Guest essay by Dr. Tim Ball
In order to make their hypothesis that human CO2 is causing global warming work, a small group at or associated with the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) used the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to ignore or rewrite data, create false mechanisms, misuse science and the scientific method. One sign of malfeasance is if the claim is made from computer model output. A second sign is a design to overthrow an existing explanation without adequate proof it is inadequate. An almost guaranteed sign is a combination of both. They are aided and abetted by people acting for a variety of reasons but rarely with understanding of climatology. Usually they study one part of the complex, dynamic, open system that is global climate out of context.
Challenging Existing Monsoon Theory
Two recent articles by Willis Eschenbach here and here speak to the massive energy transfer from the surplus region of the atmosphere to the deficit region (See Figure 1(A). Even a small change in this energy transfer swamps a human caused CO2 warming signal. Monsoons are a major part of that transfer. They also cause scientific and therefore political grief for the IPCC and their associates. Typically, scientific gyrations to avoid identifying anything that challenges the hypothesis only serve to undermine it.
The traditional explanation of monsoons is provided later in this article and centres on differential heating of land and water. A 2008 article by Tapio Schneider and Simona Bordoni proposed
“an overhaul of a theory about the cause of the seasonal pattern of heavy winds and rainfall that essentially had held firm for more than 300 years.”
This was achieved as follows.
The duo used a computer-generated, water-covered, hypothetical earth (an “aquaplanet”) to simulate monsoon formation and found that differences in heat capacities between land and sea were not necessary.
They claimed that,
Monsoons arise instead because of an interaction between the tropical circulation and large-scale turbulent eddies generated in the atmosphere in middle latitudes.
This shows inadequate understanding of what is happening because it implies the monsoons are just large scale mid-latitude cyclones. It is like saying a hurricane is a mid-latitude cyclone.
The IPCC And Monsoons
Why are Schneider and Bordoni doing this? The likely answer is the monsoons are major mechanisms in global climate that alone can explain what is wrong with the IPCC climate models and why their predictions (projections) fail. They don’t know how to include them so they try to suggest the traditional explanation is invalid.
Chapter 8 of the IPCC 2007 Report identifies the issues and severe limitations associated with the computer models used to make their projections. It is a litany of why the models don’t work and in stark contradiction to the certainties claimed in the Summary for PolicyMakers (SPM) that guides all governments. The list is long and includes major mechanisms. Omission or inadequacy of understanding of any one would cause model simulation of the atmosphere to fail. Most troubling for them is all of them vary sufficiently annually to swamp any possible human input. Monsoons are just one example.
Many associate the name monsoon with the Indian subcontinent because they are most dramatic and critical to agriculture there. Monsoons, defined as the seasonal reversal of winds and accompanying distinct wet and dry seasons, occur in many other regions. They are a major mechanisms for transferring energy and moisture around the globe, but the IPCC tell us that,
In short, most AOGCMs (Atmosphere – Ocean General Circulation Models) do not simulate the spatial or intra-seasonal variation of monsoon precipitation accurately.
In Chapter 11 another comment underscores the limitations of the models.
Monsoon rainfall simulations and projections vary substantially from model to model, thus we have little confidence in model precipitation projections for northern Australia. More broadly, across the continent summer rainfall projections vary substantially from model to model, reducing confidence in their reliability.
Similar, failures occurred in a study of model predictions of monsoons in Africa. (Waiting For The Monsoon, Science, VOL 313, August 4 2006)
Climate scientists cannot say what has delayed the monsoon this year or whether the delay is part of a larger trend. Nor do they fully understand the mechanisms that govern rainfall over the Sahel. Most frustrating, perhaps, is that their prognostic tools— computer simulations of future climate— disagree on what lies ahead. “The issue of where Sahel climate is going is contentious,” says Alessandra Giannini, a climate scientist at Columbia University. Some models predict a wetter future; others, a drier one. “They cannot all be right.”
The IPCC statement is bizarre. They cannot know if their model simulates the pattern accurately because they don’t have the data to recreate the pattern. The Sahel study explains,
One obvious problem is a lack of data. Africa’s network of 1152 weather watch stations, which provide real-time data and supply international climate archives, is just one-eighth the minimum density recommended by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Furthermore, the stations that do exist often fail to report.
Climate models only have validity if they are verified, but as Vincent Gray pointed out originally and more recently this has never been done with IPCC models. Verification involves the ability to replicate past climate conditions. Tweaking the model until it approximates those conditions is not verification. The conundrum is that without data you cannot create an accurate model or verify it; maybe a classic scientific Catch 22?
Regions of Surplus and Deficit Energy
The role of monsoons in regional and global climate is to move surplus energy to a deficit region. Conditions over the Indian Ocean prior to onset of the Indian Monsoon are ideal for maximum evaporation; water and air temperatures are high and wind blowing toward the land transfer enormous volumes of moisture and latent heat. This is added to the transfer of energy from the global area of surplus to the deficit area. On a global scale the difference is illustrated in (Figure 1 (A) (B)). The cross over point in the two-dimensional diagram becomes a line on the map of zero energy balance (ZEB) that in each hemisphere separates the surplus energy of
the tropical region from the deficit of the polar region.
Figure 1 (A) (B) Source: Smithson, Briggs and Ball
The average latitude of the ZEB in Figure 1(A) is 38°N and 40°S. The hemispheric difference is caused by the different land/water ratio. Figure 1 (B) shows the seasonal shift of the ZEB for the Northern Hemisphere with average latitudes of 65° in summer and 35° in winter. The ZEB is coincident with major climate boundaries such as the snow line, the Polar Front, the Jet Stream, and the northern and southern limits of the Boreal Forest.
Monsoon as Continental Sea and Land Breezes: The Traditional Explanation.
Schneider and Bordoni base their argument for a need for new explanation on the rapidity with which the Monsoon develops and reverses. They imply the major and traditional explanation of differential heating of land and water driving the monsoon wind reversal is implausible. The rate of seasonal change is remarkable and easily exploited as a fear factor among the public who don’t understand or never see the numbers involved in any natural phenomenon. For example, Few know that every summer approximately 10 million square kilometres of Arctic sea ice melt in approximately 145 days – a rate of approximately 69,000 square kilometres every day, an area larger than West Virginia.
This is the same mechanism of differential heating that creates the 24 hour cycle of wind reversals near water known as Sea and Land breezes. Land heats and cools more easily and rapidly than water. During the day the land heats more than nearby water creating Low pressure. Air pressure over the cooler water is a relative High pressure, so wind blows from the water to the land – a Sea breeze. At night the reverse occurs as the land cools more rapidly, the pressure pattern reverses and the wind reverses creating a Land breeze.
The Asian monsoon is a form of Sea/Land breeze on an annual and continental scale that combines with imbalance of global energy to create a massive horizontal
movement of energy and moisture (Figure 2)
Figure 2: General schematic of monsoonal wind directions.
Source; The author.
During the winter central Asia cools creating high pressure relative to the warmth and low pressure over the Indian Ocean. Dry air blows out of central Asia and is heated significantly adiabatically as it descends from the Tibetan Plateau. It blows across the Indian subcontinent and surrounding areas as a very hot, dry desiccating wind (Blue arrows). This makes the summer monsoon so important because soil moisture is reduced to the wilting point and is usually insufficient for seed germination.
In the summer central Asia warms rapidly and low pressure forms relative to the high pressure over the Indian Ocean. Warm wet winds blow toward Asia that create heavy rain through daily buildup of convective clouds or even heavier rain when orographically lifted by first the Ghat Mountains then more dramatically by the Himalaya Mountains (Red arrows). Data for Cherrapunji (approximately located near the “Low” in Figure 2) illustrates the impact. Precipitation records for 1971-1990 show July the wettest month with 3,272 mm and January the driest with 11 mm.
Inadequate Data Guarantees Inadequate Understanding
A factor in the monsoon is the relationship of the ZEB with the Polar Front and the Jet stream. It is another climate mechanisms about which little is known. As recently as 2001 Wang noted;
“It was pointed out some decades ago that the jet stream migration was a prominent phenomenon associated with the seasonal change of the general circulation. It was also noted that there have (sic) two stages of the jet stream migration within the system of the Asian monsoon. However, the relationship of jet stream migration and the onset of the Asian summer monsoon are not that clear.”
Normally it moves north of the Himalayas by the end of May. If it is delayed, such as apparently can occur with an El Nino, the monsoon flow of air to the interior of Asia is delayed. People climbing Mt Everest know the season is determined by when the Jet stream moves north and climbing becomes possible.
Things the Schneider/Bordoni article illustrate beyond the determination to validate the IPCC hypothesis are; inadequacy of the data; very limited understanding of the major mechanisms of weather and climate; and the continued political nature of climate science. The latter involves manufacturing the science to prove the IPCC/CRU hypothesis that human CO2 is virtually the sole cause of warming and climate change.