Clouds: The Wild Card of Climate Change

I guess they really don’t have a full handle on the science and consensus after all.

NSF Releases Online, Multimedia Package Titled, “Clouds: The Wild Card of Climate Change”

Reader-friendly multimedia package covers the crucial but enigmatic role of clouds on climate change, and how scientists are defining that role

Photo of clouds from an airplane over Michigan.

Clouds from an airplane over Michigan.

Credit and Larger Version

November 4, 2010

View a webcast with David Randall, professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University.

As discussions about climate change continue, one critical factor about this phenomenon has remained largely unknown to the public: the important but enigmatic role of clouds in climate change. The role of clouds is important because at any given time about 70 percent of the Earth is covered by clouds. The role of clouds is enigmatic because clouds can exert opposing forces: Some types of clouds help cool the Earth and some types of clouds help warm it. Which effect will win out as our climate continues to change? So far, no one is certain.

In order to help clear the air on clouds, the National Science Foundation is releasing an online multimedia package on the role of clouds on climate change, entitled, “Clouds: The Wild Card of Climate Change.” It addresses such pressing questions as, will clouds help speed or slow climate change? Why is cloud behavior so difficult to predict? And how in the world are scientists learning to project the behavior of these ephemeral, ever-changing, high-altitude phenomena?

“Clouds: The Wild Card of Climate Change” features:

  • a live webcast with cloud and climate expert: David Randall, director of the Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes and a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University;
  • informative, easy-to-understand texts;
  • eye-catching photos;
  • a narrated slide show;
  • dynamic animations;
  • enlightening interviews with cloud researchers; and
  • downloadable documents.

This package–which provides a wealth of information to reporters, policymakers, scientists, educators, the public and students of all levels–is posted on NSF’s website.

-NSF-

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Joe Lalonde

I guess the science is still not settled…warm, cold, warm, cold.
Well if you go by our planet moving away from the sun, how can it get any warmer?

There should be very interesting discussions and debates on this topic. I remember Dr. Roy Spencer said that from his initial studies, there is a negative feedback of clouds and water vapor on initial warming by man-made GHGs.

kalsel3294

I find the claim that the role of clouds remained largely unknown to the public quite funny. As a member of the public I always felt, for as long as the debate has been going, that the role of the clouds was remaining largely ignored by the alarmists. Perhaps they are finally awakening from their slumber.

david

My thought is rather simple in that all clouds have an albedo effect. The pro AGW thought is that the net effect is positive, some clouds warm, some cool, some are neutral, depending I suppose on the relative changes in LWIR and SW which reach the surface. The idea being that the clouds increase the residence time of LWIR in the atmosphere while the vast majority of SWR continues to the surface.
My thought is that not all photons are equall due to their relative residence time in earth’s system, both ocean and amotsphere. So a cloud that blocks 5 W/m’2 of SWR through albedo, but has a 15 W/m’2 warming effect through the GHG effect will warm the atmosphere, but do to the far longer residence time of SWR photons entering the ocean the reduction of those 5 W/m’2 reduced SWR will have a stronger long term effect which is cumlitive depending on the duration of the change in cloud cover, and certainly as Stephen Wilde expresses, their laditude, which as they shift poleward obviously effects an ever greater % of the TSI. Ans so some clouds may indeed cause a short term atmospheic warming, but a longer term ocean cooling.
I definitely do not have the numbers to quantify the effect I am considering, primarily because I do not know the residence time of SWR photons entering the ocean vs the residence time of LWIR in the atmosphere. Any help here is appreciated.

In their article on clouds, http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/clouds/question.jsp, the NSF says “many scientists say that if warming were to increase the number or kind of cooling clouds or decrease the presence of warming clouds, the current net cooling effect of clouds on the Earth’s climate would probably increase, and thereby moderate, or offset, ongoing warming“.
Oh dear. Didn’t they read the IPCC report? “the GCMs all predict
a positive cloud feedback
” (AR4 8.6.2.3 page 633). Admittedly the IPCC does go on to say “but strongly disagree on its magnitude“, but that still doesn’t allow cloud feedback to be anything but positive.

Dave Springer

david says:
November 5, 2010 at 4:57 am
“So a cloud that blocks 5 W/m’2 of SWR through albedo”
is hardly a cloud.
Fixed that for ya. Cloud top albedo is on the order of 80%. That means it reflects 80% of the light from the sun straight back out into space. That’s closer to 500 watts per square meter than it is to 5 watts. At night they reflect less than 50% of the upwelling long wave radiation back towards the surface and to make it even more unbalanced clouds tend to form in the morning and early afternoon and dissipate in the late afternoon and early evening.
The only “mystery” is exactly how unbalanced the situation is on a global average basis but there’s no credible doubt that clouds have a large net cooling effect. There’s also no doubt that there are more clouds when it’s warmer and fewer when it is colder. So if there is any additional forcing (more surface heat) from higher CO2 level this results in more clouds which will negate the additional forcing from CO2.
The ONLY significant greenhouse effect from CO2 is that first 100ppm or so raises the average temperature of the earth from below freezing to above freezing which activates the water cycle. Once the water cycle is active it takes over the regulation of surface temperature through negative feedback. The only thing to fear is when CO2 is not enough to keep the surface temperature above freezing. When that happens the water cycle effectively screeches to a halt and the surface gets covered with snow which also reflects 80% of the sun’s light and thus fosters even colder surface temperatures and even more snow in a vicious cycle of falling temperatures.
Evidently the pre-industrial level of 280ppm CO2 isn’t enough to stop the brief interglacial periods from ending as for the past several millions of years the earth is largely covered by glaciers 90% of the time. One can only pray that an anthropogenic driven doubling of CO2 to 560ppm or even a quadrupling to 1100ppm is enough to indefinitely extend the Holocene interglacial. If not then human civilization is in for big trouble. Imagine glaciers two miles thick covering all land surfaces from Washington, D.C. northward and land south of that having harsh winters instead of being above freezing all year round.
Hastening the end of the Holocene interglacial by reducing CO2 emissions is utter insanity.

Nigel Brereton

Watch the pea,
‘Cirrus clouds: These clouds are wispy and feathery, and positioned up to 20 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. Cirrus clouds let much sunlight pass through them and may also trap the Earth’s heat, just as greenhouse gases do. Therefore, they have a net warming effect that helps magnify warming. ‘
So noticeable nowadays.

“The role of clouds is enigmatic because clouds can exert opposing forces: Some types of clouds help cool the Earth and some types of clouds help warm it”
Well that certainly clears up the certain uncertainties!!!
What we don’t know is amazing !!

kcom

“Which effect will win out as our climate continues to change?”
Before you use words like that prove to me that climate is actually “changing”. So far all you can show is that it oscillates, and that is not the same thing.

RockyRoad

David Springer is absolutely right.

Andrew30

“..moderate, or offset, ongoing warming”?
Do they have a graph yet that shows the on going unstopable global warming and the current contribution of the negative offset global warming that shows a net non-positive global warming problem?
If you have more negative ‘offset global warming’ than you have ‘global warming’ isn’t that just called, well, cooling?
Do there people keep their beer in a warming offset device, or a cooler?

Anytime a cloud comes between the sun and the earth, there is an immediate and noticeable drop in temperatures, that increases the lower a cloud is. That can only mean that the albedo-enhancing effect dominates the heat trapping effect by quite a large margin, so during the day, clouds are a negative feedback.
When the sun isn’t shining however, clouds do keep things warmer than they would otherwise be, therefore they could be said to have a positive feedback effect at nighttime.
Overall, given the same amount of clouds at night and day, the effect would be negative, because they are reflecting away a lot more energy than they are retaining. I’ve never noticed a rise in temperatures at nighttime when a cloud comes over as much as the drop in temperatures in the daytime.

Honesty about climate change uncertainties? My hat is off to the National Science Foundation!!

Ken Harvey

Whenever I see a straight line I know that I am looking at an artifact. When I see a feedback loop I know that I am looking at a computer programme. If nature allowed continuous looped feedbacks, the universe would have burned up billions of years before we were born.

Pamela Gray

I find myself continually questioning CO2 levels in the past for three reasons. I question past estimates of CO2 because of the ubiquitous use of fires in every home as the only means of heat, which is not so now. In high population urban centers, this often meant coal fires. Two, fire suppression was also not the order of the day in our past. State-wide fires raged out of control, pumping tons of CO2 into the air. This is not the case now. Three, that these levels of CO2 emissions were not recorded in ice cores could be related to the fact that rain may have washed out these emissions prior to them migrating the long distance to areas of the globe that entrapped CO2 in ice. In addition, it seems logical to include the fact that population has steadily increased towards CO2 trapping ice. Could the increase in trapped CO2 in recent years be more a product of the encroaching population? Is it because CO2 emissions are simply closer to the ice trapping fields now than in the past? Bottom line, I take past estimates of CO2 with a rather large chunk of salt. More the size of a salt pillar.

Brian M. Flynn

From “Prof.” J. Collins:
“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow,
It’s cloud illusions I recall,
I really don’t know clouds, at all. ”
A “golden-oldie” still good today!

eadler

david says:
November 5, 2010 at 4:57 am
“My thought is rather simple in that all clouds have an albedo effect. The pro AGW thought is that the net effect is positive, some clouds warm, some cool, some are neutral, depending I suppose on the relative changes in LWIR and SW which reach the surface. The idea being that the clouds increase the residence time of LWIR in the atmosphere while the vast majority of SWR continues to the surface.
My thought is that not all photons are equall due to their relative residence time in earth’s system, both ocean and amotsphere. So a cloud that blocks 5 W/m’2 of SWR through albedo, but has a 15 W/m’2 warming effect through the GHG effect will warm the atmosphere, but do to the far longer residence time of SWR photons entering the ocean the reduction of those 5 W/m’2 reduced SWR will have a stronger long term effect which is cumlitive depending on the duration of the change in cloud cover, and certainly as Stephen Wilde expresses, their laditude, which as they shift poleward obviously effects an ever greater % of the TSI. Ans so some clouds may indeed cause a short term atmospheic warming, but a longer term ocean cooling.
I definitely do not have the numbers to quantify the effect I am considering, primarily because I do not know the residence time of SWR photons entering the ocean vs the residence time of LWIR in the atmosphere. Any help here is appreciated.”
Photons have practically no residence time anywhere. They travel with the speed of light, whether they are “short wave” (UV or optical) or “long wave”.
The clouds absorb the upward moving long wave radiation, and reemit long wave radiation back to the earths surface, where it is absorbed and reemitted. The tops of clouds will also emit IR radiation upward.
The tops of clouds reflect optical wave length radiation coming from the sun, back into space. The relative amounts of radiation sent back to space, versus sent back to the ground determine the effects of clouds, and are different for upper level and lower level clouds.
I would not recommend Stephen Wilde as a source. He is not a scientist of any sort, he is a solicitor who dabbles in weather, and passes himself off as a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, which he is not.
Why not go the the National Science Foundation cloud web site which is the subject of this post?

“Clouds: The Wild Card of Climate Change”
I disagree, Volcanos are currently the Wild Card of Climate Change, Clouds just represent a giant gap in human knowledge and understanding of Earth’s climate system…

Nuke

So we don’t know how the oceans affect the climate (at least the models don’t include the oceans) and we don’t know how clouds really affect the climate either, whether warming causes more clouds or whether less clouds causes the warming (which is cause and which is effect), but we know what the climate is going to be in 20, 30, 50 or 100 years? Really?

Stephen Wilde

Dave Springer says:
November 5, 2010 at 5:57 am
“There’s also no doubt that there are more clouds when it’s warmer and fewer when it is colder.”
I need to qualify that, Dave.
It’s certainly true locally (after a short period of adjustment when perversely the opposite applies as the system plays catch up with the temperature change) and perhaps regionally, but globally ? There’s the rub.
The evidence from the Earthshine project is that cloud quantities decreased during the recent warming spell and are now increasing with the cessation of warming and perhaps beginning of cooling. Likewise albedo.
http://bbso.njit.edu/Research/EarthShine/literature/Palle_etal_2006_EOS.pdf
So how could that be ? Strange how so many observations are turning out to have the reverse sign from standard expectations isn’t it ?
I would explain it by reference to the shifting of the jet streams and thus the associated cloud bands latitudinally.
At the same time as the albedo and cloudiness trends reversed in the late 90s I noted that the jets were starting to shift back equatorwards.
So my bet is that in shifting equatorward the cloud bands were stretched along a greater global circumference, increasing the length of the air mass boundaries and allowing more air mass mixing to produce more clouds.
Additionally the equatorward shift makes the clouds more reflective since they block higher intensity insolation.
That is what primarily causes global albedo changes and thereby changes the amount of solar shortwave able to penetrate the oceans.

Considering the general ability of these people to determine cause and effect on anything else, how are they possibly going to determine the long term impact of clouds on climate.
In all likelyhood the long term effect is neutral as clouds are generally a response. This is especially not surprising considering the little to no impact that anthropogenic CO2 has on long term climate.
How can they figure clouds out if CO2 confuses them?
Theinconvenientskeptic.com

peakbear

Any ‘proper’ cloud reflects most of the sunlight back out into space. As this radiation never actually gets to the surface clouds by definition cool the Earth. Do we have decent records of Earth albedo from projects such as Earthshine and the many satellites we have orbiting us?

kwik

Mike Jonas says:
November 5, 2010 at 5:10 am
“In their article on clouds, http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/clouds/question.jsp, the NSF says “many scientists say that if warming were to increase the number or kind of cooling clouds or decrease the presence of warming clouds, the current net cooling effect of clouds on the Earth’s climate would probably increase, and thereby moderate, or offset, ongoing warming“.
“Oh dear. Didn’t they read the IPCC report? “the GCMs all predict
a positive cloud feedback” (AR4 8.6.2.3 page 633). Admittedly the IPCC does go on to say “but strongly disagree on its magnitude“, but that still doesn’t allow cloud feedback to be anything but positive.”
It is very funny, indeed.
Maybe one day they will understand that they need to go back to school, learning about closed feedback loops. Maybe they will be forced to learn about Laplace transformations? One can only hope.
Maybe they could ask Roy Spencer if he can be their teacher?
But that would of course lead to a world wide acknowledgement that we would all be better off spending time on soft sciences as a hobby, and learning hard science at school.
That would be very bad for the post modern types.

Stephan

massive ice growth in arctic LOL
see DMI

James Sexton

Brian M. Flynn says:
November 5, 2010 at 6:38 am
From “Prof.” J. Collins:
“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow,
It’s cloud illusions I recall,
I really don’t know clouds, at all. ”
A “golden-oldie” still good today!
=======================================================
Dang! I had the tune in my head but just couldn’t remember all the words! Beautiful song! Thanks!

James Sexton

Hey, wasn’t that J. Mitchell?

Stephen Wilde

“I would not recommend Stephen Wilde as a source. He is not a scientist of any sort, he is a solicitor who dabbles in weather, and passes himself off as a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, which he is not.”
I have a membership card referring to me as a Fellow and a letter from the Chief Executive confirming that I may use the title Fellow on an honourary basis because I have been a member of the Society since 1968. I am not entitled to use the designation FRMetS.
All that has been disclosed previously as has my personal backround.
I do not claim to be a ‘source’.
I do claim the status of an educated amateur with a lifelong interest in the subject. My purpose is to try and reconcile the conflicting sources with real world observations and basic physics.
In the process of refinement I make mistakes but they are being corrected as I go along so that my position is becoming increasingly robust and in accordance with new observations.
I have created the only hypothesis that anticipated and accounts for the new data reported by Joanna Haigh.

Stephen Wilde

“Photons have practically no residence time anywhere. They travel with the speed of light, whether they are “short wave” (UV or optical) or “long wave”.”
The above is a standard diversionary tactic when inconvenient questions are raised. It limits the discussion to radiative physics which is not sufficient on its own to explain what goes on within the Earth system.
Those inconvenient questions may mention photons but in reality as in this case the question relates to the heat generated when those photons interact with elements of the Earth system.
Any honest responder to the question would understand that and respond appropriately. This responder did not so I invite others to make their own judgement.
David’s question was sensible and understandable despite the slight error of terminology. I have done my best to answer it properly in another thread.

Francisco

mrpkw says:
November 5, 2010 at 6:00 am
“The role of clouds is enigmatic because clouds can exert opposing forces: Some types of clouds help cool the Earth and some types of clouds help warm it”
Well that certainly clears up the certain uncertainties!!!
What we don’t know is amazing !!
==========================
Indeed. I am endlessly amazed by the same thing. They don’t know if clouds warm or cool, but the models keep merrily chugging away.
It took decades of intense effort to program chess playing computers that can outplay humans – this for a game whose rules are few, unequivocal, and completely known.
Constructing climate models with current knowledge, and relying on them, is sort of like programming a computer to play chess, when the programmers don’t know how half the pieces move, or can’t even agree whether a rook is worth more or less than a pawn – and then using the program to predict the outcome of a game or evaluate the consequences of a particular move. CO2-based climate science seems to me like the legitimate heir of ancient astrology.

vboring

The two things I don’t get about clouds:
1) How can we have more water vapor and fewer clouds?
2) If clouds are such a big deal for the climate, why don’t we address them through irrigation and forest management policy rather than CO2 controls?

Crispin in Waterloo

Mike Jonas says:
November 5, 2010 at 5:10 am
Oh dear. Didn’t they read the IPCC report? “the GCMs all predict
a positive cloud feedback” (AR4 8.6.2.3 page 633).
++++++++++++
Mike they predict positive feedbacks because they were programmed to give positive feedbacks. IPCC reports reflect prior thinking. Priore to 2007 it was thought that the net effect was positive. Prior to that, IPCC reports say nearly nothing about clouds, in fact about water at all, some of them. I recall one explanation offered for the absence of H2O in the modelling was, “We can’t do anything about it anyway. We can do something about CO2.” Huh.
It is important to separate models from the real world. GIGO. Of course a model that is programmed to give positive feedback for all clouds gives positive feedbacks for all clouds. There is little point citing such model outputs as evidence for all clouds having positive feedbacks. Such a citation is itself a positive feedback. As Dyson says, people have started believing their models. They literally believe that reality works the way their model works.
Shoghi Effendi described a chart is “an inaccurate representation of a partially understood truth”. A model is a chart on steroids.

hunter

The ocean of air we live at the bottom of is filled with moisture, and the interchange between clouds of water, clouds of ice, haze and humidity and has apparently been nearly ignored by our AGW promotion industry. How strange.

Just a bit off topic, but GCMs predict increase of tropospheric humidity as a side effect of intensified greenhouse warming. There is just one detail, that in reality, the humidity does not increase, but rather decrease or remains constant.
Relative humidity
http://climate4you.com/images/NOAA%20ESRL%20AtmospericRelativeHumidity%20GlobalMonthlyTempSince1948%20With37monthRunningAverage.gif
Absolute humidity
http://climate4you.com/images/NOAA%20ESRL%20AtmospericSpecificHumidity%20GlobalMonthlyTempSince1948%20With37monthRunningAverage.gif
All those 3-7 deg C@2100 projections are based on 1) attributing the “greenhouse effect” predominant role in warming, and 3) predicting those curves going up.

Gary Pearse

This type of amazing discovery has been discussed on WUWT for the several years that I’ve been coming here. I believe I know what is going oTn. The “concensus” is making these late discoveries, taking credit for them and gradually dovetailing into the arguments that sceptics of CAGW have been making since the beginning. And now a word about the cloud feedback issue to settle this nonsense:
The net effect of clouds – all kinds- is to reduce the warming effect of the sun through albedo. Check it out – on a hot day, when a cloud passes over, you can feel a significant cooling. Let us semi-quantify the effect instead of vaguely talking about IR going back up and being partly reflected back down. If the cloud reflects, say 50% of the sun’s rays coming in, then the sun’s IR reaching the earth’s surface is reduced. Now some of this reduced IR bounces back up to the base of the cloud where a fair percentage (I said semi-quant!) passes through and a fraction of the initial sun’s IR is reflected back which is partly re-reflected and part of it goes through the cloud again…. If you lost half of the incoming IR, these bits bouncing around are not going to make an increased IR heating under the cloud.
Now if I am wrong about this, I would like a semiquant explanation of the phenomenon instead of …sometimes up and sometimes down.

Richard Graves

Dave Springer and paulhan make a lot of sense.
I think most people have observed that low clouds in daylight hours reduce the temperature and keep it warmer at night. Both by highly measurable amounts. Why, since clouds have such a greater effect on temperature then CO2, have not the wonderful supercomputers many Climate Scientists have at their disposal been put to work to try to determine whether the net effect is positive or negative. Lots of variables involved of course but what are supercomputers for? Maybe this has been studied closely and if so I’d appreciate being pointed in the right direction but all I’ve seen is generalizations without facts and figures.

Stephen Wilde

“How can we have more water vapor and fewer clouds?”
When the jet streams shift poleward as they do when the troposphere warms the jet streams and their cloud bands extend around a reduced global circumference as they move towards the poles. Thus a shorter length for the air mass boundaries, less air mass mixing and less clouds generated.
So a warmer troposphere but less clouds and lower albedo exactly as per observations
http://bbso.njit.edu/Research/EarthShine/literature/Palle_etal_2006_EOS.pdf
Now in reverse as it happens 🙂

Brian M. Flynn

James Sexton says:
November 5, 2010 at 7:15 am
“Hey, wasn’t that J. Mitchell?”
You are correct sir about the lyrics! From wikipedia: “”Both Sides, Now” is a single by Joni Mitchell. … Judy Collins made the first commercially released recording of the song in 1968, shortly after Mitchell wrote it, which reached #8 on the U.S. pop singles charts and won a 1968 Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance.” Provenance remains important!
“Thanks for the memories”.

Mike

The uncertainty caused by clouds is already factored into the IPCC estimates of of probable range of temperature raise.
From http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/clouds/question.jsp
CLOUD CLOUT AND DOUBT
The IPCC reported in 2007 that it projects the Earth’s average temperature to be about 1.8 to 4 degrees Celsius higher by the end of the century than it was in 1900–a rapid rate of increase compared to observed rates of increase in the Earth’s recent history. Scientists could probably narrow down the Earth’s projected temperature range further if they better understood the relationships between clouds and climate as well as other factors, such as the amount of greenhouse gases that will be pumped into the atmosphere by 2100.
Most scientists doubt that the net cooling effect of clouds will ever be large enough to completely offset ongoing warming. But many scientists say that if warming were to increase the number or kind of cooling clouds or decrease the presence of warming clouds, the current net cooling effect of clouds on the Earth’s climate would probably increase, and thereby moderate, or offset, ongoing warming.
If warming were to continue, the net cooling effect of clouds would increase and, in a negative feedback loop, perpetuate the moderating force on ongoing warming provided by clouds. The result: The Earth’s end-of-the-century temperature may be pulled down toward the lower end of its predicted range.
But, if on the other hand, warming were to increase the number or kind of warming clouds or decrease the presence of cooling clouds, scientists say the current net cooling effect of clouds on the Earth’s climate would probably decrease; and an important moderating force on ongoing warming would thereby diminish. The result: The Earth’s end-of-the-century temperature may be pushed up towards the upper end of its predicted range.
This resulting rise in temperature would, in a positive feedback loop, tend to promote the formation of even more warming clouds or further reduce the presence of cooling clouds. Either way, temperatures would rise even higher. This temperature increase would tend to further increase the presence of warming clouds or decrease the presence of cooling clouds, and thereby perpetuate the warming cycle.

Alan S. Blue

I’m still stuck on the question: Why are we relying on models for anything we can reasonably start actually measuring? Experiments trump theory.
A satellite can already gather nice information about where clouds are, and what types of clouds they are, and even what the water content of said cloud is. Pair this with a series of radiation detectors to cover the bulk of the spectrum and measure the darn energy balance. Separate things into near-identical gridcells (read: over ocean) andset up control groups etc.
This patch was at exactly 30.0C and had no clouds, this patch was also at 30.0C and had Cirrus clouds for 17% of the day, go.

Jeremy

DISGUSTING.
They roll out stuff that Atmospheric Physicists have know about for more than thirty years – and announce it like it was some kind of revelation.
I am DISGUSTED by what is clearly just “gravy train science”.
This is like Hollywood or the music industry re-issues of “25th Anniversary Editions” of classic albums of movies!
Academic Science is now purely a BUSINESS. A damned gravy train. If Colorado State were Hollywood or the music industry, legitimately out to make a profit, then this kind of thing woudl be acceptable.
Since when did it become acceptable for our Universities to simply regurgitate well know facts trumped up as something new. Did they “remaster” the orginial text books? Have they enhanced the image quality with new rendering of the details in high definition?
This is most definitely NOT science.
It reminds me of the outright plagarism in the recent tree ring textbook where there was no reference to the original text and graphics.
Of course, the climb down for certain “Climate Scientists” is going to be challenging – now that everyone knows of the completely false representation of “Climate Change” by the media, politicians and gravy train seeking academics! I guess they can hardly admit that the uncertainty about the impact of clouds is as old as the hills and as old as climate science itself!
Now if only all these gravy train seeking liars can divert the Billions in research funding and industry sponsorship of their various departments…..towards the CLOUDS!
CLOUDS is the new BLACK.
DISGUSTING

Jason

Surely volcanoes are the wild card? The role of clouds is not understood but that does not mean it is not consistent.

Jason

A bit OT, but will there be a series of “one year on” articles in the lead up to 17th November?

John Day

@vboring:
> The two things I don’t get about clouds:
> 1) How can we have more water vapor and fewer clouds?
> 2) If clouds are such a big deal for the climate, why don’t we
> address them through irrigation and forest management policy
> rather than CO2 controls?
1) Clouds are formed when air containing water vapor is cooled below a critical temperature called the “dew point”. In the troposphere, where most clouds form, the temperature decreases approx 6C/km as water-laden air rises from the ground (so-called “lapse rate”).
So, when you look up at the bottom of the cloud layer, you’re not looking a boundary which separates “wet air” from “dry” air. Instead, you’re looking at the temperature isocline where the dew point has been reached and, voila!, the cloud appears. The water vapor content of the air immediately below the cloud is the same as in the cloud. It’s just not cold enough to make the cloud visible.
2) We obviously need more legislation to control these pesky clouds!
:-]

RockyRoad

Nuke says:
November 5, 2010 at 6:48 am

So we don’t know how the oceans affect the climate (at least the models don’t include the oceans) and we don’t know how clouds really affect the climate either, whether warming causes more clouds or whether less clouds causes the warming (which is cause and which is effect), but we know what the climate is going to be in 20, 30, 50 or 100 years? Really?

May I make just a few minor adjustments?
…but we know what the climate models are going to say in 20, 30, 50 or 100 years?
We should.

RockyRoad

Alan S. Blue says:
November 5, 2010 at 8:04 am

I’m still stuck on the question: Why are we relying on models for anything we can reasonably start actually measuring? Experiments trump theory.

True, but computers are just so stinkin’ addictive!

Francisco

Jason says:
November 5, 2010 at 8:21 am
Surely volcanoes are the wild card?
======================
I sometimes wonder if the deck of cards used in the climate game contains anything other than Jokers.

Sean Peake

This announcement seems more like the “beep-beep-beep” of the NSF slowly backing away from its AGW stance and likely shifting to another position. Biodiversity, anyone?

Clouds: Zillions of tons of WATER floating against the HOLY LAW OF GRAVITATION and we don’t even surprise ourselves!, why do they float over? why do they defy gravity and why do they, after loosing its charges fall down as RAIN, HAIL OR SNOW and we do not know why?. Have we been condemned to not knowing or rather to belief in the abstruse explanation rendered by the voodoo science’s Shamans?
http://www.scribd.com/doc/40514613/Unified-Field-Explained-8

John Day

@Springer:
> Cloud top albedo is on the order of 80%. That means it reflects 80% of the
> light from the sun straight back out into space. That’s closer to 500 watts
> per square meter than it is to 5 watts.
Excellent comments, Dave Springer! But a minor quibble: since the TSI averages around 1366w/m2 shouldn’t that be 1366 x .80 = 1092.8 watts. (Or perhaps you factored in 45% cloud cover into the equation to get the 500 watts?)

CRS, Dr.P.H.

I’ve engaged the Real Climate folks about this in the past, & Gavin managed to scrub all of my posts! Coward. No tolerance for honest scientific discussion.
It appears that the impacts of cloud formation on climate are very much unknown (i.e. “there is no consensus”). Even measuring “cloud cover” is daunting with today’s instruments!
This presentation by Dr. Joel Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography is excellent, it is highly detailed in terms of the physics & math (he presented this colloquium to a stadium full of Fermilab PhD physicists, including Nobel-laureate Leon Lederman).
Dr. Norris discusses height of clouds, albedo, positive vs. negative forcing etc.
Please watch, and download his powerpoint slides.
http://vmsstreamer1.fnal.gov/VMS_Site_03/Lectures/Colloquium/100512Norris/index.htm