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Errors And Omissions In Major Tropical Climate Mechanism Invalidate IPCC Computer Models

Written by Dr. Tim Ball

George Hadley (1685 – 1768), an Age of Enlightenment citizen, lawyer and amateur meteorologist made a major contribution to climatology through an interest in the Trade Winds. He worked inductively using ships weather logs to produce a theory about atmospheric circulation. Named after him, the Hadley cell is the only portion of the atmospheric circulation we understood in concept for 250 years. Its role is a major factor in global weather and climate yet is completely inadequately covered in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) computer models. The error in coverage exceeds any possible human impact and is one more factor causing consistently failed predictions.  


Figure 1: Schematic of the Hadley Cells; Where winds converge at the Equator is the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ).

Maximum heating of the Earth occurs at the Equator. The heat warms the air and evaporates large volumes of water. The air rises and cools creating massive cumulonimbus clouds. This creates some of the heaviest rainfalls in the world that support the tropical rainforest.

When it reaches the top of the atmosphere the air is dry and cold and diverges away from the Equator. As a result it sinks and heats by compression reaching the surface very hot and dry creating the desert zones between 20 and 30°.

The region of the Hadley Cells has surplus energy as more enters than leaves (Figure 2). Beyond approximately 40° of latitude it’s deficit as more energy leaves than enters.


Figure 2: Latitudinal energy balance.

Nature offsets the imbalance by transferring surplus energy to the deficit region through the General Circulation shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3; Average best estimate of movement in the atmosphere.

A large portion of the solar heat at the heat Equator is used for evaporation, changing the water from liquid to gas (water vapor). The heat used isn’t lost but stored as latent heat and transported on the wind systems shown in Figure 3. Transfer of energy between the surface and the atmosphere, known as flux, is a major problem in the IPCC models. Their 2007 Report notes, “Unfortunately, the total surface heat and water fluxes are not well observed.” Translation; they don’t know how much heat and water moves in and out of the Earth’s surface. They acknowledge it creates another problem. “These errors in oceanic heat uptake will also have a large impact on the reliability of the sea level rise projections.”

As the air rises it cools and condenses. The water vapor converts back to liquid and the latent heat is released into the atmosphere. In the tropics this creates the major cloud form of cumulonimbus (thunderstorms), massive towering structures with powerful internal winds carrying vast amounts of energy through the atmosphere.

Global climate models divide the world surface into large rectangles. Essex and McKitrick prosaically note, “Not only can we not handle today’s thunderstorms, but no such storm ever shows up, even in our very best computer climate models. Thus thunderstorms certainly are not dealt with from first principles in climate models either.” The difficulty is, “…at every moment, there are thousands of active thunderstorms in the hot, moist places of the planet. There are tens of millions of them in any year. It should be clear that this great and constant roar of atmospheric air conditioning is an important part of the global energy budget should figure significantly into any model of the global climate however the mighty creature overhead, along with all his cousins, is too small to show up in even the biggest and grandest global climate models.”


The IPCC acknowledges the problem, “Due to the limited resolutions of the models, many of these processes are not resolved adequately by the model grid and must therefore be parametrized.” Essex and McKitrick comment,  “People who do serious climate calculations understand this problem and the fundamental scientific dilemma it implies. The only way to produce non-absurd calculations is to make up some ad hoc rules that insert or take away the energy, moisture or momentum has needed to produce sensible behavior.”

“Even so, these made-up rules are not foolishly done. From the collective effects of sub-grid scale phenomena, parameterizations, empirical rules that mimic the overall effect of these phenomena fairly closely-are introduced.”

But they can’t be close because the basic data is lacking and mechanisms inadequately understood. As the IPCC report, “The differences between parameterizations are an important reason why climate model results differ.”

Inadequacies of modeling the Hadley Cell, a major mechanism in producing global weather and climate, are enough to invalidate the models and cause the failed predictions. The IPCC claim that, “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations.”In IPCC jargonVery likely” means more than 90 percent certain, but inadequate modeling of the Hadley Cell alone makes that a false claim.