Geoengineering: ‘computer-based virtual worlds’ tell us how much sunblock Earth needs

From the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory:

Earth sunblock only needed if planet warms easily

Planet’s sensitivity to greenhouse gases will determine how much shading could be needed to slow temperature rise

Ship Tracks South of Alaska

Ship exhaust creates long streaks of clouds across the ocean’s dark surface, making the sky brighter and reducing the amount of heat trapped in the atmosphere. Some researchers are exploring ways to make clouds brighter to reflect more sunlight back into space. Photo courtesy of NASA.

RICHLAND, Wash. – An increasing number of scientists are studying ways to temporarily reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the earth to potentially stave off some of the worst effects of climate change. Because these sunlight reduction methods would only temporarily reduce temperatures, do nothing for the health of the oceans and affect different regions unevenly, researchers do not see it as a permanent fix. Most theoretical studies have examined this strategy by itself, in the absence of looking at simultaneous attempts to reduce emissions.

Now, a new computer analysis of future climate change that considers emissions reductions together with sunlight reduction shows that such drastic steps to cool the earth would only be necessary if the planet heats up easily with added greenhouse gases. The analysis, reported in the journal Climatic Change, might help future policymakers plan for a changing climate.

The study by researchers at the Department of Energy‘s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory explored sunlight reduction methods, or solar radiation management, in a computer model that followed emissions’ effect on climate. The analysis shows there is a fundamental connection between the need for emissions reductions and the potential need for some sort of solar dimming.

“It’s a what-if scenario analysis,” said Steven Smith with the Joint Global Change Research Institute in College Park, Md,, a joint venture between PNNL and the University of Maryland. “The conditions under which policymakers might want to manage the amount of sun reaching earth depends on how sensitive the climate is to atmospheric greenhouse gases, and we just don’t know that yet.”

The analysis started with computer-based virtual worlds, or scenarios, that describe different potential pathways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which limits the amount of heat in the earth system due to greenhouse gas accumulation. The researchers combined these scenarios with solar radiation management, a type of geoengineering method that might include shading the earth from the sun’s heat by either brightening clouds, mimicking the atmospheric cooling from volcanic eruptions or putting mirrors in space.

“Solar radiation management doesn’t eliminate the need to reduce emissions. We do not want to dim sunlight over the long term — that doesn’t address the root cause of the problem and might also have negative regional effects. This study shows that the same conditions that would call for solar radiation management also require substantial emission reductions in order to meet the climate goals set by the world community,” said Smith.

How much sun blocking might be needed depends on an uncertain factor called climate sensitivity. Much like beachgoers in the summer, the earth might be very sensitive to carbon dioxide, like someone who burns easily and constantly slathers on the sunscreen, or not, like someone who can get away with SPF 5 or 10.

Scientists measure climate sensitivity by how many degrees the atmosphere warms up if the concentration of carbon dioxide doubles. Smith said if the climate has a medium sensitivity of about 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) per doubling of carbon dioxide, “it’s less likely we’d need solar radiation management at all. We’d have time to stabilize the climate if we get going on reducing emissions. But if it’s highly sensitive, say 4.5 degrees Celsius (8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) per doubling, we’re going to need to use solar radiation management if we want to limit temperature changes.”

According to NOAA’s August report, the earth’s temperature has already risen about 0.62 degrees Celsius (1.12 degrees Fahrenheit) since the beginning of the 20th century as the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has grown from 290 parts per million to 379 parts per million.

But the atmosphere hasn’t reached equilibrium yet — even if humans stopped putting more carbon dioxide into the air, the climate would still continue to change for a while longer. Scientists do not know what temperature the earth will reach at equilibrium, because they don’t know how sensitive the planet is to greenhouse gases.

Further, the study showed that, when coupled with emission reductions, the amount of solar radiation management needed could be far less than the amount generally considered by researchers so far.

“Much of the current research has examined solar radiation management that is used as the sole means of offsetting a doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations. What we showed is that when coupled with emissions reductions, only a fraction of that amount of ‘solar dimming’ will be needed. This means that potential adverse impacts would be that much lower,” said Smith. “This is all still in the research phase. We do not know enough about the impacts of potential solar radiation management technologies to use them at this time.”

The study will also help decision-makers evaluate solar reduction technologies side-by-side, if it comes to that. Smith and his coauthor, PNNL atmospheric scientist and Laboratory Fellow Phil Rasch, devised a metric to quantify how much solar radiation management will be needed to keep warming under a particular temperature change threshold. Called degree-years, this metric can be used to evaluate the need for potential sunlight dimming technologies.

Whether such technologies will be needed at all, time will tell.

This work was supported by the non-profit Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research.


Reference: Steven J. Smith and Philip J. Rasch, 2012. The Long-Term Policy 1 Context for Solar Radiation Management, Climatic Change, doi: 10.1007/s10584-012-0577-3. (http://www.springerlink.com/content/31674q46k61p86h7/)

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82 thoughts on “Geoengineering: ‘computer-based virtual worlds’ tell us how much sunblock Earth needs

  1. Not much to say, other than I’m just totally lost of words….

    It just feels as though the Warmists are putting science back to the pre-enlightenment era. Are western economies so wealthy that they can afford to waste huge sums of money on this junk ? I wonder how the earth could possibly have existed for 4.5 billion years without these wondrous new technologies they’re attempting to develop.

    Clearly the world’s gone mad !

  2. I think that should be “supported by the Fund for Useless Climate and Energy Research”. And that makes a nice, appropriate acronym, too.

    Truly, they are scraping the bottom of the barrel

  3. Weather watch: Southen and Eastern Australia experiencing extremely cold spring weather, with snow in areas that are almost unprecedented for October. No mention of global warming in the news, which is probably the biggest news of all.

  4. ” to potentially stave off some of the worst effects of climate change…”

    Which “worst effects” are we talking about? Haven’t seen them yet…..

  5. I hope some really clever lawyer is sharpening his pencil to sue on behalf of those of us who need as much sunshine as we can get for our businesses and life style.
    There are millions who rely on sunshine to ripen crops and provide food. We have in front of us this year, in the UK, proof that too much rain destroys crops and pushes up prices, so too does too little sunshine. Who’s to say exactly how much shade will produce just the right amount of cooling without some unintended, and unforeseen until after the event,consequence running out of control. Leave well alone.

  6. As usual they only consider half the story. When I was involved in anti-submarine work in the North Atlantic we had to keep track of all surface vessels, especially what were called ELINT trawlers. It’s an abbreviation of Electronic Intelligence Trawlers, which were Soviet “fishing vessels” festooned with antenna and electronic monitoring devices that sat of the coast all the time in international waters. They were also temporary supply vessels in the event of conflict as we witnessed during the Cuban crisis. Massive factory ships that processed the catch at sea served the same purpose.

    In order to track these and other vessels we would frequently patrol in passive mode. This meant flying without any detecting equipment like radar operating at all. The east coast of Canada is the foggiest area in the world so lack of radar was a problem. We soon realized that the heat from the trawler or other vessel burned off the fog for a considerable distance behind the vessel, certainly as far as the condensation trails in the photo shown above. It taught me much about the delicate balance between temperature, condensation and evaporation that I applied when I went back to university to study climate change.

    In addition, there are the lower levels of fog created by the urban heat island effect. But that is not the end of the list.

  7. Ha ha. That’s funny because they say the sun is bad for us and it causes skin cancer so we need sunblock lotion to prevent skin cancer…

    Only to find out that we have a widespread vitamin D deficiency and we need the sun for vitamin D. NO FOOD can match the amount of vitamin D we get from the sun. Not only that, vitamin D at the right dosage or optimal level can significantly cut down risk of getting all kinds of cancers.

    Here is the link to show that we need vitamin D for so many things – http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/

    So… maybe the earth needs sun for something we don’t know about yet? Will trying to reduce solar radiation cause more problems like it did for us with sunblock lotion?

  8. “The analysis, reported in the journal Climatic Change, might help future policymakers plan for a changing climate.”
    ========
    I wasn’t really worried until the term “policymakers” reared its ugly head.
    The electorate ultimately makes policy, with its votes.
    Never forget that.

  9. ‘drastic steps to cool the earth would only be necessary if the planet heats up easily with added greenhouse gases

    Sort of sounds like an attempt to back out of ‘man-made’ global warming. Anyone else get that sense?

  10. Do you suppose, that by playing, with this stuff, the AGW guys will figure out that it might be a good idea to include clouds or water vapor in their Modeling?
    All of their research begins with the assumption that CO2 causes catastrophic GW.
    If we get a new president ….we should cut off the money for all such research!

  11. I discussed this with a Harvard professor years ago when he thought we needed to mitigate AGW with stratospheric sulfate particles. What struck me then as now is this is most likely one experiment that cannot be taken back if it goes wrong. And Murphy says it will go wrong. Mostly because you are trying to do something for all the wrong reasons and don’t really understand the potential outcomes.
    One hopes this is just a total waste of money and idle speculation. As the alternative is truly scary.

  12. I’m not at all concerned at the prospect of CO2 increases. I’m very apprehensive at the thought of geo-engineering. Given humankind’s track record of cock-ups when trying to improve on nature, I can’t see any good outcomes from this kind of exercise.

  13. If I read this correctly, climate scientists finally admitted 1) that they don’t know what the right value for climate sensitivity is, and 2) that increased cloud cover is a negative feedback.

  14. ‘Computer-based virtual worlds’ tell us how much sunblock Earth needs? Sorry, Pacific Northwest, but ‘computer-based virtual worlds’ can only ever tell us how much sunblock ‘computer-based virtual worlds’ “need”. And as our home planet appears to be sliding into another Little Ice Age, it should dawn soon enough, even on you, that the amount of sunblock we “need” is a negative amount.

  15. There’s gonna be one heck of a lawsuit because of all this. I’m reminded of that movie where the Army accidentally stopped the rotation of the earth’s core causing birds to fly upside down.

  16. yet again, I am aghast at the stupidity!
    and BTW, just for completeness – they do KNOW, do they not, that sunlight is used by PLANTS to take CO2 out of the atmosphere? Did they add that into their silly models?

  17. “The conditions under which policymakers might want to manage the amount of sun reaching earth depends on how sensitive the climate is to atmospheric greenhouse gases, and we just don’t know that yet.”

    At least they got one thing right.

  18. What is it with some of these groups and their unhealthy fascination with blocking out the sun?
    Don’t they know that the opposite of sun light and warmth is darkness and cold?

  19. Sinclair, K.E., Bertler, N.A.N. and van Ommen, T.D. 2012. Twentieth-century surface temperature trends in the Western Ross Sea, Antarctica: Evidence from a high-resolution ice core. Journal of Climate 25: 3629-3636.
    “no significant trends between 1882 and 2006.”

    http://www.co2science.org/articles/V15/N41/C1.php

    If the state sponsored religion of CAGW believes that the “scientific” endeavours of geoengineers are required it will be so. At the risk of using a religious metaphor, such models are truly Babylonian in their conceit and arrogance, the potential consequences of such meddling unpleasant to contemplate.

  20. Such idiotic thinking never ceases to amaze me. To correct what they deem as mankind meddling with the balance of the climate, they are proposing to meddle with the balance of climate. The problem is this is not the first time these “enlightened” grant seekers have proposed messing with the climate to reverse the effects of man messing with the climate. I think, however, that these people really only want to be rich and so the easy way to do that is to put out a scientific paper that blames mankind for some ill, real or pretend.

  21. “… We do not want to dim sunlight over the long term — that doesn’t address the root cause of the problem and might also have negative regional effects. …”

    What problem? [sarc]

    “Scientists measure climate sensitivity by how many degrees the atmosphere warms up if the concentration of carbon dioxide doubles. …”

    They really actually measure that, do they? [sarc]
    They don’t know the “normal” temperature of the atmosphere. They use badly sited instruments to get bad information on daily temps, then re-adjust the historical records to show whatever they want it to show. Cloud feedbacks/or forcings [whichever flavor is currently pushed] are virtually wags.

  22. Hi all I’m a long time viewer first time poster here.
    I thought this vid might clear the contrail V chemtrail debate up http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFvx_fU_Nkg It’s hard to take any scientific info into account regarding climate change if weather modification isn’t being taken as an IS Are scientists notified were and when these are taking place Australia is spending 10 million for their 2012 weather modification program. http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/cloud-seeding-.htm The 2012 weather modification meeting time table . http://www.weathermodification.org/lasvegas/WMA_LasVegas2012Agenda.pdf

  23. “Scientists do not know what temperature the earth will reach at equilibrium, because they don’t know how sensitive the planet is to greenhouse gases.”

    This about says it all. The estimates of sensitivity promoted by the AGW alarmists are clearly too high, but no one knows how much too high.

    Once Kirkby et al establish how sensitive the globe’s temperature is to changes in cosmic rays, the value for the supposed CO2 feedbacks will be further constrained. For CO2 alone, of course, the calculable Planck response is 1.23 degrees per doubling. Only the H2O feedbacks are unknown.

  24. These people are going insane. On the upside, NOAA is putting itself in the running for another block of money Romney can cut from government spending if he gets elected.

  25. Perhaps the strangest claim was that a geoengineering solution can only be a “temporary fix.”
    Apparently they are looking for GHG reduction to stop the warming. But what if that (as is likely)
    fails? If the system works and is needed, why stop using it? Makes no sense. As for differential effects, why can’t the system only shield places where it doesn’t affect anything or anybody, like over the oceans?

  26. Always. Every single time. Absolutely not a single thought as to when we live, at the possible end of a half-precessional old extreme interglacial. What could possibly go wrong here? We could tip ourselves into the next glacial with geoengineering. What does the vaunted Precautionary Principle say about that? Hmmmm?

  27. “since the beginning of the 20th century as the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has grown from 290 parts per million to 379 parts per million.”

    This is, of course, ignoring the actual Co2 during the 1940s at 440-550 ppm, blowing the false, fabricated, constant 290 ppm of the IPCC hand puppets out of the water. But, can’t let facts get in the way of your agenda, can we?

  28. It might be safer and easier to cool the surface of the planet by allowing sea levels to rise and allowing some marginal increase in the proportion of the planet covered by oceans.

  29. Carbon taxes and controls have always been the objective for the government funded warmist [big warm] position. Geoengineering has always bee the fall back objective for the government funded luke [little warm] postion. All of the supposed “sunscreens” have some level of toxic effect and the major GMO patent holders have developed the only geoengineering resistant strains of food crops. This is all the work of monarch-monopolists who currently control western corporations, faux democracies and rote education. There is NO Carbon warming, big or little, and no need for toxic spraying….or the ludicrious space mirror protection racket.

  30. elmer says:

    October 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    I don’t think that’s ship exhaust.
    ===========
    It probably is, but caught with perfect lighting in ideal atmospheric conditions.
    It probably only sets up like that…a couple times a year ?
    Sure is striking though !!
    Engineering geniuses, ensuring adequate supplies for the masses.

  31. Sulphates destroy Ozone and the location they most often propose to dump the sulphates in – you guessed it, smack dab in the middle of the Ozone layer.

    They are just insane obsessed scientists. There is no other description that fits.

    All those movies of the future where humans have wrecked the planet are really based on these type of scientists having their way.

    Now technically, all these experiments are banned under the International Convention on Biodiversity that almost all countries have signed but noone seems to know that (especially these obsessed climate-fixing scientists).

    And my backyard and your backyard is experiencing exactly the same temperature that it has for the last 100 years. The climate has not changed no matter how much the NCDC/GISS/Hadcru says it has. We need to get the guys who run these institutions removed from their positions and have objective people put in charge instead before it does lead to someone destroying the Ozone layer.

  32. I suspect these are aircraft vapor trails, not ships. Or perhaps just a very busy shipping lane on a windless day! Can someone more knowledgeable than me check?

  33. I could list dozens of ways humans have changed the Earth’s albedo, both on the surface and in the atmosphere. And I happen to think these albedo changes are the primary cause of what climate warming there has been.

    If we were serious about cooling the Earth’s climate, it’s in fact relatively easy to do. City planners and engineers are now incorporating high albedo materials into buildings, to both cool the buildings and cool the cities. The cooling results from reflecting the sun’s energy straight back out to space. Hence it also cools the climate.

    You could argue that this won’t make enough of a difference, but its something that’s easy to ramp up and down, and has none of the risks of atmospheric experiments. If sudden cooling occurs, we can just cover those high albedo surfaces with black paint.

    On a side note, where I live most people have very high albedo reflective roofs to help keep their houses cool, and as I mentioned with the incidental benefit of cooling the climate, now with the solar energy craze they are covering those high albedo roofs with very low albedo solar panels, which will both warm the urban areas and the climate. That no one ever mentions this, helps persuade me, all of this cooling the climate talk isn’t serious.

  34. Ray Bratton says:

    October 11, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    I suspect these are aircraft vapor trails, not ships. Or perhaps just a very busy shipping lane on a windless day! Can someone more knowledgeable than me check?
    ==============
    I would go with the latter, no need to check.
    The heat from the ships exhaust plume, causes the surrounding air to rise into the colder air, where it condenses to form clouds.
    I don’t imagine these are seen in the tropics ?

  35. If geoengineering is to be considered then the emergency must be great indeed. I cannot see such an emergency with benign CO2 or a beneficial warming. I can easily see such an emergency arising should we begin prolonged temperate zone cooling. Warming has enabled an expanded human population and sustained long term cooling would present such dire emergency IMHO. Cooling is always dangerous… warming is a pleasant walk in the park.

    It is important that the climate fundamentals be clearly determined as no mitigation, of cooling, can be attempted until a highly skilled modality is constructed. How can that ever happen, while our skills, funding, talent is busy chasing it own CO2 A$$. Identifying the exact cause and mechanism of rapid glaciation must be fully determined.

    Unless one believes we can bioengineer plants to thrive on frozen ground lol. GK

  36. These paragraphs were under the NASA video that showed the ship cloud tracks:

    “However, no camera captured that image of the Earth. The reason? It’s not one image. Instead, the single cloud-scattered globe is a mosaic of 298 smaller images of close-up areas of our planet meticulously stitched together by Helen-Nicole Kostis, a NASA science visualizer.

    At NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS), Kostis works as part of a team of visualizers who take raw scientific data and translate that data into visual imagery. The visuals help both scientists and the general public better understand the data NASA satellites and airborne missions provide in order to better comprehend complex phenomena invisible to the naked eye and “see” how the planet works. The imagery they create is scientifically accurate to a degree few others match.

    Many Earth views we see in print and video are created by artistically splicing together various images from different satellite instruments, taken at different times and heights, in different wavelengths of light, and at different pixel resolutions. Using image-blending techniques, photo artists create a realistic-looking two-dimensional flat view from these disparate images. They then wrap this image layer, called a “texture,” onto a sphere in a software program to create a view of Earth. While it makes for stunning imagery, the Earth depicted in these views is fictional — a hodge-podge of different images created from a great deal of artistic license.”

    See: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/people/features/visualizer-creates-earth.html

    So. it is not clear that these are actual visual clouds at any one moment. If a ships hot exhaust could create clouds like this, why don’t our freeways show up as cloud streaks on satellite photos?

    We may be seeing something “created from a great deal of artistic license.”

  37. Derek Sorensen says:
    October 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I’m not at all concerned at the prospect of CO2 increases. I’m very apprehensive at the thought of geo-engineering. Given humankind’s track record of cock-ups when trying to improve on nature, I can’t see any good outcomes from this kind of exercise.

    Yep, sounds like a pretty good way to trigger the next glaciation.

  38. But there can be very little if any CO2-AGW. Also the real AGW has been the reduction of cloud albedo by Asian aerosols.

    Result – geo-enginering can’t work and isn’t needed.

  39. Philip Bradley: the UHI mechanism is the reduction of convection thereby increasing temperature so radiation can increase to maintain the sum of convective + radiative heat transfer.

    All albedo increase does is to increase the temperature rise for a given radiative component.

    Never in the field of human endeavour have so many got the science so diametrically wrong!

  40. Russ R. says:
    October 11, 2012 at 3:15 pm “If I read this correctly, climate scientists finally admitted 1) that they don’t know what the right value for climate sensitivity is, and 2) that increased cloud cover is a negative feedback.”
    Russ, your second point seems particularly worthy of emphasis. I too am under the impression that the higher values of ‘climate sensitivity’ espoused by the climate establishment depend on increased cloud cover being a positive feedback.
    Air warmed by additional atmospheric CO2 can hold more water vapour, which amplifies the primary warming effect. All the water vapour in the atmosphere (excepting that directly deposited as dew) must condense out to form clouds. More water vapour means more clouds, or thicker clouds or longer-lasting clouds. Clouds influence surface temperatures in two main ways: (1) they reflect sunlight, thus cooling the surface as compared with clear-sky conditions (negative feedback); (2) they intercept out-going longwave radiation, some of which is then re-radiated back to the surface, thus slowing down surface cooling as compared with clear-sky conditions (positive feedback). Both of these processes can be observed qualitatively without any scientific knowledge or specialised equipment. The big question which divides sceptics from warmers is whether (1) or (2) is uppermost.
    If Russ’s understanding of the above press release is correct, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory seems to have stepped out of line and to be taking up a position contrary to climate establishment orthodoxy and more in line with informed climate scepticism.

  41. I agree with the warmists! What we need is a planet-wide solar blocking filter and this can be done very simply. If you take a look at the following solar spectra…

    …you will realise how easy it is. The spectra illustrate how greenhouse gases block direct near infra-red radiation massively reducing radiant solar energy at the Earth’s surface. A by-eye integration and realising that E=hv suggests this is about 50W/m^2. The block is to direct radiation of course. Radiation which is absorbed in the higher layers of the atmosphere is re-radiated iso-tropicaly and most of it goes back out to space, the energy thus temporarily absorbed has a reduced residence time.

    For those of you who have not quite worked it out, we can increase the efficiency of our atmospheric sun block simply by buring more fossil fuels! As most warmists attest there is a supernatural positive feedback effect which leads to greater evaporation and thus water vapour in the atmosphere so we get a subsequent multiplication in the effectiveness of our solar block.

    eco-geek

  42. What springs to mind here is the saying:
    The road to hell is paved with good intentions…

    I wonder when they will remember the concept of nuclear winter and will try for that option.

  43. My experience of the Pacific North-West is that there is no shortage of “sun-block” for at least nine months of the year. Much like the UK… :)

  44. So the AGW lunatics would tell us there’s a tipping point of warmth where, once reached, the temperature runs away, but there is no such cold tipping point where some colder temperature, once reached, would cause an ice age.
    These people know. They know all. Bow before them.

  45. I don’t know about you all, but I, for one, have total confidence that nothing could possibly go wrong. /sarc

  46. Is the caption even right?

    “making the sky brighter and reducing the amount of heat trapped in the atmosphere.”
    It seems to me if you block the radiation going to the dark sea, you’re helping to block energy being transferred into he ocean.

    Then if you have reflected energy from the cloud, it goes into the atmosphere to await its fate. It may be trapped in the atmosphere, it depends what it hits. So lets assume it hits water vapor. Most of the energy will stay there, which will cause the atmosphere to heat.

    How wrong am I.

  47. Coldish says:
    ”Clouds influence surface temperatures in two main ways: (1) they reflect sunlight, thus cooling the surface as compared with clear-sky conditions (negative feedback); (2) they intercept out-going longwave radiation, some of which is then re-radiated back to the surface, thus slowing down surface cooling as compared with clear-sky conditions (positive feedback). Both of these processes can be observed qualitatively without any scientific knowledge or specialised equipment. The big question which divides sceptics from warmers is whether (1) or (2) is uppermost.”

    Well put.

    If I could add another divisive question (at least for me) between warmists and skeptics: Since clouds, water vapor, CO2, and other GHG’s slow cooling of the surface by absorption and radiation of IR, does the addition of CO2 really make an appreciable difference in total GHE globally, especially considering the logarithmic nature of CO2 absorption/emission capacity?

    As you said the process of slowing cooling can be qualitatively observed. Slightly more quantitatively, a simple temperature drop comparison between winter clear-sky night and overcast night reveals the power of clouds to slow radiant heat loss at/near the surface. Similarly, a simple comparison of overnight temperature drop in a desert to a region of high humidity reveals the ability of water vapor to slow cooling at/near the surface. Clouds and water vapor can easily increase downwelling longwave radiation from less than 100 W/m^2 to greater than 300 W/m^2 while a doubling of CO2 is purportedly to increase downwelling longwave radiation by 3.7 W/m^2. Somehow, I doubt that’s significant even in the middle of the Sahara, perhaps adding a few minutes to the cooling time, most everywhere else it seems obvious this small increase would be overwhelmed by changes in clouds and water vapor therefore hardly making a measurable difference.

    http://www.asterism.org/tutorials/tut37%20Radiative%20Cooling.pdf

  48. It never occurs to these people, or if it does they quickly file it away in the distant recesses of their minds, that more sun hitting the earth might be salutary. That the positive effects of warming would greatly outweigh and possible negative ones.

  49. “Opps” – a quote overheard at some future year when these geo-engineering types realized they just flipped us into the next ice age 500 years early

  50. Clouds are a thermodynamically stable entity. If they gained energy over time they would dissipate. If they lost energy they would rain out. Comparing clear air convection (CAC) with cloud-forming convection (CFC), clouds form at low altitudes (perhaps 5000 ft or lower) and CAC reaches altitudes of 15,000 ft or more. So CAC requires more temperature driving force at the surface to boost air parcels to an altitude where radiation to space is important. This means that in daytime clouds provide more negative feedback than CAC. Overall, a cooling effect.

    At night convection stops but the cloud still absorbs radiation from below and still radiates infrared both upward and downward, but the small amount of infrared from the sun is lost, so the cloud migrates upward and the intensity of the radiation it emits is gradually reduced. Overall, a warming effect.

    Which wins out? Gray and Schwartz (2011) found that as long it isn’t raining, it is nearly a wash. But precipitation, especially in the tropics, tips the balance strongly in favor of cooling. All of the talk about cloud albedo misses the big actor – precipitation.

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/albedo_and_olr.pdf

  51. This geo engineering is crazy. I agree with folks here. changing the amount of incoming solar could have many un intended consequences. They should be required to prove its safe before we let them do anything.

    Sadly, we are already geo engineering the planet. We have been for quite some time. We are pouring a substance into the atmosphere that retards outgoing long wave. Murphys law says putting all this c02 in the atmosphere can’t be safe. I suggest folks who want to put c02 into the atmosphere should have to prove its safe.

    hehe

  52. Steven Mosher says:
    October 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    “Sadly, we are already geo engineering the planet. We have been for quite some time. We are pouring a substance into the atmosphere that retards outgoing long wave.”

    Yes it does, Steven. But in a degree insufficient to counter whatever it is that has brought temperatures to a standstill for these past 15 years while CO2 concentrations continue to rise apace.

  53. higley7 said ”

    This is, of course, ignoring the actual Co2 during the 1940s at 440-550 ppm”

    Higley7. How about some references / links for that ?

  54. John Mason said ” “Oops” – a quote overheard at some future year when these geo-engineering types realized they just flipped us into the next ice age 500 years early”

    “types” is a typo. I think you meant “Russian Roulette Players”, though “lunatics” serves just as well.

  55. When I was working on a Masters thesis Scintillation Neutron Detector, I needed to use a laboratory pulse Amplifier, consisting of two “ring-of-three” feedback amps; and coupling high and low cutoff switchable filters for noise optimisation. The Amplifier, which hadn’t been used for years, was supposed to put out pulses up to 100 Volt peak (valves), but I couldn’t get it to more than 90 Volts peak, and it was a whole lot noisier, than the user’s manual claimed.
    My mentor Prof suggested that after so long, perhaps one of the valves might have a low gm, limiting its ability to turn on higher currents. So out came the old “Tube Tester” to check the six valves in the two feedback loops.

    OOoops !! maybe the Tube Tester was also on the fritz, because It would not register hardly any gm at all in in any of the six tubes, and the final power output tube, did have a bit of a blue glow inside.

    A quick check with some brand new valves used in one of the lab oscilloscopes, proved that the Tube Tester was working A-OK. Those Amplifier tubes were DAADN; maybe pumping Neutrinos instead of electrons; yet the pulse amplifier seemed to be working, but not quite up to snuff.

    A brand new set of valves, perked it right up again, and the noise went away, and I easily could get 115 Volt pulses out of it; and no blue glows.

    It is totally amazing just what NEGATIVE FEEDBACK will do for hiding almost any kind of pestilence; including dead valves.

    I dare say, the earth climate feedback system, will eventually notice Jupiter and Saturn going bass ackwards in their orbits, and maybe throw another log on the fire.

    Why are Saturn and Jupiter going backwards; I thought they went around the sun in ellipses; more or less; that epicycle stuff is supposed to be bunkum !

  56. Steven Mosher says:

    October 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    “hehe”
    ============
    It is not Murphys law, so much as the gremlins.

  57. AlecM says:
    October 12, 2012 at 1:02 am
    Philip Bradley: the UHI mechanism is the reduction of convection thereby increasing temperature so radiation can increase to maintain the sum of convective + radiative heat transfer.

    In some cities reduced convection may occur, caused by reduced humidity, as less humid air is denser.

    However, where I live (Perth), the urban area is more humid than surrounding rural areas and convection is greater over the city.

    All albedo increase does is to increase the temperature rise for a given radiative component.

    I think you mean an albedo decrease. And you phrase it like you are disproving my point, when in fact you agreeing with it. Increase albedo and you decrease temperatures.

  58. They’ve been talking about geo-engineering for a long time. Near the beginning of the 20th century, there were plans to melt the Arctic in order to make the climate better.

    Geo-engineering teeters on the looney bin. In fact, it mirrors the paranoia of conspiracy theorists and their HAARP theory that HAARP controls the weather. But since climate is full of so many variables and other things which we do not know about, geoengineering could prove impossible. They won’t change the climate; they’ll likely just spend all our taxpayer money on how they think CO2 is such a pollutant.

  59. Scientists do not know what temperature the earth will reach at equilibrium, because they don’t know how sensitive the planet is to greenhouse gases.

    O’Reilly? Let me give them a clue. The steady downward revisions will not cease until it is not statistically distinguishable from 0.

    The truth will out.

  60. Otter:

    At October 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm you say

    ‘drastic steps to cool the earth would only be necessary if the planet heats up easily with added greenhouse gases‘

    Sort of sounds like an attempt to back out of ‘man-made’ global warming. Anyone else get that sense?

    Oh, YES!
    In fact I provided a guest post on WUWT that made the same suggestion as a method to enable politicians to reverse policy on AGW without the – politically difficult – need to admit they have abandoned AGW.

    My guest post is at

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/08/17/stopping-climate-change/

    It said that research on climate could be re-tasked to investigate aerosol cooling as an excuse for doing nothing about threats of AGW.

    It said, e.g.

    Global temperature has not again reached the high it did in 1998 and has been stable since. But it could start to rise again. If it does then use of one or more of these options could be adopted when global temperature nears 2 degrees Celsius higher than it was at the start of the last century. This would be a cheap and effective counter measure while the needed emission constraints are imposed. Indeed, it would be much cheaper than the emission constraints. It could be started and stopped rapidly, and its effect would be instantaneous (as sunbathers have noticed when a cloud passes in front of the Sun).

    Until then there would be no need for expensive ‘seen to be doing something’ actions such as capturing and storing carbon dioxide. Energy and financial policies would not need to be distorted, and developing countries could be allowed to develop unhindered.

    Indeed, there would be no need to deploy the counter measures unless and until global temperature rises to near the trigger of 2 degrees C rise.

    Unfortunately, few understood the argument and they thought I was suggesting such geoengineering should be adopted!

    Richard

  61. I believe that innovative and creative research is imperative if we want any chance in combatting and adapting to climate change. We are going to need innovative ideas to implement in conjunction with decreasing carbon emissions etc so make our adaptation or journey toward sustainability as efficient as possible. I do believe, however, that there is a fine line between creativity and ideas that are ridiculous and lead to unnecessary wasting of resources and time on ideas. The strategy suggested in this article, to increase cloud formation by human interference in order to reduce sunlight or insolation to bring about cooling has many flaws. Sunlight is essential to many industries and needed and appreciated by all species for life. Perhaps the Fund for Innovative CLimate and Energy Research should put their effort and money more towards ideas that increase earth’s albedo so that sunlight may still reach the surface and fulfill its uses in those various industries or for various species but its heating tendencies will be hampered.

  62. Steven Mosher says:
    October 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    ” I suggest folks who want to put c02 into the atmosphere should have to prove its safe.”

    Just about everybody breathes out CO2, and (I assume) wants to go on doing so as long as they can. I can’t imagine Steven is an exception – I hope not, any way, I enjoy reading his posts too much. So I’m looking forward to reading his proof. Or perhaps he didn’t mean quite that. Maybe he exempts human beings themsleves, just considers what they do.
    No, that can’t be. He must have been joking. Good old Steve. More please.

  63. Dr. Jasper Kirkby of CERN, Explains Prior and Ongoing Atmospheric Geo Engineering by Jet Airplanes

    In the beginning of this video to 22 seconds in, you can see him pointing with his laser pointer to an image example of what cloud patterns look like, that are formed in the sky as a result of, “jets dumping aerosols into the upper atmosphere.” Quote is Dr Jaspery Kirkby.

    “There’s plenty of evidence that large regions of the climate are lacking sufficient aerosol to for clouds. Contrails are a well known example of that. These are not smoke trails, these are clouds which are seeded by jets dumping aerosols into the upper atmosphere.”

    Cosmic rays and climate, CERN

    http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/1181073

  64. The insanity of geoengenering must stop! Why would humans want to mess with this genius system we call atmosphere?

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