Archive for the ‘atmosphere’ Category



Credit: CERN

CLOUD experiment at CERN shows that the skies were much cloudier before the industrial revolution than previously thought.


Aurora over Antarctica [image credit:]

Aurora over Antarctica [image credit:]

ScienceDaily reports on the latest advances in understanding how the solar wind interacts with Earth. Note the seasonal aspects and the electric current findings.

A team of National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported researchers at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) discovered new evidence about how Earth’s magnetic field interacts with solar wind, almost as soon as they finished installing six data-collection stations across East Antarctic Plateau last January.

Their findings could have significant effects on our understanding of space weather. Although invisible to the naked eye, space weather can have serious, detrimental effects on modern technological infrastructure, including telecommunications, navigation, and electrical power systems.

The researchers for the first time observed that regardless of the hemisphere or the season, the polar ionosphere is subject to a constant electrical current, produced by pressure changes in the solar wind.


Dr Bill Gray R.I.P.

Posted: April 16, 2016 by Andrew in atmosphere, Natural Variation

Image credit:

Dr.Philip Klotzbach has announced the passing of Dr. William “Bill” Gray.


Artist's view of 55 Cancri e [credit: Wikipedia]

Artist’s view of 55 Cancri e [credit: Wikipedia]

Unusual atmospheric data from this exoplanet: not much heat transfer from the side permanently facing its star to the dark side, giving it a ‘large day–night temperature gradient’.

The orbit period is only 18 hours, as it’s much nearer to its star than Mercury is to the Sun. It may also have ‘an unknown source of heat’, as reports.

An international team of astronomers, led by the University of Cambridge, has obtained the most detailed ‘fingerprint’ of a rocky planet outside our solar system to date, and found a planet of two halves: one that is almost completely molten, and the other which is almost completely solid.


The Role Of Ozone In The Earth’s Climate

Posted: March 14, 2016 by oldbrew in atmosphere, climate, ozone

Erl Happ explains: To understand how climate evolves we have to comprehend the ‘ozonosphere’.


In the 1920’s the inventor of the Dobson Spectrometer designed to measure ozone in the atmosphere, Gordon Dobson, quickly discovered that total column ozone maps surface pressure. Low pressure cells generated in high latitudes have fewer molecules in the atmospheric column because the upper portion is ozone rich, ozone absorbs infrared radiation from the Earth and the upper air is therefore more rarefied. The reduction in density aloft fully, and in fact over-compensates, for the coldness and density of the air at the surface. By contrast High pressure cells are dense above and relatively less dense below because they originate in the warmer ozone poor mid latitudes.

The ozone content of the air varies on all time scales.

Because the distribution of ozone is a secondary determinant of atmospheric pressure (along with the absorption of radiant energy from the sun as the primary determinant) its distribution is allied to wind…

View original post 2,826 more words

Earth and Planetary Science Letters Has an interesting paper in the works. A new proxy informs a model which finds bigger than expected swings in CO2 linked to smaller than expected temperature swings in the past five million years. This indicates that the Earth’s climate system is less sensitive to CO2 levels than previously thought. Maybe they should take more notice of Leaf Stomata calibrations than Antarctic ice cores?


CO2 over the past 5 million years: Continuous simulation and new δ11B-based proxy data

During the past five million yrs, benthic δ18O records indicate a large range of climates, from warmer than today during the Pliocene Warm Period to considerably colder during glacials. Antarctic ice cores have revealed Pleistocene glacial–interglacial CO2 variability of 60–100 ppm, while sea level fluctuations of typically 125 m are documented by proxy data. However, in the pre-ice core period, CO2 and sea level proxy data are scarce and there is disagreement between different proxies and different records of the same proxy. This hampers comprehensive understanding of the long-term relations between CO2, sea level and climate.


Reblog from Clive Best’s site.

The basis of IPCC predictions is that any moderate warming caused by increased CO2 levels is enhanced by more evaporation from the oceans. Water vapour is itself a strong greenhouse gas and this increase results in a large “positive feedback” boosting climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 as high as 6C.
This is all just  theory however, so it is important to observe whether water vapour in the atmosphere has actually increased or not in response to increasing CO2. The data shown below are from the NASA NVAP [1] project based on radiosonde, TIROS,TOVS & SSM/I satellite based data. This data was kindly brought to my attention by Ken Gregory [2].

Fig 1: total Precipitative water vapour in 3 levels in the atmosphere im mm. The 3 curves are Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere and the “Global average” – see 2) below.

The data from NVAP shows little change in  water vapour from 1988 until 2001 at all levels in the atmosphere.  If anything a  small decrease in the important upper atmospheric layers  in the detail shown below Fig1b.


DSCOVR observatory [image credit: NASA]

DSCOVR observatory [image credit: NASA]

Solid data on global cloud cover seems hard to come by, but NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) could be changing that. SpaceRef reports.

From a dusty atmosphere stretching across the Atlantic Ocean to daily views of clouds at sunrise, a new NASA camera keeping a steady eye on the sunlit side of Earth is yielding new insights about our changing planet.

With NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), affixed to NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) about one million miles from Earth, scientists are getting a new view of our planet’s clouds, land surfaces, aerosols and more.


Communication and Navigation Outage Forecast System (C/NOFS) [credit: NASA]

Communication and Navigation Outage Forecast System (C/NOFS) [credit: NASA]

NASA instrumentation shows ‘the quietest solar minimum since the space age began’, as reports.

Observations made by NASA instruments onboard an Air Force satellite have shown that the boundary between the Earth’s upper atmosphere and space has moved to extraordinarily low altitudes.

These observations were made by the Coupled Ion Neutral Dynamics Investigation (CINDI) instrument suite, which was launched aboard the U.S. Air Force’s Communication/Navigation Outage Forecast System (C/NOFS) satellite on April 16, 2008.


Chris Curnow

a quote from “The Nonsense That is Ozone-Depletion”
by Ken Ring (2009) at
erebusOne Hole is Larger than the Other
Let’s look at one last factor, so often reported; that the Antarctic hole is larger than the Arctic one. One would think that even if inert heavier-than-air substances could make it up into space, that they would do it more around the densely populated regions of earth — the northern hemisphere; and affect the Arctic Hole more than the Antarctic. No one is disputing that the hole over the Antarctic is definitely much bigger. The Southern hemisphere has a longer winter than the Northern hemisphere because Earth is further from the sun in July than in January. Longer winter means bigger hole. But also maybe, some chlorine is coming from some other source, instead of CFCs. Let’s look around.

Aha! Just a few miles upwind from the Antarctic camp where all the readings about ozone-depletion originate from, is a rather large hill called Mt Erebus.


Aircraft Contrails: Where does the moisture come from?

Posted: October 2, 2015 by tallbloke in atmosphere

contrailsBe warned: any mention of ‘chemtrails’ will result in comments being ditched in the bit bucket.

Roger Clague writes in suggestions:

Contrails, does the water vapour come from the burnt fuel or the air?

According to Nasa 99.9% is from the air 0.01% from the burnt fuel.

“Nearly all of the contrail is created from the moisture in the atmosphere. “
Justified by R.G.Knollenberg(1972) paid by Nasa
“There are at least four orders of magnitude more ice present in the contrail core than the Sabreliner originally exhausted!”
A later Nasa paper says
Atlas, Wang and Duda ( 2006)
“The average ice water per meter along the length of the contrail is 1.6 104 g m 1 , some three to four orders of magnitude greater than the water vapor released by typical jet aircraft, also similar to previously reported values.”


Tropopause height as a climate metric

Posted: September 17, 2015 by oldbrew in atmosphere, climate

[image credit: B. Geerts and E. Linacre]

[image credit: B. Geerts and E. Linacre]

Having recently noted the existence of this 2011 paper on Talkshop Suggestions, contributor Roger Clague replied to say he felt it could make for an interesting discussion, and put forward some challenging initial thoughts.

Abstract. We present a seasonal climatology of tropopause altitude for 78◦ N 16◦ E derived from observations 2007–2010 by the SOUSY VHF radar on Svalbard. The spring minimum occurs one month later than that of surface air temperature and instead coincides with the maximum in ozone column density. This confirms similar studies based on radiosonde measurements in the Arctic and demonstrates downward control by the stratosphere.

If one is to exploit the potential of tropopause height as a metric for climate change at high latitude and elsewhere, it is imperative to observe and understand the processes which establish the tropopause – an understanding to which this study contributes. [bold added]


Climate model predictions, seasonal to decadal.

Posted: September 13, 2015 by Andrew in atmosphere, climate

imageCan climate models predict? A few months ago a lecture given by a senior member of the Met Office, describing where the models are at. What they can do, and more problematically, what they cannot.


[update: Tyler Robinson has replied in comments  — Tim /update]

Talkshop contributor ‘Cementafriend’ has emailed me with an interesting critique of parts the 2013 Robinson & Catling paper Common 0.1 bar tropopause in thick atmospheres set by pressure-dependent infrared transparency 

. He is an engineer and tells me that:

I have had actual experience with combustion and heat transfer. I have designed burners for coal, gas, oil and waste fuel materials. I have measured CO2 in exhaust gases, down coal mines and even in the atmosphere.

The presence of OH in the atmosphere is due to the reaction CH4 +O3 > CH3OH +O2 (of course other organics can also be oxidised by O3 but the quantity of these is tiny).
The reaction claimed CH4 +OH> CH3 +H2O is not correct. CH3OH (methanol or methyl alcohol sometimes known as wood alcohol which is poisonous) can exist as a molecule. In water this can form the ions CH3+ and OH-.
CH3OH is highly soluble in water at ocean/lake surfaces and also in drops of water in clouds. However, there is little O3 in the atmosphere up to 11,000 km and that is why CH4 persists in the atmosphere now at around 1.7 ppm.

It seems that just as there are “Climate Scientists” making up false relations in physics, thermodynamics & heat transfer (luckily they have not touched mass transfer), there also seem to be “astrophysicists” and “astrochemists” making up new chemistry & reaction kinetics.


Makarieva and Gorschov

Makarieva and Gorschov

Our old friend Anastassia Makarieva has a new paper in press with her colleagues Victor Gorschov and A.V. Nefiodov: ‘Empirical evidence for the condensational theory of hurricanes’. A preprint is available here. This theory is an extension of her earlier work on where winds come from, which we discussed a couple of years ago.

The new paper concludes with this:

We derived the relationship between the gravitational power of precipitation and air velocity in the windwall from the previously developed theory of condensation-induced dynamics [3,5]. We emphasize that the gravitational power of precipitation exists irrespective of the dissipation of the kinetic energy of hurricanes (distinct from the interpretation given in work [2]). The hurricane power budget would remain the same even if precipitation occurred in free fall with rain drops not interacting with atmospheric air.


Clues emerge to help solve red planet riddle

Posted: September 2, 2015 by tallbloke in atmosphere, data
Tags: ,

Repost from the JPL website

This view combines information from two instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to map color-coded composition over the shape of the ground in a small portion of the Nili Fossae plains region of Mars' northern hemisphere. This site is part of the largest known carbonate-rich deposit on Mars. In the color coding used for this map, green indicates a carbonate-rich composition, brown indicates olivine-rich sands, and purple indicates basaltic composition. Image credit: JPL

This view combines information from two instruments on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to map color-coded composition over the shape of the ground in a small portion of the Nili Fossae plains region of Mars’ northern hemisphere.
This site is part of the largest known carbonate-rich deposit on Mars. In the color coding used for this map, green indicates a carbonate-rich composition, brown indicates olivine-rich sands, and purple indicates basaltic composition. Image credit: JPL Click image for more info.

Scientists may be closer to solving the mystery of how Mars changed from a world with surface water billions of years ago to the arid Red Planet of today.

A new analysis of the largest known deposit of carbonate minerals on Mars suggests that the original Martian atmosphere may have already lost most of its carbon dioxide by the era of valley network formation.

“The biggest carbonate deposit on Mars has, at most, twice as much carbon in it as the current Mars atmosphere,” said Bethany Ehlmann of the California Institute of Technology and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, both in Pasadena. “Even if you combined all known carbon reservoirs together, it is still nowhere near enough to sequester the thick atmosphere that has been proposed for the time when there were rivers flowing on the Martian surface.”


This paper needs discussion.

The Hockey Schtick has an article up on a just published 69 page paper.


The above comparisons indicate that Eq. (10b) rather accurately reproduces the observed variation of mean surface temperatures across a wide range of planetary environments characterized in terms of solar irradiance (from 1.5 W m-2 to 2,602 W m-2), total atmospheric pressure (from near vacuum to 9,300 kPa), and greenhouse-gas concentrations (from 0.0% to over 96% per volume).

Now rip the paper apart. What if anything about it is safe?


A few days ago Hockey Schtick brought up Feynman deriving the basic atmospheric gas and temperature profile without mentioning radiation and showing that classical physics fails, quantum mechanics is required.


From Fenyman lectures VOL 1, Chapter 40, showing the contradiction between classic physics and reality, annotated by author. This is one and the same as the ultra-violet catastrophe matter, both needing a quantum physics jump.

Two explanations for one thing might be the food of cats or thought experiments but is not valid in the real world, one planet, although sometimes looking at the state of people I wonder.


Tim writes, someone somewhere reminded me

An anon has reminded me of a critical paper published in the May 1967 issue Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences.

As such in the context of the mid 1960s with little knowledge or computing hardware there ought to be no problem. Unfortunately a number of critical fixed assumptions and of ideas in the paper were ignored for what they were and has formed the basis of the nonsense we have today. The continued correction which typifies science guessing seemed to cease.

Given the Talkshop has many new eyes and opinions since the last mention of this paper a look today is a good move, or at least I think so.


Extracted from paper, one of several choices.