Expanding tropics pushing high altitude clouds towards poles, NASA study finds

From the NASA/GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER and the “30 year trends don’t mean much if we’ve never observed them before” department comes this interesting study.

The Hadley cells describe how air moves through the tropics on either side of the equator. They are two of six major air circulation cells on Earth. Credits: NASA

The Hadley cells describe how air moves through the tropics on either side of the equator. They are two of six major air circulation cells on Earth. Credits: NASA

A new NASA analysis of 30-years of satellite data suggests that a previously observed trend of high altitude clouds in the mid-latitudes shifting toward the poles is caused primarily by the expansion of the tropics.

Clouds are among the most important mediators of heat reaching Earth’s surface. Where clouds are absent, darker surfaces like the ocean or vegetated land absorb heat, but where clouds occur their white tops reflect incoming sunlight away, which can cause a cooling effect on Earth’s surface. Where and how the distribution of cloud patterns change strongly affects Earth’s climate. Understanding the underlying causes of cloud migration will allow researchers to better predict how they may affect Earth’s climate in the future.

George Tselioudis, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University in New York City, was interested in which air currents were shifting clouds at high altitude – between about three and a half and six miles high – toward the poles.

The previous suggested reason was that climate change was shifting storms and the powerful air currents known as the jet streams – including the one that traverses the United States – toward the poles, which in turn were driving the movement of the clouds.

To see if that was the case, Tselioudis and his colleagues analyzed the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project data set, which combines cloud data from operational weather satellites, including those run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to provide a 30-year record of detailed cloud observations. They combined the cloud data with a computer re-creation of Earth’s air currents for the same period driven by multiple surface observations and satellite data sets.

What they discovered was that the poleward shift of the clouds, which occurs in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, connected more strongly with the expansion of the tropics, defined by the general circulation Hadley cell, than with the movement of the jets.

The Hadley cell is one of the major ways air is moved around the planet. Existing in both hemispheres, it starts when air in the tropics, which is heated at the surface by intense sunlight, warms and rises. At high altitudes it is pushed away from the equator towards the mid-latitudes to the north and south, then it begins to sink back to Earth’s surface, closing the loop.

“What we find, and other people have found it as well, is that the sinking branch of the Hadley cell, as the climate warms, tends to be moving poleward,” said Tselioudis. “It’s like you’re making the tropical region bigger.” And that expansion causes the tropical air currents to blow into the high altitude clouds, pushing them toward the poles, he said. The results were published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

Scientists are working to understand exactly why the tropics are expanding, which they believe is related to a warming climate.

The poleward shift of high altitude clouds affects how much sunlight reaches Earth’s surface because when they move, they reveal what’s below.

“It’s like pulling a curtain,” said Tselioudis. And what tends to be revealed depends on location – which in turn affects whether the surface below warms or not.

“Sometimes when that curtain is pulled, as in the case over the North Atlantic ocean in the winter months, this reduces the overall cloud cover” in the lower mid-latitudes, the temperate regions outside of the tropics, Tselioudis said. The high altitude clouds clear to reveal dark ocean below – which absorbs incoming sunlight and causes a warming effect.

However, in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, the high altitude clouds usually clear out of the way to reveal lower altitude clouds below – which continue to reflect sunlight from their white tops, causing little effect on the solar radiation reaching the surface.

When the results are taken together, the bottom line is that the cloud interactions with atmospheric circulation and solar radiation are complicated, and the tropical circulation appears to play a dominant role, said Tselioudis.

That information is a new insight that will likely be used by the climate modeling community, including the scientists who contribute modeling expertise to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said Lazaros Oreopoulos, a cloud and radiation budget researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who was not involved in the study. Climate modelers aim for their computer simulations to correspond as closely to reality as possible in order to reliably predict Earth’s future climate.

“If current behavior is not well simulated, then confidence in predicted future behavior will be lower,” Oreopoulos said. “I anticipate this study to be looked at carefully and affect thinking on these matters.”

###

Read the paper at Geophysical Research Letters: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016GL068242/abstract

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130 thoughts on “Expanding tropics pushing high altitude clouds towards poles, NASA study finds

      • Hilarious comment…high cloud has a warming effect!!!
        (you should always put ‘sarc’ after though, to clarify that you’re not an actual idiot)

      • Maybe, maybe not, the models do clouds poorly.

        I could not get the paper but this intrigues me…
        =================
        “What we find, and other people have found as well, is that the sinking branch of the Hadley cell, as the climate warms, tends to be moving poleward,”
        =================
        Some questions for those with the entire paper…

        What was the period of study?
        Did this observation stop during the time of the pause?
        Did the observation reverse during years we cooled?
        How does this relate to loopy jet streams, which have happened in the past?
        What possible causes, other then global warming, were considered?
        Does this observation accelerate movement of heat poleward, and radiation to space from altitude?
        As the SH has barely warmed, was the observation reduced in the S.H.?

      • Sure it does sweetie.
        Everyone knows that you get burnt to a crisp on a cloudy day. The cloudier it is the hotter it gets. Clear skies on a sunny day will make you want to rug-up in your winter woolies

      • Alex on May 6, 2016 at 1:06 am

        Sure it does sweetie.
        Everyone knows that you get burnt to a crisp on a cloudy day. The cloudier it is the hotter it gets.
        _______________________________________

        And I’ve had enough cloudless night shifts you can grasp from the Windows car tops and wind shields getting frosted directed at the background radiation of -270 C.

      • And that’s the practical solution :

        when the parking slots near the building – that can block wind and radiate warmth – are occupied then search for a place where you can park rear higher than Front.

        Every 2° rear elevation lowers windshild incline to cold night sky by that 2°. And spares minutes of wind shield scratching in the morning.

      • Johann
        I’m not sure I could really understand you. I think you are trying to tell me that clear sky nights are colder than cloudy nights. I must say that what you discovered is a testament to your observational skills. Perhaps you missed a minor point that I omitted. I was referring to daytime (that is when you have that strange orange thing glowing in the sky)

      • ” I was referring to daytime”
        Most of the sky during the day is still cold. I think about the worse was real hot, hazy, humid clear days still being 0F, -10F, 10F, while air temps are in or near 90F.
        It’s hot only towards the Sun.
        That one reason the arctic ocean cools the oceans, only a fraction of the day is the Sun overhead, and more than 15-20 degrees above the horizon, rest of the day it’s cooling to space if there aren’t any clouds.

      • high cloud has a warming effect.

        1st question, …… warming effect on what? The Flying Spaghetti Monster?

        Iffen its warming effect on near-surface temperatures, then ….

        Iffen during day time, high clouds retard near-surface warming.

        Iffen during night time, high clouds retard near-surface cooling.

        And the density of the “high cloud cover” will determine the degree of warming/cooling.

      • Samuel
        Don’t you start. I thought I was in the Twilight Zone with Johann’s comment

      • toneb parrots a simplistic view of clouds not supported in the literature. Cloud science is still a very immature area of study. For example, high clouds also encounter sulfuric acid aerosols. Without even forming typical rain clouds, rain can fall. I know because I have stood under a hazy high cap of clouds with dust blown into them, with rain falling on my head. Folks in dry high desert and plains environments call this cloudless rain. Some languages have a name for this rain. And just as many climate scientists dismiss it. Regardless, water vapor that rises and then forms water droplets (around the dust particle?), releases latent heat energy which floats up and away while the water droplet falls to the Earth. So, if it just so happens that those high clouds get seeded, toneb’s proposal will be falsified. And that is just one example of why a blanket statement of high clouds causing warming is immature.

        http://www.theweatherprediction.com/habyhints/19/

        http://www.dictionary.com/browse/serein

        http://isccp.giss.nasa.gov/role.html

      • Yes it is those noctilucent wisps that are causing all the global warming mayhem.

        But Nope, warming effect CAUSES high altitude clouds; NOT the other way round.

        G

      • C’mon readers !

        When a cloud passes in front of the sun; that mean’s between the sun and the observer (YOU), haven’t you noticed the sudden burst of …. WARMTH …. that hits you right when it goes darker; proving incontrovertibly that heat and light both travel at the speed of electromagnetic radiation.

        And the lower that cloud is the hotter is that stifling blast of warmth !

        Or are you so engrossed in your finger toys, that you don’t even notice clouds passing by any more ??

        G

        How do these modellers get away with claiming that high clouds warm, and higher clouds warm warmer yet.

        Just think: The HIGHER the cloud is, the COLDER the cloud is. the LOWER DENSITY the cloud is The LESS EM RADIATION the cloud can capture from ANYWHERE at all, coming down or going up, and the LESS LWIR EM radiation it can emit either up or down or both.

        Yes it’s the noctilucents that are literally frying the planet ! Pull my other leg.

      • http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Clouds/
        High Clouds
        “The high, thin cirrus clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere act in a way similar to clear air because they are highly transparent to shortwave radiation (their cloud albedo forcing is small), but they readily absorb the outgoing longwave radiation………. The overall effect of the high thin cirrus clouds then is to enhance atmospheric greenhouse warming.”

        from the abstract
        Midlatitude cloud shifts, their primary link to the Hadley cell, and their diverse radiative effects

        “While in that region and season poleward high cloud shifts are associated with shortwave radiative warming, over the Southern Oceans during all seasons they are associated with shortwave radiative cooling.”

        Tropical IRIS EFFECT ???

      • Toneb
        May 5, 2016 at 11:13 pm

        Nope, high cloud has a warming effect.
        ———————-
        Toneb

        Your “Nope”….belongs with the “nopes” … How do you suppose the Ice builds up in the polar regions if the moisture and the humidity have to travel to that place in the first for it all to happen!……….
        Cooling means that the variation of temps between tropics and the polar regions increases, therefore increasing the amount of moisture and humidity traveling to the poles and turning in to ice….is very simple actually.
        Ether moisture stands mostly “around” and does not make it to the poles in enough “quantities” and there will be a lush and green Sahara, or will tend to mostly move towards the poles (if condition right) and be turned in to ice and Sahara happens to be a dry and a desert place at that period…… All depends in the actual temp variation between the tropics and the polar regions…..and that one (the temp variation between tropics and polar regions) only increases during a cooling trend or a cooling period…..and decreases during a warming trend or a warming period……….
        In a cooling trend or a cooling period the moisture and the humidity increases in the polar regions and the moisture and humidity in most of the area in between the tropics and polar regions decreases……

        Thanks for your dry nope………Is easy to say “nope” but that means no much actually…..

        Cheers

      • “The high, thin cirrus clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere act in a way similar to clear air because they are highly transparent to shortwave radiation…”

        Water vapour and ice has some fairly large absorption bands in the near infrared.

      • “Water vapour and ice has some fairly large absorption bands in the near infrared.”

        The net effect is a positive warming

        https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071102152636.htm

        2007 Cirrus Disappearance: Warming Might Thin Heat-trapping Clouds

        “Instead of creating more clouds, individual tropical warming cycles that served as proxies for global warming saw a decrease in the coverage of heat-trapping cirrus clouds, says Dr. Roy Spencer”

        “All leading climate models forecast that as the atmosphere warms there should be an increase in high altitude cirrus clouds, which would amplify any warming caused by manmade greenhouse gases,” he said. “That amplification is a positive feedback. What we found in month-to-month fluctuations of the tropical climate system was a strongly negative feedback. As the tropical atmosphere warms, cirrus clouds decrease. That allows more infrared heat to escape from the atmosphere to outer space.”

        This is current study is supportive of Spencers observations from
        GRLS Cloud and radiation budget changes associated with tropical intraseasonal oscillations

      • Hey guys – just come back to see the replies to my simple one line reporting of a climate fact.
        Amazing.
        Better than I’d hoped.
        Oh, and whatever you said….
        If you say so.

      • “The high, thin cirrus clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere act in a way similar to clear air because they are highly transparent to shortwave radiation (their cloud albedo forcing is small), but they readily absorb the outgoing longwave radiation. Like clear air, cirrus clouds absorb the Earth’s radiation and then emit longwave, infrared radiation both out to space and back to the Earth’s surface. Because cirrus clouds are high, and therefore cold, the energy radiated to outer space is lower than it would be without the cloud (the cloud greenhouse forcing is large). The portion of the radiation thus trapped and sent back to the Earth’s surface adds to the shortwave energy from the sun and the longwave energy from the air already reaching the surface. The additional energy causes a warming of the surface and atmosphere. The overall effect of the high thin cirrus clouds then is to enhance atmospheric greenhouse warming.”

        http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Clouds/

      • Re: Toneb’s “Nope, high cloud has a warming effect.”

        I left a hand-waving discussion below at 11:41 am and 12:04 pm, but here’s some numbers in defense of Toneb’s statement:
        1(a) An updated Kiehl & Trenberth energy budget diagram is available at https://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/an-update-to-kiehl-and-trenberth-1997 .

        (b) The left side of this diagram shows that 102 W/m^2 of an incoming 341.3 W/m^2 is reflected back to space. Therefore the Bond albedo is 102/341.3 = 0.30, consistent with the literature.

        (c) Therefore at energy balance 1369(0.70)/4 = 240 W/m^2 must be the average flux of infrared (IR) escaping at the Top Of the Atmosphere (TOA), taken to be effectively at 70 km altitude. The factor of 4 comes from the fact that the incoming Solar Insolation of 1369 W/m^2 is for a circular cross-section of the Earth, whereas the IR emitted is from the surface of a sphere, which is 4 times the circular cross-section.

        (d) The 102 W/m^2 is the total for 79 W/m^2 reflected form “clouds and atmosphere” and 23 W/m^2 reflected from the surface. The ratio of reflections is then 79:23 = 3.43:1 .

        (e) Cloud cover is about 62% of the Earth’s surface [see http://vixra.org/pdf/1104.0013v1.pdf ]; this is similar to the estimate in John McLean’s paper available at
        http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=50837#.VFKDDTSsWSp .

        (f) If x is the Bond albedo for the surface, and y is the Bond albedo for “clouds and atmosphere”, then for 62% cloud cover, the Bond albedos must mean
        0.38x + 0.62y = 0.30
        and from 1(d), 0.62y/0.38x = 3.43/1 so that y = 3.43(.38/.62)x = 2.10x. On substitution for y,
        1.683x = 0.30
        x = 0.30/1.683 = 0.18 and y = 2.10x = 0.37 .

        (g) Note that the surface albedo of 0.18 is comparable to that of the Moon (around 0.12 or 0.14).

        2(a) For a cloudless surface at the Earth’s mean temperature of 288.2 K, the TOA outgoing flux is about 260 W/m^2, as shown in the MODTRAN computed spectrum at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiative_forcing .

        (b) Therefore if x represents the TOA outgoing flux from clouds,
        0.38(260) + 0.62x = 240 since the total TOA flux is 240 W/m^2 [see Point 1(c)]
        x = 141.2/0.62 = 228 W/m^2

        (c) There are two potentially opposing consequences of replacing cloudless surface by reflective cloud on the average incoming 341.3 W/m^2:
        (1) The difference in Bond albedos is 0.37 – 0.18 = 0.19 [see Point 1(f)]
        Therefore replacing a small 1% of surface which is cloudless by reflective cloud will decrease the incoming Solar radiation absorbed at the surface by 1(341.3)(0.19)/100 = 0.65 W/m^2.
        This would result in COOLING.

        (2) Because the TOA emission from clouds is only 228 W/m^2 on average, there will be a decrease in the outgoing total TOA emissions by 1(260-228)/100 = 0.32 W/m^2, and this would result in WARMING (at energy balance).

        (d) We see that the NET result is COOLING by 0.65 – 0.32 = 0.33 W/m^2 for a 1% change in area from cloudless to average cloud. This can be converted to degrees by multiplying by the conversion factor 0.188 [derivation available on request].

        3.(a) Now consider the emission from an opaque 210 K thunderstorm anvil, assuming its albedo is still 0.37, so that calculation 2(c)(1) remains unchanged. However, the Stefan-Boltzmann law for a 210 K black body with emissivity 1 gives as IR emission 5.67 x 10^-8 x (210)^4 = 110 W/m^2. Ignoring the single digit W/m^2 extra emission from 220 K CO2 and ozone at their band frequencies, this means the decrease in outgoing TOA emission would be by 1(260-110)/100 = 1.50 W/m^2, and this would result in WARMING (at energy balance).
        The NET result is WARMING by 1.50 – 0.65 = 0.85 W/m^2 . So high clouds are warming.

        (b) This effect is even more pronounced if the temperature at the top of the anvil cloud is even lower, say, 190 K (where the Stefan-Boltzmann law gives emission at 74 W/m^2, assuming emissivity 1).

        (c) It has been argued that the high cirrus clouds are made of ice crystals which are transparent to visible radiation (implying albedo is close to zero) and opaque to IR (emissivity 1 in the Stefan-Boltzmann law). This would make the effect even more pronounced. Yet when I look up at cirrus clouds, they appear thinner (and therefore covering less of the sky than similarly spread-out cumulus clouds), but the same whiteness as cumulus clouds (implying that the albedos are similar). Whatever the truth of the albedo of ice crystals in cirrus clouds, the argument about high clouds being warming for the Earth overall still holds. Of course, the actual total area of the Earth’s surface covered by cirrus and thunderstorm anvil clouds is small compared to cumulus clouds in the lower troposphere, as any satellite photo of cloud cover shows, and as I explained in my hand-waving arguments earlier.

      • “””””….. mike

        May 6, 2016 at 11:15 am

        http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Clouds/
        High Clouds …..”””””

        High Clouds are VISIBLE. That’s why they are called CLOUDS, and not vapor.

        Visible CLOUDS are ” visible” BECAUSE they scatter (via multiply refractive focusing, and deflecting) VISIBLE “Solar spectrum short wave EM radiant energy in the 0.25 to 4.0 microns solar spectrum.

        LWIR thermal radiation as emitted from the earth surface IS NOT VISIBLE.

        Ergo those high clouds ARE scatter reflecting plenty of direct solar spectrum EM radiant energy, back into space. It’s a major contributor to ALBEDO which is return of AOLAR SPECTRUM radiation and nothing to do with LWIR thermal radiation.

        NASANOA says that earth has 60% cloud cover, which provides most of the 0.35 or whatever it is earth ALBEDO.

        On the other hand LWIR Thermal radiant energy from the earth surface, is NOT reflected from the bottoms of those H2O clouds.

        It is absorbed pretty much totally in the first 5-10 microns thickness of the water droplets or ice crystals.

        And then it is reradiated as THERMAL LWIR radiation, at even longer wavelengths, because those high altitude clouds are way colder than the mean earth surface Temperature; maybe -40 deg. C

        And that re radiation is isotropic, so half of it goes out to space, and never returns to earth, and its radiant intensity is way down because of the lower temperature.

        So Nyet of high clouds warming.

        G

      • Science Daily 2007 Cirrus Disappearance: Warming Might Thin Heat-trapping Clouds
        “Instead of creating more clouds, individual tropical warming cycles that served as proxies for global warming saw a decrease in the coverage of heat-trapping cirrus clouds, says Dr. Roy Spencer. ”

        “All leading climate models forecast that as the atmosphere warms there should be an increase in high altitude cirrus clouds, which would amplify any warming caused by manmade greenhouse gases,” he said. “That amplification is a positive feedback. What we found in month-to-month fluctuations of the tropical climate system was a strongly negative feedback. As the tropical atmosphere warms, cirrus clouds decrease. That allows more infrared heat to escape from the atmosphere to outer space.”

        This new study is basically a confirmation of the observations in Spencer et al 2007
        Cloud and radiation budget changes associated with tropical intraseasonal oscillations

      • Response to: george e. smith – May 6, 2016 at 3:52 pm

        You tell them George E …….. cause me studders too much.

        And the next time you be sure to tell them that there is a gigantic difference between measuring the quantity of absorbed thermal IR energy (temperature F, C or K) of a physical entity ……. verses ….. satellites measuring the quantity of thermal IR energy (W/m^2) that is radiating unopposed through earth’s atmosphere.

        Satellites can “see” a small “space window” of IR radiation (W/m^2) …….. but it is impossible for the satellites to “see” the actual source of the IR radiation (W/m^2) ……… and any claims to the contrary is simply “junk science”.

      • mike
        May 6, 2016 at 12:57 pm
        “The net effect is a positive warming”
        From your link:
        “Spencer said. With high altitude ice clouds their infrared heat trapping exceeds their solar shading effect.”

        Looks like he has overlooked the solar near infrared absorption as well.

      • BBC ‘Heat vent’ may diminish global warming
        “With warmer sea surface temperatures beneath the cloud, the coalescence process that produces precipitation becomes more efficient,” explained Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

        “More of the cloud droplets form raindrops and fewer are left in the cloud to form ice crystals. As a result, the area of cirrus cloud is reduced.”

        Clouds play a critical and complicated role in regulating the temperature of the Earth. Thick, bright, watery clouds like cumulus shield the atmosphere from incoming solar radiation by reflecting much of it back into space.

        Thin, icy cirrus clouds are poor sunshields but very efficient insulators that trap energy rising from the Earth’s warmed surface. A decrease in cirrus cloud area would have a cooling effect by allowing more heat energy, or infrared radiation, to leave the planet. ”

        does this guy also need your “help” ? Lindzen Spencer and Tselioudis either observed and/or modeled a reduction in Cirrus clouds in the tropics They for the most partagree on the properties of cirrus clouds their conclusions about the effects may differ .

        How about this guy?

        willis wuwt Cooling and Warming, Clouds and Thunderstorms

        “Modification of upper tropospheric ice crystal cloud amounts (Lindzen 2001, Spencer 2007) . These clouds form from the tiny ice particles that come out the top of the smokestack of the thunderstorm heat engines. It appears that the varying amounts of this type of clouds has a large radiative effect, as they are thought to warm (through IR absorption) more than they cool (through reflection).”

      • rogertaguchi you have a flaw in your numbers. Earth’s surface has a much lower albedo than the Moon or Mars. 2/3 of the surface is ocean and that has an albedo under 0.04 leaving only around 1/3 to have albedo values similar to other bodies. Thinking back a bit, I seem to recall the overall surface albedo coming in at around 0.08 which is a fraction overall 0.32 albedo since it’s a 62 % typical cloud cover.

      • @ mike May 7, 2016 at 10:07 am

        I’m talking about absorption of solar near infrared, not reflection of the visible spectrum.

      • Read the following very carefully; it is a lot harder than quantum mechanics or string theory, so it will be somewhat difficult to grasp.
        H2O, aka water, has its highest absorption coefficient at 3.0 microns; about 8,000 cm^-1. That translates into a 1/e absorption path length of 1.25 microns.
        So yes that does mean that clouds (ANY clouds) will strongly absorb 3 micron solar radiation.

        The spectral radiant intensity of solar radiation at 3.0 microns is 1.5% of the peak radiance at 500 nm, so not much of that strongly absorbed solar energy.
        Water also has a peak at 2.0 microns. That absorption coefficient is 80 cm^-1, 100 times smaller than the 3 micron peak. and the amount of 2 micron solar radiation intensity is 7% of the 500nm peak . There’s another peak at 1.0 microns, about 60 cm^-1, and the intensity is about 70%0f the peak.
        The next water band is about 4.5 microns with absorption coefficient of 800 cm^-1 so it takes 12.5 microns for 1/e, but solar intensity is only 0.3% of peak value.

        So yes clouds; ANY clouds, DO absorb some of the near IR part of the incoming solar energy.

        So now here comes the tricky part; I know this is hard to believe but it really is true.

        IF incoming solar energy at near IR frequencies IS absorbed by water and ice in CLOUDS; for some esoteric reason, THAT RADIATION does NOT reach the surface of the earth ; WHICH IS MOSTLY DEEP OCEAN.

        So all of that solar spectrum energy that gets absorbed by clouds IN ADDITION TO that which reflects back out into space, DOES NOT get stored in the deep oceansas part of the earth’s stored heat budget.

        Now if it did reach the ocean surface, it isn’t going to go any deeper than it went in the cloud droplets or ice crystals, so it likely will just evaporate more Water.

        Now the near IR that the clouds capture, will eventually be radiated by the cloud as BB like thermal radiation, since at the temperature of those clouds, the water is pretty much a BB radiator, because of the high absorption of 10-100 micron radiation in water.

        And that re-radiation is isotropic so half of it will head out to space, and only half will head towards the surface as LWIR.

        Do you get the concept?

        IF solar energy gets absorbed by any clouds, high low or whatever, it cannot also reach the surface at solar spectrum frequencies, so that represents a LOSS of solar energy from the earth , which results in SURFACE COOLING.

        Yes I know it is not as simple and general relativity, but it’s not that hard to understand if you think about it.

        Just try asking yourself WHERE is the incoming SOLAR SPECTRUM RADIATION going to end up. and will that COOL, or will that HEAT the EARTH SURFACE.

        G

      • “””””….. Albedo definition – Earth and Space Research

        https://www.esr.org/outreach/glossary/albedo.html

        Albedo is the fraction of solar energy (shortwave radiation) reflected from the Earth back into space. It is a measure of the reflectivity of the earth’s surface. …..”””””

        Could people stop using ” Albedo ” as a synonym for “reflection coefficient”

        The earth has ONLY ONE albedo value, which is about 0.35.

        It is the fraction of SOLAR SPECTRUM radiation that reaches the earth which gets returned to space, by the earth still as solar spectrum radiation.

        It is NOT the reflection coefficient of various earth materials.

        It’s the total fraction of the 1362-6 W/m^2 that reaches the earth from the sun, and is returned immediately (speed of light) to space.

        G

    • We’ve now got a ‘clot’ of Warmists (a good collective noun don’t you think?
      ), arguing that high cloud has a net warming effect.
      In circumstances like these, where The Faith stipulates necessary cause and effect, I always go straight to the facts…and one of the most devastating weapons in any Skeptic’s arsenal has got to be Nullschool Earth.
      Open the program…click on ‘earth’ in the bottom left corner and the menu comes up offering the amazing range of parameters that can be viewed. One of the most useful is ‘height’ as measured in hPa.
      Any Warmist who believes that high cloud has a ‘net warming effect’ merely needs to click on Temp @ say… 250 hPa. The Warmist can then observe (with their own eyes) that the temperature at those heights ranges between MINUS 40˚C over the Equator…to MINUS 70˚C over the Poles.
      Let me put it like this…if ‘high cloud’ has a ‘net warming effect’… it is close to negligible.

      • I’ve been measuring Tsky directly overhead with my IR thermometer, and while my thermometer doesn’t not include ghg forcing (put you can add it back in), it is really cold, 80F to well over 100F colder than my concrete sidewalk under clear skies.
        High clouds lower this difference by 10 to 20 or 30F, while heavy clouds can reduce the difference between Tsky and the ground to 20F to 30F.

      • CN, high cirrus watms because the ice is transparent to visible light but opaque to IR. thatnis a well known part of Lindzens adaptive infrared iris mechanism. Other high cloud types cool from albedo.
        All clouds are not created equal.

      • High cloud, Low cloud. Warmer? Where? High cloud makes it warmer where air is condensing. Not down here where we feel it. Depending on the altitude and some other factors, that warmth could then be transported back down to the surface but I would bet my warmest parts that most of that heat of condensation goes out to space. That’s what clouds principally do. At high altitude the atmosphere becomes quite transparent to long wavelength radiation. Heat that bounces around high in the atmosphere preferentially finds it’s way out!

      • charles:
        “Any Warmist who believes that high cloud has a ‘net warming effect’ merely needs to click on Temp @ say… 250 hPa. The Warmist can then observe (with their own eyes) that the temperature at those heights ranges between MINUS 40˚C over the Equator…to MINUS 70˚C over the Poles.
        Let me put it like this…if ‘high cloud’ has a ‘net warming effect’… it is close to negligible.”

        Would you care to explain how the above in any way answers the question of high cloud being a net warming influence on climate due to the physics of it’s GHE?
        It certainly doesn’t to me and I was a professional meteorologist of 32 years with the UKMO.

        You appear to be conflating the temp of the radiating substance (ice particles in CI cloud) with their ability to absorb and re-reradiate terrestrial LWIR.

        Maybe this may teach you something (though not holding my breathe)……

        “The high, thin cirrus clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere act in a way similar to clear air because they are highly transparent to shortwave radiation (their cloud albedo forcing is small), but they readily absorb the outgoing longwave radiation. Like clear air, cirrus clouds absorb the Earth’s radiation and then emit longwave, infrared radiation both out to space and back to the Earth’s surface. Because cirrus clouds are high, and therefore cold, the energy radiated to outer space is lower than it would be without the cloud (the cloud greenhouse forcing is large). The portion of the radiation thus trapped and sent back to the Earth’s surface adds to the shortwave energy from the sun and the longwave energy from the air already reaching the surface. The additional energy causes a warming of the surface and atmosphere. The overall effect of the high thin cirrus clouds then is to enhance atmospheric greenhouse warming.”

        http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Clouds/

        “if ‘high cloud’ has a ‘net warming effect’… it is close to negligible.””

        Nope, I observed it routinely during my career and indeed had to act on it’s effect in real time in terms of alerting road hazard teams re RST (road surface temp) changes in respect of ice BECAUSE of the appearance/disappearance of Ci cloud.

        You actually could observe it yourself, as it does not require sensitive measuring equipment.
        But, then that would deny you “confirmation bias” eh?

    • Here’s a nursery rhyme for the young at heart:

      As record winds blow
      Unprecedented snow,
      Where is this globe a’warming?

      That depends on the sun,
      The ways oceans run
      And the clouds, in complexity forming!

      CO2 is too small
      To stop temperature’s fall
      When clouds and oceans together,
      Begin to cause cold
      Like the cycles of old
      Which history clearly remembers.

      So if I do some harm
      By just keeping warm,
      You’ll all have to kindly forgive me.
      I see my solution
      Is “carbon pollution”,
      Or the planet will quickly outlive me!

    • “””””….. darker surfaces like the ocean or vegetated land absorb heat, …..”””””

      No they don’t.

      Darker surfaces absorb solar spectrum EM radiant energy, which is NOT heat.

      Now the surfaces MAY absorb “heat” energy (noun) from contact with other hotter bodies, but the biggest concern is what happens to the incoming solar insolation, which is radiant energy.

      And of course most of that radiant energy WILL be converted to HEAT ENERGY but most of that will occur deep in the oceans.

      G

    • “””””……
      Mike Jonas

      May 6, 2016 at 12:24 am

      Maybe not all that hilarious:
      http://www-das.uwyo.edu/~geerts/cwx/notes/chap09/rossow.html
      “high clouds have a net warming effect” …..”””””

      How Many times each day or week is it necessary to tell people who can’t figure it out for themselves, that :

      When you have a HOT HUMID DAY (which means you are getting lots of evaporation from somewhere), you eventually get a SUNSET, and before that a COOLING, and at some altitude, the relative humidity will reach 100% (dew point). Given some sort of substrate, microbes, charged particles dust, aerosols, whatever you will get CONDENSATION; sometimes known as CLOUDS.

      AND; the HOTTER is was during that HOT DAY, the higher altitude will be that dew point (due to the lapse rate), so the HIGHER will be those HIGH ALTITUDE CLOUDS.

      ALSO, the more HUMIDITY there was during that HOT DAY, the more MOISTURE there will be in the air, so that will LOWER the dew point ALTITUDE, and hence the CLOUDS.

      And I’m not going to read any URL that has an …… edu … in it.

      G

      • Your comment relates to clouds, not to high clouds. It so happens that I do not know whether high clouds have a net cooling or a net warming or a net neutral effect. I do understand from multiple sources that clouds overall have a net cooling effect. There seems to be little contra evidence or opinion, and it seems logical, so I am happy to accept that clouds have a net cooling effect. But I have also seen multiple sources that indicate that high clouds may have a net warming effect. Without a lot of investigation, I’m not prepared to reject it or to accept it as true. But it is worth questioning those who state without evidence that high clouds cool – especially those who present arguments along the lines that high clouds are very cold so they can’t have a warming effect (that argument doesn’t wash, because it doesn’t address the mechanisms by which the high clouds might warm or cool), or that when a cloud passes across the sun you can feel its cooling effect (that argument ignores possible opposite night-time effects). So I’m open to evidence on this, and maybe I’ll do some more investigating, but in the meantime I accept the possibility the high clouds may have a net warming effect. If you want me to change my mind, present evidence.

    • Toneb.
      Thanks for your comment, the responses to which proved beyond any shadow of doubt that the science is far from settled. In fact it looks rather like the claim that high cloud has a ‘warming’ effect has been debunked.
      So do feel free to come back any time. We need you for target practice!

      • Thanks – I’d love to Charles.
        So kind.
        As I like to peek into the “Alice in Wonderland” world that is WUWT
        So amusing …. but as in this case it does encourage the odd comment from some one who isn’t ideologically blinkered and/or someone who isn’t just plain anti-science.
        There are some on here (other than me, Leif, Mosher).
        And, do you know?
        Someone or other may just go to the science as a result.
        And not inhabit this netherworld exclusively for it.
        Try using Google Scholar denizens.
        That’s where the real science is.
        But if it makes you happy…..
        Whatever you say my friends.

        BTW: Do you really expect me to believe I can change minds on here?
        Err, no my friend.
        It is all so utterly predicable.
        And if it makes you happy….
        Whatever you say.

      • ” That’s where the real science is.”
        No real science is made with thermometers, weather stations, ir thermometers, 100’s of million surface station records, paying attention to the weather outside (though there aren’t a lot of places that get 3 or 4 seasons over a day or two which is insightful if you pay attention).

      • Toneb: “That’s where the real science is.”

        You’re funny!

        Is your day job stand-up comedy, by any chance?

  1. Finally an attempt to explain the asymmetrical behavior of the poles. Whether correct or not I couldn’t say, but at least they are trying to explain actual observations.

    • Where find asymmetrical behavior ??

      “Poleward” gose in BOTH directions !!

      G

  2. Things are really moving along. Last week alarmists discovered photosynthesis. This week they’ve discovered clouds. What discoveries await us next week?

    • HA, week before last they discovered Hadley Cell movement, ….. to wit:

      Excerpted from article:

      “What we find, and other people have found it as well, is that the sinking branch of the Hadley cell, as the climate warms, tends to be moving poleward,” said Tselioudis. “It’s like you’re making the tropical region bigger.” And that expansion causes the tropical air currents to blow into the high altitude clouds, pushing them toward the poles, he said.

      DUH, does not the sinking branch (end) of the Hadley cell start moving poleward as the seasons per se migrate from “winter to summer” in their respective hemispheres?

      I think they do, …. I think they do, ….. as is evidenced by the seasonal “poleward” migrations of the Jet Streams in their respective hemispheres.

  3. “If current behavior is not well simulated, then confidence in predicted future behavior will be lower,” Oreopoulos said.

    Some of us were already a little low on confidence in the predictions on offer.

    • I believe this man is not stupid.
      He acts as if he has no knowledge of the fact that the GCMs fail badly when it comes to predictions projections guesses.
      He must know the earth’s climate behavior is not well simulated by the models.
      Lowered confidence seems justified, I’d say.

  4. However, in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, the high altitude clouds usually clear out of the way to reveal lower altitude clouds below – which continue to reflect sunlight from their white tops, causing little effect on the solar radiation reaching the surface.

    This sounds like a convenient explanation for why the sea ice extent has been expanding around Antarctica while contracting near the north poll. Is there an explanation for why clouds would behave differently over the Southern Ocean than over the North Atlantic ocean during the 30 years studied?

      • Since they claim little difference in surface insolation, then no, not an explanation for increased SH ice. Cooling SH ocean SST is the simplest explanation.

      • Keep in mind that the heat capacity water is 3 orders of magnitude greater than air. That makes cooling of the SH SSTs evidence against global warming IMO.

    • “Is there an explanation for why clouds would behave differently over the Southern Ocean than over the North Atlantic ocean during the 30 years studied?”

      Yes.
      A much stronger and more consistently westerly (less meridionality) PJS due to the larger deltaT between the SH temperate zone and the Antarctic polar vortex.

    • This sounds like a convenient explanation for why the sea ice extent has been expanding around Antarctica while contracting near the north poll. Is there an explanation for why clouds would behave differently over the Southern Ocean than over the North Atlantic ocean during the 30 years studied?

      North pole is neighbouring 2 continents + 1 greenland. Ice albedo never ending.

      No urgent need for clouds.

    • Now don’t ya’ll be fergettin that Lighthouses were not invented because of the highly frequent presence of low altitude clouds.

  5. First, I’d like to know how the author’s distinguished cause and effect here. Does the “expanding tropics” phenomenon (casually said without evidence to be caused by a warming climate) cause clouds to migrate polewards, or does the clouds’ migration to the poles cause the expanding tropic phenomenon by the same physical processes described here, i.e. as clouds move, the cooling effect of the clouds also migrates in a band polewards, which causes the downward circulation defining the edge of the Hadley cell to shift outwards.

    Second, that assertion that “[s]cientists are working to understand exactly why the tropics are expanding, which they believe is related to a warming climate” reminds me of the adage that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    Finally, the cynical part of me suspects that this paper will be used to incorporate another positive feedback loop into the climate models; since surface area of a band around a sphere diminishes as you move towards the poles, this effect, if driven by global warming, would change the total surface albedo of the planet.

  6. If the tropics expand and clouds shift poleward, those should make very significant impacts on precip. Precip records, unlike temp adjustments (infilling, station TOBS adjustments, etc), cannot be as easily fudged by the Church of Climate Change priesthood. I suspect climate precip records are mostly unchanged. What does the data say?

    You can be sure that whatever adjustments to the GCM’s are made from this, CO2 level will be kept in control of temp projections outputs. The modeler pseudoscientists will contribute their climate change theology to ensure to the outputs agree with CC church dogma. Then it will be up to GISS, NCEI, and the Hadley Centre to adjust temp reality to fit the dogma outputs.

  7. NASA is coming painstakingly to the conclusion that climate isn’t, wasn’t, won’t and can’t be static. Another century of funding should get them all the way there. (Any number of cab drivers and bar regulars could tell them now, but they’d rather go through all the hoops.)

    Must say, I liked ’em better when they were doing their man-on-moon thing.

    • I’d like to say they had REAL scientists back then, but undoubtedly someone somewhere will assume too much and shout at me for not clarifying my opinion to their exact liking. Perhaps I should just say the scientists then had integrity and I respected them.

      I loved NASA in those days. It was science fiction coming true before my very eyes. Now, I have no respect at all. Not a drop, except for one bright blast of pride for the bravery shown by those astronauts and engineers who signed that letter slamming NASA’s involvement with the non-science of CAGW.

      I hope NASA will one day make it back to us. For now, that ship is lost.

      • I loved NASA then and I love NASA now.

        The Climate Change Charlatans at NASA make up only a small part of the workforce, so we should not blame everyone at NASA for what this particular bunch of “scientists” do and have done.

        These Climate Change Charlatans used the prestige of NASA to push their lies about CAGW onto the whole world, and have besmirched NASA’s reputation as a result.

        Under new leadership, NASA will make a comeback.

        Under current leadership, I read the other day where NASA was sending Pakistani kids to Space Camp as part of Obama’s NASA Muslim outreach program.

        Trump probably wants to send American kids to Space Camp, so the policy may change a bit in the future. And he will probably bring a little scrutiny to the Climate Change Charlatans at NASA. :)

      • I agree that the Climate Change Brigade only make a small percentage of NASA, but it’s the whole of NASA’s reputation getting trashed for it. They need to do some house cleaning and fast. I lost my respect for NASA because they let themselves be bullied by green ideology.

        There are most definitely good people within fighting to gain back the NASA we once knew. Those people still have my respect and a great deal of it, but sadly for NASA it must be as individuals until the administration gets cleaned out.

        I am certainly looking forward to a massive change in the near future for America – and for the rest of us. :)

  8. Came the day of The Apocalypse. The true believers were drawn to the heavens via the Hadley Cells. They were assembled at the juncture of the Mid-Latitude Cells and were promptly released. As they plummeted screaming to the ground a mighty voice was heard around the world ‘Their skulls will be the homes of hermit crabs and their blood and bones will nourish the Earth. They wanted an Apocalypse so I gave them one.’ Heavenly laughter followed this statement.
    To this day the populace celebrates this day with much alcohol consumption and wench squeezing.

    Thus ends The Chronicle of the Climate Wars.

  9. “The poleward shift of high altitude clouds affects how much sunlight reaches Earth’s surface because when they move, they reveal what’s below …”.
    ===========================
    That’s a puzzling statement, if “high altitude clouds” are those “between about three and a half and six miles high” (5600m – 9600m) they are cirrus clouds:
    “[Cirrus clouds] typically form at an altitude of 6,000 meters or higher, where the air temperature is below freezing …
    Cirrus clouds are composed mostly of tiny ice crystals …
    They are interesting because they allow most incoming sunlight to pass through them, but they help to contain heat emitted from the surface …” (Climate4you, Climate + Clouds).

    • Ice crystals do transmit a certain percentage of light. Ice crystals also have facets that reflect all the light that hits them.consider the overall effect as a neutral density filter (photography). You should also consider that sun to earth situations are mimicked by earth to space situations. You can’t have different rules for electromagnetic radiation. I will accept there is a difference from space to earth. The earth will accept the radiation from the clouds(reflected down). Clearly , space is space and doesn’t reflect.

      • There is considerable difference between incoming light and outgoing light. Comes in as white ( full spectrum including UV) and goes out as a diverse assembly of lower wavelength light. The difference in wavelength and watts at each wavelength is the heating effect as light is reduced to lower wavelengths including more infrared. This has to find it’s way back to space in order for the planet to achieve an energy equilibrium. The exact temperatures at which this takes place at the surface and higher in the atmosphere is what this discussion is all about. The Warmists think they understand it all on the basis of a very simple idea so they make models to illustrate it. Problem is their models don’t work so the honest fools keep making new models and the dishonest ones are shoulder deep into changing the input data ( I guess they know that the models aren’t going to work with better data because the theory is WRONG), but their careers depend on propping up the dead donkey that is AGW. And, oh yeah; they’re dishonest and not really scientists at all.

  10. Wow….

    Increased cloud cover has a cooling effect from increased albedo, and decreased cloud cover has a warming effect from decreased albedo….

    Who knew??? /sarc…

    NASA is really on a roll by recently figuring out:

    1) Antarctic land [ice] increasing at 100 billion tons/yr. (known since 1992)
    2) Increased CO2 causes more plant growth. (known since the 5th grade)
    3) Cloud cover cools. (known since age 1)

  11. When the results are taken together, the bottom line is that the cloud interactions with atmospheric circulation and solar radiation are complicated, and the tropical circulation appears to play a dominant role, said Tselioudis.

    As a meteorologist it never ceases to amaze me how these climate scientists are “discovering” phenomena that have been know about for decades or longer. Of course the tropics play a dominant role. Here is a thought experiment. Take away solar radiation. What would the thermal gradient be between the tropics and the poles?

    Doh!

  12. We have been and are just on the way out of a temporary expansion of equatorial pressure from Nino plus Blob. Before that and again soon, the pressure relaxed as the cooling cycle progressed. So, cloud cover is in greater flux than usual, at a guess. Could confuse our apparent NASA Junior Chipmunks even more….

  13. One of the recent observations which is relevant here is that the average annual albedos of the Northern and Southern hemispheres are identical to within the limits of measurement. Is it really relevant if the tropics are expanding? And he gives no consideration to the assymetry of circulation between the two hemispheres. The Southern hemisphere is so well behaved, with the polar circulation and the “roaring forties” circulation so neatly circumnavigating the globe. The Northern hemisphere has its coldest highest pressure point in winter not at the North Pole but at about 65 degrees N over Siberia, with the Polar cell and the Mid-Latitude cell compressed to the south and stretched to the north. This compression is what makes the seasonal pressure shifts over India so violent – the driver of the monsoons

    • You do realise that they are writing about an imaginary line that doesn’t take geography into account. This imaginary line has shifted 200 kilometres in a study that spans an incredible 30 years.

    • I should add that the Hadley cells move up and down according to the solar position moving from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn This is a shift of approximately 45 degrees of latitude annually. If they didn’t take this into account what sort of models do they have? Maybe their next model should be called Zoolander 3.

  14. Lovely.

    What is not described in their supposition is how a temperature change that is less than 1°C increase over the past and previous century, manages to increase the Hadley cells beyond daily and seasonal temperature changes.

    Reads like another computer generated orgasmic ‘what if’ program conceptualizing all confirmation bias written into the software.

    “…To see if that was the case, Tselioudis and his colleagues analyzed the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project data set, which combines cloud data from operational weather satellites, including those run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to provide a 30-year record of detailed cloud observations. They combined the cloud data with a computer re-creation of Earth’s air currents for the same period driven by multiple surface observations and satellite data sets…”

    A 30-year record of cloud data from satellites…
    So the photographic data beamed to earth is fed into a program? Or, are the images transferred by hand and eye?

    If this cloud data is so detailed, where is that analysis? By itself, no ghost computer models.

    They, combined the data with a computer recreation of Earth’s air currents for the same period…
    Presumably to observe concurrent processes; but how can anybody use a model built on surface observations and unspecified satellite data against reality?

    Or has NASA come to believe their own hype that computer Models are superior than observations?

    In which case, I have a suggestion for building a wonderful retirement model into a virtual reality program for when NASA researchers retire. They should be thrilled!

  15. The 30 years they have studied happen to be on the warming side of the PDO and AMO oceanic cycles. Are these cycles discussed, in relation to the northwards shift in Hadley cells? Since we are on the crest of the 65-year PDO and AMO sine-wave, the only way forward is down is to cooler conditions in the sine-wave trough. Any bets that the Hadley cells will then move south again?

    Ralph

    • My thoughts exactly Ralph. In addition, how about the changes separated into el nino/la nina years and neutral years? Show me just the cloud data first. Then work in any combination of related factors, then speculate on causes. As usual, too many assumptions tied to global warming dogma. Closed minds easily miss important issues.

  16. “Scientists are working to understand exactly why the tropics are expanding, which they believe is related to a warming climate.”
    That’s one of the few, obvious things that I think everyone agrees on, when talking about a warming climate caused by any reason: man-made, solar, inner cycles etc. They put certainty where (big) doubts are, and they put doubts where (almost) certainty is.

  17. Firstly, the Global Warming Alarmists discovered CO2, then they discovered, the oceans, then photosynthesis. Today they discovered clouds. They are making some progress, but still have about 4997 factors to plug into their computers to allow them to make accurate predictions.

  18. New approach,

    That information is a new insight that will likely be used by the climate modeling community, including the scientists who contribute modeling expertise to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,

    giving new insight to modeling expertise contributers. And hoping there’s no Spagetti code Salad running wild hot.

  19. Ah yes more obfuscation
    When the results are taken together, the bottom line is that the cloud interactions with atmospheric circulation and solar radiation are complicated (WE DONT KNOW WHAT IS GOING IN), and the tropical circulation appears to play a dominant role, said Tselioudis. (ADMITS HE DOESTNT KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON)

  20. In short, they are no better off than when they started the study but.. as long as they can obfuscate the fact they wasted funding, all is well.

    • The cloud data may be unreliable. But cooling on the margins of Antarctica and the increase in Antarctic sea ice is well documented.

      I am going to focus on the cause as I see it and describe it at https://reality348.wordpress.com/.

      Over the last 70 years there has been a falling away in surface pressure in high southern latitudes as polar cyclones have increased in intensity.

      Polar cyclones originate in the contrast in air density between the 300hPa and 50hPa pressure level due to the difference in the absorption of long wave infrared between ozone rich air on the outside of the chain of polar cyclones (vortex if you prefer) and the inside (the polar cap side where mesosphere air, congenitally deficient in ozone descends and cools the atmosphere in winter under a regime of very high surface pressure. It is here that the ozone hole manifests in spring heightening the difference in density across the vortex and pushing surface pressure at 60-70° south, where these polar cyclones form, to its seasonal minimum in October.)

      The loss of atmospheric mass (reduced surface pressure) in high southern latitudes results in an increase in atmospheric mass (increased surface pressure) across the rest of the globe but nowhere more than in the region of the high pressure cells that circulate west to east centred on about 30° south.

      The upshot is an increase in the velocity of the surface winds that blow from 30° south to 60° south latitude. These winds include streams of warm wet air moving from the tropics towards high latitudes. Over the last 70 years the surface pressure differential between these latitudes has doubled.

      Cloud forms in abundance where the warm moist air meets cold dense air in high latitudes.

      The enhanced strength of the north to south flow has driven the cloud zone southwards. Result is reduced cloud north of about 45° south and increased cloud density south of that latitude. Hence warming north of this latitude and cooling south of that same latitude. The actual latitude will vary according to longitude and the configuration of the continents so don’t be picky.

      The decline in surface pressure at 60-70° south is reversible.It will occur as the southern stratosphere continues to cool. Temperature of the southern stratosphere peaked in the late 1970’s and cooling cut in on a month by month basis over the interval since that time. Until recently, there has been no decline in the month of October.

      In the last few years we have seen a fall in both the AO, index and the AAO index indicating rising surface pressure in high latitudes in both hemispheres. This is the result of of a falling away in the intensity of Polar Cyclones as the partial pressure of ozone on the equatorial side of the ‘polar vortex’ falls away.

      Partial pressure of ozone depends on the rate of intake of mesospheric air into the stratosphere over the pole. Rate of intake corresponds with the speed of the ‘zonal wind’ that flows west to east in the winter stratosphere. It is known that the zonal wind fluctuates in its intensity with geomagnetic activity due to the solar wind. It is in this way that the sun modifies the strength and the direction of the planetary winds and more particularly the synoptic situation as meteorologists and TV weather commentators observe it on a day to day basis.

      Climatology is very weak in its understanding of processes in high latitudes. To help you understand the process imagine a set of gigantic motorized egg beaters or paint stirrers lifting the air between an elevation of 300 hPa and 50 hPa at 60-70° south. This is the source of the chain of polar cyclones that surround the Antarctic continent. These cyclones are energised by long wave radiation from the Earth itself. That radiation is available at all elevations. Ozone increases in concentration in winter on one side of these mixing zones and falls away on the other side. In the polar night there is no sunlight to account for the temperature differences.No heating effect from short wave radiation. All the heating effect is from long wave at 9-10um and its superabundant.

      The polar vortex is not a wall. It’s a mixing zone. There is no mixing zone so vigorous anywhere on the Earth. Central pressure in a polar cyclone falls to 950hPa equivalent to core pressure in a cat 4 tropical cyclone. There is no release of latent heat to drive the polar cyclone. Try as it might the mixing process never runs to completion.

      No, this cooling in high latitudes has nothing to do with Hadley cell dynamics. That’s the tail. The dog is elsewhere.

      • erl happ

        The upshot is an increase in the velocity of the surface winds that blow from 30° south to 60° south latitude. These winds include streams of warm wet air moving from the tropics towards high latitudes. Over the last 70 years the surface pressure differential between these latitudes has doubled.

        Cloud forms in abundance where the warm moist air meets cold dense air in high latitudes.

        The enhanced strength of the north to south flow has driven the cloud zone southwards. Result is reduced cloud north of about 45° south and increased cloud density south of that latitude. Hence warming north of this latitude and cooling south of that same latitude. The actual latitude will vary according to longitude and the configuration of the continents so don’t be picky.

        The decline in surface pressure at 60-70° south is reversible.It will occur as the southern stratosphere continues to cool. Temperature of the southern stratosphere peaked in the late 1970’s and cooling cut in on a month by month basis over the interval since that time. Until recently, there has been no decline in the month of October.

        But that can’t be true!
        We have been told hundreds of times (well, at least a million times but my mom said never to exaggerate) that the global warming crisis had increased ANtarctic air temperatures (even though the satellite troposphere temperatures have been declining) and therefore the air pressure inland was higher and therefore the winds were blowing faster offshore from the central highlands and therefore the sea ice (700 to 1200 kilometers away from the shore) was getting blown further away from shore and therefore the Antarctic sea ice increase was proof of global warming! (Takes breath.)

        And that must be true because the climate scientists (at least those who even acknowledged the tremendous increase in Antarctic sea ice) said so. /sarchasm – that gaping whole between a liberal dictatorship and reality.

  21. The conclusion is quite surprising me. We all know the fact under ozone hole theory, circumpolar vortex is more common around south pole area and less frequent around north pole area. This phenomena is true, tropical Hardly Cell expansion is not correct.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  22. You mean that the science isn’t settled after all?
    Someone tell Al Gore et al immediately.

  23. Biggest laugh of the day:
    “Climate modelers aim for their computer simulations to correspond as closely to reality as possible in order to reliably predict Earth’s future climate.”

  24. I think the “other shoe” has yet to fall. In their next update they’ll likely claim that the shift is due to anthropogenic warming, a new “positive feedback” that they desperately need in order to sell their snake oil given Sherwood’s failed attempts to dismiss data from thousands of weather balloons. Our task is therefore very clear, to preempt that claim with another – that the shift is 99% the cause of late 20th century warming.

    • Different satellites, different data collection.
      In this case the data is visible light pictures.

  25. “When the results are taken together, the bottom line is that the cloud interactions with atmospheric circulation and solar radiation are complicated, and the tropical circulation appears to play a dominant role, said Tselioudis.”

    Collector

  26. “Climate modelers aim for their computer simulations to correspond as closely to reality as possible in order to reliably predict Earth’s future climate.”

    Is it just me or is there a big void between that and this:

    https://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/501.htm
    “The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. “

    • You missed the phrase “as closely to reality as possible”, which exonerates any attempt to call their results inaccurate.

  27. This widening of the tropical band is part of the greening of the planet, more greenery with less water needed. This should have a generally cooling effect with a wider band reflecting more sunlight and the Hadley cells delivering a bit cooler air masses poleward. The net effect may be no change at all going poleward of 60, even if the reach is farther. Another unfinished study completed by G.P.!!

  28. Some of the most robust SW Monsoon outbreaks I can recall were when I was a kid (1970s). Oh wait … that’s 40+ years ago. Oh, and that was during a La Nina and Negative PDO, at the outset of the bad drought we had way back when.

  29. Sorry if mentioned before, but the only way the tropics can expand is if the earth tilts further. Just read the actual definition of tropics. It’s not complicated.

  30. Re: high clouds (i.e. cirrus, thunderstorm anvil) and warming. At 17 km altitude in the stratosphere, the ice crystals in thunderstorm anvil clouds are at 190-210 K, and so emit a lot less infrared (IR) black body radiation than clouds in the lower troposphere (e.g. at 277 K) since the Stefan-Boltzmann law varies as the 4th power of the absolute temperature. Therefore if the albedo of both types of clouds is assumed the same (which leads to global cooling in both cases), replacing lower troposphere clouds by stratospheric clouds means less emission to outer space. For energy balance, the emission from the clear areas of the Earth’s surface must then be greater, i.e. there will be a small amount of global warming. Of course, the percentage of the Earth’s surface covered by cirrus and thunderstorm anvil clouds is small compared to that covered by normal cumulus type clouds in the lower troposphere, so the effect of increased clouds overall is global cooling during the daytime. At nighttime, the IR lost to outer space from cooler cloud tops is going to be less than that from clear areas of warmer Earth surfaces, so low-lying clouds can moderate heat loss.

    Re: flow of hot air and ocean currents from the Equator toward the poles. It seems everyone assumes these convection currents move according to the simple temperature gradient. IMO warm parcels of air and water at the Equator are less dense than cold air and water (above 4 Celsius), so there is a centrifuge effect due to the Earth’s rotation: the less dense warm stuff gets driven towards the Poles, and the Coriolis Effect deflects currents clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Hence the warm Gulf Stream and the Japan Current. For mass balance, colder, denser fluids move toward the Equator by the centrifuge effect of the rotating Earth, and are deflected in the opposite direction by the Coriolis Effect. Hence Clockwise circulation of major ocean currents in the Northern Hemisphere, and Counterclockwise circulation in the Southern Hemisphere. The one major exception is the El Nino, when water piles up from the upwelling cold Humboldt Current moving North and counterclockwise, and then East-West toward New Zealand. When the pendulum has become high enough, the circulation of ocean water reverses, driving the warm winds West-East and we get the El Nino. Because the troposphere has air circulation in 3 dimensions, the Hadley cells extend only so far toward the poles, before the cool dry air sinks back down, warming due to adiabatic contraction, resulting in zones of deserts around the world at intermediate latitudes.

    • I forgot to add that the climate change literature is all wrong when it talks about [black body] emission from the atmosphere: the main gases in the troposphere, N2, O2 and Ar, that make up 99.9% of dry air are made up of non-polar molecules that cannot and do not emit any significant infrared (IR) radiation (the main mechanism of emission is that from changing electric dipoles, and this is zero for N2, O2 and Ar). CO2 is a non-polar molecule, since it is linear, O=C=O , but since each C=O bond is polar, bond-bending vibrations create a changing electric dipole moment perpendicular to the O=C=O axis. This accounts for the great amount of absorption/emission of IR photons by CO2 at 667 cm^-1 (667 wavelengths in one cm). But the amount of IR emission from CO2 at 220 K in the stratosphere amounts to only about 16 W/m^2, as calculated from the spectrum observed by satellite looking down on a 210 K thunderstorm anvil (the anvil is too cold to power the emission, which must be due to heating of the stratosphere by incoming Solar UV radiation absorbed by ozone). Emission from ozone in the stratosphere amounts to only about 3 W/m^2, so the total emission is 16+3 = 19 W/m^2, nowhere near enough for energy balance. “Emission from a 220 K black body layer at 10 km altitude” can produce only 133 W/m^2, nowhere near the 240 W/m^2 needed for energy balance. Therefore the literature makes up a temperature of a hypothetical black body that WOULD emit 240 W/m^2, which turns out to be 255 K (this was used by James Hansen to estimate the greenhouse effect as 288 – 255 = 33 degrees). Since the actual spectra obtained by satellites are NOT Planck black body spectra, the “explanations” and calculations are all wrong.

  31. I always wondered if it is possible that at certain times, instead of one ITCZ, there becomes a situation where two form, one north and one to the south of the current position it occupies, and that sequesters a lot of heat in the tropics in the middle, shifting the deserts and bringing rain to the Sahara.
    I wonder if something like this, or some such similar shift in the primary circulation of the Earth’s atmosphere could be a trigger for the ice ages to reestablish and the interglacial end

    • Leaving one strong band of descending air in between the two zones of rising air, and two weaker bands of desert conditions which would be shifted away from the equator.

  32. Negative North Atlantic Oscillation has increased since the mid 1990’s, that doesn’t suggest a poleward movement of the jet stream in the Atlantic.

  33. As there has been next to no warming over the last 2 decades, such effects cannot have been cased by warming, if that is in fact what they have been observing. What is the smell? Something is rotten at NASA ..

    Ahh, the Arctic is cooling, – and it is our fault!

  34. A simple experiment to show that high clouds back radiate.

    In winter.
    Place a thermocouple sensor on the ground and one in the air, say 4ft above ground. Plug to a temp readout device.
    Choose a calm night when there is patchy Ci cloud.
    You will find that in a clear window the ground temp will fall away faster than the Tair.
    Note when a patch of Ci blows over (doesn’t even have to be that thick).
    You will see the ground temp rise whilst the Tair varies little.

    The Ci may be at (say) 6 miles up and a temp of -30C.
    Yet it *warms* the ground.

    The reason?
    There is a heat flux in the ground acting from below to the surface and then to space. The DWLWIR from the CI cloud (in this case) SLOWS that and the heat-flux balance goes out of equilibrium.
    The thermo on the surface registers a rise.
    Until balance is again achieved.
    It does NOT violate the 2nd LoT.
    No NET heat is transferred from the cloud to the ground.

    Radiative equilibrium experiments have shown that this effect (it happens 24/7/365) out-ways the TSI lost to space via reflection.

    Additionally:
    Go to a weather website and access the Sat pic page.
    On a day with Ci cloud you will see that the IR channel shows the CI opaque.
    The Vis channel will be clearer (as in seeing structures below the Ci).

    High cloud warms overall.
    Low cloud cools overall.
    Sorry and all that.

    • ” A simple experiment to show that high clouds back radiate.”
      It’s far simpler to just get a ir thermometer and point it up.
      The problem is all clouds are warmer than a clear sky, and under clear skies, a grass covered lawn will cool below air temps.

    • Meanwhile in the tropics and over the equatorial oceans water vapour is being lifted from the sea surface and hurled 15 kilometres up into the atmosphere where it cools to MINUS ˚70 C!!!
      You stick with your pictures of radiative imbalances of a few watts.
      I’ll stick with the giant heat pump that cools our atmosphere on an hourly basis!
      (the truly gratifying thing is that you don’t even realise how ridiculous your claims are!)

  35. I’ve finally put my finger on the major flaw at the heart of the Warmist position.
    We ‘skeptics’ accept that CO2 is a ‘greenhouse’ gas, and that Water Vapour is a ‘greenhouse’ gas.
    However, we ‘skeptics’ also accept that Water Vapour is also a major ‘cooling’ agent, due to clouds and enthalpy.
    The physical transportation of heated water vapour to frigid low pressure levels of the upper atmosphere literally ‘dwarfs’ any radiative imbalances.
    Warmist models fail because they refuse to accept the complex role of Water Vapour in the atmosphere!
    As always I point directly to the most excellent satellite imagery of the University of Wisconsin which illustrates these principles immediately and effortlessly!

  36. Well, that’s it. Earth is doomed!

    There’s nothing we can do now but watch the Atheist Nothing-Cam and wait for nothing to become a new universe.

  37. “…“Sometimes when that curtain is pulled, as in the case over the North Atlantic ocean in the winter months, this reduces the overall cloud cover” in the lower mid-latitudes, the temperate regions outside of the tropics, Tselioudis said. The high altitude clouds clear to reveal dark ocean below – which absorbs incoming sunlight and causes a warming effect…”

    High altitude clouds clearing will reveal not only dark ocean, but will open a shutter to IR longwave from the ground surface–i.e. expose 305K surface in the subtropics to direct transport to deep space.

  38. Does a thirty year observation span sound like only half of the sixty year cycles we’ve been hearing about? If a barely detectable temperature change can drive the Hadley cells that much, then it can’t be long under the alarmist scenarios before the Hadley cells expand past the poles…

  39. Reply to posting by cba, May 7 at 3:00 pm:
    Thank you for updating figures on albedo. I derived albedos from the left side of the updated Kiehl & Trenberth energy budget diagram available at https://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/an-update-to-kiehl-and-trenberth-1997 and from the MODTRAN spectrum at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiative_forcing . I am willing to concede that your figures are better, but the conclusions are still the same: high clouds are warming. Here are updated calculations:

    If the albedo of the surface waters is 0.04, and land is assumed to be 0.12 (similar to that of the Moon), and water covers 2/3 of the Earth’s surface, then the average surface albedo will be [2(0.04) + 0.12]/3 = 0.067 [note that you recalled it is around 0.08, close enough]. Since the overall albedo is given as 0.30 in the literature, if cloud albedo is x, and cloud cover is 62%, then
    0.62x + 0.38(0.067) = 0.30
    0.62x = 0.30 – 0.0255 = 0.27
    x = 0.27/0.62 = 0.44

    Then in my calculations, the difference in Bond albedo is 0.44-0.067 = 0.37, so replacing 1% of the surface which is cloudless by reflective cloud will decrease the incoming Solar radiation absorbed at the surface by
    1(341.3)(0.37)/100 = 1.26 W/m^2 . This leads to COOLING.

    For clouds overall, if the 228 W/m^2 escaping at the TOA (consistent with 240 W/m^2 overall for energy balance, and 260 W/m^2 escaping from a cloudless surface at 288.2 K) remains the same, then the decrease in outgoing TOA emission on replacing 1% of the Earth’s surface which is cloudless with clouds is still 1(260-228)/100 = 0.32 W/m^2, which would lead to WARMING.

    The NET result of the two components is still COOLING, by 1.26-0.32 = 0.94 W/m^2.

    However, the calculation for a 210 K Thunderstorm Anvil also stays the same, at 1(260-110)/100 = 1.50 W.m^2, and this would lead to WARMING. This time, the NET result is 1.50 – 1.26 = 0.24 W/m^2 WARMING. This result becomes even greater if the high clouds which emit Planck black body radiation are at even lower temperatures, like 190 K or 200 K .

    However, as I wrote several times, the importance of high clouds is negligible, given the small percentage of such clouds. The argument has perhaps been used by the CAGW true believers to try to bolster their cause, which is fatally flawed in so many ways. And someone has posted Roy Spencer’s measurements showing warming leads to a decrease in these warming cirrus clouds, so the feedback is negative, not positive. I also agree with geo smith’s skepticism re the transparency of ice crystals in cirrus clouds: if I can see them reflecting white light, their albedo is not zero, so some of the incoming Solar visible radiation will be reflected back to outer space.

    IMO the right side of Kiehl & Trenberth’s energy budget diagram is wrong to show back-radiation from greenhouse gases like CO2 and water vapour “warming the planet”. Infrared (IR) photons are emitted from vibrationally excited states, and these are formed (1) either by occasional high-energy collisions with the main air molecules (N2, O2, Ar), or (2) by absorption of IR photons at resonant frequencies. In either case, there must be an outside power source, or else the atmosphere would continually cool. That power source is not incoming Solar radiation, which is in the visible and near-infrared, because the air is mostly transparent at those frequencies. Rather, the mainly visible radiation reaches the Earth’s solid and liquid surface and is absorbed there (albedo 0.07). The energy does not disappear, but shows up as increased vibrations of the zillions of bonds in the surface molecules; i.e. as an increase in temperature. But almost all condensed materials at the Earth’s surface have emissivity close to 1, so emit IR (far-infrared) radiation according to the Planck radiation law for black bodies. At 288.2 K (15 Celsius), the peak emission is close to the central band frequencies for CO2 bond-bending vibrations. So within metres of the surface, almost all the emitted IR photons at 667 cm^-1 are absorbed by CO2 molecules, which are boosted from their ground vibrational state (vibrational quantum number v=0) to the first excited state (v=1). The literature then states that these molecules re-emit IR photons which are then absorbed by molecules higher up, and the process continues until the IR photons finally escape from the atmosphere to outer space. This last sentence is wrong. The literature has failed to understand that the excited state CO2 molecules can lose their extra energy during radiationless collisions with N2, O2, and Ar molecules which constitute 99.9% of dry air and outnumber CO2 by 2500:1. The energy does not disappear, but ends up in increased translational and rotational motions of all molecules departing from the collision zone. I.e. the troposphere has warmed up. This is the true, simple explanation for the atmospheric greenhouse effect. As I wrote previously, the non-polar N2, O2 and Ar molecules do not re-emit IR photons, because the main mechanism for radiation requires a changing electric dipole moment. Therefore talking about “emission from the atmosphere” cannot involve N2, O2 and Ar gas molecules, which do not act like Planck black bodies (spectrometers looking upward at night in the “window” at 900 cm^-1 observe zero emission from the atmosphere). And CO2 and water vapor absorb and emit only at certain frequencies, in bands, not across the entire far-infrared black body spectrum characteristic of the solid and liquid surface of the Earth, or of condensed states (liquid droplets or ice crystals) in clouds.
    Is there any observable back-radiation from excited state CO2 and water vapor molecules? Sure there is.
    But the energy for each photon in back-radiation initially had to come from a photon of the same frequency emitted from the warm solid and liquid surface of the Earth. Therefore one can consider a back-radiation photon as essentially a photon originally emitted from the Earth’s surface, and after a delay reflected back to Earth. You can see therefore that there is no net change in the energy/temperature of the Earth’s surface.

    Back-radiation does slow the rate of cooling of the Earth’s surface at nighttime. This is most obvious on clear winter nights in the Arctic, where nighttime lasts for months. Without any clouds, IR photons emitted from the Earth’s surface at frequencies not absorbed/emitted by CO2 and water vapor just escape directly to outer space (which is at 3 K, the temperature of the cosmic microwave background). This rate of heat loss by radiation can be so great that a temperature inversion occurs (the temperature at several hundred metres altitude can be greater than the surface temperature). Then, heat stored in the troposphere during the daytime/summer can be radiated back to Earth at greenhouse gas frequencies. An excited state CO2 molecule which has lost its energy as an emitted photon lost to the Earth can be replenished by collisional activation with the main air molecules (at 273 K = 0 Celsius, about 3% of all CO2 molecules are in the v=1 excited state at equilibrium, in accord with the Boltzmann distribution). In this way, energy stored during the daytime/summer as enthalpy (heat content) can moderate the temperature drop of the surface. But this is not the same as actually increasing the temperature of the Earth’s surface (warming the surface). During the long nighttime/winter, the average temperature/heat content of the troposphere does decrease, along with the surface temperature.

    Where did the non-physical “explanation” for the greenhouse effect, involving radiation exchange to the top of the atmosphere come from? IMO from a false analogy with processes inside stars, accurately modelled by simple linear computer models (spherical stars can be modelled radially, with a shell surface weighting factor of 4.pi.r^2). Heat from exothermic thermonuclear fusion reactions at the center of the Sun is transported via gamma ray photons until they are degraded to visible photons which finally escape from the photosphere. The analogy fails for two main reasons: (1) gamma ray photons lose energy via inelastic collisions with electrons, protons, etc. in the Sun’s interior (Compton scattering), but these free particles have a continuous energy spectrum, so the photons can change frequency at each collision. However, the vibrational energy levels of CO2 and water vapor molecules are quantized, so the energy of the photons cannot be degraded. Constant absorption and re-emission cannot by themselves warm the troposphere; what’s required is inelastic collisions with the main molecules of the atmosphere (N2, O2, Ar) which cannot and do not re-emit IR photons. (2) photons of visible radiation escape at the photosphere because that’s where the atoms (ions and electrons of a plasma) run out; the mean density of the Sun is about that of liquid water on the Earth. There is no similar sudden drop in density at the top of the troposphere which would allow IR photons to “suddenly escape to outer space”. The density at 10 km (equivalent to the top of Mt. Everest) is about 1/4 that at sea level. If CO2 is so powerful an absorber/emitter that photons are essentially completely absorbed within metres of the Earth’s surface, a factor of 4 decrease in density is highly unlikely to allow “escape to outer space”. And a 220 K black body surface at 10 km altitude would emit only 133 W/m^2, nowhere near the 240 W/m^2 needed for energy balance. The literature “explanation” for the greenhouse effect is wrong in so many ways….

  40. Clouds are among the most important mediators of heat reaching Earth’s surface. Where clouds are absent, darker surfaces like the ocean or vegetated land absorb heat, but where clouds occur their white tops reflect incoming sunlight away, which can cause a cooling effect on Earth’s surface. Where and how the distribution of cloud patterns change strongly affects Earth’s climate. Understanding the underlying causes of cloud migration will allow researchers to better predict how they may affect Earth’s climate in the future.

    As I’ve pointed out umpteenth thousand times, explain why the oceans are warming and you explain why the globe is warming. Fewer clouds blocking direct sunlight, allows more high intensity visible light to reach the oceans. That is how you warm the oceans, and it has nothing to do with CO2. The article even uses a similar quote to what I’ve used umpteen thousand times about a room being heated by lifting the shade has nothing to do with CO2.

    “It’s like pulling a curtain,” said Tselioudis. And what tends to be revealed depends on location – which in turn affects whether the surface below warms or not.

    Note, that above quote explains warming, but it also rules out CO2 and IR as the cause. Clouds block/reflect INCOMING RADIATION. The warming discussed above has everything to do with warming due to more incoming radiation reaching the earth, and absolutely nothing to do with CO2, absolutely nothing. These climate “scientists” wouldn’t wouldn’t know the truth if is punched them in the face. Talk about not seeing the forest through the trees. These climate scientists are simply only looking for CO2 as the cause, they aren’t seeking the truth.

    “If current behavior is not well simulated, then confidence in predicted future behavior will be lower,” Oreopoulos said. “I anticipate this study to be looked at carefully and affect thinking on these matters.”

    No Duh!!! But didn’t these NASA “scientists” get the memo? This “science” is settled. What a complete joke NASA and the field of climate science has become.

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