The message in the clouds

Posted: August 9, 2010 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

Tacking different datasets together is fraught with problems, so I’ve made sure the different datasets on this graph are clearly marked in different colours. Take note Phil Jones and Michael Mann…

cloud-earthshineUpdate: I have replaced the graph with this better calibrated one. There is still an unresolved vertical shift of around 0.3%. I think the ‘y’ axis scale on the leftmost graph has a two orders of magnitude error in it too, it should be 100 times bigger numbers. Such are the vagueries of the skepticalscience.com warmies blog.
Palle et al have been measuring the amount of Earthlight reflected onto the moon as a method of determining the albedo.
ISSCP is meteosat data collated and calibrated by a dedicated team.
CERES is a single satellite in a low orbit.


So given what we already know about the terrestrial amplification of the solar signal from Nir Shaviv’s work on using the oceans as a calorimeter, we won’t be surprised to see a reduction in cloud followed by an increase which matches well with the late C20th warming, followed by the stabilisation of global temperature seen since the big el nino in 1998.

Leif Svalgaard says the solar forcing amounts to around 0.05C over the solar cycle. Nir Shaviv tells us this could be amplified to around 0.35C-0.5C by the terrestrial amplification, probably due to changing albedo. The ~1.6% drop in cloud cover would increase insolation at the surface by around 4W/m^2. This accords well with the figure of ~4W/m^2 I derived from the rise in sea level 1993-2003.

To lose the extra incoming heat-energy Earth’s outgoing longwave radiation has been increasing, despite the extra cloud cover:
outgoing longwave radiation

OLR-Humidity 400mb

But what caused the cloud reduction? Svensmark and Shaviv think’s it’s cosmic rays, and maybe that is part of the answer, since the terrestrial amplification apparently operates over the solar cycle. But it looks like there is room for something else too.

Please post your thoughts below.

Comments
  1. Oikoman says:

    Not sure what you are trying to show on that first graph, but before you combine the datasets, shouldn’t you transform them so they at least have the same unit of measurement for the Y axis? It would also help if you cited the source for your graphs.

  2. tallbloke says:

    I found it too difficult to extract the data from the ISCCP website so I took a ready made graph off the net. The sources of the data are described above. A quick google will get you to the relevant sites. I have scaled the overlapping data betwen the graphs to get a rough and ready match, which I think is adequate for the purpose of general discussion. Feel free to offer something better.

  3. Oikoman says:

    Where would I find the ISCCP graph?

    [Reply:] Here:

  4. To lose the extra incoming heat-energy Earth’s outgoing longwave radiation has been increasing, despite the extra cloud cover
    This could only be explained through convection…with CO2 as one of the crew of heat transferers to space; funny!.

  5. [Reply:] Here:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/Earthshine_2004.gif

    Apparently it shows no time lag for the 1997-98 big El Nino.

  6. tallbloke says:

    Adolpho, that is correct. My hacked together graph “hides the incline” of Palle et al’s preliminary results, 🙂 which they seem to have changed with the mor recent overlaid graph. I would gues this was a calibration issue which they corrected by reference to the other datasets.

  7. Tenuc says:

    Another good thread TB, which links nicely to theSunspots vv Specific Humidity thread.

    Just to be sure my knowledge of cloud formation is correct, here’s my understanding of the event and I’d be grateful if anyone can build on this:-

    Clouds form in the atmosphere when moisture vapour rises and cools, but usually needs a nucleus of some particulate matter to produce a liquid or solid precipitate with a cooling caused by the resulting loss of energy of enthalpy condensation.

    The molecules in H2O are constantly changing phases and if more molecules are leaving a liquid surface than are arriving, net evaporation ensues. However, should more molecules arrive than leave a net condensation is produced. It is these relative flows of molecules which determines whether a cloud forms or evaporates.

    Vapour pressure regulates the rate water vapour molecules arrive at the surface of a cloud drop or ice crystal.

    The rate at which vapour molecules leave the surface depends upon the characteristics of the surface and they can escape from the liquid phase more easily than from ice. They also escape more easily from small drops or small ice particles which have a high surface area bounding a small volume.

    In addition, substances dissolved in the liquid/ice (e.g. SO2) reduce the number of H2O molecules which can escape, while higher temperatures give the molecules more KE, which makes it easier for more molecules to escape.

    The whole process is in constant dynamic change and the amount of cloud produced from a given volume of water vapour can vary quite rapidly over short time periods. This makes measuring the amount of cloud cover an inexact science.

    Comments please 🙂

  8. tallbloke says:

    Tenuc, great summary. Clouds don’t just seed around particulates, but also aerosols of various other types, some of them by-products of the interaction between cosmic rays and the gases in the atmosphere.

    I’m going to redraw the graph tomorrow, I haven’t got it right, and there is room for improvement. The Earthshine trend from 2000 should be flatter, which is more in line with the CERES results. Bad news for warmies 😉

  9. Not to mention the ionic charge on the individual nebulous droplets as the resultant static charge gradient changes between them there is also a size regulation process that keeps them fairly uniform by mutual repulsion, clouds coming from the equator ITCZ carry a net positive charge and from the polar regions a net negative charge that when they meet it accelerates them toward each other with a force greater than gravity.

    The state of change in the homopolar generator effects seen by the earth, charge or discharge, can keep the frontal boundaries separated, or assist in pushing them together, as well as decreasing or increasing the size of the droplets and effecting the albedo, which may not be wavelength dependent?

    Has much work been done to measure droplet size, specific moisture, static charge, on bandpass of wave lengths of the solar incoming spectra, and IR LWR. Or the point where these influences change the reflection, refraction, absorption, properties of clouds in general?

  10. Tenuc says:

    Thanks TB. Look forward to seeing the new improved graph and it may be worth listing out materials the effect cloud production and longevity.

    Here’s our starter for ten!

    Products from high energy cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere.
    Ions from energetic solar wind.
    Ions produced by atmospheric chemistry.
    SAL particulate aerosols (and from other desert areas)
    Ash from volcanoes, forest fires and burning of fossil fuels to produce energy.
    Dissolved gases in water (SO2, CO2…)
    Dissolve compounds from volcanic eruptions.
    Particles from microbiological organisms.
    Plant pollen and fungal spores.
    Micro-fine dust from rock erosion.

    Any more please…:-)

  11. tallbloke says:

    Tenuc, good stuff, keep up the rsearch.

    Richard, maybe Brian Tinsley’s paper on the global electrical circuit might help?
    That’s a pay for paper but I also came across this paper Which looks like it could be right on the topic:

    Click to access 0506077.pdf


    The global atmospheric electrical circuit and climate
    R.G. Harrison
    Department of Meteorology, The University of Reading
    P.O. Box 243, Earley Gate, Reading, Berkshire, RG6 6BB, UK
    Email: r.g.harrison@reading.ac.uk

    From the conclusion:
    Physically-plausible mechanisms linking cloud
    processes with the background electrical properties have been identified in recent work
    (Carslaw et al., 2002), but the theoretical models from which the magnitudes of the
    effects concerned can be calculated are only at an early stage. Indications in several data
    sets suggest that variations in cosmic rays, clouds, the atmospheric electric circuit and
    global temperature, show at points, close relationships. Currently these can be only
    partially explained and theory is required if the statistical relationships found are to be
    understood physically. Figure 12 presents a summary of the global circuit and global
    climate interactions discussed in the paper.
    Further progress requires the integration of different areas of geophysics, which, in
    many cases, are individually relatively well understood. Taken together, however, a new
    GEOP220
    26
    synthesis of cloud, climate and aerosol physics, atmospheric electricity and atmospheric
    physics is necessary. Areas which appear particularly fruitful to consider are:
    · Reconstruction of past changes in the atmospheric electrical circuit on monthly,
    annual and decadal timescales, for comparison with global parameters such as
    global temperatures, cosmic rays and cloud amounts.
    · Measurements or modelled distributions of the spatial and temporal changes in
    ionisation (especially from cosmic rays) in the cloud-forming regions of the
    atmosphere, for comparison of cloud, ion and aerosol properties in the same
    regions.
    · The electrical coupling between non-thunderstorm clouds and the background
    electric field needs to be investigated at an electromagnetic level, theoretically
    and experimentally.
    · Research into the basic properties of the atmospheric electric circuit, in terms of
    its time response to transient events in ionisation (e.g., from nuclear weapons
    tests and sudden cosmic ray decreases).
    There is actually a considerable quantity of disparate surface atmospheric electrical data
    available, together with occasional aircraft and balloon campaigns. A problem is that
    these measurements are in different archives and libraries, and very few are available
    digitally. The data need to be combined to facilitate further analysis. Satellite cloud
    measurements provide high quality measurements of cloud abundance and type.
    Integrating satellite and atmospheric electrical data is an essential step in quantifying the
    electrical influences: however, the meteorological variability in the climate system
    complicates the extraction of small signals, such as those associated with solar
    variability. This may be especially true if the timescales of ion-induced aerosol and
    cloud formation are comparable with the typical timescales of atmospheric changes
    associated with weather systems, as seems likely. Constructing a numerical model of
    cloud microphysics, including the electrical interactions of aerosols, ions and water
    droplets in stratiform clouds presents one example of a quantifiable approach.
    Reconstruction using proxies for past atmospheric electrical changes are likely to prove
    highly valuable, but extension of the basic measurements of atmospheric electricity to
    the global scale for comparison is also essential.
    Despite the difficulty in identifying cause and effect in a chaotic system such as the
    atmosphere, it remains possible that the global atmospheric electrical circuit provides a
    neglected feedback in the climate system, and with it, an amplification of the solar
    variability signal in the climate records. This is the principal reason why the topic now
    deserves further exploration.

  12. Stephen Wilde says:

    Moving the cloud bands equatorward or poleward would do the trick even without any change in cloud quantities. Tha change in angle of incidence of incoming solar radiation would alter albedo of the globe as a matter of course.

    I noticed the jets starting to move back equatorward around 2000 but the actual start of the change could well have been a few years earlier just when the albedo trend also changed.

    Does it need to be any more complex than that ?

  13. tallbloke says:

    Hi Stephen,
    It would depend where in the heirarchy of relationships and feedback mechanisms the motion of the jetstreams latitudinal shifts occurs. Are they prime movers or effects of other drivers, or both? We don’t know yet.

    You and I are on the right path following the big energy flows, but there could be big influences we haven’t been able to get a handle on yet. Magnetism and electrostatic fields are the main question mark as I see it. See Richard Holle’s comments on this and the humidity thread for more detail.

  14. Richard Holle says:
    August 10, 2010 at 5:08 am
    Just wondering:If you have seen hydroxides suspended in a solution they will remind you of clouds suspended in the sky. If that is true, why not thinking that water, H2O, in the clouds, is in the state of Hydrogen Hydroxide, H-OH. Also, as small changes in pH will form either more hydroxide or less hydroxides, clouds, then changes in electric charge (pH) change the amount and shape of these hydrogen hydroxide aggregates.

  15. Tenuc:

    Products from high energy cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere.
    Ions from energetic solar wind.

    Both would include hydrogen nucleii, protons, which when reacting with ozone or oxygen originate Water, thus perhaps a realatively small percentage of earth’s water would be exogenic.

  16. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Tenuc: Also add space dust and meteor debris.

    this Idea of H ions, naked protons, being of greater then presently accepted importance is of great interest to me. As soon as I develop a word picture that I like I will share.
    Keep up the good work. pg

  17. Tim Channon says:

    Solar irradiance varies about 0.1% over a sunspot cycle
    http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/data/tsi_data.htm
    Is a widely supposed figure.

    Try Leif’s site as well.

    Click to access Does%20The%20Sun%20Vary%20Enough.pdf

    Sun is 6000k earth 300k
    No fancy maths needed, all cancels to a simple ratiometric system.

    6000/300=20 Earth is 1/20th temperature of sun

    6000k*0.001/20=0.3k

    Hence earth temperature varies +-0.15k during a cycle

    What exactly varies is another matter which I think is vague.

    So far as I know Leif does not have a problem with variation on the 11y cycle but does with claims of change over a longer period.
    So where did Leif get that figure?

  18. tallbloke says:

    Hi Tim,
    He gets his 0.1% from TSI measurement by satellites.
    He also does a simple calc whereby he reckons taking Earths albedo and the fact the Sun’s energy only hits half of Earth (some of it obliquely) at any time into account, the effect of the solar cycle on temperature is 0.05C.

  19. Adolfo Giurfa says:
    August 10, 2010 at 2:55 pm
    I have not run across the process you are speaking of, I do have some 5 years of experience working as a biomedical electronics tech repairing and calibrating medical lab equipment for hospitals, so the concept sound valid enough to be a parallel process at work.

    There are a lot of parallels between water evaporation condensation change states process when you look at nuclear energy conversion and capture with an eye toward ionization potentials and atomic and molecular covalent bounds forming in free space.

  20. A google scholar search of “Brian Tinsley global electrical circuit” brings up a lot of related studies on this subject we are discussing in here.

    When i get onto a high speed connection next week I will be doing lots of downloading and reading….Has anyone had any contact with Brian Tinsely?

  21. Tim Channon says:

    That’s bizarre.

    Leif says sun changes 0.1%, earth changes 0.016% (0.05/300)

    If we cool the sun to 100k the earth will be heating the sun.

  22. tallbloke says:

    Richard,
    Leif respects Brian Tinsley as “a careful researcher”. High praise indeed. 😉
    I have a copy of the Tinsley paper on an old backup drive, can you current email setup cope with a biggish pdf?

  23. tallbloke says:

    Tim,
    are you allowing for the albedo and obliquity effects?

  24. Tenuc says:

    P.G. Sharrow says:
    August 10, 2010 at 7:48 pm
    “Tenuc: Also add space dust and meteor debris.

    this Idea of H ions, naked protons, being of greater then presently accepted importance is of great interest to me. As soon as I develop a word picture that I like I will share.
    Keep up the good work. pg”

    Thanks for the additions to the above list, and the kind words. Looking forward to seeing your ideas on how these could effect things.

    Some time ago I came across the following, but I can’t remember where:-

    The Earth’s magnetic field has been in decline for some time.

    The magnetic field is generated by circulating currents generated in the Earth’s liquid ‘iron’ core by rotation through the Sun’s interplanetary magnetic field (Faraday effect). As the sun slows in its rotation and it’s poloidal field weakens, the Earth’s induced geomagnetic field decays. The decreasing geomagnetic field induces a Lenz current in the opposite direction which then further slows the rotation of the core (negative feedback). This ‘back EMF’ also has the effect of heating the Earth’s core joule heating flux increases as the geomagnetic field decays.

    The decay of the Earth’s geomagnetic field allows easier penetration of high energy, charged particles (protons and electrons) from the solar wind and Mars/Venus ionised tail when they cross our orbit. It also allows more space dust and meteor debris to enter our atmosphere. More particulates/ions to assist cloud formation/permanence perhaps, with a subsequent gradual change in albedo/atmospheric circulation causing different patterns of weather/climate?

  25. tallbloke says:

    Mars’ ionised tail is away from Earth orbit, did you mean Mercury? Vuk is our man for long term geomagnetics, I hope he comes over to contribute.

  26. Tenuc says:

    tallbloke says:
    August 11, 2010 at 11:51 am
    “Mars’ ionised tail is away from Earth orbit, did you mean Mercury? Vuk is our man for long term geomagnetics, I hope he comes over to contribute.”

    Whoops, sorry, should have been Mercury, as you construed – must be the Alzheimer’s starting to kick in. 🙂

    I’s also be very interested to hear from Vuk regarding EM issues on this and other recent threads.

  27. Tenuc says:

    P.G. Sharrow says:
    August 10, 2010 at 7:48 pm
    “Tenuc: Also add space dust and meteor debris.

    this Idea of H ions, naked protons, being of greater then presently accepted importance is of great interest to me. As soon as I develop a word picture that I like I will share.
    Keep up the good work. pg

    Just a thought; the Perseid meteor/dust shower is predicted to peak on Thursday this week. It will be interesting to observe what happens with a weaker ‘EM shield’. Just hope the sky clears so I can watch this sometimes spectacular event.

  28. Tim Channon says:

    No. In my opinion neither are relevant.

    There is a serious disagreement which needs resolving.

    My basis is the result of independently creating a basic model of the solar radiative system, which was done some time ago because I did not clearly understand. This can be done without knowledge of much at all, needs as input the orbital distances and known temperatures.

    Exact results are not possible because there are so many vaguely known parameters, such as gas planets which have no obvious surface and temperature is a nebulous concept. This is further confounded by eg. Neptune being claimed to emit more than twice the energy it receives from the Sun, it seems most planets emit an excess. (hand waving territory, no-one knows why, if it is in fact true)

    I’ve hacked a new version and found a way to reasonably show how change in the sun changes planet temperature. THE RESULT FOR THIS IS STRANGE.

    Needs discussing. There is a power law involved and it seems to put an excess increase for some planets, such as earth. Why?

    The contrast between 0.3K and Leif’s 0.05K is so large it needs explaining. I can only assume this is chalk and cheese, talking about different things.

    Put an OpenOffice Calc spreadsheet on this link
    http://www.gpsl.net/climate/data/solar-system-radiative.ods (27kbyte)

    Don’t know if Excel can open that directly, if it can the plot will probably not work properly.

  29. Tim Channon says:
    August 11, 2010 at 7:17 pm
    There is one common feature in those planets with a lesser deviation from modelled figures: They have less atmosphere or not atmosphere at all. Those are more dense.
    Here I will bring about something that may be surprising: When preparing several types of basic copper carbonate according to client needs, types are currently obtained of different bulk densities and this, in turn, I explain it (when particle sizes are almost the same) by the electrical charge which separates particles. Thus, could it be that the force that is missing is electrostatic charge?
    http://www.holoscience.com/news.php?article=q1q6sz2s&pf=YES

  30. tallbloke says:

    Tim,
    the place the standard explanation starts from is that there must be as much heat-energy leaving the Earth system as coming in if the temperature is to remain stable.

    Do you accept that as a reasonable premise?

  31. Tim Channon says:

    Adolfo: electrostatics can be a fun field. Not sure there is room for much given there seems to be ionisation (conduction) in much of near space.

    Tallbloke: Yes except for a small internal heating excess leaving.

  32. tallbloke says:
    August 11, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Richard,
    “”Leif respects Brian Tinsley as “a careful researcher”. High praise indeed. 😉
    I have a copy of the Tinsley paper on an old backup drive, can you current email setup cope with a biggish pdf?””

    Google mail, fire away, I will be in Phoenix by Friday noonish, off line from Thursday noonish.

    [reply] I’ll email it from work this morning if I can get it through my institutional access, otherwise, I’ll fire up the backup disk tonight. I’ve removed your email address from this post to save you getting spammed. Cheers, Rog

  33. Tim Channon says:
    August 11, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    No. In my opinion neither are relevant.

    There is a serious disagreement which needs resolving.

    My basis is the result of independently creating a basic model of the solar radiative system, which was done some time ago because I did not clearly understand. This can be done without knowledge of much at all, needs as input the orbital distances and known temperatures.

    Exact results are not possible because there are so many vaguely known parameters, such as gas planets which have no obvious surface and temperature is a nebulous concept. This is further confounded by eg. Neptune being claimed to emit more than twice the energy it receives from the Sun, it seems most planets emit an excess. (hand waving territory, no-one knows why, if it is in fact true)

    Reply; might have something to do with the inductive interaction with the galactic magnetic fields inputting energy into the solar system driving the whole system from the outside?

    There is an auroral effect on the surface of the heliopause, that could be explained by this action.

  34. Tim Channon says:

    Yes there will be other things going on although my best guess for why the ‘very little known about’ outer planets shed excess heat is simply radioactive decay inside. Whether they actually do shed excess heat, not seen any real data.

    Seems to keep the insides of earth much the same temperature as the surface of the sun. Can’t see that from the outside.

    I like the idea of magneto- effects being present, they will be. The magnitude is perhaps the problem, is it significant.

    Then there is the matter of whether the assumption of a notional 0K heat sink is correct.

    The 0.3 vs. 0.05 problem needs resolving.

  35. tallbloke says:

    The 0.3 vs. 0.05 problem needs resolving.

    Hi Tim,
    Have you tried asking Leif directly? Email him, he is quite approachable. leif (at) leif.org

    Don’t tell him I sent you 😉

  36. Tim Channon says:
    August 12, 2010 at 1:07 am
    As seen from the perspective of Miles Mathis explanation of the Titus-Bode’s law the graph in your spreadsheet follows the same law, as it represents a distribution like in an square triangle:
    1,1, Sq.2
    See: http://milesmathis.com/bode.html
    and http://milesmathis.com/charge.html

  37. Doug Proctor says:

    Backcalculating has left me scratching my head:

    If total insolation = 341.6 W/m2, albedo total Earth = 0.296, then Reflected energy =101.1W/m2. But 1.6% change in cloud cover you say is 4 W/m2, meaning 100% cloud cover is 250 W/m2, meaning cloud albedo is 0.73. Cloud/Not cloud split Earth I think is 64/36 (??), then the albedo of Not Cloud works out to be 0.16. The albedos seem high and low? The moon average is only 0.12.

    What albedo cloud/not cloud and coverage cloud/not cloud and total insolation are you working with?

  38. tallbloke says:

    Doug, welcome. I worked out my 4W^m2 excess insolation at the surface for the 1993-2003 decade by calculating the heat input necessary to account for the steric component of the rise in sea level measured by the satellite altimetry which was estimated by the IPCC.

    I’m not an expert in radiative physics. Nor do I believe the energy budget depicted in the Trenberth diagram.