Spencer: A Demonstration that Global Warming Predictions are Based More On Faith than On Science

By Roy Spencer, PhD.

I’m always searching for better and simpler ways to explain the reason why I believe climate researchers have overestimated the sensitivity of our climate system to increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.

What follows is a somewhat different take than I’ve used in the past. In the following cartoon, I’ve illustrated 2 different ways to interpret a hypothetical (but realistic) set of satellite observations that indicate (1) warming of 1 degree C in global average temperature, accompanied by (2) an increase of 1 Watt per sq. meter of extra radiant energy lost by the Earth to space.
Three-cases-global-forcing-feedback

The ‘consensus’ IPCC view, on the left, would be that the 1 deg. C increase in temperature was the cause of the 1 Watt increase in the Earth’s cooling rate. If true, that would mean that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide by late in this century (a 4 Watt decrease in the Earth’s ability to cool) would eventually lead to 4 deg. C of global warming. Not good news.

But those who interpret satellite data in this way are being sloppy. For instance, they never bother to investigate exactly WHY the warming occurred in the first place. As shown on the right, natural cloud variations can do the job quite nicely. To get a net 1 Watt of extra loss you can (for instance) have a gain of 2 Watts of forcing from the cloud change causing the 1 deg. C of warming, and then a resulting feedback response to that warming of an extra 3 Watts.

The net result still ends up being a loss of 1 extra Watt, but in this scenario, a doubling of CO2 would cause little more than 1 deg. C of warming since the Earth is so much more efficient at cooling itself in response to a temperature increase.

Of course, you can choose other combinations of forcing and feedback, and end up deducing just about any amount of future warming you want. Note that the major uncertainty here is what caused the warming in the first place. Without knowing that, there is no way to know how sensitive the climate system is.

And that lack of knowledge has a very interesting consequence. If there is some forcing you are not aware of, you WILL end up overestimating climate sensitivity. In this business, the less you know about how the climate system works, the more fragile the climate system looks to you. This is why I spend so much time trying to separately identify cause (forcing) and effect (feedback) in our satellite measurements of natural climate variability.

As a result of this inherent uncertainty regarding causation, climate modelers are free to tune their models to produce just about any amount of global warming they want to. It will be difficult to prove them wrong, since there is as yet no unambiguous interpretation of the satellite data in this regard. They can simply assert that there are no natural causes of climate change, and as a result they will conclude that our climate system is precariously balanced on a knife edge. The two go hand-in-hand.

Their science thus enters the realm of faith. Of course, there is always an element of faith in scientific inquiry. Unfortunately, in the arena of climate research the level of faith is unusually high, and I get the impression most researchers are not even aware of its existence.

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101 thoughts on “Spencer: A Demonstration that Global Warming Predictions are Based More On Faith than On Science

  1. As ever, Dr. Spencer, thank you for making the assumptions clear.

    So long as the AGW hypothesis rests on the sandy foundation that there is just no other explanation than CO2 no actual science is being done. A scientific process would look at the variety of possible explanations and test each against the data and against each other.

    What you describe as faith can also be described as a willful failure of imagination. Clouds, aerosols, the observed changes in current patterns, urban heat effects, solar activity (or inactivity) all have some impact. So, of course, does CO2 and water vapor and methane and, very possibly, CFCs.

    Climate is complicated. The leaden certainty of the “climate scientists” rests upon the unjustified simplifications required to make their computer models work. The more we learn about climate the more unrealistic those simplifications appear. Which is progress.

  2. A neat and simple explanation. But, because temperature is an intensive property, it would be useful to start off by explaining why the very idea of a global average temperature is complete nonsense.

    I repeat – a global average temperature is complete nonsense.

  3. Unfortunately, in the arena of climate research the level of faith is unusually high, and I get the impression most researchers are not even aware of its existence.

    Dare I say it? The flat-earthers have come round again…

    Bad pun, but it was such a fat pitch I had to swing at it.

  4. If there is some forcing you are not aware of, you WILL end up overestimating climate sensitivity.

    Dr Spencer, this is, of course, right but you then go on to assume an ‘if’ is a certainty. Indeed, you go one step further, assume and then accuse ‘are free to tune their models to produce just about any amount of global warming they want to.‘. That is worse than having a blind faith. It’s to have such conviction, such faith, you are right that you feel able to accuse others of crime in public and based on the most flimsy of ‘evidence’ – your feelings (well, you present no evidence).

    Stick to the science, play the science. You don’t need to accuse the modeller if you can show them to be wrong. You clearly can’t.

  5. As ever, I am at a loss to comprehend how AGW theory ever passed the scientific “laugh test”. The number of logical indicators of “negative feedback” to temperature forcing functions, not the least of which is the reconstructed history of the atmosphere, is simply overwhelming.

    CH

  6. “They can simply assert that there are no natural causes of climate change,”

    If you look at two different photos of the earth as seen from orbit you will see the cloud cover is never the same. This tells me that the amount of energy reaching the earth is constantly changing.

    If you could pick any two identical periods of time and accurately measure the cloud cover it would be surprising to find the cover was the same.

    How can this not be a natural cause of climate change.

    Regarding the two different interpretations. One of the problems I have with the IPCC position is they present it as a choice between two possible explanations and then declare they have considered and rejected the natural explanation. This is an invalid “Argument from Ignorance.”(Aka argument to ignorance, argumentum ad ignorantiam ) (google it)

    They are saying “I do not know how it could have a natural explanation so it must be anthropogenic.” In other words, “It must be true because it can’t be the other explanation”

    It is a fallacy as it uses a lack of knowledge as if it were evidence.

    The argument is invalid because there are not only two possible explanations. In reality there must be an infinite number of possible explanations and they cannot have considered them all.

    Which brings me to the point I want to make. Whenever you find someone using an argument from ignorance you can be confident they have no valid evidence.

    Their belief is based not on data predicted by their theory but on faith.

    After all, if there was good evidence, Al Gore would have put it in the movie.

  7. P Bratby

    My sentiments exactly. The notion of a global average temp. is silly. It is a quantity we will NEVER know. It never stands still, changes dramatically in minutes and even in a few metres. To think that some wags believe they can determine average global temperatures from “proxy” data going back hundreds or thousands of years defies belief.

    Peter Hearnden

    We have a different understanding from reading the same article. That happens.
    “natural cloud variations can do the job quite nicely”. and
    “Of course, you can choose other combinations of forcing and feedback, and end up deducing just about any amount of future warming you want”.

    I can’t see where Dr Spencer turned an if into a certainty. The only certainty he states is, “the major uncertainty here is what caused the warming in the first place. Without knowing that, there is no way to know how sensitive the climate system is”.
    I don’t have a problem with the certainty that modellers are uncertain what caused the warming in the first place.

  8. Peter Hearnden: Of course our knowledge is incomplete and there are lots of forcings and uncertainties we may be unaware of.

    Trenberth (Mr ‘Earth’s Annual Global energy Budget’) was revealed in a climategate email to say:
    “But the resulting evaporative cooling means the heat goes into atmosphere and should be radiated to space: so we should be able to track it with sky temperature data. That data is unfortunately wanting, and so too are the cloud data. The ocean data are also lacking, although some of that may be related to the ocean current changes, and burying heat at depth, where it is not picked up. If it is sequestered at depth then it comes back to haunt us later, and so we should know about it.” (Email #125552376)

    Pretty conclusive ‘evidence’. How are these missing data dealt with in the models?

  9. Not only is Roy Spencer debunking the myth of AGW he is also telling the truth about what evolution really is. It is Intelligent Design, folks!

  10. A very clear way of explaining it – thanks.

    I see some circular reasoning happening here in the IPCC camp. Because they can build a model with none of the natural factors and replicate warming with their assuming OTT feedback, they feel they are right, but its circular just reasonning if they dont seek to include the natural drivers to better estimate the co2 sensivity. This cirucular logic makes them feel right, as it all fits together. But give me 4 parameters and I could explain the warming without co2, fudging a model proves nothing!

  11. Is it my false perception or is Dr Ray Spencer really the climate scientist with the best command of English? It seems he has a special ability to express clearly and succintly what ought to be complex scientific ideas. Since language and thought are related, I can only surmise that Dr Spencer’s elegance of language indicates an elgance of thought.

  12. “Not only is Roy Spencer debunking the myth of AGW he is also telling the truth about what evolution really is. It is Intelligent Design, folks!”

    Indeed! GW is so well organized it could not have been designed by chance!

  13. So according to Philip Bratby, intensive properties can’t be averaged? What a bizarre notion. He seems very sure about it, though, for some reason. Perhaps he could explain whether the following concepts are “complete nonsense” or not: average velocity; average density; average pressure; average pH; average concentration? If they are, then naturally he should tell all the poor scientists who make daily use of some very simple maths to work out such averages. If they are not, then naturally he should explain why temperature is the only intensive variable that can’t be averaged. I look forward to hearing which of the two is the answer in Bratby-land.

  14. lgl (00:44:42) :

    “More Realistic View” ?
    1 Watt net loss and 1 C warming? Does not make sense to me

    This is based loosely on blackbody radiation. If something gets warmer, it radiates more energy. Thus, the 1c of warming would be associated with extra radiation into space – 1 watt in this case.

    The question I have is that in the example on the right, the diagram shows an extra 3 watts radiated into space, but in the body of the text it says “The net result still ends up being a loss of 1 extra Watt.” I don’t follow that logic, which brings me onto:

    sHx,
    ” It seems he has a special ability to express clearly and succintly what ought to be complex scientific ideas,”

    Maybe if you are a climate scientist and understand the arguments, but I am always finding Dr. Spencer difficult to follow, compared to say Willis Eschenbach. But thats just me.

  15. I have a lump of material at xC and another lump of material at yC. What is the average temperature of the material?

    Ditto density and the othet intensive properties?

    Perhaps there is something missing?

  16. Phillip Bratby (00:24:33) :

    A neat and simple explanation. But, because temperature is an intensive property, it would be useful to start off by explaining why the very idea of a global average temperature is complete nonsense.

    I repeat – a global average temperature is complete nonsense.

    Ok – call it global temperature index if it makes you feel any better. We’re not interested in the actual global average temperature, we’re interested in whether in by how much it’s changed. The various datasets do a reasonable job of providing that information.

    To use the lake analogy. I can tell whether the level of a lake has risen or fallen without knowing exactly how much water is in the lake.

  17. I have a lump of material at xC and another lump of material at yC. What is the average temperature of the material?

    Ditto density and the othet intensive properties?

    Perhaps there is something missing?

    C’mon, Philip, stop playing silly B’s. We have vastly more than two data points for the atmosphere.

    Wrt other comments. I explained my pov in my post and I don’t see the need to expand on that.

  18. John Finn, I disagree. If the global average temperature is nonsense, then so too is the derivative.

    Your lake analogy is OK for the lake, because the lake has a single level. But the earth does not have a single temperature.

  19. Peter Hearnden. It doesn’t matter how many points you have. The average is still meaningless. BTW, what’s the average temperature of the air over Dartmoor this morning? Let’s say at 2metres agl. Or over the bottom 10metres. I wonder if it’s warmer in the valleys than on the tors?

  20. hunter (01:50:41) :
    I agreed with Phillip Bratby so I’ll try to answer, I’m sure he may have a different point.
    The discussion is not whether “numbers” or data can be averaged. The point is the data.The temperature from any part(s) of the world can be averaged, but that average DOES NOT and CANNOT give a correct figure for the globes temperature on any given day week or year.

    eg I live on a 20 acre farm. If I wanted to know what the average temp of my farm is what do I do? Take some measurements and then average them? The result is useless. The temperature variations on my farm at any given moment are huge. Some areas can be 30deg C in the summer afternoon, other areas can be as low as 25deg C at the very same time. Some areas reach maximum temp. for the day at 3pm other areas reach max at 2.30pm or 3.30pm

    Now extrapolate this to a global scale (James Hansen came up with dividing the planet into 5deg by 5deg sectors) Imagine the variables in a 5×5 grid. Whatever “averaging” results is totally and absolutely useless (and thats before the infamous smoothings).

    All the above even before we consider temp variations due to other localised causes. (Even a 10sqm area can have it’s own micro-climate)

    NO ONE knows what the average temp. of the globe is, and no one will know into the foreseeable future. period.

  21. hunter (01:50:41)

    I think Philip Bratby is making the claim that the climate is so variable over short distances that one would need temperature measuring stations in a grid pattern every few 100 metres to obtain enough data to even consider making a worthwhile average.

    As an example consider the differences in climate between Milford Sound and Queenstown, New Zealand. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milford_Sound http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queenstown,_New_Zealand. I hope that these wpedia entries have not been fiddled with :-).) These two places are less than 50Km apart on the same latitude but Queenstown is 354m higher than Milford Sound with an extensive mountain range between them. If there is such a massive difference between two places this close together how can any-one attempt to average the temperature of the entire planet without having far more datum points than are currently used. Also the datum points for the oceans are few and far between, usually on inhabited islands and not therefore a measure of oceanic temperatures. The oceans are ~70% of the Earth’s surface area with virtually zero measuring stations. Satellite data measures (I think) in 50Km diameter circles so these would give wildly inaccurate local temperatures, if they were measuring ground level temps. which of course they do not do.

  22. I’ll add to my comment above by saying the radiation budget of the planet is a whole different kettle of fish. That we may get a handle on at some time in the future.

  23. hunter (01:50:41) :
    So according to Philip Bratby, intensive properties can’t be averaged? What a bizarre notion.

    Hunter, consider A + B = C

    If A & B are extensive variables, say A = 1 and B = 1, the C= 2.
    If A & B are intensive variables, using the same assumptions above, then C=1.

    Bratby is correct.

    QED

  24. Since we are on the 40% way to doubling and the most sensitive areas – Arctic and Antarctic – show just natural AMO-related variations and present temperatures equal to 40ties (Arctic) or nothing at all (Antarctic), hereby I declare CO2 as innocent in full extent.

    Cay any “leading climate scientist” explain, why the polar areas with cold and dry air and therefore the most sensitive to CO2 increase, do not react at all on “increased greenhouse effect”?

  25. Vincent (02:02:22) :

    No that’s not just you. This post is very confusing since it tells only half the story (or less). This site is not for climate scientists so Roy should come back with more details.

  26. “Vincent (02:02:22) :
    lgl (00:44:42) :

    “More Realistic View” ?
    1 Watt net loss and 1 C warming? Does not make sense to me

    This is based loosely on blackbody radiation. If something gets warmer, it radiates more energy. Thus, the 1c of warming would be associated with extra radiation into space – 1 watt in this case.”

    No, no, no!
    Assumming there is no other source of energy. The Earth recieves ~1400 w/m2 from the Sun. This energy is absorbed as a circle but emmitted as a sphere so divide by 4 and the Earth emitts 350w/m2 back into space. That’s it the energy MUST balance. If 1 watt more energy was radiated to space the Earth would be cooling, i.e. it was emitting more energy than it recieved. Greenhouse gases are not a source of energy!

    I wonder how Mr Spencer was able to make such a fundamental flaw in basic physics unless his work has been misinterpreted.

  27. I think this is a highly instructional article.

    It is perhaps also worthwhile to record the numerous, numerous instances in life when ‘common sense’ breaks down due to lack of appreciation of differing underlying assumptions.

    1. For adherents to microeconomics, the assumption goes: decrease the price, you get more customers. In certain niches of the MBA market, the opposite is true. For decreasing the price implies poorer quality and you only get one shot at an MBA. The herd seeks safety in higher prices and, per se, better brand. So putting the price up can INCREASE, not decrease, student numbers.
    2. For women ill-educated in gender common sense, the assumption is that because they appreciate unsolicited help, that men feel likewise. They cannot understand that men will ask for help if they need it and will not appreciate interference in their business otherwise.
    3. Politicians assume that the public must be treated like idiots, because if they knew what they knew, they would rise up or ‘not cope’. On the contrary, if the people knew what they knew, they would take greater responsibility locally, because they seek more harmonious life circumstances, not power per se.
    4. Sports owners think that LBOs are ‘good business’. Banks agree but customers/supporters, once they understand what’s going on, know its grand larceny. They are paying bank interest for the owner to take the club off them.

    The era of false witness in public and thuggery in the back room is facing up to its biggest threat yet.

    The next two centuries will determine how it plays out.

    Just like climate science debates………..

  28. Dear Dr Spencer,

    I wonder if you enlighten me? I asked these questions yesterday but nobody responded.

    Why does the mean global temperature rise during Northern Hemisphere summer? Being naive in this area, if one took a completely regular earth sized sphere with homogeneous temperature absorption in the Earth’s orbit, I would predict that the mean temperature would be constant as the same area would be exposed to the sun. Is rise during NH summer related to the higher land area of the NH, which I would speculate would be less reflective that the sea. Is this related to the albedo of the N pole changing during summer, but I gather that there is a reciprocal relationship between N and S pole ice cover. I think that the implication must be that major geographical features cause this effect.

    The second question is why is there cooling in the upper layers of the atatmosphere when the surface temperature rise during summer? The only way I can see this happening is, if one assumes that the total energy flux integrated over an an arbitrary surface in the atmosphere and integrated with respect to time over one year is zero, then if the the surface temerature rises during summer, there is absorption of energy, which is not returned until the NH cools during winter, hence the reciprocal temperature changes between the surface and upper atmosphere. This may be complete rubbish but I would like to understand this.

    As regards mean global temperatures, it is quite possible to specify the integral of temperature of the surface as a function of time, as you do. I imagine the problem lies in the non-linearity of some of the processes, e.g.: Stefan- Boltzmann radiation which makes the interpretation of mean temperature difficult. Out of interest, I have started to analyse the HADCRUT data that has been released by the Met Office from a strictly statistical, time and space series problem. I have some difficulty in understanding the logic behing the way the data has been processed to arrive at mean temperatures. The data is severely aliased as a time series and there are huge problems with integrating over the surface given the coarseness of the sampling grid and the difficulty of formal approaches requiring computation of spatial derivatives on the grid. I was interested to discover that there are no measurement points in the Himalayas and only one in the Alps and apparantly one simply interpolates the temperature between stations of either side of these insignificant geographical features. I am not sure what can be calculated from this data, but I suspect that whatever has been calculated may not be entirely reliable!

  29. I also feel that today’s scientist are bogged down in the detail when using elementary science it should be possible to tell if the earth is warming or cooling, we know the level of radiation from the sun, satellite data should be able to tell us over time the radiation emitted back into space, the difference must be down to warming or cooling. Of course we should also correct for the added the heat radiating from the earths core to the surface. But we don’t need to know the average temperature to determine warming or cooling

  30. Juraj V. (02:52:08) :

    The “leading climate scientist” are also claiming the arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, i.e rest of the world is warming at half of – eeh – zero.

  31. “… They can simply assert that there are no natural causes of climate change, and as a result they will conclude that our climate system is precariously balanced on a knife edge. ”
    This summarises the reason they tried to get rid of the MWP. How can there be no natural causes of climate change if the climate changed before humans released CO2 in large quantities? The MWP data didn’t fit their models so the MWP, Holocene Optimum etc. had to go!

  32. My theory is this formula:-
    some unexplained data+ some knowledge multiply by financial gain and subtract common sense and history and you get AGW.

  33. ” Ron de Haan (03:04:38) :

    Dutch Government Educative Publication:

    Skeptics are white males (It’s because of the testosterone, not the science)”

    Is this the same Dutch Government that has refused to resign despite being found guilty of supporting what has just been judged in court to be the war crime of the invasion of Iraq?

    They are not very big on ‘facts’ are they.

  34. What has always bemused me about average global temperatures and anomalies is the connection with Watts/m^2.

    If there really existed one function: Flux=constant*T^4 then there would have existed a one to one correlation of temperature with energy and energy is a scalar additive.

    BUT , if we want to keep the black body format, the earth is not a black body, and meter by meter the constant is a gray body constant different for each material: ocean, fields, forests, ice, … plus the surface is fractal ( mountains, oceans) and any integration should take care of that too. In addition the atmosphere shells have a different temperature than the ground shells quite often, and this has to be taken into account. As we have seen this winter, air transported from the poles brings down temperatures and changes the gray body constant of the whole northern land hemisphere to that of ice and snow.

    I am always amazed at all those watts/meter^2 quotes without errors.
    Considering a north wind bringing down the ground temperature by 10C, from 15C to 5C, with the same gray constant gives a difference of 15% in energy radiated( 288K^4/278K^4) .

    This table of emissivity for some materials
    shows again large percentage deviation from black body ( sand is 75% of black body, water 95-96% etc). Suppose we take this 350watts per meter square that have to be radiated by infrared for the energy to balance, ten percent is 35 Watts per meter square, so how can one talk of a radiation budget to the accuracy of 1 Watt/m^2 eludes me.

    As to the emissivity of the atmosphere , ( the percentage difference from black body) the gray body constant of air which can be calculated as in formula 8 in link and is temperature dependent: for 10C it is 0.74, at 20C it is 0.79. for 30C it is 0.85 introducing more errors.

  35. John (02:55:50) :

    You accuse Spencer of fundamental errors instead of trying to understand what he is saying. Consider the consequences of changing cloud fraction with consequent changing albedo and the portion of solar reflected vs absorbed. Look also at the changes in latent heat transfer rates – evaporation and precipitation.

  36. Rhys Jagger,

    Common sense is indeed, less common than we would think. There are a number of cognitive biases which cause people to make consistent errors of judgement. Eg, there is the “recency bias” which leads people to place more weight to recent events, statistics etc. which leads to interesting patterns in stock prices. More relevantly there is the “Confirmation” bias which leads to the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.

    I disagree with your MBA example though. You are assuming that all MBA’s are equal, so that it becomes irrational for people to pay more for the same product. But this is not the case. A Harvard MBA is clearly more valuable than one from Smallsville, and people are acting rationally in paying more for this qualification.

  37. Like some others, I’m having trouble understanding Dr. Spencer:

    “The ‘consensus’ IPCC view, on the left, would be that the 1 deg. C increase in temperature was the cause of the 1 Watt increase in the Earth’s cooling rate. If true, that would mean that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide by late in this century (a 4 Watt decrease in the Earth’s ability to cool) would eventually lead to 4 deg. C of global warming. Not good news.”

    Right. So I come home and switch on a (very low-powered!) electric fire. The temperature goes up by 1 deg. C, and that is maintained because, although heat is being lost through windows, walls, and roof, the fire continues to crank out heat.

    A satellite, as it happens, has my house in its sights and is detecting an extra 1w/sq.m being radiated into space compared to when it made its last pass. This is, in fact, the only way it knows that the temperature of my house has increased.

    Is that a rough analogy of what Dr. Spencer is saying the IPCC claims? Except that, they have no idea what the actual cause of the increased temperature is?

    Furthermore, is he saying that in due course, perhaps because my electric fire is faulty, the IPCC claims it will begin to emit more heat? So that eventually it will warm by 4 degrees C and 4 w/sq. m will be lost to space? That as the temperature of my house goes up, it will be unable to emit into space enough wattage to keep it at the 1 degree C rise I prefer? Is this the “positive feedback”?

    Then he says, for the more realistic view:

    “As shown on the right, natural cloud variations can do the job quite nicely. To get a net 1 Watt of extra loss you can (for instance) have a gain of 2 Watts of forcing from the cloud change causing the 1 deg. C of warming, and then a resulting feedback response to that warming of an extra 3 Watts.”

    Okay. So, again by rough analogy, is he saying the following: my house has this special kind of thermostat. Any time that the temperature rises by more than 1 degree C, the windows, walls and roof radiate more heat into space so that the 1 degree C rise (and no more) is maintained inside the house? And is that the “negative feedback”?

    I’m trying to expose for all to see what may well be my ignorance and misunderstanding here, but quite purposely. I’m hoping someone will quite plainly be able to see what I may not be understanding and why, and if so, be able to correct me in terms I, and maybe others who are struggling with this, will be able to understand.

    Tnaks in advance for any kind takers.

  38. Is it true that CO2 (or any molecule for that matter) absorbs heat only in a specific (resonant?) frequency band? If so, it appears to me, the upper range of maximum heating possible through CO2 absorption is quantifiable and is a function of solar activity, not CO2 levels. Thus it wouldn’t matter how much CO2 is in the atmosphere, once the heat available in the band was all absorbed no further CO2 heating could occur. This would explain how CO2 levels could have been so much higher in the past without creating a runaway greenhouse effect.

  39. “As a result of this inherent uncertainty regarding causation, climate modelers are free to tune their models to produce just about any amount of global warming they want to.”

    This is the nature of any modeling exercise where there exists a great degree on unknowns requiring judgment decisions and “educated guesses”.

    By their nature models will reflect the biases of those who prepare them. Thus one cannot rely on models that come from organizations that also have become advocates.

  40. re: average temperatures

    During this last cold spell there are some areas of plants in my backyard that died and some areas that didn’t. There were individual plants that died on one part but not the other. If you had the temperature data from several points you could calculate an average for the entire backyard but it still wouldn’t change the fact that the small differences from the average meant life or death to some of the plants.

    Last night the low temp was 41F, the night before 25 F so the average of the two nights was 33 F. Does that tell anyone about the critical differences between the two nights? If you averaged out the low temps for the entire winter would that tell you it was OK to plant temperature sensitive plants because they would never die?

  41. We’re speaking ten different languages here.

    1. Science speak is usually quite complex. Science cannot adequately explain the weather, climate, or forecast either beyond 48 hours, this creates a lot of concern among those with a bent for paying bills and putting food on the table. Science is unlikely to resolve this problem any time soon.

    2. Among scientists there are those who imagine themselves to be smarter than anyone else and they come out with all kinds of good and bad theories. Call this the noise of science, a dialect of Science speak.

    3. Among scientists there are “scientists”, these are unscrupulous people who want to be rich and famous and will say and do anything to make more money and get their names in the media and their ugly faces on TV. Their science speak is slurred and twisted.

    4. Outside of science there are lawmakers and government officials who don’t know anything about science and who want to do the best they can for the people of their country. Rare, but it happens.

    5. Outside of science there are “lawmakers and government officials” who don’t know anything about science or public service and who want to be famous and get on the Tonight Show and make a lot of money. They will use any issue to further their goals and feather their own nest.

    6. Outside science there are business people who don’t know anything about science and who want to do the best they can for their business. Again, rare but it is seen in the strangest places sometimes

    7. Outside science there are “business” people who don’t know anything about science or business and who want to make a lot of money and buy expensive toys. They also want to be famous and get on the Tonight Show. They will use any issue to further their goals and feather their own nest.

    8. Outside science there are regular people who don’t know anything (or much) about science or politics or business who just want to be left alone to live their life and earn a decent wage. They want to know what the weather is going to be like for the next two weeks and if the climate where they live is going to be the same as always.

    9. Outside science there are some “regular people” who don’t know anything about science or politics or business who want to smash something, or convert someone, or build a lasting memorial so that when they die their name is not forgotten.

    10. Outside science there are some “very weird people” who made an awful lot of money on some bright idea, or talent, or luck, and who want to leave a bigger monument to their famous little name, or who want to somehow make up for all their sins and do something “good” for humanity. They don’t have a clue what that something could be but one day they meet a weird little “scientist” and a strange little “government employee or politician” who convinces them that unless big, big changes are made, the world will cease to exist, or dry up, or freeze. This sounds BIG to them, they LIKE it, and they write a check. The check goes to the bank to be cashed, the “scientists” start talking with Jay Leno, the “politicians” start writing bills in congress and talking to their “strange regular people” friends who want to smash something, or convert someone, or build a lasting memorial so that when they die their name is not forgotten. Over the years their hysteria grows, and shazam “Copenhagen” and what we see today!

    The AGW mess is spoken in more than 10 languages, I only wanted to keep it simple. AGW is only one example of this strange conduct by Carbon Units infesting Planet Earth.

  42. IlikeWarm@yahoo.com (05:53:23) :

    Is it true that CO2 (or any molecule for that matter) absorbs heat only in a specific (resonant?) frequency band?

    Yes, molecules absorb infrared photons but the states are unstable and they reradiate, usually into two or three softer photons and the energy ends up as kinetic energy of whole molecules in the mixture. In the case of CO2, and H2O, the heat goes to kinetic energy of N2 and O2 which are more numerous in the atmosphere.

    If so, it appears to me, the upper range of maximum heating possible through CO2 absorption is quantifiable and is a function of solar activity, not CO2 levels. Thus it wouldn’t matter how much CO2 is in the atmosphere, once the heat available in the band was all absorbed no further CO2 heating could occur.

    No. It would have been true if the states that accepted the infrared photons were stable, but they are not. They decay pretty fast and the molecules are free to absorb again.

  43. @ IlikeWarm@yahoo.com (05:53:23) :
    @ anna v (06:23:11) :

    Thanks for this short discussion on CO2 this morning. I’m struggling to understand the basic physics of how CO2 is behaving in the upper atmosphere. I’m a true layman in this field but my working hypothesis for CO2 at present goes something like this. I assume that the concentrations of CO2 are clumpy as a recent NASA satellite has discovered. So I draw a Gaussian surface around these clumps and then picture them gaining energy when factors are favorable and losing energy as the energy balance reverses. The net energy transfer to H2O and other receivers of this re radiated CO2 energy depends on surrounding conditions. The surrounding conditions are changing in time. The energy gain of the CO2 clumps are changing in time. So the net heating or cooling effect to the earth by CO2 is governed by the superposition of the CO2 energy gain mechanisms and the surrounding mechanisms that would absorb or reflect the re radiated CO2 energy. This line of thinking leads me to believe some kind of frequency analysis (Fourier analysis perhaps) would be an effective way to model the CO2 behavior. Please shoot this down if I’m way off base.

  44. Dr Roy, I am not sure if you are aware that water and ice in the infra-red range of 3 to 14 micron wavelength are close to black bodies (emissivity/absorptivity >0.95). Clouds radiate heat energy to space. The snow in Europe and North America can be sustained because of radiative heat loss.
    I wish you and other “climate” scientists (?) would stop using the word “forcing”. The driver of heat transfer is temperature difference. There are four modes of heat transfer (which you can read in Perry’s Chemical Engineering Handbook)a) Conduction, which occurs in solids, has similarities to electrical conduction. Metals such as copper are good heat conductors. b) convection, which occurs in liquids and gases, is split into “natural” convection and “forced” convection. Forced convection applies when the liquid or gas is in motion particularly turbulent motion, which is driven by pressure differences c) radiation occurs from surfaces to others surfaces or to space through a vacuum, gases or liquids. Gases and liquids can absorb some radiation and re-radiate. d) phase change – in the atmosphere, evaporation and condensation of water is a very important heat transfer.
    With surface temperatures around 50C forced convection with winds over 20km/hr exceeds radiation. Just think about washing drying on a windy but overcast day.
    The Kiehl and Trenberth global energy flows diagram is wrong on a number of grounds. It would appear that they have no understanding of the principles of heat transfer unless they have deliberately tried to bias their hypothesis. The back radiation from so called greenhouse gases is the biggest error. However, the whole concept of average energy fluxes is wrong as mentioned by some other posts. It is not possible to average the incoming radiation from the sun at the equator during the hot part of the day, the evaporation of water at that point and the outgoing radiation at the pole at night and the snow falling at the pole at the time. Radiation is proportional to the fourth power of absolute temperature and multiplied by emissivities which also can vary.
    The Australia BOM has data on evaporation and insolence at some sites. At one inland site the heat absorbed by evaporation (1800 w/m2) exceeded the insolence (1300w/m2) when there was a high wind (29km/h). The additional heat was provided by forced convection and cooling in the water pan.
    The sun is the main driver of climate aided by water surfaces (>70% of all the earth surface) and water vapour in the atmosphere which help by providing temperature and pressure differences.

  45. I assume that the reference to “faith” is Roy Spencer’s reaction to those who accuse him of a faith position.

    But why does he think there will be a 2W change in clouds in response to warming? Why is this belief different to the allegation that the models can be tuned to give you what you want?

    As it happens, I understand most models don’t show much cloud feedback at all (based on work by Soden and Held), and models that have been “tuned” to give lower feedbacks tend not to be realistic – ie. they’d be even more rubbish at predicting the weather.

    Also, of course, all the evidence seems to be that the climate tends to be sensitive to causes of warming in the (geologically) short term – hence the ice ages etc.

  46. How do the satellites and model cope with background cosmic ray radiation? We know this is modulated by the solar wind (it is currently very high right now up 40% in the last few years) and is equivalent overall to a background temperature of 3 degrees.

    If 3 degrees from space is equivalent to an extra 3 watts that the earth receives and that what the earth receives is varying by 40% in just a few years then this has got to be a significant part of the radiative balance (on aprevious post Dr Spencer showed a light extra energy gain of 1 watt over a period of a decade as measured by CERES “radiative balance” satellite)

    Can anyone help?

  47. Roy,

    This is far from clear to me, I have to say. And I am not new to this!

    I thought IPCC were saying they do KNOW the cause – it is the ability of the extra carbon dioxide to radiatively force the temperature in the atmosphere. Their preferred computer models calculate an extra roughly 2.5 watts/sq metre so far. This had led to about 1C degree rise since 1900. They don’t say ALL of that is extra greenhouse gases, but that MOST of it is. They don’t specify a figure for that ‘most’ but of course they have to mean more than 50%.

    They regard cloud change data during this period as problematic – including the 4% decline over 1980-2000 measured by the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project, and hence draw no conclusions at all, simply regarding any cloud changes as ‘feedback’ and hence a consequence of the extra greenhouse gases.

    I raised these issues in my book – including details of NASA’s GISS data sets that showed extra SW radiation penetrating to the Earth’s surface throughout the warming period from 1980 to 2000, and then falling after 2001. NASA suggest these changes are due to cloud variability. Work at the Big Bear Solar Observatory on measuring ‘earthshine’ and albedo (reflected light from the earth to the moon) essentially confirms the changes in cloud and the rather large watts/sq metre compared to the RF from carbon dioxide (I reckoned about 4:1 at least).

    Specialists at NASA as recent as 2008 (Takmeng Wong for example) were clear that the warming was driven by the clouds, but that a) this could be a natural cloud cycle, or b) a feedback from ‘global warming’.

    Since 80% of global warming according to IPCC is held within the oceans, and 70% of the surface is water, I have never managed to understand how carbon dioxide warms the oceans significantly, compared to the large pulses of SW radiation.

    The whole story does not stack up – but Roy, I am no physicist and this graphic does not help me at all! isn’t the short answer that – as Kevin Trenberth so eloquently put it in the ‘climategate’ files, when trying to work out where all the heat had gone – ‘we can’t account for it, and its a travesty that we can’t’. I think he meant that it was a travesty considering all the money and technology that had already been thrown at the problem.

  48. Phillip Bratby and those supporting his arguments have a point, but they are overstating it. While is certainly true that the omnipresence of microclimates limits the value of assessing a “global” climate, there nevertheless are global variables in Earth’s overall climate. For example, changes in toatal solar energy flux or solar magnetic flux might have effects on every part of the Earth—even if those effects are of differing magnitudes in the various microclimates. By averaging temperature measurements from many different microclimates and watching for change over time with positive correlations, one can find true signals amidst the noise. Those signals will then give information on the variables that to some extent effect most or all of the microclimates. Issues related to greenhouse gases, aerosols, solar variables, galactic cosmic rays, net global cloud cover, wobbles in the Earth’s rotation or skewing of the Earth’s solar orbit, or changes in the density of dust in our interplanetary space as our sun moves through its galactic orbit are all examples of variables that could be studied in relation to an averaged global temperature.

    KW

  49. John Finn (02:17:12) :

    You hit that one out of the ballpark.
    The lake, in this case, is the world’s oceans.

  50. Cement a friend. I agree. To my knowledge, “forcing” is not a term that was used in physics until “climate scientists” invented it to bamboozle people. I have never been able to reconcile the Kiehl & Trenberth paper on the Earth’s Annual Global Mean Energy Budget. And Climategate has revealed that neither could they – in Trenberth’s own words “we are not close to balancing the energy budget”.

    Downwelling or back radiation anyone???

  51. Peter Taylor (07:34:25) :

    Perhaps the heat has gone out in radiation, as indicated by an Earthshine effect on the Moon noted to have risen dramatically the past few years.

    [Project Earthshine shows increased albedo since 1998. RT - Mod]

  52. “Peter Taylor (07:34:25) :
    [...]
    I think he meant that it was a travesty considering all the money and technology that had already been thrown at the problem.”

    Don’t forget the brains thrown at it.

  53. Doug S (06:50:18)

    I replied to this but something happened with the preview and backspace and it disappeared.

    Check my post above for a description of how the CO2 behaves and think what ppm means. There are lots and lots of other molecules in the clumps that pick up the softer photons and turn them finally into kinetic energy.

    All this is happening at electromagnetic time constants, much less than a second, so my guess is that frequency analysis would not help. It is a steady state which changes slowly with daytime and winds etc.

  54. “Note that the major uncertainty here is what caused the warming in the first place. Without knowing that, there is no way to know how sensitive the climate system is.”

    By deleting the major cause for the warming a priorì there is no way to understand climate change at all. Unless the hyperesoteric radiation gets discovered (it won’t, simply because I coined this theory first).

  55. lgl (08:11:42) :
    Jeremy. Those 3 deg is equivalent to 4.5 microwatt, 3^4*5.678*10^-8
    Talking about very small energy fluxes: the solar wind gives us 250 microwatt/m2

  56. anna v (07:59:28) :

    Thanks anna. There’s a lot to learn here (for me anyway) and based on the comments of people much smarter than me, the science seems far from settled.

  57. Cement a friend (07:00:27) :
    With surface temperatures around 50C forced convection with winds over 20km/hr exceeds radiation. Just think about washing drying on a windy but overcast day.

    I’ve never heard of anyone on this planet drying their washing in 50ºC (122ºF) on an overcast day!

  58. Unfortunately, in the arena of climate research the level of faith is unusually high, and I get the impression most researchers are not even aware of its existence.

    True. Largely because the science has been molded to fit the faith. The faith suggests we can achieve mass behavior change by uniting against calamity. But if the calamity is a fabricated dragon living on the outskirts of town, faith is misplaced. It relies on belief that misbehavior, questioning orthodoxy, in-dependence, cause the dragon to breathe fire on the cowering town folk.

    The problem here is the science – once discernible by a very few, is now accessible to many. And many now see behind the curtain. No intelligent man wants to be bamboozled by myth. Especially when it costs him the fruits of his labor. The lesson learned is that faith manipulating truth does not work. Truth comes first, and faith lifts it up.

  59. A model using data from Mauna Loa for CO2, and satellite temperature data shows that temperature changes seem to be related to the rate of change of the CO2 level, not the absolute level. This explains why we are seeing cooling now, but implies that we well see a return to warming when the economic recovery starts.

    The model is shown at: http://www.2bc3.com/warming.html

  60. imapopulist (05:57:24) :
    “By their nature models will reflect the biases of those who prepare them. ”

    Indeed you would have some suprising allies on your incisive statement:

    Modellers have an inbuilt bias towards forced climate change because the causes and effect are clear.”
    “General circulation modelling of Holocene climate variability”,
    by Gavin Schmidt, Drew Shindell, Ron Miller, Michael Mann and David Rind, published in Quaternary Science Review in 2004.)

    source
    (PDF)
    ————

    As for uncertainties in the minds of the modellers see:

    From: Kevin Trenberth
    Date: Wed, 14 Oct 2009

    Mike

    Here are some of the issues as I see them:
    Saying it is natural variability is not an explanation. What are the physical processes? Where did the heat go? We know there is a build up of ocean heat prior to El Nino, and a discharge (and sfc T warming) during late stages of El Nino, but is the observing system sufficient to track it? Quite aside from the changes in the ocean, we know there are major changes in the storm tracks and teleconnections with ENSO, and there is a LOT more rain on land during La Nina (more drought in El Nino), so how does the albedo change overall (changes in cloud)? At the very least the extra rain on land means a lot more heat goes into evaporation rather than raising temperatures, and so that keeps land temps down: and should generate cloud. But the resulting evaporative cooling means the heat goes into atmosphere and should be radiated to space: so we should be able to track it with CERES data.

    The CERES data are unfortunately wonting and so too are the cloud data. The ocean data are also lacking although some of that may be related to the ocean current changes and burying heat at depth where it is not picked up. If it is sequestered at depth then it comes back to haunt us later and so we should know about it.

    Kevin

    http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=1052&filename=1255523796.txt

  61. Nice lucid post.

    There is very little one seems to know a priori about the climate system. But I have always scratched my head about the implausibility of a climate system that is close to instabiltiy with respect to CO2 concentration. The IPCC asserts that the climate sensitivity is in the range 2-4.5 deg C for doubling, with about 3 degrees as the most likely value. Then the dimensionless feedback factor must be between about 0.5 and 0.8 (0.67 most likely), with 1.0 being unstable. What we know about the history of the earth’s climate does not seem to support this. Rather the climate seems to have been stable with respect to changes in GHGs.

  62. Oh ye of little faith. The good book of AR-4, Chapter 9, verse 9.4.1.2 tells us “The fact that climate models are only able to reproduce
    observed global mean temperature changes over the 20th century
    when they include anthropogenic forcings, and that they fail to
    do so when they exclude anthropogenic forcings, is evidence
    for the infl uence of humans on global climate.”

    Can ye not also see how this warming is unprecedented in the vision inspired figure 9.4 as ye heretics sometimes describe as the hockey stick?

    Repent and embrace the AGW truth!

  63. Leif,

    Thanks for the clarification – those flux rates are indeed negligible.

    I just find it confusing that we speak of background cosmic radiation as being “3 degrees” and yet a radiative balance energy flux gain of 1 watt per square meter for earth surface is of the similar order of magnitude as 1 degree of surface temperature of black body earth.

    Why the six orders of magnitude difference?

  64. Jeremy (10:07:26) :
    Why the six orders of magnitude difference?
    Because the temperature to use in the Stefan-Boltzmann law is the ‘absolute’ temperature [degrees Kelvin]= 273+temp in Centigrade.
    The 3 [closer to 2.725] degree cosmic microwave background is already Kelvin, K, but the 3 degree temperature change is from 288K to 291K, and the flux change is thus proportional to (291^4-288^4) ~ 291 million compared to 2.725^4 ~ 55 or 5 million times smaller.

  65. I see a lot of comments regarding the average global temperature. I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding of why this metric is used. The following is my understanding of its usage – but I am no expert or scientist, just an electrical engineer. If my explanation is wanting, then I welcome a correction from those more knowledge.

    We hear very often “weather is not climate”. This is true because weather is an instataneous measure of certain atmospheric phenomenom, and climate is a stastical calculation of the history of those weather measurements.

    Thus, climate is math – statistics to be exact. That is why the work of Steve McIntyre is so important. Steve is not a climate scientist, but he is something far more important – a statistician. It is why he has been able to poke so many holes in the IPCC and CRU climate data; he can show where the statistics are wanting, and thus the climate representations are also wanting.

    The same holds true for climate forecasts. These forecasts are statistical in nature: i.e., they are a probability of occurrence. This is why a cold winter, like the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing now, does not necessarily invalidate the warmists climate forecasts. This winter is a data point in the statistical calculation, not the whole data set.

    This brings us to global average temperatures. As a weather number, global average temperatures are worthless. However, since climate is statistics, it has mathematical meaning. It shows a trend, not an occurrence.

    Well, that exhausts my small knowledge of all of this. Skeptics need to realize that we are not going to win the climate debate by glad-handing each others comments, and failing to understand what the warmists are really attempting to say. If we are to refute warmist theories, we need to try and understand what underpins those theories, and show the flaws in them. That is exactly what people like Steve McIntyre and Dr. Roy Spence are so effective at doing

  66. Phillip Bratby (02:29:58) :

    John Finn, I disagree. If the global average temperature is nonsense, then so too is the derivative.

    Your lake analogy is OK for the lake, because the lake has a single level. But the earth does not have a single temperature.

    But each individual station/location has a single temperature.

    No-one is interested in the average temperature – so why does it bother you? We are interested in whether the earth has actually warmed (or cooled). From the numerous ‘samples’ which have been measured over the past century or so (~30 years in the case of satellites) we can determine with a reasonable level of confidence the amount of warming (or cooling).

  67. Firing on all guns:

    “But those who interpret satellite data in this way are being sloppy. For instance, they never bother to investigate exactly WHY the warming occurred in the first place. [...] Note that the major uncertainty here is what caused the warming in the first place. [...] As a result of this inherent uncertainty regarding causation, climate modelers are free to tune their models to produce just about any amount of global warming they want to. [...] They can simply assert that there are no natural causes of climate change, and as a result they will conclude that our climate system is precariously balanced on a knife edge.”

  68. ‘Vincent (05:49:53) :

    Rhys Jagger,

    Common sense is indeed, less common than we would think. There are a number of cognitive biases which cause people to make consistent errors of judgement. Eg, there is the “recency bias” which leads people to place more weight to recent events, statistics etc. which leads to interesting patterns in stock prices. More relevantly there is the “Confirmation” bias which leads to the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.

    I disagree with your MBA example though. You are assuming that all MBA’s are equal, so that it becomes irrational for people to pay more for the same product. But this is not the case. A Harvard MBA is clearly more valuable than one from Smallsville, and people are acting rationally in paying more for this qualification.’

    I agree absolutely with you about your alma mater, if that is what it is!

    The example was actually a damn good, but not absolutely elite school. I won’t name it for clear reasons, but I’m quoting from real life truth, namely the recruitment figures for a 4 year period for the same MBA programme. And the story was told me by one of the faculty of that school…….

  69. Further to “global average temperature” and whether it “exists”: I believe astronomers ascribe temperatures to distant stars based on their emission spectrums. Imagine that a sensor was located on one of the Voyager probes and it now could observe the earth, which, due to distance, would appear to be a point source of radiation, and that it was possible to filter out the portion of that spectrum which was reflected solar radiation, then you could ascribe a temperature to the whole earth based on the characteristics of the remaining emitted radiation and an assumption about what the global “grey body” coefficient of the earth is. If you watched that spectrum over time it might change so as to indicate an increasing, or decreasing, “global” temperature. Now try to imagine predicting, using thermometers here on earth and calculating a weighted average of the temperature readings taken, what we would expect the global temperature measured from the Voyager probe to be.

  70. I haven’t had a chance to read all comments, but the 1 Watt increase in outgoing IR-plus-reflected solar is consistent with the IPCC models, which range from +0.8 W to 1.9 W per sq. meter extra loss per deg. C of Warming.

    Any value less than 3.3 Watts (the loss of extra IR through temperature alone) is positive feedback, while greater than 3.3 is negative feedback. A positive value is required for a stable climate system, and all IPCC models have a positive net feedback parameter…but less than 3.3.

  71. Re: Ron Dean (10:23:46)

    Be careful.

    Putting all ‘statisticians’ in the same basket is a serious error. Some of them are religiously devoted to 100%-untenable abstract assumptions, I assure you — and because of their algebraic wizardry, they wield hypnotic powers over the innocent masses.

    Don’t get me wrong. These are incredibly intelligent people ….but their paradigm is based on X1, X2, X3, … random ~i.i.d. We have TONS of deterministic conditional dependencies to work out before we can satisfy such base assumptions — we are light years from firm statistical footing at present.

    Everything that is done in statistics is based on assumptions. Good judgement hinges on sober awareness of their connection, if any exists, to reality.

    Statistics students have enough on their plates plowing through volumes upon volumes upon volumes of derivations & proofs even if they expediently buy the assumptions wholesale (which most do, btw).

    Furthermore, consider that the data they analyze (for the seeming-few who aren’t theoreticians…) come from diverse disciplines — and mathematical-statistics is such an expansive field that if stats scholars dare venture down too many paths towards common sense awareness in multiple disciplines, they may be lost at home (aside from some rare, gifted individuals perhaps…)

    Interdisciplinary studies of complexity are necessarily ….complex.

    Via phase-aware methods, I believe we may one day know enough of deterministic conditional dependencies in climate to satisfy randomness assumptions for residuals, but we’re not remotely near there yet. [Don't fall for all this misguided fluff about 'red noise'.]

  72. Grumpy old man,

    “A model using data from Mauna Loa for CO2, and satellite temperature data shows that temperature changes seem to be related to the rate of change of the CO2 level, not the absolute level.”

    That would be great news if it were true, since it means we could avoid warming by merely keeping the current CO2 level at the current level with no need for cuts.

    However, whereas the recession only began 2 years ago, the warming ended a decade ago, so the model isn’t even empirically valid.

  73. Re: Jimbo (09:40:46)

    Excellent quote of Trenberth – I’ve always had the sense that he is interested in the truth (…but perhaps caught up in some unpalatable social ‘dynamics’…)

  74. Thanks for the laugh:
    Ron de Haan (03:04:38) “Dutch Government Educative Publication: Skeptics are white males (It’s because of the testosterone, not the science)”

  75. Dr. Spencer,
    Slightly off topic, but over at ‘Deltoid’ they are giving you some stick because you changed your satellite lower atmosphere chart from a running 13-month average to a running 25-month average. They are becoming fearfully excited and I worry for them. Perhaps you could explain if you have a moment. I am happy to pass the message on if you prefer not to be contaminated!

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/01/roy_spencer_hides_the_increase.php#comments

  76. John (02:55:50) :

    No, no, no!
    Assumming there is no other source of energy. The Earth recieves ~1400 w/m2 from the Sun. This energy is absorbed as a circle but emmitted as a sphere so divide by 4 and the Earth emitts 350w/m2 back into space. (…)

    Absorbed as a circle? That would seem a severe oversimplification. With the Earth as a sphere, by simple optics at some point as you get to the edge of the sphere the angle of reflection must be accounted for, thus the apparent cross-sectional area for energy absorption calculations would be smaller. You would have to calculate different values of the angle for the different substances in the atmosphere and the surface, for the different wavelengths of radiation, figure out adjustments for how clouds shade the surface, etc. Plus there may be problems with treating the Earth as a series of spheres with smooth surfaces, the roughness may have to be accounted for.

    With satellite measurements over a long enough period, preferably observing the Earth at quite some distance away, you could figure out an observed general value for energy calculations. But to simply calculate by saying the Sun is giving off this amount of energy per area measurement at Earth orbit distance, there is this much cross-sectional area, so just multiply the two for how much energy the Earth receives, doesn’t seem very scientific.

  77. “”Vincent (02:02:22) :

    lgl (00:44:42) :

    “More Realistic View” ?
    1 Watt net loss and 1 C warming? Does not make sense to me

    This is based loosely on blackbody radiation. If something gets warmer, it radiates more energy. Thus, the 1c of warming would be associated with extra radiation into space – 1 watt in this case.

    The question I have is that in the example on the right, the diagram shows an extra 3 watts radiated into space, but in the body of the text it says “The net result still ends up being a loss of 1 extra Watt.” I don’t follow that logic, which brings me onto:

    sHx,
    “”
    This doesn’t really make sense to me either.

    A 1 deg C rise in surface T is going to raise the emitted radiation at the surface by around 5.5 w/m^2. The atmosphere for clear sky wil block about 30% of the outgoing or pass through 70% (3.8w/m^2). Clear sky accounts for about 48% of the surface, the rest is clouds which are going to block outgoing radiation from the surface. The extra power going out is going to be around 1.8 W/m^2 after accounting for the outgoing absorption and the cloud cover fraction.

    It would seem the ipcc is claiming that something else – such as a change in cloud cover is going to result in only 1w/m^2 additional being emitted. It is probably coming from one of their defective models. I don’t see where Roy’s is coming from. He seems to be assuming a drop in cloud cover and that may be based upon measurements like the 1997/8 heat spike. If that’s the case though, he may have a causality problem as the rise in T was probably due to the drop in cloud cover not the cloud cover being reduced by a rise in T. I didn’t see where he explained just what was happening or how it was happening. To me, that means his explanation is confusing and unclear. Just saying that T goes up and radiated emission goes up because of clouds just doesn’t explain or clarify anything. It’s just too simplified to make any sense.

  78. The Earth’s surface albedo is around 0.08 and it is for incoming solar power that is mostly visible and near IR. That 0.08 is the combination of mostly ocean – under 0.04 albedo and land surface, averaging between 0.1 and 0.2 and includes current ice cover. As one goes towards longer IR wavelengths, the surface emissivity which is related to surface albedo at the longer wavelengths, is going to be approaching 1.0 as the surface tends towards being a blackbody, absorbing most of the longwave IR and permitting stefan’s law to work fairly well.

    NOTE: my above post stated 48% clear skies and it should be more like 38% with Earth having around 62% typical total cloud cover. That reduces the 1.8 w/m^2 down to around 1.5 w/m^2.

  79. Ron Dean (10:23:46) :

    This brings us to global average temperatures. As a weather number, global average temperatures are worthless. However, since climate is statistics, it has mathematical meaning. It shows a trend, not an occurrence.

    By that reasoning, and I am not saying I disagree with it, we should get just as much information by just measuring the temp in just one location. That is also a statistic and may infer just as much information.

  80. Kwinterkorn (07:44:17) :

    Tantalisingly close.

    Without giving away someone else’s farm. Procession of syzygies of the inner planets and the gas giants with regard to Northern hemisphere winter, as opposed to its Southern counterpart – its own summer. Harmoniously wondrous cycles.

  81. Roy W. Spencer.

    First of all, thank you so much for clarifying your ‘lead post’ within the ensuing thread. This practise is SO helpful to ‘thread posters’.

    Thanks for explaining the normal use of the ‘satellite product’, but this mostly corresponds to a static use, as in a ‘clockwork’ representation of the local ‘Mandelbrot set’, etc. However, a climate predictor would need to be far more ‘organic’ than this and show ‘chaos’ to some degree.

    Without a mathematical model that shows a realistic inclusion of chaos it’s ‘a dead animal’ (an incomplete model). Without the representation of a ‘chaos factor’ a model can’t represent any degree of ‘evolution’ of ‘the system’, or possible changes within ‘attractors to climate’ that give rise to ‘change’. Thus, can’t even offer an ‘alternative reality’ to climate per se. However, an ‘organic model’ would show true variability (at least).

    You have offered two possible scenarios here that both show the same outcome and outline, the ‘duplicity’ of ‘static models’ (worst case and best case scenarios).

    I concur. A lot of data and scenarios are still missing.

    Best regards, suricat.

  82. “Unspecified Cause” sounds a bit like Intelligent Design, doesn’t it Roy?

    [REPLY - Three choices: 1.) Atheism/Agnosticism, 2.) Deism, 3.) Intelligent Design. Pick one. You can be like ~90% of the world and go for option 3, ~10% and go for option 1, or ~0% and go for option 2. As for me, I'm option 1. Thus endeth the theological lesson for today. ~ Evan]

  83. Basically this is saying that the Earth isn’t just a giant test tube – it’s more complicated than that! We’re just not sure HOW complicated!

    Sorry for the exclamation marks, just a bad habit!!!

  84. Leif,

    This must be the second or third time you have taken the time to help me out. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it and you are one of the experts that posts regularly and who make this blog so interesting. If I had not left behind a fully funded masters research grant in physics to fly to far flung places with the oil industry, I might not be quite so muddled and in need of so much help!.

  85. Paul Vaughan (12:25:01) :

    Your posts are always most enlightening, Paul. Thanks.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  86. Jeremy (18:11:54) :
    If I had not left behind a fully funded masters research grant in physics to fly to far flung places with the oil industry, I might not be quite so muddled and in need of so much help!.
    Your interest is what is important.

  87. robr (16:39:23) :

    “By that reasoning, and I am not saying I disagree with it, we should get just as much information by just measuring the temp in just one location”.

    Well my friend don’t laugh but you are onto something here that I’ve suggested in the past.

    How about “some” stations in “dry” or water vapour poor areas?
    Afterall, there is a big bruhaha about the level of feedback from WV, so why not find stations that eliminate WV as much as possible? That way, the increased CO2 in the atmoph should show up as higher night time lows.

    I

  88. Head’s up on AO (Arctic Oscillation):

    I’ve found what appears to be a systematic bias in the 1899-2002 AO reconstruction (which is based on SLPs). I have found a VERY SIMPLE way to reduce the variance in the residuals BY A FACTOR OF 2 (i.e. the size of the errors can be cut in half – & with ease).

    This is stuff a good Stat 101 student would notice.

    I also discovered a sloppy join part-way through 2001.

  89. Phillip Bratby (07:47:47) :

    Cement a friend. I agree. To my knowledge, “forcing” is not a term that was used in physics until “climate scientists” invented it to bamboozle people.

    The pre-existing term was “drivers,” I think, and they should have stuck with it instead of trying to twist people’s arms.

  90. Phillip Bratby, Average Temperature

    In 2008, Briggs, a statistician, wrote two entries related to “You cannot measure a mean.” For those interested in average temperature, they may be useful for further understanding of the issues.

    http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=104

    http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=106

    He also has problems with the use of smoothed data when when used for statistical prediction:

    http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=735

    The point being: we don’t really understand the “Other Stuff” – that is the random factors that drive temperature through wild swings around the average or mean value – and that we are placing too much reliance on our model’s ability (model being a mean with linear trend) to predict future climate.

  91. Phil. (09:23:40)

    What you say usually makes sense, but are you really trying to say that washing will not dry on a hot overcast day?

    Try and tell my wife that her washing will not dry on the line if it is hot but overcast, and she will laugh at you, put her washing out, and have it dry in an hour or two, wind or no wind.

    Convection is enough, wind just makes it dry faster.

    What do you do with a theory that doesn’t match real world experience?

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