Archive for the ‘Clouds’ Category

NLCs Setting Records

Posted: July 23, 2021 by oldbrew in atmosphere, Clouds, research, solar system dynamics

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NASA’s AIM Mission Overview says: ‘The primary goal of the mission is to determine why these night-shining clouds form. They are of special interest to scientists because the increased occurrence may be related to climate change.’ But it admits they’re ‘mysterious clouds’.
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Spaceweather.com

July 21, 2021: Noctilucent cloud (NLC) season is now 8 weeks old. This animation from NASA’s AIM spacecraft shows everything that has happened since the first clouds appeared in late May:

The last frame says it all: Noctilucent clouds are still bright and abundant. In fact, at the highest latitudes they are setting records.

“We’re seeing more clouds at 80°N than in any other year since AIM was launched,” says Cora Randall of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Research. “Cloud frequencies at 80°N are around 85%, whereas it’s more typical to see frequencies of about 75%.” (‘Frequencies’ are a measure of patchiness. 100% is complete coverage; 0% is no clouds at all.)

“This morning, I watched a fantastic display, the best of the year so far ,” reports Marek Nikodem, who photographed the clouds from Szubin, Poland (53°N) on July 21st:

“It’s not the end of…

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The obvious question being – why?

Spaceweather.com

June 3, 2021: No it’s not your imagination. Noctilucent cloud (NLC) season really is getting longer. New data from NASA’s AIM spacecraft show the first NLCs of summer have been trending earlier since the spacecraft was launched in 2007. This plot prepared by Cora Randall of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics shows the change:

Each little blue box shows the day of year when AIM’s CIPS sensor detected the first NLC of northern summer. “The season appears to be starting earlier, which is making it longer by about 5 days,” says Randall.

Interestingly, the season is not also ending later; it still stops in August. Nevertheless, the early start is giving sky watchers an extra 5 days a year of noctilucent clouds.

The first NLCs of the season typically appear inside the Arctic Circle. Then, they spin outward to lower latitudes–a process which is…

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Quote: ‘Pro tip for northern sky watchers: Look west 30+ minutes after sunset.’

Spaceweather.com

May 27, 2021: Something unusual is happening at the top of Earth’s atmosphere. Noctilucent clouds (NLCs) are forming, and people are seeing them from the ground even though it is only May. Andy Stables sends this photo from the Isle of Skye, Scotland, taken May 26th:

The electric-blue ripples “were clearly visible to the unaided eye,” says Stables. “This is the earliest I have ever seen them here in Scotland.”

NLCs are Earth’s highest clouds. Seeded by meteoroids, they float at the edge of space about 83 km above the ground. The clouds form when summertime wisps of water vapor rise up to the mesosphere, allowing water to crystallize around specks of meteor smoke. The season for bright naked-eye NLCs typically stretches from June through August.

This year NLCs are getting an early start. We’ve already received multiple reports of sightings in Europe from latitudes as low as…

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Anvil_Cloud

Anvil of a thundercloud over Columbia [image credit: Eulenjäger @ Wikipedia]

But that’s not the whole story. It seems from long-term data ‘that these super-cold thunderstorms may be increasing in frequency. There have been as many such events across the globe in the past three years as there were in the 13 years before that.’ Could this be in some way related to the big decline in sunspot activity over the last two solar cycles?
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We’ve all seen those majestic anvil storm clouds that form on a hot summer’s day, but what do you think is the temperature right at the very top? – asks BBC News.

It’s very cold, obviously; at high altitude it is well below freezing.

But would you be surprised to learn it is sometimes below even -100C?

Indeed, scientists have just published research showing the top of one tropical storm cloud system in 2018 reached -111C. This is very likely a record low temperature.

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Cloud formation [image credit:NASA]


‘Challenges’ is a polite way of putting it. Is the alleged human-caused climate problem really more of a human-caused climate models problem?
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Increased reflection of incoming sunlight by clouds led one current-generation climate model to predict unrealistically cold temperatures during the last ice age [Source: Geophysical Research Letters].

Key to the usefulness of climate models as tools for both scientists and policymakers is the models’ ability to connect changes in atmospheric greenhouse gas levels to corresponding shifts in temperature, says Eos.

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Ned Nikolov, Ph.D. Has written to me with news of the presentations he made at this years AMS meeting. It’s vital we get people to understand the implications of the discoveries he and Karl Zeller have made. With our western governments jumping aboard the ‘Green New Deal’ and ‘NetZero’ bandwagons, we will need to work hard to rise awareness of viable alternative hypotheses for ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ which better explain the phenomena we can measure around us. Ned and Karl’s work should be given proper attention, because it strives for universality and general application of physics solar system wide, rather then treating Earth as a ‘special case’.

Two studies presented at the American Meteorological Society’s 34th Conference on Climate Variability and Change in January 2021 employed a novel approach to identify the forcing of Earth’s climate at various time scales. The new method, never attempted in climate science before, relies on the fundamental premise that the laws of nature are invariant across spacetime.

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Another pillar of ‘settled’ climate science trembles. It’s described as ‘one of the largest uncertainties faced by climate scientists.’ Is there a list of these uncertainties somewhere?
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The impact of atmospheric aerosols on clouds and climate may be different than previously thought, reports Phys.org.

That is the conclusion of cloud researcher Franziska Glassmeier from TU Delft. The results of her study will be published in Science on Friday, January 29th.

Cloud decks cover vast stretches of the subtropical oceans. They cool the planet because they reflect incoming sunlight back to space.

Air pollution in the form of aerosols—particles suspended in the atmosphere—can increase this cooling effect because it makes clouds brighter.

The cooling effect of pollution offsets part of the warming effect of greenhouse gases. How much exactly, is one of the largest uncertainties faced by climate scientists.

Ship tracks

A striking illustration of clouds becoming brighter as a result of aerosols, is provided by shipping emissions in the form of “ship tracks.” These are visible as bright lines within a cloud deck that reveal the paths of polluting ships that travel beneath the clouds.

“Such ship tracks are a good example of how aerosol effects on clouds are traditionally thought of, and of how they are still represented in most climate models,” says Glassmeier.

But according to the cloud researcher, ship tracks do not tell the whole story.

Continued here.

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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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