Wind and Humidity Hypothesis

Perhaps it doesn’t rise to the level of hypothesis, perhaps only to speculation or muse… but “below a thesis” in any case.

The data points are all personal observation at this point, so would need a lot of work to prove up a data set. The idea is that changes in air flow cause changes in humidity that lead to changes in measured temperatures, and that is the cycle of warmer / colder over a 60 ish year cycle.


Sparse, at best. Just enough to cause me to notice. Also, this is California observations only. I have no position on how things would have manifest in, say, West Texas or Hampton or Nome or Wellington. An interesting question would be if others noticed changes on the same cycle, but not necessarily the same changes.

Salt. The salt shakers are caking. Realize that in California humidity caking of salt in the shaker is rare in most areas. The State is a natural desert in most areas. I’ve lived in the same house for about 1/4 century and in a 200 mile radius for almost 2/3 century. I’ve been paying attention to salt for about the last 57 years (since my Dad showed me how putting rice in a salt shaker would prevent caking during a wet humid spell in the restaurant in about 1960). Ever since that day, I’ve noticed when salt shakers had rice in them, and not. Where I was. What the weather was like. Was it needed or just prophylactic caution. (Hey, it’s what “people like me” do to keep from being bored out of our skulls in the humdrum of normal life.) So for 1/4 century we’ve never used rice in the salt at home. Same kitchen. Same cook. Same ventilation and heater / AC. Same foods cooked the same ways. Nothing to change humidity. We moved in after The Great Pacific Shift which was just a few years before I came to this area. The Shift came a few years after my last memory of using rice in the salt in my prior turf, north of Sacramento. So for about the duration of the Great Pacific Climate Shift, there has been zero caking, now, post the 1998-2005 or so change, it has returned.

Wind. Starting at about 6? years old, I used to sit and daydream watching leaves a lot. It got to be a habit that continues to today. Just outside my living room picture window is a nice pear tree. I’ve watched those leaves for the last 1/4 century. Prior to the mid-70s, the leaves in my old home town tended to “shimmer” and there were wavy changes of direction from place to place. At the same time, aviation was discovering “micro-bursts” and in the early ’70s pilot ground school, great emphasis was put on avoiding the weather conditions that create those down drafts. After the Great Shift, losses of jet liners to downdraft were much less. Typically I’d attributed it to more weather radar and awareness, but perhaps the number and severity of downdrafts has reduced? Do we have data to know?

What I can say with certainty, is that the ‘summer breezes’ and ‘puffy wind’ causing leaves to move about, was replaced with a more linear wind displacing them sideways in winter along with more still air in spring / summer / fall. Lest bursty puffy wind. Linear storm winds and quiet when calm. Again in that 1998-2005 range, I saw the shimmer return. I’d missed it for decades. I’d look out my window at the pear tree and see leaves just static. I attributed it to the area… and would remember the shimmer from pre-70s. Well, when it returned, I noticed. It is a gentle, about 2 to 5 mph I’d guess, puffy wind. One bush or tree will move when one a dozen feet away is static. Standing in it, the direction feels more vertical. There is a sideways component, but that has two parts. A bias from any general air flow, and a random component for each rustle of the leaves. My interpretation of it is a vertical wind burst inside a slight horizontal bias. The effect is that the “shimmer” is back, and it is here. A bush will move and shake, then be still. Then another moves, and is still… The dancing of the trees is back… after all these years.

Rain. It was flooding and a rainy mess pre-’70s here. Governor Brown Sr. built the California Aqueduct and dams all over to stop the flooding. Skies were often overcast in the Bay Area, and it was always cool to cold. I remember visits to San Francisco during the ’60s to ’70s and it was always cold and dank. Even in summer. Often worse in summer as the fog belt moved in. Then in the ’80s and ’90s, things dried out some and got warmer. I was working in San Francisco then and there were some warm dry sunny lunch times at the piers. In about 1977 we had a heck of a drought (far worse than anything lately). I moved to the bay area and complained about never feeling really warm in Summer. Then about 1980 summers started being drier (less dank) and warmer. I decided maybe it was OK, and stayed. Now I’m typing this under overcast sky, in a dank cold Spring. A couple of decades of warm Memorial Day BBQs prancing by in the memory parade. Not today. Today the salt didn’t want to come from the shaker without tapping it, even with rice. Today I want to put a jacket on. Since that 1998-2005 range shift, reports of flood have gone way up, globally, but specifically here in California. I’ve had a whole series of “Flooding Drought” postings. The humidity and rain are back.

There are some other odds and ends, but likely of little relevance. The smell of the air (more ‘marine’ – I’m one mountain range from the ocean and a few miles from the Bay). The late burn off of morning overcast. The mountain passes closed with heavy snow that I’ve not seen since pre-70s. That kind of thing.

Which brings us to the question of cause.

This all started shifting back to cold and dank and breezy when the sunspots went way low in that 1998-2005 range. We know that the atmospheric height lowered then, a lot. (NASA reports on satellite drag reduction, lifetime of fuel extension, direct measurements, etc.) We know that the EUV and UV and even blue in the light diminished and the IR and Red increased while TSI (Total Solar Irradiance) only dropped a minuscule amount. A short while after that, I started noting the bursty wind returning in various comments.

So how does a change of spectrum change wind and humidity, and through them temperatures recorded at ground level? Nobody knows. It is all speculation. What we do know is a lot of EUV is absorbed in the upper layers of the atmosphere, making them warmer ( i.e. thermosphere and stratosphere) and this is part of the ‘puffing up’ of atmospheric height during high sunspot counts (important to keeping low orbiting satellites ‘up there’ so watched by NASA). Lower EUV would mean lower air height (for any given density) and colder (in the sense of less contained heat, temperature may be changed by density / compression / flow effects for any given heating).

A more vertically compressed, cooler, and less energetic upper atmosphere would, IMHO, be more prone to a vertical descent. (But better atmosphere modelers then me need to address that one). It would certainly have less heat in it as it descends in the Polar Vortex, so the poles ought to get significantly colder. Since compression heating in descent is a function of density, not altitude, the compression heating in descent ought not to change with a lower height; however: Potential Energy to Kinetic Energy conversion is a function of height… so descending parcels of air will have less PE to KE conversion and will end up with less thermal energy at ground level. I.e. they will be colder than if descended from greater height. A significant amount? Need some math and physics and actual data to know. Furthermore, the lowered height for any given layer means inertial effects have less distance to act. A downburst has less time to be stopped, for example, before it hits the ground.

Air Summary: So, in summary, I’d conclude less EUV heating of the thermosphere and stratosphere results in lower atmospheric height, less temperature is likely (though water effects need addressing and other interactions since heat and temperature are only quasi-related) and lower PE to KE heating in descent. Colder poles, and perhaps more tendency to vertical currents. Currents that can’t “run out” as easily and are more prone to reaching ground level; thus the bursty breezes. Similarly, thunderheads that reach the stratosphere will have changes of inertial run and KE to PE conversion, likely changing the character of things like hail and microbursts. Best if a meteorologist tackles those details in that “Dig Here!”.

Meanwhile, the oceans have more IR and red hitting the surface, a lot less UVA and UVB and blue entering to depth, and a small percent total energy less overall. So a lot less energy disbursed through the top 100 M of the oceans, more causing prompt evaporation at the ocean surface when the IR and red heat the top skin layer in contact with air. This ought to result in more water evaporation, more precipitation, and more humidity. Especially in any area near a large body of water. Furthermore, this lack of heating at depth will tend to slow the thermal circulation of the oceans. Take heat out of a heat engine, it slows down. Now this is a heat differential thing, so there is a race condition between colder polar air and less warmed 100M oceans as to which dominates. That race is likely to change over time. This matters. Essentially, the “heat engine” of the ocean currents slows down as it is starved of heating, while the “heat engine” of the air is accelerated as it is getting an ever larger dose of heated water vapor. Rains and humidity pick up near real time while polar water needs a decade or three to cool. All the makings of an oscillator.

Water summary: The oceans act as a multidecadal heat capacitor, storing EUV / UV / Blue heat hundreds of feet down when charging, then releasing it slowly for more decades as wind and currents lead to overturning of the water. Air is a rapid humidity cycler. When peak heated ocean suddenly goes to low UV high IR, the oceans respond nearly real time with more evaporation and a more humid air layer. Slowly, over the duration of the ocean discharge cycle, humidity levels and precipitation will drop, but in the immediate time after that transition, you have hot ocean with IR heated skin in contact with warm air. Lots of flooding and precipitation. At the other end of things, a cooled ocean with little excess heat has the sun transition to a high UV / Blue stage, and suddenly it gets a cooler skin layer. Low humidity, low precipitation. Droughts. Think 1930s. So each end of the cycle ought to have a flood / drought signature. Unfortunately, as the hot ocean cools or the cold ocean warms, that signature can turn into other floods and droughts, so a decent degree of statistical sleuthing needed in that “Dig Here!”. I would speculate a 60ish year cycle of an extreme drought (1930s / 1990s) alternating with a 30 year offset flood cycle ( 1950s-60s, 2010s-2020s) but with a minor ‘counter cycle’ at the end of each phase before the transition as the ocean capacitor state changes.

Now “mix and stir”:

So what happens when you mix these too?

More wind, and especially more bursty wind, at the surface ought not to be only over land. Over large bodies of water it will increase evaporation, so increase humidity and precipitation. It will also increase surface mixing, bringing deeper heat to the surface for discharge. Low winds let the deep levels lay still and don’t remove heat as effectively as evaporation. During cooling periods, the discharge of heat from the ocean will be accelerated. During heating periods, storage of heat will be enhanced. Hmmm… sure sounds like an oscillator to me. Meanwhile an ice reduced Arctic with higher evaporative and radiative heat loss arrives just in time for a stone cold EUV deprived Polar Vortex to scrub it of heat. It takes about 18 years for equatorial warmed waters to reach the pole, so this warm water is arriving at the time it most needs cooling, and is hit with an arctic blast. At the other end, cooled water arrives under a thick ice cap just when IR is minimal and the polar vortex is warmer. Oh So Slowly working to let that pole warm up. Two out of phase effects. (My guess is about 1/2 cycle out of phase with the sun). This will tend to stabilize the oscillation and introduce 1/2 cycle artifacts, again, my guess. Slow the switching rate, but not the switch, and put the poles out of phase with the equatorial and temperate weather shifts.

The sun is an energy storage switch. It controls the heating or cooling of the oceans via UVA UVB and Blue light distribution into the depths and via IR / red prompt surface evaporation; and via the EUV it controls atmospheric height and high altitude heating. Oceans and winds respond, but at different resonance rates, with oceans being 18 years for the Pacific polar lag (presentation at Chicago climate conference) and winds being near prompt. (Then there are ice and snow increase effects on their own schedule, being observed now about a decade after the shift back to cooling…) Oh, and add in that there is an 18 year lunar cycle of tides. A nice little “Dig Here!” is to see if they are in phase with the Pacific water movements and / or solar changes as a harmonic.

Essentially, we live on a thermal battery of the ocean, charged by the sun with UV and discharged by the wind and IR driven evaporation. The winds and IR / UV shift with the solar state. This changes winds, tides, evaporation, precipitation, drought and flood, and ice formation. Tickled by the stratospheric variation in EUV heating and vertical wind changes. All this changing weather and temperatures via changes in winds and humidity. The result is a solar driven long duration heating / cooling process, but where differences in cycle time for sun spots vs oceans vs winds vs ice result in various lags and harmonics of the song. It’s jazz, not Mozart. Some themes only heard in their absence at times. Motifs and riffs showing through to remind you, then submerging in an echo of an 18 year old riff… or a 30 year long gone player.

So that’s what the dancing of the trees said to me today. Take some time to watch the trees and leaves, they speak if you listen.

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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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24 Responses to Wind and Humidity Hypothesis

  1. John Michalski says:

    I, too, have pear trees and they have been dancing all year. I notice the winds, too. I tend to burn my brush after trimming trees and bushes. It seems I’ve had to postpone burns more frequently because of the winds. Our winter in Central Kentucky was a prolonged autumn merged with an early spring. Winter was non-existent. The wood stove in an average winter will burn for months, with an occasional warm spell shut-down in January for a good chimney swabbing, before firing back up to run through March, usually. My wife and I contemplated what kind of summer we will have in store. It has been the most stable of temps for several months this past winter and spring. Never any extremes one way or the other, but always the wind, to the point of being “incessant” for our area.

  2. cdquarles says:

    I’ve had words with some people about this. Long ago, I noticed that you could, to a first approximation, do as well as the weatherman if you knew: 1. the barometric pressure, 2. the rate of change of barometric pressure, 3. wind direction and 4, the dew point. On a calm night, the overnight low will almost always be within 1F of the local dew point.

    Where I live, if I get a strong southerly fetch, especially from mid-October through mid-April, and particularly one that lasts more than 36 hours, the local temperatures will rise up to 20 degrees, sometimes having the overnight low happen the previous day near midnight. The converse was also true. A strong northwesterly fetch could make temperatures drop up to 40 degrees, so the day’s high happened just after midnight.

  3. pearce m. schaudies says:

    Hi Chief. This article from WUWT seems related …

    ‘Warming’ and ‘The Pause’ Explained By Wind, Upwelling And Mixing

    Pearce M. Schaudies.
    Minister of Future
    Falling Skys &
    Wolves at Door

  4. dai davies says:

    I like a book that says ‘read me again’ as I finish it, but it’s not often I read a blog post twice. There’s a lot to digest there.

    A couple of points: bursting wind is significant in that evaporation goes up as the cube or more of wind speed, and don’t forget cloud. It’s not just the overall coverage that matters but granularity because the IR sea that bathes our atmosphere moves in all directions and can shift heat around clouds or through holes. For the last eight months or more, as I accompany Fin on her daily traversal of her territory, I’ve been photographing late afternoon cloud to capture the fine granulation, often highly regular, that occurs rapidly as cumulous clouds evaporate. At night, with broad cloud cover, patches start to thin and holes form and expand with much larger granularity.

    The seasons dance to the music of the spheres, but they have their own interpretations.

  5. jim2 says:

    So maybe a little less UV adds a small percentage less energy to the ocean and more cosmic rays seed more clouds? I’m wondering how volcanoes would increase during solar minima though.

  6. jim2 says:

    Image is absorption spectrum of water.

  7. jim2 says:

    It appears that UV should behave about the same as IR, i.e. not penetrating very far into the ocean. Only visible can do that, which is why it’s “visible.” It has to be able to penetrate our vitreous humor.

  8. pearce m. schaudies says:

    Hi Chief. This article highlights some climate- solar cycle correlations that may fit dates you mentioned.

    The 65-year periodicity seems to have lows at ~1905 and ~1970 and could thus be related to the ~ 60-year periodicity found in many climate phenomena, like temperatures and AMO.

    The 87-year Gleissberg cycle also displays a high variability, and has been confirmed independently in aurora records since the fifth century AD (Feynman & Fougere, 1984), and in large solar proton events analysis (McCracken et al., 2001). The Gleissberg cycle is reported to affect the hydroclimate as this periodicity is frequently found in lacustrine varved sediments and flood records (Czymzik, et al. 2016). In Central Europe, flooding events appear to increase at the lows of the Gleissberg cycle.

    Pearce M. Schaudies.
    Minister of Future
    Falling Skys &
    Wolves at Door

  9. pearce m. schaudies says:

    Hi Chief. Heres another concept to consider …

    Excerpt …

    A new paper published in the journal Climate Dynamics suggests that this ‘unpredictable climate variability’ behaves in a more predictable way than previously assumed. The paper’s authors, Marcia Wyatt and Judith Curry, point to the so-called ‘stadium-wave’ signal that propagates like the cheer at sporting events whereby sections of sports fans seated in a stadium stand and sit as a ‘wave’ propagates through the audience.  In like manner, the ‘stadium wave’ climate signal propagates across the Northern Hemisphere through a network of ocean, ice, and atmospheric circulation regimes that self-organize into a collective tempo.

    Pearce M. Schaudies.
    Minister of Future
    Falling Skys &
    Wolves at Door

  10. tom0mason says:

    If you could ever get hold of a copy of Hans Jelbring’s University dissertation “Wind controlled climate” it may answer many of the ‘dig here’ questions you bring up.
    Rog of Tallbloke’s Talkshop gives it a review of it here —
    It looks very interesting and wish I could find a copy!

    Tim Ball alludes to its content in

  11. A C Osborn says:

    jim2 says: 30 May 2017 at 2:13 am
    “I’m wondering how volcanoes would increase during solar minima though.”

    Perhaps as the exposed crust does not expand as much when solar minima occurs it sets up different stresses in the mantle that need to be relieved.

  12. A C Osborn says:

    EM, it still needs to go further back, what causes the changes in the wind, and what causes the changes in the PDO, ENSO etc.
    Tallbloke believes that it is due to planetary alignment.
    I think it is a combination of planetary alignment and the Electric Universe, scientists even now are learning more about solar winds etc.

  13. philjourdan says:

    So you are saying SF is not always dank and chilly? I spent 2 years there, from the sound of it, during the dank and chilly period. So that is how I will always remember San Fran. As I tell everyone, nice place to visit, but you do not want to live there.

    As for the rice/salt trick. It is always humid here, but you do not see that much any more. Why? AC. Growing up it was mandatory (put rice in the salt shaker), but no longer because AC not only cools, it dehumidifies.

  14. Mike says:

    ” Similarly, thunderheads that reach the stratosphere will have changes of inertial run and KE to PE conversion, . . .”
    I think you mean PE to KE.
    I’m gonna have to re-read this, but I don’t know why. After all, “The science is settled”.

  15. John F. Hultquist says:

    … a thermal battery of the ocean, charged by the sun …

    A simple statement that few “climate scientists” have yet to grasp.
    They think it is CO2.

  16. tom0mason says:

    With reference to oldbrew’s link

    “Max™ says:
    November 19, 2012 at 5:50 am

    Found this and it’s relevant so I’ll tack it on to the last post:
    That’s an interesting link even if most of what they do is modeled theory, maybe they could get some money for observational verification.

  17. tom0mason says:

    Also there is another tallbloke link and a discussion about recent changes in wind and humidity —

    From Hartwig Volz – Sea Water emissivity: A neglected forcing. This 1860-2000 plot seems to contradict the Nature paper’s finding – unless wind has slowed over land (and possibly inshore waters?) and increased over the ocean. If so, why would that be? Also note the timescale of the sinusoid: around 66years and in phase with the AMO. Also note for interest the positive excursion around 1945 and recall the celebrated ‘spike’ in SST airbrushed out of the temperature record by GISS and HADcruT.

    Plenty of comments and links to follow.

  18. E.M.Smith says:

    @John Michalski:

    Of particular interest to me is the increased snow and cold in the West, and any potential increased warmth from about the Carolinas South to Florida. That you had a mild winter is potentially due to a slow down of The Gulf Stream. There is ample evidence that in generally cold periods, it gets warmer in Florida as the Gulf Stream slows reducing heat transport away to Europe.

    ANY evidence for warmer waters near Florida, increased hurricanes, warmer winters from Florida to whatever distance north where the Canadian Air overwhelms it; all of those would indicate major issues for Europe might be developing…

    That you had a mild winter, while Europe was snowy and cold, is, er, a worry…


    Thanks for the pointer. Somewhere along the line I missed that one. I’ll be reading it shortly.


    Oh good! I love it when someone has gone there before me. Makes it much easier than breaking trail…

    @Dai Davies:

    On a road trip to Florida, crossing the Great Plains, about 4? years back, I took a series of photos (many through the windshield) with the Tablet. I got to watch the clouds develop from clear morning sky with dew on the ground, through full cover. You could actually SEE the water vapor rise, condense as cloud, solar heat to evaporation, rise higher, recondense. I wanted to make a posting of it, but between lack of time and way too many photos to make it ‘work’ well, haven’t done it.

    The big takeaway for me was that clouds are dynamic and solar driven.

    On another trip, by air, took photos from above from about Phoenix to Florida. Got the answer to the question of “why puff balls?” Clouds tend to form in lines and spots. Why? Well, when the sun is not directly overhead, the shadow of a cloud is not under it. That shadow reduces cloud forming moisture “next to it”. Depending on direction of sun and any winds, you can get lines or broken lines as the shadow / solar evaporation dynamics interact.

    Haven’t figured out how to write that one up either…


    My suspicion is that volcanic changes are due to planet rotation / orbit changes driven by the same orbiatl / interplantary dynamics that drive solar variation. Tides happen in the crust as well as the air and oceans…

    So gravity variations from orbital mechanics stir both the sun and the earth. Solar activity and sunspots change, as does crustal dynamics and volcanoes. (With a remote possible that changes in GCR / solar radiation could somehow modulate atomic decay enough to case more crustal heating… but that’s a long shot due to the energy needed.)

    BTW, it is essential to not treat UV as a single thing. UVA and UVB ( about 280 to 400 nm ) are absorbed in water about the same as visible light. EUV to Far UV ( about 10 nm to 200 nm) are pretty much absorbed high in the atmosphere. UVC largely goes into the Ozone Layer along with a fair chunk of UVA and UVB, but my skin informs me that a LOT of UVA and UVB reaches the surface. Enough to make be lobster red with a burn in about 1/2 hour at high noon prior to the recent UV shift. Now I can be out for hours and not burn, so “something changed”.

    It’s that change in WHERE the energy is absorbed that makes all the difference in the world (literally…) IMHO. Also note that it isn’t just the UV batch that shrank. Blue dropped too, and IR / red rose.


    Yeah, I read the Stadium Wave idea when it first came out. It’s interesting, but seems to me to be more symptom than cause…

    @A C Osborn:

    I think that is the case also, but evidence is lacking…

    @Phil Jourdan:

    There were some nice warm sunny summer lunches at the wharf in about 1995. Don’t know about now. Last couple of trips up for the zoo were dank and chilly…


    KE to PE or PE to KE depends on what part of the cycle you look at. At the ground, air is warmed and starts to move upward, so that Kinetic movement is turned into Potential at height. Ones up high, the PE can turn back into KE as you get a microburst downward.

    So pick your part of the cycle and use labels as you like it. The point is that with less height to a given pressure, the KE / PE cycle has different ranges, both ways…

    @Oldbrew & Tom0Mason:

    Looks like I need to spend some time in Tallblokes archives. I try to keep up there, but much discussion happened when I wasn’t looking… Especially when I was “on contracts” and could barely cover work, blog, and travel…

  19. wyzelli says:

    In terms of looking at interesting work investigating what causes ENSO and changes in the wind, this entire blog is well worth the time investment:
    I have been following this developing work for some time now.

  20. Oliver K. Manuel says:

    HEADLINES: Trump officially announced plans today to pull the US out of the UN’s Paris Agreement!

  21. Pingback: Last Night, It Rained | Musings from the Chiefio

  22. E.M.Smith says:


    Yes! I just saw that on the Reuters feed. Looks like you beat me to it! (Congratulations!)

    I’ll be looking to party on the formal announcement of it as a done deal…


    Thanks, I’ll take a look.

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