What does precipitation say about heat flow?

I started with that simple question: “What does precipitation say about heat flow?” and it’s lead me to several points. The idea of a Heat Pipe Earth where we function as a pulsating heat pipe. The point that ignoring humidity causes averaging temperatures to be silly, at best. And more.

The latest incarnation is a bit more complex. It started from a smaller muse / question about California vs Florida.

In Florida, there are daily rains during the warm months. Winter not so much. In California there are cold rains in winter, summer not so much. Why are they inverted? What causes Florida to rain in summer, California not?

After a long bit of pondering, I think I ‘Have Clue’, but it’s a fairly complicated clue; and along the way other interesting patterns were seen, but only indirectly related to the California / Florida question. So this posting will have a mix of things in it. A bit more jumbled than most, but I think “they all go together when they go”. So expect things to be a bit ‘spread out’…

Where does it rain?

For major storms, we can look at the storm tracks:

Tropical Cyclone tracks

Tropical Cyclone tracks

Original Image

That gives us the ‘tropical’ part, but not the cold storms of the North Pacific that give California rain. Still, looking at that graphic can be instructive.

First off, the tropical storms don’t stay on the equator very well. They form, and spin off to one side or the other. Tracks lead away from the equator. For some reason, the equator is dominated by forces that are not conducive to a ‘spin up’ of a major cyclone, and once a storm forms, it gets pulled toward the poles.

Next up, it’s pretty clear that they form over water and die over land. Warm tropical water is needed. But what about those two holes in the tropical south Atlantic and Pacific near South America? Well, IMHO, that’s due to the circumpolar current getting shot into the Drake Passage that then sends a cold current up the coast of South America and sends a jet of cold water out into the South Atlantic. Both keep temperatures too low for a good cyclone to feed. I think we also see the Humbolt Current cooling the central Pacific too (graph in that Drake Passage link). I don’t know if that, alone, is enough to account for the lack of cyclones in the equator band, or if it just contributes to a more complex solution, but we can observe the effect. Tropical storms form over the more stable warm water pools. Nowhere else.

Sea Surface Temperatures

Sea Surface Temperatures

Original Image from this link with a whole host of other choices at:


Comparing those two charts is instructive. We don’t get ‘Tropical Storms’ in the south Atlantic and Pacific near South America due to two cold ‘bubbles’ that push up that way. We get more ‘Tropical Storms’ in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern Hemisphere due to the S.H. water being colder all over and much closer to the equator. In parts of the N. Hemisphere we get fewer ‘Tropical Storms’ than expected (i.e. Indian Ocean) due to the land protruding too far into the storm areas and shoving up against the equatorial exclusion area, dampening the cyclones before they can get as numerous and large as in the large expanses of the Pacific. Basically, hot water makes cyclones. More hot water, more cyclones. Colder water, or more land, less cyclones.

Is there anything we can say about the total quantity of cyclones and what they might be saying out our temperature trends in the ocean? Do we count ‘number’ or ‘size’ or what? Well, total energy in cyclones is likely the best proxy for ‘heat flow’, and that has been measured / calculated.


down in comments from Berényi Péter there is a link to a rather interesting graph:


Global Running ACE

Global Running ACE

This comes from Global Tropical Cyclone Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) according to Dr. Ryan N. Maue at the Florida State University per the link.

A casual inspection seems to pretty much say it matches what we know of temperature / warming history. It was cold in the ’70s and ACE was low. It was warm in the ’90s and ACE was high. It’s now cold again, and ACE is back in the dumper. It also looks like it follows the pattern of sunspots and solar activity too.

All well and good. But what does that MEAN.

It means that when the earth warms up, it makes a bunch of cyclones that dump the heat to space in a giant hurry and then we end up cooled off and back where we started. The heat does not hang around. It powers a giant heat pump that shoves it to the stratosphere and out into space. The added energy from a hotter sun in the 1990s with a very high sunspot cycle got neatly picked up and dumped via more cyclones. Now that the sun has gone all sleepy, the cyclones are backing off. No fuel, no pumping and dumping.

Yes, I think it’s that simple. There is no ‘heat in the pipeline’ and there is no ‘heat storage’ to speak of (in excess of equilibrium with the then current solar state). It’s ‘done and gone’ rapidly in fairly quick link with solar variation. (Yes, I think there is room from some PDO / AMO cycling, though that will mostly impact 60 year land temperature cycles. I’d wager, if we had enough data, we’d find that more heat on all those land dominated northern hemisphere thermometers would be offset by lower south Pacific ocean temperatures. I’ve seen hints of that in the limited data we do have; where there was a counter cycle in some of the Antarctic data just out of sync with the N. Hemisphere data…) At any rate, I suspect that any ‘oscillations’ need to be corrected for the geographic bias of where we measure and that the ACE does a pretty good job of matching solar variation. More “dig here”, IMHO.

But is there more?

Total Precipitation

There is a rather interesting set of graphs of total precipitation. They show total, and by month values, for the globe.

Original Images here

First up, the totals graph:

Total Precipitation

Total Precipitation

Well, part of what we see here is a giant band of rain right on top of the equator. More than enough local water cycling to completely swamp any desired cyclone in the formative stages. The heat is just making a giant run for the sky (with resultant downpour of precipitation when the working fluid condenses) and that just kills the cyclonic heat engine. Basically, we’ve got a different ‘regime’ of heat dumping at the very high heat loads of the equator. That, then, ‘tails off’ into cyclones in the middle tropical zones on each side where cooler and drier air can impact on the tropical air masses.

The polar deserts are remarkably defined. It just does not have much hope of precipitation as there is little heat to move the water. More heat in, more water movement. Less heat in, less water movement.

We again have the lower precipitation where the southern oceans are cooler, near South America, in keeping with the ‘heat drives a water cycle faster’ thesis. We get some interesting ‘flags’ of precipitation off the north east coasts of Asia and North America, right where the tropical storm tracks take those heat dumping engines and where the equatorial ocean current get turned north by the land. And some minor mirrors of them in the Southern Hemisphere where they rapidly quench as they reach the cooler water pools.

Once again the evidence points to “Warmth makes more rain, cool not so much; heat not hanging around.”.

One odd quirk is the high rain levels of British Columbia. That starts to get back to the question of California Rains, though, as we get their ‘leftovers’…

Before we ‘go there’ there is another tidbit from that site. You really ought to go look at all the monthly graphs. They also have a ‘big’ size available. They paint a very clear picture of progression. I’m just going to put two of them up here. It’s a clear shift with two, but the proportionality does, I think, matter. It speaks to rate of response of the system. That rate is “sub monthly” at least.

First up, June:

June Precipitation

June Precipitation

Next up, December:

December Precipitation

December Precipitation

The most obvious thing is just how the rainfall moves north and south with the sun. More sun, more heating, more rain. Movement in sync with the sun, little time delay. Equatorial max solar heat has max rains. Polar zones minimal heating, minimal precipitation. It’s a very tightly coupled system with low time lags. The other obvious thing is how central land areas get dry desert conditions if they are not in the equatorial band nor near a warm water current. Brazil, in particular, benefits from warm coastal waters and near equatorial rains. The Gulf Stream rescues Europe from a much drier climate, but I fear the Gulf Stream shifting of zones also puts parts of Saharan Africa out of the equatorial wet. (In some times during history it DOES get a load of water, though…)

I’m now going to present a bald unsupported thesis. IMHO, the cold winter rains of California (and B.C.) are the result of a heat engine controlled by the ‘cold pole’. In winter, the arctic vortex dumps a load of frozen air over a cool North Pacific, but the air is just so darned cold that the ocean, in comparison, is a ‘hot water source’, and that drives a set of cold storms to dump cold rain over the Pacific Northwest. The same effect, with the Gulf Stream and polar vortex, keeps Europe watered. In the tropics, you do not have that opportunity for the air to become so very much out of sync with the water. It is a daily cycle of sunrise, sunset; not a seasonal one as at the North Pole.

In Antarctica, you have the Circumpolar Current keeping the cold water near the pole very consistently cold and a more stable Polar Vortex that keeps the cold air more regular too. Plenty of wind, storms, and such, but foul weather kept in the ocean band where few dare to go. The northern hemisphere has an unstable polar vortex, and warm water delivered to near polar areas without a circumpolar current. The result is RELATIVELY warmer water under RELATIVELY cold air, driving the same “cyclone” production process we get in “tropical cyclones” (and for the same reasons, dumping excess ocean heat). However, this happens when the Arctic Sun sets and the cold pole of the air gets very cold, rather than during the summer sun episodes of the tropics. You can see a bit of the ‘extra heat dumping from a cold pole influence’ in the northern oceans as a bit of blue during the December chart. An interesting, if minor, artifact in the overall southward move of precipitation.

I suspect that doing some digging will find a dozen folks who’ve already found that and published on it. When time permits, I may go looking for it. I don’t in any way think this is ‘original insight’. Just my ‘discovery’ of what is likely already known.

Where I think there IS something to point out is that the band of maximum rains moves with the sun. More north in June, more south in December. The mass of blue is clearly in the Southern Hemisphere in December. Things more north in June. What does this say to me? Water is the heat engine, from oceans to clouds to rain. It dumps the heat locally, and rapidly. It is driven in sync with the solar input, and it does a very good job. There is no room in this observation for heat to be ‘stuck in a pipeline’ from air composition changes; as it’s already been pumped out to space in sync with solar flux levels. There are some oddities based on the polar vortex asymmetry of the planet. There are some oddities based on the Circumpolar Current getting squeezed up the west coasts of South America and Africa. But, by and large, heat drives a precipitation engine that keeps the planet stable. More heat in does not mean higher temperatures, it means more heat out via precipitation.

I do think there may be some opportunities for minor heat storage from long term solar input level changes. In particular, I suspect that a decades long variation in solar heating may result in an ocean out of equilibrium with a changed solar input level, that may then take years to dump the heat from those decades as excess rains.

Basically, what we have right now. ACE is way down, but flooding is up. The peak temperature in the oceans is not enough to drive us into the Tropical Cyclone regime, but the cooler air aloft is sucking heat from the oceans as wide spread rains, and flooding, due to a different solar equilibrium now. I expect this will last as long as the oceans have heat to give (from our latest hot solar decades) or as long as the sun is in a funk, whichever is shorter. This is not ‘heat in the pipeline’ so much as it is ‘equilibrium shift’ on the solar input. (In short, it takes a long time for the ocean to reach equilibrium with the solar input, but once in equilibrium it says in close sync. Changes in the gases over it do not cause changes in ‘heat storage’ as we can see the changes in precipitation tracking seasonal and decadal solar input changes; not gas changes.)

Best guess I’d give is ‘until about 2020’, then I think we will just start getting really cold as the planet adjusts to the low solar regime without our ocean heat sink to warm us. In short, the days to months cycle runs in sync with the sun rise / set and seasons. BUT the decades cycle runs in sync with solar output variations over those decades / centuries. Perhaps via a cloud modulation. Perhaps via direct solar heating of the deeper ocean waters. As the heat varies, we shift from the Equatorial Rains regime, to the Tropical Cyclone regime, to the Warm Thunderstorms regime, to the Temperate Cyclone regime, to the Cold Thunderstorms regime (and, eventually, to the Ice Age desert of ice …)

All the time with the sun driving the state, and the water delivering the heat to the sky.

At least, that’s my thesis. I’ve got a lot more to do to learn what is already known about what drives the different types of storms, where they form, what makes them more, or less, frequent. To find where I’ve got things a bit wrong and need to tweak things. But on the ‘big lumps’ I think I’ve got a bit of clue. It’s the rains and snows that dominate. IFF CO2 does anything, it can cause a very trivial fractional percent change in total precipitation. That will be completely swamped by the natural variations from solar cycling, ocean oscillations, seasonal cycling, and in the very long term, Milankovitch Cycles.

We can see that right now as globally we’ve got a lot of excess rains and snows from the recent turn of the sun making the upper air quite cold; cranking up the heat flow off planet and driving precipitation via a cooling of the ‘cold pole’. CO2 did nothing to stop it, nor to enhance it in prior years. Just came along for the ride, like the rest of us…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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20 Responses to What does precipitation say about heat flow?

  1. Good post as usual EM. One small point I think is that season appear to have moved a little. In northern Australia the warm and rainy season is in January, February and March. As well as I can remember the ski season in Europe and Canada starts after Christmas in January. I recall snow still being on the ground around Toronto in May. Thailand is having floods at present. Again as well as I remember the wet season there is August, September, October.

  2. adolfogiurfa says:

    Rain is closely related to lightning storms, when electric discharges are visible (visible plasma) or to just discharges as non visble plasma.
    Charged water, ionized water in clouds, thousand of tons of it “float” over our heads defying the “holy law of gravity”.
    Visualize in your mind an hydroxide suspended in its mother liquor, for example, aluminum hydroxide, Al (OH)3…in about three days it gets “hydrolized”, discharged and turned into Al2O3 (Aluminum Oxide): This is the known “Bayer Process”. Well, ionized water, floating over our heads as “clouds” are not other thing but HOH, hydrogen hydroxide. When the cloud discharges to ground, that “hydroxide” turns into H2O, di hydrogen peroxide, liquid, “precipitated” water.
    You see? Deserts have fallen in a vicious circle: The less vegetation, the less ability to discharge, the less rain, the less vegetation. It is useful to consider, also, events we consider disastrous, as volcan eruptions which are soil foming processes. The only force, electricity ( or better and plainly: energy) presides over every phenomena, from photons to electrons (two names for a single energy) transmitting force to the whole creation, where life in its various forms acts as the needed transformers of such a process: It closes “gaps”between orders of magnitude (call them “wavelength”), or “dimension”(size).

  3. E.M.Smith says:


    I think there is a role for electrics potentials in the precipitation patterns, but I suspect it is smaller than you would like… It’s also more complex than I would like so I’ve skipped it here ;-)


    There is also the potential that the Tropical Storms have reduced in ACE due to what I’d call “Equatorial Broadening”. It’s still a speculative thought for me with no evidence, so I left it out too… But the basic idea is just that, as the lower UV level from the sun has let the atmosphere get squashed down, the “Hot Equator close enough to Cold Stratosphere” band will now be wider. More width about the equator will be ‘close enough’ to a cold pole of stratosphere to power the equatorial rains regime. Less room left for the Tropical Storms regime.

    This would have as a necessary consequence that those torrential equatorial rain bands (where there is magenta in the chart) would widen to encompass some areas like, oh, Brisbane and North Australia, Thailand, Central America and Columbia, etc. Just the places where we’re getting massive rains and flooding.

    Unfortunately, as a ‘pure speculation’ and with zero data to back it up, I can’t see putting it into a posting. (Though a comment is attractive ;-)

    At any rate, an Equatorial Broadening would also likely imply a ‘seasonal broadening’ as the same proximity of colder high air and warm equatorial water would let the Equatorial Rains regime start earlier and stay longer in any given place. I can see a potential case where there is a difference in the broadening toward earlier rather than later, so a ‘seasonal shift’ would appear. But it all needs a whole lot more think time before it’s ready for prime time…

  4. P.G. Sharrow says:

    The visualization of fluid dynamics in atmospherics is very useful in it’s study. Why not the chemistry? Ionic balance, temperature and pressure is is very important in reactions. The dirty (salty) oceans and atmosphere are a giant fume scrubber that create the “normal” atmosphere we enjoy. No great salty ocean, no class”E” planet. No high oxygen atmosphere, no wet weather, no Goldylocks temperatures over most of it’s surface. Ionic “pressures” are just as important as thermo pressures and densities in chemical reactions. pg

  5. P.G. Sharrow says:

    @ E.M.Smith: I would say you have stated the main points of the general activities in weather/climate very well. Too bad the “climate experts” don’t have such insight. Everyone seems to follow the thread of their own speciality and claims that it is the prime mover rather then a bit player.

    The atmospheric banding of Jupiter is a good visual of temperature caused layering although it is primarily heated from below.

    Perhaps your above post is a good start to develop a paper around. pg

  6. Owen Hughes says:

    E.M. Smith: excellent hypothesis and I think you’re onto something. Water has all the heat storage capacity in the ocean/atmosphere system: so either the heat is in the ocean or it’s in the clouds. The latency in the oceans may be decades but I doubt it’s centuries, at least for most of it. As for latency in the clouds? Hours or maybe a week or two with a deck of stratus being pushed around a big system.

    What intrigues me about your proposal is how to quantify it. Has nobody done the math around how much heat gets captured, moved and dissipated in one hurricane? You could tackle it from delta T across the system: how many gigaJoules of heat go from ocean surface in the “source” region, and fail to reappear as warmed air where the creature finally dies? Instead that heat…went somewhere else. It went into “boiling the water” (lifting gigatons of water vapor off the ocean surface, to some great height, condensing it out as rain, and down it falls). That is heat going into work, and then upon condensation going back into heat, which radiates mostly out into space.

    Hurricanes as the big air conditioner, with an evap and condensation cycle. Surely the math on this is old and (dare I say) cold. Then take the space and time integrals of energy via the hurricane route for an entire planet and a full year, compared to the “missing heat,” and I think we’ll find it.

    Just my two bent cents’ worth. Thanks.

  7. Pete says:

    @ E.M.Smith: If you have the time take a look at the work of Professor Marcel Leroux , mentionned in comments at wattsupwiththat.
    His theory provides a physical mechanism for weather, climate & currents:



    TomRude says:
    August 3, 2011 at 9:33 am
    Thank you Thierry for being another voice in bringing the work of the late Professor Marcel Leroux to this discussion!
    As many have posted before, this link is a good start.

    Click to access Leroux-Global-and-Planetary-Change-1993.pdf

    His latest book was the second English edition of “Dynamic Analysis of Weather and Climate” completed in May 2008 and published in 2010, two years after his death.
    Marcel Leroux has a french wikipage :


  8. Espen says:

    Good post! The next few months may give us some more clues to where the climate is heading – the troposphere is cooling remarkably fast right now – http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/ shows channels 5 to 8 all dropping like a rock since mid-October. It still has a few weeks to fall into inconveniently low levels before Durban ;-)

  9. Ralph B says:

    Your arctic vortex idea makes sense to me. I know from experience it is still warm and humid in the Philippines in winter. There the rainy season ends in September. The air may not be at saturation yet still holds a lot of moisture, looking at the cyclone flows the general direction of air is north then bending east. The warm moist air which normally reaches saturation and drops its load in the tropics now not saturated makes its way up north where the temps plummet condensing all that moisture as PNW rain. Still follows the Rankine cycle quite well

  10. E.M.Smith says:


    Good stuff! FWIW I was a bit surprised at the paper starting out with a long defense of the Mobile Polar High concept (vs Hadley Cells et.al.). I think this is because the USA weather is often dominated by a Cold Canadian Air Mass that slides down from Canada and wallops us…

    So I’d always thought that the ‘cell’ structure was a bit of a theoretical thought device and that the real weather was driven by these Canada Express air masses that would bulldoze through the cell structure… The idea that one would have to defend them as ‘important’ is what seems a bit odd to me ;-)

    At any rate, I found the discussion of polar ice cap formation in the last glacial very useful. It cleared up some ‘issues’ I’d had about the when and how much of ice formation. Guess that having looked at water, I ought to spend a bit of time looking at air mass flows…

    One of the more striking images I ran into was one showing the polar vortex feed shifting seasonally. Tropical air makes a run for the WINTER pole (as that is where the sinking is happening…) so you get this spiral cocoon of air headed poleward, then ‘spinning up’ into the vortex. As the seasons shift, it swaps ends of the earth… I have to think that the lower UV making the air height lower has had an impact on that and on the mass / temperature of air descending at the winter pole, to make those MPH air masses… that I know as a Canada Express…

    I think this also impacts on the more ‘blustery’ quality to the air. It’s like it was when I was a kid 50 years ago. Perhaps the thinner air column with thicker MPHs gives more texture to the induced vertical winds at the borders of the two.

    At any rate, I think the MPH concept is the right one. And it looks like his analysis of the formation of glaciation is correct too.

  11. E.M.Smith says:


    For quite a while now I’ve been saying that it was going to get cold, very cold… It’s nice to have the confirmation ;-)

    I think it was back about 2008 or 9 that I hit on what I thought was the ‘pattern’ and started telling my neighbors to prepare for it. (They moved to the tropics ;-) but their Dad stayed in New England as he was not convinced…) Only later did the solar UV connection to air column height show up as the putative driver of the process.

    FWIW, the best guess is that we continue getting colder, year over year, until about 2030 to 2040 during a Grand Solar Minimum. Yeah, it will wobble about and have some warm years mixed in; but still, it will be better to live in the Tropics than in Alaska…

    So, Durban: I’ve tried to get a weather history chart and Wunderground doesn’t have it. Didn’t look much, though. Given the coastal location it will be hard for it to get too extreme, but still, one can hope. Maybe a nice Chilean Volcano can lend a hand ;-) A more ‘squashed’ air column also ought to mean easier volcanic stratospheric injections… “Durban without a Summer” is a catch title for a year, don’t you think?

    Somehow I’ve got a feeling that The Gore Effect is going to become a cultural iconic thing in a few years…

  12. Pascvaks says:

    Ref – Tropical Cyclone Tracks Pic.

    As solar energy input diminishes and the Earth moves to lower equiliberium levels, the Global Ocean Conveyor and Gulf Stream likewise diminish in strength (and location); more heat loss = less current strength = tracks move South. The North Atlantic and Europe cool (as does Canada and the US Northeast, the Northeast Pacific, and New Zealand and Patagonia). Sea Ice starts building. Atlantic storm tracks have much less impact on North America and a much greater impact on Ireland, GB, the Dutch, and French coastal areas. When things really cool off (in about 70K years?) North Africa gets enough rain to bloom again.

    There are pulsar stars that blink in micro-time and there are stars that blink in very long intervals of time (100’s KYr), but they all blink (or twinkle, if you will;-) because of internal and external influences. As we circle the center of our galexy, the solar system seems to have a summer-winter-summer-winter cycle each rotation of ~240 Myr. Our current ‘best guess’ is that we are very slowly coming out of a winter cycle and in a few MYr, things are going to get a lot more warm and humid (oh yes, and the ice will melt and the oceans will rise for true and stay that way for a long, long time).

    Thanks again Chiefio for the reality checks. Someone is screwing with our minds. Something in the air I think. Maybe it’s XCO2? Or “plastic”? Or ‘food additives’?… (puff)… (puff)… whew.. nearly lost it there… sorry folks… you know there really is something wrong with this world. What could it be?

  13. david says:

    “I think we will just start getting really cold as the planet adjusts to the low solar regime without our ocean heat sink to warm us. In short, the days to months cycle runs in sync with the sun rise / set and seasons. BUT the decades cycle runs in sync with solar output variations over those decades / centuries. Perhaps via a cloud modulation. Perhaps via direct solar heating of the deeper ocean waters”

    My own studies arrive at similar leanings. I have thought about “via direct solar heating of the deeper ocean waters” more then cloud modulation, but I am fairly certain both are valid. I have been accused of counting photons in this thought process, but I maintain that the logic that springs from “David’s law” ( Only two things can effect the energy content of any system in a radiative balance. Either a change in the input, or a change in the “residence time” of some aspect of those energies within the system.) demands a clear understanding of the residence time of the various spectrum of solar wavelengths entering the earth ocean/atmosphere/land.

    Each wavelength of incoming TSI has a different residence time within the atmosphere, land and ocean. This residence time is of course affected by it own inherent properties as well as all of the material it encounters. The longer the “residence time” the greater the energy sink capacity. The greater the energy capacity, the longer it takes for any change to manifest, and in the case of OHC this involves years, not annually. Solar changes can last for decades, and the wavelengts which fluctuate the most may have the longest residence times within the oceans. Sunlight penetrates the oceans deeper then most realize. “From 660 to 3,000 feet (200 to 900 meters), only about 1 percent of sunlight penetrates. This layer is known as the dysphotic zone (meaning “bad light”).
    Now if that one percent is from a wavewlength that significantly changes over solar cycles, then the energy flux , plus or minus, can accumalate over years and decades, or for as long as the residence time of the energies involved is. Since no one has developed a chart of the residence time of various TSI wavelengths, then I suggest this is another area of great scientific ignorance in climate science.

    Factors that control short term flux in both the atmosphere and SST, / wind / cloud cover/ GHG, etc, etc, obviously affect the overall atmosphere first, due to its much lower heat capacity. However the ocean, warming or cooling, drives the long term atmospheric average. A change or lag at the transition does not affect the average nearly as much as the average. The oceans may lag the atmosphere short term, but long term they drive it.
    This is seen on a hemispheric bases biannually, as the earth’s seasonal energy pulse can reveal on a hemispheric scale some of what happens with the ocean / atmosphere on a monthly daily and hourly basis. Sunlight, falling on the Earth when it’s about 3,000,000 miles closer to the sun in January, is about 7% more intense than in July. Because the Northern Hemisphere has more land which heats easier then water most people state that the Earth’s average temperature is about 4 degrees F higher in July than January, when in fact they should be stating that the ATMOSPHERE is 4 degrees higher in July. In January this extra SW energy is being pumped into the oceans where the “residence time” within the Earth’s ocean land and atmosphere is the longest. There are also other factors, such as the Northern hemispheres winter increase in albedo exceeds the southern hemisphere’s winter albedo due to the far larger northern hemisphere land mass.

    So at perihelion we have a permanent loss to space of ? W/2m SWR due to increased albedo and a temporary loss of SWR to the atmosphere, as at perihelion the SWR is falling on far more ocean, where it is absorbed into the oceans for far longer then if that SWR fell on land. Do these balance (unlikely) or is the earth gaining or losing energy during perihelion??? The TOA seasonal flux should tell us and climate models should accurately predict the observation. The point is CO2 cannot drive the changes, short term or long term compared to flux in SWR and its far greater ocean affect. An increase in GHG affects the atmosphere rapidly, but what it does to OHC over time is very likely a negative feed backvia a reduction in SWR, even in a clear sky situation before discussing evaporation and cloud cover.

    BTW E.M., on a personal note I am glad you now have more time to Blog. Thanks for your service.

  14. Pascvaks says:

    I made an ‘observation’, of sorts, over at BobTisdale’s Blog that kind’a, sort’a fits into the discussion at this point –
    It boiled down to taking the North Pacific graph he had for SST Anomaly –

    and overlaying it with the North Atlantic graph for SST Anomaly –

    Wish I could combine the two for you but I don’t have that capability. Anyway, when one holds these two to a light background and offsets the North Atlantic back ~2.3 years the projection for the North Atlantic and Europe this winter is not very warm, indeed it’s another bad winter like 2008-2009.
    (Note: By the time the Global Ocean Conveyor -which ‘rises’ in the North Pacific- makes it to the North Atlantic ~2.3 years later the sign has reversed. Up is down and down is up. The scale of change is about the same in magnitude, just opposite.)
    This isn’t anything but an off the cuff observation from following Tisdale’s blog for sometime now. The proof is in the pudding, they say. So we’ll see if this year’s EU winter is a bad one thanks to Ocean temperature change in the North Atlantic.

  15. Pascvaks says:

    Ref My Last –


    (Note: By the time the Global Ocean Conveyor -which ‘rises’ in the North Pacific- makes it to the North Atlantic ~2.3 years later the sign has reversed. Up is down and down is up. The scale of change is about the same in magnitude, just opposite SOMETIMES, KIND’A, SORT’A;-)

  16. E.M.Smith says:


    Thanks for that detail. That was what I was thinking of doing next (pondering the ocean absorption patterns) and you’ve saved me that time.

    Nicely done, btw.


    You might also want to keep in mind that it takes about 18 years for central Pacifc ocean temp changes to slowly migrate up to Alaska… So that “dagger of cold” that started spiking from South America out into the equatorial Pacific a few years back is only now influencing the central North Pacific. When it reaches Alaska, well, I’m expecting a log of colder storms out of the Gulf of Alaska and into California. IIRC that ought to happen about 2017, so look for 2020 to be a bit cold in Europe ;-)

  17. Pascvaks says:

    Chiefio –
    I’ll watch it but have a feeling I won’t be around to see a full cycle, leastwise not from inside this universe;-)

    PS: That’s one reason I was so fascinated by the GOC upflow in the Northeast Pacific and the downflow (~2.3 years later) in the Northeast Atlantic.

    PPS: BobTisdale has a new post that has caught the eye of R.PielkeSr and looks like it has some legs. When you get a moment, recommend you take a look –

  18. E.M.Smith says:


    Oooohh!, that’s gonna have “legs” … ;-)

    THEIR models compared to THEIR (imho warm biased data sets) showing that the models have a LOT of warming, some relationships backwards, and leave out key features (like AMO) and miss significant pattern details… Other than that “no problem” ;-)

    I think this one argues for buying popcorn futures! :-O

  19. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Pascvaks You made me remember what our fiend Vukcevic says:

  20. Pascvaks says:

    @Adolfogiurfa – Vukcevic sure has a way of saying a lot in a small space.

    PS: I know I may sound like a Used Car Salesman about the “GOC North Pacific SST Anomaly ~2.3 Year Precursor to the North Atlantic SST Anomaly Whatya’ma’callit” but this baby, I think, can do 0-60 in 5 seconds and still not cost you a penny for collision insurance; and for that I’ll also throw in a pair of my son’s, used, 20 year old water wings just to show I’m serious about putting you in the driver’s seat. What ya say Buddy? We got ourselves a deal? ;-)

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