A Comparison Of The Earth's Climate Sensitivity To Changes In The Nature Of The Initial Forcing

Earth Full South Pacific

Earth Full South Pacific (Photo credit: FlyingSinger)

Guest post by Bob Irvine


The Earth’s feedback response to warming is independent of the nature of the forcing that caused that warming. The question I intend to examine is whether the nature of the forcing will have a significant impact on the initial warming or the response time of the earth’s system. I looked at changes in three different types of forcing and their effect on the earth’s temperature response.

1. Changes in solar forcing caused by variation in solar output at the sun’s surface that may cause changes in Cosmic Ray flux or other solar multiplier effects.

2. Changes in solar forcing caused by changes in the earth’s milankovitch cycles (Last Glacial Maxima, LGM) and volcanic activity that do not affect cosmic ray flux.

3. Changes in Anthropogenic Green House Gas (AGHG) concentrations.

The IPCC and others assume that climate sensitivity derived from #2 (Last Glacial Maxima, or Milankovitch cycles and volcanic activity) also applies to #1 and #3. This paper attempts to show that this is unlikely to be the case when the best available data is compared.

For #1 we found the climate sensitivity to be between 1.0°C and 1.8°C per Watt per Square meter of forcing. For #2 we found climate sensitivity to be approximately between 0.4°C and 1.2°C per W/M2 and for #3 we found climate sensitivity to be between 0.1°C and 0.36°C per W/M2.


Climate sensitivity is the temperature increase at equilibrium for each Watt per square meter of forcing or “X” in the following equation. X°C/WM-2 .

Generally as the planet warms it activates various feedbacks. A negative feedback will decrease the earth’s system response time at the top of the atmosphere and a positive feedback will increase this response time. For example, a decrease in sea ice will slow the return of energy to space and can, therefore, be considered a positive feedback to warming.

Not all feedback’s, however, are a response to warming. For example, if the cosmic ray effect is real then it can be considered a positive feedback to increased solar activity that is not related to warming. Similarly different types of forcing can have different response times at the top of the atmosphere. I intend to show in this paper that changes in long wave GHG forcing have a considerably shorter response time than changes in short wave solar forcing and, therefore, can be expected to have a lower climate sensitivity.

I, therefore, intend to show that the IPCC’s climate sensitivity based on #2 above should not be applied to AGHGs.

I have used the IPCC’s climate sensitivity derived from #2 above to calculate the current equilibrium temperature due to AGHG’s already in the system and compared this with the NOAA actual temperature since 1880 in Fig. 1. The calculations done to produce the graph below are set out in Appendix “1”.

Basically the IPCC’s agreed CO2 concentrations were used to calculate expected equilibrium temperature which was adjusted using the IPCC’s 3rd and 4th assessment reports figures to include all AGHG’s (i.e. NO2, CH4, Halogens etc.). All calculations used to produce this graph (fig. 1) are generally agreed and accepted and used by the IPCC.

The inconsistency of the IPCC central prediction and upper limit with the actual data (blue line) is immediately apparent. It is possible that the lower IPCC limit might be compatible but even this becomes untenable when climate sensitivity to changes in Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) which include any solar multiplier effects, #1, is taken into account. This sensitivity, #1, will be estimated in section “A” below. Section “B” will show how the IPCC derived their climate sensitivity for #2 above.

The IPCC’s position is that industrial aerosols have artificially cooled the planet masking the warming effects of the AGHGs and that equilibrium temperature is approximately 1.5 times transient or current temperature. Section “C” will show that even these are not enough to avoid the conclusion that climate sensitivity due to changes in AGHGs, #3, is considerably smaller than both #1 and #2.


Fig. 1 AGHG Forced equilibrium temperature using the IPCC’s sensitivity based on #2 (LGM and volcanic) and compared to actual temperature as measured by the NOAA since 1880. The upper IPCC limit assumes a climate sensitivity of “X” = 1.2, the IPCC central prediction assumes “X” = 0.8, and the lower IPCC limit assumes “X” = 0.4.

#1. SECTION A We used two methods to match TSI (Total Solar Irradiance) changes as Watts/Square meter at the earth’s surface with the best temperature data available. These TSI changes will affect the cosmic ray flux and possibly have other solar multiplier effects as they are caused by changes in solar activity at the sun’s surface.

If these changes in TSI lead to greater temperature changes per unit forcing than solar changes that do not result in changes in the cosmic ray flux, such as Milankovitch cycles or volcanic activity, then this would lend some credence to theories suggesting that cosmic rays have a significant effect on the earth’s surface temperature.

The two methods we will use are a) compare solar irradiance changes over the last millennium with temperature records, and b) compare temperature and forcing for the 11 year sun cycle.

a) The TSI variations are taken from Swingedouw et al (2011) who used the Bard et al (2000) reconstruction and are the same as those used by Crowley (2000). The scaling used is from Lean et al (1995). Lean et al (2002) and Foukal et al (2004) suggest that long term irradiance changes could be considerably less which would imply a higher temperature sensitivity to a given forcing.


Fig. 2, W/M2 at the earth’s surface due to changes in Solar activity for the last millennium.


Fig. 3, Solar activity for the last 1100 years.

I have used the temperature reconstructions of Mann 2008 EIV, Moberg 2005, Loehle 2008 and Ljungqvist 2010 to represent temperature change over the last millennium. They are, I believe, the best available series at the time of writing. These temperature reconstructions are reproduced in Appendix “2”. An approximation of the range of temperature over this period is then compared with the range in solar forcing at the earth’s surface.

With considerable uncertainties, this comparison will give us an approximation of the climate’s sensitivity to changes in solar forcing at the earth’s surface that include any cosmic ray effect and/or other solar multiplier effects .


Fig. 4, Maximum and minimum temperatures for 4 different temperature reconstructions over the last 1500 years. The warmest three decades and the coolest three decades from each reconstruction are shown.

From fig 2 and fig 3 the range in solar forcing at the earth’s surface over the last 1000 years excluding the 20th century is approximately 0.6 w/m2.

From fig 4 the range in temperature in each of the four reconstructions can be seen. It is then possible to calculate “X” where X is the change in the earth’s surface temperature in degrees Celsius that results from a one w/m2 change in forcing.

From Fig 4 the range in temperature for Mann 2008 EIV is approximately 0.75°C, for Moberg 2005 is approximately 0.9°C, for Loehle 2008 is approximately 1.1°C and for Ljungqvist 2010 is approximately 0.9°C.

Climate sensitivity is described by the equation X°Celcius / wm-2. .

The value of “X” will change, with time from equilibrium, and with any other changes in the earth’s feedback systems etc. For the purposes of this paper, however, “X” will be considered to be linear for a given forcing. This paper is considering the possibility that “X” will change considerably depending on the nature of the forcing that drives any change.

The value of “X” is then derived for each of the four different temperature reconstructions.

For Mann 2008 “X” equals 1.25 (0.75/0.6)

For Moberg 2005 “X” equals 1.5 (0.9/0.6)

For Loehle 2008 “X” equals 1.8 (1.1/0.6)

For Ljungqvist 2010 “X” equals 1.5 (0.9/0.6)

These values of “X” should approximate the equilibrium response since the data is taken over a millennium or more. There are considerable uncertainties in these estimates of climate sensitivity that derive from the max/min method used and the error margins of the various temperature reconstructions used.

It is worth noting that if the max/min method used overstates the temperature response then it is also likely that max/min method also overstates the solar forcing at the earth’s surface causing some of the possible error to be cancelled.

It is beyond the scope of this paper to estimate these uncertainties other than to say that the climate sensitivity, as calculated from current knowledge by this method, probably lies in the range 1.25°C/wm-2 and 1.8°C/wm-2.

b) The 11 year solar cycle will also include changes in cosmic ray flux as it too results from changes in solar output at the sun’s surface.

Camp and Tung (2008) use the 11 year sun cycle to derive transient sensitivity of between 0.69 and 0.97°C/wm-2. They also estimate equilibrium temperature as being 1.5 times higher than this which is consistent with the IPCC’s position in their 4AR.

This gives an “X” value for climate sensitivity calculated by this method of between 1.04°C/wm-2 and 1.46°C/wm-2

Combining a) and b) we get the likelihood that climate sensitivity for TSI changes that include changes in cosmic ray flux and/or any other solar multiplier effect will probably lie between 1.0°C/wm-2 and 1.8°C/wm-2.

#2. SECTION B The second type of forcing is one that causes changes in solar energy reaching the earth without effecting cosmic ray flux. These include the Milankovitch cycles and volcanic activity that occur at the earth’s surface and, therefore, are not due to changes in TSI at the sun’s surface.

Annan and Hargreaves (2006) looks at climate sensitivity derived from observation of volcanic activity and the Last Glacial Maxima (LGM).

They studied the literature and concluded that volcanic activity indicates that climate sensitivity would be between 1.5°C and 6°C for a forcing of 3.7w/m2 at equilibrium with the upper limit constrained to 4.5°C after the 20th century temperature record and evidence from the Maunder minimum are considered.

Volcanic activity, therefore, gives a climate sensitivity of between 0.4(1.5/3.7)°C/wm-2 and 1.2(4.5/3.7)°C/wm-2 to 95% confidence.

A & H (2006), after studying the literature, concluded that LGM measurements support a climate sensitivity between 1.3°C and 4.5°C for a 3.7w/m2 forcing to 95% confidence. The upper limit was constrained for the reasons outlined above.

This gives a value for “X” between 0.4 and 1.2 derived from evidence taken from both volcanic activity and the LGM. This agrees closely with the IPCC’s position outlined in all of their assessment reports.


Fig. 5, IPCCs Forcing’s bar graph from their 2007 4AR. Note the large aerosol cooling effect they expect for 2005. Minimum -0.4w/m2, Likely -1.2w/m2, Maximum -2.4w/m2. Note also the large AGHG Forcing of approximately 2.7 w/m2 which at their central sensitivity of “X” = 0.8 should give an equilibrium temperature increase in 2005 of 2.16°C. This is not consistent with actual temperature rise as seen in Fig. 1.

That Milankovich Cycles are overwhelmingly the main drivers of the ice ages, and more particularly the LGM used by A & H (2006) to estimate their climate sensitivity, is shown convincingly by Roe (2006) “In Defence of Milankovich”.

#3. SECTION C Since 1880 an extremely active sun has added directly, approximately 0.5w/m2 at the earth’s surface (Fig. 2). According to our best historical temperature series as seen in section A and after an adjustment to give transient temperature, this active sun should have increased the earth’s temperature by a minimum of approximately 0.33°C to a maximum of 0.6°C since 1880.

According to the NOAA in Fig. 1 the earth’s temperature has risen by about 0.7°C since 1880.

This leaves between 0.1 and 0.37°C plus any industrial aerosol cooling effect to be explained by increasing AGHGs.

This can be summarised by the following equation;

Equation 1; “Y” plus (0.1 to 0.37) = “Z” Where “Y” is the net aerosol cooling in 2010 and “Z” is the total transient warming due to AGHGs in 2010.

At this point we introduce another check on aerosols to get a second simultaneous equation. According to Stern (2006) industrial aerosol production has fallen by over 30% since 1990, Fig. 6. Mishchenko confirms this with satellite measurements showing a drop in sun blocking aerosols since 1990, Fig. 7. Basically, If an increase in industrial aerosols gives a significant cooling as postulated by the IPCC then a drop in aerosols, as has happened since 1990, should cause a significant warming. Here is a supporting quote from the IPCC’s 4AR. “Global sulphur emissions (and thus sulphate aerosol forcing) appear to have decreased after 1980 (Stern 2005)…”

This drop in industrial aerosols can be explained by cleaner combustion techniques forced on people by acid rain and other undesirable environmental effects.

There are other contributors to the earth’s temperature other than Industrial aerosols, AGHGs, and solar, but they are negligible in the context of this paper.

To form a second simultaneous equation we need an estimate of AGHG forcing and an estimate of temperature change since 1990.


Fig. 6 Estimated global SO2 production. Stern 2006


Fig. 7.

The temperature series, Fig. 8, below gives a temperature rise between 1990 and 2010 of approximately 0.2°C. It is uncertain whether natural forcing’s would have increased or decreased this figure so we have approximated this figure to a rise of between 0.1°C and 0.3°C which is an estimate of the anthropogenic temperature change since 1990. The effect of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991 has also been removed.


Fig. 8 Earth’s temperature 1990 to 2010 according four main temperature series.

AGHGs added 0.82 w/m2 from 1990 to 2010, based on their increase in concentration, which is 28% of the total forcing, attributed to AGHGs in 2010 by the IPCC.

We can now create a second simultaneous equation;

Equation 2; 0.3 x “Y” Plus 0.28 X “Z” = 0.1 to 0.3

Solving for the simultaneous equations 1 and 2 gives total aerosol cooling of between 0.12°C and 0.34°C in 2010 (“Y”). This implies total AGHG forced transient warming in 2010 (“Z”) of between 0.22°C and 0.69°C.

If we assume equilibrium temperature is approximately 1.5 times transient temperature and use the IPCC’s total forcing of 2.9 w/m2 we arrive at an AGHG climate sensitivity of;

“X” = 0.11°C/wm-2 to “X” = 0.36°C/wm-2.


To my mind the IPCC’s upper limit and central prediction are not consistent with the NOAA actual temperatures in Fig. 1. If our best temperature series over the last 1000 years are to be believed then the IPCC lower limit in Fig. 1 can also not be reconciled with the actual measured temperatures as has been demonstrated in section A, B and C above.

The IPCC would put 4 possible arguments to explain the discrepancies apparent in Fig. 1.

1. That equilibrium temperature is considerably more than 1.5 times transient temperature which would overturn nearly all the literature on the subject and be inconsistent with all the IPCC’s model assumptions.

2. That industrial aerosols have a massive cooling affect which would be inconsistent with evidence since 1990 (see section C above). They would also need to explain the fact that industrial aerosols generally remain local and are overwhelmingly produced in the northern hemisphere. The northern hemisphere has experienced more warming over the last century than the southern hemisphere.

3. That AGHG sensitivity is not linear. It is initially lower and increases to their published sensitivity at doubling. It is therefore unlikely but possible that the IPCC’s lower limit of “X” = 0.4 could be consistent with the upper limit for AGHGs of “X” = 0.36. This would imply a much larger cosmic ray or other solar multiplier effect (minimum “X” = 1.0, see section A above) than is generally accepted.

4. That temperature measurements over the last millennium are so uncertain that no conclusions can be drawn from them. These are the best series (see appendix 2) that we have. The existence of the medieval warm period and the little ice age have been confirmed by many studies around the world and are not seriously challenged anymore. It can be safely stated that the IPCC’s estimated climate sensitivity range can be falsified by the best evidence that we have at the time of writing.

The IPCC’s position is that climate sensitivity measurements deduced from the LGM and volcanic activity that do not include any solar multiplier effect and are based on short wave solar radiation can be assumed to apply to Long Wave Radiation from AGHGs and changes in TSI at the sun’s surface that include possible solar multiplier effects.

This paper proposes that the IPCC’s position is not consistent with our best millennial temperature records nor is it consistent with Green House Gas Forcing and temperature rise in the 20th century (Fig. 1) without unrealistically large aerosol cooling. The IPCC’s position is particularly inconsistent when it is noted that aerosol levels have fallen over the last 20 years at a time when temperature rise has abated.

All the available data is neatly reconciled and consistent if we are prepared to accept that the earth’s climate sensitivity is different for long wave greenhouse gas forcing than it is for short wave solar forcing. It is, in fact, unlikely that these two would have the same sensitivity and there are good physical reasons why they wouldn’t.


1. The existence of a cosmic ray effect on temperature has been debated for some time now and would explain the different sensitivities described in section “A” and section “B”. This is discussed in Shaviv 2005, “On Climate Response to Change in Cosmic Ray Flux and Radiative Budget.” Certainly the existence of some form of solar multiplier is supported by the evidence of the last millennium (section “A”) when it is compared with the IPCC’s sensitivity (section “B”). The IPCC’s climate sensitivity is derived from LGM and volcanic measurements that don’t include any solar multiplier effects as they are caused by changes at the earth’s surface as opposed to changes at the sun’s surface.

2. The climate response time is the time it takes for the atmosphere to respond to a change in forcing and is dependent on sensitivity and the amount of ocean mixing. Hansen, Sato and Kharecha, “Earth’s Energy Imbalance and Implications”, say “On a planet with no ocean or only a mixed layer ocean, the climate response time is proportional to climate sensitivity. ………..Hansen et al (1985) show analytically, with ocean mixing approximated as a diffusive process, that the response time increases as the square of climate sensitivity.”

If it can be shown that a change in the Long Wave Radiation from AGHGs has a shorter response time than a change in Short Wave Solar Radiation, then this would imply a lower climate sensitivity for changes in AGHGs than you would expect from changes in solar forcing.

It is well known and accepted physics that Long wave radiation from GHGs only penetrates the oceans to a depth of a fraction of a millimetre. Water is almost totally opaque to these wavelengths. Short wave solar radiation, on the other hand, penetrates water to a depth of 10 meters or more and is, therefore, readily involved in ocean heating.

There is clearly a significant difference in response times between Long wave radiation from AGHGs and the Short wave solar radiation used by the IPCC to calculate their sensitivity. Long wave radiation is returned almost immediately to the atmosphere while Short wave solar radiation is largely absorbed by the ocean and takes much longer to find its way back to the atmosphere on average.

It is entirely logical that shorter response times would equate to lower temperature sensitivities at equilibrium. There would quite obviously be less energy in the pipeline as the oceans are not warmed significantly by AGHG’s.

The IPCC and others argue that the warming of the top fraction of a millimetre by AGHGs prevents energy from escaping from the deeper ocean and, therefore, effectively has the same response time as solar radiation. This position is shown to be not correct by the simple experiment outlined in Appendix 3.

3. As you would expect the IPCC’s models and predictions are already starting to fail as a result of them using the wrong wavelength to estimate AGHG forced climate sensitivity. James Hansen’s catastrophic predictions to the USA congress in 1988 are compared with actual temperature in Fig. 9. They clearly don’t correlate.


Fig. 9 James Hansen’s 1988 predictions to the USA congress compared with actual temperature.

Here is a quote from the IPCC’s 2001 TAR, “..anthropogenic warming is likely to lie in the range of 0.1°C to 0.2°C per decade over the next few decades”, and another from the IPCC’s 2007 4AR “For the next 2 decades, a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected”. The earth’s temperature has remained level or fallen since both of these predictions were made.




Fig. 1 AGHG Forced equilibrium temperature using the IPCC’s sensitivity based on #2 (LGM and volcanic) and compared to actual temperature as measured by the NOAA since 1880. The upper IPCC limit assumes a climate sensitivity of “X” = 1.2, the IPCC central prediction assumes “X” = 0.8, and the lower IPCC limit assumes “X” = 0.4.

The method used to plot this graph;

1. A preindustrial CO2 concentration of 280 ppm was assumed. CO2 concentrations since 1880 were taken from the IPCC pre 1960 and from Mauna Loa after 1960.

2. CO2 Forcing was calculated using the widely accepted formula ;

rF = 5.35 x ln(C/C0) wm-2

Where “C” is the current CO2 concentration and “Co” is the initial CO2 concentration. This formula is the basis for the IPCC’s position that a doubling of CO2 concentration will produce a Forcing of 3.71 wm-2. i.e. rF = 5.35 x ln (2) = 3.71 wm-2.

3. Based on the IPCC’s TAR and 4AR reports, the CO2 forcing was then multiplied by 1.66 to give the total forcing of all the AGHGs (NO2, CH4, Halogens etc.) See Fig. 5.

4. The IPCC’s equilibrium temperatures were then calculated using the IPCC’s sensitivity factors, 0.4 (lower), 0.8 (central), and 1.2 (upper). i.e. The IPCC’s central predicted equilibrium temperature for a doubling of CO2 is, therefore, 0.8 x 3.71 wm-2 or approximately 3.0°C.

5. All graphs were then zeroed at 1880, the time when relatively accurate thermometer temperature measurements commenced.



The four main millennial temperature series summarised in Fig. 4.


Fig.10 Temperature series for the last 1000 years. Ljungqvist 2010 (Black Line), Loehle 2008 (Blue Line)


Fig 11. Moberg 2005 1000 year temperature record including more recent instrumental records.


Fig. 12 Mann 2008 EIV 1000 year temperature series.



The simple experiment, attributed to Tallbloke, that proves that GHG increases do not significantly warm the oceans.

Konrad: Empirical test of ocean cooling and back radiation theory

Posted: August 25, 2011 by Tallbloke in atmosphere, climate, Energy, Ocean dynamics 68

Some background –

Willis Eschenbach had a guest posting over at WUWT in which he claimed that LWIR could heat Earth’s oceans. Myself and several others on the thread contended that this LWIR was likely to be stopped by the evaporative skin layer and would not slow the exit of heat from the oceans. Numerous requests for empirical evidence to support Willis’s claim only resulted in one inapplicable study used by the “Hockey Team” to support such claims. After several hundred comments without empirical evidence being offered, I gave up reading and designed and conducted an empirical experiment that shows that any effect of backscattered LWIR on the cooling rate of water would be negligible.

What follows is an edited version of the experiment design and results as posted on the WUWT thread. I would encourage others to conduct similar experiments to check my results. The equipment required is not overly expensive and the results can be observed in minutes. The results appear to show the measurable difference between reflecting LWIR back to warm water when it is free to evaporatively cool and when it can only cool through conduction and radiation.

What is required –

– Two identical probe type digital thermometers with 0.1 degree resolution

– Two identical insulated water containers. I used rectangular 200ml Tupperware style containers, insulated on their base and sides with foil and Styrofoam. I cut away the clip on rim from each lid to create a frame to clip down cling film for Test B of the experiment.

– One IR reflector. I used an A4 sheet of 10mm Styrofoam with aluminum foil attached with spray adhesive.

– One IR window. I built an A4 size “picture frame” of 10mm square balsa wood strips and stretched cling film over it.

– One 1 litre measuring jug

– Two small identical computer fans. I used Suron 50mm centrifugal blowers powered by a 6v gel cell battery

– Extra cling film

– Optional extras – kitchen timer, an A4 ”dark cool sky” panel of matt black aluminum with peltier cooling, glamorous lab assistant of choice.


What to do –

– Position probe thermometers in identical positions in both water containers. I placed the tips 10mm below the water line by drilling force fit holes in the sides of the containers.

– Position IR reflector and IR window 50mm above either water container. You may need to build two Styrofoam side walls, but air must be free to move over the surface of the water. (The use of the IR window is to ensure that air flow is similar over each water container.)

– Position the computer fans to blow across the water surface of each container, but do not turn on.

– Fill jug with warm water, stir, then fill each water container from the bucket. I used water around 40C as the ceiling was around 18C not a 3k sky.

– When and equal amount of water is in each container, turn on the computer fans.

– Observe the temperature change over time for each tank. Less than half an hour is required for such a small amount of water. You should observe that both tanks cool at the same rate (TEST A).

– Now the important bit – Repeat the experiment, but this time lay a small sheet of cling wrap on the surface of the water in each water tank. This allows cooling through radiation and conduction but prevents evaporation. You do not need the computer fans on in this test. You should be able to observe that while both containers cool slower than before, water under the IR reflector cools slowest (TEST B).


Interpretation –

In TEST A the water cools more quickly, however the two water containers temperatures remain very close to each other over time. This indicates that backscattered LWIR has a very limited effect on the rate of cooling for water when it is free to evaporatively cool.

In TEST B both water containers cool more slowly than Test A, but a divergence in temperature between the two water containers is readily detectable. The container under the foil sky cools more slowly than that under the cling wrap sky. This indicates that backscattered LWIR from a warm material can slow the rate at which that material cools, if radiation and conduction are the only methods for cooling.

Test A represents the evaporative cooling conditions in the real oceans. Test B represents how the climate scientists have modeled the oceans with regard to backscattered LWIR. From what I have observed, backscattered LWIR can slow the rate at which substances cool. However in the case of liquid water that is free to cool evaporatively this effect is dramatically reduced. It would appear that including the oceans in the percentage of Earth’s surface that could be affected by backscattered LWIR may be a serious error. Earth’s oceans cover 71% of the planet’s surface. If backscattered LWIR cannot measurably affect liquid water, then CO2 cannot cause dangerous or catastrophic global warming.

I have conducted further tests using a “cold sky” panel cooled with ice water over the top of the cling film IR window. While the temperature divergence in the evaporation restricted test B does not appear faster, it does appear to diverge for longer.

I would encourage others to conduct similar empirical experiments and share their observations. I would be interested in comments in further experimental design, or empirical evidence related to the LWIR question.

Typical TEST A

Time Cling Wrap Screen Foil screen
0 37.1 37.1
5 33.2 33.2
10 29.4 29.4
15 27 26.9
20 25.5 25.5
25 24.5 24.5

Typical TEST B

Time Cling Wrap Screen Foil screen
0 38.2 38.2
5 36.3 36.6
10 34.8 35.3
15 33.5 34.2
20 32.6 33.4
25 31.5 32.6

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What is the measured transmittance factor for the cling sheet in the LWIR spectrum?

Sorry unrelated but James Hanson leaves NASA…. One more brick out the wall…
REPLY: WUWT broke the story days ago, always check the front page first. – Anthony

Bill H

Evaporation can be masked by galactic radiation causing increased cloud formation. As clouds increase due to ionization of the atmosphere the reduced solar heat reaching earths surface slows the evaporation process.
Interestingly Solar wind/output is the river in space that either collects and sweeps these ions away or allows them to pass into the earths atmosphere causing cloud formation.
It seems that your three items are intertwined in such a manner that it would lower their potential forcing sensitivity substantially. And the Sun is the primary driver… Now who would of thunk that?

The notion that [there] is a “climate sensitivity” is scientifically nonsensical as this sensitivity is defined in terms of an equilibrium temperature but this temperature is not an observable.


Decreasing sea ice exposes more of the warmer sea to space and the atmosphere – both conditions will permit greater loss of energy from the ocean by radiation, convection, and conduction. Capping it with ice hinders that. Melting ice does nothing, by comparison – the energy in the sea simply moves from the sea to the ice, melting it which sends every joule of it back to the sea.
Bottom line is energy in the sea has to pass through the atmosphere to get back to space where it came from and any lid you put on it, ice, clouds, CO2, is going to inhibit that.


Given that the globe has been cooling for thousands and thousands of years, I’m about to hope for a higher sensitivity.


I had just posted the following list of experiments on the Freeman Dyson thread before I noted Bob Irvine had posted details of one of my first experiments with LWIR and liquid water. I am reposting the list of five experiments here as Experiment 1 described below is an improvement on the version Bob has shown. The old version simply reflected the outgoing IR from cooling water back to its surface, so Incident IR dropped as the samples cooled. The later improved version uses a constant external LWIR source. Some readers at the Talkshop will be familiar with many of these experiments and this list is a cut and paste from an essay for the Talkshop that I will eventually finish. Experiments 2 to 4 cover energy flux to and from moving fluids in a gravity field, something missing from “basic physics” of the “settled science”.
Experiment 1. Effect of incident LWIR on liquid water that is free to evaporatively cool.
Incident LWIR can slow the cooling rate of materials. Climate scientists claim that DWLWIR has the same effect over oceans as it does over land, and this is shown in many Trenberthian energy budget cartoons. Does the ocean respond to DWLWIR the same way as land?
– Build two water proof EPS foam cubes 150mm on a side and open at the top.
– Position a 100mm square aluminium water block as LWIR source 25mm above each cube.
– Position two small computer fans to blow a very light breeze between the foam cube and the water blocks.
– Insert a probe thermometer with 0.1C resolution through the side of each cube 25mm below the top.
– Continuously run 80C water through one water block and 1C water through the other.
– Fill both EPS foam cubes to the top with 40C water an allow to cool for 30 min while recording temperatures.
– Repeat the experiment with a thin LDPE film on the surface of the water in each cube to prevent evaporative cooling.
Here is an early variant of this experiment in which IR from cooling water samples was reflected back to the water surface – http://i47.tinypic.com/694203.jpg
Experiment 2. Radiative cooling properties of CO2
CO2 can both absorb and radiate IR. Some of the energy CO2 is radiating to space is from intercepted outgoing IR from the Earths surface. Most of the net energy CO2 radiates to space is acquired from latent heat from condensing water vapour and conductive contact with the Earths surface. Could the radiation of energy from the atmosphere to space acquired by surface conduction or release of latent heat balance the energy intercepted from surface IR?
– Build two EPS foam boxes 250 x 250mm and 100mm deep, open at the top.
– Make a small 5mm hole in the bottom corner of each box to ensure constant pressure
– Place an identically sized matt black 200 x 200 x 2mm aluminium target plate in the base of each box.
– At one side of the interior of each box position a IR and SW shielded tube 200mm long containing a small circulation fan to cycle all the gas in the box through the tube.
– Position a thermometer probe with 0.1C resolution in each tube.
– Seal the top of each box with a frame double glazed with thin LDPE film.
– At equal distances above each box position a 50w halogen light source with sealed glass face.
– Use small computer fans to cool the glass face of each halogen globe to minimise LWIR emission.
– Fill one box with air and the other with CO2
– Wait for box temperatures to equalise then illuminate each target plate with the SW source.
– Record gas temperatures during 30min of heating for each box.
– Switch off the halogens and record gas temperatures during cooling.
Here is image of equipment for experiment 2. Bike tyre inflater cartridges are an easy source of dry CO2 – http://i49.tinypic.com/34hcoqd.jpg
Experiment 3. The role of energy loss in convective circulation.
In describing convective circulation in the atmosphere the role of heating low in the atmosphere is often emphasised. Does cooling at altitude have an equally important role in convective circulation?
– Get a large glass container of hot water and mix a ¼ teaspoon of finely ground cinnamon into it.
– Wait until Brownian motion slows till the suspended particles are barely moving.
– Now suspend a beer can full of ice water in the top 50mm of the hot water to one side of the clear container.
– Observe any circulation patterns developing in the hot water.
Experiment 4. Convective circulation and average temperature in a gas column.
Most AGW calculations are for linear fluxes into and out of a static atmosphere. However the gases in our atmosphere move. Should these linear flux equations have been run iteratively on models with discrete moving air masses? The height of energy gain and loss in a gas column effects convective circulation. Does this effect the average temperature of a gas column?
– Build two sealed EPS foam boxes, 1000mm wide, 200mm deep and 1000mm high.
– Penetrate each box with a number of thin aluminium water heating and cooling tubes
– In box 1 position heating tubes on the lower right hand side and cooling tubes on the upper left hand side. Keep the heating tubes as close to the lower interior surface as possible.
– In box 2 position heating tubes on the lower right hand side and cooling tubes on the lower left hand side. Keep the heating and cooling tubes as close to the lower interior surface as possible.
– Make small thermometer probe holes in the face of each box in a number of different horizontal and vertical positions.
– Position 0.1C resolution thermometer probes in identical positions in each box.
– Start 1C water running through the cooling tubes in each box and 80C water running through the heating tubes in each box at around 1 litre a min. Record temperatures over 30 min.
– Cut water flow and equalise the temperature in each box. Reposition the thermometer probes and re run the experiment until a circulation pattern and average temperature can be obtained for each box.
Here is a diagram of the initial experiment – http://i48.tinypic.com/124fry8.jpg and an image of a later small variant in which the strength of cooling can be altered at the top and bottom of the gas column – http://tinypic.com/r/15n0xuf/6
Experiment 5. Surface to gas conductive flux in a gravity field.
Climate scientists have claimed that under an atmosphere without radiative gases the radiative cooling of the surface will be greater (see also experiment 1). Does this mean the conductive cooling of the atmosphere in contact will be significantly higher? Is it correct to model the conductive flux between the atmosphere and the surface with the atmosphere modelled as a single body without moving gases?
– build two small EPS foam tubes with internal volume 75 x 75mm by 200mm high open at one end.
– For tube 1 cover the open top with LDPE film
– For tube 2 cover the open base with LDPE film
– on each tube attach a battery pack and a small 5V computer fan blowing across the outside of the cling film.
– On tube 1 add small legs on one side to tilt it to around 5 degrees off vertical.
– On tube 2 attach 50mm legs to allow its fan to move air freely across the cling wrap base
– Make multiple thermometer probe entry points along each tube for K-type probes from a dual probe thermometer.
– Place the thermometer probe position equal distance from the cling film for each tube.
– Equalise the internal temperature of each tube to room temperature by turning each tube cling film down and running the fans for 15 minutes.
– Now orientate the tubes so tube 1 has cling film at the top and tube 2 has cling film at the base.
– Place them on a shelf in a refrigerator with the fans running and close the door with the thermometer units outside.
– Use the probe differential button on the thermometer to observe the temperature differential between the tubes develop as they cool from room temperature over about 2 min.
– Remove the tubes from the refrigerator and allow them to equalise to room temperature again, move the thermometers to new positions and repeat the cooling run. Do this a number of times to build up a picture of the temperature differential at various distances from the cling wrap in each tube at the 2 minute mark.
Build the tubes small enough to fit within your refrigerator. If you have wire shelves, place a plate under each tube – http://oi49.tinypic.com/akcv0g.jpg
Those that take the time to build an run these experiments as I have done will be able to answer the questions “Will adding radiative gases to the atmosphere reduce the atmospheres radiative cooling ability?”, “what is the role of radiative gases in convective circulation below the tropopause?” and “would our atmosphere be hotter or colder without radiative gases?”

Henry Clark

Milankovich Cycles cause an amplifying albedo change in ice sheet extent, with glaciers on land expanding (or contracting) over timeframes of millennia (or hundreds of years) in manners they don’t so substantially on much shorter timeframes.
On much shorter timeframes, when TSI at Earth fluctuates predominately from variation in the sun internally rather than Milankovich orbital cycles, when accordingly the solar magnetic field and GCR flux vary mostly in step with TSI, the primary amplifying albedo effect is instead cloud variation. Dr. Shaviv estimated up to around 4 times more impact of all solar effects (including indirect GCR influence) than TSI variation alone (in http://www.phys.huji.ac.il/%7Eshaviv/articles/2004JA010866.pdf discussed at http://sciencebits.com/OnClimateSensitivity ). If I recall correctly, another paper gave a figure of about 3 for the ratio, but it may depend a bit on the timeframe analyzed.
Anyway, this interesting article by Bob Irvine seems on the right tracks.
Such as the blatant correlation of GCR variation with variation in specific humidity illustrated in http://s7.postimg.org/69qd0llcr/intermediate.gif leaves no doubt that solar/GCR variation has a major impact.

When [if] Mikey Mann reads this he won’t know what the post is talking about because he hasn’t done an experiment since college as an undergrad.

Henry Clark

I was looking at the experiment more closely when noticing something:
“- One IR reflector. I used an A4 sheet of 10mm Styrofoam with aluminum foil attached with spray adhesive.
– One IR window. I built an A4 size “picture frame” of 10mm square balsa wood strips and stretched cling film over it.

Unfortunately that part is not optimal. From the text description and the picture, the “IR reflector” is 10mm thick over the bulk of its area and more what I would call “a thick panel of low thermal-conductivity insulator,” while the “IR window” is a thin sheet in contrast.
Forget radiative heat transfer (IR) for a moment: they aren’t remotely similar with regard to thermal conductivity. That may not matter much in test A when heat escapes predominately by other means but may in test B.
What the experiment should have done is have the IR reflector use a picture frame like the thin-film IR window but with simply stretched thin aluminum foil over it, without any backing to the aluminum foil. (Aluminum foil isn’t too fragile).
As a side note, though I haven’t spent any time to try doing actual math myself, the quantitative magnitude of how much radiation versus conduction & convection would matter in test B might be approximately estimated by an engineer with a heat transfer background. People might be very surprised at the results, especially at this small scale and these temperatures.
I do see the comment by Konrad, which includes a number of different experiments. I’ll refrain on commenting on those until reviewing more.


Untill you add to your calculation all of the wireless com’s ,radars and remote sensing wattage that is propagated through the atmosphere you will never be close to answering the forcing problems The ERP for Americian TV station out put is 100,000 watts and there is about 4 million mobilephone towers and 4 billion subscribers At about 100 watts per tower and 2-4 watts per hand set all use microwave frequencies and here’s what a 1000 watts at 2.4 gig can do. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7RFyh5ABcQ Most people say it’s the extra heat created by the match that creates the plasma. So what creates it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0i2lhO3bSjQ
And how would you figure out the positive or negative forcing created by this process and when and where it’s being done? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZNj9jtl9Us
One thing you might know is how much power is used to create these pathways http://www.ips.gov.au/Educational/5/2/3 ?

One day sooner or later, the climate science will have to look further than CO2 and TSI. Neither of two (I assume) can affect tectonic activity in the N. Atlantic or the Arctic, and yet there is an ‘uncanny’ correlation with the solar cycles.
The correlation extends to the hemisphere’s temperature variability including the AMO and the CET.

The Earth’s feedback response to warming is independent of the nature of the forcing that caused that warming.
That is the basic rule of what the IPCC says: 1 W/m2 change in GHG effect has the same effect on earth’s temperature as 1 W/m2 change in solar insolation. That is implemented in all GCM’s with a maximum of +/- 10%, compared to CO2 (except +40% for CH4 because of water vapour formed near the stratosphere). But that can’t be true: 1 W/m2 change in solar has most effect in the lower stratosphere (UV – ozone formation) and penetrates the ocean surface down to several hundred meters. IR from GHG’s affects only the upper fraction of a mm of the sea surface. Quite different processes at work.
Even the HadCM3 model shows that solar changes may be underestimated with at least a factor 2. compared to CO2 forcing changes, within the constraints of the model (like a fixed response to human aerosols). See:
But as far as I know, they never included these results in the Hadley center model…

stan stendera says: April 6, 2013 at 12:48 am
“When [if] Mikey Mann reads this he won’t know what the post is talking about because he hasn’t done an experiment since college as an undergrad.”

The problem is to do experiments that tell you about the atmosphere or ocean. If you do an experiment on a little pot of water, it tells you about a little pot of water. If you want to relate that to the ocean/atmosphere, you need some theory.
That’s where this one breaks down. The sea is constantly in motion. It has waves. These induce a turbulence structure which is the main mode of transmitting heat in the top layers. That is totally lacking here. Blowing a fan at it doesn’t cut it.
But there’s another major lack. It’s actually true that IR does not generally produce a downward heat flux in the water. That’s because the water is heated by sunlight. That heat is conveyed over time to the surface (by that turbulent transport, mostly) and emitted (day and night) mostly as IR, with some evaporation. That’s easy to quantify – it’s measured by satellites.
But downward IR is still vital. The surface is at a temperature generally from 0 to 30 °C (if not freezing). The surface temperature is maintained by heat from below and downward IR. The heat from sunlight alone is not enough to sustain the IR emission from a surface at say 10°C in midlatitude. It would freeze without IR.
None of that is covered by this experiment.

Martin Lewitt

Bob Irvine,
Your point that climate sensitivity cannot be assumed to the same for different forcings that couple to the climate system differently, is inherent in its nonlinear dynamic nature. This is pretty much admitted by Knutti and Heggerl. I’m surprised you didn’t also discuss solar variation in the UV range and its coupling to the stratosphere, and chemically through generation of the greenhouse gas ozone Here is the Knutti reference:
Knutti and Heggerl state in their 2008 review article in Nature Geoscience:
“The concept of radiative forcing is of rather limited use for forcings with strongly varying vertical or spatial distributions.”
or this:
“There is a difference in the sensitivity to radiative forcing for different forcing mechanisms, which has been phrased as their ‘efficacy’”

Bob: great post, thanks. The relative forcings you arrived at are consistent with the simple model I constructed to replicate SSTs since 1875 which was featured in a post by Norman Page here at WUWT a few months ago. Because the equilibrium time for solar forcing of ocean heat content is long as you point out, sunspot number needs to be integrated to represent the response properly. Once it is, it can be seen that the Sun increased OHC all the way from 1934 to 2003.
Konrad: looking forward to publishing your essay now the busy season is drawing to a close in Oz.

P. Solar

Konrad says: “Experiment 1 described below is an improvement on the version Bob has shown. ”
These experiments are very interesting. #1 especially so. Absorption of photons is a molecule by molecule process, as is evaporation. Clearly a surface molecule that has just absorbed a photon will be more likely to evaporate than one that has not.
Since LW penetrates so little most of this energy is precisely affecting molecules likely to evaporate.
Your experiment may be more indicative of tropics due to the water temperature.
Do you have results for the modified version posted anywhere?


Kinda on topic? The media walk back continues. Will it soon be a flood?
“Global warming: time to rein back on doom and gloom?”

wayne Job

One only has to look at fig 2 @3 to see that all past events of warm and cool periods are related to the vagarities of the sun.
The sun seems to have many cycles and not just the 11 year ones, that after a period of strenuous exercise it is resting, does not auger well for the global warming cause, nor for those that do not like cold winters.

Jim Cripwell

From the paper I read “The IPCC’s position is that climate sensitivity measurements” Assuming this is referring to the climate sensitivity of CO2, please note that, res ipsa loquitur, the climate sensitivity of CO2, however defined, has NEVER been measured, so this statement is nonsense. There are NO climate sensitivity of CO2 measurements; none whatsoever. Warmists will not admit that the CS of CO2 has never been measured, and as a result, the important implications of thsi fact cannot be properly discussed.

Nick Stokes is talking nonsense. The point at issue is whether DWIR can heat the bulk of the ocean, not whether the surface briefly absorbs and re-emits it. Konrad’s experiment shows the way forward. The reason CSIRO won’t do it under conditions better simulating the open ocean is they know it’ll blow their pet theory out of the water.

The money quote: “It is well known and accepted physics that Long wave radiation from GHGs only penetrates the oceans to a depth of a fraction of a millimetre. Water is almost totally opaque to these wavelengths. Short wave solar radiation, on the other hand, penetrates water to a depth of 10 meters or more and is, therefore, readily involved in ocean heat”…
To my layman mind, the lack of any evidence of the IPCC GCM predicted “Tropospheric Warm Zone” coupled with this interesting fact, (the above quote) Shows CO2 warms neither the atmosphere nor the oceans to any significant degree.
It’s amazing that a revelation of good news disappoints so many warmistas.
This chagrin at good tidings shows the warmistas true misanthropic desires.

Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
A post on WUWT which I expect to generate some interesting comment. Konrad’s experimental work published at the talkshop is featured.


By the way my last comment was written by no other than Geoffrey Lean. That’s right Geoffrey Lean. He mentions now looks into climate sensitivity.

I have used the temperature reconstructions of Mann 2008 EIV, Moberg 2005, Loehle 2008 and Ljungqvist 2010 to represent temperature change over the last millennium.
Mr. Irvine
The Loehle’s temperature reconstruction
has good correlation with the Arctic’s geomagnetic field variability, which is about two orders of magnitude greater than the heliospheric magnetic field at the Earth’s orbit.
In the Antarctic too, geomagnetic field directly correlates to the heliospheric magnetic field, but again is about two orders of magnitude greater than the heliospheric.

Nice reply Nick Stokes! You’re right of course. I was just making a snarky remark about Mr. [sic] Mann. However, I’ll bet he hasn’t done any experiment since undergrad days.
What I am getting at here is we have a new type of scientist: The desktop scientist. All they do is play on their computer combining and [“refining] adjusting other people’s studies and come up with some theory. The problem is all the’re doing is making paper mache. Mr. Mann correlated alot of papers and put them in a bath of refining water and made a paper mache hockey stick which soon disolved in a tidal wave of research. The papers he “refined” were not based on observation or experimentation so they disolved quite easily.
Interestingly Mr. [sic] Mann’s work revolved around tree rings. The root of tree ring studies is some obsessive, whose name I, unfortunately, can’t remember, who tramped all across the Northern part of the globe in the late 1800s taking tree bores elucidatiig tree rings. I am a betting man and I’ll bet a large amount of money that Mann has never taken a tree bore. The point is, in spite of the prop cross cut of a tree he uses in a photo op, is that if Mann had ever, ever made a tree bore he would have understood the limitations of tree rings. Articles and papers about his hockey stick do make good paper mache, however!


AW Time to make your tips and notes page much much smaller Anyway this may make an interesting posting “Astrophysicist Chabibullo Abdussamatov claims that the sun will radiate significantly less warmth in the coming years. “Consequently a ‘little ice age’ lies ahead.” from german skeptic site like to see Leifs take on this

tallbloke says: April 6, 2013 at 3:54 am

The ocean surface temperature determines the temperatures below. If it can be held at an average of 12 °C, that will keep the sea warm.
The Earth surface gets on average 238 W/m2 solar, and that’s a pretty good estimate for the ocean. A “black” (to IR) surface at 259°K emits 238 W/m2. A surface at 285°K emits 374 W/m2. Something has to supply the 115W/m2 difference. That’s down IR. In fact there’s evaporative loss, so more IR is needed to balance.
But if it does the surface is held at average 285°K. And the sea stays unfrozen.

“The ocean surface temperature determines the temperatures below. If it can be held at an average of 12 °C, that will keep the sea warm.”
Considering the relative heat capacities of air and water, and the fact that average near surface air temps lag SSTs by a few months, it’s obvious that the sea surface temperature is determined by the heat content below, not by the surface temp controlling OHC as Nick claims. As usual, the warmist theory has everything upside down.


First “the atmosphere acts like the glass of a hothouse” now it acts like a “sheet of tinfoil”?
Whatever people are smoking it must be “off the charts”(lol).

Bill Illis

The whole 3.0C per doubling proposition is based on the feedbacks (and if fact, how they multiply out and produce feedbacks on the initial feedbacks and then accumulate).
The values that are used for the feedbacks are carefully tuned to arrive at the 3.0C per doubling proposition (and to remain at the 3.0C which was guessed at in the beginning of the science before the feedback values and the forcing calculations for GHGs were finally sorted out – the science was not even sorted out before 3.0C per doubling was decided on).
For example, here are the IPCC feedback values:
Initial Doubled GHGs – +4.2 W/m2 –> +1.12C
Water Vapor Feedback -> +1.75 W/m2/K
Cloud Albedo Feedback -> +0.75 W/m2/K
Other Feedbacks -> -0.05W/m2/K
Total increase from Feedbacks (and feedbacks on feedbacks) -> +7.46 W/m2 –> +1.98C
Total Increase –> +3.05C per doubling
Let’s double the feedback values to:
Water Vapor Feedback -> +3.5 W/m2/K
Cloud Albedo Feedback -> +1.5 W/m2/K
Total increase from Feedbacks (and feedbacks on feedbacks) -> +242.1 W/m2 –> +48.1C
Total Increase –> +49.2C per doubling
Let’s cut the feedback values in half:
Water Vapor Feedback -> +0.875 W/m2/K
Cloud Albedo Feedback -> +0.375 W/m2/K
Total increase from Feedbacks (and feedbacks on feedbacks) -> +1.94 W/m2 –> +0.50C
Total Increase –> +1.6C per doubling
Let’s just reverse the sign of the cloud feedback:
Water Vapor Feedback -> +1.75 W/m2/K
Clouds Albedo Feedback -> -0.75 W/m2/K
Total increase from Feedbacks (and feedbacks on feedbacks) -> +1.40 W/m2 –> +0.37C
Total Increase –> +1.48C per doubling
The cloud feedback value is a make or break for this theory. We have no idea what it really is or whether it really has a positive sign or a negative sign. And even more so, the water vapor feedback is a make or break. At least it is based on another theory Classius Clapeyron, but so far this value looks to overstated by almost double.
There is room within this theory to examine at least the feedbacks (if not the temperature change from doubled CO2 itself). As this post does, we need to use empiricial data to see what is really correct.

Jimbo says:
April 6, 2013 at 3:33 am
Kinda on topic? The media walk back continues. Will it soon be a flood?
When someone like Lean starts to fray at the edges then you know something is afoot. He has long been a dyed-in-the-wool alarmist who appeared beyond redemption. Who’s next? George Monbiot?

P. Solar

Nick Stokes says “The surface temperature is maintained by heat from below and downward IR. The heat from sunlight alone is not enough to sustain the IR emission from a surface at say 10°C in midlatitude. It would freeze without IR.”
There is no “heat from the sun” it’s electro magnetic radiation. This energy but not “heat”.
It may be reasonable to suggest that not all the downward IR is instantly lost to evaporation but clearly a significant amount of it is. Saying it is all lost is as simplistic as IPCC assuming it is all absorbed.
” If you do an experiment on a little pot of water, it tells you about a little pot of water. ”
And if you do your experiments properly you can derive a result that will be applicable in a real situation. This is the basis of the fundamental gas laws that are built into climate models too.
Boyles Law, Charles’ Law etc. were all developed based on bench top experimentation. That does not mean they “don’t cut it”.
Konrad’s experiments are only a first step and could use some refinement but they sure seem to show that “assuming” all IR is absorbed is a false assumption.
Perhaps you could comment more objectively.


1. Please get the historical solar forcing right — it’s essentially constant.
2. The question about LWR effects on the ocean is moot. Energy added on the ocean surface shows up as extra watts, no matter what happens to it — either highers temps or added latent heat (water vapor), or a combination.


“Please get the historical solar forcing right — it’s essentially constant.”
Is it? What is it now? 1355, 1361, 1365, 1368?

Richard M

In a chaotic system climate sensitivity cannot be a constant. It is variable and varies based on the distance from attractor states. Even giving a range based on one experiment is problematic.


Doesn’t changes to cloud cover provide the biggest variable forcing? Did I miss something? How is that handled in the discussion? (is it bundled under cosmic ray changes?)

P. Solar says:April 6, 2013 at 6:08 am
“Saying it is all lost is as simplistic as IPCC assuming it is all absorbed.”

No-one says that. Trenberth’s 80 W/m2 evaporation is mostly ocean, and is worked out from rainfall (about 900 mm average, I believe). That’s only about 1/4 of down IR.


stan stendera says:
April 6, 2013 at 4:45 am

Nice reply Nick Stokes! You’re right of course. I was just making a snarky remark about Mr. [sic] Mann. However, I’ll bet he hasn’t done any experiment since undergrad days.
What I am getting at here is we have a new type of scientist: The desktop scientist. All they do is play on their computer combining and [“refining] adjusting other people’s studies and come up with some theory. The problem is all the’re doing is making paper mache. Mr. Mann correlated alot of papers and put them in a bath of refining water and made a paper mache hockey stick which soon disolved in a tidal wave of research. The papers he “refined” were not based on observation or experimentation so they disolved quite easily.

My response might be even snarkier, as I propose an analagous term for what they do–they’re masters of “mashup science”, where “mashup” comes from the practice of programmers assembling Internet systems from various programs authored by others. Sometimes mashups work; sometimes they don’t.
The hockey stick by “mashup scientist” Mann is the quintessential example of “mashup science”, and is of the second type (doesn’t work). Your use of the term “dissolves” is good, but “devolves” in the negative sense is applicable, too.


The most important fact given is that Short Wave, i.e., Ultraviolet radiation can penetrate 10 meters into the Oceans. During a Sunspot peak the amount of UV is up to 100 times [measured in space] a Sunspot minimum.
1) Sunspot peak -> the amount of energy due to UV deposited into the Oceans?
2) Sunspot minimum -> the amount of energy due to UV deposited into the Oceans?
3) TSI is nearly a constant, but UV radiation is not. What is the integral [area under the curve] of UV reaching the Oceans during a Sunspot Minimum/maximum?
4) Verify the +0.1C temperature difference between Sunspot Min./Max.?
5) Convert Sunspots to UV equivalent from 1650 until now. How does the integral of UV affect Ocean temperatures?
A simple proxy for UV is the 10.7cm Flux!

richard verney

It is difficult to see how DWLWIR can heat the oceans, and I am therefore not surprised by the results of the experiment referred to in this article.
Over the years, Willis and I have had a number of heated exchanges regarding this subject wherein I have asked him to explain the physical processes involved whereby DWLWIR can effectively heat the oceans, and although Willis has responded to me, he has never offered, what in my opinion, amounts to an explanation. It appears to me that essentially the main thrust of Willis’ position is that without DWLWIR, the oceans would freeze and therefore DWLWIR must be heating the oceans. I consider that to be a moot point, since the tropical ocean receives plenty of solar energy (sufficient to mean that in ordinary circumstances it would not freeze) and ocean currents distribute this excess solar energy polewards thereby heating the sub-tropical and higher latitude oceans preventing those oceans from freezing year round (high latitude oceans display seasonal freezing and one reason why the tropical ocean is predominantly capped at a temperature of about 30degC is because the excess solar energy is being circulated away from the tropical ocean before it heats the tropical ocean to a higher temperature).
I am interested in the precise physical process, if you like on a molecule by molecule basis, whereby DWLWIR heats the ocean and the energy therefrom is carried down to depth. This is the issue that I consider that Willis has failed to adequately address. At one time I suggested to Willis that he should write a second article on ‘radiating the oceans’ wherein he explores some of the issues in more detail. Let me explain what I consider to be the problem.
Water is a very effective absorber of LWIR. The optical physics is that half of all LWIR is absorbed within the first few microns (not millimetres) of water. Virtually, no LWIR can penetrate beyond 10 microns since more than 83% is fully absorbed within the first 10 microns (see http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/10/06/does-back-radiation-heat-the-ocean-part-one/ which contains an absorption plot taken from Wiki).
DWLWIR is omni-directional. It is often said that re-radiation is half up and half down, and, from this, people jump to the conclusion that DWLWIR is acting in a perpendicular downward direction. However, this is an over simplification, and the interaction of DWLWIR with the surface is at every angle between just more than 0 degrees and 90 degrees. Accordingly, 2/9th of all DWLWIR is impacting upon the oceans at an angle of incidence between say about 0.000001 deg and 9.999999 deg and the ocean surface. A further 2/9ths is impacting upon the oceans at an angle between about 10 deg and 19.999999 deg. The effect of this is that whilst some 50% of LWIR when operating in a perpendicular plane would be fully absorbed within 3 microns of the water, more than half of all DWLWIR is so absorbed within 3 microns, and about 50% even within just 2 microns (because of the omni-directional nature of this flux).
The atmosphere immediately above the oceans is not well understood. When discussing radiating the oceans, it is assumed that the oceans are still. However, in the real world, this is not true. In the real world, the average wind speed over the oceans is BF4 (see http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/global_winds.html) which is far from still and which is sufficient to wisp off the top surface layer of the ocean (which the human eye sees as white crested foam often referred to as white horses) and to disassociate this from the ocean surface below. But averages, mask reality due to variability, and the Atlantic and South Pacific are subjected to greater wind speeds (see http://www.ceoe.udel.edu/windpower/ResourceMap/index-world.html). As we are presently reading this article, many areas of the oceans are being subjected to BF 6 to 7, and some areas to BF 10 to 12. The reality is that large areas of the oceans are under-going very rough conditions and this has an impact on the atmosphere immediately above the oceans.
In the real world, immediately above a large extent of the oceans, is wind borne and wind swept spray and spume, which has fully disassociated itself from the ocean below. It is important to appreciate that this is distinct from water vapour, it consists of fine water droplets which are more than just a few microns in diameter and which are fully airborne and which are not in contact with the top surface layer of the oceans. DWLWIR is impacting upon this wind swept spray and spume and due to the optical absorption characteristics of LWIR in water it is being absorbed by the spray and spume energising the water molecules therein.
This disassociated layer of windswept spray and spume acts rather like the equivalent of a parasol (or sun cream/block). It absorbs some part of the DWLWIR and it thereby prevents the absorbed DWLWIR reaching the top surface layer of the oceans. So two issues arise. First how much of the total DWLWIR coming from high above is absorbed in the layer of windswept spray and spume? Second, what effect does the absorption of this DWLWIR have on the spray and spume? With regard to the latter, how do the energized water molecules in the spray and spume respond, where and how is the energy so absorbed by these molecules dissipated elsewhere? To take just a few examples, does it drive evaporation of some part of the spray and spume? Does it lead to increased convection? Does it heat the surrounding air by conduction? What part of the wind swept spray and spume eventually reconnects with the ocean (may be 100s of metres later) thereby warming the top surface layer of the ocean? If the energy absorbed in the spray and spume powers evaporation at a speed greater than the time required for the windswept spray and spume to reconnect with the top surface of the ocean, then it would appear that the energy from the DWLWIR never reaches the oceans. I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I consider that this is an issue that needs investigation and consideration.
Assuming that DWLWIR is able to make its way through the disassociated layer of windswept spray and spume, the DWLWIR will then get absorbed in the very top micron layers of the surface. Bear in mind that more than 50% of LWIR is absorbed within just 3 microns. Due to DWLWIR being omni-directional, in practice, approximately 50% is absorbed within just 2 microns. That is a lot of energy. What happens to all this energy? In particular through what process can it be dissipated?
Willis suggests that the radiative budget for the oceans is: the oceans are receiving: 170 W m^-2 (solar) + 320 W m^-2 (DWLWIR), and are losing 390 W m^-2 (surface radiation) and 100 W m^-2 (sensible heat/convective/evaporative losses), thereby balancing at 490 W m^-2. If those figures are correct (leaving aside the issue of how much DWLWIR is absorbed by the disassociated layer of spray & spume), it means that the first 2 microns of the ocean surface layer are effectively absorbing about 160 W m^-2 (one can ignore the effect of solar since fortunately almost none of this is absorbed within the first few microns or even the first few millimetres of the ocean but is instead absorbed at a depth below the very top surface layer). The 160 W m^-2 is the figure for the absorption of DWLWIR in the first couple of microns of the notional average ocean, of course, the tropical ocean would be absorbing far more; may be, as much as about 60% more.
160 W m^-2 is a lot of energy, and should of course be considered in joule seconds. This would lead to substantial evaporation from the top 2 micron layer unless this energy can be dissipated/sequestered downwards at a rate/speed faster than the rate/speed of evaporation. So how can it be dissipated/sequestered downwards, and at what speed can this be achieved?
It would appear that this energy cannot be dissipated/sequestered downwards by conduction because at the top surface layer, the energy flux is upwards, not downwards and there appears to be no known mechanism whereby energy can be conducted against the direction of flux. It is vitally important to bear in mind the very top few microns of the oceans is cooler than the ocean layers below. This is probably because the evaporation which takes place, takes place from the top few microns thereby cooling these microns of water. See, for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_surface_temperature from which it will be seen that the top surface of the ocean is cooler, and that the ocean temperature increases from the top 10 microns through to about 5 metres. It is only as from a depth of about 5metres onwards does the ocean begin to cool. It follows from this that energy flux is upwards not downwards, so how can any energy absorbed within the first 2, 3 or so microns be conducted downwards? I understand form one of Willis’ responses that Willis accepts that the energy absorbed in the top few microns cannot be conducted downwards.
Can the energy be dissipated/sequestered downwards by some other process such as ocean overturning? Without wishing to put words in Willis’ mouth, I understand this to be his position. However, I perceive problems with this. First, the greater part of ocean overturning is a nocturnal process/phenomena. It is not clear how much overturning takes place during the day. Second, ocean overturning is a slow mechanical process, and since it is a slow mechanical process it is difficult to see that it can dissipate energy downwards at a rate faster than that at which it is being received. If it acts at a slower pace than the speed of receipt, then evaporation from the top micron layer would take place before the energy can be dissipated to and lower depth, Third, ocean over turning is essentially a vertical current, so can it effectively wrap over the top micron (or top few microns) and take these microns downwards. It is far from clear that it can wrap over the top micron, and if it cannot, it could not take the energy absorbed in that top micron to lower depth at any speed, let alone at a speed greater than the speed at which the top micron absorbs DWLWIR.
Of course, I have no real answer to these issues. They are merely matters that require consideration and need to be addressed by anyone who asserts that DWLWIR in some way heats the oceans.
One obvious answer to all of this is that the measured 255K DWLWIR is merely a signal but is not in practice sensible energy capable of performing sensible work on an ocean which is at a temperature of say some 302K (tropical ocean) or some 288K (average ocean surface temperature). I am not saying that is indeed the case, but simply that it is one possible explanation.
As far as I am concerned, I consider the null hypothesis energy budget of the oceans to be: the oceans receive: 170 W m^-2 (solar), and are losing 70 W m^-2 (radiation loss) and 100 W m^-2 (sensible heat/convective/evaporative losses), thereby balancing at 170 W m^-2 and presently I remain sceptical that the energy budget is as Willis puts forward in his Article on ‘Radiating the Oceans’.

Leonard Weinstein

Bob Irvine,
You were doing fairly well until you commented on back radiation. It is true that back radiation does not directly heat the ocean. It is solar radiation (and a much smaller amount of energy from the interior of the Earth) that heats the ocean. However, back radiation SLOWS the radiation cooling from the ocean, resulting in a higher equilibrium temperature than without it. Your experiment is a typical one that misses the basic physics, due to it having several dominant factors that prevent the correct physics from being observed. A discussion at:
And a similar version at The Air Vent, describe the physics.
Keep in mind that not only is the back radiation absorbed at the thin layer of the surface, but outgoing radiation also leaves from that same thin layer. Evaporation and convection are far the dominant sources of heat transfer from the surface, but without greenhouse gases that cause the back radiation, which are also related to the altitude of radiation leaving from the atmosphere, the atmosphere would not get rid of the energy carried by convection and evaporation. In that case ALL of the energy radiated to space would have to come from the surface directly, and the equilibrium temperature would be lower.


An aside -> Quiet Sun, less UV to enter the Oceans; reduced heating.
The La Nina is the norm for the Pacific Ocean’s Equatorial circulation pattern. The El Nino is the exception due to Solar heating since 1650.
Prediction: The El Nino will be greatly reduced if not vanish; these will be replaced by warmer and cooler La Nina. We have never been through a long term cooling cycle starting from a warm Planet. What a time for great research!

P. Solar

Bill Illis says:
“The whole 3.0C per doubling proposition is based on the feedbacks (and if fact, how they multiply out and produce feedbacks on the initial feedbacks and then accumulate).
The values that are used for the feedbacks are carefully tuned to arrive at the 3.0C per doubling proposition (and to remain at the 3.0C which was guessed at in the beginning of the science before the feedback values and the forcing calculations for GHGs were finally sorted out – the science was not even sorted out before 3.0C per doubling was decided on).”
Point well made with all the following figures showing how sensitive the result is to changes in these assumptions and guesses.
So the bottom line, behind the side show of the climate models, is that they “knew” what the answer was before they started and made sure that the models produced it using what Freeman Dyson and others have referred to as fudge factors.
Climate models have been used as an elaborate (and expensive) game of smoke and mirrors to dress up the crude assumptions that we had 30 years ago.

richard verney

Konrad says:
April 6, 2013 at 12:01 am
I have read your experiments with interest.
I consider that one needs to conduct an experiment to consider whether any low incident LWIR is reflected by water (or ice). Water (and ice) reflects some low incident sunlight, Does water (or ice) reflect any low incident LWIR?
This is important since it appears to be assumed that DWLWIR is acting in a perpendicular plane. However, re-radiation is omni-directional such that in practice some part of the DWLWIR is not inter-acting with the surface on a perpendicular plane, but is instead inter-acting at low incidence (say less than 15 degrees to the horizontal).
If some part of low incident LWIR is reflected by water (or ice) then the K&T energy budget which shows reflected solar may be erroneous in not showing a component for reflected DWLWIR.
If some element of low incident DWLWIR is reflected by water (or ice) then folowing from above, the K&T energy budget would not be in balance. It goes without saying that if even just a couple of percent of DWLWIR is simply reflected rather than absorbed this would have significant implications on the correctness of a balanced energy budget.

Pamela Gray

The readers here sure are quick. Less than 5 comments down and someone brought up the insulation qualities of snow and ice. That the investigator would make such a contrary statement leaves me to wonder about the entire article. A mistake made at the basic physical science level will multiply as the experiment grows. Big oops.

Rud Istvan

While there is much to applaud here (actual experimentation, ranging from multiple observations) there is also room for some skepticism. The derived value for GHG sensitivity is even below that of Lindzen and Choi (2011), which itself is too low because of the Large size of the implied negative feedback.
What is known from observation ( even though much of it is newer than or ignored by AR4) is that the water vapor feedback ( which is obviously positive or we would not exist) is less than the models show. That is why the troposphere hot spot does not exist. UTrH declines with temperature rather than remaining roughly constant. The most likely reason is an expanded version of Lindzens adaptive iris hypothesis– we know the models understate precipitation, especially in the tropics. More precipitation means less humidity to be convected into the UT, and also more atmospheric residual latent heat to radiate away as OLR.
And the models underestimate clouds, especially the lower/ mid clouds that tend to cool. Observationally, clouds increased rather than decreased from 1965 to about 2000 ( both in ICOADS and ISSCP). The positive cloud forcing in both AR4 and AR5SOD is much more likely to be zero, as an honest assessment if Dessler (2010) would conclude.
The combination, plus four other lines of independent evidence, suggest an equilibrium climate sensitivity between 1.5 and 1.9 rather than 3 as AR4 concludes.
Exhaustive details are given with about 200 references in the climate chapter of The Arts of Truth.
This all suggests more refinement and reconciliation of lab experiment, observational data, and theory is in order. The science is FAR from settled, as the observational pause in temperature now itself proves.


It would seem that the opacity to visible-IR wavelengths (both incoming and outgoing), the amount of reflective surface cover and the structure variability within the ionospheric layers, the mesosphere and upper troposphere have varying effects on the heat budget over time. The bending of the magnetosphere during impulse arrivals allows different distributions & mixing within each layer and those effects are unknown.
The changes happening within the planets hot ferrous core are not understood, which have dramatic effects as the magnetic field lines perform self correction, wandering and intensity modifications (eventually hitting a null and changing polarity).
The sign, depth and intensity of the Indian ocean dipole, PDO, NAO, AO, Antarctic stream and the MEI’s persistence seem to be intertwined with each other and the changes within the planets core.
But, it’s good to know the science is settled!

Pamela Gray

That a lack of snow and ice combined with dry air releases heat in areas (IE Arctic areas) that are prone to strong radiative conditions (heat is released and rises right through the dry cold atmosphere) brings to mind a hypothetical “I wonder if”. When incoming current are colder and winds calmer, polar sea ice caps build up and extend their blanket during the melt season when, preventing heat release, thus keeping the major ocean currents coming back out of that area warmer. However, when equatorial La Nina events, pilled on top of each other in rapid success, soak up clear sky solar warmth, this warmth eventually returns to the Arctic as warmer incoming currents, warm enough and creating winds that overcome the insulating ice blanket thus reducing its extent and allowing the warm currents coming into the Arctic to once again release heat, sans its blanket, at the pole. To me, this feels like hypothetical natural oscillating behavior that would take quite some time to complete a full cycle.

Pamela Gray

Dang it is hard to type on a phone screen!!!!!

Pamela Gray

A lack of a snow and ice blanket combined with dry air can release heat in areas that are prone to strong radiative conditions. This brings to mind a hypothetical Arctic “I wonder if”.
When incoming Arctic ocean currents are colder and winds calmer, polar sea ice caps build up and extend their blanket, even during the melt season. This prevents oceanic heat release, thus keeping the major ocean currents coming back out of that area warmer.
However, when equatorial La Nina events pile on top of each other in rapid succession, the ocean soaks up clear sky solar warmth. This warmth eventually returns to the Arctic as warmer incoming currents that are warm enough to overcome the insulating ice blanket thus reducing its extent (and possibly helping to create winds that work to push that blanket back even more). With the blanket turned back, currents coming into the Arctic once again release heat at the pole. And leave with a lot less stored heat.
To me, this feels like hypothetical natural oscillating behavior that would take quite some time to complete a full cycle.
There. Much better. Full size key boards are necessary for this old typist.