Archive for the ‘atmosphere’ Category

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.


H/T to talkshop contributor Wayne for this short piece from the physics of sailing blog which tells us that near surface windspeeds have fallen over the last 30 years. However, the evidence in a presentation by Hartwig Volz on seawater emissivity I came across yesterday apparently contradicts this. I’ve becalmed-yachtadded a couple of the relevant plot’s from that below the short article, but do take a look at the whole pdf slideshow. The discussion of wind speed is highly relevant to the whole climate debate, including the fundamentals of ocean-atmosphere interaction, energy balance and surface warming. Recall that Hans Jelbring’s thesis was entitled ‘Wind Controlled Climate‘ . 

The Wind is Dying

Wind speed has significantly decreased in the 29 years from 1979 to 2008. In extreme cases, the wind decrease was a significant 15%. More specifically, the wind decreased at 73% of measuring stations which were 10 meters above the surface (about mast height for many smaller sailboats). The measurements were mostly from Europe, but also from the United States, China and Russia.


I came across this paper today while searching for the heat capacity of Venus near surface atmosphere, which is actually an ocean-like (in thermodynamic terms) supercritical fluid. It presages Harry Dale Huffman’s ‘rediscovery’ of the lapse rate calculation by four decades. Another paper, much more recent, (Bolmatov et al 2013) contains some theory which raises yet more questions about the reasons for Venus’ high surface temperature. So, greenhouse due to radiative proerties of co2 as Sagan claimed, lapse rate due to gravity and pressure as Nikolov and Zeller maintain, or the thermal properties of supercritical fluids and geothermal energy having a hard time escaping the lower atmosphere? Let the debate recommence!



Gizmag has a report on a successful test flight by World View Enterprises of their 1/10 scale model of the real thing. Can I have a go please:


I’m of the opinion that before getting into the complexity of numerical modelling, it’s wise to put considerable effort into trying to understand the physical processes at work in the climate system, and the origins of the energy flows that drive them. David Evans’ recent series of posts over at Jo Nova’s site have generated a lot of interesting discussion (despite being roundly ignored by Anthony Watts at WUWT), and I think we can shed some light on the ‘mysterious 11yr lag’ between solar input and climate response.


An interesting series of posts has appeared at Jo Nova’s site. Jo’s husband, David Evans has done some competent analysis work to unravel the observed ~11 yr ‘delay’ in terrestrial climatic response to solar input. Of interest is the obervation that the solar polar magnetic fields are in the process of weakeneing and changing sign near solar maximum. It is suspected that this is connected with the delay. Head on over to read the posts and comment there as well as here.

Figure 6: The amplitudes of the empirical transfer function when the data is restricted in the ways marked (that is, using a subset of the data used to find Figure 5). The black line and the gray zone are as in Figure 5.

BIG NEWS Part I: Historic development — New Solar climate model coming
BIG NEWS Part II: For the first time – a mysterious notch filter found in the climate
BIG NEWS Part III: The notch means a delay
BIG NEWS part IV: A huge leap understanding the mysterious 11 year solar delay

I have made a comment, reproduced below the break.


From 16th May 2014 CERN newswire, I missed it

CERN Experiment Sheds New Light on Cloud Formation

Geneva, 16 May 2014 – In a paper published in the journal Science today, CERN’s* CLOUD** experiment has shown that biogenic vapours emitted by trees and oxidised in the atmosphere have a significant impact on the formation of clouds, thus helping to cool the planet. These biogenic aerosols are what give forests seen from afar their characteristic blue haze. The CLOUD study shows that the oxidised biogenic vapours bind with sulphuric acid to form embryonic particles which can then grow to become the seeds on which cloud droplets can form. This result follows previous measurements from CLOUD showing that sulphuric acid alone could not form new particles in the atmosphere as had been previously assumed.

“This is a very important result,” said CLOUD spokesperson Jasper Kirkby,…