The Role Of Ozone In The Earth’s Climate
This is a guest post by Erl Happ
Back to Basics: An Atmospheric Primer For The UNIPCC
In the 1920’s the inventor of the Dobson Spectrometer designed to measure ozone in the atmosphere, Gordon Dobson, quickly discovered that total column ozone maps surface pressure. Low pressure cells generated in high latitudes have fewer molecules in the atmospheric column because the upper portion is ozone rich, ozone absorbs infrared radiation from the Earth and the upper air is therefore more rarefied. The reduction in density aloft fully, and in fact over-compensates, for the coldness and density of the air at the surface. By contrast High pressure cells are dense above and relatively less dense below because they originate in the warmer ozone poor mid latitudes.
The ozone content of the air varies on all time scales.
Because the distribution of ozone is a secondary determinant of atmospheric pressure (along with the absorption of radiant energy from the sun as the primary determinant) its distribution is allied to wind direction and surface temperature. When we emerge from our shelters in the morning there is a consistency in the temperature of the air according to the direction from which it blows. So, in a planet where temperature falls away from the equator to the pole wind direction is very strongly related to surface temperature. Secondly, ozone heating in the atmosphere determines cloud cover. If you are interested in the mechanism see: https://reality348.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/3-how-the-earth-warms-and-cools-naturally/
Clouds can curtail solar radiation by up to 90%.
You will look in vain for references to substantiate these assertions in the ‘peer reviewed’ works of the UNIPCC or mainstream Government funded climate science. What is being described herein is the source of natural climate variation. This subject is of little interest to those whose careers depend upon government funding. Those who promote the idea that climate change is a one way trip to the fires of Hell via a response to carbon dioxide have tapped into a generous flow of nutrient from the tax-payers breast and do not to want to jeopardise that flow. If they were to suggest that observed climate change is the product of a natural process to do with the evolution of ozone in the upper atmosphere funding would evaporate.
I am a man of independent means. Climate research is a sideline that is nevertheless very relevant to what I do as a farmer of grapes and wine. I am at liberty to call it as I see it. In this article I give you the story in the broad. For the nitty gritty details you must visit my blog, actually a book being presented chapter by chapter.
What I call the ozonosphere starts at the surface and extends to the limits of the mesosphere. So it takes in the troposphere, the stratosphere and the mesosphere. Surface climate is a response to the presence of ozone and its interaction with other atmospheric constituents as conditioned by the nature of radiation from the sun across the seasonal cycle.
Ozone is a potent absorber of the Earths radiation. We know it is a greenhouse gas. Uniquely, as a greenhouse gases it is not uniformly distributed. It is for this reason that it becomes a climate driver.
Ozone’s ability to absorb radiation increases with air pressure. It begins to attenuate the lapse rate in the mid latitudes well below the tropopause. The warming effect is greatest in the lower atmosphere and diminishes with altitude. Despite ever diminishing efficiency in its warming ability as altitude increases, it is ozone that is responsible for the temperature of the stratosphere. It warms primarily by absorption of infrared, the supply of energy from the infrared source (emanating from the Earth itself) being much more substantial than that in the ultraviolet spectrum (a tiny fraction of the energy emitted by the sun). Ozone is present in higher concentration in higher latitudes and it is in higher latitudes, rather than at the equator, that the stratosphere is warmest.
Lowest surface atmospheric pressures are produced where there is a strong gradient in air density conducive to uplift. Ozone provides that density gradient in the horizontal dimension above 8 kilometres in elevation. The process of uplift draws in ozone rich air accelerating the rate of uplift and increasing the partial pressure of ozone in the air at 10 hPa where 99% of the atmosphere lies beneath. This process can be most readily observed over the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans in winter. A continuous chain of so called ‘cold core’ cyclones surrounds the Antarctic continent in both summer and winter. You can’t make cyclones if the core is cold. The warm core is aloft. In terms of wind speeds, Polar Cyclones are equivalent to Tropical Cyclones but high wind speed occurs at altitude rather than at the surface, and over a much larger area. The engine driving the global circulation is in high, not low latitudes because that is where, by virtue of ozone, the atmosphere can be most heavily energised. One manifestation is the Jet stream.
In that connection it can be remarked that there are three main modes of differential heating in the atmosphere, the first via contact with warm surfaces, the second via the release of latent heat and the third and by far the most vigorous, via ozone heating in high latitudes of the winter hemisphere.
As the angle of incidence of the sun falls away so does photolysis of ozone allowing the seasonal increase in ozone partial pressure in the winter hemisphere. The countervailing force that actively depletes ozone in the winter hemisphere is the establishment of a slowly descending, but highly influential tongue of mesospheric air that introduces NOx (for background see: http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/11/4645/2011/acp-11-4645-2011.pdf ) from the mesosphere. The tongue depletes ozone directly via a space occupying mode (it occupies the region of the polar cap and is itself low in ozone) and an erosive chemical mode (via its NOx content) due to mixing at its margins and the occasional wholesale displacement of vortex air into the air stream outside the vortex. The vortex is leaky. The strength of the polar vortex in Antarctica accounts for a relative deficiency in ozone south of the equator.
NOx from the troposphere erodes ozone in the stratosphere, particularly evident in tropical latitudes where strong uplift is driven by the release of latent heat of condensation. Similar effects occur in high latitudes. Tropospheric air is entrained in the stratospheric circulation when the seasonal increase in ozone creates strong uplift. In consequence, in the lower stratosphere in springtime NOx may be observed to be almost co-extensive in its distribution with ozone.
Strong gradients in air density give rise to winds resulting in the displacement of less dense air by air of greater density. Wind speeds vary with the steepness of the gradient in density. In general, in mid to high latitudes wind speeds increase with elevation. Above the 300hPa pressure level, an elevation of 8 kilometres, winds are more extreme over a much greater area than at the surface. About 30% of the atmosphere lies above the 300hPa pressure level encompassing all of what we are accustomed to call the stratosphere. But ozone exists in the troposphere. It is not possible for variations in air density in just 30% of the atmosphere to drive surface pressure. When we study lapse rates, we discover that ozone truncates the lapse rate of temperature with altitude well below what we call the tropopause and increasingly so in higher latitudes. At the poles the entire atmospheric column contains ozone and the air is accordingly warmer than the surface of the planet. To understand how climate evolves we have to comprehend the ‘ozonosphere’.
There is a strong horizontal component to the movement of the air in the ‘stratosphere’ but in winter there is an increasing tendency to the vertical. This is assisted by the ascent of the cold point to the upper limits of the stratosphere and strong heating associated with an increase in ozone partial pressure.
There is a marked gradient in ozone partial pressure across the polar vortex that manifests strongly in winter, with ozone rich air adjacent to cold, dense, ozone deficient mesospheric air inside of the vortex. Polar cyclones that transport near surface air to the top of the atmospheric column. The polar margin of this chain of cyclones gives rise to the polar arm of the Jet stream while its equatorial side constitutes the subtropical arm of the Jet Stream. Ascent throughout the atmospheric column near the poles is balanced by descent in the mid latitudes and over the pole itself. These are inseparable elements of the ‘weather sphere’. If we think the troposphere is the weather-sphere we miss the point entirely. We exclude the actual driver of the global circulation.
In the mid latitudes there is a strong gradient in air density between relatively cold surface air of polar origin that is rich in ozone aloft and relatively ozone deficient air in the mid latitude High Pressure cells. Whereas mid latitude High Pressure cells are warmer than Polar Cyclones at the surface the temperature relationship is reversed aloft. The resulting differences in air density that manifest above 500hPa give rise to the subtropical arm of the Jet stream.
The climate system is variable on all time scales because the polar vortex responds to change in surface pressure and surface pressure is a product of the system. In other words, an external influence can nudge the system into a contraction or expansionary phase that is self promoting. Climate modellers are master craftsmen in the nudging realm and will readily understand this dynamic. Economists will be familiar with the notion of the concept of pump priming in the hope that government spending or a reduction in the rate of interest charged by banks can stimulate private sector activity that is multiplied in its impact by comparison with the original stimulus. In the polar atmosphere there is a similar dynamic at work via the dependency of the flow of mesospheric air on surface pressure. It is only in winter that surface pressure climbs to the point necessary to support the descent of mesospheric air into the stratosphere but much more so in the Antarctic than the Arctic. This is a peculiarity of geography. The Eurasian land mass and the East Asian High in particular has prior rights to atmospheric mass in winter and it is only in northern spring that surface pressure peaks over the Arctic.
Speculatively, under the impact of the solar wind on the electromagnetic properties of the atmosphere this mechanism is capable of a gradual shift in atmospheric mass over a cycle that appears to be 80-100 years in length. At any rate, that is the sort of cycle length that is consistent with the change in atmospheric pressure in Antarctica.
SURFACE PRESSURE REFLECTS THE DISTRIBUTION OF ATMSOPHERIC MASS
[Corrections to the first two graphs – the green line should read 67-76, not 77-86]
In the Arctic surface pressure peaks in March, April and May with a secondary peak in October-November due to ozone heating in the southern hemisphere. Surface pressure is most variable in January and February. When we study surface air temperature we find it is most variable in January and February over the entire realm between the Arctic and 30° south latitude. See: https://reality348.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/8-volatility-in-temperature/
At the heart of the Antarctic continent, surface pressure peaks in mid winter. Surface pressure in mid winter has declined by about 10 hPa over the last seven decades reflecting a one way shift of atmospheric mass to other parts of the globe. Some loss of mass is apparent as low as 45° south latitude.
South of 30° south latitude surface temperature variability is greatest in July and August, the mid-winter months of the southern hemisphere. That timing coincides with a time of great variability in surface atmospheric pressure at 60-70° south latitude (where polar cyclones form) as seen below.
The timing of the surface temperature increase is like a heartbeat. The heart beats over the Arctic and the Antarctic. That rhythmic beat is due to the flux of ozone in the air and while the pulse rate does not vary in time the blood pressure certainly does.
On the margins of the Antarctic continent where the atmosphere is relatively rich in ozone (by comparison with the mesospheric core) there is a marked trough in surface pressure in October. Pressure has declined by 10 hPa over the period of record. A secondary peak in surface pressure in January is due to ozone heating in the northern hemisphere.
DRIVERS OF THE DISTRIBUTON OF ATMSOPHERIC MASS
The data in the two figures above informs us that the primary driver in the distribution of atmospheric mass is solar heating in summer. The secondary driver is the flux in ozone partial pressure at 60-70° south latitude. A tertiary and very much smaller driver is the flux in the ozone content of the air in the Arctic in winter. Why is the Arctic dominant in determining the short term flux surface temperature as far south as 30° south latitude? Because, so far as ozone is concerned the northern hemisphere is supercharged. Why is the Antarctic dominant in the long run? Because the shift is over a time scale of 80-100 years and it governs the base rate of ozone partial pressure across the entire ozonosphere. Using a sailing analogy, the Antarctic produces the big swells, the Arctic the surface chop.
There are local effects on pressure due to the presence of landmasses heating in summer, cooling in winter but the land masses don’t move in the scale of a human lifetime so this effect on surface pressure is climate neutral.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS ANALYSIS
The study of climate change as it manifests on an inter-annual and longer time scales requires a focus on atmospheric dynamics in high southern latitudes. These latitudes and the southern hemisphere in particular are the least studied part of the global atmosphere. With the advent of satellite technology it is now possible to come to grips with the engine driving climate change.
It is worth noting that changes that occur in the atmosphere and at the surface that are wrought by ozone can be greater in amplitude from one year to the next than the change that has occurred over the entire 68 years of the reanalysis record*.
The ENSO phenomenon is related to changes in atmospheric surface pressure. The High pressure zone in the South East Pacific that is the origin of the trades that flow across the Pacific is the most dynamically changeable part of the global atmosphere.
The first and second IPCC reports were issued prior to the reanalysis record becoming available. The IPCC made up its mind before it was in a position to examine and discover the engine of natural climate change that can explain the pattern of temperature variation that we see today, a pattern that is quite plainly a response to a radiation absorber that is most unevenly distributed, just like the pattern of surface temperature change, different according to latitude and time of the year.
Five subsequent reports have come from the IPCC and there is still no evidence, despite the ‘hiatus’ in the increase in global temperature, with no statistically significant increase in temperature since 1998, that the IPCC is aware, or willing to acknowledge, that natural, reversible agents of climate change are very likely wholly responsible for all of the observed change in surface temperature over the period of record.
It is ozone that is responsible for change in weather on all time scales via change in the global circulation of the air and in cloud cover. Until the IPCC can quantify the change due to ozone and separate out that part, if any, that is the response to greenhouse gases of anthropogenic origin the United Nations Organization is unworthy of our support.
As taxpayers and voters, we should withdraw support from governments that embrace this nonsense. The matter is now urgent. The global economy is teetering on the edge of collapse. Resources devoted to inappropriate ends are needed elsewhere. Developing societies, the great bulk of humanity, need cheap energy. So called ‘renewable’ energy sources need to account for capital costs and payback periods in the absence of support from the public purse. Income distribution is now as skewed as it was prior to 1929. The masses, the unwashed middle classes, the proletariat and a whole generation of young people who cannot find employment are on the edge of an abyss.
Nero fiddles while Rome burns.
*Kalnay.E and Coauthors,1996: The NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis 40-year Project. Bull.Amer. Meteor. Soc.
1st IPPC report 1990
2nd IPCC Report 1995
Erland (Erl) Happ lives in the south west of Western Australia where the wherewithal to make things, is not always at hand. As the son of a country storekeeper in a depressed mixed farming community Erl learnt to remove nails from fruit cases, straighten and re-apply. Release came via university training in social sciences at the expense of the State Education Department, ten years teaching, and careers as an owner builder, stoneware potter, grape farmer and wine maker including a brief stint in local government. In 1994, after fifteen years learning by doing, a site for grapes was selected on the basis of a close study of the factors responsible for the character of the grape on the day of picking. The origins of change in the weather is a matter of interest in Western Australia where winter rainfall invigorates a thin margin on the edge of an inordinate expanse of geologically Archean, hot, dry country. Erl’s research is self funded. His book on climate is appearing in serialized form at https://reality348.wordpress.com
Experience in recovering nails and bits of wire is formative. One looks at ‘government’ differently when you have to go cap in hand to ask permission to drive a few nails, dig a hole in the ground, plant a grape vine or cut down a tree.