Author Archive

Selvam: Universal Inverse Power Law Distribution for Indian Region Rainfall

2013 May 24 4 comments

Space-time fluctuations of meteorological parameters exhibit selfsimilar fractal fluctuations. Fractal space-time fluctuations are generic to dynamical systems in nature such as fluid flows, spread of diseases, heart beat pattern, etc. A general systems theory developed by the author predicts universal inverse power law form incorporating the golden mean for the fractal fluctuations. The model predicted distribution is in close agreement with observed fractal fluctuations of all size scales in the monthly total Indian region rainfall for the 141 year period 1871 to 2011.

Universal Inverse Power Law Distribution for Indian Region Rainfall
From: A. Mary Selvam
[v1] Fri, 3 May 2013 09:52:00 GMT (434kb)
arXiv:1305.1188 [physics.gen-ph]

The Gaussian probability distribution used widely for analysis and description of large data sets underestimates the probabilities of occurrence of extreme events such as stock market crashes, earthquakes, heavy rainfall, etc. The assumptions underlying the normal distribution such as fixed mean and standard deviation, independence of data, are not valid for real world fractal data sets exhibiting a scale-free power law distribution with fat tails (Selvam, 2009). There is now urgent need to incorporate newly identified fractal concepts in standard meteorological theory for realistic simulation and prediction of atmospheric flows.


Dear Dr Russell …

2013 May 23 Comments off

Dear Dr Russell,

First, congratulations on your recent analysis and observations regarding the recent interaction of the massive coronal mass emission and the thermosphere.

On the other hand, I am sure you must be aware by now how your comments regarding the event are being used to suggest that CO2 in the lower atmosphere does not act as a ‘global warming’ gas. For instance, this article …

Global warming debunked: NASA report verifies carbon dioxide actually cools atmosphere
Learn more:

Do you concur with the author’s conclusion that “The result was an overall cooling effect that completely contradicts claims made by NASA’s own climatology division that greenhouse gases are a cause of global warming. “

Thank you in advance for any response
Ron Broberg

Hi Ron,

Thanks for your question. There has been a widespread misconception about what was discussed in this web release and I welcome the chance to clarify what we said. Nothing could be further from the truth to say that “The result was an overall cooling effect that completely contradicts claims made by NASA’s own climatology division that greenhouse gases are a cause of global warming. “ The cooling due to CO2 being referred to in our web article occurs 60 to 155 miles above the surface of the earth (100s of kilometers in altitude). SABER is looking at the energy balance and climate of the upper atmosphere, not down at the surface. This atmospheric region has no effect on global warming in the lower atmosphere near the earth surface. The earth surface is heated by the sun and then cooled by infrared radiation being radiated back to space. CO2 in the lower atmosphere is a strong absorber of this radiation ( as is other greenhouse gases) and it radiates much of this radiation back to the earth surface causing the warming to occur. I liken CO2 in the lower atmosphere to a thick blanket that traps much of the radiated heat from the surface preventing it from escaping resulting in warming in the lower atmosphere. As altitude increases, the “blanket” gets thinner letting more radiation escape to space. In the 60 to 155 mile altitude range reported on in our article, the “blanket” is very thin letting most of the CO2 radiation escape to space causing the cooling we refer to.

So first, the observations we reported on have no bearing on the question of global warming due to the greenhouse gas CO2 and secondly, they do not in any way contradict statements made by NASA , the IPCC or other reputable groups studying climate change that CO2 increases lead to global warming.

I hope this response addresses your question, but if you wish more information, do not hesitate to contact me.


Jim Russell
SABER Principal Investigator

Courtney: Studying the Internal Ballistics of a Combustion Driven Potato Cannon using High-speed Video

2013 May 10 1 comment

Figure 2. Average velocity of cylindrical potato projectiles vs. barrel position for each experimental propellant.

A potato cannon was designed to accommodate several different experimental propellants and have a transparent barrel so the movement of the projectile could be recorded on high-speed video (at 2000 frames per second). Both combustion chamber and barrel were made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Five experimental propellants were tested: propane (C3H8), acetylene (C2H2), ethanol (C2H6O), methanol (CH4O), and butane (C4H10). The amount of each experimental propellant was calculated to approximate a stoichometric mixture and considering the Upper Flammability Limit (UFL) and the Lower Flammability Limit (LFL), which in turn were affected by the volume of the combustion chamber. Cylindrical projectiles were cut from raw potatoes so that there was an airtight fit, and each weighed 50 (+/- 0.5) grams. For each trial, position as a function of time was determined via frame by frame analysis. Five trials were taken for each experimental propellant and the results analyzed to compute velocity and acceleration as functions of time. Additional quantities including force on the potato and the pressure applied to the potato were also computed. For each experimental propellant, average velocity vs. barrel position curves were plotted. The most effective experimental propellant was defined as the one which accelerated the potato to the highest muzzle velocity. The experimental propellant acetylene performed the best on average (138.1 m/s), followed by methanol (48.2 m/s), butane (34.6 m/s), ethanol (33.3 m/s), and propane (27.9 m/s), respectively.

Studying the Internal Ballistics of a Combustion Driven Potato Cannon using High-speed Video
E.D.S. Courtney AND M.W. Courtney
1BTG Research, P.O. Box 62541, Colorado Springs, CO, 80962
United States Air Force Academy,
2354 Fairchild Drive, USAF

McKinnon: The spatial structure of the annual cycle in surface temperature: amplitude, phase, and Lagrangian history

2013 May 9 Comments off

Fig. 7. (a) Monthly temperature anomalies in the latitude band 45-50!N from the advection model driven by HYSPLIT trajectories versus observations. (b) The gain and lag of the modeled annual cycle in polar coordinates showing land (X’s) and ocean (O’s) boxes. Neighboring gridboxes are connected via a thin gray line. (c) The gain of the modeled annual cycle across longitude at 45-50!N using a zonal wind (gray) and with the inclusion of the HYSPLIT trajectory information (black), as compared to the observations (dashed). Land regions are indicated by shading. (d) Similar to (c) but for lag.

The climatological annual cycle in surface air temperature, defined by its amplitude and phase lag with respect to solar insolation, is one of the most familiar aspects of our climate system. Here, we identify three first-order features of the spatial structure of amplitude and phase lag and explain them using simple physical models. Amplitude and phase lag (1) are broadly consistent with a land and ocean end-member mixing model, but (2) exhibit overlap between land and ocean, and, despite this overlap, (3) show a systematically greater lag over ocean than land for a given amplitude. Based on previous work diagnosing relative ocean or land influence as an important control on the extratropical annual cycle, we use a Lagrangian trajectory model to quantify this influence as the weighted amount of time that an ensemble of air parcels has spent over ocean or land. This quantity explains 84% of the space-time variance in the extratropical annual cycle, as well as features (1) and (2). All three features can be explained using a simple energy balance model with land and ocean surfaces and an advecting atmosphere. This model explains 94% of the space-time variance of the annual cycle in an illustrative mid-latitude zonal band when incorporating the results of the trajectory model. The basic features of annual variability in surface air temperature thus appear to be explained by the coupling of land and ocean through mean atmospheric circulation.

The spatial structure of the annual cycle in surface temperature: amplitude, phase, and Lagrangian history
Karen A. McKinnon, Alexander R. Stine, and Peter Huybers
Journal of Climate 2013 ; e-View

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Lehner: Amplified inception of European Little Ice Age by sea ice-ocean-atmosphere feedbacks

2013 May 8 Comments off

Fig. 9. Schematic overview of the feedback loops associated with the Medieval Climate Anomaly-Little Ice Age transition: decreasing external forcing leads to increased sea ice in the Arctic, especially in the Barents Sea. Loop 1: this causes an increased Arctic sea ice export and subsequently an increased import of sea ice into the Labrador Sea. As this sea ice melts, it weakens the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which in turn reduces the Barents Sea inflow of warm waters, causing further sea ice growth. Loop 2: increased sea ice causes the Barents Sea to become fresher and less dense. Also, wind changes due to elevated sea level pressure (SLP) increase the sea surface height (SSH) in the Barents Sea. As a result of these two processes, the SSH gradient across the Barents Sea opening increases, further reducing the Barents Sea inflow and thereby supporting sea ice growth. Finally, the increased sea ice cover has a direct thermal effect, decreasing surface air temperatures over Northern Europe and an indirect effect by inducing elevated sea level pressure (SLP) that advects cold Arctic air towards Europe.
Amplified inception of European Little Ice Age by sea ice-ocean-atmosphere feedbacks

The inception of the Little Ice Age (~1400-1700 AD) is believed to have been driven by an interplay of external forcing and climate system-internal variability. While the hemispheric signal seems to have been dominated by solar irradiance and volcanic eruptions, the understanding of mechanisms shaping the climate on continental scale is less robust. In an ensemble of transient model simulations and a new type of sensitivity experiments with artificial sea ice growth we identify a sea ice-ocean-atmosphere feedback mechanism that amplifies the Little Ice Age cooling in the North Atlantic-European region and produces the temperature pattern suggested by paleoclimatic reconstructions. Initiated by increasing negative forcing, the Arctic sea ice substantially expands at the beginning of the Little Ice Age. The excess of sea ice is exported to the subpolar North Atlantic, where it melts, thereby weakening convection of the ocean. Consequently, northward ocean heat transport is reduced, reinforcing the expansion of the sea ice and the cooling of the Northern Hemisphere. In the Nordic Seas, sea surface height anomalies cause the oceanic recirculation to strengthen at the expense of the warm Barents Sea inflow, thereby further reinforcing sea ice growth. The absent ocean-atmosphere heat flux in the Barents Sea results in an amplified cooling over Northern Europe. The positive nature of this feedback mechanism enables sea ice to remain in an expanded state for decades up to a century, favoring sustained cold periods over Europe such as the Little Ice Age. Support for the feedback mechanism comes from recent proxy reconstructions around the Nordic Seas.

Amplified inception of European Little Ice Age by sea ice-ocean-atmosphere feedbacks
Flavio Lehner, Andreas Born, Christoph C. Raible, and Thomas F. Stocker
Journal of Climate 2013 ; e-View

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Wang and Zeng: Development of global hourly 0.5-degree land surface air temperature datasets

2013 May 7 8 comments

Figures extracted from a presentation at the AMS 25th Conference on Climate Variability and Change

Land surface air temperature (SAT) is one of the most important variables in weather and climate studies, and its diurnal cycle and day-to-day variation are also needed for a variety of applications. Global long-term hourly SAT observational data, however, do not exist. While such hourly products could be obtained from global reanalyses, they are strongly affected by model parameterizations and hence are found to be unrealistic in representing the SAT diurnal cycle (even after the monthly mean bias correction).

Global hourly 0.5-degree SAT datasets are developed here based on four reanalysis products [MERRA (1979-2009), ERA-40 (1958-2001), ERA-Interim (1979-2009), and NCEP/NCAR (1948-2009)] and the CRU TS3.10 data for 1948-2009. Our three-step adjustments include the spatial downscaling to 0.5-degree grid cells, the temporal interpolation from 6-hourly (in ERA-40 and NCEP/NCAR) to hourly using the MERRA hourly SAT climatology for each day (and the linear interpolation from 3-hourly in ERA-Interim to hourly), and the mean bias correction in both monthly mean maximum and minimum SAT using the CRU data.

The final products have exactly the same monthly maximum and minimum SAT as the CRU data, and perform well in comparison with in situ hourly measurements over six sites and with a regional daily SAT dataset over Europe. They agree with each other much better than the original reanalyses, and the spurious SAT jumps of reanalyses over some regions are also substantially eliminated. One of the uncertainties in our final products can be quantified by their differences in the true monthly mean (using 24 hourly values) and the monthly averaged diurnal cycle.

Development of global hourly 0.5-degree land surface air temperature datasets
Wang and Zeng
Journal of Climate 2013 ; e-View

Kapsch: Springtime atmospheric energy transport and the control of Arctic summer sea-ice extent

2013 May 6 Comments off

Figure S5: Radiative and turbulent flux anomalies at the surface for LIYs from
NCEP-DOE R2. The black line shows the sea-ice concentration (ERA-Interim reanalysis).
a, displayed is the net longwave radiation plus the turbulent fluxes (latent
and sensible; in red) and the net shortwave radiation (green). b, the radiative fluxes
are split into their components but only downwelling longwave (red) and shortwave
(green) radiation are shown together with the latent (dark blue) and sensible (light
blue) heat flux. All time series are based on daily anomalies of LIYs and averaged
over the area indicated by the red box in Supplementary Fig. 2. A 30-day runningmean
filter is applied to all time series.

Springtime atmospheric energy transport and the control of Arctic summer sea-ice extent

The summer sea-ice extent in the Arctic has decreased in recent decades, a feature that has become one of the most distinct signals of the continuing climate change1, 2, 3, 4. However, the inter-annual variability is large—the ice extent by the end of the summer varies by several million square kilometres from year to year5. The underlying processes driving this year-to-year variability are not well understood. Here we demonstrate that the greenhouse effect associated with clouds and water vapour in spring is crucial for the development of the sea ice during the subsequent months. In years where the end-of-summer sea-ice extent is well below normal, a significantly enhanced transport of humid air is evident during spring into the region where the ice retreat is encountered. This enhanced transport of humid air leads to an anomalous convergence of humidity, and to an increase of the cloudiness. The increase of the cloudiness and humidity results in an enhancement of the greenhouse effect. As a result, downward long-wave radiation at the surface is larger than usual in spring, which enhances the ice melt. In addition, the increase of clouds causes an increase of the reflection of incoming solar radiation. This leads to the counter-intuitive effect: for years with little sea ice in September, the downwelling short-wave radiation at the surface is smaller than usual. That is, the downwelling short-wave radiation is not responsible for the initiation of the ice anomaly but acts as an amplifying feedback once the melt is started.

Springtime atmospheric energy transport and the control of Arctic summer sea-ice extent
Marie-Luise Kapsch, Rune Grand Graversen & Michael Tjernström
Nature Climate Change