Reuters: World Meteorological Organization says "This year so far coolest for at least 5 years"

Finally some recognition of all the anecdotal weather we’ve been talking about here – Anthony

World Meteorological Organization Logo

World Meteorological Organization

Thu Aug 21, 2008 1:15am IST

LONDON (Reuters) – The first half of 2008 was the coolest for at least five years, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Wednesday.

The whole year will almost certainly be cooler than recent years, although temperatures remain above the historical average.

Global temperatures vary annually according to natural cycles. For example, they are driven by shifting ocean currents, and dips do not undermine the case that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are causing long-term global warming, climate scientists say.

Chillier weather this year is partly because of a global weather pattern called La Nina that follows a periodic warming effect called El Nino.

“We can expect with high probability this year will be cooler than the previous five years,” said Omar Baddour, responsible for climate data and monitoring at the WMO.

“Definitely the La Nina should have had an effect, how much we cannot say.”

“Up to July 2008, this year has been cooler than the previous five years at least. It still looks like it’s warmer than average,” added Baddour.

The global mean temperature to end-July was 0.28 degrees Celsius above the 1961-1990 average, the UK-based MetOffice Hadley Centre for climate change research said on Wednesday. That would make the first half of 2008 the coolest since 2000.

“Of course at the beginning of the year there was La Nina, and that would have had the effect of suppressing temperatures somewhat as well,” Met Office meteorologist John Hammond said. 

Full story at Reuters

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Alec DesRoches
August 21, 2008 8:16 am

Didn’t the LaNina end LAST month???
From the Reuters story:
>…”But actually La Nina is showing signs of moving towards a more neutral state.”
The weakening of the La Nina effect over the last few months could see the global mean temperature creep up again in the latter part of the year, he added….<
But didn’t the La Nina end in July?????
http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears.shtml
El Niño-Southern Oscillation conditions continued neutral through July in the tropical Pacific Ocean, ending the La Niña event that began in mid-2007.
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2008/20080815_ncdc.html

darwin
August 21, 2008 8:19 am

“Chillier weather this year is partly because of a global weather pattern called La Nina that follows a periodic warming effect called El Nino.”
Uh … gee, don’t they just shoot themselves in the foot with this statement? They just linked any past warming to a natural event.

Clark
August 21, 2008 8:26 am

“For example, they are driven by shifting ocean currents, and dips do not undermine the case that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are causing long-term global warming, climate scientists say.”
Do all climate scientists say that? Are they any that say anything else?

Barney
August 21, 2008 8:31 am

The “continued” link to read the rest of the article isn’t working. I found the complete article here:
http://www.climatechangefraud.com/content/view/2032/218/
REPLY: Fixed, thanks

Stephen Richards
August 21, 2008 8:37 am

Read the report carefully, very carefully.
They are saying global warming continues but is masked by a natural climatic event called La Nina. Warming is not over.
What they failed to say was that this cooling event totally overwhelmed the AGW warming of the last decade or so. They also did not elaborate further by saying what % of the warming this last 150 years was therefore AGW and due to all the poisons we humans put into the atmosphere, eg Co², etc.
They also say that the cooling is only partly caused by La Nina without going on to say what else had contributed to the cooling.
Interesting eh?

Robert Wood
August 21, 2008 8:56 am

although temperatures remain above the historical average
They just can’t help themselves, can they. What historical average?

MIke Sander
August 21, 2008 9:32 am

Very interesting….no mention of the quiet sun either (that I could see).
The Hockey Stick is looking more like a pool cue.
But still, some admission, however half-hearted of the facts about recent cooling, is a step forward. The Emperor has been butt-naked for years and finally they acknowledge he isn’t wearing a coat!

KW
August 21, 2008 9:34 am

Finally some of the die-hards are begining to warm to the possibility of other reasons for cooling, even if it is a short term (5 years in their book) trend.
Time will tell the (absolutely) best what happens in the future.
We won’t.

Richard deSousa
August 21, 2008 9:51 am

No mention of the PDO or AMO turning negative either. If these two events are indeed strengthening then we will see a continuing of the cool climate phase for the next decade or two. According to the AGW crowd CO2 is such a powerful gas yet overwhelmed by the natural climate cycle? And if the sunspots keep disappearing watch out for a colder climate too. Energy demands will rise as the countries in the northern hemisphere will need to keep their citizens from freezing… bye bye Kyoto and Al Gore’s scheme to make millions from carbon trading.

dearieme
August 21, 2008 9:52 am

“The first half of 2008 was the coolest for at least five years”: OK, an apparently factual statement, inviting a reasoned debate on how measurements are made, averages are taken, and so on.
“The whole year will almost certainly be cooler than recent years”: ruddy madness, in my view. Why not just wait a few months and then we’ll know? It’s reminiscent of the attention paid to all those barmy forecasts of how hurricaney a summer will be. Bin it! Wait for the facts.

Editor
August 21, 2008 9:55 am

Do all climate scientists say that? Are they any that say anything else?
I think most scientist admit there is a (very small) direct CO2 effect. CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The amount of carbon in the atmospheric sink is increasing.
But this begs the question of whether positive feedback loops have been falsified. From what I can tell, they have been. If this is true, then CO2 has a real, but minuscule (and geometrically decreasing) effect on the longterm trend.

Editor
August 21, 2008 10:01 am

What they failed to say was that this cooling event totally overwhelmed the AGW warming of the last decade or so.
You know, I don’t think it has been a cooling event: Just a lacl of continuing warming events.
From 1977 to 2001 the “big 6” multidecadal cycles (PDO, IPO, AMO, AO, AAO, NAO) all flipped from cool to warm, one by one. By 2001 all of them were “on warm”, so levels remained highm, but there was no further warming.
Now the PDO has flipped to cool, the AO may be in the process of reversal (two decades ahead of schedule) and the rest have nowhere to go but down.
So, yes, I predict we are going into a reverse-process cooling trend.
(And then there’s the “dead sun” . . . )

Steven Talbot
August 21, 2008 10:02 am

darwin,
You say
Uh … gee, don’t they just shoot themselves in the foot with this statement? They just linked any past warming to a natural event.
See this 1998 NOAA statement:

Vice President Gore and NOAA scientists announced today that The 1997/98 El Niño, one of the most significant climatic events of the century, produced extreme weather worldwide.

http://www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov/stories/sir3.html
So you see scientists (and Gore) described the natural influences contributing to the 1998 peak just as they have described the natural influences contributing to a La Nina low. You should be sceptical about any claims made to the contrary, and look up the evidence.

August 21, 2008 10:04 am

There is a disagreement between the two sources in the article on a very simple point. The WMO says, “The first half of 2008 was the coolest for at least 5 years,” while the Hadley Centre says, “That would make the first half of 2008 the coolest since 2000.” Maybe the WMO qualified their statement with the use of “at least.”
I also enjoyed the next to last paragraph: “The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of hundreds of scientists, last year said global warming was “unequivocal” and that manmade greenhouse gas emissions were very likely part of the problem.” …part of the problem.

Editor
August 21, 2008 10:04 am

The Hockey Stick is looking more like a pool cue.
Or a boomerang (with the MWP and Modern Optimum on each end and the LIA in the middle).

Jack Simmons
August 21, 2008 10:10 am

“Chillier weather this year is partly because of a global weather pattern called La Nina that follows a periodic warming effect called El Nino.”
And what drives these and other global weather patterns that are cooling the globe?

Editor
August 21, 2008 10:12 am

This is actually a very significant story. Yeah, there are various cop-outs. But it looks as if it’s a NY Times/Tierney process of letting the readership down ever so gently. If they can do it delicately enough, the whole story will just slooooowly fade away.
But after all the sanctimony and the political shenanigans, I don’t think we intend to let the issue die quietly, do we? “Create” THIS, buddy! “Flatten” THIS!

Bern Bray
August 21, 2008 10:27 am

Shouldn’t the models have predicted the changes due to La Nina/El Nino? All I see in the hockey stick is an increase.
Also, scientists have said that the warming due to CO2 has overwhelmed any natural variation. If this is the case, how can La Nina show any effect?
I’m confused.

J. Peden
August 21, 2008 10:30 am

My “denialist” spin on some of the article’s confusing statements: if, “The whole year will almost certainly be cooler than recent years” [WMO/Reuters], and the first half of 2007 [when the whole year’s anomaly took a very drastic dive] was actually warmer than the first half of 2000, as implied by Hadley’s/Reuter’s, “That would make the first half of 2008 the coolest since 2000”, one would think that the GW “alarmists” ought to be getting pretty got dam alarmed right about now – if only in regard to their sine qua non contention that the Globe is “really” continuing to warm regardless of the cause, and despite Hadley’s/Reuter’s cherry-picked, possibly irrelevant factoid that, “The global mean temperature to end-July was 0.28 degrees Celsius above the 1961-1990 average….”
Perhaps just as in the case when you are haltingly descending a mountain you have just climbed, when you also sometimes have to go up in order to go down, Global Cooling probably won’t occur all at once, either, right?

Andrea
August 21, 2008 11:07 am

The Reuters article failed to mention the PDO flip to a cool phase.
http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/nasa-pdo-flip-to-cool-phase-confirmed-cooler-times-ahead/

Pete
August 21, 2008 11:13 am

BBC also http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7574603.stm Unusual reporting (for him) from Mr Black there.

John-X
August 21, 2008 11:15 am

There are going to be more reports like this.
It’s a little difficult to hide the truth, no matter how the data are “adjusted.”
They’re still going to try to keep their dead god, “AGW” on life support, as this Reuters story shows.
The cold, you see, is just “masking” the warming.
So, um, it’s still getting warmer, but it’s just that it’s getting colder at the same time that it’s getting warmer, but the warming is really stronger than the cooling, so even though it’s colder, it’s actually warmer.
And all the scientists agree with that, except the kooks, and those being paid by Big Oil.
I think the work of Dr. Karin Labitzke, over more than 20 years
http://strat-www.met.fu-berlin.de/labitzke/
clearly shows a well-established correlation between low solar activity… (which we have at present, though Cycle 24 just may, MAY have formed a tiny spot today –
http://sidc.oma.be/LatestSWData/LatestSWData.php
…a west-phase QBO (which we are now in), and cold climate in the northern hemisphere.
The fact that Cycle 23 is already more than 12 years old, in my opinion, (not necessary to say, “IMHO,” as my opinion is ALWAYS very humble) will mean we have a “price to pay” this winter.
I expect conditions this winter to be reminiscent of the harsh winters of the 1970s.
It will require increasing creativity to keep ‘weekend-at-bernies’ AGW propped up through a long, bitterly cold (quote me – RECORD cold) winter, but I have no doubt it will be seriously attempted.
Expect more news stories like this one, as well as not merely straight-faced, but SMUG pundits and talking heads ridiculing us rubes who are too stupid to understand that colder is still warmer, that nature has nothing to do with climate, or that (Ha!) AGW is “over.”

M White
August 21, 2008 11:28 am

Beginnings of a sunspot appearing.
http://www.spaceweather.com/
Is it a 23 or a 24?
REPLY: 23, and small so far.

Gary Plyler
August 21, 2008 11:49 am

Do I have this correct?
El Nino and La Nina events are heat tranfer mechanisms, they are not sources of thermal energy. The source would be the sun.
In El Nino cycles, more thermal energy is transfered from the ocean surface to the atmosphere than occurs during La Nina cycles.
If we are being heated by GHGs, yet the atmosphere is cooling due to a La Nina, then somewhere the thermal energy of the ocean must be increasing, so that that thermal energy can build up and then be released to the atmosphere during the next El Nino.
However, the ARGOS bouys have not shown enough increase in the ocean thermal energy to account for or support the GHG theory.
Do I have that right?

dreamin
August 21, 2008 11:51 am

We can expect with high probability this year will be cooler than the previous five years,” said Omar Baddour, responsible for climate data and monitoring at the WMO.
As we used to say in grade school, NO SH*T SHERLOCK.
These jokers are wonderful at making predictions after the fact.

Gary Plyler
August 21, 2008 11:56 am

Of course, it could be that during El Nino, less thermal energy is being transferred from the atmosphere to the oceans and during La Nina, more thermal energy is being transferred from the atmosphere to the oceans. Stll, shouldn,’t the ocean thermal energy content increase during La Nina events, like the current 6+ year long decline in atmospheric temperature?

iceFree
August 21, 2008 12:18 pm

I read that link you provided Steve, and read Gores statement.
According to him things should be much worse than has happened
In the last decade.
“This report is a reminder once again that global warming is real, and that unless we act, we can expect more extreme weather in the years ahead.”
It is years ahead and he is wrong just like his movie

John-X
August 21, 2008 12:27 pm

And yes, it CAN get worse than a Dalton Minimum and “Dickensian Winters;” worse than a Maunder Minimum and “Little Ice Age”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migration_Period_Pessimum
This period is known as “Bond Event 1.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bond_event
“Bond Events” occur about every 1500 years.

Steven Talbot
August 21, 2008 12:41 pm

iceFree,
My point is that it is not true that scientists somehow didn’t mention the positive effect of El Nino in 97/98 but are now mentioning the negative effects of La Nina. 97/98 was way above trend, and there are plenty of contemporary scientist’s statements accounting for that at the time by reference to natural variation (go google!). By all means question whether or not the globe is still warming, but please don’t build (I’m not saying that you are) a case against scientists on the basis of a demonstrable lie.

Joel Shore
August 21, 2008 1:00 pm

Bern Bray says: “Shouldn’t the models have predicted the changes due to La Nina/El Nino? All I see in the hockey stick is an increase.”
The models don’t predict the EXACT OCCURRENCE of these sort of short-term fluctuations, which are very sensitive to the initial conditions. However, the same sort of fluctuations that are seen in the real climate system are also seen in the models and so the statement you make implying a monotonic increase in the models is false. (See here: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/05/what-the-ipcc-models-really-say/langswitch_lang/en for further discussion.)
Bern Bray says: “Also, scientists have said that the warming due to CO2 has overwhelmed any natural variation. If this is the case, how can La Nina show any effect?”
What scientists have said is that the long-term global temperature trend (on the timescale of decades) is now dominated by CO2. They haven’t said that this trend overwhelms all the natural variability that occurs on the timescale of a few years. In fact, it would be a very strange claim for them to make given (as I noted above) that the models clearly don’t predict this.

Steven Talbot
August 21, 2008 1:29 pm

The dice analogy should do – if you throw the die fifty times then you can expect the average of your throws to approach the prediction. If you throw it another three times and get three low scores, does that ‘falsify’ the prediction? The die range, 1 to 6, is much greater than the variation you can expect in the average, especially so as you go on throwing over a longer accumulative sequence.
Most of the noise about recent temperatures is based on an analysis of the last few throws, rather than a consideration of the entire sequence.

John-X
August 21, 2008 1:35 pm

Joel Shore (13:00:01) :
Thank you for endorsing the idea that the climate models are not up to the task of simulating the real climate, including the “short term fluctuations” of the past 10 years, and indeed are not intended to be.
However, I must take exception to your assertion that scientists do not overstate the importance of CO2 and understate the importance of natural variability. That statement is demonstrably false. Please see Anthony’s posts on the whole CCSP USP “synthesis” issue for an object example.
Your “backpedaling” (if I may so characterize it – yes, I may) on behalf of, apparently, the entire “consensus” community, I do find encouraging, so thank you for that as well.

Gil
August 21, 2008 1:37 pm

I see that temperature data is still based on the anomoly of the 30 year period between 1961 and 1990. When will they change the base period to 1971 to 2000? Is it because they know the anomoly will drop because the base period will be warmer?
It seems like the base period will have to change eventually.

Ray
August 21, 2008 1:44 pm

Do they want a real positive feed back? Although we could call it negative… If we are going into a cooling period, there will be less water in the air… less clouds! Water liquid and vapor in the atmosphere is the greatest greenhouse gas that account for our comfortable temperature of average 15C. Take away the atmospheric water and you will see that it will get closer than -15 C. The less water in the air, the less heat gets trapped.
Have you ever noticed that in the middle of winter those days when the sky is blue are really cold?

MattN
August 21, 2008 1:48 pm

I have 2008 so far in ~20th place out of the last 30, according to UAH and RSS data.

John-X
August 21, 2008 1:54 pm

” Steven Talbot (13:29:34) :
Most of the noise about recent temperatures is based on an analysis of the last few throws, rather than a consideration of the entire sequence. ”
Let me see if I follow the analogy…
temperature data are used _selectively_ as though to “prove” an outcome which in reality has been predetermined, and motivated by something other than a desire to get the truth, whether that truth is “inconvenient” or not…
that there’s really much more to the temperature story than the predetermined, ulterior-motive result, and we must consider the “entire sequence,” including inconvenient truths such, oh, I dunno, the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age, solar variability, the real warming power of CO2, which drops off exponentially after the first 20 or so ppmv…
Or are you simply using “dice” to argue that trillions of dollar are being spent on what is essentially a crap shoot?
I tell you, the irony is so appetizing, that I really must be careful not to gorge myself.
I know the feast is just beginning.

Steven Talbot
August 21, 2008 1:56 pm

John-X.
Thank you for endorsing the idea that the climate models are not up to the task of simulating the real climate, including the “short term fluctuations” of the past 10 years, and indeed are not intended to be.
They’re not intended to predict the weather (although GCMs are now being involved in that, with promising results)! Nobody has ever pretended otherwise! GCM runs of future long-term climate are not even base-lined in any detail against current real-world conditions. So what? They include ENSO, variation, for example, but have no interest in predicting its timing. It’s true they didn’t ‘predict’ the recent La Nina (they didn’t try to), but just as true they didn’t predict the 97/98 El Nino (they didn’t try to). In terms of long-term development, the timing is of no consequence whatsoever. You seem to be very delighted to have confirmed that the models are not doing what nobody ever suggested they were supposed to do.

Richard deSousa
August 21, 2008 1:57 pm

MWhite: As I understand it, if the new sunspot has a reverse polarity then it’s the start of sunspot cycle #24 otherwise it’s still part of SC #23.

KW
August 21, 2008 2:19 pm

RealClimate’s opinion is so one sided.
There most recent blog entry, discussing whether or not to listen to geologists in regards to climate, I wrote this back. It doesn’t mean much, unless you agree with me:
In the long run, I’m not afraid of a warming planet. It sounds unfrightening to me, really.
An ice age sounds much more difficult to survive through.
Those are the deadline facts.
Now…if you get off on arguing who’s more intelligent or right…then by all means, do so.
Happiness found in other useful pursuits, is infinitely more important to me than being right about evil humans and all that they do on a planet for an infinitely insignificant speck of time.

manacker
August 21, 2008 2:30 pm

Followed Steven Talbot’s advice and “looked up the evidence” concerning newsworthiness of the 1997/1998 ENSO event then and now.
Now that there has been no warming for the past 8 (or 10 years), it has become fashionable to emphasize that 1998 was an unusual ENSO (and therefore an all-time warm) year. I can Google at least 10 recent articles, in particular on AGW-friendly sites that tell me this.
This was not the case back in 2001, when IPCC published its TAR (SPM).
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/climate-changes-2001/synthesis-spm/synthesis-spm-en.pdf
“The atmospheric concentrations of key anthropogenic greenhouse gases (i.e. carbon dioxide …) reached their highest recorded levels in the 1990s, primarily due to the combustion of fossil fuels …”
“Globally it is very likely that the 1990s was the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in the instrumental record …”
No mention is made of ENSO.
Going into more detail in the WG1 technical report:
http://www.grida.no/CLIMATE/IPCC_TAR/wg1/pdf/WG1_TAR-FRONT.PDF
1998 is mentioned six times (pp. 2,3,26,28,35,56) as the “warmest year” (of the instrumental record or of the millenium). The 1990s are mentioned as “the warmest decade” five times and the years 1995, 1997 and 1998 are mentioned as the “warmest globally”.
On p.26 there is a single mention of “high global temperature associated with the 1997 to 1998 El Niño event”.
A 1998 report by Tom Karl, Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). cited the warm year 1997, with mention of anthropogenic warming, but no mention of ENSO.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/01/980113062713.htm
In another (2000) report emphasizing human impact on climate Karl wrote:
“there is only a one-in-20 chance that the string of record high temperatures in 1997-1998 was simply an unusual event, rather than a change point, the start of a new and faster ongoing trend.”
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000222103553.htm
In testimony (2001) before the US Senate, Karl stated, “The 1990s are likely to have been the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year of the past 1000 years.” No mention was made of ENSO.
http://www.senate.gov/~gov_affairs/071801_karl.htm
The 1997/1998 ENSO event was not “big news” back when it occurred and shortly thereafter.
It has only become a “hot news item” since there has been no subsequent warming since then.
Max

manacker
August 21, 2008 2:34 pm

Message to Steve Talbot
You wrote that CGMs were not intended to predict future climate change.
Check out AR4 WG1 Chapter 10, Figure 10.4
This shows various GCM scenario projections to the year 2300!
Yes, I said 2300!
How absurd.
Max

Admin
August 21, 2008 2:37 pm

Back then it was also referred to as the El Nino event and was trumpeted constantly.
I’m not going to look up the references, but I remember that winter, the late late opening of Tioga pass (July 1st–I drove it that day) and all the subsequent floods with the term “El Nino” always in the headlines.
I also remember NASA stating that ’98 was the warmest temperatures since the 30’s, not warmer, but that release has long been pulled from the web and no, I do not have a copy.

Steven Talbot
August 21, 2008 2:41 pm

manacker,
Here are some more references for you:
A persistent El Niño in the first half of the year and the unprecedented warmth of the Indian Ocean contributed to this record warm year.
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/1998/ann/ann98.html
The 1998 warmth was associated partly with a strong El Niño that warmed the air over the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean in the first half of the year and in turn affected weather around the world.
http://www.junkscience.com/dec98/smash.htm (quoting NASA)
In 1998, under the influence of an extremely strong El Niño episode, the annual global temperature surged beyond every other year on record.
http://www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov/releases2006/jan06/noaa06-013.html
Enough already. Get sceptical!

Steven Talbot
August 21, 2008 2:43 pm

manacker,
Message to Steve Talbot
You wrote that CGMs were not intended to predict future climate change.

No I didn’t. Care to try quoting me?

Steven Talbot
August 21, 2008 2:45 pm

jeez,
Back then it was also referred to as the El Nino event and was trumpeted constantly
Exactly so – I think we’re in agreement on this, though perhaps not in other judgments! 🙂

Steven Talbot
August 21, 2008 2:50 pm

manacker,
Btw, I wrote a detailed response to your googling post with evidence of scientists statements from the time, but it seems to have been eaten by the spam filter 🙁 Can’t be bothered again -you’ll select what you want to, I’m sure.

Joel Shore
August 21, 2008 2:58 pm

jeez says: “I also remember NASA stating that ‘98 was the warmest temperatures since the 30’s, not warmer, but that release has long been pulled from the web and no, I do not have a copy.”
You are probably remembering a statement about the temperatures in the contiguous U.S. as opposed to the global temperatures. Globally, 1998 was (at the time and still now) clearly warmer than it was in the 1930s.

Joel Shore
August 21, 2008 3:04 pm

KW says: “Happiness found in other useful pursuits, is infinitely more important to me than being right about evil humans and all that they do on a planet for an infinitely insignificant speck of time.”
I find this sort of attitude strange. Of course it is true that on timescales of millions of years, what we do on the earth over the next century isn’t going to be all that important. (It may have a dramatic effect if we cause mass extinctions, but new species will eventually evolve as they have before.)
However, on the other hand, you can apply this same logic to anything. Do you think it matters particularly to the long term fate of the earth if terrorists fly airplanes into buildings or Saddam Hussein has WMDs or whether social security or medicare can pay their obligations? The point is that we don’t live on the timescale of millions of years and I find it rather strange that some of the same people who get so worked up about the things that I mentioned can somehow be so sanguine about some of these environmental problems like climate change.

iceFree
August 21, 2008 3:09 pm

Steve Talbot: I just don’t know what to say, you talk of trends. I just look at
a longer time frame that’s all. I don’t think that NASA has studyed it long enough to know one way, or the other. “97/98 was way above trend” on what
time frame? Can you tell me with 100% certaincy an El Nino like that has never happened before? At some time in past history?

Mike Bryant
August 21, 2008 3:19 pm

It’s easy to be unconcerned about climate change. If the climate never changed, that would be something to be concerned about. Climate change is NOT an environmental problem. The climate has always changed, get used to it. If you do not realize that the climate changes, you must be very young and not very well-read.

August 21, 2008 3:26 pm

Er, wasn’t 1934 warmer globally than 1998?
That’s the problem with small samples, they’re not really any good for worthwhile extrapoloation.

Richard deSousa
August 21, 2008 3:26 pm

This may be a little off topic but I noted the Russian invasion of Georgia is finally rippling through the oil futures market. Yep, prices are climbing again. But if the climate trend continues to cool and if we are heading for a Maunder or Dalton Minimum the oil fields in Siberia won’t be worth squat as it will be too cold to drill. We ain’t seen nothing yet on rising oil prices when Russia’s oil fields become non productive in the near future.

Tom Klein
August 21, 2008 3:41 pm

Steve Talbot,
You mentioned the quality and predictions of the models. Based on your optimism and confidence in the models, do you honestly believe that we will have a 3 degree Celsius temperature rise by 2100 ( mid value of the IPCC projection ) ? ( Not that either one of us will be around to confirm it ). Carbon dioxide is rising monotonically, so he most likely value – assuming that all 20th century temperature rise was due to carbon dioxide alone would be 0.7degree celsius or less. To project more than that, the IPCC had to postulate to the existence of positive feedback. Learning about the fact that a positive feedback mechanism was used to predict temperatures greater than 1.4 degree celsius ( for doubling of CO2, 0.7 for the 20th and 0.7 for the 21st century ) turned me into a skeptic, as the existence of positive feedback is incompatible with a stable system like the climate.

Jared
August 21, 2008 3:42 pm

Steven Talbot…
I noticed this blurb in that article you linked:
“During the past few decades, global temperatures have persistently broken previous record highs every few years, but never to the extent observed in 1998. Each month this year has set a new all-time record high global temperature (FIGURE 2). This is unprecedented and is not likely to occur in a stationary climate.”
Hmmm…so since they basically attributed the extreme warmth of 1998 to global warming in this statement (admitting the context of El Nino, but claiming that the magnitude of what was occurring basically proved AGW), doesn’t the fact that 1998’s records have not been broken since indicate that the climate has become more “stationary” since then? Using the same logic, yes.
The article also notes that “El Ninos continue to get stronger”, indicating that this is likely because of AGW as well. However, since 1998, El Ninos have been noticably weaker. What happened to being fueled by rampant global warming?

Jared
August 21, 2008 3:42 pm

Mister Jones…
1934 was warmer in the U.S., but according to global records, 1998 was warmest.

Richard deSousa
August 21, 2008 3:45 pm

We don’t need this blog’s ill tidings:
http://deathby1000papercuts.com/2008/06/global-warming-new-sunspot-cycle-may-mean-the-iceman-cometh/#discussion
REPLY: Agreed, then why promote it by posting a link here?

Dave Andrews
August 21, 2008 3:49 pm

Steven Talbot,
You can move the goalposts as much as you like but you know that the GCMs have been used to support the IPCC and Kyoto process, despite your, perhaps inadvertent, agreement with many posters here that the models are not based on any current real world conditions.
It seems to me you are, like many desperate AGWers at the moment, trying to rewrite climate science history . Or perhaps not, maybe you are a ‘second generation’ climate scientist who realises that a lot of overblown claims were made in the early bloom of the science and yet you can’t quite yet stand up and repudiate what has gone before.
I hope it is the latter.

Richard deSousa
August 21, 2008 3:52 pm

Oops! The link works only if the “#discussion” is not included.

Steven Talbot
August 21, 2008 3:52 pm

iceFree,
“97/98 was way above trend” on what time frame? Can you tell me with 100% certaincy an El Nino like that has never happened before? At some time in past history?
Certainly not – I’d put big money on a far greater natural short-term variation having occurred at some time in the past! By ‘above trend’ I simply meant above the trend projected from an assessment of forcings independent of internal (natural) variation, I didn’t mean above the range of what might be anticipated from such variations.
In other words, the projection of temperature trend effectively ignores the internal cyclical variations (actually they’re in the models, though not ‘timed’, but let’s not get too bogged down!). El Ninos/La Ninas will come and go. In the long term their effect can’t be net warming or net cooling unless there is some energy going in or out of the global system.
Some will argue that we have seen the combination of a number of cycles being positive. Well, we shall see, and shall see whether that proposed combination goes negative (as it would have to do, if it is an internal cycle). Either way, one can’t get away from the first law of thermodynamics. Energy has to come from/go to somewhere.

Robert Wood
August 21, 2008 3:58 pm

Regarding the new sunspeck pair, I couldn’t see them on the real time image, on may computer. I also couldn’t find the magnetic images; but they did appear near to the equator, so I suspect they are cycle 23 spots.

Neil Fisher
August 21, 2008 4:13 pm

Steven Talbot said:

They’re not intended to predict the weather (although GCMs are now being involved in that, with promising results)! Nobody has ever pretended otherwise! GCM runs of future long-term climate are not even base-lined in any detail against current real-world conditions. So what?

What concerns me are the assumptions that go into them – not so much that they exist, but that it seems no-one has bothered to see if real world data supports those assumption. For instance, one assumption is that relative humidity will remain constant as temps rise. While I don’t have a cite for you, it is my understanding that real-world measurements falsify this assumption. If this is indeed the case, and if, as seems likely, this would considerably alter the outcome of model projections, then you can no doubt understand that I am somewhat sceptical of such results! Given that we will never be able to project climate into the future without at least some simplifications and “rules of thumb” rather than direct numerical simulation, then I feel it’s well time that as many as possible of the assumptions that go into such models are documented and, where possible, tested against real-world data to ensure that they are at least consistent with that real world data.

dreamin
August 21, 2008 4:26 pm

I don’t think the dice analogy is the best. I’m not aware of any evidence that climate, on the time scale of 50 to 100 years, is predictable in the way that dice rolls are predictable when averaged over a long number of trials. During the Little Ice Age, global temps wandered downwards for more than 100 years for reasons which are still not understood.
That said, if we are going to use a dice analogy, the situation over the last 40 years is analogous to rolling 4 high numbers followed by 2 low numbers. Temps over the last 10 years may be very well be short-term variation. However the same thing can be said about temps over the previous 20.

manacker
August 21, 2008 4:38 pm

Note to Steven Talbot
From your 21 August (13:56:44):
“GCM runs of future long-term climate are not even base-lined in any detail against current real-world conditions.”
But Steven, regardless of how you may have worded it, you’ll certainly have to admit that it is totally absurd to think that climate models can make meaningful projections (or predictions) up to the year 2300.
Or do you think they can?
Regards,
Max

Steven Talbot
August 21, 2008 4:41 pm

A number of points addressed to me to respond to:
Tom Klein,
Based on your optimism and confidence in the models, do you honestly believe that we will have a 3 degree Celsius temperature rise by 2100 ( mid value of the IPCC projection ) ? ( Not that either one of us will be around to confirm it ). Carbon dioxide is rising monotonically…
I wouldn’t say that I had optimism! Projections depend upon the inputs that will prevail, and it’s not just a matter of CO2, of course. CO2, for example, may not continue to ‘rise monotonically’ (in fact, that’s not been the case over the past three decades anyway). I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t know whether or not there will be mitigation, I don’t know whether or not the sun will fall out of the sky. But yes, I have some confidence in the projections based upon presumed inputs. But getting to what I think is your real point –
the existence of positive feedback is incompatible with a stable system like the climate
I think the system has been relatively stable so long as nothing has changed substantially. I don’t understand why you think it should ‘hold onto’ its state of relative equilibrium if forcings do change? I think it is a system which will find equilibrium (eventually), but that will be in respect of inputs, and of feedbacks from such inputs. I’m a bit puzzled, really, since the notion of feedback seems so obvious in the case of, for example, a change in albedo….?
Jared,
It’s certainly the case that the 1997/98 high was seen as a combination of AGW warming effect with internal natural variation, but I maintain my view that it is simply not true to suggest that scientists neglected to mention the latter. One might make the same case today, by the way, that the recent La Nina low has exceeded the temperatures of previous La Ninas (so it’s a matter of considering higher highs and higher lows).
You then say –
However, since 1998, El Ninos have been noticably weaker.
Which El Ninos do you have in mind? There was a mild one in 2002/3….. If the article was suggesting that every phase of the ENSO cycle would be stronger then I agree with you, it was in error. I think the question of whether or not the ENSO is being affected by warming remains very speculative at the moment.
Dave Andrews,
You can move the goalposts as much as you like but you know that the GCMs have been used to support the IPCC and Kyoto process, despite your, perhaps inadvertent, agreement with many posters here that the models are not based on any current real world conditions.
There’s nothing inadvertent in what I’m saying. I don’t really understand your point – I’m not aware of anyone suggesting that GCMs were set up to predict short-term variations.
It seems to me you are, like many desperate AGWers at the moment, trying to rewrite climate science history .
I’m not feeling in the least bit desperate, so don’t worry! Possibly a little depressed, though 😉
Or perhaps not, maybe you are a ’second generation’ climate scientist who realises that a lot of overblown claims were made in the early bloom of the science and yet you can’t quite yet stand up and repudiate what has gone before.
Hmm. Well, consider the 1979 Charney Report, based on very basic models, which projected a temperature rise of mean 3C above pre-industrial for equilibrium following a doubling of CO2. And what is the IPCC 4th AR projection of this mean figure? Yup, 3C, exactly the same almost thirty years later. So, I really don’t understand what you mean!

John-X
August 21, 2008 4:52 pm

Richard deSousa (15:26:35) :
“…if we are heading for a Maunder or Dalton Minimum the oil fields in Siberia won’t be worth squat as it will be too cold to drill.”
The Russians don’t believe it will be too cold to drill. Remember they planted their little titanium flag under the sea at the north pole, and argue that it’s Russian territory, because it’s actually part of a ridge that originates in Siberia.
There’s this – now quite old – story
http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2006/08/25/Russian_scientist_predicts_global_cooling/UPI-75561156555554/
that the “consensus” within the Russian Academy of Sciences is global cooling – for more than 50 years.
Ever heard of Gazprom?
With what western Europe (and, regrettably, the US and Canada) is doing to itself in the name of “combatting global warming,” in a much colder climate, Russia looks to become a one-nation OPEC.
Don’t be too surprised if Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin listens to his own scientists, and laughs at ours.

Steven Talbot
August 21, 2008 4:54 pm

manacker,
you’ll certainly have to admit that it is totally absurd to think that climate models can make meaningful projections (or predictions) up to the year 2300.
I think they can make projections which are useful (‘useful’ is not the same as spot-on accurate, of course!), but I don’t think they can make predictions, no way. Scientists can’t predict what will happen in the future if it’s subject to unpredictable events. We don’t know what governments will decide to do, we don’t know if there may be nuclear war, we don’t know if there may be another Maunder minimum type reduction in the solar cycle. But it is reasonable to say “If x then y”.
I think it is also reasonable to predict that, for example, if the ice sheets were to become unstable then it would take one heck of a long time (and a much lower temperature) to reestablish them. And so on.

manacker
August 21, 2008 4:59 pm

Note to Steven Talbot
Browsing through the IPCC AR4 WG1 report can be rather dull and tedious work, as there is a large amount of repetition, rationalization, pseudo-scientific double-talk and model gobbledygook to shovel your way through.
But it can have its rewarding moments, if you’re looking for something both humorous and astounding.
One of my favorites is Figure 10.4 in Chapter 10 (which we’ve discussed). This is a multi-colored graph that shows various computer generated temperature projections to the year 2300 as extensions to the 20th century actual record.
Yes, I said 2300! This is no joke, although I am sure most rational observers would conclude that it must be something of the sort.
I still have not heard whether you think a projection of the global average surface temperature for the year 2300 is absurd or not, but I will tell you that it definitely is, because the unknowns between now and then are several hundred times more important than any CO2 projections cranked into the computers and exaggerated by assumed “feedbacks”.
But let’s talk about the projections.
We have a rather flat orange curve (that stops in 2100), called “constant composition commitment”, purporting to predict how our global average temperature anomaly would react to no further increase in human CO2 emissions, and a rapidly accelerating curve labeled “A4” (high greenhouse gas growth), which (sort of like Mann’s hockey stick as shown in Gore’s “AIT”) shoots off the chart.
More interesting are the (moderate growth) green “A1B” and (low growth) blue “B1” curves, both of which rise smoothly and inexorably to the year 2300, where they reach a level of 3.6°C and 2.2°C above the (1961-1990) baseline value.
Now IPCC missed the first 7 ½ years of the 21st century pretty badly in projecting a +0.2°C per decade linear rate of increase when all four temperature records show a net decrease averaging -0.08°C per decade.
So we have seen that the models have a hard time predicting the next 10 years, yet we are supposed to believe that they can project THREE HUNDRED YEARS into the future?
A good example of the folly of long-range forecasting can be found in the interesting study by Eric Morris entitled “From Horse Power to Horsepower”.
http://www.uctc.net/access/30/Access%2030%20-%2002%20-%20Horse%20Power.pdf
Morris describes the late 19th century dilemma posed by rapid urbanization and the use of horses for both intra-city human transportion and transport of goods. Reflecting that the horse population had increased more rapidly than the human population, Morris observes, “Horses need to eat”. He estimates that each urban horse consumed around 1.4 tons of oats and 2.4 tons of hay per year, adding, “and what comes in must come out”. Each horse is estimated to have “produced between fifteen and thirty pounds of manure per day” plus about a quart of urine daily.
As Morris puts it, “A public health and sanitation crisis of almost unimaginable dimensions loomed”, adding, “And no possible solution could be devised. After all, the horse had been the dominant mode of transportation for thousands of years.”
This environmental problem makes AGW look like a casual stroll through the park.
“The situation seemed dire. In 1894, the Times of London estimated that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in horse manure. One New York prognosticator of the 1890s concluded [even without a supercomputer at hand] that by 1930 the horse droppings would rise to Manhattan’s third story windows.”
These futurists of the time were looking less than 60 years into the future, during a time when things changed relatively slowly compared to today, yet (as we all know today) they got it totally wrong.
Yet IPCC is trying to tell us they have a clue as to what is going to happen 100 or even 300 years into the future!
Looks to me like arrogance and ignorance have reached an all-time high in this IPCC graph.
It should be posted on every rational skeptic’s wall as the epitome of absurdity. And hanging next to it on the wall a picture depicting a nine-foot pile of horse manure would give good perspective and add deeper meaning.
Regards,
Max

Editor
August 21, 2008 5:10 pm

Do I have that right?
Yup.

manacker
August 21, 2008 5:11 pm

Hi Steven,
Check the on-line dictionary for the word “projection”
http://www.wordwebonline.com/search.pl?w=projection
projection (pru’jekshun)
The first definition given:
“A prediction made by extrapolating from past observations.”
Call it by either name, doing it 300 years in advance is worse than pure conjecture, as the Morris study I cited points out very clearly.
Regards,
Max

Editor
August 21, 2008 5:13 pm

And don’t forget to save copies of the webpage http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7574603.stm (World heading towards cooler 2008) before the BBC changes it.

old construction worker
August 21, 2008 5:22 pm

Steven Talbot (13:29:34)
‘The dice analogy should do – if you throw the die fifty times then you can expect the average of your throws to approach the prediction. If you throw it another three times and get three low scores, does that ‘falsify’ the prediction?’
What would falsify predication? How about cooling oceans or non-positive water vapor feedback? So, what is masking CO2 induced global warming.

Editor
August 21, 2008 5:23 pm

Do they want a real positive feed back? Although we could call it negative… If we are going into a cooling period, there will be less water in the air… less clouds!
What the Aqua Satellite seems to be showing is a dessication at all but the lowest altitudes.
But at low altitude there is not so much an increase of ambient vapor (which would cause warming), but in cloud cover (which causes increased albedo and cooling).
So what we have in not positive feedback loops, but negative feedback leading to homeostasis.
And then there are the “big 6” multidecadal oscillations just starting to flip to cool . . .
Not to mention the “dying sun” . . .

manacker
August 21, 2008 5:25 pm

Just one more, Steven:
You wrote: “I think it is also reasonable to predict that, for example, if the ice sheets were to become unstable then it would take one heck of a long time (and a much lower temperature) to reestablish them. And so on.”
Yep. Just like it would be reasonable to predict that if a bullfrog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his rear when he jumped.
The key word in both sentences is “IF”.
All predictions (or projections) are dicey, particularly those that start with “IF”.
The great American baseball player, Yogi Berra (who was also quite a philosopher) once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
And (as the IPCC and Hadley have found out based on the recent unexpected cooling trend), “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
It sure ain’t.
Regards,
Max

Editor
August 21, 2008 5:30 pm

You seem to be very delighted to have confirmed that the models are not doing what nobody ever suggested they were supposed to do.
Well, heck, if that’s true, why in sam hill are be being strenuously urged to sacrifice half of world economic growth?

Leon Brozyna
August 21, 2008 5:30 pm

And the caveat seems to always be present, in one form or another: “[such cooling] dips do not undermine the case that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are causing long-term global warming”
The fundamental thesis remains. I suspect that if cooling becomes protracted over several decades, it will still be held that CO2 warming is happening and that it’s being masked by natural cooling.
Whether the current cooling trend persists for a decade or several decades, at some time the natural warming will resume and will have very little to do with CO2 levels in the atmosphere, just as the warming that’s been happening since the LIA is itself natural and has little to do with a minor increase in atmospheric levels of CO2.
We need to move beyond this foolish experiment by computer programmers and their fanciful models and focus on uncorrupted science. Even a recent study of 1500 year drought cycles in North America:
http://news.research.ohiou.edu/news/index.php?item=503
made the obligatory bow to AGW: “The climate record suggests that North America could face a major drought event again in 500 to 1,000 years, though Springer said that manmade global warming could offset the cycle.”
Rather than a simple minded approach of seeing temperature changes from higher CO2 levels, the look ought to be to a more vibrant biosphere as plant growth is stimulated by higher levels of CO2. What is the effect of stronger plant life capturing and holding higher levels of moisture? Or of a larger area of such plant life? Since satellite measurements of the biosphere began they’ve measured an increase of 6-7% greening of the planet. What impact would this have on precipitation and, ultimately, the climate? And this is but the tip of the complexities impacting climate, all interrelated in ways barely guessed at. To say that mankind is bringing on the moderate warming we’ve experienced over the past 150 years is highly arrogant.

Michael Hauber
August 21, 2008 5:39 pm

Gary asked
‘Stll, shouldn,’t the ocean thermal energy content increase during La Nina events, like the current 6+ year long decline in atmospheric temperature?

I would expect that you are correct and that ocean energy content would increase during a la nina. I would also expect heat content to decrease during an el nino.
The only Argo measurements showing decreasing ocean heat contents that I have seen were between 2003 and 2005, which was after an El Nino (2003).

Editor
August 21, 2008 5:41 pm

Er, wasn’t 1934 warmer globally than 1998?
Only in the US.
(OTOH, I trust pre-satellite global data about as much as I trust Pap Finn turning over a new leaf.)

Steven Talbot
August 21, 2008 5:43 pm

Max,
I think we may have posted at the same time. You’ll see that I have said that I think models can be useful, but have stressed myself the fact that we cannot predict the unknown, a point that you have rightly made yourself.
I think there’s a muddle over the words prediction/forecast and projection, tbh. Projections work on the basis of a set of determined premises. Of course, those premises may turn out not to pertain. Projections are not meant to be predictions (at which point some may sneer that the IPCC are avoiding predictions, but I think that’s a low-level objection which I really can’t be bothered with). [Edit – have just seen your dictionary definition. Get a better dictionary, I’d say! ;-)]
Now IPCC missed the first 7 ½ years of the 21st century pretty badly in projecting a +0.2°C per decade linear rate of increase when all four temperature records show a net decrease averaging -0.08°C per decade.
The IPCC did not predict what would happen over that period. They’ve projected about 0.2C for all scenarios over the next two decades. We’ll see whether or not that projection was useful when enough time has passed to judge the signal from the noise. I’d suggest that may not be too long – for example, if we experience a strong El Nino which does not correlate with a rising temperature trend (five year mean, say), then I think there will be firm cause to challenge the projection (presuming there are not other obvious factors to be taken into account).
So we have seen that the models have a hard time predicting the next 10 years, yet we are supposed to believe that they can project THREE HUNDRED YEARS into the future?
I’m sorry to go on being pedantic, but they don’t set out to predict the timing of internal variation! As for the usefulness of 300 year projections, I’m inclined to agree with you that it is unlikely to be accurate, but that applies both ways.
I agree that long-range forecasting is of limited usefulness, in terms of the absolute figures it throws up. I’m not quite sure what we’re disagreeing on, really!
I enjoyed your bullfrog and Yogi Berra references 😉
Tired now 🙂

Sean
August 21, 2008 6:03 pm

What MattN posted:
“I have 2008 so far in ~20th place out of the last 30, according to UAH and RSS data.”
Is correct. The first 6 months of 2008 are the 20th warmest of 30 years of satellite data. What MattN didn’t say is that the first 6 months of 2008 is the coldest in 11 years (since 1997) not just 5 years.
Once again there are differences between the satellite and surface data and once again the surface data is warmer.
Reuters also claims that reliable records date back to around 1850. Reliable surface records don’t date back to last week.

Joel Shore
August 21, 2008 6:04 pm

John-X says:

There’s this – now quite old – story
http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2006/08/25/Russian_scientist_predicts_global_cooling/UPI-75561156555554/
that the “consensus” within the Russian Academy of Sciences is global cooling – for more than 50 years.

No, that was not a consensus within the Russian Academy of Sciences. In fact, the view of the Russian Academy of Sciences is expressed by their signing on to the recent letter issued by the academies of all of the G8+5 nations: http://www.lincei.it/files/dichiarazioni/G8+5_Academies_Statement-Climate.pdf
Neil Fisher says:

What concerns me are the assumptions that go into them – not so much that they exist, but that it seems no-one has bothered to see if real world data supports those assumption. For instance, one assumption is that relative humidity will remain constant as temps rise. While I don’t have a cite for you, it is my understanding that real-world measurements falsify this assumption. …I feel it’s well time that as many as possible of the assumptions that go into such models are documented and, where possible, tested against real-world data to ensure that they are at least consistent with that real world data.

Scientists are in fact testing the climate models constantly against real world data. As for your specific example, concerning relative humidity. First of all, constant relative humidity is not an assumption of the climate models. It is, however, what they seem to approximately predict given the physics and assumptions that do go into them. And, contrary to what you may have heard, real-world data is in good agreement with this assumption. See, for example, this paper: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;310/5749/841 or the more indirect test in this paper: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci For more discussion, see this blog post by a climate scientist at University of Maryland: http://sciencepoliticsclimatechange.blogspot.com/2006/08/more-on-water-vapor-feedback.html

old construction worker
August 21, 2008 6:06 pm

Steven Talbot (16:41:58)
‘Hmm. Well, consider the 1979 Charney Report, based on very basic models, which projected a temperature rise of mean 3C above pre-industrial for equilibrium following a doubling of CO2. And what is the IPCC 4th AR projection of this mean figure? Yup, 3C, exactly the same almost thirty years later. So, I really don’t understand what you mean!’
Do to water vapor being a positive feedback and assumed amplification number of 2.5
Again, I ask what has been the ampification number for the last 8 years? Put pencil to paper and solve for it. Oceans aren’t warming and temperatures are flat. If is still 2.5, where are you dumping the heat?

Joel Shore
August 21, 2008 6:08 pm

John-X says:

There’s this – now quite old – story
http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2006/08/25/Russian_scientist_predicts_global_cooling/UPI-75561156555554/
that the “consensus” within the Russian Academy of Sciences is global cooling – for more than 50 years.

No, that was not a consensus within the Russian Academy of Sciences. In fact, the view of the Russian Academy of Sciences is expressed by their signing on to the recent letter issued by the academies of all of the G8+5 nations: http://www.lincei.it/files/dichiarazioni/G8+5_Academies_Statement-Climate.pdf
Neil Fisher says:

What concerns me are the assumptions that go into them – not so much that they exist, but that it seems no-one has bothered to see if real world data supports those assumption. For instance, one assumption is that relative humidity will remain constant as temps rise. While I don’t have a cite for you, it is my understanding that real-world measurements falsify this assumption. …I feel it’s well time that as many as possible of the assumptions that go into such models are documented and, where possible, tested against real-world data to ensure that they are at least consistent with that real world data.

Scientists are in fact testing the climate models constantly against real world data. As for your specific example, concerning relative humidity. First of all, constant relative humidity is not an assumption of the climate models. It is, however, what they seem to approximately predict given the physics and assumptions that do go into them. And, contrary to what you may have heard, real-world data is in good agreement with this prediction. See, for example, this paper: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;310/5749/841 or the more indirect test in this paper: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci For more discussion, see this blog post by a climate scientist at University of Maryland: http://sciencepoliticsclimatechange.blogspot.com/2006/08/more-on-water-vapor-feedback.html

Tom Klein
August 21, 2008 6:25 pm

Steve Talbot,
Unfortunately, you learnt your concept of feedback from climatologist, who took feedback, which is a perfectly simple engineering concept, did not take the trouble to fully understand it and proceeded to misapply it, at least conceptually. Feedback in its original form was merely a coupling between the output and the input of a system. This coupling helped engineers to understand and correct some misterious instabilities that they encountered. Very simply put, when the feedback times amplification is greater than one, the system has ” positive feedback ” and it is unstable. This condition is postulated to occur in the climate when heating causes waper to evaporate causing further heating etc. with the resultant temperature being much higher than the initial one caused by the forcing alone. The point is that there is no predictable endpoint to this process and the system is ” unstable ” ( tends to go in an ever increasing runaway mode ). The climate has never behaved this way -this does not mean that it did not have large fluctuations – at least not on the Earth. Venus may have experienced something like this – this seems to be what Gore worries about -, but conditions there are sufficiently different that do not apply to the Earth’s climate. By the way Climate Sceptic, a blog you can access from this website has an extensive discussion of feedbacks.

Steven Talbot
August 21, 2008 6:56 pm

Tom Klein,
Unfortunately, you learnt your concept of feedback from climatologist, who took feedback, which is a perfectly simple engineering concept, did not take the trouble to fully understand it and proceeded to misapply it, at least conceptually.
Thanks, but I do think I understand feedback in engineering terms :-). FWIW, I don’t particularly like the adoption of the term in climatology – very obviously, the concentration of GHGs has no effect whatsoever upon solar energy input. But then, I also don’t like the use of the term ‘greenhouse’ very much, so there you go.
The point is that there is no predictable endpoint to this process and the system is ” unstable ” ( tends to go in an ever increasing runaway mode ).
Do you mean in engineering terms or in terms of the postulated climate effect? In the case of the former, feedback will be restricted by the limitations of the physical system. In the case of the latter, there is an ultimate limit to IR absorption.

Joel Shore
August 21, 2008 7:12 pm

Tom Klein says:

Very simply put, when the feedback times amplification is greater than one, the system has ” positive feedback ” and it is unstable.

This is incorrect. If the feedback is sufficiently strongly positive, there is instability. However, if it is less than a critical value, it yields amplification without instability. The mathematical representation is found in the concepts of a diverging infinite series (instability) or a converging infinite series (stability). As an example of the latter, consider the case where a warming of 1C caused by some forcing like a rise in CO2 then leads to an increase in water vapor that causes an additional warming of 1/2 C. The feedback from this warming will then cause an additional 1/4 C of warming…and so on. You have the infinite series 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + … which converges to 2, i.e., the feedback amplifies the warming by a factor of 2.

Pofarmer
August 21, 2008 7:16 pm

I think the system has been relatively stable so long as nothing has changed substantially. I don’t understand why you think it should ‘hold onto’ its state of relative equilibrium if forcings do change?
Pinatubo released more Sulfur into the Atmosphere than man has released in the history of Man. Look at the link on the large Amounts of SO2 being injected into the stratosphere. Substantial changes?
I used to think you were sincere, but you have on some dark and narrow blinders.

Joel Shore
August 21, 2008 7:39 pm

Pofarmer says: “Pinatubo released more Sulfur into the Atmosphere than man has released in the history of Man. Look at the link on the large Amounts of SO2 being injected into the stratosphere. Substantial changes?”
I’m suspicious of the claim that the amount released is larger than in the history of man. (Maybe it released more into the stratosphere, since I don’t think much of the human aerosol emissions make it up into the stratosphere.) But regardless of whether or not that is so, what I do know is that climate models were able to model the effect from Mt. Pinatubo quite well…but only if they included the positive feedback from water vapor. See http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;296/5568/727 (By the way, this is the paper that I tried to link to in a post above but accidently didn’t give the whole URL for.)

John-X
August 21, 2008 7:47 pm

“BREAKING NEWS”
IPS, the Australian Space Weather Agency, has changed its forecast for Solar Cycle 24.
http://www.ips.gov.au/Solar/1/6
“CYCLE 24 PREDICTION MOVED AWAY BY 6 MONTHS
Due to the proximity of the IPS predicted rise of solar cycle 24
to observed solar cycle 23 solar minimum values, and the apparent lack
of new Cycle 24 sunspots, IPS has again moved the predicted solar cycle
away by 6 months.”
REPLY: Thanks I’ll write it up – Anthony

Pofarmer
August 21, 2008 8:16 pm

I’m suspicious of the claim that the amount released is larger than in the history of man,
Well, of course I can’t find the direct link. The point is, that folks like Steven Talbot and others claim that without man the earth would be stable, never changing system, which is just not true. There are plenty of large scale forcings.

Pamela Gray
August 21, 2008 8:32 pm

Nature doesn’t even follow God’s predict…projections. How in the heck do you guys think it will follow yours??????
Sorry. My bad. Just….couldn’t….help…..it!

John-X
August 21, 2008 8:47 pm

Joel Shore (18:08:07) :
“…the recent letter issued by the academies of all of the G8+5 nations: http://www.lincei.it/files/dichiarazioni/G8+5_Academies_Statement-Climate.pdf …”
Wow, thanks for this link, which I reiterate here
http://www.lincei.it/files/dichiarazioni/G8+5_Academies_Statement-Climate.pdf
Unfortunately, if you meant to imply that this represents some kind of “consensus” of international scientific opinion, then no, you are wrong again. This is all politics.
A “Low Carbon Society?”
Please.
“We urge all nations, but particularly those participating in the
2008 G8 Summit in Hokkaido, Japan, to take the following actions…”
Not just political advocacy, but political advocacy timed for a specific political event, the most recent G8 summit (where the participants gratefully accepted the advice of the societies of wise men of the world, and promised to change their ways and meet their targets and…oh wait, that didn’t happen, and the G8 kinda paid lip service or blew it off, didn’t they?)
But thanks again for the link.
EVERYBODY needs to see this. This is the international “synthesis” document – short version.
I looked for the phrase, “the future is in our hands,” but apparently that Laurie David/Susan Hassol phrase was not focus-grouped for this political document.
I did find the phrase, “effect changes in individual and national behaviour.”
Can’t wait to find out how my government will “effect changes” to my behaviour, and what happens if I like my behaviour just the way it is, and prefer not to have it “effected” by people I hire to serve me.
Al Gore for one can NOT be happy with this document – all the open talk about “Adaptation.”
“Adaptation” = “Sellout” in the AGW faith.
“…coal … will continue to be a primary energy source for the next 50 years” ???
AGW Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
No mention of where they got the “reach the desired target by 2050,” or what’s supposed to happen if the G8+5 are not a happy “Low Carbon Society” by that year. Guess it’s just one of those numbers that sounds good, like, “we only have 10 years.”
I happen to agree with Dr. Abdusamatov and his colleagues – IN THE RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES –
http://www.physorg.com/news75818795.html
the ones who didn’t get the memo that changes to their opinions were being “effected” by a politically motivated group – that in 2050, we had better be a High Carbon Society, because being a Low Carbon Society in 2050 will really suck.
This document is only a two-page screed, compared to the _volume_ which was recently offered up to us a a “synthesis” – no pictures of children holding hands and caring for the earth, no photoshopped (i.e., faked) images of floods. Just two pages of political advocacy, unfounded assertions, a false sense of urgency based on nothing, and several pointless and very wasteful recommendations.
As I said, EVERYBODY needs to see it – but no one will be too surprised.

manacker
August 21, 2008 8:58 pm

Hi Steven,
I believe we have gotten to the root cause of our disagreement on the validity of climate model predictions (or projections), in your sentence, “We’ll see whether or not that projection was useful when enough time has passed to judge the signal from the noise.”
Steven, it is my contention that what you call “the noise” (i.e. impact on climate from as yet undefined non-AGW drivers) is several orders of magnitude more significant than what you call “the signal” (i.e. impact from assumed AGW drivers on climate).
This contention appears to have been recently validated by the various temperature records starting in around 1998 (or 2001), i.e. record CO2 emissions occurring simultaneously with global cooling.
In my opinion, this is because we (“science”) know much less about what causes climate change than we do not know. And it is precisely what “we do not know” that causes our projections (or predictions) to be totally wrong.
To get an idea why long range projections of something as complex as our planet’s climate are by definition even less valid than short term weather projections, I can recommend you read “The Black Swan”, by Nassim Taleb.
The author addresses the problem of long-term predictions (or forecasts). While his book has nothing to do with “climate change” per se it explains why “long-term expert predictions” are more often wrong than right.
It’s a good read.
Regards,
Max

old construction worker
August 21, 2008 9:46 pm

Tom K
Joel Shore (19:12:46)
‘As an example of the latter, consider the case where a warming of 1C caused by some forcing like a rise in CO2 then leads to an increase in water vapor that causes an additional warming of 1/2 C.’
Or, as an example, warming of 1C caused by CO2 leads to an increase in water vapor which didn’t produce heat trapping clouds and allows heat from the oceans to escape into space which doesn’t result to additional warming of 1 / 2 C.

rjb
August 21, 2008 11:18 pm

I can second manacker’s Nassim Taleb recommendation. I don’t work in climate science, but I do use statistics just about every day to perform market analysis. His writings are quite insightful, although he can come off as a bit pompous at times. I caught a good radio interview with him last year. Here is the link: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2007/04/taleb_on_black.html

August 22, 2008 3:05 am

KW (14:19:08)
“…and all that they do on a planet for an infinitely insignificant speck of time.”
This ‘insignificant speck of time’ is the most important piece of time that has passed for all of us, the next ‘specks in time’ for our children and grandchildren. Please don’t dismiss our time as insignificant, unless you are off course a lump of rock!
It doesseem I have stepped into a time machine and gone back to the 70’s with all this talk of ice ages and frozen earths. That showed the folly of taking short term trends to this level of argument, still “Plus ca change….”!

August 22, 2008 3:07 am

The manmade part of global cooling is that whereas we used to warm to good ideas, now good ideas are “cool”.

Editor
August 22, 2008 5:34 am

Joel Shore (19:12:46) :

Tom Klein says:

Very simply put, when the feedback times amplification is greater than one, the system has ” positive feedback ” and it is unstable.

This is incorrect. If the feedback is sufficiently strongly positive, there is instability. However, if it is less than a critical value, it yields amplification without instability. The mathematical representation is found in the concepts of a diverging infinite series (instability) or a converging infinite series (stability). As an example of the latter, consider the case where a warming of 1C caused by some forcing like a rise in CO2 then leads to an increase in water vapor that causes an additional warming of 1/2 C. The feedback from this warming will then cause an additional 1/4 C of warming…and so on. You have the infinite series 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + … which converges to 2, i.e., the feedback amplifies the warming by a factor of 2.

While I’m ashamed to say I’m not certain of the following, as I have a BSEE degree (but my career has been a OS software engineer). The system you describe has a feedback of + 1/2. 1/2 of the output is fed back to the input of an amplifier stage with a gain of 1. Had you fed back more than the full signal, then the output would peg at either the high or low input.
Chapter two of feedback entails phase shifting, i.e. the feedback loop has a delay going back into the input, this is why audio feedback generates a loud tone that gets louder. Climatologically things like ocean levels, icecaps, etc provide the delay, though mathematically it’s something that can’t be described by an equation. That’s one reason why models become important. That’s chapter three.
Given that current models start at a state that does not reflect current conditions (i.e. garbage in) the best we can hope for is that negative feedback produces accurate projections (prognostications? gotta check the dictionary on that). Somehow we’ve gotten to “Garbage in, Gospel out.” Thankfully, the sun is taking a break so we can begin to distinguish the solar vs. GHG effects (and all the various Oscillations, e.g. PDO, AMO, AO, ENSO, MJO, which are still more systems with feedback).
I get the sense that the IPCC calls the model output projections so that if they’re right they can claim success and if they’re wrong they can say they didn’t predict anything. Otherwise ethics would call for a disclaimer in a black box warning that belief in the projections could lead to a decline in gross global product. Like what we have on cigarette boxes.

Joel Shore
August 22, 2008 7:22 am

Pofarmer says: “The point is, that folks like Steven Talbot and others claim that without man the earth would be stable, never changing system, which is just not true. There are plenty of large scale forcings.”
I don’t think Steven Talbot says that. Clearly, the history of the earth is one of significant climate changes. However, it has to do with issues of timescales. Volcanic eruptions like Mt Pinatubo can cause some cooling but that tends to only last for a few years. On the other extreme, Milankovich orbital oscillations coupled with feedbacks (which include changes in greenhouse gas concentrations) can cause the ice age — interglacial cycles that the earth has been experiencing over the last few million years. These, however, tend to operate over longer timescales. In particular, the last glacial period ended about 12000 years ago and I think the best estimates are currently that, left to its own devices, the earth would likely not descend into another glacial period for another ~30,0000 years. At any rate, the descent into the glacial periods is pretty slow, taking thousands of years.
However, the evidence (including our understanding of forcings and response gleaned from these natural climate changes in the past) is that on the scale of the coming decades to few centuries, the dominant forcing on the climate system will not be any of the natural forcings but rather the forcing due to increasing greenhouse gases caused by our emissions. And, this is likely to quite rapidly (e.g., on the order of a century) take the earth to a state of warmth not experienced in millions of years.

Steven Talbot
August 22, 2008 7:54 am

Pofarmer,
The point is, that folks like Steven Talbot and others claim that without man the earth would be stable, never changing system, which is just not true. There are plenty of large scale forcings.
I think you’ve misunderstood me there – I was agreeing that the system had been relatively stable (over the Holocene, say), but I certainly don’t think it’s a “never changing system”. For example, a good part of the early 20th century warming can be attributed to solar variability.
Max,
…it is my contention that what you call “the noise” (i.e. impact on climate from as yet undefined non-AGW drivers) is several orders of magnitude more significant than what you call “the signal” (i.e. impact from assumed AGW drivers on climate).
Once again I agree, over the short-term at least (not sure of several orders of magnitude, though). Evidently, if we simplified the projected warming as being 0.02C per annum, say, we can see far greater natural variability than that on a monthly basis.
Going back to your concern with 300 year projections, and the IPCC figure 10.4, those curves beyond 2100 are assessments of climate commitment (mostly a matter of the thermal inertia of oceans) after stabilising emissions at 2100 levels – so they’re not projections of further changes in inputs beyond that date (that assessment of commitment could be done at any date, but we’re not looking like achieving stabilisation any time soon). So, I don’t think they’re presented as anything more than theoretical projections based on certain assumptions that may not apply (who’s to say, for example, whether or not GHGs would be stabilised by 2100?). In the meantime, of course, we might get hit by a black swan in the form of an impact event!
Ric Werme,
I get the sense that the IPCC calls the model output projections so that if they’re right they can claim success and if they’re wrong they can say they didn’t predict anything.
I know a lot of people feel that, but science can’t predict without knowing the inputs over time. If they’re not known (for example, mitigation measures that may be taken in the future, or varying output of GHGs) then the best that can be done is to posit “If a,b,c, then x”. It’s then useful to consider what the effect is on the value of x if we vary the values of a, b & c. Assumed values for a,b & c are the IPCC scenarios, the value of x is then expressed in their projections. If they’re wrong in their assessment of the relationship between a,b,c and x then this will be evident.

Joel Shore
August 22, 2008 8:40 am

Ric Werme, I pretty much agree with what you say about feedbacks. Note that noone is proposing that the feedback is large enough to lead to instability. That is what happened in the case of Venus but is apparently not in the cards for earth.
The closest scientists get to this is some of the talk about “tipping points”…i.e., the climate system reaching a point where it runs off to some different state (although not a Venus-like state of ever-increasing temperatures). However, the term “tipping points” has become overused as of late, so it seems only some uses of the term refer to such instabilities in the true sense of the word. At any rate, since the earth’s climate system is highly complex and non-linear and has apparently undergone rapid changes in the past, so there is some justifiable concern that we could push this system too far and end up with some sort of rapid nonlinear change in climate. All the more reason to be concerned about the vast global climate “experiment” we have undertaken!
I am not sure why you say that the “current models start at a state that does not reflect current climate conditions”. In fact, while they are certainly not perfect, the current models reproduce the current climate reasonably well, including having the same basic modes of internal variability as are seen in the real climate system.
If you are complaining about the fact that they do not predict the timing of particular El Nino events…and other such internal variations…I don’t think this is relevant to the long-term predictions. By perturbing the initial conditions in the models, scientists can see that these internal variations are sensitive to the initial conditions…i.e., they get a different pattern of up-and-down jiggles in the global temperature. However, the prediction for the general trend in the global temperature over the timescale of decades to a century or so remains unchanged.

KW
August 22, 2008 10:33 am

Life can be strange…just as my mind’s opinion’s are.
That’s the beauty of it.
Life can be anything we choose to have it be….or mean.
You are different than me. Thanks for noticing. Heh.

manacker
August 22, 2008 11:22 am

Hi Steven,
To IPCC’s 300-year projections you wrote, “I don’t think they’re presented as anything more than theoretical projections based on certain assumptions that may not apply.”
Why even put them in the report if they are admittedly meaningless?
You wrote, ” In the meantime, of course, we might get hit by a black swan in the form of an impact event!”
Why limit it to an “impact event”? Lots of other possibilities out there, Steven.
We (“science”, that is) just does not yet have all the answers.
Regards,
Max

Steven Talbot
August 22, 2008 12:01 pm

Max, I didn’t say that I think an assessment of climate commitment is “meaningless”, simply that the graphs need to be understood for what they’re saying, viz. fig 10.4 -” Values beyond 2100 are for the stabilisation scenarios”.
Indeed, all sorts of black swans could show up. I think it becomes a matter of risk assessment. Personally, I think there is a high risk of long-term accumulative AGW and low risk of climate events that would dwarf it over the period of time that we might sensibly consider (say a century). I guess you disagree, but there we are! 🙂

manacker
August 22, 2008 12:06 pm

Hi Steven,
You wrote: “if we simplified the projected warming as being 0.02C per annum, say, we can see far greater natural variability than that on a monthly basis.”
This statement is correct, yet it is, in itself misleading, since it “implies” an underlying projected warming of 0.02C per annum.
Again, you start with the magic word “IF”.
The only extended period of warming that equals 0.02C per annum is the IPCC forecast (or projection) for the early decades of the 21st century.
By averaging the various temperature records over the IPCC “poster period” 1976-1998 (or 1979-2005, however you prefer to look at it) you arrive at a linear warming of somewhere around 0.16C per decade, so around 80% of your figure.
By averaging the various temperature records over the seven and a half years of the 21st century you arrive at a linear cooling of –0.08C per decade, as compared to the IPCC forecast of 0.2C warming per decade.
So let’s update your “IF” sentence to 21st century conditions (different solar activity, different ENSO pattern, but same CO2 emission conditions).
“If we simplified the projected cooling as being 0.008C per annum, say, we can see far greater natural variability than that on a monthly basis.”
The sentence still makes sense and is still just as misleading as your original sentence.
Obviously, seasonal and diurnal swings are far greater than any hypothetical warming or cooling forecast (or projection), as you have said.
But more importantly (and this was my point all along) the unforeseen and non-projected longer-term swings are also greater (viz. 21st vs.late 20th century), which points to the futility of taking one small piece of the puzzle (human CO2 emissions), exaggerating it 3 to 4-fold with assumed positive feedbacks, and using this one piece to develop long range model projections of what is going to happen to world climate over the next century (or, even more absurd, the next three centuries).
Regards,
Max

manacker
August 22, 2008 12:26 pm

Hi Steven,
One final point on the IPCC 300-year projections.
You wrote, “Going back to your concern with 300 year projections, and the IPCC figure 10.4, those curves beyond 2100 are assessments of climate commitment (mostly a matter of the thermal inertia of oceans) after stabilising emissions at 2100 levels – so they’re not projections of further changes in inputs beyond that date.”
Sorry, Steven, this is not correct.
If you actually take the time to read the report, you will see that they are various projections of what is projected to happen to global average surface temperature based on different CO2 emission scenarios beyond today.
There are four scenarios presented:
· “consistent composition commitment” (no further increase)
· high greenhouse gas growth
· moderate greenhouse gas growth
· low greenhouse gas growth
The “high growth” shoots off the chart (like Mann’s hockeystick). The “moderate” curve shows a 2300 temperature anomaly of 3.6C, while the “low” curve projects 2.4C.
The “no further increase” curve is essentially flat, gaining less than 0.3C over the 100-year period.
So they are, indeed, projections of further changes in inputs beyond today, contrary to your statement.
Regards,
Max

manacker
August 22, 2008 12:38 pm

Hi Steven,
This is beginning to become repetitive. You just wrote, “indeed, all sorts of black swans could show up. I think it becomes a matter of risk assessment.”
Yes, two “black swans” have already shown up recently.
One is a reversal of a 10,000-year record period of high solar activity in the late 20th century and an extremely inactive sun since solar cycle 24 started last January.
Another is the reversal of an unusually active El Nino period over the last 30 years.
These two factors (plus others we have not yet been able to identify) have cancelled out the rapid warming we should have had from record CO2 emissions over this period.
Makes “risk assessment” sort of silly, when we don’t even really know what the real “risk” is.
Are the solar experts who project a cooling planet right? Are the AGW model outputs, which project continued warming right?
Who knows?
I do not. You do not. IPCC does not.
Regards,
Max

SteveSadlov
August 22, 2008 12:40 pm

RE: John-X (12:27:43) :
We are indeed due for a Bond Event. And, strangely, the world geopolitical scene is not all that different from the 5th Century AD.

Joel Shore
August 22, 2008 12:51 pm

manacker says “By averaging the various temperature records over the seven and a half years of the 21st century you arrive at a linear cooling of –0.08C per decade, as compared to the IPCC forecast of 0.2C warming per decade.”
And, what sort of error bars are on that? I am also a little bit skeptical of those numbers. If you look at just the full years (hence ending in 2007), you get values of -0.03 and +0.11 C per decade for HADCRUT3 and NASA GISS records, respectively. However, this is strongly dependent on the exact period of time you look over…e.g., if you extend it back one more year to include year 2000, these trends jump to +0.12 C and +0.25 C per decade, respectively. Adding in year 1999 further increases the trends…although once you put in 1998 they get knocked down somewhat again. And, yes, since the last 7 months have been quite cool, including them will lower these trends somewhat. (I can’t include them easily since I just have the yearly data entered in.)
However, the point is that over short enough periods, before the trends settle down, you are pretty much just doing numerology not real science. At the very least, you have to look over long enough periods that adding or deleting one year (or less than one year!!!) doesn’t drastically alter your conclusions.

Steven Talbot
August 22, 2008 12:59 pm

Hi Max,
I could have written “let us simplify…”, but never mind –
This statement is correct, yet it is, in itself misleading, since it “implies” an underlying projected warming of 0.02C per annum.
I don’t think it’s in the least misleading – that is (approximately) the IPCC 4th AR projection for the next two decades (not the current one), for all scenarios. How is it misleading to say that’s what’s projected? Perhaps you can clarify?
By averaging the various temperature records over the IPCC “poster period” 1976-1998 (or 1979-2005, however you prefer to look at it) you arrive at a linear warming of somewhere around 0.16C per decade, so around 80% of your figure.
Well, I could dispute that figure, but let’s not quibble. I have referred to projections for the next two decades. The TAR A2 scenario (‘business as usual’) assessed the period 1990-2000as +0.16C, 2000-2010 as a further +0.19C. Basically, projected increases accelerate going forward.
As for your suggesting that 21st century ‘conditions’ are distinguishable from 20th century, on the basis of an <8 year record, I could pick out for you several downward eight-year trends from the 20th century record (I guess you could do that yourself though!). So what’s new?
But more importantly (and this was my point all along) the unforeseen and non-projected longer-term swings are also greater (viz. 21st vs.late 20th century)…
– but ENSO variation is not unforeseen, it’s just that its timing is not predicted (though I think it will be in the future models).It makes no difference whatsoever to long-term trend if it is an oscillation around a natural mean. If it is not, then we would need to look for some way of explaining that!
Regards,
S.

manacker
August 22, 2008 1:25 pm

Hi Steven,
When IPCC Chairman, Dr.Pachauri, recently said he would look into what is causing the current temperature plateau, adding “are natural factors compensating?”, he said a big mouthful.
Let’s analyze this train of thought more deeply.
We have been told by IPCC that anthropogenic GHGs (primarily CO2) are a major factor in the global warming our planet has experienced since 1976.
This is being presented as “it must be AGW because our models cannot explain it any other way”.
Not much mention is made of previous periods of warming except the rather short sentence in AR4 WG1 Chapter 3 (p.240): “The picture prior to 1976 has essentially not changed and is therefore not repeated in detail here.”
Pachauri now wonders if “natural factors” may now be causing temperature to cool.
Two “natural factors” that were significantly different in the late 20th century as compared to the most recent years are:
· Solar activity. This reached a 10,000-year high level of activity in the latter 20th century. This has now come to an end and solar cycle 24 has started off with an extremely inactive sun.
· ENSO cycles. These were very strong in the past 30 years, with six major El Nino events since 1973, as compared to only five in the preceding 70 years. This appears to have come to an end, as well, with La Nina events becoming more prevalent.
Now, Pachauri’s dilemma is this.
If he concedes that these natural reversals are causing temperatures to cool today, then he has to concede that they might have had more to do with late-20th century warming than previously assumed.
It is already acknowledged today that the all-time record warm year, 1998, was so warm because of a major El Nino event.
The impact of solar activity is even more tricky for Pachauri. IPCC has limited the 2005 radiative forcing estimate for solar variability to a mere 0.12 W/m^2 (compared to anthropogenic CO2 at 1.66 W/m^2). It has done this by limiting the solar impact to that from direct solar irradiance alone, ignoring any indirect effects.
If we now conclude that an inactive sun is causing cooling today (as we know was the case during the Little Ice Age), we must concede that an active sun may have caused a larger part of the warming experienced in the late 20th century and that, therefore, our estimate of solar radiative forcing is much too low (and that of AGW too high).
A real dilemma.
This may explain why Pachauri has been silent.
He has stated that he hoped the current temperature plateau would not make people think that AGW is “hogwash”.
But he’d better pray for some warming up pretty soon, or people will start believing exactly that and he can fold up his IPCC.
Regards,
Max

Dave Andrews
August 22, 2008 1:42 pm

All,
Just wanted to say the debate on this thread has been exceptional, civilised and learned and completely puts to shame what passes for debate on sites such as RC and Open Mind

Steven Talbot
August 22, 2008 3:42 pm

Hi again Max :-),
Ok, I’ll go through your points from my perspective –
We have been told by IPCC that anthropogenic GHGs (primarily CO2) are a major factor in the global warming our planet has experienced since 1976.
Well, I’d say since 1950 at least. They suggest the impact of anthropogenic
influences well before that, but it’s only in the second half of the 20thC that the attribution is confident.
This is being presented as “it must be AGW because our models cannot explain it any other way”
That’s part of the view. The other part is the now very old scientific understanding of the influence of GHGs.
Not much mention is made of previous periods of warming except the rather short sentence in AR4 WG1 Chapter 3 (p.240): “The picture prior to 1976 has essentially not changed and is therefore not repeated in detail here.”
Oh c’mon, Max, there’s stacks on previous warming (and cooling)! I’m not quite sure where to begin… but apart from the entire Palaeo chapter, let’s say you look up solar variability in Ch 2 and you’ll find a whole section on pre-20th century (2.7.1.2)……
Two “natural factors” that were significantly different in the late 20th century as compared to the most recent years are:
· Solar activity. This reached a 10,000-year high level of activity in the latter 20th century.

Perhaps so (there is uncertainty), but the extent of such variability, in terms of forcing influence, and the fact of there being no trend whilst temperatures have increased, needs to be considered.
This has now come to an end and solar cycle 24 has started off with an extremely inactive sun.
Maybe! 😉
· ENSO cycles. These were very strong in the past 30 years, with six major El Nino events since 1973, as compared to only five in the preceding 70 years. This appears to have come to an end, as well, with La Nina events becoming more prevalent.
I think it’s very much too early to conclude that!!! Can you spot such a trend from this? I certainly can’t:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears.shtml
But we shall see, Max, and I’d guess fairly soon – within a couple of years, perhaps (which is soon in climate terms).
Now, Pachauri’s dilemma is this.
If he concedes that these natural reversals are causing temperatures to cool today, then he has to concede that they might have had more to do with late-20th century warming than previously assumed.

No, that doesn’t follow at all. 2005 was, in one record, the hottest year. Your case depends upon 2008, which isn’t even over yet. Let’s guess at what it’s anomaly might be. (I’ll refer to the GISS record for ease of access, though it makes no difference which, tbh). My hunch is it might end up around +0.4C anomaly (I don’t know that, but you don’t know otherwise!). That would mean a ‘reversal’ from recent years. But look back in the record, and you can see equivalent or greater reversals at many points. There’s no more reason on the basis of one year’s evidence to reassess thinking than there was in the ’70s, 80s or 90s, when equivalent cooler years cropped up. I don’t think Pachauri or anyone else is surprised by natural variation! What is worthwhile, I think, is to compare the recent La Nina excursion with previous La Ninas. I think that shows a trend of higher lows.
It is already acknowledged today that the all-time record warm year, 1998, was so warm because of a major El Nino event.
It was acknowledged at the time too, as I established further up the thread!
The impact of solar activity is even more tricky for Pachauri. IPCC has limited the 2005 radiative forcing estimate for solar variability to a mere 0.12 W/m^2 (compared to anthropogenic CO2 at 1.66 W/m^2). It has done this by limiting the solar impact to that from direct solar irradiance alone, ignoring any indirect effects.
Excuse me, but that is simply not true! Feedbacks apply to all forcings, including solar. I have no idea where this notion you’ve presented comes from – can you offer a link? This gets to the root of the problem I have with the ‘solar explanation’. In order to discount CO2 you need to discount feedbacks, but in order to explain temperature change as a result of solar you have to look for feedbacks (or amplification of some kind) of a much greater scale!
If we now conclude that an inactive sun is causing cooling today (as we know was the case during the Little Ice Age), we must concede that an active sun may have caused a larger part of the warming experienced in the late 20th century and that, therefore, our estimate of solar radiative forcing is much too low (and that of AGW too high).
Well, I don’t conclude that! How on earth can our estimate of solar forcing be too low unless you’re about to introduce some new feedbacks? We can measure solar irradiance by satellite now – it’s not as if we’re taking a wild guess.
A real dilemma.
Your dilemma, I’d say, rather than mine or Pachauri’s. There’s no hypothesis for explaining the warming by solar forcing unless you want to pursue the cosmic rays/clouds stuff, or unless you want to posit other feedbacks, in which case you’ll need to explain why they don’t apply to other forcings. And there is no correlation anyway between solar irradiance and temperature in the latter part of the 20th century. You seem to be very doubtful of AGW on the basis of a short-term lack of correlation, yet not doubtful of the solar notion despite a long-term lack of correlation. That puzzles me!
Regards,
Steven

Steven Talbot
August 22, 2008 4:04 pm

Max,
A further point I meant to make – if you attribute warming to solar, then how do you account for a cooling stratosphere?
🙂

Steven Talbot
August 22, 2008 5:00 pm

Hi Max,
Just picked up an earlier post of yours (12.26.24)
I wrote:
“Going back to your concern with 300 year projections, and the IPCC figure 10.4, those curves beyond 2100 are assessments of climate commitment (mostly a matter of the thermal inertia of oceans) after stabilising emissions at 2100 levels – so they’re not projections of further changes in inputs beyond that date.”
And you write:
Sorry, Steven, this is not correct.
If you actually take the time to read the report, you will see that they are various projections of what is projected to happen to global average surface temperature based on different CO2 emission scenarios beyond today.

Please note the distinction between my statement “beyond 2100” and yours “beyond today”.
The scenarios run towards stabilisation of GHGs at 2100, presuming various emmissions from today, then beyond 2100 the projection only represents climate commitment.
So, excuse me, but my statement was correct.
(I have read the report!).
🙂

John McLondon
August 22, 2008 5:42 pm

Joel Shore, Ric Werme,
I am not sure linear feedback systems like the one you considered (resulting in a geometric progression) will result in an instability, unless the common ratio “r” is equal to or greater than one – in which case we are saying the result from a cause is equal to or larger than the cause itself. Instabilities should arise from the non-linearity of the system itself, and I think it does not mean an uncontrolled increase, but a sudden shift from one equilibrium state to a completely different equilibrium state due to a very small cause (a stone rolling down from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the valley with a small side-wise push). We need the second derivative to look at instabilities, meaning the system response cannot be linear. The first derivative will only give a condition for equilibrium.

Joel Shore
August 22, 2008 6:10 pm

John: I basically agree with everything that you have said above.
And, while I am dishing out agreement, Steve Talbot, I think your 15:42:55 post (and the followup at 16:04:25) is a most excellent one, very well explaining the difficulties faced by those who try to claim that solar forcing can account for a significant amount of the warming that we have seen.

Editor
August 22, 2008 7:30 pm

Joel Shore (08:40:51) :
I am not sure why you say that the “current models start at a state that does not reflect current climate conditions”. In fact, while they are certainly not perfect, the current models reproduce the current climate reasonably well, including having the same basic modes of internal variability as are seen in the real climate system.
I may have been overstepping my knowledge a bit, but from what I gather from various posts and http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter8.pdf is that models are initialized with some approximation of real-world conditions, not some known data point:

8.2.7 Flux Adjustments and Initialisation
Since the TAR, more climate models have been developed
that do not adjust the surface heat, water and momentum fluxes
artificially to maintain a stable control climate. As noted by
Stouffer and Dixon (1998), the use of such flux adjustments
required relatively long integrations of the component models
before coupling. In these models, normally the initial conditions
for the coupled integrations were obtained from long spin ups
of the component models.
In AOGCMs that do not use flux adjustments (see Table 8.1),
the initialisation methods tend to be more varied. The oceanic
components of many models are initialised using values
obtained either directly from an observationally based, gridded
data set (Levitus and Boyer, 1994; Levitus and Antonov, 1997;
Levitus et al., 1998) or from short ocean-only integrations that
used an observational analysis for their initial conditions. The
initial atmospheric component data are usually obtained from
atmosphere-only integrations using prescribed SSTs

I would have expected that a key validation step of models would be to take an instance of time, say some point 10 years ago, and let the models crank through that to verify the output matches real life. It may well be that the negative feedbacks in the system produce a stable state (or rising temps, or the actual plateau and fall), but without this sort of validation, I’m at a loss to assess what level of faith I should put in the models.

If you are complaining about the fact that they do not predict the timing of particular El Nino events…and other such internal variations…I don’t think this is relevant to the long-term predictions. By perturbing the initial conditions in the models, scientists can see that these internal variations are sensitive to the initial conditions…i.e., they get a different pattern of up-and-down jiggles in the global temperature. However, the prediction for the general trend in the global temperature over the timescale of decades to a century or so remains unchanged.

I moderately disagree with this. Small scale events (thunderstorms, tornadoes, etc) are pretty much invisible on the scale I think the models use. Larger scale things like hurricanes are quite problematic, and some modelers “seed” areas with larval tropical storms big enough to get the models’ attention. Tropical storms move a lot of heat poleward and upward, their loss may be a problem. I’m not as concerned about thunderstorms, perhaps I should be.
Bigger, longer events, including ENSOs really would be nice to model, really big, longterm events like the PDO ought to model well enough to be close to predictive. Those are the sorts of things that have feedback and delays that should lend themselves quite nicely to the scales available to current models. It wouldn’t be hard to convince me they’re more important outputs than are temperature traces.
Those are well beyond the math in weather forecast programs, but it would be nice they’d pop up in GCMs. Heck, when the IPCC talks about warming producing bigger storms, I’d like to see the model output or history that supports that. (BTW, one of my favorite head scratching graphs is at http://www.bluehill.org/annwind.gif and shows a remarkable decline in average wind speed at Blue Hill in Massachusetts from 15 to 13 mph over the last 20 years. It coincides with a decline in strong nor’easters. Mass coastal towns like Scituate used to have storms that flooded local basements frequently, those have tailed way off. I don’t think anyone has a believable explanation.)
Ultimately, the two things that makes me most down on models are 1) The CO2 absorption window is saturated. CO2 was a great GHG in its first 100 ppm, its not so great now and I’m not convinced that the GHG feedback parameter is being determined appropriately. 2) The IPCC public documents discount solar forcing, but history has too many examples of solar activity correlating with temperature, crop yield, etc to dismiss so readily.
Attempts to block research into the Cosmic Ray hypothesis and other non-GHG science is counter productive. The AGW folks who are so certain what the outcome will be should have encouraged enough funding to demonstrate they’re right. Perhaps they are, if so, we could have given that idea a decent burial a few years ago.

iceFree
August 22, 2008 8:23 pm
iceFree
August 22, 2008 8:29 pm
John McLondon
August 22, 2008 9:13 pm

On Lubos Motl’s blog, I think it is all half truths. The main difference between then (millions of years ago) and now is that we are producing CO2 at an alarming rate. It is interesting that Caillon’s et. al paper is quoted as the proof for the temperature CO2 time lag, without using their explanations. CO2’s lag on temperature was observed in the southern hemisphere. They admit that it is not CO2 that initiated the initial temperature increase (it was due to orbital forcing, etc.), but the CO2 produced from the temperature rise caused further increase in temperature. Now, we are just skipping the first part of waiting for some natural causes to increase CO2, by producing it ourselves.

Bobby Lane
August 22, 2008 11:27 pm

I have to say that I am rather puzzled by the running battle of words between Steve Talbot and Max (aka manacker). I don’t know what the main perspectives are on each side, so I am quite unable to direct my comments. I will, however, make mine clear as I am not a proponent of AGW being the main source of climate change on this planet over any period of time.
That said, I think it is signifcant that the latest climate models that I know of overestimate the positive feedbacks of various forcings and underestimate the strength of negative feedbacks. I think the testimony of Dr. Roy Spencer points out this aspect, and I would wait first (though others may not) for any research that may show he is incorrect. I will also cite the statement of APS member Roger Cohen (source link below), in which he says:
1. The recorded temperature rise is neither exceptional nor persistent.
2. Predictions of climate models are demonstrably too high, indicating a significant overestimate of the climate sensitivity (the response of the earth to increases in the incident radiation caused by atmospheric greenhouse gases). This is because the models, upon which the IPCC relies for their future projections, err in their calculations of key feedback and driving forces in the climate system.
Me: I think Dr. Spencer’s testimony is key about the this effect on the models and how much it causes them to err.
3. Natural effects have been and continue to be important contributors to variations in the earth’s climate, especially solar variability and decadal and multidecadal ocean cycles.
Me: I would think that a cooling stratosphere should be consisent with an less active sun. While a warming surface would be more consistent with natural processes rather than the alleged effects GHGs.
4. The recorded land-based temperature increase data are significantly exaggerated due to widespread errors in data gathering and inadequately corrected contamination by human activity. [Me: A point I think Anthony has sufficiently demonstrated in his surfacestations.org research]
5. The multitude of environmental and ecological effects blamed on climate change to date is either exaggerated or nonexistent. [Me: here his implication is AGW as to what he means by ‘climate change’]
http://www.climate-skeptic.com/2008/08/practically-a-s.html
And I will also give a quote directly from the Climate Skeptic:
“Only by assuming unbelievably high positive feedback numbers does the IPCC and other climate modelers get catastrophic warming forecasts. Such an assumption is hard to swallow – very few (like, zero) long-term stable natural processes (like climate) are dominated by high positive feedbacks (the IPCC forecasts assume 67-80% feedback factors, leading to forecasts 3x to 5x higher)….
Climate is a long-term quite stable process. It oscillates some, but never runs away. Temperatures in the past have already been many degrees higher and lower than they are today. If a degree or so is all it takes to start the climate snowball running down the infinite hill, then the climate should have already run down this hill in the past, but it never has. That is because long-term stable natural processes are generally dominated by negative, not positive, feedback.”
He goes on to say: “In fact, though most climate models assume positive feedback from the net of water processes (water vapor increase and cloud formation), in fact the IPCC admits we don’t even know the net sign of these factors. And most recent published work on feedback factors have demonstrated that climate does not seem to be dominated by positive feedback factors.”
http://www.climate-skeptic.com/2008/07/absoutely-price.html
I do not quote anything as authoritative on the subject (though Dr Spencer and Dr Cohen may be), but this is representative of my view on the science as I understand it. If the cooling affects of this La Nina are overpowering the warming affect of AGW now, then it is safe to say that in almost all cases nature overpowers whatever influence man has on the change in climate since nature is never static.

manacker
August 23, 2008 1:32 am

Hi Steven,
Coming back to your long rebuttal:
“We have been told by IPCC that anthropogenic GHGs (primarily CO2) are a major factor in the global warming our planet has experienced since 1976.
Well, I’d say since 1950 at least. They suggest the impact of anthropogenic
influences well before that, but it’s only in the second half of the 20thC that the attribution is confident.”
No, Peter. If you read AR4 WG1 closely, you will see that the emphasis is on the “poster period” following 1976.
“This is being presented as “it must be AGW because our models cannot explain it any other way”
That’s part of the view. The other part is the now very old scientific understanding of the influence of GHGs.”
“Very old scientific understanding” sounds nice, Steven, but if you read AR4 you will see multiple references to the “must be AGW because our models cannot explain it any other way” reasoning.
“Not much mention is made of previous periods of warming except the rather short sentence in AR4 WG1 Chapter 3 (p.240): “The picture prior to 1976 has essentially not changed and is therefore not repeated in detail here.”
Oh c’mon, Max, there’s stacks on previous warming (and cooling)! I’m not quite sure where to begin… but apart from the entire Palaeo chapter, let’s say you look up solar variability in Ch 2 and you’ll find a whole section on pre-20th century (2.7.1.2)…… “
Sorry, Steven, I am not talking about “paleo” proxy stuff. I am talking about early 20th century and late 19th century records as actually measured. IPCC does not even mention the late 19th century warming specifically and concedes that the early 20th century warming cannot be explained by the models. It offers rationalizations in the FAQ section for mid-20th century cooling, but these are not very convincing. All of this represents a major weakness in the IPCC justification for AGW as a principal driver of climate.
“Two “natural factors” that were significantly different in the late 20th century as compared to the most recent years are:
· Solar activity. This reached a 10,000-year high level of activity in the latter 20th century.
Perhaps so (there is uncertainty), but the extent of such variability, in terms of forcing influence, and the fact of there being no trend whilst temperatures have increased, needs to be considered.”
Yes, Steven, there is always “uncertainty”, as there is “uncertainty”about AGW as the principal forcing factor for 20th century warming, as there is also no “trend”.
“This has now come to an end and solar cycle 24 has started off with an extremely inactive sun.
Maybe! ;-)”
Are you disputing the fact that solar activity is very low since the advent of solar cycle 24?
“· ENSO cycles. These were very strong in the past 30 years, with six major El Nino events since 1973, as compared to only five in the preceding 70 years. This appears to have come to an end, as well, with La Nina events becoming more prevalent.
I think it’s very much too early to conclude that!!! Can you spot such a trend from this? I certainly can’t.”
It is very clear from the record that there were six major El Nino events in the past 30 years, compared to five in the previous 70 years. Is this a trend? I’d say so. Has it had an impact on temperature? It certainly did in 1997/98.
“But we shall see, Max, and I’d guess fairly soon – within a couple of years, perhaps (which is soon in climate terms).
Now, Pachauri’s dilemma is this.
If he concedes that these natural reversals are causing temperatures to cool today, then he has to concede that they might have had more to do with late-20th century warming than previously assumed.
No, that doesn’t follow at all. 2005 was, in one record, the hottest year. Your case depends upon 2008, which isn’t even over yet. Let’s guess at what it’s anomaly might be. (I’ll refer to the GISS record for ease of access, though it makes no difference which, tbh). My hunch is it might end up around +0.4C anomaly (I don’t know that, but you don’t know otherwise!). That would mean a ‘reversal’ from recent years. But look back in the record, and you can see equivalent or greater reversals at many points. There’s no more reason on the basis of one year’s evidence to reassess thinking than there was in the ’70s, 80s or 90s, when equivalent cooler years cropped up. I don’t think Pachauri or anyone else is surprised by natural variation! What is worthwhile, I think, is to compare the recent La Nina excursion with previous La Ninas. I think that shows a trend of higher lows.”
Your “hunch” is interesting but speculative. The past 8 years have shown no warming in all temperature records and 2008 is definitely colder than previous years. Is this the beginning of a new sharp cooling trend? Who knows? You refer to the GISS record. Based on recent revelations, this record is suspect. The Hadley record may be a bit less suspect, although repeated “forecasts” by Hadley “experts” of “record years” (which do not materialize) make it also a bit suspect. The tropospheric records show more recent cooling (although greenhouse theory tells us that the trposphere should warm more rapidly than the surface). Why is this?
“It is already acknowledged today that the all-time record warm year, 1998, was so warm because of a major El Nino event.
It was acknowledged at the time too, as I established further up the thread!”
And I established further up the thread that it was barely mentioned at the time, but very much ballyhooed several years later when this became politically expedient to distract from a subsequent cooling trend!
“The impact of solar activity is even more tricky for Pachauri. IPCC has limited the 2005 radiative forcing estimate for solar variability to a mere 0.12 W/m^2 (compared to anthropogenic CO2 at 1.66 W/m^2). It has done this by limiting the solar impact to that from direct solar irradiance alone, ignoring any indirect effects.
Excuse me, but that is simply not true! Feedbacks apply to all forcings, including solar. I have no idea where this notion you’ve presented comes from – can you offer a link? “
Yes, Steven, the link is IPSS 2007 SPM. Read it closely and you will see that solar forcing is 0.12 W/m^2 while CO2 forcing is 1.66 W/m^2 (both without “feedbacks”).
Feedbacks are an unsubstantiated fantasy programmed in by computer models. Recent physical observations have demonstrated that the positive feedbacks (water vapor, surface albedo) are essentially cancelled out by negative feedbacks (lapse rate, clouds), leaving the 2xCO2 climate sensitivity at around 0.7-0.8C, as postulated by IPCC without feedbacks.
“This gets to the root of the problem I have with the ’solar explanation’. In order to discount CO2 you need to discount feedbacks, but in order to explain temperature change as a result of solar you have to look for feedbacks (or amplification of some kind) of a much greater scale!”
This is a flawed supposition on your part, Steven. No feedbacks are required to account for all warming experienced to date. 20th century warming was around 0.6-0.7C. Solar impact was around 0.2-0.5C. Spurious effect from UHI effect was around 0.25-0.4C, so there is not much left for CO2. Taking the low end estimates for solar and UHI, we are left with around 0.3C for CO2, which checks out with the “no feedback” estimate of IPCC. Very simple. There is no need to assume a net positive feedback, because it just isn’t there, Steven.
“If we now conclude that an inactive sun is causing cooling today (as we know was the case during the Little Ice Age), we must concede that an active sun may have caused a larger part of the warming experienced in the late 20th century and that, therefore, our estimate of solar radiative forcing is much too low (and that of AGW too high).
Well, I don’t conclude that! How on earth can our estimate of solar forcing be too low unless you’re about to introduce some new feedbacks? We can measure solar irradiance by satellite now – it’s not as if we’re taking a wild guess.”
Sorry, Steven, we can only measure direct solar irradiance (as you say), but we cannot measure the indirect solar impact (for example from cosmic rays), as postulated by Svensmark. Let’s hope that the CLOUD experiment at CERN sheds new light on this area of “low level of scientific understanding” (as assessed by IPCC).
“A real dilemma.
Your dilemma, I’d say, rather than mine or Pachauri’s. There’s no hypothesis for explaining the warming by solar forcing unless you want to pursue the cosmic rays/clouds stuff, or unless you want to posit other feedbacks, in which case you’ll need to explain why they don’t apply to other forcings. And there is no correlation anyway between solar irradiance and temperature in the latter part of the 20th century. You seem to be very doubtful of AGW on the basis of a short-term lack of correlation, yet not doubtful of the solar notion despite a long-term lack of correlation. That puzzles me!”
Steven, the “fatal flaw” in Svensmark’s theory has been postulated by AGW supporters to be that after the 1980s the correlation does not seem to be valid (even though it is valid for many years, and even centuries, prior to 1980). Using the same standard, the AGW theory is also not valid for any period prior to 1976 or subsequent to 1998.
Hope this helps clear up the situation.
Regards,
Max

manacker
August 23, 2008 2:34 am

Bobby Lane has hit the nail on the head when he refers to negative feedbacks from clouds observed by Dr. Roy Spencer and states that he does not believe in “AGW being the main source of climate change on this planet over any period of time”.
IPCC tells us that the warming to be expected from 2xCO2 (without any feedbacks) is around 0.7C, and that the warming from other human GHGs is essentially cancelled out by cooling from human aerosols and land use changes.
Then IPCC tells us that the effect of all assumed feedbacks excluding clouds increases the 2xCO2 warming to 1.9C.
Including an assumed positive feedback from clouds, IPCC tells us that the 2xCO2 warming will be 3.2C. In other words, the assumed positive feedback from clouds increases the 2xCO2 warming from 1.9C to 3.2C.
IPCC does concede that “clouds remain the greatest source of uncertainty” and other studies cited by IPCC state that it is uncertain whether clouds result in a net positive or negative feedback.
Now, as Bobby Lane has pointed out, a recent (post IPCC) study by Roy Spencer has helped clear up some of this “greatest source of uncertainty”. This study, based on physical observations over a five-year period, shows that clouds have a strong negative (i.e. cooling) impact, essentially confirming an earlier hypothesis of Richard Lindzen. In effect, higher sea surface temperatures cause an increase in low altitude clouds (which reflect incoming radiation, thereby causing cooling) and a decrease in high altitude clouds (which absorb outgoing radiation, thereby causing warming).
This net negative feedback is estimated to essentially cancel out any positive feedbacks from water vapor and surface albedo, thereby reducing the 2xCO2 climate sensitivity back to around 0.7C (rather than 3.2C as estimated by IPCC).
In effect, this means that greenhouse warming will cause an increase of 0.7C from 1750 (280 ppm CO2) to 2100 (560 ppm). At 380 ppm today we have already seen around 45% of this warming (0.3C), leaving another 0.4C to be expected from today until the year 2100,
This is certainly not alarming and Bobby Lane is right.
Max

old construction worker
August 23, 2008 4:02 am

John McLondon (21:13:42)
According to the GHG models, what’s masking CO2 global warming the last several years?
Where are the GHG models dumping all the heat from the amplification of CO2? It’s not going into the oceans.
Why have the oceans shown a slight cooling trend? Where did all that “heat” in the pipe line go? Space?

John McLondon
August 23, 2008 6:22 am

Old Construction worker,
As I understand it AGW says that temperature will go up with increasing CO2 levels when all other variables are constant. Certainly those other variables are not constant, so it does not mean than we should have a monotonic increase in temperature with CO2 for every year. But on average (5 year, 10 year) when you can somewhat filter out other variables, global temperature will go up.
“Where are the GHG models dumping all the heat from the amplification of CO2? It’s not going into the oceans.”
We are not sure. Note that the sea levels has increased more than it should, consistent with ocean warming, and which cannot be accounted by melting ice alone. May be the heat went way down in the ocean (or may be to space)- see:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88520025
There may be other mechanisms that we do not yet understand – but CO2 – temperature has been studied for a long time. I think it is rational to base our policies on things we understand, rather than mechanisms that may or may not have any long term effect on the phenomenon.
Max,
When I read Spencer’s paper sometime ago, I came up with the impression that its applicability is highly limited (results from a small region, for a short period of time, etc). Spencer himself made that qualification in his conclusion, I believe. Although his blogs and comments are a lot stronger, but I have great difficulty in believing that part.

Steven Talbot
August 23, 2008 6:49 am

Hi Max,
Thanks for your further response. I won’t go through it point by point again, since we may be in danger of typing ourselves into early graves before we get to see what some of the future holds ;-). I think we’ve laid out the gist of our views, and I’m sure all these points will be revisited again. In short, you think that temperature variation can be accounted for by solar variation, and I do not (I don’t know yet what your explanation of a cooling stratosphere during a period of warming troposphere would be).
I’ll pick up a couple of points I may not have commented on yet.
The tropospheric records show more recent cooling (although greenhouse theory tells us that the trposphere should warm more rapidly than the surface). Why is this?
The satellite computations of lower troposphere temperatures show greater and speedier response to internal climate events than the surface records. This is true both negatively and positively, for example with ENSO events and with the response to, and recovery from, the Pinatubo eruption. I’ll ‘predict’ that the next El Nino will see the troposphere responding at a greater positive rate than the surface (I wouldn’t mind a bet on that!).
Svensmark/cosmic rays – yes, the CLOUD experiment will be interesting, but recent papers have found no correlation between cosmic rays and cloud cover, e.g.:
http://folk.uio.no/jegill/papers/Kristjansson_etal_2008_ACPD.pdf
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7327393.stm
The ‘fatal flaw’ is not just a matter of the direct correlation with solar activity breaking down, but also of there being no trend in cosmic rays since the 50s. Still, it remains to be seen whether or not there is supporting evidence for the hypothesis to come.
Incidentally, I’m somewhat amused that you think “indirect solar impact (for example from cosmic rays)” should be considered when you say elsewhere that “feedbacks are an unsubstantiated fantasy programmed in by computer models”!
(A couple of footnotes:
1. I tend to mention GISS first because its long-term trend is less than HadCRUT (and RSS), and it uses satellite data for SSTs, so that seems to me to make it less open to the charge of cherry-picking. But, as I said, my point above applies regardless of which record you wish to refer to.
2. I accept neither your assertion of the level of “spurious effect from UHI” nor that the GISS records are “suspect” beyond their stated error bands. Perhaps we’d best agree to differ for now on those matters.)
Regards,
Steven

Steven Talbot
August 23, 2008 8:04 am

Max,
a recent (post IPCC) study by Roy Spencer has helped clear up some of this “greatest source of uncertainty”. This study, based on physical observations over a five-year period, shows that clouds have a strong negative (i.e. cooling) impact, essentially confirming an earlier hypothesis of Richard Lindzen.
You are referring to this paper? –
http://www.weatherquestions.com/Spencer_07GRL.pdf
The references to Lindzen are: “potentially supporting
Lindzen’s ‘‘infrared iris’’ hypothesis” and “nominally supportive of Lindzen’s ‘‘infrared iris’’ hypothesis”. That is not at all the same as your words “essentially confirming”. Confirmation would call for a much higher level of evidence.
Spencer’s ideas are interesting and may turn out to be important, but there’s not much meat on the bones as yet. I look forward to his next paper. As of now, I think your suggestion that anything’s been cleared up is way too confident.
I agree with John that Spencer’s blog comments are notably stronger. I feel pretty cautious about that. For example, he states:
It takes a full five years of human greenhouse gas emissions to add 1 molecule of CO2 to every 100,000 molecules of air.
I’m sure that Roy Spencer is well aware that some 99% of ‘air’ is not GHGs, so what is the purpose of the above statement?
Hmm.

Joel Shore
August 23, 2008 8:17 am

Bobby Lane says: “I think the testimony of Dr. Roy Spencer points out this aspect, and I would wait first (though others may not) for any research that may show he is incorrect.”
Well, there have already been some discussions of how much of the latest work of Spencer is misguided…see: and
However, I will point out to you if you are going to wait until there are absolutely no alternative explanations being proposed by any climate scientist anywhere before you accept AGW, you might as well be completely intellectually honest and say that you will never accept AGW because I can tell you right now that there will always be scientists who can propose that the current ideas are wrong and he has a better idea. This is particularly true in areas of science like AGW that arouse strong controversy because of their policy implications and how those go against some people’s strongly held political beliefs.
As for your quotes from the “climate skeptic” website concerning feedbacks: First of all, not to quibble too much, but the estimate of climate sensitivity from doubling CO2 in the absence of feedbacks is about 1.1 +- 0.1 C as I understand it, so the IPCC estimate of 2 to 4.5 C for the equilibrium climate sensitivity is more like 2X-4X the bare value, not 3X-5X. Second of all, I know of no general rule concerning whether positive or negative feedbacks dominate in a system. In fact, positive feedbacks to the point of actual instabilities are quite ubiquitous in nature…being responsible for “pattern formation”, i.e., the process by which snowflakes form their shapes, trees form their shapes, zebras get their stripes, ripple patterns form in windblown sand, and so forth. Also note that he seems to be equating positive feedbacks with an outright instability but, as I have explained above, a positive feedback does not necessarily lead to instability…And, in fact, the positive feedbacks postulated do not predict any Venus-like climate instability. Furthermore, such positive feedbacks are necessary to understand the paleoclimate data as we currently understand it…So, a claim that the feedback is not net positive has to then also provide an alternate explanation for the paleoclimate data.
Bobby Lane says: “If the cooling affects of this La Nina are overpowering the warming affect of AGW now, then it is safe to say that in almost all cases nature overpowers whatever influence man has on the change in climate since nature is never static.”
It is not safe to say that at all. In fact, it is demonstrably wrong to say that. The warming due to anthropogenic forcings is currently estimated to be somewhere around 0.2 C per decade or 0.02 C per year. That means that if climate varies due to natural process like El Nino and La Nina by more than this amount from year-to-year, which it easily does, then natural processes can be dominant over the short term of a year to several years. And, in fact, this is exactly what is seen by climate models run with increasing greenhouse gases. They do not exhibit a steady year-to-year rise but instead show the same internal variability superimposed on an upward trend.
There is an almost perfect analogy with the seasonal cycle. Here in Rochester today, the high temperature is expected to be in the mid to upper 80s. Earlier this week, it was only around 70. If you look at the temperature trendline over the last several days, it is steeply positive. And yet, according to the seasonal cycle, it should be getting cooler. Do you think this prove that natural variability in the weather overpowers the seasonal cycle?

Joel Shore
August 23, 2008 8:21 am

Whoops…sorry! I left out the links concerning some responses to Spencer’s recent research from my last post. Here they are:
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/05/how-to-cook-a-graph-in-three-easy-lessons/langswitch_lang/sk
http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/08/01/spencers-folly-3/

manacker
August 23, 2008 10:30 am

Hi Steven,
Believe we have a bit of word-parsing going on here about the level of validation given to Lindzen’s “infrared iris” hypothesis by Spencer’s observations.
The case for a strong positive feedback from clouds was always weak and conjectural.
As Ramanathan stated, “the magnitude as well as the sign of the cloud feedback is uncertain”.
http://www-ramanathan.ucsd.edu/FCMTheRadiativeForcingDuetoCloudsandWaterVapor.pdf
IPCC 2007 SPM conceded, “Cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty.”
Thus, it seemed strange to me, despite all this uncertainty, that IPCC AR4 showed a very strong warming impact from cloud feedback (2xCO2 sensitivity of 1.9C without clouds and 3.2C with clouds).
Spencer’s physical observations have subsequently helped clear up this “largest source of uncertainty”, giving credence to Lindzen’s hypothesis that the net feedback from clouds is strongly negative, as opposed to strongly positive as had previously been assumed in all the models cited by IPCC.
This raises serious doubts about a 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of 3.2C, as assumed previously by IPCC.
Based on these new findings, it would appear that a more reasonable estimate would be somewhere around 0.7C to 0.8C, as estimated by Lindzen and Shaviv/Veizer.
Regards,
Max

manacker
August 23, 2008 10:34 am

Note to Joel Shore.
You provided links to RealClimate and Tamino blurbs regarding Spencer’s physical observations on cloud feedbacks.
RealClimate? Tamino?
Get serious.
Max

manacker
August 23, 2008 11:09 am

Hi Steven,
You stated: “I accept neither your assertion of the level of “spurious effect from UHI” nor that the GISS records are “suspect” beyond their stated error bands. Perhaps we’d best agree to differ for now on those matters.”
Whether or not you accept the notion that the surface record suffers from the “spurious effect from UHI”, there are plenty of reports from all over the world that confirm that this is so. If you would like references to several of these studies, please let me know.
The attempt by IPCC to counter these with the “calm night / windy night” Parker study is feeble and raises the question, “if Parker is trying to disprove an urban heat island distortion to the temperature record, why doesn’t he simply provide nearby urban and rural records as proof that there is no such distortion?” (I believe you and I both know the answer to this question.)
The IPCC statement that UHI effects have a negligible influence of less than 0.006°C per decade is a “statement of faith”, which ignores the many studies out there that say otherwise.
As to errors in the GISS record, the US record had to be corrected recently, resulting in 1998 no longer being the record warm year (instead it was 1934). Under the US Freedom of Information Act GISS will have to “open their books” a bit more than Hadley, so we’ll see what else comes up.
But my observation was also partially based on the fact that the man in charge of GISS is James E. Hansen, who hides behind his mantle of a supposedly objective climate scientist (paid by the US taxpayer to provide unbiased climate/weather info), but who has in fact become a fear monger and policical activist.
But we’ll have to “agree to disagree” on that one.
Regards,
Max

John McLondon
August 23, 2008 11:43 am

Max, “Spencer’s physical observations have subsequently helped clear up this “largest source of uncertainty”, giving credence to Lindzen’s hypothesis that the net feedback from clouds is strongly negative, as opposed to strongly positive as had previously been assumed in all the models cited by IPCC.”
I think it is far too early to make any conclusions on this. I will just ignore Spenser’s testimony and blogs and just look at his publications, and as Steven, I look forward to reading the new once when they come out. But when I look at those who cited Spencer’s publications from last year (at least one paper is relevant), I do not see any indications that your suggestions are true. These exaggerated conclusions can be found only in the blogs.
It is rather interesting to notice that when someone is going to publish a paper countering AGW, there is this long advertisement and publicity that starts six months to an year ahead of time (like in Spencer’s case). Unlike those papers supporting AGW, you hardly hear anything about them ahead of time, when they are going to come out, etc., sometimes we learn about some of them after its publication.

Steven Talbot
August 23, 2008 12:05 pm

Max,
it seemed strange to me, despite all this uncertainty, that IPCC AR4 showed a very strong warming impact from cloud feedback (2xCO2 sensitivity of 1.9C without clouds and 3.2C with clouds).
Reference, please?
And –
RealClimate? Tamino?
Get serious.

Roy Spencer? Get serious 😉

manacker
August 23, 2008 12:28 pm

Hi Steven,
Just one example of the UHI effect (taken from Anthony Watts’ site).
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3290/2790438226_7cedf5f551_b.jpg
The two stations are located near Sacramento, CA. The temperature record covers a 70-year period (1937-2006).
The “good” example (Orland) is a well-sited station near a grassy field and little urbanization.
The “bad” example (Marysville) is located near an asphalt parking lot and buildings with major signs of urbanization over the time period.
The “spurious” UHI warming signal is 0.2°C per decade or a linear increase over the period of 1.4°C.
Of course this is just one example. But a picture is always worth a thousand words.
Regards,
Max

manacker
August 23, 2008 12:43 pm

Hi Steven,
You asked for references to IPCC claims on cloud feedback impact on climate sensitivity.
Please refer to AR4 WG1 Chapter 8 (p.633).
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter8.pdf
“Using feedback parameters from Figure 8.14, it can be estimated that in the presence of water vapour, lapse rate and surface albedo feedbacks, but in the absence of cloud feedbacks, current GCMs would predict a climate sensitivity (±1 standard deviation) of roughly 1.9°C ± 0.15°C (ignoring spread from radiative forcing differences). The mean and standard deviation of climate sensitivity estimates derived from current GCMs are larger (3.2°C ± 0.7°C) essentially because the GCMs all predict a positive cloud feedback (Figure 8.14) but strongly disagree on its magnitude.”
Hope this clear it up.
Regards,
Max

Steven Talbot
August 23, 2008 12:49 pm

Hi Max,
Just one example…
And what does GISS do to cancel out UHI? You present your example as if they weren’t aware of it!
Rgds

manacker
August 23, 2008 1:01 pm

Hi Steven,
For some strange reason you seem to have problems with the credentials of Roy Spencer or Richard Lindzen as a climate scientists, but prefer RealClimate (Gavin Schmidt) and the anonymous “Tamino”.
We know who Gavin Schmidt is (a computer modeling guru) but Ta-who?
Last I heard, Tamino was the handsome prince in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”, that pranced off into the deep woods with a magic flute to save the beautiful princess, Pamina, from some bad guy; it has a happy ending plus lots of great music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magic_Flute#Act_1
But this Tamino?
Is it the handsome prince or (as Steve McIntyre has written) a data analyst who still believes in the validity of the “hockey stick”?
http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2920
Yeah I read Tamino’s “Spencer’s Folly” blurb. Lots of good graphs, some fancy formulae, but not very convincing. Guess I’ll follow the advice, mostly coming from AGW-supporters, to “trust the climate experts” and go with Spencer (and Lindzen) on this one.
Regards,
Max

manacker
August 23, 2008 1:22 pm

Note to John McLondon
It has been my observation that all reports that somehow indicate that our climate is changing dangerously and that we are all at fault, due to our consumption of fossil fuels get major media publicity and frightening headlines.
Even when Hadley “experts” make their annual prediction “next year is going to be a record hot year!” this gets big play in the media, with “climatologists” clucking about human culpability. On the contrary, when the year did not turn out to be a record hot year (as it has now three times in a row), there is little ballyhoo, maybe a sentence like “it was the seventh warmest year in this century”.
So I cannot agree with your statement that there is more publicity surrounding “anti-AGW” papers than “pro-AGW” ones. Just look around you, John, and you’ll see that it is not true.
Regards,
Max

Dr Slop
August 23, 2008 1:33 pm

Jack McLondon:

Ut is rather interesting to notice that when someone is going to publish a paper countering AGW, there is this long advertisement and publicity that starts six months to an year ahead of time (like in Spencer’s case). Unlike those papers supporting AGW, you hardly hear anything about them ahead of time, when they are going to come out, etc., sometimes we learn about some of them after its publication.

So, you’ve not heard of Wahl and Amman, who indicated by press release in May 2005 the contents of papers not actually published until September 2007 (those contents being substantially revised over that period, to the point where they no longer proved what the authors claimed they proved).

Steven Talbot
August 23, 2008 1:49 pm

Max,
For some strange reason you seem to have problems with the credentials of Roy Spencer or Richard Lindzen as a climate scientists, but prefer RealClimate (Gavin Schmidt) and the anonymous “Tamino”.
No , I don’t have problems with RS as a climate scientist (let’s stick to the subject for now and not get on to Lindzen). And no, I don’t ‘prefer’ RC or tamino. I prefer my own assessments, for whatever little they’re worth.
As a climate scientist, I note RS’s comments regarding the UAH record in advance of the huge 2005 correction, and his lack of retrospective commentary (apology even) since.
The problem I have with Roy Spencer is that I think his blog is reprehensively misleading. For example, on his ‘front page’ he presents, without qualification, a “corrected version” of the Mann et al. ‘hockey stick’. This is based upon M&M’s recalculations. But M&M themselves did not suggest that their recalculations represented a plausible proxy record of the temperature history. I think you will know this. However, Spencer presents it without qualification (with its laughable indication of the MWP peaking at 1420!).
Then, again without any qualification, he presents the Lohle 2007 graph with his own squiggles added. If you are truly a sceptic, then I must believe that you will have reservations about Loehle 2007. Spencer, however, suggests no reservation or qualification whatsoever.
I have already commented upon his ridiculous remarks about CO2 as a percentage of the atmosphere, when he purports to be discussing its contribution to the greenhouse effect.
Perhaps Roy SPencer will have something important to add to scientific inquiry. In my view, his blog is an obvious example of manipulation driven by the desire to persuade (unsuspecting?) readers of his point of view.
I think Roy Spencer occasionally posts here. I would welcome his views in response to my criticisms, should be happen to be reading.

Steven Talbot
August 23, 2008 1:58 pm

Oh, and by the way, I forgot to mention the most obviously egregious error on Spencer’s blog, viz. –
Fig. 2. The Mann et al. (1998) proxy (mostly tree ring) reconstruction of global temperature over the last 1,000 years is believed to have erroneously minimized the warmth of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP).
The HS graph is actually from MBH99. It is not a reconstruction of global temperatures, but of NH temperatures!
Yes, Roy Spencer is a climate scientist, but not one who takes enough care in what he is saying for my tastes.

manacker
August 23, 2008 2:28 pm

Hi Steven,
Read your various critiques of Spencer but failed to see what this has to do wit his physical observations showing a negative feedback from clouds, as postulated by Lindzen.
But let’s leave it at that.
Regards,
Max

manacker
August 23, 2008 2:30 pm

Just read the Bishop Hill blog on the miraculous Wahl and Amman paper cited by Dr Slop.
OUCH!

John McLondon
August 23, 2008 2:45 pm

Dr. Slop,
This is what I said, “..Unlike those papers supporting AGW, you hardly hear anything about them ahead of time…”
There are exceptions, of course, but it it not a rule. We HARDLY hear much. The list can be long on the other side: Spenser’s two papers, Ernst Beck’s paper (on chemical analysis of CO2 – the entire manuscript was available months before it was published), etc. etc.

Steven Talbot
August 23, 2008 2:53 pm

Read your various critiques of Spencer but failed to see what this has to do wit his physical observations showing a negative feedback from clouds, as postulated by Lindzen.
Simply that you questioned my “problems with the credentials of Roy Spencer “, so I have explained my doubts.
As for your assertions of the significance of his “observations”, well, we shall see what comes from his next publication. Frankly, your assertions as to their significance don’t amount to anything until we have seen whatever substance they have. I am a little but puzzled by the way you seem to denigrate Hansen (for example) but assert the significance of Spencer in advance of publication. Are you only sceptical of matters that do not accord with your inclination?

John McLondon
August 23, 2008 3:15 pm

Max,
“On the contrary, when the year did not turn out to be a record hot year (as it has now three times in a row), there is little ballyhoo, maybe a sentence like “it was the seventh warmest year in this century”.”
Prediction of record hot year will always get media publicity, I believe record cold predictions will get equally intense publicity too. Since temperature has been going up, predictions were mostly up. So, I think we do not have enough empirical evidence to conclude that there is bias (but there is a possibility that you may be right about the media).
But this is different – my comment was more about published papers. There is always a hoopla after the publication, but it appears odd to have major stories about manuscripts that are not even in the submission stage (like in Spencer’s case).
Cheers!

old construction worker
August 23, 2008 5:04 pm

John McLondon (06:22:12)
Sorry, you still didn,t answer my question.
“Where are the GHG models dumping all the heat from the amplification of CO2? It’s not going into the oceans.”
Where are the GHG models dumping all the heat from the amplification of CO2?
What do the GHG model use to mask “CO2 global warming” for the last several years?
Joel Shore (08:17:55)
‘However, I will point out to you if you are going to wait until there are absolutely no alternative explanations being proposed by any climate scientist anywhere before you accept AGW,’
Alternative explanations at this point and time are still unknown and the same holds true for the CO2 drives the theory with assumptions such as CO2 leds temperature, CO2 2.5 amplification, water vapor being a positive feedback, Hot Spots not to mention the lack of V & V of data, codes and forecasting principles. And you want our policy maker to regulate CO2 in the name of sound science?
From what I understand, and I could be wrong, “Sun Spot Activity” has a higher correlation/confidence level with “temperature” than CO2.

Joel Shore
August 23, 2008 5:44 pm

John McLondon says: “The list can be long on the other side: Spenser’s two papers, Ernst Beck’s paper (on chemical analysis of CO2 – the entire manuscript was available months before it was published), etc. etc.”
One might add that it is a bit generous to call Ernst Beck’s paper published at all. The “journal” where it was published is received in a grand total of 25 libraries around the world and isn’t even listed amongst the top 6000 journals that have their impact factors measured (see http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/esthag-w/2005/aug/policy/pt_skeptics.html ). And, of course, the reason it could never be published in a real journal is because it is just nonsense; my own opinion is that I would be better off arguing against a young earth creationist than someone who doesn’t even acknowledge the validity of the accepted CO2 record. I think believing in a low climate sensitivity goes against a pretty large body of scientific data but it isn’t a completely illegitimate belief for a scientist to have (and, in fact, science is probably better off having a few scientists who, because of their own personal biases or whatever, are pushing unorthodox beliefs that go against a lot of the current understanding). However, not accepting the CO2 record is really not a legitimate scientific belief at this point.

John McLondon
August 23, 2008 7:26 pm

Old Construction Worker:
“Sorry, you still didn,t answer my question.”
Yes, I have nothing to answer because I do not agree with your premise. I do not really see a cooling, the five year average is still going up.
Your question is a generalization of why there is temperature variation from year to year, what happens to all the heat if next year is cooler than this year (or if there is no changes for a number of years in a row)? One can come up with many reasons: Changes in different ocean currents, changes in atmospheric currents, Sun spots, changes in atmospheric water vapor distribution, etc etc. Also, as I pointed out earlier, the sea level rise is consistent with increasing water temperature, may be deep down. I am not a climate scientist, but it does not appear to me that there is some requirement that rise in trapped energy should always result as increasing temperature – first law of thermodynamics does not require that; it only requires that an equivalent amount of work must be done by the system. Now, if we take a system approach, systems are not always damped (with feedbacks) properly to show a proportional input output variation, most often systems are under-damped, and the response will show a damped oscillation – since earth is in a dynamic equilibrium, it is not all that surprising to see an oscillatory response in temperature, going more rapid than it should, then slowing down, again rapidly moving up etc. This is a classic example from the controls theory.

John McLondon
August 23, 2008 7:31 pm

Joel, Yes. I am glad you said that !!

August 23, 2008 8:56 pm

Regarding Beck, et al:
As Dr. Beck has conclusively shown, CO2 levels have routinely exceeded 400 ppmv prior to the Industrial Revolution: click
As we can see, those CO2 measurements were taken in the middle of the ocean. The accuracy of those CO2 measurements, when compared with current CO2 measurements, is within +/- 9 ppmv. [Keep in mind that we are talking about a range of CO2 concentration up to 450 ppmv.]
Other CO2 measurements taken in southern Sweden in the early 1900’s showed CO2 levels of around 400 ppmv — easily exceeding today’s CO2 levels.
More CO2 measurements, taken on the Baltic sea, also showed levels exceeding 400 ppmv, which were significantly higher than current levels.
The Alarmist contingent is desperately trying to discredit Beck’s thoroughly reviewed history of CO2 measurements, which have been shown to be extremely accurate.
Why?
Because Beck shows that high CO2 concentrations have little or nothing to do with human activity. That is another big nail in the repeatedly falsified AGW/CO2/climate catastrophe hypothesis.

John McLondon
August 23, 2008 9:07 pm

Come on Smokey, try to be reasonable, please. Joel is absolutely correct – that was a silly work. It is like measuring CO2 at the old busy train stations when they were using coal.

manacker
August 23, 2008 11:57 pm

Hi Steven,
You wrote, “I am a little but puzzled by the way you seem to denigrate Hansen (for example) but assert the significance of Spencer in advance of publication.”
This is a convoluted sentence, Steven. I do not “assert the significance of Spencer in advance of publication”. I just pointed out that his physical observations demonstrate a strong negative feedback from clouds, and that this seems to validate a hypothesis postulated earlier by Lindzen. You apparently have a hard time accepting this, because it does not validate your own belief system that clouds should cause a positive feedback with higher temperatures.
As for Hansen: at one point in the past, he was still an objective scientist, but something happened. As his recent testimony before the US Congress as well as the never-ending disaster blurbs he sends out continuously show, he has become an alarmist and a political activist rather than an objective scientist.
Regards,
Max

manacker
August 24, 2008 12:05 am

Note to John McLondon
To simply write off Beck’s findings on historic atmospheric CO2 concentrations is foolish, John.
Just as it is foolish to assume that we know everything about what causes atmospheric CO2 concentrations to rise or fall, and to assume that this is all a function of human fossil fuel consumption.
I’m sure you know how to write ASS-U-ME.
Regards,
Max

manacker
August 24, 2008 12:13 am

Message to John McLondon
You wrote: “I do not really see a cooling, the five year average is still going up.”
Forget the “five year average”, just look at the data as they are published. All records show a cooling since 2001 (average is -0.08C per decade, satellite records show -0.13C per decade).
If you are unable to see this, I would recommend you go to your optometrist and get your glasses checked.
Regards,
Max

Steven Talbot
August 24, 2008 2:16 am

Beck’s work is truly remarkable – quite extraordinary, in fact. I hope that those who doubt the AGW story will do their very, very best to put it at the forefront of their arguments.

August 24, 2008 3:01 am

John McLondon:
In my post above I had deliberately used Beck’s CO2 measurements only from isolated locations such as a ship, taken during a scientific cruise crossing the South Atlantic ocean [see the description at the bottom of the page], and CO2 measurements over a seven year period taken from a sparsely populated island off southern of Sweden on the desolate Baltic coast, far away from any large town [see the picture of the location]; and CO2 measurements taken from the even more windy and desolate Ayrshire coast of Scotland.
Those CO2 measurements are comparable to the current temperature measurements taken using a properly set up Stevenson screen in a rural location. They have been replicated and compared with current CO2 measurement techniques. No one has credibly falsified their accuracy [argued about some details, which were routinely answered by Beck? Yes. Falsified? No].
For you to now claim that “…that was a silly work. It is like measuring CO2 at the old busy train stations when they were using coal,” displays either gross ignorance, or deliberate mendacity. In your case I suspect the former, after reading your worried response to the fantastic article that claimed the Earth might be running out of oxygen.
Mindlessly disparaging Albert Einstein’s contemporaries as ‘silly’ in their almost anal-retentive methodology — which has been recorded, replicated and verified — is the lamest and most desperate of arguments. Would you similarly disparage the results of the Michelson/Morley experiments in the 1800’s measuring of the speed of light, or those of Illingworth, who refined their accuracy to within .06 percent? Eighteenth century scientists were certainly more meticulous, and kept better and more detailed records, than the purveyors of the Hockey Stick, GISS, and the UN/IPCC — who still refuse to adequately archive their taxpayer-funded methodology to the public. Tell us, please: what are they hiding?
I really recommend that you study Dr. Beck’s methods with an open mind, if you can. Beck’s work is thorough and meticulous. It compares with modern measurements to within 3% [+/- 9 ppmv}, and it clearly shows that atmospheric CO2 levels have routinely exceeded 400 ppmv in the nineteenth century [and also during WWII, which is to be expected]. Naturally, the True Believers in AGW catastrophe can not abide credible information like this.
Making ad hominem attacks against the 19th century scientists who were extremely exacting in their measurements, and who did it out of scientific curiosity rather than for easy grant money, and who were known and judged by their peers, displays the closed mind typical of the AGW/CO2/climate catastrophe purveyors — whose defining trait is to promptly disparage any individual, or any scientific group, that doesn’t toe their AGW line. I had hoped you were better than that.

Steven Talbot
August 24, 2008 7:41 am

…it clearly shows that atmospheric CO2 levels have routinely exceeded 400 ppmv in the nineteenth century
Not only that, Smokey, but Beck’s work also clearly shows, from the 64,000 observations taken at the edge of the city of Bremen during an eighteen month period, that CO2 concentrations vary from month to month in excess of 100ppm! – a truly remarkable realisation, showing that our understanding of the atmosphere has been completely wrong. He is an extraordinary scientist who has, by the addition of a mere 6,000 observations from elsewhere, been able to demonstrate that this enormous and hitherto unrealised flux in CO2 has been a worldwide phenomenon over the centuries, at a scale and pace of variation which only came to an end in 1958, by curious coincidence at exactly the same time that Keeling started recording CO2 at Mauna Loa.
A little know fact, and one that offers obvious confirmation of Beck’s work, is that Keeling also found that the CO2 measurements he was taking before establishing his base at Mauna Loa showed a range of concentrations and rate of change from one month to another that would have confirmed Beck’s findings. Keeling had tried various locations for CO2 with the same extraordinary results, and it was only entirely by chance that the CO2 concentration established a steady monotonic rise once he started at Mauna Loa. Keeling’s earlier results have doubtless been suppressed by climate catastrophe purveyors, but now that Beck has demonstrated what he has the truth must come out. I urge you strongly to publicise this work as widely as possible.

John McLondon
August 24, 2008 9:07 am

Max,
Let us address issues one by one.
“If you are unable to see this, I would recommend you go to your optometrist and get your glasses checked.”
My eyes are just fine. Thanks.
“To simply write off Beck’s findings on historic atmospheric CO2 concentrations is foolish”
It is not that simple. I have gone through that manuscript many times, then only I came to my conclusion. I believe I had the manuscript almost six months before it was published. To summarize that work, quality control (which is one of the key requirements stressed in this very website) is almost non-existent and the methodologies could use lots of improvements. It is published in a journal that does not have any reputation. What makes me unhappy about some of the AGW skeptics is not about whether CO2 cause temperature rise, this is a scientific issue which we can discuss; but it is rather their approach where they generally dismiss mountains of published work in respected journals and openly talk about their disdain to the peer review process, and then they will tell us that Beck’s and Scott Armstrong’s work (telling that unless we use his marketing forecasting techniques in scientific predictions, the results are meaningless) published in Energy and Environment are so monumental that they changed (or will change) the course of climate science. Scott Armstrong’s paper is one of those papers, I believe, available way before its publication. At least Spencer’s work is in far better journals, but his claims are much more reasonable in his papers. But the specific papers you are using are not out yet, and he went Congress to influence policies based on a work that has not been scrutinized yet, and it seems to me that you are essentially taking his views without waiting for what other scientists have to say about it when you wrote “I just pointed out that his physical observations demonstrate a strong negative feedback from clouds, and that this seems to validate a hypothesis postulated earlier by Lindzen.” I think if we simply believed what Spencer and his group said when they came up with his first satellite observations years ago, we would have been in real trouble. In fact I believe Lindzen used those early satellite data and Spencer’s interpretation to claim atmospheric cooling for a while (even before 2001). It took years for scientists to find out the errors and to propose appropriate corrections, to get accurate interpretation, and the cooling went away.
“Just as it is foolish to assume that we know everything about what causes atmospheric CO2 concentrations to rise or fall, and to assume that this is all a function of human fossil fuel consumption.”
I do not assume that we know everything about anything (in general, I take Marvin Minsky’s position here). But the overwhelming scientific opinion about the recent rise in CO2 is clear, it is from fossil fuel.
“I’m sure you know how to write ASS-U-ME.”
?!!
“Forget the “five year average”, just look at the data as they are published. All records show a cooling since 2001 (average is -0.08C per decade, satellite records show -0.13C per decade).”
In such slowly developing processes, patterns will emerge only slowly, and although each component of the process may be deterministic, the interaction between them can make such systems highly complex, and to some degree, stochastic. That is why a long term average is necessary to understand the trend. There is nothing magical about the year 2001, and AGW does not say, year by year temperature must go up. As I wrote earlier, application of a simple controls theory will tell us that, not a monotonic increase but an oscillatory increase with long term regression pointing upward movement.

John McLondon
August 24, 2008 9:23 am

Smokey,
“Mindlessly disparaging Albert Einstein’s contemporaries as ’silly’ in their almost anal-retentive methodology..”
I did not disagree with Einstein, I only said that Beck’s work is silly.

Editor
August 24, 2008 10:04 am

manacker (00:05:19) in a note to John McLondon
“I’m sure you know how to write ASS-U-ME.”
I’ve never had a reason to write that, I’ve found I can debate people without resorting to sophomoric misspellings.

Joel Shore
August 24, 2008 11:16 am

Steven Talbot says: “Beck’s work is truly remarkable – quite extraordinary, in fact. I hope that those who doubt the AGW story will do their very, very best to put it at the forefront of their arguments.”
I’ll second that…I think it is especially important to do this when you skeptical folks submit comments to places like CCSP. I can pretty much guarantee that the more you mention the work of Beck, the more likely that your comments will be given the weight that I believe that they deserve.
REPLY: I’ll agree. Personally I don’t put much stock in Beck’s work, because like the variability of the temperature measurement environment at surface stations, the variability of the environment in the chemical analysis methods also is questionable. Many of the CO2 measurements were taken in or near cities. We all know what cities do to temperature measurement, and given they are CO2 islands as well as heat islands, they should not be the primary place for globally representative measurements. – Anthony

John McLondon
August 24, 2008 11:52 am

Ric Werme (10:04:44) :
“I’ve never had a reason to write that, I’ve found I can debate people without resorting to sophomoric misspellings.”
Thanks Ric….
Strange!!
John

manacker
August 24, 2008 12:13 pm

Note to John McLondon
Yes. I have gone through Beck’s study in detail, as well. It shows a lot of localized variances in a supposedly “well-mixed greenhouse gas”, and I agree with Anthony that we should not place too much emphasis on this study. It reflects some of the problems that can arise when you are taking measurements next to urban areas (as Anthony has documented well with surface temperatures).
As far as 5-year averages versus actual measurements. Each has its place I am sure. But if I want to know what is going on today, I’ll check the actual measurement rather than a 5-year average. I have seen “averaging” used too many times (outside climate studies) to ignore or gloss over a recent downturn.
The record shows that global average temperature at both the surface and the troposphere is cooling since 2001. Will it continue to do so? You do not know the answer to this question any more than I do. IPCC does not know the answer to this question either.
One thing appears certain. The IPCC prediction of 0.2C warming per decade in the early 21st century appears to have been off the mark. But even there, who knows what will happen?
Regards,
Max

August 24, 2008 1:32 pm

John McLondon says…

“…the overwhelming scientific opinion about the recent rise in CO2 is clear, it is from fossil fuel”… “I do not really see a cooling, the five year average is still going up.”

‘Overwhelming scientific opinion’? John, please, we’re talking about planet Earth here, not a galaxy far, far away. Despite your undoubted true belief that the Earth’s five year [temperature] average ‘is still going up’, the official record contradicts you: click
Note that even NASA/GISS is forced to admit to global cooling. In total, at least five primary sources show continuous global cooling since 2002.
George Orwell would probably add to your statement that the planet’s five year average temperature ‘is still going up’: “…and black is white, up is down, evil is good, and wrong is right.”
I should know better than to make sense to the true believers whose minds are closed tight, impervious to reason, and which no physical fact could possibly change. So OK, John, just to make you happy, I hereby agree with you:
– That the planet is coming to a boil, and every day we’re closer to Al Gore’s and James Hansen’s ten year deadline leading to irreversible climate catastrophe [first put forth in 1988];
– That nothing happening to the climate is natural, and it’s all the fault of humans, especially those evil, ignorant Americans;
– That with enough money, climate change can be stopped;
– That all the ice at the poles is melting, and we’ll be able to kayak across the North Pole later on this year;
– That the planet is running out of oxygen;
– That the endless ad hominem attacks, present in every post by the climate alarmist crowd, are an acceptable substitute for actual science, and that these attacks legitimately take the place of your own [nonexistent] publications;
– That peer review is always legitimate when issued by the mutual back-scratching climate clique identified in the Wegman Report;
– That the many refereed and peer-reviewed skeptics’ papers falsifying the AGW/climate catastrophe hypothesis can never be legitimate, and that the endless nitpicking and ad hominem attacks by alarmist commenters here somehow discredits those papers, which have otherwise withstood falsification;
– That it is completely acceptable to deliberately hide the methodologies used to invent Michael Mann’s discredited ‘hockey stick’, even though public taxes paid for that information;
– That while climate skeptic sites routinely allow both sides to provide their input, pro and con, it is perfectly acceptable for Alarmist sites to delete any inconvenient posts that contradict their AGW orthodoxy, without any explanation;
– That it is acceptable for an apparent street vagabond at the head of the U.S. taxpayer subsidized UN/IPCC to hurl unprofessional ad hominem insults against scientists and others who disagree with him, calling them “flat earthers”;
– That the inconvenient fact that rises in CO2 follow rises in planetary temperatures is never to be acknowledged, because AGW orthodoxy requires the true belief that most, if not all, increases in CO2 are the fault of evil humans [but never the Chinese, Indians or Rusiians], and not due to ocean outgassing, and that increases in CO2 will certainly result in catastrophic runaway global warming;
– That there was no rise in CO2 during WWII, because the ‘silly’ Dr. Beck could not possibly be right;
– That the Greenland ice sheet is very close to melting;
– That the Sun has nothing significant to do with the climate, nor with the planet’s temperature, and neither do the oceans. Climate change is all due to human CO2 emissions;
– That other planets and moons in the Solar System have not heated up due to increased solar irradiance in the 1990’s;
– That plants do not benefit from any increase in CO2;
– That the current climate is not well within normal historical parameters;
– That the sea level is rising dangerously, and atolls like Vanuatu and Tarawa will soon be under water, if they aren’t already;
– That computer models, although always inaccurate regarding the climate, must somehow be correct;
– That there was never any Medieval Warming Period, and even if there was [not that we’re admitting it], temperatures could not possibly have been higher than they are now;
– That ‘the science is settled’ regarding the AGW/CO2/catastrophic global warming hypothesis, therefore, there should never be any neutral, moderated, public debates between climate alarmists and skeptics;
– That the Surface Station network is more accurate, and superior to satellites for determining global temperatures, and that the UHI effect is a mirage.
There are many other alarmist positions like these that I, a new alarmist convert, now subscribe to. You have convinced me, John McLondon, that these positions, which you have convinced yourself are either somewhat or completely true, must reflect reality.
So we have nothing to argue about now. We’re on the same page!
Global climate catastrophe, here we come!!

Steven Talbot
August 24, 2008 1:45 pm

One thing appears certain. The IPCC prediction of 0.2C warming per decade in the early 21st century appears to have been off the mark.
We’re not even through 2008 yet! I suggest we wait and see what the next El Nino brings. And also, of course, if you are right that solar will diminish then we will have an ideal opportunity to judge whether or not solar is the smoking gun. If solar forcing diminishes but temperatures trend upwards, I trust you will be having a radical rethink? (By the same token, if the next El Nino does not coincide with a rising trend then I will be rethinking).

August 24, 2008 3:55 pm

I have to acknowledge that I was wrong about one thing above: not all AGW believers engage in ad hominem attacks. Steven Talbot has been a gentleman, and sticks to the point, leaving personalities out of the discussion. That is a scarce trait, and admirable.
And in fact I agree with him. If the planet heats up [by that I mean, exceeds its previous peak, including the entirely natural MWP], I will certainly reassess my skepticism. Time will tell.

John McLondon
August 24, 2008 5:11 pm

Oh my …. Smokey……
You have captured almost all the key issues!! I really enjoyed reading it!
But I think you have the wrong impression about AGW believers. I am innocent, if you look back when I first mentioned Ernst Beck I did not comment anything about his work, Joel said something about it possibly to help skeptics when they comment on CCSP. Of course, it appears you liked Steven’s comments. But none of what was said is an ad hominem attack, we only criticized the work for various reasons. We did not say that the work is bad because Beck did it, or it is bad because Beck is a skeptic.
By the way, the five year average is not the one for which you had a link.

manacker
August 24, 2008 5:11 pm

Hi Steven.
“One thing appears certain. The IPCC prediction of 0.2C warming per decade in the early 21st century appears to have been off the mark.”
“We’re not even through 2008 yet! I suggest we wait and see what the next El Nino brings. “
You’re right, Steven. That’s why I added, “But even there, who knows what will happen?”
Regards,
Max

John McLondon
August 24, 2008 5:12 pm

Max, “..I agree with Anthony that we should not place too much emphasis on this study.”
Great. Had you said that instead of “To simply write off Beck’s findings on historic atmospheric CO2 concentrations is foolish, John”, we wouldn’t have this lengthy discussion.
On the trends, if the temperature is still down for another 10 years or so, I am sure I and many others will start wondering about AGW. Time will tell. I agree that for calculation of budgets and profits, probably five year average is not a good way to go, certainly if the objective is to address a shortfall. But to understand the influence of a gradually varying parameter on budgets (like the influence of population), a multi-year average is more realistic.
In any case, we will wait and see whether Spencer has something interesting to say, and whether IPCC is correct on their predictions.

old construction worker
August 24, 2008 5:34 pm

John McLondon (09:07:09)
‘As I wrote earlier, application of a simple controls theory will tell us that, not a monotonic increase but an oscillatory increase with long term regression pointing upward movement.’
Ok. What are the controls in the controls theory and how well do they match observed data?

statePoet1775
August 24, 2008 5:57 pm

Since the earth is not warming then there are three possibilities that could mask global warming from CO2:
1. the additional heat is being stored somewhere in the earth/atmosphere.
2. the earth/atmosphere’s albedo has temporarily increased.
3. received solar radiation has temporarily
decreased.
If these three reasons can be disproved , then AGW is disproved too?

Neil Fisher
August 24, 2008 6:29 pm

Joel said:

First of all, constant relative humidity is not an assumption of the climate models. It is, however, what they seem to approximately predict given the physics and assumptions that do go into them. And, contrary to what you may have heard, real-world data is in good agreement with this prediction.

Try
this

Doesn’t look very flat to me.

Neil Fisher
August 24, 2008 6:33 pm

Oh, and further to my previous post, this is temperature at the same level.

Joel Shore
August 24, 2008 6:55 pm

Smokey, let me respond to a few of your long tirade of points brought up in your “conversion” post:

That nothing happening to the climate is natural, and it’s all the fault of humans, especially those evil, ignorant Americans

Noone is saying that nothing happening to the climate is natural. Certainly, there are natural ups-and-downs on the scales of years to centuries but these tend to be fairly modest and also to not go completely in just one direction…i.e., to be fluctuations. On longer timescales, there are more dramatic natural changes in climate such as the ice age – interglacial cycle…And, indeed carefully studying these cycles is one way that scientists conclude that the known forcings that we are introducing are now the dominant contributor to climate change (on the decade to centennial timescales).
Noone is saying that humans, or Americans in particular, are evil (or that all are ignorant, although some seem to be). What we are saying is that mankind now has developed to the point where we have the awesome power to change the atmosphere in ways that profoundly effect the planet’s climate system. Furthermore, we have the intelligence, lacked by other creatures, of being able to anticipate and at least to some degree predict these changes, and to try to prevent the most detrimental effects from occurring. And, it seems to be in our best interests to do so.

That with enough money, climate change can be stopped

Well, there will continue to be natural variations in climate, but at least over the coming centuries, the evidence is that these natural variations alone should stay within certain bounds. The human-caused variations on the other hand, are likely to take us into realms of climate that have not been experienced in the entire history of homo sapiens…and this, coupled with the rapid rate of change and with other human pressures (such as habitat fragmentation, overfishing, and pollution), is likely to lead to extinctions and ecological upheavals on a large scale.
And, yes, we can choose to prevent this from occurring. And, in fact, many of the ways to do this (such as developing alternative sources of energy) are going to be necessary regardless since fossil fuels are a finite resource.

Joel Shore
August 24, 2008 7:33 pm

That the endless ad hominem attacks, present in every post by the climate alarmist crowd, are an acceptable substitute for actual science, and that these attacks legitimately take the place of your own [nonexistent] publications;
That the many refereed and peer-reviewed skeptics’ papers falsifying the AGW/climate catastrophe hypothesis can never be legitimate, and that the endless nitpicking and ad hominem attacks by alarmist commenters here somehow discredits those papers, which have otherwise withstood falsification.

Frankly, I am not sure how someone who refers to the head of the IPCC as “an apparent street vagabond” has a lot of room to complain about ad hominem attacks. But, be that as it may, I find it rather amusing that you claim that publications supporting AGW are non-existent. In fact, studies of the peer-reviewed literature have shown that publications that dispute AGW constitute a miniscule fraction of the peer-reviewed literature, while papers that support it constitute a large fraction. Furthermore, those that dispute it often appear in publications that are considered by recognized measures to be inferior journals…and most have simply not stood up to scrutiny by other scientists.
Papers that disagree with AGW are not automatically illegitimate anymore than a paper that disagrees with evolutionary theory is automatically illegitimate. However, they are going against a large body of evidence, so it is not realistic to say that a few such papers falsify AGW. Not all papers are correct and if we use this standard of falsification in other fields of science, we would probably not have any major scientific theory that has not been “falsified”.
If every paper in the AGW field supporting the theory were elevated to such a high pedestal in parts of the blogosphere as papers such as Gerlich and Tscheuschner or Beck are, there would be no room to talk about anything else. This is particularly notable when G&T hasn’t even appeared in a journal and the Beck paper has appeared in a journal-in-name-only. And, both are embarrassingly poor science.

Joel Shore
August 24, 2008 7:42 pm

Neil Fisher says: “Try this
Doesn’t look very flat to me.”
And, try this: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;310/5749/841 . It is what peer-reviewed science looks like, as opposed to people using data of unknown quality (in fact, serious known deficiencies) on the internet to make plots. If you want more references to the peer-reviewed literature, look here: http://sciencepoliticsclimatechange.blogspot.com/2006/08/more-on-water-vapor-feedback.html
In particular, in the Soden paper they note: “Although an international network of weather balloons has carried water vapor sensors for more than half a century, changes in instrumentation and poor calibration make such sensors unsuitable for detecting trends in upper tropospheric water vapor (27). Similarly, global reanalysis products also suffer from spurious variability and trends related to changes in data quality and data coverage (24).”
By contrast, the Soden paper looks at both overall trends and fluctuations in water vapor as determined from satellite measurements. By looking at both the trends and fluctuations, they can confirm that what they see in the trends is not due to artifacts.

old construction worker
August 24, 2008 8:13 pm

‘Well, there will continue to be natural variations in climate, but at least over the coming centuries, the evidence is that these natural variations alone should stay within certain bounds.’
Which “bounds” are you talking about? The bottom of the last ice age to the top of the Holocene period.

old construction worker
August 24, 2008 8:56 pm

General info
This correlation was the best of the factors we looked at (Total Solar Irradiance, CO2, PDO/AMO) with 10 year smoothing for all parameters including temperatures (which increases the correlation but would not impact the relative importance of the factors). Notice how especially in the last decade how the correlation of US temperatures with CO2 has actually turned negative for the US.
factor years correlation pearson coefficient
carbon dioxide 1895-2007 0.66
TSI 1900-2004 0.76
oceans warming 1900-2007 0.92
(PDOandAMO)
carbon dioxide 1998-2007 -0.14
http://www.intellicast.com/Community/Content.aspx?ref=rss&a=127

manacker
August 24, 2008 9:16 pm

Hi John,
Whether you realize it or not, the two statements, “Max, “..I agree with Anthony that we should not place too much emphasis on this study” and “To simply write off Beck’s findings on historic atmospheric CO2 concentrations is foolish, John”, are not mutually exclusive.
Don’t place too much emphasis on them (as I do not place too much emphasis on AR4 WG1), but, at the same time “don’t simply write them off as foolish” (as I go not do for AR4 WG1).
Get the difference, John?
I’ll admit it’s subtle, but I’m sure you see what I mean.
Regards,
Max

manacker
August 24, 2008 9:39 pm

Old construction worker raises a very good point with his coefficients.
They point out how we really understand very little about what is driving our planet’s climate, despite the rather arrogant (but ignorant) one-sided AGW claims of IPCC that “the understanding of anthropogenic warming … has improved”, “progress in understanding has been gained”, “analysis of climate models … provides increased confidence in the understanding of the climate system response to radiative forcing”. “advances in climate change modeling now enable best estimates … to be given for projected warming for different emission scenarios”, “there is now higher confidence in projected patterns of warming”, “sine the TAR there is an improving understanding of projected patterns of precipitation”, etc.
These are all “PR statements”. Nowhere does IPCC admit,“there is still much more that we do not yet know about the drivers of our planet’s climate than we do know”.
This would be an honest assessment.
Don’t look for an honest assessment from IPCC, a primarily political organization, that is making a sales pitch for carbon taxes or cap and trade schemes.
Max

manacker
August 24, 2008 10:11 pm

Note to Joel Shore
You wrote, “Studies of the peer-reviewed literature have shown that publications that dispute AGW constitute a miniscule fraction of the peer-reviewed literature, while papers that support it constitute a large fraction. Furthermore, those that dispute it often appear in publications that are considered by recognized measures to be inferior journals…and most have simply not stood up to scrutiny by other scientists.”
This is a subjective and rather silly statement.
Give me a percentage figure of the ”miniscule fraction” , please, if you can.
Inform me who is financing the reasearch of this “miniscule fraction”, and who is financing the “large fraction”.
Please let me know how much funding is flowing into each direction.
Which publications are considered to be “inferior journals”?
By whom are they considered to be such?
Can you identify the scientists to whose scrutiny these reports (or journals) have not stood up?
Can you advise on the basis of which specific criteria they have not stood up?
Please come with some specifics, or I will have to assume that you are just “blowing smoke”.
Your statement, “Papers that disagree with AGW are not automatically illegitimate anymore than a paper that disagrees with evolutionary theory is automatically illegitimate” is ridiculous.
It could equally be turned around to read that “Papers that support AGW are not automatically illegitimate anymore than a paper that supports a 6,000-year old world is automatically illegitimate”.
Get the point?
Regards,
Max

Editor
August 24, 2008 11:52 pm

We are indeed due for a Bond Event. And, strangely, the world geopolitical scene is not all that different from the 5th Century AD.
As usual, I agree with the first half of your statement. However, your fears of a potential sack of Rome are probably misplaced. We are more resilient now than then, economically, technologically, and socially.

John McLondon
August 25, 2008 5:42 am

Old Construction worker: “Ok. What are the controls in the controls theory and how well do they match observed data?”
Controls in the theory? You mean controller?
On the second part – I do not know how well they match, I am sure it depends on the feedback. My initial comment was a qualitative one, oscillatory response to a changing variable is perfectly justifiable; it doesn’t have to be a monotonic increase.

John McLondon
August 25, 2008 5:48 am

Max, “To simply write off Beck’s findings on historic atmospheric CO2 concentrations is foolish, John
Get the difference, John? I’ll admit it’s subtle, but I’m sure you see what I mean.”
Yes, but I believe you initially assumed that I simply wrote Beck off – which is not true. Minor point, not worth arguing about.
But on your note to Joel, I hope you and other AGW skeptics do not take this line, I seriously doubt you will get anywhere with an independent group of people.
For example, AGW skeptical papers are a small fraction, it was in 2004 (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686), it hasn’t changed much since then. We can probably count the AGW skeptic papers in recent times, because they are so well publicized: Beck, Scott Armstrong, couple from Spencer, one from Ross, may be couple from Roger Pielke, Schwartz (which is not really a skeptical paper), …… and we are running out quickly. I honestly wish there are more.
Obviously Spencer and Lindzen are funded for their work. ..
I will let Joel address it fully.

Steven Talbot
August 25, 2008 5:56 am

Neil Fisher,
the link you have provided to the ESRL site displays relative humidity at 300mb, which is stratospheric level. The graph of 100mb (near-surface) is here:
http://tinyurl.com/0
(note that neither graph states the displayed level, but this is seen in the address line. The statement ‘up to 300mb’ is there whichever level you graph, and simply means that is the limit of the whole data set).
The equivalent graphs for specific humidity are:
300mb – http://junkscience.com/Greenhouse/300mbhumidity.gif
1000mb – http://junkscience.com/Greenhouse/1000mbhumidity.gif
Theses graphs appear to be in accord with what would be expected from a warming troposphere and a cooling stratosphere.

old construction worker
August 25, 2008 6:57 am

Joel Shore (19:42:14)
From your first link
‘Climate models predict that the concentration of water vapor in the upper troposphere could double by the end of the century as a result of increases in greenhouse gases. Such moistening plays a key role in amplifying the rate at which the climate warms in response to anthropogenic activities, but has been difficult to detect because of deficiencies in conventional observing systems.’
According to the “CO2 drives the climate theory” isn’t that added water vapor suppose to lead to more heat trapping clouds which the GHG models use as a positive feedback?
According to Spencer’s model (based on observed data) heat trapping cloud did form and the heat stored in water vapor escapes into space as it gets “higher in the sky”.
I know you don’t buy Spencer’s theory but it was “published, peer review paper” and it is up to you to falsify.
Your 2nd link is tad old

old construction worker
August 25, 2008 6:59 am

cloud did form and the heat stored in water vapor escapes into space as it gets “higher in the sky”.
should read clouds did not form

manacker
August 25, 2008 8:53 am

Note to John McLondon
Hi John,
Thanks for your post referring to my post to Joel, which you concluded with “I will let Joel address it fully”.
My post to him was in response to (what I thought was) a silly and unfounded statement about the numbers of pro/anti AGW papers, their quality, the quality of the journals publishing them, the decision body and process for establishing this quality, the relative amounts of funding for pro/anti AGW papers, etc.
While you touched on funding without getting specific, you obviously did not answer any of my questions to Joel, so I’ll wait for him to “address it fully”.
Regards,
Max

Joel Shore
August 25, 2008 9:12 am

max: John McLondon addressed well the issue of the fraction of papers that disagree with AGW. As for funding, I imagine that most funding in the U.S. comes from organizations like NSF, NOAA, and NASA.
With their record profits, Exxon certainly could afford to spend lots of money funding climate research if they wanted to. However, as far as I know, they have instead used their money more to fund think-tanks that don’t do any serious research but just regurgitate discredited arguments. Go figure.

Which publications are considered to be “inferior journals”?
By whom are they considered to be such?

As I noted, there are recognized ways to measure the quality of journals, such as impact factor, the number of libraries that get the journal, etc., etc. These aren’t perfect measures but they are reasonable ones particularly in distinguishing between journals that aren’t even close by these measures.

Can you advise on the basis of which specific criteria they have not stood up?

Well, some are so obvious that I can analyze and understand the weaknesses myself. For others, one has to look to how the scientific community active in the fields views them as reviewed by the IPCC, CCSP, or the NAS. It is the same criteria by which science is generally judged. You know, organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences were set up for a good reason.

Your statement, “Papers that disagree with AGW are not automatically illegitimate anymore than a paper that disagrees with evolutionary theory is automatically illegitimate” is ridiculous.
It could equally be turned around to read that “Papers that support AGW are not automatically illegitimate anymore than a paper that supports a 6,000-year old world is automatically illegitimate”.

Sorry but that is not going to fly. If you look at the positions of respected scientific organizations like the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, etc., etc., my statement shows remarkable parallelism, i.e., those organizations endorse evolutionary theory and AGW. And, if you look at the sort of claims that are made regarding how the scientific “establishment” is biased against them and so on and so forth and so on, you will also see the same remarkable parallelism between the creationist / intelligent design movement and the AGW skeptics movement.

Joel Shore
August 25, 2008 9:25 am

old construction worker says:

According to the “CO2 drives the climate theory” isn’t that added water vapor suppose to lead to more heat trapping clouds which the GHG models use as a positive feedback?

Well, my post was focussing on the water vapor feedback, not the cloud feedback. I.e., more water vapor means more absorption of IR because of the greenhouse gas properties of water vapor.
To the extent that most of the climate models do have a positive cloud feedback, I am not sure exactly what it is due to. Note that it is not obvious that more water vapor will necessarily leads to more clouds since the relative humidity is predicted to remain roughly constant (i.e., warmer air can hold more water vapor before it condenses into clouds). Note also that clouds themselves are complex because they both trap infrared radiation and block solar radiation, so they can have both warming and cooling effects.

According to Spencer’s model (based on observed data) heat trapping cloud did form and the heat stored in water vapor escapes into space as it gets “higher in the sky”.
I know you don’t buy Spencer’s theory but it was “published, peer review paper” and it is up to you to falsify.

First of all, if you read Spencer’s paper rather than the press releases, you will see that even they admit that they haven’t shown that the effect that they found operates on the timescales of interest. Second of all, since I am not a climate scientist, it is not up to me to falsify every skeptic paper that get published in the literature, nor do I have the qualifications to do so. I am sure that, in time, the climate science community will react to that paper. (I think I have already seen one criticism of it somewhere…but I can’t remember where it was now.)

Your 2nd link is tad old

Are you saying that there have been dramatic new papers regarding the water vapor feedback in the last 2 years that change this summary? Pray tell, what were they?

Steven Talbot
August 25, 2008 10:32 am

old construction worker,
According to Spencer’s model (based on observed data) heat trapping cloud did form and the heat stored in water vapor escapes into space as it gets “higher in the sky”.
I know you don’t buy Spencer’s theory but it was “published, peer review paper” and it is up to you to falsify.

With respect, that’s not quite my understanding of Spencer et al 2007. Over a short time-scale of weeks they observe a reduction in ice cloud coverage during the warm/rainy phase of oscillations, thus reducing long-wave absorption –
“The increase in longwave cooling is traced to decreasing coverage by ice clouds, potentially supporting Lindzen’s ‘‘infrared iris’’ hypothesis of climate stabilization. These observations should be considered in the testing of cloud parameterizations in climate models, which remain sources of substantial uncertainty in global warming prediction.”
Sud et al. 2008 have done exactly this. They cite Spencer and observe that:
Moreover, GISS-E simulations are well within the limits of several observations-data analyses [e.g., Lindzen et al., 2001; Fu et al., 2002; Hartmann and Michelsen, 2002; Lin et al., 2002; Spencer et al., 2007].
http://climate.gsfc.nasa.gov/publications/fulltext/2008GL033872.pdf
That, of course, is the way science tends to work. Occasionally it may be a matter of ‘falsifying’ work that is simply wrong, but far more often it’s a matter of taking observations into consideration and building a more detailed understanding. (Incidentally, I presume that both Spencer’s and Sud’s research have been government funded).
Spencer’s paper considers short-term oscillation but does not offer any observational evidence of a long-term change in ice-cloud cover in response to GW. Such an observation would be of greater impact, I imagine, but it does not exist as yet. If it is there to be found, then it will be. In the meantime, I do think it should be realised that Spencer has not, as yet, published any science to support his conviction that the planet has a ‘thermostat’ which will substantially limit the potential of warming.

manacker
August 25, 2008 12:21 pm

Hi Steven,
You wrote, “Spencer has not, as yet, published any science to support his conviction that the planet has a ‘thermostat’ which will substantially limit the potential of warming.”
Please read his report and subsequent follow-up papers more thoroughly, Steven.
He has shown that the assumption of a strong positive (warming) feedback from clouds, as assumed in all GCMs cited by IPCC (admittedly with a large degree of uncertainty) is most likely incorrect and that the net cloud feedback is likely to be negative and strong.
That’s all.
But that is enough, Steven, to raise serious questions about 1.3°C warming attributed to clouds in the 3.2°C climate sensitivity for 2xCO2.
Take away the assumed positive cloud effect and (even without replacing it with Spencer’s observed strong negative effect) you are down to a 2xCO2 sensitivity of 1.9°C rather than 3.2°C.
And we haven’t even started talking about problems with the water vapor feedback assumptions, which will be the topic of future discussions.
Face it, Steven. IPCC has done a good job of exaggerating the feedback assumptions in the direction of making AGW more alarming that it would otherwise be. It is quite logical that if IPCC errs, it will be in that direction, as their whole existence depends on a world that is worried about human impact on climate and frightened about where that will lead.
No crisis = no need for further existence of IPCC. (These are nice jobs.)
No crisis = no need for multibillion dollar climate research grants. (Lots of “climatologists” and “computer gurus” depend on this source of funding.)
No crisis = no opportunity to enact draconian carbon taxes or cap and trade schemes making a few already wealthy people richer at everyone’s expense and giving bureaucrats and politicians hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money to shuffle around. (No need to mention how politicians react to the prospect of having more public money to handle.)
This is what many have referred to the whole scientific basis supporting an AGW-hysteria as “agenda-driven science”. Follow the money (and power) trail.
Regards,
Max

Steven Talbot
August 25, 2008 1:04 pm

Hi Max,
Please read his report and subsequent follow-up papers more thoroughly, Steven.
Please may I suggest that you do the same? Also, may I suggest that you read the IPCC Assessment Report, which you refer to without seeming to be properly aware of its contents?
Let me be specific –
“He [Spencer] has shown that the assumption of a strong positive (warming) feedback from clouds, as assumed in all GCMs cited by IPCC (admittedly with a large degree of uncertainty) is most likely incorrect and that the net cloud feedback is likely to be negative and strong.”
1) Can you demonstrate, by quotation from his scientific papers, where he has shown that “net cloud feedback is likely to be negative and strong”? I am not aware of this evidence, and would be very pleased to read your evidence, by quotation. Such evidence would have a very significant impact upon my own assessment, so I look forward to what you have to say.
2) Can you illustrate to me, by quotation, where is “the assumption of a strong positive (warming) feedback from clouds, as assumed in all GCMs cited by IPCC”? Again, I am not aware of any such assumption. In fact, reference to the text of the Report suggests that your assertion is entirely wrong, for example:
In the current climate, clouds exert a cooling effect on climate (the global mean CRF is negative). In response to global warming, the cooling effect of clouds on climate might be enhanced or weakened, thereby producing a radiative feedback to climate warming (Randall et al., 2006; NRC, 2003; Zhang, 2004; Stephens, 2005; Bony et al., 2006). [8.6.3.2]
In doubled atmospheric CO2 equilibrium experiments performed by mixed-layer ocean-atmosphere models as well as in transient climate change integrations performed by fully coupled ocean-atmosphere models, models exhibit a large range of global cloud feedbacks, with roughly half of the climate models predicting a more negative CRF in response to global warming, and half predicting the opposite (Soden and Held, 2006; Webb et al., 2006). [8.6.3.2.2]

These quotations are both from the chapter on climate modeling, to which process you refer. I suggest that they clearly demonstrate your assertion “the assumption of a strong positive (warming) feedback from clouds, as assumed in all GCMs cited by IPCC” to be false, so may I advise you to read the materials you are referring to rather than you advising me to do so, which I have already done, as I think will be evident?
In short, Max, I think this demonstrates pretty clearly that you are engaged in blagging it. You can show me to be wrong very simply, of course, by quoting from the IPCC AR to support your assertion. I look forward to what you will come up with.
Regards,
Steven

manacker
August 25, 2008 3:55 pm

Hi Steven,
I’ll ignore your statement, “In short, Max, I think this demonstrates pretty clearly that you are engaged in blagging it. You can show me to be wrong very simply, of course, by quoting from the IPCC AR to support your assertion.”
You posed two questions, which I will answer.
“1) Can you demonstrate, by quotation from his scientific papers, where he has shown that “net cloud feedback is likely to be negative and strong”? I am not aware of this evidence, and would be very pleased to read your evidence, by quotation. Such evidence would have a very significant impact upon my own assessment, so I look forward to what you have to say.”
To your first question. Spencer states that the physical observations show that the cirroform ice cloud fraction anomaly is reduced with higher sea surface temperature, adding, “the decrease in ice cloud ceverage is conceptually consistent with the ‘infrared iris’ hypothesized by Lindzen et al. [2001], who propose that tropical cirroform cloud coverage might open and close, like the iris of an eye, in response to anaomalously warm or cool conditions, providing a negative radiative feedback on temperature change”.
He quantifies the net overall impact of clouds, “Our measured sensitivity of total (LW+SW) cloud radiative forcing to tropospheric temperature is –6.1 W/m^2 °K”, and goes on to conclude that “these observations should be considered in the testing of cloud parameterizations in climate models, which remain sources of substantial uncertainty in global warming prediction”.
http://www.weatherquestions.com/Spencer_07GRL.pdf
Spencer has published several other papers since then essentially reiterating his findings of negative feedback from clouds, but I think the above should suffice in responding to your question.
Your second question:
“2) Can you illustrate to me, by quotation, where is “the assumption of a strong positive (warming) feedback from clouds, as assumed in all GCMs cited by IPCC”? Again, I am not aware of any such assumption.”
To your second question, below is the link.
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter8.pdf
Please refer to page 633. You will see:
“Using feedback parameters from figure 8.14, it can be estimated that in the presence of water vapour, lapse rate and surface albedo feedbacks, but in the absence of cloud feedbacks, current GCMs would predict a climate sensitivity (±1 standard deviation) of roughly 1.9°C ± 0.15°C (ignoring spread from radiative forcing differences). The mean and standard deviation of climate sensitivities derived from current GCMs are larger (3.2°C ± 0.7°C) essentially because the GCMs all predict a positive cloud feedback (Figure 8.14) but strongly disagree on its magnitude.”
IPCC goes on to assert, “the contributions of water vapor/lapse rate and surface albedo feedbacks to sensaitivity spread are non-negligible, particularly since their impact is reinforced by the mean model cloud feedback being positive and quite strong.”
Believe this should clear up your question on “the assumption of a strong positive (warming) feedback from clouds, as assumed in all GCMs cited by IPCC” and also your accusation that I am “blagging it”.
Regards,
Max

Admin
August 25, 2008 4:01 pm

Be nice you two.

manacker
August 25, 2008 4:23 pm

Hi Steven,
Just so you don’t try to misinterpret (or misunderstand) the IPCC quotes I just posted to demonstrate that the climate models cited by IPCC (in arriving at a 2xCO2 sensitivity of 3.2) ALL assume a positive feedback from clouds, and that this feedback is assumed to be strong, let’s analyze the words.
2xCO2 climate sensitivity (including water vapor, lapse rate, surface albedo feedbacks, but EXCLUDING cloud feedback) = 1.9°C
2xCO2 climate sensitivity (including water vapor, lapse rate, surface albedo feedbacks, but INLUDING cloud feedback) = 3.2°C
Sentence “because the GCMs all predict a positive cloud feedback”, means exactly that. They all predict a positive cloud feedback.
The sentence saying that other feedbacks are “reinforced by the mean model cloud feedback being positive and quite strong” also means exactly what it says.
Bumping the 2xCO2 sensitivity up from 1.9°C (without clouds) to 3.2°C (with clouds) is, indeed, evidence that the “impact is reinforced” by cloud feedback being “positive and quite strong”.
Any questions?
Regards,
Max

manacker
August 25, 2008 4:25 pm

Hey jeez,
You are right in asking Steve and me to be nice.
Is accusing someone of “blagging it” being nice?
Regards,
Max
Reply:I’m not looking to cast blame. We all step over the line. I’m simply asking for the discussion to be maintained at a respectful level and tone.~charles the moderator aka jeez

statePoet1775
August 25, 2008 4:33 pm

Two people divided by a common language
Blag:
1. (informal) persuade or deceive in order to get something for free
2. (informal) steal

Steven Talbot
August 25, 2008 5:06 pm

Hi Max,
To your first answer, firstly, that is not evidence of your claim. As I have already discussed, the paper you quote from makes no assertions whatsoever as to net cloud feedback over time. You state “He quantifies the net overall impact of clouds” and then quote “Our measured sensitivity of total (LW+SW) cloud radiative forcing to tropospheric temperature is –6.1 W/m^2 °K”, but your quotation is incomplete. The next sentence reads: “This indicates that the net (SW + LW) radiative effect of clouds during the evolution of the composite ISO is to cool the ocean-atmosphere system during its tropospheric warm phase, and to warm it during its cool phase.” At this point, it needs to be understood what he has said about sensitivity, which works both ways! This is emphatically not evidence of your claim that “net cloud feedback is likely to be negative and strong”.
Secondly, you say: “Spencer has published several other papers since then essentially reiterating his findings of negative feedback from clouds”. Can you please give me references to these? I am not aware of any such papers.
Regarding your second answer, I will respond in kind:
“In response to global warming, the cooling effect of clouds on climate might be enhanced or weakened” means exactly that.
“models exhibit a large range of global cloud feedbacks, with roughly half of the climate models predicting a more negative CRF in response to global warming, and half predicting the opposite ” means exactly that.
I could point out further apparent inconsistencies in the section which you quote, for example:
“In the idealised situation that the climate response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 consisted of a uniform temperature change only, with no feedbacks operating (but allowing for the enhanced radiative cooling resulting from the temperature increase), the global warming from GCMs
would be around 1.2°C (Hansen et al., 1984; Bony et al., 2006). The water vapour feedback, operating alone on top of this, would at least double the response.”(p.631)
– so that’s 2.4C, not 1.9C even before considering other feedbacks, including clouds.
We appear to have a stand-off.
However, I apologise for suggesting you were blagging it , which was discourteous. Perhaps I might also ask you to reconsider statements such as “Please read his report and subsequent follow-up papers more thoroughly, Steven”, which is attempting to be patronising, and thus also discourteous?
Regards,
Steven

Reply:Look, let’s stop with “who started it” and just go back to being respectful with each other. No one has to point out previous discourtesies any longer. We know this is tough when discussions get heated. We just ask that you try.~charles the moderator

Steven Talbot
August 25, 2008 5:49 pm

Charles – point taken. It’s more interesting to discuss the issues, for sure.

Steven Talbot
August 25, 2008 6:54 pm

Max,
I’ve just ‘signed off’ on another thread, so this is by the way of saying cheerio. It was kinda fun debating with you,
Regards,
Steven

manacker
August 25, 2008 9:10 pm

Hi Steven,
Sorry you are “signing off”.
I showed you beyond the shadow of a doubt that IPCC cited GCMs that ALL assume a positive feedback from clouds, strong enough to increase the 2xCO2 sensitivity including all feedbacks from 1.9°C (excluding clouds) to 3.2°C (including clouds), stating unequivocally that this strong feedback was assumed in all of the climate models.
You did not even acknowledge this information.
Now to your statement, “As I have already discussed, the paper you quote (from Spencer) makes no assertions whatsoever as to net cloud feedback over time.”
How do you define “time”, Peter? Please be a bit more specific.
I have given you Spencer’s claims. You may not like them. You may not agree with them. But you cannot refute that these are his claims, based on the physical observations he and his colleagues made. He states that the net feedback from clouds is negative, based on observations over several years, rather than positive (as assumed in all the models cited by IPCC). He goes further in saying that these new findings should be considered in the climate models to resolve the current uncertainties relating to cloud feedbacks.
Steven, you are following the path of many AGW-proponents when their arguments have been refuted with facts. [snip]
I’m really sorry, because I honestly had a higher opinion of you earlier.
Have fun on your “new site”.
Regards,
Max

John McLondon
August 25, 2008 10:29 pm

Here is a part of the conclusion from Spencer:
“This decrease in ice cloud
coverage is nominally supportive of Lindzen’s ‘‘infrared
iris’’ hypothesis. While the time scales addressed here are
short and not necessarily indicative of climate time scales, it
must be remembered that all moist convective adjustment
occurs on short time scales. Since these intraseasonal
oscillations represent a dominant mode of convective var-iability
in the tropical troposphere, their behavior should be
considered when testing the convective and cloud parame-terizations
in climate models that are used to predict global warming.”
“nominally supportive” (by name only – not in reality)?
time scales are short and not indicative of climate time scales

John McLondon
August 26, 2008 5:21 am

I am so sorry to see Steven leave. But I understand.
Joel has answered almost all the questions. In the next couple of weeks I do not have much time to devote for these things. But a quick note: the quality of a college football team is generally decided by polls by coaches (or people who are highly skilled to make those judgments), best universities in the U.S. (by both U.S. News and World Report or the older Gourman Reports) is decided by a scoring system, based on opinions from people with intimate knowledge of the system, etc. Quality of journals and papers are done in a similar way. People in the field knows the best journals in the field – they are venues where it is difficult to publish and with a higher rejection rate, the level of sophistication involved in the work is higher, most people in the field would like to publish in those journals, where papers have appeared in the past that changed the course of that field, etc. As Joel says, impact factor is one way to judge that. Ultimately such judgments are made by people working in the field. Certainly Energy and Environment doesn’t qualify as one of them. Papers with characteristics that would make them acceptable in such journals are quality papers. Beck’s or Armstrong’s papers are not among them.
On the funding question, I completely disagree with the common assumption here from AGW skeptics, that there is some type of bias here. No one writes a proposal saying that they are going to disprove AGW – of course proposal topics are much more sophisticated than that. Apart from NIH (that requires a hypothesis based proposal), none of the other Federal agencies require a conclusion upfront in the proposal to be proven (or falsified at the end). I do not see any bias in proposing climate sensitivity studies for CFCs. I have been in many of these review panels, and in my field I have not seen any such automatic bias as it has been portrayed. Even in NIH where the hypothesis and what the researcher expect to be the outcome about the hypothesis are clearly indicated, I do not see any noticeable bias to make a difference. But even if hundreds of people with direct experience of the review process attest to this, I am sure the claims to the contrary will persist.
Coming back to Steven’s point, if Spenser’s work is that monumental, I would expect a whole lot of researchers to refer and cite his work. The last time I checked, he had just four citations – that does not impress me as a discovery that will alter the course of climate science (unlike his and his followers claims in blogs). Again, I do not see any bias here, some of his earlier papers (about satellite temperature measurements) were cited hundreds of times.
I appears to me that many unjustifiable assumptions have to me made before one could claim that “you are following the path of many AGW-proponents when their arguments have been refuted with facts.” AGW refuted by facts? Many AGW proponents paths, etc. Most climate scientists, with equal or better credentials than Spencer or Lindzen, would disagree with the assumptions and the conclusions here. Since it would be impossible for that to convince a dedicated AGW skeptic, lengthy discussions on these would not be a productive use of time.

John McLondon
August 26, 2008 5:26 am

Correction, last paragraph. Instead of “I appears to me that many..” it is “It appears…”, otherwise, I might get spelling details as I received earlier about “assume” !!

Joel Shore
August 26, 2008 5:28 am

Steven Talbot says: “so that’s 2.4C, not 1.9C even before considering other feedbacks, including clouds.”
Actually, there is a negative feedback that comes in…namely the lapse rate feedback…and that is the reason why the IPCC arrives at the 1.9 C estimate in the absence of cloud feedbacks. However, it is interesting to consider what the lapse rate feedback is due to: namely, it stems the prediction that the warming will be amplified as you go up in the troposphere in the tropics…and hence, it will not take as large a temperature rise at the surface in order to cause the temperature to rise enough in the most relevant region of the atmosphere enough to increase the radiative emission from the earth back to the point where we are in radiative balance again.
Now, most people on this site seem to believe some observational data that seems to suggest that such tropical tropospheric amplification is not occurring…and hence the models are wrong on this point…even though there is increasing evidence (from other data and from attempts to correct the observational data from known artifacts) that the problems lie not with the models but with that observational data itself. (Many also seem to mistakenly believe that this tropical tropospheric amplification is a signal specifically of warming due to greenhouse gases, which it most emphatically is not.)
Interestingly, I haven’t heard any of the folks embracing this idea that there is no tropospheric amplification in the tropics extending it to its logical conclusion by arguing that therefore the proposed negative lapse rate feedback should be absent or mainly absent…and hence that the total feedback from water vapor + lapse rate should be more strongly positive than the IPCC has estimated!

manacker
August 26, 2008 11:30 am

Note to John McLondon
Hi John,
In quoting some extracts from the Spencer et al. paper on cloud feedbacks, you omitted these key sentences from the abstract:
“The increase in longwave cooling is traced to decreasing coverage by ice clouds, potentially supporting Lindzen’s “infrared iris” hypothesis of climate stabilization. These observations should be considered in the testing of cloud parameterizations in climate models, which remain sources of substantial uncertainty in global warming prediction.”
Regards,
Max

manacker
August 26, 2008 11:49 am

Hi John,
Without going into too many long-winded plaidoyers or excercises in word-parsing one way or the other, let’s wrap up the key points in the cloud feedback discussion.
1. IPCC models all assume a strong positive feedback from clouds
2. IPCC model outputs indicate a 2xCO2 climate sensitivity for CO2 alone of around 0.8°C
3. IPCC model outputs indicate a 2xCO2 climate sensitivity for CO2 including all feedbacks (except clouds) of around 1.9°C
4. IPCC model outputs indicate a 2xCO2 climate sensitivity for CO2 including all feedbacks (including clouds) of around 3.2°C
5. This implies that the cloud feedback contributes 1.3°C to the 2xCO2 sensitivity
6. IPCC concedes that “cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty”
Other studies (Ramanathan et al.) have also expressed this “uncertainty”, stating, “ the magnitude as well as the sign of the cloud feedback is uncertain”.
The physical observations of Spencer et al. raise serious doubt on the IPCC assumptions of strong positive feedback from clouds, indicating a strong negative feedback instead.
This negative feedback was previously hypothesized by Lindzen.
No one has disproved or refuted the findings of Spencer et al. to date.
That’s the summary for now John.
Everything else is speculation, rationalization or hype.
Regards,
Max

Mike Bryant
August 26, 2008 11:59 am

I am with Joel… All observations MUST be corrected to match the models…

manacker
August 26, 2008 12:12 pm

Joel Shore makes a good point in posting:
“Steven Talbot says: ‘so that’s 2.4C, not 1.9C even before considering other feedbacks, including clouds.’
Actually, there is a negative feedback that comes in…namely the lapse rate feedback…and that is the reason why the IPCC arrives at the 1.9 C estimate in the absence of cloud feedbacks.”
In Chapter 8 (p.630) IPCC states that the multi-model mean forcing and standard deviation for each in W/m^2 °C is:
Water vapor +1.80 ±0.18
Lapse rate -0.84 ±0.26
Albedo +0.26 ± 0.08
Clouds +0.69 ± 0.38
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter8.pdf
On p.631 IPCC states:
“The water vapor feedback is, however, closely related to the lapse rate feedback, and the two combined result in a feedback parameter of approximately 1 W/m^2, corresponding to an amplification of the basic temperature response by approximately 50%.”
This would translate into a temperature response of 1.5°C, excluding the feedbacks from clouds or surface albedo.
Using these feedback parameters, the simplified 2xCO2 feedback temperature response according to IPCC would be:
2xCO2 alone +0.8°C (p.758, Stefan-Boltzmann)
Water Vapor +1.5°C
Lapse rate -0.8°C
Sub-total 1 +1.5°C (p.631)
Albedo +0.4°C
Sub-total 2 +1.9°C (p.633)
Clouds +1.3°C
Total, all feedbacks +3.2°C (p.633)
However one looks at lapse rate per se, it is the combined impact of all feedbacks that is important, of course.
Observations by Spencer et al. (after IPCC AR4 was published) have shown us that the very strong positive feedback from clouds assumed by all IPCC models may be incorrect, stating that “These observations should be considered in the testing of cloud parameterizations in climate models, which remain sources of substantial uncertainty in global warming prediction.”
Makes sense to me.
Max

manacker
August 26, 2008 2:27 pm

Joel wrote: “Now, most people on this site seem to believe some observational data that seems to suggest that such tropical tropospheric amplification is not occurring…and hence the models are wrong on this point…even though there is increasing evidence (from other data and from attempts to correct the observational data from known artifacts) that the problems lie not with the models but with that observational data itself. (Many also seem to mistakenly believe that this tropical tropospheric amplification is a signal specifically of warming due to greenhouse gases, which it most emphatically is not.)”
Mike Bryant observed very succinctly, “I am with Joel… All observations MUST be corrected to match the models…”
Mike has pinpointed the most fundamental problem of the computer models used to project alarming rates of anthropogenic global warming.
The computer modelers start believing in themselves and closing their eyes to physical observations that refute their model assumptions.
They even devise complicated “hindcasting” programs to show that their earlier “forecasting” ability was “almost correct” or “other than that, it was OK”.
Anything that does not fit the model forecasts is either ignored or rationalized away as “noise”, “outliers” or “artefact”.
In his book “The Black Swan”, Nassem Taleb suggests “the presence of an ingrained tendency in humans to underestimate outliers – or Black Swans”.
In describing the problem of “expert predictions”, Taleb goes on to write, “You cannot ignore self-delusion. The problem with experts is that they do not know what they do not know. Lack of knowledge and delusion about the quality of your knowledge come together – the same process that makes you know less also makes you satisfied with your knowledge.”
Taleb points out, “we are demonstably arrogant about what we think we know. We certainly know a lot, but we have a built-in tendency to think that we know a little bit more that we actually do, enough of that little bit to occasionally get into serious trouble.”
In addressing this human tendency, which he calls “epistemic arrogance”, Taleb states, “our knowledge does grow, but it is threatened by greater increases in confidence, which make our increase in knowledge at the same time an increase in confusion, ignorance and conceit.”
All one has to do to understand Taleb’s words is read the IPCC 2007 “Summary for Policymakers” report.
Max

manacker
August 26, 2008 2:28 pm

Taleb’s first name is Nassim (not Nassem). Sorry for typo.

Neil Fisher
August 26, 2008 3:57 pm

(Many also seem to mistakenly believe that this tropical tropospheric amplification is a signal specifically of warming due to greenhouse gases, which it most emphatically is not.)

Actually, I often wonder why this is put forward. If this “hot spot” happens regardless of warming method, and therefore it’s failure to appear does not “disprove” GHG as the reason for CC, then I must ask: surely it’s failure to be detected indicates either 1) there hasn’t been significant warming of any sort or 2) the models are significantly incorrect.

Neil Fisher
August 26, 2008 4:01 pm

Hi Steven,
Thanks for taking the time to actually have a look – unlike Joel, who simply suggested I used “dodgy” data!
Anyway, you said

Theses graphs appear to be in accord with what would be expected from a warming troposphere and a cooling stratosphere.

Yes, but which is cause and which is affect?

John McLondon
August 27, 2008 5:34 am

Note to Max:
As I said earlier, Spencer could be right, it is too early to tell and I
personally will not depend on that one paper alone to make a conclusion. No one has conclusively disproved his conclusion, but no one else has proven that either. I have to revise my earlier comment, only two papers (not four) cited
Spencer (which is extremely low, if this is indeed a major development), and I do not see any of them verifying the conclusion to be true. Spencer himself is not firm on his conclusion (his own words: “POTENTIALLY supporting Lindzen’s “infrared iris” and “is NOMINALLY supportive of Lindzen’s ‘‘infrared iris’’ hypothesis” “). Lindzen’s earlier conclusion was questioned by many (D. L. Hartmann and M. L. Michelsen; Fu, Baker, Hartmann; Lin, Wielicki, Chambers, Hu, Xu; NASA http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Study/Iris/iris2.html) and the following 2008 publication (after Spencer’s work was out) concludes that things are more complex than Spencer’s claims.
In summary, Spencer may correct. But until that is verified by multiple groups, I will not put much importance to it.

Variations of tropical upper tropospheric clouds with sea surface
temperature and implications for radiative effects
Su H, Jiang JH, Gu Y, Neelin JD, Kahn BH, Feldman D, Yung YL, Waters JW,
Livesey NJ, Santee ML, Read WG
JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-ATMOSPHERES Volume: 113 Issue: D10 Article Number: D10211 Published: MAY 31 2008
Abstract: The variations of tropical upper tropospheric (UT) clouds with
sea surface temperature (SST) are analyzed using effective cloud
fraction from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on Aqua and ice
water content (IWC) from the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) on Aura. The
analyses are limited to UT clouds above 300 hPa. Our analyses do not
suggest a negative correlation of tropical-mean UT cloud fraction with
the cloud-weighted SST (CWT). Instead, both tropical-mean UT cloud
fraction and IWC are found to increase with CWT, although their
correlations with CWT are rather weak. The rate of increase of UT cloud
fraction with CWT is comparable to that of precipitation, while the UT
IWC and ice water path (IWP) increase more strongly with CWT. The
radiative effect of UT clouds is investigated, and they are shown to
provide a net warming at the top of the atmosphere. An increase of IWP
with SST yields an increase of net warming that corresponds to a
positive feedback, until the UT IWP exceeds a value about 50% greater
than presently observed by MLS. Further increases of the UT IWP would
favor the shortwave cooling effect, causing a negative feedback.
Sensitivities of UT cloud forcing to the uncertainties in UT CFR and IWC
measurements are discussed.

manacker
August 27, 2008 10:27 am

Hi John,
Thanks for latest post expressing your reservations about Spencer et al.
We’ve discussed the uncertainties surrounding the positive feedback from clouds as assumed in all the GCMs cited by IPCC but apparently contradicted by more recent physical observations (Spencer et al.). You felt that the jury is still out on these recent observations, while I say they could provide compelling evidence for a strong net negative feedback from clouds, rather than a strong net positive feedback, as assumed by IPCC.
But let’s move on to water vapor feedback, where I also see some major inconsistencies. These are (just like with the clouds) based on the observation that IPCC model assumptions do not check with actual physical data, which I would see as a basic IPCC weakness. But let me be more specific.
In discussing projections from GCM studies, IPCC AR4 WG1 (Chapter 10, p.758) states that the mean radiative forcing for doubled atmospheric CO2 is a net 3.67 W/m^2 (no feedbacks). This translates to a 2xCO2 warming of <1°C. (If you use the forcing estimates cited by IPCC, you arrive at 0.76°C, so let’s round this up to 0.8°C and stick with this value.) Note that IPCC cites a value of 1°C (and Hansen even inflates this to 1.2°C).
On p.759 (Chapter 10) IPCC states, “in response to a doubling in atmospheric CO2, the specific humidity increases by approximately 20% through much of the troposphere”.
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter10.pdf
The assumed 20% increase in specific humidity forms the basis for modeled water vapor feedback and, along with the other feedback assumptions, for the statement (p.749), “An expert assessment based on the combination of available constraints from observations (assessed in Chapter 9) and the strength of known feedbacks simulated in the models used to produce the climate change projections in this chapter indicates that the equilibrium global mean SAT warming for a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), or “equilibrium climate sensitivity”, is likely to lie in the range of 2°C to 4.5°C range, with a most likely value of about 3°C.”
This estimate includes net positive feedbacks from both water vapor and clouds, as well as a negative feedback from lapse rate and a positive feedback from surface albedo.
In Chapter 8 (p.630) IPCC states that the multi-model mean forcing and standard deviation for each in W/m^2 °C is:
+1.80 ±0.18 [Water vapor]
-0.84 ±0.26 [Lapse rate]
+0.26 ± 0.08 [Surface albedo]
+0.69 ± 0.38 [Clouds]
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter8.pdf
On p.631 IPCC states:
“The water vapor feedback is, however, closely related to the lapse rate feedback, and the two combined result in a feedback parameter of approximately 1 W/m^2, corresponding to an amplification of the basic temperature response by approximately 50%.”
This would translate into a temperature response of 1.5°C, excluding the feedbacks from clouds or surface albedo.
On p.632 IPCC states:
“Calculations with GCMs suggest that water vapour remains at an apparently constant fraction of its saturated value (close to unchanged relative humidity [RH]) under global scale warming.”
On p. 633 IPCC states:
“Using feedback parameters from Figure 8.14, it can be estimated that in the presence of water vapour, lapse rate and surface albedo feedbacks, but in the absence of cloud feedbacks, current GCMs would predict a climate sensitivity (±1 standard deviation) of roughly 1.9°C ± 0.15°C (ignoring spread from radiative forcing differences). The mean and standard deviation of climate sensitivity estimates derived from current GCMs are larger (3.2°C ± 0.7°C) essentially because the GCMs all predict a positive cloud feedback (Figure 8.14) but strongly disagree on its magnitude.”
Using these feedback parameters, the 2xCO2 feedback temperature response would be:
+0.8°C [2xCO2] (p.758)
+1.5°C [Water Vapor]
-0.8°C [Lapse Rate]
+1.5°C [Sub-total 1] (p.631)
+0.4°C [Albedo]
+1.9°C [Sub-total 2] (p.633)
+1.3°C [Clouds]
+3.2°C [Total, all feedbacks] (p.633)
A 2004 study by Minschwaner and Dessler refers to actual NASA satellite measurements of water vapor, showing a “lower than expected” increase in tropospheric water vapor content with higher sea surface temperatures.
http://mls.jpl.nasa.gov/joe/Minschwaner_2004.pdf
The results cited for specific humidity variations are (p.1279):
1.8 to 4.2 ppm/C with an average of 3 ppm/C (Minschwaner, observed data)
8.5 to 9.5 ppm/C (Minschwaner model)
This compares with:
20 ppm/C (climate models used by IPCC = constant relative humidity)
In other words, the M+D model predicts two to three times the amount of water vapor increase as actually observed by the satellites and the IPCC models assume a value two times higher than the M+D model.
Rather than finding either a “constant relative humidity” or a “20% increase in specific humidity” as assumed by the IPCC GCMs, the M-D report concludes, “The increases in water vapor with warmer temperatures are not large enough to maintain a constant relative humidity”. “We find that relative humidity in the UT decreases with increasing surface temperature, on the order of 3%-5% per degree of surface warming.”
The M-D model results conclude that the increase in water vapor will be around 40% to 50% of the values assumed in the IPCC GCMs. It estimates a climate sensitivity for 2xCO2 including water vapor feedback (but excluding clouds and the other feedbacks) of 1.2°C.
A 2007 report by Wentz et al. states that satellite observations indicate that the total amount of water in the atmosphere increases at a rate of 7% per Kelvin of surface warming (a slightly lower figure that that reported from the M-D models, but still a bit higher than the actual M-D satellite observations). http://www.scienceonline.org/cgi/content/short/317/5835/233
In other words, to summarize: satellite data from physical observations show that IPCC model assumptions for water vapor feedback are overstated by a factor of around five times.
This is a major discrepancy, raising serious doubts regarding the IPCC assumption of an overall 2xCO2 climate sensitivity with all feedbacks (excl. clouds) of 1.9°C.
If we correct the IPCC model assumptions on the magnitude of the water vapor feedback based on the cited physical observations on water vapor increase with temperature and assume that clouds have neither a net positive nor a net negative feedback, we are left with a 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of around 1.0°C to 1.3°C (or around one-third of the value currently calculated by the climate models).
If we use Spencer’s observations to correct for clouds, we are back to a 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of around 0.7°C to 0.8°C, as estimated by Lindzen or Shaviv + Veizer.
In summary, it appears that IPCC is using model assumptions that lead to a calculated 2xCO2 climate sensitivity (with all feedbacks) that is three to four times as high as that which would be supported by physical observations.
Since this is the basis for all IPCC global warming projections, it appears that these should be taken “with a grain of salt”.
Regards,
Max

John McLondon
August 27, 2008 6:20 pm

Max,
Thank you very much for the detailed response. However, this (about water vapor) is an area I do not really know enough to make any comments. NASA’s own site tells us that measurements on water vapor content is at the most 30 % reliable. It is very difficult to make any useful comments with that accuracy. So, unfortunately, I cannot add much here on this topic.
May be Joel could respond? Joel, are you around?
Having said all these, I really hope Spencer is correct, that there is some mechanism out there that is stabilizing the rise in temperature from CO2. We have so much energy resource (like methane hydrates, coal and natural gas), it would be very nice to use them, if the cloud system is capable of filtering out AGW.

Mike Bryant
August 27, 2008 7:39 pm

“…the problems lie not with the models but with that observational data itself.”
-Joel Shore
’nuff said…

statePoet1775
August 27, 2008 7:56 pm

“Having said all these, I really hope Spencer is correct, that there is some mechanism out there that is stabilizing the rise in temperature from CO2.” John London
I’ll go out on a limb and say there is a Stabilizer since burning fossil fuel is NOT immoral.

John McLondon
August 28, 2008 6:39 am

statePoet1775,
“I’ll go out on a limb and say there is a Stabilizer since burning fossil fuel is NOT immoral.”
One small problem is that it is immoral if it hurts (or will hurt) someone without proper justification, so we may not be able to comment on its moral aspects until we settle what it does to the environment.
But you have no idea how strongly I wish your statement to be true – that we could use our God given resources without feeling guilty about hurting others (particularly the poor – see here for example: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93706882 ) now or in the future.

Jeff Alberts
August 28, 2008 7:26 am

But you have no idea how strongly I wish your statement to be true – that we could use our God given resources without feeling guilty about hurting others (particularly the poor – see here for example: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93706882 ) now or in the future.

I thought oil was ancient marine animal given, not fictitious sky daddy given.
[As there are no religious discussions allowed here this includes making fun of religion as well. It is essentially a personal attack on the other’s beliefs. This comment is not meant to launch a discussion on board policy. It is meant to ask posters to be civil to one another~charles the moderator]

Joel Shore
August 28, 2008 11:19 am

manacker says:

In discussing projections from GCM studies, IPCC AR4 WG1 (Chapter 10, p.758) states that the mean radiative forcing for doubled atmospheric CO2 is a net 3.67 W/m^2 (no feedbacks). This translates to a 2xCO2 warming of <1°C. (If you use the forcing estimates cited by IPCC, you arrive at 0.76°C, so let’s round this up to 0.8°C and stick with this value.) Note that IPCC cites a value of 1°C (and Hansen even inflates this to 1.2°C).

I’m not sure how you get 0.76°C. I get 0.98°C if I use your 3.67 W/m^2 value. (Note that the albedo for incoming solar radiation on the earth is ~0.31 but for the wavelengths of the outgoing infrared radiation, the earth acts like a blackbody.)

+0.8°C [2xCO2] (p.758)
+1.5°C [Water Vapor]
-0.8°C [Lapse Rate]
+1.5°C [Sub-total 1] (p.631)
+0.4°C [Albedo]
+1.9°C [Sub-total 2] (p.633)
+1.3°C [Clouds]
+3.2°C [Total, all feedbacks] (p.633)

Besides the quibble in regards to the doubling of CO2 alone, which I think should be at least 1.0°C, I think your numbers are basically correct here. (As you noted in regards to Hansen, I have seen others say 1.1 or 1.2 C although I am not sure how they get this.)
However, there are some error bars on these numbers…in particular, the cloud feedback…which is why although the model average for total feedbacks may be +3.2°C, there is considerable spread amongst the model and the IPCC likely range is 2.0 to 4.5°C. [Which, I guess means they are saying that the cloud feedback is likely positive, but the range is from just about neutral to quite strongly positive.]

A 2004 study by Minschwaner and Dessler refers to actual NASA satellite measurements of water vapor, showing a “lower than expected” increase in tropospheric water vapor content with higher sea surface temperatures.
http://mls.jpl.nasa.gov/joe/Minschwaner_2004.pdf
You have not kept up with their work summarized ina later paper here: http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1175%2FJCLI3882.1&ct=1 What they found in the earlier paper is that the increases in water vapor in the upper troposphere were not enough to keep relative constant there. In that paper, they assumed that “constant relative humidity” was what the climate models would predict since it is often summarized as being approximately true. However, in the later paper, they actually ran the climate models and found that the relative humidity decreased somewhat in the models too…and, in fact, that “these two values [the observational one and the model prediction] agree within the respective ranges of uncertainty, indicating that current global climate models are simulating the observed behavior of water vapor in the tropical upper troposphere with reasonable accuracy.”

In other words, to summarize: satellite data from physical observations show that IPCC model assumptions for water vapor feedback are overstated by a factor of around five times.

I don’t think this conclusion is correct in the slightest. (I never understood how you came up with that factor of 5 anyway.) As the latter paper by Dessler and co-authors show, the satellite data and model runs show that…within experimental and model uncertainties…the water vapor is behaving as expected.

statePoet1775
August 28, 2008 11:56 am

“But you have no idea how strongly I wish your statement to be true – that we could use our God given resources without feeling guilty about hurting others (particularly the poor – see here for example: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93706882 ) now or in the future.” John McLondon
Until we know positively that it is harmful, then it is IRRESPONSIBLE to damage the world’s economy which by the way could lead to World War as the Great Depression led to WWII. These are dangerous times.

statePoet1775
August 28, 2008 12:08 pm

“I thought oil was ancient marine animal given, not fictitious sky daddy given.” Jeff Alberts
Jeff,
We are allies here. Some of my arguments are to my coreligionists who have been hoodwinked into extreme environmentalism among other things. They are not directed at you. But I remind you that they too can vote. I know where you stand and would love to engage in hand-to-hand with you on the subject of “sky-daddy” but we must deal with the common enemy first.
Respectfully

Joel Shore
August 28, 2008 12:09 pm

There is an HTML-coding error in my previous post…Everything from “You have not kept up with their work…” on down (except the paragraph further indented) are my own words, not manacker’s.

Mike Bryant
August 28, 2008 12:58 pm

“I wish your statement to be true – that we could use our God given resources without feeling guilty about hurting others (particularly the poor”
Our resources are helping the poor. If we stop using our resources, only God will be able to help the poor. The poor will suffer the most from any misguided UN policies that attempt to create a low carbon world.

Jeff Alberts
August 28, 2008 3:51 pm

Jeff,
We are allies here. Some of my arguments are to my coreligionists who have been hoodwinked into extreme environmentalism among other things. They are not directed at you. But I remind you that they too can vote. I know where you stand and would love to engage in hand-to-hand with you on the subject of “sky-daddy” but we must deal with the common enemy first.

I understand. I just think mentioning “god” significantly degrades any scientific discussion.

John McLondon
August 28, 2008 6:03 pm

Jeff Alberts (15:51:15) : “I understand. I just think mentioning “god” significantly degrades any scientific discussion.”
Really? I think that is a very narrow interpretation. The phrase “God given” could mean many things; for many naturalists (like many Hindus and Buddists) nature itself is the god. Unless you want to take it in the religious way, it only means resources just given/available to us without us doing anything to make it. Take another example, is it true that the use of the phrase “acts of God” diminishes the value of legal contracts (particularly for insurance)? Yet it is very difficult to find an insurance contract without that phrase. Those words are perfectly well understood, unless someone wants to interpret it in a specific way.
Mike Bryant (12:58:01) : “Our resources are helping the poor. If we stop using our resources, only God will be able to help the poor. The poor will suffer the most from any misguided UN policies that attempt to create a low carbon world.”
That is the main issue here. Until there is enough scientific evidence to suggest that not using fossil fuel energy resources will harm the poor more than using these resources in the long run, I think we are morally obliged to restrain from using those potentially more harmful resources. I do not think there is enough scientific evidence to support that. If and when there is, I will be very happy to change my opinion.

Jeff Alberts
August 28, 2008 7:27 pm

John McLondon (18:03:16) :

Really? I think that is a very narrow interpretation. The phrase “God given” could mean many things; for many naturalists (like many Hindus and Buddists) nature itself is the god. Unless you want to take it in the religious way, it only means resources just given/available to us without us doing anything to make it. Take another example, is it true that the use of the phrase “acts of God” diminishes the value of legal contracts (particularly for insurance)? Yet it is very difficult to find an insurance contract without that phrase. Those words are perfectly well understood, unless someone wants to interpret it in a specific way.

And we all know how many Hindus and Buddhists are commenting here 😉 I don’t see any other way to take a mention of “god” other than religious. Even in the “naturalist” sense, it’s still a religious reference, something to be worshipped without evidence of existense or purpose.
Yes, using the phrase “act of God” in legal documents should be removed in favor of “Natural/Weather events.” Anything wrong with that? After all an “act of God” could mean literally anything to a religious person.

Admin
August 28, 2008 8:02 pm

Can we just stop the religious discussion, or the attempts to interpret whether the mention of God automatically is a religious discussion?
Let’s just move on. Please everyone stop trying to get the last word on this subject. Hopefully, that will be my last word on the subject.
Mosher says I’m right so there.
jeez aka charles the moderator.

manacker
August 28, 2008 11:06 pm

Hi Joel,
Thanks for your comments to my earlier post. Let’s clear up the points one by one.
“I’m not sure how you get 0.76°C. I get 0.98°C if I use your 3.67 W/m^2 value.”
It is not “my” 3.67 W/m^2 value. It is the value stated by IPCC AR4 WG1 (Chapter 10, p.758).
Now for the calculation (I actually used 3.708/m^2 based on Myhre et al):
At 2xCO2, C2/C1 = 2.0
ln2 = 0.6931
5.35*ln2 = 3.708
Greenhouse gases trap heat within the surface-troposphere system (the lower troposphere) 0-3000m.
Tsurface = 15.0°C
Using T at 1500m = Tsurface – 1.5 * 6.5 = 5.25°C = 278.41K
Stefan-Boltzman:
4*5.6705E-08*(278.41^3) = 4.895
dT = 3.708 / 4.895 = 0.76K = 0.76°C
Regarding the various feedbacks, you wrote: “Besides the quibble in regards to the doubling of CO2 alone, which I think should be at least 1.0°C, I think your numbers are basically correct here. (As you noted in regards to Hansen, I have seen others say 1.1 or 1.2 C although I am not sure how they get this.)”
You just wrote me that you calculated 0.98°C but that you think it “should be at least 1.0°C”. I cannot understand this statement. Is this really what you wanted to write?
I wonder how Hansen and “others” come up with 1.1 or 1.2°C, since it is a fairly straightforward calculation that does not require a multi-million dollar computer. You also say you are “not sure how they get this”. Guess we’ll have to leave it at that and assume that it’s just a bit of Hansen exaggeration to get his point across.
“However, there are some error bars on these numbers…in particular, the cloud feedback…which is why although the model average for total feedbacks may be +3.2°C, there is considerable spread amongst the model and the IPCC likely range is 2.0 to 4.5°C. [Which, I guess means they are saying that the cloud feedback is likely positive, but the range is from just about neutral to quite strongly positive.]”
Well, not really, Joel. They are not “saying that the cloud feedback is likely positive, but the range is from just about neutral to quite strongly positive”.
IPCC tells us “the GCMs all predict a positive cloud feedback (Figure 8.14) but strongly disagree on its magnitude”. (A glance at Figure 8.14 confirms this.)
The net impact of cloud feedbacks is to increase the 2xCO2 sensitivity including all feedbacks (excluding clouds) from 1.9°C ± 0.15°C to a value (including cloud feedback) of 3.2°C ± 0.7°C (i.e. a range of 2.5°C to 3.9°C).
This is a “whopping” increase from clouds of 1.3°C (i.e. a range of 0.8°C to 1.8°C)! To put this into perspective, the assumed cloud feedbacks alone double or triple the 2xCO2 warming from CO2 alone.
Nowhere is there anything even close to a “range from just about neutral to quite strongly positive”. IPCC assumes it’s “positive” all the way, Joel (as they also clearly state).
Now to your Minschwaner + Dessler “update”. There is nothing new here, Joel. Read what it says:
“Furthermore, the implied feedback in the models is not as strong as would be the case if relative humidity remained constant in the upper troposphere. The model mean decrease in relative humidity is −2.3% ± 1.0% K−1 at 250 mb, whereas observations indicate decreases of −4.8% ± 1.7% K−1 near 215 mb.”
Observations show a decrease in RH of –4.8% per degree K warming.
The M+D model calculated a decrease in RH of –2.3% per degree K warming.
Yet IPCC models assume a constant RH with warming.
These are pretty much the same figures M+D presented in their 2004 study, which I cited. (This is logical, because the later paper draws on exactly the same observations as the earlier paper.)
To quote from the earlier paper, which I cited:
“Rather than finding either a “constant relative humidity” or a “20% increase in specific humidity” as assumed by the IPCC GCMs, the M-D report concludes, “The increases in water vapor with warmer temperatures are not large enough to maintain a constant relative humidity”. “We find that relative humidity in the UT decreases with increasing surface temperature, on the order of 3%-5% per degree of surface warming.” [Note that this is the same conclusion drawn in the later paper.]
The results cited for specific humidity variations are (p.1279):
1.8 to 4.2 ppm/C with an average of 3 ppm/C (Minschwaner, observed data)
8.5 to 9.5 ppm/C (Minschwaner model)
This compares with:
20 ppm/C (climate models used by IPCC = constant relative humidity)
(M+D even put this into a nice graph; a picture is worth…)
This should answer your query, “I never understood how you came up with that factor of 5 anyway.” (Try dividing 20 by 1.8 and then by 4.2 and averaging the two results. You will actually come up with a mean value of close to 7. But I just stated a factor of 5.)
Yes, “within experimental and model uncertainties…the water vapor is behaving as expected” (i.e. water vapor content increases at temperature rises).
But it is the magnitude of this increase where the physically observed data and the IPCC assumptions disagree strongly: IPCC says “+20% specific humidity” and the satellites show “+3% ± 1.2%”.
And that was my point, Joel. The IPCC assumptions exaggerate the warming from water vaper feedback because they exaggerate the amount of atmospheric water vapor increase with increased tempedrature.
Regards,
Max

Joel Shore
August 29, 2008 6:51 pm

Max,
Most of what you wrote seems to be not worth quibbling over. E.g., your assumption that greenhouse gases absorb only in the lower levels (0-3000m) of the atmosphere is not very realistic…and since the radiative forcings are top-of-the-atmosphere numbers, your use of a temperature in that region is not correct. But whatever.
The more serious errors you make are when you discuss the paper by MINSCHWANER, DESSLER, and SAWAENGPHOKHAI (which is available in PDF form here: http://physics.nmt.edu/~krm/minschwaneretal_jcli2006.pdf ). For example, you say:

Observations show a decrease in RH of –4.8% per degree K warming.
The M+D model calculated a decrease in RH of –2.3% per degree K warming.
Yet IPCC models assume a constant RH with warming.

These statements (or at least 2 out of 3 of them) are incorrect. The models discussed in that paper are the models that the IPCC uses, not the M+D model. Hence the statement: “In this paper, we present an analysis of the water vapor feedback in the tropical upper troposphere as simulated by 17 coupled ocean–atmosphere climate models. The model simulations were performed in support of the Working Group One component of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report. This multimodel output presents a unique opportunity for assessing the performance and sensitivity of the current generationof climate models.”
These models do not assume constant RH with warming. It has often been said that this seems to be an approximate result of the models but one important point of this paper is that in fact the models predict the RH values in the upper troposphere to drop somewhat with warming. It is true that the central estimate of the drop in RH is larger in the observations than the models but they are within error bars of each other.

manacker
August 30, 2008 1:37 pm

Hi Joel,
You apparently feel that it may not be “worth quibbling over” the IPCC assumptions on 2xCO2 climate sensitivity, but it makes all the difference whether or not AGW is a real and present threat to our climate (as projected for the future) or a minor increase in global temperature (as actually observed so far).
The past observation (0.6°C to 0.7°C rise in temperature over the entire 20th century) is hard to reconcile with a 2xCO2 sensitivity of 3.2°C.
To start off, you apparently have a problem with a 2xCO2 calculation (without feedbacks), resulting in around 0.8°C. Please indicate how you would arrive at 1.0°C to 1.2°C.
As for the water vapor feedback itself. Regardless of how you try to rationalize it, Joel, the facts are the facts.
IPCC states repeatedly that the models it cites are based on the assumption that atmospheric water vapor concentrations will increase with increased temperature. No one disputes this.
The dispute comes in the AMOUNT of water vapor increase.
IPCC states (Chapter 3), “The global trends of near-surface relative humidity are very small. Trends in specific humidity tend to follow surface temperature trends with a global average increase of 0.06 g/kg per decade (1976-2004). The rise in specific humidity corresponds to about 4.9% per 1°C warming over the globe.”
Later on IPCC states, “Wang et al. (2001) found an increasing trend of 1 to 5% per decade in relative humidity during 1976 to 1995, with the largest increases in the upper troposphere, using 17 radiosonde stations in the tropical west Pacific. Conversely, a combination of Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) and Halogen Occultation Equipment (HALOE) measurements at 215 hPa suggested increases in water vapour with increasing temperature (Minschwaner and Dessler, 2004) on interannual time scales, but at a rate smaller than expected from constant relative humidity.”
The reason for this discrepancy, “Comparisons of water vapour sensors during recent intensive field campaigns have produced a renewed appreciation of random and systematic errors in radiosonde measurements of upper-troposheric water vapour`and of the difficulty in developing accurate corrections for these measurements.”
Let’s boil all this down to a few words: Earlier radiosonde measurements (Wang) pointed to an increase in relative humidity with warming. These conclusions were subsequently shown to be erroneous (M+D), and the relative humidity was observed to decrease with warming. Later studies revealed the root cause for the early radiosonde errors.
In Chapter 8, IPCC gets more specific on humidity and water vapor feedback assumptions for the models.
“Calculations with GCMs suggest that water vapour remains at an approximately constant fraction of its saturated value (close to unchanged relative humidity (RH)) under global-scale warming.” “Variations in upper-tropospheric water vapour have been observed across time scales from seasonal and interannual to decadal as well as in respo