Global Oceanic Climate Update for August 2009

Global Oceanic Climate Update for August 2009

Dr. Roy Spencer September 1st, 2009

climate_update Image courtesy of NOAA

This is the first of what might turn into a series of monthly updates of some maritime climate parameters monitored by the AMSR-E instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite. All monthly statistics have been computed by me from daily global gridpoint data produced and archived by Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) under the direction of Frank Wentz, a member of our U.S. AMSR-E Science Team. Since Aqua was launched in 2002, the data are available only since June, 2002. A description of how these products were derived, and where they reside, is provided here.

There are 5 “ocean products”: sea surface temperature [SST]; near-surface wind speed; vertically-integrated water vapor; vertically integrated cloud water; and rain rate. I will present time series of monthly anomalies averaged over the global, ice-free oceans (56 deg. N to 56 deg. S latitude), and separately for the deep tropics (20 deg. N to 20 deg. S latitude). ‘Anomalies’ are departures from the average seasonal cycles in those parameters, which will be recomputed as each new month of data is added.

GLOBAL OCEANS

In the first figure below are plotted the 5 ocean products for the global ice free-oceans (56N to 56S). As can be seen in the top panel, SSTs in August cooled slightly from the unusually warm conditions experienced in July.

I have added linear trend lines to each time series, which you are free to misinterpret as you wish. ;) Since the AMSR-E period of record is only 7.25 years long, a calculated trend won’t have much meaning…although it will be interesting to see how long it takes before the climate system obeys the UN’s command to warm, and the SST trend line begins to go uphill again.

amsre-56N-56S-anomalies-thru-aug-09

How these different variables change relative to each other is illustrated in the following lag-correlation plot of SST versus the other variables. “PDO” is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation Index, while “SOI” is the Southern Oscillation Index (negative for El Nino, positive for La Nina). A discussion of these curves is provided later, below.

amsre-56N-56S-anomaly-lag-correlations

TROPICAL OCEANS

The next figure shows the ocean product anomalies for just the deep tropics, 20N to 20S latitude….

amsre-20N-20S-anomalies-thru-aug-09

…and the lag correlation plot for the deep tropics is next:

amsre-20N-20S-anomaly-lag-correlations

DISCUSSION

Using the 20N-20S lag correlation plot as an example, you can see that total integrated water vapor is highly correlated with SST, which in turn is highly correlated with El Nino conditions (negative SOI values).

Also note that sea surface temperature tends to peak after months of anomalously low wind conditions, then falls as wind speeds increase.

Cloud water and rain rates increase as SST increases, reaching a maximum 1 to 3 months after the SST peaked.

Advertisements

85 thoughts on “Global Oceanic Climate Update for August 2009

  1. Once again, the use of the word “anomalies” instead of the proper word, “variability”. An anomaly is the departure (and usually a significantly large departure) from normal. It is absurdity to think that there is a fixed normal standard or norm for what is being depicted on these charts.

    But then, science has become a Humpty Dumpty world:

    When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    `The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    `The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master – – that’s all.’

    Who would have thought that Lewis Carrol would turn out to be a futurist, foreseeing the craziness that “science” has become? We have indeed “gone through the looking glass”.

  2. Also note that sea surface temperature tends to peak after months of anomalously low wind conditions, then falls as wind speeds increase.

    In the tropics, trade winds play an important role in sea surface temperatures from my own observation of various data. It is nice to see that someone far more credentialed in the field than I reports this. In many cases, sea surface temperatures are more a proxy for wind speeds than anything else.

    What is interesting to me is what wind speed is required to produce a sst anomaly of 0 and would that wind speed also be a 0 anomaly. In the diagram above for tropical oceans, it appears that sustained winds of around +0.1m/s anomaly can produce a -0.4C temperature anomaly.

  3. @ LarryOldtimer (10:13:56)

    “Anomaly” is the correct word; an irregularity. Your problem lies with the normalized value that the irregularity is plotted against.

    Perhaps you would be happier with the plots if the normalized value were made a thick line that would encapsulate the common range of “variability”. Of course, that leads to another debate over what constitutes the common range of variability.

    You may need to supply your own upper and lower bounds and defend them them when you enter the discussion.

    cheers,

    gary

  4. Some related info about the SOI (El Nino ) – http://www.dtnprogressivefarmer.com/dtnag/common/link.do?symbolicName=/ag/blogs/template1&blogHandle=weather&blogEntryId=8a82c0bc2315725901239a2e1df10655&showCommentsOverride=false

    The Pacific barometric indicator known as the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is still acting a little flaky, and is not supporting a trend to El Nino.

    The SOI calculation for Monday, Sept 8 is +11.35. The strongly positive figure, of course, is more La Nina-ish than El Nino. During the last 30 days, the SOI was a -0.20. The last 90 days’ SOI is almost exactly neutral at -0.01.

    ” In the past 8 days or so, from August 31 on, we have seen these SOI values: +12.81 on 8/31; -2.20 on 9/1; +0.54 on 9/2; +5.77 on 9/3; +15.63 on 9/4; +21.87 on 9/5; -4.87 on 9/6; +3.03 on 9/7; and today’s (Tuesday) calculation of +11.35.

    This SOI back-and-forth is so far not a sign of a strengthening El Nino. “

  5. Gary Turner(10:36:29) “”Anomaly is the correct word…….” As Humpty Dumpty said: “The question is…”.

  6. LarryOldtimer (10:13:56) :

    Once again, the use of the word “anomalies” instead of the proper word, “variability”.

    Hmm, variability implies to me a noisy signal, not something that might have a trend or can be compared to something

    It’s also just a step away from variance, and that implies a comparison to
    something like the average/normal/expected values.

    I’m happy with anomaly. Mirriam-Webster says:

    2 : deviation from the common rule : irregularity
    3 : something anomalous : something different, abnormal, peculiar, or not easily classified

    I wonder what the world takes for irregularity. Milk of magma?

  7. It is relieving that there is no “end of the world” ahead. All are real nano variabilities.
    All are not anomalous ( “inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected “). Everything is OK. No global warming, no climate change ahead.
    Good to know everything is usual, normal and as expected.

  8. So wind, by increasing evaporation, cools the Ocean Surface; this leads to more water vapor and clouds. Pretty straight forward when explained to me.

    So, what heats the Oceans?

  9. I think that we all know that higher temperatures would produce more rain, but it is interesting to see the ‘proof’. The warmies think that higher temperatures produce drought, wich i never realy understood.

  10. Robert Wood (11:42:46) :

    Some say that it could be the Sun, however some reputed scientists oppose that idea, they think it is CO2 instead.

  11. Jeff in Ctown (11:51:40) : cold, wind, drought

    Seems you do understand but this is still interesting.

    Cold leads to snow and storage of H2O in glacial ice. Glaciers grind rock into “rock flour” which is spread about during melt season and blown about during the freeze-up season. Glacier periods have been characterized as cold, windy, and dry with development of landforms of loess. Search with the term “loess” and follow some of the links.

    I was not aware that “the warmies think.”

  12. “…which you are free to misinterpret as you wish.”

    You asked for it!
    Judging by your figures, at this rate the entire planet will be covered with ice by 2050!

    Cheers Doc Spencer! 8-)

  13. Ric Werme (10:53:37) :

    I also do not like the term “anomaly”.

    I admit I am linguistically biased since in modern greek it is mainly used for human deviant behavior, but also because :
    2 : deviation from the common rule : irregularity
    3 : something anomalous : something different, abnormal, peculiar, or not easily classified

    if accepted at face value, means that there exists a “regular”, a “normal”, and “easily classified” temperature, that one expects the weather/climate to be in stasis and anything outside of it is anomalous.

    In no way the chaotic system that is weather and climate can be considered to be in stasis , IMO.

  14. anna v (12:31:57) :
    In no way the chaotic system that is weather and climate can be considered to be in stasis
    No chaotic system accept a regular driver like the sun, the trouble is we as witnesses do not last too long too observe it. Wait patiently and you will observe regularity.
    Gwrs. are the agents of “chaos” :-)

  15. Very cool post. I see Robert Wood makes the link that cool SST is created by evaporation due to increased wind. An alternative explanation rather than massive heat removal would be the piling of the warm ocean surface water on one coast or another exposing the cooler deep water to the air. Anthony had an earlier post around January sometime demonstrating the piling of hot water along the continental coast . I don’t remember the reasoning given.

  16. Robert Wood: You wrote, “So wind, by increasing evaporation, cools the Ocean Surface; this leads to more water vapor and clouds. Pretty straight forward when explained to me,” then asked, “So, what heats the Oceans?”

    The answer lies partly in your opening sentence.

    But for a more detailed description that’s reasonably easy to read, refer to “A Global Survey of Ocean–Atmosphere Interaction and Climate Variability” (2004) by Wang et al. Link here:
    http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/docs/2004_Wang_etal.pdf

    Warning: It includes a gratuitous AGW plug toward the end, but, on the other hand, it takes a big roundhouse swing at GCM biases in the next paragraph.

  17. On the charts displayed, the ocean SSTs seem to change ahead of the changes in all the other parameters. Have I interpreted them correctly ?

    For my understanding of climate changes to be correct the oceans need to independently vary the rate of release of energy with the air then following.

    For AGW proponents and some sceptics it is events in the air that occur first with the ocean SSTs and the climate then following.

    Which is it ?

  18. Interesting set of data. Along with the word “anomaly”, I do not like the word “brightness” either. But realistically, those animosities stem from the fact that each word has an understood colloquial meaning; but also a specific “scientific” meaning; and the two aren’t necessarily the same.
    To me, anomaly, also means something that is out of whack ,and not what it is supposed to be.

    But I can accept that it is a standard usage term of climate “Science”, so I am prepared to cut them some slack, and say I’ll adopt your meaning for this purpose; but I still don’t like the concept, but accept that climatologists are used to using it.

    But to the good Doctor’s data. Thge SST, and following evap, and further delayed rain, are in Keeping with Frank Wentz et al’s paper from SCIENCE Jul7 7 2007. To me then it is not surprising that evap follows SST s delayed, and subsequently more evap leads to more rain, and also to more clouds (negative feedback)

    I’m not a meteorologist; but it doesn’t surprise me that as SSTs go up that eventually surface wind speeds go up; after all isn’t it differential temperatures that create the winds.

    So I don’t necessarily associate the increased evap with the increasing winds; to me, both are consequences of the SST increases; so I do not see the wind as being responsible for the evap but more a result of differential surface warming (sea/land).

    As to what heats the ocean; simple; direct sunlight, solar spectrum incident radiation, which propagates deeply (many tens of metres) into the oceans. It certainly isn’t downward directed long wave IR, which will be stopped in the top ten microns, and lead to prompt evaporation (and surface cooling).

    This will be a nice set of data to get monthly updates on Dr Roy; thank you for taking on the task.

    George

  19. Any chance of seeing the lags for 12 months before and after rather than just 6 months before and after ?

    Longer would be even better.

    The most striking correlation is between SOI and SSTs rather than PDO. I suppose that is logical given that PDO is a statistical artifact.

    Is SST always so well matched to SOI ?

  20. If water vapour, rainfall, cloudiness and wind do indeed all follow the ocean SSTs and do not lead them then my hypothesis about oceanic forcing being neutralised by changes in the speed of the hydrological cycle seems to stack up with the evidence presented here.

  21. Many thanks Dr Spencer. Excellent data.

    If we could add OHC (Ocean Heat Content), Solar Irradiance and LWR to these time series, we would get a comprehensive picture of the heat flows in the Earth’s climate system.

    Who knows. Maybe it would show a GHG signature.

  22. I also do not like the term “anomaly”.

    That’s fine, but it’s widely used. Widely. See also: gravity anomaly.

    You may ask yourself: what is unexpected or abnormal about gravity anomalies? Technically, nothing. Gravity anomalies have been fairly extensively mapped, so it’s not like we don’t know they’re there.

    There’s not much of an analogy between gravity anomalies and things like SST, because gravity anomalies are more or less fixed over a span of years, while SSTs aren’t. Think of it as spacial vs. temporal anomaly.

  23. Somewhat on topic: OI.v2 Monthly SST anomaly update:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/09/august-2009-sst-anomaly-update.html

    As you can see, the Global SST anomalies are nowhere close to the record levels in the OI.v2 data…

    …but the ERSST.v3b data is again in record monthly territory. Raw data here:
    ftp://eclipse.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/ersstv3b/pdo/aravg.mon.ocean.90S.90N.asc

    The Hadley Centre’s HADSST2 as of last month also was not at record highs (first column after date):
    http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadsst2/diagnostics/global/nh+sh/monthly

    As soon as the Hadley Centre releases their August HADSST2 update, I’ll put together a post comparing the official NOAA ERSST.v3b data with the other two datasets. HADSST2 is not satellite based, so that excuse is not applicable.

  24. Nogw (11:13:03) :

    “It is relieving that there is no “end of the world” ahead. All are real nano variabilities.
    All are not anomalous ( “inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected “). Everything is OK. No global warming, no climate change ahead.
    Good to know everything is usual, normal and as expected.”

    I agree, but who would have thought that Labor Day would bring snow to Mt. Bachelor in Oregon?
    http://www.katu.com/news/local/57656322.html

  25. Very interesting plots on the lag times and sequence.

    If we accept at face value that, the sequence might be that at some low SST the winds essentially stop, or drop to a low enough threshold so that evaporative heat loss does not keep up with solar isolation heat gain. Then that changing heat balance, starts a gradual warming of the SST. That as the SST rises, water vapor and rainfall rise almost in step with it, with about a 0.5 – 1 month delay. Then all the others follow.

    Now for a back test! Did that pattern and sequence occur during the 1998 SST peak?
    Unfortunately, as mentioned in the original post, this data set only goes back to 2002, but can the necessary data be assembled from sources that were around during that time, perhaps satellite, and or buoy based data sets that report the three primary variables, SST, water vapor, and wind speed for the 1998 super El Nino area.

    For example, was there a wind gyre formed over that area which had very low wind speeds, or maintained high enough humidity, without rain out, to effectively cut off evaporative cooling of the Sea Surface?

    If the concept is correct, you would need to have a combination of two variables, both wind speed and prevailing humidity determine evaporative cooling of the surface.

    Is there a wind pattern, barometric pressure system configuration or vertical lapse rate profile that would trap high humidity air near the surface in this area and prevent cloud formation and rain out?

    Is that pattern stable (ie persists for weeks or months)?
    Becalmed sailors stories lead me to believe the answer is yes.

    Does that pattern result in low wind speeds or a captive cell of high humidity at the surface that cannot cool the ocean surface by evaporation?

    If so, even at moderate to low wind conditions little if any evaporative cooling would happen if you had some sort of a cap on convection and mixing.

    The effect is obvious for anyone who has experienced a hot muggy night where even though there is a breeze, it is so humid that it does not cool you off.

    Larry

  26. I too do not like the term “anomaly”. When i was working as an applied mathematician doing orbit determination and trajectory analysis we used the word residual which to me has a different meaning to me then anomaly.

    We also throw away the outliers as bad data while the climate change gurus seem to think they are the truth incarnate.

  27. Dear Dr. Spencer

    First of all thank you for all your efforts on this blog. It is really nice to see important people spending their time in the open space!

    I take that opportunity to ask what are certainly very basic questions, but up to now I couldn’t find any clear information about it, certainly due to my lack of physics knowledge.
    This is about remote measurements: what is in fact measuring the sensors in the satellites?
    For SST I understand this is about microwave, but what about other measurements (wind, water vapor, rain) ?
    And for the microwave measurement:
    – why only the sea surface? and not land?
    – how is it known it is actually the sea surface temperature (I saw the calibration, but hey, proxy reconstruction for past temperature uses calibration as well :))
    – is it temperature of the first 10 cm of sea? 1 meter? temperature of the air on top of the surface?

    I still have a box full of other questions of the same type, but that is certainly enough for now.

    So if you could provide me with some hints, papers or books where I could find those explanation, I would really appreciate.

    Of course anyone who has an answer is welcomed to answer as well :)

    thank you in advance

  28. So if the sun heats the water, and wind cools it, what creates the wind? If I remeber elementry school correctly, it is water evaporation wich is trigered by warm water (wich we now now is due to lack of wind). This all produces a nice feedback loop to keep everything in check. These are the kinds of things that will slowly add up and kill the warmies. Yah!

  29. My understanding of an anomaly is that it is the difference from some base period average. So if TBj is the average temperature for month j in the base period, then the anomaly Aj,y is simply Tj,y-TBj where y denotes the year and j the month and Tj,y is the observed temperature for that year and month. If I am correct in this, then one cannot say, as Dr Spencer has, that August has cooled compared to July. It could be that the observed value of .12 for August is the largest ever recorded for August. It would then be a stretch to say that August has cooled.

    Stringing together anomalies in a time series seems problematic to me.

  30. Seems like anomaly is quite unpopular; which suggests many of us here aren’t formally trained in “climatology”; which includes me; nor do I have formal training in Astrology.

    I’d prefer to see data in SI units of course; but I’m perfectly ok with letting the climate science guys assign their special non-colloquial meaning to “anomaly”, and simply ignore my layman understanding of that word.

    Likewise in Photometry; we don’t like to use the word “brightness” because it has a common everyday connotation that is unspecific enough to be useless in Photometry, so we use “Luminance” instead, as the Photometric analog of “Radiance”; which of course is measured in Watts per Steradian, per square metre. Lay persons are likely to use “Brightness” instead of Luminance, Luminous Intensity, Luminous emittance, Illuminance; all of which are quite different Photmetric quantities; they have neither the same dimensions nor units., so to lazily use brightness is to thoroughly confuse the reader.

    So i’m happy to discard, my lay dictionary understanding of “anomaly” as meaning off base, or improper; but I would still rather see this brought into the mainstream of ordinary physics metrology.

    It can get a lot worse; some physicists like to use a system of units which says that e = c = h (or maybe it’s “h bar” =h/2pi) = 1; works for them I guess.

    Climate scientists could help their own cause, if they simply added to their graphs the SI value of the zero point of their anomaly data.

    It doesn’t matter to me whether the base line is the 1960-2000 average value or whether it is the average from 1066 to 1776 ; just tell me the SI unit value.

    As for all the curves that Roy Spencer (Dr) has posted here; notice that no cause and effect information is included; they are as Al Gore likes to say, clearly correlated, but that alone doesn’t tell us who did what to whom.

    But I believe that these sorts of data graphs, and Frank Wentz et al’s paper “How Much More rain will Global Warming Bring ?” SCIENCE July 7/2007 make a powerful argument (along with the cloud graphs, which weren’t in that paper), that the oceanic water /cloud cycle is what is in robust feedback control of the earth’s temperature range; and it all doesn’t have much to do with CO2; it is entirely dictated by the physical and other properties of H2O and that weird 104 degree angle of the molecule.

    George; waiting to celebrate the new ice season.

  31. The Cloud Water measurement appears to be increasing over time (2002 -> 2009) relative to all the other measurements (rain rate, wind speed, sst, water vapor) .
    Is it possible to confirm this increase?

    If it exists could it be related to the solar cycle?

  32. The only thing missing from the charts is how solar insolation varies with water vapor, rain, and/or cloud water. That might complete the cycle. As those three decrease, insolation increases and heats the sea surface.

  33. LarryOldtimer (10:13:56) :

    Once again, the use of the word “anomalies” instead of the proper word, “variability”. An anomaly is the departure (and usually a significantly large departure) from normal.

    Call it what you will, my understanding is, departure of a point from the mean (mathematical average).

    To my question … Dr Spencer (or Bob Tisdale) ?

    Inspired by E.M.Smith and his delving into GISS I had a look at some of the long record stations and plotted my own anomaly graphs.

    All I did was take a station with a long continuous record (from GHCN mean V2) and set a base line for a particular month that was the average (say x100 years) of that month. With the base line I then plotted the anomaly for that month for each year of record for that particular station. (no smearing/in fill from other stations)

    (now that is out of the way) What I think I see is that the anomaly in the area I focused on (Iceland) in July is remarkably (stunningly) stable over 100+ years.

    (the questions) Am I right in seeing this stable range of anomalies (for one station)? Does satellite data show the same stability at any point on the globe?

  34. Looking at the graphs, it occurs to me that a simple global scale climate model might have good predictive ability over a 6 to 12 month time scale and who knows, perhaps over longer timescales.

    A climate model with good predictive ability 12 months out would create quite a stir.

  35. re: curiousgeorge’s SOI link and values, it seems that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s understanding of the current state of the index is different to the one quoted. They reckon it’s -1.4 at the moment. Their data is available on this page:
    http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/soi.dt3
    It’s used to generate the graph on this page:
    http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/
    -1.4 is still in El Nino territory. It has been for a while.
    Maybe we’re comparing different values?

  36. wkkruse (15:08:39) : My understanding of an anomaly is that it is the difference from some base period average. So if TBj is the average temperature for month j in the base period, then the anomaly Aj,y is simply Tj,y-TBj where y denotes the year and j the month and Tj,y is the observed temperature for that year and month. If I am correct in this, then one cannot say, as Dr Spencer has, that August has cooled compared to July. It could be that the observed value of .12 for August is the largest ever recorded for August. It would then be a stretch to say that August has cooled.

    The “anomaly” in a single graph must be the difference from some single absolute value (average) or it would make no sense. I dont think you are correct in saying that each month is the difference from some average of that month, or the averages keep changing.

    Hence August will have cooled compared to July

  37. Jeff in Ctown (15:07:26) :

    So if the sun heats the water, and wind cools it, what creates the wind?

    Chickens and Eggs me suspects.

  38. Richard, See
    http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/execute.csh?amsutemps. Note that the global temperature varies substantially over the course of a year. If the anomaly were based on the single yearly average, the January anomaly would always be negative and the July anomaly always positive. Each month has to be compared against its own average or the anomaly doesn’t make sense.

    My point is essentially that the anomalies for each month have to be normalized in order for them to be compared to one another.

  39. For the record, I don’t like “normal” and “anomaly” either, but they have specific meanings (average, and departure from average are probably better terms) that the field is stuck with.

    Microwave SSTs probably represents the upper few millimeters of water, but I’ve seen claims of even a cm or more.

    Land surface temperature retrievals are much more difficult because the emissivity of land varies so widely. Ocean surface emissivity variations are much better behaved…Frank Wentz is probably the leading expert in this area.

    Wind speed is from the polarization-dependent increase in brightness temperature due to both foam and capillary waves on the surface. It’s empirically calibrated to a 10 m anemometer height. Accurate retrieval of SST requires a good simultaneous accounting for the wind effect, since both act to increase brightness temperatures, but by different proportions in H versus V polarizations.

    Water vapor retrieval is from the frequency dependent microwave absorption by water vapor near the 22.235 GHz absorption line. It is probably one of the most accurate of the microwave retrievals, although the fact it is vertically integrated reduces its utility.

    Rain retrievals are from the frequency dependent absorption by microwaves by raindrops…even though its calibrated in terms of a surface rain rate, it is more directly related to the total vertically integrated water content, with large drops (precipitation-size) having a greater influence that small (cloud water) drops. This (rain retrieval) is the field I was originally an ‘expert’ in, before global warming took over my life.

    The separation between cloud water and rain water retrievals is pretty fuzzy, as one inevitably affects the other.

  40. wkkruse (16:52:38) : ..the global temperature varies substantially over the course of a year. If the anomaly were based on the single yearly average, the January anomaly would always be negative and the July anomaly always positive. </I

    Correct and if you examine that graph thats how it seems to be

    Each month has to be compared against its own average or the anomaly doesn’t make sense. My point is essentially that the anomalies for each month have to be normalized in order for them to be compared to one another.

    No a single graph has to be compared against a single average (a range of years not one) or it makes no sense

  41. LarryOldtimer (10:13:56) :

    But then, science has become a Humpty Dumpty world:

    When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    `The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    `The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master – – that’s all.’

    Who would have thought that Lewis Carrol would turn out to be a futurist, foreseeing the craziness that “science” has become? We have indeed “gone through the looking glass”.

    Lets hope that we don’t see an emergence of a “Queen of Hearts” figure on the political landscape, declaring “Off with their Heads!”

  42. Richard (16:15:10) :

    The “anomaly” in a single graph must be the difference from some single absolute value (average) or it would make no sense. I dont think you are correct in saying that each month is the difference from some average of that month, or the averages keep changing.

    Hence August will have cooled compared to July

    I may have read the above wrong, but the first sentence was OK and the second seems to contradict it.

    For an individual station we have records (January in this example). They are 100 years worth of average January temperatures. To find the mean “baseline” we might sum them all and /100. Then for each year in the series we compare each individual “Jan” to our calculated baseline for jan and come up with a difference (the anomaly).

    Comparing different months is pretty meaningless. Anomalies are only valid compared to themselves. Even then the absolute anomaly has little value in the sense that if the anomaly for September (08) was +10 and the September (09) anomaly is -10 then the overall trend is zero.

    Earlier in the comments I asked about the narrow band that July anomalies in Iceland sit – stunning I thought. You can see the peak of the trend in the 30’s/40’s and the trough in the 60’s/70’s but overall (100+ years) it seemed to be remarkably stable year on year. Three sounds like a lot of anomaly until you see 100 years of -3 to +3.

    Reading anything into a spot anomaly of 0.18 is just anal as far as I am concerned. Going back to the Icelandic stations a particular January (very wild month in Iceland) anomaly might be -6.00 but it means little, the following year may be +4.00. If that continued over the 100 years we would be “loosing” 2.00 per year and would all be living in ice cathedrals by now. It doesn’t, which leaves us arguing over 150 year trends of (imaginary) 0.6/Cent. and how best to flagellate ourselves – far more anal IYWMO

  43. Not that it adds on iota to the conversation but I’ve always viewed “anomaly” as equating to “outlier” , something outside the normal range of variability. What I see measured here is simple variation about the mean, but then no one is paying me for my conflation of the anomalous use of English hyperbole in science. (just to be clear, that wasn’t a slight directed at Dr. Roy. As for the rest in climate science, yeah, well…:)

  44. 3×2 (17:44:05) : Comparing different months [sea temperatures] is pretty meaningless. Anomalies are only valid compared to themselves. Even then the absolute anomaly has little value…

    I dont know what you mean by “absolute anomaly”.

    The average global air temperatures are always warmer in July than Jan because there is more land in the NH and its heats up more in their summer than the SH does.

    The sea does not follow this pattern.

    I am pretty sure that the anomalies of that graph are against one single value. It is meaningful to me, and it would indicate that global sea temperatures in August were less than in July

  45. LarryOldtimer (10:13:56) :

    Once again, the use of the word “anomalies” instead of the proper word, “variability”.

    You’re right. “Anomalies” with respect to what (?). If we take into account that for the Holocene period the fluctuations of temperature fit into a range of -3 K to 3 K), a fluctuation of 0.6 K to 1.6 K is not “anomalous”.

  46. This posting inspired me to go back and move the GIStemp evaluation forward One More Step. Little did I realize that the result would be an evaluation that tied directly to that large part of the planet full of oceans and islands:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/09/08/gistemp-islands-in-the-sun/

    Turns out that in the last “land” step; STEP3, islands end up being very important. STEP4_5 is all that is left and it is just merging the “land” data in with a SST anomaly map from Hadley. STEP2 does the “anomaly” map reference station UHI adjustment, and STEP3 takes that data and creates “grid boxes” of temperature data.

    One Small Problem. It uses a 1200 km radius for impact of a thermometer. So a single thermometer on a single island can “create” an entire box worth of data far far away. And where are the thermometers at a lot of those islands in the sun? Well, at the airport. In the sun.

    Think about it…

    And any tendency for islands to be non-equally distributed around the planet (i.e. lots of them in the South Pacific Ocean; Arctic Ocean not so much…) will give them an excessive impact on the “grid boxes”…

    So now we have to add IHI – Island Heat Island to the lexicon…

  47. E.M.Smith (19:15:57) – “…a single thermometer on a single island can “create” an entire box worth of data far far away….”. That seems pretty significant. Would it account for the difference in trends between the Satellite temps and GISS? ( and thus a good bit of global warming)

  48. Nice blog post. Very much appreciated the lag graphs. I have to say that I have less and less patience with global warming theorists. I am just not capable of much patience anymore. Time is ticking away and if idiots want to throw themselves off the cliff in a mad lemmings dash to what they think is nirvana, so be it. Call me retired and soaking in a hot springs in the Cascades or mountains of Idaho, far, far away from the maddening crowd.

  49. 3×2 (16:18:09) :

    Jeff in Ctown (15:07:26) :

    So if the sun heats the water, and wind cools it, what creates the wind?

    Chickens and Eggs me suspects.

    Or just maybe the fluctuating UV level interacting with the Stratosphere causing pressure and temperature changes.

  50. I have enjoyed all this discussion, but I have yet to see anyone talk about the fact that this is a classic example of a strong negative feedback:
    Increase in SST = increase in wind rain and clouds
    high wind rain and clouds = lower SST

    No positive feedback amplifications here!

    When people talk about the climate on a knife edge like Big Al in “Life in the Balance” I always have to ask the question: How did the climate get put up onto that knife edge in the first place?

    As a geologist and student of geomorphology I see very few boulders resting on knife edges, instead most have long since rolled off the ridge.

    Negative feedbacks are the way of this world, it has to be that way, otherwise life would not exist here.

  51. In astronomy, the word ‘anomaly’ is widely and officially used about planetary motions (Keplerian elliptical motion): there we have angles called mean anomaly, eccentric anomaly, and true anomaly. See any textbook on mathematical astronomy.

  52. Tom in Co (21:43:18)

    Just so , Tom.

    Increase in SST = increase in wind rain and clouds
    high wind rain and clouds = lower SST.

    Decrease in SST = decrease in wind rain and clouds.
    less wind rain and clouds = higher SST.

    So the oceans change their rate of energy release independently of anything that happens in the air and the air circulation systems respond with a proportionate latitudinal shift thus altering the speed of the hydrological cycle and the rate of energy transfer from surface to space until the effect of the oceanic change is neutralised.

    The significance for AGW being that since air cannot heat water significantly the SSTs control the air temperatures and any temperature change that is limited to the air alone gets dealt with by the same mechanism but on a miniscule scale.

    Extra CO2 thus can warm the air a miniscule amount but not the oceans and to deal with it the system provides a miniscule increase in the speed of the hydrological cycle and a miniscule( probably unmeasurable) latitudinal shift in the air circulation systems.

    Gaia rules and humans are acquitted.

  53. Thank you very much for your answers, Dr. Spencer.

    Just two more questions (and then I ll start to think a bit by myself… never too late)
    – the emissivity of the land being an issue for the retrieval of land temperature. Does it mean than in fact all satellites measurements (meaning the different satellites systems used to measure the surface temperature since the beginning of the satellite era) are for the sea surface only? Never land surface temperature has been measured?
    – for the sea surface temperature representing few millimeters (or centimeters, this is not very important for this question), I remember having read that this thin layer of water behave in a very different way compared to the 1 meter and more layer of the ocean, and that the temperature of the very thin layer is very sensitive to the amount of radiations received (sun for example). Is it right understanding and does it mean that the SST measurements from satellite can not be used (or perhaps not directly) to have an idea of the energy content of the ocean?

    Thank you in advance for the clarifications.

  54. we really need to reiterate on a consistent basis that “normal” is not a set point but a range of variability, so “anomaly” should only be calculated as a departure from standard deviation of variability in data. Calling any departure from one set point as “anomaly” is Orwellian doublespeak that inherently supports the stasist world view of the alarmists.

  55. The oceans would change their rate of energy release to the air as a result of an interaction between solar variations and the fluid mechanics within the oceans.

    Somewhat like a tuning fork setting up oscillations in the flow of sound waves through air the solar/ocean interaction would seem to set up oscillations in the energy flow through the Earth system.

    It is then left to the air to smooth out the discontinuities in the energy flow that have been set up within the oceans.

    The circulations in the air operate as a powerful and highly flexible negative feedback for whatever happens within the oceans in terms of solar energy flow through the Earth system.

    Those air circulations also prevent the oceanic variability from destabilising the entire system by adjusting energy flow from air to space so that over time it continues to approximately match the energy flow from the sun into the system.

    My assertions would appear to be supported by the data presented by Dr. Spencer in this thread. The sequence of events laid out in his ‘ocean products’ fits my expectations perfectly.

    Unless someone can point out an error on my part ?

  56. I am amused that Dr Spencer’s data series start a point of ‘maximum’ ‘global temperature’, which is a useful counterpoint to all this 1979 is an average point in the temperature cycle nonsense.

    No doubt the warmers will jump on that with alacrity.

    It’s like Sir Alex Ferguson becoming a rabid opponent of diving.

    It usually only happens when his big opponents can be castigated over it.

  57. Philip_B (13:53:43) :

    “So, what heats the Oceans?”

    “”Sunshine.””

    Don’t forget geothermal energy too – all those 300C+ superheated black smokers all along the mid ocean ridges. For example, the mid Atlantic oceanic ridge runs through Iceland, north between Spitzbergen and Greenland and over the pole towards Siberia.

  58. Richard, RE anomalies. Dr Spencer says in the second paragraph above that “‘Anomalies’ are departures from the average seasonal cycles in those parameters, which will be recomputed as each new month of data is added.”

    If I were peer reviewing this paper, I would ask for an unambiguous mathematical description of this procedure since the definition of an anomaly is critical to understanding the paper.

    In Dr. Spencer’s statement I find the phrase “which will be recomputed as each new month of data is added.” confusing since it could be interpreted that the average seasonal cycles are being recomputed each time new data is added.

    Perhaps Dr Spencer has some time to clarify the definition of anomaly.

  59. “””” Tom in Co. (21:43:18) :

    I have enjoyed all this discussion, but I have yet to see anyone talk about the fact that this is a classic example of a strong negative feedback:
    Increase in SST = increase in wind rain and clouds
    high wind rain and clouds = lower SST “””

    Tom see my post:- “”” George E. Smith (15:28:09) :”””

    Note the last paragraph. This is at least the tenth year that I have been harping on cloud negative feedback (ALL clouds). Prior to that it just seemed self evident to me; but I didn’t start commenting till I realized the rubbish that was being palmed off as science.

    So your theseis is wrong; people have been talking about robust cloud negative feedback for eons.

    George

  60. Stephen,

    Unless someone can point out an error on my part ?

    Perhaps not an error but did you miss this?
    “Also note that sea surface temperature tends to peak after months of anomalously low wind conditions, then falls as wind speeds increase.”

    This appears not to support your assertions.

  61. lgl (11:35:28)

    Thanks but I did look at that most carefully which is why I am hoping for a longer graph either side of the peak ocean surface temperatures and deepest SOI.

    In fact the data presented is ambiguous in that the reduction in winds could just as likely be a consequence of lower SSTs as a cause of higher SSTs hence my comments about chicken and egg.

    Look at this again:

    Increase in SST = increase in wind rain and clouds
    high wind rain and clouds = lower SST.

    Decrease in SST = decrease in wind rain and clouds.
    less wind rain and clouds = higher SST.

    Now that doesn’t tell us which starts the process either but it does show that there is a powerful negative (never positive) feedback whatever happens.

    So going back to basics the oceans are a far more powerful heat sink than the air so is it likely that the air drives the oceans or that the oceans drive the air ?

    I plump solidly for oceanic variation as the primary driver with the air following and anything that happens in the air whether it be UV changes or cosmic ray changes will only ever be a second order modulating factor.

    It’s got to be one or the other, ocean or air, so I have a 50/50 chance of deserving a Nobel prize (getting one is another matter!!!).

  62. Because all the factors that enter into the determination of total power fluxes in the air-sea interaction are being measured by the Aqua satellite, this is very important data. The question I have for Roy Spencer is whether the monthly compilations for the tropics (as shown in this post) are available anywhere for download, or do we have to compile afresh from the gridded data?

    I too dislike the term “anomaly,” preferring “departure” in its place. But at least it’s not as wrongly suggestive a term as “normal random deviates,” printed tables of which were commonplace before the advent of computer-generated random number sequences.

  63. Bob Tisdale (12:59:19)

    Some time ago, on a different thread, you had asked for some modern references that quantified the air-sea interactions I was describing. None came to mind immediately. Since then I have found that there’s a new edition of Eric Kraus’ old classic “Ocean-Atmosphere Interactions” (Oxford, 1994) that might fit the bill. Also, Wilfried Bretsaert’s monograph “Evaporation into the Atmosphere” (Reidel, 1982) treats that process in great depth. Hope these two references prove useful to you in understanding the complex physics underlying the phenomena that Wang et al. merely describe geographically. And you’ll find no servile bow to AGW orthodoxy in either of these brass-tacks treatments.

  64. Stephen,

    You must see something in these graphs that I’m unable to see.
    What I’m seeing is that SST and wind anti-correlates with a 3 mth lag (tropics), wind drops>>SST peaks 3 months later.

    Decrease in SST = decrease in wind rain and clouds
    When?
    The multiyear trend is quite clear, you don’t need longer graphs. Between 2005 and 2008 wind increases and SST drops. After 2008 this is reversed.

    the oceans are a far more powerful heat sink than the air ??
    Why are you so hung up on heat store? Close to nothing of the radiation entering the oceans is stored, and the air without ghgs is a perfect heat sink (‘radiation sink’).

  65. lgl (01:18:50)

    Refer to the lag correlations not the ‘anomalies’ themselves. SST rises to a peak then winds increase, SST falls and wind decreases both with a three month lag. The charts do not reveal whether wind or water initiates the process but going back to basic principles it must be the water.

    I now try to avoid use of the term ‘heat store’ . The oceans alter the rate of flow of formerly solar energy through the system rather than storing anything although the word ‘store’ could be applicable in the sense that total energy content rises and falls in tune with variations in the rate of energy flow.

    Do you deny that there is more energy in the oceans than in the air ?

  66. lgl (01:18:50)

    The period 2005 to 2008 shows two peaks of high SST with a dip in the middle. During that period the wind speed increases in fits and starts. All that means is that the dip in the middle was not enough to disrupt the overall progression of warming SSTs and consequent increase in wind speed.

    The warming SSTs cause increasing wind speed until the cooling effect of the extra wind offsets the energy release from the oceans.

    From 2007/8 SSTs drop and all the other variables drop to follow the new ocean trend.

  67. “Refer to the lag correlations not the ‘anomalies’ themselves. SST rises to a peak then winds increase, SST falls and wind decreases both with a three month lag. The charts do not reveal whether wind or water initiates the process but going back to basic principles it must be the water.”

    Where do ITCZ Cu-Nims fit in? Seems they should be the main SST -> wind converter.

  68. Stephen,

    Do you deny that there is more energy in the oceans than in the air ?
    No, but ‘all’ the energy is in the Sun, and the thing with the atmosphere is not it’s heat content but it’s ability to emit LWR down to the surface.
    If there is 500 W received by the ocean and 499,5 W sent out again (yes it’s not the exact values) I don’t see why the tiny OHC increase is so interesting.

    Sandy,

    Tell us more.

  69. Sandy (02:59:21)

    The ITCZ represents the first step in the response of the air to oceanic forcing. I’m not sure what proportion of the process is attributable to the ITCZ alone.

    As you will be aware it moves latitudinally on a seasonal basis but I aver that it also (over and above the seasonal movement) moves latitudinally in response to oceanic forcing.

    As the ITCZ shifts so does every other air circulation system on the planet but it is not always obvious because of an element of chaotic variability imposed on the results of the oceanic forcing.

    Essentially a faster rate of energy release from the oceans expands the equatorial air masses and pushes the entire air circulation system poleward. in each hemisphere. The speed of the hydrological cycle increases and the rate of energy transfer from surface to space increases.

    In due course stability is restored and the equatorial air masses contract again as the rate of energy release from the oceans declines.

    A constant climate balancing act induced by the oceans as they vary the rate at which solar energy is released to the air.

    It is those latitudinal shifts in all the air circulation systems that account for all observed regional climate changes such the northward and southward oscillation of the position of the Saharan Desert region over the adjoining regions.

  70. wkkruse (06:12:13) :

    Richard, RE anomalies. Dr Spencer says in the second paragraph above that “‘Anomalies’ are departures from the average seasonal cycles in those parameters, which will be recomputed as each new month of data is added.”

    What Dr Spencer has said there seems pretty clear to me. For example, for the temperature graph, if the data starts from June 2002 through to August 2009. Thats 87 months. You take the absolute global temperatures for each month add them up and divide by the number of months 87. You get the average for those months. Let us assume that comes to 17C. Then the anomalies for each of those 87 months will be the difference from 17C.

    Now let us assume that the sept sea temp comes to 16.7. A new average will be computed for 88 months after adding 16.7 to the total, which would be slightly less than 17.

    I agree with you, if I get you correctly, that I would be happier if one average were stuck to and that this average were not changed for subsequent graphs. Like Hadley uses the 1961-90 average to compute anomalies for Global temperatures.

    Perhaps Dr Spencer might like to tell us if he will recompute the anomalies as I understand it and why this would be better than keeping one standard average?

  71. “lgl (03:29:45) :

    Stephen,

    Do you deny that there is more energy in the oceans than in the air ?

    No, but ‘all’ the energy is in the Sun, and the thing with the atmosphere is not it’s heat content but it’s ability to emit LWR down to the surface.
    If there is 500 W received by the ocean and 499,5 W sent out again (yes it’s not the exact values) I don’t see why the tiny OHC increase is so interesting.”

    Reply:
    OHC is interesting because it is the product of an ever changing balancing act that drives all climate.

    The thing with the air is that it loses energy to space as fast as it receives it from sun and oceans.

    The downwelling long wave is an irrelevance because it cannot warm the oceans due to it’s inability to get past the layer of water involved in the evaporative process. There is no evidence that any amount of longwave can heat the oceans on a time scale at all relevant to humanity. Some AGW proponents have tried to get round that problem by proposing an ‘ocean skin’ effect but there is little evidence that it actually happens and after much investigation I judge that it should be ignored as unproved, speculative and highly unlikely.

  72. Stephen,
    The downwelling long wave is an irrelevance because it cannot warm the oceans due to it’s inability to get past the layer of water involved in the evaporative process
    Wrong, the ocean is well mixed several tens of meters down.

    There is no evidence that any amount of longwave can heat the oceans on a time scale at all relevant to humanity
    And I’m trying to say that OHC is not important. If the downwelling increases 5 W and the upwelling also increases 5 W the OHC is unchanged but the surface is warmer.

  73. lgl (11:20:16)

    What does the degree of mixing tens of metres down have to do with infra red longwave hitting the surface and being removed back to the air by increased evaporation ?

    “If the downwelling increases 5 W and the upwelling also increases 5 W the OHC is unchanged but the surface is warmer.”

    The topmost molecules might be warmer than they otherwise would have been for an instant before they are removed by evaporation. If anything, the water surface that remains should be cooler because the energy taken up as latent heat when the change of state from liquid to gas takes place is more than the energy required to provoke the change of state. I have dealt with that misapprehension of yours previously when others have displayed it. Overall, evaporation is a net cooling process so the faster the rate of evaporation the faster the general flow of energy from ocean to air to compensate for the net cooling effect of the surface evaporation.

  74. No I don’t go quite that far although it seems logical. More likely the evaporative process just takes the energy it needs from the most readily available source and so it is split between water and air in such a way as not to interrupt the ‘normal’ background flow of energy from sun to sea to air.

    All I need is for all or virtually all of any additional downwelling IR to be removed by faster evaporation so that the background energy flow from ocean to air is unaffected by changes in the air.

    No one has so far given me evidence that there is ANY net addition of energy to the water as a result of increased downwelling IR, AFTER accounting for the energy required by the extra evaporation.

    Can you do so ?

Comments are closed.