Watching Thunderstorms Chase The Hot Spots

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Once on a lovely hot August day in eastern Oregon, my gorgeous ex-fiancee and I sat entranced and watched a parade of dust devils. I’ve written about dust devils before, they’re one of my favorite emergent phenomena.

Like many such emergent climate phenomena, dust devils are driven by a temperature difference between the surface and the surrounding atmosphere. Once that temperature difference (called “delta-T”) is exceeded, dust devils form spontaneously.

The relevant climate effect of the dust devils is to move heat aloft from the surface, and thus cooling the surface. And since they are temperature-driven, dust devils form first and preferentially on the hottest part of the local surface. From there, they are generally moved away from that hot spot by the wind, and eventually die away and disperse entirely.

In this case, the hottest spot in the local area was a plowed field in a large area of small scattered bushes near the road. When we saw the dust devil form over the field we stopped in awe. It was big, lifting clouds of dust from the fertile ground. Then the wind moved it off of the hot spot, parallel to the road. Once it left the plowed field, it was throwing up less dust. But to replace it the dust devil tossed leaves and twigs and pebbles.

So the dust devil drifted away with the wind … and just when we were getting ready to start the car and leave we looked, and another one was forming over the plowed field. Out of nothing it spun into reality, growing, growling, whistling, kicking up dust … and then, once it was towering high above us, it followed its now-distant twin out of the plowed field and along the road into the wider world.

And then, of course, another dust devil formed over the plowed field … and for a half hour, it was groundhog day—over and over again, dust devils forming, strengthening, leaving home for their big adventure down the highway, and eventually dying out. I didn’t take any photos, but here’s a shot from the web that looks like what we saw.

dust devil on highway.png

I bring this up to highlight the fact that this system of cooling the surface with emergent climate phenomena is extremely effective because it is concentrated on the warmest spots. These are the very spots that are in greatest need of cooling, as well as being the spots where cooling will have the largest effect. The dust devils formed over and over in that same hot spot, and nowhere else in the surrounding fields.

With that as prologue, let me say that one of the reasons I greatly enjoy writing for the web is the immediate feedback that I get. The most valuable feedback is when someone points out something that I’ve done wrong. I can’t begin to calculate how many years of wasted effort I’ve been saved by someone saying “Um, dude … did you notice that you totally went off the rails right here?” … or more likely, something equally correct but much less pleasant. Fortunately, even unpleasant corrections are gold, they keep me out of blind alleys.

The next most valuable kinds of feedback are suggestions and support for further investigations, and in that regard comes this post. In my last post, Glimpsed Through The CloudsI put up a movie I made of the seasonal changes in the relationship between sea surface temperature and thunderstorms. Upon viewing it, a commenter wrote:

it would be interesting to see if this effect persists seasonally and if it varies through el nino/la nina periods. prevailing wind direction and ocean/ land temp differences will be factors.

great work once again willis .

So this is my entry in the temperature/thunderstorm Nino/Nina derby. The Nino/Nina gauge under the globe shows the value of the MEI, the Multivariate ENSO Index, for that month. The colors show the height of the clouds, with the high clouds being thunderstorms and the highest thunderstorms being the most powerful and having the greatest cooling effect. The black outlines, on the other hand, show sea surface temperatures of 27°, 28°, and 29°C. Note how the thunderstorms line up very neatly with the temperatures. Note also the steepness of the increase in thunderstorm strength with increasing temperature, as shown in Figure 6 in my previous post, Glimpsed Through The Clouds.  The temperature varies by a mere couple of degrees, and in response, the number and strength of the thunderstorms vary from none all the way up to YIKES!

Cloud Tops and Temperature all.gif

Not much to say except to marvel at how the thunderstorms constantly move so that they are exactly where they need to be in order to have the maximum cooling effect … what an amazing planet this is.

w.

MY POLITE REQUEST: Misunderstandings are the bane of the web. To avoid them, please QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS THAT YOU ARE DISCUSSING so we can all be clear about what you are referring to. Please note that although the request is polite, if you do not follow the request my response may indeed be less than polite …

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Quinn the Eskimo

That is really cool.

Ozwitch

Which is why I get irritated by people and agencies who smugly claim their goal is rid the earth of hurricanes. Why do they want to make the earth hotter?

Marcus Lennox

When you say gorgeous ex-fiancée…I infer she is now your spouse.

NW sage

Of course, the word “gorgeous” is the clue!

Alan Tomalty

She is gorgeous judging by the picture. Willis Do you think that climate modelers had the foresight to include dust devils?

noaaprogrammer

As I wrote on this site before: When I worked as a computer programmer for NOAA in Boulder, Colorado back in the early 1970s, my boss, Dr. Stan Barnes told me that chaos theory showed that in order to get accurate weather forecasts beyond two weeks in the future, one would have to monitor and record the energy transfer at the level of every dust devil; and if that were possible, the presence of so much monitoring equipment would interfere with what would have been the natural course of the weather.

ccscientist

And she has the good fortune to be married to “the most interesting man in the world” (outside of commercials, that is)

charles nelson

These are the ‘machines’ that drive the earth’s atmosphere. Radiative processes whilst real and measurable are literally ‘negligible’ in the face of such power.

When I was young I was a flight engineer on 727,s coming out of Darwin one day the radar showed hundreds of thunder storms so close together we could not go around them and so tall we could not go over them.Got hit by lightening at least 100 times blew all the ariels of the aircraft, fried generators,St Elmos fire creeping all over the inside of the cockpit and so bumpy I had eyeball bounce. Not a nice flight but I appreciate what Willis say’s about thunderstorms.

joelobryan

On the dust devils, what is happening is the toilet bowl whirlpool turned up-side down. A packet of air, heated by the sun-warmed surface pulls-away and begins to rise. A thermal is formed. This packet (just like a Lava Lamp blob of heated, colored wax in lighter oil) begins to rise faster as it ascends into cooler air. Buoyancy is taking over to lift the warm air blob. The cooler air rushes in from around the sides of the thermal blob and, conservation of momentum being just that, it begins to turn CCW. a dust devil.
So above the dust devil, it is like someone pulled the sink stopper out of the sky and the air above it is rising, while cooler air rushes in to fill the volume.

Down here in OZ when you pull the plug the water turns in the opposite direction to the northern hemisphere, I wonder if dust devils also turn opposite. [ they are called willy willies down here, do not know why maybe aboriginal name]

Bloke down the pub

I suspect that it was no coincidence that the dust devils Willis witnessed, and the one in the picture were next to roads(taking into account the greater chance of someone being there to see them). In a tv programme I saw about fire devils, the scientists were able to create them at will by lighting two troughs of flammable liquids. The troughs were at right angles to each other so that the air rushing in one side caused the rising air to spin. The black tarmac may well be playing the same role with the dust devils rising from the field.

Philip Mulholland

joelobryan

On the dust devils, what is happening is the toilet bowl whirlpool turned up-side down. A packet of air, heated by the sun-warmed surface pulls-away and begins to rise. A thermal is formed. This packet (just like a Lava Lamp blob of heated, colored wax in lighter oil) begins to rise faster as it ascends into cooler air. Buoyancy is taking over to lift the warm air blob. The cooler air rushes in from around the sides of the thermal blob and, conservation of momentum being just that, it begins to turn CCW. a dust devil.
So above the dust devil, it is like someone pulled the sink stopper out of the sky and the air above it is rising, while cooler air rushes in to fill the volume (i.e void).

What you are describing here is initiation of upward motion of an air mass. H/T
Elsewhere Stephen Wilde has posted a thought experiment in which he describes the overturning cycle of a planet wide convection cell. Objections are continuously and correctly being made that gravity per se cannot generate energy. However what I believe that Stephen is actually describing in his model are the ballistic trajectories of air masses in motion. Consider a cannon ball fired upwards from a cannon placed on the ground. As the ball rises against the force of gravity it looses the vertical component of its velocity as it gains height, but it correspondingly gains potential energy during the rise. At the top of the ballistic curve the ball reaches its maximum potential energy and then begins to fall. The ball arrives back on the ground (the zero potential energy surface) with the same speed as its original muzzle velocity but now moving down rather than up. Of course no energy has been created during its ballistic flight. The cannon ball however delivers the kinetic energy of its mass motion (minus the energy losses due to air friction) to its target.
In the Stephen Wilde model of vertical overturning of air parcels, the moving air mass delivers to the ground the kinetic energy of its mass motion not just the thermal energy of its particle motion.

tty

Here is where the really important GHG, i e water comes in. The hot rising air contains a lot of water vaport. As the air rises and cools the water vapor condenses to water drops and/or ice crystals releasing the proportionally huge latent heat of vaporization and melting. A fair proportion of this radiates out into space and the air (plus rain and/or snow) that sinks/falls back down has therefore lost a lot of energy.

justadumbengineer

I really appreciate your work willis…and a few others specifically bob t.
This all is really simple. The sun heats the oceans, the currents move the heat around, the oceans and atmosphere interact with landforms and we get cycles. the sun and orbital pulses, the massive heat sink of the oceans and wind movement induce amo, pdo, el nino and others. There is a natural heat escape to space in the arctic and as many have seen and thunderstorms pop up to cool localized hot spots. There is no runaway heating up of the earth. there is no increase in storms or catastrophic weather. Its all very natural. We are heating up slowly since the little ice age and we are cooling in waves since the Medieval Warm Period and we are someday headed for another glacial period.
CO2 increases are only helping to green the earth and raise crop yields. Hows that a problem?

John Francis

From one dumb engineer to another–Exactly!
How variations in the ppm of a trace gas are supposed to outweigh the cloud cover and water cycle variations has always been a mystery to me. Well not really. It has always been my belief that Noble Cause fools and calculating political actors have together spun a disaster scenario for personal gain

John, Not sure what sort of engineer you are but heat & mass transfer is a chemical and mechanical engineering subject as is fluid dynamics. Not all engineers have that training (especially civil engineers ). On the other hand so-called climate scientist also have no training or experience in heat & mass transfer or fluid dynamics and also know nothing of the chemical engineering subject reaction kinetics (which needs a knowledge of chemistry and mathematics). CO2 is a clean colorless gas that is necessary for plant growth. It also is breathed out by all animals including humans. CO2 is part of life. CO2 has no importance for the Grashof Number which used used in studies involving buoyancy

Jim Masterson

>>
It also is breathed out by all animals including humans.
<<
Many green plants are Eukaryotes and contain mitochondria. That means they carry on oxygen metabolism like animals. At night, these plants only breathe in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. During the day, in the presence of sunlight, they can do both oxygen metabolism and photosynthesis. At the basic level, mitochondria and chloroplasts convert ADP to ATP–which is money in the bank for any living organism.
Jim

AGW is not Science

+97,000,000

DonM

tie in with a simple thought…
increased CO2, with its increased reception of night time energy, slightly increases the rate of turnover. How much? And at the current concentration of GHG’s does the increased turnover (as relates to energy loss from atmosphere) outweigh the loss lag that is produced by the back radiation?
correct answer: who gives a shit; trying to take into account design parameters that are negligible, self correcting, self cancelling, or simply non-existent is something that someone does when they have no experienced oversight. (and/or they want to massage the negligibles into something they see as big and impressive … see the “engineer” at stanford).

eyesonu

Willis,
I’ve closely followed your several previous posts which were excellent. No comments by me as there were excellent discussions. Your emergent hypothesis hasn’t been debunked. Quite the contrary, it stands the test of time and attack. Good work.

joelobryan

And on Willis’ cool cloud-top animation (depicting thunderstorm tops): it demonstrates a major atmospheric cooling-heat transport mechanism via convection for a 17 year long period.
In the essence of that picture is essentially why the supercomputer climate models will never work because those complex convective process fields are simply parameterized in the models. And the parameters values themselves, poorly constrained by observation, are simply tuned and tweaked to achieve whatever CO2 sensitivity the modellers desire (confirmation bias).
And yet the pseudoscientist climate modellers model ever onward. Anxiously waiting for their cherished cargo planes to land.

Geronimo

all climate models include the effects of evaporation as the major source of heating of the upper atmosphere. There is nothing here that is not in the climate models. Or do you think that the scientists
put the satellites in orbit and then ignored the results while publishing the raw data on the web for others to
use (and abuse)?

MarkW

The modelers themselves have said that they don’t do clouds well.

M Courtney

Geronimo, look up the resolution of the climate models. How big a field do you think was creating these dust devils?
Weather is not linear. You can’t extrapolate for miles and still pick up the hotspots.
There is a lot here that is not in the climate models. Although the IPCC does acknowledge that.
The scientists do know that the climate models cannot work with current technology.

usurbrain

Please explain to me how do these “simplified” complex models using averages for degree square grids correct for the fact that while one portion of this grid is receiving a serious thunderstorm the other is in a significant heat wave with full sun.

zazove

If an inability to simulate down to a 5 or 10 meter grid invalidates any conclusion then shouldn’t we all just go home?

Germinio

ok. Clearly climate models can’t simulate anything smaller than a grid cell but the point is
that all models include convection and have the latent heat of evaporation as the dominant source of heating of the upper atmosphere. The relevant question is whether anything important is missed by modelling such processes using large scale averages rather than worrying about fine features like dust-devils. If you want to do fine scale forecasting then the answer is probably yes but if you want to do regional long time series forcasting then the answer is probably no.

joelobryan

Geronimo,
Read my comment. I did not say (or imply) that effects of evaporation were not in the models. I said they were parameterized (along with most processes that involve phase changes of water and the heat transfer as a result). And the values for those parameters (cloud parameters mostly) are so poorly constrained (uncertainty) in most instances that there is multiple sets of parameters values that can be used to tune a model (degeneracy).
So the modellers tune to get whatever ECS value they want. Junk science.
Modellers have made life-long careers with this stuff. It is no better than science fiction.

Geronimo, got very bad news for you. Convection cells on order of two km (tstorms, not dust devils) are ~7 orders of magnitude computationally intractible given best current supercomputers. So are parameterized. Sweeps in ypthe attributiin problem see pervious guest posts here “The Trouble with Models”, Why Models Run Hot”,and others.

zazove

I don’t think you can say “minimal weight”, that is a pre-judgement. As Geronimo implies, not being able to pick up fine grain disturbances like dust-devils doesn’t mean we can’t place some *appropriate* weight on broader forecasts.
As far as what is happening right now, yes systematic observations are usually reliable.

MarkW

Germinio, they have assumptions for everything below grid cell.
zazove: If the models aren’t able to accurately model the climate, than that isn’t a reason to give up, but it is a reason why the output of the models should not be used to make policy decisions based on.

MarkW

Observations are reliable. Interpretations of those observations aren’t.
Like the assumption that most of the recent warming is caused by CO2 is an assumption based almost 100% on the output of the models.
If the models are not sufficiently robust, then such a claim cannot be supported.

zazove

“the assumption that most of the recent warming is caused by CO2 is an assumption based almost 100% on the output of the models.”
You are mixing tenses.
“Recent” warming is an observation. Observations are the past, they are based exactly 0% on the output of any model.

joelobryan

Zazove,
Do you understand how modellers “calibrate” their models before they initialize and start them on a run out to the year 2100?

jorgekafkazar

I seriously doubt that onset of El Niños and La Niñas are accurately predicted in the climate models. It appears they rely on data from the ENSO observing system as input to “predict” an incipient event. Their predictions are thus not based on first principles incorporated in the models, but by detection, like predicting a police car is coming when you’ve heard the siren.

zazove

Sorry Joel, I’m talking about observations. Are you disagreeing with any of this:
“Recent” warming is an observation. Observations are the past, they are based exactly 0% on the output of any model?

Geoff Sherrington

Willis postulated in past work that the time of emergence each day of some of these factors is part of the overall regulatory control. Present day models cannot run on intervals of minutes, I understand, therefore they cannot model the processes Willis describes. Geoff.

Alan Tomalty

I will say it because the others hesitate. The climate models are worthless pieces of junk code that will NEVER BE ABLE TO MODEL THE ATMOSPHERE CORRECTLY. It is just too complicated.

Uh, Geronimo, climate models, generally, do not reflect the drying at the water vapor emission level that counteracts increased humidity lower down in areas of tropical thunder storms. No?

Zazove,
you say:
” “Recent” warming is an observation. Observations are the past, they are based exactly 0% on the output of any model.”
in response to:
“the assumption that most of the recent warming is caused by CO2 is an assumption based almost 100% on the output of the models.”
Your statement is true but pointless. No one is saying that the observed warming is based on models. It is the attribution of the warming to CO2 which is based on models. You are fooling no one with this “Ignoratio elenchi” argument fallacy.

Climate models are a fiction designed to prove the existence of the Co2kie Monster, and have as much relevance to Science as a Sesame St script

Alan Tomalty

Cargo planes?

joelobryan

‘Cargo planes’ is a reference to Dr Richard Feynman’s analogy of how scientists can be fooled by the beauty of their models. Do a Google search on “Feynman cargo cult science”.
Dr Feynman was a true scientist.

Thank you Joel.
Cargo Cult Science
by RICHARD P. FEYNMAN
Some remarks on science, pseudoscience, and learning how to not fool yourself.
Caltech’s 1974 commencement address.
http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/51/2/CargoCult.htm
[excerpt]
I think the educational and psychological studies I mentioned are examples of what I would like to call Cargo Cult Science. In the South Seas there is a Cargo Cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas—he’s the controller—and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land. So I call these things Cargo Cult Science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land.
Now it behooves me, of course, to tell you what they’re missing. But it would he just about as difficult to explain to the South Sea Islanders how they have to arrange things so that they get some wealth in their system. It is not something simple like telling them how to improve the shapes of the earphones. But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in Cargo Cult Science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school—we never explicitly say what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty—a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid—not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked—to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.
Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can—if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong—to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.
In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.
[end of excerpt]
Just reading Richard Feynman’s above paragraphs is all you really need to become a skeptic of global warming alarmism.
Science is NOT:
1. Denying natural climate variation and attributing most or all of climate change to atmospheric CO2, with no credible evidence.
2. Attacking and smearing anyone who disagrees with point 1 above.
3. Criminal conspiracies by global warming alarmists as evidenced by the Climategate emails.
4. The IPCC shamelessly promoting the bogus hockey stick and Mann-made global warming;
5. Climate computer models that are programmed to greatly overestimate future warming.
6. Reliance on these incompetent computer models rather than actual scientific observations.
7. Making scary climate prediction after scary climate prediction, all which have failed to materialize.
8. Falsifying data and conclusions to try to conform to failed scary climate predictions.
I could continue this list for pages, but the conclusion, I suggest, is already clear:
Anyone who still believes that catastrophic global warming is a serious threat to humanity or the environment is willfully deluding themselves and others. Alternatively, they are imbeciles or they are insane.
No one can be this wrong for this long and still be considered a competent scientist.

joelobryan

Allan,

“…with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas—he’s the controller—and they wait for the airplanes to land.

This is my mental picture of Ben Santer, climateer modeller, cargo cultist-par excellence. Two pieces of bamboo antennas out of his head… a total joke immortalized to all of history for his IPCC SAR antics on destroying science for his cargo cult views.

This is yet another great example of ‘Natures knows Best’. Nature has subtle machines that work in our best interests, even as we sleep and know nothing of the benefit.

ralfellis

I’ve said this before, Willis, but you need to tidy up your Thunderstorm Thermostat article, and have it published as a proper peer-review science paper. It will not get the required traction in the right places, until you can do that.
The establishment will still throw bricks at you, but at least it will be established literature, and quotable as established literature by other scientists. If I can force my paper through that (lengthy) process, I am sure you can.
Ralph

Barry Cullen

You da man, Willis. (As I sit here w/ a BIG smile on my face watching you’re movie repeat itself.)
B

sy computing

“… or more likely, something equally correct but much less pleasant.”
LOL

Well it hardly matters since all of the clouds are packing up and heading for the poles https://www.nature.com/news/clouds-get-high-on-climate-change-1.20230. Just as the climate models predicted apparently although I have to admit I missed that prediction. I seem to miss them all it seems as they always look like post hoc justifications to me. But anyway if the low-level shortwave-blocking tropical clouds are all packing their bags and heading out for the poles then Thermageddon is finally assured.

Janet Howie

Non-scientific comment (s’all I can do, but I do enjoy reading all the learned stuff) – Warren H Williams, honey voiced Aussie country singer/songwriter has a song titled ‘Dusty Ballerina’ – his name for dust devils (or willi willi as they are called over here). I always think of that when I see one blowing up here in western Queensland.

Brian James Lydon

Willis,
I have been saying “Yes” and “Yes” to your hypothesis for some time now; it is supported by facts from so many different directions. This Old Engineer wants to say “Thankyou”, and offer some musings on airmass, cloud, and the vertical transport of energy from the surface towards open space.
We radiate in all directions from all altitudes, but for the Earth to shed large chunks of heat, thermal energy needs first to be lifted from Land and Ocean – shouting and screaming – up through the gravity well, and then ejected at the top. The dominant mechanism for this heat transfer is one of convection.
(1) I am little impressed by vertical energy transport within the oceans, even though water is 800 times denser than air, and has four times the specific heat. In round numbers. At planetary scale, the major deep water currents with their substantially horizontal (< 1:1000 hydraulic gradients) velocities, do nothing but re-draw the isotherms, albeit in a different hemisphere.
In the ocean, vertical velocities are trivial, especially within the normal Scuba diving space, where one can still see with natural light. This daylight zone is not only important to fish and coral. It marks the limit of radiation absorption.
In the atmosphere, on the other hand, vertical velocities dominate, and can become rather exciting. The air mass transports more energy up the gravity well than do the oceans, and this not just via the activity of "Thermals" over the land ! Over the oceans, convection will transport warm moist air aloft, from whence it is returned in the form of cold raindrops to the surface. Nett mass transfer is small; nett energy transfer is large.
(2) The glider pilot has more practical knowledge of convection than anyone without feathers ! Thermals, are like giant vacuum cleaners, towering high and rotating slowly and majestically as they march downwind cross-country at about half wind speed, gobbling up anything in their path near the ground, and transporting it to the top of the convection layer.
(3) Anything = Dust, seeds, pollen, chook feathers, straw, paper bags, leaves, insects etc etc, and last but not least – warm, moist air – whether it be from direct contact with the ground, from within the sub adiabatic layer, or entrained from within grasses, crops and other vegetation. I ponder; have our calculations sufficiently taken into account the quantity and (particulate) size distribution of the mass of gunk high up in the atmosphere ? There is a lot of it up there !
(4) To a first approximation, the Thermal is cylindrical, well collimated, and close adiabatic, with relatively little mixing or diameter change on the way up, so that most of the product of this "materials handling" process ends up at the top, where the serious mixing takes place. Their geometric spacing is variable, but some idea of this can be gained by looking at the array of cumulus clouds when the sky is working through the condensation layer. Each cumulus cauliflower marks the top of rising air. Ditto cloud streets.
(5) The altitude to which a parcel of hot air will rise – and hence tops of local convection – is controlled by the actual lapse rate (not DALR) within the surrounding airmass, as well as the temperature of the bubble as it breaks away.
The warmer the bubble, the higher it will rise. The cooler the airmass, the higher the bubble will rise.
(6) Also, because water vapour has about 5/8 th the density of dry air, a parcel of moist air embedded in a drier air mass, has buoyancy, and can rise in the face of a zero or adverse temperature gradient. Over land, wet thermals are few and far between. DB swamps (yes) WB.
Cumuliform clouds form extensively over the ocean, and something special is happening at the interface below them, but I have read nothing about the mechanism. The nuts-n-bolts of this are not clear. However, I do recall that the heat transfer coefficient between water and its vapour is a very large number, too big to measure, and approaches infinity. Think flash steam !
The breakaway of a terrestrial thermal is triggered by some anomoly, often a line or edge cross wind created by cloud shadow, or a step in temperature, vegetation or terrain. Ploughed paddocks usually provide excellent contrast to their neighbours, as you have observed !
Triggers are important to the life cycle of Terrestrial Thermals, and I assume the same is so in the Maritime environment, but I see too many in the open ocean ! Ah ! Who Knows ? If anyone can point me to some readings, I would be appreciative.
(7) At the pie cart or the bough shed, near the edge of the strip, glider pilots often discuss thermal size, and other odds-n-ends. The likely mass of thermals is sometimes guessed at and rough calculated, particularly the size of the thermals currently coming through, or recently used, and sometimes expressed in Battleship Units, where 1 Battleship Unit = 100,000 tons. This is a Practical Unit.
(Droll ! This is on a par with an old EE jest, but with a different subject. viz: "The Absolute Unit of Ignorance is the Warmist; the Practical Unit is the milliWarmist")
Point is, there are big masses in play here, being moved at substantial velocity through large vertical distances. There is more Thermal air mass movement than commonly realised, to the delight of the glider guider. There is much going on, and it is going on much of the time !
(8) The power required to drive a Three Battleship thermal, rising at 1,000 ft/min ( 5 m/s), through a median lapse rate of (say) 7 K/1000 m, is impressive. The work required to take it from ground level to (say) 15,000 ft is a large number, particularly when you add the PE term to the energy released as Latent Heat, when the thermal rises through condensation level at cloud base.
(9) The process is speedy. The top of the convection layer gets warmed up PDQ ! The next bubble that breaks away from the surface, will be at condensation level within minutes, and tops – if deep Cu is forming – within a few more minutes. This is fast tracking, relatively speaking ! Over-development and recycling adds complexity.
(10) This energy all comes from the one place, of course. And this is going on pretty much all day, every day over a high percentage of the earth. One major variable is thermal height, which can vary from 0 – 1,000 ft in wet, overcast conditions, through a more average 5 – 6,000 ft, up to the 15,000 ft grand daddy clear-air thermals of West Texas and Central Australia; and then onwards and upwards to tops above 40,000 ft in the big lift associated with cumulo nimbus, where incidently, vertical velocities have been measured in excess of one third the speed of sound. Wave goes higher, but the ripples usually end up isobaric, doing nothing for vertical transport.
(11) This is a pilot's glimpse of convection in the atmosphere. It may be that a small dose of reality will help modulate some of the assumptions being made in other places. BTW, many Engineers fly Sailplanes, including those Heroic Hybrids from NASA who flew without wings, and touched the Face of God !.

zazove

Brian, interesting post and milliWarmist is funny but I have one nit-pick – one third the speed of sound is over 220kt. ?

eyesonu

a 747-400 weighs about 200 tons empty. Over twice that loaded. What kind of force do you think it would take to throw the plane and passengers around?

zazove

Do you think the answer is a 220kt horizontal windshear? That would shred a 747. It would probably break a Hornet.
“Severe thunderstorms, require much stronger updraft speeds and depend on the type of storm. Multicell lines generally have weaker updrafts than multicell clusters but are arranged in a “curtain”. The updraft speeds in a multicell line storm are a bit stronger than the single cell general storm described earlier. Multicell cluster storms often have updraft speeds around 60 MPH” from here https://stormtrack.org/community/threads/vertical-momentum-how-fast-does-supercell-air-go-up.578/
60MPH is 52kt – even that wouldn’t do much good to a 747. I guess Brian just heard that “vertical velocities have been measured in excess of one third the speed of sound” and didn’t check it.
I repeat – nitpicking an interesting post.

eyesonu

Z,
Thanks for the link. Relevant excerpt:
” … Supercell updrafts generally are stronger than 50 MPH, but 70 or 80 MPH is more typical. In the Great Plains of the United States, supercells often produce baseball and grapefruit sized hail (not to mention tornadoes) because of the extreme speeds of the updrafts within. Such updrafts have been known to reach 150 to 175 MPH, or about 12,000 to 15,000 feet per minute!
No aircraft except for military fighter jets with afterburner power could climb at these rates (for example, the F4 Phantom and Lear 35 Jet both have maximum climb rates less than 8,000 feet per minute). ,,,”
So Brian was off a little, but nearly 1/4 the speed of sound is still pretty damn fast. Surprised me!

usurbrain

And my engineering training tells me that the water vapor is carrying up the enthalpy of the heat of vaporization to the extreme heights. The enthalpy of vaporization, 40.65 kJ/mol, is more than five times the energy required to heat the same quantity of water from 0 °C to 100 °C (cp = 75.3 J K−1 mol−1). that is a large amount of energy. This transport of energy must have a significant effect of the control of temperature.

Brett Keane

usur, about 80% of convected energy IIRC. But could be a bit wrong.. Still much indeed. Obviates ghe effect requirement…… Brett

tty

Actually condensation transports a lot more heat away from the ground than IR radiation does, though all diagrams are carefully drawn to hide this. As a matter of fact this is probably the main reason for the constant harping on “back radiation”:comment image
Of course if the corresponding “back convection”, i e the heat content of the sinking air and rain/snow were to be drawn at the same scale the IR flows would be practically invisible in proportion.

MarkW

The chart you provide does not support the claims you are making.

tty

Trouble with the arithmetics?
Evapotranspiration 80 W/m2, IR Radiation: 396-333=63 W/m2
80/63 = 1.27 = 127%

usurbrain

@tty should not this 80 be added to the amount that is claimed to be the amount to get past the greenhouse glass?
Looks to me like they trap heat of evaporation below the clouds in the graphic and thus it goes no further. Yet how are the clouds going to stop that flow when this is what makes the clouds. If the evaporation does not make the clouds then what does? (sarc) Also does that *) include the enthalpy, heat of evaporation?
This simple graphic looks like a propaganda device.

MarkW

Depending on the topology of the ocean floor, sea water can get a significant vertical motion.

jorgekafkazar

Nice comment. Vertical transport phenomena are especially important when phase change is involved. I wonder what the heat flow ratio between thunderstorms and solar would be in kW/m²…

But, but, but … those CO2 molecules have such power!

Philip Mulholland

Brian,
Your post is packed with insights!
In particular the details you give on the strength of the updraft and the velocity that the air achieves. This is upward air movement from a standing start of zero on the ground requires a forceful mechanism to initiate and sustain the upward motion of the air inside the thermal.
Thanks to you I now realise that thermals are mass in vertical motion accelerated upwards from a standing start, they in effect result from the action of a piston, the total mass of the atmosphere (the weight) bearing down on the ground, forcing air up a very small diameter piper (the thermal). It is also clear that the downward motion of the mass of air forming the piston means that the air reaching the barrier of the solid ground during overturn gets compressed at the surface and therefore MUST have an associated pressure induced temperature.

Philip Mulholland

Typo alert
piper pipe (sorry for any offence).

DonK31

I grew up on a farm and saw these every summer. My question is; are these smaller versions of the winds that caused the great dust storms of the 1930’s? How about the baboons of the present desert Southwest?

jorgekafkazar

LOL! Excellent image, intentional or not.

Old Woman of the North

Hi Willis,
Your thunder storms over the sea are exactly what we have over land. Last Tuesday, it was 39C here with some humidity. About 3PM the clouds started to build with towering tops. Then several gathered near each other and the fun started. Fantastic lightening display – cracking and sizzling non-stop. We sat and watched and yearned for the rain that started to fall – but the storms were east of us and moved that way so we got 3mm and watched. Ater the show was over the air was cool!
Yesterday we drove through the area expecting to see a few trees blown apart but saw nothing but evidence of rain in the puddles behind the contour banks and green everywhere.
Ain’t nature grand?

Tom Halla

Eschenbach points out an important item in weather and climate, which the IPCC computer models miss.

They miss because absolutely computationaly intractable by several orders of magnitude. Hence parameterization, which drags in the attribution priblem. Many previous more detailed posts.

Leo Smith

Indeed. The old game of making everything look like a nail, because all you have is a hammer..
The thing i like to use as an analogy is of a flag flapping in the wind. It sort of stays within limits, but apart from that its completely impossible to say where any bit of the flag will be at any given time, and the greatest excursions are at quite modest wind speeds.
https://ak5.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/2503565/preview/stock-footage-flag-of-the-united-states-of-america-waving-in-the-breeze.mp4
That’s what I think of when people say they can see ‘cycles’ in weather or climate, or think they have some solution of a massively non- linear equation set, that looks like the solution to a linear equation, for a moment or two.
At high wind velocities flag flapping may approximate to periodic, but at low its – well its weird.

Doug

In other news, with rising sea levels due to climate change…the following seems odd
http://www.countryliving.co.uk/news/news/a3275/venice-canals-dry-up-no-rain-low-tides/

Alan Tomalty

I wouldnt ban tourists. That is like slicing your wallet in half

J Mac

Willis,
I had a similar experience on a hot summer day in central Washington state. A black basalt rock outcropping was the initiation point for one dust devil/whirlwind after another, in an area of mixed dry crop fields and scab land. At any one time, there were 2 to 4 dust devils whirling dervishly away from it on the prevailing breeze. I was pulled over on the highway shoulder watching the ‘pop up parade’ when a police officer pulled up next to me and asked if I had ‘trouble’. When I pointed out the dust devil parade, he said he had seen the local phenomena several times before, on hot days when the breeze was out of the south/southwest. It seemed to me that some breeze induced eddy/turbulence around the elevated hot rock outcropping was assisting the whirlwind initiation at a specific point on the down wind side. Once started, the hot ground provided sufficient energy to really spin them up over the next quarter mile or so. Some of them meandered for several miles across the fields and low brush before will-o-wisp withering away.
‘Good stuff’, from back road adventures….

Craig Moore

For Mother Earth, a dust devil is merely her poof. Driving I90 thru eastern Washington, they are quite prevalent.

Flood control engineer

This leads me to a question. How much energy is transferred from the surface to the upper atmosphere? What portion of the energy balance of the earth is a thunderstorm cell?

Gerald Machnee

Re Flood
A lot of energy. But one cell holds a very small percentage considering that at any time there are 1800 cells in various stages and that they last from less than an hour to about 3 hours to complete the cycle.

Richard G.

As usual I enjoyed your thought provoking post, and as is usual in this gobsmackingly beautifully and complex universe I would like to draw your attention to an article from NASA about the electrostatic nature of dust devils. This has bearing on the mysterious electrostatic cleaning of the mars rover solar panels by Martian dust devils. Could it be that part of the energy transfer of emergent weather is electrostatic?
“Dust particles become electrified in dust devils when they rub against each other as they are carried by the winds, transferring positive and negative electric charge in the same way you build up static electricity if you shuffle across a carpet. Scientists thought there would not be a high-voltage, large-scale electric field in dust devils because negatively charged particles would be evenly mixed with positively charged particles, so the overall electric charge in the dust devil would be in balance.
However, the team’s observations indicate that smaller particles become negatively charged, while larger particles become positively charged. Dust devil winds carry the small, negatively charged particles high into the air, while the heavier, positively charged particles remain near the base of the dust devil. This separation of charges produces the large-scale electric field, like the positive and negative terminals on a battery. Since the electrified particles are in motion, and a magnetic field is just the result of moving electric charges, the dust devil generates a magnetic field also.”
https://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/solarsystem/2005_dust_devil.html

MarkW

Do the dust devils transport energy, or are dust devils the result of rising air which is doing the work.
I’ve always considered them evidence of work being done, not the worker themselves.

Philip

Willis – I have lived in Oregon for the last 25 years, in the Western part of the state (Norther Willamette Valley), and have seen dust devils here. Mostly later in the year, but that may simply be because that is the only time it really gets hot enough here. Almost all of them appear in empty fields after the crops (grass, wheat etc.) have been harvested. They are pretty impressive, because mostly they don’t pick up dist so much as straw and other debris left behind after the harvest. They are relatively common here (45 degrees), but do occur much further north. I remember my farther telling me about one he saw, this was in England (52 to 52 degrees), he was amazed to see this “mini-tornado” and walked into the middle of it, surrounded by flying twigs, grass clippings and dust. Much to the consternation of his girlfriend (later to be my mother).
Although they do appear to be emergent phenomena based upon the same physical actions as the large thunderstorms in the tropics, which I have only seen the edge of (Hawaii), that being a column of rising air over a hot spot which begins to rotate, sucking in more warm air over the hotspot to reinforce the updraft, there is a considerable difference in size and climatic effect between a dust devil and a tropical thunderstorm. I don’t think that a climate model should worry about including dust devils, but it really should include the effects of tropical thunderstorms as you so clearly indicate. Not only are these much larger, but they are moving not just war air, but warm water vapor, which contains much more heat than just dry air.
Looking at the illustration you have crated, I can’t see it being really too difficult to include these effect. Even with the large cell size of typical simulations, estimating (via observation if necessary) the number and intensity of thunderstorms based upon sea surface temperature of each cell in the model should not be hard.
There is just too much (cooling) activity going on there to just ignore.
Just my 2c as a non-climate scientist.

Ian Cooper

Willis, you talk about the impact of multiple thunderstorms in removing heat from the Earths surface, so we are talking about emergent phenomena on a relatively small scale. Have you looked at the impact of the larger fish in our aquarium, the tropical cyclones? 50 years ago New Zealand was hit by the remnants of a Tropical Cyclone called Giselle. It struck at the end of a very fine and mostly benign austral summer (it was actually at the start of autumn for us). On top of the massive destruction it wrought with winds that reached hurricane strength unexpectedly overnight, and lead to the sinking of the inter-island passenger ferry ‘Wahine’ in Wellington Harbour with the loss of 55 lives, there was a noticeable drop in maximum temperatures straight after it had passed. A drop of 5 degrees Celsius from which it never recovered.
I have noticed that not all such ex-tropical cyclones that come our way have this sort of substantial impact. Some show a temporary drop and a slow climb back towards the higher temperatures, but things just aren’t the same afterwards and the real high temperature peaks aren’t quite achieved again. I take it as a sign that these storms are taking a lot of the latent heat out of our region as they pass by or over us.
In this weak La Nina summer we have endured our hottest month on records going back 90 years (La Nina brings NZ its hottest summers BTW). At the end of January we had the hottest T-Max week on record which was followed by the arrival of ex TC Fehi. That storm re-strengthened as it hit New Zealand and caused serious damage to the areas that bore the most contact. For us the most noticeable thing was the temperature drop, which many of us were quite happy to see BTW. Just another example I guess.
Do you have any comment on this?

jorgekafkazar

I’m not sure what you mean by “taking a lot of the latent heat out.” Do you mean sensible heat? Or just evaporation? Latent heat requires a phase change.

Old Man Winter

One time when flying on an airway over the water north of
Cuba in the early evening, I saw numerous (at least 2-3
dozen) very tall chimney-like clouds. We were at 25k’ and
I’m guessing the base of the clouds was at ~10k’ with the
tops at ~35k’. The clouds were probably a half-mile wide
at the very most. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the
time of year when this occurred.
Because it was in the evening, they looked like they were
on fire as the colors went from yellow-orange through red
into purple as they usually do. It was the most amazing
cloud formation I’ve ever seen. As you say, this is an
amazing planet!
I’ve researched this and never found any information on
this. Is this a common occurrence in the tropics? I had
never heard others mention this phenomena and only saw it
this one time. Thanks.

clipe
bitchilly

glad i managed to post something positive that prompted further investigation in that great mind of yours willis. i watched that animation through the cycle several times with a daft smile on my face. one of those occasions (that usually arise after reading one of your submissions) where i really rue not having the clarity of thought ,memory or mental ability necessary to understand much of the amazing interactions within our ocean atmosphere system.
i hope you never change your current style of writing and presentation. if it can prompt a reasonable query in my mind it can do it in anyone. being able to convey your thoughts and theories to people with a limited or non existent science background is a talent sadly lacking in many.
i had a quick look back through the global sea surface temperature records after looking at the animation. interesting to watch the increase in altitude and subsequent reduction of the same in cloud tops over the blob in the north west pacific.

Gary

Once as a teenager I took the opportunity to step inside of a very small dust devil that was a 15 foot diameter swirl of leaves in a grassy field. Walking with it as it meandered I found the inside to be calm and warm. After half a minute it left me relishing the experience as it wandered away off the field and disappeared.

I cannot help but be mischievous, and raise a ruckus by stating there is nothing scientific about dust devils, though they should in fact be called dust-devi, for they are minor angels, embodying God’s will, (also called scientific Truth.) The Ancient Greeks called them “Zephyrs”.
Although in some respects robotic, in their perfect obedience to God’s law, zephyrs can at times display surprising attributes of God’s will, involving His sense of humor. If you don’t believe me, attempt raking a leaves from a lawn in New England in October, when the air is cool but the sun is hot.
https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2018/01/30/local-view-western-zephyrs/

jorgekafkazar

I’m wondering if it would be possible to add another slider displaying the East-vs-West differential pressure across the Pacific OR some measure of net trade wind velocity.

Alan Tomalty

Mike Borgelt “If thunderstorms regulate the climate, why were they unable to prevent glaciation? There’s been hundreds of meters of ice above Manhattan in the past…….why haven’t Willis’s thunderstorms prevented them from advancing?”
..
And you have an explanation for glaciation?

Milankovitch cycles.

Alan Tomalty

Probably large asteroids. There have been many in the past including the one 265 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs. The good news is you have nothing to worry about because H2O NOT CO2 drives the climate and Willis ‘ theory goes a long way in explaining it. In the time period before the next asteroid hitting us you can sit back and relax. The bad news is that a big one will definitely hit us unless we can knock it out of the sky.

Willis’s theory does not explain the recent rise of about 1 degree C in the past 150 years.

Mike wrote:
“Willis’s theory does not explain the recent rise of about 1 degree C in the past 150 years.”
Natural variation, the null hypothesis. explains it well enough.
To prove that humanmade global warming is significant, one has to disprove the null hypothesis, and it has all happened in the past – before the advent of fossil fuels, climate was warmer AND colder, weather was gentler AND wilder, CO2 was higher AND lower – and this old world just kept spinnin ’round. 🙂
_________________________
“There is nothing new under the Sun.”
– Ecclesiastes 1:4-11
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
**************************************

Warren cole

Dust Devils are an emergent climate phenomenon???
You saw them in summer. They are a hot weather phenomenon.
(Hint: hot weather is more prevalent in summer.)
Dust devils are called Willy Willys in Australia are plentiful in hot dusty areas. We saw many of them when we toured there twenty years ago.
.

Thank you Willis for your work. This post is helpful and informative.
Regarding publishing in the journals – I suggest that it is a largely waste of time.
The problem with publishing in the journals is that they are not only cumbersome, time-consuming and slow, but they produce so many papers that can only be described as nonsense – millions of pages of drivel on “My New Computer Model Projects Even More Global Warming” and “The Impact of Global Warming on Groundhogs with One Left Testicle”, etc., etc.
The once-great journals have destroyed their credibility by publishing so much nonsense about global warming mania, aka climate change, aka whatever-it-is-called-this-week.
It may be that the scientific journals are obsolete – and that online forums like wattsup could become much better, faster means to move science forward. Online feedback is not always helpful, but it is fast and it enables commentary to be discussed openly, without the usual “gatekeepers”, who may actually detract from value.
Regards, Allan

Toto

“If thunderstorms regulate the climate, why were they unable to prevent glaciation? There’s been hundreds of meters of ice above Manhattan in the past…….why haven’t Willis’s thunderstorms prevented them from advancing?”
Willis says thunderstorms have a cooling effect. In a warm room, that’s all you need for an A/C thermostat.
But in a cooling world (caused by Milankovitch cycles, asteroids, and/or who knows what), thunderstorms may help build glaciers by sending water vapor to the cold areas to become snow and eventually ice.
Compare an image of the Laurentide Ice Sheet with figure 3 in the Glimpsed Through The Clouds post.
Coincidence?
If you like people who think outside the dogma box, you might like this:
http://scottishsceptic.co.uk/2015/02/13/toward-a-new-theory-of-ice-ages-xi-hadley-cells/

Brian James Lydon

zazove
Feb 15, 2018 @ 3.37 pm
Good query ! This is an ancient recollection, originating – I think – from an NACA Technical Note or Technical Report. I have spent some time digging through my archives, and will continue to do so till I find the answer, or run out of steam.
In the meanwhile, have a look at NACA TN 2734 by Souter and Emerson, where they cite Humphreys, who calculated that a 4″ diam hailstone – 0.7 SG – would require 83 m/s for sustenance. This is 272 fps and if one allows (say) a 1G hoist to get it back up to altitude in a timely way, then this becomes 544 fps; and if then one chucks in a few knots for the Missus and the Kids, and one for Grandma, we have a large number.
My own calculations would put the required velocity somewhat lower, and I suspect Humphreys allowed for fine grain turbulence and used Cd = 0.1, assuming RN > 6 X 10^5. This latter is reasonable, but if one assumes a lower RN of (say) 10^5, just below the step, then Cd jumps to 0.47, cutting velocity requirement by a factor of almost 5. Huge difference !
And then we have a new record hailstone of 8″ diameter, which is troublesome, not knowing from whence within the Bell curve it comes ! Much easier to measure things in a metrology lab !
These beasts (Cb) are avoided by pilots; I have had some near misses, myself, and some of my glider mates, with more than 20,000 hours on power, tell some terrible stories !
I repeat; this is not the source I recollect, but I shall keep digging.

zazove

I’m ex-ATC, so have an interest in aviation.

4TimesAYear

Fascinating read – I’ve almost run into one while walking one day – it had just formed in a plowed field a short distance away from me and crossed the path so close I could have taken a step forward and been in it. Unfortunately I didn’t see any more form so it must have taken care of any needed cooling. I’ve seen others grow to the size of a tornado – minus the clouds of course. I’ve heard of hurricanes being called “natures air conditioners”; it would appear that thunderstorms are as well.

gareth

Hi Willis,
Dust Devils are Thermals – see what Brian James Lydon wrote above.
If you haven’t already, you might find some useful insights by looking up stuff about gliders (sailplanes) and soaring flight. Getting the weather right and finding & using thermals is essential if you want to be a successful soaring pilot and you have to be pretty good at it to be a national or world champion. You’ll probably find interesting information from people looking at the same phenomena from a different perspective.

The black outlines, on the other hand, show sea surface temperatures of 27°, 28°, and 29°C. Note how the thunderstorms line up very neatly with the temperatures.

In addition to the thunderstorm effect shown here, it is well known that hurricanes strengthens over oceans when the ocean temperature is above 27°, so there seems to exist some sort of threshold value on 27°.
Or, could it be something else? Perhaps the 27° is just serving as a visual proxy for some other phenomenon that correlates with temperature.
One idea I have is that the real driver of winds are temperature gradients, not absolute temperatures. That means that if for instance all temperatures on the planet rises by one Celsius, the threshold for feeding hurricanes and thunderstorms would also rise from 27° to 28°.
Any thoughts on that?
/Jan

marque2

I am not sure if this is quite true. Yes thunderstorms are born on hotspots, and usually the warmest, because of greater upwelling in that spot, but they don’t move to the hottest part over the life of the storm. As they grow they move with the prevailing winds, with the upwelling action, now strong enough to encourage even more upwelling even if the spot is slightly cooler (though still warm) than where the thunderstorm originated.
Also frequently the storms greatest power, as felt on earth is in the late afternoon, when the earth starts cooling, because a large amount of the rainfall comes from the collapse of the thunderhead.

tadchem

The purveyors of ‘climate models’ have become very guarded about the details of their mathematical modelling in recent years. Nonetheless, I was able to learn that the grids used to represent air temperature, pressure, etc. have always been far too coarse to allow accurate representation of even large cyclones, let alone thunderheads or dust devils. In short, the entire phenomenon of atmospheric convection, known to thermodynamics through the adiabatic lapse rate as the SINGLE most important factor influencing temperature distribution in the atmosphere, is completely beyond the computational reach of global scale climate modelling.

AGW is not Science

“Like many such emergent climate phenomena, dust devils are driven…”
I don’t think dust devils should be characterized as a “climate” phenomena; they have nothing to do with “climate change” and have been around forever, for all we know (note the comment about the need to monitor every one of them (in order to increase the accuracy of long term weather forecasting) referenced above from the *1970s*). Don’t know if that was unintentional (or if that was not the intended meaning), but dust devils surely have nothing to do with CO2 levels or with changes to the “average” surface temperature. IOW, these are a “weather, not climate,” phenomena, even though (like all weather) they form a component part of the aggregate of weather that *is* “climate.”
In my brief time in Washington state (mid to late ’90s), I witnessed my share of them – and of dust *storms*, when you just went inside and hunkered down until they were over, unless you enjoyed being sandblasted. Just didn’t want people to get the (wrong) impression that dust devils are “new” or that they are a “result” of “climate change.”

lgl

Or is it the opposite, hot spots chasing the thunderstorms? Most of the energy supplied to the warm area around Indonesia is LW, released latent heat, which is both feeding the thunderstorms and heating the surface.

A similar effect can be seen in Egypt. Some years ago, after the last of the Egyptian-Israeli wars, I had occasion to spend some time in Port Said, in high summer. Port Said was seriously damaged in the war. (How serious? Just outside my hotel the street lamps were perforated by bullet holes. I had plenty of time to reflect upon the intensity of the fighting that produced such an effect!). There were no communications between Port Said and the outside world, so to contact my office I had to take a taxi from Port Said to Cairo, speak with the boss, be spoken to and then return to Port Said. I made this journey quite often. The road was, on the whole, very lightly used and when the ancient taxis (those large, WWII generation American cars, massive engines, no AC) overheated and perforce we had to wait a while in the desert road, I used to observe the dust devils that would suddenly form seemingly out of nothing and wander across the desert. I was particularly interested in what happened when one reached “our” road. It just collapsed. In the absence of any information to the contrary, I figured out that the cause of the collapse was the difference in the temperatures, road v desert.

Peter Melia

Willis,
A similar effect can be seen in Egypt. Some years ago, after the last of the Egyptian-Israeli wars, I had occasion to spend some time in Port Said, in high summer. Port Said was seriously damaged in the war. (How serious? Just outside my hotel the street lamps were perforated by bullet holes. I had plenty of time to reflect upon the intensity of the fighting that produced such an effect!). There were no communications between Port Said and the outside world, so to contact my office I had to take a taxi from Port Said to Cairo, speak with the boss, be spoken to and then return to Port Said. I made this journey quite often. The road was, on the whole, very lightly used and when the ancient taxis (those large, wonderful, WWII generation American cars, massive engines, no AC) overheated and perforce we had to wait a while in the desert road, I used to observe the dust devils that would suddenly form seemingly out of nothing and wander across the desert. I was particularly interested in what happened when one reached “our” road. It just collapsed. In the absence of any information to the contrary, I figured out that the cause of the collapse was the difference in the temperatures, road v desert.

Frank

Willis wrote: “With that as prologue, let me say that one of the reasons I greatly enjoy writing for the web is the immediate feedback that I get. The most valuable feedback is when someone points out something that I’ve done wrong. I can’t begin to calculate how many years of wasted effort I’ve been saved by someone saying “Um, dude … did you notice that you totally went off the rails right here?” … or more likely, something equally correct but much less pleasant. Fortunately, even unpleasant corrections are gold, they keep me out of blind alleys.”
Um, dude: Did you remember that tiny convective dust devils and massive convective thunderstorms in the Western Pacific depend on the existence of a unstable lapse rate? They can’t be driven indefinitely by surface temperature alone! The heat convected aloft must go somewhere (to space or horizontally) as fast as it arrives or convection will cease. One needs more than a surface energy balance perspective.
Um, dude: Did you notice that daily surface warming occurs only over land (including larger tropical islands), but not over the bulk of the ocean? Your thermostat hypothesis is correctly based on your experience on tropical islands, but it applies only to a small fraction of the planet and only during the rainy season.

Max Hugoson

Wills: I haven’t time to work this out tonight, but your glider pilot comments mind me of the fact that we SHOULD be able to calculate the “net energy radiated to space” from the TS’s. Making some sort of distribution curve for this (to represent the varying magnitude of the storms), taking some of your various data sets (about the number and duration of the storms), it seems we SHOULD be able to get an ESTIMATE of the “addition” to pure radiation from the “grey gas” which is the simplistic analysis being done by much of the Gorebull warming crowd. AND checking variations in this aggregates, may show that you are very correct in TS’s being the “thermostat” of the Earth. Got time for analysis?

Max Hugoson

Sorry, dropped the second “i” from Willis. Typing too fasttttt!!!

gareth

@Willis: ” Nor does a thermal generally take off and wander around the landscape.”
This is incorrect – which is why sometimes you’ll have to abandon a thermal when trying to push upwind.
Powered hang gliders, light aircraft and float planes don’t do much soaring flight, and “flown a sailplane” might not make you an expert (I’m not, but I know people who are).
My suggestion was a genuine tip, offered in good faith, because often “Eureka” moments happen at the boundaries of subjects.
Kind regards…