The Dessler Cloud Feedback Paper in Science: A Step Backward for Climate Research

December 9th, 2010 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

How clouds respond to warming – the ‘cloud feedback’ problem – will likely determine whether manmade global warming becomes either the defining environmental event of the 21st Century, or is merely lost in the noise of natural climate variability.

Unfortunately, diagnosing cloud feedback from our global satellite observations has been surprisingly difficult. The problem isn’t the quality of the data, though. The problem is figuring out what the cloud and temperature behaviors we observe in the data mean in terms of cause and effect.

So, Andy Dessler’s (a Texas A&M climate researcher) new paper appearing in Science this week is potentially significant, for it claims to have greatly closed the gap in our understanding of cloud feedback.

Dessler’s paper claims to show that cloud feedback is indeed positive, and generally supportive of the cloud feedbacks exhibited by the IPCC computerized climate models. This would in turn support the IPCC’s claim that anthropogenic global warming will become an increasingly serious problem in the future.

Unfortunately, the central evidence contained in the paper is weak at best, and seriously misleading at worst. It uses flawed logic to ignore recent advancements we have made in identifying cloud feedback.

In fact, the new paper is like going back to using only X-rays for medical imaging when we already have MRI technology available to us.

What the New Study Shows

So what is this new evidence of positive cloud feedback that Dessler has published? Well, actually it is not new. It’s basically the same evidence we published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Yet we came to a very different conclusion, which was that the only clear evidence of feedback we found in the data was of strongly negative cloud feedback.

But how can this be? How can two climate researchers, using the same dataset, come to opposite conclusions?

The answer lies in an issue that challenges researchers in most scientific disciplines – separating cause from effect.

Dessler’s claim (and the IPCC party line) is that cloud changes are caused by temperature changes, and not the other way around. Causation only occurs in one direction, not the other.

In their interpretation, if one observes a warmer year being accompanied by fewer clouds, then that is evidence of positive cloud feedback. Why? Because if warming causes fewer clouds, it lets in more sunlight, which then amplifies the warming. That is positive cloud feedback in a nutshell.

But what if the warming was caused by fewer clouds, rather than the fewer clouds being caused by warming? In other words, what if previous researchers have simply mixed up cause and effect when estimating cloud feedback?

A Step Backwards for Climate Science

What we demonstrated in our JGR paper earlier this year is that when cloud changes cause temperature changes, it gives the illusion of positive cloud feedback – even if strongly negative cloud feedback is really operating!

I can not overemphasize the importance of that last statement.

We used essentially the same satellite dataset Dessler uses, but we analyzed those data with something called ‘phase space analysis’. Phase space analysis allows us to “see” behaviors in the climate system that would not be apparent with traditional methods of data analysis. It is like using an MRI to see a type of tumor that X-rays cannot reveal.

What we showed was basically a new diagnostic capability that can, to some extent, separate cause from effect. This is a fundamental advancement – and one that the news media largely refused to report on.

The Dessler paper is like someone publishing a medical research paper that claims those tumors do not exist, because they still do not show up on our latest X-ray equipment…even though the new MRI technology shows they DO exist!

Sound strange? Welcome to my world.

We even replicated that behavior see in the satellite data analyzed with phase space analysis — our ‘MRI for the climate system’ – by using a simple forcing-feedback climate model containing negative cloud feedback. It showed that, indeed, when clouds cause temperature changes, the illusion of positive cloud feedback is created…even when strongly negative cloud feedback really exists.

Why Dessler Assumed We Are Wrong

To Dessler’s credit, he actually references our paper. But he then immediately discounts our interpretation of the satellite data.

Why?

Because, as he claims, (1) most of the climate variability during the satellite period of record (2000 to 2010) was due to El Nino and La Nina (which is largely true), and (2) no researcher has ever claimed that El Nino or La Nina are caused by clouds.

This simple, blanket claim was then intended to negate all of the evidence we published.

But this is not what we were claiming, nor is it a necessary condition for our interpretation to be correct. El Nino and La Nina represent a temporary change in the way the coupled atmospheric-ocean circulation system operates. And any change in the atmospheric circulation can cause a change in cloud cover, which can in turn cause a change in ocean temperatures. We even showed this behavior for the major La Nina cooling event of 2007-08 in our paper!

It doesn’t mean that “clouds cause El Nino”, as Dessler suggests we are claiming, which would be too simplistic and misleading of a statement. Clouds are complicated beasts, and climate researchers ignore that complexity at their peril.

Very Curious Timing

Dessler’s paper is being announced on probably THE best day for it to support the IPCC’s COP-16 meeting here in Cancun, and whatever agreement is announced tomorrow in the way of international climate policy.

I suspect – but have no proof of it – that Dessler was under pressure to get this paper published to blunt the negative impact our work has had on the IPCC’s efforts.

But if this is the best they can do, the scientists aligning themselves with the IPCC really are running out of ideas to help shore up their climate models, and their claims that our climate system is very sensitive to greenhouse gas emissions.

The weak reasoning the paper employs – and the evidence we published which it purposely ignores! – combined with the great deal of media attention it will garner at a time when the IPCC needs to regain scientific respectability (especially after Climategate), makes this new Science paper just one more reason why the public is increasingly distrustful of the scientific community when it comes to research having enormous policy implications.


213 Responses to “The Dessler Cloud Feedback Paper in Science: A Step Backward for Climate Research”

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  1. Andrew Dessler says:

    For an alternative look at Roy’s comments, see my response at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/12/feedback-on-cloud-feedback/

    • MikeC says:

      Andrew Dressler
      Given that your response is at a blog which stifles constructive dissent, I’ll assume that you’re pursuing an agenda and are not worth my time.

  2. Obscurity says:

    This paper had an embargo on it 2 pm EST on 9 November. What time today did you post this article?

    Could you please stop entertaining conspiracy theories and mixing your belief system and politics with science. I’m referring to this “Dessler’s paper is being announced on probably THE best day for it to support the IPCC’s COP-16 meeting here in Cancun, and whatever agreement is announced tomorrow in the way of international climate policy.”

    You are a good scientist, but feeding fodder to “skeptics” and entertaining conspiracies like you have done here (and like you frequently do on your blog) is unbecoming and unprofessional. Also, your accusation that Science chose to release this paper today is a serious one and one that should be supported by evidence, not supposition.

    Consequently, I strongly suspect that you do not like the Dessler’s results, but not for scientific reasons as you so indignantly claim here.

    • leftymartin says:

      Roy’s speculation might seem over-reaching a bit, until of course you read through the Hockey Stick Illusion (Caspar and the Jesus paper etc.), and the climategate emails re: getting papers published, by hook or by crook, in time for the AR4, and, when that failed, change the rules to include them anyway.

      There is a bit of a pattern there that is “undeniable:.

  3. Dr. Spencer, is this reasoning correct:
    1. ENSO is a stochastic phenomena, causing a lot of separate modifications in the ocean/atmosphere system, a higher temperature and increased cloud cover being one of these.
    2. Increased cloud cover dampens the temperature response to ENSO, which would be greater without the negative cloud feedback.

  4. Philip says:

    Andrew Dessler:
    In your post at Real Climate, you quote Roy Spencer as stating that “ENSO is caused by clouds”. But this statement isn’t in the exchange of emails that you reference there, and Spencer states above that this “would be too simplistic and misleading of a statement”. Could you clarify please where this quote comes from?

  5. plazaeme says:

    Andrew Dessler:

    Your quote of Spencer at RC …

    ENSO is caused by clouds. You cannot infer the response of clouds to surface temperature in such a situation.

    … does no appear in the email exchange you provide. In fact you can not find the strings “ENSO is caused”, or “cannot” or “infer” in the PDF file.

    A quote is a quote, and an interpretation is an interpretation.

    • Ryan says:

      Dessler doesn’t claim to quote Spencer on the realclimate post. He clearly states that he is paraphrasing.

  6. Andy Roper says:

    Here’s a question, supposing the IPCC model’s are correct and we could experience runaway Global Warming – what is the limit that Global Temperatures could hit assuming co2 continues to increase at the predicted rate? Or will temperatures rise indefinitely?

    I am of course writing this from the UK which currently resembles a large Popsicle.

  7. Ray says:

    Andy Roper says:
    “I am of course writing this from the UK which currently resembles a large Popsicle.”
    But think how cold it would be if it wasn’t for “global warming”! (In anticipation of the next Met. Office news release on the subject).

  8. Philip says:

    Andrew Dessler:

    Mike has responded to my question at Real Climate: “Our apologies. We assumed it was clear that this was short a paraphrase of the much longer chain of email exchanges linked to. This has now been made explicit.”

    However, it’s still not clear exactly what statement is being paraphrased. I did post at Real Climate again asking for clarification, but unfortunately it hasn’t appeared. Can you offer me any further help here please?

  9. Obscurity says:

    Dessler clearly states that he is **paraphrasing Spencer**.

    This is what Spencer said in his email:

    “The satellite data themselves give us information about he direction of causation! Go back and look at the 2007–?08 La Nina event in our Fig. 4. There is definitely an element of clouds => temperature there (again, the looping indicates a lagged response, which then indicates the direction of causation]”

    My take on that paragraph above is that Spencer believes that changes in clouds preceded the 2007-2008 La Nina. Hopefully Dr. Spencer can explain to us all here what he believes the mechanism to be whereby El Nino and La Nina events are initiated.

    Hopefully Dr. Spencer will point out the folly of some posters here suggesting AGW is a scam because pf cold weather in Europe, and will also point out how much warmer than average it has been over far eastern Canada and Greenland.

  10. harrywr2 says:

    Andrew Dressler,

    I’m particularly alarmed by this quote from the Texas A&M press release.

    “It’s a vicious cycle”

    Anyone with a degree in engineering knows that systems with feed backs that are ‘vicious cycles’ crash and burn.

    If warming causes fewer clouds and fewer clouds causes warming then the oceans would have long ago boiled away.

    Of course if we invert the argument, cooling causes more clouds and more clouds causes more cooling then Pinatubo and the thousands of other volcanic events in earths history would have turned earth into a permanent snowball long ago.

    DO they teach logic at Texas A&M?

  11. Obscurity says:

    MikeC,

    Really, that is the substance of your dismissal of Dessler’s work?

    Go to RC, post a polite comment that speaks to the science. Philip here did and his comment was posted and even responded to. You have no excuse.

    And can I remind you that until quite recently Spencer did not allow comments on his blog, period.

    • TimTheToolMan says:

      I went to Real Climate and posted a polite comment addressing the science and was summarily censored. Real Climate is not interested in the truth or even discussion leading to the truth.

    • markinaustin says:

      seriously Obscurity? you are actually going to defend Real Climate on the grounds of openness? you are losing what little credibility you had…

  12. Philip says:

    Obscurity 3:56 PM

    “Dessler clearly states that he is **paraphrasing Spencer**.”

    In fact, the statement of “paraphrasing” was added in response to my question about this at Real Climate. My subsequent post asking for clarification has so far been rejected.

    • Obscurity says:

      Philip,

      Read the emails, especially the part that I quoted above @3:56 pm. Spencer is clearly suggesting/indicating that for the 2007-2008 La Nina the changes in cloud cover preceded the event.

      If Lindzen has written a follow-up to his debunked 2009 paper, I have not seen it in press yet….

      I just went to RC and saw Mike’s response. You are right about them adding the ‘paraphrase later’. Good on them for correcting it so quickly.

  13. Philip says:

    Andrew Dessler:

    It struck me that one of key aspects of Spencer and Braswell’s 2010 paper was the use of phase space plots to estimate sensitivity using satellite measurements. I cannot find any particular criticism of this approach in your paper, although you do mention that “inferences of large negative feedbacks have also been criticized on methodological grounds”. However, my understanding is that the papers you cite in this respect are criticisms of Lindzen and Choi’s 2009 paper “On the determination of climate feedbacks from ERBE data”, which I understand have been answered by the same authors in a subsequent paper. Could you therefore provide some more detailed criticism of the approach used by Spencer and Braswell in their 2010 paper please?

    (I have also posted this question at your post on Real Climate)

  14. Andy Roper says:

    Obscurity says:

    “Hopefully Dr. Spencer will point out the folly of some posters here suggesting AGW is a scam because pf cold weather in Europe, and will also point out how much warmer than average it has been over far eastern Canada and Greenland.”

    Could you point out where anyone has said this? I guess your username says it all.

  15. Obscurity says:

    Andy,

    Given the context of this site, I misinterpreted the intent of you saying

    “I am of course writing this from the UK which currently resembles a large Popsicle.”

    Good to hear then that you understand what is going on. I hope that you spread the word, because quite incredibly some people in the UK seem to think that this cold bout of weather suggests AGW has stopped.

  16. Nonoy Oplas says:

    To Obscurity,
    Skeptical scientists like Dr. Spencer cannot and should not comment on some politics like the Cancun meeting, but IPCC scientists can? Look at the IPCC Report, only 1 working group on physical science, 2 working groups on mitigation and adaptation, on policies and politics. IPCC reports also come every 5 to 7 years, but UN FCCC global meetings are done yearly, and there are bi-monthly global meetings prior to the Copenhagen and Cancun meeting. It’s about 90% political science and 10% physical science.

    • Obscurity says:

      Nonoy,

      Spencer is free to do whatever he wants, he lives in the USA, a democracy.

      But it hurts Roy’s credibility is when he suggests that Dessler or Science rigged the publication date of this paper was published or when he writes a blog post ridiculing Al Gore and the events at Cancun etc. Also, Spencer comes across as sounding paranoid when he says:

      “that Dessler was under pressure to get this paper published to blunt the negative impact our work has had on the IPCC’s efforts.”

      How has Spencer had a negative impact on the IPCC “efforts” (whatever that means)? Spencer should apologize to Dessler for that unfounded and unsupported allegation.

      Dessler says he is working on more papers right now….and as he said in his email to Spencer:

      “….I certainly acknowledge that my analysis is not definitive and may even be completely wrong…but in my humble opinion it’s a step in the right direction”.

      Dessler is very clearly invested in finding getting to the bottom of this and even concedes that he may be wrong. Spencer makes no such concession, in fact, he seems to be suggesting that everyone else is out to lunch and that only he is privy to the ‘truth’.

      I hope that the content of this post by Spencer is not a sign that the “skeptics” are now going to focus their wrath on Dessler, just as they did against Santer.

  17. TomRude says:

    Typical mediatic “coup” supposed to be a “uncontrovertible proof” of AGW according to IPCC… really falls flat these days…

  18. Andy Roper says:

    Obscurity (What is your real name? First name will do..)

    I do realise that a cold winter here in our small island is irrelevant in the context of the Global temperature – and to argue that because – for two years in a row now, a cold winter means AGW has stopped is foolish.

    However, I used to believe with blind faith that AGW was real. Having now done lots of my own research on the internet, of which some sites are probably nonsense and others perhaps more worthy, I now believe it is so complex that we have to be REALLY careful when implementing policies that COULD restrict growth in the countries of our poorer neighbours.

    Out of everything I have come across this guy http://www.youtube.com/user/potholer54 , in my opinion, gives the most rationale and balanced view on Climate change.

    I also think Roy Spencer comes across as a genuine person with some compelling arguments, and it is important that the Scientific community takes time to address his points. From that point of view Andrew Dressler must be applauded.

    The truth – as I’m sure Einstein and Copernicus would concur – is out there!

    Together, as a Human race, we can find heaven and I believe it is already here, on our amazing and sometimes cruel planet.

    • Obscurity says:

      Andy,

      Thanks for the link. I’m also trying to figure this all out, that is why I am reading blogs on both sides of the debate.

      Spencer does not dismiss the fact that we will warm the planet, he spent a greta deal of time recently explaining the greenhouse effect to readers. My take is that he thinks the warming for doubling CO2 will be near +2 C, the low end of the range reported in the scientific literature.

      I am not comfortable hoping that some yet to be proven major negative feedback is going to kick in and save us from ourselves. Our actions have already had negative consequences and even if the warming does not turn out to be 3 degree warming for doubling CO2, it doesn’t avoid the issues of ocean acidification, or the fact that we will need to rely more and more on fuel sources other than fossil fuels. If we reduce GHG emissions we at the same time reduce pollution, it is a win win. So the sooner we act the sooner we can all start enjoying cleaner water, cleaner air, and savings on energy costs, and dealing with mitigation.

      People are capable of great things when they put their minds to it. This is one such occasion and opportunity, let us not squander it and let us for once be proactive.

      Good night.

      While we are sharing links. Here is another great site that looks at the science.

      http://www.skepticalscience.com

      • Steve Koch says:

        “My take is that he thinks the warming for doubling CO2 will be near +2 C, the low end of the range reported in the scientific literature.”

        The low end calculates that there are negative feedbacks so doubling CO2 would raise the temp less than 1 degree C.

        Roy Spencer seems quite mild mannered. There are many other scientists who are accusing climate scientists (such as Jones and Mann) of corruption and scientific malfeasance. If you would read one of the books about ClimateGate, it might open your mind (but probably not).

  19. Philip says:

    Obscurity 4:36 PM

    “If Lindzen has written a follow-up to his debunked 2009 paper, I have not seen it in press yet.”

    http://www.eike-klima-energie.eu/uploads/media/Lindzen_Choi_ERBE_JGR_v4.pdf

    Submitted to JGR apparently, although I am unsure if it has finally been published.

  20. Obscurity says:

    Thanks for the link Philip,

    Guess we’ll all patiently have to wait and see what the final product looks like.

    • Steve Koch says:

      Seriously?! So your given a link that answers your question and you are too lazy to even read it and comment? That is pathetic.

  21. Jim says:

    Hmmm … after a cold front comes through, the sky is very clear and blue. I guess I missed the clouds.

  22. RW says:

    Dr. Roy (and/or anyone else),

    I’m wondering if I could get your opinion on this:

    Physicist George White has presented a relatively simplistic analysis of climate sensitivity that is basically this:

    The average incident solar energy is about 340 W/m^2. If you subtract the effect of the earth’s albedo (about 30% or 0.3 = 102 W/m^2), you get a net incident solar energy of about 238 W/m^2 (340 – 102 = 238). (*The albedo is the amount of incoming short wave radiation from the sun that gets reflected back out to space off of clouds, snow, ice, etc., and cannot be absorbed by GHGs or contribute to the greenhouse effect, which is why it’s subtracted out).

    From this you take the surface power at the current average global temperature of 288K, which is about 390 W/m^2 (from Stefan Boltzman), and with it you can calculate the gain or the amount of surface warming as a result of greenhouse effect in the atmosphere. To get this you divide the current surface power by the net incident solar power, which comes to about 1.6 (390/238 = 1.6). What this means is that for each 1 W/m^2 of solar input, you get 1.6 W/m^2 of power at the surface due to the presence of GHGs and clouds in the atmosphere – a boost of about 60%. This accounts for all feedbacks, positive and negative, known and unknown, because its an aggregate empirically measured response.

    A doubling of CO2 alone absorbs only about 4 W/m^2 of additional power. About half this is directed upward out to space and the other half is directed downward toward the surface, resulting in a net of about 2 W/m^2. If you then multiply this additional 2 W/m^2 of power by the same gain calculated for solar power (as a result of the greenhouse effect), you get an increase in the surface power of about 3.2 W/m^2 from a doubling of CO2 (2 x 1.6 = 3.2). Using Stefan Boltzman, an additional 3.2 W/m^2 will increase the surface temperature only about 0.6 degrees C (390 + 3.2 = 393.2 W/m^2 = 288.6K). This is much less than the 3 degrees C predicted by the IPCC. Even if you assume all of the 4 W/m^2 from a doubling of CO2 goes to the surface, the temperature increase would still only be 1.2 degrees C – significantly less than the low end of the IPCC’s claimed range of 2 – 4.5 C.

    To get the 3 degrees C claimed by the IPCC, an additional 16 W/m^2 would be needed. This requires a gain of 8 rather than 1.6 (or at least a gain of 4 instead of 1.6 if we assume all of the absorbed power is directed back to the surface). The bottom line is the actual response of atmosphere (from GHGs and clouds) relative to average incident solar power, measured in W/m^2, is far less than the response claimed by the IPCC from a doubling of CO2, which is also measured in W/m^2. A watt/meter squared of power is watt/meter squared of power – whether it’s from the Sun, or redirected back to the surface as a result of more CO2 in the atmosphere.

    In short, this strongly suggests an upper limit of only about 0.6 C from a doubling of CO2, and that the 3 degrees C claimed by the IPCC is way out of bounds. Also, the amount of perturbation involved is absolutely tiny – only 2 W/m^2 from a doubling of CO2 (at most 4 W/m^2 ) out of an existing total of 238 W/m^2 (less than 1 %). It’s doesn’t seem logical that the system is somehow all the sudden going to treat such a small increase radically differently than it does the original 99+ percent. Highly doubtful to say the least.

    Furthermore, his analysis of satellite data shows the net feedback operating on the gain as whole is unambiguously negative, and that clouds appear to be the main mechanism.

    Your thoughts?

  23. RW says:

    And here is a plot of his showing that the relationship of input power to power out isn’t perfectly linear but relatively close:

    http://www.palisad.com/co2/fbe/is.png

  24. Andy Roper says:

    RW says: “Your Thoughts?”

    Cup of Tea anyone?

  25. RW says:

    Well I hope you and others will take the time to read, digest and comment on it. I’ve been researching this subject for very long time – reading lots of books and papers, and I have to say the combination of these two papers by G. White is the most damning evidence against the AGW I’ve ever come across, by a country mile – particularly because, among other things, it clearly shows how quickly the system, in particular cloud coverage, changes in response to changes in radiative forcing (changes far greater than would result from a doubling of CO2).

    I’m not an expert in control theory, so some of the more sophisticated mathematical elements and concepts are beyond my level, which is why I was curious what others might think of George’s work, especially Dr. Roy.

  26. Jacob C says:

    As these good commentors have pointed out, Dr. Spencer at NO time claims that clouds cause ENSO or any other ocean cycle. He is obviously saying that clouds act as forcing via these cycles to cause further changes, and that his evidence points to negative feedback, which Andy (to me) willfully ignored and purposefully made out as bunk when he in no way actually showed exidence for it. I figured he was making stuff up when I first read about this at Climate Progress and then Realclimate. I knew he had to be because in all my readings of Dr. Spencers work he has never made it sound like these cycles are themselves DRIVEN by the clouds. My question, how can a working scientist like Andy D. be so obstensibly thick that he actually reads “clouds cause ENSO” into those emails? I don’t get it. {:-|

  27. Dialla Ingalis says:

    I have noticed that depending on latitude, time of day, and the season of the year that the affect of clouds driving the temperature is very obvious to anyone living there.

    Example, in the North West, in the Summer thick cloud cover always means warm nights and cooler days. In the Fall, Winter, and the Spring, Thick Cloud Cover means warmer days and nights.

    I haven’t read the study but based on my observations, outside of the tropics, thick cloud normally means warmer temperatures except in the summer where they be an off-set in the day time and night-time temperatures.

    Don’t have enough observations of the tropics.

    It definitely seems as if the lack of clouds allows massive cooling to take place.

    Just reporting my observations..

  28. TimTheToolMan says:

    “Read the emails, especially the part that I quoted above @3:56 pm. Spencer is clearly suggesting/indicating that for the 2007-2008 La Nina the changes in cloud cover preceded the event.”

    Dr Spencer never said that clouds caused the event. That is purely spin put on a poor interpretation to attempt to discredit Dr Spencer.

    I tried to post at Real Climate that an alternative interpretation was that Dr Spencer in saying the cloud changes preceeded the event implied that the event did not cause the cloud changes. He didn’t say that cloud changes caused the event and his clarifying comments since have specifically said that its more complicated than that.

    But unfortunately Real Climate isn’t interested in points of view that challenge the rather convenient discrediting meme that has emerged out of this.

  29. Obscurity says:

    TTT,

    You have posted at RC before. Also, didn’t you recently had a lengthy discussion with Gavin Schmidt? So perhaps you have burnt your bridges with your bad behavior and attitude in the past, because Bob Tisdale and Philip have posted at RC.

    Why did you not cross-post your alleged comment here?

    Even better, write a rebuttal to Dessler’s paper in Science. That is what Spencer should do to legitimately make his case.

  30. Obscurity says:

    TTT,

    “Dr Spencer in saying the cloud changes preceeded the event implied that the event did not cause the cloud changes.”

    That may be true. We really need Spencer to elaborate on his thesis much, much more clearly. So far he has failed to clearly communicate his ideas, but I realise that doe snot make him wrong.

    Then again, Trenberth and Soden agree with Dessler. And Andy points out that if we accept Spencer’s hypothesis, then Lindzen is wrong, and vice versa. The coherent and consistent argument is coming from Dessler’s camp.

  31. Bob Tisdale says:

    Obscurity says: “My take on that paragraph above is that Spencer believes that changes in clouds preceded the 2007-2008 La Nina. Hopefully Dr. Spencer can explain to us all here what he believes the mechanism to be whereby El Nino and La Nina events are initiated.”

    The mechanism that initiates an El Nino is a reduction in trade wind strength.

    The discussion of cloud cover during the La Nina should relate to fact that the increase in trade wind strength during a La Nina reduces tropical Pacific cloud amount. The reduction in cloud amount increases downward shortwave radiation, which fuels the next El Nino event.

  32. MikeC says:

    obscurity, While digging some fence posts in the hot sun last summer, I waited for clouds to come along for a reason. I do not need to visit a political hack site run by activists with college degrees masquerading as scientists to understand that I was waiting for the clouds to come along and cool me down. Nor is it any secret, that on average, thunderstorms occur in the afternoon and cool the surface. And I’m certain that the clouds block more and carry away more WM2 than they hold back.
    In the mean time, Roy clearly stated that the clouds were part of a loop. My own observations are that clouds are a necessary part of the ENSO cycle, kind of like counting to 5… you cannot get there unless you pass 3. Simple enough for you?

  33. Obscurity says:

    Bob,

    “The reduction in cloud amount increases downward shortwave radiation, which fuels the next El Nino event.”

    If that were true, then the SSTs should warm during the La Nina event in response to the increased short-wave radiation. Don’t the SSTs start increasing later in the event as the easterlies weaken?

  34. TimTheToolMan says:

    “Also, didn’t you recently had a lengthy discussion with Gavin Schmidt? So perhaps you have burnt your bridges with your bad behavior and attitude in the past, because Bob Tisdale and Philip have posted at RC. ”

    I did have a discussion on RC fairly recently. My question was with regards what would happen to science if a major flaw was found in the models. I was always civil and reasonable with my posts. If bridges were burned then they weren’t burned by me.

    “Why did you not cross-post your alleged comment here?”

    I have above. I didn’t have access to my exact wording because the RC post went from “awaiting moderation” to gone entirely. Clearly I should have copied it but I wasn’t expecting RC to be as blatently biased as they apparently are.

    “Even better, write a rebuttal to Dessler’s paper in Science. That is what Spencer should do to legitimately make his case.”

    I’m sure he will in time.

  35. MikeC says:

    obscurity, I can’t believe I’m reading this… you’re debating a subject which requires a working knowledge of ENSO, yet you do not possess that knowledge. There is this array of objects in the equatorial Pacific called TAO buoys, perhaps you can start there… hint, research water temp changes at depth, response to kelvin waves, MSLP, wind, cloudiness at the date line… oh yeah, and changes in SST’s… then you’ll be on the right track… til then, kindly stop wasting everyones time.

  36. Ross Brisbane says:

    Dr Roy Spencer said:

    Dessler’s claim (and the IPCC party line) is that cloud changes are caused by temperature changes, and not the other way around. Causation only occurs in one direction, not the other.

    I say:

    You say the IPCC is some implied party line. This implies by import that the IPCC is a political biased science. Further you are not happy with the politics somehow. Implying some party line – what if this IPCC was of a conservative bent – would this then make the IPCC above board in science? This is not scientific inquiry Dr Roy. This your opinion on politics. Decoupling science is the solution and please do everyone a favour here. Do not stoop to this thing that right is right and left is a dead beat wrong. It is like reversal status class. That is: One class of community are right and the other always wrong.

    Dr Roy you say:

    In their interpretation, if one observes a warmer year being accompanied by fewer clouds, then that is evidence of positive cloud feedback. Why? Because if warming causes fewer clouds, it lets in more sunlight, which then amplifies the warming. That is positive cloud feedback in a nutshell.

    I say – no this is not quite correct:

    Low-level clouds are involved in a positive feedback mechanism that could exacerbate global warming — according to a study of cloud and temperature records from the north-eastern Pacific Ocean. Scientists in the US have found that low-level cloud cover decreases when the sea surface gets warmer. Fewer clouds mean that more sunlight reaches Earth’s surface, leading to further warming.

    The above is NOT all cloud formations. DR Roy – you should be more careful in attributing the above statement to all cloud formations. As you are aware Australia is experiencing an extreme La Nina. As an Australian we are experiencing one of coolest Summers on record along with the remarkable rainfalls that has broken drought conditions on nearly all areas of the Australian Continent.

    So yes the models are correct when they study the Pacific ocean that are cloudless above associated with high sea temperatures on the surface below and the formations. As we experience drought in Australia along with very dry conditions. Climate models appear contradictory but they are not.

    Cloud – low level formations are NOT associated with less water vapour driven to higher attitudes.

    Models expect extremes of La Nina/El Nino to form based on extreme oceanic temperatures that lump together depending on circulation of the currents that mix the extreme heat build up in the ocean. Radiative forcing of CO2 is expected to continue to be absorbed into the oceans.

    We have extreme heat build up in the Corel Sea North of us. This La Nina stretched more westward and moves eastward toward the Corel Sea. A remarkable equilibrium is at work generating clouds and saturating the atmosphere with water vapour. Anyone who has experienced a cold front from the ocean hitting an inland heat build up late in the day will know the storms that can be generated.

    Dr Roy Spencer:

    But what if the warming was caused by fewer clouds, rather than the fewer clouds being caused by warming? In other words, what if previous researchers have simply mixed up cause and effect when estimating cloud feedback?

    I say:

    The cause and effect. It would appear you consistently leave out the radiative effect of CO2 has on our climate. It called forcing remember. Is this deliberate omission when it comes to your negative feedback cloud hypothesis?

    You go on about fewer clouds but neglect to mention that these studies talk about LOW altitude clouds.

    Further you show no acknowledgement that if the globe is warming (shown by your latest calculations on this site ending 2010) – we will have more WATER vapour in the upper and lower atmosphere.

    Forms of evaporation

    Sublimation, by which water molecules become gaseous directly from ice without first becoming liquid water. Sublimation accounts for the slow mid-winter disappearance of ice and snow at temperatures too low to cause melting.

    Water vapour adds to temperature as a positive rather then negative feedback:

    Water vapor will only condense onto another surface when that surface is cooler than the dew point temperature, or when the water vapor equilibrium in air has been exceeded. When water vapor condenses onto a surface, a net warming occurs on that surface. The water molecule brings heat energy with it. In turn, the temperature of the atmosphere drops slightly. In the atmosphere, condensation produces clouds, fog and precipitation (usually only when facilitated by cloud condensation nuclei). The dew point of an air parcel is the temperature to which it must cool before water vapor in the air begins to condense.

    Also, a net condensation of water vapor occurs on surfaces when the temperature of the surface is at or below the dew point temperature of the atmosphere. Deposition, the direct formation of ice from water vapor, is a type of condensation. Frost and snow are examples of deposition.

    Water condenses -> falls as rain -> air temperature drops -> surface temperature rises where water (condensation is applied to that surface.

    Indeed it will surprise most here that even though there were extremely cold record low temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere on some days because there was so much snow on the ground the temperatures recorded were much milder over the entirety of the those Winter months.

    Applying the following logic:

    If water vapour increases in atmosphere as consequence of global warming would we see any type or more cloud or not?

    If we have more clouds could these potentially bring more snow where those clouds freeze?

    Heat escapes from the earth more at night then day. What climate phenomenon prevents this heat escape at night?

    If we lose heat during the night what is one fast mechanism of energy exchange that would drive the heat rise from either ocean or land and would bring the heat back down to earth?

    My logic tells me that clouds are not negative feedback. For clouds to be negative the earth facing the sun would have entire cloudy skies whilst the night side would have to be totally clear of clouds.

    Observed in very strong EL Ninos are drought conditions as this phenomenon is over very warm oceans that affect Australia’s Eastern Coastal.

    Observed: The present rainfalls in Australia (LA Nina 2010) are NOT solely influenced by cool seas as these DO not reach Australia. Instead the currents are mixing the warmer Coral Sea and causing incredible rainfall (even flooding) in most parts of Continental Australia (States affected are QLD,NSW,VIC,SA)

    The Coral Sea temperatures are at RECORD levels like a heat lump of ocean. Scientists clearly declare – Global warming AGW is the prime cause.

    Finally climate models expected extremes of LA Nina and El Ninos.

    Ross Brisbane

    • Steve Koch says:

      “You say the IPCC is some implied party line. This implies by import that the IPCC is a political biased science…Decoupling science is the solution”

      You misunderstand. The party line does not refer to a particular political party but refers to the IPCC CAGW dogma.

      Yes, the solution is to take the politics out of climate science. Spencer agrees with that. It is a fact that the IPCC is controlled by the UN which is controlled by the governments of the nations of the world. It is a disaster that climate science is so politicized. Part of the solution is to withdraw from the IPCC and start over, without politicians running the show this time.

  37. Obscurity says:

    MikeC,

    No need to be condescending.

    Yes, of course clouds can cool, but they can also warm surface temperatures at night, or more accurately minimize the amount of cooling. This is not something to be flippant about. Clouds are complex.

    With respect, I do not think you understand what is meant by a by a feedback, or what is really at issue here. The debate is this: suppose warming is introduced to the climate system, will clouds respond in such a way so as to enhance that initial warming(positive feedback) or to offset it (negative feedback).

    Rattling off terms like “TAO buoys” and “Kelvin waves” etc. is not an argument and proves nothing. Anyone can do that. For example, you forgot to mention OLR anomalies, changes in thermocline depth, MJO, OHC, delayed oscillator, ONI, MEI, SOI and the myriad of other terms referenced when studying the ENSO… :)

    • lemiere jacques says:

      supposed warming is introduced….the point is here… cause and consequence issues.. the only point under controle is the amount of carbon dioxide WE rar emitting in the atmosphere….it might be possible that we ll never be able to understand little variations in the climate system…for sure we don’t study the climate for enough time to draw strong conclusions…
      Science is settled…no.. models are settled…
      sorry i am french..bad english…

  38. MikeC says:

    BAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA…. obscurity, you crack me up… now go back to that page where you got all the ENSO related terms from and start reading… but don’t try to understand MJO just yet, that’s way too advanced for you.

  39. Obscurity says:

    Excuse me, have I just walked into a Kindergarten class?

    Yes, this is clearly a waste of my time.

    Good night.

  40. JohnD says:

    Some thoughts:
    1. I have a degree in Chemical Engineering, but I am not going to invest the time to learn all the meteorological terms that Dessler uses in his ‘Science’ submission. ‘Science’ is a broad spectrum magazine, one shouldn’t need to be a meteorologist to follow the detailed reasoning of the author’s argument in a ‘Science’ submission. How many non Meteorologists can possibly understand that argument? If one can’t ‘dumb it down’ a notch then one should probably limit their arguments to meteorology journals. Some might think that the complexity of the argument was elevated to a needlessly complicated level to obscure its weaknesses, I can’t say. But I can say with a high degree of confidence that for every person that read that submission, ten others read only the abstract.
    2. Obscurity calls Spencer paranoid, then goes on to post a series of personal attacks which could be used to justify a high level of paranoia. As the saying goes… Is est non minae si they vere es sicco impetro vos …
    It isn’t paranoia if they really are out to get you.
    3. A picture, in this case a chart, is worth a thousand words. The CERES data looks to me as if temperature is following cloud cover consistent with a negative feedback model. But I may just be seeing what I expect to see.
    4. My fallback position, as always, is that as long as proponents of positive feedback models and runaway global warming (correct me if they don’t go hand in hand), can not explain why the earth has never experienced a runaway global warming event at any time in the geologic record, despite numerous periods when the CO2 levels were far above what they are currently, I will continue to believe that cloud cover and water vapor sum to a negative feedback.

    • trrll says:

      Actually, the only part of “Science” that is “broad spectrum” is the News & Perspectives section in the front. The Reviews are generally understandable by readers in related fields, but the Reports are highly specialized, and because of space constraints, highly compressed. Unless a Report is precisely in your field, you are likely to have difficulty following it in any detail. Generally, a Report will reference recent reviews that will provide you with an entry to the literature that (together with the other work referenced) will provide you with the background knowledge and jargon required to understand the Report, but even for the scientifically literate reader, that can be days or weeks of work.

  41. boballab says:

    Obscurity you might want to check your facts on this. Check the screencap of the embargoed paper:

    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/dessler_science2.png

    Notice the date on that is Friday 10 December 2010 which makes the Thursday before that 9 December. That means the paper was embargoed, ie not available online, until 2pm 9 December 2010 not the 9 November you stated.

  42. Bill says:

    Dr. Spencer, I am not persuaded in the correctness of your conclusions, but I respect your science and (mostly) enjoy regularly reading your blog – except ones like this one. I learn from it. I think it is beneath you to wallow in conspiracy theories about the timing of a publication (it is the quality of the science, not the timing that should matter to you). I think you also do yourself a disservice when you question the politics and motivation of scientists who collaborate with the IPCC while simultaneously being so clear about the connection between your science view on climate change, evolution, pesticides etc. and your clear preference for the limited role of govenment in all matters and your religious views. It may make one think that your science is influenced by your fear that particular scientific findings (except those having to do with evolution) might require a government response such as the regulation of a pesticide or a GHG; and therefore the finding itself must be avoided. This is what being a speaker at events such as those sponsored by the Heartland Foundation can lead to since they so obviously would only pay for a point of view that supports limited government. I also think deep down inside, as a scientist, you know there is no there there in the so-called “climate-gate”. It is a mile wide and a millimeter deep. You fan those flames for any rhetorical impact they may have in weaking the position of those who disagree with you. You’re better than that.

  43. Peter says:

    I think its pretty clear. Andy says that he thinks they disagree on the cause of ENSO. Andy says that he believes that ENSO is
    caused by changes in winds changing ocean currents. Andy does not believe that radiative forcings can cause ENSO (i.e. changes in
    clouds would be a radiative forcing “Third, I follow your argument in figure 4 of your paper. However, I don’t think this type of
    lead-lag argument works if the cause o ENSO is non-radiative”).

    From there, Andy states that he does believe that clouds have feedbacks in the ENSO:
    “I do agree that clouds are playing a role in amplifying ENSO, but that’s the cloud feedback and that’s what I’m trying to measure.”

    What was Spencer’s reply. Not that Andy was misunderstanding his point of view and that he also believes that ocean and wind
    currents and not a radiative forcing and is also interested the cloud feedback role in the context of those changes.

    He doesn’t say that because it is untrue.

    He says they’ll have to disagree about ENSO.
    “WhileI agree with you on the MJO, I guess we will have to agree to disagree on ENSO for now.”

    If Spencer doesn’t believe that clouds are causing ENSO, it should have been clear from the e-mails that is what Andy thinks he
    thinks, and Spencer should have corrected Andy’s belief in the paper. If Spencer doesn’t believe that radiative forces (e.g.
    clouds) don’t play a major role in CREATING ENSO, then he should put together a blog about and explain his response to Andy in these
    e-mails.

  44. MikeC says:

    Bill, Given that you are using Dressler’s word “conspiracy” which it was not represented as. This isn’t a conspiracy, it’s political strategy… PR… nothing new in this debate… and given that Dressler decided to post all of this on a political hack site, I’d say you’re just in here being a part of that PR campaign. But you’re going to have to learn to live with somethig… Climategate is and was real, and you have a lot of PR’ing to do to get out of that hole… so perhaps you can get with a different cause… ya know… like the ozone hole or sumptin?

    • Ross Brisbane says:

      You have just proven how inflammatory any moves to be political in science can be.

      Political clichés:

      Gore’s climate,
      the tiresome Climategate,
      the IPCC left bents,

      This is NOT science dialogue.

      It is your own hostility that turns sensible debates into a war zone.

      You want the war zone to continue unabated.

      Ross

  45. Peter says:

    JohnD: That’s the nature of Science papers and is true for any paper in Science. Due to page length restrictions on Science submissions they are full of technical jargon w/ little introduction or background. It isn’t just this paper or metereology.

  46. Peter says:

    “If Spencer doesn’t believe that clouds are causing ENSO, it should have been clear from the e-mails that is what Andy thinks he
    thinks, and Spencer should have corrected Andy’s belief in the paper.”

    Paper at the end should be e-mail. It should have been clear in the e-mails that Andy thinks that Spencer thinks that ENSO is caused by radiative forces. Spencer does nothing to correct that point of view in the e-mails and simply says they are going to have to agree to disagree.

    Spencer could have tried to correct that point of view in the e-mail.

  47. Andy Roper says:

    Weird looking, long “Guinness” cloud over Brighton, UK this morning: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andyjr1975/5248705578/

  48. Ray says:

    Obscurity says:
    “Good to hear then that you understand what is going on. I hope that you spread the word, because quite incredibly some people in the UK seem to think that this cold bout of weather suggests AGW has stopped.”
    What those of us who actually study the data know, is that UK temperatures in general (not just winters), have been steadily falling since 2007, despite the fact that the U.K. Met.Office said that that winters would get milder AND that annual temperatures would rise more quickly than global temperatures. Also, what we know is that global warming has slowed down (as defined by HadCRUT3 and recently admitted by the Met.Office) over the last decade. The current spate of cold weather is probably part of the natural variation from the mean rising trend but so were the periods of warming which were used in the past as “proof” that warming was actually increasing.

  49. Bob Tisdale says:

    Obscurity says: “If that were true, then the SSTs should warm during the La Nina event in response to the increased short-wave radiation. Don’t the SSTs start increasing later in the event as the easterlies weaken?”

    Refer to the Pavlakis et al 2008 paper “ENSO surface shortwave radiation forcing over the tropical Pacific”. (I’d leave a link but then you’d have to wait for the comment to be moderated)

    During the La Nina, any DSR-based SST warming east of the Pacific Warm Pool has to be counteracted by the increase in upwelling, but the surface and subsurface currents and trade winds are piling the warmed water in the PWP for the next El Nino. This agrees with the Levitus et al OHC data for the tropical Pacific. Same with the TAO project warm water volume and depth-averaged temperature.

  50. It is a contention on a character of Mother Gaia. Dr. Spencer tells us she is a mother of good integrity for who proactive stability and of course also cycles are peculiar. The negative feedback is resilience and integrity of Mother Earth (Gaia). The positive feedback and high climate sensitivity is a claim that there is no Gaia but there is a Gaina – a deviant hysterical bitch who runs amuck after the slightest stimulus and collapses due to the tiniest pettiness. No life supporting mother of integrity keeping her children in spite of all ravaging but a hysterical anorectic permanently immature deviant hoyden.

    It is a dispute on Gaia hysteria versus Gaia’s mother integrity. Let’s call it dispute on climate hysteria!

  51. MarkR says:

    In this paper, cloud feedback is inferred from the dT vs dR gradient.

    I’m a little confused by this… we look at quick temperature changes (so that the dR doesn’t decay in time as we approach equilibrium), which makes sense.

    El Nino does cause atmospheric warming (can’t we tell that from the heat being dumped by the higher mean SSTs?) – if the clouds are also responsible for much of the atmospheric warming seen then in fact isn’t the total feedback more likely to be higher?

    Or does ENSO affect cloud formation through non-mean-temperature effects? (in the same way that it disrupts hurricane formation whilst some models expect more hurricane activity with secular warming)

  52. Mervyn Sullivan says:

    The following comment perfectly sums it all up in a nutshell:

    “The Dessler paper is like someone publishing a medical research paper that claims those tumors do not exist, because they still do not show up on our latest X-ray equipment…even though the new MRI technology shows they DO exist!”

  53. wws says:

    “obscurity” is obviously just another quasi-academic fraud who has spent his life trying to prove that he’s “important” and people should listen to him since he’s going to SAVE THE WORLD!

    Too bad, his life will sink even deeper into “Obscurity” – in 3 more weeks a new Congress guarantees that the US is out of this ridiculous climate scam forever.

    And as the US, Japan, China, India, and the 3rd world all check out of this nonsense for good even Europe will find that these measures do nothing but transfer jobs from their areas to more realistic areas of the world. And that’s the bottom line.

  54. Ingenieur says:

    There are a number of posts above conflating positive feedbacks with runaway warming.

    This is a common misconception. Whilst individual feedbacks (eg clouds) may be positive, and total feedback net of radiation is certainly positive, the overall feedback is negative due to Stephan-Bolzmann. It’s simply different terminology in climatology vs engineering.

    Arguing for positive feedback is NOT the same as boiling the oceans dry, it results in an amplification of forcings, not a runaway.

    Regardless of whether Dessler or Spencer are right on clouds, consider what a positive feedback hypothesis would predict. Rather than steady and slow temperature changes as forcings change we might expect dramatic shifts in climate, and large scale changes in glaciation. In other words, exactly what the Vostok ice core shows as insolation changes only subtly.

    Clouds are interesting, but paleoclimate evidence precludes low climate sensitivity regardless.

  55. TO DYLAN

    LETS TALK ABOUT ITEMS THAT CONTROL THE CLIMATE

    SUN

    The sun’s activity did not start a significant decline
    until Oct.2005, and prior to that time it was mostly very very active. One has to appreciate the cumulative effect a weak sun will have on the climate, along with a substancial lag time, of most likely 5 to 30 years. These things need time to play out.
    In addition the sun is presently having an impact on the climate, by causing the atmospheric circulation to be much more merdional, then it would be otherwise, due to the fact when solar activity is weak, the polar stratosphere tends to warm relative to the stratosphere in lower latitudes giving a tendency for the AO/NAO to be more negative.

    It will be very interesting going forward to see how deep and long this present solar minimum will be. I like to look at the solar flux and k index values to see what kind of an impact the sun is having on our atmosphere.

    VOLCANOS – Again a lag time of at least a year and where the activity is ,is very important,because when volcanos erupt in the high latitudes and eject SO2 into the atm. they again will cause the stratosphere to warm more in the polar regions ,in contrast to lower latitudes. Again a more meridional circulation. In contrast, if they should happen in low latitudes a more zonal circulation will happen, and on another note ,volcanic eruptions in lower latitudes tend to promote El Nino’s as oppossed to La Nina’s.

    IF ONE GOES BACK IN HISTORY ONE WILL SEE A CORRELATION OF INCREASED VOLCANIC ACTIVITY DURING PROLONG SOLAR MINIMUMS.

    SOI OSCILLATION- This also seems to be tied into solar activity to some degree with La Nina ,much more likely during long solar minimums. La Nina’s will serve to cool the earth’s atmosphere, but has a lag time of 7 to 9 months.

    PDO/AMO -PDO now in cold phase ,again lag times have to be appreciated, and the up shot is this cold PDO phase will serve to bring global temperatures down over the coming years. Again lag time. AMO ,should start it’s cold phase by year 2015.

    These are the factors that control the climate and they have a much greater impact in the N.H., in contrast to the S.H. because of the distribution of land versus ocean. Also most of the active volcanos in the high latitudes ,are located in the N.H.

    ALBEDO CHANGES- Again lag time, and it will happen to a much greater degree in the N.H. due to the large expanse of land area which has a low specific heat compared to water and whose surface can change from soil cover, to snow cover very quickly.
    This ties in with the more meridional circulation which will promote more N.H. land areas to be covered by more ice/snow ,then if the atmospheric circulation was more zonal.

    I predict if solar activity remains as is, this will be the decade of global cooling. We have entered the first phase which is the LESS ZONAL atm. circulation.SECOND PHASE will be when the pressure heights start to lower over the entire globe, which I think will start soon, but the pressure heights, will lower more in the mid latitudes, contrasted to the poles.

    LASTLY -CO2 has no effect on the climate. All one has to do ,is go back in history, to see that is true. Just look at the CO2 levels during the Ordovcian Period or Carboniferous Period, or more recent ,just look at the sudden drastic temp. changes independent of CO2, a recent example of this being the Younga Dryas.

  56. DYLAN

    THE REAL REALATIOSHIP BETWEEN SOLAR AND TEMPERATURE

    BY PIERS CORBYN,

    I WILL QUOTE HIS CONCLUSIONS -And you will see why lag times are important and it is not as simple as you think it is, and more time is needed to see what effect this current solar minimum will have on the temperature trend.

    FROM PIERS, It has been known for many years that solar activity(eg sunspot numbers or anything which follows the 11 year cycle) is NOT a detailed driver of world temperatures(ie on time scales of less than one solar cycle);this is evidenced by the FACT that the main signal in world temperatures is the magnetic Hale *(22 yr) cycle.

    So for about half of the time solar activity(eg smoothed on a 3 yr moving average) and temperatures move together, and about half the time they move oppositely.

    So what he is saying ,is during a solar minimum temp. trend is going to be down in the general trend, but at times the temp. trend will be running counter to the solar activity.

    This is much more complicated then what you, and all of the global warmist are willing to admit, and more important requires time to play out.

    Also lunar modulation of solar activity comes into play, because it modulates the magnetic linkage between the earth and sun, and this is where it is at, as far as the sun’s effects on earth’s climate are concerned. It is the magnetic linkage.

    As far as my phase in, the only way to get a possible substancial phase in of the items I mentioned ,in either direction is through a very weak sun ,or a very strong sun, anything in between will result in mix signals.

    Last century we had a strong sun ,starting in 2005 we have a weak sun, if the sun stays weak,then I feel the chances of all the items I have mentioned phasing into a colder mode,for a substancial time frame will be much greater, and that along with weaker solar irradiance /weaker solar wind will be enough to casue a substancial drop off in temperatures.

    We will see what this decad brings, I predict global cooling.

    LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MAN MADE CO2 GLOBAL HOAX

    Their latest attempt is to try to say clouds create a positve feeddback which they hav no supporting evidence for. I believe like Dr. Spencer ,that it is a negative feedback.

    ALSO HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS.

    Why in the past when temperatures were warming and CO2 was increasing ,along with the assumed positive feedbacks did that not keep going?

    I know what you might say, you might say it is because CO2 cconcentratins became less after a time, and I say how could that be if temperature trends are on the rise and the oceans are warming giving up more CO2, and all the associated positve feedbacks are in place. Why in the world given that, would the CO2 concentration ,along with other greenhouse gasses revert ,if that is what your side would claim for the reason why temperatures when CO2 increased ,did not keep going up.
    Why would the positive feedbacks end?

  57. 1. Following Harrywr2, it may be noted that any bounded dynamical system has negative feedback. If the long-term dynamics are non-equilibrial, there’s also positive feedback.

    2. Finite-dimensional dynamical systems – that’s ODEs as opposed to PDE’s – evolve in phase space, every point of which uniquely determines the motion. For non-equilibrium systems, some regions of the phase space are contracting; others, expanding. The Lorenz equations (for the usual parameters) are a good example. One can prove that there’s a trapping region into which trajectories enter and within which they remain. But within that region, there’s both expansion and contraction – hence the non-equilibrium character of the motion. See Collin Sparrow’s wonderfully lucid book published, I think in the early 1980s.

    3. PDEs, which is what you need to model planetary atmospheres, are effectively infinite dimensional, i.e., there is a sense in which they are equivalent to an infinite number of ODEs. One hopes that a finite-dimensional approximation is useful, i.e., that the long-term dynamics collapse down to a finite- (and suitably low-) diminensional subspace. In most cases, the proof is unfortunately in the pudding. One thing to beware of – different truncations can yield different behaviors. Again the Lorenz equations provide an example. The system usually studied is a third order truncation of the PDE. Early on, and I do not recall the reference, higher order truncations were shown to manifest different behaviors.

    4. There is a theorem due to Floris Takens that is used to justify phase space reconstruction from single variable time series. Essentially, the theorem proves that certain invariants of an n-dmensional system can be extracted from a surrogate system constructed from a univariate time series of an “observable,” i.e., something that can be measured. This holds for “almost all” observables which means that if you have a box of them and choose one at random, the probability of choosing one for which the theorem holds is 1. That having been said, there are an infinite number of choices for which it doesn’t – think on the difference between countably and uncountably infinite sets.

    5. Takens theorem tells us that the dimension of the original system is n, embedding the time series in a surrogate space of (2n+1) dimensions guarantees the aforementioned correspondence. This is a sufficient, but not necessary condition. Often one can get away with fewer dimensions, and it is in such cases, that the technique is useful – see the work by Swinney and his associates on the B-Z reaction back in the 1980s.

    6. As in the case of approximating a PDE by a set of ODEs, one doesn’t know if the technique will work until one tries.
    How does that phase space reconstruction works absent the ability to compare motion in the surrogate space with motion in the origial which is generally not known? In a word, one doesn’t. One can, however, easily determine when it doesn’t. Specifically, if trajectories in an m-dimensional reconstruction manifest self-crossing, the basic uniqueness property of ODEs is violated. Then one needs to try a higher dimensional embedding. Or you can posit that the time series is a mixture of noise and determinism, with the self-crossings resulting from stochastic peturbations. This opens an extremely nasty can of worms.

    7. To summarize, Dr. Spencer is doing Takens, and the reconstructions that I’ve seen have lots of self-crossing, which is unfortunate, but unsurprising. All, however, is not lost.

    8. Most climate scientists, including some who should (and probably do) know better, admit that the climate system is chaotic, but imagine that this amount to a simple, i.e., equilibrial, behavior fuzzed out by noise. Gavin Schmidt put forth some choice nonsense of this sort a while back, the important point being that it is nonsense. To the contrary, chaotic systems have a particular topology that translates into properties of the climate system with which we are all familiar – namely the cycles that go by names like PDO. The essential point is that chaotic sets are organized about such cycles in the sense that every point on the set is arbitarily close to such a cycle. By necessity, the cycles have the stability properties of saddles, so they drift in and out of the data as the evolving trajectory shadows first one and then another. Elsewhere (Energy and Environment) I discuss this at length, but the important point is that the existence of such cycles is a necessary consequence of chaotic motion. Show me the simulation that iterates to this essential attribute of the data, and I’ll be willing to consider the simulation’s response to exogenous forcing. Til then, it’s just garbage in, garbage out.

  58. The global waming crowd is out to lunch, and they cannot appreciate or understand or accept lag times, cumulative effects, degree of magnitude and duration, and the phasing in of natural events, that shape and control earth’s climate.

    They think because the sun started a solar minimum in 2005, and temperatures are still high, that the connetion is weak or not even there, despite the fact that every prolong solar minimum nomatter what time period you have, has had the same result ,lower temperatures.

    Now these factors that control the climate, and they are connected ,I believe to prolong solar activity, I will mention; but before I mention all of them, I want to discuss two conerstones of my theory.

    There are two cornerstones to why I think this will be the DECADE OF GLOBAL COOLING, due to minimum solar activity.

    First -there will be more volcanic activity ,which if one looks back in the past, correlates to prolong minimum solar activity. So the excuse that it is the volcanic activity independent of solar activity if temp. should fall, will not fly.

    SECONDLY- I say and, it is being shown, that when solar activity has a prolong minimum ,the circulation of the atm becomes much more meridional, and this leads to an increase in albedo in the N.H ,due to more ice/snow cover, as a consequence of this circulation ,and more cloud cover which is a NEGATIVE FEEDBACK, NOT A POSITIVE FEEDBACK.

    The S.H. is effected but not as much, due to the large expanse of water, and this explains how the N.H. can be much more effected then the S.H., even though the same processes are involved.

    LOW SOLAR PHASE IN ITEMS

    During prolong low solar activity these items which control the climate, I believe will have a much better opportunity to phase in ,and in conjunction with the weak solar activity itself ,decrease the earth’s energy balance enough, to result in a substaancial temperature drop over time.

    They are

    SOLAR ACTIVITY

    VOLCANIC ACTIVITY

    COLD PDO/AMO

    SOI OSCILLATION MORE LA NINA VERSUS EL NINO

    AO,NAO ATM CIRCUALTION MORE NEGATIVE -INCREASE ALBEDO AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THIS.

    Most of the time these items do not phase in the same direction with one another long enough, and to a degree of magnitude strong enough, to give a dramatic temperature change, but sometimes (during prolong solar activity either active on inactive) the opportunity comes, which could at the very least create substancial temperature change, if not a possible threshold to be met, if these items phase in long enough ,strong enough, over a sufficent length of time.

    I put what I have said in these post , up against the weak man made global warming CO2 HOAX any day of the week.

    CO2 AND SOME OF IT’S WEAKNESSES

    First of all it is only 390 ppm, and has only increase 100ppm ,and I can’t believe the earth’s climatic system could be so sensitive to this, even if one assumes the PHONY POSITIVE FEEDBACKS have some merit, which they don’t.

    Second- the wavelengths that CO2 is efficent in absorbing, combined with water vapor, are pretty much the same, and they are already saturated ,so that adding more CO2 will not have the desired effects.

    Third- the famous hot spot over the lower troposheric equator, is missing in action.

    Fourth- CO2 follows the temperature, it does not lead the temp.

    Fifth – explain the Orovician Ice Age, when CO2 concentrations were 4000 ppm

    Sixth- Explain why earth has had many dramatic temp. events (ex Younga Dryas) independent of CO2 concentrations, and that the warming from 1700-1800 was more substancial, then that from 1900-2000.

    Go back in time ,anytime period ,and one will find large temperature variations not connected to CO2 concentrations, and if one wants to make the case they are connected and earth’s climate system is so SENSITIVE TO CO2, why then once a CO2 /increase temperature trend seems to get started, does it always revert back?

    Answer the questions, global man made warmist crowd, you can’t ,you have no answer, because everything your side claims is nothing but BS!!!

    THIS POSITIVE FEEDBACK/ CLOUD COVER ,IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF THE LATEST BS ATTEMPT!

    SVENSMARK, CLAIMS THE OPPOSITE BY THE WAY.

  59. Peter says:

    salvatore del prete
    “Why in the past when temperatures were warming and CO2 was increasing ,along with the assumed positive feedbacks did that not keep going?”

    Because even positive feed backs in this context have limits. They aren’t increasing the amount of solar output that reaches the Earth.

    http://iopscience.iop.org/0034-4885/68/6/R02/pdf/0034-4885_68_6_R02.pdf

    “Similar greenhouse effects also occur on our nearest planetary neighbours, Mars and Venus,
    both of which possess atmospheres with carbon dioxide as the main constituent. Venus, about
    the same size as the Earth, possesses an atmospheric pressure at its surface of about 100
    times that on the Earth. This generates a very large greenhouse effect resulting in a surface
    temperature of about 500°C—a dull red heat. What has occurred on Venus is an example of
    what has been called the ‘runaway’ greenhouse effect. Being closer to the sun than the Earth,
    during its early history, water vapour, a powerful greenhouse gas, would have been a dominant
    constituent of the atmosphere. Its strong greenhouse effect would have exerted a large positive
    feedback and led to all the water boiling away from the surface. There is no possibility of such
    runaway greenhouse conditions occurring on the Earth.”

    We aren’t talking about feed backs that affect the sun or the distance the Earth is from the sun.

  60. Peter says:

    “IF ONE GOES BACK IN HISTORY ONE WILL SEE A CORRELATION OF INCREASED VOLCANIC ACTIVITY DURING PROLONG SOLAR MINIMUMS.”

    Is there a credibile reference for this?

  61. Comparison of the temperatures at corresponding pressures in the atmospheres of Venus and Earth conclusively prove, to any competent physicist if not climate scientist, that there is no greenhouse effect as promulgated by the IPCC on either planet.

    Venus: No Greenhouse Effect

    These comparisons also unequivocally indicate that both atmospheres are warmed by the same portion of the Sun’s radiation, as the (essentially constant) ratio of the temperatures is basically just that derived from their relative distances from the Sun, nothing else. Venus’s atmosphere obviously doesn’t care that a good deal of the incident visible radiation is reflected off the clouds there, so the IR portion of the incident radiation is responsible for warming of both planets–in particular, heat radiation from the surface does not add to the temperature of the Venusian atmosphere, over the range of Earth atmospheric pressures. Thus both atmospheres are primarily and overwhelmingly warmed from above, by the incident IR radiation from the Sun, not from below, by surface emissions. Different wavelengths of the incident IR radiation of course are absorbed at different altitudes, as we would expect from the established hydrostatic lapse rate (and knowing that the wavelength of IR absorption and emission varies with the temperature), and as we know from IR images looking down on the Earth to different depths at different wavelengths (shorter wavelengths seeing to greater depths). IR radiation–emission and absorption–in the atmosphere is just heat conduction by radiation, and can only facilitate heat transfer according to the overall lapse rate (or localized conditions such as temperature inversions)–it cannot trap, slow, or (above all) amplify the heat energy provided by the Sun.

  62. Christopher Game says:

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    You write: “We used essentially the same satellite dataset Dessler uses, but we analyzed those data with something called ‘phase space analysis’. Phase space analysis allows us to “see” behaviors in the climate system that would not be apparent with traditional methods of data analysis.”

    Interesting use of the word “traditional”. I would have used it differently. I would have said that phase space analysis is traditional in science, and that that climatologists’ non-use of it was, in the most charitable reading, eccentric or bizarre, not “traditional”. I mean that it seems that what is “traditional” for climatologists who work in the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” paradigm, is on the most charitable reading eccentric or bizarre as seen by the rest of scientists.

    Your use of phase space analysis is a step from the bizarre usage of the IPCC paradigm towards the ordinary world of science, which I would call traditional. It is good to see you making this step in the right direction.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  63. RB says:

    Ingenieur,
    There is no conflict in definition of positive feedback between engineering and climatology. The claim about a difference in definitions only arises from incompetent engineers on the skeptic side of the climate debate. Look up Barkhausen criterion for instance.

    • Massimo PORZIO says:

      I’m probably one of the engineers you refer too, but I read of the difference on what “feedback” means for climate from people who support stable-only-positive-feedbacks-systems.
      Why do you cite the Barkhausen criterion which applies for stable amplitude sinusoidal oscillating systems only?
      In theory (but only there) a positive feedback system locks its output to a constant valid value, if and only if, you substitute the feedback signal to the input signal but you should do it in zero time and without any superimposition of the two signals.

      Massimo

    • Massimo PORZIO says:

      Ok,
      you are right and I was wrong.
      I returned to the books of school and did some computation, so I found that also positive feedback can be stable if they are under the Barkhausen criterion level.
      I’d been misled by the fact the in electronics positive feedbacks amplifier are almost never used because of the typical high gain of the open loop amplifier which made positive feedback very hard to stabilize, especially for DC coupled amplification.
      I apologize for missing the point.

      Massimo

  64. Philip says:

    Andrew Dessler:

    Thank you for your response to my question #43 – I very much appreciate your answers. You suggest that SB 2010 argues that it is not possible to identify a climate feedback from the observed variations. But from my reading, what they say is that you are likely to obtain an incorrect answer with the method used in your paper. Instead, they suggest that a better approach is to use a phase space plot in which linear striations represent the feedback. They also provide a simple theoretical model that demonstrates this why this should be so.

    I apologise for persisting with this issue, but I want to understand better and I think this difference in calculational approach is important. As far as I can tell, the difference in approach has nothing particularly to do with clouds or ENSO variations – it is simply that there are two different ways of analysing the satellite data in order to obtain an estimate of feedbacks. Would you explain please, why you prefer the method of analysing the data used in your paper to the method described in SB 2010?

    [I'm posting this here because it was rejected at RC - at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/12/feedback-on-cloud-feedback/ - and I can't see any obvious reason for this - I'm also reposting at RC in case the rejection was a mistake]

  65. I challenged Dr. Dessler recently by posting about his recent climate debate he had, and all the wronginformation he was giving out. He never replied. I was not surprised, because when they are confronted by someone that can challenge them and hold there ground, they will either ignore the individual, or appear to give somekind of a round about answer that makes them appear to be more reasonable. I expected as much.

  66. How one can use VENUS, as a proxy that might happen to earth, is beyond me.

    Again I have to take issue with this positive feedback/CO2 connection, because of what the global warm crowd keeps saying, which is the earth’s climatic system is so sensitive to CO2 and it’s positive feedbacks, that even a scant increase of 100ppm, over the last 100 years, bringing the total to 390 ppm, is going to turn the climate system upside down.

    If that is so, why did this not happen in the past ,when CO2 concentrations were not only greater then tOday ,but increased as muCh or more during certain times in the past? I only say it, because of what the global warmest keep claiming, which is how SENSITIVE earth’s climatic system is to CO2.

    DR. NO ANSWER DESSLER WILL NEVER RESPOND TO SUCH QUESTIONS, ESPECIALLY THESE THAT FOLLOW THAT I BROUGHT UP.

    question 1 -Explain why the earth had an Ice Age during the Ordovcian Period when CO2 concentrations were 4000ppm, if earth’s climatic system is so sensitive to CO2?

    question 2- Explain why during the Caboniferous Period when earth’s CO2 concentrations were similar to today’s we had glacial periods?,

    question 3 It earth’s climatic system is so sensitive to CO2 and it’s positive feedbacks, how do you explain all the rapid temperature changes the Ice Cores show for earth’s past climate,independent of CO2 concentrations?

  67. Philip says:

    My repost has been rejected as well, which I guess demonstrates what so many people say about Real Climate. However, I may have got an answer of sorts to my question in Andrew’s reply to Fred #56. He says:

    “Fred: I would not categorize Spencer’s 2010 paper as an approach; it’s more of an argument. Basically, he’s saying that if you don’t know what’s causing the temperature change, determining feedbacks is impossible. My argument with Roy is not over whether that’s correct, but over my contention that, with ENSO, we know what’s causing the temperature change. Spencer is not describing a new or different way to determine the feedback.”

    As far as I know, the substantive parts of Andrew’s reply to Fred are both untrue:

    [1] Andrew says that SB 2010 is “saying that if you don’t know what’s causing the temperature change, determining feedbacks is impossible.” But my understanding is that SB 2010 is suggesting you can estimate feedbacks by examining the phase space plot and that the paper provides a theoretical reason why that should be so.

    [2] Andrew says that SB 2010 is “not describing a new or different way to determine the feedback.” But again my understanding is that SB 2010 is doing precisely that by using the phase space plot.

    I’m certainly not a climate scientist (although I’ve been involved in physics research in the past) so it is quite possible that I’ve missed the point somewhere along the line. But please, if I have got things twisted then can you set me right?

    Assuming I’m not totally off course, then right now the discussion at Real Climate simply seems surreal. I’ve politely asked the same question in several different ways, and have not received a coherent answer. In brief, I’d like Andrew to (a) Respond to the criticism I read in SB 2010 regarding doing a best fit to the flux/temperature anomaly plot and (b) Explain why his best fit approach is preferable to the phase space approach used in SB 2010.

    How is it possible to compare the two approaches without this kind of information?

  68. DESSLER is going to be proven wrong ,it is not if, but when.

    My explanation of why the climate changes which I have laid out is far more convincing and reasonable then this CO2 moranic ,man made global warming theory they keep trying to put out with all kinds of false conclusions and from their phony positive feedbacks.

    I mean the so called hot spot in the lower troposphere near the equator due to the positive feedbacks of more latent heat being relased due to increase water vapor ,due to increase of CO2 , is still missing in action.

    That in itself should be enough to tell anyone with an objective view that the models ,just like the people feeding them the data,are just really grasping at straws.

  69. The problem with most of the discussion on this board is it is so narrow, and it is leaving out so many other reasons for climate change. If I had not posted,one would think the only considerations for climate change, were the CO2 concentrations, and it’s positive or negative feedbacks, which is just so narrow.

    There is so much more to this climate story, which I hope I was able to bring out. With that I am done.

  70. VOLCANIC ACTIVITY VERSUS SOLAR, I ALMOST FORGOT TO ADDRESS

    If oneu goes back,let’s take year 1600 and plots all major volcanic eruptions with an explosive index of 5 or higher ,you will see that over 85% of then have happened during low solar activity. Is this for real, you decide, but that is the case.

  71. Obscurity says:

    boballab says @December 9, 2010 at 10:41 PM

    You are right, I clearly got my dates wrong. Of course, I meant to say “December”.

    Spencer owes both Science and Dessler a sincere apology:

    http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/12/science-criticized-in-cancun-for.html

  72. denis says:

    Svensmark and his compatriots make the case that clouds, rather than being influenced by climate actually dictate climate. Given that his theory dates back to around 1995, possibly even a bit earlier, and we’ve basically had a flat temperature line since then, he’s looking a lot more credible these days than the folks at IPCC and its two CRUs.

  73. Peter says:

    Philip.

    Try reading even the abstract of Spencer’s paper:

    “Only in the idealized special case of instantaneous and then constant radiative forcing, a situation that
    probably never occurs either naturally or anthropogenically, can feedback be observed in
    the presence of unknown radiative forcing. This is true whether the unknown radiative
    forcing is generated internal or external to the climate system. In the general case, a mixture
    of both unknown radiative and nonradiative forcings can be expected, and the challenge
    for feedback diagnosis is to extract the signal of feedback upon nonradiatively forced
    temperature change in the presence of the noise generated by unknown time?varying
    radiative forcing. These results underscore the need for more accurate methods of diagnosing
    feedback from satellite data and for quantitatively relating those feedbacks to long?term
    climate sensitivity.”

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/Spencer-Braswell-JGR-2010.pdf

    In the real world, if you have an unknown radiative forcing, then you can’t determine the feedback.

    Andrew is saying with respect to causing ENSOs that clouds aren’t a significant radiative forcing because clouds don’t cause ENSOs. Spencer’s point only makes sense if clouds cause ENSOs.

  74. Obscurity says:

    Denis,

    “Given that his theory dates back to around 1995, possibly even a bit earlier, and we’ve basically had a flat temperature line since then”

    I’m sorry, but that claim is not correct. Svensmark’s hypothesis (not theory) has been refuted over and over again. And even if there is a GCR mechanism at work, it is is likely very small, certainly smaller than the radiative forcing from doubling CO2. SkepticalScience has a good review in their advanced section on GCRs.

    As for your claim that global temperatures have been “basically flat” since the cherry-picked 1995 date in the HadCRUT3 data, that too is wrong. Here are the trends in the NASA, RSS, UAH and HadCRUT3 between 1995 and the most recent data point (values in brackets are rates for the satellite record, 1979-present):

    NASA: +0.167 C/decade (+0.167 C/decade)
    HadCRUT3: +0.112 (+0.157)
    UAH:+0.149 (+0.141)
    RSS: +0.126 (+0.163)

    Data analysis done at woodfortrees. Rate of warming in Spencer’s UAH data is higher for 1995-present than for 1979-present.

    See also Hansen et al. (2010, Rev. Geophys):
    “We conclude that global temperature continued to rise rapidly in the past decade, despite large year-to-year fluctuations associated with the El Nino-La Nina cycle of tropical ocean temperature. Record high global temperature during the period with instrumental data was reached in 2010.”

  75. Major Mike says:

    Obscurity

    Skeptics are not alone in sometimes citing weather (cold snaps, record low temperatures) as climate trend. Al Gore was awarded a Nobel Prize for that very thing. When or where did Al Gore mention that current warming started around 1850, at the end of the Little Ice Age? Or that there have been at least six periods of greater or equal natural warming in the Holocene, including most recently the Medieval Warm Period?

    “An Inconvenient Truth” is replete with examples of weather (Katrina, floods, a strong storm drowning three polar bears, etc.) that Al Gore cites as proof of AGW (or climate change). Kilimanjaro is prominently featured, even though its glacier retreat occured predominantly prior to 1900 and had nothing to do with warming (the glacier field never warms above freezing – Al never heard of sublimation?). Then there’s the 20 feet of sea rise by 2100 compared to about six inches in the past century (and 420 feet in the past 11,000 years, an average of four feet per century).
    What explains that cooling always beginnings when atmospheric CO2 is relatively high? If increasing CO2 causes warming, why can’t high levels of CO2 prevent cooling?
    I’m glad Al Gore brought the Vostok ice cores to our attention, showing that changes in CO2 follow, not precede, changes in temperature. Thanks, Al.

  76. Peter says:

    I should add that Spencer can claim they are complex. When Andrew says that Spencer says clouds cause ENSO, what he is really saying is that Spencer says that clouds are an important component in the formation of ENSOs. Andrew is prescribing the current prevailing theory that ENSOs are caused primarily by non-radiative forcings.

    Essentially, what Spencer’s work says is that if radiative forcings, like clouds, are significant contributors to ENSOs than it is difficult to identify the feedbacks with the current state of the knowledge (“These results underscore the need for more accurate methods of diagnosing
    feedback from satellite data and for quantitatively relating those feedbacks to long?term
    climate sensitivity”).

    Of course, there is no reason to believe that radiative forcings are a major cause of ENSOs, which is also why Spencer’s abstract doesn’t actually say anything about clouds acting as feedbacks.

  77. Tonis Vaga says:

    Greetings Dr. Spencer:
    The phase space analysis approach caught my attention! I have had an interest in studying feedback in the financial markets which can exhibit phase transitions characterized by either trend persistent states (positive feedback) or mean regressive states (negative feedback).

    When I saw Equation 1 in your paper, it struck me that you may need a simple non-linear model of feedback instead of a linear model: just add a “lambda3*?T^3″ (a nonlinear feedback term) to get: “lambda1*?T + lambda3*?T^3.” Now you have a feedback model that can exhibit either positive or negative feedback (based on the parameters lambda1 and lambda2) and a combination of both (negative feedback for large values of ?T and positive feedback for small values of ?T where ?T as a temperature perturbation at time t=0).

    To see what I mean, check my blog. I gave a presentation on “A Financial Market BIfurcation Parameter” at an ETH Zurich Workshop in June 2009. The url with the charts for my talk is: http://themarketclimate.blogspot.com/2009_05_01_archive.html
    I originally published The Coherent Market Hypothesis in Financial Analysts Journal Nov/Dec 1990 which introduced nonlinear phase transition concepts to the capital markets.

    All you would have to do (easy for me to say) is reinterpret the parameters of the simple nonlinear model in terms of climate measureables. If the nonlinear model applies to the climate system, you might find that that there is positive temperature feedback for small ?T and negative feedback for large ?T. That would mean a globally stable climate system that also allows for persistent short term climate trends (both positive and negative depending on parameter values).

    I’d rather not have this note published as a comment. However it might provide an interesting twist to your phase space analysis approach.

    Regards,
    Tonis Vaga

  78. TimG says:

    Does the winter vs. summer or equitorial vs. polar data on cloud cover support the premise that clouds respond to temperature?

    If not then Dessler’s claim that clouds are responding to temperature changes triggered by ENSO events is not supportable.

  79. Obscurity says:

    Major Mike,

    I do not really know where to begin addressing your misconceptions. Why do “skeptics” nearly always insist on referring to Gore in their arguments?

    Perhaps the most important issue in post to address is the misunderstanding about temperature leading changes in CO2 in the past, which some take as proof that that CO2 cannot be driving the warming now. In the past CO2 acted as a positive feedback, amplifying the slow warming trend imposed by Milankovitch cycles, for example. SkepticalScience addresses this misunderstanding which is currently rated at number 10 on the lists of “skeptic arguments”. Even Dr. Spencer does not doubt that the radiative forcing from higher CO2 will lead to warmer global temperatures– he has said so on this very blog.

    As for citing individual events as proof or refutation of AGW, yes that is an obvious no-no. But, the recent Russian, European and Australian heat waves are consistent with a long-term warming trend and occurring more frequently than the expected return period, then that is *evidence* of that the climate system is warming and changing. The best analogy that I have come across is that by causing the climate system to go into a positive energy imbalance we humans are loading the dice to make extreme weather events (such as droughts and heat waves and deluges)increasingly more likely.

    • amabo says:

      “As for citing individual events as proof or refutation of AGW, yes that is an obvious no-no.”

      Immediately followed by:

      “But, the recent Russian, European and Australian heat waves are consistent with a long-term warming trend and occurring more frequently than the expected return period, then that is *evidence* of that the climate system is warming and changing.”

      *WHOOOSH*

  80. Harry says:

    @Obscurity,

    Would you please explain to me why you are so prominently present on this particular blog?
    With all your RC correct blatherings, you only try to discredit Dr. Spencer. Who is shocked by this Science publication. And he should be, as I am. It looks as if the high ranking journals, Science, Nature, PNAS all have moved to the Mephistopheles side. Maybe it is their last straw. I expect to see soon a high quality rebuttal of Dessler by “amateurs”.

    Please continue like this, you are only revealing yourself as a pseudo religion.

  81. Harry says:

    @Obscurity:

    What I meant to say:
    If you do not have any other argument but to point to RC, you are proven wrong in my humble perception. I refuse to read anything on RC, because it is basically flawed.
    Real Climate: compare it to PRAVDA: the truth, the daily of the Russian Communist party. They were as sympathetic to other visions as the bloggers at RC are. But I must admit: I can not point to 15 million victims of the RC philosophy as per date.

  82. Obscurity says:

    Harry, I actually pointed to SkepticalScience @December 10, 2010 at 3:40 PM and again @December 10, 2010 at 4:53 PM.

    Earlier I suggested that people post their comments to Dessler at RC.

    Unlike Spencer, Dessler has humbly conceded that he may be wrong. Dessler has engaged Spencer in speaking about this issue in good faith. What does he get in return? Conspiracy theories and accusations of foul play.

    Spencer owes Dessler and Science an apology. In his heart of hearts Spencer is a good and honest man, so I’m sure that he will do the right thing and apologize.

    I will leave you and Spencer to entertain your conspiracy theories.

  83. Major Mike says:

    Obscurity:

    I missed your explanation of cooling when atmospheric CO2 had risen to its highest point, and then followed cooling down. It can amplify the weak Milankovitch cycle warming, surely it can overcome the weak Milankovitch cycle cooling.

  84. Christopher Game says:

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    You have a sound method of criticism of the idea of the anti-compensatory cloud story. Would you be able to use the same method of criticism to tackle the anti-compensatory water vapour story?

    You rightly note that correlation at zero time delay alone does not prove feedback in one direction or the other. More is needed.

    The water vapour story is that added heat increases water vapour amount which increases Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness, which adds further heat, though not enough to destroy the steady-state regime.

    This is a story about a loop of causal efficacy,
    A -> B -> A -> B etc.

    Is there some way of testing this story of a loop?

    If there really were a loop as they say, then I think it would follow that added water vapour amount ought to lead to added heat which ought to lead to further increase in water vapour amount, though not necessarily enough to destroy the steady-state regime?

    Some chemical systems show that kind of anti-compensatory effect for some components but not all components.

    Putting more water vapour in the air would increase the rate of surface evaporation or reduce the rate of precipitation?

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  85. TimTheToolMan says:

    Cross post. I’ve learnt my lesson for moderated sites.
    Here is my question. I wonder if they’ll answer…

    TimTheToolMan
    Regarding : It was officially accepted on 9 November, Smith says.

    Would you mind explaining why the paper was embargoed until the 9th December?

    Message awaits moderator approval

  86. TimTheToolMan says:

    Do, I dont know why it didn’t end up as the reply to his post it was supposed to be…but this was in response to

    Obscurity says:
    December 10, 2010 at 1:52 PM
    boballab says @December 9, 2010 at 10:41 PM

    You are right, I clearly got my dates wrong. Of course, I meant to say “December”.

    Spencer owes both Science and Dessler a sincere apology:

    http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/12/science-criticized-in-cancun-for.html

  87. Chris says:

    Obscurity,

    It is quite possible that people like you have already caused more extinctions in the last 10 years than global warming ever will – manmade or otherwise. You will be responsible if Orangutans become extinct in the wild over the next few years. And how many people have you starved to death?

    There is no scientific evidence that I have read that fingers CO2 and CO2 alone for the the climate changes over the last 50 years. The evidence to date is like finding anyone with a gun 10 blocks from a shooting and syaing that must be guilty

    The computer models don’t agree with each other, and to a large degree, they seem to rely more on curve fitting than physics. Hence, the models totally failed to explain the climate over the last 10 years. To date the world has tipped away from disaster, not towards disaster.

    Once the science can correctly predict climate 10 or 15 years into the future, then I am happy allocate the necessary resources – if it is CO2 or otherwise.

    At the moment the science is just not there – to warrant the negative human and environmental consequences of blindly following an unproven science.

  88. Philip says:

    Peter:

    Please, you need to look more carefully at what the Spencer/Braswell paper is actually saying or you will end up making the same mistake as Dessler. I agree with you that the paper states in the presence of unknown radiative forcing you cannot observe the feedback, however this is not the general case:

    “In the general case, a mixture of both unknown radiative and nonradiative forcings can be expected, and the challenge for feedback diagnosis is to extract the signal of feedback upon nonradiatively forced temperature change in the presence of the noise generated by unknown time-varying radiative forcing.”

    Hence in the general case, it IS possible to observe the feedbacks but only during those times when unknown radiative forcings are not present. If you would carry on and read the body of the paper, you would find that it does in fact rise to the challenge of extracting the feedback from the noise by using the phase space technique mentioned in Spencer’s post.

  89. Philip says:

    Peter says: “Andrew is prescribing the current prevailing theory that ENSOs are caused primarily by non-radiative forcings.”

    I think you have a point there: Andrew is quite generally reasserting the prevailing theory in the face of Spencer’s reasoned criticism. The problem is that that is ALL he is doing. It would be far more convincing if he actually engaged with the criticism and defended his own position with reasoned argument. Instead he either ignores straightforward questioning or else prevaricates. In these circumstances, what does he expect reasonable people to conclude?

  90. If I understand it well, Dr. Spencer created a method by which he demonstrated the standard conclusions about the cloud effects are wrong and how better conclusions can be achieved. Dressler repeated the mistaken analytical processes, which has been debunked by Spencer, getting a different conclusions then Spencer did. These different issues should be considered debunking of Spencer reputedly. Spencer’s method, thus, including his critique of the old ways of analysis was ignored by Dressler. Then the Dressler’s paper cannot be considered even an attempt for debunking. It is just an illustration that the old method gives different conclusions then the new one. If there isn’t anyone who has put in doubt the Spencer’s method then there isn’t even an attempt for his debunking. The fact the old method provides a different issues then the new one was in Spencer & Braswell work included too. Dressler only contributed to illustration of the fact.

  91. Peter says:

    Philip,
    And how do you know when an unknown radiative forcing is absent?

    What Andrew is doing is saying, if we assume the prevailing theory about the formation of ENSOs is right, what type of feedback do clouds have during ENSO events?

    That is advancing the field.

    Under those conditions, Spencer’s work is completely irrelevant.

    Spencer’s work is only applicable if you start with the assumption that the prevailing theory on ENSO formation is wrong?

  92. Peter says:

    The last thing should not be a question but a statement.

  93. Peter says:

    Let me add, Andrew’s work is not a rebuttal of Spencer’s work. Nobody is going to bother with Spencer’s work until he provides evidence that there are radiative forcings involved in ENDS formation, or somebody wants to study another process where his points are more likely to have some validity

  94. In regards to the latest BS from the global warming side ,I propose the warmer the atmosphere is, the more likely, MORE clouds will result, due to three basic principles, more convection,more evaporation and therefore more water vapor being able to be contained in the atmosphere. Simple ,straight forward logic.

    Therefore a negative feedback is the most likely outcome of warmer temperatures, due to any CO2 increases ,which is a FALSE premise to begin with ,in the first place.

    Clouds however themselves, are tricky, as far as how much warming/cooling they may create. I would say on balance it is cooling, but it depends on the location of the clouds, the altitude of the clouds, the thickness of the clouds, and even the make up of the water droplets within the clouds,and lastly ,if the clouds are composed of ice crystals, versus liqued water.

    So in addition to him saying warmer temp. results in less clouds, hence a positive feedback,which is false, he is also wrong in assuming how strong a warming less cloud sjust might create ,in earth’smta as to how strong a cooling or warming effect clouds have on earth’s climatic system to begin with.

    So DR. DESSLER , not only makes the false assumption about warmer tempertaures create less clouds, but in addition he concluds that less clouds means mcuh more warming , whereas the reality is, it might, but to what degree, due to the mix signals clouds could create on the temperatures of earth’s climatic system ,although on balance, I feel more clouds cause colder temperatures.

    Dr. Dessler then tries to tie SOI oscillation into this , wel I say to Dr. DESSLER ,instead why don’t you try to tie in the atmospheric circulation to the amount of cloud cove earth may or may not have and where the most change in cloud cover is likely to be located,which is very important.
    For an example more clouds over the polar regions would probably have a warming effect,due to clouds having a lower albedo ,then land covered with snow,where as more clouds in lower latitudes not covered in snow would probably have a cooling effect all other things being equal.

    Getting back to the atmospheric circulation , I say a less zonal atmsopheric circulation is condusive to more clouds in the locations where they would result in a net cooling, and is more likely to produce more low clouds which tend to create a net cooling.

    With low solar activity /less zonal atm. circulation link , I propose DR. DESSLER, that the POSITIVE FEEDBACK from clouds and earth’s climate is a result of how zonal , or not zonal the earth’s atmospheric circulationis ,rather then your SOI tie in ,to cloud formation, along with what phase the PDO is in.

    In closing I think there is a positive feedback from clouds versus temperatures but in EXACTLY the opposite way DR. DESSLER says. I say MORE clouds causes lower temperatures and less clouds causes high temperature ,and the causes of less clouds or more clouds is tied up to the zonalitY of the earth’s atmosphere, anotherwords the Arctic Oscillation and the NAO, along with the PDO phase of the Paific Ocean.

  95. My computer time ran out on previous message, could not proof read it, there will be some gramatical errors,but I hope my thoughts get through.

  96. Getting back to my previous post ,what I was trying to say at the end, is I think a Positive Feedback does exist between clouds, and earth’s climatic system ,but in EXACTLY the opposite way DR. DESSLER suggest.

    THE POSITIVE FEEDBACK(FOR COOLING) IS AS FOLLOWS:

    WEAK SUN, EQUATES TO A LESS ZONAL ATMOSPHERIC CIRCULATION,LESS ZONAL ATMOSPHERIC CIRCULATION, EQUATES TO MORE CLOUDS,THAT RESULTS IN A NET COOLING.AGAIN LOCATION, AND TYPE OF CLOUDS INCREASING, BEING VERY IMPORTANT.

    THE OTHER POSITIVE FEEDBACK FOR LOWER TEMP. WITH A MERIDIONAL CIRCULATION WHICH I MENTIONED BEFORE IS

    A more meridional circulation ,I think serves to cause land areas in the N.H. to have more snow cover then there would be with a zonal circulation, therefore increasing earth’s albedo, especially over those latitudes where the snow cover increases the most ,which would be south of the polar region, therefore reinforcing the meridional circulation , keeping the positive feedback in place.

    As I said in my previous post, this is likely to be the DECADE OF GLOBAL COOLING.

    The prolong low solar activity, is providing the set up ,to make it possible for the real items that control the climate to phase in long enough, to a degree of magnitude strong enough, to cause a temperature drop off this decade, if not beyond.

    Those items one more time being VOLCANIC ACTIVITY(MORE ACTIVE -(HIGH LATITUDES BEING MORE IMPORTANT),PDO/AMO (COLD PHASE),SOI STATE(MORE LA NINAS ),AO,NAO ATMOSPHERIC CIRCULATIONS(MORE NEGATIVE )

    DR DESSSLER, and his crowd constantly try to make things come out the way they want them to ,not the way they are.

    Examples of this are first the CO2/ WARMER TEMP/CLOUD positive feedback, next the false positive feedback of more CO2/MORE WATER VAPOR/ WARMER TEMPERATURES, followed by their manipulating of the recent past temperatures and trying to ignore the historic climatic temperature trends, such as Mann, who tried to force upon us, his ridiculous garbage hocky stick graph, then not only do they ignore the sun, but they have no understanding of how the sun and earth’s climatic system interact, and on over what time lags that interaction takes place(which is going to trip them up), not to mention how they always forget, to mention the S.H sea ice has been increasing, for many years now.

    They did not count, or expect this solar minimum to take place ,and this is going to be what puts the nail in the coffin for them.

  97. Philip says:

    Peter,

    The criticism is in how Dessler calculates the feedbacks. Spencer’s work provides an alternative procedure to the one used by Dessler, and is therefore clearly relevant. Although Dessler cites Spencer’s 2010 paper, he doesn’t use Spencer’s method neither does he explain why not. Dessler has prevaricated over questions about this at Real Climate; a serious of related questions to Real Climate have simply been rejected; similar questions here and elsewhere have simply been ignored. Rather than advancing the field, Dessler’s paper seems designed simply to be waved at anyone caught citing Spencer’s paper.

  98. Philip says:

    Peter said, “And how do you know when an unknown radiative forcing is absent?”

    By looking at the phase space plot. Read the paper. The theoretical justification is discussed in sections 2 and 4, the correspondence between theory and data in sections 3 and 5.

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/Spencer-Braswell-JGR-2010.pdf

  99. Peter says:

    He has explained why. As have I. You just don’t like the explanation:

    “The recent suggestion
    that feedback analyses suffer from a causeand-
    effect problem (27) does not apply here: The
    climate variations being analyzed here are primarily
    driven by ENSO, and there has been no
    suggestion that ENSO is caused by cloud variations
    (10).”

    Spencer’s criticisms are only valid if variations in clouds is a driver of ENSO, and there is no evidence that clouds drive ENSO.

    How is the phase plot different if the unknown radiative forcing isn’t related to the process, and how would that affect your conclusions about the feedback (stated another way assume that clouds are involved in causing ENSOs, how would the phase plots be different than if it they aren’t)?

    Again, even read the e-mails, What did even Spencer agree that their disagreement was? The cause of ENSO. Spencer disagrees with the prevailing theory on ENSO and points to no evidence to backup his point of view.

  100. Rhys Jaggar says:

    Dr Spencer

    You need to say this live on global TV.

    The MSM in this country is going completely the other way.

    I hope Booker is writing something tomorrow in the DT, as what I read there today is a joke.

  101. denis says:

    Obscurity:
    Regarding the data on temperature you provided in your earlier response to me:

    There was a recent (public) admission by Phil Jones (of CRU infamy), that there has been no statistically significant warming for the past 15 years, as well as an earlier admission by another CRU researcher, in writing, in the ClimateGate emails, declaring, evidently with great frustration, that there has been no recent warming. These two scientists are clearly proponents of global warming and yet seem to be at odds with the figures you present. If it is the 2010 data which makes the difference I would reserve judgment until after year end, and after independent sources have reviewed that “data”. In any event, given the arbitrary de-selection over time, of many temperature recording sites, (with an obvious bias towards eliminating those at higher altitudes and higher latitudes) together with the likely significant errors introduced as a result of machinations with the raw data, I personally wouldn’t put much stock in minor changes in the earth’s temperature over a decade or more – up or down.

    In any case, while CO2 has been rising steadily for the past couple of centuries, there have been significant durations during that interim when temperature was flat or dropping, so no short term correlation with CO2. We also know that, in the distant past, temperature variations took place 800 to 2000 years prior to very similar variations in CO2 level, a strong indication that slow warming oceans release CO2 – to the same tune cooler oceans earlier absorbed it. CO2 absorption of solar radiation is evidently restricted to just a few wavelengths. At 20 ppmv of CO2 in the atmosphere it has already consumed about 50% of the total solar energy available at those wave lengths. With the CO2 level now at about 400 ppmv the available supply of solar energy for CO2 absorption would appear to already be exhausted. That indicates (at least to me, a novice) that additional increases in the atmospheric level of CO2 cannot result in further significant radiative forcing. Why do you believe otherwise?

    Also, if it is true that CO2 levels were many times higher during three ice ages and also considerably higher going into one ice age, does not one have to conclude that CO2 is not having a significant impact on temperature at levels even much higher than now?

    Finally, we still appear to be well within natural temperature variation (unless you happen to believe the hockey stick graph represents reality in spite of the nearly 1000 independent investigations that show the MWP to exist and that it was global and not regional). There were evidently also several durations in this intergalactic before the MWP when it was evidently even warmer!

    I have to believe that CO2, as a temperature driver, is a nonissue, but obviously CO2, at some level, would become an issue. The critical level is likely much higher than now but lower than what submariners are now subject to – 3000 to 4000 ppmv.

    The last I heard about criticism of Svensmark’s hypothesis is that the critics did not seem to understand that it is only those high energy particles which are capable of reaching the lower atmosphere. (Apparently only low atmosphere clouds are involved.) I’d be interested in any critiques you know about which have not been based on this misunderstanding. Also, I would guess that a small change in cloud cover, if sustained over a long period, may well result in a significant cooling or warming of the earth, and might not this have been brought on by a small, but sustained, increase or decrease in GCR?

  102. Hi Denis , I think your last post was great. You have raised the right kind of questions, and that is what I am trying to accomplish. I hope you read some of my thoughts.

  103. Bill Illis says:

    Sorry, I forgot to change the legend on the first chart I posted. It is the Nino 3.4 index versus OLR/clouds.

    http://img703.imageshack.us/img703/65/ensocloudolrnino34nov10.png

  104. In closing I say DR. DESSLER, and crew are just trying to make things turn out the way they want them to turn out ,nothing more.So his conclusions, as far as I am concerned ,are a non issue, they don’t exist.

    This reminds me so much of the lower tropospheric hot spot near the equator, that is still missing in action, and they still won’t admit they are wrong, and the Mann, famous hocky stick garbage. It reminds me, of their recent climategate ,and how they will never answer the real questions, as to why the climate changes.

    They are in a word CLUELESS! THEY HAVE THEIR GARBAGE
    MODELS, WITH THE GARBAGE DATA THEY PUT INTO THEM ,AND THEY THAN GET THEIR GARBAGE RESULTS.

    As I have said, I will put up my theory ,that I have expressed on this message board, against their theory anytime,anyday of the week. Further, if I were to debate them, I bet if the debate were open to a public with no bias either way, that I would prevail. I know I would, because what they are trying to put over on the public, is just a bunch of BS!

    I am done, until the month of Dec. temp. data comes out.

  105. Philip says:

    Peter,

    The reason I don’t like the explanation you and Dessler have provided is because it doesn’t answer my question. Spencer’s method is applicable to the kind of dataset used by Dessler. Therefore, it should be possible to apply it to Dessler’s dataset and see what comes out at the other end. This is true irrespective of any competing explanations of the relationship between ENSO and clouds. I can certainly see that for some reason, Dessler has chosen not to use Spencer’s method. It could be, for example, that he has tried it and found that the phase space plot doesn’t contain the features described by Spencer. Whatever the reasons are, why not explain them?

  106. Philip says:

    Peter,

    It also occurs to me that it might help you to understand my position a little better, if we take the discussion away from the contentious global warming issue and instead try to think of Spencer/Braswell simply as a piece of physics. In this situation, I would say that the paper is a good piece of physics and I like it very much. As a reason, I would point out that it contains a simple theoretical model and observational data and that the two work very successfully together. It is the kind of paper that would make me interested in working in that area, if only I were in my twenties again. I am perfectly aware that my liking it doesn’t mean it is correct, but I hope it does help to explain why I would like to see it being properly criticised and why I have found the brush-off so puzzling.

  107. Obscurity says:

    Brian,

    You have clearly thought a lot about this, and raise some valid questions, some of which I had when I first dug into this. Like you, I am not an expert on climate science, but rely on what is out there to educate myself and form an opinion.

    You seem to be here to defend Spencer’s claim that there is a substantial negative cloud feedback that will operate when the planet warms. The last part of that sentence, the warming, is key. Spencer does not deny that increasing CO2 will warm the planet (on this very blog he has estimated the warming for doubling CO2 to be about +1.7 C). Rather, he believes that the warming from higher CO2 will be offset by the alleged negative cloud feedback, and that the expected warming of +3 C for doubling of CO2 reported in the literature is probably too high. So if you are here to defend Spencer’s claim on the negative cloud feedback under warming, you have to first agree with him that doubling CO2 will warm the planet first.

    But let us forget that for now. You raise many points, all of which have been addressed in the literature or by inquiries following “Climategate”, some of them have been addressed almost 100 years ago. Some of your arguments are inconsistent.

    For example, you initially claimed that the global temperature (as measured by HadCRUT3) have basically been flat, then you suggested that because the trend of the warming in the HadCRUT data was not statistically significant at the 95% confidence level (it was at the 93% level, and at 95% if one started in 1994) between the cherry-picked 1995 and 2009 to mean that there has been no warming. But you then claimed “I personally wouldn’t put much stock in minor changes in the earth’s temperature over a decade or more – up or down”. So why then are you using short-term changes in global temperatures to try and argue that there has been no warming? Statisticians know that 15 years is too short a time to determine a statistically significant trend in a noisy metric such as global temperatures. The issues of station dropout and station location have been shown to be a non issue in independent analyses, some of which were conducted by skeptics.

    Even so, I also showed you global temperatures inferred from satellite data, which do not have any of the issue related to station location and those data showed a slightly higher rate of warming for 1995-2009 compared to 1979-present. Global surface temperature data from weather stations is just one way of tracking warming. Multiple, independent lines of evidence all point towards a warming planet, albeit it with dips and peaks along the way.

    Please go to Trenberth’s web site and read for yourself what he actually meant by his “travesty” statement. Who are you going to believe Marc Morano or Trenberth himself? What Trenberth said had nothing to do with the alleged lack of warming, but with “monitor[ing] the energy flows associated with short-term climate variability”, something that he had at the time the statement was made just published a paper on.

    The issues you raise about CO2 and temperature seem to boil down to the following:

    1) CO2 was higher in the past, including during ice ages.
    2) Temperature changes in the past preceded CO2.
    3) The CO2 effect is saturated. But then you go on to say that “The critical level is likely much higher than now but lower than what submariners are now subject to – 3000 to 4000 ppmv”. How can that be if you claim the CO2 effect is already saturated at 400 ppmv? [Denis-- "With the CO2 level now at about 400 ppmv the available supply of solar energy for CO2 absorption would appear to already be exhausted"].
    4) You again raise the GCR issue. Skeptical Science gives an excellent overview of the literature.

    Dr. Spencer is not taking issue with 1-3—he accepts that increasing CO2 will warm the planet, and we know from isotope analysis that we are causing CO2 to increase. All of your concerns above have already been addressed. At this point I will point you to four excellent resources that I found very helpful on my voyage of discovery:

    “The Discovery of Global warming” by Dr. Spencer Weart, SkepticalScience web site, Science of Doom web site, and if time is an issue, Dr. Alley’s talk that he gave at the AGU last year (“The Biggest Control Knob: Carbon Dioxide in Earth’s Climate History”).

    I encourage you to read the book (there is an online version) and to go to the above web sites to ask questions and to present your arguments.

  108. Get Plugged says:

    Science is like a dot-to-dot:

    Dessler has almost completed the dots, and most like what they see. A few, however, think what Dessler has done to be complete garbage, so are having a go themselves. The result is likely to be different to Dessler’s, so team dessler are not happy, because they could be shown up.

    Instead of having another go at the dots, team dessler just hope they have it right, with back patting all-round. They have already tried numerous combinations, so are happy with the job.

    But did they do enough? There are a few dots left which do not fit the picture. Including them would completely ruin the dot-to-dot, which is why others are suspicious.

    Good luck Dessler and Co, but unless you have all the dots, you will be falsified.

  109. Peter says:

    As I said, Andrew’s work is not a response to Spencer’s. Andrew was almost certainly well into his analysis, if not completely done and writing his paper, when Spencer’s paper came out and he was simply able to “wave” it away by pointing out it isn’t really applicable. If Spencer had shown that even for non-radiative mechanisms that Andrew’s approach was insuffeceint, then Andrew would have been in trouble in terms of publishing his work. But that isn’t the case. Based on the best understanding of ENSO, Spencer essentially agrees that Andrew’s methodology is fine. It is only if you make the assumptions that Spencer makes, with no supporting evidence, that Andrew’s methodology runs into trouble.

    The problem with Spencer’s method is there is no mechanistic conclusions in the real world. You get graphs, and you make lines. They don’t tell you what is the feedback in the real world, and they don’t provide you any more details about what is causing ENSO.

    Nobody can tell me what the graphs would look like if ENSO is caused by clouds or not.

    Nobody can tell me what the graphs would look like if clouds have a large negative feedback or large positive feedback.

    You could make the relevant graphs, and you wouldn’t be able to make any specific conclusions about cloud feedback and ENSO.

    Of course, this is why Spencer doesn’t actually draw any conclusions about real life cloud feed backs in his paper.

    (Though there are somethings that might make sense with respect to the changes in clouds with respect to the space phase plots.)

  110. Peter says:

    With respect to Spencer’s X-Ray/MRI analogy, he’s wrong because people have used MRI’s to look at tumors. Spencer is a guy that has theortically developed a method to potentially look at tumors, but hasn’t actually done it, and then complains when somebody else publishes a paper on using X-rays to study tumors that the dominant prevailing theory indicates should be perfectly fine to study by X-ray.

    In this case, tumors are feedbacks in a dynamic, transient, and multi-component system.

  111. Bob Tisdale says:

    Roy: I can understand, in part, your frustration with the team. In my December 9, 2010 at 8:42 PM comment above (not moderated as of now), I reproduced my comment at Real Climate. Raypierre’s reply was not relevant, since Ramanathan’s 1991 “thermostat hypothesis” and my comment were discussions of two different subjects. And for those reading this thread, Raypierre was referring to his 1995 “Thermostats, Radiator Fins, and the Local Runaway Greenhouse”. In section 4 it includes his comments on Ramanathan and Collins (1991) “Thermodynamic regulation of ocean warming by cirrus clouds deduced by observations of the 1987 El Niño”. The point I really find frustrating was that in response to my follow-up comment, Andrew Dessler, who agreed with my first comment (over at WUWT), then defers to Raypierre expertise, which was irrelevant.

  112. Obscurity says:

    Bob,

    In your mind does the term “The team” refer to all climate scientists who have examined the evidence and think climate sensitivity is about +3 C for doubling CO2? I thought that the term “team” actually referred to a small group of people working with paleo data? That is not Dessler’s field.

    You seem to know quite a bit about this stuff (I visit your fine blog now and again, and may have linked people to it), so I would be interested to hear what you think how much warming we can expect for doubling CO2?

    As for moderation, I am sure you then also have a problem WUWT not allowing some comments or doing worse than that even. I am not defending moderation at RC, but I do think it unfair of you and others here to single them out, especially when you have had comments posted there. Moderation is a necessary evil to keep things on topic and almost all blogs do it.

  113. denis says:

    Obscurity:

    I ain’t “Brian” but it looks as if it was my commentary you were responding to rather than someone named Brian. I haven’t looked back through the earlier comments to ensure this is the case, but if so, Brian has got to be my evil (and up to now unknown) twin.

    You definitely missed the concept on CO2. The atmosphere is by no means “saturated” at 400 ppmv of CO2. The few wave lengths from the sun (only a few) which provide energy that a CO2 molecule can absorb (and subsequently re-radiate) have basically all been absorbed by CO2 by the time it reaches levels as high as 400 ppmv. To repeat, 50% of the solar energy available to CO2 molecules has already been absorbed by CO2 at 20 ppmv of the atmosphere.

    I do agree that it’s pointless to talk about current warming or cooling. It’s been warming for a couple of centuries now, which immediately followed a roughly 500 year period of cooling known as “the little ice age”. We could continue to have warming for quite some time (at the current rate, assuming that rate is accurate, which is a very big “if”) and it would still not be outside natural variation.

    I’ve heard nothing yet that explains away the much higher level of CO2 in the distant past, during or going into ice ages. There appears to be no doubt that CO2 was also, at that time, responding to temperature variations which occurred 800 or more years earlier. (Temperature appears at that time to be “driving” CO2 levels). In fact early interpretations (including Al Gore’s) saw the correlation, but until better data was available did not recognize the phase lag.

    In the shorter term (the past century or two) as the CO2 level steadily increased, temperature quite obviously did its own thing, and although the annual rate of increase in CO2 is, recently, about 2 ppmv annually, it’s been going on long enough now for CO2 to have increased some 40% (from about 280 ppmv to 400 ppmv). That’s a 40% increase of CO2 and yet no correlation with temperature variation during the same two centuries!

    It’s obvious from the websites you refer to that you’ve missed some really good ones, such as Anthony Watts at “WattsUpWithThat” and Joanne Nova’s website. There are others. Get acquainted.

    I’ve got more to say on this in a google document given below, if you’re interested. My email address is included in that document.

    http://docs.google.com/View?id=ddrj9jjs_0fsv8n9gw

  114. Stephen says:

    I think some of you have jumped the shark a bit. Spencer isn’t saying there is sufficient evidence for his negative feedback theory. He’s saying that the “consensus” warmers MUST assume positive feedback for their CO2 climate theory to work. *If* this positive feedback doesn’t exist, their entire theory comes down like a house of cards. He’s made some very reasonable points with respect to negative feedback. His points must be addressed for the Science to move forward.

    I’m sure Spencer would agree, since I’ve seen him say it here more than once, THERE IS INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE EITHER WAY. Spencer seems to be leaning strongly toward the negative feedback theory, but his main point seems to be that the climate science establishment is putting way way too much stock in a theory that is missing a huge crucial piece like this. Why should we make big sacrifices now toward the well being of billions of people based upon such a poorly supported theory?

    Unfortunately, the Climate Science Consensusers have already cried Wolf. Massive reputations and huge investments are on the line so it is terrifying for them to examine Spencer’s positive feedback theory. And of course they will all be rooting for one side so of course they will all be biased and so have a hard time seeing the truth if it goes against them.

    But it’s their own fault, really. They never should have made such strong claims in the name of Science, with long term climate prediction being the infant science that it is. The scary part is that Mankind overall will take a huge hit because Science will have taken a huge hit in the eyes of the world if the Consensus is wrong.

  115. denis says:

    System Administrator:

    When I attempt to click on “reply” specific to a comment, the system doesn’t do anything when I subsequently click on “submit”. But it does work if I go to the bottom of the blog and copy the response into the “Leave a Reply” area. ??

  116. TimTheToolMan says:

    Bob Tisdale says:
    December 11, 2010 at 5:10 PM
    Roy: I can understand, in part, your frustration with the team….

    They must think we’re stupid. It was quite clear to me raypierre’s argument wasn’t adressing your point and he even did it in a condescending manner. Frustrating indeed.

  117. Peter says:

    Stephen, the climate must generally be sensitive or there would be no previous climate changes. It might be possible that for some reason it isn’t sensitive specifically to human produced green house gasses, but there’s no evidence to support that view.

  118. TimTheToolMan says:

    Obscurity says : “Moderation is a necessary evil to keep things on topic and almost all blogs do it.”

    Does WUWT censor? I’ve seen WUWT posts “snipped” with an explanation of why but never heard of posts from people who try to make valid, on-topic points outright removed at the moderator’s discretion.

    RC on the other hand arbitrarily disallows posts that are civil, on topic but contrary to their agenda. I know this for a fact because its happened to me more than once.

    There is no doubt they are a propoganda site rather than a science based now. No doubt in my mind whatsoever.

  119. Obscurity says:

    Denis,

    Sorry for getting your name wrong, it was an honest mistake.

    I’m sorry but if suggesting Anthony Watts and Jo Nova as counter arguments to Dr. Alley (and other experts practicing in the field of climate science) then we will have to agree to disagree. We can agree that the in-line response function not working is annoying. And for the record I did try following WUWT for a while, but the rhetoric, spin and sloppy “science” very quickly turned me off.

    Even Dr. Spencer and Lindzen would probably disagree with many of your assertions regarding the role of CO2 in modulating climate.

    Have a good weekend. My mood was certainly buoyed by the (surprising) fact that the delegates in Cancun actually came to some sort of agreement.

  120. Obscurity says:

    Peter and Philip,

    Just wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed following your civil and thoughtful exchange.

    The facts and science really do seem to support Peter’s position though. It seems that even if there is a negative feedback, it is going to be weak (and will have only been shown to be present in the tropics), so in the greater scheme of things any negative cloud feedback seems to be insignificant. Additionally, those models having the weakest positive short-term positive cloud feedback still have a long-term climate sensitivity of more than +2 C warming for doubling CO2. Data from several sources indicate that the lower bound for climate sensitivity really seems to be at least +2 C (and that figure is supported by paleo data too), so anything less than that requires a lot of faith in some yet unidentified major negative feedback emerging.

    As Peter said, “climate must generally be sensitive or there would be no previous climate changes.”

  121. denis says:

    obscurity:

    My mention of Watts and Joanne Nova was not an offering of a counter argument, but to provide you with some other sites which would give someone like you some perspective on how unbelievably unethical some of the folks related to IPCC (and elsewhere) have been behaving for quite a long time. Their actions would (and should) make a skeptic out of anybody.

    You might also want to try to practice being less of a “troll”!

  122. slimething says:

    Obscurity,
    According to AGW GHE theory, shouldn’t the tropics have the greatest amount of warming? According to Santer 05 (Gavin Schmidt coauthor) that appears to be the case.

    As I understand it, climate models are shown to be 200-400% off the mark. Am I mistaken?

  123. Philip says:

    Obscurity said: “You again raise the GCR issue. Skeptical Science gives an excellent overview of the literature.”

    Or for an insider’s viewpoint, you could try Jasper Kirkby’s review article:

    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0804/0804.1938v1.pdf

    Although this is a couple of years out of date now, I understand that we can expect some updates soon regarding CLOUD.

  124. Philip says:

    Peter, Obscurity, Stephen:

    The scientific position really is unknown at the moment and Dessler’s paper offers no definitive resolution, as he admits in his post. Stephen expresses very well what I have tried to argue. Spencer’s points do need to be addressed and Dessler’s paper offers nothing in this regard. Simply reasserting the mainstream position doesn’t help. Dessler himself summarises his attitude to scientific discussion very well:

    “But as you can see, I have not ignored it — I have dismissed it because I think it has no merit. That’s quite different.”

    Quite different indeed, and very unreasonable. Instead, I would ask Dessler to address Spencer’s arguments in a meaningful and rational manner. Perhaps he will change his mind and do so in one of his promised future papers on the subject.

  125. Bob Tisdale says:

    Obscurity at December 11, 2010 at 5:27 PM:

    My use of the word team had to do with the group at RC. My comment had nothing to do with moderation (though my comments have been deleted at RC in the past), and it also had nothing to do with climate sensitivity.

  126. Philip says:

    I can also point out that the attitude expressed by Dessler towards Spencer’s work is incoherent. In his paper, Dessler states:

    “The recent suggestion that feedback analyses suffer from a cause and-effect problem does not apply here.”

    But in his blog post, Dessler states:

    “I have dismissed it because I think it has no merit.”

    Hence, on the one hand Dessler believes that Spencer’s analysis may apply in some cases, but not to the particular example analysed by Dessler. And on the other hand, he believes that Spencer’s analysis has no merit and therefore does not apply at all.

    I am confident that any reasonable person would feel that Spencer’s work does have merit, and that it deserves to be criticised on the basis of it’s arguments rather than it’s conclusions. However, it appears from his statements that Dessler is undecided on how best to object and that this may perhaps explain his unwillingness to answer my questions.

  127. Peter says:

    Phillip,

    Again, this paper is not a rebuttal of Spencer’s work. It was never meant to be. The paper was submitted in May. That means his paper was in at Science before Spencer’s paper was published. The comment about Spencer’s paper must have been part of the post-submission editing process. Andrew’s work was completely done before Spencer’s paper came out.

    It has no merit because there is no evidence that radiative forcings have anything to do with causing ENSOs.

    And more than that there is likely never going to be a rebuttal of Spencer’s work unless he starts to put out claims that the causes of things like ENSOs include radiative forcings.

  128. Thomas says:

    “I suspect – but have no proof of it – that Dessler was under pressure to get this paper published to blunt the negative impact our work has had on the IPCC’s efforts.”

    A quick check shows that this paper was received by Science on May 19. To suggest that someone back then pressured Dressler to submit his paper so that it would get accepted just in time for Cancún is fanciful.

    I think Dessler had a good counter over at Real Climate: “And as far as my interest in influencing the policy debate goes, I’ll just say that I’m in College Station this week, while Dr. Spencer is in Cancun. In fact, Dr. Spencer had a press conference in Cancun — about my paper. I didn’t have a press conference about my paper. Draw your own conclusion.”

  129. Peter says:

    As near as I can tell, Spencer regularly asserts two things:
    1. Most of the warming we have seen over the last 30 years or so isn’t man made, but caused from natural climate variation because things like clouds can cause long term climate change, and this isn’t taken into account by most people in the field.

    2. Why green house gases do cause warming, the real world warming will be minimal because clouds will have large negative feed backs.

    Now, why I think Spencer has demonstrated that it is theoritically possible for clouds to cause climate change, he’s never demonstrated that ever actually happens in the real world, much less that it has happened over the last 30 years or so to cause warming.

    He’s never published a paper that includes a feedback estimation of clouds, much less one that is negative.

    Most people aren’t going to start worrying about rebutting him until he starts to really offer real world evidence that supports one of those ideas. Until then, you are likely to see him cited with pretty simple dismisals like that done in Andrew’s paper here.

  130. ron from Texas says:

    Again, I see that once someone could not refute the science that disputes CO2 AGW, they resort to fear by inaccurately saying that we will create acid in the ocean. Here’s some basic science to consider. Cold ocean water absorbs CO2. And it is, for a while, in suspension. But there are caclium ions in the ocean water. And they combine with CO2 to create calcium carbonate, which is the base compound for reefs, where all kinds of little critters live. And somehow, that’s “bad”?

  131. Thomas says:

    Ron from Texas, if you add CO2 you don’t get more calcium carbonate. You dissolve it:
    CaCO2 -> Ca++ + 2HCO2-

  132. Don Sailing says:

    I have some comments I would like to make.

    First of all Spencer’s on statement – “Dessler’s paper is being announced on probably THE best day for it to support the IPCC’s COP-16 meeting here in Cancun, and whatever agreement is announced tomorrow in the way of international climate policy.” Dessler and Science magazine, either working together or independently, trying to get an article of interest out at a time when it would be of most interest and sell more copy is just good business sense. The political IPCC trying to use it to promote their political agenda is just good politics. I can see where that might be frustrating to Spencer and that probably led to his comment.

    Second Spencer’s comment is not that bad. If taken in context, it merrily says that if Dessler’s article is the best the political IPCC can come up with to refute Spenser’s article, then the political IPCC’s position is weak. That is a valid point.

    Third, all the name calling and accusations by both sides doesn’t answer the question, is the science valid? In this point I have to agree with Spenser. Spenser’s science is the more plausible and Dessler’s point that cloud decrease during ENSO cannot cause warm temperatures because MJO causes ENSO (or something like that) is wrong. That’s like saying, in the MJO sequence of events, water spray does not cause increase in humidity because we know the increase is caused by the wind.

  133. Don Sailing says:

    Would someone please edit the first sentence of my second paragraph. It should say:
    First of all on Spencer’s statement

  134. Dylan says:

    To Salvatore (initially)

    Well; sorry about the delay in replying; I had a lot to work with; & my own stuff to do.

    Now first I will look at your points Salvatore; as they are the points most outstanding. This is from the comment 9/12/2010; 11 am; on the discussion as follows;

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/12/nov-2010-uah-global-temperature-update-0-38-deg-c/#comments

    POINT 1
    The first point you made was the benefit of these discussions; & yes – with that I agree. It feels exacerbating though don’t you think? Doesn’t it sometimes feel that we are banging our head against a brick wall? Do we actually ever convince people of our views? Or do we state them & argue them only to strengthen & re-enforce our own views? Is that the benefit of this discussion? So that we end up more convinced of our own arguments than before; & convince no-one else of our arguments; except by re-enforcing the arguments of those who agree with us.

    At least; I guess; we will research the questions posed to us; and therefore others will teach us by default. But it makes you wonder what we do it for; no?

    POINT 2
    (You described as the first point; I number as above for ease of reference.)
    I do understand that lag times have to play out; but I also feel that they are used by AGW opponents as an excuse when nothing happens; or when something happens to contradict there analysis. At best; we must all agree that the very nature of sunspot lag times for example; is that they are not always clearly defined except over the long-term; thus much is left to the interpretation of data; the problem than being; that each one filters the data for his or her own ends.

    We are all guilty of pre-determining the outcome of an argument; even when we are presented with facts or data that could contradict us. We all filter it according to the bias within us. None of us are open from scratch to the truth. None of us are blank sheets. So the difficulty we have is that every time there is a warm year; or we see facts that contradict our view; AGW opponents defer to the idea that we are still under the lag of warming; & still awaiting the lag in cooling.

    But the difficulty AGW opponents then may have is – that – for example – I predict that next year; 2011 might find it-self to be the warmest ever year with a strong La Nina; perhaps around the 6th – 10th warmest year recorded. But then it will be said; as you seem to imply; that there is still a lag time from proceeding increased solar activity; & other warming phenomenon. But when will that deference to lag effects from warming factors in the past cease? In 100 years’ time; will people still point to lag times if our view is constantly contradicted?

    Of course the benefit of arguing as a proponent of AGW is that this year’s data backs it up; so I don’t have to point to lag times. But AGW opponents will then say; “You can’t judge it by one year” despite the fact that they judged for themselves that the world had cooled due to the excessive warmth of 1998.

    I highlight the fact that we are all guilty of this. We all pre-determine the outcome; as we are all so convinced of our own view; & either side of the argument can be evidenced; according to the preference of the inquirer. The question is; what level of proof or evidence is required before we will retract our view one way or the other? All that remains then is to look at on-going records as they arrive; & wrangle over how authoritative our conclusions are based on the incoming data. None of us dare say – perhaps we just don’t know? We do know it remains to be seen.

    The difficulty you are now going to find; is that if the warming process continues to occur; despite your prediction of Global cooling over the coming decades; it will become less & less easy to put it down to lag times. So clearly we see that the coming years will be the proof of the pudding.

    The fact that there are so many arguments either way – many of them valid; proves that we are announcing the outcome prematurely prior to the time. So in this I agree that we need to see how it plays out.

    But where we differ; is that right now; I don’t have to point to lag times; but to the current warmth. Next year; I will not have to either; because we will see the warmest ever La Nina year; unless the La Nina weakens; when we may even see a warmer year.

    POINT 3
    (You described as “Secondly”) If I look at long term solar activity; for example; I cannot see how you can reach the conclusion that we are entering a Dalton or Maunder minimum when we are so close to the modern maximum. We still have many years left of diminishing solar activity to come; one would think 50 or 100 years. Why do you relate this to the next two decades? You yourself give an upper limit to the lag times of 30 years; seen as we are still in the Maximum; we may well have 25 years of peak warmth still to come; from this Solar Maximum; by your own figures. Are you really so sure that you will see anything more than a slight decline in solar-activity over the rest of your lifetime? I think you are grossly overestimating the impact that on-going reduced solar activity will bring; & misplacing your hopes for an imminent decade of cooling – at least this coming decade on that basis. Ironically; it appears to me that in arguing about lag times; you are in this underestimating the impact of the lag time of this period of Solar Maximum; which smacks of over-optimism to me; & overestimating the impact of the cooling lag time that you think will suddenly arise from reduced Solar-Activity in the coming years.

    Lastly – I don’t doubt the impact of solar activity; but I also don’t doubt the impact of the current manmade warming we see. I think it will outweigh the slow cycles of sunspot warming & cooling. I do not believe there is any evidence that there will be a sudden imminent reduction in solar activity; & certainly not an imminent reduction of global temperature on that basis. But the best you can hope for; is rather a slow decline over the coming 50 or so years; with intermittently reducing peaks in the 11-year cycle. This current sunspot cycle is building quite clearly as one might expect. It is far too early to pin your hopes on anything but slight insignificant cooling from reduced solar activity over even the next 50 years I think. That is – even if we do enter a maunder minimum. Even in your best scenario this isn’t very likely to me.

    POINT 4
    I must be honest; I have found it hard to get definitive evidence of volcanic activity at all in the past; never mind enough to determine at what time volcanic activity was more or less. I recognise that this may have its own cycle; but where on earth are we going to determine this from? Do you have data about volcanic activity? Even if you do; I highly doubt is enough to reach much in the way of a valid conclusion; about how this may or may not have affected the climate; or how it will. Do you know what will happen to volcanic activity in the coming years; never mind what impact it may have on the temperature? If you do; you are privy to information I do not have. We know that Volcanoes cause initial cooling from obscuring the sun; but it may create long term warming as well; through an increase of CO2 & gasses trapping the suns warmth; emphasising the Greenhouse effect; though I realise this doesn’t fit well with your theory. IN the meantime; we are left with not having anywhere enough information on Vulcan activity to make any real conclusion scientifically plausible. There is no way that you can accurately predict enough of a change in Vulcan activity to make any conclusion on how this may affect the climate; & you are punching way above your weight in something that just so happens to be used by you to back up your argument for imminent cooling.
    All a bit too good to be true I think? In association with prolonged Solar activity; & you are setting too many parameters that might fail; or even be contradicted. Both volcanic & solar activity will have to really get a move on; & then we still have to await the lag. Either way; I fear me & you will be in our graves before we see it. These are interesting ideas and theories; but to me they are just that. A similar assessment you may have of some of my views.

    I will humour you; if you put these two facets together; you might; just might get some sort of realistic connection. But I think you are running before you can fully recognise what you are actually seeing; let alone walk (& who can blame you; I think no-one has fully recognised this). Much more research needs to be done; research you have neither the time; the funding; nor inclination for. And there isn’t enough being done about it now; as surely people would understand the topic more? Please point me to any long term Vulcan activity data; as I have not come across any significant data. Has anyone charted their frequency? Has anyone charted it against global temperature? If they have; please show me the links.

    You then refer to the fact that you think this has caused a more meridional circulation; & I hear the argument; but I say that has been caused by the pooling accumulating warmth we have seen in the Arctic; this is very much understood to have the same affect. You say it relates to the above; I say it is the accumulation of the warmth at the poles caused by AGW. You cannot say that changes in solar & volcanic activity has created warmth; because very little research has been done in this area. Much has been done in the impact of CO2. It is too early to reach any conclusion on this activity; but there has been more than 100 years of a steady increase in CO2 that we can look at the impact from.

    Even so far I can see; Salvatore; that a lot of facts that have to not only stack up; but then they also have to hang together just for it all to work at all. It just seems to be a really big challenge; you must be tired if nothing else!!! I think I know why you; Roy & others feel very exasperated sometimes. But I think any area of thinking is valid; & if you don’t emphasise & theorise on it; who will. Also even if it were hare-brained; it must be put forward so that it can challenge & sharpen the consensus. Ironically; AGW might once have been seen as a stretch; now it’s just challenged; due to the fact that “the consensus” had not completely understood or fully appreciated; or explored their own argument. Of course that is because it was pioneering. It has taken the challenge of Anti-AGW for us to really get fully to grips with our facts; & when our argument proves true; we will thank you for sharpening us as you have. Anti-AGW must be far more stretching; a constant battle against the tide; moments of let up; & moments of ferocity.

    POINT 5
    (You described this as your fourth & most important point.) You say all these factors; can be shown to be largely responsible for recent warming; those being Solar & Volcanic activity; (It has not been shown at all; very little is known about Vulcan activity; and it is far too early (a few decades perhaps) to reach conclusions about that either. You can argue that increased solar activity created additional warmth; I say – correct; & it will continue to do so. But there has been additional accumulating warmth that these things do not explain (in my view.) And regarding the Oscillations; how can you say they can be shown to create warming? Just one of them; the NAO for example; cannot be said to create warming or cooling. In winter; a negative NAO pattern creates bitter winters in North Western Europe; but the same can create warmth elsewhere. And those cycles have regularly settled on all the possibilities; so there has not been a trend for warmth based on any of these. You say they can be shown to have created warming; but I believe CO2 can & has been shown to create warming already; though I recognise that that is an interpretation of data. None of the long-term Oscillations have shown a sudden likelihood to develop a cooling pattern over the globe; especially as each causes warming & cooling in different areas anyway; & few of them are so straightforward as the ENSO is. You can no more argue this than I can argue this isn’t the case.
    To say all these things conspired to create warming is delusional. (Not because it might not have happened; but because you have not been presented with enough data to appreciate this fact.)
    If all of the tenets observed in this point are correct; so it is; but what are the chances of that? Isn’t this what posters on this website call an astrological interpretation of cause & effect; linking probably unrelated facets; & confusing the causal relationship?

    Your point 5 I have covered in Point 2.

    Point 6
    Yes; I agree; almost every spike is associated with a strong El Nino. But have you noticed that progressive El Nino’s have had progressively warmer years; because the underlying trend is of warming. That’s why virtually every one of our years appears as one of the ten warmest; La Nina; El Nino; or otherwise. Spikes do ocurr due to this phenomenon; but those spikes get progressively higher & higher. The best example is this year & 1998.

    In 1998 it took our strongest ever El Nino; stronger than 2010’s by about a degree; & longer; to create the warmth that this less significant El Nino; after a La Nina; & then another La Nina influenced year brought. It takes less input to create the same result. This is a classic case in point. I would add – though you refute it; that solar activity was low at this time; but higher in 1998. Likewise; this La Nina year may be the strongest La Nina since 1988; but it will still be among the ten warmest years; & it will also be the warmest La Nina year. So those spikes just keep getting higher & higher; & those troughs don’t get any lower. You acknowledged that all these things conspired to create warming; the question is; will the warming now stop? It hasn’t so far. Most people said that things dipped since 2002 before 2010. 2010 is the fly in the ointment. Not on one year – no; but how many do you need? 2010 should not have been as warm as 1998 if there is no underlying warming. 2011 should not be among the 10 or even 15 warmest years recorded if it is the strongest La Nina since 1988 as it now is. If it is; that’s why you can see there is continued warming; (Yeah Salvatore – we’re still in that never-ending lag.)

    Point 7
    You referred to as Point 8; well just look at the current blog on Roy Spencer’s web-site. It is still so up in the air. You can’t derive any conclusion yet surely? (Especially when the issue is currently under such scrutiny) You know that this can be argued either way. Please – humour me; the fact is we don’t know yet! More research is needed. You see the arguments against this; they are the one’s Roy Spencer quotes; re-buffing his explanations. Let me not go any further but to say – we don’t know yet on this one. If you are already drinking it to its dredges now; then it strikes me your argument lacks strength. You are looking for arguments we will be having in thirty years time; because that’s when we’ll have enough evidence to have this argument. Far be it from me to surmise; when the Powers that be are fighting it out over my head.

    Point 8. To me that is the same question as why has the Arctic warmed faster. My view is that warmth is pooling in the Northern Hemisphere. We know that the Antarctic is a very different beast; as is the sea-covered SH. To me; if there has been an increase of thickness in the Antarctic; well; there has been record breaking sea-ice loss in the arctic; & guess what; the globe overall is much warmer – you may have noticed by the fact that this is near record breaking warmth. Looking at one area of retention of ice for evidence against global warming is the same as looking at one year in isolation. You have to take it in the wider context. In general the SH has been warming; & we know why it doesn’t warm as quickly. You have to look at the globe as a whole.

    Point 9
    Reference your next post; sent 11:18 am the same day. Firstly you ask why there is not a steady increase in temperature if it is linked to CO2; as this has been consistently gone up steadily; & I would say; I’d refer you to my friend Salvatore for that… oh sorry… that’s you. You know why the temperature doesn’t simply follow CO2. You state it throughout your posts. It isn’t just CO2 that affects the climate!!! I recognise all the other factors – you know – the sort of factors that normally bring subtle changes over thousands of years; or a sudden change pent up. But underlying the normal chaotic trend; is an additional & smooth trend of warming that has picked up & slowly occurred over the last century or more. All the factors you mention do have some affect. It’s just that underneath there is a perceptibly more unnatural change that has knocked us out of the normal chaotic up & down trend; to a smoother more even warming behind the other variations. Refuting none of what you say – I recognise all these things have an effect. They are just a lot less; & not sufficient to mask an underlying trend of additional warming; & I don’t believe they ever will be; things as they are in the coming centuries. The fact that this natural variation is a lot less is precisely why you find yourself having to link them all together before you have a realistic argument. It takes all of your cooling & warming theories to amount to just my one. Albedo; Oscillations; Solar; (& more worryingly; the unstudied volcanic) impacts; all these together might explain this warming; or just one thing does; something sufficient to make up for them all. This current man-made warming. Really; what strikes you from that analysis as more likely? Don’t answer that. Actually do – say what you will. But I know you’ll have to work harder to find the arguments.

    Point 10
    The CO2 follows temperature & temperature follows CO2 debate. You paint a lovely picture – one in which there is an 800 year lag; as gentle warming slowly releases carbon in the sea. Don’t tell me; sea life is in the sea; & bird life Is in the air; trees grow wild across the globe; almost all the temperate & tropical land surfaces are covered; A satellite image of the globe would reveal gentle pristine weather patterns untouched & unseen. The seas glisten with the reflecting sun; the land pumps & breathes green; except in the inhospitable parts of the globe. As night falls what do you see? Absolutely nothing. There is no evidence of Man’s existence.

    In your perfect world; the temperature rises & 800 years later; carbon dioxide levels increased. Do you know what I’m going to do with that theoretical world?

    I’ll chop its trees down; make a bulldozer; slam it through; & I will cover the earth with concrete taking out its lungs; & filling it with smoke. When I did that to my body; I got lung cancer. If you see a satellite image; you know longer see darkness. From the poles to the equator there is unnatural light; green areas savaged.

    In your ideal world; all these things are untouched; they flow naturally; one phenomenon into the next; & all in all there exists a balance. But here we are; mucking around with the dials of the earth; without any knowledge and adding half of the original balance of CO2; & thinking it will have no effect.

    My most important point is this;

    Imagine if we behaved like this with terrorism? Imagine if the threat level was “0” until we actually saw the bombs & witnessed the decapitations. Imagine if we just lulled around with a false sense of security saying; “we haven’t seen proof that terrorists are actually attacking us; let’s wait until they have infiltrated the earth & we have absolutely no room for manoeuvre”.

    Because even if there is a 1 in 10 risk of AGW; isn’t that something worth acting on or at least researching with caution; never mind if it is as I think – virtually a foregone conclusion.

    To do nothing because you may have seen one or two holes in the established science is at best reckless; at worst tyrannical. And it leaves those who have to suffer its consequences without a leg to stand on. That to me is enough; but there is much more than that – it is already happening.
    We then hand the world over to our offspring & sod them to deal with the consequences. Please!

    Your last point; How can you compare such a time 400 million years with now? I concede; I don’t know; but nor do you. All we know is that CO2 has been constant; that one way you except that there is a link with an 800 year lag; but after 100 years (with warming) refute there is a link. I believe that there is a release of CO2 in a warmer world; I also believe; (& you should at least acknowledge there is a risk) that man-made emissions of CO2 has an unknown affect. You wouldn’t take a drug that you didn’t understand; even if its components were naturally found in the body. Why should you take such a risk with the toxicology of the earth? To me a risk of harm is enough at least to research; & to restrain.

    That’s what’s so desperately alarming about the camp of opponents of AGW. If you are right; the worst that will happen to AGW proponents is a red-face of embarrassment. But if you’re wrong; you have put in jeopardy the safety of future generations; as low lying countries are flooded; & there is an increase of destructive weather & climate patterns.

    If it were anything other than something so intangible as the climate; we would be up in arms, we would act JUST INCASE our children choke to death on our fumes; whilst we are not around to pick up the pieces. I urge you to consider that point well!!!! It’s more than a matter of principle or of theory for a true AGW proponent. Humanities future depends on it.

    You also posted a post at 12:36 pm;

    Some interesting points – & I don’t discount them. But again; we clearly cannot know.

    Ok; here is a starting point; I will post this now for initial discussion; though I’m sure there is much more to discuss; & I may have missed points. But this is an on-going debate…. So let’s see where it goes.

    Lastly; your questions are increasing my overall understanding; but also my conviction as to how important this matter is.

    Thank you for now;

    Dylan.

    I’m through with proof reading – hope its ok…

  135. Dylan says:

    Massimo;

    For now; ok if I refer you to my new post? If you have any further queries; let me know.

    Dylan.

  136. Dylan says:

    I HAVE LIFTED THIS PORTION from my post; as I think it deserves a hearing in its own right; from the pervious post by me. ***************************************************

    My most important point is this;

    Imagine if we behaved like this with terrorism? Imagine if the threat level was “0” until we actually saw the bombs & witnessed the decapitations. Imagine if we just lulled around with a false sense of security saying; “we haven’t seen proof that terrorists are actually attacking us; let’s wait until they have infiltrated the earth & we have absolutely no room for manoeuvre”.

    Because even if there is a 1 in 10 risk of AGW; isn’t that something worth acting on or at least researching with caution; never mind if it is as I think – virtually a foregone conclusion.

    To do nothing because you may have seen one or two holes in the established science is at best reckless; at worst tyrannical. And it leaves those who have to suffer its consequences without a leg to stand on. That to me is enough; but there is much more than that – it is already happening.
    We then hand the world over to our offspring & sod them to deal with the consequences. Please!

    Your last point; How can you compare such a time 400 million years with now? I concede; I don’t know; but nor do you. All we know is that CO2 has been constant; that one way you except that there is a link with an 800 year lag; but after 100 years (with warming) refute there is a link. I believe that there is a release of CO2 in a warmer world; I also believe; (& you should at least acknowledge there is a risk) that man-made emissions of CO2 has an unknown affect. You wouldn’t take a drug that you didn’t understand; even if its components were naturally found in the body. Why should you take such a risk with the toxicology of the earth? To me a risk of harm is enough at least to research; & to restrain.

    That’s what’s so desperately alarming about the camp of opponents of AGW. If you are right; the worst that will happen to AGW proponents is a red-face of embarrassment. But if you’re wrong; you have put in jeopardy the safety of future generations; as low lying countries are flooded; & there is an increase of destructive weather & climate patterns.

    If it were anything other than something so intangible as the climate; we would be up in arms, we would act JUST INCASE our children choke to death on our fumes; whilst we are not around to pick up the pieces. I urge you to consider that point well!!!! It’s more than a matter of principle or of theory for a true AGW proponent. Humanities future depends on it.

  137. Ray says:

    Dylan says:
    “That’s what’s so desperately alarming about the camp of opponents of AGW. If you are right; the worst that will happen to AGW proponents is a red-face of embarrassment. But if you’re wrong; you have put in jeopardy the safety of future generations; as low lying countries are flooded; & there is an increase of destructive weather & climate patterns.
    If it were anything other than something so intangible as the climate; we would be up in arms, we would act JUST INCASE our children choke to death on our fumes; whilst we are not around to pick up the pieces. I urge you to consider that point well!!!! It’s more than a matter of principle or of theory for a true AGW proponent. Humanities future depends on it.”
    The worst that will happen is that we will have spent large amounts of money, diverted large amounts of the Earth’s resources into dealing with a problem which is mostly theoretical. If the threat of terrorism was almost on theoretical computer projections, then I would say ignore it. Do you ACTUALLY believe that if we reduced CO2 emissions to the levels demanded by AGW proponents, that would make any difference to destructive weather and climate patterns? When was this “golden age”, when we had no severe weather and the climate followed the same climatic patterns every year? Don’t bother looking for it, since it never existed.

  138. Dylan says:

    And do you actually believe that the ongoing increase in temperature shown clearly by even this very data; won’t show an on-going increase?

    How do we know anything about a golden age – we weren’t there. All that is crucial is what has happened; & now what will happen; whilst we are here; and the part we have played; or could play in that.

  139. grzejnik says:

    Obscurity, have your posts been removed, edited or not allowed here? That is the difference between activists (RC) and science (Spencer). The activists (RC) suppression of debate is anti science in principle is it not?

    Why are so many relevant, non offensive on topic posts not allowed at RC, a site that you have referred to in this thread substantially?

    I love the fact that you can come here and say what you say, and wish that the RC blog would have the same integrity which would improve the debate. RC censorship of intellegent dissenting views and allowing ranting moronic views that agree illustrate that it is propaganda in my opinion and that is a shame.

  140. Robert Williamson says:

    I find it somewhat amusing how people begin to get emotionally when conflicting papers surface in the peer review process of science.

    But what strikes e about this post is that it’s questioning a paper of seemingly a fair amount of significance by pointing out that the other paper came to an opposing conclusion based on seemingly outdated scientific techniques when updates techniques were not only available but the opposing conclusion was actually accounted for and explained away in the previous paper.

    I personally don’t see why politics should come into play as opposed to just everyone trying to figure out which report is more accurate. If people keep bickering over faux political nonsense then we’re going to end up downplaying the issue itself and eventually run out of time to solve it! It reminds me of a book I just read called Fire in the Wind by Dana M. Stein (http://www.fireinthewind.com). He foretells a scenario when climate change becomes a centrally important issue because it has negatively impacted everyone, yet due to political bickering steps to actually help alleviate the problems climate change caused were stymied.

    So I would suggest everyone calm down and let’s focus on the issue at hand!!

  141. Dylan says:

    A very interesting point for both sides of the debate.

  142. Dylan says:

    “Sound strange? Welcome to my world.”

    I must say Roy; it sounds like a frustrating existence???

    Banging your head against a brick wall???

  143. Dylan says:

    I want to add one other final rather pointed comment. What dismay I had when there was that conference in Moscow where people fought it out over who owns which part of the arctic; so they can exploit the diminishing ice for more oil.

    You can’t have it both ways. You want to exploit the warming; but on the other hand those same that think the exploitation doesn’t matter; maintain that the earth will be cooling.

    They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.”
    (2 Peter 2:22; New Living Translation).

  144. Stephen Wilde says:

    Peter said:

    “Spencer’s criticisms are only valid if variations in clouds is a driver of ENSO, and there is no evidence that clouds drive ENSO.”

    That may be so but there is a way that cloudiness and albedo changes could skew the balance between El Nino and La Nina for centuries at a time to accord with solar changes over periods such as those between MWP, LIA and to date.

    What one needs is a mechanism whereby variations in solar activity acting via ozone chemistry in the upper atmosphere alter the pressure distribution in the troposphere.

    That is exactly what now seems to have occurred as the sun recently became less active. A new global air circulation pattern has developed with the mid latitude jets looping about much more than they did thereby sending the jets and their associated cloudbanks on large equatorward excursions.

    The process began around 2000 and has now become obvious with a correlation between that change and a new trend towards increasing cloudiness and albedo (see the Earthshine project).

    Thus less energy is now entering the oceans and we see La Ninas becoming more pronounced.

    Interestingly just such a jetstream pattern is a feature of earlier cooling spells and in particular the LIA.

    In contrast, warming spells involve the jets being pushed poleward and compressed into a narrower band around the poles and that pattern is associated with a more active sun just as in the late 20th century and the MWP. That setup leads to more energy entering the oceans and El Nino dominance emerging.

  145. Dylan says:

    I posted this prediction about 2010′s weather on the 10th March 2010 on Paul Hudson’s website; where I am currently in frequent discussion.

    It doesn’t seem so outlandish now; does it?

    The post is No. 56; & is also pasted below the link.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/paulhudson/2010/02/unusual-winter-weather-pattern.shtml?postid=93419000#comment_93419000

    THIS IS A PASTE OF MY POST:

    I sent the following email to the BBC & the Met office; but note that it is also relevant to this blog. THIS IS THE LETTER:

    Is enough of the science being correctly presented in the argument over climate change?

    When I see coverage of the recent revival in climate change scepticism; I am struck that the sources of information for the media outlets such as the BBC do not sufficiently present the science as it unfolds through the Global temperature record.

    It is ironic that climate change scepticism has a little zenith in timing as fickle as the weather. It seemed to peak at the unfolding of the coldest British winter in 30 years; just after the longest and strongest La Nina in more than a decade; at a brief moment were climate change sceptics actually had some basis for thinking that the steady warming of the globe had briefly diminished. (But it wouldn’t have been had if the science behind global temperature & El Nino/La Nina phenomenon had been correctly presented.)

    But presenters & experts fail to point out that despite the Northern Hemisphere being lashed by the coldest winter in decades; the globe as a whole experienced the warmest January ever recorded in 2010; breaking 2007’s record by 0.14C. In addition it was the warmest January & February combined since records begun; so far; at this early stage; it is the warmest year on record. Only February 1998; April 1998 (Globally the warmest months ever recorded compared to the mean temperature; in terms of anomalous warmth); & now January 2010 were warmer than February 2010 it currently seems.

    What could also be noted is that the 1998 El-Nino was stronger & started earlier; yet the globe is warmer in 2010. That is despite the fact that also in 1998; we had not just had a strong La-Nina as we have this year. The globe should be cooler than this; judging by these influences. That gives further weight to the idea that the globe has continued to warm. If this science was more understood and presented; the sceptics would have to back down; or would at least appear weaker.

    The El-Nino has only just gone past its peak; & with its 5 month lag; we’d expect it to peak in its warming effects in the summer this year. The sea temperatures are also very warm across the globe as a whole; with wide areas of warmth. At the moment this may well set us on target for the warmest year ever recorded in 2010.

    I hope my comments in some small way extend the value of presenting the science in an effective way. The evidence points to continued warming. Organisations should be able to put this across.

    Yours sincerely;

    Dylan Asphar.

  146. RW says:

    Andrew Dessler,

    I’ve read your linked response to Dr. Spencer’s comments.

    Here is my question for you:

    If the cloud feedbacks are indeed positive and inline with the IPCC model predictions of about a 3 C rise in temperature from a doubling of CO2 (a 3.7 W/m^2 increase in radiative forcing), then why doesn’t the same proportional amount of positive feedback amplification lead to 16+ C rise in temperature when the net albedo adjusted incident solar power at perihelion is about 14 W/m^2 higher? Instead, average global temperatures are actually colder at perihelion in January then at aphelion in July. How do you explain this?

    What is so special about 1 W/m^2 of additional power from CO2 that it’s at least 5 times more powerful than 1 W/m^2 of additional power from the Sun?

  147. Stephen says:

    “I personally don’t see why politics should come into play as opposed to just everyone trying to figure out which report is more accurate.”

    Well, what if politics are greatly hindering one side of the debate? What if those politics are skewing the research and science in one direction (the wrong direction? And what if the same politics promote policies based upon the wrong side of the debate and then actually instigate laws and rules that negatively affect our lives?

    Should politics come into play then?

  148. Philip says:

    Peter said: “The comment about Spencer’s paper must have been part of the post-submission editing process. Andrew’s work was completely done before Spencer’s paper came out.”

    And yet Spencer’s comments to the editor as well as Dessler’s citation demonstrate that Dessler was well aware of these issues before the paper was published. In such a situation, it would be far more usual to take due account of such obviously relevant research, but of course that would have pushed back the publication date…

  149. HR says:

    Can I ask a dumb question?

    Does the changing atmosphere-ocean heat flux during ENSO make a difference to the scatterplot in Desslers paper? My uneducated climate science brain says it’ll introduce a bias to the scatterplot but I don’t see anywhere in the paper where it says it’s been accounted for? Is the magnitude of the recharge and discharge of heat in the tropical Pacific Ocean large enough to make a difference?

  150. Peter says:

    Philip,
    His research WAS accounted for, and it all it took was one little sentence.

    There is no NEED to take further take into account his research, UNLESS, you assume that is something is true that there is ABSOLUTELY no evidence for is true. When doing science, there is a division between that which evidence supports and that which evidence doesn’t support, and people that are writing papers don’t tend to worry about the things that there is no evidence supporting too much. If that was the case, nothing would ever get published.

    Stephen Wilde,
    If your point is it is possible to imagine scenarios by which clouds affect ENSO events, but that there is absolutely no evidence to support, then you are correct.

  151. Peter says:

    I’ve asked similar questions again, but will try the same thing again:
    Let’s assume somebody wanted to apply Spencer’s “method” to Andrew’s data.

    Let’s assume to simple scenarios.
    1. The cloud feedback with respect to ENSO is positive. Other factors also are affected by ENSO and cause ENSO, and the total feedback is negative when accounting for all of factors.

    2. The cloud feedback with respect to ENSO is negative. Other factors also are affected by ENSO and cause ENSO, and the total feedback is negative.

    Practically, in the real world, if I wanted to assign a feedback value to clouds in relation to a dynamic process like ENSO, how does Spencer’s “method” help me?

    What are you going to do with Andrew’s data, and how does what you do distinguish from those two possiblities?

  152. Philip says:

    Peter said: “It has no merit because there is no evidence that radiative forcings have anything to do with causing ENSOs”

    The merit in Spencer and Braswell’s paper lies in the theoretical and observational evidence it presents for the interplay of radiative feedback and internal radiative forcing. It is relevant to the subject of Dessler’s paper because of the applicability of the analysis procedure it describes.

    The theoretical justification for Spencer and Braswell’s procedure is grounded in the energy balance model widely used in climate studies. It is possible for anyone with a basic knowledge of differential equations to demonstrate to themselves the origin of the spiral and linear patterns described in Spencer and Braswell’s paper. Spencer and Braswell also show the presence of these patterns in satellite data of flux and temperature anomalies and this in turn enables them to extract their estimate of the feedbacks from the dataset.

    It should be straightforward to apply Spencer’s procedure to the dataset used by Dessler. But instead, Dessler uses a “traditional least-squares fit” to plot a straight line through his dataset and extracts a feedbacks estimate from the slope of this line. The procedure is demonstrated visually by Dessler’s figure 2A. But simply eyeballing the figure should give pause for thought regarding the reliability of this procedure.

    But such concerns, as well as Spencer’s arguments, are simply “waved away” by Dessler, a tactic justified according to him because Spencer and Braswell’s paper has “no merit”. But as you can see, and as you can calculate, this is simply not reasonable. As Don Sailing pointed out above, “Spenser’s science is the more plausible”. By far the most convincing way for Dessler to reject Spencer’s arguments, would be to demonstrate that they are incorrect. It really shouldn’t be necessary to point this out to him.

  153. RB says:

    Re: Massimo Porzio December 10, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    Glad you figured it out yourself. The goal in an operational amplifier is to minimize positive feedback using compensation techniques, but a small amount of residual positive feedback is usually the norm which results in ringing in step responses.

    • Massimo PORZIO says:

      Hi RB,
      you say: “The goal in an operational amplifier is to minimize positive feedback using compensation techniques, but a small amount of residual positive feedback is usually the norm which results in ringing in step responses.”
      I agree, the fact is that usually OpAmps have a huge open loop gain by themselves so it’s unnecessary to apply positive feedbacks which substantially have the only pro of add gain to the system.
      I didn’t analyzed the climate positive feedback indeed, I just believed a reading on the blogosphere which said that the climate positive feedbacks were different from the usual engineering meaning.
      I should be more accurate in my references next time.
      I apologize for that.

      Massimo

  154. Peter says:

    Philip,

    If applying Spencer’s method is straight forward in the context of addressing the question that Andrew is trying to address, then why don’t you address the questions I’ve asked several times related to applying it?

    How is something that has no supporting evidence more plausible than the existing prevalent hypothesis?

    Models that have no role for clouds in ENSO formation do a good job of capturing ENSO behavior.

    What evidence is that supports that clouds are involved in creating ENSO?

    There isn’t even a model out that includes a role for clouds that does just as well.

    If there is evidence for one point of view and no evidence for the other point of view, which point of view is more plausible?

  155. Peter says:

    Let me state again, Andrew’s work was not an effort to disprove Spencer’s work. EVERYBODY accepts Spencer’s work for what it has published. In the case that something is both a causative agent and a feedback measuring its feedback value is difficult.

    With respect to clouds being a contributing agent in the formation of ENSOs, there is nothing to refute because there is nothing published supporting it.

    People don’t waste their time disproving ideas that have no supporting evidence, when there is a perfectly good explanation in place that does have supporting evidence.

  156. Stephen Wilde says:

    Peter said:

    “Stephen Wilde,
    If your point is it is possible to imagine scenarios by which clouds affect ENSO events, but that there is absolutely no evidence to support, then you are correct.”

    I think there is a lot of evidence in support in the form of observations. As the observational evidence accumulates I think my proposition will gain ground.

    As things currently stand it is the most logical interpretation of real world events that I have yet seen proposed.

    Any hypothesis that fits observations should be taken seriously. Indeed it is observations that must dictate the hypothesis.

  157. Stephen Wilde says:

    Peter said:

    “Models that have no role for clouds in ENSO formation do a good job of capturing ENSO behavior.

    What evidence is that supports that clouds are involved in creating ENSO?”

    The ENSO phenomenon itself is most likely a product of independent oceanic behaviour responding to air mass movements.

    Thus the models can be made to capture it without involving cloudiness changes.

    However the models do not capture the way that the balance of El Nino and La Nina appears to change over time to produce long term net cooling and long term net warming such as has been observed at least from the Minoan Warm Period to date.

    That 1000 year climate cycling seems to chime with changes in solar activity as witness the 500 year rise in solar activity from 1600 to date. There seems to be a basic 1000 year solar cycling from warm peak to warm peak.

    So we need a mechanism whereby such solar variability can be transferred to the oceans and the best solution is jetstream shifting causing changes in global cloudiness and albedo in tune with the solar changes.

    The best evidence at present is the recent sudden change to a strongly negative AO just as the sun became less active whereas the late 20th century period of active sun showed a strongly positive AO. There was also negative AO dominance in the LIA and the mid 20th century cooling spell.A positive AO appears to have been dominant in the MWP going by the jetstream positioning across Greenland at the time.

    A negative AO seems to encourage far more meridional jetstream movement which greatly extends the length of the air mass boundaries to increase global cloudiness and albedo.

    So there is lots of circumstantial evidence. I think the mechanism involves an active sun producing more ozone destruction in the atmosphere above 45Km to reverse the sign of the solar effect above that level and thereby change the vertical temperature profile of the atmosphere to alter the tropospheric pressure distribution.

    The recent unexpected data highlighted by Joanna Haigh is good evidence for that if it is verified. She points out that contrary to expectations a quiet sun has increased ozone quatities above 45Km presumably for a warming effect up there.

    That would also account for the cooling stratosphere and mesosphere when the sun was more active. On that basis human CFCs and CO2 would cease to have relevance.

  158. Peter says:

    Stephen Wilde,
    If your point is it is possible to imagine scenarios by which clouds affect ENSO events, but that there is absolutely no evidence to support, then you are correct.

    ;)

  159. HR says:

    Philip says:
    December 13, 2010 at 5:38 PM
    “The procedure is demonstrated visually by Dessler’s figure 2A. But simply eyeballing the figure should give pause for thought regarding the reliability of this procedure.”

    Any chance you could expand on that? Are you talkingabout the spread of data points on the scatterplot? I’m curious about that.

  160. DeNihilist says:

    Dr. Roy, look at this latest study. From model runs, seems that clouds and the atmosphere have a huge effect on ENSO

    http://users.monash.edu.au/~dietmard/papers/dommenget.slab.elnino.grl.pdf

  161. Peter says:

    DeNihilist and Stephen Wilde,
    My last comment should have been more precise. Not affect, but cause. Nobody doubts that clouds affect ENSO, which is why Andrew carried out study he did.

  162. HR says:

    Peter says:
    December 13, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    “Models that have no role for clouds in ENSO formation do a good job of capturing ENSO behavior.”

    Any chance you could qualify this? I’ve read where various climate models get aspects of ENSO wrong. From seasonal timing, to frequency, intensity as well as spatial pattern and magnitude of surface heating and ocean heat content. They also have little to no skill at predicting future direction of ENSO suggesting that they contain little of the mechanistic processes driving ENSO. That’s not to say clouds run ENSO just to suggest the possible drivers of ENSO won’t necessarily be found by looking in the present day models.

  163. Peter says:

    Not climate models, but specific models related to ENSO.

    http://iri.columbia.edu/climate/ENSO/currentinfo/SST_table.html

  164. Mango says:

    Dessler states:

    “In our present climate, the reflection of solar energy back to space dominates, and the net effect of clouds is to reduce the net flux of incoming energy at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) by ~20W/m2, as compared to an otherwise identical planet without clouds”

    Could the Pinker paper help explain the additional warming?

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/308/5723/850.full

    /Mango

  165. Dr. Shooshmon, phd. says:

    Something I think that nobody points out enough (including Roy but he has mentioned it a little bit) is that we have had more co2 in the atmosphere and the temperature has been higher. Also, between 65-150 million years ago, co2 in the atmosphere decreased by 1000 parts per million and the temperature rose by 7 degrees. This effectively contradicts the global warming theory. Furthermore, we are below the earth’s average historical atmospheric content of co2. Promiscuity is angered by this and thinks that it is unimportant.

    @ Promiscuity

    Richard Alley is a quack. Did you watch the congressional hearings? He kept referring to “pushing the big red button”. He is using a false premise, promiscuity. Since you believe that history started when you were born, I shall divulge my knowledge. The “big red button” Dr. Alley is referring to, has in fact been pushed many many times. My first paragraph perfectly addresses this.

    Sadly, Promiscuity and the scientists he supports are basically trying to tell us that something that happened before, cannot be allowed to happen again because this time it will be worse. It makes absolutely no sense.

    Example: Dr. Alley and his cohorts are telling us the earth cannot sustain a doubling of co2. Nevermind that the ppm of co2 in the atmosphere has been much much higher. We are talking about a doubling of co2 to 780ppm versus numbers as high as 7,000ppm in the time of the dinosaurs. Promiscuity should be embarassed and shamed for supporting scientists who make fake graphs.

  166. RW says:

    One of the biggest problems with the AGW global warming theory is that it treats 1 W/m^2 of additional power from CO2 as being at least 5 times as powerful as 1 W/m^2 of additional power from the Sun. That doesn’t make sense because there is no difference between power sourced from the Sun and additional power re-directed back to the surface as a result of more CO2 being added to the atmosphere. Afterall, a watt/meter squared of heat and power is watt/meter squared of heat and power, independent of where it originates from (*if this was not true, then power from the Sun and additional power from CO2 cannot both be expressed in W/m^2 as they are). Ultimately, the total power at the surface is directly tied to temperature via Stefan Boltzman – there is no escaping this.

  167. Don Sailing says:

    I keep reading: “Models that have no role for clouds in ENSO formation do a good job of capturing ENSO behavior.” and “What evidence is ‘there’ that supports that clouds are involved in creating ENSO?”

    I’m not sure you are talking about the same thing Spenser and Dessler are. How can you say clouds have no role then write a paper that clouds provide a feedback that increases the temperature? I don’t think Spenser or Dessler would. So by limiting your discussion to the “role for clouds in ENSO formation”, I think you are talking about something that neither Spenser nor Dessler were saying, even if Dessler mistakenly thought Spenser was saying that at one point.

    Figure 1 in Dessler’s paper shows that clouds do change. Whether clouds are there as a result of negative feedback to temperature change or some other cause, thereby becoming a forcing factor, is not satisfactorly demonstrated. Spencer’s paper shows that Dressler’s method will come up with the same results either way and therefore may very well be incorrect.

    You say that models in which clouds have no role correctly predict ENSO. Then you indicate that such a fact is proof positive that the model is correct. I think that statement is in many books of famous last words. If clouds do not change in those models then how can the models be correct since clouds do change as indicated by Dessler’s figure 1. If clouds do change and are not part of the computations, then the model cannot be totally correct.

    I still see Spenser’s explanation of cloud feedback as more plausible.

  168. Peter says:

    Don Sailing,

    Models that contain no role for clouds in the formation of ENSO. Something can be a feedback and not involved in the formation of the thing it is regulating via the feedback:

    http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/emailExchange.pdf
    Andrew to Roy:

    “I think our disagreement comes down to a disagreement on the cause of ENSO. I guess I’m not convinced by your argument for a few main reasons: First, people have been studying ENSO for decades and my sense is that the basic theory that it is caused by changes in surface winds driving changes in ocean circulation seems to be quite successful and explains almost all of the details of the observations(e.g. the evolution of thermocline depth).”

    Roy to Andrew:
    “Andy:
    While I agree with you on the MJO, I guess we will have to agree to disagree on ENSO for now.”

    There’s more at the link, but as you can see, they BOTH agree that what I am saying is at the heart of their disagreement.

  169. Mostly Anonymous says:

    I think I’m missing something pretty basic to the discussion. Maybe someone could help me out? Sometimes, it sounds like the claim at stake is whether increases in temperature are associated with increases (or decreases) in cloud cover — that’s the way Spencer puts it on his blog. (I use “associated with” here so as not to beg the causal question.) On this reading, the effect of a unit of cloud cover is constant (more or less), and the question is just whether warming positively or negatively causes cloud cover, right?

    Other times, it sounds like the claim at stake is whether increases in temperature are associated with increases (or decreases) in the influence of cloud cover on temperature — that’s the way I read Dessler. On this reading, the issue isn’t about cloud *cover* at all but about how clouds trap or reflect energy at different temperatures.

    Which claim is at stake or is it a hybrid of the two or something else entirely?

    [I attempted to post this question at Real Climate as well ... I have no idea if it will show up there.]

  170. Philip says:

    HR @ December 13, 2010 at 5:38 PM said: “Are you talking about the spread of data points on the scatterplot?”

    Yes. The spread you can see means that there is a high uncertainty in the feedback estimates. It also seems that estimates obtained in this way using datasets from different sources can vary widely. You can see these issues illustrated in Figures 1 and 4 of Spencer/Braswell. Here is a snip:

    “The regression slopes in Figure 1 range from near-zero to 2.5 W m-2 K-1, depending upon the averaging period, and whether surface or tropospheric temperatures are used, which illustrates why satellite diagnoses of feedback have remained so uncertain. Since all explained variances are rather low, there is great uncertainty in the value of each slope. At high time resolution, we even find some evidence of a negative regression slope when referenced to surface temperature. This cannot represent the real sensitivity of the climate system since, as mentioned previously, the system would be unstable to perturbations.”

    It’s not always justified to fit a straight line to a set of data points. In this case, the uncertain results suggest that the straight line may be missing some essential physics. Spencer/Braswell provides an alternative way of analysing the situation, which seems to me to provide a convincing explanation for the spread seen in the dataset. You can perhaps see the distinction between the two approaches visually by comparing Figure 1A and Figure 3A from Spencer/Braswell. They show the same dataset, but in Figure 3A the points are connected in time order. The mathematical model discussed in Spencer/Braswell demonstrates the existence of aligned linear features (resulting from feedback) and spiral features (resulting from forcing). These patterns can both be discerned in Figure 3A. This agreement supports their case regarding the interplay of feedbacks and forcings. The problem becomes one of extracting an estimate of the feedback (the aligned features)from the noise created by the forcings (the spirals). Their answer is to use as their feedback estimate the average slope of the individual monthly line segments.

  171. Philip says:

    Mostly Anonymous said: “Which claim is at stake or is it a hybrid of the two or something else entirely?”

    My feeling is that the framing of the discussion has been diverted by Dessler’s claim that Spencer says “ENSO is caused by clouds”, when Spencer’s actual statements suggest a far more subtle and plausible view in which there is a complex interplay of cause and effect between oceans, atmosphere and clouds.

    What is actually at stake IMO, is the issue of how feedback estimates should be extracted from satellite readings of flux and temperature anomalies. But it is difficult to see how this question can be successfully resolved when Dessler and company refuse to engage with Spencer and Braswell’s arguments.

  172. Peter says:

    Why do they have to engage Spencer and Braswell’s argument?

    Why doesn’t Spencer have to engage the previous work on ENSO formation that indicates that clouds have no role in the formation of ENSO?

    Nobody seriously doubts Spencer’s latest work. If a radiative forcing is acting as both a cause and a feedback, it is difficult to separate the cause effect from the feedback effect. At that level, I don’t think anybody is going to engage Spencer. There might be some people that put forward other methods of extracting the feedback vs. cause effect, but that’ll take time as people have to go through the process. Even if you had an idea the day that Spencer’s came out and started writing your paper that day, it wouldn’t be out yet.

    Anyway, that’s not what the disagreement between Spencer and Dessler is about.

    The disagreement is about the cause of ENSO, as the e-mails clearly show. The published literature supports Desller’s point of view.

    If Spencer wants to argue there is a serious flaw with Dessler’s work, then he needs to push back against the underlying work on the formation of ENSO.

  173. HR says:

    Philip says:
    December 15, 2010 at 5:34 AM

    Thanks that is really clear and has helped explain a lot to me.

    I guess on your first point Dessler might counter that his test of robustness would be the use of two data sets (ECMWF and MERRA), both of which give similar results. By using reanalysis data sets does this mean Dessler has eliminated much of the internal variability that is giving rise to Spencer’s spirals?

    On spiral and aligned data shouldn’t it be possible to remove the spirals and calculate feedback based on what’s left?

  174. HR says:

    Peter says:
    December 15, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    “Nobody seriously doubts Spencer’s latest work. If a radiative forcing is acting as both a cause and a feedback, it is difficult to separate the cause effect from the feedback effect.”

    The point is, this is the point of Spencer’s work, the point is not to show ENSO is caused by clouds. He clearly refutes this idea in the article above.

    “But this is not what we were claiming, nor is it a necessary condition for our interpretation to be correct.”

    Why do you insist on continuing to argue about something Spencer does not wish to claim? While skip over the real substance of his paper?

    If, on bended knee, Spencer was to repeat ten times “I do not claim ENSO is caused by clouds” would that help?

    There seems to be a scientific dis-agreement between Spencer and Dessler but I’m not convinced it’s the one Dessler (and you) have identified.

  175. Peter says:

    HR,

    Again, you’d have thought Spencer would have pointed that out in his personal conversations with Dessler.

    http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/emailExchange.pdf

    “Hi Roy-­ I think our disagreement comes down to a disagreement on the cause of ENSO.”

    “Spencer responds:
    Andy:
    While I agree with you on the MJO, I guess we will have to agree to disagree on ENSO for now.”

  176. Peter says:

    Let’s be clear when I say Spencer believes clouds cause ENSO, as I’ve already stated, I mean that Spencer believes that there is a role for the cause of clouds in ENSO.

    It doesn’t mean that he believes ONLY clouds cause ENSO.

  177. Peter says:

    The above is misworded:

    “I mean that Spencer believes that there is a role for the cause of clouds in ENSO.”

    Spencer believes that clouds have a significant role in the formation of ENSO.

  178. HR says:

    Peter says:
    December 15, 2010 at 7:39 PM

    I’d spotted that part of the exchange and considered it sufficiently vague to ignore it but I did think that was where the “ENSO is caused by clouds” was coming from. There is in fact multiple points about ENSO in the preceeding Dessler email Spencer could have been responding to any of them or simply starting the email with a throw away line. As you say it’s unlikely either author believes this is an all or nothing issue. In fact I think to a large extent the two authors are talking at odds in the email exchange because both are trying to emphasise the principle points of their position.
    Peer-reviewed literature has more precise language it seem more head way would be made by focussing on what the scientists say there.

  179. HR says:

    Dr Spencer,

    Your methodology in “Cloud and radiation budget changes associated with tropica intraseasonal oscillations” seems very similar to that used by Dessler. Although I recognise that you use very different data sets. Would your criticism of Dessler’s methodology in the phase space plots extend to include your own work as well?

  180. Christopher Game says:

    Although Dr Dessler’s 2010 Science paper cites Stephens (2005) at J. Climate, 18: 237-273, it seems to have missed the point that Stephens made when he wrote there on page 240: “Thus we have no clear theory that suggests the accumulated effects of cloud feedback are in any way a function of global-mean temperature or, as posed, ?Ts .”

    And I see no reason to think that Dr Dessler’s paper has taken account of Bates (2007) at Q.J.R. Meteorol. Soc. 133: 545-560. Bates writes at page 559: “The figurative transfer of an amplification formula from another field into the climate area must not be seen as implying that some general physical principle is being invoked.”

    I am sorry I did not read the Stephens and the Bates papers till now. Though I had not read these papers, I had at least privately reached similar conclusions long ago. But Dr Dessler is a specialist publishing in a supposedly top journal.

  181. Jens says:

    It is depressing to follow the insistence of Peter on defining the issue of contention as an argument about the causes of the ENSO. Why not focus on the physics rather than on a text analysis of emails? Since everybody seems to accept the results of the recent Spencer-Braswell paper, let us agree that the important question is whether the observed variations of the net radiation are caused by temperature variations or vice versa – or there is a mixture of these cases. This should be easy to establish since the two cases correspond to different phase relations of the variations: If temperature variations cause variations in radiation the two are in phase, whereas in the the other case they are out of phase – due to the large heat capacity of the sea. (This difference is just what gives rise to linear versus looping patterns in Spencer’s phase space plots).

    The ENSO phenomena are complicated, with cooling in some areas and heating in others, and with a complex pattern of variations in LW and SW radiation, but there is no doubt that the global average effect of El Nino is a temperature increase. What cases this increase? It could be either upwelling of warmer water or heating by radiation, leading to one or the other of the two scenarios discussed above.

    It is interesting to look at the comparison of variations in the intensity of outgoing longwave radiation over the tropical Pacific and the air temperature in the tropics (20N-20S), shown in Ole Humlum’s blog, http://www.climate4you.com, subsections Global temperatures, Outgoing longwave radiation Equator. The last of the figures, with colored vertical stripes, is the simplest to look at. It appears that just before the strong El Nino temperature maximum in 1998 there was a large dip in the intensity of infrared emission. The magnitude of the dip, about 20 W/m2, is large enough to explain the observed steep temperature rise for a heat capacity of 50-100 m water.

    Ole Humlum comments below: For the equatorial region, the diagram above suggests a certain chain of events, indicating the existence of a mechanism regulating the surface temperature: Periods of surface warming appears initially to be associated with decreasing outgoing longwave radiation (OLR). After some surface warming, OLR then stops decreasing and instead begins to increase, and after a while, surface air temperature then begins to decrease, etc. This chain of events is clearly illustrated by, e.g., the time period around the 1998 El Niño event.

    This is the description of a Spencer loop. The data is incomplete since the shortwave radiation is not included. Nevertheless it seems to me a nice example illustrating the physics of the debate which has little to do with the primary causation of the ENSO.

  182. Steve says:

    Wow, I guess Joni Mitchell was right all along when she wrote “It’s cloud illusions I recall, I really don’t know clouds at all” :) Do you think she had Andy Dessler in mind?

  183. Stephen Wilde says:

    “First, people have been studying ENSO for decades and my sense is that the basic theory that it is caused by changes in surface winds driving changes in ocean circulation seems to be quite successful and explains almost all of the details of the observations(e.g. the evolution of thermocline depth).”

    I think it is possible to have it both ways.

    Seasonal shifts in jetstream positioning with the associated surface wind changes are well capable of setting up the basic oscillation so as to cause the ENSO phenomenon in the first place.

    However over long periods of time changes occur in the relative dominance of El Nino and La Nina.

    I propose that those long term changes are a result of a separate non seasonal variation in wind patterns.

    As the sun varies in its level of activity it affects the polar vortices which expand and contract in tune with the sun and pull the air circulations poleward or push them equatorward.

    The change in jetstream positioning alters total global cloudiness and global albedo thereby altering shortwave input to the oceans to skew ENSO first one way ( in favour of El Nino if the sun is active) and then the other way (in favour of La Nina if the sun is less active).

    The troposphere just goes along for the ride and produces the observed climate cycling such as that seen from MWP to LIA to date.

  184. Buzz Belleville says:

    “Dessler’s paper is being announced on probably THE best day for it to support the IPCC’s COP-16 meeting here in Cancun, and whatever agreement is announced tomorrow in the way of international climate policy.

    I suspect – but have no proof of it – that Dessler was under pressure to get this paper published to blunt the negative impact our work has had on the IPCC’s efforts.”

    Uh, Dr. Spencer, the IPCC doesn’t hold COP meetings. It’s the UNFCCC. As you know, the IPCC just issues assessment reports every 5 years or so (next one in 2012 or 2013) compiling the world’s scientific reports. The timing of Dessler’s paper can’t possibly be correlated with anything “the IPCC” is doing.
    (Reminds me of the statement from “Climate Confusion” that the Kyoto Protocol is just a more common name for the UNFCCC)

  185. Richard Postma says:

    I attended Roy’s panel talk at the Denver AAPG panel discussion and followed up with e-mails to Kevin Tremberth at NCAR, who was also on the panel. After several exchanges, in which I mentioned several scientists who were AAGW skeptics, Tremberth dismissed them, incl. Spencer, as out of touch, over the hill or irrelevant. That caused me to immediately lose interest in what Tremberth had to say. If their best argument is to denigrate their critics, then the “alarmists” don’t have much to offer.
    As for the cloud feedback, common sense would imply that if it were positive, the Earth’s climate would have run away a long time ago. The long-term relative stability of Earth’s climate, lasting for millions of years, implies a stabilizing effect, i.e. negative feedback. That alone would tend to support Spencer’s research.

  186. Gary Hemminger says:

    Having only a Masters degree in computer science from Stanford I was hoping some of you PhD types that are clearly smarter than I could help explain a couple of things about the whole AGW theory.

    1. If mankind is responsible for the warming of this planet due to CO2 and if CO2 is the driver of the climate that dominates all other factors, including natural variability, then how can the weather be colder? If the weather is colder this year and last, then how can CO2, which is increasing, be the dominant factor?

    2. If 1 day or 1 year does not climate make, why does the past 30-40 years of warming also not count as simple weather and not a climate shift? Given the vast timescales, why does 30-40 years count as a trend?

  187. David says:

    Gary, no need for a PHD I think.

    1. There is a natural variation of numerous natural cycles of various lengths lending a trend to a chaotic system, so within any given trend there can be ariations that go against the trend for different lengts of time.

    2. The past thirty years can only count for at the most 1/2 of a an observed 60 year natural cycle, so any anthropogenic forcing factor must be, at a minimum, compared against a 60 year peak to peak.

  188. David says:

    please excuse the typos, I just finshed an 18 hour work shift.

  189. amabo says:

    I agree with MikeC, the best thing for Dessler to do would be to get his comments posted on the Air Vent, ClimateEtc, the Blackboard or even ClimateAudit, I’m sure they’d be happy to accomodate him, Jeff especially, and he’d get a lot more exposure.

  190. Bob Tisdale says:

    Stephen Wilde says: “Seasonal shifts in jetstream positioning with the associated surface wind changes are well capable of setting up the basic oscillation so as to cause the ENSO phenomenon in the first place.”

    Conjecture. Not supported by data.

    Stephen Wilde says:”I propose that those long term changes are a result of a separate non seasonal variation in wind patterns.”

    Conjecture. Not supported by data.

    Stephen Wilde says: “As the sun varies in its level of activity it affects the polar vortices which expand and contract in tune with the sun and pull the air circulations poleward or push them equatorward.”

    Conjecture. Not supported by data.

    Stephen Wilde says: “The change in jetstream positioning alters total global cloudiness and global albedo thereby altering shortwave input to the oceans to skew ENSO first one way ( in favour of El Nino if the sun is active) and then the other way (in favour of La Nina if the sun is less active).”

    Conjecture. Not supported by data.

    Stephen Wilde says: “The troposphere just goes along for the ride and produces the observed climate cycling such as that seen from MWP to LIA to date.”

    Irrelevant. The discussion on this thread pertains to the last decade or so, not the MWP or LIA

  191. James Watson says:

    Hello, Mr Spencer.

    A group of friends, here in England, are arguing about ‘positive feedback’ of heat from the colder atmosphere to the warmer land. I am sorry if this post is ‘off topic’ and fully understand if you decide not to talk. We are not scientists, physicists or climatologists, but we are sensible people, even though we cannot ‘get to grips with’ much of the mathematics.

    We wish to plod back to your post of July 2010 entitled: “Yes, Virginia, cooler objects can make warmer objects warmer still”.

    We looked at your thought experiment – the heated plate in a vacuum chamber with cold sides. We accepted that the introduction of a second, unheated plate would re-radiate heat to the first plate, but we could not agree with your logic that this disproved the 2nd law. The flaw in your logic, as we understood it, was that the system in your thought experiment was not a ‘closed’ system. We thought that the increase in the temperature of the first plate (from 150 degrees to 160 degrees) resulting, according to your suggestion, from the re-radiation from the second plate, could just as easily be attributed to the continuing imput of Energy from the external electric current. That is, the increase in temperature of the first plate can only occur if the imput of Energy from the electric current continues. Without that external imput, the ‘closed’ system within the vacuum chamber would display ‘normal’ hot to cold characteristics.

    We now relate these thoughts to the ‘Earth System’. We see a ‘closed’ system during the night, in that the external influence of the Sun is absent. We see a closed system involving the Earth and space, provided that we exclude volcanoes and the radioactivity of the Earth itself. We see no way in which heat energy can move from cold to hot in these circumstances (other than some peculiarity where a very dense cloud is locally radiating – erm… does that make any sense? We do not know. I guess that it must be so, since lightening must originate from inequalities in electric charge between the Earth and the clouds. Very odd, is it not? Feynman, in the 1960s said that we do not really know much about clouds and lightening. We have not seen anything that shows that we know any more now.

    I am sorry that this post is horribly long, and so I will condense it. Can you say what happens to the Closed Earth System during the night time? If you cannot, then all IPCC’s conjectures are worthless.

    Finally, it seems to us to be true that WE NEED TO START AGAIN. Climategate has revealed that there were DISGUSTING antipathies. Only a fresh approach will re-ignite confidence in Science. We have the time – the world is not going to end tomorrow.

  192. Julian Flood says:

    Dr Spenser,

    I posted the following at Real Climate on the thread by Dr Dessler, but unfortunately I was too late to get a response.

    quote
    Dr Dessler,

    Thank you for taking the time to explain your results to interested non-scientists.

    You write:

    quote
    But aerosols’ radiative impact is not expected to
    correlate with DTs, so the effect of aerosols is to
    add uncertainty to the cloud feedback calculation
    but should not introduce a bias.
    unquote

    My particular interest is aerosols and the effects of pollution on their production. I can think of two mechanisms which might alter their numbers during ENSO events. Varying windspeeds will change the number and vigour of breaking waves — by an amount which is presumably quantifiable — and stratification will change phytoplankton populations and hence DMS levels in the ocean/atmosphere boundary layer.

    Both mechanisms will be correlated with SST changes to some extent — again by an amount which is presumably quantifiable. My guess is lower windspeeds and/or higher SSTs would lead to fewer aerosols, but I am, of course, open to actual measurements correcting that guess.

    Would accounting for these changes influence the conclusions of your paper re a possible bias? Are there any measurements of aerosol changes during ENSO events which could be plugged into your analysis?

    TIA.
    unquote

    Do you have any thoughts about the questions?

    JF