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Climate Science Basics



Climate Science
Climate Dened: Climate is the statistics of the weather including not just the average weather, but also the statistics of its variability, commonly calculated over periods of a year or more. The progression of seasons is not considered an example of climate variability. Separating signal from the noise is separating climate from the weather. That is we can say it will be warmer in the summer than in the winter, but we cant forecast the weather for any particular day.

Climate is determined by (1) the energy balance between incoming solar radiation and outgoing infrared radiation. That balance is affected by greenhouse gases, or the composition of the atmosphere, in other words. (2) atmospheric and oceanic convection, the ow or transfer of heat within various substances like, water (the ocean) or gases (the atmosphere). (3) Looking at climate change through geologic time, as a record of climate is embedded in the geological record, the substances that were in the atmosphere during an ice age in other words are recorded in the strata, which can be dated, so we can use this information to model where the climate is going.


Climate Cycles
Five billion years ago, when the earth and sun formed, the sun was much cooler than it is today, with an output of about 0.7 of its present output. Yet we know that water existed on the earth in liquid form, when it should have been ice. This is known as the Faint Young Star Paradox; the Earth should have been frozen up to 2.5 billion years ago.

Five hundred and fty million years ago the Earth went through climate swings, being a snowball and then free of ice. Snowball Earth can be accounted for by positive feedback. Albedo is the percent of incoming radiation that is reected into space. Snow has a higher albedo, so glaciation, or increased snow, increases the albedo of the earth making it emit more radiation back into a space making it cooler which, in turn, makes more snow, which increases the albedo still more, until you get a runaway icehouse, or Snowball Earth.

Fifty million years ago the earth reached its thermal maximum (Paleocene-Eocene). It took 20,000 years to develop, and 100,000 years to go away. The earth is cooling from that thermal maximum 50 million years ago.

For the past three million years glacial cycles have been going on with a periodicity of about 20,000 to 100,000 years. They are due to orbital dynamics of the earth. They are the glacial-interglacial cycles caused by eccentricity of the Earth orbit, which is a cycle of one hundred thousand years, the obliquity of the earth or change in tilt which is a cycle of 41 thousand years, and precession or wobble of the earths spin, which has a cycle of 22 thousand years. The story of the earth has been a story of freezing over for 100,000 years, then briey warming. We have been in one of these short warm periods for the past 10,000 years, called the Holocene, and it would seem it is responsible for the beginning of civilization 7,000 years ago. The last ice cover was about 18,000 years ago.


Atmospheric Composition
The early Earth Atmosphere was probably predominantly hydrogen and helium (H2, He) but was lost to space. The later atmosphere was due to volcanic emissions, and impact by comets and meteorites (H20, CO2, SO2, CO, S2, Cl2, N2, H2, NH3, CH4). Oxygen came later as a byproduct of living organisms. The origin of CO2 was volcanic emissions. It was absorbed by water forming carbonic acid, was deposited in the soil, then underwent reactions to become calcium carbonate:
H 2O + CO2 " H 2CO3 ( soil) H 2CO3 + CaSiO3 " CaCO3 + SiO2 + H 2O

Lifetime of substances in the atmosphere is given by:


Abundance (Gton)/Emissions (Gtons/year) = Lifetime (yr) CO2 has a lifetime in the atmosphere of 100 years. CO2 exists in vegitation, soils, oceans, atmosphere and sediments. Lifetime relies in the simple model above relies on abundance and emissions are constant, that they are equilibrium processes.


Atmospheric Structure
Divided by vertical gradient of temperature, there are four layers to the Earth Atmosphere: Troposphere at 10-18 kilometers, Stratosphere ending at 50 kilometers, Mesosphere ending at 85 kilometers, then the Thermosphere.

80% of the mass is in the troposphere. In climate science we deal mostly with the troposphere, and a little with the stratosphere.

Heat Distribution Over The Earth, where heat is gained, where heat is lost.

Most of the warming is in the continents, Africa, South America, Canada, Asia. We should see a cooling of the lower stratosphere when we have a warming of the lower troposphere as a part of radiative balance of the planet. Raising the temperature one degree centigrade of a cubic meter of sea water requires 4,000 times more energy input than to raise a cubic meter of atmosphere one degree. Water has a high specic heat, that is it takes one calorie to raise a gram of it one degree centigrade. That is one factor that keeps the Earth from getting too warm. The vast majority of change in the energy climate system has gone into the ocean, mostly into the upper 700 meters. Water expands when you increase its temperature, like most substances, and the sea rise we are seeing is in part due to that. But most is due to the melting of land ice. Most of the land mass in the Northern Hemisphere, so, in the spring, when there is a lot of plant growth in the Northern Hemisphere, there is a drop in CO2. Annually, anthropogenic emissions increase CO2 by about nine gigatons or 900 terragrams. This is only about 1% of the burden, but it must be remembered that is annual and increases with time.

Precipitation is the product of condensation of water vapor that falls under gravity, like rain, sleet, snow, hail,

Most of the CO2 is absorbed by the ocean and the decrease its PH, making it more acidic. What are the effects on the corral reefs and plankton?

The temperature is pretty much constant in the tropics throughout the year. Prevalence of ocean in the southern hemisphere keeps that area relatively stable.

During the spring and summer foliage comes out and absorbs CO2, then when leaves fall, and decay, that CO2 is returned to the atmosphere in the Fall. Most cooling is in evaporation of water, especially in the tropics. Radiation is absorbed in the tropics and emitted in the poles. The Ocean and the atmosphere transport absorption in the tropics to the poles, where it is emitted. The tropics absorb more radiation than they emit and the poles emit more radiation than they receive.


How Climate Works

The incoming radiation from the sun is about 1370 watts per square meter as determined by the energy per second emitted by the sun reduced by the inverse square law at earth orbit. !We calculate the total absorbed energy intercepted by the Earth's disc (pi)r^2, its distribution over its surface area 4(pi)r^2 and take into account that about 30% of that is reected back into space, so the effective radiation hitting the Earth's surface is about 70% of the incoming radiation reduced by four. Radiative energy is equal to temperature to the fourth power by the Stefan-boltzmann constant.!However, the effective incoming radiation is also trapped by greenhouse gases and emitted down towards the surface of the earth (as well as emitted up towards space from this lower atmosphere called the troposphere), the most powerful greenhouse gas being CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and most abundant and important is water vapour. !This doubles the radiation warming the surface of the planet. !The atmosphere is predominately Nitrogen gas (N2) and Oxygen gas (O2), about 95 percent. !These gases, however, are not greenhouse gases. !The greenhouse gas CO2, though only exists in trace amounts, and water vapour, bring the temperature of the Earth up from minus 18 degrees centigrade (18 below freezing) to an observed average of plus 15 degrees centigrade (15 degrees above freezing). Without these crucial greenhouse gases, the Earth would be frozen. !They have this enormous effect on warming the planet even with CO2 existing only at 400 parts per million. !It occurs naturally and makes life on Earth possible. !However, too much of it and the Earth can be too warm, and we are now seeing amounts beyond the natural levels through anthropogenic sources, that are making the Earth warmer than is favorable for the conditions best for life to be maximally sustainable. !We see this increase in CO2 beginning with the industrial era. !The sectors most responsible for the increase are power, industry, and transportation. !Looking at records of CO2 amounts we see that it was 315 parts per million in 1958 and rose to 390 parts per million in 2010. !It rose above 400 in 2013. Other greenhouse gases are methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O). Agricultural activities dominate emissions for nitrous oxide and methane. !A healthy earth is one that is in radiative equilibrium, that is, it loses as much radiation as it receives. Currently we are slightly out of radiative balance, the Earth absorbs about one watt per square meter more than it loses. !That means its temperature is not steady, but increasing. The solar luminosity is: L0 = 3.9 " 10 26 J / s The average distance of the Earth from the Sun is: ! 1.5 " 1011 m Therefore the solar constant is: ! S0 = 3.9 " 10 26 = 1,370 watts / meter 2 4 # (1.5 " 1011 ) 2

That is the amount of energy per second per square meter hitting the Earth. ! The radiation, F, is proportional to the temperature, T to the fourth power, and equal by the Stefan-Boltzman constant, sigma:

F = "T 4

" = 5.67 # 10 $8 Wm $2K $4

This gives the temperature, T, at the top of the Suns photosphere is: ! T=6,000 degrees Kelvin The planetary albedo, a, is the amount of radiation from the Sun that the Earth reects back into space which is 30%. Therefore a=0.3 is the planetary albedo. Therefore the Earth receives 70% of the Suns light, or, in other words: S0 (1 " a)#r 2 S0 = (1 " a) = $T 4 4 #r 2 4 T = 255K = "18 o C That is the temperature the Earth would be if it had no atmosphere, minus eighteen degrees centigrade. The observed average temperature is: T = 15 o C Fifteen degrees centigrade. ! Let us look at a simple model if there is an atmosphere: We have same amount of radiation entering system as leaving, that is, sigma T to the fourth effective equals sigma T to the fourth of the atmosphere:

"Te4 = "Ta4
Sigma T of the surface to the fourth = amount of radiation coming in from the sun, sigma T effective to the fourth plus the amount of radiation coming down from the atmosphere, sigma T of the atmosphere to the 4. This is the greenhouse effect. Radiative Equilibrium Top Of Atmosphere:

"Ta4 =

S0 (1 # a p ) = "Te4 4

Surface: !

"TS4 = "Ta4 +

S0 (1 # a p ) = 2"Te4 4

TS = 21/ 4 Te = 303K " 30deg C ! ! This is actually warmer than the average annual temperature of the surface of the earth. Reasons why are real atmosphere is not opaque and heat is transported as well by convection. In reality almost twice as much radiation is received from the atmosphere than from incoming radiation from the sun. This shows the power of the greenhouse effect. Most of the cooling is in the evaporation of water, especially in the tropics. Most of the radiation is radiated in the subtropics where there are no clouds. But we have not considered the emissivity, epsilon, of the atmosphere. It is the amount of radiation absorbed by the atmosphere that is emitted. We apply the same principle as above, but include epsilon:


(1 " # ) = $%T 4 earth 4

Alpha is the planetary albedo, which is about 33% and S not is the solar constant, which is closer to 1,350 than our earlier approximation. Intensity up from atmosphere plus intensity down from atmosphere equals intensity up from the ground, or: 2"#T 4 atmosphere = "#T 4 ground Tground = 21/ 4 Tatmosphere $ 1.2Tatmosphere The calculation yields 295 Kelvin for the Earth, and that observed is 251 Kelvin. Thus with a simple one layer atmosphere model, we have closely predicted the planets temperature. Venus with an albedo 71% yields 240 Kelvin but in reality is 700 Kelvin. The discrepancy is in its higher abundance of greenhouse gases responsible for a runaway greenhouse effect. Mars, with an albedo of 17% yields 216 degrees Kelvin but is observed to be 240 degrees Kelvin. Venus=2600, Mars=259, and Earth = 1350 for solar constants in watts per square meter. Epsilon for earth is about 96%-99%.


We rene our model by including convection. Convection is heat transport by movement of a mass of uid from one place to another. In climate physics it is the vertical transfer of heat by rising warm air and sinking cool air. Our model is too hot at or near the surface of the earth, too cold at a near tropopause, lapse rate of temperature is too large in troposphere, however the stratosphere model is close. We must look at convection, it is very important. It is as important as radiation in transporting enthalpy in the vertical and controls water and vapor clouds, which are the two most important aspects to radiative transfer. The mechanism is warmer substances are less dense and less dense substances rise because they have less per volume for gravity to act on them. When they cool, they sink. Stability In a valley a ball will roll down a hill until it settles at the lowest point, which is an equilibrium state, or solution. Another equilibrium solution is when the ball is perched on top of a hill with valleys on either side; it wont go out of equilibrium until it is pushed in either direction, in which case it would roll down a hill. Hydrostatic Equilibrium Gravity accelerates a gas downward, net pressure makes it rise upwards. wiegt = "g#$x$y$z # = density g = gravity $x$y$z = volume = %V pressure : p$x$y " ( p + $p)($x$y ) or : p%A " ( p + %p)( %A) = pressure %A = Area Pressure is force per unit area and that above is the net pressure, the pressure at the bottom of the box minus that at the top. Pressure being force per unit area gives force when multiplied by area. mass = m = "#x#y#z = "$V d 2z = m 2 = %g( "#x#y#z) % (#p#x#y ) dt clearly dw 'p = %g % & dt 'z & = specific _ volume = 1/ " = volume / mass
dw dt

The Ideal Gas Law says pressure is proportional to temperature: !


RT p

Combining our two equations (of motion and pressure: !


$p RT $p = "g " =0 $z p $z 1 $p g =" p $z RT pressure = p T = temperature

"g " # This is the hydrostatic equation for an ideal gas at rest in a gravitational eld. We integrate the equation, and: ! p = p0e "2 / H RT H# = scale _ hieght g For _ Earth _ H $ 8 km

We assert the pressure in the vertical of the atmosphere is approximately exponential. The real atmosphere is not isothermal, the temperature varies, but not over a a huge fraction. Buoyoancy dw = "g# b$x$y$z " $p$x$y dt # b = density _ of _ fluid dw &p = "g% b dt &z &p = "g / % e &z dw % " %e =g b 'B dt %e Alpah sub b and alpha sub e are specic volumes of uids, b in the sample, e the surrounding environment. B is buoyancy.

If the uid in the box, or sample is less dense than the uid in the surrounding environment (has a larger specic volume) it will accelerate upwards. It is Archimedes law. We can determine whether a density in a gravitational eld will be stable. Adibiatic Sample (No Heat Is Added Or Subtracted) Buoyancy And Entropy specific _ volume : " = 1/ # specific _ entropy : s " = " ( p, s) Specic volume is a function of pressure and entropy. By the chain rule and using Maxwells Law (from rst law of thermodynamics): % $T ( % $# ( ("# ) p = ' * "s = ' * "s & $s ) p & $p ) s B=g ("# ) p g % $T ( % $T ( = ' * "s = +' * "s = ,"s & $z ) s # # & $p ) s

, = adiabiatic _ lapse _ rate The sample will be positively buoyant if its entropy exceeds that of its environment. !

Adiabatic Lapse Rate (From First Law of Theromodynamics And Ideal Gas Law) Q=T

ds dT dx = cv +p dt dt dt

Q = total _ heating c v = heat _ capacity dT dp Q = cp "# = 0 : adiabatic dt dt c p dT + gdz = 0 : hydrostatic dT g = " $ %d : adiabatic _ lapse _ rate & 1o C /100 m = 1K /100 m dz c g %= cp c p = cv + R If entropy doesnt change at all, there is neutral stability. Entropy decreases with altitude then the sample is positively buoyant (unstable) and accelerates upward. Entropy increases with altitude results in entropy less than its environment, and would be negatively buoyant and would accelerate downwards, and that state is stable. The radiative equilibrium of the troposphere if you calculate its entropy, you nd it decreases upward. So with decreasing entropy with altitude, it is unstable. The radiation is constantly driving a state of instability and so you get convection where warm samples ow upward and cool samples ow downward. With radiation driving instability and convection working towards stability, you usually get stability. It drives the atmosphere to a neutral state because radiative timescales are long and convective timescales are short.



Radiative-Convective Equilibrium
Adjusted for convection we have 313 degrees K when model is 333K. Still a little too warm. The reason is that in the real atmosphere convection involves the phase change of water known as moist convection. A cloud is a collection of very tiny condensed water doplets, or ice crystals. They are so tiny they can be considered to be in suspension. They are so small their terminal velocities are small compared to air motions. Clouds form when air expands and cools. Their saturation vapor pressure drops. Water vapor condenses. This happens when there is higher pressure at the surface and lower pressure higher in the atmosphere: air rises, expands and cools. When water vapor condenses it releases latent heat of vaporization and when it freezes it releases the latent heat of fusion. Our model has to be adjusted for the heat when water condenses. Condensed water also evaporates, absorbing latent heat of vaporization or fusion, causing air to cool. Moist convection redistributes water from the surface up through the atmosphere. Moist convection is the agent of lofting water and makes the atmosphere moist. Remember, water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas. At 6 hectopascals, around 0 degrees C, water exists in all three phases. As one increases temperature on increases saturation vapor pressure, it increases exponentially. As one applies pressure to water-ice, one can melt it. Heterogeneous Nucleation: the condensation of vapor onto pre-existing solid or liquid particles called aerosols. We dont need to know how fast this takes place. The time is nominal. Precipitiation, small water particles in suspension collide, coalesce into sizes heavy enough to fall, called stochastic coalescence. Not very effective. Saturation Entropy s* "T% " p% " q * (T, p) % s* = c p ln$ ' ( Rd ln$ ' + Lv $ ' # T & # T0 & # p0 & Lv = latent _ heat _ of _ vaporization q* = saturation _ specific _ humidity The upward ux in the clouds must equal downward ux in between clouds: ! MT =
"S d = #Q "z


Amount of water evaporating from the ocean must equal precipitation (water re-entering ocean): Precipitiation=Evaporization=Radiative Cooling (of atmosphere) Two Layer Radiative-Convective Model

"Te 4 = effective _ from _ sun "T14 = radiates _ up _ and _ down _ from _ layer _ one
It receives a convective heat ux from the surface Fs and it also convects a heat ux, Fc , towards layer two. !

"Ts4 = temperature _ of _ surface

! ! 4 Layer 2; Emits radiation upward and downward at "T2 and receives convective heat ux from Fc .

! T1 = T2 + "T Ts = T2 + 2 "T at _ top _ of _ atmosphere : T2 = Te T1 = Te + "T Ts = Te + 2 "T Surface : Fs + #Ts4 = #Te 4 + #T14 Layer2 : 2#Te 4 = #T14 + Fc (F_c is convective ux coming from rst layer) ! Define : x " #T Te ! !

Fs = $Te 4 [1 + (1 + x ) 4 % (1 + 2 x ) 4 ] Fc = $Te 4 [2 % (1 + x ) 4 ]



The Wind
We spoke of heat transfer in the vertical due to radiative transfer and convective transfer, now we talk about motion of both air and water in both the horizontal and vertical directions, which would be air currents and ocean currents involving the coriolis force or acceleration of air and water due to the rotation of the earth in other words, which is to the right of its motion in the northern hemisphere and the left in the southern hemisphere. That which we see are things like the westerly trade winds and other winds, with their associated eddies. This is important for the motion of air and water from the tropics to the poles. We begin with the exact solution for a planet like earth, but without continents. du $p = fv " # dt $x dv $p = " fu " # dt $z # = specific _ volume p = pressure f = 2% sin & = coriolis _ parameter % = angular _ rotation _ earth (u and v are velocities, east-west and north-south respectively and theta is a measure of latitude) ! Geostrophic Balance Enough East-West motion to balance the pressure gradient:


#p = $ fu #z

It is a fundamental balance we see in the real world. This is why we see air circulating clockwise around high pressure systems and counter clockwise around low pressure systems. And similarily for east-west pressure gradients:


#p = fv #x


Combining this with hydrostatic balance we have: #p " = $ fu #y #p " = $g #z E lim inate _ p _ by _ cross _ differentiation % # ln(" ) ( % # ln(T ) ( #u f = $g' * = $ g' * #z & #y ) & #y ) Which is the Thermal Wind Equation. This is the vertical derivative of the east-west wind times the coriolis parameter. It says when temperature decrease towards the pole, zonal wind (west-east component of the wind) must increase with altitude. Because they are west-east winds, they dont transport energy in the north-south direction. Two potential problems with this solution: Not enough angular momentum available for required east-west wind and equilibrium solution may be unstable. One must be very careful to distinguish between equilibrium solutions and stability. Warm air extends towards the poles and cold air ows towards the equator. That tends to warm-up high latitudes and cool down low latitudes. A pendulum is stable, it continues oscillating in the same way, about the center. But moving, it is not in equilibria; that is when it is still, hanging straight down. Stable solutions oscillate. Warm moist air moves to the poles, dry cool air to the equator. When warm air moves up, it pushes cool air down; cool air moving down pushes warm air up. This is oscillatory. Eddies transport energy away from the equator. Eddies drive the temperature gradients down to about half of what they would be in the radiative-convective equilibrium solution. It is not exactly clear how climate change effects eddies, but it is a subject of vigorous research. The Story So Far. First we considered an Earth that is in radiative equilibrium, that is, has as much radiation coming in from the sun, as leaving. We noticed that the temperature of the atmosphere was the same as the effective radiation coming in from the sun and from that we were able to determine the temperature of the surface of the planet. But that was not good enough, we next considered an atmosphere with two layers instead of one and brought in the idea of convective equilibrium, where we get further heat transfer from convection, which is the rising of warm air and sinking of cool air. We also now considered the emmisivity of the atmospheric layers as well. Both radiative and convective heat transfer are vertical. We now turned to the horizontal components, which transfer heat. They are ocean and air currents. The wind in other words, for one thing. We nd there is an exact solution where we learned wind velocities and directions are determined by the pressure of air, which is determined by its temperature, and are brought about by coriolis forces, which are those forces on the air which are caused by the rotation of the Earth, and the results depended on latitude. So, in order for earth to be in equilibrium it has to lose energy (heat) it gains and it does this through the mechanisms of radiating infrared radiation into space (radiative transfer), evaporate ocean water pulling it into the sky as water vapor to make clouds (convection), and create ocean and wind air currents (ocean streams and wind). The Wind


cm 3 g

1 = per _ area cm 2 cm 1 #p = g 2 = force / area s cm 2 #y = cm = lattitude

#p cm 3 cm 1 1 cm = g 2 = = acceleration 2 #y g s cm cm s2 radians f = 2$ sin % = sec cm radians cm u= & fu = = cm /sec 2 = acceleration s sec sec #p " = ' fu #y "


In other words, the pressure change in the atmosphere with latitude, North-South direction, results in an east-west wind due to the rotation of the Earth. Ian Beardsley April 13, 2014


Climate Science Basics

2014 by Ian Beardsley