:

    “Earlier loss of the snow cover on high-latitude land contributes to Arctic amplification during late spring and summer, while increasing water vapor content warms upper layers of the atmosphere in all seasons. Other studies have also found that the atmospheric response to sea ice loss alone has not yet been statistically significant as well, but recent analyses of model simulations for the future when ice loss is more dramatic do show a robust response.”

    In terms of Snow Cover, per Rutger’s data, 2013 Northern Hemisphere Winter Snow Cover was the 4th highest on record;

    Rutgers University – Global Snow Lab (GSL) – Click the pic to view at source

    2013 Northern Hemisphere Spring Snow Cover was the 5th highest since 1997:

    Rutgers University – Global Snow Lab (GSL) – Click the pic to view at source

    and 2013 Northern Hemisphere Fall Snow Cover was the 4th highest on record;

    Rutgers University – Global Snow Lab (GSL) – Click the pic to view at source

    Given the high levels of snow cover during 2013, I cannot see how “loss of the snow cover on high-latitude land contributes to Arctic amplification during late spring and summer” could be a significant factor in this winter’s cold air outbreaks.

    In terms “increasing water vapor content warms upper layers of the atmosphere in all seasons”,

    RSS Northern Temperature Lower Stratosphere Anomaly (TLS) was -4.1778 degrees K/C in December 2013;

    Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) – Microwave Sounding Units (MSU) – Click the pic to view at source

    RSS Northern Polar Temperature Troposphere / Stratosphere Anomaly (TTS) was -2.0253 degrees K/C in December 2013;

    Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) – Microwave Sounding Units (MSU) – Click the pic to view at source

    RSS Northern Polar Temperature Middle Troposphere Anomaly (TMT) was 0.1319 degrees K/C in December 2013, and below the average of the last 15 years;

    Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) – Microwave Sounding Units (MSU) – Click the pic to view at source

    and Northern Polar Temperature Lower Troposphere Anomaly (TLT) Anomalies was 1.1361 degrees K/C in December 2013, and around average of the last 18 years:

    Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) – Microwave Sounding Units (MSU) – Click the pic to view at source

    As such, the proposed mechanism of “increasing water vapor content warms upper layers of the atmosphere” does not appear to be occurring, and certainly not in 2013, thus I do not see how “increasing water vapor” or warm “upper layers of the atmosphere” could be a factor in this winters cold air outbreaks.

    Jennifer Francis’ hypotheses do not seem to be based on fact, but rather a desire to explain the recent cold air outbreaks within the context of the catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming narrative, i.e.:

    “Jennifer Francis, a research professor with Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, said that such extreme weather events can be caused by global warming. Despite the fact that the extreme weather is bitter cold in this case, warming of the arctic can have such an effect because it changes the flow of the jet stream. Sea ice melts, leaving more water surface area exposed to absorb sunlight, leading to further warming.

    “Extra heat entering the vast expanses of open water that were once covered in ice is released back to the atmosphere in the fall,” Francis said. “All that extra heat being deposited into the atmosphere cannot help but affect the weather, both locally and on a large scale.”

    The arctic is warming about twice as quickly as the rest of Earth, according to Francis, and this shrinking temperature difference slows down the jet stream. It then gets stuck, leaving weather patterns lingering longer than usual.

    Yet a study by Colorado State Professor Elizabeth A. Barnes suggests that this explanation oversimplifies the impacts of Arctic warming, as well as the subsequent impacts on severe weather:

    ‘We conclude that the mechanism put forth by previous studies … that amplified polar warming has led to the increased occurrence of slow-moving weather patterns and blocking episodes, appears unsupported by the observations.’” US News

  71. ren says: February 3, 2014 at 11:01 am

    How much water vapor is at a height of 30 km?.

    Lossow, et al. 2009 – Click the pic to view at source

    “The water vapour distribution observed during the Hygrosonde-2 campaign shows some special characteristics, with respect to the general water vapour distribution described in the Sect. 1. The observations exhibit three distinct maxima in the water vapour concentration at about 32 km, 52 km and 57 km. We suggest that this aspect reflects measurements probing both vortex and extra-vortex air in different altitude ranges.

    In the altitude range between 15 km and 19 km the observed water vapour concentration is rather constant with altitude. This is usually an indication of extra-vortex conditions. Typical water vapour concentrations outside the polar vortex range between 4 ppmv and 5 ppmv in the altitude range between 16 km (∼400 K potential temperature) and 26 km (∼600 K) (e.g. de la Nöe et al., 1999; Maturilli et al., 2006). This is consistent with the ECMWF operational data which indicates that for most of the altitude range between 15 km and 19 km the polar vortex was not developed at all. From about 4.2 ppmv at 19 km altitude the water vapour concentration is increasing steadily to the first maximum at about 32 km, where a concentration of 7.7 ppmv can be observed. This strong increase in the lower and middle stratosphere is in general typical for the conditions inside the polar vortex (Maturilli et al., 2006). This conclusion is also supported by the analysis of the vortex edge location based on the criteria defined by Nash et al. (1996) using ECMWF operational data. This analysis showed that the location of the Esrange was inside the polar vortex somewhat above 22 km(∼500 K potential temperature). The discrepancy in altitude above which the location of the Esrange is inside the polar vortex is likely attributed to the rather coarse vertical and horizontal resolution of the ECMWF model in comparison to the smaller scale changes across the polar vortex edge. As a small scale deviation from the vortex inside picture drawn above, the observed water vapour profile exhibits a small bite-out slightly below 22 km. The balloon measurement show a minimum concentration of about 4.6 ppmv in this very thin layer, which is characteristic for conditions outside the polar vortex as described above.

    The observed maximum in the water vapour concentration at 32 km represents the conventional water vapour maximum for conditions inside the vortex, which is shifted downward due to the large scale subsidence of air inside the polar vortex. The observed altitude of the conventional maximum is somewhat lower than the examples found in the literature. Observations by ACE/FTS from 2004 show this water vapour peak slightly below 40 km altitude (Nassar et al., 2005). Aellig et al. (1996) report about measurements of the Millimeter-wave Atmospheric Sounder (MAS, Croskey et al., 1992) where they observed the maximum at about 1200 K potential temperature, which corresponds to an altitude of approximately 37 km. Results from the Polar Ozone and Aerosol Measurement (POAM) III instrument (Lucke et al., 1999) show occasionally a similar altitude of the conventional water maximum inside the polar vortex as our observation. In the average they find this maximum at an altitude of about 35 km in the Arctic winters between 1998/1999 and 2000/2001 (Nedoluha et al., 2002).

    Up to an altitude of about 45 km the water vapour concentration decreases and the measurement has been performed inside the vortex. Above 45 km the water vapour concentration recovers, indicating that the measurement was made outside the polar vortex in this altitude range. At the transition altitude between vortex and extra-vortex at about 45 km
    also a nearly monochromatic gravity wave has been observed (see Table 1) which was likely involved in the modulation of the polar vortex edge and the advection of extra-vortex air.
    The second water vapour maximum at 51.5 km represents the conventional water vapour maximum for conditions outside the polar vortex. The maximum exhibits a concentration of 7.1 ppmv. This can be compared to typical water vapour concentrations inside the polar vortex that range between 3 ppmv and 5 ppmv in this altitude range, according to ACE/FTS observations (Nassar et al., 2005). A pronounced drop in the water vapour concentration above the second maximum results in a minimum at about 55 km. This minimum exhibits
    a water vapour concentration of 5.9 ppmv. Again, distinct gravity wave activity is evident in the wind and temperature distribution in this altitude region. The observed water vapour concentration at this minimum is distinctly higher than those typical concentrations inside the polar vortex determined by ACE/FTS. This may indicate that only air from the edge between vortex and extra-vortex or the edge of a filament has been advected at this altitude. Higher up the water vapour concentration recovers and at 57 km a third distinct maximum (6.8 ppmv) in the observed water vapour distribution can be found. This third maximum is only part of the ex-
    pected water vapour decrease above the extra-vortex conventional water vapour maximum around the stratopause. Then a sudden steep decrease of the water vapour concentration
    occurs around 60 km, connected to a gravity wave induced very strong wind shear. At 70 km a concentration of only 2 ppmv remains, a typical value for air from inside the polar vortex. Since the wind changed its direction from southwest to southeast, it can be concluded that vortex air was located southeast from the Esrange in this altitude range. Above 70 km the water vapour concentration recovers towards values which tend to be more representative for the extra-vortex, as observed by ACE/FTS.” http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/9/4407/2009/acp-9-4407-2009.pdf

    And here’s the rest of the atmospheric water vapor picture for reference:

    NKey et al. 2004 – Click the pic to view at source

    “Some unique characteristics of the polar atmosphere affect the height assignment of cloud and water vapor features used in high-latitude wind estimation. In particular, low water vapor amounts, atmospheric temperature inversions, and low, thin clouds on height assignment can significantly impact the infrared window, CO2-slicing, and H2O intercept methods. Satellite-derived and model ed cloud and atmospheric properties show that 20-35% of polar clouds are low (greater than 600 hPa) and thin (optical depths lessthan 5), with associated height assignment errors averaging 75 hPa. Total precipitable water (TPW) is less than 0.5 cm over most of the Arctic and Antarctic in winter and surface contamination in the 6.7 μm water vapor channel is apparent at TPW amounts less than approximately 0.3 cm. To mitigate the effects of low, thin clouds and the relatively dry polar atmosphere on height assignment, it is recommended that atmospheric motion vectors (AMV) based on clear sky water vapor features be flagged and adjusted for surface effects when TPW is less than approximately 0.3 cm, and that AMVs from low, thin water clouds be flagged and adjusted for cloud optical depth in a post-processing step. ”

    https://www.eumetsat.int/cs/idcplg?IdcService=GET_FILE&dDocName=pdf_conf_p42_s5_key&allowInterrupt=1&noSaveAs=1&RevisionSelectionMethod=LatestReleased

  72. ren says: February 3, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Whether water vapor may be responsible for increase in temperature at a height of 30 km?

    What increase in temperature?

    Lossow, et al. 2009 – Click the pic to view at source

    “Time series of stratospheric temperature anomalies from satellite data (Fig. 1) show overall cooling during 1979-2005. The time series are punctuated by transient warming events associated with the large volcanic eruptions of El Chichon (1982) and Mt. Pinatubo (1991), which persist for approximately two years. The overall cooling ranges from ~-0.5 K/decade in the lower stratosphere (~20 km), to over -1K/decade in the upper stratosphere (40-50 km). These values can be compared with warming in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) over the same period of order 0.1-0.2 K/decade. The time series in Fig. 1 show that the stratospheric changes are not monotonic, but more step-like in nature; note that stratospheric temperatures have been relatively constant over the recent decade 1995-2005. ”

    http://www.acd.ucar.edu/Research/Highlight/stratosphere.shtml

    “Trends in the middle and upper stratosphere have been derived from updated SSU data, taking into account changes in the SSU weighting functions due to observed atmospheric CO2 increases. The results show mean cooling of 0.5–1.5 K/decade during 1979–2005, with the greatest cooling in the upper stratosphere near 40–50 km. Temperature anomalies throughout the stratosphere were relatively constant during the decade 1995–2005.”

    http://acd.ucar.edu/~randel/2008JD010421.pdf

    And the end of 2013 was below average going into January cold air outbreaks:

    Japan Meteorological Agency – Click the pic to view at source

    Just found the following Japan Meteorological Agency site that offers a number of useful stratosphere monitoring tools including the one above:

    http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/tcc/tcc/products/clisys/STRAT/

  73. It may otherwise, if water vapor is responsible for changes in temperature of the ozone in the zone? Whether the chemical reaction of ozone formation are emitted energy?

  74. ren says: February 3, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Such a temperature increase, for example, in January 2014.

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/strat-trop/gif_files/time_pres_TEMP_ANOM_JFM_NH_2014.gif

    Not sure, if you look at the 10 hPa/mb Height Analysis from January 7th it shows a high pressure area, next to Polar Vortex;

    NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

    a Temperature Analysis shows a positive temperature anomaly within the high pressure area;

    NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

    and Ozone Mixing Ratio shows an “Ozone Hole” in the warm high pressure area, in addition to the “Ozone Hole” within the vortex:

    NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

    In comparison, at 30 hPa/mb a Height Analysis shows the same high pressure area;

    NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

    and Temperature Analysis shows the positive temperature anomaly within it;

    NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

    however the Ozone Mixing Ratio at 30 hPa/mb shows an Ozone surplus in the warm high pressure area:

    NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

    I am not sure what the cause of this is, but I suspect that it is associated with the dynamics of vortex, or the disruption of them, versus water vapor or a chemical reaction. If you look at 10 hPa wind overlaid with temperature, clockwise rotating air masses can be seen on each side of the vortex:

    http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/10hPa/overlay=temp/orthographic=3.21,86.34,197

    According to this summary;

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCQQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.iap.unibe.ch%2Fpublications%2Fdownload%2F3255%2Fen%2F&ei=8onwUo3MPIHlyAGWhoDwDg&usg=AFQjCNHTS75Nwtbo50PRexuTbtEiUTK0uw&bvm=bv.60444564,d.aWc&cad=rja

    during a Sudden Stratospheric Warming, “the warming is a consequence of energy deposition by breaking waves and adiabatic heating by strong downward motion in the upper stratosphere.”

    I suspect that there are similar dynamical processes in play here as well.

  75. I thought this was interesting and may apply conceptually to a degree, as Saturn’s polar vortices differ too like the Earth’s polar vortices.

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn#South_pole_vortex (with references removed)

    “A persisting hexagonal wave pattern around the north polar vortex in the atmosphere at about 78°N was first noted in the Voyager images.

    The sides of the hex are each about 13,800 km (8,600 mi) long, which is longer than the diameter of the Earth. The entire structure rotates with a period of 10h 39m 24s (the same period as that of the planet’s radio emissions) which is assumed to be equal to the period of rotation of Saturn’s interior. The hexagonal feature does not shift in longitude like the other clouds in the visible atmosphere.

    The pattern’s origin is a matter of much speculation. Most astronomers believe it was caused by some standing-wave pattern in the atmosphere. Polygonal shapes have been replicated in the laboratory through differential rotation of fluids.

    HST imaging of the south polar region indicates the presence of a jet stream, but no strong polar vortex nor any hexagonal standing wave. NASA reported in November 2006 that Cassini had observed a “hurricane-like” storm locked to the south pole that had a clearly defined eyewall. This observation is particularly notable because eyewall clouds had not previously been seen on any planet other than Earth. For example, images from the Galileo spacecraft did not show an eyewall in the Great Red Spot of Jupiter.

    The south pole storm may have been present for billions of years. This vortex is comparable to the size of Earth, and it has winds of 550 kph.”

    So we have two planets whose polar vortices differ significantly. Interesting. Do they differ for some of the same reason(s)?

  76. ren says: February 3, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    It’s not (water vapor), but ozone is a source of energy in the area of the ozone.

    http://www.weatherquestions.com/ozone_layer.jpg

    But there’s barely any UV reaching the polar stratosphere during the polar night, i.e.:

    “The stratosphere is heated primarily by absorption of solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation by ozone (known as shortwave heating), while the stratosphere is primarily cooled by emission of IR radiation to space by carbon dioxide, ozone, and water vapor (known as longwave cooling). As the polar winter begins, solar UV heating by ozone ends and the Antarctic stratosphere cools to very low temperatures. ”

    http://www.ccpo.odu.edu/~lizsmith/SEES/ozone/class/Chap_11/11_3.htm

    Here is a good summary of “Composition measurements of the 1989 Arctic winter stratosphere”:

    Simultaneous measurements of the stratospheric burdens of H2O, HDO, OCS, CO2, O3, N2O, CO, CH4, CF2Cl2, CFCl3, CHF2Cl, C2H6, HCN, NO, NO2, HNO3, ClNO3, HOCl, HCl, and HF were made by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory MkIV interferometer on board the NASA DC-8 aircraft during January and early February 1989 as part of the Airborne Arctic Stratosphere Experiment (AASE). Data were acquired on 11 flights at altitudes of up to 12 km over a geographic region covering the NE Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, and Greenland. Analyses of the chemically active gases reveal highly perturbed conditions within the vortex. The ClNO3 abundance was chemically enhanced near the edge of the vortex but was then depleted inside. HCl was chemically depleted near the vortex edge and became even more depleted inside. In fact, by late January deep inside the vortex, HCl was either completely removed up to 27-km altitude, or partially removed to an even greater altitude. NO2 was also severely depleted inside the vortex. In contrast to Antarctica, H2O and HNO3 were both more abundant inside the vortex than outside. While for H2O this is solely a consequence of descent (without accompanying dehydration), HNO3 additionally shows evidence for chemical enhancement inside the vortex. One exception to the high HNO3 abundances inside the vortex occurred on January 31 when stratospheric temperatures above the aircraft fell below 190 K. However, following this event, HNO3 burdens fully recovered, suggesting that if the loss on January 31 was due to temporary freeze-out of HNO3, the resulting particles reevaporated above 12 km. Taken together, these results suggest that although the Arctic vortex did not get cold enough to produce any dehydration, nor as vertically extensive denitrification as occurred in Antarctica, nevertheless, enough heterogeneous chemistry still occurred to convert over 90% of the inorganic chlorine to active forms in the 14- to 27-km altitude range by early February 1989.”

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/91JD03114/abstract

  77. Also, further to the Solar/Climate connection question:

    “A mechanism for sun-climate connection” Hameed, 2005:

    “echanisms by which small changes in the sun’s energy output during the solar cycle can cause changes in weather and climate have been a puzzle and the subject of
    intense research in recent decades. Here we report that differences in surface circulation conditions during solar maximum and minimum periods are caused by differences in the frequencies with which circulation perturbations in the stratosphere reach the surface. A much greater fraction of stratospheric perturbations penetrate to the surface during solar maximum conditions than during minimum conditions. This difference is more striking when the zonal wind direction in the tropics is from the west: no stratospheric signals reach the surface when equatorial 50 hPa winds are from the west under solar minimum conditions, and over 50 percent reach the surface under solar maximum conditions. It has been previously shown that stratospheric circulation perturbations reaching the surface change weather patterns by imposing atmospheric pressure anomalies characteristic of the Arctic oscillation.”

    “The results obtained above may be understood in the context of findings by Gray et al. [2004] who studied the influence of the solar cycle and the quasi-biennial oscillation on the winter polar vortex in ECMWF Reanalysis data for 1957–2001. They examined composites of averaged zonal winds in the stratosphere for four categories: solar minimum conditions/easterly winds, solar minimum conditions/westerly winds, solar maximum conditions/easterly winds and solar maximum conditions/westerly winds. They find that the polar vortex in the stratosphere is more disturbed in years in which the wind is from the East than in years when it is from the West, in conformation with the Holton-Tan effect. However, they find an important difference in West years between solar minimum and maximum conditions. In the solar minimum/westerly winds composite the vortex is anomalously strong throughout the whole winter and an easterly anomaly in the winds does not appear until April. In the solar maximum/westerly winds composite, on the other hand, an easterly anomaly develops in February and moves poleward and downward by March indicating midwinter warming events in solar maximum/ westerly years. Their results are consistent with previous work by Labitzke and coworkers who noted as early as 1982 that major midwinter stratospheric warmings do not occur during the QBO westerly phase except near solar maxima [Labitzke, 1982]. Together with our results, they suggest that the stable vortex in winters when solar activity is low and winds are from the west present conditions in which propagation of stratospheric signals to the surface is unlikely.”

    “This paper presents quantitative evidence for an increased rate of penetration of northern hemisphere winter circulation anomalies from the stratosphere to the troposphere under solar maximum conditions as opposed to solar minimum conditions. The difference occurs primarily during the QBO westerly phase. Previous work has shown that the occurrence of major midwinter stratospheric warmings also depends on both the QBO phase and the solar cycle. The leading candidate mechanism for effecting this dependence is solar ultraviolet variations, which influence ozone concentrations, radiative heating, and zonal circulation in the tropical upper stratosphere. In the QBO westerly phase, major midwinter warmings occur at an increased rate under solar maximum conditions as opposed to solar minimum conditions. Our results show that the circulation anomalies caused by these stratospheric warmings propagate down to the surface much more frequently under solar maximum conditions than under solar minimum conditions. This suggests that solar perturbation of the stratosphere by ultraviolet radiation variations followed by downward propagation of resulting circulation anomalies to the surface is the principal sun-climate mechanism.”

    http://somas.stonybrook.edu/downloads/pubs/hameed/HameedLee.pdf

    And this 2014 paper, “Possible effect of strong solar energetic particle events on polar stratospheric aerosol: a summary of observational results” Mironova et al.:

    “In agreement with our earlier findings (Mironova et al 2012, 2013), we report a minor possible effect related to additional ionization during the strong GLE event in July 2000. The maximum response of the Ångstrom exponent was observed one day after the GLE of 14 July 2000 in the altitude range of about 100 g cm2 (about 16 km height). The observed decrease of the Ångstrom exponent implies that, shortly after the GLE, new particle formation and/or growth of preexisting ultrafine aerosol particles took place. The effect was observed only in the southern polar stratosphere, during the local winter, with the temperature sufficiently low to allow formation of polar stratospheric clouds.

    No effect was observed in the northern hemisphere (local summer) with high stratospheric temperatures. No effect was found for the weaker events of April 2001 and October 2003 that took place during the spring/fall seasons. It is worth mentioning that the polar stratospheric temperature was above the polar stratospheric cloud formation threshold during these events. As a summary of the phenomenological study of the atmospheric response of the behavior of aerosol particles to strong SEP events, which includes both the results presented here and in earlier studies (Mironova et al 2008, 2012), we propose that noticeable changes in aerosol content, as a response to enhanced ionization in the polar lower stratosphere (15–20 km height), can be observed only during the polar night, under winter cold conditions, in regions where the ambient temperature is below the threshold (about 190 K) for polar stratospheric cloud formation. No effect was found if the temperature was above the threshold. In order to make sure that the observed phenomenon is not a typical mid-winter/summer stratospheric effect due to, e.g. a change in insolation of the polar atmosphere or stratospheric nighttime chemistry related to UVI (Enghoff et al 2012), we have checked the period of mid-summer/winter (January and July) for other years (1998–2003) using POAM data (Mironova et al 2012, Randall 2010 ) and found no similar phenomena outside the periods of GLE events.

    Thus, we conclude that a combination of at least two factors can lead to an observable enhancement of stratospheric aerosols: (1) an essential, at least by a factor of about two, increase of the ionization rate in the region, and (2) winter season without UV and with low temperature sufficient for formation of polar stratospheric clouds. We note that the observed effect is small and limited to the polar stratosphere, even for extreme GLE events, and is unlikely to directly affect regional climate. On the other hand, it provides a clear case example to study possible mechanisms of outer space influence upon atmospheric properties.”

    http://cc.oulu.fi/~usoskin/personal/ERL_Mir_2014.pdf

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