New atmospheric model says tail wags dog

From the AGU Highlights on Eurekalert, how to make models do what you want by removing important portions of the natural system:

Atmospheric dynamics, not ocean, could drive El Niño features

Scientists generally believe that ocean dynamics are the primary factor controlling El Niño sea surface temperature variability. However, new simulations show that atmospheric dynamics can account for many of the features of El Niño that were previously thought to be controlled by ocean dynamics. Dommenget uses a series of atmospheric model simulations coupled to a simple ocean model that contained no ocean dynamics.

He finds that El Niño–like variations in sea surface temperature were produced in the simulations. Although ocean dynamics are a factor influencing El Niño events, the study suggests that atmospheric dynamics may be more important than previously thought in controlling El Niño. The study could change scientists’ understanding of the mechanisms driving El Niño.

Title: The slab ocean El Niño

Author: Dietmar Dommenget: School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.

Source:
Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2010GL044888, 2010
http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010GL044888

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

Stay tuned for models that produce global heating without containing any earth-solar dynamics, like that pesky dirunal variation or seasons.

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70 thoughts on “New atmospheric model says tail wags dog

  1. El Nino/La Nina has a lot to do with trade winds, which can cover up or enhance the upwelling of cool waters.

    But atmospheric temperatures have been steady but high in the last decade, yet we’ve had some pretty strong La Ninas. So I doubt atmospheric temperature is the trigger.

  2. This goes to the heart of an unresolved aspect of my New Climate Model which seeks to integrate independent (or semi independent) variability in solar and oceanic effects.

    I am currently unsure of the relative strengths of the two influences.

    Initially I took the view that the oceanic cycles were the more powerful due to the density and heat carrying capacity of the oceans and that the top down solar effects were a relatively minor modulating factor.

    However, more recently I have seen how persistently the quiet sun has affected the polar oscillations with the jetstreams having shifted significantly equatorward since 2000.

    Furthermore I have noticed that both cloud amounts (thank you Bob Tisdale) and global albedo began to increase at about the same time.

    That has coincided with my finding that incoming solar protons have a substantial ozone depleting reaction in the mesosphere and then I came across the data recently produced by Joanna Haigh.

    So I’m now inclined to give greater weight to the solar effects operating via changes in global albedo as the jets shift latitudinally in response to variations in the level of solar activity.

    The value of such a slab ocean El Nino model is that it provides a starting point in ascertaining how important the albedo and other atmospheric changes might be in affecting the relative intensities of El Nino and La Nina under differing solar conditions.

    First, however, they are going to have to resolve that pesky issue of the correct sign for the solar effect on the temperatures of stratosphere and mesosphere otherwise their deliberations will be worthless and probably misleading.

  3. The greatest benefit of climate modelling is that no-one can prove you to be completely wrong.

    This particular study should therefore be classified as “art”

  4. Models & Bottles was a term coined at the top of the stock market boom period. I think it could be used today, for the Weather Wars… They can make the Models say anything… That hasn’t changed… at least back then, the models were a lot prettier, and you didn’t need the bottles to get past the math.

  5. So, so much effort to show global warming.

    Here’s my global simulation model, without any pesky real data at all to corrupt the purity of the model, no ocean dynamics, no atmosphere models to confuse things, no solar dynamics to get in the way of my awsome code. That make it a true representation, right, so I can get all sorts of government funding? At the very least I can make a movie and have the leaders of the world in awe at me, and more importantly tell you lot how you are going to live your lives.

    Anyway, here it goes. This is totally secret, ok, so don’t go claiming my work as your own. I wrote this on my ZX-81, incidentally. All my funding will first go towards a Cray.

    10 LET GLOBALTEMP=32
    20 FOR YEAR=2000 TO 2100
    30 PRINT “GLOBAL TEMPERATURE IN “+YEAR+” IS “+GLOBALTEMP
    40 LET GLOBALTEMP=GLOBALTEMP+.2
    50 NEXT YEAR
    60 PRINT “CATASTROPHIC GLOBAL WARMING HAS OCCURED!!”
    70 END

  6. I’m a modeler. What would you like the answer to be? I can get it for you. (The dirty little secret of modeling).

  7. Why wouldn’t such a study merely show that surface El-Nino-like phenomena can occur on an Earth-like planet with a global slab-like shallow static ocean? On a planet with a deep and dynamic ocean, why should one think that analogous surface phenomena necessarily arise from similar causal sequences?

    That is, the argument from a slab ocean to a dynamic ocean seems to make analogy into homology. That’s a logical non-sequitur, and it seems to me that far too much modern climatology is like that.

  8. @Neil says:
    November 2, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    The ZX81 does not have a END command, you should use STOP instead.

    And line 30 should read like this:
    30 PRINT AT 0;0;“GLOBAL TEMPERATURE IN “;YEAR;” IS “;GLOBALTEMP;” ”
    To avoid an type 5 Error (out of range)

  9. ENSO has always been considered a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon.

    Link to Dommenget (2010):
    http://users.monash.edu.au/~dietmard/papers/dommenget.slab.elnino.grl.pdf

    Dommenget makes the following clarification in the Conclusions and Discussions. He writes, “While the results indicate that atmospheric processes only could potentially explain aspects of the ENSO mode that is not to say that ocean processes and dynamics are not important. In fact observed ENSO events are strongly controlled by ocean dynamics [e.g. Jin, 1997 or Neelin et al., 1998]. Even more importantly ocean dynamics control to the largest part the mean state of the SST(eq. cold tongue), which is a key element of the SLAB–EL NINO ENSO mode that forces the unstable atmospheric mean state. The results rather suggest that the atmospheric processes seen in the SLAB–EL NINO simulations may play a more important role in controlling amplitude, timescale and dynamics of the El Niño events, than it has been shown so far.”

    Also, I did a quick check and found no mention of the other half of ENSO, the La Nina event. It’s as, if not more, important and is most times overlooked.

  10. How about: clouds and wind determine Sea Surface Temperature to a great extend?
    The sun heats the sea. Wind cools it down.
    Few clouds + weak wind ->high SST.
    Many clouds + strong wind -> low SST.

    Is it possible that wind patterns are influenced by the Sun’s magnetic field through its effect on the ionosphere? I mean, may that influence the trajectory of the jet stream?

    Intuitively it has never made sense to me that ocean currents would cause el Niño. Why would those currents change direction? An ocean current has enormous mass and inertia.

  11. apologies for a slightly off topic comment in advance..
    but an interesting but fairly wierd thought occurred to me on reading the comments…
    it concerned the term modelling..
    after the recent years of reading about this climate model and that climate model, and thinking ‘these models are only as good as the data, etc, etc’ – it just struck me that the term model (in the ‘other’ sense) usually refers to a scaled down version of a real life object. Now, having been a schoolboy modeller of such things as the Spitfire, F15 fighter and yes, the Saturn V rocket – I can honestly say that none of these so called scaled recreations really ‘cut-it’ when finished. The detailing was never fine enough, the edges always rough, and indeed, the painted finished always poor which in the end combined to produce something which never ‘looked right’? (Ok, I know some folk are fastidious and take great care! but how many models have you ever seen that gave you a sense of greatness or amazement as the ‘orginal’)
    The point being that no matter how good the modeller is – he can never recreate the detail and feeling of the original object – and, if we are talking about modelling a multiple produced object, e.g. a Spitfire, which detail do we use? – every one was completely, utterly and specifically unique – an almost living entity. How can a mere modeller (re)create such a thing?
    Is a climate model not the same? Is it possible to recreate such a complex variable set of parameters in such a way as to instil confidence in the finished result?
    It just struck me as strange that perhaps the term ‘model’ has been allowed to take on some higher ranking or status than that which it deserves? Perhaps some of these younger generation climate boys should try making some Airfix models and comparing them to real objects to get a taste for the possible limitations of models?

  12. “”””” can account for many of the features of El Niño “””””

    AKA;- “is consistent with” and other weasel words. And lemme guess most of that atmospheric cause happens in the Stratosphere where only noctilucent clouds exist ? Do I have that about right ?

  13. Here is an idea, Ban all models from Scientific journals in the Next 5 years, and rely solely on verifiable empirical data, starting tomorrow.

    Sceince would go forward in leaps and bounds, a number of academics would suddenly find themselves out of a job.

  14. Thank you Bob Tisdale for providing the FACTS.
    Indeed, there is little surprise here for those who have read Marcel Leroux “dynamic analysis of weather and climate” Springer/Praxis 2010…

  15. Theres a problem with the ZX81 v2 model – lay people might be able to understand it.. you need to write it in machine code and get poking.. never reveal the method..

  16. Robin Kool, the main ocean currents do not change directions. They may meander a bit within the outer edges of the prescribed path, but they don’t change directions. La Nina waters are the result of mixing from choppy wind-disturbed seas. El Nino waters are the result of a rather still ocean surface (IE no wind). The current sends these warmed, cooled, or neutral waters around the world in the same direction, regardless of their temperature.

  17. So where does all the ocean heat go?

    We know the atmosphere vents to the universe at night, something about why mights are cold I think.

    And greenhouses have solid roofs …

  18. Models and simulations can be interesting, even useful, but they don’t “show” anything other than the modeler’s intent.

  19. Ok, it was published in GRL…..I’d be curious to know who funded it, and who the reviewers were.

    If it’s true, then great. Another piece of the puzzle solved. It’ll stand up to those pesky sceptics’ wanting to prove it false with empirical science….

  20. Yes, if you remove dominant drivers you will find that other subordinate drivers control outcomes. This means little unless the dominant drivers don’t really exist. Somebody needs to take these peoples’ computers away and force them to get up from their desks.

  21. I haven’t read the words yet, so I am open to ridicule… but …

    …let’s consider the thermal mass of the atmosphere versus that of the oceans.

    BTW I have simulations to prove that anything you want is achievable … just cross my palm with silver.

  22. I have written a computer simulation that proves that if I do not recieve 1 million dollars in grant funding, the world will end.

    Dr. Evil.

  23. The ENSO is clearly an integrated phenomenon made-up of sub-surface temperatures, subsurface ocean circulation patterns, surface ocean circulation patterns, trade winds, the Walker upper atmosphere circulation pattern, atmospheric pressure differentials, atmospheric angular momentum, the rotation of the Earth, the seasonal change in the tilt of the Earth, cloud frequency, cloud location, tropical convection, solar energy entering, long-wave radiation leaving and just as importantly, the geographic alignment of continents and continental shelves.

    That is alot of big features cooperating together in the biggest weather phenomenon on the planet that is both self-reinforcing up to a certain point and then becomes self-limiting.

    The subsurface ocean circulation patterns and the relative temperatures in that circulation at any one time are probably the initial driver which causes the other factors to reinforce it in my opinion.

    The subsurface temperatures lead the trade winds for example (and all the other factors as well).

  24. Stephen Wilde says: “This goes to the heart of an unresolved aspect of my New Climate Model which seeks to integrate independent (or semi independent) variability in solar and oceanic effects…more recently I have seen how persistently the quiet sun has affected the polar oscillations with the jetstreams having shifted significantly equatorward since 2000…That has coincided with my finding that incoming solar protons have a substantial ozone depleting reaction in the mesosphere…”

    What bothers me is the perennial statement that El Niño is caused by the trade winds slackening. Why do the trade winds slacken? Nobody here seems to have an answer for that. I suspect it’s related to simultaneous decrease in atmospheric humidity and build-up of viscosity of the cold water in the eastern Pacific, but that’s out of my field.

    And regarding protons and whatnot, the greatest change associated with the solar cycle is the height, density, and temperature of the ionosphere. Is the ionosphere acting similar to a vacuum tube grid, where small voltage changes result in amplified electron flow? Yes, the ionosphere is very tenuous, but I think this would still be worth some study.

  25. “…He finds that El Niño–like variations in sea surface temperature were produced in the simulations. Although ocean dynamics are a factor influencing El Niño events, the study suggests that atmospheric dynamics may be more important than previously thought in controlling El Niño. The study could change scientists’ understanding of the mechanisms driving El Niño.”

    Then again removing ocean dynamics will mean the model is nothing like our complex, non-linear, close coupled climate system. Any conclusions made are certain to be just speculation and thus worthless.

    This paper is yet another good example of the cargo cult climate science which favours virtual reality over observation of the real world. It is perhaps no surprise that fewer and fewer people believe this tripe

  26. My thanks too to Bob T. Before ENSO was called ENSO, it was the Southern Oscillation, and measured by the Southern Oscillation Index. Which was … the difference in barometric pressure between Darwin and Tahiti.

    It has always been seen as a coupled plehomenon.

  27. The late Marcel Leroux had for years claimed atmospheric circulation is what creates the Nino/Nina events, referring to them as a covariance. He was known to use direct observation of phenomena not modeling. I highly recommend his book, Dynamic Analysis Of Weather And Climate, it is the best observational explanation I have come across which makes geostationary satellite imaging all the more comprehensive.

  28. @Robert,


    The ZX81 does not have a END command, you should use STOP instead.

    And line 30 should read like this:
    30 PRINT AT 0;0;“GLOBAL TEMPERATURE IN “;YEAR;” IS “;GLOBALTEMP;” ”
    To avoid an type 5 Error (out of range)

    I had forgotton that.

    And you’re correct; I needed the Print At. Maybe that’s why the simulation ended with an error in 2012. And I thought this was proodf that the Mayans were correct.

    Damn you for breaking my model with logic!

  29. When the politicians get their sums wrong and screw the economy, they print more money to make it all right again.

    When the ‘climate scientists’ screw the weather up by getting the planetary energy budget wrong, what will they print the extra energy on?

    john r

    ps Anthony. The best news that I’ve heard in this last week or so is that your family medical problem appears to have been sorted out with a good prognosis. May your wife’s recovery be as speedy and painless as possible.

  30. Bill Illis says:
    November 2, 2010 at 5:20 pm
    The ENSO is clearly an integrated phenomenon made-up of sub-surface temperatures, subsurface ocean circulation patterns, surface ocean circulation patterns, trade winds, the Walker upper atmosphere circulation pattern, atmospheric pressure differentials, atmospheric angular momentum, the rotation of the Earth, the seasonal change in the tilt of the Earth, cloud frequency, cloud location, tropical convection, solar energy entering, long-wave radiation leaving and just as importantly, the geographic alignment of continents and continental shelves.

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

    Yeah, yeah, all of that, Bill, but what about that main driver, CO2?

    sarc/off

    Chris

  31. savethesharks says:
    November 2, 2010 at 6:17 pm
    Bill Illis says:
    November 2, 2010 at 5:20 pm
    The ENSO is clearly an integrated phenomenon …. ===============================

    Yeah, yeah, all of that, Bill, but what about that main driver, CO2?

    sarc/off
    ——————–

    Well, the ENSO shows no trend at all going back as far as any reconstructions go. If CO2 is increasing and the ENSO or Pacific equatorial temperatures is flat, then that should tell us something very important (especially considering that the ENSO is by far the biggest weather phenomenon on the planet).

  32. I love these sorts of studies.

    Researcher; we removed a whole bunch of variables from our model and can now isolate This and show that it is well correlated with That. Since This always follows That, it is clear that there is a possibility for more research to understand how This is caused by That. Send money.

    Dipstick; Cool. Hey, what if they have nothing to do with each other? I mean like what if This and That are both caused by Another Thing? Then they’d be correlated with each other but the cause would be Another Thing. Hey, it could be even more complicated than that. What if Another Thing doesn’t actually exist as a Thing, but as any one of 5 combinations of Stuff, you know, Stuff, like those variables you were talking about, maybe there’s 5 different combinations of Stuff that can each cause This and That.

    Researcher; You clearly don’t understand science, so shut up and send the money.

    Dipstick; You clearly don’t understand money, so shut up and go find some science to show me.

    Researcher; You are just a dipstick.

    Dipstick; Yes I am. You can even model me. Start by drawing me with my hands in my pockets firmly clenched around my wallet and billfold.

    Researcher; You were a lot easier to deal with a couple of years ago.

    Dipstick; Yeah, well that was before I read your emails and found out that you made This up, invented That, hid Another Thing, tricked me into believing some Stuff, presented Other Stuff like it was part of Stuff but wasn’t, and now it turns out you can’t find the data you used to calculate Stuff, but there’s tons of data that you Trashed that adds up to Something Else, not Stuff. That’s when I figured out what a dipstick I’ve been.

    Researcher; So no money?

    Dipstick; Oh lotsa money. Congressional hearings are very expensive.

  33. Bill Illis says:
    November 2, 2010 at 6:46 pm

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

    I hope you understand that I was being tongue and cheek!

    I completely respect your posts and learn very much from them, and I could not agree more on your complex assessment, which I will repeat for effect in case some readers missed it:

    “Bill Illis says:
    November 2, 2010 at 5:20 pm
    The ENSO is clearly an integrated phenomenon made-up of sub-surface temperatures, subsurface ocean circulation patterns, surface ocean circulation patterns, trade winds, the Walker upper atmosphere circulation pattern, atmospheric pressure differentials, atmospheric angular momentum, the rotation of the Earth, the seasonal change in the tilt of the Earth, cloud frequency, cloud location, tropical convection, solar energy entering, long-wave radiation leaving and just as importantly, the geographic alignment of continents and continental shelves.”

  34. davidmhoffer says:
    November 2, 2010 at 7:21 pm

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

    Hysterical. And brilliantly put. Did you create this? If so, well done.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  35. Pamela Gray says:
    November 2, 2010 at 4:18 pm
    Robin Kool, the main ocean currents do not change directions. They may meander a bit within the outer edges of the prescribed path, but they don’t change directions. La Nina waters are the result of mixing from choppy wind-disturbed seas. El Nino waters are the result of a rather still ocean surface (IE no wind). The current sends these warmed, cooled, or neutral waters around the world in the same direction, regardless of their temperature.
    ==========================================================
    Exactly. So what are the ‘ocean dynamics’ mentioned in the article?:
    “Scientists generally believe that ocean dynamics are the primary factor controlling El Niño sea surface temperature variability.”

  36. GIGO once again. Thank you America for your vote, please keep the presssure on congress for speedy and well directed hearings. I wait to see Mr Mann take the 5th in defence of his methodology.

  37. Twiggy and to answer to Nik Stokes, Leroux explains why the SO index “the difference in barometric pressure between Darwin and Tahiti.” means nothing when replaced in the real atmospheric circulation context. But old outdated concepts are long lived…

  38. Keith says:
    November 2, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Using LDI or LDIR? :)

    BTW: one of the more often used effect in Demo’s is flames, now this poses a problem on computers like the ZX81 and ZX Spectrum wich runs at only 3.25 and 3.75 Mhz clockspeed (yes, thats three point two five). How do you go around this, by lowering the resolution to achieve a realtime effect that might look like the real thing.

    And for a Demo that is fine because it is nothing more than a show-off and you greet the other (stupid) demo coders.

    Come to think of it, climatologists with their computer-models are bit like demo coders, being it that demo coders usually work with shoestring budget and don’t require addidional funding and that their work is not being taken seriously outside their own circles and the game-industry.

  39. savethesharks says:
    November 2, 2010 at 7:36 pm
    davidmhoffer says:
    November 2, 2010 at 7:21 pm
    ==========================
    Hysterical. And brilliantly put. Did you create this? If so, well done.>>

    Tx. Yes I created it. Errr… wrote it. I sometimes post other people’s words in regard to serious issues and attempt to give proper attribution when I do. But when it comes to humour, its my own.

  40. Anastasia Marakieva has shown the winds are controlled by precipitation.
    Precipitation is controlled by humidity levels.
    Humidity levels are controlled by…

    The Sun?

  41. I’m flabbergasted that something like this passes for science… How do you even explain the results of your modelling in such a way that a group of scientists who peer review it can even slightly be justified in accepting that as a scientific paper.

    It used to be that Climatologists were working harder and harder to make models that performed closer and closer to real life scenarios. Now they don’t even make an effort, they create a half-cocked system with partial or fictitious settings to create answers that bear no resemblence to reality.

    Not that I’m arguing that atmospheric components aren’t important to determining ENSO… but how can this study prove anything about ANYTHING?

  42. By the way, who else is waiting for a research study to be based on the effects of increased hurricane frequency caused by CAGW on the population of SimCity?

  43. @ Kev-in-the-UK; very similar to my thoughts. I was never very good at model-making, a major pre-occupation in my peer group when I was in my early teens – cack-handed was not an adequate description for my manual skills then, but some outstanding model-makers among us actually didn’t understand the first principles of whatever we were making models of. They were very gifted in some ways but quite lacking in critical thought in others, which seems pretty much like many current climate modellers.
    Only 3% of my generation went on to university, but I have never found any evidence that we were collectively any less intelligent than the current generation of new grads, who saw around 30% of their peers enter university. My point is that subjects seem to have expanded in response to pressure of numbers desiring the commodity of a university education, probably giving us a surplus of university departments dedicated to fluff such as ‘Meeja Studies’ and ‘Environmental Studies’. I am not in awe of such progress, which is little more than expansion to satisfy a market. My generation may not all have a university education but we are frequently castigated by warming enthusiasts for not having the expertise to ‘know’ what they know. But our thought processes, tempered by a few decades of dealing with the real world, are quite good at detecting flaws in theories such as a general lack of evidence.

  44. David Spurgeon says:
    November 2, 2010 at 5:56 pm
    A model is very often a poor representation of the real thing?

    Strictly speaking, any attempt to describe reality is a model, not the real thing. You get into trouble when you forget that “The map is not the territory” (Alfred Korzybski).

    /Mr Lynn

  45. davidmhoffer says: “Dipstick; Yes I am. You can even model me. Start by drawing me with my hands in my pockets firmly clenched around my wallet and billfold.”

    LOL!! Best laugh I’ve had today!

  46. Robert of Ottawa says: November 2, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    …let’s consider the thermal mass of the atmosphere versus that of the oceans.

    My thoughts exactly…

  47. davidmhoffer: enjoyed the Dipstick/Researcher dialogue, can see it as a comedy skit with on going similarly enlightening interviews:D

  48. I have never quite grasped how it all works anyway. The records show first it gets warmer, then the CO2 goes up. But somehow the CO2 causes the warming.

    So I’m not surprised they don’t need the oceans to model the climate. It’s all so little understood, it would probably just muddle things up anyway.

  49. By using a model that incorporates an a priori flaw that Dommenget knows is there, his exercise becomes meaningless with respect to climatology. It becomes meaningful only in the universe of chaotic models. Unfortunately he fails to explore the consequences of variations of other factors for comparison, so he leaves himself ignorant of the abstract mathematical implications of his exercise in Numerical Analysis.
    As a student in the 60’s I learned (the hard way) that one can take N data pairs from an known exact function, round them off to the same number of significant digits (‘modelling’ empirical data), and calculate polynomial regression models of orders 0 through N-1.
    Inevitably one finds that improving the sophistication of the regression model beyond a certain point actually introduces error as the model attempts to accommodate the round-off error artificially introduced in step 1.
    Bottom line: the regression model cannot exceed in quality the data against which it is tested.
    Corrolary: Extrapolation to points outside the range within which the model is ‘fitted’ invites hyperbolic growth of errors.

  50. Jason, Beth, Savethesharks et al who enjoyed the Researcher and the Dipstick, I gave up trying to debate science with the hardcore warmists some time ago because they just flail the arms, make silly claims and then go all arrogant when you show them to be wrong, though it doesn’t change their minds. But they can’t rebutt cutting sarcasm. You might also enjoy Global Warming Settled by Poker (though you need to know the names of the leading warmists and what they do to understand the dialogue), the Climatologist and the Physicist, and the Oil Tycoons and the Climatologist.

    http://knowledgedrift.wordpress.com/climate-humour-page-the-climatologist-and-follow-the-money-series/global-warming-settled-by-poker/

    http://knowledgedrift.wordpress.com/climate-humour-page-the-climatologist-and-follow-the-money-series/the-physicist-and-the-climatologist-follow-the-money/

    http://knowledgedrift.wordpress.com/climate-humour-page-the-climatologist-and-follow-the-money-series/the-oil-tycoons-and-the-climatologist-follow-the-money/

  51. Why do so many people criticise models simply for not reflecting nature accurately enough? Models have other functions too, e.g. education and entertainment. A good example that is very relevant to this blog is “Fate of the World,” a new computer game that was launched earlier this week.

    Climate change challenge for computer gamers
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/oct/31/climate-change-computer-game

    According to the Guardian, the game puts “players at the helm of a future World Trade Organisation-style environmental body with a task of saving the world by cutting carbon emissions or damning it by letting soaring temperatures wreak havoc through floods, droughts and fires.” It “features data from real-world climate models, anecdotes from the polar explorer Pen Hadow and input from a team of scientists and economists in the US and UK” and has been “welcomed by climate campaigners as a way of reaching new audiences.”

    One of the comments posted at the Guardian website points out that the article did not mention that the game allows you to try and save the world by developing new viruses that wipe out a large proportion of the human population. However that point is considered in a review at a computer gaming website which points out that, in real life, killing (or “culling” as some Greenies may prefer to call it) lots of people might possibly create other problems.

    Set The World On Fire: Fate Of The World
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/05/07/set-the-world-on-fire-fate-of-the-world/

    Perhaps we should all hope that the game suceeds beyond the wildest expectations of its creators. Then they will make so much money that they can pay for their models themselves instead of depending on taxpayers!

  52. Kev-in-UK says:
    November 2, 2010 at 4:02 pm
    apologies for a slightly off topic comment in advance..
    but an interesting but fairly wierd thought occurred to me on reading the comments…
    it concerned the term modelling..
    after the recent years of reading about this climate model and that climate model, and thinking ‘these models are only as good as the data, etc, etc’ – it just struck me that the term model (in the ‘other’ sense) usually refers to a scaled down version of a real life object. …

    I have had a similar thought as yours. However my thinking is that as a fellow model builder I strived as best I could for accuracy in my model. You can go so far as to make a working model like a model airplane that replicates all the major functions and a few of the minor ones. In those cases the models were delicate things which must not be handled roughly or they would break and be useless.

    On the other hand, as a youngster I also had toys. Toys were also scaled down replicas but they were built to be stronger and less likely to break. As a result usually only a couple of the major functions worked and rarely did any of the minor functions work.

    In other words…
    A person who builds something to accurately relect reality under defined conditions to the best of their ability = making Models
    A person who cludges things together just see what happens to it in unrealistic situations = playing with toys

    So to me this paper did not use climate “models,” it used climate toys.

  53. This post is titled: “New atmospheric model says tail wags dog”

    Somehow it’s quite ironic since meteorologists bias is to believe the 15km high jet stream controls the weather patterns in the lower denser layers…
    (half of the atmosphere is located within the first 5500m i.e. pressure above this level falls below 500hPa, or half the sea level pressure, one can wonder about this tail wagging tale and how it does not seem to bother most meteorologists…)

  54. How can the atmosphere at 100,000 feet transfer heat to the surface. It can’t. Tell me where I am wrong.

  55. Steve Keohane says:
    November 3, 2010 at 7:50 am
    Robert of Ottawa says: November 2, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    “…let’s consider the thermal mass of the atmosphere versus that of the oceans.

    My thoughts exactly…”

    Lwt us also consider the residence time of the entire spectrem of TSI which reaches the oceans.

  56. There are a few misapprehensions in this thread.

    It is clear that energy cannot be transmitted downward in NET terms. The energy flux (other than from solar input) is forever upward from warm surface to cold space.

    It is also clear that the oceans are so dense with such a huge heat capacity that nothing that happens in the air alone is going to have much effect on the equilibrium of the system. ALL the energy in the oceans apart from some geothermal comes from the solar shortwave input that gets past the evaporating layer at the top. What happens to that incoming energy then is down to internal ocean behaviour and not events in the air.

    However that is not the whole story because anything that has to come in has to go out again and so the energy flux from surface to space comes into play and that involves the atmosphere (though the oceans determine the amount of energy that the atmosphere needs to ‘process’ at any given moment).

    What the atmosphere does do is vary the rate of upward energy flux differentially at different levels so as to alter the air pressure distribution within the troposphere and it is the variations in that distribution of pressure latitudinally (because the Earth is spinning) around the globe that changes regional climates.

    From observations we see that when the sun is more active the thermosphere and troposphere both warm up yet the stratosphere and mesosphere both cool down. That alters the upward temperature profile thereby changing the heights of both tropopause and mesopause where there are temperature inversions.

    It is the changing of those heights that alters the pressure distribution in the troposphere for a change in climate.

    Heretofore it has been assumed that a more active sun warms the entire atmosphere and that the observed cooling of stratosphere and mesosphere was human induced through CO2 and CFC emissions and therefore unnatural.

    I have pointed out elsewhere why that cannot be correct. The process is entirely natural because the jetstream shifts that we have observed as the sun became first more active and then less active within our lifetimes also occurred in the Mediaeval Warm Period and Roman Warm Period. At those times the jets moved poleward just as they did during the late 20th Century.

    The reason is down to ozone reactions in the upper atmosphere.

    More incoming uv does increase ozone and cause warming in the stratosphere but only below 45Km as Joanna Haigh has recently shown.

    Above 45 Km the primary process is ozone destruction from more incoming solar protons and thus cooling of the mesosphere. That cooling of the mesosphere by increasing the downward temperature gradient as one goes upward then induces an increased energy flux out of the stratosphere which then also cools despite the warming effect of more uv at the lower levels.

    It is the change in the temperature of the stratosphere that changes the height of the tropopause by increasing the temperature differential between surface and stratosphere so that the pressure distribution in the troposphere then changes for regional climate shifts.

    The reverse process occurs when the sun is less active as now.

    Now if anyone can fault the logic or the observations please say so now since I hate wasting my time.

  57. I should explain more about the function of the stratopause which does not show a temperature inversion so it is fundamentally different to the tropopause and mesopause.

    Instead it is simply an area of transition between the warming effect of uv on stratospheric ozone and the cooling effect of solar protons on mesospheric ozone. The temperature therefore rises up through the stratosphere but falls away again up through the mesopause.

    The position of the stratopause therefore depends primarily on the balance between the uv effects below and the solar proton effects above. Thus it’s height will be sensitive to changes in the mix of solar wavelengths and solar proton numbers coming in from the sun at any given time. According to Joanna Haigh it was around 45Km in 2007 with the then prevailing level of solar activity.

    I say primarily but the position of the stratopause also sensitive to ocean behaviour below because if the oceans vary the rate of energy release to the air then the speed of the hydrological cycle changes and the rate of energy transfer to the stratosphere also changes thus adding to or subtracting from the stratospheric uv effects with an inevitable effect on the point of balance between the stratosphere and mesosphere.

    Thus the top down solar effect operates via the mesosphere by altering solar proton input and the ozone levels in the mesosphere.

    The bottom up oceanic effect additionally modulates the outcome of the primary uv solar effects in the stratosphere.

    The stratopause is therefore a sort of fulcrum upon which the entire energy budget of the planet is balanced and movements of that fulcrum (solar and ocean induced) by affecting tropospheric pressure distribution are the sole direct determinant of all observed climate shifts.

  58. Stephen Wilde says:
    November 4, 2010 at 2:03 am

    Steven, as these swings occur what is the effect on cloud formation, both type of cloud and latitude, and the TSI spectrum which reaches the surface?

  59. David:

    Clouds – Cloud quantities (I don’t think types have much effect) appear to increase as the jets sink equatorward and decrease as the jets shift poleward. Albedo follows having declined when the Earth was warming and now increasing again with the jets more equatorward now and Earth now presumably experiencing an underlying cooling from reduced input to the oceans despite the temporarily warm troposphere.

    Spectrum – More solar shortwave is generated when the sun is more active amplified at the surface by the simultaneous poleward shift in the jets which effectively draws back the blinds (of cloudiness) over the lower latitudes so that more of the increased shortwave gets into the water probably strengthening El Ninos and weakening La Ninas.

  60. Re Neil and Robert comments:

    Brand new Sinclair (Timex) ZX81 kits are still available.
    From here which goes to here, £199.99.
    From here, $200 plus shipping.

    Go ahead, buy one. Do It For (climate) Science!

    Christmas is coming up, these would make great gifts for grandkids and great-grandkids. It’s always fun to make the young ones marvel at how their ancient ancestors managed to survive such primitive times. ☺

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