Does the Climate System Have a Preferred Average State? Chaos and the Forcing-Feedback Paradigm

October 25th, 2019 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

NOTE: I have written on this subject before, but it is important enough that we need to keep thinking about it. It is also related to the forcing-feedback paradigm of climate change, which I usually defend — but which I will here take a skeptical view toward in the context of long-term climate change.

1575 Winter Landscape with Snowfall near Antwerp by Lucas van Valckenborch.Städel Museum/Wikimedia Commons

The UN IPCC scientists who write the reports which guide international energy policy on fossil fuel use operate under the assumption that the climate system has a preferred, natural and constant average state which is only deviated from through the meddling of humans. They construct their climate models so that the models do not produce any warming or cooling unless they are forced to through increasing anthropogenic greenhouse gases, aerosols, or volcanic eruptions.

This imposed behavior of their “control runs” is admittedly necessary because various physical processes in the models are not known well enough from observations and first principles, and so the models must be tinkered with until they produce what might be considered to be the “null hypothesis” behavior, which in their worldview means no long-term warming or cooling.

What I’d like to discuss here is NOT whether there are other ‘external’ forcing agents of climate change, such as the sun. That is a valuable discussion, but not what I’m going to address. I’d like to address the question of whether there really is an average state that the climate system is constantly re-adjusting itself toward, even if it is constantly nudged in different directions by the sun.

If there is such a preferred average state, then the forcing-feedback paradigm of climate change is valid. In that system of thought, any departure of the global average temperature from the Nature-preferred state is resisted by radiative “feedback”, that is, changes in the radiative energy balance of the Earth in response to the too-warm or too-cool conditions. Those radiative changes would constantly be pushing the system back to its preferred temperature state.

But what if there isn’t only one preferred state?

I am of the opinion that the F-F paradigm does indeed apply for at least year-to-year fluctuations, because phase space diagrams of the co-variations between temperature and radiative flux look just like what we would expect from a F-F perspective. I touched on this in yesterday’s post.

Where the F-F paradigm might be inapplicable is in the context of long-term climate changes which are the result of internal fluctuations.

Chaos in the Climate System

Everyone agrees that the ocean-atmosphere fluid flows represent a non-linear dynamical system. Such systems, although deterministic (that is, can be described with known physical equations) are difficult to predict the future behavior of because of their sensitive dependence on the current state. This is called “sensitive dependence on initial conditions”, and it is why weather cannot be forecast more than a week or so in advance.

The reason why most climate researchers do not think this is important for climate forecasting is that they are dealing with how the future climate might differ from today’s climate in a time-averaged sense... due not to changes in initial conditions, but in the “boundary conditions”, that is, increasing CO2 in the atmosphere. Humans are slightly changing the rules by which the climate system operates — that is, the estimated ~1-2% change in the rate of cooling of the climate system to outer space as a result of increasing CO2.

There are still chaotic variations in the climate system, which is why any given climate model forced with the same amount of increasing CO2 but initialized with different initial conditions in 1760 will produce a different globally-averaged temperature in, say, 2050 or 2060.

But what if the climate system undergoes its own, substantial chaotic changes on long time scales, say 100 to 1,000 years? The IPCC assumes this does not happen. But the ocean has inherently long time scales — decades to millennia. An unusually large amount of cold bottom water formed at the surface in the Arctic in one century might take hundreds or even thousands of years before it re-emerges at the surface, say in the tropics. This time lag can introduce a wide range of complex behaviors in the climate system, and is capable of producing climate change all by itself.

Even the sun, which we view as a constantly burning ball of gas, produces an 11-year cycle in sunspot activity, and even that cycle changes in strength over hundreds of years. It would seem that every process in nature organizes itself on preferred time scales, with some amount of cyclic behavior.

This chaotic climate change behavior would impact the validity of the forcing-feedback paradigm as well as our ability to determine future climate states and the sensitivity of the climate system to increasing CO2. If the climate system has different, but stable and energy-balanced, states, it could mean that climate change is too complex to predict with any useful level of accuracy.

El Nino / La Nina as an Example of a Chaotic Cycle

Most climate researchers view the warm El Nino and cool La Nina episodes conceptually as departures from an average climate state. But I believe that they are more accurately viewed as a bifurcation in the chaotic climate system. In other words, during Northern Hemisphere winter, there are two different climate states (El Nino or La Nina) that the climate system tends toward. Each has its own relatively stable configuration of Pacific trade winds, sea surface temperature patterns, cloudiness, and global-average temperature.

So, in a sense, El Nino and La Nina are different climate states which Earth has difficulty choosing between each year. One is a globally warm state, the other globally cool. This chaotic “bifurcation” behavior has been described in the context of even extremely simple systems of nonlinear equations, vastly simpler than the equations describing the time-evolving real climate system.

The Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age

Most historical records and temperature proxy evidence point to the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age as real, historical events. I know that most people try to explain these events as the response to some sort of external forcing agent, say indirect solar effects from long-term changes in sunspot activity. This is a natural human tendency… we see a change, and we assume there must be a cause external to the change.

But a nonlinear dynamical system needs no external forcing to experience change. I’m not saying that the MWP and LIA were not externally forced, only that their explanation does not necessarily require external forcing.

There could be internal modes of chaotic fluctuations in the ocean circulation which produce their own stable climate states which differ in global-average temperature by, say, 1 deg. C. One possibility is that they would have slightly different sea surface temperature patterns or oceanic wind speeds, which can cause slightly different average cloud amounts, thus altering the planetary albedo and so the amount of sunlight the climate system has to work with. Or, the precipitation systems produced by the different climate states could have slightly different precipitation efficiencies, which then would affect the average amount of the atmosphere’s main greenhouse gas, water vapor.

Chaotic Climate Change and the Forcing-Feedback Paradigm

If the climate system has multiple, stable climate states, each with its own set of slightly different energy flows that still produce global energy balance and relatively constant temperatures (whether warmer or cooler), then the “forcing-feedback framework” (FFF, as my Australian friend Christopher Game likes to call it) would not apply to these climate variations, because there is no normal, average climate state to which ‘feedback’ is constantly nudging the system back toward.

Part of the reason for this post is the ongoing discussion I have had over the years with Christopher on this issue, and I want him to know that I am not totally deaf to his concerns about the FFF. As I described yesterday, we do see forcing-feedback type behavior in short-term climate fluctuations, but I agree that the FFF might not be applicable to longer-term fluctuations. In this sense, I believe Christopher Game is correct.

The UN IPCC Will Not Address This Issue

It is clear that the UN IPCC, by its very charter, is primarily focused on human-caused climate change. As a result of political influence (related to the desire of governmental regulation over the private sector) it will never seriously address the possibility that long-term climate change might be part of nature. Only those scientists who are supportive of this anthropocentric climate view are allowed to play in the IPCC sandbox.

Substantial chaos in the climate system injects a large component of uncertainty into all predictions of future climate change, including our ability to determine climate sensitivity. It reduces the practical value of climate modelling efforts, which cost billions of dollars and support the careers of thousands of researchers. While I am generally supportive of climate modeling, I am appropriately skeptical of the ability of current climate models to provide enough confidence to make high-cost energy policy decisions.


134 Responses to “Does the Climate System Have a Preferred Average State? Chaos and the Forcing-Feedback Paradigm”

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    • Roy W. Spencer says:

      still having difficulty staying on-topic I see, ren.

      • R Huiskamp says:

        Dr Spencer
        The negative feedback process would seem to me to be the thermodynamics of H2O

        Higher surface temperature changes water into water vapor with the latent heat energy associated with the vapor phase. The latent heat is released as vapor reverts to water as clouds are formed, raising temperatures high in the atmosphere for radiation into space.

        That conveyor of H2O latent heat energy from earths surface to high atmosphere is the negative feedback mechanism the climate models miss. It is also consistent with your contention that clouds are associated with higher surface temperatures.

        Bob Huiskamp

  1. Scott R says:

    I believe it is possible to figure out what equilibrium on the earth would look like mathematically, but you will never find the proxy data to see what that actually looked like. Here’s why.

    Just starting with the most important 2 cycles, Obliquity (41,000 years), and Eccentricity (100,000 years). You would have to calculate the delay firstly between the peak energy deposit, and the peak temperature response of the ocean in particular. In the same way peak temperatures in the NH do not occur on June 21st, peak temperatures won’t occur when these forcers peak. So to calculate equilibrium with these, you would have to calculate the amplitude of the cycle temperature changes, the delays, and find the sweet spot where both the earth’s response to Obliquity and Eccentricity is exactly 50% of the maximum. How often will these cycles of this length line up to give us equilibrium? It is practically impossible. You COULD most likely create a “fluff zone” where it is close enough to generate a data point useful for analysis, and the more proxy data you have to take data points from the better. But this completely over simplifies our situation. We are in a complex solar system with lots of forcers from planets, solar cycles on various time frames, movement of the sun within the galaxy itself. Then you might have natural forcers that are not cyclical… like the fact that the sun is burning off all of it’s H, and will change over time. Or the fact that earth’s core is slowly cooling. Or even the fact that the moon is moving farther away from the earth. Pretty much you can say with a high degree of confidence that the earth has never been in equilibrium, and won’t ever be.

    I do think by starting with the highest amplitude forcers in the proxy data and working backwards from that, it should be possible to calculate the amplitude and period of every natural cycle on every time frame from billions of years to day / night. We should only then be able to identify the non-cyclical forcers (both man made and natural) and eventually get a model that actually corresponds to the recorded proxy data when run in reverse. It is something I would like to help with if I can.

    • gbaikie says:

      “In the same way peak temperatures in the NH do not occur on June 21st, peak temperatures won’t occur when these forcers peak. So to calculate equilibrium with these, you would have to calculate the amplitude of the cycle temperature changes, the delays, and find the sweet spot where both the earth’s response to Obliquity and Eccentricity is exactly 50% of the maximum. How often will these cycles of this length line up to give us equilibrium? It is practically impossible. ”

      Well, you get same stuff, if the planet was completely covered with ocean. Then you add the land. The land will change it. But you get it without the land, so you calculate the change depending on what land arrangement is.

      • Scott R says:

        gbaikie,

        You made me think of something… on any given day, we basically have a new earth. The physical features of our land masses are constantly in motion. Our patterns of erosion are unique. We will never, ever be in any sort of equilibrium. Still, I wonder if we can get our models close enough to be useful by isolating forcers in the proxy and recorded data. It doesn’t seem impossible to me.

        • gbaikie says:

          It’s changing a little bit each day, but if the amount of time is say 10,000 years, it is changing at much faster amount and in more significant ways.
          I would agree that global climate change is not something affecting human lifetimes, nor a matter of centuries, but regions could change quickly. Obviously one could much drier or wetter years or global weather patterns are always changing- the west coast of US can have all kinds fluctuation on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis. And also the Temperate Zone has been and will always be region which is 50% of the planet which will with a lot variation in weather and regional climates. And naturally a region like Sahara Desert could become significantly larger or smaller desert within time periods of 100 years. And you choose to call this a large change in global climate. And of course I think humans within 100 years could have an even larger effect upon the Sahara Desert. Also I think life in general can have large effect on large regions. And/or I think humans could use animals and plants in deliberate fashion to have large effect, also can’t control life as well as humans might imagine they can do. But also obviously humans can’t even control other humans as well as they imagine they can do. Humans can’t even have much effect upon their own children. Humans can “easily” have “bad” effect upon their children, other humans, and in regards to all other life. Humans are as chaotic as life or the weather. But global climate and humans have not changed much in last 10,000 years.
          But I think humans will become spacefaring within perhaps a century, and this will be more radical then compared to when life went from living only in the ocean, to when life started living on the land within that first 100 million years.

          Anyhow, we living in an Ice Age, we in this Ice Age because we have a cold ocean {average temperature of entire ocean is about 3.5 C} we have a cold ocean and a low level of CO2 because of “tectonic activity”. We also living in highly erosive environment, Ice Ages are a particularly erosive period, but within being in a Ice Age, Earth is very erosive environment, the raining, the wind, the ocean, and young ocean floor of not more than 200 million year old {plate tectonic}. Geological speaking, we live in very fast changing world.

  2. Henri MASSON says:

    I just wrote some post (in French unfortunately) on chaos (recalling the well known E. Lorenz story, having been largely inspired by Gleick monography on the subject). In the part I developed personnally, I demonstrate briefly and qualitatively (fig 6a to 6e) that the Vostok ice core data exhibit a chaotic signature with two attractors: the tempered climate we undergo presently and a”glacial age”. All the rest are just trajectories around one or another of these attractors, or from time to time a switch from one attractor to the other (traditionally linked to the Milankovich cycles).

    http://www.science-climat-energie.be/2019/10/22/la-science-classique-sarrete-ou-commence-le-chaos/

    An English and more comprehensive presentation (along other critics of the iPCC approach for averaging data in space and time and using linear trend lines when the climate data are polycyclic (but aperiodic) is given in the guest speaker paper I presented at the EIKE Conference (Munich november 2018) [I send the link later]

    • Roy W. Spencer says:

      Thank you, Henri.

      • Henri Masson says:

        Here comes the link to my (very) long presentation at EIKE 2018 conference.

        https://www.dropbox.com/home/Climate/Eike%20munich%202018?preview=H+Masson_EIKE+Munich+2018_rel+01.10.pptx

        There is a complete section dedicated to chaos and how to detect it: under more, phase and amplitude modulations in climate related data and proxies that cannot be explained in another way; and also the exstence of “bifurcations” (creation of harmonics and subharmonics from time to time) happening in the scalograms of local temperature records.

        • Scott R says:

          Henri Masson,

          Maybe if you have enough forcers, and enough harmonics and sub harmonics going on multiple timeframes, you create the appearance of chaos. For instance, ENSO appears to be random, but you can actually find down beats at 11 years and harmonics at 3.6, 2.2 years. The problem is that there are so many forcers and harmonics on multiple timeframes, it is difficult to lift the patterns out of the data. But not impossible.

          At the end of the day, isolating the high amplitude forcers, harmonics could really help modeling, even if a certain % of the data movement remains a mystery.

          • Henri MASSON says:

            Scott R, you are right, but… This is the key problem with harmonic analysis or scalograms build with wavelets… and this is also the key reason why you need to shift over to more sophisticated methods of analysis of non linear (CHAOTIC) time series (phase plan, visual recurrence graphs, Lyapounov exponents, correlation dimension, false neighbours, etc.). This means unfortunately that your conclusions cannot be as accurate as with linear or harmonic methods, but in this case your conclusions are right. This means also that predictability is restricted to a quite limited time horizon (that you can estimate by performing a visibility graph analysis).

          • Henri MASSON says:

            Sorry part of my message disapeared: Please read ” you are right BUT the identified cycles you mention are not exactly periodic (they do not appear as Dirac pulses in the Power Spectrum)…This is the key problem etc.”

          • GregG says:

            Scott R says: “For instance, ENSO appears to be random, but you can actually find down beats at 11 years…”

            Hmmm…sounds suspiciously like the Schwabe Cycle. Maybe it’s that elephant in the room that no one wants to admit is there, the Sun.

            A recent J. Curry posting “ENSO predictions based on solar activity” spells it out:

            https://judithcurry.com/2019/09/01/enso-predictions-based-on-solar-activity/

            “More recently two solar physicists, Leamon & McIntosh (2017), reported on the coincidence of the termination of the solar magnetic activity bands at the solar equator every ~ 11 years since the 1960s with a shift from El Nio to La Nia conditions in the Pacific. Their report prompted me to examine the issue, observing a pattern repetition since 1956 (figure 2). The solar minimum is preceded by Nia conditions, followed by Nio conditions, and afterwards Nia conditions accompany the rapid increase in solar activity.”

            …the following picture illustrates an intriguing 11 year correlation:

            https://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/figure-2.png

        • Greg Goodman says:

          Henri, I’ll look at the french link. Do you have the other link on an openly available website. I stopped using Dropbox when they insist I login or down load their “app”.

  3. gbaikie says:

    “It is clear that the UN IPCC, by its very charter, is primarily focused on human-caused climate change. As a result of political influence (related to the desire of governmental regulation over the private sector) it will never seriously address the possibility that long-term climate change might be part of nature. Only those scientists who are supportive of this anthropocentric climate view are allowed to play in the IPCC sandbox.”

    IPCC is doing it’s job. You may or may not like the job it’s doing.
    But the job isn’t to develop the science of climate. And if it was, it would fail. IPCC is assuming the science is done. {which is stupid}. IPCC is attempting to use science which is “settled” and it’s not adequate, but I would say IPCC has indicated that the “settled” science shows increasing CO2 levels are not going to be much of a problem.
    But forecasting weather, has been important {saved millions of lives already} and will continue to be important and improved.

  4. Scott R says:

    I was wondering if someone could suggest a next data download for me. I’m looking for a better place to download ice core data. I want the shortest time between data points as possible, and over the longest period possible. The last Vostok I downloaded jumped from 91 years before present to 1176 years in a single data point. That’s great for looking at 100,000 year cycles, but not at all helpful to what I’m investigating right now. Thanks for the help!

  5. Javier Corthorn says:

    Hello Dr Spencer.

    First of all Id like to thank you for all your great work and effort to teach us about climate science.

    My question is the following: Has it been possible to measure the real impact of the increase of CO2 on the temperature of the earth? Can we measure the decrease in output of infrared red rays from the earth to outer space, as CO2 particles increase. How can we be sure that the theoretical calculations of an extra 4 watts/m2 per doubling of CO2 is the real effect of the doubling of CO2.

    Regards form Santiago de Chile

    PD, my perception is that we have had down here the cloudiest october in many many years.

  6. “Everyone agrees that the ocean-atmosphere fluid flows represent a non-linear dynamical system. Such systems, although deterministic (that is, can be described with known physical equations) are difficult to predict the future behavior of because of their sensitive dependence on the current state.

    ….

    So, in a sense, El Nino and La Nina are different climate states which Earth has difficulty choosing between each year. One is a globally warm state, the other globally cool. This chaotic “bifurcation” behavior has been described in the context of even extremely simple systems of nonlinear equations, vastly simpler than the equations describing the time-evolving real climate system.”

    This is a ridiculous opinion. All one has to do is do a power spectral correlation to see that ENSO/El Nino cycles line up with a strong annual impulse.

    https://geoenergymath.com/2019/10/24/autocorrelation-in-power-spectra-continued/

    I don’t why you are masquerading as a scientist if you can’t do the simplest signal analysis.

    • Chic Bowdrie says:

      Peter,

      I am always interested in learning something new, in this case your autocorrelation in power spectra. I would be more likely to follow up if you could explain how your signal analysis technique predicts future behavior of ENSO/El Nino cycles. That is what Dr. Spencer claims is difficult to do.

  7. Antonio (AKA "Un físico") says:

    UN IPCC scientists have writen disclaimers in their reports telling that: our assumptions regarding climate sensitivity may be wrong (check in AR5 as usual 1.5-4.5 range was skipped), the radiative forcing shown could be somehow missing or incorrect (check all those LoSU), our model response might contain errors, etc. But nobody cares. At the end of the day, the report summary for policy makers and journalists, contains no disclaimers and it seems as if God itself has offered us His true words, (in the form of a climate report summary), for letting us to save His planet.
    All this bussiness regarding the man-made climate change is a wicked mess. Not because men has caused a disastrous change in the climate; but because the global planet has just become crazy. Those who designed this alarmist agit-prop (abusing from science & maths) are extremelly evil people.

  8. Christopher Game says:

    Till now, I have guessed that Dr Spencer has thought that I, Christopher, am a nut case, or fruitcake, as we say here.

    He has been partly right about that. I did indeed make a huge mistake in my thoughts on Ferenc Miskolczi’s very remarkable theory. I was stubborn and ignorant in that. But I think I have learnt some since then. Still, I guess I still have some element of fruitcake in my makeup, so that I have to watch what I say and write.

    Thank you Dr Spencer, for your generous comment.

    For the moment, I will not reply in detail. I will think about what Dr Spencer has written. I have enormous respect for Dr Spencer.

  9. Neville says:

    Here’s the Connolly’s power point presentation in Tucson Arizona USA in July. Well worth an hour of your time.
    A lot to take in but this is all about the actual balloon data over a long period of time.
    No modelling or theories or guesses, just the results of millions of balloon flights over decades.
    There’s a very short Q&A at the end. I hope Roy has the time to look at the video and chemistry + data etc involved?
    Way beyond my capabilities.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfRBr7PEawY

  10. Christopher Game says:

    I would like to make some comments about the forcing and feedback framework (the FFF).

    It is widely used in climate science. One careful presentation of it was by Michael Schlesinger in 1985, in a report appendix entitled ANALYSIS OF RESULTS FROM ENERGY BALANCE AND RADIATION̶ CONVECTION MODELS. In my opinion, that appendix is riven with pseudo-mathematical mumbo jumbo, and is unsound; a radical re-think is needed. For the notion of feedback, Schlesinger and others cite the classic 1945 text of Hendrik Bode, on amplifier design, but they dont do it as Bode does.

    My opinion is that the proper framework for discussion of the present problem is what mathematicians call dynamical systems theory. This was perhaps put on the map by George D. Birkhoffs 1927 ‘Dynamical Systems’, American Mathematical Society, Colloquium Publications, Volume 9. This subject has developed a long way since then, including the deterministic chaos, as Dr Spencer has observed.

    For a start, it is handy to distinguish between static and dynamic, and amongst the dynamic, linear and non-linear models. In static theories, such as classical thermodynamics, no time rate is considered, and the notion of feedback doesn’t apply. The notion of feedback becomes relevant in dynamic theories.

  11. Yogi Bear says:

    “Everyone agrees that the ocean-atmosphere fluid flows represent a non-linear dynamical system. Such systems, although deterministic (that is, can be described with known physical equations) are difficult to predict the future behavior of because of their sensitive dependence on the current state. This is called sensitive dependence on initial conditions, and it is why weather cannot be forecast more than a week or so in advance.”

    Weather can be forecast at any range once you know what drives it. Here’s the big noise:
    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/major-heat-cold-waves-driven-key-heliocentric-alignments-ulric-lyons/

    “As I described yesterday, we do see forcing-feedback type behavior in short-term climate fluctuations, but I agree that the FFF might not be applicable to longer-term fluctuations. In this sense, I believe Christopher Game is correct.”

    You are not looking at the data or the logic then. El Nino episodes increase during centennial solar minima, because increased negative NAO slows the trade winds. The warmer parts of the MWP had a dominance of La Nina conditions. The Holocene Optimum had a dearth of El Nino conditions for thousands of years, while glacial maximum states have near permanent El Nino conditions.

    • You seem to have a couple of people here using different names than they use at Judith Curry’s. Ulric’s interpretations are as perplexing as ever. More salt is La Nina.

      https://watertechbyrie.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/vance2012-antartica-law-dome-ice-core-salt-content-e1540939103404.jpg
      https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00003.1

      • Ulric Lyons says:

        Warmer parts of the MWP for N Europe have to be positive NAO, which is directly associated with faster trade winds, and hence increased La Nina. Law Dome salt cannot alter that fact however great your wishful thinking is.

        • I am quite sure that the results of Vance et al are consistent with other sources.

          • Yogi Bear says:

            I have given you the logic of why there should be increased El Nino conditions during centennial solar minima. Now look at the El Nino history, e.g. 1807-18 in the coldest part of the Dalton Minimum. Roughly a doubling of the mean frequency of El Nino episodes.

            https://sites.google.com/site/medievalwarmperiod/Home/historic-el-nino-events

          • Ron Clutz says:

            Yogi, Dr. Indrani Roy has a similar finging linking solar flux to ENSO, but with some conditions.

            “We identify solar cycle signals in the North Pacific in 155 years of sea level pressure and sea surface temperature data. In SLP we find in the North Pacific a weakening of the Aleutian Low and a northward shift of the Hawaiian High in response to higher solar activity, confirming the results of previous authors using different techniques. We also find a broad reduction in pressure across the equatorial region but not the negative anomaly in the sub-tropics detected by vL07. In SST we identify the warmer and cooler regions in the North Pacific found by vL07 but instead of the strong Cold Event-like signal in tropical SSTs we detect a weak WE-like pattern in the 155 year dataset.”

            “We find that the peak SSN years of the solar cycles have often coincided with the negative phase of ENSO so that analyses, such as that of vL07, based on composites of peak SSN years find a La Nina response. As the date of peak annual SSN generally falls a year or more in advance of the broader maximum of the 11-year solar cycle it follows that the peak of the DSO is likely to be associated with an El Nino-like pattern, as seen by White et al. (1997). An El Nino pattern is clearly portrayed in our regression analysis using only data from second half of the last century, but inclusion of ENSO as an independent regression index results in a significant diminution of the solar signal in tropical SST, showing further how an ENSO signal might be interpreted as due to the Sun.”

            She goes on to say the effect is broader than ENSO 3.4 sector:
            “Importantly, the analysis shows little to no solar influence upon the ENSO 3.4 ocean sector, but as the graph above shows the effect is much broader. Roy concludes that ENSO operates mostly independently of solar influence. Even more striking is the result for NH winter, showing solar minima associated with generally warmer SST and maxima generally cooler. Dr. Roy explains the solar influence in terms of two separate processes. Bottom up is fluctuations in SSTs while top-down is UV effects upon the stratosphere extending downward expressed in SLP differentials.”
            Her paper is https://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/10/3147/2010/acp-10-3147-2010.pdf
            My synopsis is https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2018/07/29/dr-indrani-roy-on-solar-and-climate-cycles/

  12. Aaron S says:

    Doesnt the persistent periodicity of glacial cycles despite less persistent orbital forcing strongly support that an internal forcing exists within the earth climate system and there is no steady state? On the wiki page graph notice that at about 400kyr ago there was a glacial peak based on ice core and benthic foram data but the calculated daily-averaged insolation at the top of the atmosphere from orbital forcing does not explain the change. This disconnect shows me there is more to the periodicity of glacial cycles than simple orbital forcing and no average climate state exists. There nearly has to be internal dynamics or something else forcing this major climate event at ~400kyr. Until we understand the big picture it is difficult to understand century scale high frequency noise in the system. This century of warming could relate to a low frequency (100kyr) internal memory in climate, or forcing from eccentricity, or CO2. I simply dont know to isolate one cause.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles

    Ps I am a geologist and cyclostratigraphy is something I like, but I have never worked orbital climate myself and am therefore no expert. Maybe someone else can feedback?

  13. gallopingcamel says:

    Dr. Roy said:
    “Everyone agrees that the ocean-atmosphere fluid flows represent a non-linear dynamical system. Such systems, although deterministic (that is, can be described with known physical equations) are difficult to predict the future behavior of because of their sensitive dependence on the current state.”

    Ice cores in central Greenland (GISP & GRIP) show that the bedrock was ice free 75,000 years ago when the rest of the world was in the grip of an ice age. There was 3,000 meters of ice where Montreal is today and 500 meters of ice where New York is today. The Laurentide glacier covered 5 million square miles of north America.

    How could central Greenland which currently has 3,000 meters of ice coverage be ice free at the depths of the last glaciation?

    My hypothesis is that 70,000 years ago Greenland was benefiting from ocean currents originating in the Gulf of Mexico. Today these currents make landfall in south Wales where I grew up. This is why there are palm trees in Tenby (Pembrokeshire) and Fort William (Scotland).

  14. Bri says:

    The thing you need is a stock market technical analysis of the proxy data. They have all the software to detect trends and trends on top of trends. all they do is look at charts and graphs all day so if there is something there to find they will find it.

  15. Nabil Swedan says:

    The earth is in radiative equilibrium at all times, no feedbacks. However, the earth is never in thermodynamic equilibrium characterizing inert matter because the size of life in the biosphere changes constantly.

  16. Nabil Swedan says:

    There are no measurements of greenhouse gas effect or radiative forcing. All is based on a mathematical exercise and concept. Take a look at Chapter 8 of IPPC report of 2013, AR5.

  17. David Wojick says:

    this is very well stated, Roy. I call it the chaotic climate hypothesis and is certainly deserves a lot more attention. In his popular book, Gleick says the climate modelers go to great lengths to factor out chaos. There is no money in unpredictability.

    But you do not actually need two semi-stable states. That is an atypical feature of the Lorenz attractor, the two eyes as it were. All you need is chaotic oscillation around energy balance on century to millennial scales.

  18. David Wojick says:

    It needs to be stressed that a chaotic system will oscillate under constant forcing. Thus if the proper chaotic conditions are met the century to millennial changes might be due to constant solar input. If so then the search for variable explanatory forcing may be pointless. This real possibility is also ignored. The chaotic climate hypothesis has a great deal to offer.

  19. ren says:

    There is no chaos in the weather. There is only a change in the value of parameters, e.g. solar and geomagnetic.
    https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/109/16/5967/F3.large.jpg?width=800&height=600&carousel=1
    The strength of ionizing galactic radiation shows simultaneously changes in the strength of the geomagnetic field and changes in the strength of the magnetic field of the solar wind.
    https://cosmicrays.oulu.fi/webform/monitor.gif

    • David Wojick says:

      The chaos is in the math, that is, chaos is a mathematical property and Lorenz showed that some of the equations that describe weather exhibit chaos. Hence the weather is chaotic.

  20. ren says:

    The climate will change in the Western Hemisphere, because there the geomagnetic field weakens fast.
    https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2014/06/Magnetic_field_changes

  21. ren says:

    The changes are already visible in North America, judging by the surface temperature.
    https://www.tropicaltidbits.com/analysis/models/gfs/2019102606/gfs_T2m_us_1.png

  22. GC says:

    In sum, a strategy must recognize what is possibe. In climate research and modelling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term PREDICTION OF FUTURE CLIMATE STATES IS NOT POSSIBLE.

    UN IPCCAR3 The Scientific Basis 14.2.2.2 p774
    (p6 of linked pdf)

    • bdgwx says:

      Yeah, I mean while exact properties at exact locations at exact times are not possible due to chaos that does not mean that we cannot predict average properties over broader spatial and temporal domains. The chaotic noise in dynamic non-linear systems will still often oscillate around a strange attractor. If we can predict the movement of the attractor then we can still make broader predictions regarding the climate with useful skill.

  23. ren says:

    A geomagnetic storm will bring snowstorms to the Great Lakes.
    http://www.n3kl.org/sun/images/noaa_satenv.gif?

  24. Jim E says:

    Feedback that is delayed – as it is in earth’s climate – does not necessarily force a return to a stable state but introduces ringing and oscillation – just as we observe.

  25. Gary R says:

    As a layman ,I attempt to follow the heavy duty science involved in these discussions. What I read is a focus on the weaknesses of models (In layman’s terms, credentialed nitpicking and getting lost in weeds LOL).Its getting warmer. In my 62 years in Central Illinois, the lakes that used to freeze the 1st week of December and thaw the 1st week in March, now have maybe 6 weeks of weak ice centered on January..October leaf raking now takes place in November. My HVAC guy said last summer was his busiest year ever removing working AC units and replacing with larger ones.Winter is 7 weeks shorter. My understanding of the Milankovich cycles is that they are too slow to be observed in a lifetime or even a civilizations lifetime.E.C Pielou in her book The Last 25,000 years stated that 70,00 years ago the last intergalcial ended and the ice advance began. 25,000 years ago it got to Chicago. 20,000 years ago it was 45 miles from here(you could’ve outrun it). I see the end moraines several times a year. She also stated that the current interglacial ended 3-4,00 years ago and the next glaciation (Neoglacialtion) began with the reforming of the Western US glaciers (which are now remelting). The little Ice age was a pulse of that glaciation.So I think you need to explain the current rapid warming, in the context of ongoing slow cooling, and how C02 is not the cause, and which Milankovioch cycle explains it. I emailed another Climate Scientist to ask about the lower troposphere focus which I didn’t understand. She explained it helped to minimize the warming numbers by focusing above us up to where the airliners fly. Down here, surrounded by corn on the ground, its different than what your numbers imply.As a reminder, we live om the ground.

    • David Wojick says:

      Gary, what data are you using re lakes and leaves? Personal recollections of many decades ago are not reliable. Local warming and cooling are natural.

    • Denny says:

      Gary
      Im a layman as well, doing my best to research all the claims and counterclaims about AGW. Its not easy, especially sorting out the valid papers.
      It certainly has been warming, but we are coming out of the Little Ice Age. Several years ago it was routinely stated there was no Little Ice Age. But having gone through hundreds of papers referencing the LIA , I now accept its existence. The same for MWP. First, it was only in Europe. Then only in Northern Hemisphere. But with papers finding evidence of some kind of warming in the Southern Hemisphere, Im leaning toward its existence. Questions of amplitude and synchronization still exist, but here , it goes against common sense to believe that there was not some global warming of some significance.
      Here is a link to the AMO that could explain some of the current warming.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_multidecadal_oscillation

      More recent papers are finding an association with climate nearly global in scope.

      Here is one of many, many papers covering the influence of the AMO

      https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2009GL038777

      Good luck

  26. David Wojick says:

    Gary, some places have warmed and others have cooled. This is just natural variability. The focus is on the troposphere because the big policy issue is whether our CO2 emissions are causing global warming. It appears not, as follows:

    Joe Bastardi says El Nio caused the warming, as have I

    Joe’s latest:
    https://www.cfact.org/2019/10/24/more-super-el-ninos-not-so-fast-my-friend/

    Joe’s picture of the El Nio step up in global temperatures, with nothing but pauses on either side:
    https://www.weatherbell.com/images/imguploader/images/pause_step_up.png

    My description of the big step up, from 22 months ago (no picture):
    https://www.cfact.org/2018/01/02/no-co2-warming-for-the-last-40-years/

    There is no CO2 warming in the entire satellite record! Just a step up warming due to the super El Nio 20 years ago. We may now have a second El Nio step warming but it is too soon to tell.

    • ren says:

      Temperature in the Eastern Pacific does not indicate EL Nino. In November, the Peruvian Current will remain cool because it is fed by water from melting sea ice.
      https://www.tropicaltidbits.com/analysis/ocean/cdas-sflux_ssta_global_1.png

    • Loydo says:

      “some places have warmed and others have cooled.”

      You make it sound like one balances out the other. You meant: by far most places have warmed and very, very few have cooled.

      • David Wojick says:

        I think BEST says about a third of the stations show cooling. Note that the satellites say most of the warming shown in the questionable regional and global surface statistics did not happen.

        • Gary R says:

          I guess my laymans math is deficient. Here I thought two thirds warming and one third cooling indicated a warming trend. I emailed a climate scientist I saw on PBS asking about Dr. Roy’s focus on lower troposphere temperatures and was surprised I got a response. She explained that focusing above the ground allows you to hide warming. C02 traps heat lower down which reduced heat escaping up. You would expect less heat in the lower troposphere since more is trapped on the ground. And when you mention super El Nino as a cause of warming instead of C02…Isn’t El Nino abnormally warm ocean water ? So it isn’t C02 warming causing warming… its the warming ocean ???

    • Nate says:

      David,

      Here is the enso record.

      https://chaac.meteo.plus/en/climate/enso-elnino-lanina.png

      It does not have an upward trend over the last 50 y.

      The surface temperature record does. And the NH land temps have risen 2 to 3 F on average in the last century.

  27. Christopher Game says:

    For ultra-simple models, besides the question of linearity or non-linearity, one must decide on how many distinct dynamical variables will contribute feedback components. And what changes of model parameters are admitted. Changing the parameters of the model may produce bifurcations.

    The FFF admits just one distinct dynamical variable to contribute to feedback, namely, the chosen temperature variable T. If a model, with just one such dynamical variable, considers only small departures from the initial condition, in effect making the model linear, there will be only one fixed point. It will be stable or unstable. Making the model non-linear can admit several fixed points, some stable, others unstable.

    In non-linear models with two distinct dynamical variables contributing to feedback, there are more possible dynamical structures. Several fixed points and limit cycles, stable and unstable, are possible, but deterministic chaos cannot occur. The Poincar-Bendixon theorem is relevant.

    With three distinct dynamical variables contributing to feedback, there are still more possible dynamical structures. Deterministic chaos can occur quite easily.

  28. I see Pukite’s arrogance and rudeness haven’t moderated since his Bose-Einstein meltdown at Judith Curry’s a few years ago.

    Weather and climate is a turbulent fluid flow problem in a globally coupled, thermodynamically nonequilibrium system – with all that implies. We should hope that chaos in climate is ergodic.

    ” one flap of a sea-gull’s wing may forever change the future course of the weather.” Edward Lorenz.

    Whatever climate series are examined we see ‘NONLINEARITIES, FEEDBACKS AND CRITICAL THRESHOLDS WITHIN THE EARTHS CLIMATE SYSTEM’
    https://www.globalcarbonproject.org/global/pdf/pep/Rial2004.NonlinearitiesCC.pdf

    In the modulation of the Pacific state over years to millennia.

    https://watertechbyrie.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/moy-2002-wavelet1-e1530244572217.jpg

    As much as in Hurst dynamics in a 1000 years of Nile River data.

    https://watertechbyrie.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/moy-2002-wavelet1-e1530244572217.jpg

    If Pukite is again getting a different answer – and claiming novel discoveries – we have to give him a fail grade.

    Let me quote Dimitris Kousoyiannis apropos to the topic.

    “Since panta rhei was pronounced by Heraclitus, hydrology and the objects it studies, such as rivers and lakes, have offered grounds to observe and understand change and flux. Change occurs on all time scales,from minute to geological, but our limited senses and life span, as well as the short time window of instrumental observations, restrict our perception to the most apparent daily to yearly variations. As a result, our typical modelling practices assume that natural changes are just a short-term noise superimposed on the daily and annual cycles in a scene that is static and invariant in the long run. According to this perception, only an exceptional and extraordinary forcing can produce a long-term change. The hydrologist H.E. Hurst, studying the long flow records of the Nile and other geophysical time series, was the first to observe a natural behaviour, named after him, related to multi-scale change, as well as its implications in engineering designs. Essentially, this behaviour
    manifests that long-term changes are much more frequent and intense than commonly perceived and, simultaneously, that the future states are much more uncertain and unpredictable on long time horizons than implied by standard approaches. Surprisingly, however, the implications of multi-scale change have not been assimilated in geophysical sciences. A change of perspective is thus needed, in which change and uncertainty are essential parts.” https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02626667.2013.804626

    Climate, hydrology and ecology are chaotic subsystems that are forced by small changes past thresholds into more or less extreme emergent behaviours that result purely from internal variability. Emissions of greenhouse gases – or indeed land use change – cannot be other than a small change in conditions and a potential cause of nonlinear climate change.

  29. Christopher Game says:

    The FFF is hopeless as a candidate model of a physical process because it blatantly disregards causality. This disregard is built into the FFF’s concept of “radiative forcing”.

    Judging from Dr Spencer’s comments at the head of this thread, it seems possible that the AOGCMs may fail in this way too.

  30. Rob JM says:

    Ive been thinking about stability points in a chaotic system and what requirements need to be met to sustain them. Generally speaking you need to confine your fuel source, otherwise the positive feedback runs away as the increase in reaction exceeds the input of more fuel that eventually halts the reaction when the fuel runs out. You can see this occurrence in thing like wild fires that expand outwards, thunderstorms where the downdraft cuts off the inflow, and ENSO.
    To overcome fuel erosion and the consequential negative feedback requires constraining the rate of reaction. In weather this is seen in supercell thunderstorms and tropical storms where reaction is drawn inwards instead of expanding outwards. They draw energy in from a wide area through a reaction in confined area.

    Recently I think I may have identified a similar mechanism responsible for the late 90s climate shift
    A recent paper https://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/19/2655/2019/ has linked a cooling stratosphere with an increase in deep convection over Asia associated with an enhanced Brewer Dobson circulation, and movement of the Hadley cells. The timing coincides with both step like decreases in relative humidity at 300hpa (water vapour negative feedback, from either decreased) and decreased low cloud cover in mid/high lat, presumably though circulation changes related to the strengthening polar vortex/Hadley cells changes.
    The reason it stays stable is that this deep convection requires both heating from land and moisture from the ocean (energy plus fuel) which only occurs in this particular region in conjunction with the ITCZ. Ie the reaction is confined. Plus the changes it induces create more warmth at the surface and more cooling at the tropopause, thus creating more energy for convection.

    Net result is pseudostable convective regime with a La Nia like characteristic that dissipates energy via convection rather than storing it in the west pacific warm pool like ENSO.

    Interestingly the stratospheric temp has a strong linkage to volcanic ozone depletion.
    https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/2008JCLI2482.1

    • Rob JM says:

      That should say decreased relative humidity from either increased precipitation or dry air sinking from stratosphere, in response to the observed increase in deep convection.

  31. Darwin Wyatt says:

    Does the climate system have a preferred average state? Yes, ice ages lasting 90-100,000 years is the average.

    • Gary R says:

      Great point. I never read mention that we are still in the Ice Age in the interglacial part of the cycle. The only Milankovich cycle I have found info on is the 41,000 year Earth tilt cycle. We are at the midpoint at 23.5 degrees headed toward the minimum of 20.4. That implies warming. Something I have wondered about is will that exacerbate C02 warming? (and yes, I know that it isn’t warming up where the Jet planes fly..prefer to focus on the ground, for instance last summer in Australia when it topped 120..healthy humans start dying at 126…getting a little too much like “frog in a slow boiling pot wont jump out” scenario.

  32. Erik Aamot says:

    as amazed by the African Humid Period that had the Sahara desert green with large lakes about 8000 years ago because it was hotter !!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM_QS984JKI&t=2s

  33. Hans Erren says:

    My comment is probably in the spamfilter

  34. donald penman says:

    I think that we could have long term climate change because of water vapour and rainfall patterns but it would be difficult to determine if this was because it was colder or if they caused it to be colder. the effect of changes in WV and precipitation would also depend on season. The present modern warming seems to depend on winter minimum temperatures being warmer rather than maximum temperatures being warmer, which fits with increased cloud during winter keeping surface temperatures up.

  35. Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    Hi Roy,
    Interesting post. I would only point out that El Nino(warm) and La Nina(cold) states are really not global at all, but limited almost entirely to the tropics. Propagation of ENSO temperature changes to higher latitudes is very weak. You can see this clearly by plotting the 30N to 30S monthly temperature trend and comparing to the trend for everywhere else; the tropics match the ENSO state almost perfectly, and everywhere else hardly at all. There are other ENSO effects which may be more important outside the tropics (e.g. rainfall patterns), but not temperature changes.

  36. ren says:

    In my opinion, satellite measurements of the temperature of water vapor in the atmosphere are closer to the actual temperature in the troposphere than measurements of oxygen temperature. Ozone clearly affects the measurement results.
    https://www.tropicaltidbits.com/sat/satlooper.php?region=ak&product=ir

  37. ren says:

    This is a real winter attack in the west of the US.
    https://files.tinypic.pl/i/00991/9w2ati2u2z2t.png

  38. AlanF says:

    Higher minimum temperatures at night, and lower maximum temperatures in the day are a signature of more humidity, a higher dew point and frost point. Human activities such burning fuel for heat and energy, and irrigation can elevate humidity near the ground and in valleys.

  39. Aaron S says:

    Does the Climate System Have a Preferred Average State?

    The questinon can probably not be answered looking at such short time scales as thermometer or satellite data. In a geologic perspective:

    1. Pleistocene climate change is dominated by orbital parameters.
    1.5. Pleistocene climate change exceeds 10 deg C during peak and trough of a glacial cycle.
    2. We have not exceeded the natural variability (120k yr ago sea level was 6m higher than present) during this interglacial.

    3. Short data sets can not differentiate climate signal from noise in the bigger picture dominating climate.

    4. There is evidence that climate includes dynamic internal variability that maintains climate periodicity even when orbital forcing is not correlated with climate change.

    5. This disrupts any climate model that uses orbital forcing to predict natural climate change.

    Thus, you can not answer such questions looking small.

  40. ren says:

    Excess ozone over eastern Siberia modifies the polar vortex pattern. This pattern has an effect on extremely low temperatures in the west of the US.
    https://www.netweather.tv/charts-and-data/stratosphere

  41. Stephen P Anderson says:

    While I am generally supportive of climate modeling, I am appropriately skeptical of the ability of current climate models to provide enough confidence to make high-cost energy policy decisions.

    Dr. Spencer, Ed Berryis now in his new paper taking his Physics Model and using it to derive a real carbon cycle. Maybe if climate modelers would start in the right place?

  42. Dr Nicholas Alexander says:

    Dr Spencer, I read with interest your post and it appears to contain some very interesting comments. A nonlinear forced differential system will reach some steady-state (or tend to infinity) after an appropriate number of cycles of longest period of forcing. If we assume (and I am not sure this is correct) that the earth is old enough to have achieved this then it is not unreasonable (under no system changes with time) to assume that a periodic stable climate oscillation is the stable solution. The interesting thing about nonlinear systems is not only the possibility of chaotic solutions but the possibility of an unknown number of co-existing solutions (chaotic or otherwise) that are arrived at by different sets of initial conditions. Bifurcations require changes in system parameters which can result in solutions switching between different co-existing chaotic (or long period) solutions. And so it appears to me we need some system change to entice the system to changes between these co-existing solution states. Thus, we are back to the problem of changes in time of all the many forcing parameters causing changes in solutions states.

  43. ren says:

    The polar vortex in the lower stratosphere create two centers. One of them is located over Canada.
    https://earth.nullschool.net/#2019/10/30/0000Z/wind/isobaric/70hPa/orthographic=-109.96,72.36,338

  44. Stephen P Anderson says:

    From Heller: UAH seems to be the only un-corrupted satellite record.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOHrYY3yAGE&t=336s

    • Scott R says:

      Tony Heller is doing great work, research. I just listened to one of his videos this morning about the mid century cooling being erased and the fraud at NASA. He doesn’t just speculate, he has the evidence backing it up with that letter specifying “we need to erase the 1940s blip”. It is truly a sad state our trusted scientific community has reached. Clearly, we had strong cooling from 1940-1980 and everyone on the left would like us to forget about that, even though there are documents, documentaries, base NOAA data, you name it everywhere showing clearly that temperatures got much colder with CO2 going up. It is quite obvious to me anyways, that the AMO is a critical climate forcer. How many climate models even consider it? Clearly we have a negative AMO… and we’ve had it since 2012. (rolling over slowly at first since 2012 and only now it is intensifying)

      https://www.tropicaltidbits.com/analysis/ocean/natlssta.png

    • Bindidon says:

      Stephen P Anderson

      “From Heller: UAH seems to be the only un-corrupted satellite record.”

      Heller is one of the least trustworthy persons: but to experience that you need to do the same job as he did, e.g. with the GHCN data set.

      Then you discover the (obviously intentional) flaws in his guest posts.

      *
      For many people (including as top man Gor-don Rob-ertson), UAH is the ‘only un-corrupted satellite record’ for exactly one reason: it shows less warming than the others. That’s the only criterium.

      Slowly but surely, this keeping so blind one one eye demonstrated here becomes more and more boring…

      • Dr Roys Emergency Moderation Team says:

        Gordon Robertson. See, his name posts fine, no need to hyphenate.

      • Scott R says:

        Bindidon,

        I’ve demonstrated here before that UAH is superior to RSS. Take HADSTT3 – UAH and HADSST3 – RSS. Then do a linear fit to the data. HADSST3 – RSS has a major negative slope. HADSST3 – UAH is almost flat lined. (what you want) UAH is tracking changes in the ocean. RSS is fake global warming propaganda. Too bad, because it could be a useful dataset if they didn’t put that bias in there. Perhaps I should detrend it and post the adjusted, real RSS. Problem: there are just too many things like this I’d like to do, but I haven’t even unpacked from when I moved 4 years ago. lol

        I can not believe that you are going to continue to argue with me about the AMO. Do you not see it has already peaked and is starting to roll over? It is so obvious.

        http://woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-amo/from:1850

  45. Phil Salmon says:

    Yes quoting Lorenz is good, but you havent yet commented on my argument which was not about electrical circuits but about chemical engineering l.

    https://pure.mpg.de/rest/items/item_740669/component/file_740668/content

    http://www.fhi-berlin.mpg.de/complsys/Pdf/2001/pollmann-bertram-rotermund-01.pdf

    Spontaneous pattern formation and spatiotemporal chaos (turbulence) are common features of spatially extended nonlinear systems maintained far from equilibrium. The aim of this work is to control and engineer such phenomena. As an example, the catalytic oxidation of carbon monoxide on a platinum (110) single crystal surface is considered. In order to control turbulence and to manipulate pattern formation in this reaction, two different control methods, global delayed feedback and periodic forcing, are employed.

    The Nullschool live images of ocean circulation illustrates well the chaotic nature of atmosphere-ocean dynamics.

    https://earth.nullschool.net/

    The insights from chemical engineering are that two phenomena highly relevant in climate can cause oscillatory pattern to emerge from this chaos. These were demonstrated in the above papers to be feedbacks and external periodic forcing. Feedbacks include the North Atlantic salinity-downwelling positive feedback at the heart of the AMOC, and the Bjerknes feedback at the heart of ENSO. Many others exist. External periodic forcing includes the annual cycle and lunar and solar cycles. (The Ghil and Lucarini review cited the work of Tsipermann et al. on modelling ENSO as a nonlinear oscillator periodically forced by the annual cycle.)

    Some may consider it a stretch to take theory from chemical engineering to climate dynamics but I think not the principles of chaotic dynamics are universal.

    This interaction between thermodynamic chaos in climate with internal feedbacks and external periodic forcing produces natural spatiotemporal oscillations. So when these oscillations are observed, they cannot be dismissed, as often is the custom, by saying we cant see any mechanism that can cause this (so it can only be CO2).

  46. Phil Salmon says:

    it is not unreasonable (under no system changes with time) to assume that a periodic stable climate oscillation is the stable solution.

    I agree – see my post below.

  47. Phil Salmon says:

    I agree, see my post below

    (Now above)

    was meant as a reply to Nicholas Alexander.

  48. Phil Salmon says:

    Some compelling analogies to chaotic climate under the influence of (a) feedbacks and (b) external periodic forcing, are provided by chemical engineering.

    https://pure.mpg.de/rest/items/item_740669/component/file_740668/content

    http://www.fhi-berlin.mpg.de/complsys/Pdf/2001/pollmann-bertram-rotermund-01.pdf

    Quoting Bertram:

    Spontaneous pattern formation and spatiotemporal chaos (turbulence) are common features of spatially extended nonlinear systems maintained far from equilibrium. The aim of this work is to control and engineer such phenomena. As an example, the catalytic oxidation of carbon monoxide on a platinum (110) single crystal surface is considered. In order to control turbulence and to manipulate pattern formation in this reaction, two different control methods, global delayed feedback and periodic forcing, are employed.

    end quote

    The Nullschool live images of ocean circulation illustrates well the chaotic nature of atmosphere-ocean dynamics.

    https://earth.nullschool.net/

    The insights from chemical engineering are that two phenomena highly relevant in climate can cause oscillatory pattern to emerge from this chaos. These were demonstrated in the above papers to be feedbacks and external periodic forcing. Feedbacks include the North Atlantic salinity-downwelling positive feedback at the heart of the AMOC, and the Bjerknes feedback at the heart of ENSO. Many others exist. External periodic forcing includes the annual cycle and lunar and solar cycles. (The Ghil and Lucarini review cited the work of Tsipermann et al. on modelling ENSO as a nonlinear oscillator periodically forced by the annual cycle.)

    Some may consider it a stretch to take theory from chemical engineering to climate dynamics but I think not the principles of chaotic dynamics are universal.

    This interaction between thermodynamic chaos in climate with internal feedbacks and external periodic forcing produces natural spatiotemporal oscillations. So when these oscillations are observed, they cannot be dismissed, as often is the custom, by saying we cant see any mechanism that can cause this (so it can only be CO2).

  49. barry says:

    I think people are confusing weather and climate when it comes to discussions of chaotic behaviour. Summer is always warmer than Winter (or 99.9% of the time depending where you live). Chaotic systems are bounded, and climate is the bounds of the dynamic weather.

    Models of chaotic behaviour, which you can see visualised all over the net, have a basic shape. The double-rod pendulum (it’s on the wiki page on chaos theory if you want to see it) is always going to produce a bowl shape, left to run long enough.

    While slightly different initial conditions will produce radically different weather patterns in climate models, the statistical (average) conditions are far less chaotic. Even so, a model is run multiple times to look for the statistical range.

    If the sun gets hotter, so will the temperature of the Earth. The dynamics within the ocean/atmosphere system, while being chaotic, are not going to change basic physics. Move the Earth a few million clicks away from the Sun, and it will get cooler. Within the bounds of general change, the time-evolving trajectory of individual components is impossible to predict.

    • m d mill says:

      I had put off making many of the trenchant arguments you have stated, and I am glad someone else has made these points. Even though I consider myself skeptical of alarming predictions of warming, these “nonlinear chaos makes all models useless” arguments are an intellectually lazy way of avoiding the hard work of developing climate theory and sensitivity relations. Adding CO2 WILL make the earth warmer on average than it would have been otherwise…the real question is only how much and where. The natural variations can be added onto this.

      The earth in fact seems stubbornly deterministic most of the time…day is warmer than night, winter is colder than summer, high latitudes are cooler than lower, etc., in a very WELL modeled way, WITH natural variation (random noise and pseudo periodic natural variation(eg ENSO)) added onto that. Even ice ages are basically deterministic, again with natural variation altering the starting and ending and magnitudes somewhat, and might? disappear altogether with increasing CO2. Good models may answer this question.

      I still proffer the (improved) analogy. If you fill an old water barrel having very leaky seams with a known flow rate of water, and if you know (or observe) the dependency of the rate of leaking with water level, then you may well predict the equilibrium AVERAGE level of water, even though you may never be able to predict the random/chaotic exact instantaneous level of the sloshing surface. The deterministic and random effects can usually be separated (approximately) if the system is fundamentally stable to start with.

      • Dr Roys Emergency Moderation Team says:

        “Adding CO2 WILL make the earth warmer on average than it would have been otherwise…”

        Incorrect. With the intelligent, rational and honest acknowledging that the Pathetichouse Effect has been falsified, “climate science” can finally begin.

        • Ball4 says:

          Better: Adding CO2 ppm WILL make the median annualized global planet Earth near surface air warmer than it would have been otherwise.

          It’s obvious to many DREMT doesn’t understand that intelligent, rational, and measured statement or DREMT would have honestly written it correctly.

          • m d mill says:

            Thank you Ball4…
            I was perhaps a little loose with my original statement.
            I would never have DREMT anyone could find it contentious 😉

        • Dr Roys Emergency Moderation Team says:

          Grow up.

  50. Scott R says:

    Do you guys want to have a little fun? Let’s try to guess what UAH might be tomorrow. (If you have the inside information, please, no spoilers)

    I’m expecting a drop of 0.24 this month down to 0.37. Would anyone else like to guess? (Just for fun.)

    • bdgwx says:

      That seems like a pretty reasonable guess. The sudden stratospheric warming event is waning.

      • Scott R says:

        bdgwx,

        It is completely unimportant to the long term trend, but I wonder if it matters what portion of the earth is being scanned by the satellites in a given portion of the month relative to the moon’s location and if it makes any difference.

        In the case of the SSW event, perhaps when the tropics and south pole area are scanned makes a difference. If say the satellite scans the warm air as it comes out of the tropics and then again as it enters the south pole area, it could create a warm anomaly. I had thought that MAYBE this might have been happening when I looked thru the last couple SSW events, but when I went farther back the relationship wasn’t there. Also, when I did my SSW study, it was based on RSS which has a substantial warm bias vs HADSTT3 and UAH. The information still proved interesting and useful.

        I honestly haven’t looked into it, exactly when the measurements are taken on the different parts of the globe, how the data is compiled etc. It is not critical to what I’m doing, but it is interesting.

        • bdgwx says:

          It’s probably a question better left to Dr. Spencer, but I do know that the polar orbiters usually have short periods typically on the order of 100 minutes or so.

          I’m not sure what the meaning of HadSST3 – UAH or HadSST3 – RSS would be. I’d have to think about that a bit, but my first off the cuff thought would be HadSST3 should be increasing at a slower rate than the satellite data due to the thermodynamic differences between water and air. Something that might also be problematic is the lag between the transient climate response and equilibrium climate response. It’s definitely an interesting topic worth exploring further.

          • Scott R says:

            bdgwx,

            Here is the equation of the linear fit of HADSST3 – UAH:

            y = 0.0006x-1.0274

            Here is the equation of the linear fit of HADSST3 – RSS:

            y = -0.0069x + 13.925

            According to UAH, as the ocean warmed between 1979 and today, the atmosphere departures actually responded slightly less than the ocean. To me this makes sense, because the temperature of the upper atmosphere is cooling.

            On the other hand, HADSST3 – RSS, shows a strong negative slope. That means it got warmer faster than the ocean even though the upper atmosphere got colder. It seems very manufactured to me, seems to violate a heat transfer principle. But I understand, that is AGW theory 101 that the lower atmosphere is warming from the co2 and transferring heat to the surface. For me, the intermediate material between 2 regions will always seek equilibrium, regardless of the material type. I really recommend you read the paper I posted below.

            It is very interesting. To me, if UAH is correct, AGW is wrong because it shows the lower atmosphere is finding equilibrium between the ocean and the upper atmosphere. I’m pretty sure Dr Spencer has addressed the question before of why the UAH is more accurate than the RSS.

    • barry says:

      We played this game for a few months. I was usually betting too cool back then. Haven’t looked to see the new result (if it’s even out yet), so my guesstimate will be..

      0.26 C

  51. Phil Salmon says:

    The psychology of chaos denial continues to intrigue me. Every chaos denier has their own superficial and wrong version of what chaotic dynamics are. Every warrior of the order of the Knights Linear heroically slays the chaotic straw dragon of their own making. Bravo the latest king George.

    This is not just a climate thing – far from it. Chaos is denied across all the sciences. Academia is intensely sociobiological – how could it not be, being operated by hominids. The deterministic and linear architecture established in the physical sciences over the last 4 centuries has established an intellectual ecosystem that many learn to master to their own advantage. This ecosystem is selective as to what questions are addressed by science and which are ignored. The ones selected are those that can plausibly be addressed by the traditional deterministic methods. its like the analogy of a person on a dark night looking for his keys, searching only under street lamps.

    Chaos and related theory are deeply discomforting to denizens of the traditional deterministic ecosystem since it threatens to replace a well known and familiar knowledge structure with a disconcertingly alien one. James Gleick (no – not that Gleick) wrote a very good history of chaos theory in his book Chaos in which he described the extraordinary war that broke out in the 20th century between the fields of physics and mathematics, leading to a stare of non-communication. Irrational consequences of this include the opposite conventions of theta and phi (polar and azimuthal angle) in spherical geometry between physicists and mathematicians. Chaos theory was partly a casualty of that pointless conflict.

    The dismissing assumption about chaos in climate is that it causes only short term fluctuations that become irrelevant in the bigger picture. This is accompanied by a remarkable intellectual feat – forgetting the existence of the ocean. The ocean contains about half a billion cubic kilometres of water. That is a very large amount of heat and heat capacity. And almost all of it is in constant movement. This is why all climatic processes with timescales more than days or a week or two, are driven by the ocean. Chaotic processes in atmospheric circulation can give unpredictable weather and make weather forecasting hard. This of course can be dismissed as short term noise when contemplating something as grandiose as CO2 climate warming.

    But what about chaotic dynamics in the ocean? These exist, not requiring the permission of any surface dwelling hominids. The chaotic interactions discussed above, involving feedbacks and external periodic forcing, resulting in climate (not weather) fluctuations and oscillations in the ocean with time scales of years, decades, centuries and millennia.

    Chaos dynamics do not contradict CO2 warming necessarily. Im not knowledgeable enough in atmospheric radiative thermal physics to say what role they would play there. Although I suspect that denying chaotic processes in atmospheric thermodynamics would again be like searching for keys only under lamp-post – only accepting answers from comfortably familiar methods.

    But chaotic ocean dynamics relate most directly to the question of attribution. The climate has warmed a degree or so in the last 1-2 centuries. (Starting from the LIA.) Is this a natural process or can it all be claimed for CO2? Alarmist often make the argument it has to be CO2 because we cant think what else it could be. Connected to this is thinking that climate can only change as a result of external forcing. This is what Roy Spencer has articulated so well in his article. Chaos dynamics in simple terms means that climate can change by itself, with no external forcing. Even the term forcing itself is predjudicial and loaded with error. The ocean system is not a lumpen mass resisting any movement, so some heroically strong forcing is needed to move it. Like Thor with his hammer, Neptune with his trident or Zeus thunderbolt.

    On the contrary, in nonlinear dynamics a system like the ocean can be an excitable medium. It can readily interact with even weak external periodic forcing, and the energising presence of internal feedbacks, to produce powerful and long term oscillations and emergent pattern.

    So in short, chaos means that climate (which means the oceans) undergo constant change from internal dynamics, with or without external forcing. It takes climate science back to science basics so it looks more like a normal science where a hypothesis has to address a null hypothesis. When observing climate change, such as in the last 2 centuries, the null hypothesis is not Edenic stasis – the normal state of climate is never static. No – climate change is the null hypothesis. Once you understand chaotic dynamics it becomes obvious why climate could never ever be static.

    This is also the position of Richard Lindzen. He said in a recent interview that regular and continuous climate change could continue for a thousand years even if all inputs and outputs remained balanced and unchanging. Roy Spencer is making the same point here.

    The keys are not under a lamppost. But they can be found.

    • Norman says:

      Phil Salmon

      That was a very interesting post. It may very well be that long term ocean cycles may be far more important in determining climate cycles than atmospheric effects.

      California is in a drought now and having large fires. Is this something new? Not likely. Research has shown California has had much more severe and long term droughts in the past. All the climate patterns in California could be do to what the ocean currents are doing. These seem to be long term phenomena but may not be permanent and changes in ocean circulation could drastically change “normal” climate patterns.

      https://tinyurl.com/y3vwwyb7

    • gbaikie says:

      “This is also the position of Richard Lindzen. He said in a recent interview that regular and continuous climate change could continue for a thousand years even if all inputs and outputs remained balanced and unchanging. Roy Spencer is making the same point here.

      The keys are not under a lamppost. But they can be found.”

      It seems they can be found, but so far, they have not been found.
      The keys I am interested in, is what causes the cooling.
      I agree that ocean controls climate. Or ocean is global climate.
      We have a cold ocean. We are in a icehouse climate. We in an Ice Age and we have not left it, nor will we.
      We in a interglacial period of our Ice Age, we unlikely to leave the interglacial period, any time soon. Maybe, we could start leaving the interglacial period, but leaving interglacial periods seem to take a lot time, in terms of entering a warmest part of interglacial period as compared to warmest time of previous interglacials, it also seems possible. It seems it would take long time to get much warmer and or much cooler.

      I would say when the average ocean temperature goes from the present average temperature of about 3.5 C goes to 3 C, we have began going into a glacial period, and if the ocean warms to 4 C, then we entered warmest part of past interglacial periods.
      It seems possible to me that within in our Holocene period the ocean may have warmed up to near to 4 C {Holocene Maximum} and during Little Ice Age may cooled to about 3.3 C. Or there seems to about 5000 year period where ocean has cooled down and Little Ice Age probably the coolest in the last 5000 years, and since that time has warmed by about .2 C.
      I tend to think something caused the cooling of LIA and tend think the stopping of what caused the cooling, is why we are presently recovering. Or I don’t really think it’s a matter of chaos, though it seems it involves oceanic processes {though we obviously aren’t controlling the oceanic circulation}.
      I doubt we will return to something like LIA within a century, nor does it seem we add another .2 C to ocean temperature in less than century- but it would be nice if we did.

      • Stephen P Anderson says:

        We don’t have a warming problem-we have a cooling problem.

        • gbaikie says:

          We might have had better growing seasons {warmer conditions in the US which is the top producer of crops} this seems that within next decade it could not be as good as it was {in last several decades}.
          It’s also possible it not much of problem for US and could be a worst problem for crops of Canada {another large crop producer}, but this is not a global picture. And both countries have a technological advantage in terms farming, and technological broadly speaking, and societal advantages. In terms of farming, globally, Africa seems the most relevant. It has larger population than China or India and has had famine problems in the past- though famine problems are mostly a political/conflict problem. So Africa doesn’t seem to have a climate problem as much as political problem {a potential political problem- or it seems it might “improving” in terms of “political matters” in general.

          We have much larger problems than anything to do with global climate or regional weather.

  52. Phil Salmon says:

    October will be hottuuh.
    The hottest evvuuh.
    Once climate prediction was difficult and interesting.
    Now its easy and boring.

  53. ren says:

    The forecast of the polar vortex in the lower stratosphere indicates winter conditions in the northeast of the US and the inflow of air from northwest to Central Europe.

  54. Scott R says:

    Have you guys read this paper? Basically, it links TSI to atmospheric temperature on Venus, Earth, Titan at 1 bar. It also explains the central England recorded temperature data, evidence of the little ice age. Basically, this paper is in line with my conclusion that CO2 concentrations matter very little, and the sun is the most important forcer.

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335927448_On_the_Apparent_Relationship_Between_Total_Solar_Irradiance_and_the_Atmospheric_Temperature_at_1_Bar_on_Three_Terrestrial-type_Bodies

    • Dr Roys Emergency Moderation Team says:

      Of course! Rest assured, the Thickhouse Effect Defense Team will be along shortly to dismiss, denigrate, misrepresent, falsely accuse, and insult.

    • gbaikie says:

      “Basically, this paper is in line with my conclusion that CO2 concentrations matter very little”.

      I think CO2 doesn’t cause much warming.
      Some crazies think CO2 is responsible for “all warming” which is obviously wrong. But the general idea of the pseudo science called the “Greenhouse Effect theory” is that most warming is caused by water vapor. I think water vapor causes significantly more warming than CO2.

      It seems the paper says water vapor doesn’t cause any warming. And seems to suggest the acid clouds of Venus has not warming effect.

      With Earth, I think the largest warming effect is the ocean. We presently have a cold ocean, but this cold ocean, increases the average global temperature as compared to a planet without this ocean.
      We have been in Ice Age for more than a million years and we in the Ice Age because the ocean is cold, and during this million year the ocean temperature has had average temperature of 1 to 5 C and currently our average ocean temperature is about 3.5 C.
      During Earth long history the average temperature of the Ocean has warmer than 5 C. Much of Earth history in the last 1/2 billion years has had ocean warmer than 10 C and during such times, Earth is not in an Ice Age.
      If Earth ocean was 10 C, there would be no polar sea ice, nor would we have the polar icesheets of Antarctica or Greenland. Though one could still have glaciers at high elevations.And/or one could have snow at high elevation.

      Now what causes our average global temperature of 15 C, is the warmed surface waters. The average surface temperature of ocean is about 17 C. This is an average of tropical ocean surface temperature of about 26 C and the 60% of rest of oceans being about 11 C. The global average land surface air temperature is about 10 C. So 70% ocean at 17 C and 30% land at 10 C gives a global average surface temperature of about 15 C.

      And much warmer tropical ocean of 26 C is the earth heat engine which warms the rest of the World.
      The Tropics is also 40% of the world {and tropics is about 80% ocean area and 20% land area] and is around 26 C. The tropics has this high average temperature because in high average uniform temperature, it has warm night, and not very warm day [though a small portion of tropics are deserts which can have very high temperature days and lower temperature nights}.
      And the outside of tropics you have lower average temperature because is large difference in night and day temperature and in summer and winter temperatures.
      And btw what is global warming is reducing these wide swings of temperature. Or global warming is increasing night time temperature and winter temperatures, outside of the tropics.

      And if average temperature of the ocean was warmer, the ocean surface water outside of the tropics would remain warmer. Or global warming is having more tropical like climate outside of the tropics, less freezing at nights and winter. Tropical plants can grow further outside of the tropics- or tropical plants die in freezing or near freezing temperature.

    • Dr Roys Emergency Moderation Team says:

      I see that the GHEDT went for the other weapon in their arsenal – ignorance.

  55. John says:

    I think the term “preferred mean state” is not a “correct” way of describing the climate system, it implies a single valid condition.

    In my humble and naive view I think that there exist multiple pseudostable configurations that persist for long periods of time. Also there are many more unstable states that last for short periods of time.

    The climate system, as with any natural system that involves energy, has to achieve the lowest possible energy state; however as different individual influences change over time there are continuous changes within the whole system to maintain the lowest energy state.

    If there is a relatively large change in one of the “inputs” (which could be a direct input or a feedback loop, which may or may not be an amplified signal)) then there may develop an energy imbalance that takes the climate system out of one pseudostable state (state_1) into an unstable state (state_2) that then modifies into another pseudostable state (state_3) that is different to the original state (state_1).

    Note that periods of time may be decades, centuries, millenia or epochs in length.

  56. Transport by Zeppelin says:

    That’s a great article Dr Spencer; thanks.

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