Antarctic Wind Change: What has Really Caused It?

A farmer near Orange in New South Wales emailed me last month lamenting the lack of interest shown by the national media in SAM – the Southern Annular Mode. He explained that SAM was a key driver of rainfall over southern Australia and changes in the extent of Antarctic sea ice. Rather than report on this real weather phenomenon he wrote, the media carried on about carbon dioxide and global warming.

In fact the national media have today been talking about SAM, but not naming it as such. There has been comment about a new paper in the journal Nature by Australian researchers, Nerillie J. Abram and colleagues that describes how changing wind patterns have affected rainfall across Southern Australia and how these same winds, by contracting around the Antarctic, have caused a reduction in the rate of polar ice melt.

The paper is entitled ‘Evolution of the Southern Annular Mode during the past millennium’ and it attributes changes in the phenomenon to global warming.[1]

So SAM finally gets a mention, but in a story to promote global warming. According to Abram et al., SAM is the highest it has been for at least 1,000 years. SAM, driven by carbon dioxide is causing the main Antarctic continent to cool, and is now displacing ozone depletion as a cause of future ruin.

Yet not so long ago it was published in Nature, and reported by the same media, that global warming would cause Antarctica to melt.

There are alternative explanations.

Kevin Long from Bendigo, Victoria, explains the growth in Antarctic sea ice and the changing position of the westerly wind belt in terms of changes in the 18.6-year Lunar Declination Cycle.

In particular, Mr Long explains that as we approach the next Lunar Minimum Standstill, which will occur in October 2015, there will be weaker lunar air tides, because the moon is not travelling as far south or north as it orbits the earth. This, according to Mr Long, has result in the accelerated growth of ice at the Antarctic.[2]

While it is fashionable to scoff at the possibility that the moon has a major affect on climate, we can see the affect of the gravitational-pull of the moon in the ocean tides. In the same way, the moon’s gravitational-pull creates atmospheric tides that modulate high-altitude winds including the westerly winds.



1. Nature Climate Change (2014) doi:10.1038/nclimate2235

2. Rapid Global Cooling Forecast for 2017

For more information on variations in lunar declination and lunar standstills you can always visit Wikipedia . But if you want to be able to relate this information to the weather consider reading Ken Ring

42 Responses to Antarctic Wind Change: What has Really Caused It?

  1. handjive of May 13, 2014 at 5:40 am #

    9 May 2014
    It is estimated that a substantial portion of recent global warming in the Arctic is caused by naturally occurring warm “sweet spots” in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

    Professor David Battisti from the University of Washington said that the data indicates that roughly half of the recent warming in Greenland is due to natural climate variations.
    The other half is caused by carbon emissions from humans.
    . . .
    Conveniently, it’s those carbon(sic) emissions that are causing the winds around the antarctic.
    The science has been re-settled & carbon(sic) taxing can continue.

    A natural variation tax will also be introduced for that other 50%.
    You know it makes sense.

  2. Ian George May 13, 2014 at 7:59 am #

    If you run the data for Southern Australia, you’ll find that rainfall has actually increased since 1901.
    Here is the average yearly rainfall for each 30-year period from 1901 – the last period being 23 years.
    1901-1930 371mls
    1931-1960 378mls
    1961-1990 395mls
    1991-2013 397mls
    The only area of Aust which shows declining rainfall is SW Australia.

  3. Neville May 13, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    Amazing gas this co2. An additional 0.01% added to the atmosphere over the last 150 years shows zip problems for SLR or bushfires or polar bear pop or GBR health or coral islands or Greenland ice melt or human well being or cyclones or tornadoes or lightening strikes or floods or droughts or greening of the planet etc. But this same 0.01% increase of co2 does somehow deliver more positive SAMS and therefore deliver less rainfall across southern OZ? Believe that and you’ll believe anything.

    But don’t worry Labor says our 5% of SFA co2 tax is literally “fighting climate change” and the Greens want to increase it to 40% or more in the future.

  4. cohenite May 13, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    If SAM is increasing then it is going against the global trend and a process which our departed ghost in the machine, luke, used to describe as ‘Stilling’:

    Specifically winds in the SE Australia are decreasing:

    As is the Atlantic Jet Stream:

  5. bazza May 13, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    Call me crazy but I would have liked to see Fats Domino make the cut in the references which only include a self-published Long and an article in Nature. I reckon Fats pinned the impacts of the lunar standstill quite sensitively compared to your peerlessly reviewed take on Long. Here we go…

    I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill
    On Blueberry Hill where I found you
    The moon stood still on Blueberry Hill
    And lingered till my dreams came true
    Stock and lewis (1940)

    Not even the most sensitive of anenometers would have picked up the faintest zephyr of an atmospheric tide on top of Blueberry Hill – there were other forcings. Try comparing the mass of the oceans with that of the atmosphere.

  6. Neville May 13, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    My old mate bazza is back and I still don’t understand him. But I never claimed to be very bright, so guess I’ll just have to work on the new maths, new consensus etc of CAGW. But I was never a very good BSArtist so I guess I’ll flunk the course. But I do like Fats.

    BTW another former and prominent warmist scientist has jumped ship and joined the GWPF. He is also an expert climate modeller and has won prestigious awards for his work.

  7. cohenite May 13, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    Bazza, what’s a “a self-published Long”?

  8. jennifer May 13, 2014 at 10:54 am #


    Bazza is referring to the fact that Kevin Long is self published…

    He is also self-funded.

    Unlike the team recently published in Nature who not only make a nonsense of climate science, but they do it all at the expense of the Australian tax payer.

  9. jennifer May 13, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    Handjive, Another Ian, Bazza et al..

    Can you propose a mechanism for the recent cooling at the Antarctica? … or at least the reduced sea ice melt for the last three summers?

  10. bazza May 13, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    JenM, anybody who writes unsupported stuff like your 10.54 am “Unlike the team recently published in Nature who not only make a nonsense of climate science, but they do it all at the expense of the Australian tax payer.” does not warrant a reply!

  11. John C Fairfax May 13, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    I think there are two possible mechanism’s for recent reported cooling and wind change in the Antarctic.

    1. It was known pre Internet that using wind to generate energy would reduce energy in relative winds and ocean currents.

    2. According to empirical evidence of substance I think solar warmth linked to photosynthesis in ocean algae plant matter and heat subsequently dissipated into ocean water and wind, can vary over several years due to the available nutrient loading being taken up by algae blooms, the loading thus reduced, exhausted or increased.

    Ocean algae plant matter seems to be missing in AGW science. Why is that so?

  12. cohenite May 13, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    You’re a piker bazza. Polar oscillation would be one possible cause:

    The phase of the AMO is important in this oscillation where a positive AMO index means excess heat is being transferred from the south to the north.

  13. handjive of May 13, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    Ms. Jen.
    I am humbled you ask me for a scientific explanation.
    I was hiding behind the door when they did science at school.
    But, I am learning now.

    I can contribute no more to the debate than a news link.
    But it is recent and does indicate that a new understanding is required:

    25 February 2013 – Seals help solve deep water mystery
    “In a paper published today in Nature Geoscience, scientists from Australia and Japan reveal a fourth source of Antarctic bottom water lying off Cape Darnley.

    The discovery of a fourth source of deep water is critical to our understanding of Antarctica’s contribution to global ocean circulation, and will improve modelling of its response to climate change,

    The discovery of a fourth source is like “finding a new component in the engine,” he says.

    Until recently only three sources of the deep waters were known – the Weddell and Ross seas and off the Adelie Coast.

  14. handjive of May 13, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    If I may o/t for a tick …
    On a previous thread, Comment from: John F. Hultquist May 11th, 2014 at 2:41 am provided a link to the the Kennewick man- . . .
    in response to a link I gave:

    Discovered this link.
    ( Idaho is West USA, Virginia east coast)
    The Cactus Hill site, located about 70 km. south of Richmond, Virginia, is one of a handful of archaeological sites that contain convincing evidence of a pre-Clovis population in North America.

    Artifacts from the Clovis level included the typical fluted points, made of chert, and radiocarbon dated from a piece of associated charcoal to 10,920± 250 years BP.
    Below the Clovis layer and just above sterile clay, archaeologists discovered several blades, projectile points and a scraper, all made of quartzite.
    A soil sample associated with one of the blade clusters was radiocarbon dated to 16,670±730 years BP.

    Critics have suggested that the artifacts found in this early layer may have been disturbed by burrowing animals or some other natural process that caused them to move down through the sand from a higher level.

    However, analysis of several sand samples indicated that no vertical mixing had taken place, and the early radiocarbon dates have been confirmed by optically stimulated luminescence dating of sand grains.”
    . . .
    That is one mystery you have there.

  15. handjive of May 13, 2014 at 12:45 pm #


  16. jennifer May 13, 2014 at 3:09 pm #


    What is the physical mechanism underpinning the AMO?

    The AMO, SAM, ENSO all show that there is much regional variation in global temperatures. But what is the external or internal mechanism driving this?


    Your initial comment was condescending. Indeed, unlike Luke who could dish it out, and also take it, you can only dish it out.

  17. cohenite May 13, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    “What is the physical mechanism underpinning the AMO?”

    Well gee Jennifer, according to Mann the THC:

  18. jennifer May 13, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    Just filing this here…

    Volcano, man’s greed (carbon dioxide), the moon.

  19. Siliggy May 14, 2014 at 1:37 am #

    I have more than a bakers half a dozen hats to throw at the theory ring.
    1) Bazza gave a great example of how the atmosphere needs to move out of the way of the tides. “Try comparing the mass of the oceans with that of the atmosphere.”
    Now anyone who has spun on a rotating chair with their legs out and pulled their legs in will have noticed the accelaration due to angular momentum change. If the planet changes rotation speed (which it did for both big tsunamis) then the change in centrifigul force will move the oceans north and south. The atmosphere including some wind, as Bazza shows will just get out of the b way.

    2) Related to the above rotation is a change due to ElNino and LaNina as warm water has less mass at the equator during ElNino.

    3) Also related to 1, the moon and earth are slowly moving apart slowing our rotation down.
    This buggers up every calculation based on the false religion of climate change all being mans fault. It also buggers up cyclic change prediction methods but unlike the tsunamis above could be allowed for by watching trends change.

    4) Australia is slowly moving according to the survey and map type people. This will give a little more room for the water and wind to pass by and do the above buggering up also. 7 below contradicts this.

    5) The Aurora Borealis was once a frequent visitor but is hardly even remembered now. Just as a fluro tube self heats once started the current in that sky light was producing heat.

    6) Photosynthesis is endothermic. The vast ocean below is thus a phytoplanckton driven cooling machine. UV light is bad for planckton but has no ozone hole drama. Rescued by the sun me thinks.

    7) Mind the step this one is big! The earth is growing.

    8) The earth is changing shape. The Weddel sea is named after the man who proved while there that it is NOT a sphere. I suggest we send the ship of fools back to see how pear shaped things can go!

    9) Antarctica has been getting colder and icing over for a very long time.
    Not that long ago according to the way some read ancient maps.
    Under the ice are forests that trouble the dating.

    10 Tsunamis, volcanoes, earthquakes and meteor impacts have changed the flow of the global conveyor again and again in irreversible ways that Antarcita is slow to respond to.

    11 The sun is a water factory depositing water on our poles from space but also occasionally blowing off chunks of our atmosphere. Unlike the Arctic ice cannot sink into the sea. This has buried the previous life.

  20. bazza May 14, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    12 Tonite is the nite when Saturn gets occulted and it has a bigger moon than ours.

  21. Neville May 14, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    Here’s another pollie who’s down the garden path playing with the fairies. He clearly hasn’t got any respect or understanding of simple kindy maths. Anyway a number of studies show that the west Antarctic peninsula has reduced before during the holocene over many thousands of years. And the recent Pages 2K study found that Antarctica was warmer than today from 149AD to 1250AD.
    They also found that 20th century Antarctica was the coolest period for the last 2000 years. Why are these pollies so pig ignorant and clueless when they yap about SLR?

  22. John F. Hultquist May 14, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

    Regarding the Lunar cycles: both Clive Best and Chiefio have posted on this topic; go to their sites and search for the posts. They give lots of links and it will take some time to work through it all – get some popcorn and beer before you start.

  23. Jennifer Marohasy May 14, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    Ian George et al., We agree that Australia is generally a land of drought or flooding rains?

    What I am particularly interested in, is what is driving the change from wet to dry and back again?

    Ken Ring and Kevin Long have a physical mechanisms to explanation the phases changes we see in the AMO, SAM and ENSO… from +ve to -ve and back again. You can disagree with, even make fun of, their explanations, but they have one.

    Abram et al. claim carbon dioxide is now driving SAM. But I can’t see quite how the physical mechanism works. Maybe Bazza can explain this?

    But back to the substantive issue.. Australia is a land of drought or flooding rains, but what drives the change from dry to wet and back again?

  24. Ian George May 14, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

    I’m not agreeing, disagreeing,making fun of them at all. I’m pointing out that one of the conclusions of their research was that this event has diminished the rainfall in S Aust for the past few decades and has led to longer droughts. The data as presented in the BoM’s Southern Aust time series does not show that this is happening.
    The drought of 2002-2009 is matched by the 1922-1929. The worst drought years were in the 1940s.
    Since 1984, only 3 years feature in the lowest 30 rainfall events, whereas there were 12 between 1901-1930.
    SW Aust is experiencing lower rainfall (some say because of land clearing) and Tassie is down after an increase during 1961-1990.
    But Southern Aust’s rainfall is increasing – their conclusion doesn’t stand up.

  25. Siliggy May 15, 2014 at 4:51 am #

    “12 Tonite is the nite when Saturn gets occulted and it has a bigger moon than ours.”
    That would be the one covered in lakes of renewable energy, where renewable energy rains from the skys from clouds of the stuff in a way that shows what could happen here if we do not burn our mis named “fossil fuels” fast enough to stop our planet from polluting itself like that.

    Titan is larger than our moon but has less mass with an atmospheric pressure one and a half times that of ours. From it can be seen that mass is not what is needed for an atmosphere nor is a big hot iron core what is needed for a magnetic field but magnetic interaction between it and Saturn is. Bet the weather is very cyclic there!

    We should see a small uptick in earthquake activity here over the next few days due to the combined effects of Allais effect from that occultation, the full moon and the recent solar activity.

  26. Siliggy May 15, 2014 at 7:51 am #

    6.5 Micronesia.

  27. jennifer May 15, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    Ian George,

    You make good and valid points.

    Neither I, nor Kevin Long, were suggesting SAM was strengthening. My point is how do we explain these periods of wet and dry, what drives the change? ENSO, SAM may be part of the mechanism but what drives drives the change in ENSO and SAM?

  28. Bruce May 15, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    It has long struck me as odd that most folk seem OK with the fact that the moon drags the oceans about the planet, but its gravitational effect on the atmosphere has been the “relative we don’t mention in polite company”.

  29. Ian Wilson May 15, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    Here a few golden oldies

    Wilson, I.R.G., Long-Term Lunar Atmospheric Tides in the
    Southern Hemisphere, The Open Atmospheric Science Journal,
    2013, 7, 51-76

    Wilson, I.R.G., Lunar Tides and the Long-Term Variation
    of the Peak Latitude Anomaly of the Summer Sub-Tropical
    High Pressure Ridge over Eastern Australia
    The Open Atmospheric Science Journal, 2012, 6, 49-60

    Wilson, I.R.G., 2013, Are Global Mean Temperatures
    Significantly Affected by Long-Term Lunar Atmospheric
    Tides? Energy & Environment, Vol 24,
    No. 3 & 4, pp. 497 – 508

    Wilson, I.R.G., 2013, Personal Submission to the Senate
    Committee on Recent Trends in and Preparedness for
    Extreme Weather Events, Submission No. 106

  30. Ian Wilson May 15, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    Jenny asked:

    “What is the physical mechanism underpinning the AMO?”

    Try looking at figure 1 on page 5 of the following paper:

    Wilson, I.R.G., 2011, Are Changes in the Earth’s Rotation
    Rate Externally Driven and Do They Affect Climate?
    The General Science Journal, Dec 2011, 3811.

    The graph refers to the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) which is
    very similar to the AMO. It shows that the acceleration/de-acceleration
    of the the Earth’s rotation rate is intimately tied into the NAO.

  31. Ian Wilson May 15, 2014 at 12:26 pm #


    The problem with atmospheric lunar tides are that their effects are only noticeable above about 3000 m (9000 ft). At the surface of the Earth their effects on barometric pressure are so small compared to the daily thermal atmospheric tides (caused by the solar heating of the atmosphere) as to be insignificant.

    This does not mean that the effects of atmospheric lunar tides upon the lower troposphere should be ignored, however. If you read my papers posted above you will see that I am claiming that play a significant role in changing the long-term (i.e. inter-decadal) balance between the relative frequency and strength of El Nino and La Nina events, so
    that they affect the long-term rate of natural heating and cooling of the Earth’s atmosphere.

    Even if you think my claims are spurious, take a look at the following references by Li et al. and Krahenbuhl et al. that also claim something similar.

    Li G. 27.3-day and 13.6-day atmospheric tide and lunar forcing on
    atmospheric circulation. Adv Atmos Sci 2005; 22(3): 359-74.

    Li G, Zong H. 27.3-day and 13.6-day atmospheric tide. Sci China
    (D) 2007; 50(9): 1380-95.

    Li G, Zong H, Zhang Q. 27.3-day and average 13.6-day periodic
    oscillations in the earth’s rotation rate and atmospheric pressure
    fields due to celestial gravitation forcing. Adv Atmos Sci 2011;
    28(1): 45-58.

    Krahenbuhl DS, Pace MB, Cerveny RS, Balling Jr RC. Monthly
    lunar declination extremes’ influence on tropospheric circulation
    patterns. J Geophys Res 2011; 116: D23121- 6.

  32. Siliggy May 15, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

    Ian Wilson
    Thanks. My points 1,2 and 3 above looking a bit less like the rantings of a …Lunatic.
    LOD data can be found here but I dont know what it all means.

  33. Siliggy May 15, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

    Another 6.5 in Micronesia. 6.6 according to the USGS but they often reduce the number as it is processed.

  34. jennifer May 15, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

    Ian Wilson, Much thanks for the links.

  35. Siliggy May 15, 2014 at 9:25 pm #

    6.2 in the Phillipines. Getting beyond coincidence?
    Wonder if the (L)ength (O)f (D)ay and or our orbit changed again?

  36. Ian Wilson May 15, 2014 at 10:26 pm #


    No problem. It is always a pleasure to post at a top quality science blog site like .

    Here is the abstract of the last paper cited above which is freely available at:

    Monthly lunar declination extremes’ influence on tropospheric circulation patterns

    Daniel S. Krahenbuhl,1 Matthew B. Pace,1 Randall S. Cerveny,1 and Robert C. Balling Jr.1
    Received 22 July 2011; revised 13 October 2011; accepted 13 October 2011; published 15 December 2011.

    Short‐term tidal variations occurring every 27.3 days from southern (negative) to northern (positive) maximum lunar declinations (MLDs), and back to southern declination of the moon have been overlooked in weather studies. These short‐term MLD variations’ significance is that when lunar declination is greatest, tidal forces operating on the high latitudes of both hemispheres are maximized. We find that such tidal forces deform the high latitude Rossby longwaves. Using the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data set, we identify that the 27.3 day MLD cycle’s influence on circulation is greatest in the upper troposphere of both hemispheres’ high latitudes. The effect is distinctly regional with high impact over central North America and the British Isles. Through this lunar variation, midlatitude weather forecasting for two‐week forecast periods may be significantly improved.

  37. bazza May 16, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    What a joke – 37 posts and not a mention of ozone as a driver of trends in SAM.

  38. John C Fairfax May 16, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

    In addition to my post above on the 13th, some inconvenient evidence is here:

  39. Siliggy May 17, 2014 at 12:49 am #

    “What a joke – 37 posts and not a mention of ozone as a driver of trends in SAM.”
    Mentioned above via planckton.
    Even though the “Ozone hole” was supposedly “discovered” in 1984 that inconveinient man who died in 1954 (Inigo Jones) explained how to predict that also. Bazza you claim to have his book…page 29
    “From the general nature of the ozone and the fact that
    it is built up by the ultra-violet rays of the spectrum but
    disintegrated by a ray in another part of the spectrum that
    is specially strong in the sunspots and that the minima
    occur when the sunspot zones and the earthly hemisphere
    concerned are more directly turned to each other, it is easily
    seen that it is the sunspots and the sunspots alone that are
    responsible. Had it been the general rays of the sun then
    there should be a general mi.nimum in January or just after
    when the sun is nearest the earth or at what is called Perihelion
    which occurs in the first week in January. However,
    the effect is opposite in opposite hemispheres and occurs
    in the autumn in each case.”

    John C Fairfax
    That NASA Stanford U.S. debt funded holiday outing shows that the models are mostly wrong. No surprise there. It also shows how the planckton under the ice could be more affected by volcanic nourishment than changes in light through the unchanged and normal type of ice hole seen in these old submarine photos.

  40. Siliggy May 17, 2014 at 1:23 am #

    More quakes 5.0 Tonga, 5.1 Peru, 5.7 New Caledonia and 6.0 with multiple large after shocks Guadeloupe.
    Each one changing the climate permanently in its own little way.

  41. gavin May 17, 2014 at 9:36 pm #

    I’m just guessing nobody here has kept up with glaciers down south lately. See pending news-



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