Archive for the ‘Clouds’ Category

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The NLCs are playing a game of hide-and-seek this season, bemusing regular observers.

Spaceweather.com

Jan. 8, 2021:

They’re back. Noctilucent clouds (NLCs), recently missing, are once again circling the South Pole. And, in an unexpected twist, they’ve just appeared over Argentina as well.

“This is a very rare event,” reports Gerd Baumgarten of Germany’s Leibniz-Institute of Atmospheric Physics, whose automated cameras caught the meteoritic clouds rippling over Rio Grande, Argentina (53.8S) on Jan. 3rd:

A second camera recorded the clouds at even higher latitude: Rio Gallegos (51.6S). At this time of year, noctilucent clouds are supposed to be confined to the Antarctic–not Argentina. In the whole history of atmospheric research, NLCs have been sighted at mid-southern latitudes only a handful of times.

“Personally, I am thrilled to see NLCs in Argentina, as I had not expected them to occur so far north,” says Natalie Kaifler of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), who operates a lidar (laser radar) alongside one of Baumgarten’s…

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Is it a coincidence that we’re just past the end of the lowest sunspot cycle for over a century?

Spaceweather.com

Dec. 28, 2020: Something strange is happening 50 miles above Antarctica. Or rather, not happening. Noctilucent clouds (NLCs), which normally blanket the frozen continent in December, are almost completely missing. These images from NASA’s AIM spacecraft compare Christmas Eve 2019 with Christmas Eve 2020:

“The comparison really is astounding,” says Cora Randall of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. “Noctilucent cloud frequencies are close to zero this year.”

NLCs are Earth’s highest clouds. They form when summertime wisps of water vapor rise up from the poles to the edge of space. Water crystallizing around specks of meteor dust 83 km (~50 miles) above Earth’s surface creates beautiful electric-blue structures, typically visible from November to February in the south, and May to August in the north.

A crucial point: Noctilucent clouds form during summer. And that’s the problem. Although summer officially started in Antarctica one week…

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Nobel prize-winning physicist CTR Wilson


‘Charles Thomson Rees Wilson, CH, FRS (14 February 1869 – 15 November 1959) was a Scottish physicist and meteorologist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of the cloud chamber.
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The invention of the cloud chamber was by far Wilson’s signature accomplishment, earning him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1927. The Cavendish laboratory praised him for the creation of “a novel and striking method of investigating the properties of ionized gases”. The cloud chamber allowed huge experimental leaps forward in the study of subatomic particles and the field of particle physics, generally. Some have credited Wilson with making the study of particles possible at all.’ — Wikipedia.

A potted biography, including cloud chamber images and a diagram of the global atmospheric electrical circuit, can be found here.

The link to the broadcast script is below the introduction.
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Cumulus clouds over the Atlantic Ocean [image credit: Tiago Fioreze @ Wikipedia]


Clouds again: “For 50 years, people have been making climate projections, but all of them have had a false representation of clouds”, says a top atmospheric science professor who served as a lead-author of Chapter 7, “Cloud and Aerosols” for the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Despite this glaring deficiency in climate models, governments insist on framing energy policies on the assertion that human ’emissions’ will be the main cause of any observed or future global climate change.

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Above the Atlantic Ocean, puffy white clouds scud across the sky buffeted by invisible trade winds.

They are not ‘particularly big, impressive or extended,” says Dr. Sandrine Bony, a climatologist and research director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research. “But they are the most ubiquitous clouds on Earth.”

Clouds are one of the biggest question marks in global climate models, and a wild card in predicting what will happen to the climate as temperatures rise, says Phys.org.

They play a vital role in how much of the sun’s radiation makes it into and gets trapped in our atmosphere.

The more clouds there are, the more radiation bounces off their tops and is reflected back into space; it also means that if there are more clouds, the radiation reflected by Earth gets trapped.

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Cumuliform cloudscape over Swifts Creek, Australia
[image credit: Wikipedia]


Do we see a chicken and egg conundrum when reading that there’s ‘a project to study how low clouds respond to climate change’? Accurate data on clouds in general is sparse, making any assertions about future climate questionable.
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One of the biggest weaknesses in computer climate models – the very models whose predictions underlie proposed political action on human CO2 emissions – is the representation of clouds and their response to global warming.

The deficiencies in computer simulations of clouds are acknowledged even by climate modelers, says Science under attack (via The GWPF).

Yet cloud behavior is key to whether future warming is a serious problem or not.

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Climate models: the limits in the sky

Posted: October 13, 2020 by oldbrew in climate, Clouds, modelling, Uncertainty
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The debate about the role of clouds in climate — whether in isolation, or relative to other possible factors — rumbles on, and on, and adequate data is just not available. A rather large hole in the IPCC-claimed ‘settled science’, it seems.
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Climate modellers hope machine learning can overcome persistent problems that still cloud their results, says E&T Magazine.

The discipline of climate modelling has entered its sixth decade. Large-scale analyses of Earth’s behaviour have evolved considerably but there remain significant gaps, some persistent.

One in particular helps illustrate challenges that are now being tackled by, almost inevitably, using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

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Credit: earthhow.com


As Accuweather explains here, research has shown that a combination of conditions at solar minimum can create this effect.
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The European Union’s Earth observation program said Tuesday that the ozone hole over Antarctica has swelled to its largest size and deepest level in years, reports Phys.org.

Experts at the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service said a strong, stable and cold polar vortex has driven the expansion, and called for greater international efforts to ensure countries abide by an international accord to phase out use of ozone-depleting chemicals.

Vincent-Henri Peuch, who heads the service, said in a statement that the ozone hole was “definitely” among the largest in the last 15 years.

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Is the natural world trying to tell us something, as the solar minimum continues?

Spaceweather.com

July 6, 2020: Last night, July 5-6, a major outbreak of noctilucent clouds (NLCs) blanketed Europe. Electric-blue tendrils of frosted meteor smoke rippled over almost every European capital from Scandinavia to the Adriatic. “It was the most phenomenal display of NLCs I’ve seen in my life,” says Viktor Veres, who photographed the outbreak from Budapest, Hungary:

Viktor-Veres-VV_07571_1593991508

“I was just getting ready for dinner when one of my friends, Alex, cried ‘NLC party time!’,” says Veres. “The electric-blue clouds were almost directly overhead. I sprinted to the car (partially dressing in the street) and drove up Gellért Hill for a view of the clouds over the most famous sights of Budapest–the Danube River, Chain Bridge, Buda Castle, and Parliament. And, yes, my dinner got cold.”

Paris was also “overcast” by noctilucent clouds. “They were very bright,” reports Bertrand Kulik, who shot them floating above the Eiffel Tower:

paris2

“The shapes of the…

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Are climate models getting any better, or even getting worse? Their ‘projections’ almost invariably expect more warming than is observed, often a lot more. Now the uncertainty is increasing.
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As scientists work to determine why some of the latest climate models suggest the future could be warmer than previously thought, a new study indicates the reason is likely related to challenges simulating the formation and evolution of clouds, says ScienceDaily.

The new research, published in Science Advances, gives an overview of 39 updated models that are part of a major international climate endeavor, the sixth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). The models will also be analyzed for the upcoming sixth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Compared with older models, a subset of these updated models has shown a higher sensitivity to carbon dioxide — that is, more warming for a given concentration of the greenhouse gas — though a few showed lower sensitivity as well.

The end result is a greater range of model responses than any preceding generation of models, dating back to the early 1990s.

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Noctilucent Clouds over London

Posted: June 24, 2020 by oldbrew in Clouds, solar system dynamics

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This phenomenon seems to be flourishing during solar minimum.

Spaceweather.com

June 23, 2020: On June 21st, something rare and magical happened in London. The skies of the great city filled with noctilucent clouds (NLCs). Phil Halper noticed the display, grabbed a camera, and raced from one landmark to another, hurriedly recording pictures like this:

Eye_of_London_resized

“Even the bright lights of the London Eye on the river Thames couldn’t drown out the display,” says Halper. “These were the most spectacular NLCs I’ve ever seen.”

If NLCs look alien–that’s because they are. The clouds are seeded by meteoroids. They form every year around this time when summertime wisps of water vapor rise up to the mesosphere, allowing water to crystallize around specks of meteor smoke.

Usually you have to be under a dark sky at high latitudes to see these rare clouds–but 2020 is not usual. Record-cold temperatures in the mesosphere are boosting NLCs, brightening them enough to see from places…

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Tropical beach


Are these researchers proposing a kind of reverse greenhouse effect in the tropics?

Conventional knowledge has it that warm air rises while cold air sinks, says Phys.org.

But a study from the University of California, Davis, found that in the tropical atmosphere, cold air rises due to an overlooked effect—the lightness of water vapor.

This effect helps to stabilize tropical climates and buffer some of the impacts of a warming climate.

The study, published today in the journal Science Advances, is among the first to show the profound implications water vapor buoyancy has on Earth’s climate and energy balance.

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Image credit: MIT


At least they don’t need any help predicting hours of darkness.
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The output of solar energy systems is highly dependent on cloud cover, says Science Daily.

While weather forecasting can be used to predict the amount of sunlight reaching ground-based solar collectors, cloud cover is often characterized in simple terms, such as cloudy, partly cloudy or clear.

This does not provide accurate information for estimating the amount of sunlight available for solar power plants.

In this week’s Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, from AIP Publishing, a new method is reported for estimating cloud optical properties using data from recently launched satellites.

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Earth and climate – an ongoing controversy


H/T The GWPF

The article would have us believe that so-called ‘greenhouse’ gases are warming while aerosols are cooling, the balance of the two is unknown and that needs addressing to improve climate predictions. There may be other ways to get better predictions, but that’s another matter.

Pollution declines from pandemic shutdowns may aid in answering long-standing questions about how aerosols influence climate, says Scientific American.

As the world scrambles to contain the spread of COVID-19, many economic activities have ground to a halt, leading to marked reductions in air pollution.

And with the skies clearing, researchers are getting an unprecedented chance to help answer one of climate science’s thorniest open questions: the impact of atmospheric aerosols.

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Great Barrier Reef, Australia [image credit: BBC]


Research continues, but what other ‘futuristic’ climate-related plans might they want to conjure up if this trial is deemed a success?
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An ambitious “cloud brightening” experiment has been carried out over Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in an early-stage trial that scientists hope could become a futuristic way to protect coral from global warming, says Phys.org.

In an attempt to cool waters around the reef by making clouds reflect more sunlight, researchers said they used a boat-mounted fan similar to a snow cannon to shoot salt crystals into the air.

Results from the trial were “really, really encouraging”, the project’s lead scientist Daniel Harrison from Southern Cross University said on Friday.

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For decades we’ve been told that net cloud radiative forcing is positive. This means that the the amount by which clouds cool the surface, by reflecting solar radiation back to space, is outweighed by the amount that clouds warm the surface, by re-radiating surface emitted IR back towards the ground. So cloud increase equals warmer surface See e.g IPCC AR5 on the subject:

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The stratosphere isn’t even supposed to have clouds…

Spaceweather.com

Jan. 1, 2020: A spectacular display of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) that began two days ago is still going strong around the Arctic Circle. This picture, taken on Dec. 31st by Per-Anders Gustavsson in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, shows why some onlookers mistake them for daytime auroras:

psc_icehotel

“The colors were amazing,” says Gustavsson, who drives a tour bus for Visit Abisko. “I was driving by the world-famous Ice Hotel when we saw the clouds. We just had to stop for pictures.”

“I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things during my years in the Arctic,” he adds. “This was easily one of the greatest displays I have ever seen.”

Polar stratospheric clouds are newsworthy because normally the stratosphere has no clouds at all. The stratosphere is arid and almost always transparent. Only when the temperature drops to a staggeringly cold -85C can sparse water molecules assemble themselves into icy stratospheric clouds. PSCs…

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Unusual goings-on seen in the skies over New Zealand.

Spaceweather.com

Dec. 4, 2019: An atmospheric wave nearly half as wide as Earth itself is supercharging noctilucent clouds (NLCs) in the southern hemisphere. NASA’s AIM spacecraft detected the phenomenon in this series of south polar images spanning Nov. 27th through Dec. 2nd:

fiveday

“This is a clear sign of planetary wave activity,” says AIM principal investigator James Russell of Hampton University, which manages the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere mission for NASA.

Planetary waves are enormous ripples of temperature and pressure that form in Earth’s atmosphere in response to Coriolis forces. In this case, a 5-day planetary wave is boosting noctilucent clouds over Antarctica and causing them to spin outward to latitudes where NLCs are rarely seen.

On Dec. 1st, Mirko Harnisch saw the clouds from Dunedin, New Zealand. “I was enjoying the late-evening sky over the Southern Ocean just after 11 pm local time when these wispy blue-ish clouds appeared,”…

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So IPCC climate theory now means that cleaner air is more of a problem. Classic.

The relationship between aerosols (particulate matter) and their cooling effect on the Earth due to the formation of clouds is more than twice as strong as was previously thought, reports Phys.org.

As the amounts of aerosols decrease, climate models that predict a faster warming of the Earth are more probable.

These are the conclusions of researcher Otto Hasekamp from SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, who published the results in Nature Communications. He carried out his research together with Edward Gryspeerdt from Imperial College London, and Johannes Quaas from Leipzig University.

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It’s ‘according to a new study’ time again, as the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) goes under the microscope. Another causes and effects puzzle.

New research by NOAA and a visiting scientist from India shows that warming of the Indo-Pacific Ocean is altering rainfall patterns from the tropics to the United States, contributing to declines in rainfall on the United States west and east coasts, reports Phys.org.

In a study published this week in the journal Nature, researchers report a doubling in the size of a warm pool of water spanning the western Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean in recent years.

This Indo-Pacific warm pool in what is already the warmest part of the global ocean is expanding each year by an area the size of California.

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As this is going on, cosmic rays are near a record high since measurements began. Researchers are using natural cosmic rays this time.

CERN’s colossal complex of accelerators is in the midst of a two-year shutdown for upgrade work.

But that doesn’t mean all experiments at the Laboratory have ceased to operate.

The CLOUD experiment, for example, has just started a data run that will last until the end of November, reports Phys.org.

The CLOUD experiment studies how ions produced by high-energy particles called cosmic rays affect aerosol particles, clouds and the climate.

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