Is the climate computable?

chaos_signOur WUWT thread on Antarctic Sea Ice Losses has spurred quite an interesting discussion. Dr. Robert G. Brown of the Physics Department at Duke University responds to a comment on  ice albedo with a summary of water vapor action, the greenhouse effect, and the chaotic nature of the atmosphere. He ends with his view of why he’s not a betting man.

Well worth a read.

rgbatduke says:

May 21, 2014 at 5:49 am

phlogiston: I do realise that over the Antarctic land mass albedo from surface snow is anomalously higher than that from cloud, since the snow presents such a pure white surface. However this is probably not the case for sea ice whose surface is more irregular and cracked with patches of dark sea in between.

The trouble is that water vapor is literally a two-edged sword. As vapor, it is the strongest greenhouse gas in the atmosphere by (IIRC) around an order of magnitude, so increasing water vapor can and does measurably increase the GHE — a lot, when considering dry air versus saturated air. In arid deserts, temperatures skyrocket during the day and plummet at night because of the absence of a water vapor driven GHE — CO_2 alone isn’t nearly enough to keep upward facing surfaces from rapidly losing their heat due to radiation. In very humid tropical climates, the nights are consistently warm because of the GHE.

However, water vapor is also the mediating agent for two major cooling mechanisms. One is the bulk transport of latent heat — sunlight and LWIR hit the sea surface and cause rapid evaporation of surface molecules of water. Wind blows over the ocean surface, stripping off water molecules as it goes. This evaporated water has a huge heat content relative to liquid water — the latent heat of vaporization. As the warm water vapor is carried aloft by convection, it carries the heat along with it. It also cools as it rides the adiabatic lapse rate upward, and further cools by radiating its heat content away (some of which returns to the Earth as GHE back radiation). Eventually the partial pressure of water vapor in the moist air becomes saturated relative to the temperature and the dew point is reached, making it comparatively probable that the water vapor will recondense into water. In order to do so, though, several things have to be “just right”. The water vapor has to be able to lose the latent heat of vaporization that it picked up at the water surface when it evaporated. The future water droplets have to be able to nucleate — which is a lot more likely to occur when there are ionic aerosols in the atmosphere as water (a polar molecule) is attracted to bare charge of either sign.

Once a water droplet is nucleated and grows past a critical size (that depends weakly on humidity and temperature) its surface becomes large enough that growth due to increased surface deposition outweighs loss due to surface evaporation, and the droplet stabilizes as a single droplet of condensation in a cloud or continues to grow to fall as rain. Either way the water, now high in the troposphere and hence through most of the optically opaque greenhouse layer, releases heat that is “short circuited” through the greenhouse mechanism and lost to space via radiation.

The cloud, as you note, has a very high albedo. High albedo means that it strongly reflects short-wave (e.g. visible) radiation without ever absorbing it and being heated by it. During the day, clouds outside of the polar regions act as a cooling agent, reflecting sunlight before it has a chance to reach the ground and lower troposphere to warm either one. During the day and the night, however, the cloud also acts as a powerful greenhouse blanket, directly reflecting LWIR as well as visible back down towards the Earth’s surface. In the tropics, daytime reflection wins by a landslide — reducing the incident sunlight by a huge fraction for a large fraction of the day beats the comparatively small modulation of surface radiative losses both day and night. In the temperate zone (again, IIRC) albedo still wins, but by a smaller and smaller margin as one creeps north (and in ways that are increasingly dependent on seasonal weather patterns — in the winter clouds can easily be net warming where in the summer they can be net cooling).

However — and this is key and the reason I’m replying to you — in the polar regions clouds are generally net warming, at least most of the year. You’ve already indicated some of the reasons — the polar regions are already often or permanently ice covered, and the gain in daytime albedo from clouds vs ice is not so great. The real problem, however, is that nighttime warming from the enhanced GHE from clouds scales with the fraction of the day that it is nighttime, and of course inside the arctic circles that can be as long as 100% of it. High albedo doesn’t cool when there is no incident sunlight to reflect, and even in the arctic summer, the sun comes in at a substantial angle so that direct solar warming is weak (so that clouds can reflect only a proportionally smaller amount of heat). A lot of polar temperature is determined by heat transport, not direct heating, explaining the substantial difference in mean temperatures of the North and South poles. In the north, there is substantial heat transport and heat exchange via the ocean; in central Antarctica there is only the atmosphere to carry heat in from the warmer latitudes and it just can’t do the job half as well.

That’s why I hesitated to assign a sign to the net feedback from any sort of local modulation of e.g. ocean-air humidity or sea ice coverage. The processes are COMPLEX and can have either sign, and they are NON-LOCAL as adding humidity in one place can increase albedo someplace else thousands of miles away is it finally concentrates enough to form clouds. A large part of the rain that falls over North Carolina comes up from the Gulf of Mexico maybe 1000 miles away. Some of it comes all the way over from the Pacific, where some of that might have originated in e.g. the growing El Nino. Heat from the tropical Pacific can be transported all the way to NC before it finally releases its heat and falls as rain, before it finally creates clouds that cause NC to cool after helping to greenhouse warm much of the surface area it crossed in between.

This is the kind of thing that the models are supposedly trying to model, but they perforce replace all of the small-length scale detail of this description with presumptive averages over cells 100-300 km square (where weather phenomena such as thunderstorms are order of 1 to 10 km square, where the details of front structure and development are much finer than this). They are excruciatingly tuned to aerosol levels and albedo — they have to be to stabilize anywhere near the correct/observed temperatures and preserve the central tenet that CO_2 causes X amount of baseline warming that is on average augmented by additional water vapor.

This last assumption is finally dying a quiet and well deserved death. AFAIK, it is due to Hansen, who in his original papers predicting disaster assumed universally positive water vapor feedback (and for no particularly scientifically motivated reason that I can see, hypothesized truly absurd levels of water vapor feedback that doubled or tripled the CO_2-only warming of his then very simple models). Naturally, some of the GCMs out there have built into them parametric assumptions that preserve this much “climate sensitivity” — total ACO_2 warming plus feedback, usually at the expense of an overdriven response to e.g. volcanic aerosols necessary to explain periods of global cooling and to keep the model from having a runaway exponential instability (because one has to have a mechanism that keeps positive feedback water vapor from causing increase of water vapor without bound just from FLUCTUATIONS in water vapor content or global temperature — the climate cannot be a biased random walk where every time the temperature goes up a bit, average water vapor increases and hence resets the Earth’s average temperature a bit higher unless a competing process can completely erase the gain when the temperature fluctuates down a bit).

At the moment, estimates of climate sensitivity are struggling to retain any net positive feedback from water vapor in the face of data that already solidly excludes the kind of absurd feedback levels Hansen originally hypothesized. Even the question of net negative feedback from water vapor, long considered to be anathema in climate science (except for a few mavericks who managed to publish papers suggesting that clouds could easily lead to net negative feedback through the dual mechanism of latent heat transport and modulation of albedo) is no longer completely off of the table. I don’t know that people will start to take it too seriously unless/until the Earth actually cools (several tenths of a degree, sustained, not just vary up or down or weakly downward trend) but obviously if this happened it would truly be the only likely catastrophe associated with global warming to all of those that have invested their professional careers, hundreds of billions of dollars of global wealth, and their political and/or scientific reputation on shaky claims in poor agreement (so far) with observational data.

IF there is a super-ENSO, perhaps it will help their arguments survive a bit longer, or perhaps it will truly kick up the temperature to where the models become believable again. Perhaps not. ENSO is not the only factor in climate evolution, and while it has been dominant for the last half century or so in mediating positive jumps as documented by Bob Tisdale, its ability to do so could easily be predicated by the phases and states of the other decadal oscillations, the state of the Sun, the state of baseline vulcanism, the immediate past climate history, and the price of tea in China. A chaotic nonlinear system can be quasiperiodic and apparently causal for a while and then for no computable reason change to an entirely different mode of behavior where a significant quasiparticle/process becomes insignificant and some other process becomes the critical driver. We could still watch as the developing ENSO discharges all that heat in such a way that it never manages to raise global average temperatures by much because of some confounding wave that causes the heat to be efficiently transported up and quickly lost rather than persisting to spread out over the globe at high altitude, or by a mere modulation of the winds that causes albedo over the warm(ing) patch to be higher than expected so that the delivery of solar energy to the ocean is effectively interrupted. It’s not like we can properly predict ENSO (although we can do pretty well with forward projective hindsight once an ENSO process has started).

No matter what, I expect the next year to be highly informative. If we have a super El Nino that heats the planet by 0.3C very rapidly, that certainly makes GCMs more, not less, plausible on average as it kicks global average temperatures at least in the right direction for them not to be as egregiously wrong as they currently appear to be. If it only kicks the temperature up by 0 to 0.1 C, and that only transiently so that temperature in a year are again pretty much flat relative to 1998-2000, it is very bad news for the models. If it fizzles altogether — short-circuited, perhaps, by the downhill side of solar cycle 24 that maybe be beginning and which will proceed with poorly predictable speed and which may or may not have a competitive local effect on the climate and produces no gain at all and cycles immediately into a cooling La Nina that augments any solar cycle cooling to actually drop global average temperatures, that too will be very informative.

Personally, I won’t even place a bet. I don’t think the climate is computable, which means that I think one is basically betting on the output of a (possibly biased) random number generator. I’d rather play Mumbledy-peg for money.

 

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176 Responses to Is the climate computable?

  1. AlecM says:

    You claim LWIR coming down from the sky; ‘back radiation’. It doesn’t exist; here’s why. IPCC ‘science’ is based on the concept of “Forcing’, net energy transfer to the Earth’s surface by solar SW and atmospheric LW radiation. Standard physics assesses both as the difference of ‘Irradiances’ from ‘Stefan-Boltzmann’ equations. The IPCC does it differently.

    The SW emitter is the Sun, 5,500 deg.K. The SW absorber, mainly the surface, is cooler but it still has Irradiance so net SW surface heating rate = (Sigma(F1.T_sun^4 – F2.T_surface^4). Sigma is the S-B constant, F1 and F2 are parameters dependent on clouds etc.,Ts are temperatures. It comes to +160 W/m^2 (mean). For equilibrium, this heat flux transfers to the atmosphere as 97 W/m^2 convection/latent heat, 63 W/m^2 real net IR of which 40 W/m^2 goes to Space.

    In standard physics, net LW surface heating equal net LW IR = (Sigma(F3.T_atmosphere^4 – F4.T_surface^4), numerically -63 W/m^2 = (333 W/m^2 – 396 W/m^2). Conservation of energy is: 160 W/m^2 (SW heating) -97 W/m^2 (convection) -63 W/m^2 (net surface LW IR) = 0 W/m^2. As net surface IR emission in main GHG bands is zero, there’s no atmospheric heating from this.

    However, IPCC ‘science’ assumes 396 W/m^2 surface LW Irradiance, the ‘black body’ level for 16 deg C, is a real IR flux when in reality it’s the potential flux to a sink at absolute zero. Only 63 W/m^2 is real. They make up the difference by assuming 333 W/m^2 LW Irradiance measured by ‘pyrgeometers’ pointing to the atmosphere provides extra surface heat when standard physics shows for a normal temperature gradient it can’t transfer energy to the surface. This failure to understand their main instrument is a serious scientific mistake.

    Adding 97 W/m^2 convection makes 493 W/m^2, 3x real heating, never proved experimentally. They offset 238.5 W/m^2 by falsely applying Kirchhoff’s Law of Radiation to the (semi-transparent) ToA; you can’t do that. The residual c. 60% more heating is, with 3x real GHE, used to purport imaginary ‘positive feedback’. They then use c. 25% extra low level cloud albedo in hindcasting to pretend the sensible heat left after the extra latent heat doesn’t heat the atmosphere above reality.

    IPCC ‘science’ is nothing less than science fraud; manipulation of data to purport much more heating than reality. The GHG-absorbed IR component is exaggerated by a factor of 5.1. This scam deceived all but real heat transfer experts, of whom there are few.

  2. Doug Hoffman says:

    That is one of the most cogent statements of why computer climate models cannot be trusted to accurately predict the future. I truly hope the absurd emphasis on CO2 levels finally gets dumped in the really dumb scientific conjecture grave yard. Then maybe we can get on with finding out how Earth’s climate engine works.

  3. Leo Smith says:

    I dunno who you are sir, but please keep writing.

    This has to be the best thing ever written this month at least on climate change.

    I have one question for you.

    Is what we DO know about the behaviour of water water cycle enough, it crudely modelled, to account for all global warming of the late 20h century without the actual need for it to be driven by anything other than the climate mechanism itself?

    That is, can we establish some sort of boundary of ‘purely natural variation’ and show that late 20th century warming is within, or outside it?

    If within we simply don’t need any other ‘explanation’.

    Climate is doing it all by itself….

    I dont think such a model needs to actually look at geographical detail: what we need are the major time delays inherent in the heating and cooling of land masses oceans and ice masses. Because it isn’t actually a climate model: it would be a generalised dynamic model incorporating various feedback elements in it with various delays, and the purpose would be to establish what sorts of delays and feedback factors and indeed non linearities would be needed to create a variable climate that broadly matched the historical one.

    That is, instead of starting with the premise that climate change is CO2 driven we started with the premise that it’s self-driven.

    And showed that that indeed could account for observed variation better than CO2 driven models..

  4. Stephen Richards says:

    I do like your rational posts, Robert, they always make an interesting, cogent and logical read.
    Thanks

  5. SMC says:

    “I’d rather play Mumbledy-peg for money.”

    I’m assuming you are talking about the ‘Chicken’ variant. (I had to look this up on Wikipedia… What a great game, I think I’ll teach it to my kids.)

  6. milodonharlani says:

    Even some CACA advocates admit that the climate system would adjust to higher CO2 within a millennium or less, as whatever amount of the magic gas humans have added gets taken up by the various sinks of which science understands so little.

  7. Leo Smith says:

    Doug: computer models might in time be reliable forecasters if we knew what to program them with. The problem is to break down the climate into something broader than microscopic level Navier Stokes partial differentials without throwing the baby out.

    WE simply do not yet know what is amenable to ‘parameterisation’ and what is not.

    Currently the biggest and most popular elephant in the room is clouds.
    No one knows yet how to even approximate clouds.

  8. Doug says:

    A very sensible and enlightening article.

  9. I’m wondering what is so maverickish about negative feedback of water, when it has been demonstrated that temperature series tend to behave anti-persistent, which is consitent with overal negative feedback

    http://www.aai.ee/~olavi/EE2007-ok.pdf

  10. Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 says:

    Robert:

    I’m always happy when you have time to contribute here. Do you by chance have your own blog somewhere?

  11. Eddi Rebel says:

    “In arid deserts, temperatures skyrocket during the day and plummet at night because of the absence of a water vapor driven GHE ”
    Why is it hotter during the day without GHE? I thought GHE always warms?

  12. It is very clear that climate is simply not computable by GCMs. For the reasons why see

    For a reasonable and transparent estimate of the possible coming cooling based on the 60 and 1000 year quasi- periodicities in the temperature record and using the neutron count and 10 Be record as the best proxy for solar activity see several posts over the last couple of years at

    http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com

  13. Somebody says:

    On long term, no, it’s not computable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xig3knCjmaE Not even if it’s a way much simpler system.

  14. Rud Istvan says:

    Thanks for pulling this to the forefront. Wrote a much longer and more detailed explanation (basically saying the same thing, plus showing how AR4 used selection bias to hide the inconvenient facts about humidity and clouds RGB points out) in my Arts of Truth book chapter on climate. The humidity+cloud feedback is in essence Willis Eschenbachs thermoregulation hypothesis, itself a generalization of Lindzen’s original adaptive iris hypothesis IMO.
    And no supercomputer in the foreseeable future will be able to model at grid scales small enough to resolve the essential convection cells at the core of the mechanism. That makes climate fundamentally noncomputable using finite element methods, independent of the nonlinear dependencies that make it formally, mathematically chaotic.
    Great post. Should be cleaned up (decontextualized) and then spread far and wide.

  15. mellyrn says:

    Nice question, Leo Smith, but, again, not really answerable, I think.

    For >75% of its existence, Earth has been -substantially- warmer than it is now — warmer as in, too warm for polar ice caps. Only for less than 1 billion of the last 4 billion years (and not all in one go, mind you) has Earth been as -cold- as it is now, at least according to the rocks.

    Your question rather suggests that the current cold is normal, and asks if it is “within purely natural” variation, as if the “late 20thc warming” -might- have an unnatural — anthropogenic — component.

    MY question is, what caused Earth to become abnormally cold, as it is now? And when will it -return- -to- -normal-? Because an Earth warm enough for forests in Antarctica IS “normal” — geologically speaking. If we were to shut down all our industry, the polar ice sheets would melt away anyway. Eventually. And quite naturally.

  16. Eustace Cranch says:

    Thank you Dr. Brown. This is fascinating and extremely informative. Some of the best climate info I’ve read all year

    This piece in particular strikes me as spot on, and hugely important:

    A chaotic nonlinear system can be quasiperiodic and apparently causal for a while and then for no computable reason change to an entirely different mode of behavior where a significant quasiparticle/process becomes insignificant and some other process becomes the critical driver.

  17. AlecM says:

    The reason why arid deserts heat up rapidly during the day is because there is little water to evaporate. This means the rate of heat loss from evapo-transpiration, the major heat transfer process from the surface over most of the World, is low.

    The surface temperature rises until the next most important heat transfer process, IR energy via the ‘Atmospheric Window’, a T^4 process, acts to limit surface temperature, up to c.50 deg C.

    The GHE is from clouds; there are no clouds in deserts. The proof that heat transfer from deserts is mainly radiative in the AW is the fast cooling at night. The Bedouin make ice by digging pits in the desert, minimising convective heat transport to the surface. The moral of this story is that there is no GHE from ‘back radiation’.

  18. Ben says:

    Even with the poor grasp of internal chaotic variability, these models omit both the geological and cosmic chaos that are important factors in long term climate change perspective.

  19. Tim Walker says:

    A very worthwhile read. Thank you.

  20. Joel O'Bryan says:

    Thanks. Enjoyed the reading. So a single butterfly flapping its wings in South America is still the best explanation for the quite modest Northern Hemisphere warming these last 30 years.

    I see global cooling (e.g. Dr Brown’s, “several tenths of a degree, sustained, not just vary up or down or weakly downward trend”) needing at least one full IPCC AR cycle, ~5 years sustained lower global temps, to bring about the AGW catastrophe (i.e. the demise of the AGW meme).

  21. milodonharlani says:

    mellyrn says:
    May 21, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Polar ice sheets aren’t going to melt right away, even if we cranked up the CO2 generators to higher levels & for much longer than humans have been burning fossil fuels.

    Shaviv et al find cosmic explanations for the apparent roughly 150 million year cycle out of Hothouse & into Icehouse climatic conditions. Whatever might be the reality of their case, earth has been in an icehouse since the Oligocene, when Antarctica became separated from Australia & South America by deep oceanic currents (the uplift of the Himalayas beginning in the Eocene has also been cited by some workers as a contributory factor, but mainly by the CACA mafia). The cold worsened in the past three million years with the interruption of ocean currents caused by the formation of the Isthmus of Panama.

    Cycles on the orders of 10,000 & 100,000 years of ice growth during glacials & interglacial retreat (as now) appear to be largely under orbital mechanical control.

  22. Gary Pearse says:

    Thank you Dr RG Brown. It is very refreshing every once in awhile to get the big picture in compelling prose. So much of climate science seems to be frustratingly a hodge podge of analyses of little things. The recent paper on melting West Antarctica glaciers adding 450 microns a year to sea level; the terrible fate of the gorse on almost barren Campbell Island (300 miles south of NZ), because of irregular warm and cold winters (I’m not sure what winter has been warm down there for some time – Antarctica has been cooling throughout the satellite era); a river mouth sandbar community in Alaska had to be moved because the bar (a highly insubstantial land form)was being eroded…. storm tracks are moving a few tens of metres poleward over the past decade…Ohio braces for CAGW algal growth in (shallow) Lake Erie… I guess these minutiae are a measure of what scale they generally feel comfortable dealing with.

    My view of all this is that if the globe is heading for incineration, there should be mega-effects telegraphing this. Tiny corrections of fractions of a mm on a sea level they expect to rise a number of metres. A correction of 0.O1 here and an 0.02C there when we are to be anticipating 3 to 6C increases is actually a measure of the uncertainty that resides in their hearts. Of course it is also a way to keep up the narrative.

    I feel that Dr. Brown is more than generous in his evenhanded assessment of the cooling or warming future that might ensue. I basically agree with this but not because I would feel obliged to accept the science of the CAGW proponents. Enso might heat it up, AMO might pause and then go up unexpectedly….. Possibly we could use up gas reserves by blasting flaming gas jets at the tropical sea surface….whatever, but the present global warming math has to be largely scrapped and redone. It shouldn’t be seen as rescued by ENSO. BTW, watch for ENSO to become the stored form of CO2 caused warming.

    The IPCC itself was given scientific and policy guidelines at the outset by UNFCCC which was set up by the Maurice Strong, a rabid anti civilization, new world order zealot. No one has been searching for non-anthropogenic warming among the orthodoxy. When a malthusian policy wonk with no scientific credentials invents the science of CAGW as a tool for subjugation, we are being generously evenhanded indeed.

  23. john robertson says:

    Thank you, another great comment.
    Please keep them coming, every time I read a Robert Brown posting I feel like I learnt something.

  24. CRS, DrPH says:

    Thank you, Dr. Brown! I feel as if I just sat through a very high-level physics lecture, and definitely learned quite a bit.

    I’m not sure if the question is “Is climate computable?” as much as “Are the factors that may have an impact on climate computable?” The albedo of a large, fluffy white cloud can probably be computed rather precisely. However, the physics and chemistry of cloud formation are proving to be so incredibly complex that I doubt we will ever figure these out with great reliability in our lifetimes.

    Factors that figure into cloud formation include cosmic rays (Svensmark), atmospheric concentrations of ammonia and sulfate, particulates, certain species of bacteria and even meteoroid dust (noctilucent clouds at least). I don’t think it is possible with present computing power, we haven’t even figured out the correct questions to ask.

  25. albertalad says:

    What is climate if not weather over time? And in any future yet not lived it is weather to those living in that future. Can we predict weather today? Not in my neck of the woods to any degree of certainty. And if we cannot predict the most fundamental of weather on a daily basis how can anyone predict climate? We cannot predict that now despite all the tools man uses.

  26. paullinsay says:

    The entire premise that the heating by CO2 was boosted due to positive feedback from water vapor has always been absurd in my mind. If that’s true for CO2 why isn’t it true for water vapor itself, in which case, the feedback should be saturated by the water vapor due to its infinite abundance? There would have to be something magic about the 15 um CO2 lines that isn’t true of any other IR radiation, even the overlapping water vapor lines at 15 um and up.

  27. AlecM says:

    @mellyrn: the Earth is cool at present because we have polar ice caps and thermohaline circulation. This takes Fe to the Equatorial regions thereby allowing phytoplankton to grow. These produce many cloud condensation nuclei and the clouds increase albedo, thereby reducing average surface temperature.

    Ice ages are a cold phase caused by the reduction of CCN, increasing cloud albedo. However, because SSTs are low enough and there is still (slow) thermoohaline circulation,, there are still residual phytoplankton and some CCN. In times like the Devonian, there was no thermohaline circulation, equatorial seas were barren so despite high humidity, there were few, if any CCN or clouds.

    What this means is that the Earth is tristable; ice ages and interglacials with thermohaline redistribution of Fe, and hot times with no polar ice so no thermohaline circuit.

  28. David McKeever says:

    This piece is a model of clarity and conciseness. Many thanks.

  29. Q. Daniels says:

    “Is climate computable?” Maybe, but not with current techniques.

    It appears to me that the GCMs are going about it a very hard way. As I understand it, they’re trying to compute weather in sufficient detail and over a long enough period to extract climate.

    That seems like a lot of work. It’s also fraught with hazard. For example, Navier-Stokes is known to “blow up”. To me, that speaks of a deeper problem – non-linearity. Once you’re into that domain (and weather is), you can’t accurately predict specific events very far out.

    Once you try you try to calculate weather, it’s only a matter of time before your model goes off the rails.

    It might be possible to get there with some kind of quasiparticle ensemble that only calculates their probability of existence and movement, without ever calculating any actual weather. It could contain output like “cell xxxxx has a 49% chance of cloud formation between 2pm and 4pm”, without ever actually evaluating whether or not a cloud forms.

  30. mkelly says:

    Dr. Brown says: “If we have a super El Nino that heats the planet by 0.3C very rapidly,…”

    This would prove it is the sun and nothing to do with CO2.

  31. David Riser says:

    Very Nice Post!
    v/r,
    David Riser

  32. Rud Istvan says:

    Leftturnandre, because if the watervapour feedback were negative instead of weakly positive, we would not observe the climate we do. But a weak positive gives a very different TCR and ECS, more in line with Lewis and Crok (1.1 ‘grey body’ Stefan Boltzmann, 1.3 TCR, 1.7 ( thereabouts) ECS) compared to the canonical and never changed since Charney swag ECS 3.0. The difference is between “so what’s the fuss? and CAGW!!!

  33. HAS says:

    I have some familiarity with the use of multi-scale modelling to help model complex systems at the quantum, molecular, and nano and meso scales. I have wondered whether these techniques have been applied to modelling the thunderstorm to regional climate problem.

  34. Dave Yaussy says:

    I hope Dr. Brown keeps commenting. His thoughts are unusually cogent and understandable. on basic issues that I need help with. Even when he talks about matters I can’t understand, I can at least see the outlines of what I don’t know.

  35. Personally, I won’t even place a bet. I don’t think the climate is computable, which means that I think one is basically betting on the output of a (possibly biased) random number generator.

    The Catastropharians have placed their bets on the computer models, this much is certain.

    When you have been embezzling the company accounts,
    then a decision to play the lottery is rational.
    If you win, you keep your freedom and your good name.
    If you lose…. you haven’t lost much because you were going to jail anyway.

  36. Michael 2 says:

    Eddi Rebel says: (May 21, 2014 at 11:33 am)
    “Why is it hotter during the day without GHE? I thought GHE always warms?”

    GHE *insulates* — whether it *warms* depends on the existence of a heat source and where it is.

    In a REALLY hot desert, if you are going to be in the heat for only a short time, wear a parka! Doubtless you’ve seen heavily dressed Beduin. It slows down heat GAIN. So it is with atmosphere. Sunlight is broad-spectrum and includes visible and infrared portions in a ramp kind of energy vs wavelength graph.

    In the desert, the lack of water vapor, the leading GHG, allows nearly the entire spectrum to reach the surface — whereas nearby in areas with more humidity, a substantial portion (about 40 percent I think) of the sunlight never reaches the surface — and that’s just GHG, not to mention clouds. CO2 exists in the desert and BLOCKS incoming solar radiation in a few segments of the spectrum.

    Greenhouse gases can, therefore, have a “net cooling” (which actually means “less warming”) as compared to their absence in certain situations. Removing all GHG (and the atmosphere) would allow desert surface temperatures to become the same as the moon.

    “The temperature on the Moon varies from -387 Fahrenheit (-233 Celsius), at night, to 253 Fahrenheit (123 Celsius) during the day. ” http://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.edu/ask/168-What-is-the-temperature-on-the-Moon-

  37. mellyrn says:

    @ milodonharlani, AlecM —

    Thank you kindly, but it was sort of rhetorical, to point out that, well, current climate ain’t normal; “much hotter” is normal, and will return regardless of human activity.

    “Cosmic” explanations — there may well be a perceptible cycle, but why? What’s changing? Does the sun pass through regions of space that kick it into higher gear, or cause it to slow down?

    The presence or absence of the thermohaline circulation and CCNs — chicken or egg? Does a warmer world slow down the THC?

    There is so much we don’t know. rgbatduke’s analysis of the, well, chaos is most excellent.

  38. hunter says:

    Thank you very much, Dr. That was a very accessible summary of water’s various roles in the climate. It would be highly informative to know your views on the so-called CO2 climate control knob concept taht was promoted a few years ago.

  39. Theo Goodwin says:

    “That’s why I hesitated to assign a sign to the net feedback from any sort of local modulation of e.g. ocean-air humidity or sea ice coverage. The processes are COMPLEX and can have either sign, and they are NON-LOCAL as adding humidity in one place can increase albedo someplace else thousands of miles away is it finally concentrates enough to form clouds. A large part of the rain that falls over North Carolina comes up from the Gulf of Mexico maybe 1000 miles away. Some of it comes all the way over from the Pacific, where some of that might have originated in e.g. the growing El Nino. Heat from the tropical Pacific can be transported all the way to NC before it finally releases its heat and falls as rain, before it finally creates clouds that cause NC to cool after helping to greenhouse warm much of the surface area it crossed in between.

    This is the kind of thing that the models are supposedly trying to model, but they perforce replace all of the small-length scale detail of this description with presumptive averages over cells 100-300 km square (where weather phenomena such as thunderstorms are order of 1 to 10 km square, where the details of front structure and development are much finer than this).”

    What a brilliant essay. I tried to find a shorter quotation but you think in highly structured paragraphs. Your description of the very large challenges that face scientists who attempt to measure albedo or other effects of water vapor are quite persuasive. Your criticism of efforts to model such phenomena are devastating.

    I take it that modelers are committed to a party line on these matters and that is the reason that we never see discussion of the challenges that you have described here. I take it that the same is true for scientists who are not modelers but who are attempting to measure the phenomena and to formulate scientific hypotheses about the behavior of water vapor as it affects warming.

    I do not know that I have seen an article which addresses, even in part, the challenges that you have described. Yet I have known that those challenges were there. So, I have doubted both the modelers and the physical scientists for not being honest about the work that must be done before there is reasonable confidence in something like “climate sensitivity.”

    Thank you for making clear what modelers and scientists must do if they want to get real and be taken seriously.

  40. milodonharlani says:

    mellyrn says:
    May 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    “Cosmic” explanations — there may well be a perceptible cycle, but why? What’s changing? Does the sun pass through regions of space that kick it into higher gear, or cause it to slow down?
    ———————–
    Cosmoclimatology has progressed a lot from Shaviv’s early work, but here’s a reference:

    http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0209252

    Cosmic ray flux over time is suggested as an explanation for observed glaciations.

  41. ossqss says:

    Quite enlightening as to how the climate system can juggle energy.

    Thanks Dr. Brown and Anthony for sharing.

    I read an interesting release yesterday, that I cannot locate, on how ice loss can contribute to techtonic and volcanic activity. Anyone else see that?

    Regards Ed

  42. AlecM says:

    @Michael 2: you re right about the extra SW in the dry desert. It’ll be a maximum of 49%. I expect about 30% more SW.

  43. milodonharlani says:

    ossqss says:
    May 21, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    The hypothesis that reduced ice load can lead to increased volcanism has often been discussed on this blog.

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2011AGUFM.U53E..03A

  44. Nick Stokes says:

    “The trouble is that water vapor is literally a two-edged sword.”
    Literally?

    “This last assumption is finally dying a quiet and well deserved death. AFAIK, it is due to Hansen”
    Water vapour feedback was built into the original calculations of Arrhenius. But it isn’t something that is explicitly included in GCMs. The ocean boundary conditions include Clausius/Clapeyron relations; evaporation necessarily increases with warmth.

    ” Naturally, some of the GCMs out there have built into them parametric assumptions that preserve this much “climate sensitivity” — total ACO_2 warming plus feedback, usually at the expense of an overdriven response to e.g. volcanic aerosols necessary to explain periods of global cooling and to keep the model from having a runaway exponential instability”
    I’d like to see more details of that. I’m not aware of it, and it’s not obvious how it could be done.

    “the climate cannot be a biased random walk where every time the temperature goes up a bit, average water vapor increases and hence resets the Earth’s average temperature a bit higher”
    Why not? That is the basic mechanism of wv feedback. You get, say, 1° warming which makes enough wv to create 1/2° warming, which then makes 1/4° warming – nett effect 2° warming. It decreases stability, but to get runaway you need wv from 1° warming to cause 1° extra warming. Then it runs.

  45. Matthew R Marler says:

    good post, but: The trouble is that water vapor is literally a two-edged sword.

    Water vapor is not “literally” a sword.

  46. milodonharlani says:

    Nick Stokes says:
    May 21, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Arrhenius also tried to include nebulosity in his calculations, but the worse than worthless GIGO GCMs upon which tens of billions in treasure have been squandered ignore clouds. Just one of the many sources of the models’ worse than worthlessness is ignoring water vapor effects other than the radiative, such as evaporative cooling, convection currents & reflection off & shading by clouds.

    Runaway global warming is a preposterous fantasy. Earth’s climate system is homeostatic. Our atmosphere doesn’t resemble that of Venus, despite Hansen’s warrantless hysteria, which has cost the lives of tens of thousands (at least) & trillions in wasted “alternative” energy developments foisted upon humanity by the academic-industrial complex.

  47. hunter says:

    Nick, perhaps you can clarify your calcualtion of 1+ 0.5 + 0.25 = 2.0?

  48. Tom Billings says:

    mellryn asked:

    “MY question is, what caused Earth to become abnormally cold, as it is now?”

    Apparently, it is several changes since the time our PacNW Douglas Fir grew on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. That Ocean was open water during the early Eocene. The air currents across Eurasia were uninterrupted by mountains, and warmth moved easily. CO2 was high.

    Then, about 50 million years ago, CO2 was sequestered to the bottom of the sea by an Eocene Arctic Ocean equivalent to Sargasso Weed, or other salt water Kudzu. It sucked up the CO2, and fell to the bottom as it died, trapping the carbon there. As well, the Himalayas began to rise, as India was colliding with the Eurasian Landmass. These mountains have been interrupting the flow of warm air into the North of Eurasia. This combination change to Eurasian climate influenced the the whole planet so that by 34 million years ago we had an icehouse climate. Its latest manifestation is in the 2 million years of the current Ice Age, while we live in the interglacial period known as the Holocene.

  49. Nick Stokes says:

    Hunter
    OK, geometric progression
    1+0.5+0.25+0.125+… = 1/(1-0.5) = 2

  50. DrTorch says:

    Excellent piece here.

  51. Joel O'Bryan says:

    Hunter,
    I took it to mean he was rounding up, both to be conservative and to make mental calcs easier.

  52. joeldshore says:

    milodonharlani:

    Just one of the many sources of the models’ worse than worthlessness is ignoring water vapor effects other than the radiative, such as evaporative cooling, convection currents & reflection off & shading by clouds.

    You packed a lot of utter falsehoods into one sentence! The models don’t ignore water vapor effects other than radiative, they don’t ignore evaporative cooling, convection currents, and reflection off & shading by clouds. Essentially, nothing in this sentence is correct. It is a work of complete fiction.

    Runaway global warming is a preposterous fantasy. Earth’s climate system is homeostatic. Our atmosphere doesn’t resemble that of Venus, despite Hansen’s warrantless hysteria, which has cost the lives of tens of thousands (at least) & trillions in wasted “alternative” energy developments foisted upon humanity by the academic-industrial complex.

    The concern about global warming has nothing to do with the runaway greenhouse effect. If we believed a runaway was at all likely, we would have to take much more draconian measures than the tiny baby-steps to very gradually wean ourselves off of the fossil fuels that those stuck in a 19th century mindset seem to love so much.

  53. cwon14 says:

    Pre Che/Earthday science this was the “consensus” and it didn’t require frat party hazing or Mao reeducation camps to enforce. Not computable means models are worthless since the inputs are random variables.

    Think of the jobs, profits and political power that would not have consolidated in the hands of the AGW advocacy elite? Think of the benefits if the billions and billions (trillions when we consider excess energy cost pushs) had remained in the hands of private citizens or had been spent on rational collective research instead? A 40 year ongoing crime in progress and still counting.

  54. Dave N says:

    @Alan Watt

    Dr Brown has a page, here:

    http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/

  55. joeldshore says:

    AlecM says:

    This scam deceived all but real heat transfer experts, of whom there are few.

    I have yet to see a real heat transfer expert (including a lot of skeptics like Robert Brown) who believes there is any merit whatsoever to your arguments.

  56. F. Ross says:

    Dr. Brown… a question.

    “…
    The future water droplets have to be able to nucleate — which is a lot more likely to occur when there are ionic aerosols in the atmosphere as water (a polar molecule) is attracted to bare charge of either sign.
    …”

    Having previously read of the need for aerosols for nucleation to facillitate rainfall, I have often wondered what the source of nucleation would be in the case, say, of rain lasting for several weeks. After the first day or so of rain one might expect that the local atmosphere would be mostly clear of aerosols; what would then be the possible sources of nucleation for the continuing rainfall?

  57. milodonharlani says:

    Tom Billings says:
    May 21, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    The Arctic was open ocean not only in the Eocene, but as recently as the Pliocene, when maybe not Doug fir but a typical boreal spruce-larch-fir-hemlock forest skirted it.

    I assume you refer to the Arctic Ocean Azolla Event, c. 49 million years ago, which allegedly led to a reduction in CO2. This however didn’t cause the deterioration in climate after the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. CO2 is an effect of Phanerozoic climate change, not an important cause. Atmospheric CO2 fell during the Eocene because of a cooling climate. The reduction didn’t cause the temperature drop.

    Then, as noted above, Cenozoic glaciation began when Antarctica was isolated by deep oceanic channels from the nearest other continents at the Eocene/Oligocene boundary. More extensive glaciation occurred in the Pleistocene. You are right that the so-called Holocene is just another of many interglacial warmer phases in our presently Icehouse climate.

  58. Justthinkin says:

    Is the climate computable?

    NO.

    Next dumb question.

  59. Thank you Dr Brown for a very interesting summary of the problem of clouds.

  60. AlecM says:

    @Michael 2: re GHGs and heating/cooling the Earth.

    IPCC ‘science’ wrongly considers IR Irradiance, its ‘Forcing’ is a real heat flux. It isn’t, being the potential energy flux of that emitter to a sink at absolute zero. It interacts with surface irradiance as the vector sum of all upwards and downward Poynting vectors, the monochromatic travelling waves which give ‘radiation pressure’.

    Since for all self-absorbed GHG bands, their amplitude is black body level, they mutually annihilate the same wavelengths of black body surface IR. 1.0 surface emissivity and, accounting for the ‘atmospheric window’, 0.6 atmospheric emissivity means net surface emissivity would be about 0.4 if there were no parallel convection and evapo-transpiration.

    The theoretical maximum net IR would then be 158.4 W/m^2 for 16 deg C, close to the 160 W/mm^2 solar SW thermalisation. however, because activated surface sites can transfer energy to adsorbed gas molecules, liquid water molecules or leave as IR, the surface temperature equilibrates so conduction, evapotranspiration and net IR add up to SW IN. The real 63 W/m^2 net IR is 40% of 160 W/m^2 so ‘operational surface emissivity’ is c 0.16.

    This level is set by the GHE, determined essentially by clouds. It’s c. 11 K, from the no-GHG average surface temperature for 341 W/m^2, 4 to 5 deg C. So, it’s not GHGs setting surface temperature directly, the action is by clouds, liquid water at the surface and convection kinetics.

    A planet with no atmosphere has a much wider temperature range mainly because it has no clouds!

  61. TJA says:

    Read Naomi Oreskes’, yes the very same, paper on why climate models are not useful beyond their use as tools to explore hypotheses and can never be truly validated.

    http://www.likbez.com/AV/CS/Pre01-oreskes.pdf

  62. AlecM says:

    @joeldshore:‘ I have yet to see a real heat transfer expert (including a lot of skeptics like Robert Brown) who believes there is any merit whatsoever to your arguments’

    My arguments are standard physics. No-one has ever been able to dispute them except by claiming a pyrgeometer measures a real IR energy flux when it is really the Irradiance, a potential energy flux. What’s more important, I can show my arguments to be true by using MODTRAN which most if not all Climate Alchemists accept as having been proven by comparison with real observations.

    It calculates Irradiance at any plane in the atmosphere for UP and DOWN directions. Subtract Irradiance, atmosphere to surface, from Irradiance, surface to atmosphere and you get the real net IR flux surface to atmosphere. For humid, temperate zones, it’s about the same as the measured average 63 W/m^2, 2 parts atmospheric window, one part non self-absorbed H2O bands.

    So, do you still think 333W/m^2 ‘back radiation’ adds to the 63 W/m^2 net IR to give 396 W/m^2 real IR flux from the surface, which when you add 97 W/m^2 convection/evapo-transpiration makes 493 W/m^2,. 3x reality?

    Or will you accept that the real IR energy flux is 63 W/m^2 and the 97 W/m^2 convection/latent heat makes up the 160W/m^2 SW thermalisation to conserve energy? I’m an engineer and the Climate models, a perpetual motion machine, are very wrong indeed which is why they fail.

  63. Tester says:

    I would have thought polar regions don’t have day and night rather they have day or night

  64. rogerknights says:

    rgb wrote:
    Personally, I won’t even place a bet. I don’t think the climate is computable, which means that I think one is basically betting on the output of a (possibly biased) random number generator. I’d rather play Mumbledy-peg for money.

    Even so, one can (or could, when Intrade was active) make money by betting on Intrade’s futures-market setup, where the odds self-adjusted to the level of enthusiasm of the bettors. Warmists would typically be too sure they were right about future warmth and drive the odds too far beyond randomness. So one could win by taking the opposite side.

  65. milodonharlani says:

    joeldshore says:
    May 21, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    You are apparently unfamiliar with the programming & design GCMs. Please educate yourself before accusing anyone of falsehoods. Or at least show a model that takes those non-radiative effects of water vapor into account. You won’t because you can’t.

    The proof is in the pudding. The GIGO GCMs have failed utterly even to forecast global T years ahead, let alone the century for which their trough-feeding proponents falsely claim skill. The models also produce patterns not observed at all. They are indeed worse than worthless tautologies, which commit the logical fallacy of begging the question, ie assuming what they set out to demonstrate.

    Nick mentioned runaway, so I replied. Instead of his hypothetical one degree water vapor feedback for each degree of warming from CO2, the actual figure has been shown by observation to be much less & in some environments negative. Arrhenius himself wrestled with this problem, which the CACA advocates who now take his name in vain have ignored.

    No steps, baby or otherwise, are justified on the basis of the worse than worthless GCMs upon which so much wealth has been wasted, at such cost to economic development & in fact loss of life.

  66. Joe Born says:

    Dr. Brown: “the climate cannot be a biased random walk where every time the temperature goes up a bit, average water vapor increases and hence resets the Earth’s average temperature a bit higher unless a competing process can completely erase the gain when the temperature fluctuates down a bit”

    Although I do appreciate Dr. Brown’s efforts, the results are occasionally too impressionistic for me, the preceding excerpt being an example. Although I, too, find positive water-vapor feedback implausible, I don’t quite understand the ratcheting he seems to imply here.

    Suppose we start with an open-loop “one-box” system defined by the equation dy/dt = ax – by, where x is the stimulus, y is the response, and a and b are positive constants. If we then add positive feedback f so that the input x’ after feedback equals = x + fy, then the system remains stable so long as af < b. In fact, it has the same form of system equation, dy/dt = ax – b'y, where b' = b – af. That is, positive feedback extends the time constant (1 / b) but doesn't necessarily result in instability.

    Presumably Dr. Brown had a different type of system in mind, but the above-quoted excerpt doesn't make clear just what that might have been.

  67. milodonharlani says:

    Tester says:
    May 21, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    In between the long permanent day night, the polar regions have both day & night of varying lengths, as do temperate zones (& to a lesser extent tropical), just more extreme in variation.

  68. Dr Burns says:

    I’d be interested to read more about how on Earth aerosols can be juggled to prevent the runaway instability of the IPCC’s ridiculous positive water vapour feedbacks.

  69. milodonharlani says:

    Joel:

    PS: Reading this might help jump start your educational process. IPeCaC itself on the problems with modeling clouds:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/507.htm

    “Handling the physics and/or the parametrization of clouds in climate models remains a central difficulty. There is a need for increased observations. J. Mitchell highlighted the challenge in a recent paper at the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Workshop on Cloud Properties and Cloud Feedbacks in Large-scale Models where he stated that �Reducing the uncertainty in cloud-climate feedbacks is one of the toughest challenges facing atmospheric physicists� (Mitchell, 2000).”

    The situation hasn’t improved because the modelers don’t want to have to try to include clouds, which would gut the lies they tell their political paymasters. Instead more money gets spent on yet more GIGO models instead of being wisely spent trying to improve the data, which in its science sections but not its summary for politicians it calls for.

  70. EForster says:

    Dr.Norman Page
    Your video :
    “Believing Six Impossible Things before Breakfast, and Climate Models.
    by Christopher Essex, Ph.D.”

    should definitely be more widely known and seen as it is a simply brilliant deconstruction of all climate models. After seeing this presentation, it seems that the climate science community and those scientists that acquiesce or concur have a lot to answer for.

  71. Jimmy Haigh. says:

    Another superb contribution from Dr. Brown. I totally agree – I’ve said all along that we shouldn’t even be wasting time – let alone money – on trying to model something chaotic like the climate.

  72. davidmhoffer says:

    AlecM says:
    May 21, 2014 at 2:55 pm
    @joeldshore:‘ I have yet to see a real heat transfer expert (including a lot of skeptics like Robert Brown) who believes there is any merit whatsoever to your arguments’

    My arguments are standard physics.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    They are no such thing, they are pure bullsh*t, and when two PhD physicists from rather divergent points of view on the larger issues both say the opposite to the drivel you spout, the audience ought pay attention. Your yammering is distracting from the real physics being discussed, it is confusing to new comers to the discussion, and the pathetic whining about pyrgeometers is a regurgitation of the misinformation on the topic spouted by Doug Cotton and the Slayers. They’ve been banned from this forum, and you should be too.

  73. RGB is my favorite commenter here. Thank you, Dr. Brown.

  74. davidmhoffer says:

    Dr Robert G Brown;

    As others have already said, please keep commenting. I learn something from you ever time and your ability to take some of the most complex physics there is and explain it in a such concise manner is appreciated and intimidating all at the same time ;-)

  75. milodonharlani says:

    EForster says:
    May 21, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Appropriate that Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), author of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, was an Oxford mathematician, Lecturer at Christ Church. He wrote almost a dozen books based upon his work in geometry, linear & matrix algebra, mathematical logic & recreational math(s). Dodgson developed new ideas in linear algebra (eg. first printed proof of the Kronecker-Capelli theorem), probability & studying elections (eg. “Dodgson’s method”) & committees.

  76. Michael 2 says:

    Nick Stokes says: (May 21, 2014 at 1:21 pm) Response: “Why not? That is the basic mechanism of wv feedback. You get, say, 1° warming which makes enough wv to create 1/2° warming, which then makes 1/4° warming – nett effect 2° warming. It decreases stability, but to get runaway you need wv from 1° warming to cause 1° extra warming. Then it runs.”

    In radio, the equivalent to water vapor gain is a “super regenerative” receiver where the output is fed back to the input to be amplified AGAIN. “Just a little” positive feedback is sent back. It is inherently unstable.

    But this feedback can be controlled by AGC, Automatic Gain Control, whose operation is considerably slower but larger in amplitude.

    The climate equivalent is that even though your water vapor can be treated as a positive feedback, there’s a *larger* control loop, slower in operation, that acts as a gain control on the whole system, and that climate “AGC” is clouds.

    Since any control system whose operation is slower than the system being controlled is inherently unstable and will usually oscillate, we have the foundation or skeleton of understanding many climate systems each with oscillating control systems.

  77. LewSkannen says:

    Mumbledy-peg? Try Mornington Crescent!

  78. Jimbo says:

    Is the climate computable?

    Yes it is. The IPCC has accepted a carefully ‘selected’ set of computable simulations in its first, second, third, fourth and fifth assessment reports. It made a number of projections and almost all of them failed. You really can rely on the IPCC, it’s the Gold Standard TM of Climastrology. :-O

    Three years of observations show that the Antarctic ice sheet is now losing 159 billion tonnes of ice each year — twice as much as when it was last surveyed.

    Three years is now the climate. I was once told that 30 years is the IPCC’s generally accepted period for climate. Is this FLEXI-CLIMATE TM?? Is it FLEXI-WEATHER? Is it in fact a pile of bullshit?

  79. Michael 2 says:

    Joe Born says: “Presumably Dr. Brown had a different type of system in mind, but the above-quoted excerpt doesn’t make clear just what that might have been.”

    Agreed. I have noticed the words “positive feedback” being used in two quite-different ways. One is result-oriented, if a system runs away then it has positive feedback and if it is self-damping then it has negative feedback.

    The other viewpoint is, as you have described, a certain amount of positive feedback simply extends the effect of the input, amplifying it recursively.

    These two viewpoints overlap and I believe Dr. Brown is speaking of the thermal runaway kind of instability that clearly does not exist BUT is argued to be possible by many people.

    It seems true that some sort of bistable switch does exist and responsible for the 100k-year ice ages and the 11k-year interglacial warm periods.

  80. Jimbo says:

    Three years of observations show that the Antarctic ice sheet is now losing 159 billion tonnes of ice each year — twice as much as when it was last surveyed.

    Here is Antarctica ‘gaining sea ice for more than 3 years. What might have one concluded then?

    Abstract – 2005
    Icebergs near New Zealand and related phenomena
    Icebergs were seen in the Southern Ocean between Campbell and Antipodes Islands in late December 2004. This note lists other times when icebergs were sighted near New Zealand, in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the South Island cold weather patterns, exceptional snowfalls, massive snow avalanching and glacier expansion episodes were broadly coincidental with the times of iceberg appearance relatively close to our shores.

    During the 19th century there were occasions when bergs were much more abundant and travelled much further north than at any time since……

    In the summer of 1892 a major influx of icebergs, the northernmost at 42° 20´S was observed around the Chatham Islands. More bergs drifted around the Antipodes and Bounty Islands. At this time (1892-1893) there were many berg sightings about or north of the 60th parallel between 170° and 140° W. Again, in the summers of 1894, 1897 and 1898 there were many icebergs around Bounty and the Antipodes Islands……
    source

    ==================

    Antarctic icebergs near New Zealand
    …The icebergs reported by Russell (1895) from sightings between 1888 and 1895; from N.Z. Marine Department records 1922 to 1948* in the area from Australia to South America, and the records of bergs occurring between 1892 and 1899 (Meteorological Office, London, 1907) are plotted in Figs 1 and 2. The Hinemoa records (Fig. 3) are of a field of bergs seen around the Antipodes Islands in 1897…..

    In September and October 1892 large numbers of very big icebergs were reported from vessels at points between 200 n.m. (nautical miles) east of New Zealand and 300 n.m. east of the Chatham Islands, between latitudes 42° S and 50° S. S.S. Coptic (between 180° and 174° W in 46° S) “met some enormous icebergs two hundred and fifty feet high“; S.S. Star of England reported “The morning after leaving Lyttelton, New Zealand, saw huge iceberg, a little later engines had to be stopped; completely surrounded by icebergs. Nothing but ice three hundred feet high could be seen from aloft………

    Shand (1893) describes the bergs of this group as seen from the Chatham Islands on 28 and 29 October 1892 and for “a week or more” after. More than eight bergs were seen, the largest “not less than 500 ft in height”,…..
    (source – pdf)

    3 years is a joke. An act of desperation in the face of a defiant Antarctica. Record cold in the East, extreme snowfalls in the East recently recorded and no credible evidence of an acceleration in the global rate of sea level rise. This is how you know there is something very, very fishy going on. They keep telling you that everything has gone to the dogs with the ice but…………………..no acceleration. NONE.

  81. milodonharlani says:

    Michael 2 says:
    May 21, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    The interglacials vary in length by a factor of three, four or more, ie from less than 10,000 years to over 30,000 (maybe longer). They appear to be controlled primarily by orbital mechanics. There was a switch in the mid-Pleistocene from a predominant 40,000-year periodicity to 100,000 years.

    There may be a third, super-glacial state, like the Last Glacial Maximum, which also lasts thousands of years.

  82. Ulric Lyons says:

    rbg said:
    “If it fizzles altogether — short-circuited, perhaps, by the downhill side of solar cycle 24 that maybe be beginning and which will proceed with poorly predictable speed and which may or may not have a competitive local effect on the climate and produces no gain at all and cycles immediately into a cooling La Nina that augments any solar cycle cooling to actually drop global average temperatures, that too will be very informative.”

    As far as I can see, that’s not how it works. Look at the multi-year La Nina’s episodes in 1973-75, 1983-85 and 1998-2001, compared to the El Nino episodes in 1997-98 and 2009-10 on this solar wind velocity series: http://snag.gy/ppB3v.jpg

  83. Thanks, Dr. Brown. An excellent article.

  84. Steve from Rockwood says:

    Nick Stokes says:
    May 21, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    [...]
    Water vapour feedback was built into the original calculations of Arrhenius.
    ——————————————–
    That was an interesting link. They [Arrhenius et al] thought the mean temperature of the moon was +45 degrees Celsius or did I miss something?

  85. EForster 3:22pm Said that the Essex lecture linked at 11:33am above which agrees with RGBs analysis was
    ” a simply brilliant deconstruction of all climate models. After seeing this presentation, it seems that the climate science community and those scientists that acquiesce or concur have a lot to answer for.”
    I agree entirely and hope that you and other readers will draw the obvious conclusion that other methods are required for climate forecasting.
    Again see the series of posts forecasting the timing and amplitude of the possible coming cooling at

    http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com

    Comments on those forecasts would be appreciated.

  86. 1sky1 says:

    For those interested in what happens with backradiation in situ, instead of in the heads of blog savants, see: http://m.iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/5/2/025203.

  87. Ulric Lyons says:

    Robert Brown said:
    “The trouble is that water vapor is literally a two-edged sword. As vapor, it is the strongest greenhouse gas in the atmosphere by (IIRC) around an order of magnitude, so increasing water vapor can and does measurably increase the GHE — a lot, when considering dry air versus saturated air.”

    Despite radiating what it has absorbed from the surface and from solar NIR, there is no net gain to the surface during the daytime (away from the high latitudes). It functions as a spatio-temporal heat redistribution system, towards the higher latitudes, and into the night cycle, by means of the ability to store heat. Can the night time and poleward transfer gains be larger than the daytime losses to the surface?
    And do cloud tops reflect solar NIR to the same degree as they do in the visible spectrum?

  88. Trick says:

    rgbatduke top post: “During the day and the night, however, the cloud also acts as a powerful greenhouse blanket, directly reflecting LWIR….”

    Of course to answer, yes, climate is computable, climate basic physics has to be understood & properly implemented. I wonder what would a proper IR thermometer compute when inserted in climate models pointed up from surface as they run?

    Clouds don’t reflect (much) terrestrial LWIR so “directly reflecting LWIR” is fairly common cloud explanation but incorrect. We humans being very nearly blind do observe bright clouds reflecting in the visible wavelength bands (~.7 micron) but in the thermal IR bands (~10microns) our eyes deceive us as clouds are nearly black absorbers/emitters in IR wavelengths we cannot see. The difference we feel on the surface nightly between clear and cloudy skies lies in computable physics of cloud emissivities. This difference lies mostly in the markedly different spectral emissivities of water vapor and of liquid water.

    *****

    AlecM 11:12am: “…LWIR coming down from the sky; ‘back radiation’. It doesn’t exist;

    Clouds absorb terrestrial LWIR, thus they also emit terrestrial LWIR so AlecM is incorrect; again being nearly blind AlecM eyes deceive. Point a not so blind proper IR thermometer measuring brightness temperature up from surface and find clear sky is always radiatively much colder than adjacent cloudy sky. This is because an infrared thermometer measures brightness temperatures, which are lower or at most equal to terrestrial thermodynamic temperatures (e.g. measured by proper calibrated mercury bulb thermometers). Again, this difference lies mostly in the markedly different spectral emissivities of water vapor (clear sky) and liquid water (cloudy sky).

    “..a real IR flux when in reality it’s the potential flux to a sink at absolute zero.”

    I’m not able to make basic climate computable sense of this statement. If it is basic physics can AlecM give a text book cite (page #) that explains what is meant in equation form preferably tied to basic Planck function?

    11:43am: ”.. there are no clouds in deserts.”

    Deserts are regions of descending air typically lee side of mountain ranges.

  89. Matthew R Marler says:

    Nick Stokes: The ocean boundary conditions include Clausius/Clapeyron relations; evaporation necessarily increases with warmth.

    A problem with the Clausius/Clapeyron relations is that they are derived assuming thermodynamic equilibrium (this is explained, for example, in “Principles of Planetary Climate” by Raymond T. Pierrehumbert), and are not very accurate for dynamic processes in real time. For example, as the “sun rises” over the non-dry areas of Earth each day, the sunshine causes vaporization as the surface warms, and the warm humid air rises in great thermals to high altitudes, where the water then condenses in easily viewed clouds, and then falls back as rain. All without ever achieving equilibrium or the Clausius/Clapeyron relations. The energy flow diagrams of Fasullo and Trenberth, and G. Stephens et al provide an estimate of the average rate, but nothing on Earth happens at the average rate; the energy transfer to the upper troposphere by the moist theermals warms the upper troposphere, and the energy is radiated upward from there at a rate appx proportional to to T^4, where T is higher than the daily mean temperature at least for a while until night fall and the subsequent cooling. Thus the models based on the Clausius/Clapeyron relation underestimate the rate of transfer of surface heat to space, and likely overestimate the increased surface temperature warming that results from increased atmospheric CO2. .

    The clouds so easily seen from the ground also reflect incoming light. Thus two effects of vaporization are inaccurately quantified, cloud formation and upward transport of surface heat.

  90. milodonharlani says:

    Matthew R Marler says:
    May 21, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    GCMs are hopelessly inadequate, at best, & should be scrapped until such time as fundamental problems with them can be solved (probably never, but perhaps theoretically possible). Money spent on tweaking them & making yet more meaningless runs is worse than wasted. Public trough-feeding modelers, aka enemies of humanity & the scientific method, need to go on a diet, while the money saved could be directed toward real science or used to reduce mounting public debts.

  91. Tanner says:

    Since clouds have such a large effect on temperatures would it not be better to see what effect ACO2 has in the middle of the Sahara desert which has less than 25mm of rain per year.
    Does that extra 1 part of ACO2 per 10000 parts of atmosphere in the desert cause the temperature to be 1C warmer than it would otherwise be? I’d like to see how that works ;)

  92. milodonharlani says:

    Tanner says:
    May 21, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    The extra ~1.2 degree C theoretically comes from doubling CO2 from ~3 molecules per 10,000 dry air molecules to ~6 (280 ppm to 560), not just to the present ~4. But a good idea.

    The global effect of doubling is negligible, but might be measurable in certain environments.

  93. milodonharlani says:

    From the TAR, quoted by Dr. Essex in the above video, courtesy of EForster & Dr. Page:

    “In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

    No surprise, expunged from subsequent IPeCaC doses.

    CACA is a crock of caca & a titanic waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars, Euros, yen, etc.

  94. milodonharlani says:

    However I agree with Dr. Essex that adequate modeling might at some time become at least theoretically possible. That day remains far distant. The CACA Mafia has set back real climatology back a generation. Fundamental data gathering has yet to be done before models with a hope of utility can be constructed & tested.

  95. Pamela Gray says:

    Of course the climate is computable. My grandma did it all the time. She planted her vegetable garden after the date of the last known killing frost for Wallowa County, Which was May 7th. She knew the hot and cold extremes for this high elevation valley surrounded by mountains. That was climate to her. Everything inbetween was weather. She planted with the climate in mind, understanding that weather can nudge the boundaries of climate at any given time. And she understood all of this in fine detail. It took a while but now the National Weather Service has outlined in fine detail all the climate boundaries of the United States which are used when they report the weather forecast.

    Climate is bounded by geographical features related to lattitude, longitude, and topographical features and has cold and hot, wet and dry, extreme limits that are not likely to be exceeded unless we are under a major climate shift such as a new ice age (not just an ordinary colder or warmer oscillation). Weather is what is happening when you go outside.

  96. Steven Mosher says:

    Of course the climate is computeable.
    The climate is a collection of long term statistics that we think are relevant to our lives. The amount of rain that will fall over land for example. This number is computeable. I dont even need a gcm to compute it. The question is this.
    Is my number reliable enough to INFORM a decision.
    Is it exactly computeable? I Dont know I have never seen
    A proof that it isnt. Many words but no rigorous proof.

    A proof that its not computable a rigorous proof ..well that would be a feat.

  97. AJB says:

    Excellent post. Thank you Dr Brown.

  98. rgbatduke says:

    You claim LWIR coming down from the sky; ‘back radiation’. It doesn’t exist; here’s why. IPCC ‘science’ is based on the concept of “Forcing’, net energy transfer to the Earth’s surface by solar SW and atmospheric LW radiation. Standard physics assesses both as the difference of ‘Irradiances’ from ‘Stefan-Boltzmann’ equations. The IPCC does it differently.

    Sigh. I’ve written so very much about this. So has Roy Spencer. So have all of the physicists who write on the list. Your assertion that back radiation does not exist is sheer nonsense, refuted by experiments as simple as buying an IR thermometer and pointing it up, refuted in spectroscopic detail by pointing an actual spectrograph up. If you want to see spectrographs provided by Ira Glickstein from various sources on WUWT, look here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/10/visualizing-the-greenhouse-effect-emission-spectra/

    If you want to actually learn the physics of all of this, buy Grant Petty’s “A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation” — it contains a selection of spectrographs taken at the TOA looking down and BOA looking up so you can see the the matching holes and peaks in the CO_2 band of the LWIR spectra both ways. It also contains a fairly detailed single layer model for the GHE — enough to understand the basic radiative mechanism. As you say, atmospheric radiation doesn’t “heat” the surface as it is not a source of free energy, but it significantly raises its dynamic equilibrium temperature when the surface is heated by the sun and its radiation is absorbed and reradiated by the atmosphere en route to space. Furthermore, the process explicitly satisfies both the first and second laws of thermodynamics. All of this is true beyond any reasonable doubt, and reusing a lot of words that you don’t understand doesn’t make it less true or do the skeptical argument any favors.

    “The IPCC” doesn’t do anything at all with “back radiation”, but detailed climate models absolutely do include it in their attempt to model energy flow through the cellular partitioning of the model — if they didn’t they’d be egregiously incorrect. That doesn’t mean that the models include it correctly — computing the radiative properties of the atmosphere in detail is rather difficult and (as Petty makes clear) has to be done within one of two general approximations neither of which is entirely satisfactory, and then, they integrate over absurdly large cells routinely treating the radiative temperature of the cell as some sort of average temperature over that entire volume. Since radiation is proportional to T^4, that makes an error out of the blocks since ^4 \ne .

    rgb

  99. SIGINT EX says:

    Some fun seems apparent !

    Proposition (Guess): Climate Is Not Computable.

    Consequence: Climate does Not exist.

    Test: Climate models fail to reproduce past and current atmospheric parameters.

    Outcome: Climate model failure is evidence that Climate does not exits.

    Presumption: Those constructing Climate Models have ability, competence, experience, knowledge, training and wisdom.

    Doomed to fail from birth. That is the birth mark of our Boy Vie Boy Climate Modelers.

    Champagne wishes and caviar dreams to them. ;-)

    Ha ha !

  100. joeldshore says:

    milodonharlani says:

    You are apparently unfamiliar with the programming & design GCMs. Please educate yourself before accusing anyone of falsehoods. Or at least show a model that takes those non-radiative effects of water vapor into account. You won’t because you can’t.

    They all take non-radiative effects, such as evaporation and convection and clouds into account.

    Nick mentioned runaway, so I replied. Instead of his hypothetical one degree water vapor feedback for each degree of warming from CO2, the actual figure has been shown by observation to be much less & in some environments negative.

    No…Robert Brown mentioned runaway and Nick replied to explain how a positive water vapor feedback does NOT necessarily lead to runaway. It would only lead to runaway were it sufficiently strong and most people agree that it is not that sufficiently strong

    PS: Reading this might help jump start your educational process. IPeCaC itself on the problems with modeling clouds:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/507.htm

    Everyone agrees that clouds are challenging to model and that the biggest sources of uncertainty arise from uncertainties about the cloud feedback. That is not the same thing as the falsehoods that you expressed and continue to express.

    The situation hasn’t improved because the modelers don’t want to have to try to include clouds, which would gut the lies they tell their political paymasters. Instead more money gets spent on yet more GIGO models instead of being wisely spent trying to improve the data, which in its science sections but not its summary for politicians it calls for.

    Your argument doesn’t even make sense. Nowhere does it say that they don’t include clouds or don’t want to include clouds. The fact is that clouds are challenging for many reasons, but the most important is that there is a many orders of magnitude of length scales involved ranging from nucleation that occurs on length scales of microns to individual clouds that have length scales of, say, tens to thousands of meters, and then GCMs have a resolution considerably coarser than this, so cloud processes must be parametrized.

    You are just expressing a bunch of paranoid rubbish that shows you have no clue how scientists work or think. If we were always worried about pleasing our paymasters, we would have gone into a more lucrative field like investment banking. The overwhelming majority of scientists do science because they have a desire to figure out how the world works to the best of their abilities.

  101. Alex says:

    A problem can arise when you mix ‘classical’ physics with quantum physics. Thermodynamics, specific heat and latent heat formulae have been derived by measurement and specific values for compounds have been assigned. All of these exclude radiation physics in their calculation. In other words, any radiation physics have been incorporated already to have completely functional real world outputs. Then some ‘bright spark’ starts adding radiation physics on top of what is already incorporated in classical physics. We simply say , with latent heat that a liquid vaporises and the amount of energy to do so = x. When you look at this through ‘quantum physics ‘ eyes you still come up with the same answer but the derivation is completely different. You are then dealing with energy levels and vibrational states etc. etc.. Care should be taken when mixing classical and quantum physics .

  102. joeldshore says:

    Robert Brown says:

    Personally, I won’t even place a bet. I don’t think the climate is computable, which means that I think one is basically betting on the output of a (possibly biased) random number generator.

    Robert, you can’t truly believe this. After all, I think that you’d agree that we can predict the seasonal cycle pretty well. So, the question really becomes what aspects are computable and what are not. (Or, to what degree different aspects are computable.)

    So, why do you believe predicting the response of the climate system to an increase in greenhouse gases is completely uncomputable and predicting the response to changes in the distribution of solar insolation (seasonal cycle) is? (I would grant you that the seasonal cycle allows us more rapid verification of our predictions, but does that really make the difference between something being computable or not?)

  103. joeldshore says:

    AlecM says:

    My arguments are standard physics.

    And, yet, you can’t seem to find a physicist or a physics textbook that agrees with them, whereas we can provide you with many of both who disagrees with them. Why is this exactly?

  104. Mark Luhman says:

    Justthinkin said:

    “Is the climate computable?

    NO.

    Next dumb question.”

    Well say here is the reason we are told it is computable. If your can model climate you could model the stock market, no one present is trying to model the stock market because they found it was an epic failure years ago and was a waste of money, and that money was private money. They still model climate and it is a total failure and does cost lost of money but is taxpayers money, funny how when it not on your dime stupidity goes on and on of course I cannot blame them it been a profitable con game for the modelers..

  105. Truthseeker says:

    a lot, when considering dry air versus saturated air. In arid deserts, temperatures skyrocket during the day and plummet at night because of the absence of a water vapor driven GHE

    So when radiation is being supplied by the Sun, things get hotter due to the lack of water vapour as a GHG, but when there is no radiation coming from the Sun, things are hotter (or less cold) due to a radiative effect of water vapor as a GHG. Surely jungles would always be hotter than deserts if water vapor is a GHG, or maybe it is only a part-time GHG?

    Maybe the difference between rock/sand versus vegitation/water at the surface is important as is the very high humidity that means we have a significant content of liquid water suspended in the atmosphere as droplets effectively increasing the mass of the atmosphere (atmosphere is “heavy”) although not the pressure.

  106. george e. smith says:

    Well rgb gives us another thought provoker.

    Didn’t take long; first post even, for the fat to hit the shin.
    Joeldshore gets a gold star today, along with Davidmhoffer, for giving us a short précis of whatever it was that AlecM penned at #1.

    Since I am bilingual in English as well as Australian; I was sorely tempted to use my best Australian accent, and thesaurus, to expound my thoughts on AlecM’s highly informative piece.
    Thank you Joel, and David for sparing me the need to embarrass the ladies present, with some of the better Aussie utterances, which we Kiwi, also master at an early age.

    I generally agree with most of what rgb writes, including this present essay, but I do have some modifying views.

    First off, I would point out, that water vapor, in the atmosphere, in daylight hours, absorbs a significant chunk of the near vis / IR in the incoming solar spectrum, longer than 700 nm, so that makes water vapor always a cooling influence, in that this energy then never reaches the surface as solar spectrum energy, which normally would go mostly into the deep ocean. The warming of the atmosphere that results from this, becomes an isotropic LWIR emission, which then does all the things rgb suggests, including some returning to the surface; “back radiation”; despite AlecM sitting there in his rocking chair forbidding it to do so.

    A second nitpick, is that clouds only weakly reflect incoming solar energy; maybe 2-5%. It’s more than 2%, which is the normal incidence reflectance of water droplets, but the SW passes right on through the droplet, so you get an incoming, and an outgoing 2% reflectance from two surfaces of the droplet.

    Mostly the droplet REFRACTS some 95% of the energy, into a wide angle beam, so two or three random refractions result in an essentially isotropic SCATTERING of that energy. It isn’t reflection; but it has about the same overall effect. So cloud albedo is refractive scattering, and not reflection.

    Then there is the snow / ice albedo effect. Despite Kevin Trenberth’s assertion, TSI is about 1366 W/m^2, NOT 342. And with that blowtorch, even high incidence angle attenuated the snow surface readily melts, no matter the air temperature. Then refreezing occurs, and you get a glassy labyrinthine structure that is quite efficient at radiation trapping by total internal reflection.

    So the diffuse reflectance of fresh snow quickly deteriorates, once the sun hits it, and instead of 80% “reflectance”, it rapidly gets down to more like 40%, and less. So by the time snow is 72 hours old, it is no longer such a high albedo item; maybe not even as high as ordinary green vegetation. It looks super bright to your eyes, but your eyes have a sophisticated gain control system, that completely disguises, exactly how dull the aged snow has become.

    I may take the time to ray trace a spherical water droplet illuminated by a nearly collimated (0.5 deg. divergence) solar beam, using the full Fresnel polarized ray trace equations. You wouldn’t believe what it turns into after just one droplet.

    I actually did exactly that, but for the cylindrical case. The question related to what was the best color for a fishing line, or at least the tippet, close to the fly, or lure. The results showed that a pure water clear line in the sun, produced a very bright line focus, that sparkled and flashed underwater, to scare the fish away. An acquaintance, who sits on the bottom of trout streams, breathing from a hose, (minimum bubbles) watching what fish do, actually managed to video those flashing streaks of focused sunlight close to the line, and it completely spooked wild trout. Result is, that a solid black line is far less spooky of fish, than a clear line. The don’t give a hoot about seeing your line; but the flashing lights totally spooks them.

    Anyway, another essay to ruminate over Professor.

  107. phlogiston says:

    Many thanks RGB for this very illuminating explanation. You make it clear that climate on earth is all about one thing only – water, in all its phases. The example of an arid desert compared to one with a cloudy sky makes it obvious that water is not merely 2-3 times more effective than CO2 as a greenhouse gas – the difference must be more like 2-3 orders of magnitude.

  108. AlecM says:

    @davidmhoffer: you wrote this about my arguments:

    ‘They are no such thing, they are pure bullsh*t, and when two PhD physicists from rather divergent points of view on the larger issues both say the opposite to the drivel you spout, the audience ought pay attention. Your yammering is distracting from the real physics being discussed, it is confusing to new comers to the discussion, and the pathetic whining about pyrgeometers is a regurgitation of the misinformation on the topic spouted by Doug Cotton and the Slayers. They’ve been banned from this forum, and you should be too.’

    It’s clear you haven’t the faintest idea how to the counter standard physics so you wrote ‘whining about pyrgeometers’, then muddy the waters by introducing ‘the Slayers’. I never joined them because they too get some physics wrong. It’s easy to prove pyrgeometers measure Irradiance.

    Put two, back to back, in zero temperature gradient: net IR signal is zero; it’s the vector sum of opposing Poynting Vectors for CO2 and H2O IR bands. The manufacturers state you need ‘back to back’ devices to measure net IR: http://www.kippzonen.com/Product/16/CGR-3-Pyrgeometer

    Take one device away: net output jumps to say 400 W/m^2. Is this a real IR flux when you have just proved the flux at the centre point of the opposing pyrgeometers was zero? No professional makes that mistake The error arose thus: an optical pyrometer is a metal shield with a detector. The shield blocks off the radiation field from the back of the detector so it measures Irradiance in its view angle and, by calibration against a black body, temperature.

    C. 50 years ago, a Meteorologist had the bright idea of using the output temperature of an optical pyrometer with an IR filter to give the S-B IR Irradiance. Pyrgeometers are calibrated against a cavity black body’s Irradiance, not a real energy flux. Their output signal is Irradiance.

    Do you intend to persist in blustering with no real science? I got my PhD in Applied physics from imperial College a long time ago but I was the year prize winner and have lectured at a top university, so I am prepared to argue my case against all comers. Climate Alchemy must accept standard physics and that they got this bit wrong by copying Meteorology’s mistake.

  109. rgbatduke says:

    Is what we DO know about the behaviour of water water cycle enough, it crudely modelled, to account for all global warming of the late 20h century without the actual need for it to be driven by anything other than the climate mechanism itself?

    Probably not. As I said, it isn’t just water, it is albedo, it is indeed at least a small effect from CO_2, it is aerosols, it is (possibly) effects due to solar state, it is the thermohaline circulation of the ocean, it is land use changes (if you want anthropogenic climate change mechanisms, this is a big one as cutting down forests and replacing them with cities and parking lots is a major alteration in all sorts of surface properties). A major factor is the decadal oscillations and the quasi-stable circulation of air — anything that increases atmospheric mixing and transport of heat from tropics to the poles has a substantial heating effect because of the T^4 in the Stefan-Boltzmann equation. Finally, the earth is tipped, spinning, and in an eccentric and slowly varying orbit around the sun.

    Of course the climate is computeable.
    The climate is a collection of long term statistics that we think are relevant to our lives. The amount of rain that will fall over land for example. This number is computeable. I dont even need a gcm to compute it. The question is this.
    Is my number reliable enough to INFORM a decision.
    Is it exactly computeable? I Dont know I have never seen
    A proof that it isnt. Many words but no rigorous proof.

    A proof that its not computable a rigorous proof ..well that would be a feat.

    Steven, it is hard to know where to begin with this. First of all, the climate models are trying to solve not one, but two coupled Navier-Stokes equations, one for the atmosphere and one for the land. While it is true that there is no proof that the Navier-Stokes equation is in general solvable/computable, there is a Clay Millennium prize for the proof that it is:

    http://www.claymath.org/millenium-problems/navier%E2%80%93stokes-equation

    because (like the Riemann hypothesis and P=NP?) it’s a hard problem!

    It isn’t made any easier by trying to solve it on an absurdly coarse spatiotemporal resolution. The Kolmogorov scale:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolmogorov_microscales

    or the length scale where the atmosphere transitions from laminar to turbulent flow is around 3 mm. You should read a few articles on computing turbulent systems with high Reynolds numbers — they openly state that they aren’t, and aren’t likely to ever be, computable at full resolution as the number of grid points required is truly absurdly large, and you need that full grid PER variable being computed in a coupled computation. Then the question is — and if you can answer it, a prestigious prize, fame and fortune await you — whether or not one can solve turbulent problems in anything like a reliable way with a clearly inadequate grid.

    In the case of the atmosphere, we actually know some of the length/time scales. The smallest length/time scales are order of 10^{-2} - 10^2 m, and 1 to 100 seconds, respectively. That is, a centimeter to a hundred meters describes things like local wind eddies, local wind gusts. There are a variety of things that happen on meso-scales — it isn’t like gusts of wind are sharply cut off at the length of a football field — with one of the most important ones being the length scales of convection in cumulonimbus (the size and convective scale of thunderstorms) with is 1000 to 10000 meters (1 to 10 km) with times of order 1000 seconds (around 15 minutes). Then one hits the synoptic scale (size of high/low pressure systems) which have lateral length scales of 1000 km and a vertical length scale (clipped) of 10000 meters with time scales of order 100,000 seconds — call it order a day. Finally, there are global, planetary motions — Hadley circulation, zonal streams — that have lateral scales of 10,000 km (basically, the order of the planetary circumference) and vertical scales of — surprise, 10000 meters, and times of 10^6 seconds, call it 100 days.

    This doesn’t begin to touch the oceanic scales. The thermohaline circulation is almost an order of magnitude larger in (wound up) lateral length, and has a time scale in centuries. Oceanic mixing times also occur on a dazzling array of length/time scales, with seasonal variations and things like ENSO with scales comparable to (but often much slower than) planetary length scales in the atmosphere.

    The atmospheric gridding in GCMs is typically order of 100 km laterally, 1 km vertically, and order of a few minutes temporally. With that gridding, computations take an enormous amount of time on the world’s largest piles of computers — it is more or less at our computational capabilities. This gridding cannot compute anything at the small through meso scales. It is blind to gusts, thunderstorms, small eddies, butterfly wing flaps, and good sized weather fronts. Tornadoes never happen in a GCM — they can’t. The big question is whether or not all of the neglected, ignored, approximated, dynamics on all of these smaller scales is important in determining the correct long time evolution of the system. Note well that plenty of these neglected motions are important in transporting energy, and even more important in converting energy from one form to another. The neglected mm scales are key in the damping out of e.g. wind energy into heat, for example — they are (literally) the lengths where diffusion competes with viscosity driven mixing, and thunderstorm dynamics involve the rapid transport and dissipation of a great deal of energy.

    If you think all of this dynamics can be neglected in solving the Navier-Stokes equation for a crazy-complex, absolutely enormous system, prove it. Mathematicians consider this to be a difficult problem whose solutions (numerical or otherwise) are little understood and hard/expensive to compute. They can’t even prove that solutions exist in the general case.

    Finally, I have no idea what you mean when you say that you don’t even need a GCM to compute (for example) the amount of rainfall that will fall over land. You mean that if I give you a planet with a given pattern of mountains, oceans, orbital pattern atmospheric chemistry, axial tilt, solar state, and past history you can just look at it and tell me how much rainfall will fall on land? If so, well… no, I just gotta say that that’s crazy talk, I can’t even be nice about it. If you mean that we have records and you can look at rainfall patterns in the past and make a statistical extrapolation (a.k.a. — educated guess that the future will be “like” the past) to predict the future, you could be right, you could even arguably probably be right, but — read Taleb’s The Black Swan and learn humility. Besides, this is not computing the climate — any more than observing the time required to fall ten meters a dozen times is “computing” the time required to fall ten meters the thirteenth time when you guess that it will be about the same. Computing the time requires a viable mathematical/computable physical theory, validated by comparing computational results to many more than a dozen experiments, so that we can safely and moderately reliably compute that it should be t = \sqrt{2H/g} neglecting drag, and something much, much more difficult to compute from first principles if we include drag (especially if it has an irregular shape) precisely because the Navier-Stokes equation for the drag coupling to an irregular shape is — not computable.

    I do the following demonstration of this for students. Drop a sheet of printer paper from a height of (say) two meters, held vertically. Try to compute the way it will land, as in solve equations of physics to predict its trajectory. Personally, I don’t think it can be done, because it is impossible to determine or specify the initial conditions sufficiently accurately to make the answer computable. And the spread of possible answers empirically turns out to be nearly useless — it can land “anywhere” in a circle of radius maybe 3 meters. The big question is, is the climate a simpler problem than a dropped sheet of paper?

    I don’t think so.

    While you are “computing” land rainfall, please hindcast the Great Dust Bowl for me. Explain the Little Ice Age and subsequent global warming — without anthropogenic CO_2. Hindcast the Younger Dryas. Then I’ll believe you when you say “of course it is computable”.

    rgb

  110. noaaprogrammer says:

    In mathematics and computer science, chaos and non-computability have precise definitions.
    These definitions do not necessarily contain implications of one for the other. See:

    http://mulhauser.net/lib/research/tutorials/chaos/

    In the context of Brown’s article, a term better than “non-computable” would be “intractable.” An intractable algorithm is computable, but in practice never realizable because of time/space constraints.

  111. AlecM says:

    @rgbatduke: ‘Sigh. I’ve written so very much about this. So has Roy Spencer. So have all of the physicists who write on the list. Your assertion that back radiation does not exist is sheer nonsense, refuted by experiments as simple as buying an IR thermometer and pointing it up, refuted in spectroscopic detail by pointing an actual spectrograph up. If you want to see spectrographs provided by Ira Glickstein from various sources on WUWT, look here:….’

    Sorry, an IR spectrometer measures the IR Irradiance in its view angle. This will vary with wavenumber but for the self-absorbed GHG bands, the amplitude is the black body level for the emission temperature. This is standard physics.

    Turn the pyrometer upside down so it measures the signal from the Earth’s surface. It will measure the black body ‘bell curve’. This is standard physics.

    Now do a line by line subtraction of the atmospheric signal from the surface signal. the difference spectrum is the real, net IR flux vs wavenumber. This is standard physics.

    To claim as in the Trenberth Energy Budget that the atmospheric Irradiance adds to the real surfce net IR flux to make the black body surface Irradiance a real, net energy flux is not standard physics. it is to make a false assumption dating back to Arrhenius via Sagan.

    It’s interesting to work out why Sagan made his mistake: he got the cloud physics for Venus wrong; ~80% of the SW energy backscatters in the top of the atmosphere so he overestimated SW penetration to the base by about 7x in his two-stream calculation.

    Sorry, but you do no faze me on this. iI got my PhD at Imperial College and was first in my year. i’ve made pyrometers and spectrometers for on-line use. I do know my stuff! So do the people who make pyrgeometers: http://www.kippzonen.com/Product/16/CGR-3-Pyrgeometer

    Scroll to the bottom and look at the back to back pyrgeometer which measures net IR flux!

  112. davidmhoffer says:

    AlecM says:
    May 21, 2014 at 9:58 pm
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

    Anthony
    The first time I ran into Doug Cotton on the web, I had no idea who he was and got into a full fledged argument with him. I soon discovered I was arguing with someone who just made up their own brand of physics and proclaimed it to be standard while failing to provide a single reference to any text book that supported his idiocy. I haven’t the time or patience to rebut this complete bullsh*t at the moment, I’ll leave it to Joel Shore and RGB who have both put him in his place already though he appears to not understand that’s what has happened.

    That said, his latest tirade is, to the best of my recollection, verbatim Doug Cotton. I suspect AlecM is either Doug Cotton, or simply a misguided acolyte cutting and pasting from Doug Cotton’s drivel.

    As always, your blog, your rules, but you know my opinion on this stupidity.

    REPLY: Yes, I’ve considered that this is just another one of the dozen or so identities that Doug Cotton inhabits on his mission from clods, er slayers. But this comment is coming from the UK, not Australia. Might be John O’Sullivan under one of his sock puppet identities. Who knows? They are mostly interchangeable, language wise.

    But problem solved by application of some off-topic troll slayer spray – Anthony

  113. AlecM says:

    @joeldshore; you apparently assert standard physics claims an Irradiance is a real net energy flux. Where is that claim? Be very careful in your answer because every physics and engineering textbook states specifically that to predict net IR flux from a warmer to a cooler body, you use the difference of two S-B equations, corrected for emissivity, absorptivity and view angle.

    The problem arises because units of irradiance and net flux are the same. However, the former is the implied energy flux to a sink at Absolute Zero. You prove this very easily. Imagine a single flat plate with an insulated back at a set temperature in a vacuum, close to and parallel to a second plate with insulated back at Absolute Zero. The heating power needed to keep the temperature of the first plate constant is its single S-B Irradiance, as is the cooling power for the second plate.

    Now make both plates the same temperature; power input for each will fall to zero. Why? The net radiation field comprises standing monochromatic waves with zero (on average) Poynting Vectors. If there is a temperature difference, the standing waves have the amplitude of the cooler body and superimposed is a travelling wave with PVs equal to the difference between the source PVs.

    Sorry, but I am simply stating standard physics and you can check it against any good textbook or engineering manual. The best primer is Chapter 3 of Perry’s Chemical Engineering Handbook, co-written by Hoyt. C. Hottell who first made real GHG emissivity measurements. Engineers like me have to get the sums right. Climate Alchemists apparently don’t…….:o)

  114. davidmhoffer says:

    AlecM;
    Engineers like me have to get the sums right.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Wow. Just a couple of comments upthread you were claiming to be a physicist. Top of your class. Now suddenly you are an engineer. Make up your mind.

  115. AlecM says:

    @davidmhoffer: my bachelor’s degree is in engineering, my PhD is in applied physics. I do both and I have lectured in both. No-one of my generation accepts the claim that Irradiance is a net energy flux except to a sink at absolute zero.

  116. Somebody says:

    “Thermodynamics, specific heat and latent heat formulae have been derived by measurement and specific values for compounds have been assigned. All of these exclude radiation physics in their calculation. In other words, any radiation physics have been incorporated already to have completely functional real world outputs. ”

    This is true. The reason it works is that the microscopic details do not matter so much in such cases. It doesn’t matter if a particle itself travels from one part of the system to the other, carrying energy directly, then it collides with another one transferring a part of it (or even if it doesn’t do that), or instead, it uses some intermediary to do that, or an entire chain of intermediaries (can be another particle or why not, a photon in the IR spectrum – anyway, they do not collide like billiard balls, if you get the hint).

    Particles that are identical can lead to some things that are not so intuitive. People like to label things. It’s not always a good way of thinking.

    If you get compatible microstates, do the microscopic details matter from the macroscopic point of view? Nope.

  117. Somebody says:

    “No-one of my generation accepts the claim that Irradiance is a net energy flux except to a sink at absolute zero.”

    Why would anybody accept such a thing? Indeed, the pseudo science tries to fool people with the radiation going up and down and then again up and down and up and down… :)

    What actually matters is the net value.

    And this reminds me of this: http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/08/help-back-radiation-has-invaded-my-backyard/

    He somehow thinks that by measuring the sky temperature (which in fact is not a temperature, radiation originates from different points of the atmosphere, at different temperatures, and more, it doesn’t even have the black body spectrum, it’s quite different from it – by measuring a system which is not in thermal equilibrium one cannot claim he measures ‘a temperature’). Somehow he thinks that by showing different pseudo temperatures at different heights, he shows ‘greenhouse effect’. And if you look too much for confirmation rather than refutation, all you cherry pick is things that (appear to) confirm your preconceptions.

    Let’s see what he has there: “My car thermometer was showing virtually no change.”

    From this paragraph: “What was amazing was that driving down in elevation from my house caused the sky temperature reading to increase by about 3 deg. F for a 300 foot drop in elevation. My car thermometer was showing virtually no change. This pattern was repeated as I went up and down hills.”

    It’s funny how some see a confirmation in something that is actually a refutation. The greenhouse effect is supposed to increase the temperature, isn’t it?

  118. Somebody says:

    Let me state it clear: I’m not thinking that the pseudo-greenhouse effect is not real. It’s just not as described by the pseudo-science. The CO2 effect is lower than in the religion.

  119. A nice exposition of the role of water and water vapor.

    Just one point about something I have noticed before in climate-related discussion of condensation nuclei.

    Practically all discussion I have seen focus on phase change of H2O from gas to liquid and liquid to gas as well as from liquid to solid and vice versa. But we know that phase change is possible directly from the solid to the gas (ablation) and gas to solid (sublimation).

    The ice cap on Mt Kilimanjaro is periodically much reduce by ablation. The same can happen on the surface of continental glaciers.

    What role does sublimation have at the top of the troposphere or lower stratosphed–phase change from gas to solid? Is a nucleus needed as Svensmark’s theory seems to require? Or can sublimation occur and then be followed by phase change from solid to liquid?

    The process would be: water vapor to ice crystal to water droplet with no nucleating particle needed.

  120. AlecM says:

    @Somebody: the Spencer cheap IR thermometer works by having an uncooled photoresistor which is exposed to a focused 8 to 14 micron band filter, ‘atmospheric window’, IR. This reduces the effect of relative humidity on the signal.

    The device may work by measuring current for constant potential difference across the resistor or there may be a constant current source and voltage derived. This signal is then compared via a look up table to a black body calibrated signal and the temperature for best fit is then output in deg C or F. More expensive versions have an emissivity adjustment. they are designed to look at plane faced sources, e.g. walls.

    Point it to the sky and because the IR signal is from non self-absorbed minor gases, its emission depth is quite large, perhaps 100s of meters, and that gives substantial cooling from lapse rate; c. 6.5 K/km. So, the surface of the sensor cools because net IR flux goes from it to the sky. The device was never calibrated for that use. Go higher and it measures a lower ‘temperature’ because the temperature difference, photoresistor to sky, is greater.

    This is no quantitative evidence of ‘back radiation’, just that there is a net IR flux sensor to sky.

  121. Graeme M says:

    I’ve seen AlecM’s comments on a few blogs recently. As a lurking layperson I must say he argues with authority. If his claims re his credentials are true one would have to assume he bases his arguments on *some* level of knowledge, but it’s hard for me to know how much. His critics do much nay-saying but little actual criticism of the points he makes. I’d be interested in seeing a guest post by him discussing EXACTLY what he claims with solid arguments addressing his points… That way he can make his best argument and his critics can demonstrate clearly why he is wrong – if he is. Or else can someone address exactly what he says rather than the usual somewhat broad dismissals.

  122. tty says:

    george e smith

    “Then there is the snow / ice albedo effect. Despite Kevin Trenberth’s assertion, TSI is about 1366 W/m^2, NOT 342. And with that blowtorch, even high incidence angle attenuated the snow surface readily melts, no matter the air temperature. Then refreezing occurs, and you get a glassy labyrinthine structure that is quite efficient at radiation trapping by total internal reflection.”

    That may be true in the US, which is after all almost all closer to the Equator than the pole. It is emphatically not true at higher latitudes, where the snow will stay loose for weeks or months. The surface melting you describe only happens when the temperature rises above zero or very late in winter when the sun is relatively high in the sky. Incidentally in Swedish which has almost as many words for snow as Inuit has special words for both these phenomena: “skarsnö” and “dagsmeja” respectively. If it always happened we wouldn’t need special words to describe when it does, would we?

  123. Bill Illis says:

    Don’t we need to rethink all these feedbacks that climate science is based on. Don’t we need to start measuring them to see if they are accurate.

    Water vapor is estimated to increase by 7.0% per 1.0K increase caused by GHGs initially. The Classius Clapyeron relation.

    Clouds are supposed to decline by 3.3% per 1.0K increase caused by GHGs initially.

    Okay stop right there. Water vapor up, clouds down. Some fancy atmospheric effects have to occur to get that to happen. I imagine, climate science can imagine this but it does seem illogical.

    ——-

    Next, water vapor is only increasing by about 2.4%/K compared to surface temperatures, 4.5%/K compared to the lower troposphere temps and 3.7%/K compared to sea surface temperatures alone. Okay, Classius Clapyeron is not accurate.

    Cut water vapor feedback down to 2.4%/K rather than 7.0%/K and CO2 sensitivity falls to 1.5C per doubling.

    Clouds? According to the CERES data, the change in Earth’s energy imbalance is exactly the same number as the Net Cloud energy imbalance. Clouds run the whole climate according to CERES. There is no real trend in the numbers. Furthermore, the opposite impact should have felt in the ice ages. Clouds should have increased considerably at the same time that temps fell by 5.0C. Hansen did not build this into his climate model simulation of the ice ages so that makes him a fake.

    Change cloud to Zero feedback and water vapor to 2.4%/K and the CO2 sensitivity is only 1.2C per doubling.

    Does that sound about right?

    That is very close to where real temperatures are tracking compared to GHG forcing.

  124. rgbatduke says:

    I’ll simply add one more time (not in this thread, but the umpty-zillionth time for this list) that all of the comments about “sky radiation” (a “sky dragon slayer” tag line) come from a cosmically naive misconception of the way the GHE works.

    Look, guys, if you are at all serious about learning this (as opposed to ranting about it and sounding astoundingly ignorant even as you inflate your sense of self-importance) beg, borrow, steal, copy, obtain from pirate bay, check out from a library, I don’t care how you do it get a hold of a copy of Grant Petty’s book “A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation”. I’ll make it really easy for you by including a link to the site where you can buy it for a whole $36 USD. Note that this is astoundingly cheap for a textbook — Petty uses Sundog for the same reason I use Lulu for my own textbooks — so I’d recommend going the honest route but that’s up to you.

    http://www.sundogpublishing.com/shop/a-first-course-in-atmospheric-radiation-2nd-ed/

    Then maybe — especially if you do indeed have some sort of physics education — we can all start using big boy concepts instead of butchered misstatements about designed-for-the-ignorant-public block diagrams of energy flux taken in isolation as if they apply to to a passive system.

    When you obtain your legal or illegal copy, read through the single layer model in Chapter 6. Note that this model has only the barest handful of parameters — albedo, emissivity, short and long wave absorptivity. Note that the “model” consists of a direct statement of the First Law of Thermodynamics — writing the differential equation for heat flow that determines dynamic equilibrium of the open system. It therefore by construction does not violate energy conservation. Note second that the absorptivities that appear — which are split very crudely into “short” and “long” partitionings of the spectrum, but ultimately reflect the atmosphere’s differential absorptivity in the relevant parts of the spectrum of incoming sunlight vs outgoing blackbody radiation — appear in the ODE symmetrically, that is, they obey Kirchoff’s Law of Thermal Radiation — absorption is precisely balanced by emission. Consequently your “objection” that any theory where this is true cannot possibly produce net surface heating relative to the mean temperature that would have been obtained without the absorptive layer are moot. Finally, note that if one tracks the “heat” absorbed as it moves from reservoir to reservoir in the system, entropy change is either zero or positive at every point. Net heat never flows “from cold to hot”. That is not necessary to increase the equilibrium temperature of an externally heated system — all one has to do is slow the rate it cools, and the greenhouse effect no more violates the second law as it makes the Earth’s surface warmer than it would be without greenhouse gases than the insulation in my attic violates the second law as it makes my heated house warmer by retarding the rate of flow of that heat out of the walls of my house.

    Until you do this — and I’m serious, you need to work through the actual differential equations and stop commenting on one or another box in a block diagram that attempts to crudely summarize the equilibrium flow — you are just making yourself look silly.

    Even your comments on downward directed radiation — measurable, as I noted, with cheap instrumentation or measurable in detail with more expensive instrumentation — somehow completely neglects the fact that this downward directed radiative flux carries energy. Contemplate the radiative balance of the surface underneath with and without this flux. Hmm.

    rgb

  125. AlecM says:

    rgbatduke: the pejorative remarks that I’m a Slayer are wrong. I work independently. I trained as a process engineer and with others measured coupled convection and radiation using known power inputs thereby to measure real convection by mass flows and real net IR energy loss in large plant so the air emitter is effectively the same as the open atmosphere.

    For hot mill steel, you have to get to c. 100 deg c before radiative heat loss exceeds convective heat loss. For aluminium with alumina scale as the surface, it’s about 300 deg C. You can confirm this in the Tables in a good text like McAdams ‘Heat transfer’. I have run along hot mill strip with a contact Land pyrometer. To pioneer on-line temperature measurement of aluminium, we developed the first two-colour pyrometer.

    So, when I saw the Trenberth cartoon, not only did I know it was wrong from theory, I also knew it from experiment, lots of them written up in handbooks to design process plant. One of my acquaintances, Hoyt C Hottell of MIT was the pioneer in GHG physics. Another, Bo Leckner improved Hottell’s work and gave me the self-absorption idea. It was 40 years ago; this standard work in the process industries has been ignored by Climate Alchemy.

    The two-stream approximation does work so long as you appreciate that MODTRAN for example calculates the Irradiance at a plane, not net IR flux; that is the difference of UP and DOWN Irradiances. ‘Back radiation’, the DOWN flux, is an Irradiance. OLR has to be paired with the 2.7 deg K Cosmic Microwave Background as the opposite Irradiance; negligible. So, there is not much wrong except at the surface and ToA. At the surface, and this is built into MODTRAN originating from Manabe, is 160 W/m^2 mean total heat transfer surface to atmosphere. MODTRAN calculates the net IR part consistent with real surface temperatures, and the real GHE.

    The claim that a mean 3x real energy travels from the surface to the atmosphere is a perpetual Motion Machine of the 2nd Kind, the lower atmosphere using its own heat to cause itself to expand. All professional engineers know this and most older physicists. it is Atmospheric Science with a crossover to modern Physics’ teaching which fails to make the distinction between irradiance and net flux. This comes from Sagan, apparently, who was misled about Venusian cloud properties.

    So, not to be deliberately objectionable, it seems I represent the Old Guard with lots of practical knowledge of getting the calculations right. Incidentally, we used Carslaw and Jaeger’s collected analytical solutions to heat transfer problems before computers came available. My process plant designs work. The IPCC Climate Models with their totally wrong application of Kirchhoff’s Law of Radiation to a semi-transparent emitter at ToA and fake hind casting, don’t. I once argued with Met. Office modellers about this – they justify it with a silly construct.

    Note for ‘Anthony'; someone is wrong and it could be me, but I doubt it because many others will back me up. We call it ‘consensus’……..:o)

  126. Jasper Ge says:

    @rgb May 22, 2014 at 5:14 am

    Is the “downward directed radiative flux” which “carries energy” from “the insulation in my attic” directly measurable “with cheap instrumentation”?

  127. AlecM says:

    An Irradiance is measured by blocking off the Irradiance in the other direction from affecting the sensor. Therefore, it is an energy flow to the sensor. When it sums vectorially with the opposite Irradiance, only the difference transfers energy.

    ‘Back radiation’ is measured by blocking the irradiance of the Surface so is otherwise imaginary (for a normal temperature gradient).

    Sorry, but this is real physics you can do yourself.

  128. AlecM says:

    An Irradiance is measured by blocking off the Irradiance in the other direction from affecting the sensor. Therefore, it is an energy flow to the sensor. When it sums vectorially with the opposite Irradiance, no detector, only the difference transfers energy.

    ‘Back radiation’ is measured by blocking the irradiance of the Surface so it does not interact with the detector, so is operational, defined by the observational method.

    Sorry, but this is real physics you can do yourself. for a normal temperature gradient; ‘back radiation’ cannot transfer any energy to the surface. It has never been proved to do so by calorimetry, the only real proof.

  129. AJ says:

    RGB,

    A couple of years ago over at Lucia’s, there was a discussion of the paper:

    Tuning the climate of a global model ;

    Mauritsen T. , B. Stevens E. Roeckner T. Crueger M. Esch M. Giorgetta H. Haak J. H. Jungclaus D. Klocke D. Matei U. Mikolajewicz D. Notz R. Pincus H. Schmidt L. Tomassini null : ” Tuning the climate of a global model ” , Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 4 , doi: 10.1029/2012MS000154 , http://www.agu.org/journals/ms/ms1208/2012MS000154/2012MS000154.pdf

    There was a discussion of Absolute Temperatures and Phase Transitions of H2O, Energy Leaks, and Hindcasts. It was an interesting post:

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2012/tuning-climate-models-a-group-discusses-how-its-done/

  130. milodonharlani says:

    joeldshore says:
    May 21, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Perhaps the majority of scientists do want to try to figure out how the world works, but the leaders of the “climate science” (misnomer) cabal plainly don’t. Why go into business when feeding at the public trough is so easy & fun? My experience with my former teachers Ehrlich & Holdren & with the astronomical Dr. Sagan & NCAR’s Schneider during the Nuclear Winter Big Lie make even your general statement dubious, however. During my own academic career I did meet some colleagues who weren’t in it for the bucks, I’ll grant.

    The behavior of CACA advocates shows clearly that my characterization is accurate, not paranoid.

    I know that RGB mentioned runaway first, but I was replying to Nick’s hypothetical, which is obviously false on its face. I don’t know whether he thinks it possible on earth or not.

    If GCMs even remotely accurately model earth’s climate system, then why do they fail so ludicrously? Using them to formulate policy is akin to burning witches to improve the health of children & livestock.

  131. Alex says:

    Somebody
    I appreciate your citing me but unfortunately you seemed to have missed the point I was trying to make. You ‘cherry-picked’ some sentences and agreed with them and then completely dismissed everything I was aiming at. Either you are following your own agenda or you don’t realise that classical physics and quantum physics work with entirely different equations. The outcomes are the same but the results are derived differently.
    For example:
    You design an air conditioner based on all the correct engineering principles then you hand the design to some Physics graduate who decides that the black fins will follow SB for emission of heat. So the design is changed to accommodate this. The F_ing thing doesn’t work. That is because the radiation theory was already included in the original design but by using other methods.

  132. Alex says:

    Adding to my above comment
    I have worked with idiot graduates in the past in industry. They eventually get fired from the company and then become university lecturers and possibly professors. What a crazy world.

  133. Bloke down the pub says:

    rgb@duke If you’ve written a beginners guide to climate physics, I’d buy it.

  134. Spartacusisfree says:

    RGB: ‘Even your comments on downward directed radiation — measurable, as I noted, with cheap instrumentation or measurable in detail with more expensive instrumentation — somehow completely neglects the fact that this downward directed radiative flux carries energy. Contemplate the radiative balance of the surface underneath with and without this flux. Hmm.’

    This ‘energy flow’ is measured by placing a barrier behind the detector so the ‘energy flow’ in the opposite direction from the Earth’s surface does not interact with ‘back radiation’. Yes, there is an ‘energy flow’, but it is to the detector, not the Earth’s surface; simple experimental physics.

    Think about it.

  135. Alex says:

    Bloke down the pub:
    You want it easy. You actually have to get ‘out there’ and search for information. There is no ‘Gospel according to……’. You can’t just slavishly follow someones opinion. You need to form your own. Get off your lazy arse and do some work. Who knows, you may end up posting on this site.
    But then again , I may have misunderstood your request. You may just be sycophantic.

  136. george e. smith says:

    “””””…..tty says:

    May 22, 2014 at 3:13 am

    george e smith

    “Then there is the snow / ice albedo effect. Despite Kevin Trenberth’s assertion, TSI is about 1366 W/m^2, NOT 342. And with that blowtorch, even high incidence angle attenuated the snow surface readily melts, no matter the air temperature. Then refreezing occurs, and you get a glassy labyrinthine structure that is quite efficient at radiation trapping by total internal reflection.”

    That may be true in the US, which is after all almost all closer to the Equator than the pole. It is emphatically not true at higher latitudes, where the snow will stay loose for weeks or months. …..”””””

    I never said anything about whether it was loose or not. Since it starts off as individual ice crystals clumped together, it is of course quite loose. That aids in thermally insulating each crystal from its neighbors.

    Light can always refract into an optically transparent medium, but it can’t always then get out again. Particularly in a complex geometry like a snow “flake”, TIR trapping stores EM energy in there.

    No it’s not going to start a waterfall; it just needs to destroy the crystalline molecular order, over a few molecules, to increase the size of the facets.

    Well the snow aging data, is not mine; it’s from the US Air Force. I should tell them they got their measurements wrong.

    It must be spooky looking down into a higher latitude glacial crevasse, and seeing total blackness, instead of a blue green glow like in the tropical glaciers.

  137. Jim G says:

    milodonharlani says:
    May 22, 2014 at 7:07 am

    In your comment regarding being “in it for the bucks” you mirror my comment re “conflict of interest” under http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/21/a-do-over-on-the-97-consensus-claim-done-right-this-time/. Great minds (humor?) must think alike, at least sometimes. I continue to believe that one can, unfortunately, usually follow the money to find out what is really going on. Particularly sad and destructive when it comes to science. I enjoy your geological comments immensely.

  138. John Whitman says:

    rgbatduke,

    I owe you a brew or two as my partial tuition payment toward attending your online education series at WUWT.

    If you are ever in NorCal . . . . . or if you are ever in upstate NY (Adirondack Mtns) in mid-summer.

    John

  139. george e. smith says:

    “””””…..C. 50 years ago, a Meteorologist had the bright idea of using the output temperature of an optical pyrometer with an IR filter to give the S-B IR Irradiance. Pyrgeometers are calibrated against a cavity black body’s Irradiance, not a real energy flux. Their output signal is Irradiance……”””””

    Well I don’t have a PhD in “Applied Physics” whatever, that is. I always thought applied physics was either chemistry, or engineering. Didn’t even know you could get a PhD in it. I thought of getting one, in ice cream making, but decided to go to work at a job, instead.

    Time for you to take a refresher course.

    Black bodies (by themselves) do NOT have an IRRADIANCE; i.e. , Watts per m^2.

    The output from a black body, is a RADIANCE, i.e. Watts per steradian, per m^2.

    IRRADIANCE is a measure of INCIDENT radiation; NOT of EXIDEDENT radiation, which is called EMITTANCE.

    But you probably never were in a 4-H club, where they teach you stuff like that; (maybe Boy Scouts even)

  140. milodonharlani says:

    Jim G says:
    May 22, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Sorry to offend Joel, but IMO the fact is indisputable that many scientists (far from all) are in it for the money. As with politicians & bureaucrats, it beats working. They’re also in it for the ideological “cause” & for the psychological satisfaction of being in the public spotlight, like Mann.

    As I said, the proof is in the pudding. Climate “science” is so execrable that the preposterous results have to be intentional, whatever the motivation.

    As with spies, follow not only the Money but Ideology, Compromise or Coercion (as in the peer pressure applied to young scientists) & Ego or Extortion (MICE, as counter-intel agents have it).

    I’m glad you appreciate my comments.

  141. milodonharlani says:

    PS: In the climate “science” version of MICE, the C might stand for Career advancement, quite apart from the Money.

  142. Tenuc says:

    mellyrn says:
    May 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm
    Cosmic explanations — there may well be a perceptible cycle, but why? What’s changing? Does the sun pass through regions of space that kick it into higher gear, or cause it to slow down?

    Interesting conjecture.

    If the density of energy coming into the solar system from the center of our galaxy and the universe varies over time, then this could explain the observed connection between the solar magnetic cycle and the climate of the planets, Including Earth – this happening even though the TSI changes very little. Just have to posit that not all solar system energy is coming from the sun.

  143. Jim G says:

    milodonharlani says:
    May 22, 2014 at 8:33 am

    “Ideology, Compromise or Coercion (as in the peer pressure applied to young scientists) & Ego or Extortion (MICE, as counter-intel agents have it).” are all, indeed, also potentially in the mix. I did not say “power” as money and power are many times one and the same. We both seem to have forgotten “sex” as a significant driver in some cases. Perhaps it is my age that caused me to, at least momentarilty, pass over this possibility. I will not say ‘forget’ this possibility as I am not THAT old yet.

  144. milodonharlani says:

    Jim G says:
    May 22, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Yes, MICE is inadequate to account for all spying motives. You’d have to add love & sex, as well as being disgruntled, feeling unappreciated, ill-used, bearing a grudge, etc. I suppose Mann might get laid more often by patchouli-oiled Green-leaning women with hairy armpits & legs thanks to his CACA star status, given his unappetizing personal appearance & obnoxious personality. But IMO he’s in it mostly for the money, ideology & status.

  145. AlecM says:

    @george e smith: I correctly use the term ‘black body level’ to classify the amplitude of Radiant Emittance from the plane Earth’s surface, emissivity c. 1, or self-absorbed GHG band amplitudes from atmosphere to surface, intercepted by a plane detector. The mean emissivity of the semi-transparent atmosphere for temperate regions is c. 0.6, but varies with temperature and humidity.

    When incident on a plane pyrgeometer detector, the instrument outputs an approximation to Irradiance of the atmosphere but in reality it is the instrument’s internal black body Radiant Emittance minus the Radiant Emittance of the detector surface to the lower emissivity and perhaps slightly cooler atmosphere. In other words, the instrument transfers energy to the atmosphere and the convolved signal is far from the real atmospheric Radiant Emittance.

    Calibration of these instruments must be hell because they cannot work as claimed and in the present iterations, they use thermistors to correct for internal convection! The black body cavity calibrant is very different from the semi-transparent atmosphere.

    When the pyrgeometer is used to measure the surface-emitted Irradiance, there is next to zero cooling of the detector so the instrument outputs a near black body level signal. The same calibration errors apply but are unimportant.

    The key issue is that if the pyrgeometer is not present, net Irradiance from surface to atmosphere, the real net IR energy flux, is by definition Irradiance UP – Irradiance DOWN. In other words, the instrument shield makes it measure an approximation to incident irradiance, NOT A REAL IR FLUX.

    I hope this is clear.

  146. MikeB says:

    The phycobabel from AlecM , May 22, 2014 at 9:24 am, ends with “I hope this is clear.”

    Alex, are you kidding me? … Or just totally delusional?

  147. joeldshore says:

    milodonhardini:

    If GCMs even remotely accurately model earth’s climate system, then why do they fail so ludicrously? Using them to formulate policy is akin to burning witches to improve the health of children & livestock.

    They don’t fail ludicrously. There are significant uncertainties for reasons I have described but then there is also a concerted effort, driven by ideology (and, in some cases, also economic interests) to discredit them through half-truths and falsehoods, driven by the same factors that attack all science that is inconvenient to certain political, ideological, or religious views. Attacks on science by ideologues like yourself are nothing new…and all of them have very similar modis operandi (which is why, for example, the primary group defending evolution science has added the defense of climate science to its agenda).

  148. davidmhoffer says:

    AlecM;
    Calibration of these instruments must be hell because they cannot work as claimed
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

    If they didn’t work as claimed, they couldn’t be calibrated at all.

  149. Kristian says:

    rgbatduke says, May 22, 2014 at 5:14 am:

    “(…) a cosmically naive misconception of the way the GHE works.”

    Yes, that’s your misconception, Robert. The idea that the surface is forced to heat beyond solar thermal equilibrium because the atmosphere contains radiatively active gases and not simply because the atmosphere has a mass (a heat capacity) and hence is ABLE TO WARM. It is the TEMPERATURE (and specifically the temperature PROFILE, the gradient away from the solar-heated surface) of the atmosphere that makes it an insulating layer for the surface. THAT’S why the surface heat can not move out as fast as it comes in before it’s warmed beyond the non-atmo steady state.

    Energy (heat) is moved from surface to tropopause by convection, not by radiation. Try the ‘hand next to vs. above the candle flame’ trick and you’ll see what I’m referring to. That’s why the temp profile matters. The global environmental lapse rate maintained fluctuating around the adiabatic lapse rate by the tight interaction between surface solar heating and the buoyant/evaporative response.

    And then the weight of the atmosphere exerts a pressure above 0 on the surface (which space doesn’t), setting a limit to buoyant acceleration and evaporation rate (that is, a ‘sub-max’ escape rate of energy) from the surface up at a certain temperature.

    It’s sooo simple. The atmospheric warming effect on the surface has got NOTHING to do with its content of radiatively active gases. This is about a massive gas in a gravity field being warmed by the surface underneath as opposed to a situation where the same surface sits in a vacuum. OF COURSE this gas will act as insulation to the surface!

    The atmosphere would’ve warmed with OR WITHOUT the presence of these radiatively active gases, simply from being convectively coupled to the solar-heated surface. The atmosphere could, however, NOT have been adequately cooled to space without their presence. Because then radiation is crucial. So THAT’S what they do. THAT’S what they’re there for. The atmosphere warms the surface DESPITE the presence of its radiatively active gases, not BECAUSE of it.

    Petty talks about atmospheric RADIATION. That’s the problem. It doesn’t govern anything (except the ultimate cooling of the atmosphere (and hence, the earth system) to space). It is governed.

  150. Harry Passfield says:

    I hope the mods will forgive me re-posting this:

    THE BLOGGER’S LAMENT

    I’m Spartacus! Claimed AlecM,
    And my dog’s got no nose, now and then.
    I’ve never been Georgy,
    Nor even a Formby,
    But it’s quite turned out nice, once again!

    I just wonder why someone needs multiple ids to push single belief system…

  151. dbstealey says:

    joelshore says:

    Climate models “don’t fail ludicrously.”

    They certainly do. Not one multi-million dollar GCM was able to predict that global warming would stop. There has been no global warming for 17+ years now. That is a total failure.

    If models are any good, tell us when global warming will “resume”. You know, after the “pause”.

  152. Solomon Green says:

    joeldshore’s opinions are always worth considering but they would carry more weight if he had spent some time refuting Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner’s refutation of Halpern et al. (for which Professor Shore is part of et al) “Reply to “Comment on ‘Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics’ ” http://arxiv.org/abs/1012.0421 or http://www.skyfall.fr/wp-content/gerlich-reply-to-halpern.pdf
    I may have missed something but I cannot see anywhere that Halpern et al have stepped up to the batting in the last three years.

  153. Edohiguma says:

    From a computing perspective the answer is clear: No.

    We’re dealing with a huge system that has a huge amount of variables and is essentially chaotic. There is no computer that can run this. The Earth Simulators that currently exist are cute, but nowhere near what they’d have to be.

    I’m just trying to imagine the necessary hardware, not even trying to think of the programming that would have to go into this.

    Computing it or even foretelling it over decades is not possible.

  154. joeldshore says:

    No sooner do I say “there is also a concerted effort, driven by ideology (and, in some cases, also economic interests) to discredit them through half-truths and falsehoods” than dbstealey stops by to illustrate this.

    His claim that the models didn’t predict the pause is a good example of a half-truth at best:

    (1) His “17+ years now” refers to some combination of cherry-picking data sets and defining no global warming as no statistically-significant global warming. Since, it takes at least a 8 or 10 years to establish statistical significance under the best of circumstances, the “no global warming” meme is a half-truth. It will always be true under any circumstances that there has been no statistically-significant global warming for N years where N is a value that will vary according to circumstance.

    (2) His claim that no models predicted this is another example of a half-truth. Did models predict that this would occur at this particular interval of time? No, but that’s because such a prediction means that the models have to predict the actual realization of “noise” of internal variability, which is known to be extremely sensitive to initial conditions and hence not practically predictable. [It's like saying that my statistical model can't predict when I will get a particularly run of 6 heads in a row when I toss a fair coin, but that doesn't mean the statistical model for such a coin toss is a failure at predicting the statistical behavior of the results. In fact, we know in this example that it is very successful.] However, the models do predict that, due to internal variability, there will be quite long periods of no upward linear trend (and, particularly, no statistically-significant upward linear trend) even when the models have a constant increase in the radiative forcing due to greenhouse gases.

    These sort of half-truths explain the huge gulf on the issue of climate change that exists between the scientific community on the one hand and the community of naysayers like dbstealey on the other.

  155. milodonharlani says:

    joeldshore says:
    May 22, 2014 at 10:54 am

    I’m not attacking science, I’m attacking the epically failed climate models, which are as far from science as it’s possible to get. They are the antithesis of science.

    It’s preposterous to assert baselessly that they haven’t failed. Actual observations are below even the error bars of their predictions. The ideologically driven agenda is promoted by CACA activists mascaraing as scientists, playing them on Twitter rather than in real life.

    No one has been more forward on this blog in exposing the lies of creationists, whose “science” is akin to that of CACA proponents. Name the lies & half truths which you suppose I’ve committed against the One True Religion of “climate science” which is the bizarro twin of genuine science.

    CACA is going to do more damage to the reputation of science than eugenics & creation “science” put together in coming decades.

    At least you have the honesty to recognize uncertainties in “climate science”. Unfortunately its fundamental article of faith, that the primary driver of earth’s climate system is CO2, is certainly false, as has repeatedly been shown by nature. Only a false religion could be founded upon such an easily demonstrated counter-factual premise.

    My objections to the false religion of CACA isn’t ideological at all, but entirely scientific. For decades I’ve looked for even a shred of evidence in support of the unfounded assertion that most of whatever warming occurred in the 20th century was caused by human activity, but have found none. Please trot it out if you think you have some. Thanks.

    And allow me to add that I too am glad you comment here.

  156. ren says:

    Let’s see :

  157. george e. smith says:

    “””””…..
    george e. smith says:

    May 22, 2014 at 8:33 am

    “””””…..C. 50 years ago, a Meteorologist had the bright idea of using the output temperature of an optical pyrometer with an IR filter to give the S-B IR Irradiance. Pyrgeometers are calibrated against a cavity black body’s Irradiance, not a real energy flux. Their output signal is Irradiance……”””””

    Well AlecM, you clearly are NOT reading, what I am EXCEPTING from YOUR POST.

    My gripe is with your INCORRECT use of the term IRRADIANCE as a physical property of a RADIATION SOURCE. It is NOT a property of any gizmo. It is a measure of RADIATION ENERGY impinging on ANY surface; particularly a Radiation DETECTOR.

    So now you decide to compound the felony, with this gobbledegook:-

    “””””…..When incident on a plane pyrgeometer detector, the instrument outputs an approximation to Irradiance of the atmosphere but in reality it is the instrument’s internal black body Radiant Emittance minus the Radiant Emittance of the detector surface to the lower emissivity and perhaps slightly cooler atmosphere. In other words, the instrument transfers energy to the atmosphere and the convolved signal is far from the real atmospheric Radiant Emittance..

    For starters, only the ATMOSPHERE can observe the IRRADIANCE of the atmosphere; unless you have some wonderful detector, that occupies no space, and is totally transparent to ALL EM RADIATION.

    Any real detector, occupies space, and in order to measure IRRADIANCE it must absorb the radiation that falls on its sensitive surface.

    The atmosphere is irradiated over 4 pi steradians, receiving radiation from all directions. Any detector can only receive some portions of that flux.

    So now you have SOURCES measured by IRRADIANCE, plus you have DETECTORS characterized by an EMITTANCE. So now you have both of them exactly backwards.

    Perhaps you could write say just ONE paragraph on just exactly what the CONVOLVED SIGNAL is. That’s new material you have sprung on us.

    Have you ever considered writing an entry for the annual Bulwer Lytton Prize competition.

    That’s a polite title for the Bu**S*** prize. You could win it.

  158. rgbatduke says:

    They don’t fail ludicrously. There are significant uncertainties for reasons I have described but then there is also a concerted effort, driven by ideology (and, in some cases, also economic interests) to discredit them through half-truths and falsehoods, driven by the same factors that attack all science that is inconvenient to certain political, ideological, or religious views. Attacks on science by ideologues like yourself are nothing new…and all of them have very similar modis operandi (which is why, for example, the primary group defending evolution science has added the defense of climate science to its agenda).

    And we have a one-paragraph winna, folks, in Logical Fallacy Bingo:

    http://lifesnow.com/bingo/

    Love the way ya tied in religious extremism to the “concerted effort” to discredit taking the MME Mean of 36 different but closely related climate models in CMIP5, ignoring entirely the number of PPE runs contributing to the means of each being used, not considering whether or not some of the CMIP5 models might have failed an elementary hypothesis test when compared to the past and present data outside of the reference/training set, not considering the fact that the entire stack of e.g. GISS models are all closely related and hence that the statistical size of the “ensemble” (it isn’t) is much smaller than one might expect if one assumes the usual statistics of random iid samples drawn from a distribution, and then use the flat unweighted mean of this to assign “high confidence” to model derived predictions used to (try to) control the public expenditure of a few trillion dollars a decade for the next six or seven decades. Appeal to motive, appeal to consequence, appeal to ridicule, straw man, appeal to hypocrisy, appeal to spite, factually inaccurate (I, at least, am an atheist, politically disengaged, ideology free, unpaid by oil interests, etc), argumentum ad populum, appeal to fear, — Bingo!

    C’mon, you can do better than that. Whether or not the models are failing “ludicrously” is, agreed, a matter of what one wants to call a hypothesis-test p-value that I eyeball out at strictly less than 0.01 for most, but possibly not all, of the models contributing to CMIP5’s MME. Whether or not one uses emotionally weighted terminology at all, it is very difficult to argue that the models collectively or singly are proving to be particularly accurate as predictors of the climate over most of the future and the past of the reference period. See figure 9.8a in AR5 and see what you think.

    rgb

  159. AlecM says:

    @george e smith: Wow, what a response. I won’t give a long reply. Pyrgeometers do not measure a real energy flux, just Irradiance, a potential energy flux. The Trenberth et al Energy Budget is plain wrong; you can’t have a Perpetual Motion Machine. Sorry to have caused you pain.

  160. milodonharlani says:

    rgbatduke says:
    May 22, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I have been impressed by your observation that one, two or a few models have not failed ludicrously, & you’re right. But the vast majority, IMO, warrant that characterization of their obvious, glaring lack of skill.

    Maybe we could learn from something the few at most did to get results closer to reality, as adjusted.

    I’d like to amend my prior statement that climate modeling isn’t science. It would have been more accurate (or precise) to say that climate modeling can be a useful tool if the limitations are understood, assumptions are justified by observations (most surely not the case with GCMs, as for instance re. water vapor feedbacks) & are properly improved when shown to have failed, rather than changing the data or selecting new start dates for more predictions, as in “climate science” modeling.

    The abject failure of GCMs is why I’m supporting Congressman David McKinley’s amendment to cut funding for the worst waste, abuse & fraud in climate “science”. The tens to hundreds of billions thrown away so far are only the tip of the iceberg, since the results of climate “science” to date have led to policies wasting on the order of a trillion dollars & costing lives.

    Contrary to Joel’s accusation, I’m defending science, not attacking it by getting on this political band wagon. I favor spending public funds on real science, not dangerous junk designed to increase the power of bureaucrats & promote the careers of phony “scientists” who so disdain the scientific method.

  161. milodonharlani says:

    PS: I quantified “ludicrous” as outside the models’ error bars”, but IMO the Latinate adjective also applies to starting over with new predictions using the same models (akin to Einstein’s definition of insanity) & to the laughably unscientific practice of adjusting data instead of the models’ parameters. The Latin origin of its etymology (probably from the word for a stage play) also puts me in mind of “travesty”, ie, dressed to deceive, cognate with “transvestite”.

  162. Curt says:

    AlecM — Your whole argument boils down to this:

    You prefer to calculate the heat transfer with an equation in the form of

    d = a * (b – c)

    (The instruments you deal with effectively use this form as well.)

    A lot of other people prefer to use an equation in the form of

    d = (a * b) – (a * c)

    You claim they are completely wrong to do so!

    To put particular values on this (using numbers you have used – the exact numbers are not important), a lot of people say that the earth’s surface is radiating 396 W/m^2 up (a * b) and the atmosphere is radiating 333 W/m^2 down (a * c). You say, “No, no, no! That’s all wrong! It’s just 63 W/m^2 up [a * (b - c)]!”

    At best, you have a semantic quibble. The end result of the two calculations is the same – don’t you remember the distributive property that we all learned when we were 8 or 9 years old in math class?

    But the bigger point is that the second form represents the underlying physical reality better. In radiative heat exchange between two bodies, there really are two opposing radiation “flows”, each carrying energy. We understand these down to the photon level, with e = h * v. Radiation absorbed by either body adds to the internal energy of that body (even if it originates from a body of lower temperature); radiation emitted by either body subtracts from the internal energy of that body.

    In this exchange, ALWAYS more radiative power from the higher-temperature body is absorbed by the lower-temperature body than radiative power from the lower-temperature body is absorbed by the higher-temperature body. So there is no 2nd Law violation in this radiative exchange. The NET transfer is always from hotter to colder.

    For purposes of calculating the net heat transfer, it is a nice analytical abstraction to treat the two temperatures as relative potentials (as with voltages in an electric circuit or pressures in a fluid system), then treat the resulting heat transfer as a single unidirectional flow, like a fluid. I use this abstraction all the time. But it is an abstraction – I have not ever found a single reference to a “heaton” carrying this one-directional flow. Or did you study this stuff so long ago that the caloric theory was still in vogue?

  163. Curt says:

    Kristian: You say, “It is the TEMPERATURE (and specifically the temperature PROFILE, the gradient away from the solar-heated surface) of the atmosphere that makes it an insulating layer for the surface.”

    For an atmosphere that is transparent to radiation, what is it insulating the surface from? The vacuum of space?

  164. Bill Illis says:

    Take any cubic foot of the atmosphere. The energy is flying around in every single direction, bouncing around in thousands of different directions within that cubic foot. Some of the energy is traveling by way of em radiation photons, some through molecular collisional exchange.

    Trillions of photons are traversing that cubic foot every millisecond and trillions of molecular collisions are occurring every millisecond.

    Back-radiation is what any gas in a cubic foot will do. Back- radiation is what any liquid will do and what any solid will do, including a glacial ice sheet.

    The solar energy is mostly moving down to the Earth’s surface in that square foot of air (even in cloud). The balancing outgoing radiation is mostly going up and out to space.

    There is lag between the solar radiation coming in and the outgoing radiation going out. It is migrating its way through trillions of molecules first. The average delay is about 44 hours. How come “time” is not a component of the equations.

    Time delay and the randomness of radiation flow within a cubic foot of air is a better description of the real universe than backradiation.

  165. milodonharlani says:

    Bill Illis says:
    May 22, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    FWIW, I find this description of reality compelling.

  166. joeldshore says:

    Curt: Just wanted to commend you on your very nice and concise summary (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/21/is-the-climate-computable/#comment-1643722) of what is wrong with AlecM’s confused rantings in this thread.

  167. milodonharlani says:

    joeldshore says:
    May 22, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Look forward to your clarification on confused rantings on this thread. Especially do I anticipate your presentation of actual scientific evidence in support of the hypothesis that carbon dioxide is the primary driver of climate change. I know for a fact that it is the primary driver of grant money for climate “science”.

    Thanks.

  168. milodonharlani says:

    To paraphrase the first movie I remember seeing:

    “Come back, Shore! Come back!”

  169. davidmhoffer says:

    milodonharlani;
    Especially do I anticipate your presentation of actual scientific evidence in support of the hypothesis that carbon dioxide is the primary driver of climate change.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Two separate issues. While we may disagree with Joel in regards to CO2’s effects, AlecM’s claims are preposterous as both RGB and JD and others have already pointed out. Curt is entirely correct. We should not tolerate AlecM’s complete tripe if we want the science world and the public at large to take skeptics seriously. If someone claims that 2+2=5, I really don’t care if they are a skeptic or a warmist, they are just wrong.

  170. Somebody says:

    “Or did you study this stuff so long ago that the caloric theory was still in vogue?”

    Well, maybe he learned it from the ‘science’ experts. The ‘science’ still uses the caloric theory. It’s full of ‘heat trapped’, ‘heat stored’… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caloric_theory

  171. Kristian says:

    Bill Illis says, May 22, 2014 at 6:05 pm:

    “There is lag between the solar radiation coming in and the outgoing radiation going out. It is migrating its way through trillions of molecules first. The average delay is about 44 hours. How come “time” is not a component of the equations.

    Time delay and the randomness of radiation flow within a cubic foot of air is a better description of the real universe than backradiation.”

    You’re on to something, Bill. The point is, though, that the delay in outgoing as compared to incoming (solar) – at a certain surface temperature – is because of the slowness of moving air against gravity, not ‘moving’ radiation. Convection is what brings the surface energy up to a level where it CAN be radiated back to space. Energy to space is going out as radiation from whatever level convection brings it. Earth’s own thermal radiation is temperature governed, not temperature governing. It’s called ‘thermal radiation’ because it’s caused by temperature, not because it causes temperature.

    The atmosphere sure does act as an insulating layer around the earth. No doubt. But this insulating effect stems from two things, the same two mechanisms that ALL normal insulation work by: 1) it sets a limit to the energy escape rate from the surface – at a certain temperature – by the fact that it is able to warm (the surface warms it and thereby sets up a less than max temp gradient away from itself, unlike space, which ISN’T able to warm), and 2) it sets a limit to the energy escape rate from the surface – at a certain temperature – by countering its direct and coupled buoyant/evaporative response to solar heating, meaning these rates become finite (‘sub-max’) for a specific temperature and a specific atmospheric weight (downward force) on the surface. The atmosphere simply exerts a pressure on the surface above 0. Space doesn’t. The heavier the atmosphere, the higher the pressure, the higher the steady-state surface temperature.

    At some point, atmospheric science and meteorology turned into a ‘radiation physics’ playground. Now the meme has become: ‘If you understand atmospheric radiation, then you understand why the atmosphere warms the surface.’ Robert Brown promotes this idea just upthread by trying to ‘push’ Getty’s radiation textbook on us ignorants. ‘Solve the differential equations and you will see the light!’ That’s the problem, if you’ve got the base premise wrong, maths won’t help you. It will just reinforce your flawed preconceptions.

  172. AlecM says:

    @davidmhoffer: ‘2+2=5’!

    Readers, the above post completely misrepresents the situation. The Trenberth-Kiehl energy budget, which appears to be the basis of the radiant energy heat generation term in the IPCC climate models, creates energy by using an incorrect radiative heat transfer concept.

    This is to confuse individual Irradiances, from and to the surface of the Earth, with real net IR energy transfer, the vector sum of those irradiances. There is no way out of this. The K-T assumption gives 3+(-2) = 5; standard physics gives the correct 3 + (-2) =1. The former is a Perpetual Motion Machine of the 2nd Kind. The latter can be proved by simple wave theory.

    As time goes on and there continues to be no Global Warming from the extra ~16% CO2 so far from 1997, there can be no ‘missing heat’ into the oceans: it never existed in the first place. It also appears to be the case that the non-feedback CO2 climate sensitivity is lower than 1.2 K.

    I have asked the protagonists above, and I do so again, is there a physics or engineering reference which proves, by calorimetry, that the opposing Irradiance terms at a plane between two IR emitters in radiative equilibrium are separate energy streams? The ‘Two-stream approximation’, which gets the correct result in programmes like, e.g. MODTRAN works because the opposing ‘streams’ add as vectors. You have to do the same at the interface between matter and the atmosphere.

    The K-T Energy Budget does not do this, which is why it goes wrong. It appears to be because someone in the dim distant past confused Irradiance for a real energy flow and concluded the IR term in the energy flow from the surface to the atmosphere had to be set to this, an assumption which cannot be justified in practice. As the IPCC climate modelling appears to be based on this misconception, it is no wonder that the predictions are diverging from reality. There is no way out and sooner or later this nettle has to be grasped.

    PS I have had to accept many insults from the protagonists of this incorrect physics. However, it is my duty as a scientist sworn to objectivity and honesty to continue to press the point. I could still be wrong but the greater the ad hominem slurs and blustering, with no scientific backuo, the more I’m convinced I’m right!

  173. Kristian says:

    george e. smith says, May 22, 2014 at 1:36 pm:

    The point is this, George: Pyrgeometers do not detect ‘impinging radiation’ from the atmosphere unless the atmosphere happens to be WARMER than their sensor. Pyrgeometers detect the heat flux TO or FROM their sensor. Pyrgeometer warmer than the atmosphere, the heat flux is negative. The ‘downward component’ of any radiative exchange is then CALCULATED using a specified black body formula based on 1) the detected outgoing heat flux, and 2) the absolute temperature of the sensor. This is no secret.

    In spectrometers/interferometers the sensors are COOLED to extremely low temperatures. OF COURSE they would detect impinging radiation from the atmosphere. The atmosphere is warmer than the sensor. Heat (also ‘radiative heat’) moves from warmer to cooler. This is not ‘back radiation’. The sensor does not heat the atmosphere. This is ‘forward radiation’. Heat.

    It is physically impossible to separately detect either the upward or the downward component of a radiative exchange. It’s in their nature. They are both part of an integrated (indivisible) radiation field between the two objects in question. You can’t pick out one wavefront moving through it and leave the other. Only the (net) FLOW/transfer of energy from the warmer to the cooler object is a physically real working flux. Like an electric current. Like wind. From high to low potential. Always. Individual electrons or air molecules of course fly in all directions all the time. But that doesn’t change the fact that the (bulk) FLOW moves only one way.

    I really don’t get why people have such a hard time understanding this.

  174. Kristian says:

    What’s strange is this: Why do all radiation diagrams pointing down show the radiation coming specifically from the frequency bands of the so-called ‘GHGs’, while radiation diagrams pointing up show the opposite, the radiation coming specifically NOT from the so-called ‘GHG’ frequency bands? Wouldn’t it still be the ‘GHGs’ actually emitting the radiation to space? Absorbing AND emitting IR?

    Look, the ‘GHGs’ clearly absorb IR radiation in their respective spectral bands, they do not necessarily reemit it in the same bands. They normally don’t have the time. They collide with other air molecules before they can. Contributing to the atmospheric temperature. The radiation we observe is ‘bulk temperature’ radiation, not ‘spectral reemission’ radiation.

  175. Anthony Watts says:

    OK this started off on computing and chaos and has deteriorated into the usual idiotic there is no backradiation arguments from slayers. Thread closed, since we all have better things to do thank moderate this dreck.

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