On Coercive Climatism: Writings of Bruce Pardy

gettyimages-500971746Many people have heard of Jordan Peterson due to his battles against post modernism and progressive social justice warfare. Bruce Pardy is another outspoken Canadian professor, whose latest statement was posted at the National Post, H/T GWPF.

Let the Paris climate deal die. It was never good for anything, anyway
Opinion: Paris is a climate fairy tale. It has always been more about money and politics than the environment.  Excerpts below with my bolds.

Paris is more a movement than a legal framework. It imagines the world as a global community working in solidarity on a common problem, making sacrifices in the common good, reducing inequality and transcending the negative effects of market forces. In this fable, climate change is a catalyst for revolution. It is the monster created by capitalism that will turn on its creator and bring the market system to the end of its natural life. A new social order will emerge in which market value no longer determines economic decisions. Governments will exercise influence over economic behaviour by imposing “market-based mechanisms” such as carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems. Enlightened leaders will direct energy use based upon social justice values and community needs. An international culture will unite peoples in a cause that transcends their national interests, giving way to the next stage of human society. Between the lines of the formal text, the Paris agreement reads like a socialist nightmare.

The regime attempts to establish an escalating global norm that requires continual updating, planning and negotiation. To adhere, governments are to supervise, regulate and tax the energy use and behaviour of their citizens (for example, the Trudeau government’s insistence that all provinces impose a carbon tax or the equivalent, to escalate over time.) Yet for all of the domestic action it legitimizes, Paris does not actually require it. Like the US$100-billion pledge, reduction targets are outside the formal Paris agreement. They are voluntary; neither binding nor enforceable. Other countries have condemned Trump’s withdrawal and reaffirmed their commitment to Paris but many of them, including Canada, are not on track to meet even their initial promises. Global emissions are rising again.

If human action is not causing the climate to change, Paris is irrelevant. If it is, then Paris is an obstacle to actual solutions. If there is a crisis, it will be solved when someone develops a low-carbon energy source as useful and cheap as fossil fuels. A transition will then occur without government interventions and international declarations. Until then, Paris will fix nothing. It serves interests that have little to do with atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Will America’s repudiation result in its eventual demise? One can hope.

Bruce Pardy belongs to the Faculty of Law, Queen’s College, Kingston, Ontario. This post will provide excerpts from several of Pardy’s writings to give readers access to his worldview and its usefulness making sense of current socio-political actions.

In 2009 Pardy wrote Climate Change Charades: False Environmental Pretences of Statist Energy Governance
The Abstract:
Climate change is a poor justification for energy statism, which consists of centralized government administration of energy supplies, sources, prices, generating facilities, production and conservation. Statist energy governance produces climate change charades: government actions taken in the name of climate change that bear little relationship to the nature of the problem. Such actions include incremental, unilateral steps to reduce domestic carbon emissions to arbitrary levels, and attempts to choose winners and losers in future technology, using public money to subsidize ineffective investments. These proffered solutions are counter-productive. Governments abdicate their responsibility to govern energy in a manner that is consistent with domestic legal norms and competitive markets, and make the development of environmental solutions less likely rather than more so.

Pardy also spoke out in support of Peterson and against the Canadian government legislation proscribing private speech between individuals. His article in National Post was Meet the new ‘human rights’ — where you are forced by law to use ‘reasonable’ pronouns

Human rights were conceived to liberate. They protected people from an oppressive state. Their purpose was to prevent arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and censorship, by placing restraints on government. The state’s capacity to accommodate these “negative rights” was unlimited, since they required only that people be left alone.

If only arm twisting were prohbited beyond the ring.

But freedom from interference is so 20th century. Modern human rights entitle. We are in the middle of a culture war, and human rights have become a weapon to normalize social justice values and to delegitimize competing beliefs. These rights are applied against other people to limit their liberties.

Freedom of expression is a traditional, negative human right. When the state manages expression, it threatens to control what we think. Forced speech is the most extreme infringement of free speech. It puts words in the mouths of citizens and threatens to punish them if they do not comply. When speech is merely restricted, you can at least keep your thoughts to yourself. Compelled speech makes people say things with which they disagree.

Some senators expressed the view that forcing the use of non-gendered pronouns was reasonable because calling someone by their preferred pronoun is a reasonable thing to do. That position reflects a profound misunderstanding of the role of expression in a free society. The question is not whether required speech is “reasonable” speech. If a statute required people to say “hello,” “please” and “thank you,” that statute would be tyrannical, not because “hello,” “please” and “thank you” aren’t reasonable things to say, but because the state has dictated the content of private conversation.

Traditional negative human rights give people the freedom to portray themselves as they wish without fearing violence or retribution from others. Everyone can exercise such rights without limiting the rights of others. Not so the new human rights. Did you expect to decide your own words and attitudes? If so, human rights are not your friend.

These positions derive from bedrock reasoning by Pardy on the foundations of law and legitimacy. An insight into his thinking is his rebuttal of a critic The Only Legitimate Rule: A Reply to MacLean’s Critique of Ecolawgic Dalhousie Law Journal, Spring 2017

Ecosystem as One model of Society

An ecosystem is not a thing. It does not exist as a concrete entity. “Ecosystem” is a label for the dynamics that result when organisms interact with each other and their environment. Those dynamics occur in infinite variation, but always reflect the same logic:
Competition for scarce resources leads to natural selection, where those organisms better adapted to ecosystem conditions survive and reproduce, leading to evolutionary change. All participants are equally subject to their forces; systems do not play favourites.

In ecosystems, the use of the word “autonomy” does not mean legally enforced liberty but the reverse: no externally imposed rules govern behaviour. In ecosystems unmanaged by people, organisms can succeed or fail, live or die, as their genetically determined physiology and behaviour allow. Every life feeds on the death of others, whether animal or plant, and those better adapted to their circumstances survive to reproduce. Organisms can do anything that their genes dictate, and their success or failure is the consequence that fuels evolution.

When an antelope is chased by a lion and plunges into a river to escape, that action allows the antelope to survive and thus to reproduce. The offspring may carry a genetic disposition to run into water when chased by predators. There are no committees of either antelopes or humans deciding how antelopes will behave. Autonomy in ecosystems is not a human creation. It is not based upon human history or culture and is not a human preference.

Market as a Different Model of Society

A market is not a thing either. Nor is it a place. Markets, like ecosystems, do not exist as concrete entities. “Market” is a label for the dynamics that result when people exchange with each other. Bargains may be commercial in nature, where things are bought and sold, but they also occur in other facets of life. For example, in Ecolawgic I suggested that marriage is a kind of exchange that is made when people perceive themselves better off to enter into the bargain than not to.

As I said in Ecolawgic, “Laws and governments can make markets more stable and efficient, such as by enforcing contracts and creating a supply of money, but they create neither the activity of trading nor the market dynamics that the transactions create.”  A market is not a place or a legal structure but the dynamics of a collection of transactions. It does not exist before or independently of the transactions within it. The transactions make the market. Transactions are not created by governments but by the parties who enter into them.

People transact whether they are facilitated by governments or not. The evidence is everywhere. If it were not so, human beings would not have bartered long before there were governments to create money and enforce contracts. During Prohibition, no alcohol would have been produced and sold. Citizens of the Soviet Union would not have exchanged goods. Today there would be no drug trade, no black market and no smuggling. Cigarettes would not be used as currency inside jails. People would not date, hold garage sales or trade hockey cards. There would be no Bitcoin or barter. Try prohibiting people from transacting and see that they will transact anyway. They will do so because they perceive themselves as better off. Sometimes the benefit is concrete and sometimes it is ethereal. The perception of benefit is personal and subjective.

Ecosystems are Coercive, Markets are Voluntary

Ecosystems and markets share many features but they differ in one important respect. Violence plays an important role in ecosystems but is not a part of voluntary market exchange. Ecosystems are arenas for mortal combat. Lions eat antelopes if they can catch them. Nothing prevents taking a dead antelope from a lion except the lion’s response. There are no restrictions on survival strategies, and organisms do not respect the interests, habitats or lives of other organisms.

Markets, in contrast, proceed upon the judgment of the transacting parties that they are better off to trade than to fight. The hunter did not shoot the woodworker to get chairs, and the woodworker traded for meat instead of stealing it. They chose to trade because it made them better off than fighting. The reasons are their own. Perhaps they were friends, colleagues or allies. Perhaps they believed that harming other people is wrong. Perhaps they hoped to have an ongoing trading relationship. Perhaps fighting carried risks that were too high and they feared injury or retribution. Perhaps trading was less work than fighting.

For whatever reason, they chose to trade. This choice is not universal. People have traded throughout human history, but they have also fought. I do not maintain that trading is any more “natural” or inbred than fighting, but neither is it is less so. When people choose to fight, they are no longer part of a market. Markets are like ecosystems with the violence removed.  They are the kinder, gentler version of ecosystems.

There are only two models for legal governance and only one legitimate rule.

The logic is as follows:
1. In the wild, organisms compete for scarce resources. Those organisms better adapted to conditions survive and reproduce. Their interactions constitute ecosystems. No legal rules govern behaviour and might is right.
2. Human beings trade spontaneously. Parties enter into transactions when they perceive themselves as better off to trade than to fight. Their transactions constitute markets.
3. Moral values and policy goals are preferences whose inherent validity cannot be established. They are turtles all the way down. Therefore laws based upon those preferences lack legitimacy.
4. When governments use might to impose laws and policies that are illegitimate, they unintentionally imitate ecosystems, where might is right. Political constituencies use whatever means necessary to impose their preferences, and their opponents use whatever means necessary to resist. They are “autonomous” in the ecosystem sense: there are no inherently valid restrictions on behaviour. The result is a social order of division and conflict.
5. The alternative is to model human governance on the other system that exists independently of state preference: markets. If the model for human governance is markets, interactions between people are voluntary. People are “autonomous” in the market sense: they may pursue their own interests without coercion. Instead of imposing illegitimate rules and policies, the state uses force only to prohibit people from imposing force on each other. A plethora of sub-rules follow as corollaries of the rule against coercion: property, consent, criminal offences that punish violence and so on.
6. There is no third choice. Coercion is not right or wrong depending upon the goals being pursued since those goals are merely preferences. Their advocates cannot establish that their goals have inherent validity to those who do not agree. Therefore, giving priority to those objectives is to assert that might is right. If might is right, we are back to ecosystems, where any and all actions are legitimate.
7. If might is right, anything goes, and the model is ecosystems. If might is not right, force is prohibited, and the model is markets. Choose one and all else follows.

When I claim that a prohibition on force is the only legitimate rule, I mean the only substantive rule to govern relations between competent adults. No doubt the administration of a legal system, even a minimalist one, would require other kinds of laws to function. Constitutional rules, court administration, the conduct of elections and procedures to bring legal proceedings are a few of the other categories that would be necessary in order to give effect to the general rule.

No Property, No Market

But the existence of property rights must follow from a general rule prohibiting coercion. If it does not, the general rule is not what it purports to be. When people trade, they recognize the property interest held by the other party. It is that interest that they wish to obtain. When the woodworker trades chairs for the hunter’s meat, she trades “her” chairs for “his” meat. The trade would not occur without a mutual understanding of the possession that both hold over their respective stuff.

Sometimes those interests are recognized and protected by the law, which according to Bentham created the property. However, since markets arise even where no property is legally recognized, the notion of property must be prior to the law. Above I gave examples of markets that have arisen where no legal regime has protected property rights: prehistorical trade, alcohol sales during Prohibition, black markets in the Soviet Union, the modern day drug trade, smuggling of illicit goods, and the internal markets of prisons. Since trading occurs even in the absence of an approving legal regime, the notion of property must exist independently as well.

No Consent, No Market

Autonomy in the market sense means to be able to pursue your own interests and control your own choices without coercion. Consent is part and parcel of autonomy. Without the ability to consent, no trades can be made. Without trades, no markets exist. If one cannot consent to be touched, to give up property, to make bargains, to mate, to arm wrestle, to trade chairs for meat, to sell labour for money, and so on, then one is not autonomous.

If force is prohibited, then corollaries are laws that protect people from having force imposed upon them. Laws apply the force of the state to prevent or punish the application of force. A criminal law that prohibits assault is an extension of the general rule. A tax to finance the police department is legitimate if its purpose is to investigate and prosecute violent crimes. Traffic laws prevent people from running each other over.  Civil liability compensates for physical injuries caused by the force of others.

Illegitimate Laws, No Market

Illegitimate laws use state coercion to seek other ends such as enforcing moral standards, pursuing social goals or saving people from themselves. A criminal law that prohibits the use of drugs uses state force to prevent an activity in which there is no coercion. A tax to fund the armed forces to protect the peace may be legitimate, but one to take wealth from Peter to give to Paul is not. The legal regimes of modern administrative states consist largely of instrumentalist laws and policies that are inconsistent with the general rule, including tax laws, economic development programs, bankruptcy, patent regimes, mandatory government-run pension plans and MacLean’s version of environmental regulation, in which each decision turns on a political determination of the values to be applied.

It is either ecosystems or markets. Either might is right or it is not. If it is, then human society is subject to the law of the jungle where people are at liberty to fight like animals if they choose to do so. If it is not, then human society is a marketplace where people may enter into transactions voluntarily and the state may justifiably use force only to prevent or punish the application of force.

There is no third choice. Some might insist that coercion is not categorically wrong but that it can be right or wrong depending upon the other goals to be pursued. Those goals are merely preferences. They are turtles all the way down. I do not maintain that other rules will not be passed and enforced using the established machinery of government but only that they have no claim to legitimacy, any more than other rules that might have been chosen instead. If force is used to pursue those preferences, why would others not use force to resist? Such a choice results in a free-for-all. If state force is right only because it cannot be resisted, that means that might is right. The administrative welfare state prevails not because it is justified morally or socially but because it has managed to secure a monopoly on violence. The imposition of government preferences is an invitation to those opposed to an arbitrary policy agenda to take up force against it.


In  a way, Pardy is warning us not to take for granted the free market social democracies to which we were accustomed.  Post modern progressive social justice warriors have decided that society is essentially an endless power struggle, that one group’s rights are gained only at the expense of another group.  In other words, it’s a dog-eat-dog, might makes right ecosystem.  Pardy says there is another way, which has been the basis for the rise of civilization, but can be reversed by governance that destroys the free market of ideas and efforts by imposing values favored by the rich and powerful.

Footnote about Turtles.  Pardy explains the metaphor:

In Rapanos v. United States, Justice Antonin Scalia offered a version of the traditional tale of how the Earth is carried on the backs of animals. In this version of the story, an Eastern guru affirms that the earth is supported on the back of a tiger.  When asked what supports the tiger, he says it stands upon an elephant; and when asked what supports the elephant he says it is a giant turtle.  When asked, finally, what supports the giant turtle, he is briefly taken aback, but quickly replies “Ah, after that it is turtles all the way down.”

Saving the Internet is like Saving the Climate


Some striking parallels appear in the fights over “net neutrality” and “climate change.” Firstly, both issues are mostly political. Politicians like those above alarmed over the internet are the same ones alarmed about the climate.  (Pictured are Democrat senators Franken, Sanders, Booker and Markey.)

Then there is the comparison that both concerns involve a fear of the future. Impressionable youngsters and others have been told they have a right to a “stable climate” and to “net neutrality.” Advocates ignore how benign and conveniently warming has been our climate since 1850, but assure us that extreme heat and dire consequences surely lie ahead. The same politicians ignore the fact the internet worked amazing well prior to the Obama 2015 Internet Order, and brought great innovation and affordable services without heavy-handed regulations.

The proposed policies are also comparable. Evil corporations can not be trusted to deal fairly with their customers and must be controlled by government bureaucracy. Laws must be written to dictate to network operators what they can offer and what prices they can demand. Fossil fuel producers must be hounded, sued, taxed, and constrained by any means possible.

Also underneath the simplistic political positions, there are technical complexities and realities overlooked in the rush to enact “solutions.” I have read and posted a lot on global warming/climate change and know how unfounded are the alarmist claims. So I am inclined to be skeptical when the same people harp about the internet.

In the last few days, some things appear true to me. Prior to 2015 the FCC  classified the internet as a Title I service and all the growth and innovation happened under that “light-touch” regulation. The 2015 FCC Internet Order under the Obama administration reclassified the Internet as Title II, mandating “heavy-handed” regulation, including price controls and even the potential for taxes to pay for regulatory costs. This move was justified to protect consumers against discrimination by providers.  That order is now being repealed by the present Trump-appointed FCC head.

Skeptics pointed at the time that Title II worked extremely well to protect telephone monopolies and prevent innovation for decades. Notice that AT&T is in full support of restoring Title II regulation. Smart phones and Voice Over Internet escaped Title II regulation, and who knows what future inventions will come without government interference.

We can also see virtue signaling on display in both campaigns. The Senate action this week is unlikely to succeed, but the point was always to rally the faithful for the mid-term elections. Underneath the feel-good notion of net neutrality is the impulse to control and limit choices by putting bureaucrats in charge.

Everyone wants the same thing: Free competition so that the best ideas and services can rise and prosper, privacy so that personal information can not be exploited against one’s interests, and freedom to choose and to pay accordingly. But how to get there? Going back to the 2010 FCC Internet Order is a good start, which is the result of the recent FCC decision.

In both climate and internet issues, there are important matters to address by means of facts and analysis rather than knee-jerk politics. Rolling out widely accessible broadband networks is expensive and won’t happen if builders and operators are unprofitable. And based on past experience, it will also not work as a government project. As for climate, officials should be more humble. No one knows what future weather will be, and most likely there will be both periods colder and warmer than the present. The proper role of government is not to attempt control of the weather, but to prepare for the contingencies with robust infrastructure and reliable, affordable energy.

Some sources:

Forbes:  The FCC’s Net Neutrality Repeal: The End Of The Internet Or A Path To A Legislative Compromise?

Mediashift: Your Guide to Net Neutrality (2018 Edition) 

Boston Globe:  The real reason the Net neutrality fight goes on

American Consumer Institute:  Did the FCC Lie about Net Neutrality? (2015)

Forbes:  Am I The Only Techie Against Net Neutrality? (2014)

Journal on Telecom and High Tech Law:  Unintended Consequences of Net Neutrality Regulation   (2007)


Correcting Flaws in Global Warming Projections

William Mason Gray (1929-2016), pioneering hurricane scientist and forecaster and professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University.

Thanks to GWPF for publishing posthumously Bill Gray’s understanding of global warming/climate change.  The paper was compiled at his request, completed and now available as Flaws in applying greenhouse warming to Climate Variability This post provides some excerpts in italics with my bolds and some headers.  Readers will learn much from the entire document (title above is link to pdf).

The Fundamental Correction

The critical argument that is made by many in the global climate modeling (GCM) community is that an increase in CO2 warming leads to an increase in atmospheric water vapor, resulting in more warming from the absorption of outgoing infrared radiation (IR) by the water vapor. Water vapor is the most potent greenhouse gas present in the atmosphere in large quantities. Its variability (i.e. global cloudiness) is not handled adequately in GCMs in my view. In contrast to the positive feedback between CO2 and water vapor predicted by the GCMs, it is my hypothesis that there is a negative feedback between CO2 warming and and water vapor. CO2 warming ultimately results in less water vapor (not more) in the upper troposphere. The GCMs therefore predict unrealistic warming of global temperature. I hypothesize that the Earth’s energy balance is regulated by precipitation (primarily via deep cumulonimbus (Cb) convection) and that this precipitation counteracts warming due to CO2.

Figure 14: Global surface temperature change since 1880. The dotted blue and dotted red lines illustrate how much error one would have made by extrapolating a multi-decadal cooling or warming trend beyond a typical 25-35 year period. Note the recent 1975-2000 warming trend has not continued, and the global temperature remained relatively constant until 2014.

Projected Climate Changes from Rising CO2 Not Observed

Continuous measurements of atmospheric CO2, which were first made at Mauna Loa, Hawaii in 1958, show that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have risen since that time. The warming influence of CO2 increases with the natural logarithm (ln) of the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration. With CO2 concentrations now exceeding 400 parts per million by volume (ppm), the Earth’s atmosphere is slightly more than halfway to containing double the 280 ppm CO2 amounts in 1860 (at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution).∗

We have not observed the global climate change we would have expected to take place, given this increase in CO2. Assuming that there has been at least an average of 1 W/m2 CO2 blockage of IR energy to space over the last 50 years and that this energy imbalance has been allowed to independently accumulate and cause climate change over this period with no compensating response, it would have had the potential to bring about changes in any one of the following global conditions:

  • Warm the atmosphere by 180◦C if all CO2 energy gain was utilized for this purpose – actual warming over this period has been about 0.5◦C, or many hundreds of times less.
  • Warm the top 100 meters of the globe’s oceans by over 5◦C – actual warming over this period has been about 0.5◦C, or 10 or more times less.
  • Melt sufficient land-based snow and ice as to raise the global sea level by about 6.4 m. The actual rise has been about 8–9 cm, or 60–70 times less. The gradual rise of sea level has been only slightly greater over the last ~50 years (1965–2015) than it has been over the previous two ~50-year periods of 1915–1965 and 1865–1915, when atmospheric CO2 gain was much less.
  • Increase global rainfall over the past ~50-year period by 60 cm.

Earth Climate System Compensates for CO2

If CO2 gain is the only influence on climate variability, large and important counterbalancing influences must have occurred over the last 50 years in order to negate most of the climate change expected from CO2’s energy addition. Similarly, this hypothesized CO2-induced energy gain of 1 W/m2 over 50 years must have stimulated a compensating response that acted to largely negate energy gains from the increase in CO2.

The continuous balancing of global average in-and-out net radiation flux is therefore much larger than the radiation flux from anthropogenic CO2. For example, 342 W/m2, the total energy budget, is almost 100 times larger than the amount of radiation blockage expected from a CO2 doubling over 150 years. If all other factors are held constant, a doubling of CO2 requires a warming of the globe of about 1◦C to enhance outward IR flux by 3.7 W/m2 and thus balance the blockage of IR flux to space.

Figure 2: Vertical cross-section of the annual global energy budget. Determined from a combination of satellite-derived radiation measurements and reanalysis data over the period of 1984–2004.

This pure IR energy blocking by CO2 versus compensating temperature increase for radiation equilibrium is unrealistic for the long-term and slow CO2 increases that are occurring. Only half of the blockage of 3.7 W/m2 at the surface should be expected to go into an temperature increase. The other half (about 1.85 W/m2) of the blocked IR energy to space will be compensated by surface energy loss to support enhanced evaporation. This occurs in a similar way to how the Earth’s surface energy budget compensates for half its solar gain of 171 W/m2 by surface-to-air upward water vapor flux due to evaporation.

Assuming that the imposed extra CO2 doubling IR blockage of 3.7 W/m2 is taken up and balanced by the Earth’s surface in the same way as the solar absorption is taken up and balanced, we should expect a direct warming of only ~0.5◦C for a doubling of CO2. The 1◦C expected warming that is commonly accepted incorrectly assumes that all the absorbed IR goes to the balancing outward radiation with no energy going to evaporation.

Consensus Science Exaggerates Humidity and Temperature Effects

A major premise of the GCMs has been their application of the National Academy of Science (NAS) 1979 study3 – often referred to as the Charney Report – which hypothesized that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 would bring about a general warming of the globe’s mean temperature of 1.5–4.5◦C (or an average of ~3.0◦C). These large warming values were based on the report’s assumption that the relative humidity (RH) of the atmosphere remains quasiconstant as the globe’s temperature increases. This assumption was made without any type of cumulus convective cloud model and was based solely on the Clausius–Clapeyron (CC) equation and the assumption that the RH of the air will remain constant during any future CO2-induced temperature changes. If RH remains constant as atmospheric temperature increases, then the water vapor content in the atmosphere must rise exponentially.

With constant RH, the water vapor content of the atmosphere rises by about 50% if atmospheric temperature is increased by 5◦C. Upper tropospheric water vapor increases act to raise the atmosphere’s radiation emission level to a higher and thus colder level. This reduces the amount of outgoing IR energy which can escape to space by decreasing T^4.

These model predictions of large upper-level tropospheric moisture increases have persisted in the current generation of GCM forecasts.§ These models significantly overestimate globally-averaged tropospheric and lower stratospheric (0–50,000 feet) temperature trends since 1979 (Figure 7).

Figure 8: Decline in upper tropospheric RH. Annually-averaged 300 mb relative humidity for the tropics (30°S–30°N). From NASA-MERRA2 reanalysis for 1980–2016. Black dotted line is linear trend.

All of these early GCM simulations were destined to give unrealistically large upper-tropospheric water vapor increases for doubling of CO2 blockage of IR energy to space, and as a result large and unrealistic upper tropospheric temperature increases were predicted. In fact, if data from NASA-MERRA24 and NCEP/NCAR5 can be believed, upper tropospheric RH has actually been declining since 1980 as shown in Figure 8. The top part of Table 1 shows temperature and humidity differences between very wet and dry years in the tropics since 1948; in the wettest years, precipitation was 3.9% higher than in the driest ones. Clearly, when it rains more in the tropics, relative and specific humidity decrease. A similar decrease is seen when differencing 1995–2004 from 1985–1994, periods for which the equivalent precipitation difference is 2%. Such a decrease in RH would lead to a decrease in the height of the radiation emission level and an increase in IR to space.

The Earth’s natural thermostat – evaporation and precipitation

What has prevented this extra CO2-induced energy input of the last 50 years from being realized in more climate warming than has actually occurred? Why was there recently a pause in global warming, lasting for about 15 years?  The compensating influence that prevents the predicted CO2-induced warming is enhanced global surface evaporation and increased precipitation.

Annual average global evaporational cooling is about 80 W/m2 or about 2.8 mm per day.  A little more than 1% extra global average evaporation per year would amount to 1.3 cm per year or 65 cm of extra evaporation integrated over the last 50 years. This is the only way that such a CO2-induced , 1 W/m2 IR energy gain sustained over 50 years could occur without a significant alteration of globally-averaged surface temperature. This hypothesized increase in global surface evaporation as a response to CO2-forced energy gain should not be considered unusual. All geophysical systems attempt to adapt to imposed energy forcings by developing responses that counter the imposed action. In analysing the Earth’s radiation budget, it is incorrect to simply add or subtract energy sources or sinks to the global system and expect the resulting global temperatures to proportionally change. This is because the majority of CO2-induced energy gains will not go into warming the atmosphere. Various amounts of CO2-forced energy will go into ocean surface storage or into ocean energy gain for increased surface evaporation. Therefore a significant part of the CO2 buildup (~75%) will bring about the phase change of surface liquid water to atmospheric water vapour. The energy for this phase change must come from the surface water, with an expenditure of around 580 calories of energy for every gram of liquid that is converted into vapour. The surface water must thus undergo a cooling to accomplish this phase change.

Therefore, increases in anthropogenic CO2 have brought about a small (about 0.8%) speeding up of the globe’s hydrologic cycle, leading to more precipitation, and to relatively little global temperature increase. Therefore, greenhouse gases are indeed playing an important role in altering the globe’s climate, but they are doing so primarily by increasing the speed of the hydrologic cycle as opposed to increasing global temperature.

Figure 9: Two contrasting views of the effects of how the continuous intensification of deep
cumulus convection would act to alter radiation flux to space.
The top (bottom) diagram represents a net increase (decrease) in radiation to space

Tropical Clouds Energy Control Mechanism

It is my hypothesis that the increase in global precipitation primarily arises from an increase in deep tropical cumulonimbus (Cb) convection. The typical enhancement of rainfall and updraft motion in these areas together act to increase the return flow mass subsidence in the surrounding broader clear and partly cloudy regions. The upper diagram in Figure 9 illustrates the increasing extra mass flow return subsidence associated with increasing depth and intensity of cumulus convection. Rainfall increases typically cause an overall reduction of specific humidity (q) and relative humidity (RH) in the upper tropospheric levels of the broader scale surrounding convective subsidence regions. This leads to a net enhancement of radiation flux to space due to a lowering of the upper-level emission level. This viewpoint contrasts with the position in GCMs, which suggest that an increase in deep convection will increase upper-level water vapour.

Figure 10: Conceptual model of typical variations of IR, albedo and net (IR + albedo) associated with three different areas of rain and cloud for periods of increased precipitation.

The albedo enhancement over the cloud–rain areas tends to increase the net (IR + albedo) radiation energy to space more than the weak suppression of (IR + albedo) in the clear areas. Near-neutral conditions prevail in the partly cloudy areas. The bottom diagram of Figure 9 illustrates how, in GCMs, Cb convection erroneously increases upper tropospheric moisture. Based on reanalysis data (Table 1, Figure 8) this is not observed in the real atmosphere.

Ocean Overturning Circulation Drives Warming Last Century

A slowing down of the global ocean’s MOC is the likely cause of most of the global warming that has been observed since the latter part of the 19th century.15 I hypothesize that shorter multi-decadal changes in the MOC16 are responsible for the more recent global warming periods between 1910–1940 and 1975–1998 and the global warming hiatus periods between 1945–1975 and 2000–2013.

Figure 12: The effect of strong and weak Atlantic THC. Idealized portrayal of the primary Atlantic Ocean upper ocean currents during strong and weak phases of the thermohaline circulation (THC)

Figure 13 shows the circulation features that typically accompany periods when the MOC is stronger than normal and when it is weaker than normal. In general, a strong MOC is associated with a warmer-than-normal North Atlantic, increased Atlantic hurricane activity, increased blocking action in both the North Atlantic and North Pacific and weaker westerlies in the mid-latitude Southern Hemisphere. There is more upwelling of cold water in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, and an increase in global rainfall of a few percent occurs. This causes the global surface temperatures to cool. The opposite occurs when the MOC is weaker than normal.

The average strength of the MOC over the last 150 years has likely been below the multimillennium average, and that is the primary reason we have seen this long-term global warming since the late 19th century. The globe appears to be rebounding from the conditions of the Little Ice Age to conditions that were typical of the earlier ‘Medieval’ and ‘Roman’ warm periods.

Summary and Conclusions

The Earth is covered with 71% liquid water. Over the ocean surface, sub-saturated winds blow, forcing continuous surface evaporation. Observations and energy budget analyses indicate that the surface of the globe is losing about 80 W/m2 of energy from the global surface evaporation process. This evaporation energy loss is needed as part of the process of balancing the surface’s absorption of large amounts of incoming solar energy. Variations in the strength of the globe’s hydrologic cycle are the way that the global climate is regulated. The stronger the hydrologic cycle, the more surface evaporation cooling occurs, and greater the globe’s IR flux to space. The globe’s surface cools when the hydrologic cycle is stronger than average and warms when the hydrologic cycle is weaker than normal. The strength of the hydrologic cycle is thus the primary regulator of the globe’s surface temperature. Variations in global precipitation are linked to long-term changes in the MOC (or THC).

I have proposed that any additional warming from an increase in CO2 added to the atmosphere is offset by an increase in surface evaporation and increased precipitation (an increase in the water cycle). My prediction seems to be supported by evidence of upper tropospheric drying since 1979 and the increase in global precipitation seen in reanalysis data. I have shown that the additional heating that may be caused by an increase in CO2 results in a drying, not a moistening, of the upper troposphere, resulting in an increase of outgoing radiation to space, not a decrease as proposed by the most recent application of the greenhouse theory.

Deficiencies in the ability of GCMs to adequately represent variations in global cloudiness, the water cycle, the carbon cycle, long-term changes in deep-ocean circulation, and other important mechanisms that control the climate reduce our confidence in the ability of these models to adequately forecast future global temperatures. It seems that the models do not correctly handle what happens to the added energy from CO2 IR blocking.

Figure 13: Effect of changes in MOC: top, strong MOC; bottom weak MOC. SLP: sea level pressure; SST, sea surface temperature.

Solar variations, sunspots, volcanic eruptions and cosmic ray changes are energy-wise too small to play a significant role in the large energy changes that occur during important multi-decadal and multi-century temperature changes. It is the Earth’s internal fluctuations that are the most important cause of climate and temperature change. These internal fluctuations are driven primarily by deep multi-decadal and multi-century ocean circulation changes, of which naturally varying upper-ocean salinity content is hypothesized to be the primary driving mechanism. Salinity controls ocean density at cold temperatures and at high latitudes where the potential deep-water formation sites of the THC and SAS are located. North Atlantic upper ocean salinity changes are brought about by both multi-decadal and multi-century induced North Atlantic salinity variability.


The main point from Bill Gray was nicely summarized in a previous post Earth Climate Layers

The most fundamental of the many fatal mathematical flaws in the IPCC related modelling of atmospheric energy dynamics is to start with the impact of CO2 and assume water vapour as a dependent ‘forcing’.  This has the tail trying to wag the dog. The impact of CO2 should be treated as a perturbation of the water cycle. When this is done, its effect is negligible. — Dr. Dai Davies


Arctic Ice May 11


Sea Ice Thickness and Volume from DMI. H/T NoTricksZone

In May, ice extents are declining as usual, except for the early melting in Bering Sea.  The image above from DMI shows widespread thick ice across the Arctic core, likely to melt more slowly.  The graph above shows how much volume was added since March 2018, bringing it close to 2014, a particularly icy year.

The graph below shows how the Arctic extent from MASIE has faired the last 26 days up to yesterday, compared to the 11 year average and to some years of interest.
Note that 2017 is now matching the 11-year average, while 2018 and 2007 are tied ~360k km2 below average.  SII 2018 is tracking ~250k km2 lower at this point.  The graph below shows 2018 ice extents are matching the 11 year average once Bering and Okhotsk are excluded from the calculations.
NHday131less BO

The table shows regional ice extents compared to average and 2017.

Region 2018131 Day 131 
2018-Ave. 2017131 2018-2017
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 12701360 13058129 -356769 13075378 -374017
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070445 1047690 22755 1059451 10994
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 890598 950844 -60246 938716 -48117
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087048 1083143 3906 1073762 13286
 (4) Laptev_Sea 896588 889502 7087 897845 -1256
 (5) Kara_Sea 925975 903277 22698 929156 -3182
 (6) Barents_Sea 530424 452492 77931 505439 24984
 (7) Greenland_Sea 460748 638101 -177353 710167 -249419
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1264692 1146815 117877 1312382 -47690
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 853109 844456 8653 851119 1990
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1255514 1207449 48065 1247480 8034
 (11) Central_Arctic 3173427 3233754 -60327 3248013 -74586
 (12) Bering_Sea 37974 412141 -374167 136049 -98075
 (13) Baltic_Sea 16848 9483 7365 11830 5018
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 236246 236354 -108 152156 84090

Note the Bering accounts for the 2018 deficit to average.  Chukchi and Greenland Seas are down somewhat, but offset by  surpluses in Baffin Bay, Barents and Hudson Bay.  Compared to last year, the Bering deficit is much less, but Greenland Sea difference is much greater.

The Pacific basins of Bering and Okhotsk are the first to lose ice, and it will be interesting to see how the core Arctic Seas hold up this summer.  Barents is still up, but less dramatically than in April.  Chukchi is starting to open up, perhaps influenced by Bering.

Carbon Tax Hypocrisy, BC for example

BC Carbon Tax had little effect on emissions.

The Carbon Tax experiment in British Columbia is summarized by Kris Sims, the B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.  He writes in the Financial Post
B.C. tricked Canadian politicians into believing its carbon tax policy works. It doesn’t.  Excerpts below in italics with my bolds.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government gets set to force a federal carbon tax on all of Canada’s provinces and territories, taxpayers across the country deserve to know what happened in the country’s carbon-tax test case, British Columbia.

The Trojan horse of the carbon tax was wheeled into the B.C. public square in 2008 with the government’s promise that it would somehow cost average people nothing and would be “revenue neutral.” But, that turned out to be a cautionary tale for the ages.

Revenue Neutral? Hah.

For years, the carbon-tax cheerleaders continued to laud the fee that’s been tacked on to carbon-emitting goods and services, urging the rest of the country to follow suit. It was touted as a magical formula that would somehow protect the environment and lower taxes all at once. Visions of hydrogen-powered buses and solar cars danced in the heads of the green bean counters. “Revenue neutral” they all sang.

Before the charade was abandoned entirely, this is what “revenue neutral” meant for the B.C. carbon tax: In 2016–17 the provincial government raked in $1.2 billion in the carbon tax from taxpayers. The amount is listed on page 68 in the budget document as a frame entitled: “Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax Plan.” Then, the government scraped together 17 sundry tax credits and stuffed them into the carbon-tax frame, making the tax sum balance out to zero. Abracadabra: “revenue neutral.” That’s all it meant.

It was a crass puppet show. Every provincial and federal budget includes tax credits for things like home renovations, children’s fitness programs, film incentives, and business training tax credits. In B.C., however, there is an uncommon carbon tax taken from people, so these very common credits were just repackaged to make the tax appear neutral on paper. As a senior B.C. government official admitted during last year’s budget lockup, “this was always just an accounting exercise.”

Raising the Cost of Living

The carbon tax is not an accounting exercise for B.C. families. It’s an expensive reality for any Canadian subjected to it.

Under the federal formula at $35 per tonne, the carbon tax costs a lot of money at the gas station, approximately 8.55 cents per litre of gasoline with the GST tacked onto it, and 10.06 cents per litre for diesel with the GST. To fill up an average Toyota Camry with a 70-litre fuel tank costs $6 in carbon tax. A Dodge Ram pick-up truck costs more than $10 in carbon tax and a Ford Super Duty Diesel costs more than $17 per fill up. For tractor-trailer trucks, it costs $45 in carbon taxes to fill up just one of those cylinder tanks with diesel. Canadians bought more than 40 billion litres of gasoline and more than 16 billion litres of diesel fuel in 2016. Multiply that volume by the carbon tax per litre and the government haul is crystal clear.

(Note: My spreadsheet shows 5 Billion dollars in tax for 2016, had those rates been in effect across Canada.  In the years 2008 to 2014, BC alone took in 5 Billion $ in carbon tax revenues.  At the current (since 2012) $30/ton rate, BC carbon tax revenues are projected to be $1.2 Billion per year.)

BC Emissions Higher Than Ever

It gets worse, though, because even with the carbon tax costing Canadians billions of dollars, it’s still not reducing emissions, according to environmentalists leading the carbon-tax charge. In January, the Sierra Club reported on the B.C. experiment: “emissions were higher in 2015 than in 2010 and have risen in four of the last five years. B.C.’s latest emissions data mark years of failure to reduce emissions by more than a token amount.” If taking billions of dollars away from Canadians doesn’t reduce emissions, then, what is the point of this forced carbon tax?

Carbon Tax Not Stopping Emissions? Raise the Ante.

When the forced federal carbon tax is set at $50 per tonne in 2022, that means that gasoline will have a carbon tax of 11.63 cents per litre. Will that be enough? Not according to the Environment Canada bureaucrats who told Environment Minister Catherine McKenna that the country needs a carbon tax of $100 per tonne by 2020 and a tax of $300 per tonne by 2050 to meet the government’s promises under the Paris climate agreement. That would be 23 cents per litre on gas in 2020 and then 70 cents per litre by 2050 — about $50 extra in today’s money to fill up the family sedan.

A Tax Against Life As We Know It

People need to use oil and gas. The carbon tax doesn’t make people “reduce their use” of this modern lifeblood, it just costs them a lot of money while not stopping the emissions. Our economy and our modern way of life depend on oil and gas. We use them to run our power stations, till our soil, plant our food, mine our minerals, mill our wood, heat our greenhouses, manufacture all of our goods and haul those goods and food to market.

We use oil and gas products to travel to school, work and the beach. Planes, automobiles and transit buses all use oil and gas, and they were manufactured and shipped to us using oil and gas. All of these actions of everyday life depend upon the miracle of hydrocarbons, so, the carbon tax is a tax on everything.

Carbon taxes don’t just make gasoline more expensive, they make life much more expensive.

Apr. 2018 Ocean Cooling Delayed


The best context for understanding decadal temperature changes comes from the world’s sea surface temperatures (SST), for several reasons:

  • The ocean covers 71% of the globe and drives average temperatures;
  • SSTs have a constant water content, (unlike air temperatures), so give a better reading of heat content variations;
  • A major El Nino was the dominant climate feature in recent years.

HadSST is generally regarded as the best of the global SST data sets, and so the temperature story here comes from that source, the latest version being HadSST3.  More on what distinguishes HadSST3 from other SST products at the end.

The Current Context

The chart below shows SST monthly anomalies as reported in HadSST3 starting in 2015 through April 2018.


A global cooling pattern has persisted, seen clearly in the Tropics since its peak in 2016, joined by NH and SH dropping since last August. Upward bumps occurred last October, in January and again in March and April 2018.  Four months of 2018 now show slight warming since the low point of December 2017, led by steadily rising NH.  Only the Tropics are showing temps the lowest in this time frame, despite an anomaly rise of 0.14 in April. Globally, and in both hemispheres anomalies closely match April 2015.

Note that higher temps in 2015 and 2016 were first of all due to a sharp rise in Tropical SST, beginning in March 2015, peaking in January 2016, and steadily declining back below its beginning level. Secondly, the Northern Hemisphere added three bumps on the shoulders of Tropical warming, with peaks in August of each year. Also, note that the global release of heat was not dramatic, due to the Southern Hemisphere offsetting the Northern one.

With ocean temps positioned the same as three years ago, we can only wait and see whether the previous cycle will repeat or something different appears.  As the analysis belows shows, the North Atlantic has been the wild card bringing warming this decade, and cooling will depend upon a phase shift in that region.

A longer view of SSTs

The graph below  is noisy, but the density is needed to see the seasonal patterns in the oceanic fluctuations.  Previous posts focused on the rise and fall of the last El Nino starting in 2015.  This post adds a longer view, encompassing the significant 1998 El Nino and since.  The color schemes are retained for Global, Tropics, NH and SH anomalies.  Despite the longer time frame, I have kept the monthly data (rather than yearly averages) because of interesting shifts between January and July.


Open image in new tab for sharper detail.

1995 is a reasonable starting point prior to the first El Nino.  The sharp Tropical rise peaking in 1998 is dominant in the record, starting Jan. ’97 to pull up SSTs uniformly before returning to the same level Jan. ’99.  For the next 2 years, the Tropics stayed down, and the world’s oceans held steady around 0.2C above 1961 to 1990 average.

Then comes a steady rise over two years to a lesser peak Jan. 2003, but again uniformly pulling all oceans up around 0.4C.  Something changes at this point, with more hemispheric divergence than before. Over the 4 years until Jan 2007, the Tropics go through ups and downs, NH a series of ups and SH mostly downs.  As a result the Global average fluctuates around that same 0.4C, which also turns out to be the average for the entire record since 1995.

2007 stands out with a sharp drop in temperatures so that Jan.08 matches the low in Jan. ’99, but starting from a lower high. The oceans all decline as well, until temps build peaking in 2010.

Now again a different pattern appears.  The Tropics cool sharply to Jan 11, then rise steadily for 4 years to Jan 15, at which point the most recent major El Nino takes off.  But this time in contrast to ’97-’99, the Northern Hemisphere produces peaks every summer pulling up the Global average.  In fact, these NH peaks appear every July starting in 2003, growing stronger to produce 3 massive highs in 2014, 15 and 16, with July 2017 only slightly lower.  Note also that starting in 2014 SH plays a moderating role, offsetting the NH warming pulses. (Note: these are high anomalies on top of the highest absolute temps in the NH.)

What to make of all this? The patterns suggest that in addition to El Ninos in the Pacific driving the Tropic SSTs, something else is going on in the NH.  The obvious culprit is the North Atlantic, since I have seen this sort of pulsing before.  After reading some papers by David Dilley, I confirmed his observation of Atlantic pulses into the Arctic every 8 to 10 years as shown by this graph:

The data is annual averages of absolute SSTs measured in the North Atlantic.  The significance of the pulses for weather forecasting is discussed in AMO: Atlantic Climate Pulse

But the peaks coming nearly every July in HadSST require a different picture.  Let’s look at August, the hottest month in the North Atlantic from the Kaplan dataset.Now the regime shift appears clearly. Starting with 2003, seven times the August average has exceeded 23.6C, a level that prior to ’98 registered only once before, in 1937.  And other recent years were all greater than 23.4C.


The oceans are driving the warming this century.  SSTs took a step up with the 1998 El Nino and have stayed there with help from the North Atlantic, and more recently the Pacific northern “Blob.”  The ocean surfaces are releasing a lot of energy, warming the air, but eventually will have a cooling effect.  The decline after 1937 was rapid by comparison, so one wonders: How long can the oceans keep this up?

To paraphrase the wheel of fortune carnival barker:  “Down and down she goes, where she stops nobody knows.”  As this month shows, nature moves in cycles, not straight lines, and human forecasts and projections are tenuous at best.



In the most recent GWPF 2017 State of the Climate report, Dr. Humlum made this observation:

“It is instructive to consider the variation of the annual change rate of atmospheric CO2 together with the annual change rates for the global air temperature and global sea surface temperature (Figure 16). All three change rates clearly vary in concert, but with sea surface temperature rates leading the global temperature rates by a few months and atmospheric CO2 rates lagging 11–12 months behind the sea surface temperature rates.”

Footnote: Why Rely on HadSST3

HadSST3 is distinguished from other SST products because HadCRU (Hadley Climatic Research Unit) does not engage in SST interpolation, i.e. infilling estimated anomalies into grid cells lacking sufficient sampling in a given month. From reading the documentation and from queries to Met Office, this is their procedure.

HadSST3 imports data from gridcells containing ocean, excluding land cells. From past records, they have calculated daily and monthly average readings for each grid cell for the period 1961 to 1990. Those temperatures form the baseline from which anomalies are calculated.

In a given month, each gridcell with sufficient sampling is averaged for the month and then the baseline value for that cell and that month is subtracted, resulting in the monthly anomaly for that cell. All cells with monthly anomalies are averaged to produce global, hemispheric and tropical anomalies for the month, based on the cells in those locations. For example, Tropics averages include ocean grid cells lying between latitudes 20N and 20S.

Gridcells lacking sufficient sampling that month are left out of the averaging, and the uncertainty from such missing data is estimated. IMO that is more reasonable than inventing data to infill. And it seems that the Global Drifter Array displayed in the top image is providing more uniform coverage of the oceans than in the past.


USS Pearl Harbor deploys Global Drifter Buoys in Pacific Ocean


Plateau in Ocean Air Temps

Years ago, Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. explained why sea surface temperatures (SST) were the best indicator of heat content gained or lost from earth’s climate system.  Enthalpy is the thermodynamic term for total heat content in a system, and humidity differences in air parcels affect enthalpy.  Measuring water temperature directly avoids distorted impressions from air measurements.  In addition, ocean covers 71% of the planet surface and thus dominates surface temperature estimates.

More recently, Dr. Ole Humlum reported from his research that air temperatures lag 2-3 months behind changes in SST.  He also observed that changes in CO2 atmospheric concentrations lag behind SST by 11-12 months.  This latter point is addressed in a previous post Who to Blame for Rising CO2?

The April update to HadSST3 will appear later this month, but in the meantime we can look at lower troposphere temperatures (TLT) from UAHv.6 which are already posted for April. The temperature record is derived from microwave sounding units (MSU) on board satellites like the one pictured above.

The UAH dataset includes temperature results for air above the oceans, and thus should be most comparable to the SSTs. The graph below shows monthly anomalies for ocean temps since January 2015.
The anomalies have reached the same levels as 2015.  Taking a longer view, we can look at the record since 1995, that year being an ENSO neutral year and thus a reasonable starting point for considering the past two decades.  On that basis we can see the plateau in ocean temps is persisting. Since last October all oceans have cooled, with upward bumps in Feb. 2018, now erased.

Monthly Ocean Anomalies
Ave. Since 1995 Ocean 4/2018
Global 0.13 0.11
NH 0.16 0.27
SH 0.11 -0.01
Tropics 0.12 -0.1

As of April 2018, global ocean temps are slightly below the average since 1995.  NH remains higher, but not enough to offset much lower temps in SH and Tropics (between 20N and 20S latitudes).

The details of UAH ocean temps are provided below.  The monthly data make for a noisy picture, but seasonal fluxes between January and July are important.

Click on image to enlarge.

The greater volatility of the Tropics is evident, leading the oceans through three major El Nino events during this period.  Note also the flat period between 7/1999 and 7/2009.  The 2010 El Nino was erased by La Nina in 2011 and 2012.  Then the record shows a fairly steady rise peaking in 2016, with strong support from warmer NH anomalies, before returning to the 22-year average.


TLTs include mixing above the oceans and probably some influence from nearby more volatile land temps.  They started the recent cooling later than SSTs from HadSST3, but are now showing the same pattern.  It seems obvious that despite the three El Ninos, their warming has not persisted, and without them it would probably have cooled since 1995.  Of course, the future has not yet been written.


Climate Answers Blowing in the Wind

The subtropical jet streams are weaker and higher in the atmosphere at 10-16 kilometers above sea level. Jet streams wander laterally in quite dramatic waves and can exhibit huge changes in altitude. Breaks in the tropopause at the Polar, Hadley and Ferrel circulation cells cause the streams to form. The combination of circulation and Coriolis forces acting on the cell masses drive the phenomenon. The Polar jet, being at a lower altitude, strongly affects weather and aviation. It is most often found between the latitudes of 30 degrees and 60 degrees, while you can find the subtropical jets at 30 degrees. A jet stream is generally a few hundred kilometers wide and only about 5 kilometers high.

Fundamental questions and unknowns concerning natural climate change are presented in this 2007 essay Challenges to Our Understanding of the General Circulation: Abrupt Climate Change by Richard Seager and David S. Battisti. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The abrupt climate changes that occurred during the last glaciation and deglaciation are mind boggling both in terms of rapidity and magnitude. That winters in the British Isles could switch between mild, wet ones very similar to today and ones in which winter temperatures dropped to as much as 20◦C below freezing, and do so in years to decades, is simply astounding. No state-of-the-art climate model, of the kind used to project future climate change within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change process, has ever produced a climate change like this.

The problem for dynamicists working in this area is that the period of instrumental observationsand model simulations of that period, do not provide even a hint that drastic climate reorganizations can occur.  Our understanding of the general circulation is based fundamentally on this period or, more correctly, on the last 50 years of it, a time of gradual climate change or, at best, more rapid changes of modest amplitude. So it is not surprising that our encyclopedia of knowledge of the general circulations contains many ideas of negative feedbacks between circulation features that may help explain climate variability but also stabilize the climate (Bjerknes 1964; Hazeleger et al. 2005; Shaffrey and Sutton 2004). The modern period has not been propitious for studying how the climate can run away to a new state. Because of this, our understanding has to be limited

The normal explanation of how such changes occurred is that deepwater formation in the Nordic Seas abruptly ceased or resumed forcing a change in ocean heat flux convergence and changes in sea ice. However, coupled GCMs only produce such rapid cessations in response to unrealistically large freshwater forcing and have not so far produced a rapid resumption.

The discussions of the spatial extent of abrupt climate changes in glacial times and during the last deglaciation should make it clear that the causes must be found in changes in the general circulations of the global, as opposed to regional, atmosphere and ocean circulation. The idea that the THC changes and directly impacts a small area of the globe, and that somehow most of the rest of the world piggy-backs along in a rather systematic and reliable way seems dubious.

Thus the problems posed by abrupt change in the North Atlantic region are:
1. How could sea ice extend so far south in winter during the stadials?
2. How, during the spring and summer of stadials, can there be such an enormous influx of heat as to melt the ice and warm the water below by close to 10◦C? If 50 m of water needs to be warmed up by this much in four months, it would take an average net surface heat flux of 150 Wm−2, more than twice the current average between early spring and midsummer and more than can be accounted for by any increase in summer solar irradiance (as during the Younger Dryas).
3. How can this stadial state of drastic seasonality abruptly shift into one similar to that of today with a highly maritime climate in western Europe? Remember that both states can exist in the presence of large ice sheets over North America and Scandinavia.

In thinking of ways to reduce the winter convergence of heat into the mid and high-latitude North Atlantic, we might begin with the storm tracks and mean atmosphere circulation. The Atlantic storm track and jet stream have a clear southwest-to-northeast trajectory, whereas the Pacific ones are more zonal over most of their longitudinal reach (Hoskins and Valdes 1990). If the Atlantic storm track and jet could be induced to take a more zonal track, akin to its Pacific cousin, the North Atlantic would cool.

Here we have argued that the abrupt changes must involve more than changes in the North Atlantic Ocean circulation. In particular it is argued that the degree of winter cooling around the North Atlantic must be caused by a substantial change in the atmospheric circulation involving a great reduction of atmospheric heat transport into the region. Such a change could, possibly, be due to a switch to a regime of nearly zonal wind flow across the Atlantic, denying western Europe the warm advection within stationary waves that is the fundamental reason for why Europe’s winters are currently so mild. Such a change in wind regime would, presumably, also cause a change in the North Atlantic Ocean circulation as the poleward flow of warm, salty waters from the tropics into the Nordic Seas is diverted south by the change in wind stress curl. This would impact the location and strength of deep water formation and allow sea ice to expand south.

The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is is a largely atmospheric mode from fluctuations in the difference of atmospheric pressure at sea level (SLP) between the Icelandic low and the Azores high. Through fluctuations in the strength of the Icelandic low and the Azores high, it controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and location of storm tracks across the North Atlantic. It is part of the Arctic oscillation, and varies over time with no particular periodicity. Wikipedia

Recent Wind Research

A decade later we have further insight into the role of winds in climate change by means  of a paper discussed in this Futurity article Wind shifts may explain Europe’s ‘weird’ winters  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

In the mid-1990s, scientists assembled the first century-long record of North Atlantic sea surface temperatures and quickly discovered a cycle of heating and cooling at the surface of the ocean. Each of these phases lasted for decades, even as temperatures warmed overall during the course of the century. Since this discovery, these fluctuations in ocean temperature have been linked to all manner of Northern Hemisphere climate disturbances, from Sahel drought to North Atlantic hurricanes.

Research also linked European climate variability to the temperature swings of its neighboring ocean in the spring, summer, and fall. Surprisingly, however, no imprint of the ocean’s variability could be found in Western Europe’s wintertime temperature record. This absence was especially puzzling in light of the fact that Europe’s mild winters are a direct consequence of its enviable location downwind of the North Atlantic.

Now, a study by researchers at McGill University and the University of Rhode Island suggests the answer to this puzzle lies in the winds themselves. The fluctuations in ocean temperature are accompanied by shifts in the winds. These wind shifts mean that air arrives in Western Europe via very different pathways in decades when the surface of the North Atlantic is warm, compared to decades when it is cool.

(a) Time series of the linearly detrended North Atlantic SST (black lines, referred to as the AMO index) and SAT averaged over western Europe ([36N 60N] × [10W 3E]; shown in coloured lines) in July (top panel) and January (bottom panel). Bold lines show 10-year running means. The correlation coefficient between the 10-year running mean of the detrended SAT and AMO index is 0.61 in July (statistically significant at 10% confidence level even after accounting for the reduced effective degrees of freedom due to autocorrelation of the time series) and −0.02 in January; these correlations are insensitive to the averaging region chosen for western Europe. The red circles on January plot indicate the AMO-positive years chosen for the composite analysis, whereas the blue circles indicate the AMO-negative years chosen. (b) Study region encompassing western Europe ([36N 60N] × [10W 3E]) and locations for the backtracked Lagrangian particle release (black squares).

The researchers studied the winds and their interaction with the ocean in a recently developed reconstruction of 20th-century climate. Their main approach was to launch virtual particles into the winds, and trace their journey for ten key days leading up to their arrival in Western Europe. They repeated this procedure using the wind field for each winter of the last 72 years, a period for which the winds of the North Atlantic have already been carefully documented and validated.

The new research reveals that in decades in which North Atlantic sea surface temperatures are elevated, winds deliver air to Europe disproportionately from the north.

In contrast, in decades of coolest sea surface temperature, swifter winds extract more heat from the western and central Atlantic before arriving in Europe. The researchers suggest the distinct atmospheric pathways hide the ocean oscillation from Europe in winter.

“It is often presumed that the cooler North Atlantic will quickly lead to cooling in Europe, or at least a slowdown in its rate of warming,” says Ayako Yamamoto, a PhD student at McGill University and lead author of the study. “But our research suggests that the dynamics of the atmosphere might stop this relative cooling from showing up in Europe in winter in the decades following an Atlantic cooling.”

The complete paper is The absence of an Atlantic imprint on the multidecadal variability of wintertime European temperature by Ayako Yamamoto & Jaime B. Palter Nature Communications (2016). Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Figure 2: The spatial pattern of the AMO index and its relationship with the atmospheric flow in January. Composite maps of (a) sea surface temperature (SST) field and (b) 500 hPa geopotential height field (Z500) for AMO anomalously positive years (left panel) and negative years (right panel). The January mean field is shown in contours, and its departure from the 72-year climatology is represented by colour shading. The thick grey contour line in a denotes 0 °C, whereas thin (dashed) lines denote positive (negative) SST every 5 °C. The black dashed lines in b are drawn through the local maxima of the geopotential height field at each latitude, which is the point where the wind changes direction from south–westerly to north–westerly.

The large-scale atmospheric flow varies with the AMO index (Fig. 2b). The difference in the 500-hPa geopotential height (Z500) field, which is analogous to streamlines, shows that the direction of winds arriving in western Europe changes between the two AMO phases: winds are more northerly during the anomalous AMO-positive years, whereas they are more zonal during the AMO-negative years (Fig. 2b). The more tightly spaced isohypses during the AMO-negative years indicate a swifter flow relative to the AMO-positive years. Accordingly, the AMO-negative years see an elongated and more zonal January storm track (Supplementary Fig. 1), which is consistent with results from a free-running climate model7. Composite Z500 maps constructed with more complete sampling of the longer decadal periods associated with the AMO show similar, albeit weaker, anomaly patterns (Supplementary Fig. 2a).

In winter in the North Atlantic, SST is almost always warmer than the surface air temperature (SAT), so the ocean loses heat rapidly to the atmosphere over the entirety of the basin (that is, positive fluxes in our convention; Fig. 3b and Supplementary Fig. 3b). The fluxes over the warm Gulf Stream and its North Atlantic Current extension are generally a factor of five higher than found elsewhere. However, a view of the fluxes weighted by the fraction of time the particles spend in each location on their journey to western Europe (Fig. 3c and Supplementary Fig. 3c) suggests a reduced role of these strong flux regions in establishing western European wintertime temperature.

The difference in the number density of the particle positions between the composite AMO periods (Fig. 3d) shows a significant distinction in the preferred pathways, with the statistical significance increasing when results are separated by particles launched from northern and southern sub-regions of western Europe (Supplementary Fig. 3d). In the AMO-positive years, particles spend more of their 10-day trajectory recirculating locally to the southwest of Iceland. During the AMO-negative years, the pathways are anomalously long, and a greater number of trajectories originate from North America and the Arctic, before transiting over the Labrador Sea and mid-latitude North Atlantic.

The strengthening and lengthening of the storm track in sync with anomalously cooler North Atlantic SSTs has important implications for future climate. Given that decadal variability in North Atlantic SSTs may be driven partly by fluctuations in the strength of the AMOC10,11,12, our result suggests the possibility of a stabilizing feedback for ocean circulation: Cooler SSTs associated with a sluggish AMOC is linked with an atmospheric adjustment that enhances turbulent heat fluxes over oceanic convective regions in winter. These larger fluxes could possibly reinvigorate convection, deep water formation and the AMOC. Moreover, the observed link of the atmospheric circulation with the cool SST anomalies of the late 1970s to early 1990s is much like the predicted change of the storm track in response to a decline of the AMOC under global warming36. A weakened AMOC has long been thought to cause anomalous cooling in western Europe via a decline in oceanic heat transport and associated atmospheric feedbacks21. However, the changes we describe here in atmospheric Lagrangian trajectories and the heat fluxes along them could provide a mechanism that reduces the magnitude of European wintertime cooling on decadal time scales, even as they might stabilize the oceanic circulation.

The answer is blowin’ in the wind.  Bob Dylan



Seeing What We Presume

This remarkable arrow was designed by a scientist specializing in optical illusions.  In this case, no matter what you do, you can not make your brain see anything other than an arrow pointing right.  The reason is your brain processes the patterns on the object with only that perception possible.

It is the creation of Professor Kokichi Sugihara at Meiji University in Tokyo.  Professor Sugihara has a long history of designing mind-bending objects.  The mathematician provides some complex equations in his paper explaining how such an illusion is possible, but all you really need to know is that the always-right arrow uses forced perspective to exploit your brain’s penchant for finding right angles where there aren’t any.  It may seem like magic, but it’s really just your brain being too efficient in its quest to make order out of chaos.

This is a fun example, but it reminds us of the climate wars where perception bias is also hardwired. And it reminds us that any observer adds a frame of reference on top of objective reality.

Is This Cold the New Normal?

The video is a recent interview with Piers Corbyn of Weather Action making the case for a cooling climate over the next twenty years.  H/T to iceagenow for the link.  I made a loose transcription to express the main points made by Corbyn.

The sun rules the sea temperature and the sea temperature rules the climate.

The truth is the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are beyond the control of man. And furthermore, the levels of CO2 themselves do not have any impact on climate.

All sides agree there are 50 times more CO2 in the ocean than in the air. The level between them and the saturation level in the atmosphere will be set by the ocean. Warm up the ocean a bit and more gas will come, cool it and more gas will be absorbed. Because oceanic CO2 is 50 times larger, anything man does to atmospheric levels does not matter. If man, or nature, or insects put more CO2 into the air, it will just go into the ocean, depending on the sea temperature. The equilibrium levels will follow Henry’s law of gas solubility.

What we have happening now is the start of a mini ice age. It began starting slowly around 2013, and the move is accelerating. In the immediate you can look at this winter and spring. We have had extreme snow, record low temperatures, all over the Northern Hemisphere.

The main thing is the wild jet stream signifying onset of a mini ice age. Instead of staying in a high north zonal position associated with a warmer world, the jet stream has gotten wavy and descended into mid latitudes and lower, because of minimal solar activity.

North of the jet stream is colder air, and warmer air south of it. Under normal springtime conditions, the jet stream remains well North of the British Isles meaning warmer weather there. However presently the jet stream is both lower and extra wavy, meaning that loops bring cold arctic air over parts of NH. This behavior contradicts global warming theory, but confirms expectations of a mini ice age.

The graph compares average solar activity in the last 200 years with solar activity ten magnetic cycles previous to now. The correlation is impressive. We are at the knee of this curve, plus or minus three or four years. If the correlation holds, we are plunging into a mini ice age. So for the next two decades until about 2035 it will get cooler and cooler on average and there will more wild jet streams and weather. Growing seasons will be shorter and crop failures more frequent, resulting in economic difficulties.

The basic message is that the sun is controlling the climate, primarily by the sea. “The best thing to do now is to tell your politicians to stop believing nonsense, and to stop doing silly measures like the bird-killing machines of wind farms in order to save the planet (they say), but get rid of all those things, which cost money, and reduce electricity prices now.”


This winter and spring are inconsistent with global warming assumed to result from CO2.  The wild jet stream (polar vortex) bringing these conditions does fit with solar activity fluxes.  If the correlation holds, the planet will cool not warm.  Governments would serve their citizens by shifting priorities from controlling emissions to ensuring robust infrastructure and reliable, affordable energy.

The sun on April 30, 2018. From spaceweather.com