Spencer: A Demonstration that Global Warming Predictions are Based More On Faith than On Science

By Roy Spencer, PhD.

I’m always searching for better and simpler ways to explain the reason why I believe climate researchers have overestimated the sensitivity of our climate system to increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.

What follows is a somewhat different take than I’ve used in the past. In the following cartoon, I’ve illustrated 2 different ways to interpret a hypothetical (but realistic) set of satellite observations that indicate (1) warming of 1 degree C in global average temperature, accompanied by (2) an increase of 1 Watt per sq. meter of extra radiant energy lost by the Earth to space.

Three-cases-global-forcing-feedback

The ‘consensus’ IPCC view, on the left, would be that the 1 deg. C increase in temperature was the cause of the 1 Watt increase in the Earth’s cooling rate. If true, that would mean that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide by late in this century (a 4 Watt decrease in the Earth’s ability to cool) would eventually lead to 4 deg. C of global warming. Not good news.

But those who interpret satellite data in this way are being sloppy. For instance, they never bother to investigate exactly WHY the warming occurred in the first place. As shown on the right, natural cloud variations can do the job quite nicely. To get a net 1 Watt of extra loss you can (for instance) have a gain of 2 Watts of forcing from the cloud change causing the 1 deg. C of warming, and then a resulting feedback response to that warming of an extra 3 Watts.

The net result still ends up being a loss of 1 extra Watt, but in this scenario, a doubling of CO2 would cause little more than 1 deg. C of warming since the Earth is so much more efficient at cooling itself in response to a temperature increase.

Of course, you can choose other combinations of forcing and feedback, and end up deducing just about any amount of future warming you want. Note that the major uncertainty here is what caused the warming in the first place. Without knowing that, there is no way to know how sensitive the climate system is.

And that lack of knowledge has a very interesting consequence. If there is some forcing you are not aware of, you WILL end up overestimating climate sensitivity. In this business, the less you know about how the climate system works, the more fragile the climate system looks to you. This is why I spend so much time trying to separately identify cause (forcing) and effect (feedback) in our satellite measurements of natural climate variability.

As a result of this inherent uncertainty regarding causation, climate modelers are free to tune their models to produce just about any amount of global warming they want to. It will be difficult to prove them wrong, since there is as yet no unambiguous interpretation of the satellite data in this regard. They can simply assert that there are no natural causes of climate change, and as a result they will conclude that our climate system is precariously balanced on a knife edge. The two go hand-in-hand.

Their science thus enters the realm of faith. Of course, there is always an element of faith in scientific inquiry. Unfortunately, in the arena of climate research the level of faith is unusually high, and I get the impression most researchers are not even aware of its existence.

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As ever, Dr. Spencer, thank you for making the assumptions clear.
So long as the AGW hypothesis rests on the sandy foundation that there is just no other explanation than CO2 no actual science is being done. A scientific process would look at the variety of possible explanations and test each against the data and against each other.
What you describe as faith can also be described as a willful failure of imagination. Clouds, aerosols, the observed changes in current patterns, urban heat effects, solar activity (or inactivity) all have some impact. So, of course, does CO2 and water vapor and methane and, very possibly, CFCs.
Climate is complicated. The leaden certainty of the “climate scientists” rests upon the unjustified simplifications required to make their computer models work. The more we learn about climate the more unrealistic those simplifications appear. Which is progress.

Phillip Bratby

A neat and simple explanation. But, because temperature is an intensive property, it would be useful to start off by explaining why the very idea of a global average temperature is complete nonsense.
I repeat – a global average temperature is complete nonsense.

Dave F

Unfortunately, in the arena of climate research the level of faith is unusually high, and I get the impression most researchers are not even aware of its existence.
Dare I say it? The flat-earthers have come round again…
Bad pun, but it was such a fat pitch I had to swing at it.

Peter Hearnden

If there is some forcing you are not aware of, you WILL end up overestimating climate sensitivity.
Dr Spencer, this is, of course, right but you then go on to assume an ‘if’ is a certainty. Indeed, you go one step further, assume and then accuse ‘are free to tune their models to produce just about any amount of global warming they want to.‘. That is worse than having a blind faith. It’s to have such conviction, such faith, you are right that you feel able to accuse others of crime in public and based on the most flimsy of ‘evidence’ – your feelings (well, you present no evidence).
Stick to the science, play the science. You don’t need to accuse the modeller if you can show them to be wrong. You clearly can’t.

Claude Harvey

As ever, I am at a loss to comprehend how AGW theory ever passed the scientific “laugh test”. The number of logical indicators of “negative feedback” to temperature forcing functions, not the least of which is the reconstructed history of the atmosphere, is simply overwhelming.
CH

lgl

“More Realistic View” ?
1 Watt net loss and 1 C warming? Does not make sense to me.

John in NZ

“They can simply assert that there are no natural causes of climate change,”
If you look at two different photos of the earth as seen from orbit you will see the cloud cover is never the same. This tells me that the amount of energy reaching the earth is constantly changing.
If you could pick any two identical periods of time and accurately measure the cloud cover it would be surprising to find the cover was the same.
How can this not be a natural cause of climate change.
Regarding the two different interpretations. One of the problems I have with the IPCC position is they present it as a choice between two possible explanations and then declare they have considered and rejected the natural explanation. This is an invalid “Argument from Ignorance.”(Aka argument to ignorance, argumentum ad ignorantiam ) (google it)
They are saying “I do not know how it could have a natural explanation so it must be anthropogenic.” In other words, “It must be true because it can’t be the other explanation”
It is a fallacy as it uses a lack of knowledge as if it were evidence.
The argument is invalid because there are not only two possible explanations. In reality there must be an infinite number of possible explanations and they cannot have considered them all.
Which brings me to the point I want to make. Whenever you find someone using an argument from ignorance you can be confident they have no valid evidence.
Their belief is based not on data predicted by their theory but on faith.
After all, if there was good evidence, Al Gore would have put it in the movie.

Baa Humbug

P Bratby
My sentiments exactly. The notion of a global average temp. is silly. It is a quantity we will NEVER know. It never stands still, changes dramatically in minutes and even in a few metres. To think that some wags believe they can determine average global temperatures from “proxy” data going back hundreds or thousands of years defies belief.
Peter Hearnden
We have a different understanding from reading the same article. That happens.
“natural cloud variations can do the job quite nicely”. and
“Of course, you can choose other combinations of forcing and feedback, and end up deducing just about any amount of future warming you want”.
I can’t see where Dr Spencer turned an if into a certainty. The only certainty he states is, “the major uncertainty here is what caused the warming in the first place. Without knowing that, there is no way to know how sensitive the climate system is”.
I don’t have a problem with the certainty that modellers are uncertain what caused the warming in the first place.

Phillip Bratby

Peter Hearnden: Of course our knowledge is incomplete and there are lots of forcings and uncertainties we may be unaware of.
Trenberth (Mr ‘Earth’s Annual Global energy Budget’) was revealed in a climategate email to say:
“But the resulting evaporative cooling means the heat goes into atmosphere and should be radiated to space: so we should be able to track it with sky temperature data. That data is unfortunately wanting, and so too are the cloud data. The ocean data are also lacking, although some of that may be related to the ocean current changes, and burying heat at depth, where it is not picked up. If it is sequestered at depth then it comes back to haunt us later, and so we should know about it.” (Email #125552376)
Pretty conclusive ‘evidence’. How are these missing data dealt with in the models?

wota

Not only is Roy Spencer debunking the myth of AGW he is also telling the truth about what evolution really is. It is Intelligent Design, folks!

stumpy

A very clear way of explaining it – thanks.
I see some circular reasoning happening here in the IPCC camp. Because they can build a model with none of the natural factors and replicate warming with their assuming OTT feedback, they feel they are right, but its circular just reasonning if they dont seek to include the natural drivers to better estimate the co2 sensivity. This cirucular logic makes them feel right, as it all fits together. But give me 4 parameters and I could explain the warming without co2, fudging a model proves nothing!

sHx

Is it my false perception or is Dr Ray Spencer really the climate scientist with the best command of English? It seems he has a special ability to express clearly and succintly what ought to be complex scientific ideas. Since language and thought are related, I can only surmise that Dr Spencer’s elegance of language indicates an elgance of thought.

Bill Hunter

“Not only is Roy Spencer debunking the myth of AGW he is also telling the truth about what evolution really is. It is Intelligent Design, folks!”
Indeed! GW is so well organized it could not have been designed by chance!

hunter

So according to Philip Bratby, intensive properties can’t be averaged? What a bizarre notion. He seems very sure about it, though, for some reason. Perhaps he could explain whether the following concepts are “complete nonsense” or not: average velocity; average density; average pressure; average pH; average concentration? If they are, then naturally he should tell all the poor scientists who make daily use of some very simple maths to work out such averages. If they are not, then naturally he should explain why temperature is the only intensive variable that can’t be averaged. I look forward to hearing which of the two is the answer in Bratby-land.

Vincent

lgl (00:44:42) :
“More Realistic View” ?
1 Watt net loss and 1 C warming? Does not make sense to me
This is based loosely on blackbody radiation. If something gets warmer, it radiates more energy. Thus, the 1c of warming would be associated with extra radiation into space – 1 watt in this case.
The question I have is that in the example on the right, the diagram shows an extra 3 watts radiated into space, but in the body of the text it says “The net result still ends up being a loss of 1 extra Watt.” I don’t follow that logic, which brings me onto:
sHx,
” It seems he has a special ability to express clearly and succintly what ought to be complex scientific ideas,”
Maybe if you are a climate scientist and understand the arguments, but I am always finding Dr. Spencer difficult to follow, compared to say Willis Eschenbach. But thats just me.

Phillip Bratby

I have a lump of material at xC and another lump of material at yC. What is the average temperature of the material?
Ditto density and the othet intensive properties?
Perhaps there is something missing?

Phillip Bratby (00:24:33) :
A neat and simple explanation. But, because temperature is an intensive property, it would be useful to start off by explaining why the very idea of a global average temperature is complete nonsense.
I repeat – a global average temperature is complete nonsense.

Ok – call it global temperature index if it makes you feel any better. We’re not interested in the actual global average temperature, we’re interested in whether in by how much it’s changed. The various datasets do a reasonable job of providing that information.
To use the lake analogy. I can tell whether the level of a lake has risen or fallen without knowing exactly how much water is in the lake.

Peter Hearnden

I have a lump of material at xC and another lump of material at yC. What is the average temperature of the material?
Ditto density and the othet intensive properties?
Perhaps there is something missing?

C’mon, Philip, stop playing silly B’s. We have vastly more than two data points for the atmosphere.
Wrt other comments. I explained my pov in my post and I don’t see the need to expand on that.

Phillip Bratby

John Finn, I disagree. If the global average temperature is nonsense, then so too is the derivative.
Your lake analogy is OK for the lake, because the lake has a single level. But the earth does not have a single temperature.

Phillip Bratby

Peter Hearnden. It doesn’t matter how many points you have. The average is still meaningless. BTW, what’s the average temperature of the air over Dartmoor this morning? Let’s say at 2metres agl. Or over the bottom 10metres. I wonder if it’s warmer in the valleys than on the tors?

Baa Humbug

hunter (01:50:41) :
I agreed with Phillip Bratby so I’ll try to answer, I’m sure he may have a different point.
The discussion is not whether “numbers” or data can be averaged. The point is the data.The temperature from any part(s) of the world can be averaged, but that average DOES NOT and CANNOT give a correct figure for the globes temperature on any given day week or year.
eg I live on a 20 acre farm. If I wanted to know what the average temp of my farm is what do I do? Take some measurements and then average them? The result is useless. The temperature variations on my farm at any given moment are huge. Some areas can be 30deg C in the summer afternoon, other areas can be as low as 25deg C at the very same time. Some areas reach maximum temp. for the day at 3pm other areas reach max at 2.30pm or 3.30pm
Now extrapolate this to a global scale (James Hansen came up with dividing the planet into 5deg by 5deg sectors) Imagine the variables in a 5×5 grid. Whatever “averaging” results is totally and absolutely useless (and thats before the infamous smoothings).
All the above even before we consider temp variations due to other localised causes. (Even a 10sqm area can have it’s own micro-climate)
NO ONE knows what the average temp. of the globe is, and no one will know into the foreseeable future. period.

Richard C

hunter (01:50:41)
I think Philip Bratby is making the claim that the climate is so variable over short distances that one would need temperature measuring stations in a grid pattern every few 100 metres to obtain enough data to even consider making a worthwhile average.
As an example consider the differences in climate between Milford Sound and Queenstown, New Zealand. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milford_Sound http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queenstown,_New_Zealand. I hope that these wpedia entries have not been fiddled with :-).) These two places are less than 50Km apart on the same latitude but Queenstown is 354m higher than Milford Sound with an extensive mountain range between them. If there is such a massive difference between two places this close together how can any-one attempt to average the temperature of the entire planet without having far more datum points than are currently used. Also the datum points for the oceans are few and far between, usually on inhabited islands and not therefore a measure of oceanic temperatures. The oceans are ~70% of the Earth’s surface area with virtually zero measuring stations. Satellite data measures (I think) in 50Km diameter circles so these would give wildly inaccurate local temperatures, if they were measuring ground level temps. which of course they do not do.

Baa Humbug

I’ll add to my comment above by saying the radiation budget of the planet is a whole different kettle of fish. That we may get a handle on at some time in the future.

Louis Hissink

hunter (01:50:41) :
So according to Philip Bratby, intensive properties can’t be averaged? What a bizarre notion.
Hunter, consider A + B = C
If A & B are extensive variables, say A = 1 and B = 1, the C= 2.
If A & B are intensive variables, using the same assumptions above, then C=1.
Bratby is correct.
QED

Since we are on the 40% way to doubling and the most sensitive areas – Arctic and Antarctic – show just natural AMO-related variations and present temperatures equal to 40ties (Arctic) or nothing at all (Antarctic), hereby I declare CO2 as innocent in full extent.
http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/icrutem3_hadsst2_0-360E_66-90N_na.png
http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/itlt_0-360E_-66–90N_na.png
Cay any “leading climate scientist” explain, why the polar areas with cold and dry air and therefore the most sensitive to CO2 increase, do not react at all on “increased greenhouse effect”?

lgl

Vincent (02:02:22) :
No that’s not just you. This post is very confusing since it tells only half the story (or less). This site is not for climate scientists so Roy should come back with more details.

John

“Vincent (02:02:22) :
lgl (00:44:42) :
“More Realistic View” ?
1 Watt net loss and 1 C warming? Does not make sense to me
This is based loosely on blackbody radiation. If something gets warmer, it radiates more energy. Thus, the 1c of warming would be associated with extra radiation into space – 1 watt in this case.”
No, no, no!
Assumming there is no other source of energy. The Earth recieves ~1400 w/m2 from the Sun. This energy is absorbed as a circle but emmitted as a sphere so divide by 4 and the Earth emitts 350w/m2 back into space. That’s it the energy MUST balance. If 1 watt more energy was radiated to space the Earth would be cooling, i.e. it was emitting more energy than it recieved. Greenhouse gases are not a source of energy!
I wonder how Mr Spencer was able to make such a fundamental flaw in basic physics unless his work has been misinterpreted.

Ron de Haan

Dutch Government Educative Publication:
Skeptics are white males (It’s because of the testosterone, not the science)
http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kennislink.nl%2Fpublicaties%2Fblanke-mannen-zijn-niet-bang&sl=nl&tl=en

Rhys Jaggar

I think this is a highly instructional article.
It is perhaps also worthwhile to record the numerous, numerous instances in life when ‘common sense’ breaks down due to lack of appreciation of differing underlying assumptions.
1. For adherents to microeconomics, the assumption goes: decrease the price, you get more customers. In certain niches of the MBA market, the opposite is true. For decreasing the price implies poorer quality and you only get one shot at an MBA. The herd seeks safety in higher prices and, per se, better brand. So putting the price up can INCREASE, not decrease, student numbers.
2. For women ill-educated in gender common sense, the assumption is that because they appreciate unsolicited help, that men feel likewise. They cannot understand that men will ask for help if they need it and will not appreciate interference in their business otherwise.
3. Politicians assume that the public must be treated like idiots, because if they knew what they knew, they would rise up or ‘not cope’. On the contrary, if the people knew what they knew, they would take greater responsibility locally, because they seek more harmonious life circumstances, not power per se.
4. Sports owners think that LBOs are ‘good business’. Banks agree but customers/supporters, once they understand what’s going on, know its grand larceny. They are paying bank interest for the owner to take the club off them.
The era of false witness in public and thuggery in the back room is facing up to its biggest threat yet.
The next two centuries will determine how it plays out.
Just like climate science debates………..

Richard Saumarez

Dear Dr Spencer,
I wonder if you enlighten me? I asked these questions yesterday but nobody responded.
Why does the mean global temperature rise during Northern Hemisphere summer? Being naive in this area, if one took a completely regular earth sized sphere with homogeneous temperature absorption in the Earth’s orbit, I would predict that the mean temperature would be constant as the same area would be exposed to the sun. Is rise during NH summer related to the higher land area of the NH, which I would speculate would be less reflective that the sea. Is this related to the albedo of the N pole changing during summer, but I gather that there is a reciprocal relationship between N and S pole ice cover. I think that the implication must be that major geographical features cause this effect.
The second question is why is there cooling in the upper layers of the atatmosphere when the surface temperature rise during summer? The only way I can see this happening is, if one assumes that the total energy flux integrated over an an arbitrary surface in the atmosphere and integrated with respect to time over one year is zero, then if the the surface temerature rises during summer, there is absorption of energy, which is not returned until the NH cools during winter, hence the reciprocal temperature changes between the surface and upper atmosphere. This may be complete rubbish but I would like to understand this.
As regards mean global temperatures, it is quite possible to specify the integral of temperature of the surface as a function of time, as you do. I imagine the problem lies in the non-linearity of some of the processes, e.g.: Stefan- Boltzmann radiation which makes the interpretation of mean temperature difficult. Out of interest, I have started to analyse the HADCRUT data that has been released by the Met Office from a strictly statistical, time and space series problem. I have some difficulty in understanding the logic behing the way the data has been processed to arrive at mean temperatures. The data is severely aliased as a time series and there are huge problems with integrating over the surface given the coarseness of the sampling grid and the difficulty of formal approaches requiring computation of spatial derivatives on the grid. I was interested to discover that there are no measurement points in the Himalayas and only one in the Alps and apparantly one simply interpolates the temperature between stations of either side of these insignificant geographical features. I am not sure what can be calculated from this data, but I suspect that whatever has been calculated may not be entirely reliable!

I also feel that today’s scientist are bogged down in the detail when using elementary science it should be possible to tell if the earth is warming or cooling, we know the level of radiation from the sun, satellite data should be able to tell us over time the radiation emitted back into space, the difference must be down to warming or cooling. Of course we should also correct for the added the heat radiating from the earths core to the surface. But we don’t need to know the average temperature to determine warming or cooling

lgl

Juraj V. (02:52:08) :
The “leading climate scientist” are also claiming the arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, i.e rest of the world is warming at half of – eeh – zero.

Edbhoy

“… They can simply assert that there are no natural causes of climate change, and as a result they will conclude that our climate system is precariously balanced on a knife edge. ”
This summarises the reason they tried to get rid of the MWP. How can there be no natural causes of climate change if the climate changed before humans released CO2 in large quantities? The MWP data didn’t fit their models so the MWP, Holocene Optimum etc. had to go!

lgl

Ron de Haan (03:04:38) :
And the hysterical are hysteric because of oestrogen?

charles the moderator

Ok, Ron and lgl. We’ve had our fun and pun, but no more on this please.

Chris Edwards

My theory is this formula:-
some unexplained data+ some knowledge multiply by financial gain and subtract common sense and history and you get AGW.

” Ron de Haan (03:04:38) :
Dutch Government Educative Publication:
Skeptics are white males (It’s because of the testosterone, not the science)”
Is this the same Dutch Government that has refused to resign despite being found guilty of supporting what has just been judged in court to be the war crime of the invasion of Iraq?
They are not very big on ‘facts’ are they.

anna v

What has always bemused me about average global temperatures and anomalies is the connection with Watts/m^2.
If there really existed one function: Flux=constant*T^4 then there would have existed a one to one correlation of temperature with energy and energy is a scalar additive.
BUT , if we want to keep the black body format, the earth is not a black body, and meter by meter the constant is a gray body constant different for each material: ocean, fields, forests, ice, … plus the surface is fractal ( mountains, oceans) and any integration should take care of that too. In addition the atmosphere shells have a different temperature than the ground shells quite often, and this has to be taken into account. As we have seen this winter, air transported from the poles brings down temperatures and changes the gray body constant of the whole northern land hemisphere to that of ice and snow.
I am always amazed at all those watts/meter^2 quotes without errors.
Considering a north wind bringing down the ground temperature by 10C, from 15C to 5C, with the same gray constant gives a difference of 15% in energy radiated( 288K^4/278K^4) .
This table of emissivity for some materials
shows again large percentage deviation from black body ( sand is 75% of black body, water 95-96% etc). Suppose we take this 350watts per meter square that have to be radiated by infrared for the energy to balance, ten percent is 35 Watts per meter square, so how can one talk of a radiation budget to the accuracy of 1 Watt/m^2 eludes me.
As to the emissivity of the atmosphere , ( the percentage difference from black body) the gray body constant of air which can be calculated as in formula 8 in link and is temperature dependent: for 10C it is 0.74, at 20C it is 0.79. for 30C it is 0.85 introducing more errors.

David L. Hagen

John (02:55:50) :

You accuse Spencer of fundamental errors instead of trying to understand what he is saying. Consider the consequences of changing cloud fraction with consequent changing albedo and the portion of solar reflected vs absorbed. Look also at the changes in latent heat transfer rates – evaporation and precipitation.

Vincent

Rhys Jagger,
Common sense is indeed, less common than we would think. There are a number of cognitive biases which cause people to make consistent errors of judgement. Eg, there is the “recency bias” which leads people to place more weight to recent events, statistics etc. which leads to interesting patterns in stock prices. More relevantly there is the “Confirmation” bias which leads to the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.
I disagree with your MBA example though. You are assuming that all MBA’s are equal, so that it becomes irrational for people to pay more for the same product. But this is not the case. A Harvard MBA is clearly more valuable than one from Smallsville, and people are acting rationally in paying more for this qualification.

Michael Larkin

Like some others, I’m having trouble understanding Dr. Spencer:
“The ‘consensus’ IPCC view, on the left, would be that the 1 deg. C increase in temperature was the cause of the 1 Watt increase in the Earth’s cooling rate. If true, that would mean that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide by late in this century (a 4 Watt decrease in the Earth’s ability to cool) would eventually lead to 4 deg. C of global warming. Not good news.”
Right. So I come home and switch on a (very low-powered!) electric fire. The temperature goes up by 1 deg. C, and that is maintained because, although heat is being lost through windows, walls, and roof, the fire continues to crank out heat.
A satellite, as it happens, has my house in its sights and is detecting an extra 1w/sq.m being radiated into space compared to when it made its last pass. This is, in fact, the only way it knows that the temperature of my house has increased.
Is that a rough analogy of what Dr. Spencer is saying the IPCC claims? Except that, they have no idea what the actual cause of the increased temperature is?
Furthermore, is he saying that in due course, perhaps because my electric fire is faulty, the IPCC claims it will begin to emit more heat? So that eventually it will warm by 4 degrees C and 4 w/sq. m will be lost to space? That as the temperature of my house goes up, it will be unable to emit into space enough wattage to keep it at the 1 degree C rise I prefer? Is this the “positive feedback”?
Then he says, for the more realistic view:
“As shown on the right, natural cloud variations can do the job quite nicely. To get a net 1 Watt of extra loss you can (for instance) have a gain of 2 Watts of forcing from the cloud change causing the 1 deg. C of warming, and then a resulting feedback response to that warming of an extra 3 Watts.”
Okay. So, again by rough analogy, is he saying the following: my house has this special kind of thermostat. Any time that the temperature rises by more than 1 degree C, the windows, walls and roof radiate more heat into space so that the 1 degree C rise (and no more) is maintained inside the house? And is that the “negative feedback”?
I’m trying to expose for all to see what may well be my ignorance and misunderstanding here, but quite purposely. I’m hoping someone will quite plainly be able to see what I may not be understanding and why, and if so, be able to correct me in terms I, and maybe others who are struggling with this, will be able to understand.
Tnaks in advance for any kind takers.

IlikeWarm@yahoo.com

Is it true that CO2 (or any molecule for that matter) absorbs heat only in a specific (resonant?) frequency band? If so, it appears to me, the upper range of maximum heating possible through CO2 absorption is quantifiable and is a function of solar activity, not CO2 levels. Thus it wouldn’t matter how much CO2 is in the atmosphere, once the heat available in the band was all absorbed no further CO2 heating could occur. This would explain how CO2 levels could have been so much higher in the past without creating a runaway greenhouse effect.

imapopulist

“As a result of this inherent uncertainty regarding causation, climate modelers are free to tune their models to produce just about any amount of global warming they want to.”
This is the nature of any modeling exercise where there exists a great degree on unknowns requiring judgment decisions and “educated guesses”.
By their nature models will reflect the biases of those who prepare them. Thus one cannot rely on models that come from organizations that also have become advocates.

Tom in Florida

re: average temperatures
During this last cold spell there are some areas of plants in my backyard that died and some areas that didn’t. There were individual plants that died on one part but not the other. If you had the temperature data from several points you could calculate an average for the entire backyard but it still wouldn’t change the fact that the small differences from the average meant life or death to some of the plants.
Last night the low temp was 41F, the night before 25 F so the average of the two nights was 33 F. Does that tell anyone about the critical differences between the two nights? If you averaged out the low temps for the entire winter would that tell you it was OK to plant temperature sensitive plants because they would never die?

Pascvaks

We’re speaking ten different languages here.
1. Science speak is usually quite complex. Science cannot adequately explain the weather, climate, or forecast either beyond 48 hours, this creates a lot of concern among those with a bent for paying bills and putting food on the table. Science is unlikely to resolve this problem any time soon.
2. Among scientists there are those who imagine themselves to be smarter than anyone else and they come out with all kinds of good and bad theories. Call this the noise of science, a dialect of Science speak.
3. Among scientists there are “scientists”, these are unscrupulous people who want to be rich and famous and will say and do anything to make more money and get their names in the media and their ugly faces on TV. Their science speak is slurred and twisted.
4. Outside of science there are lawmakers and government officials who don’t know anything about science and who want to do the best they can for the people of their country. Rare, but it happens.
5. Outside of science there are “lawmakers and government officials” who don’t know anything about science or public service and who want to be famous and get on the Tonight Show and make a lot of money. They will use any issue to further their goals and feather their own nest.
6. Outside science there are business people who don’t know anything about science and who want to do the best they can for their business. Again, rare but it is seen in the strangest places sometimes
7. Outside science there are “business” people who don’t know anything about science or business and who want to make a lot of money and buy expensive toys. They also want to be famous and get on the Tonight Show. They will use any issue to further their goals and feather their own nest.
8. Outside science there are regular people who don’t know anything (or much) about science or politics or business who just want to be left alone to live their life and earn a decent wage. They want to know what the weather is going to be like for the next two weeks and if the climate where they live is going to be the same as always.
9. Outside science there are some “regular people” who don’t know anything about science or politics or business who want to smash something, or convert someone, or build a lasting memorial so that when they die their name is not forgotten.
10. Outside science there are some “very weird people” who made an awful lot of money on some bright idea, or talent, or luck, and who want to leave a bigger monument to their famous little name, or who want to somehow make up for all their sins and do something “good” for humanity. They don’t have a clue what that something could be but one day they meet a weird little “scientist” and a strange little “government employee or politician” who convinces them that unless big, big changes are made, the world will cease to exist, or dry up, or freeze. This sounds BIG to them, they LIKE it, and they write a check. The check goes to the bank to be cashed, the “scientists” start talking with Jay Leno, the “politicians” start writing bills in congress and talking to their “strange regular people” friends who want to smash something, or convert someone, or build a lasting memorial so that when they die their name is not forgotten. Over the years their hysteria grows, and shazam “Copenhagen” and what we see today!
The AGW mess is spoken in more than 10 languages, I only wanted to keep it simple. AGW is only one example of this strange conduct by Carbon Units infesting Planet Earth.

anna v

IlikeWarm@yahoo.com (05:53:23) :
Is it true that CO2 (or any molecule for that matter) absorbs heat only in a specific (resonant?) frequency band?
Yes, molecules absorb infrared photons but the states are unstable and they reradiate, usually into two or three softer photons and the energy ends up as kinetic energy of whole molecules in the mixture. In the case of CO2, and H2O, the heat goes to kinetic energy of N2 and O2 which are more numerous in the atmosphere.
If so, it appears to me, the upper range of maximum heating possible through CO2 absorption is quantifiable and is a function of solar activity, not CO2 levels. Thus it wouldn’t matter how much CO2 is in the atmosphere, once the heat available in the band was all absorbed no further CO2 heating could occur.
No. It would have been true if the states that accepted the infrared photons were stable, but they are not. They decay pretty fast and the molecules are free to absorb again.

Bloggers are even admitting that AGW is faith-based. Just look what National Parks Traveler blogger Kurt Repanshek said about it:
“…you have to take it on faith that something is wrong with the atmosphere.”
That’s right! ON FAITH!
http://nationalparkstravelr.com

Doug S

@ IlikeWarm@yahoo.com (05:53:23) :
@ anna v (06:23:11) :
Thanks for this short discussion on CO2 this morning. I’m struggling to understand the basic physics of how CO2 is behaving in the upper atmosphere. I’m a true layman in this field but my working hypothesis for CO2 at present goes something like this. I assume that the concentrations of CO2 are clumpy as a recent NASA satellite has discovered. So I draw a Gaussian surface around these clumps and then picture them gaining energy when factors are favorable and losing energy as the energy balance reverses. The net energy transfer to H2O and other receivers of this re radiated CO2 energy depends on surrounding conditions. The surrounding conditions are changing in time. The energy gain of the CO2 clumps are changing in time. So the net heating or cooling effect to the earth by CO2 is governed by the superposition of the CO2 energy gain mechanisms and the surrounding mechanisms that would absorb or reflect the re radiated CO2 energy. This line of thinking leads me to believe some kind of frequency analysis (Fourier analysis perhaps) would be an effective way to model the CO2 behavior. Please shoot this down if I’m way off base.

Cement a friend

Dr Roy, I am not sure if you are aware that water and ice in the infra-red range of 3 to 14 micron wavelength are close to black bodies (emissivity/absorptivity >0.95). Clouds radiate heat energy to space. The snow in Europe and North America can be sustained because of radiative heat loss.
I wish you and other “climate” scientists (?) would stop using the word “forcing”. The driver of heat transfer is temperature difference. There are four modes of heat transfer (which you can read in Perry’s Chemical Engineering Handbook)a) Conduction, which occurs in solids, has similarities to electrical conduction. Metals such as copper are good heat conductors. b) convection, which occurs in liquids and gases, is split into “natural” convection and “forced” convection. Forced convection applies when the liquid or gas is in motion particularly turbulent motion, which is driven by pressure differences c) radiation occurs from surfaces to others surfaces or to space through a vacuum, gases or liquids. Gases and liquids can absorb some radiation and re-radiate. d) phase change – in the atmosphere, evaporation and condensation of water is a very important heat transfer.
With surface temperatures around 50C forced convection with winds over 20km/hr exceeds radiation. Just think about washing drying on a windy but overcast day.
The Kiehl and Trenberth global energy flows diagram is wrong on a number of grounds. It would appear that they have no understanding of the principles of heat transfer unless they have deliberately tried to bias their hypothesis. The back radiation from so called greenhouse gases is the biggest error. However, the whole concept of average energy fluxes is wrong as mentioned by some other posts. It is not possible to average the incoming radiation from the sun at the equator during the hot part of the day, the evaporation of water at that point and the outgoing radiation at the pole at night and the snow falling at the pole at the time. Radiation is proportional to the fourth power of absolute temperature and multiplied by emissivities which also can vary.
The Australia BOM has data on evaporation and insolence at some sites. At one inland site the heat absorbed by evaporation (1800 w/m2) exceeded the insolence (1300w/m2) when there was a high wind (29km/h). The additional heat was provided by forced convection and cooling in the water pan.
The sun is the main driver of climate aided by water surfaces (>70% of all the earth surface) and water vapour in the atmosphere which help by providing temperature and pressure differences.

Steve Milesworthy

I assume that the reference to “faith” is Roy Spencer’s reaction to those who accuse him of a faith position.
But why does he think there will be a 2W change in clouds in response to warming? Why is this belief different to the allegation that the models can be tuned to give you what you want?
As it happens, I understand most models don’t show much cloud feedback at all (based on work by Soden and Held), and models that have been “tuned” to give lower feedbacks tend not to be realistic – ie. they’d be even more rubbish at predicting the weather.
Also, of course, all the evidence seems to be that the climate tends to be sensitive to causes of warming in the (geologically) short term – hence the ice ages etc.