Monday, April 25, 2011

The Trends?

While I am playing with Openoffice trying to get back into charting and simple models, I thought it might be neat to post these trends(?) from the RSS satellite temperature series. I plotted the continental US just because and extended the year out to 2097 to see the trends of the lower troposphere (surface kinda) and the upper (stratosphere kinda). The temperature in 2097 would be about 1.6 degrees C higher than the average of the 1978 to 2011 data provided by RSS. The RSS baseline average is not the same as the UAH baseline, but it is close enough to be no big deal.

Then I did the same for the RSS global (-82.5 to +82.5) and the Tropics (-20 to +20) latitudes. Who would have thunk, their trends to 2097 are about the same (1.5 ish)for the surface with monster differences in the upper trends. The upper data is pretty wild, to the point I am not really impressed with its utility. It can make 10 C swings from one month to the next. So trying to make sense of it for seasons is pretty useless. That also means trying to track strat cooling versus tropo warming is an exercise in futility. That is mainly due to the envelope included in the upper temperature series. It overlaps the mid-troposphere enough that it is useless. I am a lot surprised that the UAH and RSS teams have not tried to fine tune their filters to better separate atmospheric layers.

The lower troposphere (surface) has been fine tuned to death in order to match the surface station data. That is fine, I guess, but the value of the surface temperature record is not as important as the atmospheric layers where you are trying to see the start of the change in greenhouse gas concentration impact.

The data both UAH and RSS have provided, are impressive, considering that the Microwave Sounding Units were not intended to be the last word in atmospheric temperature measurement. I am sure that filtering the data by pressure must be a major bitch, but it would be nice if you really want to see the physics in action. That is beyond my pay grade, so I am not going to waste my time trying to do it myself. Besides, as an unpaid blogger, my job is to just pick nits right? Since all the hoopla is over increased radiation capture in the upper troposphere, wouldn't it be nice to see a little better what is happening there? See I picked a nit just like I am supposed to. Based on the data available, you can't say crap about what will happen in 89 years, so get the right data or shut the hell up!

Now that that rant is out of the way, notice the US 48 chart without a trend. That one shows the "noise" of the series that has to be overcome to evaluate any "real" trends. What may be a trend starting around 1998, should be pretty flat if it continues. Since that happens to be a predicted climate shift (Tsonis et al), that happens to coincide with a shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, it could continue for another 10 to 15 years. That would decrease the trend, (now approximately 1.5 C at 2097)by a considerable amount. The impact of CO2 is not linear, it is logarithmic, so I should add a log curve to show that, but with the noise of the temperature data, it would not be all that informative.

Back to my original objective, I am trying to combine spectra for the basic atmospheric layers up to the top of the stratosphere. Since the main gases in the stratosphere are O2, O3, N2, CO2 and a trace of H2O, the biggest issue is weighting for the relative gas concentrations at shared spectral lines and overall spectrum. None of these are even close to being effectively saturated, so it is unlikely they can block all radiation at their spectral signatures. Accurate temperatures would help, since the radiative absorption/emission has a dependence on pressure and temperature (phase should only be gas, but ice crystals may have some impact of significance). So completing the picture of my "picture window" scenario of the Whacky Tropopause is far from simple. I will try to overlay all the gases except water vapor, which should show a clean window, but water vapor will tend to fog it up.

Since the RSS data has more stuff, I plotted the rest below. The quality of the charts is pretty crappy, I will work some more to clear them up. If you look carefully, you can see that the northern polar region is pretty whacked out and the south pole upper shows more cooling due to the more variable ozone layer. For surface trends, the northern hemisphere shows what I consider "regional" variability, it does have a higher percentage land versus ocean. If you are up on the debate, you know that the medieval warming period is considered "regional". Because it was regional it doesn't supposedly impact "global" temperatures. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. So the top charts represent global and tropic temperatures with an ~1.5 degree trend at 2097. The US 48 just happens to agree with that trend. The poles are showing opposite trends, "regional" impact?

So it looks to me that a whole lot of stuff is going on. To tease out some valid indication of CO2 radiative effect, I will have to do some looking. Possibly, I can use just the data for the Sahara desert. Don't know.

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