Historical Wind Patterns; A Problem for Model Validation

Written by Dr Tim Ball

We create crude global wind pattern maps (Figure 1). The problem is they are theoretical and based on a false premise known as the three cell global circulation pattern.


Figure 1

The empirical evidence does not support the three cell system, yet, like the greenhouse analogy, it still appears in most textbooks. Figure 2 is from NOAA’s “Fun for kids” current website.


Figure 2

One of the best recent (1997) reconstructions shows the complexity (Figure 3).


Figure 3

What effectively disappeared in the better approximation, or at best is a seasonal phenomenon, is the Ferrel Cell. The diagram indicates its transitory nature by labelling it the “indirect” Ferrel Cell. Again the diagram shows average conditions for both Hemispheres, but there is a considerable difference between them because of the different land water configurations.

The Southern Hemisphere structure is more basic because the Antarctic continent effectively occupies all the area within the Antarctic Circle and is surrounded by ocean. That situation provides some limited information about conditions along the edge of the massive continental glaciers that existed during the Pleistocene.

Figure 4 shows the extent of the glaciation in the Northern Hemisphere. Just from the albedo differences alone, it indicates a world dramatically different than today. Then, consider the extent of the seasonal snow and sea-ice cover, which we cannot retroactively recreate. In fact, we are unable to agree on the extent of Arctic sea-ice even from satellite images.


Figure 4

The glaciers grind and erode the surface as they move, especially when the base layer encapsulates rocks and boulders. This leaves a smooth surface exposed when the glacier melts (Figure 5). The glacier grinds much of the material down to what is called “Rock Flour” (Figure 6a) and 6b shows it spilling into a pro-glacier lake. It all washes out in front of the glacier onto the outwash plain.


Figure 5: Author’s photograph of Fur Trade explorer Samuel Hearne’s graffiti scratched on the glacially smoothed rock at Churchill Manitoba. Note the individual striations from the glacier that indicate the direction of ice movement.

Here the rock flour and finer material are picked up and blown away from the retreating glacier by very powerful winds. These are created by katabatic flow, that is created by the cold air drainage from the glacier. The material is deposited downwind in vast areas called Loess (Figure 7).

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Figures 6a and b


Figure 7

I know about katabatic winds from flying Search and Rescue in Arctic Canada and around the glaciers on Ellesmere and Baffin Island, but especially during trips into Thule on the northwest coast of Greenland. These winds are very strong. Cape Dennison in Antarctica has monthly mean wind speeds of 24.5 m/s (88 kph) and annual mean of 19.3 m/s (70 kph). Imagine the strength of the winds blowing out from the combined Laurentian and Cordilleran ice sheet, which was larger in surface area than the current Antarctic ice sheet and up to 3.2 km thick in northeastern Canada. That depth is estimated from isostatic adjustments, but the ice thickness overall is far less certain, making model reconstruction more difficult.

How would all this alter global wind patterns? Both the North American and Scandinavian-Siberian ice sheets are in the zone of the prevailing westerlies and the polar easterlies. These winds, including the Polar Jet, determine the weather patterns for the middle latitude zone from 35° to 65° latitude. The katabatic flow is predominantly north/south at right angles to the overall west/east circulation

We are unable to model the global wind and weather patterns today because of lack of basic weather data like temperature, precipitation, and atmospheric pressure. It is obvious they cannot recreate the conditions when the global wind patterns were disturbed by the conditions prevailing when these massive ice sheets existed.

A major failure of the computer models is they were never validated. It used to be called hindsight forecasting. It requires running the computer back to a known climate period and accurately recreating that condition. The modelers claim they can recreate past conditions, but what they do is simply tweak the model until it matches what they think were the conditions.

You don’t need to go back 20,000 years to see the problem. Early in the climate war, when skeptics identified the lack of data, the inaccuracy of the record, and the inability of the models to recreate previous climates, there was the problem of the cooling from 1940 to 1980. The models could not recreate those conditions. The problem was made worse for the AGW proponents because the pattern of known data for the historical and 20thcentury record was inverse to their hypothesis. For the historical record, it forced them to produce false data, like the ‘hockey stick.’ In the 20th century, contrarily, the greatest warming occurred from 1900 to 1940 when human CO2 production was low. During the cooling from 1940 to 1980 human production of CO2 increased the most.

The tweaked solution was to increase sulfate levels until the model results matched the cooling. As with most of what they do, the answer must have a human cause and sulfates from industrial production were ideal. The problem is after 1980 sulfate levels continued to increase but global temperature started to increase.

We have insufficient data to build or validate the models in the modern record. There is even less to validate them for the peak of the Ice Age. We end up with the bizarre situation that we can’t prove with validation that today’s models don’t work. However, it doesn’t matter because we know they don’t because of their failed forecasts. Frighteningly, none of this stops the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and our governments telling us they work. No wonder people are rejecting leaders and politicians of all stripes on all matters. They confirm the comment that you can tell when politicians lie because their lips are moving.

Read more at drtimball.com

Comments (2)

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    Jerry L Krause


    Hi Tim,

    A very good, thought provoking, article. For I was born and grew up and helped my father pick up rocks and stones deposited at the southern edge the glacier that melted in eastern South Dakota near the border of Minnesota. And we had to farm around those rocks too large to move with the equipment of that earlier time.

    Relative to the history of glaciers and their melting, about which melting has attracted much attention, what I consider a fact is seldom mentioned. It is why there are katabatic winds associated with them. Not only are their upper surfaces sloped, but the land (ground) beneath them are sloped. Hence, because ice melts when pressure is applied, glaciers slide downhill.

    What I find to be seldom considered is how the glacier was formed in the first place. They had to have formed because of snowfall. A lot of snowfall. And if it stopped snowing, the glacier once formed did not need to melt to disappear for it was sliding downhill.

    So to understand glaciers it is not necessarily a temperature change which causes them to ‘disappear’, it is that it stopped snowing where they initially were formed. Today we ‘worry’ about the ice cover of the Arctic Ocean.

    There is one easy way to explain the formation of the glaciers which almost surround the Arctic Ocean. It is to propose that in the past the Arctic Ocean was strongly geothermally heated from time to time. Just as the mountain ranges along the west coast of North and South America is understood to be the result of geothermal consequences which probably did not occur all at once.

    Just some thoughts for the readers of your article to think about.

    Have a good day, Jerry

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