Observing water vapor feedback during ‘the pause’

From AGU highlights, measurements from 2002 to 2009 show short term feedback still subject to short-term climate variability, long term feedback still in the realm of models.

Measuring the effect of water vapor on climate warming

Water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas. In the atmosphere, the concentration of water vapor increases with the temperature, setting up a powerful positive feedback loop. This water vapor feedback is the strongest known positive feedback, with the potential to roughly double the effect of warming caused by other sources. Determining the exact strength of the water vapor feedback, then, is incredibly important to limiting uncertainty in future climate change projections. 

From 2002 to 2009, an infrared sounder aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite measured the atmospheric concentration of water vapor. Combined with a radiative transfer model, Gordon et al. used these observations to determine the strength of the water vapor feedback. According to their calculations, atmospheric water vapor amplifies warming by 2.2 plus or minus 0.4 watts per square meter per degree Celsius. This value, however, is only the “short-term” feedback—the strength of the feedback as measured during the observational period. This value is subject to short-term climate variability. The true value of the feedback, the “long-term” value, is what the short-term observed values should trend towards when given enough time.

Using a series of climate models, the authors estimate the strength of the long-term water vapor feedback. Extrapolating from their short-term observations they calculate a long-term feedback strength of 1.9 to 2.8 watts per square meter per degree Celsius. They find that most models get to within 15 percent of their long-term value within 25 years. The accuracy of calculations, then, could be improved with a longer set of observations.

Source: Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, doi: 10.1002/2013JD020184, 2013 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013JD020184/abstract

Title: An observationally based constraint on the water-vapor feedback

Authors: N. D. Gordon: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California, USA; A. K. Jonko: National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA; P. M. Forster: School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK: K. M. Shell: College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA.

Abstract:

The increase in atmospheric concentrations of water vapor with global warming is a large positive feedback in the climate system. Thus, even relatively small errors in its magnitude can lead to large uncertainties in predicting climate response to anthropogenic forcing. This study incorporates observed variability of water vapor over 2002–2009 from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder instrument into a radiative transfer scheme to provide constraints on this feedback. We derive a short-term water vapor feedback of 2.2 ± 0.4 Wm−2K−1. Based on the relationship between feedback derived over short and long timescales in twentieth century simulations of 14 climate models, we estimate a range of likely values for the long-term twentieth century water vapor feedback of 1.9 to 2.8 Wm−2K−1. We use the twentieth century simulations to determine the record length necessary for the short-term feedback to approach the long-term value. In most of the climate models we analyze, the short-term feedback converges to within 15% of its long-term value after 25 years, implying that a longer observational record is necessary to accurately estimate the water vapor feedback.

 

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77 Responses to Observing water vapor feedback during ‘the pause’

  1. RS says:

    Seeing that atmospheric CO2 was over 1000 and as much as 8000 ppm in dinosaur days without the planet going Venus, I would say that there is no strong positive feedback loop.

  2. Berényi Péter says:

    The notion of strong positive water vapor feedback is not supported by observations. We have slightly more than 13 years of CERES radiative balance measurements right now, which have their own problems, but still, they indicate a pretty attenuated response to increasing carbon dioxide mixing ratio.

  3. Ted Getzel says:

    Isolate the water vapor variable from all other possible feed backs in the real world, clouds, precipitation, aerosols,, then plug it into faulty models and create the scenario that fits the established projections —- catastrophe.

  4. Bill Illis says:

    Full paper at:

    http://www.researchgate.net/publication/259534208_An_observationally_based_constraint_on_the_water-vapor_feedback/file/9c96052cf1064dc1af.pdf

    This paper derives water vapor feedback from 2002 to 2009 to be 2.2 W/m2/1.0C. This amount is roughly equivalent to an increase in water vapor of 7.0% per 1.0C increase in temperatures which is also the number that is derived from the Clausius Clapeyron relation and is central to the global warming theory.

    The recent IPCC AR5 report revised their water vapor feedback assumption down to 2.0 W/m2/K from 2.3 W/m2/K in previous reports. This AR5 feedback value results in a CO2 sensitivity of 2.52C per doubling (including the values for the other feedbacks like cloud and albedo) but for some reason, this sensitivity number was not outlined in the report.

    But here is a far longer timeseries of water vapor feedback going from 1948 to Feb 2014. Its from NCEP Reanalysis (starting in 1948) and from RSS (starting in 1988) which uses SSM/I F08 through F15, SSMIS F16 and F17, AMSR-E, WindSat and cross-calibrates with ground-based GPS water vapor data demonstrate. This then includes far more data than this study which just uses the AIRs satellite data.

    So this chart shows water vapor back to 1948 and the forecasts from IPCC AR5 (which is lower than this study) and also the ENSO since it seems to be the main governing factor.

    http://s27.postimg.org/eexakr5wz/ENSO_PCWV_48_Feb14.png

    Yeah, the models are way off.

    In addition, if one starts the data at 2002 and then ends in 2009, right at the height of a very large El Nino, you are going to get a large positive feedback value. But this cherrypicking.

    Starting in 1958 versus the lower troposphere temps, the water vapor feedback is only 4.14% per 1.0C versus the 7.0% in the theory (and the numbers from this study.)

    http://s21.postimg.org/5g73ffe87/Temps_vs_PCWV_Scatter_1958_Feb14.png

    This feedback rate is enough to drop the climate sensitivity to 1.8C per doubling rather than 2.5-3.0C in the theory.

    All water vapor studies from pro-global warming scientists cherrypick starting and ending timelines to take advantage of the ENSO conditions.

  5. Martin Clark says:

    Guess I ought to wait until someone else takes this to bits, but it is really becoming tiresome.
    “Radiative transfer”? If that was all that is involved I would not be here writing this. Don’t they know that the effect works in both directions? Eg cloudy days are cooler than sunny days? And at night, sure, it takes longer for the heat to escape if there is cloud overhead here at 19°S but it is still gone well before sunrise.

  6. Pete says:

    Question from a non-scientific learned person …

    If, as some have said, the warming impact of increases in CO2 have been significantly overstated (thereby making CO2’s impact fairly low) does it therefore appear that a key driver of warming assuming a more “nature-driven” warming (ie., termination of the Little Ice Age circa mid-19th Century) is water and/or water vapor?

    Many thanks for your insights.

    Pete

  7. milodonharlani says:

    Bill Illis says:
    March 11, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Like, totally awesome, dude!

    Actually, I’m surprised that IPeCaC´s assumption is even that close to observations (4.14% v. 7.0%).

  8. fhhaynie says:

    Why is water vapor considered feedback to enhance the CO2 “greenhouse effect” when it is a “greenhouse gas” at concetrations much greater. The direct greenhouse effect of water vapor is probably at least an order of magnitude greater than any CO2 effect. Add clouds and it gets even more complex.

  9. chris y says:

    Hmmm.

    They derive a short-term, all-in water vapor feedback of 2.2 W/Km^2. Now, doubling CO2 is equivalent to about 3.7 W/m^2 and results in about 1 K of temperature increase before feedbacks kick in. That means the water vapor positive feedback is (3.7+2.2)/3.7 = 1.6.

    That is, a 1 K temperature increase from CO2 results in an additional warming of 0.6 K from water vapor feedback.

    Put another way, CACC has been ‘nailed to its perch.’

    Why is this positive feedback so much lower than previous claims?

    Since they have found positive water vapor feedback based on measurements, did they also mention where the water vapor induced tropospheric hot spot is hiding? Perhaps below 2000m in the oceans?

  10. pokerguy says:

    “Determining the exact strength of the water vapor feedback, then, is incredibly important to limiting uncertainty in future climate change projections.”

    Sorry, pet peeve of mine but risking being called a pointy headed nitpicker because I think it weakens an important post. Of course you don’t mean “incredibly important.”

    “Important” by itself is sufficient. Or you could use “critical,” or “crucial.”

  11. pokerguy says:

    Oops, never mind. I missed who wrote this. My bad.

  12. Gary Pearse says:

    Bill Illis says:
    March 11, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    The temperature record has been fiddled upwards on the recent end and downwards on the earlier end (recent end constrained, thank goodness, by satellite measurements), particularly by Hansen who had a mission to get rid of the exasperating 1930s records in the USA in 1998 because he saw this El Nino as the last chance to get a new global temperature high. We seem fated to use this abused record. Hadcrut 4 was a way to exploit the incomplete coverage of the polar regions by satellite and the “amplification” permitted lifting the recent temps a bit as did a recent paper purporting to show that there was not ‘pause”. Willis with Ceres data showed the amplification was countered by lower heating in the tropics so the adjustment wasn’t necessary.

    I think 4.14% water vapor increase is an index of the cooking the temperature record has taken. Probably, in reality, it represents 4.14/7.0 *1.0 degree Celsius as the amount of temp rise we are talking about. This works out to 0.59 degrees C temperature rise. Yeah, that’s about right they’ve jacked it up several tenths of a degree. I see that Clausius Clapeyron is going to be helpful when we come to undo the damage done by zealots. It also shows how naive it is to think you can fiddle with a part of such a complex system without screwing up other parts.

  13. BioBob says:

    “2.2 plus or minus 0.4 watts per square meter per degree Celsius”

    Is that with an African or a European swallow’s tailwind ? Or both with a string?

    The purported precision of these “global studies” is always hilarious and instructive.

  14. Gary Pearse says:

    Actually the plateau in temperatures is probably part of the screw up. If you raise these temps too steeply, you end up starting the plateau too early and making it too long. Let’s not let any of these linear thinkers undertake any geoengineering – the unintended consequences certain to occur could ruin a perfectly good planet.

  15. Curious George says:

    Where exactly do clouds appear in Clausius Clapeyron? Or in models?

  16. Kit Blanke says:

    Let’s see now. Increased heating, more water vapor, more clouds, increased albedo, less heating.
    Looks like negative feedback to me.

  17. Bill Illis says:

    We should recognize that water vapor does go up with increased temperature (and down with decreased temperature). Specific Humidity does go up when it gets warmer. The tropics have far more water vapor in the atmosphere than does the poles. The Clausius Clapyeron equations are mostly right.

    It is important to understand that climate science and the water vapor feedback is not one single feedback loop. It feeds back on itself so that there are several rounds of temperature increases which then leads to more water vapor which then leads to more water vapor increase which then …. and so on and so on. It really take a loop of about 11 feedbacks on feedbacks before the diminishing impacts set in and there are no more temperature impacts from increased water vapor.

    11 feedbacks on feedbacks rather than 1.

    So a very small change from 7.0% per 1.0C or 2.2 W/m2/K results in a big change in the eventual temperature change from a 1.2C increase in temperatures from a doubling of CO2 (if one assumes this was calculated correctly and I don’t necessarily believe that either).

    But if one does accept the 1.2C from CO2 doubling, the X.X W/m2/K water vapor feedback value is then carefully chosen so that it does not result in a runaway greenhouse impact or a minimal greenhouse impact. Double the assumed water vapor feedback assumption to 4.4 W/m2/K and one gets 35C of temperature change per doubling of CO2. Drop it by half to 1.1 W/m2/K and one gets just 1.6C of temperature increase per doubling.

    So a small change in the way the real Earth(tm) responds to GHG increases is indeed a very important change in the eventual warming.

    Make clouds a negative -0.75 W/m2/K (instead of a positive 0.75) and drop the water vapor feedback to 4.14% per 1.0C (as the actual data shows), then the climate sensitivity is only 1.1C per doubling.

    Climate science did these little feedback assumption calculations long ago and decided to keep all the assumptions at rates which would result in 3.0C per doubling. They then built these numbers into their climate models.

    It is important to find out how the real Earth(tm) responds because it is a make or break on the eventual warming. Climate science likes to reinforce itself rather than find out what’s really happening. And they are willing to adjust temperature records (which is why I use the lower troposphere non-adjusted ones) and why they cherrypick timelines to keep the feedback assumptions at the right level. Much money and reputation is at stake.

  18. Gail Combs says:

    fhhaynie says: @ March 11, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Why is water vapor considered feedback to enhance the CO2 “greenhouse effect” when it is a “greenhouse gas” at concetrations much greater….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Because CO2 is a wimp. Only by adding in H2O as a ‘Feedback’ of CO2 can you get Catastrophic Global Warming and even then you have to completely ignore the fact H2O unlike CO2 changes phases thereby giving you Willis’s Thunderstorm Thermostats

  19. Box of Rocks says:

    Combined with a radiative transfer model,
    *****

    Model based upon what?

  20. FrankK says:

    The same old pseudo-science. Neatly summarised by the following:
    http://kitshaper.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/cga0226l1.jpg

  21. Edim says:

    In average, the surface cooling by evaporation is greater than the claimed water vapor GHE. So, H2O is cooling the Earth’s surface overall (net cooling effect). Even the consensus agrees with this.

  22. Steve Case says:

    Gordon, Jonko & Forster ignore clouds, never mention ‘em, but posters at “Watts Up With That” bring ‘em up right way. Why do you suppose that is?

  23. Steven Mosher says:

    Berenyi

    AIRS is observations. In fact you might want to familiarize yourself with the sensors.
    Launched in 2002 it will fly until 2020.

  24. M Seward says:

    Allegedly increased water vapour means increased latent heat of vapourisation shunting energy to the upper atmosphere and out into space a la Trenberth diagram as part of an energy flow about 200 times greater than the 0.4 Watts/sq metres from C02. 1 kg of water evaporated can cool about 2000 kg of air by 1˚C. Sound very much like a negative feedback to me and that is before we talk about clouds.

    The paper sounds like more good for a goose therefore good for propaganda to me.

  25. Steven Mosher says:

    Box of rocks.
    The radiative transfer models are engineering. Your cell phone was designed using them. Radar design uses them. UAH uses them. Stealth fighters were designed using them.
    Ir astronomy uses them. All sensors in space rely on them. Given the atomospheric conditions they calculate the transmission absorbtion and reflection of EM.

  26. p.g.sharrow says:

    After a very short time gathering information, they fired up the old computers withe their models and wrote up this paper. Give us a bunch of money to really do a study!
    Ever wonder about the quality of peer reviewed published scientific papers.
    Do scientific papers ever seem like unreadable gibberish to you? Well, sometimes they really are. Some 120 papers published in established scientific journals over the last few years have been found to be frauds, created by nothing more than an automated word generator that puts random, fancy-sounding words together in plausible sentence structures. As a result they have been pulled from the journals that originally published them.
    http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/03/01/over-100-published-science-journal-articles-just-gibberish/
    Some professors said that pay rules that base professor salaries on the number of papers they publish may lead to fakes.“Most schools have merit raise systems of some kind, and a professor’s merit score is affected by his or her success in publishing scholarly papers,”
    A fatter paycheck may be the driver, not the science. pg

  27. NotAGolfer says:

    In coal combustion, for every molecule of CO2 produced during combustion, 1 molecule of H2O is produced. In natural gas combustion, for every CO2 molecule produced, 2 molecules of H2O are produced. What makes them think that the increased water vapor is from feedbacks, rather than being directly evaporated into the atmosphere from energy plants?

  28. BioBob says:

    >> Steven Mosher says: radiative transfer models uses them.

    And I am sure all sorts of global, regional & local climate models use them & other things as well. But at some point of upscaling, all models meet their match. There is not a model created that can accurately predict results of chaotic heat engine effects (weather) past a few days in the future.

    There ARE some things that exceed our capabilities.

  29. Bart says:

    “The true value of the feedback, the “long-term” value, is what the short-term observed values should trend towards when given enough time.”

    OR, the estimated short term ‘value’ reflects just short term random fluctuation, and the actual long term value is totally other. Reminds me of Dessler’s awful analysis, where he assumed an instantaneous response, and got a result which was basically just jumping at shadows.

  30. RACookPE1978 says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    March 11, 2014 at 7:07 pm (replying to)

    Box of rocks.
    The radiative transfer models are engineering. Your cell phone was designed using them. Radar design uses them. UAH uses them. Stealth fighters were designed using them.
    Ir astronomy uses them. All sensors in space rely on them. Given the [atmospheric] conditions they calculate the transmission [absorption] and reflection of EM.

    OK, I’ll bite.

    Now, your much-vaunted, much treasured radiation models and General Circulation Models are all developing the myth of catastrophic global warming over the next 100-200 (up to 1000 years!) based on a “calculated” difference of (energy absorbed – energy lost) of only 3.0 watts/m^2 (worldwide, of course). This after a top-of-atmosphere radiation of 1314 1410 per m^2 that varies day-by-day over the year.

    Now, you have placed your personal trust and reputation on these models.

    Therefore, show me the actual calculated “from-these-models” values for the ocean, for every 10 degrees of latitude, for the 22nd of every month of the year for 12:00 noon and 24:00 midnight the following values for the year 2013 of their model run – AND THEIR ERROR ESTIMATES.
    1) Longwave radiation losses to Tsky (and the value of Tsky assumed for that date, and the estimated value of emissivity for that Tsky you have assumed..)
    2) Evaporation losses per square meter, wind speed assumed to predict that calculated evaporation loss, humidity and air temperature assumed to predict that assumed evaporation loss.
    3) Convective radiation losses per m^2, wind speed assumed, air temperature assumed and water temperature assumed.

    If the models – globally and universally over 100 years are accurate – then the models’ specific information at specific latitudes and specific times of the day and days of the year on a specific year’s date will be accurate and can be checked. Right?

    And, if the entire CAGW mythology is based on a 3 watt/m^2 difference spread over 100 years in the future, then – on a year when actual data is available – the models’ actual results for specific areas on a global-ocean-basis-by latitude are going to be accurate against measured data for those dates on a year only 1 year past, right?

  31. Crispin in Waterloo says:

    About 10 years ago at breakfast I bumped into a professional European global warming-monger who was in Johannesburg to alarm the Government of South Africa’s Transportation Ministry. He showed me a set of printed charts and figures he was presenting to the Minister in an effort to convince them to spend vast sums of money on ‘solving the crisis’. Of course it included M Mann’s fake hockey stick temperature chart which I pointed out was nonsense.

    He disagreed with that and we disagreed about something else which was newly in vogue at the time which was trying to claim that water vapour in the atmosphere was “only a feedback” meaning that without CO2 the Atmosphere wouldn’t have any. If you recall Gavin at RC was making similar claims at that time. It was widely repeated in discussion fora. The hope was apparently to shout it long and loud enough so it would not be challenged. A more brainless assertion about atmospheric physics it is hard to imagine.

    This paper rides on the wave of ignorance given impetus by that professional alarmist to South Africa hoisted on the staff of ‘Water vapour is only a GHG once it has been turned into one by CO2′. If it were true, then the warming by CO2, as imagined, could be divided into the water vapour concentration as other GHG’s are merely nominal. Presto, water vapour feedback. Calculate away.

    But the assertion is bunk. On a water planet there would always be water vapour even it it started off as sublimated ice. The temperature above a cold, atmosphere-less Earth is largely caused by water vapour and it’s water vapour-induced feedback. The heating is constrained by the formation of clouds as is well known to readers of proper scientific investigations of the matter.

    Of all the forcing experienced, most is water vapour and a small fraction is caused by CO2 which of course adds a tiny additional amount of water vapour, causing the clouds to shut off the sun that little bit sooner. This is not even complicated. The upper limit to ocean temperature is about 31 Celsius after which negative feedbacks overwhelm all positive feedbacks. Ultimately additional CO2 can only warm Earth in places where it is not already in a state of net feedback stasis.

  32. Katherine says:

    fhhaynie says:
    Why is water vapor considered feedback to enhance the CO2 “greenhouse effect” when it is a “greenhouse gas” at concetrations much greater. The direct greenhouse effect of water vapor is probably at least an order of magnitude greater than any CO2 effect. Add clouds and it gets even more complex.

    Because the government can’t claim water is a pollutant—at least not water vapor. They need something else to limit and tax.

  33. Ken Gregory says:

    We all know that the short term water vapor feedback is positive, that is, a short term temperature increase causes an increase in specific humidity. Climate models assume that the long term water change is similar, but that assumption disagrees with multiple datasets. Other things change to reduce or eliminate the water vapor response in the upper atmosphere where its effects dominate the greenhouse effect. Only upper atmosphere water vapor “matters”. Calculations by line-by-line code computer programs show that a water vapor change at 200 to 300 mb pressure level (9 to 11 km) has 81 times the effect on OLR than the same change in the 1013-850 mb near-surface layer. Graph here:
    http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/FOS%20Essay/OLR_PWV_bar.jpg

    The annual NOAA specific humidity data, 1960 to 2013, shows linear striations increasing from bottom left to top right, confirming that higher temperatures relate to higher specific humidity over short time intervals at the 400 mb layer (8 km). But the overall trend is down, proving that specific humidity in the upper atmosphere declines with increasing temperatures over longer time scales.
    Graph here:
    http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/FOS%20Essay/SH400TropicsVsTemp.jpg

    If water vapor increased over time with warming, there would be an enhanced warming rate in the tropics in the upper troposphere at least double the surface warming rate. (This is because increased water vapor changes the lapse rate.) But balloon and satellite measurements show no such enhanced warming. Graph here:
    http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/FOS%20Essay/spencer-models-epic-fail.jpg

    So either the balloon humidity AND balloon temperature data AND satellite humidity AND satellite temperature data are very wrong (but all agree with each other), OR the climate model assumption is wrong. This paper just assumes the climate model assumption is correct and ignores the long term data.

  34. Crispin in Waterloo says:

    Ken Gregory:

    Very well said. As I mentioned above, another assumption is that water vapour (all of it) is ‘feedback’. I would like to add, ‘I don’t know how they can get away with it,’ but they can’t. Certainly not around here.

  35. davidmhoffer says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    March 11, 2014 at 7:07 pm
    Box of rocks.
    The radiative transfer models are engineering. Your cell phone was designed using them. Radar design uses them. UAH uses them. Stealth fighters were designed using them.
    Ir astronomy uses them. All sensors in space rely on them. Given the atomospheric conditions they calculate the transmission absorbtion and reflection of EM.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Steven,
    You use this explanation often. It doesn’t matter how often you use it, IT IS WRONG

    The examples you give are all predicated on sensors that measure what goes through the atmosphere. The debate here is about what DOESN’T go through the atmosphere. That is something that we cannot measure directly with sensors for the simple reason that it gets absorbed and never gets to the sensor to be measured. Please stop propagating this notion. It is confusing and absolutely incorrect.

  36. catweazle666 says:

    This is complete BS.

    Solomon et al showed a decrease in atmospheric water vapour of approximately 10% over the decade post 2000, Humlum and Vonder Vaar show no visible trend from ~1980.

    Oh, hang on, we’re talking computer games again, aren’t we?

    Jolly good. Carry on.

  37. SIGINT EX says:

    Epic AGU Fail.

  38. Chad Wozniak says:

    It’s my understanding that in lab experiments at least, water vapor has been shown to reduce, not increase, the greenhouse effect of CO2 (such as that may be) – someone please correct me here if I am wrong. But in any event, there is so much more water vapor in the air all the time – except in the very driest and coldest places, it’s 30 to 140 times as much as Co2, depending on temp and humidity. If, as also appears to be the case, water vapor is many times more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas (the figure I keep hearing is 8.5 x) – then the greenhouse effect of water vapor is hundreds of times that of CO2, no matter how the latter is enhanced – if it is enhanced at all. This would seem to reduce the effect of CO2 to statistical insignificance by itself, even without considering the Sun or ocean current oscillations.

  39. Arno Arrak says:

    Problem with these guys is that they think water vapor feedback is positive when it is actually negative. How do you think the hiatus could still persist if there were positive water vapor feedback? The hiatus can only be explained by the Miskolczi theory that applies when more than one greenhouse gas are simultaneously absorbing in the IR. In such a case, an optimal absorption window exists that they jointly maintain. For the earth atmosphere the gases that count are carbon dioxide and water vapor. The optical thickness of their joint absorption window in the IR is 1.87. This comes from first principles and is experimentally observable. If you now add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as we constantly do it will start to absorb, just as IPCC tells us. But this will increase the optical thickness and water vapor will immediatly react by diminishing its concentration, raining out, until the original optical thickness is restored. This is in fact negative feedback because it counteracts, instead of increasing, total IR absorption from CO2. That is the explanation of why constant addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere cannot cause any greenhouse warming. Its further implication is that there cannot be any such greenhouse warming that Hansen imagines having discovered in 1988.

  40. Jim says:

    Imagine how amazing it would be to discover greenhouse gases do the exact opposite of what they are claimed to do. Water vapor – a significant greenhouse gas! when the earth gets warm it puts out more water vapor, a natural thermal response of water to heat. When oceans warm up their ability to retain dissolved carbon dioxide decreases so it too follows along and begins to build up in the atmosphere. This is how the earth looses heat, by conducting it to space via thermally interactive gases. Just referring to the atmosphere as being like a greenhouse is very elementary nieve and wrong..

  41. Konrad says:

    H2O is the working fluid of a giant vapour-condensate heat pump removing energy from the surface by non-radiative transport and dumping it to space via LWIR radiation. This is the primary cooling mechanism for the surface and atmosphere of our planet.

    Lets examine “strongly positive water vapour feedback” –

    Strike 1. To be produced, water vapour must be evaporatively cooling the surface.
    Strike 2. Water vapour increases the buoyancy of air masses, the speed of vertical convective circulation and the speed of non-radiative energy transport from the surface.
    Strike 3. Water vapour increases the radiative cooling ability of the atmosphere.

    But, but but, what about increased down-welling LWIR?! DWLWIR has little or no effect on the cooling rate of the oceans or vegetated areas. Thock! (That ball gets them as they are slinking from the field.)

  42. otsar says:

    This paper seems to be only addressing one of the phases of H2O. There are two others that produce different feedbacks, depending on the physical configuration: water droplets as in clouds, liquid water in the oceans, ice and snow.

  43. Alcheson says:

    I didn’t see any mention of clouds. Higher water content should also mean more clouds which are more consistent with negative feedback if I understand Spencer’s work correctly. Also more water in the atmosphere should also increase convection of heat from the lower atmosphere to the upper (a negative feedback). Warm moist air from the ground is less dense and rapidly rises thru the atmosphere, releasing it’s heat and falling back down to the ground in the form of rain. So to say the water is a positive feedback, and neglect to take into account all forms of water and various cycles seems to be less than honest with the aim of promoting the CAGW agenda. Also, if water is such a strong positive feedback, why has there yet to be any runaway global warming in earth’s history so far?

  44. Water. water vapor and solid water have significant different IR absorption characteristics, here is a link to a study that provides the evident ,look it up: Water absorption spectrum by Martin Chaplin.
    The report below proves that “water” in all it phases are negative feed back.

    The Greenhouse Effect . . . Explored
    Is “Water Vapor Feedback” Positive or Negative?
    Carl Brehmer
    © February 21, 2012
    Abstract
    An essential element of the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis is the positive “water
    vapor feedback” hypothesis. That is, if something causes an increase in the temperature
    this will cause an increase in the evaporation of water into water vapor. This new
    humidity will absorb more of the infrared radiation coming off of the ground. This
    increased absorption of infrared radiation is believed to warm the air even further. This
    makes the air able to hold even more water vapor and this result in even more
    evaporation, which increases the humidity even further and the cycle starts over. This is
    called a “positive” feedback, since water vapor is believed to amplify atmospheric
    warming. Being curious about the truth of this hypothesis I designed a simple
    experiment to study the effect of rising and falling levels of humidity on soil and air
    temperature and discovered that 1) the addition of water to a climate system exerts a
    significant negative feedback against temperature changes night and day, 2) water vapor
    has the same graphical relationship to temperature that insulin has to blood sugar and
    insulin is known to exert a strong negative feedback against blood sugar levels and 3)
    over the course of time the addition of water to a climate system causes a perceptible
    drop in the yearly mean temperature.
    Materials
    1) Homemade Stevenson Screen with Temperature and Humidity Data Logger 4’10”
    off of the ground.
    2) Thermocouple attached to a Data Logger to acquire simultaneous soil surface
    temperatures.
    3) Internet records of yearly mean temperature and humidity readings for several
    major cities in the world with contrasting climates.
    4) Computer spread sheet to compile data and create graphs.
    Procedure
    Part #1:
    1) Using 38 consecutive days of data harvested from the Stevenson Screen and
    thermocouple I calculated the mean dew point over that 38 day period and
    separated the days between those that fell above the mean, which I call “humid”
    days, and those that fell below the mean, which I call “arid” days.
    2) I then graphed the mean temperature curve of the “arid” days against the mean
    temperature curve of the “humid” days to see what affect different levels of
    humidity had on the daily temperature curve, specifically looking for a positive
    feedback waveform, which we will discuss in more detail below.
    Part #2:
    1) Using two consecutive months of data harvested from the Stevenson Screen I
    calculated the mean daily temperature and graphed it against the mean daily dew
    point to see what the relationship is between ongoing temperature changes and the
    dew point, which by the way is an accurate reflection of the absolute humidity,
    again, specifically looking for an indication of positive feedback.
    Part #3:
    1) I selected four sets of cities with the following criteria:
    a. A pronounced difference in their humidity levels
    b. They were both be about the same distance above the equator so that they
    both receive roughly the same amount of sunlight each day throughout the
    year
    c. They were both inland far enough not to be affected by sea breezes
    2) With data harvested off of the Internet I compared the temperature (adjusted for
    altitude) and the absolute humidity of these four sets of “arid” vs. “humid” cities,
    looking for the effect that increased humidity has on the temperature of their
    respective climates asking the question, “Does increasing the humidity cause a net
    increase in the air temperature as the ‘greenhouse effect’ hypothesis along with
    the “water vapor feedback” hypothesis says that it should?”
    Findings:
    Part #1:
    An increase in the absolute
    humidity produced a strong negative
    feedback against temperature changes
    day and night in that it inhibited
    daytime warming and slowed nighttime
    cooling as can be seen in this graph
    which plots the mean temperature curve
    of the “arid” days against the mean
    temperature curve of the “humid” days.
    Part #2:
    a) When plotting two month’s worth
    of daily mean temperatures against
    the daily mean dew points, as seen
    in this graph, I found that as the
    mean temperature rose and fell
    there was a strong correlation
    between rising and falling dew
    points levels as well, although the
    change in the dew point lagged
    behind the temperature changes by
    about a day. This is the same relationship that rising and falling blood sugar has to
    Fig. #2 Mean Temp vs. Mean Dew Point
    Fig. #1 Affect of Humidity on Daily Temp Curve
    rising and falling levels of insulin in that the waveform of insulin also echoes
    changes in blood sugar levels while lagging behind the blood sugar in time. Since
    insulin is known to exert a strong negative feedback against rising blood sugar
    levels, this two-month long graph is consistent with humidity being a negative
    feedback against increasing temperatures.
    b) What bolsters this idea is the fact that it rained near the beginning of this twomonth
    period and as the soil dried out over time the humidity levels trended
    downward while the temperature trended upward, which again is consistent with
    humidity being a negative feedback against increasing temperatures.
    Part #3:
    The four sets of cities that I used for my comparative study between “arid” and
    “humid” climates were: Phoenix vs. Dallas, Las Vegas vs. Knoxville, Death Valley vs.
    Huntsville, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia vs. Bogra, Bangladesh. In all four cases the more
    humid climate had a significantly cooler yearly mean temperature than the arid climate.
    Discussion
    Scientific Definition of “feedback”:
    So, let’s discuss these findings. Before we can identify the signature
    characteristics of positive and negative feedback waveforms in the temperature record we
    need to understanding of what a “feedback” is in science. The scientific definition of
    “feedback” is this: “When the result of an initial process triggers changes in a second
    process that in turn influences the initial one. A positive feedback intensifies the original
    process, and a negative feedback reduces it.” 1
    1 Working Group I: The Scientific Basis, Appendix I – Glossary, http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/518.htm
    Fig #3 Phoenix vs. Dallas
    Fig #6 Riyadh vs. Bogra
    Fig #4 Las Vegas vs. Knoxville
    Fig #5 Death Valley vs. Huntsville
    To better understand this scientific definition of “feedback” let’s look at some
    well known examples of positive and negative feedback. The first example that we will
    look at is the body’s regulation of blood sugar levels through the negative feedbacks
    exerted by the hormones insulin and glucagon.
    This graph is a simulated curve of blood
    sugar levels for about five hours after a meal.
    Shortly after a meal is eaten blood sugar begins to
    rise and in response the body releases insulin
    whose effect is to lower blood sugar. Insulin’s
    effect is called a negative feedback because it
    counteracts the rise in blood sugar seen after a
    meal. When the blood sugar begins to drop the
    insulin level drops as well.
    To keep the blood sugar from falling too
    far too fast and to maintain a basal level of blood
    sugar between meals the body releases a second
    hormone called glucagon and its effect is
    opposite that of insulin in that it works to slow
    falling blood sugar. Insulin slows rising blood
    sugars and glucagon slows falling blood sugars.
    So even though the action of glucagon is
    opposite that of insulin they are both negative
    feedbacks because they counteract changes in
    blood sugars rather than amplify them. Again, if
    blood sugars are increasing insulin kicks in to
    slow that increase and if blood sugars are
    decreasing glucagon kicks in to slow that
    decrease. As you can see this graph, a “second
    process” that creates a negative feedback can
    either be in phase or out of phase with the “initial
    process.”
    What makes feedback positive or negative then is not the direction of its force but
    whether or not it inhibits or amplifies the change that triggered it. In nature negative
    feedbacks create stability while positive feedbacks create instability.
    Glucagon
    Blood Sugar
    Insulin
    Meal
    Fig. #7 Blood Sugar Curve After a Meal
    Blood Sugar
    Insulin
    Fig. #8 Insulin Curve After a Meal
    Glucagon
    Fig. #9 Glucagon Curve After a Meal
    Blood Sugar
    Blood Sugar
    Fig. #10 Blood Sugar, Insulin & Glucagon Curves After a Meal
    Meal
    Meal
    These are two generic graphs of positive and negative feedbacks, one ascending
    and one descending. The positive feedbacks are in red and the negative feedbacks are in
    blue. As you can see, positive feedback amplifies the change while negative feedback
    attenuates the change regardless of whether the direction of change is up or down.
    If these graphs were of temperature curves then a positive feedback could either
    cause greater warming or greater cooling depending upon the time of day. For example,
    it is said that “water vapor feedback” is positive because it is believed to amplify
    warming. If an increase in humidity were shown to amplify nighttime cooling that would
    be a positive feedback as well, because that would amplify the temperature change
    already occurring–cooling. I only bring this up because ironically the most common
    example offered as proof that water vapor feedback is positive is the fact that humid
    nights cool more slowly than arid nights and this is actually a negative feedback against
    nighttime cooling. This is more than just a matter of semantics, because remember in
    nature negative feedbacks bring stability while positive feedbacks bring instability. If we
    mislabel a negative feedback and call it positive feedback, we might be led to believe that
    the addition of humidity to a climate system will destabilize it!
    Let’s turn our focus to positive
    feedback for a minute. As you can see in
    this graph, examples of positive feedback
    have a distinctly different look. They
    have a signature exponential curve that
    usually ends abruptly because of a
    “terminating event.”
    An example of positive feedback
    in nature can be seen in the labor pains of
    childbirth. Known as the “Ferguson Reflex” each contraction stimulates a higher release
    of the hormone oxytocin, which increases the strength and frequency of the contractions.
    The “terminating event” is the birth of the child at which time contractions abruptly stop.
    Another example of positive feedback is the squeal heard through a PA system when the
    microphone is placed near the speaker and sound from the speaker is picked up by the
    mic and fed back through the amplifier. Everyone hears an abrupt loud squeal that
    terminates just as abruptly when the speakers blow, the mic is moved away from the
    Fig. #11 Positive and Negative Feedback – Ascending Fig. #12 Positive and Negative Feedback – Descending
    Terminating Event
    Fig. #13 Positive Feedback Waveform
    Exponential Curve
    speaker or the amp is turned off. Another example of positive feedback is the growth in
    the debt of a company whose expenses are consistently greater than its receipts year after
    year. Its debt will continue to grow exponentially until it is terminated by bankruptcy.
    The signature trait of a positive feedback waveform is that it is very “spiked”
    compared to the rounded waveform seen in negative feedback.
    Departing from this classical scientific definition of “feedback” contemporary
    literature defines positive water vapor feedback one-dimensionally and implies that
    positive water vapor feedback always results in a warmer temperatures and when you see
    a counter argument that asserts that water vapor feedback is negative the term is also used
    one-dimensionally and implies that negative water vapor feedback always results in a
    cooler temperatures. Again, positive feedback will only result in a warmer temperatures
    and negative feedback will only result in a cooler temperatures if the basal temperature is
    already trending warmer as it does every day from sunrise to mid afternoon. If the basal
    temperature is trending cooler as it does predictably and repeatedly every night then
    positive feedback would make the temperature even cooler and a negative feedback
    would result in a warmer temperature at the end of the night.
    The Experiments (Part 1):
    Using this understanding of the scientific definition of “feedback” let’s take a
    look at the results of my experiments starting with the study of the effect of humidity on
    the daily temperature curve.
    For 38 days I measured soil
    and air temperatures along with the
    dew point every 30 minutes and
    averaged these readings to produce
    this graph of the daily temperature
    and dew point curves. The bottom,
    green line is the dew point, which is
    a good reflection of the absolute
    humidity. As you can see the only
    time during the day that
    evaporation takes place and the absolute humidity increases is between sunrise and early
    Fig. #14 Positive Feedback Waveform Fig. #15 Negative Feedback Waveform
    Fig. #16 24-Hour Soil and Air Temp Curves
    Plus Dew Point Curves: 38-Day Average
    Period of increasing
    Humidity
    Period of increasing Humidity
    afternoon. If positive water vapor feedback that results in higher temperature happens it
    happens during this period of the day, since an essential element in the positive water
    vapor feedback hypothesis is rising absolute humidity levels coupled with rising
    temperatures. For the rest of the day both temperature and humidity are in decline and a
    positive feedback during that time would accentuate that rate of cooling.
    So, the first thing that I did was to find the 38 day mean dew point and divide the
    days up between those that fell above the mean—the “humid” days—and those who fell
    below the mean—the “arid” days. I then averaged their respective daily temperature
    curves and plotted these curves on a graph.
    In this graph the red line is from the “arid” days and the blue line is from the
    “humid” days. The light blue line is the average dew point curve from the “humid” days
    and the orange line is the average dew point curve from the “arid” days.
    As stated above, since the positive “water vapor feedback” hypothesis requires an
    increasing absolute humidity coupled with a rising temperature and this only occurs daily
    between sunrise and early afternoon, I focused my attention on that period to see if the
    increased humidity on the “humid” days amplified the rate of temperature increase during
    that period. Here is the graph:
    In this graph the red line is the
    soil temperature on the “arid” days and
    the blue line is the soil temperature on
    the “humid” days. The light blue line
    is the dew point on the “humid” days
    and the orange line is the dew point on
    the “arid” days. Opposite from the
    positive water vapor feedback
    hypothesis we see that as the humidity
    raises the rate of soil warming
    decreases! This is a strong and
    pronounced negative feedback. Again,
    as the level of humidity increases in the atmosphere the rate of soil warming decreases
    Fig #13 Comparison Between Soil Temperatures On “Humid” vs. “Arid” Days
    Fig #14 – Temp and Dew Point Curves Sunrise – 2PM
    during the period of the day when evaporation happens thereby slowing the evaporation
    process. If humidity exerted a positive feedback on soil temperatures then the rate of soil
    warming from sunrise to early afternoon would increase as the humidity increases but it
    doesn’t; it decreases!
    Here are the same readings in bar
    graph form. The two bars on the left are
    from the “arid” days and the two bars on the
    right are from the “humid” days. The red
    bars are mean temperatures and the blue bars
    are the mean absolute humidity. These are
    the averaged readings in temperature and
    absolute humidity from sunrise to 2PM. As
    you can see, as the humidity increases the
    temperature decreases during the period of
    the day when evaporation is occurring, during the only part of the day in which positive
    feedback would result in higher temperatures. Again, this is a clear and distinct negative
    feedback.
    To complete our analysis of
    the affect of humidity on the daily
    temperature curve let’s look at the
    rest of the day—from 2PM until
    sunrise the next morning. The blue
    line is the soil temperature on the
    “humid” days and the red line is the
    soil temperature on the “arid” days.
    The light blue line is the dew point
    on the “humid” days and the orange
    line is the dew point on the “arid”
    days. As you can see an increase in the absolute humidity is accompanied by a delay in
    nighttime cooling. This, again, is a negative feedback in that it counteracts the more
    rapid cooling trend seen on “arid” days.
    Those graphs were of soil temperatures and if we look at air temperatures we see
    the same negative feedback day and night.
    I feel that something needs to be clarified at this point. I am not asserting that the
    negative feedbacks seen in the above graphs are the effect of water vapor alone, because
    Fig #15 – Soil Temp and Dew Point – Sunrise to 2PM
    Arid Humid
    Fig #16 – Soil Temp and Dew Point – 2PM to Sunrise
    Fig #18 – Air Temp and Dew Point Fig #17 – Air Temp and Dew Point: Sunrise-3PM – 3PM to Sunrise
    water vapor does not exist in isolation. Higher humidity in the air is accompanied by
    more cloud cover, which shades the earth during the day and creates temperature
    inversions at night slowing or stopping nighttime upward convection currents (an actual
    greenhouse effect.) More clouds also usually mean more rain or snow, which further
    cools the soil since precipitation falls from an altitude where is it colder than the ground
    and this cold precipitation cools the soil by direct contact. More humidity also usually
    means that there is more water in the soil, which has at least two affects on the
    temperature: 1) More water is available to cool the soil through latent heat transfer, i.e.,
    evaporation and 2) increased water in the soil increases the specific heat of the soil,
    which will by itself dampen the swing in diurnal temperatures seen in dry climates.
    These graphs manifest the net effect of all of those forces combined and all of those
    forces combined as you have seen produce a pronounced negative feedback against
    temperature changes day and night.
    It is beyond the scope of this paper to sort out the contribution of each separate
    force to the net affect on temperature. I am simply asking, “What affect does the addition
    of water to a climate system have on the overall temperature within that climate system?”
    The “greenhouse effect” hypothesis combined with the “water vapor feedback”
    hypothesis asserts that the addition of water to a climate system should cause a marked
    increase in temperatures within that climate system since the addition of water brings
    with it increased humidity and water vapor is said to trap heat in the atmosphere.
    As we have seen the addition of water to a climate system, manifest by a higher
    absolute humidity, causes less warming during the day coupled with less cooling at night,
    but we don’t know if over time whether or not these two opposing feedbacks cancel each
    other out or if one or the other is dominant and swings the mean temperature higher or
    lower. So let’s expand our time frame to two months and look at daily mean
    temperatures vs. dew points over that period of time.
    The Experiments (Part 2):
    So, here is a graph of
    the daily mean air
    temperatures vs. the
    daily mean dew points
    over a two-month
    period. The red curve is
    the daily mean
    temperature and the
    blue curve is the daily
    mean dew points, which
    again is an accurate
    reflection of absolute humidity. As you can see, as the temperature rose and fell the dew
    point rose and fell as well. Let me make a couple of comments about this graph.
    Fig. #19 Mean Air Temp vs. Mean Dew Point
    a) First, although there is a strong correlation between the waveform shapes of these
    two trends the temperature changes precede the dew point changes by about 24
    hours demonstrating that the temperature is driving the humidity level as has been
    observed in other studies2 and which is the first premise expressed within the
    “water vapor feedback” hypothesis. As the temperature goes up more water is
    evaporated into water vapor and as the temperature goes down more water vapor
    is condensed back into water.
    b) Conventional wisdom asserts that this correlation between temperature and dew
    point increases and decreases proves that water vapor feedback is positive, yet we
    see the exact same pattern of correlation present in a negative feedback. As we
    have already discussed, rising blood sugar levels are followed by rising insulin
    levels and dropping blood sugar levels are followed by dropping in insulin levels
    and insulin is known to exert a profound negative feedback against rising blood
    sugars. Therefore, this graph is consistent with the presence of water in a climate
    system being a negative feedback against increasing temperatures.
    c) It just so happens that there was precipitation near the beginning of this two-month
    period and, as you can see, as time passed and the soil dried out the level of
    humidity in the air trended downward as the temperature of the air trended upward
    even though the “rise and fall” correlation remained present. This is an inverse
    relationship and is, again, consistent with negative feedback rather than positive
    feedback. The fact that as the soil dries out the general level of humidity drops
    demonstrates an important reality. Water vapor feedback cannot exist where there
    is no water in the soil such as the dry sand of an arid desert. So, what we will do
    next is compare a few arid climates with a few humid climates to see if the
    presence of water in these respective climate systems has a warming or a cooling
    affect.
    The Experiments (Part 3):
    I did this comparative study under the assumption that if water vapor traps heat in
    the atmosphere then it will trap the heat in the location where the humidity is. That is the
    humidity that is present in Dallas, Texas does not trap heat in Phoenix, Arizona.
    Whatever heat is trapped in Phoenix will be the doing of the humidity that is present in
    Phoenix.
    So, let’s start by comparing Phoenix to Dallas. They are both about the same
    distance north of the equator and therefore receive about the same amount of sunlight
    every day throughout the year. They are also both inland far enough not to be affected by
    “sea breezes.” Since Phoenix only receives about 7 inches of precipitation annually
    while Dallas receives about 35 inches, the air in Dallas is much more humid than the air
    in Phoenix. If the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis is true and the amount of heat that the
    atmosphere traps increases as the humidity increases then the mean annual temperature in
    humid Dallas should be much higher than the mean annual air temperature in arid
    Phoenix. So let’s take a look.
    2 Wentz, F. J. and M. C. Schabel, (2000) Precise Climate Monitoring Using Complementary Satellite Data Sets, Nature, 403(6768),
    414-416.
    In this chart the bars on the
    left are from Phoenix and the bars on
    the right are from Dallas. The blue
    bars are the yearly mean absolute
    humidity in grams per cubic meter
    and the red bars are the annual mean
    temperatures adjusted for altitude3 in
    degrees Celsius. These numbers are
    from the National Weather Service.
    As you can see even though Dallas is
    significantly more humid than
    Phoenix Dallas is never the less significantly cooler on average than Phoenix.
    Next let’s compare Las Vegas, Nevada with Knoxville, Tennessee. Again, these
    cities are both about the same distance north of the equator and therefore receive about
    the same amount of sunlight every day throughout the year. They are also both inland far
    enough not to be affected by “sea breezes.” Since Las Vegas only receives about 4.5
    inches of precipitation annually while Knoxville receives about 48 inches, the air in
    Knoxville is much more humid than the air in Las Vegas. If the “greenhouse effect”
    hypothesis is true and the amount of heat that the atmosphere traps increases as the
    humidity increases then the mean annual temperature in humid Knoxville should be much
    higher than the mean annual air temperature in arid Las Vegas. So let’s take a look.
    Again, in this chart the bars
    on the left are from Las Vegas and
    the bars on the right are from
    Knoxville. The blue bars are the
    absolute humidity in grams per cubic
    meter and the red bars are the mean
    annual temperatures adjusted for
    altitude in degrees Celsius. Again,
    these numbers are from the National
    Weather Service. As you can see
    even though Knoxville is
    significantly more humid than Las Vegas Knoxville is never the less much cooler on
    average than Las Vegas.
    Let’s take a look at Death Valley, California compared to Huntsville, Alabama.
    Again, these cities are both about the same distance north of the equator and therefore
    receive about the same amount of sunlight every day throughout the year. They are also
    both inland far enough not to be affected by “sea breezes.” Since Death Valley only
    3 The International Standard Atmosphere published by The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ISO 2533:1975
    states that for every 1,000 meters that the altitude is lower the temperature raises 6.5 °C on average due to adiabatic heating. Based on
    that formula these numbers estimate what the annual mean temperature would be if both cities were at sea level.
    Fig #17 – Phoenix vs. Dallas Humidity & Temperature
    Fig #18 – Las Vegas vs. Knoxville Humidity & Temperature
    receives about 2.4 inches of precipitation annually while Huntsville receives about 57
    inches, the air in Huntsville is much more humid than the air in Death Valley. If the
    “greenhouse effect” hypothesis is true and the amount of heat that the atmosphere traps
    increases as the humidity increases then the mean annual temperature in humid
    Huntsville should be much higher than the mean annual air temperature in arid Death
    Valley. So let’s take a look.
    In this chart the bars on the
    left are from Death Valley and the
    bars on the right are from Huntsville.
    The blue bars are the absolute
    humidity in grams per cubic meter
    and the red bars are the mean annual
    temperatures adjusted for altitude in
    degrees Celsius. As you can see even
    though Huntsville is significantly
    more humid than Death Valley it is
    never the less much cooler on average
    than Death Valley.
    Let’s look at one more example from the international arena. Let’s compare
    Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with Bogra, Bangladesh. Again, these cities are both about the
    same distance north of the equator and therefore receive about the same amount of
    sunlight every day throughout the year. They are also both inland far enough not to be
    affected by “sea breezes.” Since Riyadh only receives about 3.7 inches of precipitation
    annually while Bogra receives about 63 inches, the air in Bogra is much more humid than
    the air in Riyadh. If the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis is true and the amount of heat
    that the atmosphere traps increases as the humidity increases then the mean annual
    temperature in humid Bogra should be much higher than the mean annual air temperature
    in arid Riyadh. So let’s take a look.
    In this chart the bars on the left are from
    Riyadh and the bars on the right are from
    Bogra. The blue bars are the absolute
    humidity in grams per cubic meter and
    the red bars are the mean annual
    temperatures adjusted for altitude in
    degrees Celsius. As you can see even
    though Bogra is significantly more
    humid than Riyadh it is never the less
    noticeably cooler on average than
    Riyadh.
    These observations might seem counter intuitive since we often perceive humid
    climates to be warmer than arid climates, but as we have seen that is just a sensory
    illusion. Since our bodies are water cooled through perspiration, which is more efficient
    in low humidity environments, people who move from Dallas to Phoenix or from
    Fig #19 – Death Valley vs. Huntsville Humidity & Temperature
    Fig #20 – Riyadh vs. Bogra Humidity & Temperature
    Knoxville to Las Vegas think that they are moving to a cooler climate; but they are not.
    It just feels cooler.
    Conclusion:
    So what does this all mean? Although it is true that warmer temperatures create
    higher humidity in climates where there is water in the soil to evaporate, that greater
    humidity demonstrably does not lead to even more warming. Quite the contrary, as we
    have seen the presence of water in a climate system exerts a negative feedback on
    temperatures both day and night, which stabilizes the wide diurnal swings in temperature
    seen in arid climates and, over time causes humid climates to be some what cooler on
    average than arid climates. In this sense water acts as the earth’s thermostat and not its
    heater. The observations made in this paper also falsify any notion that there could ever
    be runaway global warming driven by positive water vapor feedback where the oceans
    evaporate into the atmosphere and all life on earth perishes. Why? Because “water
    feedback” is negative feedback and if it were going to happen it already would have.
    These empirical observations do not deny that the various climates around the
    world continue to experience variations over time, but rather they demonstrates that the
    presence of water on our planet continues to act as a stabilizing force as it exerts negative
    feedback against temperature change up or down.

  45. TimTheToolMan says:

    Mosher writes “AIRS is observations. In fact you might want to familiarize yourself with the sensors.”

    Its all about the imbalance at the TOA and measures like expected surface warming vs water vapour increases are interesting but essentially meaningless in understanding AGW.

    If you look at increasing water vapour and say the radiative transfer models infer the forcing must increase then you’re ignoring possible negative feedbacks such as changed lapse rates with an increased water cycle which apply at the TOA.

    Its important that Berényi Péter is considering measurements during this period of “hiatus”.

  46. Frank says:

    If they used 7 years of data, how can they tell which water vapor is the result of short term feedback and which is long term? Maybe I read the materials too quickly.

  47. Susie says:

    This is one of the most bizarre papers I’ve ever read. Surely, if we’ve only seen 15% of the water vapour feedback predicted by the models in 25 years, it’s more likely the models are wrong than there is 85% more feedback in the pipeline.

  48. charles nelson says:

    Water vapour is the one of the main media carrying heat away from the equator to temperate and cold regions of the earth. More water vapour can only result in more cooling.

  49. What about the issue of water vapor NOT being an evenly distributed greenhouse gas, and that its distribution is key to its feedbacl potential. It’s recently been observed, I believe, that the increase in water vapor concentrations due to warming has been confined to the lower troposphere, where its greenhouse effects are negligible, whereas there has actually been a decrease in water vapor content in the higher elevations, where most of the greenhouse effect takes place, all of which produces a net negative, or cooling, feedback. Which might help explain phenomena like the pause and the lack of the equatorial “hot spot” predicted by most models.

  50. There’s nothing we can do, it’s too late to stop the warming accelerating. We are on a warming track and the feedbacks are positive, so it is just a matter of time before we all burn up. We might as well go on burning fossil fuels as a fast as we can then and enjoy ourselves in the warmth. All those plants will love it, so lots of cheap food as well. What’s not to like.

  51. old construction worker says:

    What is worst than being cold and hungry? Being wet, cold and hungry.
    According this study, the next time I’m out hiking I’ll camp by a waterfall to stay warm.

  52. Mike Borgelt says:

    Yep, convective clouds form during the day, reflecting incoming SW. After sunset, the clouds go away, letting out the LW. As Willis as told us many times. This occurs in the mid latitudes as well as the tropics.At least I’ve learned something in nearly 50 years of flying gliders.
    One other thing – the air is already close to saturation in most of the tropics. How much more “greenhouse effect” are you going to get?

  53. clivebest says:

    Bill Illis wrote

    Make clouds a negative -0.75 W/m2/K (instead of a positive 0.75) and drop the water vapor feedback to 4.14% per 1.0C (as the actual data shows), then the climate sensitivity is only 1.1C per doubling.

    Climate science did these little feedback assumption calculations long ago and decided to keep all the assumptions at rates which would result in 3.0C per doubling. They then built these numbers into their climate models.

    They were also careful to ensure that they included aerosol fudge factors which they could fine tune to always agree with temperature data, while still maintaining high feedbacks.

  54. Robertv says:

    So a summer with only cloudy days will make it a hot one. I don’t think you can attract many tourists with that slogan.

    Welcome to Florida the cloudy State.

    http://blakerealestate.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/welcome-sign-at-the-Florida-state-line.jpg

    How would you warm the Oceans with constant cloud cover?
    http://www.klimaatfraude.info/images/sverdrup.gif

    What surface temperature would Earth have with a 100% cloud cover. Would the temperature be as stable as the Venus surface temperature ?

  55. Jimbo says:

    Positive feedback V negative feedback. Which one wins out during our paleo observations?

    Science Daily – 2 February 2014
    Nature can, selectively, buffer human-caused global warming, say scientists
    Can naturally occurring processes selectively buffer the full brunt of global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities? Yes, says a group of researchers in a new study.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140202111055.htm
    C. I. Garfinkel, D. W. Waugh, L. D. Oman, L. Wang, M. M. Hurwitz. Temperature trends in the tropical upper troposphere and lower stratosphere: Connections with sea surface temperatures and implications for water vapor and ozone. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 2013; 118 (17): 9658 DOI: 10.1002/jgrd.50772
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jgrd.50772
    ——————–

    IPCC – Climate Change 2007: Working Group I
    Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas, and carbon dioxide (CO2) is the second-most important one. “

  56. johnmarshall says:

    If water vapour is a potent greenhouse gas how come dry deserts are hotter than wet rainforest of the same latitude and altitude??????????????

  57. johnmarshall says:

    Mike Borgelt—
    You forgot that all cloud contains latent heat held in the water vapour. This is a lot of heat. And having flown over the Indian Ocean many times at night, the convective cloud is still there and very active.

  58. michael hart says:

    Berthold, very few people are going to read 25 pages of poorly formatted text.

  59. I am not sure about how can I introduce my thoughts in here. I feel a sense of cautiousness when approaching debates on human impact in the global ecosystem due to the strong positions taken that can react in a somehow “fighting” mode. I am in a transition period (job seeking) and opening my thoughts to scrutiny it is a challenge than can well take me away from building bridges instead of creating them. But any way I would like to add my input in this debate by incorporating what for me it my be the role played in the models by the lack of understanding on the mechanisms of resilience working in the global environment. Which under my point of view might be a key issue creating distortion in our interpretations of data getting incorporated in the predictive models based on linear patterns. Since I have already created posts in my blog about it I would like to leave here two links in order to extend my point for those interested and with no other intention that join the debate and expand my perception of things through constructive feedback.
    http://diegofdezsevilla.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/resilience-in-our-environment/
    http://diegofdezsevilla.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/resilience-in-our-models/

  60. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    The oceans are warmed by solar SW radiation. The DWLW radiation (IR from greenhouse gases) is so efficiently absorbed by the water molecules on the surface that effectively the surface becomes opaque to IR. The surface water molecules absorb the photons and the energy is converted to kinetic energy, causing the water molecules to vibrate vigorously.

    The surface water molecules eventually have enough energy to overcome the cohesive force (surface tension) and the short range attractive forces (Van der Waals) that bind them to the rest of the water molecules. This energy of phase change (latent heat) is efficiently achieved by the IR radiation.

    The molecule enters the vapour phase and is borne on winds and convection currents into the atmosphere. It contains the energy provided by the IR radiation as well as the energy it initially possessed as a water molecule in the surface of the ocean. The ocean has lost some heat.

    As the air containing the water vapour molecule cools, condensation will occur, releasing the latent heat in the atmosphere.

    The energy required to achieve evaporation is massive compared to the energy required to raise the water temperature, so the efficiency of IR absorption achieves much more evaporation than simply raising the temperature of the sea.

    Greenhouse gas DWIR radiation facilitates evaporation and cooling of the oceans.

  61. MattS says:

    RS says:
    March 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Seeing that atmospheric CO2 was over 1000 and as much as 8000 ppm in dinosaur days without the planet going Venus, I would say that there is no strong positive feedback loop.
    =============================================================================
    The atmosphere of Venus is 95% CO2 and is two orders of magnitude more massive than the Earth’s atmosphere.

    Thus for Earth to go Venus, CO2 concentration (relative to Earth’s current atmosphere) would have to increase by 95,000,000 ppm. Yes, that is 95 million parts per million.

  62. mpainter says:

    There should be no arguments. We have an observable situation on this planet that tells us how water vapor, or its absence, affects temperature. Compare the diurnal temperature range of the central Sahara (~85 F) with the diurnal range of the wet tropics (~ 25 F). Note that the effect of increasing water vapor is a moderation temperatures. This means that adding water vapor to dry climates will moderate extremes and adding water vapor to wet climates will only increase rainfall. But this is observation, and the climate modelers hate observations that refute their cherished models. They turn a blind eye to anything that contradicts AGW theory. If they respond to such observations at all (and usually they do not) their response is an effusion of theory, as if theory nullifies observations. For them it does.

  63. mpainter says:

    It is ironic that someone who embraces the climate models should cite the engineering disciplines as support, because these universally reject the GCM’s as egregiously contrived.

  64. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    A strongly positive water vapour feedback is highly unlikely because such feedback would cause frequent climate temperature spikes and the climate would be unstable. There would be localised runaway warming in the tropics. The reverse is true. The climate of our planet has been remarkably stable for long periods. The predicted hot spot over the tropics has never been observed. The large increase in humidity has not been observed. There has been a small increase at the surface and decreases in the middle and upper troposphere humidity.

    The small temperature rise allegedly blamed on GHG could be explained by CO2 alone so there is no evidence to support a positive water vapour feedback.

    I understand the logic being proposed but observation suggests that the process is capped by other factors such as the mechanism I proposed above. Furthermore, warming is likely to speed up a number of heat removal processes such as convection to the upper atmosphere and lateral transfer of heat away from the equator. The dynamics of the system change and I doubt if the models simulate that.

  65. Mickey Reno says:

    Where is some sense of geological history? Let’s assume that at many points in Earth’s long history, we’ve had a warm climate with high humidity levels at the higher temperate zone latitudes. Did this create a Venus style planet? No? Why not? Obviously, positive feedback stops being positive at some point, and turns negative. This should be an assumed axiomatic truth. Now, could we please look to see if we can learn the reasons and switchover point(s), and stop with the boring alarmist BS?

  66. Jim says:

    I may be wrong, but the last I understood, clouds are not water vapor, the are in fact liquid, however tiny the cloud droplet. Clouds are liquid, suspended by convective currents at the elevation in the atmosphere where condensation occurs. In addition to expending energy in supporting billions of tons of liquid water against gravity, thermal exchanges between the earth and space are being enhanced in multiple ways. Nature is truly amazing.

  67. Gary Hladik says:

    The Gordon et al paper reminds me of the (apocryphal) story that scientists, using impeccable mathematics, have proven that a bumblebee absolutely and unquestionably cannot fly:

    http://www.snopes.com/science/bumblebees.asp

    Here the authors “prove” that the so-called “Global Average Temperature” should be increasing rapidly as a result of “water vapor feedback”, yet the real atmosphere, like the bumblebee, stubbornly refuses to cooperate.

    One of these two stories of self-deluding scientists is all too real.

  68. Box of Rocks says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    March 11, 2014 at 7:07 pm
    Box of rocks.
    *******************

    Steven Mosher – I seriously doubt that. Radiative transfer to me means the conversion of radiation to sensible heat.

    Antenna design has it roots in Maxwell’s equations. Yeah, that portion of Engineering Physics 2 that lasted about two weeks, only to be revisited by EE’s a couple of years later as a class over 2 semesters.

    There is a a huge difference between converting electrical energy into radio waves that are propagated by an antenna. Just look at an array for a SPY-1(series) radar whose latest iteration is used for ballistic missile defense. In terms of radiation a whole different set of problems to solve in terms of radiation – low frequency at that.

    When clouds form latent heat in the form of radiation is released – this we know. Whether the energy released is in a form that can do ‘work’ is another question and whole different set of equations that (I bet) are largely or at least very poorly developed…

  69. Luke Warmist says:

    michael hart says:
    March 12, 2014 at 4:15 am
    Berthold, very few people are going to read 25 pages of poorly formatted text.

    ——————————–
    ….and in about the middle was blood sugar and insulin levels. Another cut and paste gone awry.

  70. thingadonta says:

    If increased water vapour gives higher temperatures, why aren’t the tropics warmer than the deserts?

    I suspect much of the whole issue on global warming revolves around this issue. It is likely that with greater c02 the temperatures in temperate and polar latitudes increase to a point, but the tropics stay the same, due to negative feedback and saturation with water vapour and the effect of thunderstorms, evapotranspiration, and clouds. This also means there is a buffering effect in the atmosphere, and runaway greenhouse is very unlikely.

    What you do also probably get is polar migration of climate zones, so deserts move poleward (e.g. Perth is getting drier) and tropics also move poleward (eg Darwin and Brisbane, both of which do not show warming in recent decades, due to the increased water vapour and negative associated feedback).

  71. johnmarshall says:

    MaxS
    Venus surface atmospheric pressure is 90atmospheres (earth atmospheres). Venus has an albedo of 0.67, more than twice ours. It receives twice our solar radiation so actually looses more than twice our radiation to space through albedo. Very little radiation actually makes it to the surface. Pictures from the Russian Venus probe showed a red landscape due to lack of light. It was then crushed. the high temperature on Venus is due to adiabatic atmospheric compression. The atmosphere is 70Km deep,( ours 12-15), the lapse rate is just over 10C/km giving you the 700+K surface temperature.
    Not GHE at all.

  72. johnmarshall says:

    thingadonta
    rainforest is cooler because of the water vapour. evapouration requires latent heat and a lot of it, plus the clouds formed, convective heat removing clouds, reflect heat from their white tops. So less heat for the surface.

  73. MattS says:

    @johnmarshall

    You point out many differences between Earth and Venus, but except for the solar radiation differences due to orbital distance from the sun, don’t you think most of those differences would diminish significantly if you suddenly added the quantity of CO2 in Venus’s atmosphere to Earth’s Atmosphere?

  74. gymnosperm says:

    ” in lab experiments at least, water vapor has been shown to reduce, not increase, the greenhouse effect of CO2″

    This is effective sequestration. CO2 averages 2% of water in the atmosphere by mass, but CO2 is nearly three times as heavy and spectral florescence is by molecule, not by mass. So let’s say CO2 .7% by molecules. The absorption spectra overlap. Water is strongly concentrated near the surface. Who gets the photon?

    We think of the greenhouse effect as bottom up but really half of it is top down from incoming solar radiation. Water fluoresces over many incoming spectra but CO2 is marginalized by its spectral properties on this side of the ledger.

    http://geosciencebigpicture.com/2014/02/23/a-graphic-study-of-the-greenhouse-effect/

  75. anticlimactic says:

    Water vapour is not a GHG and it is simple to demonstrate.

    Using scientific principles you first look at an area with little water vapour, say the Sahara Desert. The daily temperature can vary by up to 35C – baking hot in the day and freezing overnight. This also a good way to demonstate the effect of GHGs – pretty much zero! GHGs will be much the same over the Sahara as the rest of the world. All one can say about GHGs is that they may make the hottest part of the day slightly hotter, but the effect will soon disappear once the sun is lower in the sky.

    Although the temperature ranges over most of the world would be less it demonstrates that the effects of GHGs are lost overnight so any warming must be started fresh EVERY DAY.

    Now take a hot place with a lot of water – say the Brazilian rain forest. Here the daily temperature range is 2C to 5C, with an average temperature of 25C. The effect of water vapour has a dramatic effect on the climate. Note that the water causes cooling during the day and warming during the night. By definition this means it is not a GHG. It acts more like an insulator – call it ‘the Thermos Effect’!

    This is further demonstrated by looking at the annual change in temperature. The rain forest varies by only 2C over the year but the Sahara goes from daily maximums of 40C to 15C, further showing the lack of effect of GHGs.

    Finally, consider that the Sun heats the Earth by 390C. Easy to work out : take the temperature of the universe [-270C] and add the hottest temperature on the Moon [120C]. The thin layer of atmosphere has to drop this temperature by over 80C, mostly by water vapour. If water vapour was a GHG the oceans at the equator would be boiling!

    Also note that 80C is a LOT of cooling. I think that plus or minus 3C on the current global temperature would cover the temperature of Earth for almost all of the past 4 billion years. Small variations in water vapour could have a large effect on global temperatures.

  76. fhhaynie says:

    To anticlimatic,
    You are confusing the effects of evaporation and condensation with the effects of radiative transfer of energy to space. Strong evidence of the “greenhouse effect” of water vapor is observed at the poles where concetrations are lowest but vary by orders of magnitude seasonally. The resistance to OLR at TOA is strongly related to this variation. http://www.kidswincom.net/CO2OLR.pdf.

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