The Danger of Hanging Your Hat on No Future Warming

October 11th, 2013 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

I’m far from a political moderate, but I’ve been tagged as a “lukewarmer” in the climate wars. That’s because, at least from a theoretical perspective, it’s hard (but not impossible) for me to imagine that increasing CO2 won’t cause some level of warming.

I would remind folks that the NASA AIRS instrument on the Aqua satellite has actually measured the small decrease in IR emission in the infrared bands affected by CO2 absorption, which they use to “retrieve” CO2 concentration from the data. Less energy leaving the climate system means warming under almost any scenario you can think of. Conservation of energy, folks. It’s the law.

But I’ve been troubled for quite a while by those “skeptics” (you know who you are) who are forecasting cooling in our future. Not that it couldn’t happen, but are you ready to be “debunked” when we see continued slow warming?

The debate will then be about how the skeptics who predicted cooling were wrong. Warming continues. The IPCC was right. There is obvious danger in that becoming the narrative.

Some of us have been trying to explain that there is a big difference between weak (or even modest) warming, and catastrophic warming. The former is probably beneficial, especially when you factor in the benefits of more CO2 on photosynthesis. I was taught this lesson by Pat Michaels who, after my talk at a Heartland conference, correctly rebuked me for publicly implying that modest warming would be evidence the IPCC was correct and we skeptics were wrong.

Pat was right. Some level of warming can probably be expected, but just how much makes a huge difference. Lindzen and I and a few other researchers in the field think the IPCC models are simply too sensitive, due to positive feedbacks that are either too strong, or even have the wrong sign. But we still believe more CO2 should cause some level of warming.

If the current lack of warming really is due to a natural cooling influence temporarily canceling out CO2-induced warming, what happens when that cooling influence goes away? We are going to see rather rapid warming return…but nowhere near the levels of warming predicted by most of the IPCC climate models.

It’s fascinating to me that the predictions we see in the media are almost bimodal…either catastrophic warming, or another ice age. Of course, the news cycle enjoys predictions of catastrophe (see the Time magazine covers, above).

But sometimes it seems like we global warming moderates are getting drowned out by the extremists.

(And for those who are ready to snark me for my “extremist” political views, I will only say that it’s a sad day when supporting the U.S. Constitution is viewed as “extremist”.)

195 Responses to “The Danger of Hanging Your Hat on No Future Warming”

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  1. Stevek says:

    Conservatives should say we don’t fully know sensitivity of climate to c02.

    Then say that since we can’t control china and India emissions we need a back up plan in case sensitivity is too high. Then start investing modest amount of money in building geo engineering plan. It will not be used but will be ready if necessary. Heck just drawing up blueprints helps and prototypes so we can do it far if needed.

    This is political winner bc then conservatives come across as practical.

    Sensitivity will all come down to water vapor, convection, clouds. We should know sensitivity simply by finding period where atmosphere same as today roughly but when sun forcing was higher. Then look at temperature record for that period. Then sensitivity coefficient can be solved for.

    • John K says:

      Hi Stevek,

      You stated:

      “Then start investing modest amount of money in building geo engineering plan. It will not be used but will be ready if necessary…”

      This reminds me of the last time the earth faced climate change that lead to MASS EXTINCTION during what many now label as the ICE AGE. Millions of mammoths and mastadons, untold numbers of woolly rhinoceros, wolves, vegetation (much of it tropical) and many more plant and animal remains became frozen in what we today call PERMAFROST. The permafrost regions (near the earth’s poles) of the world are far too cold to support such life now since we as a planet still suffer what can only be described as late ice age conditions. Nevertheless, politicians and the extremely gullible clamor to be saved from GLOBAL WARMING for which the evidence indicates should lead to more abundance of life on earth and better conditions. Last I checked no evidence exists of MASS EXTINCTION due to HEAT STROKE.

      However, in the spirit of preparation you nevertheless apparently want to begin unspecified large scale geo-engineering projects or at least draw up blue-prints to do exactly what? Remove plant food from the atmosphere? Cover the earth’s atmosphere in a haze of aerosols and/or particulate matter to block out the sun? What is the endgame? Do you wish to return average planetary temperatures to some level not seen since even colder deadlier conditions of the ICE AGE we still suffer from now?

      Thank you for an interesting post. I hope you’ve thought this through. Have a great day?

      • stevek says:

        I definitively would not put the plans into play unless this warming caused massive problems like 50 foot rise in sea level. It would be an insurance policy so to speak. Hopefully it would calm the fears of the people, because the IPCC and media and likes of Al Gore are going around making people feel like earth will become venus.

        • AndyG55 says:

          “I definitively would not put the plans into play unless this warming caused massive problems ”

          Maybe you wouldn’t, but there plenty of loonies out there who would put such plans into effect even if there was strong evidence of global cooling !!!

  2. Jim Cripwell says:

    Beenstock et al have shown that there no CO2 signal in any modern temperature/time graph. Mora et al have shown the same thing. No-one has ever measure a CO2 signal in the same data. Surely by standard signal to moise ratio physics we should conclude that the climate sensitivity, however defined, is Indistinguishable from zero.

    • well, it’s true there is no reliable fingerprint of CO2-induced warming. It can’t be distinguished from warming due to other causes. I don’t know whether the IPCC fingerprint proponents are being dishonest or just plain lazy/stupid.

    • MikeN says:

      Not true. They found an effect from the acceleration of CO2.

      If climate scientists had any skill, they could see that this is a nice backup plan. It is clear that the Chinese and Indians and other countries are going to make cap and trade and other policies pointless. The developing world already has 605 of emissions and growing. However, if now the planet’s temperature is based on keeping CO2 levels steady rather than a 80-90% cut, then Europe and America can cut emissions to balance out gains in the rest of the world.

      • bev says:

        MikeN says:

        “…Europe and America can cut emissions to balance out gains in the rest of the world.”

        In 2012 compared to 2011, America burned 40 million tons
        less of coal, while China burned 67 million more.

        So, that is working out well!

  3. Christopher Game says:

    It is easy to see that Dr Spencer is right to say that there is a likely contributory warming factor in added CO2. How much added CO2 and how much warming is much harder to say. Dr Spencer warns against expressing the idea that changes in the sun might in the shorter term lead to temporary cooling, because such expression would expose one to the risk of being shown mistaken if the temporary cooling did not eventuate. On the other hand, it would be a pity not to think about the risk of cold weather, which can be very harmful.

    It seems we have some time to think and learn about the climate, and about possible future energy technology, so as to get a better viewpoint than we now have, before acting on the basis of a climate theory.

  4. Ben Wouters says:

    The odds are very much on the cooling side.
    The last 85 million years the deep oceans have cooled ~17K
    If the deep oceans don’t start warming up a few degrees we’re stuck in a period of ice ages and the next one can hit us any time.
    Maybe after the deep oceans warm some 2 or 3 degrees to begin with we can consider ourselves out of the immediate danger zone.

    • so…is that a prediction I hear? For, say, the next 50 years? or 100 years?

      I don’t see the relevance to humans of what might have happened over the last 85 million years, if we even know that.

      Or the last 8.5 million years.

      Or 850,000,000 years.

      Or 85,000 years.

      Or 8,500 years.

      MAYBE what has happened over the last 850 years might have some relevance.

      • Ben Wouters says:

        Unless a major mantle plume eruption is going on in the present time we are still in a cooling trend since the last big one: Ontong Java plateau, depositing some 100 million km^3 hot magma into the deep oceans. Conservative estimate gives an ~18K temperature rise from this eruption alone.
        Irrelevant? Since it takes the deep oceans ~2 million years to cool just 1K, these eruptions in the distant past are very relevant.

      • Stephen Paul King says:

        Dr. Spenser,

        What is the average duration of previous warming periods (that we have some decent evidence of)?

  5. Jerry Lee Davis says:

    Dr. Roy

    For a while now I’ve been itching to ask an expert a question, and this seems like a good moment to do it.

    Background first: As commonly understood, one of the central facets of CO2 warming theory is that an atmospheric CO2 molecule can absorb an outgoing IR photon, and subsequently emit another IR photon in an arbitrary direction. The original outgoing photon was engaged in cooling the earth by trying to carry some of the earth’s energy into outer space, but was impeded in that task when intercepted by the CO2 molecule.

    My question has to do with the emission of energy (a photon) by the CO2 molecule. All accounts of CO2 warming theory that I have seen assume that the emission is spontaneous, and therefore in an arbitrary direction.

    However, in some realms photon emission can also be stimulated (the “S” in LASER). Photons emitted through stimulated emission travel in the same direction that the arriving photon is traveling when it comes nearby and provides the stimulation.

    Can an atmospheric CO2 molecule that has absorbed an originally outgoing IR photon be stimulated to emit its absorbed energy by another such photon? If so, both photons proceed in an outgoing direction unimpeded in their cooling efforts (unless and until they encounter other CO2 molecules).

    It seems to me that if some fraction of atmospheric CO2 molecules get rid of their absorbed energy via stimulated emission rather than spontaneous emission, then it would follow that the CO2 would be less of an impediment to IR cooling.

    Any thoughts?

    • RW says:


      It’s thought that the GHE gas molecules of the atmosphere are mostly in LTE (local thermodynamic equilibrium) with the other gas molecules of the atmosphere (N2 and O2), and the probability of stimulated emission upon absorption is quite low. How this is apparently thought to be so definitively established I don’t fully understand.

    • If you read up on this stuff (and I’m not an expert), you will find that the rate of collision between air molecules (during which they can transfer thermal energy) is much, much faster than the average time it takes for a CO2 molecule that has “absorbed” an IR photon to re-emit that “extra” energy. I don’t know whether that helps to answer your question or not.

      In any event, wondering what happens on a molecular level to photons doesn’t change the fact that CO2 (and water vapor, methane, etc.) is observed from satellite instruments to reduce the rate of IR cooling of the Earth, mainly because the greater the rate of absorption/emission, the higher (and thus colder) the effective altitude the outgoing IR originates from. (If the atmosphere was isothermal with height, adding CO2 would make no difference).

      THAT is what matters, no matter what is happening on a molecular level.

      • Bob says:

        Dr.Spencer, a thought experiment that is not new, but I would like to hear your perspective. What would temps be if you could magically remove all 400ppm CO2, every thing else being identical to current conditions. I mean everything, solar, oceans, all non-condensing GHGs, H2O,land use, etc.

        • RW says:

          My goodness. That’s an enormously difficult and virtually impossible question to answer.

        • We’ve run that case in a 1D radiative-convective model, and I think others have as well. The result is quite a large temperature drop, but I can’t recall by how much. (This assumes a constant relative humidity, which means decreasing water vapor content as the temperature falls. If you try to maintain constant absolute humidity, the atmosphere saturates with cooling and now your assumption of constant cloud cover no longer makes physical sense).

          But reducing CO2 by 400 ppm causes a MUCH bigger temperature change than increasing it by 400 ppm, because the atmosphere today is already mostly opaque to IR transfer from the first 400 ppm of CO2.

          • M Hastings says:

            Does the atmosphere have a memory? Meaning is it possible it already knows how to handle more CO2 from learning how to in the past?

      • RW says:

        Agreed, but let’s no forget that the energy of absorbed upwelling photons is re-radiated both up and down, and that the atmosphere as a whole both acts to warm and cool, where as incoming solar energy only acts to warm.

    • alphagruis says:

      If a CO2 molecule absorbs and then reemits a photon in a stimulated mode this indeed does not impede the relevant earth cooling associated with this photon. The result is as if no interaction with that molecule ever took place.

      Yet it’s irrelevant because the number of such events is completely negligible in near local thermodynamic equilibrium when compared to the number of (stimulated, of course) absorption events during the same given time unit. This in turn is because individual stimulated absorption and emission have exactly the same probability for fundamental quantum mechanical reasons and there are tremendously less (say n) molecules in excited upper state than in fudamental lower state, (say N).

      n/N is a Boltzmann factor < N .

    • nigel says:

      Any single blocked photon (if one may stretch a point for the sake of explanation , identity is not really preserved) must be emitted and absorbed many times before it “gets away”.
      For most of these times the CO2 or H2O molecules, or whatever,
      will be “in the thick of it” potentially receiving from
      many directions.

      So, no, this person does not think stimulated emission would

      • JOlson says:

        May I ask the experts a very humble question about the conservation of energy and incoming vs. outgoing IR energy? Isn’t it true that conservation of energy relates to energy overall, not just one form of energy such as IR? Is it possible that IR energy is absorbed but escapes as another form of energy? Can IR be converted to another form of energy (kinetic or some form of stored energy) that is not captured in the IR emissions from the atmosphere?

        Thank-you for not calling me an idiot…..

  6. RW says:

    The fact that the basic physics of infrared absorption suggests seemingly near certainty of at least some elevation of the surface temperature above what it would otherwise be due to increased CO2 is entirely trivial as far as I’m concerned, and is of zero predictive value as whether the climate system as a whole will warm or cool.

    The purpose of the so-called science should be to try to determine an approximate upper bound on the potential effect (assuming there actually is an effect), and not to try to predict an actual approximate temperature increase. That apparently so many people think the scientific debate is about the latter and not the former suggests to me that few understand the potential usefulness of the science (if there actually is any).

    • If I was worried about the worst case scenario (upper bound), I would never walk across the street, RW.

      • RW says:

        Yeah, but is the purported upper bound really physically possible (or at least feasible)? No, I say. I mean an approximate upper bound based on objective science. Hence my point.

        • If you had strong positive water vapor feedback and strong positive cloud feedback, then you are probably talking about dangerous levels of global warming. It’s a theoretical possibility. I’m not sure what “objective science” means in this regard.

          In the new IPCC report there is a chart showing a wide variety of climate sensitivity estimates based upon many different datasets, considerations, and assumptions. They cover everything from benign warming to disastrous warming. Take your pick.

          • RW says:

            Lots of things are theoretically possible but ultimately not feasible (or even actually possible). That something is thought to be at least ‘theoretically possible’ is essentially useless in the context of this issue as far as I’m concerned.

          • M Hastings says:

            Is the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere approximately the same or does it fluctuate?

          • RW says:

            It definitely fluctuates by a large amount locally.

    • RW says:

      I should have said ‘realistic’ approximate upper bound.

  7. Scott Supak says:

    Wait, who are these skeptics predicting cooling? I’d like to offer them a bet. And, for the record, Pat Michaels has bet $250 on there being NO statistically significant warming…

  8. John Owens says:

    Dear Roy,
    I am very interested in your statement “I would remind folks that the NASA AIRS instrument on the Aqua satellite has actually measured the small decrease in IR emission in the infrared bands affected by CO2 absorption.” I asked this question on another blog; but, I would be interested in your answer: Can you use the CERES satellite dataset and the cyclic variation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to calculate the sensitivity of the climate to carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere? Has someone investigated this possibility?

    • No, using annual cycles of anything doesn’t help to determine climate sensitivity. There are too many other uncertainties.

      The Earth that the sun “sees” in January (mostly ocean) is a very different Earth than it sees in July (mostly land). The ocean stores heat very differently than the land, and unless you know exactly what those differences are, you can’t measure a feedback (temperature response to forcing).

      Same is true of clouds, which determine albedo…they are greatly affected by the distribution of land versus ocean, so you have no idea whether a summer-winter difference is due to that, or to cloud feedback (which is what you need to determine climate sensitivity).

      I have not yet seen any good way of observationally determining climate sensitivity.

      • RW says:

        The best way to determine climate sensitivity is arguably via Occam’s razor, which says it shouldn’t be more than about 1C per 3.7 W/m^2 of forcing since post albedo solar power is only ‘amplified’ by a factor of about 1.6 to 1, with each incremental W/m^2 resulting in less and less warming as illustrated here:

        and here

        But I guess it would just be too embarrassing if an upper bound on sensitivity could be determined simply because there is no physical or logical reason why the system would warm more from a watt of incremental GHG ‘forcing’ that it would from a watt of incremental post albedo solar forcing. With all the billions of dollars spent and countless hours spent trying to determine sensitivity, we just couldn’t have it.

  9. First, past history does not support your claim (Dr. Spencer that co2 is the main controller of climate) much less the driver of the climate.

    Just look at the correlations feeble at best.

    In contrast if one looks at solar /climate correlations the fit is much stronger especially if one looks at the atmospheric circulation index versus length of day versus the temperature trend.

    The correlation is much stronger then any co2 /climate connection correlation.

    Next past history shows each time the sun enters a prolonged solar minimum period the temperature trend has been down.

    Now Dr. Spencer like so many in the climate field keep falling into the trap that just ONE ITEM in the climate system if it changes( in this case CO2 )is going to have complete controll over the whole complex climate system of the earth. This kind of thinking does not make sense, since the climate is so complex and so non linear in nature, in addition to having sudden abrupt climate changes, which CO2 concentration changes or lack of it cannot explain.

    I am just as sure as Dr. Spencer that if the prolonged solar minimum continues and meets these solar parameter averages going forward that the temperature trend is going to be down.

    solar flux sub 90
    ap index sub 5.0
    cosmic ray count per min. north of 6500
    euv flux sub 100
    solar irradiance off .015% or more
    IMF field 4.0 nt or lower
    solar wind 350 km/sec or lower

    This will lead to secondary effects which will more then compensate for the effect co2 may be having on OLR. At the same time less energy coming into the earth climatic system via the sun, is likely to have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the greenhouse gas effect, meaning it’s role will be reduced somewhat going forward.

    • Sooo…you are forecasting cooling? Want to settle on a time scale? (I won’t hold you to a value). Cooling for the next 5 years? 10 years? 30 years?

      Also, I never said that CO2 is the “main controller” of climate, nor is it in “complete control”.

      And your LOD (length of day) cycle is most likely the *result of* changes in surface wind stress associated with ENSO/PDO, not the “cause” of climate cycles. The effect of winds on LOD variations has been recognized for several decades.

  10. John Owens says:

    Roy, what you describe is the type of problem where chaos theory is used to find patterns and boundaries. I don’t know if it would be any help or not.

  11. Now if solar average parameters reach what I say and the temperature trend stays constant or goes up, at that point I will say I was wrong.
    I am not afraid to admit to being wrong if wrong, unlike the AGW crowd.

    but until those averages are met or at the very least very close to being met and sustained no one can prove that I am wrong.
    We will wait and see, since it is likely those solar parameters are going to be met as this decade proceeds and solar cycle 24 max. fades away.

  12. Dr. Spencer the key to the cooling I am predicting is the changes in solar activity have to meet certain values. Right now the solar averages are to high.

    They are again:
    solar flux average sub 90 or lower.
    solar wind average sub 350 km/sec or lower.
    ap index 5.0 avg. or lower.
    cosmic ray count avg. north of 6500 per minute.
    solar irradiance avg. off .015% or more.
    euv flux avg. sub 100
    imf field 4.0 nt

    If/when these solar parameter averages are met, cooling will begin WITHIN 6 MONTHS, and continue until these solar parameter averages end.

    I hope that is clear enough.


  13. Steven Mosher says:

    Hi Roy,

    is there anyway to estimate changes in the height of the ERL?

    • assuming you mean the effective radiating level, the last time I asked an AIRS team member, he told me they are getting very good agreement between CO2 absorption theory and what the AIR measures. So, I suppose you could use either the theory or the observations, along with vertical temperature profiles, to estimate how much higher the effective altitude of emission has gotten.

      That change would be exceedingly small I suspect. As a rough estimate, 2XCO2 (3.7 W/m2) equates to about a 1 deg. C change), so a 40% CO2 increase to date is about 0.4 deg. C, which with a temperature lapse rate of 6.5 deg. C/km gives about a 60 meter increase in the effective radiating altitude.

      • Coldlynx says:

        Unless the CO2 effective radiating level is in the tropopause or stratosphere. Can it be so?
        It seems that CO2 effective radiating level mostly radiates from a temperature of 210-220 K which in fact indicate tropopause or lower stratosphere altitude.

      • Steven Mosher says:

        Thanks Roy,

      • wayne says:

        Dr. Spencer, I have asked before but I will ask yet again: where does the 2XCO2 (3.7 W/m2) come from? HITRAN? An experiment and paper? Is this figure just considering co2 alone or is the full spectrum being considered? That would be greatly appreciated.

        Side note: at least give coldlynx’s comment and question to you a moment. Have no idea who he is but his question seems very pertinent to this very subject.

        • RW says:

          The 3.7 W/m^2 of so-called GHG ‘forcing’ is the net absorption increase, so it’s supposed to account for absorption that would occur from water vapor and clouds anyway.

      • Bruce says:

        .4C from 1750 ….

        Aren’t we there yet?

  14. Dr. Spencer you are saying no matter how much solar activity changes, CO2 will still be the main driver of the climate.
    I am saying no, if solar activity changes are substancial enough that will be the main driver of the climate.

    • So, for (say) the next 30 years, do you predict cooling or warming?

      • Nabil Swedan says:

        It will reasonably follow my projection curve as long as CO2 emissions are as projected. I would be willing to bid on it $25,000. Any challengers?

      • goldminor says:

        Salvatore is always shy with his information, never quite complete.

        From my young five years of following this argument, I have come to advocate for the cooling premise. There are 2 parts to that. The first is that there are natural indications that appear to fit well with the perceived ‘cyclical’ historical record. The second is that I hope that the slight cooling of late will lead to a deepening cold spell that will effectively disprove CAGW. I say that because I do not trust the ideology of those who are pushing this storyline upon us, nor do I see co2 as being more than a bit player in this story.

        My current view of the cyclical pattern is that the warming went from 1976/77 till 2006/07. The last 7 years show a slight cooling which should be further confirmed in the years to come. If 2006 is the approximate starting date for the cooling, then the trend should last at least 15 years, to 2021. The cooling could also run for 30 years and into the mid 2030s. Then the trick question comes into play “will that turn into a 60 year grand minimum type of event?”.

        I agree with the thoughts you express regarding those sceptics who champion the cooling, and the potential downside if a slight warming commences in several years from now. The alarmist would use that to firmly make their case, and the time to act would be ‘now’. I have high confidence in the cooling scenario, though. My ‘cap’ is definitely in the ring on that issue.

        It was a year ago where the pieces of the puzzle gave me a glimpse of part of the picture. The trigger was the 2K tree ring study completed last year at JG/U. In that chart the GM around 1470 really stands out. Plus I could see the other GMs going back in time. With that info in mind, the next thought was “why should we not be expecting the advent of another grand minimum to be imminent?”. The approximate time frame between GM events was about right, and that was that. There is one other thought that popped up at that time as I was mulling over my newly found information. I noticed that in following the GMs back in time, they were not easy to distinguish during the MWP or during the RWP. The JG/U chart clearly shows the Warm Periods. That made me wonder if this GM is going to be similar in effect to the GMs that occurred during a Warm Period, such as the climate that we have experienced over the last 100 years or so, or in other words a weak GM that is mildly cool, good skiing weather. I recognize this as a possibility, as the tree ring study clearly shows weaker GMs during the 1K year, +/-, cyclical warming periods.

      • Richard Vada says:

        For the next 20. You seem oblivious of the actual oscillation of the atmosphere .5 above, then .5 below, the standard 0 baseline and from the way you speak when this field is something you’ve worked in for years I’ll assume you’re saying nonsensical things just to be talking.

  15. Let me try another way, don’t you think there must be some x amount of change in solar activity , thru primary and thru secondary means that will impact the climate in a significant way?
    If not how do you reconcile the climate response to the Maunder Minimum and Dalton solar minimum prolonged periods not to mention other similar climate responses to other prolonged solar minimum periods going back further in time?

    • I think what you say is possible. The question is whether the total solar forcing is as strong (or stronger) than the CO2 forcing.

      But what happens when the solar-induced cooling turns into solar-induced warming? It is presumably a *cycle*… increasing CO2 from fossil fuel burning is *not*.

      If we see cooling going forward (which I admit is at least a possibility), then I will start believing that CO2 is probably not the single strongest current driver of climate change.

      I’m not emotionally dependent on either outcome…what happens in nature is not determined by my opinions.

      • Dear Dr. Roy Spencer,

        To the extent time permits, I would advise (not necessarily you personally) to look for correlation among AMO, a similar-period Pacific cycle such as low frequency component of PDO and/or 15-year-moving-average ENSO, and a similar-period solar cycle. I am aware of one solar cycle that has been said to be an 80 year one, but it looks to me more like a 70 year one. And corrected Loehle appears to me to show a “noise” that has much of its frequency spectrum in the 40-100 year range. And I am expecting AMO/etc. to not be a clean oscillation, but a resonance reacting to noise. And possibly the ~70-80 year solar cycle is similar, or an actual oscillation easily modified by others. And, the sun’s convective layer is turbulent and has volume of something like half a million times that of Earth and its atmosphere – it could have plenty of noise, even of longer periods.

  16. I predict cooling IF IF IF the those average solar parameters are the norm going forward. Not necessarily 100% of the time ,but the norm.

  17. Past histroy tells me if solar changes are significant enough and long enough that they change the climate.

  18. Ed Mihelich says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    Thank you for your site, your data and your ongoing analysis. My own take is as follows. From 1930-1980 global temperatures were flat at 14.0 +/- 0.1 degree C (GISStemp tables). Prior to that period it is universally agreed that any warming was from natural sources. The period 1981-1998 has shown warming while the following years have not. During this relatively short (in climatic terms) period of warming we had solar cycles that were stronger and closer together than normal, a warm PDO, a warm AMO and more warming than cooling from the ENSO variations.

    I believe seventeen years of warming is too short a time period to ascribe the effect to anthropogenic CO2. It seems most likely that the simultaneous occurrence of the natural events listed above led to a warming of our earth. Since solar cycle 24 has now peaked and is the weakest in 100 years, solar cycle 25 promises to be just as lackluster, the PDO has shifted to the cool phase and the ENSO is neutral I am willing to make the prediction that global temperature will decline through the next decade. By that I mean your monthly plot will trend down and ultimately stay in negative figures.

    Clearly this analysis leaves very little room for significant warming due to the increasing CO2 in the atmosphere. This is in line with Lindzen and Choi (2011) and others. Only time will tell for sure but at this point it doesn’t appear that a doubling of CO2 can lead to much more than half of a degree C.

    Ed Mihelich

    • Stevek says:

      It should be possible to calculate probability of the no warming occurring in last 15years given a c02 hypothesized forcing. I imagine that probability is very low for most of ipcc sensitivities,. That is why dresser needs the heat to be in ocean, because otherwise the probability is just two low.

  19. Surely it is better to hang one’s hat on something ?

    That is the essence of falsification.

    If warming returns despite a quiet sun then we do have a problem and the sooner we know it the better.

    Likewise if we suddenly get more zonal jets and less clouds whilst the sun stays quiet.

    Or if we get a run of strong El Ninos whilst the jets stay meridional.

    As I’ve said to Leif Svalgaard there are many ways to falsify my model but none of them currently look like happening.

    Meanwhile the continuing meridional jets and increased global cloudiness are still reducing the proportion of ToA solar energy that gets into the oceans as compared to the earlier warming period.

  20. Oh, and the continuing low level of solar energy into the oceans means that we need not be concerned about the small decrease in IR leaving the system.

    Neutral or La Nina conditions are supposed to be an energy recharge phase so that reduction in outgoing IR is to be expected.

    The point is that the rate of recharge is less than it would have been during the late 20th century warming period of more active sun and less clouds.

    That weakens future El Ninos for a long term cooling effect on the oceans and air.

    As long as the sun stays quiet we will see a gradual weakening of El Ninos relative to La Ninas and that will be over and above that which would be expected from the negative PDO phase on its own.

  21. Roy asked:

    “If the current lack of warming really is due to a natural cooling influence temporarily canceling out CO2-induced warming, what happens when that cooling influence goes away?”

    That depends on how far our emissions would shift the jets and climate zones latitudinally.

    Natural solar and ocean influences shifted them up to 1000 miles from MWP to LIA to date.

    Let’s have a properly calculated and scientifically justifiable number from anyone who thinks our emissions would have a measurable effect.

  22. Wait a minute this is not about cooling or warming, this is about what is the main controller of the climate.

    If the sun were entering a very active period, rather then a very quiet period I would be saying the temperatures are going to RISE.

    Co2 or not.

    but vice versa I think when more energy is added to the climatic system the greenhouse gas effect becomes more efficient.

    • what is the main controller of the climate inside your oven?

      Is it the heating element, or the insulation that prevents that heat from efficiently escaping to the cooler surroundings in the kitchen?

      Both are necessary to raise the temperature.

      Yes, the energy source is the sun. But that tells you VIRTUALLY NOTHING about what the average temperature of the climate system will be.

      • Stevek says:

        You are saying that knowing a planets distance from sun doesn’t tell you the actual average surface temp. More is needed.

        • John K says:


          Correct. Simply knowing a planets distance from the sun doesn’t tell you the actual surface temperature. Take the moon for example. Wikipedia references lunar temperatures as follows:

          Surface temp. min mean max
          equator 100 K 220 K 390 K
          85°N[5] 70 K 130 K 230 K

          Do these appear similar to Earth temperatures to you?
          Many other factors such as rotation, size and composition of atmosphere, geological activity, etc. influence temperature. Keep in mind the moon is in an orbital/tidal lock with the Earth. Therefore, only one side of the moon’s surface faces the earth and the length of a lunar day spans approximately one Earth month (Wikepedia claims: “With respect to the stars, the Moon takes 27 Earth days, 7 hours and 43.2 minutes to complete its orbit; but since the Earth-Moon system advances around the Sun in the meantime, the Moon must travel further to get back to the same phase. On average, this synodic period lasts 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds”).

          Hope that helps explain it. Have a great day!

          • John K says:

            My post should have been addressed to Stevek. My mistake, sorry!

          • The moon appears to me as possibly reasonably close to a blackbody or graybody radiator. If that is true, then I expect there to be a single determinable temperature figure for the moon, close to that of a blackbody getting the same amount of sunlight.

            Insolation on the moon supposedly averages 1366 W/m^2. Since radiating area is close enough to 4 times the solar absorption frontal area (or “cross section area”), the moon is in equilibrium if its average outgoing radiation is 1/4 of that, or 341.5 W/m^2.

            The corresponding temperature is 278.6 K, or 5.4-5.5 C. And that temperature would not be mean or median, but “root-mean-4th”. As in 4th root of average of temperature to the 4th power. I propose this because blackbody/graybody radiation output is proportional to temperature to the 4th power.

            I could see if Google finds me a global lunar temperature map for me to test this from, but I invite anyone else having time to do so to test this if able to do so.

          • Ben Wouters says:

            @Donald L. Klipstein

            The Effective temperature for the Moon is ~270K compared to 255K for Earth. (difference in albedo)
            Yet the average surface temperature for the Moon is only 197K (Diviner project)

            This means the Greenhouse effect is at least 90K iso 33K as currently used in Climatology.

  23. Dr. Spencer, what I say and what Stephen says are easily falsified.
    In my case I give specific solar parameter avgerages and say if this happens the climate will do this in response. Easily falsified.

    Time will tell.

  24. I am saying the effectiveness of the greenhouse gas effect will be les effective if the energy coming into the climatic sysem via the sun is reduced.

    So cooling will come from a much quieter sun and a reduced greenhouse gas effect.

    I think they work in tandem, not opposite one another.

  25. MarkB says:

    It’s fascinating to me that the predictions we see in the media are almost bimodal…either catastrophic warming, or another ice age. Of course, the news cycle enjoys predictions of catastrophe (see the Time magazine covers, above).

    While I agree that the popular media tends toward sensationalism and often presents an unbalanced view it should be noted that the 1977 Time Magazine “coming ice age” cover you show is a photoshopped fake using the photo from a 2007 cover which had precisely the opposite message:,16641,20070409,00.html

    The real April 4, 1977 edition is here:,16641,19770404,00.html

    There was a 1974 Time Magazine article that raises the possibility of global cooling. For what it’s worth they do mention what we would now call aerosol forcings as one potential cause.

  26. Chaim Jonstein says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    I have been reading your posts regularly for a while and I am very glad to read this one. At times in the past year you have started to sound more like WUWT than Roy Spencer.

    If you want a prediction from me, then I say that after the next El Nino with an ONI greater than 1.6 the 12 month average you plot with a red line will be higher than 2010 and 1998 (ONI 1.6 and 2.2 respectively).

    We have only had one El Nino since the one in 2007, and the 2007 episode was relatively weak (max ONI 1.0). Nevertheless, you anomaly stays stubbornly high.


    • I have read this blog since around 2008, and I found Spencer to, if anything, have slightly mellowed over the years. Even though I see some resemblance to Anthony Watts, I see Spencer as more recently admitting his biases and more “letting facts get in the way” – as if he did not already do at least a fair amount of that, which he did.

      As for the UAH index stubbornly staying warm: I expect lower troposphere indices to be influenced less by AMO than surface indices. One effect of AMO is great variation of surface temperature in Arctic and near-Arctic areas where snow/ice cover can be changed. I see the lapse rate in the lowest 2 or so km of troposphere changing in the same direction as temperature in those areas, because the surface temperature change appears largely from surface albedo positive feedback, and the usually low lapse rate in Arctic lower troposphere allows upward mobility of that figure. As a result, I expect AMO to affect lower troposphere indices less than surface indices.

      For example, smoothed HadCRUT3 shows a noticeable peak at 2004-2005:

      The UAH lower troposphere index shows that a little less, and much less cooling afterwards:

  27. Fred says:

    Dr. Spencer, Does it not bother you in the least that you are using a fake ‘TIME’ cover to make your case?

    • Bart says:

      You prefer maybe this one? Or these?

      • Bill Sparling says:

        Some of us were actually around then and remember the media hysteria. Is it any wonder we are suspicious of the new hype? Try those links above, or these:,9171,944914,00.html

        1970 – Colder Winters Held Dawn of New Ice Age – Scientists See Ice Age In the Future (The Washington Post, January 11, 1970)
        1970 – Is Mankind Manufacturing a New Ice Age for Itself? (L.A. Times, January 15, 1970)
        1970 – New Ice Age May Descend On Man (Sumter Daily Item, January 26, 1970)
        1970 – Pollution Prospect A Chilling One (Owosso Argus-Press, January 26, 1970)
        1970 – Pollution’s 2-way ‘Freeze’ On Society (Middlesboro Daily News, January 28, 1970)
        1970 – Cold Facts About Pollution (The Southeast Missourian, January 29, 1970)
        1970 – Pollution Could Cause Ice Age, Agency Reports (St. Petersburg Times, March 4, 1970)
        1970 – Pollution Called Ice Age Threat (St. Petersburg Times, June 26, 1970)
        1970 – Dirt Will .Bring New Ice Age (The Sydney Morning Herald, October 19, 1970)
        1971 – Ice Age Refugee Dies Underground (The Montreal Gazette, Febuary 17, 1971)
        1971 – U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming (The Washington Post, July 9, 1971)
        1971 – Ice Age Around the Corner (Chicago Tribune, July 10, 1971)
        1971 – New Ice Age Coming – It’s Already Getting Colder (L.A. Times, October 24, 1971)
        1971 – Another Ice Age? Pollution Blocking Sunlight (The Day, November 1, 1971)
        1971 – Air Pollution Could Bring An Ice Age (Harlan Daily Enterprise, November 4, 1971)
        1972 – Air pollution may cause ice age (Free-Lance Star, February 3, 1972)
        1972 – Scientist Says New ice Age Coming (The Ledger, February 13, 1972)
        1972 – Scientist predicts new ice age (Free-Lance Star, September 11, 1972)
        1972 – British expert on Climate Change says Says New Ice Age Creeping Over Northern Hemisphere (Lewiston Evening Journal, September 11, 1972)
        1972 – Climate Seen Cooling For Return Of Ice Age (Portsmouth Times, ‎September 11, 1972‎)
        1972 – New Ice Age Slipping Over North (Press-Courier, September 11, 1972)
        1972 – Ice Age Begins A New Assault In North (The Age, September 12, 1972)
        1972 – Weather To Get Colder (Montreal Gazette, ‎September 12, 1972‎)
        1972 – British climate expert predicts new Ice Age (The Christian Science Monitor, September 23, 1972)
        1972 – Scientist Sees Chilling Signs of New Ice Age (L.A. Times, September 24, 1972)
        1972 – Science: Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, November 13, 1972)
        1973 – The Ice Age Cometh (The Saturday Review, March 24, 1973)
        1973 – Weather-watchers think another ice age may be on the way (The Christian Science Monitor, December 11, 1973)
        1974 – New evidence indicates ice age here (Eugene Register-Guard, May 29, 1974)
        1974 – Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, June 24, 1974)
        1974 – 2 Scientists Think ‘Little’ Ice Age Near (The Hartford Courant, August 11, 1974)
        1974 – Ice Age, worse food crisis seen (The Chicago Tribune, October 30, 1974)
        1974 – Believes Pollution Could Bring On Ice Age (Ludington Daily News, December 4, 1974)
        1974 – Pollution Could Spur Ice Age, Nasa Says (Beaver Country Times, ‎December 4, 1974‎)
        1974 – Air Pollution May Trigger Ice Age, Scientists Feel (The Telegraph, ‎December 5, 1974‎)
        1974 – More Air Pollution Could Trigger Ice Age Disaster (Daily Sentinel – ‎December 5, 1974‎)
        1974 – Scientists Fear Smog Could Cause Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal, December 5, 1974)
        1975 – Climate Changes Called Ominous (The New York Times, January 19, 1975)
        1975 – Climate Change: Chilling Possibilities (Science News, March 1, 1975)
        1975 – B-r-r-r-r: New Ice Age on way soon? (The Chicago Tribune, March 2, 1975)
        1975 – Cooling Trends Arouse Fear That New Ice Age Coming (Eugene Register-Guard, ‎March 2, 1975‎)
        1975 – Is Another Ice Age Due? Arctic Ice Expands In Last Decade (Youngstown Vindicator – ‎March 2, 1975‎)
        1975 – Is Earth Headed For Another Ice Age? (Reading Eagle, March 2, 1975)
        1975 – New Ice Age Dawning? Significant Shift In Climate Seen (Times Daily, ‎March 2, 1975‎)
        1975 – There’s Troublesome Weather Ahead (Tri City Herald, ‎March 2, 1975‎)
        1975 – Is Earth Doomed To Live Through Another Ice Age? (The Robesonian, ‎March 3, 1975‎)
        1975 – The Ice Age cometh: the system that controls our climate (The Chicago Tribune, April 13, 1975)
        1975 – The Cooling World (Newsweek, April 28, 1975)
        1975 – Scientists Ask Why World Climate Is Changing; Major Cooling May Be Ahead (PDF) (The New York Times, May 21, 1975)
        1975 – In the Grip of a New Ice Age? (International Wildlife, July-August, 1975)
        1975 – Oil Spill Could Cause New Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal, December 11, 1975)
        1976 – The Cooling: Has the Next Ice Age Already Begun? [Book] (Lowell Ponte, 1976)
        1977 – Blizzard – What Happens if it Doesn’t Stop? [Book] (George Stone, 1977)
        1977 – The Weather Conspiracy: The Coming of the New Ice Age [Book] (The Impact Team, 1977)
        1976 – Worrisome CIA Report; Even U.S. Farms May be Hit by Cooling Trend (U.S. News & World Report, May 31, 1976)
        1977 – The Big Freeze (Time Magazine, January 31, 1977)
        1977 – We Will Freeze in the Dark (Capital Cities Communications Documentary, Host: Nancy Dickerson, April 12, 1977)
        1978 – The New Ice Age [Book] (Henry Gilfond, 1978)
        1978 – Little Ice Age: Severe winters and cool summers ahead (Calgary Herald, January 10, 1978)
        1978 – Winters Will Get Colder, ‘we’re Entering Little Ice Age’ (Ellensburg Daily Record, January 10, 1978)
        1978 – Geologist Says Winters Getting Colder (Middlesboro Daily News, January 16, 1978)
        1978 – It’s Going To Get Colder (Boca Raton News, ‎January 17, 1978‎)
        1978 – Believe new ice age is coming (The Bryan Times, March 31, 1978)
        1978 – The Coming Ice Age (In Search Of TV Show, Season 2, Episode 23, Host: Leonard Nimoy, May 1978)
        1978 – An Ice Age Is Coming Weather Expert Fears (Milwaukee Sentinel, November 17, 1978)
        1979 – A Choice of Catastrophes – The Disasters That Threaten Our World [Book] (Isaac Asimov, 1979)
        1979 – Get Ready to Freeze (Spokane Daily Chronicle, October 12, 1979)
        1979 – New ice age almost upon us? (The Christian Science Monitor, November 14, 1979)

        • wayne says:

          And after all of that (I was there too, in college) they swore pollution was cooling us too much eventually into an ice age, and oh boy, there was pollution then so we were too cold. So now with perfectly clear skies it should be no wonder why it is now a few tenths of a C warmer. The amazing anti-logic present today, it burns.

          • gordie says:

            I go back further.
            My parents’ house was just North of London and was in a row built in 1939. Because the 1930s had benign winters,all the plumbing was ON THE OUTSIDE. In the 1950s, the pipes froze most winters, and they has to spend good money to put the plumbing inside.

        • M Hastings says:

          Thank you. So many people fail to realize many of us lived through that era and remember all of this contrary to what they say now.

          • Bill Sparling says:

            So very true.

            In the interests of open disclosure, I freely admit to being a fan of science fiction (i prefer well written SciFi!) and there is a FICTIONAL book by Larry Niven many would enjoy “Fallen Angels”. A Major part of the plot is taken up with those I refer to as the “green weenies” and climate change – with a result you might not expect. Many of the best writers try very hard to get their facts correct, and Niven is one of the better ones, so some of you might enjoy this tome.

            Fanatics on any side need not bother….thinking will prove too painfull for them.

          • M Hastings says:

            Thanks Bill, I ordered it on Kindle. I love SciFi too!

          • Bill Sparling says:

            Enjoy. There is just enough science to make it credible while the political background (plus the strong fanish/fen undercurrents) in the plotline will entertain.

        • Rob Honeycutt says:

          Wow. The mainstream media got something wrong 67 times in a decade? Or did they?

          Have you read any of the articles? Checked the sources? Your list comes from Andrew Kahn, aka Poptech. First one I checked “Get Ready to Freeze (Spokane Daily Chronicle, October 12, 1979)” is an account citing Isaac Asimov as saying that we could be in for a new ice age sometime in the next 2000 years.

          Being that the Holocene has been slowly cooling over the past 5000 years (Miller et al 2010), that’s not an unreasonable assumption for the state of scientific research in 1979.

          What about the others? Have you gone through the list? Andrew clearly hasn’t.

          • Poptech says:

            Looks like the “Crusher Crew” has arrived. They must be getting desperate to show up here.

          • Poptech says:

            Rob “Scumbags” Honeycutt apparently still does not know how to use the Internet. Rob do you realize you are being my puppet?

            Why would the first one you check be cherry picked? I read all of them Rob and that one is clearly making the argument for a coming ice age from just a few degrees drop in temperature. How soon the ice age would be upon us varied from alarmist to alarmist.

        • Rob Honeycutt says:

          Fascinating. And this article, “Large Glacial Buildup Could Mean Ice Age (Spokane Daily Chronicle, June 5, 1979)” states:

          “We may be in for a full scale ice age in North America in 5000 years. I’m so sure of it I’d bet my life on it.”

          Do you guys ever check the stuff you post?

  28. Nabil Swedan says:

    “Lindzen and I and a few other researchers in the field think the IPCC models are simply too sensitive, due to positive feedbacks that are either too strong, or even have the wrong sign. But we still believe more CO2 should cause some level of warming.”

    In order to see feedbacks, the energy balance of the solar radiations must be a differential equation of the second order. We do not have a second order differential equation in the gray or peer reviewed literature. The feedback hypothesis cannot be correct. The earth exchanges a constant amount of energy at all times. No feed backs exist. Presently, the infrared energy radiated decreases, at the same time the geopotentials of the atmosphere are decreasing, or the potential energy of the atmosphere decreases such that the total energy exchanged by the earth remains constant.

    Observation is in agreement with mathematics. Carbon dioxide emissions decrease the lapse rate and radiations to space decreases as a result. Warming is the result.

    • Jim Sminth says:

      “In order to see feedbacks, the energy balance of the solar radiations must be a differential equation of the second order.”

      This is complete nonsense mathematically. I can’t imagine what you could even possibly mean to imply. Any textbook on control theory will have feedback examples using first order differential equations. Plus any 2nd order differential equation can be reduced to an equivalent first order system.


      • Nabil Swedan says:

        Practical applications are not the same as climate; they are never in exact stoichiometric quantities. The solar energy exchanged with the earth, on the other hand, is exact and no control or feed back is required.

        An energy equation with a feed back is similar to that of a spring. It has to be of the second order.

        • Nabil Swedan says:

          “Plus any 2nd order differential equation can be reduced to an equivalent first order system.”

          This is a mathematical novel to me. How do you reduce a second order differential equation to an equivalent first order differential equation? What will happen to the solutions? We will have only one instead of two. How can they then be equivalent?

          • Bart says:

            Any second order differential equation can be put in the form of a first order vector differential equation. So, what Jim says is true in a particular sense.

            As for a first order system with feedback, that is pretty easy. Take the scalar system

            xdot = u

            where x is the state, and u is the input. Choose

            u = K*(x0 – x)

            where K is the feedback gain, and x0 is the reference input which you want x to track. Now,

            xdot = K*(x0 – x)

            This would be the form, e.g., of a speed control for a motor. It is, for example, the basic form of a cruise controller on your automobile. The state x, which is the speed of the vehicle, is “fed back” to the input, which is acceleration from the engine.

          • Bart says:

            Another way to get a first order system description from a second order one is if the dynamics are dominated by a particular mode. Take, for example, the system

            d^2x/dt^2 = -1001*dx/dt – 1000*x + u

            These dynamics have poles at 1001 and 1. The pole at 1000 is very fast, and can be neglected for the long term, so an approximate expression then becomes

            dx/dt := -x + u/1000

            It can’t be done with any second order system, but it is often the case that it can be done, and this is the basis of model reduction.

          • Jim Sminth says:


            I taught differential equations to first year undergraduate students last winter term. We covered how to reduce 2nd order equations to first order systems in week 4. I think this is a good indication of your level of understanding of differential equations.


          • Nabil Swedan says:

            J Smith,

            You have to convince Bart above and hundreds of millions of people around the world that second order differential equations can be made equal to first order differential equations at all times.

            You are in essence saying that a harmonic motion of a spring is the same as a linear motion of billiard ball. Good luck.

          • Jim Sminth says:


            “You have to convince Bart above and hundreds of millions of people around the world that second order differential equations can be made equal to first order differential equations at all times.”

            Perhaps I was too snarky, because I wasn’t trying to educate hundreds of millions of people on the theory of ordinary differential equations, I was just trying to convince the readers of the comments here that your statements have no mathematical basis.

            But since you asked, the simplest classical equation for a (linear) spring (in one dimension) based on Hooke’s law (without friction) is the second order equation

            x”(t) = -k*x/m

            This is just Newton’s law F = m*a where F is force, m is mass and a is acceleration (the second derivative of position or x”). Hooke’s law is that the force F is linearly proportional to displacement and pointing in the direction toward equilibrium (which in the simplified model is the origin x=0).

            This is reduced to a linear system of first order equations by defining the velocity v=x’ and writing the system


            Since any 2nd order initial value ODE requires two initial conditions to be well-posed, the canonical initial conditions are x(t=0) = x0 and v(t=0)=v0. This system is
            exactly equivalent to the second order equation. The solution is easily found to be a linear combination of sine and cosine terms that depend on the initial conditions. In fact, almost all numerical methods to approximate the solutions to ODEs of 2nd order use such a reduction in the numerical discretization. As soon as the (physically unrealistic) assumptions of linearity and zero drag are discarded, analytical solutions are no longer available and numerical approximations are required.

            The classical equation for the motion of a billiard ball also follows Newtons’s law F=ma as long as you ignore friction (and if you are any good at billiards you know that this simplified equation also ignores the imparted spin on the ball). If you ignore friction and spin, then you can write the equations in terms of velocity alone and integrate the solution to get the position. This is a good approximation if you happen to be playing billiards on a frozen ice table with perfectly elastic balls and rails.

            As I mentioned, these are the standard topics of any introductory course on differential equations taught to physics and engineering students at every university in the world. I realize that the fact that I actually teach this sort of course means little on a web-site populated by “citizen scientists”, but you can’t bluff me on differential equations.

            Are the “millions” convinced? I doubt it. They should take some math courses or read a book.

            There is a bigger point however. The “temperature” or “energy” of the climate is not governed by a simple ordinary differential equation (of first, second, or any order). Any such model is hopelessly simplified and cannot be used to “prove” anything. The most physically complete models of the system involve many coupled components representing the oceans, atmosphere, radiation, ice-sheets, and other components. In some cases, like the oceans, the equations are relatively uncontroversial and composed of systems of partial differential equations governing the conservation of mass, momentum, energy, etc. In other cases, (like clouds) the models are highly parameterized due to a lack of complete knowledge of the physics and sufficient numerical resolution and knowledge of initial conditions). The coupling conditions of the components are poorly understood and in some cases poorly approximated in models. Since the sensitivity of the entire system depends on such parameterizations and couplings, they are fertile grounds for arguing that climate models are not informed enough to make accurate predictions about future warming.

            If you want to enter the debate, then I suggest you do so at a level consistent with how the climate modelling problem is actually addressed.


      • bev says:

        Sminth says:

        “Plus any 2nd order differential equation can be reduced to an equivalent first order system.”

        Yes, but so what? It doesn’t mean it can be, necessarily, analytically solved by first order methods.

        In general, the “reduction of order method” requires that one non-trivial solution to the differential equation already be known.

        • bev says:

          “…ANY 2nd order differential equation…” [my emphasis]

          Consider a general, non-linear 2nd order differential equation…

          • bev says:


            The little ellipsis indicated I do not recall the
            appropriate theory for non-linear ODEs, but let it pass.
            Consider the difficulties in reducing a PDE…

    • Pat Obar says:

      “Observation is in agreement with mathematics. Carbon dioxide emissions decrease the lapse rate and radiations to space decreases as a result. Warming is the result.”

      If increased CO2 “decrease” lapse rate the surface themperature would not increase as much from the effective radiating temperature at 6 KM.
      The surface would be cooler. You seem to be measuring lapse rate from the wrong end! Please explain?

      • Nabil Swedan says:

        Details are posted on my website In short, the molecular weight of carbon dioxide is greater than that of air 28.8. Consequently, the laps rate decreases with CO2 emissions, and the temperature of the mesopause region decreases as well. Infrared heat radiated to space decreases, which is observed, and the surface accumulates heat.

  29. wayne says:

    Dr. Spencer, when you say “I would remind folks that the NASA AIRS instrument on the Aqua satellite has actually measured the small decrease in IR emission in the infrared bands affected by CO2 absorption, which they use to “retrieve” CO2 concentration from the data.” do you have some link or a good description of exactly where this data and analysis is located that lead you to the conclusion that earth is still warming though temperatures do not rise?

    Just knowing the radiances specifically from the co2 bands without the simultaneous measurements of the entire spectrum to me is cherry picking statements and people with correct scientific minds want to know it complete, for without seeing the complete set of data you really know nothing. If co2 bands are in fact showing a small decrease I am immediately drawn to suspect that there should then be a like increase in the far (16μm – 100 um) far infrared. Energy does not have a label saying ‘I’ belong to the 15μm line. A decrease there should instantly cause and increase through equipartition into all other GHG lines of different species never to exceed there Planck limit per the local temperature.

    I do respect you and your views very much. What you do is of prime importance. I may very well be one of the ‘skeptics’ you point to who know who they are but I also used to hold the consensus view and was a warmist. But over the last four years of digging through all of these thousand paper and gigabytes of data you can’t help but becoming at least skeptical of the current accepted views. I always keep my older fears that we my be creating irreversible warming. With a science view those warmist thoughts are always there and ‘are’ what I measure against daily.

    I look at what you say but you need to go just one step deeper, more detail, for on the surface you are saying no more than the warmist story-line and it decreases your status to me, and I do not want others to get that ‘view’ of you. You have always seemed to have an open view on this subject but I seem to be detecting a subtle shift. Show us the data… all of the pertinent data. If I find that yes, it is still warming, I will change my denialist current view. I have no qualms of being “wrong”, it’s the fastest way to learn what is correct. Being wrong many times and quickly will lead you to fastest to ‘correct’. This has been a long personal quest, never thought it would take so long.

    I have my own set of real doubts and it is because of analyzing also Venus’s atmospherea dn the Galileo probe data, all of it, but that is a different story and I’m not speaking of ‘Huffman’s’ view’ though I do find his singular but also curious and in general agreement.

  30. Gunga Din says:

    Climate will change. There will be brutal winters. There will be mild winters. It just does that.
    If it wasn’t for the politics involved (read “power grab”)you’d be free to observe and learn. Maybe even contribute to more accurate and more long range weather forecast that would help people.
    But the politics. How much damage has been done by Hansen and Mann in the political arena? Alot. (Let alone Gore!)
    I think we’ve seen enough to know how wrong they were, how reality didn’t match their “hypothesis”.
    The problem is the political agenda the “Hockey Stick” is being used to advance and keeping the idea that Man controls the weather alive. (So if you want a nice day, vote for me!)

    Keep working to keep the science honest (“hot” or “cold”)and working to keep the politicians and media from using exaggerations to promote their agenda. Reality is sometimes hard enough to deal with without making warping the solutions into unreality.

  31. Peter Norman says:

    I’m not sure what conditions Nabil attaches to his bet of $25,000 that warming ain’t gonna happen IPCC style but surely some expert in this “con”-census of scientific opinion is going to take him up on it?

  32. lemiere jacques says:

    well said, mr spencer…
    we do have an theorical understanding on the radiative effect of CO2.. then nothing is clear…

  33. Joe Bastardi says:


    This is huge to me
    “I would remind folks that the NASA AIRS instrument on the Aqua satellite has actually measured the small decrease in IR emission in the infrared bands affected by CO2 absorption, which they use to “retrieve” CO2 concentration from the data. Less energy leaving the climate system means warming under almost any scenario you can think of. Conservation of energy, folks. It’s the law.”

    While I am in the camp of the sun, oceans and stochastic events being the controller, the fact is that some assigned value of co2 has to be considered. As a “slayer” my reasoning is its so small compared to the grand scheme of the entire majesty of this creation, that it is akin to theologians arguing over how many angels you can stick on the head of a needle. So if its that small, why is policy being driven down our throats, killing the economic lifeline of this nation we love, over what amounts to next to nothing? I think you are in that camp too.

    I think co2, as part of the make up of the wonderful blanket of gasses what is responsible for 33C of warming on the planet, making it a pretty nice place to live for alot of people, probably has .4 to .7C of the 33c. But here is the problem. Suppose we keep increasing at the current rate. The fact is a steady increase at 1.8 ppm lessens the increase relative to the total each year. So my contention is that it is effectively boxed in. If you will, it is like the movie Groundhog Day, no matter what happens, it has no way to break this stranglehold by the much larger forces around it. It is the reason why, if one looks at the recreation by Dr Vincent Gray of Co2 vs temps, there is no visible correlation.

    That being said, I think your observation is huge. And one thing I want to make sure OUR SIDE OF THE DEBATE, and by that I mean people that are most concerned with the truth of all this, not some position that is predetermined, is that I am in support of all open debate on such matters. The other side will eat their young. Someone breaks ranks, they are demons. This is not about this. To me this is a grand forecast, where I a presented with a set of variables..drivers if you will, and have made a forecast for cooling via sat measurements back to where we were in 1978 by 2030. That being said, what Roy has said here should not be demonized. In the end, the only way to find the truth is to be brave enough to take a stand based on what you know and have prepared for, and then see the result. To me, this is very valuable and I applaud you in what you are saying.

    As far as people that are upset by what Roy has said, let me remind you, this has to be about truth. The result should be the FRUIT, not object of your search!

    But my forecast, first made almost 5 years ago on the OReilly factor with the triple crown of cooling, remains as is. That we have piddled away 17 years of our nations life and continue to sink deeper into the hole, is a true shame, a waste of a great nation and a greater constitution it was based on.

    • wayne says:

      Completely agree. Not sure we will ever return to the 1978 level due to the adjustments to the temperature records themselves as now reported but I don’t see it generally going any higher than this plateau. Always enjoy your comments Joe.

    • Ben Wouters says:

      “I think co2, as part of the make up of the wonderful blanket of gasses what is responsible for 33C of warming on the planet”
      Going back to basics, the 33K is supposedly the difference in average surface temperature of two planets at our distance of the sun, one with and one without an atmosphere like ours.
      The so-called Effective temperature for Earth is 255K, for our Moon 270K, due to different albedos.

      The average surface temperature of the Moon has been measured by the Diviner project, and is ~197K, of which ~30K can be attributed to geothermal heat.
      So the the temperature difference to explain is not ~33K, but at least 100K.
      And our atmosphere has a thermal mass equal to that of ~3 meter water……

      • joe bastardi says:

        I was taken the commonly used number that I have seen in many treatments of this matter, that we would be 255k rather than the infinitely better 288k. But you say 100k. Seems kind of large, but what value would you then assign to co2, and would it not also be “boxed in” as the point I am trying to make.

        Its amazing watching all this. We have the department of energy saying mans contribution to the co2 is about 5% of the co2. We have many saying its all 112 ppm since the 288 base line. My take again, its like theologians arguing over how many angels you can stick on the head of needle. Take away all co2, but leave the mass of the atmosphere constant, what is the effect. Take away the sun, what is the effect. That should be hint enough

        • Ben Wouters says:

          CO2 has probably a slight cooling effect.
          The temperature on Earth is set by the temperature of the deep oceans. They have been heated by large magma eruptions in the distant past. Due to the Thermocline this heat can’t escape easily, letting the deep oceans cool 1K every ~2 million years. The whole history of planet Earth we see this warming / cooling events.

          With the deep oceans temperature of ~275K (caused by geothermal heat) all the sun is doing is warming the Surface layer from ~275K to ~290K, and 70% of our surface temperatures are explained.
          Role of the atmosphere?
          Slowing the cooling of the surface. With an average surface temperature of 290K and NO atmosphere Earth would radiate ~400 W/m^2 directly to space, WITH atmosphere the loss to space is only 240 W/m^2, which the sun adds on average, so we have a nice balanced energy budget.

  34. Gordon Robertson says:

    Roy…in one of the IPCC reviews, I think it is AR4, and I will find it if you like, there is a graph showing the amount of anthropogenic gases emitted by humans based on a 390 ppmv density. On the previous page, the IPCC claimed that AC02 is a ‘small’ fraction of the CO2 in the atmosphere from natural sources.

    If you work out the graph, the full CO2 density in the atmosphere comes to a tad under 0.04% of atmospheric gases and the AC02 portion is about 4% of that. That makes ACO2, based on 390 ppmv, about 1/1000nds of 1% of atmospheric gases.

    Please give me the calculations to relate that pithy amount of gas to a warming of the atmosphere. Lindzen pegged any warming to a fraction of a degree C for a doubling of CO2 and claimed that was an upper bounds.

    There is no science out there that can prove increasing CO2 in the atmosphere will cause any warming at all other than by an imperceptible amount.

    Will you please start trusting your own data which shows 0.2 C ‘true’ warming in 33 years, with the 0.2 C occurring all in one year (2001) following a major El Nino?

    BTW, there was another 0.2C sudden warming circa 1977 following a reversal in the PDO. That means over half of the warming in the past century and a bit has come from natural events. The rest, according to Syan Akasofu, can be attributed to a recovery from the Little Ice Age, which ended circa 1850.

  35. Chuck L says:

    Dr. Roy, I often hear that because the warming effects of CO2 are logarithmic, and the main absorption bands are already or almost saturated, that most of the CO2 induced global warming that will occur, already has occurred. What do you think of this line of reasoning? Thanks!

  36. Dr. Strangelove says:

    I believe in natural climate cycles. I predict we are in a cool 30-year cycle. Warming pause in past 15 years so another 15 years of stasis or some cooling. Then warming resumes but not catastrophic. Frankly I prefer moderate warming than cooling.

  37. Bernie from the boat shed says:

    question about ocean warming

    From what I have read, infra red radiation – long wave radiation – heat energy – call it what you prefer, cannot warm the ocean as it only penetrates the ocean surface by less than one millimetre because all its energy goes into evaporating the water.

    If this is correct, then the only warming mechanism to warm the ocean from above must be the short wave radiation from the sun – sunlight.

    Is this correct?

    • Dr. Strangelove says:

      Wrong. Long-wave IR can heat water. I did experiments on this. No evaporation occurred but temperature of water increased. In ocean there’s evaporation but we cannot rule out warming or say it’s impossible.

      • Konrad says:

        I have run several experiments that show quite the opposite. I have found that uincident LWIR does not heat nor slow the cooling rate of liquis water that is free to evaporativly cool.

        Dr. Strangelove, please show your experimental working.

    • Konrad says:

      Incident LWIR cannot heat nor slow the cooling rate of liquid water that is free to evaporatively cool. I have run several experiments into this, an early one here -

      A cleaner more flexible experiment you can run yourself is here -

      Instructions for the experiment -
      Experiment 1. Effect of incident LWIR on liquid water that is free to evaporatively cool.
      Incident LWIR can slow the cooling rate of materials. Climate scientists claim that DWLWIR has the same effect over oceans as it does over land, and this is shown in many Trenberthian energy budget cartoons. Does the ocean respond to DWLWIR the same way as land?

      - Build two water proof EPS foam cubes 150mm on a side and open at the top.
      - Position a 100mm square aluminium water block as LWIR source 25mm above each cube.
      - Position two small computer fans to blow a very light breeze between the foam cube and the water blocks.
      - Insert a probe thermometer with 0.1C resolution through the side of each cube 10mm below the top.
      - Continuously run 90C water through one water block and 1C water through the other.
      - Fill both EPS foam cubes to the top with 40C water an allow to cool for 30 min while recording temperatures.
      - Repeat the experiment with a thin LDPE film on the surface of the water in each cube to prevent evaporative cooling.

    • Konrad says:

      further to this,
      reader D’Avila Tarcisio claims to have similar results to mine -

      I await Dr. Strangeloves extraordinary evidence to back his extraordinary claims.

      • Dr. Strangelove says:

        I will not waste time with you. I already told you but you won’t listen and you embrace your belief like a religion. Your experiment doesn’t prove your point because you’re using a cooling fan! Of course the water will not heat. Yes the water will evaporate because of the cooling fan! I would rather talk to real scientists. Goodbye.

        • Dr. Strangelove says:

          Further, your experiment reveals poor understanding of scientific method. There’s no control. Both cubes have aluminum block. You cannot detect the difference because they are the same as far as LWIR source is concerned.

      • Konrad says:

        I think we can all see what happened here, an AGW believer falsely claimed to have conducted an empirical experiment, and when challenged to produce working, produced nothing. No photos. No diagrams so others could replicate. Nothing.

        Instead of producing a replicable empirical experiment, Dr Strangelove chose to criticise mine. The criticisms are of course invalid. The fans replicate air movement over the actual oceans and prevent gas conduction from the IR sources interfering with the experiment. The only variance between the test chambers is the amount of LWIR incident on the surface of the water. The use of a water block over each test chamber ensures that air flow pattern across the surface of the water is identical for each chamber.

        Future readers please note – this is the third attempt at getting this response posted. This one is for the screen shot ;-)

    • gbaikie says:

      “question about ocean warming

      From what I have read, infra red radiation – long wave radiation – heat energy – call it what you prefer, cannot warm the ocean as it only penetrates the ocean surface by less than one millimetre because all its energy goes into evaporating the water.”

      It matters what you calling it. IR is a vast spectrum, unlike visible light.
      In terms of the energy of sunlight, almost 1/2 is visible light:
      “Sunlight in space at the top of Earth’s atmosphere at a power of 1366 watts/m2 is composed (by total energy) of about 50% infrared light, 40% visible light, and 10% ultraviolet light. At ground level this decreases to about 1120–1000 watts/m2, and by energy fractions to 44% visible light, 3% ultraviolet (with the Sun at the zenith, but less at other angles), and the remainder infrared. Thus, sunlight’s composition at ground level, per square meter, with the sun at the zenith, is about 527 watts of infrared radiation, 445 watts of visible light, and 32 watts of ultraviolet radiation.”

      So most of this “527 watts of infrared radiation” is near infrared, see:

      “Infrared (IR) light is electromagnetic radiation with longer wavelengths than those of visible light, extending from the nominal red edge of the visible spectrum at 700 nanometres (nm) to 1 mm.”

      Near-infrared NIR, IR-A DIN 0.75–1.4 µm
      Short-wavelength infrared SWIR, IR-B DIN 1.4-3 µm

      So in the graph one can see the most in energy of sunlight in IR the 0.75–1.4 µm or
      750 to 1400 nm range. And some is in the 1400 to 3000 nm range {that chart number only goes to 2500 nm- but graph covers almost all of energy from the sun].
      And the height of line indicated watts per square meter per one nanometer [nm].

      Near infrared is near red light, one can see part of it with human eyes- depending on intensity, contrast, and variation in what human eye can see. So line between visible and IR is a bit mushy.

      If talking about longwave IR:
      LWIR, IR-C DIN 8–15 µm
      One talking a broad spectrum of wavelength and wavelength of low power: 80–150 meV.
      generally it’s not transparent to normal glass or thin layer of water.
      And is unlike Near-infrared or Short-wavelength infrared.
      Which are more similar to visible light.
      Red visible light does not go thru much water- it can go thru a few meters, whereas blue light can penetrate to 100 meter. Or basically, most of the energy of sunlight will reach below 1 meter of water. And essentially none of LWIR
      gets below 2 mm of water.

  38. Gordon Robertson says, October 11, 2013 at 5:29 PM:

    >Roy…in one of the IPCC reviews, I think it is AR4, and I >will find it if you like, there is a graph showing the >amount of anthropogenic gases emitted by humans based on a >390 ppmv density. On the previous page, the IPCC claimed >that AC02 is a ‘small’ fraction of the CO2 in the atmosphere >from natural sources.

    >If you work out the graph, the full CO2 density in the >atmosphere comes to a tad under 0.04% of atmospheric gases >and the AC02 portion is about 4% of that. That makes ACO2, >based on 390 ppmv, about 1/1000nds of 1% of atmospheric >gases.

    This analysis is neglecting natural sinks. Although natural sources are huge, they are generally matched by prolific natural sinks. In fact, since the late 1950s, natural sinks have slightly outweighed natural sources, and nature has been a net sink. Anthropogenic transfer of carbon from the lithosphere to the atmosphere did not all stay there – almost half of it was sunk by the biosphere and hydrosphere, mainly the hydrosphere.

    Humans added more than enough CO2 to raise atmospheric CO2 concentration from 280 to 400 PPMV, and nature sank some of it.

  39. Ed Mihelich said in part October 11, 2013 at 11:20 AM:

    >My own take is as follows. From 1930-1980 global >temperatures were flat at 14.0 +/- 0.1 degree C (GISStemp >tables). Prior to that period it is universally agreed that >any warming was from natural sources. The period 1981-1998 >has shown warming while the following years have not.

    Current GISS does not show the warming stopping at 1998, only slowing down. The less-warming HadCRUT3, RSS and UAH indices show 1998 to be an unusual spike. It’s from a century-class El Nino. Just have a look at any global temperature index, and it should be visible that the hiatus largely started in 2001. Global temperature indices smoothed by 5 years show global temperature peaking no earlier than 2004.

    • Ed Mihelich says:

      I use the UAH record exclusively for the post-1979 evaluation. That is why I made my prediction (which was the point of Dr. Roy’s post) in terms of his data plot. The pre-1981 data simply point out that very long periods are required to get a handle on climatic variations and their possible causes.

  40. Eric Barnes says:

    Just one of those times where a picture is worth a thousand words.

    There would seem to be a singular danger that has little to do with CO2.
    If one was incredibly vain they might claim they understand all of this variation and that they know which way the needle is pointed and further how to control these wild swings by reducing fossil fuel use.
    I will claim ignorance and hope that the climate of the future is as mild as it has been for all of my days. If it goes up or down, I won’t blame myself or others, but recognize that some things are beyond human control. I thought Dr. Roy understood this. It would appear that I am mistaken.

    • nigel says:

      The human is wired to be always, nervously, on the “qui vive?” Yet it is psychologically healthy NOT to overestimate
      a danger or one’s personal responsibility for handling it.
      Experiments a long time ago showed that if you give occasional, mild, electric shocks to monkeys through
      the floors of their cages, they do not like it but it does
      not damage their health. If, in addition, you give a warning
      before each shock and a few seconds in which to press a buzzer and prevent the shock, they hate the whole situation. Their stress hormones go through the roof, and their health
      is damaged.

      In 2012, the Chinese burned 67 million more tons of coal than in 2011. Can any of us slow the Chinese down, even a little bit? No. Che sera sera.

      By the way I do not approve of experimenting on sentient
      animals, in the way described.

      • nigel says:

        I notice that I did not describe the stressful situation correctly. If the buzzers always worked and there was time
        to react, the animals were only mildly stressed. If the buzzer only worked sometimes, or the time for reaction was sometimes curtailed – then there was trouble. If one monkey
        was responsible for the whole group (only his buzzer worked)
        then he had a nervous breakdown.

  41. MikeN says:

    > Lindzen and I and a few other researchers in the field think the IPCC models are simply too sensitive, due to positive feedbacks that are either too strong, or even have the wrong sign.

    Good luck trying to get a public admission, but I have heard Michael Mann express the same sentiments. When asked if his presentation meant that warming in climate models is ‘vastly overstated’, he replied ‘I agree with that. There is a reputation out there that I am some sort of climate alarmist, but I think there is a missing negative feedback.’

  42. ren says:

    Graphics temperature at the height of 20 km accurately shows the extent of the jet stream (aquamarine edge of the area) in the Northern Hemisphere. This image has warned against further snowstorms in the north central states.
    As long as it takes blockade of the Strait of Bering things have not changed

  43. Excellent comments Roy,
    Richard Lindzen began a lecture at the Washington MIT club with the statement “The influence of mankind on climate is trivially true and numerically insignificant.” That sums it up.
    Thank you,
    Ken Haapala

  44. Roy I think that academic scientists have gone to great lengths to avoid the obvious in climate science. The data shows 60 and 1000 year quasi- cycles almost by inspection without any great mathematical manipulations. See Figs 3,4,and 5 in the last post at
    It is not a great stretch to use ,as a working hypothesis, the idea that the recent warm peak was a peak in both the 60 and 1000 year quasi-cycles. When combined with the recent neutron count data as a measure of solar activity (See Figs 8 and 9 at the link)the following global conclusions and forecasts were drawn. For the full picture check the link above.
    “1 Significant temperature drop at about 2016-17
    2 Possible unusual cold snap 2021-22
    3 Built in cooling trend until at least 2024
    4 Temperature Hadsst3 moving average anomaly 2035 – 0.15
    5 Temperature Hadsst3 moving average anomaly 2100 – 0.5
    6 General Conclusion – by 2100 all the 20th century temperature rise will have been reversed,
    7 By 2650 earth could possibly be back to the depths of the little ice age.
    8 The effect of increasing CO2 emissions will be minor but beneficial – they may slightly ameliorate the forecast cooling and help maintain crop yields .
    9 Warning !! There are some signs in the Livingston and Penn Solar data that a sudden drop to the Maunder Minimum Little Ice Age temperatures could be imminent – with a much more rapid and economically disruptive cooling than that forecast above which may turn out to be a best case scenario.

    How confident should one be in these above predictions? The pattern method doesn’t lend itself easily to statistical measures. However statistical calculations only provide an apparent rigor for the uninitiated and in relation to the IPCC climate models are entirely misleading because they make no allowance for the structural uncertainties in the model set up. This is where scientific judgment comes in – some people are better at pattern recognition and meaningful correlation than others. A past record of successful forecasting such as indicated above is a useful but not infallible measure. In this case I am reasonably sure – say 65/35 for about 20 years ahead. Beyond that certainty drops rapidly. I am sure, however, that it will prove closer to reality than anything put out by the IPCC, Met Office or the NASA group. In any case this is a Bayesian type forecast- in that it can easily be amended on an ongoing basis as the Temperature and Solar data accumulate. If there is not a 0.15 – 0.20. drop in Global SSTs by 2018 -20 I would need to re-evaluate.”

  45. Gustav Meglicki says:

    Of course, we shouldn’t hang our hat on no future warming. Has the world fully recovered from the Little Ice Age yet? But we should not forget that the atmospheric radiative transfer is not the only factor the globe has in its arsenal with which to regulate its surface temperature. When you mention natural cooling counteracting the “man-made” warming, couldn’t the same natural factor, in reverse, be responsible for the modest warming we’ve seen in the 20th century?

    Not until we fully understand all natural factors that steer the Earth’s climate can we identify the man-made factors with any confidence. Right now we are very far from this goal.

    What natural factors can we point to?

    * The sun, of course, is the #1 factor, interacting with the Earth’s atmosphere and the ocean in many ways, not just the ones accounted for by the current generation of climate models.

    * Cloud physics and chemistry: poorly understood so far.

    * Growth of ice at the poles in response to the warming world: the warmer the world, the more ice builds up in the world’s fridge, rising the albedo and thus cooling the globe.

    * Ocean dynamics: even this is not fully understood. A new ocean current has been discovered quite recently in the Southern Ocean.

    * The way tropical and temperate forests interact with the atmosphere, humidity, clouds and… CO2. Who would have thought tropical rainforest to be a net CO2 producer, yet this is what GOSAT observations suggest.

    What is needed first and foremost are observations, satellite observations in particular. We need to know where CO2 comes from and where it goes. What are CO2 atmospheric concentrations and fluxes everywhere (not just on Mauna Kea), how they vary with seasons–everywhere, how they vary from decade to decade–everywhere, how they vary with altitude–everywhere. We need to be able to measure the ocean’s chemical composition too, how it varies with depth, position, season, decade–how much CO2, for example, there is really in it, and how it varies. Cloud cover, ice cover and the total planetary albedo. I find it surprising that it is only now, with Proba V launched, that systematic albedo measurements are going to commence.

    After some decades of such thorough observations we may have a better idea of how the Earth ocean-atmosphere system really works.

  46. John Owens says:

    Roy, from a personal standpoint, I don’t care whether the climate warms or cools. The 31C limit on the maximum water temperatures is worldwide and is applicable to all bodies of water both fresh and salt water with the exception of the Persian Gulf and a lake in southern Russia. This means that the warming of the climate will be controlled with the tropics and subtropics remaining near their present temperatures and with the additional heat causing the warm layer at the top of the oceans to extend farther North. This will simply extend the growing season further North and generally benefit mankind. I see no detrimental effects.
    If the climate cools, as I believe it will simply because of the historical record of the Little Ice Age, it will be interesting scientifically and I hope that it will break up this political-scientific thing that is wasting so much money. It was my American History teacher in Gadsden High School that told me “We are governed by the spoils system”. I did not understand what he meant at the time; but, I do now. Typically, we have sections of industry latching on to wars and using the political system to make money. However, this time it is global warming.
    The one area that I am glad that changed is the Accumulated Cyclone Energy ACE. I am sure that living in Huntsville you are appreciate the significant reduction in tornados. This change appears to be brought about by changes in the North Atlantic Oscillation, Artic Oscillation and the Southern Oscillation and has nothing to do with carbon dioxide. We are observers. It is going to be interesting.

  47. A question for Dr. Spencer or any one that knows.

    What percentage of the entire global convection takes place between 23 degrees North Latitude and 23 degrees South Latitude?


    • gbaikie says:

      Don’t know.
      The tropics is 40% of global surface area, and receives most of the energy of the sun.
      Heat from tropics is convected [via latent heat] all way to the poles. Of course matters what it meant by convection.
      Is the Gulf stream convection? Massive amounts of heat are transported by ocean currents.

      One also argue the cold poles drive convection- both air and ocean. And bring up, The Roaring Forties:
      “The boundaries of the Roaring Forties are not consistent, and shift north or south depending on the season. Similar but stronger conditions occur in more southerly latitudes, and are referred to as the Furious Fifties and Shrieking or Screaming Sixties.”

  48. jim2 says:

    We should have a plan for too much warming and we should have a plan for too much cooling. That is truly precautionary given the uncertainty in climate models and theory.

  49. Colder oceans will take CO2 out of the atmosphere which with all things being equal lessens the greenhouse gas effect and any potential water vapor /CO2 positive feedbacks.

    Less evaporation would cause less convection which would have a warming effect, however in the tropics where most of the convection takes place I am of the opinion that the temperatures in that area of the globe would not be effected by global cooling ,they would remain the same.

    In the areas most effective by global cooling those being N.H. land areas N.of 30 degrees lat. and oceans N./S. of 30 degrees lat. global cooling would cause less evaporation(but very small lesser amounts of evaporation) in those areas, which itself would impact convection very little ,due to the fact evaporation in those areas is low in contrast to the tropics, and convection to begin with in those ares of the globe is much less then it is in the tropics to begin with, which would mean the warming effect would be minimal due to convection changes, in contrast if this process would to take place in the tropics, where convection is much higher and changes in evaporation rates would be much greater IF the temperature of the oceans in that area should change due to a global cooling, but I contend the temperatures of the oceans in the tropical areas would be essentialy the same, nullyfying this effect.

    Therefore the ghg effect would become less overall through oceanic cooling and less water vapor overall in the atmosphere , while not decreasing in the mid troposhere regions which would perhaps contribute to warming if it were to take place.

    The upshot being the GHG effect due to cooling oceans overall(less co2 in atmosphere) and less water vapor in the atmosphere overall would become less as the energy coming into the climatic system decreased(via the sun), while the convection factor would be at least neutral.

    Dr. Spencer, does this line of reasoning have merit in your opinion? Thanks

  50. Another item that has to be reconciled is if CO2 increases absorb more IR and this causes the temperature to rise, why is it that CO2 follows the temperature rather then leads it? How is that reconciled?

  51. Beale says:

    What drives climate change? What caused the Little Ice Age? What caused the warming that ended the Little Ice Age? What caused that warming to stop, at exactly the time it was supposed to accelerate? As far as I can make out, nobody knows, in the sense of being able to prove his case. So, yes, it might get warmer or it might get cooler or it might do one and then the other.

    • Gustav Meglicki says:

      “What caused the Little Ice Age? What caused the warming that ended the Little Ice Age?”

      I think, we can be quite confident that the solar activity was the driver of both developments. The Maunder and Dalton minima, then steadily rising solar activity resulting in climate recovery from the Little Ice Age. The activity peaked in the last decade of the 20th century–it was the highest in 9000 years–which was incidentally also the warmest. Then as the activity subdued, the Earth temperatures stabilized too.

      What we do not fully understand is how this happens, what mechanisms are involved. The Svensmark’s theory gives us an important insight. But there are other mechanisms involved too, e.g., the UV component that rises dramatically during times of high solar activity couples to the Earth’s climate as well.

  52. Gunga Din says:

    A very good thing to be reminded of because how the “Hockey Stick” has been used as a lever to political power (and cash for such as Al Gore), “more CO2, more heat, give us control and we can control the weather”, it’s easy to revel in the fact that the predictions that were the excuse for that power have been proven wrong by the weather itself. “Vote for Me! I can stop hurricanes!”
    OOPS! No hurricanes.
    It can be fun to point that out.
    Man controlling the weather is SyFy stuff.
    We’re fortunate to have lived (some of us)long enough to see that the “Stickers” are wrong. No reason to give them political power.
    But they are shown to be wrong because “Ma Gaia” doesn’t care about what they predicted. “She” doesn’t have a political ideology.
    I’m thankful for “the pause” because it slows the political power grab. But I do hope and wish it isn’t just a “pause”. I’m getting to old to shovel my driveway.

  53. ren says:

    Please warn Dakota blizzard tomorrow.

  54. Sparks says:

    The main position of skeptics of man made global warming has always been that the ‘warming’ is not caused by human CO2 emissions and that it is foolish to expect a continued warming based on carbon dioxide fluctuation as Carbon Dioxide levels follow temperature.

    Doesn’t the planet naturally go through phases of warming and cooling?

    If this is true, and if CO2 has little or even if it has a completely irrelevant influence on ‘natural variability’ of warming and cooling phases, wouldn’t there be a logical argument to expect a cooling phase next? considering the warm phase at the end of the 20th century.

    I have also noticed that a lot of skeptics generally study a wide variety of major natural influences on earth, Solar/magnetic, geological, hydro and orbital mechanics etc… all of which play a larger role in determining earths present and future condition.

    We also haven’t had a major ice-age in 10s of thousands of years and there is evidence that they have occurred naturally and periodically in the past, there have also been relatively recent cold periods such as the little ice-age, it could also be a possibility that these blips of cooler periods are an indicator of where earths future condition is heading on longer timescales. But I agree that nobody knows for sure, Skeptics put the possibilities out there while Man made global warming alarmists have unequivocally backed the CO2 warming horse, skeptics have provided options and criticism of the well funded Alarmist CO2 based Armageddon camp and have done a fantastic job of keeping the debate open.

    I think if earths temperature drops substantially in the future or if we naturally enter into a major ice-age we will still have a slow continued warming. /src

    • ren says:

      It will not be a low solar cycle, but a few. This means decades of cooling. Changes occur due to a decrease of magnetic activity rather than radiation. We will see that the Earth is part of the cosmos.

  55. One often-unsaid aspect of the public discussion on whether human-induced climate change is real, is ideology. Several months ago, the University of Kentucky hosted of forum on climate change with three excellent speakers who were all self-described conservatives. Liberals reported how they better understand that there are thoughtful conservative perspectives on, and solutions to, climate change, thus allowing for a broadened public discussion. In turn, conservatives in attendance learned the same thing. You can watch the recording of this event at The starting time for each speaker is noted at this page, so you can listen to the speakers of greatest interest to you.

  56. Since 2005 solar activity in general has been below normal, so we have in place several years of sub solar activity. Which is one of the requirements for cooling due to solar activity, in my opinion.

    The problem right now as I see it ,is this current maximum of solar cycle 24 ,although weak is pushing the solar avg. parameters to levels that are to high to cause lack of solar activity to have a climate impact.

    For example solar flux is averaging around 111, much above the sub 90 avg. or lower I say is needed to cause cooling.

    The Ap index since the beginning of year 2012 has had only four months with an average AP index of 5.0 or less, I say an AP index avg. of 5.0 or lower is needed on a consistent basis to cause cooling.

    Euv light wavelength 0-105nm around 120 or so units for an average over the last several months is stil to high ,I say this has to average sub 100 units on a consistent basis to cause cooling.

    IMF field running north of 4.0 nt to high.

    Cosmic ray count running at 6145 counts per minute period July through early Sep. to low , I say 6500 counts per min. on average or higher is needed to promote cooling.

    Solr wind has been above 350 km/sec. consistently for the most part to high, I say less then 350 km/sec. is needed on a regular basis to promote cooling.

    Solar Irradiance is off less then .015% from it’s so called normal 11 year sunspot average.

    Anotherwords as of now all the solar parameters are to high for cooling, but as the maximum of solar cycle 24 passes by and because it looks like we are in a Grand Solar Minimum period ,the average solar parameters I feel are needed for cooling through primary and secondary effects should be attained in the not to distant future(within 2 years) and then last for many years.

    Once this takes place we will then see if the temperature cools, stays the same or rises.

    If it cools then the evidence will be in favor of what I have been saying which is if solar conditions change enough they rule the climate, if the temperatures stay the same or rise I will be wrong.

    This will be easy to verify or falsify.

  57. Thanks, Dr. Spencer. Good article.
    In a comment:
    “what happens in nature is not determined by my opinions” was brilliant.
    Opinions cannot affect nature, just people’s ideas.

  58. Dr No says:

    Congratulations Roy on a thoughtful article.

    And commiserations for having to deal with such a mixed bag of opinions. As almost all “warmists” have found (and which you may already be aware of) it takes a lot of time and effort (and abuse) explaining scientific principles to some amateurs. Sometimes we wonder “Why bother?”

    • AndyG55 says:

      We feel the same way about rabid warmists. !

      Why bother, just wait for the climate to prove them wrong. :-)

      • nigel says:

        AndyG55 says:

        “…just wait for the climate to prove…”

        As “torontoann” suggested, many months ago:

        Act like an intelligent manager of factory machinery; draw horizontal “Alert Lines” at the upper and lower extremes, noted during the 1990s. Until the lines are decisivly penetrated,


        This is the last communication I shall make until that

        (Response from at least two people, “Yawn!” and at least one other, “Good riddance!!”)

        • torontoann says:


          Somwewhere in this blog I posted an explanation of the
          Earth’s Heat Budget, which I think wasn’t too bad.

          I will now drink my own medicine.


          • gordie says:

            Moi aussi.

            The associated mutual admiration society is dissolved. Any money left in the pot, will be spent by me, on flying over
            the beautiful landscape of Sussex, England.

  59. AndyG55 says:

    There is an assumption in IPC (and basically everywhere else) that CO2 forcing is purely logarithmic.

    However, some experimental data may indicate otherwise.

    Could it be that CO2 forcing is threshold limited?

    Logarithmic below 100ppm, but no extra forcing above 200ppm is what this graphic seems to indicate.

    We know that CO2 concentration varies considerably at even the diurnal time frame, particularly over heavily vegetated areas in the afternoon, so maybe there is irregular CO2 forcing, and as general CO2 level rises, there is less and less forcing as less and less areas are below 200ppm for less and less time.

    Pure conjecture for discussion.

  60. gbaikie says:

    “But I’ve been troubled for quite a while by those “skeptics” (you know who you are) who are forecasting cooling in our future. Not that it couldn’t happen, but are you ready to be “debunked” when we see continued slow warming? ”

    It seems most known “skeptics” predict cooling due to the sun activity and does seem plausible the sun is entering
    a phase of lower activity.

    I think it’s more important to understand why the Earth cools
    rather why the planet warms [particularly since we living in period of Earth history when in it's a ice box climate for last few million years.

    And idea that there is danger from warming is simply silly.
    I don't even think it's qualify a rational concern- it's mental disorder and group hysteria, similar to millions of people thinking their a problem with the over population of unicorns.
    The simplest explanation is brainwashing from propaganda.
    With power hungry morons, pushing this silliness.
    There could a different reason. But other lack of most people having much interest in science, I don't have good alternative explanation.
    But it seems few people actually think there is any real threat from the world warming.
    Politicians don't think there is a problem, and the public ranks many things higher as priority.
    Many people are tolerant of the idea of global warming, but I don't think many people actually realize the true scale of money which is being wasted in the name of "global warming". But also I don't think a large number wouldn't care too much about all this wealth being squandered, but do think a larger number would be less tolerant. And I think the true cost of foolish adventure is filtering through the public's conscious. And I think the countries that wasted the most making more progress and seeing that such waste is a serious problem.

    Another possible element is the lack of any serious religious belief. Or people who believe God, but don't care about this belief, have followed the fashion of the day, and
    belief in global warming as much they would have believed in
    god- they wouldn't have considered their belief in God as important, and they also now don't think global warming is important. But they seem to need to believe in something.
    Or perhaps it's the same thing, humans are bad, and we are going to Hell. Meanwhile they go about their lives, and avoid thinking too much about "later". Or things over the thousands of years, haven't changed much.

    Anyhow, I think whatever is causing cooling is more important than whatever could warm this ice box. What caused the Little Ice Age is what's important, rather in fact that it's slightly warmer in comparison to it.
    And what seems to be the possible causes are mostly not something humans could do much about: Sun activity, and perhaps volcanic activity. Another possible cause is Earth's orbit around the sun- some relationship to Milankovitch cycles.
    It doesn't seem to me that Milankovitch cycles will currently cause cooling- the cooling and warming periods seem to be centuries in length. We do have signs of sun becoming less active. And we have not had any large volcanic
    activity, nor is any particular reason to assume it's immediately forthcoming.
    And other thing causing cooling or the ice box climate is the Earth's arrangement oceans and continents- another thing not particular controllable by people.

    Now, I don't think CO2 causes much warming, nor do imagine it could possibly cause much cooling- if CO2 caused cooling Venus would be cold. It's pretty simple.
    But I am interested in what else or how more exactly global climate cools.
    And also would like to know how to warm earth [without becoming spacefaring, that is], I don’t think increasing greenhouse gases will cause warming, if we wanted more warming.
    It seems to me what would be the cheapest and perhaps more certain way to cause global warming is pump a lot sea water on Sahara deserts {and possible other deserts near the equator]. Growing crop and other plants would perhaps be productive, but just a lot saltwater would work, and could use the salt ponds to make freshwater and extract minerals from the seawater. So start with making some saltwater lakes.

    And I think trying to use greenhouse gases, to increase global temperature, would a larger waste of time and money, than current governmental schemes- such thing as wind mills and solar power {and etc}.
    So, I don’t think there is likely any danger of global cooling, but it seems it’s possible, and it seems harder to prevent cooling than warming [assuming you wanted to do this].

  61. AndyG55 says:

    Quite frankly, I don’t think we really know enough to make ANY sensible or rational predictive estimates of global temperatures even in 10 years time.

    I do however think the “we will see” principle is somewhat in favour of slight cooling over the next decade or so…

    I would prefer slight warming, much more beneficial, especially with slightly raised CO2 levels. (who planned that !!)

    The one thing I fear is a sudden drop in temperatures, mainly because so many countries have destroyed their energy security thorough belief in alternate energy, which isn’t.

    We will see ! :-)

  62. Harry Wiggs says:

    Roy, why do you do your own reputation damage, by using a completely debunked lie?

    Whatever credibility you have on this matter is tarnished by doing so, and your institution should be aware of the issue: ergo, I’ve also contacted UAH’s administration on this.

    • KR says:

      Stephen – that doesn’t change the fact that the Time magazine cover at the lead of the article is a Photoshopped fake, that Time apparently never ran such a cover story.

    • Hi Greg.

      Its been a while since we communicated professionally over the Roger Tattersall matter.

      How long do you think your AGW opinions could hold up in the face of continuing failure of the climate to warm ?

      What will you say if it starts to cool ?

  63. Phil Hays says:

    Time image from 1977 is a fake.,16641,19770404,00.html

    Please correct the graphic.

  64. ren says:

    However, such a low solar cycle was 100, and perhaps 200 years.
    Now, watch what is happening to the climate. Not in the past, but now, because the situation is unusual for us. None of us can remember such a weak solar cycle.

  65. Jonathan Bishop says:

    A question for Dr Spencer concerning the AIRS satellite instrument observation of reduced IR emission in the CO2 effected portion of the spectrum.

    As I understand it, photosynthesis is an endothermic reaction, correct? Is it possible that the energy retained in the planetary system is that portion utilised (and notionally stored) in carbon trapping reactions such as photsynthesis, rather than stored heat? I presume this energy would not be directly detected in the measured IR band, but it is the balance of total energy in the system that matters rather than in only one spectrum.

    Come to think of it, I guess there are also other ways that energy can leave the system (of the planet) than just heat and light – escaping gasses like helium (for example) which carry energy with them when they depart, although I imagine there is insufficient loss of matter to balance the system.

    • gbaikie says:

      “A question for Dr Spencer concerning the AIRS satellite instrument observation of reduced IR emission in the CO2 effected portion of the spectrum.

      As I understand it, photosynthesis is an endothermic reaction, correct? Is it possible that the energy retained in the planetary system is that portion utilised (and notionally stored) in carbon trapping reactions such as photsynthesis, rather than stored heat? I presume this energy would not be directly detected in the measured IR band, but it is the balance of total energy in the system that matters rather than in only one spectrum.”

      It’s probably just a difference in IR emission as measured by instruments. So in other words the change photosynthesis would be what is measured rather than total loss of heat/energy from total global photosynthesis. The total energy used and stored by life is around 5% or less.
      I don’t think it’s every been accurately measure, it’s sort of
      like the carbon cycle- decades ago some rough estimate were made. If climate science was serious science, measuring accurately the amount energy used by life would known to the a couple decimal points, instead what get averaged numbers for temperature which given in 3 decimal points.

      So anyways the amount energy used by life is some low percent, it’s the change in this energy usage which could be measured. So in others word if life is 5% and it’s year increase in energy used was 1% that would “alarming”, 1% per 10 years would be a lot.

  66. Greg says:

    Test one,two test…

  67. Eunice says:

    Important post.

    My line is:

    global warming is real in real – in principle
    global warming is a hoax – of exaggeration.

  68. ren says:

    Meanwhile, back in the Dakotas snow fell.

  69. AlecM says:

    My Dear Roy, you are making a classical scientific mistake in assuming that because AIRS detects a reduction of 15 micron CO2 in OLR, there has to be heating of the Earth’s surface.

    This logical fallacy is the assumption that the spectral distribution of OLR is constant. It is not and it is easy to show that the real CO2 climate sensitivity is near zero.

    • Climate Weenie says:

      This is an interesting point.

      I recently looked at the CFSR ( Climate Forecast System ) which is a re-analysis.

      For the CFS1 from 1979 through 2009, I was pretty amazed to find the trend was actually -negative- for Net Radiance and the 2000s had negative radiance at the top of the atmosphere!

      Is this wrong? It would seem so, because temperatures and ocean heat are contrary.

      Still, the net radiance did indicate El Chichon and Pinatubo minima, and interestingly a 1997 maxima, implicating it in the El Nino.

      There are all kinds of caveats on reanalysis but why don’t the same caveats appear with prognostic models?

      Anyway, I looked at Land versus Ocean trends and found a decrease in net radiance over the oceans but a slight increase in net radiance over land.

      Conceivably, for short term, land net radiance could drive temperatures up
      while at the same time earth was losing energy.

  70. Hank Roberts says:

    Dr. Spencer, haven’t read the comments, just saw the introductory post with the fake picture.

    Please label that. I am guessing your point is about credulous readers being easily fooled.

    But irony is wasted on the Internet.

    I’d expect it will bring you more attention from people who believe it’s a real picture, and who believe _you_ believe it’s real.


    You’re a good photographer. Fake pictures are interesting — but really ought to be labeled.

  71. Dr. Strangelove says:

    Please read this stadium wave hypothesis (Wyatt & Curry, 2013)

    “The stadium wave hypothesis provides a plausible explanation for the hiatus in warming and helps explain why climate models did not predict this hiatus. Further, the new hypothesis suggests how long the hiatus might last.”

    “The stadium wave signal predicts that the current pause in global warming could extend into the 2030s,”

    I like it because it’s pretty close to my prediction that climate stasis will last for another 15 years. What do you think?

  72. Roy Would appreciate a comment from you on my cooling forecast and method at my comment above at 12/7:14 AM Thanks

  73. Steve D says:

    1) what happens when that cooling influence goes away?

    2) but happens when that natural cooling influence increases?

    Which is more likely, 1 or 2?

    And more importantly, how do you know?

    I would say whatever effect CO2 has, it has to be superimposed (and probably interactive with) natural trends.

  74. Sparks says:

    “I would remind folks that the NASA AIRS instrument on the Aqua satellite has actually measured the small decrease in IR emission in the infrared bands affected by CO2 absorption, which they use to “retrieve” CO2 concentration from the data. Less energy leaving the climate system means warming under almost any scenario you can think of. Conservation of energy, folks. It’s the law.”

    Wouldn’t the amount of infrared energy leaving the climate be related to the reduction in ultraviolet radiation entering the climate and balance well with energy conservation without attributing extra infrared absorption to CO2?

    I understand Ultraviolet radiation transfers its energy to heat and UV levels increased prior to 1998 then leveled off and have stabilized, if solar magnetic activity (which is responsible for UV levels) continues to weaken we could see a further decrease in UV levels entering the climate and less IR leaving the climate, this could be mistaken for CO2 absorption which is one very good scenario that would mean warming isn’t taking place, it would also mean that the energy budget is misapplying a reduction in Ultraviolet radiation to an increase in CO2 absorption and a decrease in IR emissions.

  75. Bill Hunter says:

    I agree with Roy that if the Aqua satellite is measuring less IR emission from bands affected by CO2 it requires warming of the climate system all else being the same.

    But is all else the same?

  76. bev says:

    “…if the Aqua is measuring less IR emission from bands affected by CO2…”

    If by the phrase”affected by CO2″, you mean the wavelengths which CO2 absorbs and emits, then the fact is that the satellite is measuring the amount of thermal energy available to the “last to emit” CO2 molecules near the limit of the atmosphere.

    “Less emission” means “colder” – no ifs or buts.

    A cooling in the upper atmosphere on a short time scale is consistent with EITHER a warming lower down (if the lower air, for some reason, were passing on less of its heat) OR a cooling lower down (if the lower air were itself cooler).

    Of course, the cooling is most likely “meaningless noise”
    of either the atmospheric processes or the measurement of
    the same.

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