Archive for the ‘Clouds’ Category

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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Credit: BBC


What happened to the ‘unprecedented’, ‘new normal’ hot weather that blew in from north Africa for a few days, then blew away again? Or was that just the media and warmist climate pundits shooting the breeze for yet another opportunistic headline? In any case it looks as if the Great British Summer is now back to its usual erratic self, but becoming somewhat wetter than the seasonal average.

Thunderstorms and heavy downpours are set to hit the UK this week, as Brits face what could be one of the wettest Augusts on record, says the Evening Standard.

Severe thunderstorm warnings are in place for London and the south east on Monday, with the chance of flooding, travel disruption and power cuts, the Met Office warns.

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More on the mysteries behind noctilucent clouds. Lots of extra water vapour has turned up this season that can’t easily be explained.

Spaceweather.com

June 19, 2019: The 2019 season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) has been remarkable, maybe the best ever, with NLCs appearing as far south as Los Angeles CA and Albuquerque NM. What’s going on? Researchers aren’t sure, but Lynn Harvey of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics has just found an important clue.

“The mesosphere is quite wet,” she says. “Water vapor concentrations are at their highest levels for the past 12 years.”

electricblueNoctilucent clouds over Piwnice, Poland, on June 18th. Credit: Piotr Majewski

Noctilucent clouds form when summertime wisps of water vapor rise to the top of the atmosphere. Water molecules stick to specks of meteor smoke, gathering into icy clouds that glow electric blue when they are hit by high altitude sunlight.

When noctilucent clouds began appearing at unusually low latitudes in early June, Harvey took a look at data from NASA’s Microwave…

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Something of a mystery developing here. Open season for theories.

Spaceweather.com

June 11, 2019: On June 8th and 9th, many people who have never previously heard of “noctilucent clouds” (NLCs) found themselves eagerly taking pictures of them–from moving cars, through city lights, using cell phones and iPads. “I have never seen clouds like this before!” says Tucker Shannon, who took this picture from Corvallis, Oregon:

“I heard that they may have been seeded by meteoroids,” says Shannon.

That’s correct. NLCs are Earth’s highest clouds. Seeded by meteoroids, they float at the edge of space more than 80 km above the planet’s surface. The clouds are very cold and filled with tiny ice crystals. When sunbeams hit those crystals, they glow electric-blue.

Noctilucent clouds used to be a polar phenomenon. In recent years, however, researchers have noticed their electric-blue forms creeping south. Is it climate change? Or the solar cycle? No one knows for sure.

This past weekend…

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From the ‘observing tips’: ‘Look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset when the sun has dipped below the horizon. If you see luminous blue-white tendrils spreading across the sky, you may have spotted a noctilucent cloud.’

Spaceweather.com

May 31, 2019: A huge blue cloud of frosted meteor smoke is pinwheeling around the Arctic Circle. NASA’s AIM spacecraft spotted its formation on May 20th, and it has since circled the North Pole one and a half times, expanding in size more than 200-fold.

“These are noctilucent clouds,” says Cora Randall of the AIM science team at the University of Colorado. “And they are going strong.”

nlc_anim_strip

Noctilucent clouds (NLCs) in May are nothing unusual. They form every year around this time when the first wisps of summertime water vapor rise to the top of Earth’s atmosphere. Molecules of H2O adhere to specks of meteor smoke, forming ice crystals 80 km above Earth’s surface. When sunbeams hit those crystals, they glow electric-blue.

But these NLCs are different. They’re unusually strong and congregated in a coherent spinning mass, instead of spreading as usual all across the polar cap.

“This…

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Polar Mesospheric Summer Echoes

Posted: May 22, 2019 by oldbrew in atmosphere, Clouds, physics

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Noctilucent clouds form when molecules from summertime water vapour stick to the microscopic debris of disintegrated meteoroids.

Spaceweather.com

May 21, 2019: Every summer since the late 1970s, radars probing Earth’s upper atmosphere have detected strong echoes from altitudes between 80 km and 90 km. The signals come from noctilucent clouds (NLCs).  NASA’s AIM spacecraft is still waiting to spot the first NLCS of the 2019 season, but the echoes have already begun. Rob Stammes of the Polarlightcenter in Lofoten, Norway, detected them on May 19th and 20th:

pmse

“I detected these VHF signals from Eastern Europe,” he explains. “They reflected from the mesosphere back down to my receiver in Norway. The wave patterns were recognizable and very strong.”

Researchers call them “Polar Mesospheric Summer Echoes” or “PMSEs.” They occur over the Arctic during the months of May through August, and over the Antarctic during the months of November through February. These are the same months that NLCs appear.

The underlying physics of these echoes is still uncertain.

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