(Guest post by Joseph A Olson, PE)
There is likely no life learning experience as instructive as a Near Death Experience. When the NDE involves an uncommon encounter with the unseen power of a common, everyday occurrence, CLOUDS. Seen from afar, cumulus clouds are benign giant puffs of cotton balls floating across the sky. While you can notice slight changes in shape, you have no real understanding of the real forces at work within.
For several years, I have been joined by the world’s top scientists in an effort to expose Carbon Climate Forcing as the worst science in history. We have employed the full range of scientific arguments, and yet the myth persists, that Carbon Dioxide and it’s accomplice, water vapor, WARM the Earth. There is nothing like first-hand experience to dispel a myth.
Just released in the Journal of Geophysical Research is an article on the “ground breaking report on clouds causing cooling” . After arguing just this point in dozens of articles over the last several years, it is time to share my personal anecdote on the behavior of water vapor INSIDE of a cloud.
I started flight training in Feb of 1976 on a lark. Growing up with plastic Revelle and flying balsa Thimbledrone model aircraft, it was easy to dream of being a pilot. By June I had thirteen hours of instruction and seven hours of solo in my log book. The next training was the ‘cross country solo’. I left the Laport, Texas airport early on a Saturday morning en route to Brownsville with a fuel stop in Corpus Christi.
Skies were 25% broken cumulus with 2500 ft ceiling, meeting Visual Flight Rules. The cloud tops were at 7500 ft, where you got better radio navigation signals and the air was also much cooler. The Corpus stop was routine as was the first hour headed south. What I did not notice was that the clouds were becoming less and less broken…and I was in for a permanent life lesson.
Airport radar and radio signals work on line of sight and are therefore a function of altitude….although help from the Harlingen or Brownsville airports at this point would be useless. As I approached the cloud tops at 7500 ft I noticed the surface was in constant turmoil with puffs swirling out and disappearing. The next thing I noticed was that these things were HUGE…and now only 50% broken I could not possible bank and turn my way between these cotton puff giants.
What happened next is rare, dangerous and prohibited for VFR pilots and non IFR aircraft. I banked between the first two clouds only to make a bull’s eye approach at 7300 ft into the next cloud. Perhaps you’ve noticed some ‘turbulence’ in a 120,000 lb passenger plane traveling 400 mph as you flew through a cloud. I was in a 1600 lb aircraft with a maximum speed of 110 mph.
Entering the cloud felt like hitting a wall. Suddenly everything was white, it was raining from every direction and the wind was howling. Most aircraft instruments operate using a static port on the side of the plane or a pitot tube which faces forward. There were massive vertical wind shears that rendered the instruments useless. The altitude, air speed, rate of climb and artificial horizon gauges were all bouncing peg to peg.
“Flying by the seat of your pants” quickly becomes the over-riding instinct. You are now in vertigo and your butt thinks it knows where the Earth is. You are fooled by the changing gravity of the rapid up and down wind shear. You are surrounded by glowing white light and cannot see further than ten feet in any direction. The wings are shaking at beyond maximum design loading and the LAST thing you want is your BUTT flying the plane.
The propeller is used to 110 mph wind from the nose, but is disturbed by the 200 mph up and down winds. Throttle back to avoid over revving, then concentrate on the only two instruments that are still functioning, the magnetic compass and the curved glass tube with a ball in glycerin. Inside a cloud, where everything is rapidly changing, the Earth’s magnetic field and gravity are the only constants. After the longest minute of my life, I popped out of the cloud into blue skies above, altitude 7000 ft and my next white giant straight ahead.
Repeating this process another ten or twelve times brought me to the bottom of the cloud formations. There you could easily see the rain falling to the warm bottom and rapidly evaporating, then rising back to the top. During the perilous decent I had lost my visual flight references (highways) and was now below radio and radar signal altitude.
Since nothing below looked like South Texas, my position must be Northern Mexico. I turned northeast, spotted the Gulf and turned up the Rio Grande on my way to the airport, which I could now contact by radio.
“Brownsville Tower to Cessna 22163, you are cleared to land on runway 35, when you
do your roll out, taxi over to the control tower, we want to have a chat”.
The “chat” included a tour of the control tower, review of the Notice to Airmen on the Harlingen VOR (radio nav) and Brownsville radar equipment being down for service that weekend, along with some friendly advice on my future air adventures. (FAA was kind to novice pilots back then)
Notice to Clima-clownologists
WATER VAPOR IS NOT A GREENHOUSE GAS AND CLOUDS DO NOT WARM THE EARTH. If you still have trouble understanding the simple empirical truth of clouds, then get a telescope, and with the Sun at your back, look at a cloud. You will see the rapid vaporization of the visible water droplets all along the sides and bottom.
This now invisible, heated water vapor rises RAPIDLY to the cloud top, where it cools, condenses and the falls again. The average cumulus cloud weights 800 tons. Any mass between you and a heat source will slow heat transfer and therefore be a cooling agent.
During the day, clouds absorb heat at low altitudes, release heat at high altitudes and COOL the Earth. At night, this same process SLOWS cooling, but does not heat the Earth. Maybe it takes a “New Paper Finds Clouds Act as Negative Feedback” to challenge your false GHG orthodoxy, or maybe you just need to LOOK at a few clouds.
Joseph A Olson, PE
July 6, 2012