Guest opinion; Dr. Tim Ball
“Every wind has its weather.” English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon (1561 –1621)
What happens if the global average wind speed changes by one kilometer per hour? A great deal, including the rate of evaporation from the surface, a major mechanism of energy transfers in the atmosphere. The wind is not part of the official discussion about climate change because it is not part of the greenhouse effect (GE) mechanism. It is the major reason why GE is a false analogy. Wind is a major variable so important in physical mechanisms of the atmosphere. It is also very important in people’s interaction with the atmosphere. But consider what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR5 Physical Science Basis Report says,
AR4 concluded that mid-latitude westerly winds have generally increased in both hemispheres. Because of shortcomings in the observations, SREX stated that confidence in surface wind trends is low. Further studies assessed here confirm this assessment. (My bold)
Lack of adequate temperature and pressure measurements mean the computer models cannot reproduce accurately these mechanisms.
Wind (advection) is created by temperature differences at the surface. This creates pressure differences relatively determined as High and Low. Nature tries to offset the imbalance by moving air from the High to the Low. The strength of the wind is determined by the difference in pressure and the distance between the centres of High and Low known as the Pressure Gradient Force (PGF).
Transport of heat is an extremely important function of the wind, which it does when warm air moves into a cold region. It also does it by the least known and understood, but most important, latent heat.
Evaporation is the process of molecules of water reaching escape velocity and breaking free from the surface of the water into the air. This can increase in three ways, increasing of water temperature, increasing in air temperature or, increasing wind speed. The most important of the three is an increase in wind speed.
The energy used to increase the escape velocity of a water molecule is not lost; rather it is within the molecule as latent heat. The molecule changes from liquid to gas in the escape. When condensation occurs the water as gas goes back to liquid and the latent heat is released to warm the atmosphere. This is why air temperature increases when rain or snow occurs.
Moisture is also put into the air through plants in a process called transpiration. This also varies with heat and wind speed. The volumes of moisture are prodigious The United States Geological Survey say, “An acre of corn gives off about 3,000-4,000 gallons (11,400-15,100 liters) of water each day, and a large oak tree can transpire 40,000 gallons (151,000 liters) per year.” No wonder there is a considerable difference between cleared and forested slopes at the Coweta Experiment Station (Figure 1.)
Figure 1. Comparison of evaporation and run off from
cleared and forested slopes.
The sensationalist media focus on tornadoes and hurricanes, but strong winds constantly and consistently do far more damage. People who lived through the thirties dust bowl talk about the constant winds desiccating everything. Southern Canada saw similar pattern across the Prairies. Figure 2 shows a picture taken in Regina, Saskatchewan in April 1933. Despite this, there are few studies of the wind and its role in aggravating the situation. For example, soil erosion is a natural process, but exacerbated by increased winds.
Most people know about meteorology, but don’t realize it is a subset of climatology, that it only studies physics of the atmosphere. Aristotle wrote a book De Meteorologica that relates to atmospheric processes. He also studied climatology and produced a global climate classification system. The word climate comes from klima, the Greek word for inclination (The spell-checker suggested karma). They mean the angle of incidence, the angle at which the sun’s rays strike the surface. From this Aristotle identified three climate zones (Figure 3).
The Greeks also understood that each region had different wind patterns and seasonal movement of the zones meant changing winds that marked the change of seasons. The wind was so important that in the first century BC Andronicus built the Tower of the Winds in Athens. Each of the eight sides depicts male deities who characterize wind and weather from that direction. The only name familiar to people today is Boreas god of the north wind. We retain two important ideas. The first is that we define winds by the directions from which they come – a north wind comes from the north. For many, especially people whose livelihood like farmers are weather dependent, still use wind direction as a prognosticator of weather conditions. The idea persists because it is observable and a useful method of predicting local conditions. These empirical observations and forecasts were recorded by Theophrastus (371-287 BC), a student of Aristotle’s, in a book Meteorological Phenomena, more commonly known as the Book of Signs.
Wind direction was easily determined, but speed was always much more difficult. Early attempts used a flat board on a spring with a pointer attached set against a scale. Wind pushed the board, and the pointer indicated the force. The major change came with the wind cup or anemometer in 1846, although some earlier instruments existed from about 1450 in the pre-scientific era. It provides an accurate measure, but recording the information for analysis was more difficult. Unlike most weather variables, continuous data is critical because wind speed is extremely variable but the effect is cumulative. Any average is inadequate, except for determining global wind patterns (Figure 4).
George Hadley (1685-1768), lawyer and amateur meteorologist made a major contribution to climatology through an interest in the Trade Winds. He used ships weather logs to produce a theory about a major portion of atmospheric circulation. The Hadley Cell was the only portion of atmospheric circulation we understood in concept for 250 years. Ironically, and sadly, its major role in global weather and climate is still inadequately covered in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) computer models.
There are also distinctive regional winds that often define a cultural region. For example, hot, dry winds blowing from desert regions such as the Santa Ana winds in California, the Sirocco or Harmattan winds from the Sahara, or the Mistral in southern France. They are harbingers of stressing conditions. In Alberta, the Chinook are warm winds blowing down off the Rockies. The name means “snow eater” which reflects higher temperatures but also stronger winds. That great environmental expert Leonardo DiCaprio was in Calgary for a chinook event and displayed his ignorance by saying it was evidence of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).
Ironically, the Agricultural Revolution took people away from the weather into the confines of urban areas. When I lived in Winnipeg, I did a regular program each month on the weather. Every autumn it included warnings about travelling outside city limits. Every year people considered conditions reasonable but were suddenly caught in blowing and drifting snow. The worst was west of the city on the open Prairie. For better control, they installed gates so they could close the highway (Figure 5).
Most people are more removed from agriculture than ever. Those still involved recognize the impact. A book “Weather forecasting: The Country Way” by farmer/author Robin Page says in the preface,
“Yet it is strange to record that as the weather forecasting service has grown in size and expense, so its predictions seem to have become more inaccurate.”
Some of the wind observations still used in the Northern Hemisphere middle latitudes include;
Easterly winds bring rain. Or; When you can see the backs of the leaves, it will rain.
A west wind is a favourable wind.
A veering wind will clear the sky; a backing wind says storms are nigh.
Veering means the wind direction is shifting clockwise, so a wind that changes from west to northwest to north is veering. This is associated with high pressure, which brings clear skies. If the wind is backing it is turning counterclockwise then there is a low pressure bringing clouds and probably precipitation. These comments explain Buys-Ballots law that says in the Northern Hemisphere
With your back to the wind, the low pressure is on your left.
Wind effects are real-time experiences for comfort and survival of plants and animals. Air temperatures are measured in still air, so they don’t express how plants or humans are impacted. A wind chill index tells us the rate at which a body is losing heat, which is useful for avoiding severe conditions. Wind also creates large scale regional precipitation effects. For example, west or northwest winds across the open water of the Great Lakes can bring lake-effect rain or snow to large areas of the Northeast.
A significant climate change was captured in a long-term weather record. Wind was the most consistent entry in the Daily Journals of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Officers were all trained as Mariners maintained the journals. They used a standard logging technique developed by Dr. James Jurin in 1722 and recorded the wind to 32 points of the compass. At no time in the record did they measure wind speed, rather, they used a subjective scale similar to that developed by Admiral Beaufort.
Figure 6 shows plots of the percentage frequency of south winds at York Factory located on the southwest shore of Hudson Bay (Figure 5).
The plot compares percentage of wind directions for two decades over 100 years apart. In the early decade from 1721 to 1731, which is well within the Little Ice Age (LIA), south winds blow less than 7 percent of the time. In the decade from 1841 to 1851, which is outside of the LIA, south winds occur over 12 percent of the time with a peak in 1842 of 27 percent.
Figure 6: Percentage of south winds at York Factory
Source; Ball (1986), Climate Change, Vol. 8 pp. 121-134.
This indicates York Factory was within the zone of the polar easterlies (Figure 4) during the Little Ice Age. Then, as conditions warmed naturally, the Polar Front moved north, and York was in the zone of the Westerlies. The same change did not occur at Churchill approximately 190 km further north (Figure 5).
There are so many variables ignored, underreported or simply not understood in climate science and especially in the computer models that purport to simulate global climate. This destroys any pretense we know or understand weather and climate. James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia hypothesis, said,
“It’s almost naive, scientifically speaking, to think that we can give relatively accurate predictions for future climate. There are so many unknowns that it’s wrong to do it.”
The degree to which the IPCC and their supporters have fooled the world is amazing. As Jean-Francois Revel said:
“How is it possible for a theory, which is false in its component parts, to be true as a whole.”
With ‘official’ climate science many parts of the whole are simply omitted. Revel explained the mentality of the AGW supporters when he wrote,
“A human group transforms itself into a crowd when it suddenly responds to a suggestion rather than to reasoning, to an image rather than to an idea, to an affirmation rather than to proof, to the repetition of a phrase rather than to arguments, to prestige rather than to competence.”
His book, “The Flight from Truth: The Reign of Deceit in the Age of Information” tells it all.