Clouds and El Nino

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

After the turn of the century, I became interested in climate science. But unlike almost everyone else, I wasn’t surprised by how much the global temperature was changing. As someone with experience with heat engines and engine governors, I know how hard it is to keep a heat engine stable under a changing load. As a result, I was surprised at how little the temperature was changing.

Over the 20th Century, for example, the temperature changed by a trivially small ±0.3°C. Since the average temperature of the planet is on the order of 287K, this means that the global temperature varied only about a tenth of one percent in a hundred years … that that is amazingly stable.

So I started my climate science investigations by looking for some kind of long-term mechanism that would keep the temperature stable. I read about the slow weathering of the mountains that constrains the CO2 levels. I thought about long slow changes in the ocean overturning. I looked at all kinds of long-term mechanisms … and found nothing that could constrain the temperature for 100 years. I thought about this for over a year. No joy.

Then one day I had an insight. I’d been looking at the wrong end of the time spectrum, the long-term, century-long end. I should have been looking at hours and days instead. I realized that if there were some mechanism that kept each day from getting too hot or too cold, it would keep the week from getting too hot or cold, and the month, and the year, and the century.

I was living in Fiji at the time. Every day, I watched the daily parade of tropical clouds and thunderstorms, and one day I realized that I was looking right at the very mechanism that I sought. But I still didn’t understand it. Where in all of the comings and goings of the clouds and the thunderstorms was the understanding that I sought? I thought that it might have something to do with the timing of the clouds and storms, but what?

I finally had another insight, that there was a point of view from which it all made sense. This was the point of view of the sun, which is a most curious point of view.

From the point of view of the sun, it’s always daytime, and there is no night. Not only that, but there is no earth time. From the sun, the left edge of the earth is always at dawn. Right under the sun, it’s always noon. And the right edge of the earth is always at dusk.

Intrigued by this, I went and got a series of pictures from the GOES-West satellite, taken at the same time of day. I averaged all of these photos, and this was the result.

Willis_Image2

Figure 1. Average of one year of GOES-West weather satellite images taken at satellite local noon. The Intertropical Convergence Zone is the bright band in the yellow rectangle. Local time on earth is shown by the black dashed lines on the image. Time values are shown at the bottom of the attached graph. The red line on the graph is solar forcing anomaly (in watts per square meter) in the area outlined in yellow. The black line is the albedo value in the area outlined in yellow.

It’s an oddity. By looking from the point of view of the sun, I’ve traded the time dimension for a space dimension. This lets me look at the evolution of the tropical day.

As you can see in the black line at the bottom of Figure 1, at around 10:30 in the morning the clouds start to build up. Within an hour the cumulus field is fully formed, and it maintains that level throughout the rest of the day.

My hypothesis was that this combination of cumulus clouds and thunderstorms formed a moveable sunshade. On warmer days, the sunshade moves to the left in Figure 1, and the clouds and thunderstorms start earlier in the day. This cools the day down. And on cooler days, the sunshade moves to the right, and the sun warms the surface.

As I said, all of this took some years. Finally, in 2009 I published my hypothesis as The Thermostat Hypothesis here at WUWT. Then I re-wrote it and submitted it to Energy and Environment, where it was peer-reviewed and published in 2010.

Since then I’ve been gathering supporting evidence for my hypothesis and developing it further. I realized that there are other emergent phenomena that contribute to the planetary thermoregulation. These include inter alia the El Nino/La Nina pump that moves warm water to the poles where it is freer to radiate to space; dust devils that move heat on land from the surface to the troposphere; the PDO and other ocean current shifts that alternately impede and assist the polar movement of warm water; cyclones moving heat out of the ocean and into the atmosphere; and squall lines that increase the efficiency of thunderstorms in refrigerating the surface.

I wrote a number of posts on various aspects of these emergent phenomena. However, what I didn’t have was data on the response of thunderstorms to surface temperatures. According to my hypothesis, both clouds and thunderstorms should increase with increasing surface temperature. In 2015, I was able to approach demonstrating this indirectly using the CERES data, by showing the correlation of tropical albedo and temperature. Figure 2 shows that relationship.

correlation albedo and temperature 2014

Figure 2. Correlation, total albedo and surface temperature.

As you can see, towards the poles the two are negatively correlated. This is because ice and snow melt with increasing temperatures and the albedo goes down. But in the tropics, as my hypothesis predicted, they are positively correlated—clouds increased with increasing surface temperature.

However, this still didn’t show that the thunderstorms were also correlated with temperature. However, in the most recent edition of the CERES data, Edition 4.0, there are four new datasets. These are cloud area, cloud top temperature, cloud top pressure, cloud area (percent), and optical depth.

Now, I got to thinking the other day about the El Nino 3.4 area of the ocean. This is one of the most variable areas of the Pacific as far as temperature goes because it is at the heart of where the El Nino/La Nina phenomenon occurs.

I also found that I could convert the CERES data to actual cloud top height. To do the conversion you need the sea level pressure, the cloud top temperature, and the cloud top pressure. I had two of these, so I got the HadSLP2 gridded dataset of sea level pressure. Using those three I calculated the cloud top altitude.

Now, where is the Nino 3.4 area? It’s in the mid-Pacific. It’s the blue rectangle in Figure 3 below.

CERES average cloud top altitude and nino34 region.png

Figure 3. Average cloud top altitude, CERES data, Mar 2000 – Feb 2017

You can see the preponderance of the tallest thunderstorms over the “Pacific Warm Pool” above Australia. A couple of months ago I posted about my first look at the CERES cloud dataset in a post called “Glimpsed Through The Clouds“. At that time I made a movie of the cloud height overlaid with contours of the sea surface temperature. I repost that movie below to show the close correspondence of temperature and thunderstorms.

Cloud Tops and TemperatureThat showed the general agreement between thunderstorms and temperature, but nothing in detail. So to return to the El Nino 3.4 area, the area shown as the blue rectangle above, I graphed the sea surface temperature of that area alone. Figure 4 shows those temperatures.

NINO34 sea surface temperature.png

Figure 4. Sea surface temperature in the Nino3.4 Region.

As I said, the Nino 3.4 area has some of the most variable sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific. In Figure 4 you can see the large El Nino of 2015/16, along with the three smaller El Ninos in 2002/3, 2006/7, and 2009/10.

Next, I took a look at the cloud heights in that area over the same period. Figure 5 shows both the sea surface temperature and the heights of the cloud tops.

NINO34 sea surface temperature plus cloud height.png

Figure 5. Sea surface temperature (black) and cloud top heights (red) in the Nino3.4 Region.

Wow! I expected a correlation, but I never expected something that close. I figured that there might be other factors involved such as CAPE or wind shear, but they seem to be very minor players.

These CERES cloud datasets have provided the first clear evidence supporting my hypothesis that tropical thunderstorms are critical parts of the global thermoregulatory system, not in a general sense, but in a clear, step-by-step, month after month sense.

Finally, I wanted to take a look at the tropical cumulus cloud area. As with the thunderstorms, my hypothesis requires that the cumulus field begin earlier in the day and cover more area. Here is the temperature, along with the cloud area as a percentage of the sky.

NINO34 sea surface temperature plus cloud area.png

Figure 6. Sea surface temperature (black) and cloud area (blue) in the Nino3.4 Region.

Once again, we have an extremely close correlation between the two variables, temperature and cloud area. Since thunderstorms do not generally cover a large amount of the sky, these would be mostly cumulus clouds.

CONCLUSIONS:

As I hypothesized a decade ago, tropical cumulus clouds and thunderstorms do form an active governing system that acts to oppose any temperature variations by changing the timing and the strength of the daily emergence of the cumulus field and the associated thunderstorms.

The thunderstorm connection is demonstrated by the very close correspondence between the temperatures and the strength of the thunderstorms as measured by average cloud height.

The thunderstorm connection is demonstrated by the very close correspondence between the temperatures and the strength and timing of the thunderstorms as measured by average cloud height.

The cumulus field connection is demonstrated by the very close correspondence between the temperatures and the strength and timing of the cumulus as measured by average cloud coverage.

More clouds and thunderstorms when the ocean is warm cool the surface in a variety of ways, including cloud albedo changes, increased evaporation, cold rainfall, and as I’m writing this I remember one more thing … surface albedo changes. Hmmm … hadn’t thought of that in a while.

In my original hypothesis, I said that one of the ways that the thunderstorms increased the albedo was by forming breaking waves and spume, both of which are white and reflect more sunlight. In addition,  the albedo of rough water is greater than that of calm water. So I hypothesized that thunderstorms would increase the surface albedo in a couple of ways … I should look at that as well. Hang on while I pull up that data … OK, here’s Figure 7, hot off the presses …

NINO34 sea surface temperature plus surface albedo.png

Figure 7. Sea surface temperature (black) and surface albedo (purple) in the Nino3.4 Region.

More good news. This is the first evidence I’ve found for this minor part of my hypothesis, the claim that thunderstorms cool the surface in part by increasing surface albedo. And while the change is small, about half a percent, it represents a change of ~ 4 W/m2 in absorbed solar energy. This is more change in absorbed energy than would result from a doubling of CO2.

So that’s what I found out today about the situation in the Nino 3.4 region …


After midnight here. It was hot today for the first time this year, but now it’s deliciously cool outside. Jupiter is blazing in the night sky, what a wonderful world we inhabit.

Best to everyone,

w.

OH, YEAH, ALMOST FORGOT: When you comment please quote the exact words you are discussing. Sources that are crystal clear in your mind may be invisible from this side of the screen, so please do everyone a favor and QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS YOU ARE REFERRING TO.

 

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143 thoughts on “Clouds and El Nino

  1. Congrats Willis
    Some of the most convincing and important correlations we have seen for some years.
    Important that the relations hold over several successive years.
    Minor note. Are you quite sure that none of your primary input parameters were calculated free of the others in this the It is an era that breeds caution about official data.
    Now the hunt is on for the reference entity that tells the system to keep coming back to it. Now thinking it might be the moisture content of air when clouds start to form, that type of mechanism. Geoff.

      • Thanks, David, I thought about that a lot when I saw how good the correlation was between cloud height and SST. You don’t find that good a correlation often in nature. However, I can find no sign of cross-contamination. Doesn’t mean it’s not there … just that I didn’t see it.
        Best regards,
        w.

    • I like the ‘solar perspective’ very much.
      a collection of hourly photos from the noon time view, once around the globe, would be awesome.
      it would provide visual detail of the entire global refrigeration cycle.

    • Brilliant analysis. Can we estimate how much larger this effect is than any theoretical effect from CO2? I bet it’s a big number

    • Another excellent presentation! BTW, my eyeballing of your figure 6 may detect a small lag of cloud area following temperature. If I’m seeing what actually is there, this would lend some additional support to your hypothesis.

  2. A masterpiece… except for this bit…

    After the turn of the century, I became interested in climate science. But unlike almost everyone else, I wasn’t surprised by how much the global temperature was changing. As someone with experience with heat engines and engine governors, I know how hard it is to keep a heat engine stable under a changing load. As a result, I was surprised at how little the temperature was changing.

    Unless… “almost everyone else” refers to the contrived 97% consensus… 😉

    • Actual that statement just made me think Willis over a hundred years old! Guess that shows my age because turn of the century means 1900 to me.

      • The turn of the century ….. or ….. the turn of the millennium, …. both would be correct for 12:01 AM, January 01, 2000, …… right?

      • At the 1st instant of 100AD, only 99 years had been completed. Counting elapsed time of the AD era began at the 1st instance of the year 1AD. (No year was designated 0.)
        Thus the 2nd century began on the 1st instant of 101AD, and the 21st century began at the 1st instant of 2001AD
        SR

  3. I had long wondered why there are dry deserts on west coasts, almost on the sea, like Atacama, West Australia shield, Namib. Your cloud height maps show low clouds approach from the west, then seemingly they dump moisture as soon as they see land. Then go higher. So, in a sense, it is not just the regulator that shows the effects you write about here, especially in the Nino area, there is a topography factor once land comes into the picture. Mentioned because the mechanisms causing these deserts might help explain mechanisms of the regulator, if you do indeed need more explanations. Does this topograpy have the ability to unseat your regulator and again put pressure on what it looks to revert to? Geoff.

    • They hardly get in over land. There is usually low stratus clouds over these cold waters, so weather is cool and foggy close to the coast, but the clouds evaporate as soon as the come in over the warmer land. They usually don’t “dump” any moisture, there simply isn’t enough since evaporation is slight over the cold water offshore. Where there is high mountains very close to the coast (e. g. Peru) you can get some mist forest or scrub (“lomas”) at medium altitude, otherwise the desert tends to go right down to the coast, as in Chile and Namibia. Actually these coastal deserts are the driest in the World.

    • What are you describing, Geoff:
      To me, you seem hyper focused on certain coasts; e.g. California, Chile.
      Yet, when I look at the video, coastlines are a minuscule percentage of the areas affected.
      Nor does your description(s) take into account a large majority of the coastlines experiencing the cloud changes Willis describes, e.g.:
      Panama,
      South India,
      Malaysia,
      Thailand,
      SE Asia,
      Gulf of Mexico coasts,
      Mexico,
      a small portion of Western Africa,
      Portions of East Africa.
      Then there is the large oceanic areas where cloud height, thunderstorms and albedo change dominate.

      • It depends upon latitude. Mexico’s dry Baja California del Sur is in the same north latitude as Chile’s Atacama Region is south. Also as the Namib Desert.

      • ATheoK,
        Willis is talking cloud, rain, temperature. I use west coast deserts where the Willis figures show a quick transition of variables like cloud and rain, at latitudes maybe forced by Hadley circulation. Willis first chose the Nino narea which is rather unperturbed for the purposes of his essay. I simply noted an extreme, where there is a lot of perturbation. In science diagnosis, extremes can be reich in diagnostic information. In climate science, there is often an attempt to hide or homogenise them. That answer your question? Geoff

      • “Geoff Sherrington May 11, 2018 at 2:14 am

        I simply noted an extreme, where there is a lot of perturbation. In science diagnosis, extremes can be reich in diagnostic information. In climate science, there is often an attempt to hide or homogenise them. That answer your question? Geoff”

        Indeed it does!
        Yes, you are hyper focused; but that is actually a focus on visible extremes, not a focus to exclusion.
        That makes a lot of sense to me.
        Perhaps, I should mention that I have been accused many times of focusing on a tree or forest when everyone else is looking at the forest or trees.
        When I used to download and dredge reams of financial data, my intensive data inspections always focused on extremes first.
        e.g. Why did Maintenance get a $95,000 charge that pay period when their normal expenses average $1,500?
        That $95,000 charge eventually uncovered a broken parts charging system and a total of $450,000 mistakenly charged against our Division by a maintenance worker in another Division working on correcting their inventory.
        The regular accounting period summaries would’ve hidden that charge amongst summaries of maintenance expenses. In a shorter period, using a direct download from journal entries, it stood out like a sore thumb.
        An extreme. Why? How? Who?
        So, yes, with oceans of affected area data available, I fully understand the curious extremes getting attention.
        I apologize for aggressively questioning you, Geoff.

      • We live in Panama, 9 degrees north at 1200 meters, just below the knife edge of the continental divide that separates the Caribbean and Pacific. When the ITCZ is over us, the rainy season, days dawn clear. By noon or so, Pacific thunderstorms march up from the west dumping their rain as they rise. We get 200-300 inches of rain per year.
        Even more interesting, demonstrating the validity of Willis’ theory, our temps vary from 65-75 F day and night, year around. In ten years, the min/max thermometer has never shown more than 81 or less than 58. Our houses don’t have heating or air conditioning and are built to allow continuous flow through ventilation. If the tropical thermostat set point was changing, we might think that global climate might be changing, but there is no evidence of that in any of the (admittedly sparse) long term temperature records from our area.
        Over the years, I have accumulated a ton of photographic evidence of the thermostat in action and how clouds form from the jungle under precise conditions. All of it points to the conclusion that Willis is on to something really important.

  4. “And while the change is small, about half a percent, it represents a change of ~ 4 W/m2 in absorbed solar energy. This is more change in absorbed energy than would result from a doubling of CO2.”
    This statement is all one really needs to know about the magnitude of the effects of CO2. Great Post Willis.

  5. Very nice,very reasonable, very believable. I like equatorial thunderstorms. A fraction (small, 1-5W/m2?) of the energy is radiated away as atmospheric gravity waves (AGW) and partly deposited in the mesosphere and thermosphere from where it is radiated to space. You seldom see this part of the energy balance mentioned in the literature. Should have commented more but have to get out into the glorious subarctic spring day where it is getting close to 25C. I will look for Jupiter tonight.

      • Great article Willis.
        Last Year as Hurricane Irma careened up the north coast of Cuba and the west coast of Florida, I was following the upper atmospheric pressure via Windyty. There was a high pressure over the Mississippi valley and a second high pressure over the Atlantic around Bermuda, creating a trough up the East Coast.
        There was a meridional jet stream Rossby wave flowing south down the Mississippi and hooking sharply up the east coast.
        As Irma approached the hooking wave, the Jet Stream sucked all the energy out of the top of the hurricane and sent the energy northeast, causing the storm to dissipate rapidly.
        Truly an amazing heat engine, this world.

  6. A compelling detailed picture of your temperature regulator hypothesis, Willis. This is ready for a reprise of your EE paper. Perhaps you should also consider a shot at converting this to a model for framing and constraining general circulation models given that you are dealing with control on the energy input into the system. Rather it should replace the parameterization they currently use for clouds and their over hyped aerosol fudge factor which is the “regulator” the Team uses to conserve a high climate sensitivity for CO2. Yeah, on second thought, not much chance of collaboration here.

  7. Willis, how do they get the data for the HadSLP2 gridded dataset of sea level pressure? I only ask in case they calculate it using data that you’re using elsewhere in your calculation and it is thus correlating with itself.

    • The HadSLP2 dataset comes from a number of stations all around the planet. In addition, it’s a small contributor to the final calculation. Hang on, let me look … ok, the pressure term only makes a difference of about 1% in the final calculation. So however the Hadley folks get it, it’s making little difference.
      w.

      • I had similar questions.
        Thinking out loud, I’m trying to figure out what the location of the cloud top physically signifies. Is it the point at which a local parcel of air, rising and cooling at the saturated adiabatic lapse rate, runs out of condensable water to sustain more cloud formation? If so, would one also expect this amount of available condensable water, and thus cloud-top height, to be proportional to the temperature of the air at the ocean surface where convection is initiated, and thus the observed correlation in figure 5 would be expected?
        Strictly, I wouldn’t expect it to be linear, but it might appear so over relatively small temperature ranges.

  8. Really good Willis. Here is some stuff posted on wattsup over previous months/years that may help tie it all together.
    Best, Allan
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1527601687317388&set=a.1012901982120697.1073741826.100002027142240&type=3&theater
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1665255773551978&set=a.1012901982120697.1073741826.100002027142240&type=3&theater
    The correct mechanism is described as follows (approx.):
    Equatorial Pacific Sea Surface Temperature up –> Equatorial Atmospheric Water Vapor up 3 months later –> Equatorial Temperature up -> Global Temperature up one month later -> Global Atmospheric dCO2/dt up (contemporaneous with Global Temperature) -> Atmospheric CO2 trends up 9 months later
    What drives Equatorial Pacific Sea Surface Temperature? In sub-decadal timeframes, El Nino and La Nina (ENSO); longer term, probably the Integral of Solar Activity.
    The base CO2 increase of ~2ppm/year could have many causes, including fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, etc, but it has a minor or insignificant impact on global temperatures.

    • The Nino34 Area Sea Surface Temperature (the blue line in the above upper plot), adjusted by the Sato Global Mean Optical Depth Index (for major volcanoes – the yellow line), correlates quite well with the Global UAH LT temperature four months later (the red line).
      UAH LT temperature also correlates well with Equatorial Atmospheric Water Vapor of one month earlier (the yellow line in the above lower plot). This mechanism ties to Willis’ clouds – down to the hourly level – the rising Sun drives water vapor off the oceans into the atmosphere, clouds form, shade the ocean, and that is the natural regulator of temperature.
      This close correlation of Nino34 SST’s with global temperatures four months later either means that this small Nino34 area of the Pacific Ocean drives global temperature or other tropical oceanic areas have a similar temperature signature – that they correlate with Nino34 SST’s.
      How does CO2 play into this equation? Atmospheric CO2 is increasing at a “base rate” of about 2ppm/year, probably due to fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, etc. However, the rate of change dCO2/dt changes ~contemporaneously with average global temperature, and its integral, the trend of atm. CO2 changes ~9 months after global temperature, so it is clear that global temperature drives atm. CO2 much more than atm. CO2 drives temperature, and so the sensitivity of temperature to atm. CO2 must be relatively small, and far too small for a real global warming crisis to exist.
      It appears to be just about that simple! And the very-scary global warming climate models do not reflect this mechanism at all. I suggest we can do a much better job of modelling climate with the simple closed-form solutions presented in these plots, maybe with a bit more refinement – and they will show NO GLOBAL WARMING CRISIS.
      More details here
      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/05/02/is-climate-alarmist-consensus-about-to-shatter/comment-page-1/#comment-2805310
      and here
      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/04/28/solar-activity-flatlines-weakest-solar-cycle-in-200-years/comment-page-1/#comment-2803244

      • Correction
        “UAH LT temperature also correlates well with Equatorial Atmospheric Water Vapor of one month earlier (the yellowISH-GREEN line in the above lower plot).

    • Allan,
      Please forgive me if I am stating the blindingly obvious. I doing so just to clear up my own thoughts.
      you say:
      “What drives Equatorial Pacific Sea Surface Temperature? In sub-decadal timeframes, El Nino and La Nina (ENSO); longer term, probably the Integral of Solar Activity.”
      If you accept that El Nino and La Nina events (i.e. the ENSO “cycle”) drives the Nino3.4 central-Pacific SST in sub-decadal timeframes then Willis’ results would seem to imply that:
      a) the warming of these SST’s invokes a cooling response through the increase of cloud-height and an increase in the area of cumulus clouds.
      b) the cooling of these SST’s invokes a warming response through the decrease of cloud-height and a decrease in the area of cumulus clouds.
      Hence, Willis has found the underlying regulatory mechanism that is keeping the equatorial atmospheric temperatures within a very limited range i.e. a mechanism that produces a negative feedback upon the equatorial atmospheric temperatures over sub-decadal time frames, and possibly longer.
      So I think it would be fair to say that Willis has found the mechanism that mitigates against atmospheric temperature changes from the long-term mean. However, he is not saying that this mechanism is causing those temperature changes in the first place.
      Thanks in advance for bearing with my ramblings…..

      • Hello Ian,
        Thank you for your question. I cannot speak for Willis but I can speak to the parts of the mechanism that I addressed. I will try to note what is speculation and what is demonstrated by correlated data.
        I wrote above:
        “The correct mechanism is described as follows (approx.):
        Equatorial Pacific Sea Surface Temperature up –> Equatorial Atmospheric Water Vapor up 3 months later –> Equatorial Temperature up -> Global Temperature up one month later -> Global Atmospheric dCO2/dt up (contemporaneous with Global Temperature) -> Atmospheric CO2 trends up 9 months later.”
        – This is all fairly well-proved – one question I have is what primarily drives the close dCO2/dt vs temperature relationship – is it primarily the Henry’s Law solution/exsolution of CO2 from seawater, or does the huge temperature-driven mostly-land-based seasonal photosynthesis/oxidation flux predominate?
        Continuing, I wrote:
        “What drives Equatorial Pacific Sea Surface Temperature? In sub-decadal timeframes, El Nino and La Nina (ENSO); longer term, probably the Integral of Solar Activity.”
        – The ENSO cyclical global temperature driver is well-proven, imo; the bigger question is what drives long term ocean warming and cooling, and I think it must be the integral of solar activity, but I have not proved it. Dan Pangburn and others have made a good effort to do so.
        Continuing, I wrote:
        “The base CO2 increase of ~2ppm/year could have many causes, including fossil fuel combustion,
        deforestation, etc, but it has a minor or insignificant impact on global temperatures.”
        – Increasing atmospheric CO2 may play a minor role in global warming, but it is certainly minor and probably almost insignificant.
        As I see it (obviously subject to correction by Willis), what Willis has described is a self-regulating system, that effectively provides a negative feedback to the oceanic climate system by increasing cloud cover when the ocean warms due to sunshine, such that this warming is moderated. I speculate that over long periods of time, sea surface temperatures can warm provided solar activity exceeds a certain threshold. The feedback effect will not completely prevent this warming, but will moderate it. I presume the same principles apply in reverse in a long term cooling situation.

  9. Brilliant. Persistance always pays off. Five quarts of medals for Komrad Willis.
    Sandy, Minister of Future

  10. Ah…intuition followed by facts and data. So old fashion. So reliable.
    And that sir, is why I always read your posts.

  11. This id one of Willis’ most interesting posts. I especially liked the idea of looking at the Earth from the point of view of the Sun which helps simplify the more complex processes. The article has some of the most original and convincing ideas on this mechanism for temperature control by real forces, not CO2. I look forward to Willis developing this idea further,

    • Looking at the Earth from the point of view of the Sun totally wowed me when I read it here first all those years ago. A brilliant insight.
      On today’s post the most peculiar thing is that the correlation is so good. Too good.
      It seems that nucleation points for clouds are always in great abundance so there absence doesn’t ever matter. Perhaps the formation of ice crystals is part of the mechanism?
      Because otherwise I can’t see how this can be so good.

      • Hello M,
        Your dad Richard S C would love this post – please make sure he sees it (and my above comments), and give him my best regards.
        Thank you, Allan

      • Allan MacRae:
        This is a public reply from me to your comment made here to my son. This public reply also includes my reply to your private email to me. .
        Firstly, sincere thanks for informing me of this WUWT item which is very good and, as you suspecte,, it does fascinate me (and I am glad to have survived long enough to have read it). Indeed, I suspect that in future Willis Eschenbach will be honoured for this in the same way that Milankovitch (a cement engineer) is honoured by having his climate related cycles named after him.
        I also like your post that you point me to. Yes, you do provide very supporting data for the postulated ‘Eschenbach Effect’. And I will add to the structure of supporting information in a post below the comments on the data of rogertaguchi ( at https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/05/09/clouds-and-el-nino/#comment-2811635 ) and you.
        Thankyou for your concern for my health which I reciprocate. I hope and pray that your medical problems will be resolved or at least not be too painful.
        My pain relief is morphine-based and inhibits my thought. Therefore, I have to reduce that relief (and obtain significant suffering) to enable me to make posts such as this. Hence, I am grateful for the kind and unduly flattering comments in your email but I hope you will understand my reticence to make frequent comments on WUWT.
        Also, I would be more willing to make the effort to provide posts on WUWT if my every post were not savaged by trolls and stalkers some of whom I suspect to be bots (e.g. Mark W), or if I were given some protection. Indeed, I was banned from one thread about me because I requested to know of what I was being accused ( see https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/12/a-mann-uva-email-not-discussed-here-before-claims-by-mann-spliced-and-diced/.).
        Richard

      • richardscourtney May 9, 2018 at 11:43 pm

        Allan MacRae:
        This is a public reply from me to your comment made here to my son. This public reply also includes my reply to your private email to me.
        Firstly, sincere thanks for informing me of this WUWT item which is very good and, as you suspected, it does fascinate me (and I am glad to have survived long enough to have read it). Indeed, I suspect that in future Willis Eschenbach will be honoured for this in the same way that Milankovitch (a cement engineer) is honoured by having his climate related cycles named after him. …

        Richard, thank you profoundly for your most kind words above, undeserved though they may be. I’m sorry to hear about your troubles. Constant unremitting pain is a great weight to bear, so I’m glad to see that you are maintaining your spirit through it all.
        I am sure I speak for many here when I wish you the very best, along with the hope that your pain goes into remittance.
        My warmest regards to you,
        w.

  12. “thunderstorms cool the surface in part by increasing surface albedo. And while the change is small, about half a percent, it represents a change of ~ 4 W/m2 in absorbed solar energy. This is more change in absorbed energy than would result from a doubling of CO2.”
    Yes but the 3.7 W/m^2 of CO2 is average for the global surface area and lasts over 100 years. That 4 W/m^2 covers the area under thunderstorms and lasts an hour or so. Anyway I agree with the cloud negative feedback and that means TCR should be less than 1 C per 2x CO2

    • Hi, Dr. Strangelove! I agree with your judgment on cloud negative feedback and TCR. But the 3.7 W/m^2 value for radiative forcing is not averaged for the global surface area for a clouded Earth. It comes from computer calculations of CO2 absorption changes on doubling concentration, necessarily for a CLOUDLESS surface [see Gunnar Myhre et al. “New estimates of radiative forcing due to well mixed greenhouse gases” at Geophysical Research Letter, Vol. 25, No. 14, PP 2715-2718, July 15, 1998]. Their Table 3 shows their derivation of “delta F” = 5.35 ln(C/Co) for radiative forcing, and substituting C/Co = 2 gives 5.35 ln2 = 3.7 W/m^2. This can be used to calculate climate sensitivity of 1 degree on doubling CO2, not counting feedbacks (which the IPCC wrongly says triples the value to 3 degrees).
      Why do clouds decrease climate sensitivity? There are 3 factors involved. First, cloud particles (small liquid droplets or ice crystals) are almost perfect black bodies (emissivity 0.98 or greater) at infrared (IR) frequencies, so the cloud-tops act as the source of the initial IR radiation to be absorbed by CO2 molecules in the path length to outer space. At temperatures well below 288 K (15 Celsius), the initial radiative flux at all IR frequencies are lower than at the Earth’s surface (the Planck radiation law, and integrated, the Stefan-Boltzmann law). Doubling CO2 cannot increase absorption above 100%, so has little effect below the cloud tops.
      Secondly, the path length of absorbing CO2 molecules is shorter from the cloud tops to outer space, compared to from the Earth’s surface to outer space. As air pressure/concentration of CO2 decreases exponentially with increasing altitude, the number of ground state CO2 molecules in the path length decreases more-than-linearly.
      Thirdly, the central IR frequencies (around 667 cm^-1) are almost completely saturated. Doubling CO2 will increase absorption only for frequencies in the wings of the absorption ditch. The MODTRAN computed spectra available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiative_forcing show only a tiny difference (between the blue and green curves), centered at 618 and 721 cm^-1. These absorptions involve photons absorbed by molecules in the bond-bending first excited state, 667.4 cm^-1 above the ground vibrational state [see http://www.barrettbellamyclimate.com , “Spectral transitions”, Diagram 3]. The equilibrium ratio of the number of first excited state to ground state molecules varies as the decreasing exponential Boltzmann function exp(-hcf/kT) where f = 667.4 cm^-1 is the wavenumber and c = 2.998 x 10^10 cm/s is the vacuum speed of light, and k is Boltzmann’s constant. T is the absolute temperature, and since it is in the denominator, the ratio of first excited states plummets as temperatures decrease with increasing altitude.
      The bottom line is that when the 62% of the Earth’s surface covered by clouds is considered, doubling CO2 decreases climate sensitivity (not including feedbacks) from 0.9 K to 0.6 K (the value of 0.9 K results from using radiative forcing = 3.39 W/m^2 , as shown in the MODTRAN spectrum, instead of 3.7 W/m^2). And this result was derived using average cloud tops at 278.85 K (5.7 Celsius) at an altitude of 1.37 km. Willis’ graphs show cloud tops, especially at the tropics, at much higher altitudes, so the decrease in climate sensitivity (not counting feedbacks) could be significantly greater.
      And this doesn’t include narrowing of vibration-rotation line widths with lower temperatures (smaller Doppler shifts) and lower pressures (less pressure broadening) at higher altitudes, which will decrease the contribution to total absorption from above the cloud tops even more.
      The MODTRAN spectrum was calculated for upward irradiance at 20 km, and showed no difference in the CO2 truncation levels (at “220 K” for both 300 and 600 ppmv CO2). However, if the integration is done to 70 km, the increasing temperatures in the stratosphere above 20 km mean that doubling CO2 will increase EMISSION at central frequencies around 667 cm^-1 [see the section “The hard bit” at http://www.barrettbellamyclimate.com ]. Therefore for energy balance, the Earth’s surface does not need to warm up as much; I.e. climate sensitivity is decreased even further.
      The bottom line is that climate sensitivity (not including feedbacks) is slightly below 0.6 K. Even including a 50% positive feedback from increasing water vapor, in agreement with Soden & Held’s “An Assessment of Climate Feedbacks in Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Models”, Journal of Climate, Vol. 19, pp. 3354-3360 (2006), would boost climate sensitivity to only 0.9 K. Therefore wrecking Western economies in order to decrease warming to only 2 K is unnecessary, wasteful and foolish.
      And as Willis has shown, increasing temperatures which increase water vapor which increases clouds result in a negative feedback, in agreement with physical intuition. Therefore climate sensitivity can be dropped down from 0.9 K to 0.6-0.7 K . Email me at rtaguchi@rogers.com if you want more details of this calculation.
      BTW, the rise and fall of El Nino temperature spikes and the recovery from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption show that there is no decades- or centuries-long time constant (if there were such a long lag period, then temperatures should have continued to increase even if CO2 had been constant in the last 20 years instead of continually increasing).

      • Roger T wrote:
        “And as Willis has shown, increasing temperatures which increase water vapor which increases clouds result in a negative feedback, in agreement with physical intuition. Therefore climate sensitivity can be dropped down from 0.9 K to 0.6-0.7 K .”
        Thank you Roger for you post. I agree with you that Climate Sensitivity (CS) to increasing atm. CO2 is impacted by negative feedbacks, and is less than ~1.0C/(2xCO2).
        I further suggest that CS is MUCH less than 1.0C, and is probably closer to 0.0C than 1.0C – in any case, far too low to cause any real global warming crisis.
        My evidence is derived from world-scale data as evidence such as my two posts above from earlier today, which tie well with Willis’ world-scale observations. Your observations on the rapid (few-years) rebound from Pinatubo are also supported by world-scale data.
        Comments welcomed. I will send you my email should you prefer to talk offline.
        Best, Allan

      • The ChicagoU web version of MODTRAN is not capable of simulating the conditions measured above certain tropical ocean at SST of 28C. The OLR above the Coral Sea often averages below 200W/sq.m.
        https://neo.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/view.php?datasetId=CERES_LWFLUX_M
        Taking the MODTRAN water scale to its maximum and with 75mm/hr of rain the lowest value of OLR it produces is 209w/sq.m. CERES shows monthly averages on a 1 degree grid of 195W/sq.m.
        Putting water vapour to the highest possible value available in the model reduces CO2 sensitivity to 1W/sq.m.

      • rogertaguchi and Allan MacRae :
        Allan says to rogertaguchi ,
        “Thank you Roger for you post. I agree with you that Climate Sensitivity (CS) to increasing atm. CO2 is impacted by negative feedbacks, and is less than ~1.0C/(2xCO2).
        I further suggest that CS is MUCH less than 1.0C, and is probably closer to 0.0C than 1.0C – in any case, far too low to cause any real global warming crisis.”
        YES!
        Empirical – n.b. not model-derived – determinations indicate climate sensitivity is less than 1.0 deg.C for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 equivalent. This is indicated by the studies of
        Idso from surface measurements
        http://www.warwickhughes.com/papers/Idso_CR_1998.pdf
        and Lindzen & Choi from ERBE satelite data
        http://www.drroyspencer.com/Lindzen-and-Choi-GRL-2009.pdf
        and Gregory from balloon radiosonde data
        http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/OLR&NGF_June2011.pdf
        These determinations use different methods to analyse different data sets and they each deterrmine that climate sensitivity is 0.4 deg C for a doubling of CO2 equivalent.
        Richard

        • To Dr. Strangelove re comment of May 10 at 5:31 am: Thank you for your courteous reply. You have obviously taken the time to research my point, and have courageously posted that the 3.7 W/m^2 is for a clear sky, as I stated. I have used Wikipedia numbers in my calculation to show that even using their assumptions the IPCC best value of 3 K for equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) is way too high. I note that the Wikipedia articles on climate skeptics Richard Lindzen of MIT and William Happer of Princeton include personal attacks. For instance, Lindzen has admitted being wrong in a paper, something that every fair-minded scientist ought to do (and every researcher on the frontier makes mistakes), but this seems to be held against him. Admitting mistakes is something that the CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming) cult seems unable to do. Happer has made cutting edge discoveries and innovations, but has been dismissed as being against the 97% consensus; i.e. he is a weirdo that can be safely and justifiably ignored.
          Re your point that “cooling will not reach the surface as the troposphere has a different temperature profile” [from the stratosphere]: Doubling CO2 will raise the altitude at which central frequencies (around 667 cm^-1) finally escape to outer space, and due to the temperature inversion from 20 km to 50 km caused by absorption of incoming UV and visible radiation by ozone, this emission will be at a higher “temperature”. This increased emission at 667 cm^-1 means that the Earth’s surface does not have be warmed AS MUCH to achieve total energy balance when all frequencies are emitted at 288 K. I.e. ECS is decreased. This does not mean that energy has to be transferred from the stratosphere to the troposphere to the surface; radiative exchange might change the temperature at the tropopause slightly, but does not have to extend all the way to the surface. Convection cannot transfer net heat from the stratosphere to the surface, since “heat rises” by convection.
          IMO the literature argument re altitude of final emission to outer space is wrong when extended to frequencies in the wings of the CO2 absorption band which are not 100% saturated. For example: “doubling CO2 means the final escape of IR photons occurs at higher altitudes where the temperature of the troposphere is lower; this decreased emission means that for total energy balance the surface temperature of the Earth must go up”. This argument uses the Schwarzschild Equation I = Io.exp(-KCL) + B[1-exp(-KCL)] , assuming that the first term (Beer-Lambert transmission) is zero, so the radiative flux I = B , where B is the Planck black body emission whose integrated value over all frequencies gives the Stefan-Boltzmann T^4 law. This is adequate for central CO2 frequencies around 667 cm^-1 which escape in the stratosphere from 20 to 50 km, as I have already said.
          But for frequencies in the wings that are not completely saturated, let the Signal observed by satellites looking downward onto the Earth’s surface be I/Io = exp(-KCL) + (B/Io)[1-exp(-KCL)]. Since exp(-KCL) is the transmittance = 1-A, where A is the absorbance (consistent with Kirchhoff’s Law that a good absorber is a good emitter), the Signal becomes I/Io = 1-A + (B/Io)A = 1 – (1-B/Io)A , which is simply a modified Beer-Lambert absorption where -B/Io takes into account the emission at final altitude where the temperature is lower than the 288 K at the Earth’s surface. I.e. the CO2 spectrum in the wings is an ABSORPTION spectrum, not an EMISSION spectrum. The literature is laughably wrong on this point, as any competent chemist can tell you. Because CO2 667 cm^-1 emission occurs near the peak of black body emission at Earth temperatures, B/Io at 10 km can be approximated by (220/288)^4 = 0.34, so the Signal becomes I/Io = 1 – 0.66A, where A is unmodified Beer-Lambert absorbance. Because the temperature from 10 to 20 km is roughly constant at 220 K (due to absorption of incoming solar radiation by ozone), the Signal at 10 km will be unchanged all the way to 20 km (because there can be no net heat flow by absorption & emission from one region to another at the same temperature – the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics), even as the concentration of absorbing molecules decreases by a factor of 6 or so. So effectively final escape of photons at unsaturated frequencies occurs at 10 km (and not at intermediate altitudes such as 4 or 5 km), with a Signal = 1 – 0.66A. So as CO2 is doubled, A increases slightly (with saturation effects becoming important for A greater than 0.1 or 0.2), the Signal escaping to outer space decreases slightly, requiring a slight increase in the Earth’s surface temperature in order to increase Io for energy balance. The energy source for this increase in temperature is the constant incoming Solar radiation (if outflow is slightly throttled back, a constant inflow will increase the surface temperature which radiates more as T^4 until a new steady state is quickly achieved).
          I trust this discussion helps Dr. Strangelove, who sincerely wants to understand more, as well as others with open minds. With respect for all.

    • The 4W/m^2 is for surface albedo, a tiny component of the system. The power of a moderate thunderstorm at 1″ per hour is 15,924 W/m^2. That is why the process is so stable. The capacity of water to transport and reject heat is 3 or more orders of magnitude greater than the miniscule effect of CO2. Willis is right, small timescale processes with nearly unlimited headroom make for a brick wall of control.

  13. So … How does this regulator allow either a slow drift to glacial cold of 8 degrees C or a rapid decline to little ice age of 12 degrees C?
    Sandy, Minister of Future

    • Odd!?
      Willis demonstrates an Earth heat regulating that caps daily temperature increases.
      Then you, Sandy, demand futuristic Earth cooling explanations for unnamed mechanisms…
      Twisted, bizarre and out of touch with reality logic.

      • @ATheoK- you need a refresher course in trolling 101 hahaha.
        You said:
        1. Then you, Sandy, demand futuristic Earth cooling explanations for unnamed mechanisms…
        * my question was hardly a demand.
        ‘slow drift to glacial cold’ and ‘rapid decline’ are in no way futuristic.
        And …
        2. Twisted, bizarre and out of touch with reality logic.
        * if it’s logical it can hardly be twisted, bizarre, or out of touch with reality. Get a grip.
        Sandy, Minister of Future

      • Typical trollop response:
        A) Respond with an ad hominem to demean the commenter.
        B) Introduce straw men arguments to skew the logic.
        C) Twist words and meanings as a false buttress for the trollop.

        “interzonkomizar May 9, 2018 at 5:12 am
        So … How does this regulator allow either a slow drift to glacial cold of 8 degrees C or a rapid decline to little ice age of 12 degrees C?
        Sandy, Minister of Future”

        Blunt question? It’s a demand.
        ‘slow drift to glacial cold’ and ‘rapid decline’ are in no way futuristic.
        It is future, until you define the time period.
        * if it’s logical it can hardly be twisted, bizarre, or out of touch with reality. Get a grip.
        A bogus straw man where Sandy substitutes a different word for the word I used. Logic is not equal to logical!

        “Definition of logic
        1 a (1) : a science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration : the science of the formal principles of reasoning a professor of logic (2) : a branch or variety of logic modal logic Boolean logic (3) : a branch of semiotics; especially : syntactics (4) : the formal principles of a branch of knowledge the logic of grammar
        b (1) : a particular mode of reasoning viewed as valid or faulty She spent a long time explaining the situation, but he failed to see her logic. (2) : relevance, propriety could not understand the logic of such an action
        c : interrelation or sequence of facts or events when seen as inevitable or predictable By the logic of events, anarchy leads to dictatorship.
        d : the arrangement of circuit elements (as in a computer) needed for computation; also : the circuits themselves
        2 : something that forces a decision apart from or in opposition to reason the logic of war”

        All in all, a completely bogus argument from Sandy.

      • “The slow drift to glacial cold” depends on the insolation at high latitudes which can hardly be governed by tropical thunderstorms.
        An as for “a rapid decline to little ice age of 12 degrees C” there hasn’t been any. The decline from MWP to LIA was on the order of 1 degree grobally. Just what are you thinking of?

  14. It is precisely for studies such as these that we included clouds with the radiation measurements. Keep up the good work.

  15. From the sun you can see the entire surface of the planet over 24 hrs appear as it rotates before your eyes.
    From a single geostationary satellite you can only see the same part of the planet all the time, and less surface area than you can see from the sun, even when the entire surface is illuminated at geostationary midday. You can’t see the poles from geostationary orbit, no matter what season it is.

  16. One question that jumps out at me is does this work worldwide. Instead of just the Nino 3.4 region, how have cloud temperatures changed over the entire planet over time? Is it consistent across latitudes? How does it correlate to temperature change?
    If clouds work as a negative feedback then we should see a correlation. Colder clouds mean higher clouds which means more water vapor has been extracted. This would reduce the GHE due to water vapor.

    • “Richard M May 9, 2018 at 5:33 am
      One question that jumps out at me is does this work worldwide. Instead of just the Nino 3.4 region, how have cloud temperatures changed over the entire planet over time? Is it consistent across latitudes? How does it correlate to temperature change?
      If clouds work as a negative feedback then we should see a correlation. Colder clouds mean higher clouds which means more water vapor has been extracted. This would reduce the GHE due to water vapor.”

      Thunderstorms occur worldwide, generally during warm seasons.
      Colder clouds mean higher clouds which means more water vapor has been extracted
      Higher cloud tops mean taller and often larger clouds.
      Increased cloud area generally means greater volumes of moisture are present; not reduced.
      Your question regarding GHE is misstated. Unlike CO₂ water, H₂O, is IR active during all three physical states; solid, liquid, vapor.
      Meaning, clouds intercept/emit large portions of the infra-red spectrum, no matter which H₂O physical state those wavelengths encounter.
      Cold cloud tops that are mostly ice crystals with very high albedo that reflects substantial portions of the entire light spectrum.
      Water, H₂O, is the atmospheric GHE whale, while CO₂ is a GHE atmospheric flea.

      • ATheoK : “Increased cloud area generally means greater volumes of moisture are present; not reduced.”
        Not necessarily where it counts. Warmer/moist air would lead to enhanced convection driving water vapor higher into the atmosphere where it is colder. This condenses out more water vapor into water/ice (aka clouds). IOW, while you may start with a little more moisture you have a more efficient condensation process removing even more.
        Keep in mind that the clouds then deposit some the water that was condensed out back to the surface in the form of rain/snow. This leaves dryer air aloft where the GHE is most important. We should see an overall slight increase in precipitation as well.

      • I looked up the emissivity coefficient for water. Pretty darn close to the same values.
        Water 0.95 – 0.99
        Ice (rough) 0.985 (smooth) 0.966
        snow 0.969 – 0.997

    • Now the tropical oceans are just about the only areas on Earth with a heat surplus. Even the Sahara desert has a net heat deficit. The heat exported from the tropical oceans (and particularly the Pacific Warm Pool) therefore strongly affects the climate of the whole planet.

  17. The other parameter in T-Storm development is the temperature lapse rate of the atmosphere. To get the warm, moist air to continue rising, it basically needs to stay warmer than the surrounding air it is rising into. This air cools as it rises, so if the air above it is too warm as in a temperature inversion, the air stops rising and everything is capped.
    In coastal North Carolina in the summer for instance, at noon the air temperature may be 92F with dew points in the 70’s. But the best we can get are cumulus clouds because the upper air temperatures are too warm to generate T-Storms. Yet you can be at the beach and look out at towering T-Storms over the Gulf Stream because the air masses are different enough to allow it.
    It would be a different story if the maritime air in the tropics was more continental in nature.

  18. Amazing correlations, it would be difficult to find a more compelling evidence on anything.

  19. Sorry to beat a dead horse, but can you not see the solar cycle when looking at fig. 4? Especially if you remove the el nino spikes in 2010 and 2016?

  20. Willis, I must give you the credit for leading me down this path of thinking. In the desert environment, as well as the other very low humidity environments, the daily temperature change can be extreme. What this tells us is that despite the extreme daytime high temperature, the amount of heat stored in the atmosphere is rather minuscule.
    Is there a mechanism to calculate the Joules of energy (heat) transported by the thunderstorms rather than simply measuring the average kinetic energy of the particles (temperature) in the atmosphere or ocean?
    The “eyeball” and SWAG would tell us that the far greater TS heights in the PWP zone are transporting tremendous amounts of heat to space.
    I recognize it would require humidity data to overlay with the temperature.

    • Most of the energy is actually being transferred to higher latitudes where the air descends and creates high pressure cells where it then radiates energy into space — the horse latitudes. Much of the region of the horse latitudes actually radiate more energy into space than they receive directly from the sun.

    • This is one reason I seriously question models based solely upon temperature input. Trying to come up with a global temperature that describes global warming (heat) means you are making the assumption that humidity doesn’t matter and/or is the same everywhere on the globe.

    • Even IPCC admits that more heat is removed from the surface by convection than by IR radiation. But they don’t exactly dwell on it since climate models can’t handle convection realistically.

    • The vertical convection of heat is what keeps my doubts high about climate models. The models deal with temperature, not heat content. Convective heat transfer will occur at all latitudes not just the tropics. Otherwise, how does precipitation occur?

      • PRDJ May 9, 2018 at 12:55 pm

        The vertical convection of heat is what keeps my doubts high about climate models. The models deal with temperature, not heat content. Convective heat transfer will occur at all latitudes not just the tropics. Otherwise, how does precipitation occur?

        Thanks, PRDJ. Much as I distrust the model, your objection simply isn’t true. The models absolutely do deal with heat content. Scientists may be wrong but they are rarely imbeciles …
        w.

  21. Good post. I can see why the GCMs do not directly simulate clouds, as the effect looks large enough to overwhelm any effect from CO2.

  22. The same clouds which have a cooling affect during the day will have a warming affect during the night. Any idea what the difference is, and whether it’s a net cooling or warming?

    • If I remember correctly, the tropical pattern has ferocious afternoon thunderstorms followed by clear skies by 9PM almost every night. These clouds don’t stick around to prevent heat loss to space at night.

  23. Very well done, Willis. A possible next step might be to connect your work to Lindzen’s adaptive infrared iris (BAMS 2001 IIRC). Judith Curry and I did back to back posts on it at Climate Etc. when it was added to a climate model and reduced sensitivity by about half. Judith even interviewed Lindzen to get his back story on how his hypothesis played out in the climate wars.
    The adaptive infrared iris is an indirect consequence of tropical thunderstorms, working via regulation of high cirrus. More tstorms => more rainout => less high altitude moisture => less cirrus => more cooling, since high thin cirrus being made of ice is transparent to sunlight but opaque to IR, reflecting IR rather than letting it escape to space. Cirrus warms.

  24. These CERES cloud datasets have provided the first clear evidence supporting my hypothesis that tropical thunderstorms are critical parts of the global thermoregulatory system, not in a general sense, but in a clear, step-by-step, month after month sense.
    That’s a really good way to put it, as it’s always developing one way or the other.
    Nino34 develops one way or another as the sun’s energy output changes over time.
    It’s not just what happens at the surface with evaporation that regulates equatorial Nino34 temperature.
    The sub-surface ongoing solar energy absorption that varies with changing daily TSI is the major influence over time on Nino34, making cloud generation yes a critical part, but secondary part of thermoregulation.
    Nino34 temperature regularly changes under the influence of variable solar energy absorption from changing daily 1au TSI:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/bmsobrn1y2hymtx/CDAS%20Nino%2034%20vs%20SSA%20%26%20TSI.JPG?dl=0
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/ef9kesojnrs2h36/CDAS%20Nino34-TSI%20early%202017.JPG?dl=0
    Today’s 90 day TSI trend is +0.0007, whereas the 2017 annual trend was -0.0002, so TSI has recently hit at least a local minimum in time, and is now slightly climbing, driving the Nino34 anomaly upwards with it.
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/mly5ujuc4gunmnv/CDAS%20Nino34-TSI%20early%202018.JPG?dl=0

  25. Willis: I find your articles on cloud cover etc. fascinating as it all seems to fit in with my own views on the way the global temperature is controlled.
    To me it is water that provides the basic thermostat. That is my hypothesis.
    This is based on the following facts as I perceive them:
    The mean global temperature is determined by
    The solar position of the earth and consequent insOlation plus volcanic activity.
    Earth’s gravity.
    The vapour pressure of water and its relationship with temperature.
    The high Latent Heats of evaporation and fusion.
    The molecular weight of gaseous water wrt dry air.
    An ancillary factor being the water concentration and thus partial pressure at the local water/air interface.
    If you make the incorrect assumption that items 1 to 5 are all constant; then one can say that the temperature will be constant. However as there are variations this would account for a natural hunting around this mean value. A value which as you rightly point out has been remarkably constant over millions of years.
    However none of this explains why until the actual mechanism and behaviour of water is considered in detail from an enthalpy viewpoint, with matters of radiation being merely part of the process, where here matters of the Albedo and emissivity of water come into play.
    To this end the thermodynamics of the Rankine Cycle serves well and I suggest provides the explanation based on the simple observation that my kettle boils faster when I turn the heat up but the temperature remains constant. This being a very specific case relating to the factors above. Namely at sea level.
    The conclusion being that within bounds, where water is concerned changes in heat input do NOT affect the temperature, providing the pressure remains constant.
    If you now take the view that the Hydrocycle is in fact a Rankine Cycle then a great deal falls into place.
    ( briefly: Surface evaporation = The boiler. Rising against gravity = The piston. Dissipation of heat = The condenser. Precipitation = The feed pump. Enthalpy receipt on falling = The feed heater.)
    Add to this that the steam tables tell us that for every Kilogram of water evaporated from the surface some 680 WattHrs. are dissipated into the atmosphere and/or space and one can get a handle on the powerful nature of this controlling mechanism when compared with the minor changes taking place in the heat inputs.
    Calculations on what is actually happening at various locations in a cloud are quite possible and it can be established whether evaporation or condensation is taking place and the Constant temperature at which this happens bearing in mind that the top of a cloud will behave very differently from the bottom. And I suspect here that the height of the clouds is a function of the initial temperature at the surface evaporation stage which determines the rate at which this takes place and hence the height at which the latent energy gets depleted.
    All this taking place at very low pressures and temperatures with the balance dictated by the respective values of the Vapour and Partial pressures involved.
    What I find fascinating about your meticulous observations on a global basis of the cloud behaviours is that it appears to support the hypothesis I have in my mind. I all seems to fit; but, of course needs a great deal more consideration before reaching any conclusions.
    A good idea if I now read your article in greater detail!
    I would welcome any comments.
    My regards
    Alasdair

  26. But still, you’re only paying attention to just one observable effect of a much larger overarching mechanism that acts as the thermoregulator on this planet and all other planets with atmospheres — convection.

    • Not that your work isn’t providing an excellent display of the mechanism at work.

  27. @ATheoK- Typical trollop response:
    *Not nice Theo- trollop, a woman perceived as sexually disreputable or promiscuous.
    I’m a male, and a typical trollop response to me has always been, “500 baht for short time.”
    I’m really sorry your response has been as you’ve stated. You need to find better trollops.
    Sandy, Minister of Future

    • @ATheoK said- A) Respond with an ad hominem to demean the commenter.
      My response to your first comment, ‘you need a refresher course in trolling 101 hahaha.’ is hardly an attack with your obnoxious, confrontational style of interaction, eg ‘1. Then you, Sandy, demand futuristic Earth cooling explanations for unnamed mechanisms…’
      It was a subtle attempt to suggest you not act like a troll. Obviously i failed, heh.
      Sandy, Minister of Future

  28. Over the 20th Century, for example, the temperature changed by a trivially small ±0.3°C. Since the average temperature of the planet is on the order of 287K, this means that the global temperature varied only about a tenth of one percent in a hundred years … that that is amazingly stable.

    Interesting post Willis. You’re quote above compares the 20th century change in earth’s surface temperature against the absolute temperature scale (K), which, as you correctly state, is very small (though I get 0.6 – 0.7C from the published data, not 0.3C). However, I would say that the Kelvin scale is hardly a useful metric for this task. A change in human body temperature barely noticeable on the Kelvin scale might nevertheless be more than sufficient to put a person in hospital!
    From what I read, global surface temperatures throughout the Holocene (the past ~10,000 years) have scarcely varied much +/- 0.5K from the mid 20th century average. See this chart, for instance:
    https://s31.postimg.cc/lt8pbika3/Holocene_Temperature_Variations.png
    This suggests that a change in excess of +/- 0.5K relative to mid 20th century average global surface temperatures may well be of some significance, despite it’s smallness on the absolute temperature scale.
    The change in global surface temperatures since the mid 20th century now stands at about 0.9K (average linear change reported by GISS, HadCRUT and NCDC), which is substantially larger than any change seen in the averaged palaeo-data over the past 10,000 years. Clouds may well have acted to dampen warming since the mid 20th century, but it seems they have not been completely successful.

    • DWR54 May 9, 2018 at 8:50 am

      Interesting post Willis. You’re quote above compares the 20th century change in earth’s surface temperature against the absolute temperature scale (K), which, as you correctly state, is very small (though I get 0.6 – 0.7C from the published data, not 0.3C). However, I would say that the Kelvin scale is hardly a useful metric for this task.

      First, 0.6C is ± 0.3C.
      Second, the climate is a giant heat engine. It converts solar energy into work. To analyze such a system, you cannot work in °F or °C. You have to work in Kelvin.
      Best regards,
      w.

      • Thanks Willis.
        Would you say though that using the absolute temperature scale, which ranges between 0- 288K, to assess the impact of variations on a system that rarely fluctuated by +/- 0.5K over 10,000 years was proportionate?
        Also, your comment doesn’t really address the question of the observed 0.9K increase in temperature reported since the mid 20th century. This is far removed from the normal Holocene departure from average. Does your cloud theory account for this? Thanks.

      • …which ranges between 0- 288K…

        With 288K being the upper limit of current global surface temperatures, I should have said.

      • DWR54 May 9, 2018 at 12:09 pm

        Thanks Willis.
        Would you say though that using the absolute temperature scale, which ranges between 0- 288K, to assess the impact of variations on a system that rarely fluctuated by +/- 0.5K over 10,000 years was proportionate?

        Thanks, DW. The climate is a huge heat engine, which converts heat to work. As Bejan pointed out in Constructal and Climate:

        See, for example, p. 111 in (Bejan, 1984). . .the convection loop is equivalent to the cycle executed by the working fluid in a heat engine. In principle, this heat engine cycle should be capable of delivering useful work if we insert a propeller in the stream: this is the origin of ‘wind power’ discussed nowadays in connection with the harnessing of solar work indirectly from the atmospheric heat engine loop. In the absence of work-collecting devices, the heat engine cycle drives its working fluid fast enough so that its entire work output potential is dissipated by friction in the brake at the interface between what moves and what does not move’.

        When you analyze the stability of a heat engine, you can’t use °C or °F …

        Also, your comment doesn’t really address the question of the observed 0.9K increase in temperature reported since the mid 20th century. This is far removed from the normal Holocene departure from average. Does your cloud theory account for this? Thanks.

        We have no idea what happened during the Holocene to this level of detail. Heck, we have maybe a dozen Holocene reconstructions that vary by more than that. In addition, just about all proxies going back that far have some level of integration, change their relationship with temperature over time, are often only sampled at 50-year or more intervals, and have uncertain temporal accuracy.
        In short, we cannot say with any certainty what happened in the Holocene.
        Next, the recent warming is not unusual even in the historical record, viz:
        https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/hadcrut4-two-panel-test.png
        As to what causes slow drift in the thermally regulated climate, see my post below.
        Best regards,
        w.
        Slow Drift in Thermoregulated Emergent Systems 2013-02-08
        In my last post, “Emergent Climate Phenomena“, I gave a different paradigm for the climate. The current paradigm is that climate is a system in which temperature slavishly follows the changes in inputs. Under my paradigm, on the other hand, natural thermoregulatory systems constrain the temperature to vary within a…

      • Thanks again Wills,
        I should make it clear that I don’t dispute your observation regarding the use of the Kelvin scale in thermal engineering. Indeed it wasn’t your use of the Kelvin scale that I was questioning; rather it was your observation that the change in global surface temperature over the course of the 20th century amounted to variation of “only about a tenth of one percent” on the Kelvin scale of absolute temperatures.
        Whilst that is technically true, it tends to downplay the potential significance of that change. Returning to the body temperature analogy, if this increases from my normal 98.5F to 100.5F, then on the Kelvin scale it has varied by a mere 0.3%. Whilst that may give me a pshycological boost, it’s unlikely to make me feel any better physically.
        Regarding your HadCRUT charts that appear to show similar rates of increase for two 48 year periods, 1895-1943 and 1957-2005, in fact the early period’s rate of increase is 0.8C/dec, whereas in the latter period the rate of increase is 0.12C/dec; about 1/3 higher. The difference is more apparent once trend lines are added (chart below).
        https://s31.postimg.cc/whm3lk5hn/Had_CRUT4_for_willis.png
        If we consider the period since the mid 20th century to the present, over 66 years in total, the trend of 0.12C/dec in HadCRUT4 continues. Does your cloud theory allow for such an extended period of sustained warming, or would you have expected that natural cloud activity would have intervened to dampen it before now? (Perhaps it has?)
        Keep up the interesting posts.

      • DWR54 May 10, 2018 at 1:14 am Edit

        Thanks again Wills,
        I should make it clear that I don’t dispute your observation regarding the use of the Kelvin scale in thermal engineering. Indeed it wasn’t your use of the Kelvin scale that I was questioning; rather it was your observation that the change in global surface temperature over the course of the 20th century amounted to variation of “only about a tenth of one percent” on the Kelvin scale of absolute temperatures.
        Whilst that is technically true, it tends to downplay the potential significance of that change. Returning to the body temperature analogy, if this increases from my normal 98.5F to 100.5F, then on the Kelvin scale it has varied by a mere 0.3%. Whilst that may give me a psychological boost, it’s unlikely to make me feel any better physically.

        Thanks, DW. I see I’m not making myself clear, so let me try again.
        The issue is not whether temperature change X will be significant to humans. I make no judgment on that. Instead, the issue is, why is the temperature of the planet so stable?
        Your example is perhaps unwittingly very revealing because as you point out, a corresponding change in human body temperature is a big issue … and you know why that is?
        It is precisely because the temperature of the human body is thermally regulated … and me, I think the same is true about the planet. Human bodies, and our planet whose temperature is dependent on the vagaries of winds and clouds, don’t stay that remarkably stable under varying loads through luck or happenstance. Instead, both of them have strong thermoregulatory systems that keep them from varying much.
        All the best,
        w.

    • During interglacials, temperature varies by ~3.0 degrees C, ie +/- 1.5 degrees C, or more in hotter ones like the Eemian.
      During the longer-lasting glacials, the range is much greater.
      But our current Icehouse interval isn’t typical of most of the Phanerozoic Eon. Comparable episodes occurred during the Ordovician and Silurian Periods, and again during the Carboniferous and Permian. The latter glaciation endured much longer than has the Cenozoic Icehouse so far, which started about 34 Ma, with the buildup of ice sheets on Antarctica, then spread to the NH about 2.6 Ma.
      Earth’s climate is indeed homeostatic, but can switch rapidly between Hothouse and Icehouse modes, in terms of geologic time. There should have been a Mesozoic Icehouse, but it was stillborn, given the general heat of the era and arrangement of continents. A Jurassic-Cretaceous cold snap did however encourage the development of feathers among dinosaurs.

      • How did a Jurassic-Cretaceous cold snap encourage the development of feathers among dinosaurs, exactly? I can understand that better insulated dinosaurs would indeed tend to survive better, but where did the information necessary to build feathers (a very complex structure) come from in the first place?

    • “Clouds may well have acted to dampen warming since the mid 20th century, but it seems they have not been completely successful.”
      I’m not surprised as warming requires a reduction in cloud cover, especially tropical low cloud.

  29. Willis -Excellent post. I’m surprised you did not calculate the actual correlation in figure 4, 5, 6 . My Mark II eyeball says its about.95, so obvious that it doesn’t need to be calculated. It would be good to see the formal correlation results with confidence level.
    Interesting in figure 7, the albedo doesn’t respond the same in 2003 and 2015. Almost anticorrelated. There clearly are some other factors involved.

  30. Willis,
    You present a well told, intriguing tale of personal and professional enlightenment that leads to defining the primary convective and radiative heat transfer mechanisms modulating the equatorial pacific region. The intuitive reference frame shifts between a sun-based perspective of ‘cloudy’ planet Earth versus the on-the-beach view of daily thunderstorm development is one of those pattern-recognition-leaps that is unique to an observant and inductive/deductive mind.
    This is exceptional work – a master piece of direct observation leading to insight, analyses, and revelation. Well Done!

  31. Albedo also has a controlling and stabilising effect on ice age temperatures.
    My paper on ice ages theorised that surface albedo controlls interglacial warming. More specifically the lowering albedo caused by ice sheets melting, was the primary feedback system that aided interglacial warming. While CO2 did not a lot.
    This may explain the remarkably similar temperatures achieved in every interglacial. When ice sheets retreat to the very far north, there are no further significant albedo changes to warm the climate further. (Interglacials are never triggered by southern hemisphere warming, presumably because of the lack of continents and continental ice sheets there).
    See: Modulation of Ice Ages by Dust and Albedo
    P.S.
    The differential warming in each hemisphere caused by precession can be seen in Willis’ other recent post, where the southern hemisphere is receiving greater summer insolation than the north. (See image below). Unless Willis has any other explanation, this difference is caused by precession favouring the southern hemisphere at present (the red plot-line). This is what I call a Great Winter (from a northerner’s perspective). The Great Years are much the same as normal years, except they last about 21,500 years, but climatically they are much the same, rotating through Great Springs, Summers, Autumns, and Winters.
    However…
    Like normal seasons, the precessional Great Seasons do not alter the total insolation incident with the Earth, they merely redistribute it. A Great (northern) Summer puts much more insolation into the northern polar regions, and much less into the south. And vice versa. Another complication is that in eras of low eccentricity, as now, there is only a small variation between Great Summer and Winter. Think of this eccentricity-difference as spring tides and neap tides – but this is a tidal system with a cycle of 400,000 years.
    The other orbital cycle is obliquity, which has a 41,000 year cycle. This has a different result to precession, because eras of high obliquity take insolation from the equator and redistribute it equally to both poles.
    Ralph
    https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/ceres-nh-and-sh-toa-solar-radiation.png

  32. This was a joy to read. Willis has earned and achieved a mastery of the topic and a vindication of his intuition. It is such a great reminder that science can be a vibrant human endeavor, as opposed to the dominant dry, obtuse drudgery that masquerades so often as science. Also, sitting on a log to learn from a master beats the blind being led about by the blind on a campus run by poseurs.

  33. @tty- Thanks. 1. So the slow change in insolation above 65dg changes the set point target for regulation.
    2. An as for “a rapid decline to little ice age of 12 degrees C” there hasn’t been any. The decline from MWP to LIA was on the order of 1 degree grobally. Just what are you thinking of?
    *The 12 is wrong. I had been looking at the German govt record from1760 to 2010 and the Dalton Min had several years with 2 dgC drops. The average was a drop from 7.5 C to
    about 7.25 for 17 yrs.
    So the rapid decline into a solar minimum cold spell is a rapid temporary change to the set point?
    Sandy, Minister of Future

    • Germany uses absolute temperatures rather than anomalies in its reconstruction:
      https://www.dwd.de/DE/klimaumwelt/klimaatlas/klimaatlas_node.html
      Couldn’t find data going back to the Seven Years’ War (or World War of the 18th Century, in which Prussia, Britain, Portugal, Hanover, three other small German states and the Iroquois Confederacy beat France, the Holy Roman Empire, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the Mughal Empire, Bengal Sultanate and Abenaki Confederacy), however, only since the Second Reich.

      • Felix and Willis – here is name of chart …
        Temperaturreihe_Deutschland,_Jahr,_30-10.
        Not sure extension .jpg, . png etc.
        Sandy, Minister of Future

  34. Great post.
    A tiny nit: dust devils don’t move heat; they’re just the visible fingerprints of the rising masses of air that are actually transporting the heat — but that’s obviously what you meant. However is more analysis necessary to demonstrate what percentage of that heat makes it above the boundary layer and into the troposphere?

    • Thanks, Ted. Actually dust devils do move heat. What makes you think they don’t? And no, they are not simply “fingerprints of the rising masses of air”. Air masses are rising (and sinking) all the time without dust devils being involved.
      See below for a further discussion.
      w.
      Dust In My Eyes 2014-02-13
      I was thinking about “dust devils”, the little whirlwinds of dust that you see on a hot day, and they reminded me that we get dulled by familiarity with the wonders of our planet. Suppose, for example, you that “back in the olden days” your family lived for generations in…

  35. Thank you for another fine essay.
    About watching the clouds form in Fiji, I first noticed the regularity of cloud buildups in the Philippines and Taiwan, then later in mid-Missouri. I wonder if your posts only make sense to people who have systematically watched the phenomenon day after day in some place and season. An obvious question is: As long as the water is there (e.g. early summer in mid-America; tropical islands), won’t cloud cover of 65% (50%, 75%, etc) occur earlier in hotter mornings than cooler mornings? And if so, Isn’t that an obvious if seldom measured negative cloud feedback? You have systematically supplied a lot of information toward good answers to the questions.

    • Dr. Spencer says there’s nothing original about Willis’ observations and analysis of CERES data, and that had he reviewed the literature, he could have avoided reinventing the wheel.
      http://www.drroyspencer.com/2013/10/citizen-scientist-willis-and-the-cloud-radiative-effect/
      His response to Willis’ conclusions might be outdated by now, however. I haven’t followed the controversy, if that’s the right word.
      In any case, such cloud and other feedbacks operate on the time scale of weather. They can’t account for climate change, unless the averages of cloud and other “emergent” phenomena changes on the scales of decades, centuries, millennia and longer time intervals. Which well might be the case. The tropic and temperate zones get squeezed geographically during glacial phases.

      • Felix:
        You make two points and I write to refute each of them.
        Firstly, you say,
        “Dr. Spencer says there’s nothing original about Willis’ observations and analysis of CERES data, and that had he reviewed the literature, he could have avoided reinventing the wheel.”
        Roy Spencer is mistaken about this
        Some years ago he asserted that the mechanism postulated by Willis is the same as the hypothesis of Ramanathan and Collins (R&C) which they published in Nature in 1991. He refused to agree when I tried to explain to him that there is significant difference between the works of R&C and Willis Eschenbach; i.e.
        (a) in their 1991 paper R&C postulated that cloud cover associated with thunderstorms provides the observed limit to maximum sea surface temperature in the tropical warm pool,
        and
        (b) Willis Eschenbach provides an hypothesis of the mechanism by which thunderstorms in the tropical warm pool react to temperature such that cloud cover acts as a negative feedback on sea surface temperature changes with the resulting phenomenon of the observed limit to maximum sea surface temperature,
        Secondly, you also assert,
        “In any case, such cloud and other feedbacks operate on the time scale of weather. They can’t account for climate change, unless the averages of cloud and other “emergent” phenomena changes on the scales of decades, centuries, millennia and longer time intervals. Which well might be the case. The tropic and temperate zones get squeezed geographically during glacial phases.”
        No. Your assertions are wrong.
        Willis is considering data obtained from the present climate state and what may – or may not – happen in other climate “phases” is not relevant to his analysis of climate behaviour in the “phase” which now wxists..
        Climate is average weather by definition
        (see the IPCC Glossary https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/srex/SREX-Annex_Glossary.pdf ) .
        A change to the behaviour of weather phenomena alters the average weather; i.e. it changes climate.
        Richard

      • richardscourtney May 10, 2018 at 7:16 am

        Felix:
        You make two points and I write to refute each of them.
        Firstly, you say,

        “Dr. Spencer says there’s nothing original about Willis’ observations and analysis of CERES data, and that had he reviewed the literature, he could have avoided reinventing the wheel.”

        Roy Spencer is mistaken about this
        Some years ago he asserted that the mechanism postulated by Willis is the same as the hypothesis of Ramanathan and Collins (R&C) which they published in Nature in 1991. He refused to agree when I tried to explain to him that there is significant difference between the works of R&C and Willis Eschenbach; i.e.
        (a) in their 1991 paper R&C postulated that cloud cover associated with thunderstorms provides the observed limit to maximum sea surface temperature in the tropical warm pool,
        and
        (b) Willis Eschenbach provides a hypothesis of the mechanism by which thunderstorms in the tropical warm pool react to temperature such that cloud cover acts as a negative feedback on sea surface temperature changes with the resulting phenomenon of the observed limit to maximum sea surface temperature,

        Thanks, Richard. For those wondering what this is about, some five years ago Dr. Spencer, for whom I have the highest respect, went seriously off the rails when he accused me of not acknowledging Dr. Ramanathan. I pointed out to him that Dr. Ramanathan’s work was very different from mine, and I pointed out that when I discussed the area of Dr. Ramanthan’s work, I gave him full credit.
        The whole story is described in my post linked to below. Sadly, the story continues to have credibility, in part because Dr. Spencer has never admitted that he was wrong … but he’s still one of my scientific heroes despite that, everyone makes mistakes.
        Anyhow, Richard, I’m glad to find out that you tried to convince him he was wrong, I was unaware of that.
        Best regards to all,
        w.
        Dr. Roy Spencer’s Ill Considered Comments on Citizen Science 2013-10-09
        Over at Roy Spencer’s usually excellent blog, Roy has published what could be called a hatchet job on “citizen climate scientists” in general and me in particular. Now, Dr. Roy has long been a hero of mine, because of all his excellent scientific work … which is why his attack…

  36. Very nice data, and an excellent article!
    It’s been my view for a while that CO2 is effectively bypassed in the air column by the water cycle, and this confirms it. Warmth at the surface evaporates more water, converting the actual heat to latent heat of evaporation. The gaseous H2O then diffuses to the troposphere via Willis’ thunderstorms, condenses and re-releases the heat in the form of IR – which is radiated to space above about three quarters of the GHGs. So ECS is much lower than classic physical chemistry suggests it should be, because most of the CO2 never sees the IR, which is hidden in latent heat being physically transported to the top of the atmosphere.
    I’m also interested by the very large W/m2 forcing anomaly data below Willis’ first graphic. It shows just how powerful cloud cover is in modulating energy flows. Only a small change in cloud cover therefore would have a large impact on global temperature.
    Which is what we’ve been saying all along.

  37. “Jupiter is blazing in the night sky, what a wonderful world we inhabit.”
    ==============
    Just set up my 20-60X spotting scope on the tripod, it is easy to see 3 of the moons near the 1-2 o’clock position, fun.

  38. The correlations presented are as expected but they do not offer any relevance to global temperature stability.
    To have temperature regulation there must be a balance of heat in and heat out. This does not occur over any portion of a tropical ocean. All tropical oceans absorb more heat then they lose, year round. This image shows the net TOA radiation:
    https://neo.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/view.php?datasetId=CERES_NETFLUX_M&year=2017
    Note that all tropical oceans are net heat absorbers.
    Hence the thermostatic control works on a much wider geographical scale than just cloud cover of tropical oceans.
    Heat absorbed in the tropics is transported through air and ocean circulations to higher latitudes where the oceans have net heat loss. Since the Southern Ocean Circulation began, following the opening of Drakes passage, the higher heat absorption of the Pacific has been redistributed into the Atlantic. That heat is transported through thermocline circulation. Hence sea ice growth and retreat plays an important role in the global heat distribution and the thermostatic control of surface temperature.
    I speculate that the formation of sea ice at 271.2K is the basis of the prime thermostatic control of global temperature. The formation of ice in the atmosphere at 273C is likely a significant factor as well but that is more a local affect rather than the fine temperature control across the planet.
    CERES data also confirms that loss of sea ice is a negative feedback with reduced ice cover increasing heat loss – the so-called iris effect. Recall the increased loss of sea ice extent in Antarctica following the 2015/2016 El Nino. The high heat content in the Coral Sea was transported down the east coast of Australia and into the Southern Ocean where its unusually high level caused the iris to open a little wider than average.

  39. I am new to this and have not posted it here before. And this might have been well known but still not clear to me: the solar point of view in Fig-1 would be so for two short periods of a year, once in the Spring and once in the Fall depending on where you are NH/SH, when the earth’s equatorial plane cuts the sun. Is this correct?
    If you separate the analysis in Fig-1 into 12 monthly average figures, do they look very differently?
    This post is very interesting. Thanks!
    Newbee513

  40. I have a thought/question on cloud formation/direction of movement of emergent storm tracks such as thunderstorms and other ‘moving’ warm surface developments. This is a little OT and just something bouncing around my mind for the past several years so give a country boy a little slack in my vague presentation but beat me down if need be.
    Storm tracks in general seem to follow surface heating with all other atmospheric, wind and pressure things being equal. US hurricanes often track along the eastern US seaboard over the gulf stream if they approach from much north of Cuba. On land in the US Thunderstorm development which ‘appears’ on radar seems to move while may actually be a continuous development of the storm following the ground/surface heat. That’s the vague thought. Better description as follows. My focus is on the effect of the heated surface as the cloud bank begins to cover the surface.
    Anyway, is there an influence of the seemingly ‘doubling’ DWIR from the cloud added to the UWIR from the surface on a parcel of air? A vague explanation being that as the already developed storm cloud’s leading edge progresses over a previously sunny and hot ‘new’ surface would there be a period of time that the surface would be radiating from a hot surface (not yet cooled by clouds, convection, etc) while the overlapping cloud progression would be radiating downward creating an increased IR influence (from above and below) on the ‘air’ sandwiched in the leading edge of the cloud’s/storm’s progression/direction/movement as the surface emitted at a higher temp and the clouds horizontal progression heated it from above. Could this ‘super-heating’ of that air ‘pocket’ create increased uplift and energy into the leading edge of a storm and possibly cause the storm to move in that direction?
    Not to confuse/blend land based storms with the sea which I’m doing now but I have watched several hurricanes over the gulf stream that tend to slow their northward progression (Sandy was a good example) and stall as the gulf stream was moving faster than the storm and thus fed warm water into the backside of the storm thus ‘confusing’ the hurricane’s natural progression northward into trying to follow the surface heat coming from the south. Sandy’s eye did just that and left the storm to the south and collapsed. Several other hurricanes just stalled/slowed for days in their ‘confusion’ as well.
    If we are going to name hurricanes with human names and remember them like a porn queen, then I’m gonna give them the right to be ‘confused’ in a descriptive sense and not lose any sleep. 😉

    • Nice idea re “superheating” of leading edge of a storm over land! Solar heating of land mid-day in the lower latitudes is huge (consider desert or blacktop temperatures)! As the Stefan-Boltzmann law says total emission varies as the 4th-power of absolute temperature, the surface emission is huge! Only a portion (roughly 32%) of this is absorbed by greenhouse gases CO2 and water vapor, with the other 68% escaping as IR photons to outer space on a clear day (see MODTRAN spectrum available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiative_forcing ). If suddenly covered by clouds, which are made up of liquid droplets with emissivity approx. 0.98, nearly 100% of the IR photons emitted by the Earth’s surface will be absorbed. This will be followed by nearly 100% emission (in accord with Kirchhoff’s law that a good absorber is a good emitter), but some of the absorbed energy will be transferred by collision to the main molecules of the air, N2 and O2, which cannot and do not re-emit any significant amount of IR (the molecules have zero electric dipole moment). So for a short period of time, until the ground cools off due to blockage of the solar radiation, the air sandwiched between surface and cloud bottom might actually warm up more than on a clear day. Warm air expands, decreasing its density. A rotating Earth acts as a centrifuge, driving less dense material towards the poles (just as cream floats to the top of skim milk, in the opposite direction to gravity). The Coriolis force appears to deflect moving air parcels in the Northern Hemisphere to the right, explaining the path of tornadoes in the flat plains of Kansas, and hurricanes over land, as well as the Gulf Stream. Because of the high heat capacity of water, and the fact that it moves (unlike land), perhaps the extreme temperature rise is not as large for air over hot spots in the oceans, explaining any stalling of hurricanes whose motion in the centrifuge depends on DIFFERENCES in density.

      • rogertaguchi ——-> thanks for the reply.
        The surface radiated IR hitting the cloud bottom would (I assume) warm that creating additional lift on the leading edge. Rinse and repeat. Is it significant?
        Could the introduction of warm H20 entering a hurricane from ‘behind’ have an effect of slowing it down?

  41. Allan MacRae May 9, 2018 at 3:57 am

    What drives Equatorial Pacific Sea Surface Temperature? In sub-decadal timeframes, El Nino and La Nina (ENSO); longer term, probably the Integral of Solar Activity.

    I’ve said a number of times that using the integral is less than meaningful. I’ll go over it again.
    First, an integral can take any slope, depending on what you take as your zero point. Here are three integrals of the sunspot data which differ ONLY in the value chosen as the zero point.
    https://i0.wp.com/wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/sunspot-integrals1.png
    Pick a trend, and you can fit the sunspot integral to that trend
    Second, integrals are very sensitive to their starting point. If you start when the variable is at a high value compared to your chosen zero point, the resulting curve will look totally different than if you start it at a low value compared to your zero point.
    As a result, by a judicious choice of zero point and starting point you can fit a sunspot integral to lots of natural datasets … but that doesn’t mean a relationship actually exists.
    Regards,
    w.

    • Just saw this post, thank you Willis.
      Don’t all three of your curves have the same starting point? Hard to tell without seeing the math. Looks to me like you are scaling them differently, but I do not understand what you are saying in this post.
      In any case, I am open to better interpretations of what drives long-term Earth temperature – over centuries, not necessarily many thousands of years. Physically, the integral of solar activity makes sense, moderated by the PDO and AMO multi-decadal cycles. If not the Sun, then what? Proving it is another matter though.
      As I stated above, I think we understand the sub-decadal ENSO cycle reasonably well.

      • Allan MacRae May 13, 2018 at 9:47 am

        Just saw this post, thank you Willis.
        Don’t all three of your curves have the same starting point? Hard to tell without seeing the math. Looks to me like you are scaling them differently, but I do not understand what you are saying in this post.

        Hi, Allan. An integral of digital data is a cumulative sum. If we use raw sunspot numbers, they are all positive values, and some are fairly large. As a result, the integral will go almost vertical. Hang on … ok, here’s what that looks like …
        https://i1.wp.com/wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/cumsum-monthly-sunspots.png
        Totally uninformative.Now, if we choose a different zero point (convert the sunspot number to an anomaly around some given number) we get curves like I showed above:
        https://i0.wp.com/wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/sunspot-integrals1.png
        Actually, the title on that one is incorrect, it’s the integral (cumulative sum) from 1900 on. The middle one is an anomaly around the mean. As such, it starts and ends at zero. The other two use anomalies around numbers a bit below (top curve) and a bit above (bottom curve) the mean.
        If this is not clear, please ask again.
        w.

  42. Couldn’t the cloud characteristics (top height, albedo etc) be a CONSEQUENCE of the temperature of the ocean rather than a CAUSE as implied here?

  43. “So I started my climate science investigations by looking for some kind of long-term mechanism that would keep the temperature stable. I read about the slow weathering of the mountains that constrains the CO2 levels.”
    That would be O2 levels.
    CO2 is controled by the deposition of limestone on the sea bed and the deposition of fossil fuels.

    • Tim Grindley May 10, 2018 at 11:29 pm

      “So I started my climate science investigations by looking for some kind of long-term mechanism that would keep the temperature stable. I read about the slow weathering of the mountains that constrains the CO2 levels.”

      That would be O2 levels.
      CO2 is controled by the deposition of limestone on the sea bed and the deposition of fossil fuels.

      I do love the certainty of some folks who have half of the story …

      Carbonate Rocks
      1. Carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere by dissolving in [rain] and forming carbonic acid
      CO2 + H2O -> H2CO3 (carbonic acid)
      2. Carbonic acid is used to weather rocks, yielding bicarbonate ions, other ions, and clays
      H2CO3 + H2O + silicate minerals -> HCO3- + cations (Ca++, Fe++, Na+, etc.) + clays
      3. Calcium carbonate is precipitated from calcium and bicarbonate ions in seawater by marine organisms like coral
      Ca++ + 2HCO3- -> CaCO3 + CO2 + H2O
      the carbon is now stored on the seafloor in layers of limestone

      SOURCE: Columbia University, The Carbon Cycle and the Earth’s Climate
      So yes, Tim, the slow weathering of the mountains does indeed modify the CO2 levels as I said … I spent years thinking about this, do you think I’m just making things up?
      w.

  44. Waves not only change the albedo, they also change the surface area – the more/bigger waves, the bigger the surface area.
    My naive assumption is, that waves would increase radiation from the ocean – but that is just an assumption…

  45. Hi Willis!
    Allan MacRae has sent me a link to an article by Ken Gregory (June 2011) on “Out-going Longwave Radiation and the Greenhouse Effect” at http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/OLR&NGF_June2011.pdf .The first Figure shows both calculated OLR and NOAA measured OLR values from 1960 to 2008, the first increasing by about 2 W/m^2 and the second by about 4 W/m^2. However, the statement “Man-made CO2 emissions have not suppressed the out-going radiation to space” is conceptually wrong.
    IMO the increase simply means that for energy balance, the amount of incoming visible radiation from the Sun that has been reflected back to space has decreased by the same amount in W/m^2. I.e. the albedo has decreased. The simplest explanation for this is that reflective cloud cover has decreased. Therefore this probably explains much of the temperature rise from 1960 to 1998 which was wrongly attributed to the increasing CO2 (with feedbacks) over the same time period. Of course, this is reinforced by the 20-year hiatus in global warming, even as CO2 has continued to increase since 1998. I have assumed that the Solar constant has not changed much in the same time period (for example, a 0.1% change in Solar constant would mean about 1.4 W/m^2 change to the circular cross-section of the Earth, or about 0.35 Wm^2 emission over the spherical surface).
    I apologize for taking your time, if someone else has already posted this obvious interpretation of the increase in measured and calculated OLR from 1960 to 2008.

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