Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
After I published my previous post, “An Observational Estimate of Climate Sensitivity“, a number of people objected that I was just looking at the average annual cycle. On a time scale of decades, they said, things are very different, and the climate sensitivity is much larger. So I decided to repeat my analysis without using the annual averages that I used in my last post. Figure 1 shows that result for the Northern Hemisphere (NH) and the Southern Hemisphere (SH):
Figure 1. Temperatures calculated using solely the variations in solar input (net solar energy after albedo reflections). The observations are so well matched by the calculations that you cannot see the lines showing the observations, because they are hidden by the lines showing the calculations. The two hemispheres have different time constants (tau) and climate sensitivities (lambda). For the NH, the time constant is 1.9 months, and the climate sensitivity is 0.30°C for a doubling of CO2. The corresponding figures for the SH are 2.4 months and 0.14°C for a doubling of CO2.
I did this using the same lagged model as in my previous post, but applied to the actual data rather than the averages. Please see that post and the associated spreadsheet for the calculation details. Now, there are a number of interesting things about this graph.
First, despite the nay-sayers, the climate sensitivities I used in my previous post do an excellent job of calculating the temperature changes over a decade and a half. Over the period of record the NH temperature rose by 0.4°C, and the model calculated that quite exactly. In the SH, there was almost no rise at all, and the model calculated that very accurately as well.
Second, the sun plus the albedo were all that were necessary to make these calculations. I did not use aerosols, volcanic forcing, methane, CO2, black carbon, aerosol indirect effect, land use, snow and ice albedo, or any of the other things that the modelers claim to rule the temperature. Sunlight and albedo seem to be necessary and sufficient variables to explain the temperature changes over that time period.
Third, the greenhouse gases are generally considered to be “well-mixed”, so a variety of explanations have been put forward to explain the differences in hemispherical temperature trends … when in fact, the albedo and the sun explain the different trends very well.
Fourth, there is no statistically significant trend in the residuals (calculated minus observations) for either the NH or the SH.
Fifth, I have been saying for many years now that the climate responds to disturbances and changes in the forcing by counteracting them. For example, I have held that the effect of volcanoes on the climate is wildly overestimated in the climate models, because the albedo changes to balance things back out.
We are fortunate in that this dataset encompasses one of the largest volcanic eruptions in modern times, that of Pinatubo … can you pick it out in the record shown in Figure 1? I can’t, and I say that the reason is that the clouds respond immediately to such a disturbance in a thermostatic fashion.
Sixth, if there were actually a longer time constant (tau), or a larger climate sensitivity (lambda) over decade-long periods, then it would show up in the NH residuals but not the SH residuals. This is because there is a trend in the NH and basically no trend in the SH. But the calculations using the given time constants and sensitivities were able to capture both hemispheres very accurately. The RMS error of the residuals is only a couple tenths of a degree.
OK, folks, there it is, tear it apart … but please remember that this is science, and that the game is to attack the science, not the person doing the science.
Also, note that it is meaningless to say my results are a “joke” or are “nonsense”. The results fit the observations extremely well. If you don’t like that, well, you need to find, identify, and point out the errors in my data, my logic, or my mathematics.
All the best,
PS—I’ve been told many times, as though it settled the argument, that nobody has ever produced a model that explains the temperature rise without including anthropogenic contributions from CO2 and the like … well, the model above explains a 0.5°C/decade rise in the ’80s and ’90s, the very rise people are worried about, without any anthropogenic contribution at all.
[UPDATE: My thanks to Stephen Rasey who alertly noted below that my calculation of the trend was being thrown off slightly by end-point effects. I have corrected the graphic and related references to the trend. It makes no difference to the calculations or my conclusions. -w.]
[UPDATE: My thanks to Paul_K, who pointed out that my formula was slightly wrong. I was using
∆T(k) = λ ∆F(k)/τ + ∆T(k-1) * exp(-1 / τ)
∆T(k) = λ ∆F(k)(1 – exp(-1/ τ)) + ∆T(k-1) * exp(-1 / τ)
The result of the error is that I have underestimated the sensitivity slightly, while everything else remains the same. Instead of the sensitivities for the SH and the NH being 0.04°C per W/m2 and 0.08°C per W/m2 respectively, the correct sensitivities should have been 0.05°C per W/m2 and 0.10°C per W/m2.