High level clouds and surface temperature

Clouds Can Reveal Shape of Continents NASA Ear...

Global Clouds 2009. NASA Earth Observatory image by Kevin Ward, based on data provided by the NASA Earth Observations (NEO) Project. Instrument: Terra - MODIS Image via Wikipedia

Guest post by Erl Happ

The orbit of the Earth’s around the sun is slightly eccentric. The closest point is called the perihelion. On January 4th the Earth is just 147,098,291 km away from the sun. Aphelion occurs July 4th when the Earth is 152,098,233 km away from the sun, a difference of +3.3%. Naturally the power of the sun falls away with distance. Its radiation is 7% weaker in July than in January. Strangely, near surface air temperature for the Earth as a whole is 3.3°C warmer in July than in January. Yes, the surface is warmest when the Earth is furthest from the sun!

On a hemispherical basis total cloud cover increases as the surface warms but the loss of cloud in the southern hemisphere as the south cools and the north warms is much greater than the gain of cloud in the northern hemisphere. So, on a global basis cloud cover falls in mid year. Total cloud cover tells us nothing about global albedo because different types of clouds vary in their albedo and the mix of cloud types changes. Some cloud is actually supposed to trap radiation and warm the surface and this type changes a lot.

On the face of it, the warming process that occurs in mid year is only limited by the fact that the Earth moves about the sun on its tilted axis allowing cloud cover to recover between November and March.

This post explores where, why and what sort of cloud is lost as the global atmosphere warms in mid year. It turns out that there is a heavy loss of high level cloud in the southern hemisphere. The manner in which this loss occurs informs us as to the role of outgoing radiation in the climate system, the artificiality of our notions of what constitutes the troposphere and the stratosphere and the dynamics of the system that determines surface temperature and its variability from year to year and over time. It tells us about the impact of high cloud on surface temperature. The ‘natural’ dynamics described in this post are currently unrecognized in climate science as it is represented in UNIPCC reports.

All data for the graphs from http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

Figure 1 Surface air temperature (°C) and precipitable water (kg/m^2). Percentage change between minimum and maximum is indicated.

The increase in precipitable water lags the temperature increase by a couple of months. There is plainly more variability in the land rich northern hemisphere.

The maps below come from the invaluable JRA-25 Atlas at: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/jra/atlas/eng/atlas-tope.htm

Figure 2 Total cloud cover January

Figure 3 Total cloud cover July

It is evident that all the driest parts of the land in both hemsipheres have less cloud in July than they do in January. These dry locations are sources of potent surface radiation. There is less cloud as a whole in July (more dark blue) than in January. There is more dark blue between the equator and 30° south in southern winter (July) than in summer. But what type of cloud is lost?

Cloud is classified according to elevation:

High cloud 7.6km to 12 km (300hPa to 150hPa)

Medium level cloud 2.4 to 5.5km (700 to 400hPa)

Low cloud below 2.4km. Below 700hPa.

Figure 4 Annual cycle of relative humidity at 10-30°south and 10-30°north at 925hPa (near surface) and at 300hPa (8km)

In the topmost figure we see a marked reduction in relative humidity at 300hPa at 10-30° south in mid year. The same latitudes in the northern hemisphere experience an increase in relative humidity in mid year.

In the lowest figure we see only a slight reduction in relative humidity at 925hPa affecting the last half of the year. However there is a loss of humidity in the middle of the year that increases with altitude. Notice that humidity at 300hPa generally exceeds that at 700hPa and 500hPa.

Figure 6 Relative humidity between 50°north latitude to 50° south latitude

Figure 6 aggregates data for all latitudes between 50° north and 50° south. There is a gradual but small decline in relative humidity in the low cloud zone at 850hPa towards a low point in mid year. We see a marked trough in relative humidity at 300hPa between April and November. This establishes that the main inter-seasonal dynamic occurs in the upper troposphere. But at what latitude?

Figure 7 Relative Humidity by latitude

Figure 7 reveals that the slight loss of relative humidity at 850hPa between 50°north and south latitude is a product of diverse trends.

It is plain that the mid year loss of humidity at 300hPa that characterizes the latitude 50°north to 50° south as a whole is is driven by marked change in the southern hemisphere.

Why is it so?

Figures 8 and 9 illustrate the point that the great high pressure cells of the Hadley circulation produce copious amounts of thermal (infrared) radiation colored red. This is particularly the case in the winter hemisphere. Here is a conundrum. Why do the subtropical latitudes of the winter hemisphere give off more radiation when the surface is cooler than when it is warmer?

First, what’s a Hadley cell? At the equator the air ascends. As it ascends latent heat is released, the air becomes less dense is driven upwards and in the process it cools via decompression. Hence the paucity of outgoing radiation in near equatorial latitudes. The warm waters between India and New Guinea give off little radiation but they deliver much evaporation. Air that ascends at the equator ultimately returns to the surface at 10-40° of latitude. It descends over cool surfaces that support the process of descent by cooling the surface air. The sea is cooler, and the land is much cooler in winter. Extensive high pressure cells circulate anticlockwise in the southern hemisphere and clockwise in the northern hemisphere giving rise to the trades and the westerlies. These cells are largely free of low and middle troposphere cloud. The air in these cells warms via compression, the bike pump effect. So, as these high pressure cells occupy more space in the winter hemisphere the surface must receive more direct sunlight and the winter hemisphere at these latitudes must be warmer than it otherwise would be.

Figure 8 July outgoing long wave radiation

Figure 9 January outgoing long wave radiation

It is apparent that atmospheric processes determine where thermal radiation is released by the Earth system. It is released from the atmosphere rather than directly from the surface. The area of cloud free sky tends to be enhanced in winter. This must be considered a positive. We like to be warmer in winter. If this is what the greenhouse effect is all about I am all for it. But hang on, the greenhouse effect must be quite weak because there is little chance of water vapor amplification in dry air. What a bummer.

Figure 10 Air temperature at various elevations at 20-30°south

Figure 3 shows that the temperature of the upper troposphere at 20-30° south responds to enhanced radiation in winter just like the stratosphere at 50hPa. The response depends upon the ability of ozone to trap long wave radiation at a quite specific wave length, 9.6 micrometers. Infrared spans 4-28 micrometers. We see a strong response to just a small part of the total spectrum by a mass of tiny little radiators that populate this part of the atmosphere in the parts per billion range but sufficient to invert the seasonal temperature profile. Hang on, this is not in the rule book, the troposphere is supposed to be warmed from the surface and should move with surface temperature! But here we see the upper troposphere acting like the stratosphere in that it responds to long wave radiation. Do we need to alter our ideas of what the stratosphere starts? Where is the ozone tropopause?

A winter warming response at 250hPa, involving a marked loss of relative humidity in the ice cloud zone, tells us that the moisture supply to the upper troposphere is disconnected from the temperature dynamic at this altitude. Quite possibly, the supply of moisture to the upper troposphere in the southern hemisphere depends upon the temperature of the tropical ocean that falls to its annual minimum in mid year. Quite possibly, that moisture is moving north rather than south in mid year.

Climatologists have long wondered why a 1°C increase in temperature at the sea surface relates to as much as a 3° increase in temperature of the upper troposphere. They call this phenomenon ‘amplification’ as if the temperature of the upper troposphere in some way depended on the temperature at the surface and there was a transistor circuit between the two. Hey guys, its the other way round. Turn the telescope round. The presence of a long wave absorber namely ozone, is responsible for this phenomenon. The warming of the upper troposphere results in cloud loss and then, after a little time lag, the surface temperature increases.

In the mid and high zone, cloud is present as highly reflective interlacing micro-crystals of ice that we describe as cirrus and stratus. When the air warms these crystals sublimate. Ice cloud is the dominant cloud of the subtropical region. In IPCC climate science high altitude ice cloud is supposed to warm the surface by enhancing back radiation. But when radiation from the atmosphere increases in winter relative humidity falls. This radiation it is not bounced back by the cloud, the cloud disappears and lets the sun shine through. The surface temperature response is due to the disappearance of the cloud, not back radiation. Oops.

Figure 11 Southern Hemisphere locations exhibiting high altitude ice cloud on 26th September 2011

The evolution of surface temperature is intimately related to the coming and going of clouds. The animation at http://www.intelliweather.com/imagesuite_specialty.htm

reveals that the circulation of the air in the high cloud zone is independent of and quite contrary to the low cloud zone.

Figure 12 High cloud cover in January and July Source JRA-25 Atlas at http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/jra/atlas/eng/atlas-tope.htm

Figure 12 shows the latitudes of the southern hemisphere where high cloud is evaporated in July. There is a marked expansion in the area that has less high cloud by comparison with January.

Figure 13 The advance of global temperature in January and July

Figure 13 indicates that there is more year to year variability in the minimum global temperature (January) than the maximum (July).

The minimum is experienced when the Earth is closest to the sun. The Earth is coolest at this time because the atmosphere is cloudier in January. January is characterized by a relative abundance of high ice cloud in the southern hemisphere. Relative humidity peaks in April (figure 6) when tropical waters are warmest. I suggest the variation in the minimum global temperature is due to change in high altitude cloud. The southern hemisphere experiences the largest flux in ice cloud.That flux in high cloud is likely to be due to change in ozone content of the upper troposphere.

Variation in cloud cover should be the first hypothesis to explore when the Earth warms or cools over time. You would have to be very naive to think that the inter-annual change in temperature that is most obvious between November and March could be due to something other than a change in cloud cover.

Figure 14 Temperature of the sea and the upper troposphere at 250hPa at 20-30° south in January.

Figure 15 Temperature of the sea and the upper troposphere at 250hPa at 20-30° south in July.

In January we observe a close relationship between the temperature of the upper troposphere at 20-30°south and the temperature of the sea. The so called ‘amplification factor’ is plainly there.

In July we see a decline in 200hPa temperature between 1948 and 1978 in line with the decline in the temperature of the northern hemisphere during that interval and a strong increase in 200hPa temperature after 1978 as the northern hemisphere warmed strongly. We know that the temperature of the stratosphere at 20-30°south is linked to the extent of warming in the northern hemisphere in mid year. The greater the convectional updraft that occurs north of the equator in mid year, the more voluminous is the stream of air that descends in the winter hemisphere. So, as the north warms the greater will be the outgoing radiation and the warmer will be the stratosphere and the upper troposphere in the southern hemisphere. The warmer it is, the less extensive must be the reflective ice cloud.

Figure 16 Anomalies in temperature at 200hPa, 300hPa and at the sea surface 20-30° south. Three month moving averages of monthly data.

Looking now at departures from the 1948-2011 monthly average the dependance of surface temperature upon upper troposphere temperature is plain to see. In a warming cycle we see 200hPa temperature rising above 300hPa and sea surface temperature and falling below it in a cooling cycle. The shift of in 200hPa temperature between 1976-1980 had its origins in the increase in the temperature of the Antarctic stratosphere at that time and the commencement of the warming in the northern hemisphere.

The $64,000 question is what causes the change in the ozone content of the high cloud zone between November and March when the greatest variability in global surface temperature is seen.

The $164,000 question is what is causing cloud cover to rise and fall on decadal and centennial time scales.

The answer to both questions lies in the activity of the coupled circulation of the stratosphere and the troposphere at the poles that feeds ozone into the troposphere. The upper troposphere warms or cools depending upon the feed rate of ozone. The feed rate changes over time.

The ozone content and temperature of the upper stratosphere depends in the first instance upon the activity of the night jet at the poles that introduces NOx from the mesosphere. Less NOx means more ozone. The activity of the night jet depends upon surface pressure and the concentration of NOx in the jet depends upon solar activity. In Antarctica, surface pressure has been falling for sixty years indicating a continuous increase in the ozone feed into the troposphere, the second major influence upon the ozone content of the polar stratosphere.

In that the coupled circulation of the stratosphere and the troposphere over Antarctica changes surface pressure at 60-70° south it changes the strength of the westerly winds in the southern hemisphere, cloud cover and surface temperature on all time scales. Stratospheric ozone is wasted above and below the stratosphere, processes referred to as ‘unknown dynamical influences’ in the more respectable polar ozone studies.

These phenomena are the very essence of the Southern Annular Mode, arguably the fundamental mode of global climate variation on all time scales.

One thing is plain. High altitude ice cloud in the southern hemisphere is plainly a reflector of solar radiation. It does not promote warming (positive feedback). It promotes cooling (negative feedback). It’s presence depends upon the flux in ozone in the upper troposphere as governed by processes in the stratosphere. So the UNIPCC climate models are 180° out of whack.

If your brain is starting to hurt, just rest it for a moment while you consider the following.

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:—

A poet could not but be gay

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought.

For oft when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude,

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils…

When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side, we fancied that the lake had floated the seeds ashore & that the little colony had so sprung up— But as we went along there were more & yet more & at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road . . . [S]ome rested their heads on [mossy] stones as on a pillow for weariness & the rest tossed & reeled & danced & seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the Lake, they looked so gay ever glancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here & there a little knot & a few stragglers a few yards higher up but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity & unity & life of that one busy highway… —Rain came on, we were wet. William Wordsworth 1815

Now that you have rested you might devise a mathematical model that mimics the behavior of the climate system as described in this post.

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kim

Sun be subtle,
Sun be jolly,
Amplify
The human folly.
=========

Steven Kopits

This should have been editted prior to posting.

Erl, I’m going to have to disagree with you on the clouds you’ve circled in my company’s satellite images. This are IR images, not visible light, and they are low level based on their brightness, not high level,

charles nelson

Erl, fascinating piece as usual.
But mightn’t the temperature discrepancy have more to do with the fact that the Northern Hemisphere has got a much greater landmass than the Southern?

TomRude

Erl Happ writes: “First, what’s a Hadley cell? At the equator the air ascends. As it ascends latent heat is released, the air becomes less dense is driven upwards and in the process it cools via decompression. Hence the paucity of outgoing radiation in near equatorial latitudes. The warm waters between India and New Guinea give off little radiation but they deliver much evaporation. Air that ascends at the equator ultimately returns to the surface at 10-40° of latitude. It descends over cool surfaces that support the process of descent by cooling the surface air. The sea is cooler, and the land is much cooler in winter. Extensive high pressure cells circulate anticlockwise in the southern hemisphere and clockwise in the northern hemisphere giving rise to the trades and the westerlies. These cells are largely free of low and middle troposphere cloud. The air in these cells warms via compression, the bike pump effect. So, as these high pressure cells occupy more space in the winter hemisphere the surface must receive more direct sunlight and the winter hemisphere at these latitudes must be warmer than it otherwise would be.”
Fitting Erl wraps his post with some poetry because his description of atmospheric circulation is indeed a misleading poetic portrayal of the reality… Especially when this relaity has been observed and described in detail:
http://www.springer.com/earth+sciences+and+geography/meteorology+%26+climatology/book/978-3-540-42636-3
Further reading:
http://ddata.over-blog.com/xxxyyy/2/32/25/79/Leroux-Global-and-Planetary-Change-1993.pdf
http://www.springer.com/earth+sciences+and+geography/meteorology+%26+climatology/book/978-3-642-04679-7

TomRude

Anthony glad you pointed that one out!

Gary

Typo on the caption for Figure 11. Should it be 26 September 2011.
[Thanx, fixed. ~dbs]

Robert M

Figure 11 is not from 26 October 2011, rather 26 September 2011

Jeff D

This is why I love this site. There will be more peer review here about a hour then has been done on the team in years.

Robert M

Ummm, everything was going fine until towards the end of the article…
1. I like the conclusion – One thing is plain. High altitude ice cloud in the southern hemisphere is plainly a reflector of solar radiation. It does not promote warming (positive feedback). It promotes cooling (negative feedback). It’s presence depends upon the flux in ozone in the upper troposphere as governed by processes in the stratosphere. So the UNIPCC climate models are 180° out of whack.
2. What the heck is the Southern Annular Mode.
3. This:
The ozone content and temperature of the upper stratosphere depends in the first instance upon the activity of the night jet at the poles that introduces NOx from the mesosphere. Less NOx means more ozone. The activity of the night jet depends upon surface pressure and the concentration of NOx in the jet depends upon solar activity. In Antarctica, surface pressure has been falling for sixty years indicating a continuous increase in the ozone feed into the troposphere, the second major influence upon the ozone content of the polar stratosphere.
Should probably be a paper all by itself. It does not help here.
4. I’m not sure this is the right place for a poem. My brain was fine until the poem hit.

Warren in Minnesota

The information that the earth has a variable temperature that coincides with the seasons, and yet the warmer season is when the distance from the sun is new to me. But my instant idea as to why this is so coincides with charles nelson who says on October 6, 2011 at 11:43 am that the majority of the land mass is in the northern hemisphere and that might be the reason. Does the land, the albedo, or both influence the average temperature?

Acorn1 - San Diego

Sir…. What you say here is totally great….
In attempting to understand today’s climate…
I keep going back to just after the last ice age, and that we have had, during “history” of
Homo s., some six or seven swings between cold and warm. The very last being the swing
between the LIA and present warming. How does this delightful “opinion” fit in..? Well, it
tells me that nothing is settled….GOOD…! I mention c/w periods. Homo s. has progressed
In w periods, had problems in c periods… Let’s keep studying this stuff..
And thanks… Vern Cornell…Tierrasanta

Zac

So water and solar energy are the predominant drivers of the Earth’s climate and not ppm of CO2, who would have thunk it?

TitoYors

Sorry but I think the figure 11 are IR channel and the remarked zones are low clouds.. not high altitude ice clouds

Robert of Ottawa

Well, Erl makes some answers for me and raises some questions. But it is good to read a cloud expose. The warmistas ignore them, or have them behave in “positive” ways 🙂

As Charles Nelson says, the southern hemisphere has less land than the northern hemisphere, and water has to be much more reflective of sunlight than earth at all angles, but especially so at any angle less than 90°.

Hector M.

Just a minor point which does not affect the substance of the post: In Figure 1, the difference in temperature (in degrees Centigrade) is represented as a percentage. This is not correct, since the zero point of the Celsius scale is arbitrary (the freezing point of water). On scales with an arbitrary zero you can validly establish the width of a difference, but not a ratio or percentage between different values of the scale. However, percentages can be valid for the Kelvin scale, because it has an absolute zero at -273°C, but of course the percent difference would be much smaller than suggested by Figure 1.

Erl Happ writes with respect to Figure 14: “In January we observe a close relationship between the temperature of the upper troposphere at 20-30°south and the temperature of the sea. The so called ‘amplification factor’ is plainly there.”
I do not see a close relationship between the two datasets. What’s the correlation coefficient for the two datasets, something less than 0.5? Also, are you masking the lower troposhere temperature data over land? If not, are you sure the variations in lower troposhere temperature over land are not different than the varaitions in lower troposhere temperature over the ocean? And to what “amplification factor’ are you referring?
You wrote in the post, “They call this phenomenon ‘amplification’ as if the temperature of the upper troposphere in some way depended on the temperature at the surface and there was a transistor circuit between the two.”
Who is they, as in “They call this phenomenon ‘amplification’”?
Also, the lower troposphere and sea surface temperatures respond to changes caused by ENSO, etc., at different lags and magnitudes. Nothing new about that, and you have provided nothing to illustrate and justify your hypothesis that variations in lower troposphere temperatures are causing the variations in SST.

Erl Happ writes: “The evolution of surface temperature is intimately related to the coming and going of clouds.”
And what data have you provided to confirm this claim? The link you provided in the next sentence does not do it. And I find nothing else in your post that confirms it.
This appears to be yet another of your posts based on speculation–let me reword that with another word that seems more appropriate–This appears to be yet another of your posts based on conjecture.

TomRude: The way you promote them one might conclude that you receive a commission on the sales of Marcel Leroux’s books.

jorgekafkazar

Peter says: “As Charles Nelson says, the southern hemisphere has less land than the northern hemisphere, and water has to be much more reflective of sunlight than earth at all angles, but especially so at any angle less than 90°.”
The emissivity of ocean water is about .993 which is very close to an ideal emitter. That suggests that its absorptivity is also very close to 1.0. Unless you can cite some actual contrary data, I suspect you’ve been misled, somehow. Are you talking about zenith angles or azimuth angles? Water is certainly more reflective than land at zenith angles approaching 90° or even 70°. At 0° ZA, it’s almost a black body.

Sensor operator

As others have pointed out, the difference in land mass coverage is the major driver in the difference in surface temperature. The reason is the heat capacity of water versus most soilds, e.g. rocks, etc. The heat capacity indicates the amount of energy requried to raise the temperature of a material (in units like Joules per gram per degree Kelvin). Water has a rather large heat capacity which is 4-5 times larger than most solids. So, during northern hemisphere summer, i.e. northern hemisphere titlted towards the sun, the same amount of energy can raise the temperature more since it takes less energy to increase the temperature of the materials.
This is also why cities/regions near bodies of water tend to stay warmer at night and into the winter months since bodies of water behave like sources of heat. Takes longer for the water to cool down relative to the land.
And this is the reason people are concerned about melting ice caps/glaciers. It takes a lot of enery (nearly two orders of magnitude) to melt ice to water than it does to warm the water. So, once the ice has melted, it is much easier to warm the water. So, as a feedback, as the Arctic ice melts sooner, the water gets warmer for a longer time, which also means it takes much longer for ice to form (besides the ice on the skin of the water which can be influenced by wind), which leads to a decrease in “old” ice. And all of this has observed in the Arctic over the last 3 decades.
Not strange. Just physics.

dr kill

O/T Anthony, why is the chemistry Nobel a BFD?

Jim Lindsay

TomRude says:
October 6, 2011 at 11:50 am
Fitting Erl wraps his post with some poetry because his description of atmospheric circulation is indeed a misleading poetic portrayal of the reality… Especially when this relaity has been observed and described in detail:
Why the attack? Someone expresses an idea in a pleasant manner, not as a fact written in stone and gives us a chance to think about it and discuss it doesn’t deserve your vitriol. I learn as much on this site from ideas discussed and reputed as I do from ideas supported by folk here. The discussion is often better than the original posting.

Jim Lindsay says: “The discussion is often better than the original posting.”
But shouldn’t the original posting have bases in reality?

Like all models this one gets some stuff right, some stuff maybe and other stuff wrong. Like all models it raises more questions then it answers. Like all models it is dependent on both proper calibration and empirical data conformation. Thanks for sharing these ideas and poetry.

Dave Springer

“Strangely, near surface air temperature for the Earth as a whole is 3.3°C warmer in July than in January. Yes, the surface is warmest when the Earth is furthest from the sun!”
There is nothing strange about this. It’s due to “continentality”, a 250 year-old scientific term that describes the difference in seasonal temperature variation of continents compared to oceans.
Surface air temperature over continents gets much colder in the winter and much warmer in summer compared to same latitude over the ocean. There is twice as much continental surface in the northern hemisphere. So when it’s NH hemisphere summer the earth as a whole is slightly warmer and in NH winter it’s slightly colder.
The dates for perihelion and aphelion are not fixed. They are currently early January and early July respectively but over the course of IIRC 25,000 years orbital precession will walk those dates all the way around the calander. Axial tilt also precesses from 21 to 24 degrees over a period of about 40,000 years. When orbital and axial precession line up so that NH summers are the coolest and winters the warmest this is what, in part, appears to trigger ice ages and is referred to as the Milankovich cycle.

Dave Springer

If the rest of tediously long bloviating post, Earl, was trying to explain why the earth’s average temperature is warmest when it’s farthest from the sun you get a great big huge FAIL because the reason is simple – continentality and only takes a paragraph to explain. Maybe you should stick to growing grapes and leave the science to others.

Dave Springer

Sensor operator says:
October 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm
“And this is the reason people are concerned about melting ice caps/glaciers. It takes a lot of enery (nearly two orders of magnitude) to melt ice to water than it does to warm the water. So, once the ice has melted, it is much easier to warm the water.”
BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT! Wrong.
Ice is a really good insulator. Once the ice is gone that exposed water can give up heat like a mofo on steroids.
This is the reason amateurs and shallow thinkers should not speculate about what it means for the arctic ice cap to melt. The more that melts the slower futher melting proceeds due to the fact that tropical heat carried to the pole through oceanic conveyor belt can escape much more rapidly through open surface water versus ice covered water.

Dave Springer

Steven Kopits says:
October 6, 2011 at 11:29 am
“This should have been editted prior to posting.”
There wouldn’t have been anything left to post in that case.

u.k.(us)

Dave Springer says:
October 6, 2011 at 4:24 pm
“This is the reason amateurs and shallow thinkers should not speculate about what it means for the arctic ice cap to melt”
=========
Back up this comment with data.
Right now.

Philip Bradley

The $164,000 question is what is causing cloud cover to rise and fall on decadal and centennial time scales.
Indeed. Clouds are the elephant in the climate room.
Small changes in cloud cover would swamp any effect from GHG forcings.
Erl, I would look for evidence of changes in cloud cover leading temperature changes. This will demonstrate clouds are not exclusively a feedback.
And I assume you are familiar with Svensmark’s work.

Dave Springer

u.k.(us) says:
October 6, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Dave Springer says:
October 6, 2011 at 4:24 pm
“This is the reason amateurs and shallow thinkers should not speculate about what it means for the arctic ice cap to melt”
=========
Back up this comment with data.
Right now.

As you wish:
National Snow and Ice Data Center okay with you as a reference?
http://nsidc.org/seaice/environment/global_climate.html

Heat Exchange
During winter, the Arctic’s atmosphere is very cold. In comparison, the ocean is much warmer. The sea ice cover separates the two, preventing heat in the ocean from warming the overlying atmosphere. This insulating effect is another way that sea ice helps to keep the Arctic cold. But heat can escape rather efficiently from areas of thin ice and especially from leads and polynyas, small openings in the ice cover. Roughly half of the total exchange of heat between the Arctic Ocean and the atmosphere occurs through openings in the ice. With more leads and polynyas, or thinner ice, the sea ice cannot efficiently insulate the ocean from the atmosphere. The Arctic atmosphere then warms, which, in turn influences the global circulation of the atmosphere.

Dave Springer

Arctic sea ice works just like a thermostat in an automotive water-cooling system.
Water is heated by the engine block and ciculated to a radiator by a water pump. The thermostat is a passive device that restricts the flow of water from engine block to radiator. As the water gets hotter the thermostat opens wider allowing more water to flow to the radiator.
In the ocean the water is heated in the tropics and circulated to the pole by convection. Sea ice serves as insulation between the ocean and atmosphere. Where the ice is thick the heat from the tropics can’t escape through the atmosphere to space as quickly as where the ice is thin. So basically what happens is the tropical current eventually melts the ice from beneath and once the ice is gone it quickly cools down, sinks, and returns to the tropics. The increased rate of cooling of course decreases the amount of heat in the system which then allows the ice to return. This is just one of many other negative feedback systems that serve as a thermostat to regulate the earth’s temperature inside the friendly-to-life range it has had for billions of years.

TomRude

@ Jim Lindsay, in a previous discussion Erl Happ claimed he understood Leroux’s work. This post demonstrates he did not and he keeps rehashing old concepts as pointed out. It is annoying especially when he is not unaware –like you were- that someone else had done the real work, compiled all the data and generated a coherent picture of tropospheric circulation, first over tropical Africa for his PhD published by the WMO and then in subsequent university text books and papers. “It is in Man’s nature to err, but only the fool persists in his fault” Cicero.
@ Bob Tisdale, FYI, I don’t. But let’s recognize that these discussions would be grandly more educated if his books were more widely read.

eyesonu

Erl, thanks for the post. As usual I will need to read it a couple of times as you offer a lot to digest. I’m a slow learner, but a good one, and I hope that others more knowledgable than me will seriously evaluate the concepts that you present. It would be a shame to ‘miss the boat’ over a few details if that is the case.
I am somewhat skeptical of everyone and everything. I hope to see a lot of discussion on the atmospheric issues that you have presented in this post and others previously.
As for the poem, my brain was then needing a break. Involved concepts. Much to ponder.

eyesonu

Erl, please give a good source of info on the night jet flow. In a previous post you directed me to Columbia University I believe. Unless I missed it, there was not much of an explanation that I was looking for. I’m a little behind, but catching up.

Eric Barnes

Great post Erl. A lot to digest.
Thanks!

I am using a data-driven approach and modeling from first principles to see how far I can get in duplicating changes in our environment. I made a start in the link on my handle, but I am working it again from scratch with everything documented in a series of blog posts at http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com/
My initial thrust is getting the CO2 rise well explained. I use a first-principles derivation for the CO2 diffusional sequestration described here:
1. http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com/2011/09/derivation-of-maxent-diffusion-applied.html
2. http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com/2011/09/missing-carbon.html
of which I applied it to fossil fuel emissions and modeled the Mauna Loa rise here with a convolution-based approach:
3. http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com/2011/09/fat-tail-impulse-response-of-co2.html
The only adaptable parameters were baseline CO2, which I took as 290 PPM and a single parameter disordered diffusion coefficient.
What I also gather is that some of the CO2 rise is caused by a warming of the global temperatures, which I documented here with a control-systems-based proportional-derivative model:
4. http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com/2011/09/sensitivity-of-global-temperature-to.html
After identifying a convincing cross-correlation, I measured that the rate of change of CO2 concentration with temperature anomaly is about 1 PPM per degree change.
Since we have reliable temperature records from as far back as 1850, I could integrate the temperature anomaly and estimate the CO2 rise forcing function due to positive temperature feedback effects.
This time I modeled an impulse response function which matched the IPCC Bern CC/TAR standard (http://unfccc.int/resource/brazil/carbon.html) very accurately.
The results are documented in this post from last night:
5. http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com/2011/10/temperature-induced-co2-release-adds-to.html
So I used a single parameter that matches the standard IPCC impulse response and a single parameter for the baseline CO2, 290 PPM. Everything else is data driven or comes from solid first-principles physics modeling (i.e. Fokker-Planck, convolution, conservation of matter). The leap that I made in the latest model is that I assume that an elevated global temperature anomaly will cause a continuous outgassing of CO2, following Henry’s Law and until the ocean catches up with the temperature. Since the ocean is slow to respond, the CO2 releases corresponding to the temperature change and stays in the atmosphere for the adjustment time just as fossil fuel emissions do.
good luck

Paul Vaughan

Tip for everyone:
Google “Thermal Wind”.

George E. Smith;

Well I’m happy to learn that the sun doesn’t have anything to do with it; and we know that’s right, because we are coldest when we are closest to the sun.
So now what were those cloud types again that warm up the surface ? Given an average surface Temperature of 288 K, and a normal (standard) atmosphere Temperature lapse rate, it is reasonable to believe that any cloud type at any altitude would have a global average Temperature that is lower than 288 K.
Of course nothing stops EM radiation from travelling from the coldest cloud to the warmest surface; or vice versa; but given the other thermal processes of conduction and convection that tend to propagate heat ONLY in the upward direction (global average), it seems odd that the clouds could actually warm the ground, rather than the ground warming the clouds.
But it is reassuring to learn that incoming sunlight is not invloved in this effect; well or to learn NOTHING about any effect it MIGHT have.

David Falkner

Peter says:
October 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm
As Charles Nelson says, the southern hemisphere has less land than the northern hemisphere, and water has to be much more reflective of sunlight than earth at all angles, but especially so at any angle less than 90°.
If the sun was beating down on the ocean at a 90° angle, it would not hit the surface of the ocean at 90°. The ocean is not flat.

George E. Smith;

“”””” jorgekafkazar says:
October 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm
Peter says: “As Charles Nelson says, the southern hemisphere has less land than the northern hemisphere, and water has to be much more reflective of sunlight than earth at all angles, but especially so at any angle less than 90°.”
The emissivity of ocean water is about .993 which is very close to an ideal emitter. That suggests that its absorptivity is also very close to 1.0. Unless you can cite some actual contrary data, I suspect you’ve been misled, somehow. “””””
Well there is NO way that ocean water can have an emissivity of 0.993.
Water has an average Refractive index of around 1.333. From that it is trivial to calculate the normal reflection coefficient [(N-1)/(N+1)]^2 = 0.02 (2%)
It s equally trivial to compute the Brewster Angle = arctan (N2/N1) = 53 degrees for refraction from air into water. The Brewster angle is important, because the polarisation with the electric vector in the plane of incidence goes to zero there, and the component normal to the plane of incidence about doubles. The net result is that the total reflectance remains fairly constant at its normal value (2%) up to the Brewster angle, and then climbs rapidly to 100% at 90 deg incidence, or at the critical angle for incidence from the water side.
So cetainly as far as any energy from the sun is concerned the water emissivity cannot be greater than 0.98, and over the full hemisphere of incidence, it averages about 0.97.
The result for LWIR emissions from the water surface, may be different. The water absorptance is certainly very high; so it is a near black body absorber and emitter; But the emissivity is a function of reflectance; not absorptance.

RR Kampen

“Its radiation is 7% weaker in July than in January. Strangely, near surface air temperature for the Earth as a whole is 3.3°C warmer in July than in January. Yes, the surface is warmest when the Earth is furthest from the sun!”
Strangely, too, most of earth’s landmass lies on the northern hemisphere. Could this have something to do with it?

Kelvin Vaughan

The surface temperature response is due to the disappearance of the cloud, not back radiation. Oops.
Just a thought. Would carbon dioxide that has absorbed radiation convect upwards in the atmosphere?