Atmospheric Aerosols: Another Major IPCC Omission

by Dr. Tim Ball on May 3, 2011

in Astronomical,Atmosphere,Data,Land,Oceans,Solar,Theory

A half – truth is a whole lie. ~Jewish proverb

Political whitewash of the corrupted climate science of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is in full swing. It illustrates the completely political nature of the issue. Indeed, the Chairman of the British Parliament investigating Phil Jones and the CRU specifically said they were not going to look at the science. If they had, they would see the extensive and outrageous scientific errors, manipulations of data, and omissions of large areas of the complexity that is the weather. These problems are what created the denial of information for which Jones was absolved. In many cases, there is little choice because the data is not available and the mechanisms not understood – but that’s not the story given to the public.

What’s In the Atmosphere?

The Hubble telescope showed a very different universe from beyond the haziness of the atmosphere. The difference illustrates the impact of the atmosphere on light and therefore energy passing through. Changes in the constituency of the atmosphere beyond the greenhouse gases are important to global weather and climate, yet little understood and essentially overlooked.

The role of aerosols, defined as minute particles suspended in the atmosphere, is one example. They modify atmospheric transparency to incoming and outgoing radiation. Amount of impact varies as volumes, type of material and altitudes change. IPCC Reports have a section on atmospheric aerosols, but only consider human contributions. Their work is meaningless because we don’t know the natural sources, amounts or variability, so it is impossible to determine the human portion.

IPCC estimated global mean energy budget Figure 1: IPCC Estimated Global Mean Energy Budget in Wm-2
Source: Kiehl; and Trenberth (1997) used in Fourth Assessment Report (FAR)

Figure 1 shows IPCC estimated atmospheric energy flows. None of the numbers come from actual measurements, and other people propose different values and patterns of flow for each segment. They’re static averages on a rotating dynamic planet with important factors left out, such as the shape of the atmosphere, the atmospheric mass, and water vapor in the atmosphere, among other things.

Important values related to aerosol are the total Incoming Solar Radiation (insolation) (342 Wm-2), the 67 Wm-2 Absorbed by the Atmosphere, and 77 Wm-2 Reflected by Clouds, Aerosols, and Atmosphere. The latter is a strange concoction that underscores the crude nature of the knowledge.

In an attempt to deal with the problem, the US Atmospheric Science Program (ASP) “…has as its long-term goal developing comprehensive understanding of the atmospheric processes that control the transport, transformation, and fate of energy related trace chemicals and particulate matter. The current focus of the program is aerosol radiative forcing of climate: aerosol formation and evolution and aerosol properties that affect direct and indirect influences on climate and climate change.” As NASA scientist Mian Chan says, “The influence of aerosols on climate is not yet adequately taken into account in our computer predictions of climate,” and “An improved representation of aerosols in climate models is essential to more accurately predict the climate changes.” These programs raise concerns about experiments with government controlling weather and combines with debates about “chemtrails” and aircraft condensation trails.

Aerosols When It Suits Them

In attempts to counteract the temperature decrease from 1940 to 1970 while CO2 from human sources increased proponents of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) claimed it was due to human addition of sulfate aerosols. James Hansen of NASA GISS says,

Over the course of the twentieth century, Hansen and other climate scientists estimate aerosols may have offset global warming by as much as 50 percent by reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the surface. Scientists call this phenomenon “global dimming,” although the change was too gradual and too slight to be perceived by the human eye.

All this is typical Hansen speculation designed to attribute every problem to human activity. It is impossible to determine the cause when you don’t know how volcanic or any other natural sources of aerosols vary. We know these variations and errors of measurements far exceed the total human inputs.

Three main natural sources include volcanic dust, particles of soil, and salt particles. The last two are the primary particles around which water vapor condenses to form water droplets that constitute clouds. All aerosols either reflect solar energy back to space (albedo), absorb solar energy directly to heat the atmosphere, absorb and reradiate heat coming from the ground, or all three.


Hubert Lamb, founder of the CRU, identified a major part of the aerosol problem in 1970 when he created the Dust Veil Index (DVI) designed to quantify the impact of volcanic dust on the atmospheric energy balance. Effects of the volcanic dust and all other atmospheric material are a major unresolved problem. We know some volcanic eruptions cause cooling. Generally these erupt near the Equator and eject material with high sulfur content into the Stratosphere. Eruptions like Tambora in 1815, Krakatoa in 1883, and Pinatubo in 1991 all met these conditions and were followed by distinct, albeit brief, cooling. Other volcanoes have regional impacts like Laki in Iceland that began erupting in 1783 and continued over the next several months. Benjamin Franklin witnessed the eruption as he was sailing to France and predicted the negative impact on agriculture that presaged the French Revolution. All volcanoes are constantly putting aerosols into the atmosphere.


Soil particles in the atmosphere come from many sources including deserts and are transported considerable distances. Clay is the smallest soil particle and easily remains in suspension. Some larger particles are picked up but most fall or are washed out very quickly. Particles, which can be solid or liquid, range upward from 0.01 microns and remain in suspension for a very long time. It takes a million water droplets to form one moderate sized raindrop, and with absolutely calm air, it would take 12 hours to fall 300 meters.

A few years ago people in southern England were concerned about yellow dust covering everything, only to learn it was blown in from the Sahara desert. Similarly, locusts appeared alive in the Caribbean following a plague in North Africa. Studies we did with high volume soil samplers in Winnipeg showed how the amount and type of material varied considerably with season and wind direction. Wind is another forgotten variable in the entire field of climatology. Besides variation in the amount of material picked up into the atmosphere, consider how rates of evaporation vary – but that is yet another major flaw in the CRU/IPCC climate science.

The political whitewash will continue because too many careers and too much money is involved. At some point, the science will become a factor as people begin to understand how much is wrong. Continuing colder weather will underscore the problem as all the factors the CRU/IPCC people ignore take over. Hopefully, the economy is not destroyed using CO2 and global warming or climate change as the excuse.