Arctic Layer Cake

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

There’s a recent paper paywalled here, called Arctic winter warming amplified by the thermal inversion and consequent low infrared cooling to space. Fortunately, the Supplementary Online Information is available here, and it contains much valuable information. The paper claims that during the arctic winter, the atmospheric radiation doesn’t go out to space … instead it is directed downwards, increasing the surface warming.

Now I haven’t figured out yet how that works, radiation being “directed downwards”. But that’s what they say. From their Abstract: 

We find that the surface inversion in fact intensifies Arctic amplification, because the ability of the Arctic wintertime clear-sky atmosphere to cool to space decreases with inversion strength. Specifically, we find that the cold layers close to the surface in Arctic winter, where most of the warming takes place, hardly contribute to the infrared radiation that goes out to space. Instead, the additional radiation that is generated by the warming of these layers is directed downwards, and thus amplifies the warming. We conclude that the predominant Arctic wintertime temperature inversion damps infrared cooling of the system, and thus constitutes a positive warming feedback.

Hmmm … so their basic claim is that the (poorly named) “greenhouse effect” is strengthened by the temperature inversion in the winter, that this slows the surface cooling, and that as a result the surface ends up warmer than it would otherwise be. A second claim is that the cause of additional Arctic winter downwelling radiation at the surface is a temperature inversion. The third claim is that this Arctic inversion is not unusual, but that there is a “predominate” winter temperature inversion in the Arctic.

Now, all of these claims can be investigated using the CERES satellite radiation dataset. To look at their first claim, I thought I’d follow the lead of the estimable Ramanathan and consider how much of the upwelling radiation from the surface is absorbed during the Arctic summer versus the Arctic winter. Ramanathan proposed the use of this atmospheric absorption of surface radiation as a measure of the strength of the greenhouse effect. Obviously, the more upwelling longwave that is absorbed by the atmosphere, the warmer the surface ends up. Figure 1 shows the strength of the greenhouse effect using Ramanathan’s measurement (absorbed radiation as a percentage of surface radiation) in June and in December.

CERES june atmospheric absorption upwelling longwaveCERES December atmospheric absorption upwelling longwaveFigure 1. Strength of the poorly-named “greenhouse effect”, as measured by the percentage of the surface upwelling longwave radiation (thermal infrared radiation) that is absorbed by the atmosphere. The situation is shown for the month of June (upper panel) and December (lower panel). Following Ramanathan, the absorbed radiation is calculated as the upwelling surface radiation minus the upwelling TOA radiation.

As you might imagine, and can see in Figure 1, the greenhouse effect is strongest where there is water. As a result, the effect is strongest in the tropics, and is stronger over the ocean than over the land. For the same reason, the greenhouse effect is weaker over the deserts and at the poles.

Now, their claim is that there is additional greenhouse warming in the Arctic in the wintertime compared to the summertime, slowing the radiative cooling of the surface. However, the CERES data disagrees, and indeed it shows the opposite. The CERES data says that at both poles, the greenhouse effect is stronger in the summertime, not weaker. This makes sense, because there is more water vapor in the air in the summer.

Note also that while there are areas of temperature inversions (shown in blue), and they do occur in a few areas in the Arctic winter(lower panel), they are not a general feature of the Arctic. On the other hand, large areas of the Antarctic do have a temperature inversion in winter (upper panel, blue). 

So the CERES data doesn’t agree with the study regarding the slowed cooling in winter. The CERES data says the opposite, that cooling is easier in winter because less upwelling surface longwave is absorbed by the atmosphere. Nor does the Arctic temperature inversion seem to be as widespread or pervasive as the authors state.

Next, they claim increased downwelling longwave at the surface in the Arctic winter. To investigate this claim, Figure 2 shows the June and December downwelling longwave surface radiation, once again as a percentage of the upwelling longwave surface radiation.

CERES June surface downwelling as percent of upwellingCERES December surface downwelling as percent of upwellingFigure 2. Downwelling surface longwave radiation as a percentage of the upwelling longwave surface radiation, June (upper panel) and December (lower panel).

The main oddity in Figure 2 is that most places, most of the time, the downwelling radiation is about 86-88%, with not much difference summer to winter or place to place, particularly in the ocean. I wouldn’t have guessed that. Note that Figure 2 also reveals the widespread winter temperature inversion in the Antarctic winter (upper panel, red) indicated by downwelling longwave radiation exceeding upwelling surface radiation, and the lack of such a widespread inversion in the Arctic winter (lower panel, red).

More to the current point, we have a curiosity related to the authors’ claims about the Arctic. Note that in Antarctica in the wintertime (upper panel) there is a marked increase in the downwelling radiation as a percentage of the surface radiation compared to their summer (lower panel). The difference is large, 98% versus 64%. Presumably, this is the increased downwelling that they describe in their paper (although as expected the upwelling also increases).

But in the Arctic, where the paper claims this phenomenon of increased downwelling radiation is occurring, there is no difference between the downwelling surface longwave in the summer and the winter (88% in both cases).

So we do in fact find the phenomenon they point to of increasing downwelling radiation  … but we don’t find it in the Arctic as they claim, we find it at the opposite pole.

Summary

1. Their claim, that there is “reduced cooling” in the arctic in wintertime that affects the surface temperature, is not supported by the CERES data. To the contrary, the CERES data shows the Arctic radiative cooling is much more rapid in the winter than the summer, because the atmosphere is absorbing much less radiation. Note that this is what we’d expect, due to the reduced amount of water vapor in winter.

2. Their claim, that the Arctic temperature inversion is widespread, is not supported by the CERES data. It shows general wintertime temperature inversion in the Antarctic, but not in the Arctic.

3. Their claim, that the Arctic downwelling longwave radiation increases in the winter, is not supported by the CERES data. Curiously, it is true in the Antarctic. In the Arctic, however, there is almost no difference between summer and winter.

Now, how did they get this so wrong? From their methods section (emphasis mine):

An often used method to increase the signal-to-noise (i.e. climate change- to-variability) ratio is to study multi-model output, such as those obtained in the CMIP3 initiative for ‘realistic’ forcing scenarios. The general idea then is to apply statistics on the multitude of independent members (individual models) to reduce the noise, and also to use intermodel differences to relate climate processes to feedbacks2.

Another method, the one employed here, is to use one climate model and apply a sufficiently large forcing (e.g. 2xCO2) to obtain a climate change signal that is much larger than the noise. The advantage of this approach is that dedicated experiments can be carried out, including changing certain model processes in order to link these to feedbacks (as is done in this study).

So … as usual, rather than mess with ugly observational data, it’s models all the way down. Actually it’s worse, it’s the output of one single solitary model all the way down. Or as a typical adulatory media report of the story says:

Pithan and co-author Thorsten Mauritsen tested air layering and many other Arctic climate feedback effects using sophisticated climate computer models.

Hey, as long they used a sophisticated climate model, and it is reportedly “based on true physics” in the best Hollywood tradition, what’s not to like?

Best to everyone,

w.

The Usual Request: If you disagree with something I say, please quote my exact words so we know what you are referring to. I can defend my own words. I cannot defend some vague claim like “Willis, your logic is wrong”. It may well be … but we’ll never find out unless you quote exactly the logical claims I made that you don’t like.

Data and Code: CERES calculated surface data (in R “save()” format) is here, 110Mbytes. and the CERES measured TOA data is here, 230 Mbytes. CERES Setup.R and CERES Functions.R are needed for the analysis. Finally, the code for this post is Arctic Amplification.R

Also, it’s worth noting that while the CERES top-of-atmosphere data is from measurements, the surface data is calculated from the TOA data using energy balance considerations. Obviously, a global set of observational surface radiation data would be wonderful … but since we haven’t got that, the CERES data is the best we have.

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144 thoughts on “Arctic Layer Cake

  1. “Another method, the one employed here, is to use one climate model and apply a sufficiently large forcing (e.g. 2xCO2) to obtain a climate change signal that is much larger than the noise. The advantage of this approach is that dedicated experiments can be carried out, including changing certain model processes in order to link these to feedbacks (as is done in this study).”

    Even I, a non-scientist, can tell that this is ABSOLUTE BS.

    Apply a sufficiently large forcing to get the answer that they want.
    “The advantage of this approach is that ONE CAN MAKE UP ANYTHING AS NEEDED.”
    Fixed it for them.

  2. At least it gives one useful result: The prediction from analyzing the model disagrees with observation. Therefore the model is wrong.

  3. Peer-checked paper. Now, who were the “peers” who checked it?

    Who pays the peer-reviewers’ salaries? Who are they in debt to now?

    What did THEY say and what did THEY criticize and what did THEY “approve without checking” based on the author’s “reputation” as “scientists”?

  4. “Aristotle wrote that heavy objects fell more rapidly. Europeans believed him for two thousand years.” Benjamin Crowell

    Thanks to Willis, we don’t need to wait two thousand years for climate-hacks to be corrected. LOL

    Why don’t you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don’t you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don’t you say something righteous and hopeful for a change? Oddball, Kelly’s Heroes

  5. What a load of bollocks.
    Every single piece of common sense evidence tells us that during the Arctic Winter (i.e. 24 hr darkness and sub-zero temperatures) ‘infra red’ energy will be in short supply…its ‘suppression’ and subsequent ‘warming’ effect..is at best negligible and at worst absurd.
    There is a ring of desperation creeping into their theorising…a sound I adore.

  6. What is the source of this long wave radiation in the artic during the winter where the sun doesn’t shine for days on end? Open water/ground heat from the previous summer’s heating?

  7. BioBob said @ February 3, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    “Aristotle wrote that heavy objects fell more rapidly. Europeans believed him for two thousand years.” Benjamin Crowell

    It’s possible that was because it’s true! As Galileo found out when he conducted the experiment of dropping a wooden cannonball and an iron cannonball of the same diameter. Initially the wooden cannonball fell faster before being overtaken by the iron cannonball. Interestingly Galileo reported his results even though he had previously believed that both “ought” to arrive at the ground simultaneously. The real world is tough on theory and experiments :-)

  8. “Thanks, Ren but … say what? According to your linked graph, the units are microSieverts … it shows radiation, not pressure.”

    More important than the temperature value is its distribution over the the polar circle.

  9. I was gonna say :Once again, turtles models all the way down, but you already said it. Nice work, Willis.

  10. You damn genius Willis – brilliant work sir! But the bad news – you will not be getting on their Christmas card list – again.

  11. BioBob 10:32pm

    When Aristotle created his universe he had Chaos stratify into four layers — topmost fire, below fire was air, below air was water and under water was earth. These four elements each had their place and remained in it unless moved by an outside force. So if a bit of fire was moved downward it would struggle to regain its proper place and move back upward. If a bit of earth was lifted up, when released, it would go downward to regain its proper place. So also for air and water. If they were moved out of their place they would seek to return to it.

    Most things that man dealt with were compound bodies — bodies composed of parts of all four elements. How fast a body fell was determined by how much of each element it had that was struggling to go upward and how much of each element it had that was struggling to go downward.
    So to say it simply, a compound body that contained a lot of fire was slowed in its fall downward because the fire was working to go upward. A compound body with little fire did not face such a great impediment.

    Earth was the heaviest element so compound bodies with a lot of earth weighed more BUT THE WEIGHT ITSELF WAS NOT THE REASON THE COMPOUND BODY MOVED DOWNWARD.

    To make this clear if for some reason Aristotle had given the element earth place as the outer most layer and below it water and below water next came air and below air, at the very center was fire — fire would draw all compound bodies that contained fire DOWNWARD. And fire being the lightest element — this would mean that compound bodies that contained the most fire would fall the fastest. IN OTHER WORDS THE LIGHTEST BODIES WOULD FALL THE FASTEST.

    There is a total misunderstanding of “movement” in academic writing about Aristotle because the academics don’t understand how Aristotle created his universe — how he sets the whole thing up.

    There is no gravity in Aristotle — only elements moved out of their proper place and seeking to return to it..

    Eugene WR Gallun

  12. Couple of silly layman questions; if there is no sunlight, what is making the ozone?
    If a surface is radiating over any specific band of radiation how is able to absorb that band of radiation from any other source?

  13. “Specifically, we find that the cold layers close to the surface in Arctic winter, where most of the warming takes place, hardly contribute to the infrared radiation that goes out to space. ”

    …So if something is cold it contributes less to warming? Er..yes..and?
    …Cold layers where most of the warming takes place? What?

  14. Hey Willis , why don’t you try to find a study where models get something right, it would probably be quicker than listing everything they get wrong ;)

    Seriously, well spotted. AGW apologists seem to have retreated into the fantasy world of model output since there’s nothing in the observational data to support it any more.

    “Note also that while there are areas of temperature inversions (shown in blue)…”

    I’m not sure you imply temperature inversion at surface from TOA radiation budget. How would such data distinguish between a temp inv at the surface or higher in the troposphere or some difference in stratosphere? TOA is the net sum of all layers, how do the blue bits tell us about surface conditions?

    The big flaw in the paper’s argument (apart from not using any DATA) is that temperature inversion’s main effect would be to suppress _convection_ not radiation. And that could conceivably cause slower cooling in winter.

    If there is such an effect in REAL DATA then this may help explain polar amplification

    In reality , with the tropopause getting very low in winter and with the stirring of the blizzards and the polar vortex I expect there is not that much stratification.

  15. noaaprogrammer says:
    February 3, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    What is the source of this long wave radiation in the artic during the winter where the sun doesn’t shine for days on end? Open water/ground heat from the previous summer’s heating?

    Good question, NOAAP. The heat is transported to the poles from the tropics by the atmosphere and the ocean. See my post here for a discussion.

    w.

  16. Hmmm … so their basic claim is that the (poorly named) “greenhouse effect” is strengthened by the temperature inversion in the winter, that this slows the surface cooling, and that as a result the surface ends up warmer than it would otherwise be.

    Well, the inversion is the greenhouse effect – it does not “strengthen” it.

    Without the polar downwelling radiation, the surface temperature would be about 45K. The only reason that it stays a moderate -70C (203K) is the downwelling radiation. This is very clear when you look at the radiosonde data.

    The other contribution to polar winter warmth is clouds. When there is no Sun for 6 months, the clouds all but stop thermal radiation from the surface to space. I don’t think the satellite data correctly provides that data.

    A second claim is that the cause of additional Arctic winter downwelling radiation at the surface is a temperature inversion.

    That’s backwards. The downwelling radiation produces the temperature inversion.

    The third claim is that this Arctic inversion is not unusual, but that there is a “predominate” winter temperature inversion in the Arctic.

    That is absolutely true. The radiosonde data demonstrates that quite clearly.

  17. noaaprogrammer says:

    What is the source of this long wave radiation in the artic during the winter where the sun doesn’t shine for days on end? Open water/ground heat from the previous summer’s heating?

    ===

    I would have thought the contraction of the Arctic air mass (which gives rise to the ‘night-time’ polar vortex) bringing in warmer air from lower latitudes. This warmth would obviously radiate in all directions including downwards.

    I think this is what they are trying to convey in the abstract, though it is so badly worded it’s not at all clear whether that is a correct interpretation.

  18. Temperature anomalies result from the decomposition of ozone over the Arctic Circle. Temperature in the Arctic increases when the polar vortex is weak and shifted. Only then warm air can overcome the barrier jet stream.

  19. “…. where the sun doesn’t shine for days on end”

    parts of the Arctic do not get direct ground level insolation for varying lengths of time, however, that does not mean that the stratosphere and higher parts of the troposphere are not illuminated.

  20. Willis
    My hypothesis why there’s greater “greenhouse effect” in winter at Antarctica is due to more pronounced ozone depletion cooling. The ‘greenhouse effect’ is defined here as upwelling surface radiation minus upwelling TOA radiation. Then divided by the former. During winter there’s less solar radiation hence more pronounced cooling of stratosphere and troposphere, plus additional warming of surface from ozone depletion. This decreases TOA radiation and increases surface radiation. Therefore this is not really due to greenhouse gases but to the ozone hole.

  21. One gets the impression that somewhere is a smoke-filled war room where increasingly desperate AGW supremos are struggling to put out fires ad maintain the crumbling credibility of the whole AGW narrative. This time they have woken up to the fact that convection and IR might dominate heat loss at the Arctic rather than only albedo as they complacently imagined up to now. So increased open sea in the Arctic summer loses heat by convection and IR rather than gaining it by reduced ice albedo – i.e. the feedback in negative, not positive as the AGW shareholders require and demand. Thus the haste to rush out a story about some bizzare new physics about some Alice-in-Wonderland atmospheric IR umbrella over the Arctic.

    Willis with usual skill shows that the merest brush with real data brings the whole fabrication crashing down.

  22. Greg says:
    February 4, 2014 at 12:38 am

    “…. where the sun doesn’t shine for days on end”

    parts of the Arctic do not get direct ground level insolation for varying lengths of time, however, that does not mean that the stratosphere and higher parts of the troposphere are not illuminated.

    Thanks, Greg. I think that’s a difference that doesn’t make a lot of difference. The tropopause in the Arctic is at something like 10 km or so. A line tangent to the surface of the planet has an altitude of 10 km after traveling about 360 km, which is about 3° of latitude. You’ll get a bit more from the bending of the light rays, call it 4°.

    So everything more than about 4° north of the terminator will be in total darkness including the atmosphere. On December 31st, that would be everything north of about 70°North … which is about 70% the area above the Arctic Circle.

    Regards,

    w.

  23. Another method, the one employed here, is to use one climate model and apply a sufficiently large forcing (e.g. 2xCO2) to obtain a climate change signal that is much larger than the noise. Unfortunately this also means that the model is operating well outside its calibration ranges, but c’est la vie.

  24. “The heat is transported to the poles from the tropics by the atmosphere and the ocean.”
    This is entirely consistent with the observations. You should not multiply theory.

  25. “1. Their claim, that there is “reduced cooling” in the arctic in wintertime that affects the surface temperature, is not supported by the CERES data. To the contrary, the CERES data shows the Arctic radiative cooling is much more rapid in the winter than the summer, because the atmosphere is absorbing much less radiation. Note that this is what we’d expect, due to the reduced amount of water vapor in winter.”

    The data here tends to suggest that there is reduced cooling in winter: http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php
    For most years since 2005 the winter temperatures above 80 degs north have been above the 1954-2014 average.

  26. Reckon any of these here Climate Scientists will submit a letter to this journal, pointing out this inconvenient truth? Hard bits been done by Willis, all they have to do is a quick copy & paste.

  27. …Now, how did they get this so wrong?…

    I understand that Nature has the facility for people to submit ‘letters arising’ comments on papers. It might be interesting to submit the item above as a ‘letter arising’, and see if Nature deals with it in a similar way to the way it suppressed the McIntyre hockey-stick take-down…

  28. “Now I haven’t figured out yet how that works, radiation being “directed downwards”.”

    Oh Willis, Willis, Willis! It isn’t directed downwards but is attracted downwards by the same Earthian gravitational attraction that draws the heat down into the hidden depths of the ocean without warming up the matter that the heat passes through.

  29. Willis: “So everything more than about 4° north of the terminator will be in total darkness including the atmosphere. On December 31st, that would be everything north of about 70°North … which is about 70% the area above the Arctic Circle.”

    Thanks for providing some numbers. 70% of the area is a fairly significant difference from 100% at ground level. And that’s near the solstice maximum dark period. The average over a longer period will be more important.

    Another aspect of this that AFAIK gets ignored is surface reflection at grazing incident angle. This can be 80-90% of incident radiation at low angles like 10 degrees which occurs in these polar winter conditions.

    This radiation will then hit the _underside_ of any cloud cover and also get absorbed in part by the atmosphere. This would also add to the downward IR.

    Since instruments on satellites have to be protected when opposite the sun this does not get properly measured and likely is not represented in the CERES data.

    Reflection from the surface of melt pools in summer also is unaccounted for in the major models.

  30. noaaprogrammer says:
    February 3, 2014 at 10:37 pm
    What is the source of this long wave radiation in the artic during the winter where the sun doesn’t shine for days on end?

    I can name one place where the sun don’t shine. Maybe they got it from there.

  31. “Their claim, that the Arctic temperature inversion is widespread, is not supported by the CERES data.”

    It might help to use a more appropriate tool, for example radiosonde observations or reanalysis data.

  32. When I read the list of recent posts I always know when they are yours Willis, just by the title.
    I have been 100% right so far. Thanks for the posts.

  33. If I recall correctly don’t inversions cause warming by limiting convection, rather than radiation? Is there a basic science problem here?

  34. Only changes in the polar vortex are ozone during the polar night could cause changes circulation in the troposphere and the influx of warm air over the the Arctic Circle.

  35. Sounds like a rehash of that crap GHG theory. Radiation from the Arctic will not be the average 240W/m2 but far lower. The maximum radiation to space is from tropical regions because the temperature is higher. The rate of heat loss is proportional to the 4th power of the temperature difference.
    Radiation does not come from the surface either as there is a more efficient method of heat loss– convection.

  36. I agree with Mr Nelson! Absolute imho!

    “using sophisticated climate computer models.”

    Sophist: A paid teacher of philosophy in ancient Greece, a reasoner willing to avail himself of fallacies that will help his case.
    Sophisticated: spoil the purity or simplicity or naturalness of: corrupt or adulterate or tamper with!
    Simulate/Simulation: Feign, pretend to have or were the guise of, or act the part of, counterfeit, having the appearance of, shadowy likeness or mere pretence of unreal thing!
    Represent/Representation: Call up by description or portrayal or imagination, figure. place, likeness of or before mind of senses, serve or be meant as likeness of, state by way of expostulation or incentive, symbolize, act as embodiment of, be specimen of, work of art portraying, fill place of, substitute for!

    What wonders computer models are! (sarc off!)

  37. This is a great finding for the folks at geoscience. Anyone told them they can swim to the North Pole in winter? After all, the Russians have that really big icebreaker. Better, maybe they’ll join the Southern Loons and charter another cruise?

  38. Thanks, Willis. As a layman I lack your skills with computers and even basic math, but simply eyeballing the maps on the DMI home page at http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/index.uk.php all winter, I can observe what actually happens. What I observe is heat vanishing fairly quickly.

    It seems to me that, because the sun doesn’t shin up there in the winter, any downward-infrared-heat must be from milder air imported from further south. I can see these invasions of air occur on the DMI maps. Because Siberian and Alaskan and Canadian tundra is so cold, the invasions come from the far milder Atlantic and Pacific. (A surge of Atlantic mildness is moving up the west coast of Norway as I now type.) When this air makes it to the Pole it can be surprisingly mild for the dead of winter. (On a few occasions I’ve watched the above-freezing isotherm get north of Svalbard.) However such air chills very quickly. Within a two or three days it has cooled ten or twenty degrees. It is therefore hard to visualize any downward-infrared-heat doing any “warming.” If such a warming is occurring it must be overwhelmed by other chilling effects.

    In any case, when I first heard about the paper you discuss I had the sense something didn’t smell right. Unfortunately it is quite possible, due my weaknesses with computers and math, to baffle me with bull. It takes me a long time, sometimes years, (as was the case with various “albedo” papers,) to figure things out. Therefore it is a great relief to see you discuss issues so swiftly and succinctly. Thanks again.

  39. “There is no gravity in Aristotle — only elements moved out of their proper place and seeking to return to it..”

    You say that as if it is wrong, but it is not. There is no gravity, only bodies seeking to maintain their shortest proper time through space-time. A body moves through space-time so as its clock shows the shortest duration of time. Matter causes space-time to bend so that this trajectory will be curved through space-time. This looks to us as an acceleration through space.

    How prescient was Aristotle!

  40. Don’t these people understand that when you ‘use one climate model and apply a sufficiently large forcing (e.g. 2xCO2) to obtain a climate change signal’, you only get to see what the modeller programmed? Presumtions in stead of real life measurements. The disgrace.
    Who will finally unmask these climate clowns to the public at large?!

    And how they can look at themselves in the mirror and not be ashamed or at least slightly embarassed, is beyond me. Scientists these days…

    Will the next Copernicus please stand up?

  41. I am not a scientist nor do I play one on TV but:

    “Another method, the one employed here, is to use one climate model and apply a sufficiently large forcing (e.g. 2xCO2) to obtain a climate change signal that is much larger than the noise. The advantage of this approach is that dedicated experiments can be carried out, including changing certain model processes in order to link these to feedbacks (as is done in this study).”

    Really?

  42. Chuck L says:

    “Really?”

    I second that sentiment, they might as well of said: Another method, the one employed here, is to dispense with reality and inject one that we prefer.

    Peer review … (sigh)

  43. “Kahl et al., after analyzing 40 years of data and almost 30,000 measurements, determined that, in autumn and winter, the Arctic inversions have become significantly more stable and more common (Figure 2). The 41-year trend toward stronger inversions arrives from a combination of surface cooling and warming at about 5,000 feet. Inversions have strengthened by about 4.5�C, which represents almost half of the wintertime inversion strength common in the Arctic. So not only are there more inversions, but they’re twice as strong as they used to be.”

    http://www.worldclimatereport.com/archive/previous_issues/vol2/v2n10/hot.htm

  44. Characteristics of water-vapour inversions observed over the Arctic by Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) and radiosondes:
    “We found that the frequency of occurrence of water-vapour inversions is highest during winter and lowest during summer. The inversion strength is, however, higher during summer. The observed peaks in the median inversion-layer heights are higher during the winter half of the year, at around 850 hPa over most of the Arctic Ocean, Siberia and the Canadian Archipelago, while being around 925 hPa during most of the summer half of the year over the Arctic Ocean.”

    https://airs.jpl.nasa.gov/news_archive/2012-02-17-Water_Vapor-Inversions-Over-Arctic/

  45. I worked underground in a goldmine in Yellowknife, NWT (62.4 deg N) in 1980.
    In January, going ‘below the collar’ at 8:00 AM and coming back to surface at 3:45 PM meant no daylight Monday to Friday. The sun was seen only on weekends and was a pale, cold light with no direct rays.

    My daily observation at 3:45 PM +- 5 minutes was interesting in that darkness gradually gave way to more and more light and then higher and higher sun as the weeks progressed. The daily change in length of day is so dramatic at those latitudes that you could observe a daily change. It certainly demonstrated how ancient astronomers may have been struck by the progress of the heavens through a coincidence of daily habits and effects like the shadows of buildings.

  46. I’ve been working with the reannalysis data set at http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl. It has values for temperature and specific humidity as a function of pressure level. There is an inversion in the arctic especially in winter. The data set contains SST (skin surface temperature) and OLR (Outbound Longwave Radiation) at the TOA (Top of the Atmosphere). You can calculate the black body radiation at the surface from SST. Water vapor and CO2 will be radiating at the air temperature at the different pressure levels. Those molecules gain their energy from collisions with air molecules. They radiate both up and down and because they are radiating from the upper levels, more energy will be lost to space than transmitted to the surface. That which reaches the surface is reradiated through an atmosphere containing very little water vapor. My analysis of these data indicates that CO2 enhances OLR in the Arctic because it is radiating nearer to the TOA. Do your on analysis and come to your own conclusions.

  47. Willis, I think this is related in terms of down-welling radiation. The article is from NOAA and was posted a few years back and would appear to show from observations that down-welling radiation was not very affective at warming things up.

    Arctic summer time the puzzling summer of 2003

    http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/essay_untersteiner2.html

    “…The onset of melting usually occurs in early June, when the temperature reaches 0°C and the surface layer turns into a constant-temperature ice bath. In 2002, the temperature record shows an abrupt warming to about 0°C, on 24 May, suggesting an early arrival of the melt season. The warming event coincides with about a week of low short-wave (250 Wm-2) and high long-wave (300 Wm-2) down-welling radiation, which are typical of low overcast conditions. The web cam pictures of that period confirm the overcast. Both radiation and temperature values remained in the normal range for the rest of the summer, and freeze-up occurred as usual in the last week of August. Based on the early warming event in May, one may have expected an early onset of surface melting. Contrary to that expectation, the web cams show that it was not until late July 2002 when the snow cover took on a soggy appearance and isolated melt ponds appeared on the surface.
    For the rest of the summer, the web cam pictures show only insignificant melt pond coverage until the deposition of new snow in late August. The pictures clearly show that snow from the preceding winter survived the entire summer, and we must assume that there was no, or very little, ice ablation at the surface.”

    “…Soviet (Russian) records suggest a small probability of an all-summer snow cover. But none of the U.S. ice camps experienced a persistent summer snow. In light of recent news about global warming and polar amplification, the all-summer snow cover of 2002 is clearly unexpected.”

    “Observations from the North Pole in summer 2003
    Like the summer of 2002, the subsequent summer of 2003 also shows a somewhat belated (end of June) appearance of melt ponds but, by the first week of July, pond coverage was wide spread (Fig. 3).
    Unexpectedly, toward the end of July, pond coverage decreased markedly (Fig. 4) while radiation and air temperatures were still at their normal summer values. A possible explanation is that the ice had become sufficiently porous for the melt water ponds to drain by percolation.
    However, in mid-August the melt ponds re-appeared (see Fig. 5 in link), putting in question the hypothetical pond drainage by percolation.”

  48. Chuck L says . . .” really?”
    If I read you right, please finish your story about the arrogant leaf – it struck a chord with me. If I read you wrong . . . well, I guess this won’t make any sense.

  49. RE: noaaprogrammer says:
    February 3, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    *** What is the source of this long wave radiation in the artic during the winter where the sun doesn’t shine for days on end? Open water/ground heat from the previous summer’s heating?***

    Any object above absolute zero emits long wave radiation. The amount is proportional to the temperature or heat content. Therefore less long wave radiation is emitted during the winter, but it is still emitted. Open water will emit more than snow as it comes from the depths not just the surface. This is why there is an inversion in the polar areas during the winter season. Cloud will decrease the amount emitted and reflect or radiate it back down.

  50. Gerald Machnee says:
    February 4, 2014 at 7:02 am
    “Any object above absolute zero emits long wave radiation. The amount is proportional to the temperature or heat content. ”

    Not proprtional, but rising with the 4th power of absolute temperature (Stefan-Boltzmann law).

  51. Arctic Layer Cake?
    That gives me the best excuse yet to remind UK readers “They always said Numbers aren’t a problem. You can count on Arctic Roll”

  52. Dear Willis, It is good to see more data that the peer reviewed members of the 97% consensus are model scientist. Not the reality is in the observations set. Your analysis article is an enjoyable gem. One does wonder who were the peer’s who reviewed, maybe they should resign. But that is not the Nature of things. Keep up the good work.

  53. Inverting the scientific method?
    Bintanja et al. (2014) claim to have found “Arctic winter warming amplified by the thermal inversion and consequent low infrared cooling to space.”
    From Willis’ analysis above, the “predominant Arctic wintertime temperature inversion” claimed by Bintanja et al., appears instead to be an inversion of the scientific method.

    Nature journals’ peer review policies include:

    To be published in a Nature journal, a paper should meet four general criteria:
    Provides strong evidence for its conclusions.
    Novel (we do not consider meeting report abstracts and preprints on community servers to compromise novelty).
    Of extreme importance to scientists in the specific field.
    Ideally, interesting to researchers in other related disciplines.
    In general, to be acceptable, a paper should represent an advance in understanding likely to influence thinking in the field.

    (Emphasis added)
    Bintanja et al’s claim that “the additional radiation that is generated by the warming of these layers is directed downwards” is definitely “novel”. Willis has also found it definitely “interesting”. Bintanja et al. appear to have taken the first step in Richard Feynman’s description of the scientific method – to “guess it”. However, they do not yet appear to have tested their model against observations, as done above by Willis.

    The key question now for Nature Geoscience editors is to decide whether “model” results constitute “strong evidence”! Will Nature Geoscience maintain its “peer review” policies or will the editors and reviewers seek to restore the scientific method where evidence trumps models, as evidenced above by Eschenbach’s “amateur” science review?

  54. Vince Causey says:
    February 4, 2014 at 3:26 am
    “You say that as if it is wrong, but it is not. There is no gravity, only bodies seeking to maintain their shortest proper time through space-time. A body moves through space-time so as its clock shows the shortest duration of time. Matter causes space-time to bend so that this trajectory will be curved through space-time. This looks to us as an acceleration through space.”

    …the relativists had to claim that space is “curved” (into what dimension?) to explain that a massless particle/wave (the photon) is influenced by gravity. So they had to discard the description of gravity as a force and had to introduce “curvature”. “Curvature” must either be an intrinsic property of space or it must be a “bending” into some higher dimension, otherwise, into what direction would it bend? How many extra dimensions do we need? At least two if we want to describe the degrees of freedom necessary for arbitrary photon bending. So the spacetime continuum must be 6dimensional or higher if “curvature” is a real distortion of Euclidian geometry.

    Peronsally I think something went wrong a while back and it’s all a bunch of baloney.

  55. Robert Clemenzi says:
    February 4, 2014 at 12:17 am
    Hmmm … so their basic claim is that the (poorly named) “greenhouse effect” is strengthened by the temperature inversion in the winter, that this slows the surface cooling, and that as a result the surface ends up warmer than it would otherwise be.

    Well, the inversion is the greenhouse effect – it does not “strengthen” it.

    Without the polar downwelling radiation, the surface temperature would be about 45K. The only reason that it stays a moderate -70C (203K) is the downwelling radiation. This is very clear when you look at the radiosonde data.

    ***************************************

    Can you do an energy balance to support you idea?

  56. Figure 2. Downwelling surface longwave radiation as a percentage of the upwelling longwave surface radiation, June (upper panel) and December (lower panel).

    ****************************************

    These figures show areas where the downwelling surface radiation as a percentage of the upwelling longwave surface radiation, June (upper panel) and December (lower panel) exceed 100%.

    Why does that strike me as odd? How can you get more of something when the most you can get is 100% and that assumes 100% efficiency of the energy transfers….

  57. Even I can vaguely recall black body basics from one of the upper division Physics courses I took 30 years ago. Apparently the authors either did not take such a course, or if they did, ignored it.

  58. “So the spacetime continuum must be 6dimensional or higher if “curvature” is a real distortion of Euclidian geometry.”

    Have you seen the series “Through the wormhole” (hosted by that fine scientist Morgan Freeman)? There have been so many physicists with pet theories involving parallel universes that exist in other dimensions that I would suspend disbelief. There was even a prediction of gravity from parallel universes affecting galaxy motion in our own – and such an observation has actually been made (gravity is supposed to move across dimensions as easily as a knife through butter).

    Interesting stuff.

  59. Willis, I second the notion that this should be submitted for publication as a letters comment. The Ceres data is freely available. That the authors got published on the basis of a single GCM is amazing. EVERY other such article I have read ( perhaps now over 50) involves discussing results of some modification to a GCM like superparameterization or regional downscaling. These always compared the modified model results to observation. That there is no observational comparison is just awful. Model runs by themselves should never be termed experiments, as they were here.
    Very nice, fast rebuttal.

  60. I think this study is proof of Lindzen’s recent observation – “I’ve asked very frequently at universities: ‘Of the brightest people you know, how many people were studying climate [...or meteorology or oceanography...]?’ And the answer is usually ‘No one.’”

  61. “2xC02″ used here. Well, that also shows that their fudging with C02’s effects have an asymmetry in their radiative processes in the models. Now that they have separated the ‘model’s climate signal’ from the noise we can easily conclude that they have programmed the model incorrectly. The radiation must radiate in all directions equally. This clearly implies that the given model can and should not be used until this asymmetry is removed.

  62. Robert Clemenzi says:
    Without the polar downwelling radiation, the surface temperature would be about 45K. The only reason that it stays a moderate -70C (203K) is the downwelling radiation. This is very clear when you look at the radiosonde data.
    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    45K?This has the aspect of unsupported theory. It is “very clear” that radiosonde data will not support your theoretical claims here.

    You have also ignored the heat transported into the Arctic by the Gulf Stream, which is the primary source of heat to the Arctic in winter. Again, 45K? seems as a rather extravagant assertion, and quite bald.

  63. The Pompous Git says:
    February 3, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Most historians believe that Galileo never actually conducted the Tower of Pisa experiment described by his disciple Viviani. Those who do think he did imagine his using a larger & smaller ball of the same material (presumably iron), not a wooden ball of the same size & shape as an iron one, or that he used a larger iron cannon ball & smaller but denser lead musket ball. But maybe there is a reference to wood that escaped me.

    I hope a physicist will correct me if wrong, but IMO a wooden ball would not initially fall faster & be overtaken by a heavier metal ball. I have not conducted the experiment myself, but suppose that air resistance would affect the less dense object from the start, so that it would not initially fall more rapidly.

    GG knew about air resistance, so that a denser object of the same shape would hit the ground before the less dense one. He wrote however that the slight difference in this result did not show Aristotle to be correct, since the ancient philosopher predicted a much greater difference.

  64. Better to see how the temperature rise in the upper part zone on the ozone a temperature increase level of 250 hPa-jet stream. This means further inhibition of the jet stream. Science, science, and the winter will be long.

  65. The Pompous Git says:
    February 3, 2014 at 10:50 pm (replying to)

    BioBob said @ February 3, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    “Aristotle wrote that heavy objects fell more rapidly. Europeans believed him for two thousand years.” Benjamin Crowell

    It’s possible that was because it’s true! As Galileo found out when he conducted the experiment of dropping a wooden cannonball and an iron cannonball of the same diameter. Initially the wooden cannonball fell faster before being overtaken by the iron cannonball. Interestingly Galileo reported his results even though he had previously believed that both “ought” to arrive at the ground simultaneously. The real world is tough on theory and experiments :-)

    John Tillman says:
    February 4, 2014 at 8:13 am

    We believe that Galileo’s “real world experiment” was actually held – wonders of modern “models” physics was actually “experimental” in some areas! – but that he used a long inclined board to slow the heavy and light spheres and allow the difference in times to be seen. (No stopwatches, no light-activated timers below the very short tower of Pisa.)

    Slowed by the inclined plane, any two balls of equal size but vastly different weights would not be greatly affected by air resistance.

  66. M Seward says
    Can you moderate my name to “M Seward” in the previous post! Sad isn’t it?

    I’ll have some of whatever he’s having….

  67. RE: DirkH says:
    February 4, 2014 at 7:05 am

    Gerald Machnee says:
    February 4, 2014 at 7:02 am
    “Any object above absolute zero emits long wave radiation. The amount is proportional to the temperature or heat content. ”

    Not proprtional, but rising with the 4th power of absolute temperature (Stefan-Boltzmann law).

    OK. I do not remember the amount. I should have said ‘Increases”.

  68. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 4, 2014 at 12:11 am

    noaaprogrammer says:
    February 3, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    What is the source of this long wave radiation in the artic during the winter where the sun doesn’t shine for days on end? Open water/ground heat from the previous summer’s heating?

    Good question, NOAAP. The heat is transported to the poles from the tropics by the atmosphere and the ocean. See my post here for a discussion.

    ren says:
    February 4, 2014 at 1:10 am

    “The heat is transported to the poles from the tropics by the atmosphere and the ocean.”

    This is entirely consistent with the observations. You should not multiply theory.

    Multiply theory? What the heck does that mean? Is that like

    3 * E = M C 2 / (1/3)

    In any case, I was answering a direct question, so what’s your point?

    w.

  69. Robert Clemenzi says:
    February 4, 2014 at 12:17 am

    Hmmm … so their basic claim is that the (poorly named) “greenhouse effect” is strengthened by the temperature inversion in the winter, that this slows the surface cooling, and that as a result the surface ends up warmer than it would otherwise be.

    Well, the inversion is the greenhouse effect – it does not “strengthen” it.

    Thanks, Robert. However, since …

    • The greenhouse effect exists around the planet (see Fig. 1).

    and …

    • Most of the planet doesn’t experience widespread temperature inversions on any regular basis.

    and …

    • Temperature inversions do happen in Antarctica, where the greenhouse effect is not that strong (see Fig. 1)

    I’d have to say your good ship “Theory” just ran aground on a reef of ugly facts … the greenhouse effect is many things, but claiming that “the [temperature] inversion is the greenhouse effect” is simply untrue.

    w.

  70. “1. Their claim, that there is “reduced cooling” in the arctic in wintertime that affects the surface temperature, is not supported by the CERES data. To the contrary, the CERES data shows the Arctic radiative cooling is much more rapid in the winter than the summer, because the atmosphere is absorbing much less radiation. Note that this is what we’d expect, due to the reduced amount of water vapor in winter.”

    The data here tends to suggest that there is reduced cooling in winter: http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php
    For most years since 2005 the winter temperatures above 80 degs north have been above the 1954-2014 average.

    Any thoughts on this Willis?

  71. Box of Rocks says:
    February 4, 2014 at 7:21 am

    Figure 2. Downwelling surface longwave radiation as a percentage of the upwelling longwave surface radiation, June (upper panel) and December (lower panel).

    ****************************************

    These figures show areas where the downwelling surface radiation as a percentage of the upwelling longwave surface radiation, June (upper panel) and December (lower panel) exceed 100%.

    Why does that strike me as odd? How can you get more of something when the most you can get is 100% and that assumes 100% efficiency of the energy transfers….

    This occurs when there is a temperature inversion, and a colder surface is overlain by warmer air. Since the radiation is proportional to T4, you end up with more downwelling radiation than upwelling radiation.

    w.

  72. Re Galileo’s experiment

    According to Galileo, he performed the experiment with the wooden and iron balls as described. While he did not record the location, we are certain he didn’t perform it at Pisa since the height from which his assistant dropped the balls was considerably higher than the tower — IIRC about 100 m higher. [Bloody Windows 7 search function cannot find any html documents containing the word "galileo" today!]

    It is true that Aristotle was quantitatively incorrect, but he was qualitatively correct. The mathematisation of physics had to await Galileo. I find it a bit OTT to fault Aristotle for not realising something that took another 2,000 years to discover! It’s worth noting that Aristotle was a great observer; i.e. he said we should trust our sense perceptions. His teacher, Plato, claimed the reverse. One should not trust one’s senses when investigating the world. You can discover all you need to know by introspection. To my mind, GCMs are advanced introspection devices.

  73. JBJ says:
    February 4, 2014 at 9:45 am

    “1. Their claim, that there is “reduced cooling” in the arctic in wintertime that affects the surface temperature, is not supported by the CERES data. To the contrary, the CERES data shows the Arctic radiative cooling is much more rapid in the winter than the summer, because the atmosphere is absorbing much less radiation. Note that this is what we’d expect, due to the reduced amount of water vapor in winter.”

    The data here tends to suggest that there is reduced cooling in winter: http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php
    For most years since 2005 the winter temperatures above 80 degs north have been above the 1954-2014 average.

    Any thoughts on this Willis?

    Thanks, JBL. My understanding is that their claim is that the “reduced cooling” means reduced cooling with respect to the summertime, not w.r.t. the 1954-2014 average. I didn’t see anywhere that they talked about global warming or cooling.

    Finally, what you are looking at there is reanalysis data. It’s uncertain at present, but it gets worse rapidly as you go back to 1954.

    w.

  74. “The third claim is that this Arctic inversion is not unusual, but that there is a “predominate” winter temperature inversion in the Arctic.”
    True.
    Pilots flying in the Arctic in the 1930’s noticed this. They have gauge which shows the outside air temperature and they noticed an increase in temperature with altitude.
    The inversion starts to break down with the return of the sun.
    “Their claim, that the Arctic temperature inversion is widespread, is not supported by the CERES data. It shows general wintertime temperature inversion in the Antarctic, but not in the Arctic”.
    It is supported by observation and by Upper Air Sounding Plots as Ulric Lyons says:

    http://weather.uwyo.edu/upperair/sounding.html

  75. Willis Eschenbach Sorry, my English is lame. Sorry. I guess I will not be spoken, because You misunderstand me.
    I wanted to say that my observations confirm this.

  76. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 4, 2014 at 9:55 am
    Box of Rocks says:
    February 4, 2014 at 7:21 am

    From Wikipedia..
    “…Under certain conditions, the normal vertical temperature gradient is inverted such that the air is colder near the surface of the Earth. This can occur when, for example, a warmer, less-dense air mass moves over a cooler, denser air mass. This type of inversion occurs in the vicinity of warm fronts, and also in areas of oceanic upwelling such as along the California coast in the United States. With sufficient humidity in the cooler layer, fog is typically present below the inversion cap. An inversion is also produced whenever radiation from the surface of the earth exceeds the amount of radiation received from the sun, which commonly occurs at night, or during the winter when the angle of the sun is very low in the sky. This effect is virtually confined to land regions as the ocean retains heat far longer. In the polar regions during winter, inversions are nearly always present over land….”

    So, still makes no sense.

    If I understand the inversion starts in the Arctic when the surface radiates more energy that what it receives so an inversion is created. And with the inversion more radiation flows back the surface and hence the inversion is degraded over time and eliminates itself or becomes cyclic in nature right?

    The figure is wrong because some extra energy was transported to the poles and was added to the ‘normal’ downwelling radiation.

    Again one can only get back out of a system what was put into the system, If the earth is radiating X amount of energy, at best X amount of energy can be returned. The reality is that at most – only .35X can be returned since the downwelling radiation is going in all directions.

  77. David L. Hagen said @ February 4, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Thought experiment: “Spuntar lo scoglio piu` duro: did Galileo ever think the most beautiful thought experiment in the history of science? Paolo Palmieri

    Interesting :-)

    We know, Galileo asserts, that if we let two spheres of gold and cork (having the same volume) fall from a height of 100 braccia in air, the golden sphere will precede the cork one by, say, two or three braccia.

  78. Another good job. Thanks again.

    You have already written the letter (what’s posted here), why not submit it to Nature Geoscience?

  79. warofthewolds says:
    February 4, 2014 at 7:00 am
    Chuck L says . . .” really?”
    If I read you right, please finish your story about the arrogant leaf – it struck a chord with me. If I read you wrong . . . well, I guess this won’t make any sense.

    Not sure what you meant but what I meant was that this is based on computer models deliberately tweaked to produce what would appear to be, a predestined desired outcome.

  80. saltspringson says:

    I think this study is proof of Lindzen’s recent observation – “I’ve asked very frequently at universities: ‘Of the brightest people you know, how many people were studying climate [...or meteorology or oceanography...]?’ And the answer is usually ‘No one.’”

    ===

    Indeed, a lot of what gets published as climate “science” is on a par with sociology. At the most econometrics. There are few that could hold thier own in a hard science context.

  81. I hate, and that is not too strong a word to use, these simulated experiments because they are so unlike the genuine article. And in this case the ambiguity of a paragraph, like the following one that Willis quotes, is so hard to interpret.

    We find that the surface inversion in fact intensifies Arctic amplification, because the ability of the Arctic wintertime clear-sky atmosphere to cool to space decreases with inversion strength. Specifically, we find that the cold layers close to the surface in Arctic winter, where most of the warming takes place, hardly contribute to the infrared radiation that goes out to space. Instead, the additional radiation that is generated by the warming of these layers is directed downwards, and thus amplifies the warming. We conclude that the predominant Arctic wintertime temperature inversion damps infrared cooling of the system, and thus constitutes a positive warming feedback.

    I presume that “additional radiation” refers to the greenhouse effect, but I don’t know. The authors use “these layers” and Willis refers to the “surface”. When are the two the same? I frankly don’t know, but if the Arctic surface is not radiating strongly, then how does one develop the “inversion” that is central to the thesis here? The surface is the only thing black enough to provide LW radiation to the clear sky. At the sort of water vapor and CO2 contents of the air at minus 40F and lower, it takes many tens of thousands of feet of air to come even close to resembling a black body (emissivity=1). Thus the idea that “these layers”, presumably of air, predominate in the radiative transfer in any direct, up or down, seems not sensible to me.

    My understanding of this issue, and someone please correct me if I am completely off base, is that the Arctic is the site of generally subsiding air throughout its winter. This subsiding air has work done on it via compression, warms as a result, and then transfers heat to the surface where it is radiated away. This is the source of the inversion. Though I am not familiar with the Ceres data, Willis’ claim that the winter Arctic surface must radiate strongly, in some normalized sense like fraction of input heat rate, makes perfect sense.

    The authors make two claims that seem correct, being that “these layers” do not radiate strongly, and that heat input to the surface (not by radiation but by other means) keeps the surfae warmer than it would be otherwise; but I fail to see why these are of great significance and how their conclusion follows.

  82. “””””……johnmarshall says:

    February 4, 2014 at 3:05 am

    Sounds like a rehash of that crap GHG theory. Radiation from the Arctic will not be the average 240W/m2 but far lower. The maximum radiation to space is from tropical regions because the temperature is higher. The rate of heat loss is proportional to the 4th power of the temperature difference…….””””””

    NOT SO !!; each body (assumed black) radiates per S-B law proportional to the fourth power of ITS TEMPERATURE, regardless, or irregardless, as the case may be, of the Temperature of any other body

    So maybe it is (Tsource)^4 – (Tsink)^4; but certainly NOT (Tsource-Tsink)^4.

    Am I the only person on this planet, who is bothered by the fact that no such object as a black body, that absorbs 100.000% of ALL EM radiant energy, from zero frequency to infinite frequency, sans the two end points; or zero to infinite wavelength, with the same exclusions, CAN EXIST.

    No body that absorbs 100.000% of ANY single wavelength, even can exist either. No physical material has the same permittivity, and permeability as free space, and can thus propagate energy across the boundary, with 0.000 reflectance; even at any single frequency, let alone all. Such a BB, must also have infinite thermal conductivity, so that the body is isothermal; all at the same Temperature no matter where incoming EM radiation strikes it.

    Nor do cavity radiators or absorbers buy you a reprieve. The standard BB cavity absorber, requires the contained radiation to be in thermal equilibrium with the walls, which must have 100.000% reflectance, and 0.000% absorption, and also must have 0.000 thermal conductivity, or else “heat” energy will be lost through the walls, cooling the wall Temperature. No material can have zero absorbtance either.

    So “Black Bodies” don’t exist; so how come we have a theory of how they work ??

  83. Another method, the one employed here, is to use one climate model and apply a sufficiently large forcing (e.g. 2xCO2) to obtain a climate change signal that is much larger than the noise. The advantage of this approach is that dedicated experiments can be carried out, including changing certain model processes in order to link these to feedbacks (as is done in this study).

    They made virtual changes to parameters of an unverified/noncertified computational model. These are not experiments, dedicated or otherwise! The results are environmental fiction. In fact, I propose we demand just such an Evironmental Fiction section be added to all libraries and bookstores, where studies such as this (and contributions from Al Gore and Michael Mann) can find an appropriate venue.

    I don’t know how this could pass peers review……… unless……..could it be? Oh my….

    http://jasonseilerillustration.blogspot.com/2011/07/study-of-piers-morgan.html

  84. I have a very informative Infra-Red Handbook, full of information, including a complete bibliography of all the peered at papers, that sourced the information.

    In chapter 3; The Earth as Seen from Space.” there are a set of eight graph panels each containing curves for three different zenith angles; 0, 60, 85 degrees.

    Four of the panels are sunlit over North America, and four are not sunlit over North America.

    And the four pairs, are for 10-20 deg. N Lat., 30-40 deg. N Lat., 50-60 deg. N Lat., and 70-80 deg. N Lat.

    The four not sunlit are in Winter, and the four sunlit are in summer. Wunnerful; finally some real information.

    Well NO, not exactly. These are NOT “The Earth as Seen from Space.” They are actually; “What my Terraflop X-Box Thinks it Can See.

    No they don’t claim they can see Siberia from the front door. These are just somebody’s idea of what you would see from space over North America, in Summer and Winter, from 10-20, 30-40, 50-60, and 70-80 deg. N Lat., sunlit or non sunlit.

    The peered at paper is from H. Rose, et al in “The Handbook of Albedo and Thermal Earthshine” from the Environmental research Institute of Michigan, (ERIM) in 1973. who also published the handbook I have on IR.

    You can always tell when these graphs are computer made up, because the spectral dips at wavelengths due to specific GHGs, like CO2 or O3, tend to have a flat bottom, with a little pip right in the center of it, as though it folds about the center point.

    For these graphs given, the bottom of the CO2 dips, is pretty much independent of zenith angle, but the 9.6 micron dip for ozone, is very strongly dependent on zenith angle. Well this is what you would expect for a high very thin ozone layer, where an oblique view of the layer can be much thicker than the normal thickness. (due to vertical fluctuations of the layer). The Ozone dip is also very narrow, compared to the CO2, possibly because the ozone is high at low air density, and very cold, so both density and Temperature broadening are smaller than at the surface. Now this would affect individual lines, but possibly not the whole band, whose width may be based on molecule factors I’m not in on.

    Strangely, not one of the eight panels shows any signs of spectral dips due to H2O.

    So how hard can it be to point a telescope down at the earth at an angle (off normal) and record, what the earth actually does look like from space, instead of from a computer game screen ??

    So does anyone actually have credible spectra taken from the ground looking up, and from space looking down ? With and without clouds.

  85. “Hmmm … so their basic claim is that the (poorly named) “greenhouse effect” is strengthened by the temperature inversion in the winter,”

    Since a temperature inversion suppresses convection it would keep the surface warmer via the same mechanism that a greenhouse actually does instead of the mechanism most using the term are referring to.

  86. I question the claim that the Arctic inversion is not a widespread feature. Possibly it does not show up on this one CERES December plot. The arctic winter sometimes does not get fully going until January. I have been weather forecasting for the Canadian Arctic (north of 60N) for the better part of my lifetime now and I can assure that dealing with dramatic and persistent low level winter temperature inversions is a part of the forecasting situation. You can see these inversions using the upper air soundings available from sites such as the U of Wyoming. I just had a look through many of the soundings in the Arctic today and the vast majority show pronounced inversions as occur throughout the winter. Have a look at YBK, YCB, YVQ, etc. Those are typical winter time inversions. Certainly not something you see much of in the main U.S.

    http://weather.uwyo.edu/upperair/sounding.html

  87. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Most of the planet doesn’t experience widespread temperature inversions on any regular basis.

    Over land (including ice) a surface temperature inversion occurs every day an hour or so before sun set. The inversion lasts until a few hours after sun rise. The inversions occur because the surface radiates heat to space faster than the lower atmosphere. Since the surface becomes colder than the atmosphere, there is a net radiation flow from the atmosphere toward the surface – typically referred to as “back radiation”. From the radiosonde data, it is clear that by morning the atmosphere over land is still slightly warmer than the surface and that the atmospheric temperature increases with increasing height up to the very obvious point where the atmosphere becomes IR opaque based on the available greenhouse gases. In other words, heat is flowing from hot to cold.

    The oceans are different. The surface of the ocean does not cool the same way a solid surface does because the water’s density increases as the temperature decreases. As a result, the surface temperature stays fairly stable during the diurnal cycle.

    Temperature inversions do happen in Antarctica, where the greenhouse effect is not that strong

    Why do you say it is not that strong? What do you think the winter (6 months, no sun) temperature would be if there was no downwelling radiation from the atmosphere? Based on measurements from the moon (dark for only 14 days at a time) and data from a satellite design manual, I think it would be about 45K. Assuming that that is a reasonable estimate, then a surface temperature of 203K to 220K without solar heating is a pretty big deal.

    I guess that I should have said that the surface inversion is only “a part of” of the greenhouse effect. However, it appears to be the tropospheric part affected most by changes in CO2 concentration.

  88. george e. smith says:
    February 4, 2014 at 12:21 pm
    “So “Black Bodies” don’t exist; so how come we have a theory of how they work ??”

    George: You really must familiarize yourself with the mathematical and scientific concept of a “limiting case”. They are used in many fields, and to great effect in coming to an understanding of principles involved. Sometimes, they are even good enough approximations.

    If you take an introductory Newtonian mechanics physics course, all of your early problems will involve frictionless systems. No such thing, so why is it taught that way? Well, first it makes the problems simple enough for starting students so they can solve them and understand how phenomena such as inertia operate. Second, zero friction is the limiting case – you can approach it, but never pass it, as there is no such thing as negative friction. Third, it is possible in many systems to make the friction negligible enough that it can be ignored for many purposes of analysis. I regularly deal with systems using air bearings or magnetic bearings where this is the case.

    Similarly, the idealized blackbody is the limiting case of the “perfect” absorber/emitter. Real-world substances will absorb and emit less than the theoretical blackbody would, but never more (from thermal effects, that is). Also, we know that many, many substances behave in a manner very close to a blackbody, absorbing 95-99% of what a “mythical” blackbody would. For first-cut analysis at least, the small percentage difference can often be ignored.

  89. Do they even talk about the heat of fusion of water? For every KM^3 of water converted to ice or 1,000 Km of 1 m thick ice, the water is going to give up 3.34E+17 J of heat. It has to go somewere and must supply some of the wintertime no sun temperature inversion.
    Same goes for the summer as as the ice melts, it will pull the same 3.34E+17 j of heat to melt each Km^3 of ice.
    Ever notice how 31 F in a soft snowfall will feel warmer that 33 F in the spring as the snow melts? It is the heat of fusion.

  90. ren says:
    February 4, 2014 at 2:57 am
    Only changes in the polar vortex are ozone during the polar night could cause changes circulation in the troposphere and the influx of warm air over the the Arctic Circle.

    Ren, would you mind recasting this sentence so that it is clearer? I realized as I read down that English is not your mother tongue, and I appreciate your effort to communicate in English. I am asking because I want to understand what you are talking about. Thx.

  91. Our model is different than other models. Most models only go up to 10. THIS model goes up to 11. (H/T Spinal Tap)

  92. When considering the effect of DWLWIR, it is necessary to know the absorption charactericis of water and ice to low grazing angle LWIR. Given that the re-radiation of LW is unidirectional, it is important to bear in mind that approximately 10% of all DWLWIR must be interacting with the surface at an angle of less than 10 deg.

    Water is a very good absorber of LWIR, when interceptimng at the perpendicular, but how does it behave when LWIR is grazing at say 5deg? Ditto ice. I have not seen the experimetal data, but it must be out there.

    The K&T energy budget diagram shows sunlight being reflected, but shows no DWLWIR whatsoever being reflected. Is this reasonable? Does anyone know?

  93. @Steven Mosher-The authors of the study purport that the Arctic Winter Inversion has a particular set of effects on the local radiation budget. Logically one would in fact use these data to see if, in fact, the radiation budget is effected in the stated way.

    However, for the existence of the Arctic Inversion itself, is there good data covering the area to various altitudes?
    And it does need to cover the area, the Rossby Radius of Deformation is inversely proportional to the sine of the latitude, so sampling large distances apart won’t work well in the Arctic.

    I do know there are *reanalyses* that show an Arctic Winter Inversion. But that’s models, not data.

  94. JBJ says:
    February 4, 2014 at 1:11 am
    The data here tends to suggest that there is reduced cooling in winter: http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php
    —————————-
    The years 1963, 1964, 1966, 1969, 1971,1988, 1992, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2001, and 2008 were all below the median line for Arctic temps. The years 1958, 1959, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1990, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 were all above average temps. Other years saw swings that crossed the median trend line multiple times. Some of the above years also had slight shift reversals during the season, but the predominant direction was below or above.

  95. timetochooseagain says:
    However, for the existence of the Arctic Inversion itself, is there good data covering the area to various altitudes?

    If you are looking for the upper air sounding data there are a number of sites you can get that from. One of the more popular ones is the U of Wyoming:

    http://weather.uwyo.edu/upperair/sounding.html

    If you want all the historical sounding data you can get that from the NOAA/ESRL Radiosonde Database:

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/raobs/

  96. Robert Clemenzi wrote –

    “Over land (including ice) a surface temperature inversion occurs every day an hour or so before sun set. The inversion lasts until a few hours after sun rise. The inversions occur because the surface radiates heat to space faster than the lower atmosphere.”

    None of you appear to be capable of translating the observations into dynamical form and there is a very good reason for that. It is quite profound for all the wrong reasons given that normally the appearance and disappearance of the Sun each 24 hours is due to a rotating Earth and there is absolutely no reason to believe that they will ever fall out of step despite the current belief that they do –

    “The Earth spins on its axis about 366 and 1/4 times each year, but there are only 365 and 1/4 days per year. This is because we define a day not based on the Earth’s period of rotation, but based on the average time from noon one day to noon the next. Gradually over the course of a year the Sun appears to go ‘backwards’ (West to East) around the Earth compared to the far away stars (this is because we are really going around the Sun). Subtracting this 1 time backwards from the 366 and 1/4 times forward, we get the typical 365 and 1/4 days per year.”

    http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/970714.html

    I have seen dozens of variants of this comical theme but the result is always the same – when you lose the ability to read the rotation of the Earth out of massive daily temperature fluctuations you are entering the realm of the diseased mind . Of course the unfortunate RA/Dec assertion is important to the ‘predictions’ crowd as they drew a conclusion based on timekeeping averages and stellar circumpolar motion a few centuries ago and rigged everything to suit the conclusion including scrapping the correlation between all the effects within a 24 hour cycle and one rotation of the planet.

    Inversion indeed !,it is as though the world was intellectually upside down !.

  97. My error in previous post. In fact Antarctica has stronger greenhouse effect in summer. (Fig. 1) The ozone hole stratospheric cooling is apparent in Fig. 2. More incident solar radiation in summer results to warmer surface temperature than winter and more upwelling surface radiation but relatively cool troposphere due to ozone depletion cooling results to less increase in downwelling surface radiation.

  98. Policycritic, this model polar vortex: http://oi62.tinypic.com/2wc4j83.jpg
    On the edges of the vortex are jet streams whose speed depends on the temperature gradient. So this looks during the polar night: http://oi61.tinypic.com/15579jl.jpg
    However, the distribution of ozone over the Arctic Circle is not uniform. So it looked on December 16. http://oi62.tinypic.com/5pezck.jpg
    You can see that the jet stream encounters an obstacle, which causes the slow down. Here you can see it. http://oi59.tinypic.com/119t742.jpg
    Where the jet stream slows down, warm air could get into the polar circle. This is seen perfectly on the animation polar vortex at the height of 15 km. http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/70hPa/orthographic=25.14,96.29,419
    Directs the jet stream circulation in the troposphere. http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/250hPa/orthographic=25.14,96.29,318
    Thank you.

  99. @MaxLD-None of that data satisfies my concerns with spatial sampling. In fact, it makes my concerns worse, since it appears people draw sweeping conclusions about the Arctic atmosphere on the basis of a handful of locations.

  100. ES says:
    February 4, 2014 at 10:22 am

    “Their claim, that the Arctic temperature inversion is widespread, is not supported by the CERES data. It shows general wintertime temperature inversion in the Antarctic, but not in the Arctic”.

    It is supported by observation and by Upper Air Sounding Plots as Ulric Lyons says:

    http://weather.uwyo.edu/upperair/sounding.html

    I understand that there is a variety of information on polar temperature inversions. I never said that there were not temperature inversions in the Arctic.

    What I said was that the CERES data shows a difference between the Arctic and the Antarctic. In the Antarctic, the inversion is strong enough and persistent enough that over large areas, the monthly average of the CERES shows an actual inversion in the temperatures, with the atmosphere ON AVERAGE FOR THE MONTH being warmer than the surface over a large contiguous area.

    In the Arctic, on the other hand, there are much smaller, non-contiguous areas where that is true. But it is not true over a large contiguous area as it is in the Antarctic

    So I am not saying that there are no temperature inversions in the Arctic, quite the opposite in fact. I’m just pointing out that they are much less pervasive than in the Antarctic.

    w.

  101. ren says:
    February 4, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Willis Eschenbach Sorry, my English is lame. Sorry. I guess I will not be spoken, because You misunderstand me.
    I wanted to say that my observations confirm this.

    Ren, I’m willing to work through bad english, that’s why I asked what it was that you meant.

    w.

  102. Michael D Smith says:
    February 4, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Using a % won’t get you very far I wouldn’t think… Why not express everything in W/m^2 so you can see the seasonal differences in absolute terms?

    Thanks, Michael. The authors claim that the tropics is better at radiating away heat than the poles. The only way to determine that is with percentages.

    w.

  103. Steven Mosher says:
    February 4, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Wrong data to detect inversions.

    Awww, nuts. Mosh is back in his cryptic phase again. He’s a brilliant guy but you wouldn’t know it from some of his comments.

    Mosh, if the CERES data is the “wrong data to detect inversions”, then why does it detect them so well in the Antarctic?

    w.

  104. Matthew R Marler says:
    February 4, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Another good job. Thanks again.

    You have already written the letter (what’s posted here), why not submit it to Nature Geoscience?

    Make you a deal, Matthew. You re-write it in letter form, and send it off to Nature Geo, we’ll both sign it. I’ll provide whatever might be necessary in the way of graphs and data, although usually they don’t like those in letters …

    I went through this exercise in a more formal manner with Nature when I submitted a “Communications Arising”. It was peer-reviewed, raised interesting points … and after publication, it sunk without a trace.

    Then another author and I submitted a letter to some journal about some piece of rampant bogosity they’d published … the journal couldn’t be bothered.

    Sadly, these days it seems to be something of a black eye for a journal to receive a letter pointing out that one of their papers is not the holy grail …

    Anyhow, if you want to give it a shot, let’s go for it.

    w.

  105. george e. smith says:
    February 4, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    … Am I the only person on this planet, who is bothered by the fact that no such object as a black body, that absorbs 100.000% of ALL EM radiant energy, from zero frequency to infinite frequency, sans the two end points; or zero to infinite wavelength, with the same exclusions, CAN EXIST.

    No body that absorbs 100.000% of ANY single wavelength, even can exist either. No physical material has the same permittivity, and permeability as free space, and can thus propagate energy across the boundary, with 0.000 reflectance; even at any single frequency, let alone all. Such a BB, must also have infinite thermal conductivity, so that the body is isothermal; all at the same Temperature no matter where incoming EM radiation strikes it.

    Nor do cavity radiators or absorbers buy you a reprieve. The standard BB cavity absorber, requires the contained radiation to be in thermal equilibrium with the walls, which must have 100.000% reflectance, and 0.000% absorption, and also must have 0.000 thermal conductivity, or else “heat” energy will be lost through the walls, cooling the wall Temperature. No material can have zero absorbtance either.

    So “Black Bodies” don’t exist; so how come we have a theory of how they work ??

    Good question, George. The Stefan-Boltzmann equation doesn’t deal with “black bodies” per se. Instead, what they found is that the radiation of any solid body can be calculated as

    Radiation equals 0.0000000567 times emissivity times temperature to the fourth power.

    or as it is normally written

    W = σ ε T4

    As you point out, the emissivity of any real object is always less than 1. However, in the longwave frequencies of interest, the emissivity of natural objects is quite close to 1, even objects that reflect strongly in visible light. In the 9-12 micron range, for example, the emissivity of snow is 0.986, of cotton plants is 0.98, of human skin is 0.98, of coniferous needles is 0.971, and so on.

    As a result, as Geiger said in his canonical text which is my bible on these matters, “The Climate Near The Ground”,

    “The surface will be treated as a blackbody throughout the remainder of the book since, for the range of natural surface emissivities, the departure of TR ["blackbody temperature"] from TS [surface temperature] is small”.

    HTH,
    w.

  106. @Willis Eschenbach-I’ve noticed, with some consternation, that Mosher has taken to a “hit and run” approach when commenting at WUWT. Sad, really.

    At any rate, though, it seems that we have an interesting situation. I’ve examined some reanalysis data, which seems to indicate that a widespread winter time inversion is thought to occur in the Arctic atmosphere, especially in winter-weather models have this feature, when you input into them various sources of weather data.

    However, you point out that the radiation data show an absence of an effect that would be expected if such an inversion where really widespread throughout the Arctic. This raises several questions:

    Is the expected effect a correct prediction that *must* arise if an inversion is present?
    If so, why do current weather models have such a feature that is not apparent in reality?
    If not, why not?

    I for one would appreciate if Mosher could answer such questions, rather than showing up, firing off a snippy comment, then disappearing to do who knows what.

  107. MaxLD says:
    February 4, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    I question the claim that the Arctic inversion is not a widespread feature. Possibly it does not show up on this one CERES December plot. The arctic winter sometimes does not get fully going until January. I have been weather forecasting for the Canadian Arctic (north of 60N) for the better part of my lifetime now and I can assure that dealing with dramatic and persistent low level winter temperature inversions is a part of the forecasting situation.

    Question all you want. I’m just reporting what the CERES data says, which is that the inversion exists at both poles, but it is much more widespread and much stronger in the Antarctic.

    The real question is not whether “dealing with dramatic and persistent low level winter temperature inversions is a part of the forecasting situation” for the Canadian Arctic. The question is, how widespread and how persistent and how dramatic are the inversions?

    To answer that, look at the bottom panel in Figure 2. You are 100% correct. There are indeed areas of persistent, fairly widespread inversions OVER THE CANADIAN ARCTIC, the exact region you have been forecasting for … but despite what Canadians might believe, that’s only a small fraction of the Arctic, and the CERES data says that the inversions do NOT appear in a widespread fashion over the entire Arctic.

    w.

  108. Robert Clemenzi says:
    February 4, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:

    Temperature inversions do happen in Antarctica, where the greenhouse effect is not that strong

    Why do you say it is not that strong? What do you think the winter (6 months, no sun) temperature would be if there was no downwelling radiation from the atmosphere?

    Sorry for the lack of clarity, Robert. I say that the greenhouse effect is not that strong in Antarctica because (using the measure of Ramanathan) the CERES data shows clearly that it is not that strong … that’s what Figure 1 shows.

    My explanation is that the weak greenhouse effect is a result of the lack of water vapor in the polar atmosphere.

    Finally, the poles both get huge infusions of warm air and water from the tropics. It is that imported heat which keeps them from freezing, not the greenhouse effect.

    w.

  109. MaxLD says:
    February 4, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    timetochooseagain says:
    However, for the existence of the Arctic Inversion itself, is there good data covering the area to various altitudes?

    If you are looking for the upper air sounding data there are a number of sites you can get that from. One of the more popular ones is the U of Wyoming:

    http://weather.uwyo.edu/upperair/sounding.html

    If you want all the historical sounding data you can get that from the NOAA/ESRL Radiosonde Database:

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/raobs/

    Thanks for that, Max. I just took a quick look at that data. What I see is that the structure of the atmosphere is quite different over the sea ice and over the land. Under the ice is flowing water, which is obviously above freezing. As a result, the surface temperature over the ice doesn’t typically go that low, while the land surface is under no such constraints. It’s why the Antarctic gets much, much colder than the Arctic.

    The fact that the ice is warmer than the land, of course, means that inversions will be less common over the ice … but most of the measurements (except those from satellites) are made over the land, as are most of the forecasts.

    Regards,

    w.

  110. Willis:

    George E. Smith is quite correct about the historical derivation of the S-B radiation law for black bodies in equilibrium. It is only then that the temperature can be accurately determined from the incident power flux. Geiger, on the other hand is also correct, in that the emitted radiation of various grey bodies can be quite accurately determined via S-B–provided that their temperature IS KNOWN. The geophysical problem, however, lies in the fact that the atmosphere is NOT a grey body (see http://speclab.cr.usgs.gov/PAPERS.refl-mrs/giff/300dpi/fig3b3.gif)! That’s been suspected theoretically in bona fide meteorology since the early 20th century. This constitutes a huge fly in the ointment of simplistic radiative algebras that still pervade “climate science.”

  111. Willis, I am certainly willing to concede that the Arctic inversion is not nearly as strong and widespread over the sea ice for the reasons you mentioned. I think that I am so used to forecasting for the land areas, where the inversion is very strong and persistent, that in my haste I sometimes forget about the sea ice areas. I thank you for pointing that out. Maybe the authors made the same assumption, that the land temperature profile in the low levels was the same as over the ice.
    I am not a CERES expert by any means, but in the Figure 1 could it not be that the low level inversion in the Arctic over land does not show up because you are only using the surface and TOA LW radiation, which does not give information about the low level inversions. Most often the TOA temperature is still colder than the surface, even when there is a strong low level inversion.

  112. 1sky1 says:
    February 5, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Willis:

    George E. Smith is quite correct about the historical derivation of the S-B radiation law for black bodies in equilibrium. It is only then that the temperature can be accurately determined from the incident power flux. Geiger, on the other hand is also correct, in that the emitted radiation of various grey bodies can be quite accurately determined via S-B–provided that their temperature IS KNOWN. The geophysical problem, however, lies in the fact that the atmosphere is NOT a grey body (see http://speclab.cr.usgs.gov/PAPERS.refl-mrs/giff/300dpi/fig3b3.gif)! That’s been suspected theoretically in bona fide meteorology since the early 20th century. This constitutes a huge fly in the ointment of simplistic radiative algebras that still pervade “climate science.”

    1sky1, let me start by saying that when we are talking about the energy flows around the climate system, the emissivity is immaterial. Makes no difference in the slightest. It is only when we wish to convert between radiation and temperature that we encounter difficulties. Please note that in my analysis above, I’m discussing radiation, except for the question of the “temperature inversion”.

    Next, you say that the atmosphere is NOT a gray body … it’s not clear what you mean by this, and I fear that the graph didn’t help. Considered across the thermal infrared spectrum, the atmosphere acts very much like a gray-body with an emissivity of around 0.8 or so. However, this is an average, and it is temperature dependent. However, this is made more complex by clouds, which essentially are black-bodies for thermal IR.

    There’s more info here.

    w.

  113. MaxLD says:
    February 5, 2014 at 3:08 pm (Edit)

    Willis, I am certainly willing to concede that the Arctic inversion is not nearly as strong and widespread over the sea ice for the reasons you mentioned. I think that I am so used to forecasting for the land areas, where the inversion is very strong and persistent, that in my haste I sometimes forget about the sea ice areas. I thank you for pointing that out. Maybe the authors made the same assumption, that the land temperature profile in the low levels was the same as over the ice.
    I am not a CERES expert by any means, but in the Figure 1 could it not be that the low level inversion in the Arctic over land does not show up because you are only using the surface and TOA LW radiation, which does not give information about the low level inversions. Most often the TOA temperature is still colder than the surface, even when there is a strong low level inversion.

    Thanks, Max. I haven’t used TOA temperature. The first figure shows atmospheric absorption vs surface radiation. The second figure shows downwelling surface longwave vs surface radiation. However, they give very similar results regarding the strength and location of the inversions.

    All the best,

    w.

  114. Willis:

    You say: “let me start by saying that when we are talking about the energy flows around the climate system, the emissivity is immaterial. Makes no difference in the slightest. It is only when we wish to convert between radiation and temperature that we encounter difficulties.” Inasmuch as any quantitative determination of thermal energy flows within the system has to take into account the net radiative (as well as convective and conductive) transfer, the emissivity of bodies cannot be blithely ignored. While many natural materials have epsilon close to 1, others (as well as polished metals and many man-made materials) are much less emissive.

    Quoting you further: “you say that the atmosphere is NOT a gray body … it’s not clear what you mean by this, and I fear that the graph didn’t help. Considered across the thermal infrared spectrum, the atmosphere acts very much like a gray-body with an emissivity of around 0.8 or so.”
    A gray body, by definition, is one that radiates a spectrum proportional to the Planck function. Despite what may be taught in soft science courses nowadays, TOA emission spectra clearly show that the atmosphere has no such simple proportionality!

    I may have time tomorrow to elaborate, if need be.

  115. 1sky1 says:
    February 5, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Willis:

    You say:

    “let me start by saying that when we are talking about the energy flows around the climate system, the emissivity is immaterial. Makes no difference in the slightest. It is only when we wish to convert between radiation and temperature that we encounter difficulties.”

    Inasmuch as any quantitative determination of thermal energy flows within the system has to take into account the net radiative (as well as convective and conductive) transfer, the emissivity of bodies cannot be blithely ignored. While many natural materials have epsilon close to 1, others (as well as polished metals and many man-made materials) are much less emissive.

    I fear that all you’ve done is restate your claim, that we have to take emissivity into account. You have not said why.

    Here’s an example of why your claim is incorrect. Suppose we have an object. It has incoming radiation at say 340 W/m2 at the surface. Here’s the question

    What will be the amount of outgoing radiation when the object is at thermal equilibrium?

    Well, obviously, it will warm until it is radiating what it is absorbing, that is to say 340W/m2 … and that doesn’t depend in the slightest on the emissivity of the object in question.

    There is an example of making a “quantitative determination of thermal energy flows within the system” which, contrary to your claim, does NOT have to take into account the emissivity.

    Q.E.D.

    Quoting you further:

    “you say that the atmosphere is NOT a gray body … it’s not clear what you mean by this, and I fear that the graph didn’t help. Considered across the thermal infrared spectrum, the atmosphere acts very much like a gray-body with an emissivity of around 0.8 or so.”

    A gray body, by definition, is one that radiates a spectrum proportional to the Planck function. Despite what may be taught in soft science courses nowadays, TOA emission spectra clearly show that the atmosphere has no such simple proportionality!

    Mmm … you are right, but I’m not sure what difference it would make to my analysis above. It’s true that the emissivity of gases is frequency dependent. So you’re right, they’re not truly “gray bodies”.

    However, in general we’re not talking about surface radiation of a single frequency. Solid bodies emit thermal IR over a host of frequencies. As a result, we can approximate the absorption over a wide range of frequencies by means of what is called the “gray body assumption”, discussed here which is the assumption that the emissivity is NOT frequency dependent. And for most climate analyses, this assumption is close enough.

    And when it’s not, well, then scientists hitch up their sleeves and do the line-by-line or other analysis necessary to deal with that.

    Finally, with the atmosphere we end up with an “effective emissivity”, which is compounded of all of the gases and all of the frequencies. It measures, in the real world, how much of the radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere. The effective emissivity is shown in Figure 1. Note that it is different in different areas of the planet, as you’d expect. Globally, an average of about 40% of the total upwelling energy is absorbed by the atmosphere … so by Kirchoff’s law, the average atmospheric emissivity would be the same, 0.40.

    However, none of that matters to what I’ve done in the head post, because I’m dealing with flows of energy, not with temperatures. As a result, I fail to see what your objection, while technically true, would change about my analysis above.

    w.

  116. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 5, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Globally, an average of about 40% of the total upwelling energy is absorbed by the atmosphere

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 5, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Considered across the thermal infrared spectrum, the atmosphere acts very much like a gray-body with an emissivity of around 0.8 or so.

    Am I missing something?

  117. Willis:

    It’s easy to arrive at Q.E.D. –when you assume that which needs to be proved! Your example ASSUMES that the “body” subjected to a uniform irradiance will HAVE to emit at the SAME intensity to come thermal equilibrium, i.e., a black body. But if that body is a sea, whose energy transfer to the atmosphere is predominantly through evaporation, or a forest, where solar power is consumed by plant growth, that equality naturally breaks down. It is only in space that radiative intensity can be equated to energy flux. When radiation interacts with matter, it’s a whole different ballgame physically. Unlike energy, radiation is not a CONSERVED metric in the real world and there is no simple algebra to account for energy fluxes based upon BB estimates of radiation alone.

    This makes a considerable difference vis a vis your present interpretation of CERES data regarding their relationship to near-surface temperatures. There simply is no physical basis to expect any close relationship. In fact, according to La Bourget’s Law, there is every reason to expect that—aside from certain narrow spectral windows—TOA emissions come from various atmospheric layers rather than the surface. Even stratospheric temperature variations are poorly coherent with those recorded much nearer the surface. While there’s much to criticize in the conclusions drawn by the authors, your ostensible disproof of their contentions regarding winter-time near-surface inversions and their effect upon land surface temperatures is likewise on shaky ground.

  118. 1sky1 says:
    February 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Willis:

    It’s easy to arrive at Q.E.D. –when you assume that which needs to be proved! Your example ASSUMES that the “body” subjected to a uniform irradiance will HAVE to emit at the SAME intensity to come thermal equilibrium, i.e., a black body.

    But if that body is a sea, whose energy transfer to the atmosphere is predominantly through evaporation, or a forest, where solar power is consumed by plant growth, that equality naturally breaks down.

    You claimed that we HAD to take emissivity int\o account. I gave an example where we didn’t HAVE to take emissivity into account …

    Now, you want to talk about another situation, where there is convective and evaporative parasitic loss. Heck, I can do that too … but my Q.E.D. still stands, and your claim that we HAVE to take emissivity into account is still falsified.

    In any case, what is typically done is to express the flows of energy in the form of sensible heat and evapotranspiration in the same units, which are W/m2. This allows them all to be compared, as in this diagram of the major energy flows in the climate system:

    Note that there is no need to include any emissivity anywhere in that look at the global energy budget, despite the fact that it includes evaporation.

    It is only in space that radiative intensity can be equated to energy flux.

    Not true in the slightest. Radiative intensity means the amount of energy flux, what do you think it means? It means the strength of the radiation, the amount of energy flowing, whether in space or at the surface. That’s how night vision goggles work, for goodness sake. They show you the energy flux, the radiative intensity, of the infrared radiation (energy flux) from warm things like say the human body.

    When radiation interacts with matter, it’s a whole different ballgame physically. Unlike energy, radiation is not a CONSERVED metric in the real world and there is no simple algebra to account for energy fluxes based upon BB estimates of radiation alone.

    Again, not true at all. Radiation in W/m2 is a measure of energy. You are claiming that energy is not conserved …

    In addition, you keep harping on black bodies … but there is no mention of black bodies in any of this.

    1sky1, please, I beg of you. Get a good textbook on thermodynamics that covers the physics and math of radiation. Truly, you are putting forward nonsense, and obviously you believe it but … it ain’t so, and you’re not doing yourself any favors with your claims.

    w.

  119. Robert Clemenzi says:
    February 5, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 5, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Globally, an average of about 40% of the total upwelling energy is absorbed by the atmosphere

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 5, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Considered across the thermal infrared spectrum, the atmosphere acts very much like a gray-body with an emissivity of around 0.8 or so.

    Am I missing something?

    Yeah, that wasn’t very clear. One includes the parasitic losses (70 W/m2 atmospheric absorption of incoming solar, 100 W/m2 of sensible and latent heat loss surface to atmosphere), one doesn’t.

    w.

  120. Willis:

    From the beginning, my comments have been directed at the issue, raised here
    by George E. Smith, of how realistic is the tacit BB/GB assumption involved
    in the uncritical use of the S-B relationship in “climate science.” My
    argumentation has been couched always in the context of empirically
    validated physics and how it conflicts with academic idealizations. Your
    counter-example patently involves circular reasoning, while indefensibly
    ignoring that real-world context.

    It’s even more dismaying that you should now present a modification of
    Trenberth’s cartoon, based upon unvalidated GCM simulations, ostensibly
    disproving my contentions. But even there, simple arithmetic shows that if
    the surface receives only 169W/m^2 solar power density on average, it can
    only output the same in steady-state conditions. That balance in energy
    flux is achieved not by the intensity of upward surface radiation, but by the NET result of radiative exchange between surface and atmosphere, whose oppositely directed components are much greater. I hope this brings home the physical distinction between conservative energy flux (an extensive metric)and nonconservative radiation (a local intensive metric).

    With so much effort required to explain basic physical distinctions, your
    plea that I should improve my training in physics is ironically amusing, at
    best. If I have time tomorrow, I’ll address the stark difference between
    phenomenology and real-world physics in your presentation.

  121. Robert Clemenzi:

    Just an quick addendum to my ultra-brief reply yesterday, as I was rushing to a meeting:

    R. H. Stewart’s “Methods of Satellite Oceanography” (whence came the apparently abberant name of the law governing the decay of radiative intensity in an absorptive medium, a.k.a. Lambert’s Law) provides a nice explanation of what can be sensed at TOA and how. The basic reason we have reliable SST satelite data is the UNIFORMITY of GB emmissivity from the ocean surface. Taylor & Francis (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01431168708954793)
    however, point out that land surfaces display no such uniformity, thereby frustrating analagous satellite sensing of LST That’s why CERES provides only CALCULATED pseudo-data for the surface.

  122. 1sky1 says:
    February 7, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Try Bouguer’s Law.

    Thanks.

    While the logarithmic law is valid for a single frequency at constant temperature and pressure, it needs to be integrated over those 3 variables to determine what the atmosphere does.

    ***

    Also, I disagree with your reasoning with respect to sea surface temperature. The reason SST can be determined by satellite is because there is a well defined relationship between the actual temperature and the temperature at about 4 feet – the height that “surface air temperatures” are measured. Over land, the actual surface temperature (the value seen by a satellite) is typically plus or minus 20C, and frequently more more, with respect to the reported (measured) air temperature and there is no way to determine one from the other.

    Yes, I read the abstract you referenced – its basic assumptions are simply wrong. While it is correct that the surface emissivity causes a problem, it ignores the fact that the surface temperature is almost never equal to the temperature measured in a Stevenson screen.

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