Mystery as stratospheric wind patterns change for first time in 60 years of observations 

Posted: September 3, 2016 by oldbrew in atmosphere, Cycles, wind

This plot shows the QBO during the 1980s. [credit: Wikipedia / FU Berlin]

This plot shows the QBO during the 1980s. [credit: Wikipedia / FU Berlin]

Another climate mystery – this time the QBO – for scientists to get their teeth into, as the Mail Online reports.

For more than 60 years, atmospheric scientists have observed the consistent behaviour of a wind pattern known as the ‘quasi-biennial oscillation’ – a phenomenon that repeats every 28 months. But in late 2015, the long-reliable pattern suddenly changed. 

The winds have since returned to their normal course, and while no immediate effects were detected, astronomers are working to understand if this was just a one-time ‘black swan’ event, or a ‘canary in the coal mine’ signalling unseen conditions.

Scientists have measured the ‘quasi-biennial oscillation’ in the stratosphere since 1953, later coining its name in the 1960s. Over the course of roughly two years, winds in the tropical stratosphere circulate in easterly and westerly directions.

The westerly winds develop at the top, Nasa explains, and gradually make their way to the bottom. While this is happening, a layer of easterly winds takes the place above them, where they in turn descend and are replaced by westerlies.

Every 28 months, this pattern repeats. In late 2015, however, scientists noticed something different.

In this strange phenomenon, explained in a new paper published to Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers discovered that rather than allowing the easterly winds to descend, the westerlies appeared to move upward and block them.

This continued for nearly half a year, before returning to normal this past July. Researchers aren’t yet sure what this means, and are working to find out the significance of the disruption within a system that’s been consistent for so long.

‘The quasi-biennial oscillation is the stratosphere’s Old Faithful,’ said Paul Newman, Chief Scientist for Earth Sciences at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. ‘If Old Faithful stopped for a day, you’d begin to wonder about what was happening under the ground. It’s really interesting when nature throws us a curveball.’

The stratosphere extends from roughly 10 to 30 miles above Earth’s surface, and the researchers say the quasi-biennial oscillation drives many of the conditions within this layer, including fluctuations in the ozone by 10 percent at the equator, between peaks of the easterly and westerly phases, and on levels of polar ozone depletion.

Researchers have proposed two possible explanations for this bizarre activity – this year’s El Niño, or the ongoing rise in global temperatures.

The team is studying the event to determine if it was simply a fluke, or if it could be a result of climate change with consequences that are yet to be known. And, they’re wondering what caused this anomaly, and if it will happen again.

Source: Mystery as stratospheric wind patterns change for first time in 60 years of observations | Daily Mail Online

  1. oldbrew says:

    In a side panel (‘WHAT MAY HAVE CAUSED IT’) the report says:

    So far, they have two hypotheses on what may have happened.
    In one theory, they’ve attributed this to the powerful 2015-2016 El Niño.
    Or, they say it could be a result of the ongoing rise in global temperatures.

    Read more:

    Somewhat predictable theories. We’ve had powerful El Ninos before and temps have not risen much in recent years.

    Background notes:

  2. pg sharrow says:

    Earthquake Weather, Bet Ren knows. shifting EMF changed high and low pressure bubbles that steer the winds. What moves the atmosphere also stirs the subsurface flows that later results in quakes and volcanic activies. As the solar activity changes the Earth’s fields become less stable…pg

  3. ren says:

    I consider that a strong El Niño affect the pressure in the north at the beginning of 2016.

  4. Jaime Jessop says:

    Something ‘unusual’ takes place in the atmosphere for the first time in 60 years of observations and scientists immediately start asking, could it be climate change? Well, yes, it could be (natural or anthropogenic, mediated via the ‘unusual’ 2 year build up to the 2016 El Nino). It might also be that a paltry 60 years of observations is not enough time in which to assess the behaviour of earth’s atmosphere and that what we call ‘unusual’ or ‘unprecedented’ might have taken place many times over say, 500 years, allowing a [biblically long lived] observer to come to more definite conclusions as to the cause.

  5. oldbrew says:

    Note also that the period of satellite observations is even shorter, around 40 years.

    Given that the Chandler wobble is half the QBO period, maybe things like this could be relevant?

    Earth’s Chandler Wobble Changed Dramatically in 2005

    New [2009] analysis shows that the Chandler Wobble in Earth’s axis changed phase by 180 degrees in 2005. The question is why.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Geo-engineering might do it?

    Modifications of the quasi-biennial oscillation by a geoengineering perturbation of the stratospheric aerosol layer [2014]

    From the abstract:
    In the case of maximum perturbation, i.e., highest stratospheric aerosol burden, the lower tropical stratosphere is locked into a permanent westerly QBO phase.

    From the post:
    the researchers discovered that rather than allowing the easterly winds to descend, the westerlies appeared to move upward and block them.

    From Wikipedia:
    China used cloud seeding in Beijing just before the 2008 Olympic Games in order to clear the air of pollution. In February 2009, China also blasted iodide sticks over Beijing to artificially induce snowfall after four months of drought, and blasted iodide sticks over other areas of northern China to increase snowfall. The snowfall in Beijing lasted for approximately three days and led to the closure of 12 main roads around Beijing. At the end of October 2009 Beijing claimed it had its earliest snowfall since 1987 due to cloud seeding.

    India also has or had a cloud seeding program.

    More from the research paper:
    An increase in stratospheric aerosol loading would warm the lower stratosphere, mainly via absorption of longwave radiation. Such warming would lead to a strengthening of the tropical upwelling, as showed by Aquila et al. [2012] in the case of a Mount Pinatubo-like eruption, which could interfere with the periodicity of the QBO. After the Mount Pinatubo eruption, observations showed a warming of the lower stratosphere of about 3 K and a delay in the downward propagation of the easterly shear [Labitzke, 1994]. [bold added]

    Smoking gun?

  7. craigm350 says:

    Reblogged this on CraigM350 and commented:
    Lowest solar cycle in a hundred years, 60 odd years of observations….must be climate change *palms forehead*

  8. Paul Vaughan says:


    Human beings now powerful and bad-*ss enough to threaten seasonal integrity on planet Earth:

    Children just aren’t going to know seasons.

  9. […] Source: Mystery as stratospheric wind patterns change for first time in 60 years of observations  […]

  10. oldbrew says:

    U.S. Weapon System HAARP (Geoengineering) Contributes to Climate Change and Responsible for Destabilizing Agriculture, Says Indian Minister of State and Environmental Minister
    Saturday, July 30, 2016

    Where’s he getting his ideas from?

  11. Derek Colman says:

    If it has only been studied for 63 years, that is just not long enough to know whether or not the change is purely cyclical, or even a randomly occurring event. That’s the trouble with climate science. All the scientists were born yesterday.

  12. Paul Vaughan says:

    That’s a fun link you gave OB:

    And on a grander scale, it seems that the popularized climate change movement focused on carbon emissions as the source of shifting weather, is a cover story for this duplicitous geoengineering agenda. In other words, while the unawakened clamor for carbon taxes, corporate interests, and governments know that the true causes of climate change are weather modification programs, some of which have been active since the 1970’s.

    And as a final point, the BRICS alliance is allegedly working to defeat Cabal-controlled groups in the west. Could this admission by Dave indicate that a majority of public officials in India are aware of such clandestine warfare activities? I think it is a reasonable conclusion to draw.

    People are free to believe as they choose.

    Although I would not have put it like that, I can tell you this:
    China knows USA is lying about climate and USA completely underestimates China.

    HANGZHOU, China — If President Barack Obama was hoping for a graceful start to his final trip to Asia as commander in chief, this wasn’t it.
    The first sign of trouble: There was no staircase for Obama to exit the plane and descend on the red carpet.
    On the tarmac, a quarrel broke out between a presidential aide and a Chinese official […]
    When the White House official insisted the U.S. would set the rules for its own leader, her Chinese counterpart shot back.

    “This is our country! This is our airport!” the Chinese official yelled.

    …and we’re way smarter than your smug *ss!!! (the official should have added)

    It’s super-saturated hypocrisy when the US lectures China about corruption.

    In the interest of global stability those of us in the rest of the west outside of the US can balance against US climate deception.


    If/when USA gets serious about due corruption reform:
    (a) climate and earth orientation research will be merged — and
    (b) sun-climate belief-harassment campaigns will be terminated.

    Finally: QBO hasn’t reversed phase and naive people have misinterpreted China’s Paris ratification….

  13. oldbrew says:

    Comment on the QBO anomaly starts around 2mins. 20 secs.

  14. Paul Vaughan says:

    Climate discussion SNAFU….

    So far I have seen NO observation-based evidence that QBO has reversed phase.

    That leaves me wondering if there has been:
    (a) misinterpretation.
    (b) misunderstanding.
    (c) misrepresentation.

    Perhaps it is time to prepare some illustrations….

  15. oldbrew says:

    From the post: ‘The winds have since returned to their normal course’

  16. Paul Vaughan says:

    The various authors who have written about this in the past few days have been misleading. They failed to be clear that the reversal was not a phase reversal.

    IF it was a phase reversal, that would be a big deal and clue …but it wasn’t …and so the appearance is that someone is trying to mislead the public …..for example into thinking global warming caused a monster El Nino that was so anthropogenic that it reversed QBO phase …but it did NOT reverse QBO phase.

    Most readers of the various articles would neither appreciate nor understand the conceptual difference between a reversal and a phase reversal.

    Today I took stock of what’s up more generally while out for a hike on the local mountain:

    It’s a US election year …so of course (duh!) the level of misinformation is off-the-charts and becoming very annoying. It’s so bad it’s tempting while looking at the latest spin on US sites like wuwt & ce to just have an outburst declaring, “What a bunch of ***ing r*t*rd*d m*r*ns!!!”.

    It seems to me that the director of communications said to turn the level-of-misinformation dial up to near speaker-blowing level this week.

    Today I decided to make a conscious effort to tune out the misinformation and stay focused on ongoing clean nature exploration.

    Sometimes it’s tempting to correct every piece of misinformation …but some common-sense-practicality is in order because during a US election year that’s impossible (because the BS sprays 24/7).

    Tactical Provocation (gotta have some fun)….
    Based on how hubristically unethical they are in climate discussion, I’ve become convinced that the Americans see their climate agenda as a core component of their military strategy, which I suspect is to engineer context to take over the Middle East and Russia (for the resources). They can’t do it without China’s support. Increasingly the US reminds me of a double-or-nothing-every-time-no-matter-what gambler …and we all know how that eventually ends. One thing’s for sure: The American agents involved in the climate discussion are unable or unwilling to be sensible, suggesting they’re committed to a higher purpose.