Archive for the ‘Clouds’ Category

Nir Shaviv is co-author along with Henrik Svensmark and others of a major new paper in Nature Communications titled Increased ionization supports growth of aerosols into cloud condensation nuclei. He has a write up at his Sciencebits blog. Here’s the introduction:

Our new results published today in nature communications provide the last piece of a long studied puzzle. We finally found the actual physical mechanism linking between atmospheric ionization and the formation of cloud condensation nuclei. Thus, we now understand the complete physical picture linking solar activity and our galactic environment (which govern the flux of cosmic rays ionizing the atmosphere) to climate here on Earth though changes in the cloud characteristics. In short, as small aerosols grow to become cloud condensation nuclei, they grow faster under higher background ionization rates. Consequently, they have a higher chance of surviving the growth without being eaten by larger aerosols. This effect was calculated theoretically and measured in a specially designed experiment conducted at the Danish Space Research Institute at the Danish Technical University, together with our colleagues Martin Andreas Bødker Enghoff and Jacob Svensmark.

shaviv-fig4

Figure 4: The correlation between the linearly detrended sea level measured using satellite altimetry (blue dots) and a model fit which includes just two components: The sun and el Niño southern oscillation. The excellent fit implies that the two components are by far the dominant source of sea level change on short time scales

Background:

It has long been known that solar variations appear to have a large effect on climate. This was already suggested by William Herschel over 200 years ago. Over the past several decades, more empirical evidence have unequivocally demonstrated the existence of such a link, as exemplified in the examples in the box below.

 

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Clouds are climate wildcards says Phys.org. This study focuses on tropical convective clouds. It seems that ‘the product of the number of clouds and their perimeter remains constant, a mathematical law known as scale invariance.’

Quoting from the ‘plain language summary’ of the study:
‘Narrowing uncertainty in forecasts of climate change has been hindered by the difficulty of representing the extraordinary complexity of clouds. Here, we show how the numbers and sizes of clouds, and their total amount, can be derived thermodynamically knowing just the atmospheric temperature and humidity profile.’

As usual an assumption of future warming is built-in, but we have to live with that approach even if we question it.

Take a look at the clouds, if there are any in your sky right now. Watch the billows, the white lofty tufts set against the blue sky. Or, depending on your weather, watch the soft grey edges smear together into blended tones that drag down through the air to the ground.

They’re an inspiration to most of us, but a nightmare for climate scientists. Clouds are exceptionally complex creatures, and that complexity makes it difficult to predict how and where they’ll form—which is unfortunate, since those predictions are essential to understanding precipitation patterns and how our climate will change in the future.

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energy-budget-fixed

Question: If I had a container, full with air, and I suddenly decreased the volume of the container, forcing the air into a smaller volume, will it be considered as compression, will it result in an increase in temperature, and why?

Answer on Stack Exchange by Luboš Motl: Yes, it is compression and yes, it will heat up the gas.

If there’s no heat exchange between the gas and the container (or the environment), we call it an adiabatic process. For an adiabatic process involving an ideal gas (which is a very good approximation for most common gases), pVγ is constant where γ is an exponent such as 5/3. Because the temperature is equal to T=pV/nR and pV/pVγ=V1−γ is a decreasing function of V, the temperature will increase when the volume decreases.

Macroscopically, the heating is inevitable because one needs to perform work p|dV| to do the compression, the energy has to be preserved, and the only place where it can go is the interior of the gas given by a formula similar to (3/2)nRT.

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An interesting contribution to the ice age debate here. Problems with Milankovitch and CO2-related theories are discussed.

Cha-am Jamal, Thailand

Gerald Marsh, retired Argonne National Laboratories Physicist, challenges the usual assumption that ice age cycles are initiated by Milankovich Cycles and driven by the Arrhenius effect of carbon dioxide. He says that the key variable here is “low altitude cloud cover” driven by cosmic rays. A paper worth reading.

ABSTRACT

  1. The existing understanding of interglacial periods is that they
    are initiated by Milankovitch cycles enhanced by rising atmospheric
    carbon dioxide concentrations. During interglacials, global temperature is
    also believed to be primarily controlled by carbon dioxide concentrations,
    modulated by internal processes such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation
    and the North Atlantic Oscillation. Recent work challenges the
    fundamental basis of these conceptions.
  2. INTRODUCTION
    The history of the role of carbon dioxide in climate begins with the work of Tyndall 1861 and later in 1896 by Arrhenius. The concept that carbon dioxide controlled climate fell into disfavor for a variety of reasons until…

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leak.smlThe hole in the ozone layer is now steadily closing, but its repair could actually increase warming in the southern hemisphere, according to scientists at the University of Leeds.

The Antarctic ozone hole was once regarded as one of the biggest environmental threats, but the discovery of a previously undiscovered feedback shows that it has instead helped to shield this region from carbon-induced warming over the past two decades.

High-speed winds in the area beneath the hole have led to the formation of brighter summertime clouds, which reflect more of the sun’s powerful rays.

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Is this how it works? [image credit: politics.ie]


An obvious problem with studies like this is that as soon as natural climate variation is invoked – to explain the lack of expected warming from so-called greenhouse gases – the argument that such gases could be a dominant factor in climate processes is then severely weakened to say the least. It is in effect an admission that such variations could cause warming as well as cooling. How long can a ‘hiatus’ last before it becomes the status quo?

Reinforcement of Climate Hiatus by Decadal Modulation of Daily Cloud Cycle
– By Jun Yin and Amilcare Porporato, Princeton University
H/T The GWPF

Based on observations and climate model results, it has been suggested that the recent slowdown of global warming trends (climate hiatus), which took place in the early 2000s, might be due to enhanced ocean heat uptake.

Here we suggest an alternative hypothesis which, at least in part, would relate such slowdown to unaccounted energy reflected or re-emitted by clouds.

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Uranus [image credit: NASA]


One of the two processes involved is “due to high-speed particles from outside the solar system, known as galactic cosmic rays, bombarding the atmosphere and influencing the formation of clouds”, reports Phys.org. If so, it looks like further evidence for the Svensmark hypothesis.

Changes in solar activity influence the colour and formation of clouds around the planet, researchers at Oxford and Reading universities found.

The icy planet is second furthest from the sun in the solar system and takes 84 Earth years to complete a full orbit – one Uranian year.

The researchers found that, once the planet’s long and strange seasons are taken into account, it appears brighter and dimmer over a cycle of 11 years. This is the regular cycle of solar activity which also affects sun spots.

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cr-atmos

Illustration of cosmic rays interacting with the atmosphere. A proton with energy of 100 GeV interact at the top of the atmosphere and produces a cascade of secondary particles who ionize molecules when traveling through the air. One 100 GeV proton hits every m2 at the top of the atmosphere every second.

H/T GWPF: Researchers have claimed a breakthrough in understanding how cosmic rays from supernovas react with the sun to form clouds, which impact the climate on Earth.

The findings have been described as the “missing link” to help resolve a decades long controversy that has big implications for climate science.

Lead author, Henrik Svensmark, from The Technical University of Denmark has long held that climate models had greatly underestimated the impact of solar activity.

He says the new research identified the feedback mechanism through which the sun’s impact on climate was varied.

Professor Svensmark’s theories on solar impact have caused a great deal of controversy within the climate science community and the latest findings are sure to provoke new outrage.

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Credit: Environment Canada


Whether this tells us anything about long-term climate trends is not clear, but worth a mention anyway. The report from Phys.org states: ‘Scientists said the smaller ozone hole extent in 2016 and 2017 is due to natural variability and not a signal of rapid healing’.

Measurements from satellites this year showed the hole in Earth’s ozone layer that forms over Antarctica each September was the smallest observed since 1988, scientists from NASA and NOAA announced today.

According to NASA, the ozone hole reached its peak extent on Sept. 11, covering an area about two and a half times the size of the United States – 7.6 million square miles in extent – and then declined through the remainder of September and into October.

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Credit: NASA

The report at Phys.org explains that “Even though the moon blocking the sun during a solar eclipse and clouds blocking sunlight to Earth’s surface are two different phenomena, both require similar mathematical calculations to accurately understand their effects.”

It was mid-afternoon, but it was dark in an area in Boulder, Colorado on Aug. 3, 1998. A thick cloud appeared overhead and dimmed the land below for more than 30 minutes. Well-calibrated radiometers showed that there were very low levels of light reaching the ground, sufficiently low that researchers decided to simulate this interesting event with computer models.

Now in 2017, inspired by the event in Boulder, NASA scientists will explore the moon’s eclipse of the sun to learn more about Earth’s energy system. On Aug. 21, 2017, scientists are looking to this year’s total solar eclipse passing across America to improve our modelling capabilities of Earth’s energy.

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Despite confessing to being ‘baffled by clouds’, climate science and its media followers are still prone to assertions like ‘as the world warms’ – as though it’s bound to do so indefinitely.

Though we see them every day, clouds remain such a mystery to scientists that they are inhibiting climate change predictions. But a new atlas could be a game changer, thinks DW.COM.

Nothing beats a lazy afternoon sitting on the grass and watching the clouds roll by. These white fluffy friends can feel like a constant and comforting presence in life. And since the dawn of air travel, as folk singer Joni Mitchell once sang, we’ve looked at clouds from both sides now.

But as Mitchell cautioned, somewhow we still don’t know clouds at all. Her words were true in 1969, and they are still true today.
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Credit: airbus.com

Credit: airbus.com


The observed radiation surges seem to occur ‘at relatively high latitudes, well above 50 degrees in both hemispheres’. They suspect certain magnetic phenomena could be at work. Korean researchers may have found something similar occurring at middle latitudes.

A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Space Weather reports the discovery of radiation “clouds” at aviation altitudes. When airplanes fly through these clouds, dose rates of cosmic radiation normally absorbed by air travelers can double or more, reports Spaceweather.com.

“We have flown radiation sensors onboard 264 research flights at altitudes as high as 17.3 km (56,700 ft) from 2013 to 2017,” says Kent Tobiska, lead author of the paper and PI of the NASA-supported program Automated Radiation Measurements for Aerospace Safety (ARMAS). “On at least six occasions, our sensors have recorded surges in ionizing radiation that we interpret as analogous to localized clouds.”
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Venus_atm
Sci News reports scientific findings that ‘winds, the water content, and the cloud composition – are somehow connected to the properties of Venus’ surface itself’.

Using data from ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft, European planetary researchers have shown how weather patterns seen in Venus’ cloud layers are directly linked to the topography of the surface below.

Venus is famously hot. The average temperature on the Venusian surface is 864 degrees Fahrenheit (462 degrees Celsius).

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James Marusek’s paper says: I propose two mechanisms primarily responsible for Little Ice Age climatic conditions. These two components are Cloud Theory and Wind Theory.

Thanks to Paul Homewood for bringing this to our attention.

[Click on ‘view original post’ below to find a link to the full paper].

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

image

James Marusek has sent me his latest paper, Little Ice Age Theory.

Excerpts below:

INTRODUCTION

The sun is undergoing a state change. It is possible that we may be at the cusp of the next Little Ice Age. For several centuries the relationship between periods of quiet sun and a prolonged brutal cold climate on Earth (referred to as Little Ice Ages) have been recognized. But the exact mechanisms behind this relationship have remained a mystery. We exist in an age of scientific enlightenment, equipped with modern tools to measure subtle changes with great precision. Therefore it is important to try and come to grips with these natural climatic drivers and mold the evolution of theories that describe the mechanisms behind Little Ice Ages.

The sun changes over time. There are decadal periods when the sun is very active magnetically, producing many sunspots. These periods are referred…

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sun-earth-moon

Using satellite data on how water moves around Earth, NASA scientists have solved two mysteries about wobbles in the planet’s rotation — one new and one more than a century old. The research may help improve our knowledge of past and future climate.

Although a desktop globe always spins smoothly around the axis running through its north and south poles, a real planet wobbles. Earth’s spin axis drifts slowly around the poles; the farthest away it has wobbled since observations began is 37 feet (12 meters). These wobbles don’t affect our daily life, but they must be taken into account to get accurate results from GPS, Earth-observing satellites and observatories on the ground.

In a paper published today in Science Advances, Surendra Adhikari and Erik Ivins of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, researched how the movement of water around the world contributes to Earth’s rotational wobbles. Earlier studies have pinpointed many connections between processes on Earth’s surface or interior and our planet’s wandering ways. For example, Earth’s mantle is still readjusting to the loss of ice on North America after the last ice age, and the reduced mass beneath that continent pulls the spin axis toward Canada at the rate of a few inches each year. But some motions are still puzzling.

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

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


Climate modellers know less about cloud formation than they thought they did, according to new research.

There is enough known about cloud formation that replicating its mechanism has become a staple of the school science project scene. But a new study by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) reveals that much more is going on at the microscopic level of cloud formation than previously thought.

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Cloud formation [image credit:NASA]

Cloud formation [image credit:NASA]


This extract from a Phys.org article looks at some of the difficulties climate models have with clouds, a subject the Talkshop featured recently. One scientist says: ‘A key problem is that we generally do not have data on clouds from the pre-industrial era, before there was pollution, for comparison with the clouds of today.’ Another good reason to use more caution over possible future climate trends, perhaps?

Cloudy complexity

Currently, when scientists use models to calculate the extent to which aerosols—through clouds—affect the earth’s climate, they get a much, much wider range and greater uncertainty than for greenhouse gases. Why?

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Send in the clouds [credit:NASA]

Send in the clouds [credit:NASA]


Adding cloud data to climate models must be long overdue if it’s considered to be a new technique. Scientists were surprised to find that doing so accounted for over half the strength of El Niños, as Phys.org reports:

A small team of researchers from the U.S., Australia and Germany has found evidence that suggests cloud formation may have a much bigger impact on weather patterns associated with El Niño events than has been thought.

In their paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the team describes they differences they found when they input cloud data into computer models that simulated weather patterns associated with El Niño events and why they now believe that all such models should include such data going forward.

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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.

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Using holography to better understand clouds

Posted: October 11, 2015 by oldbrew in Clouds, research, weather
Tags:

Cumulus thunderheads near Sao Paulo, Brazil [image credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute]

Cumulus thunderheads near Sao Paulo, Brazil [image credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute]


Another shortcoming of computer models used in climate science is exposed here, as SpaceDaily explains.

As clouds change shape, mixing occurs, as drier air mingles with water-saturated air. New research led by Michigan Technological University analyzes this mixing with a holographic imaging instrument called HOLODEC and an airborne laboratory.

The work was done in collaboration with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and Mainz University. This new way of seeing clouds – and the way wet and dry air form sharp boundaries – is the focus of the team’s study, published in Science this week.

What the team found with these naturally created boundaries, formed by completely evaporating some water drops and leaving others unscathed, is called inhomogenous mixing. And it goes against base assumptions used in most computer models for cloud formations. [bold added]

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