Archive for the ‘atmosphere’ Category


I’d not followed up on the saga of DMS, a reminder came up so I’ve dug out the tale up to 2003 or so. What then, can anyone add more? Because IPCC AR4 looks to me to be obfuscating. Best do a quick scan of the long article before dipping too deeply into links.

“Dimethyl sulfide (DMS) or methylthiomethane is an organosulfur compound with the formula (CH3)2S. Dimethyl sulfide is a water-insoluble flammable liquid that boils at 37 °C (99 °F) and has a characteristic disagreeable odor. It is a component of the smell produced from cooking of certain vegetables, notably maize, cabbage, beetroot and seafoods.”
And the smell of seaside. Stinky stuff is Sulphur.

Why mention this on the Talkshop?
Ocean critters produce the stuff, a very complex situation.
The C is produced from CO2. S probably from volcanoes. Predation of the critters is also involved etc. part of a food chain.  Sulphur is in short supply, so bad that farming often needs additional input wherein lies yet another sad tale of enviro own goals, perhaps too why volcanic soils are lauded as highly productive.

Dated 2000

  • Abstract. Continuous measurements of atmospheric dimethylsulfide (DMS) have been performed over a 10-year period (1990-1999) at Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian Ocean. Atmospheric DMSranges from 5 to1930 parts per trillion by volume (pptv) and shows a clear seasonal variation with a factor of 20 in amplitude between its maximum in January (austral summer) and minimum in July-August (austral winter). Important deviations from the 10-year monthly mean as high as 100% have been detected, which could not be explained by changes in meteorology and/or oxidation capacity of the atmosphere. Comparison with a three dimensional (3-D) chemistry/transport model revealed that changes in the source strength of DMS as high as a factor of 2 were required to account for such DMS interannual variations. In addition, DMS variability was found to be closely related to sea surface temperature anomalies, clearly indicating a link between DMS and climate changes.
    — [1]

Fig 7a from Sciare et al

From this I assume there is a strong positive cloud seeding temperature coefficient but suitable data for an attempt at computing effect does not seem to exist.



Over on realclimate, (remember them?), Stefan ‘there is no pause’ Rahmsdorf has posted an article about why OHC makes a lousy climate policy target. I’ve left a comment concerning a sentence further down in the post, but here’s the intro:

donkey-cartThe New York Times, 12 December 2027: After 12 years of debate and negotiation, kicked off in Paris in 2015, world leaders have finally agreed to ditch the goal of limiting global warming to below 2 °C. Instead, they have agreed to the new goal of limiting global ocean heat content to 1024 Joules. The decision was widely welcomed by the science and policy communities as a great step forward. “In the past, the 2 °C goal has allowed some governments to pretend that they are taking serious action to mitigate global warming, when in reality they have achieved almost nothing. I’m sure that this can’t happen again with the new 1024 Joules goal”, said David Victor, a professor of international relations who originally proposed this change back in 2014. And an unnamed senior EU negotiator commented: “Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but some heads of state had trouble understanding the implications of the 2 °C target; sometimes they even accidentally talked of limiting global warming to 2%. I’m glad that we now have those 1024 Joules which are much easier to grasp for policy makers and the public.”


bare-arsed2No reply from the eminent atmospheric physics professor… any takers?

Dear Professor xxxxxxx,

I am trying to better understand the physics underlying atmospheric science and wondered if you could answer a question for me.

The Modtran model successfully predicts the local temperature throughout the troposphere, but how do we determine the extent to which the level of radiative activity at a particular altitude is the effect of the local temperature at that altitude rather than the cause of it?

I ask because it appears from my limited reading and understanding that the theoretical underpinning of radiative-convective models neglects the effect of sea level pressure on the rate of evaporation, which must surely have a significant effect on the rate at which the ocean is able to shed the energy input to it by solar radiation.


From the Guardian:

bare-arsedTwelve scientists and sceptics (sic) have met privately to discuss how to suck the venom out of the climate change debate.

It was one of science’s strangest social events to date.

Some of the best known names in the climate debate – including Mail on Sunday journalist David Rose, blogger Anthony Watts, and Met Office scientist Richard Betts – shared salmon and civilities at a dinner party last month.

Hosted by the sceptical scientist Nicholas Lewis at his house in Bath in September, the group discussed their similarities, differences, and how they might calm the debate that rages across the pathologically provocative medium of Twitter.

“Both sides are really fed up with the outrageous alarmists who are not representing science properly. Both don’t like those who shout about it and call people names and take a polarised point of view,” says David Whitehouse from the sceptic thinktank The Global Warming Policy Foundation.


Hockey Schtick: CO2 does what exactly?

Posted: September 12, 2014 by tchannon in atmosphere, Natural Variation, ozone

Oh the irony!
Cutting CO2 emissions is…



Yes, that’s right, deadly man-made CO2 is the largest cooling agent of the stratosphere as demonstrated by this computer-modeled representation of stratospheric cooling rates:


Image from blog article, originally in E M Smith’s article


Spot the polar vortex [image credit: BBC]

Spot the polar vortex
[image credit: BBC]

Before the usual media suspects get too worked up at yet another ‘study’ proclaiming something or other about humans and climate effects, let’s note what this well-known IPCC author thinks of it:

‘Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, … said he doesn’t agree with Yoon’s study.’


This article appeared recently in a slightly different form on my own web site. 

A new university satellite is scheduled launch 2015[1] with a web site for the project available in English

Mikhail Lomonosov (1711 – 1765) helped establish what is now known as Moscow University, decree signed 1755, 250 years ago.

According to Lomonosov’s plan, there were originally three faculties. First all the students acquired a comprehensive knowledge in the field of science and humanities at the Faculty of Philosophy; then they could specialize and continue at the Faculty of Philosophy or join either the Law Faculty or The Faculty of Medicine. Lectures were delivered either in Latin, the language of educated people at the time, or in Russian. [2]


Aurora drawing


Atmospheric vertical circulation

Illustrations from a book published 1753. Text, perhaps embellished a little as these things are, “Mikhail Lomonosov – the Pioneer of Russian Science” nevertheless looks a good fellow.

The satellite is named Lomonosov.


Mars-Earth comparison [image credit: Wikipedia]

Mars-Earth comparison
[image credit: Wikipedia]

It’s an old question, and investigations are hotting up. reports: ‘On October 19, 2014, Comet Siding Spring will pass by Mars only 132,000 km away—which would be like a comet passing about 1/3 of the distance between Earth and the Moon.’

In other words, very close. And NASA’s MAVEN probe will arrive at Mars just in time to see the show.


hh-p3Image from NOAA press release

NOAA operate a number of hurricane hunter aircraft including three venerable P3-Orion turboprops for low level long duration surveillance.

Taking two out of service for maintenance work as the peak of the hurricane season approaches looks remiss.

I suppose that depends on the true role in 2014 in an era of satellites, radar and alternate aircraft. However according to wikipedia there is also the USAF 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron  flying into tropical storms, perhaps that is sufficient.

There again perhaps NOAA believe the season will be quiet… NOAA superstitious? That’s more like it, remove resource, the gods respond.

The story comes from Reuters

Retrofit leaves one plane to fly into U.S. East Coast storms


Paul’Vaughan posted a link to this plot on the tail end of a long running thread which has dropped off the front page now, so I thought I’s give it prominence today. It’s a ‘food for thought’ starter – the main course will be served as and when Paul has time.


It’s all coming together. Both Paul and I have been working on the sunspot integral over the last several years. Back in 2009 I found that by subtracting the average sunspot number at which the ocean neither gains nor loses energy from the monthly value and summing the running total, I could make use of the sunspot integral as a proxy for ocean heat content (OHC).


imageThe Met Office has unveiled their latest update:

Even Newer Dynamics for General atmospheric modelling of the environment (ENDGame)

ENDGame is an evolution of the current dynamical core, the New Dynamics, and is based on a semi-implicit semi-lagrangain discretisation of the governing equations.


From 2020 drivers of all but the most efficient diesel cars and older petrol cars will be charged an additional £10 a day to use the London roads they already pay road tax and a ‘congestion charge’ to travel on. Boris Johnson is bringing in the new levy in response to EU pressure to further reduce emissions. The unelected EU commission launched legal proceedings against Britain in February.


Elsewhere, Labour is planning a network of low-emission zones that would force older diesel vehicles out of many cities. Sheffield, Leicester, Bradford, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol and 14 other cities are considering bringing in the zones to cope with poor air quality.


imageThe New Scientist reports the discovery of many more electron eating bacteria.

Geobacter and Shewanella were the first, now a further eight have been identified.

Kenneth Nealson from the University of South California “electrons must flow in order for energy to be gained. This is why, when someone suffocates another person, they are dead within minutes. You have stopped the supply of oxygen, so the electrons can no longer flow”. Nealsons team have grown electric bacteria on battery electrodes. Bacteria can either “eat” electrons from the higher voltage, or “breathe” electrons to the lower voltage electrode


From, a new paper which looks at how dry atmosphere’s of some exoplanets could cast doubt on long cherished notions about planet formation. Current mainstream thinking is that big planets form a long way out and migrate inwards. Perhaps the opposite may be the case, and ‘hot jupiters’ form near the parent star and increase the size of their orbits asthay gain angular moentum. Supporting this possibility, a recent paper by Poppenhaeger on the electromagnetic coupling of proto-planetary discs with the host star posit a slowing the stellar rotation and a shift of its angular momentum to the forming planets.

hd189733Scientists searching for worlds outside of the Solar System say that three such planets — distant gas giants that resemble Jupiter — are surprisingly dry.

The atmospheres of these exoplanets, known as ‘hot Jupiters’, contain between one-tenth and one-thousandth water vapour than predicted, measurements from the Hubble Space Telescope show. The findings, published 24 July in Astrophysical Journal Letters1, are at odds with theories of how planets form.

Madhusudhan thinks that it is possible, but not likely, that clouds are skewing his results. The particles would have to be high in the atmosphere, above the water vapour, for this to be true. That would place the clouds in the thinnest part of each exoplanet’s atmosphere, but they could be too heavy to stay aloft. The clouds would also need to survive in the wide range of temperatures the three planets’ atmospheres span — 900–2,200 ºC — which models can’t yet explain. “There is just no candidate cloud composition or physics that can do it,” he says.


A seminal moment came 1984 when three papers were published by Christopher Essex on thermal radiative transfer and thermodynamic equilibrium. This year, 2014, Essex joined the GWPF advistory council.
Given the ongoing heated discussions on the Talkshop on broadly this subject, perhaps this adds light. Fat chance!

Here is one of the papers (another can be found, third is paywalled)

Minimum entropy production in the steady state and radiative transfer

Essex, C.
AA(Department of the Environment, Canadian Climate Centre, Ontario)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 285, Oct. 1, 1984, p. 279-293. (ApJ Homepage) 10/1984

An extremum principle is developed for radiative transfer in a gray atmosphere by using a purely thermal example from Planck’s (1913) work on heat radiation. Entropy is accounted for, as is Prigogine’s (1947, 1967) theorem describing equilibrium as a thermodynamic state of minimal entropy.


turbine-failH/T to Glenties WiG for this Yachting Monthly report:

Wind turbine blaze scandal

Up to 120 wind turbines catch fire annually, according to the journal of Fire Safety Science. This is 10 times the number reported by the industry, The figures, compiled by engineers at Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh, make fire the second-largest cause of accidents after blade failure.

The researchers claim that out of 200,000 turbines around the world, 117 fires take place annually, many more than the 12 reported by wind farm companies.


H/T to ‘intrepid Wanders‘ for this repost from the Uni of Reading meteorology section. No settled science here, and lab model derived from far IR wavebands used in climate models and energy budget diagrams rests on a bunch of assumptions. Who knew? Obviously not Trenberth, who has no error bounds on his energy budget. So along with cloud microphysics getting the predicted absorption of energy by clouds wrong by a large margin, we have big uncertainty in the spectral absorption lines of water vapour. Ho hum. Business-as-usual in climate science land.

Water vapour continuum

  In addition to the spectral lines, it has long been recognized that water vapour possesses a continuum absorption which varies relatively slowly with wavelength and pervades the entire IR and microwave spectral region. This has a marked impact on the Earth’s radiation balance with consequences for understanding present day weather and climate and predicting climate change. It is also important for remote sensing of the Earth and its atmosphere.

  Discovered by Hettner (1918) as a low-frequency component of water vapour absorption in atmospheric transparency window 8-14 mcr, this phenomenon remained unexplained for 20 years, until Elsasser (1938) suggested that the continuum is an accumulated far-wingcontribution of strong water vapour spectral lines from neighbour bands. This hypothesis was generally accepted until the end of 70th years when the strong quadratic pressure dependence of the continuum absorption (which could not be explained by Lorentz (1906) line profile) as well as the strong negative temperature dependence have been detected (Bignell et al.,1963;Penner and Varanasi,1967). In this connection Penner and Varanasi (1967) and Varanasi et al. (1968) suggested that the main contribution to the self-continuum could be caused not by far wings of water monomer lines but rather by water dimers. Similar assumption was made also by Viktorova and Zhevakin (1967) for microwave spectral region.


There has been some progress in the greenhouse. On the ‘toy planet’ thread, physicist Tim Folkerts now agrees with me that longwave infra-red radiated from the air towards the surface doesn’t directly heat the ocean but makes it harder for the ocean to cool. In my view this is due to IR radiation from the ocean making the air warm, reducing the temperature differential between ocean and air, slowing the rate of the Sun warmed ocean’s heat loss. Tim says:

LWIR is indeed incapable of “heating” the oceans in the strict sense of the word (net transfer of thermal energy). The best it can do is aid in making it “a far more difficult task escaping” for the energy.

But it’s hard for him to let go of ingrained notions, so his next comment is full of ambiguities, which I have tried to deal with in my followup comment:

Tim Folkerts: The DWIR DOES amount to ~ 330 W/m^2.

Fine, no problem.

This energy DOES get absorbed by the ocean.

In the top few microns, and is soon re-emitted along with an additional ~60W/m^2 IR, upwards.

The ocean IS warmer than it would be without this DWIR from the atmosphere.

But not because it is absorbed and re-emitted from the top few microns of ocean. The thermalisation of IR in the bulk air helps keep the air warm and that warm air slows the sun warmed ocean’s heat loss.

But the reason the air is warm is because the ocean warms it with the energy it emits into it which is absorbed and re-emitted, or conducted to the O2 and N2 in the air, by water vapour (from the ocean) and co2 (mostly from the ocean). Air has very little heat capacity of its own, and is nearly transparent to incoming solar short wave radiation. And this ocean warmed air is usually convecting upwards.


The mainstream climatologists are fond of telling us that additional co2 increases the ‘Effective Height of Emission’ of radiation to space by ‘Greenhouse Gases’, and that this must cause a rise in surface temperature because the lapse rate from the average temperature of 255K at the ‘EEH’ to the surface will mean a higher temperature. That lapse rate is what is shown by the slanting red line from surface to tropopause in Fig 1 below.


Figure 1: The atmospheric temperature profile of Earth

But there are some problems with this theoretical scenario.

The 255K figure is derived from the 240W/m^2 solar shortwave radiation incoming to the Earth’s climate system AFTER a proportion has been removed to account for reflection by clouds. But the models underestimate the amount of solar radiation absorbed by clouds because the fundamental physics of light scattering in clouds is poorly understood.

Although we are told a change in the EEH ‘must’ change the surface temperature, no viable mechanism is offered to explain how this imperative ‘must’ will be enforced.  The more rational proponents of the enhanced greenhouse effect hypothesis long ago abandoned trying to claim ‘downwelling longwave radiation’ heats the ocean, since nearly all LW emitted in wavelengths absorbed by water vapour and co2 is absorbed with a kilometre of the surface, all downwelling longwave from above a kilometre above the surface will be absorbed, converted to sensible heat, and convected back  upwards before reaching the surface too. In any case, the 10% of LW reaching the surface from on high can’t penetrate the ocean surface by more than a few nanometres.

So much for radiative theory, but what can a look at the data for the vertical temperature profile shown in Fig 1 tell us that might be really useful?


Greenhouse effectsFollowing on from our recent debate on the likely extent of the greenhouse effect on Earth, this post will broaden the scope of discussion by allowing consideration of planetary surface temperatures on imaginary worlds. Tim Folkerts proposes a world at the distance from the Sun of our moon (i.e. the same average distance as Earth), with a twist on surface composition:


Just out of curiosity, if I put a ball of water — say a few km in diameter — in some sort of clear plastic baggie to keep it together and prevent evaporation in orbit around the sun @ 1 AU, are you claiming the water inside the baggie will be at least 80 C everywhere?

Or if I put a series of such plastic baggies on the moon to cover the entire surface with water 1 km deep that cannot evaporate, that the surface of the moon would be at or above 80 C everywhere (lets even limit the question to the “tropics” out to ~ 30 degrees N & S to avoid question about what happens at the poles)?

(We could even make the baggie slightly elastic to apply 1 Atm of pressure inward on the ball of water).


Tim appears to have misunderstood what Konrad and I are telling him about the atmosphere being a cooling agent rather than a warming agent, and how pressure acts to slow the loss of energy from the oceans via the atmospheric suppression of evaporation and the increased density of a near surface atmosphere, which is not present on his toy planet.