The title of this post is blatant “click-bait”. (Not that such trickery does any good anymore, now that Google, in its flatulent wisdom, relegates Skeptics, free-thinkers, and modern versions of Copernicus and Galileo, way, way down into the cellars of what their search-engines offer to the public.)
To be honest, the “baffled” person the title refers to is me. I am the fool. However I have found I become strangely popular when I don my checkered outfit, my silly hat with bells, and ask my ignorant questions. For one thing, people like the opportunity an ignoramus offers them, and I learn all sorts of cool stuff as they demonstrate they are smarter than me. Secondly, kings of old liked to employ a foolish jester as part of his court, because the rest of the court was so busy being correct that they never asked the questions the king needed asked, because they were afraid of looking stupid, but the jester had no such fear.
In the past I have had the privilege of having some of my questions published on the “Watts Up With That” website, and was flattered by the amount of answers kindly people offered. However I noticed a interesting thing, which makes me think there may have been a deeper reason the wise kings of yore employed a Goofy.
You, see, the answers people gave, taking time out of their busy day to offer charity to a poor, lame-brained ignoramus, were not identical answers. At times they were not even close. All of a sudden fascinating debates got going, in the WUWT “comments” section. At times I sat back amazed. All I did was ask a question! Yet the debates soared into erudite topics that made it quite obvious a fool like me was forgotten. They brought up physics and math from the intellectual stratosphere, when I’m intellectually from the lowest troposphere. They had forgotten all about educating an ignoramus, (because at times I hadn’t even a clue what they were talking about), however it was obvious they were keenly interested in educating each other.
Even when I can’t follow the science, I do appreciate the repartee and pithy sarcasm that appears when minds meet, and I imagine that the kings of yore also appreciated the uproars a jester’s goofy questions could get going in the king’s court. After all, ordinarily everyone seeks to be agreeable before a king, yet a king has to weigh and measure two sides of an issue, and come to a judgement, and how is he to do it when the two sides refuse to disagree?
In any case, a question has been troubling me for some time. Therefore, though I’m pretty busy with other stuff, and my joints are not as limber as they once were, I’m creaking over to put on my checkered tights and my ridiculous cap with bells, and I come prancing forward to ask what may seem a really stupid question, prefacing it with my best Disney impersonation, “Gwash fellows! I got me a puzzle, and I am awonderin’ if you kin answer.”
The question springs from the release of the good Doctor Roy Spencer’s report about January’s lower troposphere temperatures:
To me the January drop in temperatures was ho-hum news, to be expected because the temperatures on the graph are so closely linked to the temperatures in the huge Pacific. In a lagged manner, they go up during an El Nino, and down during a La Nina. Even I can see that.
However, (with the help of Bob Tisdale’s observations), one thing even Goofy can see is that world temperatures are not the true controller of El Ninos and La Ninas. Instead it seems to be a different form of increased or decreased energy, called “wind”.
Meteorologists even have invented a tool beyond the thermometer, to measure this energy, called an “anemometer”. But will anyone talk about this form of energy? Or is all the talk temperature, temperature, temperature, all the live-long day, right down to hundredths of a degree?
But what really influences El Nino’s and La Ninas? Not temperature, but a wind called the Trade Wind. Strangely, this giant power’s area, in terms of Manhattans, and its energy, in terms of Hiroshimas, is seldom mentioned by the very people who think my dislike of curly light bulbs may drown coastal cities. To me it seems some strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. (And don’t you dare talk to me of “Newtons”. What Climate Scientist cares a fig about Newtons? All must be expressed in terms of Manhattans and Hiroshimas.)
My understanding of the Trade Winds (hat tip to Bob Tisdale) is that they to some degree undulate in a predicable pattern, partly controlled by sea temperatures that influence cloud cover, and partly controlled by cloud cover that influences sea temperatures. As a fool, I may be too simplistic, but my understanding is that (if the supply of energy was constant) the undulation would be as follows:
The Trade winds would push all the warm surface water over to Australia, and cold water would up-well by Peru and spread west. This would make it rainy towards Australia but sunny towards Peru. Clouds and rain would cool the warm water towards Australia and sun would warm the water towards Peru. This change would slow the Trade Winds, which would allow the waters pressed towards Australia to slosh back towards Peru at the very time lesser amounts of cold water was up-welled by the coast of Peru. Then there would be more sunshine by Australia and more rain by Peru. Sun to the west and rain to the east would mean Australia’s waters would become warmer as Peru’s waters were chilled, which would cause the Trade Winds to increase, and then things would revert to their original state. Rinse and repeat.
However this would only be regular and predictable if the supply of energy was constant. And that supply is not a curly light bulb. It is our sun, which is a variable star. And, as our sun varies, it throws a wrench (also called a “variable”) into all our efforts to figure things out.
Now here is where I don the caps and bells. I just wonder why we use thermometers to measure the decrease in energy from the sun, when we could use anemometers?
I ask this because I perk up my ears when the experts are surprised (also called “incorrect”). I am alerted by the words “stronger than expected” and “weaker than expected”. I therefore noticed when in a very clear (to me) manner, something was subtracted from the Trade Winds. Subtracted? Yes, for the last El Nino was much stronger “than expected”, and the following La Nina was so weak it barely counted as an La Nina, which was “unexpected.”
As a bumpkin and jester, I jumped to the obvious conclusion, which was that an energetic Sun will generate a more vigorous Trade Wind, while a “Quiet Sun” will slow the Trade Wind. This explained what was subtracted from the Trade Winds and what made the last El Nino stronger and the last La Nina weaker.
Apparently I was skipping some sixteen steps, which experts have observed occur between the time sunshine hits the earth and the time winds change. I apologize. I don’t know about all that complicated stuff. All I know is what’s blatantly obvious.
So, what is obvious? Obviously the last El Nino was stronger than expected. Obviously the last La Nina (not the current one) was weaker than expected. What do these two have in common? Weaker Trade Winds. Case closed.
No. The case isn’t closed. Why? Because, if it does make sense in some way that a weaker Sun will create weaker Trade Winds, then a Quiet Sun will have an effect other than you’d think. Less energy would create more energy. Why? Because weaker Trade Winds would enhance El Ninos, which warm the entire planet.
This idea may be upsetting to those who think our “Quiet Sun” will lower temperatures, but I would like to suggest that, at first at least, the “Quiet Sun” might warm the planet by slowing the Trade Winds.
This brings me to my jester’s question. It involves what is measured by thermometers and what is measured by anemometers. My question is, “Are they not both measures of energy?” I add, “Have we no way to combine the two, and come up with an amount that is the Real Energy?”
The energy of wind is neglected, in ordinary calculations of temperature. I can give a bumpkin’s example. Today I hiked a couple miles with children, and for a short time we left the shelter of trees, to cross a frozen lake. During that brief time we were exposed to hissing, drifting snow and wind gusts of 30 mph. And not a single child thought all the energy of that wind made them warmer.
In fact meteorologists have a thing called “The wind-chill index” which makes it sound like wind is colder than a calm. The thermometer is honored, and the energy in wind is ignored.
My question is, is not energy energy? If my car was moving at thirty, and screeched to a halt, the tires might not smoke but they, and the brake drums, would be warmer. In like manner, if winds of thirty screeched to a halt, would not the energy they hold become more apparent?
I wonder. What if, rather than Global Warming, politicians doled out huge amounts of money for research on Global Winding? Do you you think there would be the same disregard for the energy in wind?
Just a jester asking.