UPDATE: Further Evidence of Low Climate Sensitivity from NASA’s Aqua Satellite

January 28th, 2011 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

After yesterday’s post, I decided to run the simple forcing-feedback model we developed to mimic the Aqua satellite observations of global oceanic temperature and radiative flux variations.

I’ve also perused the comments people have made there, and will try to clarify what I’ve done and why it’s important.

First of all, my (and even the IPCC’s) emphasis on changes in the global radiative budget cannot be overemphasized when we are trying to figure out whether “global warming” is mostly manmade or natural, and how the climate system responds to forcing.

Changes in the global-average radiative budget are about the only way for the Earth to warm or cool on time scales of years or longer (unless there is some sort of change in geothermal heat flux…we won’t even go there.)

What we want to know, ultimately, is how much warming will result from the radiative imbalance caused by adding CO2 to the atmosphere. It is natural to try to answer that question by examining how Mother Nature handles things when there are natural, year-to-year warmings and coolings. I believe that the NASA satellite assets we have in orbit right now are going to go a long way toward providing that answer.

The answer depends upon how clouds, evaporation, water vapor, etc., change IN RESPONSE TO a temperature change, thus further altering the radiative balance and final temperature response. This is called feedback, and it is traditionally referenced to a surface temperature change.

The GOOD news is that we have pretty accurate satellite measurements of the rather small, year-to-year changes in global radiative fluxes over the last 10 years, as well as of the temperature changes that accompanied them.

The BAD news is that, even if those measurements were perfect, determining feedback (temperature causing radiative changes) is confounded by natural forcings (radiative changes causing temperature changes).

This interplay between natural variations in global-average temperature and radiative flux are always occurring, intermingled together, and the goal is to somehow disentangle them to get at the feedback part.

Keep in mind that “feedback” in the climate system is more of a conceptual construct. It isn’t something we can measure directly with an instrument, like temperature. But the feedback concept is useful because we are pretty sure that elements of the climate system (e.g. clouds) WILL change in response to any radiative imbalance imposed upon the system, and those changes will either AMPLIFY or REDUCE the temperature changes resulting from the initial imbalance. (While it might not be exactly the same kind of feedback electrical engineers deal with, there is currently no better term to describe the process…a process which we know must be occurring, and must be understood in order to better predict human-caused global warming.)

More than any other factor, feedbacks will determine whether anthropogenic global warming is something we need to worry about.

An Example from the Kitchen
While this might all seem rather cryptic, ALL of these processes have direct analogs to a pot of water warming on the stove. You can turn the heat up on the stove (forcing), and the water will warm. But if you also remove the lid in proportion to the stove being turned up (negative feedback), you can reduce the warming. It’s all based upon energy conservation concepts, which ordinary people are exposed to every day.

The IPCC believes Mother Nature covers up the pot even more as the stove is turned up, causing even more warming in response to a “forcing”.

I think they are wrong.

NASA Aqua Satellite Observations of the Global Oceans
Similar to what I plotted yesterday, the following plot shows time-lagged regression coefficients between time series of global oceanic radiative flux (from the CERES instrument on Aqua), and sea surface temperature (from AMSR-E on Aqua). Yesterday’s plot also showed the results when I used the Hadley Center’s SST measurements (the dashed line in that graph), and the results were almost identical. But since I’m the U.S. Science Team Leader for AMSR-E, I’ll use it instead. :)

The way these regression coefficients can be interpreted is that they quantify the rate at which radiative energy is GAINED by the global ocean during periods when SST is rising, and the rate at which radiative energy is LOST when SST is falling. Conceptually, the vertical line at zero months time lag can be thought of as corresponding to the time of peak SST.

The Simple Model “Best” Match to the Satellite Data
I’ve run our simple forcing-feedback model (originally suggested to us by Isaac Held at Princeton) to try to match the satellite observations. I force the model with quasi-random time variations in the global radiative energy budget — representing, say, natural, quasi-chaotic variations in cloud cover — and then see how the model temperatures respond. The model has been available here for many months now, if you want to play with it.

The model’s response to these radiative forcings depends upon how I set the model’s: (1) ocean mixing depth, which will determine how much the temperature will change for a given energy imbalance imposed upon the model, and (2) feedback parameter, which is what we ultimately want to determine from the satellite data.

I found that a 70 meter deep layer provided about the right RATIO between the satellite-observed monthly radiative variations (0.8 Watts per sq. meter standard deviation) and SST variations (0.08 deg. C standard deviation). At the same time, I had to adjust the magnitude of the radiative forcing to get about the right ABSOLUTE MAGNITUDES for those standard deviation statistics, too.

The “best fit” I got after about an hour of fiddling around with the inputs is represented by the blue curve in the above chart. Importantly, the assumed feedback parameter (5.5) is solidly in “negative feedback” territory. IF this was the true feedback operating in the real climate system on the long time scales of ‘global warming’, it would mean that our worries over anthropogenic global warming have been, for all practical purposes, a false alarm.

The Simple Model Run With the IPCC’s Average Feedback

At this point, a natural question is, How does the simple model behave if I run it with a feedback typical of the IPCC climate models? The average net feedback parameter across the IPCC models is about 1.4 Watts per sq. meter per degree, and the following plot shows the simple model’s response to that feedback value compared to the satellite observations.

A comparison between the 2 charts above would seems to indicate that the satellite data are more consistent with negative feedback (which, if you are wondering, is a net feedback parameter greater than 3.2 W m-2 K-1) than they are with positive feedback. But it could be that feedbacks diagnosed from the IPCC models only over the global oceans will be necessary to provide a more apples-to-apples comparison on this point.

Important Caveat
While it would be tempting to think that the IPCC models are potentially invalidated by this comparison, Dessler (2010) has correctly pointed out that the short-term feedback behavior of the IPCC models appear to have little or no relationship to their long-term climate sensitivity.

In other words, even if short-term feedbacks in the real climate system are strongly negative, this doesn’t prove the long-term global warming in the models is wrong.

In fact, NO ONE HAS YET FOUND A WAY WITH OBSERVATIONAL DATA TO TEST CLIMATE MODEL SENSITIVITY. This means we have no idea which of the climate models projections are more likely to come true.

This dirty little secret of the climate modeling community is seldom mentioned outside the community. Don’t tell anyone I told you.

This is why climate researchers talk about probable ranges of climate sensitivity. Whatever that means!…there is no statistical probability involved with one-of-a-kind events like global warming!

There is HUGE uncertainty on this issue. And I will continue to contend that this uncertainty is a DIRECT RESULT of researchers not distinguishing between cause and effect when analyzing data.

Toward Improved Climate Sensitivity Estimates
As I mentioned yesterday, Dessler (2010) only addressed ZERO-time lag relationships, as did all previous investigators doing similar kinds of work. In contrast, the plots I am presenting here (and in yesterday’s post) show how these regression coefficients vary considerably with time lag. In fact, at zero time lag, the relationships become virtually meaningless. Cause and effect are hopelessly intertwined.

But we CAN measure radiative changes BEFORE a temperature peak is reached, and in the months FOLLOWING the peak. Using such additional “degrees of freedom” in data analysis will be critical if we are to ever determine climate sensitivity from observational data. I know that Dick Lindzen is also advocating the very same point. If you are a lay person who understands this, can i get an “amen”? Because, so far, other climate researchers are keeping their mouths shut.

It is imperative that the time lags (at a minimum) be taken into account in such studies. Our previous paper (Spencer & Braswell, 2010) used phase space plots as a way of illustrating time lag behavior, but it could be that plots like I have presented here would be more readily understood by other scientists.

Unfortunately, the longer the climate community establishment keeps its head in the sand on this issue , the more foolish they will look in the long run.


92 Responses to “UPDATE: Further Evidence of Low Climate Sensitivity from NASA’s Aqua Satellite”

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  1. Thank you Dr. Spencer, I am so pleased you wrote this article in witch you say: “Changes in the global-average radiative budget are about the only way for the Earth to warm or cool on time scales of years or longer (unless there is some sort of change in geothermal heat flux…we won’t even go there.)”

    Yes, and I say that just like in your An Example from the Kitchen: “While this might all seem rather cryptic, ALL of these processes have direct analogs to a pot of water warming on the stove. You can turn the heat up on the stove (forcing), and the water will warm.”
    – Is the “forcing” you talk about here likened to increased radiation from The Sun? –
    Then you go on: ”But if you also remove the lid in proportion to the stove being turned up (negative feedback), you can reduce the warming. It’s all based upon energy conservation concepts, which ordinary people are exposed to every day.”
    - Ok, so a lid on the pot can be seen as positive feed back – I agree – it is for that very reason I have always been skeptical of any “Climate Science” that directs all it’s attention in favor of radiation and at the same time almost completely ignores convection. (Convection has, in my opinion, got everything to do with temperature. Radiation has little to with temperature and everything to do with energy. (Energy is what science cannot yet explain.) I see radiation as a transport system for energy only. Conduction as a transport system of energy through molecular movement where heat is a bi-product, and Convection I see as a pure transport-system for increased temperature or heat. – Am I completely wrong or maybe just not right at all?
    As I commented to your previous article “The UK Met Office has admitted officially that 2010 has tied with 1998 as the warmest year since records began.” Or to be exact they said: “With a mean temperature of 14.50 °C, 2010 becomes the second warmest year on record, after 1998. The record is maintained by the Met Office and the Climatic Research Unit at UEA.”
    In other words they have said that the lid was taken off the pot in 1998. They are working “hand in glove” with the IPCC and should now be challenged as to how nature has managed to “hide this trick” in such a way that, all along they have been claiming “ongoing AGW” after 1998.

    You may think this comment is a bit “off the topic” but to me, as a lay man, it is important to get these things straight in my mind. And unless I ask and tell you why I ask I shall never know

  2. Doug Proctor says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    Trenberth and others look for, discuss and complain about a “missing” 0.85 W/m2 of oceanic heating from 340.5 W/m2 of insolation, of which some is reflected and refracted without causing any heating. The IPCC numbers and others cited are specific, and allow such minute amounts to be considered “missing”. I’d like to know what our actual error bar is, not by measurement precision, but by measurement accuracy, on the basis of my following understanding.

    As I understand, the albedo is given as 0.296, but 0.3 is “close enough”. But the annual variation is “about” 15-20%. So a non-reflected amount is 238.8 or 239.7 W/m2 (a difference of 0.9W/m2), with a variation during the year of +/- 20.9 W/m2 (using 17.5% variation). During the course of the year eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit changes the insolation by +/-3% or +/- 7.7W/m2. This is on an averaged, planet-wide range. So we have +\- 7.7 W/m2 warming Earth at any time, while reflection changes during the year +/- 20.9 W/m2. We have weather because the heat is not distributed evenly, and we have different weather year-to-year because the heat is not distributed the same year-to-year. So, when we look to “balance” the energy budget, what time period, and with what +/- are we, at best, working with?

    In January the Earth is closest to the sun, but as you have stated, in June the Earth is about 2.2K warmer than in January because the geographic spread of land etc. is different on the northern and southern hemispheres. Geographic positioning clearly matters. What, then, of the cloud cover variations over time on a geographic basis? Any one who has spent a summer with a lot of cloudy days knows there is a considerable impact on local temperatures. So location is important, as well as time.

    The assumption is that (I gather) over a yearly basis the time-location variations of (at least) +/-28 W/m2 average out. On what basis is this claim made? And to what final variation? How do we know this to be true? If the variation averages out over more than a year, one would expect to see a multi-year, possibly random up-down pattern that could have significant impacts vis-a-vis temperature changes at a planetary scale. Some would cancel, some would add. At any rate, if albedo itself is not an average within a year, a low albedo in a perihelion position would have a large effect relative to the average.

    I find the Trenberth-style discussions of questionable value in what seems to me to be a dynamically changing system with probable greater annual variation in the heating of the earth. Yes, there is an equilibrium, of sorts, by a dynamic feedback, but is this equilibrium really to an 0.4 W/m2 level? If so, where is the data to support such a claim?

    • You’ve raised a couple of important points, Doug.

      First, on Trenberth’s missing heat….I don’t know whether Kevin realizes it, but ALL of his “missing heat” is inferred from a downward trend in reflected sunlight over the CERES period of record (after 2000). In fact, in the plots I presented, I had to detrend those data, otherwise the plot of the satellite data was severely distorted.

      In other words, the CERES radiation budget data are NOT consistent with the global temperature record…I personally believe there is a spurious trend in the reflected SW data. There is no “missing heat”.

      The 2nd point has to to with seasonal cycle effects. The average annual cycle has been removed from the data, resulting in anomalies (departures from the annual cycle). This raises the question of what information on climate sensitivity might be in the annual cycle itself.

      I content it is impossible to know. Because of the uneven distribution of land masses over the Earth, seasonal changes can cause changing circulation patterns — especially in the winter when cold air builds up over the continents — which can alter cloud cover, and thus the global radiative budget. Since there are not temperature feedback effects, but changes due to geographic differences in temperature, we rally can’t infer feedback from them.

  3. Christopher Game says:

    Dr Spencer writes: “What we want to know, ultimately, is how much warming will result from the radiative imbalance caused by adding CO2 to the atmosphere.”

    I suggest that we want to know what will be the effect of adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

    One element of this is the possible warming, and one element of the possible warming is the effect of radiative imbalance, but there are other elements, such as the effect of radiative balance re-distribution. For example, a shift in the balances of absorbed solar radiation and OLR from different latitudes without change in total overall balance. Perhaps CO2 might alter the bulk flow transport of energy from low to high latitudes in an important way.

    Working alone with the “radiative imbalance caused” seems like cutting to the chase, and focusing on the thing that really matters, but I think the problem is important enough to deserve a more general approach.

    The focus on radiative imbalance is used to cover a multitude of sins against ordinary scientific method. The temptation is to try to think as if the radiative imbalance were a true external driver variable, when it is in fact largely determined by feedback – in the ordinary scientific sense of the term (I do not like to use the bizarre notions of the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism) – by feedback amongst the internal state variables of the system.

    I am not disputing Dr Spencer’s statement: “Changes in the global-average radiative budget are about the only way for the Earth to warm or cool on time scales of years or longer (unless there is some sort of change in geothermal heat flux…we won’t even go there.)”

    But I would not say that Earth’s warming or cooling is a very precise statement of all that is of interest to us. There is reason to believe, for example, that a wetter atmosphere would result in more snow falling on Greenland and the Antarctic mainland, and thus a shift of water from the sea to the ice masses, contributing to lowering of the sea level.

  4. RW says:

    Doug Proctor says:

    “As I understand, the albedo is given as 0.296, but 0.3 is “close enough”. But the annual variation is “about” 15-20%. So a non-reflected amount is 238.8 or 239.7 W/m2 (a difference of 0.9W/m2), with a variation during the year of +/- 20.9 W/m2 (using 17.5% variation). During the course of the year eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit changes the insolation by +/-3% or +/- 7.7W/m2. This is on an averaged, planet-wide range. So we have +\- 7.7 W/m2 warming Earth at any time, while reflection changes during the year +/- 20.9 W/m2. We have weather because the heat is not distributed evenly, and we have different weather year-to-year because the heat is not distributed the same year-to-year. So, when we look to “balance” the energy budget, what time period, and with what +/- are we, at best, working with?

    In January the Earth is closest to the sun, but as you have stated, in June the Earth is about 2.2K warmer than in January because the geographic spread of land etc. is different on the northern and southern hemispheres. Geographic positioning clearly matters. What, then, of the cloud cover variations over time on a geographic basis? Any one who has spent a summer with a lot of cloudy days knows there is a considerable impact on local temperatures. So location is important, as well as time.”

    I think the main reason why the global average temperature is about 3 C colder in January despite perihelion is due to the rapidly increasing snow accumulations in the northern hemisphere, which increase the earth’s albedo about 10% (from about 0.3 to about 0.33).

    If you run some rough numbers, it works out. The yearly averaged post albedo power from the Sun is about 239 W/m^2 (341 x 0.7 = 239). The yearly average temperature is about 288K (390 W/m^2 via S-B at the surface for a gain of about 1.6). At perihelion the post albedo power from the Sun is about 234 W/m^2 (350 W/m^2 perihelion x 0.33 albedo = 116 W/m^2; 350 – 116 = 234 W/m^2 post albedo at perihelion). 234 W/m^2 x 1.6 = 375 W/m^2 or about 285K for – 3 C.

  5. Christopher Game says:

    Dr Spencer writes: “What we want to know, ultimately, is how much warming will result from the radiative imbalance caused by adding CO2 to the atmosphere. It is natural to try to answer that question by examining how Mother Nature handles things when there are natural, year-to-year warmings and coolings. ….

    The answer depends upon how clouds, evaporation, water vapor, etc., change IN RESPONSE TO a temperature change, thus further altering the radiative balance and final temperature response. This is called feedback, and it is traditionally referenced to a surface temperature change.”

    I think one should also take into account that Mother Nature attends not only to temperature change. She is also interested in other factors. For example, what is the cause of the great Pacific multidecadal oscillation, and of the El Niño – La Niña phenomena? Not just “temperature”.

    Dr Spencer writes: “The answer depends upon how clouds, evaporation, water vapor, etc., change IN RESPONSE TO a temperature change, thus further altering the radiative balance and final temperature response. This is called feedback, and it is traditionally referenced to a surface temperature change.”

    Dr Spencer here, by “traditionally”, refers to usage that follows Hansen 1984 and Schlesinger 1985 that restricts the meaning of the word ‘feedback’ to be limited to ‘response to temperature change’. Hansen and Schlesinger cite Bode 1945 in what I consider to be seriously misleading way.

    For myself, I was very familiar with various ideas about feedback long before I ever heard of Hansen or Schlesinger, so I come a ‘tradition’ far different from Dr Spencer’s. The “tradition” to which he refers is in my view a distortion of the wider and older tradition.

  6. RW says:

    Dr Spencer writes: “What we want to know, ultimately, is how much warming will result from the radiative imbalance caused by adding CO2 to the atmosphere. It is natural to try to answer that question by examining how Mother Nature handles things when there are natural, year-to-year warmings and coolings. ….

    The answer depends upon how clouds, evaporation, water vapor, etc., change IN RESPONSE TO a temperature change, thus further altering the radiative balance and final temperature response. This is called feedback, and it is traditionally referenced to a surface temperature change.”

    I would argue that this is generally already known from the measured data – that is the ratio of surface power to the post albedo power from the Sun. The only exception being the surface albedo feedback, but it doesn’t seem possible that a relatively small 0.5-1 C intrinsic rise could possibly melt enough ice to make up the difference.

    • This raises a point I sometimes advocate: it could be that we already know cloud feedback is negative since the net effect of clouds is to cool the Earth in response to “radiative forcing” by the sun.

      Of course, the ‘scientific consensus’ on this is that it’s not that simple, and that the response to small radiative forcings of the system from its average state could be different from the average cooling effect of clouds on the climate system.

      Well, no one has convincingly demonstrated that to be the case…and the reason why is the mixup between cause and effect when interpreting the cloud and temperature variability data we have.

      • RW says:

        Dr. Roy Spencer says:

        “This raises a point I sometimes advocate: it could be that we already know cloud feedback is negative since the net effect of clouds is to cool the Earth in response to “radiative forcing” by the sun.

        Of course, the ’scientific consensus’ on this is that it’s not that simple, and that the response to small radiative forcings of the system from its average state could be different from the average cooling effect of clouds on the climate system.

        Well, no one has convincingly demonstrated that to be the case…and the reason why is the mixup between cause and effect when interpreting the cloud and temperature variability data we have.”

        I don’t disagree, but how can the ‘scientific consensus’ claim that infrared power from the Sun and GHGs obey different physics in the system? A watt is a watt – a joule a joule, independent of where it originates from, is it not?

        The combined effects of all the feedbacks, including water vapor and clouds, are embodied in the measured response at the surface from the post albedo energy coming in from the Sun; unless one wants to argue that the feedbacks somehow haven’t manifested themselves over hundreds, thousands and millions of years?

        When ‘gain’ is separated from feedback, the net feedback operating on the system as a whole is unambiguously negative – that is as radiative forcing from the Sun increases, the gain decreases and vice versa. This is true both globally and hemispherically.

        The surface gain of about 1.6 supports an upper limit of only about 0.6 C from a doubling of CO2 because there is no physical or logical reason why such a small increase at the surface of 1.85 W/m^2 from 2xCO2 will behave radically differently than the original 99+ percent from the Sun. In addition, because the net feedback operating on the gain as a whole is negative, the small intrinsic increase of about 0.6 C from 2xCO2 would be opposed rather than re-enforced – making a 3 C rise a virtual impossibility.

  7. Christopher Game says:

    Dr Spencer writes: “those changes will either AMPLIFY or REDUCE the temperature changes”

    Dr Spencer is here using rather mixed language. The usual engineering inverse of ‘amplify’ is ‘attenuate’, and the usual engineering use on ‘amplify’ means ‘linearly add power to the signal by recourse to an auxiliary power supply’. If Dr Spencer were thinking in terms of engineering amplification, why would he not also refer to attenuation. He is apparently not thinking in terms of engineering amplification. There is no auxiliary power supply in the atmosphere that can support amplification in the engineering sense of the word.

    Why does he not then simply use the ordinary language word ‘increase’ as the inverse of ‘reduce’?

    My answer to this is that he has been bluffed by the IPCC to use the word ‘amplify’; they like this term because it lets them equivocate in meaning between the ordinary language use of the work and the engineering use of the word. It works a treat as a propaganda trick for them.

    Even the very ideas of increase and reduction here are relative to some arbitrary virtual reference and as Dr Spencer very rightly says: ““feedback” in the climate system is more of a conceptual construct.” The ideas of increase and reduction are used here metaphorically, not categorically.

    I think it is a mistake to let the IPCC dictate the language in which we think about these things: their interest is to subtly tilt the playing field of debate in their favour by cunning shifts of language usage. And they are good at tilting the playing field.

    How could I say that the doughty Dr Spencer, champion extraordinaire of rational climatology, much admired by me, has let himself be ‘bluffed’ by the evil IPCC? Present company excepted, very few are perfect. I trust Dr Spencer will take my saying this in good part.

    • Christopher, I don’t see any other way of addressing the climate sensitivity issue other than talking in terms of something like “feedback”. You might think its use by the climate community bastardizes the original definition of the term by electrical engineers, but how can you dispute that something like ‘feedback’ is at the heart of climate sensitivity?

      If you know of some other metric that is related to how much warming a climate model produces over time in response to a radiative imbalance imposed upon the model, I would love to know what it is.

  8. Christopher Game says:

    Dr Spencer writes: “ALL of these processes have direct analogs to a pot of water warming on the stove. You can turn the heat up on the stove (forcing), and the water will warm. But if you also remove the lid in proportion to the stove being turned up (negative feedback), you can reduce the warming.”

    Mother Nature doesn’t actually remove the lid, I think; this is a metaphor, and not a bad one. But I think a better one is that the saucepan is actually boiling, and this limits the temperature rise. This may not be exactly so: the lid may have some restrictive effect on the escape of steam, so that the pressure in the pot rises as the rate of heat transfer rises, and this raises the boiling point.

    The analogy here is between the bubbles in the saucepan and the protected towers of deep tropical convection of Riehl and Malkus 1958, also called penetrative convection by Lindzen Hou Farrell 1982. You can see the mighty towers out of the aeroplane window when you fly over the Pacific equator during the day. Around the world, there are several thousands of them active at any one time.

    I call this kind of dynamical structure ‘phase pinning’. The metaphorical ‘boiling point’ is about an equatorial ocean surface temperature near 28 C.

    Dr Spencer writes: “The IPCC believes Mother Nature covers up the pot even more as the stove is turned up, causing even more warming in response to a “forcing”.

    I think they are wrong.” Champion, I say.

    • Yes, I am very familiar with convection. It’s what I was originally trained in.

      But a possible surface temperature limit in the convergence zones of the tropics is a localized phenomenon, while the global radiative budget is influenced by the much larger regions of gently sinking air that balances those small areas where warm moist air is rapidly rising.

      We need to know how that whole coupled system changes with forcing…the fact that there might be a surface temperature limit reached in one small portion of it doesn’t help very much. Besides…the apparent SST limit in the tropical warm pool is not nearly as fixed as the temperature limit of boiling water.

  9. RW says:

    Christopher Game says:

    “I think it is a mistake to let the IPCC dictate the language in which we think about these things: their interest is to subtly tilt the playing field of debate in their favour by cunning shifts of language usage. And they are good at tilting the playing field.”

    I agree. Even referring to increases GHGs as “forcings” is misleading. All GHGs really do is adjust the system’s response to the power coming in from the Sun. But “forcing” sounds scarier and more significant I guess, so that’s probably why they use it.

  10. Christopher Game says:

    Dr Spencer writes: “I’ve run our simple forcing-feedback model (originally suggested to us by Isaac Held at Princeton) to try to match the satellite observations.”

    The usual IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism is about a static model for eventual stationary states. Here Dr Spencer is talking about a distinctly different object: he is talking about a dynamical model expressed by a firts order time-dependent ordinary differential equation. We are looking at confusing use of language here.

    Fortunately, Dr Spencer is here telling explicitly what model he is referring to. The use of the term ‘feedback’ here is quite natural here, in contrast with its use in the IPCC formalism for the static case.

    Dr Spencer’s “forcings” here are quasi-external drivers: he does not explicitly derive them from changes in internal state variables for this purpose, though he does say that he thinks they would be so derivable: “representing, say, natural, quasi-chaotic variations in cloud cover”. The use of the term ‘quasi-chaotic variations’ is verging on poetic licence! But it is perhaps not too misleading.

  11. Christopher Game says:

    Dr Spencer writes: “Importantly, the assumed feedback parameter (5.5) is solidly in “negative feedback” territory.”

    Dr Spencer is here using the term feedback in the ordinary sense of the word, not the IPCC special sense.

    The IPCC people will say that they never meant that such a feedback parameter as Dr Spencer is using would be positive. They have their own tricky use of language that lets them nevertheless use the emotively powerful term “positive feedback” decoupled from the ordinary language use of that term. They are masters of spin.

  12. Christopher Game says:

    Dr Spencer writes: “correctly pointed out that the short-term feedback behavior of the IPCC models appear to have little or no relationship to their long-term climate sensitivity.”

    Yes, this is the distinction I refer to by the terms static and dynamic models. Static corresponds with long-term sensitivity, dynamic with short-term feedback.

    Dr Spencer writes: “Don’t tell anyone I told you.” I say “your secret is safe with me.”

    Dr Spencer writes: “If you are a lay person who understands this, can i get an “amen”? Because, so far, other climate researchers are keeping their mouths shut.” I say amen.

  13. Joe Born says:

    Today’s post is much clearer than yesterday’s. So much so that this layman can say “amen.”

    With one possible reservation. You say, “At the same time, I had to adjust the magnitude of the radiative forcing to get about the right ABSOLUTE MAGNITUDES for those standard deviation statistics, too.” Given that your model is linear, I don’t see why absolute magnitudes matter; wouldn’t the regression coefficients your graphs plot be independent of forcing magnitude?

  14. Joe Born says:

    A comment about “feedback” may help Dr. Spencer communicate with engineers new to these discussions. (No doubt this has been done somewhere else, but don’t remember seeing it.)

    For engineers, an open-loop system may have an input x and an output y = Ax, where A is the (we’ll assume positive) open-loop amplification. When we “close the loop,” we add feedback f * y to the input x. If we ignore lags that we inevitably suffer in the real world, this means that y = A(x + fy) -> y = Ax/(1 – fA); the closed-loop amplification is A/(1 – fA). The system blows up unless f is negative or less positive than 1/A.

    In the climate system, our output y is the surface temperature’s departure from some baseline value. Now, the ground-level radiation intensity that results from the prevailing top-of-the-atmosphere radiation intensity depends on greenhouse-gas concentration, and we can look upon that ground-level intensity as varying from some baseline value. Our input x is that portion of this excursion about the baseline that results only from interaction of atmospheric carbon-dioxide molecules with radiation. Input x does not include any radiation-excursion portion caused by follow-on effects such as resultant changes in clouds or water vapor. We can think of carbon-dioxide concentration as the knob that sets x.

    Our open-loop amplification A is the relationship between this radiation-excursion component x and temperature excursion y given by the Stefan-Boltzmann equation. For the earth’s average temperature, A is the reciprocal of the 3.2 W m^-2 K^-1 figure that Dr. Spencer gives above–and refers to as the zero-feedback “feedback parameter,” although it is not the engineers’ feedback coefficient f.

    Feedback coefficient f is instead what the model uses to arrive at other radiation-excursion components, namely, those (=fy) that y’s changes themselves cause. From my equation above, we can see that if our feedback coefficient f is negative, the closed-loop amplification will be less than the open-loop value: Dr. Spencer’s “feedback parameter” will exceed the 3.2 W m^-2 K^-1 figure. If f is positive, the closed-loop amplification will be higher: Dr. Spencer’s “feedback parameter” will be less than the 3.2 W m^-2 K^-1 figure.

    In short, when Dr. Spencer uses the term “feedback parameter,” read “reciprocal of the closed-loop amplification.” But “positive feedback” and “negative feedback” actually do have their conventional meanings, at least if the inputs and outputs are as defined above.

  15. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Joe Born’s post of January 29, 2011 at 2:26 AM.

    Dear Joe Born,

    You will be well aware that your comment is written in the Fourier or Laplace transform domain, so as to represent in compact notation the dynamics of a system which may also be written in terms of time-dependent ordinary differential equations, while the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism refers to a static steady state model which has no dynamics and no time dependence.

    And you will be well aware, I suppose, that for amplification in an engineering sense, an arbitrarily available auxiliary power source must be present, while there is no such source in the atmosphere.

    Dr Spencer’s present model written as an ordinary differential equation defines the sign of the feedback differently from the spinned way, misleadingly citing the Bode 1945 definition of feedback, that is used in the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism.

    When you write of “conventional meaning” you refer to the Bode convention but Dr Spencer is here not using the Bode convention, which refers explicitly to a definite feedback loop, but is instead using the word feedback in a broader sense, in effect referring to the eigenvalues of a rate matrix of a linear system of ordinary differential equations, without explicit reference to any specific feedback loop. You say something near this in your discussion of the the “Feedback coefficient”.

    Therefore I propose to you that you are spinning when you write: “But “positive feedback” and “negative feedback” actually do have their conventional meanings, at least if the inputs and outputs are as defined above.”

    And the spin that I complain of is effective as an emotive and misleading propaganda trick.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  16. All well and good, but Dr. Spencer keeps leaving out solar activity, and volcanic activity and their effects on the radiation balance. Why, I don’t know ,but it really makes his commentary much less meaningful.

  17. The global warming models ARE WRONG. They have been proven wrong ,ecause they have predicted the atmospheric circulation in response to man made global warming, wrong.

    Just look at what they predicted in the past,in contrast to what we have now,and the answer is they are WRONG.

    How in the world could anyone ignore that fact. They are wrong,wrong wrong, and therefore their climate prediction of warming going forward is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    I am glad I at least am aware of the situation.
    Dr. Spencer does not bring this up. Why I don’t know, but Joe D’Aleo will be in the near future.

  18. pochas says:

    How much humidity in the water column is necessary to stabilize a cloud layer? Can cosmic rays change this value? What other factors can influence this “humidity tipping point?”

    These questions force one to consider clouds vs clear as two separate regimes. Is there a clear sky fraction that is favored by the maximum entropy principle?

  19. I say the climate going forward will be determined by how zonal or meridional the atmospheric circulation will evolve into in the N/H, going forward.

    I further state, solar activity and high latitude volcanic activity will determine how zonal or meridional the atmospheric circulation will be going forward.

    I challenge anyone on this issue ,to see who is going to be proven right,and who is going to be proven wrong.

    I further state this meridional circulation can lead to positive feedbacks to promote further cooling ,due to increase snow cover/cloud cover in the mid latitudes as a consequence of this circulation pattern. Increase, in earth’s albedo.

    As far as I am concerned, all other explanations are a bunch of BS!

    Time will tell.

  20. don penman says:

    “While this might all seem rather cryptic, ALL of these processes have direct analogs to a pot of water warming on the stove. You can turn the heat up on the stove (forcing), and the water will warm. But if you also remove the lid in proportion to the stove being turned up (negative feedback), you can reduce the warming. It’s all based upon energy conservation concepts, which ordinary people are exposed to every day.

    The IPCC believes Mother Nature covers up the pot even more as the stove is turned up, causing even more warming in response to a “forcing”.”

    Would it not be more realistic to have the pot heated from above by some method and then the steam might interfere with the flow of heat from above somehow.

  21. Joe Born says:

    Mr. Game:

    Please forgive me if I expressed myself so obscurely as to lead you to conclude that I was using Laplace or Fourier transforms or otherwise intended to express time-dependent behavior. The quantities I dealt with were equilibrium values, not time-dependent ones.

    As I will now attempt to explain by reference to Dr. Spencer’s simple model (of time-dependent behavior), though, this does not mean that my equations were irrelevant to time-dependent quantities. If you have not downloaded the spreadsheet that embodies his model, you may find it helpful to do so by following the link Dr. Spencer gives above, since I will refer to specific cells in his spreadsheet.

    When I look at his spreadsheet, I see a discrete approximation to the (one-dimensional) differential equation
    dT/dt = (F – gT)/C_p,
    where T is surface temperature, F is the sum of the column-C, -G, and -J radiation intensities (in W/m^2), C_p is the heat capacity (cell H2) of one 70-meter-deep column of water one square meter in cross section, and g is first total derivative (cell L) of terrestrial radiative heat loss per square meter with respect to surface temperature. (Since greenhouse gases (“GHGs”) retard heat loss to some degree, a GHG-concentration change requires a surface-temperature change to return the loss to the insolation value.)

    The output y in my feedback equations above is intended to represent the equilibrium temperature value T_a = F_0/g that this equation’s solution T(t) approaches asymptotically (with time constant C_p / g.) if the input x, which is intended to represent F, is a step function of magnitude F_0. And the open-loop amplification A in those equations is intended to be the value that the ratio T_a / F_0 assumes when g = g_0, where g_0 is the ratio that the Stefan-Boltzmann equation dictates for the average earth surface temperature and emissivity. Therefore, my open-loop amplification is A = 1/g_0. Furthermore, its closed-loop amplification A/(1-Af) = 1/g, which implies the feedback f in my equations above is given by f = g_0 – g. In other words, conventional feedback is the difference between Dr. Spencer’s “feedback parameter” g and g_0 = 3.2 W/K-m^2.

    I might also note that the instability threshold f = 1/A that I mentioned above corresponds to g = 0. As far as I can tell, this is entirely consistent with Dr. Spencer’s exposition.

    But my equations did not themselves deal with time dependence any more than the equations for an ideal operational amplifier with a completely non-reactive feedback network would. I hope this explanation makes my meaning less obscure.

    You also brought up two further points. First, you pointed out that amplifiers apply external power, whereas none is applied in our climate model. I agree with you, but I haven’t been able to tease out of that comment how it affects my equations or the feedback concept. Still, I’m actually a retired lawyer rather than an engineer—and I confess that even this simple one-dimension-model exercise taxes what little remains of my once-adequate mathematical ability—so maybe there’s a nuance I’m missing.

    Lastly, you emphasized that use of the “feedback” expression is “an emotive and misleading propaganda trick.” I doubt that you know anyone who is as frustrated as I am with the opaque language these climatemeisters use, so I won’t engage you on this point except to the extent you base it on the contention that Dr. Spencer uses “feedback” in a “broader sense, in effect referring to the eigenvalues of a rate matrix of a linear system of ordinary differential equations, without explicit reference to any specific feedback loop.” Notwithstanding whatever you may have read Dr. Spencer to say in other writings, my understanding based on his model’s cell L2 is that in the above post he is applying a scalar feedback quantity to a scalar input to obtain a scalar output. (Yes, columns C, G, and J are three different input series, but the feedback parameter is applies to their sum, which is a scalar.) So, if you believe I’m in error, I will be grateful if you show me where the spreadsheet is inconsistent with my understanding.

  22. Doug Proctor says:

    Dr. Spencer and RW,

    Thank you for your responses.

    The energy in & out is, obviously, almost perfectly balanced as the global temperatures are pretty darn stable when you think that the GHG give about 64K of additional warmth (not 32K, right?). Yet we do have a +/- 1.5K or more even with homogenized and adjusted data.

    Our system is in dynamic equilibrium, with an oscilation at a planetary scale of not much, though a local oscilation of a much greater extent even on a multi-year basis. As Dr. Spencer suggests, de-trending for these may take out important information. The trends of the de-trends themselves need (I presume were) analyzed for a multi-year component of global importance. However, the geographical component is of more than energy trend importance, as RW explains what a big impact it has: >2K warmer when you would expect it to be >2K COLDER.

    A multi-year albedo value and location, if it exists, would seriously compete with the alleged effects of CO2 additions to the atmosphere. Does the data show/have been collected to show that the incoming energy is, in fact, numerically and regionally distributed evenly in the short-term?

    Cycles that are 180* out of phase are what Trenberth/IPCC calculations need. Cycles that are at time in-phase can give us – for example – the 1910/1945 warming OR the 1945/1965 cooling phase. It wouldn’t take many W/m2 in the right places.

    Recently on RealClimate (January 11/2010) Dr. Schmidt comapared Hansen’s 1988 forecasts with measurements of GISTemp and two others. Scenario B, he said, was closest, though a bit “high”. I, along with others, comnplained that Scenario C was identical with the observed temperature graphs. He responded that Scenario C was not “useful” as the assumptions in C were clearly wrong, not just that the forcing parameters used were outdated but that it was assumed that emissions would cease in 2000. This came to mind as RW said that, overall, the calculations work, so, by inference, we were okay. Both these assertions I find (still find, Dr. Schmidt) possibly invalid.

    When random or technically flawed algorithms provide the best or better forecasts of reality, they are highly useful in my opinion. What they say is that the combinations of up and down and sideways gives the correct pattern (at least at this time). There are pushes and pulls that mimic the real controlling mechanisms, though one may “fix” an outrageous error in one direction by an outrageous error in the other. Scenario C, by being closest to measured trends, may tell us that Scenario A and B, though more “useful” because intellectually understood, might have the same happy result by luck more than skill at reflecting the real world.

    So, what is the multi-year variation on a geographical and time basis of cloud cover and albedo changes? If we cannot say such things are stable to +/- 0.4W/m2, then Trenberth or others have no basis for looking for 0.85W/m2 to balance his equations. The signal is too close to the noise. We/they similarly can’t say that CO2 forcing effects are visible, as CO2 at this stage has a 0.8W/m2 (?) impact and is in the range of measurement error. And equal to the unknowns that produced earlier warm and cool periods.

    Non-random heating through time, I suspect, is signficant and, I also suspect, equal to or greater than the “signature” of CO2.

    On a related subject, Schmidt’s dismissal of the Lyman 2010 divergence of Oceanic Heat Content as others measure it from SST data as Lyman has found something that simply exists/is hiding below current below densor depth, is another curious piece of intellectual trickery. In my opinion.

    • RW says:

      Doug Proctor,

      I’ve found that it’s very easy to get lost and confused in the micro details and/or more micro components of the whole issue. The thing to keep in mind is that the combined effect of all the components in the climate (known and unknown) can be measured, and from those measurements, the general boundaries can be derived. A 3 C rise from an increase in radiative forcing of 1.85 W/m^2 from 2xCO2 is not just outside the boundary – it’s WAY, WAY outside the boundary. All of us can argue as long as we want to what the numerous micro component behavior and feedbacks may be (clouds, water vapor, etc.), but it isn’t going to change their combined measured effect. Unless there is some reason why infrared power from the Sun and GHGs would obey different physics, I know of no reason why their response would be significantly different either.

      For example, consider this:

      A gain of about 1.6 means that it takes about 1.6 W/m^2 at the surface to allow each 1 W/m^2 to leave the system, offsetting each 1 W/m^2 coming in from the Sun. To get a 3 C rise from 2xCO2, 1.85 W/m^2 has to be amplified to over 16 W/m^2 at the surface. If this much amplification is within the system’s boundaries, then why doesn’t it take about 2055 W/m^2 at the surface to offset the 239 W/m^2 coming in from the Sun? What is so special about each 1 W/m^2 of power from additional CO2 that the system is suddenly going to respond to it over 5 times greater than each 1 W/m^2 from the Sun?

      Furthermore, as you mentioned earlier, the solar input actually varies about 20 W/m^2 from perihelion to aphelion. At perihelion the solar input is actually about 10 W/m^2 higher than average for a post albedo of about +6.7 W/m^2, yet why don’t we get a + 10 C temperature rise in accordance with proportional amplification required for AGW hypothesis? Now +10 C is a lot and I know there would be some delay to the system response, but one would expect to see at least some signature in the temperature record of this large of an effect if were real, but it’s not there – probably because it doesn’t exist.

    • RW says:

      Doug,

      Here is another way of looking at it:

      If the 1.85 W/m^2 from 2xC02 is amplified at the surface about the same as the power coming in from the Sun, the effect at the surface is to increase the power by about 3 W/m^2 for a temperature increase of about 0.6 C (1.85 x 1.6 = 3; 390 + 3 = 393W/m^2 = 288.6K). To get 3 C (or 291K), over 16 W/m^2 is needed – leaving a deficit of over 13 W/m^2 needed. Where is the 13 W/m^2 coming from that is supposed to be causing the warming?

    • RW says:

      Conservation of Energy dictates that the additional 13 W/m^2 can only come from the Sun since the atmosphere cannot create any energy of its own – meaning the 13 W/m^2 would have to come from mostly from a reduced surface albedo.

  23. NOT ONE PREDICTION FROM THIS BOARD ON THE CLIMATE FOR THIS DECADE.

    All this board does it talk theory and yet fails to display any climate predictions going forward and the reasons why for those predictions.

    I was thnking since I layed out my prediction and why ,others would make an attempt.

    I don’t see any clear cut predictions/reasons,still waiting.

  24. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Dr Spencer’s post of January 29, 2011 at 7:09AM. I do not seem to be able to make the ‘reply’ facility work, I am sorry. I can only post first order responses like this, I think.

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    Thank you for this reply in which you write: “Christopher, I don’t see any other way of addressing the climate sensitivity issue other than talking in terms of something like “feedback”. You might think its use by the climate community bastardizes the original definition of the term by electrical engineers, but how can you dispute that something like ‘feedback’ is at the heart of climate sensitivity?

    If you know of some other metric that is related to how much warming a climate model produces over time in response to a radiative imbalance imposed upon the model, I would love to know what it is.”

    I do not dispute that the something like ‘feedback’ is at the heart of climate sensitivity. That you could suggest I do so suggests that you have more urgent things to do than to read carefully what I write. I don’t blame you for that. Let me say it straight: of course the dynamics of the earth’s energy transport process involve feedback in a profound and very important way.

    But I am disputing, nay, I am attacking the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

    • Christopher, I have a question for you. How do you believe the IPCC’s “formalism” has biased the amount of global warming their models end up producing? The reason I ask is that those models do not have ‘feedback’ as an input.

  25. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Dr Spencer’s post of January 29, 2011 at 7:17AM. As before, I do not seem to be able to make the ‘reply’ facility work, I am sorry. I can only post first order responses like this, I think.

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    Thank you for this reply in which you write:
    “Yes, I am very familiar with convection. It’s what I was originally trained in.

    But a possible surface temperature limit in the convergence zones of the tropics is a localized phenomenon, while the global radiative budget is influenced by the much larger regions of gently sinking air that balances those small areas where warm moist air is rapidly rising.

    We need to know how that whole coupled system changes with forcing…the fact that there might be a surface temperature limit reached in one small portion of it doesn’t help very much. Besides…the apparent SST limit in the tropical warm pool is not nearly as fixed as the temperature limit of boiling water.”

    Christopher replies:

    Of course I know you are very familiar with convection, and I wouldn’t suggest that you weren’t.

    Of course I agree that “We need to know how that whole coupled system changes with forcing”

    Of course I agree that “the apparent SST limit in the tropical warm pool is not nearly as fixed as the temperature limit of boiling water.”

    But I would not like to dismiss its importance here as you seem to do when you write: “the fact that there might be a surface temperature limit reached in one small portion of it doesn’t help very much.” Instead, I suggest that the protected towers of deep tropical convection are like a kind of pacemaker for the dynamics of the whole system. Rather as a tiny node of cells in the normally working heart sets its pace, under supervisory control by the brain.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher

    • Oh, I agree. I have written over the years how microphysical processes in rain clouds end up determining the radiative characteristics of the subsidence zones, through their control on precipitation efficiency, which in turn determines the humidity of the free troposphere, which in turn controls most of the Earth’s rate of loss of IR radiation to space.

      A NOTE TO EVERYONE: When I post on a specific topic, I am not implying other topics in the global warming debate are not important. Instead, I have chosen to research specific areas where I believe major mistakes have been made, which could be game changers, and where virtually no one else is looking.

      It only takes one of us to be correct for the IPCC’s house of cards to collapse.

  26. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Joe Born’s post of January 29, 2011 at 3:07PM. As before, I do not seem to be able to make the ‘reply’ facility work, I am sorry. I can only post first order responses like this, I think.

    Dear Joe Born,

    Thank you for this reply. You make some good points. I will need some time to consider my response.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  27. R. Strand says:

    Regarding the 1/28 posting, AMEN! And thanks Roy, for your efforts to identify relevant questions that need answers. It’s disappointing to have politicians on both sides and CRU scientists allow this issue to get defined as a “do you believe in global warming” debate.

  28. Dr. Spencer says in his reply to Christopher Game’s comment on January 28, 2011 at 9:55 PM:

    “Besides…the apparent SST limit in the tropical warm pool is not nearly as fixed as the temperature limit of boiling water.”

    I never knew that the temperature of boiling water had a “fixed limit” I learnt, I think it was as early as in primary school, that the temperature of “boiling water” was dependant on pressure and that the 100 °C boiling point was only accurate at “Sea Level”

    Is that wrong as well?

  29. Massimo PORZIO says:

    I still haven’t understood if satellites could be really used to keep all the LW outgoing radiation when the atmosphere gases they “see” are IR active.
    For example, what’s the Aqua satellite’s field of view angle?
    The link http : //aqua.nasa.gov/about/instrument_ceres.php
    reports instantaneous FOV = 14 mrad (which means about 0.8°), so how it takes account of the non vertical outgoing radiation due to the GHG spreading effect?

    Massimo

  30. I have been reading through comments here plus postings, articles and essays on other sites where so called; “AGW Skeptics” have written a lot of very sensible and well thought out reasons for why the AGW enthusiasts must be wrong.
    It has, however begun to puzzle me more and more how many of these seemingly intelligent people are nowadays saying things like; “a doubling of CO2 will increase temperature by x, y or z °C. –

    In this article Dr. Spencer writes; “What we want to know, ultimately, is how much warming will result from the radiative imbalance caused by adding CO2 to the atmosphere.”

    All the studies I have ever seen have all shown that CO2 has never caused warming. It has always been the other way round i.e. warming produces CO2. – The proof of that is all around us. Even the warmists know that burning (warming, albeit to the ultimate degree) fossil-fuels release CO2 into the atmosphere and that that process cannot possibly be the other way round.

    To give CO2 even more magical powers, than it already has been bestoved, by striving to make models that prove that adding CO2 (and it is only the carbon atom that has been added, the oxygen was always there) to the atmosphere is going to cause a radiative imbalance seems to be doing a job worthy of Hansen, Mann and Gore.

    As I said in my first comment; “The UK Met Office has admitted officially that 2010 has tied with 1998 as the warmest year since records began.” Or to be exact they said: “With a mean temperature of 14.50 °C, 2010 becomes the second warmest year on record, after 1998. The record is maintained by the Met Office and the Climatic Research Unit at UEA.”

    Whether they realize it or not, by their statement above they have just admitted that there has been no “Global Warming” man made or otherwise for the past 12 years. That means there has been no radiative imbalance causing warming either. As for the answer to the question: “How much warming will result from the radiative imbalance caused by adding CO2 to the atmosphere” it must be: None!

    By the way Dr. Spencer, as you are interested in clouds, could CO2, as one of it’s three atoms is solid carbon, serve as the nucleus needed for cloud-formation and thus cause increased cloud-cover which could then serve as explanation for the next scare which is likely to, once again, be “Global Cooling”

  31. Dan Murray says:

    Amen to all of you. Those of us unschooled in physics and math may lack the clarity of thought exemplified above. However we are familiar with a fresh steaming pile when it is offered by those of the IPCC.

    Good Fortune to the True Seekers

  32. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Dr Spencer’s post of January 30, 2011 at 9:13 AM. As before, I do not seem to be able to make the ‘reply’ facility work, I am sorry. I can only post first order responses like this, I think.

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    You write: “Christopher, … How do you believe the IPCC’s “formalism” has biased the amount of global warming their models end up producing? The reason I ask is that those models do not have ‘feedback’ as an input.”

    Christopher’s answer:

    I think the IPCC formalism distorts the general approach and thinking of the constructors of the AOCG models, and makes them less perspicacious and less insightful and more gullible in their work on the development of their models. There are motivating factors that will make gullible workers unconsciously favour anthropogenic global warming.

    I think that the building of better models will require the discovery of new phenomenological laws of physics. Mere brute force computation cannot do the job; perhaps the IPCC formalism fosters the idea that it can.

    The AOGC models of course are chock full of feedbacks, not global “feedbacks” such as appear in the IPCC formalism, but rather transient local redistributions of energy that amount to temporally and spatially variegated dynamical structures of intertwined positive and negative feedback, which can be expected combine to produce the global “feedback” effects that are expressed in the IPCC formalism. I say this without the slightest personal knowledge of the AOGC models, but simply on the basis that it would be near impossible for it to be otherwise, I think. I am not quite clear what you mean here by their not having “‘feedback’ as an input”; I agree that they do not have global feedbacks in their structure.

    But they do not have the spatial resolution to precisely depict some important dynamical structures such as the protected towers of deep tropical convection; these structures are localised transient combinations of positive and negative feedback. They virtually drive global “feedback”.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  33. Doug Proctor says:

    RW – thank you for your detailed response. I’ll have to study it carefully.

    The apparent stability of the temperature over decades is not what I’d expect if you thought of the world’s temperature being a result of “waves” of energy coming in from the sun, and “waves” of reflecting forces coming out of the earth.

    The incoming energy has a sinusoidal up and down motion through the year, the positional changes due to the axial tilt have a sinusoidal impact on absorption (as the geography is fixed)and the underlying, non-cloud albedo has some time-varying, geographically varying sinusoidal change also. Only cloud cover has significant variability, as even season-to-season there is a lot of difference.

    The physics of this must be easy to graph. There should be a large energy shift through the year and over areas. But I guess we’re saying it all flattens out to such a level that “ripples in exactly counter ripples out”. Intuitively, I would have expected some uncorrected, possibly long-amplitude wave to be there. The sort of thing that accounts for rogue waves at sea.

    Two final questions:

    1) The albedo data is good to say that the in-and-out are equal to less than 1.0W/m2 variation of heating annually?

    2) The albedo-by-latitude data is good enough to know that specific regions, i.e. the Arctic, isn’t getting an local change in albedo to account for the local heating pattern in the world (as global warming has NEVER been global)?

    • RW says:

      Doug,

      “The apparent stability of the temperature over decades is not what I’d expect if you thought of the world’s temperature being a result of “waves” of energy coming in from the sun, and “waves” of reflecting forces coming out of the earth.”

      I’m not sure what you mean by this.

      • Doug Proctor says:

        There is a significant +/- to the heating of the Earth. The orbital eccentricity gives a sinusoidal increase and decrease to what arrives. The axial tilt gives a sinusoidal variation to the power of the incoming solar energy to the northern and southern hemisphere. Excluding annual snow and ice, the different proportions of permanent snow, ice, water, land and vegetation in the NH and SH give what I would think as a sinusoidal impact on what is absorbed during the year. The cloud portion is very roughly the same over the years, i.e. the fall is cloudy, the summer is sunny, but the daily, monthly differences in cloud cover are substantial.

        The incoming energy has a wave pattern through time, as do the reflective aspects. These interact in a constructive/destructive way to create an interference-like pattern. Some add, some subtract. On top of that is a loose up-and-down “wave” pattern of additional reflection. I would have thought that the combinations of all those functions, without big dampening aspects, would be a complex and quite high amplitude temperature impact. That, with the variable nature of cloud-reflection character, would lead to a lot of variation unlikely to be perfectly dampened. Like a set of sea waves with different sources from somewhat different directions, never leaving the sea still, and occassionally combining for large waves.

        A solid number for heating sounds mathematically simple, but the world, I would have expected, would experience 288W/m2 +/- quite a bit. Certainly more than 1W/2. And leave the world open to an interference-type phenomenon to drop the temp a couple of degrees for a number of years, and jack it up similarly. Just because the functions of in and out have different frequencies, even if not that much different.

        • RW says:

          Doug:

          Yes – most definitely. A lot of the things I’ve mentioned are documented in much more detail here:

          www. palisad.com/co2/eb/eb.html

          The author of this paper has used the ISCCP data over the last 25 years that’s freely available from the NASA GISS website for his analysis.

          Here are the global and hemispheric gain graphs, for example:

          www. palisad.com/co2/eb/g/gain.png
          www. palisad.com/co2/eb/nh/gain.png
          www. palisad.com/co2/eb/sh/gain.png

          The biggest thing the data reveal is that as radiative forcing from the sun increases (seasonally and globally) the gain decreases and vice versa. This shows that the net feedback operating on the whole system is unambiguously negative – meaning that changes in radiative forcing are being opposed by the system rather than re-enforced.

          I’ve spent a lot of time studying the information presented here in detail (there is a lot to digest), but the author’s analysis has convinced me beyond a reasonable doubt that a 3 C rise from 2xCO2 is a virtual impossibility.

  34. harrywr2 says:

    Amen

  35. wayne says:

    It’s easy to see your point on the importance of using that extra degree of freedom in the temporal space.

    amen!

  36. Mac says:

    Dr Spencer,

    After following your writings for only a short time (perhaps a year), I find myself understanding almost everything you put forward. I have only 2 years of advanced education (EE) but have little difficulty with the concepts.

    Your conclusions are clear and since they conincide with my own, you must be a genius.

    May the road rise up to your feet and the wind always be at your back.

  37. I understand what you are saying Dr. Spencer. Your work is very important in proving the global warming models are even more wrong, then is known presently.

    I hope you have never thought, that I had ever thought that what you are doing isn’t fantastic work. It is, and I guess we need everyone doing his or her part in one particular area or another of climate, to try to bring an end to this global man made warming once and for all.

    For my part it is the sun that I have concentrated on ,but what you are doing is just as valid.

    I appreciate that comment you made, about when you post a specific topic. I should have stuck to the topic ,instead of trying to change it.

    Again I think you are doing things, that others including myself would not be able to do.

    take care

  38. Christopher Game says:

    I have written more than my fair share in this thread, and still haven’t answered Joe Born properly. I don’t want to write too much more, but I think I can perhaps put the heart of my criticism of the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism as follows.

    The IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism disregards a most basic principle of empirical science, worked out by experimentalists, the greatest advance in science since Aristotle demanded that Philip get his men to collect specimens for a grand natural history museum as his fee for taking Alexander the Great as his student.

    The principle is that to find out how a dynamical system works, the experimentalist, deliberately and under his own arbitrary control, changes one variable at a time, and sees how the other variables of the system respond.

    This kind of experiment is not hardly feasible for the investigation of the earth’s energy transport process. Not even with the resources available to the IPCC.

    The reason for the principle is that the fundamental explanatory fact of natural science is that causal efficacy propagates no faster than light or gravity. It is causal efficacy that underlies all physical explanation. The empirical scientist wants to follow the propagation of causal efficacy through the dynamical system that he is studying.

    This means one likes to cast the description of the system in terms of external drivers and internal state variables. The external drivers should be in effect causally independent of the internal state variables. The external drivers must be free of effective feedback; that is the meaning of the clause “the experimentalist, deliberately and under his own arbitrary control, changes one variable at a time”.

    The IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism mathematically treats the balance of radiative exchange at the top of the atmosphere as if it were an external driver, when in physical reality it is an internal state variable.

    The IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism therefore radically violates the experimentalist’s preferred approach, and so it feels like poison to an empirical scientist.

    The IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism’s radical violation of this approach is the reason why Dr Spencer finds that cause and effect are sometimes practically impossible to disentangle when one works in terms of the formalism.

    Like astronomy, climate science is more of an observational science than an experimental science, which is to say that for climate science, the experimental method can be applied only indirectly. This is why it is difficult. But nothing can evade that difficulty: it has to be accepted; the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism is intended to evade that difficulty by the use of brute force computation.

    For climate science, the main truly accessible external drivers are the motions of the extraterrestrial bodies of the solar system. They cannot be controlled by the experimenter, but at least they are practically causally independent of the system under investigation.

    This is hard stuff.

  39. Christopher Game says:

    Sorry, typo: I meant
    “This kind of experiment is hardly feasible for the investigation of the earth’s energy transport process. Not even with the resources available to the IPCC.”

  40. Christopher Game says:

    The methods and results, described at the links listed by RW in his post of January 31, 2011 at 5:04 PM, are good examples of the benefits of not using the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism. They use as drivers the various motions of the earth, for example annual orbiting around the sun. These methods make good use of huge amounts of valuable information that is systematically shredded by the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism. The IPCC people as they shred this information think they are being very clever by ‘letting nature do the averaging’: wrong, because the scientist must use the valuable information in the natural time variations and do the averaging himself. Nature does not work with averages: she works with immediate instantaneous fact.

  41. Christopher Game says:

    The IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism is an artifice of which the main purpose is to “justify” the specious propaganda spin notions of “gain from feedback” and “amplification by positive feedback by water vapour and ice albedo”.

    The trick works like this: the formalism prescribes that the calculation of the “climate sensitivity” shall be done in a certain way; first the response to a given forcing shall be calculated on the entirely unphysical and artificial assumption that “feedbacks” are absent, and then the response to that “forcing” shall be calculated on the assumption that the “feedbacks” are present. The ratio of the two results will be called “gain from feedback”.

    If the calculation is done in some other way, as for example in the ways used by Dr Spencer’s model, or as stated in the link given by RW, the spin notions of “gain” and “amplification by feedback” simply do not arise. Those notions are purely artefacts of the IPCC’s prescription of its way of calculation. They have nothing to do with a real physical gain or amplification, because there is no auxiliary power supply for that. It is mathematically possible to do as Joe Born does, and artificially insert into Dr Spencer’s way or RW’s way the words of the IPCC formalism, but those ways do not at all actually depend on the inserted artifice; they work perfectly without it.

    The “gain” of the “climate sensitivity” is a kind of heat capacity, a temperature rise per unit energy flow, a dimensioned quantity, like the transfer function of a transimpedance amplifier or of a transconductance amplifier, not a dimensionless power ratio like that of a voltage-to-voltage or a current-to-current amplifier, which are rated in decibels. For example, a transimpedance amplifier has a transfer function with the dimensions of impedance; to call that a “gain” is legally permissible but is just a word-game; by the same rules, an attenuation is also a “gain”. The dimensionless “gain from feedback” is a fancy artifice that, by an unphysical assumption, dresses up that dimensioned transfer function.

    So the IPCC prescription, talking about “gain” and “amplification”, is just a word-game artifice with no physical meaning. But from the viewpoint of the art of spin it is a work of genius. It has even quite reasonable people talking about “amplification” and “positive feedback”; a masterwork.

  42. George E. Smith says:

    So Dr Roy, Trenberth et al, show all sorts of energy transport mechanisms; heat flows etc in their earth energy budget. So far as is known to me, the item amounting to 390 W/m^2 of LWIR radiation from the earth surface is the ONLY one of those processes, that is subject in any way, to modification by the “greenhouse effect” due to non-condensing GHGs (NCGHGs).

    But some GHGs including CO2 and the sole condensing GHG, H2O, are known to also absorb radiant energy in the incoming solar spectrum range. As a result of that non GH effect, the amount of sunlight reaching the surface, is ALWAYS reduced by the visible and near IR absorption of those components of the atmosphere; and also by the wide angle scattering of condensed H2O in the form of liquid or solid H2O clouds; aka reflection, or cloud albedo.

    The resultant warming of the atmospehre, by the direct absorption of incoming solar spectrum energy, results in the isotropic emission of atmospheric LWIR radiation, half of which escapes to space, and only half can return to the surface; so there still is a net loss of solar energy at the surface, as a result of that incoming absorption.

    So Dr Roy, do you know of any process, by which the addition of more GHGs to the atmosphere particularly H2O and CO2; but any others you like such as O3; results in an INCREASE in the amount of direct solar spectrum incoming energy from the sun that reaches the surface of the earth; 70% of which is actualy the near black body absorbing oceans ??

    Regardless of what else GHG do; they NEVER increase the amount of sunlight that reaches the ground and warms it (or the ocean).
    Have I forgotten something else that does ?

  43. Camburn says:

    Amen Dr. Spencer

  44. Interesting information. Reflected Heat…ever try standing on a hot cement street in your bare feet when the temperatures hovers around 100 degrees?

    Hight rise buildings have caused wind tunnels in cities where the streets were once calm and walkable. I.E. Montgomery St. in San Francisco CA. Also huge buildings emit heat, reflected and from their energy source to heat or cool the occupants. Lights left on for 24 hours in office high rises, cause the electrical companies to run and run to get the energy out, which also causes heat.

    Some 5,000 jet airplanes take off and land every 24 hours x 7. Do they push air around while emitting heat? We know when a volcano erupts, weather is extremely disturbed in that section of our globe, sometimes for long periods before weather returns to “normal”

    Reciently a huge Satalite was deployed from California. The sound of the blast off was heard for 50 miles. Can that emit great heat from the fuel plus sound to travel does effect the air.

    San Diego, Californis’s most revered spot for even temeratures was flooded. Why, because of growth, everything is paved and no Master Plan for Drainage was implemented in the beginning of all the new construction. Rain once used to be absorbed into soil, which is now paved over. I was staioned there in the 50′s and was back in the 80′s and couldn’t believe what happened to that beautiful city.

    Banning of plastic bags. Paper bags cause additional heat to gather sources and manufacture, plus the additional trucks to move used paper, new wood for the making, then the actual manufacturing and then a bunch of trucks needed to deliver what ONE truck of plastic bags could do. Disintegrating plastics for bags and “pop-corn” pelets are now available. Science has moved forward, but the “Fear Mongering Saviours” try and keep us angry and in fear by forcing issues with out a through thought process. Because plastic bags goes into land fill. So what, they are going to build on top of it any way. And Plastic Bags tossed along the roads and beaches? I see more cans and bottles and other trash than bags. The public needs to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for their own trash disposal and not depend on the governments to pass laws. We have other greater issues in this Centuary.

    In California, 4 oil refineries are all “having Up-Keep Repairs” within the same period. Which will drive the price of gas even higher, as California basically refines oil mostly for Californians. Does that cause temeprature changes. And do they not know how to stagger repairs. And Repairs in our “Rainey winter”?

    The building industry is way down and want funding to build more “Floreclosure Houses”, and yet, we want more paved roads taller building and more electricity, high speed rail transportationj. Can’t we swith modes?

    And lastly, if you fill a baloon with water and slowly drain the water out, the surfasce shrinks. Well, how much can we keep taking out of the center of our Earth in oil, gas, and mining before the surface starts to Quake? Does that bring our surface closer to our inner heat and rising Oceans?

    Who knows what is next. Are the Aztecs Calandar predictions possible, or did they run out of stone?
    Hope we can all start thinking “Out Of The Box” soon.

  45. Jens says:

    Roy, this is a very interesting and important analysis, and a devastating blow to Dessler’s paper. I have a few comments and questions.

    1. Your comment on the plot, that zero delay can be thought of as the time of max temperature has confused some readers. As I understand it, you have simply calcualted the regression slope, given by
    Cov[T(t),-I(t+delt)+lambda*T(t+delt)]/Var[T(t)],
    as a function of the delay time delt, where I is the incoming energy flux from the Sun.

    2. The analysis is closely related to Stephen Schwartz’ papers on autocorrelation of T(t). I find his analogy to a capacitor with voltage V(t) driven by a fluctating current
    I(t) and decharging through a resistance R very helpful. The equation is the same with the substitutions V for T and R for 1/lambda, but now expressing charge conservation instead of energy conservation.

    3. For white noise I(t), the normalized autocorrelation,
    Cov[T(t),T(t+delt)]/Var[T], decays exponentially from unity at delt=0 with lifetime tau=C/lambda, symmetrically for positive and negative delt. (In your model tau=21 months). So, if the system were driven by non-radiative forcing alone, your plot would be symmetric around delt=0 and the value at zero would give you lambda (as assumed by Dessler).

    4. For radiative forcing, I(t), alone, the plot becomes antisymmetric around delt=0. For positive delt the curve is the same because Cov[T(t),-I(t+delt)]=0 (no correlation when the cause is later than the effect!), but for negative delt the contribution from this term is twice as large and of opposite sign compared with the last term,
    Cov[T(t),lambda*T(t+delt)]. The fact that the curve from observations is nearly antisymmetric is strong evidence for the dominat role of radiative forcing of the fluctuations in T(t) – also for ENSO, as you mention.

    5. Now to the questions. I can reproduce your curve with this analytical result and with convolution with a Gaussian with standard deviation of about 4 months, representing a Gaussian low-pass filter of white noise. What is the explanation for this filtering? In Scafetta’s reanalysis of the autocorrelation of T(t), there was a strong component with very short lifetime, tau=0.4 y. Is there some smearing in the CERES measurements of radiation? Or is the response represented by the lambda*T term in the equation really so slow (hard to believe)?

    6. Another comment: The two-component aoutocorrelation of T(t) found by Scafetta, with lifetimes 0.4 and 8.7 y, can be reproduced nicely with a two-compartment model, adding another capacitor coupled with a resistor to the first one
    (heat capacities 30 and 120 m water). Also this model can be treated analytically and can be used to reproduce your curve, including a contribution from non-radiative forcing and with the Gaussian convolution. However, with the parameters obtained from Scafetta and Schwartz the value of lambda (giving the height of the curve for delt>0) is too small by a factor of about 3.

    Refs:
    Wikipedia, linear regression
    S.E. Schwartz, J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos. 112, D24S05 (2007)
    N. Scafetta, J. Geophys. Res. 113, D15104 (2008)

  46. Christopher Game says:

    The method linked by RW in his post of January 31, 2011 at 5:04 PM, differs from the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism in important ways. The link is http://palisad.com/co2/eb/eb.html .

    The method linked by RW has, an external driver, the actual cyclical change of incident solar radiation due to the earth’s orbiting of the sun. This is a true external driver, and has the potential to reveal much about the dynamics of the system. The driver is not too far from sinusoidal. A sinusoid is an eigenfunction for a time-shift-invariant linear dynamical system and the response to it directly reveals the value of the transfer function for the fundamental frequency. As it happens the method linked by RW unequivocally demonstrates definite non-linearity in the internal dynamics of the system, with energy in the internal response being not restricted to the fundamental frequency of the driver, as would be the case if the system were strictly linear. But this non-linearity seems nearly absent from the final output, the global average surface temperature.

    The IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism assumes that the true external driver (the insolation) does not change with time. But one internal parameter, the component of atmospheric optical thickness contributed by CO2, makes a step change; that is the metaphorical analogue of a driver, the “forcing”. It is a change in a static parameter of the model, but not a direct change in a main dynamical variable such as one of the contributions to the radiative balance at the top of the atmosphere.

    What changes directly in the IPCC formalism’s model is the static distribution of the magnitudes of the components of the balance of radiation at the top of the atmosphere. It is a matter of cutting the cake differently according to the temperature of the land-sea surface. The size of the cake does not change; that is to say, the total insolation does not change. The unchanging total insolation is balanced by a list of quantities, which change so as to produce a zero total balance for the new eventual steady state. That is the whole structure of the formalism.

    Let us consider the effect associated with, and parametrized by, a temperature increase, that is supposed to be due to an increase in CO2, all as imagined by the IPCC:

    The optical thickness of the atmosphere increases so as to reduce the window radiation. This decrease in window radiation has two or three main parts: a reduction due to increase of direct CO2 absorption of radiation from the land-sea surface(the “forcing”), a reduction due to increased water vapour due to increased temperature (the beloved “positive feedback” due to constancy of relative humidity); and perhaps an effect of clouds.

    The albedo due to ice is reduced by melting of polar sea ice (another beloved “positive feedback”). This means that there is less reflection of solar insolation. For the new steady state, this means more absorbed energy to be sent to space from the interior of the system.

    Considering these two slices of the cake (less window radiation and less reflection by ice albedo), and that the cake does not grow or shrink, for the new steady state there must be increased outgoing long-wave radiation from the atmosphere itself and/or disputed increased reflection from clouds, and perhaps by increased albedo due to increased snow in non-polar latitudes due to increased water vapour (a current affair, not trumpeted by the IPCC).

    The increased outgoing long-wave radiation from the atmosphere itself is contributed to by increased atmospheric temperature and by its increased emissivity due to increase in CO2 and absolute humidity; also perhaps a little component feedback increase in window radiation due to increase in surface temperature. The disputed increase reflection due to clouds comes from a disputed increase in 2km altitude clouds.

    The annual cycle of insolation, taken as an external driver by the method linked by RW, is “averaged out” and ignored by the IPCC formalism.

    In order to get its result for “climate sensitivity”, the IPCC formalism requires considerable hypothetical detail, much of it imperfectly known, about the internal dynamics of the system, and hypothesizes an increase in CO2 as part of its method, while the simple observation-based method linked by RW requires neither the hypothetical detail of dynamics nor the hypothesis of CO2 increase for this calculation. That is why the IPCC formalism is all about “amplification” and “positive feedback”, while the method linked by RW does not use such postulates, and gets a more reliable answer, more easily.

    For finding the “climate sensitivity”, is there anyone who will fault the main outline of the method linked by RW in his post of January 31, 2011 at 5:04 PM?

    • RW says:

      Christopher,

      I’m not sure if Dr. Roy is still reading this thread, but I agree with what you’re saying here.

      Consider also how ridiculous the IPCC’s GHGs climate sensitivity formula is. It’s defined as degrees C per W/m^2 of additional “radiative forcing” (0.75 C/1 W/m^2; 3.7 W/m^2 = about 3 C of warming). This effectively hides its applicability to solar forcing, which when you consider the perihelion/aphelion temperature discrepancy, is obviously wrong.

      The bottom line is the IPCC is essentially claiming (indirectly) that GHG “forcing” and solar “forcing” obey different physics in the system. There is no physical or logical basis for that. Whether the heat energy at the surface is from the Sun or re-directed back down from GHG re-radiation/redistribution – all the surface ‘knows’ is what the total heat flux is. The IPCC would have us believe that the measly +1.85 W/m^2 from 2xCO2 at the surface is all of the sudden going to behave radically differently than the original 239 W/m^2 from the Sun, as well as the additional 151 W/m^2 currently re-directed back down to the surface from the atmosphere.

      Furthermore, all increased GHGs really do is modify the system’s response to the income energy from the Sun. Only the Sun adds appreciable energy to the system, which get back to my other point in this thread: Where is all the energy coming from that is supposed to be causing the warming?

  47. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game responding to Jens’ post of February 2, 2011 at 12:19 AM.

    Jens writes: “… I can reproduce your curve with this analytical result and with convolution with a Gaussian with standard deviation of about 4 months, representing a Gaussian low-pass filter of white noise.”

    The method linked by RW gets the result that the separate hemispheric temperatures lag the insolation driver each by about 2 months, that they are out of phase with each other, and that there are slightly different lags in the two hemisperes. The result when added up is a lag of 7 months.

    Can there be a connection between these two estimates?

  48. Christopher Game says:

    I have just above here compared the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism with the method linked by RW at http://palisad.com/co2/eb/eb.html

    Now I think it fair to compare the IPCC thing with Dr Spencer’s method of the present thread.

    I have mighty respect for Dr Spencer and Dr Braswell and I hope they will not feel put out if I criticize their work, even though I am not at all expert in climate science or meteorology.

    Sad to say Dr Spencer and Dr Braswell’s method of the present thread contains a toxic residue of IPCC-think, a grievous fault which is not shared by the method linked by RW.

    Dr Spencer’s comparison of his model with empirical observation treats the imbalance of radiative energy exchange at the top of the atmosphere as if it were a kind of virtual driver. This is a fundamental fault in the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism, and it remains a fundamental fault even in the hands of the good Dr Spencer and Dr Braswell.

    The reality is that the imbalance is an internal state variable, and is largely governed by feedback and is therefore not suitable to be treated as if it were a kind of virtual driver.

    They will perhaps say that they do it in order to engage the enemy where he stands because the enemy refuses to move to a place where there can be a rational debate. Perhaps that may be part of the art of rhetoric, but it doesn’t lead to the best science. Dr Spencer may say that he is just responding to the errors of Dr Dessler. I would say that he is not using his best resources for that purpose.

    The nearly antisymmetric empirical result that Dr Spencer and Dr Braswell display above is not quite antisymmetric and this means that it does not exactly obey the hypotheses that Jens explains in his post of February 2, 2011 at 12:19 AM. Jens says that this “is strong evidence for the dominant role of radiative forcing of the fluctuations”. But he does not provide a clear mathematical assessment of just how strong. He cannot, because the method is flawed, because it shreds the information of other readily available data.

    The interpretation of the results of Dr Spencer’s method, as he has noted in other situations, is practically impossible to make strict and precise. This is because it is not an appropriate method. Dr Spencer has the opportunity to use data and model very nearly the same as he has used, but to use external drivers as does the method linked by RW. The latter method does not suffer from the defect which is intrinsic to Dr Spencer’s current method.

    With all respect to Dr Spencer and Dr Braswell, I suggest that they seem, unless they have an escape clause in terms of rhetorical necessity, to have used an inferior method because they have not sufficiently rejected the thinking that comes with the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism.

    I look forward to Dr Spencer and Dr Braswell’s use of similiar data and models, but with external drivers used as in the method linked by RW. There are plenty of suitable ones that they could try. They would identify for sure the unspecified natural variations that Dr Spencer rightly points to. I do not know why he is so keen to avoid discussion of external drivers. Every internal state variable, like clouds, is thoroughly entangled in feedback and the attendant near-impossiblity of accurate interpretation.

    Dr Spencer has written of “quasi-chaotic” fluctuations; as this talk stands, it is not good science. It is indeed virtually certain that the earth’s energy transport process contains elements of deterministic chaos due to its internal dynamics. But it is also absolutely certain that it contains elements of deterministic chaos due to external drivers, and that it will be practically impossible to identify the internal chaotic elements until the external ones have been identified. Moreover, if there is really internal dynamical structure that determines chaos that is a major determinant of the fluctuations that Dr Spencer uses, this means that the distinction between positive and negative feedback cannot be made, because there is no dynamically fixed point to which the sign of the feedback can be referred. But Dr Spencer is telling us that there is strong negative feedback, feedback with a definite sign.

  49. P. Solar says:

    Dr Spencer.

    your simple model is very interesting. Thanks for making the model available.

    I particularly noted the inflection in the satellite data which seems to be an important feature that is not captured by the model. It appears in both Terra and Aqua in the warming and cooling phases so it does seem to be an important feature.

    I was wondering whether this could be modeled by having ocean modeled by two depths rather than one uniform volume.

    Also , what is the physical interpretation of the non-zero radiation at lag=0 ?

    Thanks for this enlightening analysis.

  50. Jens says:

    Christopher, I admit that I don’t understand most of what you write. You are unhappy about the simple model used by Spencer (and me) but this model captures an essential feature of the climate dynamics, energy conservation. Of course the dynamics is hugely simplified but one may still learn something from both successes and failures of the model.

    I raised earlier a question about the low-pass filtering of the radiation fluctuations needed to fit the observed correlation of fluctuations in temperature and radiation balance. I think that I understand the reason now. On the time scale of months to a few years, the dominant temperature fluctuations are due to the ENSO. Inspection of combined plots of the LW radiation and temperature near the surface show clearly the type of correlation depicted in Spencer’s plot for all the major El Nino excursions, see e.g. Ole Humlum’s site climate4you.com, global temperatures, in particular the graph with colored vertical stripes to guide the eye.

    Ole Humlum writes with ref to this graph: “Periods of surface warming appear initially to be associated with decreasing outgoing long-wave radiation (OLR). After some surface warming, OLR then stops decreasing and instead begins to increase, and after a while, the 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.”

    It is not clear what the mechanism is but it operates on a time scale of months, so it is very different from the usual interpretation of the last term in the energy-conservation equation, -lambda*delT, namely an instataneous change in the blackbody radiation from the surface into space. It is such an interpretation which is the basis for Dessler’s claim that the regression slope of the zero-time lag correlation between temperature and radiation gives the feedback parameter lambda.

    If my interpretation is correct, then Spencer’s plot and the deduced strongly negative feedback (large lambda) is closely related to other studies of the tropical seas, like Spencer et al on intra seasonal oscillations and Lindzen’s infrared iris. And his comparison to results from large climate models shows that they do not contain this stabilizing mechanism.

  51. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of Jens of February 4, 2011 at 5:11 PM.

    Dear Jens,

    Thank you for your reply. It is good that we can have a civil discussion here.

    You write: “You are unhappy about the simple model used by Spencer (and me)”

    I am not too unhappy about the simple model for the present purpose. We are, I think, trying to estimate a quantity that we call here the ‘climate sensitivity’. It is the ratio of a smallish change in land-sea surface temperature to the smallish change in radiative imbalance at the top of the atmosphere that caused that temperature change. There are many assumptions to be made to let us think that this is well-defined physical quantity, and variations in the details of those assumptions can affect our answer, but let us not get too tied up with that right now.

    The reason for wanting this quantity is that the IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism for presenting estimates of the CLIMATE SENSITIVITYmethod of calculating

  52. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of Jens of February 4, 2011 at 5:11 PM. Sorry I hit the wrong key by mistake.

    Dear Jens,

    Thank you for your reply. It is good that we can have a civil discussion here.

    You write: “You are unhappy about the simple model used by Spencer (and me)”

    I am not too unhappy about the simple model for the present purpose. What concerns me is the method for estimating its parameters.

    It is the hard-won fruit of scientific experience over the centuries and millennia that to study the dynamics of a system, one is best to use the method of tracing true cause and effect, starting with a known and accurately defined true cause, and following the effects as they propagate through the system. This kind of initial or true cause we call an external driver. This is one of the most important principles of scientific method today. It is very important that the scientist should understand and respect it.

    The IPCC “forcings and feedbacks” formalism flouts this very sound principle, and this flouting is very bad. The formalism acts as if the “radiative forcing”, the imbalance of radiative transfer at the top of the atmosphere, were an external driver, when it is not. The “radiative forcing” is an unknown mixture of cause and effect; in our present language we express this by saying that the “radiative forcing” is heavily affected by feedback, which here is counted as an effect, not as an external driver or true cause. The difficulties of interpretation that follow in this case are just the kind of thing that led to the recognition of the method of tracing true cause and effect over the millennia. As Richard Feynman said, “Nature cannot be fooled.” If one tries to ignore basic principles of investigation of nature, she will not kindly oblige by changing to fit in with one’s ignoring. The propagation of causal efficacy is the very most fundamental principle of physics for describing change.

    You write: “this model captures an essential feature of the climate dynamics, energy conservation”

    Yes, energy conservation is essential, but no one here doubts it. It is however, not a dynamical principle, that is to say, by itself it does not tell anything about the direction of change with the passage of time. The here-relevant mistake (amongst many others) of the IPCC formalism is in a sense the virtual assumption that energy conservation at the top of the atmosphere can be considered as a pure driver of change. To work on this virtual assumption is to cripple one’s investigation. One can talk cleverly to try to pretend that this is not really being assumed, but in the end one is simply trying to fool Nature, and she doesn’t listen to that kind of talk. Much of what you say in your post is a partly thought-out attempt to wriggle past this self-imposed handicap. Better not to impose the handicap in the first place; Nature will not oblige to let you do it successfully. The method linked by RW is an example of how to avoid imposing such handicaps. We need the best methods we can find, not ones that cripple our investigations by self-imposed handicaps.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher

  53. RW says:

    Christopher,

    You may be interested in a few other papers by that same author:

    www. palisad.com/co2/sg/sg.html

    www. palisad.com/co2/div2/div2.html

  54. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of RW of February 4, 2011 at 9:03 PM.

    Dear RW,

    Thank you for this. I find your links very interesting.

    If find it very distressing that the author chooses to use the very-hard-to-understand formalism of control theory (he says it requires a “deep understanding” and that it requires an “intuitive grasp”), when the theory of dynamical systems is so much more straightforward and transparent and gives so much more lucid explanations. Engineers seem to live in a world of control theory where mathematicians and physicists often see instead a world of dynamical systems. But I can still learn from the author’s work.

    There is a massive error in author’s calculation at palisad.com/co2/div2/div2.html. He proposes to prove that half of the radiative energy from the land-sea body that is absorbed by the atmosphere is then radiated to space and half is radiated back to the land-sea body. His arguments about this are desperately wrong. The corrective fact that he needs is that most of the energy that is in net imbalance transferred from land-sea surface to atmosphere is by conduction-evaporation-convection, and very little by net imbalance of radiative exchange. Also he wrongly neglects the solar radiation that is absorbed by the atmosphere, but this is perhaps a less desperate error.

    Instead of his present very wrong conclusion, the author might like to find a proof of the more accurate conclusion that the radiation from the atmosphere to space is close to half the total upward radiation from the land-sea body (to atmosphere plus space); a good argument to this effect probably exists, I think, but sad to say I do not know it.

    This does not negate the great value of the general method of his calculation at http://www.palisad.com/co2/eb/eb.html, a method which seems right to me. But now that I know the author is capable of massive error, I will need to check his detailed performance of his calculation more closely than I have done so far.

    I have not digested the other very interesting links that you give, and I will take some time to do so.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher

    • RW says:

      Chistpher Game says:

      “There is a massive error in author’s calculation at palisad.com/co2/div2/div2.html. He proposes to prove that half of the radiative energy from the land-sea body that is absorbed by the atmosphere is then radiated to space and half is radiated back to the land-sea body. His arguments about this are desperately wrong. The corrective fact that he needs is that most of the energy that is in net imbalance transferred from land-sea surface to atmosphere is by conduction-evaporation-convection, and very little by net imbalance of radiative exchange. Also he wrongly neglects the solar radiation that is absorbed by the atmosphere, but this is perhaps a less desperate error.”

      The author is considering radiative components, and I can assure you is well aware of the large amount of heat that is transferred to the atmosphere via conduction and evaporation. Those mechanisms are non-radiative and are really just moving and redistributing heat energy around the thermal mass of the planet – most of which is in the oceans and a smaller amount is in the atmosphere. The energy enetering and leaving the top of the atmosphere is all radiative.

      He is not neglecting the solar energy absorbed by the atmosphere either, which definitely occurs. The point is Conservation of Energy dictates that 239 W/m^2 of the power at the surface has to come from the Sun. If you are claiming this is not correct, show me the power in = power out calculations that demonstrate it.

    • RW says:

      Christopher,

      In regards to the post albedo solar energy absorbed by the atmosphere (mostly by clouds), it eventually gets to the surface – primarily via precipitation. The point is it has to get there somehow for Conservatin of Energy to met in the system. Ultimately, this means that 100% of the post albedo power from the Sun contributes the total surface power (239 W/m^2 of the total 390 W/m^2 at the surface is from the Sun).

      Also, the ‘conduction-evaporation-convection’ components moving heat away from the surface are cyclically returned to the land-sea body mainly via precipitation via weather systems, etc.

  55. Jens says:

    Christopher,

    your principle of finding the ‘true cause’ sounds too lofty to me, a bit like the statement that God is the prime mover of everything. Whether this is true or not has not played any role in the development of science. Another more down to earth example is the discussion in another thread about the primary causes of ENSO. This question is irrelevant for Spencer’s analysis which deals with the direction of the causal connection between variations of temperature and radiation during ENSO events. For interpretation of the observed correlation between the radiation balance and surface temperatur (at zero lag time) the direction of causation is crucial. And he finds that broadening the analysis to time-lagged correlation one gets an answer. The cause preceedes the effect.

    I agree with you completely that the paradigm of climate forcing has distorted the discussion of climate change. The complex non-linear climate system does not need any external forcing to change. But the simple linear equation for energy conservation we are discussing does not assume that. The underlying causes for the fluctuating ‘drivers’, radiative or non-radiative, are left open. As you point out, this equation does not really deal with the dynamics of the system.

    However, Spencer’s analysis does reveal something about the dynamics. The last term in the equation, -lambda*delT, the response of the system to a temperature change, should not be taken too literally. The response is frequency dependent and may indeed depend on the initial causes of the temperature variation. That the response is delayed should not be surprising since most of the net energy transport from the surface to the top of the atmosphere is by convection, not radiation.

    Perhaps we are not disagreeing so much after all?

  56. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of Jens of February 5, 2011 at 3:10 AM.

    Dear Jens,

    Thank you for your reply.

    You seem to reject my approach to following cause and effect, but I think I haven’t made myself clear to you. If you will perhaps read again what I wrote, we might find ourselves in agreement. We are both saying that the cause precedes the effect, but, with respect, I think you are not clear in your mind about the scientific methods of use of that principle. In practice, scientists have found that a physical separation of cause and effect at some point is needed in order to use the principle, and my term ‘external driver’ is intended to express such a separation.

    You are considering an auto-regressive model in which there is no physical external driver, but a virtual driver is used, provided by “random fluctuations”, which are convenient mathematical fictions. Such models are not the most efficient for the purpose in hand, because they do not use real external drivers. In classical physics, which we are considering here, Nature does not admit “random fluctuations”; they are mathematical fictions. You and Dr Spencer are both guilty here, of the crime of pushing inefficient autoregressive models.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher

  57. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game further replying to the post of Jens of February 5. 2011 at 3:10 AM.

    Dear Jens,

    Perhaps I can make things clearer as follows. Or perhaps not. Depending on how you think about things.

    For the purposes of our present discussion, a proper cause or a proper effect is always and only an actual change in an enduring physical object, that is to say it is an extended physical event or is a physical process.

    A change of the energy flow imbalance at the top of the atmosphere is a mathematical quantity defined for a mathematical object, not an actual change in an enduring physical object. The mathematical object which is the top of the atmosphere is a geometrical two-dimensional surface in space, not a three-dimensional enduring physical object; it therefore cannot undergo actual physical change of the kind that belongs to enduring physical objects; it can only undergo mathematical change. The energy flow imbalance at the top of the atmosphere therefore can be neither a proper cause nor a proper effect.

    Perhaps this explanation will seem even more bizarre and obtuse to you than my previous ones, which you characterize as “too lofty” and which you liken to “the statement that God is the prime mover of everything”. Or perhaps not.

    The changes of energy flow imbalance at the top of the atmosphere obey the law of conservation of energy, but that is not enough to earn them status as actual changes in enduring physical objects.

    The changes in energy flow imbalance at the top of the atmosphere can provide information about the past and about the future, but that does not earn them the status of actual changes in enduring physical objects.

    The changes in energy flow imbalance at the top of the atmosphere are mathematical quantities which are useful for describing the earth’s energy transport process, but they appear as quantities in the internal dynamics of the process and therefore cannot be identified as purely causes or purely effects. They are quantities in a feedback process; in a sense they are always both ’cause’ and ‘effect’. That is why Dr Spencer finds that sometimes thinking that is restricted to being in terms of them makes it impossible to identify causes and effects.

    Another way of putting it is that, for the purposes of the present discussion, a cause or an effect can only be something that happens in the course of existence of an enduring physical object. The top of the atmosphere is only a mathematical fiction, not an enduring physical object.

    It is important for discussions of this kind to distinguish between actual physical entities and mathematical fictions. Failure to properly make the distinction leads to hopeless muddle.

    Perhaps I have moved in the wrong direction for your way of thinking. I have moved to a more abstract way of thinking. Perhaps you would like a move to a more concrete way. Experimental physics will provide endless concrete examples of how the experimenter controls one variable and observes changes in the rest. That one variable is the external driver. That is experimental physics.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher

  58. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of RW of February 5, 2011 at 7:43 AM.

    Dear RW,

    Thank you for your reply.

    You are asking me to reply to your comments. Your comments are not set out as a well-constructed argument, but are indeed simply a string of comments. It is not useful for me to reply to them one by one.

    The author classifies his figures as ‘measured’, ‘computed’, ‘derived’, and ‘constraint’.

    Measurements are available for the total reflected sunlight, and the value given by Kiehl and Trenberth 1997 is 107 W m^-2 as compared with the 102.5 W m^-2 derived by the author; this is not too great a discrepancy.

    He offers a constraint that the radiation of solar energy absorbed by the land-sea surface plus the radiation from the atmosphere to space must total the whole radiation from the land-sea surface to atmosphere plus space. Correspondingly, you write: “The point is Conservation of Energy dictates that 239 W/m^2 of the power at the surface has to come from the Sun.” All the power comes from the sun, but not necessarily directly. It is found by measurement that some 315 W m^-2 of radiation comes from the atmosphere to be absorbed by the land-sea body. The exact figure is argued, some say 310 others 324, but the figure 315 is near enough for our present discussion. The variability of the measurement is due to the variegated distribution of conditions over the globe. The exact result obtained for the global average, the quantity being considered here, depends on the technique of averaging. The author would have been well advised to classify this as a ‘measured’ quantity and to have used a measured value for it. The author’s derived value of 146 W m^-2 is desperately wrong. His ‘constraint’ is desperately wrong: the energy balance of the land-sea surface includes the transfer of energy by conduction-evaporation-convection, on the order of 104 W m^-2 and this is wrongly omitted from his ‘constraint’. Your statement that 239 W/m2 of the power at the surface has to come from the sun is simply not well thought out, if it means that that energy passes directly as radiation from the sun to the surface. These points explain most of the massive discrepancy between the measured value and the author’s derived value of the radiation from the atmosphere to the land-sea surface.

    You write: “Those mechanisms are non-radiative and are really just moving and redistributing heat energy around the thermal mass of the planet – most of which is in the oceans and a smaller amount is in the atmosphere.” One of those redistributions is, as you note, from land-sea surface to atmosphere, and this needs to be included in the energy balance of the land-sea surface, which must include all energy flows, not just radiative ones. This inclusion is contrary to your statement. Radiative energy is not a conserved quantity after it has been absorbed. Emitted energy does not have to be supplied by previously directly radiated energy; it can be supplied by convectively transported internal energy, including so called ‘latent heat’. As it happens, nearly all the energy radiated to space from the atmosphere is supplied by the sum of two terms: conduction-evaporation-convection + directly absorbed (mostly visible) non-infrared solar energy.

    As a less massive discrepancy, the energy that passes directly from the land-sea surface to space is not the figure of 93 W m^-2 as derived by the author. It is more like 66 W m^-2, again subject to some debate but still not too far from this. The author’s ‘computed’ value T = 0.241 is right as to order of magnitude but not right as to accurate value for the global average, which is more like T = 0.15 .

    Measurements show that about one third of the absorbed solar radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere, and two thirds of it by the land-sea surface, about 160 W m^-2, not the 239 W m^-2 derived by the author.

    Sad to say, the author’s calculation here largely ignores the available measurements, and is consequently massively wrong, in contrast with his good calculation at palisad.com/co2/eb/eb.html. If you think it through again carefully, you will agree about this.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher

    • RW says:

      Chritopher Game says:

      “Measurements show that about one third of the absorbed solar radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere, and two thirds of it by the land-sea surface, about 160 W m^-2, not the 239 W m^-2 derived by the author.”

      Show me the power in = power out that proves what your saying. Your numbers don’t work:

      According to Trenberth for example, 161 W/m^2 is the designated amount of post albedo power from the sun at the surface. The total surface power is 390 W/m^2. 390 W/m^2 – 161 W/m^2 = 229 W/m^2 from the atmosphere. 390 W/m^2 – 70 W/m^2 (through Trenberth’s transparent window) = 320 W/m^2. 320 W/m^2 – 229 W/m^2 = 91 W/m^2 total directed up out to space by the atmosphere. 91 W/m^2 + 70 W/m^2 = 161 W/m^2 leaving (239 W/m^2 is needed; 78 W/m^2 missing).

      Do you see how this shows that for power in = power out, 239 W/m^2 of the surface power – prior to any radiative absorption/re-radiation from the atmosphere, has to come from the Sun? The missing 78 W/m^2 at the surface can only come from the Sun since COE dictates the atmosphere cannot create any energy of its own.

      Yes all of the energy in the system is originally sourced from the Sun, but it’s the absorption/re-radiation of that energy by the components of the atmosphere (clouds and GHGs) that slows the release of the incoming energy from the Sun, thus making the surface power and temperature greater than what it would be otherwise (about 390 W/m^2).

    • RW says:

      Christopher Game says:

      “Your statement that 239 W/m2 of the power at the surface has to come from the sun is simply not well thought out, if it means that that energy passes directly as radiation from the sun to the surface.”

      No, that’s not what it means. It simply means that the energy that doesn’t directly pass as radiation from the Sun to the surface, ultimately gets to the surface non-radiatively. This is what COE dictates must be the case. Also, the surface of the earth is near perfect black body radiator, which means it emits a Planck distribution of energy according to its temperature (or more specifically the temperature of its thermal mass).

    • RW says:

      Christopher Game says:

      “It is found by measurement that some 315 W m^-2 of radiation comes from the atmosphere to be absorbed by the land-sea body. The exact figure is argued, some say 310 others 324, but the figure 315 is near enough for our present discussion. The variability of the measurement is due to the variegated distribution of conditions over the globe. The exact result obtained for the global average, the quantity being considered here, depends on the technique of averaging. The author would have been well advised to classify this as a ‘measured’ quantity and to have used a measured value for it. The author’s derived value of 146 W m^-2 is desperately wrong. His ‘constraint’ is desperately wrong: the energy balance of the land-sea surface includes the transfer of energy by conduction-evaporation-convection, on the order of 104 W m^-2 and this is wrongly omitted from his ‘constraint’.”

      How is it wrongly omitted from his ‘constraint’? All the energy is accounted for. Why do you think the energy transfered from the surface via conduction-evaporation-convection is not subject to radiative absorption and re-radiation by the atmosphere? It is.

      If as you say, 315 W/m^2 is re-radiated down from the atmosphere of the 390 W/m^2 at the surface, then this also must mean that 75 W/m^2 of the 390 W/m^2 is directly from the Sun, correct? (390-315 = 75). Let’s then use your transparent window of 66 W/m^2. 390 W/m^2 – 66 W/m^2 = 324 W/m^2 is absorbed by the atmosphere; 66 W/m^2 passing through unabsorbed. If, of this 324 W/m^2 absorbed by the atmosphere, 315 is re-radiated back to the surface, that only leaves 75 W/m^2 leaving the system when 239 W/m^2 are required (324-315 = 9; 9 + 66 = 75).

      • RW says:

        I wrote:

        “Why do you think the energy transfered from the surface via conduction-evaporation-convection is not subject to radiative absorption and re-radiation by the atmosphere? It is.”

        This is wrong. What I meant was that the components (mainly H20) transferred to the atmosphere via conduction-evaporation-convection, affect how much of the outgoing surface infrared power is absorbed and re-radiated by the atmosphere. In that sense, they contribute the overall energy balance, but are still not a direct radiative component in and out of the system.

    • RW says:

      Christopher,

      “It is found by measurement that some 315 W m^-2 of radiation comes from the atmosphere to be absorbed by the land-sea body. The exact figure is argued, some say 310 others 324, but the figure 315 is near enough for our present discussion.”

      The main point is that of the 315 W/m^2 coming from the atmosphere, only part is returned radiatively and the remainder is not – it’s returned primarily in the form of precipitation through weather systems, which largely serve to re-distribute energy from the tropics to the rest of the planet (i.e. move energy around the thermal mass).

    • RW says:

      Christopher Game says:

      “You write: “Those mechanisms are non-radiative and are really just moving and redistributing heat energy around the thermal mass of the planet – most of which is in the oceans and a smaller amount is in the atmosphere.” One of those redistributions is, as you note, from land-sea surface to atmosphere, and this needs to be included in the energy balance of the land-sea surface, which must include all energy flows, not just radiative ones. This inclusion is contrary to your statement. Radiative energy is not a conserved quantity after it has been absorbed. Emitted energy does not have to be supplied by previously directly radiated energy; it can be supplied by convectively transported internal energy, including so called ‘latent heat’. As it happens, nearly all the energy radiated to space from the atmosphere is supplied by the sum of two terms: conduction-evaporation-convection + directly absorbed (mostly visible) non-infrared solar energy.”

      Do you agree that the energy emitted at the top of the atmosphere to space is all radiative? You seem to be implying that’s it not.

      The heat transferred from the surface to the atmosphere via conduction-evaporation-convection condenses into clouds and weather systems and is eventually returned to the surface in the form of precipitation and the cylce repeats constantly over and over again.

  59. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the post of RW of February 5, 2011, at 9:52 Am.

    Dear RW,

    This post of yours of 9:52 AM is thoroughly mistaken. You need to study the matter further, with more regard to fact and less to speculation. A good textbook will help.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher

  60. RW says:

    Christopher,

    Sorry for the multiple, somewhat erradic posts in response to you.

    I’m familiar with the Trenberth paper and diagram (both the 1997 and 2009 redo) and the numbers you’re citing. The 324 W/m^2 that Trenberth designates as ‘back radiation’ is a misrepresentation because all of this is not radiative. A significant portion (102 W/m^2) of it is kinetic in the form of evaporative latent heat, which eventually condenses and is returned to the surface as rain, weather, etc. The 67 W/m^2 designated as “Absorbed by the atmosphere” of the post albedo power is also kinetic and returned to the surface in the same way. This results in the true back radiation from the atmosphere being only 155 W/m^2 (324 – 102 = 222; 222 – 67 = 155).

    This means that of the 390 W/m^2 at the surface, only 155 W/m^2 is returned as back radiation. From this, using Trenberth’s 70 W/m^2 transparent window, we can calculate how much of the surface emitted power is absorbed by the atmosphere: 390 – 70 = 320 W/m^2 absorbed by the atmosphere. 320 W/m^2 – 155 W/m^2 returned to the surface = 165 W/m^2 directed up out to space. 165 W/m^2 from the atmosphere + 70 W/m^2 through the transparent window = 235 W/m^2 leaving at the top of the atmosphere. Trenberth’s 1997 diagram shows 235 W/m^2 post albedo entering and 235 W/m^2 leaving for power in = power out.

    You can see that even using Trenberth’s own numbers, it’s very close to half up and half down with 390 W/m^2 at the surface (about 52 % up and 48% down; 155/320 = about 48%; 165/320 = about 52%). This suggests that Trenberth’s 70 W/m^2 window is too low (86 W/m^2 would yield exactly half up and half down in this case).

  61. RW says:

    Christopher,

    Or maybe the 67 W/m^2 of the post albedo designated as “absorbed by the atmosphere” is the half returned radiatively to the surface, while the other half directed up is already included in the 107 W/m^2 of the albedo? Trenberth’s paper and diagram is confusing and ambiguous. The bottom line is the 67 W/m^2 has to get to the surface for COE to be met, and the power emitted at the surface is directly due to its temperature (via Stefan-Boltzman). This means that regardless of exactly how it gets there, the 390 W/m^2 emitted at the surface is still all radiative and works with the above calculations either way.

  62. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the posts of RW of
    February 5, 2011.

    Dear RW,

    Thank you for your reply. It is evident that you do not accept my previous replies, and that you harbour many serious misconceptions.

    I do not have time to go through this in more detail with you. Your comments in these posts are mostly wild and uninformed speculation. If you want to improve your understanding of this, you will have to read some textbooks and regular scientific articles.

    The downward infrared radiation emitted by the atmosphere has been directly measured with radiometers by many observers on many occasions. The global average is more than 300 W m^-2. For some reliable direct measurements in particular locations you can read the paper by W.C. Swinbank (1963), Long-wave radiation from clear skies, Q.J.R. Meteorol. Soc. 89: 339-348. A thoroughly reliable textbook reference for this is G.W. Paltridge and C.M.R Platt (1976) Radiative Processes in Meteorology and Climatology, Elsevier, Amsterdam, ISBN 0-444-41444-4, see around page 139. The figures given by Kiehl and Trenberth 1997 may well have some smallish inaccuracies, but they are not so far wrong as to remotely justify your wild and speculative complaints about them. Though one cannot accept everything one reads in it, and some of its figures have some smallish inaccuracies, perhaps a useful text for you would be Meteorology Today ninth edition (2009), by C.D. Ahrens, Brooks/Cole, Belmont CA, ISBN-10 0-495-55573-5, especially about page 49.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher

    • RW says:

      Christopher Game says:

      “Thank you for your reply. It is evident that you do not accept my previous replies, and that you harbour many serious misconceptions.

      I do not have time to go through this in more detail with you. Your comments in these posts are mostly wild and uninformed speculation. If you want to improve your understanding of this, you will have to read some textbooks and regular scientific articles.”

      OK fair enough, but I thought I asked a perfectly good and fair question. If what I’m saying is so wrong, as you claim, it should be easy to show with power in = power out calculations demonstrating COE is met in the system.

      Christopher Game says:

      “The downward infrared radiation emitted by the atmosphere has been directly measured with radiometers by many observers on many occasions. The global average is more than 300 W m^-2.”

      Are you saying that ‘downward radiation’ is the same thing as ‘back radiation’? This may be where the confusion between us lies. ‘Downard’ radiation is not necessarily the same thing as ‘back radiation’, depending on the where the energy is directly coming from. For example, incoming energy absorbed by the atmosphere and re-radiated toward the surface would be ‘downward radiation’ but it would not be ‘back radiation’.

      Christopher Game says:

      “For some reliable direct measurements in particular locations you can read the paper by W.C. Swinbank (1963), Long-wave radiation from clear skies, Q.J.R. Meteorol. Soc. 89: 339-348. A thoroughly reliable textbook reference for this is G.W. Paltridge and C.M.R Platt (1976) Radiative Processes in Meteorology and Climatology, Elsevier, Amsterdam, ISBN 0-444-41444-4, see around page 139. The figures given by Kiehl and Trenberth 1997 may well have some smallish inaccuracies, but they are not so far wrong as to remotely justify your wild and speculative complaints about them. Though one cannot accept everything one reads in it, and some of its figures have some smallish inaccuracies, perhaps a useful text for you would be Meteorology Today ninth edition (2009), by C.D. Ahrens, Brooks/Cole, Belmont CA, ISBN-10 0-495-55573-5, especially about page 49.”

      Is there anything directly online you can point me to? I’d like to take a look and get my feet wet before buying a particular book.

  63. RW says:

    Christopher,

    Tell you what, I’ll try and break the whole thing down into a series of small individual questions (if you’re interested):

    Firstly, do you agree that the energy entering and leaving at the top of the atmosphere is all radiative (i.e. all photons)?

    Do you agree that the post albedo power entering the system from Sun is about 239 W/m^2 (about 102 W/m^2 reflected back into the space)?

    Do you agree that the surface emitted power is about 390 W/m^2?

    Do you agree that the surface emitted power is directly due to its temperature and nothing else?

    Do you agree that all of the emitted 390 W/m^2 at the surface is radiative?

    Do you agree that the atmosphere cannot create any energy of its own?

    If you agree with all of these, I’ll continue with more questions. If not, we can discuss which one or ones you don’t agree with and see if we can get anywhere.

  64. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to the posts of RW of February 5, 2011 at 9:35 PM and 9:55 PM.

    Dear RW,

    You write: “Is there anything directly online you can point me to? I’d like to take a look and get my feet wet before buying a particular book.”

    I suggest you go to a library and borrow a few books.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher

  65. Expansive thoughts on other natural variability driving factors currently unaccounted for in the CO2 focused debate driven research, and proposed solutions for solving some of the “unknown unknowns” to help clarify the individual roles of more of the real drivers of weather and climate that are now defined as “background noise levels”

    Areas of productive research into answers are widening.

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/richard-holle-the-big-picture/

    Some of my outsider views on what does work.

  66. Aloha. I learned new this day. Keep it up…

  67. RW says:

    Doug says:

    “Two final questions:

    1) The albedo data is good to say that the in-and-out are equal to less than 1.0W/m2 variation of heating annually?”

    Again, I’m not quire sure what you mean here.