The Kevin Trenberth Effect: Pulling Science Back to the Dark Ages. Part two – The Big Snow Job

Guest essay by Jim Steele

Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

Trenberth’s 1999 paper framing the effects of global warming on extreme precipitation declared, “With higher average temperatures in winter expected, more precipitation is likely to fall in the form of rain rather than snow, which will increase both soil moisture and run off, as noted by the IPCC (1996) and found in many models.” The 2001 IPCC 3rd Assessment repeated those expectations stating, “Northern Hemisphere snow cover, permafrost, and sea-ice extent are projected to decrease further.” Soon climate scientists like Dr. Viner proffered alarming scenarios that ‘children would no longer know what snow was’. Similarly in 2008 politicians like RFK Jr. warned DC children would be deprived of the fun of sledding due to global warming. But our climate naturally oscillates and by early February of 2010 Snowmageddon was blanketing the USA’s eastern seaboard with record snows, making global warming predictions the butt of many jokes. The heavy snows didn’t disprove CO2 had caused any warming, but it definitely highlighted failed predictions.

In 2011 Chris Mooney writing for the DeSmog blog noted heavy snowfall had become a “communications nightmare” for global warming theory and urged, “We need to move the public to a place where drawing a warming-snowstorm connection isn’t so challenging”. Kevin Trenberth was already on point. Just two weeks after the 2010 Snowmageddon, Trenberth appeared in a NPR interview flip-flopping to a new climate change framework in which a “Warming Planet Can Mean More Snow”. Now he argued, “The fact that the oceans are warmer now than they were, say, 30 years ago means there’s about on average 4 percent more water vapor lurking around over the oceans than there was, say, in the 1970s”. Thus “you can get dumped on with more snow partly as a consequence of global warming,” A year later the Union of Concerned Scientists held a press conference asserting global warming was no longer causing less snow, but causing heavier snow. And now, every year as heavy snowstorms approach, Trenberth and his well-groomed media outlets bombard the public, urging them not to be misled by their senses, but trust that cold and snowy days have worsened due to global warming.

Trenberth bases his warmer-earth-more-cold-and-snow alchemy on the Clausius–Clapeyron relation stating, “the water holding capacity of the atmosphere goes up exponentially at a rate of 7% per degree Celsius.” Indeed the Clausius–Clapeyron relation is undeniable physics. The problem is Trenberth misapplies it. First as seen in the graph below from the peer-reviewed paper Weather And Climate Analyses Using Improved Global Water Vapor Observations, there is little evidence of a steady increase in total precipitable water vapor (TPW) ever paralleling rising CO2. The important question Trenberth never asked was, “if TPW has declined since 1998, has there been no warming since 1998?” Indeed in accord with less water vapor, several top climate scientists have reported a global warming hiatus over the same period and the Climate Reference Network reports no warming trend over the USA for the past decade. Furthermore, ocean temperatures were in agreement. Based on Argo data a consensus of scientists reported heat content in the upper 300 meters of the ocean had “increased from 1984 to 1992 followed by a short cooling episode in 1992/93, and then increased from 1994 to 2003/2004, followed by flattening or a decrease.” Note the decline in water vapor from 1992 to 1994 and the decline since 1998 coincides with those ocean temperatures. All things considered, the uptick in heavier snow since 2009 cannot be explained by Trenberth’s new normal “warmer and wetter” assumption.

“Old school” scientists seek to understand causes of extreme events by examining changes in atmospheric circulation and other contributing weather dynamics. In contrast Trenberth does not want scientists to use the standard null hypothesis to test if CO2 warming was a contributing factor. He simply assumes CO2 must be and accuses other researchers of erroneously accepting the standard null hypothesis indicating no effect from rising CO2 (type 2 errors). Based on pure assumptions, he wants to allot some portion of every extreme event to rising CO2, even when an no anthropogenic signal emerges from standard scientific analyses and modeling experiments, as discussed in part 1. According to Trenberth, due to the dominating effects of natural variability, CO2-driven climate models do a very poor job of simulating large changes in atmospheric circulation. While one model run will force large changes, the next model run will not. To side step that problem, instead of asking if there have been trends in atmospheric and oceanic circulation changes that produced snowfall extremes, Trenberth wants researchers to simply ask, “Was it [snowfall] related to higher than normal SSTs off the coast or farther afield” and then assume those higher temperatures were partly due to rising CO2. But that’s bad science. Higher than normal sea surface temperatures often have no connection to any theoretical CO2 heating. Warmer sea surface temperatures associated with a storm can be solely caused by a redistribution of warm water during an El Nino event. A shift in the North Atlantic Oscillation, or a shift in the jet stream can reduce wind fields and warm sea surfaces because weaker winds ventilate less heat and reduce evaporative cooling. Elsewhere shifts in atmospheric circulation can reduce cloudiness and increase solar heating.


Trenberth has reported that 70% of the moisture involved in a storm is typically in place at the beginning of the storm, suggesting global warming has increased the available moisture. But again observations do not support Trenberth’s simplistic “warmer and wetter” attributions. For example in the 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard the amount of available water vapor was far below normal as seen in the diagram posted by meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo at WUWT. So another question Trenberth’s attribution studies must ask, “where does the moisture come from for an extreme snow event when a region is not “warmer and wetter?”


Still there are many useful questions that can be asked to determine if the affects of climate change have exceeded the boundaries of natural variability. For example, do similar extreme snowfalls happen independently of sea surface temperatures that are warmer or cooler than normal? That question is easily answered from a historical perspective that encompasses just 100 to 150 years. Historical extremes like the Great Blizzard of 1888 dropped very similar amounts of snow on America’s northeast, despite a very different climate background with colder ocean temperatures from the Little Ice Age and extensive Arctic sea ice. Comparing the Great Blizzard of 1888 with Snowmaggedon, higher than normal SST temperatures do not appear to be a critical factor.

To separate natural weather dynamics from climate change scientists must also establish why snowfall varies greatly over small timeframes; timeframes that are too short for CO2 to hypothetically alter ocean temperatures. As anyone having lived in New England knows, during any given winter the depth of snowfall is totally dependent on 2 crucial factors: 1) how fast the storm moves along the coast and 2) how far from the coast the storm travels. Unquestionably slow moving storms cause the most extreme precipitation events, rain or snow. For the American east coast, colder than normal temperatures south of Greenland encourage more frequent blocking ridges of high pressure, and those blocks cause storms to slow down and even stall. These “Greenland blocks” were also responsible for Superstorm Sandy’s sudden shift back towards the coast.

Greenland blocks are more common during negative phases of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), a phase that has coincided with the recent rise in heavy snowstorms. So we must also ask if global warming has affected a shift to the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)? But previous research had suggested increased CO2 promoted a more positive NAO during the latter decades of the 20th century. Within a framework of a single year or a few decades, shifts in the NAO are often associated changes in snowfall. But if we ask if climate change altered trends in a given NAO phase, researchers report in the paper Need for Caution in Interpreting Extreme Weather Statistics, “no significant changes either in the mean or in the entire PDFs [Probability Density Functions]” of the NAO index over the last 140 years.

As illustrated in the diagram below, the positions of cold air masses on land and warm air masses over the ocean determine where precipitation falls as snow or rain. For example during the Blizzard of 2013, despite being surrounded by warm ocean waters Nantucket Island received the least amount of snowfall (6.3 inches) while further west Providence Rhode Island (18 inches) and Hartford, Connecticut (22.8 inches) surrounded by a colder air mass received record snow. For snow to form, moist warm air must be raised to an altitude where temperatures are below freezing, with an optimal snow forming temperature hovering around -12 degrees C (10F). Typically a cold air mass (or mountains) forces the rise in altitude. According to the Clausius-Clapeyron relation, air at 31 degree F can only hold a given amount of moisture, no matter how greatly the global average temperature varies. The critical factor that determines how much snow will accumulate is the temperature of the air nearer the ground. If lower air layers are warmer than 0°C (32F), the snow will melt as it falls forming rain, freezing rain or sleet. Only where the entire air column is below freezing do we get snow. If the storm track moves too far out to sea, or if the cold air mass is to far inland, the warm air mass gets less lift, and much less snow forms. Thus to attribute the cause of extreme snowfall a scientist must also ask, “what was the position of the storm track?” And how much cold air was in place?

Trenberth cavalierly suggests that it’s always cold enough to snow in winter, but that that is misleading. For blizzards to occur sufficient cold air must already be in place and that is not a given. Dips in the jet stream and storm tracks across North America pull cold Arctic air southward along the storms trailing edge. To produce Snowmageddon blizzards along the east coast, enough cold air had to reach the southeast and overflow the Appalachian barrier where it is dammed up along the coast (Rauber 2005). The snows that reached Jacksonville Florida in 2015 were the result of a stronger than normal flow of cold air over the Appalachians. Similar to “lake effect snow”, after flowing over the ocean, the cold dry air picked up enough moisture to dust Jacksonville with light snows.

Accordingly the National Snow and Ice Data Center experts tell us, “While it can be too warm to snow, it cannot be too cold to snow. Snow can occur even at incredibly low temperatures as long as there is some source of moisture and some way to lift or cool the air”. In contrast, Mooney relays Trenberth’s message contradicting those experts stating, “Heavy snows mean the temperature is just below freezing, any cooler and the amount would be a lot less.”… “Warmer waters off the coast help elevate winter temperatures and contribute to the greater snow amounts. This is how global warming plays a role.” Why would Trenberth make that up?

Dips in the jet stream and stronger storms capable of pulling an abundance of cold Arctic air equatorward are often associated with the negative phase of the North Atlantic/Arctic Oscillation (AO). Although December 2015 had been mild, when weather forecasters recognized a shift to the AO’s negative phase in early January 2016, they correctly predicted conditions would be just right for the Blizzard of 2016 that buried the mid-Atlantic States in 2 feet of snow 2 weeks later. So to explain contributions of extreme snowfall, scientists must ask how do natural cycles of the North Atlantic/Arctic Oscillation contribute to extremes.


As would be predicted by a shift to more frequent negative phases of the NAO/AO, the USA was experiencing greater incursions of cold Arctic air that promoted both more record low temperatures and greater snowfall, as was the case in the 1960s and 70s. Despite projections by CO2 driven models that the ratio of record high temperatures would exceed record low temperatures by 20 to 1 in 2050, in 2013 and 2014 record low temperatures exceeded record highs. However to counter such contradictory observations, Trenberth pushes another unscientific and non-falsifiable explanation. Suggesting risingCO2 was preventing extreme cold that he claims reduce snowfall, Trenberth submitted,

“below normal temperatures can be fully consistent with climate change but are likely warmer than they otherwise would have been.”

Winter storms are low-pressure systems, or cyclones, that spin in a counter-clockwise direction as they travel across North America. Most winter cyclones in North America are initiated by the curvature of the jet stream as it passes around the Rocky Mountains, or curve northward along the eastern seaboard. The North American topography favors two major storm centers in western North America. One lies just east of the Canadian Rockies where “Alberta Clippers” form. Clippers are fasting moving storms. Typically they will not produce record heavy snowfall because the moisture supply flowing into northern North America is relatively low and the Clippers’ swift passage does not allow for sustained snow accumulation. However Clippers can evolve into major storms over the Great Lakes or eastern seaboard where moisture is available or when they align with storms initiated by the subtropical jet stream. The other storm center lies just east of Colorado. These storms often gather more moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and are slower moving. Typically these storms deliver heavier snowfall. Of importance to east coast snowfall, either storm type will pull cold Arctic air southward and eastward toward the coast, setting the stage for greater snowfall totals from the next storm. In fact it was an Alberta Clipper that set the stage for the east coast Blizzard of 2015.

In general as illustrated below, there are 3 air masses that interact with a winter storm. 1) The cooler air that was left in place from a previous storm. This cooler air mass forces the approaching warm air to rise to altitudes where water vapor can turn to snow. 2) Warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico or tropical Atlantic that is pulled northward by the storm’s leading edge. 3) The cold dry Arctic air pulled southward along the storms trailing edge. Mild warm conditions generated from the warm air mass typically precede a blizzard, and often catch people ill prepared for the bitter cold that follows. The most famous incident was the January 1888 School Children’s Blizzard that swept through the Great Plains. It was so named because of the 235 people who were killed, many were children who headed to school “lightly dressed because temperatures had been gradually rising to just above freezing as warm moist air was pulled up from the Gulf of Mexico. However within a few hours temperatures dropped to -29 degrees C, as the cold Arctic air advanced. Due to this counter-clockwise circulation pattern, strong storms can reverse a region’s normal latitudinal temperature gradient, temporarily making it warmer in the north and colder in the south.


When storms track along the east coast, they intensify due to the sharp contrast between warm Atlantic temperatures and cold land temperatures. The sharp contrast favors “explosive cyclogenesis”, a phenomenon that is most common along the Gulf Stream and along the Kuroshio Current and promotes extreme snowfalls in New England and Japan respectively. In addition to the land-sea contrast, there is also a steep temperature gradient over the Atlantic due to the warm Gulf Stream. Along the coast of North Carolina in February, coastal waters are typically 10 degrees C (50 F), while just 130 kilometers to the east, Gulf Stream waters register 22 degrees C (72 F) Reddy 1994. In addition to the heat and moisture evaporating from warm Gulf Stream waters, winter storms travelling up the coast will pull warm moist tropical air northward in what is called the “warm conveyor” as illustrated below in the Washington Post illustration of the 2015 blizzard. Notice the head of the storm’s “comma” shape is an area of extreme snowfall, where the storm had pulled warm and moist air northward and westward which then rose over the colder air already in place from previous storms.


Nevertheless ignoring all the potent weather dynamics that naturally drive anomalously warmer sea surface temperatures ahead of a storm, Trenberth emailed his favorite media outlets Joe Romm, Chris Mooney and others to assert, “At present sea surface temperatures are more the 2 degrees F above normal over huge expanses (1000 miles) off the east coast and water vapor in the atmosphere is about 10% higher as a result. About half of this can be attributed to climate change.”

Was this 50% contribution ever scientifically tested and peer reviewed? Did Trenberth determine “how much warmth was transported northward on the warm conveyor side of the storm?” Did Trenberth ask how much warmth was picked up from the Gulf Stream and carried westward to cooler coastal waters? Did the storm temporarily reverse the latitudinal temperature gradient? Trenberth’s untested opinion of a 50% contribution attributed to rising CO2 was simply an opinion. It was an opinion pushed to satisfy the “need to move the public to a place where drawing a warming-snowstorm connection isn’t so challenging” and thus protect the global warming theory.

More yellow journalism followed a few weeks later in Mooney’s “What the massive snowfall in Boston tells us about global warming”. Keeping the focus on global warming Mooney reported, “sea surface temperatures off the coast of New England are flashing red”. Michael Mann added to the global warming meme reporting, “Sea surface temperatures off the coast of New England right now are at record levels, 11.5C (21F) warmer than normal in some locations.” But Mooney, Mann and Trenberth were not interested in discussing the details of those fleeting warm anomalies. They never considered the warm conveyor delivered above normal warmth northwards and then dragged that warmth and Gulf Stream warmth westward. They never tell us how fleeting those warm anomalies were. Yet for the month of February 2015 temperatures on land and sea were all several degrees colder than normal as seen in the illustration by CBSBoston’s chief meteorologist. It was extreme cold that intensified the storm. And despite below normal sea surface temperatures and thus below normal water vapor, the storm gathered enough moisture and Boston experienced record-breaking snows.


Trenberth has now revised his 1999 framework. Despite the record cold that reduces water vapor, he still argues global warming causes more snow in winter. He maintains warming will still cause more rain and reduced snow in the fall and spring. But again the evidence contradicts his claims. Although Trenberth focuses public attention on a decreasing trend in spring snow extent, like the winter, there has also been an increasing trend in autumn snow extent as seen in the graph below from Rutgers Global Snow Lab.


So why does Trenberth persist in claiming extreme snowfalls are due to a warmer and wetter world. Trenberth betrays his intentions when he writes, “The main way climate change is perceived is through changes in extremes because those are outside the bounds of previous weather. Climate change from human influences is difficult to perceive and detect because natural weather-related variability is large. Even with a significant climate change, most of the time, the weather is within previous bounds.” So Trenberth has organized a media campaign to not only overturn the null hypothesis, but to reverse our understanding of the difference between climate and weather. He wants you believe every extreme weather event is worsened by CO2, whether or not there is any evidence.

In part three: Trenberth’s repression of alternative scientific explanations.


Jim Steele is author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

97 thoughts on “The Kevin Trenberth Effect: Pulling Science Back to the Dark Ages. Part two – The Big Snow Job

  1. The whole discussion seems moot to me. Satellite records only show about .5 degree of warming since 1979. That’s not enough to affect snow frequency (or any other weather phenomena) anyway.

    • Well when it comes to snow, or snow jobs, I like to go back to the paper by Frank Wentz et al (RSS) published in SCIENCE for july 13 2007.

      Because that paper reports on actual real world physical observational measurements, and it showed that a one deg. C increase in global surface Temperature results in a 7% increase, in total global evaporation, a 7% increase in total atmospheric water content, and a 7% increase in total global precipitation.

      Who knew, that what goes up must come down, so precipitation and evaporation totals globally must be equal over the long haul or the oceans would be ” up there ” instead of ” down here “.

      Not stated in their paper but inferred and postulated by me, is that such a 7% increase in precipitation might be accompanied by about a 7% increase in total global cloud cover, that increase being comprised of increased cloud area, increased cloud density (water content) and increased cloud persistence time (before the deluge).

      Later postulated here at WUWT by Stephen Wilde, that such cloud change also could (would) include geographical movement of such cloud cover from generally cooler regions, to generally warmer regions such as tropical oceans.

      Stephen’s thesis make sense to me.

      The GCMs disagree with some facets of the Wentz paper to the tune of a factor between 7 times, down to about 2.14 times. Well they asserted 1% up to 3% for one of the items where Wentz et al measured 7 %.

      Who’s going to believe measurements when you have computer models to do your research for you ??

      So there is some merit, in believing that warming (somewhere) might result in more precipitation (somewhere else).

      The Monsoons being a case in point.

      Can’t say I buy the groundhog big freeze on some global pestilence. There wasn’t any big groundhog freeze out in the tropical Pacific. So it was just a local weather anomaly.


      • Its funny that he “showed” that since the actual evaporation tanks with accurate records of over 200 years don’t agree.

      • Please – to put an end to all this crap, vote for Trump. He is the best candidate to dig in and root out the fraud and waste.

      • An increase in global surface Temperature results in a 7% increase, in total global evaporation, a 7% increase in total atmospheric water content, and a 7% increase in total global precipitation.

        I don’t think it is that simple. If the world warms and evaporation increases, that water vapour will just stay there. No increase in precipitation at all.

        Precipitation requires differential temperatures between two airmasses. So precipitation depends upon cooling as much as it does warming. Which is why some of the UKs worst air-mass precipitation (thunderstorms etc) come out of cold polar airmasses (which have an unstable lapse rate). Witness also India before the Monsoon, where high temperatures and high humidity produce nothing but misery and mosquitoes, and not a drop of rain in sight.

        In which case, increased global precipitation may well be regulated by polar cooling. And that is regulated by a diverse array of things like the precession of the equinox and the PDO and AMO cycles. And perhaps even the 19 year lunar orbital cycle, as the Moon swings across the equator.

        To me, the argument that more warming equals more precipitation is the argument of the kindergarten. But par for the course in climate ‘science’.


      • Well I must apologize to WUWT for mentioning the WENTZ et al SCIENCE paper that evidently measured amounts that don’t agree with; well I guess we don’t know what it is they don’t agree with except it is 200 years old.

        So we don’t know what the 200 year old numbers are but they are not the numbers of who knows what, that are in a tank somewhere, that Wentz et al reported out in the total globe, rather than in a tank somewhere, for total global evaporation, total atmospheric water, and total global precipitation.

        I’m also apologetic that it isn’t a simple concept.

        So global average surface (ocean water) Temperature increases one deg. Celsius ( not just for this morning, but for a global climatalogically meaningful time such as the standard 30 year number, so the rate of addition of water vapor increased by 7% (they claimed to have measured), and all of that increased rate of flow into the atmosphere stays there, rather than precipitating at a faster rate, so the total atmospheric water content increases monotonically for 30 years, without any of that additional supplemental rate ever precipitating.

        Yes, I can see it is not all that simple as you say; so one day the oceans will be UP there, since the Temperature globally keeps rising.

        I’ll wait to read your contradictory papers in SCIENCE journal, correcting Wentz’s mistake.


      • So the effect of global warming say of 1 deg C in mean global surface Temperature is not too simple to understand. Since we are talking about climate and not the weather at nine AM this morning, we mean a 1 deg. C rise that lasts from now on forever; well at least 30 years.
        Imagine a bath that is 2 meters long by one meter wide, and 0.5 meters deep up to the overflow escape vent.
        So we have one cubic meter of water, when the bath is full to the overflow vent. That is 10^6 cc or 1,000 liters of water which weighs 1,000 kg.
        My cold water faucet can fill a 3 gallon (10 liter) bucket in about 30 seconds. The hot water faucet takes twice as long or one minute.
        So the cold water faucet can fill my bath in about 50 minutes, at 20 liters per minute.
        The warm faucet takes 100 minutes to fill the bath. If I turn both on full, they can fill the bath in about 33 minutes and 20 seconds.
        If I pull the plug on a full bath, the water escapes at five times the rate that the cold faucet can fill it, or 100 liters per minute.
        But the drain outlet can only flow water through it at a rate which is proportional to the water depth, so it acts as if the exhaust pipe has a constant flow resistance.
        So even though the water starts to flow at 100 liters per minute, and would empty the bath in 10 minutes at that rate, it only drops to 37% (1/e) in 10 minutes, so it takes 30 minutes to get 95% of the water out, and 50 minutes to get 99% out. Well, it gets a bit non linear at the end, due to the shape of the bath so it basically is emptied in less than 50 minutes.

        So if I turn on both hot and cold, they can fill the bath in 33.33 minutes, and if I pull the plug as well, then the bath never fills to the overflow, but settles out at some level, less than full at which level the combined inflow rate is 30 liters per minute, and the outflow rate down the drain is also 30 liters per minute, so the level neither rises nor falls.

        The reader can calculate how deep the water is in the bath, with the drain plug out and both faucets on full.

        If I cleaned out the water pipes and increased each of my faucet’s flow rate by a half a liter per minute, I can now put water in at 31 liters per minute, but if the drain can only exhaust 30 liters per minute, the water level must rise, probably by something like 3.33%

        The reader can figure that out.

        So I increased the inflow rate, but didn’t change the outflow rate, so now the water must rise steadily forever, if it wasn’t for the overflow vent.

        Now out in the real world, if the mean surface Temperature rises one deg. C, and the evaporation rate rises by 7%, the total water in the atmosphere must rise without limit, if the precipitation rate never increases.

        The Clausius-Clapeyron relationship cannot support a continuously increasing atmospheric water vapor content at a new fixed Temperature that is just 1 deg. C higher than a Temperature at which the atmospheric water vapor stayed constant, where the evaporation rate increased 7% and the precipitation rate never increased at all, so the extra water remains in the atmosphere for ever.

        This is the situation that ralfellis says is not so simple.

        I would expect that with a new global surface Temperature that is just one deg. C higher than previously, the whole system would come to a new balance in certainly 30 years or less. Well I think it will rebalance in 30 days or less. Since the sun goes down over night, and stops the increased evaporation (in that location) I would expect the change to occur in less than 24 hours.

        Remember Willis’s dissertation on how the sun rises in the morning, and starts off a whole new day’s cloud cycle.

        Wentz et al asserted in their published peer reviewed paper, that they measured a 7% increase in all three amounts.

        Sometimes I think it is a total waste of my time, to post references to the results of experimental results that other persons have researched and published on.

        Some folks just have a seat of the pants confidence, that it just isn’t quite that simple.


    • Trenberth appeared in a NPR interview flip-flopping to a new climate change framework
      Are we sure that Trenberth isn’t Flip-flop Flannery’s twin brother by a different mother?

    • I don’t think it’s so much that he’s an idiot. I think the problem is that he thinks everyone else is an idiot.

    • +1.0000 (note: he’s being well compensated to be an idiot to provide politically convenient responses.)

    • Well Dr. Kevin is after all, from the Shaky Isles, and we are not a nesting site for idiots; but it is one way to get the name of the country in the news; and even bad news is news, when you are that far flung !


    • Not so much an idiot as a politician who reliably keeps changing the story to match events so that the grant monies keep rolling in. And since politicians (and greenies) are really the idiots, this works quit well.

    • Maybe not so much an idiot, but more like the guy who stands in a line of people, farts in an obvious fashion, then turns to the woman next to him and says, “Wow, lady. That was a real stinky one!”

    • In fact this adds another twist to the nature-nurture debate on intelligence (since I assume that in some sense he’s basically an intelligent man).

  2. Just like CAGW, Trenberth’s snow model is a gross oversimplification of a very complex system. It seems that the attractiveness of a model seems to be in its’s simplicity, not accuracy.

    • Trenberth knows damn well snowfall is quite complex as I tried to demonstrate. But for media propaganda purposes he focuses on fleeting anomalous warmth that he associates with CO2. His media blitzes are banking on the public’s tendency to prefer simplicity, whether it is bogus or not.

      • Jim, Where I dissociate completely from KT is in his cartoon diagram for earth’s energy/radiation/whatever budget, that asserts earth is bathed 24 hours night and day at 342 W/m^2 all over the earth; essentially what a flat earth would receive for a stationary sun at the zenith, at an altitude of 186 million miles.

        A black body under those conditions would struggle to reach 251.3 kelvin, which is absurd for the earth.

        But a BB bathed in our sun’s 1362 W/m^2 (all over) would be looking for 355 kelvin equilibrium Temperature (almost 82 deg. C

        Fortunately for us, our planet rotates once in 24 hrs (solar referenced) so although the earth after sunup, is heading for 355 K, the lights go out before it gets there, although in the hottest tropical deserts, it can reach maybe 333 K quite regularly in summer.

        Trying to force fit earth’s actual weather/climate, into a totally fictitious non rotating picture is asinine in my view.


      • markstoval March 1, 2016 at 3:18 am
        “@ george e. smith

        Agreed. Very good comment. Almost sounds like an astrophysicist I have read.”

        Don’t you mean an “astrophysicist”?

  3. Nice essay, again, Dr. Steele. Bookmarked. Trenberth, Mann, and Jones are amongst those who will forever live in Climategate infamy. The switch you expose from ‘warmer means less snow’ to warmer means wetter means more snow’ shows two things. 1. ‘Science is settled’ is just wrong. Trenberth is unsettled. 2. The extremes attribution to climate change is also failing, because there are indelible old newspaper accounts of past ‘extremes’ that were no different in magnitude or frequency. Simple weather records and newpaper accounts were sufficient to debunk every single example in the opening chapter of the 2014 National Climate Assessment. Essay Credibility Conundrums. Just as you expose again Trenberth’s credibility deficit.

    • Simple weather records and newspaper accounts were sufficient to debunk
      the younger generation is easily led astray. they haven’t lived through bad weather, and the modern education system guarantees they can’t read weather records or newspapers.

  4. It would have been colder if it hadn’t been warmer…. Okay, but it would have been warmer if it hadn’t been colder.

    • And it would have been different if it had not instead stayed the same…but the more things change, the more they do stay the same.
      What’s a hand waver to do?

  5. The Clausius-Clapeyron equation is used to describe *equilibrium* vapor pressures of substances, as affected by temperature.
    Everybody who believes that the earth’s atmosphere is in equilibrium raise your hands.
    …(thought so)…

    • Excellent point. Many experts have shown the oceans have yet to come into equilibrium with the atmosphere. Incorrectly assuming an existing equilibrium aliases changes driven by past climates.

      • Jim, correct me if I’m wrong (often the case) but I believe that C-C equation is an expression for the equilibrium atmospheric vapor pressure (as to water) at a given equilibrium Temperature. Somewhere I read that all thermodynamic variables can only be (validly) measured under equilibrium conditions (all at the same T).

        Prof. Will Happer of Princeton recommended C-C to me; a directive I do not take lightly.

        BUT !

        The question of ” evaporation ” of H2O from the liquid phase, is entirely a consequence of the liquid phase water Temperature (at the very surface, NOT at the ocean depths where all the heat is stored).

        Because that is the source of the impetus for Maxwell-Boltzmann tail end high KE molecules to escape the surface into the atmosphere.

        At that point the question of surface winds to remove the reaction product (H2O vapor) from the interface becomes important.

        Absent the winds, and assuming stagnant conditions, for example as in a closed space, then C-C takes control of the atmospheric condition, so that H2O molecules returning to the liquid phase equal the high KE escapees leaving the surface.

        Well that’s about how I think that through.


    • It does a good job of predicting specific humidity over oceans in the lower troposphere. Less so over land because of ‘water deficits; that of course depends on land nature land use. It also does not do a good job for the upper troposphere, where the issue is convective water vapor transport. The climate models all behave as if CP were correct throughout the atmosphere (AR4 black box 8.1) even though they usually do not include it expressly except at the surface. Radiosonde and most satellite observations suggest this is not so. The result is model overestimation of positive water vapor feedback and thus CO2 oversensitivity.

      • You raise an important point ristvan. I believe that C-C relates to the Temperature equilibrium at a liquid-vapor interface.

        In the upper atmosphere away from clouds, there isn’t any liquid phase for H2O molecules to condense on, and it would want a locally flat surface or substrate to equal the ocean surface from which the vapor escaped. In the clouds, water droplets of not too microscopic radius, would provide a substrate to grow on, and C-C might apply there under steady conditions. But who expects steady conditions in a cloud ??


    • Agreed. There is a lot more to precipitation than temperature. Pressure drops have a lot to do with how much precipitation occurs

  6. Higher average global temperatures due to higher minimum temperatures in Northern Hemisphere at winter nights looks less extreme to me.

  7. Speaking of Trenberth

    Found a global heat balance graph on Bing images. Seems to have typical W/m^2 values. (watt is power not energy) It appears to be Figure 10 of a work by Trenberth et al 2011 and includes values of eight various data sets. What is interesting is the range of variations and uncertainties. What happened to settled consensus? Several examples follow showing the eight values, average, variation from average, and highest/lowest range. (Sorry about the format, would like to copy/paste Excel/Word, .pdf, jpeg, but these text boxes don’t seem to handle that.)

    Source……………..ToA…………dev from ave.
    ERA40 (‘90s)…….343.0………….….0.9
    Ave. & band..….342.1………………2.0

    Source………..……OLR…………dev from ave.
    ERA40 (‘90s)…….245.0……….……1.1
    Ave. & band…..243.9…………….18.0

    Source……….Refl Solar… from ave.
    ERA40 (‘90s)…..105.0………………3.1
    Ave. & band….101.9……………..23.0

    Source………Latent Heat…dev from ave.
    ERA40 (‘90s)…..95.0……………….6.9
    Ave. & band. 88.1…………….16.0

    The added 2 W/m^2 RF of the CO2 between 1750 and 2011, even the 8.5 W/m^2 of RCP 8.5, are trivial compared to the magnitudes. unknowns, the uncertainties, the differences i.e. +/- ranges in these eight data bases. There are also 23 W/m^2 loose, unaccounted for, in the perpetual motion loop of surface and back radiation that I am unable to resolve.

    It doesn’t get more basic and fundamental than the following.

    1) In the earth’s enormous churning cauldron of CO2 stores and fluxes mankind’s CO2 is trivial
    2) In the earth’s chaotic heat balance CO2’s RF is trivial.
    3) The GCM’s can’t begin to model these chaotic systems.

  8. Related to TPW, is that when we talk of “global warming”, the reality is that what ever warming has occurred is much more concentrated at high latitudes, where the air is much colder & drier on average (lower TPW)

    See this link ( I won’t debate the merits of the data …. that’s a whole different post.. let’s just take it at face value for the sake of this argument):

    It is easy to see that warming is concentrated in high latitudes from this graphic and that at low latitudes, the warming is far less.

    It takes far less energy to heat cold dry air (low TPW) than it does moist warm air (high TPW). So, when we calculate a global average temp, the change is being driven by high latitude warming … and that air is easy to heat because it is already cold & dry – it doesn’t take that much energy to result in a significant change in temps. So, the resulting temp change is really from a smaller energy change than one might otherwise think.

    The AGW hypothesis is driven by the idea that CO2 re-radiates energy, increasing the energy in the system (i.e. the extra energy referenced above). However, if we are mostly heating dry cold air, the amount of energy required to do this is less than to heat warm moist air … i.e. CO2 is re-radiating less energy than one might think (or models might use) … i.e. sensitivity to CO2 is lower than stated if you were to calculate on the basis of a global average temp without normalizing for differences in moisture content.

    One has to wonder if temperature changes were normalized to “energy changes” (taking into account moisture content / heat capacity) how different this graphic would look and how less “alarming” the whole story would be. I also wonder what effect that would have on various sensitivity calculations. Undoubtedly , it would be less.

    • Jeff, Good points. The IPCC admits “In the humid equatorial regions, where there is so much water vapour in the air that the greenhouse effect is very large, adding a small additional amount of CO2 or water vapour has only a small direct impact on downward infrared radiation.”

      It is the transport of waters heated in the tropics that affects the biggest climate change and changes in solar insolation mostly via changes in clouds) have a far greater impact on heating tropical waters and how that heat is transported poleward.

      Furthermore, the increase in Arctic air temperatures is driven primarily by heat ventilating from the ocean when the Arctic Oscillation removed thick insulating ice. As Heimback and Wunsch 2015 suggested the upper 700 meters of the Arctic Ocean has lost heat (presumably due to ventilation). There is no accumulation of heat as proposed by global warming theory!

      • And all that ignores why our planet has been undergoing a million+year cycle of repeated Ice Ages with very short Interglacials! This is a very serious flaw in any ‘climate history’ projection which ignores this past tendency. The picture above in the article illustrating the present weather systems showing the West Coast as warmer than usual and the Hudson Bay/Greenland/Canada/East Coast region as very cold and this cold extending all the way to Mexico…is what Ice Age conditions were all about.

        That is, it was warmer in Alaska and humans and animals freely moved between North America and Eurasia while mile thick ice covered much of Canada and parts of America, for example. This cold area is what we must watch, not Brazil or Australia or Africa which were all barely touched by any Ice Ages.

  9. Because of the large El Nino underway, NCEP Reanalysis has total water vapour up by about 4.0% right now (January 2016).

    The ENSO is really the largest impactor of water vapour in the atmosphere (it is only the biggest weather phenomenon on the planet). It just goes up and down with the ENSO although there could be a slight trend up in water vapour, perhaps up 2.0% (but 2.0% is far lower than the 5.0%-6.0% that Clausius Clapeyron and global warming theory predicts).

    • Thanks Bill. Agreed water vapor is driven by El Nino as I wrote in part 1 and was curious how this El Nino would affect water vapor. Can you provide a link to the current water vapor estimates?

      • I should add that RSS has been using the satellites to measure water vapour as well with data going back to 1988 (note that 1988-89 was the biggest La Nina on record and thus this data point start date starts with the biggest La Nina and ends with a Super El Nino so this time period necessarily produces a huge lift over time).

        I think there is a little much variability in the RSS numbers though. To calculate percentages, 6N to 60S average water vapour is 26.6 kg/m2 while 20N to 20S average is 37.5 Kg/m2.

      • I can chart some of this up as well because i have been playing around with this for a long time.

        First, how water vapour levels vary with the ENSO (Nino 3.4 is the best measure) going back to 1948. Sorry, the ENSO is the biggest controller of tropical and global water vapour numbers that there is. I would note that Nino 3.4 has absolutely no global warming trend if you go back to the beginning of the records around 1870, so one would expect that this type of relationship could be extended way, way back in time.

        Let’s also compare the water vapour changes to temperature changes over time to see if Clausius Clapeyron relation really works as advertised. Its probably mostly correct but does it really work at the theoritical numbers. I’ve extended this over a wide range of values so that one can really feel what the CC relation is saying (and what global warming theory really expects to happen with water vapour). This is crucial to the 3.0C per doubling of CO2 theory because half of the 3.0C, or 1.5C comes from the extra temperature lift caused by water vapour increasing at 7.0% per 1.0C change in temperatures.

        Now we’ll just zoom-in on the above chart so you can see it closer. Water vapour is only increasing at 2.3% per 1.0C compared to Hadcrut4. So either the CC relation is wrong or Hadcrut4 has been adjusted beyond what it really was. Either that or the CC relation is wrong and it is really the Nino 3.4 which controls water vapour at a higher level than just temps by themselves. I believe all three of those explanations are correct. If we drop water vapour feedback to 2.3% per 1.0C change in temps instead of 7.0% per 1.0C as per the CC relation, global warming math drops to 1.45C per doubling (I built a calculation model for this as well. Drop cloud feedback to Zero as well and global warming drops to 1.2C per doubling. Now we see why there is so much adjustment to the basic data).

      • Bill,

        Superb work! FYI I always pay close attention to your posts.If only Trenberth exhibited the same dedication to the truth!

        That said I am surprised that recent pulse of increased water vapor exceeds 1997/98.

      • And that 7% per deg. C change in water vapor is an astronomically large negative cloud feedback, blocking or adding sunlight, and so regulating earth’s Temperature.


      • I agree George. Assuming constant insolation above the atmosphere, an increase in cloud cover barters increased LWIR residence time from the surface, for decreased SW residence time no longer entering the GHL (greenhouse liquid) oceans . Residence time wins. SW energy not reaching the long (days, weeks months years decades and centuries) residence time oceans, outweighs keeping a little LWIR energy in the atmosphere just a bit longer.

      • Well, the numbers say that the 2015-16 Super El Nino was one of the biggest on record, even larger than the 1997-98 Super El Nino. 2015-16 probably rivals the biggest El Nino in history, 1877-78, which saw global temperatures rise by 0.7C above the background temps of the time.

        So water vapour would be expected to rise accordingly. There are some larger water vapour numbers in the NCEP Reanalysis dataset but not in the RSS dataset.

        Temperatures from the 2015-16 El Nino are likely peaking right about now so I imagine, February 2016 water vapour estimates will be even higher than they have been to date.

      • jim Steele said, That said I am surprised that recent pulse of increased water vapor exceeds 1997/98.

        Jim, I don’t think it does. The peak is higher, yes, but it started from higher, too. 1996/97 was a lot lower than 2014. My eyeball says the difference is greater.

      • Bill , thanks for the graphs.

        Water vapour is only increasing at 2.3% per 1.0C compared to Hadcrut4. So either the CC relation is wrong or Hadcrut4 has been adjusted beyond what it really was.

        re graph 2, the CRUT part of hadCRUFT probably has UHI, but the main problem is that all these land + sea “average temps” are not physically meaningful. They will bias the ‘global average’ towards the warmer land temps of the NH.

        Someone needs to get the basic physics right and stop adding temperatures: it is not physically meaningful, especially across different media.

        Land temps need to be downscaled by about a factor or 2, as proposed in that article. What does your graph look like using SST instead of land+sea. ( That’s not really right either but it would be less wrong. ).

      • Also in your third graph you are doing an invalid OLS with error laden data in the ordinate. This will underestimate the slope.

        This is very widely committed error. You’re in good company ;)

        If you did the same graph using SST and avoid doing OLS it would probably still make the point but be technically more justifiable.

        You could also try bounding the regression dilution error by doing the regression with the axes reversed. That would err in the other direction and probably still be below CC line.

        This regression dilution error is one reason by climate sensitivity gets over-estimated from linear regressions of dRad against dT . The slope is the inverse of CS ; lower slope: greater CS.

      • I also read all of Bill Illis’ posts. George Smith’s, too (even the ones about dry ice precipitating ☺).

        There is more real climate science in this thread than in all of the IPCC’s output. Kudos to Jim Steele and all the other knowledgeable commenters here.

        If Trenberth had any sense he would talk to folks here, instead of promoting his strange ideas — which are contradicted by the real world.

  10. Does this mean that TPW is actually a better measure of global temperature? or used in conjunction with Sat data shows the pause or slight decrease in global temps?

    • Scott, I would not want to say its a better measure because an El Nino event pumps a lot of moisture into the atmosphere, El Nino events also increase the global average temperature but regards using the global average as a metric of heat accumulation, a temporary rise in temperature or water vapor is not meaningful.

      That said, the lack of a global water vapor trend presents a constraint on calculated global temperatures. I would simply argue the lack of a water vapor trend is consistent with a hiatus in global warming.

  11. The best kind of scientific evidence we have for an impending Climate Catastrophe is Propaganda and Hyperbole – and it is abundant.

  12. When it comes to climate change then northern North America is one of the most interesting areas on the planet. Because as the past has shown this is a part of the world where climate cooling can go extreme.

  13. Accordingly the National Snow and Ice Data Center experts tell us, “While it can be too warm to snow, it cannot be too cold to snow. Snow can occur even at incredibly low temperatures as long as there is some source of moisture and some way to lift or cool the air”.

    That’s the theory. In practical terms, the coldest places I have been have had very little snow.

    • Agreed. The dry valleys of Antarctic are a superb example. But there are 2 parts to the theory. 1) It must be cold enough to snow and 2) there must be a supply of moisture. It will still snow in extreme cold if there is a supply of moisture. Although cold can wring the moisture from the air, there have been massive depositions of snow in east Antarctica despite extreme cold due to the delivery of moisture via atmospheric rivers.

      The problem is Trenberth falsely generalizes that it can be too cold to snow and then deceptively advocates global warming is raising temperatures to the “Goldilocks temperature of 32F”, allowing for more snow in order to link global warming to snowfall extremes.

      • Let’s accept global warming for a second. That means the Goldilocks Temperature will shift northward. That means the big snow dumps will move northward. That means that areas that formerly got big snow dumps will no longer get them. That sounds like good news for D.C. and bad news for Newfoundland and North Dakota won’t get any more snow no matter what happens to the temperature. LOL

      • Well I am quite sure that the porridge that Goldilocks chose to eat, was not at 32 deg. F, and the pog was the only reference to Temperature.

        As for the bed, she got into one that she could. Likewise life evolved where it could. No magic about the Temperature. Life has evolved and adapted to a huge range of Temperatures on earth. Probably other life forms could tolerate a much greater range.

        Now if a thousand Goldiloxes got into a variety of beds, and ate a variety of meals, you could possibly make some case.

        But it only happened once, so all we know is that is could; not that it should.


    • Here in the Northeast, when it is below zero we only get ‘dry ice snow’ that sparkles and is very light. The thick snow comes when warm and cold air are clashing, near 32 degrees F.


    The 41-year-old actor again highlighted his experience of a sudden change in temperature and loss of snow while filming The Revenant in southern Alberta as evidence of a warming globe.

    The key word here is “again”.
    After the general hilarity that ensued his first blunder, Di Caprio’s handlers must have told him he made quite a basic mistake. So to see this 41 y old multi millionaire once again tell the world such a blatant idiotic line means that either he is an idiot or he is a dishonest advocate, for whom everything, or anything, is good to advance his proselytism, regardless of truth.

    • Well you have to hand it to the airhead.
      “The politics of greed”
      as opposed to the Practise of Greed, which he personifies?

      This is the problem with the Cult of Calamitous Climate, it is not easy to parody them.
      They mock themselves too mercilessly.

    • Well anybody who would sit astride a railing on an ocean going ship going full speed, is just asking to get dunked. And anyone who would act the part is dumb by definition.


      I forget what movie that was; I never saw it. He ain’t any Howard Hughes either.

  15. Although Dr. Trenberth is dead wrong in both his conclusions and his advocacy his actual argument here makes sense. Basically the facial argument is that natural variability will, in the context of a strong linear trend, appear to produce more extremes than it would otherwise. (e.g. peaks + 0 = peaks; but peaks+ trend = new records). More subtly (and he never says it) he’s arguing that making snow releases about 80 times more energy per unit of mass than making rain, and the reverse happens when that snow turns back into water. Thus when the ice packs are building, the atmosphere as a whole gains energy, and when the ice melts (as he assumes it is now) it gains it.

    The precip and temp data we have does not show this due to intervening issues, but it is correct (even if he does have to put the cart before the horse to get his argument to work)

    • Paul you are conflating a few issues. Regards a peak [due natural oscillations] + a trend equals new records, that certainly makes sense on the surface. There are however several problems. How much of that short term trend is due to the natural oscillation. How meaningful Is the difference of a new record by less than an inch of snow, when snowfall varies greatly within a 100 km radius. Whether or not Trenberth’s assumptions are correct depends on how well he separates the confounding factors that drive blizzards that I illustrated in the essay.

  16. “It’s warm because it’s warmer. It’s colder because it’s warmer. It snows because it’s warmer. It’s…etc. etc.”
    They think they’ve set the hook that whatever happens, Man caused it and a few of the enlightened can fix it. All they need is more money and more control of …..

  17. I had a humorous vision of Trenberth at the Pearly Gates.
    He is busy explaining how sins are really evidence of doing more good deeds.

    • …Thanks Myron, now I have beer dripping off of my Flat screen ! I don’t care much about the Flat screen, but I really wanted that beer !

    Each method shows that, on average, water vapour contributes approximately 96% of current greenhouse gas warming. Thus, the factors controlling the amount of water vapour in the air also control the earth’s temperature.

    TOTAL BACK RADIATION OF ALL GHG Figure 7 is FAQ 1.1 Figure 1 from page 96 of AR4. It shows the radiation balance for the earth and that the back radiation of all of the greenhouse gases is 324 W m-2. This is the value used to calculate the RF [radiative forcing] of CO2 at 378 ppmv as (8.67/324)/100 = 2.7% back radiation of the total of all of the greenhouse gases.

    From Table 1, CO2 accounts for 2.7% of the global warming while all of the other gases account for approximately 0.7% for a total of approximately 3.4%. It becomes evident that, on average, water vapour accounts for approximately 96% of the current global [greenhouse effect] warming. This is an important finding because it leads to the conclusion that the factors controlling the average level of water vapour in the atmosphere also control atmospheric temperature.

    [O]n average, each molecule of CO2 is surrounded by approximately 23 molecules of water vapour at ground level. … If the warming effect of water molecules and CO2 molecules were the same, then the contribution of CO2 would be (1/22.7) = 4.4% of that of water vapour. But from the previous section, water molecules are 1.6 times more effective at warming than CO2 molecules. Using this value and the ratio of 22.7:1, the contribution of CO2 to warming of the atmosphere is approximately (1/22.7)/1.6 = 2.8% of that of water vapour. As water vapour is approximately 96% of the total RF of all of the GHG, the contribution of CO2 is approximately 4% less than this, i.e., 2.69%. If the average RH were 60%, the contribution of CO2 would be ((1/27.4)/1.32) x 0.96 = 2.65%. For practical purposes, these values are the same as the 2.7% obtained by the quadratic model.

  19. @ Jim Steele, enjoying your input and blog Jim, thanks for sci-perspective.

    My view is anyone comparing/conflating modern (post 1860) met records and Sat records with an actual climate change trend is already indicating they are a crank, and not discussing climate at all, and don’t even know it (for the most part).

    Modern ‘greenhouse-gas-change’ is primarily a combination of urban thermal difference, sensor location and data fiddling to frighten the children, and conceited propaganda specifically designed to frighten the children.

    Take that away and it’s all phantom, a bunch of hooks for the mind to snag on, set by actual misanthropes. Let alone there being residual observations of ‘anthropogenic’ artefacts, as opposed to natural transient or cycle, during the past 150 years.

    150 years is simply too short to depict a climate trend from data, the planet’s climate changing dynamics operates on a scale that is an order of magnitude larger, if you want to produce an actual honest to goodness planetary climate change trend.

    All this other stuff we wade through is on the wrong scale for climate change, it is just the to and fro of weather cycles. Until that is faced up to, this climate change circus, coming from met department and satellites … will go on … and on.

    And still be just as irrelevant to actual planetary climate change trend at the end of another 100 years of it.

    I note the enduring conspicuous lack of desire to broach and face that fact, from just about anyone, in either camp.


  20. “Old school” scientists seek to understand causes of extreme events by examining changes in atmospheric circulation and other contributing weather dynamics. In contrast Trenberth does not want scientists to use the standard null hypothesis to test if CO2 warming was a contributing factor. He simply assumes CO2 …

    This is the problem with most of the modern “post-normal” so-called science. The “scientists” proceeds from his biased conclusion (fantasy) to write a paper that just assumes things. The old saying that an assumption makes a ass of you and me applies here.

    Science without the proper null hypothesis is not science at all. Science with post hoc rationalizations of the data (or, God forbid, changing the data to fit) is not science at all.

  21. “In 2011 Chris Mooney writing for the DeSmog blog noted heavy snowfall had become a “communications nightmare” for global warming theory”

    Calling this BS a theory is disingenuous and an assault on the scientific method. In no other field of science can a hypothesis be so thoroughly falsified and yet still be referred to as a ‘theory’.

  22. This statement is just plain stupid. (it’s not Jim’s. He merely quoted it.)

    Based on Argo data a consensus of scientists reported heat content in the upper 300 meters of the ocean had “increased from 1984 to 1992 followed by a short cooling episode in 1992/93, and then increased from 1994 to 2003/2004, followed by flattening or a decrease.”

    Argo does NOT create a statistically valid representative sample of the the world’s oceans or their respective temperatures at any depth. The floats are carried by currents, and their data must be considered biased by those currents and the forces that push them. We don’t know how to correct for that, we can only guess at what samples are being missed.

    And any consensus built upon a non-representative statistical sample is a consensus of fools.

  23. If the fall snow extent graph is a proxy for an ocean oscillation, then I must wonder if there is an oscillation with an even lower frequency than PDO, impacting snow extent.

  24. Paraphrased from a well known warming advocates web site in response to comments regarding one of his papers: I have been accused of ignoring conflicting data. Given that the theory is so obviously true I am justified in ignoring such erroneous data.

    That was subsequently deleted from the web site.

  25. IIRC, the fact that about 50% of climate models said drought would increase and 50% said it would decrease in the future is really evidence that these folks don’t have the temperature/humidity/precipitation/distribution question anywhere near sorted out. Another great essay Jim.

  26. Re: George E. Smith discussion: Wentz’s 2007 result is independently confirmed with salinity data, showing that the models were under representing the freshening of the oceans due to continental runoff. I wonder if it is still a factor of two or three?

    “This rate is double the response projected by current-generation climate models and suggests that a substantial (16 to 24%) intensification of the global water cycle will occur in a future 2° to 3° warmer world.”

    More good climate news for a thirsty world!

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