The Temperature Field

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I’ve been mulling over a comment made by Steven Mosher. I don’t have the exact quote, so he’s welcome to correct any errors. As I understood it, he said that much of the variation in temperatures around the planet can be explained by a combination of elevation and latitude. He described this as a “temperature field”, because at any given latitude and elevation it has a corresponding estimated temperature value.

Intrigued by this idea, I decided to use the CERES dataset. However, rather than using latitude, I decided to take a look at how well a combination of the sunlight and the elevation can predict the average temperature. Let’s start with the average surface temperature. It’s shown below in Figure 1.

 

CERES average temperature 0 degreesFigure 1. Average surface temperature according to the CERES dataset, on a 1°x1° gridcell basis.

To estimate the temperature, what I did was to make a simple linear function of solar energy and elevation (see end notes for details). This gave me the following estimate of gridcell temperatures.

 

CERES estimated temperature 0 degreesFigure 2. Estimated surface temperature based on elevation and sunlight. R^2 = 0.94, p-value less than 2e-16. See end notes for calculation.

Now, that’s a pretty good facsimile of the actual temperatures shown in Figure 1. Indeed, the “R-squared” (R^2) of the temperature field and the observations is 0.95, meaning that the temperature field explains 95% of the variation in the observed temperature.

That’s not the interesting part, however. The fun questions are, where is the temperature NOT as expected, and why? Where is the greatest departure from the estimated temperature, and why is it there? To investigate those, I next looked at the difference between observations and the estimated temperature field. Figures 3 and 4 show two views of the observations minus the temperature field.

 

CERES average temperature minus expected 0 degreesFigure 3. Observed temperatures minus the estimated temperature field, centered on Greenwich. Gray line shows the boundary between positive and negative values. Positive values (yellow to red) mean that the observations are warmer than expected. 

I found this most fascinating, as it shows the great oceanic heat transport systems that move the energy from the tropics, where there is an excess, to the poles where it is radiated to space. I was surprised to see that the warmest location compared to expectations is the area above Scandinavia. This has to be a result of the Gulf Stream current which is also quite visible along the edge of the East Coast of North America.

I note that as we’d expect, the deserts and arid areas of the world like the Sahara, the Namib, and the Australian deserts are warmer than would be otherwise expected.

You can see another view showing the overall results of the El Nino/La Nina heat pump below in Figure 4. This is the same data as in Figure 3, but centered on the Pacific.

 

CERES average temperature minus expected 180 degreesFigure 4. Observed temperatures minus the estimated temperature field, centered on the International Dateline. Gray line shows the boundary between positive and negative values. Positive values mean that the observations are warmer than expected.

Here we can see the area off of Peru that runs cool because the El Nino/La Nina pump pushes warm surface water across the Pacific. This exposes underlying cooler waters. When the warm water hits the Asia/Indonesia/Australia landmasses, the warm water splits north and south and moves polewards. As with the area above Scandinavia, the heat seems to pile up at the polar extremities of the heat transport system. In the case of the Pacific, the northern branch ends up in the Gulf of Alaska. The southern branch ends up where it is blocked by the shallow narrows between the Antarctic Peninsula and the tip of South America.

In any case, that’s what I learned from my wanderings. The beauty of climate is that there are always more puzzles to be solved and oddities to be pondered. For example, why are the western parts of the northern hemisphere continents warmer than the eastern parts?

My best to each of you,

w.

As I’ve Mentioned: If you disagree with someone, please quote the exact words you disagree with so we can all understand your objections.

The Math: I used the form:

Estimated Temperature = a * sunlight + b * elevation + c * sunlight * elevation + m

where a, b, c, and m are fitted constants. The results were as follows:

Coefficients:
  Estimate Std. Error t value Pr(>|t|)    
(Intercept)  -4.052e+01  7.122e-02  -568.9   <2e-16 ***
  sunvec        1.675e-01  2.033e-04   823.8   <2e-16 ***
  elvec        -1.918e-02  7.723e-05  -248.4   <2e-16 ***
  sunvec:elvec  4.354e-05  2.485e-07   175.2   <2e-16 ***
  ---
  Signif. codes:  0 ‘***’ 0.001 ‘**’ 0.01 ‘*’ 0.05 ‘.’ 0.1 ‘ ’ 1

Residual standard error: 0.2557 on 64796 degrees of freedom
Multiple R-squared:  0.9479,	Adjusted R-squared:  0.9479
F-statistic: 3.933e+05 on 3 and 64796 DF,  p-value: < 2.2e-16

where “sunvec” is average gridcell solar energy in W/m2, and elvec is the average gridcell elevation in meters.

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215 thoughts on “The Temperature Field

  1. I’ve always said that if I wanted to see what 1 deg of temp increase was like due to climate change, just drive a couple of hundred miles north. Seems life in Coffs Harbour is not so bad! If I wanted to see what it was like with 2 deg warmer, I need to go to Queensland, perhaps Bundaberg. 3-4 deg would take me to Townsville or Cairns….seems to be getting greener the further north I go. Perhaps global warming might be pretty good after all, bring it on!

    • Of course Newcastle and Sydney have greater extremes of heat and cold than Coffs Harbour.

  2. Sunlight ?? Are you mad??
    You are trying to tell us that the Sun has some effect on warming the planet??!
    You wait until the SkS lads hear about this one!

  3. > For example, why are the western parts of the northern hemisphere continents warmer than the eastern parts?
    Trade winds bringing warm air from the oceans?
    Frank

    • Yes, and he fact that the world is spinning that way.
      Warm water and air flows north from the equator and the continents roll underneath it.
      Then the mountains push the air up, causing water vapour to condense out and cool the air as heat is lost.
      By the time it reaches the far side of the continent the air has cooled.
      This assumes the initial warmer Temperatures come from the Oceans as the heat is concentrated first by Ocean currents.

      • Oceans hold more heat, though temperature will be cooler. Continents release heat at a faster rate than the oceans.

      • johnmarshall, surely that is why the heat doesn’t build up over continents?
        My hypothesis is that heat is generally released more slowly from Oceans than from land but – when many warm areas flow together – at that place more heat is released.
        Thus warming the air above more than continents can.

      • Your reply:-
        Land warms faster than oceans, during the day, but looses heat at night much faster than the oceans due to the higher temperature difference. Cloudy nights over land will loose heat at a slower rate than on clear nights, which is probably due to latent heat release at the cloudbase. I do not quite see how a merging of ocean warm waters will increase heat loss. Heat loss depends on the difference of the absolute temperatures to the 4th power.

      • M Courtney
        May 15, 2015 at 1:24 am
        “Yes, and he fact that the world is spinning that way.”
        Wait, Earth is rotating towards the East, but we have winds from the West, bringing warmth from the ocean on the Western coasts. So that’s not the reason.

      • johnmarshall, if more heat is concentrated in one place by water flowing together (for whatever reason) it will cool faster than if the heat is spread out – it seemed to me.
        The temperature difference is greater when the heat is concentrated so it should cool faster.
        DirkH – you are of course right. Like the Sun rising in the East I can see I am wrong.
        I was stupidly leaping to conclusions there, without bothering to think about it properly.
        It seems the air moves faster than the land rotates beneath it.

    • Warm Japan current takes heat to near Alaska, some radiates but some makes storms that come down to California. During dry intervals, we get decending warming air from Hadley cell activity, while the East gets wet gulf of Mexico air. During winter the East gets giant cold blobs (polar air masses) from Canada sliding down the Rockies that block them from California most of the time.
      Net net is the west has dry heat, so warmer, and wet cold, also warmer than frozen Canadian air and snow.

      • Thanks AnonyMoose, that diagram is quite helpful. In fact what is probably more important is similar rotating patterns in ocean currents which are there for the same reason : the Coriolis circulation.
        There are persistent ocean gyres in all the major ocean basins. They turn in opposite directions in each hemisphere so act in unison at the equator, as we see here with the wind diagram.
        This is an excellent post by Willis and a very good way to demonstrate the functioning and importance of ocean currents, however he is misreading this as being Nino / Nina “pump”.
        Even without ENSO the ocean gyres would transport heat in this way. Indeed the most important deviation from the simple model is shown to be the gulf stream which is in the Atlantic and not driven by ENSO. The importance of the gulf stream to the climate of Europe has been understood for a long time. Without it Halifax in West Yorkshire (UK) would be as cold as Halifax, Nova Scotia.
        It becomes clear from Willis’ maps that variations in ocean currents will make significant changes to surface temperatures and we have very little data or understanding of the variability in ocean currents.
        This is point that Judith Curry has been making repeatedly.

      • It’s also interesting to note the cooling effect of vegetation. The tropical regions of Africa and S. Am are a couple of degrees cooler.
        This is well known to those who work in thermal imaging. Vegetation is generally about 2-3 deg C cooler than its surroundings, due mainly to transpiration in the leaves which causes evaporative cooling.

      • Mike May 15, 2015 at 11:08 pm

        Thanks AnonyMoose, that diagram is quite helpful. In fact what is probably more important is similar rotating patterns in ocean currents which are there for the same reason : the Coriolis circulation.
        There are persistent ocean gyres in all the major ocean basins. They turn in opposite directions in each hemisphere so act in unison at the equator, as we see here with the wind diagram.
        This is an excellent post by Willis and a very good way to demonstrate the functioning and importance of ocean currents, however he is misreading this as being Nino / Nina “pump”.
        Even without ENSO the ocean gyres would transport heat in this way. Indeed the most important deviation from the simple model is shown to be the gulf stream which is in the Atlantic and not driven by ENSO.

        Thanks, Mike. You are correct that the trade winds also pump the warm surface water via the wind-driven ocean gyres to the poles, as is true with the Gulf Stream.
        However, they are very different kinds of pumps. The trade winds function relatively continuously in the Atlantic. But the El Nino/La Nina pump in the Pacific is more like a piston pump, with an intake stroke and a power stroke.
        During the intake stroke, warm water piles up on the surface of the eastern Pacific. During the power stroke, the winds pump the warm surface waters westward, and then they split and move polewards as shown in Figure 4. The surface of the ocean is physically hollowed out when the water is pumped away. Here’s an image from my post, The TAO of El Nino.
        http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/nino-nina-tao-triton-temp-and-dynamic-height.jpg
        ORIGINAL CAPTION: Figure 1. 3D section of the Pacific Ocean looking westward alone the equator. Each 3D section covers the area eight degrees north and south of the equator, from 137° East (far end) to 95° West (near end), and down to 500 metres depth. Click on image for larger size.
        The critical point is that the El Nino/La Nina pump is an emergent phenomenon, one which (as you point out) doesn’t exist in the Atlantic. And as is usual with emergent climate phenomena, the emergence is related to exceeding some kind of temperature threshold. The Nino Pump cycle is a RESPONSE to high temperatures, and the response is to pump a single large bolus of warm water to the poles. This is quite different from the ongoing, relatively steady Gulf Stream transport.
        Anyhow, that’s why I call it a pump.
        My best to you,
        w.

    • A similar situation as observed on the western side of the US, can also be observed on the western side of the Himalayas. Although it is way to small to see, I imagine that if we magnified Hawaii we would see a similar phenomenon occurring where Mauna Loa prevents energy transport over the volcano because water vapor heavy clouds crash into the mountain.

    • Mediterranean climates is the likely reason. Being on the east side of the ocean gyre causes dry conditions, and the excess heat is escaping in the places where it’s dry air.
      All this all makes a lot of sense to me, because the radiational heat loss at night, in deserts, and in the Arctic is not maxed out, so the more heat there is in the tropics, the more will be transported to dry regions via Hadley cells and ocean currents, and to polar regions, where it can easily radiate away.

    • Simpler than that – the prevailing wind everywhere in the world is from the west because of the earth’s rotation. The western fringes of the continents are warmed by winds blowing off the adjacent ocean which raises the land temperature at night.

      • the prevailing wind everywhere in the world is from the west because of the earth’s rotation.
        ____
        Ideally the atmosphere should not ‘rotate’ but stand static over the surface – no friction against atmosphereless open end.
        So surface+atmosphere rotate to the sun, and westerly atmosphere is cooled during whole nighttime flowing east to replace sunheated ascending air.
        Regards – Hans

        • ” westerly atmosphere is cooled during whole nighttime flowing east to replace sunheated ascending air.”
          I have found that for “non-weather” days, that frequently have a small breeze during the sunny day , at night the air usually stops moving.
          It was something I hadn’t realized happens until I got my ownweather station.

        • ” westerly atmosphere is cooled during whole nighttime flowing east to replace sunheated ascending air.”
          I have found that for “non-weather” days, that frequently have a small breeze during the sunny day , at night the air usually stops moving.
          It was something I hadn’t realized happens until I got my ownweather station.

      • and coriolis is here the minor effect since the deeps and highs flow IN the westerly portion to the warmth under the sun.
        Regards – Hans

  4. Willis
    “I found this most fascinating, as it shows the great oceanic heat transport systems that move the energy from the tropics, where there is an excess, to the poles where it is radiated to space. I was surprised to see that the warmest location compared to expectations is the area above Scandinavia. This has to be a result of the Gulf Stream current which is also quite visible along the edge of the East Coast of North America.”
    //////////////////////
    I have pointed that out to you a number of times when discussing radiating the oceans and explaining why the oceans will not freeze even absence DWLWIR.
    There is tons of solar energy (an excess) going into the equitorial and tropical ocean which means that those oceans will not freeze even absence DWLWIR. The excess energy is carried polewards on the oceanic currents explaining the different seasonal freezing patterns at high latitudes.
    I have pointed out to you the different freezing patterns of same latitude oceans such as around iceland and in the Baltic, and in the inland seas (such as the Sea Azov) and have told you that each area of the globe has a different energy profil because of the manner in which energy absorbed in the equitorial and tropical regions is pumped and distributed around the globe.
    However, unfortunately, you were not prepared back then to look at the points that I raised (essentially just repeating the mantra of the grosss radiative energy budget). It is good to see that you are now addressing how the planet works in real world conditions.
    Your series of Ceres posts have all been of interest, although I am far from convinced that there is not some data fudging/yet to be fully explained adjustments under pinning some of the data.

    • “you can draw such conclusion from heavily massaged data”
      Conclusion? To me, it was more of a curious observation. One that I found it rather interesting, thanks.
      Massaged data? To me it appeared to be straight forward math, using all of the available data, applied over the entire area. IF that’s “heavily massaged data”, you’ll likely be horrified at other’s data tortures, no?

      • Paul, I believe Goldie is claiming that the CERES data is “massaged”, not that Willis was the masseur.

    • It all depends on what you are trying to prove and how strongly you are trying to prove it.
      Saying “I curve fitted some basic parameters and got a wonderful agreement that fits our knowledge of the ocean dynamics, cool” requires quite a bit less rigor than “My model proves we will die if you don’t give me a billion dollars”.
      The only scientific conclusion I can draw from this is that Sunlight and Elevation are almost certainly strongly defining properties of temperature. Interesting, and it does show where there are discrepancies with the prediction. However, there are enough parameters to fit an elephant, so it’s not perfect.

  5. The other major variable is distance from the sea, which would show up clearly in separate plots for maximum and minimum temperatures, but when looking at the MEAN temperature it appears that there is partial cancellation, e.g. between cooler summer days and warmer winter nights.

  6. Thanks Willis, a great illustration of the climate heat engine at work.
    Regarding your question… “For example, why are the western parts of the northern hemisphere continents warmer than the eastern parts?”
    Seems to be less precipitable water and therefore fewer clouds on the western edge of these continents This is a paradox, as the air has traveled across vast oceans and should be saturated when it arrives at the coast. Always another question where climate is concerned.

    • “Seems to be less precipitable water and therefore fewer clouds on the western edge of these continents”
      Absolutely not. The western edge of Eurasia north of the subtropical high pressure zone is very wet and so is NW North America. Ever visited western Ireland, Bergen, Norway, the west side of the Olympics or Vancouver Island? The reason the western side of the continents are warmer is that warm air (and water) moving north over the Atlantic and Pacific are deflected to the right by the Coriolis effect, which is the reason for the predominately western winds in the northern temperate zone.
      Note that the “Warm zone” in Eurasia is much wider than in North America because of the absence of a great N-S mountain chain like the Rockies which “wrings out” the water (and most of the latent heat) from the westerlies.

  7. Maurice Ewing, a man who knew a thing or two about the oceans, was firmly convinced that reduced Arctic ice cover rapidly led to a cooling response – as warmer waters were exposed to the Arctic Winter night, where there is an unencumbered radiative pathway to space.

    • When studying possible causes of glaciation aeons ago, my favourite theory was that open arctic waters would cause more snow to fall on northern Canada & Russia as north winds absorbed moisture over the open sea & dropped it as they rose over the land. ( The U.S. the ‘lake effect’ snowfall of the Grest Lakes.)

      • Relatively little snow falls in arctic areas, but stays many months. If more snow fell in winter than melted in summer … Ice Age!
        However, in watching for media reports of greater snowfall with more open arctic waters, I have been ‘disappointed’.

  8. Silly man, don’t you know that the IPCC has proclaimed that the Earth’s surface temperature is due to the incoming Sun’s radiation and the back-radiation from greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Therefore elevation is irrelevant, every part of the surface along a given latitude receives the same radiation from the Sun and is under the same atmosphere containing the same amount of greenhouse gases so the temperature is always the same along a given latitude. What’s more the IPCC has a world-wide scientific consensus on the proclamation. Things like elevation, gas density, the force of gravity and the old misguided Gas Laws are just so old fashion and out of date. Hadn’t you noticed that there is not any snow on a mountain top unless there is snow everywhere at that latitude?
    The back-radiation arises from photons generated at the Sun-warmed surface being absorbed at selected energy/wavelength levels and re-emitted back to Earth by the greenhouse gases to cause the Earth’s temperature to increase. As a result of this fascinating effect, the whole of the Universe is increasing in temperature and we will soon all be fried. This is because everything emits radiation in accordance with its temperature so every body in the Universe be it mouse or man is getting hotter and hotter from this radiation.
    Hot bodies give off radiation which raise the temperature of the surrounding colder bodies. The increased temperature causes an increase if the radiation from the surrounding colder bodies which back-radiates to the hot source thereby making it hotter still. The hotter bodies cannot tell from whence the back-radiation arose, that is, they cannot differentiate between greenhouse gases and any other cool source so everything in the Universe is receiving back-radiation from everything else and thus is getting hotter. It must be so as it is the primary cause for the IPCC urgently pressing us to shut down our coal-fired power stations and this will soon be all settled at the Paris Conference of the UNFCCC later this year.
    Isn’t it great to know that the UN is so caring about our welfare!

    • Applause! And kudos for leaving out a “Sarc” tag at the end, if people don’t spot the sarcasm by themselves they really don’t deserve to have it pointed out to them.

  9. Willis
    The K & T energy budget cartoon is (for want of a better description) junk.
    It is precisely because the planet is not some homogenised average that we have the various and different climatic regions/zones and why we have weather.
    If the planet was as set out in that cartoon (bathed 24/7 with diluted sunlight), we would not have the weather that we see. It is the spinning globe, the oceanic heat pump (absorbing solar in the equitorial and tropical regions) and distributing excess energy polewards (and some downwards to oceanic depth), the differences in albedo and temperature between the icy poles and the equitorial/tropical regions setting up the thermohaline circulation (enabling fresh water to melt at the poles), the difffering topography of the land (think of the monsoon) etc. that leads to the climate on planet earth behaving as it does.
    The real key is that the planet is a water world since this not only enables an extremely effective heat pump to be driven, but the phase change of water is a major driver of energy distribution in 3 dimensions.
    As you know, the eqitorial and tropical oceans are the key to your thunderstorm control knob.
    It is the study and understanding of the oceans (which materially is also a selective surface/medium largely opague to LWIR and which unlike the land evaporates and in so doing changes the latent heat content) which is the key to understanding Earth’s climate.
    The land based thermometer record could and should be dumped. The only problem is that pre ARGO all ocean temp records/measurements are junk, and ARGO is a short series and lacks spatial coverage. But going forward only ARGO and satellite data is material; the land based thermometer record having now become too horribly bastardised and corrupted by endless adjustments, station drop outs etc and being pushed well beyond the limits for which it was designed (and it does not even measure the correct measurement, ie., energy, merely a proxy for energy which is reliant upon an untested assumption that RH remains constant).
    Keep up the good work with your interesting articles that are always worth reading and always thought provoking.

  10. I am a great admirer of Willis Eschenbach and his independent thinking. I read all his climate change submissions. I wish he would now focus on the so-called homogenization carried out on the surface temperature records that Goddard/Heller spends a lot of time on and even Lord Monckton is now referring to extensively here
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/05/14/in-the-climate-debate-hear-both-sides/
    in his rebuke of Rob Varley’s one sided article.
    I am still waiting for Senator Inhofe to commence the Senate’s investigation into this global warming phenomenon to assess the split of 0.8C between natural, CO2 and Man made global warming (homogenization). To me this is the global warming key issue now in view of Paris. Everything else pales into insignificance. If the Australian investigation combined with GWPF review and upcoming (hopefully) US Senate investigation all show that part of the paltry 0.8C increase is adjustment based, life will be more difficult for the Paris agitators for UN control of the World economy.

  11. Always refreshing Willis. Your actual scientific enquiry, clearly based on ‘I wonder what if…’ with number crunching analysis and explained in the usual comprehensible vernacular, in the common tongue not to mention for the common mind. Not a whiff of ‘science communication’ (!) and we get to sit at the coal face and see the results. Its so… normal, so sciency.
    Beats the hell out of some other schtuff that I hear about from other sources…..

  12. I’m a little confused Willis, with figures 1 and 2. Are these the averages at midday? Or are they based on a 24 hour cycle? The colours don’t have a high resolution between 15c and 34c

    • Good question, Alex.Those are the average temperatures reported by CERES of all of the measurements made during the month.
      w.

  13. Interesting read. Thank you.
    Questions: How did you code the interaction term? e.g. (sunvec – meansunvec)*(elevc – meanelevc)? What is its associated incremental R^2? How much of the interaction is due to the fact that the ocean surface is always at sea level and all of the high elevations are on land? And, is the pos effect of insolation greater at high elevations or low elevations?
    How did you address the spatial auto-correlation of the residuals? It’s surely non-stationary given the mountain ranges and well-documented air and water flows.
    With SH and NH as different as they are, and with all of the documented currents of air and water, I am surprised at the high R^2. But it fits with what I have read elsewhere, namely almost all of the energy flow from the surface is straight up and out to space. Or, what is transported horizontally has little effect on surface temperature after the transport.
    If the coriolis effect explains the difference between the (residuals of) eastern and western edges of the northern hemisphere continents (you didn’t say it is, but it is the first obvious possibility), why is there not such an effect in the southern hemisphere?

    • “With SH and NH as different as they are, and with all of the documented currents of air and water, I am surprised at the high R^2. But it fits with what I have read elsewhere, namely almost all of the energy flow from the surface is straight up and out to space. Or, what is transported horizontally has little effect on surface temperature after the transport.”
      Weather is just climate advected from adjacent locations

  14. I just noticed this: (Intercept) -4.052e+01 7.122e-02 -568.9 <2e-16 ***
    How did you code the main effects, as well as the interaction? How is the intercept ~ -41C?

    • matthewrmarler May 15, 2015 at 2:07 am says:

      Interesting read. Thank you.

      Thanks, Matthew, good to hear from you..
      Questions: How did you code the interaction term? e.g. (sunvec – meansunvec)*(elevc – meanelevc)? What is its associated incremental R^2?
      Not sure what you mean by that.

      How much of the interaction is due to the fact that the ocean surface is always at sea level and all of the high elevations are on land?

      I tried estimating land and ocean separately. Didn’t make much difference.

      And, is the pos effect of insolation greater at high elevations or low elevations?

      Hard to tell, I didn’t do the analysis.

      How did you address the spatial auto-correlation of the residuals? It’s surely non-stationary given the mountain ranges and well-documented air and water flows.

      Not sure why that would be a problem.

      With SH and NH as different as they are, and with all of the documented currents of air and water, I am surprised at the high R^2. But it fits with what I have read elsewhere, namely almost all of the energy flow from the surface is straight up and out to space. Or, what is transported horizontally has little effect on surface temperature after the transport.

      I was also surprised by the high R^2.

      If the coriolis effect explains the difference between the (residuals of) eastern and western edges of the northern hemisphere continents (you didn’t say it is, but it is the first obvious possibility), why is there not such an effect in the southern hemisphere?

      Indeed, that was my question, and why I asked about the northern hemisphere.
      You also say:
      matthewrmarler May 15, 2015 at 2:13 am
      I just noticed this: (Intercept) -4.052e+01 7.122e-02 -568.9 <2e-16 ***

      How did you code the main effects, as well as the interaction? How is the intercept ~ -41C?

      The intercept is -41°C presumably because that is the best fit for what happens with zero sun and zero elevation. The R code that generated the results shown in the head post was:
      lm(tempvec~sunvec*elvec, weights=as.vector(latmatrix))
      This creates a linear model using the area-weighted values for the solar energy and the elevation.
      Regards,
      w.

      • And, is the pos effect of insolation greater at high elevations or low elevations?
        Hard to tell, I didn’t do the analysis.
        But you do have the interaction. What does it mean?

  15. I’d be interested to see the calculation converting latitude to sunlight, and how it incorporates the Earth’s 23.5 degree tilt.

    • Since we’re looking at long-term averages the 23.5° tilt averages out and is not an issue.
      w.

      • It doesn’t average out at all. If the tilt was 90 degrees then all parts of the Earth would receive the same sunlight in the course of a year. If the tilt was 0, then the points of the poles would receive zero total sunlight. The existing tilt of 23.5 degrees is an intermediate state to those, so must be included in any conversion algorithm. Perhaps you instead got the sunlight from somewhere else.

      • NZ Willy May 15, 2015 at 1:05 pm

        It doesn’t average out at all. If the tilt was 90 degrees then all parts of the Earth would receive the same sunlight in the course of a year. If the tilt was 0, then the points of the poles would receive zero total sunlight. The existing tilt of 23.5 degrees is an intermediate state to those, so must be included in any conversion algorithm. Perhaps you instead got the sunlight from somewhere else.

        Ah. I think I see what you mean. I’m sorry for my misunderstanding.
        The key to the puzzle is that there is no “calculation converting latitude to sunlight”. Instead, I used the solar data from the CERES satellite, which gives monthly gridcell by gridcell values for the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) insolation.
        w.

  16. Thanks Willis, interesting read. “The beauty of climate is that there are always more puzzles to be solved and oddities to be pondered. For example, why are the western parts of the northern hemisphere continents warmer than the eastern parts?” Could it be that in general the winds are blowing from the West over open oceans; when they hit land (elevation) condensing water (sea climate) dissipates heat. Eastern parts tend to be dryer. I am not a climate scientist.

    • It is wetter more north near the warm current terminus, then dryer further south where the Hadley cell air compression heats. Think Seattle rain vs Mojave Desert, or English rain vs Morocco desert Sahara. Not an east west thing, a north south thing plus water vs land.
      Eastern USA is wet due to air flow off the warm gulf of mexico, so again a warm water effect. In winter frozen polar air from the descending stratopheric mass (polar night jet) covers the east USA but the Rockies protect the West coast from that, and we get our wet season from warmer current terminus near Alaska. Same air source in the night jet, but theirs is over frozen land and ours is Japan Current warmed. Look up Polar Night Jet. Then apply that seasonal air mass flow to wind and water flow, with mountain barrier between east and west.
      That is why California is dry half the year, but wet and green in winter.

  17. It’s kind of funny how neither climate nor weather consistently behaves to our expectations. Kind of like life.
    That’s a good thing, how boring otherwise.

  18. The impact of the ocean circulation patterns is clear.
    The ENSO has a huge impact on the climate in different regions and, of course, these will be accentuated depending on whether there is a La Niña or El Niño. The parts of the world which are most impacted by the ENSO conditions also shows up such as Indonesia/Australia and the western coast of North America. There would also be a Southern Hemisphere impacted region as well except it is just centred on the South Pacific where almost no one lives.
    Gulf Stream impact is clear enough as well. Some interesting impacts next to Antarctica which require some thought.
    Now take these basic principles and rearrange all the continents as in continental drift through history. Put Pangea right at the equator where the Atlantic is today and make the Pacific twice as big and everything is different. Put North America and Europe together and close off the Gulf Stream flow at 45N and close off the Arctic ocean as in 60 million years ago and everything is different.

  19. I disproved Mr Mosher’s silly claim at the time, you can get as much as 10 to 15 degrees C difference at the same lat and elevation.

    • “Disproved Mr Mosher’s silly claim”? Say what? The R^2 using solely latitude and elevation to estimate average temperature is 0.94, with a p-value less than 2E-16. There’s a technical term for that in climate science. It’s called a “pretty good model”.
      Yes, there are errors up to 15°C … so what? By and large the errors are quite small, with the RMS error of about 5°C. Errors of 15° occur in a whacking 0.8% of the gridcells.
      You are letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.
      w.

  20. Willis, Thanks for another thought provoking article. I liked you figures 1 and 2. You can see the Hadley Circulation and the Horse Latitudes when you compare the two figures. I was surprised that it appears the Hadley circulation actually seems to concentrate heat in the Tropics.

    • The Hadley cells are caused by the heat in the tropics. The tropical heat near the equator is where the primary circulation pattern of the Earth begins.
      The net flow of heat poleward leads to everything else that happens.
      The devil is in the details.

  21. Willis,
    Very interesting.
    Two thoughts occurred to me:
    1. I glanced at the eastern US, and was a bit surprised to see how cool that region is. I realize how much more important the sun is than manufacturing, but I thought industrial production would register. The other region of the world with industrial production is China, and that is equally cool.
    2. As you noted, the warm areas in the difference map highlight ocean transport, such as the Gulf Stream. How difficult would it be to built a second order model, which includes ocean transport of heat, then do the same process to look at the difference, and see what else might be a driver?
    Phil

    • Sunshine is about 1 kW/m^2, Industrial energy is very point source intense, but averaged over even just one degree cell in near nothing. Typical office loads are about 10 W/m^2 then you get to diffuse that over the surrounding empty spaces,,, then diffuse that ovrr the 90%+ non urban around it…

  22. Willis,
    1) It might make sense to do oceans and land separately. 70% of your model is areas where altitude = 0m, which would heavily weight the analysis toward the areas at sea level. Further, nearly 100% of the 0m data is water, so that is a confounding factor here.
    2) Where did you get the ‘sunvec’ values and what exactly is it measuring? Is it …
    a) insolation at the top of atmosphere,
    b) insolation reaching the surface (subtracting the amount absorbed by the atmosphere & reflected by clouds), or
    c) the actual amount absorbed by the surface (additionally factoring in albedo)?
    Each would give a rather different result. (a vs b are shown in this graphic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Insolation.png)
    3) There seems to be some interesting correlations with global cloud cover (no surprise) (http://wegc203116.uni-graz.at/meted/satmet/microwave_topics/overview/media/graphics/cloud_amount.jpg).

    • Actually, I just looked more closely at Figure 2 and it is pretty clear you simply used the top-of-atmosphere insolation. So using actual surface insolation might give a better estimate.
      One interesting note. The relatively cloudless Sahara as warm, but the relatively cloudy patch north of Scandinavia is also warm. There are some other patterns for which I can also come up with some plausible explanations, but I think I will leave it to others to ponder these for a bit.

  23. W.,
    Can you describe your formula and explain the reasoning? Some of us don’t speak R and I don’t see why you chose an elevation x sunshine term. Was it just to get another configuration parameter or something more interesting?

    • The elevation*sunshine term is necessary because the lapse rate varies with the temperature, being greater in cold areas. And because I can’t use temperature as a variable, I substituted incoming sunshine to serve as a proxy. This seemed to work quite well, bringing estimated mountain temperature to within close tolerances.
      The final equation, as I mentioned in the end notes, is
      Estimated Temperature = a * sunlight + b * elevation + c * sunlight * elevation + m
      where a, b, c, and m are fitted constants.
      w.

      • “The elevation*sunshine term is necessary because the lapse rate varies with the temperature, being greater in cold areas. And because I can’t use temperature as a variable, I substituted incoming sunshine to serve as a proxy. ‘
        SLICK.

      • “And because I can’t use temperature as a variable, I substituted incoming sunshine to serve as a proxy. This seemed to work quite well, ”
        Something bothered me, took me a bit to figure it out, you’ve just replicated the BEST field, CERES Web page says they adjust temp, to better match measurements, and if they all do some sort of the same thing, you’re just matching that field with a small residual.
        While that might give a good estimate, I’m not sure it’s right. For instance, my daily temp is set by the jet stream, and can swing 20F from one day to the next. 40 years ago summers were driven by Canadian air,20 years ago it was driven by Gulf of Mexico tropical air. Just a difference in area,cold explain all of the warming, ignoring the large swings in minimum temp due to the topic here, where the warm water is and what’s down wind.

      • micro6500 May 15, 2015 at 10:21 pm Edit

        “And because I can’t use temperature as a variable, I substituted incoming sunshine to serve as a proxy. This seemed to work quite well, ”

        Something bothered me, took me a bit to figure it out, you’ve just replicated the BEST field, CERES Web page says they adjust temp, to better match measurements, and if they all do some sort of the same thing, you’re just matching that field with a small residual.

        As I understand it, the “BEST field” uses latitude and elevation to create their estimate. Instead of latitude I used solar energy, a totally different variable. So I fail to see how I’ve “just replicated the BEST field” as you claim.

        While that might give a good estimate, I’m not sure it’s right. For instance, my daily temp is set by the jet stream, and can swing 20F from one day to the next. 40 years ago summers were driven by Canadian air,20 years ago it was driven by Gulf of Mexico tropical air. Just a difference in area,cold explain all of the warming, ignoring the large swings in minimum temp due to the topic here, where the warm water is and what’s down wind.

        While all of that is indeed true, the reality is that greater than 90% of the variation in temperature is explained by a simple linear regression.
        w.

        • “As I understand it, the “BEST field” uses latitude and elevation to create their estimate. Instead of latitude I used solar energy, a totally different variable. So I fail to see how I’ve “just replicated the BEST field” as you claim”
          They both end up being a function of surface curvature, as that’s what drives the ratio of incoming energy as it applies to temperature.
          “While all of that is indeed true, the reality is that greater than 90% of the variation in temperature is explained by a simple linear regression.”
          That 10% is way, way bigger than the forcing from Co2, it could be all of the increase in temp as defined by series like BEST. they’d never know because they don’t mind infilling with unmeasured values.
          Just a change in the amount of sampling of the areas defined by the path of the jet stream, could be larger that Co2’s impact. And just look at the field in the Arctic, and how over estimated that is due to the small number of stations and their proximity to water.

        • I want to add, I do think that there’s value in this line of thinking, I’ve been working on adding the solar forcing for each surface stations latitude and looking at the response of temp, I just don’t think it tells you anything about the weather field 1,000km away when it isn’t measured.

      • Micro we don’t infill with unknown values.
        We take known values.. Lat and elevation. We take a known relationship between those and temperature and we PREDICT the values for temperature at unsampled locations. Then we test the prediction.

      • Steven Mosher
        Thankyou for your information. I write to ask for a clarification. You say

        Micro we don’t infill with unknown values.
        We take known values.. Lat and elevation. We take a known relationship between those and temperature and we PREDICT the values for temperature at unsampled locations. Then we test the prediction.

        If the locations are “unsampled” then how can you “test the prediction” of a value that is not known?
        Richard

      • Stephen, we’ve discussed this before, yes you do out of band testing, yes you think this confirms your predictions, I on the other hand fell that since I can regularly see a multi degree difference between the airport station 30 miles away verses stations a few miles from my home, it seems unlikely to have high fidelity, let alone how you can predict whether the jet stream is north or south of us if the nearest station was 100 miles away, let alone 1000km away.
        Especially when BEST shows a warming trend, that I’m still skeptical actually exists.

  24. Although this is interesting I don’t see the significance of it. You have taken an observation of a dynamic system and subtracted the static “presumed” baseline. You are simply left with the underlying patterns of the dynamic system highlighted. What else would you expect?

    • um I don’t, may be to see the underlying patterns of the dynamic system highlighted.

    • Kirkc May 15, 2015 at 6:15 am

      Although this is interesting I don’t see the significance of it. You have taken an observation of a dynamic system and subtracted the static “presumed” baseline. You are simply left with the underlying patterns of the dynamic system highlighted. What else would you expect?

      Thanks, Kirk. That’s what I would expect. The surprising part is that you see no value in discovering the unknown details of the dynamic system.
      w.

      • But all the underlying information being revealed is previously known phenomenon. “The desert regions are warmer than non-desert regions.” I guess this could be considered a gem of a discovery and we should never have expected that kind of thing to show up in the raw satellite data…. But I guess that is your point . It’s in there if you can coax it out.
        Willis, I always enjoy your insight, hard work and the passion you reveal in your articles. I may even be one of your biggest fans – I’m just wondering what is the most provocative thing to grab from this bit of work? Some mountain regions don’t meet the “average” factors you have assumed to apply to all mountain systems. Why is that? A valid question..but the answer is why would you assume that elevation is constant for temperature? Or average? As others have pointed out there is a huge variable here. Perhaps the gradient of the slope ( 1x1grid to grid deviation) should be factored into your elevation equation?… And then both the anomaly and question will become moot. Adiabatic maybe….no idea. It’s a slippery slope.
        Best regards,
        Kirk

      • Kirkc May 15, 2015 at 6:09 pm

        But all the underlying information being revealed is previously known phenomenon.

        Absolutely not. If you think so, then please show me the equivalent of Figure 4 from some other source. The way that the heat is moving across the Pacific and pooling in the Gulf of Alaska, for example, is previously unknown to me.
        And if you claim that it is NOT previously unknown to you, then please provide the Figure that you think predates mine.
        It’s easy to denigrate, Kirk. But until you provide something other than just your word, I fear you haven’t demonstrated anything.
        Regards,
        w.

  25. Willis, when I compare visually figures 1 and 2 and then look at figures 3 and 4; I don’t get the same result. Is the color intensity of figure 1 set higher than figure 2?

    • Thanks, John. The color intensity is the same. But since Figs 3/4 are the difference between the estimate and the reality, it is dominated by smaller values, with large and small values being the outliers.
      w.

  26. Yep. Been sayin it and sayin it. But pictures are better than words. I wish I had your acumen for letting data speak instead of words.

  27. This is just common knowledge which is of course the latitude position of the continents, the percentage of land versus oceans, the arrangements of oceans versus land, the average elevation of the land, and the variation of the elevation of the land all play a big role in what kinds of climate the earth may have in response to various forces being applied to it.
    This is a big part of the reason why given forces applied to the climate give a different result.

  28. And how much more can be explained by the fact that valleys will effect the heat gain/loss and/or provide protection from trade winds. For example look at the daily temperature difference between Barbers Point and Kaneohe, HI all summer long.

    • This can be captured by using a high fidelity DEM that gives you areas for cold air drainage and wind sheltering,
      BUT the data requirements are huge

    • the effect of valleys on temperature can be estimated by using a TWI or topographical wetness index.
      The index is built from a DEM. It basically shows you where water can “pool” and can be used to account
      for areas that have cold air drainage or temperature inversions
      http://worldgrids.org/doku.php?id=wiki:twisre3

  29. Interesting that your elevec is -1.9 K /100 meters.. Suggests that there are multiple sets of coeffcients that minimise the residuals.

  30. shows either no clouds up north or data is contaminated with Cowtan and Way models. Clouds rather than currents to explain anomalies

    • CERES temperature product is a cloud free product.
      You’ll find that Cowtan and Way validate against many Sat products. With the recent update to AIRS
      it looks even better

      • Steven Mosher May 15, 2015 at 12:37 pm

        CERES temperature product is a cloud free product.

        Not true as far as I know. Do you have a citation? Thanks.
        w.

      • Steven Mosher May 16, 2015 at 7:37 am

        Willis it should be if you are using their surface temp product.

        Thanks for the clarification, Mosh. Not sure which “surface temp product” you’re referring to. I’m using the CERES Surface EBAF (Energy Balanced And Flled) product. They have two datasets for upwelling surface radiation, named surf_lw_up_all and surf_lw_up_clr. The latter is clear-sky, the former is all-sky. I have converted their dataset surf_lw_up_all dataset to temperature using Stefan-Boltzmann, as I described in my post The CERES Calculated Surface Datasets.
        As a result, it is not a “cloud free product”, because I am using the all-sky dataset.
        Regards,
        w.

  31. My scribbles on a napkin, indicate a much higher percentage of solar insolation per square meter in the tropics and sub tropics than your results mostly based on the angle of incidence. The Tropics and sub tropics get over 80% of the solar insolation.
    In other words your baseline is already biased by the atmospheric heat pumps. But your diagrams do partially show the oceanic heat pump because it isn’t evenly distributed like the atmospheric heat pump.

  32. This is why Willis is a treasure
    His curiosity is peaked by all comers.
    He lets the data take him where ever it leads.
    He loves when he is surprised by something.
    He always leaves the conclusions to others.
    He looks at things from as many angles as he can.
    He is never satisfied that he has the right answer.
    He enjoys being challenged and corrected when someone finds and error because it just gives him something new to play with.
    If only everyone would come at issues like Willis does, the world be a better place.

  33. This temperature field test is really cool. R^2 of 0.95 is extremely high, I would never have expected that.
    Interesting how areas with lush life, like rainforests, are cooler than expected (while having more CO2 according to satellites) while areas of the least amount of life like mountains and deserts are warmer. It may be interesting to take this temperature field model and look at how it interacts with the CO2 spacial mapping.

  34. I hate average temperatures. They do far more to obscure than they do to illuminate.
    Here are links to two images. This is of August 23, 1966 from the Nimbus High Resolution Infrared Radiometer data. This is a measure of temperature by measuring infrared energy at 3.5-4.1 microns. This does much more to sustain what Mosher is talking about.
    One of the images is centered on the Indian ocean and exceptionally clearly shows the cooler temperatures of the Himalayas as well as the cold cloud tops of the 1966 Monsoon season. You can clearly see the temperature differentials between land and oceans as well as other altitude and latitude dependencies. You also see in the second image, centered on the pacific, the cold cloud tops and the latitude based temperature differences.
    This is data that my company processed and turned into KML files for the National Snow and Ice Data Center from the Nimbus II HRIR raw data.
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/9xedmi2qqnzveww/forheather.png?dl=0
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/ql07flz1dpwm67j/Screen%20shot%202010-01-20%20at%2010.23.23%20AM.png?dl=0
    The CERES average data looks like crap in comparison.

  35. Willis Great work.
    No errors but just a clarification and an explanation of the significance of what you show.
    “I’ve been mulling over a comment made by Steven Mosher. I don’t have the exact quote, so he’s welcome to correct any errors. As I understood it, he said that much of the variation in temperatures around the planet can be explained by a combination of elevation and latitude. He described this as a “temperature field”, because at any given latitude and elevation it has a corresponding estimated temperature value.”
    Let’s start with the clarification. In the Berkeley Earth approach we decompose the temperature into two components: A deterministic component and a residual.
    We say
    T = C+W
    Where T is the temperature at a location
    and where C is the climate at a location
    and where W is the weather at a location.
    The climate of a location is defined as a function of latitude an elevation. If you know the latitude and elevation and season, you know the monthly average temperature to about 1.6C. In other words the climate at that location is determined by its physical properties. What’s left over when you subtract this climate field from the temperature is the weather. The weather is that portion of the temperature that is not determined by the physical properties of the location.
    One interesting thing that falls out of this is the notion that climate change is in the weather field.
    ( note that some people dont get this
    http://www.hi-izuru.org/wp_blog/2015/04/a-follow-up/)
    Let’s take a little time to understand the regression and this different conception of climate. Willis and I both like Geiger’s book climate near the ground. In that book Gieger discusses how the physical properties near the ground determine the temperature. So when we discuss the climate we are talking about this definition of climate. The next thing to notice is that willis adds some variables to his regression. That’s good work.
    In the Berkeley system we only use latitude and elevation and we get an R^2 of .93. It’s pretty clear to anyone who has studied temperature that there are other physical properties left of out our regression:
    a) distance to coast.
    b) albedo
    c) land class ( crops, trees, urban, bare soil)
    d) local geometry : land aspect, slope, propensity for cold air drainage
    e) insolation
    And folks can add more variables. These additional variables fall into a couple classes: those that can change
    and those that dont change. So land class ( say urban/rural) can change over time, while some of the geometry variables ( like slope ) may not change. And these additional variables have effects at different spatial scales. To the extent that we leave these variables out of our regression they will end up ( as residual) in the weather field. And changes in these variables can be mis attributed to changes in weather.. and thus mis indentified as climate change. The other challenge one has with these other variables is we have no historical record. So I might be able to add albedo to a regression for todays temperature, but I cant do that for 1850, unless I assume that albedo didnt change. The last challenge is that some variables like the DEM variables you could use for slope, aspect and cold air drainage areas require pretty big machines to process.
    There is a trade off then in adding variables to the regression. Work continues most of it painfully slow.
    And now to the larger points. there are couple of mistaken notions that people have about sampling and interpolation (infilling) that Willis’ approach iluminates. Because there is a relationship between temperature and the variables he uses, your sampling requirements drop dramatically. I guess he could take a subsample
    and get the ~same coefficients. So when people argue that we dont have enough stations, they don’t really understand how much of the temperature is actually determined by the location. because so much of the temperature is determined, you dont need a large sample. You only need a sample that is representative, one that has good latitude and good elevation coverage. Willis could probably show this by doing some subsamples. The coefficients wont be exactly the same and residuals and errors will grow, but you’ll get the point about not needing that many samples to reconstruct the field.
    The last point bears on interpolation. people get bent out of shape when folks infill. The complaint is
    “there is no data there” But there IS data there. the regressors are there. So if I have no temperature data at
    lat 60- 70, lon 180- 150, I can estimate it using the regression. I do have data for that region, I have the regressors. So when we infill we are not making up temperature data. we are predicting temperature at unmeasured locations using information ( about lat and elevation) from measured locations. This prediction can be tested. The prediction works.
    summary: minor clarification. lat and elevation determine the climate field. the residual is the weather.
    big point: sampling requirements are less than people generally think and “infilling” is not
    “making up” data. It is using known data, and known physical relationships to predict data
    at unmeasured locations.

    • Mosher
      “big point: sampling requirements are less than people generally think and “infilling” is not
      “making up” data. It is using known data, and known physical relationships to predict data
      at unmeasured locations.”
      If that is the case then why not just predict all of the data points?
      Of course if this did work the models would work too.

      • Bob Boder,
        There is a very basic rule about regressions that scientists learn early on: Regression, when thoughtfully applied, can give very good results when interpolating, but extrapolating a regression quickly gets you in big trouble. Infilling is interpolating; predicting the future is extrapolating.
        Give me accurate global average temperatures for 2020 and 2030, and I will do a decent job of predicting the average global temperature in 2025.

      • Mike M.
        Take last year 2014 and 10,000 BC you give me a decent average for 3993 BC. You don’t have any accurate information about the areas Steve is talking about you only have info on areas he thinks are similar. and your “decent” is plus or minus what? Funny thing about predicted data it only good if its right.
        Steve can’t accurately predict the temperatures out side his doors 10 or 20 days from now be he is sure that his predicted data is accurate because he thinks he knows all of the controlling conditions in an un-sampled area, again if he can do this he should be able predict the temperature any where. what is great about Willis is he will let the data provide the information, Steve creates the data and see what he already expected.

      • “If that is the case then why not just predict all of the data points?
        we can. the regression produces continous fields.
        In our google earth version we did this at a 1km resolution.
        The best DEM is 30 meters, so we could do every 30 meters. Probably take a year to run

      • “Bob Boder,
        There is a very basic rule about regressions that scientists learn early on: Regression, when thoughtfully applied, can give very good results when interpolating, but extrapolating a regression quickly gets you in big trouble. Infilling is interpolating; predicting the future is extrapolating.
        Give me accurate global average temperatures for 2020 and 2030, and I will do a decent job of predicting the average global temperature in 2025.”
        Yup.
        Some of the artifacts we find are at very high altitude. For example predicting the temp in in the Andes
        and the himalyian mountains

      • Mosher
        ““If that is the case then why not just predict all of the data points?
        we can. the regression produces continous fields.
        In our google earth version we did this at a 1km resolution.”
        I’ll bet it was dead nuts on and exactly what you expected. No matter how arrogantly you state a SWAG it is still a SWAG.

      • “I’ll bet it was dead nuts on and exactly what you expected. No matter how arrogantly you state a SWAG it is still a SWAG.”
        no predictions always differ from observations. its called the error of prediction.

      • Mosher
        Berlin and Ottawa. same basic altitude. which is warmer on average in March, which is further North?
        Bonus question pick a point in the pacific ocean with no land for a 1000 miles at the latitude half way between the 2 and predict the average temperature in march and then test against measured data.

      • Mosher
        “no predictions always differ from observations. its called the error of prediction.”
        Sometimes yes and sometimes it just means your predications are wrong.

      • bob, predictions are ALWAYS WRONG. the question is “how wrong”
        That depends on your use case and purpose.

      • Mosher
        “bob, predictions are ALWAYS WRONG. the question is “how wrong”
        That depends on your use case and purpose”
        You are an unmovable rock, someday even you will have to move a little. I just hope you find it enlightening and not maddening.
        Until then I will still read everything you post because you are least never boring.

      • Bob Boder:
        You raise fundamental points whose import is scarcely grasped by would-be climatologists, whose analytic framework does not go beyond simple linear regression. Even there, they mistakenly think that very high computed correlation of prevailing ABSOLUTE temperature levels with ex ante spatial expectations provides any reliable basis for “predicting” the all-important spatio-temporal deviations around those expected, let alone actual, levels. In fact, were they to regress those deviations against the “physically constant climate” expectations, they would find totally insignificant correlation. And if they were to employ genuine time-series analysis methods, they would discover that actual temperature time-series are quite highly area-specific, with regression relationships providing quite useless “predictions” not only for future times, but for the “interpolated” past as well.

    • Steven Mosher, you have written a good set of comments here, of which I’ll select one for special mention:
      Some of the artifacts we find are at very high altitude. For example predicting the temp in in the Andes
      and the himalyian mountains

      Interesting, and a well-chosen example.

      • the other artifacts are in antarctica.
        where it looks like seasonal adabatic winds cause us to assume empirical breaks where there are none.
        there is another interesting case where we fail, but I think zeke is going to write that up as paper.
        in short a very unique and documented land class change that has been mis interpreted as climate change because we dont include land class in the regression.
        Mountainous regions are very hard to get correct because the local terrain ( like north facing and south facing, or terrain aspect) can be every important.
        These regression errors essentially put climate factors into the residual where it is mis interpreted. It can also mess up homogenization.

    • Thanks for the great explanation. Too bad the politics around CO2 emissions are so charged, if they weren’t more people might see how efforts like those help advance the field…

    • Mosher
      That was a very interesting explanation and seems reasonable in all ways.
      So, is the only reason that climate models so greatly overestimate future temperatures, even on short timescales, traceable to their overestimation of the heating value of CO2 and feedbacks?
      If I were modelling climate I would right smartly reduce the assumptions about CO2 until I got a match with known temperatures.

  36. Willis,
    “For example, why are the western parts of the northern hemisphere continents warmer than the eastern parts?”
    In the residual plots (actual – expected) the same is true for western Eurasia vs.eastern Eurasia. Also, it looks like the oceans are generally cooler than expected and the land warmer. My guess is this: Over the ocean evaporation exceeds precipitation and overland the opposite is true. So there is a net transfer of latent heat from the ocean to the land. The effect on the land is strongest in the areas just downwind of the oceans. In the mid-latitudes, that is the west coast.

  37. To an engineer’s eye, Figure 3 resembles a map of the Great Deserts and Rainforests of the World. Is there a relaitve humidity factor at work here?

  38. Hmmmm… fascinating. I don’t think you counted albedo as a variable. This might boost your R^2. It would also be interesting to see if the seasons are all similar, or similar to annual, or do they change throughout the year.

    • Using the albedo values in the CERES dataset, I find the following. First, using just latitude and elevation. I used
      estimated temperature = a * cos(latitude) + b * elevation * c * elevation * latitude + intercept.
      With those I get:

      Residual standard error: 0.2437 on 64796 degrees of freedom
      Multiple R-squared:  0.9527

      Adding albedo to the mix gives a slight improvement:

      Residual standard error: 0.2278 on 64792 degrees of freedom
      Multiple R-squared:  0.9587

      Using net sun [solar * (1-albedo)] in place of albedo gives little change

      Residual standard error: 0.2286 on 64792 degrees of freedom
      Multiple R-squared:  0.9584

      Regards,
      w.

  39. The temperature model seems to overestimate in areas with high relative humidity and underestimate in areas of low relative humidity. Estimating heat index instead of absolute temperature might find an even closer approximation with reality.

  40. The only desert in your difference calculations that does not conform to expected desert temperature levels is the Atacama in Peru. But, the Atacama is the highest desert and its daily temperatures range from around 0-25 degrees C. And there there is that cold Antarctic current running up the west coast of South America.

  41. For AC and others.
    The easiest way for me to wrap my head around this, was this little page
    http://www-das.uwyo.edu/~geerts/cwx/notes/chap16/geo_clim.html
    “It has long been assumed that climate is largely controlled by location or geography. In the sixth century BC, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras recognised the sphericity of the Earth and the dominance of latitude in explaining climate variation (Sanderson 1999). Two centuries later Aristotle expanded on Pythagoras’s foundation and introduced five climate zones, ranging from tropical to northern frigid. It is not coincidental that in the early 20th century German scientist Koeppen also used 5 climate zones in his classification, identified with the letters A-E.
    Koeppen’s classification was developed at a time when it was widely believed, especially in the German scientific arena, that climate, and therefore geography determined flora and fauna, even the physical and behavioural traits of human societies. Obviously such determinism has its limitations, but it highlights the widespread and longstanding belief that location determines climate. More recent work by Geiger (1960) indicates that even the microclimate is largely controlled by the local ‘geographical’ conditions, such as orography and coastlines.
    Given this control one could hypothesise that one can infer the place where given climatic data were obtained. In other words, can we work out the one or more locations where a station may be, even approximately, if we are given its climatic record? This is the key question addressed herein.”

  42. Willis, the warm ocean near Norway is well known as the continuation of the Gulf Stream. If you google the term “Arctic Mediterranean”, you will see discussion of this area.

    • Thanks, Steve. I knew the Gulf Stream ended up there. I didn’t realize just how much warmer it is than we’d expect from first principles.
      Regards,
      w.

  43. Willis,
    Why would the Norwegian Current surprise a sailor such as yourself? It and the Irminger are well known branches of the North Atlantic Current.
    It’s why the Allies could send Lend Lease aid to the USSR via Murmansk.

  44. The short-term average CERES data confirm in considerable detail what has
    been known by professional climatologists for well-nigh a century: the
    global field is very highly correlated with estimates based on latitude and
    elevation alone. That much should be expected from first principles.
    But such a basic relationship of the global temperature field is not the
    matter of essential interest. It is the dynamic spatio-temporal variations
    over much longer time-scales that occupy professional attention.
    Real-world temperature variations are by no means simply the sum of static
    “climate” and “weather” terms. The essence of bona fide climatology lies
    in determining the ACTUAL temperature field, which departs significantly
    from expectations virtually everywhere and whose short-term time-averages
    vary significantly from decade to decade. Little light is shed here upon those
    crucial variations.

    • 1sky1: Great comment. The CERES data set a stage. In a world without the bother of mobile water and winds, they would write the story. But in the real world, things like oceanic currents (swishing along the most incredible material – H20 – that God (or Nature, your choice) – ever invented) start moving that static picture into a tapestry that is both fascinating and changeable. Other things, for example Hadley cells, bringing down dry, and by their descent warming, air brings out other variations that probably change year to year. The system within the constraints of the current disposition of continents and seas, varies with time. Add in a few other potential natural variations, and one gets hot this year, cold the next. So, Mosher et al. have discovered the grand scheme of the earth’s climate. They cannot however, predict next year’s T at a given spot and time within about 10 degrees F, much less that a hundred years from now. If you don’t like the weather, wait a day. If you don’t like the climate, wait a few (ten, hundred?) thousand years. We have a fair handle on our climates. Its just its extremes that make us edgy. And CO2? – plants LOVES IT; otherwise, the more the better.

  45. ///… I note that as we’d expect, the deserts and arid areas of the world like the Sahara, the Namib, and the Australian deserts are warmer than would be otherwise expected. ..///
    Not unexpected at all, Right ?
    ///… Having lost most of its water vapor to condensation and rain in the upward branch of the circulation, the descending air is dry. Low relative humidities are produced as the air is adiabatically warmed due to compression as it descends into a region of higher pressure. The subtropics are relatively free of the convection, or thunderstorms, that are common in the equatorial belt of rising motion. Many of the world’s deserts are located in these subtropical latitudes. …/// http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadley_cell . . .

  46. Given some of the statistical analyses I’ve seen in climate research, the R^2 you got is just amazing (and I mean that in a good way). One question I have is the differences you got in the US from the Rockies to the midwest and east. I’m curious as to whether the zero error line runs along a given altitude. It’s east of the Rockies and it’s hard to make out exactly where it lies. You equation is linear, but could there be a polynomial term or terms? If the differences in the Rockies, for example, were due to Pacific Ocean I would assume that the effect would not extend all the way to the plains, but stop to the west of the Continental divide.

    • The thing to understand is that the warming occurs on the lee side of the mountain range. This is not warm are being “blocked” as a number of commenters mistakenly think.
      Look up Foehn wind, it happens all over the world. In the Rockies it’s called Chinook.
      It is also the reason for the warming on the Antarctic peninsula that Steig et al incompetently managed to mangle into being a continent wide effect.

  47. Has Willis discovered the missing ‘hotspot’. Its on its Scandinavian holidays….. /sarc

  48. We can see the pattern of Willis’ map is a reflection of the persistent ocean currents that are driven primarily by the Coriolis force.
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1f/North_Pacific_Subtropical_Convergence_Zone.jpg
    Also the warm water that gets up around Scotland and Norway has no way out. So this is not just a surface current.
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:North_Atlantic_Gyre.png
    This water becomes more saline and thus denser to evaporation. It then sinks in the Arctic, forming an important part of the thermohaline circulation.
    It is easy to see from all this discussion that long period changes in the magnitude of these ocean currents will lead to warming or cooling “trends” in global averages.

  49. The arid zones (eg much of Autralia, except the humid east and north coasts) show positive temperature anomalies (ref fig 3). It would seem that lower humidity (decreased thermal capacity) has a greater effect increasing temperatures, than does the increased greenhouse effect from higher humidity (increased thermal capacity), as the humid tropics all show negative anomalies.
    There also looks to be a warming Foehn Effect in the mid-latitudes of North and South America.

  50. Steven Mosher May 15, 2015 at 8:59 am

    Willis Great work.

    Thanks, Mosh. And thank you for your long and detailed comment. I’m glad the loquacious Mosh showed up and not the cryptic comment Mosh.

    No errors but just a clarification and an explanation of the significance of what you show.

    “I’ve been mulling over a comment made by Steven Mosher. I don’t have the exact quote, so he’s welcome to correct any errors. As I understood it, he said that much of the variation in temperatures around the planet can be explained by a combination of elevation and latitude. He described this as a “temperature field”, because at any given latitude and elevation it has a corresponding estimated temperature value.”

    Let’s start with the clarification. In the Berkeley Earth approach we decompose the temperature into two components: A deterministic component and a residual.
    We say
    T = C+W
    Where T is the temperature at a location
    and where C is the climate at a location
    and where W is the weather at a location.
    The climate of a location is defined as a function of latitude an elevation. If you know the latitude and elevation and season, you know the monthly average temperature to about 1.6C. In other words the climate at that location is determined by its physical properties. What’s left over when you subtract this climate field from the temperature is the weather. The weather is that portion of the temperature that is not determined by the physical properties of the location.
    One interesting thing that falls out of this is the notion that climate change is in the weather field.
    ( note that some people dont get this
    http://www.hi-izuru.org/wp_blog/2015/04/a-follow-up/)

    I understand your distinction, all but the last part. You say that the climate of a location is what is determined by the physical properties of the location. And weather is the difference between observations and climate.
    The part I don’t understand about this is the comment that “climate change is in the weather field”. Given that T = C + W, for a given T, if C changes (“climate change”) then W has to change as well. Is that what you mean by “climate change is in the weather field”? Or are you saying that C is constant, so any change will be found in the weather field? If so, what evidence do you have that C is constant?
    In the link you provide just above, you say:

    its actually one of the two definitions of climate.
    For example, when you look at Koppen classifications he is talking about one definition of climate–a spatially focused one.That is essentially how we define climate FOR THE PURPOSE of doing our estimate. It’s defined that way by CONSTRUCTION. In this definition of climate , climate is that portion of the weather that is determined by geography. For example, consider the phrase “tropical climate”.
    The other definition of climate is “long term weather average”. It’s become vastly more popular and has its uses like all defintions.
    But folks shouldn’t be too tied to popularity, when other approaches may prove more useful. So we use the alternative spatially focused definition.
    One problem with the time focused version is that “long term” is somewhat arbitrary, if we change the time, the climate changes.
    That leads to nasty fights about the length of time periods. What’s normal for the earth?

    The issue I have is that your “spatially focused” formulation also changes with changing time. For example, we get a good fit with just elevation and latitude in the simplest formula, viz
    temperature = a * cos(latitude) + b * elevation + intercept
    where a, b, and intercept are constants.
    The problem is that if we use different time periods, we get different values for a, b, and intercept. Here’s an example. I divided the CERES data in half and re-calculated the best-fit constants for the first half and the last half of the data.

    > lamod=lm(firsttvec~latvec+elvec,weights=as.vector(latmatrix));round(lamod$coef,3)
    (Intercept)      latvec       elvec
        -31.347      60.712      -0.006
    > lamod=lm(lasttvec~latvec+elvec,weights=as.vector(latmatrix));round(lamod$coef,3)
    (Intercept)      latvec       elvec
        -30.391      59.623      -0.006 

    As you can see, while the rate of change of the temperature with elevation (the lapse rate) is pretty stable, the change in temperature per degree of latitude and the intercept are different between the two periods. Now that difference might just be noise … or as is more likely, the system is not stationary. And if the system is not stationary, then just what is meant by “climate change”?
    In any case, the concept of using a temperature field is a most interesting one, and one which leads to a variety of valuable insights.
    My best to you, and thanks again for your valuable comments.
    w.

    • “As you can see, while the rate of change of the temperature with elevation (the lapse rate) is pretty stable, the change in temperature per degree of latitude and the intercept are different between the two periods. Now that difference might just be noise … or as is more likely, the system is not stationary. And if the system is not stationary, then just what is meant by “climate change”?”
      Exactly. The system isn’t static.

    • “The part I don’t understand about this is the comment that “climate change is in the weather field”. Given that T = C + W, for a given T, if C changes (“climate change”) then W has to change as well. Is that what you mean by “climate change is in the weather field”? Or are you saying that C is constant, so any change will be found in the weather field? If so, what evidence do you have that C is constant?”
      C is constant by construction. latitude and elevation dont change as a function of time. The regression is done to simultaneously remove latitude and elevation and seasonality from the temperature.
      This becomes the “geographic climate” . lets say for example that the lapse rate at a location changes over time. The average lapse rate end up in the climate field, any changes over time ( like those caused by climate change) end up in the weather field. So what you see is that changes in climate ( deviations from
      the geographic climate) end up in the weather field. climate is the thing that doesnt change. Its what you expect.
      Now you can of course divide the data into separate piles based on time and see that the coefs change.
      All you’ve done there is put climate change in different piles.
      I suppose you could use a base period 1950-1980, calculate the geographic climate for that period and then all the climate change from that base period would get tossed into the residual.
      If the question is ‘ is C always constant?” is it constant before 1750 when our data starts?
      A) probably not.
      B) get more data from before 1750 and we can test.
      C) It’s not important since we are are interested in climate change relative to the period of record.

  51. I like the description of T=C+W from Mosher. I am sure it can be developed.
    I can understand how he tries to justify infilling.
    However, if we were to agree that T=C+W and there is a ‘temperature field’ does that not lead towards just one very well placed temperature sensor per continent?
    Seven sensors, perfectly sited and maintained, streaming data to the world?
    You could even have a competition for the location of each sensor (or choice of, if already in place).
    The temperature field will inform us what constant to apply to each sensors output.
    Job done.

    • you can derive the minimum number of stations required. its on the order of 60 perfectly placed stations
      (Shen)
      seven sensors would not work because lapse rate is contingent upon temperature as Willis notes.
      so you need sampling across latitudes. it need not be uniform,
      you need sampling across altitudes— high altitude ( top of everest ect) are lacking..
      ideally you would have sampling from all land classes.. some land classes are collinear with land class and altitude
      ( like permanent ice)
      Suffice it to say when 90+ percent of your variable of interest is determined by lat and elevation you are Nibbling at the edges.
      To give you an example.. I tried to ad albedo to the regression. it was a huge amount of work and R^2 didnt budge . The Errors get spatially re arranged, your local fidelity improves.. but the global answer dont change much. I tried adding terrain slope and aspect ( north facing) Huge amount of processing.. also r^2 didnt move.. but local changes would occur. Im playing with some other things… lots of work and failure.
      In the end the more you add to the regression the fewer adjustments you would see with our method, local values would shift around.. local accuracy would improve… but the global answer simply will not budge.
      The warming you see in the global average is there to stay. better to move on and tackle other questions.
      For technical considerations its fun to improve the local fidelity.. but not of interest to the greater questions of climate science.

      • “The warming you see in the global average is there to stay. better to move on and tackle other questions.”
        Which is why I’ve gone on to look at the annual rate of change, there isn’t a “residual” in the annual change in max temp, but it could reach its limit earlier and stay longer, there is a change in the rate, but it also looks like it could have peaked, and is changing direction, as well as there is a big swing in the “residual” on min temp. How much of these are the BEST trend, and isn’t there more clarification of your output?
        It feels much like deception by leaving important facts out.
        How much is just warm water moving around, since much of the derivative of min temp is not global, it seems like much isn’t from Co2, as well as nightly cooling exceeding prior day’s warming. Either the surface as already reached equalibrium or the warming is from another source( like the oceans).
        And I think cooling >warming is a powerful example of proof that is accessible to everyone.
        BEST, could lead the way to better understanding, but. ……….

  52. Willis I am looking at your figure 4 and see that it averages data from 14 years, The average duration of an ENSO cycle is 4 to 5 years which means that three ENSO cycles have been telescoped into this graph. The El Nino and La Nina phases of ENSO are substantially different but the average shown is basically that of f only the La Nina phase. La Nina, unlike the El Nino phase, is spread out over the ocean and that is what we see. To catch the El Nino phase in action, you should look at the data with at least one year resolution, not 14 years as here.

  53. Willis and Steve: I helped my son regress average temperature data for US cities versus latitude, longitude and elevation and found a remarkable fit using just latitude and elevation. We even got the correct lapse rate. (I can’t tell if Willis did from his post.) The only location which deviated was the Pacific Northwest, which was too warm.
    The regression also allowed me to convert degrees of global warming (a meaningless number to most people) into distance moved south (a more meaningful concept for some). 1 degC of warming in the US is equivalent to moving south 100 miles. AGW usually doesn’t sound so awful when expressed in terms of distance. However, the width of the corn belt in Iowa is about 200 miles. Global warming equivalent to moving 200 miles south certainly will require corn farmer to adapt.

  54. “why are the western parts of the northern hemisphere continents warmer than the eastern parts?”
    Because the land on the eastern side is moving towards the cold night-time temperatures.

    • Because the land on the
      eastern side is moving
      towards the cold night-time
      temperatures.
      ____
      hm, no – in this context every discrete location isn’t east or west, it just ‘rolls’ in 24 h to east, steadily changing its ‘orientation’ to the sun.
      Regards – Hans

    • “why are the western parts of the northern hemisphere
      continents warmer than the
      eastern parts?”
      Because the land on the
      eastern side is moving
      towards the cold night-time
      temperatures.
      ____
      in this context there is no absolute east/west binding.
      Any discrete location is just ‘rolling’ 24 hours to the east, changing its relative position to th sun.
      Regards – Hans

  55. A physics point that someone may be able to help me with:
    The answer will have relevance to the concept of a temperature field as defined by Willis and / or Mosher thus:
    “much of the variation in temperatures around the planet can be explained by a combination of elevation and latitude. He described this as a “temperature field”, because at any given latitude and elevation it has a corresponding estimated temperature value”.
    If a single CO2 molecule is floating in an atmosphere of Nitrogen at a height of, say, 1000 metres, does it ‘see’ the surface below at a temperature of 288k or does it see a lower surface temperature after conduction and convection has taken a slice of the surface kinetic energy out between the surface and its position at 1000 metres?
    or to put it another way:
    Does the radiative flux from surface kinetic energy at 288k actually get received by such a molecule or does it receive a portion of that 288k by radiation and another portion by conduction and convection so that the radiative portion is a lower figure which remains as kinetic energy proportionate to height whereas the rest is from conduction and convection and is in the form of potential energy which is not heat and does not radiate?
    That CO2 molecule will have the same total energy (KE + PE) at both surface and 1000 metres and will be at the same ambient temperature as its Nitrogen surroundings.
    If one then places it at 2000 metres it would presumably receive proportionately less KE from surface radiation and more PE from conduction and convection would it not?
    Does the mass of a radiatively inert atmosphere ‘take out’ a portion of the radiative flux progressively with height by means of conduction and convection?

    • “If a single CO2 molecule is floating in an atmosphere of Nitrogen at a height of, say, 1000 metres, does it ‘see’ the surface below at a temperature of 288k or does it see a lower surface temperature after conduction and convection has taken a slice of the surface kinetic energy out between the surface and its position at 1000 metres?”
      In dry nitrogen, it should only see the surface, but at that BB temp, it will most likely only see the 15u wavelength, there will be some probably of a capture. At 2000m the 15u flux will be lower, so the probability will decrease for any single photon. But as long as the flux is high enough, and it’s not already captured a photon or has given the captured energy to another atom, it will quickly capture another 15u photon.
      It will always have the possibility of exchanging KE, with nearby nitrogen atoms (molecules ?).

      • Yes, I can see that the CO2 molecule would adsorb radiation at 15u since that is the missing wavelength at the top of the atmosphere when CO2 is present.
        The question is whether it would absorb an amount of 15u commensurate with a surface temperature of 288k or whether it would receive it at 278k which is the ambient temperature at 1000 metres due to the Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate slope reducing temperature by 10K per 1000 metres.
        The Nitrogen at the surface achieves 288k purely by conduction from the surface yet is 278k at 1000 metres as a result of upward convection causing decompression.
        If the CO2 molecule is also 278k at 1000 metres it is presumably getting that kinetic energy from the surface but the internal energy of the molecule (KE + PE) is the same as the Nitrogen i.e. KE of 278k and PE of 10k.
        So at 1000 metres one has KE of 278k and PE of 10k for both CO2 and Nitrogen.
        At 2000 metres one has KE of 268K and PE of 20K and so on.
        So one could argue that the CO2 molecule at 1000 metres is only seeing 15u emanating from the surface at a temperature of 278k and not 288k. At 2000 metres it would be 268k.
        It seems that the CO2 molecule sees a reducing radiation flux proportionate to its height and at top of atmosphere it would be down to 255K.
        The explanation would seem to be that conduction and convection takes out a proportion of the radiative flux related to height. It would do so at all wavelengths emitted from the surface, not just at 15u. Thus only 255k escapes to space after conduction and convection have taken a bite out of the radiative flux from the surface.
        The ultimate fate of the 15u absorbed by the CO2 molecule is a separate issue.
        Does conduction and convection reduce the radiative flux from surface to top of atmosphere or doesn’t it?

        • At those surface temps, it mostly sees only 15u (as the flux is pretty large ) but 15u has the equivalent temp of ~193K, Co2 also has an absorption band at iirc 4u, which is like 600 or 800F, so there little flux at 288K.
          It’s all about absorption and flux.

      • So for a CO2 molecule at 1000 metres how much of its kinetic energy (commensurate with a temperature of 278k) comes from radiative absorption from the surface at 288K and how much comes from conduction and convection?
        One assumes the potential energy content is all a matter of conduction and convection so what I wish to know is why it only acquires 278k of kinetic energy if it is receiving radiation from a surface at 288K.
        Does it see a surface at 288k or at 278k? If the former then why is it only at 278k?

      • If a CO2 molecule is 278k 1000 metres above a surface at 288k why is it colder than the surface which is radiating towards it at 288k?
        What happens to that 10k of IR between surface and molecule?

        • Co2 doesn’t notice or care about the difference in IR. If there is a difference in temp it’s due to KE exchange with the nitrogen.

      • Well yes, but that is my point.
        The tmperature decline is caused by KE exchange with Nitrogen between surface and 1000 metres.
        That KE exchange is conduction.
        So conduction takes out 10K of IR flux betweeen surface and 1000 metres.
        The CO2 molecule is heated to only 278k by radiation from the surface at 288k.
        The other 10k has been processed by conduction and convective uplift and is still present in the molecule but as potential energy which is not heat and does not radiate.
        Mass does block the IR flux via conductive absorption and subsequent convection.
        It is therefore mass which reduces the IR flow to space to 255k from a surface at 288k and not back radiation.

        • “The CO2 molecule is heated to only 278k by radiation from the surface at 288k.
          The other 10k has been processed by conduction and convective uplift and is still present in the molecule but as potential energy which is not heat and does not radiate.
          Mass does block the IR flux via conductive absorption and subsequent convection.
          It is therefore mass which reduces the IR flow to space to 255k from a surface at 288k and not back radiation.”
          Maybe I don’t understand you, but if I do, no.
          A single CO2 molecule can capture a 15u photon, and either through a collision with the nitrogen give some of that KE away, or it can emit a 15u photon giving that energy away.
          It can also through a collisions be whatever temp the nitrogen is, and it should still be able to capture and then emit a 15u photon in any direction. An antenna can capture a specific wavelength photon, and can be at various temperatures, I think they are totally separate processes. In Co2 there is likely some possibly of the energy getting converted to heat or being emitted, but I would suspect that it works both ways, ie KE can also be captured then emitted as a 15u photon, if it has the correct bending motion.

      • micro said:
        “A single CO2 molecule can capture a 15u photon, and either through a collision with the nitrogen give some of that KE away, or it can emit a 15u photon giving that energy away.
        It can also through a collisions be whatever temp the nitrogen is, and it should still be able to capture and then emit a 15u photon in any direction”
        Well I’m glad you said it can EITHER lose it by collision OR by emitting a photon. Most contributors here seem to think it can do both with the same package of energy at one and the same time.
        The single absorbing CO2 molecule can also do something else.
        If it is already at the temperature of adjacent Nitrogen (as would be the normal case) and then absorbs a 15u photon from below then it will be too warm for its temperature along the lapse rate slope and will rise upward with the surplus energy converting to PE which cannot radiate or conduct away.
        Have a look at the concept of hydrostatic balance within an atmosphere which is the point where the upward pressure gradient force exactly offsets the downward gravitational force.
        If one adds that photon then the pressure gradient force becomes larger than the gravitational force and the molecule must rise.
        Since the extra photon becomes PE it effectively disappears from sensor view, circulates through the convective overturning cycle and then reappears as KE again at the bottom of the nearest descending column.
        In rising it enhanced convective ascent from within the atmosphere, not from the surface so it cools the surface a fraction and then rewarms the surface again when it appears at the other end of the convective cycle.
        Since it is rewarming a cooled surface it is no longer 15u but gets converted to another wavelength by the surface so that it can then escape through the atmospheric window.
        What you end up with is the surface at the same temperature as before but a bit more PE was within the convective cycle whilst the energy derived from the 15u photon ran through the system and was converted to a wavelength that could escape.
        The convective cycle deals with the CO2 absorption of 15u so that it does not affect temperatures and can escape to space from a different wavelength.

        • The convective cycle deals with the CO2 absorption of 15u so that it does not affect temperatures and can escape to space from a different wavelength.

          I think, once it’s lost some of the flexing mode energy that is from the captured 15u, it doesn’t have anyway to emit a photon at a different wavelength, and would only lose it from collisions with other molecules. Now that energy can warm some air, which can warm the ground (or interact with a water molecule), and from there can be radiated back to space at a different wavelength, but other wise i think it’s effectively trapped.

      • Stephen Wilde
        You say of a CO2 molecule that absorbs a 15u photon

        If it is already at the temperature of adjacent Nitrogen (as would be the normal case) and then absorbs a 15u photon from below then it will be too warm for its temperature along the lapse rate slope and will rise upward with the surplus energy converting to PE which cannot radiate or conduct away.

        Sorry, that is wrong on at least three counts.
        Firstly, an individual molecule does not have a temperature because temperature is a bulk effect of all the molecules in a volume of gas. The temperature of the volume is proportional to the RMS speed of all the molecules in the volume.
        Secondly, the molecular absorbtion of photons of a gas volume does not change the temperature of the volume. The absorbed energy is internal to individual molecules: the absorbtion of a photon by a molecule alters the vibrational or rotational state of the molecule but not its speed.
        Thirdly, the excited CO2 molecules in a volume of gas will not float up because the absorbtion of photons does not affect the temperature of the volume.
        There is a needed caveat to the three above facts. Collisional de-excitation can provide the excitation energy of a CO2 molecule to e.g. a nitrogen molecule which it contacts. This will increase the speed of the nitrogen molecule and, therefore, collisions can warm the non-GHG molecules of a volume. Near the Earth’s surface almost all the de-excitation of CO2 molecules will be by collisions.
        Richard

        • richardscourtney

          Firstly, an individual molecule does not have a temperature because temperature is a bulk effect of all the molecules in a volume of gas. The temperature of the volume is proportional to the RMS speed of all the molecules in the volume.

          While I know this is controversial, a single atom can have the same KE the same atom would have at temp x, it would seem to me that one could say that single atom has a “temp” of x.

          There is a needed caveat to the three above facts. Collisional de-excitation can provide the excitation energy of a CO2 molecule to e.g. a nitrogen molecule which it contacts. This will increase the speed of the nitrogen molecule and, therefore, collisions can warm the non-GHG molecules of a volume. Near the Earth’s surface almost all the de-excitation of CO2 molecules will be by collisions.

          This is the exception to that applies to the conversation, I don’t know what the percentage of which effect the specific atom will lose it’s energy from, maybe it’s a fraction of a percent, maybe it’s most of the Co2 depending on the pressure, actually the pressure broadening is likely the molecule losing(gaining) a bit of energy due to collision, yet still having enough energy to emit at ~15u.

      • Richard, I appreciate your effort to improve my terminology but I’m not sure that te points you make detract from what I am suggesting
        Firstly, I only referred to a single molecule in order to try and simplify the concept. In reality there will be lots of CO2 molecules absorbing 15u, passing it on by collisions and generally accelerating upward convection as I proposed.
        Secondly, changing the vibrational or rotational state can upset hydrostatice balance in order to force a change in height.
        Thirdly, enough excited CO2 molecules will pass sufficient collisional energy on to enhance convection.
        Thus micro’s point is correct. I am indeed applying the situation covered by your caveat.

      • micro said:
        “I think, once it’s lost some of the flexing mode energy that is from the captured 15u, it doesn’t have anyway to emit a photon at a different wavelength, and would only lose it from collisions with other molecules. Now that energy can warm some air, which can warm the ground (or interact with a water molecule), and from there can be radiated back to space at a different wavelength, but other wise i think it’s effectively trapped”
        You haven’t followed through the sequence of events I gave you.
        It causes enhanced uplift which converts the former 15u into potential energy.
        That potential energy cycles up and then down the convective cycle to return to the surface as KE. The surface then radiates at a range of wavelengths so that most if not all can escape to space.
        The speed of convective overturning rises until the amount escaping from the surface via the atmospheric window exactly matches the 15u absorbed by the CO2.

        • You haven’t followed through the sequence of events I gave you.
          It causes enhanced uplift which converts the former 15u into potential energy.
          That potential energy cycles up and then down the convective cycle to return to the surface as KE.

          I have no real issue with this, I just didn’t describe this part of the process 🙂

  56. “why are the western parts of the northern hemisphere continents warmer than the eastern parts?”
    Down to observed ocean currents in the northern hemisphere, where below show warm surface ones flowing the side of western continents and the cool deep ones flowing by side of eastern continents. Always since the last ice age and unlike the brief YD like events, cool deep currents never influence western sides of continents. Warm ocean surface currents never reach the eastern side of northern hemisphere continents away from the sub tropics.
    http://earth.usc.edu/~stott/Catalina/images/Oceanography/surface%20currents.jpg

  57. “He described this as a “temperature field”, because at any given latitude and elevation it has a corresponding estimated temperature value.”
    Two reasons why this is not often true.
    1) Temperature inversion
    A temperature inversion is a thin layer of the atmosphere where the normal decrease in temperature with height switches to the temperature increasing with height. An inversion acts like a lid, keeping normal convective overturning of the atmosphere from penetrating through the inversion. This happens more frequently in high pressure zones, where the gradual sinking of air in the high pressure dome typically causes an inversion to form at the base of a sinking layer of air.
    http://www.weatherquestions.com/temperature_inversion.jpg
    http://www.weatherquestions.com/What_is_a_temperature_inversion.htm
    2) Foehn wind
    A föhn or foehn is a type of dry, warm, down-slope wind that occurs in the lee (downwind side) of a mountain range.
    As a consequence of the different adiabatic lapse rates of moist and dry air, the air on the leeward slopes becomes warmer than equivalent elevations on the windward slopes.

    • Matt G May 17, 2015 at 9:22 am

      “He described this as a “temperature field”, because at any given latitude and elevation it has a corresponding estimated temperature value.”

      Two reasons why this is not often true.

      “Not often true”? Say what? Did you notice the R^2 of ~0.94? Do you realize this means a correlation between the two datasets of 0.97?
      Yes, there are a variety of process like foehn winds and temperature inversions … but despite that, rather than being “not often true”, the relationship of temperature with latitude and elevation is true almost all of the time.
      w.

      • Yes, i did notice the excellent correlation and where no inversion occurs and foehn winds is it difficult to argue against. Overall it is a fascinating and interesting opening post and the most positive region above Scandinavia, is what I expected with it being the very same region that cools the most during an ice age. Most significantly IMO it shows how a very high proportion of the worlds temperature can be explained solely by solar energy.
        The very high r^2 value is down to areas not affected, when without these conditions and the much larger elevation used that is not generally relevant to observed station data in the inversion narrow band of the atmosphere. The inversion occurs just above the base of the ground upwards, so containing hills and most small mountain ranges. There often can be significant temperature difference just 100-150 m above sea level. If this was taken into account only then r^2 would be reduced significantly.

      • The high R^2 is largely the result of a persistent tropics-to-pole difference of ~50K in prevailing temperature levels, which is at least an order of magnitude greater than co-latitudinal regional and temporal variations in yearly averages . That does NOT imply, however, that accurate time-series of temperature can be obtained thereby at any location where no measurements are taken!

    • Matt.
      The location of areas where you have temperature inversions is pretty limited.
      1. have a look at the PRISM product which accounts for this in their regression.
      2. have a look at TWI.

  58. Just for the record: The choice of colors for certain temperature ranges seems to obscure the real distribution of temperatures – especially in figures 3 and 4. It looks as if there are green regions of the map that are just a result of color mixing (yellow and cyan = green) and other regions that are truly green. The mixed green areas (close to yellow areas and inside the grey colored lines) are therefore much warmer than the truly green colored regions.
    This irritation could be avoided by switching the temperature ranges for cyan and green. Green would be closer to yellow (warmer) and cyan closer to blue (colder). This would be more intuitive as it follows the arrangement of colors in the color cycle: red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue.
    Or is there a reason for this “color inversion”?

  59. M Courtney.
    Merging ocean currents increases heat content but the temperature must increase for this to increase evapouration/increase the temperature. Heat content is temperature times specific heat, so if you have an increased volume of warm water,heat content increases, of the increased volume, but temperature may increase or fall depending on the individual absolute temperatures.

  60. Steven Mosher May 17, 2015 at 12:46 pm
    Temperature inversions are very common around the world and when they are occurring regularly, but varying especially in places that lack instrumental data like the Arctic, this causes huge problems. Yes, in valleys for example are common environments, but temperature inversions can occur almost anywhere on the planets surface. Only need the right conditions and any instrumental station on land a little higher than sea level to show a difference.These lead to significant errors while trying to guess estimated temperatures for locations that may have different atmospheric conditions from data locations used to estimate data free locations. This is more apparent when comparing land with ocean and land warming and cooling much faster than the other are not at all comparable.
    The location of temperature inversions includes all 5 continents and there is no way the PRISM product can account for this accurately.They vary in size from location to location on daily, monthly and seasonal cycles. The PRISM product often does not know the atmospheric column above the unknown location it is trying to estimate. It relies on a climatological inversion height to this elevation that no one set is the same for all scenarios. When the location has no data it is very speculative what even the climatological inversion height might even be as it can vary daily with different weather conditions. This is especially problematical if the location estimated has no observed data atmospheric column and no observed weather conditions.
    (2) During winter, inland valleys often experience persistent temperature inversions that are easily seen in the climatic record. In Colorado’s Alamosa Valley and Montana’s Bighorn Valley, for example, increases in January minimum and maximum temperatures of 2.5-3.0_C/100m are not uncommon. If one were to extrapolate these lapse rates upwards into the surrounding mountains, the predicted temperature would be wildly unrealistic.
    To simulate these situations, PRISM allows climate stations to be divided into two vertical layers, with
    regressions done on each separately. Layer 1 represents the boundary layer and layer 2 the free atmosphere. The thickness of the boundary layer may be prescribed to reflect the height of marine boundary layer for precipitation,or the mean wintertime inversion height for temperature. Preliminary methods have been developed to spatially distribute the height of the boundary layer to a grid. For temperature, the elevation of the top of the boundary layer is estimated by using the elevation of the lowest DEM pixels in the vicinity as a base, and adding a climatological inversion height to this elevation. As a result, large valleys tend to fall within the boundary layer, while local ridge tops and other elevated terrain jut into the free atmosphere (Johnson et al. 1997).
    To accommodate the spatially and temporally varying strength of inversions and boundary layer integrity,
    PRISM allows varying amounts of “crosstalk” (sharing of data points) between the vertical layer regressions,depending on the similarity of the regression functions. For example, under strong inversion conditions in winter,the regression functions would be very different, and crosstalk would be minimized. During summer and inwell-mixed locations, the regression functions would show similar characteristics, and stations would be shared more freely across the layer 1/layer 2 boundary. If there are no stations in one of the two layers, default regression slopes describing the expected mean behavior of the boundary layer or free atmosphere are invoked.
    ftp://rattus.nacse.org/pub/prism/docs/appclim97-prismapproach-daly.pdf
    Seasonal and regional variations in characteristics of the Arctic low-level temperature inversion are examined using up to 12 years of twice-daily rawinsonde data from 31 inland and coastal sites of the Eurasian Arctic and a total of nearly six station years of data from three Soviet drifting stations near the North Pole. The frequency of inversions, the median inversion depth, and the temperature difference across the inversion layer increase from the Norwegian Sea eastward toward the Laptev and East Siberian seas. This effect is most pronounced in winter and autumn, and reflects proximity to oceanic influences and synoptic activity, possibly enhanced by a gradient in cloud cover. East of Novaya Zemlya during winter, inversions are found in over 95% of all soundings and tend to be surface based. For all locations, however, inversions tend to he most intense during winter due to the large deficit in surface net radiation. The strongest inversions are found over eastern Siberia, and reflect the effects of local topography. The frequency of inversions is lowest during summer, but is still >50% at all locations. Most summer inversions are elevated, and are much weaker than their winter counterparts. Data from the drifting stations reveal an inversion in every sounding from December to April. The minimum frequency of 85% occurs during August.
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/1520-0442(1992)005%3C0615:LLTIOT%3E2.0.CO%3B2

  61. The ultimate defining error in the purely radiative theory of gases is a failure to recognise that for gases which are free to organise themselves along a density gradient within a gravitational field the amount of photon emission at a given temperature declines with gas density.
    The reason is that conduction via collisional activity increases with density and as conduction increases so photon emission declines.
    The same packet of kinetic energy cannot be both radiated and conducted at the same time.
    Thus a surface at 288k at equilibrium with insolation and overlain by the mass of an atmosphere at 1 bar pressure will only emit photons at a rate commensurate with a temperature of 255k.
    The other 33k is permanently trapped in a constant exchange of energy between molecules at that surface by way of conduction and convection.
    The Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate traces the decline in photon emission as compared to conduction as one goes deeper into the mass of a gaseous atmosphere.
    At thermal equilibrium every molecule at the same height has a balance between conduction to its neighbours and conduction from its neighbours which is why they are all at the same temperature at that height. That is the point of hydrostatic balance where the upward pressure gradient force created by kinetic energy at the surface is equal to the downward gravitational force.
    Only ‘ surplus’ kinetic energy is permitted to flow up or down by photonic emission which is why only 255k escapes from the top of Earth’s atmosphere.
    If a molecules moves higher then photonic emission to space increases relative to conductive energy transfer and the molecule cools to a temperature commensurate with others at the same height.
    If a molecule falls lower then photonic emission declines relative to conductive energy transfer and the molecule warms to a temperature commensurate with others at the same height.
    Conventional accounts describe the reduction in the proportion of conductive energy transfer with height as the creation of potential energy because the process is reversible on descent so that potential energy can become sensible energy again during descent.
    The concept of potential energy is thus just a convenient form of shorthand for describing the reduction or increase of photon emission as mass particles fall or rise within a larger quantity of mass held within a gravitational field at hydrostatic equilibrium.
    Let’s apply the above principles to the 15u emissions reduction in outgoing longwave radiation from surface to space
    CO2 molecules undoubtedly absorb and emit at the wavelength of 15u but there can only be net absorption of photons by a CO2 molecule that is below the height of hydrostatic equilibrium. If a molecule is at the correct height along the lapse rate slope for its ambient temperature then its ration of photonic energy emission or absorption is saturated. It can neither absorb more nor emit more photons because conduction to and from surrounding molecules has achieved its maximum rate at that temperature and mass density.
    The remaining (photonic )portion of its energy transmission activity is accounted for by equal emission and absorption of photons.
    Hydrostatic balance, by definition, involves conduction in and out being in balance at the same time as radiation in and out is in balance.
    Therefore, at that point of hydrostatic balance radiation flows straight through from surface to space without interruption.
    In effect, insolation at 255K gets a free pass straight through an atmosphere which is in hydrostatic equilibrium.
    I first proposed that free pass concept in another article several years ago.
    Since an atmosphere is densest at lower levels most 15u absorption by CO2 molecules is carried out by CO2 below the height of hydrostatic balance provided such CO2 molecules are too cool for their height along the lapse rate slope and are thus free to accept additional photonic energy. That is why the gap in emissions exists. 15u emission to space is reduced by CO2 absorption to a lower level than the rest of the wavelengths escaping to space.
    That creates a potential imbalance in the overall hydrostatic balance around the absorbing CO2 molecule so convection increases speed to compensate.
    That 15u disappears into potential energy which is invisible to thermal sensors but because the speed of convection has increased the surface becomes a fraction cooler as energy conducted from the surface is taken up faster than required for thermal equilibrium.
    That 15u then reappears as sensible energy again at the surface beneath the nearest column of descending air and warms the surface back up to the original temperature.
    Once back at the surface that kinetic energy is then free to radiate upward at the entire range of wavelengths and so can then escape to space.
    Thus the proposed warming effect of CO2 has been cancelled by the convective adjustment.
    The speed of convective overturning will always alter to the extent necessary to prevent radiative gases from changing surface temperature.
    Bear in mind that since the whole process is based on mass rather than radiation we could never measure the miniscule changes in the rate of convective overturning from GHGs alone especially considering the huge variations caused by solar and oceanic cycles of activity.
    As regards the matter of back radiation, note that increasing density towards the surface progressively reduces the amount of photonic emission so every time a photon travels down and is reabsorbed it becomes less likely to emit another photon downward because conduction increasingly takes energy out.
    The net effect for the atmosphere as a whole is that back radiation from GHGs is dissipated into conduction before it reaches the surface.
    Instead, the energy that would have been in the fiorm of back radiation goes into the ascending convective column as potential energy and reappears at the surface again as kinetic energy beneath the nearest descending convective column.
    That resolves the discrepancy between the standard Trenberth diagram and my proposals previously published on this site.
    The kinetic energy that returns to the surfsace in convective descent is exactly the same energy that Trenberth et al wrongly thought was returning to the surface via back radiation.

  62. Typo correction:
    “The ultimate defining error in the purely radiative theory of gases is a failure to recognise that for gases which are free to organise themselves along a density gradient within a gravitational field the amount of photon emission at a given temperature declines with INCREASING gas density.”
    Any comments ?
    If correct, that is the end of AGW theory.

      • It would predict that the emission height for any single GHG would be at a height where that GHG has the right amount of kinetic energy in the form of sensible heat to both radiate to space at 255K and support the weight of the atmospheric mass above that height.
        For a solid surface on Earth with no radiative capability within the atmosphere that would be 288k
        For any component of the atmosphere with radiative capability such as CO2 the height would be raised off the surface because CO2 can radiate to space from within the atmosphere which means it need not become as hot as the surface to radiate 255k to space.
        The same principle would apply to water vapour (and its condensate), methane , particulates etc etc.
        Separately, the best observational evidence is the existence of the DALR.
        The DALR tracks the effect of increasing atmospheric density as one moves downward in requiring increasing temperature to enable photons to be released at a sufficient rate to escape to space at a rate commensurate with 255K despite the increasing burden of collisional activity reducing photonic emissions by taking away internal energy by conduction.
        The more internal energy is taken away in collisions to support conduction and convection the lower becomes the probability of a photon emission and the higher the temperature needs to become in order to send photons out to space at a rate commensurate with S-B.

        • to radiate 255k to space.

          I don’t believe this is possible, Co2 emits at ~193K. Water might be emitting at 255K, or maybe even 288K, which is then averaged with the 193K from Co2 to 255K. The Co2 molecule might be 255K, but it’s only emission line (near this temp) is again 193K.

  63. Would that be a result of the emissions gap reducing the radiation from CO2 that is able to leave the atmosphere from 255k to 193K?
    I accept that each GHG behaves differently and there may be some feature of CO2 that I have not yet taken into account.
    How does one average 193K for CO2 and 255K or 288K for water to give 255K?

    • Would that be a result of the emissions gap reducing the radiation from CO2 that is able to leave the atmosphere from 255k to 193K?
      I accept that each GHG behaves differently and there may be some feature of CO2 that I have not yet taken into account.
      How does one average 193K for CO2 and 255K or 288K for water to give 255K?

      Here’s a BB spectrum @295K as an example
      https://micro6500blog.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/blackbody71f.jpg
      Here’s Co2
      https://micro6500blog.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/co2.jpg
      Co2 as a gas, as I understand does not emit as a BB, but with spectral emission.
      Here’s water
      https://micro6500blog.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/water.jpg
      So from space, you’d have photons from the surface, from Co2, from Water which when all mixed together I presume has a effective BB temp of 255K. If it’s measured by Pyrometer, it sums the joules from the photons and then reports it as if it’s from a BB, even if it’s all at say 193K photons, It would take a larger 15u flux (@193K) to equal a 255K BB. Now if measured by a spectrograph, you can sum the individual spectrum’s, and it would have spikes over the top of say a 180K BB which could sum to that same 255K.
      Does that make sense? I’m not sure I’ve explained it very well.

      • Oh, NIST says the two spectrums (Co2 and Water) are not quantitatively accurate (IE the heights of the spikes are not comparable between the two).

  64. Thanks for that.
    I need to look into the individual characteristics of different GHGs including that of specific gravity which will make a difference to the balance between radiation to space and the need to support molecules higher up.
    It may be that my reference to the emission height should have referred to the point of hydrostatic balance but as yet I haven’t worked out the relationship between the two.
    The thing is though that if kinetic energy at the surface has to be allocated to continual collisions in order to support hydrostatic balance then that compromises the ability of the surface to emit photons.
    However one cuts it a surface at 288k cannot be emitting photons at a rate commensurate with that temperature.
    It has to be emitting photons at the rate commensurate with 255K and the reason is mass density at the surface taking up that additional 33K in collisional activity.
    AGW theory has the surface emitting photons at 288k which cannot be right if hydrostatic balance is to be maintained.

    • It’s complicated, so no problem. I would suggest Feynman’s QED, and then lectures for a more scientific view of quantum absorption and emission.

  65. Interesting that there seems to be no counter argument for my assertion that the rate of photon emission from any radiatively active material declines as one descends through atmospheric mass because collisional activity takes over from photon emissions.
    The rise in temperature along the lapse rate slope is the equilibrium response to that decline in photon emissivity. The radiating material has to get warmer with depth in order for the Earth system to emit 255k to space whilst simultaneoiusly holding the mass of the atmosphere off the ground.
    Being a matter of mass it follows that radiative characteristics count for nothing and in any event any thermal effect of radiative capability is negated by convective adjustments.
    As far as I can see, that observation renders AGW radiative theory completely inapplicable.

    • Stephen Wilde May 24, 2015 at 4:23 am says:

      Interesting that there seems to be no counter argument for my assertion that the rate of photon emission from any radiatively active material declines as one descends through atmospheric mass because collisional activity takes over from photon emissions.

      While it is tempting to think that there is no counter argument put forth simply because you are 100% correct … it’s more than possible that there may be no counter argument because most folks do what I do, which is to only rarely read more than the first line or two of your comments. I fear that your endless streams of uncited claims and arcane explanations finally got to be too much for me.
      As one example among dozens, I have no idea at all what this means:

      The rise in temperature along the lapse rate slope is the equilibrium response to that decline in photon emissivity.

      Among the many problems with this statement is exactly what you are discussing. What is “photon emissivity” when it’s at home? I know what “emissivity” is, but this is the first time I ever heard of “photon emissivity”. You seem to equate it with the “rate of photon emission”, which I assume would be measured in something like photons per second … while emissivity is a dimensionless number that varies from zero to one. You see the difficulties faced by the scientifically-minded reader?
      Nor do I have any particular interest in finding out what you mean by that convoluted statement, as doing so with you seems to lead to infinite recursion.
      So, I just pass. There are too many interesting, well cited and supported comments and too little time as it is. I just wrote this to caution you that the lack of opposition could mean you are right … or it could just mean that few folks are reading your stuff any more.
      Now there are a couple of ways you could take this. Let me suggest that you take it in the spirit in which it is offered, which is that of an opportunity to up your game. Read more. Learn more. Be more cautious in your claims. Explain your terms, and don’t use terms in a new unusual manner without forewarning and explanation. Dial the extent of your claims back to what you can easily defend. And please, please learn the currently accepted explanation before posting a new explanation.
      As an example. Whenever you have an atmosphere that is heated from the bottom, you will get a lapse rate, with the atmosphere cooling as it rises and expands. Air is heated at the bottom, rises, expands, and must therefore cool from the expansion. This gives a “lapse rate”, a rate of decline in temperature with increasing elevation.
      Now you come along and say:

      The rise in temperature along the lapse rate slope is the equilibrium response to that decline in photon emissivity.

      The accepted explanation for the existence of the lapse rate says nothing about “photon emissivity”. Instead it says that hot air rises, and when it rises it expands, and when it expands it cools. Period. Nothing about radiative gases. Nothing about “photon emissivity”.
      So if you want to be the first to claim that the existence of the lapse rate is from variations in “proton emission” whatever that might be, FIRST you have to not only understand but also refute the accepted explanation, while at the same time providing an unambiguous new explanation along with observational support for your new explanation.
      And I do think that you can do that, Stephen … I do think that you can up your game to that level.
      w.

      • Willis, I have no problem with the tone or content of your response.
        I am simply pointing out that as one descends through the mass of an atmosphere the temperature of a radiative molecule has to rise in order to get 255K out to space past the barrier to energy transmission presented by conduction and convection.
        If the radiative molecule is situated at the surface then for Earth it has to be at 288K to get 255k out to space.
        If it is at a higher location then the temperature of the molecule has to achieve a compromise beteween its radiative capability and its specific gravity.
        The basic point is that S-B does not apply and cannot apply to an interface between two grey bodies which are exchanging energy between themselves via conduction and convection.
        Earth’s surface radiates 255k upward even though it is at a temperature of 288k because the other 33k is locked into the conductive/convective exchange which provides the necessary energy for the upward pressure gradient force.
        May I humbly suggest that the problem is not my terms of expression but rather your unfamiliarity with concepts such as hydrostatic balance, pressure gradient force and the idea that a surface at 288k does not necessarily radiate at 288k but rather at a rate commensurate with 255k after deducting the kinetic energy locked into convective overturning in the form of potential energy?
        The Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate shows the rate at which the temperature of NON radiative molecules must be elevated at any given height in order for them to allow the surface to radiate 255K of radiation to space past the conducting and convecting mass of an atmosphere.
        In connection with radiative molecules that height can be distorted by both the radiative capability and the specific gravity of the molecule because specific gravity determines how much energy needs to be expended by that molecule in lifting it against gravity. CO2 is heavier than air whereas water vapour is lighter than air so they distort the DALR differently.
        It is right for you to say
        “Whenever you have an atmosphere that is heated from the bottom, you will get a lapse rate, with the atmosphere cooling as it rises and expands. Air is heated at the bottom, rises, expands, and must therefore cool from the expansion. This gives a “lapse rate”, a rate of decline in temperature with increasing elevation”
        but it must also follow that the reverse happens on descent.
        So why does the reverse happen on descent in the absence of radiative molecules?
        The only possible explanation in the absence of GHGs is that the mass of an atmosphere reduces the probability of photons being emitted as density increases and of course the lapse rate follows the density gradient.
        As regards ‘upping my game’ the problem here is that I am using words and concepts to explain the way established physics works out in practice within the mass of an atmosphere. The relevant numbers already exist in the form of the Gas Laws and the hydrostatic equations so there is no need for me to rehearse them anew.
        The problem is that readers have been taught an erroneous conceptual interpretation which places paramount significance on the net radiative exchanges but that is inadequate.
        I need readers to up their game and look at the earlier established science in a way that was never taught to them.

  66. A good article but one that is incomplete in the sense that there is no temperature activity attibuted to volcanoes on the vey long island arcs that occur throughout all of the major islands. Having flown the Pacific and Indian oceans as a member of the rear section I have been able to observe one interesting phenomon. The ugrading of the passenger flight maps has enable a better view of the erlationship between turbulence above 12,000m and the location of the various island arcs. The recent flight to the USA took the southern route just to the south of Pago Pago. Flying across the island arc yielded vigorous turbulence embracing the new Dreamliner. The turbulence ceased immediately once the island arc was crossed. For the next couple of hours minor turbulence occurred whenever a seamount was crossed. There were no cumuls clouds evident during the bulk of the flight. From the headwind descriptor there was very little wind direction changes in the same sector.
    My point is that the map represented by Figure 4 onObserved temperatures minus the estimated temperature field, centered on the International Dateline. Gray line shows the boundary between positive and negative values also represents the boundary between turbulence and calm air. This means that the influence of volcanic island arc temperatures must be taken into consideration when prognosticating on variations in ocean temperatures.

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