NASA Admits Substantial Climate Uncertainties


Guest essay by Eric Worrall

NASA has appealed to the Australian CSIRO not to fire lots of climate scientists, because they are doing “important work”, resolving significant uncertainties in climate modelling.

‘Dismay’: NASA scientist appeals to CSIRO not to cut global climate efforts

A top scientist from US space agency NASA has appealed to CSIRO to abandon plans to cut a key monitoring program that it says will undermine Australia and the world’s ability to monitor and predict climate change.

Brent Holben, the project scientist in charge of NASA’s Aerosol Robotic Network, urged CSIRO to reconsider any plans it had to cut or withdraw its contribution to the program, according to a letter obtained by Fairfax Media.

“I understand that CSIRO is undertaking a major restructuring that may lead to the closure of AeroSpan [CSIRO’s partner program],” Dr Holben wrote in the letter addressed to Alex Wonhas, a senior CSIRO executive, and dated May 1, 2016.

“The purpose of this letter is to express my dismay about this, on behalf of NASA and the global aerosol community,” he said.

Understanding aerosols – the distribution and character of airborne particles and clouds – “represent the single greatest source of uncertainty in climate simulations”, Dr Holben said.

The NASA letter said measurements of aerosols were “a fundamental component of climate predictions on both regional and global scales”.

Read more:

In my opinion climate scientists can’t have it both ways.

If aerosols are an important but poorly understood component of the climate system, then climate modellers do not have the ability to forecast global climate – the science is not settled.

If poor understanding of aerosols does not have a significant impact on climate forecasts, then they are not that important.


135 thoughts on “NASA Admits Substantial Climate Uncertainties

  1. If the science is settled, and everyone is so sure the world is going to end, no need for hundreds of climate scientists. Suddenly, the science is no longer settled, and more scientists are needed.

    NASA Seems to have discovered something that moves faster than the speed of light: Goalposts.

    • philipcolet May 13, 2016 at 3:34 am

      “NASA Seems to have discovered something that moves faster than the speed of light: Goalposts.

      [big grin] +many

      (Note that rushing to the bank to deposit grant checks approaches the speed of light, whereas checks from Big Oil to skeptics have been “in the mail” for years and with luck, will be delivered before the next glaciation.)

    • But our President Obama told us the science is settled and there is no more debate…. and we are headed towards a global climate catastrophe unless we take immediate action now.
      And my 7 year old 2nd grade granddaughter told me her school teacher taught her and showed her a movie all about global warming and that 97% of scientists believe it is due to human emissions of CO2 …
      It is in the Common Core program (quoting below):

      Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science

      Guiding Principle: Humans can take actions to reduce climate change and its impacts

      o Continuing to improve scientific understanding of the climate system and the quality of reports to policy and decision-makers is crucial.
      o Climate change affects the security of nations. Reduced availability of water, food, and land can lead to competition and conflict among humans, potentially resulting in large groups of climate refugees.
      o Humans can mitigate against climate change by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations through processes that move carbon out of the atmosphere or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
      o The most immediate strategy is conservation of oil, gas, and coal, which we rely on as fuels for most of our transportation, heating, cooling, agriculture, and electricity. Short-term strategies involve switching from carbon-intensive to renewable energy sources, which also requires building new infrastructure for alternative energy sources.
      o Longer-term strategies involve innovative research and a fundamental change in the way humans use energy.
      o Humans can adapt to climate change by reducing their vulnerability to its impacts: moving to higher ground to avoid rising sea levels; planting new crops that will thrive under new climate conditions; and using new technologies for buildings are examples.
      o Natural processes that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere operate slowly when compared to the processes that are now adding it to the atmosphere. Thus, carbon dioxide introduced into the atmosphere today may remain there for a century or more. Other greenhouse gases, including some created by humans, may remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years.


      o If Earth’s global mean temperature continues to rise due to human emissions of CO2, the lives of humans and other organisms will be affected in many ways. Human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major effects on land, vegetation, streams, oceans, air and even outer space. Individuals and communities are doing things to help protect Earth’s resources and environments.


      o Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of many other species. Typically, as human populations and per-capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do the negative impacts on Earth unless the activities and technologies involved are engineered otherwise. (Core Idea: Earth and Space Science 3.C)
      o Human activities, especially release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). (Core Idea: Earth and Space Science 3.D)


      o Anthropogenic changes (induced by human activity) in the environment – including habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, overexploitation, and climate change – can disrupt an ecosystem and threaten the survival of some species (Core Idea: Life Science 2.C)
      o Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations thereby affecting the climate. (Core Idea: Life Science 2.D)
      o Scientists and engineers can make major contributions-for example, by developing technologies that produce less pollution and waste and that preclude ecosystem degradation.
      o When the source of an environmental problem is understood…human activities can be regulated to mitigate global impacts (as was done for “acid rain” and the ozone hole near Antarctica. (Core Idea: Earth and Space Science 3.C)
      o Both physical models and computers can be used in various ways to aid in the engineering design process. (Core Idea: Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science, ETS 1.B)

  2. The government climate scientists have rationalized that their work is so important to the future of mankind that money should not be a consideration. Plus the pay is pretty good in the meantime (better than they’d make outside of government)

  3. Strange, cloud forming aerosol studies is the one area they should keep open ! Why not close all the other ones first…

  4. I think this tweet is supposed to show how good CMIP5 models look right now:

    Forget the fact that the reason models look better again right now is that we are near the top of a probably short-lived El Niño warming event: What this graphic first and foremost shows me, is that models are ridiculously over sensitive to volcano aerosols.

      • El Nino deoesn’t fix the diversions, you will find models are usualy brought close to temps.

        The alarm was oooh several degrees c a decade, and they have lowered that to 1.5 to 4 per doubling.

        This nonsense has been slowly edging towards observations intentionally to retain relevance

        if the claims were all 1990 claims, the movement would be destroyed, they bank on no one remembering each pre revisionism change of the claims.

        They must keep models near observation and I have no doubt it is a fudged effort posing as modeling.

      • Any “scientist” can retune a model so that past results will better simulate actual history. The question is which of the incorrect parameters or algorithms or equations were modified to achieve that result? And whatever they did change to fudge it, it doesn’t mean that the model is now correct. The models are still wrong and will always be until weather and climate are completely understood and can be accurately simulated in full.

      • Chris writes: “The models are still wrong and will always be until weather and climate are completely understood and can be accurately simulated in full.”

        I understand your criticism, and I think the conditions you mention can’t ever be met. I don’t believe climate models can ever succeed.

        If we were able to build machines fast enough, and we were able to overcome the (current) impossibility of simultaneously solving systems of partial differentials uniquely (“quantum computing” anyone?) and we were able to identify every factor effecting climate behavior, I believe uncertainty and the entirely probabilistic (i.e. non-deterministic) nature of thermodynamic systems would still prevent us from producing accurate long term predictions. I expect we would be able to produce accurate “possibilities”, perhaps even make multiple runs of the model to develop an understanding of the “most likely” future, but I don’t believe it will ever be possible to predict the distant (or even medium term) future state of a complex thermodynamic system with any real accuracy.

        When we can accurately predict the ending composition of two gasses mixed at a known initial temperature and pressure at some final temperature and pressure, in an enclosed vessel, we can begin thinking about the really hard problems. Until that happens climate modeling is pure research and shouldn’t play any role at all in public policy decisions.

        It’s my opinion that the people involved in the field currently aren’t qualified. Certainly not the ones making fools of themselves in public these days.

    • This is RCP 4.5 which is the 2nd to the lowest prediction. There is also a RCP6 and RCP8.5 (the doomsday fake “business as usual” scenario). So this would be showing that even with the current El nino related temperatures, a good fit is to a less than catastrophic scenario.

      The 4.5 scenario predicts a mean expected temp. increase of ~1.8 C by 2100.

      • The only difference between the four prediction scenarios is how far in the future GHG emissions will peak and then begin to decline. I can’t see how it matters which scenario is used when comparing model temps to actual temps right now, since all scenarios have essentially the same emissions experienced to date (maybe small differences in the last couple years). It’s only in the future that they should diverge.

      • Might I point out we should have bought Polaroid stock way back when and sold at the top, tom? (Hey, you’re right! Predicting the past is easy.)

      • Predicting the past is easy, predicting the future is hard.

        The way the past keeps changing it may not be as easy as you think.

      • @GregF makes a good point.
        AGW “theory” has not only succeeded in toppling the laws of thermodynamics (apparent heat flow without a change in temperature) but has also undermined the fundamental tenets of all physical systems, by showing that information need not be preserved. So it’s goodbye Liouville’s theorem – goodbye statistical mechanics, goodbye unitarity – goodbye quantum mechanics. The only solid, settled science we have left is climate “science”. We can but pray for deliverance!

    • Well, first and foremost to me is that is shows we do a pretty bad job of forecasting the Victorian era, and we can expect worse accuracy in the future.

    • El Nino can’t be used though because it’s cherry picking to start graphs in 1998 when there was an El Nino. So we can’t draw any conclusions right now because otherwise those climate guys would be guilty of cherry picking to prove their points.

    • Gareth S 11:21 AM You are quite correct about the volcanic sensitivity. As I understand it, the models require that high sensitivity to volcanic aerosols because they need those negative jogs to keep the models somewhere close to “observed” trends when they do the hindcasting. Hindcasting, of course, is very important in that it demonstrates the validity of the modelling process.

      But – since past volcanic events are so necessary to keep the models on track – where are the volcanoes in the future model predictions (sorry, projections)?

      Are we being asked to believe that the demon CO2 now has another, event more remarkable power – it can stop the earth’s internal processes? Or (more likely) are the warming proponents hoping that nobody notices?

      Or (third possibility that has just occurred to me, requiring a level of advance planning and cynical forethought that – if it’s true – almost makes me admire them) are future volcanic eruptions being kept as emergency devices to tweak the model results when future warming doesn’t keep up with model predictions (sorry, projections)?

      • I appears from the chart in the SPM [as shown below – Nick Stokes May 13, 2016 at 5:10 am] that IPCC is ignoring Volcanoes. At least I can fin nothing for them other than the accounting for the individual emissions. That chart also begs the question “Where is the accounting for water vapor, ice crystals, water droplets, and the other phases of water? ” The chart seems to have a small fuzzy solid band for “all” Aerosols with a large fuzzy band for confidence in this number. Yet they claim the science is settled. I also have trouble finding the accounting for the natural warming of the earth from the end of the LIA or the accounting of the natural heating caused by the core.

      • ” IPCC is ignoring Volcanoes”
        It’s a chart of anthropogenic forcing. But for other factors, what is relevant is the change. And there is no evidence to believe that volcanoes are increasing, nor other kinds of natural heating.

    • The models are still wrong and will always be until weather and climate are completely understood and can be accurately simulated in full.
      the future cannot be known outside of a probability. no matter how accurate your simulation.

      • Every moment in time is unique. That makes all predictions of the future impossible because it has never happened before. All one can say is that future moments can be similar to ones in the past.

      • “In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. ”

        IPCC, TAR 2001, WG1, Section

    • I wonder why as our ability to measure temperatures improved…the CMIP spread got larger??? :)

  5. Sorry guys, the gravy train has been derailed ,time to look for a real job.
    Although ex-climate scientist might not qualify for much.
    Dog catching maybe ?

  6. Settled science hey? Deceiving liars – and that is being complimentary. These arrogant charlatans now deserve every single barb that is directed at them. My conclusion is that they have been receiving cheques from big green.

  7. A long time ago this organisation did valuable research for industry and farming, now it is just another fat cow organisation sucking at the taxpayer teat. More than half of it needs to be abandoned an some new real goals set, with good scientists.

  8. It used to be, a long time ago, that the US Govt. knew that getting involved in the internal affairs of other countries, particularly allies, was very poor form.

    • Didn’t stop President Obama to tell the Brits not to leave the EU. (a.k.a. the EUSSR)

  9. After decades of research, they still can’t tell what the impact from aerosols is?

    Surely, somebody has measured this by now (and yes there are dozens of stations ans satellites measuring this every hour around the whole world).

    And this is the problem with climate science. They NEVER resolve anything. There is a 100,000 scientists packed into a single room all bouncing off each other like billiard balls all collecting a paycheck never resolving anything.

    The whole science is still based on Hansen’s proposals from 1979 or Manabe’s from 1968. They have not progressed by measuring and resolving anything. It is still CO2 is a GHG, doubling causes 1.1C temperature increase and then feedbacks triple the impact so that it is 3.0C per doubling.

    They are not going to reach any scientific facts until the funding is cut-off.

    • After decades of research, they still can’t tell what the impact from aerosols is?

      waving the audience to stand up and listen to the holy words

      There is a significant risk the global temperatures rise 2-6 K during this century, of which the scientists agree 97%. Thus, the science is settled with the mean of 3 K. However, it might be the risks are poorly understood and that the situation is worse. Thus we need funds so that we can estimate the amount of ice loss in Greenland, Antarctica between 2050-2400. Aerosols, hurricanes need more scientific research, as well as establishing new energy policy and carbon taxes.

      You may sit down

      Of course, I’m just in risk denial, because I don’t understand how deeply our landscape may change putting our very existence in question. We need drastic changes: communism, government driven birth control, shutdown of factories, huge investment in solar and wind, and of course, climate justice.

      Lets start by continuing everything as before, but trying to use all this to get more power and more taxes. The system is not perfect until taxes are at least healthy 50% of the western economy.

      • Our landscapes are going to change because much of the Northern Hemisphere is going to be under 1 – 2 Kilometers of ice. The only question is – how soon?

  10. Just to clarify if I understand the argument, the proposition is that believing that climate sensitivity is very likely in the range 1.5 – 4.5C with a most likely value of 3C is inconsistent with believing that more research in to climate is an important priority.

    I’m not asking if readers or the original poster believe that climate sensitivity*is* very likely in the range 1.5 – 4.5C with a most likely value of 3C or if they believe that that more research in to climate *is* an important priority. I’m asking about consistency.

    To put it another way, for someone who has arrived at the conclusion that climate sensitivity is very likely in the range 1.5 – 4.5C with a most likely value of 3C, what beliefs about the importance of further research would be consistent?

    • JK, the refutation isn’t against the science, but the propaganda. Anyone can tell that more research is useful. However, a lot of people have been arguing for years that there’s nothing to research and no uncertainties. “The science is settled”. Extremely accurate predictions of the effects routinely come from on high. However, this goes directly against the enormous research budgets into atmospheric science. If the science truly were settled, these funds would go to other areas, such as energy research or biology studies.

      It’s a bit of sophistry. Not to my liking, personally, but I see the merits of the argument.

      • Other ben,

        I know a lot of things get garbled in the reporting of science by the media (and by WUWT), but from the inside this is not what is going on. There is plenty of stuff left to research after you’ve answered the big question of ‘in general is doubling or tripling the level of certain gases in the atmosphere a bad idea’.

        Anyway, the amount of money going to actual climate research (modelling) is negligible compared to finding going into new energy sources etc. ( Or defence research for that matter).

        The obesssion WUWT has with grant money going towards climate modelling research says more about WUWT than that it is a relevant amount of money, on a global scale.


      • Other Ben, I didn’t say I agreed. I was just trying to explain the reasoning.

        On the other hand, the idea that it’s an enormous travesty, even a violation of the Paris treaty, to reduce the funding for a research project, irks me. These are things that have been outright claimed in the media. There are many things that should be researched, and funds are limited. You can’t set this up as a sacred cow.

        And as for grant money. Again, this is a defensive position. The emphasis on the cash has been from the other side from the get-go. “Oil-supported climate denial” has been a meme since I was in high school. Soon was investigated and thrown under the rug for “conflicts of interest” that were clearly within his contract. Gleick committed federal crimes to acquire the Heartland Institute’s donor list. Exxon is under investigation for racketeering because of funds they gave to political groups. The primary counterpoint is simply that there is no money for “climate denial”. Tens of billions are spent annually on ads and political messaging by the worlds’ governments. Hundreds of billions are spent on research or subsidies directly or indirectly linked to climate change. Out of these, supporting the political consensus is a mandate for obtaining money. The money on modeling is simply so obvious because it has little to no actual value and is being duplicated in many places planetwide.

        That being said, I do not think it is wise to fight fire with fire here. Bad arguments beget bad arguments only. That was why I called this article “sophistry”. No one has ever been convinced by their opposition deliberately twisting their ideas.

      • Good points :)

        But as said elsewhere (and in the NASA message itself), the CSIRO is especially relevant because they are in charge of gathering the climate and weather related data for a lot of the southern hemisphere, so cutting specifically their grant money is very damaging to a lot of science (not just climate change). If another group gets axed nobody would care. They closed a climate research centre here at my university (Yale) and honestly, nobody cared except a couple of students that got into trouble with their course work.

        Also, the modelling as actually done by scientists is really quite useful and good. It’s just that when their results are reported by the media it’s completely twisted out of proportion. There is a very big disconnect between how science is done and how science is reported, but you don’t solve that by cutting funding to science. Rather, journalists should do their job better (including the folks here at WUWT).

        This is a funny but incredibly accurate overview of what goes wrong:


      • benben,

        It’s not peanuts, and the results become propaganda. They are a huge part of the messages of impending catastrophe. Who cares if the monetary investment In climate modeling pales in comparison to defense R&D or finding new energy resources? Who brought those up? Speaking of garbling…sounds like that’s what you came here to do.

    • OK, I will give a shot:
      What is (or should be) the priority of ClimateScience! research?

      Answer A:
      “proposition is that believing that climate sensitivity is very likely in the range 1.5 – 4.5C”
      The science is settled, the questions now are about public policy. But that is not your question.
      Research Priority: 0

      Answer B:
      The reality is 4.5 C.
      The more we know, the sooner we can plan for the changes.
      Research Priority: Low, some research needed, but is is not some war against the killer apocalypse.
      The reality is 1.5 C.
      No Big Deal. Can we all go home now?
      Research Priority: 0

      Answer C:
      The climate will do what it will do, either with or without our help. In terms of people’s lives, the change (if any) will be relatively slow. People will adapt. Any dollar spent now on research, will not be available later when it is needed for adaptation, which would be horrible Public Policy.
      Research Priority: 0

      Answer D:
      ClimateScience! has been Famously, Fabulously, Spectacularly wrong about Everything for the last 30 Years. Enough Is Enough.
      We have real problems to solve. Some are hard, some just need attention.
      First World Problems: Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease.
      Third World Problems: Malaria, Fresh Water, Malnutrition
      Research Priority: 0

      I am sure others can expand and expound on my humble effort here.

  11. The ‘model ensemble’ really boils my piss. To me it
    just an efficient way to show just how wrong nearly all of
    the models are. Hiding the individual model tracks and
    using the so-called spread with pseudo statistical
    terminology (the 95% spread often gets conflated with
    a confidence limit) adds to the obfuscation.

    I think I’ll use the ensemble method next time I play darts
    or try archery.

  12. “Understanding aerosols – the distribution and character of airborne particles and clouds – “represent the single greatest source of uncertainty in climate simulations”, Dr Holben said.”

    No “admission” there. It’s been upfront in the basic diagram of each recent SPM. Here’s AR5 SPM.5:

    It’s very clear that aerosols are the “single greatest source of uncertainty”.

      • “And where is H2O on that chart?”
        This is a chart of drivers. Water can’t be a driver, because precipitation enforces stasis. If you try to put a whole lot of wv in the air, as we do with CO2, you’ll get rain, not warming.

      • Oh but Nick, we put MANY times as much water vapour into the air than we do CO2.

        And it DOESN’T cause rain.

      • If precipitation enforced stasis then water would be known as a temperature moderator and therefore dampens all other forcings. But obviously nick is lying because everyone knows water triples the effect of co2 and as such is a direct cause of forcing.

        What’s wrong, Nick? You wanted water to change its physics randomly so that your PlayStation models would work right?

        Sorry, does not work like that in the real world where changes are dampened by water on a water planet. Try studying water for a change and stop changing waters properties to multiply the effect.

        30 years of this very basic and huge error over water and still to this day you have nick et al engaging in sophistry over aerosols.

    • It’s very clear that aerosols are the “single greatest source of uncertainty”.
      only by ignoring the elephant in the china shop. where is the effect of H2O in AR5 SPM.5:? Nowhere does H2O appear in the emitted gases.

      Human activity definitely releases H2O, but this is ignored, without considering that H2O affects cloud formation which has a huge effect on climate.

      • You see there is no environmentalism in preventing water vapor, nor is there anything we can really do about it. You chant build a church around preventing water evaporating, the world would look at you like you are batsh!t mental.

        But slap a bit of pseudo science together, change history and boom Religion.

      • “Human activity definitely releases H2O”
        The sea evaporates about 500,000 Gtons of water every year. It all precipitates. Nothing we emit could possibly compete with that. We emit about 30 Gtons CO2 pa. Water is important, but we can’t change it. CO2 we can and do change.

      • Nick,

        If humans don’t change H2O levels, then the absolute most that an anthropogenic doubling of CO2 could warm the atmosphere would be 1.2 degrees C.

      • Bye Doom,
        We can’t force wv increase by emission. If the atmosphere warms, for any reason, it can hold more wv. That is the distinction between operating as a feedback, not a forcing.

      • “Nick Stokes
        May 13, 2016 at 1:00 pm

        “Human activity definitely releases H2O”
        The sea evaporates about 500,000 Gtons of water every year. It all precipitates. Nothing we emit could possibly compete with that. We emit about 30 Gtons CO2 pa. Water is important, but we can’t change it. CO2 we can and do change.”

        500 Gtons, how sure are you of that figure? Especially given how dynamic the value would be in any given hour?

        We emit Gtons pa, how much does nature produce pa? That is a very important question that has no real answer, just more ball parking figures.

        You cant do anything about vapor or natural CO2.

        You have no idea what actual % of total CO2 growth pa is humans, just estimations based on assumption, ie the growth is human emissions. Then Assume the temperature increase is CO2

        That’s a fair bit of assuming lad. You have a lot of “faith” in some aspects Nick.

      • “500 Gtons, how sure are you of that figure?”
        500,000. Earth area 5e14 m^2, ave precipitation, about 1 m.

        ” how much does nature produce pa?”
        500,000 Gtons

        “You have no idea what actual % of total CO2 growth pa is humans”
        Yes, we have.

      • The sea evaporates about 500,000 Gtons of water every year. It all precipitates. Nothing we emit could possibly compete with that. We emit about 30 Gtons CO2 pa.
        Nature also emits WAY more CO2 than humans. And according to Cliamte Science Belief, this is all returned to nature every year. And nothing we emit could possibly compete with that either.

        So on all points, there is no difference between CO2 and H2O, except that of the two, H2O is BY FAR the dominant GHG.

        And yet the IPCC ignores H2O. Why? Because it would dwarf all other numbers, showing how ridiculous this obsession with CO2 actually is.

      • “And nothing we emit could possibly compete with that either.”
        The natural cycling of CO2 is about 500 Gt/yr. Our 30 Gt/yr is less, but competes because it is cumulative, whereas the other is just recycling the same C. But even if we could put water cumulatively in the air (we can’t, except via warming), there are three orders of magnitude difference there.

    • It’s very clear the whole enterprise is very uncertain, not just aerosols which have been fudged in models for a decade, and at different levels in different models.

      Stack up all the uncertainty and the last 130 years of temperature record is not something reliable.

      Oh and “highly uncertainty” means “of no scientific usefulness”.

      Those are all estimated calculations, they are not the real world either. It’s nothing but ball parking

    • and I am fine with ball parking if it is the best we can do Nick, but not when you try use that to control my life, or make ANY scientific claims based off of this ball parking.

      You’d better serve humanity by persuading people CO2 doesn’t burn Boreal forests and that scenarios based on RCP 8.5 are not anything to do with science or CO2

    • Here is a slightly different presentation of the radiative forcing data presented by Nick..

      This time including the feedbacks expected from water vapour, clouds, ice-albedo etc. And for an important reason, also inlcuding a massive negative radiative feedback which offsets all of that. Effectively, the feedbacks expected are just not showing up and there is another feedback which they have started to finally recognize (the Planck Feedback whereby as energy levels rise, there is more emission right back to space basically just as fast as it is held in).

      This is from Trenberth.

      And P is for Planck Feedback here. Technically on the chart but not actually counted in the “all” feedback.

      • Water vapor negative feedback of the hydrological cycle is more than twice as big as the radiative feedback on all GHGs never mind water vapor.

        The total heat sink effect of the atmosphere is probably around 65c 70c difference compared to no atmosphere. 1c is nothing in that range and not detectable.

        Never mind GHG’s keeping us warm, if we had no water to evaporate the planet would be cooked in 35c higher temperatures because heat is not being transported away

        The water cycle shifts an immense amount of heat from the surface, and this far outweighs the radiative forcing positive feed back.

        That chart is as say in the business b011ock5

      • This is why the the current changes see no change in water vapor trends.

        Trenberth requires water vapor to increase and it hasn’t

    • After reading WG1AR5 twice I see that every mention of water vapor is modified by a footnote (or verbiage) that they are limiting the H2O that from CH4 dissociation in the atmosphere. I see no mention of H2O or water vapor in the “Short lived gases and aerosols.” Where is the 1 – 4% H2O that is always in the atmosphere? Why is it ignored? How can it be ignored if there is always some there?

    • >>It’s very clear that aerosols are the “single greatest source of uncertainty”.

      Only if you ignore clouds.


      • That isn’t the big uncertainty about clouds. the uncertainty comes from increased evaporation due to warming, which leads to increased cloud formation, which increases albedo, which reduces temperatures.

        this has nothing to do with aerosols, yet it is nowhere on the graphic.

      • ralfellis did not say they were ignoring clouds, just that they are uncertain about their affect.

  13. It seems like a very long winded way of saying “Our models suck”, and haven’t gotten better in thirty years. 300 percent variation in major part of the model (the effect of CO2 doubling) does seem to fit the definition of “suck”.

  14. Too late NASA. Credibility is ruined by Karl Obama and Schmidt.

    There have been a lot of bending with the wind type things afoot, Mann with his recent, NASA with this, and AR5 taking a big step back from previous ARs

    Now they are desperately trying to align models with observations by lowering sensitivity by increments and pretending it’s what they are claiming all along

    The original claims were ludicrous temperature rise per decade. Once that was clearly shown to be bunk by observation, they adjust to stay relevant, this is what it all stinks of.

    As for CSIRO pulling out, well NASA, when you were shouting “the debate is over” CSIRO went and took that literally

  15. If Aerosols are highly uncertain then model outputs are junk, but we knew that.

    I wonder how Sks are going to play this, they turned full on “deniers” when it came out last October that the Antarctic ice is increasing.

    This should have then scrambling for some pseudo science to fool the cretins there

  16. “Global aerosol community” LOL!!!!

    How can these people say stuff like this without cringing?

  17. Perhaps a little insider perspective is of interest to you guys and galls here: what is sad about axing the climate division of CSIRO is that they were the main body responsible for climate data from the southern hemisphere. So this will cause a huge deficit in data, not just for climate change research but also a lot of other climate and weather related research (which I presume the commenters here have no problem with). If some random climate change department would have closed elsewhere it would not have mattered all that much, but CSIRO specifically is important for data collection reasons, and that’s why you see NASA etc. come out in force to try and save some of it.


    • The CSIRO data is all faked, so what difference will it make? But I guess from a propaganda point of view it did have some value.

    • Oh?

      All those climate scientists are needed for aerosols down under? And if they’re sacked, the regular temperature data collection will suffer?

      How does that work benjibenji?

      Or do you intend to say that all of those under worked aerosol modelists spend their extra time modifying individual station data so that it support the alarmist global climate message?

      Let them all seek employment amongst the industrial job market. They might learn there are penalties in the public workplace for overwrought and terrible predictions based on advocacy.

    • Reg, the data is not faked. Nobody ever said it was faked. There is contention on this website about data adjustments, but in a recent post this blog also showed that these adjustments are actually pretty small for recent data.

      ATheoK, I’m not going to respond to belittling comments. Try again in a more polite tone if you’re genuinely interested.

      cephus0, I have friends in the climate modelling department here at the university and that’s what they say. It’s also in the official NASA communication so just read that if you want your news from primary source instead of filtered through he WUWT lens.


      • If it’s not real what is it? And because they only faked the past to make it cool, that’s okay?

    • As below comment why take recordings when there adjusted anyway ,no need for scientists at all just pick a number and model it .

  18. Evidently Dr. Holben considers ‘clouds’ to be in the same league as aerosols. Aerosols have little effect on the albedo except inasmuch as they can seed clouds. As I look out the window of my lab I can see scattered cumulus clouds building in the spring sky – clouds that were not there 2 hours ago, and which are already noticeably cooling the area. All of these clouds are on the order of 0.1 to 10 km in the longest dimension. The computers use for climate modelling simply do not have the capacity to model air movements, convection cells, cloud formation, etc. on this fine a scale.
    General Circulation Models (GCMs) depict the climate using a three dimensional grid over the globe, typically having a horizontal resolution of between 250 and 600 km, and 10 to 20 vertical layers in the atmosphere.
    Until the resolution improves enough to accommodate even a single supercell thunderstorm (~50 km size) there will be nothing ‘realistic’ about the models. That will require a grid with about 1000 times as many coordinate references as they are currently using – billions instead of millions of reference points.

    • “billions instead of millions of reference points”

      If that is the case they will need mutch more powerful computers to alter the data to match the models.

  19. I for one am deeply shocked to learn that one bunch of useless corrupt bureaucrats is interested in propping up another bunch of useless corrupt bureaucrats who are currently having a massively belated strimmer applied to their more luxuriantly outrageous growth. Tbh it would be better were the whole useless lot of them scythed off at the ankles and extra-strong, long-lasting pseudoscience-killer solution liberally applied.

  20. “If aerosols are an important but poorly understood component of the climate system, then climate modellers do not have the ability to forecast global climate – the science is not settled.”

    Logic fail.

    1. No working scientist will claim that “the” science is settled.
    2. Certain foundational claims are “settled”, which means no one will listen to you if you
    A) claim that C02 is NOT a GHG
    B) claim that c02 is not increasing
    C) claim that the world isnt warming
    D) claim its all a fraud
    E) claim that c02 can never warm the planet
    Those things are “settled” dont bother trying to debate.

    What is not settled

    How much warming will c02 cause. this is related to

    1. the role of aerosols.

    What is not settled about aerosols?

    we have a RANGE of values for their effects..

    This wide range leads to one thing: a spread in the value of ECS

    The wide spread in ECS doesnt make forecasting impossible.

    It makes the forecasts imprecise.. harder to falsify

    • yeah I was also wondering about that sentence. It doesn’t really make sense. Maybe written before coffee ;)

      • well, the honest answer is that there is a huge amount of discussion and research on the details (which is reported here as WUWT as if it’s evidence against man made climate change, which it is not), while at the same time the vast majority of scientists agree that we should do the basics to make sure things don’t get out of hand (e.g. reduce CO2 emissions).

        It’s like cancer. We know roughly how cancer works. We know it’s bad. But we still do a massive amount of research on it and there is a huge amount of debate on the details. Does that mean that cancer doesn’t exist? Of course not. But does it mean that we should just stop doing research on cancer (analogue to the argument that we can stop climate research if ‘the science is settled’) also of course not.

        And then there is WUWT, a curious mixture of science minded people that just don’t believe what they read in the main stream media and a whole bunch of unfriendly right wing American conspiracy theorists. Very interesting!

      • You are equating cancer and man made climate change? Not so fast kemosabe. I do not know of one person who’s life is in danger because they are not being treated for man made climate change. Since death is the natural outcome of all humans (that’s right nobody gets out alive), and thus it is inevitable that I will die some day, if I had a choice I would much rather die from man made climate change than cancer. So let’s continue to fund efforts against diseases that we can impact rather than wasting billions on things we cannot.

      • Sparks,

        benben’s point is that he doesn’t understand how the Scientific Method works. He doesn’t have a clue.

        benben says:

        …as if it’s evidence against man made climate change

        Earth to benben: you have the onus of producing evidence showing that “man made climate change” exists.

        But you have failed miserably. You have no credible evidence, and neither does anyone else. There is still not one verifiable, testable measurement quantifying AGW.

        Measurements are data. But you have no data. All you have is your eco-belief.

        Wake me when you can produce a measurment quantifying AGW. Until then, you’ve got nothin’.

    • So where are all the scientists speaking out against the politicians (like President Obama) and media outlets who repeat “the science is settled” lie? Have you and your colleagues?

      The ones that do are immediately branded D-words.

    • Steven Mosher, please explain how increasing CO2 during the early 1960s-70s didn’t drive temperatures up then. Show me that the CO2 sensitivity is greater than zero. If it’s greater than zero, why didn’t temperatures go up during the 1960s-70s while CO2 was rising? What’s the logic? Why did temps drop at all since the 1960s? They have gone up and down. If increasing CO2 is the driver, why didn’t the temps just keep going up?

      I’m very interested in your answer. No one else has forwarded an answer. In fact, when I asked Dr. RGBDuke that question last year, which was also the last time I saw him comment here on WUWT – he ran away. What are you going to do?

      If you can’t or won’t effectively answer the question – your warmist CO2 logic completely and utterly fails.

      What you’ve done with your short list is try to box everyone into the IPCC’s tiny little mental box, where you are living right now. Your attempted manipulation is right out in the open – and it won’t work. My answers to your list:

      2.A. No one claims CO2 isn’t a ‘greenhouse gas’.

      2.B. No one is claiming CO2 hasn’t increased.

      2.C. The fact that the world warmed is not in dispute.

      2.D. The CO2 warming paradigm IS A FRAUD!!!

      2.E. CO2 NEVER warmed the Earth. NEVER EVER!!!

      Your first three arguments 2A-C are “strawman” arguments, nothing but empty rhetoric.

      The CO2 warming paradigm doesn’t work, and the fact that it doesn’t work, but is still pushed anyway at high cost to society, is why it is a fraud, for real. FRAUD!!!

      You cannot find any evidence that CO2 increases preceded temperature increases at any time in the climate record, and someone like you should know that.

      All you warmists are doing is holding on dearly, clinging to your failed paradigm like passengers going down with a sinking ship, and you’re one of the people waving his hands saying ‘come join us’. Pathetic.

      No wonder AW is always giving you a hard time. No one listens to you here except the very few who haven’t learned their lesson yet, like you.

      The ONLY thing you types have to count on right now is you temporarily have the upper hand politically.

      Your cherished belief system is going down in flames and you expect us to double down on that stupidity?!

      I’m getting really tired of you CO2 freaks still forcing the idea on us. Don’t you ever learn anything here?

      The real “logic fail” in your comment above was you didn’t even address the quote you used about aerosols, instead you slid right on into CO2, a non sequitor – a complete logic fail! What a joke.

    • Logic fail. (you keep talking about logic and consistently refuse to apply it except in isolated contexts that suit)

      1. No working scientist will claim that “the” science is settled. (Yet said scientists stay quiet when Obama says it is settled)
      2. Certain foundational claims are “settled”, which means no one will listen to you if you (You talk of logic lol claims cannot be settled, if they are still “claims”)
      A) claim that C02 is NOT a GHG (Nonsense straw man)
      B) claim that c02 is not increasing (nonsense straw man)
      C) claim that the world isnt warming (nonsense straw man)
      D) claim its all a fraud (nonsense straw man)
      E) claim that c02 can never warm the planet (nonsense straw man)
      Those things are “settled” dont bother trying to debate.

      What does this post even mean?

      It’s utter garbage, the mainstay of what you post here, paraphrased absolutes and straw men.

      I keep telling you, logic is not something you should talk about, you’ve shown that, your “logic” is forced into defending beliefs, and as a result, your “logic” is flawed.

      Pronouncements have been made off the back of gibberish.

      Sks and other chums you like have used aerosols to try discredit Lindzen, as a certainty. You seem ok with that.

      You seem fine with the fact that aerosols have been fudged in models for a decade, with models having different fudges.
      That is not modelling climate it is modeling an outcome, if you cant see that you are lacking more than I thought, you seem to be unable to apply logic to process.

    • Steve, your reply just proves once again how worthless funding those people really is.

      30 years of climate models and they still do not understand water. Let me give you a clue: water is known as a temperature moderator. It’s especially good at that as temperatures go up. It has more limited ability in keeping things warm but it does this too which is why our planet is not covered on ice.

      And so logically one would conclude that the climate of this planet is driven by how things effect water and not on esoteric things like aerosols and co2. This is because we live on a water planet. Duh!!!!!!

      So when I see models that assume water instead of moderating forcings amplifies them I know we are dealing with one of these two things:

      1. Incompetents with zero understanding of that which they talk about


      2. Frauds who just want to make a paycheck without working much at all.

      And so for all of your talk about “hard-working scientists” is just code to me for ” funding morons and their PlayStation games”

      And / or idiots.

      Without water amplifying co2’s effect there is no disaster and no reason to fund this so-called science and so ergo the reason they changed the properties of water in their computer models was just to ensure the lazy morons would still have a job

    • Your list is bogus. Here are some of things we know:

      a) Since 1950 there has been a rapid rise in CO2 from about 300 ppm to about 400 ppm.
      b) CO2 absorbs and re-radiates infra-red radiation, and therefore acts as a greenhouse gas in a simplified model.
      c) The world has been warming at a rate of 1+ degrees Fahrenheit since the end of the Little Ice Age in the mid-1800s, a natural cycle.
      d) The rate of warming since the rapid increase in CO2 began around 1950 may have slightly increased.
      e) Land based temperatures, which suffer from a number of potential errors, are frequently re-adjusted, and the measurement error range is close to the possible change in the rate of temperature increase since 1950.
      f) Air-born particulates have decreased significantly since 1950. They act to cool temperatures, so some of the possible small rate of relative increase in global temperature since then is due to cleaner air.
      g) Satellite temperature measurements are more reliable than land-based measurements, but that data is only available since 1979.
      h) The best proxy for global temperature change is sea level. Warming temperatures increase sea level by melting land ice and by direct thermal expansion, each contributing about equally.
      i) Global sea levels have been rising at a rate of about 8 to 10 inches per century since the end of the Little Ice Age in the mid-1800s.
      j) The rate of sea level rise is still 8 to 10 inches per century, unchanged since the rapid increase in CO2 began around 1950.
      k) Based on satellite data, since 1979 Arctic ice coverage has decreased by about 10% to 15%. We have no good evidence to say whether or not this trend is a long-term natural trend that was occurring before the rapid increase in CO2.
      l) The polar bear population doesn’t appear to be decreasing.
      l) Based on satellite data, there appears to be no significant change in Antarctic ice coverage since 1979.
      m) There has been no increase in the frequency or severity of hurricanes, as we were told there would be.
      n) There has been no increase in the frequency or severity of tornadoes, as we were told there would be.
      o) Based on a number of recent multi-century studies, there has been no significant change in the severity or distribution of global drought or flooding events during the last century.
      p) The increase in atmospheric CO2 has resulted in significant greening around the world.
      q) There’s evidence that increasing CO2 has enhanced plankton growth in the oceans.
      q) It’s possible that increasing greenhouse gases may in the future cause the problems that global warming enthusiasts claim will occur, but based on the evidence so far, the models and predictions of climate scientists have been not been very accurate.

  21. Steven Mosher
    May 13, 2016 at 9:19 am
    “What is not settled
    How much warming will c02 cause. ”

    I think you can add “How much of such warming is good”. Or do we already acknowledge that it is all good.

  22. “ aerosol community” NASA obviously doesn’t have a spell checker, or is this the latin spelling./sarc

  23. Don’t laugh too soon, if Labor get in at the Federal election they will stay the sacking and hire more scientists to catch up on the work that should have been done while the current lot were whining about their sackings.

  24. Re: “In my opinion climate scientists can’t have it both ways.

    “If aerosols are an important but poorly understood component of the climate system, then climate modellers do not have the ability to forecast global climate – the science is not settled.

    “If poor understanding of aerosols does not have a significant impact on climate forecasts, then they are not that important.”

    My opinion too.

  25. Aerosols provide an important fudge factor for the nattering nabobs of climate change. It’s that mystery knob out back, that allows them to fiddle and tweak the models, after the fact, to make them fit reality. It would be most invonvenient for them not to have them.

  26. Am I the only one bothered by the superposition of model and measured temperature anomolies, rather than actual temperatures, as a basis for validating the model against reality? Assume, for example, that the model consistently forecasts higher temperatures than those produced in the real world. It’s average temperature over the base period would be higher, and even assuming that the model mimics the same trend as the measured temperatures, the differences in baseline average would still lead to larger and larger discrepancies over time in absolute temperature, wouldn’t it?

    Also, I noticed that the NASA graph only picked a 40 year base period from 1880-1919, the low point in the anomolies of both the modeled and measured sets. Wouldn’t that tend to exaggerate the appearance of the trends?

  27. After 10 years of being told they could not be certain about any of this, they finally admit uncertainty.

    now if we could get the modelers to admit true uncertainty, that would be something.

  28. WTF??????end of grade5
    Human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major effects on land, vegetation, streams, oceans, air and even outer space.

    now if there was a claim they could be nabbed on surely this is a gem shining brightly?

    • Wit the claims there is no need to cherry pick one, if you think that is a gem, then the body of alarmist claims look like this.

  29. Obviously there are more “Unknown Unknowns” then there are “Known Unknowns” !! IMHO

  30. “The global aerosol community” ?

    Somewhere buried deep in a vault in the Southwest exists a halogram tape with the names and location of its members operations.

    • A bunch of people who all guess and use obfuscating language to try conceal that they are guessing.

      If a scientist cant explain something simply, they either are being dishonest or dont understand what they are talking about, it’s one or the other.

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