Richard Holle: Getting the study of cycles back into weather forecasting

Posted: July 3, 2011 by Rog Tallbloke in atmosphere, Ocean dynamics, Politics, solar system dynamics

Richard Holle, who has his own section on this blog, and runs the aerolgy website, makes an incisive comment on WUWT, concerning cycles affecting weather patterns. It looks like Paul Vaughan has picked up on the work of Marcel Laroux as well, as highlighted here recently by contributor Thierry.

Richard Holle says:
July 3, 2011 at 3:05 am

Paul Vaughan says:
July 2, 2011 at 10:35 am
Dave Springer wrote (July 2, 2011 at 6:59 am)
“There is a chicken-egg paradox that remains controversial. The controversy is whether weather drives rotation rate changes or rotation rate change drives the weather. Either way there is strong correlation between changing winds and changing rotation rate. Winds are definitely a big factor in SST oscillations. [...] heretofore I was unaware of a connection between earth rotation rate and wind patterns. Rotation rate changes are so small I thought it could be ignored for all practical matters. I’m still not convinced it shouldn’t be ignored.”

There’s no controversy here Dave. It has been known for decades that pole-equator contrasts induced by the seasons drive the westerlies and hence atmospheric angular momentum and changes in length of day. If your objective is to know what time it is, go ahead and ignore the changes, but if your objective is to understand terrestrial climate, see the following:
Leroux, Marcel (1993). The Mobile Polar High: a new concept explaining present mechanisms of meridional air-mass and energy exchanges and global propagation of palaeoclimatic changes. Global and Planetary Change 7, 69-93.
Please take however much time is necessary to understand. The discussion cannot advance until people make the effort to understand the basics.

My reply;

If you read the paper by Leroux he has found and well defined the actions of the air masses, that make up a typical lunar declinational tidal bulge.

The Mobile Polar Highs are the polar component of the resultant tidal bulges and the equatorial air masses he thought were pushed by the polar highs are actually pulled off of the meteorological equator or “ITCZ”. The slow and fast phases he eludes to are the result of the 18.6 year variation of the declinational angle at culmination with reference to the equator.

Reading his paper and substituting Lunar tidal bulge (LTB) for MPH, he very accurately describes the whole range of topographical effects of the orthographic forcing of the global circulation projected on the various topographical features. Rossby saw the zonal flows and jet streams as the feature of primary interest, where Leroux saw the pulses of turbulent meridional flow aspects of the Lunar tidal effects on the atmospheric circulation.

Neither of them looked at the orbital dynamics of the Moon and its close ties to the patterns seen on the surface, and still the mainstream is ignorant of the patterns and timing of the global circulation, that can be forecast from including the reference point of the lunar declinational tidal effects. For over 20 years now no one has made the connection between these studied and accepted dynamics, to the real driver the Moon.

Now the current political agenda has every one focused on demonic CO2, and still no one can look up and see the moon for what it does, The big lie that was told, “the moon has no effect on the weather” repeatably to switch the focus of funding from cyclic studies to Numerical models, has been as complete as they are now trying to do with CO2 based climate models. For the same reason you cannot tax the moon, and models are cleaner and safer than doing research outside.

The answer is still the same the solar/lunar connection to the global circulation is most of the natural variability, most of the rest is the modulation of the SSN/solar CME/ flare activity as a result of the electromagnetic influences of the outer planets acting on the sun and inner planets movement about the SSB. Many times the answers have been found but not referenced to the drivers causing the effects, so are still not understood as to total effects to the point of being able to predict weather or climate. It is only through finding the drivers and patterns of their influences will we be able to forecast more that 10 days out into the future.

  1. In the body of the text, Leroux has almost the complete picture of global circulation with the one exception he did not know the moon is driving the tidal bulges he so well described the actions of with the changes in the 18.6 year declinational signal, but never saw the connection.

    I forgot to add a comment to Dave Springer’s most interesting question, is the LOD and the atmospheric angular momentum, in charge of the correlation seen or is it just a synchronization, of the both of them (as well as the mantel and inner core) being driven together by the inductive changes in the strength of the solar wind flux slowly shifting in response?

    It is my personal feeling that the local static fields on the earth, are at close to balanced with the standing magnetic flux density patterns, due to the geographic make up of that part of the Earth. So the inducted shifts affect the whole system, just like a stapler molded in Jello, (Office joke) and so which comes first is a mute point, the only noticeable lags among the different segments of the whole system, is due to the viscosity, ion content, conductivity, specific heat, and density.

  2. Stephen Wilde says:

    Would it be feasible to separate out lunar effects on the surface pressure distribution from solar effects?

    I’m satisfied as can be with current data that the sun has a top down effect but via chemical changes involving ozone altering the vertical temperature profile of the atmosphere from above.

    Since the moon does not affect atmospheric chemistry I’m not sure how the moon would affect surface pressure distribution.

    It could perhaps do it by influencing internal oceanic cycles.via gravitational effects with the oceans then influencing the vertical temperature profile of the atmosphere from the bottom up. Is that what is being proposed here?

    To shift the surface pressure distribution one has to involve changes in the vertical temperature profile regionally and/or globally. Gravitational effects from sun, moon or planets cannot achieve that without acting via an intermediate mechanism.

    [Reply RH; All of the text books on tidal effects state first off that tidal effects will not show a change in elevation or pressure in an unbounded ocean, as there is no up slope to cause vertical wave action. All you will see will be the generation of turbulence in the constrictions in the smooth flow caused by the bottom topography.
    That is what we see in the atmosphere, the resultant turbulent flow due to lunar tidal effects is the global weather patterns themselves. The very patterns of the flows can be forecast as well as the ocean tides at a known location.
    See the maps posted on for an example of a four year old forecast for today and the next two and a half years made with this repeating pattern.

  3. tallbloke says:

    Stephen, why would a tidal bulge in the atmosphere not affect pressure at the surface?

  4. Stephen Wilde says:

    The atmosphere being so thin and getting thinner with height I’m not sure that direct gravitational effects on a medium of such low density would have a significant influence.

    The oceans being far denser are another matter entirely. Gravitational effects on a large body of water would induce changes in the behaviour of the water that would then affect the air above far more than would a direct gravitational effect on the air.

    So I agree that gravitational changes could induce a significant tidal effect on the air but only if conducted through and amplified by the oceans.

    Even then the primary influence on the vertical temperature profile of the atmosphere would be temperature changes at the ocean surface that would result from a gravitationally induced alteration of internal oceanic behaviour.

    I’ve just noticed Richard’s reply inserted into my post but I’m not sure that it addresses the issue. If there were no moon there would still be weather patterns and climate zones would there not?

  5. The inductive heating of the Earth’s core that keeps it molten and churning, would be gone and most of the drive behind plate tectonics no longer active, no tidal effects to intermittently drive the trade winds so they would go to a constant flow and volume rate, frontal systems resulting from the de-ionization of cloud particles that now give rapid precipitation occurring in thin bands because of the MPH dynamics Leroux defined so well, will loose their definition and be replaced by truely thermal convection consisting of slower condensational precipitation, wide fronts moving at slow speed due to lack of much contrast in short distances, and the conventional view would work much better than it does.

  6. Theodore White says:

    It has been well known for centuries that the transits of Moon impact the Earth’s weather with its tidal effects, including those of land, air and water tides. There are thousands of scientific studies over many decades in the modern era that shows the 18.5-18.6 periodicity of what amounts to the returns of the Moon’s nodes.

    The Moon raises the air tide of the Earth and this is easily witnessed by the Moon’s transits above and below the horizon where the cold of space comes closer to the Earth, thus forcing condensation of clouds.

    Anyone who follows the transits of the Moon can easily record the atmospheric effects when the Moon rises and falls below the horizon, as well as the weather effects of the Moon’s transits by northern and southern declination.

    As a forecaster, it often amazes me how those who say they are interested in the Earth’s climate and weather see and speak about these matters in pieces, but fail to account for the whole, that is the bigger picture.

    Our planet is part of a solar system, the Earth lives in space and our climate and weather is forced from space by the driver transits of the Sun, Moon and planets. I regularly forecast climate events months and years in advance by means of astrometeorology, so the Moon’s direct influences on the Earth’s weather is no surprise whatsoever.

  7. There is much knowledge, and so little time, what to study first when almost every question be gets another, #1 what about an effect? How many ways can you measure the interactions, then how much data has been collected about the mechanisms, of action, patterns of interactions and how to filter for the separate effects, when the composite of all of the influences is what is needed to be known, to see the results of the combined harmonic balance interacting as the result of their compounding to result in the reality perceived.

    To wrap your self up in Grandmas quilt is to better understand the whole of it, than by dissembling it back into little squares and testing each piece alone.

    Most of the problem is due to over specialization, it takes some one with wide scope to assemble jig saw puzzles, rather than many who hide their own polished piece in their pocket. Open discussion, rather than hotly contested two sided argument about which piece to find a place for next, make much more headway in solving unknown puzzles.

  8. Stephen Wilde says:

    I’m having a difficulty here despite the explanations offerred.

    As I see it the lunar effects on the air would be miniscule because air is of such low density.,

    Also lunar effects on the land would be miniscule because land is of such high density.

    However I can readily accept lunar effects on the oceans (with a secondary effect on the air) because water is of just the right density to respond to lunar forces on a timescale relevant to the human experience of climate shifts.

    However lunar effects on the oceans are of relatively short periodicities, usually on a month by month basis so how does that give us climate changes such as those seen from MWP to LIA to date?

    There is a neat solar periodicity over 500 year timescales such as the changes from LIA to date but not so for lunar periodicities.

    So, I’m willing to accept short term lunar effects mediated via the oceans but longer term variations seem to be solar induced.

    Thus we see longer term top down solar effects modulated by internal oceanic variability from the bottom up with the latter at least partially influenced by shorter term lunar periodicities.

    Does that square the circle?

  9. tallbloke says:

    Stephen, although the bulge caused by the Moon in the atmosphere isn’t a ‘heavyweight’ like ocean movement, its effect might be subtle, but important. It will effectively change the hieght of the troposphere and have rapid temperature effects which will affect chemical processes. I don’t know of much research in this area, but I certainly wouldn’t write it off. I do agree with you that the ocean sets the overall temperateure of the atmosphere, but this is also couple with and affected by top of atmosphere radiation rates, affected by Sun and Moon.

    Much to discover.

  10. Stephen Wilde says:

    Yes Rog, I can go with that.

    However I’m still inclined to think that the effect of the moon on the oceans (and via the oceans on the air) is likely to vastly outweigh the direct effect of the moon on the air in so far as the height of the tropopause is concerned.

    But, as you say, there is much to discover.

    Mind you the chemical processes in the upper atmosphere seem to be affected most by variations in the mix of particles and wavelengths from the sun. I’m not so sure that temperature effects come first and then themselves affect the chemical processes. As far as I can tell it is the chemical processes involving ozone that affect the temperature of the upper atmosphere so as to affect the height of the tropopause from above.

    And the the height of the tropopause is then affected from below by sea surface temperaturers.

    The moon could theoretically modulate either or both processes but how could one ever tell ?

  11. The 27.32 day lunar declinational tides run from Maximum culmination South to North and back South again, or 13.66 from culmination to culmination. The solar apparent declination runs from one extreme culmination to the other in 6 months, and you have no problem seeing the seasonal effects in the Air mass movement.

    The tidal force exerted by the moon is 2X stronger than the sun

    “””Solar tides” are caused by the sun’s gravitational pull and are weaker than lunar tides.
    The sun is 27 million times more massive than the moon, but it is also 390 times farther away. As a result, the sun has 46 percent of the tide-generating forces (TGFs) that the moon has, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).””

    So every fortnight the moon exerts twice the declinational tidal force the sun does over a 6 months period, so basically twice the energy 13 times as often in a year. 13 X 2 = 26 times as much (rounding down from 46%) churning effect on the atmosphere. Simple enough I don’t have to reduce it to ergsX10^? To show relative atmospheric disruption energy of the Moon =X26 the effect as the sun.

    There is a 6 year pattern of LOD changes due to the nodal progression of the Moon relative to the suns progression through the year, from the interactions of the phase relationship of the tidal bulges, and at three times that, we find the 6558 day long period of 240 declinational cycles that finds the Lunar phase, perigee, apogee, and declination angle back in sync with the positions of the inner planets, as well as 240 rotations of the magnetic poles of the sun. Every magnetic rotation of the suns poles is in sync to the declinational movement of the moon to with in ~ 5 minutes, for as far back as the Naval ephemeris has records of both.

  12. tallbloke says:

    Good question. By a study which was of sufficient ganularity to seperate the diurnal from the monthly I guess. But then, the solar rotation of around the same period might confound that too. A good puzzle. Maybe the declination effect could be isolated.

  13. Stephen Wilde says:

    Richard said:

    “There is a 6 year pattern of LOD changes.”


    “So every fortnight the moon exerts twice the declinational tidal force the sun does over a 6 months ”


    “three times that, we find the 6558 day long period of 240 declinational cycles.”

    That’s fine and I accept it but that is a matter of weather and not climate.

    How can one jump from fortnightly or 6 yearly (half a solar cycle) or even 18 year (not far from the 22 year solar cycle) influences to climate shifts over multiple decades or multiple centuries?

    In my humble opinion it seems far more likely that climate shifts are sun/ocean induced with lunar and/or LOD effects limited to weather events within the background trend.

  14. tallbloke says:

    LOD has multi-centennial trends.

  15. Stephen Wilde says:

    How large are the multicentannial trends in the face of solar variability and internal oceanic variability?

    Are LOD changes drivers or merely very slight modulators?

  16. Tenuc says:

    Richard Holle says:
    July 3, 2011 at 5:31 pm
    “…’Solar tides” are caused by the sun’s gravitational pull and are weaker than lunar tides.
    The sun is 27 million times more massive than the moon, but it is also 390 times farther away. As a result, the sun has 46 percent of the tide-generating forces (TGFs) that the moon has, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)…’

    So every fortnight the moon exerts twice the declinational tidal force the sun does over a 6 months period, so basically twice the energy 13 times as often in a year. 13 X 2 = 26 times as much (rounding down from 46%) churning effect on the atmosphere. Simple enough I don’t have to reduce it to ergsX10^? To show relative atmospheric disruption energy of the Moon =X26 the effect as the sun…”

    Sun’s gravity at Earth is ~0.006m/s^2, compared to the moon’s gravity ~0.000033m/s^2, meaning the moons gravity is two orders of magnitude less. We could probably guessed this would be the case otherwise, if the moon had a stronger felt gravitational effect, we would be orbiting the moon rather than the sun!

    If gravity caused tides we should be experiencing solar tides which utterly swamp moon tides – solar tides would be ~200 times as great as lunar tides and there would be a large equatorial bulge of water follow the apparent motion of the Sun overhead.

    So if gravity isn’t the culprit, what causes the observed strong lunar tidal effect?


    Stephen Wilde says:
    July 3, 2011 at 8:08 pm
    “..’How large are the multicentannial trends in the face of solar variability and internal oceanic variability?…’

    Are LOD changes drivers or merely very slight modulators?”

    I don’t think LOD changes have other than a tiny unmeasurable effect on weather/climate, rather they are an good indicator of the many other climate processes which do cause weather/climate change (solar system – ocean currents – ocean tides – atmospheric circulation – EM field changes – seismic activity… e.t.c.)

  17. Stephen Wilde says:

    I woud tend to agree with Tenuc that LOD variations are a consequence of other changes that also affect the circulation of the atmosphere.

    Thus lunar effects will cause variations within the oceans that then in turn affect both atmospheric air circulation AND length of day.

    I can see how oceanic ‘drag’ effects would influence LOD but I think one must have the oceanic effect first.

    Gravity will affect a liquid far more effectively than it will affect a gas (the air) or a solid (the land).

    As tallbloke says there may well be multicentennial LOD variations from slight changes in the lunar relationship with the Earth but I cannot see them having a significant climate effect because the solar and oceanic forces are far more substantial.

  18. tallbloke says:

    Richard Gross of NASA thinks the multidecadal trends in LOD are due to shifting circulations in the molten material within the Earth. I’ve found a good correlataion with solar barycentric motion, so I think the planets are affecting the Earth’s rotation. As to the effect, well, there are 10^21 kg of water swilling around in the oceans and even a few milliseconds change in the length of day will cause an immense amount of upwelling on the continental coasts the water piles up against as the ocean’s inertia fights the change in the rotation speed of the solid Earth. In principle this should be reasonably easy to approximate.

  19. Stephen Wilde says:

    Yes, I think shifts in the Earth’s molten interior could affect the oceans just as could external gravitational influences directly on all that water.

    One has to affect the oceans first and then the air follows but LOD variability is just another consequence of those other changes rather than itself a cause of climate changes.

    So the question is whether the effect on the air of gravitationally induced changes in the oceans are significant as compared to global albedo changes that occur as the surface air pressure shifts around latitudinally.

    Remember that those global albedo changes alter solar shortwave input to the oceans and without changes in that parameter the gravitational effects would have nothing to work on in any event.

    I think the primary climate effect is from albedo changes arising from top down solar changes at the poles and bottom up oceanic changes around the equator. The two effects combine to change the amount of energy running through the system and that changes the positions and characteristics of the global climate zones.

    Gravitational effects operate via changes in the molten interior and in the ocean circulations and that affects LOD minutely but more importantly global albedo by shifting the surface pressure distribution from below.. I don’t see a place for tidal effects directly upon the air. Nor do I see LOD changes as more than a side effect unless they suddenly become much larger.

  20. Tenuc says:

    Stephen Wilde says:
    July 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm
    “…. Nor do I see LOD changes as more than a side effect unless they suddenly become much larger.”

    Perhaps LOD changes are not even a side effect, rather they are a close-coupled indicator of the integrated total of some of the processes which can/do cause changes to climate.

    Bit like the speedo on a car which shows the integrated effect of accelorator depresson, gear selected, gradient of the road, direction of the wing… e.t.c. However, like a car speedo, can’t show what proportion of the velocity was caused by each factor, LOD can’t tell you what bit of the combined ‘climate’ processes effect caused the changes.

    We can assume or produce conjectures or cherry pick, but we need other indicators to really understand what’s actually happening at the detail level.

  21. bill says:

    the air in a low pressure area is rising and cooling – - thus contracting –which causes the low pressure .

    vice-versa for a high pressure area. The high pressure area has the least elevation since low pressure areas “dump” their cooled air into the top of a high pressure area – which, in turn, passes its bottom warm air to the low pressure area.

    For every force there is an equal and opposite force. without a moon at all – the sun produces a tide simultaneously on both the sun side and the shaded side of the earth. the shaded side is a slightly lower tide due to the earth accepting some of the force. The full moon causes a slight increase in in the solar induced tide. A new moon causes a larger increase in the solar induced tide.

  22. bill says:

    maybe an “OOpsy” in my thought on tides .

    the earth is supposed to be in “free fall” orbit of the sun – - which would produce no tide at all.

    the orbit of the earth around the earth – moon BC causes a wobble in our solar “free fall” orbit.

    the effect would be similar to an amusement park roller coaster ride.

  23. bill says:

    usually the air in a high pressure area warms due to a lack of cloud cover which allows the sun to warm the air. in the Arctic winter there isn’t a whole lot of sunshine. then the major low pressure areas refuse to accept the “half cooked” (mostly raw) air that the high pressure area wants to slip into the bottom of the lows. the lows sit over Greenland and the Allutian area where they can get “fully cooked” air from the oceans close by. Like a pig in a trough – they aren’t going to move out of the road. These low pressure areas keep pumping their cooled air into the upper Arctic troposphere that has no place to go since the high pressure areas cannot get rid of their bottom air. this produces an unstable condition. the Arctic Temp inversion is a layer of warm air at elevation in the high pressure areas (because their air mass is not moving)
    the layer of warm air produces a “fault line” effect so that any small disturbance can then cause the upper cold air to slide off to lower latitudes (while having to go around the pigs in the troughs)

    As Tenuc pointed out – our observed tide effects do not match the masses to which they are generally attributed. I would suggest that the amount of acceleration required to keep the earth off center of our orbital path could represent the mass required to produce the observed tides. – in other words, the observed tides are then caused by a variable portion of the earth’s mass depending on our path around the earth – moon BC (our orbital path) Since that BC is directly between the center of the earth and the moon – - it appears – for most intents and purposes – that the moon and it’s shenanigans are the cause.

    We have to bring all of the solar system into account to calculate the exact total forces acting on the earth’s orbit of the E-M BC.

  24. The original intent of this post was to draw attention to the fact that others have found the mechanisms that churn the atmosphere, that need to be considered to give a good forecast are that the lunar tidal effects are the major drivers of the global circulation in both the atmosphere and oceans, Marcel Leroux is one of those who grasp the dynamics, with out understanding the connection to the lunar tidal effects that make the timing and pattern of re-occurrence predictable.

    Irving Krick was another, Ken ring is attempting to forecast with only considering the moon’s dynamics and ignoring the solar and planetary influences (may have up dated his ideas lately, I don’t know) There are a couple people that post on here that do not see how the lunar tides can work, because of the turbulence generated in the jet stream patterns as they fold over them selves as they traverse the N Atlantic headed for UK and Europe.

    I’m currently in the midst of a great project that will be very helpful in making these patterns more visible. A visual aid of sorts, an animated time lapse of GOES satellite photos that clearly portrays the resultant patterns of these influences. As progress is made updates will be posted here.

    Mean while views of how the whole solar system interacts can be found here.

  25. bill says:

    interesting post on WUWT today regarding Ionospheric “air glow” signature of tsunami waves

    seems to confirm the notion that ocean tides could (DO?) produce much larger “tide” in the atmosphere

  26. Tim Channon says:

    bill, yes I saw that first thing for me and wondered whether it would make a useful article. Decided against it for various reasons including the opaque language where very little is actually said.

    The wavefront is most likely from the wave, nothing to do with the quake or precursors so it doesn’t really fit here. Also, no mention of anything at all directly connected with the quake or before, perhaps a more significant and unsexy factor. (null is useful, they’d be screaming from the rooftops if there was)

    Tallbloke might think differently.

  27. bill says:


    My 15 July post was to provide commentary on a wave form similar to a tidal bulge but of a different origin .

    (a sort of comparing of notes)

    I think that the speed and direction of movement of the air mass in contact with a wave or bulge would play a large part in deciding the potential effects.

  28. tallbloke says:

    I agree with Tim that the ‘air glow’ is an effect of the tsunami wave rather than a precursor of the earthquake which causes it. I see Bill’s point that he sees it as an interesting event which might help us appreciate the size of the effect from other tide causing agents like the Moon. I’d likt to see some data.