Potential Climatic Variables Page

Compiled by WUWT regular “Just The Facts”

This list of Potential Climatic Variables was built with the help of a multitude of WUWT reader comments, beginning on this thread on January, 15th 2011, and growing on January 22nd, 2011, February 10th, 2011, February 28th, 2011, June 30th, 2011 and January 21st, 2012. Your help in continuing to build this list would be most appreciated. Please take a look through the list below and note in comments if you have any additions, suggestions or corrections.

Wikipedia Warning: The list relies heavily upon Wikipedia due to the fact that it is the only source that offers reasonably coherent content on such broad range of subjects. However, there are known issues with Wikpedia’s content, especially biases in their climate articles. As such, please take care to view any Wikipedia articles with a critical eye and check Wikipedia’s references to evaluate the credibility of their sources. Additionally, in comments, please provide your suggestions of articles from alternate sources that can be added to this list in order to help readers to easily verify the veracity of the Wikipedia articles within.

1. Earth’s Rotational Energy;




results in day and night;


causes the Coriolis Effect;


imparts Planetary Vorticity on the oceans;


and manifests as Ocean Gyres;


the Antarctic Circumpolar Current;



Arctic Ocean Circulation;



can result in the formation of Polynya;


and causes the Equatorial Bulge:


Earth’s Rotational Energy influences Atmospheric Circulation;


including the Jet Stream;






Geostrophic Wind;


Surface Currents;



through Ekman Transport;



Tropical Cyclones;


possibly Tornadoes;


however, Windows To The Universe states that, “because there are records of anticyclonic tornadoes, scientists don’t think that the Coriolis Effect causes the rotations.”;


and Polar Vortices;



which “are caused when an area of low pressure sits at the rotation pole of a planet. This causes air to spiral down from higher in the atmosphere, like water going down a drain.”


Here’s an animation of the Arctic Polar Vortex in Winter 2008 – 09:

When a Polar Vortex splits or breaks down it can cause a Sudden Stratospheric Warming:



Rossby Waves;


are a subset of Inertial Waves:


“Atmospheric Rossby Waves emerge due to shear in rotating fluids, so that the Coriolis force changes along the sheared coordinate. In planetary atmospheres, they are due to the variation in the Coriolis effect with latitude.1” “Atmospheric Rossby waves are giant meanders in high-altitude winds that are a major influence on weather”1 and “are principally responsible for the Brewer-Dobson circulation”;



Atmospheric Rossby Waves “are not to be confused with Oceanic Rossby Waves, which move along the thermocline: that is, the boundary between the warm upper layer of the ocean and the cold deeper part of the ocean.” “Oceanic Rossby waves are thought to communicate climatic changes due to variability in forcing, due to both the wind and buoyancy. Both barotropic and baroclinic waves cause variations of the sea surface height, although the length of the waves made them difficult to detect until the advent of satellite altimetry. Baroclinic waves also generate significant displacements of the oceanic thermocline, often of tens of meters. Satellite observations have revealed the stately progression of Rossby waves across all the ocean basins, particularly at low- and mid-latitudes. These waves can take months or even years to cross a basin like the Pacific.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rossby_wave

Earth’s Rotational Energy influences Plate Tectonics;


“By analyzing the minute changes in travel times and wave shapes for each doublet, the researchers concluded that the Earth’s inner core is rotating faster than its surface by about 0.3-0.5 degrees per year.

That may not seem like much, but it’s very fast compared to the movement of the Earth’s crust, which generally slips around only a few centimeters per year compared to the mantle below, said Xiaodong Song, a geologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an author on the study.


The surface movement is called plate tectonics. It involves the shifting of about a dozen major plates and is what causes most earthquakes”;




and Mountain Formation;


which can create Mountain Jets;


and influence the creation of Atmospheric Waves:


Rotational Energy is the primary driver of Earth’s Dynamo;


which generates Earth’s Magnetic Field;


and is primarily responsible for the Earthly behaviors of the Magnetosphere;


with certain secular variations in Earth’s magnetic field originating from ocean flow/circulation;



though Leif Svalgaard notes that these are minor variations, as the magnetic field originating from ocean flow/circulation “is 1000 times smaller than the main field generated in the core.”


Earth’s Rotation results in the Equatorial Anomaly;



which is “characterized as the occurrence of a trough in the ionization concentration at the equator and crests at about 17o in magnetic latitude [Appleton, 1946] in each hemisphere, the equatorial anomaly has been well described as arising from the electrodynamics at the equator. Tidal oscillations in the lower ionosphere move plasma across the magnetic field lines which are horizontal at the magnetic equator. The resulting E-region dynamo sets up a intense current sheet referred to as the equatorial electrojet. The zonal current flows eastward during the day and westward at night. Since an electric field is established perpendicular to the magnetic field an ExB/B2 drift moves the ionization vertically upwards during the day and downwards at night. The upward motion of ionization during the day is termed the equatorial fountain, since ionization rises above the magnetic equator until pressure forces become appreciable that it slows down and under the force of gravity moves along the field lines and is deposited at higher tropical latitudes. The resulting enhancement of ionization at tropical latitudes and a trough in ionization concentration at the magnetic equator is termed of the equatorial anomaly. Since Martyn [1955] first put down the electrodynamic drift theory, many theoretical investigations have verified that this theory is a plausible explanation of the formation of the equatorial anomaly [Townsend 1982; Kelly 1989; Balan and Bailey 1995 and references therein].

The equatorial anomaly is often not symmetrical about the magnetic equator due to the interaction of the neutral wind. The asymmetry tends to produce the largest peaks in the winter season, since the neutral winds usually cause plasma to be pushed from the summer to the winter hemisphere. Also due to the declination of the earth’s magnetic field, the characteristics of the anomaly regions differ with longitudes.”

Earth Core Changes:


appear “to be generated in the Earth’s core by a dynamo process, associated with the circulation of liquid metal in the core, driven by internal heat sources”. “Molten iron flowing in the outer core generates the Earth’s geodynamo, leading to a planetary-scale magnetic field. Beyond this, though, geophysicists know very little for certain about the field, such as its strength in the core or why its orientation fluctuates regularly. Researchers do suspect, however, that field variations are strongly linked with changing conditions within the molten core.” These core changes

influence Earth’s Magnetic Field, including movement of the Geomagnetic Poles:



Also of note, “Over millions of years, [Earth’s] rotation is significantly slowed by gravitational interactions with the Moon: see tidal acceleration.”


“Tidal acceleration is an effect of the tidal forces between an orbiting natural satellite (e.g. the Moon), and the primary planet that it orbits (e.g. the Earth). The “acceleration” is usually negative, as it causes a gradual slowing and recession of a satellite in a prograde orbit away from the primary, and a corresponding slowdown of the primary’s rotation. The process eventually leads to tidal locking of first the smaller, and later the larger body. The Earth-Moon system is the best studied case.”

“The presence of the moon (which has about 1/81 the mass of the Earth), is slowing Earth’s rotation and lengthening the day by about 2 ms every one hundred years.”

Lastly Length of Day (LOD);


“varies when any mass on or in the Earth moves, affecting the state of its angular momentum. Take weather in the atmosphere, for instance. The seasonal changes in the trade winds and monsoons have a well-known effect on the length-of-day over the course of the year. The IERS calculates the angular momentum of the whole atmosphere every six hours, allowing the signal of large-scale weather systems to be detected.

The tides of the ocean have the long-term effect of slowing the Earth down and speeding up the Moon (which thus moves away from Earth a few centimeters per year). They also have short-term effects that are being modeled more accurately all the time. Changes in ocean currents change the length-of-day. Our computer models of ocean circulation are getting good enough, thanks to centimeter-precise measurements of the sea surface, that we can analyze this signal too. The National Earth Orientation Service has a page explaining this stuff in clear detail. (These are also the people who announce leap seconds.)

Other factors affecting the LOD data include rises and subsidences of the land surface, the buildup of glaciers, large earthquakes, large-scale pumping of groundwater and construction of reservoirs, and the shape of the ocean’s surface in response to air masses above it.”

and slightly from the accumulated mass of incoming space debris:


“The last level of variation, a slow drift on the decade scale, seems to be related to the motion of liquid iron in the Earth’s core. This layer allows the solid inner core to rotate freely with respect to the outer mantle and crust. Thus every twist and torque exerted by the atmosphere, oceans, Moon, Sun, other planets and the rest of the universe stirs that inner iron ocean, affecting the great dynamo that drives the Earth’s magnetic field.”


“An analysis of time variations in the earth’s length of day (LOD) for 25 years (1973–1998) versus atmospheric circulation changes and lunar phase is presented. It is found that, on the average, there is a 27.3-day and 13.6-day period oscillation in global zonal wind speed, atmospheric geopotential height, and LOD following alternating changes in lunar phase. Every 5–9 days (6.8 days on average), the fields of global atmospheric zonal wind and geopotential height and LOD undergo a sudden change in relation to a change in lunar declination. The observed atmospheric oscillation with this time period may be viewed as a type of atmospheric tide.”


“The third important index is Length of Day (LOD) – a geophysical index that characterizes variation in the earth rotational velocity. Full time series of LOD cover more than 350 years, with the most reliable data obtained in the last 150 years (Stephenson and Morrison 1995). The long-term LOD dynamics is in close correlation with the dynamics of the main commercial fish stocks (Klyashtorin and Sidorenkov 1996).”


“When detrended, the graphs of -LOD and dT are very similar in shape, and it is clear that -LOD runs several years ahead of dT, especially in its maxima. Shifting the -LOD curve by 6 years to the right (Figure 2.2b) results in almost complete coincidence of the corresponding maxima of the early 1870s, late 1930s, and middle of 1990s (Klyashtorin et al. 1998).”

“Often the movements of the moon transiting the West Coast are accompanied by a shift in the jet stream to the south as the moon passes the coast. This gives the appearance that the southward motion in latitude is accompanied by a southward motion in the jet stream. This is not always the case due to a number of other patterns but it can be thought of as a general rule of thumb.”


Earth’s rotation is slowing “due to a transfer of Earth’s rotational momentum to the Moon’s orbital momentum as tidal friction slows the Earth’s rotation. That increase in the Moon’s speed is causing it to slowly recede from Earth (about 4 cm per year), increasing its orbital period and the length of a month as well.” “The slowing rotation of the Earth results in a longer day as well as a longer month. Once the length of a day equals the length of a month, the tidal friction mechanism will cease. (ie. Once your speed on the track matches the speed of the horses, you can’t gain any more speed with your lasso trick.) That’s been projected to happen once the day and month both equal about 47 (current) days, billions of years in the future. If the Earth and Moon still exist, the Moon’s distance will have increased to about 135% of its current value.”


“However some large scale events, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, have caused the rotation to speed up by around 3 microseconds.[21] Post-glacial rebound, ongoing since the last Ice age, is changing the distribution of the Earth’s mass thus affecting the Moment of Inertia of the Earth and, by the Conservation of Angular Momentum, the Earth’s rotation period.”


In this paper, “Are Changes in the Earth’s Rotation Rate Externally Driven and Do They Affect Climate?”, by Ian R. G. Wilson, the General Science Journal, 2011, “evidence is presented to show that the phases of two of the Earth’s major climate systems, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), are related to changes in the Earth’s rotation rate. We find that the winter NAO index depends upon the time rate of change of the Earth’s length of day (LOD). In addition, we find that there is a remarkable correlation between the years where the phase of the PDO is most positive and the years where the deviation of the Earth’s LOD from its long-term trend is greatest.”


In this paper, “On the correlation between air temperature and the core Earth processes: Further investigations using a continuous wavelet analysis” by Stefano Sello, Mathematical and Physical Models, 2011;


The authors main results are: ”…the detection of a broadband variability centered at 78 yr (common variability ranges from 67 to 86 yr from SSA method). Oscillations in global temperatures with periods in the 65-70 yr are well known. Our work suggests that the same core processes that are known to affect Earth’s rotation and magnetic field may also contribute to the excitation of such modes, possibly through geomagnetic modulation of near-Earth charged particle fluxes that may influence cloud nucleation processes, and hence the planetary albedo, on regional as well as global scales.”

2. Orbital Energy, Orbital Period, Orbital Spiral, Elliptical Orbits (Eccentricity), Tilt (Obliquity), Wobble (Axial precession) and Polar Motion;




creates Earth’s seasons;


which drives annual changes in Arctic Sea Ice;

and Antarctic Sea Ice;

the freezing and melting of which helps to drive the Thermohaline Circulation;


and can result in the formation of Polynyas:


Earth’s orbit around the Sun, Earth’s tilt, Earth’s wobble and the Moon’s orbit around Earth, Earth’s Rotation, and the gravity of the Moon, Sun and Earth, act in concert to determine the constantly evolving Tidal Force on Earth:


This Tidal Force is influenced by variations in Lunar Orbit;


as seen in the Lunar Phases;


Lunar Precession;


Lunar Node;


Saros cycles;


and Inex cycles:


The combined cycles of the Saros and Inex Cycles can be visualized here:


Keeling and TWhorf propose in Geophysics, 2000 “that such abrupt millennial changes, seen in ice and sedimentary core records, were produced in part by well characterized, almost periodic variations in the strength of the global oceanic tide-raising forces caused by resonances in the periodic motions of the earth and moon. A well defined 1,800-year tidal cycle is associated with gradually shifting lunar declination from one episode of maximum tidal forcing on the centennial time-scale to the next. An amplitude modulation of this cycle occurs with an average period of about 5,000 years, associated with gradually shifting separation-intervals between perihelion and syzygy at maxima of the 1,800-year cycle. We propose that strong tidal forcing causes cooling at the sea surface by increasing vertical mixing in the oceans. On the millennial time-scale, this tidal hypothesis is supported by findings, from sedimentary records of ice-rafting debris, that ocean waters cooled close to the times predicted for strong tidal forcing.”


“When perigee, perihelion, and either the new or full moon occur at approximately the same time, considerably increased tidal ranges result. When apogee, aphelion, and the first- or third-quarter moon coincide at approximately the same time, considerably reduced tidal ranges will normally occur.”

“Lunar Declination Effects: The Diurnal Inequality. The plane of the moon’s orbit is inclined only about 5 degrees to the plane of the earth’s orbit (the ecliptic) and thus the moon monthly revolution around the earth remains very close to the ecliptic. The ecliptic is inclined 23.5 degrees to the earth’s equator, north and south of which the sun moves once each half year to produce the seasons. In similar fashion, the moon, in making a revolution around the earth once each month, passes from a position of maximum angular distance north of the equator to a position of maximum angular distance south of the equator during each half month. (Angular distance perpendicularly north and south of the celestial equator is termed declination.) twice each month, the moon crosses the equator.”


Richard Holle argues that “The solar wind inductive effects, drive the lunar declinational movement, which in turn drives the atmospheric declinational tides. The declinational movement of the Moon hangs at the culmination almost three days, as the polarity of the solar wind peaks and reverses. This produces the surges in the meridional flow, visible in the satellite photos as turbulence.”

“The Metonic cycle is a 19-year period when the lunar declination is at the culmination of movement on the same date as it was 19 years ago, as well as the same light phase. The Saros cycle is ~17 days longer than 18 years, and it is a repeating pattern of the position of the Earth / Moon and inner planets due to harmonic interactions, causing the Solar / lunar eclipses to repeat predictably at this period. The 18.6 year Mn cyclic patterns of the variation of the moon’s declinational movement result from the progression of the nodes that varies the declinational angle from the ~18.5 degrees minimum to ~28.5 maximum.”


“Moon’s influence upon the Jet stream via declination. Often the movements of the moon transiting the West Coast are accompanied by a shift in the jet stream to the south as the moon passes the coast. This gives the appearance that the southward motion in latitude is accompanied by a southward motion in the jet stream. This is not always the case due to a number of other patterns but it can be thought of as a general rule of thumb.

The phenomenon of the effects of declination on the jet stream of the eastern Pacific can be related to the work of a Chinese researcher LI Guoqing of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, in Beijing. The paper entitled, 27.3 and 13.6 day Atmospheric Tide and Lunar Forcing on Atmospheric Circulation [PDF] researches the influence of the earth’s length of day (LOD) in relation to the geopotential height of the 500mb fields in the eastern Pacific and the declination of the moon. It was found that there is an alternating increase and decrease in geopotential height in the eastern Pacific in approximately seven day cycles that are keyed not to the phases of the moon but to the declination of the moon…”


Nicola Scafetta, argues that “The 9.1-year cycle is shown to be likely related to a decadal Soli/Lunar tidal oscillation, while the 10–10.5, 20–21 and 60–62 year cycles are synchronous to solar and heliospheric planetary oscillations.


Dr. Scafetta’s study applies an astronomically-based model that reconstructs and correlates known warming and cooling phases with decadal and multi-decadal cycles associated with influences of planetary motions, most particularly those of Jupiter and Saturn. This “astronomical harmonics model” was used to address various cycles lasting 9.1, 10-10.5, 20-21, and 60-62 year-long periods. The 9.1-year cycle was shown to be likely related to decadal solar/lunar tidal oscillations, while those of ten years and longer duration relate to planetary movements about the Sun that may have solar influences that modulate electromagnetic properties of Earth’s upper atmosphere which can regulate the cloud system.


He has argued in his “previous papers that the available climatic data would suggest an astronomical modulation of the cloud cover that would induce small oscillations in the albedo which, consequently, would cause oscillations in the surface temperature also by modulating ocean oscillations”


Per Klyahtorin and Lyubushin’s book, “Cyclical Climate Changes and Fish Productivity”, “for the recent 1500 years the predominant periodicity of climatic fluctuations was ~60 years, varying from 55 to 76 years. The second periodicity of these climate changes, by intensity, is about 30 years, but it is practically unobserved in the available multiyear series of commercial catches. The intensity of the ~60-year predominant periodicity increases continuously within the recent 500–1000 years, reaching its maximum at the end of the 20th century. We therefore hypothesize that, it will remain the predominant period for at least the next 100 years.”


“Past studies have detected an 1500-year climate cycle in various types of Pleistocene geologic or ice deposits. It has been proposed that a 1470-year cycle fits the Pleistocene Dansgaard–Oeschger (DO) oscillations and can be explained by a threshold model with forcing. We used nine temperature reconstructions to see if this cycle exists during the Holocene. All these data sets, except Greenland Holocene data, can be fit by models close to a 1470-year period or are compatible to such a model, or can be fit by cycles near 1200 years, both of which can be related to solar forcing. These results lend support to the nonlinear threshold model for initiation of Pleistocene DO events and suggest that this periodic climate signal has continued into the Holocene, but with reduced magnitude.”


“The inertial motion of the Sun around the Barycentre, or centre of mass, of the Solar System”




“has been employed as the base in searching for possible influence of the Solar System as a whole on climatic processes, especially on the changes in surface air temperature. A basic cycle of about 180–200 years and its higher harmonics up to 30 years have been found in surface air temperature of central Europe since 1753, established from 13 continuous instrumental time series. These periods correspond to the periods of solar inertial motion. In the first half of the 19th century, when the solar motion was chaotic, this temperature was about 0.75°C lower than that in the 20th (1940–50) and the 18th (1760–70) centuries. The mentioned decades of long-term temperature maxima coincide with the central decades of the ordered (trefoil) motion of the Sun. The temperatures in coastal Europe have been found to have slightly different properties, especially on a long-time scale. The periods of 35–45 years are significantly pronounced in the coastal Europe temperature spectrum. The chaotic motion of the Sun in the next decades could decrease both the solar forcing and global surface air temperature”


In Ed Fix’s paper, “The Relationship of Sunspot Cycles to Gravitational Stresses on the Sun: Results of a Proof-of-Concept Simulation” he presents what he believes to be “a new approach to linking the motion of the sun around the barycenter of the solar system to the sunspot cycle.”



“Earth’s Spiral Path – Conventional illustrations show the earth orbiting around a static sun. This is misleading. First, the sun wobbles through a tube of space and not along a smooth path at a constant velocity. Second, the earth orbits the solar system’s centre of mass (SSCM) and not the sun’s centre of mass. The earth therefore follows a spiral path as it moves through space. This is illustrated in figure 7. (It is important to note that the scales in the figures are highly compressed so that they can fit.) The tube in the middle represents the volume of space that the sun revolves in and is about 3,7 106 km in diameter. The ecliptic plane is at a 45° angle to the line of movement. The earth to sun distance (the chord length) varies, depending on where the sun is located in the tube. While the paths of the sun and the earth are closely linked as they move through space, the changing relative positions result in corresponding changes in the distance between them.”

“Influence of the planets – Figure 8 shows the path of the combined centre of mass of the four major planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, relative to the SSCM for the period 1978–2006. Visualise the three-dimensional view of this figure with the orbit path spiraling towards the viewer.

Starting in 1978, the orbit maintains a nearly constant distance from the SSCM. In 1985 the orbit starts moving closer to the central point occupied by the SSCM. It swings around the SSCM, reaching its closest position in 1990. It then spirals away from the SSCM until 1994. From 1995 through to 2000 there is little change in the displacement from the SSCM. From 2001 through to 2006 it makes another approach to the SSCM. The sun follows a weighted reciprocal path but its centre of mass is much closer to the SSCM. It also accelerates and decelerates synchronously but moves in the opposite

direction in order to maintain the system in equilibrium.”

Page 41, Fig 7s and 8 are helpful in visualizing it: http://www.solarchords.com/uploaded/82/87-37334-450006_53alexanderetal2007.pdf

Polar Motion;


“of the earth is the movement of Earth’s rotational axis across its surface.” “The polar motion is primarily due to Free Core Nutation and the Chandler Wobble.

The Chandler Wobble;


“is a small motion in the Earth’s axis of rotation relative to the Earth’s surface, which was discovered by American astronomer Seth Carlo Chandler in 1891. It amounts to 9 metres (30 ft)[citation needed] on the Earth’s surface and has a period of 433 days. This wobble combines with another wobble with a period of one year so that the total polar motion varies with a period of about 7 years.”

“The wobble’s amplitude has varied since its discovery, reaching its largest size in 1910 and fluctuating noticeably from one decade to another. While it has to be maintained by changes in the mass distribution or angular momentum of the Earth’s outer core, atmosphere, oceans, or crust (from earthquakes), for a long time the actual source was unclear, since no available motions seemed to be coherent with what was driving the wobble.

One promising theory for the source of the wobble was proposed by Richard Gross (2001) of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California. He used angular momentum models of the atmosphere and the oceans in computer simulations to show that during 1985.0–1996.0 the Chandler wobble was excited by a combination of atmospheric and oceanic processes, with the dominant excitation mechanism being ocean‐bottom pressure fluctuations. Gross found that two thirds of the ‘wobble’ was caused by fluctuating pressure on the sea bottom due to temperature and salinity changes and wind-driven changes in the circulation of the oceans. The remaining third is due to atmospheric fluctuations.”

“The agent that generates and maintains the 14‐month Chandler wobble of the solid earth about its rotation axis has remained unresolved for a century with first the atmosphere, later earthquakes, and more recently the earth’s fluid core proposed as candidates. Here we report that surface air pressure calculated in a coupled ocean‐atmosphere general circulation model (GCM) displays a 14.7 month signal, whose amplitude is similar to that found by Maksimov (1960) in station data; we identify it as the atmospheric Chandler wobble. This result indicates that changes in atmospheric mass distribution excite and maintain the wobble of the solid earth, and that neither earthquakes nor the fluid core are significant contributors. Another result is that in the GCM the amplitude of the wobble at high latitudes is a substantial fraction of the annual cycle, and thus is an important factor in climate formation as Maksimov (1960) suggested.”


Over longer time frames changes to Earth’s orbital eccentricity, obliquity (tilt) and precession (wobble), called Croll/Milankovitch cycles;


may be responsible for the periods of Glaciation (Ice Ages);


that Earth has experienced for the last several million years of its climatic record:


“There are three major forms of Milankovitch cycle:

Eccentricity: The Earth’s orbit is an ellipse, and the eccentricity of this ellipse says how far it is from being circular. But the Earth’s orbit slowly changes shape: it varies from being nearly circular (eccentricity of 0.005) to being more strongly elliptical (eccentricity of 0.058), with a mean eccentricity of 0.028. There are several periodic components to these variations. The strongest occurs with a period of 413,000 years, and changes the eccentricity by ±0.012. Two other components have periods of 95,000 and 125,000 years.”


Eccentricity controls the shape of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. The orbit gradually changes from being elliptical to being nearly circular and then back to elliptical in a period of about 100,000 years. The greater the eccentricity of the orbit (i.e., the more elliptical it is), the greater the variation in solar energy received at the top of the atmosphere between the Earth’s closest (perihelion) and farthest (aphelion) approach to the Sun. Currently, the Earth is experiencing a period of low eccentricity. The difference in the Earth’s distance from the Sun between perihelion and aphelion (which is only about 3%) is responsible for approximately a 7% variation in the amount of solar energy received at the top of the atmosphere. When the difference in this distance is at its maximum (9%), the difference in solar energy received is about 20%.


“Obliquity: The angle of the Earth’s axial tilt with respect to the plane of its orbit, called the obliquity, varies between 22.1° and 24.5° in a roughly periodic way, with a period of 41,000 years. When the obliquity is high, the strength of seasonal variations is stronger.

Right now the obliquity is 23.44°, roughly halfway between its extreme values. It is decreasing, and will reach its minimum value around the year 10,000 CE.”

Precession: The slow turning in the direction of the Earth’s axis of rotation relative to the fixed stars, called precession, has a period of roughly 26,000 years. As precession occurs, the seasons drift in and out of phase with the perihelion and aphelion of the Earth’s orbit.

Right now the perihelion occurs during the southern hemisphere’s summer, while the aphelion is reached during the southern winter. This tends to make the southern hemisphere seasons more extreme than the northern hemisphere seasons.

The gradual precession of the Earth is not due to the same physical mechanism as the wobbling of the top. That wobbling does occur, but it has a period of only 427 days. The 26,000-year precession is due to tidal interactions between the Earth, Sun and Moon.”

Gerard Roe argues that “The available evidence supports the essence of the original idea of Ko¨ppen, Wegner, and Milankovitch as expressed in their classic papers [Milankovitch, 1941; Ko¨ppen and Wegener, 1924], and its consequence: (1) the strong expectation on physical grounds that summertime insolation is the key player in the mass balance of great Northern Hemisphere continental ice sheets of the ice ages; and (2) the rate of change of global ice volume is in antiphase with variations in summertime insolation in the northern high latitudes that, in turn, are due to the changing orbit of the Earth.”


However, Don Easterbrook argues that there are major problems with the Croll/Milankovitch theory including that “(1) the theory cannot explain the synchroneity of glaciations in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere with no time lag (this fact has been called “the fly in the Milankovitch ointment”). Until this fact can be accounted for, the theory cannot be considered proven; (2) The validity of Milankovitch cycles depend on correlation with oxygen isotope variations in deep sea cores, but the cores cannot be dated accurately so the correlations rest on unproven assumptions and circular reasoning; (3) Milankovitch cycles cannot explain the Younger Dryas glacial resurgence because the onset and ending of the glaciation happened far more abruptly than can be credited to Milankovitch orbital changes (which are very slow). (4) The North Atlantic Deep Ocean Current theory cannot explain the problems with Milankovitch cycles because climatic changes occur simultaneous in both hemispheres with no lag time and this means it cannot be the cause of the climatic changes.”


Also of interest, “during a solar eclipse the Moon’s passage overhead blocks out the majority of the Sun’s light, casting a wide swath of the Earth into darkness. The land under the Moon’s shadow receives less incoming energy than the surrounding regions, causing it to cool. In the early 1970s, researches proposed that this temperature difference could set off slow-moving waves in the upper atmosphere. They hypothesized that the waves, moving more slowly than the traveling temperature disparity from which they spawned, would pile up along the leading edge of the Moon’s path—like slow-moving waves breaking on a ship’s bow.”


And over very long time frames, “the Moon is spiraling away from Earth at an average rate of 3.8 cm per year”;



3. Gravitation:


The gravity of the Moon, Sun and Earth, Earth’s rotation, Earth’s orbit around the Sun, Earth’s tilt, Earth’s wobble and the Moon’s orbit around Earth act in concert to determine the constantly evolving Tidal Force on Earth:


This tidal force results in Earth’s Ocean Tide;




Atmospheric Tide;


Earth Tide;


Magma Tide:


and “Tidal effects are also observed in the” “land masses of the Earth. Relative to the centre of the Earth, the land and buildings may bulge by as much as 9 inches, depending on the latitude. This constant pulling on the land areas as well as the friction caused between the ocean’s waters and the ocean floor, has led to a slowing down in the rotation of the Earth. This in turn has led to the lengthening of the day, by 0.002 seconds. This is why scientists in observatories who keep an accurate track of time, had to add a “˜leap second’ to keep in time with the changes in the period of the rotation of the Earth. This concept is similar to that of the leap year where a day is added, approximately every four years. This constant slowing down of the rotation of the Earth, will over a few billion years lead to a situation when the Moon and Earth are “locked ” together with the same side of the Earth and Moon facing each other.

Since the Earth’s mass is several times greater than that of the Moon, the gravitational forces exerted by the Earth on the Moon is also greater. Although no oceans are present on the Moon today, the tidal forces are felt on the land causing the rotation of the Moon to slow down from its original speed, in a manner similar to the effect the Moon has on the Earth. Since the gravitational force of the Earth on the Moon is greater, than that of the Moon on the Earth, the slowing down of the Moon’s rotation was more rapid, resulting in the present situation where the same side of the Moon always faces the Earth. Laser beams, along with reflectors placed on the Moon by astronauts, have helped in measuring accurately the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Repeated measurements have confirmed that the Moon is indeed moving away from the Earth at around 3.82 cm every year.

Since the distance between the Earth and Moon is slowly but surely increasing, the tidal forces on the Earth are constantly reducing by a corresponding degree.”


Earth’s Gravity;



in concert with Tidal Forces, influence Earth’s Ocean Circulation;


which influences Oceanic Oscillations including El Niño/La Niña;


the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO);


the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO);


the Indian_Ocean_Dipole (IOD)/Indian Ocean Oscillation (IOO) and;


can result in the formation of Polynyas:


Gravity Waves;


which may be partially responsible for the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO);


“on an air–sea interface are called surface gravity waves or Surface Waves”;


“while internal gravity waves are called Inertial Waves”:


“Rossby Waves;


Geostrophic Currents


and Geostrophic Wind


are examples of inertial waves. Inertial waves are also likely to exist in the core of the Earth”

Earth’s gravity is the primary driver of Plate Tectonics:


“It involves the shifting of about a dozen major plates and is what causes most earthquakes”;




and Mountain Formation;


which can create Mountain Jets:


and influence the creation of Atmospheric Waves:


“The Slab Pull;


force is a tectonic plate force due to subduction. Plate motion is partly driven by the weight of cold, dense plates sinking into the mantle at trenches. This force and the slab suction force account for most of the overall force acting on plate tectonics, and the Ridge Push;


force accounts for 5 to 10% of the overall force.”

Isostasy also exists whereby a “state of gravitational equilibrium between the earth’s lithosphere and asthenosphere such that the tectonic plates “float” at an elevation which depends on their thickness and density.”


Plate Tectonics drive “cycles of ocean basin growth and destruction, known as Wilson cycles;


involving continental rifting;






and collision.”:


“Climate change on ultra-long time scales (tens of millions of years) are more than likely connected to plate tectonics.”

“Through the course of a Wilson cycle continents collide and split apart, mountains are uplifted and eroded, and ocean basins open and close. The re-distribution and changing size and elevation of continental land masses may have caused climate change on long time scales”;


a process called the Supercontinent Cycle:


which, “has shaped the geology and climate of the earth and provided a force for biological evolution.”


“There are two types of global earth climates: icehouse and greenhouse. Icehouse is characterized by frequent continental glaciations and severe desert environments. Greenhouse is characterized by warm climates. Both reflect the supercontinent cycle. We are now in a little greenhouse phase of an ice house world.

Icehouse Climate:

Continents moving together

Sea level low due to lack of seafloor production

Climate cooler, arid

Associated with aragonite seas

Formation of supercontinents

Greenhouse Climate:

Continents dispersed

Sea level high

High level of sea floor spreading

Relatively large amounts of CO2 production at oceanic rifting zones

Climate warm and humid

Associated with calcite seas


Earth’s gravity is responsible for Katabatic Wind:


4. Solar Energy;


results is Solar Radiation/Sunlight;


which varies based upon 11 and 22 year cycles:


Total Solar Irradiance (TSI);


appears to fluctuate “by approximately 0.1% or about 1.3 Watts per square meter (W/m2) peak-to-trough during the 11-year sunspot cycle”:


Solar Energy also drives the Hydrological/Water Cycle;


within the Hydrosphere;


as Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) causes evaporation;


that drives Cloud formation;


and results in Precipitation;


including Rain;


and Snow;


which “is one of the most complex physical materials on Earth and therefore provides a challenging habitat for life. Its presence is often ephemeral, governed by weather, climate, topography, and vegetation cover. As a substance, it is crystalline at small scales and porous at larger scales. It is highly reflective and uniquely undergoes phase change to both liquid and vapour forms of water at temperatures that are normally encountered in the winter and under conditions that may be manipulated by life forms. Snow is also one of the lightest natural materials, such that it is relocated by wind and vegetation and can be burrowed in or stepped through by mammals.


“Snow can be described as a bulk material or as consisting of different phases. When a separate water vapor phase is considered, vertical mass flux due to vapor pressure differences can be treated. A significant amount of heat is transported along with the vapor fluxes because of the phase changes occurring when water molecules enter the vapor phase at one point and deposit back onto the ice matrix somewhere else. The vapor fluxes in snow also cause snow metamorphism changing the crystals’ form and size. Equilibrium metamorphism dominates when weak, large-scale temperature gradients exist, and water molecules are mainly rearranged locally by surface tension differences. Metamorphism is called kinetic when vertical vapor fluxes due to a large-scale temperature gradient lead to a snow crystal re-formation.

Mass- and energy fluxes in the snow cover are driven by surface exchange. The surface turbulent fluxes of sensible heat and moisture are derived from atmospheric surface layer similarity theory. The long-wave radiation balance leads to a strong surface cooling especially during cold nights. Short-wave radiation penetrates the snow cover and deposits energy at greater depths. Finally, the surface mass transport process of snow redistribution is treated with its subprocesses, saltation and suspension.”


“A modelling study was undertaken to evaluate the contribution of Sublimation”;


“to an alpine snow mass balance in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Snow redistribution and sublimation by wind, snowpack sublimation and snowmelt were simulated for two winters over an alpine ridge transect located in the Canada Rocky Mountains.” “Alpine snow sublimation losses, in particular blowing snow sublimation losses, were significant. Snow mass losses to sublimation as a percentage of cumulative snowfall were estimated to be 20–32% with the blowing snow sublimation loss amounting to 17–19% of cumulative snowfall. This estimate is considered to be a conservative estimate of the blowing snow sublimation loss in the Canadian Rocky Mountains because the study transect is located in the low alpine zone where the topography is more moderate than the high alpine zone and windflow separation was not observed. An examination of the suitability of PBSM’s sublimation estimates in this environment and of the importance of estimating blowing snow sublimation on the simulated snow accumulation regime was conducted by omitting sublimation calculations. Snow accumulation in HRUs was overestimated by 30% when neglecting blowing snow sublimation calculations.


Precipitation results in the Water Distribution on Earth;


creates surface Runoff;


which result in Rivers;


and drives Erosion:


Solar energy is also “The driving force behind atmospheric circulation is solar energy, which heats the atmosphere with different intensities at the equator, the middle latitudes, and the poles.”


Atmospheric Circulation;


includes Hadley Cells;


Ferrel Cells;


Polar Cells;


all of which help to create Wind;


that influence Surface Currents;



through Ekman Transport;



and also cause Langmuir circulations


Solar energy influences Atmospheric Waves;


including Atmospheric Tides;


evaporation and condensation that may help to drive changes in Atmospheric Pressure:



and Atmospheric Escape;


which “is the loss of planetary atmospheric gases to outer space”. “Although Earth’s atmosphere may seem as permanent as the rocks, it gradually leaks back into space. The loss rate is currently tiny, only about three kilograms of hydrogen and 50 grams of helium (the two lightest gases) per second, but even that trickle can be significant over geologic time, and the rate was probably once much higher.”


“‘On Earth the magnetosphere acts like an energy collector that interacts with the material that’s coming from the sun and can draw energy out of the solar wind,’ Russell said. But then Earth’s magnetic field funnels and guides that energy to the upper atmosphere, heating the atmosphere and allowing bits of it to escape along the very same funnels that guided the energy in. ‘The precise physics have yet to be worked out, but there’s no cause for alarm’, Russell said. ‘At the current rate, our present atmospheric inventory can last at least until the sun—midway through its life now—turns into a red giant and engulfs Earth’, Russell said. ‘At that point,’ he said, ‘the loss of atmosphere becomes moot.'”


Solar energy drives the Brewer Dobson Circulation;


which influences Polar Vortices:



Solar variability may also influence the Polar Night Jets:


“Early modelling work by Rind and Balachandran (1995) and Balachandran and Rind (1995), and more recently discussed by Rind et al. (2002), was able to simulate these zonal wind anomalies. They suggested that solar variability influences the structure of the polar night jet and hence the propagation of planetary-scale waves that travel vertically from the troposphere. This then affects their ability to impact the polar vortex and to produce sudden stratospheric warmings. Specifically, Rind and co-workers noted that the 11-year SC temperature anomaly in the equatorial upper stratosphere gives rise to an anomalous horizontal temperature gradient and hence to a corresponding anomaly in the vertical wind shear in the region of the polar night jet at upper levels. As a result of the consequent anomalous planetary wave propagation, this zonal wind anomaly gradually descends with time into the lower stratosphere (see also Dunkerton 2000). In addition, they noted that the QBO influences the latitudinal wind shear in the lower stratosphere (Holton and Tan 1982). Both these factors affect the structure of the polar night jet and thus there is an interaction of the solar and QBO influences through their combined influence on wave propagation. However, the details of how the solar and QBO interaction occurred were not clear, especially the precise mechanism by which the 11-year SC influence in the upper stratosphere impacts the QBO influence in the lower stratosphere.


Solar Ultraviolet (UV) radiation;


appears to vary by approximately 10% during the solar cycle;


has been hypothesized to influence Earth’s climate;


however Leif Svalgaard argues that,

This is well-trodden ground. Nothing new to add, just the same old, tired arguments. Perhaps a note on EUV: as you can see here (slide 13)

http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/news/2008ScienceMeeting/doc/Session1/S1_03_Kopp.pdf the energy in the EUV band [and other UV bands] is very tiny; many orders of magnitude less than what shines down on our heads each day. So a larger solar cycle variation of EUV does not make any significant difference in the energy budget.


Additionally “the thermosphere intercepts extreme ultraviolet (EUV) photons from the sun before they can reach the ground. When solar activity is high, solar EUV warms the thermosphere, causing it to puff up like a marshmallow held over a camp fire. (This heating can raise temperatures as high as 1400 K—hence the name thermosphere.) When solar activity is low, the opposite happens.” “The thermosphere ranges in altitude from 90 km to 600+ km. It is a realm of meteors, auroras and satellites, which skim through the thermosphere as they circle Earth. It is also where solar radiation makes first contact with our planet.”

Interestingly, in 2008-2009 “A Puzzling Collapse of Earth’s Upper Atmosphere” occurred when “high above Earth’s surface where the atmosphere meets space, a rarefied layer of gas called “the thermosphere” recently collapsed and now is rebounding again.” “This is the biggest contraction of the thermosphere in at least 43 years,” says John Emmert of the Naval Research Lab, lead author of a paper announcing the finding in the June 19th issue of the Geophysical Research Letters (GRL). “It’s a Space Age record.” “The collapse happened during the deep solar minimum of 2008-2009—a fact which comes as little surprise to researchers. The thermosphere always cools and contracts when solar activity is low. In this case, however, the magnitude of the collapse was two to three times greater than low solar activity could explain.”

“‘“Something is going on that we do not understand,’” says Emmert.”


“One component from which UV light creates methane in a photochemical process is pectin – a polysaccharide that many plants use as a structural material. It contains methoxyl groups in which there are already the rudiments of the methane chemical structure.” “Frank Keppler and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg had observed, for the first time, that plants release methane – into the air: meaning under aerobic conditions, under which bacteria produce no methane, allowing it, for example, to bubble up out of bogs and marshes. This study indicated that plants contribute a substantial proportion of the methane in the atmosphere.”


Infrared Radiation;


Henrik Svensmark “believes that the Solar Wind,



“a wave of charged particles from the sun, interacts with cosmic rays as they approach Earth. How many cosmic rays get through the solar wind determines how many clouds form, he suggests. The amount of cloud cover then determines how hot or cold the planet is.




Henrik Svensmark’Papers: http://www.dsri.dk/~hsv/

Several studies have found correlations between solar cycles, cosmic rays and agricultural output:




Solar – Coronal Holes;


Solar – Solar Energetic Particles (SEP);


Solar – Coronal Mass Ejection;



Solar Magnetosphere Breach;

Solar Polar Field Reversal;


Solar Sector Boundary;


Grand Minimum;

Leif Svalgaard says: February 6, 2011 at 8:26 pm

If L&P are correct and sunspots become effectively] invisible [not gone] it might mean another Grand Minimum lasting perhaps 50 years. During this time the solar cycle is still operating, cosmic rays are still modulated, and the solar wind is still buffeting the Earth.”

“It will lead to a cooling of a couple of tenths of a degree.”

“The Earth is dressed in layers that protect it from the sun’s fierce winds.” “The warm plasma cloak begins thinly on the nightside—or darkside—of the planet and wraps around to the dayside, where it becomes thickest until noon. In the afternoon, convective winds push the cloak out toward the edge of the magnetosphere, where it’s peeled off by solar winds.”


“Earth generates Cold Plasma—slow-moving charged particles—at the edge of space, where sunlight strips electrons from gas atoms, leaving only their positively charged cores, or nuclei.” “This influence is ‘not a minor thing in space weather,’ André said. ‘It’s an elephant in the room.'”


Solar Influences on Climate:



Statistical issues about solar–climate relations


5. Geothermal Energy;


“is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. Thermal energy is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. Earth’s geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet (20%) and from radioactive decay of minerals (80%).”Heat may be generated by tidal force on the Earth as it rotates; since rock cannot flow as readily as water it compresses and distorts, generating heat.”

“The Earth’s internal thermal energy flows to the surface by conduction at a rate of 44.2 terawatts (TW), and is replenished by radioactive decay of minerals at a rate of 30 TW.” “Mean heat flow is 65 mW/m2 over continental crust and 101 mW/m2 over oceanic crust. This is approximately 1/10 watt/square meter on average, (about 1/10,000 of solar irradiation,) but is much more concentrated in areas where thermal energy is transported toward the crust by convection such as along mid-ocean ridges and mantle plumes. The Earth’s crust effectively acts as a thick insulating blanket which must be pierced by fluid conduits (of magma, water or other) in order to release the heat underneath. More of the heat in the Earth is lost through plate tectonics, by mantle upwelling associated with mid-ocean ridges. The final major mode of heat loss is by conduction through the lithosphere, the majority of which occurs in the oceans due to the crust there being much thinner and younger than under the continents”


“Earth’s heat is released” “by two main processes, conduction and convection:

1. Conduction is the movement of heat from hotter material to colder material. A common example of conduction is when heat from a stove is transferred through the bottom of a coffee pot to the liquid inside. Conduction” “helps transfer heat from deep within Earth to shallower depths. Of the heat released from the ground at Yellowstone, about 25% is by conduction.”

2. Convection is heat transported by hot material in motion, such as hot water or magma. Convection happens inside a coffee pot when heat is carried to the top of the liquid in the pot by hot water that rises buoyantly from the heated bottom because it is less dense than overlying cooler water. As the water boils, the rise of the hotter water and the compensating fall of cooler water from the top forms what is called a convection cell. Convection of molten rock helps carry heat up through the Yellowstone caldera. Near the surface, convection of hot ground water drives geysers, hot springs, and fumaroles. Convection accounts for roughly 75% of the heat released from the ground at Yellowstone.”


“Geothermal Heat Flows;




“constantly from its sources within the Earth to the surface. Total heat loss from the earth is 44.2 TW (4.42 × 1013 watts).[12] Mean heat flow is 65 mW/m2 over continental crust and 101 mW/m2 over oceanic crust.[12] This is approximately 1/10 watt/square meter on average, (about 1/10,000 of solar irradiation,) but is much more concentrated in areas where thermal energy is transported toward the crust by convection such as along mid-ocean ridges and mantle plumes.[13] The Earth’s crust effectively acts as a thick insulating blanket which must be pierced by fluid conduits (of magma, water or other) in order to release the heat underneath. More of the heat in the Earth is lost through plate tectonics, by mantle upwelling associated with mid-ocean ridges. The final major mode of heat loss is by conduction through the lithosphere, the majority of which occurs in the oceans due to the crust there being much thinner and younger than under the continents.

The heat of the earth is replenished by radioactive decay at a rate of 30 TW.”

Geothermal Heat also flows through Hydrothermal Vents;


which can be a factor in Hydrothermal Circulations:


as well as Hot Springs:


“Worldwide, about 10,715 megawatts (MW) of geothermal power is online in 24 countries. An additional 28 gigawatts of direct geothermal heating capacity is installed for district heating, space heating, spas, industrial processes, desalination and agricultural applications.”


Geothermal Energy can have major influence on Earth’s climate when released by Volcanoes;


“which are generally found where tectonic plates are diverging;


or converging”;


however, “intraplate volcanism has also been postulated to be caused by mantle plumes”:


“These so-called “hotspots”;


for example Hawaii, are postulated to arise from upwelling diapirs;


from the core-mantle boundary, 3,000 km deep in the Earth.”

Volcanoes influence on Earth’s climate;



include the infamous Year Without a Summer;


which was partially caused by the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora;


and is called a Volcanic Winter:


“Volcanic Ash;


particles have a maximum residence time in the troposphere of a few weeks.

The finest Tephera;


remain in the stratosphere for only a few months, they have only minor climatic effects, and they can be spread around the world by high-altitude winds. This suspended material contributes to spectacular sunsets.

“The greatest volcanic impact upon the earth’s short term weather patterns is caused by sulfur dioxide gas;”


“In the cold lower atmosphere, it is converted to Sulfuric Acid;


sulfuric acid by the sun’s rays reacting with stratospheric water vapor to form sulfuric acid aerosol layers. The aerosol remains in suspension long after solid ash particles have fallen to earth and forms a layer of sulfuric acid droplets between 15 to 25 kilometers up. Fine ash particles from an eruption column fall out too quickly to significantly cool the atmosphere over an extended period of time, no matter how large the eruption.

Sulfur aerosols last many years, and several historic eruptions show a good correlation of sulfur dioxide layers in the atmosphere with a decrease in average temperature decrease of subsequent years. The close correlation was first established after the 1963 eruption of Agung volcano in Indonesia when it was found that sulfur dioxide reached the stratosphere and stayed as a sulfuric acid aerosol.

Without replenishment, the sulfuric acid aerosol layer around the earth is gradually depleted, but it is renewed by each eruption rich in sulfur dioxide. This was confirmed by data collected after the eruptions of El Chichon, Mexico (1982) and Pinatubo, Philippines (1991), both of which were high-sulfur compound carriers like Agung, Indonesia.”


There is also some evidence that if “volcanic activity was high enough, then a water vapor anomaly would be introduced into the lower stratosphere before the anomaly due to the previous eruption had disappeared. The result would be threefold in the long term: stratospheric cooling, stratospheric humidification, and surface warming due to the positive radiative forcing associated with the water vapor.”


“Stratospheric water vapor concentrations decreased by about 10% after the year 2000. Here we show that this acted to slow the rate of increase in global surface temperature over 2000–2009 by about 25% compared to that which would have occurred due only to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. More limited data suggest that stratospheric water vapor probably increased between 1980 and 2000, which would have enhanced the decadal rate of surface warming during the 1990s by about 30% as compared to estimates neglecting this change. These findings show that stratospheric water vapor is an important driver of decadal global surface climate change.”



RSS Temperature Lower Stratosphere (TLS) – Brightness Temperature Anomaly – 1979 to Present:


is punctuated by warming events associated with the eruptions of El Chichon (1982) and Mt Pinatubo (1991), each followed by a step down in temperature. The eruptions of El Chichon and Mt Pinatubo are readily apparent in the Apparent Atmospheric Transmission of Solar Radiation at Mauna Loa, Hawaii:


6. Outer Space/Cosmic/Galactic Effects;




including Asteroids;




and Comets;


can all significantly impact Earth’s climate upon impact if they are large enough.

It has also been hypothesized that small comets impact Earth “at a rate of one 20-to-40 ton comet every three seconds, this influx of small comets into the atmosphere would add about one inch of water to the Earth’s surface every 20,000 years or so. The implications of this added water for long range global climate, global warming, and pollution mitigation will need to be examined by the experts in those fields.” “The influx of small comets into Earth’s atmosphere may help explain the source of water needed to form noctilucent clouds.” The hypothesis that small comets “are depositing water in our atmosphere” “comes from trying to account for the presence in the images of the “atmospheric holes,” those dark spots where the ultraviolet dayglow has been absorbed over areas of 50 to 100 km in diameter. This is a large area and requires a lot of material. For the wavelength range viewed by the Polar and Dynamics Explorer cameras, water is the only common gaseous substance in the solar system that can efficiently absorb the dayglow along the line-of-sight of the cameras.


“Debate over the source of the Earth’s water has been raging for decades” with some scientists arguing that “comets were responsible for Earth’s oceans;”


and others arguing that “ice asteroids likely source of Earth’s water”:


It has been hypothesized that Galactic Cosmic Rays;



modulated by Solar Wind, may influence cloud formation on Earth:



Henrik Svensmark’Papers: http://www.dsri.dk/~hsv/

“A Forbush decrease is a rapid decrease in the observed galactic cosmic ray intensity following a coronal mass ejection (CME). It occurs due to the magnetic field of the plasma solar wind sweeping some of the galactic cosmic rays away from Earth.”


In this study, the “proposed influence of cosmic rays on cloud formation is tested for the effect of sudden intensity changes of CR (Forbush decreases) on cloudiness. An attempt is made to widen the investigated period covered by satellite observation of cloudiness. As an indicator of cloud cover, the diurnal temperature range (DTR – a quantity anticorrelated with cloudiness) is used. The superposed epoch analysis on a set of isolated Forbush decreases is conducted and the results for a region of Europe are presented. The effect of Forbush decrease on DTR is statistically significant only if the analysis is restricted to high amplitude FDs (above the threshold value of 7% with the respect to undisturbed CR intensity). The magnitude of the effect on DTR is estimated to be (0.38 ± 0.06) °C.”


“Close passages of coronal mass ejections from the sun are signaled at the Earth’s surface by Forbush decreases in cosmic ray counts. We find that low clouds contain less liquid water following Forbush decreases, and for the most influential events the liquid water in the oceanic atmosphere can diminish by as much as 7%.”


“We also see a correlation between total solar irradiance and strong Forbush decreases but a clear mechanism connecting this to cloud properties is lacking. There is no signal in the UV radiation. The responses of the parameters correlate linearly with the reduction in the cosmic ray ionization. These results support the suggestion that ions play a significant role in the life-cycle of clouds.”



“Here we present the first results from the CLOUD experiment at CERN. We find that atmospherically relevant ammonia mixing ratios of 100 parts per trillion by volume, or less, increase the nucleation rate of sulphuric acid particles more than 100–1,000-fold. Time-resolved molecular measurements reveal that nucleation proceeds by a base-stabilization mechanism involving the stepwise accretion of ammonia molecules. Ions increase the nucleation rate by an additional factor of between two and more than ten at ground-level galactic-cosmic-ray intensities, provided that the nucleation rate lies below the limiting ion-pair production rate.


Also, “the density of cosmic ray sources in the galaxy is not uniform. In fact, it is concentrated in the galactic spiral arms (it arises from supernovae, which in our galaxy are predominantly the end product of massive stars, which in turn form and die primarily in spiral arms). Thus, each time we cross a galactic arm, we should expect a colder climate. Current data for the spiral arm passages gives a crossing once every 135 ± 25 Million years. (See fig. 2 on the left. Note also that the spiral arms are density waves which propagate at a different speed than the stars, that is, nothing moves at their rotation speed).”




Galactic Magnetic Fields;


result in the Galactic Tide;


which may influence the hypothesized Oort cloud;


“Besides the galactic tide, the main trigger for sending comets into the inner Solar System is believed to be interaction between the Sun’s Oort cloud and the gravitational fields of near-by stars or giant molecular clouds.”

Also Cosmic Dust;


“is a type of dust composed of particles in space which are a few molecules to 0.1 µm in size. Cosmic dust can be further distinguished by its astronomical location; for example: intergalactic dust, interstellar dust, interplanetary dust (such as in the zodiacal cloud) and circumplanetary dust (such as in a planetary ring).”

“Depending on their size and overall number, cosmic dust and other particles in the atmosphere have the potential to change Earth’s climate. They can reflect sunlight, which cools the Earth, absorb sunlight, which warms the atmosphere, and act as a blanket for the planet by trapping any heat it gives off. They can also facilitate the formation of rain clouds.”


Cosmic dust contains various minerals which could control the production of algae and bacteria in remote ocean surface waters. A high production during periods of peaking cosmic influx increases cloud formation catalyzed by dimethyl sulphide (DMS) production, following increased atmospheric albedo, decreased shortwave solar irradiation to Earth surface and subsequent cooling. The opposite situation would occur when cosmic dust influx is low.

In addition, “a study of astronomical and geological data reveals that cosmic ray electrons and electromagnetic radiation from a similar outburst of our own Galactic core, impacted our Solar System near the end of the last ice age. This cosmic ray event spanned a period of several thousand years and climaxed around 14,200 years ago. Although far less intense than the PG 0052+251 quasar outburst, it was, nevertheless, able to substantially affect the Earth’s climate and trigger a solar-terrestrial conflagration the initiated the worst animal extinction episode of the Tertiary period.

The effects on the Sun and on the Earth’s climate were not due to the Galactic cosmic rays themselves, but to the cosmic dust that these cosmic rays transported into the Solar System. Observations have shown that the Solar System is presently immersed in a dense cloud of cosmic dust, material that is normally kept at bay by the outward pressure of the solar wind. But, with the arrival of this Galactic cosmic ray volley, the solar wind was overpowered and large quantities of this material were pushed inward. The Sun was enveloped in a cocoon of dust that caused its spectrum to shift toward the infrared. In addition, the dust grains filling the Solar System scattered radiation back to the Earth, producing an “interplanetary hothouse effect” that substantially increased the influx of solar radiation to the Earth.”


Finally Lars G. Franzén and Roger A. Cropp argue in Geografiska Annaler 2007, that “cosmic dust contains various minerals which could control the production of algae and bacteria in remote ocean surface waters. A high production during periods of peaking cosmic influx increases cloud formation catalyzed by dimethyl sulphide (DMS) production, following increased atmospheric albedo, decreased shortwave solar irradiation to Earth surface and subsequent cooling. The opposite situation would occur when cosmic dust influx is low.”


All of the Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs);


that “astronomers have recorded so far have come from distant galaxies and have been harmless to Earth, but if one occurred within our galaxy and were aimed straight at us, the effects could be devastating. Currently orbiting satellites detect an average of about one gamma-ray burst per day.”

“Gamma-ray bursts are thought to emerge mainly from the poles of a collapsing star. This creates two oppositely-shining beams of radiation shaped like narrow cones. Planets not lying in these cones would be comparatively safe; the chief worry is for those that do.

Depending on distance, a gamma flash and its ultraviolet radiation could damage even the most radiation resistant organism known, the bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans. These bacteria can endure 2,000 times more radiation than humans. Life surviving an initial onslaught would have to contend with a potentially lethal aftereffect, depletion of the atmosphere’s protective ozone layer by the burst.”

“GRBs close enough to affect life in some way might occur once every five million years or so – around a thousand times since life on Earth began.[88]

The major Ordovician-Silurian extinction event of 450 million years ago may have been caused by a GRB. The late Ordovician species of trilobite that spent some of its life in the plankton layer near the ocean surface was much harder hit than deep-water dwellers, which tended to stay put within quite restricted areas. Usually it is the more widely spread species that fare better in extinction, and hence this unusual pattern could be explained by a GRB, which would probably devastate creatures living on land and near the ocean surface, but leave deep-sea creatures relatively unharmed.”

“The real danger comes from Wolf–Rayet stars, regarded by astronomers as ticking bombs.[91] When such stars transition to supernovas, they may emit intense beams of gamma rays, and if Earth were to lie in the beam zone, devastating effects may occur. Gamma rays would not penetrate Earth’s atmosphere to impact the surface directly, but they would chemically damage the stratosphere.

For example, if WR 104 were to hit Earth with a burst of 10 seconds duration, its gamma rays could deplete about 25 percent of the world’s ozone layer. This would result in mass extinction, food chain depletion, and starvation. The side of Earth facing the GRB would receive potentially lethal radiation exposure, which can cause radiation sickness in the short term, and in the long term result in serious impacts to life due to ozone layer depletion.”

“Longer-term, gamma ray energy may cause chemical reactions involving oxygen and nitrogen molecules which may create nitrogen oxide then nitrogen dioxide gas, causing photochemical smog. The GRB may produce enough of the gas to cover the sky and darken it. Gas would prevent sunlight from reaching Earth’s surface, producing a cosmic winter effect, and may even further deplete the ozone layer, thus exposing the whole of the Earth to all types of cosmic radiation.”

7. Earth’s Magnetic Field;


is primarily responsible for the Earthy behaviors of the Magnetosphere;


with certain secular variations in Earth’s magnetic field originating from ocean flow/circulation;



though Leif Svalgaard notes that these are minor variations, as the magnetic field originating from ocean flow/circulation “is 1000 times smaller than the main field generated in the core.”



Earth Core Changes:


appear “to be generated in the Earth’s core by a dynamo process, associated with the circulation of liquid metal in the core, driven by internal heat sources”. “Molten iron flowing in the outer core generates the Earth’s geodynamo, leading to a planetary-scale magnetic field. Beyond this, though, geophysicists know very little for certain about the field, such as its strength in the core or why its orientation fluctuates regularly. Researchers do suspect, however, that field variations are strongly linked with changing conditions within the molten core.” These core changes

influence the Magnetosphere;


including movement of the Geomagnetic Poles:



According to a 2009 Danish study “Is there a link between Earth’s magnetic field and low-latitude precipitation?” by Knudsen and Riisager, Geology, 2009. “The earth’s climate has been significantly affected by the planet’s magnetic field”

“Our results show a strong correlation between the strength of the earth’s magnetic field and the amount of precipitation in the tropics,” one of the two Danish geophysicists behind the study, Mads Faurschou Knudsen of the geology department at Aarhus University in western Denmark, told the Videnskab journal.”


“Intriguingly, we observe a relatively good correlation between the high-resolution speleothem δ18O records and the dipole moment, suggesting that Earth’s magnetic field to some degree influenced low-latitude precipitation in the past. In addition to supporting the notion that variations in the geomagnetic field may have influenced Earth’s climate in the past, our study also provides some degree of support for the controversial link between GCR particles, cloud formation, and climate.”


“Oxygen is constantly leaking out of Earth’s atmosphere and into space. Now, ESA’s formation-flying quartet of satellites, Cluster, has discovered the physical mechanism that is driving the escape. It turns out that the Earth’s own magnetic field is accelerating the oxygen away.


8. Atmospheric Composition


Nitrogen (N2) represents approximately 780,840 ppmv or 78.084% of Earth’s Atmosphere;


Oxygen (O2) represents approximately 209,460 ppmv or 20.946%;


Argon (Ar) represents approximately 9,340 ppmv or 0.9340%;


Carbon Dioxide (CO2) represents approximately 390 ppmv or 0.039%;


contributes to the Greenhouse Effect;


and influences the rate of Plant Growth;


“Of all the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted into the atmosphere, one quarter is taken up by land plants, another quarter by the oceans. Understanding these natural mechanisms is important in forecasting the rise of atmospheric CO2 because even though plants and bodies of water now absorb surplus greenhouse gas, they could become new trouble spots. The ocean absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere in an attempt to reach equilibrium by direct air-to-sea exchange. This process takes place at an extremely low rate, measured in hundreds to thousands of years. However, once dissolved in the ocean, a carbon atom will stay there, on average, more than 500 years, estimates Michael McElroy, Butler professor of environmental science.

Besides the slow pace of ocean turnover, two more factors determine the rate at which the seas take up carbon dioxide. One is the availability of carbonate, which comes from huge deposits of calcite (shells) in the upper levels of the ocean. These shells must dissolve in ocean water in order to be available to aid in the uptake of CO2, but the rate at which they dissolve is controlled by the ocean’s acidity. The ocean’s acidity does rise with increased CO2, but the slow pace of ocean circulation prevents this process from developing useful momentum.”


Roy Spenser argues that “during a warm El Nino year, more CO2 is released by the ocean into the atmosphere (and less is taken up by the ocean from the atmosphere), while during cool La Nina years just the opposite happens. (A graph similar to the first graph also appeared in the IPCC report, so this is not new). Just how much of the Mauna Loa Variations in the first graph are due to the “Coke-fizz” effect is not clear because there is now strong evidence that biological activity also plays a major (possibly dominant) role (Behrenfeld et al., 2006). Cooler SST conditions during La Nina are associated with more upwelling of nutrient-rich waters, which stimulates plankton growth.”


However, Steve Fitzpatrick argues that the CO2 released by human activities, combined with slow ocean absorption/neutralization and sea surface temperature variation, is broadly consistent with the measured historical trend in atmospheric CO2, including the effect of changing average SST on short term variation in the rate of CO2 increase. Temperature changes in ocean surface waters cause shifts of a few PPM up and down in the rate of increase, but surface temperature changes do not explain 80% to 90% of the increase in atmospheric CO2 since 1958, as suggested in Dr. Spencer’s May 11 post. Because of its relatively high pH, high buffering capacity, enormous mass, and slow circulation, the ocean is, and will be for a very long time, a significant net sink for atmospheric CO2.


Neon (Ne) represents approximately18.18 ppmv or 0.001818%;


Helium (He) represents approximately 5.24 ppmv (0.000524%);


“In the Earth’s atmosphere, the concentration of Helium by volume is only 5.2 parts per million.[66][67] The concentration is low and fairly constant despite the continuous production of new helium because most helium in the Earth’s atmosphere escapes into space by several processes.[68][69][70] In the Earth’s heterosphere, a part of the upper atmosphere, helium and other lighter gases are the most abundant elements.”


Krypton (Kr) represents approximately 1.14 ppmv (0.000114%);


Methane (CH4) represents approximately 1.79 ppmv (0.000179%);


contributes to the Greenhouse Effect;


“Natural sources of CH4 include fires, geologic processes, and bacteria that produce CH4 in a variety of settings (most notably, wetlands). N2O is also produced by bacteria. Major anthropogenic sources of these gases include fossil fuel combustion and agriculture. Some sources can be related to both natural and anthropogenic processes. For example, forest and grassland fires, which produce CH4, can be either human-initiated (e.g., for land clearing) or the result of lightning ignition or other natural causes.”


“Frank Keppler and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg had observed, for the first time, that plants release methane – into the air: meaning under aerobic conditions, under which bacteria produce no methane, allowing it, for example, to bubble up out of bogs and marshes. This study indicated that plants contribute a substantial proportion of the methane in the atmosphere.”


“The Clathrate Gun Hypothesis;


is the popular name given to the hypothesis that rises in sea temperatures (and/or falls in sea level) can trigger the sudden release of methane from methane clathrate compounds buried in seabeds and permafrost which, because the methane itself is a powerful greenhouse gas, leads to further temperature rise and further methane clathrate destabilization – in effect initiating a runaway process as irreversible, once started, as the firing of a gun.”

“It has been suggested that the release of clathrates rather than expansion of wetlands is the primary cause of the rapid increases observed in the ice-core atmospheric methane record during the Pleistocene. Because submarine sediment failures can involve as much as 5000 Gt of sediment and have the capacity to release vast quantities of methane hydrates, one of the major tests of the clathrate gun hypothesis is determining whether the periods of enhanced continental-slope failure and atmospheric methane correlate. To test the clathrate gun hypothesis, we have collated published dates for submarine sediment failures in the North Atlantic sector and correlated them with climatic change for the past 45 k.y. More than 70% by volume of continental-slope failures during the past 45 k.y. was displaced in two periods, between 15 and 13 ka and between 11 and 8 ka. Both these intervals correlate with rising sea level and peaks in the methane record during the Bølling-Ållerød and Preboreal periods. These data support the clathrate gun hypothesis for glacial-interglacial transitions.”


Hydrogen (H2) represents approximately 0.55 ppmv (0.000055%);


Nitrous Oxide (N2O) represents approximately 0.3 ppmv (0.00003%);


and contributes to the Greenhouse Effect;


Ozone (O3) represents approximately 0.0 to 0.07 ppmv (0 to 7×10−6%);


and contributes to the Greenhouse Effect;


Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) represents approximately 0.02 ppmv (2×10−6%) (0.000002%);


Iodine (I2) represents approximately 0.01 ppmv (1×10−6%) (0.000001%) and;


Ammonia (NH3) represents a trace amount of Earth’s Atmosphere:


Additional atmosphere components includes Water vapor (H2O) that represents approximately 0.40% over full atmosphere, typically 1%-4% at surface.


“Water Vapor accounts for the largest percentage of the greenhouse effect, between 36% and 66% for clear sky conditions and between 66% and 85% when including clouds.”




that “act as cloud condensation nuclei, they alter albedo (both directly and indirectly via clouds) and hence Earth’s radiation budget, and they serve as catalysts of or sites for atmospheric chemistry reactions.”

“Aerosols play a critical role in the formation of clouds;


Clouds form as parcels of air cool and the water vapor in them condenses, forming small liquid droplets of water. However, under normal circumstances, these droplets form only where there is some “disturbance” in the otherwise “pure” air. In general, aerosol particles provide this “disturbance”. The particles around which cloud droplets coalesce are called cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) or sometimes “cloud seeds”. Amazingly, in the absence of CCN, air containing water vapor needs to be “supersaturated” to a humidity of about 400% before droplets spontaneously form! So, in almost all circumstances, aerosols play a vital role in the formation of clouds.”




including Soot/Black Carbon;







“Volcanic Ash;


particles have a maximum residence time in the troposphere of a few weeks.

The finest Tephera;


remain in the stratosphere for only a few months, they have only minor climatic effects, and they can be spread around the world by high-altitude winds. This suspended material contributes to spectacular sunsets.

The major climate influence from volcanic eruptions is caused by gaseous sulfur compounds, chiefly Sulfur Dioxide;


which reacts with OH and water in the stratosphere to create sulfate aerosols with a residence time of about 2–3 years.”

“Emission rates of [Sulfur Dioxide] SO2 from an active volcano range from 10 million tonnes/day according to the style of volcanic activity and type and volume of magma involved. For example, the large explosive eruption of Mount Pinatubo on 15 June 1991 expelled 3-5 km3 of dacite magma and injected about 20 million metric tons of SO2 into the stratosphere. The sulfur aerosols resulted in a 0.5-0.6°C cooling of the Earth’s surface in the Northern Hemisphere.”


“The 1815 eruption [of Mount Tambora] is rated 7 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index, the only such eruption since the Lake Taupo eruption in about 180 AD. With an estimated ejecta volume of 160 cubic kilometers, Tambora’s 1815 outburst was the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history.”

“The eruption created global climate anomalies that included the phenomenon known as “volcanic winter”;


1816 became known as the “Year Without a Summer”;


because of the effect on North American and European weather. Agricultural crops failed and livestock died in much of the Northern Hemisphere, resulting in the worst famine of the 19th century.”


“In the spring and summer of 1816, a persistent “dry fog” was observed in the northeastern US. The fog reddened and dimmed the sunlight, such that sunspots were visible to the naked eye. Neither wind nor rainfall dispersed the “fog”. It has been characterized as a stratospheric sulfate aerosol veil.”

“The greatest volcanic impact upon the earth’s short term weather patterns is caused by sulfur dioxide gas;”


“In the cold lower atmosphere, it is converted to Sulfuric Acid;


sulfuric acid by the sun’s rays reacting with stratospheric water vapor to form sulfuric acid aerosol layers. The aerosol remains in suspension long after solid ash particles have fallen to earth and forms a layer of sulfuric acid droplets between 15 to 25 kilometers up. Fine ash particles from an eruption column fall out too quickly to significantly cool the atmosphere over an extended period of time, no matter how large the eruption.

Sulfur aerosols last many years, and several historic eruptions show a good correlation of sulfur dioxide layers in the atmosphere with a decrease in average temperature decrease of subsequent years. The close correlation was first established after the 1963 eruption of Agung volcano in Indonesia when it was found that sulfur dioxide reached the stratosphere and stayed as a sulfuric acid aerosol.

Without replenishment, the sulfuric acid aerosol layer around the earth is gradually depleted, but it is renewed by each eruption rich in sulfur dioxide. This was confirmed by data collected after the eruptions of El Chichon, Mexico (1982) and Pinatubo, Philippines (1991), both of which were high-sulfur compound carriers like Agung, Indonesia.”


There is also some evidence that if “volcanic activity was high enough, then a water vapor anomaly would be introduced into the lower stratosphere before the anomaly due to the previous eruption had disappeared. The result would be threefold in the long term: stratospheric cooling, stratospheric humidification, and surface warming due to the positive radiative forcing associated with the water vapor.”


9. Albedo “or reflection coefficient, is the diffuse reflectivity or reflecting power of a surface. It is defined as the ratio of reflected radiation from the surface to incident radiation upon it. Being a dimensionless fraction, it may also be expressed as a percentage, and is measured on a scale from zero for no reflecting power of a perfectly black surface, to 1 for perfect reflection of a white surface.”Wikipedia – Albedo

“The role of Clouds “in regulating weather and climate remains a leading source of uncertainty in projections of global warming.” “Different types of clouds exhibit different reflectivity, theoretically ranging in albedo from a minimum of near 0 to a maximum approaching 0.8.” Wikipedia – Albedo#Clouds

Cloud Albedo varies from less than 10% to more than 90% and depends on drop sizes, liquid water or ice content, thickness of the cloud, and the sun’s zenith angle. The smaller the drops and the greater the liquid water content, the greater the cloud albedo, if all other factors are the same.” Wikipedia – Cloud Albedo

“On any given day, about half of Earth is covered by clouds, which reflect more sunlight than land and water. Clouds keep Earth cool by reflecting sunlight, but they can also serve as blankets to trap warmth.” Live Science

“Low, thick clouds primarily reflect solar radiation and cool the surface of the Earth. High, thin clouds primarily transmit incoming solar radiation; at the same time, they trap some of the outgoing infrared radiation emitted by the Earth and radiate it back downward, thereby warming the surface of the Earth. Whether a given cloud will heat or cool the surface depends on several factors, including the cloud’s altitude, its size, and the make-up of the particles that form the cloud. The balance between the cooling and warming actions of clouds is very close although, overall, averaging the effects of all the clouds around the globe, cooling predominates.” NASA Earth Observatory – Clouds

Snow “albedos can be as high as 0.9; this, however, is for the ideal example: fresh deep snow over a featureless landscape. Over Antarctica they average a little more than 0.8. Wikipedia – Albedo#Snow

“The albedo for different surface conditions on the sea ice range widely, from roughly 85 per cent of radiation reflected for snow-covered ice to 7 per cent for open water. These two surfaces cover the range from the largest to the smallest albedo on earth.” GRID-Arendal – United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Sea ice has a much higher albedo compared to other earth surfaces, such as the surrounding ocean. A typical ocean albedo is approximately 0.06, while bare sea ice varies from approximately 0.5 to 0.7. This means that the ocean reflects only 6 percent of the incoming solar radiation and absorbs the rest, while sea ice reflects 50 to 70 percent of the incoming energy. The sea ice absorbs less solar energy and keeps the surface cooler.

snow has an even higher albedo than sea ice, and so thick sea ice covered with snow reflects as much as 90 percent of the incoming solar radiation. This serves to insulate the sea ice, maintaining cold temperatures and delaying ice melt in the summer. After the snow does begin to melt, and because shallow melt ponds have an albedo of approximately 0.2 to 0.4, the surface albedo drops to about 0.75. As melt ponds grow and deepen, the surface albedo can drop to 0.15. As a result, melt ponds are associated with higher energy absorption and a more rapid ice melt.”


“It should be pointed out that these planetary albedos are averages. Taking Earth as an example, clouds vary from 0.4 to 0.8, snow varies from 0.4 to 0.85, forests vary from 0.04 to 0.1, grass is about 0.15, and water varies from 0.02 with the Sun directly overhead to 0.8 at low levels of incidence. So the Earth’s albedo varies, and depends on the extent of cloudiness, snowfall, and the Sun’s angle of incidence on the oceans. With an average albedo of 0.37, 63% of incoming solar energy contributes to the warmth of our planet.”


“The total solar radiation received at ground level consists of direct and indirect radiation (scattered, diffused, or reflected). The UVR component does not exceed 5% of the total incident radiation at sea level under cloudless atmospheric conditions. The intensity of sunlight at ground level varies with latitude, geographic location, season, cloud coverage, atmospheric pollution, elevation above sea level, and solar altitude. The 23.5° tilt of the earth’s axis affects the angle of incidence of solar radiation on the earth’s surface and causes seasonal and latitudinal variations in day length. At high altitudes, the intensity of UVR is significantly higher than at sea level. The spectral distribution of solar energy at sea level is roughly 3,44, and 53% in the UV, visible, and infrared regions, respectively. In practice, therefore, these variables need to be considered for the use of solar energy, including its UVR component.”


“Ocean albedo varies not only with zenith angle, as above, but also tides, clouds, spindrift, plankton, other particulates, and temperature, Wind direction and velocity also have a major effect on waves and chop, affecting reflectance. At high zenith angles, the reflectance of still water, as in small ponds, etc., is close to 1.00. Choppy seas can have fairly high albedo.

See also: http://snowdog.larc.nasa.gov/jin/albedofind.html

“Measurements at a sea platform show that the ocean surface albedo is highly variable and is sensitive to four physical parameters: solar zenith angle, wind speed, transmission by atmospheric cloud/aerosol, and ocean chlorophyll concentration.”

“Measurements show that the OSA is dynamic and highly variable. The clear sky ocean albedo varies greatly with solar zenith angle (from about 0.03 to 0.4), but this variation depends on aerosol loading. Increasing AOD will increase albedo at high sun but decrease albedo at low sun. The wind has little impact on the albedo at high sun but has a significant impact at low sun. The ocean phytoplankton, indexed by the Chl, have a small effect on the broadband albedo but may change the spectral shape of ocean reflectance significantly.”


“The effects of surface roughness on the radiation field in the atmosphere and ocean are studied and compared with satellite and surface measurements. The results show that ocean surface roughness has significant effects on the upwelling radiation in the atmosphere and the downwelling radiation in the ocean. As wind speed increases, the angular domain of sunglint broadens, the surface albedo decreases, and the transmission to the ocean increases. The downward radiance field in the upper ocean is highly anisotropic, but this anisotropy decreases rapidly as surface wind increases and as ocean depth increases. The effects of surface roughness on radiation also depend greatly on both wavelength and angle of incidence (i.e., solar elevation); these effects are significantly smaller throughout the spectrum at high Sun. The model-observation discrepancies may indicate that the Cox-Munk surface roughness model is not sufficient for high wind conditions.


“The influence of the bottom albedo on the diffuse reflectance of a flat, homogeneous ocean is computed as a function of bottom depth and albedo for three oceanic scattering phase functions and several values of ω0. The results show that the bottom can have a large effect on the reflectivity, especially for small optical depths. When combined with the observed optical properties of clear natural water, the calculations are shown to be in good agreement with the observed dependence of in-water nadir radiance spectra, with depth. The apparent independence of the reflectance on the mode of illumination observed earlier for the infinitely deep ocean is found to be invalid for a shallow ocean. The effect of departures of the bottom law of diffuse reflectance from Lambertian is investigated and shown to be considerable in some cases.”


Particulates such as Soot/

Black_carbon warm “the Earth by absorbing heat in the atmosphere and by reducing albedo, the ability to reflect sunlight, when deposited on snow and ice. Black carbon stays in the atmosphere for only several days to weeks, whereas CO2 has an atmospheric lifetime of more than 100 years.”

“Estimates of black carbon’s globally averaged direct radiative forcing vary from the IPCC’s estimate of + 0.34 watts per square meter (W/m2) ± 0.25, to a more recent estimate by V. Ramanathan and G. Carmichael of 0.9 W/m2.” Wikipedia – Black Carbon

“Blooms of snow algea can reduce the surface albedo (light reflectance) of snow and ice, and largely affect their melting (Thomas and Duval, 1995; Hoham and Duval, 2001). For example, some glaciers in Himalayas are covered with a large amount of dark-colored biogenic material (cryoconite) derived from snow algae and bacteria (Kohshima et al., 1993; Takeuchi et al., 2001). The albedo of the intact surfaces bearing the cryoconite was substantially lower than that of the surface from which the cryoconite was artificially removed (5% versus 37%). The melting rates of the intact surfaces were reported to be 3 times larger than that of the surfaces without the cryoconite. Thus, snow algal activity possibly affects heat budget and mass balance of glaciers.” Department of Earth Sciences – Chiba University

Phytoplankton may influence Earth’s climate. A recent study used “a synergistic analysis of satellite observations (MODIS, SeaWiFS, AIRS, SSM/I and CERES)” to try to show that “dimethylsulfide (DMS) and isoprene emissions by marine phytoplankton” “into the atmosphere strongly influences cloud properties within a broad latitude belt in the Southern Hemisphere during the austral summer.” They “detected indirect aerosol effects over the Southern Ocean from 45°S to 65°S, especially in regions with plankton blooms, indicated by high chlorophyll-a concentration in seawater. The strong increase in cloud condensation nuclei column content from 2.0 × 108 to more than 5.0 × 108 CCN/cm2 for a chlorophyll increase from 0.3 to about 0.5 mg/m3 in these regions decreases cloud droplet effective radius and increases cloud optical thickness for water clouds. Consequently, the upward short-wave radiative flux at the top of the atmosphere increases.” There analysis found “reduced precipitation over the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone during strong plankton blooms.” Krüger and Graßl, Geophysical Research Letters, 2011

“Even small shear rates can increase backscattering from blooms of large phytoplankton by more than 30 percent,” said Roman Stocker, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT and lead author on a paper about this work. “This implies that fluid flow, which is typically neglected in models of marine optics, may exert an important control on light propagation, influencing the rates of carbon fixation and how we estimate these rates via remote sensing.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

10. Biology


“Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in the cells of living organisms to sustain life.”


There are two primary sources of energy, Phototrophs where “Light is absorbed in photo receptors and transformed into chemical energy” and

Chemotrophs where “bond energy is released from a chemical compound.”




are the organisms (usually plants) that carry out photosynthesis;


to acquire energy. They use the energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into organic materials to be utilized in cellular functions such as biosynthesis and respiration.” “In plants, algae, and cyanobacteria, photosynthesis uses carbon dioxide and water, releasing oxygen as a waste product.”

“In biology, carbon fixation;


is the reduction of carbon dioxide to organic compounds by living organisms. The obvious example is photosynthesis. Carbon fixation requires both a source of energy such as sunlight, and an electron donor such as water. All life depends on fixed carbon organisms that grow by fixing carbon are called autotrophs—plants for example. Heterotrophs, like animals, are organisms which grow by using the fixed carbon produced by autotrophs. Some organisms can go either way. Fixed carbon, reduced carbon, and organic carbon all mean organic compounds. Carbon dioxide, in all its guises, is inorganic carbon.”



are “organisms that obtain carbon through Chemosynthesis”;


“are phylogenetically diverse, but groups that include conspicuous or biogeochemically-important taxa include the sulfur-oxidizing gamma and epsilon proteobacteria, the Aquificaeles, the Methanogenic archaea and the neutrophilic iron-oxidizing bacteria.”

There are three ways that an “organism obtains carbon for synthesising cell mass;

Autotrophic – where “carbon is obtained from carbon dioxide (CO2)”, Heterotrophic – where “carbon is obtained from organic compounds” and Mixotrophic – carbon is obtained from both organic compounds and by fixing carbon dioxide.

Bacteria – TBD

“Methanotrophs (sometimes called methanophiles) are bacteria that are able to metabolize methane as their only source of carbon and energy.”


“Some ferric iron-reducing bacteria (e.g. G. metallireducens) can use toxic hydrocarbons such as toluene as a carbon source, there is significant interest in using these organisms as bioremediation agents in ferric iron-rich contaminated aquifers.”


Fungi – TBD

Protozoa – TBD

Chromista – TBD

An Extinction Event;


“also known as: mass extinction; extinction-level event (ELE), or biotic crisis) is a sharp decrease in the diversity and abundance of macroscopic life. They occur when the rate of extinction increases with respect to the rate of speciation.”

“The Cretaceous/Tertiary (KT) mass extinction has been correlated with both asteroid impact and Deccan volcanism. The physical evidence for large asteroid impact(s) at the KT boundry is overwhelming and the Chicxulub strructure in Yacatan Peninsula, Mexico in now considered as the most likely site of the crater. A second KT impact scarothe Shiva Cratero has been idenitified recently from subsurface data at theIndia=Seychelles plate assembly.” “Although both impacts and Deccan volcanism may have contributed to the KT biotic crisis, impacts appear to be the main extinction cause.”


Animal – Anthropogenic:

Carbon Dioxide;


contributes to the Greenhouse Effect;


“The lime industry is a significant carbon dioxide emitter. The manufacture of one tonne of calcium oxide involves decomposing calcium carbonate, with the formation of 785 kg of CO2 in some applications, such as when used as mortar; this CO2 is later re-adsorbed as the mortar goes off. Additionally, if the heat supplied to form the lime (3.75 MJ/kg in an efficient kiln) is obtained by burning fossil fuel it will release CO2: in the case of coal fuel 295 kg/t; in the case of natural gas fuel 206 kg/t. The electric power consumption of an efficient plant is around 20 kWh per tonne of lime. This additional input is the equivalent of around 20 kg CO2 per ton if the electricity is coal-generated. Thus, total emission may be around 1 tonne of CO2 for every tonne of lime even in efficient industrial plants, but is typically 1.3 t/t”



influences the rate of plant growth ;




Nitrous Oxide





Icebreakers/Arctic Shipping/Fishing/Cruise-Line Transits


Land Use;


“is the human use of land. Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment or wilderness into built environment such as fields, pastures, and settlements.”

“Land use practices vary considerably across the world. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization Water Development Division explains that “Land use concerns the products and/or benefits obtained from use of the land as well as the land management actions (activities) carried out by humans to produce those products and benefits.” s of the early 1990s, about 13% of the Earth was considered arable land, with 26% in pasture, 32% forests and woodland, and 1.5% urban areas.”

“Land Cover/Land Use Change [LCLUC]”;



“has a profound impact on the regional‐scale surface energy and water balance and where it has been intensive.” There is “growing detectable evidence about weather and climatic feedbacks and possible teleconnections associated with LULCC.” “The LULCC impact is likely on a par with other major global forcings but unlike warming seen from GHG emissions, LULCC forcing is multi directional and can warm/ cool, cause positive/negative feedbacks depending on the region and timing.” “The fact that the impact of LULCC is small with respect to the global average radiative forcing, with the exception of emissions of CO2, is, however, not a relevant metric as the essential resources of food, water, energy, human health and ecosystem function respond to regional and local climate not to a global average.”


A study by researchers from Purdue University and the universities of Colorado and Maryland concluded that greener land cover contributes to cooler temperatures, and almost any other change leads to warmer temperatures. The study, published on line and set to appear in the Royal Meteorological Society’s International Journal of Climatology later this year, is further evidence that land use should be better incorporated into computer models projecting future climate conditions, said Purdue doctoral student Souleymane Fall, the article’s lead author.

Among the study’s findings:

* In general, the greener the land cover, the cooler is surface temperature.

* Conversion to agriculture results in cooling, while conversion from agriculture generally results in warming.

* Deforestation generally results in warming, with the exception of a shift from forest to agriculture. No clear picture emerged from the impact of planting or seeding new forests.

* Urbanization and conversion to bare soils have the largest warming impacts.

In general, land use conversion often results in more warming than cooling.”


“Although variations in the natural flooding regimes were likely the dominant mechanism driving changes in surface water, it is possible that human manipulations through dams and other agriculture infrastructure contributed. This study demonstrates the substantial role that land-cover and surface water change can play in continental-scale albedo trends and suggests ways to better incorporate these processes into global climate models.”



– Deforestation

– Reforestation

– Greening

– Desertification

– Cultivation/Farming/Agriculture




Urban Heat Islands

Run Off From Asphalt

Snow plowing/clearance


Sewage/Wastewater Treatment Discharge



“is a highly useful and often abundant resource. However, over-use, or overdraft, can cause major problems to human users and to the environment.” “Aquifer drawdown or overdrafting and the pumping of fossil water increases the total amount of water within the hydrosphere subject to transpiration and evaporation processes, thereby causing accretion in water vapour and cloud cover, the primary absorbers of infrared radiation in the Earth’s atmosphere. Adding water to the system has a forcing effect on the whole Earth system, an accurate estimate of which hydrogeological fact is yet to be quantified.




Also, one of the numerous factors affecting Length Of Date (LOD) is “large-scale pumping of groundwater and construction of reservoirs”:


Energy Resources and Consumption:


“In 2008, total worldwide energy consumption was 474 exajoules (474×1018 J=132,000 TWh). This is equivalent to an average energy consumption rate of 15 terawatts (1.504×1013 W).”

Fossil Fuel Energy Generation;


occurs at “a power station that burns fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas or petroleum (oil) to produce electricity.”

Nuclear Power;


generation decreased by “1.8% in 2009 to 2558 TWh with nuclear power meeting 13–14% of the world’s electricity demand.”

“As with some thermal power stations, nuclear plants exchange 60 to 70% of their thermal energy by cycling with a body of water or by evaporating water through a cooling tower. This thermal efficiency is somewhat lower than that of coal fired power plants,[44][45] thus creating more waste heat.”


“Renewable Energy;


is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished).”

“Solar Power


is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP).”

Wind Power


generation from Wind Farms;


“may affect weather in their immediate vicinity. Spinning wind turbine rotors generate a lot of turbulence in their wakes like the wake of a boat. This turbulence increases vertical mixing of heat and water vapor that affects the meteorological conditions downwind. Overall, wind farms lead to a warming at night and cooling during the day time. This effect can be reduced by using more efficient rotors or placing wind farms in regions with high natural turbulence.”

A “study published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics suggested that using wind turbines to meet 10 percent of global energy demand in 2100 could actually have a warming effect, causing temperatures to rise by 1 °C (1.80 °F) in the regions on land where the wind farms are installed, including a smaller increase in areas beyond those regions. This is due to the effect of wind turbines on both horizontal and vertical atmospheric circulation. Whilst turbines installed in water would have a cooling effect, the net impact on global surface temperatures would be an increase of 0.15 °C (0.270 °F). Author Ron Prinn cautioned against interpreting the study “as an argument against wind power, urging that it be used to guide future research”. “We’re not pessimistic about wind,” he said. “We haven’t absolutely proven this effect, and we’d rather see that people do further research”.”





is generated using Dams;


to create Reservoirs:


“Rivers carry four different types of sediment down their riverbeds, allowing for the formation of riverbanks, river deltas, alluvial fans, braided rivers, oxbow lakes, levees and coastal shores. The construction of a dam blocks the flow of sediment downstream, leading to downstream erosion of these Sedimentary depositional environment, depositional environments, and increased sediment build-up in the reservoir. ”

“The water of a reservoir is usually warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer than it would be without a dam. As this water flows into its river, the altered temperature also affects the temperature of the river. This impacts the plant and animal life present in both the reservoir and the river, often creating environments that are unnatural to the endemic species.”

“Reservoirs may contribute to changes in the Earth’s climate. Warm climate reservoirs generate methane, a greenhouse gas when the reservoirs are stratified, in which the bottom layers are anoxic (i.e. they lack oxygen), leading to degradation of biomass through anaerobic processes.[11] In some cases, where flooded basins are wide and biomass volumes are high the amount of biomass converted to methane results in pollution potential 3.5 times more than an oil-fired power plant would for the same generation capacity.”




“is the set of chemical reactions that happen in the cells of living organisms to sustain life.”

“The basal metabolic rate of a human is about 1,300-1,500 kcal/day for an adult female and 1,600-1,800 kcal/day for an adult male.”


Animal – Non-Anthropogenic including



“are any drifting organisms (animals, plants, archaea, or bacteria) that inhabit the pelagic zone of oceans, seas, or bodies of fresh water.”



“related emission of the mentioned gases into the atmosphere strongly influences cloud properties within a broad latitude belt in the Southern Hemisphere during the austral summer. For this season they detected indirect aerosol effects over the Southern Ocean from 45°S to 65°S, especially in regions with plankton blooms, indicated by high chlorophyll-a concentration in seawater. The cloud condensation nuclei column content was 2.5 times higher for a chlorophyll increase amounting to two-thirds. In these regions, this decreases the cloud droplet effective radius and increases the cloud optical thickness for water clouds. Consequently, the upward short-wave radiative flux at the top of the atmosphere increases. The analysis also reveals reduced precipitation over the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone during strong plankton blooms. The authors suggest that due to fine particles formed in the atmosphere originating from gaseous DMS and possibly isoprene emissions the reduction of precipitation is caused by delayed homogeneous freezing in water clouds.”


Beaver (Genus Castor)



11. Chemical

Fossil Fuels:


Oil shale


– Petroleum

– Mineral Oil


Tar Pits/Sands




“Sea Salt particles—a common ingredient of coastal and ocean air—undergo a previously unrecognized chemical reaction in daylight to release chlorine molecules, which can influence ozone levels in the lower atmosphere.” “sea salt particles may be a factor that needs to be taken into account in assessing levels of greenhouse gases and air pollutants such as ozone in the air.”


Iron Fertilization “occurs naturally when upwellings bring nutrient-rich water to the surface, as occurs when ocean currents meet an ocean bank or a sea mount. This form of fertilization produces the world’s largest marine habitats. Fertilization can also occur when weather carries wind blown <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust“>dust long distances over the ocean, or iron-rich minerals are carried into the ocean by glaciers,[3] rivers and icebergs. Iron Fertilization can result from Geo-engineering; http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/viewArticle.do?id=34167



“is produced and emitted by many species of trees into the atmosphere (major producers are oaks, poplars, eucalyptus, and some legumes). The yearly production of isoprene emissions by vegetation is around 600 Tg, with half that coming from tropical broadleaf trees and the remainder coming from shrubs.[1] This is about equivalent to methane emission into the atmosphere and accounts for ~1/3 of all hydrocarbons released into the atmosphere.

Bell, Shindell and Faluvegi, argue that “a positive feedback effect exists between the natural emission of isoprene by plants and the Earth’s climate. Isoprene affects the OH concentration in much of the lower troposphere and therefore influences the abundance and growth rates of the important radiatively active greenhouse gases O_3, CH_4 and the HFCs. Isoprene oxidation can also generate large amounts of O_3 directly, in the presence of nitrogen oxides, and is a globally significant source of CO (an indirect greenhouse gas itself). In turn, the rate of isoprene emission is linked to physical climate through strong temperature dependence. The evolution of natural isoprene emissions and physical climate over the next century will lead to continued tropospheric chemical change independent of changes to anthropogenic emissions.




– Forest Fires

– Fossil Fuels

– Methane





is a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight.”



is the biological conversion of one or more carbon molecules (usually carbon dioxide or methane) and nutrients into organic matter using the oxidation of inorganic molecules (e.g. hydrogen gas, hydrogen sulfide) or methane as a source of energy, rather than sunlight, as in photosynthesis.”

Conversion of Methane, CO2, etc.

12. Physics




Variations in atmospheric and oceanic temperature can have significant impacts on Earth’s climate, including cloud cover, rainfall, Flora, Fauna, Ocean Circulation and Marine Biology. These variables can in turn affect Albedo and Transpiration.

A Biogeochemical Cycle;


“or substance turnover or cycling of substances is a pathway by which a chemical element or molecule moves through both biotic (biosphere) and abiotic (lithosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere) compartments of Earth. A cycle is a series of change which comes back to the starting point and which can be repeated.” “The term “biogeochemical” tells us that biological; geological and chemical factors are all involved.” “Ecological systems (ecosystems) have many biogeochemical cycles operating as a part of the system, for example the water cycle, the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, etc. All chemical elements occurring in organisms are part of biogeochemical cycles. In addition to being a part of living organisms, these chemical elements also cycle through abiotic factors of ecosystems such as water (hydrosphere), land (lithosphere), and/or the air (atmosphere).”

Lars G. Franzén and Roger A. Cropp argue in Geografiska Annaler 2007, that “Carbon sequestering in peatlands is believed to be a major climate regulating mechanisms throughout the late Phanerozoic (Franzén, 1994; Franzén et al, 1996). Since plant life first evolved on land, peatlands have been significant carbon sinks, which could explain significant parts of the large variations in the atmospheric carbon dioxide observed in various records.” They also “suggest that the ice age cycles during the Pleistocene are generated by the interglacial growth of peatlands, the sequestering of carbon into this terrestrial pool and the subsequent cooling by decreased greenhouse effect. The final initiation of ice age pulses towards the end of interglacials on the other hand is likely attributed to the cyclic influx of cosmic dust to the Earth surface, which in turn regulates cloud formation and the incoming shortwave radiation (Franzén & Cropp, 2007). These shorter cycles have a frequency of c. 1000-1250 years and might be connected to sunspot or other low frequency solar variations.







is an atmospheric electrostatic discharge (spark) accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms, and sometimes during volcanic eruptions or dust storms. From this discharge of atmospheric electricity, a leader of a bolt of lightning can travel at speeds of 220,000 km/h (140,000 mph), and can reach temperatures approaching 30,000 °C (54,000 °F), hot enough to fuse silica sand into glass channels known as fulgurites, which are normally hollow and can extend some distance into the ground. There are some 16 million lightning storms in the world every year. Lightning causes ionisation in the air through which it travels, leading to the formation of nitric oxide and ultimately, nitric acid, of benefit to plant life below.

Lightning can also occur within the ash clouds from volcanic eruptions, or can be caused by violent forest fires which generate sufficient dust to create a static charge.

How lightning initially forms is still a matter of debate. Scientists have studied root causes ranging from atmospheric perturbations (wind, humidity, friction, and atmospheric pressure) to the impact of solar wind and accumulation of charged solar particles. Ice inside a cloud is thought to be a key element in lightning development, and may cause a forcible separation of positive and negative charges within the cloud, thus assisting in the formation of lightning.”

Additional potential climatic influences of electricity are suggested by Brian Tinsley who argues that “there are good correlations, on the day-to-day time scale, between the three solar wind – modulated inputs to Jz mentioned above and small changes in atmospheric temperature and dynamics. Dr. Tinsley has hypothesized that the atmospheric responses are due to changes in the electrical interactions between charged aerosol particles and droplets.

One process applicable to clouds with their tops above the freezing level is the electrical enhancement of the rate of scavenging of ice-forming nuclei (IFN), that increases the rate of contact ice nucleation. This has consequences for cloud thickness and reflectivity to sunlight, and for precipitation rates and latent heat transfer, both of which are capable of affecting atmospheric temperature and dynamics. This mechanism also explains many reports of high rates of ice formation in certain types of clouds that has been a long-standing puzzle for cloud physicists.

Another process that is applicable to warm clouds appears to be caused by changes in the concentration of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) due to electrical effects on the production and rate of scavenging of ultrafine aerosol particles and the CCN that they may eventually form. Changes in CCN concentration affect drizzle production and cloud lifetime and cloud cover (the indirect aerosol effect).

In addition, electrical scavenging effects may explain the discrepancy between rates of aerosol scavenging by falling rain that have been observed in comparison with those calculated without adequately accounting for electrical effects.”




Lastly, “dramatic losses from the electron radiation belts also result from interaction of energetic elections with lightning-generating waves, called whistlers. Lightening-induced electron precipitation events exemplify direct coupling of tropospheric weather systems with the radiation belts and the ionospheric regions overlying thunderstorms.”


There also appears that the “environmental effect of the electric mechanism of aerosol deposition is the redistribution of the deposit on the elements of biological structures. Knowledge of deposition geometry improves our understanding of air pollution damage to plants. In particular, electric deposition of aerosol particles should be considered when discussing enhanced pollution damage to the top branches of conifer trees.”


Heat Capacity


or thermal capacity, is the measurable physical quantity that characterizes the amount of heat required to change a substance’s temperature by a given amount.”

“Anther way of explaining a materials’ Heat Capacity is to think about it as the measurement of thermal energy storage, just like temperature is the measurement of thermal energy given off. Heat capacity is how much thermal energy a material stores up and temperature is how much thermal energy a material gives off.”


“The heat capacity of the global ocean, obtained from regression of ocean heat content vs. global mean surface temperature, GMST, is 14 ± 6 W

yr m-2 K-1, equivalent to 110 m of ocean water; other sinks raise the effective planetary heat capacity to 17 ± 7 W yr m-2 K-1 (all uncertainties are 1-sigma estimates).”


Specific Heat Capacity Table: http://www2.ucdsb.on.ca/tiss/stretton/database/Specific_Heat_Capacity_Table.html

“As this planetary energy imbalance is virtually the same as the energy stored in the top 3 km of the oceans, and other energy stores in the climate system are much smaller (Levitus et al. 2001), we can examine either the global mean nonequilibrium radiative flux or the ocean storage to evaluate this quantity. Peixoto and Oort (1992, p. 351) even concluded that such a relation exists between the radiative forcing and ocean heat storage over the annual timescale. They showed that the annual variation of net radiation at the top of the atmosphere is in good agreement, both in phase and amplitude, with the ocean heat storage.”


“Earth’s radiation imbalance is determined from ocean heat content data and compared with results of direct measurements. Distinct time intervals of alternating positive and negative values are found: 1960–mid-1970s (−0.15), mid-1970s–2000 (+0.15), 2001–present (−0.2 W/m2), and are consistent with prior reports. These climate shifts limit climate predictability.” “A strong connection between Earth’s radiative imbalance and the heat content of the oceans has been known for some time (see, e.g., Peixoto and Oort [1]). The heat content has played an important role in recent discussions of climate change, and Pielke [2] has revived interest in its relationship with radiation.”


The Greenhouse Effect


“is a process by which thermal radiation from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated in all directions. Since part of this re-radiation is back towards the surface and the lower atmosphere, it results in an elevation of the average surface temperature above what it would be in the absence of the gases.”

A Greenhouse Gas;

” is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.”


“Absorption spectra of main atmospheric gases (H2O, CO2, O3, CH4, N2O, CFCs)” can be found in section 4 of these lecture notes:


The “Emissivity


of a material (usually written ε or e) is the relative ability of its surface to emit energy by radiation. It is the ratio of energy radiated by a particular material to energy radiated by a black body at the same temperature. A true black body would have an ε = 1 while any real object would have ε < 1. Emissivity is a dimensionless quantity. In general, the duller and blacker a material is, the closer its emissivity is to 1. The more reflective a material is, the lower its emissivity. Highly polished silver has an emissivity of about 0.02.” “Emissivity depends on factors such as temperature, emission angle, and wavelength.” “The emissivity of Earth’s atmosphere varies according to cloud cover and the concentration of gases that absorb and emit energy in the thermal infrared (i.e., wavelengths around 8 to 14 micrometres). These gases are often called greenhouse gases, from their role in the greenhouse effect. The main naturally-occurring greenhouse gases are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone. The major constituents of the atmosphere, N2 and O2, do not absorb or emit in the thermal infrared.”

“The transfer of heat energy by radiation can occur in a vacuum , unlike conduction and convection. Heat radiation is the same form of wave energy transfer as light, radio, and x-ray wave energy. The rate of emmission of heat energy is related to the temperature difference, the distance between the surfaces, and the emissivity of the surfaces. Bright reflective surfaces have the lowest emissivity values.”





States of Matter


Heat Conduction




Thermal Radiation






13. Known Unknowns

A. Non-Equilibrium Pattern Systems, aka “nonlinear pattern formation in far-from-equilibrium dissipative systems” and “pattern formation in dissipative systems” “The spontaneous formation of spatio-temporal patterns can occur when a stationary state far from thermodynamic equilibrium is maintained through the dissipation of energy that is continuously fed into the system. While for closed systems the second law of thermodynamics requires relaxation to a state of maximal entropy, open systems are able to interchange matter and energy with their environment. By taking up energy of higher value (low entropy) and delivering energy of lower value (high entropy) they are able to export entropy, and thus to spontaneously develop structures characterized by a higher degree of order than present in the environment.” PhD thesis – “Controlling turbulence and pattern formation in chemical reaction” Matthias Bertram:


Examples of this effect can be seen in the following examples of Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reactions:

Phil Salmon argues in this article;


that ENSO is a Non-Equilibrium Pattern System. “Of the class of known attractors of nonlinear oscillatory systems, the Lorenz and possibly Roessler attractors bear similarities to the attractor likely responsible for the alternating phases of La Nina and el Nino dominance that characterise the ENSO and constitute the PDO.” Here are several visualizations of Pacific Ocean Temperatures:




“The oceanic or limnological Mixed Layer;


is a layer in which active turbulence has homogenized some range of depths. The surface mixed layer is a layer where this turbulence is generated by winds, cooling, or processes such as evaporation or sea ice formation which result in an increase in salinity.” The atmospheric mixed layer is a zone having nearly constant potential temperature and specific humidity with height. The depth of the atmospheric mixed layer is known as the mixing height. Turbulence typically plays a role in the formation of fluid mixed layers.”

“The mixed layer plays an important role in the physical climate. Because the specific heat of ocean water is much larger than that of air, the top 2.5 m of the ocean holds as much heat as the entire atmosphere above it. Thus the heat required to change a mixed layer of 25 m by 1 °C would be sufficient to raise the temperature of the atmosphere by 10 °C. The depth of the mixed layer is thus very important for determining the temperature range in oceanic and coastal regions. In addition, the heat stored within the oceanic mixed layer provides a source for heat that drives global variability such as El Nino.

The mixed layer is also important as its depth determines the average level of light seen by marine organisms. In very deep mixed layers, the tiny marine plants known as phytoplankton are unable to get enough light to maintain their metabolism. The shallowing of the mixed layers in the springtime in the North Atlantic is therefore associated with a strong spring bloom of plankton.”

“There are three primary sources of energy for driving turbulent mixing within the open-ocean mixed layer. The first is breaking of surface waves, which injects a great deal of energy into the upper few meters, where most of it dissipates. The second is wind-driven currents, which create layers in which there are velocity shears. When these shears reach sufficient magnitude, they can eat into stratified fluid. This process is often described and modelled as an example of Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, though other processes may play a role as well. Finally, if cooling, addition of brine from freezing sea ice, or evaporation at the surface causes the surface density to increase, convection will occur. The deepest mixed layers (exceeding 2000 m in regions such as the Labrador Sea) are formed through this final process, which is a form of Rayleigh–Taylor instability. Early models of the mixed layer such as those of Mellor and Durbin included the final two processes. In coastal zones, large velocities due to tides may also play an important role in establishing the mixed layer.”

B. Chaotic Strange Attractors and a Limit Cycle:


Dr. Robert Brown argues in this comment/article that “IIRC this is one of the simplest systems exhibiting an attractor and limit cycle, and illustrates many of the features of more complicated dynamical systems. The attractor/fixed point in this case is the population of e.g. foxes and rabbits that remains in perfect equilibrium from year to year. Note well that this equation is deterministic, but of course a real population — even being modeled — always has random (or at least, “unpredictable”) variations — a certain amount of noise — and is actually discretized and not continuous as one cannot have half a cheetah eating \pi baboons.”


“predator-prey differential equations”, e.g. “The Lotka–Volterra equations, also known as the predator–prey equations, are a pair of first-order, non-linear, differential equations frequently used to describe the dynamics of biological systems in which two species interact, one a predator and one its prey.”


“A better continuous “kind” of differential equation for describing systems like this with noise is something called a Langevin equation in physics — a system with “fast” microscopic degrees of freedom that one accounts for on average with a stochastic term, and slower degrees of freedom one integrates out like the predator prey equation.”


“In statistical physics, a Langevin equation (Paul Langevin, 1908) is a stochastic differential equation describing the time evolution of a subset of the degrees of freedom. These degrees of freedom typically are collective (macroscopic) variables changing only slowly in comparison to the other (microscopic) variables of the system. The fast (microscopic) variables are responsible for the stochastic nature of the Langevin equation.”


C. Hurst-Kolomogorov Dynamics:


“Hurst’s observation in 1950 that Nile streamflows exhibit persistent excursions from their mean value has plagued, entertained and humbled hydrologists for over half a century. The “Hurst phenomenon,” sometimes denoted “long-term persistence (LTP)”, has subsequently been recognized in countless natural and artificial processes. While LTP initially presented an analytical challenge, the concern was mostly academic: In many practical situations, calibration datasets were insufficiently long to reveal LTP; planning horizons were sufficiently short that other sources of variability and uncertainty dominated the effect of LTP; and the Hurst phenomenon seemed relevant, if at all, only to very large water projects. However, things have changed: Statistical tools and stochastic theory have improved, more data are available, and research now suggests that LTP is nearly ubiquitous when dealing with complex natural systems. Moreover, many of the problems we face today occur over the large spatial and temporal scales where LTP tends to emerge as a dominant component of natural processes evolving in continuous time or space. Under such circumstances, LTP must be taken into account when conducting statistical analyses and predictions. In particular, physical arguments and data indicate that LTP is likely a fundamental characteristic of global climate processes, and thus, when studying climate data, it would seem prudent to employ statistical methods that are robust to the presence of LTP.”


“Our understanding of the climate system is linked to our knowledge of past climate, mainly due to the role played by the variability of climate on long scales in shaping our perception of the climate system behaviour. Therefore, paleoclimate data are an important source of information, whose study should be accompanied by that of the related uncertainties, determined by an appropriate statistical framework. The Hurst-Kolmogorov dynamics, also known as long-term persistence, has been detected in many long hydroclimatic time series and is stochastically equivalent to a simple scaling behaviour of climate variability over time scale. We demonstrate that this behaviour is dominant in paleoclimate reconstructions of Pleistocene and Pliocene (0.01 – 5 million years) and has a serious impact on the estimation of uncertainty. The comparison between the classical statistical framework and the Hurst-Kolmogorov approach results in significant differences, particularly in the implied uncertainty.”


“The nonstatic, ever changing hydroclimatic processes are often described as nonstationary. However, revisiting the notions of stationarity and nonstationarity, defined within stochastics, suggests that claims of nonstationarity cannot stand unless the evolution in time of the statistical characteristics of the process is known in deterministic terms, particularly for the future. In reality, long-term deterministic predictions are difficult or impossible. Thus, change is not synonymous with nonstationarity, and even prominent change at a multitude of time scales, small and large, can be described satisfactorily by a stochastic approach admitting stationarity. This “novel” description does not depart from the 60- to 70-year-old pioneering works of Hurst on natural processes and of Kolmogorov on turbulence. Contrasting stationary with nonstationary has important implications in engineering and management. The stationary description with Hurst-Kolmogorov stochastic dynamics demonstrates that nonstationary and classical stationary descriptions underestimate the uncertainty. This is illustrated using examples of hydrometeorological time series, which show the consistency of the Hurst-Kolmogorov approach with reality. One example demonstrates the implementation of this framework in the planning and management of the water supply system of Athens, Greece, also in comparison with alternative nonstationary approaches, including a trend-based and a climate-model-based approach.”





Infinite Iterations


14. Unknown Unknowns

A lot of other things.

General summaries of the potential climatic variables:





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Donald Mitchell

Geothermal Energy:
I have seen only one source which acknowledged geothermal energy as a factor in ocean circulation. Here are two links which would lead me to believe that it could be very influential.
While I have not delved deeply into the climate models, I have never seen an indication that they considered the spatial variances of the geothermal heat flow through the continental land masses.

An excellent effort, Anthony. I would make two points …
Earth’s Core – thermal momentum
The amount of thermal energy in the core (approx 5,700 deg.C) as well as the mantle and inner crust outweighs the total thermal energy in the oceans, land surfaces and atmosphere by many orders of magnitude. As a result, it provides a very stabilising effect on Earth’s climate. It does this for the following reason. The physics relating to the conduction process tells us that, if the surface temperature were to rise to a new mean, say 3 deg.C above the present, then the whole plot of the temperature gradient from the core to the surface would have to rise by 3 deg.C at the surface end. This represents a huge amount of additional thermal energy that would have to be stored to “fill the gap” between the current plot and the new plot. So it takes a lot more energy than would be required merely to warm the oceans. In fact, if it were happening we would see a slowing down of the small trickle of heat flow from the core, or maybe even a net flow into the surface. My main point is that it could take thousands of years, maybe hundreds of thousands of years. No doubt someone could calculate this, so all we need to do is monitor the terrestrial flow.
The greenhouse fallacy
The IPCC model is a flat Earth model and belongs to the days of flat Earth science. The main consequence of their flat Earth concept is that they just look at overall net effects over a 24 hour cycle. They claim that, because there is a net flow of energy from the surface to the atmosphere over 24 hours that net cooling somehow means there is no breach of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. However, the real Earth has mornings and evenings. In the mornings the energy in radiation from the Sun is converted to thermal energy in the atmosphere and, mostly, in the surface. (Some of the absorption of solar radiation is actually due to so-called greenhouse gases, because about half the Sun’s radiated energy is in the infra-red band. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere sends back to space some of the Sun’s radiation, thus having a cooling effect.) However, when the surface is getting hotter and hotter each sunny morning, the IPCC claims that there is additional thermal energy being transported by radiation from a much cooler atmosphere to the much warmer (and still warming) surface. So, even though net radiation is clearly into the surface, they still claim that the cooler atmosphere warms the surface even more. This clearly violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The Second Law is still violated even when the surface is cooling because it would still take extra thermal energy to slow the cooling process.
The very reason the Second Law of Thermodynamics does operate for radiation (as well as conduction) between any two points at any time is that the energy in radiation from the cooler body merely resonates with a warmer body and is effectively scattered without being converted to thermal energy. The end result energy wise is the same as if it had been reflected. One needs to remember that empirical measurements of absorptivity are not normally made with radiation from a very cold source such as the atmosphere, so this may help to understand that such measurements are a function of temperatures of the target as well as temperatures of the emitting source, and thus frequencies of the radiation. All this is substantiated by standard physics but, in addition, has been proved theoretically by Claes Johnson, a well-published Professor of Applied Mathematics in his Computational Blackbody Radiation which is one of the most important documents in the climate debate.

Bluey Haze

As any resident of the east coast of Australian or the U.S.A will attest,
Isoprenes are worthy of their own listing!
“The yearly production of isoprene emissions by vegetation is around 600 Tg, with half that coming from tropical broadleaf trees and the remainder coming from shrubs.[1] This is about equivalent to methane emission into the atmosphere and accounts for ~1/3 of all hydrocarbons released into the atmosphere.”

Darren Potter

Should not the wasted BTUs resulting from Global Warming scientists’ numerous and massive computers crunching away to fabricate the next warming trend numbers be considered a Potential Climatic Variable?


Style point – the 14 points are all in a common font and size except 9. Albedo.

There should be some mention that CO2 and water vapor are not alone in having absorption capability in the IR. It goes unmentioned, by virtually everybody, that O2 and N2 DO HAVE absorption bands in the IR. As only CO2 and water vapor are mentioned in the Wikipedia definition of greenhouse gases, everybody assumes that N2 and O2 are transparent to IR They are most definitely not.
Someone should look these up and point out that the absorption spectra for the atmosphere clearly shows the presence of the bands for these two main components of the atmosphere.
Thus, the idea that CO2 drives climate becomes stupid in the face of nitrogen, oxygen, and water vapor which ALL have more absorption bands than CO2.


Something that may be worth adding
The geographical and temporal distribution of salt (disolved and crystal/rock) horizontally and vertically.
This effects just about every part of the hydrological cycle, from evaporation to freezing and so will modulate climate (on short to very, very long periodicity).

On Electricity, I’ve bumped into a hundred-year-old idea that seems to be relatively unexplored today.
Conifers have pointy needles that seem designed for optimal ion exchange. (Think of the recent discoveries of nanowires on bacteria.) Conifers seem to enjoy being closer to the Arctic, where ionization is higher. Do they live more by electron exchange than photosynthesis? And do they help to form homeostasis in Northern latitudes? Something like an RC low-pass filter?

Beth Cooper

Always interactions. Thx for this study resource, Anthony. It’s always about the data.

Everyone loves it when individuals come together and share opinions. Great website, keep it up!


Many thanks to all contributors.
A magnificent listing of things that may/do affect weather and climate – with good ‘uncertainties’.
I propose taking highlights from this for a client presentation soon.
Again thanks -and, yes, suitable acknowledgement will be made.


Dude, my model takes all this into account and the answer is: 2 degrees


You list #8 Atmospheric Composition. What about the Atmosphere itself. It has mass, layers (strata), etc. and I did not see much about these mentioned, although it was skimmed. It would be good to have the Atmosphere by itself given a number in this list. Also, Under #8 Atmospheric Composition I did not see any references to strata, mass, temperature decrease with elevation, boiling points at various pressures, etc.
Perhaps I am off target here, but thought I’d throw in my 2 cents.

Good answers in return of this difficulty with solid arguments and describing the whole thing regarding

Wandering magnetic poles affect the 21% oxygen which gets more and more paramagnetic as spirals poleward. Check out a new climate change theory at this dedicated website: