Hot off the press: Dessler's record turnaround time GRL rebuttal paper to Spencer and Braswell

UPDATE: Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. has a comment on the paper here: Comments On The Dessler 2011 GRL Paper “Cloud Variations And The Earth’s Energy Budget also, physicist Lubos Motl has an analysis here. The press release from TAMU/Dessler has been pushed to media outlets on Eurekalert, see update below.

UPDATE2: Dessler has made a video on the paper see it here And Steve McIntyre has his take on it with The stone in Trenberth’s shoe

I’ve been given an advance copy, for which I’ve posted excerpts below. This paper appears to have been made ready in record time, with a turnaround from submission to acceptance and publication of about six weeks based on the July 26th publication date of the original Spencer and Braswell paper. We should all be so lucky to have expedited peer review service. PeerEx maybe, something like FedEx? Compare that to the two years it took to get Lindzen and Choi out the door. Or how about the WUWT story: Science has been sitting on his [Spencer’s] critique of Dessler’s paper for months”.

If anyone needs a clear, concise, and irrefutable example of how peer review in climate science is biased for the consensus and against skeptics, this is it.

I’m sure some thorough examination will determine if the maxim “haste makes waste” applies here for Dessler’s turbo treatise.

Cloud variations and the Earth’s energy budget

A.E. Dessler

Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences

Texas A&M University

College Station, TX

Abstract: The question of whether clouds are the cause of surface temperature changes, rather than acting as a feedback in response to those temperature changes, is explored using data obtained between 2000 and 2010. An energy budget calculation shows that the energy trapped by clouds accounts for little of the observed climate variations. And observations of the lagged response of top-of-atmosphere (TOA) energy fluxes to surface temperature variations are not evidence that clouds are causing climate change.

Introduction

The usual way to think about clouds in the climate system is that they are a feedback — as the climate warms, clouds change in response and either amplify (positive cloud feedback) or ameliorate (negative cloud feedback) the initial change [e.g., Stephens, 2005]. In recent papers, Lindzen and Choi [2011, hereafter LC11] and Spencer and Braswell [2011, hereafter SB11] have argued that reality is reversed: clouds are the cause of, and not a feedback on, changes in surface temperature. If this claim is correct, then significant revisions to climate science may be required.

Conclusions

These calculations show that clouds did not cause significant climate change over the last decade (over the decades or centuries relevant for long-term climate change, on the other hand, clouds can indeed cause significant warming). Rather, the evolution of the surface and atmosphere during ENSO variations are dominated by oceanic heat transport. This means in turn that regressions of TOA fluxes vs. ΔTs can be used to accurately estimate climate sensitivity or the magnitude of climate feedbacks. In addition, observations presented by LC11 and SB11 are not in fundamental disagreement with mainstream climate models, nor do they provide evidence that clouds are causing climate change. Suggestions that significant revisions to mainstream climate science are required are therefore not supported.

Acknowledgments: This work was supported by NSF grant AGS-1012665 to Texas A&M University. I thank A. Evan, J. Fasullo, D. Murphy, K. Trenberth, M. Zelinka, and A.J. Dessler for useful comments.

Dessler, A. E. (2011),

Cloud variations and the Earth’s energy budget, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2011GL049236, in press. [Abstract] [PDF paywalled] (accepted 29 August 2011)

Dessler has a pre-print version of the paper on his server here

h/t to Marc Hendrickx

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

UPDATE: Here is the press release from Texas A&M via Eurekalert:

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M prof says study shows that clouds don’t cause climate change

COLLEGE STATION, Sept. 6, 2011 — Clouds only amplify climate change, says a Texas A&M University professor in a study that rebuts recent claims that clouds are actually the root cause of climate change.

Andrew Dessler, a Texas A&M atmospheric sciences professor considered one of the nation’s experts on climate variations, says decades of data support the mainstream and long-held view that clouds are primarily acting as a so-called “feedback” that amplifies warming from human activity. His work is published today in the American Geophysical Union’s peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Dessler studied El Niño and La Niña cycles over the past 10 years and calculated the Earth’s “energy budget” over this time. El Nino and La Nina are cyclical events, roughly every five years, when waters in the central Pacific Ocean tend to get warmer or colder. These changes have a huge impact on much of the world’s weather systems for months or even years.

Dessler found that clouds played a very small role in initiating these climate variations — in agreement, he says, with mainstream climate science and in direct opposition to some previous claims.

“The bottom line is that clouds have not replaced humans as the cause of the recent warming the Earth is experiencing,” Dessler says.

Texas is currently in one of the worst droughts in the state’s history, and most scientists believe it is a direct result of La Niña conditions that have lingered in the Pacific Ocean for many months.

Dessler adds, “Over a century, however, clouds can indeed play an important role amplifying climate change.”

“I hope my analysis puts an end to this claim that clouds are causing climate change,” he adds.

###

For more information about Dessler’s research, go to http://goo.gl/zFJmt

About Research at Texas A&M University:

As one of the world’s leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents an annual investment of more than $630 million, which ranks third nationally for universities without a medical school, and underwrites approximately 3,500 sponsored projects. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world.

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Richard Lawson
September 6, 2011 12:23 am

Warm biased climate scientists are the only people in the world who know all the unknown unknowns! So they tell us.

Lew Skannen
September 6, 2011 12:26 am

“Suggestions that significant revisions to mainstream climate science are required are therefore not supported.”
I suspect that this was actully the starting point of the paper and everything else was build around it.

geronimo
September 6, 2011 12:28 am

It`s simply a trick to ensure SB11 doesn`t make it into AR5 for consideration.

Dave Wendt
September 6, 2011 12:31 am

” Spencer and Braswell [2011, hereafter SB11] have argued that reality is reversed: clouds are the cause of, and not a feedback on, changes in surface temperature. If this claim is correct, then significant revisions to climate science may be required.”
30 sec passing scan. I believe S&B suggest the cloud feedback is bidirectional.

Sean Houlihane
September 6, 2011 12:31 am

How about we examine the paper rather than the process? It may not say much, but I don’t think SB11 did either. I think this is still an area for further investigation though.

September 6, 2011 12:40 am

Question …where did Lindzen, Choi, Spencer and Braswell write that “significant revisions to mainstream climate science are required”?

Alberto
September 6, 2011 12:42 am

Dave Wendt: “I believe S&B suggest the cloud feedback is bidirectional.”
Exactly. So this paper by Dessler doesn’t properly address the points that S&B made.

jason
September 6, 2011 12:49 am

Crikey, I’m an idiot an even I understood their paper suggest cloud feedback is bidirectional. Wonder if the MSM such as Richard Black will notice it when they write their balanced pieces…..

stevo
September 6, 2011 12:55 am

“If anyone needs a clear, concise, and irrefutable example of how peer review in climate science is biased for the consensus and against skeptics, this is it.”
The system is biased against bad science. So-called “skeptics” produce a lot of bad science, and it’s a good thing that they have difficulty publishing it.

220mph
September 6, 2011 12:56 am

Hmmm … thats funny … I don’t see any refererence to the EXISTING work on clouds as a forcing shown in the recently released CERN CLOUD study …
http://press.web.cern.ch/press/PressReleases/Releases2011/PR15.11E.html
Wasn’t that the major complaint with Spencer and Braswell – that they did not address the existing science on the issue?
Even Gavin Schmidt speaks positively (at least to the extent that’s possible for his group) about the CERN CLOUD study’s findings … this study would seem to be directly relevant to the S&B paper yet Dessler seemingly ignores it

September 6, 2011 1:00 am

JGR is normally fast. They gives the stats in this editorial:
“Publication is indeed rapid. For the past 3 years we have maintained an effi cient review process, with a median time to first decision of 36 days and, for 50% of accepted papers, an average time from submission to publication of 13.5 weeks.”

jono
September 6, 2011 1:00 am

Mr D is right you know, as it clearly states…
“These calculations show that clouds did not cause significant climate change over the last decade”
Is it not rather difficult to show how anything can change a system if the system as measured (climate change) has not changed over the last decade.
or to put it into easyspeak .. all that heat energy I put into my house last year can now be clearly seen not to affect my house, as it has not warmed up over the year. proof !!!

Jimmy Haigh
September 6, 2011 1:05 am

‘Clouds cause climate change.’
‘They do not!’
‘Oh yes they do!”
“Oh no they dont…..”

Roy
September 6, 2011 1:07 am

Even if the turnaround time for the paper is a record it is still obviously far too long. If it could have been published before Spencer and Braswell’s paper then there would have been absolutely no need for anyone to take any notice of their sceptical arguments, would there?
The peer review process needs to be redefined so that in cases where it is not possible for the referees to reject sceptical papers the rebuttal comes out first!

Alpha Tango
September 6, 2011 1:08 am

Good grief.
Indecent haste indeed, and does appear to be flawed. I think the team will live to regret this.

Peter Miller
September 6, 2011 1:08 am

The part I liked was:
“These calculations show that clouds did not cause significant climate change over the last decade (over the decades or centuries relevant for long term climate change, on the other hand clouds can cause significant warming)”.
I suppose this sort of logic sums up alarmist ‘science’ – something like: “The factual evidence for man made global warming cannot be found, but as the models show that climate change is caused by man, it means the science is settled.”
Climate change is the norm, it is simply not possible to fix climate – which is why goofy politicians have created Ministers for Climate Change in an attempt to regulate something, which simply cannot be regulated.

Editor
September 6, 2011 1:08 am

THe paper says;
“These calculations show that clouds did not cause significant climate change over the last decade (over the decades or centuries relevant for long-term climate change, on the other hand, clouds can indeed cause significant warming)”
A decade is a very short period and difficult to measure, especially when the temperature was mostly flatlining. But surely the author is saying that over a longer period clouds can have an effect? I will see what else is in the pdf before commenting further so jst an initial response to the abstract.
tonyb .

September 6, 2011 1:09 am

Entirely from physical experience of the world around me. It’s very simplistic and empirical, but I believe it’s relevant to these papers being discussed, so here goes…
It’s the morning, the skies are clear of cloud. Temperatures are cool to begin with, but it’s humid. Later on, some cumulus cloud begins to form. A pleasant sight….
It’s now late afternoon. It’s hot and it’s muggy. The initially small cumulus clouds have been growing bigger and taller. Central pillars inside the cumulus cloud are now shooting up – actually visibly, if you keep your eye on one of the pillars – it’s a majestic sight as you realise this upwards movement of the growing towers represents immense energies being expended in order for this to happen.
Where I am standing, the sun is blazing down on me and I feel very hot, but, one of the cumulus clouds has moved in front of the sun and I am now in shadow. I instantly feel that the heat from the sun has decreased by a large order of magnitude.
A little while later, the cumulus clouds have reached some kind of pinnacle, some certain boundary high up in the atmosphere. At this height, they begin to spread out, like the top of some gigantic fountain, only this water isn’t falling (yet) – it’s forming an anvil-shaped head at the top of the cloud. The cumulo-nimbus is born.
Shortly after that, I hear the first rumblings of thunder. Those little cumulus clouds have grown into monstrous thunderclouds and the storms begin.
There is gusty wind, heavy rain, even hail. There is numerous lightning and clamorous thunder with that. There is high drama all around me as I observe the weather.
A while later and the storms begin to wane, and eventually die out. It is much, much cooler! I’m going to get a decent sleep tonight after all.
And so now to the point;
The above is a very short and basic description of the birth and death of a thundery day. It describes the phenomenon below, namely;
1) The sun obviously heats up the ground and anything the sunlight hits – roofs of houses, etc.
2) If a cloud gets in between the sun and the ground, the ground – or a person standing on the ground – stops heating up because they’re in the cloud’s shadow – this to me means a negative forcing – i.e. sunlight is being prevented from hitting me or the ground by the cloud – the cloud is reflecting the energy of the sun that would have heated me/ground up. The cloud is not being heated up by the energy from the sun, seeing as cloud is not a solid object. At the very most, only the top “layer” (e.g. perhaps the water molecules forming the cloud down to a certain depth from the top of the cloud are absorbing any energy from the sun.)
3) Finally, the thunderstorm is transporting energy from the ground, upwards, to high altitudes, and cooler air is being transported down towards the ground. This, to me, also represents a negative feedback.
Now, how is it that this paper (and others) can claim that clouds can only produce a positive feedback, when from imperial, physical evidence and observation, I can deduce that clouds appear to produce more negative feedback than they do positive?

Editor
September 6, 2011 1:11 am

Silly me. I had thought the pdf link would lead to more information but it seems to be a paywall. Its very difficult to comment any further on such a brief abstract.
tonyb

Michael in Sydney
September 6, 2011 1:11 am

Stevo says
“So-called “skeptics” produce a lot of bad science, and it’s a good thing that they have difficulty publishing it.”
Stevo, why are they “So called”? What does that statement mean?
Kind Regards
Michael

September 6, 2011 1:12 am

Accepted aug 29.
GRL says that the median time to a first response after submission is 36 days
GRL says they can turn a review in as quick as 14 days
GRL says the average paper takes 13.5 week from submission to publication.
July 26th to august 29.
heck this paper got written, submitted, reviewed and accepted faster than 50% of papers
wait to get their first response.

Jean Parisot
September 6, 2011 1:12 am

So, is this a defense soley against Spencer or does represent an opening against CERNs work as well? It is beginning to sound like the gambit has changed from: “the Sun doesn’t matter”, to add ” and neither do clouds”.

ldlas
September 6, 2011 1:13 am

What a pile of…….

Dave Springer
September 6, 2011 1:15 am

With an as yet undetermined appendage Dessler writes:
“These calculations show that clouds did not cause significant climate change over the last decade”
I wasn’t aware there was any significant climate change due to any cause during that period of time. Global average temperature hasn’t significantly changed in the past 10 years.
Seems like a rather glaring flaw. Am I missing something?

Henry Galt
September 6, 2011 1:18 am

There has not been “significant climate change over the last decade”.
I fail to see the point, or the point of reading further????

Ryan
September 6, 2011 1:19 am

“peer review in climate science is biased for the consensus”
Is it really biased towards a consensus?
Consensus: An opinion or position reached by a group as a whole
Is that really what has happened here? From what I can see we have a dozen, or maybe half a dozen scientists with a shared agenda that are spreading what amounts to unchallenged propaganda in certain scientific publications. As a result, hundreds of other scientists have not “reached a position” but rather had a position thrust upon them as a fait accompli.

Espen
September 6, 2011 1:21 am

stevo says:
The system is biased against bad science.
That’s how the system is supposed to work. But in Climate Science, bad science has made it into the mainstream.

charles nelson
September 6, 2011 1:22 am

Let’s have a picnic.
That’s a good idea, it’s a nice cloudy day…that won’t affect the temperature.
Clowns!

liontooth
September 6, 2011 1:27 am

“In recent papers, Lindzen and Choi [2011, hereafter LC11] and Spencer and Braswell [2011, hereafter SB11] have argued that reality is reversed: clouds are the cause of, and not a feedback on, changes in surface temperature.”
Are there statements in the 2 papers that directly refute this conclusion?

Jean Parisot
September 6, 2011 1:30 am

Is Dressler suggesting that a significant component of climate, clouds, have effects that cannot be measured on a decade scale? If so, then how are those water vapor tipping point feedbacks going to work – are the AGW models artifically compressed?

tallbloke
September 6, 2011 1:34 am

“Abstract: The question of whether clouds are the cause of surface temperature changes, rather than acting as a feedback in response to those temperature changes, is explored… ”
Bzzzzzzt Logical fallacy of the excluded middle. these are not the only two possibilities. Spencer is saying its a mixture of the two which confounds the quantification of cloud feedback.

John Marshall
September 6, 2011 1:36 am

It doesn’t matter what calculations are done if the wrong formula is used then the wrong answer follows.
We all know from experience that when cloud covers the sun it gets cooler so a negative feedback is almost certain.

Mike Bromley the Kurd
September 6, 2011 1:39 am

Dave Springer says:
September 6, 2011 at 1:15 am
Seems like a rather glaring flaw. Am I missing something?
No, you are not missing something. Haste makes waste. In this case, taxpayer money, I believe.

Atomic Hairdryer
September 6, 2011 1:39 am

Re Dave Springer

Seems like a rather glaring flaw. Am I missing something?

Possibly Santer et al’s backstop paper just published in JGR:
http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/pip/2011JD016263.shtml
Trends >17 yrs are required for identifying human effects on tropospheric temp.
So the last decade’s lack of warming simply isn’t sufficient to demonstrate any influence, and the modellers need 7 more years of funding before the lean years start.

Leo Norekens
September 6, 2011 1:40 am

What I note from the conclusion is that “over the decades or centuries relevant for long-term climate change (…) clouds can indeed cause significant warming”, and that -as for the past decade- “the evolution of the surface and atmosphere during ENSO variations [are] (sic) dominated by oceanic heat transport”.
Meaning: yes, clouds cause warming, but not during the last decade because El Nino/La Nina was so dominant.
So what about carbon and other geenhouse gases?

tallbloke
September 6, 2011 1:40 am

” Rather, the evolution of the surface and atmosphere during ENSO variations are dominated by oceanic heat transport.”
And presumably, the heat that the oceans are transporting is primarily derived from the solar shortwave that got past the clouds….
Ah.

Dave Springer
September 6, 2011 1:42 am

Trenberth et al are asserting that clouds don’t drive temperature changes but rather temperature changes drive clouds and non-condensing greenhouse gases drive temperature changes. Lindzen, Spencer, and many others assert that the Trenberth et al (a.k.a. the hockey stick team) cannot empirically establish that uni-directional relationship from gas to temperature to cloud. Trenberth et al assert that clouds are sources of feedback only and have no effect as primary drivers of temperature change. Lindzen, Spencer, et al assert that cloud respond to more than simple temperature changes and are also governed by things like global ocean circulation, wind patterns, GCR, aerosols from volcanic emissions, and lots of other things aside from non-condensing greenhouse gases. Lindzen, Spencer, et al are certainly correct in that clouds are governed by a lot more than just surface temperature change and they can certainly cause huge surface temperature change as everyone knows who’s ever been outside on a hot sunny day when a big cloud passes overhead. Clouds generally cover about 60-70% of the earth’s surface at any one point in time and radically change the planet’s albedo. A 1% decrease in global cloud cover reduces insolation at the surface by more than all anthropogenic forcings can raise it. Global average cloud cover isn’t known to better than 5% range and interannual variability or trends in interannual variability is largely unknown as albedo measurements are difficult and different methods of measuring it are not in satisfactory agreement. Ergo there’s no certain fixed figure for albedo that can be plugged into climate models so it’s basically used as fudge factor. If a particular model isn’t performing well albedo figure is something that can be tweaked to make it better match the temperature data.
Albedo modeling is so poor in climate models it would be funny if the naive and gullible didn’t put so much faith in computer models regardless of the uncertainties and ad hoc tweaking of poorly known parameters critical to model performance.

Dave Springer
September 6, 2011 1:44 am

correction to my previous:
“A 1% decrease increase in global cloud cover reduces insolation at the surface by more than all anthropogenic forcings can raise it.”

Dave Wendt
September 6, 2011 1:45 am

“Conclusions
These calculations show that clouds did not cause significant climate change over the last decade (over the decades or centuries relevant for long-term climate change, on the other hand, clouds can indeed cause significant warming). Rather, the evolution of the surface and atmosphere during ENSO variations are dominated by oceanic heat transport. This means in turn that regressions of TOA fluxes vs. ΔTs can be used to accurately estimate climate sensitivity or the magnitude of climate feedbacks.
How exactly do clouds generate “significant warming” in the long term if they have no effect in the short term? And if they cause significant warming in the long term how can ignoring them in the decade scale yield accurate estimates of climate sensitivity?
Just a day or so ago they were pimping “Sluggo” Santer’s latest effort of which the following is still all that seems to be publicly available.
“Key Points
Models run with human forcing can produce 10-year periods with little warming
S/N ratios for tropospheric temp. are ~1 for 10-yr trends, ~4 for 32-yr trends
Trends >17 yrs are required for identifying human effects on tropospheric temp.”
It’s hard to know what he actually has to say, but it seems antagonistic to using short scale data in this regard.

tallbloke
September 6, 2011 1:47 am

I will be interested to see the full paper, but based on the abstract and conclusions alone, we can see this paper is not addressing the complexity of bi-directional feedback between albedo and ocean.
It simply fails to address Spencer and Braswell’s core argument.
” observations presented by LC11 and SB11 are not in fundamental disagreement with mainstream climate models, nor do they provide evidence that clouds are causing climate change.”
They are in enough disagreement to show that there is bi-directional feedback. The logical upshot of this is that clouds are forcing climate part of the time. Providing (empirical) evidence they are causing climate change is exactly as difficult as providing evidence that they are not.
Which was one of Spencer’s main points – uncertainty.

220mph
September 6, 2011 1:48 am

This work of Spencer & Braswell:
On the diagnosis of radiative feedback in the presence of unknown radiative forcing
http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/Spencer-Braswell-JGR-2010.pdf
… seems to be largely on the same topic and very detailed. It was not Spencer and Braswell’s first paper on the subject either:
Spencer, R. W., and W. D. Braswell (2008), Potential biases in cloud feedback diagnosis: A simple model demonstration, J. Clim., 21, 5624–5628.
Spencer, R. W., W. D. Braswell, J. R. Christy, and J. Hnilo (2007), Cloud and radiation budget changes associated with tropical intraseasonal oscillations, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L15707, doi:10.1029/2007GL029698.

I would be interested in Trenberth etals response to these papers – and how they tie with S&B 2011??

David Schofield
September 6, 2011 1:50 am

I know I’m really stupid – but if clouds can amplify or ameliorate climate – then if something else causes clouds to change then that something else is a cause of climate change? Or is it only man made CO2 that alters clouds? They can’t not matter and matter at the same time.

September 6, 2011 1:50 am

The journal page for the paper – containing abstract for free – is here:
http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/pip/2011GL049236.shtml
The speed is really amazing.

David Schofield
September 6, 2011 1:53 am

Nick Stokes says:
September 6, 2011 at 1:00 am
JGR is normally fast. They gives the stats in this editorial:
“Publication is indeed rapid. For the past 3 years we have maintained an effi cient review process, with a median time to first decision of 36 days….”
How about adding in the time he took to read and digest Spencer’s paper, prepare and write his own, getting it proofed etc. Admit it – it was obscenely fast.

220mph
September 6, 2011 1:57 am

tallbloke says:
September 6, 2011 at 1:34 am
“Abstract: The question of whether clouds are the cause of surface temperature changes, rather than acting as a feedback in response to those temperature changes, is explored… ”
Bzzzzzzt Logical fallacy, these are not the only two possibilities. Spencer is saying its a mixture of the two which confounds diagnosis of feedback amplitude.

Add to that the CERN CLOUD work which shows cosmic rays cause an increase in cloud producing droplets … which would make the clouds created as a result yet another CLOUD FORCING – not a feedback.

Paul Deacon
September 6, 2011 2:05 am

Behind a paywall… Hahahahahaha!
Ah, the unbearable transparency of climate science!

Keitho
Editor
September 6, 2011 2:09 am

So . . .
It’s not the sun that I can see and feel when it shines on me.
It’s not the clouds that I can see and feel when they block the sun or rain on me.
It’s CO2 that I can’t see or feel . . .
OK, I get it.

Magnus Olert
September 6, 2011 2:13 am

It’s hard to judge a paper based just on the sections Abstact, Introduction and Conclusions. However, there seem to be serious errors in those sections:
1) “…and Spencer and Braswell [2011, hereafter SB11] have argued that reality is reversed: clouds are the cause of, and not a feedback on, changes in surface temperature.” This is not correct, SB11 argues that it goes both ways.
2) “These calculations show that clouds did not cause significant climate change over the last decade ” As far as I understand SB11 it does not argue that clouds has caused a significant climate change over the last decade. It does just say that clouds does affect temperature and that this effect will contaminate your analysis of the cloud feedback if not accounted for.

richard verney
September 6, 2011 2:16 am

It is difficult to comment upon the paper until this is reviewed in full. Since it is behind a pay wall, I have not seen it. There is no need to comment further on (i) the thoroughness of the examination of the issue in hand (clouds are they cause or feedback) nor (2) the process of peer review, since the time that it has taken to get this paper in print says all.
Clouds are clearly one of the key battle grounds that will determine the correct outcome of the debate on man made GW. Clouds are incredibly complex since many factors determine what effect they will have on temperature during the course of the day, viz to name but a few of the many variables: the latitude of where a cloud(s) may develop, the albedo surface below the cloud, the nature of the surface below the cloud and its heat capacity, the time of day when cloud(s) develop and time of duration of cloud cover, the area of cloud cover, the volume of cloud cover, the composition of the cloud. Cloud formation is chaotic and random, although there may be a number of identifiably underlying causal components (including possibly cosmic rays or changes in Earth’s magnetic field or changes in particuate aerosols), which lead to cloud formation. It is probable that not all underlying factors are known, still less how they operate and interlink with other factors that are in play in cloud formation.
Like so much in this debate, the data is lacking. We do not possess sufficientl high scale resolution of all the variabilities associated with clouds on a daily basis going back 40 years, still less 150 years. It is therefore not possible to even attempt a correlation between cloud cover and temperatures since say the 1880s. In fact, I doubt we have a data set with the necessary high scale resolution of ALL the variables involved to even evaluate the last decade!
Given this variability and complexity, it is no surprise that models do not model clouds well. I understand that both sides accept that the models do not model clouds as well as they could. Many would say the modelling is poor. Given this, it is no surprise that model projecdtions/predictions on temperature from year to year does not correlate well with empirical observation.
Clouds and the role they play in driving temperatures is certainly one of the most important areas of study and of empirical data gathering. A better knowledge and understanding of clouds is essential.
I have these past 20 years considered that natural variability in clouds could and probably does explain any real temperature increase that has taken place the past century. It will be interesting to see how examination of this issue pans out and the insights that it will reveal.

Viv Evans
September 6, 2011 2:16 am

Not having seen the calculations on which Dessler et al base their conclusions, I was nevertheless amazed when I read this statement:
“These calculations show that clouds did not cause significant climate change over the last decade (over the decades or centuries relevant for long-term climate change, on the other hand, clouds can indeed cause significant warming).”
Part one of the above states that ‘clouds did not cause significant climate change over the last decade’ – so are climate scientists now using decades to determine climate change, rather than spans of 30 years, or 17, as Santer et al propose here http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/pip/2011JD016263.shtml
Part two of the above quote tells us that clouds do have an effect, however, over decades and centuries ‘relevant’ for long-term climate change, where they can cause ‘significant’ warming.
Are there any data about clouds going back decades or even centuries? If so – how were they obtained?
Where are the data to show that clouds, over ‘relevant’ centuries, cause ‘significant’ warming?
What about clouds causing significant cooling, over ‘relevant’ centuries?
Finally, can someone explain to me how something (e.g. clouds) can have no influence on climate change when looked at over a decade – but can have significant influence on warming when looked at over a span of decades, even centuries, regardless of having data on clouds fore.g. centuries?
Basically, aren’t Dessler et al saying that clouds have an influence on warming, over a ‘relevant’ century, because it has been warming during that century?

Alex the skeptic
September 6, 2011 2:17 am

sarc on/Since we do not know what causes climate to change, then it must be CO2 because that is the only thing that has changed during modern times. Anyone trying to find climate forcings other than CO2 must be liquidated. /sarc off

September 6, 2011 2:18 am

A paper this important to AR5 has no right being behind a paywall. I hope it comes out from behind the paywall. Otherwise it will likely be Wahl and Amman and the hidden corruption of the IPCC process to exclude legitimate challenge (Jones’ famous email requesting Mann to advise Wahl to delete) all over again.

Joseph
September 6, 2011 2:18 am

Facts, data, logic, and clear thinking are on the side of SB11. I don’t think that matters much since climate science is much more religion than anything else.
We look to models (oracles?) to tell us the shape of climate a century from now and we can not even predict a small storm four days out. Religion. We spend billions each year on the keepers of the computer models and burn at the stake (metaphorically I hope) anyone who looks at raw data. Religion.
The Catholic Church was much better to science on the whole that government grants and gatekeepers have been.

rbateman
September 6, 2011 2:20 am

“The usual way to think about clouds in the climate system is that they are a feedback ”
Stop right there, hold it, bub.
In whose world, the GCMs or the sky I stand under? I don’t get warmer on a cloudy day that is preceeded by a sunny day, because the Sunlight is bounced back into space on the cloudy day. Where’s the feedback data beef?
And in the real world, globally, there isn’t 100% cloudiness. There are always holes and canopies of cloudiness. So, don’t confuse Venus with Earth.
“If this claim is correct, then significant revisions to climate science may be required.”
By George, I think he’s on to something there. May I suggest substantial to go along with significant?

Dave Springer
September 6, 2011 2:21 am

tallbloke says:
September 6, 2011 at 1:34 am

“Abstract: The question of whether clouds are the cause of surface temperature changes, rather than acting as a feedback in response to those temperature changes, is explored… ”
Bzzzzzzt Logical fallacy of the excluded middle. these are not the only two possibilities. Spencer is saying its a mixture of the two which confounds the quantification of cloud feedback.

Nice catch, tallbloke.
Other names are the false dichotomy and the false dillema.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma
I got a perfect grade in Formal Logic in college with almost no effort. Most of the rest of the class were getting failing grades. Not surprisingly logic is my profession – computer hardware and software design both of which are heavily dependent on complex logic chains which boil down in the fine detail to true or false with no excluded middle. An excluded middle is what analog electronics are all about and I hate analog electronics. Too much fuzziness. I like black and white answers with no gray areas.
Perhaps the devotion to computer climate models is what makes the climate boffins view the real climate as a digital system. The real world climate is analog not digital.

rbateman
September 6, 2011 2:24 am

tallbloke says:
September 6, 2011 at 1:47 am
I am quite certain, and I am sure that you are too, that there does not exist 100% global cloudiness on Earth, unlike Venus. The uncertainlty of how much open sky vs cloudiness is a good question.
How many years of data (reliable) do we have?

matthu
September 6, 2011 2:26 am

If 10 years is too short a period to detect whether climate change is actually happening or not … surely it is likewise too short a period to detect the cause of any such change?

J
September 6, 2011 2:27 am

“Or how about the WUWT story: “Science has been sitting on his [Spencer’s] critique of Dessler’s paper for months”.”
Me thinks that it should be Lindzen’s critique in the brackets?

LazyTeenager
September 6, 2011 2:28 am

220mph says
———
Hmmm … thats funny … I don’t see any refererence to the EXISTING work on clouds as a forcing shown in the recently released CERN CLOUD study …
———
As far as I am aware the CLOUD study was about the formation of potential cloud droplet nucleation centers and has nothing to say about cloud feedback processes. There is a big gap between the 2 issues so the relevancy is not there.

Jim
September 6, 2011 2:31 am

I thought the address of Texas A&M had recently been changed from
College Station, TX to Malfunction Junction, TX.
Sorry, could not resist! Some the international readers might not know
about Aggie jokes.

David Wells
September 6, 2011 2:32 am

I think than banning hotels and guest houses from offering bed and breakfast in their tariff would stop climate change completely. What a load of pointless drivel especially when 92% of the planets population couldnt give a tupenny damn about being green or climate change or global warming and even if they did the most they could achieve by being green is four thousandths of 1 deg c reduction. Clearly there are too many people getting too much cash for participating in this hyperbolic debate and too many deranged individuals who have little else of importance in their lives, whatever is wrong with sex?

September 6, 2011 2:33 am

ps thanks folks for the “welcome backs” on the other thread. I never left, actually. But I’ve always seen the issue of the corruption of Climate Science as a spiritual battle, so I have to go where Great Spirit directs – whether it directs me to engage with the precise language of science, or whether it seems to take me elsewhere. I suspect there are many others with similar attitudes also perusing the pages here – people like Richard Courtney, Chris Monckton, and of course Spencer and Christy.
I’m making strong statements about Thorium to my green and “anti-nuclear” friends. Thanks to the recent articles and comments here.

Daryl M
September 6, 2011 2:39 am

Preconceptions have a nasty habit of reappearing as conclusions.

Shona
September 6, 2011 2:40 am

Have they read the paper? I thought the whole point was it could do both: and in one direction the feedback was quasi instantaneous, and in the other there was a time lag which accounted for a problem in the models. Don’t they want their models to be better?
I write this from under near 100 % cloud cover in Paris (those Impressionist paintings with leaden grey skies? Not artistic licence …); and it’s definitely COOL.

Dave Springer
September 6, 2011 2:41 am

I suspect “the team” is in panic mode right now. Lindzen and Spencer are not lighweights and the team knows they are right. Modeling of clouds has always been the Achilles Heel of climate models and clouds (actually water vapor in general) are what turn a rather welcome 1C temperature rise per CO2 doubling into an alarming 3-5C rise per doubling. Without being able to prove that high level of climate sensitivity and with empirical observation not in satisfactory agreement with it the science behind CAGW is simply too deficient to use as a basis for draconian legislation aimed at reducing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
At this point in time the scientific “consensus” is falling apart, the public smelled the rat when the Climategate emails became public, and the CAGW cause is lost on both fronts. Al Gore has been reduced to a potty-mouth ranting fool. All that remains of it is rapidly declining financial/political inertia.
Climate boffins are ignoring the first rule of holes: when you find you’ve dug yourself into a hole the first thing to do is stop digging.
This whole Wagner resignation episode is just more digging. What’s really amusing is that the CAGW faithful have not only failed to stop digging, they’re digging even faster! Amazing. Amazingly STUPID, that is.

P. Solar
September 6, 2011 2:47 am

>>
Conclusions
These calculations show that clouds did not cause significant climate change over the last decade
>>
Well in that case why do *all* IPCC referenced climate models use positive cloud feedback to predict catastrophic climate change?
Dessler has a bee in his bonnet trying to refute something that Spencer et al never claimed. Spencer Bradwell 2011 simply examines the proportion of radiation that is a forcing to that which is a result of a forcing, without any specific attribution .
What SB2011 does show irrefutably is that the proportion of these two is totally wrong in the climate models.
Dessler , not Spencer and Bradwell , attributes this soley to cloud and then disproves his own claim. This paper has no bearing on the claims of SB2011.
The findings of SB2011 does not require a significant change to climate science , it just means they need to re-evaluate their fiddle factors. That would take about 2 minutes.

anna v
September 6, 2011 2:49 am

From the conclusion:
These calculations show that clouds did not cause significant climate change over the last decade
What happened that we now talk of climate over 10 years? Was not the kosher value 30 years?
My teeth go on edge whenever “forcing” are discussed, whether with articles in climate “science” with whom I will finally agree with or disagree. The term is a misleading invention of the climatologist and helps propagate errors ad infinitum.
Climate is a deterministic chaos system. In such systems, one cannot grab the butterfly in Japan and accuse it of causing a storm in Paris. Direct causal connections are destroyed in such systems. A realistic modelling of climate as a deterministic chaos system would be to enter all the dynamics pertaining to weather and let it develop over a century to get climate.
Once the past is fitted in such a dynamic model ( a la Tsonis et al) then one could take one by one some dynamic equations to determine the extent of the contribution to the total output. In such a study one could speak of the strength of the various inputs.
This is not currently done in the GCM’s . Some favourite “forcings” are grabbed and thrown in and developed and wiggled by hand to fit past data, and then let loose to predict future ones. There are so many parameters that the proverbial elephant would not only move its ears but it could fly and dance.
Sometimes I think that only the onset of the next Little Ice Age will shut up these deluded “scientists”.

Stephen Wilde
September 6, 2011 2:50 am

The truth is that ANYTHING that alters the vertical temperature profile of the atmosphere alters cloud quantities and cloud distribution and so affects the flow of energy into, through and out of the system That ‘anything’ can be solar variations, oceanic variations, GHG quantities and a multitude of other minor internal system processes.
Crucially anything that fails to alter that vertical temperature profile significantly is not going to have a significant effect on clouds either. Hence my doubts about the Svensmark hypothesis.
What I think happens from the top down solar point of view is that for whatever reason the atmosphere expands when the sun is active and contracts when it is inactive.
In the process the temperature of the stratosphere and mesosphere changes oppositely to the sign of the temperature change in thermosphere and troposphere. I know that s not what the ‘science’ currently says but it is what we have seen and the CFC aspect was introduced to specifically deal with those aberrant observations. I suspect that was a mistake.
The effect is to draw the tropopause upward when the sun is active and push it down when the sun is less active. Globally averaged of course.
The size and intensity of the polar vortices is a relevant factor and the outcome is latitudinal shifting of all the components of the surface air pressure distribution which changes the sizes and positions of the climate zones.
That changes the energy budget via the speed of the water cycle.
So an active sun tries to COOL the system by changing the structure of the atmosphere to let energy OUT of the system FASTER via the higher tropopause but in the process clouds are drawn poleward to let more energy into the oceans which offsets the faster loss to space.
The opposite when the sun is less active.
So the cloud changes provide a negative response to the solar effect on the structure of the atmosphere.
However the system response to bottom up changes from the oceans or GHGs is different. There the initial system response is positive. Faster energy release from the oceans or more energy in the air from more GHGs pushes the clouds poleward to allow even more energy into the oceans in a positive feedback but in the process the height of the tropopause rises just as it did with a cooler stratosphere and again the rate of energy loss to space accelerates via a faster water cycle which is sufficient to apply a negative response in due course cancelling out the combined effect of more energy from the oceans (or GHGs) AND of more solar energy into the oceans.
Thus whatever changes the vertical temperature profile of the atmosphere will cause cloudiness changes that then exert a negative influence (to effects from above) or positive influence (to effects from below) and what we then experience is shifting climate zones as the height of the tropopause rises and the speed of energy flow through the system varies to cancel the forcing agent.
It is a neat solution to the problem but relies on a cooling stratosphere at a time of active sun as a natural phenomenon.
It is the vertical temperature profile of the atmosphere that is key because that then causes the cloudiness changes AND the rate of energy input to the oceans AND the changes in the rate of energy transfer from surface to space.
I think it will eventually be found that the fulcrum on which the whole thing rests is the height of the stratopause which mediates the effects on the atmospheric temperature profile between competing influences from the sun above and oceans below. Interestingly that is the point above which Joanna Haigh found her unexpected ozone response to the quieter sun.

richard verney
September 6, 2011 2:52 am

Kevin Cave says:
September 6, 2011 at 1:09 am
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Kevin
Your experience is no doubt shared by many. certainly those living in mid lattitudes will during the day in summer notice substantial differences in temperature between open skies and cloud in summer. A couple of days ago in the UK it was bright and sunny with little cloud cover and was 27degC and if you put a thermometer in the sun no doubt it would have read over 40 degC. The next day it was cloudy and only about 18 degC. The difference between sun in open sky htting your skin and sun shielded by clouds will often be 15 degC if not more. At night (other than in deserts) the difference between clear skies in summer and cloudy skies may be only a few degrees.
There are two distinct issues: are clouds (1) cause or are they feedback, AND (2) are they a net positive or a net negative? Once that has been determined, one needs to consider has there been any measurably significant trend change in cloud cover over the period in question.
I do not consider that there is such a thing as average cloudiness (to my list of variables one must add the time of year of cloud formation and the height at which a cloud is formed) and whether a cloud is a negative factor or positive factor will depend upon the combination of many variables. That said, I would be extremely surprised if overall clouds were not a net negatives, ie., overall they cool temperatures more than they raise temperatures..

Dave Wendt
September 6, 2011 2:56 am

When i clicked the PDF link earlier I got through, but i don’t know if will still work
[use the one on Dessler’s site ~ http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/Dessler2011.pdf ~ ctm]

R. de Haan
September 6, 2011 2:58 am
Dave N
September 6, 2011 2:59 am

Jimmy Haigh:
That exchange sounds like Kevin and Gavin.

Mac
September 6, 2011 3:01 am

Proof, if more proof was needed, that climate science is hopelessly corrupt.
Skeptical papers take years to be published. Consensus papers only weeks.
We are not dealing with climate science, we are dealing with climate politics, climate ideology and the climate religion.
This paper by Dessler and the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Wagner can only be described as phyrric victories for the Team.
To paraphrase Plutarch, “If we are victorious in one more battle with the skeptics, we shall be utterly ruined.”

Shona
September 6, 2011 3:03 am

And why is there no-one doing proper experiments on this? We have wind tunnels, why not “atmosphere chambers”, where they could test out some of these ideas? Why oh why will none of these guys get off their butt and engage with the real world?
Someone needs to tell these guys that computer games, however much fun, are not reality.
Sorry rant off 🙂

richard verney
September 6, 2011 3:06 am

Keith Battye says:
September 6, 2011 at 2:09 am
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
You have it in one in a world where radiation dominates. But hold a second, in the real world does radiation dominate?

fredb
September 6, 2011 3:14 am

With regard to the caustic opening comments about publication time, it is worth noting that GRL is a rapid publication journal. I pulled 5 papers off their “popular” tab on the web site and got the following:
Received 8 June 2011; accepted 4 July 2011; published 16 August 2011.
Received 6 July 2011; accepted 19 July 2011; published 30 August 2011.
Received 14 July 2011; accepted 31 July 2011; published 2 September 2011.
Received 5 July 2011; accepted 29 July 2011; published 2 September 2011.
Received 7 July 2011; accepted 27 July 2011; published 30 August 2011.
So Dessler’s publication time is not unusual, and there is no need for all those comments inferring scientific bias.
Might I suggest you inform yourself about GRL, and change your inflammatory introduction to the posting?

Scottish Sceptic
September 6, 2011 3:16 am

Words, fail me … how anyone could think that this conclusive proof that the whole corrupt system of peer review is biased to the alarmists is going to reassure anyone except a complete moron is beyond me.
It’s like some sadistic Nazi showing the world a bruised and beaten prisoner reading out a statement: “I’ve been treated very well”.
What on earth do they thing this could possibly achieve?

richard verney
September 6, 2011 3:22 am

The conclusion reads:
“In addition, observations presented by LC11 and SB11 are not in fundamental disagreement with mainstream climate models, nor do they provide evidence that clouds are causing climate change.”
//////////////////
Such a statement (specifically the comment “…nor do they provide evidence that clouds are causing climate change.”) is meaningless without defining what is meant by climate and without defining what amounts to climate change.
The question is whether clouds can cause a warming or a cooling, and if so whether this can lead to a trend on a long time scale basis. It is entirely a different issue whether such change in temperature may lead to a change in climate.

Scottish Sceptic
September 6, 2011 3:23 am

I can just see the cartoon:–
There is a big raging bull labelled “Press”, and there is a climate “scientist” in a very tight fitting matador costume. He is furiously waving a very small handkerchief labelled “Dessler” trying to distract the bull.
The bull is heading straight for the latter.

R.S.Brown
September 6, 2011 3:24 am

Anthony,
There’s some faulty logic right there in the “Introduction”.
“The usual way to think about clouds…” appears to be an absolute
proven “truth” and a scientfic “given” in the Dessler paper since it is the “reality” the
Spenser and Braswell paper has allegedly “reversed”.
All else in the Dessler paper flows from this logical premise.

Scottish Sceptic
September 6, 2011 3:25 am

That should be: I can just see the cartoon:–
There is a big raging bull labelled “Press”, and there is a climate “scientist” in a very tight fitting matador costume. He is furiously waving a very small handkerchief labelled “Dessler” trying to distract the bull.
The bull is heading straight for [snip] — its too painful to say!.

Another Gareth
September 6, 2011 3:26 am

Lucy Skywalker said: “A paper this important to AR5 has no right being behind a paywall. ”
Due to the policy implications this ought to be a requirement for all papers cited in AR5.

JohnH
September 6, 2011 3:26 am

9/11 did allow a study on vapour trails and their effect on climate.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/space/contrail-effect.html
Ongoing debate
In a study published in 2004, for example, Minnis and colleagues reported that contrails are capable of increasing average surface temperatures sufficiently to account for a warming trend in the U.S. between 1975 and 1994. But some climatologists believe Minnis and his colleagues may have overestimated the contrail warming effect.

September 6, 2011 3:27 am

@- tallbloke says:
September 6, 2011 at 1:34 am
“Abstract: The question of whether clouds are the cause of surface temperature changes, rather than acting as a feedback in response to those temperature changes, is explored… ”
Bzzzzzzt Logical fallacy of the excluded middle. these are not the only two possibilities. Spencer is saying its a mixture of the two which confounds the quantification of cloud feedback.
I am afraid you are the one guilty of a logical fallacy.
The issue here is causation.
Either A causes B that may then amplify or reduce the effects of A on events ENSO…
Or B causes A which modifies the effect of B on ENSO.
It IS a logical impossibility that there is a ‘middle’ excluded in which A causes B AND Bcauses A. That IS nonsensical, it would be like saying that a cough causes a lung infection as well as a lung infection causing a cough…
CAUSES the ENSO events and the subsequent cloud/wind variations, it is silly to claim that a fast, reactive system like clouds could cause the much larger energy movements over much longer timescale of ENSO events.
The CLOUD/CERN result indicates negligible influence from GCR on low altitude cloud – the component Svenmark, Lindzen and Spencer invoke as a cloud forcing.
Those complaining of the paywall – blame capitalism, scientists think all data should be free – publishing companies and meterological organisations look to make money…

Richard C (NZ)
September 6, 2011 3:27 am

Keith says:- . . .
“It’s not the sun that I can see and feel when it shines on me.”
You’re right it’s not Kieth, direct solar radiation only provides 161 W.m2 according to Trenberth, Fasullo and Kiehl’s (TF&K) “Earth’s Energy Budget” Figure 1.
“It’s not the clouds that I can see and feel when they block the sun or rain on me.”
Correct again, there’s no diffuse solar in TF&K’s Fig 1.
“It’s CO2 that I can’t see or feel”
Wrong here Kieth, you should be able to feel the 333 W.m2 GHG DLR (with a little help from WV) in TF&K’s Fig 1, there’s much more of it than direct solar. It’s crazy, in Real World diffuse is added to direct for solar collector calculations and GHG DLR completely omitted – all that free energy going to waste.
I guess in Real World spectral range and energy-per-photon matter – strange, not like that in Warm World.

Dave Wendt
September 6, 2011 3:31 am

So Dessler’s publication time is not unusual, and there is no need for all those comments inferring scientific bias.
So it appears the publication time wouldn’t be unusual if he submitted his paper the day S&B11 was published. Yeah I could see that!

September 6, 2011 3:32 am

Jimmy Haigh chants: (September 6, 2011 at 1:05 am)
Hey, Jimmy. Any chant you can chant I can chant better…

Truthseeker
September 6, 2011 3:43 am

fredb – are all those examples related to climate in any way? The introduction is suggesting that it is climate science that is being politicised not necessarily all branches of science.

Ken Hall
September 6, 2011 3:45 am

““In recent papers, Lindzen and Choi [2011, hereafter LC11] and Spencer and Braswell [2011, hereafter SB11] have argued that reality is reversed: clouds are the cause of, and not a feedback on, changes in surface temperature.””
Is it conventional for a scientific paper to refer to other papers specifically to refute those other papers when it is clear from the refutation that these other papers have not even been read by the team refuting those other papers?
I thought those other papers claimed that cloud feedback is bidirectional.

tallbloke
September 6, 2011 3:52 am

izen says:
September 6, 2011 at 3:27 am
Either A causes B that may then amplify or reduce the effects of A on events ENSO…
Or B causes A which modifies the effect of B on ENSO.
It IS a logical impossibility that there is a ‘middle’ excluded in which A causes B AND B causes A. That IS nonsensical,

It is not a logical impossibility that clouds are causing temperature change and temperature change is causing cloud change simultaneously. The world is a big place, there are many different processes going on in it. A change in cloud cover caused by (say) GCR’s near the poles might be causing temperature changes there, at the same time as the release of ocean energy is causing cloud cover change near the east Pacific. The single global average will reflect an addition of these two separate processes but it says nothing about the singularity or otherwise of their causation. You can have many A’s and many B’s on a planet the size of Earth.
it would be like saying that a cough causes a lung infection as well as a lung infection causing a cough…
No it wouldn’t. It would be more like saying the cough causes irritation and inflammation as well as the irritation and inflammation causing the cough.
If you paid for the course in logic you took, ask for your money back.
it is silly to claim that a fast, reactive system like clouds could cause the much larger energy movements over much longer timescale of ENSO events.
Depends if there’s a reason why they might quickly and quasi-consistently act in a particular way for an extended period of time doesn’t it?
The CLOUD/CERN result indicates negligible influence from GCR on low altitude cloud – the component Svenmark, Lindzen and Spencer invoke as a cloud forcing.
Interesting assertion, which you haven’t backed up with any argumentation here. Anyway, GCR’s are not the only way cloud might be affected by another factor other than temperature.

September 6, 2011 3:57 am

I posted the following comment also at Bishop Hill:
They are all wrong. Clouds are part and parcel of weather, a merely transient and naturally recurring overlay upon the stable atmosphere, and are neither a cause of long-term climate change nor a “feedback” (which, like all of the consensus concepts, is pure gobbledygook masquerading as substantial scientific thinking). My humble, but competent, analysis of a proper comparison of the temperatures in the atmospheres of Venus and Earth shows this very simply and clearly:
Venus: No Greenhouse Effect
The temperature-vs-pressure curves of Venus and Earth, when just their different distances from the Sun are taken into account, are essentially the same, over the range of Earth tropospheric pressures (from 1,000 mb down to 200 mb), EXCEPT WITHIN THE CLOUDS OF VENUS (between about 600 and 300 mb), where the temperature is about 5°C lower than it would be without the clouds. The only effect of the thick, planet-wide clouds of Venus is within them, they do not affect the overall temperature-vs-pressure curve, or the temperature in the atmosphere well outside of the clouds. The transient and scattered clouds on Earth likewise cannot affect our atmosphere’s temperature-vs-pressure curve. This is a planet-sized experimental fact, definitive for climate science, that trumps all current climate theories and demolishes them. Dessler, like all of the silly consensus purveyors, is an incompetent idiot, but then the whole of climate science is shackled by incompetent theories and miseducation about the truth, which my Venus/Earth comparison, which should have been done by them 20 years ago, simply dissolves and resolves.

September 6, 2011 3:58 am

@- anna v says:
September 6, 2011 at 2:49 am
“Sometimes I think that only the onset of the next Little Ice Age will shut up these deluded “scientists”.”
Sometimes I think that even the succession of the next decade always being warmer than the previous one will NOT shut up these deluded “skeptics”.
(not to mention the shrinking ice, glaciers, moving wildlife/plants, increasing DLR, increasing extreme events, sea level rise….)

September 6, 2011 4:02 am

Another Gareth says: September 6, 2011 at 3:26 am
“Lucy Skywalker said: “A paper this important to AR5 has no right being behind a paywall. ””
Due to the policy implications this ought to be a requirement for all papers cited in AR5.

Despite what people here sometimes think, the IPCC is not all powerful. They can’t by citing a paper wave away the publisher’s rights.
However, I have always been able to find copies of commonly cited climate papers through Google Scholar.
There are several viable links to the Dessler paper on this thread. I already have a copy.

tallbloke
September 6, 2011 4:03 am

rbateman says:
September 6, 2011 at 2:24 am
tallbloke says:
September 6, 2011 at 1:47 am
I am quite certain, and I am sure that you are too, that there does not exist 100% global cloudiness on Earth, unlike Venus. The uncertainlty of how much open sky vs cloudiness is a good question.
How many years of data (reliable) do we have?

We have ISCCP data agglomerated from weather sats from ~1980. How reliable it is depends on your definition of reliable, and your bias in relation to data which shows a drop in low tropical cloud cover 1980-1998. 🙂

September 6, 2011 4:05 am

“Question …where did Lindzen, Choi, Spencer and Braswell write that “significant revisions to mainstream climate science are required”?”
Dressler just built up his own strawman argument.

Ken Hall
September 6, 2011 4:20 am

Linzen & Choi took two years to get published. Their conclusions challenge the alarmist and catastrophic conclusions of some climate change scientists.
This paper took a few short weeks from the first key typed on a keyboard to publication. Then there was the recent paper that concluded that we were at threat from alien invasion because of the change in CO2. Both are alarmist papers.
And they claim that there is not a bias in climate science publications. The key to getting published is simple. Start with the conclusion and work backwards and ensure that the conclusion states that climate change is caused primarily by man’s emissions of CO2. Then the work will be published easily, regardless of the rubbish that is peddled within the actual paper.

Claude Harvey
September 6, 2011 4:23 am

Layman’s Guide to Climate Science:
AGW theory says we’ve recently gone missing some serious heat, so it must be hiding from us.
The satellites report it isn’t hiding in the atmosphere.
The ARGO buoys say it isn’t hiding in the oceans.
Spencer and Braswell say it isn’t hiding. It has left the building via cloud-trampoline-launch.
Dressler says Spencer and Braswell are full of feathers.
So where’s the missing heat?

Robert Ellison
September 6, 2011 4:26 am

ENSO is a physical Earth system involving winds, currents and clouds.
‘El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the most important coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon to cause global climate variability on interannual time scales. Here we attempt to monitor ENSO by basing the Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) on the six main observed variables over the tropical Pacific. These six variables are: sea-level pressure (P), zonal (U) and meridional (V) components of the surface wind, sea surface temperature (S), surface air temperature (A), and total cloudiness fraction of the sky (C). These observations have been collected and published in ICOADS for many years.’ http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/enso/mei/
ENSO doesn’t cause clouds – ENSO is clouds. Less low level cloud in El Nino and more in La Nina. Unforced natural cloud variability with significant interannual and decadal changes in the radiative flux. Bizarro world.

Mac
September 6, 2011 4:36 am

fredb says:
September 6, 2011 at 3:14 am
“it is worth noting that GRL is a rapid publication journal.”
Is that not a problem in itself. How can a rapid publication journal operate in a properly constructed and operated peer review environment?
The answer is that it can’t.
How many more papers have been published post haste in GRL that short-circuited the proper peer review process of maintaining high standards, improving performance and retaining scientific credibility?
Any self respecting editor-in-chief would have resigned over such shoddy practices.

fredb
September 6, 2011 4:37 am

@Truthseeker: yes, 4 of the 5 papers whose publication timing results I cited were explicitly climate papers.

HaroldW
September 6, 2011 4:38 am

From http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/pip/2011GL049236.shtml , Dessler’s paper was “Received 11 August 2011; accepted 29 August 2011.” So a turn-around time (received -> accepted) of 18 days.
For comparison, I looked at the most recent twenty of GRL’s papers-in-press (one of which was Dessler’s). One of these was a Correction, accepted the same day it was received. Discounting that, there were two papers with faster turn-around times (1 and 2 days!), and one with an equal value. Fifteen were slower: 2 had turn-around times in the 20’s, 3 in the 30’s, 5 in the 40’s, and 5 with 50 or more days in turn-around. So this places Dessler’s paper at around the 80th-90th percentile in GRL speed.

September 6, 2011 4:40 am

regarding excluded middle (false dichotomy in my formal logic years) … Dessler has simply created a straw man at best?

Coldish
September 6, 2011 4:41 am

According to GRL’s website, the paper by Dessler was “Received 11 August 2011; accepted 29 August 2011”. That’s 18 days. There’s no mention of the date of receipt of any revised version, which may mean that no revisions or changes were requested by reviewers. The paper seems to have had an easy run, at least as far as publication.

September 6, 2011 4:49 am

fredb says:
September 6, 2011 at 3:14 am
So Dessler’s publication time is not unusual
~4 weeks for one of my papers: http://www.leif.org/EOS/2011GL048616.pdf
June 21, 2011 to July 18, 2011

tallbloke
September 6, 2011 4:50 am

Richy Roo (@RichyRoo2011) says:
September 6, 2011 at 4:40 am (Edit)
regarding excluded middle (false dichotomy in my formal logic years) … Dessler has simply created a straw man at best?

The first strawman is implying it must be all one or the other with regard to cloud forcing/feedback.
The second strawman is saying that if Spencer & Braswell and Lindzen & Choi were right “then significant revisions to climate science may be required”. Note the weasel word ‘may’.
I haven’t had time to absorb the paper yet so I’ll read it now and post some further thoughts on my blog.

Jim Turner
September 6, 2011 4:50 am

“….have argued that reality is reversed….”
Doesn’t anyone else think that this is a strange phrase to use in a scientific paper? I cannot imagine any scientist using such a term to mean that the previously held opinion on cause and effect is reversed – it is poor grammar and ambiguous – ‘reality’ is not reversed, except into unreality. I take it to be a colloquial phrase, as in: ‘they are arguing that black is white, up is down’. It seems that their contempt for L&C and S&B is not something they are able to keep out of their scientific publications.

anna v
September 6, 2011 4:50 am

izen :
September 6, 2011 at 3:58 am
Where have you been the last ten years? Pricked your finger on a spinning wheel?
The indexes you quote are in stasis, not increasing, and if you have ever seen a sinusoidal curve, when one reaches the top, it looks like stasis short term.

September 6, 2011 4:54 am

richard verney writes “The question is whether clouds can cause a warming or a cooling, and if so whether this can lead to a trend on a long time scale basis.”
With respect, it’s more complicated than this. Cloud affect moisture, moisture affects lapse rate, lapse rate is tied in with temperature change …..
SB note diverse other effects then discuss where temperature should fit in, as a result of a forcing or a feedback or both and do not arrive at a quantitative solution.
Someone above asked how long we had recorded data on global cloud cover. About 1973, with some possible early errors. A paper with some overlap to SB re discussion of clouds is referenced elsewhere on WUWT at http://climate4you.com/ClimateAndClouds.htm#Tropical%20cloud%20cover%20and%20global%20air%20temperature
Whether it is right or wrong in part or in full, this cloud papers explains complexities that would cause prudent scientists to be less than dogmatic, as SB are.
BTW, the paper on clouds of course mentions rainfall. I have never seen a figure of the flux of CO2 from atmosphere to ocean carried by raindrops with dissolved CO2. Is it significant?

Solomon Green
September 6, 2011 4:56 am

It is possible to have a paper peer-reviewed in only eighteen days (and, indeed, in only twenty-four hours) if the peer-reviewers have already seen the paper in draft and agreed their comments with the author or even collaborated with him before it was submitted. What is the betting that the peer-reviewers in this case were chosen from a panel consisting of A. Evan, J. Fasullo, D. Murphy, K. Trenberth, M. Zelinka, and A.J. Dessler?

September 6, 2011 4:58 am

@Harry Dale Huffman: Your example using the 1000 millibar layer on Venus is compelling, does anyone else have any thoughts on it?
Also any physicists capable of commenting on : http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1003/1003.1508v2.pdf (waaaaaaay beyond my maths)

Onion
September 6, 2011 5:01 am

A super speedy publication process is actually very good news. It means fundamental errors are more likely to be made. The author then has years to repent at leisure.

September 6, 2011 5:03 am

Sometimes GRL can be really fast:
2011GL049472
Manuscript Accepted 2011-08-29 10:00:18
Manuscript Ready for Production 2011-08-29 09:55:34
Decision Made 2011-08-29 09:54:55
With Editor for Decision 2011-08-29 09:53:15
Waiting for Reviewer Assignment 2011-08-29 09:43:37
Initial Quality Control Complete 2011-08-29 09:43:36
Initial Quality Control Started 2011-08-29 09:36:13
Author Approved Converted Files 2011-08-29 09:36:12
Preliminary Manuscript Data Submitted 2011-08-29 09:17:37
🙂

Theo Goodwin
September 6, 2011 5:05 am

omnologos says:
September 6, 2011 at 12:40 am
“Question …where did Lindzen, Choi, Spencer and Braswell write that “significant revisions to mainstream climate science are required”?”
Spencer said it on his blog. This pal reviewed paper is essentially a response to blog posts and media attention. Don’t you remember what Wolfgang said, about how blog posts drove him to resign?
I wonder how you find reviewers for a scientific paper addressing blog posts? Genuine scientists do not have time for that sort of thing.

Editor
September 6, 2011 5:14 am

Izen said
“Sometimes I think that even the succession of the next decade always being warmer than the previous one will NOT shut up these deluded “skeptics”.
(not to mention the shrinking ice, glaciers, moving wildlife/plants, increasing DLR, increasing extreme events, sea level rise….) ”
I would date the general warming-with numerous reverses and advances-to date back to around 1610. When do you believe the world started to warm?
tonyb

tmtisfree
September 6, 2011 5:15 am

The paper’s introduction contains a biased gem :
The usual way to think is now equivalent to reality.
One can deduce that whatever is against the usual way of thinking is against reality. Why bother doing Science then?

September 6, 2011 5:16 am

I wonder if this is the first peer-reviewed paper ever written to answer the newsmedia’s interpretation of another peer-reviewed paper? FoxNews has suddenly become scientifically relevant.

RockyRoad
September 6, 2011 5:20 am

Henry Galt says:
September 6, 2011 at 1:18 am

There has not been “significant climate change over the last decade”.
I fail to see the point, or the point of reading further????

But you do have a point–they admit climate hasn’t changed significantly over the last decade–is that because atmospheric CO2 levels have stabilized or perhaps even declined?
Sounds like these “scientists” have just fallen on their own climate swords for we all know that CO2 has neither stabilized nor declined in the past decade. (This has always been about CO2, right? Certainly a decade (or longer, actually) of significant non-correlation is more than just an inconvenent hiccup in their CO2-driven climate hypothesis, which they inadvertently debunk while arguing over clouds.)

Ron Cram
September 6, 2011 5:23 am

Dessler’s abstract reads: “The question of whether clouds are the cause of surface temperature changes, rather than acting as a feedback in response to those temperature changes, is explored using data obtained between 2000 and 2010.”
Has Dessler ever been outside? To anyone who has been outside when the sun has gone behind a cloud knows the surface temperature gets cooler. The short abstract reminds one of a Greek tragedy. The desperation is so great, the nonsense spills out over the keyboard and others in the tribe applaud.
“Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad” is a line from a play by Euripedes. I wonder if Dessler has read the play?

Paul Nevins
September 6, 2011 5:24 am

How long does it take a reasonably sharp person to recognize that Dressler’s paper is just a set of straw man arguments and does not address the S&B papers main point?
I particularly like
“These calculations show that clouds did not cause significant climate change over the last decade”
A true statement! There hasn’t been any “significant climate change” over the last decade. They can’t seriously think there is anyone reading their paper stupid enough not to know this.
This non work should not be being “supported by NSF grant”.
Also the weasal words “not in fundamental disagreement with mainstream climate models,” make me strongly suspect that a fair evaluation would show that they are indeed in fundamental disagreement. This is being cynical I know, but, the obvious deception in the earlier parts of the conclusion make me question all the conclusions.

Ron Cram
September 6, 2011 5:27 am

Jim Turner says:
September 6, 2011 at 4:50 am
“….have argued that reality is reversed….”
Doesn’t anyone else think that this is a strange phrase to use in a scientific paper?

Yes, I noticed that too. I was shocked that it was written at all and doubly shocked that no reviewer demanded a sentence structure more in line with scientific practice.

Paul Nevins
September 6, 2011 5:27 am

The posting by Leif just above suggests, in fact almost proves that no actual review of any kind occured.

Roger Knights
September 6, 2011 5:28 am

Anna v says:
My teeth go on edge whenever “forcing” are discussed, whether with articles in climate “science” with whom I will finally agree with or disagree. The term is a misleading invention of the climatologist and helps propagate errors ad infinitum.

Me too. The term used to be “drivers,” didn’t it? Why’d they change, except for propagandistic purposes?

Scottish Sceptic
September 6, 2011 5:28 am

stevo says: September 6, 2011 at 12:55 am
The system is biased against bad science. So-called “skeptics” produce a lot of bad science, and it’s a good thing that they have difficulty publishing it.
And for you “bad” means anything that contradicts the inflated CO2 warming predictions?
Are you telling me that Svensmark produced bad science. Or that CERN produced bad science. Are you trying to tell me anything produced by any sceptic was as atrocious as the hockey stick?
In my experience having read climate papers, the only reason no one sees that they are such atrocious science is because they don’t say anything … and I say that having the unfortunate experience of actually wanting to use the “science” in these papers.
And where did I eventually find something that could be used? In a paper on heat lost from swimming pools By that time I had a stack of papers 2inches high, and the only paper that actually set out a methodology that could be followed was one on swimming pools.

Frank K.
September 6, 2011 5:29 am

Steven Mosher says:
September 6, 2011 at 1:12 am
“Accepted aug 29.”
“heck this paper got written, submitted, reviewed and accepted faster than 50% of papers
wait to get their first response.”
Indeed – statistically, this is an outlier (or is that out-liar…).
PREDICTION: THE EDITOR OF GRL WILL RESIGN FOLLOWING A FULL APOLOGY TO SPENCER AND BRASWELL. HE WILL WRITE AN EDITORIAL LAMENTING THE PUBLICATION OF DESSLER (2011), GIVEN THE TECHNICAL PROBLEMS IT CONTAINS, AND ITS NEAR UNIVERSAL CRITICISM FROM CLIMATE WEBSITES…/sarc

Editor
September 6, 2011 5:35 am

Acknowledgments: This work was supported by NSF grant AGS-1012665 to Texas A&M University. I thank A. Evan, J. Fasullo, D. Murphy, K. Trenberth, M. Zelinka, and A.J. Dessler for useful comments.

I wonder what Kevin said. Perhaps “Don’t worry about Wagner, we’re taking him and his journal down. Just don’t mention albedo in your paper. If anyone asks, tell them your albedo data matches the models.”
In separate communications, Rajendra Pachauri possibly concurred, affirming “Just don’t mention libido, I’m covering that in my next novel.”

Ron Cram
September 6, 2011 5:45 am

Dessler’s paper seems to be arguing that clouds form only when temperature goes up. If any other process contributed to the formation of clouds, then LC11 and SB11 would be correct. But, according to Dessler, reality is clear and settled and clouds can only form by higher temps.
Does anyone seriously buy that? I don’t think the CERN people do. What about dimethyl sulfide? According to Wikipedia, it forms cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and aids in forming clouds. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimethyl_sulfide Surely there are other CCN forming compounds.
Dessler and his tribe are really losing it.

Marc77
September 6, 2011 5:51 am

Clouds could not have changed the climate by much over the 2000-2010 period? And the climate happened to not have changed much in this period. And what is it supposed to mean exactly?

Editor
September 6, 2011 5:52 am

Richy Roo (@RichyRoo2011) says:
September 6, 2011 at 4:58 am
> @Harry Dale Huffman: Your example using the 1000 millibar layer on Venus is compelling, does anyone else have any thoughts on it?
This has been beaten to death many times here. Dr. Huffman’s blog post is merely the best summary and most clearly stated exposition available.
Anthony – okay if I turn Dr Huffman’s account into a WUWT post? It’s been a while since we had a ‘Venus’ article here, and those we have are rather testy. E.g. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/06/hyperventilating-on-venus/
Dr Huffman – okay if I turn this into a WUWT post? It will probably guarantee you’ll never hear from “Physics Today” but a lot more people will read it.

Chris R.
September 6, 2011 5:52 am

Oh, so now a decade is too short a time scale to say something about trends in climate. Funny–in Hansen’s 1988 testimony to Congress, he said a decade was enough. It’s a funny old world.

kramer
September 6, 2011 5:59 am

It would be nice to have a graph (maybe a historgram) of the typical time it takes to get a paper peer reviewed, both for initial papers and for rebuttals and then see where this paper is on the histograms. My guess is that it would be an outlier.

Bill Illis
September 6, 2011 6:00 am

Clouds obviously have a big impact on the climate.
– Net reflection of Sunlight by clouds (Albedo) is something like -58 watts/m2.
– The retention of longwave radiation by clouds (greenhouse effect) is approximately +38 watts/m2.
– So, clouds are a net negative on the order of -20 watts/m2.
– [if the water vapour in the air did not turn into clouds, it would still have a positive longwave forcing (a little less though), so the act of water vapour turning into a cloud is a huge negative to the climate system – more than -50 watts/m2].
– During the day, clouds are much bigger negative forcing (temperature during a cloudy day is a good example) while at night, they will have a slightly positive impact (cloudy nights for example).
————
In global warming theory, clouds are assumed to be a positive feedback of about 25% (+1 watt/m2) compared to the impact of CO2/GHGs (+4.0 watt/m2). Water vapour provides another 50% (+2 watts/m2).
– So water vapour goes up, cloud formation must go down (even though they simultaneously say that clouds will increase by 2% to 7% per 1C increase in temperatures). This theory just cannot make up their minds except that doubled CO2 must be +3.0C. Nothing else has any impact.
http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-8-14.html
————
Dessler’s paper appears to be very similar to Spencer’s. Typical of climate science papers, it is difficult to see what was done and the data results are opposite to the claims made and are much like Spencer’s. More to do.

tallbloke
September 6, 2011 6:08 am
phlogiston
September 6, 2011 6:09 am

Steven Mosher says:
September 6, 2011 at 1:12 am
Accepted aug 29.

heck this paper got written, submitted, reviewed and accepted faster than 50% of papers
wait to get their first response.

Now thats what I call feedback.

P. Solar
September 6, 2011 6:13 am

OK , I got a first look a Dessler’s paper the open line is this:
>>
LC11 (their Eq. 8) and SB11 (their Eq. 1) both write the Earth’s energy budget as:
Energy budget calculation
C.dTs/dt = ∆Rcloud + ∆Focean − λ∆Ts
>>
This is a totally false claim. This is NOT what Lindzen or Spencer et al wrote. I have both of those papers.
So that is the bottom line, he is falsely attributing something to those authors and then disproving it. This is an academic straw man. It is very surprising that none of the peer reviewers picked this up. “Probably” the reviewers shared certain political beliefs with Dessler.
I presume we will shortly be seeing the editor-in-chief of GRL fall on his sword.

September 6, 2011 6:14 am

It is really astonishing to read the preprint. It uses only two figures to “beat down” two heavy weight papers of Lindzen and Choi (2010) and Spencer and Braswell (2011)! The subtitles of the sections reveal what is the underlying methodology: “Comparison with models: LC11”, “Comparison with models: SB11”. To check observation-based study using models! In other words, we live in models instead of real world!
GRL used to be hesitant to publish such blatantly ugly papers, e.g. Ammann and Wahl’s attack on the classic McIntyre and McKitrick (2005). But after 6 years and especially after Climategate, it seems things are becoming worse. The Team are already mad. Insane. I wish Lindzen and Spencer teams could fight back, just as McIntyre has been doing through the years.

Ibrahim
September 6, 2011 6:29 am

I wonder who peer-reviewed this.
Conclusion: clouds don’t, but clouds do.

Nuke Nemesis
September 6, 2011 6:31 am

Fine by me, because this paper continues the debate but does not end it.

Editor
September 6, 2011 6:39 am

Leif Svalgaard says: September 6, 2011 at 5:03 am
Dr. Leif, you ARE joking, right?

DR
September 6, 2011 6:39 am

Now will S&B be allowed to rebut at GRL in detail???

September 6, 2011 6:39 am
Pamela Gray
September 6, 2011 6:40 am

I refuse to comment on the details of papers sent to journals that childishly hide them behind paywalls. It’s like commenting on the color and fit of someone’s underwear. Let those that walk around showing their underwear at the journal’s headquarters talk amongst themselves.
That said, if these same people are called to testify at governmental committee meetings meant to impose a tax on me, my elected representatives had better be placing their work in the public record.

September 6, 2011 6:41 am

from Tallblokes post:
I see Lubos Motl has also made a critique of Dessler’s paper, far more amusing than my own:
http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/09/andrew-dessler-clouds-dont-reflect.html
According to Moti Dressler completely ignores the fairly basic phenomenon of relfection from clouds, and proceeds as though clouds only act to trap heat.
According to
Leif Svalgaard says:
September 6, 2011 at 5:03 am
Sometimes GRL can be really fast:
2011GL049472
Manuscript Accepted 2011-08-29 10:00:18
Manuscript Ready for Production 2011-08-29 09:55:34
Decision Made 2011-08-29 09:54:55
With Editor for Decision 2011-08-29 09:53:15
Waiting for Reviewer Assignment 2011-08-29 09:43:37
Initial Quality Control Complete 2011-08-29 09:43:36
Initial Quality Control Started 2011-08-29 09:36:13
Author Approved Converted Files 2011-08-29 09:36:12
Preliminary Manuscript Data Submitted 2011-08-29 09:17:37
🙂
Ok Leif, if that was a joke I’m dense, but have GRL seriously plublished a paper with a 45 minute turnaround which fails to recognise the existance of relfection?
This is proper grounds for an editor to resign in shame and I suggest, if these things are true, that everyone write a polite email to the editor in chief:
Eric Calais, Editor in Chief
Purdue University, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
CIVIL 1397, 300 Forest Hill
West Lafayette, IN 47906
Phone: +1 765-496-2915
E-mail: grl@purdue.edu
Research Interests: Geodynamics of Tectonic processes
at plate boundaries and in plate interiors

DJ
September 6, 2011 6:41 am

Not surprising Dressler did it in record time. He had $150,218 of NSF money to hustle it through.
http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=1012665
Another unnerving issue is this use of the grant money: “In addition, the work will support and train a graduate student, thereby promoting the next generation of scientists.”
You might liken it to training the next generation of shoplifters, on the taxpayer’s dime.

RockyRoad
September 6, 2011 6:41 am

tallbloke says:
September 6, 2011 at 6:08 am

OK, here’s my take:
http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/desslers-spencer-rebuttal-scuttled/

Excellent points, tallbloke–everybody should take note. I particularly like your link to Lubos Motl, wherein you say:

I see Lubos Motl has also made a critique of Dessler’s paper, far more amusing than my own:
http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/09/andrew-dessler-clouds-dont-reflect.html

It boils down to the fact that they always rely on MAGIC:
“My Argument’s Gotta Incluce CO2”
Talk about epic fail!

Gary Pearse
September 6, 2011 6:42 am

Dressler: “(SB and LC) …have argued that reality is reversed: clouds are the cause of, and not a feedback on, changes in surface temperature.”
I always look for the ‘exaggeration tell’ in such a debate. This statement gives the incorrect impression that SB and LC don’t accept any CO2 warming. The authors are actually arguing that climate sensitivity is reduced by the cloud effects. A number of post-climategate papers have argued from the effects of clouds and other observations that climate sensitivity is much lower (0.5 to 1C) than the IPCC figures (1.5 to 4.5 [I believe]) and the IPCC itself has in earlier iterations also estimated lower sensitivity than their present ones. They also have, in the past pointed out that the effect of clouds is not understood and generally they have been put forward as positive feedback objects. Also, until Svensmark et al and CERN, clouds were thought to be one-to-one responses to the temperature/moisture/terrestrial aerosol regime. Now if it can also come from outer space, then whatever the feedback, it has to diminish the role of CO2 to some degree.

m
September 6, 2011 6:43 am

This seems to be a manufactured outrage. I think that perhaps you’re making a big deal of this “news story” in order to focus attention away from other things — perhaps the disappearance of arctic ice, which puzzlingly seems to have surprised you.
Of course science is biased between supporting and contradicting evidence. This is the way it must be, because supporting evidence rarely proves or confirms a theory, while contradictory evidence can destroy a theory. Thus, contradictory evidence tends to be treated more seriously, is more important and scrutinized, and will have a greater impact if accepted. If any one paper was as decisive in support of AGW, it would receive as much attention. But papers don’t tend to be decisive when they agree with previously accepted science.
You can see the same bias on this site. This site is interested in opinions against global warming, and it need not give equal time to each piece of the overwhelming evidence confirming global warming. And it doesn’t need to. If you could disprove that global warming is happening or man-made, all of that evidence which says it is, wouldn’t matter.

Alan D McIntire
September 6, 2011 6:44 am

Trenberth attacked Spencer-Braswell here:
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/07/
That quote, “Clouds may provide feedbacks on the weather systems. Spencer has made this error of confounding forcing and feedback before and it leads to a misinterpretation of his results. ” was a real red flag.
I figure that temperature affects clouds, but clouds also affect temperature. I immediately thought of Lotka’s predator prey model, where in an oscillating system, the number of prey affects the growth of the predator population- more prey supports more predators. As predators increase in numbers, the prey population starts to fall, which in turn reduces the predator population, etc. Depending on the figures used, you can get oscillations rather than convergence to a constant number of predators and prey.
See
http://home.comcast.net/~sharov/PopEcol/lec10/fullmod.html
I see the predator prey model has also occurred to climatologists
http://www.dailycamera.com/science-environment/ci_18648011
“NOAA: Predator-prey model explains how rain can feast on clouds
Model is a simpler way to view cloud-rain interactions, say Boulder and Israel researchers
By Laura Snider Camera Staff Writer
Posted: 08/09/2011 05:18:15 PM MDT
Hungry rains devour clouds in a pattern that’s similar to the way foxes prey on rabbits, according to a new study by a Boulder researcher.
When rabbit populations flourish, the number of foxes also begins to increase. The boom in foxes eventually causes a decline in the number of rabbits, which in turn, results in a decrease in the fox population. This oscillation in predator-prey numbers — with the predator’s peak lagging slightly behind the prey’s peak — is described by a mathematical equation known as the Lotka-Volterra model.
In study published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Graham Feingold, a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, and Ilan Koren, of the Wiezmann Institute of Science in Israel, showed that the relationship between cloud formation and rain can also be described using the simple predator-prey population model. ”
I suppose with the comparison between Spencer-Braswell and Feingold-Koren, Feingold and Koren will also now be written off as climate “deniers”.
What Spencer and Braswell actually SAID seems trivially obvious:
http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/8/1603/pdf
Abstract:” The sensitivity of the climate system to an imposed radiative imbalance remains
the largest source of uncertainty in projections of future anthropogenic climate change.
Here we present further evidence that this uncertainty from an observational perspective is
largely due to the masking of the radiative feedback signal by internal radiative forcing,
probably due to natural cloud variations”
They didn’t say temperature is determined by random variations in clouds, sot Dessler seems to be attacking a straw man..
“A.E. Dessler
Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX
Abstract: The question of whether clouds are the cause of surface temperature changes, rather than acting as a feedback in response to those temperature changes, is explored using data obtained between 2000 and 2010.”
They stated that cloud feedbacks are being ignored by climate modelers. The models get unrealistically high sensitivity for feedback by assuming NO delays in negative feedback from clouds.
. If predators and prey oscillate just slightly out of phase with each other, you’ll get a positive correlation between predators and prey, or temperature and clouds. You might jump to the erroneous conclusion that there’s a positive correlation between prey and predators- the more wolves you get, the more sheep you’ll get or the warmer you get the more clouds you get. In fact, results are the opposite. The more wolves you have the fewer sheep you’ll get, the more clouds you have the less warming you’ll get.

September 6, 2011 6:44 am

The use of the terms “forcing” and “feedback” with respect to the effect of clouds on energy transfer rates are missleading. A better model would be to consider them as a resistance that slows the rate of transfer. Global climate models that are based on long term averages will never be able to explain the physical realities we observe every day. While Spencer and Braswell’s paper may have errors, it demonstrates this basic fact. I’m looking forward to published responses on both sides. It will be interesting to tract the timing and journal that publishes them.

Dale
September 6, 2011 6:44 am

I cannot believe it got published.

September 6, 2011 6:46 am

Fog, a cloud at ground level, typically forms diurnally as atmospheric temperature near the surface falls through the dew point, precipitating water vapour and small droplets. If you are in San Francisco, the fog efficiently insulates the surface from heating and blocking convection, and it stays damp and foggy all day. Under Dressler’s principle, a marine layer temperature inversion should be cloudless, as there is no radiant forcing to create the clouds.

phlogiston
September 6, 2011 6:47 am

Dessler: An energy budget calculation shows that the energy trapped by clouds accounts for little of the observed climate variations.
A glaring straw man in the middle of the (very short) abstract. Why the hell bring in the word “trapped”?? Who on earth is talking about energy accumulating INSIDE CLOUDS!? Have these people never heard of albedo?
Dessler: In recent papers, Lindzen and Choi [2011, hereafter LC11] and Spencer and Braswell [2011, hereafter SB11] have argued that reality is reversed: clouds are the cause of, and not a feedback on, changes in surface temperature.
As Anthony has already posted, the scientific method is now being mangled beyond recognition. Here Dessler starts his “investigation” by announcing what the “reality” is – and all that follows merely serves to force the reader to accept the reality that was already established before the investigation began. This is inquisitorial imposition of articles of blind faith, not remotely a scientific or scholarly process. “An opinion has been established on this point…” – this was a common statement by Government scientists in the Soviet Union.
The AGW team seem not to really comprehend what feedback is. In feedback there is no first and second. It is bidirectional. The characteristics of the feedback or feedbacks operating in the system combine to cause an overall emergent system behaviour that is not necessarily tied to any one component.
The only way out of this mess is for climate research to fully take on board the fact that climate is characterised by nonequilibrium-nonlinear chaotic dynamics, and to understand the role of feedbacks in this context.The system is more than its component parts. At present the AGW team are toying with the term “feedback” without even trying to understand it, merely using it as a rhetorical device to justify an amplified and dominant role for CO2.

Ron Cram
September 6, 2011 6:49 am

I found the following statement in Dessler very surprising:
Thus, the lead- lag relation between TOA flux and ∆Ts tells us nothing about the physics driving ∆Ts.
Radiative imbalance doesn’t affect temperature? Really? That’s his position?

Philip Peake
September 6, 2011 6:49 am

Time to revise what “peer review” really is.
Currently, its a review by a very small number of persons who self-select based upon their willingness to participate and upon the apparently biased choices of non-specialist editors.
Real peer review os opening the idea up to full examination of all peers. This is necessarily a wider audience that simply those willing to pay for a subscription of some publications.
Anything hidden behind a paywall needs to be excluded from the definition of “peer reviewed”.
Especially any research paid for in any part by public funds.

September 6, 2011 6:50 am

Again, I have to remember being given a 4 pages “Heat Transfer” paper a novel variational technique, to analyse the method…learn to use it, and apply it to a real world problem for my graduate Conduction heat transfer course. It was given out about 6 weeks before my “presentation” report was dues. I walked into the presentation with 40 pages of overhead slides. (I made copies for everyone in the class.) I took OVER the time limit, but the professor was gracious enough to allow that. I had NAILED the mathematics down. Everyone could understand and use that method after I finished presenting. HOWEVER, I did NOT have time to apply it to a problem. That requirement was waived by the professor. Dr. Lee.
He gave a memorable speech about “the constraints of journal publications”, and that the effort I went to to understand a “simple” 4 page paper being TYPICAL.
I therefore wonder just how S&B’s “critics” can so “walk on water”, that they can have their analysis, counter work, and publication time table squeezed in to the time frame alloted.
I would venture to guess that the validity and quality of the work bear some sort of “inverse” relationship to the time of preparation and time to obtain “presentation”.
This key relationship should be kept in mind when reading the S&B critical paper.

P. Solar
September 6, 2011 6:52 am

This gets worse the closer you look.
∆Focean is actually a function of ∆Ts, with the coupling occurring via the ENSO dynamics: ∆Ts controls the atmospheric circulation, which drives ocean circulation, which determines ∆Focean,
which controls ∆Ts.

So Dessler has discovered what no one has manage to explain so far, what controls ocean currents and their major oscillations. And the big news is…. it’s the AIR that drives the oceans. (Well we all know Coriolis force was a “fictitious force” , right?)

Figure 1. The slope of the regression (W/m2/K) of energy trapped by clouds ∆Rcloud
vs. surface temperature ∆Ts, as a function of the lag between the time series in months.

The guy does not even understand the difference between energy and power . Jees. No wonder he is having trouble with resolving the difference between cause and effect.
He claims to plot “energy trapped by clouds ∆Rcloud” from CERES data but Ceres does not measure “energy trapped by clouds” it is spectral measurements so how is he deriving what he believes to be the effect of clouds. This is totally undocumented.
No seriously. They will live to regret having banged this through peer review without reviewing it. This is laughable. Dessler has just blown any cred anyone may have been prepared to credit his with.

ferd berple
September 6, 2011 6:57 am

“The system is biased against bad science. So-called “skeptics” produce a lot of bad science, and it’s a good thing that they have difficulty publishing it.”
99.9% if all scientific studies have ultimately been shown to be incorrect or incomplete. This is because every generation of scientists makes the same mistake. We under estimate the size of the unknown.
Scientific studies do not reduce the number of questions in science. Rather, they increase the number of areas needing to be studies. This tells us one simple fact about the physical universe. The number of unknowns is near infinite. The discovery of the atom did not reduce the number of questions in physics. It lead to the discovery of quarks and the question of what lies beneath.
The same will be found to be true for climate science. What will ultimately be shown is the mainstream climate science knows a lot less about the causes of climate change than is currently believed. That the ability to produce accurate climate prediction lies many years in the future, it at all.

Phil
September 6, 2011 6:58 am

On page 8 of Dessler’s paper under the heading “ENSO coupling in the model,” he makes the following statement which appears to be unsupported:

ΔFocean is actually a function of ΔTs, with the coupling occurring via the ENSO dynamics: ΔTs controls the atmospheric circulation, which drives ocean circulation, which determines ΔFocean, which controls ΔTs.

While I understand that is how one could code a model, does anyone know of any experimental or other non-model support for this statement?

September 6, 2011 7:12 am

Significant revisions to mainstream climate science are not required and should not be supported.
Discarding of mainstream climate science is required and should be supported.

Dale
September 6, 2011 7:18 am

Just a question from a simple peon, but if Dessler claims that clouds don’t affect the climate, and clouds are made up of water vapor (a MUCH more effective GHG than anything else), then is he trying to debunk the entire warmie argument that changes in GHG’s affect climate?
I hope someone more knowledgeable in the area can answer.

Jeremy
September 6, 2011 7:19 am

He only chose to look at 10 years of data?

The question of whether clouds are the cause of surface temperature changes, rather than acting as a feedback in response to those temperature changes, is explored using data obtained between 2000 and 2010

fail

September 6, 2011 7:22 am

Recommended reading about clouds:
http://climate4you.com/ClimateAndClouds.htm
Clouds reflect about a quarter of total sunlight reaching the Earth surface.

ferd berple
September 6, 2011 7:23 am

So now we see the real reason that Wolfgang resigned and apologized to Trenberth. Because he didn’t hold up the S&B paper until after the Dressler paper was published.
Lets make a guess here. Trenberth controls the funding that Wolfgang needs for his own study, so when Trenberth says jump, Wolfgang asks how high. He who controls the funding controls the science.

Theo Goodwin
September 6, 2011 7:26 am

omnologos says:
September 6, 2011 at 5:16 am
I wonder if this is the first peer-reviewed paper ever written to answer the newsmedia’s interpretation of another peer-reviewed paper? FoxNews has suddenly become scientifically relevant.
Yes, it seems that Fox News is now part of the peer review system. Come to think of it, I guess WUWT is now part of the peer review system.

ferd berple
September 6, 2011 7:27 am

ΔFocean is actually a function of ΔTs, with the coupling occurring via the ENSO dynamics: ΔTs controls the atmospheric circulation, which drives ocean circulation, which determines ΔFocean, which controls ΔTs.
The idea that atmospheric circulation drives ocean circulation is naive at best. Surface circulation to some extent is drive by the wind, taking into account the effects of land masses. However the deep ocean circulation has nothing to do with the wind. It is regulated almost entirely be the shape of the ocean basins, and the differences in temperature and salinity between the equator and poles.

Gary Pearse
September 6, 2011 7:28 am

Do you suppose Dressler got like-minded reviewers to speed this through? I wonder if GRL editor in chief is going to resign because of this.

RockyRoad
September 6, 2011 7:30 am

m says:
September 6, 2011 at 6:43 am


This site is interested in opinions against global warming, and it need not give equal time to each piece of the overwhelming evidence confirming global warming. And it doesn’t need to. If you could disprove that global warming is happening or man-made, all of that evidence which says it is, wouldn’t matter.

So which is it: “happening or man-made”? Nobody here denies the earth has been warming–but for only the last 50 years or so? I don’t think so. BTW, could you please show us some empirical evidence that this warming is “man-made” (Actually, it is, as opposed to “human-caused”; I hope you can discern the difference.)

jaypan
September 6, 2011 7:32 am

Just read the excerpt.
“… not evidence that clouds are CAUSING climate change” strikes me already.
Has such claim been made by anybody?

Amino Acids in Meteorites
September 6, 2011 7:33 am

^ weeks until published? Is there any clearer piece of evidence for bias in ‘manmade global warming’?
Speaking of taking a long time to get published, how long did it take for Henrick Svenmark’s paper to get published? Wasn’t it years?

Jean Parisot
September 6, 2011 7:34 am

Of course it is behind a paywall, after S&B11 was downloaded 56K times it was destined for a for a paywall – call it an illustration of economic feedback for physicists.

Ron Cram
September 6, 2011 7:35 am

I keep coming back to Dessler’s conclusion:
Thus, the lead- lag relation between TOA flux and ∆Ts tells us nothing about the physics driving ∆Ts.
If this is his refutation of SB11, then he has also effectively refuted AR4. If radiative imbalance does not affect temperature, then why are we even in this debate?

Pete H
September 6, 2011 7:38 am

Six weeks! So they had time to also go through the results from CERN and use the data on cloud formation to come up with a result? Breaking science at its best! No wonder the boss at CERN wanted the scientists to keep closed mouthed!

Shevva
September 6, 2011 7:41 am

Bugger, reading everyones comments here I don’t have enough popcorn for this, can you guys wiat a minute while I pop out and get more.
Cheers.

Ken Harvey
September 6, 2011 7:44 am

It’s an odd thing , but when it’s cold here in the south, as it has been at times this just past winter, we only seem to get the negative feedback type of clouds, never the positive type that would be most welcome.

Ian W
September 6, 2011 7:44 am

Stephen WIlde says
Crucially anything that fails to alter that vertical temperature profile significantly is not going to have a significant effect on clouds either. Hence my doubts about the Svensmark hypothesis.
People should look at this another way.
* Imagine a windless atmosphere with a standard ICAN lapse rate. With a flat calm ocean surface next to a land surface both at the same ‘standard’ temperature to match the lapse rate.
* Water will evaporate into the air from the ocean surface the addition of water vapor to the air reduces the density of the air (Avogadro and molecular weights of H2O vs O2 and N2) so the more humid air will increase in volume and rise.
* Air is drawn in over the land surface to replace the rising humid air which is drier. That dry air then becomes more humid as water vapor from the ocean surface evaporates into it – and that will rise in turn
* This process will generate a land breeze blowing out to sea increasing the rate of evaporation.
As the humid air rises eventually it will reach a point at which the air is saturated due to the temperature lapse rate. If there are cloud condensation nuclei – clouds will form.
* The updraft and the latent heat of evaporation will alter the atmospheric lapse rate as the updraft will have the wet lapse rate.
No heating – no forcings – clouds can form just from normal evaporation causing light breezes.
You can see this cloud formation in early mornings over lakes or in damp forests. It is one of the causes of ‘lake effect snow’.
And Dressler’s claim is that clouds only form in response to heating?

Crito
September 6, 2011 7:48 am

Perhaps it is time for “so called” skeptical scientists to create their own journal and publish their scientific conclusions beyond the interference and bias by warmistas. Such a journal would be read vociferously because the warmistas would need to spend a great deal of time attempting to debunk the articles. That would be good press for the journal.
here is a catchy title: ” The Climate of Reason Journal”

Joe
September 6, 2011 7:50 am

Dessler is so caught up in the chicken-and-egg puzzle that he has convinced himself that chickens are impossible.

September 6, 2011 8:03 am

Maybe people here can help me with something….
Do clouds move from their place of origin — cooling the earth and ocean below (or perhaps slowing the heating process) I ask this because I watched the Hurricane Irene system move along on my TV and computer screen. Temperatures appear to have dropped beneath the cloud layer… .. or do clouds remain stationary — thus lending credence to some of Dessler’s work.
Was this all faked? Like the Moon Landing? Do Clouds really remain stationary?
What did I miss?
These are serious questions (other than the second last set. 🙂 )

G. Karst
September 6, 2011 8:11 am

Conclusions
These calculations show that clouds did not cause significant climate change over the last decade

Wait a second! The last decade temperatures have been flat, so what cloud influence do they expect to see? Am I reading this wrong? Doesn’t this support the cloud hypothesis?? GK

RockyRoad
September 6, 2011 8:11 am

Joe says:
September 6, 2011 at 7:50 am

Dessler is so caught up in the chicken-and-egg puzzle that he has convinced himself that chickens are impossible.

Or that chickens lay no eggs. Obviously, Dessler has.

Caleb
September 6, 2011 8:12 am

As I type, a post about a Cat 4 Hurricane has 11 comments on this site, while this posting, though posted later, already has 177 comments.
Does anyone have any doubts which storm interests people more?
God help us, if Mother Nature hits us with a physical Cat 5 storm while we are so distracted by this Cat 6 Hurricane.
And do not tell me there is no such thing as a Cat 6 Hurricane. There is, and it is caused by humans, and it is called, “War.”
This debate may not involve tanks and bombs, but it is a war all right. On one side is Truth, and the Beauty science based upon truth can offer us, and on the other side is falsehood, and all the misery which perverted science bears as its fruit.

Dave Springer
September 6, 2011 8:12 am

phlogiston says:
September 6, 2011 at 6:47 am
“Dessler: An energy budget calculation shows that the energy trapped by clouds accounts for little of the observed climate variations.”
“A glaring straw man in the middle of the (very short) abstract. Why the hell bring in the word “trapped”?? Who on earth is talking about energy accumulating INSIDE CLOUDS!?”
He’s talking about clouds trapping energy beneath them like a blanket traps your body heat. This is true but only at night and only over land or ice. It’s radiative trapping. Land cooling at night is dominated by radiative transfer. Ocean cooling is dominated by evaporation not radiation so clouds trap very little heat there. Given the ocean covers some 70% of the earth’s surface and Dessler mentions this he seems to have a good understanding of it. He’s right that heat trapping by clouds is not a large player in earth’s energy budget.
Where Dessler leaves the reservation of understanding is he ignores the other effect of clouds – reflecting sunlight during the day. This has a huge effect on surface temperature. The sun is the only significant source of surface heating and the ocean has an effective albedo near 0% meaning it soaks up every bit of sunlight that reaches it. So even a wispy cloud that reduces solar energy reaching the surface by a mere 5% has a huge effect even though, unlike a thick cloud, it’s barely noticeable to unaided human senses.
I don’t know whether the blunder of not considering daytime albedo of clouds is due to ignorance or puposeful obfuscation but those appear to be the only two choices. The omission is particularly interesting because CERES measures energy leaving the earth by frequency and so discriminates between longwave radiative cooling of energy absorbed by the earth’s surface and shortwave reflected energy that wasn’t absorbed.
“Have these people never heard of albedo?”
That appears to be the $64,000 question. They know about it. They ignore it. They assign it a constant unchanging value in as far as clouds are concerned. Some of the models take albedo change of seasonal snow cover into account but none consider albedo change in clouds into account because they believe that global average cloud cover is constant. Global average cloud cover being constant is an assumption with very very little empirical support because we haven’t been able to measure it much before ten years ago and different attempts to obtain a measure do not satisfactorily agree.
People like Dessler know this is a huge gaping hole in the models. Cloud modeling has always been poor and global data scarce. So they argue, like Dessler is doing, that clouds don’t really matter all that much.

September 6, 2011 8:14 am

@- tallbloke says:
September 6, 2011 at 3:52 am
“It is not a logical impossibility that clouds are causing temperature change and temperature change is causing cloud change simultaneously. The world is a big place, there are many different processes going on in it.”
There are indeed and clouds causing temp changes and temp changes causing clouds are all part of that.
But however big the world you DON’T get two things that are the primary cause of each other.
Causal chains are unidirectional. It is a logical impossibility for A to be the #1 cause of B, AND B to be the #1 cause of A.
The dispute here is over whether the pattern of events seen in the ENSO cycle is caused by the movement of thermal energy in the pacific over several years which then causes changes in the wind and cloud patterns.
OR whether the cloud patterns cause the slow movement of thermal energy through the ocean.
There is no dispute that the cloud patterns CAUSED by the ocean thermal changes modify the total ENSO cycle – just as a cough may add irritation to an infection. But there is no dispute amonst MOST rational observers that the oceans cause the clouds, NOT the other way round.
And it is just logical nonsense to claim that causation can run BOTH ways.
Oceans are the cause, clouds are the feedback.
@- tallbloke (-Re: the claim that GCR has negligible effect on low altitude clouds.)
“Interesting assertion, which you haven’t backed up with any argumentation here. Anyway, GCR’s are not the only way cloud might be affected by another factor other than temperature.”
I quoted the sentence from the abstract in the thread discussing this –
-”We find that ion-induced binary nucleation of H2SO4–H2O can occur in the mid-troposphere but is negligible in the boundary layer.”-
perhaps you missed that ?

Matt
September 6, 2011 8:15 am

@ 220mph
maybe because the word “forcing” isn’t even mentioned in your link?
CERN did not say whether there is a forcing or not. They said the results indicate that cloud nucleation is not correctly represented/understood.

Theo Goodwin
September 6, 2011 8:16 am

Ron Cram says:
September 6, 2011 at 5:45 am
“Dessler’s paper seems to be arguing that clouds form only when temperature goes up. If any other process contributed to the formation of clouds, then LC11 and SB11 would be correct. But, according to Dessler, reality is clear and settled and clouds can only form by higher temps.”
Fred H. Haynie says:
September 6, 2011 at 6:44 am
“The use of the terms “forcing” and “feedback” with respect to the effect of clouds on energy transfer rates are missleading. A better model would be to consider them as a resistance that slows the rate of transfer. Global climate models that are based on long term averages will never be able to explain the physical realities we observe every day. While Spencer and Braswell’s paper may have errors, it demonstrates this basic fact. I’m looking forward to published responses on both sides. It will be interesting to tract the timing and journal that publishes them.”
When reading an essay by Warmista, a translation is needed. Warmista do not mean what we mean by familiar terms such as ‘cloud’, ‘sunlight’, or assertions such as ‘clouds reflect sunlight’.
A formal analysis of a Warmista computer model (computer code) would reveal that it contains no primitive predicates for ‘___is a cloud’, ‘___is sunlight’, ‘___is reflected from___’ or similar fundamental terms. In the words of the late W. V. Quine, Warmista do not quantify over clouds, sunlight, or reflection; that is, Warmista do not posit the existence of such things. For Warmista, clouds and such are epiphenomena, fluff that is determined the reality but does not determine reality. So, the Warmista postion is truly a metaphysical position and any argument to the contrary that is based on observable is treated as simply irrelevant. In practical terms, Warmista terminology simply rules out any assertion to the effect that clouds cause something.
What is found in a Warmista computer model? Predicates for radiation and the effects of radiation. So, if you want to say something about clouds in the Warmista ontology, you have to talk about radiation. If we talk about radiation only, clearly we cannot take seriously the sunlight reflected by clouds, except to the degree that the matter can be described in terms of radiation or heat transfer caused by radiation.
Like Fred Haynie, I am excited about the papers by Spencer and Braswell because they bring this issue to the fore, though they might not do it directly. I am more excited because revealing the Warmista ontology reveals that they will never have physical hypotheses about cloud behavior. Their very terminology forbids it. If you cannot have physical hypotheses about cloud behavior then your science simply cannot comprehend the work of Svensmark or Kirkby, good physical science. Warmista science must treat La Nina as statistical noise, something that Tisdale criticized forcefully on WUWT in recent days.
In conclusion, Warmista must come to understand that there is more between Heaven and Earth than their computer models are capable of addressing.

Steve Keohane
September 6, 2011 8:18 am

Picking ten years with no temperature change to study if clouds during that time cause temperature change…brilliant! Trying to make clouds black or white WRT climate change…why do so many demand an either/or when they live in an ‘and’ universe. If it gets cloudy before dawn, it stays warmer than had it stayed clear. Should the clouds remain during the day, it will be cooler than had it stayed clear. Studying climate change over ten years…doesn’t happen.

Nuke Nemesis
September 6, 2011 8:19 am

m says:
September 6, 2011 at 6:43 am
This seems to be a manufactured outrage. I think that perhaps you’re making a big deal of this “news story” in order to focus attention away from other things — perhaps the disappearance of arctic ice, which puzzlingly seems to have surprised you.
Of course science is biased between supporting and contradicting evidence. This is the way it must be, because supporting evidence rarely proves or confirms a theory, while contradictory evidence can destroy a theory. Thus, contradictory evidence tends to be treated more seriously, is more important and scrutinized, and will have a greater impact if accepted. If any one paper was as decisive in support of AGW, it would receive as much attention. But papers don’t tend to be decisive when they agree with previously accepted science.
You can see the same bias on this site. This site is interested in opinions against global warming, and it need not give equal time to each piece of the overwhelming evidence confirming global warming. And it doesn’t need to. If you could disprove that global warming is happening or man-made, all of that evidence which says it is, wouldn’t matter.

Exactly backwards, of course. The “proof” doesn’t need to be that climate change is natural, but that the climate is changing unnaturally. Please refer to the null hypothesis if further clarification is needed.
BTW: What evidence are you referring to? Climate models? Expert statement of belief? Neither of these are evidence. Nor is melting of the arctic ice evidence of anything unnatural.

Theo Goodwin
September 6, 2011 8:19 am

Error Correction:
“For Warmista, clouds and such are epiphenomena, fluff that is determined the reality but does not determine reality. So, the Warmista postion is truly a metaphysical position and any argument to the contrary that is based on observable is treated as simply irrelevant. In practical terms, Warmista terminology simply rules out any assertion to the effect that clouds cause something.”
Should read:
For Warmista, clouds and such are epiphenomena, fluff that is determined By the reality but does not determine reality. So, the Warmista postion is truly a metaphysical position and any argument to the contrary that is based on observable Fact is treated as simply irrelevant. In practical terms, Warmista terminology simply rules out any assertion to the effect that clouds cause something.

September 6, 2011 8:20 am

Alan D McIntire – Discussion of “predator/prey” relationships.
Alan: Some of the first predator/prey studies were performed on the wolf /moose populations on Isle Royle in Lake Superior.
They showed “brilliant” connections between the moose, and the wolf populations. Finally, some brave “skeptic” pointed out that there was a difficulty with the “phase relationship” between the wolf poplulation and the moose. In point of fact, the moose population would decline because of a change in fertility of the moose, not the number “culled” by the wolves!
Eventually it was found a certain fauna, the key source of certain nutrients, related to reproduction, varied with a 7 year cycle (7 years to high, 7 years decline)…and also varied the Moose, and as a follow on, the Wolves.
Now, has anyone ever “apologized” for that error? Not really. Interestingly enough, I read an article about that systematic error that indicated it was STILL IN TEXTBOOKS 20 years after it was discovered.
That should help put the whole correllation/cause/effect thing into perspective. And when I hear of someone modeling the cloud/rain/albedo system as “predator/prey” I just laugh.
Max (From MN)

Leonard Weinstein
September 6, 2011 8:20 am

Evaporation of water does NOT depend mainly on air temperature, but mainly on direct solar insolation. If a cloud covers the water or ground, evaporation (by removing energy with heat of vaporization), radiation, and convection quickly cools water and ground and the relative humidity is limited despite average air temperature, since the surface air temperature will drop. At night, the clouds can slow cooling by reducing direct radiation to space, so this is a net warming due to clouds, but the overall effect is dominated by daytime fluxes, and thus clouds (at least thick lower ones cool. The comment made by D that air temperature dominates evaporation in the presence of clouds (thus maintaining more clouds), or positive feedback, is patently false.

September 6, 2011 8:20 am

@-anna v says:
September 6, 2011 at 4:50 am
“Where have you been the last ten years? Pricked your finger on a spinning wheel?
The indexes you quote are in stasis, not increasing, and if you have ever seen a sinusoidal curve, when one reaches the top, it looks like stasis short term.”
One of the key objections to the SB11 paper is that 10 years of ENSO variations swamps any trend in global temperatures.
BUT, the average temperature for each decade has been warmer than the decade before since ~1900s.
With La Nina conditions and a very quiet sun it is STILL warmer now than during a El Nino event and an active Sun in the 1980s.
I have stated before that IF the next decade is cooler than 2000-2010 then I would at least doubt AGW theory, or be looking for negative factors impacting the extra thermal energy retained by the additional CO2.
What pattern of global temperature change would cause ypou to doubt your position ???

Ken Harvey
September 6, 2011 8:21 am

I would like one of those heat trapping clouds for my perpetual motion experiments. It seems to me that the heat trapped would result in humongous evaporation at the top of the cloud surface, which would rise rapidly and eventually cool and then return to whence it came to repeat the process. Just need to figure how to get a harness on it.

David Falkner
September 6, 2011 8:21 am

In addition, observations presented by LC11 and SB11 are not in fundamental disagreement with mainstream climate models, nor do they provide evidence that clouds are causing climate change. Suggestions that significant revisions to mainstream climate science are required are therefore not supported.
I don’t remember SB11 claiming that they were in fundamental disagreement. I thought SB11 said that the illusion of positive feedback was a problem ignored by climate scientists. And this paper doesn’t seem to address that. I’m not paying for it, however, so I guess I’ll have to take someone else’s word for it. Boy, it sucks to be a plebe these days. Everything universities do is behind a paywall, even college football. 🙂

Richard M
September 6, 2011 8:23 am

I assume Spencer has read the paper by now. After laughing uncontrollably for 5 minutes he’s likely already started a reply. Or, maybe he just can’t stop laughing and it will take longer.

AJB
September 6, 2011 8:23 am

Loop, loop my Kingdom for a loop … evidently Dressler’s horse is called Feedback but doesn’t answer to his name. Maybe he’s been force fed and has no bridle. Andy, go contemplate the operation of a steam engine for a while in the shade. Pay particular attention to the spheres whirling around that progressively shut off the energy supply if the speed increases. The atmosphere is a self regulating heat pump. The regulator is the physical and thermodynamic properties of water in its multiple states. If water presented a net positive feedback we would have had run away warming and the oceans would have evaporated millions of years ago. Frankly I am fed up with listening to stupid unphysical arguments like that. When is someone finally going to pull the funding from these clowns?

D. King
September 6, 2011 8:25 am

R. de Haan says:
September 6, 2011 at 2:58 am
Andrew Dessler: Clouds don’t reflect sunlight
http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/09/andrew-dessler-clouds-dont-reflect.html#more
———————
Clouds don’t, but an eclipse does. 🙂
http://www.mreclipse.com/SEphoto/TSE1991/image/TSE91-GOESw.JPG

Theo Goodwin
September 6, 2011 8:27 am

Max Hugoson says:
September 6, 2011 at 6:50 am
“I therefore wonder just how S&B’s “critics” can so “walk on water”, that they can have their analysis, counter work, and publication time table squeezed in to the time frame alloted.”
When your position is metaphysical and your opponent’s is not, you do not have to read your opponent’s work.

Jeff Larson
September 6, 2011 8:27 am

Interesting how prevalent in mainstream science that cause and effects are reversed. Here’s a simple way to look at clouds and I know I’m mixing some thermodynamic terms, but the point remains: Clouds are reflective. Daytime – radiative heat from sun much higher during the day than radiative heat from earth at night, so feedback is obviously negative. This simple explanation assumes similar cloud cover day vs. night. The convective heat transfer associated with cumulo nimbus clouds accentuates this negative feedback. Fewer clouds at night than day is another negative feedback. The positive feedbacks are much smaller than the negative feedbacks, so the net effect is to have a negative feedback.

Dave Springer
September 6, 2011 8:28 am

Dale says:
September 6, 2011 at 7:18 am
“Just a question from a simple peon, but if Dessler claims that clouds don’t affect the climate, and clouds are made up of water vapor (a MUCH more effective GHG than anything else), then is he trying to debunk the entire warmie argument that changes in GHG’s affect climate? I hope someone more knowledgeable in the area can answer.”
Clouds aren’t made up of water vapor. Water vapor is an invisible gas. Clouds are composed of droplets of liquid water. This is usually taught by demonstration of observing a whistling tea kettle. You cannot see the steam until some distance away from the small opening. That’s because it’s all water vapor where it exits the kettle and doesn’t turn into visible steam until it mixes with enough cool air to condense and form water droplets. So where you can actually see the steam what you’re seeing is a mist of liquid water droplets.

wws
September 6, 2011 8:30 am

It’s funny, it’s struck me today more than ever – as Europe is collapsing, as the US markets are collapsing, as the economy is collapsing, as the entire concept of efficient government contol of anything worldwide is collapsing…
this entire argument is such an ingrown, overhyped screamfest of nonsense! Not that Anthony’s doing anything wrong in opposing the lies, far from it! The lies must be opposed. But all in all, this issue is just kabuki theatre, full of sound and fury, Signifying Nothing.
It’s like watching WOW players argue about which magical attribute is more powerful. To the wide world at large, the answer is; Who could possibly care anymore? These scientific journals? I expect almost all of them to be gone in 10 years, or less. None of this will even be remembered.
And for those who would argue that well, it’s because of where government funding will go, that could be a point; except that we have now reached a state where there is going to be NO new government funding for anything, for any of us, for a very long time.
Endgame is Here, friends.

Jeremy
September 6, 2011 8:33 am

izen says:
September 6, 2011 at 3:27 am
I am afraid you are the one guilty of a logical fallacy.
The issue here is causation.
Either A causes B that may then amplify or reduce the effects of A on events ENSO…
Or B causes A which modifies the effect of B on ENSO.
It IS a logical impossibility that there is a ‘middle’ excluded in which A causes B AND Bcauses A. That IS nonsensical…

How long has it been since you’ve studied Quantum Mechanics?

Vince Causey
September 6, 2011 8:37 am

Izen,
“Causal chains are unidirectional. It is a logical impossibility for A to be the #1 cause of B, AND B to be the #1 cause of A.”
Well that’s interesting isn’t it? You decided to insert the qualifier ‘#1’ which wasn’t even mentioned before. Nice try at bait and switch though.

KnR
September 6, 2011 8:37 am

The real question now is will Spencer get to rebuttal this paper on GRL or anywhere else or are the gatekeepers very much back on duty ?

Theo Goodwin
September 6, 2011 8:39 am

izen says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:20 am
“What pattern of global temperature change would cause ypou to doubt your position ???”
The pattern would be incremental increase of temperature that reflects incremental increase of CO2. Of course, Warmista have ruled out such a pattern. They argue that a year-to-year analysis of warming for the last thirty years is problematic and the fact that is shows no serious warming should be ignored. Then they assert that a decade-to-decade analysis does show the serious warming and should be taken seriously.
So, why did the Warmista give up incrementalism? And please do not trot out that tired old menagerie of excuses about climate being chaotic, holistic, or enlightened.

David Falkner
September 6, 2011 8:41 am

AJB says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:23 am
If water presented a net positive feedback we would have had run away warming and the oceans would have evaporated millions of years ago.
Unless, of course, there was some upper boundary on temperature that we could only approach asymptotically. Sounds like a job for clouds.

Vince Causey
September 6, 2011 8:42 am

Motl’s response is well worth looking at. In one passage he writes:
“If you read the whole paper, you will indeed fail to find any comment on the reflection of sunlight (try to search for “reflect” in the PDF file!) which is how the clouds guarantee that a part of the heat actually doesn’t get trapped in the ocean or elsewhere. Instead, much of the paper is filled with obnoxiously arrogantly formulated crackpot opinions that such an influence of clouds on the heat content would “contradict the energy conservation”! I kid you not.”
If Spencer’s paper was so bad that it’s mere publication caused the editor-in-chief to resign in shirt tearing chagrin, then after the publication of Dessler’s paper what should be see? Mass suicide?

Nuke Nemesis
September 6, 2011 8:42 am

izen says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:20 am
@-anna v says:
September 6, 2011 at 4:50 am
“Where have you been the last ten years? Pricked your finger on a spinning wheel?
The indexes you quote are in stasis, not increasing, and if you have ever seen a sinusoidal curve, when one reaches the top, it looks like stasis short term.”
One of the key objections to the SB11 paper is that 10 years of ENSO variations swamps any trend in global temperatures.
BUT, the average temperature for each decade has been warmer than the decade before since ~1900s.
With La Nina conditions and a very quiet sun it is STILL warmer now than during a El Nino event and an active Sun in the 1980s.
I have stated before that IF the next decade is cooler than 2000-2010 then I would at least doubt AGW theory, or be looking for negative factors impacting the extra thermal energy retained by the additional CO2.
What pattern of global temperature change would cause ypou to doubt your position ???

Like many before you, you are making a false claim that climate change means AGW. Tell me, how are these the same? The climate has been warming since the low of the Little Ice Age. If you prefer a longer time scale, the climate has been warming since the low of the last ice age. How does any of that support the AGW position?
It appears your position is based upon a misunderstanding of fundamental facts. Will you now become a skeptic?

Dave Springer
September 6, 2011 8:43 am

tallbloke says:
September 6, 2011 at 6:08 am
“OK, here’s my take:”
http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/desslers-spencer-rebuttal-scuttled/
Right on. Bears repeating. So I did.

Jeff
September 6, 2011 8:44 am

So… painting the roofs of all our buildings will reflect heat back (through the atmosphere) into space and avert AGW, and soot clouds cause AGW (at least this week), but water clouds with white, puffy tops don’t avert AGW. Right…..

A. C. Osborn
September 6, 2011 8:45 am

izen says:September 6, 2011 at 8:20 am Quote BUT, the average temperature for each decade has been warmer than the decade before since ~1900s.
Have you ever heard of the LIA and previous Ice Ages?
If the temperature had not been rising steadily since then we would stil be in one.
Where does the A in AGW fit it to the “Post” Ice age temperature increases?
There are very very few anti AGW posters who do not believe that GW occurs at some point in time and we are damned lucky to be living during one.

Allen63
September 6, 2011 8:46 am

I have to read the entire Dessler paper before I have an opinion about it. Hopefully, a free to download version will be come available soon. If this is so important, why must it be paywalled.
And, prior to an opinion, it wouldn’t hurt to re-read “Spencer and Braswell” with Dessler’s ideas in mind.

Jim G
September 6, 2011 8:46 am

“Mainstream climate science” is an interesting concept. As with all previous “mainstream” science the concept is to not rock the boat. The earth is the center of the universe, flies spotaneously generate from rotting meat, bleeding is an excellent remedy for what ails you, etc.

Deanster
September 6, 2011 8:48 am

It’s already been said .. but I’ll say it again.
The CLOUD study by CERN completely destroys this fellows perspective.
Maybe he needs to try reading some “science” as opposed to editorials in the NYT.

Dave Wendt
September 6, 2011 8:51 am

” This site is interested in opinions against global warming, and it need not give equal time to each piece of the overwhelming evidence confirming global warming. And it doesn’t need to. If you could disprove that global warming is happening or man-made, all of that evidence which says it is, wouldn’t matter.”
“Overwhelming evidence” of AGW is kinda like Sasquatch. I keep seeing vague reports that all sorts of people have reported seeing it, but when I go looking for it, all I find are grainy photos of what appears to be a man in a monkey suit disappearing into the woods.

JP
September 6, 2011 8:52 am

I think Dessler made a rather incredible statement that totally ignored the ability of clouds to reflect insolation back into space. What I also find interesting is the simple fact that increased cloud cover over the equator (especially the Pacific) would have a rather immediate and drastic effect on our global climate. If you decrease the amount of incoming solar radiation to the tropical regions of the Pacific, you change everything.

dp
September 6, 2011 8:54 am

It would appear the Climate Rapid Response Team has jumped the WUWT fence and are driving the conversation in circles here as they did yesterday at Dr. Curry’s site.
Don’t take the bait.

Theo Goodwin
September 6, 2011 8:54 am

Dave Springer says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:12 am
“He’s talking about clouds trapping energy beneath them like a blanket traps your body heat. This is true but only at night and only over land or ice. It’s radiative trapping.”
“Where Dessler leaves the reservation of understanding is he ignores the other effect of clouds – reflecting sunlight during the day. This has a huge effect on surface temperature.”
Where clouds can be treated as agents of radiative “trapping,” during the night, they are real. Where they cannot be treated as agents of radiative “trapping,” reflecting sunlight, they are not treated at all or, if you prefer, treated as unreal.

Sean Peake
September 6, 2011 8:55 am

Overheard inside Dessler’s head:
“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”
(h/t Jo i Mitchell)

September 6, 2011 8:56 am

The non-paywalled version can be found at Dessler’s site:
http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/Dessler2011.pdf

Wijnand
September 6, 2011 8:59 am
Paul Westhaver
September 6, 2011 8:59 am

Anthony,
I am troubled by the tedious perseverance over making a case for either “cause” or “feedback”.
The source of gain for heat is the sun and radioactive decay in the earth. That means everything else is feedback.
It just doesn’t matter whether it is called feedback or not. The issue is circumspect because the IPCC view is that clouds stimulated by cosmic radiation has no effect on climate. So their view of the cloud model, the one that diminishes the influence of cloud cover, MUST be the credible model.
In a subset of the model, clouds reflect radiation from the sun, they absorb radiation from the sun, they reflect and absorb radiation from terrestrial sources and they hold energy.
I don’t get the need to classify clouds as source or feedback. Cloud formation, is loosely connected with the gain source. When the radiation from the sun reduces ever so slightly, the cosmic radiation increases cloud formation , a positive feedback response to lower incident radiation, lowering the radiation that reaches the earth.
I think that this relationship is the one that is driving climate. The gain is solar radiative output.
In the sense that clouds effect that gain is silly. The sun doesn’t know what is happening on earth. Cloud formation and temperature are following the sun.

September 6, 2011 9:01 am

Paul Nevins says:
September 6, 2011 at 5:24 am
How long does it take a reasonably sharp person to recognize that Dressler’s paper is just a set of straw man arguments and does not address the S&B papers main point?
=================================================================
How long does it take to read this fragment? “The question of whether clouds are the cause of surface temperature changes, …….”
While I’m very amused by the publishing of this tripe, I have to admit, I’m a bit disappointed. I was rather looking forward to a raucous engagement with the warmista. Instead, this looks like an embarrassing first step towards a capitulation. Reading through the comments here and postings by Lubos Motl and Tallbloke, there just isn’t much more to add.
Dressler created a strawman and then didn’t do a very good job at refuting his own strawman! It’s over. GRL has embarrassed themselves to the point of irrelevance. Dressler has embarrassed himself, his university and his alma mater. Indeed, were I Dressler’s real parent, I’d be embarrassed. The NSF has much explaining to do. They just spent a lot of our money on this work of non-science. The peer-review process is exposed as being fatally flawed. It simply can’t be relied upon to help generate quality science in the manner it is being employed. I’d like, very much, to know who exactly were the reviewers and have someone explain how come none of them actually read S&B11? Or perhaps their reading comprehension level is so low they didn’t understand what S&B11 was stating?

Dave Wendt
September 6, 2011 9:02 am

Allen63 says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:46 am
I have to read the entire Dessler paper before I have an opinion about it. Hopefully, a free to download version will be come available soon. If this is so important, why must it be paywalled.
This which I posted above still works.
[snip, use the one at Dessler’s site: http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/Dessler2011.pdf ~ ctm]

RockyRoad
September 6, 2011 9:05 am

wws says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:30 am

It’s funny, it’s struck me today more than ever – as Europe is collapsing, as the US markets are collapsing, as the economy is collapsing, as the entire concept of efficient government contol of anything worldwide is collapsing…

As is the psuedoscience of CAGW, and for the same reason–illogical approaches to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and science. Each system you mention manifests the same illness; they all suffer from distortions of the truth.

September 6, 2011 9:11 am

wws says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:30 am
It’s funny, it’s struck me today more than ever – as Europe is collapsing, as the US markets are collapsing, as the economy is collapsing, as the entire concept of efficient government contol of anything worldwide is collapsing… It’s like watching WOW players argue about which magical attribute is more powerful……….
=======================================================
Sort of. WWS, but one of the reasons for the markets dropping, is because of our throttling of energy production. If energy production is throttled, then wealth creation is throttled. Why is the western society throttling energy production? Because of tripe such as Dressler’s bizarre blathering.

SteveSadlov
September 6, 2011 9:15 am

Thunderstorms are the “tower CPU heat sinks” of Mother Nature.

Anything is possible
September 6, 2011 9:18 am

S & B’s conclusions have now been well and truly disproved…
The reaction to their work has unquestionably demonstrated that climate “sensitivity” is at an all-time high.

G. Karst
September 6, 2011 9:20 am

Ken Harvey says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:21 am
I would like one of those heat trapping clouds for my perpetual motion experiments. It seems to me that the heat trapped would result in humongous evaporation at the top of the cloud surface, which would rise rapidly and eventually cool and then return to whence it came to repeat the process. Just need to figure how to get a harness on it.

I am not sure what your point is, but here is an easier demonstration:
Take a balloon and fill it with He (helium) just enough to make it buoyancy neutral (ie lift=weight of balloon). Now tie the balloon to a lever. You now have a machine, that will perform work, whenever the sun shines, on the balloon. This is NOT a perpetual machine, but a solar device like the solar cell, it is simply fueled by photogenic energy. GK

Jeremy
September 6, 2011 9:25 am

izen says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:20 am
…I have stated before that IF the next decade is cooler than 2000-2010 then I would at least doubt AGW theory, or be looking for negative factors impacting the extra thermal energy retained by the additional CO2.
What pattern of global temperature change would cause ypou to doubt your position ???

Its very commendable that you have at least created a position at which you will doubt your currently held understanding of things. Please understand that we skeptics have been doubting all presumed causes of climate change for a while now, so there is no presumed cause to which we are attached, making it much easier to doubt what we’re not attached to.

Jean Parisot
September 6, 2011 9:32 am

izen – so AGW is unfalsifiable with the tools (todays data, models, etc.) used to create it?

Editor
September 6, 2011 9:34 am

That’s the point of GRL — rapid turnaround of “cutting-edge” research. Most of the papers go from submission to acceptance — to “in-press” in under a month. Many journals are trying this approach — remember the Nature journal that was free and had really no peer-review…?

RockyRoad
September 6, 2011 9:38 am

Keynsian economics and Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming have a lot in common–Both cost a huge amount and both have produced nothing noteworthy. Both have caused their own downfall.

RockyRoad
September 6, 2011 9:40 am

Jean Parisot says:
September 6, 2011 at 9:32 am

izen – so AGW is unfalsifiable with the tools (todays data, models, etc.) used to create it?

I can prove anything with a model–especially if I ignore the data.

Jean Parisot
September 6, 2011 9:42 am

Rocky – but can you disprove it?

David Falkner
September 6, 2011 9:47 am

RockyRoad says:
September 6, 2011 at 9:38 am
What economic model do you suggest?

Joe
September 6, 2011 9:49 am

The funniest thing about this whole ordeal is that while Dessler is arguing the POSITIVE feedback of clouds, he is ignoring the CAGW longstanding position that clouds are a net-negative feedback. You can see that in this IPCC-AR4 graph that makes its rounds on the internet:
I’ve always marveled at that graph as people still use it with a straight face. All it says is “we don’t know what the hell Clouds do, but we guessed at it anyway. Consequently, the entirety of our CO2 forcing is really a slave to how wrong we are about clouds.”

Joe
September 6, 2011 9:50 am
RockyRoad
September 6, 2011 9:50 am

Jean Parisot says:
September 6, 2011 at 9:42 am

Rocky – but can you disprove it?

Disprove the null hypothesis? That’s not my job. You have to prove your hypothesis. Then we have something to work with.
(You could pose the same question you have to a first grader, and if you come away from that with the answer that the poor tyke can’t prove it, you can’t simply say “Well, then, mine is proven.”)

September 6, 2011 9:51 am

RockyRoad says:
September 6, 2011 at 9:38 am
Keynsian economics and Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming have a lot in common–Both cost a huge amount and both have produced nothing noteworthy. Both have caused their own downfall.
==================================================
The similarities are striking. Both defy physics. And both seem to advocate standing in a bucket when trying to lift it.

Another Gareth
September 6, 2011 9:51 am

Nick Stokes said: “Despite what people here sometimes think, the IPCC is not all powerful. They can’t by citing a paper wave away the publisher’s rights.”
There is no need for that, merely that the IPCC only include science that is freely available to the public.

eyesonu
September 6, 2011 9:57 am

Wijnand says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:59 am
Wow, Lubos goes supersonic!
Good stuff!
http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/09/andrew-dessler-clouds-dont-reflect.html?m=1
——————————–
Good read. Quite direct and pointed.
The army marching for the truth is astounding! It seems as if they are even coming from the clouds!

RockyRoad
September 6, 2011 10:00 am

David Falkner says:
September 6, 2011 at 9:47 am

RockyRoad says:
September 6, 2011 at 9:38 am
What economic model do you suggest?

Holy Smokes! Anything else! Get the government out of my life and out of my wallet–Question for you: Do you spend your dollars more wisely than the government? If you say no, then you SHOULD give it to your government (but don’t complain when it’s wasted and the economy falters like it is). If you say yes, then the nation’s economy has a chance–slim, but a chance because apparently there aren’t many saying “Yes”.
(Do you really think government is the source of wealth? –I’d start there. What do they make? What widgets do they produce? What fuels and food do they provide–no, not getting somebody else’s money so you can buy widgests, fuel and food that somebody else has produced.)

September 6, 2011 10:05 am

Robert E. Phelan says:
September 6, 2011 at 6:39 am
Dr. Leif, you ARE joking, right?
No joke. Although the paper [one of mine] was just a correction to an earlier one [which was submitted June 21 and accepted July 18 – which was also fast http://www.leif.org/EOS/2011GL048616.pdf ]. Still, a 45 minute turn-around time is impressive.
The correction was just to correct a single character in an equation. The software used by AGU to produce the published version from my electronic manuscript has a subtle bug in it, that bit me. I protested after they issued the correction that it would be easier just to fix the single character error [as everything is electronic anyway – except the printed version that is some time delayed]. It took me several days of wrangling to get them to just make the fix, but they finally relented, and the correction is now moot and will eventually be removed from the record.

Alan Clark of Dirty Oil-berta
September 6, 2011 10:07 am

To be fair, at least Spencer & Braswell were given an advance copy of Dressler’s paper the moment it entered into the peer-review process so that they could begin writing their rebuttal. sarc/

September 6, 2011 10:11 am

On a sunny day the arrival of clouds overhead will cause the surface to cool as the clouds will reflect and/or absorb the incoming heat of the sun. On a cloudy night the temperature will be warmer on the surface as the clouds act as a blanket and seal in the heat of the day and prevent it escaping upwards. This is from common sense obeservation of the micro situation where clouds can either cool or warm the surface depending in the situation (time of day). On the macro scale, I would imagine that increased global cloud cover would increase the Earth’s albedo, thus reflecting more solar radiation back out to the upper atmosphere and into space. I am an amateur. Is there a flaw in this observation?

tallbloke
September 6, 2011 10:17 am

izen says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:14 am
But however big the world you DON’T get two things that are the primary cause of each other.
Causal chains are unidirectional. It is a logical impossibility for A to be the #1 cause of B, AND B to be the #1 cause of A.
The dispute here is over whether the pattern of events seen in the ENSO cycle is caused by the movement of thermal energy in the pacific over several years which then causes changes in the wind and cloud patterns.
OR whether the cloud patterns cause the slow movement of thermal energy through the ocean.

Actually it isn’t, but until you show signs of having understood Spencer’s paper I can’t be bothered debating it with you. While you re-read it, consider the lag between max energy input and max temp response.
just as a cough may add irritation to an infection.
You don’t understand my correction to your bad analogy either.
But there is no dispute amonst MOST rational observers that the oceans cause the clouds, NOT the other way round.
And it is just logical nonsense to claim that causation can run BOTH ways.

You don’t understand cybernetic feedback either.
”We find that ion-induced binary nucleation of H2SO4–H2O can occur in the mid-troposphere but is negligible in the boundary layer.”
Low cloud is formed above the boundary layer.
This won’t have been deduced from the CERN experiment, which took place in a metal box.
It is in any case irrelevant to this discussion. Spencer’s argument doesn’t rely on GCR’s forcing clouds.

David Falkner
September 6, 2011 10:17 am

RockyRoad says:
September 6, 2011 at 10:00 am
Sorry, what economic model is that?

P Wilson
September 6, 2011 10:18 am

Dave Springer says:
September 6, 2011 at 1:15 am
“These calculations show that clouds did not cause significant climate change over the last decade”
I wasn’t aware there was any significant climate change due to any cause during that period of time. Global average temperature hasn’t significantly changed in the past 10 years.
Seems like a rather glaring flaw. Am I missing something?”
one thing: The swiftness of the control freaks. It seems that control freaks are all in bogus science and science fiction, like those gremlins or those evil Martians that want to take the earth over, trapped in their myopia, and regardless of the disorder and chaos that is left to go unchecked in important things such as social and economic decline

David Falkner
September 6, 2011 10:33 am

Joe says:
September 6, 2011 at 9:49 am
The funniest thing about this whole ordeal is that while Dessler is arguing the POSITIVE feedback of clouds, he is ignoring the CAGW longstanding position that clouds are a net-negative feedback. You can see that in this IPCC-AR4 graph that makes its rounds on the internet:
http://www.realclimate.org/images/ipcc2007_radforc.jpg

Actually, the cloud portion of that graph shows the negative impact of anthro-sourced aerosols seeding clouds. So that means they are attributing an increase in cloudiness to aerosols, and that there is a negative effect from that increase in cloudiness. Still, Dessler has some ‘splaining to do. If aerosols cause cloud albedo effects that IPCC and scientific literature consider important, how does the claim that clouds can not have an albedo effect in his paper wash out with the peer-reviewed literature? How does the incoming radiation know which clouds are caused by aerosols and which are not?

gnomish
September 6, 2011 10:34 am

realclimate asserts that clouds need not be considered ‘as they are part of the system’.
accordingly, the global temperature average is a single number that subsumes allllllll the details, none of which, therefore, need be considered.?

Lars P
September 6, 2011 10:43 am

“SB11] have argued that reality is reversed: clouds are the cause of, and not a feedback on, changes in surface temperature.”
Now I finnaly got it:
It is not a cloud in the sky cooling Chuck Norris below. The cloud is there because Chuck Norris feels cooler.

September 6, 2011 10:44 am

What is it temperature?…As for temperature, Tesla wrote (Tesla, Feb. 1919) that “in light of present knowledge we may liken electric potential to temperature.” Creating a low temperature region in the high energy ambient medium meant creating a sustained low electrical potential. Relative to the medium, the device creating this low pressure region could be seen as a self-cooling apparatus.
http://home.comcast.net/~onichelson/Thermodynamics2.pdf

DirkH
September 6, 2011 10:48 am

Dessler is the fastest scientist in the world. We could fire all other warmists and still get all the warmism the world needs.

MikeN
September 6, 2011 10:48 am

Sept 6. 1AM Roy,
this has happened to John Christy with a reply by Ben Santer appearing before him because they delayed the publication.

Jim G
September 6, 2011 10:50 am

What a mountain out of a mole hill!! Sun makes heat. Clouds in the daytime reflect sun light and make it cooler. Clouds at night stop heat from radiating away and keep it warmer. Net, net……it depends upon if it’s cloudy in the day or at night. Anyone who goes outside once in a while knows this stuff. Seems like an inordinate amount of palaver over such simple concepts. Also does not seem too predictable as to which will happen, when. But then I am obviously not in the “mainstream” of climate science.

MikeN
September 6, 2011 10:52 am

Nick Stokes, I’m confused. Why do you give stats for JGR when this is published in GRL? Are they the same? Also, I know it’s not your fault, but why give stats for 50% of approved papers? What about the other 50%?

September 6, 2011 11:01 am

Lubos summarizes by saying Dessler treats clouds as black, absorbing but never reflecting. And therefore that Dessler is a ijit.
No argument here.

Udar
September 6, 2011 11:02 am


izen says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:14 am
“But however big the world you DON’T get two things that are the primary cause of each other.
Causal chains are unidirectional. It is a logical impossibility for A to be the #1 cause of B, AND B to be the #1 cause of A.”

Have you ever heard of a phenomena called oscillation? It is well known case of cause and effect reversing each other.
Another phenomena that is well known, is the favorite of alarmists – positive feedback. Surely you have heard of it? You know, increase in temperature causing increase in some kind of global warming gasses, which causes larger increase in temperature, ad infinitum,until we are all dead?
Just to make clear, positive feedback is what causes system to oscillate, and oscillation or runaway are 2 manifestation of same effect – depending on dynamics of the system, but it is immaterial to this conversation.

DirkH
September 6, 2011 11:08 am

izen says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:14 am
“Causal chains are unidirectional. It is a logical impossibility for A to be the #1 cause of B, AND B to be the #1 cause of A.”
This is wrong; when A causes B and B causes A you have a positive feedback loop. You try to take back your first sentence a little bit by saying “the #1 cause of”; but that is ill-defined. Imagine A to be 30 % responsible for B; with 70% coming from other sources, but none of them reaching 30% alone – is A now “the #1 cause of” B? Sorting the sources by their influence, A would surely make the #1.
Well, but even if we ignore this ill-definition, and insist that A must be the dominating source of B, and B the dominating source of A, a positive feedback loop is of course still possible; A and B amplifying each other to the maximum extent possible. Say, A being the nuclear decay of one block of Uranium, and B being the nuclear decay of an adjacent block of Uranium.
Do we have a less obvious example? Think of a big city with many companies. This draws a lot of talented people from surrounding areas, and the presence of lots of talented people in one place draws more companies. A = companies; B = talented people. Causality works in both ways here.
Well, if it were impossible we would never have invented the term “positive feedback”.
But wait. You didn’t say anything about the sign of the influence. A negative feedback loop is an even more ubiquitious example of causal loops. Wherever some system stays in a range of possible states there’s such a feedback loop.
Classical example is an island with a population of rabbits and a population of foxes; where the size of one population is cause for a change in the size of the other population; which leads to oscillations, (Runge-Kutta differential equations usually being used to describe that, but it’s just an old negative feedback loop).
You said “A to be the #1 cause of B” BUT this figure of speech is misleading; a dependency might also be an inhibiting influence and it would still be called causality…

September 6, 2011 11:14 am

Where can we get a look at the paper? My bet it has a huge leap of assumption in it that has no proof or even compelling theory to support it.
REPLY: http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/Dessler2011.pdf

September 6, 2011 11:24 am

“I hope my analysis puts an end to this claim that clouds are causing climate change,” he adds.
Therefore if the entire planet where cloudless this year, then next year the entire planet is covered 100% in cloud, then there would be no significant change in global temperature between the two years, given all else were to be constant; BUT, Dessler adds, “Over a century, however, clouds can indeed play an important role amplifying climate change.”
…but remember “The bottom line is that clouds have not replaced humans as the cause of the recent warming the Earth is experiencing,” Dessler says. He ust have the AC turn off…suffering from heat stroke. 🙂

September 6, 2011 11:27 am

AJStrata says:
September 6, 2011 at 11:14 am
Where can we get a look at the paper? My bet it has a huge leap of assumption in it that has no proof or even compelling theory to support it.
===================================================================
http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/Dessler2011.pdf
AJ, the comments above may be useful.

MarcH
September 6, 2011 11:32 am

The cut off date for papers to be included for the next IPCC report WG1 is as follows:
By this date papers should be submitted for publication to be eligible for assessment: 31 Jul 2012
By this date papers cited by WG must be published or accepted (with proof – such as a letter of confirmation from the journal editor): 15 Mar 2013
http://www.nzclimatechangecentre.org/ipcc/ar5
Does this means in order for Spencer/Lindzen and Co to get something more into AR5 (other than an off hand reference to being “scuttled” by Dessler 2011) they have to submit a new paper by 31/7/2012 and have the paper accepted by 15/3/2013? Not impossible, but what are the odds of a fast turn around for either?

Dave Wendt
September 6, 2011 11:34 am

From Dessler11
“n AMIP models. This means the interaction in these models is one-way: clouds
respond to SST changes, but SST does not respond to cloud changes. In other words,
realistic ∆Rcloud variations are generated in these models by specifying ∆Ts
variations. The suggests that the observed lead-lag relation is a result of variations
in atmospheric circulation driven by ∆Ts variations and is not evidence that clouds
are initiating climate variations. This conclusion also agrees with the energy budget
presented earlier that concluded that clouds are not trapping enough energy to
explain the ∆Ts variation”
I recall a recent posting (It may have been here, or elsewhere, or perhaps both. I’m really tired at the moment) which discussed a study that questioned how GCMs with widely varied climate sensitivity could be tuned to track the observational temperature record so similarly. They discovered that the modelers varied the “aerosol factor”, i e clouds, to match their sensitivity estimates to bring the models in line. This would seem to be wildly at odds with the above. As I said I’m too tired to chase down the link right now, but perhaps someone else who saw it will help a bro out.

September 6, 2011 11:34 am

@- Jeremy says: RE- It IS a logical impossibility that A causes B AND B causes A. That IS nonsensical…
September 6, 2011 at 8:33 am
“How long has it been since you’ve studied Quantum Mechanics?”
Not long enough?
I know causation can become a slightly problematical concept in QM, but unless you are going to invoke temporal loops around singularities there is no logical possibility that if A causes B then B also causes A. It would require a causal influence to travel BACK in time.
Unless you have a example of such a causal loop I will remain convinced it is an incoherent concept. Either ENSO causes clouds which can have a (limited) feedback on the evolution of the ENSO cycle; -OR- Clouds cause ENSO so that the ENSO cycle can only occur AFTER cloud variations cause it.
Only Lindzen and Spencer seem to favor the second option – or worse, they illogically claim BOTH causal chains occur!!!
@- Jeremy says:
September 6, 2011 at 9:25 am
“Its very commendable that you have at least created a position at which you will doubt your currently held understanding of things. Please understand that we skeptics have been doubting all presumed causes of climate change for a while now, so there is no presumed cause to which we are attached, making it much easier to doubt what we’re not attached to.”
In doubting ALL presumed causes of climate change is there ANY evidence that would make you doubt your doubt !?
Or is your ubiquitous doubt impervious to all empirical evidence ?!
@- Theo Goodwin says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:39 am
“So, why did the Warmista give up incrementalism? And please do not trot out that tired old menagerie of excuses about climate being chaotic, holistic, or enlightened.”
For the same reason we don’t expect incrementalism in the seasonal changes. The solar energy arriving at the surface may be changing incrementally as axial tilt and orbital position cause seasonal change, but the actual temperature does NOT change incrementally. It can be warmer in April than in May, or colder in October than November. Only by taking the average over 10 days or so can you find the incremental seasonal change buried in the daily variation.

Bart
September 6, 2011 11:34 am

P. Solar: Good comments.
izen says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:20 am
“I have stated before that IF the next decade is cooler than 2000-2010 then I would at least doubt AGW theory, or be looking for negative factors impacting the extra thermal energy retained by the additional CO2.”
So, if there are data not yet available which could change your position… Is it not premature to advocate societal upheaval and massive reallocation of resources to address what may not be a problem?
David Falkner says:
September 6, 2011 at 8:41 am
“Unless, of course, there was some upper boundary on temperature that we could only approach asymptotically. Sounds like a job for clouds.”
Or, for radiation of heat which increases as T^4 – rather difficult to overcome that. The nomenclature often throws off the newly acculturated. The idea is not that there is overall positive feedback, but that there is internal positive feedback embedded within an overarching negative feedback loop. Such a positive feedback would have the effect of amplifying the input forcing response without creating overall instability.
The IPCC claims the feedback is positive on the basis of known physical properties of water vapor. S&B have been arguing that the feedback is likely overall negative due to the effects of clouds, but appear to have concluded that the data are too corrupted by other processes to nail it down precisely. Dessler is arguing that it is impossible for the data to be so corrupted. But, based on the quality of his previous work, and the fact that, that claim is rather bold, I expect that he is wrong, but I need to read the paper to see how he justifies it.

September 6, 2011 11:35 am
September 6, 2011 11:36 am

Having read the paper I can see how the turn on it was so rapid.
There’s not much there.
One thing of note: SB11 did apparently play some games with selecting which model results to show. That was a mistake on my view.

September 6, 2011 11:37 am

OK, downloaded the paper and it is ripe with unfounded assumptions and poorly staged straw men. I will post a blow by blow rebuttal later, but clearly this was rushed out and is more politics than ‘science’.
For example, the front matter states “the question of whether clouds are the cause of surface temperature changes, rather than a acting as feedback” is a unsubstantiated bit of tunnel vision. Clouds are produced in response to more than simple surface temperatures (or ocean temperatures). I would think a PhD in climate would no better than to begin the debate with such a silly straw man.
Clouds are usually created in boundary conditions along fronts. Clouds can be created during cooling AND warming transitions. Clouds also act as thermal energy conveyor belts moving energy and H2O up and down the atmospheric columns. Clouds also provide feedback to ocean heat (transporting energy and H2O across immense distances.
Clouds ABSOLUTELY impact surface temperature readings. At night they hold in heat. On the coasts fog banks reflect heat and keep surface temperatures many degrees cooler than their inland neighbors (go to San Fran sometime to experience this impact).
This is such a simpleton model it begs the question of why it would be in any ‘scientific’ paper at all?
Again, this ‘paper’ misses the entire systemic dynamic of temporal and distance changes that clouds produce. Clouds move energy. Right now in DC, clouds are dumping energy picked up in the Atlantic (in the form of inches of rain). The surface temperature here in DC had NOTHING to do with the impact the clouds are having on our temps (cooling them down dramatically).
Good lord, PhD have really lost their value over the last few decades.

Jeff
September 6, 2011 11:39 am

The fundamental flaw with this “rebuttal” is that the El Nino-La Nina cycle is a weather pattern, not climate change. The trade winds are cyclically disrupted by waves of temperature change under the ocean surface. Short of the ocean cooking-off, there would be similar cycles even if there is overall climate change. They are quite safe and correct in saying that clouds have little (quantifiable) impact on this cycle, but it doesn’t apply to the question at hand.

DirkH
September 6, 2011 11:42 am

izen says:
September 6, 2011 at 11:34 am
“I know causation can become a slightly problematical concept in QM, but unless you are going to invoke temporal loops around singularities there is no logical possibility that if A causes B then B also causes A. It would require a causal influence to travel BACK in time.”
When Spencer says “clouds influence temperature AND temperature influences cloudiness” he does NOT imply that a particular cloud traveled back in time, izen. Rather, it’s different clouds at different times. Get the concept?

1DandyTroll
September 6, 2011 11:46 am

Wow:
1 Journal
30 days
131 scientific papers
703 sciency pages
13 editors
Conclusion: Turning out papers like a real paper mill.
Note to self: bleeding hell, that’s why they charge for every paper. o_O

Bill Illis
September 6, 2011 11:48 am

Dessler’s results are essentially the same as Spencer’s.
I think Dessler is going to have some explaining to do.
It really comes down to the argument that error bars are needed, additional data needs to be included and clouds are only treated as a one-way feedback in the models (so Spencer should not be considering them as a bi-directional feedback/forcing)]. Big Deal.

HankH
September 6, 2011 11:53 am

Dessler’s argument that only temperature affects clouds is pegging my logic alert meter. Assume for the sake of a very simplistic equation CD = CN * T where the threshold of cloud nucleation is CN, cloud density is CD and T is temperature. They are all interdependent mathematical relationships. Dessler is essentially stating that any change in T will also change CN and CD. That makes perfect sense. However, given the relationship, any change to CN or CD should result in a change to temperature.
Forgiving my way over simplified math, Spencer and Braswell’s argument asserts:
CD = CN*T works
CN = CD/T works
T = CD/CN works
Spencer and Braswell’s bidirectional argument makes perfect logical sense. Dessler, on the other hand says only T can change and there exists no mechanism for CN or CD to change, thereby affecting T. That can make sense if there exists no mechanism that can affect CN (or CD for that matter) independent of T.
Yet we know that CN can be affected by the concentration of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) in the atmosphere – a relationship that is known to have more than one mechanism and mode. Dessler’s argument seems to unceremoniously dismisses the notion that any mechanism independent of temperature exists. Given that Spencer and Braswell’s argument makes perfect mathematical sense and Dessler’s argument ignores known mechanisms that can affect CN, I’ll have to side with Spencer and Braswell on this one. Dessler is wearing blinders.
One of the better discussions I’ve found on cloud condensation nucleation and its general affect on clouds and energy balance can be found here:
http://www.newmediastudio.org/DataDiscovery/Aero_Ed_Center/Charact/A.what_are_aerosols.html

Gary Hladik