Climate disaster, declining rainfall, rising sea levels

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Guest Post by Erl Happ

The subject of this post is climate change in the place where I live. The climate has changed in the last sixty years and there is a widespread notion that man is at fault. It’s on the edge of a big desert. Much of the land is salty and the clearing of native vegetation has brought more salt to the surface. There is less rain. Looks like desertification is in process. Many well meaning people point the finger at farmers and we have a ban on the clearing of further native vegetation and a very active forest preservation movement.

In a report at:  we have a description of a paper published in the Journal of Climate, May 2010.

 “CSIRO statistician Dr Yun Li and climate physicists Professor Jianping Li and Juan Feng from the Chinese Academy of Sciences remark that since the mid-1970s south-west Western Australia has seen a 15-20 per cent decrease in average winter rainfall, from 323 mm in 1925-1976 to 276 mm from 1976-2003.

 South-west WA – a vast area which includes Perth, the Margaret River wine region and the West Australian wheat belt – receives most of its annual rainfall during winter from passing cold fronts and storms. However, since the mid-1970s, the number of storms in the region have decreased leading to less rainfall with the drier conditions being exacerbated due to more high pressure systems entering the area.

 Modelling suggests a decrease in mean annual rainfall of 7 per cent and a 14 per cent reduction in surface water runoff in the period 2021 to 2050 relative to the period 1961 to 1990. If current climate trends continue, south-west WA will potentially experience 80 per cent more drought-months by 2070.”

The alarm has also been sounded in relation to sea levels. The increase in sea level on the west coast has been 8 mm per year, about four times that on the east coast.  See:

Is this just a case of what Leif Svalgaard calls ‘confirmation bias’, namely that  ‘you misconstrue to see what you wish’.  Is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization simply projecting on the basis of past experience and a misunderstanding of the science? Is this what is to be expected from a research organization (CSIRO, NASA) funded out of the public purse? Is the notion that this part of the globe is on the way to perdition supportable?


The past can be a guide to the future if it informs us as to how the system works. The analysis that follows  is based upon observation of historical change. Secondly it is based on an understanding of the elementary laws of gas behavior. Thirdly it is informed by farmers perception that form usually follows function.

All data from

A full screen version of each figure can be seen by simply clicking on that figure.

Figure 1 Sea level pressure by latitude in 1948-57 and 2001-2010. Mb

Since 1948 the global atmosphere has shifted north.

Figure 2 Change in sea level pressure by latitude Mb.

The loss of air pressure at 60-90° south is matched by an increase elsewhere but most particularly at 30-40° south in the latitude of the winds that bring rain to the South West of Western Australia. This is where the fronts  should appear. In a ‘front’ air of Antarctic origin lifts moist air of tropical origin causing rain.

Figure 3 Pressure differential between source and sink latitudes for the planetary winds Mb.

The loss of pressure at 60-70° south and the gain at 30-40° south enhances the pressure differential driving the westerly winds with the effect of:

· Enhancing the flow of the circumpolar current, driving water northwards along the western coasts of the southern continents and raising sea levels as it does so and indeed across the global ocean to the north. Sea level falls in the Southern Ocean, the largest expanse of ocean world-wide.

· Reducing the northward penetration of the polar lows that form on the margins of Antarctica that are responsible for frontal rainfall as they meet humid tropical air traveling southwards.

Figure 4

Figure 4 shows the temperature at 10hPa in the polar stratosphere over Antarctica. A dramatic stepwise increase in the winter minimum temperature occurred in 1976-79. Mid 1976 marks the transition from the weak solar cycle 20 to the very active cycle 21. A coincidence?

Figure 5 Change in surface pressure and 10hPa temperature in the region of the southern annular mode of inter-annual climate variation driven by the coupled circulation of stratosphere and troposphere over Antarctica.

In Figure 5 above, we see a seasonal bias to pressure loss and temperature gain.  The temperature of the upper stratosphere (brown) increased between June and March. It is in July and August that the most severe pressure loss is recorded and temperature gain peaks the month after. July and August are  months for peak rainfall in Western Australia.

Figure 6 Relationship between sea level pressure near Antarctica vis-a-vis the Indian Ocean to the south-west of Western Australia

We see that the episodic loss of atmospheric pressure at 60-70° south is associated with an increase in atmospheric pressure in the Indian Ocean to the south east of Western Australia.

The bigger picture: ENSO

At latitude 60-70° south, ozone is driven into the troposphere by the coupled circulation of the stratosphere and the troposphere over Antarctica. The pattern of pressure anomalies is described as the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) and can be tracked using the Antarctic Oscillation Index (AOI). This phenomenon lies behind the change evident in figures 1 and 2.  Notice the decline in Antarctic pressure evident in the brown line in figure 6. The loss of atmospheric pressure over Antarctica relates directly to temperature change in the stratosphere. If the temperature of the upper stratosphere increases it is because there is more ozone in circulation. In consequence atmospheric pressure must fall at 60-70° south.

There is a circularity in the phenomenon. Temperature changes in the stratosphere primarily in response to a change in pressure affecting the rate of feed of NOx from the mesosphere via the night jet. So, a change in pressure raises ozone levels, pressure falls further as the atmosphere warms in response to the presence of ozone, so the night jet is affected and ozone levels increase again, so pressure must fall at 60-70°south. The circulation is so strong and persistent  that it produces the lowest atmospheric pressures seen on the entire planet and acts like a bellows shifting the atmosphere to and from Antarctica and indeed all latitudes south of 50° south.

It is plain that the increase in sea level atmospheric pressure in the region to the south and west of Western Australia is due to atmospheric processes causing pressure loss  in Antarctica. Loss off pressure indicates  a shift in atmospheric mass. The latitude 30-40°south gains atmospheric mass as part of this process.

Figure 7  Southern Oscillation index and sea level pressure in the Indian Ocean to the south-west of Western Australia

In figure 7 we see an interesting  relationship between the Southern Oscillation Index (inverted) and sea level pressure to the south-west of Western Australia. Now, remember that the SOI records the changing relationship between surface pressure in a couple of small towns in the Pacific. This change in pressure relations happens to coincide with the warming and cooling of the Pacific and the tropics generally. This is like the canary in the coal mine. The pressure change here represents a sample, and a very tiny sample at that, of the state of the global atmosphere. The SOI is really a relic of 19th Century climate science. I don’t mean to slight Mr Walker, we actually need more like him. He was a big picture man working with very little data.

Notice the stepwise increase in the SOI after 1978, plainly associated with the stepwise increase in stratospheric temperature in Antarctica. Observe the slow recovery in the SOI over the next forty years.  In 2011 the SOI has set a new peak (a trough in this graph because the SOI is inverted) in relation to the entire record since 1948. This is La Nina territory. Plainly sea level pressure off Western Australia is due for a fall. When it falls, rainfall will recover and sea level will decline.

Thinking Thinking

This post shows a strong link between Antarctic surface pressure, the ENSO phenomenon, Western Australia rainfall and the level of the sea in relation to the land.

If we are to understand these phenomena we must understand the drivers of Antarctic surface pressure. There is nothing internal to the climate system that can account for what appears to be a 120 year swing in Antarctic surface pressure and the strength of the Westerly winds in the southern hemisphere. As I have illustrated at: cloud cover and sea surface temperature is driven by changes in surface pressure at 60-70° south latitude. Leif Svalgaard tells me that this is a well understood phenomenon. Strangely, I have never seen it explained in print. Perhaps he misconstrued what I was saying. It happens.

If you want to find the place where the stone falls into the water, look for the splash. Examine the ripples spreading out from that point. In the climate pond the biggest splash is in Antarctica. Look again at figure 1 and figure 8 below.

Figure 8 Temperature in the Antarctic stratosphere at 80-90°south

Where in Antarctica is the biggest splash and the associated ripples? The biggest splash is at the top of the stratosphere where the night jet introduces oxides of nitrogen from the mesosphere. Why do the ripples exhibit a less spiky, more organic form at the bottom of the stratosphere than at the top? It’s because of the influence of the coupled circulation that modulates ozone and temperature. It has least influence at the top of the stratosphere where the night jet rules supreme.

Now just in case you have been told that heating of the stratosphere is associated with ‘Planetary Waves’ or ‘tropical convection’ that might be considered to be internal to the system, consider figure 8 but also 9 and 10, the latter showing monthly temperature anomalies as a departure from the 1948-2011 average.

Figure 9 Monthly anomalies at various pressure levels in the Antarctic Stratosphere at 80-90°S 2008-2011

Figure 10 Monthly anomalies at various pressure levels in the Antarctic stratosphere at 80-90°S in 1948-50

It is plain that the temperature of the stratosphere changes first and to the greatest extent at the highest altitude and that change propagates downward. It also appears that temperature at 10hPa tends to jump in November as the Arctic circulation cuts in, the cooling of the Arctic atmosphere and the warming of the Antarctic atmosphere robbing Antarctica of atmospheric mass. The atmosphere is one big pond. The Antarctic represents the strongest circulation. In general you can expect the Antarctic to be deterministic, but here we see the Arctic saying its piece.

And the $64,000 question? What causes the jerks in atmospheric pressure that initiate the transfer of mass from Antarctica and to a lesser extent from the Arctic? We know that the coupled circulation amplifies the process.  But what starts it off? This is the question to be resolved if we are to understand and predict climate change. Who do we know that should be able to tell us about the importance of plasma and electromagnetic influences 0n the location of the atmosphere?

And here is a $6 question? Why is there less ozone in the southern stratosphere than in the northern  stratosphere? Is it partly because it is continually being wasted into the troposphere and attacked by oxides of nitrogen from the mesosphere? Has anyone ever suggested that?


To take this post back to where it started, we can say that the decline in rainfall and increase in sea surface temperature in the south-west of Western Australia is plainly reversible. There is no reason to imagine that the trend of the last forty years should  continue.

The sky will not fall.

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September 13, 2011 4:42 pm

Very interesting indeed. I am slightly confused though…it appears that you imply that higher atmospheric pressure causes the sea level rise but my understanding is that the opposite is true. For example, during cyclones, storm surges are caused by low pressure of the storm system. Could you clarify?
It’s great to see a WA compatriot doing this sort of research. I have found your work very interesting and thought provoking. Your wines are simply superb as well… 🙂

September 13, 2011 4:48 pm

Erl, you might want to see these….
Wet In Queensland And NSW Means Drought In WA
1924 Devastating Drought In West Australia
Drought In Perth Is Caused By Humans
….and this post has several links so it will be in moderation hell for a while…..;-)
[REPLY: Just mideration Purgatory. Your sins are forgiven. REP, mod]

spangled drongo
September 13, 2011 4:54 pm

Very interesting post, Erl.
I live on the other side of the continent in SE Queensland but I can relate to this.
The big step-change that occurred after 1976 saw all our cyclones move to your side of the continent to the amazing extent that we haven’t had a cyclone cross the coast south of the Tropic of Capticorn since then. We have had cyclones in the Coral Sea and they have crossed the coast north of the ToC but where we, prior to 1976, got up to six cyclones a year crossing at our lattitude, we have had none for 35 years.
Nothing progressive here that correlates with gradually increasing ACO2. This was a step change.

David Archibald
September 13, 2011 5:20 pm

Erl, a great post which reminds me of a comment I made on Climate Audit four years ago:
Re 101, Dr Svalgaard thankyou for the opportunity to comment on Erl Happ’s work. Of course that is a task that is well beyond my abilities so instead I will say what a great bloke he is. Erl invited me down to his winery, 300 km south of Perth, earlier this year. I took down a case of grand cru champagne and my chainsaw, so you can imagine that it was a great weekend. We broke bread, swam in the southern ocean in mid-winter, cooked on open fires, drank deeply of his prize-winning shiraz. Erl is one of the pioneers of viticulture in that area, and has a great love and depth of knowledge of winemaking.

Willem de Lange
September 13, 2011 5:45 pm

The changes you are discussing are considered to be part of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), which produces similar effects in New Zealand. You can also see aspects of this described as the Antarctic Oscillation and Antarctic Circumpolar Wave.

Kevin Kilty
September 13, 2011 5:57 pm

Very interesting.
Didn’t we have our own step-change in the Pacific of the Northern hemisphere in or about 1976? Around that time, I recall, the Pacific became rough enough that it cleared beaches of sand along our U.S. west coast.

September 13, 2011 6:04 pm

I came to Perth in 1976, working with CSIRO. At about that time, the State Government was being pressed to support extension of wheat growing into marginal areas. With automation, the economics had changed so that farmers could plant crops with less than 50% chance of harvest in any one year. But the new areas would need WA investment in infrastructure. So the WA Gov’t asked CSIRO what the climate prospects were.
For some reason this query filtered down to me, and I checked with Div Atmospheric Physics in Melbourne. The answer (in 1976) was quite definite. AGW was happening (I hadn’t heard of it then). The Hadley cells would expand, pushing the winter westerlies further south. Bad news for WA rainfall. Don’t do it.
And that was our advice to the WA Gov’t, and they didn’t. As it turned out, the years 1977-1979 were terribly hot and dry. Just coincidence, but our advice was looking very good. And the rainfall never really recovered.
I think CSIRO had it right in 1976. It’s not just a passing phase.

September 13, 2011 6:23 pm

Erl, that’s a great contribution. I’ve read all the way through, but I couldn’t help holding on to this gem……….“However, since the mid-1970s, the number of storms in the region have decreased leading to less rainfall….”
So, if I’m to gather this properly, a decrease in storms is a sign of CAGW. All the while, an increase in storms is a sign of CAGW……… a bit of a catch 22. I’m sure you’ve already considered this bit of lunacy, but I’d thought I’d point it out for others.

Tom Harley
September 13, 2011 7:00 pm

Great post Erl, as a former Busselton and Margaret River resident in the rural industry, as usual, you make a lot of sense.

September 13, 2011 7:10 pm

Erl, I hope you are rigth and the rain comes back.

September 13, 2011 7:29 pm

“The alarm has also been sounded in relation to sea levels. The increase in sea level on the west coast has been 8 mm per year, about four times that on the east coast. See: (not worth giving them another click)
Is this just a case of what Leif Svalgaard calls ‘confirmation bias’, namely that ‘you misconstrue to see what you wish’.

Yes, I think Leif nails that one.
That is the plot for Hillarys ……. Lat/Long -31.826 115.739
I think the ladies of Perth will be just fine. BTW, it seems someone has decided that plot isn’t worthy of further consideration. The PSMSL “yearly” data stops for that location in 2009. Odd isn’t it? I’ve posted on the tidal gauges from time to time. They seem to suffer from situations very similar to temp gauges. But, I haven’t looked enough to say anything definitive, yet. You can see a plot of other gauges that have the yearly data stopped at 2009 here., all the while having great continuity otherwise.
Bah, that silly truth thing……

September 13, 2011 7:50 pm

@ Erl
“Plainly sea level pressure off Western Australia is due for a fall. When it falls, rainfall will recover and sea level will decline”.
Please clarify. Seems sea level change should be opposite with regards to local pressure.
I don’t have a map handy for review as to the locations of the global coordinates, so I have a lesser grasp of what you are trying to impart. If a map showing global coordinates were added it may help others as well as myself.
I appreciate your take on evaluating polar atmospheric interactions. You generate a thought provoking reaction. I will read again later.

charles nelson
September 13, 2011 8:12 pm

I am always amazed by the audacity of the Warmists for selecting some area of the world that has little or no long term records, ‘grabbing’ a trend (always rising/melting) then extrapolating forth from there towards doomsday.
You see it all the time with regard to the polar regions. When a chunk of ice breaks off, it’s always unprecedented, the activist scientists are always ‘astonished’ a the rate of change, although they new precisely nothing about conditions there A HUNDRED YEARS AGO!!
Blind Freddy could look at the WA climate data that is available and tell you that long cycles are at work here. How bizarre that whilst brandishing the banner of ‘science’ above their heads; Warmists’ ideological convictions prohibit them from acknowledging the ‘bleedin’ obvious’!
I think we can deduce from his post above that. Nick Stokes worked for the CSIRO and is one of the Faithful Few…simply confirms my worst fears about the integrity of that organization.
At some point in the future Warmism will be crushed by the weight of long term data as it clearly and simply refutes their preposterous claims and predictions.

Interstellar Bill
September 13, 2011 8:27 pm

How dare you delve so expertly into the intricacies of southern-hemisphere meteorology without harping on the satanic gas CO2?
How dare you not recite the holy mantras: ‘alarming rise in sea level’ and ‘unending drought’?
How dare you not conclude with the catechismal “..consistent with anthropological global warming”?
You must be one of those benighted deniers.

Crispin in Waterloo
September 13, 2011 8:41 pm

@charles nelson
Imagine what they would be like of one or two of their predictions came true! I do not refer here to people predicting every possible outcome for all things – that is just public relations fluff. I mean a steadily rising temperature that correlates to CO2 and its equivalents or an increase in storms fed by ‘all that accumulated heat’. Anything, really.
It is clear that something changed in 1976 – it is in many types of weather and ocean records. It does not yet seem clear what it was. A tipping point? Something electrical? A starburst?
The knowledge gap is unsettlling.

September 13, 2011 8:53 pm

You come up with the most interesting stuff. So what I see is an atmospheric sieche between the Indian subcontinent and Antarctica. As with any sieche the trick is to find what is strumming it. It is a harmonic response to an input. A sieche is quite common in certain lakes and bays where the water is oscillating. In this case it is the atmosphere. Like a bow on a fiddle string, something is forcing a sieche over the ocean. Where is your bow? Solar? Cosmic ray influence on clouds? Long-term oceanic wave patterns? Lunar phase, perhaps? Or even irregular flow of the Hamza river.

Robert Clemenzi
September 13, 2011 8:54 pm

I know this goes against “common knowledge”, but I don’t understand the following.
If the temperature of the upper stratosphere increases it is because there is more ozone in circulation.
When I look at plots, most of the ozone is in the coldest part of the stratosphere and there is almost no ozone in the warmest parts. In fact, there appears to be no correlation at all between temperature and ozone. According to figure 33 in (pdf page 57), ozone peaks at 40 mb (22 km) where the temperature is only -40C. At the top of the stratosphere (not shown in that plot), there is no ozone and the temperature is about -2C.
What am I missing?

September 13, 2011 9:01 pm

The BOM had the same story about Melbourne rainfall, which passed through a long period of very low figures.
They figured that AGW had caused the Hadley current (or similar) to move southwards and that Melbourne would never see decent rainfall again.
Then the climate changed once more and 2010 recorded well above average rainfall (780.3 mm c/f average 638.6mm).
It is likely that the rainfall in this year and the next few years will be higher than average.
That’s what happens in Australia.
The climate is very variable over long periods of years.
But the climate NEVER changes, it just fluctiates, quite substantially.
The BOM has yet to become aclimatised and to learn what the term CHAOTIC really means in relation to weather (sorry climate).

Philip Bradley
September 13, 2011 9:31 pm

There is clearly significant century scale variability in Perth region rainfall, and the BOM’s choice of the arbitrary period 1961 to 1990 to be the long term average (and interpretted as normal rainfall) includes years from the relatively wet mid-20th century.
A drier phase starting in the late 20th century falls below this average and is spruiked as evidence of Perth’s ‘drying climate’ caused by AGW.
The fact there was a similar dry period around the start of the 20th century is ignored.
Warwick Hughes provides a graph of Perth area rainfall since the late 19th century.

Bernd Felsche
September 13, 2011 9:51 pm

Nick Stokes reckons that 1977-79 were hot and dry summers in Western Australia, having moved here in 1976. I can’t help but smile.
I’ve been in the region since 1968. It’s always been hot and dry! 🙂
The BOM records show only a lack of a few, very wet years which were more frequent in the first half of the 1900’s (SW Annual Rainfall) NB: BoM’s 2010 rainfall figure looks broken. It definitely rained.
Here’s a different data set from an agricultural research station near Perth. Similarly, it rained in Mullewa, which is on the fringe of the wheat belt.

September 13, 2011 10:00 pm

I suspect this could be related to the PDO having an abrupt change around 1977.
I also suspect AMO and a long-period component of PDO are loosely linked by tropical weather.
AMO affects north-south heat balance. This also affects global temperatures, because the roughly 50-80 degree north latitude zone has high localized surface albedo feedback.
This could be the cause of the periodic component showing up in annual figures of HadCRUT3. I tried some Fourier stuff, and found a periodic component consistent with period of 64 years, and having fundamental frequency sinusoid amplitude of about .218 degree C peak-to-peak, existing in a 128 year period among 3 peaks (2005, 1941, 1877). This means .218 degree C of the increase in HadCRUT3 from 1973 to 2005 could be from ~64-year cycle oceanic oscillations
that achieved a 128 year track record.
It appears to me this multidecadal oceanic stuff affects ENSO.
Not that I consider these multidecadal oscillations nice-and-clean. I would consider these
resonant mechanisms acting on random noise.

Patrick Davis
September 13, 2011 10:20 pm

I have ZERO trust in the CSIRO, after all, they were involved in introducing the cane toad into Australia. And we all know how well that worked.

September 13, 2011 10:24 pm

Desertification by man is a very well known phenomenon, and extremely difficult to reverse. The most famous case is Brasilia, but there are many more devastating instances where jungle and temperate forests have been destroyed, resulting in catastrophe. Lebanon, Iraq (Mesopotamian basin), Afghanistan, and the Punjab in general. Pure disaster. Caused by man. The most important reversal is in America. The Northeast corridor was reforested through a variety of disjointed efforts that were amazingly successful Thank god for fossil fuels.

Philip Bradley
September 13, 2011 11:30 pm

Pat, while land use changes clearly impact climate in many regions, its unlikely to be a factor in reduction of rainfall along WA’s southwestern coastal fringe. Rainfall here is almost entirely from Southern Ocean cold fronts. And the reduced rainfall is certainly due to reduced frequency and intensity of these fronts.
Perth is unusually sensitive to lattitudinal shifts in rainfall.
Its quite common for there to be rain a few Ks south of Perth and no rain a few Ks north. In fact it happened yesterday. We got some rain where I live 2 Ks south of the CBD, but no rain was recorded at the Perth official site 2Ks north of the CBD.
If AGW caused Hadley Cell expansion is pushing climate zones poleward, you would certainly expect to see the effect in Perth rainfall.
The question is whether the reduced rainfall of the last 2 or so decades is caused by AGW or natural variation.
FWIIW, this year was close to ‘average’ rainfall with more rain forecast.

September 14, 2011 12:16 am

Nick Stokes relates on interesting times in the early 1970’s when The CSIRO head of CSIRO Division of radio physics Taffy Bowen was “committed” to artificial rainmaking, fortunately he retired but in 1974 The BOM’s regional Director Bob Southern warned Gibbs that the WA CSIRO’s committee had issued a call for action for cloud seeding operations, eventually CSIRO through Dr E,J, Smith helped dampen the expectations. “with other committees being formed, The Western Australian Government succumbed to the pressure and asked CSIRO’s head of Cloud Physics, Jack Warner to advise on a Cloud Seeding experiment. The CSIRO was just as loath as the Bureau to be involved in a trial that was doomed from the start, and suggested that an autonomous local unit be set up by the state government to organise experiments within the state’s wheat belt over a two to three year period. The Bureau would assist by producing REPORT ON THE NATURAL VARIABILITY OF THE REGION’S RAINFALL …Southern reported that one or two “apparent” seeding flights might be organised to keep the farmers happy.
Read Chapter 21 “The Weather Watchers, the 100 year history of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology” written by David Day (take particular note of the region weather maps reproduced inside the cover pages for each year 1900 to 2005 Rainfall observation wettest one third of historical observations (blue areas) Middle one third of historical observations (white) and the driest one third of historical observations(red) The extremes depicted are interesting especially when dealing with those that have limited personal memory or inclination towards cyclical weather research on natural variability.
To set the scenario for the political manipulations of the 1970’s Cyclone Tracy had already decimated Darwin, with Cyclone Wanda January 1974 and Alby in April 1978 (Wet in Queensland) In November 1974 HC Coombes raised the Question of Climate Change after the International Federation of Institutes for Advanced Study in October 1974, which concluded the world had entered a period of climatic extremes … on the available evidence the world was experiencing A SLIGHT COOLING which was reducing the growing season in the temperate latitudes…It called on the nations of the world “to meet this challenge to peace and well-being” warning that the “need is great and the time is short” (its worse than we thought?)
An extreme politically active time due to the jockeying for top science dog between the BOM and the CSIRO, and of course the ambitious new computer scientists who were being recruited who saw their modeling projections as the be all and end all of weather and climate science. (read the book!!)
Weather science had always been political in Australia due to the extreme variation to our weather. One section of Australia could be experiencing drought and in another extreme flooding, and all with an effect upon local and Federal politicians. Great dams have been built and schemes of water distribution mooted to solve this natural variability of the climate, so older Australians grew up with an intense interest in climate in terms of weather and the extremes that nature often tests us with, much like the variability being experienced in the USA. In such a Climate the its easy to make any claim Snake oil salesman have a ready market for their latest product – Carbon dioxide Tax to fix everything! “keeping the climate regular, just a dose a day to keep the climate away, so Julia says!!

September 14, 2011 1:58 am

Erl, have you considered Mt. Erebus as a possible source of stratospheric changes over Antarctica? I think it is usually dismissed, the reason being that the eruptions aren’t violent enough to have any influence on the stratosphere, but I’m not so sure: The volcano is almost 4000 meters high, and the tropopause is at only 8000 meters in the Antarctic winters. And, quite interesting: The records seem to indicate increased explosive volcanic activity in 1978…( ).

September 14, 2011 2:06 am

Patrick Davis says: September 13, 2011 at 10:20 pm
“I have ZERO trust in the CSIRO, after all, they were involved in introducing the cane toad into Australia.”

Not true. From Wiki:
“Cane toads were introduced to Australia from Hawaii in June 1935 by the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations”

Scottish Sceptic
September 14, 2011 2:18 am

Isn’t the climate just wonderful. We now know there are massive long term cycles and trends, but we still have the instinctive reaction of our forefathers that “something” must be going on. Then we have the high priests with a moral message to sell (or who are just selling) who then “interpret the signs” to tell us that our deepest worries are true …. but they can save us if we listen to them.
Forget climate science
Isn’t this a fascinating insight into the mindset of ancient mankind? The poor ordinary person beset by the natural vagaries of the climate being paratasised by a priestly class? Or perhaps I’m being too harsh. Perhaps the irrational poor were being comforted and allowed to have faith to continue planting and sowing BECAUSE they were being told white lies by the priests.

September 14, 2011 2:25 am

“Bernd Felsche says: September 13, 2011 at 9:51 pm
Nick Stokes reckons that 1977-79 were hot and dry summers in Western Australia, having moved here in 1976. I can’t help but smile.”

Well, here are the numbers. 1977 is now the third driest ever, and 1979 the seventh. 1978 didn’t make the top 10, but it was pretty dry.

September 14, 2011 2:40 am

Thanks Erl for a good read – I agree the mid 70’s rain step change is cyclic.
Question for Nick Stokes – re your quote – “The answer (in 1976) was quite definite. AGW was happening (I hadn’t heard of it then). The Hadley cells would expand, pushing the winter westerlies further south. Bad news for WA rainfall. Don’t do it.” –
I wondered if you have a reference to a peer reviewed paper from the 1970’s where CSIRO say that.

September 14, 2011 3:03 am

“The alarm has also been sounded in relation to sea levels. The increase in sea level on the west coast has been 8 mm per year, about four times that on the east coast”
I’ve recently addressed the Australian Climate Commission’s claim in their June 2011 report “A Critical Decade” re sea-level around Australia. They chose to use a summary from the The Australian Baseline Sea Level Monitoring Project, July 2008, which includes that scary “8 mm/yr” on a map. The data period runs from the early 1990s, that is 1990 to 1993, when modern stations were installed at fourteen locations around the coast. The averages on the map data range from 1.3 mm in the east to 7-8 mm in the west.
That period from the early 1990s includes the 1997/8 ENSO event, when Pacific sea levels dropped sharply, then ramped up to a higher level. It accounts for almost all the rise in the second half of the century, and of course, if a relatively short analysis period encompasses those years, a very high yearly average results. For the years after the ENSO, that is 1999 to present, the averages reduce to a a range of between -0.4 (note the sign) to +2.5, with the west coast less than 1 mm/yr. One might ask why the ACC chose to use an annual report from 2008, when it could have used the 2010 report, which because of the slightly longer period has lower figures.
It’s also evident from the stations with longer records that during the second half of the century there was little or no trend in sea-level around the coast, apart from that during the 1997/8 ENSO event. I’m currently preparing a post on this topic

September 14, 2011 4:16 am

Warwick Hughes says: September 14, 2011 at 2:40 am
“I wondered if you have a reference to a peer reviewed paper from the 1970′s where CSIRO say that.”

No, I don’t. I just asked them. The advice came from the Chief, Brian Tucker, but may have originated from someone else. There’s probably a report somewhere in WA gov’t files.

David McKeever
September 14, 2011 4:53 am

“In Figure 5 above, we see a seasonal bias to pressure loss and temperature gain. The temperature of the upper stratosphere (brown) increased between June and March.”
Should that be ‘between June and September.’?

September 14, 2011 5:28 am

Donald Klipstein says:
“I tried some Fourier stuff, and found a periodic component consistent with period of 64 years…”
Those 60 – 70 year periodic signals do seem to turn up in lots of datasets, don’t they? Hurricane cycles on 30 years, ice in russian ports (70 years), temperature data (60 – 70 years) etc etc.

September 14, 2011 7:21 am

Mr. Happ, your bio mentions “historical climatology”. Have you heard of Evelyn Browning Garriss? She writes the Browning Newsletter out of Burlington Vermont. According to google, she is considered a historical climatologist. I have a copy of her latest report. It is worldly in scope and uses naturally occuring events, cycles and oscillations as forecasting tools, no CO2. I got the report thanks to John Mauldin through his free weekly report. He’s a rather famous hedge fund guy. I’ve tried to find a way to post the report on WUWT but have been unsuccessful.

September 14, 2011 7:48 am

Warwick Hughes, I would doubt any peer paper arising in the early 1970’s, In the 1980’s Dr Neville Nicholls research at the BOM indicated an apparent link between surface pressures experienced in Darwin over winter and the rain experienced in South East Australia during the subsequent spring. Nicholls suspected that the key might be found in changes to water temperature of the Indian Ocean off Indonesia and used such changes to predict the probable nature of the annual monsoon in India, suggesting that monitoring of the water temperature could give about five months warning of drought on the subcontinent. the climatic connection that Nicholls had chanced upon was all part of the variations in the global circulation of atmospheric systems, with abnormally high pressures in the tropics appearing to be matched with weaker low pressure systems further South. It was not a foolproof prediction warned Zillman..(page 415) Weather watchers.
There is a strong comment in the later report (Review by Hunt,Russell and Streten January 1990, H) 95/82/01, BOM Head Office – “As for the CSIRO, while the review acknowledged that its mathematical methods had shown “some limited predictive capacity” it concluded that the work suffered from “a fundamental problem” since it was based on the mistaken assumption that the atmosphere was “completely deterministic” and could be reduced to a series of mathematical equations. Note, some tension had been raised in 1989 with the CSIRO’s Division of Atmospheric Research telling a rural report that its seasonal trials using mathematical modelling had proved better that the Bureau’s “seasonal forecasts which rely on historical trends” According to the CSIRO, its team was “actually calculating the weather scientifically” declaring that this put them at the forefront of drought prediction anywhere in the world”, although it conceded that the observations from the field had not quite accorded with their predicted outcomes.!!
Seems Climate History has a predictable chance of repeating itself again, and again, even to this day and time just buries failed predictions and misdirections. I like your work Erl, keep thinking, testing and questioning and above all observing.

September 14, 2011 8:45 am

“Enhancing the flow of the circumpolar current, driving water northwards along the western coasts of the southern continents and raising sea levels as it does so” this bears repeating for those wondering why increased atmospheric pressure raises sea levels. Its not a direct correlation. Put simply, winds drive waves which pile up water against land masses. Its the currents wot done it. Cheers.

Rolf Atkinson
September 14, 2011 8:58 am

We’re all going to die! Just 30 cm rise in sea level will mean that once-in-a-thousand-years incursion catastrophes will happen every 10 years! It must be true because Professor John Moore says so:

Robert Clemenzi
September 14, 2011 10:16 am

Espen says:
the tropopause is at only 8000 meters in the Antarctic winters.
Actually, it is about 21,000 meters (and -89°C) in the Antarctic winters and 8,000 meters in the Antarctic summers. Also, during the summer, the potential temperature at 15 km is only about 100°C, well below the temperature of liquid rock. However, the upper atmosphere winds will tend to mix things up too much for a continuous flow. On the other hand, during the local winter, the wind speeds are much lower and the potential temperature of 21 km is only about 105°C. So, in my opinion, you have a good point.

September 14, 2011 12:18 pm

Aaaay ERL:
here in the united states we have railroads. they have a history that basically starts in the 1820’s. there are a large number of “enthusiasists, fans….” that are extremely intersted in the histories of the various companies. they form societies devoted to the preservation and study of these histories.
in the late 1800’s refrigerator cars were developed to haul produce across the north american continent without spoiling. they used ice in houmoungus quantities to do this.
this ice was harvested in the winter at various lakes and stored in “ice houses” for use in the summer.
the harvesting of this ice was noted in the local newspapers. this harvest information could give your important data for your historical climate thing.

Stephen Wilde
September 14, 2011 12:30 pm

Hi, Erl, a nice presentation showing an overlap with some of my stuff.
We have communicated in the past and there are some differences in our viewpoints but we are agreed in that a key to what the climate does is stratospheric temperatures.
In this article I have set out my opinions:
Could you comment on whether there is anything in your observations that would suggest a flaw in my suggestions?

Rob Z
September 14, 2011 8:42 pm

Nick Stokes says:
September 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm
” For some reason this query filtered down to me, and I checked with Div Atmospheric Physics in Melbourne. The answer (in 1976) was quite definite. AGW was happening (I hadn’t heard of it then).”
I don’t quite understand. CO2 concentrations were supposed to be somewhere around 320ppm back in the early 70’s. (10 ppm or less due to man) if you believe Mauna Loa Obs. where there are active volcanoes around warming up the water. Global warming was happening then? And we’re also being told this warming was due to CO2? \sarc

Stephen Wilde
September 14, 2011 10:47 pm

Thanks, Erl.
A few points though:
i) The Antarctic shows a slow decline in stratospheric temperatures from the late 70s to date during active cycles 21 to 23 and a slow rise over the period to the late 70s when the sun was a little less active during cycle 20 so that is consistent with my proposal. I agree that the discontinuity in the late 70s requires an explanation but that could be the result of an internal system shift in energy transfer distribution.
ii) I don’t agree that the positions of the jets are inconsequential. The surface pressure distribution is a key indicator of the rate at which energy is being transferred from surface to space and from equator to poles by non radiative means.
iii) I don’t think any part of what I say is a figment of my imagination. Some points that I make are a little speculative but only because no one has a proper handle on the processes going on in the upper atmosphere.However the observations that I refer to are what they are regardless.
iv) I don’t regard the polar vortex as the same as the polar front. The polar front is merely the boundary of the polar vortex at the surface. I agree that the Antarctic region is more influential overall than the Arctic region.
v) I agree that the flux in global cloud cover is critical. I don’t agree that the mechanism I propose is unclear. Poleward jets are seen to be more zonal jets with shorter lines of interaction between air masses and larger cloud free descending air masses in the air circulation cells either side of the equator. That results in less global cloudiness when the system is warming and more not less energy getting into the global oceans. The poleward shift of the jets is indeed a system response but it is a response capable of negating the additional energy being received into the system by accelerating the rate of energy transfer to space. The opposite during a cooling period when the jets are more equatorward.
We are not far apart in the way that we are looking at the system but in order to match observations I have had to conclude that certain features of the system are of opposite sign to that generally proposed. I accept that that puts me out on a limb in certain respects and I await more observations to resolve the issues one way or another. Suffice it to say that I think there are bigger problems in the observations for the conventional viewpoint than for the viewpoint that I propose.
The main difference between us is that you seem to share the conventional view that an active sun should warm the stratosphere globally and an inactive sun allow it to cool. For the reasons set out in my article I cannot see that to be the case in light of actual observations.
I think the point of balance of energy flux in the vertical structure of the atmosphere is at about 45km (the stratopause approximately) where Joanna Haigh notes that from 2004 to 2007 the sign of the atmospheric ozone response to the solar changes became the opposite of what was expected (more ozone at a time of inactive sun rather than less). We need to wait and see what has happened since 2007 in the regions above 45km.

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