(This is a rough draft for a possible submission to WUWT.) (This essay has gone through several drafts.) (Note: I removed the title, “WATER ON THE BRAIN” from this work. That was casual slang in my boyhood for sloppy thinking or air-headed conclusions, but it was pointed out to me that Hydrocephalus is a painful topic to those who have seen their children suffer and die of it. I apologize to any I may have inadvertently hurt.)

Back in my long lost youth I failed to pay proper attention in Science classes, because I employed my genius in a manner that that didn’t involve answering the 48 dreary problems of dull arithmetic the teacher always assigned, every cotton-picking night.   Rather I figured a true sign of genius was to avoid the problems. Doing the homework might have been easier, but would have been dull. I chose the far more exciting path, which was to find a way around doing the arithmetic problems, in the face of fierce teachers. And, I must modestly admit, the ways I found around handing-in-my-homework were (and are) a bit of a legend, in the little school where I spent an ungodly amount of my first seventeen years.

When I at long last escaped that unholy incarceration, singing, “Free at last! Free at last! Great God Almighty! Free at last!” I found that one of the few things that school ever taught me was how to avoid doing homework. This actually is not a bad thing. Avoiding problems can keep you out of many quicksands that suck others down in life. In some cases it was downright moral, for morality is a practical way of avoiding the unforeseen problems that come through evil.

In other cases my genius verged upon being evil genius. For example, one problem I faced as I left school is best described as “paying the rent”. I displayed an amazing propensity, as a young man, to avoid ever “paying the rent”. At times this did involve sheer genius, but now I cringe recalling some of the gutters I descended to. Eventually I decided that, even though I might be escaping paying rent, in monetary terms, I was paying a steeper fee, in terms immeasurable with dollars. (For example, take a rent-free situation such as sleeping-in-your-car. What is the true cost of that, for a young man without responsibilities? Well, let us suppose he meets a beautiful young woman without responsibilities, and she says, “Take me home.”)

It does occur, to a young man, after a while, that responsibilities might not be an entirely bad thing.

Responsibility is a problem, and, considering school mostly taught me how to avoid problems, being responsible was Terra Incognito to me.  Fortunately, being unknown-to-me made responsibility turn into a sort of exciting new wilderness, and I was able to see myself as a brave pioneer.  I bored people, telling them about the (to me) exciting things I was discovering. I felt like Daniel Boone, but what I discovered was stuff  which they had learned to do years before, (such as pay the rent).

This process continues to this day, as I venture into the wilderness of Science and Math. I am often enthused by things that (to me) seem fresh and new and downright miraculous, but which people who lacked my genius, and who did do the Science homework, learned of back when they were aged twelve.

Back when they were twelve they too enthused. Now I bore them. To me this seems a pity. Age has afflicted some with blindness, and they can no longer see the beauty they once saw.

Others have not lost their love of beauty, but learned things at age sixteen that makes the enthusiasm of a twelve-year-old seem naive. When I bump up against such people, I find their responses to my scientific naivete tends to be one of two opposite types.  The first is what I call “the Dan Aykroyd response”:

One runs up against the Aykroyd-response a lot, when discussing Global Warming. I find it pitiful.  After all, who is the true genius here? Them or I?  Which of us was the loser? Who lost their childhood because they wasted uncountable hours doing dreary arithmetic problems, and who skipped school to explore the local quarry, like some suburban Huck Finn?  It is obvious, (to me at least), that I am the bonafide genius here, and they are the loser geeks whose only hope of preserving a shredded ego is to bleat some obscure correct-answer.

Not that I let them bother me. Nope. Not me. Not a bit. Rather I ignore all the insults, and collect the correct answer. After all, that is what matters: Truth, and not our shredded egos.

I will admit I do prefer the anti-Aykroyd responses, and this may explain why I gravitate to Watts Up With That. Not that debates here don’t become heated at times, but I do find that, when a person like myself makes an appearance, and, full of a twelve-year-old’s wonder,  speaks stuff which holds a scientific mistake,  a person like myself usually is corrected in a relatively kindly manner.

For example, I once was filled with wonder about the tiny bubbles in ice-core samples, and wondered aloud in a post at WUWT, which I called “Tiny Bubbles.” As I wondered I completely ignored a simple thing I knew, but failed to remember: Gases diffuse. (In other words, even without a wind or a draft, you can smell a babe drenched in perfume clear across a large room, four seconds after she steps through the door.) Everyone knows that. But I was such a dunderhead I forgot about it, in my wondering about bubbles in ice cores. In retrospect it is the most appalling ignorance, but the comments pointing out the fact I was (and continue to be) a dunderhead were remarkably unlike Aykroyd’s, at WUWT.

Therefore guess where a genius-dunderhead like myself is prone to turn, when enthused with the wonder of a new idea?  Will it be some place where he is likely to be Aykroyded as a “denier”, and even threatened with jail for merely wondering? Or will it be a place that respects wonder, and politely points out the things a thinker might fail-to-remember, and, as a general rule, is a site that honors the Truth?

Therefore I’m ba-a-a-ack.  I bring my latest wonder, which involves my favorite topic, Arctic sea-ice, and also involves a low pressure area I dubbed “Ralph”, that has been growing and shrinking, wobbling and meandering, but more or less a persistent feature, and has displaced the “Polar High”, (which some textbooks state should squat triumphantly upon the Pole), for most of the past year.

My simple way of seeing imagines that having a “Ralph” at the Pole suggests air is rising, rather than sinking. It must be warmer, rather than colder. However the temperatures, at the level of the ice, were on the whole, colder, not warmer, all summer. Something does not compute. If temperatures were colder, why was the air not sinking?

This leads me back to a subject I would dearly like to avoid, because every time I bring it up I seem to suffer some sort of severe Aykroydization, even though it involves a simple thing which seems to have a simple and obvious answer:  Does the rising air of a storm cool the air involved?

To me the answer seems obvious, because life forced me to become more practical and responsible and to take note of mundane reality, and one reality was that, in my neighborhood,  when it gets wicked hot in July the air goes up and makes wicked big cumulus, and after some smashing and crashing it gets cooler. This caused me to raise my index finger and say, “Gwarsh, Mickey! It sure looks like that hot and humid air got raised up to the upper atmosphere and lost its heat to outer space.”

Apparently this proves I am a complete dope. Or so suggested a fellow who had done all his homework back in school, and now worked for NOAA. In a “comments section” he took me to task and slaughtered me with Math. I got drubbed left and right and up and down until I didn’t know my nose from my navel. By the time I was done with, all I knew is that I will be very, very careful before I ever respond to that fellow ever, ever again.

In a nutshell what he said was that NOAA had carefully measured the heat of the tops of thunderstorms, and that, rather than hot-spots, they were incredibly cold. They were -70 degrees or some such thing, and at that temperature they were not in the mood to radiate a heck of a lot of heat into outer space, you ignorant slut.  (Or… well…maybe he didn’t use the word “slut.”)

Besides shutting me up, this left me with something to wonder about. It suggested no heat was lost to space by a thunderstorm, which would make a storm a closed system, with no heat gained and no heat lost. (Even if this is incorrect, let’s run with it.)

The idea of a closed system tickled some concept that had dimly imprinted my mind, during the years I wasted in science class. I recollect it was something or another that was going to be on the test. It had to do with, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

(Back then I was, of course, immediately suspicious. “Action and reaction” sure sounded like one of those traps clever grown-ups strew across childhood like landmines, involving doing what they say “or else.” However it did stick in my head, likely because, if I flunked that particular test, I might face the “or else.”)

I likely didn’t get the action and reaction stuff down correctly, but, since it did stick in my head,  all these years later it sprang to life, and concocted one of my strokes of dunderheaded genius. IE: I had heard that, when air goes up and comes down warmer, it is called a Chinook, and therefore, if every action has its reaction, there must be an equal and opposite reaction to a Chinook, where air goes up and comes down cooler, and this cooler downdraft should have the equal-and-opposite name, “Nookchin”.

Most connect a Chinook to a mountain range, but Chinooks can happen far from the mountains, and then are called a “heat burst”. When the air is very dry, and no cooling evaporation of raindrops occurs, the down-burst of a decaying thunderstorm can get hotter and hotter due to the adiabatic lapse rate. Hot air wants to rise like a hot air balloon, but sometimes the downdraft is going too fast for the air to change its mind, and it slams into the ground. This shocks the socks off folk sitting out on the porch, enjoying the cool of the evening after a long, hot summer day. There are records of temperatures, after the sun has set,  rising from 80.6 °F (27.0 °C) to 105.8 °F (41.0 °C) in a little more than an hour, at official stations.

This sort of downdraft is especially disliked by men fighting forests fires out west, far from official stations. Dry thunderstorms not only hit trees with lightning that has no rain, but then blast a fire with downbursted air that is not only hotter, but drier, then the already hot and dry air in place where the forest fire fighters work.

However, if the air is hotter there, and the system is closed, then the air should be colder somewhere else. Right?

That colder place is the Nookchin. I call it the dreaded Nookchin, because in my neighborhood it happens during the hottest days, when my tomatoes are ripening. The hot weather is to be desired, for it makes the tomatoes grow swiftly, but the Nookchin is dreaded, for the Nookchin can bring down hailstones, which are not desired unless your desire is to harvest ketchup.

But what has this to do with Arctic Sea Ice?

Well, “Ralph”, the storm that has been meandering about the Pole all summer, sometimes weak and sometimes a gale, is in some ways a glorified thunderstorm. It is a swirl of rising air, with downdrafts around the edges pumping high pressure. Some of the downdrafts are Chinooks and some are Nookchins. Some involve warming and some involve cooling.

The very words “warming” and “cooling” are liable to plunge one into extreme Aykroydism, if one is not careful. The Warming Crowd and the Cooling Crowd don’t pull any punches. Therefore let us be absurdly careful and pretend the system is closed, and the Pole is not where the Planet loses most of its heat.

It is when the system is closed that my wonder gets flabbergasted, due to the weakness of my math, and the fact the adiabatic lapse rate will not be good, and remain an established fact. It changes from what it is when the air is moist and going up, to what it is when air is dry and going down. In other words, water is screwing up the math, because water is the difference between “moist adiabatic lapse rate” and “dry adiabatic lapse rate”.

Water also messes everything up because it obeys the adiabatic lapse rate going up, as a vapor, but could care less about the adiabatic lapse rate when it falls as a hailstone. It got cooler and cooler as it went up and chilled to freezing, and released a heck of a lot of latent heat as it became water and then ice, but what happened to that heat, as the hailstone fell and didn’t warm, until it mashed my tomatoes?

That heat must be left behind at the top of the cloud, but the guy from NOAA  assured me the tops of storms are too cold to lose heat.

Therefore my bumpkin logic wonders, “Gawrsh, Mickey. Some awfully warm Chinook heat-bursts must be clobbering the Pole.”  Yet…I look and I look…and none are to be seen.

Hmm. Could it be heat is escaping in some other way?

This could involve something I paid little attention to, in school, called “radiant heat”. (I could have cared less about such a seemingly meaningless subject, as a young genius. It was only later, when I compared sleeping in my car in February to sleeping with my wife in February, that “radiant heat” became a subject that seemed worth attending to.)

It does occur to me that water again enters the picture, and water again must be included, when one considers radiant heat. I’ve noticed winter nights are coldest when skies are clear. When clouds are overhead it doesn’t get so cold.  In terms of the Pole, this might even create a sort of lose-lose situation, in terms of retaining the heat, because a Nookchin has clouds while a Chinook tends to be cloud-free. A Nookchin has rising air, and also hail raining coldness down, with the heat retained aloft, and then, when that heat decides to downdraft, the descending air makes cloud-free skies,  which might lose a lot (or all) the down-bursting Chinook’s heat, to the sunless arctic night.

This is a lose-lose situation, in terms of thawing arctic sea-ice, because the Nookchin updraft pelts the surface with cold hail, snow and sleet, and the milder Chinook downdraft chills the surface with radiational cooling. In conclusion, the series of storms over the Pole since last Christmas, which I dubbed “Ralph”, is not a thing we wish to see if we wish an ice-free Arctic Sea, maritime weather in Greenland, and Danish Vikings able to return to their abandoned farms and again plow the-soil-that-became-permafrost.

This is just me wondering. It is just an idea put out to be shredded by people who did their science homework, while my genius went elsewhere. Surely I need further instruction, to advance my wonder from the level of a twelve-year-old to that of someone aged sixteen. I propose my conclusion fully expecting it to be wrong. Most science is wrong, and is constantly improved upon, increment by increment.

What really stuns me is how much I don’t know. I was mowing on the rider-mower the other day, as the cumulus boomed up in the sky, and, as I looked up and contemplated the amazing latent heat being released,  I realized I had no idea where the water was condensing and the latent heat was being released, most swiftly. Was it in the cloud’s middle, or at its very edge, on it’s skin? It seemed to me that in the middle of the cloud the humidity would be at 100%, and air could grow no more humid, but at the brilliantly white skin of the cloud the humidity was going from 40% to 100% in a flash, and the huge latent heat released at the skin might be what was pulling the entire cloud upwards. And, if the latent heat was released at the very skin of a cloud, would more be released to outer space?

I have no idea whether this idea makes a lick of sense, but it did tickle my genius, and made me feel very clever, and may explain why the rider-mower wound up in the rhubarb.

It is hard being a genius. My wife doesn’t understand me, when I am backing the rider-mower out of the rhubarb. My genius wants to invent some ingenious excuse, such as, “Many plants benefit from extreme pruning, and I am conducting an experiment to see if rhubarb might be one of those plants.”

My Algebra teacher might have been fooled by that sort of BS, but my wife isn’t. The Truth is best, and the Truth is that genius of any sort will wind you up in situations where you look like a complete dunderhead. If you love Truth, kiss your vanity goodbye.

I sure wish the so-called “experts” on arctic sea-ice would kiss their vanity good-bye, and confess the idea of a “Death Spiral” was dunderheaded, but perhaps they lack the necessary genius.


It is interesting to compare the supposed knowledge of our current “climate scientists”, concerning the power of water in the atmosphere, with the awareness of men who puzzled about clouds 119 years and 10 months ago, as we approach the 120th anniversary of a legendary cold-wave.  Back then they had no computer models, and the most primitive equipment, but didn’t ignore water as a greenhouse gas.

In 1896 our experts were urging someone to fork out more money for weather balloons, because they were mystified about what happened in the upper atmosphere. However they were in some ways more knowledgeable about the lower atmosphere than Climate Scientists.

They were facing a pattern, that long-ago November, much like ours this September, but everything stalled, and then the cold stagnated to “unprecedented” levels in the west, as the heat grew in the east.

Rather than any blather about Global Warming, they asked the sort of stuff I do: About why things that are the same, in some ways, behave differently, in others:

“It remains to inquire why the stagnant high areas in the Northwest gave such low temperatures, while apparently, the same condition tended to abnormal heat in the Southeast.”

But then they had to make their pitch for funding, and more weather balloons:

“The solution of this problem is to be sought in the upper atmosphere.”

They then returned to why one high pressure should lead to cold while another led to warmth:

The clear, dry air of the Northwest permitted intense heat radiation to the sky, and day after day this was maintained without the interference of moist lows from the Pacific. In other words, we have here an excellent example of the intense radiation-cold experienced in Siberia in the stagnant high pressures of that region, sometimes reaching 31.70 inches. On the other hand the moister air of the Southeast permitted the heat of the low latitude sun to penetrate to the earth, and after the heat reached the earth, the moisture prevented its radiation into space.

The discussion went further, wondering why some cold high pressures were stagnant, while others raced across the nation “at 40 mph”, which was very fast, in 1898.

They would be amazed, in that horse-drawn time,  by how fast we drive around town now. But they would also be amazed by how very slow the thinking of certain climate scientists is. Our climate scientists don’t attempt to match old-fashioned understanding of how water influences temperatures, even though in 1898 they didn’t have weather balloons, let alone satellites.

Concerning water, we should know better. Someone, somewhere, should be ashamed.




  1. Just a thought from someone sent to the back of science (Physics) class for messing and being disruptive when things had to be repeated; does the fact that the tops of clouds are -70’C stop them radiating energy into space? The tops of clouds are 200’K and I have always understood that the temperature* of interstellar space was 4’K making the tops of clouds 200’K “warmer” than space. It’s a bit like saying a crucible of molten tin (230’C) won’t radiate heat into a room at 30’C because it’s colder than molten Zinc 420’C.

    One or two other thoughts popped into my head whilst reading but I’ll keep them to myself.

    * Not sure that everyone agrees space has a temperature.

    Another article I enjoyed reading.

    • Thanks. I did pause over that word a second, thinking it didn’t look right. But I had to hurry.

      When I’m rich and famous I’m going to hire a secretary to do all the double checking for me, so I don’t appear in public with egg on my face. As it is, I just have to be humble when mistakes are pointed out. And thankful.

      • Don’t know what program you do your writing with, but most have grammar checkers, and they often catch “wrong words” that are spelled correctly. Of course, the beauty of that is they flag about 75% of what I write as be grammatically incorrect! So you end up really looking at what the blue lines mean, or in frustration, turn grammar checking back off!

        Yes, a lot of low level heat would be lost into space as the water vapor condenses to water, and then into ice crystals. I was always amazed at how “cool” it would get with a thunderstorm, with it’s updraft at the center, and how warm it felt with a tropical storm with what I would assume to be a downdraft at the eye wall. both are lows, but both seem to have the opposite air movement at their cores. Isn’t weather wonderfully intriguing? The more I think I understand, the more it makes a fool of me!

      • Grammer check doesn’t seem to operate on my wordpress page. I do have it when I write using Microsoft Works or Word.

        One thing I didn’t really go into in this piece is that a downdraft can be much cooler if it started out as a rain shower, but all the water evaporated on the way down. I pretty much throw up my hands in despair, when it comes to figuring out the nuances that make one downdraft boiling hot, the next cool and dry, and the third a rattling hailstorm. It seems that, by the time you were even halfway through figuring stuff out, the storm would be long gone. Therefore perhaps it is sometimes better to just sit back and watch the show.

  2. “Age has afflicted some with blindness, and they can no longer see the beauty they once saw.”

    How true. I think I have regressed the older I get for I often look in amazement at a developing storm or cloud and am filed with wonder. This is partly due to having children and seeing their infectious wonder and also because now I let my mind ponder the things my city boy self previous took for granted. Although my breakthrough eludes me now I was standing in the garden pondering about growth and plants when I was struck by the most elementary observation and went “oh” rather like a child figuring out how to open the sweet jar for themselves. It brought together many threads I had been pondering and was so obvious it was more of a ‘doh’than ‘oh’ moment tbh. Another one was during an average April that had sluggish growth that bewildered me. Then I read an old met office report about “dry winds” which explained my gardens poor show. Now my ancestors probably had this rote and would class us sophisticated modern computer whizzes as mere simpletons for our sheer ignorance. Rather like when older folk hear youth crying “unprecedented” when some weather recurs for the first time in a generation. One thing about reading weather history – and old newspaper reports – is how many times this comes up when an old timer scoffs at “unprecedented” or “worst ever” having lived it before. I am very thankful age has weathered the youthful ego that during my CAGW indoctrinated years let me dismiss the wise words of my forebears because in the modern era we know the price of every thing and the value of nothing. It’s the arrogance that leads to “consensus” that can suddenly rediscover that for example the ocean cycles make it cold/warm wet/dry* (rather than our new theory bulldozes all of history) and why it is foolhardy to believe that now will be forevermore.

    Age has given me the wisdom of common sense with a liberal dose of wonder chucked in so I don’t take it all for granted and rely on the new geniuses. I have my own lyin’ eyes after all to always question and ponder and wonder at the beauty of it all:)

    A lovely read Caleb


    • I have the same experience with the very young. They remind me to wonder.

      I like that phrase, “… know the price of every thing and the value of nothing.” I looked it up. Oscar Wilde.

      It is amusing how the Met Office can sort of take ownership of “new” ideas we have been talking about for a long, long time. Good link. Thanks.

  3. Caleb, great post, may need some tightening and some more data before moving over to WUWT. Also a few typos still – for example, I think you meant ‘Arithmetic’, not ‘arthritic’ – good example of marginal value of spell checkers. I always have trouble with stuff like that – my brain knows what I meant, so that’s what I see.

    As for the content, at the 35-40 thousand foot level of the top of a thunderstorm, the ambient temp is way lower than the ground – warm air rising is going to lose a lot of heat in that transition, and downdrafts from anywhere near that level are going to absorb heat. Not sure how that nets out, but it would be interesting to see how numbers from various altitudes in the UAH or GSS data react as major lows or highs dominate an area. Not sure how discrete their data is, but I love measurements, if you can find ’em.

    • Everything is bigger in Texas, and it is my understanding that the tops of supercells can boom up to 70 thousand feet, Yowza! (I only have experienced one supercell storm, in New Mexico, and it sure was far more intense than any storm back east. (A tale for some other evening.)

      Here’s an interesting conversation about how high thunderstorms can get. (The answer is unsettled science.)

      I confess to you I am very dependent on people with math-skills I lack to produce “the numbers”, regarding what happens to heat as it goes roaring up, and comes plunging down, in such storms. All I do is look at their hard work and wonder. My hope is that my wonder might occasionally supply them with a new thing to focus on.

      Thanks for the help with my spelling. What a blunder! ‘Arthritic’ where I meant ‘Arithmetic’. I thank God for helpers like you.

  4. I always enjoy reading your posts and you definitely have a type of genius that school books can’t teach.

    In terms of avoiding very dull and painful homework, I came up with a good one. I was taking a course in college, where we literally had to read around 25 full sized books in that one semester.

    I am a slow reader and I literally would have put myself away in a monastery the entire semester with no fun or social life if I were to accomplish the task at hand. And the subject was education, not the most exciting topic in the world.

    My solution was to go to the library and read the NY Times book reviews for each book. Maybe took about 10 minutes to do each book. I basically summarized the book reviews and got a B for the course. Also had one of the most fun semesters I ever had!

    • It always amazes me how some manage to make learning, which should be sheer delight, absolutely awful.

      When I was seventeen I got shipped off to an old-style school in Scotland, and had to read a humongous amount. It was actually helpful, though I griped a lot. It helps a lot, if you are arm-twisted into reading 25 books, if they are books by the Greats of English Literature.

      Even so, I confess I deviously risked dire punishments, avoiding Shakespeare to sneak off to walk with some local girl named Ginger.

      Youth will always be youth, and the dull and painful homework elders create is like sandcastles, while youth is like waves.

  5. As we all know from a stove heating a kettle of water, heat flows from hot stove to cold water. In the kettle case by conduction heat transport. Greenhouses work by hindering convection heat transport. The GHE works by hindering radiative heat transport. The major GHG is water vapor, which the rain from thunderstorms lowers in the local vicinity thereby making Tstorms particularly effective heat removers. Move latent heat up by moist convection, squeeze latent heat out of wate vapor by condensation thanks to the temperature lapse rate, then easily radiate it to space from storm clouds above most of the GHE.
    The temperature of deep space is known from the cosmic microwave background radiation. The temperature equivalent to that CMB wavelength is ~2.8 kelvin. VERY cold. Equivalent to -270 Celsius. So if the top of a towering thunderstorm is -70C, it will most definitely radiate infrared wavelengths equivalent to -70C to space. Your nasty NOAA guy was doing typical ‘ climate science math’. As Wolfgang Pauli once said about someone else’s paper concerning his Pauli exclusion principle, “So bad it is not even wrong”.
    BTW, the global effective radiating level temperature is about -18C. So a colder because taller Tstorm top is a very efficient infrared radiator, freed from the GHE. This ERL temperature is inferred from outbound infrared wavelwngths measured by satellites. It also means that the surface would be -18C, the oceans frozen over, so no life on earth without the warming GHE.
    Beautiful essay.

    • Thanks for your wonderfully succinct explanation.

      I sheepishly confess the NNN (Nasty NOAA Nerd) baffled me with bullshit.

      I’m happy you liked my approach. You can baffle a bumpkin some of the time, but eventually Truth catches up.

      • You are a writer/poet, not a science bumpkin. Put my hard won knowledge of climate science (all ‘amateur’ for this semi-retired lawyer/businessman/econometrician) into your wonderful prose and we can reverse CAGW momentum. Highest regards.

    • If it can be said that “GHE” gases “hinder” radiative heat transfer, then it can also be said that the same gases “enable” radiative heat transfer by an equal amount. So, the infamous atmospheric “GHE” is net zero.

      Don’t be fooled by the dominate, yet invalid, IPCC Bogus Science (BS)!

  6. Weather forecasting work amazingly well (multi-day forecasts of a chaotic system are possible), so those models must have the physics mostly right.

    • Models work with amazing skill for roughly five days, and then skill decreases. After two weeks 52 runs of the same model will have a wide variety of answers. Even when most of the 52 runs agree a storm will exist, some position the storm in Canada while others position it in Mexico.

      The places where the ocean is warmer or colder than normal can be used to get a rough idea of what weather patterns “may” look like up to a year in the future, but this is more in the realm of a probability than a set-in-stone forecast. Once you get past a year in the future even the sea-surface-temperatures are not predictable, and the best known model is to flip a coin.

      The true test of a model is to set it back on 1978 and see if it can predict the weather swings that we know actually happened over the past 38 years. They can’t. The only way to get them close is to add what many call “the fudge factor”, which is by no means acceptable physics.

      The primary weakness of climate models at this point involves a failure to properly include the powers of water vapor. Until this very difficult chaos is teased into a useful simplification I do not think it can be said that “those models must have the physics mostly right.”

      • Multi-day forecasts are getting better all the time and according to this score 5-day forecasts are now equally good as 3-day forecasts were in the late nineties, and the same is true for 7-day and 5-day forecasts. 10-day forecasts of today are as good as 7-day forecasts were circa 1985-1995:,0,2016091100

        Since weather is chaotic, longer term weather-forecasting will always stay impossible. the same does not hold for climate-forecasting, if you run a million slightly different model runs from 1978 it will be possible to predict current climate (but not weather!).

        Are high-resolution weather-models treating the water vapor incorrectly?


    That should correspond to ~8 km which is right in the center of a big supercell down near the equator, probably closer to the top up at the pole though.
    That breaks down some of this info in a way which I imagine you will enjoy crunching on.

    While this: is the lowest cloud top temperatures I can find, 170 Kelvins is damn cold, but it’s also nearly twice as high as the cloud tops would be near the pole, and cloud tops at 220 Kelvins are probably a better radiative dump than the frigid ones closer to the tropics, so hey, bumpkin farmer dude seems to have got it right after all?

    • Next I have to attempt to understand the “arctic vortex” and what breaks it down, which I suppose is the engineering of the AO. What I am wondering is if there is a “third state” of the AO where the jet is very meridional. If you look at the Wiki entry for AO you see that a low at the Pole traditionally makes for a very zonal flow, but observation hasn’t been showing us that. Much to wonder about.

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