# Wrong Again …

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Like anyone else, I’m not fond of being wrong, particularly very publicly wrong. However, that’s the price of science, and sometimes you have to go through being wrong to get to being right. Case in point? My last post. In that post I looked at what is known as “net cloud radiative forcing”, and how it changed with surface temperature. Net cloud forcing is defined as the amount of downwelling upwelling longwave radiation (ULR, or “greenhouse radiation”) produced by the cloud, minus the amount of solar energy reflected by the cloud (upwelling shortwave radiation, or USR). If net cloud forcing is negative, it cools the earth below.

I found out that indeed, as temperature goes up, the net cloud radiation goes down, meaning the clouds have a greater cooling effect. I posted it, and asked for people to poke holes in it.

What could be wrong with that? Well, I forgot a very simple thing, and none of the commenters noticed either. The error was this. Net cloud forcing is cloud DLR ULR minus shortwave reflected by that same cloud. But what I forgot is that reflected shortwave is the cloud albedo times the total insolation (downwelling solar shortwave radiation).

The catch, as you probably have noticed, is this. If the cloud doesn’t change at all and the total insolation rises, the net cloud forcing will become more and more negative. The upwelling reflected solar is the cloud albedo times the insolation. As insolation rises,  more and more sunshine is reflected, so the net cloud forcing goes down. That’s just math.

The problem is that as insolation rises, temperatures also rise. So by showing net cloud forcing goes down with increasing temperature, all I have done is to show that net cloud forcing goes down with increasing insolation … and duh, the math proves that.

However, recognizing that as the problem also gave me the solution. This is to express the net cloud forcing, not as a number of watts per square metre, but as a percentage of the insolation. That way, I could cancel out the effect of the insolation, and extract the information about the clouds themselves. Figure 1 shows the results of that analysis.

Figure 1. Net Cloud Forcing (W/m2) as a percentage of gridcell insolation (W/m2), monthly averages from 1985-1989. Average percentage results shown above each map are area-averaged. Missing data shown in gray. Cloud forcing data from ERBE, insolation data from NASA.

This is an interesting result, for a variety of reasons.

First, it is quite detailed, which gives me confidence in the geographical accuracy of my calculations. For example, the cooling effect of the thunderstorms in the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) is clearly visible in the Pacific as a horizontal blue line slightly above the equator, and can be seen in the Atlantic Ocean as well. The ITCZ is the great band of equatorial thunderstorms around the planet that drive the Hadley circulation. Remember that the majority of the  energy entering the climate system is doing so in the Tropics. Because of that, a few percent change in the equatorial net cloud forcing represents lots and lots of watts per square meter.

Second, the differing responses of the clouds over the land versus clouds over the ocean are also clearly displayed. In general, land clouds warm more/cool less than ocean clouds. In addition, you can see that while the clouds rarely warm the NH ocean, they have a large warming effect on the SH ocean.

Third, and most significant, look at the timing of the seasonal changes. Take December as an example. In the Northern Hemisphere this is winter, the coldest time of year, and the clouds are having a net warming effect. In the Southern Hemisphere summer, on the other hand, clouds are cooling the surface. But by June, the situation is reversed, with the clouds having a strong cooling effect in the warm North, while warming up the winter in the South. (Note that the NH warming effect is somewhat masked by the fact that there are large areas of missing data over the land in the NH winter, shown as gray areas. The effect of this on the global average is unknown. However, by using a combination of gridcells which are adjacent temporally and gridcells which are adjacent spatially, it should be possible to do an intelligent infill of the missing areas and at least come to a more accurate estimate of the net effect. So many paths to investigate … so little time.)

I have hypothesized elsewhere that the earth has a governor which works to maintain a constant temperature. One of the features of a governor is that it cannot be simple fixed linear feedback. By that, I mean it must act in two directions—it must act to warm the earth when it is cold, and to cool the earth when it is warm. This is different from linear negative feedback, which only works to cool things down, or linear positive feedback, which only works to warm things up. A governor has to swing both ways.

Figure 1 clearly shows that, as I have been saying for some time, including both the longwave and shortwave effects clouds act strongly to warm the earth when it is cold (red areas in Figure 1) and to cool the earth when it is warm (blue areas in Figure 1). In addition, as I have also said (without much evidence until now to substantiate my claim), the ITCZ has a large net cooling effect.

So that’s where I am up to right now in my investigation of the ERBE data. Always more to learn, I’ll continue to report my results as they happen, the story of the ERBE data is far from over. I’ll be in and out of contact for a bit, I’m around today but I’m hitchhiking up to Oregon tomorrow for a friend’s bachelor party, so don’t think I’m ignoring you if I don’t answer for a bit.

w.

PS – there are some interesting results that I’ll post when I have time. These involve looking at the phase diagrams for cloud forcing, temperature, and insolation. Having the insolation available allows the phase of both the temperature and the forcing to be compared to what is actually the underlying driving mechanism, the insolation.

Regarding temperature and insolation, the ERBE data shows what is well known, that the temperature changes lag the insolation changes by about two months in the Southern Hemisphere, and by one month in the Northern Hemisphere. This is because of the thermal inertia of the planet (it takes time to warm or cool), along with the greater thermal inertia of the greater percentage of ocean in the south.

The interesting part is this: the phase diagram shows that there is no lag at all for the changes in the clouds. They change right in step with the insolation, in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

This means, of course, that the clouds move first, and the temperature follows.

I’ll post those phase diagrams when I have some time.

[UPDATE: The phase diagrams, as mentioned. First, Figure 2 shows the temperature versus the insolation:

Figure 2. Insolation vs absolute temperature, from the equator to 65 N/S. The poles are not included because the ERBE cloud data only covers 65 N/S. This does not affect the phase diagrams. Black line shows no lag, gold line shows one month lag, red line shows two months lag between maximum insolation and maximum temperature. Numbers after month names show months of lag.

Since the driving signal (insolation) peaks in June and December, those months will be in the corners when the two cycles are aligned. In the Northern Hemisphere (upper panel), December is in the lower left corner with a lag of 1 month (gold line).

The Southern Hemisphere is half a cycle out of phase, so December is maximum insolation in the upper right corner. This occurs with a lag of two months (red line).

This verifies that temperatures lag insolation by a month in the Northern Hemisphere (the warmest time is not end June, when the insolation peaks) and two month in the southern hemisphere.

However, the situation is different with the clouds, as Figure 3 shows.

Figure 2. Insolation vs cloud forcing %, from the equator to 65 N/S. The poles are not included because the ERBE cloud data only covers 65 N/S. I suspect that the odd shape is a consequence of the missing gridcell data in the ERBE dataset, but that is a guess.

For the cloud forcing in both Hemispheres, there is no lag with regards to the insolation.

w.

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wsbriggs
October 11, 2011 3:17 pm

Great post as usual, even better when you improve the product. Is June really positive in the forcing? 2.3 where every other month is negative?

October 11, 2011 3:28 pm

Willis, I need a picture for the first part of the post. brain freeze.

October 11, 2011 3:36 pm

Of course it leads to the question of what causes a certain temperature to be ideal?
In other words, if water (in the form of clouds obviously) moderates temperatures, what causes it to keep temperatures for the most part mostly stable? Is there sweet temperatures so to speak that the Earth cycles through as the system can not maintain a certain temperature? (ice ages for instance..) and if so, this leads to further implications and necessity into studying the hydrological cycle in much more detail.
I have said it before, but we live on a water planet and our temperature has much more to do with this influence then anything else. Clouds not excluded of course.

Brian H
October 11, 2011 3:43 pm

My gob is suitably smacked. Dead obvious, but very powerful.

DirkH
October 11, 2011 3:46 pm

“This is different from simple negative feedback, which only works to cool things down, or positive feedback, which only works to warm things up.”
Willis, that’s wrong. Positive feedback is defined as amplifying the input stimulus; negative feedback is defined as dampening it (except for negative feedback with a gain > 1 which lands you in increasing oscillations but that’s another story).
Your governor is a classic nonlinear negative feedback. Please look at OpAmp circuitry and how positive and negative feedbacks work there.
[REPLY – I know how OpAmps work, I’m a ham radio operator from the old school, the problem is in my writing. By “simple” I mean linear, which is the kind of feedback envisioned in the current climate paradigm. I’ll change the head post to reflect that. – w.]

Hoser
October 11, 2011 4:00 pm

Perhaps a reason you didn’t get anyone to seriously examine your argument was you have no equations available to start chewing on. And if there is no data to run through them, well, we just have to take your word for it – tentatively. If you are serious about getting feedback, it might be worthwhile to provide a link to say an Excel spreadsheet. That will let us play with what you are looking at. It’s just like posting the software used in the model. Right?
Hope that helps.

Ken Methven
October 11, 2011 4:09 pm

Willis,
I hope some “real” scientists are paying attention to your work. You always make sense, have a consistent approach, and don’t allow the obvious conclusion to become prematurely induced into the questions you ask. What it is, is what it is, let it be, without funding.
Ken

Katio1505
October 11, 2011 4:09 pm

If Willis’ and Svensmark’s cloud theories can be cobbled together, perhaps there will be progress on our understanding of the climate system

Durr
October 11, 2011 4:11 pm

Once again we have proof that our side is more interested in the truth than being right the first time.
Bravo, WIllis. This is the real scientific process at work.

John Baltutis
October 11, 2011 4:19 pm

Typo in last part of paragraph:

I have hypothesized elsewhere that the earth has a governor which works to maintain a constant temperature. One of the features of a governor is that it cannot be simple feedback. By that, I mean it much act in two directions…

Should read By that, I mean it must act in two directions…

October 11, 2011 4:46 pm

yep willis
“Well, I forgot a very simple thing, and none of the commenters noticed either. The error was this. Net cloud forcing is cloud DLR minus shortwave reflected by that same cloud. But what I forgot is that reflected shortwave is the cloud albedo times the total insolation (downwelling solar shortwave radiation).
The catch, as you probably have noticed, is this. If the cloud doesn’t change at all and the total insolation rises, the net cloud forcing will become more and more negative. The upwelling reflected solar is the cloud albedo times the insolation. As insolation rises, more and more sunshine is reflected, so the net cloud forcing goes down. That’s just math.”
that was the thing I needed to visualize

October 11, 2011 4:48 pm

Willis;
Clouds warm the surface when it is cold, and they cool the surface when it is hot>>>
Thanks! I’ve been saying that for years! Of course my evidence was all anecdotal, but the conclusion seems pretty logical. Since clouds resist the movement of energy in both directions, their net effect has little choice but to be related to which side of them (top or bottom) is getting more energy. Hot days being a result of more “in coming” than “out going” it seems logical that they would have a cooling effect and vice versa. I’ve said many times that for those of us who grew up in a temperate climate, blue sky in January means bitter cold and blue sky in July means blazing hot.
The one piece that I don’t understand is how you concluded that:
“This means, of course, that the clouds move first, and the temperature follows…”
If the data that you have shows that the clouds move in lock step with insolation, is that a possible consequence of insufficient granularity in the data? I’m trying to envision the physical process that would result in this. If the insolation rises, it has to heat SOMETHING in order to cause increased cloud cover, does it not? I think it a given that the clouds cannot anticipate the increase in insolation, so the increase in cloud cover has to be a response to something caused by the insolation?

Layne Blanchard
October 11, 2011 4:56 pm

I found it peculiar that temp records for the 1930s showed not only record numbers of (all time) highs, but (if I recall correctly) a large number of (all time) low records. It seemed to be a period of extremes, after which, the trend changed direction, and global temps declined into the late 70’s. If clouds are a buffer, reducing them might subject us to greater extremes.

Bill Illis
October 11, 2011 5:00 pm

Cloud forcing is often defined simply as the radiation budget when clouds are present. Reflected shortwave increases 53 watts/m2 and downwelling longwave increases 32 watts/m2 (there are some different estimates of these two numbers and likely to be differences in the seasons and by latitude).
While your method is more pure, the radiation values are usually given in All-Sky and Clear-Sky so it relatively easy to separate out the Cloudy-Sky conditions and, hence, the net cloud forcing. One doesn’t have to get into Albedos. Cloud Albedos might be interesting however.

Steve
October 11, 2011 5:02 pm

Willis,
With your regards to your engine & governor theory, have you had any thoughts on ozone holes being some sort of ‘choke’ mechanism? I’m just a dumb mechanic but in regards to the ozone hole now forming over the north pole as opposed to the south, do you think this coulb be significant to the NH being warmer than the SH when we had cool times while we had an ozone hole down under during this time?

October 11, 2011 5:10 pm

Willis, do you have a mean surface pressure map you can over lay the cloud forcing on? It might be interesting.

NetDr
October 11, 2011 5:17 pm

Willis wrote
“This is different from linear negative feedback, which only works to cool things down, or linear positive feedback, which only works to warm things up. A governor has to swing both ways.”
**************
That doesn’t seem right to me. If defined as all of physics define it a negative feedback opposes the change in temperature up or down. A source of warming like more Insolation is opposed by more cooling clouds. A source of cooling is opposed by warming.
A positive feedback aids any warming or aids cooling if there is any.
I understand that climate science defines negative feedback relative to the Boltzmann no feedback value but that shouldn’t change the overall operation. The overall feedback is strongly negative feedback I believe it is by a factor of T^4.

Rob Dekker
October 11, 2011 6:08 pm

Willis,
Thank you for the adjustments you made, however, there are still some unclarities about what you are actually calculating here. Here is the first :
Net cloud forcing is defined as the amount of downwelling longwave radiation (DLR, or “greenhouse radiation”) produced by the cloud, minus the amount of solar energy reflected by the cloud (upwelling shortwave radiation, or USR).
This does not sound right. With “DLR produced by the cloud” do you mean the DIFFERENCE between DLR for the cloud MINUS DLR of clear sky ? If so, can you adjust the formula’s ?
And with “downwelling longwave” do you mean the IR radiated downward (from the cloud back to the surface) ?

Dave Worley
October 11, 2011 6:12 pm

I once worked in an office with the amusing motto: “We fix our mistakes.”
Hint: I never worked for Mann or Hansen.

October 11, 2011 6:14 pm

Willis;
The way I make sense of it is that the clouds respond on a minute-to-minute basis to the daily fluctuations in temperature. This is different from the slow warming and cooling of the seasons. But like I said, I’m just reporting. I don’t think it’s a granularity issue, the matchup on the phase diagram is good.>>>
For the record, not questioning what you are reporting 😉
A lag of even a minute or so would make sense to me. Perfectly in tandem…that’s an awful fast cause and effect!
That said, let’s go with “in tandem” for the moment. We’ve got at least some evidence that GCR’s affect cloud cover, which raises the question in my mind as to what frequencies of solar flux (and/or solar wind?) might exist that promote cloud formation. If that were the case, would not cloud cover rise and fall in tandem with insolation (assuming that frequence X rises and falls with insolation over all)? If that were the case, then cloud cover could well change not only in tandem with insolation, but even in advance of temperature change?

me
October 11, 2011 6:51 pm

So you don’t know the basics of what you post on? Who is surprised.

John Blake
October 11, 2011 6:54 pm

“Hitch-hiking to Oregon”? What, no oil-industry corporate jet with beautiful half-clad stewardi to lave your fevered brow?

October 11, 2011 7:06 pm

me,

October 11, 2011 7:07 pm

Thank you for the post Willis: not only technically very interesting but a good demonstration of how science is supposed to be done. I look forward to the phase diagrams.

Brian H
October 11, 2011 7:16 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
October 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm

The way I make sense of it is that the clouds respond on a minute-to-minute basis to the daily fluctuations in temperature. This is different from the slow warming and cooling of the seasons. But like I said, I’m just reporting. I don’t think it’s a granularity issue, the matchup on the phase diagram is good.

Hm. Since the upper atmosphere and cloud H2O is the first to intercept insolation, perhaps it gets “first cut” at causing system response. Especially since H2O is so much more efficient at such interception than other substances under consideration.

October 11, 2011 7:20 pm

As I said in the previous post comments, “A very significant discovery”.
But one that begs the question, ‘What does cause observed climate change (LIA, MWP), if cloud feedback is near instantaneous?’
It must be factors that affect the phase change from water vapor to water (droplets), ie cloud formation.

Geoff Sherrington
October 11, 2011 7:28 pm

“This means, of course, that the clouds move first, and the temperature follows…”
The temperature might well follow, but would not the rate of following depend on the thermal inertia of the material being affected? I’m finding it hard to visualise general models where there are temperature lags that can vary from near-instant to several years. I’m not disagreeing with the general analysis you give, just being cautious about how far to extend it.
An ignorant question that has bothered me for a long time. In the Tropics where I grew up, a cloud in front of the sun gave instant cool, I have never been inside the Arctic or Antarctic circles. Have you ever seen whether sudden cloud cover there leads to warming or cooling on the ground? (Again, this is about extending the model.)

hotrod (Larry L)
October 11, 2011 7:50 pm

Very interesting post!
If your assertion is correct (which I happen to think is very highly likely) that clouds act as a governor and warm when the earth is cold and cool when the earth is warm, then that would imply that during ice age periods something changes which modifies the limits of the governor.
If the new equilibrium temperature is lower (during an ice age), then the warming does not kick in as soon or as effectively and the cooling is stronger or more persistent or some similar change that has the effect of changing the set point of the “cloud thermostat”
Changes in absolute humidity, or available cloud seeding nuclei, cloud brightness or atmospheric optical thickness, (dust dimming) or some other essential factor that determines when and where clouds form must change to move the set point to a new lower setting.
Perhaps considering what could change that set point will point you to other interesting elements of how your thermostat works and what might change to trigger a cooling period or a warming cycle.
Lack of cloud cooling when it was warm might also explain hot spells like the dust bowl, but the real question would be what changed to modify cloudiness in that time period and that area?

Septic Matthew
October 11, 2011 8:06 pm

I am glad that you have disaggregated by month, latitude and longitude.

dp
October 11, 2011 8:11 pm

This is making me crazy – clouds don’t warm squat any more than a blanket warms you. You warm the blanket, that reduces the rate of heat loss from you to the room you are in.

Pops
October 11, 2011 8:13 pm

“…negative feedback is defined as dampening it…”
That’s only if the clouds bring rain, I suppose.

George E. Smith;
October 11, 2011 8:30 pm

“”””” kH says:
October 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm
“This is different from simple negative feedback, which only works to cool things down, or positive feedback, which only works to warm things up.”
Willis, that’s wrong. Positive feedback is defined as amplifying the input stimulus; negative feedback is defined as dampening it (except for negative feedback with a gain > 1 which lands you in increasing oscillations but that’s another story). “””””
Well sorry; with negative feedback, you can have any gain you want from zero to infinity.
It is only with positive feedback that you can’t exceed one without oscillation occurring.
That said, many purported “negative” feedback systems do oscillate; but only because the designer forgot to check to see that there were no circumstances, in which the feedback could become positive, while the gain exceeds unity.
This usually results from propagation delays, in either the forward amplification channel, or in the feedback path. Thermal time constant effects are a very common source of accidental positive feedback oscillation. Gee do climate systems involve any thermal delays ?

Martin Clauss
October 11, 2011 8:35 pm

Great post. Although I don’t comment a lot here, I have what seems an obvious question to me:
Where are there meteorology/climatology students, or post-grads, or PhDs, in the research/academic/real world, that could team with Willis in order to answers these questions/provide data or resources/, etc. to help solve these issues?
. . is this too much to ask . . ?

Septic Matthew
October 11, 2011 8:38 pm

Willis: NCF = Cloud DLR -Cloud USR
where NCF is net cloud forcing, DSR is downwelling longwave radiation, and USR is upwelling shortwave radiation.

typo? DLR is downwelling longwave radiation?
It looks like you need at least one more refinement, namely day vs. night. Then the nonlinear relationship of cloud NCF% to insolation might show something.

P.G. Sharrow
October 11, 2011 8:45 pm

Clouds are an important part of the governor. The most important ingredient of which is water vapor. The temperature, vapor pressure point of water is the thermostat that determines dew point and therefor cloud formation and dispersal at altitude / latitude. The more moisture in the atmosphere, the greater effectiveness of clouds on the energy in and out. pg

Rob Dekker
October 11, 2011 8:52 pm

Willis, I see that many of your commenters are confused about the difference between cloud forcing and cloud feedback.
What you are showing (even though your definition is wrong) is clouds forcing : the cooling effect of the planet because of the existence of clouds.
Ramanathan et al 1989 used ERBE to show that cloud forcing is negative (in the range of -18 W/m^2. That is the ‘cooling’ effect of clouds on the planet, and numerous other papers have confirmed that. Clouds cool the planet by some 18 W/m^2,
This does NOT mean that cloud feedback is negative. For feedback, you have to show that cloud forcing CHANGES if the planet gets warmer, and quantify how much.
So what you are showing has been known for 22 years (using the same ERBE data you use), and tells NOTHING about cloud feedback. (so any assertions that this data shows that clouds are a “thermostat” or so are simply incorrect).

eyesonu
October 11, 2011 8:54 pm

Thanks Willis. I like your approach.
This is one of those posts that I am going to have to read a couple of times.

October 11, 2011 8:55 pm

Martin Clauss;
Where are there meteorology/climatology students, or post-grads, or PhDs, in the research/academic/real world, that could team with Willis in order to answers these questions/provide data or resources/, etc. to help solve these issues? >>>
They are awaiting written permission from Trenberth confirming they won’t have to resign their positions, give up their research grants, or return their degrees if they get involved. Kellog’s declined comment.

Scott
October 11, 2011 9:25 pm

What is “Insolation” as you use the term?

dp
October 11, 2011 9:36 pm

Willis – when clouds “warm the earth”, where does the heat come from? (hint for the impatient: Trick question – clouds are passive). Clouds prevent the earth from cooling as fast as it would if there were no clouds. Clouds have no ability to create energy, therefore heat. It is just slightly beyond a semantic difference. Sun: Source of energy. Clouds: insulator.
Let’s continue.

October 11, 2011 9:36 pm

Willis Eschenbach Stop being an ass! OK your smart! 🙂

eyesonu
October 11, 2011 9:50 pm

@ Willis
Read it again. Excellent post. The graphs are complex and takes a little study to understand, but necessarily so. Many less ‘comfortable’ with graphic presentations will be lost there. I don’t know how you could convey the data any better.
I like your approach to percentages as opposed to numeric values. Much more informative on overall picture.
Clouds, the last frontier?

October 11, 2011 9:52 pm

Taking the simplistic view of a single cloud (mathematical limits of a sort): The solar radiation that contributes to the formation of a cloud for the most part bypasses that same cloud;is minimally reflected by that cloud. When the sun comes up, it shines under every cloud–cloud shadows fall out in space, not on land or sea, so no heat disruption from reflection. And while the sun’s radiation is admittedly minimal albeit growing as the morning progresses, just once a day does each spot on the earth experience maximum incidence angle–before or after that the sun’s energy falls a significant distance laterally from any cloud that may be in the way; for the most part, a cloud has no influence on the thermal energy that forms it.
So wouldn’t this spherical geometry and the fact that clouds are elevated make clouds secondary in the system? You say:

“This means, of course, that the clouds move first, and the temperature follows.”

But on a daily basis, my little cloud starts with no shading function whatsoever, and it declines again to zero as the sun sets. And because temperature is a function of the sun, it seems temperature would move first, followed by clouds.

October 11, 2011 10:02 pm

Scott says:
October 11, 2011 at 9:25 pm
What is “Insolation” as you use the term?>>>
noun ~ When you are impervious to insolence, you are said to be well insolated, or to have insolation. Mann’s considers tree ring data that doesn’t show a hockey stick pattern to be insolent. He wrote a computer program that was designed with insolation to any other data.
adjective ~ opposite of insolvent. Mann and Trenberth earn sufficient money from consulting fees that they are unlikely to become insolvent. They however do not have Al Gore’s level of insolation either in monetary wealth or body type.
adjective2 ~ as in unable to solve. Trenberth considers the missing heat to be insoluble, insulting, and incredible. The missing heat is insolated from discovery. Similar to isolated, invisible and incredibly-tragic.
No, wait… oh yeah, its the measure of the sun’s energy flux. watt/m2.

October 11, 2011 10:29 pm

Willis,
Please note I intend no offence. Feel free to squash me like bug, if you wish. However : –
If you place anything at all between a source of heat e.g. the Sun, and an object, e.g. the surface of the Earth, the object will not miraculously heat up. It cannot and will not. The temperature is maximal when exposed to the direct radiation from the heat source. Placing some sort of magic gas between the radiation source and the body will not cause the body’s temperature to rise.
It doesn’t matter if you talk about thermostats, rheostats or aerostats. You can analogise and conduct thought experiments until your brain explodes. You can try with ethane or methane or carbon dioxide, it makes no difference.
I have seen diagrams of bouncing balls, coloured arrows, scales, springs, big letters and numbers and all the rest, until my eyeballs spin. You can subject me to Fourier transforms, fourth order derivatives, vector calculus, the Riemann hypothesis, until I scream for mercy.
The physics won’t change. And yes, I am aware that all bodies above absolute zero radiate heat. That presumably is how we establish they are not at absolute zero.
The atmosphere appears to have a mild insulating effect. This makes the Earth’s surface a little warmer during the night, and a little cooler during the day, than it would be in the absence of atmosphere a la the Moon. Clouds “block” radiation by reflection. Therefore, clouds can reflect insolation during the day, and reflect “reverse insolation” (outgoing heat) during the night.
There is no “magic” required. Anybody who believes in some magic “additive” effect of greenhouse gases, should join one of the many Over Unity forums. They have plethora of diagrams, formulas, calculations etc., to prove perpetual motion is possible, and plenty of tinfoil hat conspiracy theories to explain why perpetual motion machines don’t actually work.
Just like the AGW theories that assign magic properties to CO2. Does anybody stop to consider that Man’s activities generate heat, and in most cases CO2 results from burning something? In other words CO2 results from living and combustion, which is how we generate most of our energy for industrial and domestic use.
If you lift a ball, your muscles generate heat. This results from cellular activity, and you will eventually purge CO2 as a combustion product from your body via the lungs. Some energy is stored in the ball as potential energy. Drop the ball and the energy is dissipated as heat energy as the ball loses energy and comes to rest. The activities of Man generate lots of heat, including the heat from atomic power plants and submarines. Wind generators create heat – losses in bearings, conversion, line losses, and eventual conversion to kinetic energy or direct heating.
Luckily, heat radiates. Stop producing heat, and the effects are lost to the near absolute zero of outer space in short order.
There is NO greenhouse effect that can magically warm the Earth, Never was, never will be.
Thanks.

Eric H.
October 11, 2011 10:47 pm

Let me see if I have this correct.
Winter time no clouds: Cold and dry
Summer time no clouds: Hot and dry
Winter time clouds: Warmer and wet
Summer time clouds: Cooler and wet
This is obvious and observable.
So then if the tropics have more clouds than the poles and the tropics are always warm then clouds would have an obvious total net global cooling effect (forcing or feedback take your pick).
Is this too obvious to be true?

Legatus
October 11, 2011 10:58 pm

If clouds are a buffer, reducing them might subject us to greater extremes.
If the above is true, then…
So, lets see what this means in terms of Global Warming, Climate Change, or Climate Disrution.
For Warming, it means that the governor will kick in and reduce the warming of increased CO2 to below what we need to worry about.
For Change, more CO2, more heat, more evaporation, more clouds, less change.
For Disrution, less change means less disruption, smaller temperature swings even in short time frames.
You may have just caused the whole CAGW movement here to plum run out of names.

Ken Stewart
October 11, 2011 11:05 pm

Your simplistic view is egocentric- you are looking at the sun and cloud from your point of view whereas the sun shines on a whole hemisphere at a time- at an angle of 90 degrees over the tropics increasing to 180 degrees to the north south east and west.
Where I live in the tropics, during the day a cloud makes it cooler; at night cloud keeps it warmer. But also higher humidity has a similar effect at night even without cloud, and in daytime with high humidity, while it is terribly muggy, the temperature is less (just doesn’t feel that way!). It’s complicated.

Bob Diaz
October 11, 2011 11:07 pm

RE: Like anyone else, I’m not fond of being wrong, particularly very publicly wrong. However, that’s the price of science, and sometimes you have to go through being wrong to get to being right.
I think it’s reasonable to expect that what may seem correct at the time, ends up being flawed. In other words, no one bats 1,000.
Making a mistake, later discovering it, and correcting it, that’s one thing, but making a mistake and then “hiding the decline”, that’s another. The first person has my respect, the second person is shameful.

Martin Clauss
October 11, 2011 11:13 pm

davidmhoffer says:
October 11, 2011 at 8:55 pm . . .
Oh, silly me, I should have realized that, shouldn’t have I . . . 🙂
Seriously, though, sure would like to see this idea get expanded and researched more – wonder if Dr. Spencer could help ( . . he seems to like to work with clouds . . ) – ref his recent posts . . .

Baa Humbug
October 11, 2011 11:41 pm

This is great work Willis. I appreciate the time and effort it takes to prepare and present these. (and envy the internal excitement you must experience doing the work)
The thing that hits me at first glance is the size of the numbers we’re dealing with with respect to clouds.
Then we compare that to the size of the numbers we’re dealing with with respect to 2 x CO2. A small margin of error in clouds easily overshadows a large margin of error in 2 x CO2. (I think I expressed myself ok there?)
I know where my research time and resources would be directed to.
p.s. warms in winter cools in summer eh? Substitute the word CO2 for clouds and the statement is still true.

Legatus
October 11, 2011 11:43 pm

If clouds are a buffer, reducing them might subject us to greater extremes.
I have a solution to the ‘naming problem”, “Climate Boredom”.
More CO2, more heat, more evaporation, more clouds, less temeprature swings of all kinds. Enough clouds, the winters will be warm, the summers cool, nothing will ever change…
We will all get so bored with the undending, dreary monotony of the weather that we will all be tempted to commit ritual suicide.
Quick, cut CO2!

Rob Dekker
October 11, 2011 11:56 pm

Willis : I have shown that when the planet gets colder, cloud forcing increases, and that when the planet gets warmer, clouds act to cool it.
I’m sorry Willis, but you most certainly did NOT show that at all.
What you did was take the cloud forcing at each pixel (which we know a negative number on average) and divided it by the insolation at each latitude (which we know is a positive number). So result is a negative number for each pixel, which you then plot.
That’s still the ‘forcing’ and not the ‘feedback’.
To show negative feedback, you cannot simply divide, but you need to take the derivative : You need to show that if the surface temperature goes up that the forcing goes down (becomes more negative).
For example, you could show that over a full year, that the most negative (most cooling) cloud forcing occurs in the tropics. That would suggest negative feedback. Well, lets see what ERBE tells : here is a plot of the ERBE results from a full year (1989) :
And, surprise, surprise, the most cooling (most negative cloud forcing) occurs in the cooler (higher latitudes) regions, which suggests that clouds amplify temperature change, which hints at positive cloud feedback.
Ramanathan also hinted at positive cloud feedback from these ERBE results when he wrote :
For example, during past glaciations a migration toward the equator of the field of strong, negative cloudradiative forcing, in response to a similar migration of cooler waters, could have significantly amplified oceanic cooling and continental glaciation.
Now I don’t want to by sarcastic here, but you started with the wrong definition of cloud forcing, then confused forcing and feedback, then used the wrong math and finally interpreted your results incorrectly. It looks like you may need to write another post called “Wrong again..”

October 12, 2011 12:01 am

Please forgive me if I come off completely obtuse, since I read this site out of curiosity, and not because this is my field of study. My background is Mechanical Engineering and HVAC. The effects you described reminded me of something I was taught about passive building techniques for cooling and heating of buildings, be it a Clerestory or an over hang on the southern side (for us NH people) of a building. This is a link to a slide show presentation I searched for on Google that can explain it far better than I, page 14 is the money graphic.
http://phobos.ramapo.edu/~bmakofsk/energysociety/Passive%20Solar%20Design.ppt
So the first thing that popped into my head when you showed the graphics with the clouds having the opposite affects in the opposite hemispheres in the same time frames, was that what is occurring is something similar to the architectural shading techniques used on buildings.
Or an effect similar to using deciduous trees – provides shade in the summer, allows sun through in the winter. (same in effect not in application as deciduous trees have nothing to do with angle of incidence)
I’m not sure if this is a rabbit hole that everyone has been down before or not.
Regards,
Andrew

Rabe
October 12, 2011 12:06 am

dp, let’s say, your blanket is 3cm away from your skin. Nothing hinders your skin from emitting heat according to Boltzmann’s formular. The heat hits the blanket after 100ps (pico seconds) and its temperature increases. Nothing hinders the blanket to emit heat according to Boltzmann… in any direction, some of it hitting your skin after 100ps… which may lead to the impression that your skip doesn’t cool (after the blanket reached about the same temperature as your skin) but in fact both (skin and blanket) play sort of ping-pong.
HTH

Peter Miller
October 12, 2011 12:24 am

For all the critics here: Willis invited a review process by WUWT readers. He invited criticism, as he was searching for the truth – can you imagine an alarmist ‘climate scientist’ ever doing that?
As many tens of thousands were invited to comment, it can be seen as a genuine peer review process. It was not a closed circle pal review process so loved by ‘climate scientists’.
He also admitted he was wrong, something never done by ‘climate scientists’.
The concept of the Earth having some kind of self-correcting temperature governor over time has to be self-evident, or life on this planet would have ceased to exist many millions of years ago. I guess this perfectly obvious concept must be yet another of the grand heresies of the AGW cult.

Septic Matthew
October 12, 2011 12:25 am

Willis: I have shown that when the planet gets colder, cloud forcing increases, and that when the planet gets warmer, clouds act to cool it.
I think you have, in figure 1.
However, in figure 1 you compute the mean forcing across the whole globe. Could you compute those means by latitude bands: 65S -55S, ,,, 5S-5N, ,,, 55N-65N. The June + effect is confined to a very interesting band that contains little land. In ANOVA terms, you appear to have a nice latitude by month interaction with no main effects. However, you probably want a general linear model, with latitude linear or linear + quadratic(centered at 0, so 65S = -65), and with month represented by a cos(2*pi ([month]/12 – 6) ). (the phase, 6, is “estimated” by eyeball, since June and Dec are the peaks of S and H hemispheres, respectively. estimating it in this fashion allows you to use a general linear model. You have to reduce the residual df by 1, but that will affect the test statistics very little.) ANOVA may work, but you have many df for the model, whereas some parameterization like this has only 2 – 5. It sounds post-hoc since we have already seen the graph, but some of us already asked for disaggregation by latitude, and latitude by time is an obvious thing to model because of the tilt of Earth’s axis.
It took me multiple readings to figure out what you have done here. If I have figured it out. Probably this is not the last word on estimating/representing cloud cover, but it’s good. The hysteresis plots are good also, but I hope that eventually you can disaggregate the latitudes more. As time goes by, everyone will want more detail: land vs water, relation to other climate fluctuations like ENSO, Pacific and Atlantic Oscillations, night vs day, test of serial correlations in the residuals.
A Deming quote: Statistics conceal the information in the data; graphics reveal the information in the data.
This is pretty neat.

Septic Matthew
October 12, 2011 12:38 am

Willis: See how at any moment the clouds are warming the cool parts, and cooling the warm parts? You are right, that’s not the feedback at all, because as I have pointed out, it’s not about feedback. What you are looking at in Figure 1 is a different bird from feedback. It is a governor.
“Governor” again implies teleology, like “Gaia”, or “intelligent design”. If current increased clouds are a result of recent warming, and if they result in cooling, then clouds are a feedback. If current reduced clouds resulted from recent cooling, and if the reduction results in warming, then they are a feedback. Each way, they are a (probably nonlinear) negative feedback.
If I remember correctly, I wrote a similar comment after your report on your TAO/TRITON analyses. After reading those, I am surprised that you can get this result with monthly aggregate data.
In my opinion (pending another self-discovery of a blatantly obvious (*) flaw), this is better work than Andy Dessler’s 2010 Science paper.
* yeh, right — obvious to the master perhaps.
sincerely,
Matt

Septic Matthew
October 12, 2011 12:46 am

Rob Dekker: So result is a negative number for each pixel, which you then plot.
If I understand the scale beneath each globe in figure 1, the number is not negative for each pixel at each time. It’s negative in the summer and positive in the winter, at each location. To average across the year would really obliterate the signal.

Legatus
October 12, 2011 12:48 am

I noticed a curious thing…
Just off the west coast of South American, in the center, and off the west coast of Africa, a bit below center, there are areas where the net effext is always cooling. Looking at reference pages show these areas always seem to have sea surface temperatures below the average of the other waters at that latitude.
The question is, what would cause this to be always true, all the year round? Is there a certain type of cloud always at these two spots which always creates this net negative effect? Is there some other effect, say a current or some such, which creates this year long pattern? How do these spots effect the weather/climate/currents etc?

October 12, 2011 1:40 am

Legatus, interesting side note. As a rule in the tropics you would find a cooling process from clouds regardless, but this would tend to go from a large effect to a minor effect depending on dry or wet season. (2 in each year) But regardless, the effect in the tropics is always going to be strongly cooling..with variations going from strong cooling effect to weak cooling effect simply depending on season.
But the effect at these locations although they do change have lesser changes then lots of others around the tropics. Combined with lower sea temps. could very well tell us something interesting.
A data artifact is possible as always, but I am probably thinking we will see an increased effect from clouds from yea more clouds of course. The question to ask yourself is this: What mechanisms could cause those two factors? (and no (or very little) variance in cloud cover between dry/wet seasons.
Just trying to get you to think, I thought of a couple that could cause this mechanism, and yes one of em does involve currents, but their involvement is rather unknown whether it causes the increased cloud cover or is possibly caused by said increased cloud cover. Just an idea really and letting you do the thinking on your catch there.

EternalOptimist
October 12, 2011 2:02 am

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
– Theodore Roosevelt.

October 12, 2011 2:17 am

“This means, of course, that the clouds move first, and the temperature follows.”
Now, how about some data linking total global cloud quantities to the average latitudinal position of the surface air pressure systems and especially the jet streams ?
I think the whole lot shifts poleward and/or becomes more zonal from solar and oceanic changes to allow more energy into the oceans so that the system warms which accelerates energy to space through a more active water cycle so that the faster or larger water cycle offsets the warming.
The whole lot shifts equatorward and/or becomes more meridional from solar and oceanic changes to allow less energy into the oceans so that the system cools which slows energy loss to space through a less active water cycle so that the slower water cycle tries to offset the cooling as best it can until the system starts to warm again from further solar and oceanic variations.
Ithink that accords with Willis’s observations as above.

Joel Heinrich
October 12, 2011 2:30 am

Willis: Re: Fig. 2 Phase diagramm: “Black line shows no lag, gold line shows one month lag, red line shows two months lag between maximum insolation and maximum temperature. Numbers after month names show months of lag.”
No, it does not. NH: Black line shows a 1-2 months lag, gold line shows a 0-1 month lag and red line shows max temp _preceding_ max insolation by 1 month. SH: black shows 2 month lag, gold shows 1 month lag, and red shows 0 month lag but also more preceding than lagging.

Tenuc
October 12, 2011 2:40 am

Thanks, Willis, for another clear and informative post. Understanding how our climate can self-regulate over long periods to avoid temperature extremes is important to our overall understanding of climate. It could also provide some important supporting evidence for the Svensmark hypothesis.
I’d be interesting in hearing your thoughts as to why ocean clouds cool more – warm less than land clouds? Also why the SH lag is around one month longer that that seen in the NH?

wsbriggs
October 12, 2011 2:55 am

Very apt quote Eternal, very apt!
Willis, the missing data could well bring the numbers closer to zero. This is an extremely clear exposition and shows what thought, as opposed to blindly “chucking card decks at the problem” (yeah, I know that no one uses card decks anymore) can do. With all the available data, anyone really interested in the climate should be peering at the sky, the ocean, and back at the data to make sense of it.
Your time in the tropics was certainly well spent in observations, now we get to see a thinker apply that knowledge. It’s a privilege and a joy to ride along.

wsbriggs
October 12, 2011 2:59 am

Note bene, I still have to think that looking at June, July, and August there is something funny about the SH near to Antarctica. June and August have larger missing data regions than July. WUWT.

Joel Heinrich
October 12, 2011 3:03 am

“black line is zero months lag, that is to say, comparing one months insolation to that same month’s temperature. Gold compares one month’s insolation to the following month’s temperature.”
Thank you, now I understand what you did there. I just don’t know why you did it. The black line shows for the SH that the peak insolation is in Dec. while the peak temp. is in Feb. So there is a 2 month lag, which is what you said. Likewise for the 1 month lag in the NH. Just what did you need the gold and red line for?

Rob
October 12, 2011 3:38 am

Willis : I’m totally uninterested in annual averages, Rob, they are a snare and a delusion. The clouds are warming the surface during the cold part of the year, and cooling the surface in the warm part of the year.
Willis, are yyou are still confused.
For starters, clouds are warming the surface during the night, and cooling the surface during the day. Neither of which tells anything about cloud forcing (which talks about cooling to space rather than warming the surface), but either way, why would you think that taking the monthly average (as you did) is all fine but taking the annual average is “snare and a delusion” ? Does radiation have some magical property that shows up only at monthly averages, but not at daily or annual average ?
Second, you keep on using the wrong definition of “cloud forcing”. You define it in terms of “downwelling longwave radiation” (DLR), but in reality, cloud forcing refers to “upwelling” longwave radiation, or the IR radiation that escapes to space (cooling the planet) rather then to the surface (warming the surface). Maybe this is why you got so confused with your math and get conclusions that contradict observations.
Willis : You keep thinking of it as feedback. It is not. It is a shift in cloud types and altitudes and colors as the earth warms and cools. The important thing is, when the earth cools, the clouds act to warm it, and when the earth warms the clouds act to cool it.
You call this conclusion a “a governor which works to maintain a constant temperature”, I call it “negative feedback”. As I pointed out, your conclusion is incorrect as a result of your now abundant amount of mistakes. To show “a governor which works to maintain a constant temperature” or “negative feedback”, you cannot simply divide the cloud forcing by insolation, but you need to take the temperature derivative : You need to show that if the surface temperature goes up that the forcing goes down (becomes more negative). And ERBE results show the opposite (positive feedback) from what you present, as was already noted by Ramanathan, 22 years ago.

Espen
October 12, 2011 3:44 am

I really like your observation of how clouds warm only in the respective hemispheric winters. Of course I already knew this, after all I have been camping outdoors in Norwegian mountains in January and know very well that a starry night is much, much colder than a cloudy night… But it reminded me of something I’ve wondered about before: If AGW is right, shouldn’t CO2 warming be most obvious in those clear winter nights? I had a look at the GISS anomaly maps, with all the flaws of the GISS temperature sets, and indeed Arctic winters have warmed more than Arctic summers. But then the Arctic is the difficult case because of those oceanic cycles that makes it virtually impossible (Tamino would of course disagree here ;-)) to isolate the contributions of the “antropogenic forcings”. So I thought, why not look at the Antarctic continent during the austral summer and winter? And looking at http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/do_nmap.py?year_last=2011&month_last=08&sat=4&sst=1&type=anoms&mean_gen=0603&year1=2001&year2=2011&base1=1951&base2=1980&radius=1200&pol=pol (and the corresponding chart for the Antarctic summers), it looks to me like the last 10 winters show a cooling tendency in the heart of Antarctica, while the summers show a slight warming. So where’s the CO2 warming then?

Joel Heinrich
October 12, 2011 4:05 am

Legatus: “The question is, what would cause this to be always true, all the year round? Is there a certain type of cloud always at these two spots which always creates this net negative effect? Is there some other effect, say a current or some such, which creates this year long pattern? How do these spots effect the weather/climate/currents etc?”
Yes, there are cold water currents (Benguela in Africa and Humboldt in South America) that result in low level clouds reflecting sunlight.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ocean_currents_1943.jpg
http://www.sat24.com/image2.ashx?region=af&time=201110120945
(c) by sat24.com

Richard S Courtney
October 12, 2011 4:07 am

wsbriggs:
Re. your comment October 12, 2011 at 2:55 am;
SECONDED.
Richard

Richard S Courtney
October 12, 2011 4:16 am

Rob:
I have a question concerning your post addressed to Willis at October 12, 2011 at 3:38 am.
Among other sureal and unsubstantiated assertions, your post says to Willis;
“Willis, are yyou are still confused. ”
and
“you keep on using the wrong definition of “cloud forcing”. ”
and
“As I pointed out, your conclusion is incorrect as a result of your now abundant amount of mistakes.”
My question is;
Are you joking or dissembling?
Richard

Keith Gordon
October 12, 2011 4:20 am

Does this help anyone! I have observed this many times on clear nights with stable air, the temperature drops, when cloud passes overhead the temperature rises, it does not stay the same i.e. cloud cover not only stops the temperature from falling further, but increases it, just a simple observation.
Keith Gordon

Dave Springer
October 12, 2011 4:26 am

@willis
No, the major mistake you make and that you continue to make is that you treat all radiation as generic power sources measured in Watts/m2 and all surfaces as generic absorbers. The fact of the matter is that when a cloud covers a snowfield the shortwave that is blocked has no effect because it would be been reflected in any case. Albedo matters. The ocean on the other hand has an albedo close to 0 so when a cloud covers that it deprives the surface of a tremendous amount of shortwave energy. But on yet another hand there’s a huge difference between rock (albedo 15%) and ocean (albedo 0%) that goes beyond albedo. The ocean can d)store (buffer) huge amounts of energy for undetermined (not well understood) periods of time from months to perhaps thousands of years while rock retain daytime heating for just a matter of hours. DLR also has game changer considerations with different surfaces. Rocks are great absorbers and emitters of DLR. Water is not. Water is heated by shortwave and near infrared from the sun just like rocks but it doesn’t give up the heat predominantly by DLR as is the case for rocks. The ocean gives it up by evaporation which has the effect of reducing the role of DLR to insignificance when compared to DLR on rocks.
Nothing is going to make sense in this controversy and no one’s predictions are going to pan out under the vast over-simplification represented by expressing energy purely in Watts and surfaces as generic gray bodies. The form of the energy and the nature of the surface makes all the difference in the world.

Dave Springer
October 12, 2011 4:49 am

Points to ponder:
We have had 12,000 years where the average surface temperature of the earth has been around 16C. Yet the global ocean has an average temperature of 3.9C. I can explain that and if you cannot then you can’t even begin to understand the earth’s climate. The earth’s climate is dominated by water in all its phases. Non-condensing greenhouse gases play only a very small role except for when the water cycle is shut down by global freezing. The liquid and vapor phases keep the earth’s temperature capped at a maximum that is comfortable for living things and so long as it remains liquid puts in a temperature floor as well. However, while the liquid and vapor phases exhibit negative feedback during rising temperatures the solid phase exhibits a positive feedback in falling temperatures. There IS a tipping point for the earth’s climate but the tipping point is from comfortably warm to unbearably cold. These are the facts and they are, being observed facts not theoretical predictions, beyond dispute.

GabrielHBay
October 12, 2011 5:21 am

I am really sorry, and the last thing I want to do is upset anyone, but since the ‘clouds warm’ is an integral part of the conclusions of this post, I have to humbly confess that I am with DP on this. To have stood outside on a cloudy night and to have felt the warming effect of clouds is anecdotal and not scientific. As a minimum, I would want to see the following: A cloudy, quiet day turning to a cloudy quiet night. Temperature reading at (say) 9pm. Somehow exclude wind/convection or any artificial mechanisms as a vehicle for imported heat. Temperature reading at (say) 5am the next morning turns out higher than the 9pm reading. Then one could postulate (but remember correlation is not causation) that the clouds caused warming. Unless proven otherwise, I am pretty much convinced that the 5am temp will be lower than the 9am temp. But the difference will be less than if the sky was clear. So, let’s be specific: clouds can slow down cooling but cannot ‘warm’. As such, they can have a nett warmer outcome, but they have not ‘warmed’ anything. Sorry if I am being too pedantic.

Pascvaks
October 12, 2011 5:26 am

Willis, you’re the best! While you’ve learned a lot, you’ve taught far more. I think you’re on to something, really.
For the impatient –
A’la Joni Mitchell and her song “Both Sides Now”
We’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions we recall.
We really don’t know clouds at all.
Sometimes ’tis better to ponder what our eyes and ears have taken in than to talk or raise small questions. Think about it. Please?

Bill Illis
October 12, 2011 5:47 am

You could also extend the data beyond the annual cycle.
Plot each data type across the whole time horizon.
Net cloud forcing, temperature, insolation by month (and then the same by different latitudes). See what type of changes have occured over time. [Pinatubo is in the middle and likely to impact the data].
I might also pick two near-by regions that have similar insolations (the Sahara at 15N versus Equatorial Africa). Clouds cool off the more cloudy equatorial region while leaving a smaller diurnal/seasonal cycle. Sahara is warmer overall but has a greater diurnal change from day to night and a greater seasonal cycle.

October 12, 2011 6:02 am

Empiric observation: Willis is as cool as net cloud forcing on a hot afternoon in the Pacific Inter – Convergence Zone. 🙂

hoojammyflip
October 12, 2011 6:25 am

Willis – thanks for all your hard work to keep genuine science moving…

paulhan
October 12, 2011 7:01 am

Fair play to you, Willis. When you first postulated the Thunderstorm thermostat, it sounded intuitively right. Now you’re doing the hard yards mathematically and it is strengthening your theory.
In a “governed” system, using percentages also seems more intuitive because the governing is being done in real time, rather than when a set point climatically is reached.
As for mistakes, we are the sum of our mistakes ultimately. We learn far more from mistakes than getting things right the first time. It’s how we react to them is what defines our character.

Steve Keohane
October 12, 2011 7:27 am

Thanks for keeping on top of this Willis. One thing I noticed in the graph in your first post was that the cooling when warm, and warming when cool effect was split by temperature. It appeared that sub-0°C (ice crystals), warm; while above 0°C (water vapor) cools. Yet these occur in the counter-intuitive seasons, ie. ice crystals form clouds when the surface is warm, and water vapor forms clouds when it is cold. Does this imply a difference in altitude of cloud formation seasonally?

Henry Galt
October 12, 2011 8:37 am

Doubly interesting. The elegance of the exposition also the thought that some of the comments gave me with regard to a conversation I had with Ulric Lyons some years back.
What if we took every yearly average: Jan > Dec, Feb > Jan, Mar > Feb through Dec > Jan (i.e. disregarding the calendar year for 11 of them).
What would those “averages” disclose compared one with another?
Not just for this topic either. e.g. I wonder what then would be “the warmest year evah”?
Just throwing it out there as I have zero experience with stats 8)

October 12, 2011 8:53 am

Willis: This is “on topic” believe it or not. When you talk about Op Amps, I remember a friend of mine, going to De-Vry Tech in Chicago. (I was going to a liberal arts school also in the area. He eventually got a BS EE and MS EE from U of MN, me BS ChemE, BS Metallurgy, MS Mech.) He showed me one time a set of Op Amps, a Triangle Wave generator, a Linear Resistor, and an Oscilliscope. Straight signal and you could easily use the linear resistor to compensate the triangle wave and keep the “spot” centered on the scope.
One Op Amp (one integrator, first order..) after about 1/2 hour to an hour you could learn to keep the “ball” centered.
Two Op Amps and it was IMPOSSIBLE.
Translation: In terms of the “bare” human mind, we can work with: 1. Directly linear effects, 2. Something of the “first order” response effects…with a LOT of practice and effort. BUT when we come to 3rd order or above, we can’t handle it. (With our “observational/coordination” skills.)
Therefore if the responses of the “climate” to various “forcings” are actually 3rd order or above (I suppect they are) the ONLY way to understand them will be with EXTENSIVE data analysis. And sometimes very involved.
This is the way you are heading, and I just caution you, because of that very “human” 1st and 2nd order effects “limit”, when you get to 3rd and 4th order, you’ll get a lot of people who will “tune out”.
Max
PS: I took my P.E. Exam in Electrical, and passed it. Due to some other educational background and work that I got into after graduating. So Op amps, Bode Plots, Nyquist Criteria, Z transforms, Laplace Transforms, etc. are all part of my mix.

Jeff D
October 12, 2011 8:54 am

I am hardly even classified as a layman in the realm of Climate Science. I have however been involved and interested virtually all forms of science and research for over 35 years. Well all but statistics, sorry guys your work is wonderful and needed but its like reading an accounting text.
Preface aside I have seen amateurs in almost every field contribute to an advancement. Why is it that amateurs in the field of climatology are publicly humiliated for even trying. When an amateur Astronomer makes a finding he/she is raised on the shoulders of the professionals and heralded as a innovator. Many times even when an amateur may be wrong they open doors to the truth by forcing the teachers to look down a path they traditional would not.
The vile comments I have seen focused on Willis for even trying is truly a sad statement for those who participate in this field.
If at all possible please check your ego’s at the door. It is blatantly clear to me that science of Climatology is probably the most misunderstood science of today. Views not indoctrinated by formal teachings may just be what is needed. (A new look at a question that has yet to be answered). Anyone who is really trying to learn doesn’t have a problem with critiques bring them one and all. If you have another view state it! This is how we all learn but do so in a way that wont make you look like an ass.

Owen
October 12, 2011 8:57 am

I love that a number of commenters are stuck on the IPCC paradigm. If clouds respond to insolation rather than temperature, things look different – IPCC only allows for temperature to influence clouds and not well at that. The data may support one view, the other, or some combination. We will never know until the ideas are explored. Science can not be shut down by one appeal to authority paradigm. In short, no matter how much an authority Aristotle was, barnacles NEVER become geese, yet the appeal to authority claimed it must be so. We are now at a point where the IPCC is the equivalent of Aristotelian scientists defending the indefensible.

October 12, 2011 9:03 am

“So, let’s be specific: clouds can slow down cooling but cannot ‘warm’. ”
Hmm. Lets think about that for a second. Air, clouds, the earth, water have thermal mass. They can absorb heat. This heat is radiated from the body.. this is a universal principle.
So if an area had been without cloudcover on a cool night, and a cloud moves over an area, did that not just have the effect of adding a heating source to the area that had not previously been present? It’s not hot like the sun, but it has more themal mass than space.
So the cloud radiates heat downward, and the earth radiates heat upwards. The net effect is the change in heat content for the land mass. If the surface temperature is cooler than the cloud temperature (fast wind bringing a cloud from over the ocean), then it seems obvious that the cloud would actually warm the area up.
Am I wrong in my thinking? You seem to be coming from the assumption that the surface temperature is always higher, but I don’t think that’s neccessarily true in winter.

coldlynx
October 12, 2011 9:03 am

Phase shift of water may be one of the factors to explain what happend in Your statement: “clouds act strongly to warm the earth when it is cold and to cool the earth when it is warm”
Some of the explanation may be “Cloud forming act strongly to warm the earth when it is low insolation and to cool the earth when it is high insolation”
Cloud forming release latent heat and the process to load water vapor into the atmosphere use energy. When the temperature going down due to lack of insolation will latent heat be released,
During high insolation conditions are latent heat used to vaporise water into the atmopshere.
Focus are on cloud but maybe it is partly cloud and partly cloud forming.
That is a dynamic process which explain the different sign of the Net Cloud Forcing (W/m2) as a percentage of gridcell insolation (W/m2)

October 12, 2011 9:15 am

Willis!
I’m an idiot!
Earlier in the thread I asked about a physical mechanism that would result in cloud forcing having no lag compared to insolation. Of course there’s no lag! THERE SHOULDN’T BE ONE!
When the sun peaks over the horizon, there’s cloud, or there’s no cloud. If there is cloud, whatever effect that cloud has, is instantaneous. The CLOUD doesn’t change, the INSOLATION changes. The cloud is ALREADY THERE. Or isn’t. As the case may be.
So there are clearly mechanisms that drive cloud levels. But whatever the cloud level at any given time is, any change in insolation would be reflected by a change in cloud forcing compared to that insolation that would occurr (literaly) at the speed of light. If there WAS a lag, we’d have a conundrum.
The fact that there ISN’T a lag suggests you are on the right track.

October 12, 2011 9:27 am

Willis:
Tell interested parties to go to http://www.nengo.ca and download the Nengo Neural Network Simulator.
Plot the input and the output, use the slider to control the input. Keep the output a “Zero”.
I was wrong, took me about 2 minutes to master it!
Then put in #2 integrator. HA! Good luck. (Actually NOT quite the same as the demo my friend did 30 years ago. As his system had a Triangle Wave driver. In the Nengo case you ARE the driver.
Max

Septic Matthew
October 12, 2011 9:35 am

Dave Springer: The ocean on the other hand has an albedo close to 0 so when a cloud covers that it deprives the surface of a tremendous amount of shortwave energy.
It depends on the angle of incidence, hence on season and latitude.
What Willis has done is not a “mistake”, it is a step forward. Now that he has shown his work, others (including you) can take the next steps along with him.
Rob: For starters, clouds are warming the surface during the night, and cooling the surface during the day. Neither of which tells anything about cloud forcing (which talks about cooling to space rather than warming the surface), but either way, why would you think that taking the monthly average (as you did) is all fine but taking the annual average is “snare and a delusion” ? Does radiation have some magical property that shows up only at monthly averages, but not at daily or annual average ?
It is clear from looking at Figure 1 that taking annual averages would obliterate the signal. In other analyses (TAO/TRITON data) Willis has looked at hour-by-hour data, so he has never asserted that there is anything blessed or magical about monthly averages.
I predict that this work of Willis will have impact. It can be critiqued and refined, but I think that it can not be ignored.

October 12, 2011 9:41 am

Dave Springer;
No, the major mistake you make and that you continue to make is that you treat all radiation as generic power sources measured in Watts/m2 and all surfaces as generic absorbers. The fact of the matter is that when a cloud covers a snowfield the shortwave that is blocked has no effect because it would be been reflected in any case.>>>
Willis is doing a simply energy balance analysis Dave. If you’re read through the comments, you would note that he is proposing no driving physical mechanism to support his observations, he’s just reporting his observations. His observations are that cloud forcing varies in tandem with insolation. There’s no need to take into account ANY other factors to substantiate that the correlation exists and is significant.
It is like weighing a bucket of rocks. You can argue all day long that the bucket is filled with rocks of different sizes, shapes, and densities, and you would be right. Doesn’t change the weight of the bucket of rocks by a single gram.

October 12, 2011 9:43 am

@dp
“This is making me crazy – clouds don’t warm squat any more than a blanket warms you”
I’m with you. There is a difference between adding heat and slowing the process of losing heat. The precisely correct terminology is that clouds can, when they appear at night, slow the cooling that would otherwise happen, resulting in warmer temperatures than would have existed without them.
But that’s VERY long. So we need something shorter that doesn’t imply that the clouds somehow add heat.

October 12, 2011 9:44 am

Dave Springer;
These are the facts and they are, being observed facts not theoretical predictions, beyond dispute.>>>
Ah, I see. A “the science is settled” variant but from a coolist perspective instead of warmist perspective. Sigh. Was only a matter of time….

Septic Matthew
October 12, 2011 9:45 am

Willis,
Another recommendation: In figure 2, it would be informative to do both plots with the same vertical axis. We axis readers can spot the message, but the impact of the graph would be more immediate, something that graphs are good at.

Septic Matthew
October 12, 2011 9:48 am

kcrucible: So if an area had been without cloudcover on a cool night, and a cloud moves over an area, did that not just have the effect of adding a heating source to the area that had not previously been present? It’s not hot like the sun, but it has more themal mass than space.
So the cloud radiates heat downward, and the earth radiates heat upwards. The net effect is the change in heat content for the land mass. If the surface temperature is cooler than the cloud temperature (fast wind bringing a cloud from over the ocean), then it seems obvious that the cloud would actually warm the area up.

Well said.
It is astonishing how many people there are who post regularly and who do not grasp this.

GabrielHBay
October 12, 2011 10:00 am

@kcrucible: Well, perhaps in certain exceptional circumstances you may be right about clouds being warmer than the surface. I have no specific information on that, but I would certainly be VERY surprised if it were a common occurrence. Certainly not sufficiently so to be relevant in the context of a general hypothesis? But people much more knowledgeable than me seem to be quite happy to accept the “warming cloud” idea. I stand bemused, with my technical instincts still itchy on this little issue. Otherwise I do find the post very intruiging in its illustration of the immense complexity of the entire subject… and the settled evidence that the science is FAR from settled.. 🙂

GabrielHBay
October 12, 2011 10:13 am

@Septic Matthew: Hmmm… do you have some special knowledge about this? In my ignorance I would strongly suspect that any cloud warmer than the surface (ok maybe not over snow or ice surface) would most likely evaporate and disappear? I think that the idea that clouds may warm the earth because they are warmer than the earth is a REALLY suspect idea. A non-starter. But I am happy to be expertly informed otherwise…

GabrielHBay
October 12, 2011 10:33 am

@The Monster: Ah! Another voice of sanity! Thank you thank you… I felt so alone (ok, other than for DP)

Septic Matthew
October 12, 2011 10:35 am

GabrielHBay: In my ignorance I would strongly suspect that any cloud warmer than the surface (ok maybe not over snow or ice surface) would most likely evaporate and disappear?
Everything takes time. As the unfrozen water vapor in the cloud cools by radiation, it warms the earth, and settles down as dew. Of course, it’s more complicated than that. But “evaporate and disappear” is a brief and slightly misleading phrase for a time-consuming process.

GaryP
October 12, 2011 10:38 am

Very nice work. In a previous post you discussed the daily cycles of clouds using the daily temperature cycle measure their effect. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/08/25/taotriton-take-two/
This post shows that clouds are cooling on a monthly average and only have a regional warming effect where there is little insolation around the winter solstices. If you could find direct measurements of clouds during the daily cycle across representative areas of the globe you would would have even more evidence to confirm the Thermostat Hypothesis. Clouds could only be warming on a daily basis if there were more of them at night than during the day. It would be good if a hourly average of cloud cover over the daily cycle could be teased out of the ERBE data.

October 12, 2011 10:44 am

As some have mentioned, I think it is important to not look at the units being used, as this is just used because it is the measurement used by the satellites. Whether or not this paradigm is a correct measurement of the system is really besides the point when discussing subject such as this which take raw data and just show what is happening over a certain time period.
The largest thing so far that has been seen was pointed out by Willis himself.
Namely, that there is a lot of missing data that could actually change the results quite a bit due to the arbitrary timing of said results. This would be interesting to read about how the data changes if you attempt to fill it in. Does this eventually have an effect on say feedbacks and their effects? I would hazzard to guess it could “fine-tune” the results so to speak, but nothing drastically would be changed since the longer-term averaging tends to filter out most (but not all) of the (noise in the data.)
I think Rob for instance misses the point that this is a seaonal (monthly) look at the data that attempts to show the warming and cooling influence (forcings) on a shorter time-scale then feed-backs. This is important because it shows how the water in the atmosphere via clouds is actually moderating the temperature of the Earth differently depending on the seasons. Why does this matter? Well it has been known for awhile, but I don’t think a study was ever done that showed how this works and to what effect.
Water as a moderater has been known for years. I use that term because that is what water is used for in nuclear reactions for instance because it is very good at that. Another term such as Governer of the system works too, as a fine control knob for instance.
It would only stand to reason that the effect of this is less differences between seasons (temperature-wise) which goes to keeping the Earth in balance for life. What could be interesting further study (after some refinements of course) would be to looking at how this changes as the global temperature goes up and down.

GabrielHBay
October 12, 2011 10:48 am

@Septic Matthew: “and settles down as dew” Huh? Dew comes from clouds? Now I have heard everything! I learnt in primary school that dew is condensation from oversaturated surface air coming into contact with something cooder…. My teacher was wrong? For 60 years I believed… The travesty!

GabrielHBay
October 12, 2011 10:51 am

Sorry, cooler not cooder… the shock was too much for me…

Septic Matthew
October 12, 2011 11:06 am

Dew comes from clouds?
That isn’t what I wrote. As the water vapor in the clouds cools (it isn’t all frozen ice), it settles downward. When the frozen ice in the clouds acquires heat and melts, it also settles groundward.

October 12, 2011 11:21 am

“I have no specific information on that, but I would certainly be VERY surprised if it were a common occurrence. Certainly not sufficiently so to be relevant in the context of a general hypothesis? ”
Snow-covered land should have a temperature right about freezing right? Or else it would be water. If the cloud was at freezing, it would start snowing?

tony nordberg
October 12, 2011 11:28 am

Good stuff Willis! Now you should be able to programme your analogue computer to produce a good weather simulator!
My observation is that clouds form and disappear quite rapidly, in response to quite tiny local atmospheric pressure changes. Apart from the big changes cased by frontal system, highly localised pressure changes can be caused by breezes and thermal upwellings from the surface. One would therefore expect to see more local “The Simpsons”-style fluffy cloudlets forming and disappearing over the land surface, which heats and cools more quickly than over water. Does thsi show up in the data?

Bill Illis
October 12, 2011 11:34 am

Why is it important to get clouds right?
Have a look at the MODTRAN results in Cloudy-Sky conditions versus Clear-Sky conditions.
Almost all the Modtran charts you have seen on the internet are done for Clear-Sky conditions (you never see the results including clouds). As shown here, the Clear-Sky back-radiation looking up from the surface in the Tropics. Radiating at 6.0C.
Now throw in a Low Cloud Layer. A completely different picture. Now it looks like a perfect Blackbody radiating at 20C. That is clearly going to warm / slow-down long-wave radiation escape from the surface (particularly in the atmospheric windows). Low Cloud completely overwhelms the GHG absorption bands.
http://img171.imageshack.us/img171/7268/tropicalsurfacelookingu.gif
Now let’s take the previous Low Cloud Layer and double CO2 levels. There is an imperceptible, unmeasureable change according to Modtran.
http://img832.imageshack.us/img832/295/tropicalsurfupclouds2xc.gif
Now middle level clouds are a mix of blackbody and clear-sky, not as strong as low cloud; CO2/other GHGs are still operating in the amtosphere above the clouds (particularly 10 kms to 20 kms high); different latitudes show the same pattern just at lower energy/radiation levels.
Clouds are present 65% of the time. They make a very large difference. This is just long-wave radiation, the short-wave solar Albedo changes are even larger. If the climate models can’t get clouds right, how are they supposed model radiation changes in the atmosphere accurately – which what they are supposed to be based on.

Dave Springer
October 12, 2011 11:46 am

GabrielHBay says:
October 12, 2011 at 5:21 am
[SNIP – that is nothing but a vicious personal attack without a scrap of scientific content. Take it elsewhere. -w.]

Dave Springer
October 12, 2011 11:56 am

Septic Matthew says:
October 12, 2011 at 11:06 am

Dew comes from clouds?
That isn’t what I wrote. As the water vapor in the clouds cools (it isn’t all frozen ice), it settles downward. When the frozen ice in the clouds acquires heat and melts, it also settles groundward.

Ugh. This is the kind of scientific illiteracy that inspires praise for Eschenbach.
Clouds are not water vapor. Water vapor is a colorless transparent gas. Clouds are composed of water droplets. Write that down.

GabrielHBay
October 12, 2011 12:12 pm

@ckrucible: Well, I think we should stop this dead-end discussion before we irritate the s**t out of the scientific community here. A quick google delivers this document, which, while just an example, does seem to indicate that the idea of warm (enough) clouds to cause warming seems (ahem) a trifle outlandish.
http://www.gma.org/surfing/weather/francloud.pdf
Probably wise to abort this line of thinking and just accept that clouds are just insulators in their nett effect, slowing down cooling but not actively warming.

Dave Springer
October 12, 2011 12:16 pm

davidmhoffer says:
October 12, 2011 at 9:44 am

Dave Springer;
These are the facts and they are, being observed facts not theoretical predictions, beyond dispute.>>>
Ah, I see. A “the science is settled” variant but from a coolist perspective instead of warmist perspective. Sigh. Was only a matter of time….

Get a clue, Hoffer. Science offers explanations for observations. The sky is blue is an observation. Science explains why the sky is blue. What I described were observations.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. ~US Senator Daniel Moynihan

GabrielHBay
October 12, 2011 12:24 pm

@Septic Matthew: I quote from your entry: “Everything takes time. As the unfrozen water vapor in the cloud cools by radiation, it warms the earth, and settles down as dew.”
Not being a climate scientist but merely engineering educated I am clearly far too ignorant to understand this sentence. (On the assumption that you are climate educated? No?) Well I give up. Am trying to understand your reasoning but failing. Shame on me… Enough already.

tty
October 12, 2011 12:28 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
October 12, 2011 at 1:17 am
“Interesting catch, Legatus. My guess is trade winds blowing towards the west plus subsurface eastward-flowing currents hitting south america/africa cause year-round upwelling, but we’re a ways into speculation there.”
Not quite, Both these areas have cold currents coming from the south (Benguela/Humboldt currents), and the ocean is always much colder than the nearby land. Both areas are well-known for practically constant and unchanging low cloudiness. The warmer land causes a more or less constant sea-breeze, but the clouds evaporate as they cross the coast, so the coastal areas (Namib desert, Atacama desert) are just about the driest places on Earth. Along the very coastline it is very often foggy with an occasional very fine drizzle, but it never, ever rains. Quite weird really.
Another interesting observation is the very strong cooling over the Southen Ocean in the zone between Antarctica and the Southern Continent during 8 of the 12 months of the year. It has long been known that the Earth’s temperature dropped dramatically in the Early Oligocene when Antarctica became separated from Australia and South America and Australia and a circum-Antarctic seaway opened. This has usually been ascribed to Antarctica becoming thermally isolated and heavily glaciated for the first time, but these maps suggest a further cooling mechanism.

Dave Springer
October 12, 2011 12:31 pm

[SNIP – if you want to debate basic principles, do it elsewhere. -w]

GabrielHBay
October 12, 2011 12:58 pm

Springer: Thank you. A small recovery in my faith in my own sanity…..

October 12, 2011 1:20 pm

Dave Springer;
Get a clue, Hoffer. Science offers explanations for observations. The sky is blue is an observation. Science explains why the sky is blue. What I described were observations.>>>
Really? You described observations? Allow me sir, to quote your own words back to you:
“There IS a tipping point for the earth’s climate but the tipping point is from comfortably warm to unbearably cold. These are the facts and they are, being observed facts not theoretical predictions, beyond dispute.”
You have postulated a tipping point from warm to cold and stated that it is an “observed fact” that it is “not theoretical” and that it is “beyond dispute”. Can you back that up with the actual observations that you claim? Can you show through the scientific analysis of those observations that a “tipping point” exists that is borne out by the physics and chemistry involved? Can you explain the physical and chemical processes, and show that the mathematical analysis of the observational data is in agreement?
Or do we just take your word for it because you say it is “beyond dispute”? Are you a mirror copy of Michael Mann or something?

Legatus
October 12, 2011 1:29 pm

About all this “cloud make a cold day warmer…
Well, how did the cloud get there, and how did it get to be a cloud anyway?
To have a cloud in the first place, you have to have evaporation, and that takes heat. For that cloud to move from where it formed to the cold clear place you are at, there has to be wind.
So when the cloud arrives, it tends to bring the warmer air with it, that moving air being how it gets there after all.
Thus the anecdotal evidence of clouds warming the formerly cold area may simply be that the clouds arrived with warmer air, and thus you feel the warmth of the warmer air that has moved in.
This of course is not taking into effect other things that can cause warming, high pressure areas being one.
As for the man under the blanket, the analogy is more like this:
It is not a man, it is a corpse, it has no heat of it’s own.
Above the corpse is a heat lamp.
This lamp is turned off and on every 12 hours, turning slowly on till it is at full intensity 6 hours in (noon), and slowly off for 6 hours till it is completely off 6 hours from noon (or a bit later/earlier).
Having a blanket will thus tend to hold the heat that the lamp added to the corpse in longer (and add a little of it’s own that it also absorbed).
The original analogy does not match the earth and clouds, because it is the man that is the source of the heat, and thus having a heat producing man under a blanket will of course lower his heat transfer out (by radiation and convection).

October 12, 2011 1:48 pm

Dave Springer;
“It’s laughable yet the cheerleaders in these comments who are more or less equally ignorant lavish him [Willis Eschenbach] (and a few other scientifically illiterate authors here) him with praise… I kind of wonder what the relationship is between Eschenbach and Watt that this is allowed to continue…”
I doubt that either Anthony Watt or Willis Eschenbach will stoop to your level and respond to that tirade, but I’m a good stooper. Allow me to explain why Willis has such a huge fan base here.
1. I’ve never seen him make a mistake that he didn’t instantly own up to when it was pointed out.
2. The vast bulk of his opinions are borne out by investigation to be factual and accurate.
3. He conducts himself with dipliomacy at all times, even when responding to the most egregious of insults questioning everything from his sanity to his honesty despite the fact that he posts all the reasoning and data to support his arguments for all to see.
4. I’ve lost about 20 arguments about science in my lifetime where I was shown to be dead wrong and 19 of them were with Willis. Not once did he gloat.
5. I actually won an argument with Willis once. Just once. He proved to me that, contrary to my long held belief, weasels do not kill for sport. Tough for me to take as having grown up on a farm I’ve seen what happens when a weasel gets into a chicken coop. As usual however, Willis was right. His only mistake was that he called it an urban legend. As I pointed out to him at the time, it was actually a rural legend. Small victory, but how many people can say they won an argument with Willis and cracked him up doing it?
There have been several absolutely stellar articles on this blog published in response to the nonsense of PNS, a strongly worded rebuttal to Judith Curry that was shear genius, and many others. I’ma pretty decent writer myself, but I’m not in Willis’ league. I can choose to try and pull myself up by pulling him down, or I can choose to admire and honour his work. I choose the latter.
You are free to choose what you will, but don’t be so quick to judge others based on anecdotal evidence. A good observer with hands on experience in the real world and a fundamental understanding of the underlying physics beats a PhD in just about anything when it comes to understanding and solving complex problems. The smartest man I ever knew (sorry Willis, even smarter than you) had a grade 6 education and made his living as a welder and machinist. He once built a piece of equipment for use in the oil fields that, due to his strong religous beliefs, he decided was a bad thing and he cut it to pieces, much to the chagrine of the investors who funded it and the oil companies that were lined up around the block with purchase orders. I remember an PhD in mechanical engineering from Shell going through the pieces trying to put them back together. He showed me a valve that had the most curious channels cut in it. He said to me he couldn’t figure out what they did in the first place, but even if he understood it, he couldn’t figure out how to machine a hole that tapered back and forth through the material like that.
You see Dave Springer sir, swimming in the ocean doesn’t teach you squat about the ocean. Swimming in the ocean, making carefull observations, and investigating them to obtain a more detailed understanding of them teaches you about the ocean. Someone who had never done the swimming, is only relying on the word of others. They know nothing for themselves.

October 12, 2011 2:18 pm

“Thus the anecdotal evidence of clouds warming the formerly cold area may simply be that the clouds arrived with warmer air, and thus you feel the warmth of the warmer air that has moved in.”
Precisely.

Dave Springer
October 12, 2011 2:22 pm

[SNIP – How many times do I have to say it. TAKE YOUR CLAIMS ABOUT DLR ELSEWHERE. This is not the thread for them. They may be true, they may not be, but they are definitely far, far off topic. w.]

Richard G
October 12, 2011 2:27 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
October 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm
” Clouds warm the surface when it is cold, and they cool the surface when it is hot.”
“The way I make sense of it is that the clouds respond on a minute-to-minute basis to the daily fluctuations in temperature. This is different from the slow warming and cooling of the seasons.”
__________
A good article Willis. Version two is better. I appreciate you trying to quantify what I have known from direct observation to be true.
I would add: “…clouds respond on a minute-to-minute basis to the daily fluctuations in temperature”, the Temperature-Dewpoint spread, Relative humidity and Atmospheric pressure.
The complexity derives from the total enthalpy of the system, not just the radiative balance. How to separate them out I’ll never know.
.

Dave Springer
October 12, 2011 2:29 pm

[SNIP –“You’re beginning to bore me, dopey.” .w]

Septic Matthew
October 12, 2011 2:48 pm

Dave Springer: Clouds are not water vapor.
I didn’t say they were. I said that there is water vapor in the clouds. Are you asserting that every single water molecule joins a droplet? And that the water vapor condenses without transmitting energy?
GabrielHBay Not being a climate scientist but merely engineering educated I am clearly far too ignorant to understand this sentence.
Are you being ironic? It’s hard to tell sometimes. Poe’s Law, I think.

October 12, 2011 3:09 pm

well said davidmoffer
I back willis even though I am a climate ignoramus. Because I recognise integrity.
Caveat – I have been known to laud CAGW freaks who show integrity (yes , there are some :))

Dave Springer
October 12, 2011 3:09 pm

[SNIP – David, your ad hominem attacks on me are puerile and unpleasant. -w.]

Dave Springer
October 12, 2011 3:19 pm

Septic Matthew says:
October 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm
“I didn’t say they were.”
Yes, you did.
“I said that there is water vapor in the clouds.”
There is water vapor everywhere in the troposphere, Matthew. There’s actually far less of it in the clouds than outside the clouds because because the dew point has been reached inside the cloud and most of the water vapor has condensed into liquid water. If that weren’t the case there would be no cloud to see.
“Are you asserting that every single water molecule joins a droplet?”
No. But compared to the air outside of a cloud there is less water vapor in the cloud than outside the cloud.
” And that the water vapor condenses without transmitting energy?”
Water releases a tremendous amount of energy when it changes phase from vapor to liquid. About a thousand BTU’s per pound actually and it releases all the energy without changing temperature. It takes about a thousand BTUs to turn one pound of water at 212F into one pound of steam at 212F. One BTU is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree F.

dp
October 12, 2011 3:39 pm

Septic Matthew says:
October 12, 2011 at 9:48 am

Well said.
It is astonishing how many people there are who post regularly and who do not grasp this.

When that happens we call it convection, and the conveyed heat is latent, already in the system, and delivered by the sun. If insulators did indeed heat things then I could heat my house by stuffing a large box of blankets in each room. Who needs a furnace?
I admire Willis greatly but I have a problem in scientific discussions when these language problems go unchecked. That said, the language does not impact the underlying message Willis is sharing and which I find fascinating.

gnomish
October 12, 2011 4:26 pm

Springer
i believe you have things right.
i also think that willis’ thunderstorm thermostat argument has its strength where it agrees with what you’re saying about phase change and convection and blocking/absorbing of radiation.

Rob Dekker
October 12, 2011 4:29 pm

Richard Courtney :
Rob : “Willis, are yyou are still confused. ”
and “you keep on using the wrong definition of “cloud forcing”. ”and “As I pointed out, your conclusion is incorrect as a result of your now abundant amount of mistakes.”
My question is; Are you joking or dissembling?

Richard, you can check for yourself who is joking or dissembling : Let’s go to the landmark paper that first used ERBE to determine cloud forcing (which Willis interestingly did NOT reference) : http://www.iac.ethz.ch/edu/courses/master/modules/radiation_and_climate_change/download/Ramanathan1989
Check how Ramanathan defines “cloud forcing” so we can tell if clouds warm or cool the planet. Then compare that to Willis’ definition.
Next, note that ERBE (as a satellite) measure space-bound IR, and not “downwelling longwave radiation” as Willis suggests. And then check how Willis get completely confused with between cloud forcing and cloud feedback, to the point where he believes that by dividing by the insolation you magically get from one to the other.
Of course, Willis’ conclusions are irrelevant and also contradict the findings by Ramanathan’s and all other scientific papers determining feedback or forcing from ERBE data.
Let me note that Willis is not the only one confusing cloud forcing with cloud feedback. Even our host Anthony got a bit wrapped around the axle in a recent post on exactly the same subject
There, he was corrected by Bart Verheggen and Roy Spencer, and Anthony admitted his mistakes and and promised a correction : “Yep, that was a late night blunder. I’m rewriting the entire post while wide awake.”
Would be nice is Willis could do the same with this post.

Dave Springer
October 12, 2011 4:47 pm

Eternal Optimist says:
October 12, 2011 at 3:09 pm
well said davidmoffer
“I back willis even though I am a climate ignoramus. Because I recognise integrity.”
A livestock guard dog is an animal with such high integrity it would make a saint seem evil. All the integrity in the world won’t get you a passing grade on an algebra test. What’s your point?

October 12, 2011 5:28 pm

Springer,
Most of us here just want to have a reasoned discussion. This has nothing to do with thinking Willis is “king” or like a “god” or anything of that nature. In fact I argued with him quite a bit on previous threads, just because I am taking the side of the analysis in this case means nothing. When you are discussing things that really do not matter, I mean in this case it is nothing but a hypothesis that seems like it has promise…well in that case it might mean something but for now not really anything.
Why do I like reading his articles (even if I disagree with some of em…)? Well because as the other Dave says, he admits when he is wrong! Look at the title of this article!
In other words, no, I am not fawning over him and I doubt many people are out of any misguided belief that we must bow down to him because he is a sceptic or some other nonsense like that.
I think most of us think proper respect is appropriate perhaps, but nothing other then that. There are other people who post here that I might disagree with as well and yet I will still be respectful for the most part.
So in other words, can we discuss the actual article perhaps? Even Rob’s pointless remarks are better then that. Ad-homs are something I see enough of from warmist fools, can we keep it civil?

Steve from Rockwood
October 12, 2011 5:35 pm

Dave Springer says:
October 12, 2011 at 4:47 pm
————————————————–
I’m just guessing Dave but the point would be “guard-dog” Eternal Optimist thinks you have less integrity than Willis, doesn’t fully understand climate science (which is true of most of us) and therefore believes Willis to a greater extent than you.
It doesn’t make Eternal Optimist an ignoramus, but merely points out he/she is willing to follow Willis and his arguments as EO attempts to better understand the science.
Integrity is how some people gain an audience and how others end up in a crowd of one.

Bill Illis
October 12, 2011 5:51 pm

Dave Springer says:
October 12, 2011 at 2:22 pm
Bill Illis says:
October 12, 2011 at 11:34 am
“Now throw in a Low Cloud Layer. A completely different picture. Now it looks like a perfect Blackbody radiating at 20C. That is clearly going to warm / slow-down long-wave radiation escape from the surface (particularly in the atmospheric windows). Low Cloud completely overwhelms the GHG absorption bands.”
Not so fast, Bill. What it does is changes the lapse rate so that radiative emission is happening at a higher altitude. Whether it slows down surface cooling, or rather how much,. depends on the surface.
—————————
The extra energy slowed-down / held-in with this Low Cloud Cover is about 60 watts/m2. A massive number. But the solar short-wave reflectance of the same cloud would be in the order of -80 watts/m2.
So, during the day, the Low Cloud cools off the surface but, at night it will keep it warmer than it would have been (compared to if the Cloud dissappeared at sunset). Overall, however, the surface is cooler by net -20 watts/m2.
Doubling CO2, of course, would not change the above numbers at all since the long-wave slowed down / held-in below the cloud deck is unaffected by the presence of CO2. Short-wave solar energy reflected is also the same.
The question is, when temperatures increase, does cloud increase or decrease?; does it become thicker or thinner? The numbers are so big, a small change in the cloud response / feedback could completely overwhelm any extra GHG forcing. It is a make-or-break factor.
And we do not really know what the answer to this question is. No climate science paper has even come close to answering the question. No dataset has been used properly to date in order to answer that important question. No climate model can approximate cloud response / feedback properly.
Hence, Willis trying to demonstrate what really happens in the real atmosphere. I think he is really on the right track here. But it is hard because the data is not easy to work with.

October 12, 2011 5:54 pm

Dave Springer;
You’re beginning to bore me, dopey.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_age
Well I’m gob smacked. Call me dopey and throw a link at me. That certainly speaks nicely for both your maturity and your knowledge level. That all you got?

October 12, 2011 5:59 pm

Dave Springer;
You defending him saying he’s smarter than you are makes me think of a couple of 5-year olds agreeing about the top of speed of Santa’s Sleigh and how much hay the reindeer that pull it must be fed each day.>>>
Well given your devastating rebuttal you provided to my challenge to explain the tipping point you claim is settled science, I believe your retorted by calling me “dopey”. Seems 5 year old’s are about your speed.

October 12, 2011 6:17 pm

[SNIP: I said no debate about whether DLR can warm water. I’ll keep repeating it, and snipping it. -w.]

Septic Matthew
October 12, 2011 7:24 pm

GabrielHBay: In my ignorance I would strongly suspect that any cloud warmer than the surface (ok maybe not over snow or ice surface) would most likely evaporate and disappear?
Best left at that, I guess.

J.H.
October 12, 2011 7:25 pm

If you have a cloudless, moonless dark night…. You are walking up the garden path to the front door and can’t see a thing….. The toes are telling the brain to take it easy man!
Do the same thing on a cloudy, moonless night….. and you can see quite well as the cloudshine from the town lights up the place very well……
So clouds re-radiate light…. Including IR.
I have no drama in understanding that clouds warm the surface quite markedly by re-radiated IR…… or illuminate my garden path on cloudy nights via the cloudshine of the town lights.

Septic Matthew
October 12, 2011 8:03 pm

Dave Springer: Water releases a tremendous amount of energy when it changes phase from vapor to liquid. About a thousand BTU’s per pound actually and it releases all the energy without changing temperature. It takes about a thousand BTUs to turn one pound of water at 212F into one pound of steam at 212F. One BTU is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree F.
So the clouds evaporate when the surface below them is cooler?

October 12, 2011 8:18 pm

Dave Springer;
A livestock guard dog is an animal with such high integrity it would make a saint seem evil.>>>
A livestock guard dog is a dog that has been trained to do something and either does it well or doesn’t. The dog doing what it is trained to do has no bearing on the dog’s ethics. If the dog is trained to help steal livestock, does that mean it is guilty of theft? that the dog has had a breach of ethics? That the dog is evil?
Regards,
Dopey

Rob
October 13, 2011 12:02 am

davidmhoffer, Interesting concept. By your measure, Willis Eschenbach cannot be hold accountable for the abundant scientific and algebraic mistakes he made simply because he is “trained” to do so.
OK. That’s one way of looking at it.

Rob
October 13, 2011 12:28 am

Of course, if Willis is simply “trained” to mislead his audience, his integrity is still intact. But then if you may, can you please elaborate on exactly who “trained” Willis Eschenbach to make scientific and algebraic mistakes that create the appearance of cloud negative feedback, or what Willis calls the “governor” which “which works to maintain a constant temperature” ?
And if we cannot identify the entity that trained him to mislead and obfuscate scientific findings, then I’m sure that Willis himself has enough integrity to correct the mistakes and conclusions he made in this post.

Richard S Courtney
October 13, 2011 12:30 am

Rob Dekker:
Thankyou for the reply to me that you provide at October 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm. It makes clear that you are serious in your comments because your view is distorted by fixed views.
You say;
“Check how Ramanathan defines “cloud forcing” so we can tell if clouds warm or cool the planet. Then compare that to Willis’ definition.”
There is no agreed definition of “cloud forcing” and you provide no argument or explanation of why the definition provided by Ramanathan is correct and/or preferable.
I know how Ramanathan defines it so I do not need to check, but so what?
You admit Willis provides his definition and uses it. We are discussing Willis’ work and, therefore, Willis’ definition is appropriate.
Then you say;
“Of course, Willis’ conclusions are irrelevant and also contradict the findings by Ramanathan’s and all other scientific papers determining feedback or forcing from ERBE data.”
Irrelevant!? Really, then why do you bother to dispute them? In fact Willis’ conclusions are an insight into possible cloud effects on climate that may (or may not) significantly alter our understanding of climate behaviour.
And you admit that his findings “contradict the findings by Ramanathan’s and all other scientific papers determining feedback or forcing from ERBE data.”
In other words, you admit that Willis’ conclusions are very, very relevant but they offend you because they are heretical to the scriptures which you accept.
If you can find fault in Willis’ work then please state it but do not say his work must be wrong because it does not support the work of others.
Please think about what you have written and – having thought – apologise for it because your writings are an attack on the scientific method.
Richard

Jacob
October 13, 2011 12:32 am

The difference in cloud feedback between winter and summer is a well known fact to all who live in zones where there are freezing winters.
In winter (when temps are permanently below freezing) – a sunny cloudless day is a bitterly cold day, cloudy days are warmer. The cloud feedback is positive (warming). In summer a sunny day can be very hot, cloudy days are cooler. The cloud feedback is negative (cooling).
The explanation, I think, is very simple: albedo. In winter the earth is covered with snow, snow has high albedo, most of the suns radiation bounces right back into space and does not warm the earth. Clouds absorb more of the radiation than snow covered earth, and irradiate part of the heat back to earth.
In summer, the earth, not covered by snow, absorbs more heat from the sun than the clouds, and heats up more, on clear days. The clouds block some of the sun’s radiation and irradiate it back to space, so what they irradiate to earth is less than what the earth would have got directly from the sun on a clear day.

Dave Springer
October 13, 2011 1:25 am

davidmhoffer says:
October 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm
“A livestock guard dog is a dog that has been trained to do something and either does it well or doesn’t.”
LGDs are born not trained. The guardian quality is instinctive. What they guard is determined by imprinting as pups. [SNIP – ugly gratuitous insult. -w.]

Dave Springer
October 13, 2011 1:39 am

Septic Matthew says:
October 12, 2011 at 8:03 pm
“So the clouds evaporate when the surface below them is cooler?”
Water evaporates all the time. Even ice. In any give group of water molecules there is a distribution where a majority fall within a certain energy band with some outliears having much more than average and some much less. The average energy of the group is the “temperature”. At any given time some number of molecules will be very close to having enough energy to vaporize and only need a bump from an adjecent molecule to push them over the edge. In this manner even ice turns directly into vapor. Solar energy accelerates this process driving a greater number of molecules over the edge.
Your question is thus nonsense as evaporation happens regardless of temperature.

Dave Springer
October 13, 2011 1:46 am

[SNIP – ugly gratuitous insult. -w.]

coldlynx
October 13, 2011 1:50 am

Rob Dekker ;
Ramanathan definition of forcing are in W/m2. Insolation is included in Ramanathan calculations only in reflected SW. Not for outgoing LW. The “reference point” Ramanathan used for LW was clear sky conditions. That make sense only if clear sky temperature are “right”. Willis divide forcing with insolation and by that get a better “reference point” for outgoing LW.

October 13, 2011 2:30 am

Rob;
davidmhoffer, Interesting concept. By your measure, Willis Eschenbach cannot be hold accountable for the abundant scientific and algebraic mistakes he made simply because he is “trained” to do so.
OK. That’s one way of looking at it.>>>
I can only assume you are making a feeble attempt at humour and are suffering under the delusion that your remark is amusing.

coldlynx
October 13, 2011 2:34 am

By not have outgoing LW as a function of insolation are Ramanathan including feedback in his definition of forcing. LW clear sky conditions are a function of feedback.
Willis have by this eliminated cloud feedback from Ramanathan classic forcing definition.
Now we all wonder how Willis will calculate feedback.

Dave Springer
October 13, 2011 3:32 am

[SNIP – Dave, despite being politely and repeatedly requested not to post about whether DLR can heat water on this thread, you continue to do so. I will continue to snip them, and I will continue to point out that this is not adult behavior. TAKE IT SOMEPLACE ELSE!! -w.]

Kevin Hearle
October 13, 2011 3:39 am

Just a thought – if this governor theory works and if it is sometimes positive and sometimes negative or near zero(and you are dealing in short as opposed to long time frames) then if the governor is reset in the longer term timeframe by invoking Svensmark (more/less clouds for same inputs might you not get changes in the level of “insolation” and hence long periods of cooling and or warming.

Richard S Courtney
October 13, 2011 6:52 am

Rob:
Your post at October 13, 2011 at 12:28 am is devoid of content except for abuse, ad hom and unsubstantiated insulting assertions attacking Willis, his competence and his integrity.
Such offensive nonsense is typical of posts at (un)RealClimate or Skeptical (pseudo)Science, but it is not acceptable here because it wastes space on the page and distracts from adult conversation. WUWT is a scientific blog and your behaviour is very inappropriate here. Please desist because you are lowering the tone.
Richard
[COMMENT: Richard, I was on the road. I just got back, and going through the thread I deleted his comment. Thank you for pointing out that such behavior is unacceptable. Much appreciated. -w.]

Dave Springer
October 13, 2011 8:27 am

davidmhoffer says:
October 13, 2011 at 2:30 am
Rob;
davidmhoffer, Interesting concept. By your measure, Willis Eschenbach cannot be hold accountable for the abundant scientific and algebraic mistakes he made simply because he is “trained” to do so.
OK. That’s one way of looking at it.>>>
“I can only assume you are making a feeble attempt at humour and are suffering under the delusion that your remark is amusing.”
It’s at least as funny as faking neighbors into thinking they saw a UFO. I guess your sense of humor takes a walk when the joke is at your expense instead of you getting your jollies at the expense of others.
[SNIP: Totally uncalled for and juvenile. -REP]

Jeff D
October 13, 2011 9:00 am

Dave Springer’s last post I think is what is termed as the “hot water bottle theory”? I am not seeing where this and Willis cloud scenario have to be mutually exclusive.
Dave’s comment :
These clouds in turn will then block shortwave solar energy from warming the ocean and the lower ocean temperature will have a lower evaporation rate, the lower evaporation rate will mean fewer clouds, which will then allow more solar heating, which will then raise the evaporation rate… and so on ad infinitum where the net result is a self-regulating equilibrium point for ocean mixed layer temperature.
is pretty close to half of Willi’s research. This in particular ( self-regulating equilibrium point ) I think most laypeople would call this a “governor”.
We have the oceans as well as the clouds providing self regulation/ governing, now put on top of that the little bit of solar variability that Svenson tosses into the mix and i think it comes a dam site closer to possible working version. Well anything better than the “Team” has pushed threw peer review.
Can anyone else see why these cannot sit side by side?

Septic Matthew
October 13, 2011 9:50 am

Dave Springer: Water evaporates all the time.
You can even watch the water evaporate from the asphalt streets during a downpour, but would you say at that time that the “clouds” are evaporating? (more properly, what you can “see” is the vaporized rain recondensing, but the water does evaporate off the street surface.) This got started with the comment that clouds would evaporate at night when over cooler surface, instead of warming the surface.
I think that you are chattering on and on without admitting that you were/are wrong on the points at issue.
My grandmother used to hang clothes outside to dry even in the coldest weather. The water would freeze, but evaporate (“sublime” as they like to call it) in the cold wind, and the clothes would be dry after a while. But that’s hardly the same as saying that a “cloud” would evaporate because the ground beneath it is cooler.

October 13, 2011 10:20 am

Dave Springer;
LGDs are born not trained. The guardian quality is instinctive. What they guard is determined by imprinting as pups. As usual you pretend to knowledge about things which you haven’t the first clue>>>
Dogs are pack animals and will learn the accepted norms of behaviour from the pack. Since they accept human beings as being part of the pack, and are intensely loyal to the pack, they can be easily trained by involving them with already trained dogs, or in isolation of any other dogs at all. They can be trained to guard a lamp post if you wanted to, and they can be trained to NOT do things that they learned as pups. Training is much easier if the dog starts with a clean slate, as “untraining” them is a more difficult, but by no means impossible, task.
So regardless of the guard behaviour having been learned from being raised with trained dogs, or from being trained via some other method, the dog still behaves “as trained” and as a member of the pack it belongs to, including humans.
Had you any experience herding thousands of free range cattle and working with a variety of dogs some of which you trained yourself, or had the task of “untraining” a dog onsomething it learned as a pup, then YOU would know what you are talking about.

October 13, 2011 10:30 am

Dave Springer;
It’s at least as funny as faking neighbors into thinking they saw a UFO.>>>
No, that was ACTUALLY funny, and it served a valuable purpose, which was to demonstrate to the local media that very simple things could be easily mistaken by casual observers who failed to investigate their observations and simply jumped to conclusions, which were then reported by the media who ACCEPTED those conclusions and REPORTED on them was a far more likely explanation for UFO sightings than alien visitors.
The suggestion that Willis has been “trained” to make mathematical mistakes was simply insulting to Willis, and the suggestion that dogs can be trained to do various things quite apart from their ethics somehow makes that accusation against Willis (or anyone else) in any way logical is neither logical nor funny.

October 13, 2011 10:38 am

Dave Springer;
So what happens isn’t an ocean temperature that is warmer than it would be otherwise due to DLR. What happens is a layer of warm clouds where there would otherwise be cold clear dry air.>>>
As I explained in another comment, and processes such as rain, wind, wave action that cause active mixing at the surface as a consequence result in a portion of the water that would otherwise have evaporated instead being mixed with cooler water below, thus absorbing some portion of the DLR.
In addition, the water that does evaporate does not instantly ascend to cloud level, it comes into existance as water vapour exactly at the surface layer of the water. This allows for transfer of energy via conduction. Further, the water vapour being an extremely powerful GHG, the faster it forms, the more upward bound LW it absorbs and re-radiates, a portion of which would then be returned downward that would otherwise have escaped upward. This results in increased DLR back to the water surface, where some portion of it may once again be absorbed by the othwer processes described.

graphicconception
October 13, 2011 2:58 pm

I think we are all sharing the same view of “feedback” and this is hampering our understanding. For instance, this link describes negative feedback as being like a governor: http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CD8QFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.control-systems-principles.co.uk%2Fwhitepapers%2Fengine-speed-control.pdf&rct=j&q=feedback%20governor%20theory%20&ei=lFaXTpiDF4Ki8QPA3djGBQ&usg=AFQjCNGIjc3DUX0cdFfaUkd7xDhOitJ7ZA
So I can’t agree with Willis’s statement that it is a governor not a feedback.
Also, I do not agree with this [quote from Jacob -w.]: “In winter (when temps are permanently below freezing) – a sunny cloudless day is a bitterly cold day, cloudy days are warmer. The cloud feedback is positive (warming).”
If the forcing function is cooling but the clouds are warming then that is negative feedback, not positive. That is, the clouds are opposing the original effect so the feedback is negative. If the clouds were to enhance the original effect then that would be positive feedback.
This is probably because I trained as an engineer and covered some control theory along the way.
I also struggle with “touchy feely” types who regard negative feedback as bad and positive feedback as good!

graphicconception
October 13, 2011 3:01 pm

Sorry, it’s late here:
“I think we are all sharing the same view …”
should, of course, have been
“I think we are not all sharing the same view …”

October 13, 2011 3:54 pm

graphicconception;
If the forcing function is cooling but the clouds are warming then that is negative feedback, not positive.>>>
Well you’re right, but in the context of climate discussion the reference is in most cases meant to be the net effect on earth surface. A cloud would reduce the amount of insolation that arrives at earth surface, but increase the amount of longwave radiance absorbed from earth and re-radiated back. In that context, is the NET effect of the cloud increased energy flux at earth surface, or decreased? +ve or -ve?
I agree with Willis and others who say it is positive at low insolation and negative at high insolation, and from that perspective the terminology seems apt.

Jacob
October 13, 2011 4:06 pm

graphicconception,
You are, of course, correct about the loose use of the terms “positive” vs. “negative” feedback.
The clouds have, in all cases, a warming effect and a cooling effect, both, together. In winter, over snow covered ground, their cooling effect (reflection of radiation to space) is less than the cooling effect of the snow covered ground, so they have a net warming effect. In summer – it’s the other way round.
I wish to differ from the opinion of warmists (like say, Dessler) who emphatically stress that clouds are a “feedback” and not a “forcing”. If “forcing” means a modification of the energy balance between Earth and outer space then clouds do modify this balance through their albedo, which is different from the earth’s albedo. I think Dr Spencer is right. The clouds’ influence isn’t merely local – that is – transferring heat from one part of the globe to another. They influence the transfer of heat from the sun to earth through blocking and reflection (relative to earth), and from the earth back to outer space through blocking of IR radiation from earth. These two quantities cannot be equal, and the difference is the forcing – whether positive – more heat trapped on earth – or negative – more heat reflected back to space.

Rob
October 13, 2011 11:11 pm

Richard S Courtney I know how Ramanathan defines it so I do not need to check, but so what?
You admit Willis provides his definition and uses it. We are discussing Willis’ work and, therefore, Willis’ definition is appropriate.

[SNIP – ugly gratuitous insult]
Willis definition of cloud forcing is “the amount of downwelling longwave radiation (DLR, or “greenhouse radiation”) produced by the cloud, minus the amount of solar energy reflected by the cloud (upwelling shortwave radiation, or USR)”.
However, the DATA that he shows is from ERBE. And ERBE does not measure “downwelling longwave radiation”. It measure “space-bound” longwave radiation. So if Willis’ definition is “appropriate” as you suggest, then he uses the wrong data to make his point. And if his definition is wrong, then the data is fine, but then the conclusions don’t match with his definition of cloud forcing.
Also, the ERBE data page that Willis refers to shows the plots with “cloud forcing” that Willis bases his figure 1 on. However, this data page uses Ramanathan et al’s definition of cloud forcing, and NOT Willis Eschenbach’s definition.
And that’s only the first big mistake in this post. The second one is where he confuses forcing with feedback (oops, I mean “governor”). As Dr. Spencer and Bart Verheggen pointed out, it is confusing (but crucial) to get the difference right, and Anthony corrected his mistakes, but Eschenbach remains silent.
[SNIP – ugly gratuitous insult]

Spector
October 13, 2011 11:54 pm

Out-Welling vs. Up-Welling
If we are talking about longwave infra red radiation measured in watts per square meter, I wonder if out-welling radiation might be a more important parameter.
As an example, if one were in a well-insulated room that had a constant temperature, one would see the same amount of down-welling radiation coming from the ceiling as up-welling radiation coming from the floor. In fact, you would see the same amount of radiation coming from every surface in the room in W/m², no matter what the albedo of that surface might be.
Suppose the ceiling were cooler than the floor. Then the down-welling energy from the ceiling would be less than the up-welling radiation from the floor. Thus, there must be a net energy flow from the floor to the ceiling. I would call that energy being transferred up from the floor to be ‘out-welling’ energy and it would be the up-welling energy from the floor minus the down-welling energy coming down from the ceiling.
One might define the minimum of the up-welling and down-welling radiation flow at any point to be the locally trapped energy at any level, assuming that we are only considering vertical energy flows. It would be a little more complex if we were interested in lateral energy flow as well.
As long as all we are talking about is energy flow (power) per unit surface area, the fine structure of absorption spectra is insignificant. It may well be that the increasing out-welling energy with altitude is due to the progressive generation of more photons that can leak around the strong absorption bands.
Just a thought.

Dave Springer
October 14, 2011 6:09 am

[SNIP – take your claims about DLR not being able to heat the ocean elsewhere. -w.]

Dave Springer
October 14, 2011 6:17 am

[SNIP – no DLR. w.]

Dave Springer
October 14, 2011 6:41 am

[SNIP – ugly gratuitous insult. w.]

Dave Springer
October 14, 2011 6:46 am

[SNIP – ugly gratuitous insult. w.]

Dave Springer
October 14, 2011 7:13 am

[SNIP: Really, Dave? A rant about dogs and dog behavior on a thread discussing cloud forcing? TAKE THIS OFF TOPIC NONSENSE SOMEWHERE ELSE!!! w.]

Dave Springer
October 14, 2011 7:52 am

[SNIP: Totally uncalled for and juvenile. -REP]
Depending on how you assess and value humor. I thought some humor was called for. Humor is very often juvenile in nature so that’s immaterial. Go back and snip Hoffer telling me I might lose a few teeth for some slight he perceived me saying to him which is what started this in the first place. Where I come from violence of that sort is juvenile behavior and isn’t tolerated among civil adults. But I guess it’s okay here since it wasn’t snipped?
[REPLY: Dave, it wasn’t funny. Sometimes stuff gets by us, but threats of violence are not acceptable at WUWT and if one got by, I apologize. It would be good if you and the other Dave could put aside the acrimonious parts and argue the merits. -REP]

gnomish
October 14, 2011 9:04 am

being right should be satisfaction enough, dave s.
no need to defend the unassailable.
btw- water vapor need not rise by convection as it’s much lighter than the other atmospheric gases.
another note- there is an important distinction to be drawn between ‘reradiation’ and ‘reflection’.
clouds reflect sw and visible emr. they also reflect ir to some extent – depending on angle of incidence to the droplet. NOT all light coming from a cloud is due to emissivity.

October 14, 2011 10:23 am

[SNIP: Dave and David, stop this nonsense. People are starting to stare. w.]

Brian H
October 14, 2011 10:51 am

[SNIP- What is it with dogs? THIS IS ABOUT CLIMATE SCIENCE, NOT YOUR DAMN POOCHES AND HOW THEY BEHAVE!! w.]

October 14, 2011 10:32 am

Dave Springer;
Go back and snip Hoffer telling me I might lose a few teeth for some slight he perceived me saying to him which is what started this in the first place.>>>
For the record, I made no such threat. Go back and read precisely what I said in response to your accusation that I mutilated dead animals, and then read my comments afterward clarifying what I said.
Mods ~ I’m not interested in rehashing that discussion but I won’t allow false accusations to stand either.
[REPLY: You are both valued commenters. Let’s try and keep it civil and on-topic. OK? -REP]

gnomish
October 14, 2011 10:40 am

“The water experiences a temperature increase prior to evaporation during which it may transfer energy via conductance. Once evaporated, the water molecules still exist in immediate contact with the water surface ”
there is no physics that requires water to experience a temperature increase prior to evaporation.
in plain truth, evaporation removes heat and lowers temperature. as a consequence, throughout the process of evaporation, the source water must be continuously declining in temperature unless additional heat is provided.
once evaporated, the water gas rises and is immediately replaced by much denser stuff – air – and is no longer in direct contact with the surface.
and not everything about heat transfer is covered by radiation physics. it can’t be stretched that far. in a gas, the heat is shared by collision. that’s why a thermometer works at all. (a real thermometer)

October 14, 2011 11:06 am

[SNIP- No Dogs Allowed, Nor Discussion Thereof. Take It Elsewhere. w.]

Spector
October 14, 2011 1:08 pm

Convection Dynamics –
In the troposphere, the normal rate at which temperature decreases with altitude, the ‘Environmental Lapse Rate’ is 6.49 deg C per kilometer up. This applies in a normal uniform atmosphere. The actual temperature profile may exhibit discontinuities when warm and cold fronts are in contact.
Rising, dry air cools at an adiabatic (without adding or losing energy) rate of 9.8 deg C per kilometer up. This is called the “Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate.’ With this you can calculate how high a warmer than usual air mass at ground level will rise before it cools to the same temperature as the surrounding air. This is because it will cool at a rate of 3.31 degrees per kilometer *with respect* to the surrounding air. For example, an air mass that is 5 deg C warmer than the normal surrounding air will rise 5/3.31 or 1.51 kilometers unless something special happens.
One such something special is condensation. Condensing air only cools at a rate of 5 deg C per kilometer, the so-called ‘Wet Adiabatic Lapse Rate’ do to the added heat of condensation. In this case the condensing air will actually warm with respect to the surrounding air at a rate of 1.49 degrees C per kilometer up. Thus, once condensation sets in, this air parcel will rise until it runs out of water vapor to condense or until it reaches a level of warmer air.
Note that descending dry air will tend to warm at 9.8 deg C per kilometer down. Thus the -55 deg C air at the tropopause level, 15 km up, would warm 147 deg to 92 deg C if sucked adiabatically down to the surface. Thus, the extra heat must be radiated off planet before that air can return to the surface as part of the normal convection cycle.

Septic Matthew
October 14, 2011 2:26 pm

Spector: Condensing air only cools at a rate of 5 deg C per kilometer, the so-called ‘Wet Adiabatic Lapse Rate’ do to the added heat of condensation.
For that quote, and the dry adiabatic lapse rate that you mention, over what time spans do these coolings and warmings occur?
Surely (?) these rates (per kilometer) do not apply to the thermals and thunder clouds that climb high over the Midwestern Plains in the summer.

Spector
October 14, 2011 4:43 pm

RE: Septic Matthew: (October 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm)
“For that quote, and the dry adiabatic lapse rate that you mention, over what time spans do these coolings and warmings occur?”
These numbers apply to air masses that change altitude due to buoyancy or some other cause that does not add extra heat to the rising (or descending) air. It is a consequence of how temperature, volume, and pressure of a gas are related if no extra heat is added, with the single exception being the heat of condensation.
From the Wikipedia
Environmental Lapse Rate
“The environmental lapse rate (ELR), is the rate of decrease of temperature with altitude in the stationary atmosphere at a given time and location. As an average, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defines an international standard atmosphere (ISA) with a temperature lapse rate of 6.49 K(°C)/1,000 m…”
“The dry adiabatic lapse rate (DALR) is the rate of temperature decrease with height for a parcel of dry or unsaturated air rising under adiabatic conditions. … Since the parcel does work but gains no heat, it loses internal energy so that its temperature decreases. The rate of temperature decrease is 9.8 °C per 1,000 m”
“When the air is saturated with water vapor (at its dew point), the moist adiabatic lapse rate (MALR) or saturated adiabatic lapse rate (SALR) applies. This lapse rate varies strongly with temperature. A typical value is around 5 °C/km”

I see I have missed the notation on the temperature dependence factor of the SALR. It may be necessary to look into evaluating the complex formula given to see how much that might be.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapse_rate#Environmental_lapse_rate

Septic Matthew
October 14, 2011 6:40 pm

Spector: is the rate of decrease of temperature with altitude in the stationary atmosphere at a given time and location
What can we say about the situation I mentioned when the atmosphere is not stationary — anything?

Richard S Courtney
October 14, 2011 6:42 pm

Rob:
I am grateful that you have attempted to make a logical argument in your post at October 13, 2011 at 11:11 pm. The attempt is a significant improvement on your earlier posts above, but your assertion that I am “getting a bit silly” is not substantiated (although this may be correct as my years advance) and your concluding paragraph is yet more of your ad hom against Willis.
In your attempt at logical argument you say:
“Willis definition of cloud forcing is “the amount of downwelling longwave radiation (DLR, or “greenhouse radiation”) produced by the cloud, minus the amount of solar energy reflected by the cloud (upwelling shortwave radiation, or USR)”.
However, the DATA that he shows is from ERBE. And ERBE does not measure “downwelling longwave radiation”. It measure “space-bound” longwave radiation. So if Willis’ definition is “appropriate” as you suggest, then he uses the wrong data to make his point. And if his definition is wrong, then the data is fine, but then the conclusions don’t match with his definition of cloud forcing.”
Say what?
Willis actually says;
“This is to express the net cloud forcing, not as a number of watts per square metre, but as a percentage of the insolation. That way, I could cancel out the effect of the insolation, and extract the information about the clouds themselves. Figure 1 shows the results of that analysis.”
Please explain why you think that is wrong.
And your failure to understand the difference between feedback and governor behaviour is not a fault of Willis.
You seem to think personal insults are an alternative to rational argument. They are not.
Richard

Spector
October 15, 2011 1:19 am

RE: Septic Matthew: (October 14, 2011 at 6:40 pm)
“What can we say about the situation I mentioned when the atmosphere is not stationary — anything?”
That depends on the degree that it is not stationary. The value quoted usually remains more or less true if little vertical motion is going on overhead. The temperature decrease rate of 6.49 deg C per km up is a typical average in the troposphere only. The Weather Service launches weather balloons to measure the actual variation. The following is a link to an hourly virtual (computer modeled or interpolated, I presume) profile of the atmosphere above the Sand Point Naval Air Station at Seattle, WA.
http://www.atmos.washington.edu/cgi-bin/latest.cgi?profiler.spt
I believe the diagonal lines represent the standard lapse rate.
If there is a layer of warm air overhead, one usually sees the normal lapse rate from the surface and then the temperature rises as we go through the mixing or inversion layer and then finally it begins to drop once again at the standard lapse rate.

Dave Springer
October 15, 2011 2:23 am

[REPLY: Dave, it wasn’t funny. Sometimes stuff gets by us, but threats of violence are not acceptable at WUWT and if one got by, I apologize. It would be good if you and the other Dave could put aside the acrimonious parts and argue the merits. -REP]
I laughed as I wrote it. Therefore it was funny to someone and your assertion is rendered false. It may not have been funny to you but no one died and made you the ultimate judge of funny for everyone else.

Dave Springer
October 15, 2011 2:35 am

[SNIP Now children, no food fights. w.]

Dave Springer
October 15, 2011 3:14 am

[SNIP No dogs either. w.]

Dave Springer
October 15, 2011 3:36 am

[SNIP- You care about dogs. I care about dogs. Go care elsewhere. w.]

Dave Springer
October 15, 2011 4:13 am

[SNIP Nobody cares if you were insulted. Nobody cares if Hoffer was insulted. You to need to find a room and fight it out? This is not the room. w.]

Dave Springer
October 15, 2011 4:38 am

[SNIP Food fight, Hoffer vs Springer, 3 rounds. w.]

October 15, 2011 8:11 am

[SNIP Food fight, Hoffer vs. the Other Dave, 3 rounds. Booooring … w.]

Brian H
October 15, 2011 11:21 am

As soon as two experts disagree, all bets are off.

Septic Matthew
October 15, 2011 10:10 am

Spector: The value quoted usually remains more or less true if little vertical motion is going on overhead….The following is a link to an hourly virtual (computer modeled or interpolated, I presume) profile of the atmosphere above the Sand Point Naval Air Station at Seattle, WA.
I would conjecture that between 8am and 7pm, between the Spring Equinox and The Fall Equinox, between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains, the model value is never within 10% of the actual value anywhere. I would also conjecture that the same is true of the North Atlantic and North Pacific in the same latitudes as the Contiguous US.
The models used for estimating the Climate Sensitivity are inaccurate and full of cavities. 10% here, 10% there, 10% everywhere, the errors accumulate in the models, rendering them too inaccurate to be relied upon for anything..

Rob
October 16, 2011 1:43 am

Brian, which two experts are you talking about ? Eschenbach has been silent ever since the mistakes in his post were pointed out.

Legatus
October 16, 2011 7:33 pm

Rob says:
October 16, 2011 at 1:43 am

.Brian, which two experts are you talking about ? Eschenbach has been silent ever since the mistakes in his post were pointed out.

So, you are suggesting that he has gone silent due to being caught out in mistakes? Perhaps, just perhap s, it could be because of the below.

I’ll be in and out of contact for a bit, I’m around today but I’m hitchhiking up to Oregon tomorrow for a friend’s bachelor party, so don’t think I’m ignoring you if I don’t answer for a bit.

Rob Dekker
October 18, 2011 1:11 am

Willis Eschenbach First, you will note that I have snipped your nastiness. Cut it out, it just makes people point and laugh.
Yes, I noticed that you snipped not just mine, but quite a few comments that were approved by WUWT moderators, many of which were questioning your scientific integrity and competence. I also noticed that you snipped my concluding remarks, which were actually quotes from one of your own previous post, when you were accusing climate scientists of “egregious and repeated scientific malfeasance”, even before you actually address the critisism to the mistakes you made in this post.
Second, you claim that the cloud LW numbers in the ERBE data is upwelling LW, not downwelling LW.
However, the ERBE data has three columns of cloud radiation data, entitled SW CLOUD FORCING, LW CLOUD FORCING, and NET CLOUD FORCING. Net cloud forcing is the value of the LW cloud forcing minus the value of the SW cloud forcing. Do the math to confirm this, it’s the central point.
Now, if the direction of the LW forcing were upwards as you claim, the net cloud forcing would be the value of the LW cloud forcing plus the value of the SW cloud forcing. It would have to be of LW plus SW, because the SW cloud forcing is upwelling (reflected sunlight going away from the earth). If the LW is also upwelling, their net forcing would be have to be the sum of the two. Since it is not, we have to assume the LW is downwelling.
Q.E.D.

Let me try this again : First of all, ERBE is an instrument aboard a satellite (above the atmosphere). It observes three forms of radiation : (1) direct insolation from the sun (2) “upwelling” SW (shortwave) radiation (reflected by planet Earth) and (3) “upwelling” LW emitted by planet Earth.
It is INCAPABLE of measuring the “downwelling” LW that you propose in your definition of cloud forcing.
Now please let us know where you found these “three columns” that supposedly show the SW, LW and NET cloud forcing. I bet that these are CALCULATED numbers, using a FORMULA. Then, please show us which formula they used to calculate these cloud forcing numbers from the ERBE observations, and compare that to YOUR formula of cloud forcing. You will find that there is no “downwelling LW” in that formula, and thus your definition of cloud forcing is incompatible with the ERBE data that you use to make your point.
This is only the first egregious mistake in your post, and as I suggested before, it would show integrity if you could simply acknowledge this mistake and correct it, so we can move on to the second fundamental error in your post.

Rob Dekker
October 18, 2011 2:30 am

Willis Eschenbach First, you will note that I have snipped your nastiness. Cut it out, it just makes people point and laugh.
Yes, I noticed that you snipped quite a few comments that were approved by WUWT moderators. I also noticed that you snipped my concluding remarks (which were actually exact words used by you in one of your own previous post, when you were accusing climate scientists of “egregious and repeated scientific malfeasance”) even before you address the criticism to the mistakes made in this post.
Second, you claim that the cloud LW numbers in the ERBE data is upwelling LW, not downwelling LW.
However, the ERBE data has three columns of cloud radiation data, entitled SW CLOUD FORCING, LW CLOUD FORCING, and NET CLOUD FORCING. Net cloud forcing is the value of the LW cloud forcing minus the value of the SW cloud forcing. Do the math to confirm this, it’s the central point.
Now, if the direction of the LW forcing were upwards as you claim, the net cloud forcing would be the value of the LW cloud forcing plus the value of the SW cloud forcing. It would have to be of LW plus SW, because the SW cloud forcing is upwelling (reflected sunlight going away from the earth). If the LW is also upwelling, their net forcing would be have to be the sum of the two. Since it is not, we have to assume the LW is downwelling.
Q.E.D.

First of all, ERBE is an instrument aboard a satellite (above the atmosphere). It observes three forms of radiation : (1) direct insolation from the sun (2) “upwelling” SW (shortwave) radiation (reflected by planet Earth) and (3) “upwelling” LW emitted by planet Earth.
It is INCAPABLE of measuring the “downwelling” LW that you propose.
Now please let us know where you found these “three columns” that supposedly show the SW, LW and NET cloud forcing. I bet that these are CALCULATED numbers, using a FORMULA. Then, please show us which formula they used to calculate these cloud forcing numbers in the three columns, and compare that to your formula of cloud forcing. You will find that there is no “downwelling LW” in that formula, and thus your definition of cloud forcing is incompatible with the ERBE data that you use to make your point.
This is only the first egregious mistake in your post, and as I suggested before, it would show integrity if you could simply acknowledge this mistake and correct it, so we can move on to the second fundamental error in your post.
P.S. Re-posting with some punctual mistakes corrected, since the first post may have been accidentally deleted :
http://img850.imageshack.us/img850/6561/wuwtoct18aa2011.jpg
http://img192.imageshack.us/img192/4254/wuwtoct18bb2011.jpg

Rob Dekker
October 19, 2011 12:49 am

Willis you haven’t explained why NET is LW minus SW
Where did you find that NET is LW minus SW ?

Rob Dekker
October 19, 2011 1:22 am

In his latest comment, Willis stated Net cloud forcing is the value of the LW cloud forcing minus the value of the SW cloud forcing
And earier, in your post you state : Net cloud forcing is defined as the amount of downwelling longwave radiation (DLR, or “greenhouse radiation”) produced by the cloud, minus the amount of solar energy reflected by the cloud (upwelling shortwave radiation, or USR).
You are not making this easy for us Willis. Are you saying that “LW cloud forcing” is the same as “the amount of downwelling longwave radiation”, and that “SW cloud forcing” is the same as “upwelling shortwave radiation, or USR” ?

Spector
October 21, 2011 6:20 am

RE: Septic Matthew says: (October 15, 2011 at 10:10 am)
“Spector: . . . The models used for estimating the Climate Sensitivity are inaccurate and full of cavities. 10% here, 10% there, 10% everywhere, the errors accumulate in the models, rendering them too inaccurate to be relied upon for anything.”
I have made no statement about models and climate sensitivity, just general principles of nature that apply on average but not in every case. A person can drown in a river that has an average depth of three feet.
In general, the temperature of the lower atmosphere cools at a rate of about 6.5 degrees C per kilometer of altitude increase until the transition region between the troposphere and the stratosphere is reached. This lapse rate is something of a compromise between dry air that cools at 9.8 degrees C per kilometer as it rises without heat exchange and wet condensing air that only cools at 5 degrees C per kilometer due to the added heat of condensation.
A rising column of dry air should cool adiabatically (without heat exchange or mixing) at a rate of 9.8 degrees C per kilometer. Only warmer, less dense air rises, thus when this rising column of air, or ‘thermal,’ reaches the altitude where it has cooled to the same temperature as the overall surrounding air, it must stop rising because cooling air cannot rise above warmer air (unless it is rising so fast as to be carried higher by its own momentum.) In clear dry weather, one must assume that all thermals reach their maximum altitude before they cool below their condensation temperatures. Otherwise, I think we would, at least, see ‘puffy’ clouds at the top of each thermal.
Thunderstorms would not be possible unless continued warming from the heat of condensation allowed a parcel of air to rise ever higher until it had squeezed out every last drop of moisture.
The image below shows the typical temperature profile of the atmosphere from Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit website. As you can see, the slope of the temperature curve below 10 km is about 6.5 deg C per km.
http://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/vert_temp.gif

Roy Martin
October 21, 2011 8:51 pm

Willis, in the Post you said: “This verifies that temperatures lag insolation by a month in the Northern Hemisphere (the warmest time is not end June, when the insolation peaks) and two month in the southern hemisphere.”, which is fair enough working with monthly data.
However, by using graphical interpolation and some iteration ( i.e., trial and error) I deduced that in the N. Hem. the lag varies from ~1.05 Mo in midwinter to ~1.25 Mo in midsummer. In the S. Hem. the lag is ~1.65 throughout all seasons. The lag lines are distinctly non linear, particularly in the N. Hem..
From these lag lines, rates of temperature change were estimated, again graphically, as follows:
W/m^2 / Deg. C. Deg. C / W/m^2
N. Hem. Summer 15.7 0.064
Winter 21.5 0.047
S. Hem. Summer 48.8 0.021
Winter 65.0 0.015
These results show up the huge difference between southern and northern hemispheres, due to the imbalance of land surface vs. ocean. In the N. Hem. between lat. 40 deg. & 65 deg. there is about 65% land, and in the S. Hem. between lat.-40 deg. & -65 deg. there is about 95% ocean.
Incidentally, I note a difference in the range of insolation used on the X axis from max. summer to min. winter in southern and northern hemispheres: ~230 to 460 in the north but ~235 to 480 in the south. Would barely affect the above, but it looks odd.

Roy Martin
October 21, 2011 9:00 pm

Results look better this way:-
From these lag lines, rates of temperature change were estimated, again graphically, as follows:
—————————-W/m^2 / Deg. C.—Deg. C / W/m^2
—– N. Hem. Summer——-15.7—————-0.064
—————–Winter——— 21.5—————-0.047
—– S. Hem. Summer—— 48.8—————-0.021
—————–Winter——— 65.0—————-0.015

Rob Dekker
October 23, 2011 12:01 am

Rob said : First of all, ERBE is an instrument aboard a satellite (above the atmosphere). It observes three forms of radiation : (1) direct insolation from the sun (2) “upwelling” SW (shortwave) radiation (reflected by planet Earth) and (3) “upwelling” LW emitted by planet Earth.
It is INCAPABLE of measuring the “downwelling” LW that you propose.
Now please let us know where you found these “three columns” that supposedly show the SW, LW and NET cloud forcing. I bet that these are CALCULATED numbers, using a FORMULA. Then, please show us which formula they used to calculate these cloud forcing numbers in the three columns, and compare that to your formula of cloud forcing. You will find that there is no “downwelling LW” in that formula, and thus your definition of cloud forcing is incompatible with the ERBE data that you use to make your point.

Willis said First, I already posted where I got the ERBE data I used. And I’m not going to hold your johnson just so you can urinate on me. Look it up yourself.
I did, Willis. And you know, the funny thing is that the ERBE data you linked to does not show “three columns”, and it does not show “downwelling LW” radiation either. Weird, huh ? It’s almost like you made things like that up as you went along.
Willis said I also admit my mistakes when I see them
Please let me know which mistake you don’t “see” yet. Is it that you don’t see that you contradict yourself on how you defined cloud forcing (my post of October 19, 2011 at 1:22 am) or is it that you don’t see that ERBE is simply not capable of measuring “downwelling LW” radiation ?

Roy Martin
October 24, 2011 4:09 am

Willis: While poking around looking for ERBE data sources I came across this article by Dr Steve Ackerman, Space Science & Engineering Center at U. of Wisc.-Madison, on The Earth’s Radiation Energy Balance:
http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/wxwise/homerbe.html.
Under the section: The Cloud-radiative Forcing Concept, the monthly plots of Mean Net Radiative Cloud Forcing appear reassuringly like those in your Figure 1 at the top of the post.

Rob Dekker
October 24, 2011 10:58 pm

Rob said :

Please let me know which mistake you don’t “see” yet. Is it that you don’t see that you contradict yourself on how you defined cloud forcing (my post of October 19, 2011 at 1:22 am) or is it that you don’t see that ERBE is simply not capable of measuring “downwelling LW” radiation ?

To which Willis said :
I was sure that I had checked on that data and that the net was the LW minus SW … it must have been another dataset. So you are totally correct, Rob, and I was totally wrong. My bad.
followed by :
Well, as it turns out, I had checked on the ERBE data, and I was right. The reason that the “Net” is the total of the two is that the SW cloud forcing is already listed as negative …..
Willis just apologized for a “mistake” that he created himself, thanks me for pointing that out, and then goes to explain that he actually did not make a mistake after all.
And see the implementation of what is commonly known as a “strawman argument”.
Willis, I’m not sure if you are deliberately avoid addressing the mistakes I pointed out in your post more than half a dozen times now, or if you are incapable of accepting criticism. But answering the question in the blockquote above honestly would be a good start.

Myrrh
October 25, 2011 3:24 am

First of all, ERBE is an instrument aboard a satellite (above the atmosphere). It observes three forms of radiation : (1) direct insolation from the sun (2) “upwelling” SW (shortwave) radiation (reflected by planet Earth) and (3) “upwelling” LW emitted by planet Earth.
It is INCAPABLE of measuring the “downwelling” LW that you propose.

Willis, I’m finding the arguments too confusing.., what is it measuring in the insolation from the Sun? If it is capable of measuring direct insolation from the Sun why isn’t it capable of measuring direct downwelling LW from the Sun?

Brian H
October 25, 2011 10:57 pm

Le Chatelier’s Principle applies, certainly, to the whole planet. Hence the distinct shortage of “runaways”!

Rob Dekker
October 26, 2011 1:33 am

Rob said :

Please let me know which mistake you don’t “see” yet. Is it that you don’t see that you contradict yourself on how you defined cloud forcing (my post of October 19, 2011 at 1:22 am) or is it that you don’t see that ERBE is simply not capable of measuring “downwelling LW” radiation ?

Willis responds I was wrong about downwelling radiation. What is measured is upwelling.
Thanks Willis. That’s a start.
Now, next thing is to correct your definition of cloud forcing.
Would you care to correct/present the formula you used for cloud forcing, and adjust your post accordingly ?

Rob Dekker
October 27, 2011 12:56 am

Willis : Not sure how the formula is wrong.
Which formula are you talking about, and where did I state that this ‘formula’ is wrong ?
I said that you are contradicting yourself on how you define ‘cloud forcing’, and you still do.
In fact, you added yet another definition right now :
Net cloud forcing is the absolute value of the LW cloud forcing less the absolute value of the SW cloud forcing.
Your post (even after your replacement of ‘downwelling’ with ‘upwelling’) still states this :
Net cloud forcing is defined as the amount of upwelling longwave radiation (ULR, or “greenhouse radiation”) produced by the cloud, minus the amount of solar energy reflected by the cloud (upwelling shortwave radiation, or USR)
So, which is it ? Or do you claim that “the absolute value of LW cloud forcing” is the same as “the amount of upwelling longwave radiation produced by the cloud”, and that “the absolute value of the SW cloud forcing” is the same as “he amount of solar energy reflected by the cloud” ?
Isn’t it time you simply would state the complete formula of cloud forcing that ERBE uses rather than confusing yourself (and everyone else) with contradicting statements ?
Maybe when you correct your definition of cloud forcing in your first paragraph (and preferably present the formula that ERBE used) then we can move on to discussing the mistakes you made in your analysis.
Don’t worry, I have time. In fact, most of the ERBE data analysis on cloud forcing was already done by Ramanathan et al 21 years ago, and so far you do not even seem to be able to agree with yourself on something as simple as the definition of cloud forcing as used in the ERBE data that you reference.