The character of climate change part 4

Guest post by Erl Happ

This post is best read after viewing parts one, two and three that set the scene for what is described here.

I noted in parts 1 and 2 that variability in global temperature is greatest between November and March when the globe is coolest. This is related to high variability in southern summer when global cloud cover peaks. I suggested that this variability is likely related to variation in cloud cover. In part 3 I outlined a mechanism related to the coupled circulation of the stratosphere and the troposphere in the Arctic and the Antarctic that induces a variation in cloud cover and described the spatial expression of that variation.

The manner in which the planet warms is surprising. If we look hard enough, it tells us how and why it warms. The value of a good theory is that it makes explicable what we see. It is much safer therefore to look at the manner in which the planet warms, as I have done in parts 1 and 2, before theorizing.

What follows  is big picture analysis jumping from highlight to highlight.  For data I rely on Kalnay, E. and Coauthors, 1996: The NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis 40-year Project. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 77, 437-471. accessible here: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl.

In this article we see that:

  1. Equatorial sea surface temperature varies with equatorial sea level pressure.
  2. Equatorial sea surface pressure varies with the solar wind.
  3. In respect of anomalous behavior that is superimposed on the  seasonal cycle, the hemispheres heat alternately.
  4. The northern hemisphere suffers the widest swings in temperature but largely in winter.
  5. The evolution of temperature depends in large part upon what is happening in Antarctica.
  6. The planet tends to heat or cool most dramatically between November and March when cloud cover is most extensive.
  7. The mechanism responsible for climate variation that is described here can account for the diversity in our experience of climate change over the last sixty years and the cooling to come. It is a mechanism that allows one hemisphere to warm while the other cools.

The Sun and atmospheric pressure

The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) tracks the ENSO phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean.  It is based on the difference in sea level pressure between Darwin Australia (12°south 131°east) and Tahiti (18°south 150° west in French Polynesia).

Daily sea level pressure for Darwin and Tahiti is available at: http://www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au/seasonalclimateoutlook/southernoscillationindex/soidatafiles/DailySOI1933-1992Base.txt

Because the record is short, the average is lumpy. It is assumed that, were the record long enough, it would be smooth. To obtain a smooth line the data has been adjusted manually. That  smooth line is shown against the actual 30 day moving average of Darwin sea level pressure for the period January 1999-July 2011 in figure 1.

Figure 1 Seasonal evolution of Darwin daily sea level pressure in mb.

An anomaly in sea level pressure is a departure from the average daily value for a selected period. In this case the period is January 1999 to July 2011.

Figure 2 charts the relationship between the daily anomaly in sea level pressure at Darwin and the Dst index which is an index of geomagnetic activity that relates to the strength of the ring current in the ionosphere.

Figure 2 Dst Index and SLP anomaly Darwin

Left axis: Daily Dst index in nanoteslas.   Source: http://wdc.kugi.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dst_realtime/201108/index.html  Note that a fall in the Dst index represents increased geomagnetic activity.

Right axis: Anomaly in daily sea level pressure at Darwin, Australia in millibars.

Note that the right axis is inverted

It is plain that Darwin sea level pressure is influenced by geomagnetic activity.

Similarly, sea level pressure in Antarctica is influenced by geomagnetic activity as we see in figure 3. There is no readily available index of daily sea level pressure in Antarctica but the Antarctic Oscillation Index (AAO) is a good substitute. It varies inversely with sea level pressure at the pole.

Figure 3 DST index and anomaly and the AAO index

Left axis: Daily Dst index in nanoteslas.

Right axis: Daily AAO index. This axis is inverted.

In figure 3 we see that as the Dst index plunges into the negative the AAO index increases in value indicating falling pressure over Antarctica.

It is apparent that under the influence of geomagnetic activity the atmosphere moves away from the Antarctica towards the equator.

The same phenomenon is demonstrated using the ap index and the AAO  in figure 4

Figure 4 AP index of geomagnetic activity and the AAO

Left axis:  Daily Ap index in nanoteslas

Right axis: Daily AAO index

The ap index and the AAO index increase together. An increase in the AAO index indicates falling atmospheric pressure at the pole. At times the relationship seems to be better than at other times. Other variables that will be described below  influence the atmospheric response to the solar wind. In particular the level of solar irradiance is important in that it governs the plasma density within the neutral atmosphere. Plasma density determines the effect on neutrals (electrically balanced particles) as plasma responds to a change in the electromagnetic field by accelerating away and bumping the neutrals along as it goes.

The data  for the year 2008 shows  the relationship during a protracted solar minimum when the atmosphere is  least inflated because solar irradiance is weak.  It can be observed that the relationship between these variables (although still imperfect) is better at solar minimum. At solar minimum the response of the atmosphere to the solar wind is amplified. Solar irradiance and geomagnetic activity do not vary together. Under high levels of irradiance the response of the atmosphere to geomagnetic activity is much reduced and harder to discern. At solar maximum the atmosphere can return to the pole regardless of the level of geomagnetic activity. High atmospheric pressure at the southern pole is associated with a cooling planet because night jet activity varies directly with pressure at the pole. The night jet brings nitrogen oxides into the stratosphere reducing ozone formation. This weakens the coupled circulation of the stratosphere and the troposphere resulting in rising surface pressure at 60-70° south (and over Antarctica generally), increased cloud and weakened westerly winds. This is a self reinforcing process.

Aspects of ENSO

The  anomaly in daily sea level pressure at Tahiti has been calculated in the same way as for Darwin. Figure 5 looks at the relationship between the margin between these two  pressure anomalies on the one hand and the Southern Oscillation Index on the other.

Figure 5 Tahiti less Darwin SLP compared to the SOI

Left axis Southern Oscillation Index

Right axis: Pressure anomaly in Tahiti less the anomaly in Darwin.

The difference in the sea level pressure anomaly between the Tahiti  and Darwin tracks the Southern Oscillation Index. A fall in the index relates to El Nino warming.  This is associated with a slackening of the trade winds due to a loss of the pressure differential between Tahiti and Darwin.

A slackening of the trade winds is associated with an even greater slackening of the north westerlies in the southern hemisphere.

The slackening of the north westerlies in the southern hemisphere is due to a rise in surface pressure at 60-70° south (and over Antarctica generally). This is associated with a fall in surface pressure in the Arctic ( a simple exchange of atmosphere between the hemispheres driven by change in the coupled circulation over Antarctica).

The fall in surface pressure in the Arctic is associated with an increase in the temperature of the polar stratosphere as night jet activity falls away enabling an increase in the ozone concentration of the stratosphere. Under the influence of the coupled circulation in the Arctic this affects sea surface temperature throughout the northern hemisphere but most energetically at 50-60° north. This is a winter phenomenon.

Low surface pressure in the Arctic is the expression of the warm phase of the Northern Annular Mode (also called the Arctic Oscillation) wherein the domain of the warm humid south westerlies extends to the North Pole to the exclusion of the frigid polar easterlies. Accordingly Arctic air temperature increases and the area occupied by sea ice falls away. The dominance of warm over cool episodes marked the period 1978 through to 2007. A cool mode commenced in 2007 and the northern hemisphere is currently experiencing winter temperatures not seen since the cool mode of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The warm mode is marked by  El Nino dominance in the Pacific whereas the cool mode relates to La Nina dominance. Dominance can be assessed in terms of the length of time that the index has one sign or the other or by simply accumulating index values over time. Neither the Arctic Oscillation or ENSO is ever climate neutral.

The initiating influence in this activity is the solar wind, but the effect of the solar wind is amplified by the activity of a strengthened coupling of the stratosphere and the troposphere over Antarctica.

As will be demonstrated below, the pattern of inverse pressure relations between the hemispheres dictates how the planet warms. But first, lets look at the relationship between sea level pressure and temperature at the equator.

Figure 6  Monthly anomalies in sea level pressure at Darwin and Tahiti

Figure 6 shows that although there are times when sea level pressure anomalies in Darwin and Tahiti move in the same direction at the same time, a period of intense warming like that which occurred in early 2010 is associated with positive anomalies in sea surface pressure for Darwin and negative anomalies for Tahiti (weak trades). Conversely, the period of strong cooling that commenced in mid 2010 is associated with negative pressure anomalies in Darwin and positive anomalies in Tahiti (strong trades).

The upshot is that sea surface temperature at the equator moves directly with sea level pressure in Darwin. Since the sea surface temperature response is associated with geomagnetic activity and is a global phenomenon one would expect that Darwin pressure would move in concert with equatorial sea surface pressure around the entire globe and this is indeed the case as we see in figure 7. The range of variation in Darwin is about twice the variation in near equatorial latitudes. The Pacific is a theater of extremes. Darwin sea level pressure increases when the zone of convection moves from Indonesia to the mid Pacific during warming events.

Figure 7 Sea level pressure in Darwin compared to that at 15°north to 15° south latitude.

Left axis: Monthly anomalies in sea level pressure 15°North to 15°south latitude, mb.

Right axis: Monthly anomalies in sea level pressure at Darwin, mb

How much of the change in sea surface temperature at the equator is associated with the variation in pressure in near equatorial latitudes?

Figure 8 Anomalies in sea surface temperature (10°N-10°S) and sea level pressure (15°N-15°S)  with respect to the average for the period 1948 to July 2011

Left axis: Sea surface pressure in mb. Twelve month moving average of raw data centered on seventh month.

Right axis: Sea surface temperature in °C. Twelve month moving average of raw data centered on seventh month.

The closeness of the relationship that is seen in figure 8, and the fact that the curves start and finish together suggest that phenomena responsible for warming, that is allied with the rise and fall in sea level pressure at the equator is consistent with the change in sea surface temperature between 1948 and the present time. This is not the whole story however. In the short-term volcanic influences can influential. Notice the depression of temperature following the eruption of Pinatubo in 1991.

The relationship between surface pressure and geomagnetic activity

The relationship between the Dst index (or the ap index) of geomagnetic activity and sea level atmospheric pressure is non linear. From episode to episode other influences condition the surface pressure response. These influences could include:

Two factors modify the sea level pressure from day-to-day, month to month and year to year and these work in a bottom up fashion:

  1. Pressure changes on a daily basis with the passage of high and low pressure cells around the globe and the wetting and drying of the air.
  2. In near equatorial latitudes in the Pacific sphere sea level pressure is affected by the migration of the zone of convection between Indonesia and the central Pacific.

Conditions in the stratosphere and mesosphere are the strongest influence on the evolution of surface pressure. The shift of the atmosphere from high to mid and low latitudes that is monitored as the Arctic Oscillation and the Antarctic Oscillation index depends upon:

  1. The plasma density where plasma interacts with neutral atmospheric molecules under the influence of the changing electromagnetic field.
  2. The state of ionization of the atmosphere as it depends upon the changing incidence of very short wave radiation from the sun.
  3. The changing electromagnetic field within the solid Earth.
  4. The changing spatio-temporal expression of the Northern Annular Mode and the Southern Annular Mode. The mode results from the coupling of the stratosphere and the troposphere that introduces ozone from the stratosphere into the troposphere causing the troposphere to warm, lowering surface atmospheric pressure in a ring like pattern at 60-70°south latitude and also 50-60° north latitude. But the expression of the mode changes over time, for instance, a migration of zones of ozone descent affects the relativity of sea level pressure between New Zealand and the Pacific Ocean west of Chile. This is possibly involved in the El Nino ‘Modoki’ phenomenon.
  5. The rate of introduction of nitrogen oxides from the mesosphere into the stratosphere over the poles affects the population of free oxygen atoms capable of forming ozone, and therefore the ozone content of the polar stratosphere. This in turn bears upon the concentration of ozone in the air that descends within the coupled circulation and the strength of the surface pressure and temperature response.

The relationship between the NAM and the SAM and sea surface temperature

The northern and southern annular modes of inter-annual climate variability influence sea surface temperature. The flow of ozone towards the equator via the high altitude counter westerlies (see part 3) warms and dries the air reducing cloud cover. Accordingly a pattern of positive sea surface temperature anomalies is generated that stretches from high southern hemisphere latitudes towards the equator in a north-westerly direction and from high northern latitudes towards the equator in a south-westerly direction. This pattern of sea surface temperature anomalies can be seen to originate from zones of increased geopotential heights at 200hPa that identify the locations of ozone descent in the coupled circulation of the stratosphere and the troposphere. This is the fingerprint of climate change as it is written in sea surface temperature.

The seasonal evolution of ENSO

Figure 9 shows the evolution of sea level pressure in Darwin and Tahiti over a year.

Figure 9  The seasonal evolution of the pressure relativity between Tahiti and Darwin

Left axis:  Sea level pressure, mb.            Right axis: Difference between blue and red curves, mb

The green curve represents the difference between the red and the blue curves. It shows the pressure differential driving the trade winds between Tahiti and Darwin as it evolves in an ‘average year’. It is positive in all months, builds strongly from July onwards and peaks just after the turn of the year. The Trades are weakest in mid year.

Figure 10 Variability in the raw data pressure differential between Tahiti and Darwin since 1999, mb

Figure 10 shows that in the last decade, variability in ENSO is least in mid year and greatest at the end of the year.

So the variation in cloud cover is greatest in the midst of southern summer when the globe is coolest. It is at this time that global cloud cover peaks with three percent more cloud than in July-August. In mid year cloud cover is reduced due to the direct heating of the atmosphere by the land masses of the northern hemisphere. But at the turn of the year the northern continents are least illuminated and this cloud degrading influence, a product of the distribution of land and sea,  is minimal.

The influence of the coupled circulation of the stratosphere and the troposphere in the Arctic between November and March explains the strong variation in cloud cover and sea surface temperature between November and March. It is at this time that the Earth is closest to the sun, irradiance is most intense, global cloud cover is greatest and most susceptible to alteration.

Surface temperature is determined not by variations in solar irradiance (very small) but by variation in cloud cover (very large). Cloud cover relates directly to the influence of the coupled circulation between the stratosphere and the troposphere over the poles. The main driver of long term change is the coupled circulation over Antarctica but in terms of the short term jerks the Arctic circulation is important and by and large it is a mirror image of that in the south. It is the rise and fall in pressure in Antarctica that determines surface pressure in the Arctic. The Arctic is more influential in determining the evolution of cloud cover in part because cloud cover is maximal at the time that the coupled circulation in the Arctic is most active.

But, the influence of the Arctic is also supercharged due to the relatively high concentration of ozone in the northern stratosphere. Ozone levels are high precisely because the coupled circulation is intermittent and the night jet less active than it is over Antarctica. In fact when Arctic pressure is weak, a situation that has persisted for thirty year intervals (e.g. 1978-1997) , ozone depletion via night jet activity is rarely seen. The temperature of the northern stratosphere is then anomalously high.

When cloud cover is curtailed the surface begins to warm.  Then the land masses of both hemispheres provide a feedback by swiftly warming the atmosphere enhancing the loss of cloud cover. Add to this the fact that wind speed is generally much lower in the northern hemisphere and we can see why gyrations in sea surface temperature that are experienced in the north Pacific and north Atlantic are about twice the amplitude of those in the southern hemisphere. Increased  evaporation due to high wind speed mutes the response of surface temperature in the southern hemisphere.

Southern waters do warm as ozone is introduced to the troposphere lowering surface pressure and speeding the flow of the westerlies. But the coupled circulation is perennial in the south and stratospheric ozone levels are consequently much less than in the northern hemisphere.

When sea surface pressure is depressed in the southern hemisphere high pressure in the Arctic enhances the flow of the polar easterlies that sweep across the northern continents towards tropical latitudes. But this is largely a winter phenomenon. It is high variability in winter that marks climate in the northern hemisphere. This is most evident in the Arctic as seen here: http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

The evolution of sea surface temperature by latitude

Figure 11 The evolution of sea surface temperature at 40-55°north and 40-55° south. Anomalies with respect to the 1948-2011 average, °C.

So far as the mid latitudes are concerned, we see the sea cooling in the southern hemisphere as it warms in the northern hemisphere. Don’t be confused by the apparently consistent pattern of warming in the southern hemisphere in summer. It’s not consistent at all. Look at 2001. Similarly one notes marked warming of northern seas in winter in 2002 and 2003.  The hemispheres warm and cool alternately, a pattern that is inconsistent with the notion that a greenhouse effect is responsible for temperature change. This pattern of anomalies is an expression  of atmospheric circumstances post the climate shift of 1976-8. It represents the current expression of atmospheric balances that are always changing. There is not one climate system but many. If you don’t appreciate the change in its parameters, you can’t model the climate system.  It’s the assumptions behind the models that give them away.

It’s a system that is open to external influences.

Figure 12 The evolution of sea surface temperature at 40-55°north and 40-55° south. Anomalies with respect to the 1948-2011 average, °C.

Left axis: Northern hemisphere

Right axis: Southern hemisphere. The right axis inverted.

In figure 12 (a restatement of the data in figure 11) we see that the cooling of the southern mid latitudes, (inverted and re-scaled) has a lot of symmetry with the warming of the northern mid latitudes. Make no mistake, sea surface temperature responds to a global stimulus with mirror image effects between the northern and southern hemisphere. This must be so, because the pattern of pressure variation at all latitudes is dictated by the evolution of surface pressure over Antarctica. If pressure is falling in Antarctica it will be rising in the Arctic and vice-versa. The variation in surface pressure is directly related to the influx of ozone into the troposphere on the margins of the Arctic and the Antarctic via the coupling of the circulation of the stratosphere and troposphere that occurs at high latitudes. The strength of the coupling varies through the year. However if one takes notice of geopotential heights at 200hPa the circulation is active to some extent in influencing surface pressure and cloud cover in both hemispheres all year round.

Figure 13 Evolution of sea surface temperature between 25 and 40° of latitude, °C.

Between 25° and 40° of latitude we see the same mirror image effect of alternate advance in sea surface temperature anomalies.

Figure 14 Evolution of sea surface temperature in near equatorial waters at 10-25° latitude. °C

In subtropical latitudes the tendency for the hemispheres to warm alternately is still apparent even though these latitudes are blessed with less cloud than higher latitudes. These latitudes are a long way away from the latitudes where the coupled circulation brings ozone into the troposphere.

Figure 15  Influence of high northern latitudes on the evolution of sea surface temperature. °C

In figure 15 we see the influence of the mid latitudes of the northern hemisphere in providing the spikes in sea surface temperature that can be seen in the evolution of sea surface temperature between 50°north and 50°south latitudes. It is not just the tropics or indeed the Pacific Ocean that is responsible for the evolution of temperature where the sun shines brightest.

Summary for policy makers

The Earth system, under the influence of solar emanations, modulates the reception of solar radiation at the surface by varying the extent of reflective cloud. The solar wind initiates this process via its influence on the distribution of the atmosphere between high and low latitudes. The effect of the coupled circulation of stratosphere and troposphere over Antarctica is to amplify these variations.

The day-to-day and year to year gyrations in cloud cover are associated with what we observe as ENSO. ENSO is a complex phenomenon that arises in part from dynamics in the Pacific including a shift in the main zone of convective activity. But the evolution of ENSO is also driven by change in surface pressure that affects deep ocean upwelling. It depends upon change in pressure at high latitudes where the stratosphere can behave like an extension of the troposphere. It does so because in winter, temperature falls away with altitude in the polar atmosphere from the surface all the way to 5hPa, encompassing both the troposphere and the stratosphere. When a convectional circulation is established the coolest parts of the stratosphere descend to elevations that we think of as the domain of the troposphere. This results in what has come to be known as the Annular Modes of inter-annual climate variation, zones of lower pressure that, as they establish reinforce the coupled circulation. These ‘annular modes’ are also involved in the evolution of climate on decadal and centennial time scales via their association with change in cloud cover. It can be shown that change in sea surface temperature and sea surface pressure  in higher latitudes heralds change in the tropics.

If we were more observant we would note that gyrations in the climate are closely associated with a strong variation in the temperature in winter in the northern hemisphere. These variations are monitored as the Arctic Oscillation. This phenomenon is part of the rich texture of climate change of equal importance to ENSO.  Both are dependent on Antarctic processes.

The role of trace amounts of ozone in the troposphere is critical to an understanding of cloud dynamics. It is the change in cloud cover that results in changing surface temperature.

Current understanding of what determines the ozone content and the temperature of the stratosphere is deficient. We need to understand the role of the night jet and the coupled circulations in modulating ozone concentration and therefore stratospheric temperature.

Geomagnetic activity and surface pressure variations evolve over long periods of time according to plasma dynamics that is seldom observed and little appreciated.

The dynamic described here provides a plausible explanation for the change in surface temperature that is observed. The pattern of temperature change is complex, varying by latitude and hemisphere. The fingerprint of change is inconsistent with the notion that the increase in so-called greenhouse gases in the troposphere is responsible for change.

The important thing to note is that the change is reversible and there is nothing that man can do but adapt. The temperature of the southern stratosphere has been gradually declining since 1978.  A less active sun will see further falls in the temperature of the Antarctic stratosphere. This will gradually reverse the  erosion of atmospheric pressure in high southern latitudes that has been influential in the warming process.

When we are dealing with complex systems like climate the idea that we can project an outcome and then qualify that projection with a statement about our degree of certainty in relation to the likelihood that we are correct, is  inappropriate. Time and again we discover that our assumptions do not reflect the real world.

Those who refuse to acknowledge that their projections are inaccurate, and in any case variable from one soothsayer to the next, are not practicing science at all. They should be able to explain the variations that we see from day to day and year to year, and that includes ENSO and the Arctic Oscillation. They are in fact doing something other than ‘science’. On no account should they be suggesting that they understand the system or that their models are a source of truth.

We can not pretend that we understand the climate system unless we can explain ENSO, the Arctic Oscillation, put the Antarctic Oscillation in its context of evolving pressure relations as the Southern Annular Mode  and explain the PDO and the NAO. When that is accomplished we might ask around as to whether people think the science is settled.

When we understand what determines  the emanations from the sun we might hazard a forecast as to the weather to be expected in six months time.

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Richard S Courtney

Erl Happ:
You say;
“It is plain that Darwin sea level pressure is influenced by geomagnetic activity.”
Sorry, but looking at your Figure 2 I do not see that as being “plain”. Indeed, the two parameters do not seem to be significantly correlated. Do you have an r^2 calculation to prove your point, please.
I ask you to note that I am not disputing your assertion, but I am not convinced by the evidence which you have presented and, therefore, I am asking you to provide the statistical assessment that would prove support your point.
Richard

Relationship between the solar activity and atmospheric pressure appear to be relatively simple: the oceans absorb extra energy, currents move it along, the heat is released at a cooler time and place, and the atmospheric pressure responds.
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/AtmPress.htm

This is a fascinating study; I would really like to see it laid out at more length, with diagrams to explain the concepts presented for those of us (such as me) who are statistically less ept than others might be, and who cannot automatically relate electrical currents in the stratosphere with ozone density and solar wind.
What I find particularly interesting is that this hypothesis apparently focuses on the effects of solar variation on atmospheric phenomena at the poles, whereas most others tend to look more closely at solar effects on the tropical ocean. Climate is sufficiently complex, of course, that all of these hypotheses could simultaneously be true and contribute in varying degrees to “climate change” — i.e. long-term weather variations/cycles/whatever.
I’d be most interested, also, in Bob Tisdale’s view of this hypothesis, since he has more experience with ENSO-related SST data than probably anyone else around.

Erl says: Geomagnetic activity and surface pressure variations evolve over long periods of time according to plasma dynamics that is seldom observed and little appreciated.
There is no evidence in your Figures 2-4 of any correlation.

LazyTeenager

This is all very comprehensive. But it depends very heavily on the correlation is causation fallacy.
In other words showing two similar shaped graphs does not prove one thing influences the other or the direction of influence, which is something that Earl often assumes.

David A. Evans.

I’m with Leif & Richard here. Correlation is not good.
That’s not to say you’re wrong but the possibility of multiple influences has not been sufficiently explored.

Ian L. McQueen

I am reading through and must say that I am bothered by the expression “sea surface pressure”. I presume that this means “air pressure at sea level”; an explication after its first use would have been appreciated, for the words themselves are close to meaningless (to me, anyway).
IanM

Craig Goodrich says:
August 21, 2011 at 2:55 pm
What I find particularly interesting is that this hypothesis apparently focuses on the effects of solar variation on atmospheric phenomena at the poles
But provides no support for such a notion.

A lot of moving parts here. The urge to look for a single “bottom line” driver should be resisted.

Frank

Does this mean Chlorocarbon refrigerants do not cause ozone holes and global warming and I can go back to using cheap, non-toxic and efficient refrigerants?

erl happ says:
August 21, 2011 at 6:16 pm
Correlation means absolutely nothing unless you have a plausible mechanism to describe. That is what this post is about.
Yogi Berra: “if I hadn’t believed it, I wouldn’t have seen it”.

Daryl M

Brian H says:
August 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm
A lot of moving parts here. The urge to look for a single “bottom line” driver should be resisted.
A lot of fields in science have “a lot of moving parts”, but that does not mean one should not look for the “bottom line”. Erl has written a lot of words in these posts but unless he can distill his words into a concise theory comprising mechanisms (causes and effects) that can be proven or disproven it’s just so many words.

Daryl M says:
August 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm
Erl has written a lot of words in these posts but unless he can distill his words into a concise theory comprising mechanisms (causes and effects) that can be proven or disproven it’s just so many words.
This is one of the major problems with Erl, that instead of concrete, to-the-point replies, he drowns the issue out with words, or brings in twenty other things, so the gist or meat is completely lost. I have now and in the past read his stuff very carefully with an open mind and interest, but I’m unable to explain or paraphrase what his theory is. This could be [as he is at pains to point out] because I lack the logical and scientific wherewithal to understand that ‘plain’ stuff.

Daryl M says:
August 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm
unless he can distill his words into a concise theory comprising mechanisms (causes and effects) that can be proven or disproven it’s just so many words.
When publishing a scientific paper it is required that you write an abstract that concisely describes the result or finding. The length of the abstract varies with the journal but is about 200+/-50 words.

Daryl M

Leif Svalgaard says:
August 21, 2011 at 7:54 pm
Daryl M says:
August 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm
Erl has written a lot of words in these posts but unless he can distill his words into a concise theory comprising mechanisms (causes and effects) that can be proven or disproven it’s just so many words.
This is one of the major problems with Erl, that instead of concrete, to-the-point replies, he drowns the issue out with words, or brings in twenty other things, so the gist or meat is completely lost. I have now and in the past read his stuff very carefully with an open mind and interest, but I’m unable to explain or paraphrase what his theory is. This could be [as he is at pains to point out] because I lack the logical and scientific wherewithal to understand that ‘plain’ stuff.
I took great interest in the way you tried to coach Erl into distilling his ideas into a theory over at Climate Audit. I don’t think you were unsuccessful because you lack the logical or scientific wherewithal.

Frank;
Yes.
Leif;
Indeed.

erl happ says:
August 21, 2011 at 8:41 pm
‘he drowns the issue out with words, or brings in twenty other things,’
The coming and going of the clouds demands an understanding of the real world and it is more complex than that that simple idea.

I know, it’s too complex for me.

Daryl M

erl happ says:
August 21, 2011 at 8:41 pm
Daryl M says:
August 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm A lot of fields in science have “a lot of moving parts”, but that does not mean one should not look for the “bottom line”.
Bit hard to know what you mean by the term ‘bottom line’. The words confuse rather than enlighten. Give me a better lead.
Erl, if you read any scientific paper, it will provide some background information (e.g., a phenomenon), an explanation of the phenomenon (e.g., a theory), and some examples that prove the theory (e.g., a prediction). Those three aspects of a paper are distilled into an abstract.
You have made observations and you have ideas of what is behind them, but you need to turn all of that into a concise theory that can make predictions which can be proven or disproven. That is the “bottom line”.

Steve C

Leif Svalgaard says (August 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm)
( … )
Yogi Berra: “if I hadn’t believed it, I wouldn’t have seen it”
Ah, but Leif, as the same authority also said:
– “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

Richard S Courtney

Erl Happ:
Thankyou for your reply at August 21, 2011 at 5:39 pm August 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm:
Unfortunately, your answer leaves me less convinced of your case than I was before you answered.
I asked;
“the two parameters do not seem to be significantly correlated. Do you have an r^2 calculation to prove your point, please.”
and you have answered;
“Richard, a statistical assessment never proves any point. Without a rationale to suggest that there is a causative relationship you are never going to convince anyone that one thing is responsible for another.” etc.
Say what!?
Correlation does not prove causation but absence of correlation disproves caustion.
One effect may influence another effect but cannot be the cause of the other effect if they do not correlate.
You said;
“It is plain that Darwin sea level pressure is influenced by geomagnetic activity.”
and I pointed out that it is not “plain” to me because I could see no indication of correlation.
I iterated the purpose of my request for the r^2 statistic by saying;
“I am asking you to provide the statistical assessment that would prove support your point.”
Importantly, your argument relies on the causative mechanisms which you assert.
You presented data which you said was “plain” evidence of one causative mechanism.
I pointed out that the data was not “plain” evidence of your claim and asked you to justify it.
You have not provided the r^2 statistic but have given me meaningless verbiage instead.
Indeed, the data you presented is evidence that your argument is wrong if you cannot show the correlation you claim because absence of correlation disproves causation.
Please note that this absence of correlation is more serious than your argument is flawed. The absence of correlation indicates your argument is wrong because evidence denies it.
Your answer to me is clear evidence that your argument is wrong .
Richard

@- Richard S Courtney
Erl Happ does graph a correlation between the geomagnetic ring current and air pressure anomaly at Darwin. But as both are modulated by seasonal changes this is unsurprising and certainly does not imply any causative influence in either direction.
There is credible work being done on how the ozone changes have impacted the annular mode and how that causes changes in the Southern surface Westerlies, try this for a simplified overview.
http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2011/07/26/15-fluctuations-and-responses/
“A series of studies over the past decade, starting with Thompson and Solomon 2002, have built a very strong case that the ozone hole in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) stratosphere has caused a poleward shift in the SH surface westerlies and associated eddy fields, especially during the southern summer….
The mechanism by which the ozone hole causes this poleward shift is a hot topic in dynamical meteorology. Not only is this response to the ozone hole important in itself, but related mechanisms likely govern the effects on the troposphere of stratospheric perturbations due to volcanic eruptions, the solar cycle, and internal variability.”

Richard S Courtney

izen:
@August 22, 2011 at 4:03 am you assert:
“Erl Happ does graph a correlation between the geomagnetic ring current and air pressure anomaly at Darwin.”
No! That is what – so far – he has failed to demonstrate.
Your sentence would be accurate if it were to say;
“Erl Happ provides a graph showing plots of the geomagnetic ring current and air pressure anomaly at Darwin.”
He may be able to show the correlation and I am pressing him to do it because his entire argument relies on his being able to do it. However, he has yet to show any such correlation.
To be clear, I reject the AGW hypothesis because it is refuted by (much) empirical evidence.
At present I am rejecting Erl Happ’s hypothesis because it, too, is refuted by empirical evidence (i.e. the absence of the claimed correlation).
Richard

Richard S Courtney

Erl Happ:
I am grateful for the reply to me you provide at August 22, 2011 at 2:58 am. However, with respect, it does not answer my point.
If an affect is causative of another effect then they correlate. If they don’t correlate then the postulated causation does not exist. And if other effects overwhelm the causation then the causation does not exist.
Since you like illustrations I provide this one.
The darkness of night is caused by the rotation of the Earth and, therefore, there is a correlation between the rotation of the Earth and the periods of night-time darkness. The darkness of night is affected by the phases of the Moon and by cloudiness. If the phases of the Moon and cloudiness were to overwhelm the effect of the rotation of the Earth then the observed correlation would cease.
Indeed, in a deep cavern the darkness of night equals the darkness of day because the enclosure around the cavern overwhelms the effect of the rotation of the Earth (i.e. the degree of exposure to sunlight) and, therefore, the correlation does not exist in a cavern.
So, if the causative mechanism you postulate has the effect you say then the mechanism and the effect must correlate. But you have provided no evidence of such a correlation.
And if that correlation does not exist then your argument can only be wrong.
I again ask for evidence of the correlation.
Richard

Erl Happ & Richard S Courtney
Statistical correlation may be elusive to capture if at an instant in time the output may not be linear or direct function of the input. The output may depend on the internal state of system where there are more than one variable governing the response of the system. Recently I was looking at a possible correlation between the sunspot number and the winter months atmospheric pressures at Darwin (Apr-Sep) (SOI) and Ponta Delgada(Oct-Mar) (NAO).
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/AtmPress.htm
Statistical correlation is negligible. While the Atlantic pressure is at occasions coincidental, there may be an integration (cumulative) process going on. If data prior to 1960 is reliable the integration takes up to two SS cycles, while since 1960’s it is more direct. In the Pacific situation is more complicated, there is (n years) delay between the SSN and ‘presumed pressure change’. Both of the above factors point to an intermediate agent, most likely the ocean currents in the areas concerned.
Let’s make it clear, I am not suggesting a definitive cause-consequence relationship, but nevertheless possibility of a link appears to be present.

erl happ says:
August 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm
What sort of a correlation can be expected in these circumstances? Its going to come and go.
Two random, unrelated time series also have a correlation that comes and goes.

erl happ says:
August 22, 2011 at 3:08 pm
So, the Dst index varies up to negative 300 nanoteslas but all of the response is in the 30 nanotesla range.
The Dst index is the response at the surface.

John Andrews

I read the first part of the article, viewed the graphs, skimmed more of the article without reading carefully, then said to myself, I don’t see any correlation. Then I read the other replies. The presumed correlation needs further exploration.

erl happ says:
August 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm
“The Dst index is the response at the surface.”
And the atmospheric pressure response is also at the surface.

I was rebutting your claim that “but all of the response is in the 30 nanotesla range”. This is wrong, the response to a magnetic storm is 300 nT at low latitudes, but ten times large [e.g. 3000 nT] in the auroral zone. You posts are littered with so many inaccuracies or misunderstandings, it is hard to keep up.
So, the Dst index varies up to negative 300 nanoteslas but all of the response is in the 30 nanotesla range.

erl happ says:
August 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm
So, the Dst index varies up to negative 300 nanoteslas but all of the response is in the 30 nanotesla range.”
…………………………………………………………………………………………
Thanks for that explanation. There is a misunderstanding on your part. The response I am talking about is the atmospheric response in Darwin that is one hell of a lot less than at the pole but in either instance the Dst 30 nanotesla level (the published index) appears to pretty well exhaust the response.

It looks like you are saying that Dst more negative than 30 nT has no further effect. That nullifies the claim that geomagnetic activity is causative as the 30 nT is just random small fluctuations, such as shown here: http://wdc.kugi.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dst_realtime/201107/index.html
How does the geomagnetic force, as measured at the surface, vary between the summer and the winter pole and night and day?
The geomagnetic field has two parts, an internal part in the 50,000 nT range and an external part a thousand times smaller [although during very large and rare magnetic storms the external part can grow briefly by a factor of 100]. The internal part does not vary. The external part has two sub-parts: a regular one that varies with solar zenith angle and falls to a about zero nT at the night winter pole and can reach 50 nT during the summer day [actually it is day all summer, etc], and a larger random part that has no large seasonal or daily variation.
How does the geomagnetic force vary with altitude and by latitude at elevation.
The internal part varies very slowly with altitude [as found in the atmosphere]. Falls of as the inverse cube of the distance from the center of the Earth, so for altitude 100 km, the fall off is only about 300 nT.
Why does the equatorial upper stratosphere cool when atmospheric pressure falls in Antarctica? At the equator there is a coincidental depression of temperature for every upward spike in the temperature of the upper stratosphere at 80-90° south. What is the change in temperature due to in each case?
I have no idea, and it should first be shown that such changes happen more often than chance. That you can find examples does not establish that. In any case the area above 80° if very small compared to that from 0° to 10°. It would seem that the dog should be wagging the tail and not the other way around.
Exposition: Teach me.
1) formulate the message; simple and sweet.
2) stick to the message; don’t pile up incidentals.
3) accept that your readers are your judge and [occasional executioner]. If you don’t get your point across [assuming there is one] it is your fault, not theirs.

Richard S Courtney

Erl Happ:
At August 22, 2011 at 6:47 pm you ask me:
“Richard,
Please look at figure 12.
Are these variables correlated?
Do you think that both are responding to the same forcing at any particular time.”
It is impossible to determine if “these variables are correlated” by looking at Figure 12.
Please give me the correlation coeficient and I will then know if they are correlated with a specified degree of confidence.
And your other question is not capable of a rational answer on the basis of the available information.
Richard

@- erl happ says:
“I would recommend a longer historical perspective.”
Okay, because at the moment any correlation between air pressure and geomagnetic ring current looks to be a purely seasonal phenomina. When air pressure and geomegnetism vary together it looks a little foolish to claim geomag affects the air pressure, or vica versa when both are varying in step with the seasonal changes.
“Based on reanalysis data the Westerlies in the southern hemisphere have been strengthening since 1948, See figure 14 at:http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/12/earths-changing-atmosphere/
The strengthening of the westerlies is associated with increasing temperature in the southern stratosphere and plunging pressures at 60-70°south both pretty good indicators of increasing ozone concentration associated with falling polar pressure. ”
Or on the measured tropospheric and sea surface warming and stratospheric cooling from increase CO2 and depleted ozone due to anthropogenic effects.
I find it difficult to see how what you have presented here is anything other than peripheral and local effects of seasonal changes and the AGW trend.

erl happ says:
August 23, 2011 at 9:49 am
I see surface pressure and GA varying on weekly
This kind of thing has been seen and claimed by MANY people over the past 100+ years but the correlations have never held up [in my copy of Encyclopedia Britannica (9th edition, 1889, vol XVI, page 179) Geomagnetism is a sub-section of the article about Meteorology]. Yours is no different.