By Dr. Wolfgang Thüne
Translated by Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser
Since time immemorial, the weather has been a common theme among people. That was the case a thousand years ago and modern newscasts would be incomplete without weather information.
In the past, when humans only experience the weather as it developed overhead, the modern communication facilities bring the most remote weather phenomena into our living quarters. However, that’s only so for the most unusual, nerve-tickling weather events.
Like for other news: bad (weather) news are good news (for the media)!
To be worthy of top-line news, the weather has to be “extreme.” As some media reported here (in Germany) the “low pressure storm Sebastian” devastated parts of Germany. More serious reports simply stated that the first fall storm of this season was experienced in northern and northwestern Germany.
Well, the USA had better things to report. With cyclone season in full swing in the region around the Gulf of Mexico, the recent storms “Harvey” and “Irma” were of quite different magnitudes than “Sebastian.“ Consequently, they provided much belter material for publicity and political messages. They were charged with religious interpretations such as “work of God’s hand.” The actress and Trump-foe Jennifer Lawrence stated “it would be difficult in these storms not to see a divine chagrin over the current conditions.”
However, the constant media reports showed one unmistaken truth: the utter lack of control humans have in regards to such natural forces and the uncertainties to predict such, even on short-term horizons.
Cyclones develop over warm Oceans, not by accident but for a reason!
Tropical cyclones form commonly over the Atlantic Ocean between the months of June and November. They are being tracked by the National Hurricane Center of the U.S. In that time of year, water (surface) temperatures are often exceeding 26 °C. This is one condition but not all that’s required. What’s getting tropical cyclones going are tropical waves (easterly waves), that move with the trade-winds at 10 to 15 degree latitude in a 700 to 500 hPa (air pressure) environment. That causes instability with the air being rapidly pulled upwards, like in a tornado, that releases energy and is the cause of the rotation. That’s how cyclones are formed. Initially the satellite pictures show clumps of clouds. The big puzzle is to figure out how they will develop and the path they may take. The study of Atlantic hurricanes began already with the discovery of America by Columbus in 1492. There is nothing in that caused by humans.
Regardless, a “villain” must be there: “the current heavy-weight champion of climate sceptics, AKA U.S. President Donald Trump.” He is viewed as the villain extraordinaire who refuses to sign the “Paris Accord” of 2015. For him, the reasons of climate change are unproven and he is absolutely right on that, even though he cannot prove it with [scientific] arguments. However, that would be quite easy. He would only need to use the definition of “climate” to point out that a construct developed from the weather could never influence the weather. As a consequence, neither the “climate” nor its “change” are natural developments but strictly sliding values resulting from the change of the weather.
Indirectly, Trump gets support from Hockey-stick-Curve-Inventor Michael Mann. The latter wrote in the Washington Post “Hurricanes get their energy from the warm water of the oceans … ” Indeed, the process of water evaporation consumes energy (that lowers the water temperature). This energy is contained in the water vapor that, upon condensation, releases it in form of kinetic energy. The tropical hurricanes get their immense energy from that process.
Everything else is nothing more than fortune-telling. Hurricanes in the Atlantic/Caribbean, typhoons in the Pacific, and blizzards in North America are all natural weather events. If they appear to deviate from ficticious “norms,” they suddenly are called man-made or –influenced.
Nothing is “man-made!” Mankind can only watch the development of hurricanes, can only bear the forces they create but cannot alter them. We are helpless creatures that have to live with nature’s forces.
Without nature we’re nothing!
This statement is especially true for the atmosphere, the layer of air around the earth. The air is vital for all life. It is strictly natural and a mixture of gases that acts as an (energy) transport medium with constant mixing. That gave rise to the name troposphere. For the clouds not to grow limitless into the sky, the troposphere has a “lid” termed tropopause. Practically, the tropopause is an invisible boundary that abruptly limits the vertical movements of the air. That can easily be observed from the formation of anvil-shaped (Cumulonimbus) thunder-clouds.Near the earth’s poles, the troposphere reaches a height of approximately 8 km, at the equator up to 18 km. The troposphere contains around 90% of all air and has a median height of 12 km. Essentially all weather events take place in the troposphere and below the tropopause.
The earth’s envelope of air is pressed against its surface by the force of gravity. Per square meter that is a pressure equivalent of 10 metric tons per square meter or 10 million tons per square kilometer. For the entire earth surface of 510 million square kilometer, that comes to a total weight of 5.1 trillion (5.1 x 10^12) tons. To get that kind of mass to move requires an enormous amount of energy that only nature—not mankind—can provide. Nature does that via radiation from the sun.
The envelope of air around the earth, approximately 12 km high, is nothing but a thin skin, i.e., 1/1000 of the diameter of planet earth of 12,000 km diameter. Is it conceivable that carbon dioxide (amounting to 0.04% of its composition) could determine its surface temperature via a greenhouse gas effect (warming of the surface) that despite having an “open window” (meaning transparency) to radiation of 7-13 micro-meter energy to the universe?
The sun’s radiation energy received at the upper limit of the atmosphere on earth, some 150 million km (approx. 100 million miles) from the source, is still 1361 W/m^2. This value is termed the “solar constant” or solar irradiance. As the earth path is not a circle but elliptical, the distance to the sun varies. It is the closest to the sun, termed perihelion, at the beginning of January, when the distance is 147.1 million km. When furthest from the sun, at the aphelion in early July, the distance is 152.1 million km. That makes the aphelion-perihelion difference 5 million km. As the radiation received varies with the square of the distance from the source, earth receives 1412 W/m^2 in January and at the beginning of July only 1321 W/m^2. The seasonal variation of irradiance is therefore 91 W/m^2. In other words, the “solar constant” is no constant at all as it varies with the seasons.
The seasonal temperature variation does not follow the changing distance of the earth to the sun. The increase in irradiance of 96 W/m^2 between July and January cannot prevent the cooling of the earth in that period (in the northern hemisphere). With that in mind, how can the earth get a “radiation forcing” of between 3 and 10 degrees from CO2 that, summed up over 150 years is claimed to be 3 W/m^2? This claim is entirely unproven. Worse yet, it is impossible!
If a pail has a hole then it loses the water in it. As long as the atmosphere has an “open radiation window” to space, the earth loses heat via the outgoing infrared radiation.
The seasonal temperature variation depends on the inclination of the earth’s axis to the ecliptic (path around the sun) of 23.5 degrees arc. Following the winter solstice the sun rises higher and higher in the (northern) firmament. The days get longer and with that the total daily radiation energy increases resulting in higher temperatures. At the time of the summer solstice, the days are 16 hours long with the nights at 8 hours. At Christmas time it’s the opposite, 16 hours night and 8 hours daylight. No amount of “greenhouse gases” can change that. Viewing the earth as a greenhouse is false!