Why Warm WAP One Wonders…

Sometimes it’s just the way you look at things that gives a better understanding. Simply shifting Point Of View is sometimes enough. At other times, a full motion animation can make things clear over time.

Nullschool is a computer simulation (but claims to be based on actual collected data). I’ve not taken the time to sort out which bit is simulation (model) and which bits are data based. I’m mostly presuming they start from actual data now and in the past, then run it forward. FWIW, comparison of snapshots with other data maps (Sea Surface Temp, Wind, clouds, storms) seems to show a decent match).

So I was looking at another article on Antarctic Melting…

that once again pointed out that it is only the West Antarctic Peninsula that is warming up a bit (if you can call frozen ‘warming’…) and not all of Antarctica. They mention the usual reasons that are put forward as “possibles”. Perhaps it is volcanoes under the ice. Perhaps it is the latitude. Perhaps.

I’m going to offer another “possible”. Perhaps it is the wind, and where it comes from. Looking at Nullschool, it looks to me like the WAP is being warmed by a nice Pacific breeze. Warm air entering on that side, frozen air exiting the other side of Antarctica. First off, the link to Nullschool:


At the moment, I’ve clicked on a spot on it, just ‘up wind’ of the WAP, that is showing 4.9 C with winds headed straight at the WAP. Somehow I think that matters. Here’s a screen capture I just did (that’s a bit funky to do on the Chromebox):

Nullschool temps and winds at South Pole WAP

Nullschool temps and winds at South Pole WAP

There’s a little marker circle where I clicked in the approach winds. The text in the lower left shows the lat long and temp. 4.9 C. A little harder to see is a similar warm wind headed south from near South Africa. That air gets entrained into the slighter further south wind going the other direction toward the WAP. Looking at the wind flow lines, you can see that the warm source air flows over the WAP, and that the very cold frigid air from the central continent vortex tends to exit from the continent on the far side. It does vary some with which side has the daylight, but generally the flow is off the continent on the parts away from the WAP. (In what I’ve observed so far).

This is surface winds from 20 October 2014 at 10:50 AM Eastern USA time.

South Polar winds 20 October 2014 at 10:50 AM ET

South Polar winds 20 October 2014 at 10:50 AM ET

While it does not show the temperature gradients of the prior picture, the wind patters stand out a bit more. Notice that the generally circumpolar wind tends to ‘swing out’ over Chile / Argentina and then back toward the WAP? The South Polar vortex stands out better too, and you can see the flow lines away from it covering more of the area toward the bottom of the image.

South Pole temp near ice shelf edge  22Oct2014

South Pole temp near ice shelf edge 22Oct2014

Here I’ve marked a spot out near the edge of the ice shelf. It is all of -12.5 C and is about the same latitude as the WAP. Well, really further from the pole than the WAP… but the point is that it is much colder here than in that relatively warm wind off of the ocean near Patagonia. So how cold is it in the center of the continent?

South Pole temperature 22Oct2014

South Pole temperature 22Oct2014

Yeah, that -50.8 C is cold… While they show up better in the animated version, you can still see the flow lines of very cold air both ‘up’ and ‘down’ in this image.

I have other images, with other temperature captures and at other heights. They generally show warm air flowing inward and cooling until they hit the vortex, then head down. Eventually, at the surface, the cold is forced back out again, freezing things along the way. Except that outflow is not able to overcome the wind inbound from the Pacific over the WAP. (This might change at other seasons. I intend to ‘check in’ on this over the next year to see if any seasonal patterns / changes happen. For now, it is only ‘what it does right now’.)

The key take away for me is that -50 C and -12 C are simply NOT “melting”. Most of Antarctica is astoundingly cold, having just recorded ‘record ever’ frozen cold and ice extent. The only place less than Oh My God Cold, is the WAP, and that is getting a wind off the Pacific (that despite starting out at about 8 C at the peak of the ‘loop’, drops rapidly to 4 C on the approach, and is down to -0.6 C as it approaches the tip of the WAP. At the root of the WAP, it is down to -15 C, and the further inland you go, the colder it gets. That’s a range of 25 C from origin of the air to the end of the WAP. That is one heck of a lot of heat being dumped.

IMHO, their is NO warming in Antarctica. There is a lot of cooling. There is a very small part of the WAP that is not as cold as the rest of Antarctica, but that is just due to a large flow of warmer ocean air being cooled to freezing as it passes. Again, not warming, cooling that air.


In the discussion below reference is made to the Mean Sea Level Pressure graphs. I’ve added three of them here. South Pole 1000 mb (as discussed) and a matched set of 700 mb for both N and S poles as I think they show the wind structure a bit better.

First, the 1000 mb South Pole:

South Pole, 1000 mb w/MSLP 27 Oct 2014 at 10:56 am ET

South Pole, 1000 mb w/MSLP 27 Oct 2014 at 10:56 am ET

Then the 700 mb South Pole followed by the 700 mb North Pole:

South Pole 700 mb MSLP 27 Oct 2014 11:15 am ET

South Pole 700 mb MSLP 27 Oct 2014 11:15 am ET

North Pole 700 mb MSLP 27 Oct 2014 11:13 am

North Pole 700 mb MSLP 27 Oct 2014 11:13 am

Overall, the North Pole is a bit less extreme in the pressure differential, but it is still there even though much of it shows as a lighter shade of yellow with purple spots in it, instead of a clear band of purple with brownish spots. Maybe displaced a bit toward the N. America side (and less circular) due to the land mass vs water distribution. Same effect though.

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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...
This entry was posted in AGW Science and Background, Earth Sciences and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Why Warm WAP One Wonders…

  1. Adrian Vance says:

    Why get so complicated about something so simple? The facts are very basic and straght-forward. To wit:

    CO2 is a “trace gas” in air, insignificant by definition. It absorbs 1/7th as much IR, heat energy, from sunlight as water vapor which has 188 times as many molecules capturing 1200 times as much heat making 99.9% of all “global warming.” CO2 does only 0.1% of it. For this we should destroy our economy?

    The Medieval Warming from 800 AD to 1300 AD Micheal Mann erased to make his “hockey stick” was several degrees warmer than anything “global warmers” fear. It was the longest time, 500 years, of peace with great abundance for all.

    Vostock Ice Core data analysis show CO2 increases follow temperature increases by 800 years 19 times in 450,000 years. That means temperature change is cause and CO2 change effect; not the other way around. This alone refutes the anthropogenic global warming concept.

    Methane is called “a greenhouse gas 20 to 500 times more potent than CO2,” depending on who is raving, but it is not per the on-line absorption chart at the American Meteorological Society. It has an absorption profile very similar to nitrogen which is classified “transparent” to IR, heat waves and is only present to 18 ppm. “Green vegans” blame cow flatulence for global warming in their war against eating meat.

    Carbon combustion generates 80% of our energy. Control and taxing of carbon would give the elected ruling class more power and money than anything since the Magna Carta of 1215 AD.

    Most scientists and science educators work for tax supported institutions. They are eager to help government raise more money for them and they love being seen as “saving the planet.”

    Google “Two Minute Conservative,” and you will be applauded when you speak truth at your next dinner party, barbecue or church picnic.

    And, I have a new book out on this. It tells the total story of the global warming hoax: Who started it, who made millions on it, with all the modeling equations fully explained. It is at Amazon.com wit the title “Vapor Tiger.”

  2. Ian W says:

    And all that Pacific sourced ‘warmth’ in the wind is continuously and rapidly radiated away to space.

  3. I’ve previously suggested on other blogs that when the global air circulation is a more zonal (following the lines of latitude) then the WAP is projecting out into warmer air than is the rest of Antarctica and tends to get ‘skimmed’ away.

    In contrast, when the winds are more meridional then the WAP has an opportunity to grow because it is the favoured route for cold air flowing out from the interior which is why it formed in the first place.

    The WAP did reduce in size during the late 20th century warming spell of more zonal winds and now that the winds are more meridional I expect to see a reversal of the process in due course.

  4. Ben Wouters says:

    Even more fascinating is the band of extreme low pressure areas around Antarctica:
    What fuels these convective processes (no sun in wintertime)?
    My answer is geothermal energy from the deep oceans:

  5. The low pressure areas around Antarctica are the southern circumpolar jet stream.

    It is fuelled by the temperature and density differentials between polar and subtropical air masses which are stirred up by the rotation of the Earth.

    Geothermal would contribute hardly anything.

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ben & Stephen:

    I’ve added that Mean Sea Level graph to the posting.

    There is a complex behaviour at the poles (both of them) with a major circumpolar flow at the stratospheric level (70 mb, 10 mb) that clearly flows inward toward the center of a vortex. At gound level there is more of an outward flow from the polar descent area. Over warm areas “nearby” (that can be far away like the North Atlantic) there will be hotter cyclones “up” at surface to mid levels and sometimes up to 500 mb. In between around 250 mb, it gets a bit more turbulent as the two flows pass each other.

    However, it generally looks like “wheels within wheels” as the circulations “run” against each other around the edges. The part missing from the Nullschool graphs is the vertical velocity component. At the poles you ought to see a lot of “cold air down” while over the equator a lot of “warm air up” and in the temperate areas a set of cyclonic weather events of both types as the seasons shift. Cyclonic and anti-cyclonic storms.

    So while I think it IS heat from the oceans driving the “up”, and cold from stratospheric cooling driving the “down”, most of that ocean heat will be solar, though some will be geothermal. (All those global volcanoes are adding heat. 600 F at the mid-ocean ridges is significant temperature; but I’ve never seen the value / m^2 from it calculated globally. (Somebody must have done that…)

    At any rate, the polar dynamic is interesting, and I expect interesting divergence N vs S pole as the Night Jet forms more strongly over the dark pole. Right now we are ‘nearly balanced’ as we are only one month away from the Equinox and there is about a 30 day lag in max heat / cold. So about Dec to Jan we ought to see something more interesting in the N vs S pole “look” and vortex sizes.

  7. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; I think you are on the edge of true understanding of the causes of the polar seesaw. This “bathtub drain’ of super cooled air that is caused by the heated tropical air rise. Things that are placed into motion tend to stay in motion. As the South pole cools, the southern ocean also cools. At some point the atmospheric energy rise of the south seas will stagnate and the northern one will begin to predominate, maybe quite soon. Last winter may be a harbinger of things to come, a small taste. Warm tropical seas contribute greater polar cooling and precipitation, heavier snow further south. pg

  8. Ben Wouters says:

    E.M.Smith says: 27 October 2014 at 3:35 pm
    “So while I think it IS heat from the oceans driving the “up”, and cold from stratospheric cooling driving the “down”, most of that ocean heat will be solar, though some will be geothermal. (All those global volcanoes are adding heat. 600 F at the mid-ocean ridges is significant temperature; but I’ve never seen the value / m^2 from it calculated globally. (Somebody must have done that…)”
    At the latitudes near Antarctica the ocean surface temp. is the same as that of the ~1000m layer in the rest of the oceans. I don’t see much solar heating, certainly not in winter.
    ALL geothermal energy (GE) that enters through the ocean floor can ONLY escape at places where no solar heated surface layer is present. So this GE is concentrated, mostly around Antarctica. Flux from ocean to the atmosphere there is at least 1 W/m^2, but probably much more.
    This could be enough to drive convection that may cause / enhance the massive surface low pressure areas.
    I have some images in my post and comments at Tallblokes. (link above)

  9. E.M.Smith says:


    I’ll get to the TallBloke article later. (Only so much I can do during breaks / lunch at work…) For now:

    “ALL geothermal energy (GE) that enters through the ocean floor can ONLY escape at places where no solar heated surface layer is present. So this GE is concentrated, mostly around Antarctica. Flux ”

    Is a fascinating insight….

    Thanks to those peskey laws of thermo, and the generally near freezing bottom of the ocean temps, that 600 F at the “smokers” will rapidly quench in temperature to where it IS below the surface temp in the tropics / temperate zones. That by definition leaves you with the question of “Where does that heat go?”. It can not just accumulate without end. It must go somewhere. Hmmmm……

    Diffuse generalized heating is the first thought to come to mind. Or that the descending near freezing polar water neutralizes it (but that is just looking at the ‘holes’ in heat flow and not the ‘carriers’… so is essentially the same thing…)

    Flux vs temperature. Hmmm…. So once again the “average” hides the mechanism. A Global Average of geothermal heat flux / m^2 is not going to enlighten. Only the W/m^2 where the temperature is below that of the deep ocean….

  10. Ben Wouters says:

    E.M.Smith says: 27 October 2014 at 6:07 pm

    “ALL geothermal energy (GE) that enters through the ocean floor can ONLY escape at places where no solar heated surface layer is present. So this GE is concentrated, mostly around Antarctica. Flux ”

    Is a fascinating insight….

    Wait till you get to the part where at least 136 million cubic KILOMETER magma erupted into the oceans. ;-)
    I hope to continue this discussion soon, but tomorrow we leave for a holiday, and it may take a some days before I’m at a reliable Wifi spot again.

  11. tom0mason says:

    What these picture show so well is that the shape of geographical features have a profound effect on the air circulation (just look at the mountainous South America to WAP air flows), This in a way highlights my view that we do not have a ‘global climate’ but an assemblage of local climates (made up of macro and micro climates). These local climates interact (as do the smaller climates that govern them) together to give us our climatic variability.
    Therein is the salt in the wound of what has gone wrong when all this averaging, adjusting, and homogenizing of climate records happen. The local variabilities that govern the overall climate results are lost in the process. Climate dependent local effects are averaged out of existance, patterns of events are lost in the smearing effect of homogenization. Real climate data is adjusted away, and any knowedge of it is lost forever.

  12. tom0mason says:

    Around the underwater ‘smokers’ are there any endothermic chemical reactions taking place? I’ve asked this before but answers came there none.
    I doubt if reseach has been done, and that anyone knows for sure.

  13. Ben Wouters says:

    tom0mason says: 27 October 2014 at 6:44 pm
    “Around the underwater ‘smokers’ are there any endothermic chemical reactions taking place?”
    I’ve no knowledge of these hydrothermal vents, but this site has some interesting information:

  14. Ben Wouters says:

    E.M.Smith says: 27 October 2014 at 6:07 pm
    “Thanks to those peskey laws of thermo, and the generally near freezing bottom of the ocean temps,”
    Let go of the idea that the deep oceans are cold. For humans ~275K water IS cold, but it is already 20K ABOVE the infamous 255K effective temperature for Earth. No way the sun (or CO2) can have warmed the deep oceans to this temperature. Geothermal is the only believable heat source for the DEEP oceans.

  15. tom0mason says:

    Ben Wouters

    Thank for the link – nice site.
    Unfortunately it does not answer my question but it does look like there is plenty of excess recoverable heat and maybe minerals.

  16. R. de Haan says:

    It’s all about shackling our populations and having the arguments to do just that including population reduction. So we have political idiots in charge like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rb4vh0mcFK4#t=108

  17. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m sure some of the reactions are endothermic, but not enough to matter. We’re talking 500 F to 600 F exit temps. Mostly you get precipitation of metal salts. Some of those might well be endothermic, but the strongly endothermic reaction I remember from lab demo was about 50 F max. Just not enough to matter, really.

    So you could look up the materials deposited and find the heats of formation and calculate it exactly, but it’s not going to be useful. IIRC, it’s things like iron, manganese, sulphates, carbonates, and similar.

    @Adrian Vance:

    It isn’t ME making things complicated. It is nature. As this thread is about the Antarctic Peninsula and what actually happens there, it is not up to me to “make it simple”. Your list of “issues” is interesting, and maybe even useful, but not germane to the question of “What happens in Antarctica?” (I.e. saying “It isn’t CO2” does not tell you what is happening.)


    I’m thinking that the arctic / Antarctic have cold saline descending water that mixes into the deep layers and in that way transports cold to where it can neutralize the heat from the geothermal. Yes, the end game is heat leaving at the poles, but not as high temperatures, only has very cold near frozen temperatures.

    Also, the deep oceans ARE cold. That does matter as it tells you what thermo laws will say. It must be colder water moving the heat, and that will come from ‘near ice’ water. Heat moves, but not at high temperatures…

  18. tom0mason says:

    Thanks for the reply.

  19. David A says:

    “All those global volcanoes are adding heat. 600 F at the mid-ocean ridges is significant temperature; but I’ve never seen the value / m^2 from it calculated globally”

    A question I have asked, and I think the answer is not known. A; the amount of geothermal input into the oceans is not known, but the estimates are rising somewhat continuously. And of course B, is my pet subject, energy residence time As you say, it cannot be there forever. However as energy cannot vanish into nothingness, the longer it takes said energy to escape the oceans to the atmosphere, the more there currently is within the oceans. This brings up another point I tried to articulate on another post, but due to my laymen terms I likely poorly expressed it…” I think that the amount of change any one input can have is related much more directly to it individual intensity, or energy level, not to it total energy level. By this I mean that; say ten small flame size heating elements of say only 90 degrees heat, will not heat a large pot of water, no matter how insulated, beyond 90 degrees, as which point the conductive flow between the pot and the 90 degree heating elements will balance. However combine all ten heating elements energy into one intense flame, far hotter but no more total heat or energy then the ten separate elements, and you can boil the water in a properly insulated pot. So any help in understanding the veracity of my deduction (The T that the pot can rise to is determined by the residence time of the energy within the pot, and by the vibrational intensity of the source, not by the total energy output of the source.)
    is appreciated.

    Now the relevancy of increased geothermal activity in the area of the WAP, is known and I hope the Ice Age Now article referred to two recent studies cogent to said increased volcanic activity.

    There is of course no reason that inflowing warm wind patterns could not be a likely contributing or even dominant reason for the local warming in the WAP. Indeed, one would think that long term wind patterns would affect oceans currents in a similar way, so, off to search for current and past surface ocean currents in that area. Indeed, much of the arctic ice loss was due to changing ocean currents bringing in warmer water, although the CAGW proponents somehow neglected to refer to these peer reviewed studies when blaming your SUV for arctic ice loss.

    BTW, I am grateful to see you having more time to post your thought provoking articles.

  20. Ben Wouters says:

    E.M.Smith says: 28 October 2014 at 2:52 am
    ” Also, the deep oceans ARE cold.”

    Cold is relative. Compared to our body temperature the deep oceans are very cold.
    Compared to the average surface temperature of the moon ( ~ 197K) the deep oceans are very, very hot.
    Since I see no believable mechanism for surface heated water to have any warming effect below the thermocline, I’m pretty sure that with the ~ 275K temperature of the deep oceans we are looking at the answer to the question why the average temperature on Earth is so much higher than the sun can account for. The answer imo is not the atmosphere, but the geothermally heated deep oceans. The sun only has to warm the upper layer from ~ 275K to ~ 290K to reach our average surface temperature.
    Role of the atmosphere is just some slowing of the energy loss to space, no surface warming possible nor required.

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