Discussion of this paper got quite heated on Lucia Liljegren’s blog and elsewhere a year or so ago. Now it has been published in a high impact journal. Hopefully Lucia might stop by to explain her objections, and tell us what if anything has changed in this final version. This is potentially an important paper. It remains to be seen if it will become accepted and built on by people working in the area of atmospheric thermodynamics. The authors website is interesting: http://www.bioticregulation.ru/
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 1039-1056, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Where do winds come from? A new theory on how water vapor condensation influences atmospheric pressure and dynamics
A. M. Makarieva1,2, V. G. Gorshkov1,2, D. Sheil3,4,5, A. D. Nobre6,7, and B.-L. Li2
1Theoretical Physics Division, Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute, 188300, Gatchina, St. Petersburg, Russia
2XIEG-UCR International Center for Arid Land Ecology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
3School of Environment, Science and Engineering, Southern Cross University, P.O. Box 157, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia
4Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Kabale, Uganda
5Center for International Forestry Research, P.O. Box 0113 BOCBD, Bogor 16000, Indonesia
6Centro de Ciência do Sistema Terrestre INPE, São José dos Campos SP 12227-010, Brazil
7Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Manaus AM 69060-001, Brazil
Abstract. Phase transitions of atmospheric water play a ubiquitous role in the Earth’s climate system, but their direct impact on atmospheric dynamics has escaped wide attention. Here we examine and advance a theory as to how condensation influences atmospheric pressure through the mass removal of water from the gas phase with a simultaneous account of the latent heat release. Building from fundamental physical principles we show that condensation is associated with a decline in air pressure in the lower atmosphere. This decline occurs up to a certain height, which ranges from 3 to 4 km for surface temperatures from 10 to 30 °C. We then estimate the horizontal pressure differences associated with water vapor condensation and find that these are comparable in magnitude with the pressure differences driving observed circulation patterns.
The water vapor delivered to the atmosphere via evaporation represents a store of potential energy available to accelerate air and thus drive winds. Our estimates suggest that the global mean power at which this potential energy is released by condensation is around one per cent of the global solar power – this is similar to the known stationary dissipative power of general atmospheric circulation. We conclude that condensation and evaporation merit attention as major, if previously overlooked, factors in driving atmospheric dynamics.
Citation: Makarieva, A. M., Gorshkov, V. G., Sheil, D., Nobre, A. D., and Li, B.-L.: Where do winds come from? A new theory on how water vapor condensation influences atmospheric pressure and dynamics, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 1039-1056, doi:10.5194/acp-13-1039-2013, 2013.
UPDATE: The Editor of the journal made this comment on the discussion section H/T Leo Hickman:
A. Nenes (Editor)
Received and published: 25 January 2013
The authors have presented an entirely new view of what may be driving dynamics
in the atmosphere. This new theory has been subject to considerable criticism
which any reader can see in the public review and interactive discussion of
the manuscript in ACPD (http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/10/24015/2010/
acpd-10-24015-2010-discussion.html). Normally, the negative reviewer comments
would not lead to final acceptance and publication of a manuscript in ACP. After extensive
deliberation however, the editor concluded that the revised manuscript still should
be published – despite the strong criticism from the esteemed reviewers – to promote
continuation of the scientific dialogue on the controversial theory. This is not an endorsement
or confirmation of the theory, but rather a call for further development of the
arguments presented in the paper that shall lead to conclusive disproof or validation by
the scientific community. In addition to the above manuscript-specific comment from
the handling editor, the following lines from the ACP executive committee shall provide
a general explanation for the exceptional approach taken in this case and the precedent
set for potentially similar future cases: (1) The paper is highly controversial, proposing
a fundamentally new view that seems to be in contradiction to common textbook knowledge.
(2) The majority of reviewers and experts in the field seem to disagree, whereas
some colleagues provide support, and the handling editor (and the executive committee)
are not convinced that the new view presented in the controversial paper is wrong.
(3) The handling editor (and the executive committee) concluded to allow final publication
of the manuscript in ACP, in order to facilitate further development of the presented
arguments, which may lead to disproof or validation by the scientific community.