Temperature and TOA Forcing

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I’ve been thinking about temperature and top-of-atmosphere (TOA) forcing. TOA forcing is the imbalance between the TOA upwelling and downwelling radiation. The CERES satellite dataset contains observations of the TOA radiation imbalance on a gridcell-by-gridcell basis. It is calculated as the downwelling solar radiation for that month by gridcell, minus upwelling reflected solar radiation, minus upwelling longwave radiation. Figure 1 shows the distribution of the TOA radiation imbalance around the planet.

 

Average TOA Radiation Imbalance 2000 2014Figure 1. Average top-of-atmosphere (TOA) imbalance. 

Some areas in Figure 1, such as those around the tropics, absorb more radiation than they emit (positive values). The extra-tropics and the poles, on the other hand, emit more radiation than they are absorbing (negative values). The balance is maintained by the constant transfer of heat between the tropics and the poles by means of the ocean and atmosphere .

We can also take a look at the amazing stability of the net TOA radiation over time. Figure 2 shows the month-by-month changes in the global net TOA radiation.

 

CERES net toa radiation gaussian decompFigure 2. Decomposition of the net TOA radiation into the seasonal and residual components. Top panel shows the raw data, the observed monthly changes in the net TOA radiation. The middle panel shows the seasonal component, i.e. the average values which repeat every year. The bottom panel shows the observed data minus the seasonal component. Blue line shows the gaussian smooth of the raw data. Dotted horizontal gold lines show the standard deviation of the residuals.

The annual swings in the net TOA radiation are the result of the earth moving nearer to and further from the sun. As one might expect in a responsive system, the change in net TOA radiation is considerably smaller than the change in the solar radiation. When the downwelling solar radiation varies, the variation is partially counteracted by changes in the upwelling longwave and shortwave.

As mentioned, the net TOA radiation is also remarkable for its stability (bottom panel, Figure 2). The standard deviation of the global imbalance in net TOA radiation is about six-tenths of a watt per square metre (dotted horizontal gold lines). Note also that over the fourteen-year period there is no trend in the net TOA radiation.

With all of that as prologue, let me move on to my latest peregrinations through the CERES satellite dataset. I decided to take a look, on a gridcell by gridcell basis, at the relationship between the net TOA radiation imbalance and the surface temperature. It is often useful to look separately at the land and the ocean. Figure 3 is a scatterplot of the net TOA radiation versus the surface temperature, by gridcell, looking at just the ocean data.

 

CERES ocean annual average temperature vs toa imbalanceFigure 3. Annual averages, ocean temperature versus net TOA radiation imbalance, ocean only. Blue dots show individual ocean gridcells. Red line shows a loess smooth of the data. Areas below freezing are ice-covered ocean. Dotted black horizontal line shows 30°C, which is the approximate maximum open ocean average temperature. A positive net TOA value shows that incoming solar is greater than outgoing solar + longwave.

As one might expect, there is indeed a relationship between the sustained TOA imbalance and the temperature. And as one might also expect, increasing net TOA radiation is associated with increasing temperature. However, the relationship is far from linear. Instead, it varies with the temperature.

Temperature response to forcing is largest at temperatures below freezing (steeply increasing red line at left of Figure 3). Above freezing the temperature response is roughly linear up to about 20°C or so. Above about 20°C, the temperature becomes less and less responsive to increasing radiation (leveling off of red line at top right of Figure 3).

Note that in fact, we should expect this pattern. This is in part because for any heat engine, in general parasitic losses go up as some increasing function of input energy. A car is a good example. If you double the amount of gas it’s getting, you don’t get twice the speed. Similarly, we’d expect a decreasing temperature response as the input energy continues to increase. I’ve previously shown that parasitic losses (sensible and latent heat losses from the surface) increase with temperature in a post entitled Marginal Parasitic Loss Rates.

As I mentioned above, the relationship between TOA radiation imbalance and surface temperature over the ocean is far from linear. But that non-linearity pales compared to the situation over the land. Figure 4 shows that situation.

 

CERES land annual average temperature vs toa imbalanceFigure 4. As in Figure 3, but for land only. 

That’s about as non-linear as I can imagine. Note how there seems to be some kind of upper limit on land temperatures regardless of the TOA imbalance. Now, some of the non-linearity comes from altitude, since the higher you go the colder it gets. The very cold data at the bottom of Figure 4, for example, comes from the high plateaus of Antarctica. However, adjusting for altitude at a nominal rate of 1°C per hundred metres of elevation only solves part of the problem. Figure 5 shows the same data used in Figure 4 after adding one degree per hundred metres of elevation.

 

CERES land adjusted annual average temperature vs toa imbalanceFigure 5. As in Figure 4, but with the temperatures adjusted for elevation by adding one degree C for every hundred metres of altitude. Note the different scale from Figure 4.

As you can see, although this is a crude adjustment method, it brings Antarctica much more into line. However, it doesn’t change what’s happening up at around 30°C. Just as in the ocean, at the top end the land temperature is pretty much decoupled from the radiation imbalance.

Conclusions? I don’t have a whole lot of them. This is all part of my continuing effort to understand this marvelous and mysterious climate system. The one solid conclusion is that the relationship between forcing and temperature is both non-linear and temperature dependent, with the temperature response generally diminishing with increasing temperature. My other conclusion is that given the significant lack of linearity, any average value for the relationship between TOA radiation and temperature is bound to be both misleading and meaningless.

Best regards to all,

w.

My Usual Request: If you disagree with someone, please quote the exact words you disagree with, so that we can all understand the precise nature of your objection.

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179 thoughts on “Temperature and TOA Forcing

  1. As soon as I click on ‘Read more of this post’ I get a dark blue sceen with black lettering on it which is unreadable. This has been going on for several months now. I have tried everything to get a normal black and white screen but nothing works. Can you fix this?
    Roger Dewhurst

    • Roger,
      Something with your browser, computer, or network that you should try to fix yourself. Works fine here.

    • Roger Dewhurst,
      It is apparently a problem on your end. If it was a site problem others would have been quick to complain. As you say this has been going on for some time it is apparently specific to your machine. I suggest your computer may be infected with malware. Running a program which checks for such things would be a good idea.

    • What happens for me is that the titles go white(vanish) after clickin on them. Pretty annoying.

      • What happens for me is that the titles go white(vanish) after clickin on them. Pretty annoying.
        This goes for the mobile theme. I run android but it’s the same on all browsers (3).

      • My Safari browser displays no problems at all. There are also no buttons or phrases at the bottom of each teaser/summary. I click on the article’s title to open up the full article and comments. I have never had any problem through multiple upgrades of Safari on any platform including three generations of iPhone. Same with Chrome. I suspect you will get many comments saying the same thing about Windows.

    • The words “Read more of this post” are not contained in WUWT postings, so you must be reading this via some RSS feed or news aggregator, which typically display a brief summary and button to read further. I suspect this is causing your problem.
      Try going directly to http://wattsupwiththat.com/ and if your problem disappears then the aggregator is to blame.
      I also use an aggregator (http://www.ighome.com/) but don’t have any problems with it.

    • No problems for me, on my iPad, my android phone, or my PC laptop computer running windows 8 or my desktop running windows 7 or any of my other devices.

      • You don’t want to go messing with the toaster or this could happen.

        Willis I don’t understand a quarter of what you are talking about but there is a logic and flow to it that interests me.
        James Bull

  2. There has to be a component of downwelling solar radiation that is absorbed during the process of photosynthesis, being converted to chemical energy. Is it possible to calculate (approximate) that component. Has it ever been considered.
    It has to produce some, perhaps miniscule imbalance. The greatest imbalance would presumably be in the tropics.

    • Indeed. Always note the pieces that are missing. Out of sight, out of mind.
      I too have thought this several times, but forgot it while considering Willis’ excellent visuals.
      Thanks, TedM.

    • Well I’m not any sort of expert on photosynthesis; quite a dummy in fact; but I do know that on infrared (near) film, green plants with chlorophyll show up bright red. The color is irrelevant, but this indicates that chlorophyll strongly reflects at least the near infrared (1 micron region).
      That further suggests that the process of photosynthesis in plants, requires higher energy shorter wavelength photons than even 1.0 microns. I would bet that 500 nm photons would be pretty good at energizing photosynthesis.
      This would then lead me to conclude, that plant biological materials (animal too) are quite insensitive to LWIR.
      A 1.0 micron photon is about 1.3 eV. So a 10 micron photon corresponding to 288 K thermal radiation, would be 130 meV, and wouldn’t even tickle any biological material.
      That’s just a hunch; and my opinion. So nyet on citing this in your PhD dissertation.
      G

      • Chlorophyll absorption peaks in the red and blue, below 450 and above 600 to 700, however at 500 virtually no absorption. You’re right that LWIR is not a player.

      • George, you make a good case that the LWIR isn’t a player. But the energy absorbed by chlorophyll in the direct short wave radiation still needs to be accounted for.
        I was also wandering about the process of geologic weathering. Could the mechanical-chemical weathering of feldspar into clay (to name one reaction) endothermic? “Most natural weathering reactions are exothermic.” The gravitational potential energy release from eroded materials moving to a lower elevation is certainly exothermic. So energy can’t be sequestered in weathering processes.

    • This component is ignored by NASA, as it says right on their energy budget website that for temperature to remain in equilibrium then outgoing radiation must equal incoming radiation.
      But our intuition is that the radiation absorbed by plants, resulting in trillions of tons of biomass each year, would certainly be important enough to consider in the equation. You may be able to see the effect on figure one. Notice how some areas of dense vegetation absorb more radiation than areas without vegetation at the same latitudes, e.g. Congo v East Africa, Amazon Basin v deciduous forests on the coast.
      I’ve also noticed higher absorption with higher elevation but I don’t know how to explain that — if anyone can that would be great — e.g. Tibetan Plateau relative to south east forests of China, the Tibesti Mountains in Chad relative to the surrounding Sahara. These areas would also be contrary to the general trend that Willis noted, of more outgoing radiation in cooler areas than in warm areas. The Tibestis could be explained perhaps by a slightly higher humidity but what about the Tibetan Plateau?

    • TedM May 8, 2015 at 11:54 pm says:

      There has to be a component of downwelling solar radiation that is absorbed during the process of photosynthesis, being converted to chemical energy. Is it possible to calculate (approximate) that component. Has it ever been considered.
      It has to produce some, perhaps miniscule imbalance. The greatest imbalance would presumably be in the tropics.Ted,

      Thanks, Ted, interesting question. While there is a component of sunlight that is absorbed during photosynthesis, like all energy it is neither created nor destroyed in the process. And when the plant dies, the energy is released in the form of heat as the plant matter decays.
      In other words, since there is energy out in the same amount (although not the same form) as the energy in, there is no permanent “imbalance”, minuscule or otherwise. We get a temporary imbalance due to the seasons and other variations in plant coverage, but there’s no permanent “leakage” or imbalance involved.
      Best regards,
      w.

      • For plant material sequestered in coal or other geologic beds, the cycle time is so long that for a giga-year or two, it represents a sink, or imbalance.

      • What about plant material sequestered in housing? And paper which is subsequently buried? I though we’d deforested a fair part of our planet and now we’re in the process of re-greening it?

  3. “TOA forcing is the imbalance between the TOA upwelling and downwelling radiation.” What a stupid and unnecessary term ‘TOA forcing’ is. The term ‘forcing’ implies that there is some mass x acceleration going on due to a radiation imbalance, which is complete nonsense.
    Use of the term is typical of ‘climate science’, ie trying to make something natural seem to the layman like something unnatural and harmful.

    • Concepts and their associated properties have to have names, else we could not easily discuss and share thoughts about them. So scientists and mathematicians are allowed to attach names to these concepts and properties.
      The general rule is “Don’t make up a new name if there is already a name for that concept”. Another rule is “You can reuse an existing name for a new concept, if the concepts are similar and don’t contradict each other”.
      The idea here is “Everything has a name”. This is a quote from Helen Keller’s autobiography, describing the moment when she realized that Ann Sullivan was writing “water” on her palm, while holding her other under a faucet.
      So what name would you use to formally define the difference between incoming and outgoing radiative energy?
      I agree the term “forcing” is a bit pretentious, suggesting some induced motion (change in temperature). Not as elegant as Newton’s definition “force”,F=dp/dt, where F is not only proportional to the rate of change of momentum p (“motion”), it is the rate of change of motion (cf. Hamilton’s notion of ‘forceless’ physics).
      Note that several other fields of study have also “hijacked” this term: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forcing.
      But in climatology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiative_forcing) we are led to believe that a forcing causes a linear change in temperature. Not exactly correct, as Willis has pointed out here.

      • When the subject is radiative flux as estimated at TOA, the term I most often read is energy balance, or imbalance as the case may be.

      • So what name would you use to formally define the difference between incoming and outgoing radiative energy?

        “Energy imbalance” or just “imbalance” would do. Why invent a term that implies that the imbalance is actually causing something when it may be the result of some mechanism?

      • Weather is a deterministic physical phenomenon. As such, so is climate. In short, everything has a cause.

      • Concepts and their associated properties have to have names, else we could not easily discuss and share thoughts about them.
        ====================
        define:
        global warming
        climate change
        two terms regularly bandied about that have no consistent meaning. the meaning changes depending upon the speaker and audience.
        both terms should include the sum of natural and human induced effects, but depending on the speaker and audience they do not.

      • Brandon
        Are you on drugs or something? BTW this is in no ways a request for you to spew your medical history or personal life on the internet.

      • Weather is a deterministic physical phenomenon. As such, so is climate. In short, everything has a cause.
        ================
        for all practical purposes, only the simplest of systems are deterministic. for all practical purposes there are an infinite number of futures possible for the same set of forcings.
        For example: if one was to take two identical earths, with identical solar systems and suns, and identical forcings, within a short period of time the two earths would diverge to have different futures, different weather and different climates.
        As such, trying to calculate the future is a fools errand, because for all practical purposes the future is a probability with multiple outcomes possible from a single starting point. Where we will arrive is not an average of all possibilities.

      • Also don’t forget, the first thing a new group do in order to differentiate themselves from the ‘pack’ is to define a new language. They do this so that others, unfamiliar with the terms, will think the group know what they are talking about. In the case of climate science, they are totally unfamiliar/unschooled in any associated areas of science or engineering so they redefine commonly used terms. A simple example is their use the term forcing for feedback.

      • Alex,

        Are you on drugs or something?

        Yes, as a matter of fact.

        BTW this is in no ways a request for you to spew your medical history or personal life on the internet.

        It’s real easy; don’t bring it up and I won’t talk about it.

      • ferdberple,

        for all practical purposes, only the simplest of systems are deterministic.

        Even Schrödinger’s cat?

        for all practical purposes there are an infinite number of futures possible for the same set of forcings.

        If you’re interested in keeping track of every quantum state of every fundamental particle down to each tick of Planck time, sure.

        For example: if one was to take two identical earths, with identical solar systems and suns, and identical forcings, within a short period of time the two earths would diverge to have different futures, different weather and different climates.

        Weather will diverge immediately. As for climate, what you suggest implies an inherently unstable system. Save for things like Dansgaard–Oeschger events, comet/asteriod strikes and major volcanic eruptions, that is not what we see in the paleo record.

        As such, trying to calculate the future is a fools errand, because for all practical purposes the future is a probability with multiple outcomes possible from a single starting point. Where we will arrive is not an average of all possibilities.

        Chaotic behaviour does not entail a purely stochastic system by my understanding of the relevant concepts. My view is that what folks often mean when they say “random” is “stuff which cannot be predicted”. Lorentz was thinking in terms of deterministic physics when he spoke of a butterfly having an effect on the exact timing and path of a hurricane weeks in advance of its formation.
        Numerical weather prediction is an initial values problem. Climate, being statistics of weather over decades of time, is a boundary value problem which is deeply rooted in the law of conservation of energy. If solar output increased 10% tomorrow and sustained that level for decades, surely you would not tell me with a straight face that over those decades the planet would more likely cool off than warm up on average.

      • Joe Crawford,

        In the case of climate science, they are totally unfamiliar/unschooled in any associated areas of science or engineering so they redefine commonly used terms.

        Pure taurine fecal material.

        A simple example is their use the term forcing for feedback.

        Citation please.

      • How about “Residual”
        Webster def: – 1a : the difference between results obtained by observation and by computation from a formula or between the mean of several observations and any one of them
        Which precisely describes this measurement imbalance.
        Calling it a “Forcing” is a description implying a hypothesized mechanism.
        A value of +1 W/m2 as a residual may not indicate Global Warming forcing being stored in the system. Rather it might be a measure of the mechanical, physical chemical and biochemical potential energy balance changes. The Resigual is not automatically a GW Forcing, but an unaccounted for energy expense from the balance sheet.
        assuming, of course, that Residual also includes instrument, measurement, and processing errors.

      • “How about “Residual”
        Webster def: – 1a : the difference between results obtained by observation and by computation from a formula or between the mean of several observations and any one of them
        Which precisely describes this measurement imbalance.”
        So how about “measurement imbalance”?
        Although I think Ian W has it right when he says:
        ““Energy imbalance” or just “imbalance” would do. Why invent a term that implies that the imbalance is actually causing something when it may be the result of some mechanism?”

      • “How about ‘Residual’?”
        In modelling the term residualusually refers to the difference between a model estimate and the true value, i.e. the error or incorrectly explained part of the model’s estimate.
        So I think that would change the usual understanding of ‘residual’. For example, radiative forcings are used to estimate future climate temperatures, which tend to be wrong. So what would we call the unexplained differences? The “residuals of the residual”? Too confusing IMHO.
        I also don’t think ‘energy imbalance’ works either, because it is too generic, referring to any imbalance of energy. Whereas ‘forcing’ seems to require a dependent object. Forcing what? It is a variable used to model (i.e. explain or predict) another dependent variable, usually temperature.
        So I think we’re stuck with ‘forcing’.

      • I still like “Residual” as the best term.
        “Forcing” implies there is something there, even though we don’t know what it is.
        “Imbalance”….(cringe)… accurate, but much too close to the concept of “Tipping Point” for me.
        “Error”… Charitably it isn’t error so much as un accounted for in the model. Hence Residual.
        But in the interest of finding a better word, how about
        “Slop”?

      • “So what name would you use to formally define the difference between incoming and outgoing radiative energy?”
        What’s wrong with the word “difference”? It explains what is happening, therefore, it is self-defining and has the great advantage of being neutral in meaning.

    • The term “forcing” legitimately applies to the entire fraction of TSI that is thermalized by the climate system, not merely the radiative imbalance at TOA. It’s that fraction, which is strongly modulated by clouds, that physically produces the observed temperatures. That said, it requires considerable scientific naivete to expect a static linear relationship between TOA imbalance and surface temperatures. The CERES results displayed here are quite unsurprising.

  4. Willis, in the last 3 lines of the body of the post you state “My other conclusion is that given the significant lack of linearity, any average value for the relationship between TOA radiation and temperature is bound to be both misleading and meaningless.”
    True. But I am sure that others have read your previous posts or have looked at the relationships, or at least the nonlinear relationships, themselves.
    Misleading and meaningless, yes. But I would also suggest and sometimes knowingly and deliberately deceptive. Isn’t that what a single value of CO2 forcing, or a range of CO2 forcing imply?

    • Mmm … thanks, Leonard, but no, I wouldn’t say folks are being “knowing and deliberately deceptive”. I try to stay away from imputations of motive, I hardly know what my own motives are.
      w.

      • Willis,
        The data you provided here is very interesting but it does not support your conclusion that global average temperature vs. forcing at the top of the atmosphere cannot be approximated as a linear response. You did point out that even though energy in minus out varies a lot with latitude, the global net difference is close to zero.
        Two examples of a very close to linear relation between temperature variation and changing in solar forcing are changes in seasonal temperatures at a specific latitude and seasonal temperature range vs. latitudes.
        In the Minneapolis area at 45% latitude a plot of seasonal historical mean weekly temperatures, shifted 4.3 weeks to compensate for heat storage delay, vs. solar input fits a straight line with very little scatter. The temperature range is from –12 C to 23 C and the solar input range is about 90 to 340 Wm-2.
        For US mid continent data from 5 locations (Tulsa, Kansas City, Des Moines, Minneapolis and International Falls) a plot of summer to winter peak to peak solar input vs. historical seasonal temperature range was also close to a straight line. The temperature range in C divided by the range of incoming solar energy (using an albedo factor of 31%) were for the 5 locations in n delta C / delta Wm-2
        0.1364 0.1360 0.1373 0.1365 0.1350
        Indicating close to a linear relation. Temperature range was from 27.9 to 38.1 C and solar input from 200 to 279 Wm-2.
        Even the 4th power relation of radiation to absolute temperature is close to linear over a few degrees. Approximate linearity of temperature vs. forcing is very important since it allows the use of the superposition theorem, which means temperature changes from forcings from different causes including those from feedbacks can be combined by summation. Here we are referring to only global average temperatures where many of the very complex heat transfers within the planet cancel out. But forcing and feedbacks must be expanded past just at the top of the atmosphere to include those between the surface and the atmosphere such as caused by evaporation and atmosphere absorption of solar radiation by water vapor and clouds. For example see my “Improved simple climate sensitivity model”
        http://edberry.com/blog/climate-clash/g90-climate-sensitivity/improved-simple-climate-sensitivity-model/

  5. Tried Ctrl F to find out where “Read more of this post” occurred, and it sent me straight to your email, Roger. If not there, not possible to fix!

  6. Willis,
    “My other conclusion is that given the significant lack of linearity, any average value for the relationship between TOA radiation and temperature is bound to be both misleading and meaningless.”
    Does anyone make such claims about the relation between local TOA IR and local surface temperature?
    The whole Hadley cell thing is based on a separation. Air rises at the tropics and radiates accumulated heat as it travels high and poleward. Then it descends and warms (as trade winds) moving back toward the equator. There is no particular reason why local TOA temperature should be linked to local surface.

  7. A thoughtful post and one firmly rooted in observation – the kind of honest investigation that will eventually prevail in the climate debate, provoking further investigation to reveal, once and for all, whether the concept of a world dangerously overheated by accumulating anthropogenic GHGs is a scientifically realistic one or not.

  8. Willis, are you aware of the paper by Chung, Yeomans and Soden in GRL from 2010?
    They did something very similar to what you showed, but extend it little bit further by looking at the relation between radiation and temperature on different timescales. The paper claims that the slope of this relation is independent of the timescale with a value just over 2 W/m2/K. Because the no-feedback value of the same parameter is presumably the well known 3.6 W/m2/K, the paper concludes that the observed relation proofs the existence of positive feedbacks in the climate system.
    However, I could argue (their Figure 2) that on longer interannual timescales their fit to the data is wrong: there are two outliers that cause the fit to be close to the 2 W/m2/K, but even by visual inspection the fit appears to be grossly incorrect. Disregarding the two outliers yields – by eye – a fit much closer to – or even larger than – 3.6/W/m2/K, so around the no-feedback value.
    Another thing is that models appear to be much more stable than observations, which could be either due to noise in the observations or model errors/inaccuracies.
    Any thoughts?
    Science of Doom has a post on it.
    http://scienceofdoom.com/2015/04/30/clouds-water-vapor-part-eight-clear-sky-comparison-of-models-with-erbe-and-ceres/
    The paper is here (I think it is open, but otherwise you can find copies elsewhere):
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2009GL041889/pdf

    • Jos,

      Another thing is that models appear to be much more stable than observations, which could be either due to noise in the observations or model errors/inaccuracies.

      Individual AOGCM runs show a comparable amount of noise to observations. Since that noise on annual/decadal time scales is largely due to internal variability — the timing of which is an emergent behaviour of the models and is different from run to run even for the same model — ensemble means tend to smooth it out. What’s left over are the long term trends due to external forcings and feedbacks as well as short term things like volcanic events.

      • Since that noise on annual/decadal time scales is largely due to internal variability
        =============
        more likely the result of randomizers in the code. they change the seeds from run to run.

      • the problem is that the model builders assume that variability is due to random noise. that without a change in forcings, average climate will not change. They fail to consider that time itself is a forcing and it is always changing. even if all forcings remain identical, in 10 years you will not be identical to what you are today.

      • Alex,

        Are you speaking english or gibberish?

        English apparently — ferdberple was able to respond substantively.

        What the hell did you just say?

        That model ensembles are not to be taken as representations of annual weather behaviour.

      • ferdberple,

        more likely the result of randomizers in the code. they change the seeds from run to run.

        I don’t know how it’s done. It’s been on my list of questions for a while, just not highly prioritized. What I have read suggests that they’re not typically randomizing each time step as that would sort of defeat the purpose. I have no specific reference for that, it’s an impression from having read a bunch of different things.

        the problem is that the model builders assume that variability is due to random noise.

        I sometimes see such language in literature and it makes me gnash my teeth. The way I best understand it is that internal variability looks like noise with auto-correlation.

        that without a change in forcings, average climate will not change.

        I really do not understand why you would think any different.

        They fail to consider that time itself is a forcing and it is always changing.

        Scratch my last comment.

        even if all forcings remain identical, in 10 years you will not be identical to what you are today.

        Climate is generally defined by 30 years of statistics. You’re talking about weather 0.01-sigma variability.

      • Brandon
        You misunderstand me. I have not the slightest interest in whether the temperature is going up or down , on this planet. No interest in the ‘climate change’ meme. I think it is all complete rubbish. Some people seem to be ‘into’ statistics and climate models. My interest is in instrumentation and the scientific method. I actually look into how instruments measure things. I want to know what they read and what they don’t read. I want to know the conclusions drawn by instrument readers.
        ferburple sounds like a nice guy, but he is trying to convince you. He has more patience than I do and probably thinks he can get you to ‘change your ways’. That is probably why he tries so hard to understand you.
        I, on the other hand, have no interest in convincing you. For some reason, you annoy me. Maybe it’s your attitude. I hope I am slightly annoying to you.

      • Brandon Gates
        It seems you have still not learned that repetition of a falsehood does not convert the falsehood into truth.
        I am annoyed that you again post this falsehood that I have corrected in the past

        Climate is generally defined by 30 years of statistics.

        NO! It is not!
        Climate can be stated for any period provided that the length of the period is stated.

        The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides this definition of climate in its Glossary.

        Climate
        Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. The classical period for averaging these variables is 30 years, as defined by the World
        Meteorological Organization. The relevant quantities are most often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation, and wind. Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical description, of the climate system.

        Clearly, climate can be stated for any ” period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years”.
        You are confusing a statement of “climate” with the “classical period for averaging” which is 30 years.
        As I have also explained to you before, the “classical period for averaging” is used as a basis for comparisons so, for example, each team that provides Global Average Surface Temperature Anomaly (GASTA) data provides each datum as being a difference from the average GASTA value computed for a 30-year period (and each team uses a different 3-year period from that used by others).
        The “classical period for averaging” was established as being 30-years in 1958 during the International Geophysical Year (IGY). A length of 30-years was chosen because it was then thought there was not climate data for longer than the previous 30 years. The arbitrary length of 30-years is unfortunate because it is not a multiple of the 11-year solar cycle, or the 22-year Hale cycle, or etc..
        Richard

      • Ooops!
        Obviously, I intended to write ” a different 30-year period from that used by others)”.
        Sorry.
        Richard

      • Alex,

        You misunderstand me.

        Perhaps.

        I have not the slightest interest in whether the temperature is going up or down , on this planet … I want to know the conclusions drawn by instrument readers.

        Hmmm …

        ferburple sounds like a nice guy, but he is trying to convince you. He has more patience than I do and probably thinks he can get you to ‘change your ways’.

        To be compelling, he’d need to knock it off with howlers such as: They fail to consider that time itself is a forcing and it is always changing.

        For some reason, you annoy me. Maybe it’s your attitude.

        Maybe. Maybe not.

        I hope I am slightly annoying to you.

        Not so much as the sum total of wilful ignorance I perceive in this forum day after week after month after year. R. S. Courtney’s post immediately following yours exemplifies the kind of rhetoric which stokes far more than mere annoyance, and for me, breeds utter contempt and loathing. My “attitude” reflects my fury, something I believe you surely understand. This … debate … is not just about science, politics and policy, it’s also — if not mostly — about a struggle for cultural supremacy.
        Reading your rhetorical question literally was my tit-for-tat trading of petty annoyances as going deeper just didn’t seem worth the trouble. I’m guessing you perfectly understand that notion as well.

      • Brandon Gates
        I provided evidence that you are wrong. That is NOT “rhetoric”: it is reality.
        I quoted, cited and linked the IPCC definition of climate and added some historical perspective.
        The IPCC definition specifically refutes your assertions that

        Climate is generally defined by 30 years of statistics.


        I had explained this to you previously but – as usual – you had refused to learn and again spouted a falsehood.
        I shall congratulate you in the unlikely event that you one day manage to make a post which is correct and that you understand. This is a promise I make which is also not “rhetoric”.
        Richard

    • Jos,
      If you take the change in radiation from 14˚C to 15˚C it is 5.4 W/m^2 not 3.6.
      If you take the actual surface temperature of the ocean of 21˚C and increase the water temperature to 22˚ net radiation does not increase, while the evaporation rate does.

      • Temperature change increases radiation. Argue with Planck and the others about that.

      • Alex, “Temperature change increases radiation. Argue with Planck and the others about that.”
        Maybe you should try to improve your reading comprehension. The first part of my post gave the correct planck calculation for increased radiation.
        The second part of my post made the comment that for the surface of the ocean the NET radiation doesn’t change because evaporation is the primary way the ocean loses heat, not radiation. Of course that isn’t strictly true for all conditions, but it is generally true.

        • jinghis

          The second part of my post made the comment that for the surface of the ocean the NET radiation doesn’t change because evaporation is the primary way the ocean loses heat, not radiation. Of course that isn’t strictly true for all conditions, but it is generally true.

          OK. So, let us prove, or disprove that statement for three specific conditions.
          For a square ocean surface with 1 m/sec winds under the following conditions, what is the
          A. Evaporative heat loss?
          B. Net Radiative LW heat loss?
          C. Convective heat loss?
          1. T_Air = 30 deg C, relative humidity = 80% , cloudy skies, T_Water = 20 deg C, pressure = 1010
          2. T_Air = 30 deg C, relative humidity = 50% , clear skies, T_Water = 10 deg C, pressure = 980
          3. T_Air = -25 deg C, relative humidity = 15% , clear skies, T_Water = 2 deg C, pressure = 1050

      • RACook,
        Good questions, but you left out a couple of the most important variables, the wind and the temperature below the surface. So here goes : )
        For overcast conditions the radiation from the clouds is always just a few watts less than the radiation from the ocean so no significant net radiation loss. 21˚C (424.5 watts) minus 20˚C (419 watts) for a net of 5.5 watts.
        For clear skies the clear sky downwelling radiation is generally 2 to 4˚C (334 watts or so). The radiation loss is simply the net between the two, around 90 watts.
        This is all in the context of the ocean absorbing 35 to 40 megajoules per day, 405 watts averaged over 24 hours.
        The net radiation loss from the ocean surface ranges from 1% to 22%, entirely dependent on cloud coverage (or lack of) not the surface temperature of the ocean.
        Making the surface temperature warmer or colder, doesn’t change the net radiation.

      • 5.4 is at the surface. 3.6 refers to leaving the top of the atmosphere where the average tempreature of all sources is much lower. At 235 W/m-2 average leaving, I get an equivalent temp of -19C and a change of 3.74 Wm-2/C.

      • My reading comprehension is adequate. Basic physics- higher temperature= higher radiation. That was my point. I was not arguing other things like evaporation and convection.

      • Jinghis,
        “For clear skies the clear sky downwelling radiation is generally 2 to 4˚C (334 watts or so). The radiation loss is simply the net between the two, around 90 watts.”
        Clear skies temps are are quite cold, 70 – 100F colder than concrete sidewalk. That 334 w number has to be the mostly cloudy sky average, unless it taken in tropical humidity.
        Get an IR thermometer, measure it yourself.

    • Much of the evaporation takes place under clear-sky and the vapor forms cloudy sky somewhere else, so how can they use only clear-sky? Doing it the right way, like Willis has done, the result is much closer to 3.6/W/m2/K (in the window of interest).

  9. ”at the top end the land temperature is pretty much decoupled from the radiation imbalance “
    This is due very largely due to the Sahara (and other deserts at the same latitudes). These areas have energy deficits since the very dry air means that radiation losses are huge, especially during the nights. Heat is continually being added by air coming from the ITCZ. This rises, loses most of its humidity through condensation, then moves north (or south) and descends in the high-pressure belts of the “desert latitudes”. Without this Sahara would be a tundra!
    The nightly cooling can be quite dramatic in deserts. I have personally scraped ice off windshields in the mornings in the Australian outback where afternoon temperatures were well into the nineties.
    The rather sharp “roof” to land temperatures is interesting though. In contrast to temperatures at sea there does not seem to be any obvious physical explanation.

    • In a round-about way tty, you’re putting into words the conclusion I have come to, namely.- that it is plants (vegetation, trees, grass, jungles, switchgrass, daisies, buttercups et al) that control the weather and hence climate. Think about the question of where did all that sand come from in The Sahara.
      Farmers are presently controlling the plants. They do this by growing annuals instead of perennials, by leaving large amounts of dead plant stuff lying around and by effectively burning the rest – hence the rise in atmospheric CO2. As soon as a plant dies, the whole process of photosynthesis crashes right into reverse. Dead plant material exposed to sunlight effectively burns.
      They’re doing it on 10% of the planet’s surface in places where, by definition, people live, put and read thermometers – its no surprise the readings on them have changed. And then not including all that low albedo (plowed & cultivated dirt) farmers feel they must, indeed have to, indulge in.
      Then a group of extremely well meaning folks, who have been told how bright/clever and intelligent they are, right from childhood come along imagining they know all about thermodynamics and radiation and jump to the completely wrong conclusion.
      Just as they do with ocean acid and did previously with ozone.
      🙁

      • ” As soon as a plant dies, the whole process of photosynthesis crashes right into reverse”
        I think you’ll find that photosynthesis “crashes right into reverse” every evening.
        In fact, looking back on the lifetime of any individual plant, we’ll see that the carbon of its structure is but a small fraction of the carbon that cycled through it in order to create that structure.

      • Peta, before the advent of Karbon Lysenkoism’s politically driven capture of climate science 30 years ago, climate was classified by botanical biomes derived from precipitation, temperature and evapotranspiration indexes.
        See Köppen Climate Classification System:
        http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/162263/
        and Thornthwaite climate classification:
        http://oxfordindex.oup.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803104427715
        By the way, in North America, forest land has increased over the last century as marginal farmland is reclaimed by trees.

  10. There is a rather interesting “blob” of land gridcells with a slight energy surplus but temperatures around zero centigrade. This disappears in the “corrected-to-sealevel” chart. Instead a blob with similar surplus appears at about 50 degrees centigrade.
    I presume that these “blobs” are from the Tibetan high plateau?

  11. “The annual swings in the net TOA radiation are the result of the earth moving nearer to and further from the sun”. My understanding is that the earth at this point in time is closer to the sun in January. Yet the average temperature of the earth in January is around 12.0 deg C but rises to around 15.8 deg C in July. This is due to the different geography between the northern and southern hemispheres. The northern hemisphere gets both hotter and colder than the southern hemisphere.

  12. Excellent stuff. ‘forcing’ was a gift to GCM programmers who could include anything they wished in their models merely by devising/guessing/asserting a forcing effect for it. Talk about inserting conclusions as a stepping-stone for generating headlines and more funding! So, good to see someone not floating on the tsunami of billions of dollars that ensued, daring to sit and think and take a look at what he can see in the actual observations.

  13. Thanks Willis.
    I want to apologise for a comment I made on your post about radiation and half lives etc. You were correct and I was wrong. Sorry for my outburst.

  14. Eyeballing Fig 5, shouldn’t there be as many (weighted) points to the right of zero as to the left? The left looks heavy … more points and greater value.

  15. Willis, what would happen if you weighted the results by area and percentage of radiation absorbed?
    The tropics and up to 60˚ latitude in the summer, absorb over 80% of the total solar radiation while the poles don’t absorb any radiation in the winter and almost none in the summer because of the angle of the sun. That is why they install solar panels upside down there.
    Other than that, I think your charts nicely show the ocean evaporation rates. Which is the primary way the oceans and lower atmosphere cools.

    • That is why they install solar panels upside down there.
      A great joke. Solar panels upside down over an igloo. A wonderful mental image.
      A joke with a lot of truth behind it. In the dark, the panel gets more energy from the igloo than the sky. And in the daylight, fixed horizontal downward facing panels would appreciably capture the sunlight scattered off the snow without all that mucking about trying to pivot the panels more than 270 degrees and withstand frequent arctic gales.

  16. Re-graph Figure 3, temperature horizontal and TOA vertical. Makes it easier to visualize that 30°C line is practically an asymptote. Along with the curvature of the blue line would indicate to me very strong negative feedback.

    • It’s actually a limit of absorption. Absorption is a temperature limited thing, much like emission, not much different to a blackbody curve. It’s really tricky in the visible spectrum but quite straight forward in IR. Don’t be fooled by the commonly accepted statement that all SW is absorbed. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  17. Why is Willis the only one producing this very important information from a very important and very expensive satellite.
    Because it is does not fit the narrative of global warming and the satellite operators/scientists do not want to provide any evidence that does not fit the narrative. And then, Willis is the only skeptic who has the skill-set to put it together.
    Critical information about how the real Earth tm operates and the only place you can find it, is in Willis’ posts here. Yet, making this point also makes me a conspiracy believer. But then, that it what it is.

  18. At 25 -30 Deg C the convection cycle is most active. It appears that you have shown where the real regulation of the planets heat is, water vapor. Only in areas above land do we get the occasional increase above the 30 deg C range.
    Interesting point of view Willis, but I would caution that there appears to be a relationship to the convection cycle present which is also influenced by the heat of the surface areas. Considering the earth is roughly 72% covered with water it would make sense, to me any way. It would also explain why the oceans do not warm substantially.
    A slight warming of the polar regions would release great amounts of heat from the earth. Willis, Have you mapped out the differential of the polar regions? It would be interesting to see just how our current situation is affecting out put (Antarctic ice locked and Arctic somewhat clear of ice). Looking at the arctic polar region during this last winter would tell the tale. I would assume that once the Northern Hemisphere cooling gets nearer equilibrium that cooling at the pole will happen very quickly.

    • At 30 Deg C dew point, the vapor pressure for water is a bit over 4% of atmospheric pressure at sea level. Considering that the molecular weight of water is 18 versus about 28.8 for air, there will be a fair amount of convection driven just by the high dew point. In addition, the vapor pressure will be double this when the dew point reaches 41 Deg C, with corresponding increases convective pressure and double the latent heat in water vapor.
      My guess is that this what limits sea surface temperature to about 30 Deg C as the cooling power of evaporation, convection and thunderstorms rises rapidly with temperature.

  19. Willis,
    I thought there were calibration problems with the CERES instrument as is noted in the following paper by James Hansen:
    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110415_EnergyImbalancePaper.pdf
    From the paper:
    “The precision achieved by the most advanced generation of radiation budget satellites is indicated by the planetary energy imbalance measured by the ongoing CERES (Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System) instrument (Loeb et al., 2009), which finds a measured 5-year mean imbalance of 6.5 W/m2 (Loeb et al., 2009). Because this result is implausible, instrumentation calibration factors were introduced to reduce the imbalance to the imbalance suggested by climate models, 0.85 W/m 2 (Loeb et al., 2009).”
    If this is still the case, then CERES TOA measurements are worthless.
    The following quote from the paper is quite stunning:
    “The notion that a single satellite at this point could measure Earth’s energy imbalance to 0.1 W/m2 is prima facie preposterous. Earth emits and scatters radiation in all directions, i.e., into 4π steradians. How can measurement of radiation in a single direction provide a proxy for radiation in all directions? Climate change alters the angular distribution of scattered and emitted radiation. It is implausible that changes in the angular distribution of radiation could be modeled to the needed accuracy, and the objective is to measure the imbalance, not guess at it. There is also the difficulty of maintaining sensor calibrations to accuracy 0.1 W/m2, i.e., 0.04 percent. That accuracy is beyond the state-of-the art, even for short periods, and that accuracy would need to be maintained for decades”
    Read all of Section 13.6.1. It’s an eye opener.

    • Sigh.
      Somebody actually gets it. It’s a soup of EM out there and very little is aimed at the sensors. Yet there are people who want to discuss 2W/M^2 imbalance. I can barely sit on my chair and not fall down from laughter when this is discussed.

    • Norman Loeb, principal investigator for CERES, just states that the imbalance is 0.6 W/m2 which is what the Argo floats are measuring as the ocean heat accumulation. So, they are not even using CERES estimates in the imbalance numbers, it is strictly the Argo ocean heat accumulation (which is just a tiny amount at 0.6 W/m2/year or 0.002C/year in the 0-2000 metre ocean – these are NOT global warming catastrophe numbers – they are minimal long-term warming trend-type numbers).
      Alex:
      “It’s a soup of EM”.
      That is so true. EM is flying in every possible direction at photon/second and W/m2 numbers that make the +3.7 W/m2 from doubled CO2 seem silly to even talk about. The desk your computer is sitting on is putting out 425 W/m2 right now.

      • it is strictly the Argo ocean heat accumulation (which is just a tiny amount at 0.6 W/m2/year or 0.002C/year in the 0-2000 metre ocean –
        That’s assuming that the Argo’s are measured and processed correctly. Over the past couple of years the Argo numbers have been bent upward to match the 0.02 dec/decade from the pre-Argo trend. I smell a rat.
        Please forgive me if I believe there is a good deal of “plotting your line, then plot you data to support it”.
        “The Layers of meaning in Levitus.” May 10, 2013
        “Ocean Heat Content – 0 to 2000 meters. Why aren’t Northern Hemisphere Oceans warming during the Argo era?

      • According to Josh Willis who manages the ARGO data. The raw data was showing the oceans to be cooling, he wrote several papers on it. Then he decided that the temperature sensors on the buoys had to be wrong because TOA data showed an energy imbalance so the extra heat must be going into the ocean. He also looked at the increase in sea level,(satellite altimetry) deducted the extra water from melting ice, added in a GIA factor and concluded that the extra ocean volume was caused by thermal expansion. Therefore the oceans had to be warning, therefore there was an error in the ARGO data and as a result the argo buoy data is now adjusted to match the heat ocean heat content calculations. That is why argo data now shows warming whereas a few years back it showed strong cooling. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/OceanCooling/page1.php
        In short pristine data from very accurate temperature sensors is adjusted on the basis of very poor data that is itself adjusted on models on GIA, heat content etc.
        The final statement in the web page above says;
        “Models are not perfect,” says Syd Levitus. “Data are not perfect. Theory isn’t perfect. We shouldn’t expect them to be. It’s the combination of models, data, and theory that lead to improvements in our science, in our understanding of phenomena.”
        In other words it is OK to adjust raw data to fit the models.

      • @Peter Foster
        In other words it is OK to adjust raw data to fit the models.
        Well if there aren’t going to believe the results from their expensive impressively precise instruments, is it OK to ask them to give back the research money?
        There are lots cheaper ways to make up numbers.

    • I’m curious how they measure downwelling longwave radiation — or is it a calculated value?
      I suppose you only need a single point measurement for incoming solar radiation and can then calculate TOA “downwelling” for each grid cell based on a spherical planet and the relative angles of incidence. But that would seem to produce a gross estimate, not a precise measurement, for how much downwelling arrives at a given point on the surface. In other words, the EM scatter you are discussing comes into play in significant fashion.

      • Rare direct measurements. Mostly it ‘s calculated. I’m in the process of designing a ‘point and shoot’ device, just for fun. It’s not that easy, with IR being everywhere it’s like taking a photo with a light globe inside it.

  20. Given that albedo changes happen in northern latitudes where there is a significant change in snow cover, I wonder what the values would be for just winter or summer. Tropics should remain constant but the snow cover should show an effect though the downdwelling radiation changes too.

  21. “at the top end the land temperature is pretty much decoupled from the radiation imbalance.”
    Interesting that it seems less decoupled after the altitude correction.

    • Figure 4 shows the measurements. Figure 5 is an attempt to explain some of the nonlinearity. The temperatures in figure 5 are not ‘real’ and the points above the limit are purely due to the adjustment. While the altitude adjustment somewhat corrected the reversal of trend due to Antarctica it created artifacts in the upper temperature range.

  22. Willis ==> Try using some graphing tricks to make the image more 3D — I suspect that the data form what is called in Chaos Theory a “strange attractor”. Compare Figs 4 and 5 — 5 seems to be a different view of the same 3D object tilted backwards at the top. Very interesting.

  23. Nick at 12:49
    Exactly, Nick. But those graphs are hardly shotgun blasts. The Willis magic may be operational here, but there appears to be a distinct trend. Are local weather phenomena sufficiently strong to couple TOA to the surface when averaged over the decade long time scale?
    tty at 1:14
    The 30C “roof” in Fig. 4 bothers me too. Potential instrument malfunction and recalibration funkiness (skepticgonewild at 7:45) aside, is this just an artifact of surface temperature limiting over significant portions of the globe due to wind driven cooling, so that the non coupling that Nick notes is being played out?
    Thus, Alex at 6:41
    Could you elaborate on your absorbtion limit comment? It’s not self-evident to me.

    • I’m trying to put a post together for WUWT (busy right now with moving from China to Australia).
      I have spent 100s of manhours perusing information. My conclusion is that the planck curve is not just the energy emitted but also the energy absorbed. Maximum/minimum, it is not possible for a grey or non grey body to absorb more energy than the curve. Everything else is rejected. Look at Kirchoff’s law, it is a fundamental for NASA (and other’s) calculations. Even Planck derived his formula from him.

      • Real life examples of temperature connected absorption/emission. Mercury and the Moon and also Halley’s comet. They reach a maximum temperature and then they can’t absorb anymore energy.
        I’m trying to encapsulate a lot of research in a few words, so be forgiving.

      • Alex,
        I look forward to your post. This site is a great place to test the metal! Good luck with your move.

  24. the land response in figure 4 follows the ocean response in Fig 3, until Fig 4 gets outside the ocean range (-20 to 30).. Then it shows quite a different trend.
    I can’t see the reason to “correct” for altitude, except to try and explain away the different response curves at the limits. More than anything this may simply serve to hide the difference between land and ocean response.

  25. Willis,
    “TOA forcing is the imbalance between the TOA upwelling and downwelling radiation.”
    Actually, that is incorrect. Forcing is the imbalance that would occur in the absence of any response from the climate system. One way of estimating forcing in climate models is to make an instantaneous change in some property, such as CO2 concentration, then examine the modeled TOA flux imbalance as a function of time. That latter quantity changes as the model comes to a new steady state. The forcing is obtained by extrapolating the TOA flux imbalance back to the time of the change.
    The present best estimates for anthropogenic forcing and TOA flux imbalance are, respectively, 2.3 and 0.5 W/m^2. Different quantities.
    Using scientific terminology consistently minimizes confusion, even if the terms are bad ones.

  26. Note also that over the fourteen-year period there is no trend in the net TOA radiation.
    What another data set with no trend? Perhaps this should be added to the regular updates of temperature records with no trends for given periods of time? Why restrict the list to just temperature? It isn’t even temperature we should be trying to measure as it doesn’t vary linearly with energy flux anyway. It is energy balance that we ought to be focusing on in the first place.
    But I note SkepticGoneWild’s comments above. There are very large fudge factors in the CERES data. But hey, if they say there’s no trend for the last 14 years, and that agrees with RSS and UAH, who am I to disagree? Let the alarmists explain it.

  27. The problem with looking at yearly top of the atmosphere data is one can get lost in the weeds.
    A different approach to crack the puzzle what causes cyclic warming and cooling and abrupt cyclic cooling and warming (glacial/interglacial cycle, the start and end of the interglacial periods, Younger Dryas like abrupt climate change which are called Heinrich events, and the more gradually warming and cooling cycles that are called Dansgaard-Oescgher cycles) is to look at what has happened in the past (recent, last 14,000 years, and last 420,000 years), then look at what is happening and did happen in the recent record. This is holistic analysis as opposed to fractional analysis.
    Ask yourself why is there no holistic climate analysis? What is stopping holistic analysis of this problem? The last person to do holistic analysis has Michael Faraday (See diary, 1868) or perhaps Wagner which lead to the tectonic plate breakthrough in geophysics.
    I am serious. I am working on book. Could someone help me out, why is holistic analysis not done? What is the dang barrier to holistic analysis? Why do people not summarize the data at a high level? Why are paradoxes and anomalies ignored? Why do people develop theories/mechanisms that are not supported by the paleo data? Such as CAWG?
    Holistic means one looks at all of the data at the same time. What is the data telling us? Summarize in words what the data is telling us at a high level.
    What is likely, possible to happen next based on what happened in the past? What are the current trends? I am again asking a serious rather than a rhetorical question. I am working on a book, about these subjects, barriers to breakthroughs, holistic analysis, what causes the glacial/interglacial cycle, and how the sun is different that the standard model.
    Last 420,000 years
    Look at the below graph. Smooth gradual changes or sharp changes? The data indicates Interglacial periods start and end abruptly. The data supports the assertion that there is a massive forcing function that causes the planet to abruptly warm for a short period of time (less than 12,000 years) and then abruptly cool for 100,000 years (massive ice sheets cover Canada, Northern US States, the UK and Northern Europe).
    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/temp/vostok/graphics/tempplot5.gif
    The alternative to the massive forcing function (Hint: The massive forcing function is the sun) is the tipping point hypothesis. The tipping point hypothesis, is an urban legend that the earth’s climate can jump from one state to another moved by a tiny forcing function. There is no analytical data to support the tipping point hypothesis. The earth’s climate does not ring, wildly oscillate when there is a massive temporary step change caused by a super volcano eruption. The tipping point hypothesis is one of the many urban legends that have filled the theoretical void.
    A theoretical void is when the cause of something is not known. Urban legends are theories that are sciency sounding and are repeated over and over again, with a side comment that they are ‘part’ of the solution. In reality urban legends block the solution of the puzzle as they avoid clearly labeling the paradox and noting there is no solution, as of yet.
    Temperature Last 11,000 Years
    Greenland ice temperature, last 11,000 years determined from ice core analysis, Richard Alley’s paper. William: The Greenland Ice data shows that have been 9 warming and cooling periods in the last 11,000 years. There was abrupt cooling 11,900 years ago (Younger Dryas abrupt cooling period when the planet went from interglacial warm to glacial cold with 75% of the cooling occurring in less than a decade and there was abrupt cooling 8200 years ago during the 8200 BP climate ‘event’).
    http://www.climate4you.com/images/GISP2%20TemperatureSince10700%20BP%20with%20CO2%20from%20EPICA%20DomeC.gif
    There is cyclic warming and cooling in the current interglacial period the Holocene. There is also one Heinrich event in the Holocene. That Heinrich event is called the Younger Dryas.
    There are peer multiple peer reviewed papers that discuss abrupt cyclic climate change. The fact that it is cyclic supports the assertion that the sun is the forcing function. Earth systems are chaotic and are not regular. The cycle is caused by the large planets which move the sun about is center. When they are aligned to cause a rapid change in motion of the sun oscillation are caused which disturb the solar tachocline region which in turn causes an abrupt change to the sun.
    There are peer review papers that discuss the correlation of cyclic solar events with it movement changes by the large planets. There are peer reviewed papers that predicted the current abrupt change to the solar cycle.
    http://sheridan.geog.kent.edu/geog41066/7-Overpeck.pdf

    ABRUPT CHANGE IN EARTH’S CLIMATE SYSTEM
    Jonathan T. Overpeck and Julia E. Cole
    ….Abrupt shifts between warm and cold states punctuate the interval between 20 to 75 ka) in the Greenland isotope record, with shifts of 5–15C occurring in decades or less (Figure 1). These alternations were identified in some of the earliest ice core isotopic studies [e.g., (22)] and were replicated and more precisely dated by subsequent work (23). Further analysis of diverse records has distinguished two types of millennial events (13). Dansgaard/Oeschger (D/O) events are alternations between warm (interstadial) and cold (stadial) states that recur approximately every 1500 years, although this rhythm is variable. Heinrich events are intervals of extreme cold contemporaneous with intervals of ice-rafted detritus in the northern North Atlantic (24–26); these recur irregularly on the order of ca. 10,000 years apart and are typically followed by the warmest D/O interstadials.

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2003/2003GL017115.shtml

    Timing of abrupt climate change: A precise clock by Stefan Rahmstorf
    Many paleoclimatic data reveal a approx. 1,500 year cyclicity of unknown origin. A crucial question is how stable and regular this cycle is. An analysis of the GISP2 ice core record from Greenland reveals that abrupt climate events appear to be paced by a 1,470-year cycle with a period that is probably stable to within a few percent; with 95% confidence the period is maintained to better than 12% over at least 23 cycles. This highly precise clock points to an origin outside the Earth system; oscillatory modes within the Earth system can be expected to be far more irregular in period.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/09/05/is-the-current-global-warming-a-natural-cycle/

    “Does the current global warming signal reflect a natural cycle”
    …We found 342 natural warming events (NWEs) corresponding to this definition, distributed over the past 250,000 years …. …. The 342 NWEs contained in the Vostok ice core record are divided into low-rate warming events (LRWEs; < 0.74oC/century) and high rate warming events (HRWEs; ≥ 0.74oC /century) (Figure). … ….The current global warming signal is therefore the slowest and among the smallest in comparison with all HRWEs in the Vostok record, although the current warming signal could in the coming decades yet reach the level of past HRWEs for some parameters. The figure shows the most recent 16 HRWEs in the Vostok ice core data during the Holocene, interspersed with a number of LRWEs. …. ….We were delighted to see the paper published in Nature magazine online (August 22, 2012 issue) reporting past climate warming events in the Antarctic similar in amplitude and warming rate to the present global warming signal. The paper, entitled "Recent Antarctic Peninsula warming relative to Holocene climate and ice – shelf history" and authored by Robert Mulvaney and colleagues of the British Antarctic Survey ( Nature, 2012,doi:10.1038/nature11391), reports two recent natural warming cycles, one around 1500 AD and another around 400 AD, measured from isotope (deuterium) concentrations in ice cores bored adjacent to recent breaks in the ice shelf in northeast Antarctica. ….

      • William M. Gray
        Professor Emeritus
        Colorado State University
        The model simulations have followed the unrealistic physical ideas emanating from the National Academy of Science (NAS), 1979 (or Charney Report). This report speculated that as the troposphere warms from CO2 increases that this warming would be accompanied (follow the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship between temperature and moisture) by a moisture increase such that the relative humidity (RH) of the air would remain near constant as the temperature increased. Implicit in this NAS assumption of CO2 induced warming was the necessity that this increase of moisture would add additional blockage of infrared (IR) radiation to space beyond what the CO2 gas did by itself. The net IR blockage to space from increasing CO2 was thus assumed to occur not only from the CO2 gas itself but also from the extra water-vapor gain needed to keep the RH near constant as the temperature rose. This additional water-vapor gain was shown by the models to have about twice as large an influence on reducing IR blockage to space as the CO2 increase by itself. Thus, any CO2 increase of one unit of IR blockage to space would simultaneously bring along with it an additional two units of water-vapor blockage of IR loss to space. This additional moisture related blockage of IR loss to space (associated with CO2 induced warming) has been designated as ‘positive water-vapor feedback’. All the CO2 climate models have strong amounts of positive water-favor feedback.
        It is this large and direct tie of water-vapor increase with CO2 induced temperature rise which is the primary physical flaw in all of the GCM CO2 doubling model simulations. This is the reason why all the GCMs have so strongly over-predicted the amount of global warming which will occur with a doubling of atmospheric CO2.
        Observations show that the warming or cooling of the upper troposphere does not occur with RH remaining close to constant. Temperature and RH tend to change oppositely from each other and not in unison as the models assume. My project’s study of cumulus convection and tropical cyclone formation over many decades has taught me that the NAS 1979 (Charney) Report assessment that rising CO2 amounts will occur with water-vapor increase is not a realistic assessment of how these parameters change in the upper troposphere.
        The GCM CO2 simulations are also constructed so as to have their moisture simulations arranged such that water-vapor changes occur uniformly at both upper and lower tropospheric levels. By contrast, the observations of moisture change at upper and lower tropospheric levels show them to be little related to each other (Figure 3).
        https://stevengoddard.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/screenhunter_9116-may-09-19-04.gif?w=640
        https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/dr-bill-gray-explains-why-climate-models-dont-work/

      • Our project’s many years of analysis of the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) observations of IR loss to space in association with enhanced Cb convection and rainfall do not show a decreased IR blockage to space (as the models have indicated will occur) but rather an enhancement of IR loss to space. Our data analysis is, by contrast with the models, representation of a negative water-vapor feedback – the larger the rainfall rate, the lower the upper tropospheric water-vapor content and the greater the IR loss to space (Figure 6).
        https://stevengoddard.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/screenhunter_9119-may-09-19-04.gif?w=640
        Figure 6. Changes in 300 mb temperature, specific humidity (q – gm/kg), and relative humidity (RH) by area between two reanalysis rainfall difference data sets for the tropics. Rain differences average 3.9 percent for the 10 highest minus 10 lowest monthly differences and 1.9 percent for the (95-04)-(84-94) data set differences. Negative values are in red. All 300 mb moisture parameters showed water-vapor and RH decreases with enhanced rainfall.

      • “This graph shows in green Hadcrut4 estimates of global surface temperature, including ocean SST, and near surface air temperatures over land. The blue line from RSS tracks lower tropospheric air temperatures measured by satellites, not near the surface but many meters higher. Finally, the red line is again Hadsst3 global SST All lines use 30-month averages to reduce annual noise and display longer term patterns.
        Strikingly, SST and GMST are almost synonymous from the beginning until about 1980. Then GMST diverges with more warming than global SST.”
        http://woodfortrees.org/graph/hadsst3gl/from:1850/to:2014/mean:30/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1850/to:2014/mean:30/plot/rss/every/mean:30
        https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2015/05/10/empirical-evidence-oceans-make-climate/

    • William Astley May 9, 2015 at 9:47 am Edit

      The problem with looking at yearly top of the atmosphere data is one can get lost in the weeds.
      A different approach to crack the puzzle what causes cyclic warming and cooling and abrupt cyclic cooling and warming (glacial/interglacial cycle, the start and end of the interglacial periods, Younger Dryas like abrupt climate change which are called Heinrich events, and the more gradually warming and cooling cycles that are called Dansgaard-Oescgher cycles) is to look at what has happened in the past (recent, last 14,000 years, and last 420,000 years), then look at what is happening and did happen in the recent record. This is holistic analysis as opposed to fractional analysis.

      Sorry, William, but I’m not buying the idea that the way to understand the climate is to look at what our scarce, inaccurate proxies say happened nearly half a million years ago.
      For me the key to understanding the climate is to look at what happens on a daily basis. I prefer observations and measurements of recent events rather than proxies for ancient events as a basis for my science, but hey, that’s just me. So I’ll leave you to your speculations. Not saying your way is wrong, just saying it’s not for me.
      w.

      • Willis,
        I am curious why you believe studying the past is not a guide to what will happen in the future. What has changed to in the earth system that would make it respond differently?
        The climate in the past changed cyclically. Why? Do you understand what cyclically means? Something that happens again and again and again. There must be a physical reason for the periodicity and for the climate change.
        There are a dozen different logical arguments connected to peer reviewed observations that the sun is the cause of the massive forcing change and that the large planets movement of the sun is the reason for the periodicity of the solar changes which in turn is the reason for the periodicity of the earth climate changes.
        The sun changes in a manner that we do not believe is possible to cause the very, very large forcing changes. I will move to the solar thread to explain the new research on neutrinos. The solar neutrino problem has not gone away.
        The climate changed cyclically in response to a forcing change and sometimes to a massive forcing change in the past. That is what the data says. The massive forcing function has not gone away.
        How the climate changed recently (warming, high latitude warming both hemisphere with slight cooling of the Antarctic ice sheet) matches the cyclic pattern of warming in the past. The sun was in its highest activity state in 8000 years in the last 50 years.
        There has been an abrupt change to the solar cycle. Correct?
        The high latitude cooling that we have recently observed is a reversal of the warming. Why? What has changed to cause the cooling? The sun.
        There are half dozen solar and earth observations that support the assertion that we going to experience a Heinrich event. Something that is capable of terminating an interglacial period.
        What we are observing is a sudden increase in sea and the start of cooling in the Southern Hemisphere.
        http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/iphone/images/iphone.anomaly.global.png
        In 2012 there was the start of a significant increase in sea in the Antarctic for all months of the year. Gradually that was followed by general cooling of the Southern hemisphere oceans.
        http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.anomaly.antarctic.png
        https://stevengoddard.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/screenhunter_9098-may-09-08-30.gif
        http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2015/anomnight.5.7.2015.gif

      • William Astley May 9, 2015 at 1:12 pm says:

        Willis,
        I am curious why you believe studying the past is not a guide to what will happen in the future.

        Thanks, William. For me, the biggest problem with the idea of studying the past climate as a guide to the future climate is that we don’t understand the present climate …
        In addition, while our contemporary observational datasets are spotty and incomplete in time and space … they are orders of magnitude better than using proxies to guess at what happened half a million years ago.
        Does that mean “don’t study the past”? By no means. I’m just saying that until we understand the present, all conclusions about the past are provisional.
        You also say:

        What has changed to in the earth system that would make it respond differently?

        My brother used to say “It’s easy to predict the future … as long as it’s just like the past”. The problem with the climate is rarely just like the past. See the ups and downs and level periods in the recent temperature record.
        As to “what has changed”, you’ve put your finger on the underlying problem. For example, the earth generally cooled from the 1400s to the “Little Ice Age” … what changed to make it start cooling? We don’t know. Then something changed, and we came out of the Little Ice Age. What changed to make the globe start warming? We don’t know.
        As a result, no, we can’t simply assume that the future climate will be just like the past climate.
        Best to you,
        w.

    • “Younger Dryas like abrupt climate change which are called Heinrich events, and the more gradually warming and cooling cycles that are called Dansgaard-Oescgher cycles)”
      Dansgaard-Oeschger events (not cycles) are abrupt climate changes (=abrupt warming, slower cooling). The end of the Younger Dryas was probably a D-O event of sorts. Heinrich events are suidden irruptions of icebergs into the North Atlantic. Some, but not all, Heinrich events seem to be correlated with abrupt climatic changes, but the connection and mechanism is far from clear. They do seem to occur mostly in the cold spells before D-O events.

      • In reply to tty,
        Your comment is not correct. See the two paper which I have copied from my above comment as you have not read the paragraphs which I quoted that supports my comment (states almost exactly what I said).
        Heinrich events are abrupt cooling events. Heinrich events terminate interglacial periods. Look at the graph of planetary temperature for the last 420,000 years. The interglacial periods end abruptly not gradually.
        The ice bergs in the North Atlantic are caused by the Heinrich events, the rush of ice bergs does not cause the cooling.
        There was an urban legend started that somehow ice sheet ‘instability’ could cause the abrupt Heinrich cooling however detail analysis of ocean sediments (the ice bergs when they melt drop micro rock in the ocean sediments that can be used to determine the origin of the ice sheet from which they came) found the ice bergs came from three separate independent (impossible for the independent) ice sheets.
        It is not possible for three independent ice sheets to surge at the same time (climatologist agree on that point) and regardless the proxy evidence showed the oceans cooled first and then there was a surging of the ice sheets.
        What every appear to not understand is the Younger Dryas abrupt cooling ‘event’ 11,900 years ago, the planet cooled from interglacial warm to back to glacial cold with 75% of the cooling occurring in less than the decade and the cooling lasted for 1200 years, is a cyclic event. This is what terminates interglacials.
        There are not two massive forcing functions. There is one. It is the sun.
        http://sheridan.geog.kent.edu/geog41066/7-Overpeck.pdf
        ABRUPT CHANGE IN EARTH’S CLIMATE SYSTEM Jonathan T. Overpeck and Julia E. Cole

        ….Abrupt shifts between warm and cold states punctuate the interval between 20 to 75 ka) in the Greenland isotope record, with shifts of 5–15C occurring in decades or less (Figure 1). These alternations were identified in some of the earliest ice core isotopic studies [e.g., (22)] and were replicated and more precisely dated by subsequent work (23). Further analysis of diverse records has distinguished two types of millennial events (13). Dansgaard/Oeschger (D/O) events are alternations between warm (interstadial) and cold (stadial) states that recur approximately every 1500 years, although this rhythm is variable. Heinrich events are intervals of extreme cold contemporaneous with intervals of ice-rafted detritus in the northern North Atlantic (24–26); these recur irregularly on the order of ca. 10,000 years apart and are typically followed by the warmest D/O interstadials.

        http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2003/2003GL017115.shtml

        Timing of abrupt climate change: A precise clock by Stefan Rahmstorf
        Many paleoclimatic data reveal a approx. 1,500 year cyclicity of unknown origin. A crucial question is how stable and regular this cycle is. An analysis of the GISP2 ice core record from Greenland reveals that abrupt climate events appear to be paced by a 1,470-year cycle with a period that is probably stable to within a few percent; with 95% confidence the period is maintained to better than 12% over at least 23 cycles. This highly precise clock points to an origin outside the Earth system; oscillatory modes within the Earth system can be expected to be far more irregular in period.

      • “The ice bergs in the North Atlantic are caused by the Heinrich events, the rush of ice bergs does not cause the cooling.”
        The ice bergs are not caused by Heinrich events, they are the Heinrich events, which are defined by high IRD levels in the North Atlantic. I’m sorry but Overpeck apparently does not know much about Quaternary Geology.
        “Heinrich events terminate interglacial periods.”
        No. The last interglacial ended 117,000 years ago. The first Heinrich event (H6) was 65,000 years ago, c. 50,000 years later. And how could an interglacial end in a massive outbreak of icebergs? There isn’t any ice around to calve icebergs during an interglacial.
        “What every appear to not understand is the Younger Dryas abrupt cooling ‘event’ 11,900 years ago”
        I think you have confused things here. The younger Dryas ended 11,700 years ago. The abrupt cooling that ended the Late Glacial Interstadial and the beginning of the Younger Dryas was about 12,900 years ago.

  28. Willis
    “The CERES satellite dataset contains observations of the TOA radiation imbalance on a gridcell-by-gridcell basis. It is calculated as the downwelling solar radiation for that month by gridcell, minus upwelling reflected solar radiation, minus upwelling longwave radiation. Figure 1 shows the distribution of the TOA radiation imbalance around the planet.”
    //////
    There are many fundamental differences between land and ocean such that on a grid cell by grid cell basis, one would never expect there to be a balance between “solar radiation … minus upwelling reflected solar radiation”
    Over the oceans some of the received solar does not go to heat the SST but is rather absorbed at depth. Further, some of the energy received by the ocean in one location is, via oceanic currents, carried to another region where it serves to increase SST in that other location. There is no such equivalent on land.

    • richard verney May 9, 2015 at 10:04 am says:

      Willis

      “The CERES satellite dataset contains observations of the TOA radiation imbalance on a gridcell-by-gridcell basis. It is calculated as the downwelling solar radiation for that month by gridcell, minus upwelling reflected solar radiation, minus upwelling longwave radiation. Figure 1 shows the distribution of the TOA radiation imbalance around the planet.”

      There are many fundamental differences between land and ocean such that on a grid cell by grid cell basis, one would never expect there to be a balance between “solar radiation … minus upwelling reflected solar radiation”

      Thanks, Richard. I’m not sure who “expect[s] there to be a balance” between upwelling and downwelling radiation in any particular gridcell, but it’s certainly not me … as Figure 1 clearly shows, in general there is always a TOA imbalance in any gridcell or group of neighboring gridcells.
      w.

  29. I’m blown away by the fact that the highest surface temp isn’t correlated with the highest TOA.
    The appearance of this plot reminds me of your thunderstorm argument for temperature regulation. Can this be called the thunderhead plot? 🙂
    Perhaps there is spatial correlation along the 30C line. There is only so much energy to give. Perhaps the low TOA and high TOA cells correlate in space and time and represent convective transport cells which would result in hot and cold spots.

  30. SkepticGoneWild May 9, 2015 at 7:05 am

    Willis,
    I thought there were calibration problems with the CERES instrument as is noted in the following paper by James Hansen:
    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110415_EnergyImbalancePaper.pdf
    From the paper:

    “The precision achieved by the most advanced generation of radiation budget satellites is indicated by the planetary energy imbalance measured by the ongoing CERES (Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System) instrument (Loeb et al., 2009), which finds a measured 5-year mean imbalance of 6.5 W/m2 (Loeb et al., 2009). Because this result is implausible, instrumentation calibration factors were introduced to reduce the imbalance to the imbalance suggested by climate models, 0.85 W/m 2 (Loeb et al., 2009).”

    If this is still the case, then CERES TOA measurements are worthless.

    Thanks, Skeptic. I’m in total agreement with you up until the very last statement. You’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    As I have stated a number of times, and as your quote shows, the accuracy of the combination of the CERES instrument data is not that great.
    What you are missing is that the instruments are internally quite precise. This difference between accuracy and precision means that while we can’t use the CERES data for measuring the absolute value of the net TOA radiation, the data is very valuable for measuring the variations in the net TOA radiation.
    As an example of this difference, suppose your scale constantly gives a weight that is too heavy, but you’re unsure exactly how much too heavy it weighs. You do note, however, that each time you get on and off and on and off the scale over a period of a few minutes, it gives the same answer within ± a half pound.
    Can you use the scale to determine your weight? Well, not really, because you don’t know how big the error is.
    But can you use the scale to determine if you are gaining or losing weight? Sure, just weigh yourself every day and see which way the numbers go, that is to say it can measure the trend.
    Similarly, while the CERES data cannot tell us what the net TOA imbalance is, the data can and does tell us whether it is gaining or losing, that is to say CERES can measure the trend without knowing the absolute value.
    Regards,
    w.

    • Willis says, “What you are missing is that the instruments are internally quite precise. This difference between accuracy and precision means that while we can’t use the CERES data for measuring the absolute value of the net TOA radiation, the data is very valuable for measuring the variations in the net TOA radiation”
      ============================================
      Along the lines of learning based on these observation please consider your figure 3 chart, Oceans only,
      https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/ceres-ocean-annual-average-temperature-vs-toa-imbalance.png
      Would it be possible to do this on a seasonal basis, seeing the difference between the SH summer, when the TOA insolation is most extreme, and the NH summer, when the insolation is lowest? I think that understanding what happens to earth’s energy budget when the ATMOSPHERE cools despite plus 90 watts per sq. meter insolation in the SH summer is informative. How much of that annual atmosphere cooling is due to NH increased albedo, vs. SH increased ocean absorption of surface insolation, which also for a time prevents energy from entering the atmosphere? Understanding how the earth processes the seasonal pulse of plus 90 watts per sq. meter is, IMV, an excellent opportunity to increase understanding of earth’s climate.
      I enjoy your comments on how the earth mitigates forcing changes. The seasonal cooling of the global mean atmospheric T where energy is lost to the atmosphere permanently to space via increased albedo, and temporarily via ocean absorption, is perhaps an under used opportunity to learn.

      • A follow up question if I may. You stated
        “Note how there seems to be some kind of upper limit on land temperatures regardless of the TOA imbalance. Now, some of the non-linearity comes from altitude, since the higher you go the colder it gets. The very cold data at the bottom of Figure 4, for example, comes from the high plateaus of Antarctica. However, adjusting for altitude at a nominal rate of 1°C per hundred metres of elevation only solves part of the problem. Figure 5 shows the same data used in Figure 4 after adding one degree per hundred metres of
        elevation.
        ——————————————————————
        I do not understand why you did this. The T is what it is, the TOA flux, positive or negative, is what it is. Thanks.

    • Willis writes “As an example of this difference, suppose your scale constantly gives a weight that is too heavy, but you’re unsure exactly how much too heavy it weighs.”
      This is only true while the error is linear. Thats not a given.
      Lets suppose for arguments sake that the error depended on cloud thickness which we also weren’t measuring accurately. Now the data really does become useless because you have two unknowns and precise measurements of one doesnt mean anything until you have measurements of the other.

  31. EdA the New Yorker May 9, 2015 at 7:43 am

    The 30C “roof” in Fig. 4 bothers me too. Potential instrument malfunction and recalibration funkiness (skepticgonewild at 7:45) aside, is this just an artifact of surface temperature limiting over significant portions of the globe due to wind driven cooling, so that the non coupling that Nick notes is being played out?

    Thanks, Ed, but it’s not an artifact. It’s a real phenomenon, and is discussed in the literature. See my post Argo and the Ocean Temperature Maximum for more information.
    w.

    • Thanks, Willis. Your posts are always delightfully thought provoking. The trip back to your other post just reinforced my recollection of it. The comment in this post was actually adequate to jog the memory regarding the over ocean data, which sits well in my gut.
      My comment was rather specific to your Figure 4, and Nick Stokes’ comment on the a priori belief that TOA radiation imbalance should be independent of surface temperature. Separating this land-only component out from the general data was informative for that reason. The lack of land surface ability to generate water vapor at will deprives it of the theromostatic control available to the ocean. Thus, winds should be quite sufficient to rid any coupling between the surface and the TOA, as Nick indicates.
      Your plot shows a distinct correlation, not surprisingly nonlinear, which terminates in a hard topping at 30 C. The reason I posed the question is that I can’t think of any reason for that to happen without significant coupling provided by thunderstorms, and the like, which currently cannot be included in GCM’s. Your Figure 5 just muddies the issue for me, as Antarctica is really a different beast, and shouldn’t be forced to “toe the line.”

    • Yes, but that applies to the ocean temperature maximum. It is not obvious why a similar “roof” should apply to land temperatures, but apparently it does. This is the more remarkable since there is a large annual temperature swing on land while ocean temperatures in the tropics are virtually constant.
      But the annual average seems to be limited to a little over 30 centigrade both on land and at see. Definitely odd.

  32. The non-linearity is due to water phase change non linear behaviour (same water cycle issues you pointed out before). Ice doen’t convect well, but steam condensing more than swamps the needs. So hot enough for thunderstorm formation lids the top end, while the cold end at frozen locks up… But you already knew that…

  33. Are there data showing how much radiation in the wavelength range that is absorbed by CO2 is leaving the atmosphere, and how that changes with time? Does anyone know of references on this matter? CO2 absorbs most of this, and I’m interested to know how much more is escaping in that range.

    • No-one in the ‘climate game’ is interested in producing data about this. No money in it. You can probably gleen bits and pieces that are mentioned in many papers but you are going to have to search for it.
      Essentially most of the radiation that is absorbed by CO2 is removed by collision with other atmospheric atoms/molecules which increases their kinetic energy (speed up/warm up). A cascade effect that eventually escapes out of the atmosphere in milliseconds. Some aspects of this have been laboratory tested but don’t necessarily transfer to the real world. It’s mostly speculation. That is why you don’t have real data. Just models on top of models

  34. A couple of things stand out for me in this data. Firstly, the TOA imbalance has been essentially zero over the period plotted which means there has been no net energy to drive warming and explains why there has been no net warming over that period. Its not a case of the heat flowing into the oceans, there is no excess heat to flow anywhere!!!!
    Second, while I agree the slope of the plotted curve is far from linear it is in fact quite close to linear for TOA imbalance close to zero. If I do a linear approximation it shows a slope of about 5 watts/sqM TOA imbalance for each 1 degree change in temperature. Note this is a value with all feedbacks in place since I understand it is a measured value from the environment. Now doubling CO2 yields a change in retained heat of about 2.7 watts.sq/M so doubling CO2 would increase global temperature by about 0.5C. That’s very close to the value most often bandied about by skeptics. Further proof that while some AGW is real and occurring its a very long way from being catastrophic, dangerous or even particularly significant.
    As an aside, its interesting to see that this value of 5 watts/sqM per degree C is greater than would be predicted from Planks law (since earth is not a black body radiator thanks to GHG’s). Black body sensitivity would be 5.4 watts/sqM but after allowing for GHG and the like it falls to about 3.2 watts/sqM. The implication is that there is negative feedback in the climate system, an increase in temperature causes changes in the atmosphere which act to increase energy loss to space (probably greater cloudiness increasing albedo). Almost all natural systems show negative or stabilising feedback and here is some evidence the climate system is no different.

  35. Africa looks to have about zero average net radiation imbalance and China’s all negative.

  36. Willis
    Not sure if this is significant for you but the average lapse rate is probably not 1 deg C per 100 m altitude. At any particular location the lapse rate varies with the seasons. Environmental lapse rates also vary systematically with latitude. So for a particular grid cell the average lapse rate varies during the year, and is different to the neighboring cells to the north and to the south.
    From a point in the mid-latitudes where the lapse rate is likely to be around 0.6 deg C per km, the rate decreases towards the nearest pole, and increases towards the equator.
    So it might pay you to recompose the data with this in mind to give somewhat tighter scatter plots than the ones you show above.

    • Living at 5000 ft within 2 miles of where the montains climb rapidly to 7000 and then up to over 13000 ft we find that inversions are very frequent and usually associated with cloud cover which causes varying temperatures at various elevations and nowhere linear in their progression.

      • A more or less constant lapse rate really only applies to the free atmosphere. Near mountains things grow much more complicated due to winds, shallow near-ground inversions etc.

  37. In reply to:
    Willis Eschenbach May 9, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    My brother used to say “It’s easy to predict the future … as long as it’s just like the past”. The problem with the climate is rarely just like the past. See the ups and downs and level periods in the recent temperature record.
    As to “what has changed”, you’ve put your finger on the underlying problem. For example, the earth generally cooled from the 1400s to the “Little Ice Age” … what changed to make it start cooling? We don’t know. Then something changed, and we came out of the Little Ice Age. What changed to make the globe start warming? We don’t know.
    As a result, no, we can’t simply assume that the future climate will be just like the past climate.

    William,
    I do not see what your brother did or did not say has any relevance to the nature of the problem what caused/causes cyclic abrupt climate change, what causes the glacial/interglacial cycle, why the planet warmed in the last 50 years, why there is suddenly high latitude cooling.
    We all or at least most of us accept logic and facts can be used to get a conviction in a criminal case. It appears here is sufficient information in the case of this problem to convict the sun, to solve how the sun changed in the past cyclically to caused what is observed.
    As the sun was at its highest activity in 8000 years during the period when the planet recently warmed, there are cosmogenic isotope changes at the past cyclic climate change events, the solar cycle has abruptly slowed down, and there is now in your face evidence of high latitude cooling, it seems kind of obvious that the sun is suspect number 1.
    What alternative suspects (hypotheses, as to what caused the past warming and recent warming) have you determined from analyzing and plotting top of the atmosphere radiation?
    What are the alternative suspects that could cause cyclic abrupt climate change, the observed changes in planetary temperature?
    You have written a number of articles for this forum. Where are you at in your studies? Can you summarize your conclusions?
    The cyclic massive abrupt changes in planetary temperature did not occur due to magic wands. There have been 22 glacial/interglacial cycles in the last 1.8 million years. The continents have not moved. The physics of cloud formation, the physics of the water cycle, the physics of processes in the atmosphere, in physics of the ocean and so on have not changed, in 1.8 million years.
    There is a very, very short list of suspects that are capable of causing the observed changes to planetary temperature.
    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/temp/vostok/graphics/tempplot5.gif
    http://www.climate4you.com/images/GISP2%20TemperatureSince10700%20BP%20with%20CO2%20from%20EPICA%20DomeC.gif

    • William Astley,
      My view is that Milankovitch partially nailed this ages ago.
      The shape of the earths orbit changes in a cyclical manner, the timing of the seasons changes on another (preccession of the equinoxes), and the tilt of the earths axis relative to the plane of the solar system changes on another cyclical basis. So the seasonal and latitudinal receipt of direct solar energy (insolation) changes on a complex cyclical pattern as a result. That is all standard textbook stuff.
      There is an aspect to this that has not been studied in much detail. This is the insolation gradient from the mid latitudes to the poles. The cyclical changes in the above orbital parameters cause a change in the relative intensity of sunlight falling during spring to summer in each hemisphere. But the change vary in magnitude and timing according to latitude. So there is variation in the relative difference in insolation between the mid latitudes and the poles in each hemisphere. At the top of the atmosphere there is a heat input gradient from the mid-latitudes to the poles. The gradient is not constant. It changes in a cyclical manner. When the gradient steepens then heat is more easily transported to the pole in that hemisphere (and less easily transported to the pole in the other hemisphere).
      The result of the above is twofold. One, it changes the rate of heat delivery to each pole. Two, it causes one hemisphere to rob heat from the other, then vica-versa in a cyclical pattern (heat that is available to be transported towards the pole in the opposing hemisphere to which it was originally received. Note that the second phenomenon is even less well studied than the first. In both cases this promotes interglacial conditions at high latitudes in the hemisphere where the insolation gradient is greatest. When the gradient lessens then heat is less easily transported from the mid-latitudes to the pole in that hemisphere (promoting glaciation in high latitudes of that hemisphere).
      The timing of these changes in insolation gradient fits very nicely with the timing of temperature change as recorded from deep Antarctic ice cores over the last 800,000 years. At this stage the long-term variation in trans-latitudinal transport of heat (basically down the lines of longitude) in the direction of the two poles has had very little attention by Quaternary geologists, climatologist or meteorologists. Most of the theories relate directly to the amount of sunshine received at “critical” times of the year in the regions where the ice-sheets usually accumulate.
      Finally, changes in temperature in Antarctica have been linked in the minds of James Hansen & Co to Greenhouse gases in the Atmosphere. This is a significant plank in the justification for high sensitivity to greenhouse gas concentrations. They consider Antarctic temperature changes to be caused mostly by greenhouse gases. They do not consider variation in heat transport into Antarctica as a major player in the overall picture. Horizontal heat transport bears directly on estimates of climate sensitivity to greenhouse gasses. Major cyclical variation of pole-ward heat transport due to changes in the insolation gradient at least partly explain Antarctic temperature variation on geological timescales. This reduces the requirement for CO2 and CH4 and H2O to do the job of changing the temperature in Antarctica by orthodox radiative transfer. So substantial fluctuation in cross-latitudinal heat transport enables lower estimates of climate sensitivity.
      Anyway, that is my 2 cents worth for now.

      • I agree. During the Eocene Climate Optimum alligators (and other subtropical species) were living on Ellesmere land above 80 degrees North. This means that lakes and rivers did not freeze for prolonged periods in winter, when there is no sunshine at all for 4 months or more. There is no way GHG can retain solar heat when there isn’t any, so the only possible explanation is that vastly more heat was transferred to the Arctic (and Antarctic) from lower latitudes at that time. Note that the Tropics were little, if at all, warmer than at present.

      • In reply to:
        Rob R May 9, 2015 at 10:26 pm
        My view is that Milankovitch partially nailed this ages ago.
        The shape of the earths orbit changes in a cyclical manner, the timing of the seasons changes on another (preccession of the equinoxes), and the tilt of the earths axis relative to the plane of the solar system changes on another cyclical basis. So the seasonal and latitudinal receipt of direct solar energy (insolation) changes on a complex cyclical pattern as a result. That is all standard textbook stuff.
        William,
        The assertion that summer insolation changes at 65N due to the earth’s orbital changes, which is referred to as Milankovitch’s theory, somehow causes the glacial/interglacial cycle, somehow causes cyclic abrupt climate change, is an urban legend.
        Currently summer insolation at 65N is the same as the coldest part of the last interglacial. Based on Milankovitch’s theory the glacial phase could start tomorrow.
        Are at least 12 different observations and analysis results that support the assertion that insolation changes at 65N are physically not capable of causing the temperature changes observed in the paleo record and did not cause what is observed. The following is a sample of the paradoxes which disproof the theory.
        1) 100,000 year problem

        The 100,000-year problem is that the eccentricity variations have a significantly smaller impact on solar forcing than precession or obliquity – according to theory- and hence might be expected to produce the weakest effects. However, the greatest observed response in regard to the ice ages is at the 100,000-year timescale, even though the theoretical forcing is smaller at this scale.[10] During the last 1 million years, the strongest climate signal is the 100,000-year cycle. In addition, despite the relatively great 100,000-year cycle, some have argued that the length of the climate record is insufficient to establish a statistically significant relationship between climate and eccentricity variations.

        2) Southern Hemisphere cools cyclically at the same time as the Northern Hemisphere when summer insolation at 65S is at its maximum.
        http://www.news.wisc.edu/9557

        Glacial records depict ice age climate in synch worldwide
        “During the last two times in Earth’s history when glaciation occurred in North America, the Andes also had major glacial periods,” says Kaplan.
        The results address a major debate in the scientific community, according to Singer and Kaplan, because they seem to undermine a widely held idea that global redistribution of heat through the oceans is the primary mechanism that drove major climate shifts of the past.
        “Because the Earth is oriented in space in such a way that the hemispheres are out of phase in terms of the amount of solar radiation they receive, it is surprising to find that the climate in the Southern Hemisphere cooled off repeatedly during a period when it received its largest dose of solar radiation,” says Singer. “Moreover, this rapid synchronization of atmospheric temperature between the polar hemispheres appears to have occurred during both of the last major ice ages that gripped the Earth.”

        3) Stage 5 problem (Causality Problem)

        The stage 5 problem refers to the timing of the penultimate interglacial (in marine isotopic stage 5) that appears to have begun ten thousand years in advance of the solar forcing hypothesized to have caused it (also known as the causality problem)(putative effect precedes cause).

        4) Effect exceeds cause

        The effects of these variations are primarily believed to be due to variations in the intensity of solar radiation upon various parts of the globe. Observations show climate behavior is much more intense than the calculated variations.

        5) The unsplit peak problem

        The unsplit peak problem refers to the fact that eccentricity has cleanly resolved variations at both the 95 and 125 ka periods. A sufficiently long, well-dated record of climate change should be able to resolve both frequencies.[15] However, some researchers[who?] interpret climate records of the last million years as showing only a single spectral peak at 100 ka periodicity.

        6) The transition problem

        The transition problem refers to the switch in the frequency of climate variations 1 million years ago. From 1–3 million years, climate had a dominant mode matching the 41 ka cycle in obliquity. After 1 million years ago, this switched to a 100 ka variation matching eccentricity, for which no reason has been established

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles#/media/File:Five_Myr_Climate_Change.svg
        7) Identifying dominant factor

        Milankovitch believed that decreased summer insolation in northern high latitudes was the dominant factor leading to glaciation, which led him to (incorrectly) deduce an approximate 41 ka period for ice ages.[16] Subsequent research[17][18][19] has shown that ice age cycles of the Quaternary glaciation over the last million years have been at a 100,000-year period, leading to identification of the 100 ka eccentricity cycle as more important, although the exact mechanism remains obscure
        The Earth’s orbit is an ellipse. The eccentricity is a measure of the departure of this ellipse from circularity. The shape of the Earth’s orbit varies in time between nearly circular (low eccentricity of 0.000055) and mildly elliptical (high eccentricity of 0.0679)[3] with the mean eccentricity of 0.0019 as geometric or logarithmic mean and 0.034 as arithmetic mean, the latter useless. The major component of these variations occurs on a period of 413,000 years (eccentricity variation of ±0.012). A number of other terms vary between components 95,000 and 125,000 years (with a beat period 400,000 years), and loosely combine into a 100,000-year cycle (variation of −0.03 to +0.02). The present eccentricity is 0.017 and decreasing.

        • William Astley
          A long reply – Thank you.
          A few thoughts for you to consider.
          The Andes mountains are north-south, but mostly are “equatorial” latitudes. Even the small tip (in area) down towards Cape Horn at 56 south runs out of available land almost immediately. That is, a glacier forming in the Andes at 54 south (about British Columbia latitude) flows immediately out on the sea and cannot keep expanding. Between 54 south and the flats of equatorial Columbia-Panama, an Andean glacier would form, go downhill, then recede as they do today in the southern Alps and Iranian mountains. Local areas only, no continent-wide expanse.
          And there is no other land at all to cover but the small tip of South America and the little NZ mountains (again, locked into the sea immediately) until the Cape of Good Hope and Australia’s southern coast. Good Hope’s latitude 35 south! You’d need glaciers down to Atlanta, Dallas, OK city, and about Los Angeles to cover land at equal latitudes the southern land is just beginning. And, on the other side of the Atlantic, those glaciers at the same latitude would be down past the Sahara and MidEast.
          There is likely no geological evidence of Antarctic sea ice possible – now oscillating between 67 south and 58-59 south every year because there is no land to deposit the evidence, nor scoop the evidence from: The sea freezes, melts, and refreezes with no morraines, no cut valleys, no eroded mountains. Not really even any rocks dropped on the sea floor, since those would come out from Antarctica and be lost earlier (closer to shore.)
          Chicago’s famous kilometer-thick, centuries-long coverage by ice is not possible down south: There is no flat, freezeable land down there at 40 south except Cape Horn. There is no land like Siberia, north Canada, central europe down there.
          http://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0CAcQjRw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcuip.uchicago.edu%2Fwww4teach%2F97%2Fjlyman%2Fdefault%2Fquiz%2Fgeogtest1.html&ei=uW1PVb_6DouXsAXdoIDgBw&bvm=bv.92885102,d.cGU&psig=AFQjCNFKuVdBCWJY5b3JoW15jfBpIoUobQ&ust=1431355186115275
          But the “latitude band” that Milankovitch supposedly affects IS the band where Antarctic sea ice does exist today. Invisibly to people, but reflecting solar energy all of the time – even if “invisible” to pen and paper and universities. So, is an invisible increase in Antarctic sea ice to “blame” for the error in Milankovitch’s predictions and northern land temperatures. Energy reflected from sea ice can never be absorbed – it is gone instantly.

      • Rob writes “My view is that Milankovitch partially nailed this ages ago.”
        I’m quite sceptical about the whole Milankovitch Cycle argument. For example did you know that despite the massive differences at the surface, the Southern Hemisphere has almost exactly the same albedo as the Northern hemisphere? The reason is because the atmosphere, specifically clouds, determine the albedo and not the surface.
        eg http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/wxwise/homerbe.html
        Incidentally apparently the GCMs dont display this behaviour.

      • A significant increase (as seen in garfice) cosmic radiation causes an increase in rainfall and decrease the humidity in the upper troposphere (what is observed). As a result, the temperature drops in the troposphere. The decrease in solar activity (the temperature gradient in the stratosphere) reduces the force of the wind and the consequent evaporation in the equatorial regions.

      • The earth’s climate has been significantly affected by the planet’s magnetic field, according to a Danish study published Monday that could challenge the notion that human emissions are responsible for global warming.
        “Our results show a strong correlation between the strength of the earth’s magnetic field and the amount of precipitation in the tropics,” one of the two Danish geophysicists behind the study, Mads Faurschou Knudsen of the geology department at Aarhus University in western Denmark, told the Videnskab journal.
        He and his colleague Peter Riisager, of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), compared a reconstruction of the prehistoric magnetic field 5,000 years ago based on data drawn from stalagmites and stalactites found in China and Oman.
        The results of the study, which has also been published in US scientific journal Geology, lend support to a controversial theory published a decade ago by Danish astrophysicist Henrik Svensmark, who claimed the climate was highly influenced by galactic cosmic ray (GCR) particles penetrating the earth’s atmosphere.
        Svensmark’s theory, which pitted him against today’s mainstream theorists who claim carbon dioxide (CO2) is responsible for global warming, involved a link between the earth’s magnetic field and climate, since that field helps regulate the number of GCR particles that reach the earth’s atmosphere.
        “The only way we can explain the (geomagnetic-climate) connection is through the exact same physical mechanisms that were present in Henrik Svensmark’s theory,” Knudsen said.
        “If changes in the magnetic field, which occur independently of the earth’s climate, can be linked to changes in precipitation, then it can only be explained through the magnetic field’s blocking of the cosmetic rays,” he said.
        http://phys.org/news/2009-01-earth-magnetic-field-impacts-climate.html

  38. Hi Willis, interesting as always.

    Just as in the ocean, at the top end the land temperature is pretty much decoupled from the radiation imbalance.

    I don’t think decoupled is the right way to read this. In fig 5 I’d say there is a very small +ve slope in high temperature section. This means surface temp is very insensitive to changes in radiation. Alternatively, there is a large change in TOA for small change in temperature.
    This is what would be seen is there was a strong negative feedback.
    Looking at the main pseudo linear section and eyeballing the slope, I’d estimate 40K temp change for 100W/m^2
    Let’s turn that into a climate sensitivity. 40/100 = 0.4 K/W/m^2
    Now with the radiative forcing of 2xCO2 at about 3.65 W/^2 and using this empirical , all feedbacks included, estimation of CS we find a warming of just under 1.5 deg C for a doubling of CO2.
    That is at the low end of values reported in Lewis and Curry’s recent paper.
    So if the world continues to warm after “the pause” gets old enough to vote and leaves home, large regions will touch the flat top regime and the average CS will drop even lower.
    It would be interesting to look at reflected SW to see whether this control mechanism is working by reducing energy input to the lower climate system ( ie cloud ) or by evacuating increasing heat out through the poles.
    The latter would seem less like to be a major contributor since it would require the tropical mid tropo hot spot that has failed to be more warm then just about detectable. It would seem that increased heat flux to poles plays a minor role which implies incoming energy must be being reduced. It would be good to see a corroboration of that from CERES.

  39. Thanks Willis
    Your post has confirmed some things for me. It has nothing to do with what you posted about. It is something else I’m working on.
    Thanks

  40. Willis, how is this averaged geometrically over the seasons? It seems to me that with the tilt of the earth’s axis causing the sun to move north and south over the course of each year, there will not be a sharp latitude delineation between positive and negative TOA imbalance. Instead, it will be smeared out +/-23 degrees from what would be a sharp delineation if the earth had no tilt. Perhaps that is the -34 to +12 region?

  41. You extract some interesting graphs from the Ceres data Willis. I agree that there graph is not very linear, however that does not mean that a linear approximation is not good enough.
    A linear function gives a very good approximation of a non-linear function within a limited segment.
    Take the highly non-linear Stefan-Boltzmann radiation law as an example:
    J(T) = sigma*T*T*T*T , where T is the temperature in Kelvin, J is emission and sigma is a constant
    Temperature in the fourth power is pretty non-linear, right?
    However, unless you want to go into the runoff theories, an interval of just 10 Kelvin is more than enough for climatology use.
    So how well will a linear function represent the Stephan-Boltzmann radiation law over let’s say the interval from 300 K to 310K?
    The differentiable of the law is 4*sigma*T*T*T, meaning that the slope in J(T=300) is 300*300*300*sigma.
    The linear approximation in the interval is therefore J(300) + 300*300*300*deltaT*sigma
    Running the numbers show that:
    K=302: S-B law:8.318 M; linear approximation 8.316M; difference= 0.02%
    K=306: S-B law:8.767M; linear approximation:8.748M; difference= 0.22%
    K=310: S-B law:9.235M; linear approximation,9.180M; difference= 0.60%
    This is for most purposes a negligible difference, meaning the linear approximation is good enough.
    To analyze it when we only have a scattering, and no analytical function, we have to estimate the difference between the loess smooth of the data and a linear tangent to that line.
    If you imagine two horizontal lines with a separation of 10 C in figure 3, you see that the differences within this interval are not very huge.
    We see that the relationship over land will give a larger error, but for a first approximation it should be good enough for most purposes.
    /Jan

  42. 300 to 330 K, 10% increase in temp., 1.05%T = 1.215%W ;1.10^4 = 1.464%W
    “linear approximation is good enough” no, not really IMHO.

  43. I wonder what your plots would look like based on latitude bands? It makes sense that latitude may be an underlying factor in decoupling TOA imbalance from surface temperature. The location of ocean currents, particular ones especially, may be the culprit. Or the location of land masses. Oceans absorb in one area but variably cough up or keep heat in other latitudes and over land masses thus decoupling the relationship?

  44. Interesting that in Figure 3, at the relatively ‘precise’ left hand limit of the data points, you see two clear inflection points close to the temperatures of ~0 °C and ~4 °C. It seems unlikely that they exist and are so close to the inflection points of density-changes in water/ice by pure coincidence. I love trying to look for the signature of water in climate data.

  45. The really interesting thing about your figures is that the cap appears to be at almost exactly 30 degrees C/86 degrees F for the ocean, and that the land cap, while soggier (there are clearly places that can get much hotter, but there aren’t many that remain much hotter on average) is still very close to 30 degrees C. This all by itself is convincing evidence of a strong negative feedback system that establishes this upper bound/asymptotic average temperature. I’d expect it to represent a transition point where even in pure tropical ocean, water hotter than this rapidly creates clouds that block any further heating or else starts actively evaporating at a rate that precludes further heating. Land temperatures are trickier, but given that “wet” ground with available water to evaporate probably experiences a very similar limit (plus widespread moderation of tropical temperatures via oceanic waters) it isn’t surprising that most land temperatures seem to hit max at the same place.
    The second interesting observation is the temperature intercept of net-neutral incoming and outgoing radiation, which again for both land and sea appears to be around (wait for it!) 14 C. And what, we ask, is the Earth’s mean temperature? Why, around 14 C. Again, over land there is a lot more spray about the comparatively sharp line that exists for the ocean, but the graphs do seem to reflect the idea that 14 C is a crossover point — above it, one is absorbing more than one is emitting, below it the opposite, and at it one absorbs as much as one rejects.
    It will be VERY interesting to see if this figures migrate substantially over time as CERES is online for more than the merest blink in climate terms. It is dangerous and misleading to jump to conclusions based on tiny segments of data snapshotting a long-running non-stationary non-equilibrium dynamical process (like the climate) but the correspondence between mean temperature and the crossover point in the curves you generate is very tempting…
    rgb

    • Abstract
      The Maunder Minimum was the time during the second part of the 17th century, nominally from 1645 to 1717 AD, when unusually low numbers of sunspots were observed. On the basis of numerous recorded observations of auroras in the early 18th century, the end of the Minimum could be regarded as around 1700, but details of sunspot observations by Jan Heweliusz (Heweliusz, Machina Coelestis, 1679), John Flamsteed and Philippe de La Hire in 1684 allow us to interpret the Maunder Minimum as the period without a significant cessation of activity. This Minimum was also recognized in 14C data from trees which grew during the second part of 17th century. The variation in the production rate of radioactive carbon isotope 14C is due to modulation of the cosmic ray flux producing it by the changing level of solar activity and solar magnetic flux. Stronger magnetic fields in the solar wind make it more difficult for cosmic rays to reach the Earth, causing a drop in the production rate of 14C. However, more detailed analyses of 14C data indicate that the highest isotope abundances do not occur at the time of sunspot minima, as would be expected on the basis of modulation of the cosmic ray flux by the solar magnetic field, but two years after the sunspot number maximum. This time difference (or phase delay) can be accounted for if in fact there are both solar and non-solar cosmic ray contributions. Solar flares could also contribute high-energy particles and produce 14C and are generally not most frequent at the time of the highest sunspot numbers in the cycle. Solar flares, most frequent about two years after the sunspot maximum, could be the main source of increased 14C isotope abundance. This idea changes established earlier relations between sunspot number of this time regarded as low and increased abundance of 14C isotope, and allows us to interpret the Maunder Minimum as a botanical or statistical effect.
      http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2010SoPh..261..337R
      If the Earth’s magnetic field is weakening or it could affect the production of solar protons C14?
      June 2014 magnetic field
      Measurements made over the past six months confirm the general trend of the field’s weakening, with the most dramatic declines over the Western Hemisphere.
      But in other areas, such as the southern Indian Ocean, the magnetic field has strengthened since January.
      The latest measurements also confirm the movement of magnetic North towards Siberia.
      These changes are based on the magnetic signals stemming from Earth’s core. Over the coming months, scientists will analyse the data to unravel the magnetic contributions from other sources, namely the mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere.
      http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/Swarm/Swarm_reveals_Earth_s_changing_magnetism

    • rgb
      ” This all by itself is convincing evidence of a strong negative feedback system”
      It’s positive (larger than the planck-feedback) up to 20 C SST.

    • RGB,
      It bugs me that you write so much more succinctly than I do. I’ll work on it.
      My somewhat awkward response to Willis’ response above is trying to say the same thing regarding the 30 C “roof”. I mixed in the other side of the coin that processes contributing to the topping should, based on my understanding, also lead to scattering of the data points. This does occur over land to a greater extent than over the ocean. The incoming radiative TOA flux is roughly constant. The outgoing flux is a mishmash of reflection, absorption and reemission, cloud cover, and thermal equilibration due to surface winds, geothermal exchange, and the like. It also represents these values averaged over a long time scale. Thus, while the surface temperature (time averaged) should be strongly related to the incoming flux, the strength of the correlation of the local surface temperature to.the NET flux, particularly over land surprises me. That it cuts off so abruptly at 30 C is the real head scratcher. Despite the extraordinary technical discussion associated with this post, this seems to be an important topic for further analysis.
      I’m still digesting your response to me from the England post. I appreciated the time you took to prepare it. As with eating at a fine restaurant, you tend to get stuffed, and can’t eat for some time thereafter.

  46. Increased evaporation will increase the amount of solar near infrared absorption by the water vapour. That would tend to keep a pretty tight lid on maximum sea surface temperatures.

  47. This comment will sound far more hostile than I mean it to be. I wish the people who post long, scientific articles here would start with an abstract of some kind. I have learned to scroll down to see if there’s a conclusion, and then decide whether to wade through the rest. In this case, there was no conclusion, so I skipped it. But it still could’ve used an abstract.

    • Thanks, Jake. Your idea that a description of an ongoing scientific inquiry requires an abstract is a curious one. This is a place for the free exchange of scientific ideas. When I write papers for the journals I include abstracts. Here, I write for the pure joy of it.
      And the claim that only ideas with pre-spelled out conclusions are worth listening to is also odd. Good heavens, Jake, do you want someone to chew your food for you as well? I often scrimp on conclusions specifically to encourage people like yourself to chew over the ideas and develop your own conclusions.
      Re-reading this, I see that it sounds far more hostile than I mean it to be. Here’s the thing, Jake. I learned early on that no matter how I write, someone will be unhappy with it. If I write in a simple manner, someone will want it more complex. If I write in a complex manner, someone will comment that they wish I wrote in a simpler way. You are number seventy-‘leven in a long, long line of anonymous folks telling me I’m doing it all wrong …
      Let me encourage you as an experiment to let your considerations go for a week, and for that time to forget about just how you’d like ideas to be presented to you. Me, I use what I call the “10% rule”. I’ll read 10% of a scientific document, or of a description of someone’s scientific exploration, or a new and novel scientific idea, or even a novel with an interesting title, regardless of whether it has an abstract or a conclusion, and pretty much regardless of the style and tone of the author. After I read 10%, I either read the rest or bail and move on.
      Best regards,
      w.

  48. The relationship between global energy content and TOA is fsairly clear from the first law.
    d(W&H)/dt = energy in (J/s) – energy out (J/s)
    Where W&H is work and heat – most in the oceans.
    https://watertechbyrie.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/argo-to-oct-2014.jpg
    There is an annual component of warming and cooling – great variability – and a bit of an increase after 2014. The increase in solar intensity in the current cycle has something to do with the latter. The radiative imbalance is far from constant.
    I have seen ocean heat content used to derive the radiant imbalance – and I believe this is an essential step. The 0.6W/m2 imbalance is calculated from ocean heat. I have never seen upwelling radiation reported as anything other than anomalies – e.g. http://ceres.larc.nasa.gov/order_data.php – and have never seen such a direct point by point comparison incoming solar and outgoing IR and shortwave. . Directly comparing energy in and energy out from satellites has a 5W/m2 error bound.
    So not quite sure where this is coming from from or going to.

  49. Richard Petschauer May 10, 2015 at 9:13 pm says:

    Willis,
    The data you provided here is very interesting but it does not support your conclusion that global average temperature vs. forcing at the top of the atmosphere cannot be approximated as a linear response. You did point out that even though energy in minus out varies a lot with latitude, the global net difference is close to zero.
    Two examples of a very close to linear relation between temperature variation and changing in solar forcing are changes in seasonal temperatures at a specific latitude and seasonal temperature range vs. latitudes.
    In the Minneapolis area at 45% latitude a plot of seasonal historical mean weekly temperatures, shifted 4.3 weeks to compensate for heat storage delay, vs. solar input fits a straight line with very little scatter.

    Thanks, Richard, but it appears you’ve shifted the goalposts. I am discussing the net TOA forcing. Your claims, on the other hand, all refer to solar forcing.
    Best regards,
    w.

    • Willis,
      But with all due respect, I wonder what NET TOA forcing signifies. After the response delay time of the surface and atmosphere temperatures it should always be close to zero. I think of using forcing before any temperature response and to estimate the magnitude of the response. For example, what is the temperature response to doubling CO2? A useful thing to want to know. However, in practice with the actual TOA CO2 forcing increasing not as a step function but constantly and close to a ramp function, after a few years, depending on the response delay, the surface and atmosphere temperatures and the outgoing radiation will also be close to a ramp function. The net result with be a nearly small constant unbalance between in and out radiation at the TOA of magnitude depending on the response delay, but probably not statistically measurable to much accuracy. Here we are referring to global totals, not regional differences.
      Incidenlly, the responce to a ramp function is related to the the integral of the response to a step function in a linear system. So the response delay time to a sudden doubling of CO2 is a useful thing to know.

      • Additional comment.
        On the other hand, If global net radiation at the TOA were large enough so we could more accurately measure it, we could possibly estimate system temperature response time. And it would be good to know if the net difference is increasing. This would tell if the ocean delay due to heat storage is large enough to account for reductions in surface warming compared to predictions as some claim. But a small net difference as an upper bound estimate means a relatively small delay.

  50. Hi Willis,
    I had thought I would never comment on WUWT that again, but I will make an exception here.
    I apologise for not reading all the comments, hence this may have been mentioned.
    The spread of data points when the radiation differential is plotted against temperature could be interesting.
    Are you able to take the variance of the individual data points from the Loess line, code them by colour and then plot back on the global map? It might display features e.g. Gulf stream and other ocean currents on the ocean plot or deserts and wet areas on the land plot. A bit like your story about the Finding Deserts Post.
    I hope that makes sense.
    Yours Peter C

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