The character of climate change part 3

Guest post by Erl Happ

Here’s a hypothetical:

Let’s imagine that we have an atmosphere of two parts.  The first 10 km of the atmosphere has no greenhouse gas.  The second 40 km has a greenhouse gas incorporated.

In the lower layer there is  water vapor and clouds that come and go according to the temperature of the air.

Let’s consider that there is an impermeable membrane over the surface preventing the interchange of moisture with the atmosphere. No precipitation of moisture from the atmosphere falls to the surface.

Now, set this planet spinning in space around a sun in such a way that the polar sections experienced permanent night for part of the year so that the entire depth of the atmosphere (both layers) within the polar night region cool down  and a gradient of ever diminishing temperature occurs all the way from the surface to the top of the atmosphere, the entire 50 kilometers.

Parts of the planet would be warm and parts would be cold. Ascent and descent of  the atmosphere is forced by these thermal differences but the ascent is usually confined to just a few kilometers in elevation.

Now, let’s imagine that the greenhouse gas is water soluble. That part of the atmosphere that  contains the least water is within the polar night because it is coldest, so the greenhouse gas attains a higher concentration there.

That greenhouse gas absorbs long wave radiation from the planet. This sets up a convective circulation within the polar night that spins the greenhouse gas  rich air away from the pole towards the margins of the polar night. Remember that temperature descends all the way from the bottom to the top of the atmosphere within the polar night and this promotes convection throughout the entire profile. In fact the two layers act as a coupled circulation.

So, greenhouse gas descends into the near surface layer on  the margins of the polar night that hitherto was  entirely free of greenhouse gas. This causes the air on the margins of the polar night to warm as it descends.  Surface pressure falls away in this region.

Now, if this circulation came and went, we would see clouds come and go on the margins of the polar night as the air alternatively cooled and warmed.

Now, let us imagine that there is a wind that blows from the polar night towards the equator that carries greenhouse gas towards the equator warming the air and causing cloud to disappear.

Now, let us introduce land and sea in the winter hemisphere and assume that the air on the margins of the polar night descends preferentially over the sea. We would then expect the greenhouse gas to be concentrated in the atmosphere over the sea. This would give rise to a pattern of warm and cool air, clouds in the cool zone and none in the warm zone. A cloud free path would be set up that ran from the warmer margins of the night zone towards the equator. The cloud would come and go as the coupled circulation waxed and waned.

The lower of the two layers would show zones of warmed air like the map below.

Figure 1

And under the influence of the wind that blows towards the equator we might see a pattern of sea surface temperature like this:

Figure 2

Now, let’s imagine that there is an insidious chemical generated in the rarefied atmosphere above both layers that has an affinity for the greenhouse gas and this chemical is intermittently trickled into the top of the layer containing the greenhouse gas and this occurs over the pole.   This is accomplished by a thing we call the ‘night jet’.  Accordingly, the greenhouse gas content of the night zone would wax and wane causing a fluctuation  in cloud and the temperature of the sea.

If we wished to know what was changing the weather and the climate we would have to look at what changes the trickle rate and what causes the polar circulation to wax and wane.

We look closely and find the  ‘night jet’ is active when surface pressure is high.

We discover that the pressure is high when the sun is less active.

When the sun is active pressure is low and the night jet is less active, the greenhouse gas content builds up, the temperature of the column increases and the convective circulation goes into overdrive. And the clouds disappear.

And the temperature of the polar stratosphere might look like this:

Figure 3

So, in this circumstance the planet warms. Does anyone recognize the origin of the great Pacific Climate Shift of 1976-8?

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Erl said: “Let’s imagine that we have an atmosphere of two parts. The first 10 km of the atmosphere has no greenhouse gas. The second 40 km has a greenhouse gas incorporated. In the lower layer there is water vapor and clouds that come and go according to the temperature of the air.”
Water vapor is a greenhouse gas…

Keith

Brilliant essay and spot on. Why is it that there is so little focus in AGW public communications on solar UV output? Is it because the comparatively enormous variability is known, its effect on O3 is clear and that bringing too much attention to this relationship would blow a hole in not just the cosy compact that’s been achieved over climate between scientifically-illiterate politicos, but also the Montreal Protocol and the aims to broaden its application?
As you’ve said previously, ENSO IS climate change/variability/global warming, rather than a consequence of it. It’s the Sun wot dunnit.

Green Sand

Leif Svalgaard says:
August 20, 2011 at 2:10 pm
“Water vapor is a greenhouse gas…”

————————————————————–
Many people with more comprehension than I have stress that:-
Water vapor is THE greenhouse gas.

Erl said: “We discover that the pressure is high when the sun is less active”
Quantify that: produce a graph that on the X-axis has solar activity and on the Y-axis pressure.

richard verney

Leif beat me to it. That said, I am still not sure what you are seeking to establish

Bruce

Leif: “Water vapor is a greenhouse gas…”
Many forget that. Or ignore it. Or never mention it.

Yes water vapor is opaque to IR. As is C02.

1DandyTroll

@Leif Svalgaard says:
“Water vapor is a greenhouse gas…”
Technically speaking it’s not, it is actually just a bi-product of the hydration cycle in a greenhouse and not a gas that is added for its own properties like CO2 or Nitrogen stuff. It is very rarely water in a greenhouse turns to gas really, apparently.

Rosco

Surely the enormous amounts of energy absorbed by water during evaporation (and the smaller but still large amounts absorbed during melt) being more than 2500 times the specific heat capacity of CO2 dwarf the radiative effects into relative insignificance.
And surely the whole of the atmosphere heats up and radiates.
I believe radiation is a relatively ineffective mechanism for energy transfer – sure the only method for space transmission. Almost every method of cooling we use to keep our machines at working temperatures relies on conduction/convection. Even our car radiators dont work by radiation.
The rising water vapour carries enormous amounts of energy high into the atmosphere and releases it where it escapes to space during precipitation events – particularly thunderstorms.
I see the sun warms the earth during the day, ocean water evaporates and parts of the oceans warm, the atmosphere warms. At night everything starts to cool off, thankfully rather slowly given that space is fairly cool, until we get our next fix of energy at dawn.
I think the modest warming is down to the sun and we could be heading for a cooling spell. If this is correct I may live long enough to see it happen.
This will no doubt inconvenience the IPCC who carefully construct their fear campaign so that it is immenent enough to generate concern but always just out of reach of most alive today to witness.

Rhoda Ramirez

1DandyTroll: I was under the impression that gaseous water vapor is called ‘humidity’. And most greenhouses that I’ve ever gone into are very humid.

He has posited a fixed amount of water vapour, and no precipitation, just variations in RH resulting in appearance/disappearance of cloud (AKA albedo). So the delta is the GHG’s circulation patterns.

higley7

Kieth said:”Why is it that there is so little focus in AGW public communications on solar UV output? ”
DO you really think they are at all interested in the science? It’s a political agenda using junk science as an excuse for its imposition. Carbon regulations and all issues related to fighting global warming have nothing to do with the good of the people or the world or the climate or the environment. It’s all about money and power—and AGW is the excuse/crisis.
They know that green energy will fail, but going nuclear means work for already existing companies. Green energy means the chance to give huge start up funds to your friends with the great expectation of failure and “loss” of lots of money—does it all really get spent or simply reallocated during the development/failure to certain pockets?

RockyRoad

1DandyTroll says:
August 20, 2011 at 3:13 pm

@Leif Svalgaard says:
“Water vapor is a greenhouse gas…”
Technically speaking it’s not, it is actually just a bi-product of the hydration cycle in a greenhouse and not a gas that is added for its own properties like CO2 or Nitrogen stuff. It is very rarely water in a greenhouse turns to gas really, apparently.

Then you need to step into a greenhouse. Beyond that, nothing you’ve said makes any sense.

SSam

1DandyTroll says:
“It is very rarely water in a greenhouse turns to gas really, apparently.”
LOL… then what is evaporation?

RockyRoad

So, lets not drag that in. Lets focus on the things that drive the change in cloud cover and surface temperature as documented in the figures.

Are you ready to admit CERN’s CLOUD experiment is applicable? If so, why; if not, why not; explain.

Erl said: “Now, let’s imagine that the greenhouse gas is water soluble. That part of the atmosphere that contains the least water is within the polar night because it is coldest, so the greenhouse gas attains a higher concentration there.”
This sounds like nonsense to me. Gases mix, don’t dissolve into each other…

RockyRoad says:
August 20, 2011 at 4:34 pm
Are you ready to admit CERN’s CLOUD experiment is applicable?
The CLOUD crew promised publication in August. Nothing yet. They have 11 days left…
Erl: some info about a greenhouse gas in the stratosphere:
http://research.eeescience.utoledo.edu/lees/papers_PDF/Aoki_2003_Tellus.pdf
and greenhouse gas concentrations in general:
http://cdiac.ornl.gov/pns/current_ghg.html

Cementafriend

steven mosher says:
August 20, 2011 at 3:03 pm
“Yes water vapor is opaque to IR. As is C02.”
This is not correct CO2 only aborbs in a narrow wavelength range around 14.8 micron but it is transparent for most of the IR range of 4 to 25 micron. Water vapor also absorbs in the same range as CO2 and as there is more water present it swaps the effect of CO2. In addition water vapour also aborbs in other wavelength ranges of the IR in fact 100% over 15 micron. If there was no CO2 present in the atmosphere it would not by itself change the climate although CO2 is necessary for plant growth which in turn has an impact on land base water vapor transpiration and cloud formation.
It should be added that there is a window in the IR spectrum where the atmosphere does not absorb.

Rich Lambert

Aren’t all atmospheric gases more or less “greenhouse” gases?

erl happ says:
August 20, 2011 at 5:22 pm
Ozone is soluble in water
There is no water in the stratosphere. Just [precious little] ice and water vapor.

George E. Smith

“””””” Guest post by Erl Happ
Here’s a hypothetical:
Let’s imagine that we have an atmosphere of two parts. The first 10 km of the atmosphere has no greenhouse gas. The second 40 km has a greenhouse gas incorporated.
In the lower layer there is water vapor and clouds that come and go according to the temperature of the air. “””””
So why aren’t you sticking to the script; the first 10 km is supposed to be devoid of greenhouse gases; and you immediately include there the only green house gas that maters a hill of beans.
What is the purpose of this running off the rails hypothetical ??

RockyRoad

Once we get the ground rules established on this hypothetical, it might prove to be interesting.

u.k.(us)

Erl, has enticed the prey to the bait.
I’m enjoying the show.
Good stuff.

erl happ says:
August 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm
But, as you can see I am talking about ozone as the greenhouse gas not CO2 or water vapour.
You were VERY coy about that, calling it ‘that greenhouse gas’, not telling anybody what it was. And still: “Now, let’s imagine that the greenhouse gas is water soluble” is nonsense in the context as there is no water in the stratosphere. Perhaps you also mean to say something else here.

“Yes water vapor is opaque to IR. As is C02.”
This is not correct CO2 only aborbs in a narrow wavelength range around 14.8 micron but it is transparent for most of the IR range of 4 to 25 micron
##
yes there are windows.
check the stratosphere which is dry and where C02 does a wonderful job.

Mike Wryley

It would seem to me that temps at some of the altitudes mentioned are relatively meaningless,
Half the atmosphere lies below 18,000 feet, at 50,000 feet your blood will boil. Moving heat via conduction requires mass, so the heavy lifting convection wise has to occur at lower altitudes.

And dont forget about doppler broadening
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CCYQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fnit.colorado.edu%2Fatoc5560%2Fweek4.pdf&ei=-WdQTu3eNYmDsgK4vPXDBg&usg=AFQjCNEZ4eBWftW0uqM0Iz8R-MqWQ4gUvw&sig2=3uADjSeodQisIDI5Z7-C_g
The special effects of C02 in the strat gained ground in the 1950s. In fact, some people thought that C02 would have little effect because of its overlap with H20 lines. However, when the Air Force found that the Strat was dry, this view quickly vanished in light of that evidence (observations ya know) .here is an early dissertation on the matter
circa 1964.
http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/8439/4/bad5362.0001.001.txt
“in infrared radiative transfer in the stratosphere. Gold considered
carbon dioxide, water vapor and ozone in the stratosphere. He used the
absorptivity measurements of Angstron in his calculations. The main
assumption in his work was that the various absorbing gases acted as
black bodies for emission. Humphreys, however, noted that this assumption might not be correct. Gold’s main result was that the stratosphere
does not absorb enough radiation to induce convection. Humphreys’ paper
is mostly a review and contains some suggestions for further research.
After these two papers little effort was devoted to the problem
until 1937 when Godfrey and Price investigated infrared radiation effects in the atmosphere above 100 km. They considered ozone, water
vapor and oxygen. Unfortunately they did not consider the breakdown of
local thermodynamic equilibrium due to the relaxation of the ozone and
water vapor molecules. The importance of this had been noted by Milne
(1930), who worked out the radiative transfer equation for a two-state
relaxing gas. The neglect of relaxation invalidates Godfrey and Price’s
results.
In the period from 1909 to 1937, while little effort was being devoted to infrared radiation in the stratosphere, considerable progress
was being made in understanding the structure of molecular bands and
measuring the absorptivities of the various molecular bands of atmospheric interest in the laboratory. The University of Michigan was one
of theleaders in the field producing three classic pieces of research.
Martin and Barker (1952) investigated the infrared spectrum of carbon…..”
Read it all. Long before AGW we understood the role of C02. We had to, to build better radars, sensors, airplanes, you name it.
Of course we’ve learned a lot since then. Ask Leif

Leif Svalgaard,
“The CLOUD crew promised publication in August. Nothing yet. They have 11 days left…”
I wonder if everyone had to rewrite their papers after they were told they couldn’t interpret the data or just decided not to publish.

erl happ says:
August 20, 2011 at 7:44 pm
And still “Now, let’s imagine that the greenhouse gas is water soluble” is nonsense as there is no water in the stratosphere.

jorgekafkazar

Leif Svalgaard says: “Erl said: “Now, let’s imagine that the greenhouse gas is water soluble….”…”
This sounds like nonsense to me. Gases mix, don’t dissolve into each other…
CO2 and ozone are both soluble in water, I have a bottle of CO2 dissolved in water in my refrigerator. Rain is water. If there’s more rain in the tropics, we’ll see a higher concentration of CO2 at the poles. Sounds like sense, to me.

jorgekafkazar says:
August 20, 2011 at 8:28 pm
CO2 and ozone are both soluble in water, I have a bottle of CO2 dissolved in water in my refrigerator. Rain is water. If there’s more rain in the tropics, we’ll see a higher concentration of CO2 at the poles. Sounds like sense, to me.
Except there is no water in the stratosphere.

jorgekafkazar says:
August 20, 2011 at 8:28 pm
CO2 and ozone are both soluble in water, I have a bottle of CO2 dissolved in water in my refrigerator. Rain is water. If there’s more rain in the tropics, we’ll see a higher concentration of CO2 at the poles. Sounds like sense, to me.
Except that there is no water in the stratosphere.

erl happ says:
August 20, 2011 at 9:13 pm
Water vapor in the stratosphere has two main sources. […]
Can we get back to the thesis?

Your thesis [as you laid it out] is this:
Now, let’s imagine that the greenhouse gas is water soluble. That part of the atmosphere that contains the least water is within the polar night because it is coldest, so the greenhouse gas attains a higher concentration there. […]
Remember that temperature descends all the way from the bottom to the top of the atmosphere

So, ozone is taken up by liquid water. If there is not enough liquid water, ozone concentration increases. Finally you seem to believe that the temperature decreases [descends?] all the way from the surface to the ‘top’ of the atmosphere [including the 1000 degree thermosphere?].

erl happ says:
August 20, 2011 at 9:13 pm
Can we get back to the thesis?
Your thesis [as you laid it out] is this:
Now, let’s imagine that the greenhouse gas is water soluble. That part of the atmosphere that contains the least water is within the polar night because it is coldest, so the ozone attains a higher concentration there. Since ozone warms the atmosphere, the coldest part is warmed the most. Makes sense?

Crispin in Waterloo

Leif Svalgaard says: (several times)
Ozone is soluble in water
There is no water in the stratosphere. Just [precious little] ice and water vapor.
+++++++
Part of my work is measuring particles from domestic combustion devices and there is a great deal of water vapour produced combusting nearly all fuels. Particles are often thought of as being ‘solid’ but floating droplets of, say, creosote, are sticky particles if the creosote is cooled. In order to determine what is being emitted from combustion we cool the smoke and condense the vapours into particles just as they would condense when entering the atmosphere. This is done in a diluter which simultaneously reduces the concentration of particles to something that instruments can cope with counting.
In this process, hot water vapour cools and condenses producing numerous small droplets of water. They are not necessarily visible like (the mis-named) ‘steam’ one sees above a kettle mouth. The problem is they get counted as ‘particles’ because they are particles and at least some of them are above 0.1 microns in diameter making them detectable by a visible laser – but I don’t care about them. They mess up the particle count so we dilute the sample using dry air which reduces the dew point to a low value and the H2O remains in a vapour state while cooling.
My point is that transparent-to-the-eye air can have a great deal of water in it, not in the form of water vapour. Even at high altitude, droplets do not necessarily freeze but can remain supercooled, and do not have to evaporate, depending on lcoal conditions. It is often mistated that air contains water vapour and cloud/rain drops only. Visible light readings of cloud cover from satellites do not give an accurate assessment of all cloud cover because all the water droplets below 0.1 microns are invisible in normal light. The CLOUD experimenters probably did not measure sub-0.1 micron water droplet formation because everyone forgets about it and looks for ‘clouds’.
Regions around visible clouds contain such small water particles. GCR’s cause the formation of very small cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) with a slight charge on them such that they avoid each other longer than is normally the case (they get larger by collisions which overcome the charge). Again, this is a large quantity of water not in the form of vapour, and not large or concentrated enough to look like a ‘cloud’. They absorb CO2 and remove ozone, but are counted as ‘water vapour’, being the name assigned to all H2O content of an air sample.
It seems unlikely these water particles absorb and emit LWIR in the same manner as water vapour molecules but I have not seen anything written about this property. The common and incorrect assumption is that if it is not visible as ‘cloud’ it is in gaseous form.

kim

Unseen vapors rise,
Quiet equatorial.
Poles apart convect.
=============

Joel Heinrich

And under the influence of the wind that blows towards the equator we might see a pattern of sea surface temperature like this: (Figure 2)
Sorry, but this is just so wrong. At the demonstrated latitudes at surface level the wind blows from the equator. Most often exactly to the opposite direction as depicted. We are now having some nice weather here in Germany (50° N) because the wind is blowing warm, subtropical air from the south to the north.

Espen

Leif Svalgaard says:
Except there is no water in the stratosphere.
There has been an increase in stratospheric water vapor, and the El Chichon and Pinatubo eruptions are likely causes. This also means that the stepwise stratospheric cooling seen e.g. here: http://www.ssmi.com/data/msu/graphics/tls/plots/sc_Rss_compare_TS_channel_tls_v03_3.png (note that the warming due to the volcanoes are followed by a decrease to below the previous temperature) may have been caused partly by these volcanoes (so that stratospheric cooling “proves” AGW theory is not as well-supported as many advocates claim).
See: http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0442(2003)016%3C3525%3AAGSOVE%3E2.0.CO%3B2#h1

Bomber_the_Cat

erl, I am asked to imagine a series of so many unlikely or impossible things that in the end I was sure I was imagining what you were imagining.
I had an immediate problem, ‘the first 10 km of the atmosphere has no greenhouse gas’. Is this the ‘lower’ part of the atmosphere or the upper part of the atmosphere – not explicit – so I assume you mean the lower 10km. But then I am told “In the lower layer there is water vapor”. As Leif has said, water vapour is a greenhouse gas, so I am lost already. If you wish to chain together a long list of imaginary events for a thought experiment it is helpful to be clear at each step. I couldn’t get to the end because of frustration.
I hope the winemaking is doing better.
Steve Mosher, CO2 is opaque to CO2? Shame on you!
As Cementafriend says, CO2 only absorbs in specific wavelength bands, and within those bands the concentration and path length determine whether it is opaque or not. Over most of the infrared spectrum, CO2 is transparent.

erl happ says:
August 21, 2011 at 12:40 am
The thermosphere is outside the polar night zone I would have thought.
The thermosphere extends from 80 to 500 km. The atmosphere is in the dark up to 575 km in the polar night. Anyway, Your thesis seems to be:
ozone is taken up by liquid water. If there is not enough liquid water, ozone concentration increases. Ozone is a greenhouse gas and thus heats up the atmosphere where there is no liquid water.
There is no liquid water in the stratosphere, thus your argument fails right there.

Pascvaks

There’s something very missing in this batch of wine. It is too coy.