How Much Sunlight Actually Enters The System?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

There’s a new study in PNAS, entitled “Observational determination of albedo decrease caused by vanishing Arctic sea ice” by Pistone et al. Let me start by registering a huge protest against the title. The sea ice is varying, it isn’t “vanishing”, that’s just alarmist rhetoric that has no place in science.

In any case, here’s their figure 4B, showing the decrease in albedo from the “vanishing” sea ice:

vanishing ice fig 4 bFigure 1. Graph from Pistone2014 showing CERES albedo data (green, solid line) for the ocean areas of the Arctic.

The authors say:

Using the relationship between SSM/I and CERES measurements to extend the albedo record back in time, we find that during 1979–2011 the Arctic darkened sufficiently to cause an increase in solar energy input into the Arctic Ocean region of 6.4 ± 0.9 W/m2, equivalent to an increase of 0.21 ± 0.03 W/m2 averaged over the globe. This implies that the albedo forcing due solely to changes in Arctic sea ice has been 25% as large globally as the direct radiative forcing from increased carbon dioxide concentrations, which is estimated to be 0.8 W/m2 between 1979 and 2011.

The present study shows that the planetary darkening effect of the vanishing sea ice represents a substantial climate forcing that is not offset by cloud albedo feedbacks and other processes. Together, these findings provide direct observational validation of the hypothesis of a positive feedback between sea ice cover, planetary albedo, and global warming.

So … how are they going about making that case?

Let me start by saying that looking at albedo as they are doing is a very roundabout and inaccurate way of handling the data. The CERES dataset doesn’t have an “albedo” dataset. Instead, they have a dataset for downwelling solar, and another dataset for upwelling solar. The problem is that when the numbers get very small, the values of the calculated albedos get more and more inaccurate. Albedo is reflected solar divided by downwelling solar. So when you get down to where there’s almost no sunshine, you can get things like a gridcell that averages 0.2 W/m2 of incoming sunlight over some month, and reflects 0.4 W/m2 … giving us an impossible albedo of 2.0 …

It’s not clear how Pistone et al. have handled this issue. The way I work around the problem is to calculate the average upwelling reflected sunlight for the Arctic ocean area, and divide that by the average downwelling sunlight for the Arctic ocean area. This gives me an overall average albedo. I get slightly different numbers from theirs, and I am unable to replicate their results. However, I do get about the same trend that they get over the period, a decrease in the albedo of about 1.5% per decade. However, I don’t particularly trust those albedo numbers, averages of ratios make me nervous.

For this reason, I use a different and simpler measure, one which Pistone et al. mention and quantify as well. This is the actual amount of sunlight that makes it into the climate system. The authors call this the “total solar energy input”, and I will follow the practice. And qualitatively, my results agree with theirs—the amount of sunlight absorbed by the arctic has indeed increased over the period of the CERES data, 2000-2013. Figure 2 shows both the clear-sky and the all-sky arctic total energy input:

total solar energy input arctic oceanFigure 2. Increase in solar energy input to the Arctic ocean areas, 2000-2012. Clear sky in black, all sky in red. Units are area-weighted watts/m2.

In addition to the overall trend in all sky solar input (green line), you can see the peak in energy input in 2007, with the high solar input corresponding to very low ice areas. Overall, Figure 2 shows an even greater increase in energy input than Pistone2014 have estimated over the entire period. They report an increase in Arctic solar energy input over the ocean of 0.21 W/m2 over 32 years … and the CERES data shows an increase of 0.3 W/m2 per decade.

So we’ve established that their first claim, of increasing solar energy input to the Arctic ocean area 2000-2012, is true, and perhaps even underestimated. And this is quite reasonable, since we know the sea ice has decreased over the period … but what about their second claim? As you may recall, this was (emphasis mine):

The present study shows that the planetary darkening effect of the vanishing sea ice represents a substantial climate forcing that is not offset by cloud albedo feedbacks and other processes. Together, these findings provide direct observational validation of the hypothesis of a positive feedback between sea ice cover, planetary albedo, and global warming.

The CERES data agrees that the increase in solar energy input from reduced ice cover is not counteracted by Arctic clouds … nor would I have expected it to be counteracted by clouds in the Arctic. As I have discussed, well, more than once, the main climate control system is in the tropics. So if this increase in absorbed energy were counteracted by clouds, my hypothesis is that it would happen be in the tropics. I’ll return to this in a moment.

First, however, they’ve claimed that their results establish the existence of “a positive feedback between sea ice cover [and] planetary albedo”. Since the planetary albedo controls the total solar energy input to the globe, let’s take a look at the same data as Figure 2, total solar energy input, but this time for the entire planet …

total solar energy input globalFigure 3. Available solar energy at the top of atmosphere (red) and total solar energy input to the globe (blue), 2000-2012. Units are area-weighted watts/m2.

So their claim of increased solar energy input to the Arctic from reduced sea ice is true … but their claim that there is “a positive feedback between sea ice cover [and] planetary albedo” is falsified by the CERES data. The total solar energy input (blue line above), and thus the planetary albedo, is amazingly stable over the time period. There is no feedback at all from the changes in the ice.

To illustrate the stability, Figure 4 shows a breakdown of the total solar input data (blue line above). It’s divided into panels that from top to bottom show the data itself, the seasonal pattern, the trend, and the residuals of the global solar energy input:

loess decomposition global solar energy inputFigure 4. Decomposition of the solar energy input signal into trend, seasonal, and residual components. Red scale bars on the right indicate the relative scale of the individual panel. Units are area-adjusted W/m2.

I’ve written before about the amazing stability of the climate system. This is another example. In the past people have objected that the system is forced to be stable, because over time, energy out must generally equal energy in.

But the global solar energy input, the amount of the available solar energy that actually makes it into the climate system, is under no such constraint. There is nothing that it must balance to. Solar energy input is a function of the albedo, which is determined by clouds, snow, ice, vegetation, and wind, and all of these are constantly varying in all parts of the planet … and despite that, the swings of the trend are no greater than ±0.3 w/m2 over the period. The maximum monthly deviation from the seasonal average is a mere one W/m2, and the standard deviation of the residuals (data minus seasonal) is half a watt/m2.

So … how does it happen that we have a strong increase in solar energy input in the Arctic, but the global energy input stays the same?

Well … as I mentioned above, the tropics. Over the period 2000-2012, during which the Arctic received increased solar energy input, here’s what’s happened in the tropics:

total solar energy input tropicalFigure 5. Total solar energy input, all skies, tropics. Units are area-adjusted W/m2

As I hypothesized, the control is happening in the tropics. Pistone et al. note that the Arctic solar input is going up because of decreased sea ice … but they did not notice that at the same time, the tropical solar input is going down because of increased clouds. And the net sum of all of the changes, of more energy being absorbed in the extra-tropical areas and less energy being absorbed in the tropics, is … well … no change at all for the globe. It all averages out perfectly, with little change in either the monthly, annual or decadal data.

Coincidence? Hardly.

This is about as neat a demonstration as I can imagine in support of my hypothesis that the system is not ruled by the level of the forcings—instead, it is regulated by a system of interlocking emergent climate phenomena. A number of these phenomena operate in the tropics, and they have a curious property—the warmer the planet gets, the more that they cut down on the incoming solar energy.

So at the end of the day, we find that the claim of the authors that increased solar input to the Arctic is connected to the planetary albedo to be true … except that it is true in exactly the opposite of the direction that they claimed. When more energy is absorbed in the Arctic, less energy is absorbed elsewhere.

In closing, I want to highlight what it was that got me interested in climate science to begin with. I wasn’t interested in finding out why the global temperature had changed by something like ± 0.3°C over the 20th century.

Instead, I was interested in finding out why the global temperature had only changed by ± 0.3°C over the 20th century. I was amazed by the stability of the system, not the fact that it had varied slightly. So let me close with a graph showing the total global solar input residuals, what remains after the seasonal cycle in total solar input is removed.

global solar energy input seasonal cycle removed

Figure 5. Residual total solar input after the seasonal cycle is removed. Dotted lines show the inter-quartile range. Smooth curve is the loess trend line.

The monthly deviation from the seasonal cycle is tiny. Half the months are within a third of a W/m2 of the seasonal average … a third of a watt, to me that’s simply amazing.

Now, you might disagree with my hypothesis that the planet is thermoregulated by emergent climate phenomena such as thunderstorms, El Nino, and the PDO.

But the stability shown in the above graphs surely argues strongly for the existence of some kind of regulatory system …

My regards, as usual to everyone.

w.

AVISO: If you disagree with what I or anyone says, please quote the exact words you disagree with. It allows everyone to understand exactly what you are objecting to.

DATA AND CODE: You’ll need the CERES data (227 Mb) , the CERES surface data (117 Mb) and two support files (CERES Setup.R and CERES Functions.R) in your R workspace. The code is Arctic Albedo.R, it should be turnkey.

[UPDATE]

Well, y’all will find this funny, I assume … following up on the question of the net effect of the loss of the sea ice that came up below in the comments, I decided to see what was happening with the upwelling longwave. We’ve established that the loss of the ice increases the total solar energy input … but what about the energy loss via longwave? (Yr. humble author slaps forehead for not thinking of this sooner …)

arctic solar input and longwave trends

As you can see, the change in solar energy input is more than offset by increased losses … so the net effect of the melting sea ice is a net energy loss of 0.05 W/m2 per decade.

Note again the stability over time. Note also that this part of the system is not constrained by any need for solar input and longwave output to be stable, or to have the configuration they have. The average solar input is 30 W/m2, and the average longwave loss to space is 63 W/m2 … and despite the marked changes in ice cover over the period, they’ve only changed about 1% per decade over the period …

Gotta love the climate, always more surprises … 

w.

[UPDATE II] 

Some folks have said that there is a problem with my area-weighting, so let me explain exactly what I did.

The data exists in 180 latitude bands. The center of the bands start at -89/5° (south) and end up at 89.5° (north). To area-weight the data, we want to adjust the results for each gridcell by the area.

What we want to do is adjust the results to give what you would get if they had the size of the average gridcell. Now the area is proportional to the cosine of the mid-latitude. So what we do is multiply each gridcell result by

area of the gridcell / area of the average gridcell

This give each gridcell the value it would have if it were of average size. The effect of tiny gridcells is reduced, and the effect of large gridcells is increased.

Now, what is the average cell size? Well, if we integrate Cos(x) from zero to pi/2, we get 1. So the average gridcell size is 1/(pi/2) = 2/pi ≈ 0.637.

As a result, the weighting factor by which we multiply the gridcell value is, as you recall:

area of the gridcell / area of the average gridcell

which is equal to

cosine of the gridcell midlatitude / 0.637

Once you’ve multiplied the data by those weighting factors, you can compare them directly, as they are all adjusted to the average gridcell size.

The way to test if you’ve done this correctly is to see if the plain vanilla average of the newly-weighted dataset is correct. For example, see the average available solar (~340 W/m2) and solar input (~240 W/m2) values in Figure 3. They are simple averages of weighted data.

Note that there are two ways to do the weighting.

The first is to do all calculations (trends, etc) using the unadjusted variables. Then to get an average, you use what is called an “weighted mean”, which weights the data on the basis of gridcell area as it calculates the average.

The other way to do it is the way I described above, which converts all of the data to what an average sized gridcell would show. Once you’ve done that, you no longer need to do an area-weighted average, because the data itself is weighted. This means that you can use a normal average, and compare things like trends directly.

So … what I do to check my work is to compare the normal mean of the area-weighted data, with the weighted mean of the original data. They should be the same, and that is the case in this analysis.

Finally, an area-weighted mean uses different weights, where the sum of all of the weights is 1. This allows you to calculate the weighted mean as the sum of the product of the data and the weights. These weights are different than the weights I used to area-weight the data itself. These weights which do not sum to 1. However, the end result is the same.

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144 thoughts on “How Much Sunlight Actually Enters The System?

  1. Reduced ice in the Arctic also has an effect on the amount of LWR emitted, especially in the earlier part of winter. Liquid water is a much stronger source of thermal radiation than snow or ice.
    This isn’t albedo; it happens when the sun ISN’T shining. Nevertheless it is a significant opposing forcing resulting directly from reduced ice cover in the Arctic which seems not to have been taken into account.

  2. The science here is beyond me. However, what about Antarctic sea ice? I believe that Antarctic sea ice extent has expanded by almost the same amount as Arctic sea ice has shrunk. So, would the planetary impacts of northern and southern albedo changes cancel out?

  3. Again and again these researchers seem to run into the enemy of any investigator – Expectation Bias. They want to find support for a particular view, so they do – and ignore everything else.

  4. Thanks Willis. I am sure you have covered it previously somewhere but how do you see the top of atmosphere energy imbalance? I loosely understand that the Ceres data shows an imbalance of 6 w/m2 which has been somehow been “adjusted” to 0.6 to make it more sensible. In a stable system constrained by emergent phenomenon there wouldn’t be a consistent imbalance would there? The top of atmosphere imbalance seems to be the last refuge of proponents of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (and I suppose the deep ocean) ps my grandma would be a Ferrari. Sam.

  5. Willis, Simply elegant! Have you any notions as to a mechanism that would communicate a drop in albedo from polar zones to the tropics that would raise the albedo there?

  6. Willis said:

    “Solar energy input is a function of the albedo, which is determined by clouds, snow, ice, vegetation, and wind, and all of these are constantly varying in all parts of the planet …”

    Clouds (often the result of air mass mixing and thus wind) are the fastest and largest variable in my opinion.

    Total global cloudiness decreased when the sun was active (an external forcing element) and increased when the sun became less active according to the Earthshine project.

    It is global cloudiness that determines the proportion of solar input that can enter the oceans to drive the climate system and global cloudiness appears to respond to solar influences on the general air circulation.

    Willis is correct, though, that whatever internal forcing elements try to disrupt the system energy content then the air circulation will change so as to alter albedo as necessary in a negative system response.

    That is the essence of my New Climate Model which I have been boring you all about for some time.

    I’d like Willis’s comment on one important issue.

    If there is a negative system response to forcing elements as proposed by the thermostat hypothesis then what sets the temperature that the system responses work back towards?

    It cannot be GHGs because the thermostatic mechanism negates their effects does it not ?

    I did set out my own opinion on that in an earlier thread and would appreciate Willis’s perspective.

  7. I think, what a lot of th thermageddon crowd don’t get, is how long the planet and life on it has been around. If the system was privy to extreme feedback, and a cascading increases in temperature. Without an extraterrestrial influence. (not alien, jus of planet, you know lik the sun) It would have cooked a long long time ago. Some planets do get cooked, no doubt. But not on their own, and we are not an extraterrestrial forcing, or are we…

  8. “Instead, I was interested in finding out why the global temperature had only changed by ± 0.3°C over the 20th century. I was amazed by the stability of the system, not the fact that it had varied slightly.”

    Which argues for the case that the overall system has many, competing, negative feedback systems that serve to flatten out any imbalance to a nearly constant state.

  9. Willis,
    asking how much energy enters the system is the correct approach.

    SB calculations give the wrong answer.

    Empirical experiments give the right answer –

    Did I inadvertently mention the the cat got to the last Oreo? A quick scrape and it should still be ok.

    Come to the dark side Willis. I have cookies.

    You want to be smartest guy in the room? Funny thing. I want you to be that too.

  10. johnmarshall:

    At February 18, 2014 at 2:59 am you write

    Isn’t ”downwelling” also affected by albedo? Sounds like you arguing for the GHE.

    No sensible person disputes the greenhouse effect (i.e. the GHE). The debate concerns the existence and magnitude of a putative enhanced GHE which is known as anthropogenic global warming (i.e. AGW).

    If you read his above article then you will see Willis clearly argues that global temperature is constrained by effects of emergent properties of the climate system and, therefore, any AGW would be indiscernible.

    Richard

  11. How about some albedo increase over Antartica due to the positive trend of sea ice downthere balancing part of the albedo decrease over the Arctic? Did you check those data as well?

  12. richardscourtney says:
    February 18, 2014 at 3:09 am

    “No sensible person disputes the greenhouse effect (i.e. the GHE).”

    As performed under laboratory conditions.

    The impact and relevance of that work on a Global scale when weighed against other competing factors has yet to be determined accurately.

  13. R. Barrow asked:

    “Have you any notions as to a mechanism that would communicate a drop in albedo from polar zones to the tropics that would raise the albedo there?”

    Latitudinally shifting jets and climate zones resulting in longer lines of air mass mixing around the globe.

    More cloud free mobile polar high pressure cells (as per Marcel Leroux) pushing the whole air circulation system equatorward to produce more wind and cloud in the tropics

  14. RichardLH:

    At February 18, 2014 at 3:09 am I wrote

    No sensible person disputes the greenhouse effect (i.e. the GHE). The debate concerns the existence and magnitude of a putative enhanced GHE which is known as anthropogenic global warming (i.e. AGW).

    If you read his above article then you will see Willis clearly argues that global temperature is constrained by effects of emergent properties of the climate system and, therefore, any AGW would be indiscernible.

    At February 18, 2014 at 3:20 am you have replied saying

    “No sensible person disputes the greenhouse effect (i.e. the GHE).”

    As performed under laboratory conditions.

    The impact and relevance of that work on a Global scale when weighed against other competing factors has yet to be determined accurately.

    Please explain the nature and purpose of your reply to my post.

    Richard

  15. Fascinating stuff. I’m no climate scientist, I am a physicist (or at least I was until I realised I had to earn a living), but the one thing I know about the global climate system is that it is a complex and non-linear system and will therefore show chaotic behaviour. Indeed the whole genesis of chaos theory was the empirical observation that a crude computer climate model was very sensitive to tiny changes in initial conditions.

    Flipping the question from “why is the climate changing” to “why is it so stable” is profoundly significant.

  16. On the Greenhouse effect…More than a century ago…Angstrom…the pioneer of spectroscopy…said that the infrared absorption of CO2 was saturated…meaning adding more will not have any effect…he was the expert on the subject…not Arrhenius..the father of the unfortunate term Greenhouse effect…the effect of the atmosphere on surface temperatures on earth should be called the Moderating effect…without the atmosphere it would be roasting by day and freezing by night…very comfortable on average though !

  17. I agree that there is a net increase in the Arctic. It seems to me to be a bit of an oversight for the authors not to mention the reduction in the Antarctic.

  18. At low angles of incidence, I suspect calm water will reflect more incoming radiation than would dirty ice. So long as the Chinese are putting large amounts of particulates into the atmosphere, It’s possible that open water will result in cooler temps than would ice cover.

  19. Maurice Ewing was of the opinion that reduced Arctic sea ice would permit extra heat (bourn from the equator by the North Atlantic currents) to be released into the polar winter darkness and be lost to space. He saw sea ice loss as a precursor to a cooling phase.

  20. richardscourtney says:
    February 18, 2014 at 3:32 am

    “Please explain the nature and purpose of your reply to my post.”

    I was agreeing with you but clarifying that the case that GHGs cause a warming effect has only ever been confirmed (as opposed to suggested) under very limited, laboratory conditions.

    The true, wider, picture is still uncertain.

  21. ““No sensible person disputes the greenhouse effect (i.e. the GHE).”

    As performed under laboratory conditions.”

    Not even under laboratory conditions – even under laboratory conditions you have to have a similar system. That means a surface cooled multimodally (with the non-radiative fluxes dominating) and an atmosphere that can only cool radiatively to space.

  22. Pistone2014 Where’s the credit for Broke :)) ‘british joke’

    RichardLH; The argument is that a GHE exists and that is reasonable. Your argument is also correct it that the effect is ‘minimised’ by other climate effects.

  23. Any trivial decrease in Arctic albedo is more than offset by the increased albedo from greater sea ice extent in the Antarctic. Since ice there extends farther toward the equator than in the Arctic, the effect is greatly enhanced beyond just the area covered.

  24. There’s a bit of Gaia Hypothesis in this.
    Not tree hugging mystical Gaia but self -regulating feedback Gaia which tends [seems?] to keep environmental conditions within fairly narrow bounds.
    Occasionally things get out of whack, for instance the snowball [or slush ball] earth around 650Ma, but generally things stay within bounds that favour the survival of critters.

  25. Stephen Richards says:
    February 18, 2014 at 4:25 am

    “Your argument is also correct it that the effect is ‘minimised’ by other climate effects.”

    To an extant that the data has yet to determine with any scientific accuracy worth considering. The data set is WAY too short and too sparse to draw real definitive conclusions yet.

  26. A 0.3 W/m2/decade increase in total solar energy trend over the Arctic which represents 6.7% of the Earth’s surface is not exactly important. The math says a global impact of 0.02 W/m2 which would imply something like 0.004C to 0.01C temperature impact per decade.

  27. The Antarctic albedo area wise is much vaster than the Arctic because it includes the ice on the land (? as big as the Arctic) as well as the sea ice, both of which reflect. However the sun is further away and the amount of light/ heat to be reflected is up to 6 percent less .
    That is probably why there is so much more land and sea ice down South.
    This heat differential in the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere is rarely talked about and most effects are instead put down to having more land surface in the northern hemisphere when it is really a combination of both.
    This would make a good topic for you or Anthony, Willis.
    A side effect of this would have been that the Little Ice Age should have been a lot worse in the Southern Hemisphere, perhaps that’s why Gergis went so wrong

  28. Occasionally things get out of whack, for instance the snowball [or slush ball] earth around 650Ma, but generally things stay within bounds that favour the survival of critters.

    If it hadn’t we wouldn’t be here.

  29. “Vanishing” like in an illusion, a magic trick. Like when David Copperfield vanished the Statue Of Liberty. The ice is really still there like Lady Liberty. Pistone should try and get some practice before attempting to do adult tricks.

  30. Thank you Willis. It’s particularly timely to have an article on this topic. Northern hemisphere sea ice area is currently at 12.773 million sq/km. It’ll need to go some in the next few weeks if it’s going to reach the record smallest satellite-era maximum of 14.64 million sq/km set in 2006 and 2011.

    Of course this doesn’t tell us anything much in isolation, but a new record low maximum will be newsworthy, and will definitely be “yet more proof of CAGW” for those that choose to think so. I can already picture the screaming headlines in the newspapers…

  31. Great post, Willis.
    I wonder if the authors looked at outgoing longwave intensity. With less sea ice cover, the higher Arctic surface temperature associated with open ocean should result in an increased longwave emission intensity over the Arctic.

    A side issue from the paper’s Figure 4- I wonder why the authors think that NASA GISS has measured Arctic surface temperatures…

  32. I would like to correct some misunderstandings some have shown. Albedo on the Earth refers to the reflection fraction of incoming sunlight. Ice and snow have a relatively high albedo, and thus reflect a lot of incoming sunlight, while water has a very low albedo and absorbs most of the sunlight. However, once energy is absorbed and the surface is at a particular temperature, the controlling factor for long wave radiation out is not albedo (which refers to the short incoming sunlight wavelengths), but is due to the emissivity at the local temperature. The emissivity of ice and snow are almost the same as water at near the same temperature (and both are over .98). During winter at the polar regions, sunlight is very small to absent, so heat loss by radiation is about the same for water, ice, and snow. Conduction and convection are a different effect, but I am specifically referring to radiation only here.

  33. “This is about as neat a demonstration as I can imagine in support of my hypothesis that the system is not ruled by the level of the forcings—instead, it is regulated by a system of interlocking emergent climate phenomena.”

    I’m not convinced they’re interlocking, but otherwise agree. In the current example the tropics don’t block more because the arctic is absorbing more, the arctic absorbs more because it’s warmer and the tropics block more because it’s warmer. The “feedbacks” whether positive or negative is in response to temperature not changes in heat flux per se or changes in other regions.
    I’ve been following your hypothesis for some time now. I find it eloquent and well substantiated by data. I like to think of it as emergent phenomena acting as a kind of “climatological latent heat” which by the way is no more nonsensical than “trapping heat” or “heat content”. What bothers me is that this idea of climate governing hasn’t been seized upon and found its way into the peer-reviewed literature. What am I missing? Is this already an “understood you” element of climate that everyone in climate science knows and doesn’t need to say out loud? Has it been said in peer-reviewed literature and somehow been repressed or buried in the cluster-[self-snip]? Is it considered weather therefore not applicable to climate directly? What?

  34. Another great post from Willis.

    I can’t help but wonder if the earth was so sensitive to Arctic ice melting we would have been doomed a long time ago.

  35. In support of:
    milodonharlani says:
    February 18, 2014 at 4:26 am
    Any trivial decrease in Arctic albedo is more than offset by the increased albedo from greater sea ice extent in the Antarctic. Since ice there extends farther toward the equator than in the Arctic, the effect is greatly enhanced beyond just the area covered.

    William:
    It is curious that the media and the warmist scientific band wagon team have ignored the sudden increase in sea ice in the Antarctic. http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.anomaly.antarctic.png

    What is the physical cause of the sudden increase in Antarctic sea ice and what is the physical cause of the sudden changes to the jet stream?

    Global warming. Nah – no change in planetary temperature in 17 years.
    Has anything else changed? Yup – http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/assets/img/latest/latest_4096_4500.jpg

  36. Hi Willis. Another good posting from you that tells me you are watching “them”. So thank you for being there. How far off you are from calling out “Check Mate” I do not know but I hope I am still around when that time comes.

    There is one little thing thou that niggles me quite a bit, Your Figure 2 which shows both the clear-sky and the all-sky arctic total energy input, i.e.:

    “Total Solar Energy Input, Ocean Only, N of 60˚N Clear Sky (black) and All Sky (red)”

    It clearly states: “N of 60 ˚N” and I must assume that means North of 60˚ North.
    Well my problem is that some 73 years ago I was born a few minutes to the North of 60˚ N and in those days that was nowhere near the “Arctic Circle” which used to be the most southerly “marker” or border for the ‘Arctic’ part of the globe. That far south (60˚N) there is always some daylight hours even during the middle of the winter. – And the summers could have some very hot days or even weeks. During the summer of 1947, for one example, there were some people trying to fry eggs on the bare pavements in the streets of Oslo, Norway. (That was during the first bout of “Global Warming by CO2” idiocy)

  37. Nicely done Willis,

    Have you thought about breaking the data down by hemisphere and by season so as to try to determine what is going on with the SH summer experiencing substantially more TSI with mostly ocean (low surface albedo) is so close in T outcome with the NH summer (with somewhat less TSI) and far more land mass (much higher surface albedo)? I’m under the impression that there is not a tremendous amount of heat flow between the two hemispheres yet there is not substantial differences between SH & NH temperatures. That would suggest perhaps the cloud cover is working overtime in the SH to try to bring about parity in total absorbed energy.

  38. [snip - Slayers stuff - Bill you've been warned many times about posting this. Fair warning: if you continue you'll find yourself in the permanent troll bin - Anthony]

  39. William Astley says:
    February 18, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Spot on, so to speak!

    Or spotless record.

    Leif may be along soon to tell us we’re nuts.

  40. As can be seen very clearly in the last line of the excerpt THE REASON for there not being as much light in the sky is the amount of water.

    When the fundamental multiplier of your story is going backward from what you claimed,

    and the reason is the identical thing that throttles the sunlight itself,

    the attempt at calling it a respectable guess is far, far, in the past.

    Nobody respects mathematicians who can’t get the right answers,
    Nobody respects physicists whose loopy stories sound like a drunk clown in a B movie.

    Nothing the Green House Gas theory people put forward as their postulation for light handling by the atmosphere, has been even within the realm of ”I’m really not laughing in your face, I’m really taking this seriously as atmospheric energy science.”

  41. It occurred to me people who aren’t familiar with the story don’t realize one of the fundamental, underlying tenets of Green House Gas Weather hence Climate Control,

    is their absolute reliance on water multiplication in the atmosphere. When you can’t predict the water correctly as a Green House Gas Climate Control theorist,

    it’s over.

  42. Ed_B says: @ February 18, 2014 at 3:38 am

    Fascinating stuff. I’m no climate scientist, I am a physicist (or at least I was until I realised I had to earn a living), …

    Flipping the question from “why is the climate changing” to “why is it so stable” is profoundly significant.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That first statement has my physicist husband cleaning off his keyboard and monitor. (He became a technical writer)

    You are correct, ” “why is it so stable” is profoundly significant.” It means there are significant negative feedbacks. What is incredible is how stable the Holocene has been compared to other glaciations. graph

    (Thank You Willis, for bring one of those feedbacks to the attention of the world with your paper.)

  43. GregK says:
    February 18, 2014 at 4:34 am
    … Occasionally things get out of whack, for instance the snowball [or slush ball] earth around 650Ma, but generally things stay within bounds that favour the survival of critters.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Actually you have it backwards the interglacials like the Holocene are brief warming during a snow ball earth default conditions.

    Take a close look at the graph I posted of the last four interglacials. Overall the earth has been cooling GRAPH: 65 million years expanded graph for last five million years.

    That is why geologists generally laugh at Climastrologists.

  44. Angech says: @ February 18, 2014 at 5:06 am

    … This heat differential in the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere is rarely talked about and most effects are instead put down to having more land surface in the northern hemisphere when it is really a combination of both….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    John Kehr, touch on it in his article – Misunderstanding of the Global Temperature Anomaly.

  45. If the dominant energy supply were solar rather than coal, the religious environmentalists would probably be adopting the theory that man is taking solar energy away from the ecosystem.

  46. MikeN says:
    February 18, 2014 at 7:23 am
    ————————————————
    That is too true to be funny.

  47. @David in Cal says:
    February 18, 2014 at 2:16 am
    “The science here is beyond me. However, what about Antarctic sea ice? I believe that Antarctic sea ice extent has expanded by almost the same amount as Arctic sea ice has shrunk. So, would the planetary impacts of northern and southern albedo changes cancel out?”

    I think the Antarctic gain of ice mass may offset the Arctic loss of ice mass. However:
    (1) Antarctic gain detracts water from the sea and causes a decrease ub sea level, whereas Arctic loss of (floating) ice does not affect sea level;
    (2) net ice accumulation in Antarctica is mostly over land that was already covered by ice, so that it does not have much effect on albedo, whereas ice melting in the Arctic causes the area to turn from white to dark, reducing albedo.
    (3) there apparently is some loss of floating ice in West Antarctica, which would also reduce albedo just as a melting Arctic ice would do. However, the Antarctic melting may not be significant in relation to the process occurring in the North.

  48. Once Antarctic sea ice is taken into account there has been essentially no change in GLOBAL sea ice since 2000 (or 1979), yielding no net polar albedo effect. So why would the tropics show a downward trend in total absorbed solar? That would be Willis’ thermostat increasing clouds and albedo in response to the higher level of GHGs. That is the small change in interpretation that I would put on Willis’ CERES findings.

    On the original paper’s estimate of the size of the local albedo feedback mechanism, it is important to note that this local feedback effect is asymmetric in the warming and cooling directions. As the planet has warmed the marginal feedback effect from further warming and further polar ice melting has gotten smaller and smaller, as the sea ice has retreated to higher and higher latitudes where surface areas and solar incidence both get smaller and smaller.

    In the cooling direction these marginal effects get larger and larger as snow and ice descend to latitudes that cover vastly more surface area and where the sunlight is coming in at progressively steeper angles where it would do much more warming if it weren’t being reflected away. At some point we know that this cooling-direction albedo feedback overwhelms whatever thermostatic processes are at work in the climate system, causing the planet to descend at regular intervals in 100,000 yr long glacial periods.

    This asymmetry is a main reason why we need to be more concerned about cooling than about warming: it really can reach a tipping point and we damn well better be prepared to counter it. My suggestion, which I have reiterated a few times here, is to dot the great white north with soot generation plants that can spew all winter, but we had better get them built before glacial expansion gets rolling. If we wait until we know we’ve got a problem it could well be too late. Once snow and ice build-up begin in earnest, the great white north is not going to be a hospitable place for major infrastructure projects.

    We don’t have the technology yet to deflect mass-extinction causing asteroids and just have to hope that the next of these 100 million year events is not timed for the next century, but we do have a simple low-tech answer to the not quite so devastating but much-more-likely-to-hit-us-anytime-now next glaciation. We really need to get on it.

  49. Willis,

    You state: “Solar energy input is a function of the albedo, which is determined by ….. wind.”

    Not sure I follow this.

    Please can you explain or provide a link relating to this, to explain how this effect works?

  50. milodonharlani says:@ February 18, 2014 at 4:26 am
    William Astley says: @ February 18, 2014 at 6:00 am…
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    About the decrease in Arctics [sea] ice and greater sea ice extent in the Antarctic, everyone is ignoring the fall 2012 paper Can we predict the duration of an interglacial?

    WUWT discusion

    From the paper:

    Page 2
    We propose that the interval between the “terminal” oscillation of the bipolar seesaw, preceding an interglacial, and its first major reactivation represents a period of minimum extension of ice sheets away from coastlines. Given that the response of the MOC and the strength of the bipolar seesaw may be modulated by different boundary conditions (e.g. Green et al., 2010; Margari et al., 2010), it is conceivable that a non-active bipolar seesaw might not necessarily indicate interglacial conditions (false-negative) or that an active bipolar seesaw might not indicate glacial conditions (false-positive). With respect to the former, however, a terminal oscillation of the bipolar seesaw appears to be a characteristic feature of deglaciation (e.g. Cheng et al., 2009; Ganopolski and Roche, 2009; Barker et al., 2011). With respect to the latter, freshwater fluxes can occur within an interglacial, but are unlikely to lead to a major disruption of the MOC when the system is in a “warm circulation mode” (Ganopolski and Rahmstorf, 2001); thus, the first major reactivation of the bipolar seesaw would probably constitute an indication that the transition to a glacial state had already taken place. ….

    page 3
    The reactivation of the bipolar seesaw provides a minimum age or a “terminus ante quem” for glacial inception, which clearly had occurred sometime before. Based on the MIS 5e–5d transition, we propose to apply the same response phasing of 3 kyr to infer the onset of glacial inception at previous interglacial-to-glacial transitions….

    ….the June 21 insolation minimum at 65N during MIS 11 is only 489 W/m2, much less pronounced than the present minimum of 474 W/m2. In addition, current insolation values are not predicted to return to the high values of late MIS 11 for another 65 kyr. We propose that this effectively precludes a ‘double precession-cycle’ interglacial [e.g., Raymo, 1997] in the Holocene without human influence….

    This is not a paper to give one the warm fuzzies. This is the reason I have been looking at papers on Drake Passage especially after retired EPA scientist F. H. Haynie said:

    If I were asked to pick a single point on earth that most likely has the greatest effect on global weather and climate, it would be 0 and 90W (Galapagos). This is where El-nino winds, the deep sea Cromwell current, the Panama current, and the Humbolt current meet. These flows are not constant and each has different cycles and those cycles are not constant. Cycles on cycles create extremes in weather and climate. These extremes have an effect globally. I suspect these cycles are also controlling our observed atmospheric concentration of CO2. CO2 is very likely a lagging indicator and not a cause of climate change.
    wattsupwiththat(DOT)com/2014/01/18/comments-on-the-nature-article-climate-change-the-case-of-the-missing-heat/#comment-1540259

    A tongue of cold water from the Antarctic Circumpolar Current just before Drake Passage, heads up the coast of South America to Galapagos as the Humbolt Current “i a cold, low-salinity ocean current that flows north along the west coast of South America from the southern tip of Chile to northern Peru.” (WIKI)

    The Antarctic Circumpolar Current is wind driven and who knows what effect increasing ice will have on the Humbolt Current.

    Willis and Bob Tisdale have done a lot of research on what is going on in the tropics but very little work has been done on what is happening in the Antarctic and how it effects ENSO.

  51. ““No sensible person disputes the greenhouse effect (i.e. the GHE).”

    We color me an non nonsensical idiot.

    So back to an ongoing question that nags me that no one has been able to answer..

    Given a concentration of CO2 and radiation field (watts/m^2) what is the rate that CO2 converts one form of radiation to another?

    This should be a simple answer, right? I see a lot of articles that describe how GHGs supposedly work. Alas, no one has be able to show me how they work mathematically. Kinda important I think.

    We can talk about how strong an electromagnetic field is all day till we turn blue watching the cows come home. Until we theoretically quantify it i.e. x amount of incoming radiation + Black box (CO2) = .15x amount of outgoing radiation or what ever the amount is since it can not be 100% efficient, then we are just blowing smoke up our own well you know where I am going with that.

    Much like I know given a fuel, a burn rate and turbine size, I can predict the output of the Brayton Cycle. I should be able to establish a set of equations that does the same for CO2!

    CO2 convert one wavelength of electromagnetic radiation to another wavelength (that photon thingie) else it would be transparent to that wavelength.

    input (processes) = output.

  52. For direct observations in the Arctic see the following link.

    “PSD’s Polar Observations and Processes team and Environment Canada erected a 10.5 m flux tower in Eureka, Nunavat, Canada in 2007. At the top, we installed upwelling/downwelling shortwave and longwave radiation instruments . Downwelling instruments are facing up, measuring solar radiation from the Sun, while upwelling instruments are looking down, measuring radiation from the ground. Kipp and Zonen CM22 radiometers measure shortwave radiation, while Eppley PIR radiometers measure infrared radiation.”

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/arctic/observatories/eureka/eureka_tower.html

  53. I would argue that for the last 2.6Ma the climate has been demonstrably bistable and not very tightly regulated in between.

  54. It’s important to realize that a feedback represents the derivative of the flux with respect to temperature, not time. The absence of a trend in global shortwave may only reflect an absence of a trend in temperature, leaving the feedback ambiguous.

    My own examinations of daily CERES data and daily LT temps indicated a strong global negative feedback from the shortwave.

  55. Angech says:
    February 18, 2014 at 5:06 am

    The Antarctic albedo area wise is much vaster than the Arctic because it includes the ice on the land (? as big as the Arctic) as well as the sea ice, both of which reflect. However the sun is further away and the amount of light/ heat to be reflected is up to 6 percent less .
    That is probably why there is so much more land and sea ice down South.
    This heat differential in the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere is rarely talked about and most effects are instead put down to having more land surface in the northern hemisphere when it is really a combination of both.

    Sort of, but not quite fully correct.

    Albedo of Arctic sea ice changes only based on day-of-year. Albedo starts high at 0.82, stays steady at 0.82 until May, decreases through the summer to a low of 0.46, then rises again to 0.82 until about September, then remains at 0.82 until the end of December. This is from Dr Curry’s measured data.

    1. Albedo of sea ice does NOT change with latitude.

    2. Albedo of open ocean changes with every HOUR of every day as the solar elevation angle changes each minute. Specifically, open ocean albedo does NOT change explicitly with latitude, but latitude affects the overall SEA change over day-of-year AND latitude and hour-of-day (HRA), These changes are based on the earth’s declination and geometry and is strictly and specifically defined. But, Hour-of-day and day-of-year CANNOT be separated from latitude.

    3. Opposite the above, the yearly maximum solar radiation occurs in early January at 1410 watts.m^2. The minimum solar top-of-atmosphere radiation occurs July 3, when the Arctic sea ice is decreasing strongly day-by-day, BUT while Arctic sea ice is between min and max. Roughly, the edge of Arctic sea ice is between 74 and 76 north.

    At the point of maximum solar radiation at TOA, the ANTARCTIC sea ice is is a wide “ring” slowly varying from 59.2 south (last October under 1370 watts/m^2) to about 64 south latitude (in January under 1410 watts/m^2) to a minimum sea ice extent at 3 Mkm^2 (in March at 70 south latitude back down to 1360 watts/m^2). So, when the TOA solar radiation is at its maximum, ARCTIC sea ice is dark. When the top-of-atmosphere radiation is at its max, Antarctic sea ice is not at its minimum.

    Net effect: As a whole, Antarctic sea ice is MUCH, MUCH closer to the equator every day of the year.

    Overall, increased heat losses from open ocean in the Arctic (when Arctic sea ice is at a minimum in late August-September) are much greater than increased heat absorbed into that open water. More sea ice loss in the Arctic => More heat loss from the planet and a net cooler planet.

    The opposite happens in the Antarctic: More sea ice around Antarctica means more heat reflected from the planet and a net cooler planet.

    It is not really necessary to “combine” or group the other two parts of the Antarctic

    Up north, the Arctic Ocean STARTS at 70 north latitude, and this IS the southern limit of the Arctic Ocean. Essentially ALL “Arctic sea ice” then cycles between 70 north latitude (at MAXIMUM extents at 14.0 Mkm^2) and 80 north (if 4.0 Mkm^2). In the future, this minimum could go even closer to the pole: if there were 1.0 Mkm^2, all the arctic sea ice is a little beanie cap from the pole to 85 north latitude.

  56. Dan says:
    February 18, 2014 at 7:45 am (asking a question to)

    Willis,

    You state: “Solar energy input is a function of the albedo, which is determined by ….. wind.”

    Not sure I follow this.

    Please can you explain or provide a link relating to this, to explain how this effect works?

    Ocean Albedo behaves differently for direct radiation and diffuse radation.

    Diffuse radiation: Does not vary with wind speed, water turbidity, algae or plant levels, or solar elevations angles. Usually, open ocean albedo is = 0.065

    Direct radiation: Varies strongly (from 0.035 to 0.45) with solar elevation angles.
    At any given solar elevation angle, ocean albedo will decrease (more energy can be absorbed) as wind speed increases from 0. Usually, higher wind correspond to increased cloud cover also.

  57. Gail Combs says:
    February 18, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Truly cause for concern if the Holocene’s days are numbered, instead of being a super-interglacial (in duration, not intensity).

    Leif thinks that Bond Cycles are fictitious if not fantastic, but long ago on WUWT, I expressed the fear that our interglacial might have only one & a half such cycles (if such they be) left before another Big Ice Age, ie the rest of our current warm cycle, plus the next Less Little Ice Age Cold Period, followed not by recovery but renewed descent into the frigid depths. The long-term T trend since the Minoan (so-called) Warm Period, if not indeed the Holocene Optimum, has been down.

    So the 1970s alarmists were closer to being right than the present CACA crowd.

  58. @David in Cal says:
    February 18, 2014 at 2:16 am
    “The science here is beyond me. However, what about Antarctic sea ice? I believe that Antarctic sea ice extent has expanded by almost the same amount as Arctic sea ice has shrunk. So, would the planetary impacts of northern and southern albedo changes cancel out?”

    False.

    The Antarctic sea ice is INCREASING at all times of the year.
    The Antarctic sea ice cycles between a minimum of of 4.0 Mkm^2 at latitude 70 south, to a maximum of of 19.5 Mkm^2 at latitude 59.2 south.

    The Arctic sea ice only varies between 72 north and 82 north.

    On EVERY day of the year, Antarctic sea is exposed to 2 to 5 times the radiation that Arctic sea ice receives, and is therefore Antarctic sea ice is 2 to 5 times MORE important to the earth’s heat balance than the Arctic sea ice. (But the tropics are even more important.)

  59. Max Hugoson says:
    February 18, 2014 at 8:48 am

    The penalty for making up “data” should be forfeiture of the game.

    Temperature “records” from the 20th & 21st century must now forever carry asterisks, as do the corrupt home run records of McGwire and Sammy Sosa.

  60. Old Huemul says:
    February 18, 2014 at 7:40 am

    I think the Antarctic gain of ice mass may offset the Arctic loss of ice mass. However:
    (1) Antarctic gain detracts water from the sea and causes a decrease ub sea level, whereas Arctic loss of (floating) ice does not affect sea level;
    (2) net ice accumulation in Antarctica is mostly over land that was already covered by ice, so that it does not have much effect on albedo, whereas ice melting in the Arctic causes the area to turn from white to dark, reducing albedo.
    (3) there apparently is some loss of floating ice in West Antarctica, which would also reduce albedo just as a melting Arctic ice would do. However, the Antarctic melting may not be significant in relation to the process occurring in the North.

    Replying to each of the above:

    (1) False. Arctic sea ice floats on the Arctic Ocean. 19.5 Mkm^2 of Antarctic SEA ice also floats AROUND the 14.0 Mkm^2 Antarctic continent AND around the 3.5 Mkm^2 antarctic fixed ice shelves. You are somehow getting the 17.5 Mkm^2 permanent Antarctic continental ice mixed up with the 19.5 Mkm^2 varying Antarctic sea ice. At Antarctic sea maximum, there is a total of 14.0 land ice + 3.5 permanent fixed ice shelves + 19.5 sea ice = 37.0 Mkm^2 of total ice.

    (2) False. Dead wrong. The steadily increasing Antarctic sea ice is 2x to 5X MORE important in reflecting solar radiation than what little bit of Arctic sea ice is present at very high latitudes.

    (3) False. Totally misleading. That “some remaining” antarctic sea ice at minimum sea ice extents is LARGER than all of Greenland’s ice. (Not more massive, but larger in area). The EXCESS Antarctic sea ice in October last year at latitude 60 south was LARGER than the entire Hudson Bay occupied at 60 north!

  61. Amatør1 says:
    February 18, 2014 at 9:05 am
    Why worry about how much sunlight is entering the system, when the backradiation is twice as intense?
    *******
    Bingo!

    And how much actually does “work” on the climate?

  62. Nice work Willis.

    The one thing that seems missing from both the paper and you re-examination is the change in out-going LW.

    How can they possibly discuss “feedback” without assessing the full spectral impact of any changes? They show a +ve feedback in solar input but open water is nearly “black” in terms of LWIR. So if there’s more open water this also means more heat lost to space and that happens when the sun is out as well as well into the long polar night

  63. The other missing factor is direct surface reflection from open water and melt pools. This will mostly get missed by instruments aimed at the surface which are too sensitive to take full face shot of solar and have to shut a protective flap.

    When sun is at glazing incidence and a satellite is in a position to measure it , it’s probably in safety mode and not watching.

  64. Amatør1 says:
    ”Why worry about how much sunlight is entering the system, when the backradiation is twice as intense?”

    Yea, that’s why I wear GHE block instead of sun block; sunburn just isn’t anything to worry about anymore. Kids just aren’t going to know what sunburn is in a few years. etc. (/sarc)

    You’re not comparing NET heat fluxes; from the guestimate you linked the NET IR is 396-333=63 up, the 333 back-radiation (GHE) merely slows the radiant cooling from the surface which without it would be losing heat radiantly at 396 W/m2, but with it at only 63 W/m2 on average. Doubling CO2 is estimated to increase this by almost 4 W/m2 so the net heat loss would supposedly go down to about 59 assuming everything else remained the same. (sarc) Really scary! (/sarc)

    Also you’re comparing energy at different wavelengths. UV, Vis, and IR have different capabilities regardless of intensity.

  65. RACookPE1978 says:

    “Ocean Albedo behaves differently for direct radiation and diffuse radation.

    Diffuse radiation: Does not vary with wind speed, water turbidity, algae or plant levels, or solar elevations angles. Usually, open ocean albedo is = 0.065

    Direct radiation: Varies strongly (from 0.035 to 0.45) with solar elevation angles.
    At any given solar elevation angle, ocean albedo will decrease (more energy can be absorbed) as wind speed increases from 0. Usually, higher wind correspond to increased cloud cover also.”

    [Covers] what I said about direct [reflection] and more.
    Wave [height] (wind) is a key factor for open water but probably does not apply that much to exposed leads in the ice and shallow melt ponds.

  66. Once more we see psuedo science produced on demand for money, and for the benefit of the agenda to eliminate fossil fuel use. All part of the plan to dumb down the population .

  67. milodonharlani says: @ February 18, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Leif thinks that Bond Cycles are fictitious if not fantastic….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    First off Leif is a solar physicist and not a geologist.

    Second NASA has a page on the Dansgaard-Oeschger Oscillations and states they do not know what causes them. NASA also has a link to the papers written by Bond. D-O events are the same as Bond events but D-O occur during the cold periods and therefore are much easier to spot.

    Third there is a paper possibly linking D-O events to lunar tide north-south movement. The 1,800-year oceanic tidal cycle: A possible cause of rapid climate change

    Also even Leif agrees that due to the Milancovitch cycles we are looking at subdued solar forcing for thousands of years. One paper puts the Holocene Optimum as having 9% more solar insolation for 21 June at 65◦ N.

    The paper I link to above, “Can we predict the duration of an interglacial?” contained the solar insolation for 21 June at 65◦ N and CO2 for termination of several interglacials.

    Current values are insolation = 479 W m−2 and CO2 = 390 ppmv.

    MIS 7e – insolation = 463 W m−2, CO2 = 256 ppmv
    MIS 11c – insolation = 466 W m−2, CO2 = 259-265 ppmv
    MIS 13a – insolation = 500 W m−2, CO2 = 225 ppmv
    MIS 15a – insolation = 480 W m−2, CO2 = 240 ppmv
    MIS 17 – insolation = 477 W m−2, CO2 = 240 ppmv

    Despite what Englebeen is trying to push, Zbigniew Jaworowski showed that early ice core measurement gave much higher reading especially if the CO2 is extracted from the whole ice sample and not just the air bubble. So that makes those CO2 reading rather suspect.

    Are we headed into glaciation? Heck if I know but given the subdued solar insolation at the possible tail end of the Holocene, the focus of science ONLY on Global Warming with the stated aim of destroying our present technological society strikes me as mass suicide at least for most of the peasants. This is especially true when the USA got rid of the strategic grain reserves in 1996 and ran the the grain silos dry by 2008. Now the USA is burning any excess grain as bio-fuel.

    In other words the current US policies put us in the same position that the Little Ice Age peasants were in except there are more of us and we are completely dependent on a fossil fuel ‘Just-in-Time’ delivery system for our food.

    The 1974 CIA report: “A Study of Climatological Research as it Pertains to Intelligence Problems” certainly doesn’t give me any faith that our political leaders are concerned with the peasants survival either.


    “… Since 1972 the grain crisis has intensified…. Since 1969 the storage of grain has decreased from 600 million metric tons to less than 100 million metric tons – a 30 day supply… many governments have gone to great lengths to hide their agricultural predicaments from other countries as well as from their own people…

    pg 9
    The archaeologists and climatotologists document a rather grim history… There is considerable evidence that these empires may not have been undone by barbarian invaders but by climatic change…. has tied several of these declines to specific global cool periods, major and minor, that affected global atmospheric circulation and brought wave upon wave of drought to formerly rich agricultural lands.

    Refugees from these collapsing civilizations were often able to migrate to better lands… This would be of little comfort however,… The world is too densely populated and politically divided to accommodate mass migration….
    The Wisconsin analysis questions whether a return to these climate conditions could support a population that has grown from 1.1 billion in 1850 to 3.75 billion in 1970. The Wisconsin group predicted that the climate could not support the world’s population since technology offers no immediate solution. Further world grain reserves currently amount to less than one month; thus any delay in supplies implies mass starvation. They also contended that new crop strains could not be developed over night… Moreover they observed that agriculture would become even more energy dependent in a world of declining resources.

    Holdren and the other Malthusians from Stanford University are not alone. The US government has been behind them since BEFORE the book Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions (1973) was published recommending the USA be de-developed. The book just echoed the real thoughts of the US government of that time. Given Holdren is Obama’s Science Czar and the Malthusian drivel is still coming out of Stanford (Leif’s Univ) I do not see that the actual mindset in DC has changed.

    Those observation gives me nightmares especially since we see the US government behind the striping of assets of the USA including literally packing up and shipping our factories and technology overseas.

  68. Dang forgot the slash to close the bold on the last insolation reading. That is what I get for rushing …

  69. Billy Liar says:
    February 18, 2014 at 8:16 am

    I would argue that for the last 2.6Ma the climate has been demonstrably bistable and not very tightly regulated in between.
    ==============================

    I would also model the advance and retreat of continental ice as an oscillator inclusive of its attendant damping coefficients and feedback loops.

  70. One thing seems a little odd with all this “observable” evidence of positive feedbacks is that with the massive melt and all time lowest arctic ice extent in “recorded history”, that global temps have been stable to the last 15 years and show cooling since 2005.

    Looks like they must have overlooked something…. out-going LW neg. f/b perhaps??

  71. thanks again for another good job.

    Ratios of means vs means of ratios: what you really want is the full distribution of the ratios, but with low numbers and high measurement errors, the problem that you describe largely vitiates their use. The ratios of means are more stable, but are a biased estimate of the mean of the ratios. This is not a dispute of your choice; I am glad you described it as you did.

  72. Alec Rawls says:
    February 18, 2014 at 7:41 am
    Once Antarctic sea ice is taken into account there has been essentially no change in GLOBAL sea ice since 2000 (or 1979), yielding no net polar albedo effect.

    ————————

    The additional Antarctic sea ice is much closer to the equator, therefore, there is a significant positive global albedo increase.

    I think somebody here (in comments on WUWUT) has already estimated the effect and the increase in Antarctica was much larger than the decrease in the Arctic.

    The study is obviously biased, when they do not use precise language, making clear, that they are only looking at a misleading part of the whole story, or even making false claims such as about “planetary darkening”:

    “The present study shows that the planetary darkening effect of the vanishing sea ice represents a substantial climate forcing that is not offset by cloud albedo feedbacks and other processes.”

  73. Raises hand to ask question-

    Why is it, that no one ever just points out that ice sheets melting between glacial periods is NATURAL and PRECEDENTED, and thus EXPECTED? I mean, yeah…they melt. They “vary”. Naturally.

    I mean, it’s fine to argue over why and how and to what extent their size changes. Basic curiosity. But they seem to want to imply that at some point Earth reached a “static” point where none of the things that have happened, repeatedly, in the past were ever going to happen again. Thus-what is happening today is scarey, abnormal, disastrous.

    Seems that sometimes the simplest way to rebutt any alarm such papers cause, would be to just add something like “Just like it has in the past” to their titles.

  74. Willis,
    I thought you were retiring from climate but am delighted to observe that your contributions seem to be going up.

  75. You’re right, it’s amazing that the global variation is so small considering all the interacting causes and effects going on constantly and at the same time. Some of us would consider it as evidence of an overall design than we can barely grasp; I guess others would perhaps see it as the goldilocks effect. Either way, it’s just another of those things that makes you go “wow!” when you see it. Thank you.

  76. “Given a concentration of CO2 and radiation field (watts/m^2) what is the rate that CO2 converts one form of radiation to another?”

    dear god.

  77. Willis

    You might want to do an analysis of the position in the Antarctic.

    We all know the sea ice has been increasing at a significant rate for many years.

    However, what a lot of people are not aware of, is that the albedo of Antarctic sea ice is much larger than Arctic sea ice for the equivalent area and extent

    This is because due to the nature of the melting Arctic ice,,mainly from above in summer and Antarctic ice, mainly from below. This means snow cover disappears on Arctic ice and is retained on Antarctic ice and snow covered ice has a much higher albedo compared to most non-snow covered ice. The difference can be as big as twice as much.

    This has been confirmed by an expedition taking actual measurements in the Antarctic.

    Here is a peer reviewed paper giving the figures and you might find it amusing to turn you enquiring mind to the issue.

    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~sgw/PAPERS/2005_seaice_albedo.pdf

    Regards

    Alan


  78. Steven Mosher says:

    February 18, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    “Given a concentration of CO2 and radiation field (watts/m^2) what is the rate that CO2 converts one form of radiation to another?”

    dear god.

    From Box o Rocks

    Box,
    Co2 is going to absorb and emit radiation of various wavelengths based upon fundamental factors including temperature. Pressure broadens these wavelengths. The only conversion happening is going to be converting from thermal energy to radiated energy and converting from radiated absorbed energy to thermal energy. The gas must be hot enough to have the energy state populated in order that there is some radiation occurring from them. It depends upon also how much time between collisions where a higher state can be ‘disarmed’ into a lower state by thermal transfer of energy rather than radiated transfer. Unlike emission which requires the gas be hot enough to have a population of the particular state, absorption depends very little on temperature so it can absorb a photon even when cool. In short, co2 absorbs some energy at specific wavelengths and if the temperature of the energy going through is at the same value as the gas, it will appear transparent – absorbing the same as it emits. If hotter, it will produce emission lines. If cooler, there will be absorption lines. That’s about the only stuff that is fairly well known and considered – sort of. Unfortunately, the presence of clouds blocking the IR throw a monkey wrench into the basic theory and so do a few other things – like albedo. It’s sorta like the medical concept that you can take a cancer tumor out of the body and see how much of what chemo agent will kill it dead but it’s a totally different situation to think that this same agent and concentration will rid the patient of all of cancer (even assuming the concentration is not fatal to the patient). There’s just too many other factors that will come into play due to the complexity of the human body.

  79. Like RACook etc says above. Antarctic sea ice, not to mention continental or land ice, is more important than Arctic Sea Ice because it extends much farther from the pole and hence angle of solar incidence is higher.

    Every time that the Warmists talk about Arctic Sea Ice, one ought to say that the ultimate issue is “global” climate change, and therefore the relevant measurement is “global” sea ice coverage.

  80. cba says:
    February 18, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    So you are saying that we can NOT do an energy balance on a CO2 molecule wrt to radiation as the molecule absorbs energy, and then at some time later re-emits said energy?

    Oh my.

  81. R. Barrow says:
    February 18, 2014 at 2:40 am

    Willis, Simply elegant! Have you any notions as to a mechanism that would communicate a drop in albedo from polar zones to the tropics that would raise the albedo there?

    The tropics are constantly exporting energy to the poles. This is driven inter alia by the tropical/arctic temperature difference. When/if the poles warm, that transport slows dow. As a result, the tropics immediately warm up, since the export of energy is slowed …

    There are other mechanisms, as others have mentioned, but I think that is a main communication method …

    w.

  82. Ed_B says:
    February 18, 2014 at 3:38 am

    … Flipping the question from “why is the climate changing” to “why is it so stable” is profoundly significant.

    Indeed. I see it as one of my main communication goals, to spread that idea as widely as possible.

    w.

  83. gopal panicker says:
    February 18, 2014 at 3:59 am

    On the Greenhouse effect…More than a century ago…Angstrom…the pioneer of spectroscopy…said that the infrared absorption of CO2 was saturated…meaning adding more will not have any effect …

    Not true, I’m afraid. People think it’s like paint, that after it’s painted nothing more is achieved by an additional coat.

    But CO2 works differently. The issue is how many times your average photon of escaping longwave gets re-absorbed before leaving the atmosphere.

    As a result, even if the IR absorption is “saturate”, more CO2 will still increase the GHE.

    w.

  84. Mosher writes “A required cross check would be to look at a validated dataset for global albedo from 1981 to present. GLASS is one of two that exist.”

    It looks to me like the GLASS abedo product deals with land based albedo only. How would you propose to cross check land based albedo with global abedo, Steve?

  85. Bloke down the pub says:
    February 18, 2014 at 4:05 am

    At low angles of incidence, I suspect calm water will reflect more incoming radiation than would dirty ice. So long as the Chinese are putting large amounts of particulates into the atmosphere, It’s possible that open water will result in cooler temps than would ice cover.

    charles nelson says:
    February 18, 2014 at 4:10 am

    Maurice Ewing was of the opinion that reduced Arctic sea ice would permit extra heat (bourn from the equator by the North Atlantic currents) to be released into the polar winter darkness and be lost to space. He saw sea ice loss as a precursor to a cooling phase.

    You both point to a complex polar issue, which is the interaction of not much incoming sunshine, low angles of incidence, the albedo of ice vs. water, heat transfer from the tropics, and the insulative value of ice versus water. I’ve seen estimates that overall heat loss goes up when the ice melts … and I’ve seen estimates of the opposite.

    It strikes me while writing this that we might have enough data to answer the question. Sounds like a good project, and what I need is the gridded map of ice coverage on a 1° grid. With that plus the CERES data, we should be able to answer the question … always more things on my list.

    w.

  86. Well, y’all will find this funny, I assume … following up on the question of the net effect of the loss of the sea ice I mentioned above, I decided to see what was happening with the upwelling longwave. We’ve established that the loss of the ice increases the total solar energy input … but what about the energy loss via longwave? (Yr. humble author slaps forehead for not thinking of this sooner …)

    As you can see, the change in solar energy input is more than offset by increased losses … so the net effect of the melting sea ice is a net energy loss of 0.05 W/m2 per decade ..

    Gotta love the climate, always more surprises … I’ll put this as an update in the head post …

    w.

  87. “Pistone et al. note that the Arctic solar input is going up because of decreased sea ice … but they did not notice that at the same time, the tropical solar input is going down because of increased clouds. And the net sum of all of the changes, of more energy being absorbed in the extra-tropical areas and less energy being absorbed in the tropics, is … well … no change at all for the globe. ”

    As always, I feel I have received a shot of knowledge concentrate when you post. Terrific. The thermostat is getting more refined – we may soon better understand polar amplification and its unexpected effects elsewhere. Certainly other commenters have a piece of the puzzle in noting that reduced ice also increases LW upwelling, even in the dark with no albedo.

    I have a growing suspicion (hypothesis?) that when we talk about non linear, interlocking chaotic behavior of a system, it may be that we just don’t adequately understand it and in frustration appeal to it as such. I think you are reducing the “chaos” considerably. Like John West, I’m amazed that some ambitious climate scientist who wants to differentiate himself from the pack doesn’t glom onto the thermostat hypothesis (they would give it a new name of course) which seems almost free for the stealing.

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

    It strikes me while writing this that we might have enough data to answer the question. Sounds like a good project, and what I need is the gridded map of ice coverage on a 1° grid. With that plus the CERES data, we should be able to answer the question … always more things on my list.

    (from your earlier post)

    I’ve got that part solved: Inbound diffuse and direct SW solar radiation on an hour-by-hour basis for any day of year at any (arctic or antarctic) latitude.

    Have got ice albedo as it varies by day-of-year, open ocean albedo as it varies by hour-of-day (solar elevation angle) and day-of-year and wind speed. So albedo and reflected or absorbed values are ready for you for each day-of-year and latitude for direct and diffuse radiation.

    at every day of the year, at every latitude of interst where sea ice is actually present, much more energy is reflected from the Antarctic sea ice than from the Arctic sea ice because the Antarctic sea ice is always between 70 south at minimum extent amd 59.2 south at maximum. It is seeing much higher solar radiation levels at sea ice minimum, and much less air mass every day of the year, and much “cleaner” first year ice (higher albedo) than the “dirty” sea ice in the Arctic with much lower solar elevation angles and uch higher air masses.

    So, what is not very clear?

    Heat losses.

    Specifically, we would need air temperature for the latitudes where the sea ice edge is, or barring that, air temperatures, relative humidity, and wind speed for the latitudes in question for each day of year.

    (Forced) Convective heat losses. Convection losses are greater for open water than for ice-covered water. You need hour-by-hour air temperature, wind speed. (From average daily temperature and daily minimum and maximum temperature plots as thay change over the year, you can create an “adequate” hour-by-hour air temperature approximation for the latitudes in question.) And, regardless of ANY “approximations” heat transfer IS instantaneous: It depends on the sea surface temperature at that hour in question, the wind speed (which lets you calculate the heat transfer coefficient for convective losses), and the air temperature.

    Conduction heat losses. From sub-surface water temperature and top of water temperature for water, and water temperature and top-of-ice temperature if ice-covered. Heat has to go through the conduction layer to get to the air. More ice means more insulation, and less conductive heat is transferred to the air.

    Evaporation heat losses. Ice covers the water, so evaporation phase change energy is NOT released when ice covers the Arctic. Some little bit of ice sublimation energy needs to be calculated when ice covers the sea, but it is less energy/m^2 than evaporation energy – again, phase change energy loss INCREASES when sea ice coverage is lost in the Arctic. (Data needed is relative humidity and air temperature and air pressure.)

    Long Wave Radiation heat losses. When ice covers the water, the radiation heat losses are LESS than when open water is exposed to the same “Tsky”. Open water will radiate at 273 K (0 degrees C ) to 277 K (+4 degrees C) into a Tsky of ???? . Ice-covered water will also radiate into that same Tsky, but the surface of the ice will be just warmer than the air temperature: -10 degrees C (263 K) in early September to -25 degrees C near mid-October. Since energy lost to space is proportional (Tsurface^4-Tsky^4), open water loses much more long wave heat energy than does ice-covered Arctic waters. What is unknown? An adequate value for Tsky.

    At any given latitude, at one particular day-of-year, every square meter of open Arctic ocean will begin losing more heat every day than can be gained by what little bit is being absorbed from the sun. What specific day-of-year is that? Don’t know yet.

    But, under today’s conditions in the Arctic at minimum sea extents, we are already losing more energy from open ocean than we are gaining from the “dark” open ocean. The artful myth of Arctic amplification is wrong.

  89. Bill Illis says:
    February 18, 2014 at 4:46 am

    A 0.3 W/m2/decade increase in total solar energy trend over the Arctic which represents 6.7% of the Earth’s surface is not exactly important. The math says a global impact of 0.02 W/m2 which would imply something like 0.004C to 0.01C temperature impact per decade.

    While in some cases you’d be right, Bill, in this case I’ve already area-adjusted the data to show the global impact. I had to do that so I could compare e.g. Arctic and tropics and global.

    As a separate point, the area involved is only 3.3% of the global surface. Not only is it arctic only, but it’s only the ocean areas, and excludes the land.

    w.

  90. KRJ Pietersen says:
    February 18, 2014 at 5:32 am

    Thank you Willis. It’s particularly timely to have an article on this topic. Northern hemisphere sea ice area is currently at 12.773 million sq/km. It’ll need to go some in the next few weeks if it’s going to reach the record smallest satellite-era maximum of 14.64 million sq/km set in 2006 and 2011.

    I’ve given some thought to doing the same analysis, but this time masking out the ocean rather than the land … “… but at my back I always hear, time’s wingéd chariot hurrying near …”

    w.

  91. O H Dahlsveen says:
    February 18, 2014 at 6:08 am

    … There is one little thing thou that niggles me quite a bit, Your Figure 2 which shows both the clear-sky and the all-sky arctic total energy input, i.e.:

    “Total Solar Energy Input, Ocean Only, N of 60˚N Clear Sky (black) and All Sky (red)”

    It clearly states: “N of 60 ˚N” and I must assume that means North of 60˚ North.
    Well my problem is that some 73 years ago I was born a few minutes to the North of 60˚ N and in those days that was nowhere near the “Arctic Circle” which used to be the most southerly “marker” or border for the ‘Arctic’ part of the globe.

    Yeah, I know, it bugs me too. However, the ocean area north of 60°N is what they chose to study, so I had to follow their lead to understand their results.

    In fact as you point out the tilt of the earth’s axis is ~ 23.5°, so the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn have that value, and the Arctic and Antarctic circles are at 90° – 23.5° = 66.5°, not 60° … I suspect they picked the line to include the southerly edge of the the ice, but who knows?

    w.

  92. Dan says:
    February 18, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Willis,

    You state: “Solar energy input is a function of the albedo, which is determined by ….. wind.”

    Not sure I follow this.

    Please can you explain or provide a link relating to this, to explain how this effect works?

    Good question, Dan. There are a couple ways that happens, both over the ocean. First, as wind increases on the ocean, the surface becomes rougher and rougher. This increases the albedo of the water surface with the sun overhead from ~ 2.1% (calm) up to ~13.1% (rough). With the solar angle at 60° instead of 90° (overhead), the albedo goes up from 2.2% (calm) to 3.8% (rough).

    Another way that wind directly affects the albedo is also on the ocean. As the wind increases we start getting “whitecaps”. As you might guess from their color, they reflect much more sunlight than plain water. As wind increases from there, the whitecaps become breaking waves, again white, and covering more area.

    Next, with high winds you also get “spume”, or “seafoam”. This is the frothy stuff you see on the surface at time, and it also has a higher albedo than calm water.

    Finally, with high winds you get spray and “spindrift”. Again this is white in color (think fog), so it also increases the albedo.

    As to a link … well, some scientist must have studied this, but me, because I’m a seaman I just studied it in the wild, so to speak, so I fear I don’t have link one …

    w.

  93. Billy Liar says:
    February 18, 2014 at 8:16 am

    I would argue that for the last 2.6Ma the climate has been demonstrably bistable and not very tightly regulated in between.

    The temperature of the planet is about 290 K, and it varied about ± 0.3% over the 20th century … if you don’t call that a highly regulated system, you’ve never tried to regulate a heat engine. Your car’s cruise control is nowhere near that responsive.

    w.

  94. RACookPE1978 says:
    February 18, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Ocean Albedo behaves differently for direct radiation and diffuse radation.

    Diffuse radiation: Does not vary with wind speed, water turbidity, algae or plant levels, or solar elevations angles. Usually, open ocean albedo is = 0.065

    Thanks, RA. Worthwhile points. As you say, since diffuse radiation comes from everywhere above the horizon, it’s not affected by rough water … the angles don’t change. Some things do affect the albedo of diffuse radiation, however. One of them is wind-created white water (whitecaps, breaking waves, foam, spindrift, spray), which reflects light from all directions.

    Direct radiation: Varies strongly (from 0.035 to 0.45) with solar elevation angles.
    At any given solar elevation angle, ocean albedo will decrease (more energy can be absorbed) as wind speed increases from 0. Usually, higher wind correspond to increased cloud cover also.

    Mmm … my bible, the sixth edition of Geiger’s magnificent 1950’s opus “The Climate Near The Ground”, gives the following figures (Table 4.2, p 15):

    Solar Angle, Rough, Calm
    90               13.1%        2.1%
    60                 3.8%        2.2%
    30                 2.4%        6.2%

    Geiger says that at solar angles below about 50° above the horizon, wind decreases the albedo as you say. But from 50° to 90° (sun overhead) wind increases the albedo. Geiger also shows a maximum value of 13%, as opposed to your 45% … unless your figures include white water, 45% seems high.

    Geiger is an endless amusement of information. Did you know that the albedo of oak tree foliage (0.3 to 2µ) is 18%, but firs are only 10%? Go figure …

    w.

  95. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 18, 2014 at 6:54 pm (replying to)

    Dan says:
    February 18, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Willis,

    You state: “Solar energy input is a function of the albedo, which is determined by ….. wind.”

    Not sure I follow this.

    Please can you explain or provide a link relating to this, to explain how this effect works?

    Good question, Dan. There are a couple ways that happens, both over the ocean. First, as wind increases on the ocean, the surface becomes rougher and rougher. This increases the albedo of the water surface with the sun overhead from ~ 2.1% (calm) up to ~13.1% (rough). With the solar angle at 60° instead of 90° (overhead), the albedo goes up from 2.2% (calm) to 3.8% (rough).

    Hmmmn. Check your logic there boss: I think you are mixing energy reflected/energy hitting the surface (albedo) with energy absorbed/energy hitting the surface (1-albedo). [Rev: Nope, you are correct in your definition, but not the values.]

    Perfectly calm pure water under lab conditions reflects per Snell’s Law and the ideal Fresnel equations only in the lab under perfect conditions. Open ocean measured albedos – clear days, real water, real winds have to be measured. Dr Curry (and others) use Briegleb’s approximations based only on solar elevation angle (cosine of solar zenith angle in their papers) but Pegau and Paulson corrected that based on their measurements with Curry in the arctic for varying wind speeds during the SHEBA summer ice camps. As wind increases from a dead calm, albedo goes DOWN at all solar elevation angles (not up) as more solar energy is absorbed and less is reflected.

    For MU = sin(solar_elevation_angle) or Cosine(solar_zenith_angle)
    and WIND = 2 meter wind speed in m/sec

    open ocean albedo = (0.026/(MU^1.7 +(-0.0002*WIND^2+0.0076*WIND+0.0266))+0.15*(MU-0.1)*(MU-0.5)*(MU-1)))

    Ref: Pegau, Paulson

    http://scholarsarchive.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/27331/PaulsonClaytonAlbedoArcticLeads.pdf?sequence=1

  96. Willis:

    You are correct, increasing wind does “spray” water into white caps, but the papers measuring this effect find it does not change the albedo value for clear days and moderate winds (less than 10-12 m/sec), which was my criteria. I am assuming that “clear” days do NOT have storms nor high winds high enough to blow whitecaps. On stormy days, direct radiation is 0,0; ALL radiation is diffuse radiation, BUT those same clouds that create the diffusion also reflect into space 60-70% of the radiation at top of atmosphere. Also, in the Arctic, I am trying to compare the effect of “losing” any given meter of “sea ice” to “open water” … So the presence or absence of storm conditions would mean LESS heat loss under ice-covered waters and even MORE heat loss from storm-tossed wind-blown seas that increase convection and evaporation heat losses greatly.

    yes, the open ocean albedo for diffuse radiation is 0.065 for all solar elevation angles, but the amount of radiation actually penetrating those dark and stormy clouds that make high winds to get through to the open storm-tossed ocean surface is only a small fraction of what hits the TOA.

    Classic measured open ocean albedos at varying solar elevation angles are Payne, 1972 for the Chesapeake Bay light tower (although he combined direct and indirect radiation together) and Breigleb 1986: which has the “standard” albedo equation without Pegau’s wind correction, but that does separate direct and indirect radiation. Dr Curry uses Briegleb’s equation several times in her various papers, but it ignores wind changes. Olveria measured open ocean albedos several times as he crossed the south Atlantic ocean off of Brazil, and his data confirms Pegua … sort of. His data is mixed with reflections from the ship surface as they steamed south (towards the sun) and contains multiple “tracks” as clouds covered the sun during part of his “clear days” plots.

    Best ever “visual” plot of the albedo’s under varying solar elevation angles for direct radiation compared to indirect radiation are the “pretty” multi-color Figure 4 of Rutledge 2004, repeated in 2003 and 2006 from his COVE experiments. Like Payne, Rutledge measured open ocean albedos at varying SEA’s from a fixed tower off the Atlantic coast..

  97. Steven Mosher says:
    February 18, 2014 at 9:04 am

    A required cross check would be to look at a validated dataset for global albedo from 1981 to present. GLASS is one of two that exist. The PI for GLASS is pretty good about answering questions if you write to him. It’s validated against FLUXNET ground stations and has both white sky and black sky albedo.

    Interesting point, Steven.

    As I mentioned above, I dislike using albedo because it is a ratio. When the denominator gets small, you get all kinds of strange results. For example, in the CERES dataset, there are 180 latitude x 360 longitude x 156 months ≈ ten million gridcell measurements.

    Of these, about three quarters of a million of them, 7.5%, have reflected solar greater than downwelling solar … bad gridcells, no cookies.

    Now for most things this isn’t an issue, simply because the mean value of the downwelling solar in those bad gridcells is 0.2 W/m2, with the mean upwelling reflected solar being 0.3 W/m2. In addition, the median downwelling solar value in the bad gridcells is 0, with the median upwelling solar being 0.06. What is the albedo of a gridcell that is reflecting 0.6 W/m2 of solar but not receiving any solar at all?

    Now, when I’m adding or subtracting those downwelling and reflected values, there’s no problem. The sum total of the downwelling solar in all of the bad gridcells is 0.005% of the total incoming sunshine. The corresponding figure for the reflected solar is 0.03%, three hundredths of one percent of the total. That’s no problem in any calculation.

    But when I calculate the albedo, I have to divide one by the other, and that gives us all kinds of bizarre values.

    Finally, bear in mind that all of these bad gridcells are near the poles, where the sunlight goes to zero.

    So while cross-checking the arctic numbers is a good thing … I don’t think I’d do it with albedo. I prefer a more well-behaved measure, like the total solar energy input I used in the head post.

    Thanks as always,

    w.

  98. RACookPE1978 just re your comment of at any latitude antarctic reflects more than Arctic at any given equivalent day of the year. The Antarctic is further away from the sun by up to 6% than the Arctic so at the same location, if ice was present at the same stage of the cycle [day 24 say of winter north and south] The arctic sea ice would reflect more energy than the equivalent Antarctic ice.
    Your other points are very valid about the sea ice extent being so much further out in general.
    You did not comment on the combined albedo of the Antarctic Land ice [presumably equivalent to the Arctic [6% less ]] and the sea ice much higher as so much further out giving much more reflected heat to space down south

  99. Aphan says: @ February 18, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Raises hand to ask question-

    Why is it, that no one ever just points out that ice sheets melting between glacial periods is NATURAL and PRECEDENTED, and thus EXPECTED? I mean, yeah…they melt. They “vary”. Naturally….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    It is even funnier than that. If you take a longer point of view the glaciers are actually net increasing and all the warmists are doing is crying about minor variations in weather.

    Temperature and precipitation history of the Arctic 2010
    Miller et al
    Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, USA et al

    …. Solar energy reached a summer maximum (9% higher than at present) ~11 ka ago and has been decreasing since then, primarily in response to the precession of the equinoxes. The extra energy elevated early Holocene summer temperatures throughout the Arctic 1-3°C above 20th century averages, enough to completely melt many small glaciers throughout the Arctic, although the Greenland Ice Sheet was only slightly smaller than at present. Early Holocene summer sea ice limits were substantially smaller than their 20th century average, and the flow of Atlantic water into the Arctic Ocean was substantially greater. As summer solar energy decreased in the second half of the Holocene, glaciers re-established or advanced, sea ice expanded

    A more recent paper looking at glaciers in Norway.

    A new approach for reconstructing glacier variability based on lake sediments recording input from more than one glacier January 2012
    Kristian Vasskoga Øyvind Paaschec, Atle Nesjea, John F. Boyled, H.J.B. Birks

    …. A multi-proxy numerical analysis demonstrates that it is possible to distinguish a glacier component in the ~ 8000-yr-long record, based on distinct changes in grain size, geochemistry, and magnetic composition…. This signal is …independently tested through a mineral magnetic provenance analysis of catchment samples. Minimum glacier input is indicated between 6700–5700 cal yr BP, probably reflecting a situation when most glaciers in the catchment had melted away, whereas the highest glacier activity is observed around 600 and 200 cal yr BP. During the local Neoglacial interval (~ 4200 cal yr BP until present), five individual periods of significantly reduced glacier extent are identified at ~ 3400, 3000–2700, 2100–2000, 1700–1500, and ~ 900 cal yr BP….

    The authors of BOTH papers simply state that most glaciers likely didn’t exist 6,000 years ago, but the highest period of the glacial activity has been in the past 600 years. This is hardly surprising with ~9% less solar energy.

  100. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:
    I always appreciate Willis’ writing, but this is particularly insightful and informative. The fact is, the Arctic is not warming the planet. In fact, the ice isn’t even melting at this point. We shall see, but it seems to me we’ve probably past the peak, and we will be chilling for the next several years. I hope not. Cold kills. Warmer is better.

  101. angech says:
    February 18, 2014 at 9:11 pm (Replying to)

    RACookPE1978 just re your comment of at any latitude antarctic reflects more than Arctic at any given equivalent day of the year. The Antarctic is further away from the sun by up to 6% than the Arctic so at the same location, if ice was present at the same stage of the cycle [day 24 say of winter north and south] The arctic sea ice would reflect more energy than the equivalent Antarctic ice.
    Your other points are very valid about the sea ice extent being so much further out in general.
    You did not comment on the combined albedo of the Antarctic Land ice [presumably equivalent to the Arctic [6% less ]] and the sea ice much higher as so much further out giving much more reflected heat to space down south

    Hmmmn.

    No. The “further from the sun” phrase requires further amplification.

    Let us continue the conversation – as “I” understand, then I need you to show me where I am misunderstanding your phrase.

    The earth rotates through space at 23.5 degrees angle, so at various days-of-the-year, each pole (Arctic and Antarctic) ‘rolls” “closer to the sun” on a regular basis. True.
    BUT!
    On January 3, the earth itself is closer to the sun than on July 3, so on January 3 – mid-summer in the Antarctic – the top-of-atmosphere solar radiation over EVERY square meter of the planet exposed to the sun = 1410 watts/m^2. But the Arctic area has 0.00000 watts/m^2 of sunlight on January 3. And 0.000 on January 4,5,6,7 ….. also.

    Now, around that date of January 3, the SOUTH POLE (Antarctic continent and shelf ice and sea ice) has rolled around so IT is exposed to the sun for 24 hours per day for all regions between 67.5 south latitude (all of the remaining sea ice of 3.4 Mkm^2, all of the permanent shelf ice of 3.5 Mkm^2, AND all of the continental ice of 14,0 Mkm^2) for 24 hours per day. (A little bit of the peninsula sticking towards south America does melt off each summer.)

    So, when the earth is closest to the sun, 14.0 + 3.5 + 3.4 Mkm^2 = 21.1 Mkm^2 of “some kind of ice” remains exposed to 24 hours per day of sun, right?

    Now, on July 3, when the north pole has “rolled” over so IT is exposed to the sun, the entire earth is further from the sun on its elliptical orbit, so the whole earth is exposed to the sun with only 1314 watts/m^2. 1314 is less than 1410, right?

    BUT, when the Arctic sea ice is “retreating” in the Arctic summer during this period of low solar radiation levels, it is retreating from 70 north (the north coast of Alaska and Siberia) back towards its minimum of about 80 north in September.

    So, when the whole earth’s radiation levels are lower, the little bit of 3.5 Mkm^2 of Arctic ice that remains at minimum sea ice extents is all that can reflect. And that Arctic “reflection” is happening between 78 north latitude and 80 north latitude. (To be clear, on July 3rd, more than the yearly minimum of 3.5 Mkm^2 of Arctic sea remains up north. Assume 6-8 Mkm^2 is up there, but it varies year-to-year.)

    Your average “flat plate area” exposed to the sun is going to change based on the sin of the latitude of the area of the sea ice remaining. (If you want the “average” best fit polynomial equation matching sea-ice-edge-to-latitude for 2011-2013 calender years, let me know. It ain’t pretty.)

    So, on the same date in mid-September, when the identical “radiation received on a flat plate on the surface” at 80 north is only 1/5 of what is being received at the edge of the Antarctic sea at latitude 60, which is area – Arctic or Antarctic – is more important to the earth’s heat balance?
    Regardless of when each area is “closest to the sun” in July or September or January?

  102. Simple tim. Its called a land mask.
    If one data set does global and the other does land only.and the land only is validated you check the land versus the land.

    If they dont match then you have no reason to trust
    The global one that hasnt been through validation.

    If they do match then your one step closer.

    Next would be to check greenland in both.

    Finally would be to check avhrr which the authors
    Appear to have started.

    Lastly one would check the other global albedo product t g at goes back to 1980s. That would be the SAL product

    Or you can stop when you find answer you like
    And as feynman observed…fool yourself

  103. angech says: @ February 18, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    RACookPE1978 just re your comment of at any latitude antarctic reflects more than Arctic at any given equivalent day of the year. The Antarctic is further away from the sun by up to 6% than the Arctic….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    ?????
    In July when the Arctic is in summer (and reflecting sunlight) the earth is 94,500,000 miles from Sun.

    In January when the Antarctic is in summer (and reflecting sunlight) the earth is 91,400,000 miles from Sun.

    NASA link

  104. Gail! See the comment immediately above your reply. 8<)

    I think you are mixing my reply to Angech with my “repeat” of his (incorrect) statement about the 6% yearly change in top-of-atmosphere radiation levels. There IS a 6% change in TOA solar radiation levels. But the “peak” of that 6% change occurs – NOT when the “dirty” Arctic ice is exposed to the sun at 76 north in July 3 – but when the “new first year clean” Antarctic sea ice is exposed to the sun at 65 south on January 3!

    It is the Antarctic sea ice which is exposed to 5x the solar radiation levels that the Arctic sea ice is exposed to.

    Angech says:
    February 18, 2014 at 5:06 am (Edit)

    The Antarctic albedo area wise is much vaster than the Arctic because it includes the ice on the land (? as big as the Arctic) as well as the sea ice, both of which reflect. However the sun is further away and the amount of light/ heat to be reflected is up to 6 percent less .

  105. Mosher writes “Simple tim. Its called a land mask.”

    And at what time does a land mask mask out the albedo due to clouds?

    You’re comparing satellite data that includes clouds with GLASS data that doesn’t. So now you’re making assumptions about the effects of the clouds (and atmospheric effects in general) in your data.

  106. Willis Eschenbach: As I mentioned above, I dislike using albedo because it is a ratio. When the denominator gets small, you get all kinds of strange results. For example, in the CERES dataset, there are 180 latitude x 360 longitude x 156 months ≈ ten million gridcell measurements.

    Of these, about three quarters of a million of them, 7.5%, have reflected solar greater than downwelling solar … bad gridcells, no cookies.

    Just to elaborate, when the numerator and denominator have random variation, including but not limited to measurement error, the distribution of the ratio is totally non-intuitive. The best studied case, naturally, is independent normal distribution in numerator and denominator (if you want to look this up, I can find you some references, but the best approach has been the bootstrapping approach of Prof. Bradley Efron.) Willis is right in this case: there is no satisfying (e.g. demonstrably accurate) approach.

  107. Some folks have said that there is a problem with my area-weighting, so let me explain exactly what I did.

    The data exists in 180 latitude bands. The center of the bands start at -89/5° (south) and end up at 89.5° (north). To area-weight the data, we want to adjust the results for each gridcell by the area.

    What we want to do is adjust the results to give what you would get if they had the size of the average gridcell. Now the area is proportional to the cosine of the mid-latitude. So what we do is multiply each gridcell result by

    area of the gridcell / area of the average gridcell

    This give each gridcell the value it would have if it were of average size. The effect of tiny gridcells is reduced, and the effect of large gridcells is increased.

    Now, what is the average cell size? Well, if we integrate Cos(x) from zero to pi/2, we get 1. So the average gridcell size is 1/(pi/2) = 2/pi ≈ 0.637.

    As a result, the weighting factor by which we multiply the gridcell value is:

    area of the gridcell / area of the average gridcell

    which is equal to

    cosine of the gridcell midlatitude / 0.637

    Once you’ve multiplied the data by those weighting factors, you can compare them directly, as they are all adjusted to the average gridcell size.

    The way to test if you’ve done this correctly is to see if the plain vanilla average of the newly-weighted dataset is correct. For example, see the average available solar (~340 W/m2) and solar input (~240 W/m2) values in Figure 3. They are simple averages of weighted data.

    Note that there are two ways to do the weighting.

    The first is to do all calculations (trends, etc) using the unadjusted variables. Then to get an average, you use what is called an “weighted mean”, which weights the data on the basis of gridcell area as it calculates the average.

    The other way to do it is the way I described above, which converts all of the data to what an average sized gridcell would show. Once you’ve done that, you no longer need to do an area-weighted average, because the data itself is weighted. This means that you can use a normal average, and compare things like trends directly.

    So … what I do to check my work is to compare the normal mean of the area-weighted data, with the weighted mean of the original data. They should be the same, and that is the case in this analysis.

    Finally, an area-weighted mean uses different weights, where the sum of all of the weights is 1. This allows you to calculate the weighted mean as the sum of the product of the data and the weights. These weights are different than the weights I used to area-weight the data itself. These weights which do not sum to 1. However, the end result is the same.

    Regards to all,

    w.

  108. Much is being said about heating leading to more water in suspension and greater rainfall. Considering that not all that long ago we were being told to design gardens that conserved water there is strong evidence of fashion and errant surmise conquering all.

    Presumably if we do eventually cloud over and receive less light (and heat) from the sun (plus the reflective propensity of clouds) we will have a climate that cools of its own volition.

    Today there is much in the news about the glorious increase in butterflies in Britain as a result of a warm summer. Vegetation also benefited and all manner of food crops grew that much better. This can easily be discounted as being an aberrant phenomenon, but how many such summers would it take to change people’s minds about outcomes, answer, you never will.

    So many absurd claims have been made now that we are entering the region of personal reputations and people are going to get even more antagonistic towards ‘deniers’ as time passes just to save face.

    If there was some acceptance that the earth, for whatever reason, might be warming and all the money spent so fatuously on theorising was put into projects that accepted the fact and moved on to adapt the changed circumstances, how much better we all would be? Just to get rid of this adversarial impasse would concentrate minds wonderfully.

    The era of the climate model must come to an end. It is rather like necromancy and mirrors that thing about garbage in-garbage out. It is particularly galling when one considers that Jet Stream science is obviously such a mystic region of understanding and yet without a complete understanding of how the movement of that recalcitrant zephyr works you might as well use that giant network of computers in Exeter to play Tetras.

  109. I’m confused. In your post, Willis, you state “They report an increase in Arctic solar energy input over the ocean of 0.21 W/m2 over 32 years … and the CERES data shows an increase of 0.3 W/m2 per decade.” If I’m understanding what you did correctly, your calculations were for the Arctic ocean only–but Pistone et al.’s 0.21 W/m^2 value is for the entire planet. The effect of the albedo decrease they calculated for the Arctic alone is 6.5 W/m^2, as per the quoted excerpt from their paper you include in your piece. Or am I misunderstanding something?

    Another question I had was with regards to the source of your data. Did your calculations make use of the unadjusted SSF CERES dataset, or the EBAF data (adjusted within the range of the error in order to agree with the observed OHC changes)?

  110. Very good article, I have a question:

    When you hear claims that UV Irradiance can vary by as much as 15% across solar cycles, how many watts per square meter change does that represent?


  111. Box of Rocks says:

    February 18, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    OH MY –
    meant to say –

    we can NOT do an energy balance…

    [Fixed


    Energy gain can be by absorption or by collision… Energy loss can be either by emission or by collision… Guess one has to just check the temperature for a whole batch of molecules to get an idea of what’s going on.

  112. Willis,

    There is also the Earthshine project that works to quantify things by observing Earthshine from the Moon. They attempted reconstructions as well.

  113. Dromicosuchus says:
    February 19, 2014 at 4:12 am

    I’m confused. In your post, Willis, you state “They report an increase in Arctic solar energy input over the ocean of 0.21 W/m2 over 32 years … and the CERES data shows an increase of 0.3 W/m2 per decade.” If I’m understanding what you did correctly, your calculations were for the Arctic ocean only–but Pistone et al.’s 0.21 W/m^2 value is for the entire planet.

    No, both of us are using the same measurement, area-adjusted figures. Both of us are measuring the Arctic regiion. However, because this is such a small region, a large change there doesn’t have much effect on the world. We’re both calculating that smaller effect.

    w.

  114. Willis

    Now, you might disagree with my hypothesis that the planet is thermoregulated by emergent climate phenomena such as thunderstorms, El Nino, and the PDO.

    Careful, I think they’re starting to move the argument on to something akin, except of course this is something to be feared – more money please.

    Ironically, wouldn’t you need a model to express your hypothesis and then make predictions based on it?

    But the stability shown in the above graphs surely argues strongly for the existence of some kind of regulatory system …

    Without doubt.

  115. The earth is not a perfect sphere. Because it spins, it’s wider across the equator than pole to pole. The shape is like a beach ball that is “squashed” very slightly. However, the squash is not very much. Here’s a scale drawing. It shows an ellipse in red, with equatorial and polar radii of 12,756.2 and 12,713.6 km. Then underneath the ellipse is the black line of a perfect circle of average radius, 6367.5 km … can you tell the difference?

    As a result, for anything but the most precise of measurements, the error in using an assumed perfect sphere for the earth is trivial.

    Gavin Schmidt of climate model fame has kindly pointed me to the actual weights for the oblate spheroid used by CERES. Well, actually, he unkindly pointed me to them, since he did it on Twitter rather than here, where it might have done some good … I did love his tweet:

    Won’t someone mention to WE that his area weighting for CERES data is wrong?

    Anthony invited him to comment here, but he passed. Gavin and I have been kind of distant since he started censoring my on-topic scientific comments at his blog. His science-fu is strong, but he’s a true believer in the church of “temperature is a linear function of forcings”, and he can’t abide people saying otherwise on his blog.

    Anyhow, Gavin is 100% correct. But it’s a difference that makes no difference for the type of analysis I’m doing. The variable of interest measured by Pistone et al. was the trend in the total solar energy input to the ocean areas north of 60° N.

    Using the old weights based on a perfect sphere, I got

    Solar Input Trend = 0.37 W/m2 per decade, p-value = 0.035

    Using the new weights based on the oblate spheroid, I get

    Solar Input Trend = 0.37 W/m2 per decade, p-value = 0.035

    The difference in the area of the ocean north of 60*N when calculated using the correct weights recommended by Gavin is 0.7%, seven-tenths of a percent larger than my old calculation. At the other extreme, the difference in the calculated area of the tropical ocean 23.5°N/S using the new weights is -0.4%, four-tenths of a percent smaller than what I used in the head post …

    So while there are analyses to be done for which that would be an issue, for my analysis it’s a difference that doesn’t make a difference.

    Since that seems to be Gavin’s main objection, I’m a happy man … in any case, my thanks to him for pointing it out. Although his style was more in the nature of “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”, at the end of the day he was right, and someday I might do an analysis where that would make a difference.

    w.

  116. RACookPE1978 says: @ February 18, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Gail! See the comment immediately above your reply. 8>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    OOPs sorry, I have read enough of your comments to know better, and yes I was replying to him not you.

  117. cd says:
    February 19, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Willis

    Now, you might disagree with my hypothesis that the planet is thermoregulated by emergent climate phenomena such as thunderstorms, El Nino, and the PDO.

    Careful, I think they’re starting to move the argument on to something akin, except of course this is something to be feared – more money please.

    Ironically, wouldn’t you need a model to express your hypothesis and then make predictions based on it?

    Thanks, cd. I have no problem with computer models, I use them and have written them for a host of problems and puzzles.

    But the model has to actually model the reality, and the current crop of climate models are not even close.

    w.

  118. Malcolm Turner

    I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment of your post. They’re getting themselves tied in knots. We’re constantly being told that the more moisture in the atmosphere, as result of an initial perturbation caused by increasing atm CO2, then the greater the greenhouse effect (positive feedback). At the same time, more moisture will mean more rainfall which necessitates more cloud (surely?) which would give us part of the thermoregulator. So which is it? I’m confused and I think despite the best efforts of the warmists to cynically hijack the recent flooding in the UK, the public don’t believe it anymore.

  119. Willis writes “Gavin Schmidt of climate model fame has kindly pointed me to the actual weights for the oblate spheroid used by CERES.”

    I certainly sense that some in the AGW camp who ought to know better have great difficulty in assessing what is important and what isn’t. I have been dumbfounded in the past at some of their reasons for glossing over major uncertainty in their results and pretzel shaped logic they use.

  120. This makes a lot of sense. In the Arctic the water is often warmer than the air. So the AGW mantra of less ice = less albedo = warming is over simplistic and wrong. Less ice means heat transfer from water to air leading to IR emission to space, as Willis has now confirmed. This is extremely important.

    AGW scientist bandy around claims of positive feedback without apparently having any idea of how profound the implications are of such a claim. A system with dominant positive feedbacks is unstable and either runs away to a fictitious catastrophe (never happened in 4 billion years but apparently now will) or settles into a regular oscillation. The evidence for this in climate history is totally absent, instead – as Willis point out, the climate is stable, not unstable.

    So claims of positive feedback are thinly disguised political wishful thinking, are very irresponsible and reveal deep ignorance of the role of feedbacks in thermodynamic systems. They actually reveal contempt for science and absence of real curiosity as to the reality of climate, just politically motivated story-telling for muddle-headed chattering class luvvies who will eagerly accept any pseudo-scientific nonsense to support their left wing political predjudices.

    Incoming solar energy to earth sets in motion processes, such as evaporation and cloud formation, which oppose the solar input. Where an input to a system causes an opposing process this negative feedback can be referred to as friction, and, together with being dissipative of heat, are classic ingredients of a chaotic nonlinear pattern-forming system. Such systems can display high Lyapunov stability to perturbation as they tend to converge to attractors. However such dynamics also lead to the chaotic meanderings of climate as first demonstrated by Lorenz. By contrast positive feedbacks suppress such complexity. Positive feedback leads to the expectation of simplicity in climate. Negative feedbacks to complexity. What is the reality? [Its complexity.]

  121. One thing I never did understand about CO2 sensitivity and by extension water vapor/clouds.

    If 22.5% or whatever of the sun’s total energy never actually makes it to earth because of the greenhouse gases, where are they supposed to be making up that heat, (almost a quarter of the sun’s total energy to the earth is a lot of energy)

    that they can claim the greenhouse effect is warming earth? No one has ever explained to me where they can point to a mechanism that delivers almost a quarter of the sun’s energy back plus some.

    I have seen people talk about trapping but you don’t get heat gain when you block 25% of the source heat, giving something whatever temperature, it’s got.

    That’s like saying you have a filter that spills a quarter of a tank of energy on the ground, but when you start your heater and run it, it gives off just as much as a full tank does, plus a little.

    So that’s obviously not flying or people would have heaters like that everywhere

    I have read people say this and that, but I’ve never understood the whole thing in the first place.

    When I was in business school I did work in some plant nurseries, and actually worked in some green houses, but I doubt that makes the climate elite think I know what plus or minus means lol!

    Anyway keep up the good fight all.

  122. @Gail Combs says:
    Is the increasing amplitude of the cycles in the tempurature data for the last 65 mm years a function of the effects of age upon the samples or is there a theory as to why the the temperature anomalies are becoming greater as we near the present?

  123. The fundamental effect of “climate change” is based on CO2 trapping IR. This should result in warming of the surrounding air. Models say it should warm such and such (2.1C since 1978), actual observations show less than half that (0.7C). Something is causing this. Options are:
    The models are wrong, including the radiative transfer ones.
    During this time, incoming solar to the tropics has decreased (thunderstorms etc).
    The amount if IR (longwave) in the 13 to 18 micron range, radiated by the solar heated earth, the range that can be absorbed by CO2, is less than it is said to be, especially over the tropical sea.

    Passing over the radiative models for now, the second and third one are appropriate for this thread.

    Do you see any evidence that there is decreased incoming solar energy to the tropics, especially the tropic oceans, over this time frame, which would counteract that IR backscatter from CO2? In theory, it should happen, since water cannot be heated by IR, only a small top layer might be heated, result, evaporation, the cloud shows up a minute earlier, blocks the sun, reduces incoming solar slightly, hence counteracting the CO2 effect. Since the shade shows up slightly earlier, the total heat at the surface and hence the total evaporation may not increase, only the timing would change. One might be able to spot it from satellite pictures, the clouds at the equator would be slightly closer to the rising sun, since they would show up slightly earlier in the morning (say on the 10:55 line instead of the 11AM line). How much earlier would the cloud have to show up to counteract 1.4C of expected mid altitude air temperature from CO2 absorption?

    Second, there was a post on Judiths blog by (or claiming to be) an IR astronomer. While it wasn’t completely correct, it did point out something, and that is that the IR that can be absorbed by CO2 looks to be only able to be given off by objects at a temperature of about 115F and up. Water, even tropical water, doesn’t get that hot, and most of the solar coming in is aimed at tropical water (kinda hard to miss). How much IR in the 13 to 18 micron range does the tropical ocean give off? If it does not give off much, then this area, the primary heat absorbing area of the planet, isn’t much effected by increasing IR backscatter from CO2 since there may not be enough IR at the proper frequencies for CO2 to backscatter. The models may be assuming a blackbody (see “spherical cow”), essentially land, whereas the ocean is not such, it is what it is. What is needed here is actual measurements of the amount of IR at various frequencies given off by the tropical ocean, not some computer simulation. You know, REALITY.

  124. John West says, February 18, 2014 at 9:37 am:

    “You’re not comparing NET heat fluxes; from the guestimate you linked the NET IR is 396-333=63 up, the 333 back-radiation (GHE) merely slows the radiant cooling from the surface which without it would be losing heat radiantly at 396 W/m2, but with it at only 63 W/m2 on average.”

    Hahaha! Yeah, we know, this is exactly the way you people see it. Only, your alleged 333 W/m^2 don’t slow any cooling. That’s just what you SAY they do. To hide what you’re in fact suggesting they do. Because, as you know all too well, in reality they do not in any way at any time obstruct any flow of energy LEAVING the surface by way of radiation. No, they ADD energy to the surface, extra energy (from ‘somewhere’), it is a direct POSITIVE energy transfer making the surface warmer in ABSOLUTE terms (not relative). Because of these extra 333 W/m^2 down from the cooler atmosphere, and nothing else, the global surface of the Earth is able to reach beyond the ‘solar’ 255K and all the way to 288K.

    But such a positive energy transfer from one system to another with such a direct result (warming) is physically defined as HEAT and does not and cannot in nature occur from cooler to warmer.

    The whole concept of ‘heat goes both ways, only more heat goes from hot to cold than from cold to hot’ is purely a ‘climate physics’ invention. Cold can never under any circumstances make hotter even hotter by transferring energy to it. It is unheard of in physics! In no physics textbooks anywhere will you find such a process described or even hinted at. Because it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t happen.

    You can’t make a hotter object than you even hotter by adding your ‘colder’ energy to it. It sounds fine, but in nature this is simply impossible. What you have to do is somehow make less energy LEAVE the hotter object per unit of time. The only energy able to make the hotter object even hotter coming IN, is energy from an EVEN hotter object (or from its power source). What you as a colder object need to do is obstruct or reduce the flow of thermal energy escaping the hotter object.

    The easiest way to do this is via temperature (radiation) gradients. Works the same way as any potential gradient: gravity, voltage, pressure. If you’re somehow less cold, the temperature difference between you and the hotter object becomes smaller and less energy will thus flow per unit of time from it to you.

    What the believers in the wonders of ‘back radiation’ do here is misinterpret the common radiative heat transfer equation, P/A = ε * σ (T_1^4 – T_2^4), in naïvely thinking that the two T-terms somehow represent physically real flows of energy, as if (and here I will copy mathematician Claes Johnson’s words:) “the [objects] were connected by a two-way highway with trucks transporting energy in both directions. There is no experimental evidence of the existence of such a two-way stream of light quanta.” They of course do not. They are simply steps on the way to find the actual flow of energy between the objects, the one we’re actually hoping to determine, the answer to the equation: P/A, the ‘heat’. T^4 does not in itself bear a physical meaning in the sense of describing a phenomenon. It is just temperature raised to the fourth. So to find P/A, we only need to know the temperature of the two objects (and the emissivity of the hotter one, the one emitting the energy).

    In other words, we need to drop the whole ‘back radiation’ nonsense and concentrate on temperature gradients. Follow the HEAT. There is no global extra flux of 333 W/m^2 flowing down from the atmosphere to the surface. This is ‘climate physics’ mumbo jumbo. The only real flux is the 63 W/m^2 going UP.

  125. Willis, in a discussion elsewhere of Leif’s steady-forcing autoconsensus, I attempted a précis of your position about as follows:

    Extrapolating Willis’ thermostat hypothesis a bit, there is always far more than enough DSW striking atmosphere to heat the tropical oceans well above 30°C, but the emergent diurnal evaporation → thunderhead [governor] “caps” the effect at about that temperature (at current salinity levels). But the excess available to warm the [rest of the] globe and hold back ice caps is then a highly variable delta.

    (assuming any variance introduced by sol, albedo etc.) The result seems to be that high latitudes are in IceBox or HotHouse bistable states, while parrots and parrotfish carry on unperturbed. An amusing film loop!

    How badly and baldly does this overstate, understate, or misstate your case?

  126. Brian H says:
    February 23, 2014 at 5:38 am

    Willis, in a discussion elsewhere of Leif’s steady-forcing autoconsensus, I attempted a précis of your position about as follows:

    Extrapolating Willis’ thermostat hypothesis a bit, there is always far more than enough DSW striking atmosphere to heat the tropical oceans well above 30°C, but the emergent diurnal evaporation → thunderhead [governor] “caps” the effect at about that temperature (at current salinity levels). But the excess available to warm the [rest of the] globe and hold back ice caps is then a highly variable delta.

    (assuming any variance introduced by sol, albedo etc.) The result seems to be that high latitudes are in IceBox or HotHouse bistable states, while parrots and parrotfish carry on unperturbed. An amusing film loop!

    How badly and baldly does this overstate, understate, or misstate your case?

    It’s not bad at all, well done … however, it misses some essentials:

    1. The emergent governing mechanisms operate in many places and temporal and spatial scales. It’s not just tropical thunderstorms, although they are the largest player.

    2. The apparent ~30°C limit of the tropical oceans is an extreme case. Most places the emergent governing phenomena operate in areas without a clear upper limit.

    3. The periodic emergence of the El Nino warm-water pump, which pumps excess heat from the tropics to the poles, is a second major player.

    4. The periodic shifting of the bi-stable state of the PDO alternately either impedes or enhances the flow of heat to the poles.

    5. I assume that there are further emergent systems operating at the poles, including the “polar vortex” phenomena, which also act to stabilize the temperature away from the tropics … perhaps if I’d lived there for decades instead of in the tropics I’d understand them better …

    So those are a few things I’d add …

    Good question, thanks,

    w.

  127. The bistable states I referenced are terms that apply to paleohistory, with tropical summers at the poles at one end (HotHouse, global average ~24°C) or current iced year-round poles at the other (IceBox, GAT ~14°C), with minor variations in the latter that swung us between e.g. the Michigan glaciation and the Holocene interglacial. As Rutan and many others note, CO2 isn’t even reliably correlated with those swings as an effect, much less a cause or “forcing” (that unphysical term the AGW-pushers are dependent on forcing us to accept . “The Forcing is with us!” they fantasize.)

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