When I was a kid, my Dad would show me things.
Then he would review, saying “This happened, then what happens?”.
I ‘caught on’ and started asking questions of the form: “What next?” “Then what happens?”.
It is now one of my standard processes. To just say “FOO happened, what happens next?”. Or sometimes “FOO happened, what happened before that?”
Lately, the sun has gone quiet. This largely showed up as a lowered output of Ultra Violet and increased output of Infra Red.
Then what happens?
We already know that the lower UV caused cooling high in the Stratosphere (where UV is absorbed) and a general shortening of the air column (NASA found, for example, that drag on satellites was a bit lower). I’ve pointed out that this will have an effect similar to raising the altitude of a mountain peak. The tops are now in thinner air. Maybe not a whole lot, but perhaps enough. So we’ve seen more snow in the mountains and the start of a recovery of glaciers in some places.
I looked at how some of it would likely unfold in the air here:
And Stephen Wilde has a much more detailed elaboration of how the changes reflect in the movement of air masses and Rossby Waves and all in his thesis / elaboration:
Intro bit here:
Full paper here:
I’ve described, in a comment, the differences in our point of view largely being ‘starting point’. Also he has priority on the changes in the weather patterns, having done his work before I’d done much (and before I’d noticed his).
The difference, IMHO, is that he says “the clouds move and that changes things” where I’m saying “the UV changes and that makes the atmosphere ‘less tall’ that then moves the cell bands (and incidentally the clouds) and that changes things”.
So a bit different in ‘starting cause’ on my end, and more detail on ‘inner feedbacks’ on his end, and probably about the same from that point onward.
Stick a UV trigger on the front of his thesis and add in some “altitude effects” from squashed atmospheric dynamics in the middle causing a more loopy jet stream and I think we’re on pretty much the same page. (Or add cloud dynamics and albedo feedbacks to my outline; which I readily admit I’ve ignored as it’s one of the ‘hard bits’..)
Then what happens?
But there’s another place where UV goes. Into the oceans.
So what happens then?
Long wavelengths like IR, red, even yellow and green, are very rapidly absorbed into the surface layer of water. Any diver can tell you that just a tiny ways down, color is gone. Things lose reds first (so they start to look dark / black) then yellows and greens, eventually you are left with a generally blue world. (That is why some fish, like bright red rock fish, can use that color for camouflage at depth.)
UV penetrates deeply into the ocean.
IR is promptly absorbed into the very surface, causing evaporation, and does not heat the water at all.
Then what happens?
So in the “Global Warming” world of the 30 year warm cycle of weather that we have just exited, UV was taking energy deep into the oceans. Putting it fairly far away from the atmosphere. At altitude, the stratosphere was hotter, so when descending at the winter pole, the “Night Jet” and all would be fairly mild and generally there was less “push” to get cold air out of the polar regions (so a less “loopy jet stream”). At the same time, the oceans running on a much longer slower cycle, slowly gain heat, and start pushing to get to the poles a bit faster (as the poles are where the heat net-net leaves the planet). These warm waters take about 18 years to get from the center of the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean, so after a while we got increased Arctic ice melt. Quieter weather in the air, more weather in the water.
What happens when the part of sunlight shorter than 400 nm drops, and that at the long end increases:
(In reality, it is not a hard ‘cut off’ at 400 nm. The entire short end decreases in strength while the long end increases. That “hump” at the UV / Blue end flattens while the “tail” at the yellow / red end gets taller.)
When the UV drops, that reverses. The air gets more energetic; as that much colder Stratosphere sinking at the poles, does so more strongly, and the shorter atmospheric height causes faster wind speeds; as the same mass of air must move through a shorter atmospheric space. The ocean slows down. It gets less heat in at the warm parts, so less energy to drive it.
They both are “heat engines”, running on the difference in heat between the input (largely at the equator) and the poles (where net heat leaves). So that top few hundred feet of ocean are no longer getting all that lovely UV energy injected. It doesn’t need to transport it to the poles. The current slows down as the temperatures first, stabilize, then drop. But with a time lag. So about 2018 we ought to see the Arctic Ocean getting cold and the Arctic Ice pack growing and being more persistent.
More IR in the mix means more heat deposited promptly into the top mm of the ocean, and that causes evaporation. It doesn’t end up in the ocean, driving that heat engine. It ends up in the air as moisture. We get more rain. (Just as we have seen in the last decade). More heat in the air as evaporated water (not temperature), less in the oceans. Atmospheric weather and precipitation picks up. Ocean currents cool and slow.
What happens then?
Those places that depend on those currents to carry heat away will tend to warm up a bit, and those that depend on those currents to bring them heat will cool, a lot.
We’ve seen that with a “red tide” algae bloom in Florida (that is killing Manatees). Red Tide depends on warmer surface waters.
We’ve seen that in the UK where it is bitterly cold. That UV driven warm water is just not headed to the UK. They are not feeling the love… But they are getting a cold, UV starved, “Night Jet” from a cold Stratosphere descending in winter.
I’d also expect that as the water backs up, we could get more hurricanes eventually showing up in the USA. More energy moving by air, less by sea.
But do remember that the water time period is longer and slower than the air time period. So the change we saw in the air, starting in 1990, will show up in the water about now. We will be going back to the hurricanes like those from the ’50s.
So at this point I’m going to pause in this chain of “what happens next?” Pausing at this point because I think that this point is the one that needs pondering.
The UV, and how differential distribution of solar energy happens: matters.
It isn’t in the climate models. It isn’t thought about at all, near as I can tell. IMHO, it is one of the key “root causes” of the cyclical weather changes, over a 58 to 60 ish year cycle, and potentially plays a dramatic role in the 178-180 year weather cycles that look to have planetary “sun stirring” causality. (There is at least strong correlation, causality is in the ‘working it out’ phase…)
I think that is a major omission and pretty much invalidates all the present
It is clear from the present weather that the recent solar changes and UV shift has had more impact than anything “Climate Science” has predicted. (Oh, pardon, “projected”… even they know they can’t predict anything and need to use a ‘polite lie’ to hide their failures…)
Clearly someone ought to put numbers on it. How many GigaWatts not going into the Stratosphere (making that cold pole colder) and not going into the oceans (slowing that water engine). How many more GigaWatts being evaporated from the surface by prompt IR driven evaporation. How many tons of water evaporated, not heated and sent to the poles 100 feet below the surface in a strong current. I’m sure it would be enlightening. It is a giant “Dig Here!”. The kind of thing the Climate Modelers ought to just love doing.
But even without that, the results can be seen. More rains in the topics (and Northern Australia). More cold in anywhere near a polar region where the descending stratosphere is now colder, and the warmth of the tropical oceans are arriving much more slowly. Even in the USA where we’re getting a cold spring, with more snow happening now, as cold polar Canadian air “does what it does” in the Midwest, and some backed up tropical warmth and wet reminds the South why they like life there, and as the East Coast looks out to sea and wonders about the next “Tropical Storm”.
Oh, and me? Well, had my shirt off in the sun an hour ago. There is far less UV than in the ’80s. I’d regularly sunburn in 20 minutes at noon, then. Now? Hey, not a problem. ( I can actually feel the difference. The “prickly warning” feeling in the skin just isn’t there in the first 1/2 hour. Not yet ready to try a whole hour ;-)
I’m prepping the BBQ to make dinner. Probably a BBQ chicken and some roast potatoes. We’re on a “warm lobe” of air right now. (Rossby Wave). A few days ago, we had rain as a cold lobe moved down from The Gulf of Alaska. Next week? Who knows… A couple of days back, we had “Hurricane force winds” in parts of California (not where I am) at 70+ miles per hour. Here we “only” had 50 mph or so… Yes, clearly more energy in the air. But the water off shore sets our temperature. It is still cold, so we have not gotten much rain (we get the cold water after it has dumped heat in Alaska and heads south for a recharge).
So that’s what I’m seeing in “where the UV goes”.
Now I’ve got to to go start some coals…. Probably need a few extra, as there’s a bit of wind, and it’s a cool wind. But I’ll be doing the BBQ in the sun, and that IR warms the skin nicely, even in a cool breeze… Haven’t needed sunscreen in a year or two either. Nice, that part…
Update: Satellite Data
Part of where this article came from was a discussion on WUWT. In that discussion there are some graphs, that I will include here. The first one shows the overall shift of spectrum measured by NASA. The second “gets down into the weeds” of individual parts of UV at the extreme end. The part that almost entirely gets absorbed in the very high atmosphere (thermosphere even).
First off, this is a terribly confusing graph. It does NOT show UV level. It shows size of change vs expected. It is just saying “UV Changed more than expected”, not in which direction. That word “Difference” in the side headings – or ‘first derivative” might be better. So that hump in UV is not more UV, it is more change in UV.
Second, it has a vertical black line at 242 nm. They shift scales at that line. To the left of that line, things are ‘blown up’ by 2.5 x compared to the right of the line. ( I truly hate this graph for how it is made. But like what it says…)
Some more caveats: Note that this is ONLY the period from 2004 to 2007. A particular part of the solar cycle. Also note that the band shorter than about 315 nm is absorbed in the ozone layer. It doesn’t reach the surface at all. There is a ‘level of detail’ left out of the above discussion involving the formation and destruction of atmospheric species, and absorption of UV of very short wavelength in ozone. It’s very complex, a bit contentious, and I didn’t want to get mired in that ozone detail. But in reality, there can be a major spike or drop in ultra short wavelengths that can change the amount and location of ozone in the upper atmosphere. (UV can both create, and break down, ozone and other complex molecules, depending on wavelength and altitude). So there is an entire area of thermosphere involvement and differential UV driven ozone at various atmospheric altitudes that needs examination.
Here is the original caption for that graph from the article at WUWT. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/22/sorces-solar-spectral-surprise-uv-declined-tsi-constant/:
Between 2004 and 2007, the Solar Irradiance Monitor (blue line) measured a decrease in ultraviolet radiation (less than 400 nanometers) that was a factor of four to six larger than expected (black line). In the visible part of the spectrum (400 to 700 nanometers), SIM showed a slight increase in comparison to what was expected. Measurements (red) from another ultraviolet radiation-sensing instrument called SOLSTICE compare well with those from SIM. Note: different scales are used for values at wavelengths less and more than 242 nanometers (see left and right axes respectively). Credit: Joanna Haigh/Imperial College London
But that graph does show that UV changed a whole lot more than expected.
Cahalan’s modeling, for example, suggests that the sun may underlie variations in stratospheric temperature more strongly than currently thought. Measurements have shown that stratospheric temperatures vary by about 1 °C (1.8 °F) over the course of a solar cycle, and Cahalan has demonstrated that inputting SIM’s measurements of spectral irradiance into a climate model produces variations of that same magnitude.
Without inclusion of SIM data, the model produces stratospheric temperature variations only about a fifth as strong as would be needed to explain observed stratospheric temperature variations. “We may have a lot more to learn about how solar variability works, and how the sun might influence our climate,” Cahalan said.
To which I would add “And the oceans, too”.
However, SIM suggests that ultraviolet irradiance fell far more than expected between 2004 and 2007 — by ten times as much as the total irradiance did — while irradiance in certain visible and infrared wavelengths surprisingly increased, even as solar activity wound down overall.
The steep decrease in the ultraviolet, coupled with the increase in the visible and infrared, does even out to about the same total irradiance change as measured by the TIM during that period, according to the SIM measurements.
The stratosphere absorbs most of the shorter wavelengths of ultraviolet light, but some of the longest ultraviolet rays (UV-A), as well as much of the visible and infrared portions of the spectrum, directly heat Earth’s lower atmosphere and can have a significant impact on the climate.
So we have a modestly complex pattern of absorption of UV / blue ends, where it does complicated things to the upper atmosphere (stratosphere, mesosphere, even thermosphere) with differential ozone creation and destruction depending on wavelength and altitude; plus we have differential depth of ocean for absorption by wavelength. IR and long wave visible hardly entering the ocean at all, UV and short wave visible going much deeper. And with UV variation of “10 times TSI variation”. I think that matters…
Down in the comments of that posting, Leif Svalgaard points out that even that is not enough to capture the complexity, as SOME of the ultra short UV increases while others decrease. For my purposes, that is not very relevant, since he is looking at wavelengths so short they don’t make it through the upper atmosphere; but for folks looking at Ozone and related thermosphere / stratosphere effects, some of this will matter. Note that all the wavelengths in this graph are shorter than 315 nm. None of this participates in the air vs ocean vs land heat distribution effects.
So if you read the comments / discussion on that point at WUWT, realize that Leif is looking at variations of the peaks and valleys in the side of that “Difference” graph mostly to the left of that “change of scale” line, but straddling it to some extent. So yes, some of those spikes of “difference” are “more UV in one tiny band” while some are spikes of “less UV in one band”. Overall, that end of the scale doesn’t do anything to land vs ocean vs troposphere effects; but it does have important effects in the thermosphere / mesosphere / stratosphere and especially on ozone formation and destruction. (Part of why I avoided that part of the ‘what happens next’ discussion as it is very complex and poorly understood.)
In a comment on that article, responding to Leif, I point out that looking at how particular wavelengths change shows a complex pattern, but that overall the result looks like short end drops, long end rises. So the use of “UV” in this article is a bit of simplification. It really is “long end vs short end” overall, and without nice neat cutoffs at places we define via a nm size as being UV, and also with variations inside the particular bands we give particular meanings. But the net effect is that more energy goes into the oceans, or does not go in, and more goes into the atmosphere, or does not go in, but with some complex bits to work out. (So, for example, does one part of the upper atmosphere actually get MORE UV during a ‘slow down / drop of UV’ due to the increase in some wavelengths changing which layer of the upper atmosphere absorbs the different UV frequencies? Most likely. But which ones? “Dig Here!”) I chose to simplify that bit simply because it is the lower level of the stratosphere near / at the tropopause that has an effect on our weather and climate at the poles, not so much the thermosphere and high levels. Yet it is a glossing over. Ozone change does matter to net radiation to space. But if one “goes there”, they will also need to address changes by latitude and season as that Polar Night Jet and months of darkness modulate the ozone and polar heat loss. In short “a whole lot of moving parts you can not ignore”. We know the total air column got shorter and overall cooled. We know the polar vortex cooled. So I’ve chosen to skip over the elucidation of all the upper atmosphere UV detailed mechanics and jump to the observed “net net” of it all.
But here is the data from that comment:
OK, I’ve gone back to the SORCE data page as I’ve now got just a bit of time (before I start making Christmas Dinner preparations / prework)
In looking at a variety of ranges I’ve found very complex changes in output. Such that the words in the report become a simplification of way too much. I’ll not mention all the frequencies I put in to the request (partly as the site changes them to “something else it likes” anyway and partly because some were “uninteresting”. If I get a chance, I’ll download a set of images and put them up in a page, as this really needs a visual treatment. (What it really really needs is a 3 D graph of Power, Year, Frequency… )
Instead, for each point of frequency I’m going to give a simple 1 or 2 word description:
Above UVC – 0-100:
0.5 Dramatic Drop, but from 4 e-6 down to “near zero” e-6
39.5 Dramatic Drop, 6 e-6 to 5 e-6 (Spikes to zero. Instrument error?)
UVC – 100-290
115.5 Drops. 2.4 e-5 to 1.8 e-5 in 2009, then slight rise to 2 e-5
150.5 Drops. 9 e-5 to 7.75 e-5 in 2009, then slight rise to 8 e-5
190.5 Drops. 0.00415 to 0.00390 in 2009 then rise to 0.0040
250.5 Large Drop. 0.0580 to 0.0555 in 2008 then rise to 0.0565
UVB – 290 – 320
290.5 Drops. “near” 0.60 to 0.58. Graph looks steeper than data, scale stretched?
300.5 “Flat Hump”. 0.352 in 2003 to 0.356 in 2004, then 0.352-0.354 oscillator from 2005-2010. About Oct 2010 takes abrief ‘plunge’ to 0.346 and back to 0354.
305.5 Rise to flat. 0.600 – 0.610 in 2007-2010 with spikes to 0.615, then DROP to 0.605 with spikes down to 0.595.
308.5 Rise (the one you hit) 0.635 – 0.655 in 2010-Feb then drop to 0.645
310.02 Drops. 0.535 to 0.52 in 2010-about June, recent gap / jump up to 0.530
(really look at the graph on that one, the lead in and exit look more nearly the same with just some “spikes” different and I’m weighting the numbers to sort of average the spikes. It’s mostly a drop and recent return to “normal”)
320.06 Drops. 0.752 to 0.738 in 2007-2009, then slight rise to 0.745. Recent “gap up” to “near normal” of 0.748 in about November 2010
I included that last one in UVB even though the xxx.06 put it over the line. Since folks sunburn based on UVB, it kind of matters to me…
320.06 (as above)
329.90 Drops. 1.035 to 1.020 in 2007. Oscillates 1.020-1.025 to 2010, rise to 1.030 in November. (This one, too, looks like some kind of glitch / step function higher in about October / November…)
350.01 “Sag”. 0.987 to 0.980 (with ‘spikes’ down of 0.977) to 2008, slow rise back to 0.986 with oscillations until November 2010 “gap up” 0.988 – 0.990.
369.69 Big Rise Sags from 2004-2007 at 1.220-1.215, then rapid rise to 1.222+/- 2 then November “gap up” to 1.226
380 Near Flat 2004-2008 at 1.875 -1.190 oscillator. Rounds into a rolling rise to 1.194 then November ‘glitch’ and a spike to 1.202 drop to 1.192.
389.75 Drops. 0.177 to 0.168 in 2010. November “glitch” spike to 1.180 back to 1.175
399.79 Drops. 1.675 to 1.597. November “glitch” spike at 1.615 back to 1.610
That’s the end of the UVA, B, C set.
It’s pretty clear that something “complex” is going on and a 3 D graph is what is really needed. (Gee, I think I heard that somewhere before ;-)
Also of note, the set starts and ends with a drop. The middle has a bit of a rise. I have no idea what the “average power change” might be, but would guess from the number of “drop” vs “rise” and that some are on the “higher power side” of the rise points, it’s probably a drop (in keeping with the written words) but I’d not stand by that statement without “doing the math’ on the data download.
I note in passing that while the dermatology site said UV went to 400 nm the Wiki on visible light says “Violet” starts at 380 and goes to 450 so “YMMV” …
FWIW, the 420 Graph is a ‘rocket ride’ up. From 1.750 1.756, then the November ‘glitch’ and were at 1.760 now. So those violets in the flower garden ought to look particularly pleasing ;-) though the 450 range is ‘nearly flat hump’ until November when it “glitches” and jumps from 2.065 to 2.070.
I wonder what happened in November… (and note: That is an “eyeball” November so could easily be October… or…)
In Conclusion: Leif, I’m agreeing with you. The write up / press release is a lousy way to present a 3 D power graph. I’m just also adding some more data points and saying “needs a 3 D power graph”…
Though, having done the extra graphs above, I’d now add “and it looks like, depending on where you call ‘uv’, it could actually be dropping overall” and my skin agrees.
Parting Note: 500 nm (green) rises nicely 1.953 – 1.959 and 700 nm (red) does a “hump” with 1.4124 to 1.4135 in 2005 back to 1.4117 in 2010 then “glitch” and back at 1.4125. That walk in the garden could be an interesting thing. More greens and violets, a briefly higher reds… ;-)
What’s very clear from all of this is that the various colors each respond differently. There is undoubtedly a lot that can be learned from that, but it’s going to take a lot of effort by some very clever folks. It would be interesting to look at individual color lines for individual atomic species and see if anything interesting is visible there and it would also be interesting to see if this varies by depth in the sun. Corona vs surface vs… But ‘Ol Sol is not just sitting still. There’s stuff changing in there…
So hopefully this “under the covers detail” doesn’t confuse more than enlighten.
It is quite certain that none of that is in the climate models. It is also quite certain that as the sun changes activity levels, it redistributes the output power into widely varying parts of the spectrum, so they end up in very different parts of our planet. Overall, the effects are as presented in the original article, as best I can sort them out. But do realize that there is a lot of detail to be teased out and combed into order. In reality, the increase in long wavelength light can matter as much as the changes of UV / Violet. They tend to go in opposition overall, though, so naming one can stand as proxy for the other in general discussions. Only when getting into high altitude atmospheric chemistry and such does the detail inside the UV shift come into play, and only in the ‘shorter than 315 nm’ range. For surface heating effects, it really ought to be a “316 nm to 450 nm” or so vs “yellow, red, and IR”. I’m not so sure where to put the “blues” around 540 nm, they keep me awake nights ;-)