Climate sensitivity discussion thread

by Judith Curry

There are several recent estimates of climate sensitivity that are worth taking a look at.

For reference and context, see these previous posts:

Hansen and Sato

Jim Hansen has announced a new draft manuscript, that is open for comments:

Climate sensitivity estimated from Earth’s climate history

James E Hansen and Makiko Sato

Abstract.  Earth’s climate history potentially can yield accurate assessment of climate sensitivity. Imprecise knowledge of glacial-to-interglacial global temperature change is the biggest obstacle to accurate assessment of the fast-feedback climate sensitivity, which is the sensitivity that most immediately affects humanity. Our best estimate for the fast-feedback climate sensitivity from Holocene initial conditions is 3 ± 0.5°C for 4 W/m2 CO2 forcing (68% probability) . Slow feedbacks, including ice sheet disintegration and release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by the climate system, generally amplify total Earth system climate sensitivity. Slow feedbacks make Earth system climate sensitivity highly dependent on the initial climate state and on the magnitude and sign of the climate forcing, because of thresholds (tipping points) in the slow feedbacks. It is difficult to assess the speed at which slow feedbacks will become important in the future, because of the absence in paleoclimate history of any positive (warming) forcing rivaling the speed at which the human-caused forcing is growing.

[link] to manuscript

From the summary:

There is a widespread perception that climate sensitivity should be represented by a probability distribution function that is extremely broad, a function that includes rather small climate sensitivities and has a long tail extending to very large sensitivities. That perception, we argue, is wrong. God (Nature) plays dice, but not for such large amounts. We note here several key reasons for perceptions about our knowledge of climate sensitivity.

First, there is an emphasis on climate models for studying climate sensitivity with an implicit belief that as long as climate models are deficient in their ability to simulate nature, climate sensitivity remains very uncertain. Model sensitivity is uncertain, to be sure, as illustrated by recent discussion of the difficulty of modeling clouds (Gillis, 2012). Aerosol feedbacks and the effect of these on clouds make a strict modeling approach a daunting task. However, climate science has a number of tools or approaches for assessing climate sensitivity, and the accuracy of the result will be set by the sharpest tool in the toolbox, a description that does not seem to fit pure climate modeling.

Second, there is, understandably, an emphasis on analysis of the period disturbed by human climate forcings, especially the past century, and it is found that a broad range of climate sensitivities are consistent with observed climate change, because the net climate forcing is very uncertain. Focus on the era of human-made climate change is appropriate, but, until the large uncertainty in aerosol climate forcing is addressed with adequate observations, ongoing climate change will not provide a sharp definition of climate sensitivity.

Third, there is a perception that paleoclimate changes are exceedingly complex, hard to understand, and indicative of a broad spectrum of climate sensitivities. To be sure, as we have emphasized, the huge climate variations in Earth’s history emphasize the dependence of climate sensitivity on the initial climate state as well as the dependence on the magnitude and sign of the climate forcing. However, the paleoclimate record, because of its richness, has the potential to provide valuable, and accurate, information on climate sensitivity.

Gillett et al.

Improved constraints on 21st-century warming derived using 160 years of temperature observations

N. P. Gillett, V. K. Arora, G. M. Flato, J. F. Scinocca, and K. von Salzen

Projections of 21st century warming may be derived by using regression-based methods to scale a model’s projected warming up or down according to whether it under- or over-predicts the response to anthropogenic forcings over the historical period. Here we apply such a method using near surface air temperature observations over the 1851–2010 period, historical simulations of the response to changing greenhouse gases, aerosols and natural forcings, and simulations of future climate change under the Representative Concentration Pathways from the second generation Canadian Earth System Model (CanESM2). Consistent with previous studies, we detect the influence of greenhouse gases, aerosols and natural forcings in the observed temperature record. Our estimate of greenhouse-gas-attributable warming is lower than that derived using only 1900–1999 observations. Our analysis also leads to a relatively low and tightly-constrained estimate of Transient Climate Response of 1.3–1.8°C, and relatively low projections of 21st-century warming under the Representative Concentration Pathways. Repeating our attribution analysis with a second model (CNRM-CM5) gives consistent results, albeit with somewhat larger uncertainties.

[link] to complete paper

Isaac Held

Isaac Held has a new post at his blog entitled Estimating TCR from recent warming.  The main point:

Here’s an argument that suggests to me that the transient climate response (TCR) is unlikely to be larger than about 1.8C.  This is roughly the median of the TCR’s from the CMIP3 model archive, implying that this ensemble of models is, on average, overestimating TCR

Paul K at Lucia’s

At Lucia’s Blackboard, Paul K has a lengthy and interesting post entitled  The arbitrariness of the IPCC’s feedback calculations.  The gist of Paul K’s article is about problems associated with the linearized analysis of the nonlinear flux response.  The comments on this thread are also well worth reading.

JC comments

There has been a general trend in recent analyses of climate sensitivity to eliminate the long tail on the high end.   There has also been an increased emphasis on observationally based estimates.  However, I fail to see how observations can be used in any sensible way to infer equilibrium climate sensitivity; transient climate sensitivity seems to be a better match for observational determinations.

I have a problem with all of these analyses, owing to two issues:  the linearization issue and the issue of natural internal variability.  Note: Zaliapin and Ghil address some issues associated with linearization .

The determination of sensitivity S

S = ΔTeq/F

from an equation relating a change in equilibrium surface temperature to a change in top-of-atmospheric forcing includes a variety of explicit and implicit assumptions that are questionable at best.  Some issues that I have with this simple formulation are:

  • The earth’s climate is never in equilibrium in the sense that infrared and shortwave fluxes at the top of the atmosphere are exactly in balance for any significant period of time.  While averaging over some time period may be useful in the context of some analyses, the frequency dependence of  sensitivity and multiple modes of natural internal variability make it very difficult to define a suitable period for such averaging.
  • Individual feedbacks (e.g. water vapor, ice albedo, cloud) are not additive, implying nonlinearity
  • Sensitivity is frequency dependent:  there are fast response feedbacks (e.g. water vapor and clouds) and slow-response feedbacks (e.g. ice sheets),  implying nonlinearity
  • Sensitivity is dependent on the climate regime (e.g. temperature and other elements of the climate), implying nonlinearity
  • Sensitivity varies regionally (and hemispherically), implying nonlinearity
  • Sensitivity is asymmetric for cooling and heating perturbations,  implying nonlinearity

The simple model

ΔTeq = S * F

is designed to evaluate the response of surface temperature to forcing at the top of the atmosphere.  This equation assumes that heat is distributed in the atmosphere-ocean-solid earth system such that a TOA forcing is simply translatable to a change in surface temperature.  The problems with this are addressed in a crude way by some approximation for ocean storage.

However, we know that large reorganizations of heat in the atmosphere and ocean occur (that show up as surface temperature changes) that are not forced by TOA  radiative forcing.  Further, such changes in surface temperature may not change the TOA fluxes in a way that is consistent with the relation ΔTeq = S * F, largely depending on the cloud response and regional responses.  I think that this is generally understood in the context of ENSO.  However, say for a 60-70 year natural internal oscillation (e.g. AMO, PDO) or longer term natural internal variability, the use of this equation to determine sensitivity from observations will give you extremely misleading results for sensitivity.

When discussing the hockey stick handle, and responding to the criticism that there is too little variability in the handle, it has been stated that higher variability in the handle would imply a much higher sensitivity. This is NOT true if the variability is unforced and associated with natural internal variability.

The big issue is how heat is distributed within the atmosphere and ocean and how this distribution varies temporally and spatially.  While climate modelers acknowledge natural internal variability from ENSO and on time scales of a decade, they regard this as noise on top of a large secular trend.  They neglect the possibility that the secular trend is not easily disentangled from longer term natural variability, that the models reproduce at much lower amplitude than is observed.

So what do sensitivity values derived from the  equation S = ΔTeq/F  actually mean?  Not much, as far as I can tell.

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

782 responses to “Climate sensitivity discussion thread

  1. IPCC projected for a warming of about 0.2 deg C per decade in the next two decades. This result, which is the approximate trend for the period 1970-2000, does not remove the cyclic warming due to ocean cycles as shown =>

    When the warming due to ocean cycles is removed, the actual global warming rate is about 0.08 deg C per decade. As a result, we have the following relationship for climate sensitivity (CS)

    Actual CS/Actual Trend = IPCC’s CS/IPCC’s trend

    Actual CS/0.08 = 3.26/0.2

    Actual CS = 3.26*0.08/0.2 = 1.3

    As a result, the actual climate sensitivity is about 1.3.

    • The sensitivity of Earth’s climate and life itself to Earth’s heat source – the Sun – was purposely obscured after 1945.

      Climategate emails and documents exposed the problem sixty-four years (64 yrs) later in Nov 2009, and the reactions of world leaders and leaders confirmed that this was not an accident or an oversight.

      The rest of this sad tale is here:

      • The symbiotic relationship that developed in 1945 between

        a.) Victorious leaders of the Second World War, and
        b.) Scientists hungry for more research funds
        c.) Compromised civilian control of leaders,
        d.) Integrity of government science, and
        e.) Undercut development of energy

        For the continued advancement of mankind. See today’s posting on “The Brave New Climate Forum”

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

    • Steven Mosher

      learn to spell TCR
      learn what it means
      learn that the TCR is different from the ECR
      come back and post after you have read Held and others.

      • steven mosher

        Aw, c’mon, steven – don’t come on too strong with this TCR/ECR stuff.

        It’s all based on a bit too many hypothetical assumptions and deliberations.

        “Hidden in the pipeline?” Hmmm…


      • Steven Mosher

        Not really. Anybody who has ever worked on a real world system understands the difference between a transient response and the
        response at equillibrium.

        Get in your car. from a stand still stomp on the gas. would you confuse the change in speed during the first few seconds with the response you get after a few minutes.
        think hard now. you apply 200HP of forcing to the car, do you immediately get a top speed response? nope. If somebody came up to you and said, your speed at 3 seconds was 60mph, therefore the response to a forcing of 200 HP is 60 mph? nope. now think about inertia.

        You think that applying a forcing to the climate will have its immediate and FULL effects right now? you know thats not true.

      • Steve, I work in the real world. Never deal with equilibrium’s though, steady states yes, but equilibrium’s no.
        You think global temperature is a equilibrium ?

      • steven

        Your car analogy is weak. The climate is not an automobile with a 200 HP motor doing the forcing.

        But, rather than getting all worked up about TCR/ECR differences, I think you should first look at the observed climate response (see above post to Girma).

        This appears to lie between 0.8 and 1.7 deg C.


      • Steven Mosher


        Where do I say I believe it is in equillibrium? You work in the real world, I hope your job doesnt require reading.

        The point is before one can even discuss that you at least have to have an understanding of the definitions and concepts involved.

        You KNOW that the transient response is different from the equillibrium response. You know that because you know enough to question the assumption of equillibrium. So, perhaps you can help educate Girma and other about the differences between the two. THAT would be a first good step. Then, we can discuss how useful the concept is given that the system is never really in equillibrium

      • Baa Humbug

        Not really. Anybody who has ever worked on a real world system understands the difference between a transient response and the
        response at equillibrium.

        Get in your car. from a stand still stomp on the gas. would you confuse the change in speed during the first few seconds with the response you get after a few minutes….

        Gravity and friction. Quantifiable.
        What about climate, what are the equivalents of gravity and friction in climate? Unless and until they can be quantified in detail, it’s all a stab in the dark.
        Transient/equilibrium response is just another concocted bullshit to cover the collective a$$es of scamming pseudo scientists.

        p.s. Shortest day of the year is a few weeks away on 21 June (sthrn H) Will its effects be felt in weeks/months or decades/centuries?
        When the sun rises in the morning, do I feel its effects within minutes or decades/centuries?
        Why is CO2 effects any different to solar insolation effects?

      • Steven Mosher

        manaker and others. The POINT of the analogy is to get a simple point across to you.

        1. the difference between a transient response and equil. response.
        You see this in many kinds of systems.

        2. Max: the actual response that Girma calculates is a TRANSIENT response that is roughly in agreement with the IPCC DOH!

      • John Carpenter

        Steve, the analogy you give is a good one. The inertia of the system is the key to getting others to understand the difference between TCR and ECR. Not sure why this idea is so difficult to comprehend, I thought you explained it well.

      • David Springer

        Anybody who has actually stepped on the gas in a car knows the acceleration diminishes over time. Wonderful analogy. Can you spell “own goal”?

      • I presume (believe) that your comprehension of equilibrium exceeds your ability to spell it. Does make me wonder how often you deal with it, tho’ …

      • bob droege

        Ah, Steve

        He’s (Girma) making some progress after all. Notice the “about” in his post.
        And he’s up to 1.3 from as I seem to recall from 0.

        If the trend continues, he will be a true Hansenite within weeks!

        And obviously with respect to the issues JC has raised, there is a limit to how much we can constrain climate sensitivity

      • Bob

        I was reducing IPCC’s value from 3.26 to 1.3!

      • But you were just saying “As a result, manmade global warming is not supported by the data.”

        Which I interpret to mean climate sensitivity to CO2 equals zero, so your estimate went from 0 to 1.3 in a matter of weeks, so it will only take a few more weeks to get to Hansen’s range.

      • Bob

        What does the data tell you?

        Please give me your interpretation

      • Steven Mosher

        No Girma. You are CONFIRMING the low end estimates for the TCR.

        3.26 is the ECR
        the TCR is estimated to be lower on the order of 1-2.3 or so

      • Rob Starkey


        Will you show why you are confident 3.26 is the ECR?

      • Steven Mosher


        will I show why I am confident the ECR is 3.26?

        Where did I say that?

        I’m a luke warmer. I think the probability that ECR is less than 3C
        is greater than the probability that it is greater than 3C

        I am not confident that it is 3.26, in fact I am certain that it is not 3.26

        read more carefully. When you show that you can read and understand I’ll answer your next question

      • Does not the GMT due to the ENSO oscillate about the smoothed GMT curve?

        Does not the GMT due to ocean cycles oscillate about the long term trend curve?

        The long term trend curve is almost a straight line.

        As a result, does not this mean that there is little acceleration in the global warming rate after mid 20th century compared to that before it?

      • Steven Mosher

        Well whats funny is that he is very close to confirming the IPCC estimates for the TCR. he just cant spell it yet

      • Thanks Steven. I accept your point.

      • Rob Starkey

        You seem very enamored with the concept of ECR. Why? Seems like a method to claim that one knows more about the impact of real world heat sinks than is actually known.

        What am I missing?

      • Steven Mosher


        I insist that people understand the definitions BEFORE they bounce off on discussing sunshine and MWP and GHGs and Enso and sunspots
        and blah blah blah blah.

        In a complex system such as the climate you know, you observe, that the system takes time to respond to changes in forcing.

        The sun goes down. Input goes from 1360 Watts to Zero.

        You’ll observe that we dont reach the temperature of space in an instant.

        With regards to ECR. I insist that people understand that definition before they go on balh blah blah with all their talking points.

        Go figure

      • Rob Starkey

        Steve- I am just suggesting that prior performance is generally the best indicator of future performance. To assert a change one should be able to quantify cause and impact at what level over what timeframe. I appreciate the feedback; you have studied this far more than I.

      • Rob Starkey

        It would be interesting to have someone confident in their belief of an ECR over 1.5C to clearly define the specific factors and weights at what timeframe to support their conclusion. This would seem to be the heart of the debate, but I find few specifics at the levels necessary to validate a conclusionin my reading.

    • Girma

      Before getting wrapped around the axle on differentiating between TCR and ECR, let’s simply look at the observed climate response, since modern measurements started in 1850.

      CO2 rose from 290 ppmv to 390 ppmv today. Temperature rose by 0.7°C.

      IPCC tells us that “natural” forcing (solar) represented only 7% of the total, but concedes that its “level of scientific understanding” of “solar forcing” is “low”.

      Several independent studies by solar scientists tell us that roughly half of the warming (rather than only 7%) can be attributed to the unusually high level of 20th century solar activity.

      So we have a likely range of anthropogenic forcing (between 50% and 93% of the total).

      IPCC also tells us that all other anthropogenic forcing beside CO2 (aerosols, other GHGs, etc.) cancelled one another out, so that forcing from CO2 is roughly equivalent to all anthropogenic forcing.

      From these data and using the logarithmic relation, we can calculate the observed 2xCO2 climate sensitivity at between 0.8 and 1.4°C.

      We can then hypothesize what the TCR and ECR are, based on these observed data.


      • Girma


        should read: we can calculate the observed 2xCO2 climate sensitivity at between 0.8 and 1.7°C

      • Steven Mosher

        you also do not know what the definition of TCR is

      • steven mosher

        I don’t really CARE what the definition of TCR is.

        All I am saying is that the OBSERVED CR (1850 to today) was apparently between 0.8 and 1.7°C


        PS If you can calculate a better range, please do do.

      • Rather than blather about TCR / ECR, and place demands on other peoles behavior (on a blog for crying out loud) hows about you quantify the difference in terms of both temperature and response time with a proper accounting of uncertainty. Then you’ll have something to say.

        You might also ponder: if a time constant is centuries, do I care

      • yes Mosh but Max is calculating the TCR. specifically a linear extrapolation of the TCR from the observed data. It’s not radically different from what Isaac Held has said; the main difference is that Held has looked at it as a professional scientist. You may be right about the definition issue…

      • Steven Mosher

        Yes Bill.

        What Girma is doing is OLD HAT. its been done before by people who
        actually know what they are doing. If he read the literature he would
        know that. And he would know that he is roughly confirming what we
        already know.

        To do it properly however he has to look at the TOTAL FORCING
        not just C02. C02 is PART OF the forcing.

        He wants to look at the total change in C per the total change in forcing.

        THAT will get him the transient response ( in C) of the climate system to
        FORCING in watts.

      • Total forcing is unknown. Not even close (known unknowns and unknown unknowns).

    • Mr. Orssengo, we know from other work of yours that you have observed a correlation strongly suggesting climate sensitivity of 2.2.

      Your ‘ocean cycles removed trend’ produces a climate sensitivity of 1.3.

      From this we can conclude that your ‘ocean cycles’ removal is applied about double what could be justified, internal to your own work and its internal logic.

      So, while you _could_ conceivably accidentally be right, using the wrong methods and techniques you’ve been throwing around with little regard for rigor or correctness, it’s far more likely you’ve accidentally been more right about the 2.2 climate sensitivity (for a certain value of ‘more’) than about the 1.3 figure, and have thus proven your ..

      Oh, who am I kidding? There’s no proof of anything that can be derived from an erroneous foundation by deduction. Which is where your work starts, and then merely gets more absurd from there.

      Go back to square one.

      What is so important to you about this cyclic illusion that you would abandon logic and reason to manufacture evidence as you do?

  2. I agree that the sensitivity formula is flawed for the reasons you’ve given and simply common sense. However, as has been pointed out by Gavin Schmidt in the past, that is the DEFINITION for Climate Sensitivity. It therefore can not be wrong.What has to happen is for climate scientists to agree that it is a useless calculation and a new term should be used to ensure there is no confusion on the matter. It is for that reason that I was heartened that the Hansen and Sato paper implicitly agreed that the current definition is not realistic by their statement that the sensitivity is dependent on the initial conditions – something that contradicts the definition of climate sensitivity.

    • Yes, that equation is used like some sort of iron law. What the equation actually means in terms of expectations for future climate change from greenhouse forcing is not what its proponents think it means, wherein lies the problem.

      • The folly of the will to forecast is a powerful influence on the suggestible mind. We want to explain why a decision is right, in clear terms. To explain why it is right, we think we need to establish its benefits and estimate the costs of making one choice or another.

        That thinking is apt and useful in many situations. Where there are linearities, true cycles, even low-order relations, we can see how useful prediction is. Engineering relies on our ability to exploit formulae to predict material strength, trajectory, and on and on.

        But there are limits to forecasting, such as when initial conditions will significantly affect the outcome of an interaction. Maybe some clever people will come up with a cunning way to estimate climate sensitivity not just in the past (no easy feat), but also to anticipate what values it will take on through phase after phase in the future, or to define it dependent on timescale, up to a point. I can’t believe it’s the same value independent of timescale or that it tends to return reliably to a narrow range.. but I’ve been wrong before. Maybe there is a gyroscopic stabilizer built into the climate, like Lindzen’s nonexistent cloud iris was supposed to do, that magically keeps climate sensitivity near a fixed level.

        How would we even begin to demonstrate or test that claim?

  3. Hi Judy – Excellent post that is right on the mark! Roger Sr.
    P.S. See this article – Pielke, R.A. Sr., H.J. Schellnhuber, and D. Sahagian,
    2003: Non-linearities in the Earth system. Global Change Newsletter, No. 55, 11-15 and note who the second author.

    • Hi Roger, thanks for the link, that is an excellent article.

      • We having a citation comparison?
        I used Web of Science, a little more professional tool than Google Scholar.
        Roger (or RA) Pielke seems to have plenty of papers, in fact too many for me to be bothered to sort out snr and jnr. WoS allows you to list by most cited. This one hits top spot with 1000 citations. Not bad really.

        Author(s): PIELKE RA; COTTON WR; WALKO RL; et al.
        Source: METEOROLOGY AND ATMOSPHERIC PHYSICS Volume: 49 Issue: 1-4 Pages: 69-91 DOI: 10.1007/BF01025401 Published: 1992
        Times Cited: 1,000 (from Web of Science)

        I looked for your name. I couldn’t find anything obvious. Maybe you can point me to something you’ve written?

        The point is your attempt to appeal to authority to close down an argument won’t work here.

      • HR
        Good ref for Pielke.
        Is providing a helpful link to those interested in subsequent recent papers on nonlinear climate models now forbotten?

        Re publications: To help manage global warming, I wrote:
        Hagen, D.L. & Kaneff, S. “Application of Solar Thermal Technologies in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions – Opportunities and Benefits for Australian Industry” for Anutech Pty Ltd to Dept. Arts, Sports, the Environment, Tourism and Territories, Canberra, Australia, June 1991 330 pp
        To help develop a sustainable fuel to replace oil depletion I wrote: Hagen, D. L., “Methanol: Its Synthesis, Use as a Fuel, Economics and Hazards.” Univ. Minnesota, December 1976, 180 pp., 608 Ref., NTIS Publication No. NP-21727 (NTIS best seller for 3 years)
        For ultra clean efficient combustion and more cost effective power systems see David Hagen @ USPTO.

        So how are you contributing to benefit society in managing the transition to sustainable fuels and efficient energy use?

        PS Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
        Caution on accusations with little evidence.
        Why do you not evaluate my comments at face value?

      • David,
        Your assumption is what is infantile. Just as so many in the AGW consensus camp, you assume you are the morally superior, and that anyone who opposes you is a wicked person.
        Your assumption that fossil fules are on balance bad is a blatant demonstration of historical ignorance. Solar thermal, like the rest of solar, sucks. It is rent seeking of themost blatant sort. You are just wanting tax payers to fund your lifestyle.

      • Hunter –
        You appear to have read little and understood less of what I wrote.
        I have never assumed that “fossil fuels are on the balance bad”.
        Once solar thermal is cheaper than fossil fuels, it is not “rent seeking”.
        I am seeking commercially vaiable transition and sustainable systems.
        Your assumptions and abuse are on your own head, not mine.

    • The diagram showing the various interactions is well worth saving for a reference. One thing that could be added is solar to oceans. The shorter shortwave lengths seem to have a varied delay impact on the atmosphere. That impact may only be a 10th of a degree in the tropics, but it is amplified the further it emerges from the tropics.

    • “At the 3rd IGBP deterministic and stochastic Congress, Banff, Canada, …” Nice digs, that!

  4. JC

    While climate modelers acknowledge natural internal variability from ENSO and on time scales of a decade, they regard this as noise on top of a large secular trend.

    What do you mean by “secular trend”?

    • The secular variation of a time series is its long-term non-periodic variation (see Decomposition of time series).

  5. A detail of the Held blog post is the difference in the warming of the SH and NH over the 20th century, something that needs explaining before we even start estimating TCR. The cart seems to have been put before the horse.

    • This detail, which continues to be ignored by the climate community, is a red flag that there is something wrong with the historical temperature record. BEST was supposed to deal with this problem, but they did not, so it remains. Until the temperature record is reconstructed in a way that it is being properly interpreted, a good estimate of climate sensitivity will likely remain elusive.

      • Steven Mosher

        Huh. you dont know what you are talking about.

      • Pooh, Dixie

        Entirely possible that we don’t.

        Please help us by giving us links to the BEST data base definitions, relationships between the database tables (entity types), the processes and process flows, the logic of the processes from defined raw data input to the database tables, and a definition of the algorithms used in the processing.

        I have searched the BEST site, and have found only generalizations of the process. The processes found appear to be mostly a system conversion of existing data into a common format, with some cleanup algorithms for bad, duplicate and missing data.

      • Maybe you don’t.

        “Has anyone ever noticed that the 3rd warmest December in the Northern Hemisphere (according to HADCRUT3) was 1939?

        On top of 2006 being only .095C warmer than 1939, it was only .3C warmer than 3 years in the 1940s/50s. And its just as cold as those 40s/50s years now.”

    • The difference between the NH and SH is interesting. There is the difference between the land and ocean percentage, the difference in land use and the difference in the warmer portion of the ocean currents which seem to be the big three. Because of the difference between the average sea surface temperature and the average land surface temperature, a small increase in sea surface temperature would be amplified by land temperature, which would be amplified by land use. These could combine to increase water vapor transport to the stratosphere where the ice crystals would deplete ozone. The Arctic might start developing its own ozone hole? The ozone depletion would lead to some increase in cooling.

      If you are not careful, before long there would be a pseudo-cyclic oscillation.

    • Steven Mosher


      The difference is totally expected. The real point of interest is that the land/ocean contrast is a constant. Since the land ocean contrast is a constant and since the land/ocean distribution is non uniform you can fully expect that you will and you MUST see differences between NH and SH.
      That has little to do with the global TCR

      • “The difference is totally expected. ”

        That doesn’t seem to be Held’s position. There seem to be multiple possible explanations and as would be expected none are a full explanation. He isn’t just talking about absolute trends but the pattern of change over the 20th century. For example In Held’s blog post he wonders about two possible (competing) explanations aerosols and internal variability that give the NH temperature trend it’s particular shape. What seems obvious to me is there isn’t yet a single explanation that satisfactorily explains every important detail of the 20th C temperature profi;le.

        How can that not be relevant to TCR?

      • Also I’d totally expect that if something was totally expected that it would totally be in a GCM. As Held points out GCMs don’t reproduce the hemispheric temperature change. That’s like totally unexpected.

  6. “The big issue is how heat is distributed within the atmosphere and ocean and how this distribution varies temporally and spatially. While climate modelers acknowledge natural internal variability from ENSO and on time scales of a decade, they regard this as noise on top of a large secular trend. They neglect the possibility that the secular trend is not easily disentangled from longer term natural variability, that the models reproduce at much lower amplitude than is observed.”

    Regarding ENSO as noise is obviously wrong.

  7. The assumption of linearity, for even a small range of change, is about as silly as it gets. The sensitivity of the northern hemisphere will be different than the southern, the oceans will be different than the land, the surface different than the troposphere. The lowest will prevent the highest from reaching its maximum potential. Which makes the fallacy of the atmosphere warming the warmer sea surface even more entertaining. Most of the land area that is warming near estimates, is at a much colder temperature than the average sea surface. Five degrees of warming in the Arctic where it has an average annual temperature of -10 C degrees and only impacts 10% of the surface would have only 0.3 Degrees impact on the oceans IF the arctic warming was sustainable. Much small solar variation has a direct and measurable impact on the tropical oceans.

    With there being obvious differences in sensitivity to different forces in different regions, linearity unquestionably a poor assumption.

  8. I noticed that Isaac Held explicitly defines TCR as a doubling of CO2 [or I assume a doubling of whatever the pertinent forcing element] in 70 years. This may make for clarity, but it seems not particularly relevant to the real world.

    I’m wondering whether the estimate of TCR (and it’s relationship with ECR) would be markedly different if Co2 increases were taken to be half a percent a year, or 140 years for doubling?

    By the by, I found Tamsin Edwards’ recent post ( very informative, perhaps in part because it didn’t contain even a hint of a result. It made it refreshingly easy to focus – for a non-climate scientist – on the process of the investigation.

  9. This was ine. Assuming that changes in CO2 are responsible for all the heating; i.e. ignoring contributions from aerosols, ozone, methane, airport thermometers, then the highest change in temperature one can get from a doubling is 2.2 degrees..
    1) Temp vs. Atmosphere CO2 (Keeling and pre-Keeling from burning carbon estimates.
    2) Plot Temp vs. LN(CO2) and take the slope. The slope give the maximum possible sensitivity.
    3) What the temperature would have looked like without CO2. If the natural variability from 1980-2010 was the same as from 1905-1945 then climate sensitivity is close to zero.

  10. NIPCC’s 2011 Interim Report, Ch. 1 Climate Models has a summary 1.6 Climate Sensitivity. It quotes NASA’s David Rind (2008)

    We still can‘t predict future climate responses at low and high latitudes, which constrains our ability to forecast changes in atmospheric dynamics and regional climate.

    Rind, D. 2008. The consequences of not knowing low- and high-latitude climate sensitivity. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 89: 855–864.
    NIPCC reviews real world estimates of climate sensitivity by Lindzen & Choi (2009) and Idso (1998).

    (Idso’s) eight analyses, in the words of Idso, ―suggest that a 300 to 600 ppm doubling of the atmosphere‘s CO2 concentration could raise the planet‘s mean surface air temperature by only about 0.4°C, which is right in line with Lindzen and Choi‘s deduced warming of ~0.5°C for a nominal doubling of the air‘s CO2 content.

    Lindzen, R.S. and Choi, Y.-S. 2009. On the determination of climate feedbacks from ERBE data. Geophysical Research Letters 36: 10.1029/2009GL039628.
    Idso, S.B. 1998. CO2-induced global warming: a skeptic‘s view of potential climate change. Climate Research 10: 69–82.

    For linear “climate sensitivity” evaluations to range an order of magnitude from 0.4C to > 3 C indicates rather large uncertainties! This range from the simple linear climate sensitivity evaluation is symptomatic of major problems covered up by “consensus”.

    In the TRUTHS satellite calibration project Nigel Fox of NPL highlights the very the high uncertainty in current measurements – needing at least 30 years to distinguish between models. Rather than dismissing TSI, Nigel observes:

    Solar radiation is the driving force of the Earth’s climate and small changes in the total output of the Sun can have significant effects on the Earth’s surface. It is believed that a 0.3% change in Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) was responsible for the mini-ice-age of the 17th century, Figure 2. The TSI record relies upon the data from many different solar radiometers flown over the last 20 years, whose inherent variability (~0.8%) could affect the prediction of models of global temperature change by as much as 0.8 K.

    (That is comparable to the 0.74K global warming for the last century.)

    IPCC’s 0.2 C/decade is about 50% to 46% higher (outside +/- 2 sigma) than the last 30 years’ actual global temperature trend is 0.133 C/decade or 0.137 C/decade. per Lucia’s statistical evaluation.
    Current global climate models appear unable to reliably distinguish and quantify natural terrestrial and solar variations from anthropogenic variations, and are likely to be missing major physics. They do not appear to adequately evaluate chaotic non-linear climatic interactions!
    I’ll take Hansen’s prognostications with a grain of salt! (British understatement).

    • Steven Mosher

      David if the earth responds so dramtically to changes in TSI ( forcing in Watts) then you have a higher sensitivity.

      • Steven
        Re Higher sensitivity – yes to TSI – but note “believed” (i.e. what is the uncertainty on that?) That could be mostly due to H2O & clouds. It says nothing definitive about sensitivity to CO2 since that is tied up with cloud response – the greatest uncertainty (97%). Note cosmic rays and ocean variations could also be involved etc.

      • Steven Mosher

        You dont get it. Watts are Watts.

        Sensitivity is defined as the change in C per change in Watts.

        Sensitivity to C02 is confusing you.

        The metric is sensitivity to changes in RADIATIVE FORCING.

        If Watts go up by 1, what happens to the temperature?

        Sensitivity has nothing to do with C02. That is why we can estimate it from look at the system response to volcanoes.

      • maksimovich

        That is why we can estimate it from look at the system response to volcanoes.

        Pinatubo was around 3wm^2 ,the estimated forcing of Krakatau was 6wm^2 where in the later case the observations seem to little perturbed, a rather large mountain to climb.

      • “You dont get it. Watts are Watts”

        Only if the Earths albedo is constant from the near uv to the far IR. If the albedo is different at different wavelengths then ‘Watts are Watts’ is not true; instead absorbed Watts are absorbed Watts,

      • Stephen Mosher
        See Nigel Fox’s TRUTHS project presentation slide 11 citing recent data that shows UV varying opposite the Visible resulting in rising TSI related to cooling temperature.
        J D Haigh et al Nature 467 p696 Oct 2010

        Furthermore David Stockwell’s solar accumulative model and his model & evidence showing a Pi/2 (90 degree) lag between solar TSI forcing and global temperature – showing solar driven temperature variations. Furthermore I have not seen such thermal lags incorporated into climate sensitivity evaluations.

        Those advocating catastrophic anthropogenic global warming still have the burden of proof to show statistical difference from the null hypothesis of natural variations. To date, the hypothesis is “Not Proven”.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Steven Mosher: Sensitivity has nothing to do with C02.

        The “sensitivity” that matters in the policy debate is the sensitivity to change in atmospheric CO2 concentration. The TCS that was estimated by Isaac Held was a sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 over a period of 70 years, which would be the result of a continued 1% per year increase over that time.

        One assumption that is dubious is that a change in CO2 can be related to a change in forcing (in Watts/m^2) throughout all future climate change. Another is that the sensitivity defined as you defined it will be constant throughout future climate change. Dr. Curry put it this way: Yes, that equation is used like some sort of iron law. What the equation actually means in terms of expectations for future climate change from greenhouse forcing is not what its proponents think it means, wherein lies the problem.

        Neither “sensitivity” (wrt CO2 or radiative “forcing”) can be estimated on present data without the assumption that it is constant throughout climate change, and there is no good reason to assume that either is constant.

      • Stephen Mosher
        On evidence for solar vs CO2 as driving climate, see: Omitted variable fraud: vast evidence for solar climate driver rates one oblique sentence in AR5

        whatever the warming effect of CO2, it is not detectable in the raw CO2 vs. temperature data.

        This is in glaring contrast to solar activity, which lights up like a neon sign in the raw data. Literally dozens of studies finding .5 to .8 degrees of correlation with temperature. So how is it that the IPCC’s current generation of general circulation models start with the assumption that CO2 has done 40 times as much to warm the planet as solar activity since 1750?

        Re below: “Well we know from fundamental physics that more CO2 leads to warming.”
        Conversely more warming causes more CO2 from the ocean.
        With BOTH more anthropogenic CO2 AND natural drivers causing warming which drives CO2, how do you distinguish and quantify both? Especially with chaotic nonlinearity dominated by little known cloud physics? Until solar/cosmic, clouds and CO2 forcing and/or feedback and their lags are evaluated, distinguished and quantified, we are blissfully ignorant of reality and actual nonlinear climate sensitivities.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        David L. Hagen: On evidence for solar vs CO2 as driving climate

        If CO2 concentration continues to increase and solar activity continues to decline, the actual temperature/climate evolution ought to clarify that considerably in the next few decades (One of my favorite phrases.)

    • Fred Haynie’s evaluation of CO2 and temperature variations shows very low variations at the South Pole increasing with latitude to very high variations at the North Pole. See: FUTURE OF GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE.
      See especially slides 10, 16. That suggests “sensitivity” varies markedly with latitude. He concludes the CO2 variations are driven by temperature variations.

      • However, according to Gavin, CO2 increases in the Antarctic don’t give temperature increases; it being too high and too dry.
        This is the reason that their has been no change in the rate of warming and cooling during polar summer and winter since the 50’s.
        They have all the data, but see no change in the rate, as one would expect by an increase in back radiation.
        This either means that CO2 can’t work as a ‘GHG’ without water, or can’t all.
        Lack of changes in the Antarctic temperature cycle due to induced CO2 increases in back radiation also suggest that the GHG radiation transfer must be restricted to below 2.5 km.

      • Doc Martyn,

        You still are imagining that a colder atmosphere, laden with CO2 is what warms the planet. CO2 does not warm, but rather, reduces the rate of cooling of the surface and oceans. It is exactly like putting a blanket (a non-electric blanket) over your warm body on a cold night. The blanket isn’t warming you in the sense that it is imparting energy from the blanket to your body. The blanket is keeping your own body heat in. Only, for the planet, the internal tectonic “body heat” is rather small, and the heat that greenhouse gases keep in is the solar energy that came through the atmosphere as SW radiation from the sun.

        Thus, increasing greenhouse gases over Antarctica will have relatively little effect as there is very little LW radiation coming off of the ground there to be trapped by the greenhouse gases. The reflected SW radiation hitting the ground is bounced back to space, going through the greenhouse gases both directions– doesn’t matter how many ppm there are…

      • “Thus, increasing greenhouse gases over Antarctica will have relatively little effect as there is very little LW radiation coming off of the ground there to be trapped by the greenhouse gases”

        Gosh, you sure about that ?
        In the summer the surface pumps out 210 W/m2 and in winter 120 W/m2 , giving peaks at 11.7 and 13.5 um.
        The main CO2 absorbance peak is at ~14 – 16 um. Most of the emitted LW radiation at the South pole is going to be trapped, heat the CO2 and then some fraction is going to be reradiated back down.

        Now, the relationship between radiative flux and temperature is fourth order, it is more and more difficult to push up hill, so it is easier to raise the temperature of Antarctica than it is to raise the temperature of Africa.

      • Doc, where is any LW coming from the ground in the middle of Antarctica? Almost everything come from the ground in the Antarctic summer is going to be reflected SW from the ice and snow.

        And you are right…it would be easier to warm Antarctic air than air with more moisture, but without any LW coming from the ground, there is nothing to warm with. Thus, the greenhouse gases in the air over Antarctica is like trying to warm a dead body with a blanket.

      • R Gates said, “like warming a dead body with a blanket.” Very true. In the Arctic, the ocean currents provide more energy to be returned. A large percentage of the high NH warming would be the result of energy accumulated elsewhere. That is why there is such good correlation with solar data. Small changes in the tropics make much larger changes in the NH with various lag times dependent on internal cycles.

        The general warming measured is not in regions where it can have a significant impact on OHC, other than Arctic ice melt which has a delayed negative feedback.

        Land use and solar have a much greater impact than over longer time periods than CO2 does at present.

      • BaitedBreath

        Gates> You still are imagining that a colder atmosphere, laden with CO2 is what warms the planet. CO2 does not warm, but rather, reduces the rate of cooling of the surface and oceans.

        And *more* CO2 presumably means a *greater* reduction in the rate of cooling of the surface and oceans. And since the means by which CO2 reduces cooling, is by trapping reflected LW, this means the atmosphere must necessarily be getting less cold, ie warmer. Which it apparently isn’t, of late … ??

    • Hansen observed:

      “Climate feedbacks can be confusing, because, in climate analyses, what is sometimes a climate forcing is other times a climate feedback.”

      Maybe I missed it, but I do not see where he solves the chicken or egg problem (causation):
      Does more CO2 cause warming or warming cause CO2 to increase?
      I saw no mention of “lag” or “phase”. Without definitively addressing causation, his “climate sensitivity” evaluation may actually be an evaluation of the variation in CO2 due to natural temperature changes. See CO2 lag temperature at WUWT etc.

      More important is to note the forest, not the trees. Hansen’s graphs of prehistoric temperature are a good reminder that we are near the interglacial peak temperature, and that for most of geological history it was much colder. i.e., if CO2 causes substantial warming, we need all the warming we can get to reduce the severity of the next glaciation – not to speak of improving agricultural production by providing more plant food.

      • Steven Mosher

        Well we know from fundamental physics that more Co2 leads to warming.

        We know from experiment, observation, and theory that doubling C02 increases the forcing by 3.7 Watts.

        If you think the sun drives the climate, then you are actually arguing for a very high sensitivity

      • Fundamental physics requires combined (multi-modal) heat transfer at the surface to be solved properly. More CO2 doesn’t necessarily leads to warming. That’s very naive and oversimplified. It could also lead to cooling (enhanced atmospheric emissivity), but it’s likely insignificant.

        Experiment, observation? LOL.

      • Steven Mosher
        Yes, but by “how much” and by what cause?
        The greater impact is from clouds – for which we know so little that even the sign is not reliably known. Nigel Fox notes 97% of uncertainty is due to clouds. So focusing on the impact of CO2 is like comparing the physique of a dog, a hippopotamus, and an elephant based on the size and flexibility of their tails.
        Until the highly nonlinear chaotic climate feedback due to clouds is modeled, quantified, and validated, I remain agnostic as to “climate sensitivity”, the magnitude of anthropogenic vs natural causes, and their consequences. Currently the uncertainty varies by an order of magnitude!

      • Steven Mosher

        David, the complication of clouds is really an issue for TCR and not so much for ECR. That is why paleo work is so important.

      • Please clarify. Would not clouds impact both shot term temperature and glaciation?

      • Experiments?

      • Web, which scientific measurements? Are you referring to Trenberth’s 0.9 +/- .18Wm-2?

      • Web, Martin Wild suggests bright sunshine was up .5W/m^2/year for the 1990s/2000s.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Steven Mosher: Well we know from fundamental physics that more Co2 leads to warming.

        We know from experiment, observation, and theory that doubling C02 increases the forcing by 3.7 Watts.

        Well, we know from atmospheric science that the first does not explain or predict variations in cloud cover, and variations in cloud cover show that the second isn’t necessarily true..

      • Well, the scientific measurements indicates that the ocean is taking up an average of just under 1 watt/m^2 in excess thermal energy. That energy is not being dissipated so it has to go into an equivalent temperature rise.

        What should it be for the current value of CO2 rise?

        3.7 watts/m^2* (ln(395/280)/ln(2)) = 0.88 watts/m^2

        That seems awfully close to the actual data, and so it looks like the clouds are not obeying your orders.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        WEbHubTelescope: That seems awfully close to the actual data, and so it looks like the clouds are not obeying your orders.

        I have ordered nothing. I wrote that their future is unpredictable.

      • Bright Sunshine accounts for any extra energy.

        .5W/m2/year from mid 90s to early 2000s.

        As much as 1.45W/m2.year in some places.

      • Steven Mosher (May 11, 2012 at 3:55 am):

        I don’t believe you can support your claim that “we know from fundamental physics that more Co2 leads to warming.” If you believe that you can, please present your argument.

      • David L Hagen

        for most of geological history it was much colder.

        Hang about. Don’t you mean “>i>for most of geological history it was much warmer”?

        For most of the past 500 million years (the period when animal life has flourished), the planet has been much warmer than now. The planet is currently in a ‘coldhouse’ phase – only the third since animal life began. There has been no ice at the poles for 75% of the past 500 million years. We are in an unusual cold period, not a warm period. The planet has been cooling for the past 50 million years. Once ice accumulates at the poles then we have unstable conditions and we oscillate in and out of glacial and interglacial periods. We are in unstable times. Warmer is better for life – much better.

      • peterdavies252

        Peter L do you have any citation for the proposition that the poles had no ice for 75% of the time for the past 4-500 million years?

      • Peter Lang


        IPCC AR4 WG1 Chapter 6, Figure 6.1 shows the periods when ice was at the poles and the latitude to which it extended. However, this chart covers only 400 million years. It is strange that it does not begin at the start of the Paleozoic Era (about 550 million years ago). By starting at 400 Ma instead of 550 Ma, the IPCC chart avoids showing the Silurian/Ordovician glaciation, a relatively short period of glaciations when CO2 concentrations were inconveniently high. This schematic shows when the cold period were:

      • peterdavies252

        Thanks Peter L. I agree that the present climate trajectory seems to be still cooling and hope that warming becomes the norm over the next million years or three or else it could well be the beginning of the end of the anthrpocene era.

      • “Does more CO2 cause warming or warming cause CO2 to increase?”

        When all forcings and feedbacks are taken into account, the net result is that warming causes more CO2. The evidence is pretty solid, but I hardly expect those invested in the alternative to pay any attention to, you know, evidence.

        A model valid over decades at this point in history, which is supported by the data, is:

        dA/dt = -A/tau + k1*(T-To) + k2*H

        A = atmospheric concentration anomaly
        tau = time constant (could be operator theoretic, leading to a longer than simple exponential tail)
        k1,k2 = proportionality constants (again, could be made operators)
        To = equilibrium temperature
        H = anthropogenic input

        With tau relatively short and k2 not very large, the input from H would be attenuated rapidly. With k1 large, in the near term, the equation then becomes approximately

        dA/dt := k1*(T-To)

        which is what we see in the data.

      • Exactly.

      • Bartemis

        Very interesting!

      • Glad you found it so. The relationship is solid – the only really reliable data we have (since 1958) shows that, over the period in question, the rate of change of CO2 is effectively proportional to a temperature anomaly.

        It cannot be CO2 driving temperature, because that would imply that CO2 could be increasing without bound at a constant rate with temperature standing still, and that is absurd.

      • Also, with the rate of change of CO2 being proportional to temperature anomaly, the absolute level of CO2 lags temperature 90 degrees in phase. Another reason why we must conclude that temperature is driving CO2, and not the other way around.

      • Wow.

        So, I look at the physical mechanisms proposed: CO2 being driven out of solution in water primarily? CO2 emission by plants and microbes? CO2 evolving from methane in the atmosphere in turn driven out of solution or emitted by animals and microbes? Have I missed any?

        And I look at the math involved and what the outcomes of such effects would appear like on a graph.. and I don’t see what you say must be the only relationship as the only contributor to CO2 levels.

        Sure, there’s some contraction of the rate of CO2 rise as temperature falls, but there isn’t outright reversal of the rise with temperature drop on any span of time longer than a half decade.

        Instead, in addition to the effects you propose, there is clear evidence human activity is causing CO2 rise, and in turn when we look at the mechanisms of the known GHE from lab measurement of the IR properties of GHGs leading to past warming, probably the majority of the warming of the past half century. You can keep pretending your math stands up, but it simply doesn’t pass muster.

      • Bart, you mean the GHG/AGW muster? Well of course it doesn’t pass that.

      • Edim | May 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm |

        I actually meant the same muster as 2+2=4, but whatever turns your crank.

      • “You can keep pretending your math stands up, but it simply doesn’t pass muster.”

        As I said, the evidence is pretty solid, but I hardly expect those invested in the alternative to pay any attention to, you know, evidence.

        Let’s try to keep it simple: the plot, which you can replicate on your own at the WoodforTrees site, shows that the only variable you need to predict CO2 level is temperature anomaly. The CO2 level lags temperature, which means the latter is forcing the former. You can deny it all you like, but the evidence is plain.

      • “…there is clear evidence human activity is causing CO2 rise…”

        Handwaving. Narrative formation. But, not solid evidence.

        “…we look at the mechanisms of the known GHE from lab measurement of the IR properties of GHGs …”

        Laboratory conditions, no active feedback mechanisms. Spherical cows.

      • And yet, the EE who dismisses lab results entirely in formulating their solutions, and cannot account for the missing influences except to suppose pronoiacly that Nature will sequester the bad bits for us, generally doesn’t get my return business.

      • Bart R | May 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm |

        I’m not blithely “dismissing” anything. You are.

      • I tend to agree with the equation, with some caveats …
        The damped response is about 3 PPM / degree C
        This precisely accounts for the seasonal variation in the Mauna Loa data and is really an outgassing term, of a few tenths of an electron volt activation energy. This models the yearly breathing of the CO2 signal, which is the sinusoidal “ripple” riding on top of the Mauna Loa plot.

        The confusion is that this doesn’t account for the large anthropogenic CO2 increase.

        I did all the math on this already. Bartemis is wrong on the significance of the result.

      • “The confusion is that this doesn’t account for the large anthropogenic CO2 increase.”

        Yes, it does. I really hate repeating myself.

      • “The damped response is about 3 PPM / degree C.”

        Nope .

      • “The damped response is about 3 PPM / degree C.”

        Nope .

        And, nope.

        Look, the data is right before your eyes. It’s all temperature based, since at least 1958. There is no way around it. Anthropogenic inputs are being rapidly sequestered. Otherwise, you would not have such a tight relationship between temperature and CO2 rate of change. The effect of anthropogenic inputs is net negligible.

      • Data are, of course. Stupid Latin plurals.

      • “Look, the data is right before your eyes.”

        That is well known and is simply an outgassing behavior. It doesn’t effect the general trend of anthropogenic CO2 increase, until the sea surface temperature increases considerably and then will contribute a significant albeit not overwhelming positive feedback to global warming.

        “Anthropogenic inputs are being rapidly sequestered. Otherwise, you would not have such a tight relationship between temperature and CO2 rate of change. The effect of anthropogenic inputs is net negligible.”

        Incorrect. I believe that Salby has made the same horrible mistake, which will come out in his paper, should it ever get published.

      • Bartemis | May 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm |

        Yours is a pretty neat trick.

        Here’s mine:

        Temperature rise leads outgassing. Drop in rate of CO2 growth leads drop in temperature. That’s some weird sequestering that predicts the future temperature and adjusts itself to match that value.

        And how does this sequestering term know that its sequestering human-sourced CO2, but ignore the outgassed variety? Does it differentiate based on isotope concentration? (Which could happen, one supposes.)

        On either side, whether outgassing due temperature leads CO2 or CO2 promotes temperature rise, we know there’s a CO2-temperature connection, we know CO2 is up, we know temperature is up, and we know human emission is up while human interruption in the carbon cycle’s uptake is also up. We can intelligently decide to reduce those last two, to slow somewhat the external forcing in the climate system — by your argument temperature from some mystery source, from mine the source requires one less assumption so satisfies Occam a bit better, but either way it amounts to the same in the outcome — and reduce risk levels.

        Why wouldn’t we behave the same in either scenario, and reduce CO2 emission and increase sequestration?

      • Interestingly (if this model is correct), it doesn’t require rising global temperature to cause rising CO2 – constant temperatures greater than T0 will cause rising CO2. At T = T0, CO2 will be constant. At T < T0, CO2 will decline.

      • Larger CO2 increases come in warmer years. This is known. It is likely because the warmer oceans are a less effective sink for manmade CO2, but the biosphere may play a part too. Skeptics have tried to use this to argue for an ocean/biosphere source, but of course the observed ocean acidification disproves that (how can the ocean be both gaining and losing CO2?). It is not cause for comfort that a warmer ocean can absorb less of the anthropogenic CO2.

      • The ocean is gaining CO2 – there’s no need to release any CO2 because the anthropogenic input directly into the atmosphere is more than enough to reach equilibrium so that extra CO2 is absorbed by the ocean.

      • The relationship is undeniable. To a very high degree of significance, the only>/i> variable you need to predict CO2 concentration is temperature.

      • Which is why the formula above is wrong in neglecting the k2 term.

      • Jim, what do you mean?
        dA/dt = f(T)

      • It is not neglecting the k2 term. It is saying what comes in from k2*H goes out relatively rapidly through the -A/tau term, and the k1*(T-To) term dominates.

        In words, the sinks, which have never been well characterized, are in fact powerful enough to rapidly sequester the human CO2 input, but the sensitivity to temperature is high enough to overcome the rapid sequestration.

        The evidence is right before your eyes.

      • I have been through this calculation before. k1 is 5 ppm per year per degree C. The average increase is 2 ppm and 0.02 C per year. Over decades you can see that k2 has to be quite large to account for the CO2 change because the k1 term alone only accounts for 5 ppm for each degree of change.

      • Edim, dA/dt=f(T)+k2*H
        The second term accounts for most of it.

      • Jim, that’s not what the evidence shows. It seems that the only variable you need to predict atmospheric CO2 is T.

      • “k1 is 5 ppm per year per degree C.”

        Based on year-to-year variation. But, that year-to-year variation is attenuated by the roll-off of the low pass response due to tau. Your calculation is deficient.

        “…you can see that k2 has to be quite large to account for the CO2 change …”

        It doesn’t work. If that were the case, the CO2 rate of change would not be effectively proportional to the temperature anomaly.

      • No, this is about the rate of change of CO2 and a large constant part independent of T cannot be neglected.

      • “…a large constant part independent of T cannot be neglected.”

        (Sigh) Yes, it can, if the dynamics of sequestration are powerful. This is a feedback system. Climate scientists do not have a very firm grasp of feedback systems. They really need some EE’s working with them.

      • Bartemis, put your numbers in, and we can discuss them. dA/dt is currently about 2 ppm/yr. How much is your T term accounting for? What are k1 and T0? Interannual variability gives k1 as I said above which is much too small. If you want to ignore interannual variability,and just use decadal trends, you can get k1 of 100 ppm/degree/year. Is that what you advocate? It gets cause and effect backwards and is equivalent to 2.8 degrees per doubling.

      • “…put your numbers in…”

        The model isn’t at a sufficiently mature stage to do that. As I noted, tau and k1 and k2 can be operator theoretic, allowing a wide range of possible configurations and responses. At this point, the major use of the model is qualitative – it explains how we can have a situation whereby the anthropogenic inputs have a net negligible effect, and the CO2 rate of change is approximately proportional to temperature anomaly.

        Qualtitatively speaking, the sinks, which have never been well characterized, are in fact powerful enough to rapidly sequester the human CO2 input, but the sensitivity to temperature is high enough to overcome the rapid sequestration.

        The bottom line is, temperature is the only variable you need to be able to predict CO2 concentration now, in the recent past, and for the foreseeable future.

      • “Interannual variability gives k1 as I said above which is much too small. “

        Again, you are assuming the dc gain is the same as the gain at relatively high frequency. For example, if tau is taken as a constant, then the transfer function from H to A is

        H/A = k1/sqrt( omega^2+1/tau^2)

        If we compare the dc response to the 1-year response, the ratio is

        r = sqrt( (tau*omega)^2+1)

        where omega = 2pi radians per year. So, we can easily determine a tau such that the dc response is 5, 10, or 100 times the yearly response.

        With tau operator theoretic, the roll-off can be even faster. There are easily configurations which can be hypothesized which will boost the dc gain to the required level.

      • Should have said:

        “…the transfer function from H to A is

        A/H = k1/sqrt( omega^2+1/tau^2)

      • And, I should have specifically stated the transfer function magnitude response.

      • Jim some numbers from the observations:

        dA = k1*Ta, (Ta = T – To)

        Using Mauna Loa dA in ppm and global temperature (?) in K, I get:

        dA = 2*Ta + 1.2
        dA = 0 = 2*Ta0 + 1.2
        Ta0 = -1.2/2 = -0.6 K (at -0.6 K Ta, CO2 is constant)

        dA0 =2*0 + 1.2 = 1.2 ppm/year (at zero Ta dA is 1.2 ppm/year)

      • Edim | May 13, 2012 at 3:22 pm |

        Certainly, feel free to try out some numbers assuming constants in the equation. But, be aware that we are not limited to constant values, and you may not be able to get numbers which work with all the reliable observations. But, that would not invalidate the model.

        The main thing to take away at this stage is what the data indicate the qualitative characteristics of the system must be:

        Qualtitatively speaking, the sinks, which have never been well characterized, are in fact powerful enough to rapidly sequester the human CO2 input, but the sensitivity to temperature is high enough to overcome the rapid sequestration.

        I suspect, in fact, that the best model will be second order, which can be fit into the model framework substituting appropriate operators for tau, k1, and k2. But, that is TBD.

      • Oh, BTW, here is an interesting fact: the relationship holds much more tightly for GISTEMP than it does for Hadley 3, and more closely for HADLEY 4 than HADLEY 3.

      • A more defendable formula is
        which is almost the same as yours but represents the anthropogenic source as the k2 term and the sink as the k1 term, with the sink becoming less effective as the temperature increases. We know k2*H is about 4ppm/yr from fossil fuel burning and dA/dt is currently 2ppm/yr, and k1 is 5 ppm/yr/K, so
        You can put in a current T and get To.
        This probably only applies for short ranges of time as the actual process is not so linear. A decade later if T rises by 0.2, To-T=0.2 and dA/dt=3 as long as k2*H stays at 4. I don’t think we expect this kind of acceleration, but it comes if we assume the sink constant k1 derived from the interannual variation also applies to long-term trends in T.

      • And, as may be expected, even closer to HADSST2, as I pointed out some time back:

      • “A more defendable formula is dA/dt=k2*H-k1*(To-T)”

        You’d have to put a plus sign on k1, or you get positive feedback. Kablooey. Not very defensible.

        “…but it comes if we assume the sink constant k1 derived from the interannual variation also applies…”

        It’s like talking to a wall.

      • Bartemis, you seem to be confused. The formula explains how emissions by man and absorption by nature oppose each other. What other terms do you want to add? Absorption by nature depends on temperature in a very clear way as seen in your own data. If you want to talk about positive feedback, you have to make temperature a function of CO2 which is a completely different subject, but it can be done crudely to get 2.8 degrees per doubling as I showed earlier (Girma and DocMartyn showed at least 2 degrees too by this method and they are skeptics!).

      • Bartemis – to put some perspective on the warmist claims, put linear tread in place of normalization, the consider the proposition that this small increase in CO2 has caused this huge increase in SST.

      • “Bartemis, you seem to be confused.”

        Not I. If your differential equation is positively proportional to T, and T is necessarily, by the AGW hypothesis, positively correlated with CO2, then you’ve got positive feedback. Kablooey.

        Even if you correct this flaw, it would be necessary for your k2 to be very small, because the temperature dependent term accounts for nearly all of the behavior since at least 1958, and there is no room for the steadily increasing “H” term to come in.

      • Bart(emis), your own mechanism has not just a positive feedback, but a runaway positive feedback. If the ocean is outgassing CO2 as it gets warmer, and CO2 warms the atmosphere and ocean causing more outgassing, there is no stopping it. In reality, luckily, the CO2 in the atmosphere is controlled by Man and not the ocean, which absorbs it. When we stop emitting, it will stop warming.

      • jim2 | May 13, 2012 at 5:47 pm |

        Accumulated over years, it could be plausible. The problem for the claim that CO2 is driving temperature is the data show that the the rate of change of CO2 is affinely related to the temperature anomaly, i.e., is proportional to the temperature anomaly with respect to an appropriately chosen baseline. That means temperature would have to be responding to the rate of change of CO2, i.e., temperature would be anticipating the change in the CO2 level, and would be the same in the steady state if CO2 were a steady 100 ppm or 500 ppm or 10,000 ppm. This, obviously, is a causal and logical absurdity. Ergo, CO2 is responding to temperature anomaly.

      • Jim D | May 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm |

        “Bart(emis), your own mechanism has not just a positive feedback, but a runaway positive feedback.”

        Don’t be ridiculous. I have an explicit negative feedback term -A/tau which dominates.

      • Furthermore, it is not my contention that CO2 causes significant warming.

      • “Bart” is I in the preceding posts. I embellished the name ’cause there are too many “Barts” at this site.

      • Bartemis, You are confused in that you are applying almost correct equations but interpreting them wrong.

        A couple of Wolfram Alpha models for the phased response of [CO2] from a forcing temperature with gain of 3, and an anthropogenic [CO2] ramp included:

        First-order response:
        x + (1/30) dx/dt = 3*cos(2*pi*t) + 2*t

        This is your equation parameterized and it generates this:

        Phase relation from the solution of the above (x-axis temperature forcing, y axis CO2 response):
        plot cos(2 pi t) and (675 pi sin(2 pi t)+10125 cos(2 pi t))/(15 (225+pi^2))

        The value of the normalized time constant (in this case 1/30) sets the width of the slanted ellipse. The smaller that value is, the narrower the ellipse becomes, and the more the temperature and CO2 get in sync.

        This is actual data from Mauna Loa and equatorial SST

        This is a scaled version of an iterated Eureqa fit to the seasonal average of both [CO2} and SST over many years

        This is the phase plot between the two where the gain of 3 is apparent:

        One of Keeling’s students, Tegan Blaine, did work in this area a few years ago.
        Blaine concentrated on looking at outgassing Argon instead of CO2 to eliminated biotic effects.

        I have the advantage of not working on a thesis and doing what I want, so I just fit the CO2.

      • You have terms with CO2 both coming out of the ocean and going into it. Which dominates, and, after so many steady centuries, why has the ocean suddenly gone into this accelerating outgassing mode, coincidentally with man’s emissions.

      • It is especially confusing with 2 Barts and 2 Jims on the same thread.

      • And, the thread is getting unwieldy. Continued here.

      • Jim D said:

        “It is especially confusing with 2 Barts and 2 Jims on the same thread.”

        Well, all I know is that you and Bart R are correct and the Bizarro Jerry’s are off-base.

      • “Well, all I know is that you and Bart R are correct and the Bizarro Jerry’s are off-base.”

        Well, that’s put me in my place. I advise you to drop the class.

      • What is being said about this relationship is basically nonsense. First, the large increasing trend in [CO2] is eliminated by differentiating the smoothed [CO2] record from Mauna Loa. Without differentiation the graph would have shown a roughly 70 ppm rise from 1959 to today, roughly 1.4 ppm per year, more than an order of magnitude MORE than the rate of variation in d[CO2]/dT shown(watch out for that scale factor of 5).

        So Bartemis first eliminates the rise in [CO2] driven by greenhouse gas emissions and then claims that he has shown that greenhouse gas emissions have nothing to do with the case. If the claim is that temperature drives [CO2] and that is captured in Bartemis’ graph, what drove the 70 ppm rise? Major fail there.

        Second, by averaging [CO2] over a two year period, Bartemis eliminates the natural greening cycle found in the ML record. This is an annual variation of 20 ppm per year. This is stronger the further north you go and weaker the further south you go, basically zero in Antartica. You can see examples of this at the Carbon Dioxide Information Center.

        So, dear Bunnies, let us ask what that curve at WFT is? Notice that it is an INCREASE in CO2, since Bartemis has differentiated out the large increase in CO2, what is left is the nonlinear part of that increase. It represents one of two things. First, perhaps an increase in the amount decay of plant matter or emissions from the oceans driven by higher temperatures or, more worrying, second, a decrease in the ability of the oceans to absorb CO2. Since less CO2 can be absorbed in the tropics in El Nino years, this might be more likely, although plotting against NPP might be useful

        Bah humbug.

      • Eli, Bartemis does not eliminate the rise, he is showing it directly! He plots the RISE on the y-axis and the respective year on the x-axis!

        But if you don’t like his graph, you can get the official annual CO2 change (ML or world) from NOAA (only 50 data points) and compare it to a global temperature anomaly (any will do). Then if you plot dCO2 vs Ta, you will get something like (depending on the base period):
        dCO2 ~ 2*Ta +1.2 (r2 ~ 0.6)

        Total CO2 rise (since 1959) is exactly the sum of all annual increments, there’s no other component:
        dCO2tot = sum(dCO2i) = ~75 ppm (since 1959)

      • The Edim says that CO2 changes by 2*Ta which puts it about 2 PPM.
        What a laughable assertion. It has changed by 100 PPM.

      • Web, can you read?

      • Edim, You evidently don’t understand response functions.

        The earth’s average temperature has only changed by a degree or two, yet Edim thinks that small change is responsible for a 100 PPM increase in CO2.

        Mathematically, Edim thinks that this small change in temperature accumulates over time so that it turns into an integral expression. So that a 1 degree change is roughly multiplied by the number of years that the temperature anomaly is in effect.

        I understand exactly what you are implying but I don’t think it can be anywhere near 100 PPM. I actually wrote a blog post about this last year and could never figure out how a 1 degree cumulative change could result in a 100 PPM change in atmospheric CO2.

        Paleoclimate changes of 10 degrees only existed within a 100 PPM spread in CO2.

      • Web, I simply find it very remarkable that the annual change in atmospheric CO2 correlates so well with global temperature anomalies, at least since ~1960. When I plot dCO2 vs Ta, I get approx. (assuming linear):
        dCO2 = 2*Ta + 1.2 (at Ta = 0.4, dCO2 = 2 ppm, Ta is HADCRUT3, dCO2 is ML).

        This means that it doesn’t take a temperature rise to cause a rise in CO2 – any constant temperature anomaly greater than -0.6 (dCO2 = -1.2 + 1.2 = 0) will result in positive CO2 annual change. At Ta < -0.6, atmosheric CO2 will start declining, according to the relation. I'm not saying with certainty that this relation holds always, but it has since ~1960. So I predict that when the temperature anomaly drops to ~zero, the annual change will be ~1.2 ppm/year. Furthermore, I predict zero temperature anomaly by 2020 at the latest. That's all.

      • The answer is quite simple, Kate discusses it here, once you take into account the response of the system to increasing CO2, the total increase in temperature follows the cumulative increase in CO2 directly.

      • Eli Rabett:

        Like many with interests in climatology, you and Kate seem unaware of the significance of a statistical population for an inquiry when this inquiry is “scientific” in nature. A sample drawn from this population provides the sole basis for the statistical testing of whatever generalizations are generated by this inquiry. Absent this statistical population and sample, generalizations such as Kate’s conclusion that “…if you draw a graph of the total amount of warming vs. total CO2 emitted, it will be a straight line…” cannot be tested. it follows that these generalizations lie outside science, by the definition of “science.”

      • “However, as carbon dioxide builds up and the climate warms, carbon sinks (which suck up some of our emissions) become less effective. For example, warmer ocean water can’t hold as much CO2, and trees subjected to heat stress often die and stop photosynthesizing. Processes that absorb CO2 become less effective, so more of our emissions actually stay in the air. Consequently, the graph of CO2 concentrations vs. CO2 emissions is exponential.”

        Nature’s phenomena disagree. The airborn fraction is not increasing. In fact, it’s started decreasing since the climate parameters plateaued. Nature will always disagree with cargo cult science in the end.

      • Edim, just to check, you do know what ppm means?

      • Terry, you don’t do pompous very well. The alternative is scary.

      • Eli Rabett:

        I’m having trouble relating your response to my message. Do you have the wrong person?

      • Eli, let me google it…

      • Typical warmist’s handwaving. The airborn fraction is not increasing and it started decreasing significantly since ~1995. The divergence will increase.

      • “Typical warmist’s handwaving. The airborn fraction is not increasing and it started decreasing significantly since ~1995. The divergence will increase.”

        Assertions don’t cut it. One can always tell a scientific poseur over time, as they will never lift a finger to create any kind of graph or anything tangible to substantiate their claim.

        Since x=Year-1980
        [CO2] = 336.6 + 1.684*x + 3.04*sin(5.913 + 2*π*x)

      • Eli Rabett (May 22, 2012 at 7:49 pm):

        By the way, can you cite a description of the statistical population or populations underlying the claims of the climate models that are referenced by Working Group 1 in AR4? I don’t believe there is one.

      • Web,

        1997.5 51.5
        1998.5 74.5
        1999.5 35.3
        2000.5 32.2
        2001.5 48.0
        2002.5 63.6
        2003.5 55.3
        2004.5 38.1
        2005.5 56.3
        2006.5 40.6
        2007.5 47.4
        2008.5 39.6
        2009.5 36.4
        2010.5 50.0
        averag. 47.8

        Linear trend of -8 percent points per decade (14 years).
        Data here:

        One could of course get some slightly different data (significant source of uncertainty in land use change emissions…) and the overall trend since ~1960 might be positive, however not sure if statistically significant. The point is, in a cooling world the airborn fraction will decrease and it’s been decreasing for ~14 years.

      • Two whoppers. Wee olooo

        Edem, the airborne fraction of CO2 is given by part per million. That tell you how many CO2 molecules there are in a given volume of air. The mixing ratio has increased from below 360 ppm in 1995 to above 390 today. Someone has been feeding you nonsense

        Terry, you are asking a meaningless question when you ask for “the statistical population or populations underlying the claims of the climate models that are referenced by Working Group 1 in AR4? “.

        GCMs are first principle models, with inputs taken from data and economic and physical models of the various forcings. For hindcasting they use observed forcings, the measurements of which are described and available from many sources. For forecasting they use multiple scenarios that have been built to match a variety of economic and physical conditions by people who know what they are talking about.

        For evaluation they compare the results of multiple runs both with the same model and between models (often called experiments) under each of the future emission scenarios. This comparison extends far beyond temperature anomalies. You can find the results of these experiments for the AR4 @

      • Eli, you’re wrong. The mixing ratio or atmospheric CO2 content (concentration) in ppm is not AF. “The airborne fraction, AF, is defined as the fraction of anthropogenic carbon emissions which remain in the atmosphere after natural processes have absorbed some of them.”

        Read the links!

      • Again:

        AF = dCO2/E

        It’s the airborn fraction of the human emissions.

      • Eli Rabett (May 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm):

        I gather that you concede the non-existence of a population for the climate models. As I’m about to show, in doing so you’ve conceded that the IPCC’s inquiry into global warming did not have a scientific methdology.

        By definition, a “prediction” is an extrapolation from an observed state to an unobserved but observable state. Conventionally, a state of the latter type is called an “outcome.”

        Together, the two states provide a description of a statistical event. The complete set of statistically independent events is an example of a “statistical population.” Regardless of whether or not a model was built from first principles, a sample drawn from a statistical population provides the sole potential basis for falsifying the model. In conceding (apparently) that there is no population you have conceded that the models are not falsifiable. It follows from a principle in the philosophy of science that the methodology of the IPCC’s inquiry into global warming was not a scientific one.

        The potential for an IPCC-style “evaluation” does not satisfy falsifiability. If you wish, I will tutor you on why this is so.

      • Edim, you are a bizarre cherry-picker of data. The land sink fluctuates wildly and occasionally goes negative.

        If you were a real scientist, you would question these numbers instead of using them to advance your own hidden agenda.

      • Web, that’s laughable and you know it. The airborne fraction has been decreasing (for ~14 years at least). The annual change in atmospheric CO2 is closely following global temperature ‘anomalies’. You have to agree.

        My hidden agenda is science and scientific scepticism. I also agree (politically) with the leaker/hacker (FOIA) when (s)he says:

        “Over 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day.”
        “Every day nearly 16.000 children die from hunger and related causes.”
        “One dollar can save a life — the opposite must also be true.”
        “Poverty is a death sentence.”
        “Today’s decisions should be based on all the information we can get, not on hiding the decline.”

      • Edim, you are such a poseur. You can’t even graph your little set of data to show the actual trends.

        That noisy curve is showing that about half the CO2 is staying in the atmosphere.

        The trend line says it is going up. All the measurements of CO2 agree with the curve, but those measurements are less noisy because they are not based on estimates, but actual data.

        So continue to play your little game.

  11. Steven Mosher

    I think you misunderstand the definition.

    You increase C02 at 1% per year until you reach a doubling.
    At the time of doubling ( 70 years) you will have a temperature
    increase deltaC. your forcing will have increased by 3.7W
    and the transient ( near term) effect that has on temp is roughly 1.3C
    over time that response will increase to roughly 3C.

    TCR is a stipulated definition. One could also define a response to a
    step input. From a baseline double C02. add 3.7W at once and then
    watch the response.

    • “the transient ( near term) effect that has on temp is roughly 1.3C
      over time that response will increase to roughly 3C”

      This bit I never get. The thing is you are comparing apples and quantum black holes.
      You seem to think that the annual average of daily ((min+max/2)) is a unit of energy, it isn’t. If we oscillate a hot plate between two currents in a sine-wave, we get a steady state temperature profile that follows the same wave.
      Now you can call the ((min+max/2)) the average if you want, go on, this is climate science.
      Now increase the current by 15% at temp = min, and watch 2-3 oscillations. You will find a difference between the first cycle and the second, but nothing between the second and third.
      This is an open system, you put energy in and energy goes out, at any level of energy input the energy output will be the same, and the system will be at steady state. In an oscillating system, where the daily max-min is on AVERAGE about 10°C, 365 days per year, you will see nothing. This is ignoring the 6.5% change in the annual change in light flux due to the Earths orbit.

      • Doc, if the Tmax is 280K and the Tmin 260K the average would be 270K but if you average the flux variation, the average temperature based on the average flux would be 270.55K.

        For the global average temperature over land versus oceans, if the land is 273K and the oceans 294K The average would be 287.7K. Using flux, the average temperature would be 288.17K

        The error varies with the temperature range fairly significantly, but just using (Tmax +Tmin)/2 you could get a good ballpark, but there is a non-linearity build into every temperature reference and proxy.

      • Steven Mosher

        Doc Its pretty Damn simple.

        The input to the earth system is Watts. Watts from the sun.

        If you increase the forcing in watts, what do you see as a response in Temperature.

        Increase the sun 1 Watt. do you expect the temperature to go up or down?
        Decrease the sun 1 watt. do you expect the temperature to go up or down.

        If I can get to to undertand that more solar forcing will lead to higher temps then we are one step down the road.

        Next. If you increase the input 1 watt do you understand that there will be some parts of the system that react immediately ( transients) and other parts of the system that will take longer to respond. ?

        lets start with that

      • “If you increase the forcing in watts, what do you see as a response in Temperature.”
        Every year the sun is delivering a varying watts depending how closer the orbit is to Sun-
        “The actual direct solar irradiance at the top of the atmosphere fluctuates by about 6.9% during a year (from 1.412 kW/m² in early January to 1.321 kW/m² in early July) due to the Earth’s varying distance from the Sun”
        At fall and spring it’s receiving around 1360 watts- adds 50 watts per square meter- at top of atmosphere, going thru the atmosphere can significant losses of that increase, though at noon the loss is only about 15 watts per square [increase or decrease of 35 watts every year globally.
        So if solar constant was increase by 1 watt, one get more than 1 watt increase in january [say per +2 watts] and little less 1 watt in July].

        One might be able to measure the increase in temperature caused by sun increase by 1 watt. But it would require careful measurement over long period so that signal could emerge from the noise. You should get slightly better than a .0025 % increase in solar energy production.

      • Mosher: “Increase the sun 1 Watt. do you expect the temperature to go up or down?”

        If TSI goes up 2 watts since 1900 (and 3 watts since 1810) what is the lag time before there is a response, how much did the temperature go up and when?

      • There is an inflection point up in sea level at 1850. I need to find that chart.

      • jim2, February, March, April 1878 had a huge warm spike.

        Feb/Mar 1878 ( and probably Apr) were warmer or as warm as Feb/Mar 2011 and 2012.

        It appears in the top graph from tide gauges here:

      • Here is that video. (H/T to Bart.) Notice the inflection up in 1850. I bettin’ that’s due to horse flatulence!

      • Mosher: “Increase the sun 1 Watt. do you expect the temperature to go up or down?”

        Depends on the clouds (as Judy Collins sang to us many years ago).


      • Steven Mosher

        of course it depends upon clouds. However, I’m asking about a NET INCREASE.

        if the sun dropped by 1 watt ( oh say for 100 years ) do you actually believe that its reasonable to expect the temperature to go up?

        If you found that during the LIA the suns output was down by 1 Watt
        would you argue… “wait what about the clouds over that entire period”

        No. you’d point at the drop in TSI and grunt “Sun”

      • BaitedBreath

        Mosher> If I can get to to undertand that more solar forcing will lead to higher temps then we are one step down the road.

        All else being equal, esp any negative feedbacks.

      • Steven Mosher

        so, during the LIA you know that sunspots were at a minimum.
        and you know that with fewer sunspots TSI goes down.

        So TSI went down and the temperatures were lower.

        care to say anything about feedbacks?

    • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

      Steven Mosher: At the time of doubling ( 70 years) you will have a temperature increase deltaC. your forcing will have increased by 3.7W

      You are presuming known that which is unknown and much debated: deltaC.

      • Steven Mosher

        No. Two things. 3.7Watts per doubling is established science.
        We engineer things that work based on the physics involved.

        the QUESTION is what sensitivity do you apply to the WATTS
        to get a final C.

        Also, I’m just explaining the definitions. Perhaps you should do some reading

      • steven mosher

        3.7Watts per doubling is established science

        Let’s say it is “generally accepted science” (although it has not been verified by empirical data based on actual physical observations).

        It translates into a theoretical 2xCO2 temperature response of around 1 deg C

        Anything above this is hype based on postulated net positive feedbacks.


      • “steven mosher

        3.7Watts per doubling is established science

        Let’s say it is “generally accepted science” (although it has not been verified by empirical data based on actual physical observations).”

        I wonder about theory, is the 3.7Watts suppose be uniform.
        Are polar region getting the same 3.7 watts as the equator.
        Are nights getting same amount as day. Are oceans getting 3.7 watts as well as land areas?

  12. Yet again, James Hansen and his colleagues have done what no climate change skeptic are cognitively able to do: specify the odds of climate change.

    Here “specify the odds” means “fill in the blanks on on a proposition-with-odds template for the year 2100.

    For example, here is a climate tote-board template that uses American-style decimal odds):

    Sea-Level Tote-Board for the Year 2100

    • Rise of 0 meter (or greater): ____/____ (decimal) odds
    • Rise of 1 meter (or greater): ____/____ odds;
    • Rise of 2 meter (or greater): ____/____ odds;
    • Rise of 3 meter (or greater): ____/____ odds;
    • Rise of 4 meter (or greater): ____/____ odds;
    • Rise of 5 meter (or greater): ____/____ odds;
    • Over-under: ____________ meters rise in the year 2100.
    Rule 1: “7/5 odds” means this, a bet of 5 receives a payout of 7, for a net better’s profit of 2.

    Rule 2: The book accepts bets in either direction. Example proposition-with-odds: “Rise of 1 meter (or greater): 7/5 odds” means the book accepts bets of 5-to-win-7 that the sea-level rise is 1 meter (or greater), or with equal willingness, the book accepts bets of 2-to-win-7 — that is, 7/2 decimal odds — that the sea-level rise is less than one meter.

    Rule 3: In the real world of bookmaking, the book exacts a fixed percentage on the payout, such that by accepting bets on either side of the proposition, profits are guaranteed (here we’re ignoring that bookie’s ‘cut’).

    The striking incapacity of the skeptical community to specify odds — even as rough estimates — has led to a growing appreciation that (1) most skeptics are incapable of doing so, and therefore (2) they embrace a “race to the bottom” with Manson/Kaczynski smears … because they have nothing better to offer.

    • Joy Black
      See above for skeptics’ quantitative evaluations of climate sensitivity.
      With IPCC mean model projections being warm outside 2 sigma of actual 30 year temperature trend indicates a bookmakers dream to offer 2:1 for trends of ~ 0.135 C/decade below IPCC’s predictions and be very confident of winning – 30 years from now. That suggests about 15 cm (6″) rise in sea level over 100 years. (Not a big deal).
      Contrast Lloyds of London’s warning of global fuel shortages in the 2012 to 2015 time frame. Sustainable Energy Security – 360 Risk Insight That is a very big deal which will critically impact economies in the very near future – especially oil importing countries.

      The striking incapacity of the catastrophic global warming community to recognize the very real consequences of todays inexorable 5%-6%/year depletion of existing oil fields is astounding. Where are you going to come up with another 6-7 Saudi Arabia’s to provide the needed 65 million bbl/day by 2030 to replace current depletion and even 1%/yr growth?
      See Robert Hirsch The Impending World Energy Mess. See ASPO-US A’s, Nov. 2011 conference presentations especially by Hirsch, and by Brown. Climate alarms are insignificant compared to the very near term impacts of fuel shortages.

    • Norm Kalmanovitch

      What are the odds that a 57.1% increase in CO2 emissions in the past three decades produced a detectable enhancement of the greenhouse effect?
      Answer zero!
      What are the odds that the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration from 336.78ppmv in 1979 to 391.57ppmv by 2011 produced detectable forcing?
      Answer zero!
      Since there is no detectable forcing from increased CO2 in 31 years of satellite measurement of OLR the horse is not even in the race and only a fool would give 7 to 2 odds on a horse that is not even running!
      Scientific skepticism – a scientific, or practical, position in which one questions the veracity of claims, and seeks to prove or disprove them using the scientific method.
      Call me a skeptic and I take it as a compliment!

      • Norm, don’t know where you get your facts from but you might want to send them back for a full refund!

      • Norm

        It’s even worse.

        Since 1998 (or possibly 2000) the “horse” is limping in the WRONG DIRECTION

        Even the Vegas guys would drop this one like a hot potato!


    • Joy, no matter what, Hansen will adjust the data to match his predictions.

    • Joy, at some point you might consider that wagering on ignorance is the mark of insanity. Ignorance and uncertainty are two different things. Hansen does not believe in ignorance, so he bets on a false uncertainty.

      • David

        Hansen does not believe in ignorance, so he bets on a false uncertainty.

        Well, David, I don’t know that this is 100% correct.

        Hansen DOES “believe in ignorance” – in fact he RELIES on people being ignorant enough to fall for his exaggerated projections, which never materialize, and then being ignorant enough to have forgotten them when they turn out to be dead wrong.


    • Joy Black
      Compare James Hansen’s actual 1988 predictions against the subsequent historical temperature record to date:
      A Blast From The Past: James Hansen on ‘The Global Warming Debate’ from 13 years ago

      Now it looks like Dr. Hansen’s Scenario C global temperature forecast that he presented to the United States Senate in 1988 was amazingly accurate, according to the satellite-derived global temperature record. That is truly a remarkable achievement. So now let’s employ a bit of faulty logic that is similar to that which is routinely applied by AGW proponents: “The observational data fit the model, so the model must be accurate”. Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions must have ceased in the year 2000. And I missed it. Rats.

      PS note Hansen’s observation:

      “Skepticism thus plays an essential role in scientific research, and, far from trying to silence skeptics, science invites their contributions. So too, the global warming debate benefits from traditional scientific skepticism”.

    • Michael Hart

      Joy, I would be more interested in Hansen et al betting some of their own money on their own odds.
      Put another way, what kind of cars do bookmakers drive? “Better than mine” is the usual answer.

      • Do we let bookmakers score the boxing match too? And adjust the score:

        Lets see in round 1934 Boxer A scored a 5 but we need Boxer A to lose so lets adjust round 1934 downwards multiple times depending on how Boxer B is doing …

    • Joy,
      Tossing numbers against the wall is not making valid odds.
      But it is clear that betting is something you do not understand, just as you do not understand aviation.

    • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

      Joy Black: Yet again, James Hansen and his colleagues have done what no climate change skeptic are cognitively able to do: specify the odds of climate change.

      That’s one way to put it. When you specifically claim that there is insufficient knowledge to justify computing odds, the logically justifiable action is not to compute odds. However, there are lots of skeptics who are skeptical for diverse reasons. And there are many ways to substitute guesses for unknown quantities. For example, if I put the odds for a transient climate response to a doubling of CO2 over 70 years to be 0C and 1.3C at 9:1, and then fit a distribution to smooth those values, then I could calculate odds for a great range of outcomes. These odds would be worth as much as James Hansen’s odds.

  13. Mydogsgotnonose

    The groupthink here is amazing!

    The assumption of direct thermalisation is incorrect – it’s mostly indirect at aerosols. This comes from basic statistical thermodynamics as warned of by Will Happer in 1993.

    The real recent GW has been from the melt part of the 70 year Arctic cycle, itself the result of a biofeedback process now ending:

  14. Norm Kalmanovitch

    In order to have a scientifically verifiable climate sensitivity to CO2 forcing you first have to have a scientifically verifiable CO2 forcing.
    The atmospheric CO2 concentration increased from about 300ppmv in 1910 to about 310ppmv by 1942 as the global temperature increased by about 0.4°C. According to Hansen’s “Holocene initial conditions is 3 ± 0.5°C for 4 W/m2 CO2 forcing (68% probability)” 3°C/4W/m^2 or 0.75°C/W/m^2 the 0.4°C increase would have resulted from CO2 forcing of 0.4/0.75= 0.53W/m^2 of forcing from the 300ppmv to 310ppmv CO2 concentration increase.
    From 1942 to 1975 tyhe concentration increased from about 310ppmv to 330ppmv; but double the increase in CO2 concentration resulted in a net decrease in global temperature of over 0.1°C.
    -0.1/0.75 to use Hansen’s proclaimed sensitivity results in negative forcing from the 20ppmv CO2 increase of -0.1/0.75 = -0.13W/m^2.
    If a 10ppmv increase results in positive CO2 forcing of 0.53W/m^2 but a 20ppmv increase results in negative forcing of 0.13W/m^2 there is clearly no scientifically verifiable forcing on which to base climate sensitivity.
    In his 1981 paper the output for a doubling of CO2 from 300ppmv to 600 ppmv in Hansen’s model number 4 produces warming of 2.78°C
    Using Hansens claimed 0.75°C for each watt/m^2 results in CO2 forcing of 3.71W/m^2 for a doubling of CO2.
    Is it just a coincidence that
    5.35ln(2) = 3.71 which is exactly the same 5.35ln(2) = 3.71 that comes from Mehre (1997) published 16 years later or was this a fabrication of Hansen that was simply adopted by Mehre and the IPCC in time for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change!
    Regardless of when or who fabricated this CO2 forcing parameter; the parameter is clearly a fabrication that is not consistant with either the cooling from 1942 to 1975 or the present day cooling that started in 2002 as CO2 increase by 20ppmv over the last decade. Since there is no scientific justification for the CO2 forcing parameter used in the climate models; there is no possible justification for the output from these models.
    Until there is scientific justification of the CO2 forcing parameter anything based on computer model outputs using a CO2 forcing parameter that is proven to be false is also proven to be false; and since the only justification for AGW is the outpit from these climate models driven by a false CO2 forcing parameter; AGW is also proven false.
    There is no climate sensitivity factor that can produce both negative and positive temperature changes from forcing that is only positive so this whole argument about climate sensitivity is nothing more than an exercize in theoretical fantasy!

    • Bravo Norm, exactly. Sensitivity is a distraction. If one looks at the slope of warming from 1910 to 1940 and from 1970 to 2000 you can easily see it is almost identical. AGW advocates have to jump thru hoops to try and explain this, warm sun cold sun, aresols, etc,

  15. As the equilibrium temperature is not an observable, when it is asserted that the equilibrium climate sensitivity has this or that numerical value this assertion is not falsifiable thus lying outside science.

    • You make a good point, but the equilibrium response can be estimated ever more accurately through paleoclimate studies. By looking at what the Earth did in the past for any change in forcing, we can come closer to estimating what it might do in the future. It is true that other variables and other forcings are also changing, and thus, no two periods in time are ever exactly the same. However, but looking at a range of past periods in time with similar CO2 levels, and analyzing multiple variables during each range, we can start to form a pretty good picture of the planet’s equilibrium response to a given set of forcings. I actually think using both paleoclimate data and global climate models can begin to really constraint the uncertainty for what an equilibrium response will be for any given forcing.

      • Rob Starkey

        R Gates-

        You believe the paleoclimate records are reliable to determine what precisely, within what margin of error? I think you are vastly over estimating the quality of much of the estimates.

      • Rob, besides the large uncertainties in forcings, the large uncertainties in temperature change, the almost complete lack of knowledge on how energy transport changed, and the idea that it seems unlikely climate sensitivity is a constant instead of a variable; what possible objections could you have to using paleo data to constrain climate sensitivity?

      • Unknown and abrupt change in Earth albedo. I am inclined to think that assuming this is roughly constant may not be justifiable from first principles.

      • Rob Starkey

        I am not stating that the paleoclimate record is without meaning, but it is not sufficient for what he is trying to use it to determine.

        Imo people that reference these records overwhelmingly seem to ignore the potential errors in the data throughout the chain of information. R. Gates is not alone in this from the peer reviewed papers I have read.

        If R Gates or anyone else believes that the record is of such quality that they can be used to determine equilibrium response, they should have considered and state what they are claiming the relative accuracy of each of the data sets to be throughout the chain of evidence. When you do that the claims seem to fall away as the cumulative error rate climbs unacceptably high to makes such a claim with a reasonable probability of accuracy.

      • Rob, the Paleo records are very useful IF you consider the margin of error.

        The Nuekum et al Southern South American reconstruction which extends all the way to 1995 without being chopped off because someone thinks that divergence is unsightly, is pretty neat. It seems to have responses to common events in 1350, 1400, 1816 and 1900 and would have a fairly large sst influence. The HADSST2 series matches fairly well after adjusting to a 1850 to 1995 mean and there is enough difference to remind most folks that neither one is an ideal representation of the globe.

        Dr. Gates is not a big fan of the Little Ice Age recovery meme, but the chart pretty well shows why it is a concern to so many. If the OHC recovery from the LIA is a factor, then as the OHC approaches what may be normal, the energy imbalance will decrease. Which is pretty much what appears to be happening.

      • Rob Starkey

        You post an interesting plot. I have a few thoughts/questions.

        Why did the plot end in 1995?
        In the reference plots what was the source information for the plots?
        Was the data collection method the same pre 1850 and post 1850?
        I tend to be more skeptical of data that shows such a consistent margin of error over such a long timescale. Logically, the margin of error should be a function of the specific process used. It seems highly unlikely to have been the same data collection process throughout the timeframe shown.

      • Rob,

        There is the link to the paleo reconstruction. It is not clear to me why it ended in 1995 and I would be interested in seeing an extension of the reconstruction. Of the newer reconstructions I have seen it had more current data, that is why I selected that particular proxy. The link has more details on their methods and conclusions.

        I am pretty comfortable with their margin of error after comparing their reconstruction to a couple of others, but still am more concerned with the mean of their reconstruction than the maximum and minimum values. The mean of the HADSST2 was below the mean of their reconstruction which should indicate some LIA recovery.

      • Rob Starkey

        I took a quick look at the paper and still have a few questions.

        The data are for reconstructions for southern South America. Is that representative of the planet overall?

        The paper described the three different reconstruction techniques:
        1. multivariate principal component regression,
        2. composite plus scaling, and
        3. regularized expectation maximization.
        It stated that they authors believed there is generally good agreement between the results of the three methods on interannual and decadal timescales but that seems doubtful. I did not actually review the methods because I could not seem to get access to where what the actually did under each of the 3 different processes–did you?

      • Capt. Dallas,

        In many parts of world ocean we are see heat content at the highest levels in 2000 years based on paleo data. We are well past the point of recovery from th LIA. The reduction of Arctic sea ice seems to be at least one of the results of this warmer water. See:

      • Rob, I am way too cheap to buy a look. My logic is that southern hemisphere reconstructions would give a better indication of changes in the ocean conditions. I am not particularly sold that trees make reliable thermometers, but they should indicate average conditions fairly reliably. Trees should tend to grow better in average conditions, so the average of a reconstruction should be close to but likely on the low side of average temperature assuming reasonable precipitation. So the comparison of the SSA to Hadsst2 was just to see what average might be, absolute temperature doesn’t matter because HADSST2 is likely less than perfect also.

        It is kinda interesting actually,

        This the the average of the same reconstruction with a Tasmanian reconstruction by Cook et al. So the ocean temperatures appear to be near normal for pre-1400 with more rapid than normal warming since 1850, but 1816 was a pretty large event. The southern hemisphere seems to agree with Tony b’s long slow thaw :)

      • R. Gates said, “In many parts of world ocean we are see heat content at the highest levels in 2000 years based on paleo data.”

        The many parts is what got me wondering more about the southern hemisphere. The Southern South America reconstruction does seem to match most of the calibration events. Tasmania is a little unusual because it was made with warmer climate trees. Combined, they make a very good fit with both the HADSST2 and the GISS 24S to 44S regional. More interestingly, the reconstruction represent the season with the most temperature variability.

        Jacoby et al. have a Taymir reconstruction going back to the 1500s ending in 1970. They truncated the reconstruction in 1970 because of the divergence problem. The Taymir growing season is from June to September, all other months average below freezing. Ostrov Dikson has a fair surface temperature record for the warmer months. Most of the missing data is wickedly cold months.

        Combining the Taymir reconstruction with the surface temperature average for the growing season you get this.

        That is plotted as approximate Wm-2 instead of temperature anomaly. The instrumental period is warmer, but the uncertainty is considerable with the reconstruction and the temperature range of the growing season happens to be the most stable of the year. That is a problem with Alpine and Boreal reconstructions, thaw subdues temperature variation. They give a reasonable estimate of changes from average, but not a very good indication of the amplitude of change. Notice than the top yellow plot is most of the growing season. Most of the temperature variation is in the winter.

        Now compare surface temperatures for the Tasmania and Southern South America growing summer months.

        Makes some think the tail is wagging the dog.

        Just to drive that point home, this is the Tasmania, Southern South America with the GISS regional in estimate Wm-2. Note that Taymir would not be on this chart scale.

        So I will agree that it is warmer, but not that recovery is insignificant.

      • Thank you for taking the time to reply. When you claim that “the equilibrium response can be estimated ever more accurately through paleoclimate studies” I assume you are referencing the process by which paleoclimate data provide constraints on the numerical value of the equilibrium climate sensitivity (TECS) via Bayesian parameter estimation.

        Under this process, Bayes’s inverse probability theorem maps the prior probability density function (PDF) over TECS plus the paleoclimate data to the posterior PDF over TECS. This process has a logical shortcoming. The shortcoming relates to the arbitrariness of the prior PDF.

        In the course of the following remarks, I assume that the prior PDF is the PDF that exists in the period that is prior to the collection of the paleoclimate data. This PDF is necessarily uninformative about the numerical value of TECS. However, that it is uninformative fails to nail down the prior PDF for it can be shown that uninformative prior PDFs are of infinite number. It follows that when confidence bounds are asserted on the numerical value of TECS, these bounds lack uniqueness.

      • Terry, some people might view that as a shortcoming but others might view it as a strength. I don’t think it is fair to say that it is a logical shortcoming of Bayesian reasoning that the conclusions (the posterior) depends on one of the premises (the prior). Is this not true of almost all logic (the premise controls the conclusion)? Bayesian constructions can still be helpful when they allow the reader to supply their own priors and work through to the posterior. Or at least, so I think. That this leaves some indeterminacy in conclusions is part and parcel of Bayesian methods, right? Or am I misunderstanding your intended point?

      • Thank you for taking the time to respond. Contrary to your assertion, Bayesian parameter estimation is not necessarily an example of “reasoning.” The Bayesian argument under consideration is not an example of reasoning.

        As Bayes’ theorem follows logically from probability theory, given that probability theory is a true premise and that the prior PDF is a true premise, the posterior PDF is a true conclusion. However, in the argument under consideration, the prior PDF is not a true premise and thus the posterior PDF is not a true conclusion. It follows that the confidence bounds on TECS are not unique.

      • Thank you for taking the time to respond. Contrary to your assumption, “given that…the prior PDF is a true premise,” no self-respecting Bayesian I know would describe priors as “true.” Savage identified prior probability with the willingness to place bets on the event in question and, as such, regarded prior probability as an inherently subjective notion. Hence the resulting theory of “subjective expected utility” to be carefully distinguished from the “expected utility” of von Neumann and Morgenstern, in which probability has an objective, frequentist interpretation shared by all agents.

        The artifice of “uninformative priors” in “Bayesian estimation” is just that… an artifice. There is nothing in the Bayesian tradition that requires priors to be uninformative. Hence the indeterminacy in posteriors lurks within Bayesian reasoning quite irrespective of the multiplicity of uninformative priors. Why indeed would we want to tell a decision maker she cannot put any prior information into her priors?


      • NW (May 11, 2012 at 2:05 am):

        Thank you for the stimulating comments. A prior PDF that is uninformative about the numerical value of the associated parameter is logically required in the circumstance that information about this value is not available. Generally and in the specific case of TECS, uninformative priors are of infinite number. When one of these priors (e.g., the ever popular uniform prior) is selected for use, a consequence is for Aristotle’s law of non-contradiction to be violated. In the argument that is made for the existence of a specified posterior PDF over TECS, the negated law plays the role of a false premise. As this premise is false, the existence of the specified posterior PDF is necessarily unproved. As the equilibrium temperature is unobservable, the notion of TECS is scientifically and logically nonsensical.

        If, in addition to being uninformative, the prior PDF is unique, the existence of the posterior PDF is proved by Bayes’s theorem. There is a circumstance in which the prior is unique. It is manifested in a sequence of trials of an experiment. In a single trial, the relative frequency with which the experiment has a specified outcome is 0 or 1. In 2 trials, the relative frequency is 0 or 1/2 or 1. In N trials, the relative frequency is 0 or 1/N or 2/N or… or 1. Note that the relative frequency possibilities are equally spaced on the number line in the interval between 0 and 1.

        Let N increase without limit. The relative frequency becomes known as the “limiting relative frequency.” The limiting relative frequency possibilities are evenly spaced on the interval between 0 and 1. Maximization of the missing information about the limiting relative frequency yields the conclusion that equal numerical values are assigned to the probabilities of the various limiting relative frequency possibilities. The probability density is the ratio of the probability value, namely 1/(N+1), to the distance between adjacent limiting relative frequency possibilities, namely 1/N. Thus, the probability density is uniform in the interval between 0 and 1 and equal to 1; otherwise, the probability density is nil. This phenomenon provides us with an exception to the rule that prior PDFs are of infinite number. This exception provides climatologists with a loophole that they could jump through enroute to logically sound models of the climate.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        NW: no self-respecting Bayesian I know would describe priors as “true.”

        Maybe, but Bayesian Francisco J. Samaniego considers (in his book “A comparison of Bayesian and Frequentist approaches to parameter estimation”) whether they might be accurate, and concludes that in most multiparamter settings that they are not accurate enough for Bayesian estimation to be an improvement over frequentist estimation.

        In my experience, it is not unusual for a Bayesian to tell me that “truth” is not the correct quality for judging the prior, but that I ought to believe the posterior distribution anyway.

      • NW: The artifice of “uninformative priors” in “Bayesian estimation” is just that… an artifice.

        Not so. Uninformative priors are a necessary tool in order to obtain objectively-accurate inference as to parameter values in Bayesian estimation, where the data is insufficiently accurate for the prior to have little influence.

        Where the parameters are continuous and parameter-data relationships are non-linear, as in most climate science problems, knowledge of the nature of those relationships has to be used in computing an uninformative prior. What prior is uninformative may depend on the parameters of interest.

        Noninformative priors cannot be directly interpreted as representing probablities (see, e.g., Bernado and Smith, 1994). It is a common misconception that they can be interpreted as probabilities. And the alternative of using an existing estimate of the (joint) parameter density as the prior will often not produce accurate parameter inference even if that estimate is itself valid.

        There is much misunderstanding about Bayesian inference in the above sorts of cases, in particular about the nature and construction of uninformative priors.

      • Matt said:

        “it is not unusual for a Bayesian to tell me that “truth” is not the correct quality for judging the prior, but that I ought to believe the posterior distribution anyway.”

        You won’t hear me talking that trash.

        Nic said:

        “Uninformative priors are a necessary tool in order to obtain objectively-accurate inference as to parameter values in Bayesian estimation”

        What in the wide world of sports would ‘objectively accurate’ mean, unless we are heavily mixing probabilistic metaphors between the worlds of subjective and frequentist probability?

        More generally, consider the following experiment. I have an opaque urn of balls in a room. I convince subject A that either the urn has 2/3 red and 1/3 black balls, or it has 1/3 red balls and 2/3 black balls. Subject A walks in and samples a ball from one the urns, and then reports her beliefs, in probability form, as to which kind of urn she faces.

        Suppose I have done a good job convincing the subject that it is just one of those two urns.

        However, suppose I have done a rather uncertain job of establishing how the urn was selected from the two possible urns. I may have claimed I flipped a fair coin, or whatever: But there is no way for the subject to establish my veracity.

        Why would you believe, under these circumstances, that the subjects should report a posterior probability appropriate to the situation where the urns are selected with equal probability? What exactly would be “logical” about that?

        So, what exactly is “logical” about uninformative priors for our subject in this situation?

        Now let that experiment be over. Invite the subject back into the room and repeat the procedure. Make sure the experimenter didn’t re-enter the room between the first and second experiments.

        Should the subject now adopt 50/50 (uninformative) priors?

        I can keep coming up with absurdities if you guys want.

      • Ooops, I wrote:

        “Subject A walks in and samples a ball from one the urns”

        that should have been

        “Subject A walks in and samples a ball from the urn”

        …there are two possible urns, but only one urn in front of the subject.


      • NW:

        Thank you for the excellent questions and for giving me the opportunity to clarify.

        As you point out, the conclusion of the argument that is made by Bayesian parameter estimation (the posterior PDF) is consistent with one of the premises to this argument (the prior PDF). As Bayes theorem logically follows from the precepts of the probabilistic logic, if this premise (the prior PDF) is true, the conclusion (the posterior PDF) is true. However, under the law of non-contradiction the prior PDF over TECS cannot be true and thus the conclusion (the posterior PDF over TECS) is deductively unproved.

        In the construction of a model, the resulting model is usually deductively unproved, as information needed for a deductive conclusion is missing. Thus, in this respect, there is nothing unusual about the deductive unprovability of the posterior PDF over TECS. However, when a model is “scientific,” it is by definition susceptible to falsification. In view of the unobservability of the equilibrium temperature, the posterior PDF over TECS is non-falsifiable and thus it would be improper to describe the posterior PDF over TECS as a “scientific” model. Climatologists err when they imply that it is one.

  16. Reblogged this on evilincandescentbulb and commented:
    Look for common ground. Then I think you will see why fear of AGW is alien to reason.

    Global warming alarmism has always been a matter of choosing the least significant contributor to global warming — CO2 — and then creating mystical properties that are not observed in nature. The magic properties of CO2 are achieved by applying magical magnification formulae such that the scant contributor may become the source of a peril called AGW.

  17. Nothing in natural science can explain why we would do this if the peril of AGW is not really there. However, we can only look beyond the natural sciences for an explanation if we think that the peril is really not there. Contrary to that, of course, will be the belief of the inventor of a peril that the rest of us simply do not recognize the peril and that will always be the case and is the reason we have the scientific method to begin with: to help us differentiate between reality and religion.

  18. I am ignorant of many things, and one of the things that I am really ignorant of is understanding the oceans temperature profile.
    Now I know that the bottom of the deep oceans are at 4 degrees. I know that there are two heat sources that heat the bottom meter of the ocean, 1) firstly we have the very small amount of heat that is generated from the radioactive decay of the transuranics in the Earths interior and 2) we have the heat coming down from the upper layers by radiative transfer.
    Now 1) is quite small, be it tells us the overall direction of heat transfer; molten nickel/iron, molten rock, solid rock, mud and then bottom meter of water.
    I find 2) tricky. As the bottom meter is always colder then the top meter, and the system is at steady state, then it is easier for heat to be transferred (4 degrees) from the bottom to the top (call it min/max of 25-27 degrees in 24 hours).
    O.K. you say, the bottom 1 meter is water from the poles that is made from melt-water and brine, that sinks to the bottom and keeps the bottom cold.
    Alright, what about 1 km from the bottom, the water there is also 4 degrees.
    Why isn’t the ocean temperature at depth the same as, i.e. in equilibrium with, the night time surface temperature + a bit from the internal heat from radioactive decay?
    Why is heat transfer of the bottom, 4 degrees, the same as the top meter, which averages 26 degrees?
    I don’t thing we can talk about lags or hidden heat unless we can understand why we have this steady state temperature differential.

    • DocMartyn,

      I await the response from the Warmists.

      Like you, I have given the matter a bit of thought from time to time. I believe I have an answer that fits the observation that the abyssal depths are quite a lot colder than the surface waters in general, and also remarkably consistent with respect to depth, regardless of physical location on the globe.

      However, given my lack of education, I am hesitant to publish my views in view of the rampant and delusional Warmism which infects this blog from time to time. If a Warmist cares to put forward an explanation, I am happy enough to provide comment on the worth of the explanation, that does not involve analogies, abstruse calculations, or general hand-waving unsupported by fact.

      In general, though, I thought about the transparency of the atmosphere to the vast majority of radiation emitted from the surface of the oceans. I then visualised the mechanism of heat transfer between arbitrarily small packets of water, the atmosphere, the earths core and the vacuum surrounding the Earth (not to forget the Sun, of course.)

      Suffice it to say, I may have an explanation. I may also be completely wrong, and someone can point out my mistake in a second. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to a person with the necessary patience to hear me out, and sufficient knowledge to correct mistakes I may have made.

      If someone can explain the phenomenon without invoking a “magic” process that is only known to Warmists, both DocMartyn and myself would be the wiser for it.

      Mike Flynn

    • Water is densest at 4 degrees. I think this also applies to seawater, and if it is true, that would explain the cold bottom water just by its density.

      • How? Some sort of physics please.
        Explain the energy fluxes in terms of kinetics and thermodynamics.
        No hand waving.

      • Denser fluids sink. It is not energy flux so much as the water mass itself. Cold air pools in valleys, denser water pools at the bottom.

      • Jim D, saltwater freezes at about -2C leaving nearly fresh ice and denser salt water to sink by convection downward. About an area the size of Australia forms and melts every season in the Antarctic which drives the southern portion of the Thermohaline deep ocean circulation. The average rate of the thermohaline circulation is around 10cm per second. That would put the travel time from pole to pole in the 60.9 year ballpark. The lowest temperature in the depths of the ocean are in the 2 C range.

        Since the Arctic and the Antarctic both contribute to the Thermohaline circulation, the changing rate of ice growth and melt change the Thermohaline flow. Kinda neat plumbing setup.

  19. You say “The earth’s climate is never in equilibrium” but if you look at the temperature responses, it is never very far out of equilibrium. When the Arctic is closed it don’t snow much and earth warms. When the Arctic is open it does snow much and earth cools.

    • Would you describe the water level in Lake Powell as in equilibrium?
      What about US stocks of gasoline, are they in equilibrium?
      Thing is despite the pumping of gasoline everyday in cars and trucks, the amount of gasoline in the US is really quite stable, so it must represent the US’s equilibrium position.

  20. While climate modelers acknowledge natural internal variability from ENSO and on time scales of a decade, they regard this as noise on top of a large secular trend. They neglect the possibility that the secular trend is not easily disentangled from longer term natural variability

    JC, I think I have attempted to disentangle the long term natural variability (ocean cycles) from the secular trend.

    Observed GMT = GMT due to oscillation due to ENSO (Noise) + GMT due to oscillation due to ocean cycles + GMT due to secular Trend

  21. You can take the data since 1970, which is 0.5 C rise in global temperature and a 20% rise in CO2 and get a sensitivity of 2 degrees per doubling. The land has warmed faster in this period as BEST shows 0.9 C which seems inconsistent with the ocean as a driver of the global change and is more consistent with radiative forcing. Maybe the sun got stronger, but the opposite would seem to be more the case recently. Maybe the reduction in albedo due to loss of sea ice helped the warming, but it may be considered part of the positive feedback. There is also a negative correlation between global cloud cover and temperature, which may be a positive feedback depending on the details of the cloud-cover changes.


      1909 to 1944 = .164C / decade
      1980 to 2011 = .151C / decade

      CO2 is the wimpy impotent GHG.

      • Sunspots increased by a factor of two or more in that period from 1910 to 1940, but have been reducing since 1950. I don’t know how many times I have had to remind skeptics of this, but they seem resistant to solar variations doing anything (almost as much as CO2).

      • When did the earth reach equilibrium with solar increases? Don’t forget that 300 year lag time that is supposed to be keeping us up at night worrying about ECR.

      • A large fraction of the response is fast.

      • That would be transient. If all we have to worry about is transient, and I happen to agree it is, we can ignore ECR from solar and from co2. If not then we can’t state that there was negative forcing from solar since the 1950s, agree?

      • ECR comes in for sustained forcing which is more like what CO2 is, or will be once it has stopped increasing. Solar variations are too frequent to make it a sensible concept except over long term steps like the Maunder Minimum (which was much weaker as a forcing than doubling CO2.)

      • Jim D said, “Solar variations are too frequent to make it a sensible concept except over long term steps like the Maunder Minimum (which was much weaker as a forcing than doubling CO2.)” Solar is a weaker atmospheric forcing but a stronger oceanic forcing. There are several thermodynamic boundary layers that have to be consider in the ocean atmospheric system and each have different sensitivities to different forcing. The Earth is not a billiard ball.

      • Jim D, from 1911 to 1915 the sunspot number was close to zero yet temperatures rose by .5C.

        The monthly SSN did not crack 100 until 1929 and that was one month.

        From 48 to 49 the monthly SSN stayed above 100 for 2 years.

        From 56 to 60 it stayed well above 100 cracking 200.

        JiM D, you are ignorant.

      • You don’t think El Ninos can cause individual years to vary by 0.5 degrees? OK, I should have said since 1958 the sunspot numbers have been decreasing. Anyway, the point is that the sun was probably warmer in the mid-century than the early or later parts.


        Solar correlation with GMT isolates works brilliantly as far back as the GMT instrumental record allows, until 1960, when the it falls off a cliff.

        Sorry, solar influence is gone.

      • ” OK, I should have said since 1958 the sunspot numbers have been decreasing.”

        DUH … it had the highest peak.

        But no 30 year period since 1900 has had a lower average SSN.

        SSN had nothing to with 1910 to 1944 warming.

        However, 1980 to 1998 had the highest lows in 150 years.

      • If you don’t like sunspot numbers you can look at the TSI reconstruction on your climate4you link below. It shows TSI rising after 1910.

      • Steven Mosher

        bruce. you realize that sunspot numbers have been adjusted more than USHCN. you realize that right? and you relaize that the errors in the record are only now being corrected

      • Jim D … you postulate the lowest period of TSI after 1900 caused the warming from 1910 to 1944 but the highest period of TSI after 1900 did not cause the warming from 1980 to 1998?

        Mosher, why would I use SSN values that don’t exist yet?

        We know that bright sunshine hours were high in the 20s/30s/40s and 90s (see Martin Wild and early brightening/dimming/brightening) , but that isn’t the same as TSI or SSN.

        And we know albedo dropped in the 1990s because of Project Earthshine, but I don’t know of any albedo data from 30s.

        Does anyone have UV reconstructions back to 1900? A big drop is UV is associated with the Homeric Minimum.

        And we know UV has dropped now unexpectedly.

      • The lowest 30 year period for SSN (since 1900) were the 10s,20s and 30s. activity since 1700

        Jim D, why tell such whoppers?

      • The cycle prior to 1910 was much weaker than the one prior to 1940. What are you talking about?

      • Jim D, there was nothing special about 1910 to 1944 in terms of SSN unless low SSN causes warming.

        Even the 1938 July peak was very short ( 165.3 ) most months were much much lower.

        Starting around the late 70s SSN wast well above 100 for years.

      • Jim, forget your preconceptions about how much forcing the sun supplies and answer the question, would solar have gone negative as soon as the solar cycle slightly decreased in intensity or would it still be positive since itt hadn’t yet reached equilibrium?

      • It should go negative when the forcing changes to negative because there is a fast part of the response over land that can react quickly. The ocean responds to the longer-term average.

      • Jim D, solar has more impact on the oceans which have a slower rate of heat release. The change in solar will have a considerable lagged impact on atmospheric temperatures. There is also a lag in the ocean heat uptake from the cooler temperatures early in the instrumental period. That makes it interesting figuring out what is leading what. The pseudo part of the pseudo cycles is the rate of ocean heat uptake from different types of forcing change.

        That just compares the differences in the lower troposphere, middle troposphere and lower stratosphere. I am mainly looking at land changes but the shift in the stratosphere is pretty obvious, and that is an indication of the change in heat loss. If a larger portion of the ocean heat uptake was due to LIA depression, you can’t even come close to estimating “A” sensitivity until you know how much is lagged natural impacts.

      • It comes down to response functions. I could say quite reasonably that 80% of the response to a forcing change comes within 20 years, and 95% within 40. If the LIA-recovery proponents have a sense that a large part of the response in delayed by a century, they need to make that case. The LIA forcing was worth about -0.5 degrees, so any response is just that size, and I would argue that was mostly completed a century ago.

      • LIA is an arbitrary human concept. Climate just changes, continuously.

      • Jim D, I disagree, the 60.9 year cycle appears to be internal and related to the deep ocean. There are different lags with different ocean layers, but the 60.9 is not solar related.

      • These mythical regular oscillations are a statistical consequence of red noise in a short chaotic record (Willis E recognizes this much and demonstrated it well with random red noise). There is no regular 60-year oscillation that will persist into the future, and it has nothing to do with long-term climate forcing changes that occur with various frequencies.

      • Edim, yes, climate and its forcing change continuously.

      • Jim D, the 60.9 year pseudo cycle is not mythical though it does likely have little impact on long term temperature. It would have an impact on attempting to determine changes in long term temperature though.

        It is driven by sea ice melt.

        Greater seasonal ice melt in warmer decades increase the thermohaline flow rate which will have a negative feedback on warming, only 30 years later, the full cycle is 60 years.. So there is likely a need for a sixty year trend instead of the 17 year trend to determine climate change. Kinda ironic :)

        The amplitude of the oscillation looks to be only .2 to .4 degrees in air temperature and 0.05 to 0.1 in sea surface temperature. There is a lot of uncertainty in those estimates though.

        That is a rough comparison of the southern hemisphere to sea surface temperature. The Sargasso sea temperature proxy show what may be some of the amplification in the North Atlantic.

        Don’t worry Jim, it doesn’t disprove GHG warming, just reduces the TCR and ECR at touch. 0.8 +/- 0.2

      • capt. dallas, you are a firm believer in the 60-year cycle despite the chaotic nature of multiple interacting wind-driven ocean circulations, the conveyor belt and Greenland ice melt, etc. In a 180 year record the main cycle will be near 90 years, depending on how the detrending is done for the exponentially curved global warming.

      • Jim D, the main record is not long enough in my opinion to nail down cycles. The 60.9 is just based on the flow rate of the thermohaline. Impacts in one pole would not be felt at the other until the flow change was actually felt at the other. The Antarctic had more variation in annual sea ice early in the record then began to stabilize. The Arctic is out of phase with the Antarctic. That is the basis of the oscillation. It likely has no long term temperature impact, but it muddies the waters. Since it appears to be the driver of the AMO, the AMO is likely a neutral oscillation also over a long enough period of time.

        As far a fitting with temperature or paleo, there is so much noise it is a joke, but you can see hints in the Gray AMO reconstruction with a sinewave overlay.

        Though volcanic activity overrides most of the signal.

      • Pooh, Dixie

        Jim D (May 12, 2012 at 11:55 am)
        “These mythical regular oscillations are a statistical consequence of red noise in a short chaotic record….”
        Someone must run and tell the salmon! :-)

    • Jim, it is nice you are saying it is positive while still trying to say it is negative but we know the oceans are what matter in ECR and thus I will accept your it is positive answer. Now the question is how much of the warming of the latter half of the 20th century would you attribute to ECR from earlier forcings and how much to TCR from concurrent forcings?

      • If the ocean is responding to only the last ten or twenty years that warming stopped many decades ago, probably by 1970. You have to remember the cool period around 1910 was quite short too.

      • Here Jim, show me where you start your trend line to show no increase in solar activity for the latter half of the 20th century

      • The trend in the second half is much smaller than the trend in the first half. The first-half trend could have led to as much as 0.2 degrees of temperature rise. In the second half the rise has been more than 0.5 degrees, so we can’t say that was solar.

      • Jim, so you agree that if you argue for a significant ECR after the transient period that you have to argue solar would have been positive during the 2nd half of the 20th century. That’s all I wanted, an argument that is at least consistent. We can argue about magnitudes later. It was tough enough just getting a direction.

      • Not sure I follow. The 2nd half of the 20th century had little to negative solar effect, which leaves more for the transient CO2 effect, and potentially a higher ECR.

      • Jim, when did solar reach equilibrium?

  22. There is no “global warming”.

    We are all evidence of the fact (not supposition) that the majority of the Earth’s surface is less than that of the molten interior.

    The Earth has cooled. It is still losing energy from the core, whether you like it or not. It has no choice. There is a very hot core, surrounded by a vacuum that provides no impediment whatsoever to the transmission of electromagnetic radiation.

    All bodies in the known universe emit EMR, at rates and amounts dependent on the physical make up of the body. The Earth is no exception, and the EMR received from the Sun does not make up for the EMR lost by the Earth system.

    The Warmist calculations involving S-B etc confirm this. The calculated temperature, rubbery and assumption laden as it is, appears to be less than the observed temperature – rubbery and assumption laden also – at least on the surface. I should perhaps point out that the “average global temperature” is some thousands of Kelvins.

    Therefore, it is obvious that the Earth is cooling. How fast? I don’t know, and nobody else is sure either. Wrapping the Earth in CO2 or any other gas can do no more than slow the rate of cooling minutely, compared with the reduction in heat loss from the core occasioned by the lithosphere and the aquasphere.

    If you think you can heat up something by surrounding it with gas, please let me your method. I would love a way to heat my food and drink without using forms of energy based on combustion, nuclear reaction, or things that would send me broke, such as wind, solar, geothermal and the rest.

    Why should I bother, when wrapping my cold kettle with gas will cause it to become warmer?

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

    • Mike Flynn,

      All we care about related to the sensitivity issue and CO2 is non-tectonic energy which derives completely from the Sun and the role CO2 plays in restricting the flow of solar energy as LW back to space. The fact that the Earth’s core is slowly (very slowly) cooling and releasing maybe 0.1 watts/m^2 of tectonic energy to the surface is essentially irrelevant. The solar energy stored in the ocean and atmosphere are what drive the planet’s climate. So the average temperature of the planet, taking the 5000C core energy into account is unimportant in terms of climate.

      As far as a greenhouse gases surrounding an object (i.e. the Earth), of course the greenhouse gases keep the surface and oceans warmer than they would be without this gas, but they do so not by imparting energy to the earth (an absurd notion), but constricting the rate of heat flux back to space. Greenhouse gases act as a governor, altering (reducing) the thermal gradient both between ocean and atmosphere, and between the upper atmosphere and space.

      • R. Gates

        It appears we are in agreement.

        As you point out, the GHGs impart no extra energy to the Earth, (and I agree it is an absurd notion.)

        As you also point out, the insulating effect of the atmosphere reduces the efficiency of the radiative transfer between the Earth and other bodies. I prefer the word “insulator” to the word “governor”, as the word “governor” implies control in both directions – as in decrease or increase temperature. We agree that increasing the temperature of the Earth by wrapping it in CO2 is absurd.

        Now the insulating effect of the atmosphere “smooths” temperature excursions at the surface. As we see by comparison with the Moon, the presence of an atmosphere decreases maximum surface temperature (eg max 90 C on the Earth, >100C on the Moon), and also ensures that the minimum temperature on the Earth’s surface cannot decrease to that of the Moon.

        Increasing the amount of CO2 to, say 100%, will merely serve to depress the maximum surface temperature of Earth even further, and prevent minimum nighttime surface temperature on Earth from falling as low as it does.

        For anyone that does not believe this, consider the following –

        1. The maximum radiative transfer of energy between bodies occurs in a vacuum.

        2. All bodies above 0K emit electromagnetic radiation.

        It follows than, that interposing anything at all between radiating bodies reduces reduces the efficiency of the radiative transfer of energy.

        Inserting CO2 in the radiation path between the Earth and the Sun will lower, rather than raise the Earth’s temperature, obviously.

        Given that the earth is still cooling (we agree) and that CO2 has at best an insulating effect (we agree), I cannot see how anybody can seriously discuss a “sensitivity” implying “warming” caused by “GHGs.”

        Now there may be some remaining dispute between us, based on the assumption that the atmosphere somehow impedes total energy radiative transfer more in one direction than the other. Insulators work both ways as far as total energy transmission is concerned. Without going into details, total energy transmission imbalance leads rapidly to the construction of system which has an output greater than the input.

        Thank you for your support.

        Live well and prosper.

        Mike Flynn

      • Actually, governor is a better term than insulator. Adding CO2 would raise the average radiant layer, that is insulation. Then changing available energy would also raise (lower) the average radiant layer. Since the relative velocity of the upper troposphere changes with altitude with respect to the lower layers, this “governs” the rate of heat loss. In order for CO2 to increase the average surface temperature it would have to increase the average temperature of the troposphere above the average radiant layer. Since that layer is in chaotic motion with vorticies and jet stream wandering, CO2 cannot “charge” the upper troposphere as required to obtain the full estimated climate forcing.

        Kinda makes the modeling a bit complicated.

        Then you toss in the changing atmospheric chemistry with water vapor reacting with ozone and that reacting with CO2 and the other trace gases in a region with various photon energies, electron flow and magnetic flux, things can get weird in a hurry. Ever wonder why the Antarctic CO2 concentration is lower and more stable than the rest of the atmosphere? Might have something to do with the magnetic “true” north pole being in the Antarctic.

      • capt. dallas 0.8+/-0.2

        I agree to a point. I try to use a word describing an actual thing, rather than what it can act as, if you get my drift. In this context, I can’t see a problem with describing the atmosphere, lithosphere and aquasphere as insulators – which is what they are.

        There is no positive effect on the Earths energy content due to the presence of the atmosphere, or any component of it. The best that can be achieved, given a perfect insulator (or governor if you wish), is that the energy content remain the same. In this case, there is no doubt that the temperature of the atmosphere, lithosphere, aquasphere, mantle etc. would rise, as the body within the perfect insulator became isothermal throughout.

        Luckily for us, the system is losing energy, and the crust has congealed.

        Whatever words we use, the Earth is not heating, and cannot heat given the present energy sources available to it.

        Live well and prosper.

        Mike Flynn.

      • Mike Flynn,

        “Whatever words we use, the Earth is not heating.”
        Whatever words you use, you seem to ignore the fact that it is. The ocean heat content has been steadily increasing over the past 40+ years. This is the Earth heating up. There is no equivocating about it, or mincing words. The energy to heat the ocean comes nearly 100% from the sun. The sun’s output has not varied in the same manner as this heating, and in fact, the amount of SW hitting the ocean has been fairly constant over this period. This leads to only one possibility for the heating…less heat is escaping from the ocean, and given CO2’s ability to alter the thermal gradient at the ocean skin layer, reducing heat flow from ocean to atmosphere, this makes perfect sense.

        So yes, the Earth is heating and the energy balance of the Earth has been changing as greenhouse gas concentrations increase. Increasing CO2 functions to heat up the Earth through altering thermal gradients, both between ocean and atmosphere and between atmosphere and space.

      • R Gates,

        No equivocating about it? No mincing words?

        I mean no offence, but do you really believe that anybody can, or has, measured the heat content of the oceans with any useful precision or accuracy. Really?

        You agreed with me, the earth is cooling. You think it is heating at the same time? Well, surprisingly enough, perhaps, I agree – but only to a point. The constituents of this system we call the Earth are constantly in motion. The core, the mantle, the lithosphere, aquasphere, and atmosphere – constantly moving. Some faster, some slower.

        The Sun’s output – variable.

        Consider the Earth’s more or less lopsided quasi spheroid shape. Its wobbly position in space, precession, and all the other motions. Its erratic more or less elliptical orbit around the Sun – I could keep going.

        So yes, at times parts of the Earth’s surface will be colder than others. Does it surprise me that fossils are found under the Antarctic ice? Marine fossils in the micaceous schists on the approaches to Mt. Everest? Permafrost consisting of permanently frozen plant life?

        Not at all. Deterministic dynamical systems with a sensitive dependence on initial conditions often lead to surprising, and even counter intuitive conclusions.

        So you must pardon me if your statement “Increasing CO2 functions to heat up the Earth through altering thermal gradients, . . .” leaves me unconvinced, mainly because it is totally meaningless.

        However, faith in the Warmist cause does not need fact or even logic to sustain itself.

        Live well and prosper.

        Mike Flynn.

      • Mike Flynn said:

        “Inserting CO2 in the radiation path between the Earth and the Sun will lower, rather than raise the Earth’s temperature, obviously.

        Given that the earth is still cooling (we agree) and that CO2 has at best an insulating effect (we agree), I cannot see how anybody can seriously discuss a “sensitivity” implying “warming” caused by “GHGs.”

        Well, let’s get into this a bit, and perhaps a bit more in scientific detail than you are wanting to. First, you suggested that if we insert CO2 in the radiation path between the Earth and Sun, that it will lower, rather than raise the Earth’s temperature. This is of course a gross generalization and so general in fact, that it makes no sense in addition to being incorrect. If I put a cloud of CO2 50 millions miles from Earth, directly in the path between the Sun and Earth, are you suggesting this will lower Earth’s temperature. This is exactly what your overly broad generalization states.

        But beyond that, let’s help you fill in the blanks and be generous and assume that you actually meant putting CO2 in the atmospheric shell that surrounds the Earth’s surface, and by raising Earth’s temperature, let’s be once more generous and assume you are talking about the surface temperature. Of course, if the Earth suddenly had no atmosphere at all, (but still, at least temporarily had an ocean) during the day, the SW radiation would strike the surface and warm the rock & dirt (there would be no vegetation) and ocean. Once the sun set, the surface and ocean would rapidly give up this energy as LW radiation, and unimpeded it would be transferred back into space. Of course, the ocean would get very cold at night, and freeze over, and eventually, the ice would be so thick that the rising of sun the next day would not warm the ice enough to melt and, without an atmosphere, we get a pretty nice ice planet. The oceans would be frozen over with a nice layer, but they would be liquid down below say 20 meters or so. The heat in the lower ocean could not escape through the ice, and it possible that some life forms could live under this ice. The small 0.1. watt/m^2 coming from the Earth’s interior would be enough to keep the water under the ice liquid, and the thickness of the global sea ice layer would be determined when a equilibrium was established between the energy that did escape through whatever thickness of ice necessary to balance the tectonic heat from the Earth’s interior. Now, this above scenario is exactly what would happen even if all we had was an atmosphere whose only greenhouse gas was initially water vapor. Being a condensing greenhouse gas, as the atmosphere cooled, water vapor would all eventually be condensed out of the atmosphere and we would get the snowball planet described above. This scenario is pretty much exactly what we get over Antarctica, which in the interior has an atmosphere more dry than the driest hot desert on Earth. All the water vapor has been condensed, an even though there is CO2, methane, and N2O in the atmosphere above Antarctica, because there is very very little LW coming up from the ground, there is no heat for these gases to absorb and re-emit. This is akin to putting a blanket on a dead body. No body heat means there is nothing for the blanket to trap.

        The upshot of all this is that not only does CO2 keep the surface of the Planet, and the ocean, warmer than it would have been without CO2 in the atmosphere, it is actually far more critical to long term warmth of these regions than water vapor, because CO2 is a non-condensing GH gas, and will remain at a steady level whereas water vapor will condense out with decreasing temperatures and has no ability to prevent a tail-spin down into a snowball Earth state. CO2 keeps the surface warmer than it would have been otherwise, and moreover, keeping a sufficient ppm of CO2 is the only thing that prevents a slide back into a snowball Earth scenario.

      • R. Gates

        The statement about maximum radiative transfer of energy between bodies occurring in a vacuum is true (according to far more knowledgeable minds than mine.) You may choose to believe it, or not.

        As to placing CO2 between the Earth and the Sun – yes it will.

        Can I sum up what you have said, as follows, –

        1. The atmosphere is an insulator. I agree.

        2. Without CO2, the Earth would freeze. Nonsense. CO2 between the Sun and the Earth cools the daytime surface, reduces the rate of energy loss at night time, as insulators do.

        But thank you, for a wordy expansion which I have condensed.

        Net result, no global warming due to CO2.

        Live well and prosper.

        Mike Flynn.

      • “If I put a cloud of CO2 50 millions miles from Earth, directly in the path between the Sun and Earth, are you suggesting this will lower Earth’s temperature. This is exactly what your overly broad generalization states.”
        The CO2 cloud 50 million milesfrom earth could not in any stretch of the imagination warm earth, if there enough it, it will reduce amount sunlight reaching earth. Of course Venus could called cloud of CO2 and roughly that distance, but it’s too small to have any effect.

        “The upshot of all this is that not only does CO2 keep the surface of the Planet, and the ocean, warmer than it would have been without CO2 in the atmosphere, it is actually far more critical to long term warmth of these regions than water vapor, because CO2 is a non-condensing GH gas, and will remain at a steady level whereas water vapor will condense out with decreasing temperatures and has no ability to prevent a tail-spin down into a snowball Earth state.”

        What important about CO2 is plants can’t survive without.
        Whenever water vapor condenses it release heat- lots of heat.
        The amount energy in form water vapor on earth is equal to more total energy that reaches earth from sun in 3 days.
        Roughly, cubic meter of air weighs 1.2 kg. A cubic kilometer of air is
        1 billion cubic meter, so 1.2 billion kg air. If 3% is water vapor than in just 1 cubic km of air you have 36 million kg of water vapor.
        When a kg water vapor condense:
        2,270 kilojoules of heat is release per kg:
        36 million times 2,270 is 81,720 million kilojoules or watt seconds of energy
        Or 22.7 million kilowatt hours of energy.
        Which is roughly the amount sunlight in 3 day and night cycle.
        But atmosphere higher than 1 km. So count the entire atmosphere water vapor in one has more energy than 24 hrs of constant sunlight for more than 3 days.

        Water vapor is not clouds, but if reduce water vapor by somehow not making much water vapor, then one has less clouds- meaning less sunlight is reflected, meaning more sunlight reaches the surface of earth, resulting warmer earth:
        “If an ideal thermally conductive blackbody was the same distance from the Sun as the Earth is, it would have a temperature of about 5.3 °C. However, since the Earth reflects about 30% of the incoming sunlight “-
        Clouds mostly what reflecting “30% of the incoming sunlight”- without clouds or reduced clouds the “average temperature of earth” would be above freezing. Of course if *average temperature* was above freezing, one would have cold polar regions and cold temperate zone, but the tropics would be much warmer than freezing. And as far as heating this planet is concerned most of energy of the Sun is heating the tropics. So at least 80% of the world’s oceans would not freeze.

        But without at least 150 ppm of CO2, the plants die. Meaning no animals- just some microorganisms.

      • So Mike Flynn,

        According to you, over a 24 hour period, the net effect of CO2 in the atmosphere is a wash…no net cooling or net warming. Take all the CO2 out of atmosphere and nothing would happen. Is that your position?

      • R. Gates 12:13 pm.

        The maximum temperature on the Earth’s surface (all other things being equal, which they never are) would rise infinitesimally, the minimum would drop infinitesimally, due to the reduced insulating ability of the atmosphere.

        So yes, in essence. Of course, in the strict sense, one would have to account for things like Holders inequality (sorry, don’t know how to do umlauts). You may care to attempt the calculation, but please bear in mind that the “surface temperatures” climatologists use are not temperatures at the surface.

        Or you could attempt to calculate the R value of a standard column of atmosphere with and without the CO2. This is all fairly pointless, I think, as CO2 does exist in the atmosphere.

        It just doesn’t “warm the planet”.

        Live well and prosper.

        Mike Flynn.

      • ozzio, do you know how to calculate the equilibrium radiating temperature of a rotating spherical object with an albedo of 0.3 and an emissivity of 1 at earth’s distance from the sun? This is a physics problem. You need to know
        1. solar flux at that distance is 1370 W/m2
        2. Stefan-Boltzmann law (constant is 5.67e-8 in MKS units)
        3. geometry of a sphere (surface area to cross section ratio)

      • Jim D said, “1. solar flux at that distance is 1370 W/m2
        2. Stefan-Boltzmann law (constant is 5.67e-8 in MKS units)
        3. geometry of a sphere (surface area to cross section ratio)”
        4. Variation of Solar Flux with orbital change.
        5. Surface absorption variation with change in solar flux.
        6. Water vapor response to variation of surface absorption with changing solar flux.

        But what would really be helpful is what “average” really is?

        Average for the hemisphere with largest change in solar flux, largest percentage ocean heat uptake and least land surface area is more stable than the other which has the least impact on ocean heat up take, because it has the lowest percentage ocean area and the lowest average solar flux.

      • capt. dallas, I was trying to keep it easy for ozzio. He first has to understand the basic problem before adding insignificant wiggles to it, and I suspect he doesn’t because of his assertion about the temperature without GHGs.

      • Jim D,

        Yes I can. You might like to explain why I should waste any of my time performing a trivial calculation which has little, if anything, to do with reality.

        But on WarmistWorld, denial is the norm, and reality is rejected.

        You might care to calculate how many years elapsed before the Earth’s surface cooled to 400K, and then to 300K. From there, you can obviously calculate the lowest point the Earth’s surface temperature reached, and when it started to warm again.

        For all I know, it may be that Warmist dogma holds that the Earth was created with a surface temperature of 255K or thereabouts, and has warmed itself due to the magical properties of CO2.

        If you have difficulty comprehending the difference between warming and cooling, and the radiative physics involved, all you have to do is ask. The average 10 year old can understand the concepts within 30 minutes. You should have no trouble.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • ozzio, so your explanation of why the temperature is 288 K instead of 255 K is what? I saw no physics in your diatribe, or did you say it has been cooling since prehistoric times when actually it was cooler more recently like the ice ages. I couldn’t tell where your 400 K came from. Are you one of the people who doesn’t think downward longwave radiation flux exists, or one who believes in it but thinks it is not absorbed at the surface?

      • Jim D 9:52

        I am not sure to which “diatribe” you refer. Could you be a little more specific?

        However, I am not sure whether you accept that the Earth had a surface temperature of some thousands of Kelvins shortly after its creation or not.

        If you don’t accept that the Earth has cooled since then, I assume you have more knowledge of thermodynamics than I.

        But in any case, you seem to assume that the Earth’s mean surface temperature has risen since the last “Ice Age”. There are many problems with this assumption.

        1. It is impossible to measure the Earth’s “mean surface temperature” or anything like it, due to the inability to define the surface in any meaningful way, the lack of suitable measuring equipment, and the constantly changing lithosphere, aquasphere, biosphere and atmosphere.

        2. The external radiation sources (the main one being the Sun) vary in intensity from moment to moment, as does the position of the Earth in relation to the Sun, and and the presentation of the sunlit surface of the Earth, and the earthlit surface of the Sun to each other.

        3. Your assumption that an “Ice Age” resulted from a reduction in the energy content of the Earth, and was everywhere demonstrated on the surface, is an extraordinary one, and would require extraordinary evidence. To date, I have sighted none.

        My 400 K was an arbitrary selection – it could have just as easily been 380 K, or 420 K – pick any figure on the way from the Earth’s surface temperature at creation to that which obtains at the present, and it will be obvious that the actual temperature of the Earth’s surface was higher in the past than now.

        As to your last comment – my slight knowledge of physics indicates that all matter above 0 K emits EMR. If you wish to call EMR emitted by the gases and particulate matter comprising the atmosphere “downward longwave radiation flux”, then feel free to do so. And yes, EMR is indeed absorbed by the surface. If you believe that this will result in a rise in temperature, you may be mistaken.

        A block of ice emits EMR. A very large block of ice may contain a large amount of energy, and be emitting large amounts of radiation. This is physics, but maybe not as you know it. The block of ice will not cause an increase in temperature of ground that is not frozen.

        The atmosphere emits quite a lot of radiation. Like the ice, it will not raise the temperature of anything warmer than itself. It may slow the rate of cooling, but that is not an increase in temperature.

        But I digress. We obviously have a different perception about physics.

        If you believe that the Earth was created cold, and has since warmed up, then I accept your faith. If you believe it was created hot, then cooled, then increased its surface temperature, I once again accept your faith.

        In other words, the faithful do not need physics. There is only one small problem with “the world is warming . . .” – it isn’t, even according to the Warmists. The best they can do is say “Well, the lack of warming is only temporary.”


        Live well and prosper.

        Mike Flynn.

      • ” But I digress. We obviously have a different perception about physics.”

        Yes, some of us understand physics, you and most skeptics don’t.

      • BaitedBreath

        Ozzie, I don’t think it is the case that the CO2 ‘blanket’ keeps the earth warm the same way a blanket keeps a person warm, ie by being an insulator. It works by capturing reflected LW radiation and sending some of it back down again.

      • Baited Breath,

        An insulator is an insulator. The Warmist physics of denial cannot change this.

        If you have difficulty understanding the relationships between electromagnetic radiation, energy, heat, etc., after a bit of research, please feel free to clarify any particular problems you may have.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn

      • BaitedBreath

        You avoid the point Ozzie, which is that is is not the fact that CO2 is an insulator (which noone denies), that results in it warming the earth. It is the back radiation. (Possibly a bit of both actually).

      • BaitedBreath,

        The Earth is not warming. Insulation slows the rate of energy exchange between non contiguous bodies, nothing more, nothing less.

        Every body above 0K emits EMR. The atmosphere is no exception.

        It doesn’t matter whether you call it front, back, or sideways radiation. You can delude yourself that Nitrogen at 288K is not emitting radiation, whilst CO2 is. What do you think you are measuring when you measure “air temperature”?

        Warmists are in denial of reality. The cult of AGW is rapidly losing adherents – no great loss.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • BaitedBreath:

        There is a feedback loop wherein an increase in the intensity of the back radiation is offset by a correcponding increase in the intensity of the convective heat flux, maintaining the lapse rate at the adiabatic lapse rate. Thus, although the intensity of the back radiation increases with the CO2 concentration there is not a warming effect from it.

      • BaitedBreath

        So you’re saying that increased CO2, leading to increased back radiation, has no effect on temperature, due to this offsetting effect? Where does the heat from the increased back radiation end up then?

      • BaitedBreath:

        You can think of a heat flux as a vector, that is, a quantity that has a magnitude and a direction. Roughly speaking, at a point in Earth’s surface or elsewhere in the troposphere, the back radiation is a vector pointing downward. The convective heat flux is a vector facing upward. The net effect upon the transfer of heat from the two vectors is the vector that is the vector sum of the two vectors; the vector sum is a kind of heat flux.

        The vector sum is a vector pointing upward whose magnitude is the magnitude of the convective heat transfer vector less the magnitude of the back radiation vector. You can prove to yourself that if an increase in the magnitude of the back radiation vector is matched by an identical increase in the magnitude of the convective heat transfer vector, the effect upon the vector sum is nil. Thus, to answer your question, the additional heat doesn’t go anywhere because there isn’t any.

        In Judith Curry’s blog, there is an interesting post on this topic by Nullius in Verba. According to Nullius, professional climatologists muddied the waters by offering up the “back radiation” theory of global warming for public consumption when they knew this was not a possible mechanism. Nice guys, eh?

      • BaitedBreath

        Once again you completely avoid the point at hand.

      • BaitedBreath

        But if the extra heat from the extra CO2 isn’t leaving the atmosphere, the atmosphere should warm up surely. Which it isn’t, anymore. So something doesn’t quite add up…? Do you want to say CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas ?

      • BaitedBreath:

        It sounds as though you’ve developed an intuitive impression of thermodynamics and heat transfer and that this impression is a bit off the mark. In thermodynamics, the “heat” is the energy that crosses the boundary. It follows from this definition of the word “heat” that when a pair of heat flux vectors point in opposing directions and their magnitudes increase by identical amounts, the heat flux (the vector sum of the two vectors) is unchanged.

        That this heat flux is unchanged does not prove escalating CO2 concentrations cause no warming. It only shows that the mechanism is not the accompanying increase in the magnitude of the back radiation.

        By the way, a stumbling block to reading and understanding the climatological literature is that a lot of climatologists use the word “heat” in a way that differs from the usage of this word in thermodynamics. Under this usage, “heat” flows up a temperature gradient disturbing people who know it can’t do that.

      • BaitedBreath

        Thanks. OK, I do get the vector sum being zero idea : some heat flowing down for reason A, being cancelled out by the same amount of heat going up for reason B.
        But if increased CO2 is assumed to cause increased warming, surely it must show up SOMEwhere ?

      • BaitedBreath

        I recommend that you track down and read Nullius in Verba’s post to Judith’s blog as it is very enlightening. In addition to debunking increases in the magnitude of the back radiation as the mechanism for warming, he presents what he says is the mechanism that is understood by professional climatologists to produce the possibility of warming. In brief, the effect from the additional CO2 is to raise the effective altitude from which outgoing photons leave for outer space, thus lowering the effective emission temperature. Lowering the temperature lowers the heat flux and the Earth warms until the outgoing heat flux balances the incoming heat flux.

      • BaitedBreath,

        I apologise if you thought that my comments offended you. I assume that you accept Terry Oldberg’s explanation.

        Sometimes looking at a problem from a couple of different perspectives can bring clarity. I’m sorry my explanation didn’t help.

        Live well and prosper.

        Mike Flynn.

    • “If you think you can heat up something by surrounding it with gas, please let me your method. “

      Typical Luddite skeptic, with no appreciation for the understanding of why CO2 gas is vital to the way that blast furnaces for smelting operate efficiently and how infrared gas lasers create thermalized population inversions. I really don’t understand how or why the Luddite tendencies emerge but they always seem to show a hatred for western science and technology.

      • WebHubTelescope,

        A comment which could be construed to demonstrate a typical Warmist response. Luddite, Trotskyite, catamite – why not throw in a reference to a holocaust while you are at it.

        If you addressed my points with some relevant facts, I might change my mind.

        I haven’t got the faintest idea how or why your comments about blast furnaces or infrared gas lasers are supposed to relate to my comments. Nor I suspect, does anybody else. I could be wrong.

        Live well and prosper.

        Mike Flynn.

      • The engineering utility of a noncondensing triatomic molecule. As a byproduct of the other engineering marvel, the hydrocarbon, it has gotten a little out of control.

      • who designed these devices anyway?

      • Basic research invented the CO2 infrared gas laser, K.Patel at Bell Labs in the early 1960’s. This was around the same time that Bell Labs was creating educational films to warn against climate change:

        If you don’t think that scientists and engineers have understood the infrared thermalization properties of CO2 for a long time, you are terribly misinformed.

      • It is great to see that hysterical extremism really has existed in history, as I have pointed out many times.

      • andrew adams


        Are you saying that CO2 lasers don’t really exist? That they are a myth put around by hysterical extremists?

      • WebHubTelescope,

        OK, I know that CO2 and H2O gases are both useful and essential.

        I have of course assumed that these were the triatomic molecules (gee, big words – I’m impressed!) to which your comment referred.

        And yes, I am aware of various types of lasers. Thank you anyway.

        Your point is?

        Live sell and prosper.

        Mike Flynn.

  23. 3 very interesting articles and 3 very different approaches to the sensitivity issue. A few thoughts– ultimately it is the equilibrium response that we care about to any given forcing. It is of course absolutely true that the Earth is never in equilibrium as it is always responding to some sort of external forcing, from faster solar to the very much slower Milankovitch cycles, but all we care about is the equilibrium response to some given increase (or decrease) in CO2. Of course there is always natural variability in the system, and parsing this out of the signal you are looking for can be done with increasing accuracy to get back to the forcing signal you are looking for (i.e. Foster & Rahmstorf 2011). So, keeping everything else relatively constant and filtering out short-term ENSO, solar, aerosols, etc, what does some increase or decrease in CO2 do to the planets energy storage and balance over the long-term?. Given the nature of the non-linear system that climate is, with interrelated positive and negative feedbacks, no equation can tell you what you need to know about this equilibrium response. Climate models simply won’t give you the full story The really reasonable approach is to try and look at what the climate has done with a given increase or decrease in the past, and then perhaps, combined with climate models, you can begin to zero in on a better estimate of the ECR for some given increase or decrease in CO2. In this regard, Hansen seems to be on the right track, and other approaches probably could be improved by incorporating some paleoclimate data where all the nonlinear responses are, by definition, already included.

    • If the equillibrium climate response is not going to occur, why do we care about it? It is a misleading scientific abstraction with no practical or policy relevance.

      • Moreover, this concept of a signal is merely a metaphor for an effect. But if climate is a far from equillibruim (chaotic) system the it will oscillate with no discernible cause and forcings need have no discernible effect, both due to the butterfly effect.

      • You realize, of course that the “butterfly effect” is a non-observable, don’t you?

        And the climate is always trying to get to the equilibrium position, even though it can never get there because the forcings are always changing.

        Saying the climate is far from equilibrium is just wrong.

      • Wojick should stay away from teaching. Saying that an equilibrium climate response “is a misleading scientific abstraction with no practical or policy relevance” is way off the mark.

        The transient climate response will follow a Fickian temporal behavior. This is related to how quickly a steady state can be achieved given a dispersive/diffusive (i.e. random walk) uptake of excess heat to effect a temperature change in a high thermal capacity heat sink (i.e. the ocean).

        The truth is that the approach to the equilibrium is only asymptotic, as the fat tails of a Fickian response preclude this from happening within a few time constants, as would occur with an exponential response.

      • David Wojick

        Bob, the butterfly effect is a mathematical property, so you have to look at the math, not the data. There are several ways of doing this. As for the claim that “the climate is always trying to get to the equilibrium position,” this sounds wonderfully Aristotelian, like objects wanting to fall. Science is a little different today.

        Far from equilibrium is a technical term for chaotic. That climate is thus is well known, but the scale is unclear and CAGW proponents avoid the issue. Such systems oscillate with no external forcing. It is entirely possible that all the warming and cooling are due to the chaotic interplay of nonlinear feedbacks, under constant solar forcing.

      • David Wojick

        Web, I will see your Fickian conjecture and raise you two Lyapunov exponents. I presume you know nothing about nonlinear dynamics. I never heard of Fickian temporal behavior but a Google Scholar search suggests it has to do with diffusion, which is not what climate dynamics are about, or not much.

      • David Wojick

        By the way, Web, in terms of what I know, I lectured on nonlinear dynamics at the Naval Research Lab 22 years ago, trying to get the scientists to see the possibilities with the new science. And you?

        But none of this has to do with my K-12 climate debate curriculum project.

      • David Wojick

        A slight correction Bob. There is in data what is called the footprint of chaos, and it is everywhere in climate data. But it is merely diagnostic, not definitive. It is a bi-polar distribution in which the means is rare.

        Saying the butterfly effect is not observable is a great joke. That is after all the point of the butterfly effect. The differences that determine system behavior are too small to be observable, which makes the behavior intrinsically unpredictable, even though completely determined.

      • You realize, of course that the “butterfly effect” is a non-observable, don’t you?

        Sort of like the greenhouse effect in our atmosphere, right?


      • BaitedBreath

        David Wojick | May 11, 2012 at 8:33 am
        If the equilibrium climate response is not going to occur, why do we care about it? It is a misleading scientific abstraction with no practical or policy relevance

        Applying the same thinking to markets : does the fact that a price never settlea at some equilibrium point, mean that we don’t care about how it gets where it is ? Of course not.

      • BaitedBreath:

        The focus by climatologists on the equilibrium temperature has had a disastrous downside. This is that these climatologists have constructed their inquiry into global warming around this quantity but it is not an observable. A consequence is for their inquiry to lack a scientific methodology, for the claims of their models cannot be tested. The IPCC claims the inquiry to be scientific but this claim is false and misleading.

        A step that would have to be taken to join the inquiry to science would be to replace the equilibrium temperature with something observable, for example, a temperature. The average over a specified period of time could be used and this quantity has some of the characteristics of the equilibrium temperature while also being observable. Tentatively, the period of averaging would be 30 years, for this is the period that is canonical for climatology according to the World Meteorological Organization.

    • R Gates – but if the ECR operates on a centuries-long time scale, it is one thing to say we *care* scientifically but what do we *care* about in terms of determining whether we need to adapt/mitigate?

    • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

      R Gates: A few thoughts– ultimately it is the equilibrium response that we care about to any given forcing.

      Not necessarily. If the equilibrium response requires thousands of years to occur and the fossil fuel store of the world is exhausted in 70 years, then the equilibrium response is of no concern. Replacing fossil fuels before they are exhausted is much more important.

      • If the equilibrium response requires thousands of years to occur and the fossil fuel store of the world is exhausted in 70 years, then the equilibrium response is of no concern.

        Two mighty big “IFs”

        But you are right. All the very optimistically estimated fossil fuel resources left on our planet (assuming we’ve only used up around 15% of the overall total to date and 85% are still in the ground) would only get us to a bit more than 1000 ppmv CO2 in the atmosphere some time 200 years or so from today.


      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Max: Two mighty big “IFs”

        We have a lot of mighty big IFs in this debate. It is most helpful when people write them explicitly (as most people on this site do, though not always.)

      • You are probably in the ballpark on this one, and David Rutledge, who recently posted on Climate Etc has carefully evaluated the contribution of coal, which will end up contributing the largest percentage of carbon.

        Yet if you want to get freaked out, many of us are laughing about this figure:
        The methane hydrates if all combusted will add ten times the amount of CO2 that we will get from conventional oil.

        What is probably the most incredulous part of this figure is that the methane hydrates are so geospatially widespread that the cumulative number seems either seriously underestimated or else that the actual methane hydrates will have such a low density that the “harvesting” of the hydrates will involve the most technically impressive efforts that mankind has ever produced.

        Think about it, if we only extract 1/100th of the area shown, and if the hydrates are uniformly spread out, then we go from a resource that is only 1/10 the amount of oil. Yet can anyone imagine harvesting even 1/100 of the shaded area? That is just an insanely monumental project.

    • R. Gates:

      I favor a scientific approach to the inquiry into global warming; I’m not sure that you do. A scientific approach necessarily excludes speculations about the equilibrium response for their lack of falsifiability but includes reference to the statistical population for it is by this reference that the scientific method’s requirement for falsifiability is satisfied. Currently, there is no such population. If you, like me, favor a scientific approach please join me in calling for the identification of this population by the climatological community.

      • BaitedBreath

        Terry Oldberg | May 17, 2012 at 10:42 pm
        A scientific approach … includes reference to the statistical population for it is by this reference that the scientific method’s requirement for falsifiability is satisfied…please join me in calling for the identification of this population by the climatological community.

        By this do you mean attempting to account for all the other forcings, both natural and man-made, so that any CO2 effect can be ascertained? ( similar to Foster & Rahmsdorf?)

      • BaitedBreath:

        The elements of the statistical population would be independent events, each having an observable outcome. As the equilibrium global surface temperature is not an observable, it is not a candidate. As the global surface temperature is an observable, it is a candidate. It would be in keeping with the traditions of climatology for the outcome to be defined as the 30 year average of the global surface temperature. With this as the outcome, the model builder would be faced with the necessity for dealing with all possible forcings plus phenomena of the climate that are not reducable to cause and effect relations. In other words, the model builder would have to deal with the real world.

  24. Leonard Weinstein

    The continued argument of finding sensitivity based just on CO2 increase (plus positive feedback) and the possible maximum effect of solar intensity change seem to be locked into the last 100 to 150 years of data, or on glacial to interglacial transitions, where CO2 generally lagged temperature change. The argument that positive feedback from the CO2 rise then boosted the change to a higher level, assumes nothing else explains the magnitude of level change. There clearly is a limited understanding on the process, and using ignorance of other possible causes is no excuse to limit effects to those two. The assumptions of all other feed-backs averaging out to near zero has no so supported physical basis.

    However, a more important point is the fact that the best evidence shows there were periods (which appear to be global) of the present interglacial which were about as warm (and some likely warmer) as the present, and some cooler periods, like the long one just preceding the present warm period. The point is those temperature variations were not associated with CO2 variations. Just using possible solar intensity variation also could not explain these. The presence of Viking ruins just now being uncovered in Greenland (and even the name) clearly indicated that at least that region was warmer about 1000 or so years ago than present. Records from many sites in the Northern hemisphere clearly show this warm period (and others) and following cool period existed at least over that hemisphere. The lower amount of data for the Southern hemisphere is mainly due to less land, but what little data there is basically also supports global variation. If this cool period (generally called the Little Ice Age) in fact was unusual, rather than the more common warmer periods, why do you believe that the warming had to be the unusual event?

    There are several plausible alternate causes of temperature variation to just CO2 with positive feedback, and direct variation in solar insolation. These could include very long ocean cycles (why do you restrict your thinking to just decade or a few decade variation?), since the oceans have such large temperature variations and such large heat capacity. The solar effects include not only simple intensity variation, but also larger changes in spectral response, affecting UV, and thus Ozone formation. The magnetic field change of both Earth and the Sun may affect solar wind effects, and possibly GCR, which may affect clouds. In addition, as Roger Pielke Sr. keeps pointing out, other human activity, especially land management (deforestation, farming, and large scale construction), are significant factors. In addition, the total effect of clouds and aerosols are far from understood completely enough to make claims of no net effect.

    In spite of all of the previous points, the issue continues to be considered as being able to approximated by simple linear analysis. This assumption for multidimensional non-linear initial and boundary optical and thermal (and chemical) equations, with inadequate resolution of data, that are purely chaotic within physically imposed maximum bounds, is nonsense on the face of it.

  25. “all we care about is the equilibrium response to some given increase (or decrease) in CO2.”

    Are you saying that we don’t care about the dynamic path by which we go from T(now) to T(equilibrium)? Who is this “we” and what sort of dynamic stochastic social welfare function do “they” have?

    • This was meant to be a comment on R. Gates | May 10, 2012 at 10:11 pm.

    • NW,

      We care very much about the dynamic path whereby we get to equilibrium temperature, however, because that path is part of a nonlinear process involving as it were, as system exhibiting chaos, our models will never be able to completely predict that path. Far better to use the paleo-climate record to see what the Earth has done in the past with such high CO2 levels, especially in regard to the slower feedbacks which must all work themselves out to equilibrium to establish the final temperature. Better still would be to use a combination of the paleo-climate record and models, and I think Hansen makes a persuasive case for such an approach. This approach is making the study of the Pliocene, somewhere around 3 to 3.3.MYA an attractive target, though, a case can be made that this might not be far enough back if we start getting above 600 to 1000 ppm, we’d probably be looking at an equilibrium response that (after many centuries) could melt Antarctica, and such a condition would take us back to the early Miocene, maybe around 18-20 MYA. To see this a bit more graphically, see:

  26. Would someone (Mosher? Bueller?) please give me feedback on a question? I would like to know if we actually believe we understand the inputs, processes and outputs that drive ‘equilibrium climate sensitivity?’ Freeman Dyson sure didn’t think so a year ago. If we do understand them, to what level of granularity? Are scientists confident about what they say regarding ECS?

  27. in the context of AGW theory, reason requires that we must try to explain why anyone would choose a scant contributor as the cause of a non-existent peril in the first place. It is only by virtue of this sort of analysis that we may alight upon some common ground of understanding and discover if we are in fact even dealing with matters of the physical world at all.

  28. What I would really like is for one of our more technically gifted denizens to put the humongous differences between Hanson and Sato (on the one hand) and Gillett et al. and Held (on the other) into plain language, in terms of either critical differences in assumptions, methodology or definitions (the latter papers seem to be about TCR while the former is about something else, “fast feedback CS,” whatever that may be). And not only that, but what (if anything) are common background assumptions for the three groups of authors. It would help to know what the shooting is about.

    • Are you looking for a better explanation than polar bears will fall from the sky if schoolteachers do not take control of the economy and that all SUVs and coal-fired power plants must be crushed and turned into bullet trains that run on wind and solar power or rivers will run red?

      • Wag, baby, those are (alleged) consequences and (alleged) control variables. Neither of which I am looking for. :) I would just like to know how, exactly, these illustrious teams of authors reach such different conclusions about TCR (or whatever). I can supply my own consequences and political economy of the game, thank you very much.

      • They may seem like different conclusions but in reality thay are in their scheme of things all unified under the One, the Monophysical Element –CO2 — which in the church of Warmanism has mystical powers not seen in nature but are Oh so real to the prophets of doomsday and Thermageddon.

  29. Kriging manipulated land data to manufacture GCMs that act like rigged 8 balls is either voodoo statistics or a knowing and wilful fraud. Global warming is nothing more than a hoax and a scare tactic. It’s all a sting.

  30. Regarding climate sensitivity, it seems one has some understanding of how warm earth could become. It seems the people like Hansen and others dream of earth frying in the future [having to take refuge in the Antarctic] don’t see a limit to how warm Earth could get. They think Earth could be similar to Venus.
    One thing which could useful is attempting to model the climate of Venus if Venus was in Earth’s orbital distance.
    Another thing helpful is having a greater understanding climate on earth in the past.
    The point is that if Earth could get to temperatures as warm has during many past interglacial period. And you in an ice age, one might accurate if you thought it was possible to get 5 or 10 degree increases in global temperature. And it could happen within relatively short time period.
    So if only Hansen was a big game hunter living off Mammoth, he would be visionary.

    If look at history climate of planet earth, you would know the average temperature of last tens of million of year has been cold and that even during the warm interglacial period it has cool relative to most of Earth history. The reason we been in cold period could have something to do with the sun, or possible the galactic space we passing thru, or some other reasons. But very plausible contributor or primary cause is position of the earth’s continents- notably the position of the Antarctic. But also having arctic sea enclosed with land masses. So continental positions in earth, are one plausible reason we cooler. And the reason cycles of interglacial and ice age periods are related precession of earth orbit- and reason such changes in orbit have significant affect is also related to positions of the Continents. Since the continents are not moving very fast, we will at some point enter cooling period and live tens thousands years in much cooler climate.
    If we built huge space mirrors and wanted to warm earth average temperature by say 5 C, and did this. We would need to keep the mirrors warming the planet, otherwise if we no longer used the mirrors, the planet would cool.

  31. It is great to see Judith’s critical comments about the usefulness of the simple naive concept of climate sensitivity. Almost everything from the JC Comments’ heading to the end is music to my ears. I and others have put very similar questions near the end of Tamsin Edwards’s recent post on A sensitive subject, particularly regarding whether the models level out (as suggested by Tamsin’s post), or if not, the timescale over which you average to get ‘the temperature’.

    The CS concept has various dubious implicit assumptions with it, such as (a) the idea that there is a constant ‘pre-industrial’ temperature, which we know is not true and (b) there is a linear one-to-one relationship between ‘the forcing’ and ‘the temperature’ (c) the assumption that past temperature changes were the direct result of some ‘forcing’ (d) In the case of the Hansen paper it seems to be assumed that the only ‘forcing’ is from GHGs.

    • Paul

      The notion that there is a ‘constant’ pre industrial temperature fills me with despair as we have so much evidence to the contrary. However, both the IPCC and the Met office believe this maxim and I think it can only come from Dr Mann’s original Hockey stick. I write articles pointing out the great variability of the climate during the Holocene but the official belief in a relatively constant temperature and constant co2 level until recent times is deeply embedded in official science. There is a parallel belief that modern weather occurrences are ‘unprecedented’ and these three beliefs feed off each other.

      • It comes from the linguistic hockey stick (climate change, global warming). If you repeat it long enough, people start believing it.

    In order to correctly estimate the CO2 sensitivity it is necessary to first eliminate TSI variability.
    Current reference is the ‘historical reconstruction of TSI based on that of Wang, Lean, and Sheeley (The Astrophysical Journal, 625:522-538, 2005 May 20) using a flux transport model to simulate the Sun’s magnetic flux, with those annual values provided courtesy of J. Lean.’
    Take a good look at the graph
    (also note: The values from their model have been offset -4.8741 W/m^2 to match the SORCE/TIM measurements.. )
    so far so good:
    From miniscule 400 year period changes in the TSI, it can be ‘correctly’ concluded that such minor changes are irrelevant and can’t be responsible for the MWP, LIA and modern warming epoch.
    the IPCC quote:
    Figure 2.17. Reconstructions of the total solar irradiance time series starting as
    early as 1600. The upper envelope of the shaded regions shows irradiance variations
    arising from the 11-year activity cycle. The lower envelope is the total irradiance
    reconstructed by Lean (2000), in which the long-term trend was inferred from brightness
    changes in Sun-like stars. In comparison, the recent reconstruction of Y. Wang
    et al. (2005) is based on solar considerations alone, using a flux transport model to
    simulate the long-term evolution of the closed flux that generates bright faculae. page 190
    so far so good except for :
    using a flux transport model to simulate the Sun’s magnetic flux
    Assuming the reader has seen at least one of two above quoted graphs, let us compare this widely accepted reference for the TSI to the bi-decadal changes of the Earth’s magnetic field.
    From the second graph in the link showing percentage changes one could conclude:
    Since the Earth magnetic field can not change the incoming TSI, than we have Earth magnetic field has a sensitivity factor of 40to the incoming TSI.
    This is clearly nonsense. So what is going on here?
    – either most up to date solar science reference is a nonsense (likely: to simulate the Sun’s magnetic flux)
    – there is a sun-Earth magnetic connection not known to the modern science (possible)
    – just a coincidence (most unlikely)

  33. Let me start with a quote from our hostess “So what do sensitivity values derived from the equation S = ΔTeq/F actually mean? Not much, as far as I can tell.” All I can add is “Hear! Hear!”

    Several people have written on the point I am trying to make; I noticed Norm Kalmanovitch,Terry Oldberg, Wagathon and sunshinehours1. We have been getting excellent data on global temperatures in recent years, and have good data for over century. Surely the place to look for a CO2 signal from which to measure climate sensitivity is in modern/temperature time graphs. I have searched such graphs, and I cannot detect any sort of CO2 signa at alll. Yet we are told that CO2 levels are rising at an unprecedented rate.

    I cannot prove a negative. I can never prove that there is no CO2 signal in any modern temperature/time graph. But the fact that people from “The Team”, in furtherence of “The Cause”, are looking at places other than modern temperature/time graphs is surely a very strong indication, that no CO2 signal exists in any modern data set.

    The climate sensitivity for a doubling of CO2 from current levels is, to me, clearly indistinguishable from zero.

  34. Joe's World


    Do we actually know how sensitive our planet is?
    Do we (as individuals with individual interests) understand the vastness of this issue?
    We NEED to know if what we are measuring and observing is correct.
    Yet we use technology for measuring pressure that is of a different density than our atmosphere.
    How can this tell us what we observe is in conflict with our measurements?

    You cannot find errors if you believe absolutely the experts have not made any mistakes.
    When you stand outside our current box of science and how we are at this current state, you start to understand that observed science and theories and laws did not account for ANY parameters unobserved.
    This puts science and our experts into “One hell of a mess”…Hmmm sort of reminds me of uncertainty when measurement were never taken or taken into consideration. Than all kind of theories come up on the chaos of this system ONLY because it NEVER was understood in the first place as all the experts slammed the doors to anything outside their comfort zone of promoting uncertainty when they really mean “we have no idea what is happening”.

  35. Tomas Milanovic

    aS = ΔTeq/F

    This is just a definition formula and as such it is tautologically true.
    The real and interesting questions are 3.
    1) Does S exist?
    2) If it does, is S unique?
    3) Is S relevant for the system’s dynamics?

    It is possible to have elements of answers on these questions. First it is necessary to clearly and unambiguously define the 2 numbers : ΔTeq and F.
    F is easiest. It is a flux condition on some boundary surface Ω and can be expressed by F(Ω,t).
    As we know that a heat flux through a surface is given by n.grad(T), giving F consists to fix the space derivatives of the temperature field at some boundary surface so that it is equal to F(Ω,t) which in this particular case is set to be a Heavyside function – H(Ω,t) = F for t>0 and H(Ω,t) = 0 for t<0.

    ΔTeq is more difficult. It can be expressed by : [T(∞,x), F(Ω,t)=H(Ω,t)] – [T(∞,x), F(Ω,t)=0] where :
    T(∞,x) is the limit of T(t,x) when the time goes to infinity. T(x,t) is the value of the temperature field at a location x and time t.
    So now it clearly appears that the 3 questions related to S are questions related to T(∞,x).

    Does this limit exist? Observation tells us that it doesn’t. Indeed if the solution T(x,t) is decomposed in a Fourier series, we see that there are many peaks in powers. The high power frequencies range from days through years to decades and up to Milankovitch cycles. T(x,t) is pseudo periodic on all scales. And a pseudo periodic function doesn’t admit limits. Applying frequency filters doesn’t help because even if a limit of a filtered function existed, it wouldn’t still say anything about the real (e.g unfiltered) function.

    Even if one admitted that a limit exists despite the fact that observation is saying that it doesn’t, it wouldn’t be unique. Indeed the difference defining ΔTeq is a difference between the limits of 2 solutions T(x,t) which differ ONLY by a flux boundary condition on a surface.
    So if one admits that T(x,t) is a solution of some (unknown) system of PDE (Partial Differential Equations), it is known that a system where only a flux condition is prescribed has an infinity of solutions. Among others the initial conditions must be prescribed for the whole domain (e.g bulk) if one wanted a unique solution.
    This can be readily seen if one imagines solving for an Earth with a Gulf Stream at t=0 and an Earth without a Gulf Stream at t=0. With the same flux conditions at some surface, the temperature fields (solutions) would be very different. This is a simple consequence of the fact that prescribing only derivatives is not enough to determine uniquely a function.

    One can conclude from the above that S can’t play any relevant role in the system’s dynamics because it doesn’t exist and filtered solutions, if they existed, would not be unique. Another empirical hint that a unique S doesn’t exist is given by the observation that over the last 100 years about 1/3 of T(x,t) decreased while about 2/3 increased. This demonstrates that there must be a large number of non linear processes which strongly couple the local fields. And because space matters, the definition of S doesn’t even lead to an agreement on the sign of S which is variable with x.
    Of course and trivially, eliminating x by filtering doesn’t give any useful local information about the fields.
    Pretty much by definition.

    • Excellent as usual Thomas

    • Engineers aren’t swayed by fancy dribbling. All that matters is the energy balance.

      • Strictly speaking what the equation seems to care about is deltaT at the earths surface. Presumably you are pointing to an energy imbalance in the whole system.

      • The imbalance should oscillate naturally, based oneverything thatbis going on.

      • The way that this gets modeled in a diffusional master equation is that we create an arbitrary interface that serves as the entry point for heat. We can suggest that this interface lies on a subsurface oceanic plane. The thermal energy that gets absorbed from solar insolation will randomly walk from this interface, mainly downward, as that is the direction of the thermal gradient. Some of that thermal energy will also escape upward to the atmosphere, but this will attain some effective steady-state as all we are concerned about is the net thermal entering the heat sink downward.

        This approach is not that much different than compartmental slab models of thermal diffusion, which are generally computed as finite element calculations on a set of planes (i.e. a set of planar slabs).

        What I am exploring is replacing that grid with a dispersive diffusional approximation that enables some of the math to be worked out analytically. I like this approach because it gives someone extra intuition as to what is happening and not get buried or lost in the numerical results. For example, much of the resulting analytical expressions involve square root and exp/logarithmic factors which are convenient for modeling. To be specific, many of the plots that James Hansen showed in his early 1980’s papers show a behavior that is easily understood from analytical expressions that I am working out.

        “Strictly speaking what the equation seems to care about is deltaT at the earths surface. Presumably you are pointing to an energy imbalance in the whole system.”

        When the energy imbalance in the whole system goes to zero, the dynamic transients not associated with spatio-temporal effects approach zero asymptotically. Like I said, I am really looking at the interface temperature value, because this is the most convenient for tracking conservation of thermal energy.

      • WHT – show us your model for how clouds affect the energy balance.

      • I would start out with an abstract model that says that the albedo effect of the clouds has to have a relationship to the mean global temperature.

        With a mean global temperature increase, the partial pressure of H2O increases (100% likelihood). This increase will add to the GHG effect.

        With a temperature increase, the possibility of increasing density of clouds likely also increases. This increase will subtract from the GHG effect, and replace it with an albedo effect.

        Also we would need a model for cloud coverage. One of the interesting papers is by Yuan, “Cloud macroscopic organization: order emerging from randomness”. Clouds never completely cover the sky, and the patchiness is easily calculated by standard nucleation and growth models.

        So the overall model would be a GHG effect that accounts for the clear areas in the sky with increasing CO2, and then an albedo effect that factors in the cloud coverage with increasing temperature.

    • I hope our hostess has seen and understood this message from Tomas. I wish I understood physics that well, so I could write this sort of stuff. To me, it is so obviuosly correct that I cannot understand why people still persist in the nonsense that it is possible to go from a change of forcing to a change of surface temperature.

      • Jim Cripwell | May 11, 2012 at 9:11 am |

        That’s hilarious!

        “I didn’t understand a thing he said, but I agree completely!”


      • Bart R. writes ““I didn’t understand a thing he said, but I agree completely!”
        As I have remarked before, people being rude to me has no effect whatsoever; I have a hide like a rhinoceros. But I wish you would read more carefully what I wrote. I never said that I did not understand what Tomas wrote. I understand completely what he wrote. What I tried to say was that I wish my knowledge of physics was good enough that I could have written what he wrote. Had I tried, then I am sure you would have had a field day pointing out all my mistakes. But when Tomas writes it, it is completely understandable, and obviously correct.

      • The problem was that what he wrote did not get to the fundamental fact that an imbalance in energy will lead to a temperature change. Now if what he said included that (1) albedo changes or (2) GHG changes compensated somehow for the energy imbalance, then I would agree with what he said.

        Here is a bizarre scenario that would suggest how this would happen. Say that a CO2 rise had the effect that some of the CO2 precipitated out and created a mirror-glass finish on all of the earth’s surfaces. If that were to happen, the majority of the sun’s radiation would be reflected and the temperature would drop. That would be a conventional negative feedback and an increase in CO2 would work in the opposite direction to that as a GHG.

        Yet, he didn’t say that and instead did a lot of fancy dribbling to effectively say that dynamical behavior can mask the underlying changes.

        He could have mentioned the cloud albedo effect but that is also a difficult one to rationalize. An increase in temperature leads to more water vapor in the air, which is a strong GHG, but the thinking is that the extra water vapor goes into higher density clouds instead of low density dispersed molecules. In that case, there has to be a critical point or, more likely a continuum, at which the vapor ceases to be a GHG and starts to have reflective properties. At the Earth’s current temperature, the water vapor is on-balance a GHG as it is needed to explain the 33 degree C temperature imbalance. Will this change with a few extra degrees of ambient temperature, and suddenly the water vapor turns into a net-negative-GHG?

        That is one of the climate sensitivity questions, and along with the ocean’s heat sink properties, is what needs to be addressed, and not this tangential spatio-temporal motion. That all gets dissipated as heat anyways, and so we look at the heat-sink and the energy balance arguments to account for the asymptotic dynamics.

        What Tomas ought to do is come up with a trivial model to show what he is getting at. I can come up with a dispersive diffusion model to show how the temperature of a large thermal capacity object will tend temporally toward a steady-state value that will effectively balance the incoming radiation imbalance. That is freakin’ obvious and I don’t need Tomas to spell it out for me.

      • Web, the fundamental fact the at the energy imbalance will lead to some warming is not an issue. The issue is that as the energy imbalance changes the various responses in the system will change.

        That is my new favorite chart. Based on that one reconstruction, the instrumental period started on a low note that began in 1400AD. So there was possible a 500 year energy imbalance due to natural forcing most likely. The ocean response is much slower than the atmosphere, so the slow steady rise from 1816 is expected. The anthropogenic impacts add to the slope, but a significant portion could be due to LIA recovery. Once there is full recovery, the apparent climate sensitivity will change. Since the oceans do have a measurable response to solar that is delayed, a prolonged solar minimum will have a small impact in the tropical oceans primarily, which will be transported to the northern hemisphere and be amplified by the land surface percentage, GHG forcing and land use amplification of GHG forcing.

        There are a few engineering specialties that have to deal with non-linear dynamics. Those specialties can appreciate the complexity.

      • That’s garbage. There is no context there. I could also dig up a chart with no context.

      • Web, I thought the chart was pretty self explanatory. Instead of a comparison of overly smoothed instrumental data to overly smoothed paleo reconstructions it is just there ya go, a paleo reconstruction with all its gory details.

        Here is another,

        If you would like to replicate the chart to point out my flaws, here is the link to the data on the NOAA paleo website,

        Individually, most of the paleo reconstruction then to agree, it is warmer now than it was, because it was colder before. At what point man started having an impact is less obvious, but more pronounced in the northern hemisphere. Basing climate sensitivity on northern hemisphere data will result in a higher estimate of climate sensitivity. Discounting LIA recovery will result in a higher estimate of climate sensitivity. For some reason, current observations indicate that sensitivity is over estimated. If you compare the model estimates to the regional observations, you see where the sensitivity was over estimated.

        All models are wrong, but some are useful, only if you look at where and why they are wrong.

      • Except that what he wrote is not complete, ergo not correct, but not in an obvious way — though some spotted it right off — hence you did not understand it very well.

        Several possibilities were dismissed as undeclared assumptions.

    • > This is a simple consequence of the fact that prescribing only derivatives is not enough to determine uniquely a function.

      This could have some application in finance.

    • Tomas, I think ΔTeq should be defined as
      lim_{t->∞} (1/t) int_0^t T(t’) dt’
      ie a long time average. This limit is more likely to exist than T(∞,x).

      • Tomas Milanovic

        Paul Mathews

        This limit certainly exists because T is obviously bounded and it is a property of every bounded function.
        But it is not the definition of ΔTeq where “eq” goes for “equilibrium”. So ΔTeq is the difference between 2 equilibrium values and not between 2 averages.
        And you can certainly not use an infinite time average because it would be a unique number for the last 5 billions years (if one considers 5 billions years as almost infinite) even if we could have gone through N different “equilibriums” so N different ΔTeq.

      • Yes, of course, good point, the average is in general not an equilibrium. But this is apparently what the climate scientists do, according to the discussion at allmodelsarewrong.

    • bob droege

      S is not unique and Hansen says so in his (2005)paper, which he references in the above paper.

      And clearly, just because other factors infuence temperature, doesn’t mean that a response to CO2 doesn’t exist.

    • It is good to bring up Milankovitch cycles in this context, because if you calculate sensitivity between ice ages and interglacials, you get about 10 degrees per doubling of CO2. This is because not only GHGs but also albedo changed significantly, so we can argue that without albedo changes being so large (as relatively little ice is left), the sensitivity should be less than 10 degrees per doubling, but the positive feedback from sea-ice loss has not completely gone. But the sensitivity is very much a function of the initial state.

      • Jim D | May 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm |

        Climate sensitivity is like forgetting Mother’s Day.

        Sure, you _can_ do it, but the farther out from the date you get, the bigger the cost to you, and it’s not something you can easily unforget.

  36. I’ve always found it informative to let my browser seek out references for the word ‘equilibrium”, when a thread not discussing political science drifts into the realm of physical science. In the social sciences, this word would commonly be used, e.g., to describe a stable population, with births equaling deaths. Of course, it’s recognized that some sort of time-averaging is involved to mask fluctuations or deviations from ‘equilibrium’.

    In my world, ‘equilibrium’ is a thermodynamic concept – a system in a state of maximum entropy with unchanging averages for total entropy and free energy. Situations equivalent to that mentioned above are ‘steady-states’. For a true steady-state, entropy increases with time at a constant rate and free-energy decreases at a constant rate. The latter is called dissipation. Dissipation characterizes the fundamental difference between an equilibrium state and a steady state.

    To this physical scientist, the troposphere is basically a heat engine which dissipates thermal energy input at its warmer interface to the tune of 240W/m^2. The seminal equation of thermodynamics (Carnot/Clapeyron/Clausius) describes the relation between dissipated energy and boundary fluxes and temperatures. Without further assumption, a perturbation (forcing) of 3.7W/m^2 leads to a 1.5K temperature change in the nonlinear limit for which a temperature increase yields a positive, infinitesimal flux increase.

    It might be helpful to define what ‘equilibrium’ is to mean in the context of a relevant thread as the denizens herein do not seem to be speaking a common tongue.

    • Excellent as usual Quandam.

    • Equilibrium and steady state are both useful concepts to establish baselines to compare with the system performance. Neither would be true, but both useful as they are models. The linear definition of sensitivity is also a useful concept as a baseline. The problem is when these models are assumed to be “right”. All models are wrong, some etc..

      You can expand the model to define ideal limits. The perfect black body is one limit and what may be a perfect gray body would be another limit. The perfect gray body could be minimum entropy and the black body maximum entropy depending on your frame of reference. I used that to estimate a perfect gray body would have an emissivity of 0.5. The perfect black body would of course have emissivity equal to one.

      The TOA emissivity of Earth is ~0.61 and the emissivity of the actual surface is ~0.9962 with the emissivity of the air at two meters approximately 0.825. Any change in any forcing would have some impact on these emissivities. So you can use this change in the relative emissivities as a basic model.

      The key in a non-linear dynamic system is properly using the models which you know are wrong, to look for the anomalies, the differences, from the modeled performance.

    • There is equilibrium in a greenhouse. Even on a windy day. And, there is equilibrium outside a greenhouse. Even on a windy day.

    • “To this physical scientist, the troposphere is basically a heat engine which dissipates thermal energy input at its warmer interface to the tune of 240W/m^2.”

      Every minute of every day is 240W/m^2?

    • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

      Quondam: To this physical scientist, the troposphere is basically a heat engine which dissipates thermal energy input at its warmer interface to the tune of 240W/m^2.

      What do you mean by “basically”? 240W/m^2 is some sort of averaged value, where influx from the sun fluctuates with Earth’s motion and eflux from the top of the atmosphere is approximately proportion to T^4 and fluctuates quite a lot. There are few if any parts of the troposphere where the 240W/m^2 is accurate for any substantial length of time.

      Without further assumption,

      Are you implicitly assuming “All other things being equal”? For example, are you assuming no coast lines or islands? No variations in the hydrologic cycle from, say, the mid Sahara to the mid Mediterranian Sea?

      The Earth climate system is a high dimensional nonlinear dissipative system with fluctuating input. A simple introduction for thermodynamicists can be found in chapters 16-19 of “Modern Thermodynamics” by Dilip Kondepudi and Ilya Prigogine. Trying to understand such a system from spatio-temporal averages is a lost cause.

    • I looked into the meaning of “equilibrium” in the climatological literature. The word references a pair of concepts. One is the “equilibrium” of thermodynamics. The other is the “steady-state” of engineering. The “equilibrium temperature” of climatology is the “steady-state temperature” of engineering. Supposedly, if you increase the magnitude of a forcing, you get a correponding increase in the equilibrium temperature.

      • However Terry, “equilibrium” has a specific meaning in Thermodynamics.
        A simple question: Is the Pacific Ocean at equilibrium? Or to ask in a different way do the various gradients, temperature, salinity, pressure, e.t.c. represent the lowest possible energy state? If the answer is yes, then we can describe the system as an equilibrium in classical thermodynamic terms.

        However, what if the system is not at equilibrium, and has never been at equilibrium. Maybe the bottom is colder than the top because ice melt water is being continually supplied (as the PO2 would suggest).
        Thus the system is not at equilibrium, and the various gradients, temperature, salinity, pressure, e.t.c represent dynamic pseudo-steady states then one cannot apply classical equilibrium thermodynamics, the system is performing work.

      • DocMartyn:

        As you point out, “equilibrium” has a precise meaning in the language of thermodynamics. In the language of climatology, results from my research suggest that the word has an ambiguous meaning. In addition to referencing the idea of “equilibrium” in thermodynamics, the word references the idea of “steady-state” in engineering. A system that is at steady-state is not generally at thermodynamic equilibrium.

  37. If the climate were as sensitive as our AGW true believer friends believe, I think we would have fried a long time ago. But fear mongering and apocalyptic clap-trap has sold since the story of Noah and human nature has not changed since that old story was first told around a campfire.

  38. Nigel Fox highlights the high uncertainty in climate sensitivity between climate models and due to measurement uncertainty:
    TRUTHS: -Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial-and Helio-Studies: A benchmark mission for Climate and GMES
    See Slide 7 where Fox summarizes IPCC model predictions varying from 1.5 C to ~ 5.5 C rise by 2100 with the SAME historic data!

    All climate models reliably predict the past (nearly) but provide wide variances in their prediction of the future.
    Uncertainty in data/feedbacks limits ability to discriminate to ~ 30 yrs!!
    Need to test and constrain models with data more accurate than natural variability.

    That implies current data uncertainty is greater than natural variability – which may be much larger than anthropogenic forcing!
    (Lindzen, Idso etc models would be lower still.)
    Note almost all uncertainty is due to clouds (0.24/0.26), followed by water vapor lapse rate (0.09/0.26), with surface albedo a distant third (0.05/0.26).

    See Slide 8 highlighting feedbacks noting that the “largest uncertainty in model predictions due to feedbacks”.

  39. Michael Hart

    If the climate [as appears] is being described as a simple system with a single sensitivity value related to displacement from a theoretical equilibrium point, then it becomes valid to ask the questions:
    1) “Where does the equilibrium point lie?”, and
    2) “Which side of this equilibrium does the climate currently occupy?”

  40. “It was noted that students may have a particularly anthropocentric perception of climate change and that this may lead to a skewed understanding of the dynamic nature of climate. The fact that climate has changed throughout the Earth’s history (over vast and varying timescales – which in themselves may be described as troublesome) was described as being troublesome because it did not fit with students current understanding of climate in the light of human-influenced climate change. Perkins (1999) gives the example of ‘presentism’ in historical understanding as an example of foreign knowledge: “students tend to view past events through current knowledge and values”. If we extend this to geological thinking we can see how students may find the concept of climate constantly changing over time without human influence challenging.”

    ~Brendan M. Hall, Knowledge: Towards a ‘Pedagogy of Climate Change’?

  41. Hansen and co. are moving on to paleoclimate because it helps them hide from the failures of their other predictions. Hansen has not done real science for decades, if one means data driven work. He has shoved, trimmed, hyped, bullied, told scary stories etc. to sell his apoclyptic vision. He has sold his revelation well,and trained his fellow believers to find support for the apocalypse. But it should not be confused with science as most people have meant science historically. Hansen’s apocalypse is revealed, just as John’s was in the last book of the bible. And just as with John’s revelation, many who believe Hanasen have seen the sign of the times and the portents of doom, and written nice sciencey papers and books to support their interpretations of hansen’s apocalypse. and just as when the biblical revelation declines to cooperate as the beleivers predicted, Hansen’s believers just rationalize the failure and move on to the next apocalyptic vision. That is the nature of revealed consensus, as opposed to scientific consensus.

  42. Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    R. Frost (of course)

  43. Another recent paper on sensitivity,
    with one calculation having it as an increasing scaling function of time scale, with feedback factor varying between 0.3 and 20. Temperature series also show 1/f scaling behaviour, not generally reproduced by GCMs. As far as I know, there are no satisfying explanations, either for the scaling in nature or the lack of it in GCMs. Anyone know different? Also well-known (?) that such scaling can be modelled by a handful of AR1 processes, with power related hierarchically. Anyone have any ideas about the physics behind such a model?

  44. Berényi Péter

    Concept of climate forcing is ill defined enough, but with efficacy added to the mix it surely blows common sense into shards.

    / circular reasoning is beautiful /

  45. Applying Econometrics to the Carbon Dioxide “Control Knob”

    This paper has used basic econometric (multivariate least squares regression) analysis of observational evidence to falsify or confirm two null hypotheses, first that “most” of observed global warming since around 1950 has not been “very likely” caused by emissions of noncondensing anthropogenic GHGs [17], and, second, that the noncondensing GHGs do not constitute a “control knob” enabling manipulation of global climate. The regression results in the previous Section confirm the first null, as there is no statistically significant evidence to show that increases in anthropogenic GHGs account for any, let alone “most,” of observed global temperature change.

    The second null derives from this statement by Lacis et al. [3].

    This assessment comes about as the result of climate modeling experiments which show that it is the noncondensing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons that provide the necessary atmospheric temperature structure that ultimately determines the sustainable range for atmospheric water vapor and cloud amounts and thus controls their radiative contribution to the terrestrial greenhouse effect. From this it follows that these noncondensing greenhouse gases provide the temperature environment that is necessary for water vapor and cloud feedback effects to operate, without which the water vapor dominated greenhouse effect would inevitably collapse and plunge the global climate into an icebound Earth state.

    Schmidt et al. [2] make a similar claim: “a model simulation performed with zero CO2 gives a global mean temperature changes of about −35°C and produces an ice-covered planet (A. Lacis, pers. communication).” These paper’s regressions do not invalidate the null that none of the Schmidt-Lacis effects is evident when econometric analysis is applied to observations of the most relevant climate variables and instead indicate that the planet’s slow warming is mainly associated with the much larger primary rather than feedback changes in atmospheric water vapor, which along with rising [CO2] have major social benefits in terms of supporting the rising food production needed to feed a global population now at 7 billion and projected to reach 9 billion by 2050 [6–9]. This may imply the demonization of atmospheric CO2 by Hegerl et al. [17] and Schmidt et al. [2], as the alleged primary source of rising temperature could be because of the obvious political difficulty in countries like Australia of blaming increasing rainfall for the observed slow increases in global temperatures evident since 1950.

    The basic physical science underlying the results above is very straight forward, despite the misleading claims in Solomon et al. [1] and Trenberth and Fasullo [34].17 These and others distinguish between so-called “long-lived” noncondensing GHGs and the certainly short-lived nature of [H2O] arising from evaporation created by solar energy, since it is true that condensation and precipitation generally follow evaporation within at most around ten days. But that does not eliminate nonanthropogenic evaporation, for as Lim and Roderick show [35, page 14], the average daily level of basic [H2O] is around 3-4 litres per square meter throughout the year18. That is a result of the solar radiative forcing of 342 W/sq. meter [1, page 96]. meter. In contrast the total radiative forcing attributable to noncondensing anthropogenic GHGs is only c. 2.6 W/sq. meter [28]. The annual increase in GMT attributable to up to that level of forcing since 1950 has been only 0.0125°C p.a. But the Clausius-Clapeyron relation which defines the maximum partial pressure of water vapour that can be present in a volume of atmosphere in thermodynamic equilibrium implies that would have only trivial effect on [H2O]. The maximum is known as the saturation vapour pressure, :19 (6)

    This formula suggests that the increase in [H2O] attributable to rising GMT of 0.0125°C p.a. that could be accommodated in the atmosphere is only 0.047 per cent p.a., not enough to have any measurable effect on GMT, far less than the 2°C to even 3°C and more claimed by Solomon et al. 2007 or Schmidt et al. 2010 for a doubling of [CO2] from the preindustrial level of 280 ppm.

    The data underlying my regressions showing that in general variations in [H2O] account for as much as 90 per cent of observed changes in temperature both globally and in situ suggest that such variations are far larger than those indicated here by Clausius Clapeyron. Thus both my regressions and Clausius Clapeyron fail to invalidate the nulls of the hypotheses advanced by Hegerl et al. [17], Lacis et al. [3], and Schmidt et al. [2]. Consequently it is far from certain that managing the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration really is a meaningful “control knob.”

    • Very interesting. +1

    • This paper is laudable in its intent but horrible in its execution.
      I would toss it just because of this figure:

      The author tries to find correlation of delta changes in Mauna Loa CO2 concentrations d[CO2], against delta changes in an arbitrary temperature. He finds an R2 of 0.088 using his approach.

      Yet if you have the experimental analysis acumen, one can find some more stunning correlations.

      And this is the actual correlation of delta variations of CO2 against sea surface temperatures in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean.

      It just goes to show you that statistics alone will not get you there, and that some real scientific interpretation is needed. In my case, I included only sea surface temperatures in the area that would highly influence the Mauna Loa seasonal reading. That obviously is in the hottest weather latitudes right along the equatorial Pacific, largely west and south of Hawaii. The heat produces outgassing of CO2 and that seasonal breathing is what one sees in the annual Mauna Loa periodic fluctuations.

      • WebHubTelescope | May 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm |

        How odd. I find the paper laudable in its execution, but inadequate in its foundation.

        Econometrics brings (or borrows) many good tools to the table, and the employment of them here is technically competent.. on analyses that simply are too ambitious for the available data, in ways that ought be obvious to the casual observer.

        There are tests that can be applied with the available data, that are meaningful and that answer indirectly most of the questions raised at the outset. The questions that are substituted? Not something we’ve been diligent enough in our observations to adequately answer, nor necessary to make strong and well-founded policy on.

        Is CO2 rising?
        Is at least part of the rise attributable to human causes?
        Is the global climate subject to complexity, chaos, nonlinearity and sensitivity to initial conditions?
        Does CO2 level drive or perturb the global climate in any degree?

        Well, then you’ve demonstrated that the risk profile of emitting CO2 and changing land and water use to curtail the effectiveness of the carbon cycle at sequestering the emitted carbon until geology can absorb it is in no signtificant way different from the risks of whacking an Earth-sized hornet’s nest with a sky-sized sharp pointy stick. Sooner or later, it will lead to costly negative outcomes. We don’t need to know the exact nature of those outcomes to know emitting CO2E and curtailing the carbon cycle ought be halted to avoid such risk.

      • Uptown Girl

        Rightly or wrongly, this paper concludes there is little reason to see CO2 as a significant temperature control knob.
        You though say that if the CO2 level perturbs the climate to “any” degree at all, there is a risk of massively negative outcomes, although you can’t say what. Which justifies a switch to the certainty of massively more expensive energy.
        As illustrative as outsize sticks and hornets nests may be, I think you’re going to need more than handwaving about the negative outcomes here. Perhaps even some physical science.

      • Uptown Girl | May 13, 2012 at 2:42 am |

        If I don’t need to say what, why should I formulate a guess at what? I only need to be specific if we plan to go down the high risk road, which in itself is based on the argument that I’d be dealing with irrational decision-makers. If dealing with irrational decision-makers, how is anything as uninformative as a speculative guess going to be of any use at all, much less better than a mathematical conclusion?

        And let’s look at your claims of certainty of massively more expensive energy. Right now, off grid solar in most of the off grid world is massively less expensive than fossil fuels. It’s less expensive than tarsand fuel, and by a wide margin. It’s soon to be less expensive for gridded regions for all fuel types. Continued investment in obsolete infrastructure and technology is not, by your implied argument about massively more expensive energy, reasonable. Yet not only is it being pursued by businesses, it’s being supported by both parties in an election year as if it’s a good thing. Aren’t these the same parties as four short years ago agreed to dump trillions into bailing out banks and corporations that got into trouble by running their businesses badly and to the detriment of America? Shouldn’t they have learned something from that?

        Tarsands pipelines in America are just another trillion dollar mistake.

        Physical science is a great thing. Mathematics is better. The mathematics says, for the physical science to deliver the outcomes you seek, we must do approximately a thousand times the data gathering and information processing we currently do across the board on climate data, and even then we must still wait decades, and even then the probabilities are that we will produce outcomes that we must vest little confidence in overall.

        Which is why we have to learn how to make decisions rationally under uncertainty. The rational decision is to reduce this risk. That reducing the risk also costs less is just gravy.

      • Uptown Girl

        Before speaking of a high-risk road, you first need to demonstrate that in fact we are on one. And that means a lot more more than your continued handwaving. What are the ACTUAL risks here, that make the current path risky? Yes, you DO need to understand some physical science here, in-bred modelling is something to be avoided.

        Cost of energy. Solar and wind are economically hopeless as I’m sure you actually realise – hence the subsidies needed to prop them up. Nuclear is a goer, sure, and if others pan out the incentives will be there to use them.

        Yes, we need to make decisions under uncertainty. But that doesn’t mean mathematical handwaving dressed up something to be taken seriously. Saying there are risks, but you have absolutely no idea what they are, is a joke no amount of mathematics can rescue.

      • Uptown Girl | May 13, 2012 at 4:04 am |

        I’m afraid I don’t quite follow what you’re trying to say.

        Is it:
        1. We must never act until we know exactly what will happen as a consequence of acting?
        2. We must never stop acting until we know exactly what will happen as a consequence of stopping?

        No one knows where exactly they’ll be stung or how many times if they stir up a nest of hornets with a sharp stick. You demand proof of the location and number of the stings before taking the sharp stick away from the malicious and immature child because the child will throw a tantrum?

        I don’t see how that demonstrates any grasp of decision-making under uncertainty at all.

        What it takes to demonstrate we are on a high risk road is the following:

        -Is CO2 rising?
        -Is at least part of the rise attributable to human causes?
        -Is the global climate subject to complexity, chaos, nonlinearity and sensitivity to initial conditions?
        -Does CO2 level drive or perturb the global climate in any degree?

        With positive answers to those four questions — which we have to a remarkable degree of confidence — we know we are on the high risk road.

        That is a mathematical certainty. It can be demonstrated numerically by anyone capable of a little arithmetic, and with a little patience.

        All the rest, the sizes, locations, times, durations and frequencies, the specific events and their severity.. that simply isn’t well forecastable.. and in any case, it’s primary use would be in settling cases of tort in civil courts.

        We’d only ask these questions once we’d agreed that decision makers were acting against the best interest of most of us, which tells us two things: we agree the world isn’t run rationally, and we think poorer information will somehow have any effect on the irrational system when better information fails.

        If it fascinates you to speculate on these impossible questions, don’t let me stop you. But please stop pretending they’re the questions that matter, or need by any means be answered before decisions can be made. Because that assertion simply makes no sort of sense at all.

      • Uptown Girl

        You’re just back to your original handwave – if CO2 has “any” effect at all – no need to have any idea of physics or what the ACTUAL effects are or even might be – then THEREFORE we are on a high risk path, high enough to justify a radical increase in energy costs.
        Talk about irrational decision-making …

      • Uptown Girl | May 13, 2012 at 2:42 am |

        As I see it, I’ve furnished plenty of support for my claim, and you have yet to furnish even a decimal digit for your own.

        Are you saying that you believe fossil fuel really is less expensive than alternatives going into the future? I’m pretty sure the balance sheet would demonstrate the opposite, were the ledgers opened up and inspected.

        And to add another dimension to the question, are you saying that people have no right to be consulted or compensated for lucrative use of the air and the rivalrous, excludable carbon cycle they have a common shared interest in?

        Because to me, that seems a terrible trespass on personal property rights, an expropriation without compensation. Ought not the law of supply and demand apply to the level of fee charged on lucrative use of the carbon cycle, and the dividend be returned in full to every owner — every citizen — per capita? After all, no one can be said to have a right to more air than anyone else.

        You’re seeking physical science answers for property rights questions. How unusual is that?

      • Uptown Girl

        My interest here has been your claim that “any” effect of CO2 on the climate means there is necessarily a “high” risk. And thus far it is a completely bald claim, ie completely with any support (indeed you scoff at the very notion).

        Your other “dimensions” seem unrelated to this.
        (Oh and as a footnote I am quite happy to use other practical and economical forms of energy should they ever materialise).

      • Risk is funny that way. There’s a probability component, and a cost component, of risk. I’m sure you’re aware of this, of course.

        For the Earth climate, there are some four dozen distinct current weather basins, each of them influenced by neighbors and teleconnections, each sensitive to initial conditions, each iterative and each driven in some way by surface heat. Below most of these are deeper ocean influences, and above them all are high atmosphere conditions. Every single one of those has a CO2E component, indexed logarithmicly by GHG concentration as regards some band of the IR range.

        Water vapor has its own story, but let’s say that we just don’t know it. It could be a positive feedback (and likely is, given the evidence we have, but that’s far from certain), negative, dynamic or neutral. If a dynamic or positive feedback, then there is a higher risk of more heat.

        CO2 above and in the oceans has a difficult to communicate story. At the very least, one must agree there’s risk of indirect and large effects, be they on temperature or pH or biota. Sure, one could speculate on benefit to biology, but ‘benefit’ is a funny word, ill-defined and not sought by most. Why should people consider any benefit they aren’t asking for into their calculations? Especially when such benefits are speculative at best?

        The high atmosphere? CO2 there is in relatively low concentration compared the lower atmosphere, and we’ve done a terrible job of tracking that concentration. If it’s rising as dramatically high up as it is lower down, and if it has GHE effect higher up like an outer layer of an onion, it is certainly still in the low range of that logarithmic curve, and so it takes much less CO2 to double in the high atmosphere.. which mechanisms we poorly grasp, and can anticipate a risk profile that is much broader for its much higher uncertainty.

        The fifty climate basins? It’s a precept of Chaos Theory that a new external forcing perturbs a system into a new level. That corresponds mathematically with ideas like “extreme weather” or “extreme events”; the precept isn’t particularly helpful in determining the precise interpretation of what that means. However, it maps exactly onto the concept of increased risk. CO2 increase due human activity has the best case to be made as the largest new external forcing in climate in the past ten to twenty million years. All of these plates in the air spinning, and CO2 rattling each of them more and more. That’s the high risk path.

        The lower risk is to simply not raise CO2 levels further.

        How dare any one, or any group, usurp the right of all others to determine the risk they are willing to share? To demand ‘proof’ of exactly what is entailed before they stop rocking the boat?

        What moral philosophy stands behind such presumptuous trespass?

        The man caught peeing in the town well doesn’t get to ask for a physicist to prove harm.

      • Bart, the real risk is that the AGW hysteria will be extremely damaging to not only environment(alism), but to the public trust in science.

      • I really have very little interest in environmentalism. I liked it better when we called the environment the outdoors, or just the world, and went out into it regularly and confidently with regard for our own obligation to leave it at least as well off when we went as when we got there, that future generations would have the same opportunity.

        As for trust in science; I don’t quite understand whether you mean its institutions — which little deserve trust in their authority and yet prove time and again the real benefit of investment in their improvement — or its people — who ought be questioned skeptically always, and who by and large prove to benefit us all more than any other single identifiable group ever has come close to — or its ever changing body of knowledge.. One wonders at the utility of investing yet more distrust over a thing that is already being worked on every hour by diligent adherents to find its weaknesses, flaws, failings, errors and imperfections.

        Perhaps you mean trust in science journalists and science commentators? Well, who trusts a journalist is already beyond help.

        Or are you predicting a catastrophic collapse of all of the above, and a return to the Dark Ages, where barbaric hordes raid the remnants of old centres of learning, and only powerful patrons can host the tattered vestiges of a world of scholarship and invention?

        That’s been happening in America since at least 1973. Your concern has come a bit late.

      • Uptown Girl

        Yes, that’s better – it’s a complicated physics situation we are only beginning to understand, and so definitely can’t say with any sincerity or much certainty that there’s a high risk involved.
        Certainly nowhere near enough to warrant the the huge drop in everyone’s standard of living that not emitting any more CO2 (as you recommend) would entail.
        But it is something that warrants more study. CO2 could indeed turn out to be a serious issue. It is not something to ignore.

      • OK, environment then. Forget environmentalism. By science I mean science as activity or enterprise, not the scientists and especially not the institutions.

        Another risk is that it makes rich richer and poor poorer, which is not good at all, IMO.

      • Uptown Girl | May 13, 2012 at 6:09 am |

        “Yes, that’s better – it’s a complicated physics situation we are only beginning to understand, and so definitely can’t say with any sincerity or much certainty that there’s a high risk involved.”

        I’m not sure you quite grasp the concept of risk, if you can claim less understanding definitely means less risk. (Taking the twists out of your subordinate clauses.) Uncertainty increases the risk term in calculations always, for the sake of decision-making. This is fundamental to Game Theory. As to being definite or sincere, I know Mr. Orssengo (for example) sounds sincere and claims to have no doubt at all, but I also know Mr. Orssengo’s methods are riddled with error and bias, so I don’t really see any merit in presumed sincerity or in what definitely can or can’t be said.

        Let’s look at an example: I have two dice, and a bet. The game is I roll the dice once, and then I pick up the dice and roll them again. If my second roll is lower than my first roll, I get my bet plus some fixed amount back. I can do the math to determine the probabilities and the long run benefit or loss to me and to the House, with perfect certainty (so long as the dice are fair and I know the amount of my wager and the amount of the payoff).
        Now change the game. The number of dice I pick up for the second roll is no longer the same as the two dice I originally rolled, but randomly increased; my wager is also randomly determined by the House without my knowledge; the payout is also randomly determined by the House without my knowledge, but no larger than the original payout. The probability distribution of each of these new random factors is unknown to me, and changes from time to time. Well, I have much greater uncertainty here, and I can definitely say the risk to me has increased.

        See? Risk, it’s not something you can pretend less knowledge decreases.

        “Certainly nowhere near enough to warrant the the huge drop in everyone’s standard of living that not emitting any more CO2 (as you recommend) would entail.”

        You make an unsubstantiated assertion. I look at the projections from actual business cases on both sides, and they say the opposite of what you claim. Who should I believe? You, who presents no support, or them, who put it into their account books?

      • Uptown Girl

        > See? Risk, it’s not something you can pretend less knowledge decreases. <
        Sorry, can't quite figure out who you were hoping to pin that diversionary strawman of yours on.

        Returning to the issue at hand, what we are examining is your still unsupported claim that "any" impact of CO2 on climate implies a "high" risk of the climate system going bad on us.

        Also your unsupported claim that ceasing to emitting any more CO2 would not cause huge poverty, since other sources of energy are not vastly more expensive and inconvenient.
        If there was even a grain of truth in this, you would not need massive government interference to enforce use of other sources of energy.

      • Uptown Girl | May 14, 2012 at 1:04 am |

        I’ve laid out in plain language the support for the case that increased external forcing increases risk. I’ve provided the analogy of poking a hornet nest to allow even the least mathematically inclined to follow the reasoning intuitively. I’ve provided every sort of support for a claim that could reasonably asked. You keep denying that I’ve done so, and don’t say why. Are you moving imaginary goalposts without saying what they are? Is it or something else?

        As for the economic claims you make, simply levelling he playing field by removing massive government interference in the form of subsidy and favoratism in infrastructure while properly pricing use of the carbon cycle through a clean fee and dividend system that returns all revenues per capita directly to each citizen (for instance by reversing payroll deductions or direct electronic funds transfer into bank accounts) based on supply and demand pricing would have all the effect necessary rapidly by the force of individual decision making in the Market. It would be the right thing to do even if the anticipated effect weren’t to get people off more expensive tarsands and onto less expensive CSP rapidly, simply because it distorts market pricing less and drives down taxes.

        If you believe I’ve misinterpreted your views on risk, then by all means clarify them so even a simple fellow like myself can follow.

        And one notes, you do not address the issues of unconsented expropriation and trespass. Why?

      • Uptown Girl

        Bart, the issue here is your unsupported claim that “any” impact of CO2 on climate implies a “high” risk of the climate system going bad on us.

        And I’m asking you to either support or abandon it. Please focus.

      • Uptown Girl | May 14, 2012 at 2:51 am |

        How small a stick do you want to prod the hornet nest with?

        We can’t know for sure what it is about CO2 that will trigger harmful outcomes. Will it be the level of its concentration, or the rate of its increase, the second order effects or the third, or the seventh?

        You may be familiar with the expression “Butterfly Effect” ( and possibly think that’s what I’m referring to. In part, you’d be right. However, one tiny butterfly fluttering its wings once is really unlikely to sufficiently upset initial conditions enough for us to rationally be concerned. The risk profile with or without that one flutter is identical.

        The effect of persistently forcing changes to key variables, however, does alter the risk profile of a system. The more complex, persistent and large the forcing, the more complex the path to equalibrate becomes in the system, in general. That’s what the dice-game analogy referred to.

        Is it that unless you can have a reductionist formula, a straightforward calculation handed to you, you aren’t able to process the elements of this explanation? Because then we should stop now, as these ideas often are not well-suited to simplification directly.

        The risk calculation, however is. It involves exponential growth of risk as each interdependent risk term in the actuarial profile that contains CO2 as an input in the iterative process chain grows. There are at least nine such terms, so the risk product is highly sensitive to even tiny increases in CO2. Hence I can say ‘any’ CO2 increase puts us on the high risk path.

        P(CAGW) ~ 1 – P'(CGMT)*P'(Csea level)*P'(Crunaway surface albedo)*P'(Crunaway cloud albedo)*P'(Crunaway methane)*P'(Crunaway soil microbe)*P'(Cplant habitat)*P'(Czool.)*P'(Cocean pH)…

        Sure, you could dismiss some of these terms, and reduce the P'(Cx) to 1, but there are just so many unknown terms in the risk expression and we so poorly collect data on them, that we’re not prepared to well define our future risks other than ‘high path’ or ‘low path’. The low path is the low CO2 level scenario.

      • Uptown Girl

        All you are really saying is : there is A risk, of some or other magnitude. Which probably everyone accepts. But noone has anything like a handle on how big it is. We can know higher vs lower (relative), but not much about high vs low (absolute). Which means your assertion lacks support.

        And all of which is not much help in formulating a rational response really.

      • Uptown Girl | May 14, 2012 at 3:57 am |

        When all you need is to decide between the high road and the low road, what more do you need to know but that the low road promises no worse than the road you’ve been on and know, while the high road runs through a fog bank and ends in a sudden cliff?

      • Uptown Girl

        But it obviously isn’t *all* we have to decide on. If all else was equal, you would be right, there would be no downside. But this ‘low’ road has a very high economic cost, since wind power etc simply cannot compete on a level playing field, hence the subsidies needed to keep it alive.
        And I see no evidence that fossil energy is subsidised in any significant way as wind etc is.

      • Uptown Girl | May 14, 2012 at 4:19 am |

        If you’re not seeing the subsidies, perhaps you’re not looking.

        Where did you look to find these wind subsidies? How hard did you look? Were the figures handed to you? From an impartial source? Balanced by probing into other types of subsidy?

        Because it takes only a few minutes of websearching to find two orders of magnitude larger subsidy for fossil energy than for wind, solar, geothermal and ocean current energy combined.

        With a little more digging, one can find that solar breaks even as one third as costly as tarsands for equivalent energy, with current technologies.

    • Is he saying that because interannual variability in temperature has no trend, therefore CO2 can’t be affecting the long-term trend? Unbelievable. Interannual variability is mostly due to ENSO and of course that is not changing and is much larger than the CO2 signal over short time scales. He needs to at least look at interdecadal variability which is smaller and generally upward, more like CO2.

  46. The figure at the top of this recent post by Professor Pielke Sr. clearly illustrates what has been a known issue for far too long. The concept that the Earth’s climate systems will return to some un-defined radiative-energy-transport-equilibrium state at some un-specified time in the far distance future is clearly a false premise. The climate systems have not ever been in the past, are not at the present time, and will never be at any future time at a state of radiative energy transport equilibrium. The radiative energy transport state at the Top of the Atmosphere, TOA, is changing on all time scales: including, but not limited to, hourly, daily, seasonally, yearly, and longer. These temporal variations also vary spatially at all spatial scales: locally, meso, and macro.

    These variations lead one to question exactly how it has been determined that these temporal and spatial heterogeneities are not important relative to estimating the response of the Earth’s climate systems to increasing concentrations of CO2. That is, has it been rigorously determined that these heterogeneities can be neglected and the climate systems treated on an average homogeneous basis without introducing significant errors.

    There are numerous physical phenomena and processes for which explicit recognition of the importance of heterogeneities is absolutely required in order to obtain high fidelity mathematical models relative to physical reality. The heterogenesous spatial distribution of the materials within engineered equipment is an example. Ignoring the heterogeneities and attempting to arrive at a homogeneous model leads to completely incorrect results when calculations are compared with measured data. Small variations of some of the estimates of system-wide-average parameters, albedo for example, can easily overwhelm the estimated radiative-energy-transport imbalance attributed to changes in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    The measured temporal and spatial heterogeneities also indicate that it is not possible that equilibrium states will obtain at any time: neither within any subsystem, nor between subsystems, and not the entire system as a whole. Attempts to determine ‘a linearized climate sensitivity’ under these conditions are confounded both by the lack of the physical system at the TOA not corresponding to the conditions of the analysis and the importance on internal variability within the systems. These latter variations are due primarily, and ironically, to the lack of equilibrium within and between the important sub-systems.

    The GCMs, of course, contain accounting, at some level, of the spatial and temporal heterogeneities. Other modeling approaches, especially those extremely simplified approaches that are used to illustrate the so-called green-house effect, do not and instead are based on a homogeneous-average for the entire system. The assumption that the Earth’s climate systems can be correctly handled as both a homogeneous system and with no energy imbalance at the TOA has not yet been justified.

    I think in the climate science literature the word equilibrium means that the radiative energy transport at the TOA is in balance: that is, a steady-state and not that the systems are at equilibrium states. Equilibrium as used in thermodynamics, for example, will never be obtained. This is a basic hypothesis and as such monitroing and analyses of the energy-balance state at the TOA should be a primary focus. And the calculated GCM results should first be examined by comparing the calculated state at the TOA with available data. If the hypothesis is that an energy imbalance at the TOA is of overall importance, the calculated numbers must correspond with high fidelity to the physical world. If this is not the case, the GCMs are clearly getting the right answers for the wrong reasons.

    • Dan,
      do you believe the GCM’s as used by the consensus are in fact “getting it right”?

      • The GCMs are done for completeness. The claim is that they really aren’t required. Makes sense to me as a mean value type of approach works well for these kinds of problems. Doesn’t matter the scale, device or planet, the modeling is similar.

      • Rob Starkey


        Without a GCM what is it you believe forecasts the future climate conditions in various locations?

      • Most skeptics don’t even believe that the collective thermal energy of the earth will increase as per the GHG theory, so predicting it for a location becomes meaningless in terms of their contrarian perspective.

      • >Most skeptics don’t even believe that the collective thermal energy of the earth will increase as per the GHG theory<

        ie "most" skeptics question the basic Tyndall / "greenhouse" effect Sounds like a bit of alarmist spin really. A few maybe.

      • Rob Starkey

        GCMs are the only models that forecast the future conditions that are important to the lives of humans. They are the models that describe where it may get wetter or dryer. etc

      • WHT,
        That was a non-answer.

      • They do GCM’s to prove that they can show the general trends and use them for weather prediction. Everyone knows that the overall rise in thermal energy is calculated from mean-value radiative physics and what looks like chaos to a human being is simply a few degrees change on top of a ~ 300K baseline. That is a trivial detail to consider.

      • Professor Pielke from time to time posts results of GCM validation investigations.

        I have some information online about analytical sensitivity analysis that relate to this post. A short list of some literature sources is included, although that is somewhat dated now.

        This post has information about the methodology in general and an application to the original Lorenz system of 1963 is in this note.

        If we take changes in the Rayleigh Number to represent changes in the boundary conditions, a driving potential for the motion, the sensitivity of one of the dependent variables is given in Figure 4 of those notes. The other dependent variables show the same general response. For the case of chaotic response, the sensitivity coefficients vary in a chaotic manner.

  47. Judith,

    I agree with you that the observational record is a very poor constraint on ECS, both because we don’t know the aerosol forcing very well and because the spatial structure of climate warming and relative importance of longer-term feedbacks can’t be constrained. The first problem also applies to transient response as well. However, I do not find your arguments for non-linearity very compelling.

    At least several examples you gave are not evidence of non-linearity in climate sensitivity, such as the fact that different regions might warm or cool less than other regions (simply based on the definition of climate sensitivity as a global average). The spatial and temporal pattern emerges as a result of the forcing and by the properties of the climate system. That is an interesting question in its own right, both for attribution and prediction of regional climate change, but it’s not intrinsically tied to the global sensitivity of CO2 (or any other) forcing. Other statements such as “Sensitivity is asymmetric for cooling and heating perturbations, implying nonlinearity” do not appear justified, to my knowledge, in the literature (at least to the extent one is working around the same base climate upon applying two equal perturbations of differing sign).

    Other arguments, such as the non-additive property of individual feedback gains (as opposed to feedback factors, working in the definitional framework of Roe, 2009 for example) are well acknowledged in the literature, but this built in to how sensitivity is defined. I am sympathetic with the fact that some feedbacks are intrinsically non-linear, such as the strength of the Stefan-Boltzmann radiative restoring strength, and there appears sufficient evidence that sensitivity can be somewhat state-dependent (e.g., Crucifix, 2006) and I’d agree it’s worth assessing this as a research question to see how important it is; however, the relevance of these non-linear terms to modern global warming is not at all clear to me. Mathematically, it’s certainly easy to expand upon the traditional equation in your post to include non-linearity (you can take a taylor series to second or third order) but Gerard Roe has argued in his response to Z&P that these terms are extremely small. That is a model result, but I’m not aware of any good evidence that we’re near some significant bifurcation to substantially alter the argument, or to invalidate the use of different paleoclimatic constraints to the future situation.

    Your argument about the TOA fluxes never being in close equilibrium really can’t be right. You can prove this by contradiction, for say, the LGM case. Work out what would happen to temperature or ice cover if you sustain a 1 W/m2 imbalance over a couple hundred or thousand years.

  48. Tomas Milanovic


    The abundant discussion about the notion of equilibrium itself has implicitely justified your position that S as defined has no operational relevance.
    By operational relevance I mean a skill to predict or say something useful about the dynamical variables like pressures, temperatures or velocities and their spatial distributions.

    In order to avoid repeating what Dan Hughes excelently analysed and with what I agree to 99%, I would just stress one point which is to me fundamental.

    Observation shows that the system has never been in equilibrium.
    Teq of the whole system can never be validated by experiment or by observation because we have never been there and will never be.
    Not on small spatio temporal scales and not on large spatio temporal scales.
    If one wants to use thermodynamics, one has to use non equilibrium thermodynamics.
    If one wants to use dynamics, one has to use non linear (chaotic) dynamics.
    S as defined depends both on spatial variables and on initial conditions and therefore is not unique.
    Even taking a spatial average (which has NO mathematical or physical justification) in order to get rid of the spatial variability doesn’t yield a unique value.
    A PDE system which constrains only derivatives on a boundary has an infinity of solutions with an infinity of field distributions and limits what explains why it is consistent with the observation that S is not unique.
    As such, beyond the technical difficulty to compute a temperature limit of a solution to an unknown system of equation which depends on initial conditions, the non unicity makes it irrelevant for predictions about future dynamical states.

    Of course if one only wants to say that more energy in, means more energy out and one doesn’t care about where it happens, how and when then the statement is rather obvious and one doesn’t need “equilibrium sensitivities”, let alone “climate sciences” to achieve such a revolutionary insight.

    • Thank you Tomas (and CH)

      “If one wants to use thermodynamics, one has to use non equilibrium thermodynamics.
      If one wants to use dynamics, one has to use non linear (chaotic) dynamics.”

      Over a year or so, this website has convinced me of this

  49. Beth Cooper

    Neither Out Far Nor in Deep. )

    ‘The land may vary more,
    But whatever the truth may be-
    The water comes ashore,
    And the people look at the sea.

    They cannot look out far,
    They cannot look in deep,
    But whenever was that a bar
    To any watch they keep.’

    Frost. (Who else?)

  50. I have 2 words for Chris – natural variability.

    ‘In principle, changes in climate on a wide range of timescales can also arise from variations within the climate system due to, for example, interactions between the oceans and the atmosphere; in this document, this is referred to as “internal climate variability”. Such internal variability can occur because the climate is an example of a chaotic system: one that can exhibit complex unpredictable internal variations even in the absence of the climate forcings discussed in the previous paragraph.’

    The Royal Society Climate change: a summary of the science I September 2010 I 2

    ‘Climate modelling has been undergoing a quiet revolution – and it is not one that should be allowed to go unnoticed by the long suffering public. Weather has been known to be chaotic since Edward Lorenz discovered the ‘butterfly effect’ in the 1960’s. Abrupt climate change on the other hand was thought to have happened only in the distant past and so climate was expected to evolve steadily over this century in response to ordered climate forcing.

    More recent work is identifying abrupt climate changes working through the El Niño Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, the Southern Annular Mode, the Artic Oscillation, the Indian Ocean Dipole and other measures of ocean and atmospheric states. These are measurements of sea surface temperature and atmospheric pressure over more than 100 years which show evidence for abrupt change to new climate conditions that persist for up to a few decades before shifting again. Global rainfall and flood records likewise show evidence for abrupt shifts and regimes that persist for decades. In Australia, less frequent flooding from early last century to the mid 1940’s, more frequent flooding to the late 1970’s and again a low rainfall regime to recent times.

    Anastasios Tsonis, of the Atmospheric Sciences Group at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and colleagues used a mathematical network approach to analyse abrupt climate change on decadal timescales. Ocean and atmospheric indices – in this case the El Niño Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation and the North Pacific Oscillation – can be thought of as chaotic oscillators that capture the major modes of climate variability. Tsonis and colleagues calculated the ‘distance’ between the indices. It was found that they would synchronise at certain times and then shift into a new state.

    It is no coincidence that shifts in ocean and atmospheric indices occur at the same time as changes in the trajectory of global surface temperature. Our ‘interest is to understand – first the natural variability of climate – and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural,’ Tsonis said.
    Four multi-decadal climate shifts were identified in the last century coinciding with changes in the surface temperature trajectory. Warming from 1909 to the mid 1940’s, cooling to the late 1970’s, warming to 1998 and declining since. The shifts are punctuated by extreme El Niño Southern Oscillation events. Fluctuations between La Niña and El Niño peak at these times and climate then settles into a damped oscillation. Until the next critical climate threshold – due perhaps in a decade or two if the recent past is any indication.

    James Hurrell and colleagues in a recent article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society stated that the ‘global coupled atmosphere–ocean–land–cryosphere system exhibits a wide range of physical and dynamical phenomena with associated physical, biological, and chemical feedbacks that collectively result in a continuum of temporal and spatial variability. The traditional boundaries between weather and climate are, therefore, somewhat artificial.’ Somewhat artificial is somewhat of an understatement for a paradigm shift in climate science.

    The weight of evidence is such that modellers are frantically revising their strategies. They are asking for an international climate computing centre and $5 billion (for 2000 times more computing power) to solve this new problem in climate forecasting. The monumental size of the task they have set themselves cannot be exaggerated.
    James C. McWilliams of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of California discussed chaos and climate in a 2007 paper titled ‘Irreducible imprecision in atmospheric and oceanic simulations’. ‘Sensitive dependence and structural instability are humbling twin properties for chaotic dynamical systems, indicating limits about which kinds of questions are theoretically answerable’. Sensitive dependence refers to qualitative shifts in climate and models that occur as a result of small changes in initial states. Structural instabilities are qualitative shifts in modelled outcomes as a result of plausible (within the limits of accuracy of measurements) changes in boundary parameters.

    The bottom line of all this is that the current generation of climate forecasting models cannot be relied on as accurate representations of future climate. It will be quite some time before the new models are good enough to model ‘sensitive dependence’ in climate. I doubt their chances at all; weather models are accurate, because of chaos theory in operation, over about 7 days at best.’
    R Ellison – Quadrant Online Feb 15 2010

    I would like to discuss very briefly the nature of climate change. I have many times quoted the simple energy budget equation. It is a simple enough idea – and the differential form is the same as the 1st order differential equation for water storage.

    d(S)/dt = I – Q – the change is water stored in a reach is equal to the inflow minus the outflow. Here we conserve mass. In the global energy budget – energy is conserved.

    d(s)/dt = Energy in – Energy out

    The planet warms or cools if there is a discrepancy – an imbalance – give or a take a little radioactive decay, enthalpy, kinetic and potential energies. So the change in heat content is overwhelmingly the sum of energy in less energy out over a period. Atmospheric CO2 does not actually change radiative flux at TOA. I think it might create a transient increase in IR as the molecules cool to ambient temperatures following combustion. The atmosphere is warmer and emits in all directions at an increased rate. Forcing in this sense should be seen as an increase in downwelling IR from the atmosphere as photons bounce from more greenhouse molecules in the atmosphere to the surface and back again.

    So pot, heat sink and car analogies are physically improbable in a system where all the energy gains and losses are radiative and therefore in human terms indistinguishable from instantaneous. The same considerations apply to the ocean/atmosphere coupled system. If the atmosphere cools – IR net up from the ocean increases tending to cool the ocean at the same time. If all else remained the same – very unlikely – and CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere stabilised then the ocean temperature would stabilise as well. All things considered – the heat in the pipeline idea appears to lack any reasonable physical basis.

    But of course the data shows that energy equilibrium never occurs as the planet warms and cools as things such as dust, ice, oceans, clouds and biology interact in unpredictable ways in a dynamic environment on a spinning blue/green planet.

    To echo Judith – in such an environment sensitivity doesn’t mean much.

    While I was writing this I noticed Tomas had criticised the simple global energy budget but – for a simple hydrologist it echoes one of my favourite equations. My honours thesis involved this equation which is solvable analytically for certain impossible cases and was numerically solvable on my XT clone in time enough to make a cup of tea. I think it has its place.


    • Chief,
      Those two words are too inconvenient for such a strident self-assured kid.
      He is like the young graduate from seminary with much scripture and little actual work.

    • Chief,

      There is something touchingly sweet about the youthful naivety that would lead someone like Chris Colose to write ” . . . the relevance of these non-linear terms to modern global warming is not at all clear to me . . .”, and, having admitted that he has no understanding, does not even seek to remedy his intellectual deficit.

      Instead, he presumes that people who may have some inkling of what they are talking about are actually somehow interested in Chris’s unsolicited and gratuitously insulting admonitions to perform meaningless calculations at his behest.

      Here’s some gratuitous and unsolicited advice for you, Chris. Attempt to learn. If things are still not clear to you, ask me.

      In the event that I cannot make things clear enough for you, possibly you do not have the ability to comprehend the concepts involved.

      Once again, I earnestly implore you to seek clarity before you pontificate.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • peterdavies252

      Youthful enthusiasm is a great quality to have and is a useful catalyst for change. What I find interesting about Chris Colose is that he is not advocating any change at all. This is unusual for someone at the start of his career. I have been far more challenging of the orthodoxy in my chosen profession (economics) at the same stage of my career.

      • peter,
        chris has chosen the dysfunctional as his orthodoxy and has decided enthusiastic defense of the orthodoxy is his path ot intellectual distinction.
        To quote a Prof. Jones, “He chose poorly.”

      • This is hunter thinks of “youthful enthusiasm”;

        “hunter | May 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Reply

        Look how angry these children look. They have been manipulated and deceived into being the equivalent of child suicide bombers.”

  51. Beth Cooper

    Experience the great teacher, Chief?
    ” S’e thu fhein a tha tapaidh.”

    H/T Alistair MacLeod ‘Clearances.’ )

  52. BaitedBreath

    In response to the idea that for CO2 to be having a warming effect on the oceans (by slowing their cooling), it must first have a warming effect on the atmosphere, WebHubTelescope earlier said that if the surface of the ocean cools due to
    (a) upwelling colder water, or
    (b) changes in clouds
    there will be less cooling of the oceans to the atmosphere.

    (a) and (b) would indeed mean a warmer ocean overall. But could they really be caused by increased atmospheric CO2 levels? If not, and given that atmospheric temperature has been more or less constant for some 15 years now, is there any reason at all to connect warming *oceans* with rising *atmospheric* CO2 levels?

  53. The lack of observability of the equilibrium temperature has a consequence for public policy making that has not yet been discussed in this thread. This that the magnitude of the CO2 concentration provides the policy maker with no information about the magnitude of the equilibrium temperature at Earth’s surface. This conclusion follows from the definition of the mutual information as a mathematical function that is defined on a pair of observable state-spaces. For the policy maker who believes the magnitude of the CO2 concentration to provide him/her with information about the magnitude of the equilibrium temperature, 100% of this information is fabricated.


    Ice core samples show strong correlation between global mean temperature (GMT) and atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    This correlation should also exist in the the instrumental data.

    To establish this correlation, the CO2 concentration data since 1958 form NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory and the GMT data from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia can be used.

    The correlation between GMT and CO2 is shown in the following graph:

    This graph gives a 1 ppm increase in CO2 concentration corresponds to an increase in GMT of 0.0087 deg C. As a result, the climate sensitivity (CS) for doubling of CO2 from its pre industrial value of 280 ppm is

    CS = 0.0087 (deg C/ppm) *280 (ppm) = 2.4 deg C.

    As shown in the graph above, this result is based on a correlation that is only rough. The correlation is rough because the GMT did not increase every time the CO2 concentration increased. For example, for CO2 increase from about 370 to 390 ppm, there was no increase in the GMT. This indicates that the above estimate for the climate sensitivity is only a rough one.

    To improve the estimate for climate sensitivity, it may be helpful to examine the components of the global mean temperature.

    The global mean temperature can be decomposed according to the following equation

    Observed GMT = Random GMT + Cyclic GMT + Quadratic GMT + Linear GMT

    This relationship is demonstrated by the following graph:

    As shown in the above graph, the Random GMT just oscillates within the GMT band and has a mean value of zero and a standard deviation of 0.1 deg C. As the mean value of the Random GMT is zero, it does not correlate with the CO2 concentration. Similarly, the Cyclic GMT does not correlate with CO2. To examine whether the Linear GMT correlates with CO2, we need to examine the profile of the CO2 concentration, which shows an increase in CO2 for a given year slightly greater than the year before. As a result, the CO2 profile is not linear and its correlation with the Linear GMT will be poor. From this description, in the above equation for the observed GMT, the only term left on the right hand side of that equation is the Quadratic GMT, and an improved correlation may be obtained by relating CO2 concentration to the Quadratic GMT only.

    The correlation between the Quadratic GMT and atmospheric CO2 concentration is shown in the following graph:

    This graph shows a nearly perfect correlation between GMT and atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    This graph gives a 1 ppm increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration corresponds to an increase in GMT of 0.0028 deg C. As a result, the climate sensitivity (CS) for doubling of CO2 from its pre industrial value of 280 ppm is

    CS = 0.0028 (deg C/ppm) *280 (ppm) = 0.78 deg C.

    Does this cause CAGW?

    • “This graph gives a 1 ppm increase in CO2 concentration corresponds to an increase in GMT of 0.0087 deg C.”

      Or, vice versa. In actual fact, it is temperature driving CO2, and not the other way around. I refer you to my post above.

  55. What can be taught?
    1. It has warmed (most skeptics agree) more than half a degree, maybe nearly a degree.
    2. It would not have warmed so much without fossil fuel burning (scientist skeptics like Lindzen and Spencer would agree, and their follower Monckton).
    3. Continued fossil fuel burning will lead to the future climate being warmer than it would have been without them.

  56. WebHubTelescope | May 13, 2012 at 6:16 pm |

    First, read this.

    You are confused, because you do not appear to understand the relationship between frequency and gain. Here, for example, you see a standard frequency response for a first order network. At 100 rad/sec, the gain is down -40 dB, which is a factor of 100. That single data point does not tell you that the gain at 0.1 rad/sec is also -40 dB!!!

    “…after so many steady centuries, why has the ocean suddenly gone into this accelerating outgassing mode…”

    We really do not know that. The measurements prior to 1958 are suspect. The best, modern data we have says this relationship holds. It probably held in the past. Ergo, the proxy measurements of the deep past are likely unreliable.

    • Here’s an exercise for you WebHub. Assume the system is first order with time constant tau = 30 years. Assume your gain for a signal with seasonal frequency of 2pi rad/year is 3 ppm/degC. What is your gain at zero frequency?

      Hint1: greater than 100

      Hint2: I gave you the formula here.

    • There is a carbon cycle that explains very well why fossil fuels add to both the atmosphere and ocean carbon and why it is so hard to remove once there.

      • No, it gives a narrative. A narrative, no matter how seemingly plausible, is nothing without proof.

      • It gives a carbon budget that can be closed without introducing any implausible terms or chemically unbalanced conditions.

      • Which is incompatible with this. Data wins against theory every time.

      • Have you heard of Henry’s Law? It predicts that there should be a temperature dependence over the ocean at least. A true skeptic would first show that they understand the existing knowledge of the carbon cycle and then explain precisely which parts they disagree with, not just produce a graph and a correlation and invent stuff from it.

      • “…not just produce a graph and a correlation and invent stuff from it.”

        I’m not inventing anything, and I am relying on you to use your own native intelligence to make the obvious conclusion. Is the temperature rise incredibly well correlated with the rate of change of CO2, yes or no?

      • Yes, and it is expected to be, because in warm years the ocean can absorb less of the human-emitted CO2. This is because the ratio of CO2 in the surface ocean to that in the atmosphere is set by temperature (Henry’s Law).

      • “…because in warm years the ocean can absorb less of the human-emitted CO2”.

        For 54 years straight? With temperatures leading the overall CO2 concentration (remember, matching the rate of change means a 90 degree phase delay in the accumulated value)? And, accounting for ALL of the rise? No, sorry. That is not plausible.

      • I looked at the WoodForTrees data correlation and it has some horrific aspects to it. The Bartemis took the derivative of [CO2] and then subtracted a large constant rate as an offset. If this offset is missing, one will note that an accelerating CO2 concentration is leading the temperature signal.

        I think he broad-brushed this whole analysis, found some correlation and twisted it to show something that has little validity.

      • Bartemis, you are repeating the Salby mistake. You have asserted that manmade CO2, even though it weighs in at twice the observed rise in CO2 in the atmosphere, is completely absorbed by some term of unknown physics and replaced by something else of unknown physics that emits CO2 at an accelerating rate thus exempting man from the observed CO2 rise. This only needs two as yet unknown processes which approximately cancel each other. Fantastic stuff. You can help Salby write a paper about it.

      • Jim D | May 14, 2012 at 12:26 am |
        “Bartemis, you are repeating the Salby mistake. You have asserted that manmade CO2, even though it weighs in at twice the observed rise in CO2 in the atmosphere, is completely absorbed by some term of unknown physics and replaced by something else of unknown physics that emits CO2 at an accelerating rate thus exempting man from the observed CO2 rise. This only needs two as yet unknown processes which approximately cancel each other. Fantastic stuff. You can help Salby write a paper about it.”

        It seems the AGW convinced still don’t understand this. Anthropogenic CO2 is not completely absorbed by some term of unknown physics and replaced by something else of unknown physics that emits CO2 at an accelerating rate. Annual change in atmospheric CO2 is simply a function of only T (dCO2 = f(T)) and it doesn’t depend on the anthropogenic input into the atmosphere. CO2 origin in the atmosphere doesn’t matter, only the atmospheric concentration and its change seems to be a function of only T. In other words, CO2 is quasi-condensable.

        Since the anthropogenic CO2 input weighs in at more than twice the observed atmospheric CO2 rise, the overshot is absorbed by the oceans. If the human CO2 was less than the atmospheric rise, the oceans would have to release some CO2 to reach the equilibrium. If the human CO2 was zero, the oceans would have to release the total atmospheric rise. If humans removed some CO2 from the atmosphere, the oceans would have to release the removed amount plus the atmospheric rise.

      • This part is not AGW. It is anthropogenic CO2. This has nothing to do with climate change and everything to do with the carbon cycle.
        You can’t attack climate scientists for this one, as this is completely removed from radiation physics, and general circulation models.

        Edim, you really don’t have much of a clue about anything other than your obsessive need to be a contrarian.

      • WHT, I agree – it should have nothing to do with AGW, but it does. For example, Jim D says:

        “If the ocean is outgassing CO2 as it gets warmer, and CO2 warms the atmosphere and ocean causing more outgassing, there is no stopping it.”

        So, Jim basically means it cannot be true because it’s incompatible with AGW! What about you?

      • Edim says:

        “So, Jim basically means it cannot be true because it’s incompatible with AGW! What about you?”

        The correct word is orthogonal. A 100 PPM increase in atmospheric CO2 levels is an orthogonal element to climate parameters, such as temperature. This is physical and environmental modeling at its most fundamental. If you don’t understand this stuff, you shouldn’t be spewing and spouting off nonsense.

      • WHT,

        What are you talking about? Orthogonal? Instead of incompatible?

      • Edim, I was saying that CO2 can’t be a function of temperature only. You were fooled by Bartemis’s graph into not seeing the slow CO2 trend that he hides by looking only at high frequencies by focusing on the derivative. The slow CO2 trend is more than accounted for by Man’s output and the ocean’s net absorption which is seen as acidification. The derivative shows some detail of how the sink is dependent on the annual temperature, since we are pretty sure the source isn’t (unless Man emits about twice as much in cold years).

      • Acidification except for that which is converted to CaCO2 and sinks. (A true sink :) )

      • JimD is correct. What I showed with the Mauna Loa data is how close the ripple follows the equatorial sea surface temperature. And this follows Bartemis’s first order lag equation.

        So what we are doing is shoving our collective knowledge back in Bartemis’ face. It is quite a sight to behold.

      • Web, I agree that Bartemis is incorrect, however your equatorial oceans driving the mauna loa annual cycle is also incorrect. The annual variation at Mauna loa is a touch more complex than your insinuation.

        My comparing the monthly mauna loa deviation from the average monthly deviation is simple signal processing. The average monthly is the carrier frequency and the deviation is the AM signal. The equatorial signal is weak.

      • Blah, blah, blah.

        Learn how to convey information properly by making decent unambiguous graphs. Nothing you say has any logical connectivity.

    • Rob Starkey

      While the concept that increased temperatures leading to increased CO2 output is highly accepted, how confident would you claim to be regarding the timing of your CO2 curves?

  57. “Assume the system is first order with time constant tau = 30 years.”

    The outgassing time constant is not 30 years, it is a fraction of a year (I used 1/30). The ocean breathes CO2 almost instantaneously as the surface water warms and cools. The lag of a couple of months is likely the amount of time it takes for the excess CO2 to migrate from the warm equatorial waters to Hawaii.

    You are right that a first-order lag of 30 years would completely destroy the signal.

    Don’t confuse the outgassing lag with the sequestering lag. The adjustment time constant for CO2 sequestering is huge (100’s to 1000’s of years) and it acts as a great integrator.

    • “The adjustment time constant for CO2 sequestering is huge (100′s to 1000′s of years) and it acts as a great integrator.”

      Calculate the dc gain for that!

    • Web, ” The lag of a couple of months is likely the amount of time it takes for the excess CO2 to migrate from the warm equatorial waters to Hawaii.”

      Don’t you mean the northern high latitudes?

      • I can’t believe how noticeably off most of the skeptics are in terms of the well-understood concepts. What I usually do is spend some time working out the data, doing a comprehensive analysis, and then eventually finding out what I did matches what a credentialed climate scientist has already accomplished.

        For example, the analysis I worked out for concentrations against seasonal forcing temperature has already been worked out as phase plots, as for example in the thesis by Blaine.

        Here is a typical phase plot from the thesis, for Ar and N :

      • Web, perhaps I misread, but most of the annual change appears to be in the northern hemisphere. The tropical change is multiyear. You did mention the annual “breathing” which the satellites tend to show northern hemisphere variation and more stable southern hemisphere.

      • “The tropical change is multiyear.”

        Hawaii is on the tropic of cancer so it is no surprise that the Mauna Loa station is impacted by tropical changes in ocean temperature.

      • Web, I think we are talking past each other. That annual breathing cycle of CO2 is fairly complex. The winter early spring is mainly southern ocean warming causing outgassing with the summer early fall a combination of biological and outgassing in the northern hemisphere. The southern hemisphere in NH summer has more thermal CO2 uptake, the NH more biological annual sequestering. The variation in tropical ocean temperature is rather small except for the ENSO changes (multi-year) which are barely discernible in the CO2 measurements.

        Even the paper your referenced shows more NH fluctuation, then SH and finally tropics, just like the satellite animation of atmospheric CO2.

        I disagree with Bartimes that it is all temperature, but there is a significant amount related to temperature change, both biological and outgassing. The feedback thing is kinda interesting though. CO2 should tend to stabilize the lower troposphere as its impact increases (isothermal is pretty stable, that is where things would be headed.) The actual trend is toward more instability. that is like approaching a bifurcation point. Sea surface temperatures are becoming more volatile regionally, yet the average is stabilizing with some small reduction.

        With the Arctic ozone depletion starting and some indication of tropical ozone reduction (remember the stratosphere is marching to a different drummer), there is likely to be some neat atmospheric chemistry starting. Ice clouds react with ozone allowing CO2 to find a reaction buddy, kinda like Mars. There is a slight inverse correlation of CO2 variation with solar. This is getting kinda interesting.

      • The stench of decaying bodies in the Spring of colder climes has to contribute a bunch to CO2.

      • Give me a break with all that fake narrative. The Mauna Loa is all anthropogenic on the increase with ripple caused by equatorial seasonal outgassing. That’s it, deal with it.

      • WHT, do you know that the consensus explanation for the CO2 seasonal cycle is NH growing seasion, not the oceanic outgassing/absorbing?

        Do you know about this:

      • Web, then analyze the ripple.

        Since the ripple has seasonal variation there would be an average seasonal variation. How much an individual year varies from the annual variation would be an indication of what impacts the seasonal variation. That plot is Mauna loa deviation from the annual monthly mean for the period 1979 to 2012. It is compared to the UAH tropical oceans deviation from its monthly mean for the same period. That is not an impressive fit.

        Global temperature is not a great fit either. It may be random noise, but the ENSO does seem to make a contribution.

        Notes on stuff like it says. The changes in the rates of change should have clues since it is a dynamic system.

      • Well, I did. Just because you haven’t any talent in DSP doesn’t make it my problem.


        The tropics really don’t have that much of a seasonal cycle. The northern latitudes have a pretty major seasonal cycle. Mauna Loa has a seasonal cycle. Ergo the tropics with little seasonal cycle must be the cause of the Mauna Loa seasonal cycle because Web has a formula that says so.

        I get it now.

      • The annual variation in [CO2] is from the greening of the Northern Hemisphere during summer. Most of this later decays away (and you sweep up the leaves). This is not seen in the Southern Hemisphere. Go to CDIAC and look at the CO2 concentrations as a function of latitude.

      • Eli Rabbet is exactly right, the majority of the signal is from the greening. When I remove the greening signal it gets more interesting. There is some southern ocean impact and the multi-year ENSO. There is even an inverse solar correlation with mainly the southern polar orientation. Finding the magnitude of each is a bear with limited data, but it is fun to mess with.

      • Capn has no idea that the hottest part of the ocean will contribute the highest partial pressure of co2. He basically has no scientific insight and always pushes a complicated fake narrative because he can get away it. It never works because the narrative just becomes more and more convoluted as he adds more fantasy elements.

        Sure the co2 has a seasonal biotic response but not here.

      • “jim2 | May 14, 2012 at 10:51 pm |

        The stench of decaying bodies in the Spring of colder climes has to contribute a bunch to CO2.”
        Nah. Ever heard of scavengers? Crows, coyotes, etc.

        And CO2 is odorless. Honest.

      • Capt. Dallas,

        I’m not sure what you’re trying to demonstrate with your graphs. You’re showing temperature graphs with annual cycle removed against Mauna Loa CO2 data with annual cycle intact.

      • That was just for Web, what I am doing is comparing Mauna Loa annual deviation from mean, the AM signal, to regional temperature variation from mean. That enhances the signal so you can better see what regions at what times have an impact. Annual and multi year smoothing destroys the signals, which just about every statistician has noted.

        that is what Mauna Loa looks like as a demodulated signal.

        That compares the demodulated tropics ocean lower troposphere temperature to the demodulated Mauna Loa. Web says that the tropical oceans are driving the annual Mauna Loa change, then there should be a stronger correlation between the two.

      • OK, I think I’ve figured out what you’ve done – you’ve effectively used the ‘seasonally-corrected trend’ column of the Mauna Loa data (though I think you’ve taken a longer route to effectively doing this). Each monthly value represents that month’s entry in that column minus the previous month’s. I’ve plotted that and it looks extremely similar to your ‘deviation from mean’ graph.

        I’m not sure what this can show, other than perhaps degree of intra-annual autocorrelation. Perhaps I’m not up-to-speed on what Web is claiming?

      • Paul S, the seasonal mean I used is for the satellite period since I had a spreed sheet set up for that. It would be better to determine the seasonal mean for the entire record. I did it the hard way mainly to make sure I hadn’t screwed up too bad.

        The only issue I had with Web this time was, “The outgassing time constant is not 30 years, it is a fraction of a year (I used 1/30). The ocean breathes CO2 almost instantaneously as the surface water warms and cools. The lag of a couple of months is likely the amount of time it takes for the excess CO2 to migrate from the warm equatorial waters to Hawaii.” That is a pretty gross over simplification since the seasonal “greening” as Eli calls it is a major player.

      • Measurements taken in Hawaii clearly correlate better against equatorial SST than northern latitude continental biotic signals. Not that the latter aren’t important, just that they are damped at the Mauna Loa location.
        Anybody can reproduce the results, you simply have to remove the long-term trend from the CO2 data, and pick the SST from around the hottest part of the equatorial regions.
        Plot one against the other and one can infer a phased relationship, using the same equations that Bartemis supplied, only using them in the correct context.

      • Web, there are the two peaks on the equinoxes (i?) but the deep valley looks like greening and southern ocean uptake, which is backed up by the limited Junaby Antarctic co2 record. Picking the hottest spots near the equator then adding a lag is not one of my standard procedures. The ’98 super El Nino was a tropical sea surface temperature event which is barely a blimp on the CO2 deviation.

        I re-scaled that and used the entire record to determine the average instead of just the satellite era.

      • I agree with Web (!) that the seasonal atmospheric CO2 cycle is mainly from SST cycle and not from the NH greening. Web should go to RC or SKS and debate with them. Then he will feel the rage of the AGW-convinced.

      • Capn shows some outrageous graph that plots delta co2 and average co2 and expects us to make sense of it. In reality, average co2 should rise over time and not track delta co2.

        Edim is a complete contrarian that likes to spout the opposite, including statements he has earlier made. Now he apparently thinks a 25% increase in partial pressure cannot result from a 1 degree increase in temperature ,whereas before he thought just that.

        I am sauggesting something so modest, a 3 PPM increase per degree of seasonal warming as to be completely noncontroversial. One can tag greening on to this if one likes, big deal.

      • Web, I am only a contrarian when I disagree. When I agree, I say so. I agree with you about the seasonal CO2 variation. Like I said go to RC and tell them that the seasonal CO2 cycle is caused by the SST cycle. You would be a contrarian there, at least regarding this.

      • Those guys would appreciate what I have done, because they appreciate a deep and detailed analysis. You have quite a delusional view of how scientific research is treated. You seem to have a knee-jerk reaction that if it doesn’t fit your preconceived notions, I.e. temperature alone drives co2 concentrations, then it can’t be correct.
        This is laughable, if it wasn’t so pathetic at the same time.

      • Web, the outrageous graph is the annual CO2 wiggle. You say that wiggle is due to annual variation in tropical ocean temperature. There is no corresponding annual wiggle in the tropical ocean temperatures. There is a corresponding northern hemisphere “greening” cycle and a corresponding solar orbital cycle that impacts the southern hemisphere more, the northern hemisphere less.
        Here is another outrageous chart. The orange is the average monthly change for the entire Mauna Loa record. There is not positive slope because it is just the wiggle. The blue line is the monthly change from 1995 to 2005, not slope because I am just looking at the wiggle. The red line is the deviation of that actual monthly change from 1995 to 2002 from the average monthly change. Again, no slope, just looking at the wiggle.

        Yet another outrageous chart. The TIM true Earth TSI, A