Stossel Show: Schmidt, Spencer, & Ridley on Global Warming

March 27th, 2013 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

John Stossel interviewed me and Gavin Schmidt yesterday at the FoxNews studios in Manhattan, and I’m told he will interview Matt Ridley today, for tomorrow nights Stossel Show (9 p.m. EDT Thursday, March 28, Fox Business Channel) entitled “Green Tyranny”. As is often the case, the show might air on FoxNews Channel once or twice this weekend.

Looking for a global warming debate, Stossel said they asked 10 natural climate change deniers (sorry, my term, I couldn’t help myself), and only Gavin took them up on it. Scott Denning was also willing, but unavailable.

At least Gavin knows what he’s talking about…I’ve debated people who so badly mangled the explanation of anthropogenic climate change that I had to fix it for them so the audience wouldn’t be misled.

I thought we both held our own, although I wish I would have answered his CO2 “fingerprint” claims better. There is no CO2 fingerprint of warming; warming due to any cause (say, a slight decrease in oceanic cloudiness) will look basically the same: stronger over land than ocean (a land-vs-ocean heat capacity issue); warming *should* increase with height in the troposphere (a moist convective adjustment issue).

What could cause a natural change in clouds (as I am sometimes asked by the other side)? Well, what causes chaos?

I agreed with Gavin that stratospheric cooling might well be a fingerprint of increasing CO2, but the stratosphere involves MUCH simpler physics than the troposphere/land/ocean system, with basically just radiation operating, no clouds, and a vanishingly small heat capacity. The coupled ocean/atmosphere climate system is a nonlinear dynamical system, thus chaotic, capable of causing changes all by itself. The past evidence for natural climate change on multidecadal, centennial, and millennial time scales is abundant.

The average energy imbalance associated with ocean warming since the 1950s — so widely attributed to our CO2 emissions — is only 1 part in 1,000 (around 0.25 Watts/m2 versus average flows closer to 250 W/m2)…do we really believe the climate system is incapable of causing such imbalances all by itself? Just based upon global warming theory, I believe part of the warming *is* anthropogenic, but as I said during taping, I don’t think we have a clue how much of it.

Talking with Stossel afterward, he said he thought Gavin did a good job of articulating his position. I hope Gavin is willing to return, although I could tell he was somewhat annoyed by the conservative/libertarian vibe he was surrounded by. It will also be interesting to see what Matt Ridley has to say.

92 Responses to “Stossel Show: Schmidt, Spencer, & Ridley on Global Warming”

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  1. Icarus62 says:

    You write:

    “The coupled ocean/atmosphere climate system is a nonlinear dynamical system, thus chaotic, capable of causing changes all by itself. The past evidence for natural climate change on multidecadal, centennial, and millennial time scales is abundant.”

    Surely these two sentences are addressing different issues? Yes there is natural *unforced* variability in the climate (e.g. ENSO), but change on multidecadal, centennial and millennial timescales is unlikely without a forcing which changes the energy balance of the planet. Do we have any evidence at all for unforced changes in global temperature of more than a small fraction of the warming of the last century? Also the chaotic/stochastic/unforced changes don’t usually make any *net* change to the heat content of the climate system – some heat may be released from the ocean to the atmosphere during El Nino years but it is balanced by cooler La Nina years and there is no reason to believe that ENSO can cause a sustained trend in global temperature over the long term (decades and longer)… as far as I’m aware.

  2. I would say the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age are evidence enough. Time scales of the thermohaline circulation are up to a 1,000 years or more, so the ocean has a very long memory of past variations. To believe that there are no net “unforced” changes to 1 part in 1000 in energy flux requires more faith than I can muster.

    Even the climate models have trouble keeping the oceans from changing on long time scales…I’ve blogged on this before. Their deep ocean temperatures vary considerably on 100 year time scales, both warming and cooling.

    There is nothing that says the radiative energy balance of the planet must remain static, other than the repeated assumptions of those who have a vested interest in it being static.

  3. Kudo’s to Gavin for doing this. Has he turned over a new leaf and stopped being so damned stubborn? I hope so.

    If more climate scientists would stop looking at this like a war, and just explain the science as they see it, we would all be so much better off.

    • David Appell says:

      It seems to me many scientists have tried to explain the science as they see it — Hansen, Santer, Mann, etc — and look where that got them. Attacked.

      • Santer has changed sides if his last paper is anything to go by. Mann and Hansen are extremists so deserve to be attacked just as some “sceptics” have been. (Although typically by other sceptics.)

  4. Jos says:

    The idea that the recent stratospheric cooling is related to CO2 is – to my knowledge – incorrect. As Polvani and Solomon state [GRL, 2012]:

    “Confirming and extending earlier studies we find that, over the second half of the 20th Century, the model’s lower-stratospheric cooling caused by ozone depletion is several times larger than that induced by increasing greenhouse gases. Moreover, our model suggests that the response to different forcings is highly additive. Finally we demonstrate that when ozone depletion alone is prescribed in the model, the seasonal cycle of the resultant cooling
    trends in the lower stratosphere is quite similar to that recently reported in satellite and radiosonde observations: this constitutes strong, new evidence for the key role of ozone depletion on tropical lower-stratospheric temperature trends.”

    • Roy Spencer says:

      That’s the lower stratosphere, and doesn’t include more recent measurements. The middle and upper stratosphere seem to be cooling more rapidly than the lower stratosphere, based upon AMSU measurements since 1998 which extend into the upper stratosphere. This signature is more consistent with increasing CO2, from what I understand.

      • Bucky Cochrane says:

        Kirchoff’s law is satisfied at the tropopause so I do not understand how more GHG cools the stratosphere. A 30 percent bond albedo means about 238 watts per sq. meter will be emitted into space at the tropopause (and lower stratosphere) regardless of any greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect does not change the amount of radiant solar energy absorbed by the earth, and so does not change what is to be radiated back into space to satisfy Kirchoff’s law. So, how do GHG’s affect stratosphere temps?

        Similarly, since there is no intermediate quantum level between the ground state of CO2 and the bending mode excited by absorption of 666cm-1 IR photons, how can CO2 heat air? The momentum of the molecule is increased by Planck’s constant/wavelength; an immeasurably small number. Therefore, no increase in momentum, no added temperature. Where am I wrong here?

        • Icarus62 says:

          Stratospheric cooling would be a temporary effect, until radiative equilibrium is restored.

          If atmospheric CO2 rises, infrared opacity of the atmosphere increases, and the effective radiating level of the atmosphere rises to a higher, colder level – hence less IR is emitted, again until equilibrium is restored.

        • Thomas says:

          The reason we have a stratosphere with a temperature inversion is that it absorbs UV from the sun rather than just being heated from below. Without this absorption temperature would just continue to drop with altitude. If you add more CO2 in the stratosphere it will not absorb more UV, but the CO2 will help it emit more IR, thus giving a net cooling effect.

        • Roy Spencer says:

          GHGs in the stratosphere affect the troposphere, and vice versa, simply because every atmospheric layer which absorbs and emits IR affects every other layer that absorbs and emits IR.

          The net effect of GHGs during this process is to decrease the temperature the upper atmosphere and increase the temperature of the lower atmosphere, compared to if GHGs did not exist.

          The tropopause separates the convectively unstable troposphere from the stable stratosphere, which (as others have pointed out) is mainly heated through UV absorption by ozone.

          • Bucky Cochrane says:

            Numbers: the absorption of a 15 micron photon increases the velocity of a CO2 molecule by about .00006 m/sec. The average velocity of said molecule at room temperature is around 400 m/sec. So, such absorption does not measurably change the temperature of the molecule. (T=(1/2)mv^2/(3/2k). Therefore, CO2 cannot directly heat the atmosphere (the re-emitted photons can heat the earth’s surface of course). The energy of the photon is contained in the lowest excited state of the molecule, has no momentum, and must be released as a photon of (nearly) the same wavelength as it absorbed. This picture is consistent with Einstein’s 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect.
            So, how can GHG absorption by any layer of the atmosphere directly influence any other layer of the atmosphere? This is to me a fundamental question in the discussion and based on the physics here, I must be missing something.

          • Steve says:

            Stossel’s guest who advocated the concept that the global warming trend is “greenhouse induced” left me with the following summation of his concept:

            “We scientists have reached this conclusion by elimination, because we have accounted for ALL the causes of previous fluctuations in climate change (sun spots; influences from space; etc., etc.) during earth’s history. Since none these causative factors exist during the current period of climate change, that leaves only man’s contribution in the form of “greenhouse” emissions from fossil fuels to blame”.

            Honestly sir, such an opinion would not withstand a “Daubert” challenge in open court. And the reason, of course, is because the explanation is no better than that attributed to mythological gods, during that time. Specifically, modern science has obviously NOT accounted for all possible influences on climate change throughout earth’s history (itself a rather preposterous statement for any scientist to make, let alone most), even if that includes greenhouse emissions.

            I suppose my problem is that, having had somewhat of a scientific major (biochemistry) in college, I return to my pivotal question: “Is it possible to experiment this and reproduce man-made global warming (i.e, could we raise global temperatures by even 1 degree, if we tried and really wanted to)?” I remain skeptical that we could.

            The remedies, too, add to the skepticism. And the reason is that all remedies seem to constitute nothing more than penalties against those not engaged in polluting, so much, as they are penalties against successes of free market capitalism. The Kyoto treaty proposal speaks for itself.

          • David Appell says:

            Steve, it seems to me your interpretation is incorrect. It isn’t a case of process of elimination — anthropogenic GHGs are expected to cause warming and other changes, and observations have demonstrated changes:

            “Increases in greenhouse forcing inferred from the outgoing longwave radiation spectra of the Earth in 1970 and 1997,” J.E. Harries et al, Nature 410, 355-357 (15 March 2001).

          • David Appell says:

            Apparently links can’t be posted here, but here are the other papers I had in mind:

            “Increases in greenhouse forcing inferred from the outgoing longwave radiation spectra of the Earth in 1970 and 1997,” J.E. Harries et al, Nature 410, 355-357 (15 March 2001).

        • Geoff wood says:

          Bucky. I know I’ve used terms such as ‘locked out of equipartition’ to describe to people the difference between thermalised absorption and non-thermal scattering. I totally agree that a vibrational mode is susceptible to IR, but also ‘locked out of equipartition’ with modes that require momentum to describe them. That is without the intervention of a third party during the reaction window, to cancel net momentum change. I believe this is the reason for CO2 to emit spontaneously or by stimulation.
          I totally disagree however, with the notion that 15um radiation can ‘heat’ the ground. With a mean thermal emission of 10um, the ground is ‘not’ heated, or held or limited in its cooling by 15um. That cannot maintain its mean thermal kinetics.

  5. Hops says:

    Have you all seen this study out of BU that claims certain theories of natural causes, such as heat coming out of the oceans, are disproven?


    • Roy Spencer says:

      There really is nothing new in the BU study. The estimate of surface warming from only a decrease in the vertical circulation of the ocean is bogus because the required cooling in the deep ocean would be so small it is unmeasurable…we don’t measure than deep anyway.

      Just because the potential reasons for natural warming due to a change in global radiative energy balance put out by skeptics are “innumerable” and not easily tested doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

      Yes, increasing CO2 is currently the most obvious single explanation for warming, but that’s because we can measure CO2 accurately over the last 50 years, and we understand the radiative forcing effect of CO2 quite accurately…but we can’t measure global cloud cover over the last 50 years accurately. And a 1% decrease in albedo from cloud changes would rival the forcing from increasing CO2.

      So, while natural forcing mechanisms are indeed speculative, their speculative nature is due to how poor our knowledge is of natural causes of climate change. If we (for example) actually had accurate global albedo measurements extending back 50 years, it would be a different situation. But we don’t. So, scientists blame the only thing they understand reasonably well: CO2.

      • Hops says:

        Not to be argumentative, but this article was published just yesterday about the deep ocean warming:


      • Icarus62 says:

        You seem to accept that we understand the radiative forcing of CO2 and other GHGs quite accurately, and that the observed global warming is consistent with the net effect of GHG warming and the estimated aerosol cooling (and a few other more minor influences).

        That being the case, wouldn’t any as-yet-unquantified *natural* forcings have to balance each other out pretty well perfectly?

        Say there was actually a 1% decrease in albedo from cloud changes – by your argument we would expect to see double the observed global warming, would we not? Therefore there would also have to be yet another undiscovered forcing, this time in the cooling direction, to offset the warming from lowered cloud albedo and leave just the anthropogenic influences we know about, to cause the expected warming.

        Isn’t that a bit of a stretch? The only alternative would be to argue that the anthropogenic aerosol forcing is actually *much* larger than currently estimated, to offset this hypothesised large natural warming forcing.

        • Ken Gregory says:

          When Dr. Spencer says “we understand the radiative forcing effect of CO2 quite accurately”, he is referring to the 3.7 W/m2 of forcing for a doubling of CO2. We also know fairly accurately the temperature response to a doubling of CO2 of the climate system assuming nothing else changes, ie, keeping albedo, water vapor distribution, clouds, lapse rate, jet stream position, etc the same. This no-feedback response is about 0.313 C/W/m2. So the no-feedback temperature response to double CO2 is about 0.31 X 3.7 W/m2 = 1.1 C. This tells us nothing about the actual temperature response because clouds and water vapor will change.

          We can estimate the actual temperature effect by calculating the effect on outgoing longwave radiation of changes in water vapor at various level in the atmosphere. Radiosonde data shows declining water vapor in the upper atmosphere. Calculations at;
          suggest that doubling CO2 would cause a temperature rise of 0.4 C. Note that a water vapor change in the 300 mb to 200 mb layer (about 10 km to 13 km altitude) has 81 times the effect on OLR than the same change in the 1013 mb to 850 mb near-surface layer. Therefore, even if the total water vapor increases in the atmosphere, a small reduction in the upper atmosphere overwhelms by effect an increase in the lower atmosphere. The radiation balance is determined mainly in the upper atmosphere.

          Recently release NASA satellite data confirms that water vapor in the upper atmosphere has declined causing a cooling effect that is 16 times greater than the warming effect from man-made greenhouse gas emissions during the period 1990 to 2001, as shown at;

          This means that natural climate change caused most of the 20th century warming. There is a great deal of evidence that the sun causes most of the warming. Strong correlations of solar magnetic activity over numerous warming and cooling cycles to temperature changes suggest that the sun is the main driver of climate. However, as Dr. Spenser says, ocean cycles may also change by chaos over long time periods, affecting cloud cover.

          The IPCC assigned a large positive feedback to match the 20th century temperature rise, thereby mis-attributing natural warming to CO2 warming.

      • Geoff wood says:

        “We understand the radiative forcings of CO2 quite accurately”. Dr Spencer, can I remind you sir of the very adamant postings by ‘Spartacusisfree’. His objections to the notion of a radiative greenhouse effect are entirely valid. The shear opacity of CO2 within and around 15um leads to the conclusions he communicated. In band, the spectral opacity of CO2 is only metres at current atmospheric abundances. This means that the land or ocean ‘sees’ and radiatively exchanges with, the CO2 only a few metres away within that spectral band. What it ‘sees’ is something that exists at the same, or very similar temperature as itself due to that proximity. Heat travels as a result of a thermal gradient which, obviously, does ‘not’ occur between objects that are very close with no mechanism to provide or sustain a gradient. This system is very close to equilibrium as you would expect from any objects irrespective of properties in proximity at similar temperatures with all heat transfer mechanisms forcing highest entropy. Therefore the emitting surface emits ‘no heat’ in that band. Or as mr Spartacusisfree said ‘it annihilates the surface emissivity in that band at source’. The land or sea ‘never’ loses any heat in that band to thermally coupled CO2, ‘that road is blocked’. the Earth already uses other routes! Unless you increase resolution to incorporate the lapse rate on a m-1 basis. Then we see that the radiative transfer from the surface into any absorptive band at any optical depth merely supports the thermal gradient already set by gravity, as this sets the relative temperatures as a result of investment of kinetics in potential height. The onset of opacity, the median and the latter stages of absorption all lie along a linear path that supports and maintains the thermal gradient. Are we in disagreement about ‘how heat travels’, does it ‘not’ require a thermal gradient either spectral or broadband?

        • gallopingcamel says:

          As you say CO2 is an effective absorber at some wavelengths which means that it contributes to heat transfer near the Earth’s surface. You could say the same about convection, baroclinic eddies and phase changes associated with water in its several forms.

          In the troposphere, radiative tranfer of energy is one of many processes that move heat around. The gas equations and themodynamics don’t care how the heat is transferred.

          • Geoff wood says:

            I fully agree that all available means of heat transfer respond to the instantaneous thermal gradient they observe. But, I did ‘not’ say that high opacity lead to a contribution to radiative heat transfer. If you would care to read again, I said exactly the opposite! Radiation dominates at low opacity. A vacuum being the ultimate domain for radiation. High opacity stops the throughput of radiative heat transfer but in doing so, just hands the reigns over to convection. The Sun’s radiative and convective layer are in thermodynamic equilibrium at the tachocline even though through changes in ‘material state’ the opacity changes wildly. Still the throughput of energy remains the same from shell to overlying shell. I fully agree that the gas laws and thermodynamics don’t care about the mode of transfer of heat. All available modes answer to thermal gradients. The temporal evolution of all such gradients within a coupled system is a matter of extreme complexity. The gas laws and thermodynamics allow a statistical macroscopic simplification that is proven and dependable. In my opinion studying one aspect of a coupled system such as ‘back radiation’ completely misses the point. If we step back and compare all known atmospheres the space age has allowed us to measure, we have to accept that ultimately atmospheric composition is irrelevant. The netted heating and cooling capability of any component must cancel.

      • Rob JM says:

        Actually we have 30 years of cloud data and it shows a distinctive 5% decrease in cloud cover in the mid 90s. It accounts for 3/4 of the 0.4 deg C warming observed during the satellite period. Check out on the clouds page!

        OLR at the top of the atmosphere increased around the same time confirming short wave forcing as increasing OLR obviously cant happen if warming was caused by GHGs!

  6. Adam Gallon says:

    Nice to see that one of “The Team” is prepared to discuss this publically.
    I was disgusted by Dr Mann’s public announcement that he refused to debate with Dr Spencer.

    • gallopingcamel says:

      Michael does not want to debate people who disagree with hin as he does not respect them or their ideas.

      That works both ways.

      Is there anyone left who trusts Michael Mann or his Hockey Stick?

  7. John Parsons says:

    Icarus62–very nicely put. I’ve never understood how skeptics could accept an extremely improbable set of unknown contervailing forcings over the basic physics of one known forcing. JP

    • Geoff wood says:

      ‘One known forcing’ being the Sun, obviously!

      • John Parsons says:

        Your making the exact mistake Icaru62 was describing. If the Sun is causing the rise in temps, then what is the mysterious unknown forcing that exactly balances out the warming caused by CO2? And why do you need to postulate such a forcing? JP

        • John Parsons says:

          Sorry, [You’re].

          • Geoff wood says:

            If I have removed from the equation the ‘assumption’ that CO2 causes warming, then I don’t have to balance that in any way shape or form. All atmospheres are thermodynamic with back radiation being a ‘product’.

  8. UzUrBrain says:

    Look over the August 2010 National Geographic article the “Bahamas Blue Holes”. Note the cyclical, ~125,000 year change in ocean level. Note the previous high levels. Note the average global temperature that would be associated with these levels. Draw your own conclusions. NatGeo even has the graph! I noted that there were many periods with the ocean levels as much as ten feet above present in the last million years. How did Man cause this?? How can Man stop this???

    • John Parsons says:

      Man did not cause those rises. Depending on what did; man may, or may not, be able to change thoses effects in the future. If increased atmospheric CO2 were to cause a rise in sea levels, man could stop those rises by not increasing atmospheric CO2. Not too complicated. JP

  9. Thanks, Dr. Spencer for appearing in Stossel’s “Green Tyranny”. I will be looking for it in FoxNews.

  10. Greg Goodknight says:

    Schmidt wouldn’t even sit down next to you?

    I guess he’s still smarting from losing badly to Lindzen, Crichton & Stott in 2007,in a formal debate of the question “Global Warming is not a crisis” dropping from a 2:1 advantage to start, to losing his liberal NYC audience by 5%.

  11. Joe Born says:

    Dr. Spencer:

    Nice job tonight on Stossel.

    It’s too bad you were allocated such a short time. It’s always the case in such situations that onlookers like me wish that the advocate had made some point or another that he didn’t, and this case is no exception. But, given the time you were allowed, your choice of pointing out (1) the humanitarian costs of impoverishing ourselves–well, others anyway–by expensive energy, and (2) that many who agree with you keep silent so as not to lose funding was probably a good one.

  12. apachewhoknows says:

    1. Only One thing.

    It is not about C02, it is not about clouds, it is not about the sun, it is not about chaos, it is not about science, it is not about any of that.
    It is about political power and redistrubution of wealth.

    Fight the real fight, this other crap of how much C02 in coke or cow farts is just shadow boxing, and that is what they want as they go about collecting taxes, votes and power.

    • Bucky Cochrane says:

      AMEN !!
      But real science must be used to expose them. Lacking this, the laypeople will believe them perhaps long enough for them to accomplish their purpose. Remember Goebbels regarding the big lie.

  13. J says:

    I agree with you totally, Get a twitter! You would have had thousands of followers in one night. I want to follow common sense.


  14. Ken Gregory says:

    Bucky Cochrane says:

    The greenhouse effect does not change the amount of radiant solar energy absorbed by the earth, and so does not change what is to be radiated back into space to satisfy Kirchoff’s law. So, how do GHG’s affect stratosphere temps?

    An increase in GHG causes the troposphere to warm (because temperatures decline with altitude) and causes the stratosphere to cool(because temperatures increase with altitude). With increased GHG, there is greater upward longwave radiation emitted from the troposphere directly to space (because the air is warmer than before) and there is less upward longwave radiation emitted from the stratosphere directly to space (because the air is cooler than before). At equilibrium, the increase in upward radiation from the troposphere is equal to the decrease in upward radiation from the stratosphere, both directly to space without being reabsorbed, so there is no change in total outgoing longwave radiation, assuming no change in incoming net of albedo shortwave radiation from the sun.

  15. Ken Gregory says:

    Icarus62 says:

    Stratospheric cooling would be a temporary effect, until radiative equilibrium is restored.

    If atmospheric CO2 rises, infrared opacity of the atmosphere increases, and the effective radiating level of the atmosphere rises to a higher, colder level

    • Geoff wood says:

      CO2’s absorbency is spectral. Mainly around 15um. The Earth emits mainly at around 10um. Modtran gets the 300K spectral peak WRONG. Check on Wien calculator. The Earth has no difficulty through clear sky radiating excess into space!

      • Geoff wood says:

        The atmospheric window is between 8 and 12um with Earth’s main emission at 10um. Anyone will struggle to argue with me that the Earth’s cooling is forced through clear sky when it’s main emissions lie within the atmospheric window. The main ability to radiate is unhindered. Warming takes the peak further away from CO2’s intervention. A warm object includes the kinetics of a cooler object . Heat travels between ‘differences’, as a result of statistical certainty. There is nothing to stop the Earth cooling through clear sky. Although that is just another confirmation of something that is already within the control of thermodynamics.

  16. Ken Gregory says:

    Hmm, my reply disappeared. I said in response to Icarus62, No, the stratospheric cooling would be a permanent effect in response to an increase in greenhouse gases. The stratosphere would cool and emit less longwave radiation to space and the troposphere would warm and emit more longwave radiation directly to space, so at equilibrium the total outgoing radiation would not change.
    Yes, the effective radiation level of the total atmosphere would rise with an increase in greenhouse gases and the temperature of the troposphere would increase (and the stratosphere temperature decrease)such that the total outgoing radiation at would be the same as before.

    • Jon says:

      Water vapour acts as a “regulator” with both positive and negative feedbacks. Around.the Equator oceans, where most of the energy from the Sun is received and the defacto max temperature is around 30 deg C, I have problems with the idea that more GHGs is going to make it warmer? Even adding more air density will not help here because water vapour would kick in with the negative feedback clouds to stop it getting warmer than aprox 30 deg C?
      Technically “Global Warming” should give us more high clouds, Cu, Cunimbus etc?

    • Icarus62 says:

      Thanks Ken, that seems to make sense.

  17. Irradiance says:

    An alternate mechanism for stratospheric cooling would be through Solar Proton Events interacting with the atmosphere to produce an Ozone Depleting Substance known as NOx. Less Ozone would allow for less sunlight to be absorbed in the stratosphere, and thus stratospheric cooling would be observed. CFCs have also significantly contributed to this Ozone Depletion as well, but this seems to be another case of natural and anthropogenic factors having a significant influence on the environmental factors.

    Winkler et al. (2007) found that when the intensity of Earth’s Magnetic Field decreased, the impacts on Ozone increased. This observation can be explained by the Earth’s Magnetic Field shielding the Earth from Solar Protons. When the Magnetic Field weakens, it allows for more Solar Protons to enter the Earth’s Atmosphere, thus depleting more Ozone.

    The Earth’s Magnetic Field has in fact been decreasing in intensity over the last 100 years or so, as seen here, thus favoring more Solar Protons to enter the Earth’s Atmosphere:

    A 2009 paper by Liu and Weng found that in recent years, the trend in stratospheric temperatures has reversed to a stratospheric warming trend. This is evidence that Greenhouse Gases are not the primary cause of the stratospheric cooling observed:

    The authors attribute the recent Stratospheric Warming to recovering Ozone in the Stratosphere, likely caused by decreasing Solar Activity and the reduction in CFCs in the upper atmosphere.

  18. Doug Proctor says:

    “The average energy imbalance associated with ocean warming since the 1950s — so widely attributed to our CO2 emissions — is only 1 part in 1,000 (around 0.25 Watts/m2 versus average flows closer to 250 W/m2)…”

    Recently NASA (?) changed the TOA TSI by 1 W/m2, and other writers have pointed out that our analysis of TSI fails to account for all of the UV AND our data is captured only at about 450 (or 600 km, can’t remember, doesn’t matter), so there is a portion of the TSI we aren’t measuring. Then we have the problem of estimating cloud cover not just by global averages but by regions, position in Earth’s orbit (which causes the TSI to swing by 6.8% due to eccentricity) and particular weather. Are we measuring or assuming that the year-to-year global RETENTION/ABSORPTION is within 0.25 W/m2 out of whatever it is?

    I as this if only because what we receive – as you note – is never precisely stated: “average flows closer to 250 W/m2”.

    Trenberth goes to all the trouble of suspecting “deep” ocean sequestration of the “missing” heat, when I cannot see reason to believe we can measure ACCURATELY to the level of precision.

    Proxies have shown us in Marcott’s case as well as others, that dumping everything into a blender gives us AN answer that is statistically, mathematically correct, but one that fails to reflect what is actually going on. There is an assumption made that the mean by this method reflects the ultimate effect, while leaving out details that are unknowable. Is this not the case with the Earth’s energy balance, that we have a limit to knowledge greater than the 0.25 W/m2 amount being argued about?

    Errors balance out ONLY if the up errors equal the down errors. We have seen how GISTemp “corrections” are NOT equal (according to GISS), so any errors in magnitude will tend to warm rather than cool the net result.

    In energy balancing, any initial error in TSI propagates all the way through the analysis not as a proportion but as a specific W/m2 because we use a subtractive method to find what is being absorbed by the Earth. The other aspects of energy balance work also involves a +/- that MAY average out, but may not, because (for one thing) there aren’t enough of them to provide a statistically good chance of the net balance being zero.

    I cannot believe that all of the factors involving the Earth’s energy balance have been more-or-less continually monitored all year for multiple years to provide a 0.25 W/m2 certainty level, or an error level of perhaps 0.10 W/m2 out of a TSI whose power variation through the year change the initial parameters of all the subfeatures by of +/- 23.2 W/m2.

  19. Dikran Marsupial says:

    “What could cause a natural change in clouds (as I am sometimes asked by the other side)? Well, what causes chaos?”

    Chaotic phenomena are deterministic, but unpredictable due to uncertainty in initial conditions, not uncertainty regarding the causal mechanism. There are many examples of chaotic systems where we know *exactly* what gives rise to their behaviour, e.g. a double pendulum. So responding to a question regarding the causal mechanism behind natural change in clouds in this way is a pretty poor scientific answer, but quite good rhetoric; “I don’t know” would have been the other way round, which I for one would have found more compelling.

    • Roy Spencer says:

      I think you are missing my point. We understand weather processes very well, but we can’t forecast beyond 5-7 days or so, due to sensitive dependence on initial conditions.

      The same thing can happen in the coupled ocean-atmosphere system on long time scales. In a word, chaos.

  20. Stephen Pruett says:

    John Parsons, your statement, “not too complicated” is the major problem in climate science. When asked why he was so certain that CO2 was the main driver of climate change, Phil Jones stated (I’m paraphrasing here), because we can’t think of anything else that might be doing it. Wow! If someone gave that answer in my field of research he/she would be laughed off the podium. We’re sure because we don’t know what it is that we don’t know! More importantly, whether it is unlikely or not, for the last 17 years something has counteracted the forcing of increased CO2. I have read more than one proposed explanation on blogs and published studies, which suggests to me that there are several plausible mechanisms that could counteract CO2-mediated warming.

    • john parsons says:

      “…there are several plausible mechanisms that could counteract CO2-mediated warming.” “Could”?Would you bet the Earth’s climate on that? JP

  21. Doug Proctor says:

    Dikran Marsupial says:
    March 29, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    Since you are being picky: the pieces behind chaotic phenomena are deterministic, but uncertainty behind initial conditions AND uncertainty in synergistic relationships, possibly non-linear in nature, otherwise known as “unknown elements” cause the phenomena to be “chaotic”, a broad term meaning that we can’t predict the outcome. Yet.

    Language is an attempt to define the undefinable, to nail down that which can’t be nailed down, to bottle up that which is too large or too strangely shaped to go into a bottle. Words are not the object they attempt to represent.

    William James, pragmatist, reflected greatly on our limits to both understanding and explaining. What is important is understanding what we are trying to communicate; reductionism fails when the whole is not simply a sum of the parts.

  22. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Doug, the “synergistic relationships” are deterministic, otherwise it is a stochastic system, rather than a chaotic one – chaotic systems are deterministic by definition, so there is always a causal mechanism. The point remains, if Dr Spencer doesn’t have a causal mechanism for his hypothesis then he should simply have said “I don’t know”, rather than bluster to avoid answering a difficult question directly and openly.

    • Roy Spencer says:

      Again, the ocean-atmosphere system is nonlinear, and contains natural modes of variability we don’t understand. To believe that such a system magically maintains radiative energy balance to much better than 1 part in 1,000 is pure speculation. To say “I don’t know what would cause natural cloud changes” is wrong…I can give a number of possibilities, based upon what we know influences cloud formation/dissipation. But our measurements are not good enough yet to document any of them. Just because we happen to understand CO2 so much better doesn’t mean it therefore contains all of the answers.

      • Dikran Marsupial says:

        Well if you do know, then why not just say so (of course mentioning the uncertainties). I really don’t understand why people don’t just give direct answers to direct questions when discussing climate science, it is the norm elsewhere in science.

  23. Irradiance says:

    An interesting feature with Global Ozone Concentrations, is that there appears to be variability along the trend that almost looks like the 11 year solar cycle:

    • Geoff wood says:

      Obviously you are taking the ‘mickey’. Ozone is produced by UVC, which is highly variable at around 16%. Low solar UV as we have currently results in less ozone production, and stratospheric cooling as absorption of UVC and UVB both become kinetic. Resulting in stratospheric reduction and possibly mesospheric collapse (SSW), during these times of change.

      • Irradiance says:

        Geoff, you also have to take in consideration about the increased numbers of solar proton events as the sun becomes more active. These solar storms can destroy a large amount of ozone in the stratosphere, and are arguably, one of the sun’s most dramatic impacts on the Earth’s environment. Again, there is a reason why the sun has a larger influence when the intensity of Earth’s magnetic field declines, as observed by winkler et al. 2007.

  24. Geoff wood says:

    Sorry, that was unfair, you are entirely correct Ozone is a direct product of active Sun. My apologies.

  25. David Appell says:

    Dr Spencer, you told Stossel that it’s stopped warming in the last 10 years. But doesn’t your own data show this isn’t true?

    I find the OLS trend for UAH LT for the last 10 years is 0.05 +/- 0.05 C/decade (uncertainty = 1-sigma). That differs from zero with a statistical significance of 73%.

    But that aside, surely you know that, even in a CO2-warming world, there are many factors that can combine to cause flat surface temperatures for a decade. Why wasn’t this brought out — that there is simply too much noise in the climate system to make any judgements about GHG warming?

    Ocean heat content shows heat still being added to the system — in fact, Trenberth’s paper last week shows it jumping way up in the last 10 years:

    • Roy Spencer says:

      what about RSS LT? And the surface data? I would say, all datasets considered together, there has been no statistically significant warming. And last I saw the Levitus ocean heat content, 0-700 m, it was pretty close to flat for the last 10 years.

      But *even if* there has been a small amount of warming in the last 15 years, it is well below the rate of warming predicted by the IPCC. THAT is the most important thing…not whether there has-or-has-not been “warming”.

      I don’t think the “no warming” meme is one that is terribly useful…in fact, I will be surprised if some amount of warming doesn’t resume in the next few years. But when you try to get more technical on TV shows, it gets edited out. Both Gavin and I had comments left out, which is inevitable…they only have so much time to fit everything in.

      • john parsons says:

        Dr. Roy, if “skeptics” were all as reasonable (read: rational) as you, many of us who believe that CO2 could be a danger to our planet would be much more likely to find common policy grounds.

        I believe David is absolutely correct in his analysis, and although you mention Levitus to 700m; if OHC below that level were included, I think you would have to agree to his assertions. Additionaly, I know of know ten year predictions made by the IPCC. Their predictions are, as far as I’m aware, all in regards to climate, not short term natural variations. Correct me if I’m wrong.

        The fact that you disavow the 10yr “cooling” meme (15, 16, 17, as some would have it) only adds to your already substantial credibility. JP

      • Dikran Marsupial says:

        “no statistically significant warming” does NOT mean that there has been no warming, just that there is insufficient evidence to effectively rule out the possibility that there has been no warming. In this case, a ten year period is too short for the statistical hypothesis test to have useful power.

        If someone wants to argue that there has been no warming, then the null hypothesis that they need to be able to reject is that warming has continued at the same rate. That is the way hypothesis testing should be used, you take the null hypothesis as being the opposite of the claim you would like to make and only procede if it can be rejected.

        The last time I looked, for a ten year trend, the error bars on the tren include both zero and warming at the previous rate, so neither can be ruled out. However the main reason for this is that the error bars are very wide, which indicates that the test has little power and nobody should try to draw any conclusions from it.

        The observed warming is below the rate considered the most likely by the IPCC, but it is well withing the spread of the models on which that projection was made, so the observed warming is not inconsistent with the IPCC projection.

        • Massimo PORZIO says:

          “That is the way hypothesis testing should be used, you take the null hypothesis as being the opposite of the claim you would like to make and only procede if it can be rejected.”
          Nice to read some word of wisdom such those.
          Do you can tell me where I can found the null hypothesis which give to the CO2 the role of “heater” for the warming experienced in last centuries?

          To all:
          Have an happy Easter

          • Dikran Marsupial says:

            Null hypothesis testing cannot be used to apportion roles in that manner, all it does is determine whether some other hypothesis (the null) is plausible or not, given the observations, that is all. If you want to determine causes, you need physics, not statistics. That CO2 is a greenhouse gas is widely accepted by pretty much everybody, as Dr Spencer says (on his global warming 101):

            “It has been calculated theoretically that, if there are no other changes in the climate system, a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration would cause less than 1 deg C of surface warming (about 1 deg. F). This is NOT a controversial statement

  26. Gordon Robertson says:

    Roy…I find it sad to see you on a first name basis with Schmidt. I think the guy is a horse’s bleep. As far as knowing what he is talking about, he was exposed as a dimwit by Jeffrey Glassman on the physics behind positive feedback, yet that obvious contradiction of the 2nd law is front and centre in the anthropogenic theory.

    If a guy can’t explain positive feedback how is he going to program a model that relies on it? That’s obviously why modelers have erred on the concept of feedback created by ACO2.

    His buddy, Michael Mann, with whom he runs realclimate, got himself in deep doo doo in the Climategate email scandal. Schmidt rushed to his defense on realclimate, explaining that Mike’s trick was just a play on words. Some play. The trick was a device to hide the decline in proxy temperatures by clipping off the decline and attaching real data.

    I think Schmidt has done more to set climate science back than he has in advancing the science. He blocked Steve Mcintyre from the realclimate site for nothing, basically because he disagreed with their science. He was not rude but he was one of the team that proved Mann’s hockey stick used fraudulent statistics and proxies.

    This is not the first time you have offered an olive branch to that mob. I wish you’d cease and desist. I have a feeling you are trying to be civil with them but I’m afraid you’ll never cut throw their arrogance with civility. You’ll be regarded as a sap.

    Any guy who claims the science of Dick Lindzen is old school, while his science is ready for text books, is living in a dream world.

    • Schmidt has also admitted that he did not know about the Schmidt number and what it is used for. That is, he has admitted that he does not understand heat and mass transfer (particularly evaporation & condensation). Further, it is clear he does not under fluid dynamics. That of course applies to others who like to fiddle with numbers and have had no practical experience with heat transfer.

  27. Massimo PORZIO says:

    @Dikran Marsupial

    Yes, I agree. My one was a rhetorical question, It’s a long time I ask for physics, which is a true science. Statistic instead could be science, but it should be taken with the velvet gloves. Too many times statistic has been used to prove anything and nothing about the some thing.


    Uhmmm… Yes, calculated theoretically starting from assumptions such as the theoretical missing GHGs isothermal atmosphere. Does anybody checked if that “theoretical” atmosphere really fits the law of physics?
    In my opinion, there are too much discrepancy between know laws of gas and that hypothetical atmosphere.
    I’m an electronic engineer, I believe (yes, just a believe) that changing the atmospheric composition something changes to the climate of course, but I don’t believe that the climatologist are so close to assert for sure that 1

  28. Massimo PORZIO says:

    @Dikran Marsupial


  29. Massimo PORZIO says:

    @Dikran Marsupial


  30. Massimo PORZIO says:

    Sorry, but I’m unable to reply. The messages are missing some parts.

  31. Massimo PORZIO says:

    @Dikran Marsupial


  32. Massimo PORZIO says:

    @Dikran Marsupial

    Uhmmm… I don

  33. Massimo PORZIO says:

    @Dikran Marsupial

    Uhmmm… I don’t know what happened to my previous messages, maybe I used such kind of “bad characters” in it, because It has a couple of minor and major signs instead of the references I did to your statements, and it is missing the final part.

    Anyways, I repeat it here below:

    “you need physics, not statistics.”
    Yes, I agree. My one was a rhetorical question, It’s a long time I ask for physics, which is a true science. Statistic instead could be science, but it should be taken with the velvet gloves. Too many times statistic has been used to prove anything and nothing about the some thing.

    “That CO2 is a greenhouse gas is widely accepted by pretty much everybody, as Dr Spencer says (on his global warming 101): It has been calculated theoretically that, if there are no other changes in the climate system, a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration would cause less than 1 deg C of surface warming (about 1 deg. F). This is NOT a controversial statement”

    Uhmmm… Yes, calculated theoretically starting from assumptions such as the theoretical missing GHGs isothermal atmosphere. Does anybody checked if that “theoretical” atmosphere really fits the law of physics?
    In my opinion, there are too much discrepancy between know laws of gas and that hypothetical atmosphere.
    I’m an electronic engineer, I believe (yes, Oust a believe) that changing the atmospheric composition something changes to the climate of course, but I don’t believe that the climatologist are so close to assert for sure that 1C is the right change for the CO2 doubling.
    To evaluate how much (and if) thermal energy is “blocked” by the GHGs we must measure it at the TOA.
    We didn’t it till today.
    Until I’ll see a spectrogram of the TOA made via an integrating sphere in front of the LWIR spectrometer slit, I still remain skeptic about that 1C per CO2 doubling.

    Have an Happy Easter


    • Dikran Marsupial says:

      Massimo, generally those from one field of study making pronouncements that some idea not considered contraversial in another are simply mistaken. Don’t confuse simple dumbed down explanations of the greenhouse effect that are used to explain the basic physics to the general public with those models actually used by the scientists. The models actually used by climatologists do not involve an “isothermal atmosphere” (in fact the lapse rate appears to be a key component), so it appears that your understanding of the climate models is somewhat faulty. Also we can and have observed the spectra of outbound IR radiation, and it gives a very good match to that predicted by the models, see

      As Dr Spencer says the basic physics IS uncontraversial, the real uncertainties lie in how feedbacks modify the effects of increased radiative forcing.

      • Massimo PORZIO says:

        Hi DM,
        as more and more times I said, I’m not a scientist, just an engineer.

        What I say is that there are some posts here, where the non GHG isothermal atmosphere is considered a fact by someone.
        I don’t really understand what these climate models do indeed. Considering the very complex nature of the atmospheric system, they should be incredibly smart designed to perform right of course.

        Anyways, in my opinion, some climatologists seems to confuse the normal transmittance/reflectance with the diffused ones.
        The simple fact that those spectrograms of the link that you proposed show what the satellites spectrometers see with a very narrow field of view of a tiny 1 or 2 degrees angle, demonstrates that those graphs aren’t showing the real outgoing LW IR energy flux, but just the radiation outgoing at the nadir. Which is not representative of the effective so called GHGs “trapped energy”, which I prefer to say “scattered energy” (even if someone corrected me calling it “spread energy” instead).

        When I’ll see a TOA spectral measurement done via an integrating sphere which catch the whole outgoing energy from the whole Earth dish (atmospheric layers included), then I would say: yes, we got it!

        Till that day, in my opinion we never seen the real outgoing radiation spectrum indeed.

        By the way, even the men will lunch such kind of spectrometer on a satellite, we should integrate the whole globe measurements to get the effective global outgoing spectrum, because there should be very different spectra at the equatorial latitudes respect to the ones at the poles.
        Have a nice day.


        • Dikran Marsupial says:

          Massimo, if you don’t understand what climate models do, then perhaps you should find out before criticising them (using an incorrect criticism). Secondly if you require the IR spectrum to be observed by an “integrating sphere” then you are essentially demanding the impossible, which pretty unscientific behaviour, merely an excuse not to accept that you are wrong and Dr Spencer (amongst many others) is right on the basic physics. I shan’t waste my time any further.

          • Massimo PORZIO says:

            Dear Marsupial,
            first of all I really wonder to read a scientist like you that hide his/her identity by an alias,
            I prefer use my name and surname instead. I’m a modest engineer and I’m not ashamed if I don’t
            know something, I just ask to know it.
            When I said that I don’t understand what the models do, I meant that if the same who wrote that models
            places in the “climatology 101” the “GHGs less isothermal atmosphere”, I suppose that his models don’t
            take account of any lapse rate, other than the one due to the GHGs effect.
            It seems to me that this is not a fact outside the climatology arena indeed. I read of physicists arguing
            that it’s not a proven “fact”, just a belief.

            About the impossibility of use the integrating sphere to view the whole outgoing radiation, I would know
            why it should be impossible. By my point of view, yours is a pretty unscientific behavior indeed, not mine.
            Because two are the possibilities here:
            1) you know a peculiar limitation in using the integrating sphere at the 6-15um wavelength band. Well
            instead of be cryptic, tell me about what I don’t know, I’ll be glad to learn. This would be scientific.
            2) You know that I’m wrong in considering that the vertical outgoing radiation (as seen by a FLIR
            sensor such as the satellites spectrometers are until today) doesn’t comprise the scattered radiation
            because the GHGs make the Earth not an isotropic radiator. In my opinion in this condition you can’t
            infer the whole radiation just viewing a sector of the spherical radiator as climatologists do, because
            the scattered radiation is not perpendicular to the spheroid surface, so it’s not viewed by the Forward
            Looking Infra Red sensor (the name tells the story itself). Again, instead of be cryptic, tell me about
            what I don’t know, I’ll be glad to learn. This would be scientific.

  34. Massimo PORZIO says:

    @Dr. Spencer,
    I’m very sorry to the numerous truncated messages above.

    I don’t know why, but even if I used the browser editor it seems that it inserted such kind of characters which were incompatible with the html coding, I had to convert the message to ASCII to finally send it correctly.

    Sorry again.

    Happy Easter.


  35. Guy Threepwood says:

    “No Co2 fingerprint for warming”

    But isn’t there a pretty clear GHG fingerprint in the distribution of that warming?

    The one that can be seen in Venus’ scorching temps hardly varying from equator to pole,
    i.e. regardless of what the ave temp of Earth may or may not be doing for whatever reason- isn’t it far more telling to look for changes in the difference from pole to equator, or night and day? At least to establish changes in GH effect before getting to what’s causing it?

  36. Massimo PORZIO says:

    Dear Dikran Marsupial,
    still no response from you about why the integrating sphere should be impossible to be used.

    I don’t know what kind of scientist you are, anyways that’s the kind of scientist I would like to be a friend.

    Have a nice weekend.


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