Study says SST convection threshold rising

From the University of Hawaii at Manoa, more of the “more heat = more hurricanes” meme.

Threshold sea surface temperature for hurricanes and tropical thunderstorms is rising

IMAGE: The average tropical sea surface temperature (black) and an estimate of the sea surface temperature threshold for convection (blue) have risen in tandem over the past 30 years.

Scientists have long known that atmospheric convection in the form of hurricanes and tropical ocean thunderstorms tends to occur when sea surface temperature rises above a threshold. The critical question is, how do rising ocean temperatures with global warming affect this threshold? If the threshold does not rise, it could mean more frequent hurricanes.

According to a new study by researchers at the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) of the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM), this threshold sea surface temperature for convection is rising under global warming at the same rate as that of the tropical oceans. Their paper appears in the Advance Online Publications of Nature Geoscience.

In order to detect the annual changes in the threshold sea surface temperature, Nat Johnson, a postdoctoral fellow at IPRC, and Shang-Ping Xie, a professor of meteorology at IPRC and UHM, analyzed satellite estimates of tropical ocean rainfall spanning 30 years. They find that changes in the threshold temperature for convection closely follow the changes in average tropical sea surface temperature, which have both been rising approximately 0.1°C per decade.

“The correspondence between the two time series is rather remarkable,” says lead author Johnson. “The convective threshold and average sea surface temperatures are so closely linked because of their relation with temperatures in the atmosphere extending several miles above the surface.”

The change in tropical upper atmospheric temperatures has been a controversial topic in recent years because of discrepancies between reported temperature trends from instruments and the expected trends under global warming according to global climate models. The measurements from instruments have shown less warming than expected in the upper atmosphere. The findings of Johnson and Xie, however, provide strong support that the tropical atmosphere is warming at a rate that is consistent with climate model simulations.

“This study is an exciting example of how applying our knowledge of physical processes in the tropical atmosphere can give us important information when direct measurements may have failed us,” Johnson notes.

Caption: Tropical ocean thunderstorms tend to occur above a threshold sea surface temperature.

Credit: Image courtesy NASA Image Science & Analysis Laboratory

The study notes further that global climate models project that the sea surface temperature threshold for convection will continue to rise in tandem with the tropical average sea surface temperature. If true, hurricanes and other forms of tropical convection will require warmer ocean surfaces for initiation over the next century.

###

This work was supported by grants from NOAA, NSF, NASA, and JAMSTEC.

Captions: Figure 1. Tropical ocean thunderstorms tend to occur above a threshold sea surface temperature. Image courtesy NASA Image Science & Analysis Laboratory

Figure 2. The average tropical sea surface temperature (black) and an estimate of the sea surface temperature threshold for convection (blue) have risen in tandem over the past 30 years.

Citation: N.C. Johnson and S.-P. Xie, 2010: Changes in the sea surface temperature threshold for tropical convection. Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo1004.

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89 thoughts on “Study says SST convection threshold rising

  1. Strange. There was a low pressure cell off the west coast of Ireland Sunday November 7th with winds over 100mph. Nobody claimed it as a hurricane. It exceeded the Haiti storm which was classified as Cat1. Go figure.

  2. “This study is an exciting example of how applying our knowledge of physical processes in the tropical atmosphere can give us important information when direct measurements may have failed us,” Johnson notes.

    Yes, that is a persistent thorn for AGW: the ‘failure’ of direct measurements.

  3. Even basic “Noddy” science tells us that the key to heat engines like cyclones is the DIFFERENCE in temperature between the hot heat source and cold heat sink. The heat source may be the ocean, but the cold heat sink (where the heat goes to) is clearly up in the atmosphere where CO2 acts as an IR emitter!

    … Although if you were to believe the idiots who write about global warming, the effect of CO2 is always to increase temperature so the heat difference will be less!

  4. The obvious question being. “Then why are we at a 30 year low for tropical storm activity”?
    “The measurements from instruments have shown less warming than expected in the upper atmosphere. The findings of Johnson and Xie, however, provide strong support that the tropical atmosphere is warming at a rate that is consistent with climate model simulations”
    Another “The theory must be right, so the real measurements are wrong”?

  5. The way I read this is that it is guaranteed that there will be less severe weather such as hurricanes or typhoons over the coming many years. If the threshold would not have risen as the ocean warmed it’s tiny bit over the last few decades we would have more severe weather. Am I reading what they conclude correctly?

  6. “They find that changes in the threshold temperature for convection closely follow the changes in average tropical sea surface temperature, which have both been rising approximately 0.1°C per decade.”

    Sea levels have started to fall again http://sealevel.colorado.edu/current/sl_noib_global.jpg and where is the most recent Argos ocean temperature information as questioned by Dr David Evans? As he points out, if the information showed warming it would be splashed all over the world with dire warning of impending disaster.

  7. Only in Climate Science can direct measurements fail rather than the hypothesis. Nat Johnson says they may have failed, yet it seems nobody does much thought on the consequences if the direct measurements are correct (well other than the missing heat is out there somewhere).

  8. If the temperature required for convection to start is rising then that means that it is becoming MORE difficult to get convection going not LESS difficult, surely?

    The rise in the threshold is PREVENTING what would otherwise have been a stronger convective response from the warmer SSTs so it must imply that things will stay much the same.

  9. another distraction away from the fact that global sea temperatures are dropping. these bozos will try anything to keep their research funds going.

  10. The line trend shows an increase of only about 0.3 C over nearly 30 yrs. period. For both the actual temp and threshold temp. What’s so scary about that? And where’s the graph of actual rise in number of thunderstorms and related events?

  11. “This study is an exciting example of how applying our fantasies about physical processes in the tropical atmosphere can give us important propaganda when direct measurements may have failed to provide us with the politically correct answer”

    There, fixed.

  12. To me, it is all quite simple:
    1. The sun warms the ocean.
    2. The ocean warms the atmosphere.
    3. Ergo, over time the two march pretty much in parallel.
    4. This has almost nothing to do with hurricanes.

    Now see what they say:

    The change in tropical upper atmospheric temperatures has been a controversial topic in recent years because of discrepancies between reported temperature trends from instruments and the expected trends under global warming according to global climate models. The measurements from instruments have shown less warming than expected in the upper atmosphere. The findings of Johnson and Xie, however, provide strong support that the tropical atmosphere is warming at a rate that is consistent with climate model simulations.
    “This study is an exciting example of how applying our knowledge of physical processes in the tropical atmosphere can give us important information when direct measurements may have failed us,”
    “. Well,
    (a) the lack of tropical troposphere warming was because AGW was overestimated in the climate models.
    (b) now they say they have at last found the tropical troposphere warming. Um, take a look at IPCC report AR4 fig 9.1. They are overlooking something quite significant : the ocean surface was supposed to warm less. Their findings show it doesn’t. So the IPCC report is still wrong.

    That means that “applying our knowledge of physical processes in the tropical atmosphere can give us important information when direct measurements may have failed us” should have read “direct measurements show that we do not understand the physical processes in the tropical atmosphere“.

    Reminds me of “But we’ll keep on repeating the experiment until we get the right result.” (http://www.desy.de/user/projects/Physics/General/hot_water.html).

  13. My main problem with this paper as presented here is statistics. The figure shows a global sea surface temperature, which has the temporal structure of the anomaly. But the real temperature additionaly has an annual cycle. Anybody may generate this curve from http://climexp.knmi.nl/selectfield_obs2.cgi?someone@somewhere
    It is however the real sea surface temperature of a certain tropical sector for which a ‘convection threshold’ may be derived from the occurence of hurricanes or typhoons (cyclones) in that area at that time.
    As the total number of cyclones is of order 20 – 40 per year, the number of a certain area like the Caribbean is of order 10. The statistical scatter of numbers of order 10 is 1/sqrt(10). In other words, the statistical scatter is of order 30 %. The statistical error may drop to approx. 15%, when the full number of cyclones is used in a global summation.
    In conclusion I suspect that their main result, the increase of SST thesholds for cyclones in parallel to global SST increases, is statistically meaningless.

  14. Mike Haseler said;

    “Even basic “Noddy” science tells us that the key to heat engines like cyclones is the DIFFERENCE in temperature between the hot heat source and cold heat sink. The heat source may be the ocean, but the cold heat sink (where the heat goes to) is clearly up in the atmosphere where CO2 acts as an IR emitter! ”

    Absolutely right, which is presumably why we get the fiercest authenticated storms during the Little Ice Age. This was a period of often savage winters and hot summers but sometimes warm winters and cool summers (our two warmest winters in CET ocurred during the LIA)

    Hubert Lamb wrote about this at great length in ‘Historic storms of the North sea Britsh isles and Northwest Europe.’

    Perhaps we can start a fund in order to purchase some of Lambs books to send to climate scientists who completely miss out on the historic context? It would make a nice Christmas present. Donations welcome… :)

    tonyb

  15. Just when you think you can’t do another 10 worst AGW papers along comes stuff like this; you couldn’t make it up; well, you know what I mean.

  16. “This study is an exciting example of how applying our knowledge of physical processes in the tropical atmosphere can give us important information when direct measurements may have failed us,” Johnson notes.

    If I understood it well, the models find the tropospheric hot spot while direct measurement do not.

  17. Is it possible for some clever dick to overlay on the top chart, the tropical storm frequency for the period shown.
    I’m merely a very interested spectator here, but it strikes me that an absence of correlated data concerning the main focus of “hurricanes and tropical storms” is somewhat evasive.

  18. “analyzed satellite estimates of tropical ocean rainfall spanning 30 years”. Ok, they’ve got me, how does a satellite estimate rainfall, I thought these things only took accurate measurements of something or other. Can it tell me what its estimate of the six numbers for the euro-lottery for this Friday & the Lotto for Saturday night are? I really really would like to know, yours truly, deluded of England! BTW am I guessing correctly that they used a “model” somewhere down the line? Oh & never ever trust direct measurements of anything, only the models can do the real work, they’re infallible as they rely upon representation/simulation/sophistication of reality!

  19. The study states…
    “In order to detect the annual changes in the threshold sea surface temperature, Nat Johnson, a postdoctoral fellow at IPRC, and Shang-Ping Xie, a professor of meteorology at IPRC and UHM, analyzed satellite estimates of tropical ocean rainfall spanning 30 years. ”

    Anaylizing changes in sea surface temperature by estimating tropical ocean rainfall does not quite appear correct. At any rate where is their chart showing average tropical ocean rainfall, or do they consider average tropical rainfall to be a proxy for both temperature and convection?

  20. The worst period for cyclones in the southern hemisphere around the Australian coastline in the past century was about 40 to 60 years ago. Why does this graph showing increased SST temperatures start at 1980, given reliable data from shipping records goes back to the 1900 period.?

  21. @cohenite

    “Yes, that is a persistent thorn for AGW: the ‘failure’ of direct measurements.”

    Really, beautifully put. This weeks prize for the most contextual information conveyed via inverted commas.

  22. Richard111 @12:57 am

    … There was a low pressure cell off the west coast of Ireland Sunday November 7th with winds over 100mph. Nobody claimed it as a hurricane …

    Were these 100 mph winds gusts or sustained? It matters because the Saffir-Simpson scale is not concerned with gusts.

    Category One Hurricane (Sustained winds 74-95 mph, 64-82 kt, or 119-153 km/hr).

    “Sustained winds is defined as:

    (peak 1-minute wind at the standard meteorological observation height of 10 m [33 ft] over unobstructed exposure)

    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/sshws.shtml

  23. How much of the current hyperbole in AGW coming from “scientists” is coming from the uber-exuberance of graduate students, post-docs, and the newly graduated? To be sure, there’ll be a faculty advisor tagging along on the paper, since its his $$ (well, not his, really) funding the study, but that’s just the business of science. I’m suspecting we’re seeing more social conditioning than actual science. Most of these kids haven’t passed enough water yet to get the big picture…

  24. Though this NASA funded study goes back further than 30 years it does actually show what has been OBSERVED.

    There has been no trend in global hurricane activity (1965–2008)
    “However, the global total number of storm days shows no trend and only an unexpected large amplitude fluctuation driven by El Niño-Southern Oscillation and PDO. The rising temperature of about 0.5°C in the tropics so far has not yet affected the global tropical storm days.

    Climate Control of the Global Tropical Storm Days (1965–2008), Wang, B., Y. Yang, Q.-H. Ding, H. Murakami, and F. Huang, Geophysical Research Letters, April 6, 2010 (Vol. 37, L07704”

    http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/2010/2010GL042487.shtml

    and here’s hurricane intensity.

    “using a homogeneous record, we were not able to corroborate the presence of upward trends in hurricane intensity over the past two decades in any basin other than the Atlantic,” and they say that “since the Atlantic basin accounts for less than 15% of global hurricane activity, this result poses a challenge to hypotheses that directly relate globally increasing tropical sea surface temperatures to increases in long-term mean global hurricane intensity.”

    Reference
    Kossin, J.P., Knapp, K.R., Vimont, D.J., Murnane, R.J. and Harper, B.A. 2007. A globally consistent reanalysis of hurricane variability and trends. Geophysical Research Letters 34: 10.1029/2006GL028836.
    http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/2007/2006GL028836.shtml

    On second thought forget observations and lets go back to may, might, could etc. 30 years of warming and 30 years of zilch. :o(

  25. Do these climate scientists teach their pet dogs to perform tricks like the they teach their models to perform tricks? Do their pet dogs have anthropomorphic names? Do they have pet dogs…or parrots?

  26. So if actual data doesn’t match expected results, go with the expected results and congratulate yourself.

    Uh-huh. Let’s see how the CFO of where I work likes that idea.

  27. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    So why did cyclone Tracey destroy Darwin in 1974 and nothing has happened since?

    Didn’t you get the memo? Cyclone Tracy didn’t happen. It was the same sort of problem that led people to believe in things such as the MWP and LIA. Don’t worry, though. The scientists have fixed everything up.

    One day, they’ll eliminate every piece of real data from the records…

  28. Another question, how does looking at 30 years of stellite records give rainfall totals?
    Convective precipitation falls over a certain area for a relatively short time, as convective clouds have limited horizontal extent. Just to know the percipitation for one day one would have to anaylize 24 hours of satelite information. Correct me if this is not a valid concern.

  29. I worked with a Behavioural Psychologist years ago who trained his pet house cat to ‘go’ in the toilet rather than use a sand tray, but he could not, no matter how long he worked with the cat or whatever reward system he used, the cat just would not attempt to flush the toilet. The reason… he suspected the cat had very quickly worked out it was physically way too light to actuate the mechanism, but could never prove it, as the cat refused to talk to him.
    Ain’t science wonderful!

  30. I’ll tell you a threshold that is not rising, and that’s the one for dissent on the “Open Mind” blog. In response to his article about likelihood of Arctic melt being due to AGW, I simply replied: “You don’t mention the Antarctic once, I wonder why?”.

    Of course it was rejected. Never mind, now far more people will read it on this blog. Thanks Anthony!

  31. The findings of Johnson and Xie, however, provide strong support that the tropical atmosphere is warming at a rate that is consistent with climate model simulations.
    Then….will they adjust Argo buoys to forcefully agree with their models?
    That curve stops at 2005…….hmmmm. Gotto read WUWT: Here they will know that there is something very interesting happening, not considered in their models.
    Try Weee instead, at least it will make you relax.

  32. graham g says: “The worst period for cyclones in the southern hemisphere around the Australian coastline in the past century was about 40 to 60 years ago. Why does this graph showing increased SST temperatures start at 1980, given reliable data from shipping records goes back to the 1900 period.?”

    Not in the Southern Hemisphere. The vast majority of Southern Hemisphere (and tropical Pacific) SST data prior to the satellite era (and the TAO buoy era for the tropical Pacific) is infilled data, a.k.a. make-believe data.

  33. Juraj V. says: “If I understood it well, the models find the tropospheric hot spot while direct measurement do not.”

    The tropospheric hotspot exists…whenever there is an El Nino event. Then, there’s a great big warm plume from the convection coming from the tropical Pacific.

  34. The models show amplified warming in the tropical troposphere, while these results suggest parallel rates of warming… that is, no amplification of surface warming; which is what skeptics have been saying all along. How this gets spun into a ‘confirmation’ of modeled amplification is far from clear from the press release, but ‘spun’ seems the operative word. But without spending a bunch of money to get the article, there is no way to know for sure what the authors really say.

    Press releases for journal articles that are only available behind pay-walls should be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 3 months in prison.

  35. How does a tornado or hurricane get it’s wind energy?
    Magic Wand?
    Have yet to see a tornado generated from the ground up.

  36. Wow, no error in their measurements and no uncertainty in their conclusions. They sound like the guys on TV hawking gold and stain removers.

  37. Did you notice that in the image description, the blue line is “an ESTIMATE of the sea surface temperature threshold for convection (blue)”. So because their ESTIMATE of a threshold temperature correlates with the SST, they can overlook measured data that contradicts their theory.

    Just how much “science” was involved in their “ESTIMATE“? OK, if they did use science it was a SWAG, otherwise it was just a WAG constructed to explain away real measurements.

    The fact remains that ACE is at 30 year lows in spite of the fact that CO2 continues to go up, up, and away! Too bad, so sad for the warmers that the mid-tropospheric temperatures have not gone up, up, and away in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon!

  38. Richard111 says:
    November 9, 2010 at 12:57 am

    Strange. There was a low pressure cell off the west coast of Ireland Sunday November 7th with winds over 100mph. Nobody claimed it as a hurricane. It exceeded the Haiti storm which was classified as Cat1. Go figure.

    Hmm, perhaps we need to run a post in honor of the first hurricane of each season that describes tropical storms and how they differ from extratropical storms.

    The most striking feature of a tropical storm is that the center is surprisingly clear, calm, and warm. This eye structure come from winds in the eyewall so strong the core can’t pull them in closer. Instead, convection in the eyewall releases “latent heat” as rain forms, and at the top of the storm some of the dried air sinks in the core and its temperature rises as it returns to sealevel.

    This sort of storm can’t be maintained outside of the tropics. Extratropical storms are fueled by the temperature differences of cold air to the north, and warm, moist air to the south. That’s forced over the cold air releasing rain and energy. While they may sport an “eye-like structure” briefly, the core of the storm is normally the same as the surrounding cold air.

    They also are a focal point for warm and cold fronts, reflecting the air masses involved, and have a wider wind field than hurricanes That’s one reason extratopical storms are not tracked as precisely as tropical storms. Tropical storms that move north almost always change to extratropical storms, and the US National Hurricane Center stops following them.

    So, even though you experienced hurricane force winds, you almost certainly had an extratropical storm and not a hurricane. On this side of the puddle, we have pet names for them, e.g. Nor’easters off the new England coast and the Witch of November around Lake Superior in the north central US. I hope to have a lot more to say about the latter tomorrow.

    Clearly your area needs a pet name for its storms. Guv’nor Blowhard perhaps? Flatrain (since the rain is nearly horizontal in 100 mph wind)? Royal Rain? I hope you can do better than those!

  39. “This study is an exciting example of how applying our knowledge of physical processes in the tropical atmosphere can give us important information when direct measurements may have failed us,” Johnson notes.

    So another example of how poor we measure our climate? OR, observation bias?

    “…Nat Johnson, a postdoctoral fellow at IPRC, and Shang-Ping Xie, a professor of meteorology at IPRC and UHM, analyzed satellite estimates of tropical ocean rainfall spanning 30 years.”

    Which ever way you look at it, the science isn’t good!

  40. Folks in the US think the world turns on Atlantic hurricanes that hit us, and it’s all about rising AGW SST and land surface temperature. Hogwash. It has to do with ENSO conditions. It isn’t that these events are less or more period, it’s that they switch places depending on ENSO conditions. What came out of NOAA used to highlight this well known phenomenon. http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/Landsea/lanina/

    These days, once they leave our shores, we tend to disregard their presence elsewhere on the planet and not a word is said about ENSO, a completely natural system that has been around for 1000’s of years.

  41. Funny that, if true, this means that warmer waters will not result in large increases in convective activity, since the level they need to reach has also risen…Which means that there will NOT be more tropical cyclone activity due to this specific effect.

    Seems like good news and I’m surprised it is actually getting attention since doom and gloom is much more popular…

  42. I notice that again (as has been done many times), only the 20 year period from 1978 to 1998 is shown, that shows an effect. Including data to present is misleading, as the last 12 years alone do not show any effect (i.e., they cherry picked and used the picked period to make a straight line fit). Prior data to at least the 1930’s would show a peak to about 1940, a down turn from the 1940’s to early 1970’s, an upturn mid 1970’s to late 1990’s, and then a long peak that is thought to then go down. This is typical mis-information and should be thrown out. They should be ashamed.

  43. By the way, it is not at ALL clear how they think that this relates to the upper tropospheric temps. Can someone explain this odd logic to me?

  44. Cutting out the outliers – 1985 and 1998, doesn’t the trend seem pretty much flat? It seems to using my very scientific “stare at the graph and try and work it out in your head” method.

  45. Protect the models! They are our only hope now. Protect the models even if it costs your sanity! Even if it means the abandonment of logic, reason, the scientific process and a reversal of cause and effect. We must protect the models or the Skeptics will win!

  46. Interesting post, from a what were they thinking kind of viewpoint. The phrasing of this line is interesting.
    This study is an exciting example of how applying our knowledge of physical processes in the tropical atmosphere can give us important information when direct measurements may have failed us,” Johnson notes.

    Now do they mean
    a) that they have not yet managed to create an experiment that will accurately measure what they are looking for?
    b) They have decided that they KNOW what the data will be when the find a way to accurately measure it.

    In case “a” if they have not managed to find a way to measure the data that forms a major part of their thesis why are thy publishing? Their conclusions have to be premature if not widely optimistic give what I read in the posting.
    In case”b” if they know what the data is they should have presented their proof, is it just me or is there a problem with estimating temperature levels from satellite data of tropical rainfall.
    Assuming they have an accurate algorithm for the rainfall vs temperature question, do they have complete satellite data coverage? I saw nothing regarding the methodology of their work and that to my mind ( or whats left of it anyway) is a matter of concern. Without that I am of the opinion the data is being created out of whole cloth, and before I get slagged for questioning the validity of the work, it is the authors job to make sure I have the answers to these questions, without the answers or at least something resembling a usable methodology the whole premise of the paper is suspect.

    Did we not have this conversation regarding tree rings… sometimes you really need to beat them about the head and shoulders to get their attention

  47. I don’t know what you guys are reading, I’m reading that the threshold for hurricane formation is increasing with increasing tropical temp, therefore the formation of hurricanes is becomming more DIFFICULT. This is consistent with the data that says ACE is decreasing. I’m not reading “more heat = more hurricanes”. If anything, I’m reading “more heat = less hurricanes” which is precisely the opposite of what AGW theory predicts….

  48. Andrew,

    “Can someone explain this odd logic to me?”

    Without reading the paper, it is difficult to say; I’m not going to pay $30 or so to read about research results taxpayers already funded..

  49. I hate summaries like this, you don’t get the detail you need to understand what was really done.

    For instance, what is this threshold temperature, where is its derivation? Sounds like a meaningless number until I see a derivation. I suppose I can assume it is an ocean surface temperature above which convection from rising evaporating water vapor can create a tropical storm/hurricane. If this is accurate, why wouldn’t it rise with ocean temperatures? There’s other studies that have demonstrated that even a fairly static area of any ocean transfers a lot of heat between the upper atmosphere and the ocean surface. In fact I remember Anthony posting a link to one noting that the reason clouds above open ocean form in those particular shapes (octagons?) was due to convection.

    So if a “static” (non stormy) ocean surface well ahead of any tropical storm has already partially smoothed/equalized the energy gradient between surface and troposphere, why wouldn’t the threshold temperature for hurricane generation follow in lock-step? Seems like it would go without saying to me, but then again, I’m not a deep-pocketed bachelor looking for a tax writeoff.

  50. Their knowledge is so complete they don’t need measurements.
    How does that go, you can’t explain anything until you put a number to it.
    And first you make sure your numbers are correct. If your measuring you make sure your measurements are correct.
    I could be wrong.
    You could get your numbers from your knowledge.

  51. stevengoddard says:
    November 9, 2010 at 5:47 am

    Yes, you are one of us that understands physics of mixing. ITGS! (It’s the gradient, stupid). Temperature flows from high temp. to low temp.—winds flow from high pressure to low pressure. Maybe the warm-earthers missed eighth grade physics class??

  52. Blue line is a maths model of the data. (based on 2010 release 3)

    I’ve been waiting for confirmation before saying much in public. The huge delay (many months) by Colorado in publishing what is 10 day data when it seemed clear sea level was going flat, suggested it was true.

    There is a lot of background, far too much for here. The model is predictive, can be developed from earlier data. It is irrational that it holds in the long term, yet much the same is found in historic data records.

    The origin? There is an excellent fit with magnetic related solar. This suggests something like clouds as involved. Lag solar to sea level is a little under 4 years.
    Solar seems to fit satellite tight tropical temperature with a few months lag.
    This might give a conceptual view, was not intended for general publication
    http://www.gpsl.net/climate/data/solar-sea-temperature-lags.pdf

    Solar is from NASA/Greenwhich dataset, a function of the data and is a dominant term, which came as a surprise when I first noticed it. What exactly it is would be useful to know.

    I’ll pull in the new jason data sometime. Doubt it will alter much.
    When I do it might be good to publish a spreadsheet. This has the useful property of being timestep agnostic making comparison with other datasets easy.

  53. “This study is an exciting example of how applying our knowledge of physical processes in the tropical atmosphere can give us important information when direct measurements may have failed us,” Johnson notes.

    WOW, Reading this made my head hurt :(

    Does any one else think that it is scary that a “scientist” could say such a thing and that a reporter would publish it as if it is reasonable scientific statement? Post-normal science indeed! At this rate, its not going to be too far into the future when NOAA, NASA, and the NSF starts funding research into crystal therapy.

  54. MattN says:
    November 9, 2010 at 7:52 am
    I don’t know what you guys are reading, I’m reading that the threshold for hurricane formation is increasing with increasing tropical temp, therefore the formation of hurricanes is becomming more DIFFICULT. This is consistent with the data that says ACE is decreasing. I’m not reading “more heat = more hurricanes”. If anything, I’m reading “more heat = less hurricanes” which is precisely the opposite of what AGW theory predicts….

    Quite. It can be rather dispiriting reading this blog at times. Many commenters can’t distinguish a paper which supports their point of view from one which undermines it.

  55. DesertYote says:
    November 9, 2010 at 10:53 am

    “This study is an exciting example of how applying our knowledge of physical processes in the tropical atmosphere can give us important information when direct measurements may have failed us,” Johnson notes.

    WOW, Reading this made my head hurt :(

    It didn’t hurt my head, but my eyes bulged and my jaw fell on the floor. I hope the context this is from differs from how it sounds, but it sounds to me as though Johnson is well on the track to taking “our knowledge of physical processes” and writing papers that are backed only by climate models. No need to handle any of that dirty data, let alone take any action when models and data might disagree.

    Ah, for the good old days when scientists took observations and used them to elucidate how the world behaves. It’s so much simpler now that you can skip the first part.

  56. Briso says: MattN says: “…I’m reading that the threshold for hurricane formation is increasing with increasing tropical temp, therefore the formation of hurricanes is becomming more DIFFICULT. This is consistent with the data that says ACE is decreasing. … I’m reading “more heat = less hurricanes” which is precisely the opposite of what AGW theory predicts….”

    “Quite. It can be rather dispiriting reading this blog at times. Many commenters can’t distinguish a paper which supports their point of view from one which undermines it.

    You’ve a point there, Briso, except that “less (sic) hurricanes” means fewer heat-shedding events, which means…AAAAAAAHHHH!!! TIPPING POINT! TIPPING POINT!!

    The paper is garbage, anyway. Drivel. Tripe. Robustness…

  57. Alan Moorhouse says: “…Cutting out the outliers – 1985 and 1998, doesn’t the trend seem pretty much flat?…”

    Yeah, I noticed that. I was going to do a takeoff and check the slope and the r² value, but don’t have time. I noted the lack of error bars and decided it’s pretty much nonsense.

  58. They find that changes in the threshold temperature for convection closely follow the changes in average tropical sea surface temperature, which have both been rising approximately 0.1°C per decade.

    I’m not a meteorologist, but it sounds to me they are only saying that, if the SST’s rise a certain amount – and therefore that the surface air will be able to hold more water vapor – then as that surface air rises, at some point higher its temperature will have to fall by the same amount in order for it to rain, in addition to whatever other amount it would have had to fall without the extra initial SST rise. Huh?

  59. Briso says:
    November 9, 2010 at 10:57 am

    MattN says:
    November 9, 2010 at 7:52 am
    I don’t know what you guys are reading, I’m reading that the threshold for hurricane formation is increasing with increasing tropical temp, therefore the formation of hurricanes is becomming more DIFFICULT. This is consistent with the data that says ACE is decreasing. I’m not reading “more heat = more hurricanes”. If anything, I’m reading “more heat = less hurricanes” which is precisely the opposite of what AGW theory predicts….

    Quite. It can be rather dispiriting reading this blog at times. Many commenters can’t distinguish a paper which supports their point of view from one which undermines it.

    What you’re missing is that they’re inferring that they’ve found the tropical tropospheric hot spot that’s never been measured.

    DaveE.

  60. Can one of you smart guys (as opposed to this comparatively lame writer) tell me if the claimed .25° raise over a thirty year period is truly significant? And if so, if the visually flat trend since about 1990 is equally significant? Thnx

  61. Speaking of sea surfaces, I just ran across the paper referenced below. It appears the sea surface is covered with a gelatinous micro-layer of hydrated biopolymers, which probably derive from marine bacteria. This stuff must be at least partly responsible for the sea foam one sees on Pacific beaches.

    I wonder what a ubiquitous transparent gelatinous layer does to the physical evaporation rate of sea water. It should be governed by the vapor pressure maintained by the saturated polymer skin, rather than what one would expect for pure marine saline. As a first guess, evaporation ought to be lower than for pure sea water at any given sea surface temperature.

    Does that affect the relative air humidity over the oceans? Does it impact tropical cloudiness, sea surface temperature, and the formation of hurricanes? Should we wonder whether that effect is included in AOGCMs?

    Here’s the citation:
    Wurl, O. and Holmes, M. (2008) The gelatinous nature of the sea-surface microlayer Marine Chemistry 110(1-2), 89-97

    Abstract: “The sea-surface microlayer (SML) represents the interfacial layer between the ocean and atmosphere and covers about 70% of the world’s surface. Gel-like transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) in the SML were studied in oceanic and estuarine SML and subsurface water samples from South East Asia. The TEP enrichment factor, determined as the ratio of the TEP concentration in the SML to that in the corresponding subsurface water, was in the range of 0.39 to 2.43 (1.31 +/- 0.52 mean standard deviation) and 0.29 to 9.72 (1.77 +/- 3.03) in the oceanic and estuarine samples, respectively. Sulfate half-ester groups in the TEP showed a higher enrichment (3.29 +/- 2.36) than the less strongly binding carboxyl groups (1.12 +/- 0.71). Enrichment processes of TEP to the SML are discussed including diffusion to the SML, bubble scavenging and higher production rates of TEP in the SML than in subsurface waters. The results of a general enrichment of gel particles support the concept of a hydrated gelatinous interfacial layer with a complex matrix of dissolved organic matter rather than a more classical model of organized layers of “wet” and “dry” surfactants.”

  62. Kip, it’s not. No one has ever taken systematic measurement error into account in marine air temperatures, or in sea surface temperatures. No one ever talks about that, either, except in the really specialist literature. Warming rates of 0.1 C per decade are certainly within the noise. So is a 0.25 C temperature change.

  63. Thank you, Briso. Some of these guys are as bad as a lot of the warmers, not even reading the dang thing. Of course, maybe Anthony was having a laugh or something; otherwise, he missed it too: “More of the ‘more heat = more hurricanes’ meme.” This paper is saying exactly the opposite.

    DaveE: respectfully, I don’t think that’s the main point of the paper is the problem with upper atmosphere temperatures. The main point is in the first two paragraphs (which, to my mind, is where the main point usually goes). They say, “The critical question is, how do rising ocean temperatures with global warming affect this threshold? If the threshold does not rise, it could mean more frequent hurricanes.” (Paragraph 1)

    Then, in paragraph 2, they answer the question posed in paragraph 1, saying that the threshold rises in tandem with the increase in temperature. “This threshold [..] is rising under global warming at the same rate as that of the tropical oceans.”

    Thus, this study shows there should NOT be “more frequent hurricanes” as temperatures go up. And guess what? The data on hurricanes shows that, too.

    As someone above already pointed out, it turns out the simple, eighth-grade answer is right after all: the difference in temperature causes storms, not the absolute heat content of the ocean.

    C’mon, guys … pay a little more attention, will ya?

    -Ted

  64. I assume the fact that their data shows that the convection temperature is always less than the surface temperature indicates that the convection process is always trying to force surface temperatures lower than they are.

    If these temperature changes are not being observed in the upper atmosphere, it may mean that the average adiabatic lapse rate is changing. I understand that the dry air lapse rate is 5.5 degrees F per 1000 ft and the wet air lapse rate is 3.3 degrees F per 1000 ft due to condensation heating. If surface heating causes more dry air convection, then the overall average lapse rate would increase and allow a greater differential between surface temperatures and the temperature at the top of the troposphere — A speculation.

  65. Spector says:
    November 9, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    “I assume the fact that their data shows that the convection temperature is always less than the surface temperature indicates that the convection process is always trying to force surface temperatures lower than they are.

    If these temperature changes are not being observed in the upper atmosphere, it may mean that the average adiabatic lapse rate is changing. I understand that the dry air lapse rate is 5.5 degrees F per 1000 ft and the wet air lapse rate is 3.3 degrees F per 1000 ft due to condensation heating. If surface heating causes more dry air convection, then the overall average lapse rate would increase and allow a greater differential between surface temperatures and the temperature at the top of the troposphere — A speculation.”

    The surface of the oceans are warming. This means the vapor pressure is increasing. Under those circumstances the air at ocean surface will contain more moisture because the temperature is higher. The air will not become drier and it doesn’t make sense to assume that the dry air lapse rate applies.

    Wet air contains more energy than the same volume of dry air because of the latent. The formation of clouds releases this latent heat to the air at higher elevations and warms it. This is a fundamental physical principle of physics, which makes it unlikely that the heating of the upper atmosphere is lagging the heating of the surface. This is why the balloon data and the satellite data, which contradicts this fundamental and accepted principle has been regarded with suspicion. The balloon data was flawed due to equipment, and the satellite data analysis was found to be faulty. Even the skeptic John Christy put his name on the report which says this.

  66. The first sentence in my final paragraph should read:

    Wet air contains more energy than the same volume of dry air because of the latent heat of evaporation/condensation.

  67. RE: eadler: (November 10, 2010 at 5:35 am )
    “The surface of the oceans are warming. This means the vapor pressure is increasing. Under those circumstances the air at ocean surface will contain more moisture because the temperature is higher. The air will not become drier and it doesn’t make sense to assume that the dry air lapse rate applies.”

    Yes that is true if we have an all ocean planet. On the assumption that there is no valid data showing any progressive warming at the top of the troposphere, there remains the *possibility* that increased dry air convection over land could be having a *slight* effect on the overall average lapse rate. The oceanic effects on the lapse rate may be may be at their maximum limit as the convection thresholds all appear to be less than the average oceanic surface temperature.

  68. Regarding global sea level, it would be most interesting if it starts dropping significantly due to cooling in the next few years/decades, which is quite likely in my opinion. I predict CO2 concentration will start dropping as well. I also predict they will try to hide the decline.

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