Stephen Wilde: Climate description now underpinned by UTC equations

Posted: January 3, 2012 by tallbloke in atmosphere, climate, Energy, Ocean dynamics, Solar physics, weather

Guest post by Stephen Wilde, fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society and all round good egg.

People joining should read this thread for background first.

=========================================================

Tim Folkerts said:
“My revised conclusions are:
*RTE is real and very important. The “number of layers” is of primary
importance, and adding more GHGs will raise the temperature even if the
absorption is already “saturated”.
*GTE is real, but a much smaller effect (and fundamentally different that
the GTE that many people are discussing), primarily important when the true
lapse rate exceeds the adiabatic lapse rate.”

Here we come to the nub of the issue namely the relative significance of the
radiative and gravitational thermal effects. Joel [Shore] currently denies ANY
gravitational contribution even though he previously accepted the
contribution of gravity to creating the adiabatic lapse rate. That is an
inconsistency on its own but doesn’t matter for this post.

I agree that atmospheric layering is very important and also the GHG
contributions to the thermal behaviour of each layer.

We can see that in the effects of changes in ozone amounts in the
stratosphere and mesosphere as a result of variations in the mix of
particles and wavelengths from the sun when the level of solar activity
changes.

Apparently the sign of the atmospheric ozone response is the opposite
between stratosphere and mesosphere when the level of solar activity
changes.

That has an effect on the entire vertical temperature profile of the
atmosphere thereby altering ALL the heights and in particular the height of
the tropopause.

I aver that the top down solar effect has a far, far greater effect on the
global energy budget than changes in man- made GHGs. We can see that in the
changes between MWP and LIA and LIA to date.

Likewise there are cyclical variations in the rate of energy release from
the oceans which again alter atmospheric heights between surface and
tropopause from the bottom up. Again, a far, far greater effect than can be
achieved by human GHGs as we can see from the rapid effects of SST changes
on tropospheric temperatures.

So let us then consider what happens at the surface when the heights change
for whatever reason.

Change the height of the tropopause or the gradient in the height of the
tropopause between equator and pole and you then change the entire
tropospheric pressure distribution and the relative sizes, intensities and
positions of ALL the permanent climate zones.

THAT is what adjusts the system back to or nearly back to the lapse rate set
by gravitational pressure. It precisely controls the rate of energy flow
through the system from surface to space.

The same response occurs WHATEVER the forcing process that tries to push the
lapse rate away from the gravitationally induced temperature gradient.

The ENTIRE troposphere simply slides poleward or equatorward in each
hemisphere below the tropopause in order to maintain the gravitationally set
lapse rate WHATEVER the forces trying to disturb it.

And as I have pointed out the effect of human emissions is unmeasurable
compared to the effect of natural variability from sun and oceans.

Climate change on the surface is nothing more and nothing less than the
process in action as the system response seeks always to move back towards
the gravitationally induced lapse rate.

In that light the significance of the Nikolov & Zeller equations in their
Universal Theory of Climate is that they show the system to be highly effective.

They show that whatever effect GHGs have is
negated by the system response. Indeed the effects of sun and oceans are
also negated by the system response but they produce much larger climate
zone shifts.

I have been saying that for four years now and N & Z now provide the quantitative
underpinning for my qualitative climate description.

If that doesn’t nail the whole climate issue I’m at a loss to know what more
one could say.

Stephen.

Comments
  1. tallbloke says:

    ​​One thing which occurs to me is that solar variation will be amplified by the pressure changes to a bigger temperature shift than expected. Particularly in the temperate zones where the latitudinal shifting you outline will have a greater effect on T

    But how do we use the Nikolov and Zeller equations to quantify those changes?

    Perhaps Robert Brown provides some clues, but also some warnings of the difficulties.

  2. Stephen Wilde says:

    Global pressure doesn’t change unless one changes total atmospheric mass. The variability in solar input comes not from pressure changes but from albedo changes. Albedo is what controls the solar energy available to fuel the system.

    The changes in surface temperatures in the mid latitudes comes from changes in wind direction not from any change in total system energy content. It is merely a redistribution of energy across the surface. When the climate zones shift poleward more of the mid latitudes get winds more often from an equatorial direction.

    More equatorward/meridional jets increases global cloudiness for less solar energy into the oceans. I think that is more likely the cause than the Svensmark hypothesis.

    What the equations seem to show at present is that whatever the changes in the atmosphere (the radiative thermal effect) that try to pull the system away from the gravitational thermal effect those changes are negated.

    The primary reason being that the oceans control the air temperature so the surface air temperature always gets pulled back to sea surface temperature which thus provides the start point for the surface to tropopause lapse rate.

    The changes in the atmosphere cannot alter ocean energy content because of the responsiveness and power of the evaporative process which prevents downward energy flow from air into oceans. Thus it is the rate of energy flow through the atmosphere that must change.

    I’ve suggested the broad mechanism whereby that is achieved (shifting climate zones) but in any given event that works to negate the disruptive forcing there could be a myriad of individual components to the system response which vary both themselves and between each other in scale, over time and in location.

    The way the surface air pressure shifts occur will be subtly different all the time partly due to chaotic variability intervening at all places in three dimensions.

    I doubt that the equations could ever be broken down to produce a perfect fit on any given occasion but it might be possible to discern broad sub trends.

    One would need to be able to do that to ascertain how far the climate zones would shift from human emissions as compared to say solar/oceanic variations on the scale of MWP to LIA or LIA to date.

    My guess is that the human effect would be less than a mile or so as against 1000 miles for natural variability but someone else is going to have to refine the equations to get to that information.

    I suspect that we don’t have the data at present anyway.

    To develop my diagnosis into a predictive tool I think we need a whole range of new sensing devices and a much better grip on the variables that contribute to the overall process that I describe.

    The best we could do in the short term would be to work out how the net latitudinal position of the climate zones shifts from year to year. That would give us an indication of current trends in system energy content.

  3. tallbloke says:

    “Global pressure doesn’t change unless one changes total atmospheric mass.”

    I was thinking more of pressure differentials between climate zones arising from circulation changes.

    “To develop my diagnosis into a predictive tool I think we need a whole range of new sensing devices and a much better grip on the variables that contribute to the overall process that I describe.”

    Ah well, The UCT isn’t going to help you there. For that you need the solar predictive skills we have been developing here at the talkshop, plus my insights into the timing of El Nino in relation to the solar cycle.

    https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/2011/02/21/tallbloke-and-tim-channon-a-cycles-analysis-approach-to-predicting-solar-activity/

    https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/2011/06/12/the-timing-of-el-nino-in-relation-to-the-solar-cycle/

  4. Stephen Wilde says:

    “I was thinking more of pressure differentials between climate zones arising from circulation changes”

    I thought you might have been. But low pressure in one place is offset by high pressure in another isn’t it ?

    You could say that there might be a regional amplification effect in places that become sunnier but I would have thought that greatly outweighed by advection of warmer winds from an equatorward direction or colder winds from a poleward direction.

    The UCT equations are fine to establish the net outturn globally for the processes I describe. I don’t think N & Z would claim any more would they ?

    As for your solar predictive skills then I agree that there could be something worth pursuing there.

    My description only says what happens in response to ANY forcing other than a global atmospheric pressure change.

    The field remains wide open as to the number of potential such forcings and the way they interact to shift the climate zones on shorter timescales (subject to chaotic variability).

    All I have ever said is that the solar and oceanic forcings are magnitudes bigger than anything else and that the myriad of other potential lower magnitude forcings often work against one another for only small net changes over short timescales.

  5. Stephen Wilde says:

    “my insights into the timing of El Nino in relation to the solar cycle”

    If you can narrow it down to individual solar cycles that would be good.

    At the moment I can only see it across multiple cycles. I think that the top down solar changes alter the degree of jetstream meridionality/zonality resulting in cloudiness and albedo changes for subsequent changes in solar input to the oceans to skew ENSO one way or the other.

    ENSO remains as an independent oceanic oscillation but the variations in solar input can alter the relative balance between El Nino and La Nina for a warming or cooling trend in the troposphere.

    There is a tricky point at the 30/60 year timescale where the phase changes of the Pacific Multidecadal Oscillation occur.

    Most people think that cycle is an oceanic one rather than a solar one but there is lots of evidence for planetary variations on that timescale so they could affect solar or lunar behaviour and get at the oceans that way.

    Anyway, interesting though that is, those changes still operate on the global climate in the way I have described. They are prevented from causng a significant long term change in the gravitationally induced lapse rate by subsequent climate zone shifts.

    My rule governs them all.

  6. tallbloke says:

    My rule governs them all.

    And you’re hoping for some positive feedback to the good news regarding negative feedback. 😉

  7. Roger Andrews says:

    Stephen Wilde:

    ” …. the oceans control the air temperature so the surface air temperature always gets pulled back to sea surface temperature … ”

    SST is on average a degree or two higher than SAT, with SST-SAT differences ranging from -4C around 55 degrees south (no data south of there) to +15C around 75 degrees north.

  8. Stephen Wilde says:

    Thanks Roger,

    I should have said ‘gets pulled back towards the baseline differential between sea surface temperature and surface air temperature”.

    I know that the system does leave a differential between sea surface and surface air temperatures which is largely related to latitude.

    However the system does respond as I suggest when there is any deviation from the baseline differential.

    As to how the baseline differential is set I’m not sure but I’m sure someone must have worked that out already.

  9. tallbloke says:

    Roger A: Interesting. I never realised the air was so much warmer than the sea at 55S

    What does the seasonal profile of the two indices look like at that latitude?

  10. Roger Andrews says:

    Stephen & TB

    Here’s a plot I put together of SST-SAT vs. latitude that you might find interesting.


    I added the model data (from KNMI) so that I could add yet another mismatch between climate models and observations to my rogue’s gallery, but much to my surprise the models fit the observations quite well except south of 40S. (Note that the blue circle at 75N sits right on top of a red circle).

  11. tallbloke says:

    Hmm, what’s the data coverage like for 55S in the dataset used?

  12. Roger Andrews says:

    TB: Not very good, I’m afraid. There are very little SST data south of 60S. But with some more work I could probably extend the graph below 60S.

    Might I ask why you’re interested in the cold southern seas? 🙂

    .

  13. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Roger Andrews says:
    January 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm :

    That line of red dots look a lot like the the percentage of land to sea at latitude. pg

  14. Roger Andrews says:

    PG; Not really, see


  15. Roger Andrews says:

    Whoops! Just noticed the graph is upside down relative to mine. So maybe it does.

  16. Stephen Wilde says:

    So the smallest differences between sea surface and surface air temperatures are in equatorial oceanic regions which pretty much makes my point about the seas controlling the air temperatures on average globally.

    So if GHGs add energy to the air above the oceans it is the air that must give way by adjusting the upward temperature gradient to try to restore the gravitationally induced lapse rate. It does so by raising the height of the tropopause.

    Similarly, in the case of warmer ocean surfaces at a time of more active sun, rising ocean heat content, more poleward jets,reduced global cloudiness, wider equatorial climate zones, stronger El Ninos (all as observed in the late 20th century) then the height of the tropopause must rise to restore the pressure driven lapse rate.

    That did indeed happen.

    But the similar effect from more GHGs is infinitesimal compared to the height changes that result from solar and oceanic variability.

    Currently the entire process is in reverse which rules out the still rising CO2 quantities as a significant factor.

  17. Roger Andrews says:

    SST is the sea temperature measured at a nominal depth of 1m, but the sea skin temperature is usually lower – sometimes several degrees lower – than the sea temperature at 1m depth. This suggests that the thermal gradient between the warmer sea and the colder air occurs in the uppermost layer of the sea and not at the sea/air interface, and that SAT and SST(skin) may in fact not be all that different.

    I’ve been looking for some satellite skin temperature data to check this out but haven’t been able to find any. Does anyone know where I might get some?

  18. Stephen Wilde says:

    Last time I checked some months agoo someone was designing sensors to get a better grip on events in the ocean skin which is about 1mm deep but some say up to 3mm deep. Currently data is very sparse.

    There is quite a sharp discontinuity between that ocean skin and the bulk below with the bulk being warmer than the skin at the point of contact by about 0.3C. I believe it does get warmer with depth to about a metre and then tails off again with depth.

    I went into really detailed consideration of the so called ‘ocean skin effect’ whereby a proponent of AGW argued that the warming of the skin by downwelling IR slowed the rate of energy release from the oceans. That was the only way that AGW theory could get the oceans to warm up.

    I found lots of problems with that idea and found only one person propounding it although warmists accept it as a given. I think it can be ignored anyway because even if it were true the effect of that energy going into a medium with such a vast thermal capacity would defer GHG warming of the atmosphere for millennia. The numbers just don’t add up to favour AGW theory.

    Anyway that is getting rather off topic.

    I think I have a pretty fireproof narrative. Can anyone find substantial flaws in it ?

  19. tchannon says:

    “It does so by raising the height of the tropopause.”

    That is critical.

    Convection and by implication convected water vapour latent heat involve a process where there is a fight between buoyancy, Boyle’s law and gravity where the strength is related to entropy.
    Don’t assume the law of the forces follow the same curve.

    The expire limit is high in the tropics and low at the poles.

    But as ever, what do I know.

  20. George says:

    Well the temperature graph seems to reflect what we already know about ocean circulation. In the Northern Hemisphere we have warm surface currents that make their way to the poles. In the Atlantic, this current then dives to the bottom (NADW) and makes its way to Antarctica where it mixes with other waters, ventilates, and is redistributed to other oceans. About half of the Atlantic water heads up the East coast of Africa into the Indian ocean where upwelling there eventually brings it South again, around the horn of Africa and back into the Atlantic.

    In other words, the Northern Hemisphere high latitude ocean is warm tropical waters moving North and then eventually sinking.

    The Southern Hemisphere high latitude ocean is mostly upwelling deep water. What we are seeing in the ocean circulation overall appears to me to be a net transfer of heat from Southern Hemisphere to North. If that should reverse or even slow, the North glaciates, apparently.

    I slogged my way through a fairly long paper (actually a series of papers … a dissertation, really) where core samples were done in new areas of the South Pacific floor where cores had never been obtained before. It appears that during glacial periods the South Pacific can experience nearly a complete shutdown of circulation and water can lay stagnant on the bottom there for thousands of year. Over time this water would lose its oxygen and become very rich in CO2. Maybe that is the source of the 800 year lag in CO2 increase after coming out of the glacial period. It would take some period of time for the ocean circulation to re-establish itself and for that deep South Pacific water to ventilate. That water generally circulates North, today, and then *partially* rises to a mid-level cold current in the North Pacific that heads South. It does not ventilate in the North. Practically all deep ocean ventilation occurs in the Southern Ocean (and some in the Indian Ocean).

    As for the variation of the tropopause, that is what was starting to dawn on my yesterday before I went to bed. Any change in tropospheric temperatures or in strato/mesosperhic temperatures had to manifest as a change in the height of the tropopause. These are likely manifested as changes in the boundaries between the Hadley, Ferrel, and Polar cells of the troposphere. We already know that the Hadley cell moved considerably in response to the change in NH insolation since about 9000 years ago. The ITCZ has moved some 500km South in its Northernmost summer migration from where it was 9000 years ago.

  21. Stephen Wilde says:

    “The expire limit is high in the tropics and low at the poles”

    Yes and that is also critical.

    Altering the slope of the gradient between equator and poles is what allows the entire troposphere (or rather the pressure distribution in the troposphere) to slide poleward or equatorward in response to differential changes in tropopause heights.

    Thus there is a battle between the sun altering the heights at the poles from the top down and the oceans altering the heights at the equator from the bottom up.

    Neat isn’t it ?

  22. Stephen Wilde says:

    George said:

    “As for the variation of the tropopause, that is what was starting to dawn on me yesterday before I went to bed. Any change in tropospheric temperatures or in strato/mesosperhic temperatures had to manifest as a change in the height of the tropopause. These are likely manifested as changes in the boundaries between the Hadley, Ferrel, and Polar cells of the troposphere. We already know that the Hadley cell moved considerably in response to the change in NH insolation since about 9000 years ago. The ITCZ has moved some 500km South in its Northernmost summer migration from where it was 9000 years ago.”

    Excellent, George, you are starting to see how it all fits together. Faster than many.

    It just takes a while for the bulb to light up and everyone is different 🙂

  23. George says:

    The temperature gradient of the stratosphere is regulated mostly by the amount of UV from the sun. If we are seeing a reduction in UV, we will see stratospheric cooling, which is exactly what we seem to be seeing. This will result in a contraction of the stratosphere and mesosphere. Interestingly, if the temperature of the stratosphere cools, the boundary of the troposphere will rise (!) because the boundary is not so much related to the absolute temperature of either but the difference between the two. So if the *difference* between the two drops, through either tropospheric heating OR stratospheric cooling, the tropopause will rise in altitude. A rise in altitude of the tropopause effectively increases the radiative surface area of the top of troposphere. It is like enlarging your greenhouse to have a larger surface area but not linearly all the way to the surface. It is more like the shape of a pizza wedge standing on its tip (that’s exaggerated but conveys the general idea). Increasing the altitude of the tropopause increases the height of that pizza wedge without increasing the width of the tip of it.

    If the difference between the two increases, the troposphere will drop (because it will see the temperature inversion at a lower altitude, the UV will excite more ions and heat them more), or another way to look at it, more UV would penetrate deeper into the atmosphere “deepening” the stratosphere.

  24. George says:

    Or looked at another way, if UV from the sun went away completely, the stratosphere would disappear and we would convect from the surface all the way to the turbopause.

  25. George says:

    “So if the *difference* between the two drops, through either tropospheric heating OR stratospheric cooling, the tropopause will rise in altitude.” Should have added:

    So if the *difference* between the two drops, through either tropospheric heating OR stratospheric cooling, the tropopause will rise in altitude until the required differential is again obtained.

  26. Stephen Wilde says:

    Whoah, George. You are making good points but there is a problem.

    In reality the stratosphere cooled whilst the sun was active and has now stopped cooling and may be warming a bit with the less active sun so we have to get a reverse sign effect somewhere above the tropopause.

    Furthermore ONLY a reverse sign solar effect will make the surface pressure distribution shift the way we see it happen.

    Fortunately there is now evidence of just such a reverse sign solar effect between stratosphere and mesosphere.

    Read my proposed solution to the problem set out here :

    http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=6645

    “How The Sun Could Control Earth’s Temperature”

    then let me know what you think.

  27. George says:

    Well, an initial look at the graphic on that page (the pdf is downloading) shows what we have seen in the past where you have a contraction of the Hadley cell, the Ferrel cell slips to the South in response, and the Polar cell expands. So you see two things: A movement of the circumpolar jet to the South and a movement South of the ITCZ. We saw such a behavior in the LIA. The ITCZ actually moved South of its current location resulting in drought in places like Northern Venezuela and parts of Africa. The monsoons weakened in India resulting in drought there, as well. The system really has two “belts” with the graphic showing only the one at the interface of the Ferrel and Polar cells. There is another at the interface of the Hadley and Ferrel cells in the summer hemisphere (Intertropical convergence zone or ITCZ). I’ll give it a read.

  28. Brian H says:

    On the model/observations graph, what’s the explanation for the marked divergences at 15N and 35N? They seem to stand out quite anomalously!

  29. George says:

    I have a response but it is quite a tome. I wonder if it’s ok to post it.

  30. Stephen Wilde says:

    If it’s that big maybe email it to Rog who can pass it on to me ?

  31. Roger Andrews says:

    Stephen:

    Earlier you asked: “I think I have a pretty fireproof narrative. Can anyone find substantial flaws in it ?”

    I can’t really find any flaws in your narrative, but I think it might benefit from some figures. For example, you say:

    “Similarly, in the case of warmer ocean surfaces at a time of more active sun, rising ocean heat content, more poleward jets, reduced global cloudiness, wider equatorial climate zones, stronger El Ninos (all as observed in the late 20th century) then the height of the tropopause must rise to restore the pressure driven lapse rate.”

    This presupposes a link between solar activity and tropopause height. So how about a graph showing a link between the two? Something like that would help a lot.

    Stephen & George:

    Re the cooling stratosphere. Take a look at:

    Stratosphere temperatures show two large warming spikes coinciding with the El Chichón and Pinatubo eruptions. But after each eruption temperatures stabilize at a lower level than before. I have no idea what might cause this, but the implication is that the stratospheric cooling was caused by the eruptions, not by changes in solar activity.

    Bryan: “what’s the explanation for the marked divergences at 15N and 35N?. I’d like to say “noise”, but it is curious how both models and observations show a dip at 15N.

  32. Stephen Wilde says:

    Roger.

    My post at the head of this thread is just a snapshot, a summary of my conclusions after 4 years work and publication of lots of detailed and complex material which was refined as it grew. It is still a work in progress and to follow it requires a sizeable effort by a reader unfamiliar with my line of approach.

    It is very reassuring that you find no flaw in the narrative thus far.

    As regards the stratosphere / solar issue there is a link to support that in the article I referred George to.

    If you want more supporting facts and figures, and I’m gratified that you do then start with this:

    http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=8723

    “CO2 or Sun?”

    and work back through the earlier three articles that it links to.

    Those three articles taken together comprise the “Unified Theory of Earth’s Climate” that I prepared prior to Ned’s helpful version which provides equations that support my conclusions. The link that I gave to George is one of those three articles.

    I’m sure there are defects and parts that could be expressed better but I’m becoming more convinced by the day that the overall concept is correct.

  33. Stephen Wilde says:

    As regards a connection between solar activity and tropopause height this is the google search result that I obtained:

    http://www.bing.com/search?q=tropopause+height+and+solar+activity&form=MSNH90&qs=n&sk=&x=98&y=21

    Quite a lot to go on but it seems that there is a link which is latitudinally related.

    That means there would be an effect on the tropopause height gradient between equator and pole which in my view facilitates and enables the cyclical ‘sliding’ of the surface pressure distribution poleward and equatorward as per my propositions.

  34. […] Tallbloke’s blog by Stephen Wilde.  My response is something of a tome so I am going to post it here.  I don’t do this stuff for a living so take this in the spirit of me possible talking through my pants a bit.  The approach is one from first principles and from some additional reading on the subject.  So, here we go: i) The stratosphere and the mesosphere actually cooled when the sun was more active and are now warming now that the sun is less active. There must be something else going on to account for that. […]

  35. George says:

    My response is quite long (over 3000 words) so I posted it over in Conference Room B

    http://conference-room-b.com/

    But feel free to comment on it here if you have the urge to. Note that I am not disagreeing with you, just that I don’t have enough data to agree.

  36. Stephen Wilde says:

    George, I’ve read your response now and thank you for all the effort you put in to both understand the basic concept and point up areas where further consideration might be needed.

    I agree with you that the data is sparse and that we need more data for a definitive confirmation or rebuttal.

    That said, I am content to watch and observe the real world because there are lots of events that could occur that would falsify or bring into question the concept itself or details of it.

    There are also events or bits of data that would confirm it and so far all that I see happening in the real world is going that way.

    The equations of N & Z are good support for the efficiency of the negative feedback that I see as regards the thermal effects of GHGs or indeed the thermal effects of anything that seeks to disturb the basic pressure induced equilibrium.

    It appears to me that radiative processes are always obliged to FOLLOW the lead provided by gravity and pressure and density everywhere in our universe and the Earth’s climate system is apparently no exception.

    The light emitted from stars and the heat emitted from planets is a consequence of an underlying energy imbalance and not a cause of the imbalance and in every case the radiative phenomena are seeking to negate imbalances not cause or amplify them.

    Radiative phenomena are everywhere in the universe a negative response to imbalance, never a forcing agent in themselves. What they do is mop up anything not dealt with by other non radiative processes in order to restore equilibrium as far as possible and never to enhance disequilibrium which is what AGW theory proposes or implies.

    If AGW theory were correct there would have been no liquid oceans on Earth the past 4 billion years and insufficient stability for life to develop in the first place.

    Anyway, back to the topic, if anyone has any further reasonable pointers that my concepts may be faulty or incomplete.

  37. gallopingcamel says:

    Radiative Transfer Equations are very helpful when discussing what goes on above the cloud layer.

    In the lower atmosphere RTEs are bit players; convection is the primary mechanism for heat transfer. While N&K’s analysis is superior to James Hansen’s fantasies it still does not treat water vapour and clouds properly.

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/12/why-atmospheric-pressure-cannot-explain-the-elevated-surface-temperature-of-the-earth/#comment-32739

  38. George says:

    One thing I will note is that climate is subject to absolutely huge regime changes in very short periods of time. I am talking about major changes in climate that last for hundreds of years that instantiate and then dissipate in less than a decade of time. Some of these will happen in only two years time. Here is a study on changes in climate in Europe during the last glacial during the period from 120K to 60K years ago:

    http://www.clim-past.net/7/1247/2011/cp-7-1247-2011.pdf

    Absolutely stunning how we can go from stadial to interstadial and back again in such a short period of time. I don’t think anyone yet has the slightest idea what causes these massive changes in climate regime in such a short period of time but I believe it is pretty safe to say it isn’t CO2.

  39. George says:

    Sorry about the “two year” comment, that was from a different study on a different issue. Fact remains, though, that study shows absolutely dramatic changes in decadal time scales. Nobody understands why yet. And it is going to suck to find out.

  40. Roger Andrews says:

    Stephen:

    Further to my comment of 10.51pm yesterday, here are a couple of graphs.

    shows a strong correlation between SAT and tropopause height, with each 1C change in SAT causing a change of about 12 hPa in height, whatever that comes out to in meters. Plotting SST against height would show substantially the same thing.

    however, shows no correlation between tropopause height and solar activity over this period, but the period is probably too short to be diagnostic of long-term solar impacts.

    Hope this helps.

  41. Roger Andrews says:

    Sorry, screwed up the second graph. Here it is again

  42. George says:

    Rather than sunspot number, I believe most use a smoothed inverted sunspot cycle length. Shorter cycles mean rising temperatures, longer cycles mean cooler temperatures.

    http://icecap.us/images/uploads/SolarCycleLengthandGlobalTemperatureAnomalies1.pdf

    http://www.tmgnow.com/repository/solar/lassen1.html

  43. Roger Andrews says:

    Inverted sunspot cycle length correlates with SAT only in selected parts of the N. Hemisphere. It also gives us only a few points to play with over the 1958-2002 period. But these points also show no correlation with the troposphere height data.

  44. Doug proctor says:

    Roger Andrews says:
    January 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm
    Re the stratospheric temperature anomaly plot, showing lower temp equalization after El Chichon and Pinatubo:

    Is the energy represented by the temperature spike of each volcanic eruption in the atmosphere as a whole equal to the drop in stabilized energy of the stratosphere after each volcanic eruption? If it does, it suggests that the volcanic eruption triggers a convective? event that first introduces and then removes heat energy from the stratosphere. If, on an longer-term energy basis, the stratosphere is nearly stable despite volcanic eruptions, then a long-term energy stabilization process is occuring, perhaps to stabilize the energy content rather than the temperature, of the lower or entire atmosphere. So the state after a sufficient period of time without volcanoes is the pre-1979 stratospheric temperature.

    Just wondering.

  45. Roger Andrews says:

    Doug:

    Yeah, I’m wondering too. But I can’t think why a massive short-term injection of heat into the stratosphere should end up causing long-term cooling. (Maybe the eruptions knocked the microwave sensors out of calibration? Roy Spencer, are you there?)

    However, finding out what’s going on is important because stratospheric cooling is touted as yet another example of global warming in action, and if it’s caused entirely by volcanic eruptions – which I suspect it may be – then another prop gets knocked out from under the AGW theory.

  46. Stephen Wilde says:

    A warmer stratosphere lowers the tropopause and sends the jets more equatorward.whch increases cloudiness and albedo for less energy into the oceans and a cooling system overall.

    A cooler stratosphere as during the late 20th century allows the jets to shift poleward.which decreased cloudiness and albedo for more energy into the oceans and a warming system overall.

    I think the volcanic events were just interruptions in a solar induced background trend.

    The volcanic events converted what would have been a downward slope into a series of steps. I think the recent period of flat trend is a result of the less active sun.

  47. p.g.sharrow says:

    @ Stephen; if a warming stratosphere lowers the tropopause, does that mean that the surface pressure is effectively increased? pg

  48. Stephen Wilde says:

    “does that mean that the surface pressure is effectively increased?”

    Yes, but remember that we are considering a redistribution of existing stable atmospheric mass and not a change in total atmospheric mass so an increase in pressure in one place means a reduction elsewhere as air rises and falls in high and low pressure cells.

    What seems to matter most is the gradient or slope of the tropopause height between equator and pole. The stratospheric warming or cooling from solar variability is greatest at the poles because the incoming solar energy is focused by the magenetic fields to favour arrival at the surface around the poles (in so far as it consists of charged particles).

    So if one gets a differential effect favouring the poles then any effect of warming the stratosphere via ozone quantity variations will be greatest at the poles and the gradient of the tropopause height between equator and pole will change.

    Pressure around the poles will become RELATIVELY high producing those mobile polar highs of Marcel Leroux and they then slide equatorward taking polar air with them across the middle latitudes. Sudden stratospheric warming events are a short term manifestation of the process. They are associated ith urges of polar air equatorward.

    Now all this involves changes in the pressure distribution rather than changes in absolute global atmospheric pressure and IS relevant to recent climate changes contrary to what Ned seems to suggest. However there are albedo consequences which Ned does mention but we have to await his paper to see whether he links it all together in the way I propose. I suspect not but don’t know at the moment.

  49. wayne says:

    Stephen:

    “The ENTIRE troposphere simply slides poleward or equatorward in each
    hemisphere below the tropopause in order to maintain the gravitationally set
    lapse rate WHATEVER the forces trying to disturb it.”

    I took your clue about two years ago and have been following the jet stream and it is now much lower in latitude than a year or so ago when its average position was way up at about 45-50N. Is that the sliding you are speaking of?

  50. Stephen Wilde says:

    Wayne, yes.

    Though over recent months it has slid a bit poleward again with a strongly positive Arctic Oscillation which happens to coincide with increased solar activity as we approach the maximum of cycle 24.

  51. nuwurld says:

    Wonderfully succinct. Indeed gravity sets the thermal gradient in a planetary atmosphere or of a star. All modes of heat transfer are coupled and HAVE to answer to the thermal gradient. As said the atmosphere readjusts to compensate for any induced, temporary irregularity. If we add opacity in the form of absorptive gases this becomes convection. The atmosphere is gravitationally bound and all levels tend towards equal total thermal energy and gravitational potential. This is what the adiabatic lapse rate tells us. Trenberth’s abuse of Stefan Boltzmann black body physics only applies to a perfectly absorptive cavity in a vacuum where only radiation can transfer thermal energy. Not so on Earth.