Does CO2 Drive the Earth’s Climate System? Comments on the Latest NASA GISS Paper

October 16th, 2010 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

(edited for clarity at 2:45 p.m.)

There was a very clever paper published in Science this past week by Lacis, Schmidt, Rind, and Ruedy that uses the GISS climate model (ModelE) in an attempt to prove that carbon dioxide is the main driver of the climate system.

This paper admits that its goal is to counter the oft-quoted claim that water vapor is the main greenhouse gas in our atmosphere. (They provide a 1991 Lindzen reference as an example of that claim).

Through a series of computations and arguments, the authors claim that is actually the CO2, not water vapor, that sustains the warmth of our climate system.

I suspect this paper will result in as many opinions in the skeptic community as there are skeptics giving opinions. But unless one is very careful in reading this paper and knows exactly what the authors are talking about, it is easy to get distracted by superfluous details and miss the main point.

For instance, their table comparing the atmospheres of the Earth, Venus, and Mars does nothing to refute the importance of water vapor to the Earth’s average temperature. While they show that the atmosphere of Mars is very thin, they fail to point out the Martian atmosphere actually has more CO2 than our atmosphere does.

I do not have a problem with the authors’ calculations or their climate model experiment per se. There is not much new here, and their model run produces about what I would expect. It is an interesting exercise that has value by itself.

It is instead their line of reasoning I object to — what they claim their model results mean in terms of causation– in their obvious attempt to relegate the role of water vapor in the atmosphere to that of a passive component that merely responds to the warming effect of CO2…the real driver (they claim) of the climate system.

OUR ASSUMPTIONS DETERMINE OUR CONCLUSIONS

From what I can tell reading the paper, their claim is that, since our primary greenhouse gas water vapor (and clouds, which constitute a portion of the greenhouse effect) respond quickly to temperature change, vapor and clouds should only be considered “feedbacks” upon temperature change — not “forcings” that cause the average surface temperature of the atmosphere to be what it is in the first place.

Though not obvious, this claim is central to the tenet of the paper, and is an example of the cause-versus-effect issue I repeatedly refer to in the past when discussing some of the most fundamental errors made in the scientific ‘consensus’ on climate change.

It is a subtle attempt to remove water vapor from the discussion of “control” over the climate system — by definition. Only those of us who know enough of the details of forcing-feedback theory within the context of climate change theory will likely realize this, through.

Just because water vapor responds quickly to temperature change does not mean that there are no long-term water vapor changes (or cloud changes) — not due to temperature — that cause climate change. Asserting so is a non sequitur, and just leads to circular reasoning.

I am not claiming the authors are being deceptive. I think I understand why so many scientists go down this path of reasoning. They view the climate system as a self-contained, self-controlled complex of physically intertwined processes that would forever remain unchanged until some “external” influence (forcing) enters the picture and alters the rules by which the climate system operates.

Of course, increasing CO2 is the currently fashionable forcing in this climatological worldview.

But I cannot overemphasize the central important of this paradigm (or construct) of climate change theory to the eventual conclusions the climate researcher will inevitably make.

If one assumes from the outset that the climate system can only vary through changes imposed external to the normal operation of the climate system, one then removes natural, internal climate cycles from the list of potential causes of global warming. And natural changes in water vapor (or more likely, clouds) are one potential source of internally-driven change. There are influences on cloud and water vapor other than temperature which in turn help to determine the average temperature state of the climate system.

After assuming clouds and water vapor are no more than feedbacks upon temperature, the Lacis et al. paper then uses a climate model experiment to ‘prove’ their paradigm that CO2 drives climate — by forcing the model with a CO2 change, resulting in a large temperature response!

Well, DUH. If they had forced the model with a water vapor change, it would have done the same thing. Or a cloud change. But they had already assumed water vapor and clouds cannot be climate drivers.

Specifically, they ran a climate model experiment in which they instantaneously removed all of the atmospheric greenhouse gases except water vapor, and they got rapid cooling “plunging the climate into an icebound Earth state”. The result after 7 years of model integration time is shown in the next image.

Such a result is not unexpected for the GISS model. But while this is indeed an interesting theoretical exercise, we must be very careful about what we deduce from it about the central question we are ultimately interested in: “How much will the climate system warm from humanity adding carbon dioxide to it?” We can’t lose sight of why we are discussing all of this in the first place.

As I have already pointed out, the authors have predetermined what they would find. They assert water vapor (as well as cloud cover) is a passive follower of a climate system driven by CO2. They run a model experiment that then “proves” what they already assumed at the outset.

But we also need to recognize that their experiment is misleading in other ways, too.

First, the instantaneous removal of 100% of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere except for water vapor causes about 8 times the radiative forcing (over 30 Watts per sq. meter) as does a 100% increase in CO2 (2XCO2, causing less than 4 Watts per sq. meter), something that will not occur until late this century — if ever.

This is the so-called ‘logarithmic effect’…adding more and more CO2 has a progressively weaker radiative forcing response.

Currently, we are about 40% of the way to that doubling. Thus, their experiment involves 20 times (!) the radiative forcing we are now experiencing (theoretically, at least) from over a century of carbon dioxide emissions.

So are we to assume that this dramatic theoretical example should influence our views of the causes and future path of global warming, when their no-CO2 experiment involves ~20 times the radiative forcing of what has occurred to date from adding more CO2 to the atmosphere?

Furthermore, the cloud feedbacks in their climate model are positive, which further amplifies the model’s temperature response to forcing. As readers here are aware, our research suggests that cloud feedbacks in the real climate system might be so strongly negative that they could more than negate any positive water vapor feedback.

In fact, this is where the authors have made a logical stumble. Everyone agrees that the net effect of clouds is to cool the climate system on average. But the climate models suggest that the cloud feedback response to the addition of CO2 to our current climate system will be just the opposite, with cloud changes acting to amplify the warming.

What the authors didn’t realize is that when they decided to relegate the role of clouds in the average state of the climate system to one of “feedback”, their model’s positive cloud feedback actually contradicts the known negative “feedback” effect of clouds on the climate’s normal state.

Oops.

(In retrospect, I suppose they could claim that cloud feedbacks switched from negative at the low temperatures of an icebound Earth, to being positive at the higher temperatures of the real climate system. But that might mess up Jim Hansen’s claim of strongly positive feedbacks during the Ice Ages).

CONCLUSION
Taken together, the series of computations and claims made by Lacis et al. might lead the casual reader to think, “Wow, carbon dioxide really does have a strong effect on the Earth’s climate system!” And, in my view, it does. But the paper really tells us nothing new about (1) how much warming we can expect from adding more CO2 to the atmosphere, or (2) how much of recent warming was caused by CO2.

The paper implies that it presents new understanding, but all it does is get more explicit about the conceptual hoops one must jump through in order to claim that CO2 is the main driver of the climate system. From that standpoint alone, I find the paper quite revealing.

Unfortunately, what I present here is just a blog posting. It would take another peer-reviewed paper that follows an alternative path, to effectively counter the Lacis paper, and show that it merely concludes what it assumes at the outset. I am only outlining here what I see as the main issues.

Of course, the chance of editors at Science allowing such a response paper to get published is virtually zero. The editors at Science choose which scientists will be asked to provide peer review, and they already know who they can count on to reject a skeptic’s paper.

Many of us have already been there, done that.

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169 Responses to “Does CO2 Drive the Earth’s Climate System? Comments on the Latest NASA GISS Paper”

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  1. John Shade says:

    Freeman Dyson had this to say a while back:
    ‘”… I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in. The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models.”
    http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge219.html#dysonf

    And I believe a psychologist or anthropologist spent a lot of time with climate modellers in the 1980s, and was also astonished by the way in which the model became more real than the world outside of it for many of them. Can’t find the reference right now, though.

  2. Andrew says:

    It’s simple really. The Lacis et al study is just a study of the GISS model’s behavior. It is bizarre that anyone would claim that it “proves” anything about the real world climate system. In order for that to be the case, the model would have to be a pretty accurate representation of how the real system works. But I can’t believe anyone thinks any climate model is to the point that is sufficiently accurate to fit that description.

    I guess that it really is true that models have replaced reality. I used to think that this was a bit hyperbolic, that climate scientists must know the difference on some level, even if it doesn’t always seem that way. But they really think models are proof, as good or better than real world data and evidence. Mind boggling.

  3. Stan from Sugar Land says:

    3 items:
    1) In my profession I have frequently built and used mathematical models to represent complex physical processes. The answer is always related to the assumptions made and thus has to be questioned. In my world I have to make investment decisions, frequently involving $10-$100s million, in this case the assumptions get questioned very closely and the sensitivities are well understood and guess what – we still make major mistakes and lose $. Oh, that climate modelers had the same experience!
    2) In explaining math models I try to use the simplest, most common one that every one should be familiar with – compound interest, only requires the assumption of 2 parameters, just think of the possible errors and incorrect answers.
    3)The problem most engineers and scientist make is because we are comfortable with an equation we think everyone is – that provides lots of wiggle room for the less than ethical.

  4. Claude Culross says:

    Dr. Spencer – I can’t add to the clear way you’ve laid out your reservations, but I still can’t help wondering what would happen in the mirror GCM run, that is, take out all the water vapor and leave in all the other GHGs. I shudder as I write these words, since both scenarios are so removed from reality. “All other things being equal” simply doesn’t happen in nature.

  5. John Waggott says:

    I have a fair understanding of much of the physics and chemistry involved in the transfer of energy to, from and through the atmosphere. But confess that I have not studied these Climate Models in any detail.

    I have a persistent question that does not seem to be clearly answered in these discussions:

    A coal fired power plant puts out about 1 kg of CO2 for each kWh of electrical output. It also puts out about 2 kg of water vapor from its cooling system. A Nuclear Plant puts out approximately 50% water vapor for each kWh.

    Are these water vapor emissions adequately accounted for in the Climate Models?

  6. John Waggott says:

    Oops! – I should have said: A Nuclear Plant puts out approximately 50% MORE water vapor for each kWh.

  7. Hello John,

    The complete combustion of gasoline also puts out a lot of water vapor according to the following balanced equation for complete combustion: 2C8H18 + 25O2 –> 16CO2 + 18H2O. However all the water vapor we humans produce by whatever means is completely irrelevant compared to what evaporates from the oceans. Furthermore, unlike CO2, the water vapor we produce soon condenses and falls as rain so it does not slowly build up.

    • coturnix19 says:

      isn’t our humans’ co2 production too dwarfed by what degasses from oceans? Some have said that the rate human-produced co2 is absorbed by oceans is equal to about half the amount produced per time unit. I find this very troubling, as that speed cannot depend of speed of co2 production, but only on the amount that is already in atmosphere… that is either a truly amazing coincidence or a big black hole in co2 science…

  8. Andy Lacis says:

    Roy – As you say, we most certainly were not attempting to be deceptive in any way. We were in fact trying to be as clear and transparent as possible in our illustration of the “radiative forcing” by non-condensing GHGs versus “feedback response” by water vapor and clouds.

    In regard to Mars, we actually did have an explanation for Mars’ feeble greenhouse effect (due to much smaller pressure broadening of absorption lines) despite larger CO2 amount than Earth. We are lucky to have kept the planetary table since “the paper was already far too long, and that was something that everybody knew already anyway”, according to the science editor.

    I am also in basic agreement with your assessment that “there is not much new here … that the model produces about what is expected”.

    The attribution that CO2 accounts for about 25% of the (33 K) total greenhouse effect is contained in the GHG radiative forcing formulas tabulated in the Hansen et al (1988) paper. We also knew then from 1-D model calculations that water vapor accounted for about 50%, and clouds 25% of the total greenhouse strength. At about that time, we tried running a GCM experiment similar to the current Science experiment, but it blew up because the GCM physics couldn’t handle it.

    All along, the objective in climate modeling has been to improve the physical realism of the GCM formulations. This has been easy enough to do for radiation, but evaporation, condensation, and boundary layers processes require the use of empirical relationships. (Nothing wrong with using empirical relationships as long as long as their range of validity is not exceeded.)

    So, ModelE physics is sufficiently robust (compared to the earlier GCM) to handle the effects of the large forcing due to zeroing out the non-condensing GHGs, and thus making the Science experiment possible. I want to stress that water vapor and clouds are not somehow being relegated to being “feedbacks” – they are what they are as determined by the evaporation and condensation relationships – not exactly first principles physics, but tested and validated against field measurements nevertheless. However, their radiative effects are always being rendered accurately, whatever their distribution may be.

    Thus, in regard to interpretation of the climate experiment results, it may depend on what the word ‘model’ means to the reader as to what he thinks is being assumed and what is based strictly on “physics”. So, we know that water vapor and clouds are feedbacks, but it is not because we assume it.

    The comment on what would happen if we had zeroed out (or doubled) water vapor and clouds is right on target. We do in fact intend to perform these water vapor and cloud forcing experiments just as soon as some IPCC required runs are completed.

    We know just what to expect. When run to equilibrium both the zeroed and doubled experiments should revert to the control run conditions, since water vapor and clouds are feedbacks, and as such, should not incur any kind of “forced” departure from the control run equilibrium level. Of interest to climatologists is the timescale with which the model runs will converge to their equilibrium point.

    Since the initial radiative forcing for these runs will be about a factor of 3 larger than that of Science paper run, there is no guarantee that the boundary layer, cloud scheme, or some energy conversion might blow up because their range of validity might have been exceeded. The radiation model will easily handle the corresponding heating and cooling rates since we have run such cases before.

    But that is the whole point of climate model development, to construct models with robust enough physics to handle all cases that might have occurred in the geological record. Running extreme climate experiments helps to identify model weak points.

    One further comment on climate feedbacks. As noted by Aires and Rossow (2003), feedback sensitivity is state dependent, so there is no such thing as a climate feedback factor that is in any sense a “constant” of the climate system. Defined over the entire atmosphere, clouds contribute 25% of the total greenhouse effect. But for small perturbations relative to current climate, there is question whether cloud feedback is positive or negative depending on whether it is a function of latitude, height, season, or is expressed as a global average of some sort.

    Similarly water vapor is an overall positive feedback on global average, but there may be isolated circumstances or localities where it may act as a negative feedback, as Lindzen envisions.

    • Andy:

      Thanks for taking the time to offer input here.

      I agree with all you have said. Indeed, water vapor and clouds provide strong feedbacks on temperature change…although we might disagree on the magnitude, or even the sign of those feedbacks.

      I am merely pointing out that, before people infer that your paper has “proved” that CO2 is the main climate driver and other components are more “responders”, this is still an assumption for long term climate change. In my mind, you are putting some long-needed computational details behind your (and others’) particular view of what forces climate change, which is indeed useful.

      In my alternative view, the warming over the last 30 years (or even any centennial time scale temperature change) can be the result of low-frequency oceanic circulation changes that affect either planetary albedo, or average precipitation efficiency (and thus free-tropospheric humidity).

      The fact that coupled climate models like those from GISS actually produce such non-feedback variations on shorter time scales shows up in those phase space plots of temperature versus radiative flux I am always talking about. The big question is whether such things can be forced by oceanic circulation changes, which then necessitates that ocean AND atmospheric processes have to be well understood.

      Unfortunately, our long-term global datasets are not accurate enough to document whether such changes have happened. So, the science establishment has implicated what we know HAS changed: carbon dioxide.

      I just try to make people aware that CO2 has not yet been *proved* to be the main culprit in climate change. They are misled into believing it has through the simplifications added by people like Al Gore, and through the media.

      (BTW, I very much enjoyed visiting with you after my feedback talk at the Fall AGU meeting last year. I do respect your work.)

      -Roy

    • David Kelly says:

      Finally, someone has an answer to a question I have been asking for years. The Carbon Dioxide on Mars does not have as much of an effect on the greenhouse effect molecule for molecule due to smaller pressure broadening absorbtion lines. I did not know that overall atmospheric pressure has a direct effect on how much infrared can be absorbed by a GHG.

  9. Cold Lynx says:

    Yes, water vapor is an overall positive feedback on global average. But cloud is an overall negative feedback on global average. And what is cloud formed by?
    Missed that tiny detail?

    You can not increase average water vapor content without creating more cloud, on average.

    • Mike Edwards says:

      Cold Lynx says:
      October 17, 2010 at 12:36 AM

      You can not increase average water vapor content without creating more cloud, on average.

      Do you have evidence that backs up that statement?

      It is not clear to me that any such simple relationship exists in the real climate system.

      One of the points made by Dr Spencer in a previous posting is that enhanced convection in tropical cloud systems MAY actually cause the large areas of dry downwelling air associated with them to get drier, even where the near-surface layer has higher water vapour content.

      If there were long term crystal clear actual measurements of all these things in the real atmosphere, there would not have to be a debate – but unfortunately, good accurate data is not easy to obtain for these aspects of the climate system. Yet many of these measurements are essential to a proper understanding of how the atmosphere behaves.

      Current models “parameterize” the processes involved in convection and clouds. Such parameterization depends on an understanding of the processes involved – unfortunately convection and clouds are simply not well understood at present.

      Yours, Mike.

  10. hr says:

    Thanks, Roy, for this exposé. I haven’t got current access to the Science Mag paper by Lacis et al., but it would seem from your account that the authors in their thought experiment gloss over the point that a more immediate and lethal effect of removing all CO2 from the atmosphere would be the death of all plant life. This is the realm of science fiction. Is that what subscribers to Science Mag are paying for?

  11. Paul Maynard says:

    The models do not and cannot work from first principles – we don’t understand how the climate works as admitted by the IPCC. So why do the team persist when they would be better off using those research dollars to go and do some measuring. Or would that be too difficult?

    P

  12. Mike Blackadder says:

    Andy Lacis,

    So it hasn’t occurred to you that water vapour and clouds can actually act as a forcing? Natural climate variation (ie. due to longer time-scale changes in ocean currents, etc) may result in net change in cloud cover which is a ‘forcing’ of temperature change. To assume that no such forcing exists and then draw conclusions about the relative significance of greenhouse gases (as a forcing) is a circular argument.

  13. As this is a “blog entry and not a peer reviewed paper” I would all the same like to know where I am going wrong. But I can of course not expect anyone to be able to put me right unless I first tell you all what I understand to be the case when it comes to “Global Warming” Especially the CO2 induced one. So here it comes. Well only a very small part of it, but it is a start:

    The exact Location of Mount Kilimanjaro is said to be approximately 3 degrees south of the equator on the borders of Tanzania and Kenya. Yet, regardless of their closeness to the Earth’s warmest zone or where solar irradiation is at it’s most intense, it is still cold enough for the presence of snow in them there mountains.

    So I wonder why this is …….. Could it be, as my general education more than 55 years ago taught me, that the low air pressure at and around the mountain top is preventing temperatures to climb as high as they do at any similar point some 5000 meters lower down (3° south/north of the equator)

    Or is it because there is less CO2 in the air up there? (Well, a thinner atmosphere must mean less of all gases including CO2).

    If the chill in the air is found to be because of a reduced pressure rather than a reduced CO2 content then it suggests to me that air temperature, or any other temperature for that matter, is more closely tied to pressure than it is to the various atmospheric gas compositions, -at all levels. – It must be so or formulating physical laws would not be possible

    Of course clouds cool the surface of the Earth. Without clouds the “Earth’s Dayside” would have close to 100% solar irradiation and it would be very hot indeed. Well, depending on the air pressure of course.
    The atmosphere in this context serves as a temperature transporter and among its gases water vapour seems to be best at retaining warm and steady temperatures. Even here pressure dictates what happens because when the pressure drops sufficiently as height is gained, the water content is dropped too – as rain or other precipitation. None of the so called ‘Greenhouse Gases’ can be able to enhance temperature on a global scale. They may be able to transport heat from one place to another. But after all they are not “heat sources” and can by themselves not warm anything up. I believe it is a matter of fact that the atmosphere which surrounds/ envelopes the planet as a whole serves to even out the day/night surface temperatures. The surface of the sunny side of our moon is more than 100° C while the dark side is far too cold for comfort.

    I doubt very much if there is such a thing as a “Greenhouse Gas” and I cannot help but think that scientists have grasped and are running with a great misnomer at best or a complete falsification of facts at worst.

    After all The Earth is not a greenhouse and in all cases temperature will drop when energy input is dropped, which suggests to me that the two are closely linked.

    Even when a pressure cooker starts whistling all one has to do is to turn off, or reduce, the energy supply for the whistling to stop.

    No gas, or pocket of gases, can stop convection like the glass roof in a greenhouse can, but must instead, as it warms, expand and rise upwards now being lighter pr. vol. than adjacent gases. (In other words they are themselves convected). Cooler gases are then sucked in below to fill the space left behind. This air interchange must be true at all levels from the smallest difference in ground heat absorption to what happens in the largest atmospheric frontal systems.

    And why is it possible to understand that ‘Radio waves’ are radiation waves but that ‘sound waves’ are not. Yet it seems impossible to grasp that ‘Infra Red’ (IR) is radiation but ‘heat’ is not – when neither sound nor heat can move at or near to the speed of light and both heat and sound can be carried away by the wind.

    I can accept, because I cannot disprove, that without an atmosphere ‘as a whole’ the Earth’s surface temperature would average out at some 33° C cooler than it is today. But that is neither here nor there, because without an atmosphere who is going to argue?

    So if anyone can explain to me how ‘Greenhouse Gases’ can keep on rising the planet’s temperature if the energy input from the Sun declines. Then please do so as I am all ‘agog’

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      Olav H Dahlsveen says:
      October 17, 2010 at 6:23 AM

      Please get informed before discussing about something so serious! :

      Snows of Kilimanjaro Shrinking Rapidly, and Likely to be Lost
      November 2, 2009 (NASA Earth Observatory)

  14. John Waggott says:

    Responding to Werner Brozek’s comment ” – - the water vapor we produce soon condenses and falls as rain so it does not slowly build up.”

    Thank you for your insight Werner.

    The water vapor from products of combustion seems small compared to the water vapor from the cooling system of most power plants – coal, nuclear, combined cycle, biomass and geothermal – where 40 to 75% of the thermal energy ends up evaporating water in cooling towers.

    It seems I’ve read that the some CO2 climate models require a small heating effect to cause more water evaporation, which in turn causes most of the projected heating. Did I read it right? So presumably that water vapor is in enough quantity and is sustained long enough to give the projected effect. That does seem plausible.

    Now let’s move on to the overall effect of water in the atmosphere. There’s a lot more of it than CO2. The effect on atmospheric temperature varies profoundly depending on WHERE it is in the atmosphere and whether it’s CLOUDS or VAPOR. By all accounts these are very powerful mechanism. So we must understand this distribution of clouds, vapor and precipitation with great precision if we are understand the the effects on climate. So how well do we understand this water distribution in the atmosphere – then – now – and in the future?

    I’m little more than a sideline observer in this debate. But it seems to me that the UNCERTAINTIES of the huge water vapor mechanisms must be greater than the relatively small OVERALL effects of CO2.

    I don’t necessarily believe that cooling tower water vapor emissions are a serious factor. But I make the point to illustrate that there are many mechanisms that could be connected to climate change (is it changing?) and the more emphatic the CO2 believers become, the less convincing they seem to be (“The lady doth protest too much, methinks”).

  15. Mike Blackadder says:

    Olav, I have no special authority to correct your arguments, but I can atleast explain my understanding based on the material I’ve read.

    1) You asked if low temperature atop a mountain is ultimately due to a change in pressure or difference in CO2 concentration:

    It is not CO2 concentration differences that cause lower temperature. You could say that the difference in temperature is due to difference in pressure (search for ‘adiabatic lapse rate’ for description of the physics). Another explanation is to point out net flows of energy. The earth receives energy from the sun. The earth gives off energy back out into space (but that energy must pass through the atmosphere in one form or another – ie. through conduction, convection and radiation). Mountain-top air is more or less heated from the earth below (as opposed to being primarily heated by the sun directly).

    2) You suggest surface temperature is more closely tied to pressure than it is to gas concentrations.

    I believe this is a somewhat controversial claim, but I think that I agree with you. In effect surface temperature of a planet is more or less a function of incident solar radiation and the mass of its atmosphere. Take Venus’ atmosphere as an example. However, greenhouse gases are ALSO necessary at least in moderate concentrations. If there is no resistance to outgoing radiation from the Earth then the Earth’s temperature will be fundamentally limited regardless of the size of the atmosphere.

    3) You suggest greenhouse gases transport heat, but they can not ‘heat’ the surface because they are not a source of heat.

    Temperature is not only a function of incident heat, but also a function of heat lost. Greenhouse gas concentrations effect the rate at which the Earth will give off heat at a given temperature. Theoretically, increases in greenhouse gas concentrations should result in a radiative imbalance, not due to increases in solar energy, but due to decreases in long-wave radiation from the Earth.

  16. Invariant says:

    I find the mix of assumptions, arguments and calculations amusing. Obviously this is not the way physics is supposed to work, ideally evaporation, precipitation and cloud coverage should be the result of the calculations, and not assumptions or input to the calculations. To me it seems that climate science has misunderstood what should be calculated and what should not be calculated. In a set of partial differential equations, one needs to specify the initial and boundary conditions before numerical integration can start. Then the equations of motion together with the equations of state and certain closure relations should be able to predict temperature, precipitation, pressure, humidity, wind, evaporation and cloud cover.

    We know this is impossible. With the limited computational resources and observations, this is impossible.

    So, climate scientists replace what should be calculated with assumptions and arguments. Note that this is neither physics nor science. Imagine scientist “arguing” how long it will take to boil the water in a kettle?

    If we assume that humidity and cloud cover varies little with temperature, then it is not a surprise that simulations show that humidity and cloud cover varies little with temperature… In reality, of course, it is the governing equations of motion that must be solved to see how humidity and cloud cover varies with temperature.

    • Steve Koch says:

      Cloud formation is not well understood by anybody. Neither is cloud albedo. Necessarily this reduces our understanding of the cloud part of the hydrology cycle. The tiny drops in clouds need to have a nucleus to form. There are many types of nuclei, biological, salt, ionized particles, etc. Cloud formation is not just a function of heat, it is way more complicated than that.

  17. Ken Chapman says:

    It seems the ‘elephant in the room’ is albedo. In most climate models, the earth’s albedo is treated as a constant which appears to be a gross over-simplification. Any climate model that ignores variability in the earth’s albedo, short and long term, is simply mucking around in the albedo’s background noise trying to make sense out of nonsense.

  18. Reply to “coturnix19 says:
    October 17, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    isn’t our humans’ co2 production too dwarfed by what degasses from oceans?”

    The CO2 in the air depends on several things, including
    1. what you start with,
    2. what is put in by humans, and
    3. what the oceans absorb

    The following is a quote by Lord Monckton at:
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/NonProblem_Spun_Into_Global_Crisis.pdf

    “1. Are human activities contributing to climate change? How do we know the atmosphere build up of greenhouse gases is due to human activity?
    Glikson: Since the industrial revolution in the mid-18th century, combustion of fossil fuel resulted in the emission of more than 320 billion tons of carbon in the form of CO2. This is more than half the pre-industrial carbon content of the atmosphere of 590 billion tons. About 200 billion tons stayed in the atmosphere, raising CO2 concentration from 280 parts per million (ppm) to the current level of 388 ppm.”

    So the bottom line is that at the present time, humans are putting CO2 into the atmosphere at a fast rate. However the temperatures of the oceans are even going down at the present time rather than up. The result is that oceans are net absorbers of CO2. Degassing from oceans can only occur if there is a dynamic equilibrium and the temperatures of the oceans then went up but there was no external source of CO2 into the atmosphere.

  19. lemiere jacques says:

    I agree with chapman about albedo…about stabilty of climate we must notice that because of ocean reaction times the climate systeme is far from “equilibrated” and stationary…..

  20. Reply to
    ” John Waggott says:
    October 17, 2010 at 10:58 AM
    It seems I’ve read that the some CO2 climate models require a small heating effect to cause more water evaporation, which in turn causes most of the projected heating. Did I read it right?”

    Yes, that was the theory and it certainly sounded plausible enough. However in real life, things just did not seem to work out that way. Whether the net feedback due to more CO2 with the change in water vapor and cloud cover is positive or negative is the subject of huge debate right now. All I can say is this:

    If the feedback were as positive as the IPCC people would have us believe, then the 1998 temperature mark should have been beaten several times by now and without the help of an El Nino.

  21. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    If you want a copy of the Lacis et al paper, send a “reprint request card” by email to the lead author. Hopefully he will send you a pdf type file.

    Back in the old days when postage was cheap (ca 5 cents for a post card), I sent out lots of reprint request cards. Reprints take up less space than photocopies, and it was time consuming to go library and make photocopies from a slow machine.

    When our insect pheromone group at SFU published a paper, we ordered 200 reprints. An expert on bark beetles, Prof John Borden was our group leader and would send out reprints to colleagues and researchers on his mailing list. He did this as courtesy and to ensure that reseachers and potential grant reviewers were kept abreast with our group’s current research.

    I am really ticked off about journals’ paywalls. Our tax dollars pay for the research and we should be able to see what we get for our tax dollars for free.

  22. Chuck Wiese says:

    Andy, you are going to continue to flownder in failure by making the continued erroneous assertion that water vapor and clouds are only “feedbacks” to the earth’s climate system. This is is in direct contradiction to all of the founding work done in atmospheric radiation years ago that put CO2 absorption squarely in its relative place to the system, and that’s that it is of secondary importance only as a “greenhouse” gas. The 15 micron band gets no more than roughly 17% of the total ground IR flux at any range of temperature, with water vapor and cloud getting all the rest, that causes absorption of the earth’s ground radiation to vary between roughly 60-100%, and NONE of Co2′s radiation constrains nocturnal temperature ranges at almost all latidudes and conditions, for it is always water vapor, being cooled to it’s atmospheric saturation vapor pressure and closing off 10 micron window emission that only accomplishes this.

    The only place there seems to be any impericle evidence that Co2 is having ANY contolling effect is in an arctic environment where ground emission at extremely low temperatures begins to radiate directly into the 15 micron band, but even there you approach minimum temperatures that have been continuimg to repeat year after year and no evidence that the arctic ambient minimum temperaures are getting any warmer.

    It is solar insolation and the very thermal properties of water and the subsequent hydrological cycle and hydrostatics that regulates the earths temperature, not CO2. And there is nothing humans can do to change this and any scientist who claims they have solved the puzzle of balancing energy exchange in this cycle that leads to small or larger climate swing is a disengenuous liar. But there is no doubt that solar and orbital changes in the earth are major factors and highly correlate with temperature.
    Your continued insistance that CO2 is a main climate driver to meteorologists like myself, as well as others, based upon what we see and work with in operational meteorology, it can be concluded that you are looking sillier by the day.

    Your modeling has failed to produce the results you claim would happen in the tropics, and global temperatures have not continued upward in the last ten years to a significant temperature trend regression line. Further, you know that in order to run your model through large time integrations like you do that you have no way of maintaining track of energy exchange and transforamtion through the size of grids you need to maintain computational stability, and for the life of me, I don’t even see how you could begin to construct an emission profile in computing extra wing absorption when none of the lines come close to saturating near the surface like they do at 15 microns.
    You guys have frittered away 100 billion dollars of taxpayer money on this frivolous modeling that has gotten you nowhere, and in light of the evidence, it is looking more like you are trying to please charlotan politicians like Al Gore and those pushing for carbon taxes than you are in seeking truth about the earths real climate sytem.

    Chuck F. Wiese
    Meteorlogist

  23. Paul says:

    @Olav H Dahlsveen

    The clearest account that I have seen, so far, of the physics of our atmosphere is a paper : —

    John Nicol, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Physics, James Cook University, Australia, states in his paper Climate Change (A Fundamental Analysis of the Greenhouse Effect),

    download the .doc document from http://www.middlebury.net/nicol-08.doc

    This shows that

    1) Infrared radiation from the surface is absorbed in the first few feet of the atmosphere.

    2) 99% of the absorbed radiation is converted to kinetic energy within milliseconds.

    3) Heat transport in the troposphere is dominated by convection.

    Oh, and the back-radiation, on which the CAGW hypothesis rests, is shown to be both fixed and infinitesimal, leaving absolutely no mechanism by which the so-called ‘green house’ effect can warm the surface.

    QED

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      Olav H Dahlsveen says:
      “2) 99% of the absorbed radiation is converted to kinetic energy within milliseconds”.

      How can we explain that the ascending air is really warm even a few feet over the surface (if sufficient sun radiation and “reasonable” albedo).?

  24. Paul says:

    As an addendum, another analysis, which uses less mathematics and so might be easier for some to deal with, is

    The Shattered Greenhouse: How Simple Physics Demolishes the “Greenhouse Effect”.
    Timothy Casey B.Sc. (Hons.)
    Consulting Geologist

    First Uploaded ISO: 2009-Oct-13
    Revision 4 ISO: 2010-June-25

    at http://greenhouse.geologist-1011.net/

  25. Reader says:

    I have a number of difficulties with the GISS new paper.

    One is that it relies heavily on Hansen. Hansen always appears in the habit of heavily supporting his own work with his own work. I think the model is produce a paper and then keep referencing it, eventually everyone will assume it is correct. Although Andy Lacis has produced this paper, he has a history of producing papers with Hansen who is still the “NASA official” for GISS.

    One of the reference is Hansen’s 2008 paper, target co2, this paper is itself highly disturbing and builds assumption on assumption continually through out.

    As an observer it is deeply disturbing that Hansen spent his formative academic years (i.e. PhD and later years) studying Venus and has clearly been heavily influenced to the point of being myopic on the effects of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    That aside, it astounds me that someone would build a model with an underlying assumption that CO2 is the dominant force in the atmosphere and then act surprised when the only way the model produces any sort of sensible result is when they add all sorts of CO2 values.

    HELLO !!! Earth to GISS, this is just incredible! Their habit of saying look we apply natural forcing and the model doesnt match reality but it does when we add CO2 forcings. Of course it does !! They built the model that way !

    Quite honestly I find it very hard to view NASA science with respect in light of the GISS. This IS a critical issue and these guys just seem like cowboys.

  26. johnd says:

    I’m trying to understand just why water vapour and clouds are considered feedback given the origins of the thermal energy they carry with them into the atmosphere.
    Watching how water evaporates from surfaces on land, it is clear that the inputs into the evaporation process in order of influence are solar radiation, wind, ground temperature and finally air temperature.
    When observing a clear surface, for example soil or concrete, that is partly shaded, but exposed to any wind and the ambient air temperature, the difference in temperature of the surface between the shaded and unshaded areas can be considerable.
    If any water falls upon both surfaces, that which falls upon the unshaded area rapidly evaporates, whereas that subject to all the other inputs in the shaded area evaporates much more slowly.
    Over a longer time frame of days or weeks, it can be observed where an area of soil is in constant shade even though exposed to the wind, the shaded soil will remain moist, even wet whilst inches away, soil that has had exposure to direct sunlight will be completely dry.

    This suggests that the heat energy that has been absorbed into the water vapour during the transformation from a liquid is primarily a direct result of the energy received directly from the sun with wind being the next most important input.
    That then suggests that the thermal energy that is thus carried into and becomes part of the atmosphere is a forcing, just as any solar energy directly absorbed by the atmosphere is considered a forcing.

    Is there some point I am missing?

  27. Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    Paul says (from the “clairest” account…in a paper):
    October 17, 2010 at 5:55 PM:
    “1) Infrared radiation from the surface is absorbed in the first few feet of the atmosphere”.

    Have you ever been, for instance, at a second floor window, looking down at an asphalted street at noon or afternoon hours, in spring or summer? You clearly feel the radiation heat on your face. And in Spain even on higher floors.
    How can anybody really believe that heat back radiation from the asphalt is absorbed in the first few feet?

  28. Brad says:

    Dr Spencer:
    As always, I enjoy reading your blog. In your conclusions you missed another shortcoming of the Lacis paper. It didn’t show an accurate amount of CO2 that occurs from human activity, what amount of “warming” results from that activity, and whether that activity includes breathing.

  29. Allan Kiik says:

    Rafael, nobody thinks that all IR is absorbed in the first meter, large part of it gets through IR-window and that is what you feel when looking down. See this graph, the blue part is not absorbed:
    http://stevengoddard.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/595px-atmospheric_transmission2.png

  30. AlanG says:

    You’ve got my vote on this, Dr. Spencer – water vapor is both a forcing and a feedback. The fundamental drivers of weather are physical. The molecular weight of water (18) is lower than the molecular weight of the atmosphere gases (N2 = 28 and O2 = 32). As a result humid air is less dense than dry air at the same temperature and pressure. Given the lapse rate (falling temperature with altitude) the warm humid air and the colder dryer air just above try to swap places. This carries the latent and sensible heat up through the atmosphere to an altitude where the water condenses out, giving up energy which radiates out into space.

    I like the ‘strong forces’ model outlined in your book Climate Confusion. The ‘forces’ of precipitation are stronger than the ‘forces’ of evaporation. If they weren’t then the atmosphere would be saturated with water vapor which it isn’t. Water vapor would be 100% positive feedback if the atmosphere was saturated.

    In terms of feedback, I think we have positive feedback from water vapor until the weather really gets going then it turns to negative feedback. The negative feedback wins out in the end.

  31. NormD says:

    I am not an atmospheric scientist but I have done some modeling.

    When I modeled things the first and most important question was not “what does not my model predict?” but rather does my model explain the past. If not, it was wrong.

    Does the claim is that CO2 is the primary driver of Earth’s temperature stand up to history? The early Earth when there was no O2? Snowball Earth? Ice Ages? It seems like the CO2 concentration has varied by orders of magnitude while the temp has been relatively stable. How can it be the primary driver?

  32. Yes Rafael Molina Navas, ‘the snows on Kilimanjaro’ have been steadily vanishing since before Hemingway wrote his book about it.
    Scientists do know the reason why it is happening and it is not because we have warmed Kilimanjaro up with hydro carbons.
    And yes it is, or may be, serious for those who live, and for the eco-system, further down the mountain slope. But who knows for sure?

    By the way scientists do not usually trade in scare-stories, just look what happened to the ‘snows of The Himalayas’ scare-story

    Olav

    And thank you to Mike Blackadder and to Paul for your positive comments and refs. as helpful replies to my post. -

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      I see you haven´t read what I linked for you. What follws is part of it:
      “85 percent of the ice that covered the mountain in 1912 had been lost by 2007, and 26 percent of the ice there in 2000 is now gone;

      A radioactive signal marking the 1951-52 “Ivy” atomic tests that was detected in 2000 1.6 meters (5.25 feet) below the surface of the Kilimanjaro ice is now lost, with an estimated 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) missing from the top of the current ice fields.

      The presence of elongated bubbles trapped in the frozen ice at the top of one of the cores shows that surface ice has melted and refrozen. There is no evidence of sustained melting anywhere in the rest of the core that dates back 11,700 years;

      Even 4,200 years ago, a drought in that part of Africa that lasted about 300 years and left a thick (about 1-inch) dust layer, was not accompanied by any evidence of melting. These observations confirm that the current climate conditions over Mount Kilimanjaro are unique over the last 11 millennia.”

      • M says:

        Raphael, what about these comments?

        ++++
        According to Nature’s Betsy Mason, “Although it’s tempting to blame the (Kilimanjaro) ice loss on global warming, researchers think that deforestation of the mountain’s foothills is the more likely culprit.”

        Forests at the base of Kilimanjaro have been steadily disappearing for decades. “Without the forests’ humidity,” Mason reports, “previously moisture-laden winds blew dry. No longer replenished with water, the ice is evaporating in the strong equatorial sunshine.”

        “Why has [the Kilimanjaro ice cap] been melting so relentlessly?” asked climatologist John Daly. “The greenhouse industry say ‘global warming,’ but then they would say that, wouldn’t they?

        “The only problem with that knee-jerk explanation is that there has been no measurable atmospheric warming in the region of Kilimanjaro,” noted Daly. “Satellites have been measuring temperature since 1979 in the free troposphere between 1,000 and 8,000 meters altitude, and they show no tropospheric warming in that area. None.”

        According to Daly, human-induced global warming should not have been named the primary culprit, even before a connection to deforestation was made.

        Said Daly, “Kilimanjaro is above most of the weather and is thus exposed to the equatorial sun, a sun that has been hotter during the twentieth century than at any time since the medieval period. That would be a sufficient explanation in itself for the depletion of the ice cap.”

        +++++

        • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

          O. H. DAHLSVEEN says:
          “.. a sun that has been hotter during the twentieth century than at any time since the medieval period”
          This is not demonstrated whatsoever. I´m afraid we have to leave this issue for when we have more accurate data…
          NASA, after informing of a record measured minimum in 2008, in contrast with other data in line with yours, says:
          “Which measurements are right? Has the sun experienced subtle brightening or dimming during the last few solar cycles? Such questions remain controversial, but the radiometer aboard Glory, called the Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM), is ready to provide answers. The Glory TIM will be more accurate and stable than previous instruments because of unique optical and electrical advances. And each of its components has undergone a rigorous regime of calibrations at a newly-built facility at the University of Colorado.”
          Besides, what I mentioned ended : “These observations confirm that the current climate conditions over Mount Kilimanjaro are unique over the last 11 millennia.”
          Has the sun never, in 11 millennia, “stronger” than in this century?…Difficult to believe.

  33. Christopher Game says:

    This Lacis Schmidt Rind Ruedy 2010 paper is pure political propaganda. It is a proposal that a certain emotive metaphor be accepted, not a report of a scientific discovery. That Science should have published it is clear evidence that Science is corruptly edited, driven by religio-political belief in Anthropogenic Global Warming.

    The “amplification” story that goes with the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism is pure metaphor. The so-called “amplification” has no power gain expressible in decibels; there is no power supply to support the metaphoric “amplification”. The variable that is “amplified” is not an actual physical quantity: it is a virtual quantity, a quantity that ‘would be found if such and such conditions were realized’ while those ‘such and such conditions’ are actually not physically realizable. To check this out, try reading Bode’s 1945 textbook that is deceptively cited by the IPCC as support for its “forcings and feedbacks” formalism, which reading Bode will show you is a travesty of Bode’s electronic amplifier design theory. CO2 change is a parameter change, not a dynamical state variable change, and it is only a virtual or metaphorical or analogical “forcer” of the dynamical process. Bode’s theory needs the Nyquist criterion to test for stability but the IPCC formalism doesn’t come anywhere near needing to use that criterion, because it doesn’t have a real amplification in its sights.

    Christopher Game

  34. Christopher Game says:

    Dr Spencer writes:
    “Just because water vapor responds quickly to temperature change does not mean that there are no long-term water vapor changes (or cloud changes) — not due to temperature — that cause climate change. Asserting so is a non sequitur, and just leads to circular reasoning.”

    This is right. It means that there is a difference between structural change and dynamical change. The IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism is in the language and theory of dynamical change, but it is trying to deal with a question of structural change. System structure is expressed by time-invariant parameters, while dynamical change is expressed by dynamical variables which are functions of time. The IPCC formalism mixes this up, by positing a meretricious analogy between the very slow changes of CO2 and the fast effects of temperature and water vapour as internal dynamical variables of the state of the system.

    The Lacis Schmidt Rind Ruedy 2010 paper’s use of the word ‘control’ gives it away. Control is an anthropomorphic concept: but the climate is a natural process, not controlled by anyone, unless one were to say that the only historical change of CO2 is the alleged anthropogenic one.

    As Dr Spencer says: “a very clever paper”. But not science.

    Christopher Game

  35. “If they had forced the model with a water vapor change, it would have done the same thing.” [resulting in a large temperature response]

    As Andy Lacis said in response, the expectation would be that the the climate would soon revert to its initial state, though I’m looking forward to see this tested (if it hasn’t yet been done?)

    On the notion of the climate being able to change (e.g. warm) all by itself, without being ‘forced’: I can imagine two scenarios:
    - The warming is balanced by cooling elsewhere (eg ocean, cryosphere, etc)
    - The warming causes more energy (in the form of radiation) to leave the earth’ system, and as a consequence there will a negative energy imbalance at the top of the atmosphere. This will act to cool down the climate again.

    Both scenario’s are highly unlikely to be playing a role right now: Warming (or its effects) is found in all segments of the climate system, and there is a positive energy balance at the TOA.

  36. Trond Arne Pettersen says:

    I quote from the post:

    “From what I can tell reading the paper, their claim is that, since our primary greenhouse gas water vapor (and clouds, which constitute a portion of the greenhouse effect) respond quickly to temperature change, vapor and clouds should only be considered “feedbacks” upon temperature change — not “forcings” that cause the average surface temperature of the atmosphere to be what it is in the first place.”

    The share fact that water evaporates by the heat of sunlight, removing heat from the surface, transporting it to higher levels, releases the energy through condensation and makes it radiate to space from high up in the atmosphere, makes water wapor a real agent in the process of warming and cooling. Not a secondary feedback thing.

    Thanks for your climate books Mr. Spencer. I read them last week.

  37. RW says:

    Here is what I don’t understand. How come CO2/H2O (water vapor) IR absorption overlap is overlooked, and perhaps more importantly – not experimentally tested and quantified?

    Everyone seems to be focusing on potential cloud feedbacks and/or isolating one particular thing like CO2 and water vapor. This seems to create an enormous amount of confusion and uncertainty that leads nowhere.

    Also, the claim that the “intrinsic” response from a doubling of CO2 will increase the surface temperature about 1 degree C is suspect to me because wouldn’t about half of it be radiated out to space (half goes upward, half goes downward) – making the “intrinsic” effect only about 0.5 degrees C? Furthermore, this so-called “intrinsic” effect assumes no other substances in the atmosphere except CO2, right? Before any convection too, right?

    This gets me back to the CO2/water vapor overlap issue. If water vapor exists in much higher concentrations than CO2, and water vapor is capable of absorbing much of the same outgoing LW IR as CO2, wouldn’t the presence of water vapor minimize the net effect CO2 has in the atmosphere? Also, everyone seems to be talking about cloud feedbacks in response to temperature changes (from rising CO2), but what about the effect clouds themselves (especially low clouds) have at absorbing outgoing LW IR? Are not clouds, especially low clouds, much better at blocking/insulating outgoing surface IR power than any of GHG in the clear atmosphere? The effect of this being that any area that is cloud covered, especially low cloud covered, would nullify or greatly minimize the effects of CO2 because the clouds would absorb the IR power anyway. Also, are not water vapor concentrations generally higher in the space between the surface and the clouds – making potential water vapor overlap/minimization of CO2 even greater? Isn’t a very large percentage of the earth cloud covered?

    I don’t know, it seems most everyone is looking for and examining the wrong things, such as the isolated effects of CO2 and water vapor, or clouds feedbacks when they should be focusing on what the net effect of CO2 is when all the other substances, specifically water vapor and clouds are combined together. I suspect the effect of a doubling of CO2 just in the presence of water vapor and clouds is far less than 0.5 C even before any convection comes into play. After convection, maybe even a complete wash?

  38. John Norris says:

    Why does the climate science community find it necessary to use the terms forcing and feedback? The rest of the technical world seems to make do with the terms positive and negative feedback.

  39. HR says:

    I wanted to ask Roy a question but maybe if Andy Lacis is around he’ll have a stab at it.

    It’s about Roy’s rather cynical take on Sciences publication policy. Roy seems to make the separation between the data per se and the lines of reasoning in this paper. Given that Andy seems to agree with Roy in that there isn’t much new in this paper why has such a prestigious journal choose to publish this work? Does Science recognise the unique nature of this experimental work or is it just concerned to see this “line of reasoning” is affirmed?

    It’s just curious that a paper with little new would be published in a journal that must reject 100′s of papers weekly (??)

  40. Andrew says:

    John Norris-”Why does the climate science community find it necessary to use the terms forcing and feedback? The rest of the technical world seems to make do with the terms positive and negative feedback.”

    I am unsure what you could mean by this. Feedbacks do not initiate processes, but amplify or dampen processes as they occur. So how exactly is it that “other disciplines” manage to talk about processes starting or stopping by only referring to feedback? Forcing is not at all analogous to either the concept of negative or positive feedback, so I am not sure how you think they could take it’s place.

    ~Andrew

  41. Patrik says:

    So, in an air free/vacuum tank placed outside, the temperature will consistently be approximately 30-33 kelvin colder than the surroundings?

    If not – why not?

  42. Patrik says:

    Or maybe the chamber should contain app. 25% O and 75% N – will this chamber be consistently ~30 colder than the surroundings?

  43. Slimething says:

    Dr. Spencer,
    Have you had a chance to review Andrew Dessler’s latest paper on water vapor published this October?

  44. Mike Nelson says:

    If this paper / model is to believed how do they account for the Science peer reviewed and documented fact that CO2 concentration increases LAG BEHIND recorded warming events by 800 to 1000 years in the Vostok ice core records?

    http://www.abd.org.uk/co2_cause_or_effect.htm

    It seems to me inconsistent that CO2 could have been the cause then, and by extension cannot credibly be considered as the dominant factor today unless they can explain this discrepency. Its not a 1 parameter system.

  45. physicist says:

    Roy, I think your focus on the mixing up of cause and effect is very important, and I have enjoyed reading your many posts on this. The problem is that our thinking is linear so we think that all changes require an external forcing. A non linear system can generate its own oscillations. You and others have argued, convincingly in my view, that natural oscillations like the PDO and AMO have played an important role in the climate variation over the last century, and these oscillations are not captured by the models. The usual focus on the warming during the last 30-40 years, half the period of these oscillations, and linear projection into the future is very misleading, and this seems in essense to be what the modelers are doing.

    A minor correction to your numbers: we have experienced 40% of a doubling of CO2 and this gives about half the effect of a doubling with a logarithmic dependence since 1.4 is close to the square root of 2, i.e. ln(1.4)=0.5*ln(2). Your factor 20 should then be 16, which of course does not matter for the argument.

  46. M says:

    Here’s another study, I realized I didn’t have a citation for that excerpt.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727794.400-kilimanjaros-vanishing-ice-due-to-treefelling.html

  47. slimething says:

    Dr. Spencer,
    I’m sure you’re aware of this:
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2010JCLI3657.1

  48. Jan Lindström says:

    “a few feet” could well mean 100 feet in certain areas. It is still nothing compared to the thickness of the atmosphere. The point is the average.

  49. slimething says:

    Oh boy, ignore my last link….old news.

  50. @ Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid
    How do you differentiate between rising hot air and IR radiation when you stick your head out of a at a second floor window looking down at an asphalted street at noon or afternoon hours in spring or summer, in Madrid or anywhere else for that matter?

    M has given you some relevant facts that could have more to do with vanishing snow than CO2 have.
    Why not learn more about hockey sticks, polar bears, hurricanes and other so called ”AGW poster children”

    Oh, I mean learn from factual data and preferably not from AGW fanatics. But you are probably right if you think: “this thread has stretched far enough for now” After all this is Dr. Spencer’s blog

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      Olav H Dahlsveen says:
      October 20, 2010 at 6:29 AM
      If you answer with another question, and treating other people as AGW fanatics, perhaps you don´t actually know what to answer!
      It´s not unusual to have still air, and feal IR radiation. Even with a bit of horizontal wind, IR radiation can be felt, if suffiently hot street.
      If I mention rising air, it´s due to what you say about the very rapid tranformation of practically the total IR radiation into kinetic energy of the air. I´m afraid you, and the author of the book you so much admire, have misunderstood the phenomenon.

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      Olav H Dahlsveen says:
      October 20, 2010 at 6:29 AM

      I forgot to mention the case when you can tell it´s rising hot air what you feel: If you go to upper floors, as the radiation you could feel diminishses proportionally to the square of the distance, when you feel the rising air is clearly hot, it can´t be due to the IR radiation from such a distant asphalted street.

  51. Stephenz says:

    I really like it . Thanks!

  52. Hello Rafael,

    ” Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:
    October 19, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    Werner Brozek says:
    “…However the temperatures of the oceans are even going down at the present time rather than up”
    Some months ago I read news saying the contrary: ”

    I was not very specific when I said “at the present time”. The article you refer to was published on May 19, 2010. According to the “Daily global average temperature at: Sea Surface”, on May 19, the temperature for 2010 was the highest when compared with the years 2003 to 2009. On October 19, the 2010 Sea Surface temperature was colder than all years from 2003 to 2009. To check out the daily Sea Surface temperatures, see http://www.drroyspencer.com/2009/01/daily-monitoring-of-global-average-temperatures/
    At any rate, even when the ocean was warmer, it still would not have been warm enough to be a net emitter of CO2.

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      Werner Brozek says:
      October 20, 2010 at 3:56 PM

      I was referring only to the question of ocean temperatures, not to its ability to absorbe or supply CO2.
      In relation with the first issue, we have to be very careful not to mix ocean mean temperatures with its surface ones. And you are mentioning surface ones (as at this blog heading!), only a “micropart” of oceans.
      I think that ocean action on atmospheric temperatures is what less known, very complex indeed. It absorbes and delivers huge amounts of heat, being the main temperature stabilizer we all know. But it works irregulary (apart from normal alternations day/night, yearly seasons, and fearly regular fenomenom such as Gulf Stream), and in not too big space and/or time gaps, it causes natural atmosphere temperature oscillations which, added to anthropogenic global warming – if any – are keeping we all arguing about the issue for years …
      And regarding CO2, I think that if ocean water went on warming – even if surface water didn´t – eventually CO2 would be delivered back to the atmosphere, unless a huge amount of CO2 went on beeing added to the atmosphere from external source. Let us hope we don´t see such scenario …

  53. S. Chaseling says:

    On the Accuracy of Deriving Climate Feedback Parameters from Correlations between Surface Temperature and Outgoing Radiation
    Journal of Climate, Sep 15, 2010 by Murphy, D M, Forster, P M

    ABSTRACT
    “Spencer and Braswell recently showed that in a simple box model for the earth the regression of outgoing radiation against surface temperature gave a slope that differed from the model’s true feedback parameter. They went on to select input parameters for the box model based on observations, computed the difference for those conditions, and asserted that there is a significant bias for climate studies. This paper shows that Spencer and Braswell overestimated the difference. Differences between the regression slope and the true feedback parameter are significantly reduced when 1) a more realistic value for the ocean mixed layer depth is used, 2) a corrected standard deviation of outgoing radiation is used, and 3) the model temperature variability is computed over the same time interval as the observations. When all three changes are made, the difference between the slope and feedback parameter is less than one-tenth of that estimated by Spencer and Braswell. Absolute values of the difference for realistic cases are less than 0.05 W m^sup -2^ K^sup -1^, which is not significant for climate studies that employ regressions of outgoing radiation against temperature. Previously published results show that the difference is negligible in the Hadley Centre Slab Climate Model, version 3 (HadSM3).
    ———————————

    I’d like to know your opinion this Dr Spencer.

  54. Christopher Game says:

    Dr Spencer writes of “the cause-versus-effect issue I repeatedly refer to in the past”.

    According to Aristotle, there are four kinds of scientific “why” question about a process. What is the mechanism of the process? What, if any, is the functionality of the process? What are the unchanging features of the process? What are the changing features of the process? These four questions all relate to causal efficacy. Causal efficacy is the main metaphysical concept of science.

    The things that don’t change are viewed as structural. The things that do, as kinetic and dynamic.

    A basic axiom of the metaphysics of causal efficacy can be expressed thus: every cave man can do things with material objects. An instance is that he can throw a stone to hit a selected target. The mechanism is to use his hand to pick up the stone and throw it. The functionality is to hit a selected target. The unchanging feature is that the stone does not crumble to dust on the way to the target. The changing feature is that the position of the stone and perhaps of the target change while the stone is on the way to the target.

    What is the function of the fish’s moving its gills? For respiration. Why does the earth orbit the sun? In this case, no functionality is involved (at least, not until President Obama authorizes the research grant I have applied for, to change the earth’s orbit to see how it affects the climate; don’t hold your breath).

    Why do the sunspots cycle over 22 years? No functionality here. What is the mechanism of their cycle? It is driven by the motions of Jupiter and Saturn and the consequent gravitational field and inertial changes affecting the tides on the sun.

    What is the mechanism by which the sunspot cycle is closely correlated with earth climate changes? Not yet known.

    The next great metaphysical axiom of causal efficacy is that, in every inertial reference frame, for any instance of causal efficacy, the cause precedes the effect. We have not the slightest hint of an explanation of this axiom, but it is fundamental to science; it makes for our distinction between space and time in any given inertial reference frame.

    Science has empirical foundations as well as logical ones. There are two kinds of scientific empiric: those in which the investigator, like the cave man mentioned above, can do things with the objects of interest, and those in which he can’t. In astronomy, he can’t. But astronomy is still an empirical science in the sense that he can say: “Point the telescope in that direction and look through it at such and such a time, and you will see the moons of Jupiter.” He does something to the telescope and predicts the observed result. But to date he has not tried altering the orbits of Jupiter’s moons, in this case the objects of interest. The biochemist can do things to his objects of interest, for example he can give to or withhold vitamins from his experimental rats. In this sense, biochemistry is an experimental science, with a method that is more than simply an empirical one.

    We expect eventually to find out the mechanism of the correlation of the sunspot cycles with the earth’s climate changes. We regard the correlation as likely to be explained in terms of some causal influence from the sun on the earth’s climate. We do not expect to find any causal influence of the earth’s climate on the sunspot cycle. In this sense we expect to find connected with the sunspot cycle an external driver of the earth’s climate.

    An external driver is such that its effect on the process of interest is far far greater than is the effect of the process of interest on it. That means that feedback from the process of interest to the driver is entirely negligible for the investigation of the causal relations of the internal dynamical variables of the process of interest.

    Experimental sciences may be said to be those in which the investigator of the causal relations amongst the internal dynamical variables of a process can, for his investigation, control external drivers of the processes of interest. In a simply empirical science, this is not so; the investigator cannot control the external drivers.

    Climatology in this sense is almost entirely an empirical science, not an experimental one. Lacis et al. 2010 would like to make it into a experimental science by trying to control the climate by fiddling with the CO2 levels, and they want us to fund their attempt, by destroying our economy.

    In the school of hard knocks, by age-long and laborious experience, natural scientists have learnt the mighty and invaluable lesson that by far and away the best, and often the only, way to find out how a process works, that is to say, what are the causal relations amongst its internal dynamical variables, is to use external drivers of the process as our principal investigative tools. Indeed this is what is usually called ‘the experimental method’, when the investigator can control the external driver.

    The IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” doctrine is a brazen attempt to circumvent this mighty and invaluable lesson. It is an attempt to persuade people that this lesson can be ignored. It is an attempt to persuade people that one can find out how the climate system works by attending only to internal dynamical variables, their so-called “forcings and feedbacks”, as distinct from external driver variables. They want to trick us into thinking that internal “forcings”, such as the radiative energy balance at the tropopause, can take the place of external drivers as investigative tools. How dumb do they think we are?

    Now suddenly Lacis et al. 2010 are pulling an external driver out of the hat, in the form of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and they want us to be amazed at how clever they are!

    The IPCC crowd have sweet-talked many of us into ignoring the need to use external drivers as our principal investigative tools for the understanding of the causal relations amongst the internal dynamical variables, and many of us have let ourselves be so gulled, and have given up trying to work with external drivers as our principal investigative tools.

    But we can still recover, by reverting to the ordinary principles of empirical science, and start again to use external drivers as our principal investigative tools for our investigations of causal efficacy. The day-night cycle is the obvious place to start. Then the sunspot cycle can be used. What is the external driver of the El Niño – La Niña phenomenon? Of the Great Pacific Multidecadal Oscillation? Lacis et al. 2010 want us to believe that anthropogenic CO2 is the only external driver that matters.

    Dr Spencer is right to focus on cause and effect. Our problem can hardly be solved without our using external drivers as our principal investigative tools of the causal relations of the internal dynamical variables. In order to understand the internal dynamics and internally structured cycles of the climate process, there is no practical alternative to using external drivers as our principal investigative tool.

    Christopher Game

  55. Paul says:

    Olav, I have checked the paper that I quoted and see that my post above was not fully accurate. On page 21 the author gives a graph showing the energy absorbed at different heights above the surface, for 100%, 200% and 300% of current CO2 concentrations. I can’t reproduce the chart but the caption reads : –

    Figure 6. This diagram shows the power absorbed by carbon dioxide within a sequence of 10 m thick layers up to a height of 50 metres in the troposphere. The five curves represent the level of absorption for concentrations of CO2 equal to 100%, 200% and 300% of the reported current value of 380 ppm. As can be seen, the magnitude of absorption for the different concentrations are largest close to the ground and the curves cross over at heights between 3 and 4 metres, reflecting the fact that for higher concentrations of CO2, more radiation is absorbed at the lower levels leaving less power for absorption in the upper regions.

    My eye-balling of the chart suggests that most of the radiation is absorbed within the first couple of metres but that there is still some small portion of the radiation being absorbed at 50 metres.

    Regardless, the main idea is unchanged – radiation is not the main method of transport of heat through the troposphere. Doubling or trebling the concentration of CO2 would have almost no effect on the height at which all surface radiation would be absorbed and converted to kinetic energy which is transferred, via collisions, to all the surrounding molecules, not just CO2. The warmed air mass then rises by convection to the top of the troposphere, cooling as it does so under the influence of gravity.

    The other thing to realise is that almost no downward radiation reaches the surface to warm it as that radiation, already diminished to about 1%, is mainly reabsorbed and converted to kinetic energy.

    This being the case, the supposed blanket of CO2 simply does not exist in the troposphere.

    Further more, there are natural processes, in the presence of increased atmospheric CO2, both on land and ocean, that produce more aerosols. These increase the reflectivity and the persistence of the clouds, reducing the amount of incoming solar radiation and cooling the earth.

    All in all, the supposed ‘green house’ effect is totally exaggerated and when seen as a faint signal that is overwhelmed by much greater negative feed-back signals, the entire scare dissipates. QED

    Paul

  56. Andrew says:

    slimething-Yes, he is:

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/07/can-climate-feedbacks-be-diagnosed-from-satellite-data-comments-on-the-murphy-forster-2010-critique-of-spencer-braswell-2008/

    Not to be rude but, in the future, please try and read old blog posts to see if something you are talking about has already been discussed.

    ~Andrew

  57. S. Chaseling says:

    Andrew says:
    October 21, 2010 at 5:00 AM

    slimething-Yes, he is:

    - –
    Not to be rude but, in the future, please try and read old blog posts to see if something you are talking about has already been discussed.

    ~Andrew
    ————————————-

    I was caught out here myself Andrew.
    The MF2010 paper states

    “Spencer and Braswell ‘recently’ showed that in a simple box model for the earth the regression of outgoing radiation” )

    MF2010 should have written SB2008

    Thanks

  58. Bill Illis says:

    I have two comments,

    First the paleo record cannot be used for CO2 sensitivity estimates unless the proper Albedo values are used (as noted above by a few posters).

    Let’s take the most extreme example known about. The highest CO2 estimate we have is 12,000 ppm, 635 Mya, just when the last Snowball Earth episode was starting to break-up (although CO2 was certainly higher in the far distant past). What was the average Earth Temperature 635 Mya? -20C, water vapour levels were extremely low, land glaciers were as much as 5 kms high and sea ice extended to the tropics. Now that is with the highest CO2 estimate on record. Obviously, all that snow and ice had something to do with temperatures being 35C lower than today while in GISS ModelE’s world, the temperature should have been 15C higher than today – the basic proposition is only off by 50C. I don’t know how one would calculate how far off the water vapour proposition is as well.

    Now let’s extend that “off factor” to the Last Glacial Maximum (which is used by Hansen as a semi-verification of the 3.0C per doubling proposition). What Albedo value did he use? Does using an improper Last Glacial Maximum Albedo value produce a situation just like “50C off factor” of the Snowball Earth episode. Most definitely.

    Secondly, the 3.0C per doubling of CO2/GHGs is actually based on GHGs controlling 80% to 90% of the water vapour levels. If CO2/GHGs do not in fact control 85% of the water vapour levels, then the 3.0C per doubling proposition is wrong and GISS ModelE is also wrong.

  59. Reply to “Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:
    October 21, 2010 at 1:46 AM
    And regarding CO2, I think that if ocean water went on warming – even if surface water didn´t – eventually CO2 would be delivered back to the atmosphere, unless a huge amount of CO2 went on being added to the atmosphere from external source.”

    I do not know how much the deeper ocean is warming, but obviously way less than Trenberth was expecting when he said “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

    And where would this heat be coming from if the surface is cooling?

    As for the CO2 connection, I mentioned that because it was the original point of another writer regarding the emission of CO2 by oceans. As long as man burns fossil fuels to a large extent, the ocean will be a huge absorber of CO2 and not the other way around unless there is a huge increase in ocean temperature. Wind and solar power will not make a dent in our energy needs, however if nuclear fusion manages to get going in a decade or two, then human production of CO2 could greatly go down. But in the meantime, there is no need to worry about the amounts of CO2 we put in.

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      Reply to
      Werner Brozek says:
      October 21, 2010 at 7:39 PM
      “.. And where would this heat be coming from if the surface is cooling?”

      It´s a good point. But nature is complex: Sun radiation doesn´t stop at sea surface, evaporation there causes surface cooling … I don´t know. In any case, if I said I had seen some information opposite to yours, it wasn´t from the paper you say, with “Sea surface” in its title. Funny enough, it´s an information from 19 May 2010 too, but referring to a paper that was going to be published following day on Nature, and it informs about the sea upper 610 m., during the 1.5 decade period from 1993 to 2008:
      http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2010-169
      And in connection with CO2, I´m afraid you are too optimistic hoping nuclear fusion energy will be available before a couple of decades. And CO2 action, unfortunately, is a long lasting one…

  60. Richard Hill says:

    An earlier commenter remarked that removal of all CO2 would mean removal of all plants. It would be good to take this a little further. Does GISS model E include the biosphere?.
    If all CO2 was removed from the air, it must also be removed from the oceans. Only a few living things would survive near the deep sea “black smokers”. This means that biogeneration of cloud nuclei would cease. Would this reduce clouds to allow more sun through? Thus heating the earth? Is this loop included in GISS Model E?

  61. Dr Roy Spencer said:
    “In my alternative view, the warming over the last 30 years (or even any centennial time scale temperature change) can be the result of low-frequency oceanic circulation changes that affect either planetary albedo, or average precipitation efficiency (and thus free-tropospheric humidity).”

    It appears that humidity at the tropopause may be affected by solar variation:

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/interesting-correlation-sunspots-vs-specific-humidity/

    If so, then this is a solar factor not hitherto recognised or parameterized in the GCM’s. I would expect that this might alter the claimed sensitivity of the climate to co2 quite substantially, since the Sun’s activity was well above average for a lot of the latter C20th.

  62. Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    Does CO2 Drive the Earth’s Climate System? Comments on the Latest NASA GISS Paper
    October 16th, 2010 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.
    You say:
    “In fact, this is where the authors have made a logical stumble. Everyone agrees that the net effect of clouds is to cool the climate system on average. But the climate models suggest that the cloud feedback response to the addition of CO2 to our current climate system will be just the opposite, with cloud changes acting to amplify the warming”.

    Clouds´ impact on Earth´s climate is among the uncertainties so far. Their effect varies a lot with their type, location, etc.
    Although they reflect back into space a lot of sunlight that hit them, we have to keep in mind that this is important only when sunlight beams hit the Earth on a not too big circular area around the point where they hit perpendicularly, lut us say of a diameter equivalent to 6 or 8 hours, and for the clouds there in that moment… The effect of the rest of the clouds at the day side, yet alone the ones at the night side, is to warm the climate system.
    And if we add more and more CO2 between the clouds and Earth´s surface, clouds all around the Earth, even the ones at noon, are increasing the warming induced below them by CO2 (and other greenhouse effect gases).
    So, where is the logical stumble?

    • RW says:

      “And if we add more and more CO2 between the clouds and Earth´s surface, clouds all around the Earth, even the ones at noon, are increasing the warming induced below them by CO2 (and other greenhouse effect gases).
      So, where is the logical stumble?”

      I think the logical stumble is that clouds, especially low clouds are far better at absorbing/blocking outgoing IR power than CO2, so additional CO2 between the surface and the clouds would matter little because the increased power would be absorbed by the clouds anyway. Also, there tends to be higher water vapor concentrations between the surface and the clouds, which minimizes the net effect of more CO2 because water vapor largely overlaps the CO2 absorbing bands.

      Furthermore, CO2 is the least effective at insulating/blocking IR heat from escaping out to space. This is easily demonstrated by how cold it gets at night in very dry areas with little water vapor or clouds in the atmosphere, such as the desert. Even during the summer, the nights can be very cold – much colder than more moist and/or cloudy areas at the same latitude. The significance of this that where incrementally more CO2 has the highest potential to increase the surface IR power (i.e. dry, cloudless areas) is also where heat most easily and quickly escapes out to space.

  63. KR says:

    Well, if water vapor and clouds are _forcings_, what would cause them to change in directions independent of temperature???

    Perhaps changes in vegetation change evaporation levels. If so, water vapor is a feedback on the vegetation changes.

    Perhaps ocean circulation changes, modifying surface sea temperatures. Well, then water vapor levels are feedbacks there.

    About the only way water vapor could be a forcing was if there was some change in total mass aloft _not_ driven by temperature, and I don’t recall any reports of increased cometary fragments arriving from space, or anything like that…

  64. pochas says:

    KR says:
    October 22, 2010 at 6:00 AM

    “Well, if water vapor and clouds are _forcings_, what would cause them to change in directions independent of temperature??? [snip]….Perhaps ocean circulation changes, modifying surface sea temperatures. ”

    Bingo! That’s a real possibility. Then, assuming a relationship to climate, why the circulation changes?

  65. KR says:

    pochas says:

    “why the circulation changes?”

    Well, if the thermohaline circulation changes (circulation driven by temperature and salinity), that will change the ocean currents and surface temperature distribution. But in order for that to happen, either the ocean temps must change or the amount of fresh water coming into the ocean must change (ice melt changes?). Either way, water vapor and clouds are still going to be a feedback on another temperature driven effect, not _forcings_.

    Some have argued that current warming is due to a bunch of long term ocean cycles all peaking at once – but I haven’t seen reasonable evidence for such long cycles or an explanation of how _that much_ energy could be released by them. As opposed to combined GHG forcings (CO2 and it’s feedbacks), which match the energy required quite well.

    The condensation response of water vapor makes it respond really quickly (days or weeks) by comparison to CO2, methane, ozone, etc. – fast enough that water vapor can’t (IMO) stay off-equilibrium long enough to maintain a temperature change and force the slower reacting “long-lived” greenhouse effects to change.

    If cloud amounts change due to, say, aerosol particulates, cosmic rays (no correlation found, incidentally), or other effects, those are again feedbacks. The current _forcing_ is the large amount of CO2 we’re injecting into the atmosphere – the 40% increase since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

  66. Hello Rafael,
    “Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:
    October 21, 2010 at 10:58 PM”

    Thank you for that. I came across the following web site that shows oceans have cooled at least since 2004. (But it does not show what happened from 1993 to 2004.)
    http://joannenova.com.au/2010/10/is-the-western-climate-establishment-corrupt-part-3/
    As for being optimistic about nuclear fusion, on a display at a physics conference I recently attended, they thought that within 4 years, they would get more energy out of fusion than what is put in. But only time will tell.
    As for “And CO2 action, unfortunately, is a long lasting one…” My understanding is that CO2 lasts about 7 years in the atmosphere. At the moment, some (perhaps 10%) of the additional CO2 in the air goes to increase the photosynthesis rate in plants. So if man were to stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow, the CO2 would start dropping immediately since plants would still be using CO2 at a faster rate with the CO2 at 390 ppm instead of 280 ppm.

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      It´s a pleasure to read reasoned replies, but I´m afraid we can´t agree: we have quite different information.
      a) Fusion energy: To say that a firm hopes to produce net energy within 4 years…This doesn´t mean anythig. According to what I´ve read, at best It would be in an extremely expensive lab. Having in mind all unsolved technical and safety problems, I woud bet it won´t be available for the consumer before the middle of the century.
      b) I´ve always read that, although Nature-produced CO2 used to be reabsorbed within a few years, Nature can´t cope with the huge men-produced amount, and it takes several decades to reabsorb only 50% of it …
      c) Even stopping “tomorrow”, vegetation only would diminish CO2 amount at a low pace. If you were right, in the last decades vegetation woud have thrived, as some people was hoping. But it hasn´t happened. Apparently due to a smaller surface of fertile ground, and huge droughts already induced, arguably, by climate change.
      d) In the other hand, the huge amount of CO2 absorbed by the oceans would slowly go back to the atmosphere…

      As you say, “only time will tell”. But I do hope state of the art instruments installed by NASA in recently launched satellites will tell within only a few years…

  67. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game responding to Dr Spencer’s blog lead article.

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    You write: “It is instead their line of reasoning I object to — what they claim their model results mean in terms of causation– in their obvious attempt to relegate the role of water vapor in the atmosphere to that of a passive component that merely responds to the warming effect of CO2…the real driver (they claim) of the climate system.”

    Though I have written above that the Lacis Schmidt Rind Ruedy 2010 article is pure political propaganda, and I stand by it, that does not mean that CO2 cannot be properly regarded as an external driver of the climate process for some purposes. It means that it is so long-standingly obvious that CO2 can be regarded as an external driver of the climate system for some purposes that Science‘s current publication of an article saying so must surely have only religio-political motivation.

    The problem is that the IPCC crowd has managed to bluff people into behaving as if internal state variables can profitably be treated as if they were external driver variables or structural parameters, and even into speaking as if such was a traditional scientific mode of thought.

    The radiation balance at the tropopause is an internal state variable, neither an external driver nor a structural parameter, as cunningly suggested by the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism.

    For many purposes, in simple models, CO2 can be regarded as so slowly changing that it can be treated as a structural parameter, or quasi-static external driver, of the dynamical structure of the system, not as a dynamical variable described by an ordinary differential equation with time as the independent variable. There are limits on this. CO2 is on a longer time scale to be regarded as a dynamical internal state variable, because it is deposited geologically as calcium and magnesium carbonate, and even on a shorter time scale is removed as a plant nutrient, and it has a well-known seasonal variation. But if it eventually turns out that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are important in comparison with under-sea volcanoes as a source of atmospheric CO2 – I said if – then it will be valid to regard CO2 as an external driver, because in some sense it is under the investigator’s control, if the investigator happens to be, or imagine himself as, some kind of world government.

    So far, we have not seen a globally climate-scale anthropogenic emission or removal of water vapour, and consequently water vapour and clouds cannot be regarded as external drivers of the system. They are subject to rapid internal dynamics of the system, and must be regarded as defining internal state variables of the system. It is sometimes said that clouds are driven by cosmic rays under the influence of the sun’s activity, with a timing that matches that of the sunspot cycle. If that is true, then such cosmic rays are to be regarded as external drivers because they are not subject to feedback from the climate system.

    Dr Spencer, you write of “internally-driven change”. You say that “there are influences on cloud and water vapour other than temperature”. Of course you are right about that. The “temperature” you refer to is apparently the magic unique “climate temperature” of the IPCC formalism, that supposedly mathematically determines the “feedbacks”. In the real world, there are other relevant temperatures, such as the local temperatures produced by variations of ocean currents, that probably mediate the El Niño – La Niña phenomenon. So far as I know, the factors that determine such ocean current variations are unknown at the present time. It is possible perhaps that these ocean-current-determining factors themselves might be governed by some kind of internal cyclic or chaotic dynamic, or perhaps that they might be driven by the same gravitational effects of the motions of Jupiter and Saturn that drive the sunspot cycle, more likely by both internal cyclo-chaotic dynamics and by the external driving of the motion of Jupiter and Saturn. It seems a forlorn task to disentangle such hypothetical cyclo-chaotic dynamics from the external climate-driving effects of the planets until the latter are properly recognized and understood, because the solar and planetary motions, under Newton’s laws, are well known to be deterministically chaotic.

    What of the idea that hurricanes and such-like synoptic scale phenomena could have longer term effects to as to constitute climate-drivers? Are they determined by the butterfly effect of atmospheric dynamics? Powerful and coordinated enough to set up climatic time-scale change? Could such a butterfly effect, the hall-mark of deterministic chaos, really be responsible for climate change? There is no hope of answering this question definitively until the more easily predictable mechanisms and drivers have been sorted out. Not the least hope.

    The climate problem is about longish time-scale processes. In general, it is often the experience of scientists that when both are present, short time-scale processes are easier to understand than long time-scale ones, because the short time-scale cause-and-effect relationships are easier to see. We know the main lines of explanation of the day-night cycle and of the seasonal cycle, but not of the sunspot cycle of climate, and not of the Great Pacific Multidecadal Oscillation. The recent and current weakness of the sunspots has not prevented a relatively warm global year: the timing of the sunspot-cycle climate effect is not as sharp as that of the seasonal cycle.

    You would like to regard water vapour and clouds as “climate drivers”. I think it safer to speak of them in the obvious way as mediators of internal processes – described by internal dynamical variables – , and to reserve the term ‘driver’ for use in the phrase ‘external driver’. To try to think of water vapour and clouds as climate drivers is to fall into the trap set by the IPCC “forcing and feedbacks” formalism, which confuses internal dynamical variables – which they call “forcings” – with external drivers proper, and even with structural parameters, and leads to the cause-and-effect muddles to which you have expertly drawn attention.

    Suddenly Lacis Schmidt Rind Ruedy 2010 have woken up to the obvious, that CO2 is for their purposes better regarded as an external driver, than as a “forcing” which carries the meaning of an internal dynamical variable according to the muddle – which comes as second nature to them – of the IPCC formalism. Anyone who didn’t ever buy the IPCC formalism would regard it as elementarily obvious that CO2 is better regarded as a parameter or external driver than as an internal dynamical variable, for the present climate problem. It’s just that the scales fell from the eyes of our esteemed authors, not that they discovered new science.

    The article of our esteemed authors is just a play on words – indeed just a pun. They set up the straw man that “water vapour is the chief greenhouse gas” with one meaning of ‘chief’ in mind, and then say “Oh, we have a new definition of ‘chief’; aren’t we clever!” When I was a small boy there was a two-shilling fine for making puns. Today, the Editor of Science publishes them.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  68. Paul says:

    If you want to understand the effect of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide then you must read this paper : –

    John Nicol, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Physics, James Cook University, Australia, states in his paper Climate Change (A Fundamental Analysis of the Greenhouse Effect),

    http://www.middlebury.net/nicol-08.doc

    The 22 pages of closely argued, mathematical and physical analysis of how energy is transmitted from the surface through the atmosphere, answers all questions and demonstrates that : –

    1) Water vapour and clouds dominate the troposphere’s ability to absorb outgoing long-wave radiation, with the amount of water vapour decreasing with altitude. Most absorption occurs in the first few meters of atmosphere above the surface.

    2) 99% of the absorbed photons are not re-emitted, due to collisions with other molecules and the consequent sharing of the energy, effectively converting all LWR into kinetic energy is a very short space and time.

    3) Convection is the predominant method of transferring heat through the troposphere.

    4) Radiation transmits the energy above the troposphere, with ever widening radiation windows with altitude.

    5) The back-radiation from the atmosphere to the surface is both fixed and minimal for any level of atmospheric CO2 and other photon-absorbing gases.

    There just isn’t any wriggle-room for CAGW left after this!

    Paul

    • Bob Dillon says:

      Dr. John Nicol’s explanation of wavelength energies is the best refutation of C02/surface temperature correlation I have encountered… Bob Dillon, M.D., Atlanta

      Roy: Was at the Chicago Heartland conference in May. I read all the literature and blogs. Dr. Nicol’s article should be referred to more: download the .doc document from http://www.middlebury.net/nicol-08.doc

      See my website: solarvariationdeterminesclimatechange.wordpress.com/

  69. RW says:

    Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:
    October 22, 2010 at 2:22 AM

    “And if we add more and more CO2 between the clouds and Earth´s surface, clouds all around the Earth, even the ones at noon, are increasing the warming induced below them by CO2 (and other greenhouse effect gases).
    So, where is the logical stumble?”

    I think the logical stumble is that clouds, especially low clouds are far better at absorbing/blocking outgoing IR power than CO2, so additional CO2 between the surface and the clouds would matter little because the increased power would be absorbed by the clouds anyway. Also, there tends to be higher water vapor concentrations between the surface and the clouds, which minimizes the net effect of more CO2 because water vapor largely overlaps the CO2 absorbing bands.

    Furthermore, CO2 is the least effective at insulating/blocking IR heat from escaping out to space. This is easily demonstrated by how cold it gets at night in very dry areas with little water vapor or clouds in the atmosphere, such as the desert. Even during the summer, the nights can be very cold – much colder than more moist and/or cloudy areas at the same latitude. The significance of this that where incrementally more CO2 has the highest potential to increase the surface IR power (i.e. dry, cloudless areas) is also where heat most easily and quickly escapes out to space.

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      RW says:
      October 23, 2010 at 8:11 AM

      “I think the logical stumble is that clouds, especially low clouds are far better at absorbing/blocking outgoing IR power than CO2, so additional CO2 between the surface and the clouds would matter little because the increased power would be absorbed by the clouds anyway”

      I see your point, and must confess did not realize it when reading what quoted from Dr. Spencer paper.
      Thinking more over it, I find it much more complex than it seems.
      CO2 initially absorbes IR radiation from surfaces hit by sunlight. This primary radiation warms CO2 molecules, that subsequently warm surrounding air, and this produces a secondary IR radiation, in all directions, not of the same frequency necessarily. This radiation hits the ground and rest of air there, and the same happens again and again.
      This greenhouse effect is reinforced by the presence of steam vapour, as long as vapour can capture, in second or later “rounds”, energy not initially captured.
      As you say, if we consider, together with the CO2, clouds instead of vapour, as they work more uniformely over the IR radiation frequency range, the bottom line won´t differ much from when without CO2, especially if low clouds…
      It could change for another reason though. As clouds can move rapidly, having in mind that what depicted above means kind of delay of the cooling process, it would happen a certain slide between IR radiation emission pattern and clouds´scenario…But the average shouldn´t change much.
      (sorry my language difficulties describing how I see such complex fenomena).

  70. Invariant says:

    Does CO2 Drive the Earth’s Climate System? We do not know and may never know if it possible to know. It’s like waiting for Godot.

    The most normal thing to do is to fall in love with your own simulation model. This is perfectly understandable of course; you work for so long with your baby equations and the numerical implementation that any objections to your beautiful forecasts become insulting.

    Sometimes numerical simulations are useful, for example when they landed on the moon the first time, they accurately predicted the trajectory of the landing vehicle. However, for simulations to be useful, the model must first be validated, no nuclear engineer would trust reactor simulations that sometimes fail.

    Simulations models are validated when they are able to predict future or unknown empirical observations over and over again. This is not the same as the idea that it is only possible to falsify a theory which is untrue – simulation models that agree reasonably well with the real world are validated, if this happen sufficiently many times.

    The tricky issue is to decide how many simulations that must agree with experiments to decide that we have a valid simulation model. I would say a couple of hundred or thousand simulations would be required. Note, this is with unknown or future data to which the simulation model is not calibrated.

    Most of the thermal mass is in the oceans, the question is then, for how many years would we require that a climate simulation should predict reasonably well the ocean heat content for the model to be validated? Take a close look at this curve:

    http://www.climate4you.com/SeaTemperatures.htm#Sea%20surface%20temperatures

    We note that the characteristic time constant for temperature oscillations in the oceans is something like 5 or 10 years, each bump in the curve lasts for about 5 years before the next bump appears. Let us then imagine that we would require 200 predictions to become true before the model is validated. This would mean that we would have to wait at least 1000 years before we can validate a climate model – yes the thermal transients in the oceans are that slow.

    For the simulation engineer this is not easy to realize – the improvements, the modifications, the software quality and the simulation results have become an obsession. Yes it is perfectly normal to become blinded by your own simulation model. In academia this can go on forever, a professor can improve a useless and erroneous simulation model his entire life. However, in a professional commercial company this cannot happen easily and it is common to require that simulation models are validated.

    I think you have figured out what I mean.

  71. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Paul’s post of October 23, 2010 at 3:20 AM.

    Dear Paul,

    You write: “5) The back-radiation from the atmosphere to the surface is both fixed and minimal for any level of atmospheric CO2 and other photon-absorbing gases.”

    This is not right. The back-radiation from the atmosphere to the land-sea body is not ‘minimal’ in the sense in which you seem to mean. I interpret your ‘minimal’ to mean ‘very small in amount’.

    Perhaps you have been misled by the way of speaking that you use when you say: “2) 99% of the absorbed photons are not re-emitted, due to collisions with other molecules and the consequent sharing of the energy, effectively converting all LWR into kinetic energy is a very short space and time.”

    Photons are not conserved particles, and to speak of them as being “re-emitted” is to speak misleadingly. In strict thermodynamic equilibrium, in for example a laboratory experiment with thermostats and other devices, the principle of detailed balance holds. The collisional processes that de-excite photo-excited CO2 molecules are just balanced by the reverse processes which re-excite the CO2 molecules. The lowest atmosphere is not in strict thermodynamic equilibrium, but each small parcel of it is in what is known as local thermodynamic equilibrium with respect to radiation, as defined and clarified by Milne in 1928. It is safer to think in these terms than to think in terms of “re-emission” of photons.

    At night, there is often in the lowest tens or hundreds of meters of the atmosphere a ‘temperature inversion’, in which the land-sea body and lowest tens or couple of hundreds of meters of the atmosphere are cooler than the few tens or hundreds of meters of atmosphere just above. Then the amount of back-radiation that reaches the land-sea body from the lower atmosphere is greater than the moiety of the radiation that enters the lowest atmosphere from the interface between the land-sea body and the atmosphere that is then absorbed by the lowest atmosphere (the absorption of which you write above). During the day, usually the opposite is the case. But either way, the amount of back radiation that reaches the land-sea body is not far from the interface-departing atmosphere-absorbed amount. This is possible because the temperatures of these lowest few hundred meters are not far apart. This is empirical fact.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  72. pochas says:

    KR says:
    October 22, 2010 at 8:38 AM

    “The current _forcing_ is the large amount of CO2 we’re injecting into the atmosphere – the 40% increase since the beginning of the industrial revolution.”

    It is written.

    However some are inclined to question whether these model predictions can be verified or whether perhaps some other influences need to be considered. This continuing process of considering Model E as scripture and inventing stories to support its increasingly doubtful claims is the real cause for alarm.

    But I am an optimist.

  73. RW says:

    Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:
    October 24, 2010 at 2:28 AM

    “Thinking more over it, I find it much more complex than it seems. CO2 initially absorbes IR radiation from surfaces hit by sunlight. This primary radiation warms CO2 molecules, that subsequently warm surrounding air, and this produces a secondary IR radiation, in all directions, not of the same frequency necessarily. This radiation hits the ground and rest of air there, and the same happens again and again.
    This greenhouse effect is reinforced by the presence of steam vapour, as long as vapour can capture, in second or later “rounds”, energy not initially captured.”

    I’m not sure if this is correct or not. I think GHGs are operating primarily as “buffer” to outgoing LW through collisions that cause a thermal expansion of air, which results in IR heat being directed out in all directions – about half of it directed back toward the surface, the other half out to space. This results in the surface being warmer than it would be without GHGs. The warmer surface air is then transported primarily via convection to the upper atmosphere where it ultimately is radiated out to space.

    Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:
    October 24, 2010 at 2:28 AM

    “As you say, if we consider, together with the CO2, clouds instead of vapour, as they work more uniformely over the IR radiation frequency range, the bottom line won´t differ much from when without CO2, especially if low clouds…”

    I think perhaps the general misconception is that incrementally more CO2 in the atmosphere will increase the net surface power equally everywhere. I think that is likely wrong due to the potential of clouds and water vapor IR overlap to in effect “mask” the effects of increased CO2 because the increased surface power would be absorbed by the clouds and water vapor anyway.

    Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:
    October 24, 2010 at 2:28 AM

    “It could change for another reason though. As clouds can move rapidly, having in mind that what depicted above means kind of delay of the cooling process, it would happen a certain slide between IR radiation emission pattern and clouds´scenario…But the average shouldn´t change much.”

    I wouldn’t think so either. I think that water vapor and clouds are dominating the whole greenhouse effect with CO2 and other greenhouse gases being only very minor players. In addition, incrementally more CO2 has such a small effect on its own – the CO2 absorbing bands around 15u are already saturated, which means that virtually all the outgoing LW there is already being captured. The greatest effect then from increasing CO2 would be to slightly widen the band and shorten the distance from the surface where complete absorption occurs. It seems to me that this small distance shortening could easily be wiped out or nullified by convection.

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      RW says:
      October 24, 2010 at 9:18 AM:

      “I think GHGs are operating primarily as “buffer” to outgoing LW through collisions that cause a thermal expansion of air, which results in IR heat being directed out in all directions – about half of it directed back toward the surface, the other half out to space. This results in the surface being warmer than it would be without GHGs. The warmer surface air is then transported primarily via convection to the upper atmosphere where it ultimately is radiated out to space.”
      “…collisions that cause a thermal expansion of air, which results in IR heat being directed out in all directions”: I find this rather confusing. Those initial and subsequent collisions are, as far as I know, what is called Brownian movement: the share essence of heat in fluids. And it simultaneously produces both IR radiation and air expansion.
      In the other hand, the heat primarily produced in the surface by the not reflected sunlight radiation doesn´t differ from the subsequently received from GHGs and surrounding air as IR. Both, together with the previously existing in the surface –and rest of material underneath, intervening here conduction– and cooling due to convection and wind –if any– will result in a surface temperature that will continuosly be emiting IR –its frequency linked to its temperature- and receiving new energy again and again from not too far GHGs and warmed air. The “buffer” mentioned by you could be called “polycyclical”. And GHG molecules can affect both upward and downward radiation in any of the cycles –actually even rather horizontal radiation can be affected.
      I see it as kind of multilayer IR filter, new IR beeing produced at each layer, not of the same frequency necessarily. That´s why I say water vapour reinforces CO2 greenhouse effect, and viceversa. Perhaps slightly, but we shouldn´t forget it works “twenty-four-seven”.
      RW says: “..The warmer surface air is then transported primarily via convection to the upper atmosphere where it ultimately is radiated out to space.”
      I´ve frequently seen this approach of skeptics. It comes in handy for dismissing global warming. But I think very seldom energy reaches space so easily. At any moment expanded air – due to added heat – can initiate convection. But most of it mixes with more air when ascending, interchanging heat. And it could take long time some of that air to reach really upper atmosphere to freely radiate out to space. And when reached there will be very little heat left.
      Only in very still atmosphere condition warm air can reach upper atmosphere so esily. But f.e., over oceans -3/4 of Earth´s surface- normally atmosphere isn´t still at all.

  74. Jim Macdonald says:

    The effect of clouds should not be underestimated. In electricity we know what short-circuit means. Well, clouds effectively short-circuit the effects of all the greenhouse gases, by reflecting sunlight back to space before it strikes the earth and can be acted on by those gases. We know from experience that the effect of a solid overcast is to prevent almost any warming during the day and any cooling at night. Temperatures remain fairly steady. Try to get that much effect from CO2.
    The question is: What can cause global average cloud amounts to vary? It has been suggested by Roy Spencer that the Pacific 30 year Decadal Oscillation (PDO) changes weather patterns which in turn causes variations in cloud amounts. Others have suggested that different types of solar flares can effect the upper atmosphere and cloud amounts. It is estimated that a 1-2% change in cloud amounts can account for all the warming and cooling in the past 100 years.

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      Jim Macdonald says:
      October 24, 2010 at 10:40 AM
      Nobody underestimates the effect of clouds. But the average aggregated extension of them is fearly constant, mainly linked to mean temperature. With oscillations that, either they were linked to the Sun cycles or to the Pacific 30 year Decadal Oscillation, can´t explain a basically continuous increase of mean temperatures in the last 1.5 century – although with natural oscillations.
      And to speak about the effect of a solid overcast, in a day and place, in comparation to the one of CO2…Watch out! It´s a bizarre analogy, but: was the much stronger who won in Vietnam?

  75. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    Hello Roy!

    This is OT but I have devised a method to check for “back radiation” which you have tried to detect.

    For this experiment you need a cold and a hot mirror which you buy from Edmounds Optical. Warning: these little mirrors are not cheap. A cold mirror reflects visble light and transmit IR. A hot mirror reflects IR and transmits visible light.

    For the first measurement at night, you place the hot mirror over viewer of the IR thermometer (IRT) which is covered with black paper. Since is no visble light, the IRT should show that black paper is at ambient temperature which you can measure with a digital therometer.

    For the second mesurement you place the cold mirror over the viewer. If there is any significant IR coming thru the mirror, the temperature of the black paper should increase. If there is little or no IR, the temperature should be the same as when the hot mirror is in place.

    You can run the experiment on a clear night and a cloudy night. The cloudy night should show more “back radiation” coming down from them. The IRT should be shielded from air currents.

    You can use a small cartridge heater as source of IR, the amount of which you can control with a varible transformer.

    You might ask a physicist who does optical studies if he has these mirrors.

  76. Mike Blackadder says:

    Christopher Game,

    In response to Paul’s comment about 99% of absorbed photons being converted into kinetic energy you said: “The collisional processes that de-excite photo-excited CO2 molecules are just balanced by the reverse processes which re-excite the CO2 molecules.”

    I think that you might be mistaken. The transport of heat from the surface through the troposphere is largely accomplished through net absorption of radiation from the surface and convection. In other words, absorbed photons get converted into kinetic energy (ie. warming of the surrounding air) and is transported away to the surface to be replaced by cooler air.

    Balance of CO2 excitation during collisional processes would only occur if the atmosphere and surface were in thermal equilibrium. On average this is not the case. The net interaction between the surface and atmosphere is that heat is transferred from a warmer surface to a cooler atmosphere.

  77. Mike Blackadder says:

    Rafael,

    You’re being very sloppy in dismissing natural causes of climate variation.

    The simple explanation for warming over the past 150 years is that it was particularly cold 150 years ago. Moreover, variation in temperature over the past 100 years has not been at all continuous, but rather seems to follow the cycle of PDO to a significant degree (not that this is itself proof that this is the dominant forcing mechanism).

    In fact, you seem to dismiss the great effort that the IPCC has devoted in trying to account for the non-”continuous increase in mean temperatures in the last 1.5 century”. A particularly difficult task when already committed to the idea that natural variation can not possibly be the explanation.

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      (To Mike Blackadder,
      October 24, 2010 at 7:08 PM)
      It´s quite compatible a “basically” continuous medium/long(?) term tendency with short (a few decades) term oscillations.
      I´m not dismissing natural causes. But the known – or imagined – ones work in relatively short cycles.
      And regarding what you say about IPCC, I personally think they, rather naively, tried to match their model results and real data as much as possible, trying to be more convincing. But this is absurd. Natural oscillations can mask any “alleged” long term men influence during even more than 1 or 2 decades… We are dealing with changes of app. 1/100 degree per year!

  78. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Mike Blackadder’s post of October 24, 2010 at 6:39 PM.

    Dear Mike Blackadder,

    Thank you for your comment. About my post of October 23, 2010 at 12:56 PM, you write: “In response to Paul’s comment about 99% of absorbed photons being converted into kinetic energy you said: “The collisional processes that de-excite photo-excited CO2 molecules are just balanced by the reverse processes which re-excite the CO2 molecules.”

    I think that you might be mistaken.”

    Christopher wrote: “In strict thermodynamic equilibrium, in for example a laboratory experiment with thermostats and other devices, the principle of detailed balance holds. The collisional processes that de-excite photo-excited CO2 molecules are just balanced by the reverse processes which re-excite the CO2 molecules. The lowest atmosphere is not in strict thermodynamic equilibrium …”

    I don’t think I am mistaken in that.

    You write: “The transport of heat from the surface through the troposphere is largely accomplished through net absorption of radiation from the surface and convection. In other words, absorbed photons get converted into kinetic energy (ie. warming of the surrounding air) and is transported away to the surface to be replaced by cooler air.”

    Respectfully, I have to say that you are largely mistaken there. It is true at times that some transport of energy from the land-sea body through the troposphere is accomplished through net absorption of radiation from the surface and convection, but it is great exaggeration to say that it is “largely” so. You can check this for your self by reading textbooks and literature, that say that non-radiative (conduction and evaporation) energy transport from the land-sea body to the atmosphere is on global average on the order of 100 W m^-2. There are various opinions about how much net energy transport from land-sea body to atmosphere there is by radiative exchange between them, and how much radiation leaves the land-sea body/atmosphere interface to pass directly through the atmosphere (so-called ‘window radiation’).

    Kiehl and Trenberth 1997 seem to think that the radiative exchange between land-sea body and atmosphere on global average is on the order of (350 – 324) = 26 W m^-2 from land-sea body to atmosphere, but they note that they do not take into account the emissivity and reflectivity factors; when those are taken into account, their figures indicate somewhere about 16 W m^-2. They make only an “ad hoc” or “residual” estimate of the ‘window radiation’, but let us say they put it perhaps at 40 W m^-2. The figure 16 W m^-2 in a total of 235 W m^-2 of outgoing long wave radiation; or of (100 + 16 + 40) = 156 W m^-2 is not much more than 10%. You seem to be saying that 10% is “largely”; that’s not what I understand by ‘largely’. Perhaps you have other energy transport budgets in mind?

    Personally, evidence that I have seen and alluded to in my blog post puts the empirical figure at much less than 10%. In my post of October 23, 2010 at 12:56 PM, on which you are commenting, I wrote: “At night, there is often in the lowest tens or hundreds of meters of the atmosphere a ‘temperature inversion’, in which the land-sea body and lowest tens or couple of hundreds of meters of the atmosphere are cooler than the few tens or hundreds of meters of atmosphere just above. Then the amount of back-radiation that reaches the land-sea body from the lower atmosphere is greater than the moiety of the radiation that enters the lowest atmosphere from the interface between the land-sea body and the atmosphere that is then absorbed by the lowest atmosphere (the absorption of which you write above). During the day, usually the opposite is the case. But either way, the amount of back radiation that reaches the land-sea body is not far from the interface-departing atmosphere-absorbed amount. This is possible because the temperatures of these lowest few hundred meters are not far apart. This is empirical fact.” As Paul notes, it all happens in the lowest few meters or few hundreds of meters. It’s just that Paul’s informant seems to forget the large amount of back-radiation. You can check this for yourself in a textbook of meteorology with special emphasis on the atmospheric boundary layer and on the stable boundary layer that usually forms at night. Roland B. Stull’s An Introduction to Boundary Layer Meteorology, 1988, reprinted 2009, Springer, ISBN 9789027727695, gives a good account.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher

  79. Massimo PORZIO says:

    Dear Christopher Game,

    I’m on your side about the low impact of kinetic energy transport attributed by the current literature.
    I would like to know your opinion about this link:

    http://windowoutdoors.com/WindowOutdoors/Staying%20Warm%20-%20Interesting%20Observations%20on%20Heat%20Loss.htm

    The writer is John C. Walton, Ph.D., P.E. from the University of Texas at El Paso.

    There is the first graph which intrigues me.
    If you take a look at that graph about the heat loss to the environment (I read atmosphere here), it seems sufficient a little 1.8km/h breeze to make the convection contribute almost the same of the radiative one. From the same graph, a 30km/h wind seems relegate the radiation to a tiny 10% of the total heat extraction.
    Since the Dr. Walton’s work seems based on real measurements about technical clothes, I’m really in trouble conjugating his work with others like the Kiehl and Trenberth one, because I always imagined a very dynamic atmosphere.
    My question is: are the “no windy areas” so large around the globe?
    I can only imagine numerous and wide “no windy areas” to justify the current literature position about the convectional heat transportation.
    I’m not a scientist, maybe I missed some important detail here, I would like to know your opinion about it.

    Massimo

  80. Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    Dr. Spencer says (at the top of this blog web page):
    “Meanwhile, See Surface Temperatures Continue to Fall”
    On a similar page, but of somebody of “the other side”, most likely we would read:
    “Meanwhile,…

    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/images/map-blended-mntp-201001-201009.png

    And this after a winter with huge amounts of snow in parts of our “western world”…
    I´m not suggesting this proves men-induced warming. But most probably is the result of a conjunction of it and other natural causes, that sometimes can mask the “alleged” men-induced warming, and other times can increase it and give quite unexpected results.
    I repeat what I said in previous replies: Natural oscillations shouldn´t be used to deny a possible anthropogenic global warming.

  81. BJL says:

    Dr Spencer or other pros out there- Why do we not track temperature as a function of atmospheric pressure? It seems to me that the physics behind very strong high ridges of pressure should be accounted for when looking at temperature or at least temperature anomalies.

  82. Spector says:

    It has occurred to me that the H2O condensation process may be a significant pathway for the radiation of convected thermal energy to outer space. As condensation of H2O is due to the electrical attraction of the oxygen end of one H2O molecule to one of the hydrogen atoms of another, it seems to me that this process should cause the emission of a photon as a result of the reduced net energy of the bound molecules.

    On the basis of the H2O heat of condensation, I have calculated that the energy released per intermolecular hydrogen-oxygen bound pair should be equivalent to that of a 5.13 micron photon.

    I am curious to know if this molecular bonding radiation does in fact occur and if it has been observed and if it has been observed from outer space.

  83. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Massimo

  84. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Massimo PORZIO’s post of October 25, 2010 at 1:09 AM.

    Dear Massimo PORZIO,

    I did not know I had an opinion about the “the low impact of kinetic energy transport attributed by the current literature” or about “the current literature position about the convectional heat transportation”. You are asking my opinion about things I know nothing about.

    The nights are mostly “no windy times”. During the day the atmospheric boundary layer, the lowest 2 km or so, is often turbulently windy in most places. I am not familiar with any “no windy areas”. The winds at higher altitudes in the troposphere are much less turbulent.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

    • Massimo PORZIO says:

      Dear Christopher Game,
      you wrote:
      “The nights are mostly “no windy times”. During the day the atmospheric boundary layer, the lowest 2 km or so, is often turbulently windy in most places. I am not familiar with any “no windy areas”. The winds at higher altitudes in the troposphere are much less turbulent.”
      I fully agree.
      For this reason it seems to me that most of the the land/sea body heat loss should be due to convection not radiation during the daytime. Only by night time the radiative exchange seems to me predominant. By my point of view, only the TMin should be heavily affected by GHGs while TMax should be slightly affected because of the predominant daytime convection.

  85. Aimo Niemi says:

    We do’nt need to go to Mars to test our theories about global warming. We could test them in a real (garden) greenhouse on the earth, instead.

  86. Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    Firstly, please kindly read “the sheer essence” when I wrote – in previous reply- “the share essence” (¡!)
    And now, as both RW and myself have been dealing with the essence of the GHGs initial effect – we do agree about it, although with some differencies about what subsequently happens – I´m going to include here something new I was preparing that is directly connected to it:

    THE IMPORTANCE OF BEEING EARNEST

    Dr. Spencer jokes (at the bottom of this blog web page):
    “Yes, Virginia, Cooler Objects Can Make Warmer Objects Even Warmer Still”.
    From time to time I see skeptics´s claims arguing that this is completely absurd, and they ridicule IPCC and their “fans” … Watch out: Ridiculous could backfire:
    If we have only a warm object, it produces IR radiation at a rate proportional to its temperature (actually to its fourth power, but expresed in ºK …) and it will get cooler at a certain speed. Let us leave it getting cooler for an hour. If, starting again with the same object at the same initial temperature, we approach another colder object, this will also produce radiation, at a lower rate though. Part of this radiation will reach the first object, and its energy will be absorbed as heat. Nobody says that the temperature of the first object at that moment will increase. But in the first object, although emiting more radiation than the colder one, as it´s receiving additional heat, the cooling speed will diminish.
    And if we keep them so for an hour too, surprise surprise, the final temperature of the warmer object will have increased … in relation to its temperature after an hour when it was alone. And its mean temperature too. All this due to the presence of the colder object (unless it were at 0º K).
    So, perhaps it´s not the clearest way to tell the story, but, strange it might seem, the colder object warms the hotter one. Needless to say, the hotter one warms the colder one too, and more.

  87. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid’s post of October 26, 2010 at 4:27 AM.

    Dear Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid,

    You write: “So, perhaps it´s not the clearest way to tell the story, but, strange it might seem, the colder object warms the hotter one. Needless to say, the hotter one warms the colder one too, and more.”

    Is this an example of amplification by positive feedback, as you would define the words?

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      I´m not a scientist, but what called in Spain “Ingeniero Superior” (Naval Architecture and M. Engineering industries), and not familiarized with your terms.
      But, in my opinion they would be quite correct for the effect of the GHGs in the real case, but not completely in my simpler example. I introduce a second object – altough colder, with additional heat. At least initially it´s not a feedback: the second object starts to warm the other with radiation coming from heat previously existing in it.
      But afterwards, as radiation from the hotter one also warms the other, this second one will contain heat supplied by two different sources:external (previously existing in it, external to the initial situation), and energy already received by means of radiation from the hotter one.
      But both energies mix inside the second object, which emits IR radiation “ignoring” their origin. So we could say there´s an amplification partially by positive feedback.
      In the real case the GHGs have also some initial energy – heat -, but per unit of volume and at normal temperatures it´s negligible compared with my example (a solid object such us a stone, metal…), and almost 100% of its radiation, if not too far from the hot surface, would be due to received energy: a feedback.
      Hope my not native English hasn´t complicated “my story”.

  88. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Massimo PORZIO’s post of October 26, 2010 at 12:12 AM.

    Dear Massimo PORZIO,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I am looking at Figures 9.9, 9.10, 9.11, 9.12, on pages 386-387 of Atmospheric Science. An Introductory Survey, J.M. Wallace and P.V. Hobbs, 2nd edition, Elsevier, 2006. This is in a Chapter written by Roland Stull. See also Meteorology for Scientists and Engineers, ISBN 9780534372149, by Stull.

    One could try to compare the day and night values of the net energy going up from the land-sea surface. The figure does not actually put a number on that, but one might guess that more energy will go up during the day because the land-sea surface is hotter during the day, because the sun shines during the day.

    Figure 9.11 emphasizes that the partition of energy transfers depends very much on the day/night cycle and on the nature of the local land-sea body.

    According to this figure, panel (a), in agreement with you, over a moist vegetated surface, during the day, much of the energy going up takes the (evaporative + conductive)-convective path, but I would say that also a significant amount of it will go through the atmospheric window as radiation direct to space. Even a smaller net amount will go by radiative exchange up from land-sea body to atmosphere, because the wind will keep the land-sea surface not much hotter than the overlying lowest atmosphere.

    According also to this figure, panel (b), at night over the same surface, the (evaporative + conductive)-convective path will actually carry net energy down from atmosphere to land-sea body, and the only upward cooling of the surface will be by radiation. Moreover, I would say, if there is a nocturnal inversion, as there often is, the net atmosphere/land-sea-body radiative exchange will also be moving heat downwards, from atmosphere to land-sea body. The only net upwards radiative cooling path for the surface will then be by radiation through the atmospheric window. Even so, the land-sea surface can often enough become cooler than the overlying lowest altitude air, and one can even find ice on the surfaces of little puddles, because the sun does not shine at night.

    The effect, on the circadian temperature cycle, that might be seen in long-term climatic changes due to changes in greenhouse gases is another matter, on which I do not speculate here.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  89. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid’s post of October 26, 2010 at 2:07 PM.

    Dear Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid,

    Thank you for your careful and thoughtful reply to my question: “Is this an example of amplification by positive feedback, as you would define the words?”

    You reply: “I´m … not familiarized with your terms.”

    I did not intend to use my terms. I was asking about your terms, when I wrote “as you would define the words”. I do not use my terms here, and so my terms are not relevant to my question.

    You write: “But, in my opinion they would be quite correct for the effect of the GHGs in the real case, but not completely in my simpler example.” and further you write: “In the real case the GHGs have also some initial energy – heat -, but per unit of volume and at normal temperatures it´s negligible compared with my example (a solid object such us a stone, metal…), and almost 100% of its radiation, if not too far from the hot surface, would be due to received energy: a feedback.”

    As I understand you here, you are saying that your simpler example, of a hot auxiliary body being put near a hotter principal body, is, in your terms, only partly an example of amplification by positive feedback because in this case the auxiliary body has “some initial energy – heat”.

    But, as I understand you here, you are saying that in the case when the auxiliary body is the greenhouse gases and the earth is the principal body, we have, in your terms, a full true example of amplification by positive feedback because in this case the auxiliary body has negligible energy, but that otherwise the two cases are analogous.

    Have I understood precisely and unambiguously what you mean?

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      With your good English I find your explanation much better than mine, and it´s exactly as I see those phenomena.
      Only “amplification” could mislead somebody, and produce “jokes” like the one I referred to -by the way, it´s already been withdrawn: people in charge of the web page must have seen my point too.
      More than an “amplification” there is a decrease in the cooling…But we all know that “–=+”.
      The analogy of the blanket is not bad. But a blanket consisting in a huge amount of very thin semitransparent layers. IR radiation from the earth “tries” to get through it. The higher density of GHG molecules in each layer, the lesser likelihood any given IR beam has to get through. And “not successful” beams turn into heat and subsequently (for me “almost” simultaneously) heat produces new IR radiation, going part of it back to earth surface (feedback).
      The diference from the normal blanket is that this one stops 100% of IR radiation, 100% of convection, and most of conduction – new in the scenario. And in this analogy the energy feedback is both by means of conduction and IR radiation (a blanket in contact with our body should be considered emiting IR radiation in a very short distance scenario). But the bottom line is quite similar: we can sleep warmer.

  90. pochas says:

    Roy,

    I calculate a greenhouse-only surface temperature of 126 ºC and a sensitivity of
    0.121 ºC/(W/m^2) based on a St/Su ratio of 1/6 (Miskolczi, 2007). If you are interested, see my comment at WUWT.

    Regards,

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/25/sensitivity-training-determining-the-correct-climate-sensitivity/#comment-516753

  91. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid’s post of October 27, 2010 at 12:10 AM.

    Dear Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid,

    Thank you for your reply.

    I have to say that your comments about the “jokes” pass right over the top of my head; I have no idea what you are referring to there.

    My interest here is in the usage of the word “amplification”. I am interested in how the usage of the word might affect the impression got by a reader of the word in the context, and whether the word is scientifically appropriate, or what might be its precise scientific meaning. I agree with you when say that it “could mislead somebody”. I would say, close to what you say, that there can be a decrease in the rate of cooling. I am getting the impression now that you would prefer not to use the word “amplification” for this situation?

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      Reply to: Christopher Game
      October 27, 2010 at 12:57 AM

      At the bottom of this page there was a link to a dummy story – entitled as included in my initial “speech” of this series, after “The importance of beeing earnest” -, that I hadn´t opened, believe or not. I´m not fond of dummy stories, and didn´t want to follow a wrong and “misleading” path.
      When at bed I thought I should open it, just to see if what shown could help or make more difficult understanding my example. But early this morning it had already been withdrawn…
      The word “amplification” could always mislead somebody if we don´t specify amplification OF WHAT… For me, as simple as that.
      As I not clearly said before, I´m not familiarized with the use of those words. I suppose that “Amplification by positive feedback” can be found in many scientific texts. But unless you thorougly know the matter beeing dealt with, one could got mislead.
      And as this ussue is beeing discussed by not always expert people -me included-, I do prefer not to use it.
      Could we say “Amplification of Earth´s surface thermal energy mean level by positive feedback?” It´s far too long.

  92. Bryan says:

    THE IMPORTANCE OF BEEING EARNEST

    Dr. Spencer jokes (at the bottom of this blog web page):
    “Yes, Virginia, Cooler Objects Can Make Warmer Objects Even Warmer Still”.

    A cold object brought near a warmer object can also speed up the rate at which the warmer object cools.

    This in fact was the historical basis of the explanation of the “radiation of cold” proposition.

    Google “Pictets Experiment.”

    Two parabolic reflectors face each other say 4 metres apart.
    At the focus of one reflector a hot source plus a flux detector.

    After thermal equilibrium had been established a colder object was placed at the focus of the second reflector.

    It was then observed that the hotter source was loosing heat at an increased rate.

    Prevosts theory of exchanges (1792) explained exactly what happened when a cold object is brought near another at a higher temperature.
    There is a dynamic exchange of photons between the objects resulting in the colder getting warmer and the warmer getting colder.
    At all times the heat moves from the hotter to the colder until equilibrium when there is no heat exchange even though now equal numbers of photons are exchanged between the bodies.

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      Thank you for your information.
      Let me go more quitely through the paper. I´m not native and it´s not so easy for me.
      But I´ve already seen some details that could mean that we can´t aply resuts of experiments in a room, changing the “geometry” of the radiation path with additional objects, to the real case in the open air and with only two objects.

    • Massimo PORZIO says:

      Pictet stopped the environment radiation which passed through the “cold” focus with a colder body (the snow) this doesn’t disprove the Dr. Spancer’s “joke” about the two plates. If the two parabolic mirrors were faced in the outer space, so that the “cold” paraboloid “looks the sideral space” (abt 4°K), when the “snow” (water at 0°C) is placed in the “cold focus” you get the “hot focus” warmer indeed.

      Massimo

      • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

        Massimo PORZIO says:
        October 27, 2010 at 9:58 AM
        “…this doesn’t disprove the Dr. Spancer’s “joke” about the two plates. If the two parabolic mirrors were faced in the outer space … you get the “hot focus” warmer indeed.
        I´m afraid some of you haven´t understood the issue. I´m referring now not to its phisical core, but to the sheer existence of such a link and dummies at the bottom of tha page.
        Please kindly see what I replied to Mr. Bryan (October 28, 2010 at 09:54 AM).
        He previously had said: “…Even then, it is an unsatisfactory statement, since it heavily implies that the warmer plates temperature actually increases, which of course it does not.”
        And I replied:
        “For me what is important of the statement is not what you mention, but:
        -It “used to be” said, along with the linked dummy story, with the intention of ridiculing anthropogenic global warming believers. And comparing what said with reallity is useless: the authors said what supposed to have been said by IPCC, and they thought it was completely wrong…
        And IT´S NOT – apart from the end “Even Warmer Still”, that as I said first thing in the morning:
        “Nobody says that the temperature of the first object at that moment will increase” “

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      Reply to Bryan
      (October 27, 2010 at 4:25 AM)

      As it´ll take me rather long to make an “understanding” reading of Mr. Pictets´s experiments, I´m already going to expose another approach for your consideration.
      Let us go back to my example. And let us imagine the first hotter object on the ground (insulated underneath not to complicate the experiment). Let us also suppose that atmosphere is very rare and without clouds, so that any influence on energy transmision is negligable. And let us imaging the second colder object – colder than the hot one, but not colder than upper atmosphere- 1 m. from the ground, kept in place in such a way not to interfere any radiation.
      Accepting the theory exposed by you, radiation goes always from the hotter one to the colder one, in a rate somehow proportional to the difference of temperatures, I presume.
      If we remove the colder object, we leave there an imaginary window, and the radiation coming from the hotter one and passing through that area will increase, as long as upper atmosphere is colder than the removed object.
      So, it´s WITH the second “rather cold” object when the hotter one loses less energy per unit of time. And as far as I can understand, this only can be due to the fact that it´s NET interchanged energy what always goes from the hot object to the cold one, bottom line of both uppward and downward radiation.

  93. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of Bryan of October 27, 2010 at 4:25 AM, and to the post of Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid of October 27, 2010 at 8:18 AM.

    Dear Bryan and Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid,

    It is good to see you refer to Prevost (1792). I am not familiar with the 1792 paper but I have a copy of the one dated April 1791, in voume 38, part 1, pages 314-323, where Prevost refers to Pictet. Do you have a reference for the 1792 paper?

    You write: “Two parabolic reflectors face each other say 4 metres apart.
    At the focus of one reflector a hot source plus a flux detector.

    After thermal equilibrium had been established a colder object was placed at the focus of the second reflector.”

    This is the classical source of the concept of radiative exchange equilibrium. This concept is used by Planck in his proof of the equality of specific emissivity and specific absorptivity at strict thermodynamic equilibrium that is usually attributed to Kirchhoff, but was known before him. What Kirchhoff’s 1860 paper contributed was in effect the idea of a universal source function for matter in strict thermodynamic equilibrium in the presence of a black body. The concept of pointwise radiative equilibrium is different and is used in many situations nowadays.

    In those days of course Prevost spoke only of “free heat”, not of photons.

    In a sense there are three bodies to consider here: the hot body, the cooler body, and the environment, which might be the night sky or the warm room, for example. The Stokes-Helmholtz reciprocity principle is to be invoked here, and was cited by Kirchhoff in his 1860 paper, and was also used repeatedly by Planck in his proof.

    My understanding is that if there is a steady state or a sufficiently slow change of state and other conditions to ensure local thermodynamic equilibrium, then any two index bodies, each small enough to be fully characterized by its own respective single temperature, will be in radiative exchange equilibrium if and only if they have equal temperatures. If we are given only local thermodynamic equilibrium in the two index bodies, but not necessarily a steady state, then the hotter index body will, in the net of purely radiative exchange, pass heat to the colder index body. Other heat exchanges, due to “the environment”, can in this situation affect the rate of temperature changes of the index hot and cold bodies, but the thing that is predictable regardless of the environmental effects, is the net purely radiative exchange between the index bodies.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  94. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid of October 27, 2010 at 3:17 AM.

    Dear Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid,

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

    I note that you do prefer not to use the term “Amplification by positive feedback”.

    I also note that you write: “As I not clearly said before, I´m not familiarized with the use of those words. I suppose that “Amplification by positive feedback” can be found in many scientific texts. But unless you thorougly know the matter beeing dealt with, one could got mislead.”

    I think that not many or hardly any scientific texts have much to say about “Amplification by positive feedback”.

    There are two distinct senses of the term ‘positive feedback’.

    One sense refers to the linearized version of a dynamical system about a dynamically fixed point. If the matrix of linearized rate constants has an eigenvalue with a positive real part then one can think of ‘positive feedback’ about the fixed point. It hardly makes sense to speak of ‘amplification’ in this sense; the word ‘explosion’ is more appropriate.

    The other sense usually refers not to overall feedback but to a component contribution to feedback, and is used with reference to the Bode 1945 theory of electronic amplifier design. Overall positive feedback destroys amplifier function, and if it is present, one finds one has an oscillator, not an amplifier; it happens nearly every time with one’s first workbench construction of a design, unless one is a master of the art. Component contribution to feedback virtually alters the overall feedback and overall gain, but hardly deserves to be called ‘amplification’.

    Nevertheless, the IPCC and its supporters habitually refer to “amplification by positive feedback” in reference to the part played by water vapour in the earth’s energy transport process, and they have plenty to say about it.

    This is a very clever trick to make slipshod thinkers feel that some real amplification takes place. It is a triumph of the spin doctor’s art. Talk of “amplification by positive feedback”, though thoroughly unscientific, is a brilliant propaganda move that gulls much of the climate debate audience. What really happens is a slowing of heat exchange.

    It is good to see your care about this, and your preference to avoid the term. Your comment: “The word “amplification” could always mislead somebody if we don´t specify amplification OF WHAT… For me, as simple as that.” seems to me to put it very clearly and well.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      After reading your recent “reply” – thanks for your explanation – , just one thing more about “amplification”.
      Its usage in the long expresion I wrote, apart from far too long, I see it wouldn´t be correct. That long expression would say something with “Increase” instead of amplification.
      I´m rather pro-IPPC (you can tell, can´t you), but always make efforts to be objective. And I know they have made errors.
      I´ve seen several times their AR4 and other papers, but don´t remember where they use “A. by p.f.”. I only would find it correct if saying something like “Amplification of sunlight Earth´s warming effect by positive feedback”.
      Yours,
      R.M.N

  95. Bryan says:

    Christopher Game, Massimo PORZIO

    Thanks for your replies.

    Christopher your copy of Prevosts theory of exchanges dated April 1791 is sure to be the original, as my source (a Physics Textbook) briefly states “first proposed in 1792″.

    I agree with both of you that there are 3 temperatures to be specified before any conclusion can be reached about how they would interact.
    The unspecified third temperature source is the environment.

    “Yes, Virginia, Cooler Objects Can Make Warmer Objects Even Warmer Still”.

    The word “Can” here is mandatory.
    It is unlikely and is only true, if the “cooler” object is warmer than the environment.
    Even then, it is an unsatisfactory statement, since it heavily implies that the warmer plates temperature actually increases, which of course it does not.

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      Bryan says:
      (October 27, 2010 at 10:50 AM)

      ““Yes, Virginia, Cooler Objects Can Make Warmer Objects Even Warmer Still”.

      The word “Can” here is mandatory.
      It is unlikely and is only true, if the “cooler” object is warmer than the environment.
      Even then, it is an unsatisfactory statement, since it heavily implies that the warmer plates temperature actually increases, which of course it does not.”

      For me what is important of the statement is not what you mention, but:
      -It “used to be” said, along with the linked dummy story, with the intention of ridiculing anthropogenic global warming believers. And comparing what said with reallity is useless: the authors said what supposed to have been said by IPCC, and they thought it was completely wrong…
      And IT´S NOT – apart from the end “Even Warmer Still”, that as I said first thing in the morning:
      “Nobody says that the temperature of the first object at that moment will increase”
      -Without “Even Warmer Still”, why do you say it is unlikely?. At least here in the Earth it´s easy to have two objects both warmer than the environment, one more than the other. And the sheer presence of the colder one would warm the hotter one – as I also said, the opposite too and even more.

      By the way: apparently you have not read my reply dated October 27, 2010 at 10:24 AM to yours dated October 27, 2010 at 4:25 AM, when you brought up Mr. Pictets´ experiments… Have you?

  96. Massimo PORZIO says:

    Hi Bryan,
    not sure I understood, English is not my first language and maybe I’m missing the point.
    If you consider the equilibrium balance fluxes with and without the “cold” plate then they suggest an increase of the “active” plate temperature(note “active” and not “warm” adjective). To be honest, till today I don’t understand if someone ever did the experiment and really measured the active plate temperature increase. I’m thinking about electromagnetic reflections here, I’m not sure that all the EM flux from the cold plate is really absorbed or just reflected from the hotter one.

    Massimo

  97. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid’s post of October 27, 2010 at 10:24 AM, and to Bryan’s of October 27, 2010 at 10:50 AM, and to Massimo PORZIO’s of October 27, 2010 at 11:46 AM.

    Dear Fellows,

    Thank you for this discussion.

    There are various things to distinguish and consider:
    (1) rates of change of temperature, and in particular whether there is a steady state or not.
    (2) rates of net purely radiative heat exchange between two bodies.
    (3) whether the index bodies are supplied with energy from some source other than the radiative exchange between the index bodies; for example the principal index body might be continuously heated by an electric current through a resistor – this is Massimo’s ‘active’ case, I think. Besides an environment colder than either of the two index bodies, one might also consider the possibility of an evironment that was hotter, or at a temperature between their temperatures.
    (4) the difference between absorption and thermal emission, and simple reflection.

    Massimo, if the cold plate is theoreticaly ideally perfectly polished and a theoretically perfectly ideal conductor of electricity, it will reflect all of the radiation that falls on it, and emit none because of perfect internal reflection. But a real cold plate will not be so ideal, and it will necessarily really absorb some and reflect some of the radiation that falls on it. It will also really emit its own thermal radiation all the time.

    Planck explains how one must consider separately the reflection at the joint interface of two media, and the emissivities of the two media themselves. The respective reflections on either side of the interface are governed by the Stokes-Helmholtz reciprocity principle, while the respective media emissivities describe how the two media send radiation to their joint interface.

    Massimo, I think, if all the factors are duly taken into account, that the relevant experiments have been done, piecewise as it were, if not actually exactly as in the particular set-up one might consider in a discussion. Some of the relevant experiments are given by Balfour Stewart, though, so far as I recall, not with actively heated bodies. But some experiments have been done with actively heated bodies.

    Bryan, I think that, with the environment being coldest, in Massimo’s case of an actively heated principal index body, its temperature will actually be increased by the insertion of a less hot auxiliary index body that is nevertheless hotter than the environment. In effect the actively heated principal index body will be cooling radiatively to an on-average less cold effective environment when the less hot index body is inserted. But as you say, if the principal index body is not actively heated, there will just be slowing of the cooling.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

    • Massimo PORZIO says:

      Dear Christopher Game,
      thank you for your attention to my posts.

      First of all, yes Brian was right: when “the principal index body is not actively heated, there will just be slowing of the cooling”. Excuse me, but sometimes I miss to explain some important details and this make my posts misunderstandings indeed, sorry again.

      About the idealization of the plates of Dr.Spencer’s joke, I’m troubled by the strange behavior of the two plates when they are kept together and then disjointed of just a little, say by a gap of one micron. The temperature equilibrium with the second plate jointed is almost the same of the active plate alone (just a little less because of the increased exposed surface represented by the second plate thickness), then just placing a so thin gap as one micron of vacuum between the plates, we get the second plate so cold and the active one incredibly (for me) warmer.
      I’ve a doubt, maybe this joke is similar to the “two capacitor paradox” which engaged a lot of electrical engineers for a long time looking for the energy lost during the charging transition in the ideal world of “no resistance” and “no inductance” between them (just a little off topic, but google “two capacitor paradox” if you don’t know about it and in case you want more details). In that case the mathematical solution is the Dirac’s delta, but in my opinion it has no solution in the real world.
      For this reason I’m looking for someone who did the experiment instead of theorized it.
      Thank you again for your patience reading my post which could be silly, because I never dealt with this thermodynamic issues except at the time of school.

      Have a nice day.

      Massimo

  98. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid’s post of October 27, 2010 at 12:25 PM.

    Dear Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid,

    Thank you for this thoughtful reply. It is good to know that you are a careful thinker.

    On page 633 of Chapter 8 of AR4, they write: “The
    effect of multiple positive feedbacks is that they mutually
    amplify each other’s impact on climate sensitivity.”

    You write: “I only would find it correct if saying something like “Amplification of sunlight Earth´s warming effect by positive feedback”.”

    Yes, but even then one would also need to remember your statement that one should “specify amplification OF WHAT.” To make sense of the idea of feedback, it would have in this case be amplification of the increment of the original solar sunlight about a specified zero reference. The zero of reference could conveniently be the average level in some reference year, or somesuch. So far as I know, there is not much evidence for significantly non-zero increments of original solar sunlight about the current level. The long-known correlation of the sunspot cycles with climate cycles apparently must be mediated by some mechanism other than increments in original solar sunlight.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  99. RW says:

    Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:
    October 26, 2010 at 1:38 AM

    RW says: “..The warmer surface air is then transported primarily via convection to the upper atmosphere where it ultimately is radiated out to space.”
    I´ve frequently seen this approach of skeptics. It comes in handy for dismissing global warming. But I think very seldom energy reaches space so easily. At any moment expanded air – due to added heat – can initiate convection. But most of it mixes with more air when ascending, interchanging heat. And it could take long time some of that air to reach really upper atmosphere to freely radiate out to space. And when reached there will be very little heat left.
    Only in very still atmosphere condition warm air can reach upper atmosphere so esily. But f.e., over oceans -3/4 of Earth´s surface- normally atmosphere isn´t still at all.

    I think it’s a combination of convection and the condensation of water from latent heat of evaporation (as it ascends higher up in the atmosphere). How quickly these forces act to continuously cool the surface and radiate heat out to space is the key. I suspect this in addition to the cloud feedbacks are mainly what the IPCC models are doing wrong. That and they are significantly underestimating the potential of clouds to “mask” the effect of incrementally more CO2 because the clouds would absorb/re-radiate the increased surface IR power anyway.

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      RW says:
      October 27, 2010 at 7:09 PM
      (Sorry my “late” reply. As perhaps you´ve seen, I´ve been very busy…)
      “I think it’s a combination of convection and the condensation of water from latent heat of evaporation (as it ascends higher up in the atmosphere). How quickly these forces act to continuously cool the surface and radiate heat out to space is the key.”
      You must be right. But even both phenomena together can´t be that important. Otherwise clouds would matter little: IR radiation reaching them would be negligable.
      And any increase in GHGs would initially increase the cooling due to increased evaporation, producing the mentioned latent heat. But increased water vapour, even if ascending -don´t forget humid air is heavier than if dry- would imply a GH effect increase (apart from what directly due to the CO2). I´m afraid we are entering the realms of the delicate issue of “amplification”…

  100. Spector says:

    A Speculation:

    The thing that I find intriguing about the concept of H2O condensation radiation is that it provides a means for the generation of a species of radiation that will not be absorbed by the simple vibration states of free H2O molecules above point of initial condensation and thus allow the escape of this radiation through the entire column of clear air overhead.

    It is not necessary for H2O condensation to cause the production of 5.13 micron photons as the condensation energy is probably shared by all vibration states of each molecular aggregate that is formed. A large portion of this bonding energy is probably shared in collision with other molecules in the surrounding atmosphere. I expect these H2O molecular aggregates formed by condensation would have unique vibration states capable of producing upward going radiation having a high probability of escaping to outer space.

    I note that the concentration of H2O in the atmosphere may be greater than 4,000 ppm and less than 10 ppm at the base of the stratosphere. The extremely low concentration of H2O in the upper troposphere would seem to preclude significant cooling by direct radiation from single H2O molecules at these altitudes. It is my recent understanding that CO2 is still saturated at this altitude.

  101. Spector says:

    Note: The 4000 ppm H2O concentration referenced in my statement above applies to the concentration at the surface.

  102. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game commenting on the paper by Lacis Schmidt Rind and Ruedy 2010 and its appearance in Dr Spencer’s blog.

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    The following may evoke an exercise of your moderative authority. Perhaps what I am about to write amounts to blasphemy against the most respected authorities in the climate change world. If you do allow it to be posted, of course I will read it as your editorial neutrality allowing free speech and no one will take it as a token of your own opinion.

    Our esteemed authors write: “water vapor provides the strongest climate feedback of any of the atmospheric GHGs” and “Earth is unique among terrestrial planets in having a greenhouse effect in which water vapor provides strong amplification of the heat-trapping action of the CO2 greenhouse.”

    This doctrine is the conceptual masterpiece of the IPCC and its supporters. It is surely one of the finest confidence tricks ever to grace the annals of pseudo-scientific spin.

    It is sheer nonsense.

    It is said by its supporters (e.g. Hansen Lacis Rind Russell Stone Fung Ruedy 1984 ISBN 0875904041 pages 130-163, Bony et al. 2006) to be based on the electronic amplifier design theory of Hendrik Bode 1945. The Bode theory (which I recognize as a fine study in engineering) is about an electronic device the heart of which is a feedforward active gain element (a thermionic valve in Bode’s day, a transistor today) powered by an auxiliary power supply (perhaps batteries supplying bias currents and voltages and freely available variable power), that amplifies a stream of signal energy from a fluctuating energetic signal source. For Bode, positive feedback means that some of the energy produced by the active gain element is fed back to its own input so as to produce a further output with the same sign as itself. If the positive feedback is beyond a certain amount, the device will either saturate at one extreme of the potential of the auxiliary power supply or will enter an oscillatory cycle that has very little relation to the signal source, so that we have not an amplifier but an oscillator; in either case it is not acting as an amplifier. If the positive feedback has loopgain with magnitude less than one, the output signal can be a time-stretched version of the amplified version of the source signal; but this relies on the presence of an actual and real amplification, with true power gain, in the first place, arising from the presence of the basic power gain supplied by the auxiliary power suppply through the active gain element.

    In the case of the climate system, there is no fluctuating energetic signal source and no auxiliary power supply and thus no active gain element; and thus no possibility of amplification in the first place, let the feedback be positive or whatever you like. The IPCC doctrine is a brilliant travesty of Bode’s fine engineering study. It makes out that the feedback creates the gain; a perpetual motion machine.

    But many scientists read the nonsense of the IPCC about this and they say to themselves “Oh, I learnt all about feedback at university; it’s a well established thing; everyone knows about it; there’s no way I’m going to let people think I don’t understand this theory; what the IPCC is saying seems odd, but I’m safest to go along with it.” And so they are gulled into allowing talk of “amplification by positive feedback through water vapour” to persist in the literature, and even collaborate with the perpetrators and repeat it themselves.

    The present paper of our esteemed authors is a perfect example of how IPCC acolytes can continue to get away with pumping out this buffoonery. Dr Spencer, you even give oxygen to it by giving it notice on your blog. And I expend precious electrons on complaining about it.

    What happened to ordinary scientific talk in terms of concepts like the LeChâtelier-Braun Principle? Do our esteemed authors think it is wrong or irrelevant? Perhaps they will publish in a refereed journal an article that tells us why they think so?

    Do they really believe that they are correctly citing the Bode theory? Perhaps they will publish in a refereed journal an article that tells how their story about parametric shifting of a dynamic stationary fixed point relates to Bode’s theory of dynamical stability around an unshifting fixed point, in terms of the Nyquist criterion. The papers, e.g. of Schlesinger 1985 IRN 13397400 pages 280-319, that purport to support the story do not do anything like that.

    If they did these things, their story would be open to scientific discussion. But instead they rely on the innuendo that anyone who rejects their doctrine must be ignorant and is not to be taken seriously, an innuendo that continues to serve them a treat. And so they continue to go on getting away with it.

    What can be said for the index article here is that it summarizes the doctrine very neatly.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      To Christopher Game reply
      October 28, 2010 at 10:02 AM

      I´m afraid I can´t understand you now.
      Only a few days ago we discussed the usage of the word “amplification”. We agreed that it could be misleading if mentioned alone, without specifying “amplification OF WHAT” .
      As you told me, IPCC AR4, Ch. 8, page 633 says: “The effect of multiple positive feedbacks is that they mutually amplify each other’s impact on climate sensitivity”. And some lines before we can read: “…corresponding to an ampli?cation of the basic temperature response by…”
      Both “amplify” and “amplification” are specifying “of what”: “each other´s impact …” and “the basic temperature response…”, respectively.
      We can discuss whether those statements are right or wrong. But I find the usage of both terms quite correct.
      I´m afraid you are too restrictive when using them. Perhaps their technical usage has the origin in electronics mentioned by you, but in any good dictionary you can find it is correct to use them in other scenarios: “Amplify: To extend or increase (anything inmaterial) in amount, importance, dignity, etc”

  103. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid of October 28, 2010 at 11:05 PM.

    Dear Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid,

    Thank you for your well focused comment.

    We are now focusing on the use of language. You are right to point out that there are several meanings that one could understand, from an ordinary language dictionary and from electronics. This leads to the possibility of ambiguity of meaning and of the fallacy of equivocation on meaning.

    The reason I mention electronics is that it is the reason offered by the authors in question in their earlier article that I cited. I did not bring in the electronic meaning to the conversation; our esteemed authors did so. They did not say they intended to use the ordinary language meaning; they said they intended to use the electronic meaning; they quoted Bode 1945 to make this clear. Now they have people not clearly distinguishing the two meanings, as you rightly note when you say you are afraid I am being too restrictive about usage.

    We are looking at what is called equivocation of meaning. It is a reliable way to create muddle and confusion; it is listed in books on logic as a kind of fallacy. Good for propaganda but bad for science.

    The Bode amplifier amplifies a signal from a specified source. The basic temperature response is not a signal from a source: it is a response to a signal from a source. The word ‘response’ indicates explicitly that it is not what one can regard as an independent variable; the idea of a signal from a source is that it is an independent variable for the model in question. The source is not specified in the words given.

    Analyzing this confusion is not just an exercise in grammar and dialectic. This confusion is the reason why Dr Spencer has to write very detailed articles that point out the problems of cause and effect that arise with the use of the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism. The confusion is a serious problem for the science, which is about cause and effect. The problem is built into the IPCC concept of “forcings”.

    And there are other problems, but that is enough for one post.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  104. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Massimo PORZIO’s post of October 28, 2010 at 6:15 AM.

    Dear Massimo PORZIO,

    James Clerk Maxwell invented the idea of the displacement current. To propose that there will be no inductance or other impedance called into play during the current flow between the capacitors is to tell Maxwell he wasted his time. The current flow will be accompanied by dispersal of energy to space as more or less spherical outgoing wave motion. That’s where the missing energy goes. Versions of the experiment were done by Hughes and by Hertz and by Tesla.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

    • Massimo PORZIO says:

      Yes, of course, as we tell here in Italy: Maxwell “turns upside down in its grave” for that.
      For this reason about 18 years ago (or so) when I read for the first time about the “two caps paradox” on our local HAM radio BBS, I almost suddenly understand that there is no reason to lost my time to solve that non-problem. That circuit exist just in a virtual world, where energy can disappear because of the illegal approximation applied to it (illegal or the real world of course). But I really wonder a couple of years ago when I discovered that some engineers are still there trying to deal with it. I also read about an absurd “asymptotic analysis” of the switch between the two caps to justify the energy loss.
      Does anybody told them that Lara Croft doesn’t really exist? :)

      Massimo

  105. Spector says:

    In this venue, popular climate science, I suspect that the distinctions between the terms “positive feedback” and “amplify” or “negative feedback” and “attenuate” are not always observed.

  106. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of Spector of October 29, 2010 at 5:55 AM.

    Dear Spector,

    You can say that again, at least for me. Louder and more definitely if you like!

    But sad to say, it isn’t confined to this venue, popular science. It is endemic in the would-be professional literature, and hardly criticized there.

    But I would go further and say that in the would-be professional literaure the terms are used without serious attention to their scientific or logically consistent meanings; that they are used instead for their merely emotive resonance, with a specious patina of apparent scientific gravitas.

    But in any case, they are used to disguise an avoidance of reasoning in terms of proper physical principles.

    And they work very well for that purpose, as is shown by how few people criticise them and is also shown by the absence of published literature that proposes logical and physical justification for their use. They are just a bluff that gulls uncritical readers; and that means many readers, including many heavyweight experts on meteorology.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  107. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of Massimo PORZIO of October 29, 201 at 11:48 AM.

    Dear Massimo PORZIO,

    Till now I took you as a serious person, but now that you try to tell me that Lara Croft doesn’t exist, I know you are likely also to think that Elvis the king lives no longer, and I cannot take you seriously any more. I have seen Lara Croft in a movie, therefore I am happy that she must exist, and I have seen Elvis often on the television. What more proof could be asked for?!

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

    • Massimo PORZIO says:

      Yes Christopher,
      I’m of that kind, very “skeptical” :) , always ready to ask myself “what’s that? Why?”
      I also believe that some people seen Emmerich’s “The day after tomorrow” movie and decided to become a climatologist. ;)
      Being optimist, I still hope they are few.
      Never seen an anti-scientific movie like that (I say that because I never seen Al Gore’s “An inconvenient truth” of course).
      I always liked sci-fi movies, but that’s not sci-fi, it’s science aberration.
      Exiting the cinema I was tempted to ask the ticket refund.
      Now let me stop that argument since it’s off topic, I don’t want to degrade this nice blog.

      Have a nice day.

      Massimo

  108. Fernando says:

    The main topic was slightly deflected.

    If I understand the discussion (very enlightening).

    I come to the conclusion that I’m back on the Paradox of Olbers ‘climatological’.

    The cosmic background radiation (microwave) heats the water vapor and oceans release CO2. (No joke).

    Dr Spencer;

    Dr Spencer is by definition a great expert in microwave.

    I ask.

    Some external source or “exotic” microwave hinder your magnificent work …????

    Sorry for the extremely poor English.

    • Massimo PORZIO says:

      Hi Fernando,
      I’m not sure, are you arguing that the microwave background variations coming from the outer space is driving the CO2 release of the oceans?
      If that’s what you mean, I would to point out that the average background radiation is abt 2.75K and its fluctuations due to its anisotropy (as measured by the NASA COBE satellite) is just one part in 100,000 of that.
      I’m not a scientist, but I believe it’s too much tiny energy fluctuation to be meaningful in this context.
      Maybe I missed some points about your argument, but I believe Dr.Spencer well know about it.

      Massimo

  109. Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    I´m going to “think aloud”, trying to continue beeing “earnest”. Don´t think I´m dumbing down my ideas as if speaking to children. It´s just to diminish the risk of making errors as much as possible.
    After a week of of discussion, I think most of us do basically agree that an object C, if approached to a warmer one W, “warms” this one, if and only if C is hotter than the air previously at the place where it has been placed. Needless to say, the initial temperature of W doesn´t increase. But its cooling rate decreases, and after some time it´ll be warmer than if we had not approached the colder one.
    But this was just an analogy. Let us consider now the real phenomenon.
    W plaid the role of some part of Earth´s surface, and C plaid the role of some volume of air over W, with more or less amount of GHGs.
    If we consider an initial moment at the beginning of the dayly cycle, f.e. just at dawn, C is normally at same temperature as W. Not yet as in the analogy.
    After some time -let us say 4 or 6 hours- of sunlight heating the surface (W), the considered volume of air C will have got warmer too, but colder than W if this is the unique source of energy that heats C (sunlight directly warms air a little bit too, but it is negligable). The more GHGs in C, the hotter it will get.
    In the analogy we placed an object where previously there was air. Now there is always air. Let us compare a situation with less GHGs in the air, with another with higher concentration. Now the paralell is complete: the air existing where C was placed, plaid the role of the considered volume of air with less GHGs . And object C plaid the role of the air with higher concentration of GHGs.
    This last volume of air is hotter than the one with less amount of GHGs, and this will imply that it emites more IR radiation that “warms” the surface, regardless the fact that the surface is warmer than the air… Needless to say, in the same sense as in the analogy: the surface cooling rate will decrease, and after the same number of hours surface temperature will be higher when more GHGs in the air. And its mean temperature too.
    Of course reality is not that simple. This FEEDBACK (air with more GHGs “feeds” the surface back more– energy beeing the “food”, of course) does happen. But since the very beginning new phenomena (expansion, convection,etc) happen too, what modifies the scenario… But never to nullify what exposed, at least on a global average… How much will the scenario change due to those other phenomena? This is quite another issue…

  110. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid of November 1, 2010 at 2:09 PM.

    Dear Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid,

    Good post.

    You write: “After a week of of discussion, I think most of us do basically agree that an object C, if approached to a warmer one W, “warms” this one, if and only if C is hotter than the air previously at the place where it has been placed.”

    This discussion was about a situation in which there is no energy transport other than thermal radiation, and the supply of energy to heat the body W.

    Your statement quoted here, I think, is right for that situation with the proviso that it needs a supplementary condition. One supplementary condition that will make your statement fully right is that local thermodynamic equilibrium prevails within the two bodies W and C. This ensures the operation of the Kirchhoff radiative emissivity-absorptivity law.

    But, as you rightly note, the earth’s energy transport process does not fulfil the postulate that there is no energy transport other than thermal radiation. In the earth energy transport process there are also conduction, diffusion, phase change, electrical discharge, and convection. The pure radiative account is not enough to give a full answer to our larger questions in this case. The present discussion has been limited to a theoretical component of the larger questions.

    It troubles me that you refer to “feedback” in a rather loose way. Scientific or engineering texts that refer to feedback usually use the term in a carefully defined way that is far from how it is used in anthropogenic global warming discussions. Physics texts mostly do not frame their discussion of this kind of problem in terms of ‘feedback’ because the term is too ambiguous and vague; they are wise in this. The physical concept that is considered relevant here is perhaps what Prigogine calls the extended LeChâtelier-Braun Principle. The problem is to clarify just what are the provisos needed to sustain that Principle, and when does it not apply because the provisos are not fulfilled? This problem puts focus on the real causal structure of the process of interest.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      To Christopher Game
      (November 2, 2010 at 4:11 PM)
      Thank you for your positive comments. Regarding the rather negative ones …
      I agree with you that we should be very careful with terminology. You can see I didn´t use those terms in my first interventions. I referred to “feedback” in the last one showing that for me its usage there is not that unreasonable. You can find, f.e in “Chambers Dictionary of Science and Technology”, definitions of “feedback” not that restrictive, in Acoustics and Telecommunication.
      Here in Spain we have a grave issue due to terminology confussion. Our Constitution says only the hole Spain is a “nation”. Catalunya government wanted to call Catalunya “nation” in their statut. Central and regional government reached a compromise: the word “nation” would be introduced in the statut, but only in the preface, where they say it doesn´t have legal value! The president even said that “the term nation is an argued and arguable one”!!
      I my professional field, any set of regulations includes, in the preface or similar part at the beginnig, the precise definition of each technical term used afterwards.
      Perhaps both Spanish Constitution and IPCC ARs should have done that!
      But my main concern is not that, but the physical core of what we all say. And I´ve seen several important errors in the blog– as far as I can understand-, that hardly ever have been refuted by anybody. Especially, I must say, if what said discredit IPCC scientists.
      I first entered the blog on October the 18th. At least since that day until last wednesday the 27th –when I introduced my post-, nobody said anything in relation with the link to the dummy story. And other important errors are:
      “1) Infrared radiation from the surface is absorbed in the first few feet of the atmosphere.
      2) 99% of the absorbed radiation is converted to kinetic energy within milliseconds”,
      and nobody has refuted them but me.
      And in other post you can read:
      “The back-radiation from the atmosphere to the surface is both fixed and minimal for any level of atmospheric CO2 and other photon-absorbing gases.”
      I´m not going to call anybody “fanatic” – as I was called – , but those slanted attitudes are not the best way of discussing anything. Especially the mentioned “silence” and intended “errors”. Normal errors can be made by anybody, and we all could learn from them with an “earnest” discussion.

    • Massimo PORZIO says:

      Hi Christopher Game,
      I’m on your side when you say: “In the earth energy transport process there are also conduction, diffusion, phase change, electrical discharge, and convection. The pure radiative account is not enough to give a full answer to our larger questions in this case.”

      Referring to the Dr.John C. Walton’s link I already posted before: “c) a space blanket is no better in most emergency situations than an ordinary large plastic garbage bag, bivouac sack, or cagoule”. In my opinion one of the most important questions the climatologist should answer is: why do space cloths which perform greatly in the outer space seem to work no better than a plastic garbage bag at ground?

      And I believe that’s what Dr.Spencer and his colleagues are doing.

      Massimo

  111. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid of November 3, 201 at 3:17 AM.

    Dear Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid,

    I am sorry you seem to be thinking of using the loose ordinary-language meaning of “feedback” while it is presented by authorities like our esteemed authors as scientific. The perfect way to mislead and confuse and create fallacies of equivocation. And you seem a risk of buying into it. You were right in your first instincts, not to use it. I am guilty of asking your opinion of it, and now I have done the opposite of what I intended. I have led you to find it “not unreasonable”. Oh, dear, my mistake.

    As for infrared radiation from the land-sea surface. It is absorbed most strongly in the very lowest atmosphere. Perhaps not mostly in the first few feet, but much in the first few tens of meters and indeed mostly in the first few hundred meters.

    And what is absorbed is converted into kinetic energy within milliseconds.

    Because of local thermodynamic equilibrium, the collisions that convert the radiatively excited molecules’ extra energy to molecular kinetic energy are nearly balanced by the reverse reactions, and, with the added kinetic energy, other molecules are excited by collisions, again within milliseconds. Those other excited molecules can then radiate the same kind of radiation that excited the previous ones that absorbed it. That means back radiation as well as upward radiation. And it mostly arises in the lowest few hundred meters, just very near where the absorption took place. The back-radiation is neither minimal nor fixed.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      To Christopher Game
      (November 3, 2010 at 6:09 AM)

      Thank you for expressing your agreement with some of my points. It means you now also refute the opposite, previously posted. Better late than ever…(let me joke a bit).
      Regarding the rest:
      1.-Please don´t feel “guilty” of misleading me. I´ll continue trying not to use those words. I´m not a scientist and prefer to use expressions that could be understood by every day men – if thinking with a bit of care…
      But if we wanted to give a name to the phenomenon of energy going from warmed GHGs and surrounding air back to the source which heated them, what could the name be?
      And according to the “request to Roy” from Peter Taylor (yesterday 6:22AM) even Dr. Spencer uses “feedback”!
      2.-If IR radiation “…is absorbed most strongly in the very lowest atmosphere” …” and indeed mostly in the first few hundred meters”, why all that fuss about clouds´ GH effect? Their presence would matter little: IR radiation reaching them would be almost negligable.
      And what quoted by me didn´t even include “mostly” or other similar word… And nobody but me refuted it when posted.
      3.- “Kinetic energy” at molecular level is, as far as I know, the sheer essence of “heat” in gases.
      I also could say that to use that term instead of heat is the “perfect way to mislead and confuse and create fallacies of equivocation”.
      In fact I´ve seen -more than once-, right after a sentence similar to what quoted by me, stuff like : “And then air ascends to the upper atmosphere where…”
      And I thought “could this person be meaning IR turns into ascending air kinetic energy?”…
      Yours
      RMN

  112. Peter Taylor says:

    This is a request to Roy – I once had your email, but this is the only way I can reach you today….I am engaged in a debate with Prof Alistair McIntosh, a human ecologist at Edinburgh University, on what is quite a high profile site for professional ecologists (of which I am one), and although Alistair M. is not a ‘scientist’ he does engage ocassionally in forays provoked by my use of such – and usually by checking in with RealClimate scientists. If you have time, please read over what he has to say here:

    Hi again Peter

    [Nb. It looks as if the links I'd built into this text may not publish. If that is so, Google the words Roy Spencer Debunking and you'll pick them up].

    I take your distinction between being a research-active scientist and a science analyst {that is me!). However, the task of the analyst is in some ways even more demanding because s/he needs to have a good grasp on what is being analysed. In citing Spencer & Braswell I don’t think you’re demonstrating that, and this is an important point I’m going to make because Spencer, the lead author, is a key contrarian with a creditable publishing record. However, his work and that of his UAH colleague John Christie is very much under challenge at present.

    You say: “But this is not unpublished contrarian territory at all. One of the most senior and original IPCC meteorologists pointed out at the first meeting that the feedback was unproven (because vapour can turn to cloud and create the reverse feedback) – way back in 1990 and he published his criticism in the peer-reviewed literature…. Only in recent years have Spencer and Braswell published data-driven estimates of such feedback – and they argue it is neutral or negative, not positive as in the models.”

    I presume, Peter, that you are referring to Spencer & Braswell 2008, the paper in J. Climate that you cited in “Chill”. {NB I was also referring to Lindzen’s work which I also review in my book} They say there that their “results suggest that current observational diagnoses of cloud feedback—and possibly other feedbacks—could be significantly biased in the positive direction.” What this means is that they question the supposed positive feedback by which modest CO2 warming triggers strong positive feedback thanks to water vapour. They’re implying that maybe that water vapour just causes more cloud, which in turn, increases the Earth’s albedo, which protects the Earth from warming – hence why they suggest that presumptions of a positive feedback are “significantly biased”.

    I can see the logic of their argument, but the analyst’s question must be: does the evidence stack up? By Spencer’s own admission it now looks questionable whether it does. I only picked up on this in the past few days which it did not figure in any of my postings thus far.

    It turns out there’s been a whole debate about this paper running on the web. On 1st September Roy Spencer of UAH published a riposte on his blog to his “debunking”, especially by such likes as RealClimate. This was reported with analysis here by Climate Progress, saying: “First off, they were wrong — dead wrong — for a very long time, which created one of the most enduring denier myths, that the satellite data didn’t show the global warming that the surface temperature data did.”
    Spencer concedes that he was wrong. His blog (linked above) says: “Unfortunately, our 2008 paper in Journal of Climate [i.e. Spencer & Braswell] I now realize, had insufficient evidence to make the case we were trying to make in 2008. I believe our claims were correct, but the evidence we presented could not unequivocally support those claims. Only after finishing our most recent 2010 paper did I realize the insufficiency of that previous work on the subject.”

    Spencer still believes his theory and has published a new paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research. However, as comments on Spencer’s blog indicates, people are asking why he didn’t come clean earlier, and why he has not made public the algorithms being used in this new paper. Apparently he and Christy have a history of having to revise their concessions to climate change in an upwards direction.

    In short, Peter, I am not qualified Spencer & Braswell 2010 (August), but their 2008 paper that you cite in Chill fails to substantiate itself – by the authors’ own admission.

    Alastair.

    ….He is confusing the past debate on UAH trends with your analysis of feedbacks, but if you could give me a response or go direct to http://www.banc.org.uk/debates (it is his posting no6 and the last of the comments – quite a scroll down I am afraid!) and contribute, that would be so much appreciated.

    Peter

  113. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid of November 4, 2010 at 2:32 AM.

    Dear Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid,

    We are having quite conversation.

    You write: “But if we wanted to give a name to the phenomenon of energy going from warmed GHGs and surrounding air back to the source which heated them, what could the name be?”

    I would say that this is not a phenomenon. It is a part of a caricature model of a process. I don’t think the caricature is very enlightening, and indeed I think it is a waste of time. We are looking at what might also be called radiative diffusion. Radiation of this kind is a compound of astronomical numbers of ‘photon’-sized increments of radiative exchange, some going from the land-sea body to the atmosphere, some from the atmosphere to the land-sea body. When in some geographical place, as often happens at night, and always in the polar winter, and sometimes with a cold front, the temperature of the land-sea body is less than the temperature of the effective body of atmosphere that it sees above, then the radiative thermal diffusion is from atmosphere to land-sea body, and when the temperature difference is the other way, the diffusion is the other way. In decribing diffusion of material substances we don’t speak of “feedback” when referring to the fact that in such diffusion there is two-way passage of molecules. We just speak of diffusion in one direction or the other. The use of the caricature in terms of “feedback” is just an excuse to bring in the inappropriate word “amplification”, which has mighty propaganda effect, which is what the users want, but does not clarify the physics.

    You write: “even Dr. Spencer uses “feedback”!”

    One bad deed doesn’t justify another. I have for long chided Dr Spencer about this. He has made good progress in the right dirction by detailing in his latest paper with Dr Braswell how the IPCC formalism makes it well-nigh impossible to trace cause and effect in important cases. But I want him to go a lot further in this direction. The word ‘feedback’ can be safely used if it is carefully defined in each context of use, but too often the definition is left vague, and the reader gets the impression that this is because the default meaning is that of the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism, which is a bad thing. You also mention that there is an ordinary language use of the word, distinct from the IPCC usage.

    The proper physical way to talk about these things is in terms of ‘theorems of moderation’. The best account of this that I know is by I. Prigogine and R. Defay (1954), Chemical Thermodynamics, translated by D.H. Everett, Longmans, London. See especially Chapter 17, and the following chapters. This is just an account in terms of equilibrium thermodynamics, not of the non-equilibrium thermodynamics that is needed to describe the earth’s energy transport process, but still it’s a very good start to see how it is done by experts, and should be done also in climate science, but is not, because of the evil custom of using instead the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism.

    You write: “why all that fuss about clouds´ GH effect? Their presence would matter little: IR radiation reaching them would be almost negligable.”

    The lowest atmosphere emits thermal radiation as strongly up as down, so that, although the overall radiative exchange between land-sea body and atmosphere sometimes goes one way, sometimes the other, there is still quite strong thermal radiation that reaches the clouds from the atmosphere below. There is no contradiction there. We have not here mentioned the thermal radiation that goes through the atmospheric window from land-sea body to space, about 63 W m^-2 on global average in a clear sky. This kind of radiation does not penetrate the clouds in a cloudy sky. It is absorbed by the the clouds. This is considered important by some writers, but its importance should not be exaggerated: for thermal radiation, the clouds are nearly black bodies and they radiate window-wavelength radiation both up and down. So they are not very far from radiative exchange equilibrium with the land-sea body in these wave-bands. But the tops of the clouds see a very thin atmosphere above, and they can very easily send their own ‘window’ radiation direct to space; this ease compensates for the temperature of the tops of the clouds being lower than that of the land-sea body; so the overall effect is the the clouds make a relatively small difference to the total ‘window’ radiation to space.

    On the other hand, clouds reflect sunlight from their tops, and this constitutes a very important anti-greenhouse effect, because it simply means that the system has to deal with less absorbed solar radiation. Also the clouds absorb sunlight into their tops instead of letting it reach the land-sea body, and this sets up a further anti-greenhouse effect.

    You write: “And what quoted by me didn´t even include “mostly” or other similar word… And nobody but me refuted it when posted.”

    You can see graphs of the altitudes of absorption of radiation from land-sea body by the atmosphere, and of emission of radiation from the atmosphere to the land-sea body in Figure 3 of Miskolczi’s 2010 paper in Energy and Environment, 21: 243-262. These graphs show the contribution density profiles. Dr Spencer devoted a long and pejorative blog article to a slight imprecision in that figure. The scales and log plots and dot sizes conspire to make it impossible to see in the figure just exactly what is the overall average net exchange there, because it is too small to see on the scales used. Miskolczi used the words “match precisely at each altitude”, when it would have been better to write ‘match rather nearly at each altitude’. Perhaps we may hear more about this in future. But in any case, the magnitudes of interest of interest to you here are made accurately clear in those graphs, and the finer points of precision do not impinge on that. The steepness of the slopes at low altitudes is evident.

    You write: ““Kinetic energy” at molecular level is, as far as I know, the sheer essence of “heat” in gases.”

    Language can be muddled if one tries to talk in terms of several different models at the same time. The term ‘kinetic energy’ here refers to the model of the kinetic theory of gases, not the same thing as the ‘kinetic energy’ of bulk flow for example in the wind or in thermal updraughts, which is an idea that belongs to the hydrodynamic model, not so much to the kinetic theory of gases model. The word ‘heat’ is most safely restricted, for purposes of strict clarity of physics, to referring to a transfer of energy, not to a component of ‘resident’ energy. In this sense, the ‘kinetic energy’ of the molecules is properly regarded as part of the ‘internal energy’ of the air parcel, and is preferably not called ‘heat’, for these reasons.

    You write: “could this person be meaning IR turns into ascending air kinetic energy?”…”

    Only a small part of the energy that comes from the land-sea body to the atmosphere does so by radiative exchange, as noted above. Most of the energy transferred from the land-sea body to the atmosphere comes by way of conduction, evaporation, and then convection. Conduction is a true heat transfer. Evaporation can be regarded as a ‘virtual’ or ‘latent’ heat transfer, but is more strictly to be regarded as a transfer of internal energy in a mass transport process. The energy transferred from land-sea body to atmosphere is mostly carried by bulk flow, that is by convection, to higher altitudes, whence it is transferred as radiant heat to space. There is some but not too much kinetic energy in the upflowing air. This is eventually dissipated by turbulence into internal energy of the upper air, whence it is radiated to space. The upward transfer of energy within the atmosphere is mostly by convection or bulk flow that carries internal energy as part of a mass transport process.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christoher Game

    • Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

      To Christopher Game
      (November 4, 2010 at 2:43 PM)
      Thank you for your long reply.
      I wish I had a more scientific background to counter your ease when replying.
      Anyhow, I must say that I kind of feel -I know this is not scientific- that I could be more right than you, as far as the physical core of what discussed is concerned…
      I´m going to be away for a couple of weeks, without access to the Internet from home. But almost every other day I´ll have it.
      Without intending to continue our discussion any longer -I´m afraid it´d be useless- l´m going to draft a short list of what I consider “weak” points of your approach, and I´ll post it. Trying not to give “my” reasons, not to incite you to carry on…Just to have them here. Time will tell.
      Very truly yours,
      RMN

  114. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid of November 5, 2010 at 2:30 AM.

    Dear Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid,

    Thank you for this conversation, which I have found useful to help me clarify my thinking. Your list of “weak” points will be useful to me as something to think about.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  115. Bryan says:

    Christopher Game,Rafael Molina Navas,Massimo PORZIO

    I have followed your deliberations with much interest.
    Perhaps I could add some comments.
    I question whether we have LTE conditions as the photons radiative energy can be changed into thermal energy and a ratchet type situation develops.
    When first confronted by the absorption of radiation in the atmosphere by CO2 molecule (such as 4um and 15um) if someone had asked me to guess about the relative size of these energies compared with CO2s translational KE, I would have come up with the wrong answer.
    For instance the 4um radiation has almost 9 times the translational KE of CO2 molecule at 290K!
    At temperatures of around 290K its safe to say that almost all CO2 molecules will have no vibrational or rotational components.
    So each molecule (Nt) is “available” to absorb suitable radiation.
    For the more common case of a 15um absorption, instantly after absorption has taken place the enhanced molecule has about 3 times the energy of neighbouring N2 and O2 molecules.
    Most agree that this energy is rapidly thermalised by the 10^10 collisions per second that the molecules experience.

    Following a “folksy” analogy its like the lottery winner who discovers he has lots of new friends to share his winnings.

    Photon energy = hf
    For the translational KE at 290K
    I make the value to be 6 E-21J
    Giving Ephoton/KE = 2.22

    In a very short time the extra energy is shared out.

    What is hard for me to understand is the reverse happening!

    What is the probability for a CO2 molecule to pick up enough excess translational energy to re-emit!

    Difficult, but not impossible.
    Using Maxwell Boltzmann Statistics;

    Np = Number of molecules with required energy (Ep)
    Nt = Total number of molecules with average energy(Et)

    Case A
    Example of molecule emitting 15um photon but being left with average translational KE compared to average molecule.

    Np/Nt = e^-(Ep – Et) = e^-3.2 =0.04 or 4%

    Case B
    The ratio of CO2 particles with enough KE to release photon and then stop dead compared to average molecule
    Np/Nt = e^-(Ep – Et) = e^-2.2 = 0.11 or 11%

    So we find the number emitted is much less than the number absorbed.

    For the 15um a “head on” collision between two molecules gets you almost there.
    But what is the probability of that?

    The probability of re-emission of a 4um photon is extremely remote!

    It seems a good idea to examine the night time situation for any greenhouse effects.
    However at night time as temperatures drop the probability of emission is further decreased.
    The famous experiment by R W Wood finds theoretical support from John Nicols paper.

  116. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of Bryan of November 8, 2010 at 3:29 AM.

    Dear Bryan,

    You are questioning whether the local thermodynamic equilibrium approximation can be relied upon in this work.

    The concept of local thermodynamic equilibrium was put on the map for radiative work by E.A. Milne in 1928 at Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 88:493-502.

    Your calculations are interesting but are not extensive and detailed enough to be adequate to reliably answer your question. Key to the local thermodynamic equilibrium hypothesis is the Maxwell-Boltzmann statistics, as you have rightly observed. The physical essence is that collisions between molecules are far far more frequent than are emissions and absorptions of photons.

    For radiative transfer in the earth’s atmosphere, the local thermodynamic equilibrium hypothesis is generally considered to provide a very accurate approximation up to altitudes of 50 km, and to fail noticeably above about 80 km.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  117. Bryan says:

    Christopher Game

    Thank you for your reply.
    I need to correct how the equations are displayed in my previous post.
    The calculations are correct(I think) but the equation was not copied correctly back into the post.

    The exponential factor should show Np/Nt = e^-(Ep – Et)/kT

    I used units of kT for convenience for Ep and Et so they cancelled but I then forgot to display them in the post.
    The point of the post was to show that Kirchhoff could perhaps not always give the correct prediction.
    In this case the photon energy is readily changed into thermal KE but the thermal KE is not so readily changed to emit similar photons.

  118. Mike Borgelt says:

    Andy Lacis says:
    October 17, 2010 at 12:15 AM

    “In regard to Mars, we actually did have an explanation for Mars’ feeble greenhouse effect (due to much smaller pressure broadening of absorption lines) despite larger CO2 amount than Earth.”

    So Andy, you are saying the pressure broadening depends on TOTAL atmospheric pressure rather than the partial pressure of the CO2?

    In which case there will be negligible extra pressure broadening in Earth’s atmosphere due to the extra CO2 that is there now? Better check in with Gavin and get the story straight! That should cause quite some revision of the archives on RealClimate. IIRC the extra CO2 was mean to cause all sorts of problems due to “extra pressure broadening”

  119. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of Bryan of November 9, 2010 at 12:32 AM.

    Dear Bryan,

    Yes, one is always a bit suspicious that such a nice and convenient hypothesis as local thermodynamic equilibrium might be misleading. So far as I know, however, the hypothesis is a very good approximation below 50 km though it fails above 80 km. Thus you are right to query the applicability of Kirchhoff: it fails at very high altitudes; but at such high altitiudes, the exchanges of infrared radiation are rather small in amount and apparently do not make a very significant contribution to the earth’s total energy exchange budget. For very high altitudes, people sometimes talk of the Knudsen gas regime.

    At lower altitudes, in the streaks of air in which lightning has just passed, I suppose there may be significantly large very brief transient departures from local thermodynamic equilibrium, with consequent departures from the standard Planck version of Kirchhoff.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  120. Christopher Game says:

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    You write: “Furthermore, the cloud feedbacks in their climate model are positive, which further amplifies the model’s temperature response to forcing. As readers here are aware, our research suggests that cloud feedbacks in the real climate system might be so strongly negative that they could more than negate any positive water vapor feedback.

    In fact, this is where the authors have made a logical stumble. Everyone agrees that the net effect of clouds is to cool the climate system on average. But the climate models suggest that the cloud feedback response to the addition of CO2 to our current climate system will be just the opposite, with cloud changes acting to amplify the warming.

    What the authors didn’t realize is that when they decided to relegate the role of clouds in the average state of the climate system to one of “feedback”, their model’s positive cloud feedback actually contradicts the known negative “feedback” effect of clouds on the climate’s normal state.”

    I find this situation puzzling or even baffling. Could it be that it is a symptom of a radical and incurable defect in the whole “forcings and feedbacks” formalism? As I understand your position, though perhaps I don’t really understand it, I think that you argue that that formalism is a convenient simplification. Is this a situation in which the convenient simplification just isn’t convenient, because it doesn’t seem to provide a simplification in any obvious sense?

    The LeChâtelier-Braun Principle refers strictly to thermodynamic equilibria, while the earth’s atmospheric energy transfer process is not a thermodynamic equilibrium. However, for some circumstances Glansdorff and Prigogine (1971) write of an extended LeChâtelier-Braun Principle, which they intend to apply to non-thermodynamic-equilibrium steady states, in particular to stable dissipative processes (see pages 63-65 of Thermodynamic Theory of Structure, Stability and Fluctuations, ISBN 0 471 30280 5). They advise that sometimes the LeChâtelier-Braun Principle does not apply even to thermodynamic equilibrium problems (see Prigogine and Defay 1950/1954).

    But loosely speaking I think we all agree that at present it seems that the earth’s climate process conforms with some kind of overall stability criterion, a criterion that you like to call an overall “negative feedback” criterion, even though poor ignorant physicists like Glansdorff and Prigogine 1971 and like Prigogine and Defay 1950/1954 are not clever enough to see the benefits of using that conveniently simplifying concept.

    I cannot help thinking that it is long overdue to break out of the shackles of the convenient simplification and to use instead a more rational analytic paradigm. Or at least to recognise explicitly and publicly that the convenient simplification is not rational and needs replacement.

    The convenient simplification assumes that when CO2 is added to the atmosphere the essential initial stage of its effect is to increase the temperature of the land-sea surface, and that all feedbacks come after that.

    The hypothesis that the initial stage is increase in atmospheric instability and wind that speeds up the ocean evaporation is simply ruled out by the convenient simplification. With the convenient simplification, this hypothesis is not exposed to the possibility of being proven wrong; it is simply not expressible or representable or testable in the conveniently simplifying paradigm. We are so clever and know so much about all this that we do not even need to test this hypothesis because we know in advance that it must be wrong. I have asked Lara Croft and Elvis Presley about this and they agree that we are indeed so clever.

    But then, how could anyone suggest that the IPCC might be wrong?

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  121. Rafael Molina Navas, Madrid says:

    To Christopher Game
    Dear C. G.:
    First of all, thank you very much for your kind words in relation with our conversation a few weeks ago.
    I had thought it woud be useless to continue our discussion due to the fact that I can´t counter your ease when replying at rather high scientific level: I dont´t fully understand your “language”.
    But you do understand my “ground level” one. And as long as you seem interested in my ideas, I´ve decided to carry on exposing them … If you don´t answer too high, perhaps after a couple of further rounds we may agree in some additional items.
    Let me quote something of a previous reply of myself to RW:
    “CO2 initially absorbes IR radiation from surfaces hit by sunlight. This primary radiation warms CO2 molecules, that subsequently warm surrounding air, and this produces a secondary IR radiation, in all directions, not of the same frequency necessarily (¿?). This radiation hits the ground and rest of air there, and the same happens again and again.?This greenhouse effect is reinforced by the presence of steam vapour, as long as vapour can capture, in second or later “rounds”, energy not initially captured”.
    Where (¿?) I mean you consider frequency doesn´t change, as I´ve seen in some of your replies. If IR radiation energy changes into “thermo-kinetic” energy, I think it´s the temperature of surrounding air, that was already emitting IR radiation, which must decide the wavelength of the new radiation (a bit increased temperature because of the hitting radiation …).
    In any case, any layer of air with GHGs will send half of the total emitted IR radiation downwards, and the other half upwards. Part of this radiation that could reach much higher layers – energy more likely removed by convection …- can be captured by other GHGs molecules, the higher concentration of them the sooner radiation energy will be captured.
    That´s why I consider that to talk about “saturation” in relation with GHG concentration is meaningless in many of the cases.
    We have to keep in mind that, as far as I know, an IR radiation beam:
    - … doesn´t “know” whether a GHG molecule is beeing removed by convection/wind or not: for the radiation any possible speed of the air is equivalent to nill
    - … doesn´t know whether it was emitted by sea surface or not (in the other hand any increase in ocean evaporation would locally increase concentration of a strong GHG such as water vapour …)
    - … doesn´t know whether it´s cloudy or not
    - … doesn´t know whether there is a thermodynamic equilibrium or not when it hits a GHG molecule and turns into thermo-kinetic energy, increasing surrounding air temperature.
    And air heated by the considered impacts will continue emitting more IR radiation, having a GHG effect in two ways:
    - directly contributing to an increase of mean global temperature
    - and inderectly emitting new radiation that could in its turn hit – and further heat – Earth´s surface.
    And for me all this works twenty-four-seven, and independently from whether most of the heat could eventually be sent to space by convection or not.
    That´s why I consider that any important and long lasting increase in the concentration of a GHG such as CO2 makes “unavoidable” an increase in global mean temperature.
    I don´t enter the realm of the quantification of the issue made by IPPC or other scientists : I couldn´t even try to understand their models …
    Yours sincerely,
    RMN