Brrr…the Troposphere Is Ignoring Your SUV

October 30th, 2011 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

For those tracking the daily global temperature updates at the Discover website, you might have noticed the continuing drop this month in global temperatures. The mid-tropospheric AMSU channels are showing even cooler temperatures than we had at this date with the last (2008) La Nina. The following screen shot is for AMSU channel 6 (click for large version).

A check of the lower stratospheric channels (9, 10) suggests this is not a stratospheric effect bleeding over into the tropospheric channels.

With the current (and forecast to continue) stormy pattern over the U.S., I have to wonder whether the atmosphere is currently in a destabilized state. I doubt that surface temperatures anomalies are as anomalously low as the mid-troposphere temperatures are running, which in combination with anomalously cold mid- and upper-tropospheric temperatures means there is extra energy available for storms. (Since AMSR-E failed in early October, our sea surface temperature plot is no longer showing current data, so I have no easy way to check surface temperatures.)

Of course, this too shall pass. I just thought it was an interesting curiosity during a time when some pundits are claiming global warming is “accelerating”. Apparently, they are still stuck in the last millennium.


46 Responses to “Brrr…the Troposphere Is Ignoring Your SUV”

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  1. Stephen Wilde says:

    Roy, what are stratospheric temperatures doing at the moment ?

    I think that the stratosphere cools when the sun is active but warms when it is not.

    In other words to achieve the observed changes in surface pressure distribution it is necessary for the stratospheric and tropospheric temperature trends to go in opposite directions in response to changes in solar activity.

  2. Thanks Dr. Spencer. I don’t have an SUV, just a 4-cylinder engine, but thanks anyway. :-)

  3. Cristoph Schulz says:

    Quote:

    “While I have always cautioned people against reading too much into week-to-week changes in global average temperature …”

    Dr. Roy Spencer

  4. Bob Tisdale says:

    Roy: You wrote in the post, “The mid-tropospheric AMSU channels are showing even cooler temperatures than we had at this date with the last (2008) La Nina.”

    2011/12 is shaping up to be the second of a pair of back-to-back La Nina events, meaning 2010/11 was also a La Nina winter. So 2007/08 was not the last La Nina.

    Or are you discussing the autumns after La Nina events, because La Nina conditions did not exist in October 2008? You need to clarify.

    • yeah, you are probably right, Bob. I’m losing count of all of these La Nina’s…I’ll leave you to handle that.

      Hey, since Trenberth claims global warming causes more El Nino’s does this mean global warming is over now?

      • crakar24 says:

        Thanks for the laugh Dr Spencer.

        I believe if you want a true indication of the state of climate science it would be found with “BEST” and the behaviour of Muller. However i am sure Trenberth is rehearsing another speech full of gymnastic linguistics as i type.

        On a more serious note why do you think the temps are dropping? I read somewhere that if the sun goes quiet you get less UV A & B so less interaction (heat) with Ozone. If this is correct would this play a role or an i hopelessly wrong.

        Keep on asking difficult questions Dr.

        Regards

        Crakar24

  5. Noblesse Oblige says:

    My rip snorting 625 hp modified BMW X5M thanks you…and la Nina. Now out to get some gas.

  6. I hope they (the politicians around the world) have ordered enough grit and snow-ploughs to keep those SUVs on the roads – and I also think it is about time they start listening to you, and all the other guys who are actually keeping (and are willing to share) the data – the that matter.

  7. Bob Tisdale says:

    Roy: And Trenberth now says that La Nina events, through the resulting increase in downward shortwave radiation, cause ocean heat content to rise at depths greater than 300m at high latitudes. Curiously, everyone overlooks that–the fact that he’s saying an increase in La Nina-induced sunlight in the tropics causes OHC to rise at depth at high latitudes. Now if the NCAR CCSM4 were able to recreate the frequency and magnitude of ENSO events, they might get a feel for what actually caused the rise in Ocean Heat Content since 1955, and why it’s flattened in recent years.

    Regards

  8. Sun Spot says:

    What rise in Ocean Heat Content since 1955 ??

    “heat content to rise at depths greater than 300m at high latitudes”, pardon, are there some references for this ?

  9. Bob Tisdale says:

    Sun Spot says: “What rise in Ocean Heat Content since 1955 ??”

    Sun Spot, if I provide links here, my reply will get stuck in the spam filter, so I’ll include website addresses that you can copy and paste to your browser. For this question, refer to the NODC OHC data:
    http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/

    You asked, “’heat content to rise at depths greater than 300m at high latitudes’, pardon, are there some references for this ?”

    Refer to Trenberth’s quotes from the following post at Roger Pielke Sr’s blog:
    pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/candid-comments-from-global-warming-climate-scientists/

    His comment is based on the paper Meehl et al 2011, paywalled:
    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v1/n7/full/nclimate1229.html

  10. Bob Tisdale says:

    Isn’t that curious! My comment above only included website addresses but the website converted the two of them to links.

  11. Nothing is passing, this is a trend that has started since 2002 or so toward global cooling. This trend will continue if the sun can stay in a prolong solar minimum.

    Right now solar flux is around 133 or so ,my neutral range for temp. If solar flux drops back to 90 or less colder temp. are ahead. I am talking over the long haul.

    I say the solar flux readings will be the key in the long run as to where the temperatures go this decade. I dare anyone to prove me wrong.

  12. Vincent Guerrini PhD says:

    Dr Spencer the sea surface temps do not seems to be up to date or on the graphic version anyway

  13. Charles Wadsack says:

    Why is it colder at 1o kilometers than it is at 40 kilometers?

  14. Natural_Philosopher says:

    Mr. Tisdale makes several statements of imputed fact that I find difficult to believe. Mankind had no accurate measure of the Earth’s Oceans until the Buoy system was implemented. Sporadic measurements were to extensive enough. Mr. Hansen has affirmed this and he was th the first to suggest doing a calorific investigation of the Oceasn’ heat content. But he agrees the data exsiting was uncertain.

    So how does Mr. Tisdale assert that the Ocean depths were warming from 1955? I can see whence the data comes that the Oceansexisting are noOceanst warming now, and maybe be cooling from the Buoy system. That assertion removes heat from the Oceans and by Mr. Hansen’s own assertions calorimetrically condemn CAGW, as utter drivel and nonsense.

    Regarding Mr. Muller. If you take erroneous or biased data and simply re-plot it, as Mr. Muller has done, it will regenerate the same garbage results. As they say: “GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT”

  15. Natural_Philosopher says:

    Please excuse the missing spell checking.

    Mr. Tisdale makes several statements of imputed fact that I find difficult to believe. Mankind had no accurate measure of the Earth’s Oceans heat until the Buoy system was implemented. Sporadic measurements were NOT to extensive enough. Mr. Hansen has affirmed this, and he was the among the first to suggest doing a calorific investigation of the Ocean’s heat content. But he agreed the data existing was uncertain.

    So how does Mr. Tisdale assert that the Ocean depths were warming from 1955?

    I can see whence the data comes from the Ocean’s existing measurements that the Oceans are not warming now, and maybe be actuslly cooling, with data from the Buoy system. That assertion removes heat from the Oceans; and by Mr. Hansen’s own assertions calorimetrically condemn CAGW, as utter drivel and nonsense. CAGW heat is not being “stored up”, to emerger in an orgy of temperature rise. It also call into question Mr. Trendbert’s quixotic and Diogenic, search for the “missing heat”.

    Regarding Mr. Muller. If you take erroneous or biased data and simply re-plot it, as Mr. Muller has done, it will regenerate the same garbage results. As they say: “GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT”.

  16. Bob Tisdale says:

    Natural_Philosopher: The source observational data used to prepare the NODC OHC data is available through the NODC website, in their World Ocean database:
    http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/WOD/pr_wod.html

    Feel free to statistically evaluate the data and determine any errors associated with the NODC OHC data.

  17. Bill Hudson says:

    Bob:

    Have you seen another La Nina go down as sharply as shown today by NOAA? Have you seen one go down like this in Oct-Nov, as opposed I think more usually after Jan-Feb? I am trying to find an analog year for this leg of the “double-dip” that I can use looking at regional crop condition impacts, like the Jul-2010 Russian blocking event.

    Bill

  18. Bob Tisdale says:

    Bill Hudson: I’m not going to be much help to you. I assume you’re referring to the drop in the weekly NINO3.4 SST anomalies over the past week:
    i43.tinypic.com/j9385t.jpg

    The 2007/08 La Niña has significant weekly drops as well, but you’re dealing at a timeframe (weekly) in which the data is awfully noisy (and the 2007/08 La Niña was the first half of a double dip). With respect to double-dip La Niña events, they are a recent phenomenon. The 2007/08 and 2008/09 events were the only other ones since 1982…
    i44.tinypic.com/iyfxgk.jpg
    … though the 2008/09 event doesn’t qualify as an official La Niña. The ONI data…
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears.shtml
    …doesn’t show any double dip La Niña events before the recent ones.

    Has ENSO shifted into a new regime? Dunno.

  19. Joe Bastardi says:

    Thanks Roy for showing this. I have actually been tweeting this along with posting it on the weatherbell site as I think this drop is big news. And this time I did check the stratosphere as you suggested last time I brought this up with you.

    We could hit the sat record low for any day at 25k very soon

  20. crandles says:

    1974 for an analog for a double dip la Nina? MEI, ONI and SOI all seem to show a double dip.

  21. Ray says:

    The lowest AQUA CH5 temperature recorded since 2002 was 251.871k on January 14th, 2008.
    We have already had a temperature of 251.991k on January 6th this year and the latest temperature, on October 30th, was 252.196k.
    Normally the AQUA CH5 temperature bottoms out at about 252.17k in December, although last year, the low of 252.108k was reached on November 27th.
    We have now almost reached the low temperatures normally reached in November/December and it will be interesting to see if the fall temperatures continue to fall sufficiently to go below the 2008 figure.

  22. Bob Tisdale says:

    crandles: I guess it depends on your point of view. With the recent double dips, the NINO3.4 SST anomalies rise to “zero” between the first and second events. But during the 1993/74/95/76 La Nina, NINO3.4 SST anomalies remained well below “zero” the entire time, making it one long La Nina event.

  23. dh7fb says:

    Is the moderate LaNina ( actual ENSO3,4: -0,9K) the only reason? Since 25th of october we see the drop in tropospheric temperatures upto 0,17K below the 2-sigma value of the average 2002…2009. Since 10th of September the global tropospheric temperature droped 0,6K in 50 days against the average 2002…2009. See http://www.dh7fb.de/ninos/uah1011.gif .

    • Ogirdor says:

      maybe volcanic activity and clouds can explain these temperatures?

    • Scott says:

      I’m guessing the La Nina is only part of the story. IIRC, there is approximately a 5-month lag between the measured global mean temperature and ENSO effects. I’ve seen CAGW believers try to point to the current La Nina status to fully explain the relatively low temperatures, but none have responded when I mention the ~5-month lag.

      Personally, I think that looking at a few days here and there don’t tell us much…let’s see how this plays out over the next few months. If there really has been/is a lull in the warming, then I’d expect to see near record lows on AQUA frequently for the next few months considering that La Nina will start to more heavily influence the measured global mean temperature.

      -Scott

  24. And as the evidence ,( the mid troposheric atmospheric temperatures,la nina ,weak solar,increase in volcanic activity,cold pdo) keeps coming in, for global cooling, the global warmers stay in denial. They change their story constantly ,to try to make the current climatic situation fit in with their obsolete man mad co2 induced global warming theory.

    What a joke led by the WEATHER CHANNEL AND AL GORE.

  25. dh7fb says:

    Indeed no timelag ( or only 4 weeks?) between ENSO and UAH:
    http://www.dh7fb.de/ninos/uahenso.gif
    So let’s wait’n see what will happen until springtime 2012!

  26. Charles Wadsack says:

    I am assuming that my question I asked a few days ago must have been so basic that it was evident that I know nothing about climate science and that answering it was not worth the time of the “learned”. Well, I admit my ignorance, but it’s people like me that you guys need to be willing to spend a little time educating.

    • steiger says:

      charles, answer to your previous question is

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stratosphere#Ozone_and_temperature

  27. Mark says:

    Was Oct 30 the coldest day in the last 9 years?

  28. david says:

    Bob, according to Giese and Ray (JGR, 2011) we have. also, timing, location, depth, etc all play a roll in the strength of each ENSO event.

    On a different note El nino’s and la nina’s don’t cancel each other out on an event basis; (one of several arguments often used to dismiss ENSO’s effect on global temps). Simply use the ONI ENSO 3.4 data since 1950 and compute a running total.

    The running total would go to ~0 after each subsequent event if this event-based-canceling-out were the case. But, it doesn’t; instead it reaches a minim (-67.2) mid-1976 and almost zero (-0.4) in early 1998. After that, it has limbo-ed between -30 and ~0 since. I find this strikingly similar to the GST anomalies, which show a steady increase from ~1975 to late90s/early 2000s and have since remained flat, to almost decreasing (though not statistically significant).

    Putting the Giese and Ray paper into this perspective where they show an ~50-60yr cycle in El Nino’s, with a minimum around the 1940s-50s and peaking early 2000s, we can thus expect -as has been pointed out by many before- that we are entering a la nina dominated phase lasting over several decades. It will be very interesting to see how the GST anomalies respond to that.

    I am off the opinion that la nina and el nino are two different “monsters” that appear to be running parallel, but with their activity strengths/peaks and troughs not in sync: i.e. el nino activity-minimum ~1945, la nina activity-max ~1975, el nino max ~2000; la nina min ~2010, etc

  29. david says:

    ps: per definition the equatorial pacific is currently ENSO neutral and NOT in an official la nina (El Niño and La Niña episodes are defined when the threshold (0.5, -0.5c, respectively) is met for a minimum of 5 consecutive over-lapping seasons.) So far the latest data (JAS season) is -0.2. Thus, not until after February next year do we know if this will be an official la nina event or not.

    For example, see the 2008/2009 “la nina”, which never became officially a la nina since the anomalies never got below -0.5C for 5 consecutive months or more. This might well be the case for this “la nina” event. Time will tell!

  30. Tilo Reber says:

    Roy,

    We have a discussion going at Climate Audit about the amplification factor between surface temperature and TLT. Christy has published that the factor is 1.4. However, Gavin Schmidt claims that the factor should be .95 over land. Do you know anything about this?

  31. amblin says:

    Commenters cite reasons for why it should be cold (negative PDO, double dip La Nina, deep solar minimum). But why then did 2010 in UAH tie for warmest year on record with 1998, despite the 2010 El Nino being weaker than the 1998 one, despite the PDO switching to negative after 1998, and despite the low solar activity of 2010?

    And then we have this:
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/mean:3

    The 3 month running mean shows the last 3 months to be higher than 3 month periods during past El Ninos. Did the last 3 months coincide with an El Nino? No quite the opposite they coincide with La Nina conditions.

    In fact the only higher 3 month periods all occur during the 2010 and 1998 El Ninos.

    Not only that but notice the 2010 La Nina was over before it even began. It got quite low, but not as low as 2008 then temperatures just shot up.

    That’s 3 pieces of evidence in my book that the world is in a warmer state, not a cooler state than it was a few years ago. And if that warming has happened despite low solar activity, a PDO switch and a string of La Ninas, you got to worry what will happen when each of those factors reverse.

    I don’t think a few days of low data on a website where the values are prone to be in error counts for anything compared to the above 3 observations.

  32. jim says:

    It is information like that posted by “amblin” above that causes confusion for this non-climate scientist. From my reading – literature and posts here and elsewhere – it is clear there are a bunch of different data bases. And it appears that they provide data on different elements of the climate – I am still trying to get up to speed on the jargon. I simply can’t tell if we are comparing apples to apples.

    Assertions such as “amblin’s” need to be addressed. His is the same “logic” used in the main stream to support AGW. If the non-AGW position is to hold sway, those of us interested “lay” people need to see how the non-AGW position addresses positions such as that held by “amblin.” Because, if you can’t refute this, the strength of the non-AGW argument lessens. And the chaos of “I say – you say” is perpetuated.

    Anyone willing to help?

  33. david says:

    amblin,

    sorry to say but you put AGW in perspective with the last few months to a few years/decade, which is dishonest. First of all, there were ~30 years of warming (starting ~1975 to ~2000) and essentially no warming (~2000-current; yes although global temp anomalies were high they didn’t increase). Please read my previous posts and put those decades of warming and no-warming in perspective to decades of la nina and el nino dominated phases. In other terms, you can’t compare a few events with decades of temperature records. That’s comparing apples with oranges. You have to compare the same time-scales.

    Few tit-bits about your “logic”:

    You wrote: “Not only that but notice the 2010 La Nina was over before it even began. It got quite low, but not as low as 2008 then temperatures just shot up.” Excuse me but the 2010 la nina lasted officially 10 months, of which 3 months were at -1.4C (the lowest temp), averaging -1.1C. The 2008 la nina lasted officially for 9 months, of which 2 months were at -1.4C (the lowest temp), averaging -1.0C. Hence, your statement is wrong and incorrect. Clearly the 2010 lasted longer and was colder than 2008.

    No need to go into the rest of your “logic”. Thanks!

  34. amblin says:

    “First of all, there were ~30 years of warming (starting ~1975 to ~2000) and essentially no warming (~2000-current”

    Not true
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/plot/uah/from:2000/trend/plot/uah/to:2000/trend

    “Excuse me but the 2010 la nina lasted officially 10 months, of which 3 months were at -1.4C (the lowest temp), averaging -1.1C. The 2008 la nina lasted officially for 9 months, of which 2 months were at -1.4C (the lowest temp), averaging -1.0C. Hence, your statement is wrong and incorrect. Clearly the 2010 lasted longer and was colder than 2008.”

    My statement was about the global temperature associated with those La Nina events. Despite the 2010 La Nina being stronger and lasting longer it failed to drop global temperatures anywhere near the weaker 2008 La Nina.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/from:2005/plot/uah/from:2007.8/to:2008.6/plot/uah/from:2010.9/to:2011.4

    It’ll be interesting to see where temperatures head in coming months. Lets hope temperatures at least fall to 2008 levels, or frankly it’s going to look more and more likely that the world is continuing to warm.

    • david says:

      amblin,

      regardless of what your statement was about, your “…the 2010 La Nina was over before it even began. It got quite low, but not as low as 2008…” was wrong. In my earlier reply I’ve without a shadow of a doubt shown that the 2010 La Nina was colder and longer than the 2008 La nina. Or since when is a 10 month long la nina over before it even started and since when is -1.4C not as a low as -1.4C??? Please explain if you can.

      I agree with the fact that the global atmosphere appears to have reacted to the 2008 la nina stronger than the 2010 la nina. However, GST and SST anomolies are only one part of the puzzle. Location, area, depth, etc of each ENSO event also play a role (see for example Giese and Ray, JGR 2011). Thus arguing that AGW can explain this difference in response is really jumping to a preferred conclusions.

      Finally, you cannot draw a linear regression line through monthly (temperature) data. That is statistically incorrect and inappropriate since GST is seasonal. Hence, you need to first adjust for seasonality, then plot the GST over time, and then you can do linear regression. If you were to do that for GISS, for example, you would find that from 1991.0 until 2011.5 the linear regression is y=0.0204x-40.339 (r2=0.41), suggesting continuous warming since 1991.

      BUT, from 2001.5 through 2011.5 the linear regression of the seasonally adjusted data is y=0.0006x – 0.5693 (r2=0.0002); hence NO warming in the last 10 years… The fact that during the last 10 years some of the highest temperatures were recorded means it has been record warm, which is very different from a warming…

      In addition, CO2 concentrations (at mauna loa) have gone up 5.6% from 2001.5 until 2011.5…

      • david says:

        amblin,

        please disregard the first paragraph of my response; i see what you meant with referring to global atmospheric temperatures and not the actual ENSO events. My apologies for the misinterpretation and insisting you were wrong on that issue.

        Sincerely,

        David

  35. david says:

    on an interesting note; peak el nino’s (1958.0: 1.7, 1972.9: 2.1, 1983.0: 2.3, 1997.8: 2.5) and peak la nina’s (1973.9: 2.1, 1988.9: -1.9, 2000.0: -1.6, 2008.0: -1.4, 2010.8: -1.4) increased at a rate of y=0.0201x and decreased at a rate of y=0.0203x. (2010 el nino of 1.8, excluded as the trend of incresing el nino’s has been reversed), respectively. I find the exact same correlation coefficients of el nino and la nina peaks and (GISS) GST (between 1991 and 2011) very intriguing to say the least…

  36. Bob Tisdale says:

    david: Thanks for the tip on Giese and Ray (2011). I had not run into it before.

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