Into The Vortex

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I came across a lovely photograph of a “fire devil”, also called a “fire whirl”. I liked it because the photo perfectly exemplified what is wrong with the current generation of climate models.

firedog

What is wrong with the models is that they don’t include any of the vortex-based emergent atmospheric phenomena like fire devils.

Let me start with the concept of “emergent phenomena”. Emergent phenomena are phenomena which:

  • Emerge spontaneously from the background when certain thresholds are exceeded. Below the threshold there are none. Above the threshold, the number emerging can increase very rapidly.
  • Have a lifetime.
  • Move, adapt, and change in response to environmental conditions.
  • Eventually dissipate, fade away, and die out.
  • In addition, emergent phenomena generally are not naively predictable from looking at the underlying conditions.

Here’s a way to understand naive predictability when it comes to emergence. Suppose we were members of a tribe on a remote island where clouds never formed. Day after day, the sun came up and went down in a cloudless sky.

Imagine if, after generations of living like that, one day people looked up and were terrified to see a large, white, seemingly solid object had formed out of nothingness right above them! Would it fall? Would it harm them? The priests did incantations and read entrails. They prayed nothing would happen to the people. Nothing happened. The priests were given extra respect, they were clearly the cloud-masters.

Of course, once it happened over and over, day after day, people would give it a name, like “tropical thermal-generated cumulus cloud”, or maybe “cotton-ball cloud”, and go on living. Day after day. More generations pass. Life is boring again. Every morning around eleven, the first cotton-ball cloud appears. In a very short time, the sky is covered. It brings blessed cooling by blocking out the hot tropical sun. The cloud priests wax fat and multiply.

Then after centuries of such bliss, imagine if one day, one of the nice friendly cotton-ball clouds in the sky suddenly grew taller and taller, until it towered menacingly above the people. A sudden wind came up out of nowhere, and things got cooler. Then, the rain pounded down … consternation! Water from the sky! The priests claimed it was from their prayers and incantations.

cumulus rainbow

Finally, just when the priests were about to finish saying their orisons to the cloud gods, there was a blinding bright white flash and then a huge sound … and of the eleven priests, four were untouched, five were burnt in strange patterns by the wrath of the sky-god, and two were dead.

The remaining living priests said they had escaped by virtue of their arcane arts, and were worshipped until their deaths as lightning priests and sons of the lightning gods.

Now, all of those phenomena, the tropical clouds, the rain, the cumulus growing into a thunderstorm, the lightning, every one is an emergent phenomenon. They all emerge spontaneously when a certain threshold is passed. They all exist for some length of time. They move and change based on environmental conditions. At the end of their lifetime they all fade, dissipate and die.

And as the priests in the story found out … none of these emergent phenomena are naively predictable from knowledge of the conditions from which they emerge.


With that as an introduction to emergent phenomena, let me return to the fire devil.

To me, it seems that far too often, climate scientists are looking for causes rather than looking at effects. This is particularly true with emergent climate phenomena like clouds and thunderstorms. Too many climate scientists ask “Why do thunderstorms form? What causes them?”.

Me, I try to avoid looking at causes for emergent phenomena. Instead, I consider their actions. I ask “What do they do? What is different from when they are born to when they die out? What is their overall effect?”

So, why are all of these emergent phenomena important to the climate and thus to the climate models?

Because all of them have the same effect—they cool the surface. Cumulus clouds cool the surface by reflecting the sun back to space. Storm-generated wind cools the surface by greatly increasing evaporation, just as a fan cools a sweating person. And tropical rain plus the entrained vertical rain-wind can leave you shivering even on a warm day.

These emergent phenomena all cool the surface because they are all generated in response to the surface being much warmer than the atmosphere. They are all heat engines, driven by what is called “delta T”, a temperature difference between the surface and the atmosphere.

The global climate models cannot model thunderstorms, much less have them spontaneously emerge from a relatively uniform background. One problem is that their gridcells are too large, much larger than thunderstorms and most other emergent phenomena that cool the surface.

So … consider the irony:

The climate models are attempting to model the surface temperature without including the very phenomena that cool the surface.

But wait, it’s worse than that. In addition, the models don’t contain one of the more common ways of moving energy aloft, the humble vortex. Not only is it common, it is incredibly efficient. Consider the photo of the fire devil again, which I’ve re-posted below.

firedog

Look at the effect of the fire devil. Rather than heating the mass of the surrounding air, and rather than mixing smoke and other byproducts with the surrounding air, a vortex functions like a pipe. It pipes the hot air and the combustion byproducts through the surrounding air with only the most minimal of mixing. Look how all the smoke is contained in the vortex, with no visible surrounding cloud of particles.

One of the most common and most important climate examples of a vortex is the tower of a thunderstorm cloud. It is a huge pipe-shaped vortex moving an incredible amount of warm air in a vertical helix from the base of the cloud to the upper troposphere. This vortex is totally contained within the cloud and is not interacting with the surrounding atmosphere either physically or radiatively.

Consider the full voyage of a bit of heat moved by a thunderstorm from the surface to the top of the troposphere. At the surface, the heat evaporates some water, cooling the surface. Then it is carried as latent heat  up to the underside of the thunderstorm by the vertical circulation under the storm.

Inside the thunderstorm base, the incoming water vapor condenses, releasing the latent heat as sensible heat. This constant source of heat from condensing water vapor is what stokes first the vertical development of the thunderstorm tower vortex, and then pumps massive amounts of warm air up the vortex to the top of the troposphere.

Note that just as in the fire devil above, the air in the thunderstorm tower is NOT interacting in any way with the surrounding atmosphere.

Here’s the curious part. This means that there are escape holes in the greenhouse effect. Consider it once again from the surface upwards.

A bit of heat evaporates some water at the surface. It is now latent heat in some lifting parcel of air. Because as latent heat it doesn’t warm the air parcel, it doesn’t increase the shortwave radiation. It’s not interacting radiatively with the atmosphere.

After the latent heat is lifted up through the bottom of the thunderstorm, it condenses as sensible heat. But it is condensing inside the cloud, so once again there is only the most minimal of radiative interaction with the atmosphere.

And this isolation from the surroundings continues as the re-warmed air parcel travels up the vortex inside the thunderstorm tower. Only after the air parcel emerges from the top of the atmosphere, along with a few ice crystals, does the air parcel start interacting radiatively with the surroundings.

And of course, at that point it is far above all of those pesky greenhouse gases, and free to radiate to space.

Now, think about this a minute. There are actual physical tunnels through the greenhouse effect which let surface heat escape directly to the upper troposphere.

Through these vortex-driven vertical pipes inside thunderstorm towers, surface heat is rapidly spiraled vertically to high altitudes where it is free to radiate to space, untouched by the greenhouse effect. Estimates are that at any time there are on the order of 2,000 active thunderstorms on earth.

Now, if these escape holes for excess heat were located randomly it would be one thing. But they are not.

Instead, they form exactly where they are most effective—over a local area that is warmer than its surroundings. They preferentially cool the warmest parts of the surface.

And this is why I started by saying that the fire devil shows the problem with the current generation of climate models. The current models don’t have a couple thousand self-organizing escape tunnels for surface heat that form spontaneously and preferentially over the hottest parts of the modeled surface.

And that’s not including dust devils and waterspouts, the more pedestrian but much more numerous cousins of the giant vortex in the thunderstorm …

Finally, consider that fire devils and dust devils and cumulus clouds and thunderstorms are all driven by delta T, the difference in temperature between the surface and the atmosphere. In general the peak difference is in the mid-day and afternoon, when the surface is warm. The emergence of the escape tunnels for surface heat that we call thunderstorms typically occurs in the afternoon.

This means that the proliferation of thunderstorms once the local threshold is exceeded is a large part of what prevents the tropics from overheating. They bleed off excess energy very efficiently, removing immense amounts of energy from the hottest parts of the surface in the hottest parts of the day and moving it high in the sky. Get rid of it before it causes trouble.

(Thunderstorms can also continue into the night, in part because thunderstorms are a dual-fuel heat engine. They can run on either warm air or humid air, and they generate their own humid air from winds under the base of the storm. But I digress …)

Finally, the existence of spontaneously emerging escape tunnels for excess heat exactly where they are most needed means that temperature is NOT a simple function of forcing as the climate models assume. Instead, it implies a practical upper limit on surface temperature.

firedog ii

Best of a warm summer afternoon to you all, stay safe, dodge the storms, I send good thoughts to those in smoky air, high winds, pounding rain, and all the vagaries of the atmosphere.

w.

My Usual Request: Misunderstandings start easily and can last forever. I politely request that commenters QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS YOU DISAGREE WITH, so we can all understand your objection.

My Second Request: Please do not stop after merely claiming someone is using the wrong dataset or the wrong method. I may well be wrong, as may anyone, but such observations are not meaningful until you add a link to the proper dataset or an explanation of the right method.

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135 thoughts on “Into The Vortex

  1. Flashback to 2012…

    And lo, he saw a pillar of fire

    In what scientists are calling “the new normal,” a Biblical vortex of flame that springs up from the shrublands of Curtin Springs, NT, Australia is captured by TV cameraman Chris Tangey.

    While ordinary twisters are definitely a thing of the past, scientists warn that it may not always be possible to say in advance whether a given freaknado is made of fire or sharks.

    • In Oklahoma’s Tornado Alley, vortices passing over lakes routinely sweep up catfishnadoes and bassnadoes. I suppose in NT, you frequently suffer emergent toadnadoes.

      • Actually there are a lot fewer toads these days. The crows figured out how to eat them without being poisoned – they flip them and eat the non toxic underbelly.

      • In St John’s Newfoundland, years ago, parts of the city were bombarded by frozen eider ducks. Now those would smart if they hit you.

      • It is thought that the common sight of small fish in ephremeral inland waters can be due to their transport in storms. Alternatively, transport of eggs on the legs of wading birds. There are beautiful thunderstorms many times a day over the Top End in the wet. When you see their power day after day you cannot help feel like Willis, that there is a weather consequence from them large enough to be needed in models. Geoff

      • “It is thought that the common sight of small fish in ephremeral inland waters can be due to their transport in storms.”

        Hmmmmm … this is possibly an explanation of how salmon that supposedly ALWAYS return to the streams from which they have been spawned can begin to populate other streams from which they have not been spawned.

    • Very interesting photos ,not seen one of those before ,I guess from comment above that this was taken in oz ,or maybe usa.What started it ? The heat is at the bottom not the top . .Was this a localised patch of dry brushwood getting overheated?start of a forest fire?.the base is wider than the discrete column.The column of fire seems to be very high ? maybe 100 feet (30m)or more? &very ‘contained ‘& this maybe most likely due to the vortex effect,but for the fire to keep burning to that sort of height it suggests it must also be’ sucking’ up combustible materials within itself ??? any suggestions?

      • Kendo2016,

        like all denihilists, you seem to be fixated on coming up with an elaborate series of natural mechanisms to explain natural phenomena.

        In my book The New Pseudoscientists: Denialization And Its Discontents, I call this the ‘Anything But Us’ syndrome.

        What people like you are never willing to accept is that thousands of the IPCC’s top computer modellers have all tried desperately to come up with a natural explanation. And failed laughably.

        The fact is, these phenomena just don’t make sense unless we’re now in an Anthropocene (or ‘Supernatural’) stage of our planet’s history.

        Your attempts to assign natural causes to natural effects are viewed by all reputable scientists as magical thinking, at best, and stealth marketing for Big Oil at worst.

      • Doesn’t look so elaborate to me. Elaborate is extrapolating lab results in controlled settings to the immensity of the Earth’s climate system, and invoking unobserved positive feedback of water vapor to produce catastrophic scenarios AND WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!

      • Bartemis,

        (Assuming you’re not just an alias for Kendo2016, funded and trained by Big Vested Interest to give the inflated appearance of disagreement):

        If there really existed some Rube-Goldbergian combination of physical mechanisms that could account for the unremitting Old Testament plague of cyclonic infernos, firephoons and other once-per-million-years Extreme Flame Events we now take for granted in all of our daily lives, don’t you think The Scientists would have discovered it and shouted from the rooftops that ‘It’s Not Us!’

        Remember, nobody sane WANTS man-made climate degradation to be true. Any climate scientist on earth would love nothing better than to discover that their life’s work, and that of their colleagues, had been wasted on a false alarm. Their newly-unemployed peers would idolize them. A Nobel Prize awaits. Et cetera.

      • kendo, if you carefully watch a fire, such as in a fireplace, the flames actually occur just over the surface of the wood. That is, the volatiles inside the wood are being driven out by the heat, and are part of the flames that you observe. The wood does get consumed also, but only after most of the volatiles have been driven out. Thus, when a mass of organic debris on the ground is on fire, much of what we see as flames are these volatiles. The intense heat rises, drawing up these gases, and can form the columns of fire. It is not chunks of biologic material being drawn up, it is the volatiles being driven off of them. There is probably some required density of biologic material that is required, to give off sufficient volatiles to form the column.

      • Brad, I’m missing something apparently, but what did anything you say have to do what Kendo asked?

      • Brad, computer models can’t mimic natural causes for global temperature changes that have happened in the past. If they can’t help us understand natural causes of past global temperature change, how can we know they are right about unnatural causes of global temperature change?

      • The Exorcist:

        Brad, I’m missing something apparently, but what did anything you say have to do what Kendo asked?

        The Exorcist, you’re missing something apparently, because what anything I said had to do with what Kendo asked had to do with what Kendo said when he asked…

        What started it ?

        I responded to, debunked and refuted Kendo’s question for the disingenuous talking-point it was, since which time not one scientific body of national or international standing has publicly said they disagree with me.

        You knew all this, but were pretending not to.

        O ye of little faith.

      • “…don’t you think The Scientists would have discovered it and shouted from the rooftops that ‘It’s Not Us!’”

        This suggests scientists are some special class of humans without normal human foibles or weaknesses.

        The fact of the matter is, the population of scientists obeys Sturgeon’s Law, just like any other class of humans or their works. Fully half are below average, and the other half are mostly incompetent. Maybe 10% actually know what they are doing, and most of them are not climate scientists.

    • Events like dust devils or hurricanes are too small to be represented on a model grid (Irma would be represented by just 9 geographic points). Models “parametrize” these phenomena, with a varying but low degree of success.

      • lsvalgaard September 8, 2017 at 8:09 pm: “No, the interaction between the convection and the magnetic field.”

        WR: Mr. Svalgaard, what do we know about te interaction between convection and the magnetic field on Earth?

      • Convection in the fluid core also generates a magnetic field, but on time scales of thousands of years, so is not really comparable to the sunspot phenomenon.

      • Wim. None whatsoever for two reasons: One is that the field strength of the Solar magnetic field is many orders of magnitude stronger than the Earth’s. The other is that the matter on the Sun is so hot that it is highly ionised and therefore an almost perfect conductor; this makes for a very efficient coupling between the matter and the magnetic field. In the Earth’s atmosphere such coupling is completely absent.

      • lsvalgaard: “Convection in the fluid core also generates a magnetic field, but on time scales of thousands of years, so is not really comparable to the sunspot phenomenon.”

        WR: One more question about the magnetic field: “The displacement of the Magnetic North and the Magnetic South Pole, could that have any influence on the functioning of the atmosphere and if so, which one”?

    • To Brad, i find your comments somewhat obscure ,or maybe you are being sarcastic?Also,for the record , i have no connections whatsoever with Big Oil,or any other similar organisation either pro or anti AGW theory .

      • Bartemis and Kendo2016,

        Let’s assume, arguendo, that you’re not just aliases of each other, funded and coached by Big Vested Interest to give the inflated illusion that not everyone agrees with me.

        If there really existed some Rube-Goldbergian combination of physical mechanisms that could account for the unremitting Old Testament plague of cyclonic infernos, firephoons and other once-per-million-years Extreme Incendiary Events we now take for granted in all of our daily lives, don’t you think The Scientists would have discovered it and shouted from the rooftops: ‘It’s Not Us!’

        After all, nobody sane wants man-made climate degradation to be true. The average climate scientist would love nothing better than to prove that their life’s work, and that of their colleagues, had been based on a false alarm. Their newly-unemployed peers would idolize them. A Nobel Prize awaits. Et cetera.

      • Brad is often mistakenly thought to be some sort of satirist, but that is merely a reflection of the style and content of his writing. In fact, he is the proprietor of Climate Nuremberg, the world’s leading anti-denialis web site.

      • So says this Brad person,
        “After all, nobody sane wants man-made climate degradation to be true. The average climate scientist would love nothing better than to prove that their life’s work, and that of their colleagues, had been based on a false alarm.”

        You actually believe this?
        I spit my coffee lagging when I read that

      • honestliberty,

        What matters is not so much whether I actually believe it, but whether you actually believe I actually believe it. Nudge nudge wink wink say no more say no more.

      • Brad –

        “After all, nobody sane wants man-made climate degradation to be true. The average climate scientist would love nothing better than to prove that their life’s work, and that of their colleagues, had been based on a false alarm.”

        Who says they are sane? Frankly, I see elements of Messiah Complex, Malevolent Narcissism, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Sadomasochism fairly well represented among them.

  2. Excellent article. The limit on these ‘energy escape tunnels’ is the same limit as the cloud point for water vapor. ie no water vapor to carry the energy and to shield energy transfer in the various directions would mean there could be no energy transfer of this type. BUT, our atmosphere will always contain water vapor therefore we will always have this phenomena. And it will have a significant effect.

    • One or two extra “escape tunnels” per day would be sufficient to remove most of the extra heat that CO2 is capable of producing.

    • also…as Willis as pointed out before, as water T increases the affect is not linear but exponentially increases in thunderstorm formation.

  3. Excellent analysis. But it’s not just vortices (thunderstorms, dust devils, tornados, hurricanes) that take warm air above with increased radiation to space. As a rule of thumb, 10% of the afternoon sky is filled with updrafts that carry often moist, heated air from the surface to the height of the next inversion in the atmosphere. These are not vortices, but blobs of heated air that started within just a few inches of the surface. Non-motorized paragliders fly these thermals for hours on many warm days using nothing but invisible thermals to stay aloft. I count myself among them. These heated blobs generally rise until they reach an inversion, typically a few thousand feet above the ground–not as high as a thunderstorm, but there are orders of magnitude more of them than vortices–10% of the sky on a hot day.

    These thermals are also often organized in particular patterns over broad regions. Since they carry moisture up until the moisture condenses as clouds, you can often see these structures from high flying commercial airlines. Look out the window for them when flying cross-country. The hot house Earth is holier than Swiss cheese.

    • Thanks, Dan. Indeed, thermals rise over heated areas of the ground. I flew a sailplane once and know the feeling. However, if you were able to see the thermals, you’d see that they too are vortices, spinning as they rise. The spin is a big factor in determining which way the buzzards circle in a thermal—like any good pilot they want to be cruising upwind. So they circle in the opposite sense to the thermal helix …

      w.

      • Willis, this is debated among paraglider and hang glider pilots. It seems reasonable that thermals will generate some rotation. However, a paraglider is slow enough to feel the bumps and jerks of the blob pieces. Some do pick up some rotation, but most just remain blobs like you will see if you have something visible to watch in slow boiling water. I’m one of those who fly several hours when I fly, and I have paid a lot of attention due to the number of pilots who meet their maker in dust devils and other accidents. I’ve been studying dust devils for this reason. Most thermals are disorganized blobs that don’t have an organized rotation. Dust devils absolutely do as you can see when they pick up dust. But dust devils are generated by a much different mechanism.

      • Dan Harrison September 8, 2017 at 5:52 pm

        Willis, this is debated among paraglider and hang glider pilots. It seems reasonable that thermals will generate some rotation.

        Thanks for the info, Dan. All I can say is that every day the buzzards ride a combination of thermals and ridge lift up past my house. Most days I see the majority of the buzzards circling in the same direction.

        w.

      • We, paraglider and hang glider pilots, also do circle in the same direction. The reason is not the spinning direction of the thermal, though, but avoiding collisions. Birds also do have other reasons to fly in flocks, grouped, than the thermal circling direction. Yes, thermals do spin, usually, but it’s less extreme at altitude than in a dust devil. I doubt it counts when climbing up in a thermal. I frequently change the direction of turn (when circling alone) in thermals with my intermediate hang glider – it’s quite exhausting to fly it – and I did not notice any improvement in climbing due of the circling direction.

  4. Double thumbs up on this article. It explains something I’d never would have thought about on my own, and was done so in a clear and understandable manner.

  5. Willis,

    I’m with you all the way. Check out the ‘dimples” at the top of Irma near the vortex. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/09/06/the-most-fantastic-eyewall-video-of-a-hurricane-ive-ever-seen-irma/

    I’ve created the fire vortex burning brush piles. They drew no smoke nor emitted none. I described them as ‘fire tornadoes’.

    Also consider the effects of the hurricane eye wall. One side is basically static and the other is raging. That in itself should set up the vortex piping. Seems to be seen at the top of hurricanes near the eye wall.

  6. Climate models also entertain a hyperviscous atmosphere so as to suppress small atmospheric energy gyres – the enstrophic energy cascades that Gerald Browning worked on, and discusses on Steve McIntyre’s blog.

    The atmospheric energy cascade goes in both directions – downward from large to small kinetic gyres, and from small up to large. The hyperviscosity suppresses this entire energy exchange in climate model simulations.

    So, nothing of what you describe, Willis, is possible to simulate in a climate model, no matter even if they decreased the grid-scale right down to 50 meters.

    • That’s interesting information Pat. I was aware of the work of Christopher Essex, in revealing that model grid sizes were unable to resolve major convective heat transfer mechanisms like thunderstorms, but was unaware of an even deeper limitation (impossibility!) within models to even be able to intrinsically incorporate them. And we’re STILL fed the line, “But the models all tell us that …”

  7. Thank you sir. One of the best ways to visualize the prevalence and distribution of thunderstorms is by lightning detection. NASA has a page here. https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=6679 I hope there will be ever more advanced detection, mapping, and recording capabilities developed. Every stroke of lightning and clap of thunder is a powerfully annunciated message that heat cannot be successfully “trapped” down here where we live. It is reported that there are about 1.4 billion lightning strikes per year globally. “Heat pipes” are all over the place, and the climate models are powerless to authoritatively simulate their effect.

  8. A lot of wildfire fighters see that. It is rare but incredible. Most large fires are capable of creating their own weather.

    One thing I would like to ask is that it seems that hurricanes can spawn tornadic activity as well, please correct me if I am wrong but if that is the case, wouldn’t it be prudent to advise those in the areas affected of that possibility?

    Also, is there any good info on what part of a hurricanes ‘body’ or conditions that are conducive to such activity?

    Thanks!

  9. Someone has to be the pedant, so I’ll volunteer today. Where do islanders who never see a cloud or rain get fresh drinking-water from?

  10. Complex models running on supercomputers are unable to predict the weather more than about a week in advance. The limitation of complex models is becoming obvious in many scientific fields. Emergent behavior and the chaotic nature of complex systems thwart any kind of finite element modelling. There is strong evidence that simple, model-free, algorithms are better predictors. link

    It may be mathematically provable that Monckton et al’s Irreducibly Simple Model is superior to the supercomputer models.

    Here’s a link to a previous WUWT story on Judith Curry’s climate model study that concludes that they are not useful as projections for how the 21st century will actually evolve. One commenter observed that they had no hope unless the element size could be reduced to 1 mm. I’m not even that confident. ;-)

    • Supercomputer models do however work pretty well for thermonuclear explosions.

      The gnomes of NCAR unfortunately imagined that they could use the military supercomputers in CO to model climate.

      That’s a negatory.

      • I was first in Colorado (Boulder) in the early 70’s at an NSF workshop, and there was a tour to NCAR. They had a CDC Star in those days, outputting (as I remember) to film. They were working on weather modeling, but the model was not that efficient, and the Star, even though it was the fastest computer of its day, took slightly more than 24 hours to do the “next day weather” run. The joke was that you ran the model, and tested it by looking out the window…

      • Yes, I worked for Stan Barnes of NOAA and Doug Lily of NCAR back in the early 70’s, writing whatever FORTRAN IV programs they wanted for project SESAME (Severe Environmental Storms And Meso-scale Experiment). One of the programs I developed graphed data from balloon sondes with output directly to microfilm. I was working on modeling vorticities for Doug Lily when I took a job elsewhere.

        I remember both Stan and Doug saying that in order to have an accurate weather forecast 2 weeks out, one would have to take into account the energy transfer of every dust-devil on the earth; and if data-collecting instruments were positioned at such a small grid size, the instruments themselves would physically interfere with the weather.

  11. Here’s Dr. Trenberth’s latest (I think) heat budget:

    It says 17 W/M² for thermals and 80 W/M² for thermals. Does that include tornadoes, water spouts, hurricanes and fire devils?

    I know that when I’ve been to the tropics, cooling afternoon showers are common. We are led to believe that the tropics are boiling hot deserts or steaming jungles. Not that those don’t exist, but the usual image projected by our wonderful media exaggerates the extremes and ignores the climate type where most of the world’s population lives.

  12. Typical Willis, even without the by-line on Anthony’s front page, I knew it was Willis by the writing style.
    So now I’ve got to clear all distractions and try to keep up. That said, I’ll scroll back up and start reading.
    (that was a compliment).

    • I knew by the title that it was Willis. So I immediately checked out the post/thread. I always enjoy Willis’s posts, even though some of them I don’t understand…when you get into the complicated graphics…
      JPP

  13. As for climate models being unable to model thunderstorms because their gridcells are larger than thunderstorms: The same is true of the GFS weather model, but it models thunderstorm systems and unorganized areas of convective thunderstorms.

    • Now that I am home with a computer that does selecting, copying and pasting of text more easily than my phone does, here is a quote of the words I am referring to: “The global climate models cannot model thunderstorms, much less have them spontaneously emerge from a relatively uniform background. One problem is that their gridcells are too large, much larger than thunderstorms and most other emergent phenomena that cool the surface.”

  14. Whirl?

    This might be another example of the cultural appropriation of words by the English language..

    http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/whirl

    English doesn’t borrow from other languages.
    English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over, and rummages through their pockets for loose grammar.

    – Paraphrase of a quote by James Davis Nicoll

  15. Perhaps a small point but I doubt that there is no IR interaction in such things. I don’t have the means to experiment but I suspect that a photo in IR would shows considerable radiation from the vortex, not the nothing stated in the essay. Also, I can think of no reason incoming IR would be blocked (except, in both cases, by the solid matter being carried aloft with the heat).

      • Any atmospheric vortex that contains a considerable concentration of energy (are there some that don’t?) should be radiating in the IR. Any atmospheric vortex should be receiving IR if IR is being radiated from anywhere near enough for the vectors to intersect (but not necessarily absorbing or storing it).

        The vortex in this article’s photo is obviously radiating in the visible spectrum, which is probably a greater energy loss than that from the IR part of the spectrum. However, without measurements, any NET gain or loss of energy is mere speculation.

      • Three essay quotes:
        This vortex is totally contained within the cloud and is not interacting with the surrounding atmosphere either physically or radiatively.
        A bit of heat evaporates some water at the surface. It is now latent heat in some lifting parcel of air. Because as latent heat it doesn’t warm the air parcel, it doesn’t increase the shortwave radiation. It’s not interacting radiatively with the atmosphere.
        After the latent heat is lifted up through the bottom of the thunderstorm, it condenses as sensible heat. But it is condensing inside the cloud, so once again there is only the most minimal of radiative interaction with the atmosphere.

        It surely is radiating IR, losing energy and heat to the atmosphere as it ascends. I have no idea how much; it quite possibly is carrying a major part of that energy to the top, but there are no quantities expressed here. Is anything specific actually known?

  16. NSF would never agree to this.

    NSF: YOU will have to first abandon these …. chemistry, geology, meteorology and physics … ideas! They are Caucasian Male phantasmagoria! Having cut off your gentiles, Then … employ … Children “Scientists!” … Public “Scientists!”

    Social … is Science … Physical is SHIT!

    NSF: You will be given … 2-months pay … While the Children and Public will be given 12-months pay.

    NSF: You may … sniff … my feet … vile servant!

  17. How much heat does a hurricane deliver to space?
    How much surface ocean cooling does a hurricane cause?
    Will Jose be smaller than Irma because Irma has cooled the ocean surface?

    • Joel Hammer September 8, 2017 at 8:55 pm

      How much heat does a hurricane deliver to space?
      How much surface ocean cooling does a hurricane cause?
      Will Jose be smaller than Irma because Irma has cooled the ocean surface?

      Good questions all. Total heat “to space” is a rather elusive concept, so I can’t answer your first question.

      Surface cooling behind hurricanes has been scientifically measured. No reference, but a search would find it. My guess is that it would be on the order of a few °C.

      Finally, you ask:

      Will Jose be smaller than Irma because Irma has cooled the ocean surface?

      Yes and no. What is more likely is that Jose will actively avoid the path of Irma. Because cold air is heavier than warm air, thunderstorms and hurricanes typically move to warmer areas.

      If it does end up on the same path, yes, ceteris paribus, it will be weaker. However, there are many factors involved in hurricane growth and strength other than SST …

      w.

  18. Excellent rundown. It’s a great pity that the simplistic “greenhouse Earth” pictures kids are indoctrinated with (by indoctrinated teachers) can’t be replaced by a dynamic graphic showing holes spontaneously opening above hotspots, then sealing up as the heat diminishes beneath them… together with the compulsory bright red stuff being dissipated to space. Maybe something along the lines of this

    • Clearly a strong pattern of recurrent activity. Hard to imagine the energy involved. If this is not included in climate models, then the energy must be part of the parameterization. Given the chaotic nature of climate, using models to predict local effects would seem to be hopeless.

    • Quite interesting video. You can see the effect of seasons (from north to south and vice versa), the effect of the time of the day (moving from right to left) and the effect of land masses: most lightning is above land masses.

  19. I have read efficient self-organization of energy transfer, nature finding the path of least resistance, referred to a seeming natural law. What is the term that is used? Anyone know? Discussed here at WUWT in the last few years.

    Willis’ essay prompts me to wonder whether the existence of such a law would by itself be enough to deduce that water vapor feedback effects must be net negative? The reasoning here would be that, in response to a temperature forcing, since there will be more heat energy to dissipate, that dissipation will become more efficient–with more energy to work with, the machinery of dissipation is able to organize itself into more efficient forms–which will have the effect of dampening rather than amplifying the forcing.

    Certainly there are plenty of feedback effects that amplify rather than dampen an impetus. Nuclear bombs come to mind. But are there any examples of amplifying feedbacks that work without releasing energy from other stored forms, atomic, chemical, potential, whatever?

  20. Great writing, Willis.

    A hang-glider told me that ploughed land was a good way to find thermals as the ground gets hotter than grassland. Little puffs of cloud that suddenly appear indicate the top and there is often a hole with wispy cloud spinning around it. They can appear and disappear very rapidly.

    I once heard brolgas trumpeting and searching the sky saw them as small dots, a long way up in the sky, circling in a thermal. They have a very musical trumpeting sound and it was quite eerie to hear from so far above.

    • @Old Woman of the North
      September 9, 2017 at 1:03 am: Same with new-mown hay. The amount of available water for vapour should mean a lot re strength and cloud formation.

  21. Willis, what you say makes a lot sense but it is not correct to say that models to not take account of this effect. They are just incapable of modelling the process, so they represent the overall effect by guestimated parameters. This is one of the multiple fudge factors which enables them keep high sensitivity to CO2 and still roughly reproduce the temperature record at least since 1960 ( brush the rest under the carpet, it does match ).

    This tropical convection and the heat radiated from the high troposphere is what gives rise to the mid troposphere tropical “hot spot” in the models which turned out to be barely detectable rather than being hot.

    This implies that the extra surface heat from GHE is much less than predicted, rather than it is happening and being evacuated by more heat pipes. A slight increase in cloud cover over the tropics would easily reduce incoming solar to balance any GHE excess.

    The emergent phenomena seem to be important as cause of cloud than as heat pipes.

  22. To the moderater!

    I would like to send Willis Eschenbach an e-mail conversation with the “Geoengineering Group” about hurricane moderation and all kind of “devils”.
    Could you ask him if he could provide his e-mail address.
    I also would like to send this to WUWT.

    Juergen Michele
    Prof. Dr.-Ing. Juergen Michele
    Jade Hochschule
    Wilhelmshaven

    Tel.: 0049 4461 83043
    E-Mail: juergen.michele@jade-hs.de
    Homepage: http://michele.staff.jade-hs.de/
    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Juergen_Michele/contributions

    Private:
    Soestestr. 3
    26419 Schortens

  23. “Thunderstorms can also continue into the night, in part because thunderstorms are a dual-fuel heat engine. They can run on either warm air or humid air, and they generate their own humid air from winds under the base of the storm. But I digress …”
    Willis, first off, thank you for bringing understanding and clarity to the way these magnificent heat engines work. Brilliant.
    With regards to your digression, could it be that the contraction that occurs when water vapour turns back to water as it condenses resulting in a lowering of pressure relative to the surrounding air be part of the way a thunderstorm works? It might in part explain why they keep on going into the night.
    As a teen living in Johannesburg in South Africa I constantly marvelled at how a hot summers day with not a cloud in the sky could transmogrify in a few hours, one wispy cloud at a time, into giant thunderstorms with it raining cats and dogs which continued late into the night.

  24. Willis, it occurs to me that the concept of ‘self-emergent phenomena’ might also be a useful concept in sociology when studying the emergence of organisation in society. The organisation of, say, a village council might occur spontaneously as any settlement grows, leading to increasingly complex government structures. Do you know if anyone has looked at this?

    I am also tempted to think of a Green vortex as a self-emergent phenomenon, driven by a flow of money. It has become organised into a giant vortex feeding off the cash it sucks off the dirt people to throw into the cloud people. I could waste half a day just adding analogies!

    Thanks for your writings, you’re one of the people who really make me think!

  25. Willis, sorry to thread bomb but do you or anyone have expertise on the measuring history of hurricanes?

    We appear to have gone from ground based anemonitors to, about 1950s, flying into storms, to satellites with various instruments for each of the three methods. I have found out the plane readings we get are based on 10 sec duration, not one minute sustained as in ground based 10 m readings. I do not know the duration of the dropsondes also delivered from hurricane flights. I do not know how the recording instruments have changed.

    All of this leaves one very large question as to how do we, for example, compare the labor day hurricane some 82 years ago to Irma, or Harvey, which, based on ground based only readings was likely a CAT 2. Or, for instance, how to compare modern “ACE” measurements to past active seasons.

    It appears likely that past tropical systems were underestimated relative to today, and possible that even 1970s and later systems and events were under sampled and recorded relative to today’s 24 -7 monitoring and computer analysis. Yet with billions spent on CAGW research, this has not been done. ( Leif S did this with sunspots, but I guess we cannot do this now as the answers don’t fit the narrative)

  26. [quote](Thunderstorms can also continue into the night, in part because thunderstorms are a dual-fuel heat engine. They can run on either warm air or humid air, and they generate their own humid air from winds under the base of the storm. [/quote]

    I am not in any way disagreeing with you (since I know so little), but have a question. Last month two small thunderstorms that came through here at roughly 2 AM – two days in a row! I can’t ever remember having thunderstorms at that time of day before. I live in rural NE Wyoming, near the Black Hills. The humidity here (on the ground anyway) was less than 30% those mornings. We have had wildfires all around for weeks too.

    Can you shed any light on why we would have thunderstorms at 2 AM?

  27. I love this article. Loooove it…
    Finally, the greenhouse is smashed to pieces.

    I hope everyone understands this, the information in the article is not in anyway compatible with a greenhouse effect. This is because the article is true, and the GH-theory is a lie.

    Good work.

    • lifeisthermal
      September 9, 2017 at 5:33 am

      “………..This is because the article is true, and the GH-theory is a lie.”
      ————————————

      I agree with the article being considered true, but still considering what you call a GH-theory as a lie, is a bit far gone conclusion, as in the case of considering GCMs a lie, or climate models.

      I think is more a case of misinterpretation, intentional and some times forceful, than a plain lie.

      If I may put it in a very simple way, this article of Willis tries to explain how little effect dRF (delta Radiative Forcing) has to delta T.

      But you see, that is not the case about the delta E (energy). Still the effect of dRF is significant to dE.
      And there is a threshold to be considered when dE addressed.

      The difference between GCMs and reality is that the GCMs do a significant dT due to the dE as the result of dRF, aka the GCM warming, a plain and simple RF warming, which actually does not happen in nature.

      cheers

      • Ok, I accept what you write, for a moment. Because I looove this article. But lets just agree to disagree for the moment. We, the sceptics, are riding on a beautiful wave at the moment. Lets enjoy it together. But be prepared… Because something like, maybe quantum gravity, might come along and grind the gh-effect to dust

        Cheers/Lit

  28. This article is very good, and reinforces my own recent impressions. In the last couple of years I got my pilot’s license and began flying over prairies and mountains in all four seasons. My aircraft is limited to 14,000′ or so which means I am always in the weather. In aviation you spend a lot of time studying convective weather patterns. What has become apparent to me is the degree to which surface temperature is a very limited picture of what weather really is. In a winter inversion where I live, it can be minus 20c on the ground, and plus 5c in the circuit 1000′ feet up. Or in summer, the lapse rate steepens so much in the mid-afternoon that a flight is like being on a roller coaster. Anyone who has been in a small plane in convective weather knows how powerful these forces can be even before towering cumulus begin to form. If you fly through a towering cumulus, it’s like being in a tumble dryer. Not recommended. Then, fly into an area where a thunderstorm has already been and the air is stable again.

    The point is, the AGW religion really is a flat earth society. Climate is the whole thing, not one thin layer. If you can’t model in three dimensions with convective forces, sorry, you got nothin’ at all.

    • D P Laurable
      September 9, 2017 at 6:03 am

      The point is, the AGW religion really is a flat earth society. Climate is the whole thing, not one thin layer. If you can’t model in three dimensions with convective forces, sorry, you got nothin’ at all.
      ————————————-

      Yes, but them guys are not to be ignored.
      Even when there is a lot of noise and furore about AGW, technically the weight is now in the ACC, the goal posts have being changed.
      And as far as I can tell, if ignoring the dE resulting due to dRF and the contemplated threshold of dE (as for my above reply) then ACC still there technically, if anthropogenic emissions are causing the CO2 concentration trend, as it keeps being claimed……..:)

      cheers

  29. Emergent phenomenon is another way of describing convection. Add in all of the water evaporation/condensation and radiation transport in the troposphere is well under 50% of the heat transport. I had to think about Dr.Trenbert’s heat budget drawing put up by Steve Case. The net longwave heat transport in the troposphere shown there is 396-333 = 63 W/m^2. Thermals and evapo-transpiration is 17+80 =97 W/m^2 so radiation transport is only 39% of the total. The warmists are claiming that a minor change in that 39% due to CO2 will have large bad effects. If CO2 has a small effect on the convection and evaporation/condensation in the 61% of the heat transport, this would provide the negative feedback that would reduce the effect of more CO2.

    The modellers are assuming a fixed dynamic system and claim a increase in CO2 back radiation will warm the surface waters and increasing water vapor and amplifying the effect. Changes in the radiation would only be in the 39% of the total heat transport. A small change in the dynamics for the 61% of the heat transport would have 1.54 times the effect.

    Consider a clear air rising packet of moist air cooling at the dry adiabatic rate. A increase in CO2 will absorb a little more of the net upward long wave radiation, slightly warming the packet and delaying the onset of condensation. I suspect that this will end up slightly increasing the height of the tropopause with a corresponding drop in the temperature of the tropopause. This would cause slightly more water to condense out. The resulting cooled and dryer descending air would be have less water vapor and intercept less of the up-welling longwave radiation and would be slightly cooler when it reached the ground.

    Convection and evaporation/condensation would increase due to an increase in CO2 and it would reduce the effect of the decrease in radiation transport. The critical region to understand would be between the bottom and the tops of the clouds. Current climate models don’t do clouds.

  30. I think Richard Lindzen had a similar thought process when he introduced the “Iris Effect” theory in 2001. It was dismissed by the warming-faithful, but more recent work seems to have affirmed the idea.

  31. An excellent and very educational post. Several people have referred to fire vortices and one example that I would point to is the horrific vortice of fire after the last great Tokyo earthquake which caused the city to burn in a fierce firestorm. As tens of thousands looked for somewhere to flee to, they were directed onto some island mudflats by the local police, thinking the people would be safe there. Soon some ten thousand (if I remember rightly) people were crowded onto these islands. Then a huge fire vortice generated by the firestorm swept out of the burning city and tragically went across the bay straight over the mudflats where the people were sheltering. Thousands were instantly incinerated by this fire tornado. The poor chief of police who had thought he was saving lives subsequently committed suicide and it must have been horrendous for him to have seen the fate of his people. Presumably these vortices can, as in the Tokyo example, get extremely large depending on what feeds their initial conditions and then leave their point of origin to assume a dangerous and unpredictable course.

  32. “There are reports, for example, that some countries have been trying to construct something like an Ebola virus, and that would be a very dangerous phenomenon, to say the least. Some scientists in their laboratories [are] trying to devise certain types of pathogens that would be ethnic specific, so that they could just eliminate certain ethnic groups and races; and others are designing some sort of engineering, some sort of insects that can destroy specific crops. Others are engaging even in an eco-type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes [and] volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves.”
    –- William S. Cohen, Secretary of Defense, 1997
    —————————————————————————————

    That quote is not fake news: There is (or was) a Youtube video of Cohen making this remark during an impromptu q&a session at Georgia Tech.

    Reckon any progress in these areas has been made since 1997? Reckon the USAF was blowing smoke when it stated in 2005 that its goal was “owning the weather” by 2025? Reckon they were the only folks working on this? Could the “atmospheric heaters” (phased-array microwave transmitters) built by the US, Russia and others be used to create an energy vortex to influence storms? (And if a technology exists that steers and intensifies hurricanes, wouldn’t that be an act of war, Mr Putin?) Reckon Climate Change™ is a cover story for climate manipulation?

  33. Are these “vortex” dust devils, fire dogs, etc. following the same principles, rules, etc. as the vortex that appears when you drain your bathtub? That is do they rotate in the opposite direction south of the equator? The typical bathtub, kitchen sink vortex only takes about an inch or so of water to create this vortex, which is not very much difference in pressure. I have seen many of the dust devils when walking through plowed fields on a hot day. Which begs the question “Do they also exist on most hot days but are not visible because they are not picking up any dust which is needed to make them visible?”

  34. So let me see if I understand this: An almost-thunderstorm will keep its heat near ground level up to the point to which it becomes an actual thunderstorm which then transfers its heat, via a pipe it creates, up from the ground level to the upper atmosphere.

    Nifty.

    • If the above is true then someone living in an area that possesses thunderstorm conditions will end up being cooler than someone living in an area that has almost-thunderstorm conditions.

      Again, nifty.

  35. The vortex is one of the great underrated phenomena neglected by science. All energy seems to move in a vortex under the right conditions. Your toilet does and so do Birkeland currents. Does light? Cosmic rays? Heat transfer in solid objects? Why does lightening (a vortex) sometimes form during volcanic eruptions? Many areas of research untapped.

  36. A long time ago when we sprayed cattle with DDT to keep the flies away (and sometimes each other, before idiots outlawed it) I was on horseback helping to gather them for one of the three or four times a year. Lighting began appearing on the small hills next to the one I was on at the time, for several seconds. It did seemed to appear all at once, flicker a few times then stop. No rain was falling, as other bolts struck further away. I was about 16 at the time, but the memory stays. To dumb to be scared, I watched the show, until our neighbor asked to take his son to the house, about two miles distant, during which it started to rain, and the bolts began to stop. The lighting flickered when in contact with the earth–sometimes longer then others.

  37. This fits very well with my own thoughts, that I have percolated for quite awhile, a hurricane is a heat transport device. A friend of mine (kind of a conspiracy theorist) was talking about the government seeding tropical disturbance areas (with an unspecified chemical) to prevent them developing into hurricanes. I told him it would be a bad idea, whether or not the technology exists, it would be an extremely bad idea. Because if it is successful, if that seeding prevents a tropical disturbance from growing into a hurricane, it has stopped a heat transport from occurring, one that MUST occur or such a device as a hurricane would not exist, then where does that heat emerge? What unintended side affects occur? Would such a suppression exacerbate any effects Mankind does inflict on our environment (while I am certain CAGW is a crock, I can clearly see the effects mankind has on the environment all around us)? That sort of speculation could be an entire disaster movie all by itself, probably even better than “The Day After Tomorrow”!

  38. Willis, I’ve been thinking about your vortex theory the past day or so. A tornado is just that on a larger scale. It feeds itself but a frontal boundary often sets it off. A hurricane is possibly considered the same thing but on a much bigger scale.

    Now my thoughts have been focused on the ‘boundary’ between/along the hurricane eye wall. There are kinetic wind forces along that eye wall that would seem to set up vortices that would multiply the effect of a ‘piping’ situation. With the updraft in the inner hurricane (not inside the eye wall) those vortices may (probably) form and be carried upward as the air expands and immediately be replaced by another. Would this be shown by the observations of a ‘boiling’ effect just outside the eye wall as seen on the top of hurricanes?

    In a nutshell , vortices within a vortex? Scale matters?

    • To further expand on my thoughts regarding vortices along the hurricane eye wall. Could the sondes being dropped by the hurricane hunters be reading the speeds contained within the vortices created by the kinetic and piping effect? The atmospheric/sonde measured values seem to be inflated by about 50% greater than the ground measurements. NOAA needs to get a grip on this discrepancy as they are looking foolish or worse.

  39. @Brad Keyes September 9, 2017 at 7:17 am

    “…thousands of the IPCC’s top computer modellers [sic] have all tried desperately to come up with a natural explanation. And failed laughably.” Ouch. I think my uncontrollable eye roll just sprained a muscle. So you’re saying, if it can’t be modeled, it must not exist in the natural world? I think you got it precisely bass-ackward. (Notice I didn’t even begin to point out that the IPCC allegedly does no analysis of their own, they just compile the latest science published by researchers, at least that’s what they claim, and therefore there can be no such thing as an “…IPCC… top computer modeler…”.) This would also begin to explain the obsession with altering records throughout the world… if the facts don’t fit my pet theory (which has brought me millions of dollars in “research” grants, of course a chauffeured limo is strictly research, and not a little notoriety, who needs any Nobel Prize for new and original research when parroting the Party Line pays so well!), the facts must be wrong! Or did you just forget the “/sarc” tag and all my analysis was misdirected?

    • Red94ViperRT10,

      the latest W3 consortium’s HTML5 Reference—which is basically the Oxford Dictionary of HTML As She Is Now Spoken—makes no mention of a sarc tag.

      I don’t mean to be indelicate, but:

      Is that just another denihilist urban myth, I wonder—like Ian Plimer’s “underwater volcanoes” and the “31,000 skeptical climate experts who signed the Oregon Petition in a nakedly anti-scientific attempt to marginalize disagreement by the ancient fallacy of appealing to overwhelming majority”?

      Because if so, John Cook needs to know immediately.

  40. AndyHce September 9, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Three essay quotes:

    This vortex is totally contained within the cloud and is not interacting with the surrounding atmosphere either physically or radiatively.

    A bit of heat evaporates some water at the surface. It is now latent heat in some lifting parcel of air. Because as latent heat it doesn’t warm the air parcel, it doesn’t increase the shortwave radiation. It’s not interacting radiatively with the atmosphere.

    After the latent heat is lifted up through the bottom of the thunderstorm, it condenses as sensible heat. But it is condensing inside the cloud, so once again there is only the most minimal of radiative interaction with the atmosphere.

    It surely is radiating IR, losing energy and heat to the atmosphere as it ascends. I have no idea how much; it quite possibly is carrying a major part of that energy to the top, but there are no quantities expressed here. Is anything specific actually known?

    Andy, thanks for quoting what you are discussing. It makes things clear for everyone.

    The thing about clouds is that they are a nearly perfect insulator for longwave (infrared) radiation. This is true for the same reason that the surface of the earth is warmer than would be expected via the Stefan-Boltzmann relationship.

    It’s the poorly-named “greenhouse effect”.

    Consider the cumulonimbus tower. You are correct that the warm air rising in the interior vortex is radiating IR. But each water droplet in a cloud absorbs IR, with very high absorptivity. So the IR hits the first droplet in the cloud. When that droplet radiates, half goes back towards the core, and half goes outward … where it hits a second droplet. This again cuts the outbound radiation in half. Lather, rinse, repeat, as they say, and very soon the 1/2 — 1/4 — 1/8 — 1/16 is down to basically nothing.

    That’s why I said that that warm air is not interacting with the surrounding atmosphere. The IR is absorbed within the cloud.

    How efficient is it? Vortices are amazingly efficient, as you can see in the photo. I have no numbers, but I know that the amount of heat moved by thunderstorms is pretty amazing. In the wet tropics where three metres of rain per year is not uncommon, that’s a 24//7/365 average of 240 W/m2 … see my post entitled How Thunderstorms Beat The Heat for more thoughts on the energy moved.

    Regards,

    w.

    • Willis Eschenbach September 9, 2017 at 10:32 pm: “How efficient is it? Vortices are amazingly efficient, as you can see in the photo. I have no numbers, but I know that the amount of heat moved by thunderstorms is pretty amazing.”

      WR: Ian W found some calculations by NOAA for the energy of a hurricane. See his comment: https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/spherical-heat-pipe-earth/#comment-20175

      A part of his comment and the link for the calculations:
      Ian W says: 11 July 2011 at 9:58 am: A typical hurricane rain production in one day uses energy “equivalent to 200 times the world-wide electrical generating capacity ”
      The same hurricane in terms of kinetic energy in one day uses the “equivalent to about half the world-wide electrical generating capacity”
      See http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/D7.html

  41. Willis writes

    Too many climate scientists ask “Why do thunderstorms form? What causes them?”

    This is still a perfectly valid question but the mistake the climate scientists make is expecting they can answer in a way that will enable them to simulate one within their modeled world by combining existing oceanic and atmospheric components in juuust the right way.

    That’s destined to fail of course, just like modeling clouds is a fail and modeling ENSO is a fail.

    IMO the best way to answer “Why do thunderstorms form?” is to first recognize that the atmosphere doesn’t want to be any warmer at the surface and colder above the ERL than it has to be and that feedbacks will naturally minimize it in line with entropy maximization. Thunderstorms are one of those negative feedbacks.

    Sorry what was I thinking. In line with *funding*, one should first recognize that thunderstorms are warming the planet and its worse than we thought.

  42. Wim Rost wrote 9/9/17, 9:23 am, “One more question about the magnetic field: The displacement of the Magnetic North and the Magnetic South Pole, could that have any influence on the functioning of the atmosphere and if so, which one?”

    Harry Todd— Significant influence because 21% of the atmosphere is paramagnetic and the poles are wandering. Study a new investigation of the relationship at this link: https://www.harrytodd.org

    A completely new analysis of the atmosphere and climate change awaits you!

    • Thanks Harry, it will take some time to read and digest. The idea is interesting. Did you ever wrote a small article about the whole story, a post or so?

      • Wim, thanks for the reading-to-come. You are right about the need for a magazine type of summary/introduction. The original paper is cumbersome. When I get some time, I will attempt a reduction.

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