Warming by the Sun or by the Atmosphere ...?

Startet av Okular, desember 27, 2012, 22:05:12 PM

« forrige - neste »


Real-world climatic significance of 'the enhanced greenhouse effect' – a straightforward test toward potential falsification.

A surface with a temperature above 0 K would have an incoming and an outgoing heat flux – it would gain its heat from somewhere (incoming heat flux) and at the same time give off heat to its surroundings according to its thermodynamic state. This outgoing heat flux would be the heat loss of that surface.

The surface of the Earth is such a surface:

(From http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/EnergyBalance/page5.php.)

If the surface maintains thermodynamic equilibrium with its surroundings, the outgoing heat flux would balance the incoming exactly. And its temperature would remain constant.

To change the temperature of this surface, one thus has to do (at least) one of two things:
•   Increase the incoming heat flux – the heat gain, or
•   reduce the outgoing heat flux – the heat loss.

So, turning to Earth's surface, a 'body' holding a mean temperature of +15°C or 288K, and assuming it's in a state of thermodynamic equilibrium (this will of course never really be the case 100%), this means the surface temperature remains constant and the heat flux OUT equals the heat flux IN (from the Sun) – according to the new Stephens et al. 2012 study, ~165 W/m2.

The total mean heat loss flux from the global surface of our planet is acquired by summing the shares from latent heat transfer (through evaporation), sensible heat transfer (through conduction/convection) and net thermal radiation (net IR UP).

What, then, can we do to raise the surface temperature from this state of equilibrium?

As already mentioned, there are two ways and two ways only:
1)   We can increase the incoming heat (the heat gain), or
2)   we can reduce the outgoing heat (the heat loss).

These two are distinctly different methods by which to accomplish surface warming.

With 1) the surface is warmed directly – by increasing a heat flux (the incoming one). Extra heat is supplied.

With 2) the surface is warmed INdirectly – by reducing a heat flux (the outgoing one). No extra heat is supplied.

(In both cases the opposite flux is assumed to remain constant.)

This distinction is crucial.

The two distinct ways to achieve surface warming can be called:
1)   The Solar Method, and
2)   The Atmospheric Method.


Simply because of what the 2nd law of thermodynamics dictates. It says that heat (the net energy flow) between two warm objects in thermal contact will always go from the warmer to the cooler object, because a system like this will always spontaneously move toward the highest possible state of entropy, which in this case would be thermodynamic equilibrium (even temperature). In nature this process is irreversible.

This process described: "When two systems come into thermal contact, they exchange energy through the microscopic interactions of their particles. When the systems are at different temperatures, the result is a spontaneous net flow of energy from higher to lower temperature, so that the higher temperature decreases [through heat loss] and the lower increases [through heat gain]."

The Sun is warmer than the Earth's surface. Thus it CAN transfer heat to the surface. And it does. The NET FLOW OF ENERGY between the Sun and the Earth's surface will spontaneously go from the former to the latter. Always.

The atmosphere, on the other hand, is cooler than the Earth's surface. It can NOT transfer heat to the surface. And it doesn't. It will of course always and continuously transfer thermal ENERGY to the surface, simply because it has a temperature above 0 K. But it can never, on a global scale, transfer HEAT. The NET FLOW OF ENERGY between the atmosphere and the Earth's surface will spontaneously go from the latter to the former. Always.

As one can see, there are two strictly separate thermodynamic mechanisms at hand to explain surface warming.

And hence we have a way to determine how the observed global warming of the recent three and a half decades came about.

Through which of these two mechanisms was the global surface temperature raised?

This is important:

- The Sun can ONLY change (raise/lower) the surface temperature directly, that is
   by changing the net energy INput – heat gain.

- The atmosphere can ONLY change the surface temperature INdirectly, that is by
   changing the net energy OUTput – heat loss.

So, who is the culprit? The Sun or the Atmosphere?

We have two possible scenarios:

If the solar input increases, the Earth's surface will warm directly. That means the surface temperature will rise first. And THEN, as a response, the total heat loss from the surface will start increasing. To catch up. It will potentially increase until the heat gap is closed (heat IN + <--> heat OUT) and balance is restored.

If the atmospheric forcing is strenghtened, for instance by increasing the optical depth to surface IR radiation through a rising atmospheric content of GHGs, the Earth's surface will warm INdirectly. That means the total surface heat loss will be suppressed (reduced) first. And THEN, as a response, the surface temperature will start rising. And it will potentially rise until the heat gap is closed (heat IN <--> heat OUT –) and balance is restored.

You see the opposite course of events here?

The size of the heat gap and the time it takes to close it in each case will depend on the size and the rate of the change – how large is the change/divergence accomplished over how much time?

If the change is sudden and large, the closing process will take time. The imbalance will sustain for a considerable period.

If the change is small and gradual/incremental, the imbalance will hardly be observable, because the response mechanisms will have no problem keeping up with the continuous effort to open up the heat gap.

(From 'Earth's Climate Past and Future' (W.F. Ruddiman, 2000).)

Anyway, at this point I think you understand what we need to look for to determine where the observed global warming came from.

Returning to points a) and b) above:

With direct surface heating (the Sun) the situation looks like this – heat IN + <--> heat OUT. Then the total surface heat loss will have to increase FROM its original level to be able to balance the increased input.

With INdirect surface heating (the atmosphere) the situation looks like this – heat IN <--> heat OUT –. Then the total surface heat loss will have to increase back up TO its original level to be able to mend the reduced output.

(In both cases, the surface temperature will rise in the meantime.)

This leads us to the following realization:

The total heat loss (the heat/net energy flux OUT) from the Earth's surface during observed warming can, if:

The Sun is responsible for the warming, ONLY be observed to either remain constant/unchanged (if the increased forcing is very small and gradual) or to INCREASE.

And if:

The atmosphere is responsible for the warming, the total global surface heat loss can ONLY be observed to either remain constant/unchanged (if the increased forcing is very small and gradual) or to DECREASE.

Conversely, in the solar case, the total heat loss can NOT be observed to DECREASE during warming.

And, in the atmospheric case, the total heat loss can NOT be observed to INCREASE during warming.

So there you have it. The test.

Has the total global heat loss from the Earth's surface (latent heat transfer + sensible heat transfer + net IR) increased or decreased during the global warming period we've seen since the mid 70s?

Is the Sun or the atmosphere responsible?

Did the warming start at the surface or in the atmosphere?



The Clausius-Clapeyron equation describes the relationship between the temperature of a liquid and its vapor pressure: The higher the temperature, the greater the vapor pressure.

This could be restated in the following way: The higher the temperature of the liquid, the greater the evaporation from its surface. Water, for instance, has a vapor pressure at 373K of 1 atm. This means that at 100C, its vapor pressure exactly equals the atmospheric pressure at sea level and the water will start boiling – the upward pressure from the vapor being released from the water's surface at this point is as large as the constant downward pressure from (the weight of) the atmosphere above it. Water vapor will of course also be released from the water's surface long before it reaches this particular temperature. But the RATE of evaporation will always be related to the atmospheric pressure AND the temperature of the liquid – the rate of evaporation will be greater both if you increase the temperature AND if you lower the atmospheric pressure.

Clausius-Clapeyron also by extension says something about the amount of water vapor a certain parcel of air can hold at a specific temperature/pressure-configuration before it becomes saturated and the vapor starts condensing (dew).

Notice however, the operative word here is 'CAN', not 'MUST'. It is NOT the case that a volume of humid air at say sea level HAS TO contain so and so much water vapor at a certain temperature. It has the POTENTIAL of containing so and so much water vapor. But other factors regulate how much water vapor it REALLY contains.

There seems to be a great deal of confusion here.

People seem to think that as the atmosphere grows warmer, it will automatically 'suck' more water vapor out of the oceans, making this a positive feedback to the atmospheric warming. If this is NOT what they think, there really is no way to make head or tail of it all ...

This approach of course turns the causal relationships all on their head. The Clausius-Clapeyron equation clearly states that it's the LIQUID's temperature that matters. It is the LIQUID's temperature that decides how much vapor will be available.

In other words, it is the global sea surface temperatures that decide how much water vapor will be released into the troposphere, NOT the tropospheric temperature.

No, rather we have the following causal chain:

Rise in SST -> evaporation rate increases -> latent heat is transferred from the ocean to the troposphere, being released upon condensation -> rise in tropospheric temperature.

Evaporation from the ocean surface is a NEGATIVE feedback to ocean warming, not a POSITIVE feedback to tropospheric warming. In fact, the evaporation upon condensation is what CAUSES the warming of the troposphere in the first place – as a direct response to the original surface heating.

(From http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/oceanography-book/heatbudgets.htm.)

No, as one recalls, the ONLY means by which the atmosphere can bring about warming of the Earth's surface is by reducing and then limiting its total heat loss. If that heat loss were to increase past its original level (the rate of heat loss before the forcing started working), then that would put a stop to the atmospheric forcing mechanism – it would no longer work. Crossing this line would mean the surface would no longer be able to accumulate the constant heat coming in from the Sun by means of reduced/limited heat loss. It would start cooling again.

It's that easy. Plain and simple.

This means that 'an enhanced greenhouse effect' would work rather by restraining the rate of evaporation than by accelerating it.

Otherwise it simply would not work.


I had a look at the ERA Interim Reanalysis data (of the ECMWF) on the KNMI Climate Explorer regarding the four surface energy fluxes (net downward shortwave radiation (pos.), net outgoing longwave radiation (neg.), latent heat transfer (neg.) and sensible heat transfer (neg.)) from 1979 to 2012. And got some very interesting results. It turns out that of the three negative fluxes (regulating the rate and magnitude of heat loss from the surface) only the change in latent heat transfer really matters. Also, they've all grown more negative (more efficient in ridding the surface of heat, that is) globally during the modern warming. As one would expect.

The key seems to be in the latent heat transfer. Not (at all) in surface thermal radiation.

Here is net global surface solar radiation (SSR) from 1979 to 2012 (ERA Interim of the ECMWF – data downloaded from KNMI Climate Explorer):

Here are the other net global surface energy fluxes – sensible heat (green), thermal radiation (STR) (red) and latent heat (blue):

Subtracting the sum of the three outgoing net fluxes from the incoming net solar flux gives this net surface energy balance curve for the Earth as a whole from 1979 to 2012:

Robustly positive all along, yet still trending unmistakably downward and now finally getting pretty close to perfect balance – maybe withing 3-5 years we're there, crossing the line ... The mean imbalance between incoming and outgoing (1979-2012) is +7,22 W/m^2 (which sounds like a lot).

This is still according to the ECMWF of course.

Just out of curiosity I made a running total on the data behind the plot above. It came out like this:

So the funny thing is, even though all of Earth's net surface heat loss fluxes have steadily increased in strength/efficiency (becoming more negative) since 1979 (sensible heat by ~0.8 W/m^2, STR by 0.8-1 W/m^2 and latent heat by ~6 W/m^2, to a total of 7.6 – 7.8 W/m^2) and with the mean net solar input upon the global surface today pretty much equal to what it was in 1979, Earth has been accumulating a LOT of energy/heat. The global solar input has simply been larger the last 34 years than the output from Earth's surface, the heat loss processes working hard to catch up. And that's the funny bit. According to AGW theory, what would cause the energy imbalance is a DEcreasing of the total net upward heat flux from the surface. For instance, in a theoretical steady state, with solar IN (considered static) exactly balanced by IR+latent+sensible OUT, more GHGs would indirectly lessen the total heat flux from the surface, making it less negative (more positive) which would then create the observed positive imbalance. But this theoretical course of events is quite the opposite of what apparently actually happens in the real world. Here the IR flux, the sensible heat flux and the latent heat flux are all increasing as a function of surface temperature. Or should we say, as a function of the increasing difference/divergence between the surface temperature and that of the air layer directly above it. If the standard AGW hypothesis were right, the lapse rate should lift the mean temperature level off the ground with increasing concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere. That is to say, the incremental same-temperature levels would be situated gradually higher from the tropospheric mean emission height on down to the surface. This means that in the end, the layer of air just above the ground/sea would warm independently of the surface (a tiny bit) and would thereby in a snapshot reduce the temperature gradient between the air and the surface, reducing the total net heat flux from the ground/sea. For this to be the case, though, the temperature gap between the surface and the air layer adjacent to it must either be observed to DEcrease or to remain stable (they both warm in step). If this gap were rather observed to INcrease, this whole construct would crumble. Then the surface cannot be the follower. Then the surface is the driver. Which is what all common sense is telling us is the case. Look at these two graphs:

This is ICOADS SST vs. ICOADS Tair. The first graph covers a large chunk of the Pacific Ocean (30N-40S, 150E-100W). The second a significant part of the North Atlantic (62N-0, 60-15W). Watch how the SST trends are distinctively steeper than the Tair trends in both diagrams. How would an air layer colder than the surface and at the same time with a lower warming rate force the warming of the surface? It couldn't. And it doesn't. And it agrees with the ERA Interim Reanalysis data.

Finally, I did the same operation for the tropical Pacific fluxes as I did for the global ones. Here is the result, directly compared to the global (tropical Pacific (24N-24S, 120E-80W) (black), global (red)). From top to bottom – solar, sensible, IR and latent. Watch how much more positive the solar is in the Pacific and accordingly how much more negative the latent heat flux is. For the other two fluxes the difference seems inconsequential:


I'll refer to Dee et al. 2011, "The ERA-Interim reanalysis: configuration and performance of the data assimilation system" for a thorough discussion on the ERA Interim project. What comes plainly out when reading the document, is that the reanalysis model has overestimated the mean surface solar input:
SitatDue to a programming error in the calculation of incident solar radiation as a function of solar zenith angle, the global solar radiation in ERA-Interim is overestimated by about 2 W/m^2.

SitatFor solar irradiance, ERA-Interim uses a constant value of 1370 W/m^2 throughout, i.e. no account is taken of the solar cycle. Variations due to the varying distance between the Earth and the Sun are incorporated as described in Paltridge and Platt (1976).

According to the newest satellite estimates, the mean solar irradiance is ~1361.7 W/m^2 (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/14/total-solar-irradiation-tsi-value-lower-in-2008/). The range in total irradiance between high and low within each cycle is ~1 W/m^2 with PMOD and ~1.5 (1-2) W/m^2 with ACRIM.

Disregarding the solar cycle amplitudes won't affect the long term average (over several cycles). It will, however, affect the decadal variation. That means the graphs I've presented (based on ERA Interim) show less variation than reality. The 8.3 W/m^2 (1370-1361.7) difference between model assumption and real-world measurements is significant. It will probably overestimate the average energy input from the Sun at Earth's global surface by ~1 W/m^2 (1361.7/8,3 = 164 W/m^2).

Dee et al. continue:
SitatThe energy balance at the top of the atmosphere in ERA Interim has improved, with an estimated energy loss of 1.2 W/m^2 (7.4 W/m^2 for ERA 40). However, the energy balance at the surface boundary is poor in ERA Interim, with a global value of 6.9 W/m^2 (3.8 W/m^2 for ERA 40). This degradation occurs primarily over oceans and is associated with an increase in net solar radiation there. Over land the surface energy balance actually improves in ERA Interim, to 0.5 W/m^2 (1.3 W/m^2 for ERA 40).

Källberg (2011) suggests that the model clouds are the major contributor to the imbalance in surface energy, based on a correspondence between spin-up/spin-down of cloudiness and of the net energy fluxes.

My own calculated mean value for the global energy balance (1979-2012) turned out to be +7.22 W/m^2. Dee et al. finds a +6.9 W/m^2 imbalance (1979-2010).

Based on the quotes above it seems justified adjusting the ERA Interim solar input down by 2+1= 3 W/m^2. This would reduce the global net energy imbalance 1979-2012 to 4,22 W/m^2 (second graph below), which actually sounds AND looks much more plausible than the original +7,22 (first graph below):

Note how in the lower graph (the 'new and improved' +4,22 one) we're already very close to perfect balance and have been so for a few years, quite on the verge of crossing the line into negative territory.

Here are the running totals (accumulated energy) for the +7,22 and the +4,22 scenarios:

We're obviously at the summit plateau.

What's very interesting to observe, is how the evolution in Earth's energy balance seems to follow the same pattern as ENSO East (NINO3.4) does. One might imagine an oceanic equilibrium line, across which the Earth system fluctuates in giant cycles. Below the equilibrium line the ocean's heat loss is on average greater than the input from the Sun. There is a net loss of energy content. Above the equilibrium line the situation is reversed. There is a net builup of energy content. The main regulating mechanism seems to be the rate of evaporation from the ocean surface.

From the 70s to the 80s this equilibrium line was somehow crossed. The Earth system shifted from a negative to a positive balance. And here's the take-home message: After the shift is completed, the trend starts falling at once, on its way back towards the equilibrium line. The initial divergence is gradually and steadily reduced. But the positive energy imbalance is still there all along. Energy is accumulating in the system, only at a slowing rate until it finally reaches zero. We're very close now to that point.

Compare this to the MEI curve. What do we see?

A mighty upward shift in 1976/77. Before this, the curve is generally running below the zero line. After, the curve is generally above. But what about the trend? It starts falling directly from 1977 onwards. It's basically negative all the way 'till today. Yet the world has become warmer and warmer during this same period. Since a few years back now the MEI/NINO3.4 curve fluctuates around the zero line, straddling the border between El Niño and La Niña dominance.



E.M. Smith - Tropopause Rules

I find it peculiar that everyone is so taken in by the whole notion of the so-called 'radiative greenhouse effect' being such an ingrained necessity, such a self-evident, requisite part, as it were, of our atmosphere's inner workings. The 'truth' and the 'reality' of the effect is completely taken for granted, a priori. And yet, the actual effect is still only a theoretical construct.

In fact, when looking at the real Earth system, it's quite evident that this effect is not what's setting the surface temperature of our planet.

The whole thing is actually pretty obvious.

The Earth, a rocky sphere at a distance from the Sun of ~149.6 million kilometers, where the Solar irradiance comes in at 1361.7 W/m2, with a mean global albedo, mostly from clouds, of 0.3 and with an atmosphere surrounding it containing a gaseous mass held in place by the planet's gravity, producing a surface pressure of ~1013 mb, with an ocean of H2O covering 71% of its surface and with a rotation time around its own axis of ~24h, boasts an average global surface temperature of +15°C (288K).

Why this specific temperature? Because, with an atmosphere weighing down upon us with the particular pressure that ours exerts, this is the temperature level the surface has to reach and stay at for the global convectional engine to be able to pull enough heat away fast enough from it to be able to balance the particular averaged out energy input from the Sun that we experience.

It's that simple.

The higher the net energy input at the surface, the higher the potential surface temperature and the more powerful the convection – the higher the tropopause is located (pushed). This is all intimately connected and readily observable – compare the tropics with the polar regions.

The convectional engine simply transports the heat generated by the Sun at the surface up into the atmosphere as far as gravity allows. From above this level the heat will then be freely radiated back out into space.

This level is the border between the troposphere and the stratosphere. In the first one, convection reigns supreme. In the second, above the convection top (set by the surface atmospheric pressure, gravity and net energy input/heat), radiation takes over. Radiation does of course work all the way from the surface to space. But in the troposphere it's just there – a second order heat transport mechanism in the midst of all the latent and sensible heat transport lifting the surface heat up and away from the ground to maintain balance.

There simply is no way radiation can ever control what's going on temperaturewise at the surface, nor at the tropopause or anywhere in between. This can only occur where there is no convection – above the tropopause.

The surface is directly convectively coupled to the atmosphere above it. The atmosphere is warmed mainly by surface processes, primarily through latent and sensible heat transfer (deep convection). This is the 'blanket effect' of the atmosphere. It insulates the surface simply by being warm. And by weighing down upon it, restricting evaporation and convection.

The dayside of the Earth receives vast amounts of solar energy, much more than it needs to reach 'actual' daytime temperatures. The excess energy, mainly in the tropics, goes into driving the atmospheric circulation (through convection), bringing part of the heat north and south ... and to the nightside. That's why the Earth has much cooler days and much milder nights than the Moon – the constant spreading around of received heat. The atmosphere in this way simply evens out the temperature highs and lows and as a consequence raises the mean surface temperature of the Earth compared to that of the Moon.

The Sun manages perfectly well to heat the surface of the Earth to the +15°C that we experience.

The whole 255K (–18°C) warming from the Sun is a total illusion. This is the simple point that Joe Postma is making. I find it hard to grasp why people are so against his realistic model and so clinging on to the unnatural notion of the evened out solar input. There simply is no need or room for any 'extra' atmospheric heating. That is, beyond the fact that it's there, having a mass and a heat capacity, being warmed by and convectively (and hence, by temperature gradient) bound to the surface.

=== === ===

Ok. Examining the observational data from the real world, then, is there any specific AGW signal in the global (or regional) temperature record of the Earth during the modern warming era?

Or is something else, a naturally occurring phenomenon, pulling the strings ...?


The evolution of global SSTA since 1981/82


Bob Tisdale's version of the ENSO argument is pretty straightforward. It is NOT based on some foregone conclusion about the cause of global warming. It is a direct result of an inevitable conclusion arrived at AFTER looking at the real-world observational data at hand, an explanation derived from what we actually see happening in the Earth system as time passes, AND on what we know about the ENSO process and how it is observed to work, both in the Pacific and globally, rather than from a theoretical construct of assumed physical net effects on the complex planetary climate system as a whole.

The argument follows the scientific method thus: I (or Bob) start out by observing a curious and, quite frankly, striking similarity between the NINO3.4 and the global SSTA curves over the last 30+ years (well, even much further back than this, but Tisdale's argument was always mainly based on data from the satellite era). This is certainly no new discovery. I think we can all agree on that the primary global temperature swings up and down, the large short-term variations in global temperature, are driven by the ENSO's mighty oceanic fluctuations in the East Pacific (where the NINO3.4 resides) and their worldwide impact being propagated partly by ocean currents, partly by atmospheric teleconnections. The global temperature goes up when NINO3.4 goes up (El Niño). And the global temperature goes down when the NINO3.4 goes down (La Niña).

What happens then if we 'detrend' the global SSTA since 1981 and scale it against the NINO3.4? That is, we take away the obvious upward trend in the global to see how close the fit with NINO really is. This is only out of curiosity. Scientific curiosity. No one is yet suggesting or claiming anything. We just want to take a closer look at how the different data relates to one another.

Here is the result:

Quite an astounding fit. And it will surprise no one. We know why the fit is so good. You will notice the global imprints in 1982-83/84 of the El Chichón eruption and especially in the wake of the powerful Pinatubo eruption, ~1992-95. Other than that you will see some 'extra' global heat (extra, that is, relative to a 'normal' (proportional) global response to the NINO signal) piling up during the first directly following La Niña year after a few of the El Niño's along the composite plot. But this extra heat always seems to be dissipated again shortly after this first following La Niña - the global soon after back on level with NINO.

So far, so good. What's next? Yup, that significant global upward trend that I got rid of. It's there, after all. But where does it come from? How do we follow its progression? Where do we look? What do we look for?

I will let you in on a little secret. When I 'detrended' the global SSTA curve in the graph above, I didn't use a statistical tool to remove a general upward trend. All I did was pull it down at two (2) short sections: two datapoints in the last half of 1987 (July and November) and one datapoint in the beginning of 1999 (January). Why those two intervals specifically? This will become apparent as we move along (in Part 2). Bear this in mind ...

There is another way of showing the exact same thing, only WITHOUT removing the long term trend from the global SSTA:

(The NINO3.4 is here alligned with the global curve between 1981 and 1987/88.)

(The NINO3.4 is here alligned with the global curve between 1988 and 1997/98.)

(The NINO3.4 is here alligned with the global curve between 1998 and 2012.)

Here is a more detailed look at the last 'level', the stretch since 1996, without volcanic impact, across the global upward shift occuring through 1998, and all the way down past the El Niño of 2009/10 and the following La Niña 2010/11:

(The two red squares mark the conspicuous piling up of extra heat globally during the transitions between the particular ENSO events of El Niño 1997/98 and La Niña 1998/99 and El Niño 2009/10 and La Niña 2010/11. The first is followed by a raised global level in mean SSTA relative to the NINO3.4 curve. The second one isn't. At least, not yet.)

What can we conclude from all this? Not much as of yet. Except this: Global SSTA follow and mimic the major up and down temperature swings (El Niños and La Niñas) of the East Tropical Pacific on interannual time scales. AND, they also seem to follow the TREND in NINO3.4 rather slavishly over the last 31 years, that is, barring two (2) specific instances of marked and sudden global upward shifts relative to NINO.

That is, along virtually the entire record there is no need for an explanation of the evolution of the global curve besides the well-known relationship between it and the East Tropical Pacific - the already mentioned short-term variations, the primary ups and downs. Here there simply is no extra global warming trend outside of this close relationship, no increasing divergence between the two.

But then there are the upward shifts. The only places where the global curve diverge permanently from the NINO curve. There are only (and by that I mean ONLY) two cases between 1981 and 2012 where the extra heat piled up globally after an El Niño and during the transition to the first following La Niña is never fully made up for before the ENSO pendulum turns and the heat comes in again, both in the NINO3.4 region and globally. This is during and after the second and final peak of the 1986/87/88 El Niño, on the NINO way down towards the bottom of the very deep La Niña of 1988/89, and during and especially after the peak of the 1997/98 El Niño, on the NINO way down towards the bottom of the deep La Niña of 1998/99.

This can be illustrated like this:

(Bear with me on the Norwegian labelling. 'Trinn' is simply 'Level'. 'Ekstra varme globalt' means 'Extra heat globally'. Notice that here the pink curve is NINO3.4 and the black one is the global.)

Just give this a moment's thought. All we're doing is looking at the data. I'm just stating what the data at hand is telling us. There simply IS no steadily increasing divergence between NINO3.4 and global SSTA between late 1981 and late summer/early autumn of 2012. The ENTIRE global rise above the NINO3.4 occurs at two specific instances. Not at any other time.

In my world, then these two 'specific instances' are the ones up for closer inspection. THEY need an explanation. Not the rest of the graph. We've found something interesting at specific points in the data record and we want to check them out a bit more closely.

We follow the scientific method and ask ourselves:

How do these sudden and marked global upward shifts come to be? Seeing how extremely influential the ENSO processes are on the regular global temperature amplitudes, it would be a strange scientific approach to all of a sudden exclude ENSO from any further involvement in the ensuing investigation, as a possible factor also in the distinct upward shifts. By all means, it hasn't yet been shown to be the case. But it would be wise to at least follow that lead. To see if something out of the ordinary might have occured in those two particular cases.


The evolution of global SSTA since 1981/82


We continue to explore the satellite-based SST data from Reynolds OI.v2 (Nov'81-Oct'12) and see what patterns it might reveal.

This graph, global SSTA:

is the area weighted sum of the two following subsets:

(left: The World Ocean Outside the East Pacific - 90N-90S, 80W-180E; 2/3rds of the global ocean
right: The East Pacific Ocean - 90N-90S, 180-80W; 1/3rd of the global ocean)

It was when looking at these two SSTA graphs, together producing the global graph above, that Tisdale had his eureka moment.

If we superimpose the two global subset graphs above on each other, we see quite clearly specifically where the discrepancy between the East Pacific and the global SSTA curve (recalling Part 1) primarily arises:

The NINO3.4 region is located in the East Pacific Ocean. Its signal totally dominates the SSTA evolution of that basin. According to the graph above, there is no upward trend in SSTA in the East Pacific Ocean since at least 1981. That's 1/3rd of the global ocean. Look at this map (from GISTEMP):

It shows the global distribution of temperature change between 1982 and 2011. Please disregard the continental parts at this point. The oceanic change (its size and distribution) is calculated using Reynolds OI.v2. I've defined the East Pacific Ocean (65N-60S, 180-80W) and the NINO3.4 region (5N-5S, 170-120W), the latter making up ~5,7% (!) of the former.

There's a distinct pattern manifesting itself here. Peculiarly, the West Pacific is one of two sectors of the world ocean (the other being the North Atlantic) displaying a particularly large positive change over the period in question. It has experienced a pronounced warming. And this even while sitting just next to (and being intimately oceanically linked to) the one major region of the world ocean that hasn't warmed at all. In fact, barring those two sub- to extratropical warm tongues coming in from the West Pacific, the East Pacific Ocean (and specifically the equatorial NINO3.4 region) has actually cooled since 1982.

This striking contrast between two neighboring, tightly interconnected sectors of the same ocean basin alone should tell us something.

What is going on?

Let's get back to the SSTA graph for the world ocean outside the East Pacific:

A staircase if ever there was one. This is how the change in SSTs outside the East Pacific in the GISTEMP map above actually progressed through time. If we were to draw a straight trendline from 1981/82 to 2011/12, we would only see the total upward change. We would miss (obscure) all that which happened in between, what led to that total, how (and specifically at what times) the change in temperature took place.

Blessed with a natural scientific curiosity, we're of course interested in the how and when. We want to investigate the total change a bit closer.

There are two definite upward shifts to be found along the curve above - one in 1987-88 and one in 1998-99. Do these years sound familiar in any way? In addition, there's one, albeit much smaller, in 2010. Outside of these two (three) pretty eye-catching sudden thrusts, there is no traceable upward trend in the dataset. If anything, there's a hint of the opposite. The entire rise in SST for this vast region from 1981/82 to 2011/12 is to be found in these two (three) particular instances of abrupt elevation of the mean level of anomalies. Without these instances, no general warming. Note how the specific shift events (particularly the first two) put all other up and down fluctuations along the curve to shame. They shoot up like towering pinnacles at the front of each new step.

I've adapted the graph to visualize the steps:

The red squares down by the x axis denote the great El Niños that directly preceded the shifts: The double Niño of 1986/87/88, the Super-El Niño of 1997/98 and the globally influential Niño 2009/10 (I have also included the giant El Niño of 1982/83, almost as powerful as the 1997/98 event, but noticeably suppressed globally by the El Chichón eruption).

Ok. We've now looked at how the SSTA evolved in the world ocean outside the East Pacific through time. It basically all happened in two (three) sudden upward shifts, one in 1987-88 and one through 1998 (+ the minor (and still unresolved) one in 2010).

Now let's look at how it evolved spatially.

We split the world ocean into 7 sectors:

(Sector 1: East Pacific Ocean (65N-60S, 180-80W); Sector 2: West Pacific/East Indian Ocean (65N-60S, 80-180E); Sector 3: North Atlantic Ocean (65N-0, 80W-20E); Sector 4: West Indian Ocean (65N-60S, 20-80E); Sector 5: South Atlantic Ocean (0-60S, 80W-20E); Sector 6: Arctic Ocean (90-65N); Sector 7: Southern Ocean (60-90S). The black rectangle in Sector 1 is the NINO3.4 region. The two black ellipses in Sector 2 mark different definitions of the West Pacific Warm Pool (WPWP). Nevermind those for now.)

If we area weight the SSTA data for each of these sectors against each other, we come out with something like this:

This shows the absolute influence each separate sector has on the final global SSTA graph shown at the top of this post.

It is quite revealing. The Pacific reigns supreme. Not really big news. But still.

There is something in particular one should note about these graphs. The (NINO) amplitudes of the East Pacific completely overwhelm the amplitudes of all other sectors of the world ocean. No wonder the global graph looks so similar to the East Pacific one, the main difference being the trend. The East Pacific (Sector 1) temperature swings also dwarf those of the West Pacific/East Indian Ocean (Sector 2). Only at two points along the Sector 2 curve above there's a rise that is (nearly) comparable to the amplitudes of Sector 1. These two instances occur in 1987-88 and in 1998-99. Those dates are getting familiar.

But why is the SSTA evolution of the East Pacific (Sector 1) and the West Pacific/East Indian (Sector 2) so different from one another?

To understand this, one has to understand how the ENSO process works. More on that in Part 3.

But first (and rounding off Part 2) let me show you something. What happens if we add the area weighted SSTA data from the other basins outside the East Pacific to the SSTA curve of the West Pacific/East Indian? That is, Sector 2 +3+4+5+6 and 7.

This is what happens:

(The lower graph, the blue one, is Sector 2 (West Pacific/East Indian Ocean). The middle graph, the orange one, is Sector 2+3 (The North Atlantic). The upper graph, the pale blue one, is the world ocean outside the East Pacific (65N-60S).)

Watch how the upward shifts and the steps are simply consolidated going from Sector 2 (West Pacific/East Indian) to global outside Sector 1 (East Pacific).


Most all of the data used and plotted here on this thread is acquired from the KNMI Climate Explorer site.


Sabla bra saker, Okular. Ikke så rent lite arbeide dette. Skal se hva jeg får gjort angående å få presentert dette annet steds de neste dagene.
Ja heldigvis flere der ser galskapen; men stadig alt for få.
Dertil kommer desværre de der ikke vil se, hva de ser.



Dette ser helt supert ut Okular. Jeg har riktignok bare diagonallest dette, men dette må være godis for mange. Og Jostemikk, Die kalte Sonne kan være et sted, NoTricksZone et annet. Postman Pat må skaffe seg større og kraftigere bil. Diesel, automat!     :)


Tim Channon la akkurat ut denne saken:

The Talkshop - Interesting thoughts at Klimaforskning

Talkshop contributor Jostemikk linked in Suggestions to Klimaforskning (a Simple Machines based Forum) where astute work is being done on climate problems.

Several of the recent threads there very properly look at the complex regime of climate data, cause and effect with their lead/lag, the way to sort out chicken or egg.

Real-world climatic significance of 'the enhanced greenhouse effect' – a straightforward test toward potential falsification.

There is more there in a similar vein.
Ja heldigvis flere der ser galskapen; men stadig alt for få.
Dertil kommer desværre de der ikke vil se, hva de ser.



Så flott at Tallbloke tok det inn - og at du gjorde ham oppmerksom på det :)
Da blir det spennende å følge kommentarene. Jeg håper noen fatter virkelig interesse for det, og kan gi Okular tilbakemeldinger.
Noen ganger er løgnen for stor til at man kan få øye på den.
Og når man ikke kan se at det er en løgn, velger man naturlig å tro på den.


Sitat fra: Jostemikk på desember 31, 2012, 20:24:47 PM
Tim Channon la akkurat ut denne saken:

The Talkshop - Interesting thoughts at Klimaforskning

Talkshop contributor Jostemikk linked in Suggestions to Klimaforskning (a Simple Machines based Forum) where astute work is being done on climate problems.

Several of the recent threads there very properly look at the complex regime of climate data, cause and effect with their lead/lag, the way to sort out chicken or egg.

Real-world climatic significance of 'the enhanced greenhouse effect' – a straightforward test toward potential falsification.

There is more there in a similar vein.

Jostemikk, du skal ha stor takk :D

Ja, har sett den. Skal prøve å få inn et par kommentarer der. For å få fram budskapet. Ser allerede at man flisespikker på detaljer, noe som fort avleder oppmerksomheten fra hva tråden jo egentlig handler om. Men Stephen Wilde har noen interessante tanker om viktigheten av densitet (hans idé om 'the adiabatic loop').

Har også sett at tråden her er linket til i en kommentar under Spencers siste post.

Sitter og samler sammen til en mail som skal sendes til han + et par, tre til i samme bransje. Så får man se om man får noen respons.


Det er en som har linket til saken din hos Chiefio også. Alt i alt dundret det i vei med 500 nye sidevisninger på et blunk. Har aldri sett en tråd bli lest så mye så raskt her på forumet.

Flott du fikk tid til å svare hos Tallbloke. Har en sterk mistanke om at de fleste nok ikke er helt på det rene med hva de har lest. Unntakene er de som forsøker å spore av, samt de som sier takk og legger ut linker på andre blogger. Problemet med dette er at disse linkene og positive kommentarene ikke fører til den debatten som må til for å hause saken opp slik at den virkelig blir lagt merke til.
Ja heldigvis flere der ser galskapen; men stadig alt for få.
Dertil kommer desværre de der ikke vil se, hva de ser.



Sitat fra: Jostemikk på januar 02, 2013, 22:38:05 PM
Det er en som har linket til saken din hos Chiefio også. Alt i alt dundret det i vei med 500 nye sidevisninger på et blunk. Har aldri sett en tråd bli lest så mye så raskt her på forumet.

Flott du fikk tid til å svare hos Tallbloke. Har en sterk mistanke om at de fleste nok ikke er helt på det rene med hva de har lest. Unntakene er de som forsøker å spore av, samt de som sier takk og legger ut linker på andre blogger. Problemet med dette er at disse linkene og positive kommentarene ikke fører til den debatten som må til for å hause saken opp slik at den virkelig blir lagt merke til.

Er enig i det du sier her, Jostemikk. Det beste hadde vært og fått et eget postinnlegg på en av disse bloggene, slik at argumentet hadde kunnet bli mer spisset enn det framstår nå. Og/eller at en av disse jeg tenker å maile til en av dagene nå bringer det fram i lyset.

Jeg har ellers prøvd å finne en tilsvarende 'Suggestions'-boks hos JoNova, men uten hell.

Noen idé? Vet jo at Frank Lansner har hatt poster der. Kan jo selvfølgelig bare sende henne en mail ...