back to article Cloudy outlook for climate models

Climate models appear to be missing an atmospheric ingredient, a new study suggests. December's issue of the International Journal of Climatology from the Royal Meteorlogical Society contains a study of computer models used in climate forecasting. The study is by joint authors Douglass, Christy, Pearson, and Singer - of whom …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RealClimate article on the same

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/12/tropical-troposphere-trends

  2. Andrew Smith
    Stop

    models 1, Douglass et al 0, after extra time

    Sadly for Douglass et al, and for Anton Wylie, the paper was demolished within a couple of days of being published, and two weeks before The Register reported on it. The paper's authors make several significant mistakes, the key one being introducing an invalid divisor for the standard error of the models, which falsely narrows the confidence intervals around the models' predictions. From there, the claim that reality falls outside the models' predictions, collapses.

    There's more discussion by climate scientists of the paper, at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/12/tropical-troposphere-trends/

    So I don't think the BBC will be updating its page, as its statement is accurate: Within the uncertainties of the data, there is no discrepancy. The models have been successfully tested, and anthropogenic global warming is, regrettably, still very much with us. Climate science is indeed far from over, but the question of whether there is man-made global warming has been resolved in the positive, with overwhelming scientific evidence.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    The science is settled

    Don't panic, someone will be along soon to explain that the science is settled, and we should do everything we can to delay impending disaster, even if we don't quite know all the details yet. Anyway, the glaciers agree with the models, and we wouldn't want the polar bears to starve.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Is anybody surprised?

    IPCC is a political forum, they don't give a damn about science as far as it gives results, no matter how wrong, that suits them.

    I'll bet 10 to one that IPCC won't change their mind about global warming for any reason, it wouldn't be politically suitable.

    (Last meeting was in Bali, where everybody and their frends flew, there's _their real opinion_ about global warming.)

  5. Bill OBrien

    It's Just Water Under the Bridge

    None of the existing climate models take into account the effect of water vapor on any level --simply because there is no way of knowing the water vapor content around every square inch of the planet. Instead, the models were created to corroborate the postulate (that mankind is inducing Global Warming) rather than disprove it, as is done within the scientific method routinely. That's why you continually hear about a "consensus" with respect to the conclusion and not proof. Of course, the last few instances of scientific consensus didn't work out so well - the planet isn't flat and the sun doesn't revolve around the Earth. A scientific consensus is simply a euphemism for "guesswork." Still, one should never let the facts get in the way of a strongly felt opinion...

  6. Timothy Chase

    Nice attempt by the Greenhouse Gas Defence Team

    The paper by Douglass, Pearson, Singer and Christy was recently analyzed at Real Climate, a blog run by climatologists including Michael Mann (a paleoclimatologist who is known for the original hockey stick diagram) and Gavin Schmidt (who worked on the most recent global climate model for NASA GISS). The conclusion that the authors arrive at, namely, that greenhouse gases are not what is primarily responsible for current warming -- is entirely untenable -- even if one were to find that the rest of their paper were largely or entirely correct. The reason being? We have a great deal of evidence that global warming is being caused by greenhouse gases.

    For example, they increase the opacity of the atmosphere to infrared radiation, raising the temperature at the surface while reducing the amount of thermal radiation which reaches the stratosphere, hence cooling the stratosphere. Increased solar radiation would raise the temperature both at the surface and in the stratosphere. Likewise, warming will be greater at night and during the winter under an enhanced greenhouse effect as night and winter are more dependent upon the process of thermal radiation given increased atmospheric stability and thus reduced heat loss due to convection. All of these effects have been measured and are individually quite difficult to explain without reference to greenhouse gases.

    Furthermore, our understanding of the role of greenhouse gases in warming the climate is built upon a solid foundation of physics, particularly radiation transfer theory, and more fundamentally, quantum mechanics. We can virtually derive their absorption spectra from the first principles of the latter. We can observe the thermal radiation which they give off at different altitudes at different parts of the spectra by means of satellites capable of watching well over two thousand spectral channels. We can measure the backradiation with which they heat the surface at the surface itself. We can even image the infrared emissions of carbon dioxide as it drifts away from the heavily populated west and east coasts of the United States at an altitude of 8 km -- because of the increase in the opacity of the atmosphere to infrared radiation given the higher CO2 concentrations.

    *

    At best, assuming the paper was otherwise flawless, the only conclusion which the authors might have right to derive would be that some of the details regarding the modeling of the tropical troposphere -- perhaps involving moist air convection -- require more work. We might conclude that one has to increase the model resolution in order to properly capture the process of convection at work, perhaps. However, as it is, the paper was deeply flawed.

    They did not properly take into account model uncertainty -- and they completely omitted any analysis of the observational uncertainties inherent in the radiosonde product they used for validating the models. But what is worse is that is that they used a version of that product that was out of date. They used RAOBCORE v1.2, whereas the most recent version is 1.4. By simply using the more updated version of RAOBCORE and two standard deviation ensemble model uncertainty, the RAOBCORE product's curve for the tropics is well within the envelope of uncertainty associated with the models. And in fact, this is essentially what was concluded by a far better paper earlier this year:

    Thorne, et al (2007), Tropical vertical temperature trends: A real discrepancy?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L16702

    Abstract:

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2007/2007GL029875.shtml

    *

    For the Real Climate review of the paper by Douglass et al on the tropics, please see:

    Tropical tropospheric trends

    12 Dec 2007

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/12/tropical-troposphere-trends

    *

    With regard to the discovery of the twilight zone around clouds, I personally find this exciting. Clouds and aerosols are the two largest sources of uncertainty left in the models -- and I suspect that it will lead to considerable improvements in regional modeling. However, readers should keep in mind the fact that clouds have both an albedo effect and a greenhouse effect associated with them, and these two effects largely cancel one-another out -- with the sign of the net, residual effect being largely dependent upon the altitude and thickness of the clouds. However, as of yet, Real Climate has not done a piece on this particular development. I am hopeful that they might remedy this at some point in the weeks to come.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Co-ordinated Real Climate spam?

    The AGW supporters must be seriously worried.

    "Real Climate has not done a piece on this particular development."

    Yet it has - the "Real Climate" blog gets three links in the first half dozen posts. Have these Global Warming bloggers been waiting up all night - in their pyjamas - simply to whack any media organisation that reports Douglass et al?

    That seems to be the advice from the Hockey Stick site, which urges its supporters:

    "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!"

    Comparing this article and "Real Climate" is most illuminating. There's much hand-waving and prevarication at "Real Climate", but no substantial rebuttal of Douglass' main findings, ably pointed out here by Mr Wylie, that the data produced by the 22 atmospheric models only works at sea level.

    Bill O'Brien is correct: this is guesswork fed into a spreadsheet. What comes out is ... guesswork in Excel format.

  8. Maverick
    Thumb Up

    @ Bill OBrien

    oh, very well said sir!

    I'd like to bet that Galileo Galilei is a very grumpy old man up in heaven seeing that the intervening 400 years hasn't changed the lemming like nature** of scientific 'opinion' . . . which when I was first undertaking formal science learning in early 1970's 'knew' that we would run out of oil by 1995

    (and yes, I agree burning oil is a bad use of a limited resource - but that's not my point)

    OK so now we have 'computer models' to prop up the argument here . . well I've done a lot of modelling over the years on areas a darn sight less complex than the atmosphere & I wouldn't trust a computer model to predict my supermarket shopping list let alone global warming.

    A final thought, just try getting a research grant nowadays in the UK if your study doesn't positively mention 'green' issues in a major way - scientific research? pah! not in the UK as it's a POLITICAL ISSUE now (not because the politicians understand or care about the issues, just 'cos they have to appear to so they can fly off to Bali for a nice jolly)

    .

    .

    hmm, re-read my ramblings above . . . think I have read too many posts from aManFromMars . . . must be infectious?

    PS **OK, OK, before the flames start I know lemmings don't do that . . . but heck it's Christmas so allow me some small Disney inventions in the odd post here or there huh ?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Global cooling...

    was the big threat in the 1970's. Some of the same profs involved as today. The real threat appears to be no change, as that would give them nothing to publish about.

  10. Ishkandar
    Paris Hilton

    @Maverick

    Sir, you missed the original scientific prediction that London will be three feet deep in horse shit by the 1900s. This could explain why our public transport is always running late since they have to plow through more than that stuff (in 2007)....

    And then there was the Great Malthusian Theory that everyone will starve to death before the end of the 20th century.......

    Now eat up your vegetables !! Poor children are starving to death everywhere outside London. It's only thanks to that thick layer of horse shit that we have such nice veggies to eat !!

  11. Homer Wilson
    Alert

    Skepticism all around is warranted here

    Have you read the bios of the authors? The SEPP and S. Fred Singer in particular, is a longstanding, highly political critic of global warming. Skepticism is vital to science. In view of the authors' backgrounds, we should not forget to also subject their conclusions to a healthy dose of skepticism.

  12. mommycalled

    Co-ordinated Real Climate spam?

    Since the Douglas et al. paper has been available since the 10th of December and www.realclimate.org analysis was published on the 12th of December only a fool would say that "these Global Warming bloggers been waiting up all night - in their pyjamas - simply to whack any media organisation that reports Douglass et al?" The realclimate analysis DOCUMENTS clear errors and deliberate misuse of data by Douglass et al. Considering the authors record of accuracy particularly Singer I wonder if they did any research at all. Singer did an analysis of the Kuwait oil fires. His "calculations showed that the smoke would go to an altitude of about 3,000 feet and then be rained out after about three to five days and thus the lifetime of the smoke would be limited." From direct observations we now know that smoke from the Kuwait Oil Fires dominated the weather pattern throughout the Persian Gulf and surrounding region during 1991, and that lower atmospheric wind blew the smoke along the eastern half of the Arabian Peninsula, and cities like Dhahran, Riyadh and Bahrain experienced days with smoke filled skies and carbon fallout.."

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Garbage In-Gospel Out

    None of the climate models work for known intervals. There isn't one of them that will try to model the last 10,000 years.

    If they can't model the climate we already know happened, how can they model what will happen?

  14. Bounty
    Alien

    Aliens

    I'm still waiting for RAOBCORE v1.6 which will PROVE that aliens are controlling our atmosphere...... until they come out with v1.8 of course.

  15. Herby
    Thumb Up

    Al Gore shoots Smokey Bear?

    Since we need more aerosols to cool us down, why should we put out forest fires. Al Gore should encourage the increase of particulate matter in the form of forest fires and wood burning fireplaces. That would help us better balance the climate, wouldn't it?

    I mean Al needs to do more to offset his mansion he has with its electric meter taking off.

    Oh, here I am in sunny Southern California, but I rember that the Rose parade was rained upon a few years ago for the first time in a bunch of years, so something is happening. Cooling, warming, man caused, natural, take your pick. The "science" is there somewhere to support it.

  16. JeffyPooh

    Models of anything are inherently limited by finite knowledge

    For example, F=MA. But there may be a point where M will turn around and slap you. That point is typically unknown.

    For the climate models, we just don't know all the chemical and biological responses that may be triggered off. They're just as likely to be negative feedback as positive. We just don't know. Those that claim their models are accurate are fooling themselves. Why are they up to Rev. 17 if they're not a work-in-progress?

    Science ~IS~ skepticism. Those that accuse people of being 'climate skeptics' are actually taking on the tone of religion. Of course a good scientist is a skeptic. Every good scientist should always be open to the next theory.

    For the record, I'm all in favour of energy efficiency, alternate energy systems, and advance technology. Which puts me well ahead of the curve. But I remain skeptical, especially when the environmentals have become a religion. Such an attitude could well kill us well before global warming does.

  17. Gary

    Global dimming

    It seems the consensus with this study is that it was poorly done, but it does sort of touch on another related issue of "global dimming".

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sun/

    http://www.globalissues.org/EnvIssues/GlobalWarming/globaldimming.asp

    It's a rather interesting topic, and one which was afforded an interesting opportunity for study shortly after all US planes were grounded on 9/11. Ironically, the very industrial emissions we put out that are apparently contributing to global climate change are also in some ways partially protecting us from the full effect. If that's the case, and climate models aren't taking that into account, it would explain why the models show the temperature as rising faster than it is in reality.

  18. mommycalled

    Garbage In-Gospel Out

    More AGW bovine flatuance. Model verification requires the model to reproduce observed climate before the model is used in experiments. The models used in the IPCC report model past climate very well. More evidence that the oil/gas industry dis-information campaign is working

  19. R Gross

    @Ishkandar

    And what a depressingly sad comment about food supply. With 6 billion inhabitants we're running out of productive land, e.g. 'Global food crisis looms as climate change and fuel shortages bite - http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/nov/03/food.climatechange'. Already we're using almost 80% of land that could effectively be productive so where is the food for the projected extra 3 billion coming from.

    Just because you can wander into Tescos to buy food to gorge yourself doesn't mean we're not approaching a global food crisis (I'm assuming you don;t live in the Sudan because you'd understand the impact of Malthus' ideas already).

  20. J
    Dead Vulture

    Yes and no

    "There is an enormous ongoing effort to find errors in the observations that would reduce the disagreement with the models. [Shouldn't that be the other way round? - naive ed.]"

    Dear naive Editor, it should be both -- it's an iterative process, and it applies to all rational knowledge (or do you think models are just fancy math in a computer?). That said, "reality" (observations) should always be given more weight, me thinks.

  21. Timothy Chase

    A Response to that Anonymous Coward...

    Under the subject of "Co-ordinated Real Climate spam?", Anonymous Coward writes:

    "The AGW supporters must be seriously worried.

    "'Real Climate has not done a piece on this particular development.'

    "Yet it has - the 'Real Climate' blog gets three links in the first half dozen posts..."

    I was refering to the subject of the twilight zone of clouds, not the tropical troposphere. It helps to read the sentence immediately preceding that one in the same paragraph.

    *

    He continues,

    "Have these Global Warming bloggers been waiting up all night - in their pyjamas - simply to whack any media organisation that reports Douglass et al?"

    Nice ad hominem.

    Real Climate goes quiet from about 4:00 to 12:00 GMT, give or take. I myself scan the news periodically throughout the day, just looking for new stories or new news on old stories.

    For example, there is the thinning of the Arctic ice that, best estimate, will be gone during the summers by 2013 or earlier even though the models were projecting something more like 2050 or perhaps well into the 2100s. They seem to have underestimated some of the positive feedbacks, most particularly oceanic advection -- due to the low resolution of the models.

    Then there is the increased saturation of various carbon sinks where for example parts of the major oceans including the Southern Ocean are proving less able to absorb our carbon emissions, although another major sink which is becoming less effective includes plants, at least during the warmer, drier years. Then there is the record melt in Greenland, news from the Antarctic Peninsula (both Greenland and Antarctica are losing mass now -- with the trend in Antarctica having been reversed within the past few years), etc.

    Anyway, climate news has been a little slow with the holiday season, and this post at the Register came up -- so I thought I would check it out.

    Anyway, I suspect you are right about spam being involved -- you simply misidentified the culprits and the intended targets. Every one of the authors is closely associated with at least one organization that is receiving funding from Exxon. Singer, Douglass and Christy belong to the Heartland institute -- which has received well over half a million US dollars within the past decade, for example. Singer is actually associated with thirteen organizations that have received funding from Exxon. Pearson is the odd man out, as he belongs to only the Atlas Economic Research Foundation -- brainchild of someone fond of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged," no doubt. I would expect him to be a bit more ambitious.

    Anyway, feel free to check:

    http://www.exxonsecrets.org/index.php?mapid=1155

    It gives you the names of the organizations, the manner in which the funding was funneled, links to material on the authors, etc. However, I didn't want to bring this up in my first comment (although I hinted at this issue in the title) because one really should address the facts and the science first -- before getting into issues of possibly systematic dishonesty and questions of motive.

    *

    Before climate change, my personal obsession was with evolutionary biology and the attempt by creationists to achieve a more "balanced treatment" of the subject in the schools, that is, use the school systems to indoctrinate students - and get children to chalk up modern science to some sort of ideological conspiracy. However, I suspect there may be a bit more riding on the issue of climate change at this point, so I switched.

    In all honesty I prefer studying the role of viruses and various retroelements in evolution over climatology. But we must all do our part, I suppose.

  22. Infernoz Bronze badge

    BBC not neutral

    Please don't rely on the BBC as an authority on any politically sensitive topic, look at other sources too, like:

    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=164004

    It seems quite obvious to myself and other parties that the BBC has a heavy bias towards left wing, trendy, politically correct views, so are not as impartial as they make out they are, unfortunately this means that they are heavily invested in the reduce CO2 lobby. If we eventually get a decent (non-PC) government, hopefully they will do something to rebalance the BBC to a neutral political stance.

    Other conventional media also tend to have tunnel vision and biases, so can also provide distorted news stories.

    Channel 4 seems to be one of the few TV broadcasters willing to also show non-PC material for a variety of areas, including serious topics like climate research.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Pot, meet kettle

    "Nice ad hominem. (dot dot dot) Every one of the authors is closely associated with at least one organization that is receiving funding from Exxon. (etc)"

    Apart from being an ad hominem attack in itself, that's an extraordinarily vague accusation. Are there any employed people in the first world who are not "closely associated with at least one organisation that is receiving funding from Exxon"? That would include people who drive cars, people who own anything that is made out of plastic, and people who wear clothes.

  24. greg

    Did I miss something BIG ? Yellow big ?

    There's something annoying about all the climate problematic, from a stupidly basic fact... Where's the sun's changes influences taken in account ?

    If all these models and studies about atmosphere's changes related to climate changes are trivially based on the sole asumption or postulate that change in atmosphere has to imply change in climate, scientifics may have simplify a bit too much to try to find possible models.

    After all, changes have happened both in atmosphere and climate way before human started to mess with them, and the sun's activity does not seem to be a flat constant. If the lack of any data about the sun's activity variations is a reason to forget about it in the models, I think we may have a scientific consensus about the existence of God before these models approach any truth.

    What I find most annoying is the political obsession with greenhouse effects which seem just a bit too convenient to hide a couple of problems where human's activity can't be denied : water pollution and soil depletion for example.

    Malthus wasn't wrong. He didn't know we could artificially improve culture's returns with oil based chemicals. We bought a delay on the deadline, but think about it again taking in account it seems in average the USA are wasting 10 cal of oil to produce 1 cal of food, and check why the grains prices are going high in the markets ?

  25. Timothy Chase

    Re: Pot, meet kettle

    Ashley Pomeroy quoted me,

    "'Nice ad hominem. (dot dot dot) Every one of the authors is closely associated with at least one organization that is receiving funding from Exxon. (etc)'"

    ... then responded,

    "Apart from being an ad hominem attack in itself, ..."

    As I said, "However, I didn't want to bring this up in my first comment (although I hinted at this issue in the title) because one really should address the facts and the science first -- before getting into issues of possibly systematic dishonesty and questions of motive."

    You deal with the facts and the arguments first, then you turn to questions of honesty and motive. If this weren't valid, any time you questioned someone's honesty or examined the possibility that they might be engaged in a form of deception you would be guilty of engaging in a logical fallacy. But obviously there are times when it is appropriate to consider issues of honesty. I examined the science and the arguments -- although not in the depth that I would prefer. However, you can look up more at www.realclimate.org -- if you wish. They have a search box.

    *

    Ashley Pomeroy continues,"... that's an extraordinarily vague accusation. Are there any employed people in the first world who are not 'closely associated with at least one organisation that is receiving funding from Exxon'? That would include people who drive cars, people who own anything that is made out of plastic, and people who wear clothes."

    I am not speaking of anyone who has bought gasoline within the past 50 years. I said "closely associated."

    Let's consider Fred Singer for a moment:

    1. President, The Science & Environmental Policy Project. Documented funding from Exxon since 1998: $20,000.

    2. Editorial Advisory Board Member, Cato Institute. Documented funding from Exxon since 1998: $110,000.

    3. Advisory Board Member, American Council on Science and Health. Documented funding from Exxon since 1998: $125,000.

    4. Adjunct Scholar, National Center for Policy Analysis. Documented funding from Exxon since 1998: $465,900.

    5. Research Fellow, Independent Institute. Documented funding from Exxon since 1998: $70,900.

    6. Former Fellow, Hoover Institution. Documented funding from Exxon since 1998: $295,900.

    7. Former Fellow, Heritage Foundation. Documented funding from Exxon since 1998: $585,000.

    8. Former Fellow, The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition. Documented funding from Exxon since 1998: $30,000.

    9. Adjunct Fellow, Frontiers of Freedom. Documented funding from Exxon since 1998: $1,037,000.

    10. Speaker, Centre for the New Europe. Documented funding from Exxon since 1998: $170,000.

    11. Expert, Heartland Institute. Documented funding from Exxon since 1998: $791,500.

    12. Contributing Writer, Weidenbaum Center. Documented funding from Exxon since 1998: $120,000.

    13. Contributing Writer, Federalist Center. Documented funding from Exxon since 1998: $90,000.

    Grand total documented funding of organizations that Singer is associated with by Exxon since 1998:

    $3,911,200

    Incidentally, I got some of this information from:

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=S._Fred_Singer

    ... but most of it is from the link I provided earlier:

    http://www.exxonsecrets.org/index.php?mapid=1155

    *

    Singer has quite a history -- as his entry in Source Watch attests to. So does Christy:

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=John_R._Christy

    The other authors don't have a writeup on SourceWatch as of yet, though. But Douglass has coauthored other equally flawed pieces with Singer and Patrick J. Michaels (another Exxon superstar) on a number of occasions.

    *

    The scientific case for our understanding of anthropogenic global warming is quite strong. If you haven't the time to learn about all of the science yourself, you may want to examine the statements by scientific bodies in this matter.

    Please see:

    http://www.logicalscience.com/consensus/consensusD1.htm

    Every major scientific organisation which has issued a statement in this matter has come down on the side of climatology. In large part it really is just a matter of physics -- despite the complexity of the climate system.

    However, I would recommend learning as much you can -- if it at all interests you. From what I can see there is a fair amount at stake in the coming decades, particularly in terms of our coastal cities, agricultural production and water supplies. If we continue along our current trajectory, the loss of life and effects upon the world economy in the latter part of this century looks to be quite substantial.

  26. Woody

    Let's consider this.....

    The so called "scientists" can't predict weather for a month in advance, what makes abyone think they can, with ANY kind of accuracy, predict what the weather will be like in one, ten, or twenty years in the future.

    No my friends, this is not science but pure politics, supported by third rate politicians (Al Gore, et al).

  27. Timothy Chase

    Re: Did I miss something BIG ? Yellow big ?

    greg wrote, "There's something annoying about all the climate problematic, from a stupidly basic fact... Where's the sun's changes influences taken in account ?"

    I strongly suspect that the sun hasn't entirely escaped the attention of the entire climatological profession for the past century.

    Actually, according to a variety of studies the sun has been essentially flat since about 1950, and best estimates given by the Nasa GISS, it would appear that forcing due to well-mixed greenhouse gases has been greater than any positive solar forcing virtually every year since 1880 — with the one exception being that of 1881.

    Please see the graphs at:

    Forcings in GISS Climate Model

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce

    … as well as the data at:

    Global Mean Effective Forcing (W/m2)

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/RadF.txt

    Incidentally, the data for the levels of various gases, aerosols and the like are obtained independently of models -- and the same models with the same physical equations and code get applied to understanding paleoclimates, e.tc.. You can't really just tinker with them to make them fit as an exercise in curve-fitting -- as a tightening of the fit in one area would result in a loosening of the fit in a dozen others. However, when the fit is bad in a particular area, you can look to see what physics is missing, incorporate it, and chances are the fit in that area and several others will become considerably tighter. They are a work in progress -- but they have already progressed quite a bit.

    They seem to be doing a rather good job of making predictions. Not simply in terms of the trends in global temperature, either. They predicted the cooling of the stratosphere, polar amplification where the Arctic latitudes would warm more rapidly than the lower latitudes, the fact that nights would warm more rapidly than days and winters more rapidly than summers. They predicted the expansion of the Hadley cells which govern the extent of the tropics.

    They predicted the super greenhouse effect in the tropics where backradiation from the clear sky climbs more rapidly than thermal radiation from the surface as the surface warms above 30 C. They do quite well in describing ocean circulation - and have since 2000. They show, for example, changes in ocean circulation resulting from land warming more rapidly than ocean which result in growing deadzones off the US west coast. They predicted the expansion of the range of hurricanes and cyclones (e.g., Catarina, the first recorded South Atlantic tropical cyclone in 2004 and Gonu in the Arabian Sea in 2007).

    They are tested using paleoclimate records and hindcasting. And Jim Hansen's Scenario B (one of three scenarios presented before the US Congress in 1988 made using single runs of a fairly primitive model by today's standards, the one scenario which he stated was most realistic at the time) was pretty much dead-on in terms of predicting the trend in global average temperature -- for the next twenty years.

  28. Max
    Flame

    @Timothy Chase

    Tim,

    It doesn't matter who they work for; the fact remains that consensus is not proof. realclimate.org folks have a vested interest in maintaining their position, as do many of the other bandwagon jumpers... You can wallow in the funding game, but that's a distraction and certainly doesn't buttress the scientific underpinnings of your argument.

    Please go argue with these folks on a scientific basis, if you harp on their funding I'll know for a fact you don't know what you're talking about.

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=f80a6386-802a-23ad-40c8-3c63dc2d02cb

    I disagree entirely with the notion of scientific consensus, it's crap honestly, it's sort of like agreeing with the Wall Street concensus that Enron was actually making money, even though there was plenty of legitimate suspicion that they were a fraud.

    Koolaid drinking and group think afflict scientific and academic types, I'd say more so than in other endeavors, and what's a better way to get funding that predicting doom or the compromise of our precious bodily fluids by the fiendish florida^H^H^H^H "big oil"?

    Also, if it's just a matter of physics, what kind of physics? Traditional Newtonian/Einstein or Quantum ? They don't necessarily agree...

    Another question: Why did the AGW crowd decided to fly to Bali, mostly in private Aircraft? Seems that the biggest proponents of the theory don't actually *act* like this is a real issue, so why should anyone else?

    Is this just another case of four legs good, two legs better but with spiffy lab coats?

    ~Max

  29. J
    Boffin

    Re: Let's consider this....

    "The so called "scientists" can't predict weather for a month in advance, what makes abyone think they can, with ANY kind of accuracy, predict what the weather will be like in one, ten, or twenty years in the future."

    I'd have to remind you that, in complexity science, it is usually the case that the big picture is easier to see and accurately predict than the fine details (that may not be the case with climate science yet, I'm not sure, but that is the general point). But since you are so advanced you can tell the guys are "so called scientists", just like that, then I believe I won't need to explain any further, right?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sun is not a constant factor

    The sun has not been 'essentially flat'. It never is; the sun is a variable star. I gathered a few links:

    Solar activity: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/sun_output_030320.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_variation

    ..not a flat line in sight.

    In fact, Mars shows signs of 'global' warming as well, most probably because of solar activity:

    in 2001: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/mars_snow_011206-1.html

    ..and in 2007:

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070228-mars-warming.html

    We may be entering a new phase of solar inactivity, however:

    http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/10/16/1735258&from=rss

    btw, solar cycle 24 looked like it was about to start a few weeks ago:

    http://sidc.oma.be/index.php3

  31. Cody
    Stop

    The interesting question is different

    The interesting question has come up on a couple of blogs, and it is not really whether the models predict water vapor adequately.

    The thing we need to know is what, if it happened or was observed, would decisively disprove the CO2/warming hypothesis. Now, given that CO2 warming in itself is small, and anyway that two thirds of what we would expect from its doubling to about 600ppm has already happened, such events will have to be found, if they exist, in the hypothesized feedback loops which allegedly amplify the small amount of warming which is directly due to CO2 rises.

    Either these loops are real or they are not. What a number of studies are trying to do is find out. Whenever they are published, we hear the usual cries of Exxon funding, bias, the laws of physics and so on. However, there are some real questions. Are water vapor levels behaving as they will have to, in order for the feedbacks to work? Is the surface station record reliable and robust, so is the hypothesized warming actually happening? Is the Ocean absorbing the hypothesized amount of heat? Are particulates involved in feedback loops of the right size?

    Convinced AGW opinion is uniformly negative about any attempts to investigate these issues, and generally hostile to any attempts to establish what would falsify the CO2 hypothesis. This does not disprove it. But it does lead one to sense a strong smell of fish in the area.

    Reaction to this study is no exception. If its wrong, fine. Lets go make some other predictions about feedback loops, agree in advance what they will mean, and then look to see if they're happening. Heaping personal abuse on critical scientists is not advancing science one bit. Nor is it making any converts to AGW.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @ Woody

    As a weather-forecasting friend of mine explained to me recently:

    "Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get"

    Don't confuse the ability to predict when it is going to rain a few days hence (weather forecasting) with the discipline of climate change research. Although some of the techniques used are similar, they are quite distinct fields.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RealClimate: origins and purpose

    RealClimate.org was created by the PR company EMS.

    http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/results.jsp?domain=realclimate.org

    In turn EMS, or "Environmental Media Services" was created by Arlie Schardt. Schardt was a journalist who became Al Gore's PR guy. He's a former sports writer who became a professional scaremonger:

    http://www.activistcash.com/biography.cfm/bid/2808

    >> As press secretary for Al Gore’s disastrous first presidential campaign in 1988, he warned then-Senator Gore: “Your main pitfall is exaggeration.” <<

    Therefore, I put no more credence to an opinion from RealClimate poster than I would one from a Creationist, or a Flat Earther.

  34. Maverick
    Thumb Up

    @ woody

    100% agree

    and that MUPPET called Gore removes significant data from his graphs because it spoilt his argument about the causes etc. . . . so next he gets a Nobel prize?

    jeez, next thing is good ol'Bob Mugabe being awarded the Peace Prize in 2008

    but what SHOULD still concern us the most is that this indoctrination is being forced down our children's throats without any counter balance argument

    PLEASE don't tell me the teachers are going to provide that . . . . we know better than that <sigh>

  35. Maverick
    Thumb Down

    @Anonymous Coward

    "Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get"

    "Although some of the techniques used are similar, they are quite distinct fields."

    .

    yup, you got it . . . both HOPELESSLY inaccurate . . . and IMHO about as scientific as astrology

  36. Vernon Lloyd
    Coat

    Political Crap

    Climate change,

    If I believed all I was told in the 1980s, we would have no oil and no ice. Hmm we still have shed loads of both.

    And as for 'Global Warming' my father was telling me how in the 70's we were experiencing 'Global Cooling'. Go figure

    As a non scientist I read what you all write and have spend time reading books and doing research on this 'Climate Issue'. To be fair I read up on both arguments. What did I find out:

    That you appear (remember not scientist) to simply make the facts fit the crime.

    Now IMHO from my research:

    We are in a warming period: Our eliptical orbit has taken us closer to the sun. Graphs created by sceintists show that the temperature is not as high as the highest ever.

    Ice is melting: See last point.

    Less rain: Recent higher solar activity blowing causing solar winds which in turn blow ions from the atmosphere (required to hold water)

    CO2 levels high: Caused partially by us, however forest fires and Volcanic eruptions odvisouly have nothing to do with that. Of course knocking down miles of rainforest has nothing to do with that either. However CO2 levels have been a lot higher and hmmm Earth is still habitable.

    CO2 ocean sinks not working as well: Underwater volcanos, releasing shed loads of CO2 straight into the sink. Need I go on.....

    I am not going to go on, as no doubt there will be plenty of people who will disprove what I say. But I am not paid by the governments of this world to 'manufacturer' a reason to tax the f*ck out of me.

    REMEMBER I am a IT bod NOT a scientist.

    Simply put: As long as Governments in the world can get as much money as possible, ANY theory no matter how far fetched can be proved/disproved.

    Remember no matter what the human race can do, nature can do one hundred fold worse. One average Volcanic eruption will emit more crap than what we can do in our cars in at least 100 years. Imagaine, just Imagine if Yellowstone (as it has before) blows again. Man what we humans have done will be totally and utterlty irrelevant.

    /Just get my coat

  37. Timothy Chase

    Re: Sun is not a constant factor

    This is in response to Anonymous Coward.

    You wrote,

    "Solar activity: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/sun_output_030320.html

    "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_variation

    ..not a flat line in sight."

    I said "essentially flat." You take a look at sunspots (a proxy for solar activity, where more sunspots is fairly well correlated with greater solar intensity and you will see increasing activity towards 1950, but essentially just standard quasiperiodic behavior since -- which looks quite flat if you do a running ten-year average. That is, unless you look a little more closely -- as there is a slight drop from roughly 1980 forward -- just as the trend in temperature really took off. Much the same is true with a more direct measurement by means of solar irradiance. It falls off when the rise in temperature becomes strongest.

    *

    You wrote, "In fact, Mars shows signs of 'global' warming as well, most probably because of solar activity:"

    Warming? Yes. Due to solar activity? Not according to the Space article you link to.

    From the article at Space:

    "In one case, patches of snow disappeared during autumn in the northern hemisphere -- a time when cooler temperatures should have generated accumulations. A huge dust storm that raged in recent months and for a time covered the entire planet may have been responsible, temporarily raising global temperatures."

    http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/mars_snow_011206-1.html

    From an article it links to:

    "Dust particles tossed high above the surface are being warmed by the Sun. They in turn heat up Mars' thin and mostly carbon dioxide-laden atmosphere."

    http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/mars_storm_update_011011.html

    Actually there would be a lot of problems with trying to tie "global warming" on Mars to solar output. For one thing, the temperature on Mars was falling during the 1970s even as our global temperature began its steeper climb. For another, there is that pesky solar irradiance.

    Global warming on Mars?

    5 October 2005

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/10/global-warming-on-mars

    Still, the contrarians look to Mars and even the more distant planets as a means of maintaining that the solar variability is responsible for the warming trend of the past thirty years.

    See for example "Larry King: Bill Nye vs. Richard Lindzen," http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McsZ1U20W0M

    ... however, all of these are quite explicable as well.

    Please see: Hot times in the Solar System, http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2007/04/hot-times-in-solar-system.html

    Given how remote the distant planets are, with Pluto for example being roughly 30 times as distant from the sun as the earth and with solar irradiance being inversely proportional to the square of the distance, to explain a rise in temperature of a couple of degrees out there by means of an increase in solar output would require levels that would render our planet virtually uninhabitable.

  38. Timothy Chase

    Re: The interesting question is different

    Cody,

    There are numerous threads to your post, enough so that they are something of a tangle. So I hope you won't mind if I pick just a few.

    When you state that we already have two thirds of the warming from a doubling of CO2, this assumes that the warming is instantaneous, but that assumption is incorrect. The problem with greenhouse gases is that they create an imbalance between the amount of thermal radiation which is entering the system (when sunlight is absorbed) and the amount of thermal radiation leaves the system (given the fact that greenhouse gases are opaque to thermal radiation but transparent to visible light). As long as this imbalance exists, the climate system must warm up until it reaches a temperature which is sufficient for it to emit as much thermal radiation through the ir-opaque atmosphere as which is entering the system. And this takes time, primarily because of the ocean's thermal inertia. (It takes a while for the ocean to warm up and in effect "do its part" in emitting sufficient thermal radiation.)

    *

    You speaks of feedbacks and question whether or not they exist, stating specifically at one point, "Either these loops are real or they are not." But there isn't any question as to whether they are real. What open questions still exist are essentially a matter of the relative strengths of various feedbacks, some of which are positive, others negative, and thus what the overall climate sensitivity to a doubling of carbon dioxide will be.

    If you raise the level of carbon dioxide, you increase the opacity of the atmosphere to thermal radiation, where the spectral properties of CO2 are quite measurable under laboratory conditions. This will result in higher temperatures resulting in evaporation -- where water vapor is itself a greenhouse gas. This results in a positive feedback.

    However, more water vapor will likely mean more clouds, and more clouds generally mean an increased albedo with a reduction in the amount of sunlight which gets transformed into thermal radiation. This is a negative feedback.

    But clouds also have a greenhouse effect, and the greenhouse and albedo of clouds roughly cancel one-another out, so that depending upon the altitude and thickness of the clouds, the net effect will be negative or positive. So how much feedback can we expect from the climate system for a doubling of carbon dioxide?

    By itself, without the effects of water vapor or clouds, but simply given the spectral properties of carbon dioxide and its distribution in the atmospheric column, we would expect a warming of roughly 1.2 C. However, with the various feedbacks which exist within the climate system, a doubling of carbon dioxide is likely to result in something more like 2.8-2.9 C.

    How do we know this? Extensive studies, some dealing with recent climate change, the reaction of the climate system to volcanic eruptions (or rather, to the reflective stratospheric aerosols they emit), etc., others involving the paleoclimate records of the past 420,000 years, etc..

    I would recommend the following two papers

    Annan, J. D., and J. C. Hargreaves (2006), Using multiple observationally-based constraints to estimate climate sensitivity, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L06704, doi:10.1029/2005GL025259.

    Royer DL, Berner RA, Park J. (2007), Climate sensitivity constrained by CO2 concentrations over the past 420 million years. Nature, 446: 530-532.

    The latter of these two is bringing together results from over 47 different studies.

    Both still have a range on them. Annan might go as low as 2.6 C. However, given the uncertainties involved, significantly higher sensitivities are more likely than significantly lower sensitivities.

    *

    You ask, "Is the surface station record reliable and robust, so is the hypothesized warming actually happening?"

    Consider:

    1. We have atmospheric measurements in the lower troposphere, the upper troposphere and the stratosphere.

    2. These are measurements being taken by planes and satellites. The troposphere is warming - just as we would expect.

    3. The stratosphere is cooling - just as is predicted by the anthropogenic global warming theory.

    4. We are taking measurements of temperatures in the oceans both at the surface and at various depths. These are showing warming as far down as 1500 meters.

    5. We are performing measurements of sea level - which has been rising as the result of thermal expansion.

    6. We are performing gravitometric measurements of Greenland and Antarctica which are showing net ice loss in both cases.

    7. We can witness sea-ice loss in the Arctic which is dramatically accelerating, with a historic sea ice area minima of a little over 4,000,000 km set in 2005, but less than 3,000,000 in 2007.

    8. We are seeing the acceleration of glaciers in both Greenland and Antarctica, particularly within the last few years.

    9. We are witnessing the rise of the troposphere.

    10. We are witnessing the poleward migration of species.

    11. We are witnessing the increased intensity of hurricanes due to the rise in sea temperatures.

    12. We are witnessing the accelerating decline of glaciers throughout the world except in a few rare cases.

    14. We are measuring the rise in temperatures at greater depths in the permafrost.

    15. We are seeing the rapid expansion in the last few years of thermokarst lakes.

    16. We are witnessing changes in ocean circulation.

    17 We are seeing the disintegration of permafrost coastlines in the arctic.

    18. We have seen the number of ice quakes in Greenland triple and the melt flow double within a decade.

    19. We are getting temperature measurements from countries throughout the world which show the same trends.

    20. When we perform measurements using only rural stations, we see almost identical trends.

    21. We are witnessing changes in wind circulation patterns around Antarctica.

    Yes, I believe the "hypothesized warming" is happening.

  39. Woody
    Unhappy

    Re: Consider this...

    I did not mean to discount the work of true scientists, I meant to disparage the work of scientists who produce results to match the wishes of their "masters".

    Unfortunately too many scientists supress the truth in ordere to gain favor from the "benefactors". That is worse than a corrupt scientists forging data...or is just more of the same.....

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    *yawns*

    *yawns* this comment board reads like a bad wikipedia article.

    Global Warming. The big bug bear of current modern man. Now there are two options

    1) regress and slow progress (we all know what happens when Human states stop going forward, they collapse re: Roman Empire, Egyptian Empire, British Empire, Greece, Babylon, etc the same is also true of business and families when prospects dry up then infighting, division and death are inevitable without some kind of divine intervention) a conversion to inefficient renewable energy sources and costly nuclear fission. Sure the globe may become healthier - but what's the point if we have no tangible way forward stuck in a pre-atomic age rut.

    2) Go forward, continue with our unsustainable energy use whilst looking for new means of generating energy, people like to point fingers at the petrochem industry but the truth is that those guys do the most research into renewable because they know that fossil fuels wont last forever. If we keep going forward we will produce large scale renewable power facilities using geothermal and other methods, and phase out old style reactors. At the end of the day energy is needed to create new larger energy sources.

    Do we waste money on energy efficent light bulbs scrapping production lines and retooling factories at large energy cost or do we invest more time into making solar, wind and hydro more efficient?

    Do we waste money building nuclear power stations and disposal facilities or build more oil and coal fired stations with scrubbers whilst beginning work on geothermals and new research ?

    Do we spend money on an advertising campaign to turn off your TV or invest the money in sports so people aren't in their houses watching TV as much.

    It doesn't really matter if Global Warming is real or not, what is important is that we move forward. Everyone can agree that they would like cleaner, long lasting, cost effective energy. You don't need to transport the Earths core, or the Sun or the Wind, but at the moment we can't effectively use it, throwing money into modern day renewable power is like flushing money down a low flush toilet, and slowing production and technological progress is cultural suicide.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    I guess the discussion is NOT "over", eh?

    My take is that:

    1. This is becoming a fanatical religion to some. Nutters are nutters, regardless.

    2. The entire closure of any discussion that refutes the claims is greeted with the old "La-la-la" whilst covering the ears.

    3. Many of the proponents of AGW can't put a point across without absolutely drowning the reader with torrents of words and citations. Oh, yes, and telling us that a couple of the doubters are funded by conservative think-tanks, whilst conveniently discounting the fact that many of their fellow-travelers are from the socialist, "Let's redistribute the world's wealth" types whose agendas are furthered by this scaremongering.

    4. However, when given references that refute the claims, they begin to assert that AGW causes EVERYTHING. How is this different from saying that it's witchcraft that's causing it?

    After hearing the discussion, I am of the belief that there is a lot more POLITICS than science going on here. Scaremongering sells books, papers, and airtime. It also stampedes the sheeple into doing things that they wouldn't ordinarily do if thinking rationally. Although we are not doing the world a great favour in breeding as much as we do, we are being awfully conceited in thinking that we can create such changes in the overall climate.

    BTW, what ARE Al Gore's credentials, anyway?

  42. Me

    Reality Check

    Real Climate - You guys are a bunch of mentally incompetent religious zealots.

    You worship at the altar of Chicken Little....

    Meanwhile, back in the real world...

    Any one who paid attention in fifth grade science class knows that in fact:

    The planet is cooling while the atmosphere and oceans are warming.

    Here is a refresher in simple geophysics.

    The earth formed with a MOLTEN core. Over time (A LOT of time) that molten rock has cooled via releasing MAGMA through breaches in the earths crust (i.e. The Ring of Fire).

    While some of this activity happens on dry lad ( Volcanoes ), most happens in the oceans where this activity directly releases heat from the molten core in to the oceans.

    Are you smarter than a fifth grader?

  43. Karl A. Anderson

    Re: Pot, meet kettle

    In response to Tim Chase, Ashley Pomeroy says "[saying] 'Every one of the authors is closely associated with at least one organization that is receiving funding from Exxon' is an extraordinarily vague accusation." Fair enough. Here's a detailed account of who paid whom to say what:

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/32482

  44. Dr Stephen Jones
    Go

    RTFA

    "Many of the proponents of AGW can't put a point across without absolutely drowning the reader with torrents of words and citations"

    Or insinuating that everyone who disagrees is corrupt, as you say. These are the tactics of Senator McCarthy.

    (Or Salem, Mass. The USA seems to be historically susceptible to fits of Puritanical finger-pointing).

    Timothy Case has written several thousand words here, yet he has failed to address the two points raised by the article.

    Firstly, the Douglass survey looks at the data output of the climate models themselves. This is welcome, and the kind of auditing one would expect climate modelers to perform on their own work regularly. The study finds that the models are contradicted by empirical evidence ... tropospheric models only work at sea level.

    Case ignores this.

    Secondly, the IPCC says it has only a "LOW" understanding of the role of particulate matter (ie, aerosols). This is very important, because particulate matter has a "negative" forcing effect: cooling the earth. In the second illustration (I wish it was larger) we can see that the IPCC admits that the cooling effect of particulate matter is as large as the heating effect of greenhouse gas.

    Case ignores this, too.

    What are the chances Sen.Timothy McCarthy can respond rationally in 200 words or fewer? I wouldn't like to take bets on this...

  45. Woody

    Enough already!!!!

    First: Blogs, "scientific" or not, are like a--holes, everybody has one, and they invariably stink.

    Anyone quoting a blog as evidence of proof is an idiot.

    We have been studying weather/climate for less than a hundred years. We have not learned enough to understand how Earths climate really works. We do not understand why we have periods of warming and cooling. Scientists have not been able to explain why we had ice ages after warm periods.

    I will not discount true scientific proof, but as it stands current climate studies and models have been tainted by politics. This is no longer a scientific debate, but a political one. Politicians want more control over us, and this is just another platform for them to achieve that control.

    Shame on the US (where I live) that we continue to build coal power plants, but have not built a nuclear plant in over twenty years. So before the politicos put the screws on us, ask them "Why?".

    The old adage "Figures lie, and liars figure." aplies very well to the "global warming" debate.

  46. Timothy Chase

    Re:@Timothy Chase

    Max states, "It doesn't matter who they work for; the fact remains that consensus is not proof."

    Empirical science doesn't deal in proof. Proof belongs to Euclidean geometry and other mathematical constructs, but because they are capable of proof, we do not know whether or in what way they correspond to empirical reality. The currency in empirical science is testability and the cummulative weight of the evidence. In freshman philosophy one learns that in principle at least it is possible to coherently argue that the world came into existence only five seconds ago without actually contradicting any evidence. All one has to do is claim that whatever evidence of the world's apparent greater age, including one's memories, came into existence at the same time, perhaps as the result of an omniscient, omnipotent god or demon. But for that very reason science can't work that way.

    It is always possible to cast doubt on any scientific proposition -- however unreasonable or unjustified such doubt may in fact be. The cigarette industry, particularly Phillip Morris, has made great use of this in the past, arguing that we can't actually prove that there are any ill effects associated with smoking. But of course there were and are. I submit that something similar has occured in the case of the fossil fuel industry. In fact I have pointed to a fair amount of evidence to this effect and resources where you can get more information if need be.

    Of course there is also the argument that it will simply cost too much to deal with climate change -- and I believe this is part of the reason why the arguments from the fossil fuel industry get so much play. However, it is worth bearing in mind the fact that the same claim was made with respect to dealing with the problem of CFCs and the destruction of the ozone layer. Industries which manufactured CFCs found dealing with the issue inconvenient and portrayed action on this front as prohibitively costly. Now I have no doubt that the costs associated with dealing with climate change will be much more costly, but whatever the costs, it does not change the actual facts or consequences of climate change, and to deal with climate change we must first recognize it for what it is rather than attempting to deconstruct the evidence by means of extended exercise of cartesian doubt.

    The longer we put off acknowledging the evidence for what it is, the more committed we will be to certain paths (such as the replacement of oil use with coal), the more costly it will be to switch to some other path, the less time we will have in which to act, and the more draconian (and perhaps futile) the measures that will in all likelihood be taken for dealing with a problem which for all intents and purposes we will simply no longer be able to ignore. Those who acknowledge climate change for what it is sooner rather than later will necessarily have a greater voice in determining how we respond to it -- as will we all.

    *

    Max writes, "realclimate.org folks have a vested interest in maintaining their position, as do many of the other bandwagon jumpers..."

    No scientific discipline gets more research money by claiming that all the issues are settled. To the extent that climatologists make this claim, what they actually encourage is the shifting of investment from investigating climate change to the investigation of the means of dealing with climate change, such as alternate energy, bioengineering, or for that matter economics. (Incidentally, I myself am strongly pro- free market, but as identification precedes evaluation, science and the recognition of reality must precede politics and ideology. As a matter of principle, I have no choice in this matter.)

    And RealClimate is well within the mainstream of climate science, like the IPCC. As I have noted, every major scientific organisation which has seen fit to take a position on anthropogenic global warming takes what is essentially a consensus view, namely that the evidence for it is overwhelming.

    A rather extensive list of links to the statements by these scientific organisations may be found here:

    http://www.logicalscience.com/consensus/consensusD1.htm

    *

    Regarding consensus...

    I have argued before that the role of consensus (which is typically tacit rather than articulated -- as this is usually all that is required) in modern science is roughly on par to that of testability. In fact, testability largely rests upon tacit consensus. This is an outgrowth of an interdependence which exists between elements of our empirical knowledge, including scientific theories as well as the division of cognitive labor which necessarily exists in the modern scientific endeavor.

    I won't go into either of these two issues in much depth here, but simply refer you to a couple of my extended comments elsewhere.

    First, a critique of Karl Popper's Principle of Falsifiability which argues for the view that what science requires is testability rather than falsifiability as the result of an interdependence which exists between modern scientific theories (a slightly modified excerpt from a paper giving critical history of early twentieth century empiricism I did over a decade ago):

    Do Scientific Theories Ever Receive Justification? - A Critique of the Principle of Falsifiability

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=498#comment-68052

    Second, an analysis of the nature and role of consensus in science:

    On “Scientific Consensus”

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=498#comment-67875

    I don't expect you to really look at either of these, but I wish to make them available nevertheless.

    *

    Max states, "Please go argue with these folks on a scientific basis, if you harp on their funding I'll know for a fact you don't know what you're talking about."

    Already deal with the science.

    My first post, this thread's sixth. But after so many flawed papers being put out pretty much by the same list of people time and time again, we need to understand why they continue to be floated, spamming the newspapers with outlandish claims which have no actual scientific basis. People need to be aware of what is going on, particularly since they will often lack the time and expertise to examine each and every "technical" paper put out by the denial industry.

    *

    Max, you gave a link to the Inhofe 400 -- a list of "scientists" who presumably dispute anthropogenic global warming. However, the list is composed of numerous scientists who do not actually the basics but who may disagree about one or another detail -- yet had their names added without their consent, scientists who belong to disciplines largely unrelated to climatology (e.g., astrophysics, string theory), and people who aren't actually scientists at all -- including a television-gardener. It is being slowly analysed at rabett.blogspot.com, www.desmogblog.com, scienceblogs.com/stoat and a number of other blogs. No need to go into it in much detail, except to say that it is a good demonstration of how desperate the denial industry is at this point.

    As I have indicated, the basis for anthropogenic climate change is quite strong -- every major scientific organisation that has seen fit to take a position on the issue has come down squarely on the side of climatology, and the list of organisations which have done so is quite long.

  47. Timothy Chase

    Re: RTFA

    Dr Stephen Jones writes, "Timothy Chase has written several thousand words here, yet he has failed to address the two points raised by the article."

    Middle initial of E? Just curious -- I might be familiar with your work, in which case I believe our understanding of the book Genesis will be quite different -- despite our both finding much value in it.

    I will try to keep my response to you short since you seem to value brevity though I am afraid I will exceed your limit.

    Stephen writes, "Firstly, the Douglass survey looks at the data output of the climate models themselves. This is welcome, and the kind of auditing one would expect climate modelers to perform on their own work regularly."

    And they do in a large number of areas. You can get some sense of this for example from the pdfs for the GCM - Model E in use by NASA GISS:

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/tools/modelE/

    They point out the flaws, the areas where improvements still need to be made. In fact they are quite open about it.

    *

    Stephen writes, "The study finds that the models are contradicted by empirical evidence ... tropospheric models only work at sea level. Chase ignores this."

    The paper itself focuses on the tropical troposphere, and actually I dealt with that paper at some length in my first post in this thread, sixth post from the top. Additionally, the models are now extending beyond the stratosphere.

    *

    Stephen writes, "Secondly, the IPCC says it has only a "LOW" understanding of the role of particulate matter (ie, aerosols). This is very important, because particulate matter has a "negative" forcing effect: cooling the earth. In the second illustration (I wish it was larger) we can see that the IPCC admits that the cooling effect of particulate matter is as large as the heating effect of greenhouse gas. Chase ignores this, too."

    I mentioned as much in my first comment (towards the end) and elsewhere in this thread. However, the uncertainties regarding aerosols have narrowed in the past couple of years. But if for some reason they were stronger than we think, this would imply that they are masking the effects of other more positive forcings, e.g., greenhouse gases, and given the largely exponential growth of the latter, things might be more serious than they already appear. But as I have indicated, I wouldn't worry about that.

    Either way, one wouldn't want to use aerosols all that much to deliberately mask the effects of greenhouse gases -- as the reduction in sunlight would result in decreased agricultural production as it became necessarily to increase the levels of aerosols in order to keep up with greenhouse gases. Additionally, due to their acting as nuclei for smaller water droplets, they tend to decrease precipitation and thereby make drought more likely -- which will also tend to decrease agricultural production.

  48. Timothy Chase

    PS to RE:RTFA

    Stephen,

    You had stated, "In the second illustration (I wish it was larger) we can see that the IPCC admits that the cooling effect of particulate matter is as large as the heating effect of greenhouse gas."

    I failed to address that claim. Too focused on aerosols and the length of my post, I suppose.

    However, I believe the chart you are thinking of is this:

    http://www.realclimate.org/images/ipcc2007_radforc.jpg

    from

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/02/aerosols-the-last-frontier/

    ... which they got from IPCC 2007 WG1 AR4, chapter two.

    The forcings for anthropogenic greenhouse gases expressed in Watts per square metre are:

    CO2 1.66, CH4 0.48, N2O 0.16, halocarbons 0.34, stratospheric ozone -0.05, tropospheric ozone 0.35, Total 2.94

    For aerosols:

    direct effect -0.5, cloud albedo effect -0.7, total -1.2

    ... where the total aerosol effect faily to cancel so much as half the greenhouse effect of the greenhouse gases and would fail to cancel the forcing due to CO2.

    Now of course, there are the ranges of uncertainty, such that it might be possible that one might not regard the residual of total aerosol forcing and CO2 forcing as statistically significant, but this would still leave the other greenhouse gases. Additionally, the uncertainties won't be additive, assuming one applies Bayesian logic.

    Then one must also keep in mind the fact that there are other means of knowing the residual, combined effect independently of our knowledge of the individual effects. For an analogy, this would be much like how one may not know the rate at which water is entering a tub through an inlet or leaving it through an outlet, but can nevertheless know quite well what the rate at which water is accumulating in the tub by the rate at which the water level rises.

    Finally, of course the essay for this thread deals with the possibility that we have been underestimating the indrect effect of aerosols. However, that isn't the IPCC - and if one considers the indirect effect of aerosols through their promotion of cloud formation and albedo, it would probably be wise to include their contribution to the cloud greenhouse effect as well as the greenhouse effect due to aerosols themselves. In the latter case, I am thinking of the Asian Brown Cloud that is amplifying global warming in Asia -- roughly by a factor of two.

    Hope this helps...

  49. Alan Wilkinson

    A simple question

    I endorse the criticism that those who indulge in personal attacks rather than focusing on the science simply weaken respect for themselves.

    I have a simple question which I haven't seen answered anywhere - which doesn't mean the answer isn't obvious. However:

    Water vapour is supposed to be the magnifying factor for CO2 with the argument that more CO2 creates warming that increases atmospheric water content thereby further increasing warming. But this is a feedback loop that doesn't seem to require CO2 at all, since water vapour itself creates warming that increases atmospheric water content thereby further increasing warming ....

    So presumably there are natural negative feedback processes that control this very major positive feedback process. How come these are not capable of controlling the much smaller CO2 contribution?

  50. Timothy Chase

    Re: A simple question

    Alan, if I remember correctly, you have an interest in the paleorecord, so I will go into a little more detail in my response to you - using examples that may be of some interest.

    Alan Wilkinson writes,

    "Water vapour is supposed to be the magnifying factor for CO2 with the argument that more CO2 creates warming that increases atmospheric water content thereby further increasing warming. But this is a feedback loop that doesn't seem to require CO2 at all, since water vapour itself creates warming that increases atmospheric water content thereby further increasing warming ...."

    Water vapour feedback does not require carbon dioxide. Remove the carbon dioxide, move the earth a little closer to the sun but give it the same orbital variations and tilt, and you would still have your glacials and interglacials -- although the cooling as you approach the glacials would probably be more rapid and the warming as you approach the interglacials would be slower. In other words, it amplifies the effects of solar incoming radiation (insolation) just as it amplifies the greenhouse effects of carbon dioxide.

    *

    Incidentally, carbon dioxide can and does act as a feedback as well, amplifying the effects of other forcings, but it is a "slow" feedback, like ice sheets. With carbon dioxide, the central issue is its residence time. If you inject a pulse of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a significant percentage of it will still be in the atmosphere thousands of years later.

    So when the climate system is in equilibrium but then disturbed by greater solar insolation due to orbital variations (which are themselves parts the result of our orbit being disturbed by the gravitational fields of Jupiter and Saturn), this raises the temperature of the oceans, reducing their capacity to carry carbon dioxide (and oxygen, by the way), raising the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Then combined with water vapour, the higher concentrations of greenhouse gases amplify the effects of increased solar insolation.

    *

    If one looks at the paleoclimate record, it would appear that carbon dioxide typically acts as a feedback -- amplifying the effects of solar insolation. But there are points in the paleoclimate record where it is clear that what disturbs the climate system is an injection of either carbon dioxide or methane, the latter of which is a greenhouse gas 21 X stronger than carbon dioxide.

    Four of the five major extinction events in the history of our planet appear to have begun that way. For example, the greatest extinction event, the Permian-Triassic, appears to have been the result of a carbon cycle forcing due to a Siberian supervolcano releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over a period on the order of a million years roughly 251 million years ago.

    This would also have been amplified by carbon cycle feedback, including carbon dioxide being released from the oceans, methane being released from shallow water methane hydrates (with some forcing due to methane hydrates melted by the volcanic activity itself), marshes producing methane through organic decay, forest fires, and then a conversion of much of the biosphere into carbon dioxide simply as the result of the extinction event itself.

    By the time it was all over, approximately ninety percent of all species living in the ocean had gone extinct and seventy percent of all species living on the land were gone as well -- with a ninety-nine percent mortality rate for the members of the surviving species. This point in the earth's history is sometimes refered to as "The Great Dying," and for a while it would appear that the dominant form of life was fungus. It took several million years for the biosphere to recover.

    *

    Regarding water vapour feedback, Alan writes, "So presumably there are natural negative feedback processes that control this very major positive feedback process. How come these are not capable of controlling the much smaller CO2 contribution?"

    It is really is a question of residence time.

    A fairly significant fraction of carbon dioxide will remain in the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years, but water vapour falls out of the atmosphere as precipitation. Starting with a climate system which is in quasi-equilibrium, an injection of water vapour into the atmosphere raises the humidity, but at the low temperature of the quasi-equilibrium, this simply means higher humidity, increased cloud formation, then additional rain or snow so that the water vapour settles back down to its original level.

    The additional moisture will remain in the atmosphere for only a few weeks but for the temperature to rise signicantly as the result of the enhanced greenhouse effect would take decades. In contrast, with carbon dioxide remaining in the atmosphere for far greater periods of time, this limitation (with uptake by the carbon cycle due to plants, absorption by ocean and the much slower process of mineralisation) is far less important.

    *

    Incidentally, the greenhouse effect due to carbon dioxide isn't that much smaller than that of water vapour.

    Once the peaks of the absorption in the absorption spectra are saturated, the absorption of radiation takes place principally in the wings, and as a result is to a first approximation roughly proportional to the logarithm of the concentration. Thus for the purpose of analysis of their effects upon temperature, it helps to think not in terms of the concentration of the greenhouse gases but in terms of their doublings.

    And while those parts of the spectra where carbon dioxide would act in the lower troposphere are already saturated by water vapour, water vapour tends to be limited to the lower layers of the troposphere, and as such carbon dioxide is quite effective in the upper parts of the troposphere, stratosphere and above.

    As such, while water vapour amplifies the effects of carbon dioxide, it is by no means proportional to their relative concentrations in the atmosphere. The enhanced greenhouse effect which would result from the direct effect of a forcing by a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would be roughly 1.1 C. With all the feedbacks, we estimate it would be closer to 2.8-2.9 C, best estimate.

  51. Dr Stephen Jones

    Reads like gibberish

    Timothy Case: "Finally, of course the essay for this thread deals with the possibility that we have been underestimating the indrect effect of aerosols.

    If what you're trying to say is "the second part of The Register's article deals IPCC's acknowledgement that the cooling affect of aerosols is not well understood", then ... er, yes.

    Timothy Case: "However, that isn't the IPCC - and if one considers the indirect effect of aerosols through their promotion of cloud formation and albedo, it would probably be wise to include their contribution to the cloud greenhouse effect as well as the greenhouse effect due to aerosols themselves."

    That ... isn't ... what??

    This sentence makes no sense at all. Gramatically, logically, or otherwise.

    Can anyone translate?

  52. Alan Wilkinson

    Popper vs Testability

    First, congrats to Timothy Chase for (mostly) sticking to the science and avoiding the pointless mudslinging which seems sadly endemic in this field.

    I read his article on Falsifiability vs Testability and was unconvinced. There seem to be several levels on which scientific statements can be made and judged.

    Firstly, there is the simple assertion of a direct experimental datum result. Is this reproducible by competent testers? This leads to a true/false judgement within the limits of experimental conditions applied.

    Next, there is the hypothesis of a mathematical relationship between measurable properties. Popper's falsifiability test applies (with the proviso again that the testing must be competent and reproducible). However, as in the example of Newton's gravitational laws Timothy gave, utilitarian principles apply. If the hypothesis is more useful over a range of conditions than any other it is not abandoned until it can be replaced by something better. It may be bounded in the meantime or even permanently and come to co-exist with a more complex hypothesis which deals better with the conditions beyond those bounds.

    Beyond this are the conceptual model hypotheses such as the atoms and molecules that are the basis of chemistry, the Darwinian evolutionary theory of living organisms or the DNA structural theory of genetics.

    These are chosen and survive on the basis of maximum explicative power in the most economical form - "science is only poetry". Here consensus plays a role, though again falsifiability is important and where it occurs it sparks the search for a better model or at the least for a better understanding of the limitations of the model.

    As far as I can see as an ex-physical scientist layman, climate science is still back at the mathematical relationship model stage and suffers from insufficient testability in relation to the number of degrees of freedom inherent in the parameters of those models. I suspect this is the basis for much scientific scepticism of the AGW predictions.

  53. Alan Wilkinson

    Water vapour sensitivity

    Timothy, there are many points I could take up in your response (incidentally you must be thinking of someone else re the paleorecord) but let's focus on the water vapour question.

    Your argument about precipitation doesn't seem to hold water. Whether the temperature rise is solely due to water vapour itself or to CO2 plus water vapour the effect is the same. Same temperature, same clouds, same precipitation, same cooling, same control. Residence time makes no difference. Same equilibrium between temperature, partial pressure of water vapour (= humidity) and precipitation.

    Incidentally the half life of CO2 in atmosphere is relatively short - I understand about three years - not thousands. The argument that CO2 added incrementally will take so long to be removed given the size of the natural carbon cycle seems weak to me. But let's stay on the water vapour cycle first.

  54. Jim Black
    Linux

    What if?

    Timothy Chase and others write at length on some of the aspects of merits pro- and con- of the issue of anthropogenic global warming. Does anyone care to examine the issue of doing nothing?

    The paleoclimate record is clear that there have been cycles of warming and cooling predating and continuing with the existence of mankind. The warm periods seem to have been much warmer than the predicted warming for the alleged AGW. I ask "What happens if we do nothing and what happens if we take all the recommended draconian greenhouse control measures?"

    If we do everything recommended, will the global warming be stopped and the planet continue to have essentially the same climate as now exists? Will the planet get warmer regardless of what we do? The paleoclimate record would seem to indicate that the planet will get warmer - period.

    The reason(s) for the warming periods (and cooling periods) that have been documented seem to be missing from the discussion. Mr. Chase does comment that rising CO2 levels have previously resulted in warming although other sources have indicated that the rise in CO2 levels was in fact a lagging indicator, not a leading indicator. So how do we find out what has previously happened so that we can compare it to known facts now?

    There exists considerable evidence that overall the climate is getting warmer although not in full accordance with the alarmists predictions. The evidence tying mankinds activities to a causal factor in the warming is much more tenuous. The link reminds me of the old false saying that "All cancer victims drink water, thus water causes cancer."

    Whether global warming is manmade or natural does not address the critical issue of what to do about it. If it is manmade beyond any doubt AND combating it will maintain the status quo, then the effort may be worth it. If global warming will occur regardless of what we do, then our efforts should be devoted to ameliorating the effects of a certain GW and doing what is necessary to survive.

    For those hard bent to impose draconian rules of conduct on the rest of us, consider that you might in fact be wrong (as Oliver Cromwell said in the 17th century). Imposing on anyone is a political matter, not a matter of science. Despite all the protestations, computer models, however complex and complete, do not in fact do more than give a representation of what could happen. If the model does not perfectly reproduce actual measurements, the model must always be considered imperfect and subject to error. Our climate prediction models are not perfect by any standard.

  55. Alan Wilkinson

    Another simple question

    Stand outside and feel the temperature. The differences on a cloudy day (cooling) and on a cloudy night (warming) are huge compared with clear skies. In comparison even the currently modelled impacts of vast CO2 increases are minor. Do we really understand cloud, convection and precipitation drivers well enough to have any confidence in these skeletal simplifications of our complex weather patterns?

    Furthermore, the logarithmic relationship Timothy cites for water vapour if valid would also mean we should be seeing the largest increases in temperature per CO2 increase now and these will continue to diminish substantially and perpetually in the future - subject only to a short mixing lag period. Thus CO2 reduction programmes would become less and less cost-effective as global CO2 levels increase.

  56. Timothy Chase

    Re: Reads like gibberish

    Stephen quotes me, "Finally, of course the essay for this thread deals with the possibility that we have been underestimating the indrect effect of aerosols."

    ... and then responds, "If what you're trying to say is 'the second part of The Register's article deals IPCC's acknowledgement that the cooling affect of aerosols is not well understood', then ... er, yes."

    Stephen, I was thinking of this part of the essay:

    "Dividing the atmospheric effect of aerosols into their wet and their dry effects, as the IPCC report does, has been an uncritical assumption so far....

    "'We found that the region affected by this cloud field 'twilight zone' extends to tens of kilometers beyond the identified cloud edge. This suggests that 30 to 60 per cent of the atmosphere previously labeled as 'cloud-free' is actually affected by cloud-aerosol processes that reflect solar energy back into space.'"

    Cloudy outlook for climate models, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/12/27/anton_wylie_climate_models/page2.html

    Essentially, this part of the essay is pointing to one piece of evidence missing from the IPCC report, or to be more accurate, what amounts to a matter of degree where the IPCC report viewed things in more qualitative terms. Given the twilight effect, it would appear that rather than having simply dry and wet aerosols, you have dry shading into wet. In any case, what the twilight zone amounts to is a relatively invisible extension to clouds, which given its extent may nevertheless have a significant albedo effect.

    Here is another essay which goes into the issue in a little more depth:

    May 3, 2007, WIDESPREAD 'TWILIGHT ZONE' DETECTED AROUND CLOUDS

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NasaNews/2007/2007050324883.html

    ... and if you would like something with still more detail:

    Koren, I., L. A. Remer, Y. J. Kaufman, Y. Rudich, and J. V. Martins (2007), On the twilight zone between clouds and aerosols, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L08805, doi:10.1029/2007GL029253.

    http://climate.gsfc.nasa.gov/publications/fulltext/koren_twilight_2007GL029253.pdf

    *

    Stephen quotes me, "However, that isn't the IPCC - and if one considers the indirect effect of aerosols through their promotion of cloud formation and albedo, it would probably be wise to include their contribution to the cloud greenhouse effect as well as the greenhouse effect due to aerosols themselves."

    ... and the responds, "This sentence makes no sense at all. Gramatically, logically, or otherwise. Can anyone translate?"

    Increased opacity of the atmosphere to infrared radiation (regardless of whether this is due to gases, aerosols, or clouds) reduces the rate at which thermal energy is radiated from the climate system. If you were to hold constant the rate at which thermal energy enters the climate system, this would mean that the surface must heat up and radiate more thermal radiation until the amount of thermal energy leaving the climate system (as the result of the absorption of sunlight) is equal to the amount of thermal energy entering the climate system. And as a matter of fact, clouds are relatively close to being blackbodies in the near infrared, so they have a relatively strong greenhouse effect.

    Clouds have an albedo effect, which means essentially that they reflect sunlight before it has the chance to be absorbed at the surface. However, clouds also have a greenhouse effect associated with them because they are fairly opaque to infrared radiation.

    Like greenhouse gases, they will absorb infrared radiation then reemit infrared radiation isotropically, both towards space and towards the surface. The backradiation which they send towards the surface will warm the surface while reducing the rate at which thermal energy is lost to space, hence the additional greenhouse effect.

    *

    Now with the twilight effect, aerosols give rise to a largely invisible extension to clouds. This extension is known as the twilight zone. As an extension of clouds, the twilight zone will have an albedo, albeit a diffuse one. This will give rise to cooling. However, being that the twilight zone is an extension of clouds, it will also have a greenhouse effect where it absorbs and emits thermal radiation, with the backradiation which it sends to the surface resulting in further warming.

    The net effect? Difficult to say. With clouds at least, the albedo effect and greenhouse effect largely cancel one another out, and even the sign of the net residual is determined in part by the altitude of the clouds and their thickness.

    But the albedo effect is likely to be greater than the greenhouse effect. Nevertheless, the greenhouse effect associated with clouds is quite significant: it is the reason why things will tend to remain warmer on a cloudy night than on a clear night. (I remember wondering why it remained warmer on cloudy nights as a child.)

    *

    Incidentally, I had also mentioned the greenhouse effect due to aerosols in relation to the Asian Brown Cloud. Here are a couple of stories on it:

    August 01, 2007, 'Asian Brown Cloud' Particulate Pollution Amplifies Global Warming, http://www.physorg.com/news105192948.html

    Asian Brown Cloud of pollution contributes to global warming, Roger Highfield, 02/08/2007

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2007/08/02/eahaze102.xml

    *

    All in all, I don't expect twilight zones to change the big picture that much. As I pointed out earlier, the original B Scenario projection that Hansen presented along with the A and B, but endorsed as likely to be more accurate before US Congress in 1988 was pretty much on target twenty years later. Uncertainties, approximations and unseen effects typically tend to cancel each other out given the law of large numbers.

    Improvements in modeling tend to leave the big picture much the same, merely bringing it into sharper focus. However, this may change some of the details quite significantly, I would suspect that by properly incorporating twilight zones into the models, we will improve modeling most particularly at the regional level.

  57. Timothy Chase

    Re: Water vapour sensitivity

    Alan wrote, "Your argument about precipitation doesn't seem to hold water. Whether the temperature rise is solely due to water vapour itself or to CO2 plus water vapour the effect is the same. Same temperature, same clouds, same precipitation, same cooling, same control. Residence time makes no difference. Same equilibrium between temperature, partial pressure of water vapour (= humidity) and precipitation."

    Assuming you inject so water vapour into the atmosphere above the equilibrium level for a given a given temperature, the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere (or alternatively, absolute humidity) will return to its equilibrium level before the water vapour has the chance to significantly raise the temperature. Increased humidity means increased cloud formation and increased precipitation. The residence time of water vapour in the atmosphere is approximately ten days.

    However, assuming a longer residence time for carbon dioxide, higher levels of carbon dioxide a greenhouse effect which raises the temperature, increasing the absolute humidity of the air (in a fashion that is roughly proportional to an exponential function of the temperature) where the increased water vapour will remain in the atmosphere due to the higher temperature and will also have its own greenhouse effect - resulting in some additional amplification.

    *

    Alan wrote, "Incidentally the half life of CO2 in atmosphere is relatively short - I understand about three years - not thousands. The argument that CO2 added incrementally will take so long to be removed given the size of the natural carbon cycle seems weak to me. But let's stay on the water vapour cycle first."

    How do you explain the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since we began measurements in 1958?

    Typically the figure given is a half-life of 300 years. However, according to the following paper, with anywhere between a 300 to 5000 GT release of carbon dioxide, while a "halflife" of 300 years is a fair approximation for much of the carbon dioxide, 25% of the carbon dioxide from such a release will "remain" in the atmosphere far longer with 6-7% remaining in the atmosphere even after 100,000 years.

    Archer, David (2005), "Fate of fossil fuel CO2 in geologic time", Journal of Geophysical Research 110 (C9): C09S05.1-C09S05.6, doi:10.1029/2004JC002625, http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~archer/reprints/archer.2005.fate_co2.pdf

    And here is another paper you might want to check:

    Caldeira, Ken & Wickett, Michael E. (2005), "Ocean model predictions of chemistry changes from carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere and ocean", Journal of Geophysical Research 110 (C9): C09S04.1-C09S04.12, doi:10.1029/2004JC002671, http://www.ipsl.jussieu.fr/~jomce/acidification/paper/Caldeira_Wickett_2005_JGR.pdf

    According to the following paper, with anywhere between a 300 to 5000 GT release of carbon dioxide, while a "half-life" of 300 years is a fair approximation for much of the carbon dioxide, 25% of the carbon dioxide from such a release will "remain" in the atmosphere far longer, with 6-7% remaining in the atmosphere even after 100,000 years. (Incidentally, 300 GT is roughly what we put into the atmosphere each year.) This also receives support from the paleoclimate record.

    Typically the figure given is a half-life of 300 years. However, according to the following paper, with anywhere between a 300 to 5000 GT release of carbon dioxide, while a "halflife" of 300 years is a fair approximation for much of the carbon dioxide, 25% of the carbon dioxide from such a release will "remain" in the atmosphere far longer with 6-7% remaining in the atmosphere even after 100,000 years. The slowest process is that of remineralization.

    Archer, David (2005), "Fate of fossil fuel CO2 in geologic time", Journal of Geophysical Research 110 (C9): C09S05.1-C09S05.6, doi:10.1029/2004JC002625, http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~archer/reprints/archer.2005.fate_co2.pdf

    And here is another paper you might want to check:

    Caldeira, Ken & Wickett, Michael E. (2005), "Ocean model predictions of chemistry changes from carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere and ocean", Journal of Geophysical Research 110 (C9): C09S04.1-C09S04.12, doi:10.1029/2004JC002671, http://www.ipsl.jussieu.fr/~jomce/acidification/paper/Caldeira_Wickett_2005_JGR.pdf

    ... and incidentally it appears that several natural carbon sinks becoming saturated somewhat ahead of schedule:

    Southern Ocean saturated with carbon dioxide-study

    17 May 2007 18:00:14 GMT

    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N16230795.htm

    (North Sea)

    Rapid Decline of the CO2 Buffering Capacity in the North Sea and Implications for the North Atlantic Ocean, Thomas, H. et al., Global Biogeochemical Cycles, October 6, 2007 (Vol. 21, GB4001, doi: 10.1029/2006GB002825)

    (Plants)

    Knorr, W., N. Gobron, M. Scholze, T. Kaminski, R. Schnur, and B. Pinty (2007), Impact of terrestrial biosphere carbon exchanges on the anomalous CO2 increase in 2002–2003, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L09703, doi:10.1029/2006GL029019

  58. Timothy Chase

    Re: What if?

    Jim Black wrote, "The reason(s) for the warming periods (and cooling periods) that have been documented seem to be missing from the discussion. Mr. Chase does comment that rising CO2 levels have previously resulted in warming although other sources have indicated that the rise in CO2 levels was in fact a lagging indicator, not a leading indicator."

    I mentioned them. Degassing of the oceans due to increased solar insolation as the result of orbital cycles when temperature leads carbon dioxide, but apparently flood-basalt eruptions and methane hydrate releases in four out five of the major extinctions where carbon dioxide lead temperature.

    Given a climate system which starts in equilibrium and then a disturbance which results in a rise or fall in either temperature or carbon dioxide, you will see a rise or fall in the other as the result of feedback.

    *

    Jim Black wrote, "The evidence tying mankinds activities to a causal factor in the warming is much more tenuous. The link reminds me of the old false saying that 'All cancer victims drink water, thus water causes cancer.'"

    It sounds like you think scientists are saying "There is a correlation, therefore there is causation." This isn't the case since we know the physics.

    By "mankind's activities," I presume you mean raising the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Quite measureable. The connection to warming? Infrared radiation gets absorbed in accordance with the spectral properties of carbon dioxide as measured in labs with measurements of spectral lines for carbon dioxide and other gases composing more than a million entries in the HiTran database, then reradiated isotropically, half towards space, half towards the ground, reducing the rate at which energy leaves the climate system.

    The backradiation which gets absorbed by the surface warms it. Because the radiation gets absorbed and reradiated isotropically, we say that the atmosphere in more opaque to thermal radation. And things will have to continue to warm up until enough radiation is able to make it through the atmosphere to balance the thermal energy which is entering the system as the result of the absorption of sunlight. This follows from the principle conservation of energy.

    And incidentally, are able to image the reemission of radiation from different greenhouse gases at different altitudes in the atmosphere (using satellites that read over 2000 channels) and measure the backradiation at the surface. So we know that the physics applies in the real world. If you need links to the satellite images, videos, an online ModTran database (the poor man's HiTran), etc. I can get them for you.

    *

    Regarding what to do about carbon emissions, I personally would be interested in an international "Manhattan" project for the development of alternate energy. Richer nations have slower population growth. Some countries in Europe and elsewhere are already experiencing negative population growth. If you don't grow the economy, population growth will and carbon emissions will grow along with it. So in my view at least, you need to find a way to make room for economic development without substantially sacrificing living standards.

    Fusion, solar power, wind -- but pool the research and the costs, then make the technology widely available. And we might also want to encourage the development of agrichar/biochar for use in agriculture. Its cheap, enriches the soil raising agricultural production, and more or less permanently (on the scale of centuries at least) sequesters carbon.

    Just a thought.

  59. Timothy Chase

    Re: Another simple question

    Alan writes, "Stand outside and feel the temperature. The differences on a cloudy day (cooling) and on a cloudy night (warming) are huge compared with clear skies. In comparison even the currently modelled impacts of vast CO2 increases are minor. Do we really understand cloud, convection and precipitation drivers well enough to have any confidence in these skeletal simplifications of our complex weather patterns?"

    The effects of CO2 are slow but steady. There is a great deal of variation within winter or summer, but we know that on the average days in winter are so much colder than days in summer, and this is because of the amount of radiation the top of the atmosphere is receiving. Carbon dioxide acts pretty much the same way, affecting the average.

    Climate models aren't trying to calculate the actual weather on a particular day twenty or forty years from now at a particular location. They are trying to calculate what the average weather and variation in that weather will be either for the globe or for a region will be at "around that time." In all honesty, though, I would be quite hesitant to trumpet much in the way of regional results as of yet.

    However, as I have noted, they have done quite well at predicting the cooling of the stratosphere, polar amplification, nights warming more quickly than days and winters more quickly than summers, the expansion of the Hadley cells, a super greenhouse effect where backradiation rises more rapidly than thermal radiation from the surface as the water surface temperature rises above 30 C, that land warms more quickly than ocean, the expansion of the range of hurricanes and cyclones.

    They are tested against paleoclimate records, volcanic eruptions which disturb the climate system for years, and by means of hindcasting. And moreover, Scenario B from 1988 was predicted to be a better match than A and c by Hansen before the US Congress in 1988 -- and it has been pretty much dead on for the past twenty years. And that was using just a single run for each scenario rather than ten or so runs to more fully probe the attractor -- using a model with a lower resolution and much less of the physics.

    Incidentally, here is something Hadley just came out with a little earlier this year: DePreSys

    Improved Surface Temperature Prediction for the Coming Decade from a Global Climate Model

    Science, Aug 10, 2007, Doug M. Smith, et al

    http://www.heatisonline.org/contentserver/objecthandlers/index.cfm?ID=6557&method=full

    Hadley is also working on extensive, global realtime monitoring of pressure, temperature, etc.. But it is the distribution of the heat content in the ocean which matters most over the time frame of a decade. Probably longer. Oh, and you should see the information we are able to get from satellites. I will get a few links out tomorrow.

  60. Timothy Chase

    PS to Re: Water vapour sensitivity

    Sorry.

    Dupped different versions of the same paragraph. I don't know as if I have ever done that before, but I suppose it is a hazard of writing in Notepad, then pasting into the form. Got into the habit of doing things that way when I lost posts due to my browser crashing a while back.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whatever the "results"

    I still like my house warm in winter and cool in summer.

    I have to drive to 90% of the places I drive to, and chose to drive to the rest. Sometimes I even go out on my [motor]bike just for the hell of it.

    I have no intention of walking to the South of France for my holidays, nor do I intend to "holiday" in Birmingham.

    I would love to be able to use public transport (sleep on the way to work, get drunk at dinner time...) but public transport is just not up to it. Let's face it, unless you live in a major city and travel to another location in a major city (preferably the same one), public transport is just too expensive, takes too long and we still need to drive to and from the nearest public transport terminus (and pay parking).

    However, I can bask in my aura of self righteousness in knowing that as I pay massive premiums in environmental taxes for all the gas, electricity, petrol, parking and road tax I am comfortable that all the damage I am doing is being offset by the environmentally remedial actions undertaken with said tax money.

  62. mommycalled

    Another simple question

    I am continually amazed at the lack of common sense on the part of the global warming deniers, but what is truly mind-boggling is the lengths they will go to create FUD. The global warming deniers try to confuse everyone with the fact that there have been warming and cooling periods in the past. Of course there has! What the deniers don't want you to know is that this warming/cooling occurred over periods of hundreds to thousands of years, while the current warming trend is over tens of years. The important fact is the rate of increase. The little ice age occurred between the 16th and 19th centuries. If the current temperature increases occurred over the same period it wouldn't be a big concern, but the increase in temperature has occurred since roughly 1920. The deniers keep bring up the red herring that water vapor is a more important greenhouse gas than CO2, What they don't want you to know is that the US alone is dumping 2 billion tons of extra CO2every year (by the way I used the oil/gas industry value, not the more realistic numbers from the IPCC report), but is putting little if any extra water vapor into the air. The deniers harp on the fact that more water is being evaporated at the equator. I hope so because when water is evaporated and moved northwards/southwards by the atmosphere the global heat balance is maintained. This is well understood mechanism is why we are able to live just about anywhere on earth.

  63. Timothy Chase

    Infrared Imaging and Re: Popper vs Testability

    Alan,

    I am going to respond shortly to you comment (much of which I agree with, incidentally), but first I would like to make available samples of the kind of information we are able to get via infrared imaging. I would like to combine things and make this my last post - unless someone (yourself included of course) wants to bring up some other issues.

    *

    The following images carbon dioxide rising up from industrialised centres at 8 km by means of its infrared emissions:

    Products - AIRS Carbon Dioxide

    NASA AIRS Mid-Tropospheric (8km) Carbon Dioxide

    http://www-airs.jpl.nasa.gov/Products/CarbonDioxide/

    The following page has QuickTime movies showing the evolution over a two month period of total column ozone, carbon monoxide, water vapour concentration at half surface pressure, outgoing longwave radiation, cloud fraction, the three-dimensional structure of a storms water vapour with layers peeled away, atmospheric temperature at 500 mb, etc. all using infrared imaging based upon the absorption/emission spectra of various atmospheric constituents - and includes a movie explaining in detail how it is done:

    Multimedia Animations

    http://airs.jpl.nasa.gov/Multimedia/Animations/

    The following will give you more information on what is being done elsewhere:

    Visualization of the global distribution of greenhouse gases using satellite measurements, by Michael Buchwitz. The Encyclopedia of Earth. Posted July 31, 2007

    http://www.eoearth.org/article/Visualization_of_the_global_distribution_of_greenhouse_gases_using_satellite_measurements

    ... and of course there is more. Could provide some more links a little later if anyone is interested. But this is the some of the data that we are testing the new models against, obviously.

    *

    Now your post dealt actually with two issues - my short piece on Popper that I provided a link to and the scientific status of climate models, that is, how advanced they are. I will deal with them in that order, but keep the bit on Popper as short as I can since I doubt it will be of general interest.

    The two central issues with regard to Popper's Principle of falsifiability is the question of whether advanced scientific theories are in fact falsifiable and whether or not they ever receive any justification such that they may properly be regarded as true. Contrasting his view with induction, he makes it clear that in his view, scientific theories may never be regarded as receiving justification. Instead, what distinguishes scientific theories from other forms of knowledge is the fact that they make predictions such that if those predictions turn out to be false, such theories may be regarded as falsified. Regarded in this way, they are capable of being demonstrated false, but never true.

    However, with advanced scientific theories it is generally impossible to test them in a manner that is independent of other theories. For example, when one creates an instrument for measuring the angle of light which has presumably been bent by passing too close to the sun, or a theory of celestial motion, or even of human psychology -- to the extent that one finds it necessary to depend upon the accounts given by others. To test a given advanced theory, one must generally assume that the theories which are in the background (those being relied upon in order to test the advanced theory) are themselves true.

    Now I go on to argue that justification exists in degrees, and as such, we tentatively regard theories which are successful as a form of knowledge (what is refered to as "corrigible knowledge"), but that they remain open to being tested in the future. But given the fact that they have been tested and have acquired a degree of justication which may be far greater than the theory which is in the foreground, they may be assumed which testing that theory - but in this case, a negative result cannot strictly be regarded as falsification (which would be categorical) but as disconfirmation (which is a matter of degree). However, falsifiability may still be regarded as an ideal which theorists and experimentalists should aim for even though in the strictest sense it is generally something that cannot be achieved.

    Incidentally, I wouldn't begin to think that what I gave above constitutes a systematic philosophy of science, and as a matter of fact there is much in your post that I agree with. But this is my disagreement with a strict principle of falsifiability as layed out by Karl Popper. My position is actually fairly mainstream and traces its roots to Duhem's Thesis from 1892. (Popper has belonged more to the history of the philosophy of science than to the philosophy of science pretty much since the 1950s.)

    *

    Alan states, "As far as I can see as an ex-physical scientist layman, climate science is still back at the mathematical relationship model stage and suffers from insufficient testability in relation to the number of degrees of freedom inherent in the parameters of those models. I suspect this is the basis for much scientific scepticism of the AGW predictions."

    Once again, I need to yin-yang this a bit.

    If by "mathematical relationship model stage," you mean that climate models are simply going off of correlations, I would of course have to disagree -- but I am not sure that this is what you mean. But my point is simply that they are going off of the physics, whether it happens to be in terms of measurable spectral absorption, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, or... Well, with the incorporation of the carbon cycle, for example, experiments will actually be done with an organic soup in sea water where they will subject it to turbulence to see how much carbon dioxide and methane are released.

    But this will be according to a very specific recipe, including how the turbulence is generated such that the experiments being used to generate the formula are something which can be precisely duplicated. Likewise, with plants, algae and so on, they will incorporate a certain highly deliminated set of well studied, representative species where they know what the response of those species are to temperature, precipitation, soil moisture, water salinity and so on -- as the result of extensive experiments. The carbon cycle is at its early stages, and in some respects the biological world which they create seems quite artificial. But what is important to them is that it is precisely defined -- and can be methodically extended over time.

    Now there are certainly approximations that are used. Formula which aren't exact, but which permit them to perform the calculations more quickly. No doubt this is a large part of the reason why different models will often give somewhat different results. That and the fact that different models will have different physics incorporated into them, some which may better simulate ocean or atmospheric chemistry, for example, or the physics of light.

    But as near as I have been able to tell so far, the models are constructed entirely out of local laws, principally physics and chemistry, but now also "laws" which govern members various representative species of life. Not much room for tinkering or adjustable parameters.

    *

    However, one area where we know there is substantial disagreement between various models is with climate sensitivity. This is where you might get the impression that there are too many degrees of freedom. But climate sensitivity isn't something which gets plugged into the models -- it is something which falls out of them. They will run experiments with different levels of carbon dioxide, do an ensemble of runs to the new equilibrium, then calculate the climate sensitivity based upon the carbon dioxide and the final temperature.

    What results in different models obtaining different results? The physics which gets incorporated into the models, the resolution with respect to various variables (time, space and spectra), species of aerosols, the time-saving approximations, and undoubtedly a fair number of butterflies.

    But the fact is that we aren't entirely dependent upon the models for calculating climate sensitivity. There is the manner in which volcanoes disturb the climate system and it returns to equilbrium is another avenue, for example. But there is also the paleoclimate record - 460,000 years worth - which strongly suggests that it is 2.9 C per doubling or somewhat above. And additionally, we know that just as ensembles of runs give us a better indication of what behavior we should expect from the climate system, ensembles of models tend to do better at predicting the behavior of the climate system than models considered in isolation.

    So consequently, it is possible to combine multiple lines of evidence by means of bayesian logic and arrive at a better estimate of what the climate sensitivity actually is - with a narrow range of uncertainty than what you would get from any one line of evidence considered in isolation. The result? About 2.8 C or somewhat above. Same result as what we get from the paleoclimate record for the past 460,000 years, more or less. About the same figure that was estimated back in the 1960s.

    3 C.

  64. Alan Wilkinson
    IT Angle

    Atmospheric half-life of CO2

    The total mass of global atmospheric CO2 is 3000 Gigatonnes. The annual CO2 exchange is around 800 Gigatonnes. Therefore half of the CO2 is recycled every 3.75 years.

    The residency argument is an argument that natural sinks cannot cope with any additional CO2 except by conversion to carbonate minerals through a very slow process. It is not actually an argument about the residency of global CO2 but about the persistence of additional CO2. As such it is dependent on large assumptions about natural feedback processes that may not be either true or accurate. Given the size of the natural cycle (20x that of the anthropogenic emissions) there is a lot of room for error. Small changes either natural or man-made in the many natural processes that are much faster than mineralisation would make vast differences to the residency estimate.

  65. Alan Wilkinson

    Water vapour sensitivity

    "Assuming you inject so water vapour into the atmosphere above the equilibrium level for a given a given temperature, the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere (or alternatively, absolute humidity) will return to its equilibrium level before the water vapour has the chance to significantly raise the temperature."

    This simply cannot be correct assuming the equilibrium level increases monotonically with temperature which is what you are assuming when magnifying the CO2 increase.

    A small increase in water vapour will generate a small increase in temperature thus supporting a further small increase in water vapour ....

    There must be other factors controlling this process. Residence time is not one of them.

  66. Alan Wilkinson

    Re: Another question - clouds

    'The effects of CO2 are slow but steady. There is a great deal of variation within winter or summer, but we know that on the average days in winter are so much colder than days in summer, and this is because of the amount of radiation the top of the atmosphere is receiving. Carbon dioxide acts pretty much the same way, affecting the average.

    Climate models aren't trying to calculate the actual weather on a particular day twenty or forty years from now at a particular location. They are trying to calculate what the average weather and variation in that weather will be either for the globe or for a region will be at "around that time."'

    But average temperatures are inadequate for a model that depends on radiative transmissions proportional to the fourth power of temperature. You must know the distribution of temperature extremes to use a model like that. If they change, so will the radiation balance.

  67. Alan Wilkinson

    Ocean chemistry

    There are many heroic assumptions in those ocean chemistry models Timothy referenced. Since the current atmospheric:ocean CO2 distribution is apparently 1:50 and the current uptake by natural processes of the anthropogenic CO2 is said to be rather less than 50% there seems a lot of room for slower acting feedback processes to modify the predictions. Only positive feedbacks seem to be incorporated into these models yet normally natural systems are dominated by negative feedbacks?

  68. Jim Black
    Linux

    Re: Re: What If?

    Mr. Chase did not comment on what I had hoped would be the most pertinent question in my previous post:

    "If we do everything recommended, will the global warming be stopped and the planet continue to have essentially the same climate as now exists? Will the planet get warmer regardless of what we do?"

    The postings have been against and for anthropogenic global warming (hereinafter AGW). That seems to accept as fact that only greenhouse gases (GH) could cause the GW and excludes other factors. Yet, since the paleoclimate record indicates that there have been ice ages and periods in the past warmer than it is today, frequently before man was walking around, there had to be reasons for those pre-man climate changes. What were those causes? What began the warming/cooling processes? Are those causes still in existence and, if so, to what extent do they affect the climate of the earth today?

    Start at the paleoclimate record, preferably sometime before man was here or at least when the number of people existing and their lifestyle can be ignored as a factor in the climate. Travel forward in time as the climate changes and see what happens and to the best of our knowledge, why it happens. Mr. Chase has been quite prolific in writing about the effects of GH but has not tied the historic cycles together into an understandable whole. We need the view of a wide-angle lens but we are getting a microscopic view.

    The pro-AGW people are proposing the expenditure of vast quantities of fiscal resources in pursuit of an unclear objective. In a business sense, there are at least three analyses that would be useful to perform before the expenditure of those resources. First, Root Cause analysis; are GH gases in fact the entire cause of the warming or are there other contributing causes that provide significant effects. Second, Life Cycle Cost Analysis; what will be the cost to the environment, the economies, the lifestyles of the people? Are there long term effects hoped to be achieved, what are those effects, how much will they cost, what are alternatives to those actions and their effects, and what are those costs? Third, Cost-Benefit analysis. What benefits will be achieved at what cost (certainly ties in with LCCA)?

    Another analysis would be to examine how to adapt to the projected changes in climate and the costs of doing so. Mankind is amazingly adaptable when forced to adapt or die. Perhaps the optimum solution is not to fight the GH gases but to adapt to the changes that are coming - especially if the changes are not solely caused by increasing GH gases.

    In physics, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In human affairs, for every action there is an unintended consequence. With focus solely on GH gases and an unproven assumption of AGW, we are not getting the full story on the climate. Little wonder that there are significant numbers of people who suspect that the pro-AGW people are in fact a religious cult, wedded to a philosophy of imposing their will on the rest of us. The issue is too important to be left to incomplete science or to a belief inflexible as a religion.

  69. Alan Wilkinson

    Re - falsification or testability of climate models

    'If by "mathematical relationship model stage," you mean that climate models are simply going off of correlations, I would of course have to disagree -- but I am not sure that this is what you mean.'

    No, I didn't mean that. I understand the models are based on numerous physical theoretic mathematical relationships. In that sense they are like a composite of Newton's laws and many others. This weakens the testability of them rather seriously as they are effectively many hypotheses resulting in only a small number of testable predictions.

    And the testability is also limited by the large data uncertainties inherent in estimating the historic record which currently is the only data that gives a significant model test over substantial changes in environmental variables.

  70. Svein Skogen
    Happy

    Strange unbalance

    There is one strangeness I notice as a layman reading the posts here. One "side" almost always include references to documentation for his statements. The "other side" almost never does the readers the courtesy of including such references. Not that I want to point fingers at anything, but it seems like atleast one of the sides do little more than "creative writing", instead of pointing at facts, but then again that's just my humble opinion.

    By all means, please go on, as I have found a lot of the comments a lot more explaining than the article itself.

    I do however have one question for Mr. Chase:

    How much does the following two variables affect the half-life of a CO2 emission:

    a) The temperature of the emission

    b) The altitude of the emission (relative to ground, not sea level)

    //Svein

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Chaos Therory at work.

    just goes to show the the atmosphere is far too complex to predict, climate and weather are all perfect examples of chaos theory.

    Hell nobody know how much water vapour effects the atmosphere, just as nobody knows how your farts effect it.

    Climate change is almost a modern scientific religion, you either believe it you don't. Personally I do not trust either side in the arguments as its all Political and anyone can screw the figures to portray their version as being true.

  72. Mark
    Stop

    @AlanWilkinson

    Please tell us WHY average temperatures aren't sufficient when the effects depend on the fourth power (which isn't correct,only the TOTAL blackbody radiation is covered by Stephan's Law, which is the fourth power of temperature)?

    In A level stats, we were told that if we calculated the mean using the standard techniques (which are sufficient for linear regression analysys), they would be roughly 10% lower than they should be if we calculated the polynomial relationship if this relation was to the second power. This would seem to me to be stating that we CAN use linear regression in higher-power polynomials to an approximation suffiecient to draw conclusions. And in any case, the polynomial relationship could be used to remove this approximation in any case.

    e.g.

    If mean temperatures go up 3 degrees, we can work out what that would do to the probability of any particular temperature spectra and the probabilities could be input into the polynomials to find the change in "mean" that would result in the temperature change when that new spectra is applied to the derived values. This is the same thing as when quantum science is used in working out the change in electron energies in (for example) superconductors, lasers (on thei frickin heads or not) and semiconductors. These changes are complex polynomials yet they seem to be able to get fairly useful output.

    So what do you know that stops this statistical analysis from working in the field of radiative transfer IN THE ATMOSPHERE ALONE?

  73. Timothy Chase

    Re: Water vapour sensitivity

    Alan Wilkinson wrote, "A small increase in water vapour will generate a small increase in temperature thus supporting a further small increase in water vapour ...."

    What you seem to be thinking of is roughly speaking a geometric sum with an infinite number of terms -- and although you may not intend this, to some it may seem that you are suggesting that since it has an infinite number of terms, the geometric sum will increase without limit. However, infinite geometric sums often have finite limits. For example, (1/2)+(1/4)+(1/8)+.... = 1 where each term is half that of the term before it. In the limit.

    *

    Alan Wilkinson wrote, "There must be other factors controlling this process. Residence time is not one of them."

    If you are speaking of a climate model, insofar as every element interacts with a large of other elements which taken as a whole constitute a single climate system, then yes, of course there will be other factors, but residence time will be one of them.

    The fact that a given pulse of increased atmospheric water vapour will rapidly decay long before it has the chance to raise temperature due to its increased greenhouse effect is of central importance in this context. The rapid decay is largely due to the imbalance between increased precipitation and reduced evaporation given the increased albedo of clouds while the system is near the initial temperature, where both the higher precipitation and lower evaporation will have the effect of on the net removing water vapour from the atmosphere. The gradualness of the process through which the climate system reachieves the balance between incoming and outgoing radiation and the rapidity with which water vapour on the net is removed from the atmosphere implies that water vapour should be treated as a feedback, not as a forcing.

    *

    In contrast, depending upon the initial perturbution from equilibrium, carbon dioxide may play either the role of a feedback or a forcing.

    With the glacial cycles it is playing the part of a feedback.

    Periodic changes in the earth's orbit due to the presence of Jupiter and Saturn affect the amount of sunlight the earth receives and where the sunlight falls. A small rise in the average temperature of the earth over a long enough period of time reduces the extent of the glaciers and the capacity of the oceans to absorb carbon dioxide and to hold on to the carbon dioxide which they already have.

    Reducing glaciers increases the absorption of solar energy, and increased levels of carbon dioxide reduces the rate at which the climate system is able to radiate thermal energy to space. Both processes amplify the initial effect of increased incoming solar radiation. At this point carbon dioxide is acting as a feedback.

    *

    But with four out of five of the major extinction events (as well as other events in the earth's history), carbon dioxide plays the part of a forcing.

    251 million years ago, the Permian-Triassic extinction began with a pyroclastic flood-basalt supervolcano erupting in Siberia. The eruption itself lasted roughly a million years. It sent large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Pyroclastic events sent dust and sulfates into the atmosphere, resulting in some temporary reduction in the amount of sunlight reaching the surface for years.

    Lava flow burned large forests, but judging from the chemical evidence, some of the lava which reached the ocean caused large quantities of methane to be released from their icy hydrate prisons in the shallows along the edges of the continental plates. The initial rise in levels of carbon dioxide and methane are not a response of the climate system, but are part of how the climate system is initially disturbed, in this case by a geologic event.

    At this point temperature follows carbon dioxide, and in this case, to some extent methane.

    *

    Then of course there will be the slow feedbacks -- where carbon dioxide plays the role of a forcing in the initial pulse but the role of feedback in the climate system response.

    After the eruption in Siberia 251 million years ago, there were changes in icesheets which lagged well behind changes in temperature, and likewise feedbacks from the carbon cycle itself. The rise in temperature reduced the rate at which the ocean absorbed carbon dioxide and increased the rate at which it released carbon dioxide until the increased level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and reduced level of carbon dioxide in the ocean brought these two rates back into balance at quasi-equilibrium.

    The increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to higher temperatures is feedback -- as would be methane produced by swamps or the more general rise in temperature of the oceans. But it is the pulse of carbon dioxide from the eruption and the methane which is released from the methane hydrates by lava flow which are treated in the calculations as initial inputs rather than as calculated quantities, and therefore which are regarded as forcings.

    *

    Of course, the same thing at least in principle might be done with water vapour at some point. For example, if one found that the amount of water vapour being released into the atmosphere by industry was having a significant enough effect upon the climate system, there it would be treated as a forcing -- since it wouldn't be treated as a calculated result of the climate system reacts to a disturbance, but would be treated as an input in the calculations.

    However, the atmospheric water vapour resulting from increased evaporation from the oceans would still be a feedback. But water vapour from industry won't build up to levels that are significant enough to affect the climate system in that way so as to be generally included in the calculations as a forcing.

  74. Timothy Chase

    Re: Another question - clouds

    This is in response to the comment posted Monday 31st December 2007 03:22 GMT

    Alan Wilkinson wrote, "But average temperatures are inadequate for a model that depends on radiative transmissions proportional to the fourth power of temperature. You must know the distribution of temperature extremes to use a model like that. If they change, so will the radiation balance."

    Granted. The individual runs are calculating all the relevant physical variables for a three-dimensional grid, and these are average values but individual values. Then given slightly different initial conditions (typically in which one varies the heat content of a few cells in the ocean) and let the butterflies take it from there, one will arrive at different runs. Then with the ensemble of these runs, one can calculate average values for a given period of time, one can calculate the variation or spread, and one can compare various statistical measures of a large variety of physical variables (temperature at different altitudes, pressure, wind, soil moisture, humidity, downwelling infrared, cloud fraction, rainfall, etc.) at different levels (global, continental, latitudinal, seasonal, etc.) against what is actually observed.

    And likewise, you could compare trends seen in a model's ensemble with trends seen in the world. For example, does a given model's ensemble reproduce the same linear trend towards increased rain during the winter that we see in England for the past forty years? Or better yet, does it underestimate or overestimate the slope, and if so, by how much?

    *

    Of course, what we are more focused on an present are usually at a higher level than trends in precipitation in England during the winter. Generally global trends, trends for a given continent, but also the behavior of the El Nino / Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Atlantic Oscillation, Indian Diapole, etc.. The latter is a large part of what is involved in Hadley's DePreSys, what is making it more accurate. That and the fact that as we take into account the global distribution of heat content in the upper layers of the ocean, we are able to initialise the models with the real world data.

    Then instead of simply varying a little of the heat content in the oceans as we have done in the past, we are able to initialise individual runs with real world data, in this case from consecutive days, and rather than simply focus on the long-range forcasts we are able to do decadal forcasts. DePreSys consequently shows greatly improved hindcasts when compared with the same model where that model is not initialised with the real world data, particularly over the decadal range.

    For more information on DePreSys, please see for example the article I refered to earlier:

    Improved Surface Temperature Prediction for the Coming Decade from a Global Climate Model, Science, Aug 10, 2007, Doug M. Smith, et al

    http://www.heatisonline.org/contentserver/objecthandlers/index.cfm?ID=6557&method=full

  75. Alan Wilkinson

    Clouds: Chicken vs Egg

    Clouds and aerosols have impacts on global temperature at least comparable to greenhouse gases: http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/7/2585/2007/acp-7-2585-2007.pdf

    Global cloud coverage decreased by 4% 1984-2000: http://www.cosis.net/abstracts/EMS05/00213/EMS05-A-00213.pdf

    This period coincides closely with a strong global warming phase. Which is cause and which is effect?

    See also http://preview.tinyurl.com/yrva4d for further exposure of the chicken and egg question and the link in it also elaborating on aerosol impacts:

    http://climatesci.colorado.edu/2007/08/13/important-new-paper-on-the-role-of-aerosols-on-regional-and-global-climate/

    Finally, this is a good, readable summary that appeals to me in logic and tone:

    http://www.weatherquestions.com/Roy-Spencer-on-global-warming.htm

    It includes these paragraphs which seem to me to be at the crux of the question I asked and which at this time of posting has not been answered adequately IMHO:

    "1. All climate modelers must build their models based upon our current understanding of how the climate system works. Therefore, if there is some important - but as yet poorly understood - process that they are missing, they will all tend to make the same error. Past evidence for this is the tendency for climate models to drift away from a realistic climate over time. This suggests that it takes a higher level of understanding to capture the intricate processes that stabilize the climate system.

    2. The most important example of this lack of understanding is, in my view, how precipitation systems control the Earth's natural greenhouse effect, over 90% of which is due to water vapor and clouds. The Earth's total greenhouse effect is not some passive quantity that can be easily modified by mankind adding a little carbon dioxide -- it is instead constantly being limited by precipitation systems, which remove water vapor and adjust cloud amounts to keep the total greenhouse effect consistent with the amount of available sunlight. Our understanding of this limiting process is still immature, and therefore not contained in the models."

    I hope Timothy will continue to respond as I appreciate the opportunity for informed rational discussion.

  76. Timothy Chase

    Re - falsification or testability of climate models

    This is in response to Alan Wilkinson's post of 31st December 2007 07:05 GMT

    I had written, "If by 'mathematical relationship model stage,' you mean that climate models are simply going off of correlations, I would of course have to disagree -- but I am not sure that this is what you mean."

    Alan Wilkinson responded, "No, I didn't mean that. I understand the models are based on numerous physical theoretic mathematical relationships. In that sense they are like a composite of Newton's laws and many others. This weakens the testability of them rather seriously as they are effectively many hypotheses resulting in only a small number of testable predictions."

    The physics and chemistry which the models are based on are already a well-supported part of the fabric of our scientific understanding of the world. They have been bought and paid for by the science done over the past several centuries. We are speaking of Newton's gravitational theory -- general relativity doesn't make that much of a difference under earth conditions. We are speaking of thermodynamics -- such as when we use the Clausius-Clapeyron relation to determine the partial pressure of carbon dioxide or water vapor coming off the ocean, and it dates back to 1834.

    We have the spectra of greenhouse gases, bought and paid for by countless laboratory experiments, with data describing over a million lines of absorption and their strengths stored in the HiTran database. This detailed work began as part of a project by the military in the 1980s to study the transmission of infrared radiation through the earth's atmosphere -- for military purposes.

    However, it is virtually derivable from the first principles of quantum mechanics as they apply to the vibrational, rotational and rovibrational states of molecules as electromagnetically-induced quantized states of excitation subject to exponential decay. Climatologists use Stefan-Boltzmann's law -- which you are of course familiar with -- that was discovered in 1879 and derived theoretically in 1884.

    They make use of heat capacity at constant volume and pressure -- but these are well studied and well known. They make use of the equations governing compressibility and thermal expansion, such as when they calculate the predicted flow of glaciers or predict the thermal expansion of the earth's oceans - but deny them these well-known and well-supported principles and you lose your mechanical thermometers. And these too are ultimately derivable in terms of statistical quantum mechanics.

    Do you have any idea how well-tested these principles are? In how many areas they are applied? How much evidence we have accumulated for them? How much modern technology relies upon their being right? And how exactly would you go about testing a climate model if you didn't have recourse to earlier scientific theories for which we have accumulated a wealth of evidence? Upon what principles would your instruments be based?

    *

    One way or another, you would have to assume such well-justified physical principles, in terms of the principles of optics, radiation transfer theory, thermodynamics, or fluid dynamics when using satellites, thermometers or other instruments to observe the weather or distribution of various atmospheric constituents or measure the concentrations of gases and dusts in the atmosphere and chemicals in the ocean. And if at some point they turn out to be mere approximations as in the case of Newton's gravitational theory, ask yourself whether using a more exact theory will make any difference in the predictions which follow.

    In the case of Newton's gravitational theory, you are able to estimate its limits by recourse to general relativity. By reference to the latter more advanced theory, you are able to demonstrate that whatever predictions you might make under earth conditions by employing the former will be consistent with the theory that superseded it.

    *

    By making recourse to the science which is already known and well-supported, we are able to ask a great many questions that we would otherwise lack the language or even concepts to ask. By using the principles of such of such established science, we are able to make a far wider range of far more exacting predictions regarding the behavior of the biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and electromagnetic spectra.

    Without recourse to such well-established science, we would still be groping for the Ancient Greek elements of earth, water, air and fire. By bringing together such well-established principles, we are able to reduce the number and scope of additional assumptions which must be made in order to predict the behavior of the climate system as a whole.

    At some level, all of empirical science and even human knowledge is an experiment of sorts. It is fallible. It is possible that by bringing together these principles and using them together and making predictions that we will discover some of their limitations. But if so, this will also afford us the opportunity to learn something more. Science is fallible, it makes mistakes, but it is also self-correcting. It is only by bringing together the elements of our scientific understanding that we achieve scientific progress and further the growth of science.

    *

    "And the testability is also limited by the large data uncertainties inherent in estimating the historic record which currently is the only data that gives a significant model test over substantial changes in environmental variables."

    There are large uncertainties in many cases. However, one reduces many of these uncertainties by recourse to well-established scientific knowledge, using the physical principles describing radioactive decay, for example, to date various materials, or the principles chemistry to estimate the the temperatures that existed at various points in the earth's history by means of various chemical proxies.

    By combining various lines of evidence, one narrows the uncertainties. And the justification a conclusion receives from multiple lines of investigation is often far greater than that which it would receive from any one line of investigation considered in isolation from the rest. This is the insight underlying our use of Bayesian logic -- although it goes far deeper and is far more basic.

    Properly, science is a unity because the reality it studies is a unity. The true is the whole.

  77. Timothy Chase

    PS Re: Another question - clouds

    Regarding my comment posted Monday 31st December 2007 20:51 GMT

    The second sentence should have read, "The individual runs are calculating all the relevant physical variables for a three-dimensional grid, and these aren't average values but individual values."

    Other typos, but I will let them go. Alan -- I am enjoying the discussion, and I will be posting a little later.

  78. Timothy Chase

    Re: Clouds: Chicken vs Egg (Hatzianastassiou)

    A note for the readers: This is in response to Alan Wilkinsin's comment of 1st January 2008 02:31 GMT. Alan has brought up several papers which bring us into what may be an odd territory for some. As I have pointed out earlier, clouds have both an albedo effect which cools and a greenhouse effect which warms. The albedo effect is what people normally associate with clouds.

    Thus it might seem that by reducing the level of clouds you will warm the surface. However, there is a fellow by the name of Lindzen who some time ago proposed the "iris effect" where a reduction in clouds might lead to cooling because the reduction in clouds would let the thermal radiation out rather than trapping it. This is largely what the links in "Clouds: Chicken vs Egg" deal with. Largely. But in any case, it will help to know that OSR stands for outgoing (reflected) shortwave radiation -- or sunlight whereas OLR stands for outgoing longwave radiation, and TOA standards for top of atmosphere.

    Currently I will be focusing on just one author: Hatzianastassiou.

    *

    Alan pointed us to the following paper:

    Clouds and aerosols have impacts on global temperature at least comparable to greenhouse gases: http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/7/2585/2007/acp-7-2585-2007.pdf

    Honestly, that looks interesting. I particularly like the fact that they are using a finer resolution on their spectra.

    However, the first thing that I would note is that they are speaking of the Direct Radiative Effect of dusts and aerosols. This is not the same thing as a forcing -- although it is expressed in the same units. When forcings are calculated, they are calculated relative to quasi-equilibrium conditions, or alternatively, relative to a given base year. For example, in some of the calculations referenced in the IPCC WG1 AR4, you will see references to a base year of 1750. Alternatively, NASA GISS will tend to use 1880. But as such, when the authors compare the effects of dusts/aerosols to greenhouse gases, they are actually comparing apples to oranges.

    Now this might not be as great a problem as it first seems if the dusts/aerosols which they were considering were strictly anthropogenic in nature -- such that we could trace them back to the effects of industrialisation, such that we might think their effects to be relatively small in comparison to the present day value. However, as they are mixing both natural and anthropogenic dusts/aerosols (including sea spray, apparently), they provide us with no means of knowing to what extent their direct radiative effect is simply part of the natural background of the climate system, something which, although changing from season to season, has remained unchanged for centuries or even millenia.

    At no point do they perform any sort of trend analysis, but only averages for different seasons from a period of ten years, demonstrating seasonal change providing no evidence of any significant decadal trend. To the extent that it has remained unchanged, it would provide no basis for an explanation of climate change. However, simply going off the paper itself, I would conclude that this was not their intent.

    Rather, I would conclude that they seek to emphasise the role of dusts/aerosols as a causal factor in determining the radiation balance and consequent temperature of the climate. This would be a significant development in climatology if it lead to an improvement in the models. However, if this was in fact the intent of the paper I would have to question why they chose to compare apples and oranges in the first place.

    *

    Now Alan has also directed us to what appears to be an abstract of some sort:

    0.0.1 A Global Cloud Cover Climatology from 17-year ISCCP-D2 Data

    N. Hatzianastassiou

    http://www.cosis.net/abstracts/EMS05/00213/EMS05-A-00213.pdf

    Oddly enough by the same author as before. It is interestingly worded and contains interesting patterns of words. I will skip to the end where the author no doubt thinks it is most interesting:

    "Our analysis has shown that the decrease in cloudiness has taken place mainlyin the tropical areas between 20°S and 20°N, while it has occurred during the period from the early 1990s to the year 2000. Such changes in cloud cover are consistent with observed and computed trends in shortwave and longwave radiative fluxes both at the top of atmosphere and at the Earth’s surface, and they are very important for the atmospheric dynamics and circulation, and the climate of the Earth-atmosphere system, whereas they can counteract or exceed changes induced by other climatic change agents."

    However, it does not contain the name of any journal or publication date.

    So I decided to look for other studies by Hatzianastassiou on cloud coverage in the tropics...

    Here is a passage from one of them:

    "A significant decreasing trend in OSR anomalies, starting mainly from the late 1980s, was found in tropical and subtropical regions (30° S-30° N), indicating a decadal increase in solar planetary heating equal to 1.9±0.3Wm-2/decade, reproducing well the features recorded by satellite observations, in contrast to climate model results. This increase in solar planetary heating, however, is accompanied by a similar increase in planetary cooling, due to increased outgoing longwave radiation, so that there is no change in net radiation. The model computed OSR trend is in good agreement with the corresponding linear decadal decrease of 2.5±0.4Wm-2/decade in tropical mean OSR anomalies derived from ERBE S-10N non-scanner data (edition 2). An attempt was made to identify the physical processes responsible for the decreasing trend in tropical mean OSR."

    Analysis of the decrease in the tropical mean outgoing shortwave radiation at the top of atmosphere for the period 1984-2000, A. Fotiadi, et al, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 5, 1721-1730, 2005

    http://www.atmos-chem-phys.org/5/1721/2005/acp-5-1721-2005.html

    (Hatzianastassiou is the second author listed.)

    The authors attribute the reduction in outgoing (reflected) shortwave radiation to a reduction in clouds. This is something which at least some models had difficulty replicating. However, since the reduction in outgoing (reflected) shortwave radiation is matched by an increase in the outgoing longwave radiation, the net effect is neither to cool nor warm the tropics.

    Important to understanding the climate system? Perhaps. But is not a mechanism for explaining rising temperatures, nor is it an instance of the so-called iris-effect where the clouds open up to let out thermal radiation which would otherwise result in a warming trend when there are increasing levels of greenhouse gases. A rising surface temperature implies increased longwave radiation being emitted from the surface. But this would be something on top of the increase in outgoing longwave that balances the reduction in outgoing (reflected) shortwave.

    *

    Additionally, we have known since 1997 that under clear skies in the tropics at temperatures of 27 C or above, downwelling longwave radiation can increase more rapidly than upwelling longwave radiation as a function of sea surface temperature. It called the super greenhouse effect.

    Please see:

    F.P.J. Valero, et al., Direct radiometric observations of the water vapor greenhouse effect over the equatorial Pacific Ocean, Science, 274(5307), 1773-1776, 21 March 1997

    Getting rid of the clouds won't get rid of the greenhouse effect if higher temperatures result in higher absolute humidity, increasing the strength of the greenhouse effect under clear skies.

  79. Jim Black
    Linux

    What If - Again

    May I extend congratulations and thanks to Mr. Chase and Mr. Wilkinson for making such very interesting comments? Mr. Chase has invested an enormous amount of energy and significant time in defending the theory of anthropogenic global warming. It is entirely possible he and others may eventually be proven correct. It is also entirely possible that the AGW theory may eventually be proven incorrect by events that could take place in the years to come.

    From the viewpoint of almost-a-layman in climate physics, the discussions have revolved around the physics of heat and the transfer of those energies to the climate. Yet the central question has not been adressed. So I will try to restate the real issue(s):

    If mankind does not curb harmful emissions, what are the likely effects and over what period of time are they expected to occur?

    If mankind reduces harmful emissions to or below the arbitrary limits already proposed, what are the likely effects and over what period of time are these effects expected to occur?

    Do the AGW believers say that by reducing harmful emissions the planet's climate will remain the same as we experience it at this time?

    Do the AGW believers say that the natural cycles of climate heating and subsequent cooling are only history and not expected to reoccur?

    Do the AGW believers say that the harmful emissions are having the effect of speeding up the natural heating cycle which historical evidence would indicate is happening?

    The questions above are in response to feeling highly uncomfortable when pundits of any variety in essence say "Trust me, I know what is best for you." We are all familiar with politicians and other confidence men who prey on the gullible. The AGW people have not fully developed the entire story of what happens if we do reduce emissions and what happens if we don't. Sadly, the anti-AGW people also have not developed a full story detailing the pros and cons of doing nothing. I suspect the truth is somewhere in between the positions of the groups.

    Perhaps Mr. Chase will respond to this comment with brief answers to the above questions. These are not questions of detailed science but of effects to be expected and when, given competing courses of action.

  80. Rob Sutherland

    re clouds: Chicken vs Egg

    This is in response to Alan Wlkinson's post on Tuesday 1st January 2008 02:31 GMT.

    Alan said: "Finally, this is a good, readable summary that appeals to me in logic and tone:

    http://www.weatherquestions.com/Roy-Spencer-on-global-warming.htm"

    Alan, you may want to check out a summary of what others think of some of Spencer's previous work:

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/05/sideshow_roy_spencer.php

    and

    http://timlambert.org/2005/08/msu-correction/

    This has nevertheles been an excellent thread, most unlike previous El Reg fora on 'Global Warming issues'. It is great to see someone like Tim Chase take the time to drop in and elevate the usual atrocious level of discussion of these isues. I had been hoping for some time that someone with his breadth of knowledge of the Science of Global Warming, and beautiful writing skills would drop by to enlighten the 'peanut gallery' with some real science, appropriately referenced as it always is.

    Happy New Year to all

    robertoh del norte

  81. Alan Wilkinson

    Imbalance

    Hi Svein, I'm not a climate scientist, just a layman with an enquiring mind who used to be a scientist for a short time 30 years ago. (Also a nocturnal kiwi courtesy of our timezone differences - hence strange posting delays and clusters.)

    So although I've posted a few interesting links I don't claim to know the literature at all and am interested in what Timothy has to say since he does seem to be active in the field. I'm not trying to debunk climate change or global warming. I'm just trying to understand the issues and put the most challenging questions I see.

  82. Alan Wilkinson

    Averages versus actual temperature distributions

    Mark, my point wasn't about the difficulty of using polynomials, it was about the necessity of knowing the correct distribution of extremes in order to do so. Global warming is about small differences between large numbers so accuracy is important. Averages don't suffice. Timothy's response about the modelled grid and multiple "random walks" through the starting conditions better addresses the issue.

  83. Alan Wilkinson

    Re: Water vapour sensitivity

    'Alan Wilkinson wrote, "A small increase in water vapour will generate a small increase in temperature thus supporting a further small increase in water vapour ...."

    What you seem to be thinking of is roughly speaking a geometric sum with an infinite number of terms -- and although you may not intend this, to some it may seem that you are suggesting that since it has an infinite number of terms, the geometric sum will increase without limit. However, infinite geometric sums often have finite limits. For example, (1/2)+(1/4)+(1/8)+.... = 1 where each term is half that of the term before it. In the limit.'

    No, this is not constrained to be a geometric series - it is the basis of any monotonic series generator which may tend to a limit or not. In this case there is no indication of an intrinsic limit based on the simple physics. Increasing temperature will increase the water vapour content of the atmosphere. Increasing atmospheric water vapour will increase the "greenhouse gas" effect. The AWG hypothesis depends on exactly these unconstrained factors in arguing for a magnifying effect of CO2 by water vapour.

    Residence time of water vapour is a consequence of other control factors, it is not a cause.

    It seems a lot more logical to understand this in the form of global precipitation feedback circuits as per Roy Spencer than to talk about short-lived pulses. After all, temperatures, humidity and convection are hugely non-homogeneous around the world at any instant in time as well as from time to time.

  84. Alan Wilkinson

    Re - falsification or testability of climate models

    Timothy goes to some length to establish the wide range of physical laws that are incorporated into the climate models and their well-established veracity.

    But that was not my concern - mostly my fault for excessive brevity.

    My concern (and I suspect this could concern most scientists not intimately familiar with the climate models) is not whether the laws are valid, but whether their representation, weighting and application in the models is adequately consistent with reality, and whether in the course of ensuring that these models accurately reproduce existing data, assumptions, parameters and choices have been inserted that may not be generally valid. Effectively the model design and adaption can create degrees of freedom and properties not properly testable with current data.

    There's not much more I can say about this except the obvious point that the more testable predictions can be made from the models over wide ranges of environmental conditions, the better the confidence there will be.

  85. Timothy Chase

    My Last (was Imbalance)

    Alan Wilkinson wrote, "So although I've posted a few interesting links I don't claim to know the literature at all and am interested in what Timothy has to say since he does seem to be active in the field. I'm not trying to debunk climate change or global warming. I'm just trying to understand the issues and put the most challenging questions I see."

    I'm not active in the field. Just a former philosophy major (focused on the theory of knowledge and philosophy of science) turned computer programmer who got interested in evolutionary biology for a few years then climatology about nine months ago. I tend to get obsessed with understanding things -- and get involved in long discussions at times. The discussions help me think, learn from others, clarify my own understanding -- and perhaps give me a chance to illuminate a little.

    To give you an example from a while back, over at real climate, we went into the greenhouse effect in a fair amount of depth, even getting into non-local thermodynamic equilibria between radiation and matter, differences between spontaneous emission (what the greenhouse effect works off of) and stimulated emission (as with lasers), the fact that non-greenhouse gases can absorb and emit thermal radiation as well due to collisions temporarily changing their shape, the fact that neither prototypical line radiation (which is discrete - how the radiation emitted by gases is first thought of) nor prototypical blackbody radiation (which is continuous - how the radiation emitted by liquids and solids is first thought of) actually exist in the real world, as the lines have widths, and liquids and solids simply have a great many more, broader lines due to the closer interaction) and its all thermal radiation, etc..

    But even after having gone through all of this, I had come to the position that the atmosphere was heated first by moist air convection after reradiating the energy back to the surface. Somehow it had escaped me that when the thermal radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere and the energy exchanged by molecular collision prior to being reemitted, that implied that the thermal radiation had warmed to atmosphere. I didn't figure that part out until several weeks later when someone else brought it up in a discussion -- who incidentally was rather dubious about the greenhouse effect, if I remember correctly.

    *

    Anyway, you had mentioned viewing things as pulses vs viewing them as feedback circuits. Its a difference of perspective -- what aspect of the climate system you wish to focus on at the time. A pulse helps simply in terms of viewing what happens when we put so much gigatons of carbon dioxide into the air, but if you want to see how the climate system is a shifting, self-maintaining system, obviously you would want to be looking primarily at the network level of feedback circuits.

    But in this discussion, we have been looking at this largely in terms of just water vapour. Thats one network. However this isn't the most essential network for climatology. It is principally concerned with the energetics of the system. Energy entering the top of the atmosphere, being absorbed at the surface, by the land and oceans, the thermal radiation which gets emitted and then absorbed by the atmosphere and clouds.

    And yes, the moist air convection as water evaporates at the surface, the latent heat which gets released with the condensation into clouds, with some of it being radiated towards space or back towards the ground. Then obviously there is the carbon cycle, which at a rather basic level is analysed the same way as the energy and water. A network with pulses, cycles, residence times for a given molecule in a pool (e.g., atmosphere, land-based life, soil, ocean, geologic) and residence times for a pulse, where some of the pools exchange carbon more easily than others.

    *

    I will make one quick point about John Christy though: from what I can see, his hypothetical cloud mechanism for insuring that the climate system doesn't respond to forcing by carbon dioxide (i.e., the increased radiation received at the surface by thermal emissions from increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) would seem to be equally good at insuring that the climate system doesn't respond to increased sunlight. In which case the the warm spells after ice ages become a mystery.

    But then again, if the climate system doesn't respond to increased levels of carbon dioxide, the cycles between the glacials and interglacials are quite mysterious as well, since according to the calculations, orbital variations aren't enough to explain those cycles without some amplification from both the carbon cycle and ice sheets. And then there are the major extinctions which we believe are tied to higher levels of carbon dioxide due to supervolcanoes. And what's been happening to the glaciers, the West Antarctic Peninsula and Arctic Sea Ice.

    However, there is evidence that at least in terms of the parameterizations of moist air convection, we do not entirely understand what is going on in the tropics. This is what one of the links you sent in was about -- decreased tropical cloud cover. Likewise, we had underestimated the rate of ice loss in the Arctic Sea. Much of this would seem to be the result our grid being too course to capture the advection -- flow of warm water from the lower latitudes. And for a while the polar vortex was a problem until they started using shorted increments of time. We don't have everything figured out, and science will always be a work in progress. But it does progress.

    *

    In any case, my sleep schedule has been a mess, and with the beginning of the new year I need to get started on a few things. But thank you for the discussion, particularly Alan. It has been more along the lines of a dialogue than a debate, and I believe they can generally be a great deal more rewarding for everyone involved. I guess there will always be a few loose threads unfortunately, but they can serve to act as starting points for future discussions amongst us or others we meet.

  86. Alan Wilkinson

    Water vapour sensitivity

    Thanks for the interesting discussion, Timothy.

    Your point about the questionability of CO2 impact being suppressed when solar impacts are not (did you mean Christy - I thought that was Spencer) could be answerable if cloud formation (eg seeding) is affected directly by sunspot or cosmic radiation or by particulate matter, but not by "greenhouse" gases. At the moment that is just speculation though.

  87. Timothy Chase

    Re: Water Vapour Sensitivity

    Alright, I'll bite....

    This is in response to Alan Wilkinsons's post of 3rd January 2008 04:05 GMT...

    Alan Wilkinson wrote, "Your point about the questionability of CO2 impact being suppressed when solar impacts are not (did you mean Christy - I thought that was Spencer) could be answerable if cloud formation (eg seeding) is affected directly by sunspot or cosmic radiation or by particulate matter, but not by 'greenhouse' gases. At the moment that is just speculation though."

    Looking back, Spencer.

    With regard to your solution, you are multiplying hypothetical mechanisms.

    First, the hypothetical mechanism where increased longwave radiation is responsible for reducing cloud cover in just such a way that the longwave radiation will open a window for itself through the clouds to let out the excess longwave radiation. And yes, we are seeing a reduction in cloud cover in the tropics, but whatever longwave radiation is escaping is almost exactly equal to the increase in shortwave radiation. As such it isn't counterbalancing any greenhouse effect -- or the increase in longwave radiation that results from increased temperatures.

    Second, the hypothetical mechanism pertaining to sunspots/cosmic rays. And the problem with this is that, other than the periodic behavior of solar cycles, solar activity has been roughly flat since roughly 1950, and yet the rate of temperature rise has increased -- considerably since about 1979. And cosmic rays have been essentially flat for the same period of time -- except without the benefit of any quasi-cyclic/chaotic behavior.

    And look: you were counting on the tropical clouds opening up as a means of explaining why things are getting warmer, and are at this point seeking to use them as a means of explaining why things won't heat up.

    And then there are aerosols. Now of course I wouldn't argue that aerosols do not have an effect. They do, direct and indirect albedo effects. However, both of these effects are measurable at the surface in terms of global dimming. Of course, what we had been experiencing for a bit prior to the turn of the century is global brightening -- a reversal of the trend of global dimming, presumably.

    So how does this fit in?

    Given the fact that land temperatures increased by nearly one degree Celsius (0.8 C CRU) from 1960 to 2000, for solar brightening to be responsible for the rise in temperature after the "flat period" from 1952 to 1975 during which aerosols were a major factor, it would have to be greater than the solar dimming within the same 1960-2000 period. However, solar dimming outweighed solar brightening over this period.

    Please see:

    "Recent solar brightening cannot supersede the greenhouse effect as main cause of global warming, since land temperatures increased by 0.8 C from 1960 to 2000, even though solar brightening did not fully outweigh solar dimming within this period."

    Impact of global dimming and brightening on global warming

    Martin Wild, Atsumu Ohmura, and Knut Makowski

    Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 34, L04702, doi:10.1029/2006GL028031, 2007

    *

    Now I noticed you put quote marks around the term "greenhouse" in the phrase "greenhouse gases"...

    Remember:

    1. We can measure the infrared properties of greenhouse gases in laboratories, measuring their absorption lines in painstaking detail, with over a million absorption lines being part of a database which began as a military project.

    2. We can measure the backradiation at various points in the spectra from greenhouse gases, effectively fingerprinting them by means of this.

    3. We can measure their concentrations at different altitudes by means of their emissions from satellites.

    4. We can measure altitude by means of the opacity of the atmosphere to their lines of absorption.

    5. We cannot explain the temperature of the Earth, Venus or Mars without reference to their effects.

    6. Given the column distribution and spectra of greenhouse gases , we can calculate the strength of their greenhouse effect and compare it with what we get from satellite measurements. The spectra are known quite accurately, column distribution, fairly accurately. Things match.

    7. One can virtually derive the absorption spectra of greenhouse gases from quantum mechanics.

    8. We have four out five of the major extinctions tied to flood-basalt supervolcanoes. Carbon dioxide suddenly skyrocketed, it did so roughly at the time of the eruptions, and temperature went up at the same time. Would you suggest that sunspots or cosmic rays are causing supervolcanoes?

    9. We can explain the timing of the glacials/interglacials in terms of the periodic cycles in the earth's orbit -- which are predictable by means of Newton.

    10. We cannot explain the amplitude of the glacials/interglacials without reference to both ice sheets and amplification by means of the carbon cycle. Are the solar cycles or cosmic rays going to be that sensitive to the position of the earth? To its tilt?

    11. With a solar effect you are still going to need to explain why warming takes place in the troposphere but cooling takes place in the stratosphere. Greenhouse gases can do that with increased opacity to thermal radiation -- by the fact that they trap thermal radiation between the troposphere and the surface. Going off of solar irradiance at least, you would expect either both to warm or cool.

    12. You are still going to have to explain why the winters warm more quickly than the summers, and the nights more quickly than the days. We have those nailed in terms of greenhouse gases as well. But going off of solar irradiance at least would tend to give you the opposite effect.

    *

    Now I am not saying that it is logically impossible for some other explanation of the current warming trend to exist -- or even that it is logically impossible for some other explanation to be right. But science does quite well by stearing clear of Descartes and hewing to its fallibilistic, self-correcting methodology -- in which it goes where the evidence leads and does not multiply explanatory principles beyond necessity.

    *

    Anyway, if we continue with the discussion, it will have to be a little slower -- I have things I need to attend to, and I need to get on a regular sleep schedule. Also, I am not sure how long The Register will be that interested in continuing with it.

    However, if you would prefer, we could exchange emails if this is something which you would genuinely like to explore together. Still, it would have to be slower.

    Here is my address:

    tim o thy chase -at- gmail -dot- com (minus the spaces)...

    ... but I may not always be prompt as I tend to get wrapped up in projects. (I know, I know -- hard to believe.)

  88. Alan Wilkinson

    Predictive uncertainties

    The last word ought to be the scientific uncertainty of the predictions - in accordance with Timothy's comment that science is always a work in progress.

    The ten year forecast for global temperatures (2004-2014) provided by the improved model (DePreSys) referenced by Timothy is for a warming of 0.1 - 0.5 degrees C (95% confidence level). This is apparently a revision downwards from previous models.

    This only marginally excludes the null hypothesis and the error in this estimate cannot include unknown model deficiencies and physical phenomena.

    I think anyone who claims the science is settled doesn't understand the issues.

  89. Robinson

    Poor Mommycalled

    "More AGW bovine flatuance. Model verification requires the model to reproduce observed climate before the model is used in experiments. The models used in the IPCC report model past climate very well. More evidence that the oil/gas industry dis-information campaign is working"

    Please get a brain Mommy. They only model past climate because they are "calibrated" to do so.

  90. David Robinson

    Climate Change Programs.

    In the correspondence so far I have seen nothing regarding the fact that all of these that rely on NASA data (almost all of them) are rendered redundant by the disclosure by NASA that the data supplied by Mr James Hansen, head of NASA Geophysics and friend of Al Gore, had made a mistake (?) in it's interpretation. As originally supplied the data for the last century shows a steady rise in both Co2 and temperatures. This was hailed as a decisive indication that there is a tie between temperatures and Co2 with Co2 causing the rise. The last decade of the century was shown to be the hottest of the century. Now, NASA have agreed that this is quite wrong. In fact, the thirties was the hottest decade of the century and had three of the hottest years of the century. Now, the temperature line rises to the thirties, drops from the forties to the seventies from where it rises again to the end of the century, still not quite above the thirties. The temperature line diverts down from the C02 line then rises again. On the previous reasoning that would seem to indicate that Co2 does not influence temperature. To get round this, some (on the BBC) scientists now carefully state that temperatures have risen since the seventies (true) but don't mention that they previously had fallen and that they still have not risen to their previous levels.

    Thinking about Co2, this is another area in the charge of Jim Hansen (f.A.G.). Am I alone in thinking that it is strange to take samples from the top of an (hopefully) extinct volcano (Mauna Kea?), surrounded by active volcanoes, in one of the most volcanically active areas in the world, on a site on top of pourous lava, and claim it as representative of the whole world? How come that I, 10 miles north of the M25, can only find around about 310 p.p.m. when 380-90 p.p.m. are claimed to be representative? And, don't anybody come up with the excuse that the results are "adjusted" or"refined" or any other story that allows any figures to be put in that the "adjuster" desires.

    So it would now seem that we are in gigo areas with all the programs and prophecies that relied on the NASA original, corrupt data.

    Dave.

  91. Paul M.

    @David Robinson

    I was once agnostic on the human contribution to climate change, but I am profoundly "sceptical".

    It is not acceptable in any scientific practice to permit the same people who create the models to control the data sets. I am now aware of the manipulations of this data by Hansen and Mann, which I was not before. And now we learn that global temperatures have flat-lined for the past decade:

    "The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 as well as every year since 2001. Global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased. Temperatures across the world are not increasing as they should according to the fundamental theory behind global warming - the greenhouse effect. Something else is happening and it is vital that we find out what or else we may spend hundreds of billions of pounds needlessly."

    "We know far less than many think we do or would like you to think we do. We must explain why global warming has stopped."

    http://www.newstatesman.com/200712190004

    Evidently, we are clearly years away from drawing conclusions on the scale of the human contribution to climate change. Yet several of these researchers appear to be on a religious crusade.

    Nor am I impressed how much irrelevant material is posted in threads like this.

    I am beginning to get a whole new understanding of "climate science".

  92. Alan Wilkinson

    'Greenhouse'

    The reason for my quotes around "greenhouse" gases is simple science - greenhouses heat up because of lack of convection, not because of selective radiative absorption. "Greenhouse" is really an emotive misnomer applied to AGW.

    I think it is more helpful to think of the atmosphere as an insulating layer around the earth but it is a peculiar insulation that has very mobile holes in it that vary in place, time and effectiveness selectively for both sunlight absorption and radiation heat loss.

    We understand the science of static systems but applying it to such mobile and interacting complex multi-state systems is a whole different ballgame. It certainly doesn't help to overstate certainty on either side of the possible debate, and it is very unhelpful to demonize or belittle participants in a kind of religious warfare.

    For example as an organic chemist I spent years measuring and analyzing infra-red absorption spectra of various molecular components. That doesn't mean I can make better deductions about their contribution to AGW than Timothy who has not.

    Humility goes a long way, but unfortunately is not a successful strategy in politics - and that is where AGW finds itself now.

  93. Timothy Chase

    Reasons to Believe

    Alan,

    Permit me to quote a passage from a Newsweek article in order cast some light on why the positions of mainstream climatology are under attack today:

    "'Warming of the climate system is unequivocal,' concluded a report by 600 scientists from governments, academia, green groups and businesses in 40 countries. Worse, there was now at least a 90 percent likelihood that the release of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels is causing longer droughts, more flood-causing downpours and worse heat waves, way up from earlier studies. Those who doubt the reality of human-caused climate change have spent decades disputing that. But Boxer figured that with 'the overwhelming science out there, the deniers' days were numbered.' As she left a meeting with the head of the international climate panel, however, a staffer had some news for her. A conservative think tank long funded by ExxonMobil, she told Boxer, had offered scientists $10,000 to write articles undercutting the new report and the computer-based climate models it is based on. 'I realized,' says Boxer, 'there was a movement behind this that just wasn't giving up.'"

    -The Truth About Denial, Sharon Begley, Aug 13, 2007, Newsweek

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/32482

    ExxonMobil has offered scientists a $10,000 reward for articles that purport to undercut the IPCC WG1 AR4 (2007) report detailing the evidence for anthropogenic global warming.

    Likewise, I have pointed out that they provide a great deal of funding for contrarian organisations arguing against anthropogenic global warming.

    I gave the following link earlier detailing which organisations the authors of the current study are associated with and what documented funding those organisations have received from Exxon since 1998:

    http://www.exxonsecrets.org/index.php?mapid=1155

    Fred Singer alone is associated with 13 such organisations which have received $3,911,200 since 1998 -- with over $3,000,000 in funding since 1998 having gone to ten Exxon-funded organisations which he is still participating in.

    Was the financing of preordained conclusions and nonexistent uncertainty in contrarian literature by the Tobacco industry consistent with the nature of the scientific enterprise in past decades? Singer was one of the authors of such pro-Tobacco literature. Is such financing by the fossil fuel industry consistent with it today?

    *

    Alan Wilkinson writes, "It certainly doesn't help to overstate certainty on either side of the possible debate, and it is very unhelpful to demonize or belittle participants in a kind of religious warfare." (Greenhouse - 3rd January 2008 20:52 GMT)

    Granted, but who is expressing unfounded certainty?

    Earlier you stated, "Finally, this is a good, readable summary that appeals to me in logic and tone..." (Clouds: Chicken vs Egg - 1st January 2008 02:31 GMT) then quoted a passage from an article by Spencer where he states,

    "The most important example of this lack of understanding is, in my view, how precipitation systems control the Earth's natural greenhouse effect, over 90% of which is due to water vapor and clouds. The Earth's total greenhouse effect is not some passive quantity that can be easily modified by mankind adding a little carbon dioxide -- it is instead constantly being limited by precipitation systems, which remove water vapor and adjust cloud amounts to keep the total greenhouse effect consistent with the amount of available sunlight. Our understanding of this limiting process is still immature, and therefore not contained in the models."

    http://www.weatherquestions.com/Roy-Spencer-on-global-warming.htm

    Spencer's statement has more than a hint of teleology in it, the view that nature is goal-directed in such a way that "precipitation systems control the Earth's natural greenhouse effect," that this effect cannot "be easily modified by mankind adding a little carbon dioxide."

    He is quite skeptical of the mainstream science for which there is a great deal of evidence, stating "our understanding of this limiting process is still immature, and therefore not contained in the models," but he has unshakeable confidence (one might even say "faith") that such a limiting process exists "... which remove water vapor and adjust cloud amounts to keep the total greenhouse effect consistent with the amount of available sunlight." In fact, "faith" would seem to be the appropriate term since we have a great deal of paleoclimate evidence and evidence from the past century which demonstrate quite the opposite.

    *

    Looking him up, I find that he is a member of four contrarian organisations, three of which are well-funded by Exxon to the tune of $1,601,500 since 1998 (contributing writer - Heartland Institute - $791,500, author - George C. Marshall Institute - $715,000, science roundtable member - Tech Central - $95,000).

    Please see:

    http://www.exxonsecrets.org/index.php?mapid=1160

    *

    Now let's consider the fourth organisation to which Spencer belongs. It is called the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance.

    Their homepage states,

    "The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance (ISA) is a coalition of religious leaders, clergy, theologians, scientists, academics, and other policy experts committed to bringing a proper and balanced Biblical view of stewardship to the critical issues of environment and development. The ISA fully supports the principles espoused in the Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship, and is seeking to promote those principles in the discussion of various public policy issues including population and poverty, food, energy, water, endangered species, habitat, and other related topics."

    http://www.interfaithstewardship.org/pages/home.php

    Is the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance's view consistent with the scientific enterprise? It would seem that they are concerned that the conclusions of mainstream science may not be consistent with the Bible as they choose to interpret it, or so it would seem when you read the actual text of the Declaration that they endorse:

    "At the same time, however, certain misconceptions about nature and science, coupled with erroneous theological and anthropological positions, impede the advancement of a sound environmental ethic."

    Interfaith Stewardship Alliance -- Cornwall Declaration

    http://www.interfaithstewardship.org/pages/cornwall.php

    In fact, the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance has staked out a position contrary to that of mainstream science.

    Please see:

    GLOBAL WARMING MAINLY NATURAL and Not Catastrophic,

    Says New Study from Interfaith Stewardship Alliance

    http://www.interfaithstewardship.org/pages/article.php?&id=160

    Spencer is listed as one of the coauthors of the statement by the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance.

    Is Spencer's attitude consistent with the scientific enterprise?

    Considering how you found the passage of his you quoted (and that I showed just above expresses an unshaking faith in a teleology which limits or prevents anthropogenic global warming) appealing in tone and logic, is yours?

  94. Timothy Chase

    A Matter of Justification: back to the article

    Alan Wilkinson wrote, "The last word ought to be the scientific uncertainty of the predictions - in accordance with Timothy's comment that science is always a work in progress."(Predictive Uncertainties - 3rd January 2008 08:21 GMT)

    I didn't respond to this comment earlier as you clearly wanted the last word -- and I thought that the mistakes you were maken were obvious enough that others would see them without my having to point them out. But as you followed up with another more rhetorical comment I will respond to both.

    I stated that science is always a work in progress, but it does progress.

    There is a great deal which the models are getting right. The cooling of the stratosphere, polar amplification, nights warminging more raidly than days and winters more rapidly than summers. These are all effects that are predicted specifically as the result of an enhanced greenhouse effect. And they also predicted a super greenhouse effect in the tropics -- which has been observed.

    Likewise, they predicted the expansion of the Hadley cells which govern the extent of the tropics, changes in ocean circulation resulting from land warming more rapidly than ocean, the expansion of the range of cyclones, and they get tested using paleoclimate records and hindcasting. Furthermore, Jim Hansen's Scenario B, the product of a single run using a model was primitive by today's standards, that was presented to US Congress back in 1988 has been nearly deadon for its forcast of temperature rise for the past 20 years.

    But then there are also areas where the models would seem to need more work. Models had been predicting that summer Arctic sea-ice would last for several decades -- and now its looking like it will be gone within a decade. But by increasing the resolution of the models, one team was able to capture the processes that would seem to be leading to its early demise (particularly oceanic advection) and estimate that it may be gone as early as 2013. And this is independent of the evidence from the meltback of 2005 and 2007.

    We do not know everything, but the fact that we do not know everything does not imply that we know nothing.

    *

    You state,

    "The ten year forecast for global temperatures (2004-2014) provided by the improved model (DePreSys) referenced by Timothy is for a warming of 0.1 - 0.5 degrees C (95% confidence level). This is apparently a revision downwards from previous models.

    "This only marginally excludes the null hypothesis and the error in this estimate cannot include unknown model deficiencies and physical phenomena." (Predictive Uncertainties - 3rd January 2008 08:21 GMT)

    If the hypothetical evidence from the ten year forecast for the current decade were all that we were basing our claim that the world is currently warming due to the effects of greenhouse gases, then the case for anthropogenic global warming would be very weak indeed. For one thing, much of that decade has yet to be seen. However, as I have pointed out above, there is a great deal of evidence for such warming and for the dominant mechanism behind that warming.

    But simply in terms of warming trends, it would be a mistake to take the decade from 2004-2013 in isolation -- as much of the twentieth century shows much of the same trend. The evidence is cummulative -- and much of the case is built upon solid physics -- well established scientific principles in radiation transfer theory, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and chemistry. Although the exact numbers differ from competing climate model to climate model, all climate models indicate that the primary cause of 20th century warming is our carbon dioxide emissions. And they provide us with strong justification to conclude that despite the variability due to climate modes (e.g., the El Nino/Southern Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, Pacific Decadal Oscillation and Indian Ocean Diapole) which may obscure trends on decadal scales (so much that climatologists generally do not consider trends in global temperature significant unless they are at least fifteen or twenty years in length), this warming trend will continue for some time even if we were to halt our emissions today.

    *

    Alan Wilkinson writes, "I think anyone who claims the science is settled doesn't understand the issues," and then later states, "We understand the science of static systems but applying it to such mobile and interacting complex multi-state systems is a whole different ballgame." (Predictive Uncertainties - 3rd January 2008 08:21 GMT, Greenhouse - 3rd January 2008 20:52 GMT)

    The vast majority of those in mainstream science would appear to disagree.

    The case for anthropogenic global warming is so strong yet result in so much popular press controversy that a great many major scientific organisations have found it necessary to issue statements, and every major scientific organisation which has issued a statement has come down squarely on the side on anthropogenic global warming.

    There is an extensive list of links to the statements by these scientific organisations may be found here:

    http://www.logicalscience.com/consensus/consensusD1.htm

    Evidently they do not consider "mobility," interaction, the presence of multiple states or complexity to represent fundamental limits upon what science may reasonably conclude given the evidence which we have to date. There are areas of considerable uncertainty and genuine scientific controversy, but not with respect to the basics of anthropogenic global warming.

    *

    Alan Wilkinson writes, "It certainly doesn't help to overstate certainty on either side of the possible debate, and it is very unhelpful to demonize or belittle participants in a kind of religious warfare." (Greenhouse - 3rd January 2008 20:52 GMT)

    Mainstream climatologists and other scientists generally acknowledge where uncertainties exist and the areas in which there still exists room for considerable progress.

    But for a moment, let's focus specifically on the paper that was the basis for the article for this thread.

    First, they pick an out of date dataset with which to judge models, a dataset which is known to contain problems specifically in the area which they are comparing to model results and use it to judge the performance of the models without any acknowledgement of the uncertainties in that data product. Second, due to errors in their statistical math, they greatly underestimate the ensemble model uncertainty. Third, they claim the inconsistency between the invalid dataset and the climate models demonstrate that an enhanced greenhouse effect cannot be the cause of current global warming as because the dataset shows a lack of sufficient tropical troposphere amplification -- when this isn't specific to an enhanced greenhouse effect, but given current models would result from generally any cause of warming.

    They state, "We have tested the proposition that greenhouse model simulations and trend observations can be reconciled. Our conclusion is that the present evidence, with the application of a robust statistical test, supports rejection of this proposition. (The use of tropical tropospheric temperature trends as a metric for this test is important, as this region represents the CEL and provides a clear signature of the trajectory of the climate system under enhanced greenhouse forcing.)"

    Where is their uncertainty?

    Tropospheric amplification is not a "signature effect" of an enhanced greenhouse effect. This signature effect would be the predicted result of our models just as much from increased increased solar insulation as from an enhanced greenhouse effect. For something comparable which is a "signature effect" of an enhanced greenhouse effect, I would suggest the cooling of the stratosphere -- which we have seen a great deal of over the past decades.

    A number of these authors have made similarly unqualified and outlandish statements in the past which have proven just as unsupportable in the past. It is typical of what is found in contrarian literature.

    But why is this?

  95. David Robinson

    G.W.models

    Timothy makes the usual AMG claims about the scientific support for people causing global warming. I would point out that, at an IPPC conference for leading world's scientists 3 or 4 years ago, after 5 days of talks given the conference was asked to vote on the motion that 'mankind is affecting the the climate'. The vote was 13% for and 87% against. When giving a resume to the press the IPPC reversed the vote, saying to the press that 87% voted for and only 13% against. Needless to say what got published. Would you trust an organisation that lied like that?

    In U.K. last year a House of Lords Select Committee (they don't come higher than that here) investigated the claim that a large majority of leading scientists backed the gloal warming claim. It found that a "healthy majority" in fact did not believe in the claim. It also found that many leading scientists were very angry by being claimed to be in favour by the IPCC against their wishes. The committee also found that GW claims were illfounded. As Paul Reiter of the Pasteur institute said, consensus is for politics not science.

    I have still seen no comment about the effect of the misleading data on climate models. No doubt this is yet another case where the truth is inconvenient and will be ignored.

    Dave.

  96. Alan Wilkinson

    Einstein had it right!

    Timothy, I quote Einstein when a book was published called "100 authors against Einstein". He said, "If I were wrong, one author would have been enough". I think your latest post weakens your case rather than strengthening it.

    Consensus means little. Disputed consensus means even less.

    Spencer refuted the false accusations you repeated about his funding in one of the links I gave. He has religious beliefs that I don't share. So did my PhD supervising Professor. That didn't affect his science or our relationship at all. That he eventually relinquished his position in order to work full time in social work for his Church enhanced his humanity and integrity in my eyes. Likewise Spencer seems to conduct himself with dignity and rational discussion in the face of some vicious ad hominem attacks and sneers.

    His comment about the self-correcting nature of our weather was plainly a speculation but surely a reasonable one, given that our climate has supported life for so long. It is hard to argue that that could have resulted had not negative controlling feedback systems predominated over positive runaway ones.

    In the last few days there has been publicity about studies showing that much of the recent Arctic warming has been due to natural climate cycles rather than AGW.

    Frankly, a lot of your argument has been fluff. If your best climate model today predicts a temperature rise over a decade that is only microscopically different from zero this is not something you can just choose to ignore and dismiss as only one aspect of climate change. It is fundamental.

    Likewise you have not given any reasonable answer to my original question as to how the natural runaway water vapour feedback loop is controlled. The only "answer" you gave is a short residence time for water vapour - which is a classic "begging the question" response, since what causes and controls the short residence time is of course the point at issue. So since we evidently don't understand this most fundamental point I can't see how we can have any faith in the accuracy of the models produced to date or of the consequences being predicted for increasing CO2 levels.

    Living on a subtropical coast it is blindingly obvious to the most unscientific of us that surface and sea temperatures are largely controlled and affected by huge air and water convection systems, rather than local radiation balances. I am sure that the models contain some kinds of proxies for these systems, but whether they are adequate seems very doubtful.

    You claimed my post contained obvious mistakes. Please list them, because I see no justification for that statement in your posts - rather a desperate resort to "consensus" claims, ad hominem attacks and a diversion back to the original article as apparently an easier target.

  97. Timothy Chase

    Re: GW Models

    Dave Robinson wrote, "Timothy makes the usual AMG claims about the scientific support for people causing global warming. I would point out that, at an IPPC conference for leading world's scientists 3 or 4 years ago, after 5 days of talks given the conference was asked to vote on the motion that 'mankind is affecting the the climate'. The vote was 13% for and 87% against. When giving a resume to the press the IPPC reversed the vote, saying to the press that 87% voted for and only 13% against. Needless to say what got published. Would you trust an organisation that lied like that?"

    What are we talking about -- a conspiracy, Dave? And all the scientists chose to keep quiet? Were their families threatened? Do you have any references, either with regard to this claim or that about the select committee?

    *

    It's not just the IPCC, Dave.

    You have two joint statements by the National Academy of Sciences, one for eleven countries, one for sixteen countries....

    National Academy of Sciences, joint statement by:

    Academia Brasileira de Ciéncias (Brazil),Académie des Sciences (France), Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy), Russian Academy of Sciences (Russia), National Academy of Sciences (United States of America), Royal Society of Canada (Canada), Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina (Germany), Science Council of Japan (Japan), Academy of Science of South Africa (South Africa), Chinese Academy of Sciences (China), Indian National Science Academy (India), Academia Mexicana de Ciencias (Mexico), Royal Society (UK)

    National Academy of Sciences, joint statement by:

    Australian Academy of Sciences, Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, Caribbean Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, French Academy of Sciences, German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, Indian National Science Academy, Indonesian Academy of Sciences, Royal Irish Academy, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy), Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Royal Society (UK)

    There have also been separate statements issued by the following organisations:

    Union of Concerned Scientists, Woods Hole Research Center, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Meteorological Society, National Research Council, Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS), Federal Climate Change Science Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), UN Project on Climate Variability and Predictability, American Geophysical Union, Geological Society of America, American Chemical Society - (world's largest scientific organization with over 155,000 members), Federal Climate Change Science Program, 2006 - commissioned by the Bush administration in 2002, Stratigraphy Commission - Geological Society of London - The world's oldest and the United Kingdom's largest geoscience organization, Engineers Australia (The Institution of Engineers Australia), American Association of State Climatologists, US Geological Survey (USGS), National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute – Ocean and Climate Change Institute, World Meteorological Organization, United Nations Environment Program, Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospherice Sciences, International Council on Science, State of the Canadian Cryosphere (SOCC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American Astronomical Society, The Australian Meteorological And Oceanographic Society, American Institute of Physics, Pew Center on Climate Change, World Wildlife Fund

    There are also petitions signed by individual scientists, including one that has been signed by over 12,000.

    To see the statements, please visit:

    http://www.logicalscience.com/consensus/consensus.htm

    It has links to the documents themselves.

  98. Timothy Chase

    House of Lords Select Committee (was GW Models)

    On 5th January 2008 23:29 GMT David Robinson wrote, "In U.K. last year a House of Lords Select Committee (they don't come higher than that here) investigated the claim that a large majority of leading scientists backed the gloal warming claim. It found that a "healthy majority" in fact did not believe in the claim. It also found that many leading scientists were very angry by being claimed to be in favour by the IPCC against their wishes. The committee also found that GW claims were illfounded."

    Dave, you heard wrong regarding the House of Lords Select Committee. The following is from the report issued by that committee:

    "13. The Committee heard from several scientific witnesses on the theory. No one disputes the fact of temperature rise in the last 100 years or so. No one disputes that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and few dispute that it has an enhanced "greenhouse effect". What is disputed, albeit by a minority of scientists, is the scale of this effect. In the view of Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT, current climate models would have predicted a substantially greater increase in the past temperature than has been observed in the past 150 years, perhaps +3oC compared to the +0.6oC we have witnessed. In his view, this suggests that the models are biased upwards and that, while warming will occur, it is the lower end of the IPCC spectrum that is relevant, not the upper limits, which he regarded as "alarmist"[11]. Our understanding of the scientific response to this apparent anomaly is that (a) cooling effects, including those from sulphates, have masked the expected rise in warming, and (b) only climate models that combine natural variability and anthropogenic forcings "fit" the past data[12], as outlined in paragraph 15.

    "14. We recognise that there is a strong majority view on climate change. Majorities do not necessarily embody the truth, but we note that major associations of scientists have adopted similar positions. The IPCC tends to be the focus of the majority view which has been confirmed by the Royal Society[13], and by the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Despite this, it is a concern that the IPCC has not always sought to ensure that dissenting voices are given a full hearing. We document these concerns later in the Report."

    Select Committee on Economic Affairs Second Report

    CHAPTER 2: The Uncertain Science of Climate change

    The greenhouse effect

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldselect/ldeconaf/12/1205.htm

    I would like to make four points regarding the text I have quoted:

    1. The fact that that temperature has risen over the past century is undisputed: "No one disputes the fact of temperature rise in the last 100 years or so."

    2. The fact that CO2 has a greenhouse effect is not disputed: "No one disputes that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and few dispute that it has an enhanced 'greenhouse effect'."

    3. There is a strong majority view: "We recognise that there is a strong majority view on climate change."

    4. The IPCC represents that view: "The IPCC tends to be the focus of the majority view which has been confirmed by the Royal Society[13], and by the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science."

    Furthermore, I would like to point out that as the result of their investigation, the committee established the Stern Review:

    Stern Review on the economics of climate change

    http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/Independent_Reviews/stern_review_economics_climate_change/sternreview_index.cfm

    ... which concludes:

    "Climate change is a serious and urgent issue… There is now an overwhelming body of scientific evidence that human activity is increasing the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and causing warming."

    http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/independent_reviews/stern_review_economics_climate_change/sternreview_summary.cfm

  99. Timothy Chase

    Spencer, Exxon, etc

    This is in response to Alan Wilkinson 6th January 2008 04:24 GMT entitled "Einstein had it right!" -- but specifically on the subjects of Spencer, Exxon funding, and the separation of science and religion. More than enough for one post.

    *

    Alan Wilkinson wrote, "Spencer refuted the false accusations you repeated about his funding in one of the links I gave."

    Feel free to look up his refutation. But this is your assignment, not mine. However, as far as I can see, what I have given are simply well-established facts.

    I stated, "Looking him up, I find that he is a member of four contrarian organisations, three of which are well-funded by Exxon to the tune of $1,601,500 since 1998 (contributing writer - Heartland Institute - $791,500, author - George C. Marshall Institute - $715,000, science roundtable member - Tech Central - $95,000)."

    I gave the roles that he plays in those organisations and the funding they receive from Exxon, and I provided a link:

    http://www.exxonsecrets.org/index.php?mapid=1160

    If you left-click on the icons representing Spencer and the individual organisations themselves you can get more details, if you wish. For example, they list the funding for each year and how it was obtained. Picking one at random, for the Heartland Institute for the year 2000, you have $115,000 ExxonMobil Foundation, Climate Change, Source: ExxonMobil Foundation 2000 IRS 990.

    If you follow the link given there, it will bring you to a PDF of the IRS 990-PF -- which lists "charitable contributions" to a variety of organisations, including the Heartland Institute in the amounts of $15,000, $25,000 and $75,000 for that year. Similarly, sources are given for the roles that he plays in those organisations.

    *

    Alan Wilkinson wrote, "Spencer refuted the false accusations you repeated about his funding in one of the links I gave. He has religious beliefs that I don't share. So did my PhD supervising Professor. That didn't affect his science or our relationship at all."

    Alan, I often have a great deal of respect for an individual's religious beliefs, and I even believe that an individual's religious beliefs can help make them a better scientist -- if they know how to distinguish between the two. But it would seem that Spencer has difficulty distinguishing between science and religion -- he supported intelligent design, for example, which seeks to mix the two, and which in my view would be destructive of both.

    Furthermore, he belongs to the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance which apparently views the Bible (as it chooses to interpret the Bible) as some sort of authority in the realm of science, staking out the position that global warming in the twentieth century was "mostly natural" when mainstream science has concluded otherwise. He was one of the coauthors of their statement.

    *

    At the same time, I must admit that I do not know what the exact relationship between the funding, Spencer's religious beliefs and contrarianism are.

    But the funding is part of a pattern -- where ExxonMobil is trying to distort the conclusions of science just as the tobacco industries tried to in the past -- through well-funded contrarian organisations which attempt to create the appearance of scientific disagreement where no actual scientific disagreement exists.

    I quote:

    "ExxonMobil has manufactured uncertainty about the human causes of global warming just as tobacco companies denied their product caused lung cancer," said Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists' Director of Strategy & Policy. "A modest but effective investment has allowed the oil giant to fuel doubt about global warming to delay government action just as Big Tobacco did for over 40 years."

    January 3, 2007, Scientists' Report Documents ExxonMobil’s Tobacco-like Disinformation Campaign on Global Warming Science

    Oil Company Spent Nearly $16 Million to Fund Skeptic Groups, Create Confusion

    http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/ExxonMobil-GlobalWarming-tobacco.html

    There is a link to the lengthy report by the Union of Concerned Scientists at that webpage above.

    Likewise, through the American Enterprise Institute (an advocacy organisation they have been funding which has taken up tobacco industry causes in the past) they have been offering "honoraria" of $10,000 and other incentives to scientists would be willing to write articles criticising the IPCC's most recent report.

    Here is a quote from an article on the program:

    "Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

    "Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)."

    Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study

    Ian Sample, science correspondent The Guardian, Friday February 2 2007

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/feb/02/frontpagenews.climatechange

    Here is a factsheet on the American Enterprise Institute:

    SourceWatch: American Enterprise Institute

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=American_Enterprise_Institute

    And as for the letters offering such inducements...

    From one letter - the first paragraph:

    "The American Enterprise Institute is launching a major project to produce a review and policy critique of the forthcoming Fourth Assessment Report (FAR) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due for release in the spring of 2007. We are looking to commission a series of review essays from a broad panel of experts to be published with the release of the FAR, and we wat to invite you to be one of the authors."

    ... and the last paragraph:

    "If you and Prof. XXX are agreeable to being authors, AEI will offer an honoraria of $10,000. The essay should be in the range of 7,500 to 10,000 words, though it can be longer. The deadline for a complete draft will be December 15, 2007. We intend to hold a series of small conferences and seminars in Washington and elsewhere to coincide with the release of both the FAR and our assessment in the spring or summer of 2007, for which we can provide travel expenses and additional honoraria if you are able to participate."

    A copy of one of the letters is available here:

    Bush allies offer scientists $10,000 to attack UN climate report

    Friday, 2 February 2007

    http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/media/press-releases/bush-allies-offer-scientists-10-000-to-attack-un-climate-report-0

    *

    Alan Wilkinson wrote, "His comment about the self-correcting nature of our weather was plainly a speculation but surely a reasonable one, ..."

    I have already pointed out that the sort of mechanism which Spencer vaguely alludes to would be just as effective against warming due to increased solar insulation as it would be to increased longwave backradiation. You have put forward a vague ad hoc hypothesis that sunspots or cosmic rays might be involved which would some how save his ad hoc hypothesis. I have pointed out that you cannot explain late twentieth century warming by reference to solar variability or cosmic rays because the trends with respect to both have been essentially flat.

    *

    Alan Wilkinson wrote, "... given that our climate has supported life for so long. It is hard to argue that that could have resulted had not negative controlling feedback systems predominated over positive runaway ones."

    We aren't talking about runaway feedbacks, not something which would result in our planet becoming like Venus. The feedback is limited. Best estimates, a doubling of CO2 with all the feedbacks (negative and positive) leads to an increase in the global average temperature of 3 C -- based upon current and paleoclimate evidence.

    However, while our planet has supported life for a very long time, there have been many major extinction events in the history of our planet, and four out of the five greatest extinctions appear to have been driven by the release of carbon dioxide in large quantities into the atmosphere by flood-basalt supervolcanoes.

    And as I have pointed out, the greatest of these, the Permian/Triassic Extinction occured 251 million years ago, wiping out 90 percent of all marine-based species and 70 percent of all land-based species. Fortunately we don't look like we are headed for anything quite like that -- but given our current trajectory, what we are headed towards looks like it will be quite devastating.

    *

    Given the Permian/Triassic Extinction and other such events in the Earth's history, how can you claim that the negative feedbacks predominate over the positive feedbacks? That feedback from the hydrological cycle isn't primarily positive? How can he?

    The speculation which you speak of and find "reasonable" flies in the face of the paleoclimate record. And the evidence that we have seen in the twentieth century is for a climate sensitivity which is nearly the same as it has been for the past 460,000 years. Roughly 3 C -- although we can't really rule out significantly higher climate sensitivities.

    However, at some point, depending upon how far this goes, the positive feedback that we are currently seeing from the weakening major carbon sinks could very well turn into net emissions. At that point climate change will begin to take on a life of its own, independently of us.

  100. Timothy Chase

    Arctic Warming

    This is in response to Alan Wilkinson's "Einstein had it right!" posted 6th January 2008 04:24 GMT regarding Artic warming.

    Alan Wilkinson wrote, "In the last few days there has been publicity about studies showing that much of the recent Arctic warming has been due to natural climate cycles rather than AGW."

    I presume you are speaking of the news stories going off of a throwaway statement in the following paper:

    Rune G. Graversen, Thorsten Mauritsen, Michael Tjernström, Erland Källén & Gunilla Svensson, Vertical structure of recent Arctic warming, Nature 451, 53-56 (3 January 2008)

    At the end of the article, they make the comment,

    "Our results do not imply that studies based on models forced by anticipated future CO2 levels are misleading when they point to the importance of the snow and ice feedbacks. …. Much of the present warming, however, appears to be linked to other processes, such as atmospheric energy transports."

    As such they are criticising the models as claiming that the feedback responsible for polar amplification is due to the albedo effect. However, they do not actually examine the models in the paper. Hence my calling it a throwaway statement, particularly since it has very little to do with the subject of the study. And as a matter of fact, the models show a number of feedbacks as being responsible for polar amplification. The feedback due to the albedo effect is simply one of the easiest to explain to a lay audience.

    For example, In the abstract for the following paper, a variety of elements thought to play a role in polar amplification as analyzed by climate modeling are mentioned — and the albedo effect is nowhere to be found:

    "The Arctic is among the regions where climate is changing most rapidly today. Climate change is amplified by a variety of positive feedbacks, many of which are linked with changes in water vapor, cloud cover, and other cloud properties. We use a global climate model to examine several of these feedbacks, with a particular emphasis on determining whether there are significant temporal changes in these feedbacks that would make them stronger or weaker during the 21st century. The model results indicate that one of the significant positive feedbacks on Arctic surface air temperature in winter weakens substantially toward the end of the 21st century. The feedback loop begins with a temperature increase that produces increases in water vapor, cloud cover, and cloud optical depth which increase the downward longwave flux by 30 Wm^-2 by 2060 which then increases the surface air temperature."

    Miller et al, Future regime shift in feedbacks during Arctic winter

    Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 34 doi:10.1029/2007GL031826, 2007

    Shortly afterwards, they state:

    "The amplification of high-latitude climate change results from complex positive feedbacks involving exchanges of energy and water mass between the ocean, sea ice, and atmosphere. The positive feedback related to changes in sea-ice albedo is one of the most frequently mentioned, however there are other positive feedbacks that are also important. Among these are feedbacks related to water vapor and clouds. Chen et al. [2003, 2006] demonstrated the importance of correctly representing in climate models the relationships among Arctic cloud and radiative properties. The present paper examines how some of these relationships and feedbacks may change in simulations of future climate."

    Afterwards they go on to cite some of the very same elements Graversen et al is concerned with — within the contexts of climate models. As with earlier studies, Miller et al argues that downward longwave flux plays an important role, one it gives centerstage, which is involved in a variety of positive feedback loops — which vary in strength and relative importance according to time and place (e.g., water vapor vs. cloud optical depth).

    Finally, Miller et al state that their results are consistent with a polar amplification being driven by an increased water vapor, leading to a polar amplification which is strongest during the winter due to increases in open water and latent heat flux — as modeled:

    "Although this paper has not specifically examined the part of the feedback loop that produces the increase in atmospheric water vapor, this increase is consistent with modeled winter increases in open water and latent heat flux in the study region."

    As I have said, I believe the albedo effect is most often mentioned as a cause of polar amplification because it is the easiest to understand. But judging from Miller et al (2007) at least and what it states with regard to literature, I find it difficult to believe that someone familiar with the literature would be unaware of other mechanisms being in play in model polar amplification.

    In any case, they weren't claiming that the warming is simply part of a natural cycle, but that it isn't well-modeled by current models -- without examining the models themselves. And their statement was made out of ignorance of what processes the models actually show to be important.

  101. Timothy Chase

    Obvious Mistakes

    This is in response to Alan Wilkinson's "Einstein had it right!" posted 6th January 2008 04:24 GMT

    Alan Wilkinson wrote, "You claimed my post contained obvious mistakes. Please list them, because I see no justification for that statement in your posts - rather a desperate resort to "consensus" claims, ad hominem attacks and a diversion back to the original article as apparently an easier target."

    Alan, your entire post consisted of the following:

    1. "The last word ought to be the scientific uncertainty of the predictions - in accordance with Timothy's comment that science is always a work in progress."

    2. "The ten year forecast for global temperatures (2004-2014) provided by the improved model (DePreSys) referenced by Timothy is for a warming of 0.1 - 0.5 degrees C (95% confidence level). This is apparently a revision downwards from previous models."

    3. "This only marginally excludes the null hypothesis and the error in this estimate cannot include unknown model deficiencies and physical phenomena."

    4. "I think anyone who claims the science is settled doesn't understand the issues."

    As such you didn't leave me much to refute.

    However, your central error is in treating the decade prediction by DePre Sys in isolation as if it is the only evidence for anthropogenic warming.

    We have the warming trend for the entire twentieth century. We have the physics which explains that trend. We have the mechanism, an enhanced greenhouse effect due to higher levels of carbon dioxide resulting in more backradiation -- based upon well-understood radiation transfer theory with well-measured spectra, in the labs, at the surface and by satellite. We have paleoclimate evidence which shows this mechanism in action at various points in the earth's history. And we have a large number of phenomena which models have correctly predicted -- that I have previously listed on numerous occasions, the cooling of the stratosphere, stronger warming trend at night and in the wintertime, the polar amplification, the expansion of the Hadley cells, etc..

    I went into all that and more.

    With respect to your claim #4, you provide only your assertion. And as I have shown just recently, there is a long list of large scientific bodies which seem to believe otherwise. Somehow I think they are more credible.

    Finally, as for the "diversion" back to the original article, I would think that that was getting us back on track -- since that was the basis for this thread. But in any case, that provided me with a lead-in to deal with the issues in the post that followed. (Originally it was all the same post as I was responding to both your posts at the same time -- but this was too large to post as a single post.)

  102. Timothy Chase

    Meditating on Water Vapour

    This is in response to Alan Wilkinson's "Einstein had it right!" posted 6th January 2008 04:24 GMT regarding water vapour...

    Alan Wilkinson wrote, "Likewise you have not given any reasonable answer to my original question as to how the natural runaway water vapour feedback loop is controlled. The only 'answer' you gave is a short residence time for water vapour - which is a classic 'begging the question' response, since what causes and controls the short residence time is of course the point at issue."

    Alan, I explained that if one were to inject a parcel of water into the atmosphere, this would increase the rate of precipitation and decrease the rate of evaporation -- both due to the increased water vapour content of the air. Both an increase in the rate of precipitation (due to higher relative humidity and and greater frequency of saturation and therefore condensation) and a decrease in the rate of evaporation (due to the higher atmospheric water vapour pressure relative to the water vapour pressure of bodies of water) will tend to decrease the amount of water vapour in the air. And the greater the size of the parcel of water one injects into the atmosphere, the greater these two negative feedbacks.

    I also explained that it takes a long time for the imbalance between incoming thermal radiation and outgoing thermal radiation to become balanced. A large part of this has to do with the thermal inertia of the ocean. It has a great deal of mass which takes alot of energy to heat up just a tenth of a degree, and the ocean has to heat up before it is able emit sufficient radiation (in accordance with the Planck-Boltzmann law, where radiation is proportional to the fourth power of the temperature) to balance the increased opacity of the atmosphere to thermal radiation.

    However, if given a net reduction in evaporation and net increase in precipitation, the additional water vapor remains in the atmosphere for only a little more than a couple of weeks, the increased opacity of the atmosphere is an issue for only that long. And as such, in the case of an injection of water vapour into the atmosphere, the negative feedbacks increased precipitation and decreased evaporation are far more fast-acting than any positive feedback due to increased backradiation as the result of increased water vapour. And this is why water vapour is a feedback, not a forcing.

    *

    The physics behind this is fairly well understood. For example, the water vapour capacity of air is governed by the Clausius-Clapeyron relation:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clausius-Clapeyron_relation

    ... which also governs the partial pressure of water vapour at the phase boundary between the liquid phase (e.g., lakes and seas) and the gaseous phase (the water vapour in the atmosphere). From the Clausius-Clapeyron relation (along with the constants specific to water), one finds that saturation vapour pressure of water rises as an exponential function of temperature, doubling with roughly every additional 10 C. And like the Planck-Boltzmann law, this relationship is built into every climate model.

    Now you can imagine an idealised world in which the atmosphere is kept the same uniform temperature and pressure throughout, perhaps looking at it in terms of a single column of water with a single column of air with a source of light shining down from above. In such an idealised world, it would be possible to calculate the trajectory of that world that would result from a pulse of water vapour in terms of a single differential equation.

    However, our world is a little more messy than that, round world, days and nights, the seasons, continents and all. For example, air pressure falls roughly as an exponential function of altitude, being one-tenth of what it is at the surface 16 km up. As a result we have to use finite difference mathematics. But the principles remain the same. For example, we have the lapse rate of roughly 5 C per km in the Earth's troposphere -- where a constant lapse rate falls right out of the models. Likewise, in our world, relative humidity in the troposphere remains roughly constant with altitude, both as predicted by the models and as observed in reality.

    *

    Alan Wilkinson wrote, "So since we evidently don't understand this most fundamental point I can't see how we can have any faith in the accuracy of the models produced to date or of the consequences being predicted for increasing CO2 levels."

    Alan, even if we didn't have the foggiest about how water vapour worked, there would still be the paleoclimate evidence and the evidence from the past century. But obviously we know a great deal more than nothing about water vapour. In fact we knew well enough that Hansen was able to project the trend in the average global temperature back in 1988 for the next twenty years -- and computers have sped up by over a factor of over a thousand since then. The calculations which we are doing nowadays take a great deal more into account.

    We have a great deal of evidence that the Earth is warming -- and that it is warming at an unprecedented rate. We can see it in the landbased temperature record, the trend in tropospheric temperatures as measured by satellites, the sea surface temperatures, and the borehole temperatures. We can see it in the melting of the Arctic Sea ice and the glaciers. (That, incidentally is another one of those principles of physics: heat melts ice.) We can see it in the rise of sea level as warming ocean water expands, in the migration of species, and in the strengthening of storms, and we can see it in the spread of drought.

    The evidence cries out for an explanation - and neither solar variability nor cosmic rays can do it since they have been essentially flat since 1952. We know what the radiative properties of greenhouse gases are -- we can measure them in labs and in the atmosphere. We know that their levels (mostly methane and carbon dioxide) have increased enough to significantly impact the radiation balance of the earth. And it would seem that we have a pretty good idea of how water vapour works, too.

    Please see:

    "ABSTRACT: Climate models predict that the concentration of water vapor in the upper troposphere could double by the end of the century as a result of increases in greenhouse gases. Such moistening plays a key role in amplifying the rate at which the climate warms in response to anthropogenic activities, but has been difficult to detect because of deficiencies in conventional observing systems. We use satellite measurements to highlight a distinct radiative signature of upper tropospheric moistening over the period 1982 to 2004. The observed moistening is accurately captured by climate model simulations and lends further credence to model projections of future global warming."

    Soden et al, The Radiative Signature of Upper Tropospheric Moistening, Science 4 November 2005: Vol. 310. no. 5749, pp. 841 - 844, DOI: 10.1126/science.1115602

    *

    Believe it or not, the alternative that faces humanity in science is not one between omniscience or blind faith. Just because we do not know everything does not mean that we know nothing. Science isn't a Cartesian game of doubt in which you accept only that which can be proven with absolute deductive certainty. Science is fallibilistic - it makes mistakes - but it is also self-correcting. It risks being wrong, but it goes with all the evidence which is available and gives us our best estimate of what to expect.

    And going with all the evidence means taking into account all of the evidence we have available - since the justification for a conclusion supported by multiple lines of investigation is often far greater than the justification the conclusion would receive from any one line of investigation considered in isolation. You seem to be looking for a single reason to throw up your hands and say, "We can't understand it all and therefore we understand nothing." But science doesn't work that way.

  103. Timothy Chase

    Spin Cycle

    This is in response to Alan Wilkinson 6th January 2008 04:24 GMT entitled "Einstein had it right!" regarding convection vs. radiation balance and trends in temperature

    Alan Wilkinson wrote, "Living on a subtropical coast it is blindingly obvious to the most unscientific of us that surface and sea temperatures are largely controlled and affected by huge air and water convection systems, rather than local radiation balances. I am sure that the models contain some kinds of proxies for these systems, but whether they are adequate seems very doubtful."

    Alan,

    It isn't a case of either/or.

    Over the shortrun, "huge air and water convection systems" matter a great deal more than radiation balance -- particularly when you are living close to the ocean. I am thinking especially of the El Nino/Southern Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Indian Diapole. These are what climatologists will often refer to collectively as "internal variability" or as climate modes. But they are oscillations. They don't result in long-term trends. They result in noise which makes it more difficult in the shortrun to identify trends in global temperature.

    However, as I have pointed out, DePre Sys is beginning to take them into account by taking into account the distribution of heat content in the oceans -- something we weren't able to do in the past because we lacked the data. But technology has improved. And as a consequence, it appears that we are now able to make more accurate near-term climate projections -- over the decadal scale at least.

    PS

    In an earlier post, I gave a paper showing how water vapour is behaving as predicted. Here is another - a formal detection and attribution analysis. Open access.

    Santer et al, 2007: Identification of Human-Induced Changes in Atmospheric Moisture Content. PNAS, September 25, 2007.

    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/104/39/15248

  104. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Science vs spin

    Science can collect data and assimilate them. It can form hypotheses as to causal relations and often it can set up experiments to falsify them. Science cannot predict because it can never be sure that all the factors have been accounted for or that new factors will not come to influence the situation. Science recognises that the past is no guide to the future and that the repetition of pairs of similar events in the same sequence does not entail any causal connection. Two clocks showing the same time may or may not be causally connected, either directly or remotely.

    Spinners can collect data from science and extrapolate them portraying them as scientific predictions and can portray scientific hypotheses as scientific truths. Spinners use the word 'science' as a cudgel (argumentum ad baculum) to beat their messages into the minds of the innocent.

    We must always be alert and make sure that what we are being told is science and not fiction. The easy way to tell the difference is the degree of confidence attributed to the assertions - science cannot commit to any certainty whatever - the spinner will claim 'virtual certainty'.

  105. Timothy Chase

    Re: Science vs spin

    Anonymous Coward wrote, "Science cannot predict because it can never be sure that all the factors have been accounted for or that new factors will not come to influence the situation. Science recognises that the past is no guide to the future and that the repetition of pairs of similar events in the same sequence does not entail any causal connection."

    Sounds like philosophy 101. Hume, perhaps -- Reader's Digest version. Doubt it would go over all that well with engineers, electricians, or probably even the guys that make computer chips. In fact, I doubt it would be all that popular with the fellows who make nuclear bombs.

    The people who build things, or in other cases blow things up. They want to know how things are going to behave - before they put them together. For that you need predictions. Not certainty, but a great deal of confidence. High probability. Close to 1 even. Or at the very least -- reliability. Especially with things that have a lot of pieces. Like that computer I presume you were sitting in front of when you typed on those keys.

    *

    Science is fallibilistic. It makes mistakes. But it is also self-correcting. And a conclusion justified by multiple, independent lines of investigation is often justified to a far greater degree than it would be by any one line regarded in isolation.

    Science makes predictions based upon the best available evidence. When those predictions turn out to be wrong -- that's when scientists generally get excited -- because it means that there is something new to discover. Like a kid with a new toy.

    But for your predictions to fail you have to be making them in the first place. Then when a prediction in fact fails you modify your theory or come up with an entirely new one, but preferably it should explain everything the earlier one did, making all the predictions that turned out to be right -- and succeed where the old theory failed.

  106. Alan Wilkinson

    Water vapour sensitivity

    It doesn't matter if the earth takes a long time to respond to small increases in atmospheric water vapour. It has had a very long time to do so - more than enough if it was going to.

    Clearly it is held in check by delicate balances involving huge convection systems of both air and water; temperature, pressure and gravity gradients and cloud seeding factors. The resulting distribution of clouds and temperatures also affects the radiation balances.

    The critical question is whether these balances are sensitive to CO2 and if so to what extent.

    Despite your confidence the immediate historical record of temperature change is not a clear correlation with CO2 levels at all. The ending of the mini-iceage and the temperature decline for 3 decades after WW2 muddy the water considerably. The paleoclimate evidence requires even more circumspection regarding its assumptions, accuracy and consistency.

    Neither are the model predictions the unmitigated success you portray. There are a number of interesting papers here discussing important inconsistencies in the models compared with actual observations:

    http://www-pcmdi.llnl.gov/wgne2007/presentations/

    Uncertainties about clouds, ice and circulation patterns play large roles according to these and other papers. The deviations from predicted temperatures are significant relative to the small size of the CO2 warming effect as are deviations between the various models themselves.

    Yes, there are reasons to believe CO2 may have a warming effect and that the earth is currently on a warming trend. Quantifying both is a different matter altogether. Consequently deciding what interventions if any are justified by the science is equally problematic.

  107. Dr Stephen Jones

    Disappointing responses from Mr. Chase

    Ten days have now elapsed since I invited Mr Chase to address two of the article's main points in 200 words or less.

    1 - The study finds that the models are contradicted by empirical evidence ...tropospheric models only work at sea level

    2 - The IPCC says it has only a "LOW" understanding of the role of particulate matter, and that the cooling effect of particulate matter is as large as the heating effect of greenhouse gas.

    Mr.Chase has now posted 30,000 words in response: almost all of it irrelevant to the points questioners have raised.

    Therefore I see nothing to contradict the Mr Wylie's conclusion that -

    "on both empirical and inferential grounds, then, the science of climate looks to be far from over."

    When I am called upon to mark student papers, I look for relevance and logic - there is very little of either from Mr Chase. I would mark this as a "fail".

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022