Spencer: strong negative feedback found in radiation budget

Strong Negative Feedback from the Latest CERES Radiation Budget Measurements Over the Global Oceans

By Dr. Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

http://veimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/163/ceres_first_light.gif

CERES imagery of Earth's radiation budget - click to enlarge

Arguably the single most important scientific issue – and unresolved question – in the global warming debate is climate sensitivity. Will increasing carbon dioxide cause warming that is so small that it can be safely ignored (low climate sensitivity)? Or will it cause a global warming Armageddon (high climate sensitivity)?

The answer depends upon the net radiative feedback: the rate at which the Earth loses extra radiant energy with warming. Climate sensitivity is mostly determined by changes in clouds and water vapor in response to the small, direct warming influence from (for instance) increasing carbon dioxide concentrations.

This can be estimated from global, satellite-based measurements of natural climate variations in (1) Earth’s radiation budget, and (2) tropospheric temperatures.

These estimates are mostly constrained by the availability of the first measurement: the best calibrated radiation budget data comes from the NASA CERES instruments, with data available for 9.5 years from the Terra satellite, and 7 years from the Aqua satellite. Both datasets now extend through September of 2009.

I’ve been slicing and dicing the data different ways, and here I will present 7 years of results for the global (60N to 60S) oceans from NASA’s Aqua satellite. The following plot shows 7 years of monthly variations in the Earth’s net radiation (reflected solar shortwave [SW] plus emitted infrared longwave [LW]) compared to similarly averaged tropospheric temperature from AMSU channel 5.

Simple linear regression yields a net feedback factor of 5.8 Watts per sq. meter per degree C. If this was the feedback operating with global warming, then it would amount to only 0.6 deg. C of human-caused warming by late in this century. (Use of sea surface temperatures instead of tropospheric temperatures yields a value of over 11).

Since we have already experienced 0.6 deg. C in the last 100 years, it would also mean that most of our current global warmth is natural, not anthropogenic.

But, as we show in our new paper (in press) in the Journal of Geophysical Research, these feedbacks can not be estimated through simple linear regression on satellite data, which will almost always result in an underestimate of the net feedback, and thus an overestimate of climate sensitivity.

Without going into the detailed justification, we have found that the most robust method for feedback estimation is to compute the month-to-month slopes (seen as the line segments in the above graph), and sort them from the largest 1-month temperature changes to the smallest (ignoring the distinction between warming and cooling).

The following plot shows, from left to right, the cumulative average line slope from the largest temperature changes to the smaller ones. This average is seen to be close to 10 for the largest month-to-month temperature changes, then settling to a value around 6 after averaging of many months together. (Note that the full period of record is not used: only monthly temperature changes greater than 0.03 deg. C were included. Also, it is mostly coincidence that the two methods give about the same value.)

A net feedback of 6 operating on the warming caused by a doubling of atmospheric CO2 late in this century would correspond to only about 0.5 deg. C of warming. This is well below the 3.0 deg. C best estimate of the IPCC, and even below the lower limit of 1.5 deg. C of warming that the IPCC claims to be 90% certain of.

How Does this Compare to the IPCC Climate Models?

In comparison, we find that none of the 17 IPCC climate models (those that have sufficient data to do the same calculations) exhibit this level of negative feedback when similar statistics are computed from output of either their 20th Century simulations, or their increasing-CO2 simulations. Those model-based values range from around 2 to a little over 4.

These results suggest that the sensitivity of the real climate system is less than that exhibited by ANY of the IPCC climate models. This will end up being a serious problem for global warming predictions. You see, while modelers claim that the models do a reasonably good job of reproducing the average behavior of the climate system, it isn’t the average behavior we are interested in. It is how the average behavior will CHANGE.

And the above results show that not one of the IPCC climate models behaves like the real climate system does when it comes to feedbacks during interannual climate variations…and feedbacks are what determine how serious manmade global warming will be.

160 thoughts on “Spencer: strong negative feedback found in radiation budget

  1. I would note that Herr Dr. Professor Spencer does not seem to be a proponent of the flat earth theory.

  2. Get your electric blankets folks!. Old Winter’s coming back:
    As I watched in sorrow, there suddenly appeared
    A figure gray and ghostly beneath a flowing beard
    In times of deepest darkness, I’ve seen him dressed in black
    Now my tapestry’s unravelling; he’s come to take me back
    He’s come to take me back…♫♫♫

  3. Dr. Spencer,

    As a flight control systems engineer who deals with plant sensitivity to feedback loops all the time, I must applaud you for your contined work and focus on this issue. The systems I work on are nowhere near the levels of non-linearity nor the high level of multi-input, multi-output as is the earth’s climate. Yet I can find nothing inappropriate in your continued dyanmic analyses and focus on trying to determine the actual sensitivity of climate to CO2. Your work is very much appreciated by this engineer, and I always can comprehend each bit of analysis that you share with us. Well done!

  4. Roy writes: Since we have already experienced 0.6 deg. C in the last 100 years, it would also mean that most of our current global warmth is natural, not anthropogenic.

    How does he conclude that? During the last 100 years atmospheric GHGs have increased. The second part of the sentence does not follow from the first part, and it does not follow from the figure directly above. And the idea that the response will be linear is incorrect both from his figure and from future feedback affects. He mentions feedbacks in the following sentence but doesn’t clarify what those are. And I find it curious that the analysis is limited to 60S to 60N. Many of the feedbacks that enhance warming of the planet are found in the polar regions, so why ignore this crucial part of the planet when estimating future temperature response?

    Will be good to read the paper to find out what he is saying since this blog post is very vague.

  5. Feedback was always the big question that they thought (hoped) they had the answers to. Now it looks as if they’ve completely miscalculated. I wonder what they are going to put in the next IPCC assessment report. Everything seems to be going against them.
    I imagine it’ll be like the orchestra on the sinking Titanic – they’ll just keep playing the music.

    [REPLY – “God of mercy and compassion/Look with pity on my pain . . .” ~ Evan]

  6. The evidence which refutes AGW continues to build.
    Surely, there must be at least one scientifically literate government adviser in the US and UK who reads this and several other ‘science’ blogs. Cracks in the dam widen almost every day, but the likely unholy alliance of the Tories and the LibDems in the UK brings a new urgency to the situation.

  7. In principle it could be possible to develop a useful climate model. However, in order for any model to be useful, it must be validated first – model predictions must agree with observations over and over again. This has not happened and climate models are therefore not useful (yet).

  8. Without going into the detailed justification, we have found that the most robust method for feedback estimation is to compute the month-to-month slopes (seen as the line segments in the above graph), and sort them from the largest 1-month temperature changes to the smallest (ignoring the distinction between warming and cooling).

    I’m going to have to pick on this for two points. First its “robust”. If you can pick on the warmists for claiming their models and analysis are “robust” you need to hold yourself to the same standard. The second point I’m going to pick on is the hand waving trick where you say this is the best method without explaining at all why it is the best method. And I use the word “you” not in the sense of a personal attack, but simply because I can’t come up with a better way to word my comments.

    From an engineering perspective, the warmist’s assertion that the earth is going to hit a point and go into run away warming doesn’t hold water. If that were true, it would mean the earth’s climate has been in an unstable equilibrium for millions of years. Anybody who has ever balanced a rake on their hand should understand that an unstable equilibrium won’t last for very long even if you’re actively controlling said unstable equilibrium state.

  9. Everybody. Read Dr Spencer’s book because he lays it on the line. I am relatively new to this climate catastrophe thing known as “Man-Made Global Warming” and “Settled Science”. Only got interested after Climategate; but since then I have been searching for a magic bullet indicator to tell if there is anything at all of value in the CO2 thermal forcing claims. Hmmmmm Arctic Ice? Just fine thank you. Antarctic? Same. Ocean temperatures? Dropping according to Argos; sea level rise ditto. Localized awful, awful droughts/floods/famines/four horsemen/you-name-it – either easily explained by natural phenomenon; accidents or lame leadership.

    Warming? To me Dr Spencer’s explanation tells all: global warming as measured is a fraction of the modelers predictions and the entire Man-Made Global Warming meme as presented by Hansen/Gore/Mann/Jones/Briffa/Trenbeth et al is nothing but Piltdown Man writ large.

  10. I wonder how Roy’s results compare to these empirical studies:

    * Lorius 1990 examined Vostok ice core data and calculates a range of 3 to 4°C.
    * Hoffert 1992 reconstructs two paleoclimate records (one colder, one warmer) to yield a range 1.4 to 3.2°C.
    * Hansen 1993 looks at the last 20,000 years when the last ice age ended and empirically calculates a climate sensitivity of 3 ± 1°C.
    * Gregory 2002 used observations of ocean heat uptake to calculate a minimum climate sensitivity of 1.5.
    * Chylek 2007 examines the period from the Last Glacial Maximum to Holocene transition. They calculate a climate sensitivy range of 1.3°C and 2.3°C.
    * Tung 2007 performs statistical analysis on 20th century temperature response to the solar cycle to calculate a range 2.3 to 4.1°C.
    * Bender 2010 looks at the climate response to the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption to constrain climate sensitivity to 1.7 to 4.1°C.

  11. How does he conclude that?

    One crude and simple way would be to compare temperature increase from 1900 to 1950 and from 1950 to 2000. Nearly all of the CO2 increase occurred during the latter period.

    The warming of the 20s-30s is quite similar in slope to that of the 80s – 90s.

    There was also a strong warming after 1840. Lots of soot back then, but not so much CO2 by today’s standards.

    There has been a massive percentage increase in CO2 for the last dozen years, yet temperature trend is down (even including the current el Nino).

    One can conclude from this that CO2 may be a thumb on the scale, but it doesn’t appear to be a primary driver.

  12. Perhaps this will ease the fears of the Kiwis:

    AUCKLAND, New Zealand, May 6 /Medianet International-AsiaNet/ –

    The Royal Australian and New Zealand Collage of Psychiatrists’ Congress at SkyCity Convention Centre in Auckland brings together mental health experts in a diverse range of areas. Here are some highlights from this morning’s program.

    GLOBAL WARMING FEARS SEEN IN OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER PATIENTS

    A recent study has found that global warming has impacted the nature of symptoms experienced by obsessive compulsive disorder patients. Climate change related obsessions and/or compulsions were identified in 28% of patients presenting with obsessive compulsive disorder…We found that many obsessive compulsive disorder patients were concerned about reducing their global footprint,” said study author Dr Mairwen Jones.

  13. And I find it curious that the analysis is limited to 60S to 60N. Many of the feedbacks that enhance warming of the planet are found in the polar regions, so why ignore this crucial part of the planet when estimating future temperature response?

    Well, surface data from outside those regions is mostly less than useless and even satellite data isn’t the best, seeing as how it’s a pole-to-pole orbit with sideways-looking sensors. Plus I think there are ice reflection issues that affect MW readings.

  14. Wait, so this paper is making these conclusions from 7 years of data? That doesn’t seem like enough data to make that or any type of conclusion. Notice the 2 figures shown in this post start in 2002.

  15. These results certainly seem more consistent with observed temp trends over the last 10 years vs the IPCC model predictions. Of course, the 0.5 C warming over the next century doesn’t account for any natural forcings over the same period – just the GHG forcing, right? Could end up being less or more, depending on how natural forcing feed in.

  16. My goodness, a climate scientist actually gathering real world data, proposing a hypothesis, testing it and making conclusions based on real evidence rather than treemometers.

    What next, publishing the data and the procedures so other climate scientists can duplicate the experiments?

    How bizarre, how very, very bizarre.

    Does the IPCC know of this witchcraft?

  17. jeff brown says:
    May 7, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    “Roy writes: Since we have already experienced 0.6 deg. C in the last 100 years, it would also mean that most of our current global warmth is natural, not anthropogenic.”

    Then jeff adds:

    “How does he conclude that? During the last 100 years atmospheric GHGs have increased.”

    So?

    According to Occam’s Razor, the starting point is to simply assume a spurious correlation. Otherwise, we end up with science looking like this.

    evanjones provides additional evidence that atmospheric CO2 is not the driver of the climate — much less the very tiny fraction that is anthropogenic CO2.

    Contrary to the IPCC, it has consistently been my oft-stated position here that the climate sensitivity to anthropogenic CO2 is well below one, and probably less than 0.5. It would not surprise me at all if the sensitivity number was essentially zero, considering all the known and possibly unknown climate feedbacks that may be countering the radiative effect of CO2.

    We will see who is right, Dr Spencer, or the IPCC. I’m betting on Dr Spencer.

  18. Al Gore’s Weather (AGW) : ” it’s incredibly green, it’s amazing.”

    This is too sensitive for Moi!

    How can this be? Mah modellers failed.

    “The pastoralists have just come out of eight years of drought and they’ve been hit with the best water in the area since 2000,” Mr Backway told The Times. “I haven’t seen so many grins on people’s faces in a long time. Driving up to the area … it’s incredibly green, it’s amazing.”

    …-

    “Sailing regatta to be held in the Australian desert”

    ” A “bone dry” salt lake surrounded by deserts in the middle of the Australian Outback is the last place you would expect to find a sailing regatta.

    However a group of Outback sailing aficionados are planning to do just that when they hold the first regatta in the area around Lake Eyre, Australia’s largest – and driest – salt lake, since 1976.

    Record rainfall and flooding in Queensland earlier this year has sent water streaming through many of Australia’s inland river systems, including Coopers Creek, which flows through two states into the Lake Eyre basin. ”

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article7119232.ece

  19. Its dead Jim. As for evamjones, your measurements are constrained by the orbit of the satellite. In any case, the areas near the poles have a high albedo due to snow cover or ice cover most of the time. Clouds over Antarctica warm it since the clouds have a lower albedo than the snow cover does.

  20. @Charles: One could say riding a motorcycle is also an example of this “unstable equilibrium” of which you speak; it is analagous to balancing a rake on your hand. I used to do a fair amount of motorcycle riding and was able to keep it enjoyably balanced until the gas gave out (the rake, not so much). However, tell me who or what has put earth’s climate on my motorcycle, or in a vertical position balanced on my hand? I realize this may be stretching it, but the analogy is appropriate. And maybe it is just a matter of semantics, but I don’t see how climate can be hoisted up this “unstable equilibrium” flagpole of yours. Can you supply a more conprehensive explanation?

    But say climate was somehow elevated to a significantly higher energy state, from which it fell sometime in the future. Can you offer what constitutes this higher energy state? And should it somehow fall to a lower state, earth won’t warm up–it will cool off and the weather will settle down; the energy driving the climate will have been reduced. The ultimate end is an inhospitable, frozen earth (at least until the sun engulfs us, but that’s a long, long ways off).

    But please, enlighten me if I’m wrong.

  21. I agree with whoever said 7 years isn’t enough to be conclusive, even if it is almost twice as much as PIOMAS tries to use for ice volume, and AGWers seem to find it strangely compelling.

    But if you read Roy’s latest book, it’s clear as he says that he’s not trying to *end* the AGW debate in scientific circles –he’s trying to get an open-minded debate *started* in those circles.

  22. I doubt the 0.6C rise is even accurate considering the way measurements have been taken and changed over more than a century and how urban dimming effects were higher in the past than present. More like a 0.25C rise.

  23. Dr Spencer
    You should take a look at the whole satellite cloud series as your missing the best bit.
    Average cloud cover dropped by 4% and the step change that happened leads the step change we saw in temp at the end of the 90s.
    That 4% has been calculated at 3.5w/m2, nearly the same as the 3.7w for CO2 doubling.
    It only resulted in a o.4degC increase in temp when no feedback would indicate at least 1 deg.
    Interesting how you got almost that exact result, well done :)

  24. Jack Maloney says:(May 7, 2010 at 2:34 pm)
    “GLOBAL WARMING FEARS SEEN IN OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER PATIENTS
    A recent study has found that global warming has impacted the nature of symptoms experienced by obsessive compulsive disorder patients. Climate change related obsessions and/or compulsions were identified in 28% of patients presenting with obsessive compulsive disorder…We found that many obsessive compulsive disorder patients were concerned about reducing their global footprint,” said study author Dr Mairwen Jones.”

    This study shows how the doom and gloom of AGW hysteria can have a negative effect on the average person. Perhaps Algore et al should foot the bill for therapy for these poor souls.

  25. evanmjones at 2:38 pm; said to:
    jeff brown at 1:54 pm
    And I find it curious that the analysis is limited to 60S to 60N. Many of the feedbacks that enhance warming of the planet are found in the polar regions,…. “Well, surface data from outside those regions is mostly less than useless …… ice reflection issues that affect MW readings.”
    And – – does not the sparsity of polar temp. data “at altitude” make the theory of polar feedbacks impossible to prove (or disprove) AND do not ALL of those 17 IPCC climate models (the analysis references) “call for” the feedbacks to be in the trop. between 60S-60N? THAT is where the high “sensitivity” is suppose to be….

  26. Where has the ‘hidden heat’ gone?
    On it’s merry way to join with Pioneer and Voyager.
    AWOF – away without feedback.

  27. “jeff brown says:
    […]
    Many of the feedbacks that enhance warming of the planet are found in the polar regions,[…]”

    Positive feedbacks? Negative feedbacks? Which feedback exactly? “Many”? 5? 20?
    Yeah, there’s the albedo conjecture, but even in summer the rays come in at a low angle so it doesn’t make a difference (total reflection on sea surface). Name your postulated feedbacks.

  28. I agree with Wildred…only 7 years of data to make these sweeping statements? Interesting how some on this post easily buy into Dr. Spencer’s conclusions w/o the same critical examination given to papers that suggest humans are affecting the climate. Seems very biased.

  29. Milwaukee Bob, you are missing the important ice-albedo feedback which is already showing to have an impact on Arctic temperatures, and then there is the permafrost/methane feedback, cloud feedbacks, ocean and atmospheric circulation feedbacks. You can’t ignore the world’s refrigerator.

  30. Dr. Spencer apparently has done it again. I look forward to reading his paper, to get all the details of the methodology. I for one have been calling for these models to be properly calibrated. Perhaps this is one of those calibrations. If this holds up, and I am hopeful it will, it should be another falsification of the AWG hypothesis.

  31. Studies cited above about feedback predictions are not empirical, they are extrapolations from prior guesstimates of temperature and CO2 changes but made in a dynamic system that is changing for other reasons (orbital changes taking the Earth into or out of an ice age). If the feedback loops were strongly positive we should actually see runaway warming during interglacials as rising CO2 warms the oceans that belch more CO2 and cause more warming etc. In fact the process stops on its own.
    Most feedback effects are not at the polar regions, as there is just not that much sunlight hitting those areas in the first place, the vast majority of the Earth’s surface and incident radiation strikes between 60 deg S and N. The poles are dark half the year anyway.
    If Spencer is correct, then it follows that the modest rise in CO2 concentrations in the 20th century would have only caused .2 deg or so of warming, making the bulk of the 20th cent warming naturally induced (albeit unexplained mechanistically). Spencer’s satellite data shows about .3 deg rise in GAT since 1980, and I guess most of that is CO2 induced. But at that rate we only rise 1 deg for rest of the century, and that is probably an overestimate.
    No matter what the CO2 feedback, there is a law of diminishing returns that operates, the warming for each subsequent 100 ppm rise in CO2 has to be less than the previous, if it was accelerating, then we should have seen runaway interglacials, but we clearly don’t, and a generally unstable climate history for the Earth with wild swings in short periods, we don’t see that. The ice age cycles are clearly dominated by orbital changes and not CO2 for example.
    One of the biggest problems with AGW is that it can’t explain why the last interglacial was so much warmer than the present. 100kya the Earth was several degrees warmer, sea levels much higher, and hippos swam in the Thames. Another interglacial 850kya melted off the entire Greenland ice cap. If our GCM were really reliable they should be able to generate those results.

  32. Models?
    Everytime we hear about models. Models can tell you anything. Models are your best friend.

    Please stop this model nonsense we want data, measured.

  33. DirkH says:
    May 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Dirk at the summer solstice the north pole receives more incoming solar energy than anyplace else on earth.

  34. Interesting stuff, especially the comparison with IPCC models. I assume the numbers from the models are also based on 60S to 60N?

  35. Jeef Brown & Wildred:
    Seven years of monthly data represents approximately 84 observations depending on start and end months… how many do you propose are required for the results to be significant?

  36. a few answers:

    Ice near the poles won’t melt if most of the global atmosphere at lower latitudes does not warm. Atmospheric feedbacks kick in faster than ice-albedo feedbacks. And, has been mentioned, the satellite data are not as good at the high latitudes, anyway.

    If I give more of the technical details to support my conclusions, people complain they don’t understand. If I don’t include the details to keep it simple, they complain that I’m not justifying my claims. Look, my articles are not peer-reviewed science, people. I’m just keeping people abreast of progress in research they are paying me to do. :)

    The global cloud cover data are not good enough to do long-term trends with. Until the Terra MODIS data started in 2000, we could not be confident of any long-term cloud changes people think they see in the satellite data. Only a 2% change is needed to cause global warming or cooling. Long-term cloud changes on a regional basis can fool you because an increase in cloudiness in one region is usually compensated for by a decrease in an adjacent region.

    Yes, it’s only 7 years of data. But the fact that none of the climate models show the negative feedbacks the satellites show when those are computed the same way — on the same time scale — from climate model output strongly suggests something might be wrong with those models’ feedbacks….

    …does this all sound like “the science is settled”?

  37. So what I don’t understand from some of the comments is the that an enhanced GHG effect from CO2 has been confirmed by many observational studies. For example, satellite measurements of infrared spectra over the past 40 years show that less energy is escaping to space at the wavelengths associated with CO2.
    Also, observations at the earth’s surface show there is more downward infrared radiation reaching the surface. Of course this can be from other factors than CO2, such as water vapor which is more important as a GHG anyway, though I don’ t know if any studies have looked at the direct affect from water vapor.
    Anyway, I agree with Wildred, 7 years of data to make conclusions for the end of this century? That seems like bad science to me. And it’s extrapolation from 7 years of data w/out any consideration of the physical earth-atmosphere sytem

  38. The current crop of climate models used that 2 to 4 feedback range, then have been curve-fit in other areas to match the historical record. Would changing the feedback to Dr Spencer’s value of 6 require wholesale readjustments, or would the resulting output more closely match the real climate to begin with? Running the models with the 6 feedback value shouldn’t take too much more funding, just a little typing on the keyboard and some computer time.

  39. I hope is paper is more accurate and informative than his blog post.

    REPLY: In your case, I don’t think it would matter. -A

  40. jeff brown says:
    May 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm
    I agree with Wildred…only 7 years of data to make these sweeping statements? Interesting how some on this post easily buy into Dr. Spencer’s conclusions w/o the same critical examination given to papers that suggest humans are affecting the climate. Seems very biased>>

    You are confusing building a model and extrapolating climate from it and measurements to determine if the physics upon which the models are based are accurate. What Dr Spencer is showing is that the measured negative feedbacks are much larger than those assumed by the models, and what the models would arrive at if they were adjusted to reflect actual measured instead of estimated numbers. He did not set out to determine a long term trend, he set out to determine if the energy imbalance predicted by the models is accurate, and measurements from the available data show that it is not.

  41. Dr. Spencer.

    A N/S 60° Latitude, beneath the Feral Cell, looks like a good region for observation with minimal interference from Earth’s rotational forces. Well thought!

    With what would you associate this ‘strong -ive feedback’? Would it be the ‘latent convective component’ and ‘cloud altering albedo’ aspects of the hydrological cycle perchance?

    It certainly looks all -ive ‘forcing’ without any radiative +ive, but why worry about that when the radiative +ive only leaves the atmosphere following a +ive displacement to higher altitude by the hydrological cycle! Isn’t that what the ‘greenhouse effect’ (GHE) is all about?

    Best regards, Ray Dart.

  42. “Since we have already experienced 0.6 deg. C in the last 100 years, it would also mean that most of our current global warmth is natural, not anthropogenic.”
    That’s absurd. Your method is just correlation of observed temperature vs observed radiation. It can’t tell you anything about the cause of warming.

    Your first regression is of global IR vs ocean temperatures. This really biases the case; global IR responds to global temp, which is a lot more variable than ocean temp. And it leaves out the Arctic, which is even more variable.

  43. “Roy writes: Since we have already experienced 0.6 deg. C in the last 100 years, it would also mean that most of our current global warmth is natural, not anthropogenic.” Indeed, this is true and follows from the fact that atmospheric CO2 has increased about 40% since the mid 1800s, so that with a climate sensitivity of 0.5 deg C for doubling, only about 0.2 deg C can be ascribed to CO2.

    N.B. Roy’s results seem quantitiatively similar to Lindzen-Choi (2009), which has driven some to distraction… or worse.

  44. All real tests of climate models, including perfect model tests, have shown them to be predictively useless. Now, we have a strikingly new result from Dr. Spencer giving us the same conclusion yet once again.

    So far, most climate modelers, and the IPCC in particular, have completely ignored the results showing their hot future predictions mean nothing. They go on telling the same story, no matter what, keeping their eyes fixed forward and their ears apparently stoppered. The press generally goes along and politicians are inherently incapable of changing their announced policies.

    The question is, then, will Dr. Spencer’s new results be roundly ignored and get consigned to the same political garbage can as all the rest of the results showing the worthlessness of AGW science, so-called.

  45. Roy Spencer says:
    May 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    “If I give more of the technical details to support my conclusions, people complain they don’t understand. If I don’t include the details to keep it simple, they complain that I’m not justifying my claims. Look, my articles are not peer-reviewed science, people. I’m just keeping people abreast of progress in research they are paying me to do. :)”

    Thanks for keeping it simple, Dr. Spencer! I am a fly fisher with a strong interest in climate science. (No actual knowledge or skills.) Bombard your opponents with the heaviest scientific terms, and give the easy versions to the fly fishers around the world;-)

  46. Isn’t it interesting the “proof” of AGW the IPCC AR4 relied on was based on ten years of OHC data (of which is questionable prior to 2003; the step change) thereby “validating” Hansen’s climate model, yet 7 years of observational data disagreeing with climate models is not long enough.

    What will they say in 3 more years, ten more years is needed? Sheesh.

  47. Charlie K (2:07 pm):
    You mention the Warmists’ assumption of unstable equilibrium. Well said, that man! The vile expression “tipping point” has gone unchallenged for too long. When used in marine engineering the expression makes perfect sense, but in this context it’s misleading.

    I’ve been wondering whether the whole AGW house of cards may come tumbling down if two misconceptions are exposed: (i) positive feedback and (ii) high sensitivity. Lo and benold, the brilliant Roy Spencer homes in on these two very areas. Are we at last seeing through the infernal complexity of this Great Climate Controversy? Can the AGW hypothesis be refuted by demonstrating that the climate is governed by negative feedback, and that the extra W/m2 of extra CO2 is trivial compared to, say, solar-driven albedo changes?

    The end ain’t nigh. It’s outrageous that the good guys have to prove why and how li-li-li-li-life goes on.

  48. Next thing you know, Nick Stokes will be convincing us the oceans really do warm from the bottom up :)

  49. Can we not say that if positive feedback, were that what is going on, the climate long ago would have railed one way or the other, either hotter than, or colder than, either way uninhabitable. We know it’s been far warmer, and far cooler than today to say that the climate had not been able to recover from the condition, is just laughable on it’s face.

    The earth’s climate pre-dates man, and forest fires, volcanoes, and destructive meteors have covered the globe with debris and ash, yet the earth and it’s atmosphere is still here. Positive feedbacks, due to their destructive power, do not exist in nature. Show me one example of such natural phenomena, with proof it exists.

    Just one — No can do? Odd isn’t it.

    I doubt seriously that anyone has discovered that mere trace gases can do any such thing, and for it to be the very first destructive positive feedback. Show the proof, not GIGO computer models.

    Good read — I await your full paper Dr Spencer.

  50. Nice work Roy. The climate sensitivity number is the real focus of the entire AGW debate. The AGW proponents bring us modeling results based upon an incomplete picture of natural variation. You bring us emperical evidence. And they never seem to be able to answer your evidence. That is why the debate is not only not resolved, but instead points rather strongly to no AGW issue of concern at all.

  51. I would first comment that 5.78 watts/m2/K is almost exactly what the Stephan Boltzmann Equation predicts for surface temperatures in a no-feedback scenario (5.42).

    Secondly, Trenberth published another paper in 2009 (besides the recent Missing Energy one) which has this very curious chart in it which is consistent with Dr. Spencer’s numbers.

    It is the usual forcing diagram that the IPCC/Hansen produces but it has an additional box appended to it that you wouldn’t have seen before that includes all the “feedbacks expected” for the first time (water vapour and ice-albedo) (which are supposed to be about 200% of the straight AGW forcing in the long-run).

    But to balance everything, he also introduces a new concept “Negative Radiative Feedback” which is the lack of positive feedback so far / the Missing Energy / Mysterious Negative Feedback / Error in the Theory. A whopping -2.8 watts/m2 of negative feedback / lack of positive feedback.

    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/trenberth.papers/EnergyDiagnostics09final2.pdf

  52. skye:
    “I wonder how Roy’s results compare to these empirical studies:”

    Most of those type of studies that I have looked at seem to derive their results by looking at the correlation between CO2 and temperature. But they operate on the assumption that CO2 is driving climate rather that the alternative and very probable answer that climate is driving CO2. What I always find absurd about these studies is the way in which they ignore the turning points. Those times when CO2 continues to rise sharply while temperature seems to simply decide that it’s time to reverse directions. Or conversely, when CO2 is dropping and temperature then decides to start rising. If climate sensitivity where as high as they claim, this would be impossible, because there would be no natural element of variation that would be capable of overriding the assumed CO2 forcing.

  53. Dr. Spencer, I just finished your book which gave a VERY good grounding for non-scientist like me. Because of your book, I was able to follow the looping/bias lines above that support your argument. Well done.

  54. This article assumes that CO2 has been a cause of warming. Until all climate drivers are fully understood, no such assumption can be made. Increasing CO2 may be an effect of other changes such as increasing ocean temperature. Analysis of climate sensitivity does not lead to a valid conclusion that increasing CO2 will lead to any nett temperature increase.

  55. tarpon says: “The earth’s climate pre-dates man, and forest fires, volcanoes, and destructive meteors have covered the globe with debris and ash, yet the earth and it’s atmosphere is still here. Positive feedbacks, due to their destructive power, do not exist in nature. Show me one example of such natural phenomena, with proof it exists.”

    Actually, those forest fires you mention usually involve positive feedback. Fire creates updraft, updraft draws in additional air which increases the combustion rate. The fires stop generally when they run out of fuel or when the weather changes.

  56. skye says: May 7, 2010 at 2:33 pm
    I wonder how Roy’s results compare to these empirical studies:

    If you read any of those studies and looked at the actual data they used, you will find the math is not done is the usual way math is done – as in 2+ 2 = 4 or 100 / 4 = 25

    You will find the math is done as in 1 = 3 ; and our climate model simulation takes the empirical 1 data and matches it very well if we just change it to 3 ; and, CO2 increased by 100 ppm while temperatures fell by 2C and therefore the sensitivity is 3.0C per doubling; and, the volcano reduced net radiation by -4 watts/m2 while temperatures declined by -0.4C so our global warming estimate of +3.7 watts/m2 will result in a +3.0C increase in temperatures is accurate (the Pinatubo studies actually say this, it’s ridiculous).

  57. Dr. Spencer.

    “If I give more of the technical details to support my conclusions, people complain they don’t understand. If I don’t include the details to keep it simple, they complain that I’m not justifying my claims. Look, my articles are not peer-reviewed science, people. I’m just keeping people abreast of progress in research they are paying me to do. :)”

    Thanx for your candid input Roy. :)

    I’m all for ‘open source’! It’s for the recipient to either include, or discard, any data from an open source feed dependant, mostly, on its quality, or the integrity of the recipient. With a diverse audience, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t!

    For one (me), I’m happy that you chose the ‘open’ road, as this gives me the opportunity of a more multifarious configuration of climate definition. :)

    Best regards, Ray Dart.

  58. @Tom in Florida says: May 7, 2010 at 3:20 pm
    Obsessive compulsive people aren’t “average” people. Typically, they are fairly bright. However, it is very difficult for them to deal with anything random or unexplainable. In their view, there must be order and/or a method to deal with reality. This usually works fairly well. In this particular case, we’ve warmed a bit over the last century or so. They “need” an explanation. Anti-industrialists and Malthusians have provided an explanation, the CAGW hypothesis. They eagerly accept this explanation because it restores order and explanation for the world they live in. And, in turn, revile the people that caused the need to, yet again, follow another issue to explain and understand the world they live in. Some OCD people have already followed other issues related to climate enough to already understand the CAGW hoax is simply that. But only a few of us. The rest of us find beer and stack a pile of quarters in equal proportions that we keep for the pool game we’ll play once a week. But that’s only because I haven’t worked out how to use 1.6180339887 into the stacks. But then, that wouldn’t be good enough.

  59. jeff brown says: “…I agree with Wildred…only 7 years of data to make these sweeping statements? Interesting how some on this post easily buy into Dr. Spencer’s conclusions w/o the same critical examination given to papers that suggest humans are affecting the climate. Seems very biased.”

    There is a difference here, Dr. Spencer is using actual heat flux measurements, something that the Modelistas do not. The bulk of AGW “science” is based on trying to tease tiny warming signals out of chaotic temperature data covering a huge temperature range. The data interval requirements of the latter are much larger than for Dr. Spencers work.

  60. I’ve been having trouble understanding the first figure, mainly what is meant by “change” in flux and T. Noting that the regression line passes through (0,0) it seems that “radiative flux change” means the difference between the flux at times t and the mean flux for the whole data set, while “T air change” means the difference between the temperature at times t and the mean temperature for the whole data set. The red points on the graph are the values of the flux at times t and the values of T at the same time t.

    So the graph is directly showing that the flux is higher than average when T is higher than average, and lower than average when T is lower than average. That is, negative feedback: when T increases, the flux increases which leads to cooling and tends to return T to its average value; when T decreases, the flux decreases which leads to warming and again tends to return T to its average value. This is the opposite of the behaviour we would see if we are in the vicinity of a “tipping point”.

    If I’ve understood that correctly I still can’t see what the blue lines are doing.

  61. Bill Illis,

    From the Trenberth paper you linked to:

    “The excess in heat does several
    things. (i) It warms the planet, increasing temperatures
    that in turn increase the radiation back to space.”

    And later

    “As clouds have both a greenhouse effect and reflect solar
    radiation, they can both heat or cool the Earth radiatively—
    which of these dominates in a given region”
    depends upon the cloud properties (e.g. coverage, height
    and thickness). Generally there is large cancellation, but
    averaged globally, it is the radiative cooling effect of
    clouds that dominates.”

    So that’s negative feedback he’s describing, no?

  62. jeff brown

    “you are missing the important ice-albedo feedback which is already showing to have an impact on Arctic temperatures, and then there is the permafrost/methane feedback, cloud feedbacks, ocean and atmospheric circulation feedbacks”

    The important ice albedo feedback apparently led to a reversal in the arctic ice trend. Since the lowest recent point it has steadily regained area and density.

    Permafrost methane is another of those interesting hypothesis which has also not demonstrated any additional warming IF it has even been shown to be happening.


    Dirk at the summer solstice the north pole receives more incoming solar energy than anyplace else on earth.”

    And handily reflects a large portion of it.

    Where do you get this garbage. RC or Tamino’s rusty iron mind??

  63. jeff brown says: “Milwaukee Bob, you are missing the important ice-albedo feedback which is already showing to have an impact on Arctic temperatures, and then there is the permafrost/methane feedback, cloud feedbacks, ocean and atmospheric circulation feedbacks. You can’t ignore the world’s refrigerator.”

    The ice-albedo feedback is a Modelista fiction. Seawater albedos at high azimuth angles overlap those for ice. The permafrost/methane feedback is based on models, mere mathematical monkeybusiness. The Arctic ice extent this winter continued to grow for a full month longer than the average growth curve. Cloud feedbacks? You are make joke, Mr. Brown. The models have an inadequate grasp of cloud dynamics. I laugh ha-ha at your funny joke.

  64. nedhead says:
    May 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm
    “So what I don’t understand from some of the comments is the that an enhanced GHG effect from CO2 has been confirmed by many observational studies. For example, satellite measurements of infrared spectra over the past 40 years show that less energy is escaping to space at the wavelengths associated with CO2.”

    Can you give a reference for this? (Please, not IPCC AR4).

  65. jorgekafkazar says:

    “There is a difference here, Dr. Spencer is using actual heat flux measurements, something that the Modelistas do not. The bulk of AGW “science” is based on trying to tease tiny warming signals out of chaotic temperature data covering a huge temperature range. The data interval requirements of the latter are much larger than for Dr. Spencers work.”

    Correct! Since Dr. Spencer is directly observing cause and effect, the length of the data set (7 years) is not important if the frequency of outcomes is consistent. Contrast this, for example, with someone attempting to indirectly provide evidence of AGW by pointing at the +0.7 K rise in the historical temperature record of ~ 150 years. In this case, even such a fairly long record is inconclusive since temperature changes of this magnitude are fairly common throughout the much longer paleo record. (That’s why it was important for the IPCC to deep-six the MWP and LIA in their various reconstructions). Putting it another way, if you have a well-constructed experiment (e.g., a fair coin), you don’t need a lot of trials before you converge to the correct answer.

  66. kuhnkat says:
    jorgekafkazar says:
    “ice-albedo”……….how is it that “skeptics” are more up to date than the alarmists? It’s funny how they continually bring up the arctic yet the ice has significantly grown the past 3 years? Soon, they will tell us that climate change causes ice growth and we’re all going to die because of hot climate and ice growth!

  67. Thank you Dr. Spencer.

    This is another solid data point adding to your previous work that further supports the notion of low climate sensitivity. This is the keystone of the argument of natural versus anthropogenic effects.

    The most shocking result I’ve seen with regard to sensitivity is Lindzen’s presentation of many climate models, showing the slope of ALL models to be virtually identical, with high climate sensitivity. This implies virtual certainty with regard to sensitivity (or at least a very narrow band of uncertainty). Yet the measured results were in the opposite direction. I’ve followed your previous analyses (and we have emailed each other about them a couple of years ago), and I understand your “squiggles”, for lack of a better term. They clearly show a strong negative feedback, which you have presumably again demonstrated (no details shown)

    The response time, or “time constant” of the atmosphere with regard to feedback is for all practical purposes instantaneous. The atmosphere compared to oceans has virtually no heat capacity. Trying to measure feedbacks over weeks, months, or years is mixing fast-response effects with slow response effects. I think I may have written you about this, but the best way to measure climate response is to take the smallest resolution satellite IR information, and measure how it changes on an hourly basis in comparison to albedo (a proxy for clouds and thunderstorms). If the response is fast, which we already know it is, then small effects such as CO2 , even at their theoretical limits, are meaningless. The other area of study that is important is convection. Since your and many others’ studies show the effectiveness of thunderstorms in heat dissipation, especially in the tropics, we need to quantify the radiative effects of still (wet) air in the morning, before thunderstorms develop, compared to radiative effects of full-blown thunderstorms in the afternoon where heat is carried aloft to the level where the effects of any barriers to heat escape to space are minimal. This seems like a perfectly regulating system, simply by the parameters of the logarithmic density of air with altitude. Period.

    What I’m saying, Dr. Spencer, is that resolution of observation is key to determining actual feedback. Measuring OLW radiation and ISW on the trailing edge of a thunderstorm, compared to the leading edge, will give you the short term response rate. Any resolution larger than that required to describe a convective storm will tend to underestimate feedback. Feedback is a very sharp function. Our inability to describe it is a function of lack of resolution.

    William M. Gray and Barry Schwartz came out with a very interesting study that complements your conclusions. There are many others I know you are aware of that hover around the 0.5°C per doubling of CO2. The Association of Outgoing Radiation with Variations of Precipitation – Implications for Global Warming by William M. Gray and Barry Schwartz

    http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=5668

    Anyway, Dr. Spencer, could you respond to the relationship between measurement resolution and implied sensitivity?

    Thank you,

    Mike S.

  68. I would be very interested in how these data compare to Zágoni’s expansion of the energy balance equations to allow for finite atmospheric thickness. Zágoni examined the simplifying assumptions in current models’ boundary conditions, formulated some 80 years ago, and took them beyond the infinite atmosphere assumption. His solution clearly demonstrates the negitive feedback missing in the simplified equations, and reportedly fit both terestrial and Martian data extremely well.

  69. I wonder if anyone cares to comment on when a boundary condition will be reached? Week after week we have additional evidence that the ‘CO2 will end civilization as we know it’ campaign is doomed. The crumbling house of cards swirling in the toilet analogy has been used by me and others.

    What makes the skeptic position move into the mainstream media and ends the world wide diversion of human energy and money into the AGW sinkhole? More research or Republican control of a House or Senate committee or Australian politics?

    What does it take to make the tide start going the other way. As of now most of the people controlling money and politics treat skeptics like lepers. They don’t want to converse with us or be seen in our company.

  70. RE: Jack Maloney: (May 7, 2010 at 2:34 pm) “A recent study has found that global warming has impacted the nature of symptoms experienced by obsessive compulsive disorder patients. Climate change related obsessions and/or compulsions were identified in 28% of patients presenting with obsessive compulsive disorder…”

    Perhaps this is an example of what Charles Krauthammer might call ADS, or ‘AGW Derangement Syndrome.’

  71. “Arguably the single most important scientific issue – and unresolved question – in the global warming debate is climate sensitivity. Will increasing carbon dioxide cause warming that is so small that it can be safely ignored (low climate sensitivity)? Or will it cause a global warming Armageddon (high climate sensitivity)?

    Ermm.. We’ve forgotten a few things that have been well understood and established for decades..

    Notably, that the Carboniferous Period had some 20x the CO2 we have today, not forgetting the Jurassic, with 10x the CO2 when delicate aragonite corals evolved.

    Now, how could even doubling current CO2 cause a catastrophic runaway greenhouse or fabled tipping point when that’s never happened in the past even with comparatively gargantuan CO2 levels back then?

    Not forgetting that CO2 change lags temperature change by some 800 years, and that nature outputs some 20x the CO2 we ever could (and it’ll continue to do so without us) and the more CO2 that’s available for nature to use, it does as proven in the past.

    How is it we have fossils of corals and shellfish from the Jurassic when the oceans “should”, as climate catastrophists claim, be so acidic there’d be no chance of life?

    Current PH of our oceans ranges from 7.9 to 8.3, which is alkaline. Notably, the oceans continually brush against alkaline rocks, so any chance of dangerous acidity has long been proven, thanks to the Jurassic, null and void.

    Thanks to the very high CO2 levels of the Carboniferous and Jurassic, without ever a runaway greenhouse, has proven climate sensitivity a pointless ponderance as the question has already been answered, but alas, both ignored and forgotten in the race for the fad to become green..

  72. Jeff Brown said:

    “Many of the feedbacks that enhance warming of the planet are found in the polar regions…”

    ———-

    Exactly! Thank you! From more open water in the arctic to the release of methane from melting bogs and changes in ocean circulation as a result of a warmer arctic, there are lots of potential positive feedback loops in the equation that have not been adeaquately factored in. From a geological perspective, there has been a “explosion” or burst of extra CO2 into the system over a the geologically short time of human industrialization, and the polar regions are the most sensitive to the effects of this burst.

  73. James Sexton says:
    May 7, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    It’s funny how they continually bring up the arctic yet the ice has significantly grown the past 3 years?

    ———

    Uh, James, have you checked your ice charts lately? Arctic sea ice is currently below 2008 and 2009 levels for this date. I would have to say, just as a casual observer, this does not equal “significant growth”. And when looking at the more important metric, volume, well…nope, no growth there either:

    I guess we who believe that AGWT just might be correct need to find some different charts to check so we can find this “significant growth”.

  74. jorgekafkazar says:
    May 7, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    The fires stop generally when they run out of fuel or when the weather
    changes.

    I think these are what’s called negative feedbacks.

  75. wildred says:
    May 7, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Wait, so this paper is making these conclusions from 7 years of data? That doesn’t seem like enough data to make that or any type of conclusion. Notice the 2 figures shown in this post start in 2002.

    jeff brown says:
    May 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    I agree with Wildred…only 7 years of data to make these sweeping statements? Interesting how some on this post easily buy into Dr. Spencer’s conclusions w/o the same critical examination given to papers that suggest humans are affecting the climate. Seems very biased.

    An interesting question, jeff and wildred. What Dr. Spencer shows above is 87 months of data. Whether this is enough data or not depends on the statistics of the relationship between the variables. Not having the data, I digitized it from his graph. In this case the relationships I find are:

    Item, Value
    Slope, 5.8
    Error of Slope, 0.6
    r^2, 0.54
    Deg. Of Freedom, 86
    F Statistic, 101.5
    T Statistic, 10.1
    Slope Signif., two tailed T-test, p = 3E-16
    r^2 Signif., F-Test, p = 2E-23

    In other words, both the slope of the relationship and the r^2 value are extremely significant, as the p-value is vanishingly small. So the answer in this case is yes, 87 months of data is more than enough to determine the relationship reliably.

    As to why people don’t give it “the same critical examination given to papers that suggest humans are affecting the climate”, there’s a couple of issues here.

    First, curiously, people trust that Dr. Spencer has tested the significance of his results … and in this case at least, people are right. You’ll forgive me if I don’t extend the same assumption to most AGW supporting scientists …

    Second, I also assume that if his data is not significant, some AGW supporter will point that out in fairly short order. You analyze the papers you find doubtful, I analyze the papers I find doubtful, there’s not enough time for me to analyze every paper I read. In this case, I’ve done the work for you guys … in future, rather than simply tossing out uninformed speculations that Dr. Spencer has not done his homework, I invite you to do the analysis. It took me a total of about 45 minutes including digitizing the data …

  76. davidc says:
    May 7, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    I’ve been having trouble understanding the first figure, mainly what is meant by “change” in flux and T. Noting that the regression line passes through (0,0) it seems that “radiative flux change” means the difference between the flux at times t and the mean flux for the whole data set, while “T air change” means the difference between the temperature at times t and the mean temperature for the whole data set. The red points on the graph are the values of the flux at times t and the values of T at the same time t.

    So the graph is directly showing that the flux is higher than average when T is higher than average, and lower than average when T is lower than average. That is, negative feedback: when T increases, the flux increases which leads to cooling and tends to return T to its average value; when T decreases, the flux decreases which leads to warming and again tends to return T to its average value. This is the opposite of the behaviour we would see if we are in the vicinity of a “tipping point”.

    If I’ve understood that correctly I still can’t see what the blue lines are doing.

    Change in flux F and in temperature T is [F(n) – F(n-1)] and [T(n) – T(n-1)] where n is time. The blue lines connect the dataset in temporal order. The slope of those lines is the slope of the relationship from one instant of time to the next.

    Dr. Spencer introduced the concept a while back that looking at the average slope of those lines is a more meaningful measure of the actual relationship between the variables than is the overall trend line. I think his idea has merit. In this case the two are quite similar (6 vs. 5.8).

  77. There are two questions I have about this work. Firstly, is the measurement accurate when applied to the long term range of climate states? We know that the past 10 years have shown short-term conditions which seem to differ from the previous 20-30 years. I am unsure if a significant volcanic event would be expected to produce results in this data set with the same range (at a different absolute temperature) or not.
    Second, since the measurement is in effect an instantaneous observation rather than an integration of discrete weather events, it seems reasonable to construct a climate model which reflects this behavior. Can other model parameters give closure in the short term, and long term stability, or is there an imbalance in the model which can’t be justified using what we understand today to be plausable forcings? How about if we run the new model backwards to re-construct temperature for the past 150 years…

  78. @Roy Spencer says:
    May 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    “If I give more of the technical details to support my conclusions, people complain they don’t understand. If I don’t include the details to keep it simple, they complain that I’m not justifying my claims.”

    Thank You Mr. Spencer! – your simple summery for Tax Payer (..and Fly Fisher) is highly Appreciated!

  79. @Brent Hargreaves says:
    May 7, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    “Can the AGW hypothesis be refuted by demonstrating that the climate is governed by negative feedback”

    Don’t think so, consensus is that the AGW hypothesis is governed by positive funding feedback

  80. What Spencer has done here is to essentially take the first derivative of the data at a number of discrete points. I like that approach.

  81. jeff brown says:
    May 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    I agree with Wildred…only 7 years of data to make these sweeping statements? Interesting how some on this post easily buy into Dr. Spencer’s conclusions w/o the same critical examination given to papers that suggest humans are affecting the climate. Seems very biased.

    Willis has given one way to respond to this. Here’s another.

    The amount or volume of data used to form a hypothesis is irrelevant to its scientific credibility, per se. All that matters is that it be a testable hypothesis. Roy’s certainly meets that criteria. The amount of data, or here, the length, may influence the “robustness” (there has got to be a valid use of the word somewhere) of the hypothesis, but it is determinative per se of whether it is a useful hypothesis. Maybe the sensitivity that Roy has determined is sensitive to climatic conditions, and with other climatic conditions the sensitivity changes. Time will test the “robustness” of the hypothesis.

    How much data did Einstein have to base the Special Theory of Relativity on? While he was seeking to explain a variety of prior experimental results, his hypothesis had consequences that had not yet been observed. Observation isn’t even a necessary condition to formulating a scientific hypothesis! It seems to me that Roy is doing excellent science here, by deductively framing alternative theories, i.e. considering what might be the consequences of reversing traditional thinking about cause and effect. That is all it takes to formulate an hypothesis. If we only have seven years of suitable observed data to test his hypothesis, that is infinitely more data than what Einstein had at the time to test the consequences of his hypothesis.

    So the amount of data that Roy has used from the past in formulating his hypothesis is entirely irrelevant to its testability. Whether it will hold up in the future is what will determine its scientific value.

  82. I left out a crucial “not:” but it is not determinative per se of whether it is a useful hypothesis.

  83. I applaud Dr. Spencer’s work. I read his first book and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    That said, and in my humble opinion, what is really missing from climate science can be said in two words “CLASSICAL EXPERIMENTATION”. I miss the days when someone would put forth a hypothesis, then carefully design a set of real world experiments to narrow down the variables and show meaningful indisputable results. That has all gone out the window in favor of modeling and probabilistic number crunching, with limited and often faulty sets of real world data or worse (proxies), then extrapolating conclusions from these probability limited and therefore open-ended mathematical constructs. I’m from the “show me” generation, and to me that has always meant simple, real world experimental results……

    Best,

    Jose

  84. Dr Spencer, I just ran a search through Google news for mentions of your name in relation to your groundbreaking work presented in recent published papers and in your new book, and remarkably,I can find no mention of the work in the mainstream press.

    Climate modeler Prof Andy Pitman has stated elsewhere: “There is a Nobel Prize awaiting Carter [MH. that’s Prof Bob Carter], or other skeptics, for that paper that buries global warming. There is world-wide acclaim, there is that Chair at Cambridge and the thanks of governments the world over. My question is why none of them have published this evidence – but of course the question is rhetorical … because while every decent climate scientist looks for flaws in the data, the models and the theory we have not been able to find any …” (see http://littleskepticpress.blogspot.com/2009/03/geologists-were-right-conversations.html for the full “conversation”)

    I guess it will be news once they hand you the Nobel. Care to comment on the absence of media interest?

  85. The issue of reduced radiation in the CO2 bands has been brought up yet again. In my opinion this is yet more proof of NEGATIVE feedback.

    If the feedback was positive one should see no change or an increase. That is, the Earth would warm and, although some radiation is intercepted, the increase in heat would increase the radiation from the Earth. The net should be equal or increased radiation overall.

    The overall reduction implies that CO2 is absorbing more photons but that is not leading to any warming, hence there must be some negative feedbacks in place.

  86. @ R. Gates says:
    Uhmm, ok, if you want to put a sine wave on a linear graph, go here. http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/n_plot_hires.png . I suppose we can argue the veracity of our sources, but either one, contradicts the positive feedback, polar region sensitivity blathering. Even the graph you offered shows a significant period of time, (1997-2003) the ice was above the linear average. How does one account for that if the arctic is so sensitive? We didn’t stop emitting CO2 or methane during that time period. Did the arctic is call a time out? Go here for a better representation http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_stddev_timeseries.png . I don’t understand why otherwise intelligent people refuse to believe there could be something else driving our climate other than GHG. Why defend a premise that has been shown wrong on almost every level? Could you imagine how much we can achieve once the warmistas go away? Sadly, the anti-industrialists and Malthusians will find another cause, but many warmists could and would live otherwise productive and meaningful lives and cease to waste the time of sensible people with their alarmist musings.

  87. A very interesting contribution. I look forward to seeing the full paper when it comes out.

    One comment: As Klotzbach et al (2009) showed, there remains substantial discrepancy between the satellite measured lower troposphere temperature trend and the surface temperature trend, especially at high northern latitudes over land, and especially in winter. It is pretty well known that there has be a substantial divergence between ocean and land (surface instrument) temperature trends in the last 30+ years, with average land temperatures, especially in the far north, rising much faster than average ocean surface temperatures, which seems consistent with Klotzback et al.

    So one needs to be a little cautious I think. Roy’s results sure look solid enough for the lower tropospheric temperatures, but the Klotzback et al results suggest that measured surface temperature may turn out to be somewhat more sensitive to CO2 than the lower troposphere. I don’t know how much more sensitive, but perhaps applying an “adjustment” to Roy’s calculated sensitivity, based on the surface/troposphere discrepancy Klotzback et al described, would yield a better estimate of the net sensitivity of surface temperatures to increased CO2.

  88. Didn’t have time to read every post, only about half and am perplexed at the hard headedness in most. What about, “opening up the debate”, “keeping people abreast of the latest information”, and, “keeping it understandable” for laypeople don’t many of you get? For crying out loud! He posts an abbreviated update from a technical paper he’s working on and, again many of you jump right into the “settled science” camp. what gives? Don’t bother posting if you can’t keep a “stable” open mind or maintain an “equalibrium”.
    Good science starts with good observation, that is what this blog is about, that is what this new information is about, that is all. The data is delivered on the same time scales, from the same coordinate as the IPCC claims so it is a justified comparison. One that contributes to opening the debate to the validity of the many claims made by the AGW proponents and the models they depend on. Get it? 8>)

  89. DR says:
    May 7, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Next thing you know, Nick Stokes will be convincing us the oceans really do warm from the bottom up :)

    ______________________________________________________________

    Perhaps Nick has found the missing heat, aka, the the earth’s induction heater ;).

  90. I like that the hypothesis is formed from just seven years. A model made by finding relationships in the entire historical record can’t be tested by seeing whether it can recreate the same past climate trends used to create it. One based on seven years, while facially less robust, has the benefit of being testable with past data. If the trend he identifies from the seven years fits the past 100, we’d have a pretty good idea that he’s right.

  91. Steve Fitzpatrick says: It is pretty well known that there has be a substantial divergence between ocean and land (surface instrument) temperature trends in the last 30+ years, with average land temperatures, especially in the far north, rising much faster than average ocean surface temperatures, which seems consistent with Klotzback et al.

    Far north temperatures are very volatile, they were in the same range as now in the thirties and fourties. In addition, temperatures in winter are extremely sensitive to siting issues, and unfortunately too many of the stations still in use are now located at airports.

  92. How do we get ice ages if the climate sensitivity is as low as Dr. Spencer proposes?

    The Milankovitch cycles don’t significantly change the amount of energy reaching the earth- they just change the seasonal distribution.

    Nobody has come up with a way to go into- or come out of- an ice age without significant positive feedbacks, and a much higher climate sensitivity than Dr. Spencer estimates.

  93. Ref – AGW-Skeptic99 says:
    May 7, 2010 at 11:01 pm
    “I wonder if anyone cares to comment on when a boundary condition will be reached? Week after week we have additional evidence that the ‘CO2 will end civilization as we know it’ campaign is doomed….What does it take to make the tide start going the other way. As of now most of the people controlling money and politics treat skeptics like lepers. They don’t want to converse with us or be seen in our company.”
    _________________________

    Inertia is difficult to overcome.
    The AGW reaction has been completed. The appearence of continued reaction is actually smoke.
    The smoke and residue will remain in place until removed by another reaction.
    Mental, and political, ‘reactions’ are very slow and take a great deal of time in the absence of a catalyst.
    Words are not catalysts.
    Money is a catalyst in human reactions.
    For people to change they have to get off their butt and do something.

  94. “Correct! Since Dr. Spencer is directly observing cause and effect”

    Afraid not. It takes much longer than a month to see the full effect of a forcing, so again this only shows it takes a lot of energy to heat water.

  95. jeff brown says:
    May 7, 2010 at 3:54 pm
    DirkH says:
    May 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Dirk at the summer solstice the north pole receives more incoming solar energy than anyplace else on earth.

    Is that so. Then why does stay below freezing all through the summer?

  96. Just for reference, I have been experimenting with the MODTRAN line-by-line atmospheric transmission calculator tool recommended by Willis Eschenbach. I am using the tool as-is with no documentation. For a nominal radiated output power, Iout, of 292.993 W/m2 at 70 km up in clear tropical air (no cloud feedback effects,) I note that this tool indicates about 30 percent of the radiated energy from the ground would be blocked by other gases even if there were no CO2 were in the atmosphere.

    At a nominal pre-industrial era CO2 level of 280 ppm, MODTRAN indicates the blocked radiation rises to about 37 percent. That means only 63 percent of the total power radiated from the ground would make it out (up to 70 km.) According to this on-line tool, all we seem to have done since that time is add enough CO2 to reduce transmission from the surface by about 0.4 percent and perhaps increase the ground temperature another half a degree K.

    MODTRAN does seem to indicate rapidly increasing logarithmic sensitivity as the CO2 concentration rises above about 7200 ppm — almost 20 times our current concentration. Perhaps this is a radiation window pinch-off effect or an artifact of noise in the spectrum data at such high CO2 concentration settings.

  97. Dr Spencer you always succeed in ‘warming’ the level of the discussion and increasing grey matter reactions. Outstanding! Now, perhaps, more will think before they speak –on both sides of the aisle.

  98. Arctic ice has not grown substantially in the last 3 years. And it has not recovered. Unfortunately many on this blog post don’t understand the basics of Arctic science and that is unfortunate. Winter ice extent shows little changes in 33 years (trends around -2 to -3%/decade). And it’s not expected to, not in terms of the physics that govern the extent of the winter ice cover, nor in model simulations of future temperatures. Any suggestion that ice has recovered shows a lot of ignorance. (btw—winter ice extent thisyear was less than the previous 2 winters, which you wouldn’t know from all the references to this years ice being back to normal).

    The ice is even thinner this winter than last winter, and low and behold, the ice extent is taking a nose dive. Who would have thought? Wonder how that fits with many arguments on this site that suggest more ice this year than last, a shift towards colder temperatures for decades to come, etc. This site seems no better than RC. You don’t critique folks like Roy Spencer, but all other climate scientists. And you don’t seem to understand that most climate scientists are not alarmists, because they understand what the real uncertainties are in the climate system and what the limitations are on model predictions.

    I do find it interesting thought that for a LONG time now, these models have been forecasting changes to come, and now all of a sudden the observations are matching the models predictions. So the models haven’t been entirely useless.

    BTW—7 years of observational data is not enough to draw the conclusions stated in Roy’s post. Just like 7 years of sea ice extent data does not tell you how the system will continue to respond in the future. And comparisons of 7 years of observational data with climate models is not accurate either. Each climate model would be in their own phase of natural climate variability and can be showing decreases or increases during 7 years. There are not currently enough climate model simulations to tease out natural vs forced changes in temperature or the real climate sensitivity.

  99. Willis Eschenbach says:
    May 8, 2010 at 3:00 am

    So I assume from your statistical analysis that 7 years of sea ice extent data versus annual air temperature for example (which shows a strong correlation greater than 0.7) would also be a valid method for predicting the future response of sea ice to air temperatures? Or sea ice versus CO2 which Johanneson tried to publish on a few years ago to say that CO2 causes the sea ice loss, and that in the future there will be no sea ice as CO2 increases? I rejected the paper because it was based on simple correlation rather than including the physics of the system.

    I’m sorry but I believe junk science is that which is based on statistical analysis w/out inclusion of the physical processes, and trying to make statements on a few years of data and extrapolating to the future.

  100. BTW…Dr. Spencer has been wrong before. Remember the UAH data? Frank Wentz at RSS showed Dr. Spencer’s method to compute the temperature trends was in error and that he was off by a factor of 2 in his trend (i.e. 0.09C/decade versus 0.19C/decade). I believe UAH did correct their data based on analysis by Wentz.

    [REPLY – Sure he has been wrong before. And the error was discovered BECAUSE THE DATA WAS MADE AVAILABLE. That is the primary difference between skeptics and the others.Skeptics have many varying theories. They can’t all be right! But how can anyone place even a modicum of trust in any scientist who refuses to divulge data and methods? ~ Evan]

  101. barefootgirl;
    BTW—7 years of observational data is not enough to draw the conclusions stated in Roy’s post. Just like 7 years of sea ice extent data does not tell you how the system will continue to respond in the future>>

    Once again we have confusion between modeling and data. Dr Spencer was not drawing conclusions regarding trends, nor did he propose any, nor was he proposing a model. What he said was in point form:

    1. The models are based on CO2 causing an energy imbalance of X.

    2. The measured imbalance is 0.2X

    If the models were to be corrected in accordance with the actual measured imbalance, they would have different results. The climate might be cyclical, but the laws of physics aren’t. Your complaint about only 7 years of data is like measuring the force of gravity and then saying we should measure it again next year to see if it changed. Unless you can propose some physical change that would affect the results, the force of gravity will be the same next year. So will the imbalance.

  102. barefootgirl says:
    May 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm (Edit)
    Willis Eschenbach says:
    May 8, 2010 at 3:00 am

    So I assume from your statistical analysis that 7 years of sea ice extent data versus annual air temperature for example (which shows a strong correlation greater than 0.7) would also be a valid method for predicting the future response of sea ice to air temperatures? Or sea ice versus CO2 which Johanneson tried to publish on a few years ago to say that CO2 causes the sea ice loss, and that in the future there will be no sea ice as CO2 increases? I rejected the paper because it was based on simple correlation rather than including the physics of the system.

    If you “assume” that the results of one analysis can automatically be extended to another analysis of a another dataset of the same length,then you don’t have even a basic understanding of statistical analysis. Whether or not a correlation is significant depends on the characteristics of the individual datasets used. For some datasets, seven years is more than enough data. For others, twenty years is nowhere near enough.

    The strength of the correlation is not what is at issue. It is the statistical significance of the correlation. For example, the two series {2, 4, 8} and {3, 6, 12} have a correlation of 1.0 … but it is not statistically significant.

    I’m sorry but I believe junk science is that which is based on statistical analysis w/out inclusion of the physical processes, and trying to make statements on a few years of data and extrapolating to the future.

    I guess I missed the part where Dr. Spencer extrapolated to the future, would you be so kind as to point it out?

    And as to whether there is a physical process involved, Dr. Spencer and I have both suggested possible physical mechanisms which would lead to negative cloud feedback. In addition, negative cloud feedback is supported by e.g. the ERBE measurements. On the other hand, all of the models show positive cloud feedback … perhaps you could explain to us what might be the physical process leading to positive cloud feedback …

  103. barefootgirl says:
    May 8, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    BTW…Dr. Spencer has been wrong before. Remember the UAH data? Frank Wentz at RSS showed Dr. Spencer’s method to compute the temperature trends was in error and that he was off by a factor of 2 in his trend (i.e. 0.09C/decade versus 0.19C/decade). I believe UAH did correct their data based on analysis by Wentz.

    OMG, a scientist was wrong, stop the presses!

    Yes, Dr. Spencer was wrong. And like any good scientist (and unlike say Michael Mann or a host of other AGW supporting “scientists”) he acknowledged the error and corrected his work. Since he and Dr. Christy were the first ones to use the MSU data to extract temperatures, and the process of doing so is quite complex, it would have been shocking if errors in their work had not been found … so?

    The mark of a good scientist is not that he/she is never wrong. It is that when the error is pointed out, the scientist admits it and corrects the work in question. You seem to think that makes their work less solid, but that’s just how science progresses. The UAH MSU analysis has been very carefully examined, and all known errors have been removed … which makes their work more solid, not less solid.

  104. Given that the annual cycle in forcing due to the elliptical orbit is 14 W/m2, and that the response to this would be more than 3 degrees, but is reduced by the earth’s thermal inertia, of course you would see a negative feedback. It is just due to the fact that the temperature amplitude is not the forced amplitude (and is also lagged). If you want to see a much bigger negative feedback, try the same calculation for the diurnal cycle.
    In summary, Dr. Spencer has rediscovered the annual cycle and thermal inertia, which would be obvious if he displayed his data as a time series of the two variables.

  105. jeff brown says: (May 7, 2010 at 3:54 pm
    “Dirk at the summer solstice the north pole receives more incoming solar energy than anyplace else on earth.”

    Please explain this. At the summer solstice the Sun is directly overhead at 23.5 degrees N, the Tropic of Cancer. It is daylight there for approx 14 hours. Although the north pole receives 24 hours of daylight, wouldn’t the Sun be too low on the horizon for most of that time to allow the total solar energy to be higher than at the Tropic of Cancer?

  106. Espen
    May 8, 2010 at 9:17 am
    “Far north temperatures are very volatile, they were in the same range as now in the thirties and forties. In addition, temperatures in winter are extremely sensitive to siting issues, and unfortunately too many of the stations still in use are now located at airports.”

    Well, could be that natural variation and siting problems explain everything, but Klotzbach et al suggested the surface/satellite discrepancy is mostly related to changes in the non-turbulent air layer near the surface, not siting problems. Lots of published work suggest that warming from 1975 on has been greater at high northern latitudes, and this is seen pretty clearly in the satellite data ( http://www.remss.com/data/msu/graphics/plots/MSU_AMSU_Channel_TLT_Trend_Map_v03_2.png ). The satellite data doesn’t show quite as much warming as the land surface measurements, but clearly shows significant warming. Siting biases in ground data can’t influence satellite data. So it could be all this warming is completely natural, but if so, a mechanism remains to be identified.

  107. R Gates

    Since you are aware of the change in minimum extent over the last three years, you’re being intellectually dishonest in pointing the ice extent at this present date. There is very little year to year variability in ice extent for this time of year.

  108. DavidMHofer,

    from the link,

    “As a side note, one thing that is not generally recognized is that the poles during summer get the highest daily average insolation of anywhere on earth. This is because, although they don’t get a lot of insolation even during the summer, they are getting it for 24 hours a day. This makes their daily average insolation much higher than other areas. But I digress …)”

    So, explain why this does not translate into no ice every summer??

    How about cold ocean and high albedo even with melted ice due to the low angle of the insolation to the surface…

  109. DavidMHofer,

    You may also want to consider cloud cover. During the 2007 extreme there was an abnormal high pressure zone sitting over the north pole that created a record low for clouds also. Insolation truly was high during that exceptional event.

  110. RE: kuhnkat (May 8, 2010 at 7:06 pm) “During the 2007 extreme there was an abnormal high pressure zone sitting over the north pole that created a record low for clouds also. Insolation truly was high during that exceptional event.”

    Very interesting. I have not seen any information about the typical formation of seasonal stationary high or low pressure areas in the Arctic region. It seems to me that the high-pressure cell you described could also have a strong Chinook or ‘ice eating’ region at its central core caused by descending dry air.

  111. 0.5 deg. C of warming by the end of this century? Is that all? Batten down the hatches for another !

  112. evanmjones says:
    May 7, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    One can conclude from this that CO2 may be a thumb on the scale, but it doesn’t appear to be a primary driver.

    How much proof will be needed before undue attention on co2 ends? Money is the thumb on that scale.

  113. Dr Roy Spencer

    You wrote,
    Simple linear regression yields a net feedback factor of 5.8 Watts per sq. meter per degree C. If this was the feedback operating with global warming, then it would amount to only 0.6 deg. C of human-caused warming by late in this century.

    Is it by accident that your 0.6 deg C warming per century is identical to the linear warming of 0.6 deg C per century in this chart:

    And any observed global warming rate above 0.06 deg C per decade is due to the cyclic component of the global mean temperature?

    Girma Orssengo

  114. Dr Roy Spencer

    You wrote,
    Simple linear regression yields a net feedback factor of 5.8 Watts per sq. meter per degree C. If this was the feedback operating with global warming, then it would amount to only 0.6 deg. C of human-caused warming by late in this century.

    How do you get 0.6 deg C per century from 5.8 Watts per Sq. meter per Degree C?

    Is there a formula for it? What is it?

    Girma Orssengo

  115. barefootgirl says:
    May 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    “Or sea ice versus CO2 which Johanneson tried to publish on a few years ago to say that CO2 causes the sea ice loss, and that in the future there will be no sea ice as CO2 increases? I rejected the paper because it was based on simple correlation rather than including the physics of the system.”

    Do you mean this press article from last year: http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.vg.no%2Fnyheter%2Futenriks%2Fklimatrusselen%2Fartikkel.php%3Fartid%3D542650&sl=no&tl=en

    Here, Johannessen suggests that the Arctic will be ice free in winter by 2100, based on extrapolation of a correlation between CO2 and ice extent, where CO2 is assumed to cause 90% of the ice loss.

    The most appalling about this isn’t the assumption that correlation equals causation, nor the linear extrapolation into the distant future of his trivial calculations, but the fact that some of these “climate scientists” don’t even understand the basic physics of the phenomenon they are researching. In this case, Johannessen doesn’t seem to understand that sea water freezes at -2C, and that it would require a temperature rise of about 30C to prevent sea water from freezing in the Arctic winter. Neither do some of these scientists seem to understand or accept that there are other “forcings” than man-made CO2 induced atmospheric temperature rise that influence climate and sea ice extent.

    “Unfortunately many on this blog post don’t understand the basics of Arctic science and that is unfortunate.”

    I think most people here are well educated and scientifically literate people, although only few may have any professional expertise in Arctic or atmospheric sciences. And yes, people here make mistakes and use wrong assumptions, sometimes leading to erroneous conclusions. But the people here aren’t the ones demanding that the entire world population change their lifestyles, reduce their living standards, give up their livelihoods, pay trillions in extraordinary “climate” taxes, and give up their democratic rights for an unelected world governance under UN rule. These are the demands of the alarmists and their supporting “climate scientists.”

    The most appalling is when alarmists and “climate scientists” that make such demands, do not understand the basic physics of their own “science.”

  116. Skye,

    You list out a number of climate sensitivity estimates (ignoring the one by Schwartz which is at the low end of your range) and ask how Dr. Spencer’s results compare to them. Most of these estimates are based on surface temp records by CRU or GISS. If these surface temp records have a warming bias, as Anthony’s SurfaceStations.org project suggests they might, then the estimates of climate sensitivity will be hugely exaggerated. Spencer’s work is based on tropospheric temps as measured by satellites. I hope this helps.

  117. Skye,

    BTW, I should have pointed out that climate sensitivity cannot be estimated from paleo records as there are too many confounding factors and feedbacks, such as clouds and aerosols. In essence, those estimates were performed as though natural variability is unimportant. Climate sensitivity estimates bases on ice cores or tree rings can be dismissed for those reasons. Of the remaining estimates, they use surface temp data which looks to have a consistent warming bias will which exaggerate climate sensitivity by a factor of 3-6.

  118. I am of the opinion that the physics exist to explain why a weather related cold streak can overwhelm a warm streak based entirely on weather systems and that these systems have cyclical/oscillating components. What is interesting is that the cold phases of these cycles can overwhelm a drought and heat stroke causing warm phase within days. The tiny bit of warming that AGW greenhouse gas adds is easily and handily taken care of by cold streaks without working up so much as a sweat and without being detected (as I am of the opinion that linear trends are an artifact of statistical analysis of weather related patterns on an oscillating scale, nothing more).

  119. jorgekafkazar says: “The fires stop generally when they run out of fuel or when the weather changes.” May 7, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Gilbert says: “I think these are what’s called negative feedbacks.” May 8, 2010 at 1:39 am

    No, those are called running out of fuel and changing weather. Running out of fuel is not a feedback, that is, it’s not caused by the fire itself. Running out of fuel is caused by the size of the forest not being infinite. Changing weather? That’s caused by several factors ordinarily not related to the fire.

  120. “As a side note, one thing that is not generally recognized is that the poles during summer get the highest daily average insolation of anywhere on earth. This is because, although they don’t get a lot of insolation even during the summer, they are getting it for 24 hours a day. This makes their daily average insolation much higher than other areas. But I digress …)”

    So, explain why this does not translate into no ice every summer??

    kuhnkat says: How about cold ocean and high albedo even with melted ice due to the low angle of the insolation to the surface…

    Yes, water sometimes has a higher albedo than ice at high zenith angles. Also, the emittance of seawater is almost 0.993, much higher than ice. But, as stated, the theoretical daily average heat rate is highest at the Arctic poles. However, there’s also a problem that most insolation charts I’ve seen don’t account for: the greater atmospheric thickness sunlight passes through at the poles.

    I have yet to locate any tables showing actual measurements of net energy received everywhere on the Earth’s surface. However, at the summer solstice, the Arctic sunlight passes through roughly 2.5 times as much air depth as at the equator. The transmittance of sunlight at the equator is about 75%; this should be much lower at the poles.

    If the theoretical top-of-atmosphere insolation at the North Pole is 550 watts per square metre (per Figure 1 of http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/28/sense-and-sensitivity/), and if the corrected atmosphere transmittance is 75%^2.5 ≈ 46%, then the sunlight received at the Arctic during the annual Solstice Parade would be about 0.46 * 550 w/m² ≈ 252 w/m², which is quite a bit lower than in the tropics. Don’t bother sending Santa and his elves any Coppertone™ this Christmas.

    [This is just an estimate; the actual calculation is more complex because of increased refraction and scattering at the pole, plus spectral considerations. I’m open to honest input, but I’d prefer a link to actual data.]

  121. Although I am repeating myself from a comment earlier in the day, the day’s progress of blogg-comments serves to underscore my irritation and “issue” with so many sites dedicated to exposing the “truth” behind the global warming scare. We are treated to genuine scholarly views that contradict or modify at a significant level the assumptions which underlie the erroneous (in my opinion) conclusions drawn by the warmists. Unlike the IPCC and the Suzuki school of thought that says that once peer-reviewed a position is fact until peer-reviewed (and acknowledged by the initial authors) contrary “facts” are published, the blog review attempts to nail inconsistencies, contradictions and “lies” as they arise. This is commendable as public policies are being determined on the fly, not after sustained and argued debates, and we must respond on the fly. Yet to use the arguments as Dr. Spencer raises is impossible in this environment unless the criticisms and calls for clarity are addressed. The current paper – to use the term in an e-sense – has, as many other such works, cogent and significant points to use as both attack and defense points with those who wish to scare us into bad social actions on the basis of shoddy science and well-constructed fear. But more than 125 comments, back and forth, disputing this and that! So, what can be used, and what cannot? If we are trying to educate the skeptics and provide indefensible arguments to present to the alarmists, we must have our own “consensus”. Which criticisms are valid, and which not? As many trolling the internet and purchasing book after book, I find much simple chemistry and physics and statistical analysis compelling and telling against the AGW hypotheses. Yet the comments – replacing peer-review in this “post-normal” science environment, must be addressed if the original views are to advance. I realize that keeping up these blogs is not a job-for-money. That is where Gore and Suzuki/WWF, etc. have the skeptics at a disadvantage, as they can pour time into rebuttals and positions. But creating a cleaned-up, “consensus” report (or at least a Response to Comments section) is the only way that this work can be gainfully used. Otherwise all the warmist needs to do is to point to Comment #123 and say, “See? Even you guys don’t agree.” I hope you see that my thoughts here are not criticisms of the thinking/work done, but of the end result: muddy water and confusion. This is what the earliest opponents of true democracy feared: a cacophony of opinion with a clarifying process. The internet has given us the freedom of opinion, but not the way to sort out through the mess that comes with it.

  122. jeff brown says:
    May 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm
    I agree with Wildred…only 7 years of data to make these sweeping statements? Interesting how some on this post easily buy into Dr. Spencer’s conclusions w/o the same critical examination given to papers that suggest humans are affecting the climate. Seems very biased>>

    Could be, with the right instrumentation, that seven hours is enough (or seven pico seconds if you like that kind of thing) to provide good supporting evidence for your hypothesis.

  123. AGW-Skeptic99 says:
    May 7, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    “…What makes the skeptic position move into the mainstream media and ends the world wide diversion of human energy and money into the AGW sinkhole? More research or Republican control of a House or Senate committee or Australian politics?

    What does it take to make the tide start going the other way. As of now most of the people controlling money and politics treat skeptics like lepers. They don’t want to converse with us or be seen in our company.”

    We are treated like lepers because those at the top know they are peddling the world’s largest swindle and we are making it difficult for them. They almost had a done deal until someone published the e-mails (climategate) and someone else leaked the Danish text at Copenhagen. Conmen always hate the people who expose their cons. It remains to be seen whether the Bankers who are behind the Con have enough dirt and other leverage on the various Congress critters to make them vote yes on a Cap and trade bill that will probably oust them out of office.

  124. #
    North of 43 and south of 44 says:
    May 8, 2010 at 8:17 am

    DR says:
    May 7, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Next thing you know, Nick Stokes will be convincing us the oceans really do warm from the bottom up :)

    ______________________________________________________________

    Perhaps Nick has found the missing heat, aka, the the earth’s induction heater ;).
    _______________________________________________________________

    Nick DID find the missing heat AND the oceans DO heat from the bottom up….. as long as there is an active volcano at the bottom that is. … Hundreds of thousands of them are dispersed through the ocean basins….” http://www.tos.org/oceanography/issues/issue_archive/issue_pdfs/23_1/23-1_staudigel2.pdf

  125. Ron Cram says:

    You list out a number of climate sensitivity estimates (ignoring the one by Schwartz which is at the low end of your range) and ask how Dr. Spencer’s results compare to them. Most of these estimates are based on surface temp records by CRU or GISS. If these surface temp records have a warming bias, as Anthony’s SurfaceStations.org project suggests they might, then the estimates of climate sensitivity will be hugely exaggerated.

    What? Skye lists 7 estimates, of which 4 have absolutely nothing to do with the instrumental temperature record. Of the 3 that do: One involves the Mt. Pinatubo eruption (surely, you don’t think that any bias is strong enough to corrupt changes that occur on a timescale of a couple of years, besides which the corruption would be in the wrong direction. One involves an analysis looking at the climate response to the 11 year solar cycle…again, I don’t see how any such bias that you speak of (which is far from demonstrated at any rate) would significantly impact the results. And, one involves ocean heat content and I would have to look at it more to understand whether any purported bias would impact it.

    So, in fact, only one of the 7 estimates could even have a conceivable chance of being significantly impacted by any supposed bias in the surface temperature record of CRU or GISS.

    Oh…And, in regards to Schwartz: In his replies to comments on his paper, he updated his estimate of climate sensitivity ( http://www.ecd.bnl.gov/pubs/BNL-80226-2008-JA.pdf ) and it now significantly overlaps the IPCC range and is not very compatible with the sort of numbers Spencer is talking about here. (Schwartz’s best guess is 1.9 C, with an uncertainty of something like +- 1.0 C. And, I believe some of his detractors would argue that his method still is likely to produce numbers biased low.)

  126. Tilo Reber says:

    Most of those type of studies that I have looked at seem to derive their results by looking at the correlation between CO2 and temperature. But they operate on the assumption that CO2 is driving climate rather that the alternative and very probable answer that climate is driving CO2.

    No. The studies of the last glacial maximum make estimates of all the radiative forcings that occurred and use this to derive a climate sensitivity in units of K per (W/m^2). Then using the known value of radiative forcing due to doubling of CO2 (that even Spencer and Lindzen don’t dispute), it converts this to a climate sensitivity for a CO2 doubling. If you were to assume that the radiative forcing due to CO2 were negligible, then you would have the same temperature change caused by a smaller forcing, which would imply a larger climate sensitivity (although the result would not be self-consistent because the estimates of the forcings imply that CO2 contributes about 1/3 of the total temperature change).

    Needless to say, the estimates based on the Mt. Pinatubo eruption or the solar forcing do not use CO2 whatsoever in determining the climate sensitivity. The only one that might consider CO2 as the dominant forcing for the calculation is Gregory 2002 (although for all I know it may not either…I’d have to look at it).

  127. Ron Cram says:
    May 9, 2010 at 5:52 am

    Skye,

    You list out a number of climate sensitivity estimates (ignoring the one by Schwartz which is at the low end of your range) and ask how Dr. Spencer’s results compare to them. Most of these estimates are based on surface temp records by CRU or GISS. If these surface temp records have a warming bias, as Anthony’s SurfaceStations.org project suggests they might, then the estimates of climate sensitivity will be hugely exaggerated. Spencer’s work is based on tropospheric temps as measured by satellites. I hope this helps.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    Here are examples of said bias in the US temperature

  128. Girma says:
    May 9, 2010 at 5:10 am

    How do you get 0.6 deg C per century from 5.8 Watts per Sq. meter per Degree C?

    Is there a formula for it? What is it?

    You get a forcing of 3.7 W/m2 for a a sustained doubling of CO2 concentration in the air which translates into +1.1°C according to the IPCC. This finding is not being disputed by Dr. Spencer.

    With my limited knowledge, I deduce there are positive and negative feedbacks on a timescale of months. A gross negative feedback of 5.8W/m2 for ~1.4x Co2 would result in less warming during the 20th century, less than 0.6°C. Does this make sense? I leave the technical details up to the experts. But one thing I know. If 3.7W per square meter forcing translates into 1.1°C and we have for instance 3.7W per square meter less warming from short-term feedbacks. This would mean at least that the model avereage should show 1.1°C less projected warming for the 21st century in the sensitivity scenarios resulting from this negative short-term feedback.

    I suppose this also results in less ocean heat uptake which accounts for most of an additional negative long-term feedback. Moreover, the effect on Sea ice has been discussed here lengthily.

  129. Reading some of the comments, I have to ask how is Dr Spencers hypothesis testable? And just what exactly is the hypothesis we want to test anyways. It seems to me he is simply accepting the hypothesis that the CO2 increase is or may be responsible for global warming, and concluded it does, just not as much as the IPCC models say it will.

    Basically what he has done is to look at outgoing radiative flux changes from 2002-2009, a period in which temperatures have not been increasing and where there has been an extended solar minimum, and incoming radiation flux is lower than normal. Will the slope remain the same when solar activity increases?. For example, we know cosmic rays increase during low solar activity, and increase in periods of high solar activity, and these cosmic rays may have some effect on cloud formation, which affect feedbacks (positive and negative). It seems to me you would need data that covers at least 1-2 normal solar cycles to be very convincing that this slope is not variable . That said, it does suggest effectively that the IPCC models are missing negative feedbacks.

    “Will increasing carbon dioxide cause warming that is so small that it can be safely ignored (low climate sensitivity)? Or will it cause a global warming Armageddon (high climate sensitivity)?”

    The assumption that increased CO2 is responsible for all the warming we have experienced is not proven as the AGW proponents would like us to believe, and given that IR measurements have only been made for 50 years, and the nature of estimations of past CO2 concentrations using ice cores obtained from the Antarctic (source of the biggest CO2 sink in the world, and samples with great age uncertainty) and comparing them to samples from Mauna Loa (source of one of the biggest CO2 source in the world where 85% of the data is discarded due to wind causing high or low readings) mean the actual CO2 increase over 100 years is actually uncertain. This is not to deny that CO2 levels are increasing, just that they may have been increasing for longer than we are led to believe .

    In the first 20 years of CO2 measurements from MLO demonstrating an increase in CO2, temperatures actually decreased. Despite rising 1-2 ppm per year for the past 10 years, temperatures have not increased. So over the 50 years we have measured CO2 accurately, we have had 30 years of cooling-neutral, 20 years warming, meaning that most of the 0.6 deg C increase in temperature came when mans CO2 emissions were at a much lower level.

    By focusing on only 1 hypothesis for the warming, and we are warmer than 100 years ago, and ignoring all other possibilities, they give the hypothesis a validity it does not deserve. We can not say with any certainty that CO2 has caused the warming noted over the last 100 years. Increasing CO2 today may very well be a result of warming that began in 1850 as we came out of the LIA, for reasons nobody has explained. That warming likely had little to do with mans CO2 emissions. I am glad Dr Spencer acknowledged the fact that this warming was likely due to natural causes.

  130. wildred says:
    May 7, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Wait, so this paper is making these conclusions from 7 years of data? That doesn’t seem like enough data to make that or any type of conclusion. Notice the 2 figures shown in this post start in 2002.

    jeff brown says:
    May 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    I agree with Wildred…only 7 years of data to make these sweeping statements? Interesting how some on this post easily buy into Dr. Spencer’s conclusions w/o the same critical examination given to papers that suggest humans are affecting the climate. Seems very biased.

    *****

    With respect, I think you may have misunderstood what Dr Spencer has done and presented. He’s not trying to prove whether an increase in CO2 results in multidecadal changes, i.e. the slow build-up of CO2 having measurable long-term consequences. He’s investigating the issue of sensitivity at the monthly frequency level, and thus deriving feedback factor, and for this 87 pairs of measurements from consecutive months is more than enough to establish this, especially with the statistical confidence demonstrated.

    What Lindzen, Choi and Spencer demonstrate is that when month-to-month (or season to season) surface warming is detected, there is a correspondingly large increase in outgoing longwave radiation (OLR). If the warming were due to the greenhouse effect, cranked up by positive feedbacks, then increase in OLR would be considerably lower.

    Lindzen, Choi and Spencer’s argument seems to me to be that month to month, season to season, or even year to year changes in surface temperatures are not mainly due to the greenhouse effect. Their results prove that beyond any reasonable doubt, and for this they have done us a great service.

    However, their weakness is that this does not address multidecadal effects. If I might use an electrical analogy, what they have done is akin to measuring the high frequency AC sensitivity of a feedback system, where the AC signal measured is superimposed on a DC drift (or low frequency AC, if you will). Feedback systems often have different sensitivities to different AC frequencies. It’s perfectly possible to have negative feedback at certain frequencies and positive feedback at other frequencies. For example, oscillators have positive feedback at the frequency of oscillation, but strong negative feedback at other frequencies (I’m not suggesting earth’s climate system is an oscillator, but if you look at typical temperature reconstructions over millions of years covering many ice ages, you could be forgiven for thinking that it is). Likewise, plotting month to month consecutively is effectively filtering out the low frequency information: it’s putting the data through a high pass differentiating filter which eliminates the low frequency components. So, as I understand it, Lindzen, Choi and Spencer have established that relatively short-term (= high frequency) fluctuations in surface temperatures have nothing to do with the greenhouse effect. This doesn’t address the long-term (=low frequency) sensitivity, though.

    What needs to be done is to put the data through a low pass filter, or a multidecadal bandpass filter, and look at low frequency sensitivity. This might tell a different story. And, for that, yes, we would need data covering more than 7 years.

  131. ScientistForTruth has said what I was trying to say earlier, perhaps more clearly.
    I would add that there definitely is an annual component to the net radiation, and the response to this is highly influenced by thermal inertia, which diminishes the response to an AC forcing compared to a similar amplitude DC forcing. Engineers among you might recognize how any kind of inertia has this effect on amplitude. I think it is wrong to interpret inertia as negative feedback, because given sufficient sustained forcing it goes away. When a CO2-doubling effect is described, it is a steady-state response, and this is where it makes sense to look at feedback. If CO2 doubled tomorrow, net radiation would immediately change, but of course temperature wouldn’t respond so quickly, and it might take several years to reach a new equilibrium. After that you would see what the feedback was.

  132. davidmhoffer,

    You have stated it quite succinctly:

    “1. The models are based on CO2 causing an energy imbalance of X.
    2. The measured imbalance is 0.2X”

    Unless some problem is found with Spencer’s work, at the VERY LEAST, the models have a serious diagnostic problem between 60N and 60S. Another instance of correlated error in all the models. Andreas Roesch had already demonstrated correlated positive surface albedo bias in ALL the models at the time of the FAR. Since the FAR, Wentz reported that NONE of the models reproduced more than half the increase in precipitation associated with the recent warming. Camp and Tung and separately Lean reported that none of the models reproduce the amplitude of the signature of the solar cycle seen in the data. And most here are familiar with the potentially definitive contributions of Lindzen, Spencer and others.

    I think that we need to point out very specifically, that the range of projections published by the IPCC are just the actual model results for various CO2 scenarios without ANY additional range or confidence level adjustments for model diagnostic issues that were known at the time, even though those errors were known to be far larger than the energy imbalance at issue and at least comparable to the CO2 forcing itself. Of course, the significant correlated diagnostic issues published since then could not have been taken into account.

    One of my hopes for next week’s ICCC is that we can highlight the appallingly poor peer review standards being applied to reports of model based results. Regional studies of AGW impact are being published without discussions of the diagnostic literature for the models that were used, and often report, for instance, increased risks of droughts without disclosing that the models fail to reproduce even one-half the increase in precipitation associated with the warming. This will be unpopular with the local scientists, because what regional or state agency is going to want to fund studies, when it is obviously premature to use the models when they are so obviously deficient in this key area.

    As Spencer, Lindzen and others have recognized, whether AGW is much of a concern relative to natural variation will rest on whether the net feedbacks to CO2 forcing are as positive as the modelers would have us believe or instead, negative and a barely noticeable perturbation upon the natural variability. The only contemporary model independent evidence seems to be pointing towards the negative. But in the meantime, I think we should press the need for stronger peer review and disclosure of diagnostic implications for any publication of model results. Given the history of high levels of correlated error, publications of new models and versions of models should not read like announcements of an innocent newborn, but should have to discuss specifically whether and how they attempted to address or avoid the documented correlated errors of the past.

  133. JimD and Scientists for truth,

    Unless I’m reading Spencer incorrectly, he performed the same analysis on the models as he did on the climate data. The models should have the same thermal inertia behavior as the actual climate, so the diagnostic issue between 60N and 60S is unaffected by this concern. If Spencer has that part right, then the models are wrong. I guess, in a nonlinear system, we can’t rule out that something significant could be happening at the higher latitudes that impact the definitiveness of his results, but the models would still be wrong. In a nonlinear system, having the models be right on some global diagnostic like climate sensitivity in the wrong way is mere serendipity and doesn’t count.

  134. @RockyRoad

    From an engineering standpoint, unstable equilibriums just don’t last very long in nature. The point I was trying to make is that the earth probably isn’t approaching a “tipping point”. Looking back at historical data and archeological evidence it would seem that the earths temperature has an upper and lower bound and is somehow self regulated. Anthropogenic influences might be enough to move those boundaries by a fraction of a degree, but even that seems very doubtful. If you look at the amount of CO2 from human sources and the CO2 from natural sources, the difference in magnitude is huge. The human influence on the atmosphere is about like putting a motorcycle engine on the back of a freight train. In theory it should have a measurable effect on the speed or acceleration of the freight train, but in practice it just doesn’t matter.

    As a little bit of clarification, I spent some time as a quality engineer and have become very used to dealing in uncertainties. It also made me realize that there is pretty much no such thing as an absolute sure thing. That is why a lot of my explanations have weasel words like probably and may and possibly. And frankly, I don’t understand climate nearly well enough to speak about it in absolutes.

    Hope this clears up what I was trying to get at.

  135. IPCC has a confidence range of 1.5 – 6.0C for one of the scenarios for next century temperature change. The midpoint which is commonly used is 3.0C,while alarmists love to focus on the 6C number. More negative feedback not only lowers the 3.0C midpoint down to less than a degree, but much more importantly it cuts the 6.0C completely out. (Boatloads of positive feedback were required to get up to 6.0C.)

    Were this scientific work (or follow on articles and work on this “unsettled” science) to completely cut out the 6.0C “edge of the envelope” warming, that seems quite significant. Then you have a 2x co2 climate sensitivity of say 0.6C (take that with a grain of salt, this is crude speculation) and an upper edge of the confidence interval of 2.0C or so.

    EG, tightening the confidence intervals in prediction of climate change by lowering the uncertainties in the calculations is a major scientific accomplishment…IF AS ABOVE DISCUSSED the result is a change in the uncertainty from 6C-1.5C = 4.5C to some 2.0C-0.2C = 1.8C.

    That’s a third of previous uncertainty in the range of man’s possible detrimental effects on the planet.

  136. “…Look, my articles are not peer-reviewed science, people. I’m just keeping people abreast of progress in research they are paying me to do. :) ”

    This quote is from Dr. Roy Spencer May 7, 2010 regarding some criticism of this analysis and I wonder if it will appear with the same conclusions in the Journal of Geophysical Research?

  137. I jumped on Wikipedia and read the article, but it was a lot like walking through pudding: slow going and afterward I felt kinda dirty.

  138. Well I always thought “climate Sensitivity” is defined as the increase in mean earth surface temperature for a doubling of atmospheric CO2; and IPCC says it is 3 deg C per doubling +/- 1.5 deg c per doubling; which means it is 1.4 to 4.5 deg C per doubling; so you can see it changes somewhat with the doubling of CO2; and from that fact that it changes; and the definition you can see that the temperature is a logarithmic function of the CO2 abundance.

    Now this must be somewhat theoretical derived from Climatologer’s computer models, because we have never actually observed a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 abundance; and for that matter; we don’t even have a credible way of measuring the average temperature of the earth’s surface; we only have these “anomaly” observations which are differences from what the owl box thermometer read on average over some base time frame. But notice that we don’t have any idea what the true val;ue of the mean earth surface temperature was at any time during that 30 year basetime observation.

    It’s like the cop timing you through a five mile long speed trap, and telling the judge you were doing 48 MPH in a 45 MPH zone; except he doesn’t know where in that five miles you were when you were speeding.
    And climatologers seem to ignore the fact that the earth surface emitted LWIR thermal radiation; which is the driving Voltage behind the CO2 absorption of energy, varies by more than an order of magnitude from place to place and time to time on earth; so it is hardly a suitable variable to be the standard for calculating the logarithmic warming effect of CO2 increases. As bad as out knowledge of anomalies is from place to place; our knowledge of surface radiant emittance is even worse; and we have no global network for monitoring it.

    With a 3:1 variation in the best scientific measurments of “Climate sensitivity”; it seems like you can fit the obseved data to almost any formula you like. I’d bet you can fit the temperature/ CO2 data to the function exp(-1/x^2) for some interval of that function.

  139. Charlie K says:

    From an engineering standpoint, unstable equilibriums just don’t last very long in nature. The point I was trying to make is that the earth probably isn’t approaching a “tipping point”. Looking back at historical data and archeological evidence it would seem that the earths temperature has an upper and lower bound and is somehow self regulated.

    You seem to be confused here about what the claim being made is. An estimate that doubling the CO2 will produce a warming of ~2-4.5 K is not talking about an unstable equilibrium. It is just saying that the feedbacks are such that the warming gets magnified from the ~1.1 K that would occur if CO2 levels changed with no other changes (to water vapor, clouds, snow / ice albedo, etc.) There is some talk about tipping points (such as shutdown of the thermohaline circulation) but these are not true “runaways”…and I don’t understand how your argument addresses them. Yes, the climate system won’t stay at the tipping point for long…that is why they are tipping points.

    Finally, when paleoclimate folks look at the past climates, they find evidence that indeed the climate seems pretty sensitive to perturbations…and they find that quite rapid changes (e.g., due to the shutdown of the thermohaline circulation) suggestive of tipping points have occurred in the past. So, in fact, it is your view and not the consensus view that seems to be in contradiction to our current understanding of paleoclimate.

    If you look at the amount of CO2 from human sources and the CO2 from natural sources, the difference in magnitude is huge.

    On this point you are also confused. There are large exchanges of CO2 between the atmosphere, the mixed layer of the ocean, the biosphere, and the soils. However, this is just exchanging the same carbon back and forth. In fact, to a good approximation, these systems can all be thought of as subsystems of one larger system that exchanges carbon only quite slowly with the deep ocean; when a new slug of carbon is added to any part of this system (be it atmosphere, mixed layer, biosphere, …), it will rapidly equilibrate amongst these different components but it will only slowly disappear from this system as a whole. Thus, the carbon we are releasing through the burning of fossil fuels is a new source of carbon added to this system. It is a very different beast from the exchanges between the different components of this system.

    This is why our emissions have already caused the level of CO2 to increase by close to 40% relative to the pre-industrial level, even though the amount of our emissions is fairly small compared to the exchanges back and forth between the atmosphere and the mixed layer and biosphere.

    And frankly, I don’t understand climate nearly well enough to speak about it in absolutes.

    Then you should try to understand the science first before you critique it. There is a reason why most scientists have come to the conclusions that they have and it is not because they are stupid or part of a grand conspiracy.

  140. George E. Smith said
    May 11, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    … It’s like the cop timing you through a five mile long speed trap, and telling the judge you were doing 48 MPH in a 45 MPH zone; except he doesn’t know where in that five miles you were when you were speeding.

    Reminds me of the story of the cop who pulled Werner Heisenberg over for speeding.

    “Do you know how fast you were going?”, the cop asked.

    “No,” said Werner, “… but I know where I was.”

  141. Joel Shore says:
    May 11, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Interesting post, right up to the end where you say:

    … There is a reason why most scientists have come to the conclusions that they have and it is not because they are stupid or part of a grand conspiracy.

    Fallacy of the excluded middle. There was also a reason that most scientists came to the conclusion that the continents weren’t moving, and that ulcers were caused by stress, and it was not because they were stupid or part of a grand conspiracy.

    However … they were still wrong …

  142. Willis Eschenbach, May 11, 2010 at 6:32 pm:

    Good story. Was Werner certain about that?

  143. #
    Smokey says:
    May 11, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Willis Eschenbach, May 11, 2010 at 6:32 pm:

    Good story. Was Werner certain about that?
    _________________________________________
    Of course not he was always uncertain in principle.

  144. Willis,

    Great joke.

    Fallacy of the excluded middle. There was also a reason that most scientists came to the conclusion that the continents weren’t moving, and that ulcers were caused by stress, and it was not because they were stupid or part of a grand conspiracy.

    I am not saying that science is infallible…and that what most scientists think will always turn out to be correct. However, I do think that one should endeavor to understand why most scientists have come to the conclusions that they have … and only after very good understanding of how those conclusions are reached is it reasonable to challenge those conclusions. For every Wegener or Marshall and Warren, there are probably thousands of people who think they are like those folks when in fact they are simply wrong.

  145. Joel Shore says: May 11, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    “Finally, when paleoclimate folks look at the past climates, they find evidence that indeed the climate seems pretty sensitive to perturbations…and they find that quite rapid changes (e.g., due to the shutdown of the thermohaline circulation) suggestive of tipping points have occurred in the past. So, in fact, it is your view and not the consensus view that seems to be in contradiction to our current understanding of paleoclimate”.

    Joel, in relation to the paleoclimate evidence for high climate sensitivity where is your healthy skepticism you claim people should have for Dr Spencer’s science? On paleoclimatic evidence of high climate sensitivity, Dr. Spencer has a healthy skepticism.

    The Great Global Warming Blunder, p 68, “Feedbacks are the key”.
    “There are actually quite a few ways in which feedbacks have been estimated from observational data, both during the modern instrumental period over the last century or so and from proxy estimates over thousands of years (2). But there is a fundamental problem common to all: our estimates of past temperature change are better than our estimates of the forcings that caused them. And measuring a temperature change without knowing what forced it is the perfect recipe for mistakenly diagnosing positive feedback.
    You see, a temperature change can be caused either by a weak forcing that is being amplified by positive feedback, or by a strong forcing that is being reduced by negative feedback”.

    And

    “I believe our greatest our greatest hope for determining what feedbacks are operating in today’s climate system is by actually measuring today’s climate system. If we cannot figure out from actual measurements on how the climate system operates today, how can we ever hope to rely on past events like ice ages when we have no direct measurements of those events to analyse?”

    Who can seriously argue with this logic?

    (2) Reto Knutti and Gabriele C. Hegerl, “The Equilibrium Sensitivity of the Earth’s Temperature to Radiation Changes, “Nature Geoscience 1 (2008): 735-1743.

  146. Joel Shore says:
    May 12, 2010 at 7:30 am (Edit)

    …Fallacy of the excluded middle. There was also a reason that most scientists came to the conclusion that the continents weren’t moving, and that ulcers were caused by stress, and it was not because they were stupid or part of a grand conspiracy.

    I am not saying that science is infallible…and that what most scientists think will always turn out to be correct. However, I do think that one should endeavor to understand why most scientists have come to the conclusions that they have … and only after very good understanding of how those conclusions are reached is it reasonable to challenge those conclusions. For every Wegener or Marshall and Warren, there are probably thousands of people who think they are like those folks when in fact they are simply wrong.

    I agree in general, but usually looking at “why most scientists have come to the conclusions they have” is circular. They have come to that conclusion because they have believed in the consensus ideas, so if you don’t question the consensus ideas, you’ll agree with them … how can you break out of that circle?

    And yes, for every Wegener or Marshall there are lots of folks who think they are like them. But the current situation is much different from those times. When ulcers were thought to be caused by stress, there were almost no scientists who didn’t believe that. Currently, on the other hand, there are hundreds and hundreds of scientists who question some part of the “consensus”. In fact, there’s not much of a “consensus”, and never was … yes, there’s a consensus that the globe has warmed over the last several hundred years, but when you get to the details, there’s lots of different opinions.

    And this is to be expected in a new science such as climate science. The claims of a “consensus” have been political claims, not scientific claims. We understand little about the climate. Nobody saw the recent hiatus in warming coming along … why not? As Trenberth said, we don’t know where the missing heat is … why not?

    The answer is that our data is short and scanty and full of lacunae, we haven’t been studying it for very long, the climate is an unimaginably complex system with important phenomena on all spatial scales from microscopic to planetary and extra-terrestrial, and on all spatial scales from nanoseconds to millions of years, and we have no general “theory of climate” like we have in many other scientific fields.

    So the idea that there is some kind of “consensus”, the idea that the science is understood well enough to project the climate out for a hundred years, is a non-starter.

  147. Geoff Larson (quoting Roy Spencer) says:

    You see, a temperature change can be caused either by a weak forcing that is being amplified by positive feedback, or by a strong forcing that is being reduced by negative feedback.

    True enough…But, what strong forcing is he proposing occurred during the ice age – interglacial cycles that is being neglected? We know very accurately the changes in orbital parameters that seems to be the trigger of the ice ages. And, we know reasonably well the forcing (in some sense a feedback) due to the albedo changes. And, also the changes in the greenhouse gases and the forcing that this caused.

    “I believe our greatest our greatest hope for determining what feedbacks are operating in today’s climate system is by actually measuring today’s climate system. If we cannot figure out from actual measurements on how the climate system operates today, how can we ever hope to rely on past events like ice ages when we have no direct measurements of those events to analyse?”

    This sounds more like a rationalization than anything else. Every method of determining the climate sensitivity has advantages and disadvantages. The paleoclimate data has the advantage of being a clean (natural) experiment carried out over long enough timescales and with a large enough change that the equilibrium climate sensitivity can be estimated. However, it has the disadvantage of having occurred in the past so we can’t measure things in real time.

    Looking at the current climate system has the advantage of being in real time but the disadvantage of the “experiments” not being as clean, the magnitudes of the change not being large enough, and the timescales not being long enough to accurately gauge the eventual “equilibrium” response and to separate out the signal from the noise.

    Looking at models has the advantage of allowing us to do a variety of different experiments on different timescales and turning feedbacks and such on-and-off at will but the disadvantage that the experiments are on a simplified model of the real world rather than the real world itself.

    Which is best? The most logical answer is that one should do all of these things. (And, by the way, most scientists who have looked at the current climate have come to different conclusions about what it implies in regards to climate sensitivity than Spencer has.)

  148. Willis,

    I am not sure what you expect “consensus” to look like on a scientific theory that people have significant financial, political, and philosophical reasons not to want to believe. I actually think that if you look at other controversial issues (like the origins of our species), you will find similar claims of many scientists believing different things (see, eg., here: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/05/scientists_who_support_intelli.html and http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/List_of_scientists_who_support_creationism ). And, like with those issues, most of the arguments that you find supporting the opposing view are just recycled debunked claims (with a few more rational arguments thrown in). Another dead giveaway is the distinct dichotomy between what the professional scientific societies say about the issue and what others claim in regards to where the scientific community stands.

    And, yes, the climate system is complicated but that doesn’t mean that we can’t determine anything about it. The human body is even more complicated, at least in the sense that it is further removed from being directly describable by physical laws. (This doesn’t mean the body isn’t ultimately described by physical laws, but just that it is sufficiently complicated that such reductionism usually doesn’t get you very far.)

    And, finally, I am not clear how the conclusion that there is a lot of uncertainty should lead to the notion that we should do nothing to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In fact, what knowledge we do have of the perturbation that we are causing, along with the evidence that the earth’s climate system is subject to some fairly dramatic changes, should push us to err on the size of caution. After all, due to scarcity, fossil fuels will eventually become more expensive and substitutes will need to be found. Wouldn’t it be silly if we just delayed the inevitable and did significant damage to our environment in the process just because we’re not certain that we couldn’t party for another 50 years on fossil fuels before we have to buckle down and face the inevitable?

  149. Joel Shore.
    Thanks for responding.

    True enough…But, what strong forcing is he proposing occurred during the ice age – interglacial cycles that is being neglected?

    He doesn’t. “Blunder p 69”, “But we also saw that the timing of the Milankovitch cycles relative to the ice ages was no closer to the major temperature changes than what might be expected by chance. Therefore it is reasonable to expect that the ice ages and the interglacial periods of warmth were caused by some as yet undiscovered forcing mechanism”. See his link.

    http://ocean.mit.edu/~cwunsch/papersonline/milankovitchqsr2004.pdf

    We know very accurately the changes in orbital parameters that seems to be the trigger of the ice ages.

    The theory that the ice ages and the interglacials correlate with Milankovitch cycles is speculative. From the summary of Wunsch’s paper above.

    “Evidence that Milankovitch forcing ‘‘controls’’ the records, in particular the 100 ka glacial/interglacial, is very thin and somewhat implausible, given that most of the high frequency variability lies elsewhere”.

    Certainly there is no consensus on this.

    (And, by the way, most scientists who have looked at the current climate have come to different conclusions about what it implies in regards to climate sensitivity than Spencer has.)

    Most scientists have not looked at the problem the way Dr. Spencer is looking at it.

  150. I personally think the “strong feedback is needed for glacial/intergalcial” arguments to be a bit farfetched. Most scientists have not looked at the problem the way Dr. Spencer has, but one that has an analogous view is Tsonis.

    It occurs to me that Tsonis 2007 in his work “Heat Capacity” used a similar technique of moving time sliced windows across the entire time domain, and comparing the correlation of the data within each of those times slices with the baseline. This was in reflation to calculating ocean heat. Obviously, some offsets (in time) would show improved correlation over others.

    Tsonis showed most variation in global temperature to be the product of aligning or separation of the effects of four major ocean cyclic systems plus a background “secular trend”. That background trend is quite small (I’ll return to this shortly).

    Because major variations could be mathematically modeled in this method (and predicted) Tsonis suggested that there was no reason for the “post 1950s temperature rise” to be considered as due to greenhouse gases, and there to be no reason to consider the 1950-1970 cool period to be due to some kind of offsetting effect by aerosol cooling.

    That background “secular trend” of Tsonis is quite in line with the small effect of greenhouse gas forcing which Spencer calculates.

    References:

    Plain english: http://www.worldclimatereport.com/index.php/2007/08/17/climate-change-chaos/

    Published article:

    https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/kravtsov/www/downloads/GRL-Tsonis.pdf

  151. Joel Shore,

    “Most scientists” don’t understand the evidence behind the climate sensitivity issue. Even climate scientists who express an opinion in support of the AGW hypothesis, are unlikely to have reviewed and understood the evidence. Climate science is a multidisciplinary field. Even climate modeling has subspecialties within it, people who focus on cloud parameterizations or the oceans, land, glaciers, snow, etc. For an informed opinion someone would have to have reviewed the model projection, sensitivity and projection literature, the model diagnostic literature and the literature that attempts “model independent” assessments or estimate of climate sensitivity. Of course, even these are sometimes not “model independent”. So who do we have if you look at the scientists working in the area? The largest component is the modelers, these are large, expensive continuing projects and the modeling community also does some of its own diagnostics, but there is diagnostic work also done outside the modeling community enabled by the standardization and open availability of result data. If you exclude the modeling community itself and just look at the people who are informed who have published results supporting some skepticism, I think you will find that using the word “most” is inappropriate. Perhaps a third to a half or more of those informed outside the modeling community can be classified as IPCC confidence and projection skeptics. That is what make the lists such as that recently published by the AAAS such a joke, it is extremely highly unlikely that the biologists and medical professionals on the list have an informed opinion on statement iii:

    “(iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth’s climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.”

    Let’s not discuss “most scientists, but rather the evidence relevant to whether there is net feedback to CO2 forcing that is positive enough to be a concern. The direct effects of CO2 for the future emissions scenerios are not large enough to justify the expensive initiatives being proposed.

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