Willis on circulation at WUWT, nicely done

Posted: February 8, 2013 by tchannon in atmosphere, climate, Clouds, Cycles, general circulation, Ocean dynamics, weather

Over at WUWT Willis has a long guest post dealing in circulation and emergent regimes which is rightly getting praise. Personally I would downplay the emergent and play up the way regimes change during a whole day.

In a way the critical part is recognition the world is not a static average but always changing without ever concluding what started.

Has some nice pictures.


As co-mod I have no problem with highlighting merit even when there have been past busts up, so what. In reality I doubt people are that far apart.

I don’t agree with all that Willis writes and of course it is incomplete, things always will be. My impression is he has pulled back from wrestling to a more measured and considered position.

Post by Tim Channon


  1. Stephen Wilde says:

    It is a very well written article but overlaps with a lot of points that I and others have been saying for some time, notably:

    i) That his thunderstorm hypothesis is sound but needs to be extended to the entire globe which is what he has now started to do..

    ii) That as per my suggestion from some time ago ENSO occurs because the ITCZ is on average north of the equator which introduces an imbalance in solar input to the oceans either side of the equator. That imbalance builds up over time and periodically discharges into the northern oceans in El Nino pulses of warm water.

    iii) He says this:

    “The boiling water system simply moves energy through it at a faster rate, it doesn’t run any hotter”

    Which is the analogy I have used several times in the past and have linked the boiling point of water to surface pressure which leads naturally on to the ideas of me and tallbloke concerning the effect of surface pressure on ocean temperatues and energy content.

    In the past Willis has been very abrasive about so called ‘pressure heads’ but here he is close to conceding the point.

    iv) “So increasing input may only increase the throughput, rather than increasing the temperature”

    Exactly as I have been proposing but the faster throughput does involve a global circulation change as in the speed of my adiabatic loop.

    v) “So when the forcing from CO2 increases a watt or two, in an accurate model the clouds will emerge a few minutes earlier on average across the tropics, and the balance will be restored. This system of control by emergent phenomena has worked very well for billions of years, and it handles large swings in radiation every single day—it won’t be altered by a few watts of extra forcing from CO2”

    Been telling everyone that for 6 years but referring to the entire global circulation rather than just the diurnal timing regionally.

  2. Konrad says:

    Willis has indeed written a very good article. He has got so many things right. While I have vehemently disagreed with Wills in the past he seems to be getting closer to the answer. What is notable is that Willis can work with the implications of a moving atmosphere. However if you compare this post with his previous WUWT on his “Steel Greenhouse” you could be excused for thinking they were written by two different people.

    Further to this Willis is still under the mistaken impression that DWIR can slow the cooling rate of liquid water that is free to evaporatively cool.

  3. Willis is describing autonomous autopoietic (self- creating and re-creating) systems that are near or just beyond the limits of control. There is a nice demonstration of this in the field of fluid mechanics which is what this is all about at http://www.sixtysymbols.com/videos/reynolds.htm.

    What is not easily conceived is the ‘stacking’ of past events that remain hidden until some ‘happy’ (for them) set of circumstances permits their re-emergence to surprise us. A machine for demonstrating Reynold’s effect consists of a glass cylinder with a solid core that fits snugly into it. Glycerine, or some such, fills the very narrow space between the two. A pattern of colour is inserted into the fluid using a hypo needle and the core rotated, say clockwise. The pattern is diffused through the fluid and another pattern is inserted with a different colour and again the core is turned and it disappears. and so on. We now have a vessel with faintly tinted flue trapped between the cylinder and the core. Rotating the core in the anticlockwise direction recovers each of the inserted patterns in turn. An observer who has not seen the preparations above will be surprised as the patterns ’emerge’ revealing the past history of the system. Absent knowledge of the exact history of this model, nothing on earth can predict what will emerge when it is rotated. It is neither autopoietic nor chaotic – there is nothing mysterious about it except its history. It could sit on the kitchen shelf for generations looking quite uninteresting until someone turns the core and a pattern emerges – literally ‘miraculously’!
    This is how I see the world – a concatenation of systems like this – each one ordered and well behaved but generating emergent phenomena which could never be predicted without an intimate knowledge of absolutely everything that happened in the past – The claims of those who think they can forecast are ill founded to say the least!

  4. donald penman says:

    I refuse to think of the Earth as a machine this is just an anology , I don’t see any heat engines at work .The Earth is just what it is and what we observe ,nothing more, I don’t see any need to read any engineering handbook in order to understand what the climate is about. I would rather think of the Earth as predictable using scientific reasoning

  5. Chris M says:

    Tim, I really don’t think Willis should be promoted in any sense on the Talkshop, considering past acrimonious disputes, including with Roger. His journalistic (feuilletonistic? – look it up) skills on WUWT are well recognized, but the inescapable fact is that he has to my knowledge no formal qualifications in science. I reject the post-normal science argument of self-professed expertise in the science itself, as opposed to the welcome efforts .at interpretation for a wider audience by prominent sceptics like Andrew Montford, Matt Ridley and Ben Pile on the policy interface side.

    While it is true that some opinions, including Willis’s, in the field of climate science are much more informed than others due to diligent self-directed study, such opinions do not carry much weight outside the feverish confines of the climate blogosphere in terms of policy credibility, which is the ultimate goal of the AGW debate. I also find Willis’s strident lukewarmer stance objectionable and egocentric, relying as it often does on scathing criticism of people on ‘our side’. Who made hm the final arbiter of such things?

  6. tallbloke says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm
    it might relate to the fact that Tallbloke banned me from his site for saying that a perpetual motion machine wouldn’t work, and I haven’t been back since.

    This is a lie. I still have a copy of the comment Willis left on the suggestions thread at the talkshop saying that he would ban himself if I didn’t run my blog how he said I should and let Joel Shore run riot with his threadbombing tendencies. Nothing to do with his scientific views, which I devoted a thread of it’s own to. Needless to say I took him up on his offer.

    The comment about perpetual motion machines here shows Willis still doesn’t understand how the higher heat capacity of the denser near surface air retains energy better than thin cold mountain top air at night, thus raising the near surface average temperature. I also have some more experimental evidence for publication demonstrating a temperature gradient in an enclosed tube, confirming Graeff’s work. Experimentum summas Judex – Albert Einstein.

    He’s still welcome here and visits my threads, but I won’t go to a site where people are banned for their scientific views. He put himself in the same boat as RealClimate and Open Mind

    People who know how to put forward scientific views and listen and respond to the criticism of others with courtesy and respect are always welcome at the talkshop. Bigmouths like Willis, and threadbombers like Joel Shore don’t get past the door however.

  7. tallbloke says:

    Heh 🙂

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 14, 2013 at 10:24 am
    tallbloke says:
    February 14, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    it might relate to the fact that Tallbloke banned me from his site for saying that a perpetual motion machine wouldn’t work, and I haven’t been back since.

    This is a lie. I still have a copy of the comment Willis left on the suggestions thread at the talkshop saying that he would ban himself if I didn’t run my blog how he said I should and let Joel Shore run riot with his threadbombing tendencies. Nothing to do with his scientific views, which I devoted a thread of it’s own to. Needless to say I took him up on his offer.

    tallbloke, don’t ever call me a liar, you will always be wrong. I do many things. Lying is not one of them. Perhaps you call people liars routinely without evidence, I wouldn’t know. I do know that every time you make an unsubstantiated, false accusation that a man is a liar, your stock sinks in the marketplace. I don’t call a man a liar without serious solid facts to back it up, and your willingness to call me one without even a scrap of substantiation marks you as an unpleasant amateur. Here’s how it came down.

    You banned Joel Shore for saying exactly what I had said, that N&Z’s hypothesis was junk because it violated thermodynamic laws. Despite your claim above that it was “nothing to do with his scientific views”, here’s what you said. Your exact words to Joel were:

    … you’re not posting here unless and until you apologise to Nikolov and Zeller for spreading misinformation about conservation of energy in their theory all over the blogosphere and failing to correct it.

    tallbloke, you stand convicted by your own words. It was ALL about his scientific views, about whether N&Z violated the law of conservation of energy (they did), not the “threadbombing tendencies” you falsely try to blame above.

    In protest, and because I HAD SAID EXACTLY THE SAME THING JOEL SAID, that N&Z was a load of a-scientific horse puckey, I said I wouldn’t go to your site. So you are correct that I banned myself … for doing exactly what you banned another man for.

    Why did I do that? I banned myself to make a point, because you didn’t have the balls to ban me for saying exactly what Joel said. You knew you could get away with banning Joel, but not with banning me, so you flat out refused to ban me for saying exactly what Joel said … inconsistent much?

    So to draw attention to what I saw and still see as a reprehensible act, banning a man for scientific views, I said screw your site and the horse you rode in on, I’m not going there no more.

    However, contrary to your claim, that was just the opening moves. Subsequently, you most definitely banned me from your site, tallbloke, saying:

    So far, Willis has been under a self ban from the Talkshop. Now I’m telling him to stay away.

    Yep. You banned me, and in accordance with your ban, I’ve stayed away to this day, and I strongly recommend that other people do the same. A man who bans people for their scientific views is bad enough. A man who bans an unpopular person for his scientific views, but refuses to ban a popular man for saying the exact same thing, is beneath contempt.

    Now, unlike you, tb, I don’t charge a man with lying without solid evidence. So I don’t know if you are lying about banning me from the Talkshop, and in fact, I strongly suspect that you simply forgot that it is no longer a self-ban, that you converted it to a real ban.

    Those still interested in the old debate between tallbloke and myself on the subject of bannings are invited to read first “A Matter of Some Gravity“, and then “Thanks and Apologies“, wherein tallbloke banned me. I know I’m not looking to reheat old wars, and I have done my best to be cordial with tallbloke since the rupture.

    Your move, Rog … and considering how much ground you and your blog just lost by you coming here to make an ass out of yourself once again over a dead issue, I’d choose the move carefully. You don’t want to match wits with me, that’s a mug’s game, and calling me a liar just earns you people’s deserved contempt. If you were smart your next move would be to lift the ban on me and Joel and move on, it’s a blot on the old escutcheon, my friend …


    Here’s my response:
    tallbloke says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    February 14, 2013 at 10:39 am
    Ah, more bullying and blustering.

    Willis said:

    “Tallbloke banned me from his site for saying that a perpetual motion machine wouldn’t work”

    This is a lie.
    Actually it’s two lies.

    Lie one: “Tallbloke banned me from his site”

    No, you banned yourself from my site because I didn’t give in to your ultimatum telling me how i should run my website, AS YOU JUST ADMITTED ABOVE, by saying:
    “I said I wouldn’t go to your site. So you are correct that I banned myself”.

    Glad that one’s settled then, liar.

    Lie two: ” for saying that a perpetual motion machine wouldn’t work”

    No. You banned yourself, so how could I have banned you for anything?

    You still don’t understand the difference between the various arguments about the effect of pressure on temperature either.

    Your capability with logic is really on the slide.