The Trade Winds Drive The ENSO

Guest post by Bill Illis

We have often wondered what really causes the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern.  It is generally understood and this post will demonstrate that it is really driven by the Trade Winds over the ENSO region.

The Trade Winds blow East to West at the equator.  Most of us living in other latitudes expect the wind and the weather to primarily come from the West but, at the equator, the weather comes from the East.

When the Trade Winds are stronger than average for a sustained period of time, the Trades literally blow or drag the warm surface water across the Pacific and it is replaced by colder upwelling ocean water from below.   If the Trades are strong enough for a long enough period of time, we have a La Nina.

When the Trades are weaker than average for a long enough period of time, the ocean surface stalls in place and gets heated day after day by the equatorial Sun and we have an El Nino.  Sometimes, this stalling even results in warmer ocean water from the Western Pacific moving backwards into the Nino region and this also contributes to El Nino conditions.

Let’s look at the data to see how true this assertion is.

Here is a chart of the Nino 3.4 region temperature anomaly (which is the most consistent measure of ENSO conditions) versus the Trade Winds from 120W to 175W.  The Trade Wind data is for 850 MB pressure or about 3,000 feet.


Click for a larger image

To see this correlation a little better, I’ve reversed the sign so that weaker Trade Winds are shown as positive values and stronger Trade Winds are shown as negative values.  I’ve reduced the anomaly in meters per second by half as well so the scale is roughly the same as the ENSO.

Click for a larger image

I can’t imagine seeing a better explanation of what drives the ENSO than this.

For some perspective on the Nino regions and the latitude, longitude figures in question here, this is a map of the region produced by the Climate Prediction Centre.

I think you can see this impact in action if you watch an animation of the ENSO region over time.  Let this SST anomaly animation load up, then speed it up as fast as your computer will allow and you can see the Nino region waters and temperature anomalies literally move across the Pacific with the Trades.

http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/anom_anim.html

But what drives these Trade Winds?  I don’t really have an answer for that question.

The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was previously used as an indicator of these winds over the Nino regions.  The SOI is a measure of the difference in air pressure between Tahiti and Darwin, Australia.  The theory being that high pressure blows toward lower pressure which can provide some indication of the Trade Winds in the Nino region.  There is certainly a correlation of this measure to the Nino 3.4 anomaly.  In fact, the measure even lent its name to the ENSO.

I’ve found, however, the SOI consistently lags a little behind the Nino region temperatures and the Trade Wind measures so I believe it is more a result of the overall climate pattern rather than a leading indicator.  I’ve also found no real correlation to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation or any of the other Oscillation Indices which are sometimes used to predict or measure the ENSO.

There is one leading indicator, however, which provides some predictive power – the Trade Winds just to the West of the Nino area.  These Winds are, most often, concurrent with the Nino region Trade Winds but occasionally, they provide a ramp-up which might kickstart the ENSO.  The West Trade Winds were a leading indicator of the Super El Ninos of 1982-83 and 1997-98 for example.

Click for a larger image

Unfortunately, I don’t know what drives these Western Trade Winds either, but they are currently pointing to a strengthening of the La Nina conditions which currently exist.

I also wanted to show more closely how the ENSO impacts global temperatures.

The warm or cold ocean conditions of the ENSO eventually impact the Tropics troposphere temperatures and this seems to be quite a direct impact with a lag of 2 to 3 months.

Click for a larger image

The Tropics temperatures then propagate out to the rest of the world with a small lag that may be up to 1 month but is more commonly concurrent with the Tropics anomalies.

Click for a larger image

The Trade Winds drive the ENSO, and the ENSO directly impacts the Tropics temperatures and the Global temperatures.

Who would have thought that Winds in some small region of the Globe could be so important.  You can keep track of these Trade Winds on a daily basis at the Climate Prediction Centre.

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/daily_ao_index/zw/zw.obs.gif

So, I think that provides a nice perspective on the ENSO.

The data used in this post can be obtained here.

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/data/indices/

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/data/indices/sstoi.indices

http://www.remss.com/data/msu/monthly_time_series/RSS_Monthly_MSU_AMSU_Channel_TLT_Anomalies_Land_and_Ocean_v03_2.txt

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244 thoughts on “The Trade Winds Drive The ENSO

  1. Bill, that is just eye candy to this weather nut. I wonder if these winds are set up by Earth rotation? Would the Terra firma spin faster than the atmosphere at the equator, thus making it seem like the wind is blowing from East to West instead of West to East in concert with Earth’s rotation direction? And then maybe viscosity of the atmosphere makes the trade winds strong or weak?

  2. Thanks Bill. You make it beautifully clear.

    It would be interesting to know that the ENSO contribution to the global anomaly is. The billion dollar question is: What number of El Nino degrees C were part of the 1998 peak. If the models didn’t include this, then they would have concluded that too much of the warming was man made.

  3. Of course the trade winds are driven by the rotation of the earth.

    They may vary in their intensity and exact position but as long as the earth spins they will continue to blow.

    They also drive the great surface ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream: which is why ideas that these currents could stop due to changes in water temperature is absurd.

    Kindest Regards

  4. “Who would have thought that Winds in some small region of the Globe could be so important.”

    M. Ghil et al. / Physica D 237 (2008) 2111–2126

    Climate dynamics and fluid mechanics: Natural variability
    and related uncertainties

    Abstract
    The purpose of this review-and-research paper is twofold: (i) to review the role played in climate dynamics by fluid-dynamical models; and (ii) to contribute to the understanding and reduction of the uncertainties in future climate-change projections. To illustrate the first point, we review recent theoretical advances in studying the wind-driven circulation of the oceans. In doing so, we concentrate on the large-scale, wind-driven flow of the mid-latitude oceans, which is dominated by the presence of a larger, anticyclonic and a smaller, cyclonic gyre. The two gyres share the eastward extension of western boundary currents, such as the Gulf Stream or Kuroshio, and are induced by the shear in the winds that cross
    the respective ocean basins. The boundary currents and eastward jets carry substantial amounts of heat and momentum, and thus contribute in a
    crucial way to Earth’s climate, and to changes therein.

    Changes in this double-gyre circulation occur from year to year and decade to decade. We study this low-frequency variability of the winddriven, double-gyre circulation in mid-latitude ocean basins, via the bifurcation sequence that leads from steady states through periodic solutions and on to the chaotic, irregular flows documented in the observations. This sequence involves local, pitchfork and Hopf bifurcations, as well as global, homoclinic ones.

    The natural climate variability induced by the low-frequency variability of the ocean circulation is but one of the causes of uncertainties in climate projections. The range of these uncertainties has barely decreased, or even increased, over the last three decades. Another major cause of such uncertainties could reside in the structural instability – in the classical, topological sense – of the equations governing climate dynamics, including but not restricted to those of atmospheric and ocean dynamics.
    We propose a novel approach to understand, and possibly reduce, these uncertainties, based on the concepts and methods of random dynamical
    systems theory. The idea is to compare the climate simulations of distinct general circulation models (GCMs) used in climate projections, by applying stochastic-conjugacy methods and thus perform a stochastic classification of GCM families. This approach is particularly appropriate given recent interest in stochastic parametrization of subgrid-scale processes in GCMs.

    As a very first step in this direction, we study the behavior of the Arnol’d family of circle maps in the presence of noise. The maps’ fine-grained resonant landscape is smoothed by the noise, thus permitting their coarse-grained classification.”

    This is a very important paper in terms of our understanding of atmospheric -ocean circulation coupling.IE it increases our understanding of the fluctuation theorem.

  5. Pamela,
    The E to W direction of the dominant winds near the equator is a result of the coriolis force, a component of Earth’s gravitation, which is indeed due to the planet’s rotation. The coriolis effect makes large moving masses of air deviate to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere. Air moves from the tropics toward the equator to replace the hot air ascending over the latter. On their way to the south and the north, the coriolis effect makes the air masses deviate to the right and the left in the northern and southern hemispheres respectively, hence the north-easterly and south-easterly trade winds. Near the equator, these masses meet along an east-to-west course. Over the equator itself, there is a belt of unstable air with little wind; these are the so-called doldrums where sailships could get caught up in windless air for long periods at a time. The coriolis effect is also responsible for setting up the rotation in developing cyclones (anticlockwise in the northern hemisphere, clockwise in the south).

    Bill,
    Great stuff. I had often wondered about the band of contra-rotating vortices one sees develop over the equator in the SST anomaly plots, as in the animation you link to (particularly well-developed in the 12/29-31/2008 frames). These imply rather fast-moving (relatively speaking) masses of water, which might well be “driven” by stronger-than-average trade winds. This could be checked by comparing the strength of these vortices in the SST anomaly frames over time against the strength of the trade winds.
    BTW

  6. Compare your graphs of trade wind velocity above with the upper troposphere temperature graphs at http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/execute.csh?amsutemps. I checked quite a few years and it looks like there is a correlation between high velocity trade winds and colder upper air temperatures, and lower velocity trades with higher upper air temperatures. It once again looks like the sun is in control of these wind speeds and El Nino and La Nina. The colder air should result in higher pressures around 30 degrees latitude which should increase the strength of the trade winds.

  7. Interesting post….

    It’s interesting that we now have had a prolonged period of +ve SOI.
    This link will show SOI over the past 56 years
    http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/soi2.shtml

    The cool 70’s period is during the most positive phase of the recorded SOI. In fact this period was both cold & very wet down here in Australia. This also coincided with a weak solar cycle. It appears we are now looking at a possible extended +ve phase and once again we are in a weak solar sycle.

    Surely this is just a coincidence !

  8. Or: Both the ENSO and the tradewinds are driven by a third, as yet unidentified mechanism, and therefore vary in tandem … ?

  9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walker_circulation

    “The Walker circulation is caused by the pressure gradient force that results from a high pressure system over the eastern Pacific ocean, and a low pressure system over Indonesia. When the Walker circulation weakens or reverses, an El Niño results, causing the ocean surface to be warmer than average, as upwelling of cold water occurs less or not at all. An especially strong Walker circulation causes a La Niña, resulting in cooler ocean temperatures due to increased upwelling.
    A scientific study published in May 2006 in the journal Nature indicates that the Walker circulation has been slowing since the mid-19th Century. The authors argue that global warming is a likely causative factor in the weakening of the wind pattern.”

    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/research/climate/highlights/PDF/GFDLhighlight_Vol1N3.pdf

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v441/n7089/abs/nature04744.html

    I’ve tried to piece all these effects together, changing conditions of moisture, pressure, heat, wind patterns, and have come away with the impression that AGW modelers are out of their friggin gourds if they think they can predict future global conditions, especially such as a drier southwest US. And the “weather” right now, what with the jet stream way south and a weak lingering LaNina still haunting, one system after another dropping tons of precip on the SW, sure doesn’t appear to be fitting in with their projections.

  10. Quick question (not ment as critique). Since correlation does not imply causality, could it not be the other way around? That the ENSO is driving the wind? From eyeballing the figures, it seems as if the trade winds are lagging the ENSO just slightly. Can I suggest that you do a phase analysis of the two signals? That should resolve the question.

  11. Wrt the airborne particles theory posted by Howard, what comes first, the chicken or the egg ?

    During strong El Nino periods we get drought in Northern Australia and Indonesia and therefore an increase in fires. This means we will likely see an increase in particle pollution as a consequence of the reduced trade wind.

    Am I missing something with this idea ?

  12. It sounds completely convincing to me. The lags etc. may indicate that the winds are the cause and ENSO is the effect – unless it’s the other way around, of course. Still, I would like to know why the trade winds oscillate in intensity. They may be “more elementary” than the temperature indices but they’re still not making things predictive.

  13. Remember, coriolis does not imply causation, Andre. The consensus among climate scientists is that the earth’s temperature is retrospectively caused by the atmospheric CO2 concentration 800 years later (the Gore Effect).

    What an intricate dance our earth is weaving through time and space. This is another beautiful piece of the puzzle you’ve given us, Bill — a potential explanation for what causes the ENSO phenomenon that seems to account for quite a big chunk of year-to-year temperature variation. Intriguingly, the trade winds may be the product of chaotic forces and as such inherently unpredicable. (The 1998 El Nino may even have been initiated by the fluttering , not of the wings of butterflies, but of the arms of all those concerned environmentalists at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.) And if that’s the case it will be pretty difficult to cap, trade or tax the source of that portion of the earth’s thermostat.

  14. I think it is more likely that the tradewind and the ocean current have the same cause. The kinetic energy of the upper ten meters of ocean are the same as for the whole atmosphere above, and they only touch each other on one surface. Correct me if I am wrong.

    How about comparing ENSO with the moons apogee and perigee and its position relative to the equator, together with aphelion and perihelion of earth?
    If the moon in its perigee is north of the equator and in the apogee south, it would have e greater effect on the east2west currents and winds on the souhtern hemisphere. With the earth at aphelion at the same time, it would amplify this effect.
    I can’t find data or a simulation program on the net for this, or what to look for. I only found that we are closest to the sun a few days after newyear.

  15. Are the trade winds blowing clouds across the region preventing the sun from heating the water? If it is as you say that it is just mixing, then the heat still exists but is more spread out. If it is clouds blocking the sun light from warming the oceans, then that would explain the lost heat. Is there a correlation between the trade wind strength and the amount of cloud cover in the Nino area?

    John M Reynolds

  16. Some interesting stuff on the subject here

    Annular Mode

    A hemispheric-scale circulation pattern defined by changes in the westerly winds at midlatitudes. Those winds arise from the temperature contrast between the tropics and polar regions. The annular modes see-saw between positive and negative phases in what’s called a dipole pattern for weeks or months and take a circular shape (annular means ring-shaped). The two major types are the Northern Annular Mode (also called the Arctic Oscillation and strongly related to the North Atlantic Oscillation) and the Southern Annular Mode (also called the Antarctic Oscillation).

    Circulation, Global

    Energy from the Sun puts Earth’s atmosphere and oceans in motion. One reason is that solar radiation is not evenly distributed: the Sun hits the equator more directly than the poles, resulting in more heating in the tropics than at higher latitudes. In addition, the tilt on its axis that gives Earth its seasons results in a twice-yearly shift in the zone of maximum radiation: northward from December to June and southward from June to December.

    Heated air rises above the tropics and flows toward the higher latitudes, where it cools, sinks, and flows back toward the tropics in an easterly (east to west) surface pattern known as the trade winds. This constant, overturning flow in the tropics is called the Hadley circulation.

    Farther from the equator, Earth’s rotation combines with temperature contrasts between the tropics and polar regions to create midlatitude westerlies, along with cyclones and anticyclones, that move heat from the subtropics to higher latitudes. The warm fronts seen on weather maps are the leading edge of warm air pushing poleward, while cold fronts signal the flow of cold air toward the equator.

    The oceans also redistribute heat via the thermohaline circulation, sometimes referred to as the ocean conveyor belt.

    An introduction to atmospheric and ocean circulation, including explanations of pressure gradients and the Coriolis effect, for example, may be found on a University of Wisconsin Web site.

  17. Kinetic energy is maybe the wrong term without talking about the same velocity of the two comparable masses, at the same time. … sorry
    Hope you understand what i mean.

  18. “The winds apparently affect the earths rotation, so I’m not so sure the rotation causes the winds…?
    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2003/0210rotation.html

    The winds are created from high and low pressure cells, and that’s all caused from temperature differences related to the suns energy “influence” on the oceans/land and cyclical weather patterns. The only change for rotation is our bulging earth. Same rotation, just a bigger girth, adding one more second to our rotation this year( and more). Sea levels have been rising since the ice age, natural global warming the culprit.
    It’s most ridicules to claim that AGW is now taking over for the SUN influences and when it comes to rises in seas levels (and temp). This has come to a stop or dropped for more then a few years.

    Reason,

    Expansion of our planet through planetary continental divide(seen on most planets) … of course caused by the sun/sun and planetary momentome magnetic forces.

  19. Coupled with Bob Tisdale’s work on the links between El Nino and upward step changes in temp, and his work on the correlation of cloud cover and SST’s, we have a nice group of variables to play with. Toss GLAAM (Global Atmospheric Angular Momentum) into the mix, and it’s relationship with LOD (Length of Day) and the earth’s magnetic index, and we’re getting somewhere at last.

    Really exciting stuff. Well done Bill Illis!

  20. We reside in the suns atmosphere and solar radiation varies between sun cycle peaks and troughs. Does the suns gravitational pull on the earth vary between solar maximum and solar minimum, which in turn affects the earths gravitation which in turn affects trade winds?

  21. So the water is hot… then the wind blows…. water cools…. less wind…. then the water heats….. then the wind blows….. sounds like a cycle to me…
    let us add to this… the sun is 0.1C hotter the wind blows harder…. water cools faster…. wind stops fast…. even reverse… then the sun cools 0.1C….. water heats slower… the wind blows slowly not enough to cool water completely to stop wind…..
    to heat water…. LIA?????? MWP????
    Just my 2C
    In electronics if we have two transmitters on at the same time, you can get “beats,or sidebands” of different frequencies. if we have sun cycle and add a geo thermal cycle there might be a sideband and or moments of both +/- here again mwp/lia?
    Jeff ID? here is something to put into a regem mod. lol
    NOOOOO!!!! it is CO2 driving weather!!!!! C+O2= IR2…… rolls eyes ! LOL

  22. We’ve found that the upper ocean heat content is an even better leading indicator than trade winds. Check it out here:

  23. Tim, you’re right of course. I was just pointing out the origin of the E-to-W winds to Pamela.

    Onanym, the thought also occurred to me. Wind strength is a result of pressure differentials, which near the equator in the Pacific would seem to be defined by temperature differentials over open water between the tropics and the equator. So, at a first glance, one might argue that higher temps over the equator would produce higher temp differentials and hence stronger winds. However, the SST anomaly maps illustrate that the situation is far more complex than this simple picture. Ed Zuiderwijk may have a point too. Too easy to jump to straightforward conclusions, although I must admit Bill’s graphs are compelling, to say the least. Good job, as i said earlier.

  24. Thanks Bill for this – nice graphics, though we are still left with the question of what the ultimate driver is – winds respond to pressure differences, and pressure differences can result from warm/cold surface waters or….solar effects in the upper atmosphere. We shouldn’t forget that Landscheidt had a formula for solar timing that enabled him to predict El Nino in 1998 and 2002, as well as the current run of La Nina and neutral conditions.

    Glenn – just looked at that paper from the Fluid Dynamics people at Princeton. Their work would repay closer study – wish I had the time! They claim to have a simulation that captures the ENSO oscillation and Walker cell slow-down and that it shows anthropogenic cause – i.e. that their models do not replicated the slow down unless they have an excess greenhouse gas component. From then on, in IPCC-speak, they take this as a proof of global warming theory. Of course the models only have a solar TSI component. The slow down is a century-long phenomenon – it would be instructive to have a break-down of its displacement in time – I bet that it is dominated by the 1980-2000 period and the 1998 super ENSO event – in which case, their explanation of the post-2002 stillstand on ocean heat content and recent la Nina would be interesting – though probably put down to random variability.

    There tends to be a focus upon trends rather than cycles. And no talk of teleconnections. There is work on the phase interaction of the PDO and ENSO, with negative phases of the PDO dampening the amplitude of ENSO – which appears to be what we have now. Paleo-ecological studies (tree rings and sediment studies) show centennial cycles of ENSO intensity correlating with, for example, the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age – thus implying a link with solar magnetic cycles.

    I share your reaction, Glenn, to the all-too-ready statements that the slowing walker circulation demonstrates AGW when those researchers have no explanation for the obvious low frequency modulation of ENSO and the equally obvious correlation with the recent solar maximum. Their close ties to the IPCC are advertised in the paper. It smacks of self-fulfilling prophetic models.

  25. Like the charts Bill

    Clearly the tropical ocean temperatures drive the world temperatures, you see a 2 or 3 month lag for tropical temperatures, I saw about a 6-month lag on world wide temperatures. The miss alignment in the temperature-Nino graph in the 1982 83 time frame is probably due to volcanism. Nothing big in volcanoes in 91 the other big misfit in the data, although this was during a peak in sunspot activity, which should have driven the temperature up a little.

  26. In my last comment I mentioned no volcanism in 91, scratch that I forgot I time shifted by volcano time line by 8 months to align better with global temperatures, there was a peak in optical thickness about the right time frame for the misfit in the curves in the 01, 02 time frame.

  27. Just to add to the correlation confusion, here is a link to an interesting paper from the Chinese Science Bulletin:

    “New evidence for possible impact of solar activity on long-term fluctuation of the earth rotation”. LIAO Dechun & LIAO Xinhao
    download it here:
    http://www.scichina.com:8080/kxtbe/EN/article/downloadArticleFile.do?attachType=PDF&id=313823

    and another possibly interesting paper from the same source:
    “Movement of earth rotation and activities of atmosphere and ocean”. ZHOU Yonghong, ZHENG Dawei, YU Nanhua & LIAO Xinhao
    download it here:
    http://www.scichina.com:8080/kxtbe/EN/article/downloadArticleFile.do?attachType=PDF&id=313828

    I gather from readings elsewhere that there are Earth processes that significantly lag changes in LOD and others that significantly lead it. It’s even possible to predict el niños from the LOD changes. So the relationship is not strictly one-way cause and effect – as some people like to theorize; it’s a lot more complicated.

  28. If the Trade Winds really do drive El Nino & La Nina (rather than some third factor), with those in turn driving global temperature, then this would seem to imply that the fluctuations in global temperature are simply caused by whether solar heating gets dragged down into the depths of the ocean or not.

    So when the Trade Winds stall, preventing the heated ocean from taking that heat away, then this warms the atmosphere, and global temperature tends to go up. Certainly sounds like a nice, physically plausible mechanism :-) rather than say something like CO2 (which needs massively unrestrained & unstable positive water vapour feedback).

  29. As has been pointed out, “correlation does not imply causation”; even if ENSO lagged weakened Trade Winds, that would not imply the weakening of Trade Winds caused ENSO (or vice versa): it would be just as possible that a third (as yet unknown) phenomenon caused both with different lag times. All this just points to something to investigate further, not to any conclusion. Let’s not fall in the same trap most AGW believers do.

    On the other hand, I am wondering why ENSO happens in the Pacific Ocean and not in the Atlantic or Indian Oceans; there are Trade Winds in all of them. Maybe the larger East-West size of the Pacific allows for the establishment of an oscillation, which would point to a geographical reason for it. Maybe an East-West temperature oscillation is a natural feature of any body of water with enough East-West equatorial size for it, and it just happens that under the current continental configuration only the Pacific is large enough.

  30. Bill Illis: Thanks for the post and the links to the trade wind data. And to answer your question…

    The trade winds are driven by the SST differences between the Pacific Warm Pool and the Eastern Equatorial Pacific, and vice versa. The average annual SST difference between the east and west equatorial Pacific is about 4.5 deg C. Refer to the graph I prepared for an upcoming post.

    The warm air rises over the Pacific Warm Pool, causing an inflow of air from the east where SSTs are cooler. The inflow of air pushes more warm water west and that increases the SST difference. In other words, the temperature difference causes the trade winds and the trade winds cause the temperature difference. Bill Kessler of the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory provides a reasonably non-technical description here:
    http://faculty.washington.edu/kessler/occasionally-asked-questions.html#q1

    As you said, when the trade winds relax, an El Nino occurs. The Equatorial Counter Current (which flows west to east) increases in volume. Warmer water sloshes east. The warm water doesn’t necessarily have to come from the warm pool because the water to the west (refer to temperature gradient graph above) is warmer than it is in the east and any increase in west to east flow will bring warmer than normal water eastward. This adds to the increase in SST anomaly. I prepared a video of the changes in the equatorial Pacific current flows before, during, and after the 1997/98 El Nino. Refer to:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/02/equatorial-currents-before-during-and.html

    Bill, you wrote, “When the Trades are weaker than average for a long enough period of time, the ocean surface stalls in place and gets heated day after day by the equatorial Sun and we have an El Nino. Sometimes, this stalling even results in warmer ocean water from the Western Pacific moving backwards into the Nino region and this also contributes to El Nino conditions.”

    The Northern and Southern Pacific equatorial currents slow and the counter current increases during an El Nino. I don’t know that they stall in place. Any temperature rise that would occur due the slowing of the Northern and Southern Pacific equatorial currents (“gets heated day after day by the equatorial Sun”) would be countered by the increase in cloud amount, which would reduce downward shortwave radiation.

    The Pavlakis et al (2008) paper “ENSO Surface Shortwave Radiation Forcing over the Tropical Pacific” identifies the variations in surface downward shortwave radiation over portions of the Pacific Oceans caused by El Nino-produced cloud cover changes.
    http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/8/6697/2008/acpd-8-6697-2008-print.pdf

    Also, it appears there is flow from the west to east Pacific (and back again) regardless of the strength of the El Nino. This can be seen in the equatorial Pacific Warm Water Volume data here:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2008/11/equatorial-pacific-warm-water-volume.html

    During El Ninos, there are also shifts (major decreases) in cloud cover over the Pacific Warm Pool, which would warm the PWP. Refer to the Pavlakis paper above.

    Discussed in this post:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/02/recharging-pacific-warm-pool-part-2.html

    And don’t forget the changes in the thermocline, illustrated in the video here:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/02/cross-sectional-views-of-three.html
    The NASA video “Visualizing El Nino” has a great depiction of the changes in the thermocline during the 97/98 El Nino:
    http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a000200/a000287/a000287.mpg

    As you know, there are many coupled ocean-atmosphere processes at play during an El Nino. Someday, we may have a handle on all of them, but until that time, predictions of El Ninos will continue to be hit-and-miss.

  31. Glenn, I wouldn’t trust wikipedia on nanything remotely to do with climate – there are people who spend their life fixing the wiki AGW tilt.

  32. Thanks to all the comments so far,

    I just wanted to note first that this is generally understood in the research community studying the ENSO. But for some reason, it is just not widely understood by the general public so my post is really just about demonstrating it so we can all understand it this way.

    I’ve found that the Trades over the Nino regions and especially the Trades just to the west of Nino regions consistently lead all these other indicators others have mentioned including the Upper Ocean Heat Content and the SOI.

    The lead is sometimes only a month or two (or for the western Trades, a few months). At least half the time, they are concurrent as well.

    That is why my charts have so many “sometimes” in them. They are consistently ahead or concurrent but never behind or lagged. The climate is variable and a little chaotic and we need describe it more often as “most of the time, ….” and “sometimes … ” rather than the very definitive “it always leads too …”

    In terms of whether the ocean temps are, in fact, driving the Winds and not the other way around, I don’t think the data can’t really prove which drives which.

    It does show which comes first most of the time however. Secondly, we know wind can move water. Waves are a good example. The same kind of equatorial winds blow across the land as well such as in Africa.

    Physically, it is difficult to see how ocean temperatures can cause a consistent pattern of winds high up into the atmosphere while we have a very good physical explanation of how the winds can drive the surface ocean currents and temperature. This is backed-up by the research community studying the ENSO and by the other measures such how the different thermoclines below the ENSO are reacting.

    So it seems, it is much more likely that it is the winds which are driving the ENSO rather than the other way around. It might be better to think of it in terms of the winds are reinforcing or mutiplying the natural ocean circulation patterns which exist.

  33. In terms of how much an El Nino or a La Nina can affect temperatures,

    Regression of the two variables using all the data which is available shows that the ENSO can impact …

    Tropics temps by up to +/-0.5C with a lag of 2 to 3 months for the impact to occur.

    Global temperatures by up to +/-0.2C with a lag of about 3 months.

    These are the maximum values. The 1997-98 El Nino, for example, reached these maximum values while neutral Nino conditions will have a neutral impact on temperatures.

    The effect seems to be continuous as the tropics and global temp charts shown above seem to continuously follow behind the ENSO.

  34. My feeling at the moment, unless someone has a better idea, is that the initial causation may be a change in net warming or cooling of the air, as a whole, globally.

    That would change the air circulation patterns resulting in the observed wind effect on the ocean surfaces but would itself have been caused by changes in the rate of release or absorption of energy from the ocean surfaces.

    There seems to be some sort of interaction between the air circulation and the ocean circulation which changes depending on whether the oceans are globally warming the air or globally cooling it.

    ENSO would be a major part of that interaction but would be modified in it’s effect by other variables such as solar input and the phases of the cycles in the other oceans.

    The global warming trend or cooling trend in the air, initiated by the oceans, then leads on to all the variations in both circulations that seem to be causing so much puzzlement.

  35. The simple answer is that winds are created because of the temperature imbalance in the atmosphere. If the atmosphere were perfectly homogeneous (an impossible situation) there would be no wind. Temperature differences are a product of the sun. So, the sun drives the temperature which in turn drives the wind and it’s the complex details which create such an amazing story. I would look to the temp first then wind second.

  36. In terms of whether the ocean temps are, in fact, driving the Winds and not the other way around, I don’t think the data can’t really prove which drives which.

    However, logic can. Sunlight absorbed by the water is the source of energy in the system (explained well by Bob Tisdale above) so it’s ocean temperatures that drive the winds. No doubt there is some feedback from the winds, but since the system is trying to balance an unequal distribution of energy it would make most sense to attribute the “driving” force to the location of the most energy (ocean, not air).

  37. Alec, a.k.a Daffy Duck (05:03:37) :
    Hmmm… FROM NOAA Feb 17th, SEE page 28:
    “The CFS ensemble mean (heavy blue line) indicates La Niña ending during FMA 2009 with El Niño conditions developing by JJA 2009.”
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf
    Hmmm… El Nino June-July-August????

    It looks like they have clairified what they man by ‘conditions’ and an actual La Nina episode
    By historical standards, to be classified as a full-fledged El Niño or La Niña episode,these thresholds must be exceeded for a period of at least 5 consecutive overlapping 3-month seasons.

    CPC considers El Niño or La Niña conditionsto occur when the monthly Niño3.4 SST departures meet or exceed +/-0.5°C along with consistent atmospheric features.

  38. Let me see if I understand this correctly. The Trade Winds are caused by cooler air from higher latitudes moving to replace warmer air in the tropics that is ascending and this is influenced by coriolis force to move the air masses E to W in the Pacific. The result is the Trade Winds movement ‘dragging’ warm surface waters towards Asia, that water being replaced by cooler water from the depths off the coast of South America.

    If this is true then would not the Trade Winds decrease in intensity if the temperature differential between the tropic and higher latitudes decrease? If so, if CO2 does heat the atmosphere in the higher latitudes then the result would be weaker trade winds and el Nino conditions?

  39. Steve W,: You wrote, “It would be interesting to know that the ENSO contribution to the global anomaly is. The billion dollar question is: What number of El Nino degrees C were part of the 1998 peak. If the models didn’t include this, then they would have concluded that too much of the warming was man made.”
    In the paper “Evolution of El Nino–Southern Oscillation and global atmospheric surface temperatures” (2000), Trenberth et al state on page 4, “The regression coefficient based on the detrended relationship is 0.094 deg C per N3.4 and is deemed more appropriate. The N3.4 contribution is given in Figure 3. It shows that for the 1997–1998 El Nino, where N3.4 peaked at ~2.5 deg C, the global mean temperature was elevated as much as 0.24 deg C (Figure 2)[Their Figure 2], although, averaged over the year centered on March 1998, the value drops to ~0.17deg C.”
    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/papers/2000JD000298.pdf

    Unfortunately, regression analyses do NOT pick up the step changes in the East Indian and West Pacific Oceans caused by significant El Ninos that aren’t suppressed by volcanic eruptions. Anthony posted about this “phenomenon” back in January. The original versions from my blog follow. The mislabeling of the graphs have been corrected in mine.
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/01/can-el-nino-events-explain-all-of.html
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/01/can-el-nino-events-explain-all-of_11.html
    And the supplements:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/01/supplement-to-can-enso-events-explain.html
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/01/supplement-2-to-can-enso-events-explain.html
    The WattsUpWithThat versions are here:
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/11/can-el-nino-events-explain-all-of-the-global-warming-since-1976-%e2%80%93-part-1/
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/12/can-el-nino-events-explain-all-of-the-global-warming-since-1976-%e2%80%93-part-2/

    Matt: You wrote, “We’ve found that the upper ocean heat content is an even better leading indicator than trade winds. Check it out here:
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/weeklyenso/heat-last-year.gif”
    A link to the data is here:
    http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/index/heat_content_index.txt
    It’s not really OHC, which is usually expressed in Joules. NOAA better describes the data as the “average temperature in the upper 300 meters, deg C”. They provide three datasets. They correlate very well with the SST for the same latitudes and longitudes, discussed here:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2008/11/average-subsurface-temperature-of.html

    Frederick Davies: You wrote, “On the other hand, I am wondering why ENSO happens in the Pacific Ocean and not in the Atlantic or Indian Oceans; there are Trade Winds in all of them. Maybe the larger East-West size of the Pacific allows for the establishment of an oscillation, which would point to a geographical reason for it. Maybe an East-West temperature oscillation is a natural feature of any body of water with enough East-West equatorial size for it, and it just happens that under the current continental configuration only the Pacific is large enough.”

    Bill Kessler of NOAA’s PMEL discusses that here:
    http://faculty.washington.edu/kessler/occasionally-asked-questions.html#q19

  40. Excellent piece of work Bill. Just another very inexpensive but sound piece of research that helps us realise just how much more there is to climate other than AGW. But when will these IPCC ‘scientists’ stop running computer codes and read such work?

  41. Applying socrates´ “mayeutic method” i would ask: What causes these trade winds?, which is their ultimate cause?. Moon tides, coupling moon, planets tides?, Tacoma´s bridge phenomena (resonance), etc. A lot to think about.

  42. And…do not forget taking into account that the people who named El Nino as such (the descendants of the Moche Culture people) blame the Sun for this phenomena CLICK

    REPLY: Just type in the URL with the comment, don’t bother with tags – Anthony

  43. “When the Trade Winds are stronger than average for a sustained period of time, the Trades literally blow or drag the warm surface water across the Pacific and it is replaced by colder upwelling ocean water from below. If the Trades are strong enough for a long enough period of time, we have a La Nina.”

    Biil, assume that you are right that the Trade Winds drive the ENSO, what then causes the trade winds to be stronger than average?

  44. The CFS ensemble mean forecasts of Nino conditions are not very accurate. While they should be taken into account, the accuracy is pretty low.

    The prediction (including the November forecasts) leading into this Nino season was for neutral conditions. A few weeks later and there is a La Nina.

    The prediction as late as February 2007 was for just a 1% chance of a La Nina developing in 2007 and by the time the forecast had been published, the La Nina trend had already started.

    I’ve been following the ENSO since I was very young when the 1982-83 super El Nino started to make the news. I haven’t noticed good predictive capability in the forecasts ahead of the events.

    You can review the archive of the Nina predictions here.

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/ENSO_DD_archive.shtml

  45. It is generally understood and this post will demonstrate that it is really driven by the Trade Winds over the ENSO region

    Winds are a response to pressure differentials and I would think pressure differentials are ultimately caused by heat. So mabye this is mixing cause and effect?

  46. Hm. The Hypothesis of Marcel Leroux starts with what drives the trade winds. He registered ‘pulses’ in the trade winds and postulates that they are driven by Mobile Polar Highs (MPH) when they end up near the equator.
    His book ‘Global Warming – Myth or Reality’ (ISBN-13: 978-3540239093) is a fascinating read. Try http://www.amazon.de/Global-Warming-Climatology-Springer-Environmental/dp/354023909X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books-intl-de&qid=1234969104&sr=8-1

  47. So it appears that trade wind speed decides if we have more El Nino’s (a quiet warm pond) or more La Nina’s (an agitated, thus colder pond). CO2, if it had any affect on trade wind speed should lead to the East to West trade wind speed slowing down, thus setting up the Pacific oscillation to its warm El Nino conditions as the predominant condition. So here is the test. Are the trade winds slowing as CO2 increases? What are its windspeeds right now? What has been the correlation in the past between trade wind speed and atmospheric CO2?

  48. Don’t overlook tallbloke’s comments above.
    We know LOD varies continually, partly a function of seasonal distribution of ice mass and partly a function of variable magnetic coupling betwixt sun and earth.
    We know that as the rotational rate derivative changes, angular momentum is transferred between solid and fluid (atmosphere and ocean). (GLAAM is a poor measure of this.)
    From a consideration of physics alone, this must be A (probably THE) major driver of changes in the trades. But not the only driver, as Tisdale points out; this is a complex, chaotic system….a chaotic system that is easily modeled, of course, which is why our weather forecasts are so bloomin’ accurate.

  49. Andre Tahon (22.47.47)
    Something else to ponder on;
    in the Northern hemisphere water, when in a bath, will, when the plug is pulled will turn in an anticlockwise direction. In the Southern hemisphere it goes down the hole in a clockwise direction, I think Sir, all is not as simple as it seems, as gravity has a very important part to play in our weather systems.

    REPLY:
    It manifests itself in something known as the Coriolis force – Anthony

  50. As i have pointed out before, every El NINO since 1980 has shown an anomalous cool pool at 150m depth in the 160e to 180e area. That cool pool has grown and spread east, over time, during the El NINO. During every La NINA since 1980, the exact opposite condition exists. The developement of El Ninos/La Ninas can be observed here http://www.bom.gov.au/bmrc/ocean/results/pastanal.htm. Since we are in a classic La NINA configuration, which takes several months to subside, and then several months for an El NINO to develope, it is very unlikelt that we will see an El NINO before August. The Indonesia area, where the Pacific Warm Pool exists, is also a very active geothermal area, which is not well accounted for in ENSO analysis.

  51. What you have here, is a complex system consisting of oscillators, inside oscillators inside oscillators. Each oscillator moving at its own natural resonate frequency, sometimes helping or hindering the larger oscillator it is part of and sometimes being aided or retarded by a junior oscillator which is a part of it.

    For a thought experiment, lets suppose we could let the earth stabilize to an absolutely isothermal condition, then “turn on” the weather, sun etc. to let the drivers begin to drive the system. At some place somewhere on the plains of some continent, the local heating on one slope of a gentle valley would be more strongly heated by the sun than the opposite slope. The warmed air above the more favorably heated slope would start to move up slope due to heating, and the cooler air on the other side of the valley would start to sink. You now have a small convection cell, which would quietly circulate until it gets strong enough to lift the warm air column above condensation level and start to condense a cloud out. Since the sun is almost never directly over head the shadow of the cloud would cool another piece of ground(not under the main updraft) that used to be heated by the sun. That air would sink and then get pulled under the rising column of convection, adding more energy. Eventually you get a thunder storm which, develops a strong updraft and pulls in warm moist air to feed the storm. Then it suddenly dumps rain, cooling the ground below it and producing a strong cool down draft. That produces a cold outflow boundary which sweeps across 100 miles of terrain as it mixes with local air and warms back up. This kick starts other convection cells into full fledged thunder storms and the cycle continues for ever.

    Each small perturbation in that isothermal earth would do the same thing. Over time some of those local systems join to feed each other or inhibit each other and then you have large scale circulations.

    In short you have a chaotic system with uncountable numbers of inputs all trying to equalize some small imbalance of forces/effects (temperature, density, humidity, radiant heat loss, radiant heat gain). Some of these actions amplify near by motions others inhibit near by motions. Some build into large scale regional circulations, which in turn build into global scale circulations.

    Likewise on a global scale you have stronger heating near the equator than higher latitudes due to the curvature of the earth and the angle of incidence of the suns rays causing differential heating from the equator to the poles. Then you have different albedo of surfaces (sometimes albedo that changes by time of day due to terrain slope and sun angle).

    I think we can reasonably expect to identify the more dominant factors, but to think we can trace that chain of instabilities and oscillations down to their source is naive in my view. Due to clouds, differences in humidity, winds and lifting due to terrain, axial tilt, rotation of the earth, orbit around the sun, the conditions are never uniform and always trying to equalize something.

    Bottom line you have the butterfly effect in action. Everything is triggered by everything else in some measure, and everything drives something else, like a mobius strip, you cannot find the end, as one driven element always will lead to another driver, which in turn is driven by yet another driver.

    Stability in an electronic circuit is determined by the degree of feed back and its phase to the input, change the phase shift or the strength of the feed back or modify dampening (resistance) and the characteristic frequency of oscillation will change. If you get the feed backs small enough or negative you have a stable circuit, but even a stable circuit will ring if you hit it hard enough. It just will not ring very long.

    The tradewinds, sea surface temperature, and build up of pools of warm water are all elements of the same oscillator. You change any of them, and you change all of them. At some level of input they reinforce each other, but eventually that hump of hot water in the west gets big enough that it over powers the trade winds and tries to slosh back to the east. That changes the driving forces for the winds since thermal uplift is now occurring in a different place, so the whole system reorganizes. When you shift from El Nino to La Nina you didn’t change just one thing you have a whole new system.

    At least that is how I see it, coming from the perspective of a severe storm chaser. We would see this chaos play out day after day. All the atmospheric conditions were favorable for explosive thunderstorm development and nothing would happen because too many thunder cells tried to form at the same time each stealing energy from its neighbor. On other days with lower theoretical potential, you would have one cell that got just a tiny head start on its neighbors and it would grow to a monster super cell and create its own local weather environment and literally “eat” other smaller storms.

    Weather is fascinating, but I suspect will never be predictable in the common sense use of the word. I fear the best we can do is establish trends and probable outcomes.

    Larry

  52. Bill Illis: I’ve been looking (with no success) for data on the flow rates and reversals of the Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent and the Pacific Equatorial Intermediate Current. It would be nice to see the time-series data of those, too. I’ll keep looking, but I have a funny feeling there’s nothing available.

  53. It sounds like we are just beginning to understand our climate and it’s mechanisms.

    Regardless, what in the (blank) are we waiting for?

    We must extract Americas oil NOW. The revenue and savings generated from home grown American energy will STIMULATE our economy. We are facing an economic crisis. Is there a [better] time to tap our own reserves? This will help buy us time to recover economically and help pay for alternative energy.

    Drill here, drill now!

    The prophet Al Gore and his blind sheep are only fueling the problem. This is simply more proof that extremists, sometimes unknowingly, erode the pillars of national security.

    Wake up America. The planet is not anthropologically unstable. Some of the people are.

  54. The complexity of ENSO is the reason that the worlds best minds and computers demonstrate little skill in ENSO forcasts. The trades are major contributors but there are additional contributions by SST’s in different locations and even the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Not only will these factors play a role in the onset and duration of ENSO events, but their magnitude as well. Then there are subsurface temperatures associated with kelvin waves which also play a major role in ENSO.
    The contribution of PDO is rather easy. The weather patterns that accompany different PDO phases will modulate the temperature of the SST’s being blown into the Equatorial Pacific. For instance, during a cool PDO phase, cool upwelling off the North American coast will be blown into the Nino 3 region which in turn prevents the warm tongue from propagating much farther than 140 or 160w. This holds the atmosphere along the equator in a neutral or La Nina pattern. If there is no contribution of cool SST’s to that area, then the warm tongue will move farther east and change the vertical structure of the atmosphere creating a greater liklihood of El Nino.

  55. One important aspect which might help those looking for the driver of the Trade Winds is that there is a strong seasonal component to the ENSO.

    About 80% of El Ninos and La Ninas start developing in the late spring and early summer. They peak around November to January.

    The current La Nina is one of non-traditional 20% which do not follow this timeline although the peak could have been in January so it might fit as well.

    So, it appears there is a driver related to the northern hemisphere summer which peaks and declines as the winter solstice hits.

    The sun is directly overhead of the Tropic of Cancer as the trend starts, the sun then moves over the equator as the trend is accelerating the most and then the Sun is overhead of the Tropic of Capricorn as the Nino peaks and declines.

    Something to think about anyway.

    Pamela Gray asked about the current strength of the Trades. The Trades over the ENSO region are a little above average right now but the leading Trade Winds to the West are at their highest level in the record since 1979. This should lead to strengthening La Nina conditions if the correlation follows the previous trends.

  56. Bob Tisdale, re the data on the currents… I’d expect that data to be available at TAO… if not then try SCRIPPS, they’ve published a few studies on them… I usually just look at the thermocline slope since it’s going to give you the same general information in different terms and is probably a bit more relevant.

  57. Bill: Is it possible that a reduction in geothermal heat, in the area around Indonesia, leads to a reduction in the supply of warm air lifting. This could lead to a reduction in East to West trade winds. As a consequence, the warm pool, along with the now anomalous cool pool, migrate East. Upwelling of cold deep water continues to feed the cool pool, which grows, frequently reaching the West coast of S. America. Food for thought.

  58. Alan Chappell (07:07:07) :
    Andre Tahon (22.47.47)
    Something else to ponder on;
    in the Northern hemisphere water, when in a bath, will, when the plug is pulled will turn in an anticlockwise direction. In the Southern hemisphere it goes down the hole in a clockwise direction, I think Sir, all is not as simple as it seems, as gravity has a very important part to play in our weather systems.

    REPLY: It manifests itself in something known as the Coriolis force – Anthony

    The Coriolis Force is due to rotation not gravity.

  59. “what then causes the trade winds to be stronger than average?”

    In the industrial production of ozone the air is dried by chilling it to minus 80°C because ozone is very soluble in water.

    On the west of all the major continents where the air is driest at about 30° of latitude high pressure cells tend to linger that bring ozone rich air downward into the upper troposphere. When the intensity of ultraviolet light from the sun increases, temperature rises in this ozone rich air and weakens the downdraft, lowers the surface pressure and with it the strength of the trade winds that blow across the ocean to the low pressure zones that form over the warm waters that accumulate in the west.

    In short, its the sun.

    More at http://climatechange1.wordpress.com/2009/01/02/the-southern-oscillation-and-the-sun-2/

    It appears that the upper 300 metres of the eastern Pacific, the coldest part, is currently warming. See http://www.ecmwf.int/products/forecasts/d/charts/ocean/real_time/xzmaps/

    When the upper troposphere warms, the ice cloud (cirrus) tends to disappear. That accounts for the surface warming that relates strongly to the temperature of the upper troposphere, the change in surface pressure in the high pressure cells at 30° of latitude and the strength of the easterlies that Bill has so neatly identified and described.

    Bill, I like the choice of the 850hPa pressure level. Nothing ambiguous about that.

    The climate shift of 1978 involved a massive increase in upper troposphere temperature at 30° latitude where ozone content is highest. Between 100hPa and 200hPa the trend since that date has been for temperature to decline.

    The run of strong El Ninos that we have had since 1978 has diminished the level of humidity in the troposphere and with it cloud cover. It has increase the humidity of the stratosphere reducing its ozone content resulting in cooling. But since 2000 the stratosphere is starting to warm again as ozone recovers.

    Looks to me like El Ninos occur about every four years and the intensity rises and falls over the 100 year solar cycle period.

  60. It’s not the Coriolis but the lack of Coriolis at the equator. The lack of spin associated with vertical movement of air and water is a major contributor as to why there is ENSO in the first place. There is something of a separate weather and sst zone within about 5 to 10 degrees of the equator in each direction.

  61. srchuck (07:05:41) :
    We know LOD varies continually, […] and partly a function of variable magnetic coupling betwixt sun and earth.
    No, that has not been demonstrated. I’m sure you can find many claims of that, but that does not make it so.

  62. “But what drives these Trade Winds? I don’t really have an answer for that question”

    Just read Marcel Leroux…

  63. Erl Happ (08:36:52) :
    When the intensity of ultraviolet light from the sun increases, temperature rises in this ozone rich air and weakens the downdraft…
    In short, its the sun.

    No. The amount of ozone in the upper troposphere depends on dynamical processes [waves] and transport mechanisms between controlling the downward intrusions of ozone from the stratosphere, thus driven from below. Solar activity has little [if anything] to do with this.

  64. I wish the term “driver” were not so attractive. It means or implies “controls, steers, forces, compels”, all seemingly in a linear system, e.g., continuous movement towards a goal. The intensity of our desire to find the driver of earth’s weather and climate seems to pull us away from appreciating dynamic or chaotic systems and disenables us from the pleasure of understanding fundamental conditions.

    The idea of control (of the driver) also seems to be what energizes the AGW/evil-CO2 camp and gives them the emotional impetus to appeal to a world-wide audience (along with billions, no, make that trillions, of dollars). WUWT enables readers to include an increasing level of complex thinking (and sometimes it hurts), but the desire for “a” or “the driver” continues. IMO as long as the search for linear causation continues, the scientific community will always be on the losing end of the politically motivated pseudo-science. People hear what they want to hear — unless they can bear the pain of understanding for a later, greater good, and maybe even joy.

    Similarly, the concept of “the greenhouse” or GHG, when used by the scientific community seems to me to compound the problems of explaining the conditions of solar system, atmosphere, weather, and climate to a larger audience. Greenhouses are created by humans and under our “control”.

    Is there a way to clarify the language to help people understand the scientific concepts on their most fundamental level without an appeal to the most basic of human emotions and desires — love and control. Translation: we love our home the earth so much we must find the driver that is destroying paradise and excise it. IMO, this attempt will involve some mental pain, but might be worth the effort.

  65. “In short, its the sun.”

    I suspect when we get right down to it, the sun is ultimately driving this mechanism. Maybe not with direct radiation, maybe its magnetic, I don’t know. But if I were a betting man, I’d place a large amount on the sun as the primary influence on ENSO. One way or another…

  66. The Trade Winds blow East to West at the equator.

    I never realized that. It makes sense if you consider inertia forces as the atmosphere tappers off with altitude.

  67. We need to take all of our windmills and use them to power windmills in Africa so we can regulate our weather using the trade winds!

    Insurgent:
    The winds are caused by the linear speed differences caused by rotation. Winds at the equator have to travel faster to keep angular movement equal to the winds at say Montreal. But that would mean a tremendous energy force. But this does not happen. What we get instead are winds at the equator that are slower than the earths rotation. The rest of the earth rotates, and counter winds flow the other way. (Creating tornadoes if conditions are right) Every rotating body has levels of counter-rotating winds, with the winds at the center being opposite the direction of rotation.

    These winds also dragon the surface and can reduce or speed angular rotational speed. This then either increases or decreases the accumulated heat, respectively, which modifies the global wind flows.

  68. JamesG (04:22:42) :
    I gather from readings elsewhere that there are Earth processes that significantly lag changes in LOD and others that significantly lead it.

    Details man, details!
    :-)

  69. In addition to finding studies which state that winds cause ocean currents, compare any diagram of trade winds to a diagram of surface ocean currents. The wind blows the water against a continent, and surface currents flow as best they can around the shoreline.

  70. Bill Illis – Great post in explaining the trade wind links to La Nina/El Nino.

    Magnetosphere modulating cosmic rays
    On what causes those, one possible cause is variation in earth’s magnetosphere modulating galactic cosmic rays which affect cloud nucleation, which in turn affects the radiated vs absorbed insolation. The higher cloud density near the tropics would result in variation in ocean surface temperatures more in the tropics than in temperature regions.

    Marsh (2003) shows correlation between galactic cosmic rays and El Niño–Southern Oscillation trends. Brown (2008) shows about short term correlations between 3% cloud cover variations and cosmic radiation.

    The magnetosphere in turn may be modulated by solar cycles and/or internal field dynamics. Rusov et al. (2008) propose internal dynamics modulating cosmic rays.

    2009 studies show cosmic rays storms have a strong impact on stratospheric temperatures. e.g. 40 deg C changes.
    Following some references to these issues.

    David

    A brief summary of cosmoclimatology Danish National Space Center

    Svensmark, Henrik, Cosmoclimatology: a new theory emerges. A & G, February 2007, Vol. 48 #1, 18-24

    Marsh, Nigel, Galactic cosmic ray and El Niño–Southern Oscillation trends in International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project D2 low-cloud properties, J. Geophysical Research, V. 108, No. D6, 4195, doi:10.1029/2001JD001264, 2003

    Brian H. Brown, Short-term changes in global cloud cover and in cosmic radiation, Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics Volume 70, Issue 7, May 2008, Pages 1122-1131 See: Whiterose Online copy
    “There is an association between short-term changes in low cloud cover and galactic cosmic radiation over a period of several days. This could arise if approximately 3% of the variations in cloud cover resulted from GCR.”

    Rusov, V; A. Glushkov, V. Vaschenko, O. Mihalys, S. Kosenko, S. Mavrodiev, B. Vachev, Galactic Cosmic Rays – Clouds Effect and Bifurcation Model of the Earth Global Climate. Part 1. Theory, Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics, (2008) In Press arXiv:0803.2765v2

    Rusov, V; A. Glushkov, V. Vaschenko, О. Mihalys, S. Kosenko, S. Mavrodiev, B. Vachev, Galactic Cosmic Rays – Clouds Effect and Bifurcation Model of the Earth Global Climate. Part 2. Comparison of Theory with Experiment. Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics, (2008) In Press arXiv:0803.2766

    Cosmic rays detected deep underground reveal secrets of the upper atmosphere, A joint press release issued by the UK’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), 21st January 2009
    http://www.ncas.ac.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=446&Itemid=249

    Knudsen , Mads Faurschou & Riisager, Peter. Is there a link between Earth’s magnetic field and low-latitude precipitation? Geology 2009;37;71-74 doi:10.1130/G25238A.1
    http://geology.geoscienceworld.org/cgi/content/abstract/37/1/71

  71. srchuck (07:05:41) :

    Don’t overlook tallbloke’s comments above.
    We know LOD varies continually, partly a function of seasonal distribution of ice mass and partly a function of variable magnetic coupling betwixt sun and earth.
    We know that as the rotational rate derivative changes, angular momentum is transferred between solid and fluid (atmosphere and ocean). (GLAAM is a poor measure of this.)

    Hi srchuck! You’re right about GLAAM, I meant zonal ACI (Atmospheric Circulation Index)
    http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/Y2787E/y2787e03a.htm

  72. Andre Tahon (22.47.47) “Something else to ponder on;
    in the Northern hemisphere water, when in a bath, will, when the plug is pulled will turn in an anticlockwise direction. In the Southern hemisphere it goes down the hole in a clockwise direction, I think Sir, all is not as simple as it seems, as gravity has a very important part to play in our weather systems.”

    Untrue.

    http://www.snopes.com/science/coriolis.asp

  73. To really assess the impact on global temperatures from ENSO it would be interesting to extract the tropical component of the global temperatures to look at the “rest of the world”. Just a quick glance at your last graph suggests that there would be a more muted response (expected), but also a possible time lag, and some curious -ve anomalies in relation to the drivers seen in your first two graphs.

  74. RE RECENT ARTICLE by Dr . Vickey Pope called “SCIENTISTS MUST REIN IN MISLEADING CLIMATE CLAIMS”

    By Matt Vooro

    http://icecap.us/images/uploads/PDO_and_AMO_Are_the_Real_Pacemakers_for_Climate.pdf

    I totally agree that scientists should refrain from making misleading climate change claims. I think the whole issue that climate change is primarily caused by manmade greenhouse gases is misleading. Natural earth/ocean climate cycles like PDO,AMO, NAO and ENSO are not even talked about by these same alarmists. IPCC climate models are strangely silent on them too. Now I wonder why? How can one trust any climate models that omit the key climate drivers.

    The Pacific and Atlantic Ocean temperature oscillations as measured by the PDO, ENSO, SOI , AMO , ETC indices are prime drivers of our climate. The droughts, hot spells, rainy weather and cold spell all have their origins in the temperature oscillations of these ocean climate makers that have existed for thousand of years and explain the natural variability of the global climate. The paper here well illustrates this point.

  75. Adolfo Giurfa (11:46:34) :

    For the delight of GWrs:”An ice sheet of 14,000 square kilometres has broken off..”
    http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/256191,researchers-spot-huge-split-in-antartic-ice-shelf.html

    “The scientists pointed out that such a disintegration of an ice sheet would lead to rising sea levels.”

    Is the ice shelf in question over land? Will the loss of weight cause the land to rise more than the offset in melting ice (4C denser than 0C)?

  76. Lame-man here…

    Is there a correlation between PDO, AMO and the solar cycle

    Awhiile back I did a quick look at the Spotless years, then added ~2years as it might take awhile for the oceans to show effect, then I looked at the graphs of PDO an AMO….it seems that PDO and AMO spike negative/and don’t spike positive after spotless years.

    Spotless years graph

    pdo data
    http://jisao.washington.edu/pdo/PDO.latest

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

    amo data
    http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/Correlation/amon.us.long.data

    AMO graph
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/co…. resent.svg.png

  77. Sun Heats Earth (+ve anomaly)
    Sea Surface Warms
    Winds Drop Off, Hurricanes Lessen
    El Nino Conditions Build Up
    Landmasses Warm Up

    The oceans have 10,000 times the thermal capacity of the atmosphere. YET… as Bill Illis suggests to me with such poetry, the air’s kinetic energy then seems to make up for its poor thermal capacity.

    THANK YOU ALL.

  78. Leif Svalgaard (09:12:47) :

    Erl Happ (08:36:52) :
    When the intensity of ultraviolet light from the sun increases, temperature rises in this ozone rich air and weakens the downdraft…
    In short, its the sun.

    No. The amount of ozone in the upper troposphere depends on dynamical processes [waves] and transport mechanisms between controlling the downward intrusions of ozone from the stratosphere, thus driven from below. Solar activity has little [if anything] to do with this.

    The absorption of ultraviolet light by O2 produces two O atoms which then combine with O2 atoms producing ozone (O3) and releasing heat energy. When ozone absorbs ultraviolet light, it splits into O2 and oxygen atoms and also releases heat energy. The net effect of the reactions above is to convert light energy into heat energy. I’m pretty sure that the ultraviolet light comes from the sun/solar activity.

    Also, this reference http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frcgc/jp/press/040316/index_e.html indicates that Erl’s assumption is correct.

  79. David L. Hagen (11:23:23) :
    Magnetosphere modulating cosmic rays
    On what causes those, one possible cause is variation in earth’s magnetosphere modulating galactic cosmic rays

    The Sun’s heliosphere, not the Earth’s magnetosphere for time scales we care about. On very long time scales, e.g. millennia, the Earth’s magnetic field controls the access of cosmic rays.

  80. The account of El Nino that I read claimed that heavy fresh water rains in Indonesia contributed to El Nino spilling out into the larger Pacific.

  81. Leif Svalgaard (09:12:47) :

    The NO looks like a knee jerk response. Your statement lacks explanatory power. Are you referring to planetary wave activity in the northern hemisphere?

    Transport mechanisms are indeed responsible for the high ozone levels in the upper portion of the subtropical high pressure cells within the troposphere. It comes from the stratosphere because stratospheric air is entrained in these cells.

    Transport mechanisms are also responsible for stratospheric warming over the Antarctic. There is an excellent graphic of the 2002 vortex splitting event over the Antarctic that reveals the warmth being generated in high ozone air outside the vortex here: http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/news/story.aspx?id=300

    2002 was a year of high ozone levels in the Antarctic. Smallest ever ozone hole.

    If you look here: http://www.atmosp.physics.utoronto.ca/SPARC/SPARC2008GA/Oral/day3_Hood.pdf

    You will see that ozone levels in the Antarctic vary with the presence of degradative nitrogen compounds that in turn vary with the Ap index of geomagnetic activity.

    Yes much depends upon transport processes influencing ozone content in those parts of the atmosphere where ultraviolet light is intercepted.

    Muon presence at the surface depends upon atmospheric temperature and density. Atmospheric temperature in the stratosphere depends upon the interaction of ultraviolet light with ozone. Muon count increases during sudden stratospheric warmings. Sudden stratospheric warmings in the Arctic depend upon the transport of ozone rich air from above the Sea of Japan. That depends upon activity in the Siberian High pressure cell and the phenomenon described as a ‘Planetary Wave’.

    Yes, a great deal depends upon transport phenomena that bring s ozone to a place where it intercepts ultraviolet light. Then we see the temperature jump by 50°C in the middle to upper stratosphere in the polar regions. We also see the temperature fall in the stratosphere over the Equator at exactly the same time. That is a very interesting phenomenon. Perhaps you could tell us what might be responsible for sudden ‘coolings’ in the equatorial stratosphere. Perhaps you could explain why sea surface temperature in the tropics varies directly with 30hPa temperature in the Arctic?

    Sea surface temperature in the tropics is ENSO.

    ‘NO’ is too dismissive. I would go further. I would call it irresponsible.

  82. Off topic, but an thoroughly excellent article on “experts”, in this case financial. After a quick read, one can quickly place where the AGW crowd, like Gavin, and the AGW skeptics fit into the article.

    http://money.cnn.com/2009/02/17/pf/experts_Tetlock.moneymag/index.htm?postversion=2009021816

    A few select quotes:

    “The models rested on a misplaced faith in the law of large numbers and on wildly miscalculated estimates of the likelihood of a national collapse in real estate. But mathematics has a certain mystique. People get intimidated by it, and no one challenged the models. ”

    “My research certainly prepared me for widespread forecasting failures. We found that our experts’ predictions barely beat random guesses – the statistical equivalent of a dart-throwing chimp – and proved no better than predictions of reasonably well-read nonexperts. Ironically, the more famous the expert, the less accurate his or her predictions tended to be. ”

    “Like all of us, experts go wrong when they try to fit simple models to complex situations. (“It’s the Great Depression all over again!”) They go wrong when they leap to judgment or are too slow to change their minds in the face of contrary evidence. ”

    “You know the famous line that [philosopher] Isaiah Berlin borrowed from a Greek poet, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”? The better forecasters were like Berlin’s foxes: self-critical, eclectic thinkers who were willing to update their beliefs when faced with contrary evidence, were doubtful of grand schemes and were rather modest about their predictive ability. The less successful forecasters were like hedgehogs: They tended to have one big, beautiful idea that they loved to stretch, sometimes to the breaking point. They tended to be articulate and very persuasive as to why their idea explained everything. The media often love hedgehogs. “

  83. erlhapp (15:03:07) :
    ‘NO’ is too dismissive. I would go further. I would call it irresponsible.
    Telling it as it is does not seem irresponsible. We have been down this road before. Your thesis seems to be that solar UV directly heats ozone in the upper troposphere and that raises the temperature there. The amount of ozone there and the amount of UV that survives down to there are so small that the direct heating is minuscule. Now, ozone is a powerful greenhouse gas and helps retain heat from below. None of this is controlled in any large measure by solar activity. The wavelength band of UV that reaches the upper troposphere even varies inversely with the solar cycle.

  84. Is there not a hydro-mechanical element to it, and does that element not, in and of itself, serve as a feedback mechanism to the trade winds. The trades cause warm water to pile up in the Western “pocket” of the Pacific. At some point, that mass becomes gravitationally unstable. At some point where there is a minor “lull” at the synoptic scale, the mass surges eastward, as an additive “pulse” to the equatorial countercurrent (and at depth as well, under the main equatorial current). This wave of warm water reduces the east to west thermal gradient of the equatorial waters and thereby reduces that particular additive vector to the trades. The winds are reduced sufficiently that the movement of warm water westward is reduced. Etc.

  85. Leif Svalgaard (15:33:27) :
    The temperature data tells the story. 200hPa temperature peaks twice a year at 30°N and one of those peaks is in February when surface temperature is at its annual minimum.

    Face the reality. Do the work. Look at the Hood presentation at http://www.atmosp.physics.utoronto.ca/SPARC/SPARC2008GA/Oral/day3_Hood.pdf

    Notice the relationship between the solar cycle and ENSO with ozone dynamics in the upper troposphere in the mid to high latitudes where ozone accumulates.

    At the moment you are saying that black is white.

    “ozone is a powerful greenhouse gas and helps retain heat from below”

    In the stratosphere yes. In the troposphere no. See:http://climatechange1.wordpress.com/2008/11/08/earth-laboratory-tests-the-greenhouse-theory-once-a-year-every-year-and-finds-it-wanting-every-time/

    I’ll go with the evidence.

  86. erlhapp (16:21:33) :
    Look at the Hood presentation
    They even say “Conclusion: The ozone solar cycle response coefficients calculated using a standard multiple regression statistical model do not change significantly when an ENSO term is added to the model”.
    So, ENSO or not makes no difference for the solar cycle response, which is understandable as the work cited deals with the stratosphere 30-40 km up.

    “ozone is a powerful greenhouse gas and helps retain heat from below” In the stratosphere yes. In the troposphere no.
    from http://www.ghgonline.org/otherstropozone.htm
    “Other Direct Greenhouse Gases – Tropospheric Ozone:
    Tropospheric ozone can act both as a direct greenhouse gas and as an indirect controller of greenhouse gas lifetimes. As a direct greenhouse gas, it is thought to have caused around one third of all the direct greenhouse gas induced warming seen since the industrial revolution.”
    Maybe you don’t believe that website, so here is better one:
    From: http://www.temis.nl/products/o3tropo.html
    “Ozone in the upper troposphere acts as a greenhouse gas by absorbing long-wave terrestrial radiation.”

  87. Sreve Sadlov… pretty much… it’s called a kelvin wave, we’re in the tail end of one right now… that along with the end of the warm sst’s in the east (south of nino 1 + 2) are going to cause some nice cooling in the nino regions in the next few weeks. If that is joined by some cool sst’s from the north then this La Nina should stick around a bit longer.

  88. Such a good thread. So maybe the real goodies will be found in studying this trade wind that flows East to West. If it is set up by temperature variations and rotation, anything we measure should be measured where this trade wind is. That means cloud cover, ozone blanketness (my word but it works), other trace gas blanketness, water vapor blanketness, etc, that occur in context with this trade wind. Maybe the focus should be right around the middle. Which is what I am trying to focus on since I am over a half century old. If I find out it is my Friday nights at the local tavern that is causing the bulge around the middle, I will swear up and down it is CO2. Wait…it actually could be too much CO2. Damn.

  89. Leif Svalgaard (14:38:47) :

    “The Sun’s heliosphere, not the Earth’s magnetosphere for time scales we care about. On very long time scales, e.g. millennia, the Earth’s magnetic field controls the access of cosmic rays.

    I agree on the millennial influence on cosmic rays. However, would not the near term fluctuation in Sun’s heliosphere also affect the Earth’s magnetosphere and in turn modulate the incoming cosmic rays?

    See: Newell, P. T., T. Sotirelis, K. Liou, C.-I. Meng, and F. J. Rich (2007), A nearly universal solar wind-magnetosphere coupling function inferred from 10 magnetospheric state variables, J. Geophys. Res., 112, A01206, doi:10.1029/2006JA012015.

    Note Brown’s short 3% correlation between cosmic rays & clouds over a few days:
    Brian H. Brown, Short-term changes in global cloud cover and in cosmic radiation, Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics Volume 70, Issue 7, May 2008, Pages 1122-1131

    Is there evidence that there is no correlation between the solar wind and cosmic rays that could impact the cloud cover, insolation, sea temperature and consequently the trade winds? Or might such a connection be discoverable?

  90. Leif Svalgaard
    Apologies. I misread your meaning. I agree that the earth’s magnetic field varies on the millenial scale and thus is not an immediate cause of triggering trade wind variations. I was referring to the major influences modulating cosmic rays that I new of, not just limited to the immediate trade wind time scale.

  91. David L. Hagen (19:26:53) :
    However, would not the near term fluctuation in Sun’s heliosphere also affect the Earth’s magnetosphere and in turn modulate the incoming cosmic rays?
    No, not through affecting the Earth’s magnetosphere.

  92. Leif Svalgaard
    Could you please briefly explain what Newell et al. (2007) found and how it does/does not affect the impact of cosmic rays on low level clouds.
    See: Newell, P. T., T. Sotirelis, K. Liou, C.-I. Meng, and F. J. Rich (2007), A nearly universal solar wind-magnetosphere coupling function inferred from 10 magnetospheric state variables, J. Geophys. Res., 112, A01206, doi:10.1029/2006JA012015.
    Apparently I misunderstand the effects and/or terms.

  93. Alan Chappell (07:07:07) :

    Something else to ponder on;
    in the Northern hemisphere water, when in a bath, will, when the plug is pulled will turn in an anticlockwise direction. In the Southern hemisphere it goes down the hole in a clockwise direction,

    As others have noted, this is false. Some researchers have been able to produce this effect in a lab-size sink, Science News had a note back in the early 1980s about it. IIRC, they were able to get the “proper” rotation 70-80% of the time, but had to work very hard to get the water still before opening the drain and had to worry about things like the symmetry of the drain (some are machined in a particular direction and that produces a bias).

    Even at the size of tornadoes, some of them rotate in the “wrong” direction. Hurricanes are big enough to always spin in the right direction.

  94. Let’s all use the right words for the same meaning.

    Andre (22:47:47) wrote “Air moves from the tropics toward the equator to replace the hot air ascending over the latter.” By equator is meant the ITCZ (see below).

    And crosspatch (02:20:13) wrote “Heated air rises above the tropics (again, ITCZ) and flows toward the higher latitudes (should be altitude), where it cools, sinks, and flows back toward the tropics (over the Tropics toward the ITCZ) in an easterly (east to west) (actually, NE to SW) surface pattern known as the trade winds. This constant, overturning flow in the tropics (troposphere) is called the Hadley circulation.

    I think someone else had a similar comment also. Word usage and perhaps concepts seem to be getting a bit fuzzy. It is important to keep the regions and what is going on clear.

    Usually, when speaking of these things we have polar latitudes, high latitudes, mid-latitudes, sub-tropical, tropical, and equatorial. Because the vertical sun travels back and forth across the Equatorial regions – mostly ocean – the air becomes warm and humid, and becomes buoyant. It will tend to rise. Clouds form (heat is released) and shadow. ItThe rising air is replaced by near-surface air flowing across the tropical latitudes, or Tropics. In the northern hemisphere these near surface winds appear to flow from the northeast, and because they were important in the age of sailing ships (think Columbus), they were called the Northeast Trades.

    The SE Trades and the NE Trades usually meet, or almost meet, in the Equatorial area and thus the name Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). [One time when they did not meet has given us Coleridge’s The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.] The Trades feed into the Walker Circulation. In general, though, having risen to some height near the top of the troposphere (the tropopause) the air heads pole ward. The rotational effect (CORIOLIS force) gives this flow – high over the Tropics and the Trades – an eastward (right-hand) bias in the northern hemisphere. This high altitude air has lost its moisture and continues to loose heat (radiative cooling), becoming cold. Over the Subtropical areas it sinks toward the surface. The descent causes compressional warming (adiabatic descent) and the air nears the surface as a relatively warm dry air mass. The near-ocean surface air below it can be a few degrees cooler and a temperature inversion – almost no wind or clouds but hazy – frequently occurs. These areas are Sub-Tropical High Pressure (STHP) and provide the air that feeds the Trades and the air going north that feeds the Westerlies. Over land, winds that are part of the Hadley Cell still operate. In the Sahara they call this “trade wind” the Harmattan.

    Not related to the above but: The western Pacific Ocean is topographically restricted (barrier like) while the Atlantic is not and the Atlantic, in the region of concern has the Amazon’s massive fresh water flow (over denser salt water) to add to the difference.

  95. Leif Svalgaard (16:59:20) :
    Let’s try and be relevant. What does Hood show?

    1. The presentation links the production of the nitrogen compounds that degrade ozone to change in the AP geomagnetic index. “Strong correlation with Ap (and auroral & MEE power, and thermospheric NO) but not F10.7. Variability in SH stratospheric NOx from EPP controlled by variation in EPP-NOx production”

    2. Temperature at 100hPa changes at 20°-30° latitude in both hemispheres with the change in solar radiation as represented by 10.7 Flux. This is linked to ozone content. The change across the ENSO cycle is stronger than the change across the solar cycle. La Nina frequently occur at solar Maximum and Solar Minimum.

    3. Eddy Heat flux in the extratropical northern winter lower stratosphere, that drives planetary waves is shown to vary with ozone content. The flux peaks in January when sudden stratospheric warmings in the Arctic mainifest. This is the period of the year when stratospheric temperature in the northern hemsiphere varies most strongly. Temperature also varies elsewhere wherever there is abundant ozone such as at 20°-40°S. This is the time of the year when the tropical ocean warms most strongly. Its first and strongest peak is in April. It’s the time of the year where El Nino manifests. The 1997 event became obvious as a strong increase in ocean temperature off Chile in early March. The second peak is a midget by comparison and is associated with atmospheric heating and cloud loss associated with heating of the northern land masses and occurs in August.

    4. The ozone ENSO coefficient is strongest in the East Pacific.

    Re “Ozone as a greenhouse gas.”

    Please take note.

    1. There has been no increase in atmospheric temperature above 700hPa since 1948.

    2. The increase in atmospheric temperature below 700hPa is associated with the release of latent heat. 850hPa temperature above the equator has increased by three times the rate of sea surface temperature in the tropics.

    3. There has been a secular decline in atmospheric humidity and by inference cloud cover over the entire period since 1948.

    The Earth has warmed because more sunlight gets to the surface to warm the sea. Only the skin of the atmosphere is in contact with the sea. So its only the first kilometer has actually warmed. The layers above the first km warm and cool with ENSO. So far, they have returned to base temperature after every heating episode.

    The truth of the matter is that the troposphere very efficiently cools itself via convectional processes regardless of heat source and the mode and location of the warming activity. There is no greenhouse effect. None. Get over it.

    The difference between the stratosphere and the troposphere is in the rate of convection. The stratosphere has cooled because of ozone loss due to moisture arising in tropical convection overshoot. That cooling process stopped about the turn of the century.

    Now, an important question! Why does the tropical stratosphere cool as the Arctic stratosphere warms in a sudden stratospheric warming event of the sort that is just coming to a close? This is a very important question. Verify the facts for yourself at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/strat-trop/

    The answer to the question is vital to our understanding of the process by which ultraviolet light intensity at the tropopause and below varies independent of the suns output.

    It would be nice if you actually conceded a point now and then rather than choose a point of attack and then push like blazes. It’s just good manners and common humanity.

  96. Sir Anthony of the Watt:

    A request please from this squire of your realm (Robt wonders if he is buttered up enough yet….) On a separate (but closely related) thread please address how much syrface and oceanic topography is actually included in the so-highly funded GCM that the world’s economies are now chained to.

    Are ocean area represented – if so, how closely do their surface areas (their
    finite element cubes) match the real world along the Pcific and Atlantic shores.

    Do the GCM’s actually model (or predict) or even “notice” ENSO and PDO cycles? If not, why not.

    Once a GCM has cycled for several hundred “years” (and do they model the “solar year” with it’s changing radiation and incidences, or only the “average” entire year ?) do any of them begin to create oscillations similar to ENSO’s?

    Do GCM’s “create” cold fronts and the arctic air flows when they run, or are they “static” heat exchange models only (radiation received and radiation released are obviously their “drivers” … But what happens after the air masses have been “driven” for the equal of one or two “years” – do we see flows in the tropics, mid-latitudes, and polar latitudes than resembles earth’s circulation? Or do the final patterns more closely resemble the moon’s weather? 8<)

    I have run, edited, definied, critiqued, created, and used the results from nuclear (neutron flux) 3D finite element models, stress-strain mechanical design models, heat flow finite elements, machining FEM’s, fluid flow 3d models, and even concrete and molded metal models. How large are the GCM “grids (boxes) and what “information” is “shared” through each element face as the simulation progresses?

    How are GCM “boxes” divided vertically through the atmosphere? How do they account for mountains and large permanent influences like deserts, huge areas of grasslands (central US, central Russia, India, France, etc) compared to mixed regions like the Med, Great Lakes, and CA and smaller pennisulas or desert areas?

    If the “boxes” are so large that every land area is considered equal – how are coastal regions and ice-covered areas modelled as they change over the year?

    REPLY: Thank you, but I’m not an encylopedia for hire, perhaps readers can help with questions. – Anthony

  97. On the dangers of specialization and the need for a well rounded education and keeping an open mind:

    The discovery of the relationship between muon counts and sudden stratospheric warming in the Arctic began with a conversation between two specialists that is described in this way:

    Osprey says the project shows the value of collaboration between different scientific disciplines. ‘These environmental effects have been well documented by physicists interested in cosmic rays,’ he says. ‘But there hasn’t been the cross-pollination with the atmospheric science community, because people haven’t been speaking to each other. If they had, we could have known about this connection 50 years ago.’

    http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/news/story.aspx?id=300

    It seems to me that there are people making pronouncements about climate that are ignorant of the basics, not interested enough to examine the historical data and quite unfamiliar with the geographical factors that are responsible for the differences that manifest between the hemispheres let alone across the span of latitudes with all the diversity that arises therefrom, and also due to the rapid change of state between the surface and the outer limits of the atmosphere.

    Frequently I read some pronouncement about climate and I cringe. The word that gives rise to instant dismay and teeth grinding aggravation is, ‘greenhouse’.

    Nevertheless, I commend all triers. Taking an interest is the best way forward.

  98. The people who are arguing about oscillations that are totally within the Earth’s atmospheric/ocean system must realize that their debate is
    ultimately pointless if the factors which control the long term changes
    in the trade winds are externally driven.

    I beleive that the following two graphs clearly show that changes in the PDO are driven externally by an as yet unknown process that is synchronised with the solar motion about the Solar Systems centre of mass. {note: I am not saying that the solar motion is causing the process, nor am I claimng to lnow
    what this process is.]

    If you cannot see these graphs please let me know.

    And I believe that the following graph shows that it is the PDO that reinforces the ENSO and not the other way around. This third graph clearly shows that
    whenver the PDO is positive, the level of intensity of El Ninos get strong and strong, and whenever the PDO is negative, the intensity of the El Ninos gets weaker and weaker. Logic tells you that it the phase of the PDO (which seems to flip from a postive to a negative state] that is influencing the intensity
    level of of the El Nino phenomenon.

    Could someone one please explain why the PDO climate system seems to be
    synchronized with the motion of the Sun about the centre of mass of the solar system?

    Dismssing this data out-of-hand with trite arguments about how you don’t like what it implies will not hold water in the long run.

  99. Bill and all oceanographers:

    I revisited a paper by Hathaway et al which compares solar activity, geomagnetic activity and the Armagh temperature record, which runs from 1840 in a non-uhi-contaminated location 65m above sea level near the coast of Ireland.
    http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/papers/wilsorm/WilsonHathaway2006c.pdf

    At the top of page 8, there is a graph which shows the residual left after taking the sunspot numbers smoothed over the hale cycle from the temperature data smoothed over the hale cycle.

    Hathaway et al conclude with the usual “it could be AGW” statement at the end, but something caught my eye. If you were to subtract the AMO from the residual, you would end up with something pretty close to an anti-correlation.

    I realise the AMO will also have been affected by solar input, but given the AMO varies by 2C or so in the longer term, and the residual calculated by Hathaway et al is only 0.5C or so from peak to trough, it would seem that after allowing for the solar effect on the AMO there wouldn’t be much room for any co2 warming effect in the Armagh temperature record after the calcs were done.

    Would it be worth someone like yourselves grabbing the data and doing a pro job on this?

  100. Robert A Cook PE: I can try to answer part of your questions or at least provide you with links that can. The models used for IPCC projections do NOT model ENSO correctly, if they model it at all. This was confirmed by Kevin Trenberth a few years ago in a post at the Nature blog:
    http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/2007/06/predictions_of_climate.html

    He wrote, “None of the models used by IPCC are initialized to the observed state and none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate. In particular, the state of the oceans, sea ice, and soil moisture has no relationship to the observed state at any recent time in any of the IPCC models. There is neither an El Niño sequence nor any Pacific Decadal Oscillation that replicates the recent past; yet these are critical modes of variability that affect Pacific rim countries and beyond.”

    There are coupled GCMs that do attempt to model ENSO, with mixed results. Refer to:
    “The El Niño Southern Oscillation response in the BMRC Coupled GCM”
    http://www.bom.gov.au/bmrc/pubs/researchreports/RR91.pdf

    And to:
    “ENSO dynamics in current climate models: an investigation using nonlinear dimensionality reduction”
    http://www.nonlin-processes-geophys.net/15/339/2008/npg-15-339-2008.pdf

    And to:
    http://www-pcmdi.llnl.gov/wgne2007/presentations/WGNE-Workshop/Manganello_WGNE.pdf

    Eric Guilyardi has a number of papers here about CGCMs and their problems (and advences) with modeling ENSO here:
    http://www.met.rdg.ac.uk/~ericg/publications.html

    There are many more critiques (refer to references in the above papers) available through Google. I hope that helps.

    Regards

  101. I have noted lately that whenever someone dares to suggest a solar influence on any aspect of the earth’s atmosphere they will have to cross swords with Leif. Wouldn’t it be great if Leif in his great wisdom and academic brilliance could help us in finding a cause for the multi-decadal climate fluctuations we have been observing, in the same vein as his colleagues Svensmark, Shaviv, Friis-Christensen or Veizer are trying to do? Or is he a disguised AGW proponent trying to frustrate the skeptic community?

  102. erlhapp (21:57:19) :
    Let’s try and be relevant.
    That would be refreshing. What Hood’s presentation is about is ozone in the stratosphere.
    Greenhouse gases are very important, especially water vapor. Without GHCs the Earth would be too cold to live on [255K].

    I say again [cutting through the mass of obscuring irrelevant detail] that as far as I can see your thesis [mechanism, whatever you like to call it] is that the solar influence is due to direct solar heating by UV of ozone in the upper troposphere and that that extra heat drives ENSO. True or false? One line will suffice for an answer.

  103. Chris Schoneveld (04:11:10) :
    trying to frustrate the skeptic community?
    Trying to prevent you from going off the rail. You do not combat the bad science of AGW with even worse science.

  104. The trade winds are driven by the coriolis forces that are generated by the vertical movement of the atmosphere in the tropics. The strength of the coriolis forces and hence the trade winds is directly related to the strength of the vertical movement of the atmosphere. This is inescapable. Hence the strength of the vertical atmospheric movement determines the strength of the trades.

    The strength of the vertical movement is controlled by the same factors that control atmospheric convection elsewhere. Lapse rates, humidity and heat input are important.

    Perhaps a specialist in atmospheric convection could identify the cyclic factors that are causing variations in the strength of convection. However I bet the sun has a lot to do with it.

  105. Chris Schoneveld: Aren’t most of us on this blog interested in the science of “solar influence” on temperature/climate along with the science of other influences (e.g., trade winds “driving” the ENSO) and accurate gathering of data? How can we get to the science if every theory/opinion/belief/calculation is not rigorously tested for its validity and whether or not it can be falsified? Yes, this principled attitude seems to cause some pain (e.g., to Dr. Meier on the preceding thread), but I think we can be grateful that “it” exists on this blog.

  106. Chris Schoneveld (04:11:10) :

    I have noted lately that whenever someone dares to suggest

    Knock it off Chris. We are lucky to have Leif here to be so generous with his time, patience and expert knowledge. Whatever his personal belief’s are, he is always honest and informative. I’ve taken a few jibes from him in the past, but I still respect his integrity as a scientist. I think he just wants to see science done rigorously.

    People are free to disagree with him, and he with them. Let the evidence be produced and the chips fall where they may. I have a lot of time for Erl’s ideas, and Leif does too, or he wouldn’t bother to critique them.

  107. “Without GHCs the Earth would be too cold to live on [255K].”

    Arrhenius may have been a father of PChem but here he included the 30% of TSI that is reflected back into space. Plainly, as G&T have pointed out, the calculation is faulty, the heuristic inapt.

  108. Ninderthana: Your links don’t work.

    Regardless, you wrote, “And I believe that the following graph shows that it is the PDO that reinforces the ENSO and not the other way around. This third graph clearly shows that whenver the PDO is positive, the level of intensity of El Ninos get strong and strong, and whenever the PDO is negative, the intensity of the El Ninos gets weaker and weaker. Logic tells you that it the phase of the PDO (which seems to flip from a postive to a negative state] that is influencing the intensity level of of the El Nino phenomenon.”

    Actually, it’s ENSO that drives the PDO.

    First, the process used to calculate the PDO (and it is a process) was first developed to extract the ENSO signal from North Pacific SST anomalies. Refer to Zhang et al (1996) “ENSO-like Interdecadal Variability: 1900–93”.
    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~david/zwb1997.pdf

    Second, if you were to plot the monthly NINO3.4 SST anomalies and the PDO in a comparative graph, you’d discover that there is little difference between the two.

    Refer to:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2008/06/chicken-or-egg-pdo-or-enso.html

    Third, in “ENSO-Forced Variability of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation”, Newman et al state in the conclusions, “The PDO is dependent upon ENSO on all timescales.” Refer to:
    http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/people/gilbert.p.compo/Newmanetal2003.pdf

    Refer also to my post about “The Common Misunderstandings About The PDO”:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2008/06/common-misunderstanding-about-pdo.html

    Regards

  109. Leif Svalgaard (05:20:20) :

    “the solar influence is due to direct solar heating by UV of ozone in the upper troposphere and that that extra heat drives ENSO.”

    Yes.

  110. David L. Hagen (21:18:03) :
    Could you please briefly explain what Newell et al. (2007) found and how it does/does not affect the impact of cosmic rays on low level clouds.
    The interplanetary magnetic field and the solar wind in general impacts the Earth’s magnetosphere and creates electric currents that cause aurorae and magnetic disturbances on the ground. Even a very large such disturbance is only about 1% of the Earth’s own magnetic field and is of short duration [hours] and rare. The effects of the smaller wiggles are there all the time but are ten times smaller, so 1/1000 of the Earth’s field. Cosmic rays are deflected and guided by the Earth’s field, but the small disturbances caused by the solar wind are not enough to have any measurable effect of the cosmic rays entering the Earth’s atmosphere and thus also not on the clouds.

  111. Chris Schoneveld (04:11:10) :
    Or is he a disguised AGW roponent trying to frustrate the skeptic community?

    It seems I am not allowed to use the phrase ‘Conspiracy theorist’ any more but if I could I wouls be struggling to find a more deserving context to use it in.

  112. Leif Svalgaard (05:20:20) :
    “Without GHCs the Earth would be too cold to live on [255K].”

    I disagree. The ocean, not the atmosphere is the flywheel that keeps the surface warm. Overnight, the temperature in an inland location plummets. If the Earth were 70% land rather than 70% ocean, the climate would be very different. The daily mean temperature would fall while the daily and seasonal range would increase.

    It is the lowest kilometer of atmosphere that has seen a temperature change as the globe has warmed. There has been zero change in the troposphere above 1km. The warming below 1km is because of the influence of the ocean which actually stores energy. The atmosphere is incapable of storing energy.

    Stratospheric temperature is driven by ozone content and UV. The same consideration applies to the upper troposphere above 300 hPa in some places, 200hPa in other places, depending upon ozone content. The temperature response to ozone at 100hPa is very strong. Its the border zone between the two regimes. In the atmosphere there is no sharp demarcation because there is interchange between the tropsophere and the stratosphere. Pressure cells are not confined to the troposphere. Convection does not end at the tropopause.

    All this is very relevant detail.

    Double the content of CO2 and it will make no difference to surface temperature at all. Convection removes the energy as swiftly as it is imparted to oxygen and nitrogen by the CO2 molecule. That is amply illustrated by what happens below the tropopause in the southern tropics. Despite gross warming at 100hpa in summer as the northern hemisphere warms there is no effective downward propagation of energy to lower layers. At 100hPa the maximum is in August. at 300hPa the maximum is in February as it is at the surface. That is witness to the power of convection.

    ‘Tropos’ is Greek for turning.

  113. Just want to say thank you, Bill. I always look forward to everything you post. Clear and easy to understand with good conceptual impact.

    Good stuff!!!

  114. OT but interesting.

    An article in the Guardian shows that tropical forests, in reaction to rising CO2 levels, are soaking up far more CO2 than was was thought, equal to the whole CO2 output of the USA.

    This sort of ‘real’ science on the ground (instead of playing around with your computer programs) shows how little we really know about how the Earth reacts to changes and how impossible it is to forecast the future based on the puny amount of observed and verified data technological man has aquired so far.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/feb/19/forests-carbon-emissions

    “Bigger trees helping fight against climate change”

    “Trees across the tropics are getting bigger and offering help in the fight against climate change, scientists have discovered.

    A laborious study of the girth of 70,000 trees across Africa has shown that tropical forests are soaking up more carbon dioxide pollution than originally thought. Almost one-fifth of our fossil fuel emissions are absorbed by forests across Africa, Amazonia and Asia, the research suggests.

    Simon Lewis, climate expert at the University of Leeds, who led the study, said: “We are receiving a free subsidy from nature. Tropical forests are absorbing 18% of the CO2 added to the atmosphere each year from burning fossil fuels.”

    The study, published tomorrow in Nature, measured trees in 79 areas of intact forest across 10 African countries from Liberia to Tanzania, and compared records going back 40 years. “On average the trees are getting bigger,” Lewis said.

    Compared to the 1960s, each hectare of intact African forest has trapped an extra 0.6 tonnes of carbon a year. Over the world’s tropical forests, this extra “carbon sink” effect adds up to 4.8bn tonnes of CO2 removed each year – close to the total carbon dioxide emissions from the US.

    Although individual trees are known to soak up carbon as they photosynthesise and grow, large patches of mature forest were once thought to be carbon neutral, with the carbon absorbed by new trees balanced by that released as old trees die.

    The discovery suggests that increased CO2 in the atmosphere could fertilise extra growth in the mature forests.

    Lewis said: “It’s good news for now but the effect won’t last forever. The trees can’t keep on getting bigger and bigger.”

    Helene Muller-Landau of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, said the growing forests could recovering from trauma – droughts, fire and human activity – going back hundreds or even thousands of years.

    The research comes as efforts intensify to include protection for tropical forests in carbon credit schemes, as part of a new climate deal to replace the Kyoto protocol.”

    Alan

  115. erlhapp (07:15:08) :

    Thank you, crystal clear fundamentals with insightful highlights. Just what the majority asks for at WUWT.

  116. erlhapp (07:15:08) :
    “Without GHGs the Earth would be too cold to live on [255K].”
    I disagree.

    The most important greenhouse gas is water vapor and that is what keeps the Earth warm at night [where you have it]. Houston is a good example. The 100% humidity can keep the temperature in the 30s [C] through the night.

    I don’t know why you are so hung up on CO2. “Convection removes the energy as swiftly as it is imparted to oxygen and nitrogen by the CO2 molecule.”
    The same would be the case with O3, so no heating from that one either [except where you have no convection – i.e. stratosphere.]

    gary gulrud (06:22:33) :
    the heuristic inapt.
    As usual – clueless and opaque.

  117. Alan Millar (07:45:55) :

    What this also shows is that this is yet another reason to enforce sustainable management of these tropical forests.

  118. erlhapp (07:15:08) :
    Double the content of CO2 and it will make no difference to surface temperature at all.
    Make it 50 times higher? no effect?

    there is no effective downward propagation of energy to lower layers.
    I think this is what I’ve always said: the troposphere is heated from below, not [as you now recognize] from above.

  119. I thought the science was settled. This thread has referenced dozens of papers that have been published recently. Haven’t these folks been listening to the omniscient goracle?

    Seriously, this is a thread I have been waiting for. Since I started investigating AGW about 8 months ago I was hoping to get a better understanding of the forces involved. My inital position was that climate was too chaotic to model. In a sense that position has mellowed somewhat. I no longer think it is impossible, just VERY, VERY difficult.

    In complex systems there are major drivers that can somewhat control the chaos. The earth appears to have these. However, there will always be minor players that can have short terms effects (yeah, that could be decades). So, where am I now?

    About two months ago I came to the conclusion that the oceans drive the climate and hence the termperatures. So, now the question is what drives the oceans. Is it several butterflies? I’ve seen many of the butterfly theories presented here. Clearly, some of them are related but proof remains elusive. I believe there is much work to be done before we really understand what drives the climates of earth. I am pleased to see that work is ongoing in this area.

    BTW, did anyone else notice the lack of participation on this thread by natural CC skeptics?

  120. “The 100% humidity can keep the temperature in the 30s [C] through the night”

    Might have dropped convection and evaporation from your example. Another fractured heuristic.

  121. Tallbloke: ” Knock it off Chris. We are lucky to have Leif here to be so generous with his time, patience and expert knowledge. Whatever his personal belief’s are, he is always honest and informative. I’ve taken a few jibes from him in the past, but I still respect his integrity as a scientist. I think he just wants to see science done rigorously.”

    I realize that Leif has established a solid reputation at WUWT and that it is considered heresy to doubt his motives. And indeed I may do him a great injustice to doubt his motives. My remarks stem from a sense of frustration brought about by my observation that Leif is always quick to point out (perceived) errors by others but never makes the slightest attempt to come up with any constructive suggestion as to why climate is going through colder and warmer phases. Any mechanism that could possibly explain a causal link between the sun and (for example) the LIA will immediately be quashed or ridiculed by Leif.

  122. Chris Schoneveld (11:08:56) :
    Any mechanism that could possibly explain a causal link between the sun and (for example) the LIA will immediately be quashed or ridiculed by Leif.
    Absolutely not. Only the ones that have been weighed and found wanting. And it is not enough that there is a ‘possibility’ that it might work. Show that it does work, not that it merely might work. Even the latter, I have not seen any convincing [to me at least, but perhaps I’m less gullible than most] examples of. It is not enough that you badly want it to work to counteract the bad AGW boys.
    Any complex system goes through fluctuations. These could be completely random on many time scales without needing any overarching ‘explanation’.

  123. Leif,

    “Without GHCs the Earth would be too cold to live on”

    How is oxygen and nitrogen heated then? I find it highly unlikely that a trace gas can have such significant impacts on heating the other 99.9% of our atmosphere, considering that CO2 only absorbs 3 narrow bands of IR.

    How much warming [on earth] do you think is attributed to 0.0385% CO2, considering all known and unknown variables?

  124. Leif

    Any complex system goes through fluctuations. These could be completely random on many time scales without needing any overarching ‘explanation’.
    Indeed. And when you get several semi-periodic fluctuations on earth coinciding with the sun going into a 50 year funk, voila, LIA.

    We know you are a combative man Leif, and we wait with baited breath and overcoats to see how right or wrong you and David Archibald are about the degree of cooling a spotless sun will induce. As someone said on the other thread, it aint over till the red cabbage leaf goes flat. Or curlier than a british rail sandwich.

    Fries with that sir? Mayonnaise or sauce?

    Meantime, give us your opinion on Hathaway et al’s paper on the Armagh temp series. :-)
    http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/papers/wilsorm/WilsonHathaway2006c.pdf

  125. RICH (11:42:32) :
    How is oxygen and nitrogen heated then?
    By conduction+convection from the surface. The GHGs sends some of the long-wave radiation back to the surface, heating it up some more, adding to the heating.

    CO2 only absorbs 3 narrow bands of IR.
    Why is everybody so hung up on CO2. H2O is much more important. Even O3 makes a contribution. Basically, you need a [at least] tri-atomic molecules to get enough IR absorption. Any would do, but the most abundant one [H2O] would have the largest effect, wouldn’t you think?

    How much warming [on earth] do you think is attributed to CO2
    It seems that different people attribute different numbers. I don’t know what a good number would be, let the experts and ‘experts’ worry about that. One could perhaps work backwards from a 5-10 degree temperature increase in response to a 30-50 times [5-6 doublings] increase in CO2 concentration. ‘Left as an exercise for the student’.

  126. there is no effective downward propagation of energy to lower layers.

    “I think this is what I’ve always said: the troposphere is heated from below, not [as you now recognize] from above.”

    As Erl has likely retired for the night: 40% of incident TSI is IR, only 1% of this reaching the surface(only 40% of TSI reaches the surface) and half the atmosphere lies below 25,000 feet it could not be more evident that the troposphere is heated roughly equally from above and from below.

    The former sentence says simply that back radiation transfers no heat to the surface.

  127. Chris Schoneveld (04:11:10) :

    I have noted lately that whenever someone dares to suggest a solar influence on any aspect of the earth’s atmosphere they will have to cross swords with Leif. Wouldn’t it be great if Leif in his great wisdom and academic brilliance could help us in finding a cause for the multi-decadal climate fluctuations we have been observing, in the same vein as his colleagues Svensmark, Shaviv, Friis-Christensen or Veizer are trying to do?

    I believe Leif has been doing that for all of his professional career. As Grand Exalted Keeper of the Sword of Reason (i.e. his alternate title of pointer-outer of there not being enough energy in that mechanism as far as we know) he’s done a yeoman’s job of keeping the speculation under control. He’s mentioned many times that whenever a new mechanism is proposed, he checks to see if it has promise.

    We’re entering a couple good decades of Interesting Solar Stuff, so rejoice in the new data and fading sunspots.

    In the meantime, the PDO (or PDO+AMO or even PDO+AMO+TSI) seems to be the best torch to illuminate our climate.

  128. Bernie (05:54:00) :
    “The strength of the vertical movement is controlled by the same factors that control atmospheric convection elsewhere. Lapse rates, humidity and heat input are important.”

    I agree with wholeheartedly with that statement.

    The distribution of land and sea, the size of mountain ranges and the spinning of the Earth on its axis in 24 hours are also important influences.

    Speed of spin will effect velocity of east west versus north south circulation. But speed of spin does not change materially.

    The Andes dry the trade winds and their presence results in the establishment of a near stationary high pressure cell of dry, ozone rich air in the south east Pacific. That air is very cold because it includes a relatively larger component of higher altitude air. In other words the pressure cell is vertically very deep. The dryness of the air is associated with strong penetration of ultraviolet. Look at any map showing world wide distribution of ultraviolet B and you see that the Andes is a hot spot.

    The strength of descent in a vertical column of air relates to the supply of very cold air from above. Warm the air at its entry point into this high pressure cell and you will stall the circulation.

    Stall the circulation in the East Pacific and you weaken the east-west component of the Trades.

    The strength of the east-west component of the trades across the Pacific also depends upon the strength of uplift over the Indian Ocean and Indonesia.

    A primary feature of an El Nino event involves the weakening of the eastern high pressure cell. The low pressure zone over Indonesia also weakens and a new one is established near the date line. Precipitation increases between the mid Pacific and Chile as the ocean warms, weakening the high pressure zone in the east from below.

    So, the primary feature of El Nino is a change in the surface pressure difference between the East Pacific and Indonesia.

    Add one more factor. When the northern hemisphere faces the sun the pressure difference between east and west pacific collapses. See figure 3 in http://climatechange1.wordpress.com/2009/01/02/the-southern-oscillation-and-the-sun-2/

    You can see that in southern hemisphere spring the pressure difference across the Pacific usually increases. El Nino events manifest by March. They appear when the usual strong summer pressure differential across the Pacific fails to establish.

    The requirement for loss of summer pressure differential is high ozone content in the upper troposphere at 30-60° south latitude and a greater incidence of ultraviolet radiation.

    There is strong variation in ozone content in the stratosphere (and the upper troposphere) between 30° and 60° south with large anomalies south of Australia and in the East Pacific.

    One major driver of ozone content in the southern hemisphere is the incidence of energetic particle precipitation events that are solar driven and vary with geomagnetic indices.

    The greater the volume of air that is entrained in this tropical circulation that is called the Hadley Cell, the further south the high pressure cells travel and the wider is the relatively cloud free area between these cells and the Equator.

    This will be too much for Leif despite his brilliance in other areas but I hope that some others might catch my drift.

    Another little wrinkle. Sudden stratospheric warming events manifest in the Arctic when the ozone content is high in northern latitudes. This gives rise to enormous variations in temperature in the polar stratosphere between December and March. High temperature in the Arctic is strongly associated with warming seas in the tropics. This is also indicative of an ozone/UV link in determining temperature in the stratosphere, upper troposphere and the tropical oceans.

  129. erlhapp (15:20:18) :
    One major driver of ozone content in the southern hemisphere is the incidence of energetic particle precipitation events that are solar driven and vary with geomagnetic indices.
    This will be too much for Leif despite his brilliance in other areas but I hope that some others might catch my drift.

    What is too much for me is the vague language. You omitted to say that this may be the case for the mesosphere and the high stratosphere [where it has little or no effect on anything at the surface], not the unqualified whole ‘southern hemisphere’ at all levels. Second, UV and not energetic particles [that do not penetrate lower than 90 km] controls ozone, and the ‘relationship’ with geomagnetic indices is tenuous [no sign of it in the northern hemisphere – I know you did say the ‘southern’, but if it is not spurious it should have been in both] and could be because solar activity and geomagnetic activity happened to be correlated.

  130. Leif
    In Northern winter we frequently see temperature jump by 50°C in the middle to upper stratosphere in the Arctic.

    The high temperature in the Arctic stratosphere propagates from top down with an increasing lag and more persistent anomaly the lower it goes. The heating following the mid January event has long disappeared at 1hPa at this time but persists at 70hPa and it was still close to an all time high at that level on 18th February. (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/temperature/index.shtml).

    At http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/strat-trop/gif_files/time_pres_TEMP_ANOM_ALL_NH_2009.gif

    you will see that the heating went all the way to the surface and has been well and truly in evidence at 300hPa for a month now.

    That warm air in the Arctic came from outside the polar zone and persists despite the lack of light. It split the Arctic vortex and reversed the wind direction in the stratosphere.

    The temperature in the stratosphere over the Equator fell at exactly the same time and the anomaly manifests in the same way. Consequently we have a persistent cooling in the mid to lower stratosphere over the equator where there is plenty of light.

    The question is why?

    My suggestion: Atmospheric redistribution favoring enhanced atmospheric depth over the equator and thinning between 30-60 latitude. That will enhance the penetration of UV into the upper troposphere in the anomalously ozone rich area of the east Pacific and a similar area in the southern ocean between Australia and Antarctica.

    I think the stalling of the high pressure cell to the south of Australia as it warmed at the top of the troposphere was materially involved in the increase in northerly wind that drove south across Victoria (Australia) resulting in record temperatures over the last month and the bushfire event.

  131. Every skeptic should be required to say this quote before opening their mouth to opine about global climate: “You do not combat the bad science of AGW with even worse science.” Leif Svalgaard 05:24:43

  132. By the way, can someone lead me to a web site with real-time measurements of trade winds? I am just plain ol’ excited about adding that measurement to my daily trip through weather “stuff”!!!!

    I know, I kown. I need to get out more often.

  133. Damn. One glass of red wine and I type like this: I kown, I khown, I cneeed to gett out t more otften.

  134. Leif Svalgaard (15:52:01) :
    “Second, UV and not energetic particles [that do not penetrate lower than 90 km] controls ozone, and the ‘relationship’ with geomagnetic indices is tenuous [no sign of it in the northern hemisphere – I know you did say the ‘southern’, but if it is not spurious it should have been in both] and could be because solar activity and geomagnetic activity happened to be correlated.”

    Wrong.

    http://www.atmosp.physics.utoronto.ca/SPARC/SPARC2008GA/Oral/day3_Hood.pdf
    Energetic Particle Precipitation (EPP) drives production of NOx and HOx which destroys ozone, mainly at high latitudes. This occurs in both hemispheres but the relationship with geomagnetic indices is only strong in the southern hemisphere where the vortex is maintained summer and winter. There is no relationship with F10.7 in either hemisphere.

    The impact of the Antarctic vortex in depleting ozone content is apparent in this paper: http://exp-studies.tor.ec.gc.ca/e/ozone/Curr_allmap_g.htm

    I quote:

    “the impact of ozone-depleted air mass occurrences on ultraviolet radiation is evaluated by relating total ozone and UV erythemal dose measured at the stations. Twofold or threefold UV dose increases were reached in the 55°–65° southern latitude region during vortex overpasses”.

    Hence the positive ozone anomalies in the southern hemisphere are located between 30 and 60° latitude. When there is a strong positive anomaly outside the Arctic we can get a SSW in Antarctica like that in 2002 and perhaps it is associated with the strong warming like that that afflicted the Northern hemisphere in 2003. There is certainly a strong relationship between stratospheric temperature in the Arctic and sea surface temperature in the tropics of the southern hemisphere so I imagine it works the other way too.

    The strength of the Antarctic vortex varies with the energy supplied to the tropics and can be seen in an inverse relationship between temperature variation in the tropics versus Amundsen Scott at the South Pole. This is responsible for the fact that Amundsen Scott has cooled while the tropics have warmed. A very small temperature increase in the tropics is associated with a massive fall in temperature at the South Pole.

    This relationship is apparent in the Arctic only in Northern winter. Its too warm in summer.

    Follow the reasoning and you can see that the Antarctic vortex weakens during La Nina cooling events and stratospheric ozone content will then rise in the southern hemisphere. That makes the transition to El Nino more likely.

  135. erl. Buddy. Have a Coors. You can talk mechanism all you want, but if ozone variations (which have been measured) don’t coincide with temperature changes (which have been measured), ya got to move on! I got myself all in a lather over the ozone hole over Oregon (hey, give me some slack, being a redhead and all, ozone protects me from the Sun!) this past Summer. It was interesting to watch the ozone thin during the day and then thicken up at night. The thinning spread over a larger and larger span of the western states.

    But here’s the thing. The thing that kept pinging on my head (not to mention Leif questioning my questions about ozone) is that it did not feel any hotter or colder than usual. And by usual I mean the usual variations that occur with a cold or warm Pacific. I eventually led myself back to weather. Yes weather. Not climate. I re-introduced myself to the old standby definition of climate and returned to weather pattern variation. I think I am on the right track. It ain’t glamorous and sounds a bit “Farmers Almanac-ish”. But it seemed to work for old time farmers. “Earl, what’s the weather like?” “Let me take a look Billy. Looks like its gonna rain.” So I think it will work for me.

  136. Pamela,
    “if ozone variations (which have been measured) don’t coincide with temperature changes (which have been measured”

    Can you be a bit more specific? Like where and when? Where exactly do you think I am going wrong?

  137. erlhapp (18:53:52) :
    Wrong:
    Energetic Particle Precipitation (EPP) drives production of NOx and HOx which destroys ozone, mainly at high latitudes.

    As usual, you only run with half [or less] the story. First, these things are relevant only at very high altitudes, second [and more importantly], the SEP events are rare [a few per solar cycle] and cannot be said to ‘control’ the Ozone production.

  138. Humm? ocean tempertures drive hurricanes, so maybe they can both drive and be driven by trade winds. “Action and reaction are thus equal and opposite”

  139. Ozone is not well mixed or evenly spread. The atmosphere and its winds move it here and there. It is thick in one place, then thin in that same place the next day or week (and I am only speaking relatively here, the changes are actually quite small). If a lack of ozone causes temperature changes it is as hard to nail down as jello to a tree. Besides, how much change do you expect? The change in temperature, under the current conditions, as a result of ozone affects are as small as CO2, compared to the cold wind that blows up your skirt from an Arctic blast. I think you will find a much greater correlation between long term temperature changes when El Ninos dominate or La Ninas dominate. And it looks like those are partly due to a Pacific Oscillation that may be due to some kind of conveyor belt and/or equatorial trade wind. And the trade winds are due to a dance between the Earth’s rotation and temperature differentials. So if the trade wind is strong or week based on a temperature difference along its sides, you would need to measure ozone along this band, and then only under the conditions you suppose. When the Sun is blank of sunspots.

    Here ya go:

    http://exp-studies.tor.ec.gc.ca/e/ozone/Curr_allmap_g.htm

  140. Pamela
    200hPa at 20-30°S increased by 2°C between 1975 and 1983 for when sea surface temperature at the same latitude increased by 0.2°C . At the Equator sea surface temperature rose by 0.5°C over the same period.

  141. Erl
    The Andes dry the trade winds and their presence results in the establishment of a near stationary high pressure cell of dry, ozone rich air in the south east Pacific. That air is very cold because it includes a relatively larger component of higher altitude air. In other words the pressure cell is vertically very deep. The dryness of the air is associated with strong penetration of ultraviolet. Look at any map showing world wide distribution of ultraviolet B and you see that the Andes is a hot spot.

    I remember seeing on the TV about people in Patagonia needing to take protective measures because of a higher incidence of skin melanomas there. This is consistent with Erl’s observation of a higher incidence of UV in the southern Andes.

    This maybe has an effect on the antarctic peninsula too Erl? Part of the reason for the increasingly high temp anomalies there perhaps? To move your ideas from ‘weather’ timescales to ‘climate’ timescales, can you point to long term changes in particular indices which would support that? I beleive Leif said something about long term changes in UV levels being partly instumental artifacts in the record. Perhaps he could clarify too.

  142. Leif Svalgaard (20:58:34) :
    “As usual, you only run with half [or less] the story. First, these things are relevant only at very high altitudes, second [and more importantly], the SEP events are rare [a few per solar cycle] and cannot be said to ‘control’ the Ozone production.”

    Your complaints run from one extreme to the other. Mostly too much information much of which is irrelevant and now only half [or less] the story.

    Obviously more than one factor controls ozone production and the number and strength of the factors vary from place to place. In the Antarctic where the vortex is strong all year, SEP events play a part as I am sure they do in the Arctic. This is just one mechanism via which the sun influences stratospheric ozone. It is likely to be a more important mechanism in Antarctica where the more active vortex brings the NO agents into the stratosphere.

    The first couple of points of the conclusion of Hoods paper are:

    1. There is some consensus now that total column ozone varies
    significantly with the solar cycle, especially in the tropics.

    2. A recognition is emerging that the vertical structure of the ozone
    response at low latitudes is characterized by two peaks, one in
    the upper stratosphere and one in the lower stratosphere. The
    lower stratospheric response is the main cause of the total ozone
    variation.

    The big unrecognized sleeper in ozone control is atmospheric water vapour. On ENSO time scales rising sea surface temperature in the tropics is associated with falling temperature in the tropical stratosphere. The relationship is very consistent up to 30hPa. see http://climatechange1.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/a-cooling-story-involving-ozone-the-sun-and-the-sea/

    Again, its the ENSO time scale that is important, not the solar cycle time scale.

  143. tallbloke (23:51:58) :
    To move your ideas from ‘weather’ timescales to ‘climate’ timescales, can you point to long term changes in particular indices which would support that?

    The climate shift of 1978 manifests as a strong lift in 200hPa temperature globally with the most extreme change at about 30° of latitude in both hemispheres, a pronounced fall in sea level pressure in the south East Pacific, a jump in sea surface temperature in the tropics, the transition between solar cycle 20 and 21 and a hike in the aa index of geomagnetic activity that has slowly sunk along with 200hpa temperature from that time forward.

    The expansion of the Hadley cell at that time is reflected in a southward shift of the the high pressure cells and the jets in the southern hemisphere. This affects the precipitation pattern in Chile.

    Chile stretches from 30°S to 56°S. Its climate changes over time according to the shift in the high pressure cells that divide the south east trades (dry regime) from the westerlies (wet regime). The following is extracted from ‘The Physical Geography of South America’ OUP, 2007 by Thomas T. Veblen, Kenneth R. Young, A. R. Orme

    “Along the west coast as far as 42°S Mediterranean type precipitation seasonality is associated with the summer presence of a subtropical high pressure cell in the southeastern Pacific. Year-to-year variation in the intensity and latitude of this cell is the major determinant of the variation in annual precipitation in the mid latitudes of the southern Andes. Farther south the seasonal distribution of precipitation is relatively uniform with stormy conditions prevailing year round.

    South of 40°S, glaciers retreated during a warming from 1080 to 1250 AD, approximately coincident with the Medieval Warm Epoch of the Northern Hemisphere.

    That retreat was followed by a cool, moist trend that peaked about 1340—1640, overlapping with the Little Ice Age of the Northern Hemisphere

    The mean annual temperatures reconstructed for the Andes at 37 to 55°S for the period 1900 to 1990 are 0.53 to 0.86°C above the mean for 1640-1899 AD. The rate of temperature increase from 1850 to 1920 was the highest over the past 360 years (Villalba et al., 2003).”

    My point is this: ENSO is climate change in action. Sea surface warming is linked to cloud loss. Ice cloud is lost as soon as the upper troposphere warms. The temperature of the upper troposphere is linked with ozone behaviour in the stratosphere and the latter has numerous influences that all come back eventually to the sun.

  144. Erihap and Bob Tisdale,

    Thank you for your comments. I do not have a place to post these graphs on the net However the three graphs are available at:

    http://www.lavoisier.com.au/articles/greenhouse-science/solar-cycles/IanwilsonForum2008.pdf

    if you look at slide numbers 24, 28 and 37.

    Bob, I know that you are in the camp that believes that PDO is just a cumulative manifestation of the long term behaviour of the ENSO. However,
    I have actually read the papers that you site and I have to say that the conclusions of these papers are in direct contradiction to the
    observations (see slide 24).

    The model given in these papers that is used to explain the PDO cannot explain why the intensity of the ENSO events progressively get stronger while the PDO remains positive. Nor can they explain why the ENSO events progresively get weaker while the PDO remains negative.

    You would not get this observable result If the PDO was a cumulative manifestation of the underlying ENSO activuty. Hence, as a scientist, I cannot accept the conclusions of these papers, to do so would require me to ignore the observational evidence.

    Could you please look at this slide [i.e. no. 24]. All of the data shown in this
    slide has been [or soon will be] published in perer-reviewed journals – and
    explain how your model for the PDO could possibly explain the trends seen in data.

  145. Bill Illis: I went to answer Pamela Gray’s question above about links to the trade wind data when I discovered there appears to be a typo in your description above.

    In the sixth paragraph of the post, you wrote, “Here is a chart of the Nino 3.4 region temperature anomaly (which is the most consistent measure of ENSO conditions) versus the Trade Winds from 120W to 175W.” But the link you provided for winds did not have a dataset for 120Wto 175W.
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/data/indices/
    Under winds, they have the following datasets:
    200 MB Zonal Winds Equator (165W-110W)
    850 MB Trade Wind Index(135E-180W) 5N-5S West Pacific
    850 MB Trade Wind Index(175W-140W) 5N-5S Central Pacific
    850 MB Trade Wind Index(135W-120W) 5N-5S East Pacific

    Two of them contain one of the coordinates you listed. So, which one did you use?

    Thanks

  146. Bob, I put the 120 to 175 datasets together weighted for the size covered by each.

    (There is 5 degrees coverage missing but you have to work with what is available. I didn’t think it was important enough to get into in the short post space that is available.)

    There is a lot more technical science and theory that could have been discussed in the post like the Walker-Circulation model (from 1923), the Madden-Julian oscillation (which in my mind shows how the ENSO helps drive the PDO and you can see this in the animations of the ENSO region), how the thermocline reacts during ENSO events, Kelvin Waves etc.

    The data says there is no reason to make this very complicated and the data doesn’t take you to a theory called the Walker circulation – it takes you to a very simple and a very explanatory “the Trade Winds”. And they are updated daily.

    Given the shortage of space and the fact there was no reason to over-complicate this, I didn’t get into everything.

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

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

  147. erlhapp (00:33:36) :
    1. There is some consensus now that total column ozone varies significantly with the solar cycle, especially in the tropics.
    2. A recognition is emerging that the vertical structure of the ozone response at low latitudes is characterized by two peaks, one in the upper stratosphere and one in the lower stratosphere. The lower stratospheric response is the main cause of the total ozone variation.

    I don’t know that these conclusions were ever in doubt as the UV that creates the ozone in the stratosphere varies with the solar cycle. They are just irrelevant for the discussion.

  148. Leif,

    “The GHGs sends some of the long-wave radiation back to the surface, heating it up some more, adding to the heating. Why is everybody so hung up on CO2. H2O is much more important. Even O3 makes a contribution. Basically, you need a [at least] tri-atomic molecules to get enough IR absorption. ”

    If oxygen and nitrogen absorb heat, then clearly they radiate heat. What I conclude is that our air is heated without the help of GHG’s or without a molecule requiring 3 atoms. I am not saying that GHG’s do not add to the heating, but I believe it is impossible for CO2 to have a “significant” impact on heating the remaining 99.9% of our atmosphere.

    I am hung up on CO2 because our fearful leaders are about to tax/offset CO2, yet we have no idea how much warming is atrributed to it. This is known as taxation without representation, which is one of the reasons America declared it’s independence from England. Taxation without representation… it lead to a Revolution.

    We will soon have the taxation. Where is the representation? The greenies/neo-marxists are treading on thin ice as far as I am concerned. Hopefully, with time, they will drown this nonsense before it causes more economic damage.

    With that, we must extract American oil NOW. The revenue and savings generated from home-grown American energy will STIMULATE our economy. We are facing an economic crisis. Is there a [better] time to tap our own reserves? This will help buy us time to recover economically and help pay for alternative energy. Drill here, drill now!

    Al Gore and his blind sheep are only fueling the problem. This is simply more proof that extremists, sometimes unknowingly, erode the pillars of national security.

    I believe that the planet is not anthropologically unstable. Some of the people are.

  149. Erl, In the current situation, in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California we are seeing both high and low records. And all the combinations of these types of events. Record low daily high, record high daily high, record high nightly low, record low nightly low. In other words, hanging near normal. Not AGW CO2 laden hot, not freezing little ice age butt aching cold. If you think there is a correlation, you need to place temperature anomalies in a graph with ozone anomalies, and over several Sun cycles that would also include several ENSO-related cycles. Then the task would be to determine which cycles are just along for the ride and can be eliminated (it is possible in such a short time span that you just happen to be measuring disconnected cycles that are currently in sync). Not an easy task.

    Here is the way to do it. If you understand the actual mechanisms, chemically and mathematically, you can begin eliminating these various cycles and potential sources from the mix in your graph. For that you need to go to the experts in each of those areas and ask them. And then listen to their explanation. If the mechanism for any one of these variables is not there for the trends in your graph, you can eliminate that source as a cause of the wavy trend, even if they ride the wave together.

    Otherwise, you are going to have to learn how to create models, assigning weight to your potential causes and running the models to duplicate the past, and then run it ahead to see if it can predict the future. I don’t think that has been done before.

  150. RICH (06:48:54) :
    If oxygen and nitrogen absorb heat, then clearly they radiate heat. What I conclude is that our air is heated without the help of GHG’s or without a molecule requiring 3 atoms.

    Most of your post is just politics, not science. [and there are millions of taxpayers (all green-card holders, for instance) in the US that have no representation already, I don’t see a revolution coming]. Back to science. If there were no tri-atomic molecules in our atmosphere [no H2O, for instance], the Earth would be a very cold place.

  151. The GHGs sends some of the long-wave radiation back to the surface, heating it up some more, adding to the heating.

    “If oxygen and nitrogen absorb heat, then clearly they radiate heat. What I conclude is that our air is heated without the help of GHG’s or without a molecule requiring 3 atoms. I am not saying that GHG’s do not add to the heating, but I believe it is impossible for CO2 to have a “significant” impact on heating the remaining 99.9% of our atmosphere.”

    Rich, you were on the right track. All real materials have differing rates of energy absorption and emission given as a fraction of Einstein’s ideal black body.

    Green leaves emit 94% as readily, snow 84%, pure water 58%. CO2 emits/absorbs at 0.09% at sea level and 20 degrees C. Yes, no typo.

    Energy flow is therefore one way only, up and out. Of the radiation GHGs absorb they give up the energy acquired via conduction to their neighboring molecules in collisions.

    And this is also the way air transfers energy to the surface only by conduction, when it is warmer than the surface. On a water planet, most heat transferred from the surface is removed via evaporation, the heated air rising via convection.

  152. gary gulrud (08:20:02) :
    “The GHGs sends some of the long-wave radiation back to the surface, heating it up some more, adding to the heating [of the surface].”
    Energy flow is therefore one way only, up and out. Of the radiation GHGs absorb they give up the energy acquired via conduction to their neighboring molecules in collisions.

    Note the 333 W/m2 back radiation going down:
    http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/earth/Atmosphere/images/radiation_budget_kiehl_trenberth_2008_big_jpg_image.html

  153. Leif & Gary,

    Thanks for your thoughts. Sorry for getting political.

    I agree with H20 as a GHG, but if it were not for Earth absorbing the sun, warming the oxygen and nitrogen in our atmosphere, then the Earth would be a “very cold place”. Warming stems from the Earths “initial” absorption, does it not? The water vapor in our atmosphere is feedback from this initial absorption, is it not? The air around black body surfaces is warmer, which has nothing to do with how many triatomic molecules are floating nearby, right?

    Can you approximate how much H20 in ppm makes up our atmosphere?

    Thank you.

  154. “Note the 333 W/m2 back radiation going down:”

    Utterly mythical, and yes, I’ve seen this many times before.

    At 600 degrees C, H2O vapor’s emissivity rises at 1 Atm to 14%, CO2’s to 7% so GHGs may indeed be an issue on Venus at much higher pressures, but this is Earth.

    How is it you are so credulous outside your beloved avocation?

  155. I read regularly, and comment sometimes, and I wanted to ask Leif a question.

    Does the sun swell and contract with internal temperature fluctuation? Is there any way to measure that, and would it affect our temperature any?

  156. “The water vapor in our atmosphere is feedback from this initial absorption, is it not? The air around black body surfaces is warmer, which has nothing to do with how many triatomic molecules are floating nearby, right?”

    A calorie is the amount of energy required to raise a gram of liquid H2O one degree C. 70 calories are extracted from the surroundings to change that gram to vapor leaving the water’s temperature unchanged. The reverse is true of condensation.

    So the atmosphere is heated by IR from the sun and by convection of heated air(taking H2O with it, and some CO2 with that) from below and by OLR from surfaces with higher emissivities, topped by asphalt near 99%.

    Higher in the troposphere condensation releases the 70 calories during precipitation. This newly heated air is intermittently mixed into the Stratosphere.

    I trust that in your shower, a given temperature may seem warmer than outside in moderate humidity but it’s hard to quantify.

  157. RICH (12:04:34) :
    I agree with H20 as a GHG, but if it were not for Earth absorbing the sun, warming the oxygen and nitrogen in our atmosphere, then the Earth would be a “very cold place”.

    I think the oceans will absorb and retain much more heat than the atmosphere Rich. Just compare the masses and specific heat capacities. I remember Leif saying the earth would be around 30C cooler without the greenhouse effect, though I think that figure depends on the values you accept.

  158. There is a lot more technical science and theory that could have been discussed in the post like the Walker-Circulation model (from 1923), the Madden-Julian oscillation (which in my mind shows how the ENSO helps drive the PDO and you can see this in the animations of the ENSO region), how the thermocline reacts during ENSO events, Kelvin Waves etc.

    Bill Illis,

    The PDO index flips from a postive state to a negative state (and vica versa) in a matter of one or two years at the most. Usually, the North central Pacific ocean stays in that state for a period of 20 to 40 years, with the PDO index varying by very little over that time period.

    However, as soon as the PDO jumps into the positive (negative) state, the peak ENSO index during El Nino events start to systematically climb (fall) in intensity while the PDO remains positive (negative).

    As soon as the the PDO jumps back to being negative (positive), the peak ENSO index during El Nino events stops increasing (decreasing) in intensity, and starts decreasing (increasing) in intensity while the PDO
    remains negative (positive).

    Could you explain how this can take place using a model that has the
    ENSO driving the PDO? Surely, the data tells you that it must be the other way around.

  159. Ohioholic (12:49:23) :
    Does the sun swell and contract with internal temperature fluctuation? Is there any way to measure that, and would it affect our temperature any?

    It depends on what you mean by ‘internal’. The energy generated in the core takes 250,000 years to worm its way out, so any fluctuations would be averaged out. There are temperature changes in the surface layers too. Mostly related to [and even caused by] the magnetic fields present [e.g. a sunspot is ‘cool’ because of its magnetic field]. These changes can be measured [the Total Solar Irradiance = TSI], but the changes are much too small to have any influence on our climate.

    Then a more technical note:
    Since the 1960 we have known that the Sun’s surface oscillates up and down [with typical periods of ~5 minutes]. These oscillations are waves very much like seismic waves in the Earth [caused by earthquakes] and just as seismic waves can be used to probe the interior of the Earth, they can be used to probe the solar interior. There are millions of such solar waves at any given time and there are different kinds (called ‘modes’) of waves. The solar p-modes are acoustic [sound waves] normal modes. You one can imagine a frequency increase with an increasing magnetic field, due to the increase in magnetic pressure raising the local speed of sound near the surface where it is cooler and where the p-modes spend most of their time. Of course one can also imagine higher frequencies may result from an induced shrinking of the sound cavity and/or an isobaric warming of the cavity. Another kind is the solar f-modes that are the eigenmodes of the sun having no radial null points [i.e. asymptotically surface waves; again I apologize for the technical mumbo-jumbo]. From the solar cycle variations of p- and f-modes [and we have now enough data from the SOHO spacecraft to make such a study] we now have an internally consistent picture of the origin of these frequency changes that implies a sun that is coolest at activity maximum when it is most irradiant. Now, how can that be? How can a cooler [overall, including the cooler sunspots, for instance, as the temperature of the non-magnetic areas of the sun didn’t change Sun radiate more? It can do that, if it is bigger! The change in the radius of the Sun from minimum to maximum is about 1 km. Goode and Dziembowski (Sunshine, Earthshine and Climate Change I. Origin of, and Limits on Solar Variability, by Goode, Philip R. & Dziembowski, W. A., Journal of the Korean Astronomical Society, vol. 36, S1, pp. S75-S81, 2003) used the helioseismic data to determine the shape changes in the Sun with rising activity. They calculated the so-called shape asymmetries from the seismic data and found each coefficient was essentially zero at activity minimum and rose in precise spatial correlation with rising surface activity, as measured using Ca II K data from Big Bear Solar Observatory. From this one can conclude that there is a rising corrugation of the solar surface due to rising activity, implying a sun, whose increased irradiance is totally due to activity induced corrugation. This interpretation has been recently observationally verified by Berger et al. (Berger, T.E., van der Voort, L., Rouppe, Loefdahl, M., Contrast analysis of Solar faculae and magnetic bright points. Astrophysical Journal, vol. 661, p.1272, 2007) using the new Swedish Solar Telescope. They have directly observed these corrugations. Goode & Dziembowski conclude that the Sun cannot have been any dimmer [on the time steps shorter than solar evolution], than it is now at activity minimum.

  160. tallbloke (07:59:48) :
    “A short time back Erl predicted la nina conditions petering out around may and a weak el nino building mid year. Do you still go with that Erl?”

    I am fumbling like everyone else but here are some ideas:
    1. The trend for tropical temperature relates to the flux of energy that impinges on the tropical ocean when the atmosphere is warmest and cloud cover is least. That time is August each year and it is driven by land mass heating in the northern hemisphere. The energy received by the ocean drives evaporation. The amount of evaporation is indicated by the rise in temperature at 850hPa where latent heat is released. So, the pattern of energy evolution and sea surface temperature change is already set. August 2008 850hPa temperature over the Equator was very much warmer than August 2007 so we know that the tropical ocean is already warming quite strongly. If you calculate a 12 month running mean of 850hPa temperature centered on July you will find that it pretty much follows August temperature.
    The extent of cloud loss in northern summer depends upon the specific humidity of the air. With a couple of years of low sea surface temperature at the equator (where the bulk of the evaporation occurs) specific humidity has fallen strongly. So, come spring in the northern hemisphere the cloud loss will be rapid and the transition to summer should be swift and summer warm. This will put a lot of energy into the tropical ocean.
    2. I have described the way in which the trade winds will slacken when upper troposphere temperature rises in a subtropical high pressure cell due to the interaction of ozone with UV light. The ozone content of the atmosphere in the northern hemisphere is more than in the southern hemisphere. Hypothetically (and the relationship is already well established statistically) the gamut of Mid Winter Warmings, Sudden Stratospheric Warmings and Final Warmings in the Arctic stratosphere depend upon the supply of ozone rich air from mid latitudes being thrust into the Arctic stratosphere where ozone is normally in a somewhat depleted state due to erosive nitrogen compounds descending from the mesosphere, in turn related to Particle Precipitation Events that are strongly related to geomagnetic influences and the solar wind.
    These warmings have a top down propagation with the strongest temperature change at the highest elevation. I hypothesise that the incidence of these warmings is related to the ozone content of the atmosphere generally and to the solar processes that regulate ozone concentration in the stratosphere.
    It is a simple matter to compare 850hPa temperature over the tropics with 10hPa temperature in the Arctic. The two show a close relationship. 10hPa temperature in the Arctic varies very strongly between December and June. We have just had a strong warming event but in December the Arctic stratosphere was cool and it may well go cool again.
    3. If one compares temperature in the stratosphere at 10hPa at the poles and over the equator the thing that sticks out is the dramatic increase in temperature at 10hPa over Antarctica around 1978. This was the time of the Great Pacific Climate Shift. That shift is misnamed. If you look at sea surface and 200hPa temperature data the shift was common to the entire globe. It is in Antarctica that the relationship between geomagnetic activity and ozone erosion from the mesosphere is strongest.
    4. If you study subsurface temperature in the East Pacific at http://www.ecmwf.int/products/forecasts/d/charts/ocean/real_time/xzmaps/
    You will sea that the cold waters are getting warmer. Carl Wolk pointed this out with these words: “Looks like the La Nina is about to completely fall apart”.

    But, we will have to wait an see. The 1997 event did not push very warm water into the Nino 1+2 region until April and it got properly pumping in late May. Meanwhile we are seeing strong sea surface temperature increase at 20-30°S and that water is on its way to the Equator. Depending upon cloud cover, it will warm further on the way.

    In trying to work out what is really happening perhaps the last place to look is ENSO 3.4 and the narrow band of waters that are so carefully monitored across the equatorial Pacific.

  161. Erl Happ (19:22:39) :
    I am fumbling like everyone else
    This might help: http://www.leif.org/research/2008GL035673.pdf
    Cloud radiative effect on tropical troposphere to stratosphere transport represented in a large-scale model

    Xianglei Huang, Hui Su
    [1] GFDL AM2 model simulations are analyzed to assess the simulated radiative effect of tropical tropopause layer (TTL) cirrus on tropical troposphere-to-stratosphere transport (TST). The strongest upward motion in the model’s TTL is generally driven by dynamics instead of radiation, occurring in those TTL cloudy regions that overlap with optically thick clouds in the upper troposphere (UT). However, the occurrence frequency of such strong ascent is about one order of magnitude smaller than that of moderate ascent related to the radiative effect of TTL cirrus. The mean upward velocity of moderate ascent in the cloudy regions (~−2.5— −3.5 hPa/day) is one order of magnitude larger than that induced by TTL clear-sky radiative heating (~−0.18 hPa/day). This supports the hypothesis that cirrus radiative heating contributes substantially to the average tropical TST rates. The implication for future model-satellite comparisons is discussed.

  162. Leif Svalgaard (21:51:42) :
    What have we learned? The cirrus clouds absorb radiation and warm the surrounding air causing it to very slowly ascend? This has not hitherto been recognized. Now that it is recognized the models can be improved to that extent?

    I wonder if these models recognize the loss of atmospheric water that has occurred since 1948 or do they ignore the reality and build in a water vapour feedback loop to boost the supposed backwelling radiation to the surface. The models predict a warming atmosphere but no warming is evident above 700hPa. Time for a reality check.

    Have you no idea as to the cause of the cooling in the tropical stratosphere that is conjunctional with warming in the Arctic? I wonder if that is delivered in the models?

  163. Erl on Feb 18, 15:03:07 “Sudden stratospheric warmings in the Arctic depend upon the transport of ozone rich air from above the Sea of Japan. That depends upon activity in the Siberian High pressure cell and the phenomenon described as a ‘Planetary Wave’.

    Yes, a great deal depends upon transport phenomena that bring s ozone to a place where it intercepts ultraviolet light. Then we see the temperature jump by 50°C in the middle to upper stratosphere in the polar regions. We also see the temperature fall in the stratosphere over the Equator at exactly the same time. That is a very interesting phenomenon. Perhaps you could tell us what might be responsible for sudden ‘coolings’ in the equatorial stratosphere.”

    Hi Erl, all, Thanks for very interesting thread. Looking at this fascinating NASA’s Earth Observatory’s animation of the recent Arctic SSW, it peaks some time before the vortex snapped in two. Still it’s more due to dynamics than ozone? Are equatorial events linked to it, this time? And were we perhaps relieved significantly of some polar surplus heat? At least we enjoy some cold from it now :-) Best regards, Soren Floderus, Swedish/Danish physical geographer, Copenhagen

  164. Ninderthana (16:22:33) :
    ENSO driving the PDO versus the other way round.

    About 35° of latitude marks the boundary between energy gain from short wave incoming radiation exceeding energy loss from outgoing long wave. There is an accumulation of energy in the tropical ocean and to a lesser extent in the atmosphere at lower latitudes. This is transported to higher latitudes. Without this transfer latitudes greater than 35° would be much colder, especially in winter and the tropics would be rather hotter.

    Intuitively, the change in energy status in the tropics that is represented by the ENSO cycle is capable of affecting high latitude temperature while it is hard to imagine things working the other way round. ENSO does vary on PDO and longer time scales.

  165. Just looking at this paper.

    Interannual variations in the atmospheric heat budget
    Kevin E. Trenberth, David P. Stepaniak, and Julie M. Caron
    JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 107, NO. D8, 10.1029/2000JD000297, 2002

    The statement is made: “cold ENSO events correspond to a recharge phase as heat enters the ocean”

    I wonder how that got through peer review? Or does it tell us something about the peers?

    How does that statement square with a fall in 850hPa temperature (less latent heat release from condensation) when the sea cools? Looks to me like there is less energy going into the tropical ocean during La Nina events, not more. Those oceans are near heat saturated. The change in 850hPa temperature is a direct reflection of energy flows. I hope these guys are not in charge of anything important.

  166. SorenF (00:09:23) :
    Thanks for the feedback. The issue is where did the energy come from to heat that air. Not from Siberia or Iceland. And the Arctic is in darkness. My guess is that some ozone rich air gets pushed from the lower to the middle stratosphere just outside the dark zone warming as it goes, speeding its ascent, it therefore gets into the upper atmosphere vortex over the Arctic and because of the weak vortex situation with cooler areas in Siberia and Iceland it finds its way through the middle of these two downdraft areas influencing temperature all the way into the Arctic troposphere. Its not like Antarctica that is an ice dome with an altitude of 4000 metres smack bang under the centre of a vortex that runs through both stratosphere and troposphere.

    In the northern hemisphere there is always a warm zone at 30hPa over Kamchatka sitting just outside the stratospheric vortex over the Arctic. In the troposphere both Iceland/northern Canada and Siberia are setting up high pressure cells in the troposphere. There are no traffic lights. Looks to me like an accident just waiting to happen.

    The temperature variability in the Arctic stratosphere in the winter months is remarkable. Far and away greater than over Antarctica. When I first saw this site I was amazed: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/temperature/index.shtml Look for instance at 10hPa at 65-90°N.

    Labitzke and Van Loon in their book ‘The Stratosphere’ Page 75 Fig 3.3 show the relationship between ozone in Dobson units and 30hPa temperature over Norway. Very nice match.

  167. Ninderthana,

    Thank you for the interesting IanWilsonForum2008.pdf. Finally someone on the right track, just two things missing. The Earth’s LOD is also influenced by the gravity of the Moon, Jupiter and Venus. And the mechanism like I have explained earlier. When the revolution speed changes (caused by external gravity) the rotation speed also changes. In the case of the Sun it modulates the activity. In the case of the Earth, because the landmasses are connected to the inner parts while the oceans and the atmosphere are not, the ocean and atmosphere speed up relative to the landmasses altering the currents.

  168. Gary,

    What about UV light and heating?

    Tallbloke,

    “I remember Leif saying the earth would be around 30C cooler without the greenhouse effect, though I think that figure depends on the values you accept.”

    Smoothed out and of the 30C that Leif mentioned, the contributions (supposedly) to the GH effect are approximately:

    H2O = 53% or 17 degrees C.
    CO2 = 17.5% or 6 degrees C.
    Methane= 6.5% or 2 degrees C.
    Ozone= 5% or 2 degrees C.

    Of the 30 degrees, if CO2 concentrations were to double to 774ppm, this would increase our temperature by about 6 degrees C, barring all feedbacks to this increase. Does this sound about right?

    And of the feedbacks, would they increase our temperature more, less or create some sort of neutrality?

    .1% CO2 = 7 degrees celcius. So if earths atmosphere was 1% CO2, would our temperature be 70 degrees warmer? What about 10% CO2? 100%?

    Forgive me for being an ignoramous, but I am just beginning to learn this stuff. I have a hard time in believing the warming attributed to this trace gas to begin with.

  169. Regarding the PDO and the ENSO,

    The two indices often move together. Sometimes it seems that the ENSO is leading the PDO and other times it seems that the PDO is leading.

    One important point about the PDO is that charts of the PDO index you might have seen on the internet have been highly smoothed out. The actual monthly PDO index values are extremely variable and, hence, it is hard to use the PDO in models or temp reconstructions.

    I think they are really part of the same system and the ENSO’s impact is easier to model and understand than the PDO so I will continue using it rather than the PDO.

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

    Another VERY important point about the ENSO, (and maybe I should have put this into the post) is that the ENSO mainly affects the Tropics and the Northern Hemisphere only.

    The ENSO is only lightly correlated with Southern Hemisphere temperatures(you might not have heard that one before).

    The ENSO has 10 times bigger impact on the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern Hemisphere and 20 times the impact in the Tropics than in the Southern Hemisphere.

    I guess that makes sense since the ENSO is a Tropics phenomenon and the ENSO / PDO system are mainly a northern Pacific phenomenon.

    Another little piece of the puzzle.

  170. “What about UV light and heating?”

    I am more of a picture guy but: UV is highly variable over a solar cycle. It is responsible when copius for doubling the size of the atmosphere and when not as now the Ionosphere is compact.

    More UV makes it to the surface than IR but is heavily absorbed by ozone. It would be a heating influence throughout. Incident TSI is 20% UV but doubles for brief periods on occasion following solar flaring.

  171. gary gulrud (10:17:43) :
    Incident TSI is 20% UV but doubles for brief periods on occasion following solar flaring.
    No, the UV [and everything below 400 nm] is 105 W/m2 [7.7%], the visible [400-750 nm] is 595 W/m2, and the IR [and everything above750 nm] is 667 W/m2.

    Despite their high energies, flares are minuscule compared to the entire energy output of the Sun, and thus cause very little change in TSI. In 30 years of space-based irradiance monitoring only a handful of solar flares have been detected in TSI.

    The Oct. 28, 2003 X17 flare [one of the biggest one ever] was measured by the Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) on NASA’s SORCE. The TIM measures power across the entire solar spectrum, integrating X-ray to far infrared wavelengths. TIM data show a sudden increase of almost 270 parts per million [0.5 W/m2 or 1/200 of the total UV contribution] slightly preceding the flare’s soft X-ray peak.

  172. RICH

    Of the 30 degrees, if CO2 concentrations were to double to 774ppm, this would increase our temperature by about 6 degrees C, barring all feedbacks to this increase. Does this sound about right?

    And of the feedbacks, would they increase our temperature more, less or create some sort of neutrality?

    .1% CO2 = 7 degrees celcius. So if earths atmosphere was 1% CO2, would our temperature be 70 degrees warmer? What about 10% CO2? 100%?

    No, the response is logarithmic, the first 20 parts per million co2 accounts for about half it’s effect. Every time it doubles, the amount of extra heating it causes drops.

    Leif Svalgaard estimates another 5-6 doublings would lead to another 5-10 degrees centigrade. I estimate that would be at 11,000-20,000ppm or 1-2%co2

    Bill Illis has produced a useful graph which will show you this.
    http://www.rightsidenews.com/200812213082/energy-and-environment/jim-hansen-s-agu-presentation-of-the-bjerknes-lecture.html – halfway down the page, but read it all.

    I’ve saved Bill a bit of load on his account by linking to a copy of it on another blog.

    Cheers

  173. Ed: “The temperature variability in the Arctic stratosphere in the winter months is remarkable. ”
    Indeed, and forgive me if I just don’t know, but to me from the animation it seems like just warmer tropospheric air splashing up into the stratosphere due to vortex dynamics, maybe as the west and east edges almost meet and start to collide? – or would that all be density- or heat-wise impossible?

  174. tallbloke (12:38:29) : RICH (05:57:14) :
    If CO2 had the effect on atmospheric temperature that is claimed we would see it as an increase throughout the atmosphere. We don’t see that despite the increase in CO2 content. There has been no increase in temperature above 700hPa (2km) since 1948. The increase below 700hPa is due to the warming ocean and the release of latent heat of condensation.

    Download the data and look for yourself: http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

    This CO2 thing is just an urban myth. It doesn’t stand scrutiny.

  175. Gary, thanks for the info.

    Tallbloke,

    “I estimate that would be at 11,000-20,000ppm”

    Hmmm… but we don’t have enough fossil fuel reserves to come close to that amount of atmospheric CO2. I don’t have time to look at Bill Illis’ link right now, but I will. Thanks for your insight.

  176. The Stratosphere has started cooling rapidly now after the record Warming event.

    From the blue blob on the right of this time series all the way to the top, temps are now well below normal for this time of year. While the big red/brown blob on the left in January recorded the event.

    The high stratosphere temps are now closing in on record low temperatures.

    What an up and down for the 10 hpa level.

    The surface was not affected by this event very much. It appears there was some slight warming during the event at the surface (the red/brown blob at the 1,000 hpa surface level in the timeseries map above which is unusual for January but common during the SSW events.

    The troposphere was also affected more than the surface during the SSW. Going by the impact of these events historically, there will now be some cooling in the northern mid-latitudes for about 6 weeks at the surface.

  177. tallbloke (12:38:29) :
    No, the response is logarithmic, the first 20 parts per million co2 accounts for about half it’s effect. Every time it doubles, the amount of extra heating it causes drops.
    Leif Svalgaard estimates another 5-6 doublings would lead to another 5-10 degrees centigrade. I estimate that would be at 11,000-20,000ppm or 1-2%co2

    check your math, you are off by a zero or two. My estimate is empirical: when the CO2 concentration was 30-50 times [32 is 5 doublings, 64 is 6 doublings] higher than today, the temperature was 5-10 degrees higher.

  178. Energetic particle precipitation effects on the Southern Hemisphere
    stratosphere in 1992–2005

    Randall et el 2007

    [1] Measurements from several different satellite instruments are used to estimate
    effects of energetic particle precipitation (EPP) on NOx (NO + NO2) in the Southern
    Hemisphere stratosphere from 1992 to 2005. The focus is the EPP Indirect Effect
    (IE), whereby NOx produced in the mesosphere or thermosphere via EPP (EPP-NOx)
    descends to the stratosphere during the polar winter, where it can participate in
    catalytic ozone destruction. EPP-NOx entering the stratosphere is found to vary in
    magnitude from 0.1 to 2.6 gigamoles per year, with maximum values occurring
    in 1994 and 2003. The interannual variation correlates strongly with several measures of EPP activity, including auroral and medium energy electron hemispheric power, and satellite measurements of thermospheric NO. This represents the first estimation of EPP-NOx contributions to the stratospheric odd nitrogen budget using observations over an entire solar cycle. The results will be useful for evaluating and constraining global models to investigate coupling of the upper and lower atmosphere by the EPP IE, including any influences this might have on ozone trends and possibly on climate.

    Key Extracts

    1 )Energetic particle precipitation (EPP) has long been known to cause increases in NOx (NO + NO2) in the high latitude mesosphere and thermosphere via a cascade of dissociation, ionization, and recombination processes [e.g., Thorne, 1980; Rusch et al., 1981]. In the sunlit middle mesosphere and above, NOx has a lifetime of days or less. In the lower mesosphere, however, and during the polar winter throughout the mesosphere and into the thermosphere, lifetimes are long enough that there is sufficient time for the NOx to descend to the stratosphere where it can participate in catalytic processes controlling ozone. This mechanism for coupling the upper and lower atmosphere, referred to here as the EPP Indirect Effect (IE),

    2) Two-dimensional model results of Callis et al. [1998b] suggested that variations in stratospheric NO2 measured by the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) II from 1985 to 1987 were due to variations in EPP effects, and that the EPP IE causes changes in stratospheric O3 that are of the same magnitude as variations caused by solar UV flux variations. Randall et al. [1998, 2001] presented evidence from the Polar Ozone and Aerosol Measurement (POAM) II and III instruments for stratospheric O3 reductions caused by the EPP IE, showing depletions of 40–45% in middle stratospheric O3 mixing ratios.

    EPP IE variations do not occur smoothly over the solar cycle, nor are the maximum and minimum IE separated by a typical solar cycle period. Thus the EPP IE cannot be consistently referenced to the solar cycle. The EPP IE interannual variability correlated very well, however (correlation coefficient of 0.85–0.90), with auroral and medium energy hemispheric power, and with column NO measured by the SNOE satellite instrument from 97 to 150 km. As discussed by Kozyra et al. [2006], the EPP IE variability described here is likely related to the occurrence of high-speed solar wind streams [see also Callis et al., 2002].

    The most important attribute of changes in the Ozone column are the second order effects such as CH4 reduction. eg ipcc CHAPTER 7

    “The observed decrease in stratospheric ozone and the resultant
    increase in UV irradiance (e.g., Zerefos et al., 1998; McKenzie
    et al., 1999) have affected the biosphere and biogenic emissions
    (Larsen, 2005). Such UV radiation increases lead to an enhanced
    OH production, reducing the lifetime of CH4 and influencing
    tropospheric ozone, both important greenhouse gases

    Due to decrease of stratospheric O3, ultraviolet radiation in troposphere increases => increased OH

    Crutzen, 1995.

    An important atmospheric sink for methane is the OH (hydroxyl) radical. The reaction of methane with OH radicals is the first step in a series of reactions which eventually leads to compounds that are readily removed from the atmosphere by precipitation or uptake at the surface. OH radicals also act as a chemical sink for other trace gases. For this reason, OH radicals are known as “the detergent of the atmosphere

  179. Leif,
    A query if you please
    Looking at the data at http://hirweb.nict.go.jp/sedoss/solact3/do?d=2009%2c01%2c01

    Which, if any, best reflects the impact of coronal holes. Is it the solar wind velocity?

    Bill Illis (14:02:35) :
    70hPa temperatures over the Arctic are have just fallen below the point where record maxima are seteach day.

    70hPa temperature over the Equator is plumbing the depths:

    Is there an explanation for this contrasting behaviour in the literature anywhere?

    maksimovich (15:16:46) :

    Thanks for filling in the details as below:
    The EPP IE interannual variability correlated very well, however (correlation coefficient of 0.85–0.90), with auroral and medium energy hemispheric power,

    the EPP IE variability described here is likely related to the occurrence of high-speed solar wind streams

    “The observed decrease in stratospheric ozone and the resultant
    increase in UV irradiance (e.g., Zerefos et al., 1998; McKenzie
    et al., 1999) have affected the biosphere and biogenic emissions
    (Larsen, 2005)

    Due to decrease of stratospheric O3, ultraviolet radiation in troposphere increases.

    Ozone loss in the stratosphere and the consequent increase in penetration of UV into the upper troposphere tends to reduce the differential between the atmospheric pressure in the stationary high pressure cell East of Chile and the low over Indonesia tending to move the atmosphere towards a constant El Nino orientation.

    Here is the high pressure cell off Chile: http://www.ecmwf.int/products/forecasts/d/charts/medium/deterministic/msl_uv850_z500!Wind%20850%20and%20mslp!168!South%20America!pop!od!oper!public_plots!2009022100!!/

    And a nice overall view of southern hemisphere synoptics that in their variation will determine the strength of the Easterly winds:
    http://www.ecmwf.int/products/forecasts/d/charts/medium/deterministic/msl_uv850_z500!Wind%20850%20and%20mslp!168!South%20hemisphere!pop!od!oper!public_plots!2009022100!!/

  180. Bill Illis (07:05:33) : I see from what you say that you are a sceptic. That’s healthy.

    “The ENSO is only lightly correlated with Southern Hemisphere temperatures (you might not have heard that one before).
    The ENSO has 10 times bigger impact on the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern Hemisphere and 20 times the impact in the Tropics than in the Southern Hemisphere.
    I guess that makes sense since the ENSO is a Tropics phenomenon and the ENSO / PDO system are mainly a northern Pacific phenomenon.
    Another little piece of the puzzle.”

    Reasons for this:
    Although I talk of the high pressure cell off South America as the origin of pressure differences you will see that there are plenty of high pressure cells in the subtropics of both hemispheres. The one off California seems to have a very strong influence as well and yes, the variability in sea surface temperature in the northern tropical Pacific is more extreme than the variability to the south. Each of the northern oceans is a closed loop returning waters to the equator for further warming. By contrast , the southern ocean is very large, Antarctica is a countervailing sink of cold that cools as the tropics warm and there is no closed loop. In addition much of the Equatorial flow from both hemispheres is diverted northwards due to the configuration of the continents. It is no accident that the North Pacific and North Atlantic seem to be the cockpits for climate change. It’s no wonder that the PDO manifests as strongly as it does.

    SorenF (13:29:21) :
    Indeed the cause of these mid winter warmings is a puzzle. One thing I note from my reading of Labitzke and van Loon is that the westerlies can not enter the vortex zone and tend to be driven into the stratosphere which is at 6km or less in the winter hemisphere. In the process they may entrain some high ozone content air from the lower stratosphere. As that air ascends it will be strongly heated so long as it is outside the dark zone. There are two locations where ozone tends to concentrate. One is over the Kamchatka peninsula and Sea of Japan where 30hPa temperatures are anomalously high all winter and in the southern hemisphere there is a zone between Australia and Antarctica. In the Antarctic animation that is where the warm air sits at the start of the process.

    However, the strong fall in temperature throughout the stratosphere over the Equator that accompanies these winter events over the poles points to a solar influence. I hypothesise a wholus-bolus shift in the atmosphere, thinning it over the winter Pole and thickening it over the Equator. I think a Coronal Hole might do that.

  181. erlhapp (16:02:34) :
    Which, if any, best reflects the impact of coronal holes. Is it the solar wind velocity?

    I don’t know what you mean by the ‘impact’. If you mean on the Earth, then the Ap, Kp, or similar indices [after you remove the sporadic storm component, if you know how to – the Dst index might be a part of that] best measures the ‘impact’.

    Otherwise, a coronal hole would produce a high solar wind speed and [often a high total magnetic field]. If you are looking at a ‘single’ indicator [and don’t want to be bothered with messy reality] it would be the solar wind speed.

  182. To erlhapp,

    There are a few papers on these Sudden Stratospheric Warming events but there isn’t many since each one of these events seems to have different impacts to none whatsoever. But they are more common that some of us (including me) understood originally.

    How about 2008 when there 4 of them.

    My understanding of the issue comes mainly from a UK weather board where there are a lot of experts on the weather (have you noticed that the internet discussion boards and blogs are creating a huge number of layman PhDs in just about every single issue there is in the world – from knitting to particle physics).

    http://www.netweather.tv/forum/index.php?s=ae0f3625dc994413105ec3dc8f304679&showtopic=50299

    To tallbloke and Leif Svalgard,

    I previously built another chart which shows the temp impacts over a greater CO2 range which will probably help.

  183. erlhapp (16:37:13) :
    I hypothesise a wholus-bolus shift in the atmosphere, thinning it over the winter Pole and thickening it over the Equator. I think a Coronal Hole might do that.

    No, there is no mechanism for doing this, and the energy isn’t there either. Remember the solar wind impacts the Earth with the force of one BigMac w/Fries every second, and even less during a coronal hole [the speed may be high but the density is way down, so the total mass flux is smaller].

  184. Leif Svalgaard (17:12:51) :
    Sorry, I will try to be more specific. Recent work suggests atmospheric inflation related to coronal hole passes. Inflation is linked to muon counts and sudden stratospheric warmings. Muon counts increase as density falls. UV penetration should also vary with muon counts.

    What in your view is the consequence for atmospheric dynamics of the passage of a coronal hole in earth facing position and could the current state of the sun be expected to support phenomena of interest.

  185. Erlhap,

    About 35° of latitude marks the boundary between energy gain from short wave incoming radiation exceeding energy loss from outgoing long wave. There is an accumulation of energy in the tropical ocean and to a lesser extent in the atmosphere at lower latitudes. This is transported to higher latitudes. Without this transfer latitudes greater than 35° would be much colder, especially in winter and the tropics would be rather hotter.

    The 18.6 year Lunar tidal oscillation produces a “standing wave” pattern (with a peak to peak height ~ 16 mm) in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that has nodes at +/- 35 degrees of latitude and anti-nodes near +/- 70 to 90 degrees and on the Equator.

    This global tidal “standing wave” leads to a long term disspation of tidal power of ~ 1 terra Watt which is sufficent to provide about 1/2 of the total power needed to drive the up welling of cool water from the deep oceans.

    This is more than sufficient reason to propose that it is a tiidally driven PDO that is reinforcing the shorter term ENSO.

  186. lgl (05:13:15),

    The Earth’s LOD is also influenced by the gravity of the Moon, Jupiter and Venus.

    If you can wait for our Russian paper to come out in the next few months, you will see that we have addressed the very important points that you have made about long-term (billions of years) influnece of the Jupiter and Venus on the shape of the Lunar orbit and how this indirectly affects the long term effects of changes in Lunar tides upon theh Earth’s oceans.

  187. Bill Illis (17:24:40) :
    Those 1998 Arctic warmings were also associated with cooling in the Equatorial stratosphere as you see here:

    So this is a consistent phenomenon.

    Thanks for the netweather site and reference to Bobs observations. I will follow up.

    If there is a closed circulation in the Pacific the shape of South America tends to make the Atlantic a closed loop too with all the Southern Hemisphere water finishing up in the Gulf of Mexico along with the North Atlantic circulation. Bob’s post shows the result in terms of accelerated temperature increase.

    There is a big accelerator factor going up but it applies equally on the way down.

  188. Leif Svalgaard (17:32:06) :
    What else could explain the pattern whereby the equatorial stratosphere cools as the polar stratosphere warms.

  189. erlhapp (18:25:11) :
    Recent work suggests atmospheric inflation related to coronal hole passes.
    I wish you would use words that I can understand. I’m sure the papers did not not the word ‘inflation’. Perhaps you mean the increased height of the upper atmosphere.

    Inflation is linked to muon counts and sudden stratospheric warmings. Muon counts increase as density falls. UV penetration should also vary with muon counts.
    This muon count is a red herring, if there ever was one. It simply means that the mouns have to travel a bit longer if the temperature is higher and the upper atmosphere is more extended. Since the muons have a very short lifetime more decay during the longer travel, so the muon count can be used to measure the temperature in the upper atmosphere, but has otherwise no significance.

    What in your view is the consequence for atmospheric dynamics of the passage of a coronal hole in earth facing position and could the current state of the sun be expected to support phenomena of interest.
    Coronal holes have higher solar wind speed and create geomagnetic activity, so Ap [and other indices] and POES particle precipitation will be higher. This affects the termosphere and the upper mesosphere, but not much else. The UV [and Xrays] and ozone production will be down when we are looking into a dark coronal hole. Cosmic rays are not affected, because the CRs depends on an average over the whole heliosphere over about 6 months.

  190. erlhapp (19:13:25) :
    What else could explain the pattern whereby the equatorial stratosphere cools as the polar stratosphere warms.
    You have not explained anything, just posited something. If you actually had a viable explanation, who would object?

  191. Bill and Leif,

    Icecap has published the following article:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Satellite Data Show No Warming Before 1997. Changes Since Not Related to CO2
    By Arno Arrak

    He he makes the following statement:
    “Satellite records show that global temperature does not vary randomly but oscillates with a peak‐to‐peak amplitude of 0.4 to 0.5 degrees Celsius and a period of three to five years about a mean value that remains constant. Examination of land‐based data indicates that such temperature oscillations have been active, with some irregularities, as long as records have been kept.

    The mean temperature about which these oscillations swing remained the same during the eighties and nineties, showing absence of global warming for this period. But simultaneous land‐based measurements
    (HadCRUT3) show a warming of 0.2 degrees Celsius for that same period. Both cannot be correct.

    Cause of these global temperature oscillations is a periodic movement of ocean waters from shore to shore, associated with the El Nino – Southern Oscillation or ENSO system. This is accompanied by massive back and forth transfers of heat between the oceans and the atmosphere which was previously unsuspected and which shows up in all world temperature records. The absence of this major
    atmospheric phenomenon from IPCC global circulation models (GCMs) invalidates such models. Hence, any climate assessment based on these models is based on nothing more than GIGO.

    Normal ENSO temperature oscillations were suddenly interrupted from 1997 to 1999 by a giant warming peak, attributed to the “1998 super El Nino.”

    Since the energy of that 1998 warming peak did not come from the ENSO system it is entirely unaccounted for and could well be cosmogenic. Gamma ray burst GRB 971214 is a possible candidate source”.

    Is this Gamma ray burst theory viable in your opinion?

  192. Ron de Haan (21:51:24) :
    Since the energy of that 1998 warming peak did not come from the ENSO system it is entirely unaccounted for and could well be cosmogenic. Gamma ray burst GRB 971214 is a possible candidate source”.

    Is this Gamma ray burst theory viable in your opinion?
    That would be a long shot, indeed. What specific mechanism does the suggestor have in mind?

    • Leif,
      He does not specify the mechanism.
      He is just looking for an external source to explain the super el nino from 1998.
      The PDF and graphs can be downloaded from the article at ICECAP.US
      I think we can conclude that it’s a long shot.

  193. “This muon count is a red herring, if there ever was one. It simply means that the mouns have to travel a bit longer if the temperature is higher and the upper atmosphere is more extended. Since the muons have a very short lifetime more decay during the longer travel, so the muon count can be used to measure the temperature in the upper atmosphere, but has otherwise no significance.”

    Have you got this the right way round? See http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/news/story.aspx?id=300

    Quote:

    When the atmosphere heats up, it expands, and this means fewer mesons are destroyed by hitting air molecules. This in turn means more mesons are available to decay naturally into muons, which are less likely to interact with the atmosphere and so more likely to make it to Earth and be picked up by the MINOS detector.”

    My comment: So, I would expect more muons to be detected at high latitudes during a SSW and, due to the cooling of the stratosphere (increasing density) over the equator less muons to be detected at the surface near the equator.

    If the heating over the Arctic (from whatever cause) lowers the atmospheric density there, is it not reasonable to expect that density will increase elsewhere ? If you don’t like the word ‘density’ perhaps ‘optical path’ might suit. There is a change in the amount of material that a light ray has to traverse on its path to the surface.

    One might also suggest that concurrent heating in the mid latitudes where the high pressure cells are rich in ozone will tend to displace air towards the equator. So, I think that the behaviour of the atmosphere under the stimulus of a coronal hole is of interest. I believe an increase in temperature has been detected when the holes appear. See http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/2433/full

    Also: C/NOFS has observed the top of the ionosphere at solar minimum
    continuously for the first time. It is a surface that “breathes” – up
    during the day and down at night. The degree of expansion relates to magnetic field lines.

  194. “This muon count is a red herring, if there ever was one.”

    You are confused. The muons have less distance to travel.

    “when the CO2 concentration was 30-50 times [32 is 5 doublings, 64 is 6 doublings] higher than today, the temperature was 5-10 degrees higher.”

    You are lost. The maximum level reached over the last 2 billion years was 3000ppm which was known back when you matriculated to recur with Pangea formations owing to ocean circulation.

  195. Leif

    tallbloke (12:38:29) :
    No, the response is logarithmic, the first 20 parts per million co2 accounts for about half it’s effect. Every time it doubles, the amount of extra heating it causes drops.
    Leif Svalgaard estimates another 5-6 doublings would lead to another 5-10 degrees centigrade. I estimate that would be at 11,000-20,000ppm or 1-2%co2

    check your math, you are off by a zero or two. My estimate is empirical: when the CO2 concentration was 30-50 times [32 is 5 doublings, 64 is 6 doublings] higher than today, the temperature was 5-10 degrees higher.

    Today is 387ppm. One doubling is 774, two is 1548 three is 3096, four is 6192, five is 12384, six is 24768ppm. I underestimated, but i wasn’t off by “one or two zeros”. 24768ppm is equivalent to 2.47% of the atmosphere. Or have I made a stupid mistake? (Entirely possible :o)

    According to the Scotese et al graph posted by Anthony on the Hansen thread, the temperature was about 10C higher when the co2 level was at 8000ppm 550M years ago. When was the co2 level ever at the 30-50 times you state? (Pardon my ignorance)

    The models suggest around 3C/doubling. This seems way high if you estimate 5-10C for 5-6 doublings.

    Bill Illis’ figure of 1.6C seems nearer the mark.

  196. At present Carbon approximates its crustal abundance in the atmosphere and oceans. What conceivable cause could raise this30-50 times, boiling oceans following asteroid collision?

  197. tallbloke (05:52:23) :
    According to the Scotese et al graph posted by Anthony on the Hansen thread, the temperature was about 10C higher when the co2 level was at 8000ppm 550M years ago. When was the co2 level ever at the 30-50 times you state? (Pardon my ignorance)

    8000 ppm / 300 ppm [pre-industrial value] = 27 times and earlier than 550 Ma the concentration was even higher. Possibly 100-1000 times higher in the first billion years [to compensate for a Sun being 35% dimmer than today.

    gary gulrud (05:09:19) :
    You are lost.
    This blog tries to maintain a decorum of civility. You, sir, are one of the worst offenders against that goal.

  198. Bill, that is an excellent observation. Thanks for posting it. It appears to me the trade winds and surface ocean currents are electrically driven, more or less simultaneously.

    The Earth’s magnetic field interacts with the solar wind over a volume much greater than the size of the Earth. The energy from this interaction gets channeled to the magnetic poles of the Earth and initiates a current through it. Just as current flowing through a wire causes a torqued magnetic field around the circumference of the wire, the current passing through the rotating Earth produces an electric current about the equator in the direction of rotation.
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/l5618xjmt127xq62/

    The salt water oceans are conductive at their surface. The atmosphere is also conductive. Being fluids, the atmosphere and oceans would be pushed along by the force of the electric current at the equator. These are probably the same mechanics driving Jupiter, Saturn, and the other gas planets.

    I have performed experiments a couple years ago, which demonstrated the flow of water vapor can be controlled by the electrostatic field gradient between the Earth’s surface and ionosphere.

    There is a bulge in the ionosphere apparently caused by the positively charged sun acting on the negatively charged Earth. This bulge gets dragged around the planet as the Earth turns relative to the Sun. You can see this by watching the TEC data at JPL.
    http://iono.jpl.nasa.gov/latest_rti_global.html

    The dragging of this electron cloud around the Earth may also affect the ground currents.

    As I have been studying and experimenting in meteorology and paleoclimatology, it has become apparent the electrical forces in the atmosphere and oceans are just as important as the mechanical forces dependent upon pressure, temperature, and volume.

    Increased or decreased solar activity would increase or decrease the amount of energy being transferred to the Earth’s magnetic field. This would increase or decrease the current passing from pole to pole, and the induced current around the equator. The induced current around the equator would drive the atmosphere and surface ocean currents simultaneously, although being lighter, the atmosphere might show a change before ocean currents.

    Dave

  199. Leif Svalgaard (09:12:34) :

    tallbloke (05:52:23) :
    According to the Scotese et al graph posted by Anthony on the Hansen thread, the temperature was about 10C higher when the co2 level was at 8000ppm 550M years ago. When was the co2 level ever at the 30-50 times you state? (Pardon my ignorance)

    8000 ppm / 300 ppm [pre-industrial value] = 27 times and earlier than 550 Ma the concentration was even higher. Possibly 100-1000 times higher in the first billion years [to compensate for a Sun being 35% dimmer than today.

    Ah, ok, we’ve moved from your “today’s value”, to the “pre-industrial value”; 25% lower.
    I’m left wondering what evidence we have for co2 levels billions of years ago. Is it a theoretical value based on an assumption that the temperature of the earth was around the same as today’s? Wasn’t geothermal heat more of a factor back then?

    I’ll assume that my maths was right after all since you seem to have dropped the issue. :-)

  200. Dave (Volantis)
    great to see you posting here, and that you’ve put Tinsley’s paper to good use. ;-)
    You may not get much response from the oceanographers on this, but don’t be discouraged, Leif may have something to say.

  201. “You, sir, are one of the worst offenders against that goal.”

    That’s right, when your assertions of fact are silly, indefensible and given in a supercilious tone obstructing other’s discussions, cast allegations of ‘bad behavior’ and hope to confuse a few of the spoon-fed.

  202. Let’s see, we have a recurrance of global temps rising to 72 degrees F, high CO2 counts an order of magnitude greater than today, and singular continental formation/ocean formations. The cause? Why CO2, obviously.

  203. tallbloke (11:37:31) :
    Ah, ok, we’ve moved from your “today’s value”, to the “pre-industrial value”; 25% lower.
    In order to have a stable base value. Today’s value changes all the time as does the temperature and there is debate as to what is due to what. Going pre-industrial removes us from that.

    I’m left wondering what evidence we have for co2 levels billions of years ago. Is it a theoretical value based on an assumption that the temperature of the earth was around the same as today’s?
    There is a good body of evidence. One of the simpler one is that the Sun was 30% dimmer back then and we know we had liquid water, because there a sedimentary rocks from then. So we need a greenhouse effect to account for that.

    Here is one account: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030918092804.htm

    I’ll assume that my maths was right after all since you seem to have dropped the issue. :-)
    I may have misunderstood you, as you started out with 20ppm and I thought you were talking about future levels up from there. If it was just to tell us how much 2^5 and 2^6 was, then everything looks fine.

  204. gary gulrud (13:20:05) :
    silly, indefensible and given in a supercilious tone obstructing other’s discussions,
    you are true to form.

    gary gulrud (13:31:57) :
    Let’s see, we have a recurrance of global temps rising to 72 degrees F
    Global temps were once 70C, and of course due to CO2.

  205. Thanks Leif, informative as always. Kastings model estimates 10-200x todays levels. Quite a range. Only two datapoints beyond 1/2 billion years ago, and one suggests the level was at the lower end of the range through a soil sample study. If there was a lot more volcanic activity on the young earth blocking out a weaker sun, it seems to me something else was keeping the oceans from freezing. What could it be? Geothermal heating the water from below? Lots more methane? Volcanic aerosols trapping geothermal heat?

    Please do give some feedback to Volantis’ post above. I know David and he is a deep thinker.

  206. tallbloke (15:03:39) :
    Thanks Leif, informative as always. Kastings model estimates 10-200x todays levels. Quite a range. Only two datapoints beyond 1/2 billion years ago
    No. there are many other pieces of evidence. I don’t feel like doing ALL the work here. Do a little research yourself.

    Please do give some feedback to Volantis’ post above. I know David and he is a deep thinker.
    Unfortunately the post is flawed in so many places that it pains me to go through them all. Just a very glaring one: the Sun is not positively charged [surplus of ions] and the Earth is not negatively charged [surplus of electrons]. The electric force is about1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stronger than gravity and the slightest imbalance would wreak havoc with the Earth’s orbit.

    • the Sun is not positively charged [surplus of ions] and the Earth is not negatively charged [surplus of electrons].
      If the outer reaches of the Sun are not positively charged, then is it your view that the solar wind is made from something other than protons? And if the Earth’s ionosphere is not the outer layer of electric charge for the Earth then what is? Also, how would you explain the consistent attraction of the concentrated electrons in the Earth’s ionosphere toward the Sun?

      These are not rhetorical questions, but a sincere attempt to understand your explanation for observed phenomena.

      Dave

  207. tallbloke (15:03:39) :
    Kastings model estimates 10-200x todays levels. Quite a range. Only two datapoints beyond 1/2 billion years ago

    same range here:
    Nature 425, 279-282 (18 September 2003) | doi:10.1038/nature01902;
    High CO2 levels in the Proterozoic atmosphere estimated from analyses of individual microfossils
    Alan J. Kaufman & Shuhai Xiao

    Solar luminosity on the early Earth was significantly lower than today. Therefore, solar luminosity models suggest that, in the atmosphere of the early Earth, the concentration of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane must have been much higher1, 2. However, empirical estimates of Proterozoic levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have not hitherto been available. Here we present ion microprobe analyses of the carbon isotopes in individual organic-walled microfossils extracted from a Proterozoic ( 1.4-gigayear-old) shale in North China. Calculated magnitudes of the carbon isotope fractionation in these large, morphologically complex microfossils suggest elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the ancient atmosphere—between 10 and 200 times the present atmospheric level. Our results indicate that carbon dioxide was an important greenhouse gas during periods of lower solar luminosity, probably dominating over methane after the atmosphere and hydrosphere became pervasively oxygenated between 2 and 2.2 gigayears ago.

    • Kastings model estimates 10-200x todays levels. Quite a range. Only two datapoints beyond 1/2 billion years ago

      This region of paleoclimate has a significant problem called the Faint sun paradox.

      This is not only in the change in GHG /luminosity as evolution tells another story.So one cannot use the former explanation without constructing a new evolutionary theory.Hence the paradox.

      eg Pavlov 2001

      Organic haze in Earth’s early atmosphere: Source of low-13C Late Archean kerogens?
      Alexander A. Pavlov*,1, James F. Kasting*,1, Jennifer L. Eigenbrode*,1 and Katherine H. Freeman*,1

      1 Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA

      High concentrations of greenhouse gases would have been required to offset low solar luminosity early in Earth’s history. Enhanced CO2 levels are probably at least part of the solution, but CH4 may have played a significant role as well, particularly during the Late Archean era, 2.5–3.0 Ga, when methanogenic bacteria were almost certainly present. Indeed, biological CH4 production should have led to CO2 drawdown by way of a negative feedback loop involving the carbonate-silicate geochemical cycle. We suggest here that the atmospheric CH4/CO2 ratio approached the value of ~1 needed to trigger formation of Titan-like organic haze. This haze was strongly depleted in 13C relative to 12C and was produced at a rate comparable to the modern rate of organic carbon burial in marine sediments. Therefore, it could provide a novel explanation for the presence of extremely low-13C kerogens in Late Archean sediments.

      http://geology.geoscienceworld.org/cgi/content/abstract/29/11/1003

      Titan answers some open problems

      http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=36370

  208. Leif, yes, it was mostly Xiao’s work which was in the article you linked.
    I’ll accept your admonition and seek more info. A lot of stuff written on the early earth seems conflicting and outdated, it’s hard to know what’s the real deal.

    I guess David will have to find a different source for his equatorial electrical currents then. You’d think the earth might generate quite a lot of it’s own juice though, with it having a spinning iron core and all that electrolyte in the oceans.

  209. tallbloke (17:14:30) :
    You’d think the earth might generate quite a lot of it’s own juice though, with it having a spinning iron core and all that electrolyte in the oceans.
    It does as far a the core is concerned. That is what creates the main magnetic field of the Earth. The contribution from the oceans is minuscule [not measurable on a global scale]. There are internal currents in the Earth about 300 km down and in the oceans corresponding to the external daily variation of the geomagnetic field [this is about 1/1000] of the main field. These currents are permanent [because the Sun always shines somewhere] and stay fixed in relation to the Sun, the Earth rotating under’above them. More here: http://www.leif.org/research/CAWSES%20-%20Sunspots.pdf
    But the effect on climate and atmosphere is negligible. Of course, you’ll always find ‘electric universe’ enthusiasts that have other ideas, but that is pseudo-science.

    • The earth’s magnetic field is quite strongly modulated by changes in the strength of the solar wind though, so although those electric currents in the ocean and atmosphere are only 1/1000 of the main field, they will vary quite a bit. I agree that pressure differences are going to be much bigger drivers of trade winds. Would the electric effects make much of a difference to cloud formation/distribution and the triggering of precipitation events I wonder? They cause cooling and pressure changes. I seem to remember diagrams of storm clouds in old encyclopedias which had lots of ++++ and —– signs at the top and bottom.

    • Wow, great resource, thanks! I love the positivistic nature of the intro to section 19. Only one ‘probably and one ‘may have’ in the whole paragraph. ;-)

  210. Volantis (10:15:31) :
    the Sun is not positively charged [surplus of ions] and the Earth is not negatively charged [surplus of electrons].
    If the outer reaches of the Sun are not positively charged, then is it your view that the solar wind is made from something other than protons?

    The solar wind is EQUAL amounts of protons and electrons [with a little bit of other stuff thrown in].

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