Record Antarctic Stratospheric Warming Causes Sept. 2019 Global Temperature Update Confusion

From Dr. Roy Spencer’s Blog

October 4th, 2019 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

While the vast majority of our monthly global temperature updates are pretty routine, September 2019 is proving to be a unique exception. The bottom line is that there is nothing wrong with the UAH temperatures we originally reported. But what I discovered about last month is pretty unusual.

It all started when our global lower tropospheric (LT) temperature came in at an unexpectedly high +0.61 deg. C above the 1981-2010 average. I say “unexpected” because, as WeatherBell’s Joe Bastardi has pointed out, the global average surface temperature from NOAA’s CFS model had been running about 0.3 C above normal, and our numbers are usually not that different from that model product.

[By way of review, the three basic layers we compute average temperatures from the satellites are, in increasing altitude, the mid-troposphere (MT), tropopause region (TP), and lower stratosphere (LS). From these three deep layer temperatures, we compute the lower tropospheric (LT) product using a linear combination of the three main channels, LT = 1.548MT – 0.538TP +0.01LS.]

Yesterday, John Christy noticed that the Southern Hemisphere was unusually warm in our lower stratosphere (LS) temperature product, while the Northern Hemisphere was unusually cool. This led me to look at the tropical results for our mid-troposphere (MT) and ‘tropopause’ (TP) products, which in the tropics usually track each other. A scatterplot of them revealed September 2019 to be a clear outlier, that is, the TP temperature anomaly was too cool for the MT temperature anomaly.

So, John put a notice on his monthly global temperature update report, and I added a notice to the top of my monthly blog post, that we suspected maybe one of the two satellites we are currently using (NOAA-19 and Metop-B) had problems.

As it turns out, there were no problems with the data. Just an unusual regional weather event that produced an unusual global response.

Blame it on Antarctica

Some of you might have seen news reports several weeks ago that a strong stratospheric warming (SSW) event was expected to form over Antarctica, potentially impacting weather in Australia. These SSW events are more frequent over the Arctic, and occur in winter when (put very simply) winds in the stratosphere flow inward and force air within the cold circumpolar vortex to sink (that’s called subsidence). Since the stratosphere is statically stable (its temperature lapse rate is nearly isothermal), any sinking leads to a strong temperature increase. CIRES in Colorado has provided a nice description of the current SSW event, from which I copied this graphic showing the vertical profile of temperature normally (black like) compared to that for September (red line).

CIRES-SSW-event-vert-profile-550x413

By mass continuity, the air required for this large-scale subsidence must come from lower latitudes, and similarly, all sinking air over Antarctica must be matched by an equal mass of rising air, with temperatures falling. This is part of what is called the global Brewer-Dobson circulation in the stratosphere. (Note that because all of this occurs in a stable environment, it is not ‘convection’, but must be forced by dynamical processes).

As can be seen in this GFS model temperature field for today at the 30 mb level (about 22 km altitude) the SSW is still in play over Antarctica.

GFS model temperature departures from normal at about 22 km altitude in the region around Antarctica, 12 UTC 4 October 2019. Graphic from WeatherBell.com.

The following plot of both Arctic and Antarctic UAH LS temperature anomalies shows just how strong the September SSW event was, with a +13.7 deg. C anomaly averaged over the area poleward of 60 deg. S latitude. The LS product covers the layer from about 15 to 20 km altitude.

As mentioned above, when one of these warm events happens, there is cooling that occurs from the rising air at the same altitudes, even very far away. Because the Brewer-Dobson circulation connects the tropical stratosphere to the mid-latitudes and the poles, a change in one region is mirrored with opposite changes elsewhere.

As evidence of this, if I compute the month-to-month changes in lower stratospheric temperatures for a few different regions, I find the following correlations between regions (January 1979 through September 2019). These negative correlations are evidence of this see-saw effect in stratospheric temperature between different latitudes (and even hemispheres).

Tropics vs. Extratropics: -0.78

Arctic vs. S. Hemisphere: -0.70

Antarctic vs. N. Hemisphere: -0.50

N. Hemis. vs. S. Hemis.: -0.75

Because of the intense stratospheric warming over Antarctica, it caused an unusually large difference in the NH and SH anomalies, which raised a red flag for John Christy.

Next I can show that the SSW event extended to lower altitudes, influencing the TP channel which we use to compute the LT product. This is important because sinking and warming at the altitudes of the TP product (roughly 8-14 km altitude) can cause cooling at those same altitudes very far away. This appears to be why I noticed the tropics having the lowest-ever TP temperature anomaly for the MT anomaly in September, which raised a red flag for me.

In this plot of the difference between those two channels [TP-MT] over the Antarctic, we again see that September 2019 was a clear outlier.

Conceptually, that plot shows that the SSW subsidence warming extends down into altitudes normally considered to be the upper troposphere (consistent with the CIRES plot above). I am assuming that this led to unusual cooling in the tropical upper troposphere, leading to what I thought was anomalous data. It was indeed anomalous, but the reason wasn’t an instrument problem, it was from Mother Nature.

Finally, Danny Braswell ran our software, leaving out either NOAA-19 or Metop-B, to see if there was an unusual difference between the two satellites we combine together. The global LT anomaly using only NOAA-19 was +0.63 deg. C, while that using only Metop-B was +0.60 deg. C, which is pretty close. This essentially rules out an instrument problem for the unusually warm LT value in September, 2019.

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139 thoughts on “Record Antarctic Stratospheric Warming Causes Sept. 2019 Global Temperature Update Confusion

    • It’s quite awful. I’m not sure I will cope with this unprecedented warmth. I feel overwhelmed at 30.03C instead of the usual 30.00C, it’s true….

    • My house is 0.23 degrees warmer than this date last month, but the extra heat is all up near the ceiling.
      Somehow I did not notice until I got sensitive instrumentation to detect the change.

  1. What dynamic conditions caused the SSW, can this be forecast, or is it we don’t really know?

    • I am wondering what is the source of the energy?
      Obviously it is either the ocean or the Sun.
      If the Sun, it must mean that for some reason the Earth has not radiated away as much energy as it usually does.
      Why and how?

      • On the one hand, it might not take that much energy to get the process going.

        By mass continuity, the air required for this large-scale subsidence must come from lower latitudes, and similarly, all sinking air over Antarctica must be matched by an equal mass of rising air, with temperatures falling. This is part of what is called the global Brewer-Dobson circulation in the stratosphere. (Note that because all of this occurs in a stable environment, it is not ‘convection’, but must be forced by dynamical processes).

        On the other hand, you would think that all that hot air in the stratosphere would radiate like crazy and cool rapidly.

        • The stratosphere does have a strong cooling rate, but it is on average matched by solar heating of ozone.

          • It would seem logical that anomalous warmth in the upper levels would be more readily radiated away in subsequent months.
            Should we expect that a month from now we will see a lower number?
            Is this a new trend that will continue?
            Is it possible the October number might actually be below 0.38, for example?

          • How does that ozone shed energy if not by radiation – conduction? Regardless, it seems that energy shedding would go up with the energy state of the ozone and and convection becomes a factor in distributing that excess energy. This should also energize GHG’s which would radiate at least half the released energy harmlessly upward.

          • The graphs show that these SSW events are singular in nature, and not part of any kind of a trend. They are ‘spike’ events in a graph depicting relative stability.

            Over the Arctic, SSW’s are often associated with the polar vortex wandering to unusually low latitudes, like what happened last winter over Northern North America, and resulted in record cold temperatures for the state of Illinois, but unusually mild and uneventful weather over Florida. Similarly, Southern Hemisphere predictions are calling for unusually wet and cold weather in the coming months for high latitude Southern Hemisphere locations like Patagonia, but warm and dry weather for more northern regions like Australia. There is a 100% chance that the warm and dry weather in Australia will be reported as man-made global warming and that the actual reason for it (the SSW event) will be ignored by most.

            SSW’s happen almost every other year over the North Pole, but are much more rare over the South Pole, as the graph in Roy’s article shows.

            Another interesting side effect of the SSW over Antarctica will be a ‘healthier’ ozone layer this year, as it is the extreme cold temperatures of the Antarctic stratosphere that assist in ozone destruction. A more mild stratosphere means more ozone. I have little doubt that the Montreal Protocol will get the credit.

        • A very good point, which is why this obsession with averaging temperatures ( when temperature is not an extensive property of matter ) is flawed science.

          Maybe this event should be investigated as an example of when pretending that averaging temperatures is a metric to detect “radiative forcings” can lead you astray.

          With all this alleged rising and falling of air there will be large scale changes in entropy which get ignored.

  2. >> Some of you might have seen news reports several weeks ago that a strong stratospheric warming (SSW) event was expected to form over Antarctica, potentially impacting weather in Australia.

    That is very odd. As it is unusually COLD in NZ at this moment, has been during September.
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12265798

    Is it spring? Is it winter? Call it “sprinter”.

    After a burst of thunderstorms tracked across Northland and Auckland early this morning, packing more than 1300 lightning flashes, rain and cold is predicted for much of the North Island today.

    Cool conditions may also bring snow to low levels over the South Island, and could affect the highest North Island roads.

    Shouldn’t it be almost summer there?

    • Same in Oz. Our spring up north had been slow to start, and now it’s a bit chilly for me still. Roll on November for some really nice hot weather!

      • Same here in Southern Canada. It went from a brutal winter to a mild winter to a sudden summer in July. No spring, and only two months of real summer but always cool nights.
        People I know who always plant tomatoes had no great success this past ‘summer’. Only a few tomatoes ripened on the plants.
        Definite cooling.

        • Same here in the Okanogan 5 miles south of the border with Canada’s BC. Very few tomatoes and only one pepper on the Pablano bush. The Okanogan is a desert – this past summer was mild and then one day a couple weeks ago it was over and rain is greening everything. This is the kind of thing that sets us up our excess fuel load for wild fires which lends us the regional nickname of Smokanogan.

        • I remember when, in the frozen land of Nador winter changed into Spring. Spring changed into Summer. Summer changed back into Winter. And Winter gave Spring and Summer a miss and went straight on into Autumn.

      • the Bom said it had happened before and was expected to last about 2 months
        Aus hasnt seen much effect but NZ and sth america appear to have had the cold
        looking at nullschool is was odd seeing twin vortexes and at one stage the highest setting for winds and temps showed a small area was above the minus temps by around 3 or so C? cant remeber the exact number. but it didnt last for more than about 2 days?
        and Bom havent said a thing since they announced it either

      • Same here in South Carolina. High yesterday: 99. High today: 69. Straight from summer to winter.

        • In northern Washington State we had our first snow at the end of September followed by a frost that did not help the vegetable gardeners.

    • From the article:

      Some of you might have seen news reports several weeks ago that a strong stratospheric warming (SSW) event was expected to form over Antarctica, potentially impacting weather in Australia.

      But the author does not say exactly how the weather will be affected.
      Back to the article:

      By mass continuity, the air required for this large-scale subsidence must come from lower latitudes, and similarly, all sinking air over Antarctica must be matched by an equal mass of rising air, with temperatures falling.

      And again:

      As mentioned above, when one of these warm events happens, there is cooling that occurs from the rising air at the same altitudes, even very far away.

      So cooling it is.

    • Same in central Argentina. I previously commented about ice on palm trees. Newspapers here are saying the coldest winter in at least the last 15 years. Antarctica? Wow, it got up almost to freezing! For sure we should be cautious about anecdotal evidence, but there sure appears to be a disconnect between satellite temperatures and people commenting about ice on palm trees.

    • Don’t forget the snow in Sept in the lower Sth Is.
      Victoria University has just released a paper stating we have reached a tipping point with Artic and Antartic ice melt which would cause a global sea rise of 28 meters in the next 100 years.

      • Wow the best I’ve seen is the geological tide gauge at Hallett Cove in South Australia with 130M over 8000 years or an average of 16.25mm a year for 8 millenia so sounds like we’re definitely doomed. Time to max out the credit card and whoop it up. Not really interested in the guns ammo and baked beans with that amount of dooming.

      • John
        James Shaw will be pleased with that report, he only posts alarmist results on the Green Party website.
        Note that the greens are the only party supporting the reduction of voting age to 16, to capatalise on the emotive youth vote.

    • Or how about this one:
      “In Syowa, Antarctica, the mean monthly temperature for September 2019 was -19.3℃, which is 1.2℃ below the 1981-2010 mean of -18.1℃”

      That sounds more like abnormally cool to me. Or is there some link to abnormal heat in the stratosphere way above that surface?

      In Syowa, Antarctica, the mean monthly temperature for September 2019 was -19.3℃, which is 1.2℃ below the 1981-2010 mean of -18.1℃.There has been no warming trend since 1960 for Septemberhttps://t.co/jm9UP1HoExStandard value: https://t.co/Z1LJuLElhH#温暖化#ClimateChange pic.twitter.com/t0Cwp8dbJS— キリエ (@KiryeNet) October 4, 2019

      https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  3. So, was it or was it not related to global warming or climate change hypotheses? Geoff S

    • Two air masses swapped. Warm air moved into the stratosphere as cold stratospheric air fell to the surface.

    • It is an upwelling Rossby wave, advecting tropospheric winds vertically into the stratosphere. A rare event in the stratosphere, since warm tropospheric air cannot rise by convection into the stratosphere, it has to be pushed. That causes cold air (about -50C) in the stratospheric polar votex to be displaced downward and compressed (because pressure increases as air sinks). This causes the temperature of the sinking air to increase adiabatically to about -10C (40 degrees warmer but still very cold compared to surface temps.

      Yes, pressure is remains stable because this temperature change was induced by adiabatic advection, not convection, so potential temperature is conserved.

      Charney was the first to describe how this worked:
      “Stratospheric Rossby Waves”,
      http://www-eaps.mit.edu/~rap/courses/12831_notes/3.pdf [1961]
      (Figure 2 illustrates the vertical advection into the stratosphere)

        • Let me add my thanks, Johanus. That was a very clear explanation of what is going on.

          The next question is what causes the Rossby wave to behave in this manner since it is said to be a rare event.

          • The behavior of Rossby waves is influenced by the layout of the continents and presence of tall mountain ranges (“orography”). For example, the Rossby waves influenced by the Rocky Mountains and Himalayas are sometimes referred to as “mountain waves”. These influences tend to make the waves “more wavy”. All Rossby waves tend to have vertical motion within the troposphere, but only waves with the longest arms tend to penetrate into the stratosphere, weaken and disrupt the polar vortex and thus cause SSW.
            [Note: the mass media tend to be confused by this terminology, and usually refer to intruding Rossby waves as “polar vertexes”.
            https://atmos.uw.edu/~rcwills/papers/2018_Wills_Schneider_orographic.pdf

            Rossby waves in the Southern Hemisphere have much smaller amplitudes “less wavy”, so stratospheric instrusions are much rarer.

            The Southern Hemisphere (SH) polar vortex is much stronger than the Northern Hemisphere (NH) vortex due to the absence of large-scale waves – planetary waves – in the SH. Planetary waves disrupt the vortex producing a short period circulation reversal known as a Major Stratospheric Sudden Warming. Major sudden warmings occur about every other year during the NH winter, but, due to the lack of planetary wave activity, they are very rare in the SH winter.

            https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/polar-vortex

          • @me
            “…the mass media tend to be confused by this terminology, …”

            Part of the confusion stems from the fact that there are two polar vortexes at each pole: one in the mid-troposphere and one in the stratosphere (only appears in winter). These two vortexes are actually completely separated and normally do not interact with each other, except when the larger planetary Rossby waves manage to punch through and disrupt the stratospheric polar vortex.
            https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/BAMS-D-15-00212.1

            So, in fact the troughs of Rossby waves, are low pressure regions, which may contain the outer fringes of the troposphereic polar vortex pushing towards the equator, whereas the ridges are high pressure areas, containing mid-latitude weather elements pushing poleward. It is a completely normal weather phenomenon, and not something new created by “climate change”, (i.e. “extreme” instances of these Rossby events are more or less uniformly distributed in historical time)
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trough_(meteorology)

          • One more slight correction, then I am done:
            @me
            “the troughs of Rossby waves, are low pressure regions, which may contain the outer fringes of the tropospheric polar vortex pushing towards the equator, whereas the ridges are high pressure areas,”

            Actually, in the Southern Hemisphere, the planetary troughs and ridges are inverted. The “ridges” are low pressure areas pushing mid-latitude weather towards the S. Pole and the “troughs” are high-pressure areas pushing polar weather towards the equator. FYI, there is usually a permanent low-pressure “ridge” present off of the Ross Ice Shelf, analogous to the permanent low-pressure “trough” residing around Iceland.

            I have to put those terms in quotes, because it sounds strange for me to hear the words “low-pressure ridge” (even though on a map they look the similar inverted because they are pointed in the opposite direction pole-wise)

            You can see the Ross low-pressure “ridge” yourself here on Windy.com. To the left, the red area is a high-pressure “trough” pushing towards the equator. 😐
            https://www.windy.com/-Show-add-more-layers/overlays?gfs,pressure,2019-10-11-21,-73.628,-144.023,3,i:pressure

  4. I wd like to know how the sensors r calibrated and how they can withstand the xtreme radiation we currently get from the sun due to the lower solar polar magnetic fields.

    • They are calibrated every few seconds against an onboard platinum wire precision thermometer and against outer space (at 3 K).

  5. This sounds suspiciously like science, instead of Climate Scientology ™ .

    You found an unexpected result, and checked the data. In Scientology, you reject the data or adjust it if it doesn’t match your pre-conceived opinions. You’re not doing it right…

    • Notice the first thing he did was check it against a model.
      That’s because UAH is ALSO A MODEL of temperature and not an observation of temperature.
      what is observed is microwave radiation. This is converted to “temperature”

      • This is true, but then an actual physical mercury or spirit thermometer is just a model. It needs to be calibrated.

        It’s just a well-proven model. You know, one that works consistently…

      • What I noticed was that they double checked the Two instruments (not a single tree) against each other to confirm both gave similar values. So they did a triple check then came up with a theory for discussion. Seems like good science to me, as opposed to blind defence of all they hold dear.

        • they double checked the Two instruments (not a single tree) against each other

          I see what you did there…

          as opposed to blind defence of all they hold dear.

          … and there… 😉

      • “This [microwave readings] is converted to “temperature”

        The movement of mercury in a glass thermometer is also converted to “temperature”. What’s the difference? Both the UAH satellites and a mercury thermometer measure something and then turn it into a temperature.

        UAH converts microwave measurements into temperatures. It’s not just making things up out of thin air, as you imply.

        Alarmists attack what they are afraid of. Why would they be afraid of UAH? Because it puts the lie to their bogus, bastardized Hockey Stick charts. It interferes with them selling the “hotter and hotter” and “hottest year evah!” memes.

  6. The two previous SSW’s over Antarctica in the satellite period produced different results at mid latitudes, such as where I live at 40 South in NZ. The stronger of the two was Sep 2002. The ensuing October was the second coldest October in 90 years of records. 2.7 degrees C below the long term average, and just 0.1 C above the record low set in 1933!

    The second SSW was a weaker one in Sep 2010 and had far less of an impact.

    As for the current situation, spring started a few weeks back, but apart from the usual blooms appearing close to their usual blooming times (lambs & calves appear though out winter in NZ so you can’t use their arrival as a marker for anything much), you could be fooled for thinking it was still very much winter. I guess we’ll know when the numbers are tallied at the end of the month as to whether or not this October has any similarities to the one in 2002.

    • @Stephen
      But you did not mention SSW. It seems like you are proposing temperature increase due to solar UV interaction with O3, which is an exothermic reaction, releasing oxygen at a higher kinetic temperature. That is not SSW.

      When the Sun is more active there is more ozone above the equator and less over the poles, and vice versa. An increase in ozone warms the stratosphere or mesosphere, which pushes the tropopause lower.

      The increase in stratospheric temperature from SSW is due to adiabatic compression. The change in potential temperature is zero, so the change can entirely be explained in terms of compression (Charles Law). Even though it is 40C degrees “warmer”, the resulting stratospheric temperature will still be well below freezing. In fact, the effect of SSW causes surface temperatures to decrease due to the intrusion of the frigid polar vortex air.

      • Johanus
        It must be in other work that I mentioned an increase in SSW events. I’ll try to find it.
        I don’t follow the rest of your point. It is well accepted that ozone interacting with sunlight warms the surroundings and so that effect must be added to the compression effect must it not ?
        The polar air in the stratosphere does not mix with the polar air in the troposphere. Instead, tropopause height changes to force cold tropospheric surface air outwards to the middle latitudes.

        • The UV reaction with O3 is exothermic, adds heat to the system, therefore is not adiabatic. It changes the potential temperature of the system.

          The heating caused by SSW is caused by compression only, which is adiabatic, no heat enters or leaves the system.

          The heating you are proposing is the “non-sudden” variety, which is caused by ozone decomposition. In fact it is the mechanism which creates and characterizes the stratosphere with its more or less isothermal lapse rate, which separates the troposphere from the mesosphere. Otherwise, without O3, the troposphere would transition directly into the mesosphere (like Mars).

          • One needs to add the small exothermic changes accumulating over many years to the short term compression effects.
            When the scale of exothermic heat addition is greatest above 45 km, such as occurs when the sun is quiet then we see stronger, more extensive and longer lasting compression effects at the base of the descending polar vortex in the stratosphere.
            That is why we now have a historically powerful SSW over the South Pole and a shrinking ozone hole.

          • “One needs to add the small exothermic changes accumulating over many years to the short term compression effects.”
            The stratosphere has no heat “storage capacity”. The air is very thin and equilbrium times are measured in hours, not years. Most of it radiates out into space.

            “When the scale of exothermic heat addition is greatest above 45 km, such as occurs when the sun is quiet then we see stronger, more extensive and longer lasting compression effects at the base of the descending polar vortex in the stratosphere.”

            Only 3 SSW events have ever been recorded in the SH. They are extremely rare, and thus have a neglible effect on climate.

            “That is why we now have a historically powerful SSW over the South Pole and a shrinking ozone hole.”
            Nonsense. Look at the size of the ozone hole right now. It covers half of the Antarctic continent.

          • “One needs to add the small exothermic changes accumulating over many years to the short term compression effects.”
            The stratosphere has no heat “storage capacity”. The air is very thin and equilbrium times are measured in hours or days, not years. Most of it radiates out into space.

            SSW’s are created by upwelling Rossby waves, advecting tropospheric winds into the stratosphere. (See other post on this page).

            “When the scale of exothermic heat addition is greatest above 45 km, such as occurs when the sun is quiet then we see stronger, more extensive and longer lasting compression effects at the base of the descending polar vortex in the stratosphere.”

            Only 3 SSW events have ever been recorded in the SH. They are extremely rare, and thus have a neglible effect on climate.

            “That is why we now have a historically powerful SSW over the South Pole and a shrinking ozone hole.”
            Look at the ozone hole right now. Its area is roughly the size of the Antarctic continent!
            https://www.windy.com/-Ozone-layer-gtco3?gtco3,-77.313,2.988,3 (red blob)
            https://ozonewatch.gsfc.nasa.gov/ (blue blob)

          • Please refer to ren’s data concerning the shrinking ozone hole in the Southern Hemisphere.
            Heat storage capacity in the stratosphere is not relevant. We are dealing with variable energy flow rates rather than storage capacity.
            A single SSW event has no effect on climate but a change in average scale and intensity over a period of time will affect climate by shifting the average position of climate zone boundaries.

          • I’ll confess that I do not know all of the mechanisms which govern the growth and shrinkage of the ozone hole. Yet it only occurs in the Southern Hemisphere, and only in the winter (when there is relatively less sunshine reaching the surface. It is definitely correlated with the stratospheric polar vortex, which also only appears in the winter (unlike the tropospheric polar vortex). But you claim your theory predicts all of this!

            My point is that you are claiming your theory is explained by a series of “add up changes” and “accumulates over many years” and “a change in [SSW] average scale and intensity over a period of time will affect climate by shifting the average position of climate zone boundaries.” Have you written a formal mathematical model, with observational evidence, for supporting these claims?

            Sounds like hand waving to me.

  7. Why is it this anomalously warm readings do not show up in US surface data, but only in other places?
    Once again, we have the warmest month ever suddenly appear when the US is having an unusually cool year.
    Besides for that, assuming this suddenly global atmospheric warming is real, where did the energy come from?
    Did the Earth suddenly find some way to hold in a bunch of heat?
    Most of the warm months and years are traceable to a release of heat from the tropical Pacific ocean during a super el nino event, which then has to work it’s way around the planet and eventually radiates away.
    So where did all of this thermal energy come from, being that there is no such apparent release of thermal energy from any tropical ocean this past month? Or was there?

    • Did the Earth suddenly find some way to hold in a bunch of heat?

      If you remove the ‘suddenly’ from that then yes.

      Greenhouse gases act like a rug over you. They don’t add heat, they simply reduce the rate at which heat is lost. Adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere should therefore result in more heat capture. Similar to the way that you feel warmer when you put a coat on in cold weather.

      • That might be true in a greenhouse but since the atmosphere advects and convects heat – it can’t be a greenhouse. Further, only ozone and water in the atmosphere trap heat.

      • Isn’t it true – and also intuitive – that the incremental heat capture capacity of CO₂ diminishes as concentration increases, until it becomes “flat-lined” at some level? Consider Mars, with 96% CO₂ in its atmosphere (and 12 times as much atmospheric CO₂ in total as Earth) but no runaway global warming.

        • Not a fair comparison. You are ignoring how thin the Martian atmosphere is.
          Your argument may be right but using a known false comparison automatically diminishes your message

      • Suddenly as in a month over month large change.
        The previous month was cooling over the month prior.

      • But, when you pull a blanket over a heated body to retain some heat, you cool the region on the other side of the hlanket, for no net change.
        Geoff S.

    • Bob Tisdale noted in another post recent warming in Nino 3.4 and other areas that he attributed to more sunlight penetration because of fewer clouds due to the Sun’s quiet nature currently. Perhaps there is a connection.

    • The warmth in this post is in the stratosphere in this post. It’s an uncommon but normal phenomenon.

      The post is mostly, “Don’t freak out, this is real data, the satellite is fine.”

      • Yes. It’s also interesting to know that LT temp isn’t actual measured by satellite microwave sounders. A bit disappointing, but interesting.

        • None of the Temps are measured data they are all modelled from microwave sensors. However your point is even more significant. The reported LT temps aren’t even modelled from microwave sounders, they are interpolated from other modelled data from other areas of the atmosphere using a very simplistic looking equation that must be an approximation in itself.
          And then its all reported as anomolous anomalies rather then ‘real’ temperatures with error bands that with all this modelling etc would probably be +-1000% or more.
          It truely is GIGO. Clever, reasonable sounding GIGO , but nontheless GIGO.

          • @JimW
            “None of the Temps are measured data they are all modelled from microwave sensors. “
            All calibrated temperature measurements are produced by models.
            Take that old “red alcohol” thermometer hanging on your back porch. It uses a thermal expansion model, and relies on accurate knowledge of the thermal properties of alcohol. Also it must be engineered carefully, to create a capillary column in the grass with accurately known volumn per unit length, to insure that the equally spaced markings remain accurate. Finally it must be calibrated against known temperatures.

            In other words, it is conceptually no different than any other calibrated temperature model. It may differ in complexity and physical model (thermal expansion, electrical resistance, EMR spectrum etc).

            Satellit microwave sensors have been in use to measure temperatures since 1978.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwave_sounding_unit
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_microwave_sounding_unit

            They are no less accurate/reliable than the thermometer hanging on your porch, probably better.

  8. all the aerosols the chemtrails are spraying into the stratosphere could be collecting down there… that would case temp rise. Is anyone tracking aerosols migration? Hell, all the countries are doing it now…it’s got to be having some measurable effect. Temperature change would probably be easiest to find, then maybe plant growth slowdown.

      • Start paying attention, Jeff. They are no longer called “chemtrails,” and so they have attained legitimacy: in the literature, they are now called “persistent contrails” and anyone who’s spent time outdoors can attest to their existence. Persistent contrails start out pencil thin (viewed from the ground) but instead of sublimating as ice does; over a few hours, they spread out to cover a swath of sky. Eventually what remains is a persistent very thin haze at 20-30,000 feet, which may account for the rise in average night temps.

        • Contrails (when they form – I like to spot airliners not leaving contrails) are mostly a remote sensor/display of high level humidity. Supersaturation (up to 200% – I might be able find a reference for) leads to contrails that grow. (The IPCC offers https://archive.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/sres/aviation/index.php?idp=38 )

          Persistent contrails are nothing new. It would be nice to know more about humidity levels starting before we used those flight levels.

          The 1998 paper https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1029/97JD02808 uses the term “persistent contrails”. Are you saying the chemtrail conspiracy theorists have realized the error of their ways and that they’ve been wringing their hands over well known phenomena all this time?

          • Persistence of contrails depends only on the prevailing synoptic conditions.
            If in a region of descending air (a high pressure region) vapour trails will be dissipated promptly by the adiabatic heating of descending air raising the condensation temperature at the height of the contrail.
            If in a region of rising air (low pressure) they will expand at the expense of clouds that would have occurred naturally in any event.
            Thus the vapour trails from aircraft have a net zero effect on what would have happened naturally.
            The chemtrail conspiracy theory has no basis in reality and condensation trails cannot upset the hydrostatic equilibrium of an atmosphere.
            Nor can GHGs.

          • I have noticed from many years of living here, that contrails are exceedingly rare over the southern half of Florida.
            I have only observed them when clouds at the same level as the plane are in the area.
            Most days have zero contrails, despite a huge amount of planes traversing the sky here.

          • Stephen, I am hard pressed to find a flaw in your reasoning, and yet I recall that during the flight ban after the 911 attacks, it was noted that the sky over the US became notably less cloudy.
            Anyone else recall this, or have information on that time period?

          • I recall that being said but was sceptical at the time. One would need to assess the nature of any synoptic changes occurring simultaneously. I would expect a reduction in high level contrails to increase solar energy reaching the ground which would in turn increase convection from the ground to create more lower level cloud as an offset.

          • “Persistent contrails are nothing new.”

            First time I saw this phenomenon was while driving thru the Florida Panhandle around 1995 or so. Military aircraft, I think. I noticed them because they were different from the contrails I’d seen before, which didn’t persist or spread.

            I haven’t witnessed much activity of this sort in Central Texas during the past couple of years. Seems to have tapered off. During the Bush admin, contrails were very noticeable around here. I have a series of photos from 2004 showing these things spreading out to cover a clear blue sky over the course of a few hours.

            I guess the humidity was higher until recently. Climate change, no doubt! Then again, if it were humidity, wouldn’t all planes at altitude “emit” — there should be dozens of parallel trails when conditions are right. (Blue sky seems preferred.) But, no, there are usually just a couple of persistent trails, often at right angles. In recent years, they do not seem to spread as much.

            I don’t think this phenomenon is very well known at all.

    • …Did you even read the article?

      Spoiler: Large air masses moved as they sometimes do. It’s called “weather”. This specific weather doesn’t happen often in the Antarctic, but it’s still pretty normal.

      The reason for the article was that the strange data isn’t a technical glitch.

  9. Unsure of the mechanics, but NZ forecasters a few weeks ago, after the discovery of the stratospheric warming accurately predicted the cold weather we are currently experiencing in New Zealand From memory they compared it as similar to the “Beast from the North” experienced in North America some time ago.

    • Peter
      The coldish weather we are having currently is normal. Snow or cold wet weather in spring in not unusual during early spring in NZ.

  10. Thanks, Roy. It’s nice to know that someone’s keeping an honest eye on actual events in the atmosphere. It is curious though that the climate models, which calculate everything worldwide in 20-minute intervals for the sole purpose of predicting future climate (and which are so accurate that they are sensitive to changes in initial conditions of less than a trillionth of a degree), did not predict this event. Did it all occur in less than 20 minutes, perhaps? Seriously though, I found it difficult to work out from your article what the effect would be in the LT and at ground level where we actually live. Will Australia get extra cold or hot, and over what period, for example.

  11. The bottom line is that there is nothing wrong with the UAH temperatures we originally reported.

    So still the warmest September in the lower troposphere record. UAH and RSS agree on that at least.

        • “Not the case. The September 1998 global anomaly was +0.44C according to UAH. 2016 (0.47C), 2017 (0.56C) and 2019 (0.61C) were all warmer”

          Sorry about that. I got August mixed up with September. Here’s what it says about August from Dr. Spencer’s website:

          “This makes August, 2019 the 4th warmest August in the 41 year satellite record, behind 1998 (+0.52), 2016 (+0.44), and 2017 (+0.42)”.

      • I look at 1998 as the connection between the short satellite record and the much longer US surface temperature record (the true global temperature profile) which shows the 1930’s to be just as warm or warmer than 1998, which means the 1930’s were also as warm or warmer than 2016 according to UAH which has 2016 showing as about 0.1C warmer than 1998 (a statistical tie).

        So, imo, 1998, is a very important year in understanding the historic temperature record. It connects the past with the future and puts the lie to the fraudulent Hockey Stick charts.

  12. Dr Spencer If you could live for 100,000 years you might experience climate change but you wont so enjoy your very short life < 100 years greetings to Dr Christy

    • 100,000 years !!
      Consider that the Puget Sound Lowland was filled with ice only ~13,000 years ago.
      But what’s a couple of years among friends?

  13. One thing to clarify, based upon the comments I see here. All that warming over Antarctica gets canceled by cooling elsewhere. That was part of my point. The August to September change in the global lower stratospheric temperature anomalies was only 0.01 deg. C, well within the uncertainty.

    • If I understand those comments correctly, they are questioning the cause of the SSW. I would like to also know what precipitates a SSW.

      “Some of you might have seen news reports several weeks ago that a strong stratospheric warming (SSW) event was expected to form over Antarctica,…”

    • I have inferred that the posted monthly temp is a measure to energy content of the atmosphere, and so warming of rarified air would contribute proportionally less to the total than an equal amount of warming of more dense air.
      Is this the case?
      That must be a complicated calculation.

    • Except all that says is there was an unusually strong pole ward transport of heat toward the polar vortex from the southern midlatitudes. Which we already knew because of the SSW event. Doesmt tell me anything about tropical temperatures in the upper troposphere, let alone what’s happening in the northern hemisphere.

    • Roy
      Are you suggesting that all of heat identified in the heat flux originated in the mid latitudes?

      Weak overall energy in the SH, hence low zonal winds, poor levels of ozone dilution etc.

      The NH responded just below average, high heat migration poleward, reflected in arctic sea ice profile timing and Greenland high temperatures. Little reliance of tropical cyclones to transport energy away from tropics.

      2012 was a similar outcome, NH strong and SH weak. 2005 was strong both hemispheres.
      Regards

  14. Spencer and Christy have done a good job here.

    They make it clear it is displacement of energy. And that the lapse rate being responsible for the sudden temperature increase. Here is a link to a video from the UK met some years ago about how a SSW evolves. Nothing about energy being created.

    First video (2 minutes) is UK MEt explaining what is SSW and the second (4 minutes) is showing it.

    https://youtu.be/1MiUlTthSNA

    https://youtu.be/VnlFFaF_l7I

  15. Is it possible that volcanic dust and gases from two eruptions, Raikoke, Kuril Islands, in June and Ulawun, New Britain, in August, which penetrated the stratosphere, could have played a part in these temperature changes in that part of the atmosphere? Also a lack of rain in much of Australia?

  16. Looking at the world wind maps animation the winds around Antarctica have been wildly agitated for the past couple of months, while the rest of the planet has been relatively quiet. I have no idea about this, just the observation.ol

  17. Mystery solved. Glad you found it and it wasn’t equipment just mother nature messing with us. Hey, she keeps us on our toes!

  18. The Chilling Stars, A Cosmic View of Climate Change, Henrik Svensmark, 2008, page 90:
    “clouds are really in charge, as Svensmark pointed out, because of the contrary warmings and coolings in the southern continent say so, “If changes in cloudiness drive the Earth’s climate, The Antarctic climate anomaly is the exception that proves the rule”.
    (See also Tom Abbott posting above quoting Bob Tisdale’s clouds comment).

  19. Nitpicking, but….
    When the thermometer goes from -80C to -50C, it is a big leap.
    – 50 cannot, in my opinion, be “warmer”. Maybe not so (……) cold.
    Life below -30C is complicated, per own experience.

  20. The Ozone boys have been looking at what keeps the ozone hole going for many years.

    With all the resources they have been given, I was hoping that an SSW of this magnitude would be forecast or the cause at least explained.

    • The ‘Ozone boys’ don’t seem to have commented recently on observations that a quiet sun increases ozone above 45 km contrary to previous expectations.
      The consequence is that the increase in ozone above 45km feeds down from the mesosphere into the stratosphere over the poles within the descending polar stratospheric vortex (not the tropospheric circumpolar vortex).
      The increased ozone absorbing incoming solar energy causes increased warmth at height and that supplements the background adiabatic compression warming that occurs during the descent.
      Thus one sees more heat in the lower stratosphere than would have been the case with less ozone and it follows that SSW events become more frequent, more intense and longer lasting above both poles.
      A warmer lower stratosphere over the poles pushes tropopause height downwards which forces cold polar surface air outwards and jet stream tracks become more meridional.
      That increases global cloudiness which reduces solar energy into the oceans and in due course the system cools down.
      It also follows that the more active sun of the late 20th century caused a reduction of ozone in the mesosphere which then caused the expansion of the ozone hole over the Antarctic and lower levels of ozone (but no actual hole) over the Arctic.
      It was never anything to do with CFCs.
      With the quiet sun we now see a reduction in the size of the Antarctic ozone hole.

      http://joannenova.com.au/2015/01/is-the-sun-driving-ozone-and-changing-the-climate/

  21. Furthermore, the pressing down of the polar tropopause inevitably results in a lifting up of the equatorial tropopause.
    Thus, to balance anomalous ozone induced adiabatic compression and heating above the tropopause over the poles we see anomalous adiabatic decompression and cooling below the tropopause in equatorial regions.
    That appears to fit perfectly with Roy’s observations.
    That internal system balancing process is what keeps atmospheres stable so that they can retain long term hydrostatic equilibrium rather than being lost to space or falling to the ground.
    All potential destabilising influences, including the radiative characteristics of atmospheric gases are neutralised in a similar fashion otherwise atmospheres could not be retained.

  22. Roy, some questions.
    How long will this phenomenon last, can we expect higher temps for 2 months and then a sudden drop once things reequilibrate.
    Second if it continues to spike could it indicate a satellite algorithm problem?
    DMI has some amazing dips a few years ago due to such problems.
    Your figures showed a remarkable concurrence of NH, SH and tropic anomalies.
    Is it a feature that NH and SH anomalies are expected to be different and is there any truth to the perception that when it is abnormally hot in the NH it is abnormally cold in the South?
    Ta.

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