Earthshine project reports on Earth's reflectance over the last 16 years

In the early days of WUWT, I reported on this project here: Earth’s Albedo Tells an Interesting Story Now data has been release in a new paper. From the INSTITUTO DE ASTROFÍSICA DE CANARIAS (IAC)

New data on the variability of the Earth’s reflectance over the last 16 years

The measurements of this key climate variable, obtained from telescopes on the ground, agree with the measurements made from satellites and show a period of stability

Composition of the earthshine, the light reflected from the Earth to the night-time face of the Moon, and the figure showing the monthly mean apparent albedo anomalies from December 1998 through December 2014. Anomalies were calculated over the mean of the full period, positive anomalies are shown in red and negative in blue. Averaged standard deviation (error) of the monthly data is also indicated in the lower right corner for simplicity. Only months with at least 5 nights of observations are shown. From November 2005 to August 2006 several months of earthshine data are missing due to the replacement of the dome of the solar telescope, while the new automated telescope under a separate dome was not yet operational. CREDIT Daniel López/IAC.
Click for full size image. Composition of the earthshine, the light reflected from the Earth to the night-time face of the Moon, and the figure showing the monthly mean apparent albedo anomalies from December 1998 through December 2014. Anomalies were calculated over the mean of the full period, positive anomalies are shown in yellow and negative in blue. Only months with at least 5 nights of observations are shown. From November 2005 to August 2006 several months of earthshine data are missing due to the replacement of the dome of the solar telescope, while the new automated telescope under a separate dome was not yet operational. CREDIT Daniel López/IAC.

The Earth’s albedo, or reflectance, is a fundamental atmospheric parameter having deep implications for temperature and climate change. For that reason, experiments have been performed to monitor it over the past two decades to reveal how it evolves. One of these, in which the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias is a participant, has brought up to date the observations made since 2007 and adds to, and gives a new systematic record of the Earth’s albedo covering the period between 1998 and 2014 from California. This study, whose first author is IAC researcher Enric Pallé, has been published in Geophysical Research Letters, and shows that although the albedo fluctuates both monthly and annually, but there is no trend over those years.

The effect of the albedo is important for life on Earth because it affects the energy budget of the planet: it plays a key role in the process by which the planet achieves an equilibrium between the solar radiation which enters the atmosphere and the radiation emitted as heat into space. The albedo is defined as the fraction of sunlight that the Earth reflects back directly into space, and it varies according to cloud composition, ice, snow, and the nature of the surface onto which the sun’s rays fall. The term comes from the Latin “albus” (white), and a rise or fall in the albedo will have consequences for the planet’s global warming or cooling.

To check how the albedo has evolved, since the 1990’s it has been measured from space with instruments such as ERBE and CERES, whose estimations are made using absolute photometric measurements, which could be affected by any degradation in the instrument while in space.

However, a complementary way to measure the reflectance, which does not suffer the same calibration errors since it is a relative measurement, is from the ground, using telescopes that observe the so-called earthshine (the light reflected from the Earth to the night-time face of the Moon). This method has been used during the period 1998-2014 from the Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) in California, and also, since 2007 from the Earthshine telescope at the Teide Observatory (Tenerife), to measure this climate parameter. These observations were aimed at increasing the temporal coverage of the measurements, and reducing the measurement errors.

The result of this study is that, applying strict quality criteria to the measurements of the earthshine, and after re-calibrating the measurements taken from the CERES instrument in space, the variations found in the value of the albedo not only agree in magnitude but also show identical, small annual variations over the 14 years that the two types of observations overlap. Philip Goode, lead earthshine researcher at BBSO explains that “Although the measurements that we have made of the albedo over the past 16 years show monthly and annual variations, there is virtually no change in the long term. This also coincides with a stabilization in the mean temperature of the planet”, he says.

Even so, although a consensus has been reached about the results of the two types of measurements, the origin of the anomalies is not completely clear. “We need to continue the experiments to measure this phenomenon accurately and see where we get to in a few more years. For example, the construction of a global network of robotic telescopes around the world or the launching of a micro-satellite dedicated to the study of earthshine will give us data to improve our knowledge of changes in the albedo, and see how they affect the climate”, concludes Pallé.


BBSO is operated by New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Article: “Earth’s albedo variations 1998-2014 as measured from ground-based earthshine observations” by E. Pallé (IAC-ULL), P. R. Goode (Big Bear Solar Observatory, Institute of Technology, EEUU), P. Pilar Montañés-Rodríguez (IAC-ULL), A. Shumko (Big Bear Solar Observatory, Institute of Technology, EEUU), B. González-Merino (IAC-ULL), C. Martínez Lombilla (IAC-ULL), F. Jiménez-Ibarra (IAC-ULL), S. Shumko (Big Bear Solar Observatory, Institute of Technology, EEUU), E. Sanroma (IAC-ULL), A. Hulist (IAC-ULL), P. Miles-Páez (IAC-ULL), F. Murgas (IAC-ULL), G. Nowak (IAC-ULL), S. E. Koonin (Center for Urban Science & Progress, New York University, EEUU). Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, doi: 10.1002/2016GL068025.


The Earth’s albedo is a fundamental climate parameter for understanding the radiation budget of the atmosphere. It has been traditionally measured not only from space platforms but also from the ground for 16 years from Big Bear Solar Observatory by observing the Moon. The photometric ratio of the dark (earthshine) to the bright (moonshine) sides of the Moon is used to determine nightly anomalies in the terrestrial albedo, with the aim of quantifying sustained monthly, annual, and/or decadal changes. We find two modest decadal scale cycles in the albedo, but with no significant net change over the 16 years of accumulated data. Within the evolution of the two cycles, we find periods of sustained annual increases, followed by comparable sustained decreases in albedo. The evolution of the earthshine albedo is in remarkable agreement with that from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System instruments, although each method measures different slices of the Earth’s Bond albedo.

Full paper (paywalled)

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Tom Halla
May 19, 2016 9:13 am

Long term stability would seem to track the “pause” in global temperatures over the same time period.

george e. smith
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 19, 2016 11:33 am

So on some given night, the sun is shining on some other place on earth; ” over there ” with whatever clouds, snow, grass, whatever, happen to be over there at that time, and the moon is ” up there ” above us moonshiners and off at some angle from the sun direction, so the moon of course is not uniformly illuminated, but any region on this side of the moon will be reflecting some of the earthshine that falls on it, and that amount reflected will depend on where on the moon surface it is, and off course the moon perturbates from time to time, as to just where it is pointing.
So that reflected reflected sunshine now comes back to the earth; hey! we’re over here, not over there, so those clouds/CO2/H2O/aerosols above us (we’re the guy with the telescope) so our atmospheric absorption, is not the same as theirs “over there” where the sun is.
So why do I think this is a pretty rinky dink way to measure how much solar EM radiant energy, is actually making it past all of these barriers and actually landing on the ground (solid and liquid ground) to warm the earth, on the sunny side.
Well yes I admire their tenacity and all that, but it’s a poor substitute for actually measuring what really lands on the earth.
That of course would take a radiometer network UNDERNEATH all those clouds ” over there ” where the sun is shining.
BUT ! it is nice to find out that even with such a wishy washy method, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for the earth to have warmed up over the last 16 years, which is a relief to find out, because we know it actually hasn’t warmed up during that time.
I wonder if this third or fourth party indirect proxy for a stand in for a real measurement, can also tell us how much the global average atmospheric CO2 abundance in ppmm has been during those 16 years.
If chemical process engineers designed their process control feedback loops using ” Climate Science ” proxy methodologies, we might expect a sizeable (probably logarithmic) increase in the instances of destructive chemical plant explosions.
But it is nice that they are now telling us, what they have accomplished so far.
Is the real paper paywalled, or can we get to read it ?

Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 19, 2016 9:35 am

Figure 2 from paper at :
But there is no clear solar cycle effect.

Bob Boder
Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 9:41 am

is there any correlation between solar variation and albedo variation?

Reply to  Bob Boder
May 19, 2016 9:50 am

None that I can see.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 9:49 am

bye bye GCR effects

Bob Boder
Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 10:32 am

Way to jump on that one, 16 years of data and you know the truth! But millions of years refuting CAGW theory doesn’t bother you in the least? I used to look forward to your comments, even the most surly ones but lately they are all but worthless and pre-programed responses. You have moved to the don’t waste my time section and that’s a shame.

Bob Boder
Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 10:42 am

So that means if you look at them together they could amplify or cancel each other out as a variable in the solar irradiance “equation”. It would be interesting to see the 2 values combined and then plotted next to Global temp to see if there is any corralation detectable.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 11:11 am

‘Way to jump on that one, 16 years of data and you know the truth! ”
Too funny bob.
WUWT from 9 years ago, after 7 years of data
“This rapidly changing albedo lends some credence to Svensmark’s theory of Earth’s cloud cover being modulated by Galactic Cosmic Rays, but it could also be caused by other factors such as aerosols.”
personally, I agree with Leif. Svensmark is busted because it doesnt show up in any cloud data.
I agree it doesnt show up in cloud data because I spent a few months looking for it.
add to that 16 years of earthshine data.
So on balance, looking at all the data, we find no effect.
Contrast that with the comment made 7 years ago..
Finally, the only way to make sense of the past millions of years is a c02 control knob. sorry.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 11:26 am

Steven, lends some credence is not the same thing as saying there is proof.
I know you are desperate to prove your ignorance, but do you have to be so darn good at it?

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 11:28 am

Given the weak nature of the current solar cycle, is it too atypical to draw an inference from?

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 11:32 am

We need more data to separate out other factors. Did the growth of dirty coal in China have an impact, more aerosols? Or perhaps more soot covering ice? China could be a plus or a minus, not enough data to tell which yet.
Were their changes in the amount and type of jet travel due to changing economic conditions? Changing technology? Changing regulations?
What kind of land use changes occurred during that time? It’s well known that thanks to CO2 plants have been advancing into areas they couldn’t inhabit decades ago, plants in general have a lower albedo than does dirt. How does this change affect overall albedo over time?
In simple, 16 years is not enough data, and anyone who claims to be able to prove or refute anything based on it is no scientist.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 12:24 pm

Finally, the only way to make sense of the past millions of years is a c02 control knob. sorry.
I didn’t know this was proven wrong…..thanks!

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 1:16 pm

“Steven, lends some credence is not the same thing as saying there is proof.
I know you are desperate to prove your ignorance, but do you have to be so darn good at it?”
Calling Dr feynman, Isle 3, falsification check, isle 3…
1. It is hypothesized that a change in GCR causes a change in clouds.
2. I looked at clouds, over long periods and during Forbush events: no change.
3. we look at 16 years of earthshine.. no signal.
Looks like the theory is busted. Maybe you can modify it? but as it stands the theory is busted.
Lending credence? thats called confirmation bias.
nice try,
Where were you 9 years ago to say we work to falsify theories not the opposite?
ah yes, you were no where to be found

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 1:26 pm

“I didn’t know this was proven wrong…..thanks!”
Calling Dr, feynman, calling Dr. Feynman Isle 4, proof check*
there is no proof in science. the simple fact is you cannot explain millions of years of history WITHOUT a c02 control knob. That does not entail it is proven. quite the opposite. It means simply this. The best explaination, the only explnation that comes close includes a c02 control know.
Your task is simple: construct a theory without one ( occams razor) and explain the same history.
until you have a replacement theory, pragmatic scientists will continue to use the best available theory and work to improve it.
*“Some years ago I had a conversation with a layman about flying saucers — because I am scientific I know all about flying saucers! I said “I don’t think there are flying saucers’. So my antagonist said, “Is it impossible that there are flying saucers? Can you prove that it’s impossible?” “No”, I said, “I can’t prove it’s impossible. It’s just very unlikely”. At that he said, “You are very unscientific. If you can’t prove it impossible then how can you say that it’s unlikely?”
But that is the way that is scientific. It is scientific only to say what is more likely and what less likely, and not to be proving all the time the possible and impossible.
To define what I mean, I might have said to him, “Listen, I mean that from my knowledge of the world that I see around me, I think that it is much more likely that the reports of flying saucers are the results of the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial intelligence than of the unknown rational efforts of extra-terrestrial intelligence.” It is just more likely. That is all.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
May 19, 2016 2:13 pm

Steven Mosher says:
the simple fact is you cannot explain millions of years of history WITHOUT a C02 control knob.
What does ‘explain millions of years of history” mean, exactly? That’s a vague and meaningless statement, not a “simple fact”.
But if, as I suspect, you were implying that CO2 controls the climate (by which I suppose you mean global temperatures), then it’s a good thing you weren’t replying to me, because I can explain it, easy peasy:
Let’s forget “millions of years”, because the planet has been more than 10ºC warmer in the past, without any correlation to CO2. So I’ll just deal here with the Holocene.
The simplest explanation for changing temperatures is ‘reversion to the mean.’ For example, the Little Ice Age was very cold. It was one of the coldest periods of the entire Holocene.
Question: Did CO2 cause the LIA? Did CO2 bring the planet out of the LIA?
Answer: No, and No.
We don’t know for sure what caused the LIA. There are hypotheses attempting to explain it; some are more credible than others. But reversion to the mean fully explains the recovery. Without that recovery we would still be in a very cold world. The Thames would still be freezing over, and every winter the Delaware River would be clogged with ice floes. And so on.
The planet’s temperature has a lot of inertia. Whenever it deviates from its long term average temperature, it tends to return to it. There is no need to invoke an extraneous variable like CO2. In fact, Occam’s Razor specifically warns against adding extraneous variables like CO2 to an explanation.
Next, once a minimal amount of CO2 is present in the atmosphere — say a few dozen ppm — further additions make little difference to global temperatures. From current concentrations (≈400 ppm), CO2 could rise 10%, or 25%, or 50%, or more, without causing any measurable global warming.
That is evident in the recent “pause”, or “hiatus”. Despite the steady rise in CO2, global temperatures were not affected. They remained in stasis for many years. So there was no correlation to ∆CO2. And since you cited Feynman, you should recall his stricture regarding the scientific method and experiments: If your ‘theory’ is contradicted by observations, it’s wrong. He added, “That’s all there is to it.”
Evidence purporting to show that CO2 is the ‘control knob’ of the ‘climate’ remains flimsy to non-existent. There are no credible measurements to support that conjecture, while there are plenty of observations that deconstruct it.
The claim that CO2 is the cause of ‘climate change’ has become progressively weaker as time goes by, because observations do not support it. And any purported evidence is second-hand, and argued by implication.
Furthermore, the net result of the rise in CO2 is been entirely beneficial, with no observed downside. CO2 is really just a tiny trace gas, which has risen by only one part in ten thousand over the past century. But the climate alarmist faction hangs its collective hat on that minuscule change, which is the basis of their entire ‘carbon’ alarmism. But it has turned out to be a false alarm.
Scientific skeptics have thoroughly deconstructed the basic alarmist claim that the rise of CO2 is any kind of a problem. In doing so, skeptics have won the science debate. Maybe not the political debate. But that’s a different issue entirely.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 2:37 pm

Steven, you really should read up on the first rule of holes.
1) You have no idea where I was 9 years ago, so your assumptions about me and what I was doing at the time are nothing more than mental masturbation on your part.
2) As to your claims regarding falsification, you clearly have no idea what you are talking about. Again.

bit chilly
Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 4:33 pm

what about the uv component on its own ?

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 5:05 pm

I wanted to thank you for being adamant about the new standard being 1360 w/m^2 instead of 1370 w/m^2.
so 1370 X (1-a)/4 = 239.7 w/m^2
T^4 = 479.4
T= (239.7 +239.7)/ (5.67 X 10-8) =303 K or at least that’s what s written. the 303 K is right because in is in the literature from 2002 .ATM S .basically multiply 479.4 X 0.632
so 1360 X (1-a)/4 = 238 w/m^2
T^4 = 478
then T = (238 +238)/(5.67 X 10 -8) = 300 K
How did they make all those numbers come out right when the difference here is 3 C or 6 F. ? All the graphs and charts are off by 3 C? They used Stefan-Beltzmann all over the place.
The information differs all over the place. Consistency would be a good thing.

Pat Frank
Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 5:42 pm

Steve Mosher, “the only way to make sense of the past millions of years is a c02 control knob. sorry.
Consensus climate modeling: we have eliminated all unicorns and leprechauns. Therefore, the cause must be pixie dust.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 5:57 pm

Good ole Steve M – just because you can’t think of another reason doesn’t add any scientific weight to the CO2 control knob hypothesis. Try a little Briggs and call me in the morning if symptoms persist:
PS> Feynmann is living on an island somewhere?

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 11:10 pm

Would UV variation or even a general spectral shift to redder / bluer show up in a broad albedo measure?
If no, then one can only say no gross TSI solar cycle seen, not that there is no effect… So yes, no evidence in this one narrow measure…

Mark - Helsinki
Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 20, 2016 1:14 am

“Finally, the only way to make sense of the past millions of years is a c02 control knob. sorry.”
This is the most ridiculous non scientific claim of the year on WUWT.
Mosher, you have wandered into the depths of pseudo science with that one, I see you as a joke who obviously doesn’t understand we dont have the data to say that. Completely moronic of you.

Bob Boder
Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 20, 2016 9:04 am

At least you put your mouth where your money is.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 20, 2016 9:23 am

“A CO2 control knob”
Seriously? A summary of the knob:
Since 1850; temperature controls the variation around the trend of increasing atmospheric CO2 due substantially to human activity. Atmospheric CO2 fails to predict scale of temperature increase.
Pleistocene scale; CO2 follows temperature like a poodle on a leash.
Neogene Scale; ditto.comment imagecomment image
Somewhere in the Cenozoic; There is a truly important inflection point between a dependent correlation with temperature and no correlation at all.comment image

Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 19, 2016 9:37 am

exactly…..didn’t 1998 go in the opposite direction??
although the albedo fluctuates both monthly and annually, but there is no trend over those years….
…….This also coincides with a stabilization in the mean temperature of the planet

Eric Barnes
Reply to  Latitude
May 19, 2016 10:45 am

Yep. It’s amazing the evidence that is completely unnoticed.

Dermot O'Logical
Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 19, 2016 9:47 am

Shoot me down if I’ve read the graph wrong, but didn’t the reflectance decrease in 2008 i.e. the albedo dropped? If so, Earth absorbed more radiation / reflected less radiation, and yet temperatures went up.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Dermot O'Logical
May 19, 2016 11:42 am

That’s the way I read it. From the paper:

The Earth’s albedo (or reflectance) is defined as the fraction of solar radiation that is reflected back to space through the top of the atmosphere (TOA).
…positive anomalies are shown in red and negative in blue.”

The way I interpret those is that a negative anomaly (i.e., blue on the graph) is where that albedo (reflectance) decreases and the amount of radiation absorbed by the earth increases. Therefor if the radiation from the sun remains constant and the albedo decreases (all unknowns remain constant) the temperature of the earth should increase. Second, since they are measuring “The photometric ratio of the dark (earthshine) to the bright (moonshine) sides of the Moon…” to determine nightly anomalies in the terrestrial albedo…” their readings are independent of the amount of radiation from the sun.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 19, 2016 9:51 am

I wonder what happened in 2008? Earth’s reflectance increased significantly, and global temperature dropped.

2008 had a very strong La Nina. I doubt that reflectance would have 1% of the effect of a strong La Nina.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 19, 2016 10:25 am

Obama got elected!

Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 19, 2016 10:32 am

We had a significant sea ice loss event in 2007 in the NH. Perhaps there is a relationship with enhanced evaporation due to such in the high latitudes that spawned increased cloud cover over the next year?

Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 19, 2016 10:34 am
“The most interesting thing here is that the albedo forcings, in watts/sq meter seem to be fairly large. Larger than that of all manmade greenhouse gases combined:
Carbon dioxide: 1.5 Watts per square meter.
Methane: 0.5 Watts per square meter.
Nitrous oxide: 0.2 Watts per square meter.
Halocarbons: 0.2 Watts per square meter.
Total from all greenhouse gases: 2.4 Watts per square meter.
This rapidly changing albedo lends some credence to Svensmark’s theory of Earth’s cloud cover being modulated by Galactic Cosmic Rays, but it could also be caused by other factors such as aerosols.
Whatever the cause for the rapid change in albedo, it seems to have quite an effect of earth’s radiation budget. The California Instttute of Technology made a press release in 2004 that summed up the project fairly well:
By using a combination of earthshine observations and satellite data on cloud cover, the earthshine team has determined the following:
= Earth’s average albedo is not constant from one year to the next; it also changes over decadal timescales. The computer models currently used to study the climate system do not show such large decadal-scale variability of the albedo.”
So, with 9 more years of data…. it looks like
No credence to Svensmark
Models looking better.

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  Steven Mosher
May 19, 2016 12:27 pm

Steven Mosher May 19, 2016 at 10:34 am
No credence to Svensmark
Models looking better.
Well on Svensmark I have to agree with you on this point.
But on CO2 as control knob and models looking better, lets just look at the last couple weeks.
Austria: lost of berry and fruit crops to snow and freezing
Netherlands: ditto
Switzerland: same.
Serbia: same just a few days ago.
USA The whole Ohio valley and northern areas of the deep south last month.
Oh and Maine got snow Monday.
The list goes on.
Stick with Tamiya@. for models they are the best.
And no Steven Mosher, it is not just weather, its to wide spread.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
May 19, 2016 12:51 pm

“The most interesting thing here is that the albedo forcings, in watts/sq meter seem to be fairly large. Larger than that of all manmade greenhouse gases combined:
Carbon dioxide: 1.5 Watts per square meter.
Methane: 0.5 Watts per square meter.
Nitrous oxide: 0.2 Watts per square meter.
Halocarbons: 0.2 Watts per square meter.
Total from all greenhouse gases: 2.4 Watts per square meter.”
Yep. That is exactly what this paper shows. Ranges from +3.5 W/m2 to -3W/m2. See Figure 4, top panel, at this non-paywalled location:
Steven, how accurately do climate models track albedo changes?

Smart Rock
Reply to  Steven Mosher
May 19, 2016 5:49 pm

Steven: You cannot make sense of hundreds of millions of years of climate change without a grasp of the colossal volcanic events that have occurred at irregular intervals throughout the earth’s history. For a quick overview, you can’t do better than visit this site.
Considering the very substantial cooling that the CMIP models attribute to volcanic aerosols, these volcanic events (the likeness of which nobody has seen) should be seriously considered for their climate influence.
Also, not only do we have no idea of the radiant output of the sun in past times, but I can’t begin to imagine a proxy that would give a clue to how it might have changed over time.
And there’s more. The configuration of the continents has been widely assumed to be one of the factors (possibly the dominant factor) that pushed the earth into the long Cenozoic cooling (that would be the severing of the land bridge between Antarctica and South America. What drove the earth ultimately into the Pleistocene Ice Age has been widely postulated as the closing of the Panama isthmus. It’s not easy to be precise about all of this, but an open mind surely can see the potential of ocean/continent configuration to control currents that move heat from the tropics towards the poles (or not!), and all the climatic conditions that derive from that. And the fact is that continents have been breaking up, moving around, colliding with each other and breaking up again, ceaselessly for billions of years. To regard the earth as it was during the last stadial (probably the fifth) of the present interglacial (the latest of at least four and probably many more) of the present ice age (the latest of an unknown number, but probably a minimum of four) as some kind of timeless Arcadian paradise is – when you stand back and look at it – utterly,absurdly parochial.
Just try to imagine what ocean currents might have been like when there was only one big continent. This has happened at least three times in the last 2 billion years (and before that, the data are just too sketchy). What would weather systems have looked like?
The one thing that stands out for me is this: if high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have the capability of causing “runaway” heating to the point where (as I’ve heard alarmists seriously state) life on earth is in danger of extinction, why hasn’t it happened in the past? Life is still here.
Perhaps you’re a moderate warmer and don’t think that life will be extinguished. What then? Suppose the earth warms by another 2°C and we have a climate like the Roman Warm Period. Vineyards in Yorkshire! Or how about 3°C? Vineyards in Scotland? I know a few people who would be more than a little happy about that……………………..

Reply to  Steven Mosher
May 20, 2016 1:00 pm

Svensmark pointed out a relation between Forbush events and cloud water content in 2009:
Cosmic ray decreases affect atmospheric aerosols and
Henrik Svensmark, Torsten Bondo, and Jacob Svensmark
National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Juliane Marie
Vej 30, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark
X – 2
“Close passages of coronal mass ejections from the sun are signaled at the
Earth’s surface by Forbush decreases in cosmic ray counts. We find that low
clouds contain less liquid water following Forbush decreases, and for the most
influential events the liquid water in the oceanic atmosphere can diminish
by as much as 7%. Cloud water content as gauged by the Special Sensor Mi-
crowave/Imager (SSM/I) reaches a minimum 7 days after the Forbush min-
imum in cosmic rays, and so does the fraction of low clouds seen by the Mod-
erate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and in the Interna-
tional Satellite Cloud Climate Project (ISCCP). Parallel observations by the
aerosol robotic network AERONET reveal falls in the relative abundance of
fine aerosol particles which, in normal circumstances, could have evolved into
cloud condensation nuclei. Thus a link between the sun, cosmic rays, aerosols,
and liquid-water clouds appears to exist on a global scale.”
Hmmmm. several different sources of evidence for the Svensmark effect. Perhaps the 7 day delay between the Forbush event and the cloud water minimum obscured the evidence Mr. Mosher was seeking?

Loren Wilson
Reply to  Steven Mosher
May 20, 2016 6:48 pm

You forgot water vapor – the strongest greenhouse gas.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 19, 2016 11:34 am

How is purely reflected energy diferientiated from energy radiated from the Earth and even the energy that could affect some portion of the atmosphere and then be radiated? Would not the last two affect the measurement?

Joe Crawford
Reply to  usurbrain
May 19, 2016 11:48 am

Doesn’t the total energy radiated from the Earth consists of black body radiation based solely on the temperature, plus reflected radiation (i.e., albedo times the solar energy)?

Reply to  usurbrain
May 19, 2016 11:56 am

Earthshine, moonshine, they are measuring visible light. It has to be reflected light, whether by clouds or surface. The Earth does not, and can not radiate in the visible. All radiated energy from the Earth is in the IR.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  usurbrain
May 19, 2016 12:19 pm

TonyL, I believe the question was about reflected ‘energy’ and ‘energy’ radiated not visible light. But thanks, guess you caught me on semantics… I was stretching the definition of radiate in relation to the reflectance of visible light.

Tom Yoke
Reply to  usurbrain
May 19, 2016 7:25 pm

Presumably they’re measuring reflected visible light, but there are still lots of questions. The moon is not a pure white surface. I.e., it absorbs, rather than reflects, some visible wavelengths. Does the reflectance model try to correct for that? To get an accurate measure of earth albedo it should. Of course, the specific distribution of visible wavelengths that are reflected from earth back into space will also vary over time, and will also complicate the model.

george e. smith
Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 19, 2016 11:43 am

Is there some reasonably understood mechanism for these repetitive saw tooth episodes ??
You get a sane looking half a degree ramp up, and then a clunk back to the starting point.
With thermal things I tend to think of warming fast but slow cooling, as being the order of the day, but clearly the Temperature is capable of dropping like a rock.
To what do the experts attribute this morphology ??

Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 19, 2016 11:47 am

I have always been curious about the large spike on the 2008 Inuvik neutron monitor. Even though it only exists at this location, perhaps it lends some credibility to Svensmarks theory.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 19, 2016 12:55 pm

I’m no scientist or mathematician although I used lots of empirical formulae in my engineering and financial “models”.
After reading your comment, I think I should refer you to:
I am not nit picking as even your drive by comments sometimes cause me to examine the issues.
Some of your comments seem to incite demeaning and critical comments that I consider childish. They often add nothing to the discussion. I think you have a significant bias due to the investment in Berkley. I look at the long term and in spite of the many attempts to explain CO2 concentrations in terms of ocean temperatures, Gas Pressure laws, ocean circulations … my layman’s/engineering conclusion is that climate science is a very young science.
Heck, I graduated from the first ever civil engineering class in UBC in 1972 ) as a mature student) in specializing in Water and Pollution.
Climate is better summed up by geologists rather than the WMO picking an arbitrary 30 year period to describe climate. When we do engineering projects that can last 80 to 100 years, a 30 year time scale is ridiculous. We use the longest available time record; examine geology, and signs of climate changes.
I wish people would counter your arguments with logic rather than derision but sometimes I think they feel your comments have a similar bent.
However, I do appreciate your comments and hope you keep the comments coming. Often they show your confirmation bias so they are very useful insights into seeing how Berkley is working. It is after all, a climate model, and not something particularly useful as an engineering too as far as I can see, but useful nonetheless.
Keep posting and thank you.
Wayne Delbeke, P.Eng
Faraway, Alberta.
PS: with respect to your comment on geological CO2 measurements, my comment on Corals yesterday covers it. Here is an excerpt:
Money quote:
<blockquote?Since of the Earth’s atmosphere is out-of-balance with the conditions expected from simple chemical equilibrium, it is very hard to say what precisely sets the level of the carbon dioxide content in the air throughout geologic time.
I reserve my right to be wrong. 😉

Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 19, 2016 12:59 pm

What happened in 2008? Obama, aka the ‘light bringer’. /s

Richard G.
Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 19, 2016 6:14 pm

There is a built in variability in intensity due to the difference in orbital distance between perihelion and aphelion. This year’s perihelion was Jan. 2 @ 91,403,812 miles and aphelion will be July 4 @ 94,512,904 miles, a difference of 3,109,092 miles. I believe the intensity changes at 1/r^2?

george e. smith
Reply to  Richard G.
May 21, 2016 2:32 pm

Richard, I am not quite sure that I understand what you are trying to say here, but I have a problem with what you say here.
You say there is a variability in Intensity due to orbital distance difference.
If you are referring to the ” Radiant Intensity ” of radiation from the sun then your statement is incorrect.
” Radiant Intensity ” or ” luminous Intensity ” are intrinsic properties of very small angular (essentially point) radiometric or photometric sources.
The appropriate units are watt / steradian and lumen / steradian (candela) respectively.
So the Intensity of a source; radiant or photometric, is quite independent of the distance from the source, so the radiant intensity of the sun does not vary with the radial distance to the earth.
Strictly, Intensity is only defined for a point source of zero source size.
Practically, for a finite size source, measurements of apparent intensity have only 1/2 % error, if the measurement is made at a distance of ten times the diameter of the source.
The more appropriate measure for a distant source (of any size) is ” Irradiance ” which is measured in watt / m^2. Note this is not an intrinsic property of the source, but is a measure of its effect at a distance.
That of course is the quantity TSI or Total Solar irradiance that is monitored by satellites in earth obit, with a mean value of around 1362-1366 W / m^2.

Mark - Helsinki
Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 20, 2016 1:28 am

Anthony, earth system cooling causing small negative change in water vapor, small change in water vapor in natural cooling cycle less clouds more moonshine. Following on to 2009 and 2010 brought a lot of chill.
Vapour a small drop towards 2008/09
This shows water vapor A is not increased by CO2, obviously and B water vapor is largely affected by the natural internal variability
This to me would indicate that there is indeed a lag, and natural internal variability of a greater order than solar input or possibly a lag in solar input manifesting in the system, not surprising, not all effects are linear in short day night cycles.
If you heat water, how can you tell when heat you put in at one point, comes out, only when you get to a certain temperature can you easily identify changes in the input manifest in the water, like lifting the pot and putting it back on the rim, but up to that point, you dont know which units of energy comes out when, it’s worked around the water, and we cannot identify this
So how would it work for a whole planet and climatic system
maybe I am not clear in my analogy, someone help lol

Mark - Helsinki
Reply to  Mark - Helsinki
May 20, 2016 1:29 am

Also look at 2005 low moonshine and dip in water vapor

Mark - Helsinki
Reply to  Mark - Helsinki
May 20, 2016 1:31 am

The low values and high values must play a part, dips quite low 2000 2001

Mark - Helsinki
Reply to  Mark - Helsinki
May 20, 2016 1:36 am

2001 to 2003 also low min water vapor values, despite spike which was ENSO driven possibly

Mark - Helsinki
Reply to  Mark - Helsinki
May 20, 2016 1:37 am

*by spike I mean, spike in Albedo not vapor

Mark - Helsinki
Reply to  Mark - Helsinki
May 20, 2016 1:38 am

All this to me suggests we really do not understand what is happening, except that it is certainly not CO2

Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 20, 2016 7:21 am

Anthony writes

I wonder what happened in 2008? Earth’s reflectance increased significantly, and global temperature dropped. See my graph from then:

Well it wasn’t Arctic sea ice because it was well below average in that year. Which certainly raises doubt about the suggestion that more ice means greater albedo and vice versa.

Jeff Norman
May 19, 2016 9:24 am

Climate “science” does not encourage the dissemination of measured data. Please revert to the modelled data which only shows a positive feedback.

Reply to  Jeff Norman
May 19, 2016 12:54 pm

“Within climate change science almost all the research (97%) refers to modeling in some way.”
From a recent article published by the CATO Institute:

May 19, 2016 9:27 am

Is 16 years a long enough time to get enough data to draw any inference, let alone conclusion?

Reply to  Kevin Ronald Lohse
May 19, 2016 9:37 am

It’s long enough to say that, for the past 16 years there is no trend. That’s important because I am assuming that the GCMs show a steadily decreasing albedo parameter.

Reply to  Kevin Ronald Lohse
May 19, 2016 9:44 am

I think the only thing that it shows is that there is not a catastrophic collapse of the reflectivity of the earth. The often repeated discussions about how arctic sea ice decrease is catastrophically changing the albedo seems to be pure bunk. But I could have told you that. The only month when the arctic gets significant sunlight, there isn’t ever much ice. The change doesn’t have any significance when discussing global albedo.

Reply to  Kevin Ronald Lohse
May 19, 2016 11:26 am

It is when you mind is already made up and closed.

george e. smith
Reply to  Kevin Ronald Lohse
May 21, 2016 2:46 pm

What data and what conclusion are you trying to get ??
16 years is exactly long enough to get 16 years of data of anything you could possibly measure, or want to measure.
From that data you can determine exactly what happened to that metric during the 16 years in which you gathered that data.
Any time interval is generally sufficient to gather enough data on absolutely anything that happened during that time interval, and you cannot obtain enough data to determine what happened for some longer time interval than that for which you made data observations.

May 19, 2016 9:37 am

If the 16 years show no trend in the albedo, this means that albedo variations have not been what has been countering the warming by CO2. Something else has, or else there would be no pause.

Reply to  Nylo
May 19, 2016 11:16 am

Or else it wasn’t CO2 that was doing the warming. Just as it didn’t do any warming between 1940 and 1975 or, according to the IPCC before then either.
Makes you wonder what magic powers it acquired in 1975.

Reply to  Newminster
May 19, 2016 12:35 pm

No “magic” powers.
Just overcame the negative forcing of sulfate aerosols.
And the “global dimming” of dirty industry post WW2 that lasted into the 80’s….comment imagecomment image

Reply to  Newminster
May 19, 2016 2:41 pm

I love how you use past data to try and prove that the models are accurate, especially when they carefully tuned hundreds of variables to get the projections to match past data (and still didn’t do a very good job.)
On the other hand, when the same models make projections into the future, they have failed.

Reply to  Newminster
May 19, 2016 5:02 pm

That model breaks down at the “Pause”. If it’s half right, then it’s half wrong, and cherry-picking a chart that stops at 1990 proves nothing.

Reply to  Newminster
May 20, 2016 12:05 am

“That model breaks down at the “Pause”. If it’s half right, then it’s half wrong, and cherry-picking a chart that stops at 1990 proves nothing.”
It shows what I posted it up to show.
That it ends in 1990 matters not a jot.
THE GHE of anthro CO2 did not outweigh the -ve forcing of sulphate aerosols and “global dimming” until into the eighties.
And thereby rebutting this assertion….
“Just as it didn’t do any warming between 1940 and 1975”

Mark - Helsinki
Reply to  Newminster
May 20, 2016 1:55 am

That’s not observed attribution Toneb, ROFL. It’s observed warming adjusted to hell and models that have been brought in line with observations.
The sulfate question is also actually unknown, and lastly WIki is not a source.

Mark - Helsinki
Reply to  Newminster
May 20, 2016 1:56 am

*models brought into line with adjusted observations

Mark - Helsinki
Reply to  Newminster
May 20, 2016 1:56 am

Your logic is completely flawed and you are seeing what you want to see

Mark - Helsinki
Reply to  Newminster
May 20, 2016 2:03 am

It only makes sense if one is ludicrous to claim, and you are, that all warming is man made and all cooling is natural. Typical Guardian reader logic.
It seems there are some scientists who say man made CO2 is influencing warming since 1850 and others who say (IPCC) 1960.
Also the claim “And the “global dimming” of dirty industry post WW2 that lasted into the 80’s….” is baseless
Where is the data to show this? It’s cant be a temperature graph or a model btw

Gary Hladik
Reply to  Nylo
May 19, 2016 12:06 pm

Nylo, that was also my first thought, assuming of course that the measurements are “robust”. Another possibility is that the “pause” is really the measurement error. Or maybe it’s something else entirely.
Gee, this science stuff is HARD. 🙂

george e. smith
Reply to  Nylo
May 19, 2016 4:06 pm

I think you are confusing warming with changes in CO2.
For the subject 16 year period, the paper says, there has been no change in albedo.
For the subject 16 year period, the data says there has been no change in the Temperature.
For the subject 16 year period, the paper says the CO2 has increased circa 24 PPM.
Ergo The Temperature MAY be tracking the albedo; but it most certainly is NOT tracking the CO2, nor for that matter is it tracking the global human population.

May 19, 2016 9:41 am

Since I’m lazy and don’t want to go read the paper etc., does anyone know what wavelengths they are measuring? It seems to me that reflectance at different wavelengths would be important.

Reply to  coaldust
May 19, 2016 9:45 am

True. The whole global warming story is that the IR is absorbed by the increased CO2, and therefore can’t leave the earth system like it did before we F-ed everything up.

Reply to  coaldust
May 19, 2016 9:52 am

just all the white light from the moon that gets through the earth’s atmosphere.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 10:28 am

Thanks, Leif!

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 12:37 pm

What’s the wavelenght of white light again, lsvalgaard?
(I’m guessing he meant viable light ; )

Reply to  JohnKnight
May 19, 2016 12:42 pm

white light is that mixture of all wavelengths that we can see:

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 3:15 pm

(Yeah, I meant visible but I had just come in from glaring sunlight and couldn’t actually see my screen very well ; )

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 19, 2016 4:13 pm

MarkW May 19, 2016 at 2:42 pm
Since they are measuring from the bottom of the atmosphere

Well 7800 feet up anyway.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 20, 2016 11:09 am

What about all the blue light scattered in the atmosphere each way? Sun looks yellow, moon looks white…

george e. smith
Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 20, 2016 1:41 pm

The Radiation reflected from the moon would include the solar spectrum radiation that is reflected from earth (albedo) plus the LWIR radiant emission from the earth that is emitted to space, to stop it overheating.
So the solar spectrum portion of it, would have 98% of the power between 0.5 and 8.0 times the peak wavelength , so that is about 250 nm to 4.0 microns, for the solar insolation peaking at about 500 nm.
The earth LWIR emission on the other hand has a spectral peak at about 10 microns, so the 98% spectrum is from 5.0 microns to 80.0 microns.
So those two do not overlap, so a filter can easily stop the 5-80 micron LWIR leaving the solar spectrum component.
Now at night time, there wouldn’t be direct sunlight scattering in the night time atmosphere, but the radiation returning from the moon would presumably scatter very much the same as it did when originating from the sun.
Both the moon and the sun subtend an angle of about 30 arc minutes, so they would be quite similar spectra, just quite different intensity.
So the blue component should scatter in pretty much the same way that the sun does, and since it is illuminating the whole night time sky, the apparently black sky is really sky blue just like in daytime.
So at the surface, the moonshine spectrum should have lost some more of the short wave part of the spectrum, due to the Raleigh and Mie Scattering that we see in daylight.
But generally those should be fairly constant factors.
But that doesn’t alter the apparent fact reported in this paper, that for the 16 years of their observations neither the albedo, nor the Temperature show any significant change, whereas the CO2 has clearly increased by some 24 ppmm over that time.
That suggests that albedo controls the Temperature, and CO2 does not. At least that’s how it was for that 16 years during the pause.

Lance Wallace
Reply to  coaldust
May 19, 2016 1:07 pm

The paper did not seem to give a precise definition of the wavelengths being monitored. However, the last paragraph indicated that they will be measuring “color albedo” in the future. they do reference a 2005 paper that looked at albedo as a function of lambda. That paper (Montanez 2005) used a single night (actually only about 5 hours) of monitoring spectroscopic variations from Palomar. The range of frequences was from 480-980 nm. The albedo dropped sharply from about 0.3 at 500 nm to 0.25 at 600 nm and then stayed pretty much the same out to 980 nm.

Reply to  Lance Wallace
May 19, 2016 2:42 pm

Since they are measuring from the bottom of the atmosphere, it’s not likely that UV or IR are included.

george e. smith
Reply to  coaldust
May 19, 2016 4:08 pm

Roger that. Just what moonshine are they drinking ??

Kevin Kilty
May 19, 2016 10:00 am

I am a bit surprised by the alleged correspondence of absolute measurements from satellite and the indirect measurement of earthshine, because the weighting as a function of latitude has to be very different. What this suggests to me is that the albedo must be dominated by what occurs in the tropics.

Stephen Rasey
Reply to  Kevin Kilty
May 19, 2016 10:41 am

“Alleged correspondence” is a good choice of words.
Are the measurements from the individual recording stations and methods shown? Or are they blended together in some sort of minimum error weighting model?
CERES satellites if I am not mistaken are in Sun synchronous orbits, so they take their measurements at a constant solar time over the ground. The TERRA satellite, for instance passes the equator southbound at 10:30 am solar local time on every orbit.
10:30 am is a lousy time to measure the earth’s albeto from cloud cover.
There are two other CERES satelites, one is only 20 minutes behind the other, the other is an afternoon pass, like at 1:30 pm local time.
Willis has pointed out how afternoon clouds in the tropics can change the albeto in late afternoon quickly, even from the low sun angle late afternoon reflecting off of towering cumulous clouds.
So I wonder just how good the CERES data really is at albedo measurement and how closely the agree with Earthshine.

Michael J. Dunn
Reply to  Kevin Kilty
May 19, 2016 12:27 pm

The Moon is far enough away, and the reflected light is sufficiently non-specular that it smears across the Moon. What you are concerned about has no effect.

george e. smith
Reply to  Michael J. Dunn
May 19, 2016 4:14 pm

The moon’s reflectance is clearly not the same everywhere on the moon.
Unless the moonshine measurements are made ONLY within +/- 24-48 hours of Full moon, I would NOT trust the values.
This method is too many proxies removed from measuring what lands on earth under the albedo mirror.

Stephen Rasey
Reply to  Michael J. Dunn
May 19, 2016 4:47 pm

I think the concern Kevin and myself is on the “Alleged Correspondence”, emphasis on “Alleged” between albedo estimates separately from CERES and Earthshine off the moon.
It might indeed be that Earthshine is sufficiently averaged via smear that it is the better of the two classes of measurement. But Earthshine is a non-dense form of measurement in that it is dependent upon the phase of the Earth and the relative axial tilt as a function of time of year. Only a small fraction of the month is the moon sufficiently “NEW” and sees a Full Earth to get a good average. Does it see the Earth morning or afternoon? (It matters). The moon’s maximum declination with respect to the earth’s equator can change by 10 degrees over the course of a score of years from +/- 28.5 deg to +/-18.5 deg. (see “Lunar Standstill Couple that with the hemispheric spring season of blinding white ice, north pole and especially south pole, and there are a lot of degrees of freedom in the lunar Earthshine measurement.
Conversely, CERES seems to be designed to minimize the variability of albedo as a function of the time of local day and seems ill-suited to the task of measuring the earth’s overall albedo an any given time of day. CERES is well able to measure the albedo changes of any particular point at 10:30 am. But can it determine the albedo change at 3 pm?
or 5pm,
or 8pm,
or 8am.?

Reply to  Michael J. Dunn
May 19, 2016 8:12 pm

Unless the moonshine measurements are made ONLY within +/- 24-48 hours of Full moon, I would NOT trust the values.

It was stated that there was monthly variability in the data.
With the exception of small variations due to libation, the same part of the moon’s surface is always towards Earth. It should be possible to measure variation in reflectance across the surface and compensate for whatever section of that surface is being observed.
I have not read the paper to see whether this is done. Neither, it seems, have you.

Michael J. Dunn
Reply to  Michael J. Dunn
May 20, 2016 12:59 pm

Dear George,
First, a hat tip to Greg, for pointing out that we always see the same side of the Moon (libration being only a small effect), so integrating over the face of the Moon should be a suitable approach.
Second, a guffaw at your suggestion that we should attempt these measurements only at full Moon–when the Moon only has the dark side of the Earth to reflect! (Really embarrassing when you out yourself like this.)

May 19, 2016 10:22 am

What are the +/- W/m^2 variation boundaries? How do they compare to IPCC AR5’s CO2 RF of 2 W/m^2? AR5 credited cloud CRE with -20 W/m^2. A +/- 10% matches/exceeds CO2’s RF.

Reply to  Nicholas Schroeder
May 19, 2016 1:15 pm

The paper is also available at this non-paywalled site:
Figure 4 gives you the values: the top panel suggests that over the zero trend period measured, that albedo variation was +3.5W/m2 to -3W/m2.

Gary Pearse
May 19, 2016 10:24 am

By eyeball, it seems obvious that albedo has increased in the latter 5years or so. It would have become an actual scientific paper if they’d also layed the other albedo data over a longer period beside it. I’m curious about a few decades ago when there was warming. Such an important negative feedback should be getting all the attention it can get.

Thomas Homer
May 19, 2016 11:06 am

If you were to throw a brick into a brook of running water, the brick would trap/reflect some amount of water for some amount of time. But the throughput of water would remain the same.
Isn’t that analogous to the claim that CO2 traps/reflects some amount of Earth’s radiation for some amount of time, but the throughput would remain the same? So these measurements of Earth’s Albedo would also remain consistent.
Now we need those that make the claim about CO2 having a “greenhouse gas” property to show how this physical property is measured. By definition, physical properties can be measured. If it can’t be measured, it’s not a physical property.

Reply to  Thomas Homer
May 19, 2016 11:38 am

It’s not analogous. Albedo works on completely different wavelengths than does CO2.
It’s true that the total energy over some arbitrary time period will remain pretty close to the same.
That is, at any given instant total energy in may not exactly equal total energy out, but over time, they will average out to about equal, with the net difference approximating the change in temperature over the same period.
More clouds would reflect more light. To tie that into your analogy that might be the equivalent to someone digging an alternate channel and diverting some of the water away from your brick.

Thomas Homer
Reply to  MarkW
May 19, 2016 12:40 pm

Thank you Mark – why aren’t we measuring the Earth’s reflectivity/emission for the “completely different” wavelengths that CO2 does “work on”? We’ll call that Albedo Prime. Does my analogy hold for Albedo Prime?

Reply to  MarkW
May 19, 2016 2:45 pm

Because we care about all energy, not just the energy in the CO2 bands.
One of the stations that’s been measuring albedo the longest by measuring light reflected from the moon, is at the bottom of the atmosphere, which means that UV and IR are blocked by the atmosphere.

Thomas Homer
Reply to  MarkW
May 20, 2016 3:50 am

“Because we care about all energy, not just the energy in the CO2 bands.”
The whole entire premise of CAGW is that CO2 is trapping energy. Perhaps we should focus on measuring that?
What we’ll find is that the throughput of these CO2 bands remains unchanged, just like the water in the brook. Now the claim is that CO2 is trapping some amount of energy for some amount of time. Since the energy in the CO2 bands is moving at the speed of light,
let’s see how long light is trapped in a room full of mirrors, and that is our order of magnitude.

May 19, 2016 12:15 pm

You need to factor in changes in TSI.

Reply to  MarkW
May 19, 2016 12:18 pm

That is, you if you wish to calculate how much energy is actually reaching the surface.

Reply to  MarkW
May 19, 2016 12:28 pm

If I understand the measurement, they are measuring the ratio of the sunlit and earthlit sides of the moon. So TSI falls right out of the ratio. The technique is an automatic correction for source (sun) intensity.

Reply to  MarkW
May 19, 2016 12:34 pm

not really, as the change in TSI is much smaller than the error bar for the albedo.

Peter Sable
May 19, 2016 12:40 pm

Preceding, and here comes, oodles of wild speculation on various correlations on not NEARLY enough data to speculate upon. Let’s do as the author suggests and measure it better. Then wait for 60 years of data to cover the ocean multi-decadal cycles, and THEN draw some conclusions.

May 19, 2016 12:51 pm

The Earthshine data is one of the sets of observations that led me to consider the possibility of changing Earth’s albedo via changes in the meridionality of the jet stream tracks on the basis that more meridionality results in longer lines of air mass mixing and thus more clouds.
Such meridionality does seem to be solar related:

Reply to  Stephen Wilde
May 19, 2016 4:46 pm


May 19, 2016 1:13 pm

For interests sake the earth to moon albedo stats should be compared to satellite records.
Measuring the brightness of the Dark Side of the Moon and calculating out the Earths albedo maybe cheap but is it accurate.
I’m more interested in Earths albedo in day/night.

Reply to  Andyj
May 19, 2016 1:24 pm

Just for accuracy, the dark side of the moon is not dark. It is the side of the moon that faces away from the earth, so does not receive earthshine, by definition.
You meant measuring the brightness of earthshine visible in moon shadow, on the side that faces the earth.
And the albedo measurement is only reflective of Earth’s day side, obviously.

Reply to  Pauly
May 19, 2016 2:48 pm

Since there is only one station that is measuring this data (Big Bear Observatory (now that’s tough field work)) that means that the same side of the earth is always being tested. To get better data there should be two or three observatories as evenly spaced as possible.

george e. smith
Reply to  Pauly
May 19, 2016 4:21 pm

Not so.
It is earth’s day side reflectance plus earth’s night side transmission, and each of the two is not the same.
Remember they are recording photons that have been to the earth twice, and visited the moon on the way . That’s not a good way to measure the photons that visit the earth once AND STAY HERE !!

Reply to  Pauly
May 19, 2016 10:53 pm

There is no dark side of the moon, really.
Matter of fact, it is all dark.
The moon is blacker than freshly laid asphalt.

May 19, 2016 1:13 pm

I’m afraid Earthshine is a terrible way of measuring Earth’s albedo.
Albedo was measured by ISCCP satellite between 1994 and 2000, and showed a marked decrease in Earth’s albedo from about a +3% anomaly to 0% anomaly. Apparently nobody trusts that data anymore and has been ditched. It is in black in this figure from Pallé et al., 2004comment image
In blue in the same figure is the Earthshine albedo calculation from the same article.
There was a big uproar because Earthshine data showed a big increase of albedo at a time of cooling and thus provided an alternative explanation to GW.
So the data was reanalyze by Pallé et al., 2008
To show that the increase in albedo was actually quite a lot less.
This figure from Tallbloke shows the end result. Anything later than 2000 is only Earthshine, and the 2008 data (light blue) shows a marked reduction in the trend.comment image
However a new satellite, CERES, started measuring albedo in 2000, as reported by Loeb et al., 2012.
They found albedo is pretty constant. We can see albedo changes both global and by latitude in this figure:
from Seidel et al., 2014
Now Pallé et al., 2016 say that the Earthshine data is in good agreement with satellite data. It is not. Earthshine data has to be adjusted a lot, and shows a lot more variability than satellite data. Even their own figure 4 shows that the agreement between both is not very good. They however claim that it is good and get away with it.
What the albedo data says is that a 1% anomaly is actually huge in terms of energy. However the Earth is strongly buffered so that the short term changes in albedo that are being measured do not translate to changes in temperature. Over the long term, small changes in albedo that we cannot accurately measure and we have not been measuring long enough to detect could potentially have a bigger effect than changes in atmospheric GHG concentration.
Earthshine data appears pretty much useless and could lead to mistakes if trusted.

george e. smith
Reply to  Javier
May 19, 2016 4:26 pm

Well you’ve got that right. Earthshine photons have come here twice, and been to the moon as well.
And as for their recent studies showing no albedo variations, I think that sort of jibes with there being no warming either for the same time. Ergo no change in earth’s energy capture from the sun.

Stephen Rasey
Reply to  Javier
May 19, 2016 8:22 pm

My problem with CERES data is that it is acquired by three satellites in two solar synchronous orbits.

CERES data comes from a device on solar synchronous satellites (TERRA, AURA, AQUA) which are 720 km high, 99 min. orbits. TERA only sees the earth at solar 10am to 11am (depending on Latitude) making its equatorial pass at 10:30 am. AURA and AQUA are in the same orbital plane train, 8 minutes apart making sunlight equatorial passes at 1:30 pm. (Rasey – 1/5/2014)

The CERES satellites do an excellent job of looking at changes in the earth and atmosphere globally, but only at two times per day: 10:30 and 1:30 pm. But can they measure changes in cloud cover over the years at 3pm, 4pm, 5pm? No. those times are beyond the horizon from the satellite in the tropics.
The CERES dataset contains data at other times, but these data come from the GOES geosync satellites.
Perhaps GOES has the instrumentation to properly measure the albedo changes over the years. But then, why would it be called the “CERES” dataset?

Reply to  Javier
May 19, 2016 8:55 pm

Actually, Earthshine has been quite useful. Earthshine found an albedo increase that the satellites had missed. Both Earthshine and the satellite projects ended up being improved – and the albedo increase stayed.'s_reflectance_1999-2007
It is always a good idea to measure things from different angles and in different ways, so Earthshine does have value.
More useful information here: (see “Can Earth’s Albedo and Surface
Temperatures Increase Together?”).

Reply to  Mike Jonas
May 20, 2016 5:23 am

I agree that it is a good idea to measure things in different ways even if one of the ways is shitty. In this case in my opinion the Erthshine is the shitty one.
They explain the huge peak in albedo in 2003 that they detect and satellites do not as sparse data (your second reference), and the increase in albedo and temperatures as due to changes in the ratio of high-clouds / low-clouds (also in your second reference). Another example of “science” that can explain one thing and the opposite and accommodate any result and still be right.
In your first reference, if you care to look for it, the first figure is shameful. Top Earthsine and bottom CERES do not look at all any similar, One has positive slope and the other negative, yet the author concludes that they “do not differ much.” It is not a good journal, but still one wonders how these things get passed peer review.

Reply to  Javier
May 19, 2016 9:01 pm

Thanks for the added detail.

Reply to  Javier
May 19, 2016 10:35 pm

Do you understand that the Earth shine data is limited to the spectral window from 0.36 to 1.0 microns while the CERES data that you are displaying is for a much wider spectral range? You are comparing oranges with apples – hence your analysis is essentially worthless. The Earth-shine project is not measuring the Earth’s total albedo – and it has never claimed that it has. It only measures the ratio of reflected light from the Earth to incoming light in the visual and near infra-red.

Reply to  astroclimateconnection
May 19, 2016 11:25 pm

Of course. Read the linked papers.

Reply to  astroclimateconnection
May 20, 2016 5:28 am

It is not my analysis that we are talking about, astroclimateconnection. It is the people responsible for the Earthshine data that are doing the apple to oranges comparison when they transform the Earthshine data into changes in % of total albedo or albedo anomaly, and changes in W/m2 to compare their data with satellite data. See for example fig 2 in: image?w=700
You should take your complain to them.

Reply to  Javier
May 20, 2016 4:38 am

That’s a very strong AMO signal on the ISCCP data.

May 19, 2016 2:15 pm

The relation between polar caps and albedo has to be discussed. An AGW proponent please step forward.
According to AGW, the two melting poles, now 1 Mio sqkm less than 30 years ago in their extend, should lower the albedo because of no more sunlight reflectance from the missing ice surface. The global overheating is connected to the dark water surfaces, which, now free of ice, absorb more heat instead of reflecting it into space.
Mosher, step forward. Cheers JS

Reply to  J.Seifert
May 19, 2016 3:11 pm

Global albedo is mainly atmospheric albedo. Surface albedo has a very small contribution to global albedo, and most of it comes from Antarctica. The changes in global albedo due to Arctic melting are imperceptible. The effect of changes in albedo on ice melting both on glaciers and sea ice are so far inferred, not demonstrated.

george e. smith
Reply to  Javier
May 19, 2016 4:35 pm

Albedo is global. Reflectance may be local. Albedo is one number for the entire earth. 35% or thereabouts.
Not much sunshine at the poles to even worry about so how much gets reflected from there is irrelevant.

Reply to  Javier
May 20, 2016 4:44 am

Albedo is not a number. It is a surface property, and can be measured and calculated for any part of it, like for example on a latitudinal axis:
Antarctica is a significant contributor to global albedo unlike most of the rest of the Earth’s surface.

george e. smith
Reply to  J.Seifert
May 19, 2016 4:33 pm

There seems to be a very good reason for all that ice at the polar regions.
I think it might have something to do with there not being very much sunshine getting to the poles.
And if there is not much sunshine getting to the poles, then there wouldn’t be very much reflected sunshine from the poles contributing to earth’s overall albedo of 0.35 or so.
So nyet on polar ice affecting earth albedo much.
And just think how bloody cold the poles would be, if it wasn’t for all of the huge amount of heat convected to the poles by ocean currents like the gulf stream and atmospheric currents. Ergo, there’s even less sunshine at the poles than you would think, so even less albedo component from polar ice.

bit chilly
Reply to  george e. smith
May 19, 2016 4:51 pm

it would be really good if you could go over to the arctic sea ice forum and explain that george e.smith. they seem to have terrible trouble understanding that.

Reply to  george e. smith
May 20, 2016 10:44 am

the entire average albedo of Earth tends to be measured at 0.30 or so (with variations substantially from that at different times. what matters is the sunlit side hemisphere. ocean tends to run around less than 0.04 albedo and land typically from 0.12 to as much as 0.4 (sand and snow) but it’s only 1/3 of the surface. About 62% of the Earth has cloud cover at any particular time. This has higher albedo reflection than even snow and sand. When you calculate it out, assuming albedo = 0.3, then the atmosphere albedo (including atmospheric scattering) provides about 0.22 of the albedo and the surface visible through the clouds or between the clouds provides about 0.08. What is absorbed in the Earth system is TSI * (1.0 – albedo). While you are right about Palle’ having a heck of a mess to deal with figuring out albedo from Earthshine, there has been very little albedo data acquired over the years yet this absorbed power is actually relevant to Earth’s power balance while TSI is not directly relevant because albedo is totally variable in the short term and perhaps in the long term. The simple use of TSI assumes that albedo is a constant. Of course the great ‘minds’ of agw talk about albedo variation only in terms of human corruption due to land use changes – total BS since it’s 70% ocean to begin with. The other problem with this though is that it is not just cloud cover but also cloud reflectivity that affects most of Earth’s albedo. Lindzen’s iris effect (as I recall) was totally associated with reflectivity of the clouds rather than the cloudy fraction of Earth. It also does provide that opportunity of chaotic undeterminable behavior since it is both cloud cover fraction and cloud reflectivity that affects the albedo and that means there is this huge variety of internal and external factors that can affect it and it is ulikely that these factors can truly be segregated and quantified

May 19, 2016 4:57 pm

I bet my last dollar if this albedo chart showed a trend that aligned with the CAGW meme, it would be lauded everywhere, esp. MSM.and CSIRO. Doom and gloom is what those in power need / want to keep the status quo. O/T but… It would be nice to see governments only pass new legislation by removing an equal number.

Ian Wilson
May 19, 2016 9:09 pm

I will stick my neck out and make the following prediction about the mean monthly apparent albedo anomaly:
Not withstanding the large error bars associated with the mean monthly apparent albedo anomalies, and the gap in the albedo anomaly data between June 2005 and December 2006, there appears to be rough correlation between the 6 month retarded SOI and the monthly apparent albedo anomaly.
Please see:
If this correlation has any validity then I would predict that the Earth’s mean monthly albedo anomaly will remain in negative territory from late 2014 till the end of 2015.
The next few of years of data from the Earth-shine project should be very interesting if it does.

May 19, 2016 10:28 pm

Does not look very balanced to me, appears weighted to the upside in recent years.

May 19, 2016 10:29 pm

comment image

May 20, 2016 4:36 am

Full paper here: .
Palle, E., et al. “Earth’s albedo variations 1998–2014 as measured from ground‐based earthshine observations.” Geophysical Research Letters (2016).
As for long-term changes in albedo, I draw you attention to Fig. 4 at the end of the paper and to this summary on page X-3.
“On shorter time scales, large inter-annual albedo changes are observable, for example over the 2008-2010 interval there isa strongly increasing trend in albedo. However, this trend begins to reverse after 2010. Thus, taken in isolation, over the past several years, 2007-2014, the Earth’s albedo, as registered by earthshine, has shown a net trendless interval.”
In my opinion seven years is not “long-term”. Another Pallé paper is much longer term.
Changes in Earth’s Reflectance over the Past Two Decades
“The decrease in Earth’s reflectance from 1984 to 2000 suggested by ISCCP data in 5RPk”) corresponds to a change in ?p* of some –0.02, which translates into a decrease of the Bond albedo by 0.02 (?p*/p* =?A/A) (- ) and an additional SW absorption, R, of 6.8 W/m (R = ?A × C/4, where C = 1368 W/m is the solar constant). This is climatologically very significant. For example, the latest IPCC report (‘ &) argues for a 2.4 W/m increase in CO longwave forcing since 1850. Our observational ES data extend from 1999 to 2003 and indicate a clear reversal of the ISCCP-derived reflectance trend starting in 1999 up through 2003. The increasing trend in reflectance corresponds to approximately 5 W/m , bringing the mean reflectance anomaly back to its 1980s values. Only the ES data are currently available to signal this reversal; it will be interesting to see how the proxy behaves when ISCCP data are available beyond mid- 2001.”
(poorly copied, pls refer to the paper)

Reply to  Frederick Colbourne
May 20, 2016 10:09 am

That 1368 w/m^2 is wrong and the reduction of 8 w/m^2 matters. The IPCC got all the numbers to match.I wonder how they did that? It’s 1360 w/m^2. If 1368 were the right number a decrease of 1 w/m^2 would wipe out the entire global warming regime. The only way I can see that they would address the 1360 w/m^2 is to ignore it. Oh, and that 1368 is used in the temperature constructions on Mars and Venus, probably others as well. By the IPCC’s own reckoning, the forcing of co2 is 0.66 w/m^2. What do you think it does to this ” latest IPCC report (‘ &) argues for a 2.4 W/m increase in CO longwave forcing since 1850.” . Bottom line is that the IPCC is off in their calculations, anywhere, again depending on which paper you reference for TSI, form 2 to 3 C… lower not warmer.

Pamela Gray
May 20, 2016 6:48 am

What matters is how much energy reaches oceanic locations that act as super cell batteries. We don’t need to know about land surfaces. Ring the Earth with anchored ocean sensors in the equatorial band that measures incoming solar energy at the ocean surface, as well as below the surface.

May 20, 2016 7:54 am

Interesting treatment. So from the arguments, I get that the earth “shines”. Produces it’s own light,, called albedo. Black magic? The mirror produces it’s own light? I gotta see that. There is no effect calculated from that ball of light that illuminates us? Interesting. It doesn’t vary in its output? But the earths shine is noteworthy as the sun’s output is negligible. Where is Denmark again?

May 20, 2016 10:57 am

What might account for noisy and quiet episodes?

May 20, 2016 1:23 pm

How could this “science” be “settled” considering this important factor is just now being defined/quantified with measurements? This “science” is such a rush to judgement joke. What if they find fall in albedo can explain all the warming, and has nothing to do with CO2? The very fact all the funding has gone to collecting data on CO2 and not the sun, absorption, H2O and other key variables pretty much proves this isn’t a real science. It is a propaganda data generator. They crank out data like communist agracultural bureaucrats did to claim they were meeting the absurd quotas established by Stalin, Pol Pot, Castro, Mao and Kim Jung. They were all lies to support the communist lie.

May 20, 2016 2:18 pm

Fiscal meltdown.

Proud Skeptic
May 22, 2016 8:41 am

16 years?
Maybe after observing it for another 16 centuries we will have enough data to draw rational conclusions.

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