Boy Child, Girl Child

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I’ve said before that I consider myself a climate heretic rather than a climate skeptic. A skeptic doubts parts of things. A heretic questions the basic assumptions underlying the whole field. My heresy is that I do not think that temperature is a linear function of greenhouse gas forcing.  I think that the temperature is regulated by a variety of “emergent” phenomena. In my last post, Watts Available, I discussed my view of how thunderstorms act to cap the tropical Pacific temperature.

In addition to my underlying heresy, I consider the various climate phenomena in what some people think is a backwards or improper manner. I’m not so much interested in how these phenomena work. Instead, I’m much more interested in what they do when they do work. I was told that this is called a “functional” analysis of a situation, which makes sense—I’m looking to see what the function of a phenomenon is.

Doing a functional style of analysis leads me to notice things like how thunderstorms operate on the exact same principle as your household refrigerator. And it also leads to my heretical view of another emergent temperature regulatory phenomenon, what’s commonly called the “El Nino”.

Let’s take a leisurely perambulation through the work of the El Nino/La Nina interchange, and consider what are known as “emergent” phenomena.

Let me start by discussing emergence and the class of phenomena known as “emergent”. Here are the defining characteristics of emergent phenomena.

  • Emergent phenomena appear, often very quickly, out of what might be termed a “featureless background”. For example, a day in the tropical oceans typically dawns clear. The clear air usually persists until late morning, when suddenly and without warning, out of the featureless blue sky background, puffy white cumulus clouds rapidly form and cover half the sky. These cumulus clouds are an emergent phenomenon.
  • Generally, emergent phenomena are not what might be termed naively or obviously predictable before emergence. For example, suppose you’d lived your entire life in tropical clear blue morning skies without ever seeing or knowing anything about clouds. There’s no way you’d look up and say “Y’know what? I think a whole bunch of giant white bulbous masses could suddenly appear way up in the sky!”. People would call you crazy.
  • Next, emergent phenomena are generally not permanent. For example, the tropical cumulus clouds above typically dissipate before dawn. Emergent phenomena usually have an emergence time, a lifespan, and a dissipation time.
  • Emergent phenomena are often, but far from always, associated with a phase change. For example, the clouds mentioned above are associated with condensation, which is a phase change of water from a vapor in the air to tiny liquid droplets in the clouds. 
  • Emergent phenomena are often mobile and wander around the landscape. An excellent example of this kind of emergent phenomenon are the familiar “dust devils” that are frequently seen moving across dry hot landscapes.
  • Emergent phenomena involve flow systems far from equilibrium.
  • Emergent phenomena, as the name states, emerge spontaneously when the conditions are right.
  • The conditions for that emergence are often threshold-based. Once the threshold is crossed, many individual examples of the phenomenon may appear quickly. This is true, for example, of the tropical cumulus clouds discussed above. Once the morning gets warm enough, and some local temperature threshold is passed, a skyful of cumulus clouds rapidly materializes out of nowhere.
  • Emergent phenomena are generally not cyclical. They don’t repeat or move about in any predictable fashion. It’s why the predictions of the emergent phenomenon known as tropical cyclones have “cones” rather than a single line.

From the smallest to the largest, the emergent phenomena that I think work together to regulate the global temperature include:

Dust devils

Rayleigh-Benard circulation of both the atmosphere and the ocean

Daily cumulus cloud fields

Tropical (convective) thunderstorms

Squall lines and other thunderstorm aggregations

Tropical cyclones

The El Nino/La Nina alteration, discussed in this post

Ocean-wide circulation shifts such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Atlantic Multidecal Oscillation (AMO) and the like.

All of these are thermoregulatory emergent phenomena. When the local temperature exceeds a certain level, they emerge and cool the surface down in a wide variety of ways.

With that discussion of emergent phenomena as prologue, let’s look at what’s happening in the Pacific. Here’s a movie of the month-by-month sea surface temperatures (SSTs). Take particular notice of the tongue of cooler water that extends out a variable distance offshore from South America along the Equator.

Figure 1. Month by month temperature variations, Reynolds Optimally Interpolated sea surface temperature dataset. The blue box shows the “NINO34” area, from 5°N to 5°S, and from 170°W to 120°W

So where in all of that endless motion is the El Nino and the La Nina? Here’s a drawing from NOAA showing the normal Pacific conditions.

Figure 2. ORIGINAL CAPTION The map (top surface) shows the Pacific Ocean from the Americas (brown area, right edge) to Australia (brown area, left edge) Graphic shows the sea surface temperature (colors from blue to red for cold to hot), the atmospheric circulation (black arrows), the ocean current (white arrows), and the “thermocline” (blue subsurface sheet). The thermocline is the bottom of the mixed layer—above the thermocline, the ocean is mixed on a regular basis, and below it there is little mixing. As a result, the water above the thermocline is warmer, often much warmer, than the water below the thermocline.

At times, however, the heat piles up in the eastern Pacific near the Americas. In this case both the atmospheric and oceanic circulation changes, as shown in Figure 3. The thermocline deepens, with warmer water near the coast of the Americas.

Figure 3. El Nino conditions. The surface near the Americas is warmer. The thermocline off the coast of the Americas is deeper.

Moving from theory to measurement, here is the sea surface temperature (Figure 4) as well as the sea surface temperature anomaly (seasonal variations removed, Figure 5) during an actual El Nino.

Figure 4. Actual sea surface temperature during the peak month (November) of the large El Nino of 1997-1998. Note the high temperature of the water in the blue rectangle that outlines the NINO34 area. Temperature in this area is diagnostic of the state of the El Nino/La Nina alteration.

Figure 5. Sea surface temperature anomaly (seasonal variations removed) during the peak month (November) of the large El Nino of 1997-1998. This show the large heat buildup along the equator in the eastern Pacific near the Americas.

After an El Nino condition peaks, a strong trade wind starts blowing towards Asia. This blows the warm surface water towards Asia, to the point where the thermocline comes all the way to the surface off the coast of the Americas. When the warm water hits the coast of Asia, it splits in two. One part goes towards the Arctic, and the other goes towards the Antarctic. Here’s the NOAA graphic showing La Nina conditions.

Figure 6. Schematic diagram of the La Nina Condition.

And as above, shown below is an actual La Nina condition. This is the La Nina peak of the same Nino/Nina cycle in Figure 5, which began 12 months earlier, in November 1997.

Figure 7. Reynolds Optimally Interpolated (OI) sea surface temperature for November 1998.

And here is the temperature anomaly at that time:

Figure 8. SST Anomaly (seasonal variations removed) during a peak La Nina condition.

Note in Figure 8 above how the trade winds have exposed the cooler subsurface waters all across the equatorial Pacific. They’ve been laid bare because the warm water has been pushed westwards. You can see above how when the warm water hits Asia/Australia, it is mostly split in two and moves towards the poles.

Now I started this by saying I do functional analysis. I don’t look at what causes the El Ninos or the La Ninas. I’m not trying to understand the processes. Instead, I look at what they do.

When I do that, I see that talking about the El Nino and the La Nina as separate phenomena is incorrect. They function together as the world’s largest pump. What they do is pump trillions of tonnes of warm equatorial Pacific water polewards. So much water is pumped that the elevation of the equatorial Pacific sea surface drops, and the effect is visible in local tide gauges.

Figure 9. The Nino/Nina differences as shown by the TAU/TRITON moored buoys along the Equator. You are looking westward, across the equator in the Pacific Ocean, from a vantage point somewhere in the Andes Mountains in South America. The colored surfaces show TAO/TRITON ocean temperatures. The top surface is the sea-surface, from 8°N to 8°S and from 137°E to 95°W. The shape of the sea surface is determined by TAO/TRITON Dynamic Height data. The wide vertical surface is at 8°S and extends to 500 meters depth. The narrower vertical surface is at 95°W. All of these data come from the TAO/TRITON Array of moored ocean buoys in the Equatorial Pacific.

So … what happens when warm ocean water gets transported towards the poles? More heat is lost to space. Figure 10 shows how much upwelling surface radiation makes it to space, by latitude.

Figure 10. Top Of Atmosphere (TOA) upwelling longwave radiation as a percentage of the upwelling surface radiation, by 1° latitude band. These are monthly averages over the entire period of record.

In Figure 10 above, the low spot at about 7°N or so is the location of the ITCZ, the intertropical convergence zone. When you start moving towards either pole, there’s an immediate and continuing increase in the percentage of the surface thermal radiation that escapes to space. 

Now given the functional nature of my analysis, I make a different identification of “El Nino” and “La Nina” than the one normally given. 

There are several indices used to evaluate the El Nino/La Nina conditions. An example of an index is that “El Nino conditions” are times when the sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly in the NINO34 Region (blue box) is more than a certain temperature (often around 1°C) warmer than normal. And “La Nina conditions” are when they are more than a degree cooler than normal in the NINO34 region. (There are other identifications, but they all identify Nino and Nina conditions separately, and they all establish a temperature threshold for Nino and Nina conditions. I do neither.)

I don’t look at them separately, or have any set temperatures. This is because I don’t see them as separate phenomena.

Unlike the standard definitions, I identify the Nino/Nina phenomenon as working together as a pump. In that pump the El Nino is the peak of the intake stroke, and the La Nina is the peak of the discharge stroke. We can see this activity in a graph of the temperature in the NINO34 region (blue rectangle shown in the graphs above). 

Figure 11. Sea surface temperature in the NINO34 area. Blue sections show the times when the pumping action is occurring. Red dots show peak El Nino conditions, and blue dots show peak La Nina conditions. Dotted vertical white lines show November of each year.

I have highlighted in blue the times of the pumping action. What I first noticed about them is what the Peruvians noted about them. This is that they all start within a month or so of November, and thus are often strong near Christmas … hence the name “El Nino” for the boy-child.

I noticed another oddity. In all cases highlighted , the duration of the pumping action from the red dot at the top (peak “El Nino”) to the blue dot at the bottom (peak “La Nina”) is one year plus or minus a month or so. This allows us to distinguish the Nino/Nina pumping action from the normal temperature variations found anywhere in nature.

The regular ~ 12-month length of the discharge cycle also shows that the two (El Nino and La Nina) do not exist as independent entities. Instead, they are intimately tied in a single larger one-year-long phenomenon.

Now, recall that the question in functional analysis is, what does this single larger combined Nino/Nina phenomenon do? 

I say that the El Nino/La Nina pump is an emergent phenomenon with a lifespan of 12 months. It emerges when enough heat is built up in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. It cools the equatorial Pacific, and hence the entire planet, by 

1) exporting the warm equatorial surface waters polewards where the heat is lost more quickly to space, and by

2) exposing the cooler subsurface ocean layer which cools the atmosphere.

So the function of the El Nino/La Nina alteration is to cool the earth by means of a periodic pumping cycle.

Like many other emergent climate phenomena, it is what I call “self-latching”. By this I mean that once the Nino/Nina pump starts, it creates conditions such that it strengthens itself, and thus tends to persist.

Here’s how that works. The strength of the trade winds in the equatorial Pacific is driven by the east-west temperature difference. Now, when the pumping action is underway, the east is getting cooler, and the warm water is piling up in the west. This increases the east-west temperature difference, which in turn increases the east–>west wind strength, which in turn increases the temperature difference, which …

This makes it self-latching, and this positive feedback is responsible for the long duration of the phenomenon once initiated. Once the Nino/Nina phenomenon begins, it generates its own wind. This allows it to continue to runs until the cold water is exposed all along the equator, as you can see in Figure 8 above.

Predictions and Conclusions

Now, any theory such as mine is only as good as its predictions. So how can I determine if the Nino/Nina is actually an emergent phenomena that cools the Pacific when excess heat builds up?

Well … we could start with the observation that the trigger for the pumping is the buildup of heat in the eastern Pacific. So the form of the phenomenon obviously is temperature-limiting (cooling) and thermal-threshold based (happens more when it’s warmer).

What I’d never figured out until this analysis was how to determine whether the Nino/Nina pumping phenomenon as a whole was more frequent or more powerful or both in warmer times than in cooler times. The problem is that we already know that it is triggered by excess heat … but does it increase when the excess heat increases? And how would you measure that increase?

What I realized is that if the pumping increases in warmer times, such as the current post-1981 Reynolds SST record of a gradual slight overall ocean surface warming, we should see differential heating trends in the Pacific.

And what the pattern of larger and smaller trends should look like is what it looks like after a complete pumping cycle—the areas on the way to the pole should show warmer trends, and the eastern Pacific should be cooler. If there is an increase in the number of Nino/Nina cycles, the transfer of energy will show up in the trend. The trend should be smaller in the area along the Equator where the pump exposes cooler water, and the trend should be larger where the pump moves the warm water, which is westwards and towards the poles.

Here’s how that played out at the end of the large 1997-1998 Nino/Nina cycle. I repeat Figure 8 from above to here for comparison.

This is Figure 8 from above.

And here are the sea surface trends during a 36-year period when, as the figure below shows, there’s been a slight SST warming (0.10°C per decade).

Figure 12. Decadal sea surface temperature trends.

My conclusion from the distinct similarity of those last two graphs is that the prediction from my theory is correct—the Nino/Nina pump is indeed a temperature-regulating emergent phenomenon, which opposes any increase in overall tropical Pacific temperature.

Here, the first rain came yesterday after a long dry “fiery but mostly peaceful” wildfire season here … the forest smells of growth, green life, and decay are particularly strong this evening, reminding me of the endless cycles of creation and destruction.

My best regards to everyone,


Post Scriptum: When you comment please quote the exact words that you are discussing. This helps avoid the endless misconceptions that plague the internet. For more info regarding how you can show that I’m wrong, see my post Agreeing To Disagree.

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November 8, 2020 2:22 pm

Another brilliant and thought provoking analysis.
Figure 1 is stunning to watch, particularly the land-locked Mediterranean and Black Seas showing how rapid the annual heating and cooling cycle must be.

Wim Röst
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
November 8, 2020 5:48 pm

Agree with Philip. Very interesting Willis. Great illustrations.

Request for Willis: it would be great to have the same figures (inclusive that fascinating figure 1) in the projection with a ‘Full Atlantic’ in the center. I am guessing that we can get a glimpse of the oceanic movements that cause the ‘warmer than normal’ North Atlantic subsurface inflows into the Arctic ocean: the inflows that cause Arctic ice melt and that are changing a lot of weather patterns over the North Atlantic and Arctic (and recently: over north east Asia).

My guess: given the warm patch in the North Atlantic during La Nina (figure 8) the warm water pulses into the Arctic could have been connected with strong La Nina’s. In that case the ‘Atlantification of the Arctic’ will now get another impulse and than it becomes more clear that we definitely entered ‘The Little Warm Age’.

Given the fact that weather (and so climate) becomes more unstable when the Earth’s oceans are cooling down (what already is happening during the last 6000 years) and variability enhances (Warm is stable – Cold is change *) the new ‘Little Warm Age’ would be a next step in the higher variability belonging to a possible slipping into the next glacial.

To compare: the relatively stable Holocene Climate Optimum followed the rapid rise after the Last Glacial Maximum. After a long period of gradual cooling we seem to have entered a new era with higher variability. Step one: Little Ice Age. Step two: Little Warm Age.


Martin Cropp
Reply to  Wim Röst
November 9, 2020 1:13 am

The weather and climate are never stable, what you state is a fallacy. It is always moving.

Given that the majority of the past 100,000 years has been considerably colder than present, something or someone is fiddling with the thermostat, or do we have multiple thermostats. If we go back 20,000 years into deepest glaciation, how relevant is the current theory.
With regards.

Wim Röst
Reply to  Martin Cropp
November 9, 2020 3:13 am

Martin Cropp: “something or someone is fiddling with the thermostat, or do we have multiple thermostats”

WR: The Earth is like a house with many rooms. You can close a curtain in one room and the Sun cannot come in (albedo change). In another room a door or window could be opened and warm air from different parts of the house is able to disappear into the open air. Many processes are happening in the same moment. Many thermostats are working at the same time: from the one that causes a dust devil to the one that causes the La Nina/El Nino system to perform.

The big natural power where Glacials are the result from is the change in insolation over latitudes (Milankovitch cycles). Instead of being absorbed at higher latitudes more Sun rays are received by tropical waters. While open tropical waters can’t exceed a yearly 30 degrees that extra heat is whether reflected by clouds or in second instance removed from the surface by the thunderstorm mechanism. So the extra energy that is received by the tropics never will make it to the higher latitudes: they cool, their oceans cool and the deep oceans cool. And colder deep ocean water is welling up into the tropical surfaces. Furthermore: less water vapor fills the air over the colder higher latitudes and surface energy can more easily escape into space. The Earth as a whole cools. Until more energy is received by the higher latitudes.

The big power ‘Insolation’ constantly changes over latitudes and is constantly changing temperatures everywhere, leading to a myriad of reactions we call ‘weather’. And the average of thirty years of weather is (by definition) called ‘climate’. Because big natural powers change constantly (insolation over latitudes) weather and climate have to change constantly. Weather adapts instantly on changing circumstances. By consequence Climate has never been stable. The idea that climate CAN be stable is the big fallacy.

Teddy lee
November 8, 2020 2:25 pm

I would gladly chip in towards Branson’s one wayfarer

November 8, 2020 2:29 pm

Thanks, Willis, for a very informative and interesting article on an area little explained.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
November 8, 2020 11:52 pm

Sadly the NOAA pictures fig 2,3 and 6 are stupidly simplistic and inaccurate.

The thermocline shown seems to be supposed to represent some kind of typical equatorial section but is stretched in a uniform way from pole to pole. That is garbage. As we see from the DATA driven representation in fig 9 ( Triton ) it is not even constant across the tropics wrt latitude.

The supposed west to east convection shown in those pics is misleading. Convectional rise across the tropics causes air from higher latituded ( both N and S ) to move away from the equator at altitude and thus the return towards the equator near sea level. That is the famous Hadley circulation. It is then Coreolis forces which divert that movement towards the equator to the west in both hemispheres. This can clearly be seen on maps of wind direction.

The convection happens NS and SN, not WE as shown.

Does the person who drew these illogical misrepresentations no know how tropical circulation works, or have they simplified it to the point presenting disinformation in an attempt to explain it to a population for whom they have total contempt and for whom gross misrepresentation does not matter?

Figure 9 also shows how bands around +/- 10 deg latitude get warmer during La Nina, this will reduce convection and reduce the strength of easterly ( westward ) winds.

The 2D convections shown by NOAA pictures would be strongest during when E. Pacific is coolest and WPWP is hottest. This would reinforce the easterlies and there would never be a return flow of warm surface water.

Once the strong easterlies subside, warm water can flow back from the WPWP and an El Nino event begins.

It may not shock readers here that NOAA to not care about facts, logic and science, their main mission is elsewhere now.

Reply to  Greg
November 9, 2020 12:02 am

“The supposed west to east convection shown in those pics is misleading”
Great comment.
Slight niggle it’s SW and SE for the upper air return flow in the Hadley cells.

Reply to  Philip Mulholland
November 9, 2020 12:18 am

Thanks for your reply. I was breaking it down. It is the deviation caused by Coriolis forces which turns the basically NS/SN return flow in the SW,SE that you correctly state. Looking maps of wind direction you can see that curvature. If you draw a straight line to summise the “average” direction it will be as you state.

There is an increasing EW component to the wind velocity vector due to Coriolis.

Willis does not cover what breaks the “latch” effect he describes.

Looking at his fig 8 we can see the neg anomaly along the equator and the +ve anomaly in extra tropics ( esp. in SH ). This is what reduces Hadley circulation and reduces the Coriolis driven component of the easterly trade winds.

Reply to  Greg
November 9, 2020 1:16 am

I agree. We are looking for the latch on the floodgate.
Your diagram clearly shows that the flood is driven by the SET.
Have a look at the region of the North Pacific south of Guatemala. The cold patch there is clearly under the influence of the NET. Is this the trigger point? The question is – Why November?

Ian W
Reply to  Greg
November 11, 2020 2:57 am

The convective circulation West East is called the ‘Walker Circulation’

The Hadley cells are not consistent around the equator and there are other perturbing ’emergent’ phenomena and the Walker Cells are one of them. So the Hadley cell over a hot west Pacific is stronger than the Harley cell over the East Pacific – leading to a skew in the Hadley circulation which viewed as a slice West-East is the Walker Cell.
It is a complex 4 dimensional world.

November 8, 2020 2:40 pm

“My heresy is that I do not think that temperature is a linear function of greenhouse gas forcing.”

The IPCC acknowledges that this is not the case and they defer to approximate linearity centered on the mean. Unfortunately, the assumption of approximate linearity around the mean infers strict linearity that they deny is being inferred because they want to call the average not accounted for by the incremental analysis the ‘power supply’ that that powers gain from massive positive feedback. Of course, the average power not accounted for by the incremental analysis is already accounted for by the average temperature that’s also not accounted for.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
November 8, 2020 6:44 pm

I’m not sure that even the IPCC think there’s much of a correlation between CO2 and temps, if they understand what they’re saying. In one of their ARs, they described the climate system as “coupled, non-linear and chaotic”. If they’re serious about these words, then I don’t know how they can make predictions at all.

Reply to  JCR
November 10, 2020 1:46 pm

The IPCC doesn’t even grasp the most basic consequences of COE. They define a sensitivity metric called ‘alpha’, expressed as W/m^2 per degree, and define wildly different ranges of values depending on the nature of the W/m^2. It seems to be news to them that 1 W is 1 Joule per second and that forcing from anything other than the Sun can only be legitimately quantified as being equivalent to some amount of actual (solar) forcing keeping the system (i.e. CO2 concentrations) constant. If there’s any uncertainty, it’s in the W/m^2 of equivalent forcing attributed to a change to the system and not in the effect that W/m^2 of equivalent forcing has on the temperature, which has one and only one value which can only be relative to solar forcing.

The measured surface emissions sensitivity is about 1.62 +/- 1% W/m^2 of surface emissions per W/m^2 of solar forcing which at an average temperature of 288K is about 0.3C per W/m^2 corresponding to an alpha of 3.3 +/- 1% W/m^2. The rest of the uncertainty added to ‘alpha’ and adjusting its mean to about 1.25 is all a consequence of re-centering around misapplied uncertainty arising from a failure to understand that a Joule is a Joule and each can perform only 1 Joule of work.

BTW, I pointed this out in my review of AR6 and it was summarily ignored.

Robert Davis
November 8, 2020 2:43 pm

“I was told that this is called a “functional” analysis of a situation” You never let me down Willis. Now I know why I’ve been looking at this world the way I do. Thank you & I’ll raise a pint to you.

November 8, 2020 2:48 pm

Please post the Latitude vs % Out data for the line shown in Figure 10.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 8, 2020 3:43 pm


Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 8, 2020 11:48 pm

Got it.
Beautiful data.

Pat Smith
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 13, 2020 2:53 am

Willis, although the percentage increases towards the poles, the actual amount of heat being radiated must still be much less at the poles than at the equator. It would be interesting to see how much this is and how much it increases during a pump cycle to see if it can have any appreciable effect on global heat.

Lance Wallace
November 8, 2020 3:00 pm

Is there a long enough period of cooling (e.g., 1945-75) with sufficient data to test your theory under different conditions?

Wim Röst
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 8, 2020 6:22 pm

This graphic suggests that the warmer last century lacked strong La Nina’s. Even when taking into account the pattern of general warming. El Nino’s dominated, especially since 1975.
comment image

Wim Röst
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 9, 2020 3:43 am

Willis: “And the amount pumped isn’t dependent on whether there are more traditional Ninos or Ninas. ”

WR: We don’t differ in vision I think. But it still is interesting to look from the following view points:
1. Although I agree that the system is a unity that is constantly adapting to changing circumstances, I myself tend to mention La Nina first. Here the first visible step is made: warm water is blown to the Asian side where it cannot easily disappear
2. When ‘something’ (for example winds from the opposite direction) is preventing sufficient loss of the stored warm water to higher latitudes we can see this as ‘a frustration of the pole ward energy transport’. Finally a ‘correction’ has to be forced: the El Nino that again spreads the stored warm water layer over the oceans after weather patterns changed because of the horizontal extension of the warm piled up water.

Ocean currents change slowly, reacting slowly on changing weather systems. Because oceans react with delay the build-up of heat near Asia can continue years before the correction (El Nino) takes place. First weather patterns must change when transport to higher latitudes is insufficient.

Ian W
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 12, 2020 12:39 pm

I myself tend to mention La Nina first. Here the first visible step is made: warm water is blown to the Asian side where it cannot easily disappear

The warm water on the East Pacific side actually runs north on the Kuroshio current along Japan and North to the Arctic which is why that current trends warmer in La Nina years.

Pat Smith
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 13, 2020 2:55 am

Heat pumps – very popular these days. You are very on-trend, Willis!

November 8, 2020 3:05 pm

Being a heretic isn’t as dangerous as it once was. 🙂

Freeman Dyson described himself as a heretic. link

David A
Reply to  commieBob
November 8, 2020 11:27 pm

Willis has lots of heresy! Start with the title of this post; “Boy Child – Girl Child.”

They must certainly have a choice, and it is dangerous to determine which is which!

Is SARC necessary?

November 8, 2020 3:07 pm

It’s not obvious to me what your conclusion is. I think most people already thought of Nino/Nina cycles as ocean releases and absorptions of heat, but in the long run the net effect on the global average surface temperature was near zero.. Since 1998, the net effect does not seem near zero, but that may be too short a period for analysis.

Seeing that you are calling yourself a climate heretic, it seems that I will have to call myself a climate lunatic — I like global warming, and want more of it. My plants like more CO2 in the air, and want more of it. The only bad news I recognize about global warming is the expense and actions taken to “fight” it. We’ve had intermittent warming since the late 1600s. Who was hurt? No one. I guess that’s too much good news for leftists to handle — they love to be miserable.

Reply to  Richard Greene
November 8, 2020 7:15 pm

Well said Richard. Lukewarmers like Willis are not our friends. They can see CO2.

Cue The Twilight Zone music.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 9, 2020 1:37 pm

Willis “lukewarmer” Eschenbacher
Based on leftist logic (an oxymoron, if there ever was one), the fact that you DENY being a lukewarmer is proof that you ARE a lukewarmer.

Reply to  Richard Greene
November 9, 2020 11:26 am

I want the ocean to be less cold.
Our ocean is currently about 3.5 C
I think it would be better if our ocean was about 4 C.
It should take more than century for ocean to warm by about 1/2 a degree.

What happens if ocean warms to about 4 C?
The arctic ocean should frequently be ice free during the Summer.
And it’s possible that Sahara desert could start to green.
If ocean were to warm by 1 C, definitely have ice free arctic waters in Summer, and the Sahara desert will green.

Global climate {or global temperature} is all about the temperature of the ocean.
The joules of heat needed to heat the ocean by 1 C, is about same adding 1000 degrees to the atmosphere temperature.
And the only thing vaguely correct about climate science is:
“More than 90 percent of the warming that has happened on Earth over the past 50 years has occurred in the ocean.”
And “more than 90 percent…” is probably more than 95%.
Our ocean was a bit colder during the Little Ice Age, and it’s been warming up for more than 100 years.
And our ocean was quite a bit, perhaps as much .5 C over 5000 years ago.
Or, wiki: “The Holocene Climate Optimum (HCO) was a warm period during roughly the interval 9,000 to 5,000 years BP, with a thermal maximum around 8000 years BP.”
was due to warmer ocean {about 4 C}.
And 5000 year trend has been cooling and possible we will not naturally return the warmer times of Holocene Climate Optimum. But it would be nice, if we did.

Reply to  gbaikie
November 9, 2020 2:54 pm

“I want the ocean to be less cold.”

Kenny Rogers time.

November 8, 2020 3:12 pm

Is it the North-East Trades (NET) or the South-East Trades (SET) that does the November triggering?
(Could be both of course). Looking at the animation in Figure 1 I recon that it is the NET that is the trigger and the reason is that in November the Andes are blocking the air flow from the Atlantic basin into the Pacific. So, when the winter Caribbean cools below 28C (does not happen every year) the NET strengthens across the Central American isthmus.

Wim Röst
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
November 8, 2020 6:31 pm

Philip: “Is it the North-East Trades (NET) or the South-East Trades (SET) that does the November triggering?”

WR: Looking to this map at this moment the South-East Trades are blowing the warm surface layer away:
comment image
(from overview:

Wim Röst
Reply to  Wim Röst
November 8, 2020 6:52 pm

To add to my earlier comment: I don’t know about which winds were dominating earlier La Nina’s but this La Nina is a typical Southern Hemisphere one – so far. The last four decades nearly all ocean cooling seems to be concentrated on the SH: see figure 12, decadal SST.

One could also say: we miss a kind of La Nina effect on the NH. The Arctic has been warming, the pole to equator gradient diminished over the NH and the northern part of the Hadley cell functions weaker: NE trade winds slow down and less cooling of the NH oceans results.

Cold upwelling over the NH is not well visible at this moment of the year, but perhaps because of the NH autumn/winter season. Upwelling patterns are season influenced.

Reply to  Wim Röst
November 8, 2020 11:15 pm

“the South-East Trades are blowing the warm surface layer away”
Thanks Wim.
Very useful image.

Pat from Kerbob
November 8, 2020 3:17 pm

This is why i love this site.

Reply to  Pat from Kerbob
November 8, 2020 5:22 pm

I’ll drink to that! Pass the beer, not the kool aid!!

November 8, 2020 3:19 pm

Thank you, Willis, for finally resolving that nagging disconnect regarding definitions that has escaped resolution for so long. I did not feel comfortable being described as a “skeptic” since I am a staunch BELIEVER in science. THEY are the skeptics, and since they think they own the GlowBULL Warming Orthodoxy, that makes US heretics….we are ALL Willis now.

November 8, 2020 3:23 pm

Sir – Two questions:

1 “the Nino/Nina pump is indeed a temperature-regulating emergent phenomenon, which opposes any increase in overall tropical Pacific temperature”.
OK, I’ll buy that, but please – for a dumb old man – tell me; what are the implications of that for climate science? Are you implying that the more the environment heats up, the more effective will be the Nino/Nina mechanism at cooling it down again? Ie if this is a _real_ scientific theory (which it certainly appears to be) then there is the possibility for predictions and falsification. Is there any historical data you can use, and correlate with some of the measurement of “the hotness of the environment”? I imagine not, but if you or anyone can suggest any such link I would be intrigued.

2 “Ocean-wide circulation shifts such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Atlantic Multidecal Oscillation (AMO) and the like” I’m not trying to be smart here, but is it possible to assess what impact (if any) these have on the Nino/Nina mechanism? If so, do you think it would have a large or small effect? Do you think there is any cause and effect relationship between PDO/AMO and Nino/Nina, or are they just separate phenomena?

Perhaps that is half a dozen questions, not two. Maths was never my strong point. Anyway, thank you for your analysis and for such a clear and thought-provoking paper.

November 8, 2020 3:25 pm

You’re way beyond heresy. This a great insight.

Leif Svalgaard
November 8, 2020 3:27 pm

Willis, a compelling analysis!
In a sense, the solar ‘cycle’ runs on similar rails.

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
November 8, 2020 6:33 pm

Leif, I am curious how you would explain the temperature variations we observed in the Greenland ice core record during the Holocene. Solar? Internal variability of some type? Measurement error? It seems the data rules out variations in CO2 concentrations. Thanks
November 8, 2020 4:01 pm

“My heresy is that I do not think that temperature is a linear function of greenhouse gas forcing.”

Most orthodox climate scientists agree with you on that point. They contend that both the ECS and TCS is dependent on a doubling of the concentration of CO2. That makes termperature a non-linear relationship to the concentration of C02. Forcing is measured in w/m2 not degrees. Do the math.

Izaak Walton
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 8, 2020 6:03 pm

That formula is clearly an approximation and only valid for small values of Delta F. It is know that
a blackbody radiates as T^4 and so clearly the statement that “Delta T = lambda Delta F” is just a
Taylor series approximation to the correct equation.

Reply to
November 9, 2020 10:00 am

That makes termperature [sic] a non-linear relationship to the concentration of C02.

“My heresy is that I do not think that temperature is a linear function of greenhouse gas forcing.”

You see why Willis always requests quoting what it is you disagree with. Maybe he needs to add that you also need to read it.
November 8, 2020 4:07 pm

None of your “emergent phenomena” adequately explain why in the past 100 years global temperatures have risen.

Reply to
November 8, 2020 5:15 pm

Be very happy with that warming.

The opposite would have been a disaster for humankind.

Rich Davis
Reply to
November 8, 2020 5:43 pm

They haven’t only risen, have they? What about the period from the 1940s to 1970s?
And so remarkably little overall. How do you know that you are not just looking at the warming phase of a cycle? Like observing NH temperatures from March to August and concluding that temperatures are rising 6 degrees per month so that by January it will be 60C and everyone will be dead.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 8, 2020 8:53 pm

First, I enjoy your “heretical” posts and your curiosity Willis, always look forward to them.

I do take issue with that graph. There is a signicant pattern, but presenting the data like that just unnecessarily obscures it. A graph of the Earth’s mountain ranges would be similarly obscure with an inappropriate scale – say distance from the Earth’s centre – interesting, but not very informative. There has been a significant warming in recent decades and the oceanic warming trend especially looks unwavering. I don’t think that amount of energy injected into the surface layers can just be trivialised and expunged with a straight line.

I do have a question about dust-devils. I undertsand the mechanism your are pointing out but I’m surprised you include them in a list with other factors that look far more important. They don’t appear that powerful or to contribute much. What am I missing?

Don K
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 9, 2020 6:48 am

“As to the dust-devils, I’ve never been able to find any good estimates of how much energy they move. Suggestions welcome.”

I don’t know either. But two points.

1. Glider pilots use dust devils as markers for rising thermals they can use to gain altitude. One suspects that they might represent a fair amount of energy overall in order to lift several hundred kilograms of aircraft and pilot thousands of meters.

2. Many, many years ago I witnessed a curious phenomenon that I’ve never been able to explain. On a pleasant Winter day I was sitting on a mountain side in the Mojave desert splitting open shale looking for trilobite fossils. Although it was quite nice on the South slope of the mountain where I was, there was a wicked and rather chilly North wind — maybe 30 knots — blasting the other side of the ridge. It was raising dust clouds on the playas South and West of me and blowing the dust along in clouds somewhat like the duststorm in the movie The Mummy albeit not so big. Several times I saw one of these clouds slow down, mill about, and then go swirling off as a dust devil.

How is that possible? Beats me. But it does suggest to me that a dust devil might contain very roughly the energy of 10 or 20 seconds of a stiff wind over a front of a few tens of meters.

Nice article by the way. As always, the graphs are remarkably well done.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 10, 2020 10:16 am

Don –> I think what you saw was a tornado. It sounds very much like a rolling wall cloud that spawns a tornado here in the midwest.

Reply to  Loydo
November 8, 2020 11:23 pm

“What am I missing?”
Scale invariance.

Reply to  Philip Mulholland
November 8, 2020 11:56 pm

Can you elaborate a little?

Reply to  Loydo
November 9, 2020 12:15 am

“Can you elaborate a little?”
No, do your own thinking.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 9, 2020 6:03 am

The K chart (November 8 at 6:36pm comment) says “anomaly” in the title but appears to be an absolute temperature xhart.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 9, 2020 1:54 pm

That process seems too complicated.
Wouldn’t an annual average for each year smooth away the seasonal trends?
Also, most data before 1920 are for the Northern Hemisphere, with lots of wild guesses for the Southern Hemisphere. I have a problem with anyone claiming to know the global average temperature before 1920 … and the data quality is still bad — non-global — until after World War II. Then the quality improves to mediocre, until 1979, when satellite data (not used in your chart) become available — the only near global data ever available, measured in a consistent environment, where the greenhouse effect actually occurs.

The temperature numbers prior to 1979 are not accurate enough for real science, nor can the margin of error be calculated, because the wild guess infilling, still in progress today, can never be verified. In addition, NOAA makes hundreds of “revisions” every month.

At least your chart does not grossly exaggerate tiny 0.1 degree C. temperature changes that no human would ever notice, unlike the usual “official” anomaly charts with a total range of of only 1 to 1.5 degrees C.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 9, 2020 12:34 pm

“It does, however, explain why they’ve only risen by less than one percent …”

Well it’s regarding the atmosphere. But what controls the average atmosphere is the heat of the ocean.
Heat of ocean controls how warm or cold the small region of near the poles.
Or polar amplification is considered large factor of “global warming or cooling”.

Or we in an Ice Age. We in Ice Age because we have a cold ocean.
An ocean with an average temperature of 10 C, is no where near an Ice Age.
But it’s not as though 10 C is particularly warm, but simply can’t be in Ice Age with such warm ocean and you are not going to have any polar sea ice [or ice shelves]. One would have enormous ocean thermal expansion.
But in our Ice Age which no one thinks we going to leave within tens of thousands of year, the ocean temperature stays within a temperature of 1 to 5 C,
and currently about 3.5 C. If ocean were to somehow warm to 5 C, that be a lot thermal expansion of ocean- about 1 meter- though the land would probably be wetter, and that would substract from such sea level rise.

More 90% of global warming is warming the ocean, or if focused on air, one looking less than 10% of global warming.

M Courtney
Reply to
November 9, 2020 2:45 am

Just as an aside, the average global temperature can only do one of three things:
A) Rise.
B) Stay the same.
C) Fall.
Logic demands it.

Now Willis has correctly observed that, relative to local temperature variations, the average global temperature has consistently done B for a very long time.

But it isn’t perfectly constant (which would be an incredible observation). And for the last half century or so, or last half millennium, pick your timescale for the purpose you are making the analysis, it has done A – not C.

Well, that’s a 50-50 choice. Which isn’t that remarkable. In a chaotic system it is quite reasonable to say it is without any meaningful explanation.

Why do you think it is significant?

Steve CASE
November 8, 2020 4:25 pm

When the local temperature exceeds a certain level, they emerge and cool the surface down in a wide variety of ways.

Bingo! An analogy is an industrial furnace. The hotter the furnace is required to be, there will be more & more energy required to maintain the temperature because heat finds more and more ways to escape as temperature rises. What it amounts to is the furnace and the world can only get so hot.

Reply to  Steve CASE
November 9, 2020 9:51 am

I totally agree.

Ah, but warmists will take your analogy and say: “But adding CO2 is like adding insulation to your furnace and causes the furnace to get hotter for the same quantity of energy added.”

Of course adding an infinitesimal amount of insulation would lead to an infinitesimal increase in furnace temperature.

Same for CO2 and the Earth’s climate, or in warmist speak, average temperature anomaly.

And to an earlier comment from Loydo, why do “Climate Scientists” insist on NOT using the K scale. They always set the graphs at a scale that greatly increases the shock value of temperature increases that are less than the accuracy of their measurement devices.

Bill Treuren
November 8, 2020 4:28 pm

Great paper again Willis worthy of a beer, will buy you one if allowed to ever travel again.

My point is that looking at Fig 11 and where we sit now we are just in November and entering what looks like and told so a La Nina. We are at a low temperature start point relatively are we not. What of our future if this were the case.

You have skirted the predictive portion of any discussion is there one?

November 8, 2020 4:43 pm


20 minute video – Premiered Oct 20, 2020.

Last 2 minutes of the above video.

Here is my warning, published one year ago in Fall 2019, before the Canadian election.

October 1, 2019 – My paper, edited with the Financial Post but not published in that paper.

September 20, 2019 – My original paper – By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng.,

Rich Davis
November 8, 2020 6:24 pm

Allan how is this relevant to Willis’ posting?
And if we’re weeks away from a panopticon dystopia, why are those videos still being allowed on YouTube?

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 9, 2020 6:29 am

Very good article on Nino/Nina, thank you Willis. I’ve been watching the big La Nina develop for some months, and expect some very cold winter weather. I wonder if we’ll see a longer term shift in the PDO to cold mode and a stronger cooling trend for the next few years. That should pretty much end the global warming (CAGW) and green energy scams – for honest, rational observers.

What is happening in Canada is an indicator of where the Dems want to take the USA. Your election has been corrupted by huge voter fraud in key states, and that is just the beginning. It was obvious by early March that Covid-19 was a relatively mild flu, significantly dangerous only to the elderly and infirm. As you and I independently published on 21March2020, the full-Gulag lockdown for Covid-19 was not justified and we have now been proved correct. Both the CDC and the WHO have published recent data that greatly diminishes the danger of Covid-19, yet the lockdowns remain and even grow – and look more and more like deliberate scams.

I would ask that you read my links, I sent the video to the informant for my Sept-Oct2019 papers and he finds it credible and consistent with his mid-2019 information. Obviously, we would both prefer to be wrong about this situation and I would not publish if not concerned.

November 9, 2020 5:14 pm

Another wild comment on COVID.
Once again you act as if deaths of the elderly and infirm don’t matter.
Not that they are the only COVID deaths.

More important than deaths (perhaps 1 in 1,000 now) in my opinion, are those infected with COVID who suffer with flue symptoms, or serious flu symptoms (about 600 of 1,000).

The percentage COVID-infected patients who have serious symptoms, and need hospitalization, is far higher than a typical seasonal flu. The percentage of COVID hospital patients that need the ICU is also far higher than a typical seasonal flu,

You appear to dismiss all COVID suffering and hospitalizations as if they do not matter … unless there is a death.

You claim COVID is a mild flu, and that was obvious in “early March”
Both claims are still wrong.

Nothing was “obvious” about COVID in early March 2020.

And anyone who still claims COVID is a “mild flu” , after 244,000 Americans died, and deaths are still in progress, not to mention all the suffering by people who survived, is either heartless, or clueless. And that would be YOU.

Reply to  Richard Greene
November 9, 2020 8:18 pm

Wrong RG. The true death count from Covid-19 in the USA was much less than 100,000, probably much less than 50,000 – the 244,000 number is false nonsense – it includes everyone who died while Covid-19 positive – including car crashes, heart attacks, cancers, etc. In Alberta and BC, 2-3 times as many people died from opioid OD’s as from Covid-19 – that does not include all the other deaths caused, not by Covid-19, but by the lockdown.

BTW RG, I am getting old and have great interest in the welfare of the elderly. I just do not ask that the young and the poor be destroyed – needlessly thrown under the bus – to protect me. The lockdown killed more than it saved, and many of those were young.

Told you so, ~8 months ago. I called it correctly on 21March2020* – NO LOCKDOWN! Covid-19 was a relatively mild flu except for the very elderly and infirm. Covid-19 is less dangerous to the general public than flu’s of recent decades that nobody remembers – the lockdown was a huge over-reaction, and probably a WHO scam.

Sweden correctly did not impose the full-Gulag lockdown and had low death rates and has now achieved herd immunity – forget a vaccine, all flu’s die because herd immunity is reached.

CDC Data:

by Tyler Durden
Thu, 10/08/2020
The World Health Organization (WHO) has finally confirmed what we (and many experts and studies) have been saying for months – the coronavirus is no more deadly or dangerous than seasonal flu.

My March calls:
21March2020 *Note: Willis independently made a similar call, also on 21March2020.
Isolate people over sixty-five and those with poor immune systems and return to business-as-usual for people under sixty-five.
This will allow “herd immunity” to develop much sooner and older people will thus be more protected AND THE ECONOMY WON’T CRASH.
This full-lockdown scenario is especially hurting service sector businesses and their minimum-wage employees – young people are telling me they are “financially under the bus”. The young are being destroyed to protect us over-65’s. A far better solution is to get them back to work and let us oldies keep our distance, and get “herd immunity” established ASAP – in months not years. Then we will all be safe again.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 10, 2020 7:27 am

This W.E. comment is evidence old man Eschenbacher is about to blow his top. Mr E., the comment storm trooper, and old geezer who chases children off his lawn, will soon be TYPING ALL CAPS DEMANDING THAT THE COMMENTS MUST NOT STRAY FROM THE SUBJECT OF HIS BELOVED ARTICLE. Just as sure as day turns into night. Mr. E. will lose his temper, and go berserk. I predict I will become a victim.

November 8, 2020 4:44 pm

Basically is this suggesting that Niño/Niña might be a negative feedback mechanism on global temperature ?

Izaak Walton
Reply to  Stevek
November 8, 2020 6:06 pm

That might be true but it is not a particularly effective one. The data Willis showed shows that
sea surface temperatures are rising by 0.1 degree per decade. Which if you think about the amount
of energy required to heat water is actually a very large increase in temperature.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 9, 2020 2:55 am

Sunlight enters ocean water. Some places where the water is very clear one can look down many feet and see very well much of what is down there. That obviously means that some significant amount of the sunlight is reflected back out, thus not absorbed.

More often, over a great deal of the ocean, one can see very little from the surface. Perhaps this is because light is not reflected from below into the atmosphere, perhaps because surface reflections and distortions mask the image from below, perhaps because here is nothing near enough to the surface to reflect the light. Regardless of reason for visibility differences, do you mean the 533 W/m2 is the part of sunlight that is not reflected back into the atmosphere (as compared to the total amount of sunlight that enters)?

Reply to  AndyHce
November 9, 2020 1:20 pm

Andy, the 533 W/m2 is the amount of radiation (not just sunlight but including LW) that is actually absorbed by the ocean. More energy hits the surface, but as you point out some is reflected.

At least in some places, some significant part of what enters beyond the surface is reflected. The fact that one can see the coral, fish, and such says that must be true. I guess that could be only where there is something within a certain small distance of the surface, say 100 to 200 feet but that complete absorption occurs in deeper water?

There doesn’t seem to be any controversy that IR only penetrates water about 10 microns, only about whether or not it can cause heating below that depth. Some claim IR on water only increases evaporation, removing the energy from the water, others believe the very thin absorbing layer must get mixed deep enough to be significant by wave action. If there are any verifications that heating of the bulk water occurs I haven’t run across them.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 9, 2020 5:55 am

Building up of heat itself of course is a negative feedback. If the Niña/Niño makes this feedback more efficient then that is very important towards predicting global temperatures over time.

Bemused Bill
November 8, 2020 5:43 pm

Not a bad paper, and thank you for your fine work….but here is what David Evans said about all that in 2008, its hardly a new idea and is exactly what I thought was going on. Here is DE’s excellent article.

Smart Rock
Reply to  Bemused Bill
November 8, 2020 7:41 pm

Hello Bemused

If you think that the article you linked to covers the same phenomena as Willis’ excellent post, you should really go back and read both of them again.

Rich Davis
November 8, 2020 5:48 pm

The best WUWT postings are from Willis. Always so disappointed when he gets to the weather report.

November 8, 2020 5:54 pm

I have always considered the heating and boiling of water in the kettle a classic emergent phenomena. The water heats in a pretty linear function with the amount of energy being put into it. If you tracked the temperature rise from 20 deg to 98 deg C, you would see no real indication of what was about to happen at 100 degrees and the effective capping of the water temp (all at atmospheric pressure of course)

Bob Weber
November 8, 2020 6:00 pm

I’m not so much interested in how these phenomena work.

Nice job Willis although some of us are interested in the ‘how’. The emergent phenomena is linked to solar activity, ie, the solar ‘cycle’ is driving the pump:

comment image

Bob Weber
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 8, 2020 8:57 pm

This represents the average solar cycle influence for each of the last seven solar cycles on the Niño12, 3, and 34 regions of up to a 1°C positive temperature anomaly change. It was computed by taking one sample of a high solar activity year minus one sample of a low solar minimum year from each of those seven cycles.

comment image

We can look at the effect of the last solar cycle maximum instead of one year re the ERSST image.

The 2015/16 El Niño followed the 2014 SC24 sunspot peak that drove TSI above my sun-ocean decadal warming/cooling threshold represented by the solid straight red line in plot (g) of Fig10 below of 1361.25 W/m^2 SORCE TSI.

comment image

The 2015/16 El Niño took off in earnest driving the Equatorial OHC anomaly positive until TSI fell below the threshold again (i), driving all manner of emergent phenomena along the way such as Kelvin waves, atmospheric rivers, the ‘Blob’ NW Pacific Warm Pool – all parts of the cooling process of expelling the high-TSI solar absorbed ocean heat content.

I think the 1°C temperature change anomaly shown in the ERSST image is statistically significant in spite of the low R values for the various oceanic indices shown below in Fig11 with respect to TSI. If the data were partitioned and compared according to the time of the solar activity period above my threshold to that below it, or a detrended TSI anomaly wrt my threshold is used, I think the R-values will improve into the very statistically significant range, the next task for me.

comment image

Your emergent phenomena could then be rigorously linked to the ocean’s solar supersensitivity.

The sunspot connection is cumulative, lagged from sunspots to TSI, and lagged again from TSI to Eq. OHC, which helps to explain why prior efforts at linking sunspots to weather were inconclusive.

Bob Weber
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 9, 2020 5:32 am

I’m sorry Mr. Willis but your methods are too ‘linear’ which is why you haven’t ‘seen it’.

I’ll bring out the solar threshold-partitioned analysis I mentioned earlier when I have it, but in the mean time we can look at another type of data partitioning I did a year ago that works well enough to ‘see it’.

You correctly mentioned the temperature isn’t a linear function of greenhouse gas forcing, and you could in all fairness extend that idea to long-term solar forcing too. As I said the solar effect is cumulative with sunspot number, a concept that applies not just to individual top of solar cycle Niño(s) such as I cited in my previous example, but also to the solar effect on Niño regions over much longer time periods.

I previously looked at Niño1-4 since 1870 wrt 30y average sunspot number in 2019.

In doing so, I created an partitioned Niño indice shown below I called ‘Nino1234’, a timeseries since 1870 of the Niño regions interyear ratio for each year expressed as a percentage of the ratio of the sum of the area-weighted Niño1-4 data of the first half of each year to the second half of each year, which accounts for both the annual insolation cycle effect and the effect of sunspot number changes since 1870, because the early year TSI is most geoeffective closest to the perihelion in January.

comment image

comment image

I found a very strong correlation with a 13y lag for the 30y SN compared to the 30y Nino1234 timeseries, R=.96, where the P-Value is < .00001. The result is significant at p < .01.

How is this applicable to the present climatic situation? The present 30y SN average is 69.5, below the 87 SN breakeven threshold indicated on the SN-v-N1234-CO2 plot, and the 13y SN ave today is 42 SN, which is why the tropics are presenting cooling.

comment image

Thanks for your thought-provoking article.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 9, 2020 2:47 pm

Good effort Bob, should we discard the lunar hypothesis?

Bob Weber
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 10, 2020 6:10 am

…should we discard the lunar hypothesis?

Why did you ask that non-sequiter, when it doesn’t matter to the climate?

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 10, 2020 1:30 pm

Ian Wilson seems to think ENSO behaviour is influenced by the moon, just saying.

November 8, 2020 7:53 pm

‘ … whether the Nino/Nina pumping phenomenon as a whole was more frequent or more powerful or both in warmer times than in cooler times.’

Cooler times like the LIA might have produced greater intensity and more La Nina conditions. During warm times like the Holocene Climate Max the ENSO cycle may have been longer.

Reply to  ironicman
November 8, 2020 8:25 pm

No one knew what the “global” temperature looked like in the LIA. Temperature swings occur with ocean cycles but the trend over decades is constant unless there are volcanoes or asteroids. Longer term, the orbital geometry plays a role in altering the weather around the globe but the energy balance is subject to very powerful negative feedbacks that are as good as any room thermostat.

Reply to  RickWill
November 8, 2020 11:10 pm

I think we can generally agree that European temperature minimum during the LIA was about 1.5 °C below the long-term mean.

ENSO is an enigma and the Western Pacific Warm Pool is a heat engine, there maybe a teleconnection?

Reply to  ironicman
November 9, 2020 1:04 am

As I point out below. The SST in Nino 34 region has not changed in the last 40 years:!Aq1iAj8Yo7jNg3j-MHBpf4wRGuhf

Once you realise that the SST is stuck between two firm limits, 271.3K at the sea ice interface and 305K in the tropics then there is plenty of evidence to support the thermostatic control. Even the exception of the Persian Gulf, which cannot form CAPE so is the warmest ocean surface on the planet proving the reality of powerful shading.

Sure ocean circulations are going to move the boundaries in and out on a cyclic basis but the longer term tropical SST trend is zero.

The power of clouds to shade tropical oceans is limitless once the SST approaches 32C. At the other extreme, sea ice is a powerful insulator that prevents heat loss.

These powerful temperature control mechanisms are clearly beyond the capacity of climate scientist to comprehend. They have a myopic view on the “greenhouse effect”, which is a figment of some incompetents imagination and the irrelevant impact of a trace gas.

Reply to  RickWill
November 8, 2020 11:56 pm

As El Nino builds the Western Pacific Warm Pool expands, warming the ocean.

Does the Warm Pool shrink during La Nina? Methinks it stands as a barrier and sends the cool waters back east where they gradually warm up.

Paul of Alexandri
Reply to  ironicman
November 9, 2020 3:54 pm

That’s an interesting question. Do the variations in the interglacial temperatures, e.g. the LIA and the Minoan/Roman/medieval warming periods, represent systemic “global” changes or purely changes in the Niño/Niña cycle, raising or lowering temperatures in EurAsia but not globally?

Reply to  Paul of Alexandri
November 10, 2020 1:50 pm

This recent abstract suggests that la Nina type conditions operated during the early Holocene.

I think La Nina was also prevalent throughout the LIA.

Reply to  Paul of Alexandri
November 10, 2020 2:05 pm

In an otherwise drying climate the LIA brought anomalous moisture.

‘At centennial scales, the record presents the first insights into subtropical Australian hydroclimates during the LIA, and we find that persistently high rainfall marks this period as anomalous in the context of the late Holocene. This contributes to a complex picture in which there is an apparent decoupling of SST and terrestrial hydroclimates during this interval.’

Barr et al 2019

November 8, 2020 8:03 pm

The emergent property you seek is called Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE). It kicks in when the TPW reaches 30mm and generates daily cloud burst when TPW reaches 38mm. CAPE is essential to creating and intensifying cyclones. The resultant highly reflective cloud prevents open ocean surface from reaching 32C. Reflected energy increases asymptotically as SST approaches 32C.

You need to look at reflected energy. It increases dramitically once TPW exceeds 38mm.

The Nino 34 region has not changed temperature in the last 40 years:!Aq1iAj8Yo7jNg3j-MHBpf4wRGuhf
This temperature is viewed as a key indicator of climate in the Pacific rim countries. So it is a highly regarded record.

The linked chart here shows how energy is rejected as TPW increases. The knee at TPW of 30mm is particularly noticeable comparing the winter and summer rejection for the Northern Hemisphere:!Aq1iAj8Yo7jNg2_DukRksyuhIkZ8
The atmosphere moves into shade mode once TPW exceeds 30mm.

Once there is daily CAPE at latitudes higher than 10 degrees, cyclones form. Cyclone can block out 80% of daily insolation. They cool an ocean surface at midday with sun directly overhead with insolation exceeding 1400W/sq.m. Cyclones are clearly visible by their reflective power:!Aq1iAj8Yo7jNg20rmI6ZbdeTV0c9
Cyclones are the brightest spots on the planet. Monsoons not far behind.

If you see any temperature measurement that shows a long term warming or cooling trend then check the measurement system. Earths energy balance is tightly constrained by a powerful thermostat operating over the sea surface in the tropics and at the sea ice interface. SST range is confined between 271.3K and 305K to give 288K mean.

The only sea surface exceeding 32C is the Persian Gulf because conditions there prevent the formation of CAPE. It is the only sub-tropical surface exceeding 27C that has not experienced cyclones in recorded history.

Wim Röst
Reply to  RickWill
November 9, 2020 4:04 pm

RickWill: “SST range is confined between 271.3K and 305K to give 288K mean”

WR: This is interesting, but fortuitous. During a glacial the average temperature of the Earth is several K lower and in a Hothouse situation several degrees higher.

The difference is made by a change in the distribution (of solar energy) and in the redistribution of (absorbed) energy over latitudes.

Reply to  Wim Röst
November 9, 2020 5:34 pm

You are right but those changes occur over hundreds of thousands of years or millions; driven by orbital changes and movement of land masses.

We know Antarctica was warmer when there was no ice in the southern Pacific before the southern ocean circulation began after Drakes Passage opened. Atlantic was cooler. We know that Eastern Australia received much more rainfall during that era. The average temperature of the Pacific was warmer but the tropical Pacific still did not exceed 32C because it cannot. There was little or no sea ice abutting the Pacific in Antarctica – trees grew there.

November 8, 2020 8:22 pm

Mid Holocene there was a step change during a time of climate transition … 4.7 ka.

Dr John McLean
November 8, 2020 8:47 pm

Interesting but …

1. It’s not easy to separate cause from consequence when dealing with the El Nino-Southern Oscillation.

2. Some of the change in thermocline depth in the tropics can be attributed to higher temperatures causing expansion of the water down to the thermocline.

3. The percentage of surface upwelling radiation that gets out to space is interesting but should also mention how much radiation is received at the various latitudes. And let’s not confuse intensity, in Watts/m^2 with the total because watts are joules/second and therefore there’s a time component involved. Taking longer to lose the same amount of heat would mean nothing more than a lower figure for watts/m^2.

4. Hadley Circulation (transmeridional – i.e. spreading tropical heat towards mid-latitudes in the NH in particular) increases during El Nino events and decreases during La Nina events. When heat is dispersed, the upwelling radiation is reduced (refer S-B law and note that T^4 causes the difference).

5. La Nina events don’t always follow El Nino events (e.g. 2015-16, 1982-83), nor do El Nino events always precede La Nina (e.g. 2010-11)

6. Determining what starts an El Nino event is interesting but with so many feedbacks supporting it there’s a question of why those events stop. This article suggests it’s a developing La Nina, but see 5 above. And the obvious follow-up question is what triggers a La Nina if it’s not an El Nino?

Reply to  Dr John McLean
November 9, 2020 12:15 am
November 8, 2020 9:09 pm

Nice article.
“My heresy is that I do not think that temperature is a linear function of greenhouse gas forcing”
I do not disagree with this challenge to the foundation of CAGW, but my position is more broad.
CAGW is a contrived political “package” involving many disputable components.
Whether we are a heretic or sceptic, we must fight on all fronts as well as the package as a whole.

November 8, 2020 9:21 pm

I am not very smart. Dropped out of school at 17. Joined the service, got out, got married, had child, blah, blah. How about this theory? When the oceans warm up, we have more hurricanes which suck up the heat, distribute it through winds and rain, thus trending more toward average (there being no ‘normal’). Then, when the oceans are cooler, there are fewer hurricanes, thus trending the oceans more toward average. Similar deal with tornadoes. Give it a thought?

Michael Hammer
November 8, 2020 9:26 pm

Complexity often depends on how one chooses to view a problem. In the case of CAGW the theory explicitly states rising CO2 warms the planet by reducing Earth’s energy loss to space. NASA has measured Earth’s energy loss to space since 1985 (outgoing longwave radiation or OLR for short) and it has been steadily rising not falling. If the predictions of a theory conflict with measured reality the theory is wrong. To me, it really is that simple!

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 9, 2020 3:31 am

Is your objection
“Mmmm … don’t think so.:
that OLR is not increasing or that increasing OLR is not in conflict with the green house effect hypothesis?
If OLR is increasing does that not mean that additional energy is being radiated away?
If additional energy is being radiated away should that not result in net cooling?
If not cooling, then additional energy is being radiated away (increasing OLR) but the earth is warming in spite of retaining less energy?

Michael Hammer
Reply to  AndyHce
November 9, 2020 1:49 pm

AndyHce; exactly. For Earth to warm energy in must be > energy loss. The CAGW claim was that GHG’s were reducing OLR but unfortunately the NASA data for the last 35 years shows OLR is rising not falling. If you look at the literature you will now find the warmist response is that the warming is actually due to a rise in absorbed solar radiation (ASR) but the AGW theory is still right! Why, because feedbacks convert a fall in OLR to a rise in ASR. At least GHG causing a fall in OLR had some established scientific basis but there is no such basis for claiming a rise in CO2 causes ASR to rise. Purely conjecture. Their claim seems to be that as Earth warms more water evaporates and that causes a drop in cloudiness hence a drop in albedo. Trouble with that is that more evaporation means more precipitation and rain only comes from low dense clouds so less cloud leads to more rain??????

Michael Hammer
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 9, 2020 1:38 pm

Willis, I am sorry but I must strongly disagree! Look at the Nimbus plot of energy loss to space, in the absence of GHG’s the energy loss would follow planks curve. Instead it shows large notches at the water vapour, CO2 and Ozone absorption wavelengths. The area under the emission curve is reduced (ie OLR in total is reduced). GHG’s block surface radiation and replace it with radiation from the top of the GHG column which is essentially the tropopause. This can be seen by the effective emission temperature (determined from Plank’s law assuming a near unity emissivity which for GHG is unquestionably correct). This tells us the altitude from which the emission is occurring.

Earth can only warm of energy in > energy out. You say GHG’s delay energy out but for how long. If it is only a delay then eventually energy out would rise back up to original levels and warming would stop. Also, if energy out is rising not falling, then what is driving the warming? Further, if you say GHG’s delay energy loss then surely that means that at least in the short term OLR should be reduced and falling further as GHG’s concentrations rise.

You say “However, this warms the earth, and when the earth warms, the total amount of LW energy lost from the surface increases, as does the total OLR.” So the delay reduces OLR short term? But the warming causes OLR to rise. SO GHG’s both reduce OLR and drive up OLR???? So ask yourself again, what is causing the warming, is it a fall in OLR or a rise in absorbed solar radiation (ASR)? If it is a rise in ASR how is CO2 responsible for that?

The branch of science underlying the action of green house gases is spectroscopy and this science clearly tells us that the initial action of GHG’s is to reduce OLR, it does not “delay” OLR. However that does not mean that the incremental impact is significant or will cause further warming. It all depends on the feedbacks. Oh and by the way, without green house gases there would be no weather on Earth, no rain, no wind no lapse rate and the surface temperature at the equator at noon would be above 100C! Sound farfetched, think about the atmosphere as a heat engine. Where is the necessary cold junction and how does it lose energy to space. If interested I have a short dissertation/analysis on the subject which I can post.

November 9, 2020 12:51 am

As I have said many times before, Willis’s description of emergent phenomena is absolutely right.
He just needs to extend his hypothesis to cover every density driven movement of gases and liquids within a gravitational field.
It even applies to convection within the solid material of the Earth’s mantle.
Once he does that, I would hope he would then see, that everything he describes is simply the system working in accordance with the broader hypothesis that I have been promulgating for years and which has now been set out in detail in the work of myself and Philip Mulholland.

Reply to  Stephen Wilde
November 9, 2020 1:16 am

The emergent property is way simpler than you think. The atmosphere moves into cloud burst mode when the TPW exceeds 30mm. It will go into daily burst mode once the TPW exceeds 38mm. This is observed in the tropics as monsoon. The resulting dense cloud is highly reflective and simply shades the surface to reduce heat input. Small reduction in OLR but massive increase in SWR.

Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) is a well known cause of cloud burst and is an essential ingredient for cyclone genesis and intensification. Cyclones can cool ocean surface by more than 3C during their passage. They knock out some 80% of the ToA insolation. Very powerful sun shades. More powerful than monsoon but not as consistent. Cyclones are the major relief valve that kick in when the SST increases to 27C at latitudes greater than 10 degrees, where Coriolis acceleration spins them up as they extinguish CAPE.

Reply to  RickWill
November 9, 2020 1:29 am

Absolutely. I have previously mentioned CAPE.
The space between molecules is full of it and the higher one travels the more there is.
CAPE is constantly being created from kinetic energy in uplift and converted back to kinetic energy in descent.

Reply to  Stephen Wilde
November 9, 2020 3:49 am

CAPE is created by the condensation above a level of of free convection. Any atmosphere that has more than 30mm TPW can produce CAPE. Once TPW exceeds 38mm then daily cloud burst is possible and the atmosphere will generate monsoonal cloud on a daily basis.

This is all that is needed to produce the highly reflective cloud that all but eliminates surface level insolation.

Reply to  Stephen Wilde
November 9, 2020 2:20 am

Very interesting – have you a link for the effect in the mantle?

November 9, 2020 1:25 am

As regards ENSO, the balance between El Nino and La Niña is solar driven because solar variations alter the gradient of tropopause height between equator and poles which alters the degree of jet stream variability and thus global cloudiness which then changes the amount of solar energy able to enter the oceans.
So, an active sun leads to more EL Ninos with global warming and a quiet sun leads to more La Ninas with global cooling.
However, the system cannot allow the hydrostatic equilibrium of the atmosphere to be destroyed so other emergent phenomena within the system change in order to ensure that energy in from space continues to match energy out to space.
In the end, the surface temperature for a planet with an atmosphere is governed by the mechanical process of convective overturning and not by back radiation from atmosphere to surface.
The radiative fluxes between surface and atmosphere are a consequence of those mechanical processes rather than a driver of them.
Willis correctly observes and describes the day to day features of the system in action.

A C Osborn
November 9, 2020 3:15 am

You could swear looking at Figure 1 that the world is Breathing.

Reply to  A C Osborn
November 9, 2020 3:32 am

“You could swear looking at Figure 1 that the world is Breathing”
And that is the view of the centre of her back.
Just imaging what the front view of her chest looks like.

Bloke back down the pub
November 9, 2020 3:41 am

Willis, as a mariner yourself, you’ll be aware of the Marpol annex 1 regulations which came into effect in October 1983 and since which there has, theoretically, been a reduction in the amount of oil floating on the surface of the oceans. Considering the known impact of oil in suppressing wave action and therefore of heat exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere, has this been taken into account in global climate modelling? Would its impact be noticeable in any sea surface temperature datasets?

Reply to  Bloke back down the pub
November 9, 2020 5:17 am

Bloke back down the pub,

I love questions like yours -its a matter of working out the scale. So here goes.
Surface Area of planet Earth 510,000,000 Sq Km (plus a bit).
There are 5 recognised oceans that make up the World Ocean, these are in order of size:
The Pacific, the Atlantic, the Indian, the Southern and the Arctic Oceans.
Two of these are ice covered (for at least part of the year) so let’s just look at the 3 ice-free oceans.

The Pacific, Atlantic (include the bits on the side like the Mediterranean Sea) and the Indian Ocean have a total surface area of 300,800,000 Sq Km (plus a bit).
OK now let’s look at the oil question. A sheen of oil on the surface of water is typically 1 micron thick (1 millionth of a metre). So, to cover all of the 3 ice-free oceans with a film of oil 1 micron thick we are going to need 300,800,000 cubic metres of oil.

Now where do we get that oil from? Well if we assume that the are 500,000 barrels of oil in a supertanker and that volume is 58,674 cubic meters, then we require 5,128 tankers to deliver the required oil volume to the surface of the 3 oceans. In 2010 the world tanker fleet was 11,127 vessels.
So, in order to cover the 3 world oceans with a sheen of oil 1 micron thick we need to deposit a volume of oil equivalent to that carried by just under half (0.46) of the total world tanker fleet.
The world is a big place and of course pollution is bad, but sometimes we think that we are more important than we actually are.

Reply to  Philip Mulholland
November 9, 2020 12:42 pm

“The world is a big place and of course pollution is bad, but sometimes we think that we are more important than we actually are.”

You forgot to mention that oil is a natural substance that is eaten by microorganisms, so that to keep and oil slick, you have to have all those tankers continuing to dump repeatedly.

It is city dwellers who see the world as limited by their footprint. Here the municipality was required to build a caisson around a new boat ramp, specifically to prevent leaching of fresh concrete into the ocean. Boat ramps cast between neep tides last for many decades, so the concrete itself does not have to be protected for weeks.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 9, 2020 3:37 pm

Thanks Willis,
Estimation is a critical part of science and it needs to be applied much more often.

Leif Svalgaard
November 9, 2020 3:41 am

Probably anything but CO2.

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
November 9, 2020 10:33 am

Like the Sun.

November 9, 2020 7:37 am

During periods of low solar activity, the effects of La Niña in the Northern Hemisphere are stronger because of the meridional jetstream.
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The solar wind is still very weak as indicated by the high level of galactic radiation.
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November 9, 2020 7:48 am

Typical impacts of La Niña on U.S. winter temperature and precipitation. Such impacts have been associated with past episodes, but all impacts aren’t seen with every episode. NOAA drawing by Fiona Martin.
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November 9, 2020 8:24 am

During periods of low solar activity, the temperature in the North Atlantic is more closely related to the meridional jetstream than to La Niña.
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November 9, 2020 8:31 am

Observe how the winter polar vortex works in the lower stratosphere. This determines the circulation in the upper troposphere.
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November 9, 2020 8:52 am

I dont think it is pseudorandom, nor cancels to zero. It has a bimodal length between solar min el ninos similar to the sun (~10.4/12.1 yrs).
With the enso index positive meandering during solar max and el ninos at polar magnetic flip, it is why finding the elusive 11yr cycle is difficult. it is twice as frequent (the pulses into the atlantic).

Reply to  edwardt
November 9, 2020 9:54 am


Reply to  ren
November 9, 2020 4:57 pm

i will never look at enso the same again after overlaying the two images. the sun is the controlling mechanism in some unknown way (geomagntic probably). if you look at the pdo and the pulses into the atlantic, when cycle lengths is 10.4yrs, you cant see the individual pulses for solar min/max, but when the length is 12.1yrs, you can clearly see min/max pulses. the ocean time constant is longer than the short cycle, so those 3c transients result in 0.1c/decade imo.

November 9, 2020 8:53 am

Thanks for this useful article on emergent phenomena.
Figure 10 about the amount of radiated heat escaping with latitude, rang a bell in my memory about a paper I read this year on the subject of “why leaves are green”.
The paper by Trevor Arp in Science this year is entitled: “Quieting a noisy antenna reproduces photosynthetic light harvesting spectra.”

Why the link? Well figure 10 above shows that emitted radiant heat has its lowest “percent making it to space” at the equator where the heat and light are most intense. The peaks of transmission efficiency of heat to space is at the poles, where of course the heat and light are minimum.

This is analagous to the reason why leaves are green (or occasionally purple). It’s not intuitive why photosynthesis should be associated with green structures, since green is near the middle of the visible spectrum and associated with the most energetic band of potential absorption of light energy. So if the goal was to absorb the most light energy, green would not be the chosen colour – it would want to accept, not reject, the optimal green-yellow photons. But it turns out that maximising light intake is not the goal. In a really interesting piece of science, Arp et al show that the priority is stabilising energy input where incident sunlight intensity can vary rapidly over a wide range – think of a leaf swaying on a branch in a crowded forest or thicket. Avoiding the danger of saturation and too much energy turns out to be as important as overall efficiency.

Anyway in a nutshell, leaves being green and having maximal absorption in two peaks that are away from the maximum of spectral energy, allows the photosynthesis system as a whole to have the best adaptiveness to changes between high and low incident intensity. So the spectrum of light absorption for green photosysnthesis looks similar to figure 10 where emission of light to space is maximised near the poles, not at the equator where the energy supply is most intense.

It looks like both the transmission percent to space with latitude and the photosynthetic spectrum of used light energy have twin peaks, away from the most energetic part of the spectrum and separate from eachother. This twin peaks away from the maximum pattern seems to be one that maximises adaptiveness.

So adaptiveness could be the goal that the system optimises rather than pure rate of energy throughput, thus efficiency is diminished at the energy peak and maximised at twin peaks away from the maximum. Photosynthesis wants a controllable input of energy without damaging excursions of saturation and oxidation. And the climate “wants” to regulate energy output to achieve a stability and homeostasis in the climate also – as an emergent property or attractor.

Just a thought, does this make sense?

Reply to  Phil Salmon
November 9, 2020 9:18 am

Thpis is not surprising as the troposphere above the polar circle is very thin, especially in winter.
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Reply to  ren
November 9, 2020 10:13 am

It is not surprising that the radiation into space is stronger at high latitudes. The weaker the polar vortex, the stronger it is.

Wim Röst
Reply to  ren
November 9, 2020 5:35 pm


WR: interesting. All (warm) convection over the North Pole (low quantity of sea ice, high water vapor, low pressure areas, high convection) results in lower actual stratospheric temperatures.

My guess: the intrusion of water vapor into the stratosphere has a cooling effect: extra water molecules radiate at more wavelengths not intercepted by CO2: more stratospheric cooling. The gradient with the surface becomes enhanced.

Reply to  Phil Salmon
November 9, 2020 9:25 am

In winter, it is difficult to establish the boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere. Both interpenetrate. Ozone from above, water vapor from below. It is different on the equator.
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Steve Ferwerda
November 9, 2020 9:55 am

Willis, take a look at the etymology of “heretic.” Do you realize that it is:

Latin from Greek hairetikos ‘able to choose’

Dave Fair
November 9, 2020 11:00 am

Thanks for the good work, Willis! Bob Tisdale’s ( extensive ENSO discussions leads one to a similar place. I recommend his books to everybody – most are free. Please donate to support his ongoing work.

Thomas Gasloli
November 9, 2020 11:09 am

Bravo! This isn’t heresy, this is science.
Thank you very much.

Gary Ashe
November 9, 2020 12:05 pm

Heres an idea Willis.

Why not stop using the false marxist term greenhouse gases, and instead use the correct terms of either condensing gases or optically active gases, you know go all 20th century modern science on their asses..

Bob Smith
November 9, 2020 1:17 pm


Again a great post. The ability to communicate a complex subject clearly and effectively is a gift. The gift is revealed by the reaction elicited. You consistently push the debate towards physical reality and the pursuit of underlying truths. Thank you.

Michael Hammer
November 9, 2020 2:00 pm

A very long comment I know, apologies but I though some might find it of interest

I repeatedly hear comments from warmists that if there were no greenhouse gases in the atmosphere the earth would be 33C colder than it is at present. That comment makes me very angry because it is utter bunk. Any half way competent scientist MUST know this so saying it is a clear act of deceit . Consider;
Earth’s atmosphere generates mechanical energy. It raises water to high altitudes powering hydroelectric generators, while wind can blow down trees and buildings, raise waves and drive wind turbines. So, where does this energy come from? Clearly from absorbed solar energy. That means earth’s surface and atmosphere is converting thermal energy into mechanical energy, the definition of a classic heat engine. Heat engines are governed by very well understood natural laws. A working fluid (in this case the atmosphere) cycles between a hot junction (where heat enters the system and is injected into the working fluid) and a separate cold junction (where heat is extracted from the working fluid and leaves the system). The maximum efficiency possible is the carnot efficiency ((Thot-Tcold)/Thot). Typically the hot junction is the hottest point in the system and the cold junction is the coldest point in the system.
In the case of earth, the hot junction is clearly earths’s surface and especially the surface in the tropics but where is the cold junction? There are 2 candidates, the first is the tropopause and the second is the poles. However the working fluid has to cycle between the hot and cold junction and because the earth is a rotating sphere the atmosphere rising at the equator cannot get to the poles. Firstly air rising at the equator is moving at the speed of earth’s surface 1600 km/hour but as it tries to move towards the poles the radius of rotation of the surface and thus the surface velocity is reducing. The equatorial air, moving faster, is thrown outwards in the plane of rotation. That can be resolved into an outward force normal to Earth’s surface and a force tangential to the surface pushing the air back towards the equator. It is why we do not have an equator to pole circulation but instead 3 coupled circulations – the Hadley cell, the Ferrel cell and the Polar cell. The second reason is that even if the equatorial air could get to the pole it would have to descend to transfer heat energy to the surface but if the pole is the cold junction by definition the pole would be colder than the descending air so there would be a temperature inversion inhibiting the air from falling. The cold junction of our climate heat engine is the tropopause not the poles.
Given the cold junction is the tropopause, heat energy must be leaving the working fluid to space (ie the atmosphere) at this point and that is only possible by radiation. However, by definition a gas capable of radiating thermal infrared radiation is a green house gas. If there are no green house gases the tropopause cannot radiate energy so a necessary requirement for a heat engine is not met. In practical terms, the rising air cannot cool so it cannot lose energy which it needs to do in order to descend again. Thus convection stops and with time the entire atmosphere becomes vertically isothermal. Water vapour cannot condense because it needs to lose energy to do so (lose energy to where?) thus no clouds would form. If there is no condensation there can also be no evaporation otherwise the oceans would end up in the sky, the entire atmosphere would become saturated with respect to water vapour. Without convection no dust would be raised and what was in the atmosphere would eventually settle out so the sky would probably not be blue but closer to black. There would be no clouds, no wind, no rain, no significant waves on water, a completely static vertically isothermal atmosphere. The temperature would vary with latitude according to the solar energy absorbed by the surface at that latitude. Given a near transparent atmosphere Earth’s albedo would be close to the surface reflectivity. That is 70% water with a reflectivity of about 0.04.
In near Earth space the solar energy intensity is 1370 watts/sqM. For the Earth as a whole the average solar energy at the surface is 1370/4 * (1- albedo) but at the equator it is 1370/pi *(1-albedo) which, in the absence of convection will be close to 430 watts/sqM- maybe around 400 watts/sqM. Applying the Stefan Boltzmann law gives a surface temperature of 290K or 17C. Worse however, during the day the peak energy reaches close to 1300 watts/sqM (at noon). The surface temperature will depend on the thermal time constant but if you think about how hot beach sand, exposed concrete, metal surfaces can get on a warm summers day that time constant can be quite short- well under 1 hour. Again from Stefan Boltzmann law the temperature of those surfaces could then get to 389K or 116C. The air over those surface would be heated and rise. Of course at night the surface cools considerably but that creates a temperature inversion precluding convection and in the absence of green house gases the hot atmosphere could only cool by conduction back to the surface. Conductive heat transfer in air is extremely slow, much slower than convection. The atmosphere would end up at an equilibrium temperature much closer to the noon surface temperature than the average temperature! At such temperatures and without any rainfall land life would be very unlikely to exist or endure. Ocean life could possibly still be OK.
Due to the day/night surface temperature variation there could still be some conductive heat transfer allowing dew to form at night and some corresponding evaporation during the day but the effect would be tiny and limited to only the air very close to the surface. Dew but no rain.
Of course, away from the equator the temperature would not be quite as extreme but even where I am at latitude 37 south, the temperature inside a closed car in summer, which heats up because convection is prevented, can and alas too often does kill children in minutes (60C+)!!! This is not conjecture or modelling it is sadly proven fact. Without convection, the entire environment at that latitude would be in the same position as a closed car.
Without greenhouse gases the earth would not be 33C colder. Much of the atmosphere and land mass would be far hotter at least in summer (60% of Earth’s surface area lies between latitude 37N and 37S). Temperatures which really would destroy life on Earth.
Very often, looking at an issue from a different perspective can give new illuminating insights. Looking at the atmosphere from the perspective of heat engine seems to be such a case.

Wim Röst
Reply to  Michael Hammer
November 9, 2020 5:59 pm

Just a tip: leaving some space between the paragraphs makes the story [much] more readable.

November 9, 2020 2:58 pm

Current big fall in SOI.
Temporary or is the hoped for big La Nina over?
The prediction graphs lagging the reality as usual.

Reply to  angech
November 10, 2020 12:27 am

This is the result of the jet stream meandering with a longer decrease in solar wind speed. When solar activity increases, the situation will change. This may be an indication that a weak solar cycle will extend La Niña as it did El Niño.
“Pump” in the equatorial Pacific pumping poorly when geomagnetic activity is low.
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If you look at the daily SOI values, you can clearly see strong jumps.
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November 10, 2020 7:39 am

To understand why the radiation at high latitudes must be strong in winter, one must be aware that in winter the stratosphere meets the troposphere.

Reply to  ren
November 10, 2020 8:53 am

“To understand why the radiation at high latitudes must be strong in winter, one must be aware that in winter the stratosphere meets the troposphere”
Nice point.

Mickey Reno
November 10, 2020 2:48 pm

Willis, you’re a voice of sanity in a mostly insane area of alleged science. The best representative samples of climate change observations show CO2 concentrations to be a following trend of temperature (warming and cooling due to whatever reasons are actually causing the warming and cooling, mostly thought to be Milankovic orbital cycles, but other cycles too, primarily ones related to ocean convection) and yet so many bozos will claim CO2 concentrations as the primary driver. Until we fully understand NATURAL climate change, we are crazy to pretend to understand minor fluctuations that occur in an interstadial period such as the one we’re in. And basing conclusions on 30 blips of time is even more crazy. Who dreamed this crap up? Tim Wirth and James Hanson, Michael Mann and Phil Jones, Ben Santer and Josh Willis will burn in hell, if there is any justice in heaven (if heaven exists, of course).

Stay sane everyone. Heh heh, and don’t punch your ticket to hell by lying about shit you don’t really understand. Don’t be a Climate Scientologist.

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