On Recent Criticisms of My Research

April 2nd, 2011 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

One of the downsides of going against the supposed “consensus of scientists” on global warming — other than great difficulty in getting your research funded and published — is that you get attacked in the media. In the modern blogging era, this is now easier to do than ever.

I have received many requests recently to respond to an extended blog critique by Barry Bickmore of my book, The Great Global Warming Blunder. The primary theme of my book was to present evidence that scientists have mixed up cause and effect when diagnosing feedbacks in the climate system, and as a result could have greatly overestimated how sensitive the climate system is to our addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere from fossil fuel burning.

For those interested, here is our most extensive peer reviewed and published evidence for my claim.

But for now, instead of responding to blog posts, I am devoting all the time I can spare to responding to peer-reviewed and published criticism of my work. The main one is Andy Dessler’s paper in Science from last fall, which claimed to find positive cloud feedback in the same 10 years of NASA satellite radiative energy balance (CERES) data we have been analyzing.

In his paper, Dessler dismissed all of the evidence we presented with a single claim: that since (1) the global temperature variations which occurred during the satellite record (2000-2010) were mostly caused by El Nino and La Nina, and (2) no one has ever demonstrated that “clouds cause El Nino”, then there could not be a clouds-causing-temperature-change contamination of his cloud feedback estimate.

But we now have clear evidence that El Nino and La Nina temperature variations are indeed caused in large measure by changes in clouds, with the cloud changes coming months in advance of the temperature changes.

And without going into detail, I will say it now appears that this is not the only major problem with Dessler’s diagnosis of positive cloud feedback from the data he presented. Since we will also be submitting this evidence to Science, and they are very picky about the newsworthiness of their articles, I cannot provide any details.

Of course, if Science refuses to publish it, that is another matter. Dick Lindzen has recently told me Science has been sitting on his critique of Dessler’s paper for months. Science has demonstrated an editorial bias against ‘skeptical’ climate papers in recent years, something I hope they will correct.

In the meantime, I will not be wasting much time addressing blog criticisms of my work. The peer-reviewed literature is where I must focus my attention.

68 Responses to “On Recent Criticisms of My Research”

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  1. Philip says:

    Good luck with this new research and look forward to reading the results.

  2. Shane Hanson says:

    I am looking for info concerning the global oxygen levels. Since the satellites measure the microwave emission from oxygen and the CO2 level is elevated, wouldn’t we want to track the oxygen concentration since the CO2 level increase should have a subsequent increase in photosynthesis?

  3. Eric Barnes says:

    Any ideas on when the data problem on when the mid december data problems from the AMSU satellite will be cleared up?

  4. Joel Raupe says:

    Hang in there, Dr. Spencer. “The Truth, by marvelous means, will out.”

  5. Sean2829 says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    You have no idea how much people appreciate your efforts. You are one of the few climate scientists that is actually engaged in a real technical debate about what is going on with the earth’s overall energy budget (your exchange with Trenberth on Dr. Pielke’s site) and trying to get to the bottom of the cause and effect with the poorly understood clouds. I follow your work closely and there is no doubt that you’ve chosen the correct venue to make a real difference. I’d just ask that you keep those of us reading the blogs up to date as you can.

  6. Eric Barnes says:

    Your efforts are much appreciated Dr. Spencer.

  7. JohnD says:

    “To upset the conclusion that
    all crows are black,
    there is no need to seek
    demonstration that
    no crows are black;
    it is sufficient to produce
    one white crow;
    a single one is sufficient.”
    __William James

    That white crow may be on the horizon. A nice thing about the internet is that it serves as a long term record and modern day chicken littles will have a more difficult time back away from their ‘the sky is warming’ proclamations.

  8. Dr. Spencer ,your work is great, but you are to narrrow minded when it comes to what makes earth’s climatic system work.

    Dr. Spencer, why can’t you see ,that what I say makes sense???



    1. Weak sun in general (90%) of the time. Solar flux less then 100 most of the time ,with spurts to 160 at times or even more. Sun sets things up.

    2. Leads to more geological activity,especially high lat. N.H. volcanic eruptions. Explosive index with a value of 5 or more ,will have great impacts, to earth’s climatic system.

    3. 1 and 2 then lead to a more -AO, the KEY! Value -1.5 or greater

    4. 1 leads to the likelyhood of a cold PDO/AMO, aid to cooling. Value -2c or greater.

    5. 1 leads to a more +SOI, aid to cooling. Value -1c or greater.

    6. 3 then leads to more arctic intrusions further south,and causes the polar regions to warm in contrast to the lower latitudes. The key in my opinion is the warming of the polar latitudes ,in contrast to latitudes say 40 to 70 degrees north,which undergo more cooling due to the -AO,and the positive feedbacks this circulation will give the N.H. for cooling ,due to an increase in low cloud cover,more precip., and more extensive snow cover.

    7. More clouds,precip. and snow cover ,then increase earth’s albedo,especially between those latitudes of 40 to 70 degrees north ,reinforcing the -AO circulation. A positive feedback for cooling.

    8. 1 leads to less solar irradiance. .1 or more

    9. This opinion is depended upon how everything phases in, and not only how everything phases in , but to what degree of magnitude the items phase into a cold /warm mode, along with the duration of time the phase in last. As one can see I gave some parameters for the phase in,of what I feel will be needed to accomplish the cooling, which is very likely to happen this decade.

    I say this is as good an explanation as any as to what governs earth’s climatic system, and before this decade is out we will know if this is ,or is not correct.

    I can wait a few more years.So far it is all going in this direction,and I came up with this a few years back.

  9. Freddie says:

    Dr. Roy, yuh the bossman. Tell dis Barry cat to kerry hi skunt! Respect and nuff love!

  10. DR. SPENCER, just for the record I think your work is great, I have no criticisms of it. What I object to with you ,is how you don’t want to explore and or talk about possible other comprehensive explanations as to what might make earth’s climatic system work.

    In addtion you never contribute any thoughts as to what has caused earth’s past glacial/interglacial periods, or what has caused earth’s sudden abrupt up/down temperature changes.

    My theory I put on the previous post, addresses these issues.

    As an example ,I say if the items I feel control the climate phase in a direction of magnitude strong enough /long enough, a threshold may be accomplished which could cause the temp. to change abruptly ,only to stay in the new regime ,until some future threshold takes place. Ex. YOUNGA DRYAS ,beginnng and ending.

    I say perhaps favorable Milankovich cycles are needed, in addition to the proper phase in, of the items I mentioned on my previous post, to obtain major glaciations for earth.

    What do you say Dr. Spencer? You must have some thoughts on these matters. What are they? I would like to know.

    All I hear from you is the role of clouds, in the insignificant small degree of changes in temperature, over a 10 or 20 year time period. Why can’t we look at the bigger picture?

    I feel like you talents are being consumed in this one narrow focus of cloud changes ,and how they relate to earth’s temperature, and how they show the global warming models to be wrong. We already know the global warming models are wrong,let’s move on.

    • Salvatore, I HAVE written about my belief that the PDO (and maybe other natural, internal oscillations in the climate system) are what cause most climate change, through their ability to modify global average cloud cover. For instance, here.

  11. savethesharks says:

    Keep up the good work, Dr. Spencer.

    Well of course Science is going to sit on Lindzen’s critique and yours. I guess you could say that is a backhanded “compliment.”

    The global warming Establishment is starting to crumble. They can only suppress the truth for only so long. Truth always has a way of finding itself to the surface. :-)


    Norfolk, VA, USA

  12. Clive says:

    Dr Spencer, you’re absolutely right. Proof is required, not “beat up” probabilities from scientists with a massive conflict of interest. In a normal world, the IPCC’s pronouncements in 2007 would have been greeted with a great deal of suspicion for the reasons you have previously outlined, but its central hypothesis has been given currency by: a) corporatisation of media in the past 20 years, which has reduced specialist editorial resources (such as full-time writers to cover science) to convert more media revenue into profits, b) four decades of biased environmental “science” being introduced into secondary school curricula by teachers who share a misanthropic world view with most scientists. (b) has created the biggest youth movement since the Vietnam War centred around fashionable ideas on environment, bearing in mind youth protest almost skipped a generation after the 1970s. These are the social components of a scientific debate that has created a type of Green zombieism that exalts anti-scientific concepts like “Gaia”. Correctly apportioning CO2′s role as a climate driver will help repair the damage done to the credibility of science by the IPCC, in my view.

  13. Thanks for the moral support, everyone. Sometimes I wonder whether it is worth the effort, but I manage to keep going, anyway.

  14. Real Temp says:

    You are a humble scientist Dr Roy. When ever you are feeling down go and check out


    I think this guy loves himself (check out all 7 mugshots!).

    Zoolander anyone? lol

  15. Joe Bastardi says:

    Roy.. as to this comment

    “Thanks for the moral support, everyone. Sometimes I wonder whether it is worth the effort, but I manage to keep going, anyway.”

    If your motive is to justify your ideas among people that seek to elevate their ideas or themselves by tearing down what they can not or will not understand.. then you are lost. Roy its not what I think or they think, its your journey. You wouldn’t be on it unless you were supposed to be. But above all, you have to fight. Focus on the fight.. the answers will be there as long was you are willing to fight for them. As far as the doubts, frustrations, fears, etc, well courage and character can only be displayed when confronted with them. It is what I have learned from a child, through my wrestling, and yes, in this career as I meteorologist I hold so dear. embrace it and let it drive you. Those things are gifts that won’t be understood till later.

    If it is to search for, and to speak to truth, wherever that may lead you.. then it is worth the fight

    You are a great man, and a great scientist, but to whom much is given, much is required.


  16. Sigmund says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    I felt Bickmores post was unfair and in bad taste, devoting much to much on attacking the person and scientist Roy Spencer instead of his science in question. This probably plays well with Bickmores crowd but offends all that wants the AGW to be discussed in a sivil manner. I’m glad to see you won’t waste time on man deaf for your arguents but stay your course on the impotant issues.

    As a physiscist working in the industry I never felt comfortable with the assumptions of strong positive feadback and looked in vain for convincing documentations from the IPCC-crowd. With so much water in the atmosphere in everchanging distribution between different phases, height, aggregate size and more, all influencing waters greenhose effects I looked for signs the mechanisms are understood. The more I read the less faith I got in that IPCC had this right.

    When I first read your blog I was so glad to find someone working on these issues. It is one of the sites I log into several times a week to see what is new, hoping for a new post. Please continue your good work on the science and keep going, thanks for all your effort!

  17. “Shane Hanson says:
    April 2, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    I am looking for info concerning the global oxygen levels. Since the satellites measure the microwave emission from oxygen and the CO2 level is elevated, wouldn’t we want to track the oxygen concentration since the CO2 level increase should have a subsequent increase in photosynthesis?”

    Hello, I was debating whether I should reply since it is off topic, but it is my understanding that while CO2 went up by about 0.01% since 1750, the O2 went down by the same amount from 20.96% to 20.95%. And yes, photosynthesis is higher with higher CO2 amounts, but the concentration of O2 does not increase since through combustion, we are taking 10 O2 out and then adding 1 via more photosynthesis.

  18. Eric Hein says:

    Dr. Spencer,
    As a complete outsider to the study of climate I truly appreciate your site and your efforts to thwart what I see as an ideological attempt by over zealous environmentalists to force governmental policy using biased and incorrect science. Please keep doing what you do and putting it here in simple terms that even a layman like myself can understand. The facts will eventually speak for themselves and I think that in the end scientists as yourself will be vindicated.
    On a side note, my background is in aviation and I understand basic feedback circuits. Without a negative feedback a system will simply go to the extreme with the addition of any input (forcing) one way or the other. Logically the climate would have to act in the same way. The addition of CO2 would cause a slight warming triggering a greater response of this negative feedback (clouds?). This is what I see as the fundamental flaw with the current consensus view.

    Thanks Again,


  19. RW says:

    Keep up the great work, Roy. You’re efforts are hugely appreciated. And never forget that “The only necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

  20. RW says:

    BTW, Dr. Roy, how does the climate science community get away with not explaining relatively simplistic energy balance contradictions regarding their climate sensitivity projections, and why don’t skeptics point them out more often?

    For example, if the 239 W/m^2 coming in from the Sun becomes roughly 390 W/m^2 emitted at the surface (288K), that represents only an amplification or gain of about 1.6 or 60% (390/239 = 1.6). In energy balance terms, this means that it takes 390 W/m^2 at the surface to allow 239 W/m^2 to leave the system, offsetting the 239 W/m^2 coming in from the Sun. To get a 3 C rise in temperature, an additional 16.6 W/m^2 is needed at the surface. If an additional 1.85 W/m^2 (from 2xCO2) received by the surface is to become 16.6 W/m^2, and is within the system’s boundaries, then why doesn’t it take more like 2150 W/m^2 at the surface to offset the 239 W/m^2 coming in from the Sun (16.6/1.85 = 9; 9×239 = 2150)???

  21. Gad Levin says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    I’m almost as frustrated as you and Dr. Lindzen are, for potentially not being able to publish your research.

    My advise, take a cue from politics. For decades the main stream media is tilted toward the left and they filter the news accordingly. So how did the right overcome this? We found other venues, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the blogs, etc.
    So since there are hundreds of “skeptical” scientists who are experts in the climate field, why don’t you establish your own “Science Magazine” and publish there based on the same rules the scientific community is based on? This way, you will not be at the mercy of biased editors, and your findings will be published for everyone to see.


    Gad Levin

  22. TimTheToolMan says:

    Science can only progress when the alternative plausible hypotheses are properly explored.

    Irrespective of whether your hypothesis turns out to be true or not, or significant or not, you will have advanced science more than many of those who focus on mainstream belief.

  23. Dr. Spencer ,thanks for the reply and the information. I will study it.

    I value your opinions believe it or not. Sometimes I get frustrated,because I can’t get very far with what I am trying to convey. I have spent so much time on this,anyways what you have to say will be of great value.

    I am with you,and will support you and your work. Thank You.

  24. Dr. Spencer ,I took a look,this looks interesting,and it fits in with some of my thouhgts ,which gives me encouragement. I have to print it out ,and really give it the time it deserves, but by just going through it ,I see I have much agreement with what you are trying to convey, in that study.

    This man made global warming ,is ridiculous, especially if one goes back say 20,000 years, and just looks at all the vast,extreme temperature changes ,that have taken place.

    If this was a first time event,this last century warming,I would say maybe they were on to something,but that warming last century was very tame ,compared to past temperature changes in earth’s past ,both up or down. That says much, to show the man made global warming thoughts ,have no merit. Just that fact alone,never mind all the other evidence.

  25. Professor Bob Ryan says:

    You are quite correct – what really matters is the peer reviewed literature and that is where your focus must be. I thought I would correspond to say how much I enjoyed your book courtesy of Kindle and a plane flight from the Far East back to the UK. I picked up on the Brickmore blog and read it with interest. He made some interesting points but overall I think it was a demolition job for his own audience. I have no time for ad-hom arguments, it takes some young academics a long time to figure out that it does their reputation more harm than good. But I guess that experience only comes with a few grey hairs.

    Your book provoked my interest because I assumed that the sensitivity issue would be easily resolved through the data. So, from mild curiosity about the subject I am now wondering what on earth the case is that climate sciences are trying to make. From a time series point of view the issue is pretty straightforward: we are with temperature data and CO2 level looking at two stochastic processes which are quite dissimilar. They are both rising on the 59-08 data series but they do not look the same and statistically they are not. Removing the unit roots and trying various lags on the first differences and followed up by a distributed lag model I was really surprised to find that changes in CO2 have no explanatory power with respect to changes in temperature. It is true that correlation does not imply causality but equally a complete lack of correlation does not bode well for there being any real underlying relationship.

    I now see why all the interest in modelling. If there was a high degree of correlation the attribution problem would be easier – and I suspect the sensitivity issue would largely disappear. Rather naively I assumed there would be a clear link. But zero correlation? I dug through the literature on multi-pattern optimal fingerprinting but that was frustrating in the extreme in that it signally failed to do what it claimed. So they are trying to establish a physical basis of attribution but I cannot think of any other science, social or natural, where theoretically derived models trump a complete lack of observational support.

    I must admit I now find the whole issue very frustrating, theory without observation is merely conjecture. So all a best with your assault on the literature. Lockouts in the journals are very frustrating too I hope you make headway.

    • Hi Bob Ryan,

      I’m interested in knowing why you think my critique was a “demolition job” for my audience, and which “ad hominem” arguments you objected to. I’m particularly interested in what you thought of my deconstruction of Dr. Spencer’s model in Part 3 of my critique. His attempt to link the PDO with 20th century global temperature evolution was demonstrably an abuse of statistics.

      • Professor Bob Ryan says:

        Dr Bickmore

        A casual glance at your website – I didn’t search – it was the first sentence I glanced upon and I find myself reading this:

        ‘Roy Spencer has established a clear track record of throwing out acutely insufficient evidence for his ideas, and then complaining that his colleagues are intellectually lazy and biased when they are not immediately convinced.’

        Go for the ball, not the man. Establish his arguments wrong, if you can, do not make generalised statements of this type. They annoy me and other readers because they are rhetoric (language designed to impress) rather the language of logic, reason and science.

        A similar debate was conducted in the literature in the 1970′s/1980′s in the area of financial economics – a subject in its approach and problem domain which is very similar to climate science -the disputes were fierce and of far reaching significance for the conduct of our financial life and, arguably the dominance of one side over the other led in part to the 2008 financial collapse. I attended many of the conferences where the sorts of remarks you make with respect to Spencer were being thrown about by the young academics from Chicago, MIT, New York and London who were convinced they were right and dismissed with contempt those who argued against them.

        It was not an edifying spectacle and in the end we have begun to understand more and more that the arguments of the critics had real force and that reality is far more subtle and complex than the mathematical modelling of financial derivatives would have led us to expect.

        So my advice to you Dr Bickmore is this: if you have a case to make, make it. If you want to write a critique of a book write it. Don’t tell me how many times you have been insulted by those who oppose you. That cuts no ice with me. Do your job as a scholar and a scientist and you will get my respect and my attention and indeed you stand a chance of convincing me of your case. I would make the same case with vigor to someone on the other side too and have so, if you have read the comments I have made elsewhere, in support of Mann, Jones and others who have been (in my view unfairly abused) by their critics.

        As to your final comment I will consider that in due course when I review the published material. Dr Spencer is doing you a favor by focusing on the refereed literature. You will be doing me, him and everyone else a service by supporting his efforts at publication and then addressing them in the appropriate way.

  26. SBVOR says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    Your priorities are well placed.

    Keep up the GREAT work!


  27. George E. Smith says:

    Dr Roy,
    I’m in agreement with the opinion that your best efforts should be directed to the normal channel peer reviewed literature. But those of us in the Blogosphere, who aren’t ever going to publish in the PRJs, still appreciate your keeping us informed as you do (subject of course to not messing up the PRJ process.

    I don’t know WHAT causes the cloud cover to change (for climatically significant time periods) such as the various cyclic events you have cited; BUT ! , I am quite convinced, beyond any doubt, that it is in fact such cloud cover modulation, that is in direct (negative) feedback control of earth’s comfort zone.

    Some facts are incontrovertible; even irrefutable. NOBODY ever observed the Temperature to rise (and it warm up) in the shadow zone, when a cloud passes in front of the sun; it ALWAYS cools down, and the Temperature drops.
    Clouds (partially) block (and scatter) the colimated beam of sunlight; yielding a penumbral edged shadow of the cloud due to the half degree source size of the sun. BUT !!
    The outgoing LWIR emissions from the surface, are virtually isotropic; and certainly at least Lambertian, so the cloud, can at best, intercept a small fraction of that diffuse outgoing LWIR radiation; it’s simple geometrical Optics.

    Water vapor, and clouds (CO2 as well) intercept INCOMING SUNLIGHT, in the red, and NIR solar spectral region; which blocks that from the surface reducing the ground level solar insolation (most of which goes deep into the tropical oceans.) More water vapor and clouds (or CO2) blocks more sunlight from reaching the ground.

    Sure the captured incoming solar spectrum energy, warms the atmosphere and becomes thermalized; but the Atmospheric LWIR emission that results, is isotropic, and only half of it, can reach the ground; so there is a net energy loss to the surface of incoming solar energy, due to water vapor and clouds (and CO2). And I have argued that because the atmosphere gets colder and less dense with increasing altitude; the GHG absorption line broadening decreases with altitude for both pressure broadening, and Doppler (Temperature) broadening ; so the escape route to space, is favored over the return path to the surface.
    The LWIR from the atmosphere to the surface, is mostly absorbed in the top 10-50 microns of the tropical oicean surface, leading to increased prompt evaporation, so much of that energy is quickly returned to the upper atmopshere with more water vapor.

    And finally; the high altitude whispy cloud layers were caused by the earlier warm Temperature and humidity conditions at the surface; they were not the CAUSE of those warmer surface conditions.

    Clouds ALWAYS reduce the amount of incoming solar energy that earth captures; no mater what sort of loud or where it occurs anywhere on earth.

    Whatever else clouds may do; vis a vis the interception of surface emitted LWIR; they ALWAYS reduce the total energy received by the earth surface from the sun.

    I can find no credible mechanism for a postive feedback warming caused by clouds.

    As I say, I have some ideas; but I do not know, what causes the amount of clouds to change; but I do know that more clouds cannot make more solar energy get stored in the earth’s surface storage; mainly the deep oceans.

    So you and Professor Christy, are on the right path Dr Roy, and sooner or later the PRJ process, is going to make that apparent to all without blinders on.

    George E. Smith

    And Remember Wentz et al SCIENCE for July-7 2007; “How much more Rain Will global Warming Bring ?” (along with more clouds, to shut that warming down.)

  28. Noblesse Oblige says:

    Concur with your decision to stay focused on the research and avoid low level distractions. No matter what you do or don’t do, the advocacy blogs will say that the work “has been discredited.” Time and energy is best spent on the work and communicating with serious people.

  29. On one hand I am pleased to learn that you are devoting all the time you can spare to responding to peer-reviewed and published criticism of your work.

    On the other hand I am sorry it has to be instead of responding to blog posts. Let’s hope the; “But for now” bit is to be a very short one.

    I haven’t read much from this Barry Bickmore fellow other than what I have just read tonight. (I looked up his ‘Spencer attack part 2′ after first having read your article above)
    He seems to be a firm believer in the idea that CO2 is behind any “Global Warming”(GW) that may be happening from time to time. Especially, or on this occasion, he seems to think that after an “Ice Age” a small warming starts resulting in CO2 being released from the oceans. This CO2 then takes over from the Sun and further warms the world.

    He does however neglect to tell us why, in the past – the earth always cools off again enough to revert to another “Ice Age” just as the CO2 concentration has reached its maximum, say 280 to 300 parts per million (ppm).

    If he doesn’t like your book, that’s sad, you can’t please them all. But if he thinks it’s a problem then that’s his problem. After all you are not telling him, or anybody else, believe what I write – or else you will be set ablaze! – That’s somebody else’s line.

    What I think must be a big problem to anyone trying to work out what is what when it comes to GW is that it seems like everyone operate with continues sunshine. – As you well know, Kiehl & Trenberth (K&T) 1997 operate with an incoming solar radiation of 342 W/m², therefore anyone using that number is using a sunshine bias. I do not think anybody will claim that warming from CO2 can happen unless the Sun is out. Yes, GHGs may, according to some, keep heat in during night time. But the actual warming must happen during day-time hours.

    Even you yourself Dr. Spencer say in ‘Comments on Miskolczi’s (2010) Controversial Greenhouse Theory’ on August 5th, 2010:
    “To illustrate how tiny these IR imbalances in nature are, let’s examine what happens when we look at IR absorption and emission in 1 meter thick atmospheric layers, as Miskolczi presents in his Fig. 3.

    The heat capacity of air is somewhat over 1,000 Joules per kilogram per degree C, which means it takes 1,000 Joules of energy to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of air by 1 deg. C.

    Conveniently, in the lower atmosphere 1 kg of air corresponds to about 1 cubic meter (1 m3) of air. So, for a 1 meter thick layer of air, 1,000 Watts per sq. meter (W m-2) heating applied for 1 sec would raise the temperature by 1 deg. C.

    Or, since there are 86,000 seconds in a day, it would take (1000/86,000) = 0.01 Watts per sq. meter to get 1 deg. C per day warming rate.”

    With all due respect, I don’t think so Dr. Spencer, I think that during those 86 000 (86 400) seconds that 1 kg of air would have warmed for twelve hours and then cooled for the next twelve.

    One question therefore must be: By how much does that particular1 kg of air cool at night?

    I may, of course be wrong, but it seems logical to me.

  30. Justin says:

    Since the media is a powerful medium in exerting criticisms towards any works such as what you have detailed. In the world where there are uncertainties, we have to take into consideration what others will say about our work. These can be foresee as constructive criticisms. Global warming issues have brought miles and miles of topics that have made this issue a global fad. But as we experienced it, changes in the climate as well as the atmosphere is drastically feasible.

    Temperature Data Loggers

  31. Tom says:

    As a practicing earth scientist, I seldom bother reading Nature or Science. Most of the literature that matters is published in the journals of the specialist technical societies. Why not go with JGR? Or, for that matter, Geology?

  32. Alexandre says:

    Way to go, Dr. Spencer.

    I predict one day (hopefully within this next decade) the general public will appreciate your work as much as the cientific community does.

  33. What will matter in the end is who is right and who is wrong. I don’t care how much effort ,work we may do ,if it is not right ,it won’t matter.

    We know the man made global warming theory is wrong,and has been proven to be wrong, because everything the models have said has not happened.

    Models said, a more +AO, not happening.

    Models said,Australian drought. lol

    Models said. continously warmer temperatures. Temp. have leveled off for 8 years or so.

    Models said, more El Ninos and warm PDO. Well PDO is now cold, and we have been in the La Nina state, for at least 6 months and this should be the dominate mode of the SOI oscillation,as well as the PDO being mostly in the cold phase,going forward.

    Models said a hot spot would form in the lowerr troposhere near the equator ,that has not happened.

    Anotherwords, the models have proven one thing ,and that is they can’t forecast thee atmospheric circulation correctly,therefore it follows, they also cannot forecast the future climate correctly. That in a normal world, would put the man made global warming theory to rest,which is where it belongs.

    My theory is a 1000 times better then the global warming co2 theory , and as I have said this will be the decade of cooling and high geoloical activity ,with a prolong solar minimum, which are all tied into one another ,and which will all result in global temperatures going down this decade.

    I will put my theory up against any theory out there. I am confident that I am correct, reason being past history lends much support ,something modern day climatologist ignore.

    Dr. Spencer, does agree with me in part, but he does not seem to regonize the important contributions from a prolong solar minimum and the associated increase in geological activity ,or the -AO atmospheric circulation, but that is fine. He agrees on the other aspects, I have mentioned,and time will tell how it all plays out. I expect by 2014 at the latest the answers will be known.

  34. RW says:

    Can anyone explain how the ‘consensus’ climate science community can get away with claiming that CO2′s radiative forcing is over 5 times as powerful as the radiative forcing from the Sun? I don’t see how they can get away with this.

    I also don’t see how they can get away with claiming all the additional 3.7 W/m^2 absorbed by the atmosphere from 2xCO2 will affect the surface. If the total transmittance of surface emitted radiation is reduced by 3.7 W/m^2, the atmosphere absorbs and re-emits this in all directions, with half going up and half going down. Trenberth, et. al. actually has greater than half going up (169 W/m^2 up and 157 W/m^2 down). This makes the ‘intrinsic’ response of 2xCO2 only about 0.5 C instead of 1 C.

  35. John Christensen (John C) says:

    And I have this quote from Times today, in 10 Questions for Lisa Jackson (head of the EPA):

    “Why should the EPA be regulating carbon?”

    “Because it’s the law. The Clean Air Act and Supreme Court cases have said the EPA must determine whether greenhouse gases endanger public health. We have determined, based on multiple lines of scientific evidence, that they do.”

    What a marvelous combination of words in that response, making absolutely no sense on several levels. Dr Spencer; you have to keep it up.

    And what’s up with the delay on the global average temp for March?? ;-)

  36. Alexandre says:


    The sun’s irradiance is about 1365 W/m2, which is incombarably larger than the ~3W/m2 from GHG.

    But the point is, the sun’s irradiance has not varied significantly since sattellites started measuring it in the 70s. If you consider paloeclimatic reconstruction from earlier periods, you still get the result that its variance has been smaller than GHG forcing.

  37. Christopher Game says:

    Dr Spencer writes: “But we now have clear evidence that El Nino and La Nina temperature variations are indeed caused in large measure by changes in clouds”. I want him instead to write: “But we now have clear evidence that El Nino and La Nina temperature variations are indeed mediated in large measure by changes in clouds”. I think that the word “caused” is not the best word to express his meaning here, and indeed has the potential to be confusing. Use instead of the word ‘mediated’ would pull the rug from under Andy Dessler’s feet and would make Dr Spencer’s meaning clearer.

    I am very glad to read this statement by Dr Spencer just quoted. If it is established, it is the long awaited death knell for the IPCC doctrines.

  38. Barry Bickmore, your thoughts are obsolete, the global warming due to CO2 is BS ,end of story.

    Just look at what the La Nina has done to the temperatures ,just one of the natural cornerstones ,I say control earth’s climatic system. Co2, has zero,zero effect on temperatures. Temperatures have shown once again during this past year that they are governed by the recent La Nina and cold PDO ,that have hit the scene. CO2 has proven once again to be a non player.

    This decade is the decade of global cooling. You and Dr. no nothing Dessler, will be history before this decade is out.

  39. Bickmore ,the models you think are correct, have garbage data put into them, and they give out garbage results.

  40. Salvatore,

    I think Dr. Spencer would disagree with you.

  41. I think Piers Corbyn and Joe D’ Aleo would agree with me.

  42. The models are wrong, and I listed just a few of the over 30 items they have predicted dead wrong. What does it take??

    They have the atmospheric circulation completly wrong,therefore it follows, and is being shown, that they have the climate forecast wrong.

    In any event, we can argue forever, time will tell, who is right, and who is wrong.

  43. Barry I posted on Dr. Spencer’s website today, under March temperature data.

    I would love to have you prove that everything I said,in my post was wrong. It would be good, just for the record.
    Then we can see, who is right, and who is wrong,in a few years time.

  44. Salvatore,

    Your supposed “predictions” are often nonsense. For instance, standard climate models do NOT predict monotonically increasing temperature. They predict temperatures will go up and down over a few years time, but mostly up if you average over a long enough time period. Since weather patterns are chaotic, models can’t be very good at predicting exactly when those ups and downs that last only a few years will occur.

    Everyone who does modeling knows that models are always oversimplified, and so they can’t be good at predicting everything. The question is how good they are at predicting what they were designed to be good at. This is why Roy Spencer used a simple, “zero dimensional” climate model for his analyses. He understood that it couldn’t be good at mimicking every aspect of the climate system, but it might be ok for some of them.

  45. RW says:

    Alexander says:


    The sun’s irradiance is about 1365 W/m2, which is incombarably larger than the ~3W/m2 from GHG.

    But the point is, the sun’s irradiance has not varied significantly since sattellites started measuring it in the 70s. If you consider paloeclimatic reconstruction from earlier periods, you still get the result that its variance has been smaller than GHG forcing.”

    The global average incident solar irradiance is only about 341 W/m^2. The globally averaged post albedo irradiance is only about 239 W/m^2. The 239 W/m^2 is the incident energy in the system that radiatively ‘forces’ the surface. The 239 W/m^2 from the Sun only becomes about 390 W/m^2 at the surface. The theory of a 3 C rise is that an additional 1.85 W/m^2 from 2xCO2 radiatively ‘forces’ the surface and becomes 16.6 W/m^2. This amount of amplification is greater than 5 times as much as the post albedo energy arriving at the surface from the Sun (390/239 = 1.6; 16.6/1.85 = 9; 9/1.6 = 5.6)

    Let’s also not forget that the post albedo incident energy fluctuates throughout the year as the albedo varies, yet no where near an amplification of 9 occurs as the incident energy increases. So what’s another measly couple of watts at the surface from 2xCO2? For what physical or logical reason would couple extra watts at the surface behave in some radically different, more powerful way than the original 239 from the Sun? Let’s not forget also, that some of the 239 W/m^2 incident is absorbed by the atmosphere (clouds) and emitted to the surface as LW infrared. So again, what’s another couple watts?

  46. RW says:


    Elaborating further, if the surface emits 390 W/m^2, 239 W/m^2 of it has to come from the Sun because the atmosphere cannot create any energy of its own. Using Trenberth’s total transmittance of 70 W/m^2 (40 W/m^2 through the clear sky, 30 W/m^2 through the cloudy sky), the remaining 155 W/m^2 has to come from ‘back radiation’ from the atmosphere (390 – 70 = 320; 320 – 165 emitted up = 155 W/m^2 emitted down). If CO2 is doubled, total transmittance is reduced by 3.7 W/m^2 to 66.3 W/m^2 and the atmosphere will absorb and re-emit this with half going up and half going down, resulting in an net reduction or imbalance at the top of the atmosphere of 1.85 W/m^2 (237.15 leaving vs. 239 arriving) The surface receives an additional 1.85 W/m^2. If the 1.85 W/m^2 falls within the same system boundaries as the 239 arriving from the Sun, it will be amplified by a factor of about 1.6 (390/240 = 1.6), as this is an approximate measurement of the surface response to ‘forcing’ from any source, regardless of where the incident energy last originated from. 1.85 W/m^2 x 1.6 = 3 W/m^2 to allow an additional 1.85 W/m^2 to leave the system to restore equilibrium (239 W/m^2 in and out). The new surface emitted radiation would be 393 W/m^2 (390 W/m^2 + 3 W/m^2), which corresponds to about a 0.6 C rise in temperature.

    There is slight increase in the system gain or amplification factor from the additional 3.7 captured by the atmosphere, but it’s only about 1 % and is insignificant (390/239 = 1.6318; 393/239 = 1.6444). Most importantly, it is still no where near the 9 needed. If the response is only about 3 W/m^2 at the surface, where is the additional 13+ W/m^2 coming from needed for the 3 C rise? Since the atmosphere cannot create any energy of it’s own, this can only come from a reduced albedo. However, there has been no decrease in the albedo over the last 30 years and if anything a slight increase. This begs a simple question: Where is all the energy coming from that is supposed to be causing the warming?

  47. RW says:

    I don’t understand how the climate science community can get away with these kinds of elementary contradictions. I certainly agree that the physics does support some effect, but the amount of warming predicted by the IPCC models is not just outside the system’s boundaries, it’s WAY, WAY outside the boundaries. Specifically, this amplification factor of 9, which as far as I know is not evident in any data set.

  48. Barry , i am so glad you said that, so I can tell you in a few years I told you so.

    Barry, you knowledge of earth’s climatic system is sub zero. You have no clue ,as to what makes earth’s climatic sytem work or why.

    The blind leading the blind.

  49. Barry , you are so cluelsss ,living in a dreamworld. Your models have been prven wrong period.


    My theory is 1000′s of times better then what you think, and I have past history and many notables to back up my thoughts. It is based on the chaotic,radomness of earth’s climatic system and the items that really effect it! Then again you are a global warmer ,what could we expect. Just the usual BS spin.

    My last comment to you is, your man made global warming co2 theory is on it’s last legs. I wasted enough time with you.

  50. Barry,you are taken in on this issue, but that is okay, because time will tell once and for all who is correct and who is not correct. I have many notables that agree with where I am coming from, and of course many that don’t agree ,but that is fine.

    I have past history on my side also,which your side frankly does not have because the warming that took place last century, was nothing that had not ocurred before in earth’s past history . Infact it was a mild warming, compared to previous warm up’s in earth’s past, it is not a one time event.

    Barry, the models to the letter have all predicted the atmospheric circulation wrong. Infact Joe D’ Aleo ,has shown over 30 items that the models have failed to predict. One of the biggest being the more -AO oscillation versus the more + AO.

    Barry, I have emails in contrast going back a few years ago, that said if solar activity enters a prolong minimum state ,and high latitude volcanic activity increases, the atmospheric circulation can be expected to show much blocking and tend toward a more -AO. Which is exactly what has happened. I have emails to back up, what I said ,and when I said it. Unlike yourside, that keeps changing their story to make it try to fit with the global man made warming hoax ,even when things that are happening are the exact oppposite ,of what was predicted as recently as 5 years ago by your side.

    Your side predicted as an example, a more zonal,mild winter regime for the N.H, it has been the exact opposite for the past 3 years, and I have news for you,it is going to be continuing, for the rest of this decade.

    The temperature trend for the past 8 years and especially now ,are showing that the co2 man made global warming theory is very weak, if it were not weak temperatures would still be rising as is called for ,for this theory. Your theory boxes you in on this issue because it states as CO2 concentrations increase, the temperature will go up on average. All the increase or most of it has been wiped out over the past few months.

    Barry, also you answer your own question as to why your models are not good. Reason being the chaotic,radomness of earth’s climatic system. They can’t do it,and never will be able to do it.

    Not to mention they put no solar data into the models ,or geological activity ,which just makes their predictions even worse.

    How you can say solar,volcanic ,oceanic cycles ,atmospheric cycels and how they phase in,and the duration and magnitude of the phase in is nonsence is beyond me.

    I had to send this last reply. Take Care. Nothing personal, good luck in your climate studies.

  51. Jack Cowper says:

    Thank you Dr Spencer.

    I think you are right to ignore the likes of Bickmore et all. please keep up the good work, I find your blog fascinating. Just let real world keep agreeing with your work.

    Thank you again.


  52. Bickmore is to be ignored. His knowledge of earth’s climatic sytem is zero. He shows it eachand every time he post.

  53. Otter says:

    *applauds* Very well put! You gave bickmore exactly what he asked for- which is far more than he gave Dr. Spencer.

    It has been two days since your post, one wonders WHEN he will respond…. oh wait! He IGNORED you.


  54. That is what they always do ,they never really respond ,because they are nothing more then BS spinners. When confronted with thoughts ,that don’t agree with them and are a threat to them, they will either ignore, or answer in a vague sort of way, but never present factual data, to back up their ridiculous claims.

    Bickmore, being a great example ,along with Dr. Dessler. Dr. Dessler never took me up, on all the challenges I made to him ,about what really effects earth’s climatic system. Typical.

  55. AusieDan says:

    Dr Spencer
    Your work is vital to an important part of the science of how the climate operates.
    We all have our views about climate.
    These are not important.

    Finding the truth of the matter is vital.
    Your work is important to that.
    Please do not be downhearted.
    Please keep striving towards the truth.

  56. RW says:

    Dr. Roy,

    You say:

    “And without going into detail, I will say it now appears that this is not the only major problem with Dessler’s diagnosis of positive cloud feedback from the data he presented. Since we will also be submitting this evidence to Science, and they are very picky about the newsworthiness of their articles, I cannot provide any details.”

    Has Andy Dessler been called upon to explain how even Trenberth et al 2009 shows that incremental clouds reflect more energy away than they trap? Given that the albedo has not been decreasing, and if anything has even increased slightly, this is completely inconsistent with clouds operating as a net positive feedback.

    Here are the numbers on how much incrementally more clouds reflect, according to Trenberth et al 2009:

    ISCCP data says clouds cover about 2/3rds of the surface, so 341 W/m^2 x 0.67 = 228 W/m^2 average incident on the clouds. 79 W/m^2 divided by 228 W/m^2 = 0.34 average reflectivity of clouds. 1/3rd of the surface is cloudless, so 341 W/m^2 x 0.33 = 113 W/m^2 average incident on the cloudless surface. 23 W/m^2 divided by 113 W/m^2 = 0.20 average reflectivity of the cloudless surface. 0.34 – 0.20 = 0.14. 341 W/m^2 x 0.14 = 48 W/m^2 loss for each additional m^2 of cloud cover.

    Here are the numbers on how much incrementally more clouds trap (again using Trenberth’s numbers):

    The cloudy sky has a transmittance of 30 W/m^2, and the surface emitted through the cloudy sky is about 265 W/m^2 (396 x 0.67 = 265). 265 W/m^2 – 30 W/m^2 = 235 W/m^2 absorbed by the cloudy sky. The clear sky has a transmittance of 40 W/m^2, and the surface emitted through the clear sky is 131 W/m^2 (396 x 0.33 = 131). 131 W/m^2 – 40 W/m^2 = 91 W/m^2 absorbed by the clear sky. 91 W/m^2 divided by 131 W/m^2 = 0.69; 235 W/m^2 divided by 265 W/m^2 = 0.89. 0.89 – 0.69 = 0.20 difference between the cloudy and clear sky. 0.20 x 396 W/m^2 = 79 W/m^2 additional absorbed for each additional m^2 of cloud cover. If we assume that roughly half of the absorption and re-emission is back toward the surface (Trenberth actually has this being less than half), that comes to about 39 W/m^2, or about 10 W/m^2 less than the 48 W/m^2 reflected away.

    *I have backed check my calculations by assuming that if half of the absorption is directed up out to space, then the weighted average totals should correspond to a temperature of about 255K. 0.69/2 (absorbed clear sky) + 0.31 passing through the clear sky = 0.66 and 0.89/2 (absorbed cloudy sky) + 0.11 passing through the cloudy sky = 0.55; 0.66 x 0.33 (clear sky) = 0.22 and 0.55 x 0.67 (cloudy sky) = 0.37; 0.22 + 0.37 = 0.59 emitted to space from the surface; 396 W/m^2 x 0.59 = 234 W/m^2 (about 254K), which is pretty close.

    *The missing 5 W/m^2 is probably due to Trenberth having greater than 50% of the atmospheric absorption being emitted up out to space.

  57. RW says:

    Dr. Roy,

    You said:

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

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

    I’ve read Dessler’s paper, and frankly I’m not sure I really understand it, but isn’t he claiming that clouds are trapping more energy as the surface warms causing the surface to warm further? If yes, is he claiming that clouds are changing in a way that results in them trapping more surface energy? If also yes, how has he rectified this with all the data (i.e. how has he shown the additional energy incremental clouds trap is greater than the incremental energy they reflect away)???

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding his analysis, but it doesn’t appear to me he is claiming positive feedback via less clouds letting in more sunlight. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  58. RW says:

    On page three of his paper, Dessler writes:

    “Because I have defined downward flux as positive, the positive slope here means that, as the surface warms,
    clouds trap additional energy; in other words, the
    cloud feedback here is positive.”

    This is the main source of my confusion as to exactly how he’s claiming the clouds are causing the positive feedback.

  59. RW says:

    Dr. Roy,

    I see also in the paper Dessler claims the net effect of clouds is to cool by 20 W/m^2, which is what I don’t understand. He seems to be showing evidence that as the climate warms, clouds trap additional energy (The TOA flux is reduced), but this is the LW TOA flux, right?

    Is this basis of his claim?

  60. lili says:

    Dr. Spencer, thanks for all the efforts. I find however, the global temp part of your site the most useful and significant, or as a scientist would say: necessary and sufficient. I would think it a mistake to try to explain the whole climate as an answer to such a simplistic theory as AGW. For all “our” understanding of climate and weather, “we” still dont and probably will not understand it completely for a prolonged period of time.
    While learning about climate may be interesting or useful, although not for the majority of people including me, who are unable to understand it, to refute the co2->warming is a question of simple elementary logic.

    Their “evidence” is non-existent, and theory contradicts facts. We are at “record” co2 and there is no warming for more than a decade. If previous warming was indeed caused by much smaller levels of c02, we would now have even more warming.

    if there is a causation between co2 levels and global temp. there cold basically be 3 options-linear, log, or exp. in which case the only one that is plausible is logarithmic. The other 2 dont stand a chance. irrespective of the postulated “time delay” which only destroys the case further.

    Furthermore, if co2 was significantly trapping heat radiation, we would expect the temp. drops to be milder, not sharper.

    All of this may not be completely “scientific”, but goes to show that the AGW theory was never a serious theory in the first place.

    the new theory of deep ocean trapped heat obviously doesnt hold water either.

    The point being that the “skeptics” were the only thing trapped into seriously proving a falsehood of the established “truth” instead of just pointing out that their theory doesnt correspond to the very same facts upon which they claim to have “proved it” in the first place.

    Anyhow, keep up the good work.

  61. Dear Dr Spencer
    In your latest book you refer in chapter 2 to a 2004 article by Carl Wunsch suggesting that Milankovitch cycles have no more than a chance association with ice ages. You later suggest towards the end of your book that it is therefore reasonable to suspect that the ice ages and interglacial periods of warmth were caused by some as yet undiscovered forcing mechanism. But, the Wunsch article was followed by another, by himself and Huybers, in Nature in 2005 noting that “the ice sheets terminated every second or third obliquity cycle at times of high obliquity, similar to the original proposal by Milankovitch”. Similarly, a compelling defense of the Milankovitch hypothesis that related ice ages to Earth’s orbital and axial properties was published in 2006 in Geophysical Research Letters by Gerard Roe. In my opinion then it is quite wrong of you to reject these later works in favour of an earlier paper by Wunsch that he later rejected. Using your own thesis that it only takes one significant hole in an hypothesis for it to be shown to be flawed, your own hypothesis about the significance of the ice ages must therefore be flawed. That in turn means that your attempt to demolish the work of Hansen, which did use Milankovitch data to make a stab at climate sensitivity, is also flawed.
    Yours truly
    Colin Summerhayes
    Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge University

  62. lili says:

    you see, Dr. Spencer, just like Mr. Collin S. does. He is not trying to explain, just to refute. And quite badly at that.

    What Mr. Summerhayes is implying is that if you are wrong, Hansen is right->AGW is happening and we are all going to fry. Which does not follow.

    Not to mention that AGW, according to Popper, does not qualify as a “scientific” theory.

    Even its “explanatory power” is rather weak. Not that it matters much with all the marketing/brainwashing campaigns.

    So we are back at the starting point, demolish the histeric argument, and the “weather” will do the rest.

  63. Science progresses by the development and testing of hypotheses. Dr Spencer uses sets of hypotheses to support his particular view of what controls global warming. As a scientist he must therefore welcome the efforts of other scientists to show whether he is right or wrong by testing his hypotheses. Dr Spencer has proposed in his latest book to accept an hypothesis proposed by Wunsch that Milankovitch cycles have a no more than 50% chance of being associated with ice ages. This rather critical to the support of his own hypothesis about global warming, because he used that acceptance to reject another hypothesis – that of Hansen – that ice ages being controlled by Milankovitch cycles can tell us something about climate sensitivity. Knocking Hansen’s hypothesis down is essential to building Spencer’s hypothesis up. It now turns out that Wunsch subsequently retracted his 2004 anti-Milankovitch hypothesis. That puts Dr Spencer in a tricky position as a bona fide scientist, in that it means he no longer can use that 2004 Wunsch paper as the basis for rejecting Hansen’s hypothesis. This is how science works. It means that if Dr Spencer wants to attack Hansen’s hypothesis that the ice ages can be used to tell us about climate sensitivity, he must find another way to do it. Perhaps that difficulty explains why he has not yet responded to my blog comment. I have no doubt that as a bona fide scientist he must be thinking about this.
    Colin Summerhayes, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge University

  64. A further comment on Wunsch and Milankovitch. What Wunsch is now saying is that only for the orbital band (40,000 year cyclicity) does he find significant evidence for an effect on climate, and that only minor. However, he does NOT dispute the temperature measurements showing glacial and interglacial change. It is THOSE measurements that Hansen uses to derive climate sensitivity, and so for Dr Spencer to use Wunsch’s 2004 paper to dispute Hansen’s methodology is just plan wrong. All Wunsch is doing is saying that there are other CAUSES for the cycles in temperature, NOT that the measurements are wrong.