Sensitivity of the nocturnal boundary layer to added longwave radiative forcing

by Judith Curry

So, if you increase the longwave radiative forcing from CO2, which of the following happens?

  1. heating of the near surface ground temperature
  2. heating of the atmosphere
  3. heating of the deep ground temperature
  4. the heat is lost to radiative emission from the skin surface.

Simple analyses of climate feedback and sensitivity (ΔT = λ * ΔF)  assume #2.  A new paper by McNider et al. argues for a more complex (and realistic) response.

McNider, R. T., G.J. Steeneveld, B. Holtslag, R. Pielke Sr, S. Mackaro, A. Pour Biazar, J. T. Walters, U. S. Nair, and J. R. Christy (2012). Response and sensitivity of the nocturnal boundary layer over land to added longwave radiative forcing, J. Geophys. Res.,doi:10.1029/2012JD017578, in press.

Abstract. One of the most significant signals in the thermometer-observed temperature record since 1900 is the decrease in the diurnal temperature range over land, largely due to rising of the minimum temperatures. Generally, climate models have not well replicated this change in diurnal temperature range. Thus, the cause for night-time warming in the observed temperatures has been attributed to a variety of external causes. We take an alternative approach to examine the role that the internal dynamics of the stable nocturnal boundary layer (SNBL) may play in affecting the response and sensitivity of minimum temperatures to added downward longwave forcing. As indicated by previous nonlinear analyses of a truncated two-layer equation system, the SNBL can be very sensitive to changes in greenhouse gas forcing, surface roughness, heat capacity, and wind speed. A new single-column model growing out of these nonlinear studies is used to examine the SNBL. Specifically, budget analyses of the model are provided that evaluate the response of the boundary layer to forcing and sensitivity to mixing formulations. Based on these model analyses, it is likely that part of the observed long-term increase in minimum temperature is reflecting a redistribution of heat by changes in turbulence and not by an accumulation of heat in the boundary layer. Because of the sensitivity of the shelter level temperature to parameters and forcing, especially to uncertain turbulence parameterization in the SNBL, there should be caution about the use of minimum temperatures as a diagnostic global warming metric in either observations or models.

[for the complete paper, click here]

The paper has been discussed extensively at WUWT.  There is a guest post by Richard McNider at Pielke Sr’s blog, that raises some broader implications of the findings, some excerpts:

Our budget calculations in the paper also showed that the ultimate fate of the added input of longwave energy was highly sensitive to boundary layer parameters and turbulent parameterizations. In our simple model, the added radiation could go to heating the atmosphere, heating the near surface ground temperature, heating the deep ground temperature or lost to radiative emission from the skin surface. The model showed that at light winds (with weak turbulence) the atmosphere was not able to effectively lift this energy off the surface and into the atmosphere. Thus, more radiation was emitted from the surface. If soil conductivity and /or heat capacity were large then more of the energy would go to heating the ground. When we tested boundary layer parameterizations of the type employed in large scale models, we found they generally added much more sensible heat to the atmosphere as opposed to being lost by radiation or to the ground.

To capture the type sensitivity we found in our model, climate models would need very fine vertical high resolution and also stable boundary layer parameterizations that don’t have large background mixing such as is often added to large scale models with coarse resolution. Our paper also showed that the stable nocturnal boundary layer was very sensitive to the turbulent parameterization and surface characteristics such as roughness and land surface heat capacity and conductivity. In fact because current coarse resolution global models do not capture the asymmetry in warming in minimum temperatures and likely do not represent the stable boundary layer very well, we further suggested that truthful replication of the night-time warming may be out of the reach of current models.   Thus, it may be better for current climate models, when they test replication of past climates and to project future global warming, to only use maximum temperatures rather than the current metric of using the mean daily temperature, which contains the minimum temperature. Of course, changes in night-time temperatures represent real changes and possible impacts to the climate system (e.g., melting ice), to society (agricultural productivity) and to ecosystems. Thus, ultimately we need to develop climate models that do have the resolution and sensitivity to capture changes in minimum temperatures.

I would like to now editorialize on the implications of this work which were not explicitly stated in the peer reviewed paper. While the asymmetrical warming of the nighttime temperatures and the lack of fidelity of models in capturing the asymmetry that we discuss has also been the subject of other papers, it seems that no one has looked at the implications of this to the general ability of models to forecast climate change. But, consider the following as a thought experiment. Model credibility in the IPCC has been based on the ability to replicate the last 130 years of the global instrumental temperature record with anthropogenic forcing. But, remember that the global temperature record in such comparisons is based on the daily Tmean (the average of Tmax and Tmin). If models are replicating Tmean but are not capturing the trend in Tmin, then this must mean that the model Tmax is warming faster than the actual Tmax.  Also, if most of the warming in the instrumental record is warming in the nighttime boundary then by its very nature this is warming of a very thin layer of order 200m or so. In fact, if our results are correct, we show that it is only the lowest part of the nighttime boundary layer that is being warmed or a thin layer than of no more 20-50 meters. Maximum temperature observations made in daytime boundary layers which are 1- 2 km in depth, reflect a measure of a much deeper layer temperature.  Thus, the instrumental observational data when viewed in light of boundary layer theory is showing that most of the warming is occurring in a very thin layer and the deeper atmosphere as captured by Tmax is not warming as much as models.

However, one of the largest positive feedbacks in climate simulations is the accumulation of additional water vapor as the deep atmosphere warms and this adds an additional greenhouse effect. In fact, the added water vapor effect depends on a deep layer of added water vapor. If the deep atmosphere is not warming then this water vapor feedback will not be nearly as strong. Thus, models may be overstating the water vapor feedback. 

In regards to the oceans (since I started my career as an ocean modeler), I think we should also be careful about similar turbulent processes connecting the atmosphere and ocean surface. Just as for the land surface, the ultimate fate of added energy may be tied to the details of how efficiently and quickly turbulence in the atmosphere and the ocean can remove this added energy from the skin surface. Any errors in this near surface turbulence will impact the fate of the added energy. I am not certain at all that coupled ocean-atmospheric models get these details right.

JC comment:  This paper really clicked with me, it addresses a big issue that I have long been worried about and raised on the earlier thread CO2 no feedback sensitivity with regards to the equation (ΔT = λ * ΔF):

According to this simple model that relates radiative forcing at the tropopause to a surface temperature change, there is an equilibrium relationship between these two variables.  The physical relationship between these two variables requires many many assumptions, including zero heat capacity of the surface and a convective link between the surface and the tropopause.  

McNider et al. remind us of why these are poor assumptions.

162 responses to “Sensitivity of the nocturnal boundary layer to added longwave radiative forcing

  1. Lance Wallace

    “Abstract. One of the most significant signals in the thermometer-observed temperature record since 1900 is the decrease in the diurnal temperature range over land, largely due to rising of the minimum temperatures.”

    Wasn’t the main finding of the Fall et al paper on Anthony Watts’ Surface Stations Project that at least in the United States the nongood stations (about 88% of the total) overestimated minimum temps and underestimated maxima, leading to an apparent decline of the diurnal differences?

    Also, Fall et al found that it was not “largely” the rise in the minima, but the fall in the maxima just about equalled the rise in the minima, leading to little effect on the trend of the mean.

    It may be that the paper authors take this into account, but the first sentence of the abstract leaves me unsure of that.

  2. soil thermal capacity, check,
    stable nocturnal boundary layer check, though I considered the moist air boundary.
    Conductivity and thermal capacity required to initial natural convection considered. check

    GMT unreliable, check

    “In regards to the oceans (since I started my career as an ocean modeler), I think we should also be careful about similar turbulent processes connecting the atmosphere and ocean surface.” Can I get an AMEN!

    Also, the ERL would tend to promote upper level convection, but not necessarily a uniform increase in lapse rate.

    These guys must be crackpots :)

  3. Here is a version of the paper.

  4. Still counting angels, dancing on that model pinhead. I suppose we must, so count away. Will it never end? Surely the nocturnal boundary layer is not the climate debate endgame.

    • Why so pessimistic David?

    • Surely the nocturnal boundary layer is not the climate debate endgame.

      Agreed. Maybe a possible endpoint for the surface temps vs. satellite discussion.

    • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

      David Wojick: Will it never end?

      It will never end. The drive to create adequate and accurate models is a part of the drives to understand how things work and to make accurate predictions.

      This paper is a step forward. It is one of the many steps that I believe we need.

  5. novandilcosid

    As I understand “Radiative Forcing”, it arises because an increase in CO2 concentration AT THE LAYER WHICH CAN RADIATE TO SPACE causes the effectively radiated amount to be less than it was (due to increased absorption). This results in an energy imbalance AT THAT POINT.

    What happens next is that THAT POINT heats up (or, in the case of most of the spectrum from Wavenumber 630-710, cools down) until the energy balance is restored. (NOTE: you don’t need any extra/less energy to do this!)

    What is very unclear is how the energy imbalance translates to the Surface or to the Boundary Layer. IPCC AR4 WG1 Chapter2 is silent on this, except for Fig2.2, which describes a process which, judging from radiosonde records, does not occur in nature. Nor does the bump (warm spot) shown in that diagram.

    I would be grateful if someone could point me to an explanation of the process of imbalance translation from high-in-the-atmosphere to low-in-the-atmosphere or to the Surface. This process (“Radiative Forcing” changing to “Surface Forcing”) is assumed in the paper.

    In terms of the paper, radiosonde records ( see for twice daily coverage at many locations globally) clearly show decoupling of the boundary layer and the stratosphere from the adiabatic lapse rate layer.

    • If the atmosphere could warm by itself to counteract the radiative effect of CO2, it would. The troposphere, however, has a temperature tied to the surface temperature by the dominant convective process in it, and the only way it can warm is for the surface to warm first. So the radiative imbalance in the troposphere has to be restored by surface warming because of its dependence on that.

      • novandilcosid

        Sorry JimD, I don’t agree.
        There’s a bunch of gas at temperature T. It’s in balance with its surroundings as Ein = Eout.
        Later on, Eout drops (or in the case of Wavenumbers 630-710,increases). The only possible response is that T increases (decreases) to restore the balance, Eout=Ein.

        This sort of thing is very easy to see in the radiosonde records. What is not evident is any example of downward heating of the atmosphere as described in the IPCC figure.

      • In terms of radiation, the only bands that can increase in response to a drop in the CO2 band output, are the ones that don’t get blocked by CO2, so those are the ones from nearer the surface. Surface warming compensates for the cooling in the CO2 band.

    • Dave Springer

      The TOA imbalance is calculated (read modeled) not measured.

      If you want a good laugh read up on how different attempts to measure planetary albedo do not have satisfactory agreement. The hypothetical TOA energy imbalance calculated by change in ocean heat content and blamed on anthropogenic forcing is 0.5-1.5W/m2. Different attempts to measure planetary albedo disagree by as much 1%. See figure 3 below

      A 1% difference in albedo is about 14W/m2 that is or isn’t reaching the surface of the earth to warm it. Anthropogenic forcing is 10 times smaller. Morever, two of the three programs attempting to measure global average albedo from year to year show it increasing during the past 15 years which happens to align with the cessation of global warming.

      Ain’t that a hoot?

      measure global average albedo to better than a few percent. Every percent difference in albedo is about 14W/m2 while the ostensible imbalance is 1.4W/m2.

      • You forgot to divide by four. A 1% difference in albedo is not 14W/m^2 but 3.5W/m^2 when given for the whole surface as all the other numbers are given.

      • Albedo is a rather relative term; different molecules have different absorbance spectra. There are few materials that have the same absorbance from 400 to 1000 nm. Water has a quite different albedo at 400 nm than at 800 nm, the same energy packet delivered to two pools of water at 400 nm and 800 nm would have quite different heating profiles.

      • The albedo is for the solar SW spectrum as a whole, integrated over all wavelengths. That’s just one well defined number. The detailed wavelength dependence of that is of much lesser significance.

      • Pekka, there are huge changes in the SW/LW albedo of a farmers field over the course of a year. If you cannot accept that, and do not understand why an ‘annual’ albedo is useless for modeling, then there is no point in you talking about models.

      • What makes you think that I could not accept that. I accept also that there’s an even larger difference in the albedo in areas that are covered by snow in winter but dark in summer. Variability in cloudiness is also an important factor. I do accept that the albedo is very different for different parts of the globe and that these differences vary.

        That has little to do with your previous comment. and I wonder why you picked that particular effect among the many causes of variability.

        The annual variability and regional differences in albedo are certainly more important for a full analysis than the dependence on the wavelength within the SW spectrum.

      • Any of these factors that demonstrate extreme climate sensitivity, such as albedo, will also contribute to potential for positive feedbacks in AGW. The fact skeptics always conveniently ignore this goes to show us how fake they are. Sane goes for climate sensitivity as demonstrated the past thousand years of human records. The site had a recent commentary on this fundamental observation and how the dirt gets swept under the rug by the fakers.

      • Web
        “Sane goes for [extreme] climate sensitivity as demonstrated the past thousand years of human records. ”

        So a thousands years of CO2 and temperature records show extreme sensitivity? Is that for real, or just the usual IPCC/mainstream alarmist fakery?

      • Climate sensitivity is a trick box for fake skeptics. They can’t have it both ways.

      • Climate sensitivity was made a centerpiece by fake alarmists in the first place.

  6. Steven Mosher


    ‘So, if you increase the longwave radiative forcing from CO2, which of the following happens?”

    I am assuming that the effect would be the same regardless of the cause of the increase in downwelling longwave?

    Interesting choice of 6 models. what do the other 15 or so look like?

    I notice they reference Vose 2005 for the GHCN data. Not sure I would pick only that to compare against GCM runs. It only had 71% coverage and a pretty lax definition of temporal completeness. Would be interesting to see how reanalysis data looks.

  7. “But, remember that the global temperature record in such comparisons is based on the daily Tmean (the average of Tmax and Tmin)”

    This method of calculating average temperatures has worried me for many years, but for different reasons. Clearly the average diurnal temperature should be the continuous integral of temperature divided by time (or the definite integral). Clearly this differs from the above average because the lapse rate of temperature during the night follows a quite different trajectory from the rise and fall during daylight hours. If as suggested by the article minimum temperatures have been rising without rises in tmax. this further increases the sampling error.

  8. ‘Thus, models may be overstating the water vapor feedback’. Well, they are, as I’ve known for years. But I didn’t know why, and maybe this is part of why.

    • I don’t know. Stay tuned. If most of the WV feedback occurs in the tropical free troposphere, then this may not be part of why.

    • Dave Springer

      Because where you have more water vapor you have more clouds and clouds have a negative feedback due to high albedo. Highest mean annual temperatures are found in the dryest places not the wettest. The water cycle cools the surface and reduces the lapse rate between ground and clouds. It isn’t rocket science.

  9. And they still say the science is settled. The King has no clothes on. Data does not support the alarmism.

  10. #2 was my choice. The real questions though, go to what happens next. Do clouds, on average, form or dissipate? What happens to the air temperature at the lowest 30 meters: Over our cities; Over our oceans; Over our deserts; Over our forests; Over our farmlands; Over our permanent ice? What becomes of our winds? How do our flora respond and what is the knock-on effect of that response?

    Does energy in the atmosphere move more quickly to the blackness between the stars? Given that the horizon above ground level is greater than 180º and the radiation of CO2 molecules is on average 360º I would think so and consequently putting energy into the sky is the first step to eliminating it from our system.

    Show your work.

  11. I think it’s worth putting these results in a little bit of context. The McNider paper is very interesting, and my interpretation without being well-versed in boundary layer dynamics, is that it will be a useful contribution. But some of the out-of-paper extrapolations don’t at all follow, and I think McNider et al miss the boat on some important points.

    To begin with, it doesn’t look like the authors really understand the definition of “radiative forcing” or how the greenhouse effect works. In their experiments, they increase the downward infrared radiation to the surface by close to 5 W/m2. They make odd passing-by remarks comparing a few cited values to “3.7 W/m2 for a doubling of CO2,” and also talk about how aersosols or other things can enhance downwelling IR too.

    This is all well and good, but the fundamental mechanism behind the greenhouse effect is that energy is being accumulated in the whole tropospheric system, since the top of the atmosphere energy budget is perturbed. This would happen even if the instantaneous response to adding CO2 didn’t increase the downward IR at all, for instance if the boundary layer was so filled with water vapor and clouds that it emitted like a black body at its current temperature…in this case the only way to increase the downwelling IR is to increase the lower atmospheric temperature, which will inevitably happen as the whole planetary budget is out of balance. I’m not sure the opening question by Judith is well-posed in this context.

    As even the study notes, this is not a climate study that is in position to explore the long-term effects of accumulated energy in the whole system, as must happen when you keep adding CO2. What do people think will happen from a climate standpoint– that you will keep “redistributing energy” by warming the surface and cooling aloft indefinitely, as you increase CO2? The simple fact is that daytime or nighttime, more CO2 will make it warmer in the long-term.

    It’s also worth noting that there is an immense literature of convection over land and ocean, in the tropics, etc, and the relevant mechanisms differ depending on where/when you are talking about. For example, in the tropics, you can get a couple peaks in convective maxima over the diurnal cycle, including one in early morning, while on land it often occurs in the late afternoon.

    • maksimovich

      There are a number of problems that arise in respect to the discussion of diurnal cycles,the first classical problem is with a harmonic oscillator (which is almost obvious as night and day ) and the constraints on heat transport that emerge eg Fouriers law does not hold.

    • Chris,

      I don’t think that your criticism on understanding the GHE is relevant for the paper. As far as I can judge the paper is about one mechanism that influences the surface temperatures when there’s more downwards LWIR in addition of the effects of overall warming. The connection to the GH warming comes only through the interpretation of the surface temperature measurements.

      Living rather far north (60N) it’s easy to accept the idea that rather weak influences may have a large effect on the average night time surface temperatures by changing the occurrence of inversion as the temperatures vary much more widely under such conditions than at other times. I have no idea, how large this effect could be on global scale as I would guess that such effects are much less prominent under other conditions.

      Another observation that may be related is that the monthly average temperatures vary here in Finland much more in winter than in summer. The difference between the warmest and coldest January since 1908 is about 19C while the difference is 8C in July. This means certainly that the average surface temperature trends do not tell directly about the strength of the overall warming but are probably amplified by the sensitivity of part of the measurements to rather small changes in the overall Earth system. I do think that variations in the inversion is a major, if no the major, reason for this, but then I’m not a meteorologist or climate science and may thus lack some crucial information in making my judgment.

    • Dave Springer

      Unfortunately for your hypothesis, Chris, the troposphere has stubbornly not accumulated any extra energy for the past 13 years. Your cohorts are looking for the missing energy in the ocean. I suggest y’all start looking for the missing energy in a sphere surrounding the earth with a radius of 13 light years.

    • “This is all well and good, but the fundamental mechanism behind the greenhouse effect is that energy is being accumulated in the whole tropospheric system, since the top of the atmosphere energy budget is perturbed”

      Interesting definition. In what form is the energy that you believe to have changed over the last 100 years?
      A) It cannot be the total number of photons, nor a shift in the emission spectrum to the blue.
      B) Latent heat in the form of water vapor should stick out like a sore thumb. As energy is added to the system one should observe an increase in water vapor at all altitudes. Where is the water?
      C) One cannot have an increase in the amount of thermal energy of the atmosphere as the diurnal temperature swing of the atmosphere an order of magnitude is greater than any change you will get in the long term (Tmax+Tmin)/2.
      Indeed, the only form of energy storage would consist of a slight increase in Tmin during the hours of darkness.
      As it happens we are in luck. We can actually compare the change in ability of the atmosphere to warm and cool in response to known influxes. The diurnal temperature of the Antarctic should be particularly sensitive to nighttime atmospheric downward energy flux, thus any change in the total atmospheric energy should be manifest in the lineshape and amplitude in the Antarctic temperature.
      If you are correct that there has been a change into total atmospheric energy, the comparing the diurnal temperature of the Antarctic from the 1960’s to the naught’s should show:
      1) An increase in Tmin.
      2) An increase in Tmax.
      3) An increase in the rate at which T1 transition to T2 during the daylight part of the cycle.
      4) A decrease in the rate at which T2 transition to T1 during the nightlight part of the cycle.

      However, this has not occurred. There is no statistical difference between the early part of the record, from 1959, to the present day. Moreover, there is no difference in the rate of temperature change (jan-dec, feb-jan) when you compare the (1959-85) and(1986-2012) periods.

      Your ball.

      BTW. Still waiting for you updated Earth Energy Budget, with the warmed atmospheric bands clearly marked in terms of temperature and radiative flux.

    • I would read the paper in terms of the effect of all this on climate change. If the models are not getting Tmin exactly right now, and have the same biases in the future climate, the effect is a wash in terms of the climate change signal. If the paper is implying that the Tmin error itself is very sensitive to changing longwave forcing by CO2, they have not made a strong argument supporting that, and it seems unlikely considering how subtle the CO2 effect is compared to other surface terms, that and extra 4 W/m2 will affect the Tmin error much.

    • Climate Weenie

      Right. There’s a difference between the accumulation of energy within the earth system due to emission changes and changes at the surface. The IPCC has these depictions:

      But this still raises questions.

      I’m not sure I buy that the aerosol component is certain ( and is probably shrinking due to the decrease in SO2 emissions ) but taking it at face value, it does imply a cooling surface with all the heat accumulation taking place above the surface.

      So there is ‘forcing’ at the surface and the defined Radiative Forcing at the tropopause. There is the question of variation around the surface as well.

      The tropopause seems like a good place to assess forcing because of the stability of the stratosphere, but this is problematic. For parts of the earth, namely the polar regions, there are areas where no level meets the definition of tropopause. In other areas, namely the tropics, there are usually two levels which meet the standard definition of tropopause.

      While the stratosphere is quite stable, the exchange between troposphere and stratosphere is not zero, and there doesn’t seem to be a n empirically established number for the amount of exchange. My copy of Holton’s text on the stratosphere suggests a value of 10% a year, but he notes there is not a good means of estimating the value. Trop-Strat exchange tends to spread thermal energy accumulated because of increased CO2 from the troposphere to the stratosphere where it becomes more readily lost to space.

      Another spatial issue to radiative change is horizontal. The high polar cold season areas ( Antarctica and Greenland ) as well as very high cloudy tropical regions such as the ITCZ will emit more energy to space with more CO2 than before because the surface of emission ( high clouds or Antarctic surface ) has a temperature colder than the lower stratosphere. The Myhre et. al. 3.7 W/m^2 is from three soundings has become cannonical, but it is from three soundings of averages which are unlikely to be found in nature. The global average may not vary much from the 3.7, and they indicate that when compared to re-analysis, three soundings were sufficient, but the highland winter soundings show definite net negative forcing above 300mb or so. What does this indicate? Should CO2 then mean colder Antarctic outbreaks? That’s certainly what the radiative forcing indicates. What does this mean to global RF? Antarctica is a small portion of earth’s area, but is also important to general circulation in the formation of polar air masses.

      Finally, the vertical distribution of radiative forcing raises unanswered questions. When one examines the vertical profile of net energy change due to 2xCO2, the base of the sounding immediately shows a positive net of a few Watts/m^2. Then, (excluding the polar, high cloud cases above ), the net change smoothly increases to a max in the mid to upper troposphere, then the net change smoothly decreases to a still positive minimum in the stratosphere or mesosphere. What ARE we to make of the positive forcing at the surface ( in to the ground/ocean )? The troposphere mixes, and we know the per-industrial global average radiative forcing would already lead to a super-adiabatic profile. If one adds additional energy to the surface of such a profile, the same amount of convective motion would lead to the additional energy transport upward. If such a thing occurs, isn’t the 3.7 moderated by existing atmospheric motion?

      • Tropopause? You mean that brilliant choice of a thermodynamic frame of reference located at a temperature inversion that varies chaotically with changes in heat capacity?

      • Don’t worry Captain, Chris Colose is going to provide us with a new, improved, Trenberth-style Energy Budget Diagram, but showing the temperature and upward/downward radiative flux of the various layers of the atmosphere.
        I am so looking forward to it.

        Captain; have you seen the disclaimer in Wiki after their removal of all the Trenberth energy diagrams?

        ” Note on accompanying images: These graphics depict only net energy transfer. There is no attempt to depict the role of greenhouse gases and the exchange that occurs between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere or any other exchanges”

      • So they final got it back on wikipedia? It was MIA there for a while :)

      • Nice touch. Note the 10PW atmospheric window is 20Wm-2, half of what Trenberth had, 40Wm-2. :)

      • Don’t forget Chris Colose is going to deliver the definitive one ;-)
        The numbers are going to be PERFECT.

      • Just what do they mean by ‘forcing’ ?
        A ‘forcing’ has units of energy flux and they state that aerosols modulate the influx and efflux of photons with respect to the Earths surface.
        Lets do a tiny thought experiment.
        A dust particle in the atmosphere is going to be isothermal with respect to its environment, it is both a heat sink and heat source depending on whether colliding gas molecules have high or lower than average velocity.
        Now our dust particle is a pretty good black body; it absorbs visible and IR light, and the energy heats it up, and so heats the local gas.
        Increasing the amount of dust in the atmosphere heats the dust, increasing the atmospheric temperature and cuts down on the influx of light reaching the surface.
        Now your IPCC diagram is just nuts Dust from volcanoes affects both ‘surface forcing and radiative forcing’, but other aerosols don’t.
        Again we are going to come back to words meaning different things, in different places, at different times, to different climate scientists.
        They will not use classical thermodynamic and kinetic descriptions, instead they use ill-defined or undefined terms that give them infinite felxibility.

    • Chris Colose,

      On the point of radiative forcing at the surface, you are correct that the authors may have misinterpreted Kiehl, J. T. (2007), Twentieth century climate model response and climate sensitivity.

      The attribution of radiative forcing in the Kiehl paper is for top of atmosphere forcing (actually forcing at the tropopause according to the standard IPCC definition) as a result of doubling CO2.

      By way of reference, Collins et al (2006), Radiative forcing by well-mixed greenhouse gases: Estimates from climate models in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) report that the calculation by line by line models of surface forcing is 0.6 W/m^2 for pre-industrial to today and 1.6 W/m^2 for current to doubled CO2.

      However, when you say “ doesn’t look like the authors really understand the definition of “radiative forcing” or how the greenhouse effect works..” I think you should reconsider.

      The paper itself makes no claim about the “greenhouse” effect that contradicts standard uncontroversial theory. (I use the phrase “uncontroversial theory” in reference to the science world rather than the blog world).

      I have found nothing in many papers by Pielke and Christy to indicate any lack of understanding of physics basics on this “greenhouse” effect.

      Now Pielke has a strong interest in boundary layer meteorology and has written extensively on it.

      This new paper on boundary layer meteorology demonstrates that more detailed models can illuminate the problem of standard GCMs in predicting Tmin. And the mechanism of real increased Tmin over GCM’s prediction of Tmin may be due to atmospheric turbulence redistributing heat.

      There is no overturning of standard theory in this paper and no misuse or misunderstanding of standard theory. Well, not as far as I can see.

  12. ‘While I appreciate the comments, it seems there is some confusion on our paper, perhaps because Anthony only put part of my blog on his site. I would suggest you go to Roger Pielke’s site to read the full blog. Our paper was not meant as another CO2 contributes to global warming paper – in fact a reviewer said the global warming community would not like our results. It was also not meant to be a paper on the UHI but our results do show the nightime boundary layer is sensitive to surface parameters. I believe strongly that land use changes have a profound effect on temperatures especially nighttime temps. Rather, our paper was pointing out that even in areas where land use has not impacted temperatures that there is a boundary layer process where added downward radiation (from CO2 or aerosols) can destabilize the boundary layer and produce a redistribution of heat (just as land surface changes do) warming the shelter level temperature. Thus, this process is not about an accumulation of heat (the real essense of global warming theory) but about a warming of a thin layer at the surface 20-50 meters thick due largely to a redistribution of heat in the nocturnal boundary layer.

    The asymmetry in warming of Tmin by this process (and land use) and the lack of GCM’s to replicate this Tmin warming (and land use Tmin warming) means that when models match the global Tmean (which is what modelers claim as proof of model fidelity) but not Tmin then they are warming Tmax too much. Because Tmax is tied to a deeper boundary layer it means that they are likely warming a much deeper layer than the thin warming in observed Tmin. Water vapor feedbacks require a deep warming. I think our paper indicates that observed temperatures are only showing a shallow warming, so models are likely overstating the deep troposphere warming (which is consistent with the Christy-Spencer satellite and model discrepancy). Because models are over-warming a deeper layer, water vapor feedbacks are likely being overstated. I think this is consistent with Roy Spencer’s hypothesis that models are too sensitive to feedbacks.’ Dick McNider

    I had not intended to comment at all – it is almost all a mystery to me – but I have been reading. What annoyed me into this was Chris’ harking back to a simple and repetitive cult of the AGW space cadets narrative. Chris’ comment seems entirely off topic as it is not relevant to anything in the paper. There are no correspondences to McNider’s succinct comment above. Still – I did note the shibboleth of McNider failing to understand simple radiative physics.

    I heard this same shibboleth just today on the Science Show – a weekly Australian radio program. ‘It is just irrefutable radiative physics’. But it isn’t – it is much more than simple radiative physics. The fundamental mode of climate functioning owes more to the physics of complex systems than simple radiative theory.

    Frankly – I can’t get too excited about models being too sensitive to feedacks. This paper is for the next generaton of models – finer grids, better data, more complete processes and couplings and a 1000 times more computing power.

    Robert I Ellison
    Chief Hydrologist

    • Joe's World


      Changing land from trees/swamps to concrete, soil and other man-made materials would change the eco-system of absorption and stored energy.

      Our sensitivity of pressure measuring has a great deal to explain why we have a variety of anomalies from the moons effect on water to the apparent areas of pressure troughs that defy current “model logic”.
      But this is what I get from the velocity differences of the planet.
      This then MUST change the whole concept of the strength of gravity when dealing with a variety of gases and pressure from layering in a rotational setting.
      It is not a coincidence that pressure in oceans are layered but oceans have a very different density to gases and do compress gases when trapped in water.
      (Note: Anytime I try to prove points or areas missed, I get chopped…but I’ll just keep coming from this at different ways until the logic button of common sense takes over.)

  13. From 1850 to 2011 the annual global temperature rose by 0.78 °C. CO2 equivalent rose from 289.0 to 464.1 ppm. This implies a sensitivity to CO2e doubling of 1.14 °C, almost exactly the no feedback value. It therefore follows that either there has been no water vapour feedback since 1850, despite three periods of rapid warming, or there has been some feedback in which case the non feedback sensitivity must be less than generally assumed.

    • Ron, you write “This implies a sensitivity to CO2e doubling of 1.14 °C, ”

      As I have pointed out before, this is the absolute maximum value of climate sensitivity. It assumes that none of the warming was due to natural causes. If all of the warming was due to natural causes, then the climate sensitivity of CO2 is indistinguishable from zero. Which I suspect is the correct value, since there is no CO2 signal in any temperature/time graph with data from the 20th and 21st centuries.

      • I’ve been playing around with regression equations, regressing global temperature against GHG forcing, AMO, TSI and optical depth. The surprising, and apparently anomalous conclusion, is that virtually all the warming since 1850 has been due to GHG forcing but that in the next few decades global temperatures are likely to rise by only about 0.1 °C.

      • Curious from Cleethorpes

        Jim, Agreed – but by the same logic it could easily be double if the natural signal has been in a period of “cooling” during this time. The reality is at present we just don’t know and the solution (as always) is we need more data.

      • Jim and Curious

        As far as impacts from PDO, ENSO, etc. are concerned, I am not aware of any conclusive evidence that these have played a significant role in the observed warming over the long term (maybe the Chief has some thoughts on this), but we do have several solar studies, which indicate that around half of the past recorded warming has been caused by the unusually high level of 20th century solar activity (highest in several thousand years).

        [This high solar activity seems to have reversed itself most recently, and we are seeing a “lack of warming” over the past 10 to 15 years.]


      • Curious, you write “Agreed – but by the same logic it could easily be double if the natural signal has been in a period of “cooling” during this time.”

        And I agree with you. And you raise an important issue which I have written about before, and which was omitted from what I wrote. Until we understand all the details of all natural causes of temperature change, we can never be certain that any particular rise in surface temperature has been caused by increasing levels of CO2. This was the mistake the IPCC made, ab inbitio, that all natural causes were accounted for. This should have been obvious to people with names like Houghton and Watson, and what they should have said 40 years ago, was that physics will never be able to tell us what happens to temperatures when more and more CO2 is added to the atmosphere.

      • Good point Jim. It also assumes no other anthro causes, like methane and land use, not to mention that the warming may not be there, which the satellites suggest. But Ron’s point is sufficient to kill CAGW.

        The problem is that CAGW is not based on observation, so observation is irrelevant. CAGW is a theoretical construct. People who believe that fundamental physics says that increasing CO2 MUST increase temperature and water vapor are immune to observational anomalies. For them the science is settled.

      • David, you write “The problem is that CAGW is not based on observation, so observation is irrelevant.”

        I agree in one sense, and violently disagree in another. What you say is obviously true for those who believe in CAGW. But I am a student of the history of science; the history of physics. If it were true that “observation is irrelevant”, then this is unique in the annals of the history of physics. And I use the word “unique” in it’s proper sense. There has never been an occasion, since the days of Galileo and Newton, when physics was not based on observation. It has never happened before.

        So, either CAGW is some newfangled branch of physics were observations are irrelevant, or CAGW is a load of scientific nonsense. There are no other alternatives.

      • On the contrary Jim, paradigms normally resist contrary observations. The astronomical community did not accept the Copernican view until over a hundred years following Galileo’s observations. As with any social institution, fundamental scientific change comes slowly, then in a rush. I have (gasp, choke) modeled this, using a disease model.

      • David, you write “As with any social institution, fundamental scientific change comes slowly, then in a rush”

        I am sorry, you are missing the point. Throughout the history of physics, there have been numerous occasions where there were rival theories as to what was happening. In all cases, without exception, the argument was settled by observed data. The classic case is Michelson/Morley. Empirical data is the Supreme Court of Physics.

        And it will be no different with CAGW. The final nail in the CAGW coffin will be based on observed data.

      • David Wojick

        We are talking past each other Jim. You are talking eventually but I am talking now. I am invoking Kuhn’s model of science, whereby anomalies do not overturn paradigms the moment they arise. Science is more complicated than that. The paradigm is protected by new secondary hypotheses. Do you know Kuhn’s model? It transformed the theory of science.

        The point is that the community’s stubborn embrace of the CAGW paradigm is not unique to science, which you claimed. What is unique is the politicization.

        BTW the M-M experiment did not settle a case of rival theories. It was an anomaly that provoked a new theory, relativity, which did not previously exist. Nor is the present climate debate a simple case of rival theories. It is much more complex than that.

      • David, you write “The point is that the community’s stubborn embrace of the CAGW paradigm is not unique to science, which you claimed.”

        I never claimed anything of the sort. The stubbon stance on CAGW is similar to many other instances where there is no clear empirical evidence, and two sides hold opposing views. There are numerous instances of this in the history of science.

        The point I am trying to make is that when these differences arose, then, in the end, the issue was always settled by empirical evidence. The same will be true for CAGW.

      • David Wojick: “BTW the M-M experiment did not settle a case of rival theories. It was an anomaly that provoked a new theory, relativity, which did not previously exist.”

        Off topic, but this is wrong. Many in the field believed that the M-M experiment validated Stokes’ “entrained ether” theory, and thus it was not an anomaly at all. Einstein himself always claimed he didn’t know about the M-M experiment in 1905. His paper, “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” is as theoretical as you can get, complaining on the first page about the asymmetry in Maxwell’s equations of moving wire versus moving magnet. He then makes the bold claim that Maxwell’s equations imply that the speed of light is constant relative to any moving body (making the ether irrelevant), and derives his theory of space-time relatvity from that. Then in the last part of the paper, Einstein changes Maxwell’s equations (slightly) to make them a better fit to his metaphysical arguments.

        He actually left himself wide open to any new discovery (new data)–which makes his paper all the more remarkable.

      • Dave Springer

        Yes it was based on observation. From roughly 1979 to 1999 global average temperature as observed by the first instrument system capable of measuring it increased by 0.25C/decade. This is understandably alarming if it kept up for a century. The consensus of climate boffins was that it would. Hoever in the next 13 years the rate dropped to 0.01C/decade and continues at that snail’s pace. If history repeats itself the flat line will become a falling line and cancel the warming of prior decades.

        Individual climate boffins are now somewhere in the 5 stages of grief over the death of their hypothesis.

        1. Denial and isolation – i.e. hide the decline, avoid public debate, circle the wagons, don’t share data.

        2. Anger – Lashing out. Calling for criminal actions against skeptics. Threatening to beat people up. Projecting their own denial onto others.

        3. Bargaining – Cap and trade. Ban incandescent light bulbs. Subsidize carbon-neutral or carbon free technologies.

        4. Depression – self explanatory.

        5. Acceptance – Admit mistakes. Acknowledge contrary observations. Get wise. Join the skeptics.

        :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

        Smilies in fond remembrance of John Sidles wherever he is.

      • Sadly, your fantasies about the people who have whipped you so soundly, over and over, show that you are still trapped in the “denial” stage.

      • Actually it was the 150 years of warming claimed by Jones and Wigley, based on a statistical model, in the mid 80’s that set the stage, plus Hansen’s theoretical modeling. The real observational instrument, the satellites, which showed no warming at all, were ignored. This pattern of ignoring observation has not changed.

      • Awkward to mention the satellites when their misinterpretation was one of Christy’s famous blunders.

        Reanalyzed by more competent or more objective scientists, all the satellite records show warming. Apparently some people are still in denial about that . . .

      • Robert,”Awkward to mention the satellites when their misinterpretation was one of Christy’s famous blunders.” Blunders are a part of science and life. It is how you deal with your blunders that matters.

      • Dave Springer


        Here is the last 15 years (180 months) of lower troposphere temperature from RSS. I avoided UAH since you don’t trust Christy.

        On which planet would that be considered a warming trend?

      • Dave Springer

        Idiot tracker, track thyself.

        :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll:

      • Robert,

        Sadly your fastasies about whipping people are out of place on a family blog. Besides you couldn’t whip cream.


      • Sorry, Dave, the trend in RSS is +.137C/decade. It is, of course, artificially low because of poor coverage of the poles, where the warming trend in strongest. Your cherry pick, sadly, is rejected.

        CH — you don’t give yourself enough credit. I’ve whipped your little pink unmentionables up one side and down the other. Are you saying your easier to whip than cream? Sad.

        Climate deniers like you have lost the battle to deny global warming. I guess you’re lucky those same powers of rationalization can help you deny your abject failure to persuade.

      • “Ron, you write “This implies a sensitivity to CO2e doubling of 1.14 °C, ”

        As I have pointed out before, this is the absolute maximum value of climate sensitivity.”

        Uh no….that’s retarded. Seriously. But all the other “skeptics” agree with you.


      • Now, lolwot, that’s a very insensitive term to use. We don’t say “retarded.” We say “Goddardesque.” :)

    • We had the roman warm period without the extra CO2. We had the Medieval warm period without the extra CO2. There were many warm periods in the past without the extra CO2. We have the modern warm period with the extra CO2 and it is not warmer. That implies that CO2 may or may not have a trace of effect that is in the noise.

    • The skeptics used to argue almost unanimously against the IPCC conclusion that most of the warming was very likely anthropogenic, but there is a perceptible shift, led by Lindzen, to now accepting that IPCC conclusion. If they can now understand the masking effect of aerosols and the global dimming period, the transformation would be complete. Better estimates of the CO2 effect can be obtained by looking at the temperature change and CO2 change after 1980 (post dimming). The current CO2 value is 393 ppm, so I am guessing the 464 comes from some forcing estimate including other gas changes but leaving out aerosol changes(?).

      • Can you provide a ref where Lindzen accepts the IPCC conclusion? As far as I know, he still puts equilibrium climate sensitivity at 1C.

      • For example, his presentation to the UK Parliament in February.
        He uses the warming and the CO2 increase to argue for low sensitivity (ignoring aerosols of course), but implicitly agreeing that most, if not all, the warming since 1850 was due to CO2 (as in the IPCC statement about very likely most). This is the part he seems not to dispute. Sensitivity is another matter, because he doesn’t believe aerosols were important.

      • “You now have some idea of why I think that there won’t be much warming due to CO2, and without significant global warming, it is impossible to tie catastrophes to such warming. Even with significant warming it would have been extremely difficult to make this connection.”

        So, Lindzen is saying will not be any significant warming from human CO2 emission. He not saying it’s unlikely there will any significant warming from CO2, he saying it is not possible.

        Or Business as usual in regard to CO2 should not increase global temperature by more than 1 C in a century. Nor any significant warming regardless of how high the CO2 level is.

        So this suggests that we probably should concerned about say global CO2 level if over say, 1500 ppm. But not because such level would warm the planet, but perhaps for other reasons.

        So perhaps Lindzen is less skeptical, in that he knows IPCC is dead wrong. Or there is no reason why average global temperature will over 1 C warmer by 2100. Worrying about 2 C or higher is unwarranted and could be instead as much as 1 C cooler [which would actually something to worry about]. Or you can not in any way influence “climate change” by
        controlling CO2- assuming one could easily cause any level of CO2- it’s not a knob.

      • gbaikie, where he differs with IPCC is that he says we don’t know anything about aerosols, so we can ignore their effect. The IPCC takes aerosols seriously in climate forcing plus they have allowed for the sun to have an effect too, that Lindzen also seems to be ignoring. Perhaps Lindzen’s view is oversimplified, the way he presents it, at least. Some have said he actually exaggerated the anthropogenic non-CO2 GHG effect to get his CO2 sensitivity numbers to come out.

      • “gbaikie, where he differs with IPCC is that he says we don’t know anything about aerosols, so we can ignore their effect. ”

        I doubt, Lindzen thinks if there volcanic eruption that put over 100 cubic km of rock into the atmosphere, that we can ignore this.
        That we can ignore a Mount Tambora type eruption:
        “With an estimated ejecta volume of 160 km3 (38 cu mi), Tambora’s 1815 outburst was the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history.”
        Though the eruptions of 20th century putting less than 1 cubic km of aerosols in atmosphere could be mostly ignored.

        I think main issue, is there is no significant amplification from CO2 forcing.
        OR CO2 forcing is much lower then is thought. Pick either.

      • gbaikie, yes, I think he must be aware of volcanic effects, which makes it even more surprising that he ignores aerosols. Having successfully ignored them, he can come up with his sensitivity that he wanted to prove.

      • “Volcanic Aerosol

        Three types of aerosols significantly affect the Earth’s climate. The first is the volcanic aerosol layer which forms in the stratosphere after major volcanic eruptions like Mt. Pinatubo. The dominant aerosol layer is actually formed by sulfur dioxide gas which is converted to droplets of sulfuric acid in the stratosphere over the course of a week to several months after the eruption ….
        Desert Dust

        The second type of aerosol that may have a significant effect on climate is desert dust. Pictures from weather satellites often reveal dust veils streaming out over the Atlantic Ocean from the deserts of North Africa. Fallout from these layers has been observed at various locations on the American continent. …
        Human-Made Aerosol

        The third type of aerosol comes from human activities. While a large fraction of human-made aerosols come in the form of smoke from burning tropical forests, the major component comes in the form of sulfate aerosols created by the burning of coal and oil. The concentration of human-made sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere has grown rapidly since the start of the industrial revolution. At current production levels, human-made sulfate aerosols are thought to outweigh the naturally produced sulfate aerosols.”

      • David Wojick

        So far as I know Lindzen has always been a lukewarmer, accepting AGW but rejecting CAGW. Jim D’s characterization of the demographics of belief among skeptics is wildly wrong empirically.

  14. Joe's World


    Quite often scientists compare our planet to Venus with the massive CO2 differences and no water or other gases that rotates very slowly and backwards compared to Earth and is much closer to the sun.
    Now IF Venus was completely covered in water and rotated at the same speed as our planet, it’s temperature would actually be colder than Earth due to the lack of landmass.
    This is why I show water in space’s natural state is ice and their is a very narrow window of changing ice to water to vapor.
    It stores energy in rotation on a planet BUT does NOT have actual energy stored in space. It takes energy to melt it to water.

    • Joe's World


      Did not Mars show ice turn directly to vapor on that planet?
      Must be the pressure of gases holding water from turning it all to vapor…hmmm.

  15. This blog–and wattsupwiththat, and others–is just another ivory tower jam session, of fruitless, feckless theorizing based upon false assumptions and observational confusion. I don’t have all the answers, so I keep quiet (I merely presented the definitive evidence disproving the greenhouse effect, and confirmed the Standard Atmosphere model over all current, unstable, “radiative forcing” models, in my Venus/Earth comparison); others have even fewer correct answers than me, and they just keep hacking away, confusing one another and showing any disinterested scientist that they know nothing, and that there is no competent climate science, much less a robust climate science. So first, stop all goverrnmental “climate policies”, get the political divisions out of science, and turn over climate science to non-climate scientists for a long, leisurely review and rethinking, from the bottom up. And apologize, academics, for terrorizing the world and offering sham instead of true knowledge. You are just digging a deeper, wider hole you will have to climb out of.

    • Unfortunately your proposals are as unrealistic as world peace. I prefer to strive for real possibilites.

      • Well, maybe if we hold a climate science benefit rock concert we can achieve the climate science equivalent of world peace.

    • Joe's World


      It is due to your FAITH that the scientists are absolutely correct in EVERY aspect of their MATHEMATICAL world.
      Vast areas are missed while MANY others have been ignored.

  16. Dave Springer

    The reason night time lows have increased more than and daytime highs is that evaporation and convection is lower at night. As I’ve said over and over latent flux is the big kahuna. Understand the latent flow first and the lesser details fall into place. Where there is more water free to evaporate there is less greenhouse warming. This is clear anywhere you bother to look. The reason we don’t see the same diurnal effect over the ocean much is because day/night temperature doesn’t change much over the ocean so there’s commensurately less difference evaporation potential between day and night. There is a huge change over land with evaporation running so hard in the afternoon that regular thunderstorms form at the same time every day and so little at night that fog and dew are all over by morning.

    You can observe a lot by just watching. ~Yogi Berra

    • Dave Springer | July 21, 2012 at 7:29 am |

      This saying things over again and again, and the other obsessivly compulsive behaviors you’re experiencing.. is this a long-term thing, or has it been coming on suddenly of late?

      You might want to talk to your physician.

  17. So, is the minimum temperature rise seen, or seen to the same extent, in strictly rural stations vs urban ones? It seems thermometers in urban areas would see an increase in minimums simply due to the higher thermal mass of concrete, asphalt, and steel plus a lack of vegetation.

  18. “Quite often scientists compare our planet to Venus with the massive CO2 differences and no water or other gases that rotates very slowly and backwards compared to Earth and is much closer to the sun.”

    Venus is odd planet. Or Earth is odd. Or both are odd.
    Venus day is 2802 hrs [more than four times longer than our moon’s day]
    It’s atmosphere is 92 times larger than Earth and has 3% nitrogen.
    If you just count the nitrogen it has more than 3 times more nitrogen than our 78% nitrogen atmosphere has. Venus has extremely dry atmosphere: Water is 20 ppm.
    Venus is dry but it has water in it’s atmosphere nearly as much as earth has- because Venus has a lot of atmosphere: ~4.8 x 10^20 kg.
    Times that by .00002 and you have a lot of water.
    9.6 x 10^15 kg of H2O. Or somewhere around that number. 1 x 10^12 kg is cubic km of water. So around 9600 cubic km of water.
    On surface of moon there may be 10 billion tonnes of water, or 10 cubic km of water. With perhaps tens of millions of tonnes minable :)
    Earth atmosphere is 5.1 x 10^18 kg. Earth has about 3% water in tropical region and in the lower atmosphere, but for whole atmosphere probably around 1 %. Or Lake Superior in US has 12,100 cubic kilometers:
    So less water than is the largest lake in US, assuming Venus amount water in atmosphere was measured accurately.

    I like to think of earth atmosphere frozen or liquified: it’s 10 meter high- height of 3 story building. 7.8 meters of nitrogen, 2 meters of oxygen, less meter argon, about 10 cm of water, and 4 mm of CO2.
    With Venus it’s 920 meters tall, 888 meter or solid CO2, 32 meters of liquid nitrogen, and 1.8 cm of H2O.
    Ok, so less 1/5th of earth, but around amount water in earth’s atmosphere if you exclude the tropical region.

    • Dave Springer

      The key to understanding how greenhouse is not effecting Venus is knowing that a) surface winds are very very slow and b) the surface is the same temperature day/night, equator to poles.

      How does heat from the sun on a planet that is almost tidally locked with the sun get evenly distributed all over the planet’s surface?

      The answer is it does not. The surface of Venus is uniformly hot because it’s geothermal not solar thermal. Solar energy is largely reflected by the unbroken cloud cover and what isn’t reflected is absorbed high in the atmosphere and exits from whence it entered long before reaching the surface. It couldn’t possibly make it to the surface because it’s absorbed and thermalized in the cloud layer. How would it reach the groud – by conduction? It sure as hell won’t radiate through 90 bars of CO2 underneath the clouds.

      • Actually Dave, rotation speed of a spherical body and the Tmax/Tmin and (Tmax+Tmin)/2 is rather an interesting thought experiment.
        At very high rotation speed Tmax=Tmin and at very low speeds Tmax>>>>Tmin.
        The most important manifestation of rotation speed is water evaporation. An Earth with a 240 hour day would have a hell of a lot more water on its sunny side than now, and the slow speed of atmospheric transport to the night side wouldn’t allow it dump its heat; so warmer Earth.
        A 2.4 hour day would provide a lower Tmax and higher Tmin, but would support much less water vapor; so you have a much colder Earth,

      • “The answer is it does not. The surface of Venus is uniformly hot because it’s geothermal not solar thermal.”

        Such statement suggests things which could appear to be very wrong.
        It suggest Venus has more geothermal energy than Earth.
        And it suggests that if Venus were to be further sun [receiving far less solar energy] it would remain as hot.

        I suspect if Venus were at Mars distance, it would significantly cooler than most people would expect. Many people might expect Venus at Mars distance could be earth-like in temperatures. And I expect it would be a frozen hell. Whereas what your statement suggests is it would be about same in terms of being blazing hot furnace.

        I think the geothermal heat can explain why Venus is so hot, but it’s large amount solar energy is also a major element of why it’s hot. But not convinced geothermal energy is the reason, rather it may be a part of reason.

        What seems to me to be key elements is the Venus is losing little energy to space and CO2 is very transparent- more transparent than nitrogen..

        It seems to me the 92 atm atmosphere comprised of nitrogen would easily block all light to the surface, whereas from Russian probes that landed on Venus we know the surface isn’t inky darkness during the day, but rather diffused sunlight reaches the surface of Venus.
        I not arguing that this diffused sunlight is heating or not heating the surface, but rather that 92 atm of CO2 didn’t block it completely.

        I know that 92 atm of transparent water does block sunlight completely.
        92 time 10 meter is 920 meters. Which far below where the sunlight can penetrate Earth’s ocean:
        “Lastly, the ocean is also divided into vertical zones (from top to bottom). The upper part of the ocean to 656 feet deep (200m) where sunlight can reach is the photic zone (or euphotic zone). Deeper than 656 feet it is dark. This is the aphotic zone (or abyssal zone).”

        So it seems at least in regards with transparent water, transparent CO2 atmosphere of Venus allows sunlight penetrate to deeper depths.
        And if we 92 atm of Earth Atmosphere, it would very dim [or dark] at surface whereas with CO2 one would have fairly bright diffused sunlight.

        Or if Earth had 100% CO2 atmosphere and earth was hotter, the first thing want to know is how much solar energy is reaching the surface- it seems to me it could be significantly higher than 1000 watts per square meter at noon with sun at zenith. And if for example was say 1100 watts per square meter, then this could explain some of warming.

        On Earth one can see what the effect of sunlight shining thru more 1 atm of earth atmosphere, every day we see it. As the sun sets or rises it’s going thru more atmosphere- but it’s not equal to 92 atm of atmosphere. But how is it, anyhow. So from a high mountain the horizon is ….
        “Some extreme claims can surely be discounted, such as Jessen’s 1914 illusion. (Jessen claimed to have seen a mountain nearly 900 km away, but he certainly did not; Korzenewsky (1923), who refers to this report in a footnote, somehow inflated that to 1177 km.)

        What’s the record for visibility without help from the silhouetting effect? I think that might belong to the report of the expedition led by Korzenewsky (1923), who reported seeing snow-capped peaks of a mountain range 750 km away. ”
        So how many atmospheres would that be? At most, it seems one assume 20 km is about 1 atm, so that be at most around 40 atm worth.
        And so seems to indicate that our atmosphere probably twice as transparent of the ocean is [or more] , whereas Venus is at least 5 times as transparent as our ocean [or more].
        Now question is if Earth had 40 times it’s atmosphere, the sun shines fairly well at noon, but what about say 9 am.

        Or with certain level atmosphere [20, 30, 40, 50 times earth atmosphere] the brightness of the sun would be quite noticeably from morning to noon. Well to some extent this is already the case, I mean very noticeable.

        As said with Venus the increased transparency isn’t causing the ground to heated, but allowing the sunlight to go deeper is probably
        more significant.
        Said differently, if sunlight could reach twice as deep [or 5 times as deep] in ocean water, would anyone think this would have any effect on temperature of ocean. Obviously we have plant life deeper depth, but would effect temperature of ocean [and also temperature the entire planet?

  19. To echo Dave Springer and Yogi Berra, You can observe a lot by just watching. Concerning latent heat and dew–on clear nights, nighttime temperature is limited by the dew point. Forget the models, look at this relationship in the data. UHI, clouds and yes, circulation, will keep the temperature from dropping to the dew point. Why not put out instrumentation to actually measure these factors instead of trying to create a model that replicates these conditions?

  20. Joe's World


    The ego of one mindedness in science is where the big trouble of trying to BEND science for that single minded conclusion to a multi-complex system.
    Not understanding our planet first but then generating vast many theories.

    The CERN collider is a good example of ignoring EVERYTHING in our universe except for that single mathematical theory that they are trying to prove at the expense of actual reality of what is in our universe in the way of materials, for finding a single point of energy by slamming molecules together and hoping for a direct hit. Billions of dollars and very little useful science brought about many years ago before more technology was available.

  21. Interesting paper. It will be interesting to see if it holds up. The co-authors unfortunately include some scientists with a long record of pushing terrible papers and misrepresenting data in the quest for a refutation of mainstream climate science (Christy, Pielke.) Smart money says they’re at it again, but time will tell.

    I question the assertion that climate models assume (#2). If you pull up any standard diagram of the Earth’s radiation budget, it shows radiation heating the earth, being re-radiated again, and some of it escaping the atmosphere. Is Dr Curry saying the models omit all that, or that under current model dynamics it proves not to be particularly important? The argument wasn’t clear.

    • True, the paper includes authors some are not part of the team. The paper doesn’t compare every model, so that if you pick certain models you would get different results. So the team can cherry pick models to prove that the paper cherry picked models, instead of addressing why some models are over estimating impact. The circle remains closed. All is well in UNtopia.

      • It’s sad that you are already preparing your rationalizations for the (inevitable?) revelation that the lukewarmers have got their figures wrong.

        The burden of experience, I suppose.

        I would rather wait for the fallout than anticipate and disregard criticism beforehand. Already you are probably (minus the denialism) right that cherry-picking a handful of models is probably going to come back to bite them. But is I know my “skeptics” (and unfortunately I do) that will only be one of many serious errors of facts, reasoning, and/or methodology.

        I only hope we won’t see another journal editor resign in shame. ;)

      • Rational is the root of rationalization. The main take away from the paper is that temperature means squat if you don’t consider thermal capacity. That means that albedo means squat unless that energy is stored in the same proportion as the change in albedo. Which is a major flaw in all the models, neglecting other relevant physics.

        That is common in UNtopia, home of the linear no threshold mentality.

        See, you can show that to an UNtopian, and mention that there is a correlation of the shift in stratospheric cooling and the rate of ocean heat uptake that indicates that the oceans or at least some layer of the oceans is approaching a thermal capacity limit. The UNtopian responses with, “That doesn’t match the models and you likely used UAH which is suspect because we don’t like him, Ptttth! Besides, look at the ice melt in the Arctic.”

      • “Besides, look at the ice melt in the Arctic.”

        Yes, it’s a hardship when the objective facts of the physical world intrude upon your fantasy, isn’t?

        Build your beliefs out of the facts, rather than in spite of them, and you won’t have that problem.

        The rest of your pseudoscientific babble is highly amusing, and requires no commentary. You refute yourself.

      • No Robert, I just don’t like it when someone gets overly creative attempting to force reality to match their theories. Here is a sentence from a Russian agriculture report.
        “Science and advanced practical work recommend, in such cases, prompt breaking down of the ice incrustation and the settled snow with trailer implements. The fields should be sprinkled with peat dust for rapid snow thawing.

        I look at what a well mixed gas in the atmosphere should do and what is actually happening. The warming is still mainly in the northern hemisphere over land. The models still estimate minimal land use impact. It is not that hard for man to change climate, just get rid of snow. The rate and locations of “global warming” tend to match regional agriculture advancement. If you want an alternate theory to CO2 AGW, you don’t have to look far. Then if you are convinced that your theory is bullet proof, you wouldn’t look would you?

  22. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    As science evolves, denialism evolves too, and recent discussions here on Climate Etc. beautifully illustrate the evolution of a brand-new species of denialism, that might be called localistic denialism.

    Science has long distinguished conservation laws from transport dynamics. The former are simple, exact, and universal; the latter commonly are complicated, turbulent, and time-dependent. From the former science reliably predicts CO2-driven changes in climate, from the latter comes the local uncertainties that we experience as weather.

    This distinction is seen clearly in heat transport by ocean currents. In any local volume of the ocean we observe fluctuating heat content, but for the planet as a whole AGW theory reliably predicts, and experiment confirms, rising temperatures.

    Year-by-year, science gains better-and-better understanding of heat transport processes. In compensation, climate-change denialism is evolving too — we see it here on Climate Etc. and WUWT — in seeking to turn this progress inside out, by focusing narrowly on local fluctuations in temperatures, instead of globally on the earth’s heat budget. Hence the name, localistic denialism.

    It’s true that as we learn more-and-more about heat transport processes in climate, we will see more-and-more local fluctuations. And for sure, localistic denialists will raise shrill outcries about these fluctuations.

    The proper remedy for localistic denialism is simple: Integrate local understanding and observation into global understanding and observation.

    And the global integration of climate-change science leads us to just one conclusion: AGW is real, serious, and accelerating.

    That’s how denialism evolves, yet remains wrong. It’s simple, eh?   :)   :)   :)

    • lurker passing through, laughing

      It is more fun to watch the extremist consensus defenders continue to express their bigoted ignorance and fallacious dedication to their belief systems.
      Thanks for a nice entertaining example of both.

    • Dave Springer

      OMG! A page full of smilies worked like an indian rain dance!

      :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

    • Dave Springer

      “In any local volume of the ocean we observe fluctuating heat content, but for the planet as a whole AGW theory reliably predicts, and experiment confirms, rising temperatures.”

      Except fo the past 13 years of course. Flat as a pancake.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Please accept my thanks, for so nicely illustrating the main point, Dave Springer!   ;)

      What is your next question, in regard to the scientific community’s steadily improving understanding of transport physics in climate-change, and the non-rational response of localistic denialism to that improving understanding?   :)   :)   :)

    • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

      fan of more discourse: Science has long distinguished conservation laws from transport dynamics. The former are simple, exact, and universal; the latter commonly are complicated, turbulent, and time-dependent. From the former science reliably predicts CO2-driven changes in climate, from the latter comes the local uncertainties that we experience as weather.

      The derivations that predict an increase in mean temperature from a doubling of CO2 concentration are not exact, but are based on clearly stated approximations. See, for example, Principles of Planetary Climate by Raymond T. Pierrehumbert. The assumption that an equilibrium is possible in a high-dimensional non-linear dissipative system with varying inputs is certainly not “universal”.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        MattStat observes: “The assumption that a [quasi-] equilibrium is possible in a high-dimensional non-linear dissipative system with varying inputs is certainly not ‘universal'”

        LOL … yes, MattState, and that’s why my post took care to call it “commonplace”   :).

        Here too NOAA’s ocean current simulations are terrifically instructive.

        In effect, the eddy-currents in the ocean are “weather”, and the Gulf Stream is “climate”. And it’s becoming more-and-more impressive, how thoroughly we can simulate our planet’s small-scale “weather” and quantitatively predict its large-scale “climate.”

        So if these folks tell us that rising CO2 levels are cause for concern … maybe we ought to pay heed?

        It’s a thought … and perhaps it’s a wise thought.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        A fan of *MORE* discourse: maybe we ought to pay heed?

        I am definitely a fan of maybe paying heed. That is why I started reading the technical literature, textbooks and peer-reviewed articles.

        Maybe is the key word in the climate debate: maybe increased CO2 will increase mean, min or max T; maybe increased CO2 will decrease max T; maybe increased CO2 will have no net effect.

        More research, more modeling, more investment in alternative energy supplies, especially with the goals of decreasing the costs of mass production.

        Less belief.

        The key is “maybe”.

        And it’s becoming more-and-more impressive, how thoroughly we can simulate our planet’s small-scale “weather” and quantitatively predict its large-scale “climate.”

        I am increasingly impressed by how inaccurate and unreliable for prediction the models are. But I expect a reasonably accurate and unreliable model to emerge in the upcoming 20 years. Based on current models, you want to hedge all your bets and save a lot of cash for later.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        A fan of *MORE* discourse: yes, MattState, and that’s why my post took care to call it “commonplace”

        Are you backing off from your use of the word “universal”, in the passage that I quoted?

    • @fan
      As science evolves, denialism evolves too

      Meaning : as propaganda evolves, so does analysis of it.

      • Tomcat | July 22, 2012 at 1:28 am |

        Indeed, analysis of propaganda as a scholarly field has been going on since at least 1937.


        So there’s no need to re-evolve analysis of propaganda; it’s been done and advanced quite far already. One can learn quite a bit about identifying a propagandist by reading the literature.

        Unfortunately, if one brings a bias to any analysis, one is apt to make mistakes of attribution and categorization. It takes a lot of self-examination and re-checking of premises and definitions, double-blind testing and referring to more objective observers to validate one’s own conclusions.

        I suggest ask a dozen disinterested people to read snippets taken from all participants, blanking out identifying information not only about which ‘tribes’ are involved, but also which side of the issue. See if they can categorize the propaganda using the descriptions in the Propaganda Analysis literature. I predict they can, and I predict it’ll run about 5:1 more propaganda from those who deny the present need for action on AGW.

      • Certainly the IPCC is little but propaganda, and that is strongly alarmist. The only people who claim to believe it are those like yourself (Bart) deviously angling for more taxes and government.

    • Fan of more BS. The GHG in the atmosphere return some IR to the surface. But as far as the ocean is concerned, that 70% of the Earth’s surface, that IR can’t heat the ocean. That IR, as well as any other IR, will vaporise the top several microns of water, but not contribute much to the ocean’s heat content. Only visible light can contribute meaningfully to ocean heat content.

      • Sorry Jim2. You are completely correct saying that the top few microns of the ocean absorb all of the IR emitted downward by the atmosphere near the earth. However, the same top few microns emit all of the upward IR from the surface of the ocean. (IR photons emitted from deeper never reach the surface.) Since the emissivity of water (0.99) is higher than the emissivity of the atmosphere and since the atmosphere is usually cooler than the ocean (especially as one goes higher in the atmosphere with a lapse rate -6.5 degC/km), the top few microns of water usually have an energy deficit at infrared wavelengths. During the daytime, SWR from the sun can make up some of this deficit, but most visible wavelengths pass through the top few microns without being absorbed. Measurements show that the top few microns are usually slightly cooler than the water immediately below. The bulk of the ocean is warmed during the day by SWR that deposits most of its energy in the top few meters and that excess energy escapes to the surface mostly by convection at night, where it compensates for the net energy loss from the top few microns at IR wavelengths.

        If you believe in the K-T diagram of measured/calculated surface energy balance and you recognize that most of the surface is ocean, it is clear that the surface of the ocean will quickly freeze if it doesn’t absorb the 333 W/m2 of DLR from the atmosphere. The other numbers in the diagram seem to be fairly easy to measure and therefore reliable: About 390 W/m2 of upward IR, about 160 W/m2 of downward SWR, and about 80 W/m2 of upward latent heat in water vapor (which returns as roughly 1 m per year of precipitation). It isn’t possible to balance surface energy fluxes if you hypothesize that DLR doesn’t warm the ocean.

      • Frank – you make way too much sense.

        To restore insanity, braincells from the top few microns of actual human brains are about to gas off.

      • Interesting Frank,” If you believe in the K-T diagram of measured/calculated surface energy balance and you recognize that most of the surface is ocean, it is clear that the surface of the ocean will quickly freeze if it doesn’t absorb the 333 W/m2 of DLR from the atmosphere.”

        Proof by cartoon, what a novel concept :)

      • Frankly, Frank, that sounds like a huge load of BS. So, you are saying water on a planet with no GHG will freeze??? Right, Frank.

      • So what I’m hearing here is :

        1. SW down warms both the ocean and the land

        2. But only the ocean emits LW up.

        3. CO2 absorbs this LW, but re-emits it in all directions.

        4. A (presumably small) portion of this re-emitted LW is directed downward, and hence reaches ocean and the land.

        5. The land is largely unaffected by this LW down (? or it it warmed?)

        6. The ocean absorbs this LW down, and is warmed as a result.

        Some observations

        1. LW has zero net impact on the CO2-laden atmosphere, since CO2 re-emits what it absorbs, thus remaining at the same temperature.

        2. When the ocean ocean absorbs SW, it emits some LW.
        But when it absorbs the LW that has been returned to it by the CO2 re-emission, it does not emit LW (or anything else), it warms up.

      • Hi Handel, a few remarks:

        //”1. SW down warms both the ocean and the land”

        //”2. But only the ocean emits LW up.”//

        No, any solids or liquids with a temperature emit radiation, whether it be the land or your body or a building…virtually all of it is “longwave” on Earth. Gas emission is a more interesting problem…

        //”3. CO2 absorbs this LW, but re-emits it in all directions.”//


        It’s in the later points I think it’s better to reframe how you are thinking about the problem.

        It is usually more useful to think about the effect of adding extra CO2 in terms of its impact on the total planetary energy budget, not just on its impact on the extra longwave radiation that is received by the surface, or to consider a CO2 molecule in isolation. In fact, it wouldn’t be too hard to come up with a hypothetical situation in which more CO2 wouldn’t immediately change the downwelling IR flux, but could still warm the planet.

        Maybe this will be a good start

  23. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    “In any local volume of the ocean we observe fluctuating heat content, but for the planet as a whole AGW theory reliably predicts, and experiment confirms, rising temperatures.”

    Dave Springer asserts “Except fo[r] the past 13 years of course. Flat as a pancake.”

    Dave Springer, a review of the data establishes that your assertion is factually incorrect.

    What other misapprehensions may we correct for you, Dave Springer?   :)   :)   :)

  24. (ΔT = λ * ΔF)

    Null hypothesis: λ = 0

    All climate models assume thermalisation of CO2 absorbed IR. There is no experimental proof of this. Only radiative transfer data collected in IR reflective chambers. Quantum physics argument for absence of thermalisation is here:

    High-school level physics argument is here:
    An earth which is unable to emit IR from the surface would be isothermal. Earth has no significant mass transfer with space. An isothermal earth must be much warmer at the surface than presently, because of the internal heat source which is the core. Even if there is no sun, an earth unable to emit will be warmer at the surface. If there is no sun and we add IR emitters at the surface/atmosphere, the earth will be cooler than the isothermal non-IR emitting earth. Ergo, it is the role of IR absorber/emitters to cool the surface to less than isothermal by radiation to space.

    Cyclic heating/cooling of the surface by the sun adds a small amount of heat energy, but this amount is entirely dependent on cyclic heating cooling effects and the magnitude of sun’s radiation. Solar effects on climate are well described. I believe the cyclic heating/cooling effects on average will be independent of all known physical parameters – molecular composition, IR absorption, etc. Anything which might heat faster in the daytime sun will cool faster in the night. Anything which might absorb more in the day will emit more at night. Anything which can heat or cool asymmetrically in the heating/cooling cycle without the addition of work must represent a perpetum mobile.

    Experimental evidence disproving any single statement above is welcome.

    • blouis79 | July 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |

      Experimental evidence?

      Blue eyes contain no blue pigment. Nor do blue skies.

      The blue is the result of Rayleigh Scattering.

      The rest can be done by inference from the existence of blue eyes and blue skies.

      Your argument is invalid. Well, other than being pretty much pure babble.

  25. Why don’t these models consider the 70% of the Earth’s surface that is covered by clouds, where greenhouse has no impact whatsoever.

    • Dr A Burns | July 21, 2012 at 8:23 pm |

      Consider that they do. They also consider the 50% of the Earth that has the dark of night, the rotation of the Earth, and many other factors and effects.

      Which isn’t to say they’re perfect. I’m amazed by the quality of the results they do get, on so little data of such little reliability as they have to input, but they do obtain some results so much better than random chance as to credit that they’re not just making the questions they ask and the premises they propose up of whole cloth without basis or some minimal understanding.

      Which distinguishes them from you, to judge by this question.

    • ‘Atmospheric and oceanic forcings are strongest at global equilibrium scales of 10^7 m and seasons to millennia. Fluid mixing and dissipation occur at microscales of 10^−3 m and 10^−3 s, and cloud particulate transformations happen at 10^−6 m or smaller. Observed intrinsic variability is spectrally broad band across all intermediate scales. A full representation for all dynamical degrees of freedom in different quantities and scales is uncomputable even with optimistically foreseeable computer technology. No fundamentally reliable reduction of the size of the AOS dynamical system (i.e., a statistical mechanics analogous to the transition between molecular kinetics and fluid dynamics) is yet envisioned.’

      Clouds are one of the things that are parameterised quite inadequately – they make up a number for a couple of reasons. The scale of cloud physics is much less than model grids so the physics can’t be represented. The parameterisation schemes are not even consistent between models as there is no fundamental physical theory.

      Do they do well?

      The critical understanding is that there is a range of solutions that diverge exponentially over time that occur as a result of the underlying maths and the range fesible inputs. There might be a small difference in starting points indistinguisable from and the solutions diverge until they saturate at an unknown limits.

      The situation is shown generically here –

      The black and red lines repressent solutions at specific times. You can see that they start close together and then diverge. This is an inescapable property of these models.

      So if there is a range of feasible solutions how do they pick one for forwarding to the IPCC.

      ‘AOS models are therefore to be judged by their degree of plausibility, not whether they are correct or best. This perspective extends to the component discrete algorithms, parameterizations, and coupling breadth: There are better or worse choices (some seemingly satisfactory for their purpose or others needing repair) but not correct or best ones. The bases for judging are a priori formulation, representing the relevant natural processes and choosing the discrete algorithms, and a posteriori solution behavior.’

      The ‘component discrete algorithms, parameterizations, and coupling breadth’ is one thing. It requires a 1000 times more computing power to be even moderately realistic. The ‘a posteriori solution behavior’ is a bird of another feather entirely. I assume that you recognise that this is a process of choosing a particular solution based on expectations of what the solution should look like rather than anything that might be defined as quantitative.

      That’s right they pull it out of their posteriors. Much as Bart does and with quite as much veracity and reliability. Bart is a supercillious activist not adverse to lying, spinning like a top, misdirecting, talking off the top of his head, playing the fool, misrepresenting himself, spouting nonsense etc etc. He has no depth of understanding of anything much as far as I can tell but will dress up his inane posturing with sleights, intimations of moral and intellectual superiority, glib insults and outright lies.

      Ignore him – he is simply a noisy distraction little grace, wit or style.

      Robert I Ellison
      Chief Hydrologiat

  26. stevefitzpatrick

    I agree that this paper is interesting and adds to our understanding. It appears also to explain the longstanding to Tmax / Tmin conundrum.

    That being said, some caution in interpreting the results is called for. First, the boundry layer effects are mostly limited to land areas; ocean surface temperatures hardly change at all during 24 hours compared to land. So the influence of the effect is for only 30% of the surface.

    Second, while the boundry effects on Tmin suggest that the mechanism of reaching higher Tmin may be different, Tmin still is warming. How land area surface warming with higher GHG forcing will evolve remains an open question, even if these results are more consistent with the relative lack of warming in the deeper troposphere.

    The most important finding here seems to me a reasonable explanation for the observed difference in ocean and land warming rates which does not require rapid ocean heat uptake; the measured rate of modest ocean heat uptake seems more consistent wirh the historical change in Tmax than Tmin.

  27. In a previous collaboration with Pielke Sr, Steeneveld built on the physics of why Pielke and Matsui were completely wrong. And Steeneveld’s (and Holtslag’s) work that informs this recent ‘collaboration’ with Bob and Dick, does not draw ‘editorial’ conclusions similar to Dick’s. Why?

    “According to this simple model that relates radiative forcing at the tropopause to a surface temperature change, there is an equilibrium relationship between these two variables. The physical relationship between these two variables requires many many assumptions, including zero heat capacity of the surface and a convective link between the surface and the tropopause. McNider et al. remind us of why these are poor assumptions.” JC

    This assertion was wrong when Ms. Curry first made it and it is still wrong. Remarkably, almost none of the supposedly scientifically literate denizens pick up on this. Why?

    Robert is right: Ms. Curry is not clear. Perhaps she lacks expertise in relevant areas of climate science, and her main career focus has been on short-term changes and regional issues – not century-scale issues. The main implication of the paper, as someone else has already indicated, is model development in regard to prediction of decadal change(s).

    Of course, it is the sort of model development that scientists with a focus on decadal global and regional predictions for the purpose of management and adaptation will be especially interested in, as adaptation measures become increasingly important. Dick should stick to his contributions to agricultural planning in his part of the U.S. because his ‘editorial’ is mostly irrelevant, in regard to century-scale social, ecological and economic issues.

    It appears that Ms. Curry and friends Dick and Bob, do not know their own limitations and therefore how to make their best contributions.

    It is somewhate discouraging to see a group of American researchers being parasitic on the scientific expertise of others. I’m not sure that is what ‘collaboration’ means.

    • lurker passing through, laughing

      And Martha is still hard at work at her apparently self-appointed job, assigning evil motives to the hostess and others who question the extremist consensus.
      Martha speaks of what academics should do as part of their jobs, so perhaps she is some sort of project manager or widely published well known climate researcher?
      My met is that at most she is from sort of soft science background and while implying she is more well justified in her claims than Dr. Curry, is actually just another opinion. But in the Consensus extremists, perspective is not as important as echoing the hype.
      Always worth a nice chuckle to see it in action.
      Thanks, Martha.

  28. Martha, perhaps you do not understand simple math. The equation (ΔT = λ * ΔF) implies a direct relationship between ΔT and ΔF.

    Since you seem to need to educate yourself on this topic, I recommend Chapter 13 on climate feedbacks from my text Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans, which is available online at

    • But as I understand it, Dr. Curry, the direct relationship between forcing and temperature is not a function of where the energy goes — into the ground, into a thick layer of the atmosphere or a thin one, or into the sea. It’s a function of the increase in temperature necessary to radiate the additional energy out of the system at the top of the atmosphere. The temperature will increase until incoming and outgoing radiation are equal. Thus the direct relationship between forcing and temperature. Or am I missing something?

      • “The temperature will increase until incoming and outgoing radiation are equal. Thus the direct relationship between forcing and temperature”
        Complete and absolute bollocks, there is no correlation between radiative influx, radiative efflux and temperature. This cartoon shows an idealized representation of the line-shape of the two fluxes and temperature.

        Now the shape and extent of the diurnal temperature cycle is directly linked to the water cycle. The higher the levels of evaporator water, the shallower the rise in temperature from the time of Tmin to Tmax. The higher the levels of water vapor, the shallower the decay of temperature during the night. The conversion of water vapor to dew releases heat and warms the local.
        The upshot is that deserts have a low Tmin and high Tmax; whereas a peak marsh will have a high Tmin and low Tmax; even if the amount of absorbed heat from incoming solar radiation is the same.

        Now one can, for a back of the envelope calculation, average the area under the temperature profile into (Tmin+Tmax)/2) and measure the area under the incoming flux and average it over the day. One can then apply the equilibrium approximation; that is assuming that ‘average’ temperature has some sort of reasonable linear relationship with average incoming flux, within the bounds of the Earth climatic system.
        However, it is thermodynamically bollocks. The average temperature is not (Tmin+Tmax)/2, nor is average temperature equal to average heat, nor is the level of incoming flux realistic, given the absorption of photons at all wavelengths are given the same absorbance (as in a singular ‘albedo’), and the use of equilibrium thermodynamics is quite clearly wrong to apply to an irreversible thermodynamic process.
        With all these guesstimates and approximations you will get a ball-park figure. However, such approximations cannot be used in anyway to state ‘the fundamental physics is understood’. This is a deliberate lie, anyone who can claim that a result of a calculation based on a equilibrium thermodynamic approximation to a steady state system is knowingly misrepresenting their own knowledge.
        Your opening paragraph is a complete and utter fiction. You know that only twice daily is there a situation where influx=efflux, once during the warming phase and once during the heating phase. Moreover, the temperature at these two cross-over points is quite different.
        If you basic physical description and theoretical framework is wrong you cannot make a better model by adding more layers.

      • Assertions made like that are ignored by climate enthusiasts such as myself. That’s just the way it is Doc; we like to see scientific or engineering problem statements and then work towards a solution. To get a sense of what is happening is not intractable as many similar systems have been solved — the scale is not that important. I look at the graph that you link to and see integrals that can be computed to estimate energy balance, etc. You may have been taught physics differently I am presuming.

      • ” I look at the graph that you link to and see integrals that can be computed to estimate energy balance, etc.”

        Indeed. However one would have to have an estimate of heat, and not of temperature, which would mean that one would need to record, at minimum, temperature, pressure and water vapor. One cannot ignore that heat can be manifest in the system as temperature, pressure or vapor pressure. You would also need to record, and analyze, much more data.
        You assertion that “To get a sense of what is happening is not intractable as many similar systems have been solved” is not true. The assertion in climate science is that they can from temperature measurements and from aircraft/balloon and satellite data observe a change of 2 W/m2 against a background of 240 W./m2; globally, annually and where clouds are constantly moving during their measurements.
        I find such posturing ill-founded.
        Still, be happy in your beliefs that we can measure and model all.

      • Robert, you are missing something. There is a radiant system at the tropopause enclosing a predominately not radiant system with lots of water. The time constant for the inner system does not have to equal the time constant of the radiant system. It is non-equilibrium thermodynamics.

        How best to model this type of system will be debated for centuries possibly, but assuming linearity and ignoring thermal mass/heat capacity is pretty obviously not the way to go.

    • The whole notion of a “forcing” is mistaken and nonscience. Anything able to forcibly warm in the sun will forcibly cool at night the the net effect of any material on equilibrium temperature is zero. The only real “forcing” is the solar output.

      Please show me experimental results that demonstrate a change in composition can change mean temperature with cyclic heating and cooling.

  29. Right as far as I can see. The equilibrium climate sensitivity is by definition not dependent on heat capacities.

    For the feedback model (I would not call that a theory) there must be a link between the surface temperature and the tropopause but even this is explicitly allowed to change as the change in the relationship has even a name: lapse rate feedback.

    • Pekka, that seems to be the problem, by definition sensitivity is not dependent on heat capacities. If the heat capacities impact climate sensitivity, then there is a problem with the definition.

      In a bi-stable system there has to be some dependence on heat capacities or it would not be bi-stable. Shifting liquid water to ice mass is a pretty obvious change in heat capacities, the balance of ice mass between the poles is a pretty obvious heat capacity consideration, so I think the definition is pretty useless. I didn’t define sensitivity nor did I pick the arbitrary boundaries though. When I attempt to point to other frames of reference that provide more understandable thermodynamics, I am a crackpot. But working from a quasi-radiationless core to a pure radiant shell, there are other considerations, like thermal mass, thermal inertia, entropy and a number of thermal boundary layers with different sensitivities to different “forcings”.

      • Aye, Aye, Cap’n Cartoon Cracker. Side point, has anyone calculated all the ‘missing’ energy gone into the increased biomass caused by rising CO2?

      • Not that I am aware of. There are supposed to be some new models in the works that consider heat capacity associated with albedo though. Right now, a stand of maple trees, clover ground cover and an algae filled pond would all have the same, “radiant” impact. Obviously the tree biomass would have less impact on surface temperature than the clover and the algae filled pond would store the most thermal energy. So currently, land use change “cools” the Earth since fields are not as dark as tree canopies. That is not my kind of logic.

      • Very interesting Cap’n, but my question is slightly different. How much energy has the creation of the increased biomass captured, energy that has not been radiated back out to space?

      • The energy stored would be minimal since we convert most of the additional biomass on 6% of the global to some form of energy. That is where conservation farming would make a difference, though it is not so much biomass energy store as much as an overall change in heat capacity and carbon sequestering. Small amounts of energy stored over a long enough period of time do add up though.

      • The equilibrium climate sensitivity may, indeed, be a rather irrelevant value even if it can be shown to be well defined. Heating the oceans to the equilibrium temperature or even halfway towards that may take much longer than the forcing can remain approximately constant.

        Adding CO2 to the atmosphere according to some realistic scenario will lead to a maximum concentration followed by gradual decline. During the early part of the decline the surface temperature keeps on rising but later that turns to decline again. At that point the warming of deep ocean has perhaps not got very far. Thus the next equilibrium would be reached only after the surface temperature has returned closer to the value before the warming started, how close, I cannot tell.

        Another question is whether the climate sensitivity is well defined in the sense that there’s a unique expectation value that’s over some range nearly proportional to the forcing. It’s quite plausible that this is the case for some transitional climate sensitivity which is not too sensitive on the period used in determining it. I don’t think that it’s possible to fully exclude the other alternative that no well defined climate sensitivity exists, but it seems more likely that transitional climate sensitivity is a useful concept than that it’s not.

      • If you know the normal range of temperatures in the bi-stable system you can qualify a CO2 climate sensitivity. How sensitive the system is to CO2 though is dependent on the overall system condition. It is simply non-linear.

        I am working on the right jargon to explain my model concept.

        But you have to have a natural range of variability to work from to find out how CO2 will impact that range.

        That Tierney lake Tanganyika reconstruction seems to provide a reasonable range, then you can start creeping toward a more accurate range of sensitivities from there.

  30. “One of the most significant signals in the thermometer-observed temperature record since 1900 is the decrease in the diurnal temperature range over land, largely due to rising of the minimum temperatures.”

    I wonder, have they looked at the actual global observations to see how this works? If you check out the evolution in DTR (Tmax – Tmin) from 1950 to 2010 (CRU TS 3.10), you wil see that nothing happens between 1950 and ~1972/73, only fluctuations around a mean value. Then, between ~1973 and 1977/78, a big drop (a step, pretty much), before it all settles again on a new, lower level. DTR does not decrease between 1977/78 and 2010 (during the modern warming, that is). Both Alexander et al. 2006 and the IPCC (AR4) (based on his study) acknowledges this, but neither makes any attempt to answer why.
    Source: KNMI Climate Explorer (

    This peculiar course of events does not exactly point to a greenhouse gas culprit … Rather, I would investigate what happened globally in the mid 70s. Great Pacific Climate Shift, anyone?

  31. Beth Cooper

    Climate sensitivity to co2 increase? I’m getting more confused as I go along, You’ll have to excuse me, escapee from the humanities, cracked brain syndrome etc. I know i’ll need to read more, but seems to me, what with optical density studies of low level drizzle and rain clouds, (studies by GL Stevens et al, 2008, 2010,) showing cloud density cooling – 2x higher albido than IPCC claims, clouds are cool. Then there’s David Springer’s reference, Scientific American, Jan 2012, to rain drop tunneling of heat energy to space, water vapour as a moderator of climate. And comparing desert more extreme temperatures and diurnal variations than equatorial forest and ocean diurnal temperatures, seems that whatever is a cloud maker modifies day and night temperature variations, decreases day time energy in and slows its escape at night. You could kinda say co2 is cool or perhaps I’ve had too much Kool Aid… oh well, back ter the asylum.

  32. Beth Cooper

    Handel, everything was clear ter me, it’s what I thought, until yr observation 2. First time the ocean absorbs sw, then emits lw, second time around …it doesn’t. It’s a puzzle alright.
    Enjoyed yr water music H.