A climate change dynamic

Guest post by Erl Happ

The presumption that ‘the science is settled’ is incorrect.

This post aims to give readers an understanding of the dynamics of the coupled circulation of the stratosphere and the troposphere at the poles that drives surface pressure, the temperature of the troposphere, cloud cover and surface temperature.

Data source: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

Shifts in the atmosphere to and from Antarctica occur on daily and weekly time scales. These shifts have delivered a sixty year increase followed by a sixty year decline in atmospheric pressure. Witness the change between the decade starting 1948 and the decade starting 2001 shown in figure 1.

Figure 1 Change in sea level pressure according to latitude mb.

The shift in the atmosphere over Antarctica occurs in winter, spring and summer with greatest effect on 10hPa temperature at 80-90°south latitude in August and September.

Figure 2 Temperature by month at 10hPa and 80-90° south. °C

Figure 3 below shows that the temperature change is highest at the highest altitude. Temperature peaked in 1978 and has fallen away since that time. In ‘Climate Science’ the fact and the implication of these changes in the southern polar stratosphere are unrecognized.

Figure 3 Evolution of temperature in the stratosphere at 80-90°south. Twelve month moving average. °C.

The change in atmospheric pressure at the poles can be monitored as the Arctic Oscillation Index (AO) or the Antarctic Oscillation Index (AAO) as depicted in figure 4 and 5. Although these indices are computed as a ratio of atmospheric pressure between the poles and the high mid latitudes, most of the change in pressure occurs at the highest latitudes as is clearly apparent in figure 1.

Figure 4

The right axis in figures 4 and 5 is inverted. The Arctic Oscillation Index and the Antarctic Oscillation index both vary inversely with polar pressure at 80-90°north latitude.

Figure 5 Sea level pressure at 80-80°south and the AAO. Left axis SLP mb.

Daily data for both the AO and the AAO can be found at:




Figure 6

In figure 6 we can see that a fall in the AO (increased surface pressure) is always associated with a strong increase in the temperature of the atmosphere below 100hPa. The warming extends all the way to the surface. As air descends, the net of ozone molecules gathering long wave radiation becomes finer. This is classic greenhouse activity. The warming seems to diminish below 500hPa, perhaps because the surface at the poles is always cooler than the air above it.

The latitudinal coverage of figure 6 extends between 65° and 90°north. So figure 6 does not encompass the zone where the troposphere is affected by ozone (latitude 50-60°north). This is responsible for the zone of ‘negative velocity’ (ascending air) in figures 8, 9 and 10 that are colored mauve through to blue. A zone of descending air colored red is located between 70 and 90° of latitude. This confirms the dynamic described in relation to figure 6 relating a low AO index (high polar pressure) with warming of the air column below 100hPa.

Zones of descending stratospheric air at 60-70° south are discontinuous. Figure 7 shows that the recent cooling of the stratosphere at 60-70° south and 10hPa is most evident between the Greenwich meridian and 180° east.

Figure 7

Source: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/map/time_plot/

Figure 8

Figure 9

Figure 10

Source of figures 8,9 and10: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/jra/atlas/eng/atlas-tope.htm

November is the transition month when coupled circulation is enhanced in the Arctic and loses strength in the Antarctic. In the Antarctic, the lowering of the cold point from its winter altitude of about 25hPa diminishes the coupling of the stratosphere and troposphere via its effect on the strength of convection.

From figure 11 we discover that:

1. When the Arctic upper stratosphere warms the equatorial upper stratosphere cools. This should be expected given the thickening of the atmosphere at the equator and a slight outward movement of the zone of heaviest ionization. That we see this activity suggests a significant plasma presence in the equatorial middle and upper stratosphere.

2. Relating the timing of warming events shown in figure 11 to the date of their occurrence  in figure 6 we see that, as the upper stratosphere warms at the pole, the AO index increases, confirming a loss of surface pressure at the pole. This warming of the polar atmosphere, greater with altitude is consistent with a reduced flow of NOx from the mesosphere via a weakened night jet.

3. Going back to figure 6 we observe a cooling of the air in the lower profile as the polar upper stratosphere warms suggesting a commencement of a general uplift of the entire polar air mass. This is consistent with an increased flux of ozone into the troposphere on the margins of the night zone, a lowering of surface pressure there, cloud loss and increased surface temperature.

Figure 11

How much of this coupling is maintained over summer when the cold point in the stratosphere descends? To assess this we can simply look at the pattern of geopotential height anomalies at 200hpa (upper troposphere) bearing in mind that no month or season can be ‘typical’ and the concept of an ‘average flow’ is inappropriate at anything less than the time scale required for the complete evolution of the phenomenon. Our records are not long enough to support such an analysis. However, flux in wind strength in the southern high latitudes, a direct consequence of pressure fluctuation, suggest an evolution over a period of at least 120 years.

Lastly, in figures 11 and 12 we can observe that zones of anomalous warmth in the stratosphere are cool in the upper troposphere and vice versa. In the coupled circulation it is the coolest parts of the stratosphere that descend into the troposphere.

Figure 11

Note: The dynamic described here is arguably ‘the’ climate change dynamic that accounts for climate change over recent time.

I have suggested elsewhere that there is nothing internal to the climate system that could drive this dynamic. Change in pressure is likely related to electromagnetic influences that are amplified by the coupled circulation. A fall in surface pressure begets a further fall in surface pressure.

If this dynamic is acknowledged climate science as we know it today would be turned on its head.

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September 3, 2011 4:51 pm

Erl, looking at Figure 3, it appears that something caused a big jump in the top blue line (70hPa?)between 1976 and 1981, and the system is now trying to re-stabilise itself. Any idea what might have caused that jump?
I can’t tell which hPa line it is because the colours are too indistinct.

September 3, 2011 4:54 pm

Further, could it be that a single event like that could have caused warming to propagate around the whole globe for several more years, say until 1998, then gradually level out ?

Werner Brozek
September 3, 2011 8:42 pm

Is that a typo for Figure 5? Should it be 80-90 S and not 80-80 S?

September 3, 2011 8:55 pm

There are a whole lot assertions here and I am too ignorant to make any kind of assessment.
However the last 2 paragraphs are intriguing. It looks like we have yet another contender, amoungst 50 others, that explains the temperature rise we are/are not having without invoking the rise of human CO2 levels that are/are not increasing.
Except the whole description is so vague as to be devoid of meaning.

September 3, 2011 10:16 pm

ee..hrrm… “settled science”… ??
cheers from Sweden

September 4, 2011 1:10 am

Have those AGW ‘scientists’ or protestors ever thought they can explain climate with just the simple explanation it is due to carbon emissions and CO2? Lazy minded lot aren’t they. They should surrender their degrees and go back to school again or possibly University? LOL

September 4, 2011 10:09 am

erl happ says:
September 4, 2011 at 8:09 am
I take great umbrage at your characterization of chemists. 🙂
Actually you are correct, most times we can’t see the overall picture, reaction vessel about to blow, because we are to0 caught up in trying to quantify and describe the reactions. It is a failing of our specializations.

Paul Vaughan
September 4, 2011 10:27 am

JRA-25 Atlas
Excellent link Erl.
The material there can help people connect the dots:
A. Leroux (1993).
B. Sidorenkov (2005).
C. LeMouel, Blanter, Shnirman, & Courtillot (2010).
And if the “It’s the Ocean” crowd would open their minds for just a few minutes to look at the seasonal plots there, they might actually develop basic awareness of the current-driving role of winds. (…Probably this is hoping for more effort than most are willing to expend.)
An overly-simplistic notion that it’s “just clouds” has become widespread, as if cloud cover timing & location – and circulation more generally – are irrelevant and some “global average” (which includes clouds in the polar night) will magically render all relations forever-simple-linear just to prevent mental discomfort for those unwilling to think beyond “When A goes up, B goes up” and “When A goes up, B goes down”.
While it’s interesting, there’s nothing vital riding on the expensive CERN CLOUD experiment. Observations have already spoken for themselves; it’s just that few have developed the listening skills prerequisite to hearing & understanding nature’s message.
That there’s coupling between terrestrial variables is a given at this stage. And given that there’s coupling, the most illuminating exploratory strategy is to note the effect of changes in rates (i.e. acceleration/deceleration) on spatiotemporal aliasing …Yet no one in the mainstream is doing this — this indicates fundamental misconception.
Again: Thanks for the great link Erl.
JRA-25 Atlas

September 4, 2011 1:34 pm

If this dynamic is acknowledged climate science as we know it today would be turned on its head.
Not at all: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2010JD015473.shtml
“A stationary wave model (SWM) that captures the stratospheric and tropospheric stationary wave field is developed and applied to the problem of the stationary wave response to climate change.”

September 4, 2011 5:24 pm

Paul Vaughan says:
September 4, 2011 at 10:27 am
“While it’s interesting, there’s nothing vital riding on the expensive CERN CLOUD experiment. Observations have already spoken for themselves; ”
True. But unless you spend a couple of billion on it, its not real science.

Paul Vaughan
September 4, 2011 6:41 pm

erl happ (September 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm) wrote:
“Engage in the dialogue rather than simply throw bricks.”
Excellent idea.
I sure hope everyone will take a VERY careful look at the monthly maps for the many variables at the JRA website. I particularly recommend 850hPa wind. Note how the North Indian Ocean loop reverses in May & November. Compare with this [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ITCZ_january-july.png ].
Also note from the average seasonal cycle in many of the variables how latitudinal summaries for the northern hemisphere can be seriously misleading (due to the distribution of ocean-continent contrast – like mixing clean basin-signals in a hemispheric-blender, inadvertently running interference on the patterns of interest). For example, mean sea level pressure tells quite a story about seasonally-reversing ocean-continent contrasts. Interannual variation in the dates & locations of such reversals can easily reverse the sign of interannual correlations.

Erl, you seem to have a keen interest in ozone. What can you say about the seasonally dense average ozone patch over the North Pacific?

Kevin Hearle
September 4, 2011 7:26 pm

Interesting now how do you explain this to a politician with no science background? Help

September 4, 2011 8:00 pm

erl happ says:
September 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm
Leif, you could learn a lot from figure 10. Engage in the dialogue rather than simply throw bricks.
People have been studying this for some time. All the coupling comes from below. See e.g. http://sidc.oma.be/esww4/presentations/Session%204%20meteo/LasMeteo.ppt
That you are not up to current knowledge is a problem.

September 5, 2011 1:32 am

I’ve been sending Tony Windsor information for years, when the ETS was mentioned in 2007 but was later dropped by the PM. But Tony appears to ignore it and in someways driving it. However the rest of his electorate are up in arms, but he prefers to knock the opposition any time he can. I don’t expect he will stand again, why would he? He’s a millionnaire and will be entitled to two pensions, 10 years in the State Parliament and twelve in Fed. He might think he will get in again with a smaller majority, but if Barnaby Joyce stands for the New England Electorate he will have a contender that is strong. Barnaby is one of the few politicians that have published the CERN report and its effect on dodgy climate science.

September 5, 2011 5:59 am

Is it just me or is all this just too complex to be credible. Like the Greek national debt, this body of theory seems greatly in need of a haircut by Occam’s razor. To be compelling there needs to be something a bit more unifying and coherent.
“I have suggested elsewhere that there is nothing internal to the climate system that could drive this dynamic.”
To deny the existence of internal nonlinear oscillation in climate dynamics stretches credibility still further.

Paul Vaughan
September 5, 2011 8:15 am

erl happ (September 5, 2011 at 1:08 am) wrote:
“I have not investigated this but I would not be at all surprised if the region of descent gives rise to the PDO.”
Looking forward to a concise article on this (preferably void of political rants!)
Thanks for the gem needles reliably buried in the haystacks Erl (but please omit the diluting haystacks moving forward! – thanks – time is too valuable…)

Paul Vaughan
September 6, 2011 9:16 pm

Must be some misunderstanding Erl. Apologies.

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