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Monday, November 21, 2011

The 100K Conumdrum

The Tropopause has peaked my curiosity for quite a while. I have thought of a few ways that the Tropopause could regulate surface temperature. The 100K boundary was not one of them.

With the three disk model, I am able to get a feel for the energy relationship between the surface and Tropopause. As I expected, the Tropopause appears to behave as a regulating energy conduit were energy is transferred rather quickly from higher to lower regions with the poles being the lower energy regions most of the time. The northern pole is unstable and since it is most isolated from the more stable southern pole, its surface has greater temperature fluctuation. That is a combined impact of variations between the tropopause and the surface that can be in or out of sequence vertically and horizontally. Land mass, the warm Gulf Stream current, and the change northern Pacific surface temperatures create a chaotic mix of temperature and pressure gradients.

The changes in snow/ice coverage which change the start and length of growing seasons produces inconstant changes in albedo and CO2 storage/release. The vast changes in land use just added to these dramatic changes which may completely or partially mask information that should be available in paleoclimate reconstructions.

The chaotic changes at the northern pole is interesting, but plays holy hell on attempting to isolate the true cause of the 100K boundary.

In the Antarctic region, evidence on the 100K boundary is most noticeable. With an average surface temperature of 224K @ 142Wm-2, the approximate flux value of the truly radiant portion of the atmospheric effect, the Antarctic is receiving the maximum benefit of the energy from the tropics on average. With the 100K @ 5.67Wm-2 I sort of expected the Stefan-Boltzmann equation to start falling apart. I may have, since the real boundary may be ~65Wm-2 or 184K degrees. The magnetic signature in the Antarctic thermal flux readings may be real or may be interference with the test instrumentation.

In the tropics and sub-tropics, deep convection pushes the 100K limit in the Tropopause. These rapid drops in temperature to near 100K are too short and too localized to be measured by the satellite data. Some balloon measurements to -95K have been recorded, but they also have issues with data quality. Based solely on the three disk radiant model, below approximately 224K @ 142Wm-2, the tropopause would be gaining energy from the lower stratosphere, which would not appear to have the thermal capacity to stabilize these events. That leaves magnetic or electrical energy from the Earth's core or solar electric as sources of the thermal energy. Energy is energy, so this is quite possible. Trying to figure out if, which and how much, though is not all that simple.

Based on the same three disk radiant ratio, 2:1, 71Wm-2 would be the average radiant layer between the Tropopause and the top of the atmosphere. This is close to the ~63Wm-2 but not enough to assume the same relationship holds when magnetic flux may be involved.

Interestingly, my minimum emissivity estimate of 0.99652825^(390-63) equals 0.32 or very close to the transmittance from the surface at 390Wm-2 average to the 100K boundary flux. Which could be absolutely nothing or an indication that temperature may not be the correct term below 100K. So it is time to research some of those goofy space radio spectra to see where to go from here.

Note: peak emission wavelength at 100K 28.977685 micron. Approximately 196K has peak wavelength of 14.7 micron, CO2 main absorption.

Non thermal versus Thermal

On the other front:

Since I am stuck for the moment:

This is an older post on Real Climate about the Arrhenius-Angstrom issue. Angstrom basically said that near the surface, CO2 is virtually saturated, i.e. a doubling of halving of CO2 would have little impact on surface temperature. Pierrehumbert and the author Spencer Weart note that convection moves surface temperature up in the atmosphere where CO2, with less competition with itself and water vapor could enhance the greenhouse effect. While that is true, the impact of the enhancement cannot easily be transferred to the surface due to the near saturation of CO2 noted by Angstrom. So Angstrom was right.

Weart and Pierrehumbert miss two of the main issues highlighted by Angstrom. The first that near saturation at the surface limits the radiant impact of CO2 at the surface. The second is more subtle, that the temperature of the CO2 limits the energy it can transfer to the layers of the atmosphere below its level of radiation.

Another issue not considered is the impact of CO2 on conduction of the atmospheric gases. Based on the conundrum above, there is also the possibility of the impact of the Earth's magnetic field on the properties of CO2 at low temperatures, approximate 100K degrees.

It should be simple to adjust models to compensate for the effects of near saturation and emission temperature. There does not appear to be much adjustment made for the conductive impact and no adjustment made for the magnetic impact. The Antarctic performance appears to imply that neither conductive nor magnetic influences should be considered negligible.

Update: When I get stuck I do tend to wander much more than normal which is totally abby normal for anyone to make sense out of, so bear with me.

The 100K boundary is ~5.67Wm-2 which is in the neighborhood of where I expected things to get fun. Things are getting strange at a flux of ~ 65Wm-2 or a temperature of roughly 184K degrees. Just about any scientist knows about the magnetic properties of oxygen and there is quite a bit of research on electric and magnetic interaction with O2 at low temperatures. That would mean that if this ~65 Wm-2 thing is a real phenomenon, there must be a pretty unusual mechanism. Thermal and non thermal flux cross over in this range, but astronomers are pretty good at telling the difference looking at distant objects. So things are getting back into sci-fi mode.

My probable best hypothesis is the Tropopause sink with a magnetic flux impact on the radiant transfer. That may make me totally certifiably a nut job, but it seems like a possibility given the odd circumstances. The ~65 is a rough match of the temperature/flux differences I would estimate for Venus and Mars. There are temperature inversions of -44C with surface temperatures of -74C in the Antarctic, which would be balanced by ~ 65Wm-2. The flux readings for the Antarctic are off by ~65Wm-2 in some areas which appear to show the southern magnetic flux field. Just no mechanism to support such a hair brained hypothesis. The center wavelength of 28.98, is just enough off from things to be a problem, but what if Ozone and CO2 in some form can hook up? The Ozone hole is not really a hole, just a significant reduction in concentration. The Arctic has its own hole forming at a different temperature and magnetic orientation. It may be crazy enough to pursue.

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