Tim Ball: Al Gore Just Can’t Escape His Loopy Scientific Ignorance

Jet Stream, NPR
For the sake of refuting ignorance and purposeful deception, only the facts will suffice. Dr. Tim Ball schools the world on Al Gore’s frenetic claims about loopy and wavy jet streams: alas, it is Gore himself who is loopy. ⁃ TN Editor

Nobody does a better job of proving Mark Twain’s maxim than Al Gore. 

“It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.”

His latest example was reported in an article here at Technocracy News titled,

Al Gore Declares ‘We Have A Global Emergency’ Over Jet Stream ‘Getting Loopier And Wavier’

The only thing getting “Loopier and Wavier” is Gore’s pronouncement. Every time he makes them he proves how little he knows about climatology and the way the Earth’s atmosphere and weather systems work. We have known about the mechanisms he doesn’t know about for his entire 70-year lifetime.

Just a few minutes looking at any first-year climatology text would explain. It would show that he is talking about Rossby Waves in the Circumpolar Vortex (Jet Stream) and they are normal events. Carl-Gustaf Rossby identified them in the late 1940s. This came after pilots trying to bomb Japan during WWII discovered the Jet Stream. They didn’t think they could get from the Pacific Islands to Tokyo and back. Luckily, they flew one of the first pressurized bombers, the B29 Superfortress, an aircraft that could reach the level of these high altitude winds. They flew low one way and high the other to complete a mission that did limited damage but was of enormous consequence to the belief of invulnerability of the Japanese people and a huge boost of morale for the Allies.

The following is a brief explanation of the atmospheric mechanisms Gore claims are new and unnatural. The atmosphere is divided into two by a boundary that marks the point at which the amount of energy coming in from the Sun equals the amount of energy going back to space (Figure 1). It and the other diagrams were in my university textbook first published in 1989. This boundary is known as the point of Zero Energy Balance (ZEB). Notice the pattern is different between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, primarily because the North is 39% land and 61% ocean.  In the South, the ratio is 19% land and 81% ocean.

The ZEB moves with the seasons, so the boundary moves toward or away from the Equator as the dome of cold air expands and contracts (Figure 2).

Figure 1

Figure 3 shows that in very simple terms the Earth’s atmosphere divides into two areas. With a dome of cold over the poles and a warm air in between. The boundary between the two is called the Polar Front.

Figure 2

The temperature difference across the Polar Front is the most dramatic of any latitude and is called the Zonal Index. The difference in temperature between two locations creates the greatest pressure difference, and that creates the greatest wind speeds. Figure 3 puts these factors together and shows the relationship between the domes of air and the Jet Stream. Originally, and still, correctly, the strong wind circling the planet is the Circumpolar Vortex.  The portion with the highest wind speeds was called the Jet Stream, but over time it became the name for the entire process.

Figure 3

When water or air flows through a uniform medium, it develops a waveform. The medium can be soil, water, or air. When the river of fast air flows around the globe through the atmosphere, these Rossby Waves develop. The historical record show two basic patterns dominate.

The first is called Zonal Flow (Figure 4a) and the second Meridional Flow.

The weather patterns associated with each Flow are distinctive. With Zonal Flow the winds in the middle latitudes (30° to 65°) are from the northwest in winter and southwest in summer, temperature and precipitation variations are relatively low. The Wave moves along the Front from west to east causing a general weather pattern at a station to change every 4 to 6 weeks.

With Meridional Flow the increases in amplitude allow warm air to push further north and cold air further south. The winds become northerly and southerly, temperature and precipitation patterns become more extreme. The Waves continue to migrate from west to east, but if the amplitude becomes great, the system will stall, creating a blocking to occur and weather patterns such as drought or heavy rains to occur. Often the weather forecast will talk about an “Omega Block” to describe the Greek letter (Ω) shape of the Polar Front on the weather map (Figure 5).

Figure 5

After 1998, as global temperatures stopped rising, the Wave pattern shifted from Zonal to Meridional. It was accompanied by the increased variability of temperatures and weather that we had seen before. The historical record show similar periods of varying length related to global climate cooling.

The pattern of Rossby Waves varies between Zonal and Meridional with one or the other dominating, sometimes for long periods such as during the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. There were two distinctive centuries the 14th and 17th. Barbara Tuchman documented the pattern of the 14th century and its impact on the human condition in her book “A Distant Mirror”  with the telling subtitle, “The Calamitous 14th Century.” Tuchman took as the hero, a man whose lifespan of a man born in 1300 who died in 1399.

The century was mostly Meridional with seasonal changes so that there were cool, wet summers and warmer drier winters and seasonal differentiation became blurred. These conditions were ideal for the survival of pathogens and disease-causing crop failures and major plagues. A malnourished people succumbed to them by the millions. The pattern repeated in the 17th century with plagues and diseases decimating the population. Estimates from church records that two-thirds of the Finnish population died in the winter of 1688. Samuel Pepys’ recorded the consternation in his diaries and noted that the King ordered a holiday on condition that citizens go to church and pray for cold weather to make things healthier again. It didn’t work: the plague struck London in 1665. Fortuitously, another disaster in 1666, the Great Fire of London, helped. It removed the narrow, fetid streets that were ideal for breeding and spreading the plague that exacerbated the situation.

Praying won’t help Al Gore’s solution either. He is trying to resurrect the climate deception in conjunction with the phony IPCC Report. He is also compelled by the fact the public show no interest or concern for the alarmist use of weather and climate for his political agenda; hence his ill-informed “loopier and wavier” comment.  You might remember another exploiter of the loopy and wavy weather for a political agenda. John Holdren, as Obama’s Science advisor, pronounced from the White House the occurrence of a Polar Vortex as if it was something new. He was talking about one Wave of advancing cold air.

The good news for Gore is that his carbon footprint indicates his foot is too big to put in his political mouth.

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About the Author

Dr. Tim Ball
Dr. Tim Ball is a renowned environmental consultant and former professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg. He has served on many local and national committees and as Chair of Provincial boards on water management, environmental issues and sustainable development. Dr. Ball's extensive science background in climatology, especially the reconstruction of past climates and the impact of climate change on human history and the human condition, made him the perfect choice as the Chief Science Adviser with the International Climate Science Coalition.
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