Decadal variability of clouds

by Robert Ellison (Chief Hydrologist)

The theory and estimation of the role of cloud in changing Earth’s dynamic energy balance is an area of fundamental weakness in climate science.  Low level stratiform cloud forms over cool ocean water and dissipates over warm.  The Pacific Ocean is where sea surface temperature (SST) varies most.  SST changes dramatically across the Pacific Ocean as a result of a shifting balance between cold, turbulent, nutrient rich and acidic water rising in the eastern Pacific and the suppression of upwelling of sub-surface currents by a warm surface layer.  A thermally enhanced satellite image as of the 7th of February 2011 can be found at this NOAA site.  It shows the ‘V’ shaped wedge of cold water typical of the 20 to 40 year cool La Niña dominant mode of the Pacific multi-decadal pattern.  It covers a good part of the planet.

The Pacific multi-decadal pattern involves modulation of the frequency and intensity of the ENSO.  This can most easily be seen in the multivariate ENSO index (MEI) of Klaus Wolter in Figure 1.  A bias is seen towards La Niña (blue) conditions prior to 1976/77, a shift thereafter to an El Niño (red) bias and a subsequent shift after 1998 back to a cooler bias.  The MEI is based on six observed variables over the tropical Pacific. These six variables are: sea-level pressure, zonal and meridional components of the surface wind, sea surface temperature, surface air temperature, and total cloudiness fraction of the sky.

Figure 1: Multivariate ENSO Index (Source: NOAA; click on link)

The risk in focusing on a specific index is that the woods will be obscured by the trees.  A 2007 study by Anastasios Tsonis – ‘A new dynamical mechanism for major climate shifts’ – shows that ENSO is part of a global and chaotic system.  There are tremendous energies cascading through powerful systems.  However, given the dramatic changes in upwelling of cold water on interannular to decadal and millennial timescales in the eastern Pacific – this is what drives most of the changes in global average surface temperature,  hydrology and marine biology.  Tsonis (2009) observed in a sediment record a ‘chaotic bifurcation’ from La Niña to El Niño dominated conditions 5000 years ago.  This resulted in the drying of the Sahel and changed the path of human cultural development. Professor Jonathon Nott of James Cook University was interviewed by the ‘The Australian’ newspaper in the tense day before cyclone Yasi hit.  Cyclones in Australia are much bigger and much more frequent in La Niña years than otherwise. He said that ‘what the record shows is we go through extended periods, hundreds of years, of high activity and extended periods of little activity.’ God help us – the past 150 years have been a period of little activity.  There is little to suggest that we have more than skimmed the surface of Pacific Ocean variability.

In the past 60 years, observation from ships show cloud change over the same periods as the well known modes of Pacific Ocean decadal SST variability.  A change to less cloud in the shift to a warm El Niño dominated Pacific decadal pattern in the late 1970’s and a change to more cloud following the shift to a La Niña dominated cool mode since 1998. Satellite measurements have since quantified decadal changes in outgoing shortwave and longwave radiative flux associated with cloud changes in the Pacific.

Burgman et al (2008) use a variety of data sources to examine decadal variability of surface winds, water vapour (WV), outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and clouds.  They conclude that the ‘most recent climate shift, which occurred in the 1990s during a period of continuous satellite coverage, is characterized by a ‘La Niña’ SST pattern with significant signals in the central equatorial Pacific and also in the north-eastern subtropics. There is a clear westward shift in convection on the equator, and an apparent strengthening of the Walker circulation. In the north-eastern subtropics, SST cooling coinciding with atmospheric drying appears to be induced by changes in atmospheric circulation. There is no indication in the wind speed that the changes in SST or WV are a result of changes in the surface heat flux. There is also an increase in OLR which is consistent with the drying.  Finally, there is evidence for an increase in cloud fraction in the stratus regions for the 1990s transition as seen in earlier studies.’

In a study that was widely interpreted as a demonstration of a positive global warming cloud feedback, Amy Clement and colleagues (2009) presented observational evidence of decadal change in cloud cover in surface observation of clouds from the Comprehensive Ocean Atmosphere Data Set (COADS).  ‘Both COADS and adjusted ISCCP data sets show a shift toward more total cloud cover in the late 1990s, and the shift is dominated by low- level cloud cover in the adjusted ISCCP data. The longer COADS total cloud time series indicates that a similar magnitude shift toward reduced cloud cover occurred in the mid-1970s, and this earlier shift was also dominated by marine stratiform clouds. . . Our observational analysis indicates that increased SST and weaker subtropical highs will act to reduce NE Pacific cloud cover.’ As was clearly stated in the paper, the evidence was for a decadal cloud feedback.  The feedbacks correspond exactly to changes in the Pacific multi-decadal pattern.

A number of studies have demonstrated the connection of ENSO to radiative flux and therefore to cloud.  In an analysis of global warming cloud feedbacks, Dessler (2010) used short term variations in surface temperature and CERES data to determine that cloud cover was negatively correlated with temperature.  Dessler also plotted ENSO against surface temperature leaving no doubt that ENSO was the primary cause of the short term temperature variations.  Leaving aside anthropogenic global warming – the finding of a positive feedback here is in the first instance an ENSO feedback.  As was reported, ‘the climate variations being analysed here are primarily driven by ENSO, and there has been no suggestion that ENSO is caused by cloud variations.’  The study takes a statistical approach that may gloss over the difference in processes in play in ENSO and from global warming.

Zhu et al (2007) found that cloud formation for ENSO and for global warming have different characteristics and are the result of different physical mechanisms.  The change in low cloud cover in the 1997-1998 El Niño came mainly as a decrease in optically thick stratocumulus and stratus cloud.  The decrease is negatively correlated to local SST anomalies, especially in the eastern tropical Pacific, and is associated with a change in convective activity.  ‘During the 1997–1998 El Niño, observations indicate that the SST increase in the eastern tropical Pacific enhances the atmospheric convection, which shifts the upward motion to further south and breaks down low stratiform clouds, leading to a decrease in low cloud amount in this region.  Taking into account the obscuring effects of high cloud, it was found that thick low clouds decreased by more than 20% in the eastern tropical Pacific… In contrast, most increase in low cloud amount due to doubled CO2 simulated by the NCAR and GFDL models occurs in the subtropical subsidence regimes associated with a strong atmospheric stability.’

The surface observed decadal atmospheric changes have quantified support in satellite measurements of top of atmosphere radiative flux. This is what NASA/GISS says about the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project data. The ‘slow increase of global upwelling LW (infrared or heat) flux at TOA from the 1980’s to the 1990’s, which is found mostly in lower latitudes, is confirmed by the ERBS records.’  ‘The overall slow decrease of upwelling SW (visible light)  flux from the mid-1980’s until the end of the 1990’s and subsequent increase from 2000 onwards appears to be caused, primarily, by changes in global cloud cover (although there is a small increase of cloud optical thickness after 2000) and is confirmed by the ERBS measurements.’

Wong et al (2006) find that ‘comparison of decadal changes in ERB with existing satellite-based decadal radiation datasets shows very good agreement among ERBS Nonscanner WFOV Edition3_Rev1, HIRS Pathfinder OLR, and ISCCP FD datasets.’  They estimate the 15 year stability uncertainty of the radiative flux anomaly data (for all three datasets) at 0.3W/m2 to 0.4W/m2.

All global warming in the past 50 years, the period in which the IPCC say most warming occurred because of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, happened between 1977 and 1998.  This is exactly the same period as the last warm El Niño dominated Pacific decadal mode.  In the instrumental record, the trajectory of global surface temperature mirrors the Pacific Ocean states.  Cool to the late 1970’s, warm to 1998 and cool since.  Sea surface temperature is negatively correlated to marine stratiform cloud.  Multiple satellite data sources show that over most of the period of warming there was planetary cooling in the infrared band where greenhouse gases were expected to result in warming – and strong planetary warming as a result of less cloud reflecting less sunlight back into space.   As a testable hypothesis, the current cool La Niña mode of the Pacific decadal pattern will lead to increased cloud cover and global cooling over another decade or three.  After that, in a chaotic climate, it is anyone’s guess.

Biosketch. Robert styles himself in the blogosphere as a Chief Hydrologist.  ‘Cecil Terwilliger (brother to Sideshow Bob) was Springfield’s Chief Hydrological and Hydrodynamical Engineer.  He opined that this was a sacred vocation in some cultures.  The more I thought about this the more it resonated with me.  I am an hydrologist by training, profession and (much more) through a deep fascination with water in all its power and beauty.  Given the importance of water to us practically and symbolically, there is more than an element of the sacred.’   -http://www.earthandocean.robertellison.com.au/

Moderation note: this is a technical thread, moderated for relevance.


218 responses to “Decadal variability of clouds

  1. I think I’ve never heard so loud
    The quiet message in a cloud.

    Hear it now, what were the odds?
    The raucous laughter of the Gods.
    ==============

  2. I do not regard their view as superior to Dessler (2010), but is there some specific reason why Spencer & Braswell (2010) was not cited when discussing ENSO and clouds?

    Dessler’s (2010) results were quite different from S&B even though (as far as I can tell) they used exactly the same data.

    • I was wondering the same thing. And as far as I can tell, no one has rebutted the idea that when clouds are *the cause* of warming, this kind of analysis will always show a positive feedback.

      Maybe someone will answer?

      • I’m always a bit reticent about posting on the technical threads but, I must admit, having read both Dessler and Spencer and followed their – as yet unfinished – debate, I was surprised that Spencer wasn’t represented in the thread.
        Spencer’s ideas regarding feedback and clouds are important I believe: I have no idea who is right out of he and Dessler but Spencer is an important figure nevertheless, particularly in this area of debate.

      • Spencer postulates random changes in cloud as a cause recent warming – which comes first less cloud and warming or warming and less cloud. Here we can see a major reason for why clouds change. He is right as far he goes – but we need that primary causal mechanism to discover which comes first. It is cloud causing global warming in the period of warming of 1977 to 1998.

    • Me too. I’ve been dying to read an detailed criticism of the S&B paper.

    • Dessler was cited simply because of the link he analysed between cloud and ENSO – Spencer and Brasswell don’t address that link at all so were not relevant.

  3. Robert,

    Why is it no one includes the surface salt changes on the oceans?
    The pattern matches just about perfectly with the cold sea surface temperatures.

  4. How do the models treat clouds? Specifically, do the GCMs model the reduction in cloud cover during the warming period 70s to 90s? Is that done by changing the value of albedo or is it treated as natural variability and just averaged out over time? If so, does the averaging out process include multidecadel variations like the one discussed or only shorter term oscillations? Need the model owner’s operating manual!

    Andy Lacis/Fred/Anyone – are you there?

    • Hi Rob – You do need a modeler like Andy Lacis to show up for a very accurate and detailed response. In the meantime:

      As you know, almost all GCM outputs yield a positive cloud feedback with warming (i.e., enhanced warming), although the magnitudes differ. Some of this is depicted in Dessler’s Figure 3 – see Dessler 2010 . The short term results in the Dessler paper, based on observational data, are in the same direction.

      The same figure shows that the positive feedback involves both shortwave and longwave positive feedback. The SW feedback is due mainly to reduced albedo, principally involving reductions in low cloud cover. The LW feedback is due mainly to increased cloud height, because high cirrus clouds exert greenhouse effects that tend to exceed their light scattering (albedo) effects.

      Some observational evidence consistent with the model estimates can be seen in the graph of albedo changes at Flux and Albedo Changes (note also the importance of reading the footnotes to this page to understand some of the sources of errors in flux change estimates, particularly in the LW spectrum in recent years). However, the slight downward trend in albedo is not statistically significant because of pronounced interannual variability (including the effects of volcanic eruptions).

      If one looks at clouds specifically, however, it is clear that the principal source of cloud albedo – low level cloud cover – appears to have declined, consistent with the modeled estimates of SW feedback: Cloud Changes . High clouds are more difficult to interpret, but tend to support the LW effects, or are at least consistent. If you subtract the IR data (LW cloud effects) from the VIS-IR data, it appears that the VIS (cloud albedo) effects have increased, suggesting that total high cloud cover has increased. An increase in high cloud cover at the expense of low cloud cover will alter cloud greenhouse effects in a positive direction. This is because clouds that absorb infrared (IR) radiation at high altitudes, directing some of it downward, have much more IR absorbing capacity than cloud-free air at those altitudes, whereas the IR-absorbing capacity of low level clouds is more closely matched by the high CO2 and H2O concentrations of low-altitude cloud-free air.

      All in all, I would suggest that the models suggest positive feedback in both the SW and LW components, and that the observational evidence is supportive for reduced low level cloud cover, and, while less clear, is not inconsistent in regard to the complex effects of increases in high level clouds.

      • G’day Fred,

        The physical mechanism is described by Zhu et al (2007). Ignoring the ocean effect is not credible. That’s why I led with it.

        Cloud decreased after 1976/77 and increased after 1998 – in line with the Pacific multi-decadal pattern. That is the central point.

        Dessler anlysed ENSO changes – that is the core of that paper. So really we have a physical oceanic system that covers a good part of the oceanic portion of the tropics and subtropics – with demonstrated cloud effects and an impact on global climate, hydrology and biology.

        This system changes on decadal scales at least and the periods of these changes correspond exactly to the trajectory of surface temperature. Finally, in the only period of warming in the past 50 years, 1977 to 1998, we have cooling in the IR and warming in the SW.

        Do you see the problem I am having?

        Cheers
        Rob

      • There is no question that on some timescales ENSO variations will dictate changes in clouds and radiative forcing. However, long term, the warming from anthropogenic GHGs will mediate trends as projected by the models.

        It is not correct to state that warming occurred only from 1977 to 1998. In fact, the trend has continued positive into this century, and through 2010. This point has been addressed thoroughly in the literature and in blogs, and I do not believe that readers familiar with the data will conclude that the peak of the 1998 “super-El Nino” is a legitimate starting point for asserting a difference between earlier and later temperature trends. It is true, however, that the more recent warming has been slower than previously.

        It is also incorrect to conclude that “we have cooling in the IR”, and in fact, that is probably untrue (the data are ambiguous but recent continuation of the rising OHC trend together with rises in CO2 are consistent with continued warming in the IR). It would, however, be correct to state that the upward slope of IR recently is shallower than previously. That of course includes the possibility of IR cooling, but does not demonstrate it.

      • Hi Fred,

        Have a look at the Klaus Wolter MEI and tell me there aren’t decadal changes in ENSO. Or simply take my word for it – this is oceanography 101.

        And the ‘super El Nino’ was my very point. A multi-decadal modulation of the frequency and intensity of ENSO. The raw monthly figures show warming starting after 1976/77 and peaking very strongly in February 1998. That we haven’t had another ‘super’ El Nino is part of the pattern. I think if we are talking about ENSO it is most reasonable to see the break point at 1998. Have a look as well at the Tsonis et al (2007) for the significance of the transition points.

        We gave to look at periods – ISCCP-FD and CERES show cooling of -0.5 and 0.7 W/m2 in the IR – as reported by the IPCC. Wong et al quoted a stability uncertainty of .3 to .4 W/m2 – especially for ERBS. So still a bit of cooling even making the most conservative assumptions.

        The last decade is a little different. The CERES dataset is too short to say much. There doesn’t seem much of a trend in net radiation to 2010. The missing energy is no longer missing? I think that until 2008 there was shortwave warming that showed up only in the von Schuckmann ARGO analysis. But the the current super La Nina is rapidly cooling the planet.

        I suggest that the planet cooled a little to 2010 – but this was all in a reduction in solar irradiance as it dropped to a solar cycle low in 2008.

        This upward slope in IR has me worried. We seemed to have stopped cooling or warming in the IR in CERES? Absolutely – but it cracks me up every time.

      • ISCCP-FD and CERES show cooling of -0.5 and 0.7 W/m2 in the IR”

        Longwave IR is always outward – in that sense it is always “cooling” and the important question is by how much. There is minimal incoming IR from the sun except in the shorter wavelengths (the near IR). The net forcing involves the balance between absorbed SW and emitted LW, which is still positive, although modified by interannual changes in internal climate dynamics such as ENSO.

      • ERBS and ISCCP-FD show an increasing LW trend – 0.5 for ISCCP-FD and 0.7 W.m2 for ERBS – sorry typo

        The near IR is IR and quite a substantial component of solar irradiance.

        The net radiative flux is (-lw up – sw up) – for instance the difference in trend is 0.7 W/m2 lw (increasing trend – cooling) and -2.1 W/m2 SW (decreasing trend – warming). So the net trend is minus 0.7 minus minus 2.1 or net 1.4 W/m2 increase over the period. By convention the net is always shown as the planet gaining energy.

        Clear as mud?

        The radiant imbalance is the difference between solar irradiance and net outgoing (LW+SW) – except the absolute values are somewhat to a lot rubbery.

        Only the trends in solar irradiance and in outgoing radiative flux (SW and LW) have any real utility – a positive trend and the planet is cooling – negative and the planet is warming.

      • guys great discussion it’s cleared loads up for me.

      • Only the trends in solar irradiance and in outgoing radiative flux (SW and LW) have any real utility – a positive trend and the planet is cooling – negative and the planet is warming.

        That’s not correct. A trend in either direction could signify warming or cooling. Only the sign of the absolute difference between incoming and outgoing energy determines whether the planet is warming or cooling. A trend merely tells us whether the cooling or warming slope is changing.

        Although there will always be ups and downs at the surface due to internal climate fluctuations, it appears that the planet has continued to warm in recent years, and as long as CO2 continues to rise, it is hard to foresee something that would change that, barring an asteroid impact.

      • But aerosols could dampen its vigor. What does:

        early century brightening
        mid-century dimming
        late-century brightening
        early century dimming

        look like when graphed?

      • I should clarify the meaning of my comment, because the terms “warming” and “cooling” are often used ambiguously. The planet is warming when the outgoing LW radiation (OLR) is less than the incoming absorbed solar radiation (mainly SW). If the OLR starts to increase, with no other changes, the planet will be warming less, but unless it exceeds the incoming absorbed radiation, it will still be warming – i.e., its temperature will continue to rise.

        “Cooling” is sometimes used to signify only the magnitude of the OLR. In that sense, an increase in OLR represents greater “cooling”, even if the planetary balance remains in a warming direction.

        Finally, we are currently in a La Nina phase of ENSO. At this particular moment, it is certainly conceivable that we are actually cooling (there is a net loss of energy from the entire climate system including the deep oceans). This may or may not be the case, but I was referring to the smoothed out planetary balance over several years. The proper duration for smoothing can be argued, because the fluctuations can be significant over short time spans. Over the course of the past century, ENSO fluctuations tended to average out.

      • I think there some lack of clarity here. If we look the energy equilibrium.

        Ein/s – Eout/s = d(GHC)/dt

        The average unit energy in less the average unit energy out = the rate of change of global heat content. Unit energy in is relatively constant. Eout changes in both the SW and LW. In the period we are talking about(1984 to 1998) – the planet was warming so d(GHC)/dt was positive. That means that Ein > Eout in the period.

        So what changed? Net energy out decreased. The net consists of LW up and SW up components. In this period – all of the warming happened in the shortwave spectrum and there was a significant trend in the other direction in the LW.

        The absolute values of neither incoming or outgoing energy are not known with any precision. But the changes are measurable with an order of magnitude greater precision. If we know whether the planet is warming or cooling in my little equation we can disentangle contributing factors in the SW or LW. This is hard data in which the trends survive considerations of stability uncertainty.

        It can be refined a little bit by looking at the smaller changes in incoming solar irradiance in the solar cycles.

        Here is your statement – “Cooling” is sometimes used to signify only the magnitude of the OLR. In that sense, an increase in OLR represents greater “cooling”, even if the planetary balance remains in a warming direction.”

        It is not complete – the net flux (-SW-LW) is used to determine if the change in outgoing energy is negative or positive. As you say – whether the planet is warming or cooling depends on where the point of radiant balance is – which we don’t know. As I say – if we know whether the planet is warming or cooling – we have a solid point of reference. In the period I am talking about there was warming in the SW which more than offset some cooling in the IR.

        I think you need an engineering education Fred – too much theory and not enough application.

        The current super La Nina certainly is cooling the troposphere – the UAH anomaly for January is at the 30 year mean.

        We cannot tell with much accuracy what ENSO was doing prior to 1950. You have to make an assessment of the quality of your data before making – oh Fred you would try the patience of a saint.

        In the period I am talking about – 1977 to 1998 – ENSO certainly did not ‘even out’. We are talking here of the ‘Great Pacific Climate Shift’ of 1976/77.

      • Fred
        Now I’ve had chance to consider the various responses here’s a couple of points and a question:

        Despite, my initial concerns about the graphs showing low level cloud, the changes in albedo and SW radiation seem to be compelling, and after careful consideration I am now convinced by Robert’s argument (at least for the timescale under consideration.)

        I accept your concerns regarding temperature trends and the start/finish points etc. However, when I look at the global temperature record, say HADCRUT3, it is possible to see quite clearly the changes in the record that Robert has mentioned. Note, I have not mentioned warming or cooling, merely a significant change in the rate. That way we avoid an argument.

        I find the linkage between the timing of these changes and those in the ENSO index to be quite compelling. It is a shame that our rccord does not go back further. If there is a direct link, then Robert’s prediction for the next 2 decades will be telling.

        Sorry to bang on about this, but how is ENSO treated in the models? Am I correct to say that it is averaged out over a long period. In other words the net effect is assumed to be zero? If so, Robert’s analysis poses some challenges. If there is an unpredictable element to natural variability it does not really seem possible to remove it from the calculations to arrive at an accurate climate sensitivity.

        This has been a great thread. I have learned loads. Thanks again to both of you.

      • Sorry,
        where I asked, “sorry to bang on about this, but how is ENSO treated in the models?”

        I meant to ask, ” how are PMDO/PDO treated in the models?”

      • As an Australian I’m interested to know your thoughts on the widespread attribution of our recent severe weather to CO2-induced global warming.

      • G’day Tom,

        As a Chief Hydrologist – this is a particularly galling development. Back in the 1980’s Erskine and Warner – a couple of Newcastle based geomorphologists noticed that some central NSW streams had changed shape. There went from a high energy braided form to a low energy meandering form after the late 1970’s. Looking at flood heights in Newcastle over 150 years – they discovered something they called Flood Dominated Regimes and Drought Dominated Regimes – a 20 to 40 year period of flooding followed by a 20 to 40 year period of droughts. This is now a cornerstone of Australian hydrology.

        These are of course related to the Pacific Changes we are talking about – a FDR to the late 1970’s and a DDR to 1998. Now of course we have had more drought since 1998 in many places in the country. Australia is a big country and the other major factors in rainfall are the Southern Annular Mode and the Indian Ocean Dipole. These have all conspired to produce the perfect storm this year. Suffice to say that these contributed to drought this century in north western, central and southern Australia – which came on top of decades of drought in the 1977 to 1998 DDR.

        What the CSIRO did in their 2007 report is compare rainfall in the FDR to 1977 to rainfall after that and assume that the decline could be attributed to AGW. They then linearly projected regional ‘changes’ into the future. It is an appalling distortion of the hydrological truth.

        We have 110 years of pretty good rainfall records. There is little evidence anywhere of significant departures from the historic norm.

        The claims are made in contrary to evidence on the basis of muddle headed (warning Australian literary allusion) theories.
        We are in FDR now. If Professor Nott is right – we may soon be in a period of super cyclones. It is all much more complex than people imagine and largely driven by these Pacific Ocean changes.

        Cheers
        Rob

      • Ta Chief. Rather as I thought.

      • And be kind to wombats – they are nicer than, say, koalas in every way that matters (including not spontaneously peeing on anyone who holds them) and have had to live with the outrageous slur of muddle-headedness for too long. Why wombats have played Cinderella to the koalas’ and kangaroos’ Ugly Sisters is one of the great mysteries in Australian culture. Wombats are way cuter.

      • Can I tell a funny story about wombats? We were spotlighting for northern hairy nosed wombats in Epping Forest in Central Queensland. There are like 83 of these left in the world.

        My mate Alan was on the roof with a spotlight when one ran out of the grass and under the truck. It flashed through my mind – do I brake hard and lose Alan or run over one of the last of the most endangered animal on the planet?

        Naturally I braked hard – but wombats, if cute and likeable, have a well deserved reputation.

      • CH I had a similar experience in NSW, driving over an unmade road to my weekender. But with less happy results. A wombat darted out into the road, I slowed down, followed it for a few yards. It left the road, I thought it had scarpered, but it suddenly darted back right under my front wheel. I braked and ended up skidding over it, with fatal results. In retrospect I should probably have rolled over it – might have survived, as it was a seriously chunky creature. It was a Sad Day for me, but worse for the wombat. It had no hairy nose, but that wasn’t a lot of comfort for either of us.

        You say that though cute and likeable they have a well-deserved reputation. For what – being in reality grumpy and dislikeable, like koalas? Don’t tell me I must abandon my cherished notions about wombats!?

        I do recall a mate telling me that he lived in SA in the 70s, where apparently it was then legal to keep them as pets. The house he shared had a pet wombat, and by his account it was every bit as amiable as its appearance suggested.

      • For being muddle headed I meant. I have started using the term Climate Wombats – it seems to suit some people.

        Cheers

      • Chief
        Fred’s link called ‘Cloud Changes’ in the comment above seems to show no recent increase in low level clouds only a continual decline. Can you explain please. Thanks.

      • It has been a while since I have been on this site – http://www.climate4you.com/ – a good place to start for lots of stuff including cloud.

        To show the good faith I am always talking about I must admit I have been a bit sloppy in thinking about low and high level cloud. Zhu Ping et al talked about low level cloud dominating the process. Others talked about total cloud. This is the albedo – which is just a ratio between incident and reflected visible light – it is a mirror of the SW graph.

        Fred repeats the generalised theoretical statements about cloud – not wrong. But there are reasonably good measurements of this so why rely on theory?

      • OK – I got it, Chief, I hope you didn’t think I was questioning your good faith; I was merely trying to understand. The albedo graph shows what you are talking about. Thanks for your reply

      • Thanks – I just read something in AR4 that questions the veracity of ISCCP-FD low cloud data. I won’t make any comment yet – the last resort of the scoundrel is to dismiss the data on spurious grounds.

        Cheers

      • I may not be current, but convective clouds were/are considered neutral which I find difficult to understand. Mixing would increase cloud top temps which would increase outgoing I would think.

    • It’s very interesting that the pattern of increased cloud and atmospheric drying is exactly the opposite of the explanation being touted for major precipitation events — supposedly warming leading to increased moisture burden in the air, etc.

      My take is simpler: warmth holds moisture in the air, cool condenses and drops it to the ground.

  5. Robert,

    Pressurization plays a huge role in the evaporation process.
    The mechanics of planetary rotation generates centrifugal force which is the only energy that exerts away from the planet. All other energies exerts to the planets surface. Pressure and rotation smooths out what would be many individual applications processes due to sun, motion and electro-magnetics.

  6. “Multiple satellite data sources show that over most of the period of warming there was planetary cooling in the infrared band where greenhouse gases were expected to result in warming – and strong planetary warming as a result of less cloud reflecting less sunlight back into space.”

    I’d be curious to see a reference for this statement.

    http://www.eumetsat.int/Home/Main/Publications/Conference_and_Workshop_Proceedings/groups/cps/documents/document/pdf_conf_p50_s9_01_harries_v.pdf

    “Previously published work using satellite observations of the clear sky infrared emitted radiation by the Earth in 1970, 1997 and in 2003 showed the appearance of changes in the outgoing spectrum, which agreed with those expected from known changes in the concentrations of well-mixed greenhouse gases over this period. Thus, the greenhouse forcing of the Earth has been observed to change in response to these concentration changes. In the present work, this analysis is being extended to 2006 using the TES instrument on the AURA spacecraft. Additionally, simulated spectra have been calculated using LBLRTM with inputs from the HadGEM1 coupled model and compared to the observed satellite spectra.”

    • The quotes from the NASA/GISS ISCCP-FD say just that – and Wong et al confirm it for ISCCP-FD, ERBS and HIRS in the infrared.

      The slow decrease in SW – less reflected visible light – and slow increase in LW – increasing heat emission from the planet show just that.

      The spectral IR analysis you refer to is something different. There is an effect of greenhouse gases in the IR – as in the reference you linked to. But that is a snapshot as opposed to the decadal evolution of IR emissions in which the greenhouse gas effects are integrated with other changes – especially the Pacific Ocean changes. There are large changes in IR upward power flux year to year and seemingly decade to decade that have nothing to do with greenhouse gases.

      • Please indicate where the NASA page says there was cooling in bans expected to be associated with CO2 acting as a GHG.

      • Can we agree that the NASA/GISS say that: ‘In the first row, the slow increase of global upwelling LW flux at TOA from the 1980’s to the 1990’s, which is found mostly in lower latitudes, is confirmed by the ERBE-CERES records.’

        This seems to be a cloud effect as well – less cloud allows more IR radiative flux escape to space. This is – by the 1st law of thermodynamics – cooling in the infrared spectrum. The planet is in a dynamic disequilibrium – incoming solar energy is relatively constant, what changes most is the outgoing energy. If outgoing energy increases over a period – this energy has to come from somewhere and it is from the heat stored in oceans and atmosphere. So the planet cools. Just so with the outward IR power flux. There is an article at the link above. It can also be found here – http://sciencefile.org/SciFile/component/content/article/2668-a-new-global-climate-change-equation – Andy at science file added the ‘new’ – but it is really quite simple especially if you know a very little bit of calculus.

        It is just some basic physics.

      • But that’s all IR. Not the IR bans related to GHGs, or CO2 specifically.

        I love how as evidence you link me to another blog with an article you’ve writtne.

      • I thought it might be of interest to quote from the Wong paper you cited:

        “1.The new results do not support the recent Iris hypothesis (Lindzen et al. 2001; Lin et al. 2004). As tropical and global SST warms in the late 1990s during the 1997–98 El Niño, the Iris negative feedback predicts net flux to decrease (ocean cooling) as opposed to the increase (ocean heating) seen in Fig. 7.

        2.The ocean heat storage and net radiation data, while showing relatively large interannual variability, are consistent with heating predicted from current state-of-the-art coupled ocean–atmosphere climate models (Barnett et al. 2001). The anticipated change in anthropogenic radiative forcing over the next few decades is estimated as 0.6 W m−2 (decade)−1 (Houghton et al. 2001). The interannual variability in net radiation is of similar magnitude (±0.7 W m−2). Note that the ocean heat storage dataset for single annual-mean values has a sampling uncertainty of 0.4 W m−2 (1σ) so that the larger range of variation in ocean heat storage is more likely due to its larger sampling noise. The radiation dataset has a larger mean bias uncertainty (absolute calibration) but smaller sampling error than the ocean heat storage data. The 10-yr average of ocean heat storage is about 0.6 W m−2, similar to the levels predicted by current climate models for anthropogenic global warming scenarios (Houghton et al. 2001; Hansen et al. 2005).”

        The “Iris hypothesis” was put forth by Lindzen as a mechanism by which CO2 induced climate chagen wouldn’t be a problem.

        “3.The net radiation and ocean heat storage variability predict that studies of cloud feedback in the climate system will require extremely accurate long time series of both ocean heat storage data as well as clear-sky, all-sky, and cloud radiative forcing observations. With anticipated anthropogenic radiative forcing changes of 0.6 W m−2 (decade)−1, cloud radiative forcing changes of only 0.3 W m−2 (decade)−1 can represent 50% changes in climate sensitivity. ”

        At this time, there is no reason to believe that clouds are having the large of an effect.

      • Hi Peter,

        I have read the Wong et al paper.

        “1.The new results do not support the recent Iris hypothesis ..”

        The Isis hypothesis does not seem to accord with evidence.

        “The ocean heat storage and net radiation data, while showing…”

        Net radiative flux is the addition of LW and SW fluxes. These are as shown on the ISCCP-FD site.

        “3.The net radiation and ocean heat storage variability predict that studies of cloud feedback in the climate system…”

        The variability is for the most part caused by these Pacific Ocean changes. They are far greater over decades than the enhanced greenhouse effect. So you would need a long time to pick the signal from the noise. But typically – it is the noise I am interested in.

        ‘At this time, there is no reason to believe that clouds are having the large of an effect.”

        So you don’t believe NASA/GISS – the spectacularly large change in SW up anomaly – the “overall slow decrease of upwelling SW flux from the mid-1980’s until the end of the 1990’s and subsequent increase from 2000 onwards appear to caused, primarily, by changes in global cloud cover (although there is a small increase of cloud optical thickness after 2000) and is confirmed by the ERBS measurements.”

        “I love how as evidence you link me to another blog with an article you’ve writtne.”

        Snarky comments are not appreciated. Here, it is seeking of the sacred hydrological truth through dialogue. For this the required attitude is humor, patience, good will, honesty and good faith.

        Cheers
        Robert

      • I believe what NASA says, but that statement is irrelevant to the comment I made, unless you are claiming the cloud changes are the “direct” result of increases of CO2 (which be transmitted through other variables like increased temperatures).

        Which there is no evidence to support.

      • You actually need more than that. You need the behavior of clouds to flip in response to future warming as compared to their behavior in the more recent past.

      • I don’t know where this is going. There are 2 papers I referenced that show a shift to more cloud in the late 1990’s. One shows a ‘similar magnitude’ shift in the 1970’s. Not much to go on but there is not much around.

        We are on stronger ground with an ENSO and cloud link. That’s abundantly clear.

        The decadal changes in cloud are exactly the periods of SST change in the Pacific. So we are entitled to presume a connection. Finally – the limited satellite evidence shows exactly the decadal pattern appearing everywhere – in global rainfall, cyclones, sardines in Monterey Bay, Chinook Salmon in North American streams, phytoplankton in the equatorial Pacific and clouds. It also shows the climate shift to a cool Pacific mode after 1998.

        It sounds a bit poetic but it is to do with cold and nutrient rich water rising in the eastern Pacific. There are thousands of papers on this. I just googled “great Pacific climate shift” (of 1976/77) and got 7 million hits.

        So clouds increased in cover after 1998 with the shift in Pacific Ocean states.

      • I haven’t been able to read all comments, but has the additional evidence for increased cloud after 98 noted by the Earthshine project of Palle et al been mentioned? In page search doesn’t reveal a mention.

        http://bbso.njit.edu/Research/EarthShine/literature/Palle_etal_2008_JGR.pdf

      • tallbloke

        Palle is definitely one of my inspirations.

        Let’s include a link here – http://www.bbso.njit.edu/Research/EarthShine/

        Cheers

      • OK – so there was a global cloud cover decrease between 1984 and the late 1990’s with a significant SW signature and an increase thereafter?

      • To: Robert Ellison (Chief Hydrologist)

        Thanks for the interesting information.

        Is there any chance that our government (perhaps through HAARP) and/or others are secretly altering weather patterns?

        http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/

        With kind regards,
        Oliver K. Manuel
        Former NASA Principal
        Investigator for Apollo

      • I don’t think so – LOL. If I may be impertinent – we need to be centered in ourselves. As Yoda says – “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

        “Within a man of light, there is light, and he lighteth up the whole word. If he does not shine, he is darkness.”

        Seek t0 do good and not evil – seek to shine and you’re light will fill the space/time continuum.

      • Even if most of what you say comes up moot (it’s science, that’s how it finishes most of the times) you talk with dignity.

        Let’s note this nice lapsus:

        > Within a man of light, there is light, and he lighteth up the whole word [sic].

        You’re then a man of word, Chief.

      • That’s what you get for quoting Yoda…

        And thanks (not) for making me look up lapsus. I think word is correct – it’s a biblical thing – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

        And I can’t see how I am wrong – but isn’t that the human condition?

      • Take a look:

        http://scripturetext.com/john/1-9.htm

        World, Word. All good. No blame.

        I heard there were heated debates just for the length of the first Word in the Book.

      • Yeah – absolutely – just get me going on Angels on pins.

      • Thanks, Chief.

        You definitely have a way with words.

        I especially appreciate your quote of Yoda: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

        Does the Chief see any indication in the climate scandal that government science is a tool of propaganda that may lead to a tyrannical government like George Orwell described in his book “1984” ?

        http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/

        Did unfounded fears cause the last election revolt?

        Was Eisenhower’s 1961 warning about misuse of science unfounded?

      • In Australia there is a deep commitment to democracy. No one would last 10 minutes if they tried something else. So therefore – we get the government we deserve.

      • Thanks, Chief, for answering my questions.

        Soon after former President Eisenhower’s warning (above video) that government science might form a “scientific-technological elite”, “space-age” data that falsified the Standard Solar Model of a hydrogen-filled Sun were being hidden or manipulated.

        Those deep roots of the climate scandal are exposed in a paper published today on arXiv : http://arxiv.org/pdf/1102.1499v1

        I personally remember only the President of Czechoslovakia, not the leader of the Australian government, for distancing himself from the alliance of world leaders that rallied behind the propaganda of CO2-induced global warming.

        Again, I thank you for answering my questions.

  7. The cloud experiment investigates relationship between cosmic rays and cloud formation. If it is shown that there is such a relationship it would follow that decadal variation in cosmic rays would influence decadal variability of clouds.

  8. Tsonis had another paper on teleconnections that I found interesting.

    https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/aatsonis/www/JKLI-1907.pdf

    The PDO – ENSO relationship is the strongest of the internal variation indicators? It is kinda like the chicken and the egg, which comes first.

    On the teleconnections thing. It may be interesting to assemble precipitation reconstructions and compare them to the teleconnected regions. May have already been done?

    • I haven’t seen this paper – but anything that Tsonis says is worth paying attention to.

      This is a good resource – http://ioc-goos-oopc.org/state_of_the_ocean/ – a lot of connections have been shown. Odd things such such as changes in water temperature in small areas off Africa and Indonesia – the Indian Ocean Dipole – influencing rainfall on both sides of the Indian Ocean.

      But it is a trees and woods thing rather than cause and effect. The system is global and everything is interconnected.

  9. Dr. Curry and Chief Hydrologist,
    Is there a null hypothesis for AGW that you can offer?

    • Just call me chief. Ummm – there is a greenhouse gas effect and we are adding to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But yes – absolutely – I think the very term global warming is misleading.

      The new scientific consensus is that both weather and climate are chaotic. For example, the British Royal Society in their recent climate science summary discussed internal climate variability as a result of climate being an example of a chaotic system in theoretical physics. While this may seem to be a quibble on a minor point to many – it is in fact central to consideration of climate predictability and climate risk. In a chaotic climate – predictability and risk are two sides of a coin. Climate predictions can only be made in terms of probabilities and some climate risk from anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is mathematically certain as a result of those same probabilities.

      So we move beyond uncertainty to a certainty of chaos. I don’t know which is worse.

      • Chief,
        Thanks. I agree that we are dealing with a chaotic system, and always have been, but is this reducible to a hypothesis?
        Trenberth and pals offer this as the null hypothesis to justify the attention and policy demands regarding CO2 to this effect:
        Human activities are not impacting climate.
        Is there a specific hypothesis you can offer, or is this all that is required to focus on CO2 in your opinion?

      • I have an assumption only. Abrupt and violent climate shifts have a long history on planet Earth – less extreme climate shifts occurred four times last century. Small changes, such as anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, can accumulate in chaotic systems until they precipitate a shift that is wildly out of proportion to the initial impetus.

        I think we need to be very careful about the changes we are making to the atmosphere. Having said that – I am not much into negative economic growth. The usual argument against economic growth involves grain and a chessboard. In the real world the board is swept clean daily to feed hungry mouths and no grain accumulates.

      • Chief,
        Yes, at some point our anthropo changes on a global scale would be bad.
        But we have had > 20 years now of ‘doom around the corner’ and the corner gets no closer. It seems that if history has meaning, then our GHG forcings are just one of many competing in the system. The paleo record seems to indicate that the evidence is clear that resistance to dangerous change is quite large.
        My question about the null is pointed to this: it is not enough to show CO2 is a GHG that can change the climate. The only issue that is important is if we are going to cause dangerous change.

      • Funny – I keep wondering if I’ve got the signs right too. And by multiple I mean ISCCP-FD, ERBS and HIRS in LW

        So we have LW up emissions increasing – and I won’t quote NASA/GISS again. That means the trend is to more energy leaving the planet in the LW.

        And we have SW up trends declining – that means there is less light being reflected back into space.

        What makes you think this is wrong?

      • Chief,
        Nothing really makes me think this is wrong. I will read the links in detail and see if the change implies a significant energy balance shift. If not, then no, not much is happening.

      • Hunter,

        Ahh – we have agreement. These are really boring people and they are into weird things – i.e. not The Simpsons, Star Wars and Mustangs.

        Stuff the paleo record – that is a recourse for wankers. Like we know with any detail anything at all in pre-history. It reminds me that there is a nice analogy for the paleo record in the NAS report on Abrupt climate Change: Inevitable Surprises – essentially groping about in a dark room. Fun but of limited utility.

        I think predictability is a figment – and if we can’t predict it won’t happen it is a bit of a quandary.

        Cheers
        Robert

        Cheers
        Rob

      • Hmmm…..a bit delphic, but if I am following your subtelty, then perhaps it is fair to say the entire predictive climatological enterprise is so much fluff?

      • Tim Palmer has a book called Predicting Weather and Climate – worth having a look at the the 1st chapter at least.

        If you get run over by the logic train of chaos theory – predictability as more than probabilities is a nonsense.

      • Chief,
        Thanks. I will have a look.
        Do you think we are anywhere close enough to understanding the various influences on climate to make the deterministic predictions the self-appointed ‘team’ are making?

      • “So we move beyond uncertainty to a certainty of chaos. I don’t know which is worse.”

        Well, that’s a very protracted decision for the British Royal Society, since I’ve seen Chaos treatments of climate from the 1980’s.

        Certainty of Chaos is quite a good thing. Chaos Theory has a number of attractive (forgive the pun) meaningful conclusions and tools that can be applied to problems and analyses.

        Which I didn’t see applied here by you, ChHy.

        Could you develop the themes of attractors, period doubling, transition from turbulent to chaotic states?

        What data in climate follows the pattern f(x)=1- mu|x|^y?(http://mathworld.wolfram.com/FeigenbaumConstant.html)

        Can you speak to the Schwarzian derivative in regard to ENSO and the PDO over time?

      • Well – if you have been reading in this for decades – you tell me. Judith made me leave out the chaos stuff but I sneaked in some anyway.

        I am a bit slow – may be why this one appealed to me – http://www.pnas.org/content/105/38/14308.abstract – I have thought about applying it to ENSO.

        I was basically clueless – as I suspect most people still are – including half the committee of the Royal Society. Until 2009, I would read the word chaos and not understand at all.

        There are people such as Tim Palmer who have been working on this for a long time – try Predicting Weather and Climate – available on google books. I highly recommend that the IPCC be replaced by a Lorenzian Meteorological Office headed by Tim Palmer immediately.

        There is this one by James McWilliams on models – http://www.pnas.org/content/104/21/8709.full.pdf+html

        ‘Sensitive dependence and structural instability are humbling twin properties for chaotic dynamical systems, indicating limits about which kinds of questions are theoretically answerable. They echo other famous limitations on scientist’s expectations, namely the undecidability of some propositions within axiomatic mathematical systems (Godel’s theorem) and the uncomputability of some algorithms due to excessive size of the calculation (see ref. 26)’

        Doh – I guess I’d have to wonder which kinds of questions are theoretically answerable.

      • Chief

        Now you’re making me think back to the days when I studied and did equations and the like.

        Best I can offer are suggestions.

        1. Period doubling is offers us a signature, a highly reliable prediction of Chaos Theory to indicate a) whether we’re seeing actual Chaos, and b) what step in the transition we have encountered between orderly, turbulent and chaotic; it c) also gives us information on scale and d) points like an arrow to the suspect inputs and relevant domains.

        The inputs and relevant domains I’ve seen argued are such things as CO2 levels, solar and cosmic effects, and much smaller influences like land use on temperature, variability of cloud formation, precipitation, variability of extreme events, rate old meteorological records are broken (ie one expects the rate of new record setting to be logarithmic at best, so linearity would be Chaotic on some scale). I imagine a clever Chaos analyst could correlate period doubling signatures to rank the significant inputs.

        2. What isn’t Chaotic is really important. Is there something that the chaotic state always collapses back to, as a ground state?

        Those things that can’t stay Chaotic long and are subject to reversion are really helpful in that they become semi-predictable.

        (Wow am I rusty, used to be able to rattle this stuff off like a gattling gun. You need a current hot quarterback, not a former benchwarmer.)

        3. What scales (time, geography, temperature range, etc) things do and don’t exhibit Chaos traits is also meaningful to analysis of what is going to become less predictable and how soon. Suppose we’re entering a domain where for some regions of the planet seasons become truly meaningless? We don’t know that this hasn’t happened before, how could we? We would want to know if we might be approaching it now, and Chaos Theory has some strong tools for identifying such patterns.

        Suppose Earth is about to generate an equivalent of the Great Eye of Saturn, a standing storm covering a huge fraction of the planet and lasting centuries? That’s alarmism to non-mathematicians, of course, but wow wouldn’t it be such an awesomely cool mathematical event to be present for? Sadly, really not likely for so many reasons. But it’d be awesome.

        4. Resonances: we can establish something much more powerful than correlation, if we can show that the profile in terms of chaos measures for two possibly related phenomena match. Are our thermometers biased by changes in the way measurements are taken and the places they happen, or do the profiles of periodicity and so forth correspond?

        5. Attractors are really fun! I don’t recall the reference, but I recall that self-motivated complex systems at equilibrium, for example imagine a solar system with three stars and 17 planets where unlikely though it may seem the ‘orbits’ have entered a course that doesn’t result in everything all collapsing, even with highly erratic planetary paths exchanging between all three stars.. That system would have attractos exhibiting some sort of, if not pattern, non-vanishingness. Attractors in a system with a new disturbance, however, do vanish and move and spontaneously appear. Liken this to new CO2 emissions and look at what happens in the climate with its historical attractors.

        6. Better things to measure. We measure all this by anomaly? Just anomaly? Really? That’s scandalous. (I know, I’m being freakishly blinkered; there are many, many non-anomaly measures, so why focus on just temperature?) Chaos Theory can identify whether groups of observations fit orderly, turbulent or chaotic sets, and whether those states are changing.. which would be interesting.

        At least, maybe some of this sort of might work. With equations.

        If only we had a Hydrologist. ;)

      • well – I am a bit tired now – I think I’ll go to sleep

  10. The PDO – ENSO relationship is the strongest of the internal variation indicators? It is kinda like the chicken and the egg, which comes first.

    I think I may have an answer to that one.

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/PDO-ENSO.htm

  11. A body of ocean water which is acidic, not just less alkaline, really?

  12. A discussion of the complexities of large scale variability of the hydrological cycle and no reference to Dr Timothy Cohn or Dr Demetris Koutsoyiannis?

    Ah well… maybe another time.

    • Sorry – too big a subject for a post. But Hydrology certainly seems to breed sceptics. Too much spoken that is not is accordance with the we know.

      • Indeed, definitely a rich vein of solid, rational, scientific scepticism from hydrologists. As you rightly point out, the views of Dr C and Dr K probably deserve a post (or two…) of their own. I keep meaning to write a post or two myself, but have been planning that for about the last two years. Possibly never going to happen…

  13. Malcolm Miller

    Lots of data; lots of interpretations; lots of uncertainty. Typical of ‘climate science’!

  14. “Multiple satellite data sources show that over most of the period of warming there was planetary cooling in the infrared band where greenhouse gases were expected to result in warming – and strong planetary warming as a result of less cloud reflecting less sunlight back into space.”

    Could you provide a reference for this? I think you may have your signs reversed. Thanks!

    • Chief Hydrologist | February 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Reply
      Funny – I keep wondering if I’ve got the signs right too. And by multiple I mean ISCCP-FD, ERBS and HIRS in LW

      So we have LW up emissions increasing – and I won’t quote NASA/GISS again. That means the trend is to more energy leaving the planet in the LW.

      And we have SW up trends declining – that means there is less light being reflected back into space.

      What makes you think this is wrong?

      • I guess I wasn’t looking for your personal research, but rather someone saying something like “there was planetary cooling in the infrared band where greenhouse gases were expected to result in warming,” as opposed to you linking to graphs that are well explained by http://isccp.giss.nasa.gov/projects/browse_fc.html that actually don’t say anything about cooling in any infrared bands. Would you like to modify your posting?

      • So you want a reference? So let’s look at the tropical trends using s3.4.4.1 of AR4.

        ‘Based upon the revised (Edition 3_Rev1) ERBS record outgoing LW radiation over the tropics appears to have increased by about 0.7 W m–2 while the reflected SW radiation decreased by roughly 2.1 W m–2 from the 1980s to 1990s.’

        We note that the net is 1.4W/m-2.

        ‘Since most of the net tropical heating of 1.4 W m–2 is a decrease in reflected SW radiative flux, the change implies a similar increase in solar insolation at the surface that, if unbalanced by other changes in surface fluxes, would increase the amount of ocean heat storage.’

        Well – the warming was 2.1 W/m-2 SW and cooling in the IR of 0.7 W/m-2? However.

        ‘In summary, although there is independent evidence for decadal changes in TOA radiative fluxes over the last two decades, the evidence is equivocal. Changes in the planetary and tropical TOA radiative fluxes are consistent with independent global ocean heat-storage data, and are expected to be dominated by changes in cloud radiative forcing. To the extent that they are real, they may simply reflect natural low-frequency variability of the climate system.’

        I referenced a number of studies on cloud showing a decrease in cloud associated with ENSO and the PDO – or both together in the Pacific multi-decadal pattern. The fact that ERBS and ISCCP-FD agree is more than interesting. It is more than time that this was more widely understood.

        I have some advice for you. Here – it is a seeking of the sacred hydrological truth through dialectic. For this the required attitude is humor, patience, good will, humility, honesty and good faith. Unless we practice these virtues – the truth will evade will and we will be in darkness.

      • Ummm – the truth will evade us and we will be in darkness. See – that’s why humility is important

      • Interesting. However, I’m still looking for someone saying something about “there was planetary cooling in the infrared band where greenhouse gases were expected to result in warming.” I guess that’s asking for too much? So far, you’ve ably demonstrated the other half of your statement – the part that I’m not challenging.

      • At some stage you will need to engage the logic centers of the brain – rather than this odd appeal to authority on every simple consideration.

        ‘Based upon the revised (Edition 3_Rev1) ERBS record (Figure 3.23), outgoing LW radiation over the tropics appears to have increased by about 0.7 W m–2 while the reflected SW radiation decreased by roughly 2.1 W m–2 from the 1980s to 1990s (Table 3.5).’ AR4 s3.4.4.1

        Now if SW up decreased and it was warming and LW up increased then it must be…

        a) warming
        b) cooling
        c) an orangutan

      • d) Not relevant to the question, which was “where greenhouse gases were expected to result in warming.” Who did this expecting, exactly, and where did you find their expecting? Is this your expecting? If it is your expecting, then shouldn’t you state that it was your expecting? What, exactly, did you do to come up with this expectation?

        This is the third time I’ve asked you this question, directly, and reviewing the rest of the people who commented, at least the fifth total time. Please don’t reply with anything except a source to someone doing this expecting – thanks!

      • OMG – I believe this might be the enhanced greenhouse or anthropogenic global warming theory.

        But your original question said that I had the signs of the radiative flux trends reversed.

        I take your latest question to be an example of bad faith. For all of the patient assistance I have provided to assist your understanding – I am most disappointed.

      • “For this the required attitude is humor, patience, good will, humility, honesty and good faith.”

        You stated “there was planetary cooling in the infrared band where greenhouse gases were expected to result in warming.” This is incorrect – you have your signs reversed, as I initially claimed – see Spectral signatures of climate change in the Earth’s infrared spectrum between 1970 and 2006, Chen 1, Harries, Brindley, Ringer, see Earth’s Global Energy Budget, Trenberth, Fasullo, Kiehl, see An observationally based energy balance for the Earth since 1950, Murphy, Solomon, Portmann, Rosenlof, Forster, Wong.

        Your first sentence “OMG – I believe this might be the enhanced greenhouse or anthropogenic global warming theory,” does not make any sense.

  15. Hi Mr Ellison
    I assume you are Robert Ellison of REA.
    When scientists are unable to explain a natural variable then they recall the ever helpful chaos theory. As far as the PDO and ENSO are concerned, in my view there is nothing chaotic about it either on annual or decadal scale.
    Both PDO and ENSO are simply result of subtle changes in the Pacific Gateway as shown in this short extract of data.

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/PDO-ENSO.htm

    • Pacific Gateway?

      I think upwelling in the area of the Humboldt Current – and thus the origin of ENSO – is the result of cool currents pushing up to South America on storms spinning off the polar vortex. Displacing some warm surface water. But then there are other systems that come into play – planetary spin, pressure differentials, surges sloshing back and forth across the Pacific. Thus it is a complex system with a couple of strange attractors and infinitely variable orbits. It is just a definition. The reason for changes theoretically involves sea level pressure responding to changes in UV and ozone warming in the middle atmosphere. This is hugely speculative – but see Lockwood (2010) or Lean (2008) for instance.

      Lockwood, M., Harrison, R., Woollings, T. Solanki, S., (2010) Are cold winters in Europe associated with low solar activity? Environ. Res. Lett. 5 (2010) 024001 (7pp)

      Lean, J., (2008) How Variable Is the Sun, and What Are the Links Between This Variability and Climate?, Search and Discovery Article #110055

      But PDO and ENSO are but 2 elements in a global dance –

      ‘My stock in trade must then be: the power of ENSO twins,
      abrupt shifts in the PDO, the fickleness of the PNA, the
      slow pendulum of the AMO and the SAM with its storms
      freewheeling off the Southern Ocean to smash on the shore.

      These standard bearers of doubt engage in a global dance.
      Occasionally, they pirouette towards a grand crescendo and,
      then fly wildly to the ends of Earth in a new choreography,
      Tremendous energies cascading though powerful systems.

      Unless I miss my mark then this is the mark of chaos and
      a danger in its own right as climate system components
      jostle unpredictably and things settle into whatever pattern
      emerges – mayhaps a cold, cold, cold day on planet Earth.’

      from Song of a Climate Zombie

      Chaos is not just a word – but has a scientific meaning – like relativity theory or quantum mechanics. In fact chaos theory is the third great idea in 20th physics.

      • Actually i was trying to keep some focus on the topic and provide sufficient depth, so i suggested narrowing the scope of the topic. The chaotic element of all this is certainly of great interest. So lets talk about it, and I am open to another post by CH on this topic.

      • I look forward to more from our Chief High Drologist.

      • Love the poetry as well as acknowledgment of three great ideas in 20th century physics. (You missed the word century and probably a few others on the way. But that’s poetry for you.) I too vote for more on Chaos and from CH.

      • I am humbled and appreciative – and happy you liked the poetry.

        Cheers

    • vukcevic

      “..then they recall the ever helpful chaos theory.”

      That would be the opposite of this case, don’t you think? I mean, there’s next to nothing recognizable as CT in CH’s discourse, and I had to pull teeth to get the very slight and limited additional CT references of our author.

      These are not fulsom CT investigations one would expect, and fail to bring to bear much of the panoply of CT tools for understanding a complex system.

      Poor CH, squeezed on three sides by Judy who won’t let him splash in the CT pool, me who wants him to scope out the deep end of the ocean, and you who thinks CT is an ill-reputed mud puddle.

      Sounds like a problem for a hydrologist.

      • Oh dear – I didn’t really mean to start anything.

        Judith – it was not meant as a complaint – merely playfulness. If I am to do this – it is in a spirit of humour and good will.

        I am quite out of my depth with Bart’s questions – as I said I was clueless on CT to 2009 – I thought it had something to do with butterflies.

        The only thing I really know now is that the Tsonis network model breaks us out of the conceptual straight jacket with which we have viewed climate. Where before we had all these independent indices – PDO, ENSO, AMO, NAO, IOD, SAM, AO, PNA – now it seems they interact globally in a chaotic climate system.

        Really – I am not much more advanced than thinking that Tim Palmer’s ‘Lorenzian Meteorological Office’ tickles my fancy.

        And a Chief Hydrologist doesn’t have problems – only solutions. As I have said to others here, it is a seeking of the sacred hydrological truth through dialogue. For this the required attitude is humor, patience, good will, humility, honesty and good faith.

        There is no possible answer to your post – and this is a failure to engage in a true dialectic – a lack of good faith. Can I expect better in future?

      • First, I don’t think that Tsonis believes that climate is a true chaos system. This is getting further from my expertise, but certainly my understanding is that in true chaotic system predicting the future is very difficult and certainly there is no reason to believe it will repeat in regular cycles.

        If 1998 was a “switch”, there would be no real way of predicting what it was a switch to based on the amount of data we have. The “initial” conditions of the system at the time of the switch would have greatly influenced its out come in a manner that we’d have no hope of predicting what the result would be. The fact that he seems to feel that he can make a prediction suggests to me that he doesn’t believe it fits into what is traditionally called chaos.

        There can be systems that are made of multiple interacting subsystems where there is a stochastic component, that are not truly chaotic systems.

        (Though this would be a point where it would actually be interesting to hear somebody that is actually an expert (like Tsonis’s) opinion.)

      • Yes!

        That would be awesome!

        Er, ahem, in a strictly theoretical mathematical sense.

        I mean, a switch to a truly chaotic state would be very, very alarmist, which I would not condone.

        But still, for a math junky, so exciting!

      • Tsonis (2009) looked at a a sediment record. There was a red shift in sediment associated with inflows. Tsonis certainly refers to the shift 5000 years ago as a chaotic bifurcation.

        ‘Abstract: A thorough analysis of a proxy El Nino/
        Southern Oscillation (ENSO) record indicates that a
        bifurcation occurred in the ENSO system sometime around
        5,000 years B.P. As a result of this bifurcation the attractor
        became higher dimensional and a new mechanism of
        instability was introduced. As a consequence of these
        changes the system switched from a dynamics where the
        normal condition (La Nina) was dominant to a dynamics
        characterized by more frequent and stronger El Nino
        events. ‘

        If it weren’t (my hero) Tsonis – you might be entitled to say – yeah right – prove it.

        They don’t actually make a prediction as such – it is more a case of this is the state we are in – it might last for another decade or so.

        Tim Palmer is the other guy who is really interesting.

      • Systems that are not truely chaotic can have some properties of chaotic systems. All stochastic systems are not truly chaotic.

        Tsonis hasn’t said that he thinks there weren’t be much warming (or even any warming) for the next 30 years or so?

      • Peter – as a layperson the gist I get from their paper is there is a GHG-caused warming trend that can be boosted by a confluence of warm phases and dampened by a confluence of cool phases. To me, they are saying the resumption of warming out of the “shift” is a given.

        I have the doubts about their theory a layperson is allowed to have. I think it’s wrong.

      • Russian scientists have suggested the possibility of a strange nonchaotic attractor. Certainly not all components of climate are chaotic.

    • Many experts would consider that the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Oceans at University of Washington, to be one of the highest authorities on the subject of PDO.
      Here is their opinion:
      At the time of this writing, causes for (and predictability limits of) the PDO are not known. What is known is that the nature of the mechanisms giving rise to the PDO will determine whether or not it is possible to make decade-long PDO climate predictions.

      http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~mantua/REPORTS/PDO/PDO_cs.htm

      Anything else is just ‘fluffing about’. If scientist do not have the required knowledge than the best course for the science and all concerned is to say so.
      I have found source of these oscillations, this short extract from 100+ year data directly identifies the driver.
      http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/PDO-ENSO.htm
      I gave it working title ‘Pacific Gateway’. Data is available, mechanism is simple and strait forward. If Dr. Curry has time and inclination to assess (in confidence) the viability of results of my findings, I would be happy to forward required information.

  16. If we switched to the “cool” phase in 1999. . . then I look at UAH, and see in 2002-2007 a relatively stable period (no major El or La) that looks demonstrably higher than any other relatively stable period you can find in that record.

    I personally think it likely that the AGWers have C02 effects overstated from 1/2 to 2/3rds due to factors like those discussed in this piece. . . but I’d like to see this “cooling” period actually result in extended multi-year cooling from the 2002-2007 level before deciding just how much. Will we return to something like 1992-1997 (absent Pinatubo effects at the start), or will the new “low baseline” be higher, and C02 has something closer to its true impact quantified in the difference?

    • I do agree up to a point – July 2010.

      I don’t think we can be hard and fast about any thing very much. Our instrumental records are too short and the proxy records to imprecise. I started my journey more than 20 years ago when 2 geomorphologists noticed some streams in central NSW had changed shape after the 1970’s – so they analysed flood heights over 150 years and found that we had these 20 to 40 year periods of flooding followed by 20 to 40 year periods of drought.

      Over the years I have seen dozens of hydrologists say this – but it never seems to sink in. I narrowed the hydrological pattern to the north east of Australia – which implied an ENSO influence. But how did that work? When the PDO was described – well the periods fit but how is there a connection between chinook salmon in North American streams and rainfall in Woop Woop, Australia.

      In 2003, I realised that the planet wasn’t warming for decades at least because all these patterns were converging. How frustrating is that? Not even my wife believed me. She just wondered whether this was a harmless eccentricity or if I had totally lost the plot. It was a big call in 2003.

      The cool Pacific multi-decadal phase is with us. It is a little difficult to distinguish from physical parameters. My utter confidence comes from biological indicators – the afore mentioned chinook slamon, sardines in Monterey Bay and phytoplanton in the equatorial Pacific. Remembering that this is a biological phenomenon as cold currents bring nutrients to the surface in one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet. It gets me all choked up.

      The current super La Nina suggests that the Pacific multi-decadal pattern is kicking up a gear – with record SOI this one is likely to hang around for a while yet.

      All we can do is wait and see. Everyone seems to think we will return to a warm period. This presumes that we understand what drives it – I’m not so sure. If my solar UV speculation is even almost right – and I don’t want to enter into ill-informed discussion on this as in the sun doesn’t change (it does in the UV) or how the hell can solar UV influence ENSO – well let’s just say all bets are off.

      • The one thing I’m absolutely sure of is the “relentless” bit of the traditional AGW analysis just cannot be right. Just how wrong it is will tell us just how much trouble we’re in.

    • It seems like there are only three options in climate shifts, warm, cool and neutral (hopefully, 1999-2000 is a neutral and not supposed to be a cool.) Which makes is difficult to even propose a significant internal climate variability and be take seriously. Then you have the 15 year waiting period before you can mention “trend”. So decadal cloud variability can be blown off as weather if it doesn’t produce a “trend”.

      Since cloud feedback is still poorly understood, a cosmic ray/cloud impact on climate is even more poorly understood. It is a heck of a puzzle!

      I was looking at ENSO-PDO relationships in precipitation reconstructions and there is a good match in the tropics (for the few I looked at), but it gets more complicated moving away from the equator.

      Anyway, my thought was it would be easier to use precipitation reconstructions related to the various oscillations to compare with Tsnois’ work to see if shifts are semi-predictable.

      • There is terrific hydrological correlation in Australia and Indonesia one hand and a reverse correlation in North and South America. There are also correlations in India – in fact that is where Sir Gilbert Walker discovered ENSO in search of a predictor for the Indian monsoon. No one believed him for 50 years – so what’s 15 years? There are also connections to rainfall in China and Africa. Trust me – I’m a hydrologist.

        I think it might actually cool long term – but that is just of academic interest. Where we can’t predict that there won’t be a seriously bad outcome – it is a quandary and we need to decarbonise in a sensible manner. I’d like to see Al Gore groveling and apologising first but I have a feeling hell will freeze over before that happens.

      • Where we can’t predict that there won’t be a seriously bad outcome – it is a quandary and we need to decarbonise in a sensible manner.

        This raises two questions, one of which seems to me to be outside the scope of this thread:
        1. Are we in the position where we can’t predict that there won’t be a seriously bad outcome? Is that a definite? (Ho hum.)
        2. What is decarbonising ‘in a sensible manner’? Nuclear?
        Anyway, as I say, the second is probably out of scope but I appreciate your openness throughout.

      • 1. We are definitely in a position where we can say with certainty that we cannot say anything with certainty.

        2. Technological at least. Something that increases efficiency, productivity and global wealth. I keep hearing about this chessboard and grain and my answer is that is doesn’t seem like a real world scenario. How is any grain to accumulate when there are so many billions living from hand to mouth.

        If I had to pick winners – it would be thin solar and 4th generation nuclear.

      • Re: Chief Hydrologist ,
        Arghh — again with the “decarbonize in a sensible manner”.
        No, sir. That is presuming the conclusion. There is, to my and many others’ minds, ample evidence that CO2 generation is entirely benign — in fact, it is pushing against an unfortunate tendency of plants to eat themselves out of house and home by driving CO2 down relentlessly.

        As for warming, I’ll take my chances with a Holocene or Roman or Medieval Optimum/Warm Period any time over another LIA or similar.

        The only GHG of any significance is H2O. That we have no faintest hope of (or need to) control it globally means that it is useless for political/economic leverage. Which is where the IPCC comes in ….

  17. Chief

    Thanks for a very illuminating article.

    You have presented your case precisely and have defended it here very well.

    If I have understood this (with some oversimplification, as I am no expert):

    – We have an observed period between 1977 and 1998, during which most of the observed warming of the past 50 years has occurred.
    – During this period we have observed a strong, warm El Niño trend.
    – The sea surface temperature increased as the marine low-level clouds decreased.
    – Satellite data show us that most of the reduction in outgoing radiation over this period occurred in the SW band from a decrease in reflected incoming radiation and very little in the LW band from the GH effect
    – Prior to this period of warming we had a prolonged period of cooling, which coincided with a period of La Niña events.
    – After the period of cooling, i.e. most recently, we have observed slight cooling, again with a shift to La Niña
    – A test for the hypothesis will be the next decade or two: if increased low level clouds continue to contribute to cooling at the same time as La Niña dominates, this will confirm the correlation.
    – But the main “take home” seems to be that we are in a chaotic climate system, which appears to be closely correlated to ENSO oscillations, with a possible underlying warming trend from AGW.

    Did I get it right?

    Max

    • Thanks Max,

      ‘We have an observed period between 1977 and 1998, during which most of the observed warming of the past 50 years has occurred.’

      Yes – no matter what metric you use or statistics are spun – this seems to be a statement of indisputable fact.

      ‘The sea surface temperature increased as the marine low-level clouds decreased.’

      I have been called on the low-level stratiform cloud with some validity. Zhu Ping et al certainly talk about low level cloud. Clement and Burgman talk about total cloud. Total cloud follows the pattern described – and the satellite measurements confirm the energy implications of changing cloud.

      The short explanation is that the Pacific trade winds set up conditions for a La Niña. Trade winds, south-easterly in the Southern Hemisphere and north-easterly in the Northern Hemisphere, pile up warm surface water against Australia and Indonesia. Water vapour rises in the western Pacific creating low pressure cells that strengthen the trade winds piling yet more warm water up in the western Pacific. Cool, subsurface water rises in the eastern Pacific and spreads westward. At some point the trade winds falter and warm water spreads out westward across the Pacific.

      Warm oceans conditions in an El Niño are associated with reduced cloud cover – reduced cloud lets in more of the Sun’s energy warming oceans and atmosphere.

      ‘Satellite data show us that most of the reduction in outgoing radiation over this period occurred in the SW band from a decrease in reflected incoming radiation and very little in the LW band from the GH effect’

      There is an enhanced greenhouse effect. It can be seen in IR spectral analysis. For instance – take an IR snapshot in 1979 and 2000 and compare emissions in the greenhouse gas bandwidths. Observationally certain.

      But the longitudinal record (1984 to the late 1990’s) shows an increase in heat emitted by the planet – because energy in conserved that is heat lost from the planet. At the same time there was a stronger warming effect in the visible spectrum. Less light reflected from less cloud. The net effect was warming. Again, based on pure observation. It doesn’t rely on absolute values – which are a bit problematical – and the trends are valid when estimates of ‘stability uncertainty’ are included.

      ‘Prior to this period of warming we had a prolonged period of cooling, which coincided with a period of La Niña events.’

      The well known mid century slump that has a partial explanation in sulphates. Sulphates are unlikely to the entire explanation because of Arctic amplification (http://www.lanl.gov/source/orgs/ees/ees14/pdfs/09Chlylek.pdf)

      Theres is no reason to suppose that sulphates are responsible for the large amplification of the signal in the Arctic. It coincides exactly with a cool La Nina dominated Pacific Ocean multi-decadal mode.

      ‘After the period of cooling, i.e. most recently, we have observed slight cooling, again with a shift to La Niña’

      The multi-decadal pattern includes the PDO. The physical signals are a bit vague – such that NASA called it in 2008. Bloody physicists. This is a biological phenomenon as well with nutrient rich water rising in the Eastern Pacific. There is little doubt from biological indicators – chinook salmon in North American streams in numbers not seen since the 1970’s, sardines in Monterey Bay where they haven’t been seen in numbers for decades, phytoplankton (the base of the food chain) in the equatorial Pacific returned in abundance again not seen since the 1970’s – show that the shift occurred after 1998.

      The CERES record is quite inconclusive on warming or cooling in the past decade. I would suggest very moderate cooling – but only because solar irradiance fell to a solar cycle minimum in 2008.

      As the Pacific multi-decadal mode involves modulation of the frequency and intensity of ENSO – the current super La Niña should be a taste of things to come.

      ‘A test for the hypothesis will be the next decade or two: if increased low level clouds continue to contribute to cooling at the same time as La Niña dominates, this will confirm the correlation’

      Again, I will have to get back to you on low cloud. The CERES data from 2000 on the other hand will be definitive sometime in the future. Who was it who said that prediction is very difficult – especially if it is about the future.

      We seem to have both a plausible mechanism and experimental proof in the data from the satellite platforms that shows that something is amiss in climate science .

      My message that I keep giving to our alarmist friends is, even if we just keep drifting along for another decade, this will make the politics of carbon reduction impossible unless we very quickly find another narrative. This is difficult but necessary and may require a bit of groveling and backpedaling. What price they are right and I am wrong and do they want to take that all in gamble?

      ‘But the main “take home” seems to be that we are in a chaotic climate system, which appears to be closely correlated to ENSO oscillations, with a possible underlying warming trend from AGW.’

      The skeptics hate me for this. But the other foundational error in climate science is in the assumption that weather is an ‘initial value problem’ and climate a ‘boundary value problem’. The distinction sees weather as ‘chaotic’ and climate as the ‘statistics of weather’. The new scientific consensus is that both weather and climate are chaotic. For example, the British Royal Society in their recent climate science summary discussed internal climate variability as a result of climate being an example of a chaotic system in theoretical physics (Bart thinks they should have got there decades ago and perhaps so – I can’t gloat because essentially I still am nearly as clueless as anyone).

      While this may seem to be a quibble on a minor point to many – it is in fact central to consideration of climate predictability and climate risk. In a chaotic climate – predictability and risk are two sides of a coin. Climate predictions can only be made in terms of probabilities and a range of climate risk from anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is mathematically certain as a result of those same probabilities. If we can’t predict that abrupt and violent climate change won’t happen – it is quite a quandary.

      Cheers
      Robert

      • Gotta be clueless
        Haiku in the sky queue, too.
        Words don’t fail me now.
        ==============

      • Chief

        Thanks for your reply. I very much appreciate that you have taken the time to respond to my questions so thoroughly.

        BTW, it was US baseball great (and philosopher), Yoggi Berra who said that about predicting the future.

        He also said (when the his Yankees had apparently not had their usual winning season):

        “The future ain’t what it used to be”.

        Maybe the modelers cited by IPCC in AR4 WG1 might feel a bit that way today, as well.

        Max

      • Excellent Post.

        Thank you.

        Chief, what do you think of my global mean temperature projection?

        http://bit.ly/cO94in

  18. Robert Ellison

    All global warming in the past 50 years, the period in which the IPCC say most warming occurred because of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, happened between 1977 and 1998. This is exactly the same period as the last warm El Niño dominated Pacific decadal mode. In the instrumental record, the trajectory of global surface temperature mirrors the Pacific Ocean states. Cool to the late 1970’s, warm to 1998 and cool since.

    Data that supports the above statement:

    20th century data: http://bit.ly/hxrx7N

    21st century data: http://bit.ly/e4Nk93

  19. the dessler paper has a cloud sensitivity to temperature listed as around 0.5 +/- 0.7. The correlation for this, as I recall from reading the paper last month, is r^2 = 0.02. seems there is also an underestimation or dismissing by dessler of the magnitude of the cloud albedo effect over the IR blocking.

    • I think that those are the correct values. I wonder that no one seems to notice that r^2 value – AFAIK, it should mean that there is not even a weak correlation (as Dessler claims) but no correlation at all and thus the only justified conclusions should have been that there are not enough observations or the correlation is non-linear (this also visually quite obvious if you look at the graph given in the paper).

      Quite odd that peer reviewers have allowed such an elementary error to remain in the article.

      • kse,
        well even without the r^2 problem, dessler’s result by no means excludes 0.0 when he proclaimed his clouds affected by temperature paper.

        I’ve not really studied his paper, after finding it to essentially be bogus, but even this r^2 = 0.02 bothers me as there is the obvious reverse effect that goes on. Cloud cover affects temperatures immediately and directly. How he managed to remove this correlation – effectively removing almost all traces of signal while leaving the noise intact – has got to be a real gem.

        The original hansen paper ’84?? with Lacis and others that brings up the notion of cloud cover dropping with temperature or surface temperature is not really any better in solidness because they were using a model which was very incomplete in that area and they did mention in discussion that another assumption alternative was that clouds followed absolute humidity and it showed absolutely no loss of cover due to temperature in their models. It seems also they had to use a 1-d model for this rather than their beloved gcm – probably because it would still be calculating the value LOL.

        I’m also curious why Judith decided to ignore my question.

        the r^2 = 0.02 really isn’t an error though. I think it’s really just an admission that there was nothing to publish. I think too that it was a rushed job with a specific purpose to give them something to proclaim at that point in time.

      • ‘Obviously, the correlation between DRcloud and DTs is weak (r2 = 2%), meaning that factors other than Ts are important in regulating DRcloud. An example is the Madden-Julian Oscillation (7), which has a strong impact on DRcloud but no effect on DTs. This does not mean that DTs exerts no control on DRcloud, but rather that the influence is
        hard to quantify because of the influence of other factors. As a result, it may require several more decades of data to significantly reduce the
        uncertainty in the inferred relationship.’

        DT and ENSO are well correlated – naturally. The large changes in CERES fluxes show clouds. Is there a lag? There is another factor in Hadley cells. Could there be a ‘chaotic’ factor in the evolution of clouds? I don’t know. But there is an obvious connection in here between ENSO and cloud and whether it shows in the simple linear regression is not the main game. Nor is some purported global warming feedback. Sometimes it is not the conclusion but the methods and results that are most interesting.

        The real connection of cloud is to SST – as shown in the Zhu Ping et al and Clements papers – this is the important issue.

      • seems that your papers referenced are stuck behind a pay wall, even here at work,

  20. There are examples in nature where tipping points induce sympathetic resonances in odd places. Two examples are Aeolian harps which are driven by the wind, but very differently at various wind speeds, and the tidal bore in the Bay of Fundy which is driven in part by the moon. Am I to understand that some or all of the natural climate oscillations (ENSO, cyclic cloud cover, etc) may be tied in with this type of coupling to natural chaotic events? Sorry if I haven’t described that well, but I haven’t had much time to ponder it myself.

    • So-called tipping points and chaos have nothing to do with each other. They are not mathematical opposites, but nearly so. Get a grip people.

      • I present a tipping point example as I’ve used the term (and I’d no idea the term was owned and held so tight fistedly). This is from a fable but describes the point.

        From a blog that has humor:

        http://www.squidoo.com/walls-of-jericho

        We get:
        “The Battle of Jericho is one of the more astonishing stories in the Bible. Some guys march around a city, tootle their horns, the walls fall, and they storm in. Of course, scientific thinking proves that story is totally implausible … or does it??”

        I’ll expand this to say, after much tootling, the walls did not fall. Into the fray marches Hubert the Tardy. Hubert is a slacker, always late to the pillaging, but quite a tootler. He adds his tootle to the din, a tipping point is reached, down come the walls through sympathetic resonance.

        Others may have other ways of using the term “tipping point”, but this one seems reasonable and is what happens when an Aeolian harp goes from random buzzing in light airs to a beautiful chorus of sound when the tipping point of the wind vector is reached. I hope the chief approves :)

        I’ve also used the term in describing systems with hysterisis as that point which causes the model to change states or measurable level in a way that is out of proportion to the input. Schmitt triggers come to mind.

    • Tipping points are a bit of a sore point. I think what Tsonis shows is an improbable chaotic connection between the North Atlantic Oscillation and ENSO for instance. It got me thinking.

      The indices may be useful in themselves for disentangling regional effects. They are very useful for hydrological analysis for instance because they are relatively stable patterns with predictive power – seasonal to decadal even.

      But I don’t think we should view the solar system as anything other than an integrated system. There are all sorts of energies cascading through heliosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere and hydrosphere. These are the true base units of climate and they are all interconnected as they must be. It is all one and it is all chaotic.

      Cheers

  21. Attention to timescale is useful in distinguishing the effects of internal climate variability, including the chaotic elements, from long term trends driven by anthropogenic forcing. Over interannual and in some cases multidecadal scales, internal variations have often exhibited a prominent profile. Conversely, the internal variations have tended to average out over a centennial timescale, revealing the underlying forcing trends. In the first half of the twentieth century, the forcing was primarily solar, whereas in the later decades, it appears to have been predominantly anthropogenic, reflecting rising CO2 concentrations.

    Of the internal variations, ENSO has operated on shorter timescales than other prominent oscillations such as the AMO and PDO; for the ENSO relationship to trends, see Temperature Series .

    Over the twentieth century, both AMO and PDO variations have tended to average out, but the AMO has been poorly correlated with long term trends, while the PDO has matched them fairly well. To some extent, this may reflect an anthropogenic forcing signal in the PDO – Forced and Inherent Variability, but it is presumed that most of the variation is natural. It is informative to ask how much this variation contributed to observed changes, and the implication for future trends.

    During the twentieth century, temperature exhibited a brief spike and dip in the 1940s. However, the only long term variation from the early and late warming trends was a flat interval from about 1950 into the late 1970s. This was an interval of negative PDO phase. It was also an interval of increased negative forcing from aerosols (mostly presumably anthropogenic), as noted by a reduction until the 1980’s in the transmittance of solar irradiation from the top of the atmosphere to the surface, observed under both clear sky and all sky conditions – Solar Dimming and Brightening.

    It seems notable the combination of negative aerosol forcing and negative phase PDO (to the extent the latter was non-forced) contributed to a flat but not a long-term multidecadal cooling trend. The near future is likely to see an increasing divergence of CO2 and anthropogenic aerosol trends, as fossil fuel consumption rises in the presence of more rigorous air pollution controls, and so it may be that the combined aerosol/PDO influence of the mid-twentieth century will fail to repeat in the current century. In that circumstance, the flat interval of the early decades will probably be replaced by a continuation of long term warming. Whether this will play out over intervals as short as ten years remains uncertain.

    • Only 1 point Fred – the PDO and ENSO are linked in the Pacific multi-decadal pattern. It is better to think of them as 2 aspects of the same thing. Certainly there an interannular component to ENSO – but there is also a multi-decadal aspect that I think shows clearly in the MEI of Wolter Klaus.

      It makes little difference to your argument – but seems more technically correct.

    • One point that I haven’t seen discussed here (though I may have missed it) is that the consensus AGW theory seems to regard clouds as purely a function of the amount of water vapor in the lower troposphere.

      But cloud formation requires not only water vapor, but condensation nuclei, and apparently the nature and size of those nuclei can influence the radiative/reflective characteristics of the (specific) low clouds.

      Moreover, there are numerous potential sources for the aerosols that provide the nuclei — biological (sulfur compounds emitted by plants and sea life), cosmological (ionizing cosmic rays), geological (airborne dust from deserts and wind erosion), and anthropological (particulates and power plant emissions). All of these sources will wax and wane on different time scales and in (currently) largely unpredictable ways.

      Has any rigorous study of all this been done? I know that CERN is investigating cosmic rays from a theoretical standpoint, but has any effort been made to quantify these different influences on cloud formation?

      • I have wondered if there was a biological aspect to the ENSO/cloud feedback. La Nina is of course an immense boost to biological activity – even globally. Nutrients rise to the surface in the eastern Pacific. One of my earlier enthusiasms was for biogeochemical cycling. Once the nutrients are at the surface they are recycled through phytoplankton very efficiently and lost only slowly to the depths.

        The phytoplankton population does seem to have this same multidecadal temporal pattern – just like the sardines in Monterey Bay and other biological responses to upwelling and for the same reason. So di-methyl sulphide is likely also to have the same temporal pattern.

        A bit like cosmic rays and cloud really. Hard to prove.

  22. Aside on salinity — a lot has been published since that WHOI page cited above; it’s not being ignored, and doesn’t appear to have been a surprise. You can find plenty if you search Scholar on the subject; see, e.g. :
    Geophys. Research Letters, V. 35, L21702, 5 PP., 2008 doi:10.1029/2008GL035874
    Detection and attribution of Atlantic salinity changes

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2008/2008GL035874.shtml

    “… An analysis of observed and modeled oceanic salinity changes shows that significant changes of salinity, which are predicted in the World’s oceans as a result of human influence, are beginning to emerge…. [i]n the 20N–50N latitude band of the Atlantic ocean, although changes at sub-polar latitudes of the Atlantic, and in other ocean basins, are not found to be significant compared to modeled internal variability.”

    http://www.ird.nc/UR65/Maes/Maes_JGR_2008.pdf

    J. Geophys. Research, V. 113, C03027, doi:10.1029/2007JC004297, 2008
    “… the equatorial western Pacific is characterized by an increasing east-west gradient in salinity stratification whereas the stronger values are found westward of the eastern edge of the warm pool. This diagnostic then provides the basis for an examination of the dynamical mechanisms involved in the formation of the salinity stratification. It also confirms the importance of the ocean salinity in the variability of the equatorial Pacific warm pool….”

    Plenty more there; some abstracts only, some full text can be found.
    No need to go into this, just noting it’s out there to be found.

  23. You mean, there is insufficient expertise demonstrated to support the conclusions based on the sources?

    And yes, please to not blog pantless.

  24. Leave Spongebob out of this – this is between you and me.

    I also have a Masters in Environmental Science – which was a hell of a lot of fun as well. Not important.

    I will have to look at my checklist:

    1 Seeking of the sacred hydrological truth through dialectic. For this the required attitude is:
    humor – no
    patience – no
    good will – no
    humility – no
    honesty – well I don’t think you took you’re pants off and I am rather afraid
    good faith – no

    I strongly encourage you to develop these virtues in yourself for you’re own spiritual health.

  25. 1977 to 1998 is period where global logging activity was at its peak. Harvesting of forests follow closely with growths in housing and paper production. During this period Japan was buying mangrove from Indonesia and Eucalyptus from Australia to produce brown paper for box making. Australia, Japan, Europe and the USA were buying increasing volumes of wood to support the expansion of housing which were seen by politicians as a major driver for economic growth. The dipterocarp forests that covered 90% of Southeast Asia (Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia) was dramatically reduced during 1977 to 1998 to as low as 10% in many places.

    Logging activity has reduced because there are no more forests to log in many areas. Now while harvesting in Southeast Asia is going down, this is now continued in the countries of the former Soviet Union and China.

    I am pointing this out because cloud production is directly correlated with the forests. Forests keep the waters on the ground instead of in the atmosphere. I do not know why scientists have not worked to establish the correlation between the atmosphere and the biosphere particularly in connection with the hydrologic cycle. They seemed to be more focused on CO2 rather than on water vapor. CO2 is insignificant when compared to water vapor.

    The forests slows down the hydrologic cycle by providing precipitation cushions that delay the run of water into the waterways by absorption and the facilitating the deposition of waters into aquifers instead of into waterways.

    The massive reduction of mangrove have contributed to the warming of the oceans as coastal waters previously covered with mangrove are now exposed directly to solar radiation. Rivers whose banks were once covered with trees now bring to the oceans warmer waters than those that flowed to the oceans in the past. Warmer fresh water feed to the oceans translate also to the hydrologic cycle acceleration. Faster cycle suggest more time for the water vapor to stay in the atmosphere to receive radiation.

    In other words, without the forests there will be a self-feeding process of waters in the atmosphere and on the oceans to become warmer with increased solar heat retention following increase in water vapor or cloud densities.

    The forests serve also to cool down the waters.

    There is only one genuine solution to mitigate global warming trends: the restoration of forests and mangrove.

    • Gabriel, there is some science ongoing in this area that I just became aware of recently. Check http://www.bioticregulation.ru/index.php , a site of Dr. Makarieva and Gorshkov. Search around their site for some great information and physics on clouds in realtion to forests on a more global weather/climate pattern scale.

      Your right, forest’s influence is usually brushed aside and it should not be. Without forests with deep roots the water cycle over the continents is but skin deep and continental sourced water vapor drives the global pressure front systems more than most realize.
      Also: http://www.bioticregulation.ru/common/pdf/neraz-en.pdf

      • Thanks Guys – I will check it out to. I have spent too long being appalled at the continuing devastation of the Australian landscape and loss of species. Most of it is from feral species and poor fire management. But the focus for a generation has been on greenhouse gases. I need to practice what I preach – and become much less cynical.

  26. Rob,
    Thank you for your overview on clouds.
    I think a good resource on clouds is the website of Joel Norris.

    http://meteora.ucsd.edu/~jnorris/pub.html#277-b

    An excerpt of one of his abstracts:
    “Global climate models provide scant reliable insight regarding these issues because of their inability to parameterize correctly or otherwise represent the small-scale convective, turbulent, and microphysical processes that control cloud properties. It is therefore crucial to document and assess global and regional low-frequency variations in clouds and radiation flux that have occurred over the past several decades, a period marked by rapidly rising temperature and changes in anthropogenic aerosol emissions. This will enable us to estimate from observations how clouds and their impacts on the radiation budget are responding to global warming and aerosol changes.”
    I agree with him, it is very important to make measurements and assess the data of the past in reanalyses. Without measurements and good data, we have to accept the uncertainty, models won’t help much right now.
    I think it is more important to put money in a project that measures clouds in a reliable way than put additional money in computer models.
    On some point I miss the PR of such an international project that does that.
    Regards
    Günter

    • Guenter

      Here is a link to a study on superparameterization, a possible way to get around the model problems with cloud parameterization mentioned by Norris in the paper you cited:
      ftp://eos.atmos.washington.edu/pub/breth/papers/2006/SPGRL.pdf

      Of course, you are right in saying that actual observations are needed, rather than simply model simulations, but this approach might make the models less sketchy when it comes to clouds.

      Max

      • Guenter

        Another point.

        In their study on the radiative forcing due to clouds and water vapor, Ramanathan and Inamdar lamented:

        The few results we have on the role of cloud feedback in climate change is mostly from GCMs. Their treatment of clouds is so rudimentary that we need an observational basis to check the model conclusions. We do not know how the net forcing of −18 W m−2 will change in response to global warming. Thus, the magnitude as well as the sign of the cloud feedback is uncertain.

        In the IPCC AR4 WG1 SPM report, IPCC conceded:

        Cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty.

        Yet all the climate models cited by IPCC have estimated that clouds exert a net positive feedback with warming, strong enough, in fact, to significantly increase the estimated 2xCO2 climate sensitivity (AR4, WG1, Ch.8, p.633):

        Using feedback parameters from Figure 8.14, it can be estimated that in the presence of water vapour, lapse rate and surface albedo feedbacks, current GCMs would predict a climate sensitivity (± 1 standard deviation) of roughly 1.9°C ± 0.15°C (ignoring spread from radiative forcing differences). The mean and standard deviation of climate sensitivity estimates derived from current GCMs are larger (3.2°C ± 0.7°C) essentially because the GCMs all predict a positive cloud feedback (Figure 8.14) but strongly disagree on its magnitude.

        So it is clear that, if net cloud feedbacks really were negative, as the observations of Spencer and Braswell seem to indicate and Dessler 2010 seems to concede as a possibility, the 2xCO2 climate sensitivity would be considerably lower than that estimated by the IPCC models, probably around one-third of the IPCC estimate.

        You (and “Chief”) have both written here that we need more direct observations on the behavior of clouds, both as a feedback to SST warming and as a possible natural climate forcing in themselves (and everyone seems to agree).

        I’d say before we have this we really don’t know whether AGW is a serious potential threat to humanity and our environment, as postulated by IPCC, or simply a minor factor, which would be lost in natural variability.

        Max

  27. Hi Günter

    God yes – I find Joel Norris to be an earnest and worthy young man. But I think it must be a very difficult time to be a young climate scientist.

    I think the Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System instrument on the TERRA satellite is pretty good – the record is too short yet.

    In the meantime – ERBS and ISCCP-FD re-analysis are saying things that challenge theories – as it should be. Data is king and – dare I say it – models are bullshit.

    Cheers
    Robert

  28. quote
    In an analysis of global warming cloud feedbacks, Dessler (2010) used short term variations in surface temperature and CERES data to determine that cloud cover was negatively correlated with temperature.  Dessler also plotted ENSO against surface temperature leaving no doubt that ENSO was the primary cause of the short term temperature variations.  Leaving aside anthropogenic global warming – the finding of a positive feedback here is in the first instance an ENSO feedback.  As was reported, ‘the climate variations being analysed here are primarily driven by ENSO, and there has been no suggestion that ENSO is caused by cloud variations.’ 
    unquote

    I’ve wondered about an assumption made in Dessler 2010:

    quote
    But aerosols’ radiative impact is not expected to
    correlate with DeltaTs, so the effect of aerosols is to
    add uncertainty to the cloud feedback calculation
    but should not introduce a bias.
    unquote

    By using ENSO fluctuations as the source of his variations, he is assuming that ENSO has no effect on aerosol loading. Is this justified? It would seem more likely that aerosols will vary with the cycling — for example, salt aerosols are produced by wave breaking and are thus dependent on windspeed– and thus will have some correlation with deltaT.

    JF

    • I will make a general apology – some of these things are well outside anything I understand. I am a simple man. So if I don’t respond just assume it went right over my head and I am sitting here with a dumfounded expression.

      But apropos of nothing – there are a couple of rules (more guidelines really):

      1. don’t stray too far from experimental data – even if you have a computer you still need good data;
      2. do quality control on your data – assess the sources, limits of accuracy and methods – just because you have a graph showing something happened 10 million years ago doesn’t mean it is meaningful;
      3. speculation is fun and may lead to interesting places but don’t mistake it for the scientific method.

      Cheers

  29. Really interesting piece that- thanks

  30. Robert,

    I too am fascinated with water but on a different line of research. This is through mechanics of planetary motion and rotation.
    The system only seems chaotic when the perimeters are not understood or the strict adherence to the theories of laws. Areas such as centrifugal force can be understood but then this shows the theory of thermodynamics to be incorrect.
    Thermodynamics misses compression and stored energy as well as the only physical energy that exerts out from the planet is centrifugal force. All other energies exert to the planets surface(including the sun).
    Next science decided the planet was on a balanced system of equal opposites. That is impossible in an area where the changes are due from a slowing planet, slowly moving away from the sun.
    Individualized areas of science does not take into account of a system that is totally interactive.
    Current science is hard pressed for the theories to be accurate in the past billions of years when the planet was rotating faster and evaporation had not started until 1.25 billion years ago.

  31. Tomas Milanovic

    Chief

    But the other foundational error in climate science is in the assumption that weather is an ‘initial value problem’ and climate a ‘boundary value problem’.

    I fully agree. It is a physical error an a mathematical nonsense. I would like to have one day a thread on this matter because it closely relates to the question of statistical predictability of chaotic systems.

    Speaking of chaotic systems, I must again do and redo the same work eliminating misconceptions. I already did it on other threads but it seems that it will be necessary for a longtime.

    There are scientists who don’t know what is chaos. Those equate chaos to randomness. I’d put that category at 90%.

    There are scientists who equate chaos with Lorenz. They have seen the butterfly attractor picture one day or the other. They know that chaos is not randomness but not much more. I’d put that category at 9%.

    There are then scientists who know what is chaos and really worked on it. I’d put that category at 1% and much less for the climate scientists.

    The chaos one could and should we be talking about as far as climate is concerned is spatio-temporal chaos.

    What is known as chaos theory and often associated with Lorenz was actually discovered by Poincare 100 years ago and it is TEMPORAL chaos.
    It is a paradox but chaos was first discovered by Poincare in a Hamiltonian system which has been considered for centuries as the perfect deterministic clockwork – the celestail mechanics.
    Poincare has proven that a gravitational 3 body system was chaotic and unpredictable. Actually it is not even predictable statistically (e.g you can not put a probability on the event “Mars will be ejected from the solar system in N years”).

    Scientists having been busy discovering relativity and QM (Poincare too), they have been ignoring these results for 60 years.
    Then Lorenz found chaos in fluid dynamics and the temporal chaos theory started slowly.

    The most important point that everybody who wants to understand something about temporal chaos theory should understand that it is all about geometry in a finite dimensional phase space.
    In other words it deals mathematically with systems of non linear ODE where all unknowns are coordinates of the phase space and the state of the system is perfectly defined by a point P(t) in the phase space by giving its coordinates (degrees of freedom). If it rings a bell with hamiltonian mechanics, it is good as it should.

    All the “advanced” concepts (bifurcations, shifts, attractors, fractals) are children of the temporal chaos theory. The simple rule of thumb is that if there is only time dependence, then if there is chaos it can be explained by the chaos theory. It doesn’t apply at all to the problem that brings us here and here is why.

    There is something much more complicated and qualitatively radically different from the temporal (Lorenzinan) chaos – the spatio-temporal chaos.
    There is no established spatio-temporal chaos theory. It is cutting edge and a few people work on it only since a a few decades.
    Spatio-temporal chaos deals with the dynamics of SPATIAL PATTERNS. Mathematically we deal with fields described by non linear PDE. Navier Stokes is an example.
    It is as far from the temporal chaos theory as QM is from classical mechanics.
    The biggest difficulty comes from the fact that we lost this convenient finite dimensional phase space. That’s why almost nothing transports from temporal chaos to spatio-temporal chaos. There are no attractors, bifurcations and such. The whole mathematical apparatus has to be invented from scratch and it will take decades.
    To know the state of the system we must know all the fields at all points – this is an uncountable infinity of dimensions.
    As the fields are coupled, the system produces quasi standing waves all the time. A quasi standing wave is a spatial pattern that oscillates at the same place repeating the same spatial structures in time.
    However in spatio-temporal chaos these quasi standing waves are not invariants of the system on the contrary to the attractors which are the invariants of the temporal chaos.
    They live for a certain time and then change or disappear altogether.

    You can see spatio-temporal chaos if you look at a fast mountain river.
    There will be vortexes of different sizes at different places at different times. But if you observe patiently, you will notice that there are places where there almost always are vortexes and they almost always have similar sizes – these are the quasi standing waves of the spatio-temporal chaos governing the river. If you perturb the flow, many quasi standing waves may disappear. Or very few. It depends.

    But this is clearly what weather and climate are. Spatio temporal chaos of staggering complexity because there is not only Navier Stokes. There are many more coupled fields.
    ENSO is an example of a quasi standing wave of the system.
    Of course I hope that the reader now knows that it cannot be explained by something depending on time only (like indexes, time series and such) because if it could, we would have a classical temporal chaos where space doesn’t matter. We would have solved the problem long times ago.
    But as ENSO is a pattern resulting of interaction of ALL fields in the system, it vitally depends on how these fields interact in space.
    That’s why all interpretations of ENSO (and other multidecadal quasi standing waves) are failing – people are using functions (series) that depend on time only which cannot clearly encode all the spatial interactions.

    There are a few exceptions like Tsonis. I have written a long post in the Tsonis thread so won’t repeat. But Tsonis makes a step towards spatio-temporal chaos by considering that there are several interacting waves what is equivalent to introduce some dose of spatial interaction.

    Of course as he considers only 5 waves, it is a rather rough way to discretize space over the whole planet but it is a beginning.

    The best way to imagin a full spatio-temporal chaos theory is to imagine that there is a different chaotic oscillator like the Lorenz butterfl) at every point of space (so there is an infinity of them) and that they are all coupled strongly with each other in a non linear and time dependent way.
    I am not saying that there can’t be some simplifications but nobody knows today.
    The only thing I am reasonably sure of is that there will be no progress in understanding be it via chaos or not as long as people will insist on the crutches of functions/series that are only time dependent.

    That’s why I would love to have a thread about this nonsense that climate is a boundary value problem.
    I know several people who would tear to shreds the defendants of this nonsense.

    • Tomas, I am going to turn this into a post. let me know if you would like to add some references/links. This issue comes up way too often, and your explanation here is very clear.

  32. Tomas Milanovic

    Judith

    As there is no theory yet, there are no textbooks.
    The papers are generally rather technical and mathematically non trivial.
    But the main approach is always the same – it’s what I would call “generalised Tsonis approach”.
    As the main difficulty is the infinite dimensionality of the phase space due to the fact that we deal with a field theory (what J.Stults has called “the configurational entropy”), people always try to reduce the problem to a finite dimensional one.
    This is then called cellular automata, coupled lattices, interacting networks.

    The idea behind this is mostly the same – have a finite number of nodes, grids and make them interact according to different couplings.
    These methods are used more by biologists than physicists because they are not lucky to have clean, simple ODEs but face messy, chaotic systems instead.
    For instace the brain is an example of spatio-temporal chaos (amusing idea that the brain is the ultimate spatio temporal chaos)
    A “simple” one because here the number of nodes is finite :)

    This paper is for example typical : http://amath.colorado.edu/faculty/juanga/Papers/PhysicaD.pdf
    It considers interacting coupled nodes and proves an important result that the behaviour of the system can be separated (like variable separation) in one part that only depends on the node uncoupled dynamics (f.ex a chaotic oscillator) and another part that only depends on the network’s topology.
    Of course a reader who can follow the nontrivial mathematics will immediately observe that the uncoupled dynamics corresponds to nothing physical.
    This is a defining feature of most serious papers on spatio-temporal chaos.
    They are situated on a meta level where one doesn’t attempt to apply the usual reductionism familiar for every physicist – write what happens at small scales (dx , dt etc) and go to big scales by integration.
    Here one uses instead an approach to study how the general topology of a network interacts with the individual dynamics.
    That’s why the networks look like “toy models” because what counts is not what an individual oscillator does when it is alone but rather what happens when (any) kind of oscillator is coupled to others and the variable is the topology of the couplings.
    You recognize in this philosophy what I called the generalised Tsonis approach

    Perhaps another interesting link might be : http://yakari.polytechnique.fr/people/pops/NL2574.pdf

    But as you mentioned at the end of your post, this thread is technical. I do not think that thses links are very readable for a casual reader.

    • ok thx. i’ll put a post up tonite on this.

    • Tomas,

      You just hit one of my nerves there! Not a bad nerve but a good one. ☺

      I think I see clearly your point through your words. I’m going to step back to more plain English type of description to see if I am following somewhat your view of climate in general. I prefer to keep words as simple as possible and only including arcane terms (to some) which usually just get many lost at one point or the other along the way.

      First, the topography. You are speaking of the layout of a mathematical graph, with nodes and links between these nodes, visually much as a spider web.

      I am going to pick a few for an example: TSI, albedo, irradiance, temperature, evaporation, precipitation, and wind. Each of these nodes have links, many times bidirectional, connecting these. The links are the equations describing how one node’s values affect another connected node’s values. I assume this overall is the topography you speak of.

      The nodes are parameters and these parameters usually are not merely single numbers but can be viewed as a map of the world with colors indicating the values at a given point on the map as you see so often at any weather or climate site. In reality these are more complex for they are 3D in nature (dx,dy,dz). This brings in the special aspect and the time aspect (dt) used to progress this network through time.

      But you are right to bring in another aspect that you term you bring in the aspect of “Tsonis approach” which I am not going to lookup right now on purpose, sometimes that draws my mind off point and confuses my own view of your words.

      You are speaking of the topography of this network of interconnected nodes itself. Much as looking at what and deviance in temperature over on the far left of my graph to wind far over on the right and studying this relationship which on one aspect has no direct ties but can only act after going from temperature to evaporation to precipitation (volume collapse) to pressure to wind. And wind connects back to temperature through evaporation.

      If temporal changes are looked in such large steps and you are viewing the 3D colored maps at each node you can see some patterns that appear to be chaotic in nature but that is only due all of the special/temporal information that is missing between these large dt’s.

      Is that description in a any way describing part of your ‘Tsonis approach’?

      When I look at actual relationships as in http://web.mit.edu/seawater/Seawater_Property_Tables.pdf and look at each with a critical view I don’t see instability and chaos, I see stability in each of these graphs. Each one of these relationships curve or step in a manner that instills smaller and smaller effects or larger and larger effects always in the right direction to bring a system toward stability when forced. But if you connect enough together and step in too large of a temporal steps, you do see what appears to be chaotic patterns, it is pseudo-chaos and this type of chaos is not really real, just an artifact of the method.

      However, effects such as gravity do not converge on stability, depending on trajectory, and can lead directly to instability and is due to the inversed square type of relation. In this case as vertical movements in the atmosphere this could bring forth locally true chaos but over distance would smooth back to a stable state as our world has been in for eons.

      I guess what I am saying is that chaos is so easy to fill in for our inability either from lack of knowledge, precise measurements, correct algorithms, relationships, and lack of adequate computing power and it’s precision.

      Now I will Google ‘Tsonis’ and probably get real confused again! ☺

  33. Tomas,

    You have a beautiful mind.

    I am a great admirer of Tsonis – but I was especially amused by your description of his work as a toy network model.

    Indices are terrific for regional climatology and hydrology because they relatively stable – quasi standing waves as you inform me – with useful empirical connections to a critical consideration for humanity – rainfall.

    Conceptually, however, we should view the solar mediated climate system as a single entity – like your stream but writ large. There are tremendous energies cascading through heliosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere and hydrosphere. These are the true base units of climate and they are all interconnected as they must be. It is all one and it is all chaotic.

    Cheers
    Robert

  34. Like many young and incomplete sciences, climate science has advanced to the point best described as “the more we know the less we understand”. This is often the product of the resolution of observations and the theories and hypotheses that attempt to explain them. I offer two examples.

    The standard model of DNA asserts that each active gene produces one and only one protein. However, there are more than 50,000 human proteins that can’t be accounted for in this model. What Watson and Crick once made seem so simple has proven to be staggeringly complex. Things look simple from afar but are often inconveniently complex when more closely examined.

    Earth system observations have become increasingly refined and the closer we look at key elements of global circulation models the more complex they become. A good example is the Atlantic Ocean meridional overturning. The less we knew about it the simpler it seemed. Instead, recent research strongly suggests that its behavior is consistent with the spatio-temporal chaotic model championed by Tomas Milanovic above.

    For a summary of recent research in this aspect of oceanography I suggest: http://theresilientearth.com/?q=content/ocean-conveyor-belt-confounds-climate-science

  35. Under a general principle to observe first, I found Tisdale’s animations useful in seeing what is going on, together with interesting interpretations and consequences. Tisdale has opinions on decadal variations. But first, NASA’s take on El Niño:

    NASA. 1998. SVS Animation 287 – Visualizing El Niño. Scientific. Scientific Visualization Studio. April 1. http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a000200/a000287/index.html
    Video #1 The 2.5 minute, narrated El Nino video
    Graphic (JPEG) #2 Sea surface height and temperature anomalies in the Pacific Ocean in August 1997 as measured by NOAA-14/AVHRR and TOPEX/Poseidon

    Some selected Tisdale animations and blink comparators follow: I gather from the animations (and NOAA) that there is a mechanism at work to propagate ENSO across continents and into adjacent ocean basins. Tisdale 2010a touches on clouds.

    (I assume that Tisdale has used the right data and the right graphing techniques; he has been faithful in responding to criticism with corrections or explanations.) Enjoy!

    • Tisdale, Bob. 2008. Recharging The Pacific Warm Pool. Scientific Blog. Climate Observations. November 30. http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2008/11/recharging-pacific-warm-pool.html.

      Introduction: In prior posts, I’ve noted that the heat upwelled during El Nino events isn’t all released into the atmosphere, that much of it is returned to the West Pacific and the Pacific Warm Pool where it awaits the next El Nino event. This video of the 1997/98 El Nino and the years that followed should help illustrate the process. I’ve interrupted the flow of the SSH video from JPL to narrate as needed. I also took the opportunity to illustrate and reinforce the lingering effects of the 1997/98 El Nino.

    • ———. 2009a. Reproducing Global Temperature Anomalies With Natural Forcings. Scientific. Climate Observations. January 25. http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/01/reproducing-global-temperature.html

      It Only Takes NINO3.4 SST Anomaly, Sunspot Number, and Volcanic Aerosols Data and A Different Mindset (Blink Comparators)
      Initial Comments: In this post, only natural forcings are used to simulate the Global Temperature Anomaly curve. The correlation is closer than any other attempt of this kind that I’ve seen to date, with or without anthropogenic forcings and with or without General Circulation Models (GCMs). Consider two things: First, most GCMs that government entities employ to make projections about future global climate do NOT model El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, even though ENSO is a dominant natural climate phenomenon. Second, those few GCMs that attempt to model ENSO events do NOT model their processes or the climate responses before, during, or after the events with any accuracy, though they are improving.

    • ———. 2009b. Cross-Sectional Views of Three Significant El Nino Events – Part 1. Scientific Blog. Climate Observations. February 13. http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/02/cross-sectional-views-of-three.html.

      The video that follows is intended to help the reader visualize of the subsurface processes that take place during El Nino events, and what better El Nino events to examine than the three significant El Ninos of 1982/83, 1986/87/88, and 1997/98….The first video in the series is the introduction and the presentation of the 1997/98 El Nino. A second video dealing with the 1982/83 and 1986/87/88 El Nino events will follow. The video is over 6 minutes long, but it goes quickly.

      YouTube – Cross-Sectional Views of Three Significant El Nino Events Part 1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_tAz2IATT8&feature=player_embedded#!
      YouTube – Cross-Sectional Views of Three Significant El Nino Events Part 2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWKFPHJvuF8&feature=related.

    • ———. 2009d. Contiguous U.S. GISTEMP Linear Trends: Before and After. Scientific. Climate Observations. June 28. http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/06/contiguous-us-gistemp-linear-trends.html

      Blink Comparators of prior and current GISTEMP data

    • ———. 2009e. Regression Analyses Do Not Capture The Multiyear Aftereffects Of Significant El Nino Events. Scientific Blog. Climate Observations. July 27. http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/07/regression-analyses-do-not-capture.html

      Regression Analyses Treat Enso As A “Forcing”, Not As A Process With Multiyear Aftereffects
      Regression analyses regard El Nino events as a climate forcing of varying frequency and magnitude, the same way they consider other natural forcings such as volcanic aerosols and solar irradiance. They do not consider the multiyear processes that can occur after those El Nino events. Before presenting these, I’ll first provide a detailed description of the processes that take place before, during, and after significant El Nino events.
      Closing
      Regression analyses do not account for the multiyear aftereffects of significant El Nino events and do not account for the resulting El Nino-induced step changes in SST, TLT, and Land Surface Temperatures.
      Regression analyses falsely attribute the divergence of global temperature anomalies from NINO3.4 SST anomalies to anthropogenic causes when, in fact, the divergence is caused by the lingering aftereffects of significant El Nino events.
      The additional rise in global temperatures after the significant El Nino events is in reality caused by subsurface waters from the Pacific Warm Pool being transported to the surface and remaining there after the El Nino event has ended.

    • ———. 2010a. La Niña Is Not The Opposite Of El Niño – The Videos. Scientific Blog. Climate Observations. June 10. http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/06/la-nina-is-not-opposite-of-el-nino.html

      Weather noise and seasonal variability have stifled my previous attempts to animate noisy datasets like TLT anomalies. That noise made it difficult, at best, to determine what is taking place. A short example of a .gif animation of monthly TLT anomaly maps is shown in Figure 1.
      Recently, I began animating maps that represent 12-month averages of “noisy” datasets with good results. The weather noise and seasonal variations are gone, for the most part. The 12-month-averaged TLT anomaly maps present a much “smoother” animation, as shown in the .gif sample, Figure 2.
      The following 2-part video series provides detailed descriptions, time-series graphs, and animations of the processes that take place during El Niño and La Niña events. It uses TLT, SST, Total Cloud Amount, Sea Level, and Downward Shortwave Radiation anomalies to help illustrate the significant differences between the 1997/98 El Niño and the 1998/99/00/01 La Niña.

    • ———. 2010b. An Introduction To ENSO, AMO, and PDO — Part 1. Scientific Blog. Climate Observations. August 8. http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/08/introduction-to-enso-amo-and-pdo-part-1.html (Diagrams but no animations.)

      … keep in mind that it is not the fact that the NINO3.4 SST anomalies are above a certain threshold that causes the changes in global weather and temperature during an El Niño. It is the change in location of the warm water to the central and eastern tropical Pacific and the changes in the locations and strengths of all of the coupled ocean-atmosphere processes (ocean surface wind, convection, precipitation, atmospheric circulation, etc.) that cause the changes in global precipitation and temperature. That is, the changes in NINO3.4 SST anomalies are only one of the many factors that cause changes in global temperature. The changes in NINO3.4 SST anomalies simply correlate well (but not perfectly) with global temperature changes.

      Note: An Introduction To ENSO, AMO, and PDO – Parts 2 & 3 have no animations, but present descriptions, diagrams and clarifications of various multidecadal oscillations.

    • ———. 2010c. Multidecadal Changes In Sea Surface Temperature. Climate Observations. November 17. http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/11/multidecadal-changes-in-sea-surface_17.html

      This post presents evidence that multidecadal variations in the strength and frequency of El Niño and La Niña events are responsible for the multidecadal changes in Global Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies. It compares running 31-year averages of NINO3.4 SST anomalies (a widely used proxy for the frequency and magnitude of ENSO events) to the 31-year changes in global sea surface temperature anomalies. Also presented is a video that animates the maps of the changes in Global Sea Surface Temperature anomalies over 31-year periods, (maps that are available through the GISS Map-Making web page). That is, the animation begins with the map of the changes in annual SST anomalies from1880 to 1910, and it is followed by maps of the changes from 1881 to 1911, from 1882 to 1912, etc., through 1979 to 2009. The animation of the maps shows two multidecadal periods, both containing what appears to be a persistent El Niño event, one in the early 1900s and one in the late 1900s to present, and between those two epochs, there appears to be a persistent La Niña event.

    • ———. 2009. Global SST Anomaly Animation 1996 to 2009. July 13. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ir1w3OrR4U&feature=youtube_gdata_player

      This video illustrates [OI.v2] Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomaly data for the Global Oceans from January 1996 through July 1, 2009.The contour level of the maps were set at 0.2 deg C to bring out the lower-intensity SST anomalies.

      (This page will also give you access to all of Tisdale’s YouTube animations.)

  36. I noted the term “acidic” refering to the pacific ocean, since the IPCC 4AR lists the ocean pH as ranging from 7.9 to 8.2 around the world I am somewhat confused as to how this can be termed “acidic” frankly this gross error turned me off and I did not read the rest of the post since all credibility was lost in the preamble. The terms “increased acidification” when referring to the oceans is a very popular alarmist propaganda ploy, frankly it demonstrates at the very least a total ignorance of the english language and what is probably more correct, normal IPCC alarmist distortion.

    • Frankly – the pH scale is a continuum from more acidic to less.

      These areas of upwelling in the eastern Pacific are the most acidic seawater on the planet during upwelling phases. Frankly it is more acidic than the water it is rising through.

      Frankly the article shows – using hard data – that the planet warmed because of clouds. Duh.

      • Perhaps I should have said relatively acidic – but I really only added it at all because the only actual papers I could find on changes in pH over time were done in these areas of upwelling in the eastern Pacific. Bad faith in ocean acidification science? I have read that there is so much money going into this area that ‘guidleines’ were developed to inform the large number of total novices coming into the field.

        But to quibble over as single word based on an arbitrary distinction between acid and alkaline – and to be rude about it – is no way to approach truth through dialectic.

        ‘The concentration of hydrogen ions is commonly expressed in terms of the pH scale. Low pH corresponds to high hydrogen ion concentration and vice versa. A substance that when added to water increases the concentration of hydrogen ions(lowers the pH) is called an acid. A substance that reduces the concentration of hydrogen ions(raises the pH) is called a base. Finally some substances enable solutions to resist pH changes when an acid or base is added. Such substances are called buffers. Buffers are very important in helping organisms maintain a relatively constant pH.’ http://staff.jccc.net/pdecell/chemistry/phscale.html

  37. Judith
    This has been a really interesting post with some good comments. Thanks very much.

    • Judith

      I’ll second Rob’s statement. Thank you.

      WUWT has tried to get a Dessler / Spencer “debate” going on the impact of clouds, but the two apparently “talked past each other”.

      Any chance of this sort of thing happening here (on a more “neutral” venue)?

      Max

  38. not sure if this has been mentioned here, but Roy Spencer has a recent post:
    Radiative changes over the global oceans during warm and cold events
    p://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/02/radiative-changes-over-the-global-oceans-during-warm-and-cool-events/

  39. Thanks to Dr. Curry for referencing
    Anon.2011. Papers on Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Scientific. AGW Observer. February 10. http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/papers-on-pacific-decadal-oscillation/
    I’m looking forward to reading the list, and any for which I can find the full text.

    I neglected to add this reference to the Tisdale references (since it was not by Tisdale).
    Bunny, D. 2009. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Research. Western Washington University, December 26. http://myweb.wwu.edu/dbunny/research/global/pdo/pacific-decadal-oscillation.pdf

    The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) refers to cyclical variations in sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. A detailed summary of the PDO is given in D’Aleo (this volume) and additional data may be found in Minobe (1997, 1999; Trenberth and Hurrell, 1994; Tsonis et al, 2007;), . It was discovered in the mid 1990s by fisheries scientists studying the relationship between Alaska salmon runs, Pacific Ocean temperatures, and climate and named by Hare in 1996. Zhang et al. (1996), and Mantua et al. (1997) found that cyclical variations in salmon and other fisheries correlated with warm/cool changes in Pacific Ocean temperatures that followed a regular pattern. Each warm PDO phase lasted about 25 to 30 years then switched to the cool phase and vice versa. The PDO differs from El Nino/La Nina warm/cool oscillations, which persist for only 6-18 months in an east-west belt near the Equator.

  40. Dear Robert,

    How would you explain the cloud changes associated with the Madden-Julian Oscillation a.k.a “day in the tropics”, as shown in Spencer et al (2007 GRL)?

  41. For any who are persisting and don’t know what the Madden-Julia Oscillation is – it is an odd little pulse of cloud moving west to east across the Indian and Pacific Oceans with a 20 to 60 day period. OLR anomalies are shown in the top box of the animation here.

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/map/clim/olr_modes/mapanim2.html

    I have an affectionate regard for the quirky little MHO because I can’t explain it – and I suspect that others can’t either what any confidence. There are a couple of links below but neither are worth clicking on. It has some affect on northern Australian rainfall – a little pleasant relief in the dry season and lost in the monsoon.

    If you note in the above animation there are 2 areas of OLR anomaly – positive and negative. Spencer may be clutching at straws.

    I feel like I have been reacquainted with an old, endearing but inexplicable friend. Thanks.

    http://www.clivar.org/organization/aamp/presentations/AAMP10_joint/7_Pray.pdf

    http://www.arm.gov/publications/proceedings/conf08/extended_abs/barr2_sa.pdf

  42. that should be MJO not MHO of course

  43. So much talk about ISCCP and not a slightest mention of their possible problems? Tsk, tsk.

    http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/isccp-problems/

  44. Well yes – that is why I used the Wong reference. A correspondence with ERBS in SW and LW and HIRS in the infrared.

    Wong et al (2006) find that ‘comparison of decadal changes in ERB with existing satellite-based decadal radiation datasets shows very good agreement among ERBS Nonscanner WFOV Edition3_Rev1, HIRS Pathfinder OLR, and ISCCP FD datasets.’ They estimate the 15 year stability uncertainty of the radiative flux anomaly data (for all three datasets) at 0.3W/m2 to 0.4W/m2.

    There is also the Pacific Ocean surface observations supporting decadal changes and the Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) confirmation of significant ENSO influence of radiant dynamics.

    I thought I would cite the concurrences – rather than bring up one analysis on a partisan blog. If it is worthwhile to bring this up explicitly – it has now been done.

  45. ‘When the trend is corrected, interesting things might be found, as shown by Clement et al. (2009) who corrected for the problem and found that cloud feedback is positive. As a long record, ISCCP data would be suitable to that kind of studies.’ from AGW Observer I don’t know what they think that means.

    “This observational analysis further indicated that clouds act as a positive feedback in this region on decadal time scales.” Clement et al 2009 ( that is cloud cover negatively correlated with SST)

    And this quote was included in the post.

    ‘Both COADS and adjusted ISCCP data sets show a shift toward more total cloud cover in the late 1990s, and the shift is dominated by low- level cloud cover in the adjusted ISCCP data. The longer COADS total cloud time series indicates that a similar magnitude shift toward reduced cloud cover occurred in the mid-1970s, and this earlier shift was also dominated by marine stratiform clouds. . . Our observational analysis indicates that increased SST and weaker subtropical highs will act to reduce NE Pacific cloud cover.’

    This qualitatively has the same trend over exactly same periods as the satellite data.

  46. From Clement et al.:

    “Before using ISCCP data, we applied some adjustments to remove spurious long-term variability caused by satellite artifacts and to account for erroneous retrievals of low-level cloud-top height (19).”

    At least they claim they adjusted it.

  47. I trust that I have dealt with your tsk tsk more than adequately. There are several problematic results in ISCCP-FD data – and these are discussed in more than sufficient detail at the NASA/GISS site – but they do not affect the trend in SW and LW up at TOA.

    Then there is the accordance with ERBS and with Clements et al 2009 – the latter is something that is misinterpreted at the AGW Observer site. We will give them the benefit of the doubt that it was an honest mistake. Simple human error is always the most likely explanation.

    Assessing data for source, reliability, independent confirmation and multiple modes of observation is the essence of the hydrological truth.

    It is always worth repeating that, here, it is a seeking of the sacred hydrological truth through dialectic. The required attitude is: humour, honesty, good will, application, reflection and good faith. If we have come closer to the truth I thank you.

    I would like to finish some with pithy and meaningful statement………..but nothing comes to mind. However, as we started with poetry why not finish that way. It comes from, would you believe, the Cloud Appreciation Society. It has 25,000 members – I must join.

    GIVE ME A CLOUDY DAY

    SOME PEOPLE THINK IT’S COOL SOAKING UP THE RAYS
    ACTING LIKE A GATOR DOWN BY THE POOL
    BUT MAMA DIDN’T RAISE NO FOOL I AIN’T SOME HUMAN BBQ
    GIVE ME A CLOUDY DAY

    IF YOU’VE SEEN ONE BLUE SKY, YOU MUST OF SEEN THEM ALL
    SAME OLD COLOR SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME
    I NEED SOME THUNDER AND LIGHTNING, A HARD RAIN TO FALL
    GIVE ME A CLOUDY DAY

    WHO NEEDS HEATSTROKE AND SUNBURN WHO REALLY NEEDS TO SWEAT
    MELANOMA, WRINKLES AND OTHER BAD NEWS
    I’VE GOT THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST RAINY DAY BLUES
    WON’T YOU GIVE ME A CLOUDY DAY

    © SKIP KANE 2010
    RANDLE, WA

    http://cloudappreciationsociety.org

  48. This resolves a problem that we were having with low cloud. The adjusted ISCCP low cloud is shown in Figure 1B of the Clement et al paper. The graph of the ISCCP data is also shown below.

    ‘The decadal changes in NE Pacific clouds and climate are linked to well-known basinwide climate shifts.’

    The thesis now fits the data much better – well at least I don’t have to reorder my world view yet.

    http://meteora.ucsd.edu/~jnorris/reprints/PacCloudFeedback.pdf

    The LW and SW up flux at TOA isn’t affected by this problem.

    Thank you all for helping me learn.

  49. Then there is the accordance with ERBS and with Clements et al 2009 – the latter is something that is misinterpreted at the AGW Observer site.

    I don’t know what you mean. I wrote there that they found a positive cloud feedback, which seems to be what they are suggesting.

    • Ari,
      Looking at the Clemens paper, the data is difficult to interpret as showing a positive feedback. Rather it appears at face value to support the idea that cloudiness drives global temperature change than vice versa. This interpretation is based on the observation that cloudiness correlates obviously well with the rate of temperature change, not with the temperature.

      Drawing conclusions as I do above is simplistic as the the areal coverage is different (and for other reasons as well). Thus I do really claim only that the interpretation of the data as supporting positive feedback is far from obvious.

      The conclusion that there is evidence on positive feedback is indirect. It is based on the observation that the only model, which can explain the observations has a positive feedback. This is a statement on the models not directly on observations.

  50. Clement et al. explicitly cite both observational evidence and model evidence for positive cloud feedback:

    Decadal fluctuations were identified in multiple, independent cloud data sets, and changes in cloud cover appeared to be linked to changes in both local temperature structure and large-scale circulation. This observational analysis further indicated that clouds act as a positive feedback in this region on decadal time scales.

    The only model that passed this test simulated a reduction in cloud cover over much of the Pacific when greenhouse gases were increased, providing modeling evidence for a positive low-level cloud feedback.

    There’s nothing wrong for me to repeat their conclusion in my article. I think they are best judges of their own data. If I would state something else about their work, such as claiming that they have found cloud forcing instead of feedback, I would be adding an interpretation to their work instead of just reporting what they said they found (which also makes sense to me).

    • Hi,

      Less cloud is associated with higher sea surface temperature – hence the potential for a positive global warming feedback. Although if you look at the Zhu Ping et al reference – there is a difference in the way clouds form in ENSO than in a global warming scenario.

      It is correct to say that there is a negative correlation of cloud to SST. The increase in cloud that occurred in the late 1990’s was in response to the 1998/2001 climate shift.

      ‘The decadal changes in NE Pacific clouds and climate are linked to well-known basinwide climate shifts.’

      ‘‘Both COADS and adjusted ISCCP data sets show a shift toward more total cloud cover in the late 1990s, and the shift is dominated by low- level cloud cover…’

      It is changes in SST that drive the cloud changes – and hence the energy dynamic.

      There is modeling evidence and then there is the scientific method..

      • I should perhaps add that less cloud is a positive feedback for these multi-decadal modes of SST change in the Pacific. Higher SST => less cloud => ocean warming and vice versa. The question is – what drives these multi-decadal changes in SST that appear in tree and coral ring evidence for 400 years – or other larger changes that appear in the Tsonis (2009) 11,000 year sediment record? Here I will leave you to speculate at the edge of the known.

  51. Tomas Milanovic

    Chief

    Being in a playful mode, during my free time I am elaborating a simple climate model.
    The goal is to fool all climate scientists who rely on averages.
    In the model I am simply moving clouds from day to night in tropical areas on different geometries at constant average cloudiness.
    This has a huge effect that overwhelms energetically anything you can imagine.
    But as it happens on a 24 h scale, this is weather, right?
    Also perfectly undetectable by any climatologist for whom considering time scales less than 15 years and space scales less than half a globe is an insult to his profession.

    Now the point is to find the right (non linear) way to couple atmosphere to the oceans (kind of 2 box non linear model).
    If I am lucky and I am confident that I willbe , there will be chaotic solutions to my differential equations and a clear warming pseudo signal.

    And after that I only need to publish it as an original model consistent with the AGW theory and having meaningful statistics.
    I like much the expression “consistent with AGW and having meaningful statistics” which seems to be the magical sesame for publication.

    And the best part of the fun would be that when everyone agrees, to reveal that the model has no meaningful statistics because it is chaotic and that the long term dynamics are integrally driven by cloud behaviour on supershort time scales and that CO2 is not even considered in the model :)
    The difficult part will be to tune the chaotic solution so that it produces a pseudo trend when I need it.

    What do you think about it?

  52. Let me think on it – but I agree – it needs to be consistent with AGW to be published.

  53. checked your page…an impressive and reasoned argument, which I found cogent although I am no scientist, which seems surprisingly rare in this field, oddly enough. Let’s check your predictions.

  54. Chief
    I’m not sure if you’re still monitoring this post, but if you are I would be interested in your view of The Association of Albedo and OLR Radiation with Variations of Precipitation – Implications for AGW by Gray and Schwartz
    I recently re-read this thread and noticed that nobody seems to have tried to quantify the effect of the PDO/changes of albedo on the magnitude of the recent warming and hence the numerical implications for AGW theory. (Perhaps, deliberately so?)
    This paper makes a stab at it from a slightly different angle. It is a little strident in tone and includes a bit of skeptical advocacy that reduced its impact and rather put me off. Nonetheless, I would be interested in your view of their analysis if you get the chance. It discusses the Hydrological cycle so it should be a matter close to your heart!
    Regards, Rob