From ‘The Models Need More…’ department

Seems that the Stratosphere just might be doing more than the climate models, well, model.


Stratospheric Winds Churn Up the Abyss

By Charles Choi 23 September 2012

High in the stratosphere, a vortex of winds is spinning, and that lofty swirling eddy might stir the ocean depths. New supercomputer simulations suggest that the stratospheric vortex of winds helps churn the oceans around the planet—and therefore also might help shape global climate, the researchers say.
Every 2 years on average, they found, the stratosphere suddenly warms by several tens of degrees Celsius. During these events, a polar vortex of up-to-130-kilometer-per-hour stratospheric winds encircling the Arctic can weaken or change direction (from counterclockwise to clockwise around the North Pole) for up to 2 months. The simulations suggest that over decades, these warming events dramatically perturb the ocean surface, affecting the flow of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, a system of currents that acts like a conveyor belt moving water around the planet.

“The effects from the stratosphere can explain on the order of 30% of the oscillations we find in the ocean,” Reichler says. “We found the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has an ‘Achilles heel,’ a vulnerable spot in the North Atlantic Ocean in the region south of Greenland.” That region, he says, is susceptible to even small amounts of warming and cooling from the atmosphere—and how cold the water gets influences how much or how little it sinks, thereby driving or delaying, respectively, the ocean conveyer belt.

“I never considered that weather events tens of kilometers high in the atmosphere significantly influence the decadal- to century-scale circulation kilometers deep into the ocean,” says climatologist Judah Cohen of Atmospheric and Environmental Research in Lexington, Massachusetts, who did not take part in this study. “This paper is another example of how surprisingly complex the climate system is, how interrelated or interconnected all the parts are, and how difficult it is to model correctly.”

These findings suggest that climate models should perhaps not ignore the stratosphere as they often do.
“so one could argue whether or not the troposphere is the primary cause of events,” Reichler says. “I would say the stratosphere is still needed to amplify these effects from the troposphere to have an impact on the ocean, but I would like future research to really investigate this question.”

This article is a ‘two fer’ as it both shows the models are a bit daft and that we don’t really have a good handle on how things actually work and just which way how much causality runs…

Then it also shows that normal ocean ‘oscillations’ just might be tied to stratospheric changes; where we have already seen fairly large changes due to solar UV modulation of the upper atmosphere. Makes you wanna go “Hmmmmm….”

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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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3 Responses to From ‘The Models Need More…’ department

  1. Pingback: Fascinating Solar, AO, QBO, Cold NH Winter link | Musings from the Chiefio

  2. JP Miller says:

    Stephen Wilde has been pushing related ideas for several years, but no one seems to take him seriously.

  3. Ron Clutz says:

    Future cooling is also projected by one of the few models that tries to link ocean dynamics to atmospheric effects.

    “According to our model, if the OHT increases further from present-day values, it would cool the global climate. Moreover, it shows large sensitivity to relatively small changes: a 25% increase in OHT cools the climate by more than 4 K (Fig. 2a). Further increases (beyond 25%) would also cool the climate but more gradually. The transition from a warming to a cooling effect of increased OHT is not gradual but abrupt.
    . . .Thus, in this model, the current climate is such that the ocean heat transport is close to its maximum positive influence.”

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