Water vapor mischief: Part II

by Douglas Sheil

JC note: this post is a follow on to the Water Vapor Mischief thread that discussed a paper by Makarieva et al. entitled ” Where do winds come from? A new theory on how water vapor condensation influences atmospheric pressure and dynamics.”  Douglass Shiell is coauthor on the paper.

Is it possible that a key phenomenon concerning how the World’s climate works has been widely overlooked?  Climate scientists acknowledge many areas of uncertainty but the suggestion that a principle cause of global atmospheric motion has been neglected is, understandably, hard to swallow.  But being hard to swallow does not make it wrong.  For science purists all new ideas should be welcomed and assessed on their merits.  Are the new ideas logically consistent with what we know already, can they make predictions that we might use to distinguish them from alternatives?  This is not simply an academic point – let me recount an ongoing story from my vantage point.

I live in a forest in central Africa: lush and green with regular rain.  We are thousands of kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean to the West and the Indian Ocean to the East.  How does so much rain get to be here in the middle of a continent (a similar pattern is seen in the Amazon)? You might think that climate scientists have this all clear and agreed long ago … but I am not certain that this is the case.  One theory, developed and promoted primarily by Anastassia Makarieva and Victor Gorshkov implies that forests are the reason we get rain in the centre of Africa and other continents is the forests.  They attract rain.

The details of the theory concern the role of water vapour in the development of atmospheric pressure gradients.  I will not detail all the basic physics here (I share key links below) but the mechanisms concern how condensation and evaporation influence atmospheric pressure and cause winds.  These winds also carry moisture which can fall as rain.

But while Anastassia and Victor have had success publishing their work in peer reviewed physics and environmental journals (please visit their site) this work lacks much recognition by climate researchers.  Some of those I have communicated with find the ideas interesting but do not see a need for a new theory when current models already “work very well”, others note that if these ideas were correct such relationships would have been identified long ago – so they “must be flawed”.  Some welcome the ideas and find them stimulating.

When I first came upon Anastassia and Victor’s work I struggled with the derivations and the often complex language – but I was intrigued too.  I was keen to know if they might be right – even if that was a small chance it would be important.  They are offering a new way to understand how climate works and a new reason to value forests.  If they are wrong?  Well fair enough that is how science works – new ideas need to be welcomed and evaluated.  What was required was getting the ideas more attention.  I persuaded a colleague of mine, Daniel Murdiyarso (a member of the IPCC) to help write a review on the ideas which we published jointly in April 2009.  That got some media coverage. You may have seen some of it: e.g. New Scientist,Scientific American and Mongabay. We even got a recent mention in the Economist. You can see our original article inBioscience (here is a text version).  In the article we highlighted – based on results presented in Anastassia and Victor’s work – the ability of the new theory to explain rainfall in the interior of large continents (see figure 1).

Figure 1 How rainfall (precipitation in meters) varies with increasing distance (in kilometers) inland in three forested (A, B, C) and six nonforested (D, E, F, G, H, I) regions. The map shows approximate locations, while the graph shows the best-fit “exponential function” trend lines. These lines fall into two groups: (1) the near-linear (gently rising) forested transects (green), and (2) the near-exponentially declining non-forested transects (orange) – From BioScience 2009-59(4):341-347.

But of course just because we were intrigued and impressed by the theory doesn’t make it right.  Perhaps there was some basic flaw that we’d all overlooked.  What was needed next was to ensure that science does what it is supposed to do: welcomes the new idea and critically appraises it for logical consistency and ability to fit reality (data).

I teamed up with Anastassia, Victor and colleagues and we agreed to try and set out the details of the physical ideas in a manner that would get noticed by the climate research community.  That is a challenge.  As an outsider you have to make sure your presentation is clear and logical and follows the conventions required by the discipline.  You have to ensure a good grasp of what has been published on related topics already.  For those who repeatedly say they “have no need” for a new theory, or “it is wrong because we would know already” we needed to spell out why doubts about the current (=conventional) theories were justified (indeed many respected climate scientists have said as much).  We also wanted to spell out how the new theory could offer new insights and opportunities – ultimately predictions are what make science.  We don’t need to prove ourselves right but we need to show how data might support or contradict our ideas.

We struggled to make the text as clear and persuasive as we could – not easy in a topic like this.  I am sure it could be better but after perhaps 20 versions, and a number of friendly readers had commented, we felt it was ready to ask wider critical feedback.  We gave our text a punchy title and submitted it to APCD, an online site where the texts and review are accessible to the public.  You can find it here.  It was accepted for review.  It got attention at various media and blog sites including here atClimate Etc, the Air Vent, and the Blackboard.

Given the interest and our hope to engage climate researchers more generally we requested JC to give us the opportunity to give you an update and invite your comments once more.  She generously agreed.

APCD had some difficulty finding two reviewers willing to assess our paper.  Dr Curry herself kindly agreed and posted her comments but at least nine others declined. We sought various solutions including posting  an appeal at WUWT that highlighted our request for a willing expert reviewer to come forward. That is solved now thanks to the helpful reaction of some climate community members to our appeal (many thanks).

Various people have already made use of the opportunity to post comments at APCD.  Some of these comments have been critical and some have been supportive.  We have responded as needed and this has allowed us to clarify and refine various points.  If you are reasonably comfortable with simple algebra and calculus and enjoy seeing science in action you can see the comments for yourself and form your own opinions.  Here is a brief summary.

Most criticisms of our work fit into one of three categories: “latent heat dominance”, “Eq. 34 is not clear”, “models already explain everything”. The first issue is considered in detail in Section 2 of our paper, where we show why the available arguments about the alleged latent heat release increasing pressure, based on consideration of adiabatic condensation at constant pressure/volume, are not valid. Unfortunately, several readers, perhaps unaware of the criticisms considered that this was not relevant. In the paper and in the discussion, we tried to explain what physics is contained in Eq. 34 and hope that readers who have the patience will now be able to follow this derivation. Finally, in the discussion we consider some modelling studies and show that they do not “explain everything” that they should.

Much of the ACPD discussion built on comments that were previously discussed in the blogosphere. Nick Stokes offered a number of comments concerning the meaning and the derivations of Equation 34 for condensation rate. These points were later raised again by the reviewers.  We have compiled the answers in Appendix 1 in our reply to Dr Curry.

Dr Gavin Schmidt commented at Jeff’s blog that the existing models explain atmospheric circulation well without involving the mechanism we propose. In our reply posted at ACPD we noted some problems with these models. These were challenged in a response from one of the authors of the original model papers.  This reply was especially valuable in that is clarified why these models cannot be used to assess the influence of condensation as we were then better able to explain in some detail in our next comment. Even those who disagree with much of the rest of our arguments might like to look at these issues in more detail as we question some of the basic concepts used in global circulation models.

Several comments pointed out previous work on the same topic.  One from Dr Gary Lackmann highlighted a number of “missing” prior publications  – this confused us a little as all but one of these was already mentioned in the main text (and the missing one was in a sense represented by a related publication by the same author).  But our reply provided an opportunity for us to explain what we felt was novel in our current work.

The all important reviewer comments were mixed but also helpful.  Dr Judith Curry identified a number of challenges that we faced and underlined that she thought the effect that we are describing is real. She identified four specific problems that she would like us to address to make the paper acceptable for publication.  We replied to these in detail and outlined a number of changes that we would like to make to the paper.

Dr Isaac Held kindly stepped in when we needed another official referee.  His comments primarily agree with previous responses. We are currently drafting our technical reply which we will post soon.  But two points that he makes deserve to be highlighted: firstly he states that our theory “has to pass a high bar” … “given the accumulated evidence, implicit as well as explicit, that argues against it” – he does not spell out either this implicit or explicit evidence, but it is presumably a statement of his confidence that climate modellers already have a reasonably good handle on how the World’s climate works.  Secondly he later suggests we avoid “appealing to authority” as “a distraction”.  There is a paradox here.  By raising the bar due to implicit evidence he is appealing to authority of climate science in general  Our appeals to authority are intended to counter the (familiar) argument that our theory is not needed, or wrong, or the bar should be raised because climate scientists already have it all fixed and sorted – Our point is that clearly climate scientists don’t have it all fixed and sorted and that some respected authorities say as much.  How else can anyone counter the “implicit” evidence that signifies a “high bar”?

Even those who disagree with our theory might concede two conclusions from the discussion so far:  a) that there is a wide range of views and opinions even among climate experts concerning the existence and impact of the vapour effect and b) that the internet offers a powerful tool in “crowd sourcing” in support of science as illustrated through testing and probing the logic and clarity of our theory.

So the story is now reaching its conclusion.  The website is public for anyone to see.

Will the theory change the World? I’m not certain … but it might.  Given current alternatives I’m still betting on the condensation-evaporation theory having a key role in understanding why I get so much rain here in Western Uganda.

Some will argue that the paper should be rejected because we cannot prove beyond all doubt that we might not be wrong.  But I would argue the opposite. Rather than raising the bar, shouldn’t we be concerned that no one has shown beyond all reasonable doubt that a new and physically sound theory of global atmospheric movement might not be right?

Moderation note: this is a technical thread that will be moderated for relevance.

118 responses to “Water vapor mischief: Part II

  1. One of the criticism of your approach has been that ‘current models already “work very well”’ so there is no need for a new theory. But do they? If they were modelling circulation patterns well they would be expected to represent precipitation accurately but they do not.

    The one graph in TAR4 showing precipitation anomalies versus observed (figure 9.18a) is hardly convincing. When one comes to compare modelled precipitation in mm versus measured precipitation the correspondence is poor.

    This also has implications for the projection of temperature; if precipitation is not accurately simulated what confidence can we place in projections that increased water vapour will reinforce the effect of increased CO2?

  2. David L. Hagen

    Very thought provoking arguments.

    It may be possible to objectively test this on a small scale by applying it to the Atmospheric Vortex Engine of Louis Michaud.
    See AVE publications

    Feeding with warm water spray versus with warm dry air should make a big difference according to your equations. They may make a big difference to the height of the AVE tornado, its speed and the pressure differences.

    Alternatively, the same AVE in a desert should operated differently from in a rain forest.

  3. David L. Hagen

    What expanded the Sahara Desert? Could have been deforestation?

    See Wadi Howar: Paleoclimatic Evidence from an extinct river system in Southeastern Sahara.

    “From 9500 – 4500 years ago the Wadi Howar flowed through an environment characterized by numerous groundwater outlets and freshwater lakes” – today rainfall is only 25 mm/year.

    Could forests be reestablished in the Sahara by planting forests progressively eastward from the ocean to leverage coriolis driven winds?

    • The drying of the Sahel may have had more to do with with an ENSO shift 5000 years ago – have a look at Fig 5 in this paper.


      There is a re-greening of the Sahel going on resulting from a recent increase in rainfall and tree planting.

      I can’t help wondering, however, if there is not also an effect from a decreasing stomatal size as a result of carbon dioxide enrichment. Stomata are involved in plant gas exchange and seem to be getting smaller as carbon dioxide concentrations increase reducing water loss – and therefore the vapour effect?

      • Chief,
        Maybe stomata are adjusting to an optimal size due to CO2 in the atmosphere?

      • Stomata are complex – what isn’t you may ask.


        It was an idle thought because I have been reading a little on it lately.

        But I am intrigued that anthropogenic changes to the atmosphere – we are agreed on that one would hope – can be optimal in other than an unlikely and accidental manner.

        Biologies and up to the level of the global ecology are non-linear systems as much as climate itself. Small changes can awaken the Dragon Kings.

  4. Roger Andrews

    Dr. Curry’s comment # 2 places this paper in perspective: “While I think that the mechanism described by M10 is correct and real, the issue is its significance in the atmosphere. It is not clear to what extent this mechanism “matters;” their thermodynamic analysis is insufficient to demonstrate the relative magnitude of this effect.”

    Until the magnitude of the effect can be quantified it seems to me that there’s not much to be said.

  5. Remiscent of the declining snos of Kilimanjaro being due to deforestation?

  6. This paper still has big problems. I had a long discussion at Air Vent on this, and I thought it was over, but here it is again.
    1. Section 2. Adiabatic condensation is associated with a pressure drop, but the authors have cause and effect reversed. The condensation won’t occur until cooling has occurred, and that in turn won’t happen adiabatically until the pressure drops. This is why rising air undergoes adiabatic condensation. Rising (i.e. pressure drop) is a pre-requisite, not a result, of reversible condensation.
    2. Section 4. This is completely unrelated to section 2, because they have cooled the air irreversibly to achieve condensation, and now the pressure reduction is from the totally different process of removal of condensate, presumably through rainfall. This irreversible process is unrelated to how clouds operate in the atmosphere where condensation is achieved through ascent (i.e. pressure drop), not diabatic cooling at constant height, as done in this section.

    • Jim D

      The condensation won’t occur until cooling has occurred

      You might consider reading a recent paper by Spengler et al. 2011 in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences to learn otherwise.

      • Dr. Makarieva:

        Mathematics shows that the sensible heat absorbed by the earth is removed by evaporating water. All air dynamics have one objective: evaporate surface water and cool the earth. Please see Article-12, Earth’s Magic then book PDF on my website: http://www.global-heat.net

      • Dr. Makarieva,
        This linked paper is on hydrostatic pressure and adjustment to mass changes. My point has nothing to do with mass removal, as your section 2 doesn’t either. My comment was on the reversible (adiabatic) condensation process that cannot occur unless the pressure drops first through adiabatic expansion.
        The your section 3 postulates an irreversible diabatic cooling process that is therefore completely unrelated to section 2, as I said in point 2.

      • Jim D

        Section 2 in our paper points out to the reader that condensation is governed by the Clausius-Clapeyron law. This argument is important, for example, in explaining why the process considered by Spengler et al. 2011 is not how the atmosphere operates and why the results of a study of such a process cannot be used to test the physicality of other studies. As is made clear by the arguments in Section 2, condensation can occur in a given point in the atmosphere in two cases: (1) if the local temperature drops or 2) if in this point there is ascending motion of moist air (which cools due to expansion).

        In line with this argument, in Section 3 it is described what happens when (1) the temperature drops, condensation occurs and vapor mass is removed from the column. While being a thought experiment, it is a thought experiment of a physically relevant process: condensation by diabatic cooling — rather than warming by spontaneous drying considered by Spengler et al.

        In Section 4, again in line with the original argument, the second opportunity for condensation — (2) ascent of moist air — is considered and the horizontal pressure gradient associated with a stationary condensation process is estimated.

        I hope this account makes some sense to you. As a matter of fact, we referred to some of your comments made at the Air Vent in the ACPD discussion (see here, p. C10931, footnote 8). Your further comments are welcome.

      • Model condensation processes as discussed in that ACPD comment are easily verified to be accurate by looking at conserved variables such as equivalent potential temperature or saturated soundings from these models. These are sufficiently conserved to maintain accurate properties of parcels and soundings. The reason is that the dynamics lifts the air to only slight supersaturation, then the isobaric saturation adjustment brings it back to equilibrium. With small time steps this process is very accurate, and real clouds also go through supersaturation anyway. Your argument that isobaric condensation cannot occur reversibly is correct, but it can occur in supersaturated conditions, and if supersaturation is small it is close to adiabatic as verified by model conservation properties.

      • Model condensation processes as discussed in that ACPD comment are easily verified to be accurate by looking at conserved variables such as equivalent potential temperature or saturated soundings from these models.

        In that comment we discuss why while the accuracy of the existing model approximations of condensation rate is sufficient for calculating latent heat release and precipitation, it is is not sufficient to determine the dynamic effects of vapor sink. In particular, it is shown (see Eq. 1) that for any formulation of condensation rate a small difference of the order of Nv/Nd (vapor mixing ratio) will be key to the determination of horizontal pressure gradients produced by vapor sink. This has never been pointed out before. Moreover, it has been recognized (see, e.g. citation by Thuburn 2008 here, p. c10933) that the existing formulations of condensation rate err precisely by this magnitude.

        Supersaturation in clouds is not relevant to the problems here discussed. It is related to the difference in maximum vapor concentrations that can be maintained over curved versus flat liquid surfaces and in the presence of high versus low concentration of condensation nuclei, i.e., it is mostly an issue of definition of saturated concentration.

        There is an essential difference between stating that “condensation occurs when and because the air cools” and between stating that “when the condensation spontaneously occurs (for unknown reason), the air warms”. The latter statement is incorrect. The former statement describes what actually happens in the atmosphere.

  7. “Rather than raising the bar, shouldn’t we be concerned that no one has shown beyond all reasonable doubt that a new and physically sound theory of global atmospheric movement might not be right?”

    No. This is messianic stuff. You should just provide convincing scientific arguments, like the rest of us are expected to.

    Your theory is not physically sound. And it has been veering off into really strange areas, like the claim that precipitation rate is directly proportional to saturated molar density (or just molar density – it is still hard to tell what Nv means).

    Equation 34 is basic to your theory. A direct derivation has not been offerred. It’s even hard to get a direct answer to the simple question of what physics it is based on.

    It seems that after a huge amount of discussion, the best we are likely to get is the commentary in Sec 4.2 of your paper. This says that in a rising column (with unclearly stated conditions) a term representing advection of water vapor (density) must have subtracted from it a term representing the change of density of noncondensing gas in the same circumstances.

    Despite many denials, that is a simple conservation of mass argument. And it’s almost right, except that the reference gas is whole air, N. That’s wrong, because that is also condensing. The correct reference gas would be dry air, and then you get the formulation I derived from Eqs 32 and 33.

    Isaac Held thought the difference was a detail. Well, it should be, except for your insistence that it is an independent equation, and can be solved together with 32 and 33. When you do that, you are left with the discrepancy representing the mistake, and that produces the weird equations that puzzled Isaac.

    • Nick Stokes

      a term representing advection of water vapor (density) must have subtracted from it a term representing the change of density of noncondensing gas in the same circumstances.

      Despite many denials, that is a simple conservation of mass argument. And it’s almost right, except that the reference gas is whole air, N. That’s wrong, because that is also condensing.

      The subtracted term represents not the change of density of noncondensing gas in the same circumstances, but the change of density of condensing gas that is not due to condensation (but is due to adiabatic expansion).

      This change is calculated using the information about the hydrostatic equilibrium distribution. This information is not contained in the continuity equation.

      The irrelevance of the mass conservation argument is also clear from consideration of vapor-only atmosphere, where there is no noncondensing gas (dry air) at all. In this case the subtracted term is purely theoretical — it represents the hydrostatic vapor distribution rather than pressure distribution of any real gas. In the real atmosphere, use is made of the fact that whole moist air N rather than dry air Nd is in hydrostatic equilibrium.

      I agree that all the complete information is present in Section 4.2. Still we did our best to provide more detailed responses to your comments, because these are fundamental points that have never been properly addressed in the meteorological literature. The difference between N and Nd is not minor — it is equal to Nv, which is the core magnitude of condensation process.

      Physics is not maths where any statement can be derived from a set of axioms. Any new finding represents a plausible guess about how nature works. This guess is then tested for compliance with the fundamental laws and used to formulate predictions that are tested by evidence.

      Eq. 34 provides a reasonable estimate of pressure gradients observed in the tropical ocean — given the characteristic values of horizontal u and vertical w velocities and precipitation rate S in the Hadley Cell. Quite a severe test for this equation would be to apply it to an atmospheric system which has a drastically different u, w and S. Nature provides us with an opportunity of such a test.

      Hurricanes are much more compact than the Hadley cell, they have a different geometry and feature more intense precipitation that is, in addition, highly non-uniform. It turns out, as we describe in our recent work, that here too Eq. 34 reproduces the observed pressure fields quite satisfactorily.

      • Joe Lalonde


        Physics figures water has no energy until you boil it and infuse energy into it to show how heat generate water vapor. This is bad logic and bad science.

        This does not include that the solar system traveling through space at 300 km/sec and is rotating at 1669.8km/sec. So water has energy infused into it by motion.
        I have been trying to break the hydro-static barrier in water as pressure under the oceans would then be freely available energy.
        So, I have had to understand the collapsing distances to a single point under the oceans that carries in a cone shape to the surface of the oceans in weight.
        I have found salt has a great influence in the oceans history and has changed since the 1970’s.

  8. From the website – ‘For centuries, starting from the works of Hadley and his predecessors, atmospheric circulation has been associated with the differential heating of the Earth’s surface and the Archimedes force which should make the warm and light air rise, and the cold and heavy air sink. The biotic pump theory describes a principally different and previously unknown driver of atmospheric circulation — air pressure drop and release of potential energy during water vapour condensation. We have shown that this physical process produces winds of observable velocities and is the main reason for atmospheric circulation on Earth. Differential heating plays a comparatively minor role being responsible for such minor wind patterns as, e.g., breezes or dust devils. This suggests a significant paradigm shift in modern meteorology.’

    Thus a nice idea is sunk under the weight of over enthusiast marketing. ‘Obviously, the Earth’s spherical shape, topography and vegetation all ensure that not every part of the Earth will receive energy in the same manner and amount. Hence there will be differences in air pressure across different locations.

    This is half the explanation of what causes wind. The second part is related to the Earth’s rotation. As the world turns, the atmosphere will turn too. Different levels of air however will also experience different effects of the rotation. Air high up in the atmosphere is not as affected as air below.’ Turbulent drag causes wind at the surface.

    A related concept to wind formation and rotation is the Coriolis force. As the Earth rotates, air in the Northern Hemisphere moves to the right while air in the Southern Hemisphere moves to the left.’

    The other factor in lack of rainfall in central Australia and lots of rainfall in western Uganda is orographic. They have mountains and we have sometime lakes in the middle of the country that are below sea level.

    I think they might need to integrate the effect back into a more realistic model and not make claims to shift the paradigm just yet.

    • “A related concept to wind formation and rotation is the Coriolis force. As the Earth rotates, air in the Northern Hemisphere moves to the right while air in the Southern Hemisphere moves to the left.”

      Chief, this has to do with motion and the greatest diameter of a circle is the equator. All other areas are smaller in circumference as you measure them individually going to the poles.
      This is why cloud cover NEVER crosses the equator not does hurricanes.

      • Indeed – hurricanes rarely get closer to the equator than 10 degrees north or south. The Coriolis force initiates spin and there is not enough near the equator to maintain the momentum – as I read somewhere long ago.

      • Joe Lalonde


        The Coriolis force is centrifugal force.

      • Joe – Quick comment: I don’t think the Coriolis force is centrifugal force. I’m rusty but my understanding of Corioilis is that it is a separate inertial force which acts to preserve angular momentum in a rotating system. Centrifugal force is the inertial reaction to the centripetal force required to accelerate a rotating body towards its centre of rotation. Sorry not to give a more clear exposition – suggest you double check.

      • Joe Lalonde

        If this force was absolutely correct, then clouds created at the equator would be showing this effect. Watching clouds from satellites shows that this effect is NOT happening. Why?
        Science has forgotten that the planet circumference is smaller as you move away from the equator.
        The circular effects are from a smaller planet and atmosphere as you go towards the poles.
        Centrifugal force is in full effect but that too is effected by the different circumference.

        This is another example of technology developed BUT the theories are unchanged from 1835.

      • Curious, you are correct. Coriolis is not the same as centrifugal force. Joe LaLonde’s statement is incorrect.

      • Joe Lalonde


        Centrifugal force does change with speed. It become less and less as the planet slows. This then accounts for gravity to become stronger as gravity starts at the planets core. The diameter of the planet has less and less centrifugal force exerting out as you go to the poles. These actions are smoothed out by gravity and pressure. Density of gases is effected by heat and cold. Cold gases are far denser than warm gases.

        Interesting correlation to the suns pull to friction is IF all the planets in this solar system started out at the same rotational speed, then the sun MUST be exerting friction to the closest planets while the electro-magnetic field it generates extends out. The other planets have different chemical and mass configurations and sizes, yet their rotational speed is close to this planet. Meaning suns rotational pull effects the speed and NOT the mass size.

      • Joe,
        I suggest you read a bit more:
        “The Coriolis effect is caused by the rotation of the earth and the inertia of the mass experiencing the effect. Newton’s laws of motion govern the motion of an object in a (non accelerating) inertial frame of reference. When Newton’s laws are transformed to a rotating frame of reference, the Coriolis and centrifugal forces appear. Both forces are proportional to the mass of the object. The Coriolis force is proportional to the rotation rate and the centrifugal force is proportional to its square. The Coriolis force acts in a direction perpendicular to the rotation axis and to the velocity of the body in the rotating frame and is proportional to the object’s speed in the rotating frame. The centrifugal force acts outwards in the radial direction and is proportional to the distance of the body from the axis of the rotating frame. These additional forces are termed either inertial forces, fictitious forces or pseudo forces.[1] They allow the application of simple newtonian laws to a rotating system. They are correction factors that do not exist in a true non accelerating “inertial” system.”

      • Joe Lalonde


        That would be correct IF the planet was a cylinder.
        But the planet is round and has a different diameter from the equator to the poles. Being a different diameter means that the pull is natural to go to the smaller diameter.

      • Joe Lalonde


        Newton had Picasso’s rotational table to reference from in making his theory. Since then technology has changes and the invention of an impossibility to Newton was the coil spring. A coil spring with weights shows how to store energy mass and gases and they relax with the inertia of motion.

  9. Why are the Amazon, the Congo and the Maritime continent the source of the wet air that we see streaming polewards in this animation http://www.intelliweather.net/imagery/intelliweather/sat_worldm_640x320_img.htm

    Answer: Because the surface area of the vegetation that is yielding water to the air is very much greater than the surface area of the ground upon which that vegetation actually grows. The vegetation yields a lot more water than does the warm tropical ocean on a surface area basis.

    Humid air is less dense than dry air.

    Once the vegetation is established it creates its own water cycle.

    Photosynthesis is a daytime activity. So, we see a strong diurnal cycle with humidity increasing from dawn onwards and convectional clouds forming in the afternoon.

    The warming of the troposphere during the day is enhanced by latent heat release and the absorbtion of long wave energy by ozone. Trace amounts of ozone exist in the tropical troposphere.

    In the tropics at 300 hpa we see a seasonal cycle of increased humidity in summer.

    According to reanalysis data, the only data that we have for the globe as a whole, specific humidity, relative humidity and precipitable water levels have all shown a decline as the surface has warmed over the last 60 years. Inference: cloud cover has declined and as it has declined more solar radiation reaches the surface (loss of global albedo).

    I don’t think the climate models would hindcast that decline in cloud cover and they attribute the warming at the surface to an entirely different cause.

    I have read recently that leaf surface area is increasing. As Chief Hydrologist points out increased availability of CO2 enables plants to thrive in drier environments. I dont htink the climate models appreciate that point either.

    In the last decade precipitable humidity seems to be staging a recovery. After a long period where humidity suffered when surface temperature increased we are now seeing a tendency for the increase in humidity to be much stronger than during the warming episodes of the recent past.

    I think it would be very difficult to capture these changing relationships in a set of mathematical equations.

    • Re: erlhapp ,
      Important observations. Thanks.

      The rainforests are manipulating the planet!

      • The rain forests and the plankton, both of whom say “Thanks for all the CO2”.

    • No, that’s not really the answer. Everywhere on land, humid or dry, over time, evaporation nearly matches precipitation. Some water flows across (or under) the land to evaporate somewhere else, but it’s usually a small fraction. So the increased surface area of humid forest doesn’t actually make more water available. It has to be supplied as rainfall, and so there is still the question of why it came there.

      • Well no – there are many interacting factors in climate and forests are simply one aspect. There are loops and feedbacks and it cannot by any means all be explained as simple chains of causality based on 1 or 2 factors.

        Evaporation always equals precipitation – cannot be otherwise. There is a surface flow of water from land to the sea and this returns as vapour from the oceans which precipitates out over land. That said trees certainly transpire more than grasses – and it is a function of the surface area. But plants transpire predominantly by far through microscopic stomata – and the area of these is limited and the number changes with CO2 and water availability. Most plants photsynthesise during the day, some at night and at least 3 use infrared – complicated.

        Most plants have some control on stomata to save water during scarcity. Only plants growing in water rich environments transpire freely and these are only found in water rich environments. Which came first? From the website – ‘The-chicken-or-the-egg problem of whether forests grow where it is wet, or it is wet where the forests grow, solves unambiguously in favour of the forests’ priority.’ I have my doubts as rainfall is unambiguously associated with persistent oceanic patterns – ENSO, IOD etc.

        ‘The results of a two-year Anglo-Brazilian study of the micrometeorology and process hydrology of undisturbed tropical rainforest at a site in central Amazonia are described. Sample measurements of dry-canopy evaporation from three intensive field campaigns and continuous measurements of rainfall interception loss are used to calibrate a micrometeorological model of evaporation from the forest canopy. Evaporation at this site is calculated by the model from September 1983 to September 1985 by using hourly-average meteorological measurements routinely taken above the canopy, and regular measurements of soil water tension averaged to a depth of one metre. The monthly evaporation derived in this way is compared with the measured precipitation and radiant energy input to the forest, and with calculated potential evaporation rates. Over the whole study period, approximately 10% of rainfall was intercepted by the forest canopy, and this accounted for 20-25% of the evaporation. The remainder occurred as transpiration from the trees. Over this same period, about one half of the incoming precipitation is returned to the atmosphere as evaporation, a process which requires 90% of the radiant energy input. These proportions exhibit some seasonal behaviour in response to the large seasonal variation in rainfall. The average evaporation over two years was within 5% of potential evaporation. Monthly-average evaporation exceeds potential estimates by about 10% during wet months, and falls below such estimates by at least this proportion in dry months.’

        The above gives some broad figures for the passage of water through the Amazon. About 50% of rainfall is returned to the atmosphere – half of that as evaporation directly and half as evapotranspiration. About half runs off or deep infiltrates. Much of the atmospheric moisture has a very short residency in the atmosphere – cooling off and precipitating sometimes on a daily basis. Land areas are 30% of the total surface area of the planet and evaporation rates are typically much less than open water evaporation. Tropical rainforest is about 12% of the surface area and has evaporation rates of perhaps 1.25 times open water evaporation. Most of the water falling on land anywhere has been evaporated from the oceans.

        This is a summary of the hydrological cycle as currently formulated – http://www.eoearth.org/article/Hydrologic_cycle

        I would be careful as well about atmospheric humidity. Evaporation and precipitation are an order of magnitude greater than atmospheric water vapour. So there is no shortage of vapour and this must be held in greater volume in a warmer atmosphere. See – http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-3-20.html

        I am not arguing against this idea – merely saying that it needs to be put in a much broader context. The essential moisture flux proposed is pretty much the same as in the conventional scheme. In the conventional scheme forests absorb a lot of energy and much of this is transformed into latent heat in water vapour transpired from stomata. Warm air rises carrying the vapour aloft – this creates a convectional current drawing air and moisture in. Cooling adiabatically or diurnally results in precipitation and a lowering of the water content in the air column. Dry air is denser than moist air so surface pressure increases? No – there is something I am missing.

        It is this idea here. ‘The molar density of moist air is equal to the sum of molar densities of dry air components and water vapour. When the water vapour condenses, its molar density diminishes and the air pressure drops.’ Does this depend on a bounded space as conceptualised at the website and no turbulent mixing? I would have some doubts about this central concept in the real world.

    • How can saturated air be less dense than dry air?

      • Because the molecular mass of water (18 g/mol) is less than the molecular mass of dry air (around 29 g/mol).

  10. “Climate scientists acknowledge many areas of uncertainty but the suggestion that a principle cause of global atmospheric motion has been neglected is, understandably, hard to swallow.”

    Judith, this is what I have been trying to show all along.
    Plus the shape of the planet in motion has also NOT been considered.

  11. Judith,

    When you get down to the fine art of planetary understanding, then you find a highly complex system in water vapor itself that changes with heat/cold, wind, density, height in atmosphere, atmospheric pressure, gravity, etc.

    Molecular motion is also understanding that besides molecules vibrating when heated, wind can spin the molecules. Hence the creation of snowflakes. This can be recreated on a rotating table to show how the spread in motion of water vapor at freezing is on a two dimensional plane like the planets rotation.

  12. Interesting paper, and an intriguing mechanism. I read criticisms at various places, but I don’t see that any preclude this from being significant over fairly large areas. Clearly, global circulation patterns over oceans don’t seem to be driven by the effect, but the rainfall variation from ocean to inland is highly suggestive that this mechanism is worthy of more study.

    Just to throw another factor into the mix, water is a good absorber of IR, while leaves are IR reflectors, resulting in a reinforcing mechanism in forested areas.

  13. Judith,

    Not considered is that the laws we generate for this planet MUST be functional in the past at a different rotation.
    They also have to apply to EVERY other planet and sun in order to be correct.

  14. Judith,

    Another area missed is density and compressibility(which stores energy). In motion, these change with the change of the speed of motion.

  15. The models explain the climate system well enough already!

    Maybe water vapour creates wind, maybe it does not. Maybe gravity exists, maybe gravity doesn’t exist. Maybe a a force, as yet undiscovered, but with equal properties to gravity exist!

    All that it takes to consider it is a mind open to the notion that understanding isn’t complete.

    • epicycles explained well enough the orbit of the planets with the earth at the center of the universe. models explain climate with ACO2 at the center of their universe.

  16. Joe – FWIW, as an observer I haven’t seen a treatment of the mechanical effects of the Earth’s rotation on atmospheric circulation. I have had a brief look for it but not found anything. This included scanning Ray Pierre Humbert’s recent work, which I think is well regarded.

    However I am sure this knowledge/treatment must exist as it seems to me to be a fundamental effect of having a rotating sphere inside a gravitationally retained atmoshere. I post this comment in the hope that someone will be able to point me to appropriate sources. Thanks in advance for tips.

    • Curious,

      You will not find much on circular motion.
      What was available in the past was Picasso’s rotational table that would give outside observed. Physics looked at a circle and rotating that circle without looking into the difference from the center on out to the circumference. This is the basic of understanding motion and that it.

      I went much further and went into the whole understanding of the mechanics of the radius compared to the circumference of a circle in motion. Through understanding the mechanics I was able to recreate the ability to compress and store energy through rotational motion.
      Things that use a circle that you do not know is:
      A centrifuge. It is only one radius on a full circle and can change density with speed.
      A lever. To lift an object you need a pivot point and a pole with a weight.
      A coil spring in physics is an impossibility but makes a fantastic proxy to show how motion on a circular plane can compress gases and mass, storing energy.

      • Thanks Joe – though I think we might be interested in different apsects of this. I was wondering more about the circulation invoked in the atmsophere simply by the fact that it is a gaseous shell held by gravity around a rotating sphere. Hence I think that surface friction will induce some of the gaseous shell to follow along, however as the latitude varies the tangential surface velocity of the sphere will vary and thus I expect there will be windshear. I am expecting that as the atmosphere gets further away from the earth it slips relative to the speed of rotation of the earth’s surface and hence I am expecting wind and mixing effects. I’d also expect that for any given molecule there will be a relationship between the centripetal acceleration provided by gavity and the inertial centrifugal acceleration provided by its instantaneous tangential velocity. I might be completely wrong, and as I say, I would expect this to be a well understood aspect of atmospheric dynamics. At some point I will look some more.

      • IF you look up into the sky most days, you will see a rather large Moon, the computer models don’t have a knob to adjust the effects of the lunar tides in the atmosphere and oceans. So they just ignore it all together. This study has some good ideas, but I think the moon and its atmospheric tidal effects is a more serious driver of the global circulation.

        The builders of Stonehenge studied how the declinational effects of the sun and moon were causing the halting retreat of the Ice age as the ENSO effects at the time were more pronounced than now.

        Below is a link to how the lunar declinational tides create and move the jet streams and Rossby waves around.


        Feel free to browse the site and read a few of the captured lead ins to threads of interest, it’s all free.

      • Richard – thanks for the comments and link.

        You might be interested in this:



        Apologies if already aware.

      • Joe Lalonde


        The current understood dynamics of the atmosphere is by observed science with bad physics to shore it up in individualized areas.
        Unless you meat sliced the planet and atmosphere to show there are massive difference in many interacting areas that are smoothed with gravity and pressure from the equator to the poles.
        Anomalies such a lightening have to have molecules to travel up with the energy force from the planets surface.
        There is an extremely close relationship of the atmosphere to that of an electric motor when studying electro-magnetic gravity.
        Plant, animal life and water get their minerals and energy from the surface of the planet. Brain synapses and lightening are very closely related.

    • The angular momentum of the Earth and atmosphere is constant – it is all spun up as one long since. I see no reason to suspect that the upper atmosphere isn’t rotating as a whole along with the Earth – there being no viscous drag on the upper boundary. The atmosphere is held in place through a balance of centripetal and centrifugal force.

      There is an exchange of angular momentum between the atmosphere and Earth as winds blow in different directions due to pressure differentials slowing and speeding rotation of the planet.

      The other reference was to latitude – and there are rotational effects here known as the Coriolis force. But I suspect that was a typo for altitude?

  17. Dr Gavin Schmidt commented at Jeff’s blog that the existing models explain atmospheric circulation well without involving the mechanism we propose.

    Well, doen’t this show he is not a scientist.

    “models explain everything” = “God explains everything”

  18. …”Even those who disagree with our theory might concede two conclusions from the discussion so far: a) that there is a wide range of views and opinions even among climate experts concerning the existence and impact of the vapour effect and b) that the internet offers a powerful tool in “crowd sourcing” in support of science as illustrated through testing and probing the logic and clarity of our theory.” (D Shiell)

    Based upon comments made by Dr Held, if they truly reflect the pH of the water in the Psyence of Climatology at the moment, your work may not be “Accepted and Printed”. Two points: 1.) Thanks to the webreview process at ACPD and websites like this one, you have been “PUBLISHED” and your work is part on the science of the day, it cannot be “Rejected” it can only be ignored; 2.) Climatology is no different than any other field, if it is to survive it must grow, and all questions must be answered sooner or later.

  19. Shining Raven

    Regarding the “confusion” in the communication with Dr. Lackmann: As far as I understand from his comments on the paper, you might cite his work, but you do not seem to engage with his actual arguments in these papers.

    There seems to be agreement that the effect is real, but that you are overstating the magnitude of this effect. Lackmann and collaborators apparently have assessed the effect in realistic systems and say that it is measurable but not dominant.

    To back up your claims you would need to engage with this result and show changes due to this effect in actual large-scale calculations.

    From what I read in the reviews, it also seems that there are several atmospheric models that already take this effect into account, does it not?

    • In our paper we cited what we believe is the main finding of Drs. Lackmann and Yablonski: their observation that all the pressure drop that occurs while the hurricane forms can be explained by precipitation alone. Had this observation been available to early hurricane theorists (before the current conventional wisdom got established), my guess is that now we could have had a very different view on the reasons of hurricane formation.

      Regarding the numerical results of L&Y2004 model, in our reply to Dr. Lackmann we indicate that nobody has checked these results against any independent physical considerations. Why did they observe a 30% rise in hurricane intensity? And not 3% or 0.3% or 300%? Other models, like those of Bryan and Rotunno 2009, found the effect to be practically non-existent. Other modellers with whom we communicated found that in their models including the vapor sink caused a decrease in intensity. They admitted that they do not understand the discrepancy with the results of L&Y2004. Neither did Bryan and Rotunno (2009) discuss this discrepancy.

      My judgement is that there is no comprehensive understanding of the vapor sink physics in the modern climate community.

      In our recent paper on hurricane wind and pressure profiles we show that the vapor sink fully determines the pressure field of the hurricane. You mention “engagement” in your comment. From our side, we are undertaking serious efforts to show why the existing theoretical and model accounts of the vapor sink are not satisfactory, see, e.g., here and the ACPD discussion.

      • Contains more than heat,
        Wayne’s world of wind and water.
        Toto told me so.

  20. Douglasinuganda

    “messianic? No just a heart-felt plea to side-step a prevalent “confirmation bias” for the status quo. There is no scientific reason to raise the bar for surprising ideas and to lower it for ones that fit your preconceived notions – indeed the opposite makes more sense. A vibrant science should embrace stimulating new ideas and ways to look at problems, not look for ways to dismiss them with little engagement. My point is that there is no “big threat” from publishing a theory that later turns out to be wrong … but rejecting an idea that later turns out to be right and offers important new insights might be a real loss.

    Be clear that I am not saying that we should not be subject to critical scrutiny – on the contrary I welcome that (thanks). I agree we should try and be convincing, but the fact that not everything we say is 100% clear and obvious to everyone is a high standard to expect and not one required for most papers in most sciences. I dont think it should be either. We are publishing an idea, a hypothesis; we don’t need to prove it is right only that it is not obviously wrong.

    If we had applied the kind of thinking you seem to demand here to the theory of General Relativity it would not have been published – few at the time grasped the derivations or what they meant or believed that it was anything more than a stimulating idea. But it was published. Later the observations were also made to confirm its predictions – most people were surprised.

    Equation 34 should ultimately be tested by empirical observations. We have done our best to explain what it means , why it makes sense and how the reasoning can be evaluated. You don’t have to believe it to view it as a valid hypothesis — that is not the criterion to use. The core reasoning has not been contradicted by anything presented in the discussions so far (certainly we shall strive to be clearer! But that is a different issue). The same goes for the magnitude of the effect: we make our estimates. My hope is that people either show a fundamental flaw in these ideas or step up to test them.

  21. Douglasinuganda

    “Shining Raven”
    Thanks for the comment on Dr. Lackmann’s models.
    Our concern is with the physics embodied in these models. We are not convinced these are “realistic”. We deal with this in some detail in the comments at the site (see link above in paragraph discussing Dr Lackmann). See what you think.
    I hope it helps clarify …

  22. Douglasinuganda

    David L. Hagen

    Thanks for all those interesting links. Fascinating. Will take me a little time to digest though (slow links here)!

    Any novel ways to test these ideas are welcome. The Sahara idea is interesting too . I think the ideas match well with what we know about Australia. The weakening monsoons in West Africa too might have a relation with land-cover change. All fascinating ideas that should be properly and critically evaluated!

    Best wishes


  23. Harold Pierce Jr

    ATTN: Joe Lalonde

    I view the the earth as a rotating mixer with vanes (or paddles) that are the continents and in particular the high mountain ranges. The fluid that is mixed is the atmosphere below 30,000 ft. The other fluid that is mixed is ocean water.

    The Americas span the earth from nearly pole to pole. As the earth rotates these high moutains such as the Andes on the west coast mix the atmosphere especially at the equator where the land speed is ca 1,000 mph.

    The reason the Aamzon get so much rain is that the land moves very fast “under” the eastern Atlantic air which is pushed up to over ca 20,000 ft as it contacts the eastern slopes of the Andes.

    How do GCM’s take into account the mixing effects of the various high mountain ranges? These mixing effects also result in a non uniform distribution of atmopheric mass.

    • Joe Lalonde


      At the equator, the two hemispheres circulate opposite of each other. This is the area of the greatest centrifugal force.

      I agree that the difference in landmass height has a great deal to do with the differences in wind speeds circulation and interaction.
      If you notice the mountains are positioned all along the west coasts of land masses with a curling effect along the east coasts that positioned the mountain ranges on the east coasts differently.

  24. Douglasinuganda

    Ron Manley
    Thanks – agreed! Plenty of room for doubt remains.

  25. Douglasinuganda

    Roger Andrews
    “Until the magnitude of the effect can be quantified it seems to me that there’s not much to be said.”

    Indeed there is debate on the magnitude of the effect. We show, based on basic physical derivations, that the pressure gradients are large: i.e. sufficient to drive atmospheric circulation. Such a first principles approach for competing hypotheses are not available …

    We agree that these mechanisms should be properly evaluated to gauge the magnitude of the effect. That is best seen as an empirical question I think: it should be tested in the real world (not in heavily paramerised models).

    Best wishes

  26. Douglasinuganda

    Thanks for the comments.
    Indeed these forest areas have a major impact on regional and perhaps global climate. The thing that has intrigued me is the hug volumes of water flowing out of these regions … somehow there needs to be an equal flow of moisture coming in …
    Best wishes

  27. Douglasinuganda

    Thanks Chief Hydrologist and others for the thoughts and suggestions.

    The rich and detailed feedback is appreciated. Certainly the processes that govern the climate are complex and open to many debates on the importance of different aspects. Please continue to keep an open mind on this until (if!) someone can soundly refute it … that is all I am looking for!

    Best wishes

  28. Joe Lalonde


    There are a great deal of experimentation that has been tainted due to our lack of understanding in atmospheric density.
    Just to throw a balloon filled with water will give it forward motion but it will also distort the shape due to the density of the atmosphere. Atmospheric pressure and gravity will pull that balloon to the planet surface. But what allows it to stay in the air is centrifugal force from the planet from the rotational motion and atmospheric density.

    Currently studying the bands of electro-magnetic energy that the rotating sun and rotating planet gives out that interacts to keep motion moving for extremely long periods of time.

  29. Hi
    Have you considered the thermal barrier theory?
    Having been involved in a plan to move millions of tonnes of treated waste water from the coasts of Europe to the arid coasts of North Africa, South Africa and the Middle East, using the return ballast capacity of bulk shipping including Very Large and Ultra Large Crude Carriers (VLCC’s and ULCC’s) which currently transport sea water as ballast for no financial gain and at a significant financial loss to tanker owners, to reforest desert shores to breach the thermal barrier that is evident on such coastlines and which aids the migration of birds.
    Once heated, arid soils, stones and coastal road surfaces cause the air to rise high into the atmosphere, forming a barrier to incoming clouds, mist and fog.
    Reforesting said areas will inevitably seed the formerly dry atmosphere with moisture, which cools the air causing it to become denser and in doing so alter the pressure on the coast so that moisture can cross inland as it does along estuaries.
    Currently moisture is predominantly channelled along arid coastlines, moving to areas where forests have breached the thermal barrier, often causing floods in said areas.
    Grasses transpire moisture, but rapidly dry out due to root depth. Trees on the other hand continue to transpire moisture throughout loner periods of drought and prime the atmosphere with moisture continuously. Trees also condense moisture on their leaves, effectively harvesting fog / mist, which are after all low level clouds.
    I believe that many deserts are formed when coastal areas are overexploited by removing forests, cultivating grasses and overgrazing animals. Once exposed, the thermal barrier is put in place, which leads to inland forests becoming dryer for longer periods. This inevitably leads to forest fires, as we have seen in the USA and other countries.

    I also believe that the clear felling on the East coast of the Amazon along with farming practices, roads, dwellings has led to the recent droughts in the Amazon.

    We are currently seeking funding for a pilot project to demonstrate how reforesting a coast, using waste water in Andalucia Spain, will alter the local climate and increase precipitation and humidity.

    I have set up a new forum at my website in the hope that we can engage with people, like yourselves, who are interested in testing these theory’s with a practical project.

    You may also be interested in a video on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoO-OAvEdPQ

    • Nice bit of practical climatology. Has to work. Increasing CO2 levels will assist once the bridgehead is established.

      • Thanks fr the thumbs up Erl Very interesting discussion here, enjoying reading the input for everyone. In support of Anastassia and Victor et al, there is the Ngorongoro-crater example, where a lake and rainforest exist surrounded by desert, that might be worth investigating further.

        At present we are relying on winds to pull water across arid lands, where the coasts are exposed to the suns energy. Where forest meats the coast as is the case in The Forest Massiefe , a coastal forest in Southern France planted by local people, who simply wanted a forest, a completely different picture of climatology is painted. Here we have wetlands and flowing water, yet the surrounding areas are more often than not, experiencing a much dryer climate.
        The same applies to the East coast of Majorca. I have been there when the streets are flowing like rivers and in the same day, the over developed West coast is cloudless and scorching hot. Along the South coast of Spain, where dense forest meets the coast, it was also pouring with rain all day, while 4 kilometres away, more urban areas were again cloudless, hot and not so much as a hint of rain.
        The Khareef in Oman, where forest is still sustained by seasonal changes in weather, though the remaining forest is heavily over grazed. Here, the Wind of plenty brings in fog and heavy rains, transforming the desert into lush green meadows.

        The Boscastle flood in Cornwall UK happened when the forested valley held onto a a rain-cloud until all of it’s moisture had been relieved onto the land, causing buildings and vehicles to be washed into the sea.

        While admittedly all anecdotal, it is difficult to imagine how the existing model for climate deals with these examples and there are many more.


      • DouglasinUganda

        Thanks for the stimulating ideas. I also have been wondering if we find suitable geographical sites and conditions to make a reasonably clean test of some of these ideas. The effect of terrain/relief etc. are all complications …
        Please feel free to share further thoughts – I think a constructive debate on tests woule be very valuable.
        Best wishes

      • Second the comments re: terrain and relief – mountains are pretty good at shifting air masses from one height to another!

    • Andrew,
      The idea of reforestation of arid coastal regions is, if it can be made to work, the sort of thing would benefit most major stakeholders in the region.
      By solving a problem for shipping interests, you are making this a practical project.
      If in fact you can get viable reforestatoin established the implications would be very positive.
      Do you have any projections as to how far inland this change would impact?
      What kind of trees are you considering?
      As to your desertification theory- do you have anything peer reviewed to support it? It sounds plausible enough, but it would be interesting to see if others have studied it.
      What about use of the water for commercial agricultural, by the way?

      • Hunter,
        I doubt there is a limit to how far inland reforestation can be achieved, thought the model we have is agroforestry based to make it both sustainable and monetarily productive in the short and long term.

        Once the thermal barrier is breached, we keep moving the operation inland and along the coast and most of all recycle the local increased humidity back to the soil by surrounding the planted areas with fog nets. This will provide potable water for the labour force and animals, along with additional irrigation support. Rather than picturing the thermal barrier as being breached it is merely moved inland and will still exist over the arid land on the edge of the irrigated land. The Hadley cell indicates that evaporation from the land will move towards the centre of the continent along with additional incoming moisture from the sea. As temperatures fall at night, we anticipate that rain will become more frequent and while the clouds are moving across the land temperatures will inevitably drop. In a nutshell, reforesting the coastline should significantly increase rainfall and humidity over huge distances, supplementing agriculture and in Spain’s case drought has become a major political concern over the last decade with the EU funding some E28 billion in waste water companies.
        Using waste water from areas where water salinity is low in areas where it is high, offers a means to recover soils where salinity from over irrigation has decreased productivity. It also offers an economical way of recharging aquifers with clean water, where the ground becomes the filter. But we also need to apply the treated waste solids to the degraded soils to prevent excess run off and the need for constant irrigation, the opposite to current practices where growing grasses and overgrazing desiccates the soil.

      • Regarding trees, A Pocket Full Of Acorns (a simple project aimed at encouraging the public to collect seeds and saplings from under parent trees to bring along and plant them as volunteers) delivered it’s objectives and grabbed the attention of the media, encouraging schools all over the U.K. to adapt the project for creating woodlands. We now have a 25 foot woodland with a huge variety of native trees in Cockington, Torquay that has holly, crab apple, chestnut,hazel,ash,spindle,field maple etc and looks fantastic. The project won the support of the World Conservation Union and I have seen one of their video’s showing people in Africa taking part in a similar project aimed at reducing the distances they walk for fuel and water.

        We think that trees that transpire adequate water to seed the atmosphere is the way forward, rather than using trees that require little water. Fruit trees would be a good start to produce crops and deciduous trees for conditioning the soils rather than evergreens, though timber products are required to provide incentives for the people who will manage the land reclaimed.

        Avoiding monoculture cash crops wherever possible, will help against pests and fires.

        Hert’s University have offered to conduct a study of the literature to see if the theory can be tested, but I suspect we will need to conduct a practical field study to test the theory, hence the pilot in Andalucia.

        As for peer reviewed work, there are some examples, including Darwin s work on Ascension Island, where the Navy helped to reforest a considerable area that is self sustaining. http://www.globalwhisperer.com/2010/09/ascension-island-darwins-best-kept-secret/

        There are several papers from Egypt, Iran, Morocco,Israel, where waste water has been shown to sustain forestry in arid soils, to the point that Egypt is now an exporter of timber. Olive trees in Italy yield 50% more fruit when irrigated with waste water, compared to the same trees irrigated with fresh water.

      • Ascension Island: “After just twenty years, a massive forest of Norfolk Pine, Bamboo, Banana Trees, and Eucalyptus had sprung up mountain peaks. The results were absolutely earth-shattering. The climate of the island was changed overnight, thick clouds would collect at this highest points. Moisture was attracted and collected by the trees, creating dark ‘cloud forest’ on the higher elevations across Ascension. Streams began to form as moisture began to collect on the westward side of the island. The experiment was a monumental success. ”

        More anecdotal evidence that trees bring rain: http://www.cdeclips.com/en/arts_n_life/fullstory.html?id=63540

      • Singapore!

  30. Douglas,
    Your post is a pleasure to read. It struck just the right note I thought. Curiosity, deference, urbanity altogether very civilized and a pleasure to read.

    Yes, lots of moisture out must be balanced by lots of moisture coming in. I wonder what the loss is in relation to the volume in the internal circulation?

    Re: Dr Gavin Schmidt commented at Jeff’s blog that the existing models explain atmospheric circulation well without involving the mechanism we propose.

    I wonder if Gavin’s models can explain the loss of surface atmospheric pressure south of latitude 50° south since 1948? That loss of surface pressure and the gain in the zone of traveling high pressure cells at 30-40° south has resulted in the gradual strengthening of the north westerly winds over time. I wonder if his models can hind-cast the change in the Arctic Oscillation over the last 60 years.

    New ideas tend to stay very fresh for an inordinate length of time.

    • Joe Lalonde


      Have you noticed that since the pressure is less, the surface salt is more?
      The density shift of salt from the rotational centrifugal force has brought it to the surface.

      I was studying when evaporation started and found that salt is the major player on this planet and can be followed by looking at the oldest salt mine to have a date when ocean salt became more and more diluted.

      By the way, thank you! I was guessing on the atmospheric pressure having to change to bring salt back to the surface, but now you gave a time line that fits in with the salt starting to change in around 1967. On oceanographer was taking samples of the different salt changes that are occurring on the ocean surface.

    • DouglasinUganda

      Thanks for the encouragement.
      I cannot comment on these questions with any authority (as an ecologist who has to sift the climate papers these are not questions I have an asnwer to). I imagine these basic numbers must be reasonably well know though (somewhere in the vast literature). As for the trends in pressure I’m sorry to say I have no idea … but would be fascinated to know more if you have it.
      Best wishes

  31. Great need for data;
    Sure, the money will be there.
    Power and Control.

  32. Geoengineer,
    So mindful of those downstream.
    Common tragedy.

  33. Hi Anastassia, Judith,

    I still say you need to pass your paper to some soaring (sailplane) associations to ask for some reviews by pilots of your theory whether it is the condensation or merely heat which rules pressure systems and cloud formations. They are the best to pass back some real life (empirical) evidence of this phenomena you propose for they touch those cumulus clouds regularly without engines to mask the effects. Sounds a bit outlandish but observation is always better than mere equations. The equations are to back up the observations. Most pilots have some science background.

    I know that it on the micro scale but large frontal systems are only a conglomerate of these same micro effect. Any satellite photo shows that.

    As I told you before Anastassia, I have first hand experiences that very suction your equations imply and it is clearly not from mere heat, it is the condensation, the sudden decrease in volume as the gas within goes to liquid or solid.

    • DouglasinUganda

      Stimulating ideas — if anyone can make this a real test of alternative theories I’d certainly be all in favour …
      Best wishes

    • FWIW – I recall other flight based comments on the original threads at tAV with relevant observations. Might be worth going back and having a search.

  34. Joe Lalonde


    You keep looking at trying to clarify uncertainty.
    Past science NEVER had the advantage of satellites, measurements or advanced technology. Yet the theories still stand even though the current observed technology say it is garbage.

    Much of uncertainty can be clarified by measurements and understanding the differences in motion changes that has created the planetary changes of evolution.

    • DouglasinUganda

      Dear Joe
      And clarifying uncertainty in a system you think you understand in principle is very different to one where you acknowledge large gaps in understanding …
      We need to ensure we dont keep sweeping those awkward doubts and questions under the carpet … even if noone notices it we’re going to trip over that growing bump!
      A healthy science is one in which all the doubts, questions and alternatives are repeatedly reviewed and evaluated until they are better understood (leading to new questions) or categorically dismissed based on evidence.
      Best wishes

      • Joe Lalonde


        For years, I have been trying to get physicists and scientists to look at my work. 99% ignored me while the rest quoted theories that was passed down. Not a single person looked at the work.
        So, rather than waste more time, I kept moving on into the field of circular motion and learned a great deal from the science.
        NOT from someones conclusions or passed to peer-reviewed papers.
        I am in an area of no peer reviewers so my works has to be better than correct.

      • Joe, this would be because you have never provided any links to your work or explanations beyond a paragraph or two, and a significant portion of what you say is demonstrably incorrect (if I am interpreting it correctly). So no one has any idea what you are talking about.

      • It is worse than incorrect, it is largely incoherent. Joe has his own technical language, which we do not understand. For example consider this referring expression: “the differences in motion changes that has created the planetary changes of evolution.” I have no idea what the phrase “the planetary changes of evolution” refers to, so the sentence is meaningless to me. In logic this is called an opaque context.

      • Joe Lalonde


        Do you trust mechanics or what you have been taught through many theories that have not been updated to technology?
        How about history dates(but that too has trust in measurement of rock dating)? Compression of gases to liquids in containers?
        I have very few links to provide due to massive theory and conclusions that are incorrect to the mechanics never seen before.
        There is a huge correlation between power generation rotation(which is being done incorrect to efficiency) and planetary rotation in that they work with energy.
        The mass area being used in power generation wastes far more energy than it harvests.

        I’m really not trying to make anyone feel inadequate as the harm which theories have done over the years have clouded real science.
        I am willing to have it ripped apart. But first the basic circle and the interaction with motion would have to be shown as to why current math and laws are incorrect.

      • Joe,
        With all due respect, present your work instead of summarize it.
        The one link you provided to my question some time ago was interesting.
        But until you can reconcile the difference between what you say, and the commonly used definitions for these terms, you are not going to get very far.
        Personal example: I can post at length citations to support my assertion about historical parallels between AGW and previous historic movements and experiences. And I do so.
        I may be right (I am confident I am) and I may be wrong (I doubt it), but I can do more than post or re-post summary statements and closing arguments.
        Give it a shot.
        You say your work has to be more than correct. Is that like being committed 110%?

      • Joe Lalonde


        There is a sacrifice of NEVER thinking singularly again.

  35. DouglasinUganda

    Thanks everyone for the discussion so far. I’m grateful for all the feedback both supportive and critical. I’ll be offline a day or two now (perhaps more) but would like to pose a couple of questions that arise from the discussion so far. Perhaps we can crowd source our thinking once again … I’d very much welcome your thoughts:

    –When should unproved theories be published and when not? How controversial can they be and how can we avoid “confirmation bias” (that is only accepting what we already believe to be true … widely considered one of science’s “deadly sins”)?
    –Any proposals on how the condensation-evaporation theory can be tested in a neat empirical manner ?

    Many thanks – hope to be back online in time and would welcome your thoughts.
    Best wishes

    • Douglas,

      Thanks for the comment above. Sorry I didn’t address that to you, instead of Anastassia and Judith, sometimes I start writing before I have even read the whole post. That was the case.

      You know, see this map, http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/EM/Images/trndo_map.jpg, I live right in the middle of that dark red splotch in the center of Oklahoma. Tornado alley some call it. That is why I found Anastassia’s post at WUWT so intriguing. I have always lived here, right in the hot-bed of atmospheric phenomena and have experienced much of what I assume your theory should show.

      I had conversed with Anastassia at length at Anthony Watts site and I keep thinking of your dilemma; how do you prove, beyond a doubt if possible, your theory? I’m not sure what kind of weather you have in Uganda, if that is your home, or what Russia experiences, but in Oklahoma, every spring, from mid-April into summer, we have this phenomena called the dry-line formed. This is a division that forms along the western border of Oklahoma-Kansas and the Texas panhandle-Colorado where cool dry air dropping off of the Rocky Mountains meets the warm moist air flowing in from Mexico Pacific side usually. That is where the great meteorological fireworks begin (and the tornadoes usually).

      It is not the tornadoes I am speaking of but the frontal systems forming off of this dry-line, that seems a perfect place to get the data you need to do some real computing using your equations. Just south of Oklahoma City there is a state-of-the-art NOAA center, along with the latest one-of-a-kind Doppler radars that can give you city-block resolution precipitation, horizontal and vertical wind speeds, etc. That might be exactly what you need.

      I guarantee you, across Oklahoma are some of the most awesome storms you can imagine and I just cannot roughly estimate how in the world all I see and experience is caused by heat alone. Just doesn’t compute upstairs. A little example, this was just 10 miles to the east of me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFv2W7Duqiw . Many super-cells as this one occur here quite often: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc4eYdyx0XA. Notice the mobile radar, they’ve got it covered! With adequate data of one of these events could you possibly compute whether this is heat-only or heat-plus-condensation driven?

      It’s not the Atlantic/Brazil rain forest system but might be just as useful.

      Does that ring a bell? Might be able to help getting you hooked into some of that data with NOAA’s blessing. Don’t know who to contact or how to approach this, but willing to help if possible, if you don’t have such real-time data already. Dr. Curry has my email if needed.

      • Dear Wayne

        Thank you very much for your continued interest and your comments.

        When Douglas asks

        –Any proposals on how the condensation-evaporation theory can be tested in a neat empirical manner ?

        we need to bear in mind that a similar question can be addressed to the standard view on wind formation. How can one prove that winds are driven not by the vapor sink, but by temperature gradients?

        In the paper we suggest a comparison between tornadoes and dust devils: the latter develop across huge temperature gradients but rarely if ever reach the tornado intensity.

      • How can one prove that winds are driven not by the vapor sink, but by temperature gradients?

        I follow, inversely prove the null hypothesis is not possible, that is really the better of the two approaches. That is why I said that doesn’t compute (roughly) in my mind after seeing the effects of so many of these events. With some adequate data you should be easily able to prove that it is not merely heat.

      • DouglasinUganda

        Thanks Wayne
        That’s an exciting idea. Having these kinds of data could be very useful if someone can help us make sense of them.
        I guess we’d really need to team up with some broad-minded meteorological scientists who know how to examine these data and help us compare predictions.
        Best wishes

      • Wayne

        Don’t know who to contact or how to approach this, but willing to help if possible, if you don’t have such real-time data already.

        It is not easy to obtain data even from published studies in meteorological literature. Today there are published data on 3D circulation of only three tornadoes. That is, people published graphs where vertical, tangential and horizontal velocity is shown as dependent on radius. (One of those three tornadoes, by the way, happened in Oklahoma in 1999.) I contacted the authors of these studies several times. None of them ever replied.

      • That’s my point. You are speaking from a much more academic level than I was, of pre-published data. I mean, if possible, go directly to the source, the Doppler radar site and see if it possible to get a recording of an upcoming storm event as it happens, not of one sometime in the past. It might take a few tries to get exactly the data you need.

        Also I’m not sure if tornado data per se would be better for you, or just a huge super cell Oklahoma storm 30 km high or so that come through regularly. Those usually spawn tornadoes but you never know in advance where of course so that data would be magnitudes harder to come by.

        When I speak of data I am speaking of recordable data, not on broadcast on radio frequencies. I’m speaking out of my league here, but much of the real-time data you see on all three tv stations here may not be broadcasting through internet channels but that data may be actually be broadcast by radio (for speed) from the Norman radar site to subscribers such as television stations, so therefore, that would be much harder to capture. I simply don’t know yet.

        I really need to call someone either at National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Norman, Oklahoma or someone in the meteorology department at the University of Oklahoma who regularly use this data for studies. Let me see if I can get someone on the horn before going any further. All of what I am saying may not even be possible.

        After watching this for years, four or five times a year, you tend to get the pattern of what is happening in these storms. See if I’m right. You would need a state-wide low resolution reading of wind vectors, humidity, and temperature from the weather stations every 15 minutes of so and a map of total rainfall as it passes through. You would also need the high-resolution radar readings to give a per-altitude slice profiles of the storm to calculate volume and height, wind vectors horizontally and vertical, and real-time precipitation to find out how much water vapor is being precipitated internally (the rate) in the clouds and falling out to calculate the volume collapse. I’m not sure if instantaneous pressures are available. The inflow at a given humidity should give you the same as the precipitation falling out from the concentrated storm and the local pressure should show a decrease as the precipitation increases. Isn’t that basically right? It being the precipitation of condensed matter that causes the pressure differentials.

        All of that seems to be available, for that is what the local television stations show you as these come through. In recent years they even stop all normal shows and you get two hours of non-stop weather data on all three channels. Not sure if you have the same or even know what I’m talking about, the weather information here has absolutely blossomed in the last fifteen years. It is quite amazing and it seems there should be enough for you, Douglas and team.

        Now I can see that if precipitation is not actually occurring there will also be some mild pressure difference from heat only. As you said, there are dust devils and fire devils in forest fires but neither come close to a real, very moist tornado! So is it heat, or is it condensation? Both but the later is hundreds of times more prevalent, to me anyway.

      • Correction: I should have picked up my calculator. Please change that 30km to 30,000 feet or about 10 km.

  36. “–Any proposals on how the condensation-evaporation theory can be tested in a neat empirical manner ? ”

    How about using artificial condensation nuclei to introduce large scale condensation and pressure drop?

    • I realise that people here are already familiar with Seeding rain-clouds to release rain by introducing small particles from aircraft’s, is in operation in Thailand and many more countries:

      • DouglasinUganda

        Yes indeed.
        I wonder if any of the studies that must have been done by researchers who developed these techniques might be able to help identify any local influence on pressure and air movements? Its a long shot but might there be useful data already somewhere?

    • DouglasinUganda

      Thanks Edim
      I like the idea. We’d need to think what kind of measurements are needed and what kind of instruments could provide that — I wonder if anyone out there has some knowledge of that? I imagine it’d be technically demanding but it may well be something that can be done.
      Best wishes

  37. This paragraph says it all.

    But while Anastassia and Victor have had success publishing their work in peer reviewed physics and environmental journals (please visit their site) this work lacks much recognition by climate researchers. Some of those I have communicated with find the ideas interesting but do not see a need for a new theory when current models already “work very well”, others note that if these ideas were correct such relationships would have been identified long ago – so they “must be flawed”. Some welcome the ideas and find them stimulating.
    If their models match some numbers then they don’t need to consider that they may be wrong. They think they have achieved ultimate knowledge and no new theories will ever replace the current ones.
    Sounds like Flat Earth Theory to me.
    Come on people, you must question your theories and models and consider other theories. You do not yet have ultimate knowledge!

    • If they are wrong, they will never figure it out that they are wrong if they won’t consider the possibility that new knowledge does exist.

    • Judith Curry, to have a climate scientist break out of the pack and have discussions with people who disagree is a light at the end of the tunnel.
      It is critical that Climate Theory and Models get openly reviewed by people from other disciplines.
      We had to do that after our accidents at NASA. When you know you are right, it is hard to find your own mistakes.
      I do wish NOAA could join in this discussion.
      So far, you have not commented on any of my posting, or at least I don’t think that you have.
      I have my own theory that I would like to send you in email and get your comments.

    • DouglasinUganda

      That is the danger of confirmation bias. If you hold those that agree with you to a lower standard than those who disagree — and argue that that is correct — then it becomes easy to feel comfortable that you know all that needs to be known.
      In the end to do science as it should be done we have only logic, data and prior theories to guide us … we need to be wary that preconceptions can cloud our judgements.
      Best wishes

  38. From my own reading of the discussion, it sounds like there are still two very different issues that deserve empirical investigation. Most people are focusing on the question of whether the effect is large in the “real world,” but from my perspective as a physicist (as opposed to a climatologist or engineer, that is), the first issue ought to be whether Equation 34 accurately describes the behavior of air in a condensing environment. I haven’t read Fluckiger and Rossi ’03 (can’t even identify the article; bibliographic info appears to be missing from the present version of the Interactive Comment), but I infer that it is a macroscopic methodology. Given the hostility to the idea displayed by Stokes and Jim D, I’d think a lab-scale experiment might be a useful step. It seems like such a vapor-chamber experiment proving condensation proportional to Nv wouldn’t be much harder than the things done in a laboratory methods class (ignoring the experimental design aspect). Heck, once designed, you could probably get students at a dozen universities to run it for you as one of their class projects.

    • Thank you for this comment.

      Our understanding of the situation as is follows. In the system of equations that are solved in models there is a variable S (vapor sink/source) for which theory does not exist. We come with equation 34, where condensation rate is formulated based on three premises:
      1) It is proportional to the amount Nv of condensing vapor.
      2) It is proportional to vertical velocity w (because condensation is due to cooling, hence it is proportional to the velocity of movement along the temperature gradient).
      3) It is proportional to the degree of deviation of the vertical vapor distribution from equilibrium.

      Among these three premises, the first is the most obvious one. Condensation is a first-order reaction over the concentration of vapor. As we understand, this is relatively well studied in the laboratory (here is the link to Fluckiger and Rossi 2003). But even if it were not, from the stoichiometry of the reaction this is the most natural theoretical assumption to be made. (In the atmospheric context, it means that at the same updraft intensity in a drier (colder) atmosphere you never get the same amount of precipitation as in the warmer (moister) atmosphere.)
      Objections on this issue just show once again that the issue is new and has not been investigated/analyzed before.

      The more substantial message is contained in premise (3). We suggest for S
      S = wNv (kv – kE)
      where kv is the observed inverse scale height of vapor distribution and kE is the equilibrium distribution that the vapor would have in the absence of condensation. To our knowledge, this formulation and its implications have not been explicitly discussed in the literature. As I commented elsewhere, an implicit version of it can be found in Curry and Webster (1999). There by kE one understood Mvg/RT — the inverse scale height of hydrostatic distribution of vapor in a vapor-only atmosphere.

      In Eq. 34 we make use of the fact that in the real atmosphere moist air N as a whole is in hydrostatic equilibrium. This allows one to calculate kE using the scale height of moist air distribution. For this reason the subtracted term in brackets in Eq. 34 is proportional to dN/dz.

    • DouglasinUganda

      “…. you could probably get students at a dozen universities to run it for you as one of their class projects.”
      Thanks for the suggestion. If this could be done it’d be excellent. I certainly dont have the skills or opportunity here but I’m sure we would VERY MUCH welcome anyone trying to develop such studies.
      Best wishes

    • Basically these sort of experiments have been done over about the last twenty years under the rubric of pickup (e.g. mass growth of aerosols passing through a vapor or in a smog chamber) Good names to search under are Tobert and Davidovits a useful string is ..aerosol pickup water vapor… with or without “mass accomodation factor”. This is not to diss Michel Rossi who is very good. That single reference is not sufficient given the large amount of stuff out there.

      • DouglasinUganda

        Thanks for this — will look into it.

      • Eli Rabett

        Thank you for your comment.

        If we consider laboratory studies of condensation into liquid (note that Fluckiger and Rossi 2003 discuss ice), recent reviews of relevance are Kolb et al. 2010 (free access), see especially Sections 5.1.1 and 5.1.2, and Davidovits et al. (2006) [D6].

        We have (see D6, Eq. 6) J = N_v c \alpha/4, where J (mol/m^2/sec) is the flux of vapor into the liquid, N_v (mol/m^3) is vapor concentration on a macroscopic scale, c is mean molecular velocity, and \alpha is the so-called mass accommodation coefficient (dimensionless).

        The value of alpha, measured in different expermental designs, differ. In some studies, including that of Davidovits et al., a weak negative temperature dependence of alpha less than unity is found. In experiments with expansion chambers (which bear some similarity to atmospheric condensation in the ascending expanding air) rather constant values of alpha ~ 1 are found that are independent of temperature. This group argues for using alpha = 1 in cloud models. There is much discussion of how and which of these findings relate to real atmospheric processes. No theory for alpha exists.

        Condensation rate S (mol/m^3/sec) can be related to J as S = J*s*Ndrop, where s (m^2) is the mean droplet surface area and Ndrop (1/m^3) is the number of droplets per unit volume. Since neither the droplet concentration nor their size depend directly on vapor concentration Nv, while at constant alpha J is proportional to Nv, the proposed proportionality of condensation rate to Nv does not contradict any established laboratory evidence.

        Note that if it were established in the laboratory or theoretically that alpha is a function of Nv, that would not automatically rule out the proportionality of S on Nv. However, such a dependence and the proportionality assumption would introduce a constraint (prediction) on the dependence of the product of droplet area and droplet concentration (s*Ndrop) on Nv.

        I could not find anybody called Tobert who would be doing such research.

        If you have any further comments and especially if you disagree with the above interpretation of how things stand, your input will be much appreciated.

  39. Water condensation is what drives storms over the ocean. The heat released drives the air upwards, sucking more moist air into the center, amplifying the storm.

    It is to be expected that a similar effect would take place over land given an underlying source of moisture such as a forest. Over dry land the effect would be minimalized.

    It is surprising that Climate Science does not better recognize the role of condensation in driving the winds. Sail through the ICZ in the middle of the ocean if you have any doubt what drives the Trades. Billions and billions of tons of water, miles in the air. That is energy.

  40. Our reply to the comments of Dr. Held is available here.

  41. Reply 2 to “Review” by Dr. Isaac Held: On publication criteria in science
    1. High bar for unconventional findings
    2. Low bar for “conventional” findings?
    3. Science: One bar for all