Tropospheric Temperature Trends

by Judith Curry

A comprehensive history of the controversy surrounding tropospheric temperature trends has recently been published in WIRES Climate Change (h/t WUWT and Lorne LeClerc).

Tropospheric temperature trends: history of an ongoing controversy
Peter W. Thorne, John R. Lanzante,  Thomas C. Peterson, Dian J. Seidel and Keith P. Shine

Changes in atmospheric temperature have a particular importance in climate
research because climate models consistently predict a distinctive vertical profile
of trends. With increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, the surface and
troposphere are consistently projected to warm, with an enhancement of that
warming in the tropical upper troposphere. Hence, attempts to detect this distinct ‘fingerprint’ have been a focus for observational studies. The topic acquired heightened importance following the 1990 publication of an analysis of satellite data which challenged the reality of the projected tropospheric warming. This review documents the evolution over the last four decades of understanding of tropospheric temperature trends and their likely causes. Particular focus is given to the difficulty of producing homogenized datasets, with which to derive trends, from both radiosonde and satellite observing systems, because of the many systematic changes over time. The value of multiple independent analyses is demonstrated. Paralleling developments in observational datasets, increased computer power and improved understanding of climate forcing mechanisms have led to refined estimates of temperature trends from a wide range of climate models and a better understanding of internal variability. It is concluded that there is no reasonable evidence of a fundamental disagreement between tropospheric temperature trends from models and observations when uncertainties in both are treated comprehensively.

WIRES Climate Change, Vol 2 Jan/Feb 2011  full paper link [here]

The debate surrounding tropospheric temperature trends, and the disagreement among different datasets and with models, has often been at the heart of the scientific debate surrounding AGW.   Climate models predict a warming in the tropical upper troposphere, whereas the observational data sets have not.

In the 1990’s, there was academic “blood on the floor” over the discrepancies between the radiosonde analyses and the UAH satellite analyses.  I became interested in this topic during the period that I served on NOAA’s Council on Long Term Climate Monitoring.  We heard endless reports from Tom Karl and Dian Seidel on what they were doing to “massage” and interpret the radiosonde data.  I was most unimpressed with what was going on in this analysis, and was motivated by this to write my only paper on this topic.

I revisited this topic circa 2005 when I served on the review committee evaluating the CCSP Synthesis and Assessment Report on Temperature Trends in the Lower Troposphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences.   Our first evaluation told them to work harder to sort out the differences between the two main satellite estimates.  This actually happened, and an error was found in one of the data sets that substantially reduced the discrepancies.

I haven’t paid too much attention to this topic in recent years, but remain very interested in the issues surrounding the tropical upper troposphere.

The Thorne et al. paper is very comprehensive, clearly written, and well referenced.  The main reason I find this paper to be of particular interest is the historical aspect of the treatment of uncertainty surrounding this topic.   During the first decade, it was a case of I am right and the other dudes are wrong.  Uncertainty assessment or even acknowledgement was pretty much absent.

In the Thorne et al. paper, the conclusion states:

The state of the observational and model sci- ence has progressed considerably since 1990. The uncertainty of both models and observations is currently wide enough, and the agreement in trends close enough, to support a finding of no fundamental discrepancy between the observations and model estimates throughout the tropospheric column. However, the controversy will undoubtedly continue because some estimates of tropospheric warming since 1979 are less than estimates of surface warming, or fall out- side of the range of analogous model estimates (e.g., Figure 8).

There are several key lessons for the future:

1. No matter how august the responsible research group, one version of a dataset cannot give a measure of the structural uncertainty inherent in the information.

2. A full measure of both observational uncertainty and model uncertainty must be taken into consideration when assessing whether there is agreement or disagreement between theory (as represented by models) and reality (as represented by observations).

3. In addition to better routine observations, underpinning reference observations are required to allow analysts to calibrate the data and unambiguously extract the true climate signal from the inevitable nonclimatic influences inherent in the routine observations.

I have two main reactions to this statement:

1.  Finally, the community is paying attention to uncertainties, and beginning to understand that disagreement most likely implies uncertainty, rather than “I am right, the other dude is wrong.”

2.  Whereas #1 is a good thing, the statement “The uncertainty of both models and observations is currently wide enough, and the agreement in trends close enough, to support a finding of no fundamental discrepancy between the observations and model estimates throughout the tropospheric column.”   This statement is fine as along as this line of reasoning doesn’t travel along the path of assuming that the models and observations don’t disagree, and therefore we can have high confidence in the climate model results.

But it is really a good thing to see more awareness and realism in the community regarding uncertainties in both observations and models.  The uncertainties highlight the need to actually understand the differences.

145 responses to “Tropospheric Temperature Trends

  1. “The uncertainty of both models and observations is currently wide enough, and the agreement in trends close enough, to support a finding of no fundamental discrepancy between the observations and model estimates throughout the tropospheric column.”

    What a beautiful statement. So it pretty much is warming, not really sure how much and can’t be positive how much can be attributed to what, but CO2/ land use is doing something.

    I bet there are other interpretations. :)

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      I think that point 2 was a dig at Douglass, et. al. 2007, which did not do this.

    • What trends are they referring to? The UAH data shows no warming trend from 1978-1997 and no warming trend from 2001-today. However the second flat period is higher than the first flat period, so there appears to have been some sort of warming event during the 1997-2001 ENSO, one that has persisted to this day. But there is no warming trend in the physical sense, just this single warming episode.

      • Nebuchadnezzar

        Between 1978 and now there were two major volcanic eruptions and a slew of fairly major El Nino events. In terms of how the overall warming proceeded, I think both the ‘linear increase’ and ‘single step change’ models fail to do justice to what happened.

    • ferd berple

      “no fundamental discrepancy”

      That is a fundamentally flawed and misleading piece of logic. It is saying that since we can’t say A or B due to uncertainty, we can say A.

      In point of fact, the only conclusion that can be logically draw is that you can’t reject A or B. Maybe there is no fundamental discrepancy, or maybe there is. The uncertainty is too large to say either way.

      My GPS is not sufficiently accurate to say if I’m on the north or south side of the street. I’m not permitted to then conclude that the evidence is consistent with me being on the north side of the street, unless my intent is to mislead.

  2. In economics we say “risk is calculable, and uncertainty is not”.
    But I’ll go with the general notion that something is happening to the climate but we do not know what yet.
    And that we need further research before we enact any policy one way or the other.

    • Curt Doolittle

      Isn’t ‘no policy’ a policy itself?

      There is never a ‘before we enact any policy’.

      We already have policy.

      And it amounts to theft by free ridership based on what we know now, not because of +/-AGW considerations, but simply by virtue of the fact of being able to recognize, identify and administer a scarce resource that is excluded from the Market only because of our ‘no policy’ policy.

      What does Capitalism say we must do with scarce resources to efficiently allocate them in the Market?

      • Capitalism says that you DON’T allocate or <administer them. You allow the Market to determine the value – not government policy. The “Market”, in the form of CCX determined that the value of CO2 was zero. Other trading schemes are headed the same way.

      • If it was honest, CO2 offsets would have gone negative. I suspect it was headed that way, but Gore & Co. shut it down before people began paying to get rid of their credits.

      • Capitalism says we let the price of the scarce commodity go up. This will encourage people to find alternatives.

      • Jim2 –
        Capitalism says we let the price of the scarce commodity go up.

        Or down. Just because something is scarce doesn’t meant it has any intrinsic value.

        OTOH, the basis of this conversation is nonsense because CO2 is neither scarce nor valuable. :-)

      • David L. Hagen

        Jim Owen
        CO2 is both valuable – for food production –
        and for Enhanced Oil Recovery –

        and it is scarce –
        only ~ 3% of the desire for CO2 for EOR is currently available.

        Jim2
        The challenge of letting the market act, is that collective planning would have alleviated impending decline in GDP of oil importing countries due to the impending deep decline in available oil exports.

      • David –
        It does depend on how you look at it, doesn’t it?

        If it were as scarce as BartR claims, we’d all be headed for starvation.

        And if it were as valuable as he claims, CCX would still be in business.

        But I also agree with your view. :-)

      • What Bart R values is the negative: the reduction of evil CO2. But since reduction has a negative true value, the world should be issuing credits for non-reduction.

        Put that in your pipe and smoke it! Please! The world’s flora will thank you.

      • The fauna will eat the flora and the fauna and the food chain will do the same.

      • Brian –
        Put that in your pipe and smoke it! Please! The world’s flora will thank you

        lol!! I stopped smoking 35 years ago. But I try to do my part in other ways. For example, I breath really HARD – a LOT. Thousand foot climbs aren’t as easy as they once were (www. spiriteaglehome.com ) :-)

      • Gentlemen

        You keep inverting this.

        I’m not discussing CO2 scarcety. I’m discussing CO2 budget scarcety — the premise that there is a ceiling or series of ceilings past which CO2 level costs us something in Risk.

        Likewise, I do propose the Market fix the price, in exactly the same way the Market efficiently fixes all prices where fairly administered, by the Law of Supply and Demand.

        The Supply is a shared common resource, therefore belongs to each of us unalienably. Therefore, for its use, we ought each expect a fair return.

        At Market Efficiency, the revenue to the Supplier is maximized. That is, for any lower volume of sales caused by raising the price past the point where Supply and Demand curves meet, the Supplier’s revenues drop; for any lower price than this point, despite higher volumes, the Supplier’s revenues drop. This is how all commodities in a fair market are will be priced in Capitalism. Look it up.

        Of course there is a minor role for government in fair markets — as opposed to ‘bully’ or ‘free markets’ in that the government maintains a level playing field by minimal mechanical means, such as standardizing and enforcing fair weights and measures, maintaining currency, and so on.

        Sure, the government could try to set up a scheme like it did with cell phone bandwidth to sell enforcement rights to private companies which would then profit by distributing CO2E shares to individuals for payment, but this is a cumbersome and flawed system (we call it Cap & Trade) for the vast majority of CO2E exchanges. Since there’s already a sales tax system in place for the vast majority of CO2E exchanges (fuel sales, electricity sales), and a method to return revenues to every American administered by the same basic system (income tax), it would be not merely almost free to implement, but also by reducing churn in the system, pay for its own implementation.

        It’s been done before, and is in place, and working.

        The only question is, how long do 70% of Americans have to wait for their money from the 30% of free riders who get a benefit they aren’t paying for?

      • ferd berple

        “The Supply is a shared common resource, therefore belongs to each of us unalienably. Therefore, for its use, we ought each expect a fair return.”

        Is it OK for someone to pollute a river simply because they paid money for the right to do so? Will this money be paid to the people living downstream of the pollution, of will it be evenly distributed to all citizens, even those not affected by the pollution? What if the pollution harms some but helps others? Will those people helped by the pollution also pay? How do we go about determining this?

        It seems like this is a formula for involving the government in trying to set arbitrary prices for pollution costs and benefits and trying to administer them. Friends of the government will win, and everyone else will lose. But we will be told that everyone will win when the policy is first proposed.

      • Jim Owen

        You’re right: being scarce does not equal being valuable (ex: wooden nickels or confederate dollars)

        However:

        CO2 is (relatively) scarce even at 390 ppmv.

        It is highlyvaluable (i.e. absolutely essential for all life on our planet)

        We do not have any real notion whether or not higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations will cause a perceptible change in our climate, and (if so) whether or not this change will be primarily positive or primarily negative.

        I agree with your comments on keeping the government out of assigning a “value” for CO2 permits; in fact there is no need for such caps or permits in the first place.

        Max

      • John Kannarr

        “What does Capitalism say we must do with scarce resources to efficiently allocate them in the Market?

        How about, determine appropriate property rights in the scarce resolurces, so we know who rightly owns what, and who has the right to use or dispose of said scarce rresources? That requires a rational principle for determining who created or found the resources in the first place, or at least who has a right to use them, and in what circumstances and quantities. And that tends to put the brakes on the power grabbers who claim for themselves the right to tell everyone else what they may or must do with the resources.

      • John Kannarr

        I agree with the principle you express.

        Breath in. Breath out. That’s air.

        You have an inalienable right to it, as an American.

        It’s a common shared resource.

        It just happens there are limits and scarceties within air, which inherit the property we all own inalienably and equally our share.

        If one overuses that share, then they ought pay the rest.

        See? Simple.

        If we couldn’t administer such a commodity, we’d have to resort to the inferior method of treating it as an Externality, and applying cumbersome, inefficient and often ineffective command and control regulations, such as through the EPA.

        Our clear choice, to avoid EPA-like measures, is to use Capitalism the way it’s meant to be used.

        Price the commodity by the law of Supply and Demand. Charge the users. Pay the owners.

        Market forces will create efficiencies and maximize utility.

      • Bart R and John Kannarr

        I would agree with you both that humans (and other mammals) have an undeniable need for air (breathe in, breathe out…).

        It is undoubledltly a common shared resource, as basic as life itself, as is sunlight, wind or rain.

        Whether or not this undeniable need constitutes any sort of legal right to free access has not been tested yet (as far as I am aware).

        Whether or not a government has the legal right to tax the air you breathe depends on the laws of that government.

        In representative democratic societies the laws of a government are determined by the voting public through their elected representatives.

        If the voting public of the USA (or any other free democratic nation) wanted their government to have the legal right to tax the air they breathe, they would confer this right on their government. In effect, the people would confer ownership of the air (now a commonly owned and shared resource) to the government.

        Until this happens, the government does not have the legal right to tax the air we breathe.

        This means, by definition, that the government has no legal right to tax the CO2 we emit by breathing or, by extension, from any other activity we pursue (until we specifically convey this right to the government by direct popular referendum or through our legally elected representatives).

        I’d say that’s where this stands today.

        I would personally vote against granting my government this right, as I believe would most citizens living in democratic societies.

        A dilemma for those who would like to “tax” CO2 emissions.

        Max

      • Max

        You create an artifical dilemma where there is none, here.

        A government has as much obligation to maintain the best economic system it can, which in America is Capitalism (that’s true in the rest of the world, too, whether they know it or not).

        And the US government is failing in that charge, whether America knows it or not.

        While individuals have the right to breath free air, our right to swing that fist ends at the nose of every other individual. Nose rights trump.

        When we take air from someone else’s nose, we infringe their rights.

        But this isn’t about that.

        This is about the nose rights of Risk.

        Breathing establishes the inalienable share in the common resources of air.

        Altering the air in ways that are negligible, unimportant or trivial doesn’t amount to infringement.

        However, there are real Risks associated with exceeding CO2 levels. Not necessarily harms themselves, thus no evidence need be proved of harms that must happen, but only of Risks that can and have been amply demonstrated to be possible.

        At the point Risks are shown, unconsented, the nose rights are triggered.

        By the Constitution, the US government has the obligation to use available means to ensure these rights, over which no right has stronger claim.

        I know you’re not one of the fortunate who live under the protections of the US Constitution, Max, but surely you must be aware of this.

  3. GroundedInReality

    Maybe it’s just me, but it seems “convenient” that someone wants to discuss uncertainties in order to protect the AGW message whereas few seem willing to discuss them relative to falsifying the AGW message. And, per usual, the language is formed carefully to protect the AGW message.

    To me this continues to point to alarmists as BELIEVERS, not scientists.

    • Yes. The science was settled until it became obvious that it was wrong. So the fallback position is that it is uncertain. We didn’t hear about uncertainty until was needed to save the bacon.

  4. The argument can be summarized as “now that we realize how poorly we understand both the models and the data we see that there is a possibility that they don’t disagree”. I suppose this is progress of a kind.

    • I suppose this is progress of a kind.

      Not at all – they’ve simply moved the goalposts – again, as usual. So now the game starts all over again.

      • Neil Fisher

        Nah – the goal posts are still in the same place, it’s just the rules have changed. It’s gone from “You must show us wrong” to “You can’t show us wrong”.

      • The goalpost has never changed – get money from your pockets willing or not, by hook or by crook.

  5. The model output and the measured data don’t agree, but the uncertainties are large enough that they could agree. That implies that you use the marginal range to put them together. That implies that most of the data and uncertainties and most of the model output and uncertainties are outside the range of each other. That implies that most likely the models and the theory are wrong or it implies that the measured data is wrong. In any case, you should not determine policy and EPA Carbon Controls on something that is most likely wrong.

  6. “The uncertainty of both models and observations is currently wide enough, and the agreement in trends close enough, to support a finding of no fundamental discrepancy between the observations and model estimates throughout the tropospheric column.”

    If I understand this correctly, they’re saying the numbers don’t match, but we don’t expect them to, and the curves eyeball out ok, so it’s all good?

    • steven mosher

      no its more like this.

      The spread in model predictions ( chaos and all that) is 10+-2
      the spread in “observations” is also messy: 9+- 3.

      They dont disagree so you cannot reject the null, BUT you shouldnt conclude anything else , type II error and all.

      Go figure, a nascent science and a nascent “observation” system, dont disagree, neither are they BANG ON.

      • Except the numbers are more like 10 +/- 3 and observations 5 +/- 4. The observations and models do not agree but the uncertainty range is large. The range of disagreement is larger than the overlap, or possibly the observations are totally wrongly measured.

      • TimTheToolMan

        It funny how arguments like “Warming during the MWP was the same as today” are shot down by AGWers even though the claim falls within the error range of the proxy measurement

        …and then when two measurements fall within each others error range such as with the atmospheric warming being considered, suddenly its all ok and must be consistent.

    • John Kannarr

      I read it as: “There is a very slight possibility that the models and actual reality overlap, i.e., that the tails of the two different distributions overlap, therefore that’s good enough for the modelers.”

  7. charles the moderator

    If there are no schedules the trains are never late.

    This is the problem in a nutshell. Somewhere in the ensemble, there is usually a model close enough to be “consistent” with any given data point.

    • If there are no schedules the trains are never late.

      I’m stealing that. That fits so many different situations.

      • If there’s no schedules, no matter when the train shows up, it’s a bad time for someone.

      • And that’s an analogy that’s supposed to give us more confidence in climate science?

      • John M

        Er, no?

        I’m not interested in expressing greater confidence than is due.

        If there’s schedules, people can plan and arrange their affairs to take advantage of future certainties.

        Without schedules, or future certainties, all plans are not just riskier, but also more uncertain, which means for whatever investment in plans, returns must be discounted not just for the increased risk, but also for the uncertainty involved.

        One can insure against risk; uncertainty represents pure loss.

        False certainty, like any form of falsification of a financial record, is worse in that it commits one to wait for a train which may not come instead of to weigh all alternatives and choose the best one.

        Fortunately, in climate’s case, economists can be saved from this false choice by recognizing that there is an overriding simplification to the problem.

        That is, +/-AGW is not the fundamental issue, nor does the answer to any AGW subissue alter the economic or policy implications of CO2 on climate. CO2 level increase in itself is the fundamental issue, as the climate is known to be chaotic and CO2 level increase by human agency is known to be perturbation of a chaotic system.

        Why does this help us?

        Chaotic systems are like a hornet nest: some elements are fixed and routine, some patterns seem to repeat with minor variation, and some drift of patterns as well as some truly random elements wax and wane over time and differently in different parts of the nest. Any human being watching a hornet nest can intuitively grasp this complexity.

        Take a big stick and whack the nest, and see what happens. Most humans know better than to try this.

        CO2 level is that stick.

        The increase in risk and uncertainty under a regime of a swarm of climate changes following a large enough perturbation will always be more costly than measures taken to preserve the relative order and harmony of the climate.

        We can’t know how large a perturbation it would take to lead to the climate swarm, but we know that for 10-15 million years the CO2 level was roughly 40% less than it is now, within a range of about 20% of that level either way. So we can expect relative stability on the million-year scale compared to what we expect going forward in this new high CO2 phase.

        Now, I may be wrong. It may be that CO2 doesn’t destabilize the climate, but rather makes it more stable. That the tensions of a higher CO2 regime rather pins the climate into more fixed and slowly changing modes, that life adapted to higher CO2 levels will be simpler too, with less diversity and less chaos.

        But how would that barren and impoverished wasteland, again unlike anything we have known on the planet for 10-15 million years, be any better?

        The economic argument, based mainly on ice core data but also backed up by multiple other studies (and if these studies were wrong, the uncertainty only grows in any event) is to stop actively increasing CO2 farther above the status quo range of 230+/150 ppmv until we have much better understanding of all the sub-issues devolving from it.

        The Capitalist method for doing this is recognizing the scarcity of CO2 budget by letting the Market fix a price on CO2E emissions and returning that price to the owners of the shared common resource.

      • Bart R,

        I can be a lot briefer.

        If a schedule is so full of uncertainty that any time the train shows up “is consistent with” the schedule, what good is it?

      • Because then the Promised One can promise to make the trains run on time? Think about it. It’s political perfection. The non-falsifiable campaign promise.

      • John M

        That’d be the +/- AGW train.

        The CO2 train doesn’t share that problem.

        Consider switching from your unsatisfying +/-AGW platform to CO2 for more reliable on time service.

      • Bart R

        If the CO2 engine doesn’t affect the AGW train in the way you think it does, who cares? What you now seem to be claiming is that since you think you know how much wood is being burned, you automatically know when the train arrives.

        What if the train’s brakes are stuck?

        Aren’t analogies fun?

      • John M

        Even analogies have rules.

        Sounds like you’re stuck on the +/-AGW track, talking about brakes.

        Nothing’s braking the CO2E train, this we know.

        Though now that you mention it, I’m in favor of the same approach for particulate emissions: price them per the principle of particulate ceiling, and pay everyone our share.

      • I mentioned particulates?

        So much for analogies having rules, but I guess if your goal is to regulate anything and everything, who cares about rules.

      • John M

        Actually, I’m strongly motivated to de-regulate as much as possible.

        See, putting a fair price on scarce resources and letting the democracy of the Market decide allocation by internal, individual budget choices is the opposite of command and control regulation.

        With a fair price and a level playing field, instead of command and control EPA-style interventions, or far worse, subsidies, price distortions are removed from the Market.

        What are those distortions?

        Well, in subsidies they’re a bit tricky. Many subsidies are greenwashed, called ‘alternative energy’ when it turns out they’re simply fossil fuel repackaged or stretched with biofuels. Some may still believe such programs are anything other than a waste of tax money, so to avoid needlessly clouding the issue I’ll base my claims on these mistaken beliefs, as they don’t much alter my case.

        http://www.iea.org/weo/docs/G20_Subsidy_Joint_Report.pdf pages 3-4:

        About 1% of world GDP goes to direct fossil industry subsidies (not counting biofuels). This is almost double the taxes raised from all energy markets, and at least seven times the subsidy to all alternative energy (including biofuel).

        At least as much net subsidy is paid to the fossil industry as gross subsidy to food production worldwide.

        This goes directly to industry excess profit.

        Energy subsidies, in particular, are often used to alleviate energy poverty and promote economic development..

        (A view I do not share. Distortions of fair markets make them less efficient, increasing net poverty and doing nothing for economic growth in the long run.)

        ..by enabling access to affordable modern energy services. Given the critical role that energy plays in economic and social development, the reform of inefficient energy subsidies should be analyzed in a context, including their links to the three pillars of sustainable development, including economic growth, poverty reduction and environmental dimensions. Taking into account the sovereign rights of countries to develop economic and social policies, subsidies are fundamentally country-specific, and should be based on national circumstances.
         There is no systematic reporting of energy subsidies at the international level. There are also gaps and limitations in the measurement and estimation currently available for energy subsidies at the global level.
         Using the price-gap methodology, the IEA estimates that fossil-fuel-related consumption subsidies amounted to US$ 557 billion in 2008 (IEA, 2010).1 Based on IEA analysis, if these subsidies were phased out by 2020 it would result in a reduction in primary energy demand at the global level of 5.8% and a fall in energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions of 6.9%, compared with a baseline in which subsidy rates remain unchanged.
         However, it is worth noting that the price-gap methodology has shortcomings. OPEC is of the opinion that the benchmark price to be used in the case of energy resource well-endowed countries should be the cost of production. Consequently, OPEC could not associate itself with the above estimation of fossil-fuel-related consumption subsidies.
         Furthermore, subsidies provided to producers of fossil fuels may be on the order of US$ 100 billion per year (GSI, 2009). The total order of magnitude of subsidies to consumers and producers – almost US$ 700 billion a year – is roughly equivalent to 1% of world GDP (World Bank, 2009; OECD, 2008a). Energy subsidies also imply significant fiscal and quasi-fiscal costs (Ebinger, 2006; Briceno et al., 2009).
         OECD countries have been raising taxes (negative subsidies) on energy, mainly fossil transport fuels, in amounts exceeding US$ 400 billion (excluding Goods and Services Tax and Value Added Tax) in each of the years between 2003 and 2008; these taxes significantly affect relative end-use prices for fuels.2
         Subsidies to other non-fossil-fuel energy are considerable and have been increasing over time. A rough estimate by the Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) indicates around US$ 100 billion per year are spent to subsidize alternatives to fossil fuels. Based on this, OPEC estimates that renewable energy sources and biofuels are subsidized at a much higher rate than fossil fuels. The per unit basis subsidies to renewables and biofuels are equal to US cents 5.0 per kWh, compared with US cents 1.7 per kWh for nuclear power, and US cents 0.8 per kWh for fossil fuels.
        1 The IEA is currently compiling estimates for consumption subsidies for 2009. The full time series from 2007 to 2009 will be finalized before the end of 2010.
        2 Source: OECD/EEA database on instruments used for environmental policy (www.oecd.org/env/policies/database)
        5
         To put these estimates into perspective, estimated agriculture subsidies in OECD countries were close to US$ 400 billion in 2008 (OECD, 2009a). Government financial transfers to marine capture fisheries provided by OECD countries are estimated to be US$ 6 billion a year (OECD, 2006a).
         The value of petroleum subsidies to consumers increased dramatically in recent years, largely as a result of rising oil prices, but has been projected to decline to US$ 240 billion in 2010 (Coady et al., 2010). The increase in petroleum subsidies from 2003 to mid 2008 was particularly strong and consistent over time (IMF, 2008; Coady et al., 2010). From end-2008 to mid-2009, global subsidies are projected to increase from the lowest annual rate of US$ 50 billion to almost US$140 billion, reflecting the high volatility of oil prices.
         Poorly implemented energy subsidies are economically costly to taxpayers and can damage the environment through increased emissions of greenhouse gas and other air pollutants. Recent OECD and IEA analyses indicate that phasing-out fossil fuel subsidies could lead to a 10% reduction in global greenhouse-gas emissions in 2050 compared with business-as-usual (OECD, 2009b; OECD 2010a). Several studies reviewed by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) of the World Bank (IEG, 2009) found that subsidies to fossil fuel use tend to benefit high-income households more than the poor, due to the former‘s higher consumption levels. According to the same study, the bottom 40% of the population in terms of income distribution received only 15-20% of the fuel subsidies in developing countries. Nonetheless, some subsidies related to fossil fuels can improve the environment or the welfare of the poor if they encourage reduced reliance on biomass in areas at risk of deforestation, and fund research into ways to sequester carbon emissions from combustion.

      • Putting a “fair” price on resources by the government?

        You’ve already made a farce of your claim that you want to “de-regulate”.

      • BTW,

        You do realize that most of those government subsidies are consumer subsidies by countires like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuala aimed at keeping their citizens relatively riot-free.

      • The preponderance (over 80% I think) of the over $600 billion of “subsidies” (in quotes because the definition is extremely wide and variable) is a direct consumer subsidy. Following that trail to “excess industry profits” is quite torturous.

      • Rob Starkey

        When I was scrolling up from the bottom I had guessed that this must be one of Bart’s long, rambling statements. Turns out I was correct. Once again Bart writes meaningless dribble.

        Bart- please try to learn a bit more about “oil subsidies” before complaining about them. The vast amounts of “oil subsidies” are from particular nation states subsidizing the price of fuel for the ultimate consumer in their nation. The United States does not follow this practice, but does have a accelerated tax benefit that allows oil companies to save about $4B per year. The tax benefits were created to allow oil companies to “write off” certain expenses more quickly than would otherwise be possible.

        Bottom line- the US tax benefits to the oil industry are relatively minor. There is probably not a need for them today, but they are certainly not the issue driving the consumption of oil. Focus on the real issues and real solutions can be found.

      • John M

        “Putting a “fair” price on resources by the government?”

        I agree the government has no place fixing the price. The Market ought do that. As I’ve said. Repeatedly. Maybe you wish to consider reading harder, or smarter?

        I propose no more or less than the Market mechanism of the Law of Supply and Demand. Put a price on CO2E (and on particulate emissions, too, for that matter). If it sells well, set the price higher. So long as it continues to generate more revenue, continue to raise the price, until the next price rise produces such a decrease in the volume of sales that price times volume for the new price (ie total revenues) is lower than for the old price.

        That’s the price the Law of Supply and Demand sets.

        Just like for every commodity in a fair market.

        The gubmint has no role in setting the price.

        Just in enforcing the standards of weights and measures of CO2E, and administering the fair traffic of this commodity.

        Sure, other schemes of licenses, like cell phones have, were proposed. They failed as administratively infeasible for too much of the CO2E market. While they still have their place in part of the market, they’re not something an economy ought hang its hat on.

        The government fix the price. Sheesh. Where do people come up with such central-planning committee crap?

        Oh, BTW

        “..most of those government subsidies are consumer subsidies by countires like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuala aimed at keeping their citizens relatively riot-free..”

        While your claim has some elements of truth, it ludicrously holds that such puny economies hold a candle to American sovereignty in the business of subsidizing the fossil industry. Maybe if all 180+ other economies in the world were stacked up to the USA, they’d amount to ‘most’, but I’m not so sure. Indeed, for some countries, US funds are pumped into such programs as foreign aid.

        Check out Lamar Alexander’s report: http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/subsidy2/pdf/execsum.pdf tables ES1-ES6 (executive summary), which shows only a fraction of what the US subsidizes, and judge for yourself (I call Ethanol a biofuel dedicated to expanding and extending the fossil market, not supplanting it, so believe it’s a fossil subsidy, too, but that’s for you to make up your own mind about).

      • Maybe you should consider writing more consisely.

        Exactly how is “the market” going to set a price on CO2 without government coercion?

        “The market” has had ample opportunity to set a price on carbon. In the US, CCX failed miserably. Only the heavy hand of government in the EU has established a carbon market, and that is as shaky as the Greek economy, but somehow manages to be even more corrupt.

        And as far as the World subsidies being “puny” compared to US subsidies, the report you linked to measures US fossil fuel subsidies in tens of billions of dollars (low tens of billions at that). You’re earlier claim that FF subsidies represent 1% of the world economy would give ~$600 billion, which in fact makes sense, since “puny” Iran by itself subsidizes FFs to the extent of more than $100 billion. Add in “puny” Saudi Arabia, “puny” Venezuala, “puny” India, and “puny” Nigeria and their subsidies, and I can see how you can get up to hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies.

        http://www.globalsubsidies.org/subsidy-watch/news/fossil-fuel-subsidies-round-february-and-march-2011

        I agree with you that getting rid of ethanol subsidies is a good thing.

      • John M

        Your recommendation re: concise writing is noted, and I’ll (as ever) try harder.

        Thank you.

        The Market’s failed to set a price on CO2E in some cases, due the administrative complexity of most schemes, plus of course corruption.

        Simply having the government act as trustee to collect CO2E and pay revenues per capita from all buyers to all owners (through the sales tax mechanisms already in place – sweet revenge for someone opposed to taxes to see the system turned on its head and do something useful) gets rid of that complexity (been done in British Columbia, so we know it works) and is much harder to corrupt in the USA than C&T would be.

        I see our numbers are in broad agreement.

        But don’t you wonder that these other regimes make gas cheap, instead of just charging a fair price and — as major employer — paying their people what they’re worth, instead of learning from the bad example the US sets?

      • A schedule also can dictate a time that is bad for someone.

      • If there are no schedules, the train is “just in time” for some one, as well.

      • manacker

        If the train is just in time with no schedule, it’s pure happenstance.

        You can’t plan your business very efficiently around pure chance.

        If you could, everyone would arrive in Las Vegas on a bus and leave in a luxury car, not as some sharing your beliefs do the other way around.

  8. What they seem to be saying is “that no matter what, we will stick to our story.”

  9. Hi Judy

    Our paper

    Christy, J.R., B. Herman, R. Pielke, Sr., P. Klotzbach, R.T. McNider, J.J. Hnilo, R.W. Spencer, T. Chase and D. Douglass, 2010: What do observational datasets say about modeled tropospheric temperature trends since 1979? Remote Sensing, 2(9), 2148-2169. http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/r-358.pdf

    did not appear in Thorne et al paper. Our abstract reads

    Updated tropical lower tropospheric temperature datasets covering the period 1979–2009 are presented and assessed for accuracy based upon recent publications and several analyses conducted here. We conclude that the lower tropospheric temperature (TLT) trend over these 31 years is +0.09 ± 0.03 °C decade−1. Given that the surface temperature (Tsfc) trends from three different groups agree extremely closely among themselves (~ +0.12 °C decade−1) this indicates that the ―scaling ratio‖ (SR, or ratio of atmospheric trend to surface trend: TLT/Tsfc) of the observations is ~0.8 ± 0.3. This is significantly different from the average SR calculated from the IPCC AR4 model simulations which is ~1.4. This result indicates the majority of AR4 simulations tend to portray significantly greater warming in the troposphere relative to the surface than is found in observations. The SR, as an internal, normalized metric of model behavior, largely avoids the confounding influence of short-term fluctuations such as El Niños which make direct comparison of trend magnitudes less confident, even over multi-decadal periods.

    Also, the Thorne et al paper did not completely report on this paper

    Randall, R. M., and B. M. Herman (2007), Using Limited Time Period Trends as a Means to Determine Attribution of Discrepancies in Microwave Sounding Unit Derived Tropospheric Temperature Time Series, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2007JD008864

    whose abstract reads

    “Limited Time Period (LTP) running trends are created from various Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) difference time series between the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and Remote Sensing System (RSS) group’s lower troposphere (LT) and mid troposphere to lower stratosphere (MT) channels. This is accomplished in an effort to determine the causes of the greatest discrepancies between the two data sets.Results indicate the greatest discrepancies were over time periods where NOAA-11 through NOAA-15 adjustments were applied to the raw LT data over land. Discrepancies in the LT channel are shown to be dominated by differences in diurnal correction methods due to orbital drift; however, discrepancies from target parameter differences are also present.Comparison of MSU data with the a reduce RATPAC radiosonde dataset indicates that RSS’s method (use of climate model) of determining diurnal effects is likely overestimating the correction in the LT channel. Diurnal correction signatures still exist in the RSS LT time series and are likely affecting the long term trend with a warm bias. Our findings enhance the importance of understanding temporal changes in the atmospheric temperature trend profile and their implications on current climate studies.”

    • Your approach of looking at the RATIO of surface temperature to tropospheric temperature removes much of the “noise” of both observations and model outputs.

      I’m surprised your article was left out of “A comprehensive history of the controversy surrounding tropospheric temperature trends”.

  10. Rick Edwards

    I need to review more carefully, but at a glance, no uncertainty bars appear on the charts, nor are cited in a comparative or numerical way. There are a lot of references. In fact other than the rich set of references and the ‘calming words’ I’m not sure what the paper’s contribution is. Perhaps a statement such as ‘we are 95% sure that soon someone will be able to tune the datasets and models to agree’ would have been helpful. .

    • Nebuchadnezzar

      “I’m not sure what the paper’s contribution is.”

      It’s a review.

    • As it is said, let it be done. Example CCSM4 now shows a cooler troposphere, while CCSM3, warmer.

  11. Nebuchadnezzar

    “1. Finally, the community is paying attention to uncertainties, and beginning to understand that disagreement most likely implies uncertainty, rather than “I am right, the other dude is wrong.””

    Finally? Beginning? I guess that depends on the timescale you are working on. Thorne seems to have been saying this for a while:
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/BAMS-86-10-1437

    And uncertainty is widely discussed in a bunch of the ocean obs white papers you have discussed here before:
    https://abstracts.congrex.com/scripts/jmevent/abstracts/FCXNL-09A02a-1661562-1-cwp2a14.pdf
    https://abstracts.congrex.com/scripts/jmevent/abstracts/FCXNL-09A02a-1662927-1-cwp2a15.pdf
    https://abstracts.congrex.com/scripts/jmevent/abstracts/FCXNL-09A02a-1708567-1-CWP-4B-04.pdf

    There’s no lack of understanding of the importance of uncertainties in the observed record. The key things are to try and understand uncertainty, quantify uncertainty, learn to work with uncertainty and once you have made some progress towards these aims to help other people to use the data appropriately.

    The three global temperature data sets have uncertainty estimates associated with them. They are rarely used. You could argue that the uncertainty ranges are too narrow, but you can’t argue that uncertainty is something that is not being considered.

    If you do think the uncertainty envelope is too narrow, you need to say why. What is missing from the reckoning? How large might those missing uncertainties be? Do they matter? How would you address the problem?

  12. Dr. Curry, Re: your sentence in #2:
    This statement is fine as along as this line of reasoning doesn’t travel along the path of assuming that the models and observations don’t disagree, and therefore we can have high confidence in the climate model results.

    Could you have written a more tortured sentence? Does this adequately reflect the level of your scientific skepticism?

    Comparisons between model results and observations are getting weaker with increasing time and scrutiny. The probability that today’s temperature records are within statistical reasonableness of the predictions of many of the models of a decade ago are getting smaller by the day. My confidence in the models’ predictive powers are not rising with time.


  13. Climate models predict a warming in the tropical upper troposphere, whereas the observational data sets have not.

    Conclusion: AGW is not supported by the observed data

    Plea: AGW proponents please stop scaring the world with man-made climate disruption.

    • Rick Edwards

      And yet – just this week the National Research Council distributed a press release to announce that “the preponderance of scientific evidence points to human activities — especially the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere — as the most likely cause for most of the global warming that has occurred over the last several decades.” http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12781 The report referenced draws from their previous ‘book’ “Advancing the Science of Climate Change” that summarizes that CO2 is “by far the most abundant GHG contributing to human-caused global warming.” Their primary conclusion is “Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks – – – ”
      No hedging there!

    • Girma

      Dilemma:

      Climate models predict a [more rapid] warming in the tropical upper troposphere, whereas the observational data sets have not.

      Solution: Deny the facts by claiming the opposite (AR4 FAQ 3.1, p.252):

      For global observations since the late 1950s, the most recent versions of all available data sets show that the troposphere has warmed at a slightly greater rate than the surface, while the stratosphere has cooled markedly since 1979. This is in accord with physical expectations and most model results, which demonstrate the role of increasing greenhouse gases in tropospheric warming…

      OUCH!

      Max

  14. As one who is not a climate scientist, I am still confused. Is there a testable and potentially falsifiable aspect of the AGW hypothesis? Can the cognoscenti please enlightem me?

    • gyptis444

      Here are my collections:

      1) For the next two decades, a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emission scenarios.

      http://bit.ly/caEC9b


      2) …climate will continue to warm, with at least half of the years after 2009 predicted to exceed the warmest year currently on record.

      http://bit.ly/iiHulE


      3) The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.

      http://bit.ly/kkOf7C

      • gyptis444

        I forgot that infamous one:

        4) Children just aren’t going to know what snow is
        http://ind.pn/i2ZHaw

      • Don’t forget the author of the above quote also said

        “Heavy snow will return occasionally”

        and

        “We’re really going to get caught out. Snow will probably cause chaos in 20 years time”

        10 year old quotes too, by the way

      • Hot, cold, wet or dry, it’s all caused by human CO2 emissions, take my word for it…

    • If there were a tropical “hot spot” in the upper troposphere, you can be asssured it would have been considered falsifiable “truth”.

  15. ok cogniscenti….enlighten

  16. Non-scientific biases have often dominated discussion of the existence or non-existence of specific upper to mid-troposphere temperature amplification (TA, often misnamed a tropospheric “hotspot” although it involves the coldest regions of the troposphere). TA has been debated as a surrogate for consensus vs contrarian views of current climate understanding. The Thorne et al paper describes uncertainties surrounding the data. Here, uncertainties aside, I address the significance of TA as a surrogate. Three questions are relevant:

    1) Is TA a creation of climate models?
    2) Is TA a test of model skill?
    3) Is TA a test of the principles of anthropogenic global warming?

    I will argue that the answers are No, Partly, and No, and that a proper understanding of what TA does not tell us about climate change is essential to seeing it in an accurate perspective.

    1) Tropospheric amplification derives not from model simulations but from the quasi-exponential nature of the Clausius-Clapeyron equation that relates atmospheric water vapor capacity to temperature. Based on reasonable but not certain expectations that mid-troposphere (MT) humidity will parallel overall tropospheric humidity and increase to an extent that roughly maintains relative humidity, it can be predicted that latent heat release through MT condensation of water vapor should heat the MT more than the surface.

    2) Although basic geophysics rather than models predicts TA, its quantitation is model-based. Therefore, the accurate or inaccurate replication by models of observed MT temperature trends – the question addressed by Thorne et al – tells us something about their skill in simulation an important element of climate dynamics.

    3) TA represents a phenomenon independent of the cause of surface warming. Warmings mediated by greenhouse gases or by increases in solar irradiance are expected to yield approximately the same TA response, because the latter is a response to temperature change and not to its cause – see, for example Figure 12.5 and legend in TAR Chapter 12. An inaccurate estimate of TA would signify an inadequate understanding of the details of MT dynamics, but is not a test of AGW. Given the solid data indicating that the surface has warmed and that the climate component where uncertainty resides is the MT rather than the surface, TA is not a test of global warming.

    Why might the MT warm less than estimated? Without prejudging whether this is the case, it is reasonable to speculate why it might be. One obvious consideration is the level of humidity increase in the MT over the course of recent decades characterized by surface warming. Estimates vary; observations generally support an increase in specific humidity, but differ in whether the increase has been sufficient to maintain relative humidity (RH). A 2004 report by Minschwaner and Dessler noted an RH decrease, whereas studies by Soden et al in 2005 and Gettlesman et al in 2007 reported a maintenance of MT RH – the issue is not settled. To the extent that the water vapor increases in the MT have not kept pace with temperature increases, the potential for MT warming is diminished.
    However, the behavior of water vapor in the MT must be divided into two disparate and opposing phenomena. Water vapor exerts a greenhouse warming effect that constitutes a positive feedback on warming mediated by CO2 or other forcings. On the other hand, the latent heat released by water vapor condensation is a negative feedback in that it serves as a mechanism that transports heat from the surface nearer to space, reducing the temperature gradient between surface and higher altitudes. This is a negative “lapse rate” feedback that partially offsets the positive water vapor feedback. The two are often linked into a combined water vapor/lapse rate feedback, because the difference between estimates of the two is less than estimates of each feedback individually.

    Of the two feedbacks, it is the negative lapse rate feedback that most strongly determines MT warming, because it is the high altitude latent heat release that most changes the shape of the atmospheric temperature profile – atmospheric absorption of infrared radiation by CO2, water or other moieties is distributed more evenly. As a consequence, the strength of net positive feedbacks is inversely related in some models to the TA, because less MT warming signifies a reduced negative feedback. As an example, a recent comparison of model CCSM4 with CCSM3 showed that the higher climate sensitivity estimated by CCSM4 (i.e., a greater net positive feedback) was associated with a reduced estimate of MT warming and a reduced negative feedback. Descriptions are found in the text and summarized in the Conclusion to CCSM4 Climate Sensitivity .

    • Fred,

      “1) Tropospheric amplification derives not from model simulations but from the quasi-exponential nature of the Clausius-Clapeyron equation that relates atmospheric water vapor capacity to temperature. Based on reasonable but not certain expectations that mid-troposphere (MT) humidity will parallel overall tropospheric humidity and increase to an extent that roughly maintains relative humidity, it can be predicted that latent heat release through MT condensation of water vapor should heat the MT more than the surface.”

      Weird view of water vapor latent heat heat up air at MT. MT air cannot gain heat at the same temperature as water vapor at the MT. Water vapor latent heat is loss to space via radiation that cools down surrounding MT air not gaining heat or energy.

      • Perhaps, I should say, the collapse of saturated water vapor in giving out latent heat reduce volume occupied by saturated vapor in the MT. Subsequently, surrounding air expands to occupy the volume change due to water vapor condensation, cools down due to air adiabatic change.

    • “Given the solid data indicating that the surface has warmed…”

      Accurately, there is nothing solid about it. Take the temperature evolution of the continents of the Northern Hemisphere, only the thermometers of the stations show significant warming in the twentieth century. All other parameters say otherwise (MXD, TRW, glaciers, weather parameters).

    • Fred,
      Do you think your understanding is in agreement with the classic literature on the subject? Such as this paper?
      http://www.sciencemag.org/content/240/4850/293.short

      You write “TA represents a phenomenon independent of the cause of surface warming.” In this paper, surface and tropospheric warming are clearly tied together. What you have written seems to be a slap in the face to the earlier writings.

      I love this line from the 1988 paper: “The predicted changes, during the next few decades, could far exceed natural climate variations in historical times. Hence, the greenhouse theory of climate change has reached the crucial stage of verification.”

      Yes, the crucial stage indeed. In 1990, Sir John Houghton predicted the world suffer terribly from climate change by 2010. How much evidence to the contrary is it going to take for people to say “We were wrong. Sorry about that!”

      • Ron – Yes, what I stated is in agreement – there is no contradiction. The tropospheric amplification is predicted for greenhouse gas warming. It is also predicted for solar warming (see the link I provided earlier). Its presence , absence, or magnitude is therefore not a test of a particular cause of warming.

      • Fred,
        In my haste, I didn’t grab the article I thought I grabbed. I have a busy day planned. Perhaps I can a little searching in the next few days.

      • Fred,

        This is an invention based on fititious CO2 amplification. Nice energy can be amplified and if you tap it, a better than a perpetual machine can be designed. AGWers are full of imagination but unfortunately unrealistic, unphysical.

    • Fred Moolten

      You wrote:

      Non-scientific biases have often dominated discussion of the existence or non-existence of specific upper to mid-troposphere temperature amplification

      “Non-scientific biases”?

      Scientific papers have also pointed out this “fatal flaw” in the “dangerous AGW” hypothesis.

      You attempt to rationalize it, while IPCC has chosen to simply deny it.

      IPCC (AR4 Ch.3, FAQ 3.1, p. 252) has tried to cover it up by false assertions that the troposphere has warmed at a higher rate than the surface

      Some guys even tried to simulate temperature with wind shear when the temperature readings didn’t match the hypothesis.

      Ouch!

      That’s science?

      Max

    • Non-scientific biases have often dominated discussion of the existence or non-existence of specific upper to mid-troposphere temperature amplification.

      Boy is that ever an understatement! If I had a nickel for everytime someone said that the missing hot spot is proof that the warming seen is not due to greenhouse gases, I would be a rich man!

      You gave a great summary there and I appreciate the link to a direct study on the issue studied with CCSM4. I would only add a few things:

      (1) Although this amplification is predicted to occur in response to the general multidecadal warming that has been occurring, it is also expected to be seen in response to the temperature variations at shorter timescales, such as the fluctuations due to ENSO. And, indeed, it is well-confirmed that such amplification DOES occur on these timescales. This fact tells us a few things:

      (a) It means that the amplification is seen in the data over timescales where the data is reliable, i.e., not severely compromised by various artifacts such as changes from one satellite to another or changes in radiosonde instrumentation and sensor shielding that can contaminate the multidecadal secular trends but won’t affect fluctuations much. So, in summary: the data and models agree where the data is quite reliable and disagree where the data is most suspect.

      (b) It severely limits the explanations of how the models could be wrong. For example, if someone says that the models are getting this wrong because they aren’t handling convection well, one has to ask how a process that occurs on timescales of minutes to hours is being handled poorly in a way that doesn’t negatively affect the behavior seen on the timescales of months to a couple of years but does affect the multidecadal timescales. (I am not saying that it is impossible to come up with an explanation — Maybe the average behavior of convection is changing in some way on multidecadal timescales — but I think it does severely constrain possible explanations.)

      (2) It is worth noting that the fact that the hotspot is not a prediction specific to GHGs as the warming mechanism, and also the notion that the data is more likely to be incorrect rather than the models is agreed to by Richard Lindzen. In fact, he put it even more bluntly, saying: “The dominant role of cumulus convection in the tropics requires that temperature approximately follow what is called a moist adiabatic profile. This requires that warming in the tropical upper troposphere be 2-3 times greater than at the surface. Indeed, all models do show this, but the data doesn’t and this means that something is wrong with the data” ( http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/17/richard-lindzen-a-case-against-precipitous-climate-action/ ). Of course, he his belief is that the surface data is the problem.

      (3) What is a fingerprint of warming due to GHGs (at least relative to warming due to increased solar irradiance) is the behavior in the stratosphere. There, the models predict cooling for the GHG mechanism but warming for the solar mechanism. The data show cooling quite unambiguously (i.e., with a much larger signal-to-noise ratio than we have in the troposphere). Admittedly, this empirical data is complicated by the fact that some of this cooling is understood to be due to stratospheric ozone depletion. However, as I understand it, the magnitude and spatial distribution of the cooling make it difficult to explain by ozone depletion alone.

  17. Great post it is… As one who is not a climate scientist, I am still confused. Is there a testable and potentially falsifiable aspect of the AGW hypothesis? Can the cognoscenti please enlightem me? In economics we say “risk is calculable, and uncertainty is not”.
    But I’ll go with the general notion that something is happening to the climate but we do not know what yet.
    And that we need further research before we enact any policy one way or the other. Thanks for sharing this post so much…

  18. I find this thread and the comments to be distinctly depressing. I do not pretend to understand the science discussed in detail. But in the old days, before CAGW came along, I could read these sorts of scientific papers, and be reasonably certain that I was reading what I understood to be “science”. I might not be able to understand all the science, but I could reasonably understand the conclusions and what the main thrust of the research was.

    Now, I read this, and I am left with the distinct impression that this is merely a PR exercise to justify CAGW; it is not science at all. It seems to me that this is merely a smokescreen to give the impression that there is, indeed, nothing that the deniers/skeptics have produced that shows that CAGW might not be valid. I hope I am wrong, but I dont think so.

  19. “Tropospheric temperature trends: history of an ongoing controversy”, by Peter W. Thorne, John R. Lanzante, Thomas C. Peterson, Dian J. Seidel and Keith P. Shine

    Congratulations to the team that put this together. Very timely indeed!

  20. As the heat on the surface of the earth is lost into outer space never to be felt again, is it possible it could similarly be lost to the deepest oceans?

  21. Girma,

    Its not lost in the deep ocean. Energy is trasformed and stored up as chemical energy such as plant and animal growth under the deep sea. These enery will be recovered as oil, gas and coal millions of years later.

  22. The more I think about this issue the stranger it gets. It sounds like they are saying that the observations are so vague that they can neither confirm nor falsify the models. What then are we modeling? That is, why are we modeling? Or, more precisely, what is climate science supposed to explain (at $billions a year)?

    Science requires a certain minimum accuracy in observation, which it appears we do not have. There has to be something relatively precise to explain. Discovering this fundamental fact was the beginning of science.

    We need to know how much it has warmed, and when. What is the temperature profile? It sounds like we do not have one, so there is really nothing to explain. Refining the models obviously will not help, not if the data is so vague as to be useless for validating or falsifying the models.

  23. Sam NC

    Incoming Solar Energy = Solar Energy Used to Heat Ocean & Land Surface (1) + Heat Energy lost into space (2) + Heat Energy lost into deep ocean (3)

    Do the models have item (3)?

    • Girma,

      I have never considered any climate model to be valid. They are just jokes and skeptics take them seriously – wasteful of time. Item (3) is stored and released later ( human consumption of sea plants and creatures in short terms and oil, gas and coal in the long term millions of years), not lost.

      • Lost is a relative term of course. Let’s say lost on the dec-cen scale. It is estimated that a single cycle of thermohaline circulation takes about 1000 years. So heat stored today may come back in a thousand years, or several, but it is lost for now. For this reason one of the rather prominent skeptics (I forget who for the moment, maybe Kininmonth) refers to the ocean as “the flywheel on climate change” or something like that.

        I have a related question, namely if the ocean is for a given period of time a net heat sink or source, does that mean that the earth is not a blackbody during this period?

      • David,

        Ocean water retain Sun’s energy greatly and that is why the Earth ocean water keeps the Earth warm, not that CO2 pesudoscience could cause Earth warm. In addition air is a good thermal insulator. It is so plain fundamental physics that AGWers can never understand, sad.

      • David,

        “I have a related question, namely if the ocean is for a given period of time a net heat sink or source, does that mean that the earth is not a blackbody during this period?”

        Any matter on Earth with a temperature radiates energy and the surrounding matter with a temperature will affect its radiation lapse rate. Taking ocean water into consideration, a small drop water has a temperature and the surrounding water droplets are almost at the same temperature, so there is little lapse rate between them. So heat transfer is minimal between them. That little lapse rate keep the Earth ocean water warm coupled with air as thermal insulator keeps the Earth warm. Other planets do not have a large volume of water so they have abrupt daily temperature changes.

        Is the Earth a Black Body? Yes, it is at night.

      • at night… ???

      • Sorry. Flew right over my head :-)

      • Except for all those lights –

        http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap001127.html

      • “I have a related question, namely if the ocean is for a given period of time a net heat sink or source, does that mean that the earth is not a blackbody during this period?”

        I would have answered this earlier, David, but I just spotted it. A blackbody is defined as an entity that absorbs all incident radiation, and emits radiation as a function of the fourth power of temperature in accordance with the Stefan-Boltzmann law. Kirchoff’s Law states that at equilibrium, the capacity of an object to absorb radiation (its absorptivity) equals its capacity to emit radiation (its emissivity), so that a blackbody at equilibrium would be absorbing all incident radiation and emitting radiation at the same rate. Absorptivity and emissivity for real world objects vary with wavelength, but must be equal for any specified wavelength. They are each assigned a value of 1 for blackbodies, and so objects that absorb and emit less than blackbodies at a given wavelength have correspondingly lower absorptivities and emissivities. An object that reflects and/or transmits all radiation at a specified wavelength rather than absorbing any of it has zero absorptivity and emissivity at that wavelength. Exceptions to Kirchoff’s Law appear to be minor.

        It’s important not to confuse “absorptivity and emissivity” with absorption and emission. The former pair refers to a capacity relative to a blackbody (they are coefficients between zero and 1), whereas absorption and emission are rates of radiative flux and can obviously vary. Absorptivity and emissivity are properties of an object, and must be equal (with the minor exceptions noted above), but rates of absorption and emission need not be when an object is gaining or losing energy (i.e., not in equilibrium). The Earth’s surface, including the ocean, has an absorptivity and emissivity close to 1 in the infrared wavelengths relevant to greenhouse effects, although not at other wavelengths (for example, the surface reflects significant visible light, contributing to the Earth’s albedo). All other things being equal, the near blackbody property of the ocean in the infrared is unaffected by whether it is a net heat source or sink.

  24. The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.
    http://bit.ly/kkOf7C

    Year=>GMTA (deg C)
    1)1998=>0.53 (Maximum)
    2) 1999=>0.30
    3) 2000=>0.28
    4) 2001=>0.41
    5) 2002=>0.45
    6) 2003=>0.47
    7) 2004=>0.44
    8) 2005=>0.47
    9) 2006=>0.42
    10) 2007=>0.40
    11) 2008=>0.33
    12) 2009=>0.44
    13) 2010=>0.47

    Only two years left!

  25. “The uncertainty of both models and observations is currently wide enough, and the agreement in trends close enough, to support a finding of no fundamental discrepancy between the observations and model estimates throughout the tropospheric column.”

    This seems to capture everything that’s wrong with climate science in a single sentence. So what they’re saying, if I’m reading it right, is that there’s enough uncertainty in their models and their observations, that no one can definitively prove the models are useless.. In other words they’re so bad they’re good, at least for the purpose of keeping AGW alive…

    Am I getting this right? Anyone?

    • pokerguy –
      In other words they’re so bad they’re good, at least for the purpose of keeping AGW alive…

      Not so much that they’re “good”, but that the models and observations are supposedly functionally indistinguishable since they overlap. Thus, “keeping AGW alive” and simultaneously justifying the model outputs.

      As my niece says – bullfeathers.

      As I’ve said before, as an engineer, if I’d done anything like this (or even suggested it), I’d have been fired – and for good reason.

    • Nebuchadnezzar

      “So what they’re saying, if I’m reading it right, is that there’s enough uncertainty in their models and their observations, that no one can definitively prove the models are useless.. ”

      You can’t prove the models are useless using this data, but that doesn’t mean you are forced to accept that the models are correct.

      It’s neat that the history is laid out in the paper the way it is, because it shows that if the true magnitude of the observational uncertainty had become obvious earlier on, we wouldn’t all be here discussing it now.

      People made statements that were too certain based on observed data without fully understanding the uncertainties in that observed data (or in the models for that matter).

      • I have often considered the IAC’s criticisms of IPCC viz.
        “poor handling of uncertainty” coupled with “vague statements not supported by evidence” as polite euphemisms for “exaggeration”. Is that how others interpreted these?

    • You are absolutely right pokerguy.

      It is NOT EVEN WRONG.

  26. Joe Lalonde

    Judith,

    It is fine to say that the science community understands their are uncertainties. But they are not willing to look into the uncertainties for answers as it is “not their responsibility” or “they have no interest in this pursuit”.

    By NOT reviewing ALL science to the technology changes and advancements, then science has just a bad base that is full of mistakes.

  27. “The uncertainty of both models and observations is currently wide enough, and the agreement in trends close enough, to support a finding of no fundamental discrepancy between the observations and model estimates throughout the tropospheric column”

    I think most skeptics are agreed that at the very least this is tortured. Could they set the bar any lower? I just don’t get how this weasely, non-assertion assertion is acceptable to Dr. C. If we can’t agree on what seems so obvious to many, I really despair of ever finding a way out of this swamp..

  28. Craig Loehle

    The general statement is made that the troposphere warms more than the surface, as per theory (that is, qualitative agreement), but Christy & Douglass and others have been arguing that the GCMs warm it TOO MUCH (that is the models are not accurate or realistic). Careful which one is being discussed. It is particularly egregious to assert that the model range overlaps observations because then the worse the models agree with each other the better they agree with the data. If that is “success” then…it is like “winning” by a certain actor.

  29. Trunkmonkey

    “The uncertainty of both models and observations is currently wide enough, and the agreement in trends close enough, to support a finding of no fundamental discrepancy between the observations and model estimates throughout the tropospheric column.”

    Uncertainty cuts both ways. The models can make no specific predictions at a decadal scale except for the trend line, nor can the alternative hypotheses. PDO, ENSO, MJO, AO, AMO, IOD (hereafter the O’s) can certainly account for at least half of the deviation of GMAT below the trend line over he last few years. Just as the modelers’ donning their lampshades before PDO shifted was premature, so dancing in the streets and spinning donuts in our hummers is premature now.

    The models are far from worthless. Do you seriously think increasing a greenhouse gas will do nothing?

    • Not nothing, but not enough for CAGW. The sensitivities appear overstated. I think this position is shared by most of we Class 2 or 3 types.

    • “Do you seriously think increasing a greenhouse gas will do nothing?”

      I don’t know about other GHGs but definitely the CO2 contribution is approaching nothing.

  30. “The models are far from worthless. Do you seriously think increasing a greenhouse gas will do nothing?”

    This is just so manifestly ignorant. And vapid.

    I was going to say “ill-informed” to be polite about it, but ignorant is the more accurate word. “Vapid” on the other hand, was an easy choice.

  31. The controversy emerges from a mooted difference between models and measurements. We know that there are multiple limitations to models. Significant and little understood are the chaotic aspects – irreducible imprecision in the words of James McWilliams – that necessitates a qualitative judgement about solution behaviour. That is – there are large differences in possible solutions between plausibly formulated models.
    A solution is selected based on a priori assumptions.

    ‘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 (Gödel’s theorem) and the uncomputability of some algorithms due to excessive size of the calculation.’ http://www.pnas.org/content/104/21/8709.long

    Whether the models could produce a decadal and longer temperature decline as a result of a ‘plausible’ model formulation is not known – because we are not informed about any systematic exploration of the solution space. If they do not – they would seem to fail an a priori formulation test – because temperatures in the real world certainly can decline.

    It seems very premature to worry about fine detail when the broad brush is so uncertain.

    I was looking through my e-library yesterday and came across this.

    El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the dominant mode of climate variability in the Pacific, having socio-economic impacts on surrounding regions. ENSO exhibits significant modulation on decadal to inter-decadal time scales which is related to changes in its characteristics (onset, amplitude, frequency, propagation, and predictability). Some of these characteristics tend to be overlooked in ENSO studies, such as its asymmetry (the number and amplitude of warm and cold events are not equal) and the deviation of its statistics from those of the Gaussian distribution.’

    ENSO’s non-stationary and non-Gaussian character: the role of
    climate shifts (2009) – J. Boucharel, B. Dewitte, B. Garel, and Y. du Penhoat

    It is openly available in Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics. ENSO is indeed the major source of variability in global climate and hydrology on interannual to possibly millenial timescales. It is well known to be associated with secular changes in cloud radiative forcing. Low level marine stratiform cloud in the eastern and central Pacific (from both surface and satellite observations) is negatively correlated with sea surface temperature – producing very large changes in cloud radiative forcing in both ERBE – edition 3 and ISCCP-FD data. ENSO is most certainly chaotic in the terms of chaos theory. That is – a system evolving over space and time with control variables and multiple feedbacks (dynamically complex and sensitive to changes in initial conditions) and exhibiting abrupt and non-linear change.

    Dynamical complexity is indeed a fundamental property of climate resulting in the ‘internal climate variability’ which has become undeniable but is usually unspecified. There are control variables that theoretically include anthropogenic greenhouse gases – and abrupt and non-linear climate shifts that occur fairly frequently.

    It is more than past time that both sides of the climate wars evolved a more nuanced understanding. There are risks from greenhouse gases in a chaotic climate system. But much of what has been said about global warming is fundamentally in error and has been used as support to fringe cultural values.

  32. Trunkmonkey

    “It is more than past time that both sides of the climate wars evolved a more nuanced understanding.”

    Amen.

    There is too much vacuous zeal on both sides. The emotional pitch is understandable as one side ernestly believes it is saving the planet and the other that it is saving our way of life, but the sooner we get past the Rah Rah and get to work reasoning through the issues, the better off we will be. We need the best minds on both sides to figure this problem out.

    I read an interesting approach to possibly understanding the chaotic yet quasi cyclic phenomena so prevalent in climate (everything from ENSO and the other O’s, to DO events, to glacial-interglacial periodicity, to the period of glacial epochs over geological time). The notion is that sub systems constrained in space bump into each other such that their phase begins to correlate. When the phase eventually converges, the resulting harmonic destroys the correlation and the system reverts to chaos.

  33. Judy, another paper overlooked by the authors Thorne et al. is MMH2010. Thorne et al. lean heavily on the Santer et al. response to Douglass et al. But that analysis only uses data ending at 1999 and the variance estimator is too simplistic. We brought the GCM and observational data sets up to the end of 2009 and used proper time series estimation methods. The Santer et al. conclusions don’t hold up, and mutatis mutandis for the Thorne et al. bottom line. In the tropical lower- and mid-troposphere, using updated data and accounting properly for the uncertainties, the models and data exhibit statistically significant trend discrepancies.

  34. The cited paper by Thorne et al., “Tropospheric temperature trends: history of an ongoing controversy” cocludes:

    The value of multiple independent analyses is demonstrated. Paralleling developments in observational datasets, increased computer power and improved understanding of climate forcing mechanisms have led to refined estimates of temperature trends from a wide range of climate models and a better understanding of internal variability. It is concluded that there is no reasonable evidence of a fundamental disagreement between tropospheric temperature trends from models and observations when uncertainties in both are treated comprehensively.

    This conclusion is quite “nuanced” (or “wishy-washy”, however one prefers to call it).

    The facts of the matter are:

    – GH theory tells us that the troposphere should be warming faster than the surface, if the cause of warming is the GHE. This is the “fingerprint” of GH warming.

    – Extensive long-term temperature measurements of both the troposphere and the surface show that the surface is warming more rapidly than the troposphere instead.

    A less “nuanced” conclusion would simply be: the observed warming is apparently not principally coming from the GHE, but rather from something else.

    But instead, we have:

    – IPCC flatly denying the observed trend by claiming that the troposphere has warmed more rapidly AR4 Ch.3 FAQ 3.1, p.252):

    For global observations since the late 1950s, the most recent versions of all available data sets show that the troposphere has warmed at a slightly greater rate than the surface…This is in accord with physical expectations and most model results, which demonstrate the role of increasing greenhouse gases in tropospheric warming

    – Climate scientists frantically searching for the missing tropospheric “hot spot”: one climate scientist, Steven Sherwood (2008), even threw out the thermometer data as too inaccurate and replaced them with wind shear readings to try to demonstrate a “hot spot”.

    IMO it’s back to Judith’s earlier thread about admitting and correcting mistakes, rather than either flatly lying about it (as IPCC did) or putting together nuanced reports like the Thorne study that attempt to fog up the mistake.

    Max

    • Joel Shore

      – GH theory tells us that the troposphere should be warming faster than the surface, if the cause of warming is the GHE. This is the “fingerprint” of GH warming.

      Since this is an outright falsehood (and even Richard Lindzen would agree it is), everything that follows is nonsense. I am surprised that you still promulgate this falsehood when there’s been plenty of discussion to set you straight in this thread.

      • Joel, I guess I had just accepted it for granted as at one time common knowledge, so I’d like some references. Though I’m not sure which of Max’s points you are taking umbrage with (to state it civilly). Is it 1) AGW theory did not and does not claim that tropic troposphere temps should rise faster than the surface? (If this is it how do you explain the AR4 reference: “in accord with physical expectations and most model results?”) Or 2) that the above was designated at some exalted “fingerprint” level or was singularly more important than any other results?

      • Joel Shore

        Rod B: It has nothing to do with “AGW theory” and is in no way a “fingerprint” of GH warming since it is predicted to occur independent of the warming mechanism. It is a general feature expected of temperature trends or fluctuations in the tropics no matter what the cause (see my post here https://judithcurry.com/2011/05/13/tropospheric-temperature-trends/#comment-68841 and Fred Moolten’s here https://judithcurry.com/2011/05/13/tropospheric-temperature-trends/#comment-68510 )

        In particular, note what Richard Lindzen says about it: “The dominant role of cumulus convection in the tropics requires that temperature approximately follow what is called a moist adiabatic profile. This requires that warming in the tropical upper troposphere be 2-3 times greater than at the surface. Indeed, all models do show this, but the data doesn’t and this means that something is wrong with the data.”

      • Joel, much of your response makes sense, but with some looseness (in my mind at least). The statement, “in summary: the data and models agree where the data is quite reliable and disagree where the data is most suspect.” might well be accurate, but sure sounds slippery. Are you saying the expected hotspot would have been seen if the data (observations and measurements) were correct? What is the fault in the data (if there is a summary answer)?

        If TA is not a creation of climate models nor a test of the principles of anthropogenic global warming as Fred says, how is the AR4 quote, “in accord with physical expectations and most model results?” explained? Or am I reading too much into it?

        Mid tropospheric warming is geology based per Fred and occurs because of an increase in humidity and the resultant heat released from condensation. I thought GW from CO2-based forcing was the (or a prominent) driver of increased humidity. I can maybe see possible other causes, but isn’t the thought that were getting global warming and this will result in more humidity (at a higher profile, I assume..??) which will result in further mid-Tropo warming? Or is this too simplistic?

      • I try to reformulate the arguments given by Fred.

        The temperature profile of the atmosphere follows closely the adiabatic lapse rate at low latitudes. The lapse rate is not that of a dry atmosphere, but that of a moist atmosphere and the lapse rate is decreasing with increasing absolute moisture due to the influence of latent heat release in condensation. Thus the mid-tropospheric (MT) warming can be calculated adding surface warming to the influence of a change in the lapse rate. Warmer surface leads to more evaporation and higher absolute moisture while the relative moisture may change only little.

        Warming of the tropical troposphere will thus lead to an increase of the MT temperature by both mechanisms: higher value at surface and slower decrease with altitude. This is true, whatever is the reason for the increase of the surface temperature.

        The above gives the general picture, and it’s accepted by more or less all climate scientists. There are certainly additional factors, which may influence the moisture profile of the troposphere and lead to some deviation from the adiabatic lapse rate, but as far as I know, nobody has presented good arguments for strong corrections. The simplicity and apparent reliability of the theoretical arguments has led to the situation, where most people have trust in the theory and are doubtful on the observational data, which are also known to have problems of interpretation.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘The simplicity and apparent reliability of the theoretical arguments has led to the situation, where most people have trust in the theory and are doubtful on the observational data, which are also known to have problems of interpretation

        A statement that could equally have come from Harold Camping. But no – its the latest statement from Real Climatologists about Real Climatology. Here’s a translation:

        ‘Sod the observations, we have a nice neat model that says we’re all going to fry. And we’re not good enough scientists to come up with a theory that does agree with the data. Just keep on sending the grants. And just believe!’

      • You done’ git it. The data are suspect because they disagree with the models. It’s a unsolvable connumdrium. ;)

      • The knowledge is always based on a combination of observations and theoretical understanding. When they do not fit the same picture the weaker part is subject to most of the doubts. In this case climate scientists from main stream to the skeptical Lindzen seem to agree that the interpretation of the empirical data is the weakest part. It should be remembered that the interpretation of the observations is also based on theories and models. Thus it could be said that we have theories against theories. Some of these theories concern the atmosphere, some others are specifically related to the observational methods.

        The situation is, however, not settled until the discrepancy has been removed either by better observational data or by changes in theoretical understanding.

      • Rod,

        I think Lindzen is saying unambiguously that he thinks the tropical tropospheric amplification would have been seen if the data were correct. (He argues it is the surface data that is wrong.) I am not saying that with the same absolutism, but it does seem to be the most likely explanation. The problem with the data, in short, is that while it is good at capturing the up-and-down variations in temperature, it is challenging to extract multidecadal trends from the data because there are lots of things in both the radiosonde and satellite data that could cause a comparable spurious trend over such time periods (changes in instrumentation over time, transitioning from one satellite to another, …).

        I don’t see what there is anything to really explain with the AR4 quote “in accord with physical expectations and most model result”. Both basic physical expectations and models predict the existence of tropical tropospheric amplification of any temperature fluctuations or trends due to any mechanism.

        Finally, in terms of what it has to say in regards to the water cycle: It is true that if the data were really correct then it could mean there is something basic about the water cycle that is not being correctly captured by the models or basic theoretical expectations. The most direct conclusion would seem to be that the lapse rate feedback, a negative feedback that the models have, would be being overestimated by the models. (Since it is the lapse rate feedback that depends directly on the warming at altitude in the troposphere compared to at the surface.) A somewhat less direct implication might be that the water vapor feedback is also being overestimated, since indeed these two are tied closely together…although the reasoning to arrive at this conclusion involves more steps.

      • Rob B,

        “… and the resultant heat released from condensation”
        What happened to Science nowadays! Sick?

  35. I’ve lost the touch. I tried posting twice and both just went poof. Anybody have any ideas?

  36. Is adiabatic spam?

  37. Pekka and Joel, thanks

    [This may be a duplicate. I posted once but it vanished.]
    [h e l l u va is spam….]

    I’m not sure why the song and dance (by others) over multiple causes, even though it might be true. The point of contention stems from the sequence:
    1) We have AGW which over the last 100 years or so has warmed the surface — both terra and sea.
    2) The warmer surface has increased evaporation and the absolute humidity.
    3) The increased water vapor has changed the adiabatic resulting in warmer temperatures at higher altitude for two reasons: One, the simple change in the profile because of the moisture; two, the increased moisture increases the released latent heat.
    4) ergo the mid/upper tropo shows (or should show) a bigger temperature increase than the surface, and this is seen more over the tropics which is the biggest moisture source.

    The models with the millions of lines of code that a bunch of really smart people put together shows this happening as we expected. But we stuck the thermometer out there and it read something different. The conclusion might be correct and I put a lot of faith in climate scientists, but saying the thermometer is the bad guy warrants, IMHO, a hell of a lot more explanation and rationale than I’m seeing — so far. Did they thump the thermometer?? ;-)

    I understand Lindzen’s weigh-in but he’s saying step (1) above, global warming, hasn’t occurred (at least to the degree claimed) which is really a different and much more significant subject of contention.

  38. Pekka and Joel, thanks

    [This may be a duplicate. I posted once but it vanished.]
    [h e l l … and its derivatives are spam….]

    I’m not sure why the song and dance (by others) over multiple causes, even though it might be true. The point of contention stems from the sequence:
    1) We have AGW which over the last 100 years or so has warmed the surface — both terra and sea.
    2) The warmer surface has increased evaporation and the absolute humidity.
    3) The increased water vapor has changed the adiabatic resulting in warmer temperatures at higher altitude for two reasons: One, the simple change in the profile because of the moisture; two, the increased moisture increases the released latent heat.
    4) ergo the mid/upper tropo shows (or should show) a bigger temperature increase than the surface, and this is seen more over the tropics which is the biggest moisture source.

    The models with the millions of lines of code that a bunch of really smart people put together shows this happening as we expected. But we stuck the thermometer out there and it read something different. The conclusion might be correct and I put a lot of faith in climate scientists, but saying the thermometer is the bad guy warrants, IMHO, a lot more explanation and rationale than I’m seeing — so far. Did they thump the thermometer?? ;-)

    I understand Lindzen’s weigh-in but he’s saying step (1) above, global warming, hasn’t occurred (at least to the degree claimed) which is really a different and much more significant subject of contention.

    • Agreed. To put a fine point on it, is it realistic that the troposphere has had faster warming over the measured time period, but that our observations are so imprecise that we have measured the exact opposite?

      I don’t know how well the authors address this question, but the potent argument to me is that the *pattern* of changes predicted by the models is not lining up with observation. It’s not just that the final warming number is uncertain. The proposed mechanism doesn’t appear to be occurring.