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More Evidence Water Vapor Is The Big Climate Kahuna

Thursday, June 14, 2018 8:16
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Given it’s the number one greenhouse gas (GHG), one would naturally think water vapor (WV) is the big powerhouse in global weather and climate.

It’s why I am a lone voice in the wilderness who supports Dr. John Cahir’s idea from year’s ago that the real metric to measure global warming is saturation mixing ratios.

Unfortunately, such an idea is about as popular as an outbreak of influenza with so many scientists pushing CO2-driven warming.

Why? Well, what is the number one source of thermal energy on the planet, with 99.9%? The oceans. What is the prime source of water vapor (and arguably CO2)? The oceans.

The recent Super El Nino sent an immense amount of water vapor into the pattern. I have already opined that this has a very long life as far as the effect on the planetary temperature goes because very tiny amounts of water vapor left over in the pattern have their biggest effect on the arctic temps in their cold season.

So, while the Earth’s temperatures, where it’s above freezing much of the time, return to normal, the amount of warmth left in the Arctic areas continue to skew the Earth’s temperatures.

It also leads to interesting other feedback aspects, which we have to deal with in forecasting. So, it is very important to us. But also understanding the source and those implications are important.

But the Super Nino and where we are now in the Arctic, and in fact, the entire state of the oceans, should make a big point,

Once again, as we see almost every year since the warming began, as we head into the warmest time of the year, the Arctic temps go below normal!

Daily mean temperature and climate north of the 80th parallel, as a function of the day of the year.

You can go to this site and go back and review what is going on:

You can see what I am talking about here. Notice the bulk of Antarctica in its winter is warm, while the Arctic has flipped to cold.

While the NCEP CFSR has the current temp at plus 185C vs the 30-year mean, if not for the major warmth over the Antarctic and again, remember how small it increased in WV when and where it’s very cold and dry really have a big effect on temperature, the rest of the planet is at average or below.

What is impressive is the amount of cold over northern Antarctica and over the water just to the north  That is not easy to do, Of the three continents in the southern hemisphere (south of the equator), only Australia is warm.

In any case, if we look at the saturation mixing ratio tables, what happens if extra water vapor (only very tiny amounts) get pushed into the Arctic.

Well, it’s going to snow more but it’s going to be warmer (more clouds) have to form.

January, in spite of all the warming, was still very cold. So, look what has been going on with snow in the past 30 years–green line. Not much change, but since the colder times (red line) it has INCREASED! What could the cause be? There has to be extra moisture (water vapor):

Now, look at July. Keep in mind that the temperate regions with more incoming solar are going to warm.

It has decreased in the last 50 years, but during the time of warming in the last 30, it has also flatlined. The biggest drop off was before the warming of the 80s to the late 90s.

After all, once it gets warm, it will get only so warm until a low point gets established. Again, the nature of heat. The higher the temp, the higher it is to push it higher; nature is always fighting back.

Now, let’s go back to those mixing ratios. In the Arctic summer, the mean temp is around 35 degrees. The difference in the saturation mixing ratio between 30 and 40 is almost 20x that of between -40 and -30.

What does that tell you about where and when water vapor affects temperatures more. It’s easy to understand why.

If you have higher amounts of WV where it’s very cold, it means more clouds, precip., etc. and higher temperatures.

But my argument here is (and again it’s based on Dr. Cahir’s argument), these very tiny increases because what looks to be a red paint bomb of death warming when that same increase in WV where people live means next to nothing.

But in my opinion, this Super Nino really offers us a great way to objectively figure out what the source is.

Because there is so much more water vapor put into the air in a super Nino than even a moderate one, that the leftover effects on temperatures where its very cold and dry may take years to wash out, and so you see the plateau after the super Nino as we saw after ’97-’98.

Is the increase of CO2 warming the ocean because of the radiative properties? Or are the state of the oceans a product of many things, the sun a primary driver?

Think of it this way: We have no mixing ratio charts temps vs CO2. Reduce CO2 by 25% vs reduce TSI by 25%. What do you think is going to happen?

But this is all very important to forecasting, going forward because we are dealing with a situation with decreasing solar vs the current state of the ocean.

We saw what low solar easterly QBO meant to the weather this winter with the MJO, so such things have to be confronted.

In the larger scale climate debate, I think the fight over the cause of the warming has to come down to the solar-science people vs the CO2 people because the argument has to be what is causing the oceans to be as warm as they are.

But the byproduct of that is more water vapor, which has a traceable known effect on temperature.

I would be a willing viewer of such a debate.  But at the very least, if you want to blame CO2, you have to contend with the big kahuna, water vapor.

Dr. Cahir, another one of my heroes, I think has the right idea. We are chasing the wrong thing in our attempt to quantify and understand the climate.

Joe Bastardi, a pioneer in extreme weather and long-range forecasting,  He has been in love with the weather since he was three and has a BS in meteorology from PSU and has been working every day since then in the field. He is the author of “The Climate Chronicle: Inconvenient Revelations You Won’t Hear From Al Gore — and Others.”


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