The albedo of Earth

by Judith Curry

An important new paper finds that the albedo of Earth is highly regulated, mostly by clouds, with some surprising consequences.

The albedo of Earth

Graeme L. Stephens, Denis O’Brien, Peter J. Webster, Peter Pilewski, Seiji Kato, and Jui-lin Li

Abstract. The fraction of the incoming solar energy scattered by Earth back to space is referred to as the planetary albedo. This reflected energy is a fundamental component of the Earth’s energy balance, and the processes that govern its magnitude, distribution, and variability shape Earth’s climate and climate change. We review our understanding of Earth’s albedo as it has progressed to the current time and provide a global perspective of our understanding of the processes that define it. Joint analyses of surface solar flux data that are a complicated mix of measurements and model calculations with top-of-atmosphere (TOA) flux measurements from current orbiting satellites yield a number of surprising results including (i) the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (NH, SH) reflect the same amount of sunlight within ~ 0.2Wm2. This symmetry is achieved by increased reflection from SH clouds offsetting precisely the greater reflection from the NH land masses. (ii) The albedo of Earth appears to be highly buffered on hemispheric and global scales as highlighted by both the hemispheric symmetry and a remarkably small interannual variability of reflected solar flux (~0.2% of the annual mean flux). We show how clouds provide the necessary degrees of freedom to modulate the Earth’s albedo setting the hemispheric symmetry. We also show that current climate models lack this same degree of hemispheric symmetry and regulation by clouds. The relevance of this hemispheric symmetry to the heat transport across the equator is discussed.

Published in Reviews of Geophysics; [link] to full manuscript.

Excerpts from the Introduction:

There are many reasons why it is important to understand the variability of the Earth’s albedo and the factors that define it:

1. Simple energy balance models of the climate system are unstable to small changes in the amount of energy reflected to space. In these simple models with an albedo overly sensitive to surface temperature, relatively small changes in the absorbed solar energy  can swing these models from a near ice-free Earth to a fully ice covered state.

2. It is also speculated that albedo changes potentially regulate the climate system. Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis, exemplified in the study of “Daisyworld”, suggests that regulation of the system albedo by the adaptation of biota of differing albedos to climate change might in fact buffer the system from the instabilities inherent to earlier energy balance models.

3. The reflection of sunlight by clouds provides an important climate change feedback mechanism. Our inability to quantify these feedbacks with any certainty is recognized as one of the major obstacles in climate change predictions .

4. More locally, the Earths albedo appears to be resilient to other internal changes that might otherwise alter the system albedo. Perturbations to the albedo through effects of aerosol on clouds appears to be buffered by compensating processes that restrict local albedo changes to changing aerosol influences. The implications of these more local compensations to concepts proposed to mitigate climate change through geoengineering cloud albedo are thus profound.

5. Regulation of the Earth’s albedo is also central to other important climate feedbacks, including the snow/ice surface albedo feedback as well as cloud feedbacks.

6. It has also been conjectured that the characteristics of the total energy transport from low to high latitudes are insensitive to the structure and dynamics of the atmosphere-ocean system and are determined primarily by external controls such as the solar constant, the size of the Earth, the tilt of the Earth’s axis, and the hemispheric mean albedo.

We show, as in other studies, that the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (NH and SH) reflect the same amount of sunlight within 0.2Wm2. We show clearly how this is achieved as a consequence of reflection from increased amounts of SH clouds offsetting precisely the increased reflection from the larger NH land masses . The spectral distribution of this reflected energy exhibits clear differences between the hemispheres that reinforce our understanding of how the hemispheric symmetry is established.

The albedo appears to be highly constrained on the hemispheric and global scale and over interannual timescales. The hemispheric symmetry is an example of such a constraint, and the interannual variability of reflected energy is another example. The interannual variability is small, mostly regulated by the changes to clouds associated with the main modes of climate variability. Overall, these changes occur in a way that minimizes the global effects of clouds on the albedo, buffering the Earth system from large changes.

We also show that the ability of present-day models of climate in simulating the statistical properties of the energy reflected from Earth varies depending upon the metric used. Models produce a much more variable reflected sunlight than observed and fail to reproduce the same degree of hemispheric symmetry. Simple arguments suggest that a symmetric energy balance implies zero net cross equatorial transport of heat that is also a condition of a steady state. Although Earth is very near this symmetric state, it is out of energy balance, with less outgoing longwave radiative (OLR) emitted from the SH than the NH. This hemispheric asymmetry in OLR contributes to the approximate 0.6Wm2 imbalance observed and is associated with offsetting transports of heat from north to south in the atmosphere and from south to north in the oceans.

From the section Discussion: 

Is the Hemispheric Symmetry Purely Coincidental? While Voigt et al. could not rule out the possibility of the observed hemispheric symmetry being merely accidental, their results suggest that mechanisms exist to minimize hemispheric differences in reflected shortwave irradiance and planetary albedo in some fundamental way. Voigt et al. searched for possible mechanisms in simple aqua-planet simulations using a general circulation model coupled to a slab ocean. The experiments were performed with the model initialized with an imposed hemispheric difference in clear-sky albedo. The results showed how the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) adapted in such a way as to compensate for the imposed hemispheric asymmetries in clear-sky albedo. The compensation occurred as a shift of the ITCZ and tropical clouds into the darker hemisphere, suggesting that in these model simulations the climate system prefers hemispheric albedo asymmetries to be small and that cloudiness serves as a strong regulator of albedo. The main point of these studies is they show how adjustments of cloud patterns in one hemisphere can influence the properties of the other hemisphere, thus hinting at possible mechanisms that determine how a symmetric energy balance might be maintained.

From the Summary:

We also show, as others before, how the amount of solar energy reflected from each hemisphere is essentially identical. This symmetry appears in broadband data but not in spectral radiances, thus hinting at the importance of such spectral data as a diagnostic tool for studying Earth’s climate system. Again, the cloudiness of the planet is the principal regulatory agent that maintains this symmetry with the increased energy reflected from SH clouds precisely balancing the larger reflections from NH land masses. Simple arguments suggest that a symmetric energy balance implies zero cross equatorial transport of heat, which is a condition of a steady state. Although Earth is very near this symmetric state, it is currently out of energy balance with less OLR emitted from the SH than the NH giving rise to the approximate 0.6Wm2 global imbalance observed.

Climate models fail to reproduce the observed annual cycle in all components of the albedo with any realism, although they broadly capture the correct proportions of surface and atmospheric contributions to the TOA albedo. A high model bias of albedo has also persisted since the time of CMIP3,mostly during the boreal summer season. Perhaps more importantly, models fail to produce the same degree of interannual constraint on the albedo variability nor do they reproduce the same degree of hemispheric symmetry. The significance of these shortcomings is not yet fully known, but model studies of hypothetical slab-ocean worlds suggest that interhemispheric changes in albedo can grossly affect the climate states of those worlds, shifting the ITCZ and altering the amount of heat moved poleward.

JC reflections

The implications of this paper strike me as profound.  Planetary albedo is a fundamental element of the Earth’s climate.  This paper implies the presence of a stabilizing feedback between atmosphere/ocean circulations, clouds and radiation.  Climate models do not capture this stabilizing feedback.

The results of this paper also have interesting implications for ice ages, whereby the forcing that is predominant in one hemisphere is felt in the other.

The failure of models to reproduce this hemisphere synchronicity raises interesting implications regarding the fidelity of climate model-derived sensitivity to CO2.

Moderation note:  this is a technical thread, please keep your comments relevant.

569 responses to “The albedo of Earth

  1. As the sea heats, clouds increase. A change in albedo of 2% is equivalent to two doublings of CO2 (from the current 380 ppmv to 1,520 ppmv!)… so a tiny, undetectable change in cloud cover is more than enough to offset any conceivable variation in CO2…

    “Since we only use 70% of the sun’s energy, it is clear that the sun puts out more than enough energy to totally roast the earth. It is kept from doing so by the clouds reflecting about 20% of the sun’s energy back to space, and the surface reflecting back another 10%. As near as we can tell, ths system of cloud formation to limit incoming solar energy has never failed. ~Willis Eschenbach

    • I think it should be “2 percentage points” rather than “2%”. They differ by a factor of three.

    • The implications of this paper strike me as profound. Planetary albedo is a fundamental element of the Earth’s climate. This paper implies the presence of a stabilizing feedback between atmosphere/ocean circulations, clouds and radiation. Climate models do not capture this stabilizing feedback.

      Maurice Ewing and William Donn published this in the 1950’s
      When earth gets warm, oceans thaw, clouds and snowfall increases and earth cools.
      When earth gets cold, oceans freeze, clouds and snowfall decreases and earth warms.

      • Clearly a bit of self-regulation going on there. Maybe there’s some cunning behind all that white stuff presently blanketing the NH.

        The mischievous Nino who makes inland dust from Australian silt and and stirs up dry spring westerlies finishes by depositing iron in the Pacific Ocean. While Australians complain about the kid, Nino is fixing the damage.

        For all its size and ill temper, it’s quite a subtle planet. Those who claim to understand its moods can be less subtle.

      • Danny Thomas

        Mosomoso,
        “Those who claim to understand its moods can be less subtle.”

        Thank you.

      • Along with the occasional period of ±5-10°C here and there.
        So there is some point about which the earth can tip.

    • Greg Goodman

      Willis’ stories from his time in the South Pacific were what got me interested in focussing tropical feedbacks. Since this is where most of the energy enters the Earth climate system, this is where all understanding has to start.

      https://judithcurry.com/2015/02/06/on-determination-of-tropical-feedbacks/

      This excellent paper on the importance of albedo feedbacks, would account for the fast time-constant ( and hence low sensitivity ) that I found from ERBE data.

  2. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t albedo change the primary amplifying feedback mechanism in climate models? The idea is that increasing temperature leads to increasing cloud cover which leads to decreased albedo at high latitudes (clouds being less reflective than ice).

    If there is significant albedo buffering, then the feedback mechanisms in climate models could be greatly affected, leading to overestimates of climate sensitivity to CO2.

    That’s why I claim that the null hypothesis for climate sensitivity to CO2 should be the TCS and ECS of CO2 alone. Any difference from that value should require a lot of experimental validation.

    • but isn’t albedo change the primary amplifying feedback mechanism in climate models
      No. Water vapor modeled to be greatest:

      Climate Etc on feedbacks is here:
      https://judithcurry.com/2010/12/29/climate-feedbacks-part-i/

      The idea is that increasing temperature leads to increasing cloud cover which leads to decreased albedo at high latitudes (clouds being less reflective than ice).
      Not so much shortwave feedback – Arctic in summer is one of the most cloudy places on earth already. The feedback is modeled to be from decrease in sea ice in the Arctic ( and just the change from multi-year ice to first year ice is a big change, though that seems to be reversing ). In any event,

  3. I was taught this is how the global temperature remains stable when I was in high school circa 1975. Perhaps with less quantification, but really, not much else has changed.

    • So was I, even earlier.

      What’s changed is the willful ignoring of the role of negative cloud feedback in regulating our climate. This was necessary to make CO2 warming look scary.

      That loud rustling sound is a whole bunch of chickens, coming home to roost. Or a house of cards collapsing. Endgame for the alarmist boom, I think (and hope).

      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”
      — Upton Sinclair

      Peter D. Tillman
      Professional geologist, amateur climatologist

  4. Until the mechanisms behind this phenomenon are understood, I don’t see how anybody can claim the models that don’t replicate it are good predictors of the Earth’s real behavior. This may actually be analogous to the Michelson–Morley experiment in pointing out the need for a completely new paradigm.

  5. Very interesting – does earth have adaptive eyelids?

    • Hank Zentgraf

      In 2002 R. Linden from MIT saw an iris effect in clouds that modulated temperatures in the tropics. This is a different study but both show how little we understand about clouds.

  6. jcurry, ” have interesting implications for idea ages,”

    Ice ages. About time there was a paper on cloud buffering/regulation. Now if you could find some neat stuff on convection parameterization, I’ld be a happy redneck :)

    • So, the CLIMAP data indicates the warm tropics during the LGM:

      I used to speculate with a met friend about more intense polar air masses eventually settling in the tropics and keeping skies clearer to allow more insolation.

      • Lucifer, warm is a relative thing. To stimulate deep convection you need over 27.5 C in most cases so a reconstruction of peak tropical SST would be more informative than average SST. So I kinda build my own tropical SST reconstruction.

        Over a certain triggering temperature you have plenty of energy to build glacial mass. A lot more to it than that, but you cannot have an ice age without ice and the tropics control the ice machine.

      • To stimulate deep convection you need over 27.5 C
        ==============
        the same temperature at which a naked human will eventually die of exposure, the same temperature as the tropical jungles.

  7. Pingback: The Albedo of Earth | Tallbloke's Talkshop

  8. nottawa rafter

    What is the probability of anything so massive, complex and elegant “…offsetting precisely.. ” ?
    Unknown unknowns anyone?

  9. My ‘this is an important paper’ alarm triggered. Especially the symmetry result and the struggles of climate models to meet it. Symmetries are such a great way to validate models. Perhaps it can help rate various cloud formation strategies.

  10. It’s a measure of my growing climate literacy that I was able to understand most of the pdf. If there is some sort of homeostatic/feedback mechanism, I would have expected the albedo to vary monthly in tune with the earth’s position in its orbit. However the graphs in Fig 5 a, b, c show two crests and troughs a year and only Fig 5, TOA Fluxes, is a single wave graph with turning points closely corresponding to aphelion and perihelion. Help anyone please?

    • Other researchers (e.g., E. Pallé) found a decadal as well as an interannual variation of reflectance; however, it is most interesting that albedo measurements (based on the findings of Project “Earthshine”), show the amount of reflected sunlight does not vary with increases in greenhouse gases. The Earthshine data shows that the Earth’s albedo fell up to 1997 and rose after 2001.

    • I would have expected the albedo to vary monthly in tune with the earth’s position in its orbit. However the graphs in Fig 5 a, b, c show two crests and troughs a year and only Fig 5, TOA Fluxes, is a single wave graph with turning points closely corresponding to aphelion and perihelion. Help anyone please?

      I’m gonna take a closer look this evening, but I’m not sure that they’re indicating your postulate – albedo doesn’t vary to keep incoming radiance constant, but it does remain fairly constant through the seasonal cycle ( albedo varying only +/- 0.01 in Fig 5a) and from hemisphere to hemisphere.

      It’s a little different from saying albedo is remarkably constant and remarkably similar between hemispheres than to say albedo would negatively feedback if another forcing was imposed and unless I missed it at first glance, I don’t think
      that’s what the authors indicate.

      • Right. Too much is being inferred/assumed regarding IR forcing, this paper shows potential ways to improve models, it does not show albedo response to IR forcing over long term. See Wagathon above, no correlation of albedo and greenhouse gasses in earthshine paper.

      • Lucifer,
        ” to say albedo would negatively feedback if another forcing was imposed”

        The authors seem to be ignoring forcings and looking at what’s actually happening and tryng to differentiate between reflections from Earth’s surface and Land when they say
        “The model provides a way of incorporating our most up-to-date global data to isolate surface contributions from atmospheric contributions. When applied to TOA flux data collected from currently orbiting satellites together with matched surface flux data inferred from these and other satellite observations, a number of surprising features about the planet’s albedo are revealed”

        and when they conclude “… simple models with an albedo overly sensitive to surface temperature”

        If you assume the wording is designed not to raise the hackles of warmists, then you have to read between the lines.

    • You can see in fig 5a that July is less than January, that follows the annual insolation variation. The two peaks around the equinoxes should be when the Sun is highest in the sky at midday in the tropics.

  11. I agree with their findings about albedo based on today’s Initial State Of The Climate, the fact that the climate is stable and the current contrast between the N.H. and S.H and how under today’s scenario they are in symmetry as far as albedo values go.

    It works in today’s world if it were to stay static but we know this is not the case.

    My thought below.

    Their conclusions about albedo are based on the current Initial State Of The Climate as if it has never changed. The problem is the Initial State Of The Climate does change, from glacial to inter-glacial conditions and when it under goes such a transition the albedo of the earth must change ,especially when the relationship between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere change in relationship to one another in contrast to the relationship they have now to one another.

  12. I agree with Judy. The implications of this paper are profound. The paper

    “implies the presence of a stabilizing feedback between atmosphere/ocean circulations, clouds and radiation.”

    Tom Chase, Ben Herman and I have also found a self regulation component in the climate system. It involves the feedbacks from deep cumulus convection such that 500 mb temperatures (and thus most of the tropospheric temperatures) remain constrained to almost always within well defined limits. For 500 mb it is between ~ -40C and ~ -5C.

    We presented this work in our papers

    Chase, T.N., B. Herman, R.A. Pielke Sr., X. Zeng, and M. Leuthold, 2002: A proposed mechanism for the regulation of minimum midtropospheric temperatures in the Arctic. J. Geophys. Res., 107(D14), 10.10291/2001JD001425.http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/files/2009/10/r-246.pdf

    Tsukernik, M., T.N. Chase, M.C. Serreze, R.G. Barry, R. Pielke Sr., B. Herman, and X. Zeng, 2004: On the regulation of minimum mid-tropospheric temperatures in the Arctic. Geophys. Res. Letts., 31, L06112, doi:10.1029/2003GL018831.http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/files/2009/10/r-270.pdf

    Herman, B., M. Barlage, T.N. Chase, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2008: Update on a proposed mechanism for the regulation of minimum mid-tropospheric and surface temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic. J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos., 113, D24101, doi:10.1029/2008JD009799. http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/files/2009/10/r-339.pdf

    Herman, B.M. M.A. Brunke, R.A. Pielke Sr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2010: Global and hemispheric lower tropospheric temperature trends. Remote Sensing, 2, 2561-2570; doi:10.3390/rs2112561. http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/r-347.pdf

    We have an update of our analysis, including the assessment of the -5C limit, which we have submitted to Climate Etc to publish as a guest weblog post.

    Roger A. Pielke Sr.

    • R pielke

      In Europe at least the Likely coldest winter was 1740

      Likely hottest summer 1540

      http://www.clim-past.net/9/41/2013/cp-9-41-2013.xml

      Whilst the temperatures may fluctuate considerably year by year or decade by decade, they keep within these top and bottom bounds suggesting there is some sort of natural regulating mechanism.

      It may well be the mechaism is as the authors of the article suggest, but co2 could not have been a factor in the two years cited above so is unlikely to be the climate driver.

      the trouble is that science has been so fixated on this gas in recent years that alternative drivers of the climate coach Have not been fully examined with the degree of objectivity and resources that is required

      Tonyb

      • +1 Tonyb. CO2 fixation has kept climate science from moving forward IMO with many interesting areas of research not being adequately funded. The CERN cloud experiments have not been cited in the extracts that Judith has provided so I will be reading this paper with more than usual interest.

      • @ tonyb

        “the trouble is that science has been so fixated on this gas in recent years that alternative drivers of the climate coach Have not been fully examined with the degree of objectivity and resources that is required.”

        the trouble is that politics has been so fixated on this gas in recent years that alternative drivers of the climate coach Have not been fully examined with the degree of objectivity and resources that is required.

        Fixed it for you Tony.
        de nada.

      • Steven Mosher

        “they keep within these top and bottom bounds suggesting there is some sort of natural regulating mechanism.”

        rather suggesting that forcings dont change much.

      • Mosh

        You made the wrong statement. Guess why?

        tonyb

      • > Guess why?

        Exploring ideas again, TonyB?

      • Two separate sorts of constraints in this conversation, possibly related in form. Willard adds yet another constraint, possibly merely bad form.
        ===============

      • davideisenstadt

        no, he’s being mosheresque.

      • No Willard, just exploring a sense of humour.

        Anyway, what’s wrong with ideas and questions? No, don’t answer that.

        tonyb

      • > No, don’t answer that.

        Why would I not answer your farsical question, TonyB?

      • Steven Mosher

        Guess why not.

      • davideisenstadt

        youre on your game today mosh.
        ;-)

      • Surely humorous Willard, not ‘farsical?’

        tonyb

      • Mosh

        Here are details of the new met office supercomputer.

        http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2014/new-hpc

        I saw a very early GCM at the Met Office in the early 1980’s which probably had less power than my current laptop.

        There are numerous parameters- known and unknown- that need to be made in order to try to get a climate model that is as good as possible and has a reasonable representation to the real world climate.

        How does the modelling output of the majority of existing computers compare to the new Met Office one? In other words, are they at all adequate/worthwhile compared to the likely output from the new breed of supercomputers?

        If you don’t know, please just say so.

        tonyb

      • Tonyb
        CMIP5 is the software. Don’t think faster processors improve things much. PCMDI at LLNL has fast computrers but still produces flawed predictions of temps and cloud respnses. This is hard.
        Scott

      • Scott

        Well, that’s my taxpayers money going into that computer as the Met Office is a Govt dept so I have a vested interest..

        If it won’t substantially improve the accuracy of all manner of climate and weather related activities including near and long term forecasts is the intention primarily to speed up the process?

        tonyb

      • The large variability suggests that forcings change quite a bit, but are buffered at some point.

      • Steven Mosher

        tony

        “How does the modelling output of the majority of existing computers compare to the new Met Office one? In other words, are they at all adequate/worthwhile compared to the likely output from the new breed of supercomputers?.

        adequate is a pragmatic decision. worthwhile is a pragmatic decision.
        Your question shows you don’t know how to ask questions.

        If you have an argument to make, make it.

      • > Surely […] not ‘farsical?’

        While you use your supercomputer or yesteryear to check the various definitions of “farsical,” TonyB, would you mind telling us if, as a taxpayer, you suspect that Met Office’s resource investment in supercomputers may not be worthwhile, and why?

        Many thanks!

      • mosh

        If you don’t know the answers you just need to say so. They are perfectly good questions asked in a perfectly reasonable manner

        tonyb

      • nottawa rafter

        Tony
        Mosher admitting ignorance? Surely not since 1st grade?

      • Willard

        I support the investment. It will bring in additional projects to my home city-Exeter-which in turn will improve the economy and in addition will provide more accurate forecasting which is good for our knowledge. At least I assume it will, as Mosh-who I thought might know about these things which is why I asked him-has come over all coy.

        tonyb

      • > I support the investment.

        Then why did you ask the question the way you did, TonyB?

        Does it mean you would still support the investment the MET Office’s investment did not provide more powerful projections, say because it’s good for your community?

        Do you feel that my questions are putting you on a stand right now?

        Do you think I’m just exploring ideas?

        Do you feel my good humour?

        Many thanks!

        INTEGRITY ™ – We Explore Ideas

      • willard, “Then why did you ask the question the way you did, TonyB?”

        I believe this thread was started to stop this BS.

      • Willard

        I asked the questions in order to try to gain knowledge.

        If Mosh does not know the answer or does not want to give one, that is fine. I am off to bed so will leave you both to chew on your semantic sandwiches. Good night.

        tonyb

      • > I believe this thread was started to stop this BS.

        This would mean what you call “BS” can make Judy announce a paper her husband wrote, a seminal paper, a paper which will be read in forty years, Cap’n.

        Using lazy epithets like that makes you stop short from thinking, BTW. Don’t abuse them.

      • You can’t even own what is implied by “are [teh modulz] at all adequate/worthwhile compared to the likely output from the new breed of supercomputers,” TonyB.

        This is suboptimal.

      • willard, “curryja | March 10, 2015 at 3:42 pm |
        I clearly need a new post; this has degenerated into senseless sophistry.”

        https://judithcurry.com/2015/03/08/big-players-and-the-climate-science-boom/#comment-682449

        Why not want over to “and then there’s BS” and let people that are actually interested in discussing the albedo of Earth do that.

      • I know this is what Judy said, Cap’n, since I responded to her insult. It still does not justify why she’d need that excuse to announce a paper her husband wrote, a seminal paper, a paper which will be read in forty years.

        TonyB’s question was not about albedo, BTW. Also notice to which comment he responded first about what you call “BS” on this thread:

        Is this a bad question or a good question?

        https://judithcurry.com/2015/03/10/the-albedo-of-earth/#comment-682639

        I can play squirrels too.

      • Well, I wonder if the constraints mentioned by Pielke Pere and TonyB way up yonder have any relationship with each other.

        Do you see, Willard, how annoying curiosity can be?
        ===============

      • > Also notice to which comment he responded

        That “he” would be Mosh, not TonyB.

        ***

        Besides, if you don’t get how corrosive JAQing off can become, Cap’n, chances are you don’t know much about the Internet.

        Inhofe cheeseburgers ought to be enough.

      • > Do you see, Willard, how annoying curiosity can be?

        Appealing to one’s own motivations is as invalid as probing others’ minds.

      • There are remedial courses preparatory for your undergraduate philosophy coursework, Willard. The pertinent section in the local bookstore has a shelf each for your two wonderful insights.
        =================

      • If you turned all you just said into questions, Koldie, will it cease and desist from being a tasteless sling of personal attacks?

      • TonyB, bigger computers allow you to decrease your cell size, time step or both.

      • This thread obviously has degenerated into senseless sophistry. The supercomputer would be put to better use mining bitcoin.

      • Steven Mosher

        kim I’m a hude fan of curiousity.
        everyday i get questions from users.
        can you help me find X?
        they get answers.
        My boss asks me questions; can i predict X from Y?
        he gets an answer.
        faux questions waste my time.
        I hate to admit it. Willard has a point (lucia also had a point). but I couldnt see that point until I banished questions from my own text. as a mediation of sorts. I urge open minded people to try it. Its a good experiment.
        Then you may gain insight and ask questions when you need and want an answer.

        Until then.. Kim..

        the best question.. is kim male or female

      • I’m a fan of good questions, so was Socrates. From the Wikipedia:

        Socratic questioning (or Socratic maieutics)[1] is disciplined questioning that can be used to pursue thought in many directions and for many purposes, including: to explore complex ideas, to get to the truth of things, to open up issues and problems, to uncover assumptions, to analyze concepts, to distinguish what we know from what we don’t know, to follow out logical implications of thought or to control the discussion. The key to distinguishing Socratic questioning from questioning per se is that Socratic questioning is systematic, disciplined, deep and usually focuses on fundamental concepts, principles, theories, issues or problems.

      • To paraphrase Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own:

        “There’s no questions in ‘climate science’.

      • Dr. Curry,

        Which is exactly why the CAGW troika here is now trying to make questions off limits. Those who support ever more massive government prefer that their reasons for doing so not be questioned.

        This is just the latest obscurantist tactic.

        I have not been around as ofter as I used to. When did the unholy Warmist Trinity kiss and make up?

        Oops, sorry I forgot – no question marks.

      • Well, things have changed in the last few months. Some ‘regulars’ have left (upset over my moderation); these were individuals who promoted incivility here. There are some newcomers who are making solid contributions. Overall discussion is more civil, but also somewhat lacking in ‘spark,’ and there has been a strange sophistry from some of the ‘warm’ regulars.

      • Wait, I got it.

        Mosher has been watching Hillary’s press conferences!

      • > there has been a strange sophistry from some of the ‘warm’ regulars.

        In modern usage, sophism, sophist and sophistry are redefined and used derogatorily. A sophism is a specious argument for displaying ingenuity in reasoning or for deceiving someone. A sophist is a person who reasons with clever but fallacious and deceptive arguments. Authentic Sophists as described by Plato, would enjoy the discussion of the modern usage and shift of definition, as the dialogue would be of the nature that the Sophists employed.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophism

        An example of one specious argument would be nice.

      • Willard’s replies would need much quality improvement to rise to the level of specious.

      • “An example of one specious argument would be nice.”

        Now I’m no climate scientist (thank God), but that looks suspiciously like a question to me.

        You guys really crack me up. Thanks.

      • Wait, I got it again!

        It’s reverse Jeopardy. You have to ask your questions in the form of a statement.

        Too bad Merv Griffin died, you geniuses might have gotten your own game show.

      • > that looks suspiciously like a question to me.

        I said nothing against questions per se, and Moshpit only advised not to ask questions as a methodological device.

        GaryM’s argument would a good example of sophistry, but it does not provide evidence for Judy’s claim.

      • Steven Mosher

        tony

        “If it won’t substantially improve the accuracy of all manner of climate and weather related activities including near and long term forecasts is the intention primarily to speed up the process?”

        what do you mean by substantially?
        what do you mean by all manner?
        why do you think speeding up the process wont help?

        and why ask here? when you can read?

        ‘Modern weather forecasting relies on supercomputing. Weather data from satellites and ground stations is fed into computer simulations that predict what will happen in the next 24 hours and beyond. The more data, the more computing power is needed to make the prediction.

        The accuracy of the resulting weather forecast depends on the resolution of the computer simulation. The resolution is like the pixels in a digital camera. The smaller they are, the more detailed the picture but the more computing power is needed to perform the calculation.

        With the Met Office’s current system, the pixels corresponds to 12km square on the ground. This hampers the ability to provide flood warnings because the heaviest rainfall usually occurs on much smaller scales.

        The Met Office has been testing its existing system to produce less frequent but higher resolution forecasts. Pixels of just 1.5km across have been found to be much more accurate and corresponded much better to the size of heavy storms.

        The new computer will allow the Met Office to run 1.5km forecasts routinely, updating them every hour. It will also allow forecasters to zoom-in on particular regions to produced highly detailed forecasts. These will have resolutions of just 300m and can be useful for predicting fog at airports, or warning locations at particular risk from flooding.

        “Weather forecasting helps us manage our day-to-day affairs, helps businesses run efficiently and helps government keep the people safe. The new supercomputer will mean earlier warning, more detailed forecasts,” said Rob Varley, Met Office chief executive.”

        In short, google is your friend. the new computer will enhance the 1.4km work being done.

        http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/ukv

        http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/areas/data-assimilation-and-ensembles/convective-scale-data-assimilation

        https://plus.maths.org/content/why-met-office-needs-ps97m-supercomputer

      • willard,

        Sorry, I didn’t begin to read all the numerous entries in this (and the earlier) tag team match featuring the Climate Etc sophists-in-chief. (I usually call Mosher the obscurantist-in-chief, this anti-question sophistry just being the latest weapon pulled out of the arsenal of obscurantism).

        The last I saw was your comment:

        “> Guess why?

        Exploring ideas again, TonyB?”

        I guess that was just your way of adding to the substance of the blog, rather than joining in the obscurantist diversion of the discussion.

        I (as a layman) am not terribly impressed by the paper that is the subject of this post at first blush, for reasons I stated elsewhere. But I can understand why those who worship at the CAGW altar would want to divert attention from this heresy.

        But in hopes of terminating my own participation in this boring endeavor (to which I at least tried to add a modicum of humor), I will not comment further on the subject. The floor of the blog is yours.

        OK?
        (Oops, sorry, can’t help myself.)

      • willard, “I can play squirrels too.”
        Yes, you seem to be quite good at it. Judith doesn’t need a reason for any post, she did appear to be looking for a technical post which should limit your input.

        JCH asked the same question, “Where is it going?” at least three times without an answer. The “it” is the global imbalance which the paper explained is in the SH, a negative imbalance – gaining energy in the oceans, while the NH has a positive imbalance. CO2 forcing is strongest in the NH while solar forcing is strongest in the SH. Was JCH asking a rhetorical question? I believe that is supposed to be the bad kind. Or did he really not understand the implications of the paper? I don’t know. Perhaps you can answer his question?

      • GaryM,

        My “Exploring ideas again?” referred to this:

        Good grief! I merely thought I was engaging in an exchange of ideas.

        https://judithcurry.com/2015/03/08/big-players-and-the-climate-science-boom/#comment-682249

        and this:

        We exchanged ideas and positions. I asked questions as I was intrigued by your initial statement […] I was concerned was merely examining a few ideas not trying to score points.

        https://judithcurry.com/2015/03/08/big-players-and-the-climate-science-boom/#comment-682368

        While the stance may still be plausible at the time, it was not a valid one when I asked. This time, TonyB was only joking.

        ***

        Even when they’re rhetorical, questions contain requests. The exchange between the contributors can become unfair for many reasons. Think of a DoS attack for instance.

        When there’s too much asymetry between the puts and the calls of questions, to mix the themes of the last two threads together, the market of ideas booms and crashes.

      • > Was JCH asking a rhetorical question? I believe that is supposed to be the bad kind. Or did he really not understand the implications of the paper? I don’t know. Perhaps you can answer his question?

        A nice dilemma you put there. The first horn forces me to say that JCH asked a rhetorical question. The second horn forces me to correct a misunderstanding in JCH’s comprehension in your place.

        You see how asking questions can sometimes burden people with commitments they have no reason to hold?

        ***

        The dilemma dissolves when we see that whatever cases applied, you could have settled that question yourself if we presume like you do that you know the answer you’re looking for.

        Unless you don’t know where the energy JCH is looking for (a bit like Diogenes, perhaps) and are just fishing in the dark, Cap’n?

        An alternative would be to surmise that JCH read the paper and was wondering if commenters read it. Would that be socratic?

      • Steven Mosher

        Sophists taught arete

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arete

      • A lecture on arete every Denizen should cash in, I mean should know:

      • Captain – according to the powerpoint, the NH is in energy balance:

        339..8 minus 99.7 = 240.1, which equals OLWR: 240.1.

        Southern hemisphere:

        341.4 minus 99.7 = 241.7, which is 2.6 Wm-2 larger than the SH OLWR of 239.1.

        So one hemisphere is balanced, the other not and N1+N2 ≠ 0 (0.4PW or ~0.8Wm‐2) – Graeme Stephens

        This seems like an odd thing for him to say if the NH is not in energy balance.

      • Question: Does arete require gate-keeping?

      • Re questions? In doing science, even climate science,
        do we not ask questions, make conjectures, that is,
        tentative theories, which we submit to critical discussion
        ‘n testin’ directed ter the elimination of error?…Jest askin’.

      • Well, there may be some usefullness of this subthread if some denizens can recognize arete in the great debate in all the realms of climate science and energy policy. Please someone tell me that arete is cognate with arrest; that would be so nice.
        ===============

      • An example of one specious argument would be nice.

        If the irony was intentional, kudos.

      • JCH, ”

        “This seems like an odd thing for him to say if the NH is not in energy balance.”

        I apologize for being unclear, I was referring to the oceans which produce the SH to NH heat transport the equalize the hemispheric imbalance. Your question was “where is it going?” into the southern oceans.

        “As a result of this slight imbalance, a small amount of heat is transported across the equator from the SH to the NH. According to CERES, the inferred net transport of heat across the equator is 0.2 PW [e.g., Marshall et al., 2013]. This net transport is a result of compensating atmospheric heat transported to SH offset by a NH cross equatorial transport to the NH by oceans and appears to be an important diagnostic property of the Earth’s climate system. Based on analysis of slab-ocean model experiments, Frierson and Hwang [2012] find a direct correlation between the position of the modeled ITCZ and the cross equatorial transport of heat transport, and both Frierson et al. [2013] and Marshall et al. [2013] argue that the climatological position of the ITCZ is controlled by the oceanic transport of heat across the equator.”

        Now if you have the high NH precessional cycle that “small” imbalance of heat uptake in the oceans would change. You would have a smaller “small” equatorial imbalance in the oceans that would push the ITCZ to the south. So changes in ocean heat imbalance would “shift the westerlies” and the “thermal equator”

        http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/jrt0901.pdf

        “The magnitude of the shift seems to have been very large. If there was a response to higher CO2 back then, it paled in comparison.”

      • Group, I believe I have quoted Toggwieler and Brierley for a few years now along with Rose on the importance of ocean meridional and zonal imbalances. Steven (not the mosher) also has. Y’all might want to start review their stuff.

      • Danny Thomas

        Capt.

        I know this is in the form of a question so apologies up front, but do you have specific recommendations?
        Google search brought this up:https://judithcurry.com/2013/11/05/mutually-assured-delusion-mad/
        and brought a good strong giggle.

      • It can explain, but does it? Missing still is the explicit solar mechanism, but must there be only one, and must there be even one? I’m less sure, as time goes by.

        Note I finally managed a none question in the last sentence of that paragraph? Progress. Or is it?
        =====================

      • Willard,

        I’m just guessing but I suspect the ‘strange’ sophistry of the warms could be along the lines of the leader saying there is no pause but here is an explanation anyway. That being of course ‘net energy’ has increased. Strange being defined as unusual or unsettling in that it is hard to comprehend. It seems we have heard that for a while now but the argument is perhaps more sophisticated now.

      • Danny Thomas, Here is the Brierley Fedorov paper on the relative importance of meridional and zonal sea surface temperature gradients.

        http://people.earth.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Fedorov/28_BrierleyFedorov_OnsetNHG_Paleocean_2010.pdf

        There are quite a few papers on how continental drift changed ocean circulation which resulted in a change in climate. They give you an idea of how much impact hemispheric imbalances can have, which gives a rough range of potential natural variability and relevant time frames.

      • capt, thx for theses refs

      • Danny Thomas

        Capt.

        Thank you.

      • Danny Thomas

        Capt.

        From page 9:”The global cooling implies a reduction in the blackbody
        longwave emission from the Earth’s surface. All the
        simulations were integrated until quasi‐stable equilibrium
        was reached, so the reduction in emitted longwave radiation
        must be balanced by other radiative changes. These radiative
        changes are largely from water vapor and cloud changes
        (Table 1), which is consistent with the conclusions of
        Barreiro et al. [2006] and Brierley et al. [2009]. However,
        the increase in the meridional SST gradient results in a much
        greater role of water vapor for the radiation balance.
        Establishment of zonal SST gradients has a smaller impact
        because the drying in the Southern Hemisphere is partially
        compensated by the moistening associated with the intensification
        of the (northern) Intertropical Convergence Zone
        (ITCZ).

      • One thread to rule them all……

        Gotta be careful with supercomputers getting bigger tho. Diminishing returns.
        For one the (huge) supercomputers are essentially regular(ish) computers connected by a very fast network. But as you get more of them the communication cost between nodes becomes the bottleneck. And if you are solving any linear systems your preconditioning goes to squat since this is almost always does in blocks per node (the little computers) and get lets efficient as you get more blocks.

        Also, as spatial resolution goes down, time step must go down as well for accuracy and stability. I forget the orders, and the argument (maybe someone can fill in), but the scaling is not good. As I recall higher order spectral methods become more efficient.

        I trained in this stuff and now dont remember it. But take away is that bigger has limitations….

      • Steven Mosher

        beth

        “Re questions? In doing science, even climate science,
        do we not ask questions, make conjectures, that is,
        tentative theories, which we submit to critical discussion
        ‘n testin’ directed ter the elimination of error?…Jest askin’.

        in science we ask questions, therefore all questions are good.
        I don’t believe you are making that foolish argument.
        In science people form hypothesis ( and many other things)
        These may be constructed in the form of a question.
        However, in science, we form our questions to nature and sometimes
        she doesn’t answer. In science we ask our questions because we are interested in the answer. And if we don’t get an answer we don’t blame nature, for not doing our bidding. Yes, in science we ask questions.
        From that fact NOTHING follows. Tony asked about the new computer.
        And “wondered” whether it was worth the money. It should not surprise you
        to find that elsewhere he had criticized the expenditure of money on computing. It should not surprise you that in general he objects to any form of explaining climate that doesn’t follow his historical approach.
        rather than making an argument that the computer is not worthwhile, he shifts the burden with his question. That is not the way we ask questions or make arguments in science.

      • Steven Mosher

        Danny

        ‘I know this is in the form of a question so apologies up front, but do you have specific recommendations?”

        Google search brought this up:https://judithcurry.com/2013/11/05/mutually-assured-delusion-mad/
        and brought a good strong giggle.

        good question.

        1. Danny shows he is interested in the answer, he even did some work
        on his own.
        2. He is not demanding proof, he is seeking a recommendation.
        3. past experience with danny indicates that he reads thoughtfully,
        acknowledges his knowledge gaps and seeks to fill them.

      • Danny, Okay. Is there a question?

      • Danny Thomas

        Capt.
        (Bad form, sorry). I should have made a statement so will now. Re:”All the
        simulations were integrated until quasi‐stable equilibrium
        was reached, so the reduction in emitted longwave radiation
        must be balanced by other radiative changes. These radiative
        changes are largely from water vapor and cloud changes……”
        According to the topic paper (not your offering) this seemed quite pertinent. We seem to have an SH energy imbalance so according to this “it must be balanced” based on the understanding that in physical systems equillibrium is expected. It seems to be expected to manifest in temperatures (oceans? as it’s currently not associated w/ ice), but alternatively upper level cloud cover could offset incoming IR also leading to balance, could it not?

      • Danny, Right, “Quasi-equilibrium” would mean everything has to be balanced enough to not run away. Since the atmosphere can respond the quickest, it would tend to reduce any imbalance as much as possible. That involves pole ward transport of moist tropical air so you would have cloud coverage changes that would likely regulate the imbalance to a degree. The topic of the post paper has the atmospheric response maintains a very stable albedo. but you still have an ocean hemispheric energy imbalance both north/south and east/west. The east/west zonal imbalance is mainly ENSO and the North/south ITCZ. The north/south shift according to Brierley et al. had a larger impact than the east/west by a little over 5 times, so that might be the case today.

        So yes, cloud cover would offset a good deal of the imbalance, but probably doesn’t have all the potential needed to completely offset the imbalance. Deep convection though associated with the ITCZ shift and increased surface winds (westerlies and trades) could help close the budget. This is where things start getting complicated IMHO.

        Deep convection can cause changes in stratospheric water vapor and ozone and strat WV and Oz tend to regulate polar temperatures They only have about 6 to 8 Wm-2 of “global” impact, but may have up to 50C degrees of impact at the poles which are the primary heat sink. Changes in the polar heat sinks would change the meridional gradient which would change surface winds, the westerlies and the trades. So it looks to me like there are still some serious dynamic issues to resolve.

        My biggest question is how much of the imbalance could be due to our current position in the precessional cycle and/or recovery from the LIA. If there is a “normal” imbalance of 0.2 Wm-2 in the oceans, a good bit of the OHC anomaly could be business as usual i.e. just part of the hemispheric seesaw. “Quasi-equilibrium” could have a very long time scale for a planet.

      • Danny Thomas

        Capt.
        I read somewhere w/r/t Antarctic Ice that the current thinking is westerlies will become reduced (sry, not firing on all cyls today…….bad cold so don’t have a good link to offer). After reading your two offerings today it almost seems those westerlies might be expected to increase.
        I’ve wondered before presuming our sun puts out all levels of radiation (LW & SW) if there is an effect of GHG’s (including WV recently) that is measurable, reducing IR reaching the surface. Are you aware of this being studied (alternatively to albedo) and of a source?
        I realize you’ve been “on” tropical (equatorial?) SST’s for a while, but I’m just coming around to a (bit of a) realization why. Thank your for your offerings.

      • Danny, “I’ve wondered before presuming our sun puts out all levels of radiation (LW & SW) if there is an effect of GHG’s (including WV recently) that is measurable, reducing IR reaching the surface. Are you aware of this being studied (alternatively to albedo) and of a source?”

        I don’t have a good source, but solar lw absorption by the atmosphere is generally considered negligible. However, there are so many layers of interaction that it could have a larger than expected impact at the poles. There are a lot of issues at the poles because of poor data. A bigger issue is mixed phase clouds that can absorb nearly any spectrum and have super cooled liquid layers that seem to impact the C-C approximation. This is another small but still significant issue. With mixed phase clouds the saturation vapor pressure of ice not water tends to regulate relative humidity. You end up with drier air than you think over persistent mixed phase clouds. Not a very large difference but a fairly large impact.

        It is an absolutely marvelous puzzle.

      • Danny Thomas

        Capt.

        Two things. First just wanted to confirm that “C-C approximation” was cloud to cloud (getting most of the shorthad down).

        Re: Mixed phase clouds and ice. Presuming that would be a significant increase in albedo from the ice?
        Thanks as always for your help and guidance. Your patience is so very much appreciated.

      • Danny Thomas

        Capt.
        Methinks you meant Clausius-Clapeyron not cloud to cloud.

      • Danny, sorry I got lazy, C-C is the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship used to estimate the change in water vapor.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clausius%E2%80%93Clapeyron_relation

        Water vapor feedback is supposed to triple the impact of CO2 which is where most of the over estimation of CO2 impact appears to be. The “old school” thought was increased surface temperature would lead to increased cloud cover which would regulate surface temperature. If temperature uniformly rose you should have a uniform increase in water vapor which would roughly maintain a constant relative humidity, the greenhouse amplification thought. Uniform warming should reduce temperature gradients but that doesn’t seem to be the case. When you have CO2 forcing creating a “higher colder place” above the effective radiant layer you are increasing the temperature gradient which should “inspire” more deep convection. Disruption of the polar vortex also increases the temperature gradient. So increased deep convection increases the intensity of the Brewer-Dobsen circulation in the Stratosphere which in turn can destabilize the polar vortex, causing a Sudden Stratospheric Warming event or vice versa.

        http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/14/23745/2014/acpd-14-23745-2014-print.pdf

        I haven’t absorbed that paper yet, but there are a number of papers looking for methods to predict SSW events and their magnitude. There appears to be a pseudo-cyclic oscillation in SSW events that roughly follows the AMO and they release one heck of a lot of energy plus tend to cause some wicked winter weather. This seems to be one of those “wicked” problems :)

        Mid-level Liquid-layer Topped Strati-form Clouds is just another in the list of PITA cloud parameterization issues. The super-cooled liquid layer at -15 C or so tends to dry the air above them and should also limit the amount of cloud positive feedback. They also played hell with the energy budget.

      • Danny Thomas

        Capt.
        PITA I got clearly! :)

        Much more there on which to chew. Thanks again!

      • > I’m just guessing but I suspect the ‘strange’ sophistry of the warms could be along the lines of the leader saying there is no pause but here is an explanation anyway.

        I’m not sure how to reconcile this interpretation with “there has been a strange sophistry from some of the ‘warm’ regulars.” The “regulars” seems to target me among others. I don’t recall using a claim that would be “structurally similar” (to borrow a buzzword) to a Moore sentence [1]

        Moore’s paradox concerns the apparent absurdity involved in asserting a first-person present-tense sentence such as, “It’s raining, but I don’t believe that it is raining” or “It’s raining but I believe that it is not raining.”

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_paradox

        (You’ll note, if you follow the citation trail, that it’s a paradox: there are authors who claim that such sentence is not inconsistent.)

        ***

        I don’t believe interpreting what Mike said as a Moore sentence felicitous: “How can the pause be both ‘false’ and caused by something?”

        First, because it’s easy to answer that question, e.g.:

        “How can the pause be false” can be translated to: how can you claim A is still related to t?

        While “caused by something” can be translated to: A is also related to X, Y, and Z.

        I hope the abstract case makes clear that you can claim that A is related to X, Y and Z without claiming that A is not related to t.

        http://variable-variability.blogspot.com/2015/03/how-can-pause-be-both-false-and-caused.html

        Second, because Judy’s trick would always work were it not for that old refutation:

        Kant goes on to write, “‘being’ is evidently not a real predicate” and cannot be part of the concept of something. He proposes that existence is not a predicate, or quality. This is because existence does not add to the essence of a being, but merely indicates its occurrence in reality. He states that by taking the subject of God with all its predicates and then asserting that God exists, “I add no new predicate to the conception of God”. He argues that the ontological argument works only if existence is a predicate; if this is not so, then it is conceivable for a completely perfect being to not exist, thus defeating the ontological argument

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontological_argument

        Just imagine if Judy’s implicit argument is right: it would be impossible to rule out or explain anything away for the simple reason that we’d have to refer to it! As soon as you’d say something like “God does not exist” you’d be locked in: how can you say this and not refer to a God?

        ***

        Mike’s paradoxical way to talk about the pause can be solved using one description : there is no pause; what is being referred to as “the pause” can be explained by […] We could also solve it using alternative pleading, which is “structurally similar” to Gorgias’ proof that nothing exists, but that’s far from being necessary. Perhaps another way to solve that would be to show some structural similarity between Judy’s trick question and Inhofe’s cheeseburgers, but I would need to think about this newly acquired meme.

      • Steven Mosher

        +1

      • SM asks

        the best question.. is kim male or female

        Most likely

  13. Peter Miller

    In the recent geological past – the last ~500 million years – the only periods of high land temperatures are those when there was a super continent like Pangea in existence.

    The only explanation has to be that Earth has its own effective thermostat, ensuring the planet gets neither too cold or too hot – periods of super-continents excepted. This self-adjusting process is only very poorly understood – without it, life would not be possible, or have evolved, on our planet.

    • The thermostat has effectively operated within in a relatively narrow range, as you say. However, as far being neither too cold or too hot, from a human point of view the natural variation in climate change is a killer –i.e., eight ice ages and eight relatively short interglacials over the last 810,000 years with humanity barely surviving the last ice age (e.g., the reconstructed temperature record of Jouzel et al., 2007).

      • Wagathon

        Yes, there is something different gong on with regards to ice ages.

        There is One relatively narrow temperature range within the Holocene due to some unexplained mechanism and this operates within a lower bounded temperature range during ice ages caused by presumably a quite different mechanism

        Tonyb

      • Tony,
        the critical factor in the northern hemisphere in glacial periods is ice shelves extending and limiting ocean circulation in and out of the Arctic ocean. Dansgaard–Oeschger events are when the ice blockages break through and the Arctic circulation returns, and would have a considerable effect on the NH climate. The Holocene could be seen as a very long lasting Dansgaard–Oeschger event.
        Faced with a rapid freeze, nuclear warheads could be a handy tool to keep everything flowing ( maybe not as mad as my father’s idea of bombing the Torrey Canyon lol). And dredging the Berring Strait much deeper too as it is only 30-50 meters deep.

      • Or we just pulverize coal and spray it on the ice.

      • Jim2, I’ve been thinking about doing that to the glaciers in my yard. Go away already.

    • The mechanism for the creation of clouds is the subject of the CERN cloud experiments and it has been suggested that cosmic rays and sun spot activity all contribute to cloud cover (with the corresponding effects on planetary albedo that is the subject of the above paper).

    • Like when serfs git too hot hoein’ turnips and start ter sweat.

    • michael hart

      Whatever that self adjusting process is, it also worked very well when there was lots of methane and no oxygen in the atmosphere under varying levels of insolation. It points suspiciously towards one molecule, and it ain’t CO2 I’m talking about.

  14. Obviously, the amount of ‘climate forcing’ that may be due to changes in atmospheric greenhouse gases is either overstated or countervailing forces are at work that GCMs simply ignore. GCMs fail to account for changes in the Earth’s albedo. Accordingly, GCMs do not account for the effect that the Earth’s albedo has on the amount of solar energy that is absorbed by the Earth.

  15. The earth has been through aeons of large cycles and presumably large pertubations, which is evidence of stability.

    It doesn’t run off and stay pegged.

    Clouds are the obvious regulator, worked out from result to cause.

  16. My reply is in today’s present Initial State Of The Climate, which we know from the historical climatic record has not and will not hold.

    As is evidenced from the past climatic record which shows abrupt climatic changes taking place from time to time and the earth transiting from glacial to inter-glacial conditions.
    Which means this stabilizing feedback between atmosphere /ocean circulations ,clouds/radiation is not that stable over the long run.

    I agree with Judy. The implications of this paper are profound. The paper

    “implies the presence of a stabilizing feedback between atmosphere/ocean circulations, clouds and radiation.”

  17. This could be relevant to the development of ice ages. RIght now, the earth is closest to the sun during summer in the SH and winter in the NH. The author’s mechanism for maintaining a constant albedo is functioning. What happens if that mechanism behaves differently when the earth is closest to the sun during winter in the SH and summer in the NH.

    “Simple energy balance models of the climate system are unstable to small changes in the amount of energy reflected to space. In these simple models with an albedo overly sensitive to surface temperature, relatively small changes in the absorbed solar energy can swing these models from a near ice-free Earth to a fully ice covered state.”

    • Anything is possible

      The real ice age game-changer IMO, is high eccentricity. At maximum eccentricity, the difference between received radiation at perihelion and aphelion is 30%, compared with just 6% today. Should perihelion also occur around either one of the solstices then would the difference in received radiation between the two hemispheres be enough to overwhelm the stabilizing feedbacks and cause a re-organisation of atmospheric and oceanic circulation which plunges the Earth into a new glacial age?

      If so, what is the (and I hate to use the expression) tipping point?

  18. QUESTIONS:

    Why is it when ever the climate changes the climate does not stray indefinitely from it’s mean in either a positive or negative direction? Why or rather what ALWAYS brings the climate back toward it’s mean value ? Why does the climate never go in the same direction once it heads in that direction?

    Along those lines ,why is it that when the ice sheets expand the higher albedo /lower temperature more ice expansion positive feedback cycle does not keep going on once it is set into motion? What causes it not only to stop but reverse?

    Vice Versa why is it when the Paleocene – Eocene Thermal Maximum once set into motion, that being an increase in CO2/higher temperature positive feedback cycle did not feed upon itself? Again it did not only stop but reversed?

    My conclusion is the climate system is always in a general gradual trend toward a warmer or cooler climate in a semi cyclic fashion which at times brings the climate system toward thresholds which make it subject to dramatic change with the slightest change of force superimposed upon the general trend and applied to it. While at other times the climate is subject to randomness being brought about from terrestrial /extra terrestrial events which can set up a rapid counter trend within the general slow moving climatic trend.

    .

    Despite this ,if enough time goes by (much time) the same factors that drive the climate toward a general gradual warming trend or cooling trend will prevail bringing the climate away from glacial/inter-glacial threshold conditions it had once brought the climate toward ending abrupt climatic change periods eventually, or reversing over time dramatic climate changes from randomness.

    NOTE 1- Thermohaline Circulation Changes are more likely in my opinion when the climate is near the glacial/ inter-glacial threshold probably due to greater sources of fresh water input into the North Atlantic.

    • SDP:
      Earth’s temperature cycles in at least two fundamental ways. Shorter term are orbital cycles, which produced the Pleistocene glaciation cycles and which always return the temperature to its previous value (or approximately). But there are longer term trends, like the slow temperature decrease of several degrees over the past ~50 million years. These are likely produced by relative positions of the continents to each other and the poles and the nature of ocean circulation.

      • “But there are longer term trends, like the slow temperature decrease of several degrees over the past ~50 million years. These are likely produced by relative positions of the continents to each other and the poles and the nature of ocean circulation.”

        I would love to see a post here on the topic of plate tectonics and climate. I wonder if the configuration of the continents would impose limits on the potential changes to ocean circulation. That is, currents look to be, partially at least, driven by coriolis force and constrained by continents. Though it has been much hotter in the distant past, and CO2 concentrations higher, the position of continents was very different, including the super continents like Gondwana and Pangea.

      • Given that the climate seems to track the tectonics shifts and the resulting circulation changes – a post on tectonics would be good.

        The antarctic, greenland, and the Himalayas are three very bright solar reflectors (particularly the almost tropical Himalayas) that don’t have a lot of “back radiation” due to the dryness of the air and the altitude. The Arctic ice cap is sort of bonus.

      • What is well within and well beyond the earth obviously will one day be of paramount interest to a group we will know as “climate scientists”. One day.

    • Mr. Del Prete, Perhaps my understanding is deficient, but I would regard an ice age as an extreme. I would say that fits your description of “Why does the climate never go in the same direction once it heads in that direction?”

      Given how long they have lasted, as for your second question, what brings the climate back from an extreme, I do hope somebody is looking for an answer…

      • The government scientists may start checking to see how the magical gas CO2 really controls earth’s temperature.

      • Tom,

        Ice ages may be extreme from the standpoint of most life, but they seem to be the steady state for the planet.

  19. Here is how one has to look at the climate in my opinion. It is stable in the sense that the absolute temperature of the globe does not change in a drastic fashion and always returns to it’s mean ,but it is unstable in that it takes very minor changes in absolute global temperatures to transition the climate from glacial to inter-glacial conditions.

    • Climate4you.com has an interesting chart showing the temperature changes over the past 420,000 years based on the Vostok (Antarctic) ice cores. This data shows that the earth’s climate is bistable, i.e. two sort-of-stable temperature regimes. RGBatDuke gave us a good analysis of this point some time ago. The shortest of the two states are the interglacials which are entered and left very suddenly. Our current interglacial has lasted roughly 10,000 years, far longer than normal in this record. This may be why our civilization evolved over the past 10,000 years of interglacial stability and not before – too little time during the priors. Most of the record shows the earth in an ice age with erratic but cold temperatures dominating with occasional and brief jumps up to what we think of as “normal.” Some argue that Milankovitch cycles cause these changes but such cycles are very gradual. There must be some trigger that changes the climate suddenly from warm to cold and back. Perhaps a critical albedo change, or land configuration change, or cosmic event?? perhaps this issue is being researched but I see nothing myself. Anybody?

  20. Steve McIntyre

    Let me join the congratulations. A profound topic. Out of all the climate papers published this year, surely this one has a chance of being remembered 40 years from now.

  21. This says it all me thinks:

    “Climate models do not capture this stabilizing feedback.”

    Thank you Dr. Curry.

  22. It is also speculated that albedo changes potentially regulate the climate system. Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis, exemplified in the study of “Daisyworld”, suggests that regulation of the system albedo by the adaptation of biota of differing albedos to climate change might in fact buffer the system from the instabilities inherent to earlier energy balance models.

    By reduction in idealized models (with two non linear ode ),climate states tends to reorganize into anharmonic oscillators by symmetry breaking by hopf bifurcations (the devils pitchfork).[ Rombouts and Ghil 2015]

    http://www.nonlin-processes-geophys-discuss.net/2/145/2015/npgd-2-145-2015.html

  23. Doug Badgero

    The issue of regulated albedo has struck me as “profound” since I realized the NH and SH albedo are nearly identical. I figured eventually climate scientists would get around to the issue.

  24. Cancel Code Amber Heat. Kevin Trenberth, phone home.
    ==============

    • Trenberth was looking in the wrong direction, trying to find the missing heat.

      • You cannot find heat in outer space. He was looking in the right direction. The only direction a scientist could look.

      • Kim has more right brain than JCH has. (I know many engineers who would agree with JCH.)

      • How you find heat that is wandering away in outer space? What Trenberth said was it’s a travesty that the monitoring system of the earth was not up to tracking energy flows. They built a buoy array for Josh Willis; they built a satellite for Graeme Stephens. They didn’t wast their time building spaceships so cops could chase down and arrest the fugitive heat.

      • Danny Thomas

        JCH,

        Can’t they find the missing heat (energy) by subtraction? In other words, by what’s not making it in? While I’m not even (yet) an amatuer scientist I’ve wondered and asked here before that no matter the source (GHG’s/Albedo via WV) doesn’t our sun toss at us a complete spectrum of energy and that the “barriers” ought to work in both directions. Now the question would likely be a lack of a baseline.

      • if he had found it going into outer space,
        that would mean that it’s not accumulating here on earth,
        which would mean that this would be wrong http://4hiroshimas.com/

        Now how would that go over?

      • Actually the paper does seem to indicate that some heat may be accumulating in the southern ocean – but likely for the wrong reasons.

      • Danny – basically people went at it different ways. Hansen concluded fairly quickly, through new ARGO data, that there was no more missing heat. he estimated the imbalance at .58. Graeme Stephens estimated it at .6. and he sticking with that number in this paper. Trenberth was a stickler. He wants the entire thing pinned down. There a places ARGO does not measure. I don’t see how he can be faulted for that. Sounds rather scientific to me.

        What is hilarious here is that people think this paper has that much to do with Trenberth. Better monitoring equipment? Yes. That’s about it.

        This lack of precise knowledge of surface energy fluxes profoundly affects our ability to understand how Earth’s climate responds to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. – Graeme Stephens et al., 2012

  25. Danny Thomas

    I’m a bit confused (as usual). From above:”Although Earth is very near this symmetric state, it is currently out of energy balance with less OLR emitted from the SH than the NH giving rise to the approximate 0.6Wm2 global imbalance observed.” (Here I’m assuming this is an atypical state).
    So I wonder why then is there the lack of ice reduction in Antarctica as being connected to more energy “remaining” (not being reflected)(Seems counter intuitive as more energy “remaining” should cause GREATER ice reduction shouldn’t it?). Or, alternatively guessing it’s a “coping mechanisim” as an attempt to regain the equillibrium? Does this make sense?

    • DT:
      20 kyr ago, when the NH was at maximum glaciation, the SH received higher than average TOA insolation, yet was glaciated even more than today. Obviously other factors were and are at work, including cold ocean currents around Antarctica, how heat is transferred around the globe, and available moisture sources for new snow/ice formation.

    • They state the imbalance is associated with the offsetting movements of atmospheric and ocean heat transports.

      • Finally. Somebody actually read the darn thing. Maybe it also said profound. I didn’t see it.

      • Danny Thomas

        JCH,
        You sound skeptical! :)

      • JCH, Those offsetting changes in atmospheric and oceans heat transports produce some asymmetries which models don’t get all that well.

        and

        So you have some portion of the 0.6 +/- 0.4 Wm-2 imbalance going into the southern oceans and less going into the northern oceans. With the northern oceans being in the deep convection temperature range, more of the imbalance is lost to space. Energy going into the deep oceans producing a very small increase in temperature increase the oceans ability to “buffer” changes in climate. You can read that as decreasing the Tmax/Tmin range. Increase in deep ocean temperature isn’t going jump out, it just reduces the down side.

      • The way I read it is the imbalance is caused by the energy being absorbed in the SH, transported to the NH, and released there. To be honest I have only had time to skim the paper while getting ready for work so I may have misunderstood.

      • steven, “The way I read it is the imbalance is caused by the energy being absorbed in the SH, transported to the NH, and released there. To be honest I have only had time to skim the paper while getting ready for work so I may have misunderstood.”

        If the NH release is equal to the sh absorption there is no imbalance. The “cause” of the imbalance is more energy is being absorbed than released.

        What causes the “cause” i.e. the imbalance is the issue. CO2 increase is a factor, higher SH insolation is likely a factor and then since there was a LIA and deep ocean heat uptake/release is a multi-century time scale issue, you have an initial value problem to sort out before you can estimate attribution.

        The paper makes a giant step forward or actually backwards to pre-CO2 mania, so more of that can be sorted out.

      • … This symmetry is achieved by increased reflection from SH clouds offsetting precisely the greater reflection from the NH land masses. … – the abstract

        I think this sentence is weird. Maybe it’s just me.

      • JCH, “I think this sentence is weird. Maybe it’s just me.”

        I believe the result is weird not the sentence. Maintaining a fairly constant albedo with a 3.6% change in solar forcing while having large differences in surface albedo should have indicated more atmospheric control of albedo from the get go.

      • Danny Thomas

        Steven,
        My apparently poorly made point was that since it seems our good old mother earth apparently wants to be in a relative state of equillibrium and does not recognize from where changes originate but only that a change exists is she therefore attempting to offset those changes in this case by an increase in ice (which the models did not project)? (Hoping this is a better presentation of my thought).

      • OK, reading it again, and cheating and looking at one of their references to make sure, it appears a net of 0.2PW is transported from the SH to the NH

        http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00382-013-1767-z

        And JCH’s link shows an energy balance model with the NH losing as much energy as it recieves (thanks for the link JCH)

        So now I am at the SH gaining 0.4PW and the NH gaining 0.2PW.

      • No, that is mixing up measurement units. Someone that can convert from 0.6 w/m^2 – o.2PW would have to see what the difference is.

      • Danny, the only hypothesis regarding the increased ice in the SH that I am aware of that matches up with increasing energy would be the idea that fresh water from melting glaciers makes it freeze easier. The problem I see with that is the correlation between where sea ice is being added and where the glaciers are melting looks poor. It seems more likely to me to be an ocean heat transport effect melting one area while atmospheric forcing is doing very little. It could be that all the energy is being added near the equator and is only being transported to specific regions or it could be the energy balance models are wrong. Since the comparison of tropical clouds and global temperatures found on climate4you show a decrease in tropical cloud cover from the 80s to the 90s, my opinion is the energy is most likely being added there and then transported.

      • Danny Thomas

        Steven,

        I’ve seen that too, and one report where the westerly winds were having impact but at -40-50 not sure I’m comfortable with that. As I understand it, the sea ice is being melted but the land ice to the east is where building is occurring which would follow with the wind theory. Transport makes the most sense to me but this paper reminded me of the disconnect w/r/t the imbalance.

  26. There is one intriguing subject that we authors have discussed. Whereas orbital changes in radiative forcing tend to be asynchronous between the hemispheres, the great ice ages and the warm periods tend to be synchronous. I.e., they exist globally. So somehow the system adjusts via cloud feedbacks to equalize the seasonal forcing discrepancies between the hemispheres. There have been many suggestions why there is a synchronous response to asynchronous forcing ranging from the increase/decrease of global CO2 during a climate epoch to exotic changes in abyssal heat transport. None quite as simple as the albedo effect that appears to work in the present climate. PW

  27. Matthew R Marler

    Extremely interesting paper. I noticed this: Received 28 JAN 2014
    Accepted 15 JAN 2015

    Long time in review, eh?

  28. Could the global state of “charge” have anything to do with regulating cloud cover between both hemispheres…

    Understanding the Electrical Interactions between Ions, Aerosols and Clouds
    K.A. Nicoll

    Molecular cluster ions are the mediators of the fair weather air- earth current, which flows due to the potential difference between the ionosphere and the Earth s surface. Recent developments in atmospheric physics have suggested that ions may have an additional role in the atmosphere, that they are linked to the development of clouds. Since ion production is linked to solar activity, there is much controversy around this topic as it may indicate a larger (indirect) role for the sun in climate. Empirical correlations between cosmic ray ion production and cloud have been found by several investigators, including Tinsley and Dean (1991), and Pudovkin and Veretenenko (1995), but the physical explanations for these observations are only suggestive and not well-established. These observations have been explained by the possible influence of charged aerosol particles on ice formation. However, Marsh and Svensmark (2000) report a global correlation between cosmic rays and low altitude clouds, which are mainly composed of water droplets and would therefore require a different mechanism. There is evidently a need for further investigation into ion-aerosol-cloud interactions and to establish the science behind them. At present, microphysical models that simulate physical and chemical properties of atmospheric aerosol do not include charged processes, many of which may be affected by the presence of molecular cluster ions (Harrison and Carslaw, 2003). It is important to establish a solid scientific theory of ion-aerosol interactions so that these processes may be correctly represented in numerical cloud models. Doing so will decrease the uncertainty on our estimates of the aerosol and cloud effects on climate change.

    http://www.ddl-conference.org.uk/files/Understanding_the_Electrics_Interactions_between_Ions_Aerosols_and_Clouds.pdf

  29. This paper will have a profound affect on modelling of climate. I’ll have mote to say about this later.

    • If you say a mote, will we be able to read it?

    • The differencebetwen NH snd SH radiation apparenmtly due to their different spectra of radiation because thr total is nearly the same. How can that be? I susprct that the 14.99 micron bsnd band predominates in the SH, but in 1940 it was close to saturation in the NH according to met recordas. So apparently the 1940 singularity was a NH phenomemon

    • I had one in my eye once.

      • THANK you Bill, Jim and Beth for your comments. Unfortunatly my eyesight is failing so brevity is a necessity for me because I can’t see my own typing errors. While I have always recognised spectra’s role in concentrating CO2 absorption bandwidth, I had not known pf its hemispherical importance. The plot thickens.

  30. > This symmetry [NH vs SH] is achieved by increased reflection from SH clouds offsetting precisely the greater reflection from the NH land masses

    Fascinating – and I happily admit, something I knew not till now

    What a delicately poised natural buffer … :)

    • Say, how neat
      is naychure’s
      yin ‘n yang,
      energy in, energy out,
      juggling act
      betwixt hemispheres?
      How cool is that
      – or when called for
      – how warm?

  31. stevefitzpatrick

    Dick Lindzen was right after all? Shocking. Has to be a mistake.

    • ‘Adaptive Iris’ was(is?) about longwave emission to space.
      This is more like ‘adaptive reflective sun glasses’ – reflection of shortwave.

    • Interesting that I see the implications being described along the lines of: “Questions [notably not actually specified] are raised.”

      And you see the implications as being Lindzen is proven correct.

      Interesting. Anyone have Mr. Monster’s new phone number? He doesn’t seem to be answering his old one.

    • “Has to be a mistake. …”

      You got that part right.

      Still an imbalance; more energy in than energy out:

      • Perhaps, though I wonder how we get from uncertainties of:
        Reflected Solar +/- 2.0 and OLR +/- 3.3 to imbalance +/- 0.4

      • Matthew R Marler

        JCH, in that energy flow diagram from Stephens et al, the net outgoing LW radiation is 52 W/m^2, whereas the total non-radiative transfer of energy to the troposphere is 112 W/m^2.

        What is the change in non-radiative transfer if the surface warms 1C?

        If a 1C increase in surface temperature produces a 2% – 7% increase in rainfall (O’Gorman, cited by Pat Cassen earlier), what will be the change in albedo caused by the changes in the clouds?

      • Matthew R Marler

        JCH,

        The increase in SH due to a doubling of CO2 concentration can be estimated from the result reported by Romps et al. Their main result was an increase in the cloud-to-lightning ground strike rate by 12% per 1C increase in mean temperature over the US east of the Rocky Mountains. The most important result for this presentation was the estimate of a 12% increase in the power of the process that generated lightning, and that estimate was not confined to the US east of the Rockies. Up to a constant of proportionality, the power of the process generating the lightning was calculated as CAPExPR, where CAPE is “convective available potential energy” and PR was precipitation rate. Precipitation rate was used in the calculation rate not because of the latent energy in the water vapor, but because the precipitation rate was treated as proportional to the rate of transfer of air (with water vapor mixed in) from the surface to the upper cloud level. That result depended on the modeled lapse rate and difference between the interior and exterior of the cumulus column. Assuming that their result is widely accurate wherever those can be modeled, and PR rate is proportional to the rate of ascension of air, the increase of SH due to a 0.5C increase of surface mean temperature should be approximately 6% of 24 W/m^2 = 1.4 W/m^2.

  32. From the simplistic mind of a retired high school chem/physics teacher who
    reads much here and comments little.
    —We teach that the science world is governed my negative feed backs, yet we continue to assume we live in a world of positive feed backs. I would suggest we live in a world where we are always out of equilibrium, but like a pendulum always accelerating toward balance, we are always showing the most acceleration toward equilibrium when most disturbed.
    —-In this vain, positive water vapor feedback seems to increase negative feedback of cloud processes.
    —An increase in downward radiation along the wings of IR absorption bands, causes ,if anything, more speed among molecules in the compressed lower regions of the atmosphere. The mean time between collisions decreases and the absorbed energy is transmitted to other gas molecules kinetically. The closer to the earth, the less chance the CO2 molecules which are saturated with respect to their absorption bands can send energy downward. Meanwhile it seems the wave frequencies which may be absorbed in the widened IR bands should see a transparent window to space unless they are within the absorption spectrum of another gas.
    Just Sayin.

  33. May I ask, mechanistically, how large amounts of heat could be transferred from one hemisphere, in both a steady state or due to weekly swings?
    If we know how large amounts of heat can potentially be transferred, we can look there for conformation of these claims.

  34. From:

    “Joint analyses of surface solar flux data that are a complicated mix of measurements and model calculations with top-of-atmosphere (TOA) flux measurements from current orbiting satellites….”

    to:

    “The albedo of Earth appears to be highly buffered on hemispheric and global scales as highlighted by both the hemispheric symmetry and a remarkably small interannual variability of reflected solar flux (~0.2% of the annual mean flux).”

    Anytime I see models combined with measurements to generate such remarkable precision on a global scale, I get suspicious, regardless of the details of the ‘complexity’ of the mixing of the two.

    I am suspicious of temperature reports to within hundredths or even tenths of a degree on a global scale. Ditto global sea level rise to within millimeters. Or global ice totals to any degree of precision.

    The introduction to the paper itself notes that:

    “We also show that the ability of present-day models of climate in simulating the statistical properties of the energy reflected from Earth varies depending upon the metric used.”

    I think the Earth’s climate system probably has a number of components that serve to regulate temperature (alone and in combination), clouds, and oceans appearing to be the most obvious. But of course what I think and what I know are two entirely different things. A distinction I think ‘climate science’ would do well to learn.

  35. The issue of heat transfer between hemispheres becomes important in considering the effect of orbital cycles (particularly the ~21 kyr obliquity precession cycle) on hemispheric TOA insolation and production of glaciated and inter-glaciated epochs. When the northern hemisphere (NH) receives lowest insolation and is glaciated (e.g., ~20 kyr ago), the SH is receiving higher than normal insolation, such that time variation in insolation for the whole globe remains about constant. Somehow that higher insolation in the SH has to be rejected, by higher cloud albedo, or deep ocean storage, or some other way.

  36. Pingback: The Infant Science | The Lukewarmer's Way

  37. JC reflections
    The implications of this paper strike me as profound. Planetary albedo is a fundamental element of the Earth’s climate. This paper implies the presence of a stabilizing feedback between atmosphere/ocean circulations, clouds and radiation.

    Considering there are no contemporary climate data showing CO2 (manmade or otherwise) is driving global temperature, does this paper move any lukewarmers closer to being skeptics?

    • Danny Thomas

      PMHinSC,

      I’m still in the process of self-labeling and consider myself a warmer/lukewarmer seeking cause. As I still see warming, I for one have not changed that perception. However am more comfortable that alarmism is not an appropriate response. Hope this answers, if only from me. Great question for JimD, JCH, R.Gates and maybe a few others.

    • Matthew R Marler

      PMHinSC: does this paper move any lukewarmers closer to being skeptics?

      First of all, the results have to be replicated by other research groups. Given the importance, I expect other research groups to see whether they can replicate the study and its results. Secondly, given the vast amount published to date, one study will probably not have that much of an effect on opinions, though it might have a large effect on the research of the next few years.

  38. Of critical importance is the mechanism of regulation. The obvious mechanisms involve temperature. It is difficult to imagine a mechanism which does not involve temperature. But that would mean the mechanism regulating albedo would be triggered by warming of any kind providing a strong negative feedback. And any kind of strong negative feedback is game over for the prospect of scary warming.

    I agree. This is an extremely significant paper.

    • If the mechanism is mediated by biological activity, it may be related more to amount of sunlight than temperature.

      In which case, you can’t immediately conclude that CO2 induced warming will activate the regulatory mechanism.

      • But CO2 has a strong biological effect. So in that case CO2 would directly activate the regulatory mechanism without even having to wait for temperature to rise first. So well done in thinking up a plausible mechanism which is not mediated by temperature. But this still doesn’t rescue the prospect of scary warming either.

  39. Clouds having an affect on climate?? Revolutionary rot.
    The 97% Herd will not be pleased.

    • Well look, … it’s not 97% of clouds that act as regulators,
      it’s only 3%. The IPCC have a new model adjustment paper
      to present next week that will show this unequivocally

    • Don’t these damn clouds know that regulating climate is job that has been reserved for politics ? FFS! How will the promised $zillions in climate taxes ever be replaced?

    • Yes, the 97% tried to stop Graeme Stephens from getting his satellite, or from having a job with NASA.

      Lol.

      Because they did not think clouds have an affect on climate.

  40. If anybody sees this mentioned in the MSM let me know. I’m just sure that Justin Gilles is working on a front page piece for the NYT!

    • What are the odds that this paper gets the Willie soon treatment? Let’s hope the authors have disclosed all their funding sources since we now know how that affects the quality and validity of any paper not bowing to the co2 god of global warming.

  41. JPL’s Graeme Stephens has been an author or lead author in a number of recent papers that use the latest technology to update climate science. As Dr Stephens points out,

    “The net energy balance is the sum of individual fluxes. The current uncertainty in this net surface energy balance is large, and amounts to approximately 17 Wm–2. This uncertainty is an order of magnitude larger than the changes to the net surface fluxes associated with increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (Fig. 2b).”

    (Order of magnitude means 10X. Uncertainty in the net energy imbalance is 10 times greater than the estimated energy imbalance from greenhouse gases.)

    Both papers below address uncertainty, a major policy factor affecting proposals for policies to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change.

    Stephens et al. An update on Earth’s energy balance in light of the latest global observations. Nature Geoscience Vol. 5 October 2012
    http://www.aos.wisc.edu/~tristan/publications/2012_EBupdate_stephens_ngeo1580.pdf

    Norman G. Loeb, John M. Lyman, Gregory C. Johnson, Richard P. Allan, David R. Doelling,Takmeng Wong, Brian J. Soden and Graeme L. Stephens. Observed changes in top-of-the-atmosphere radiation and upper-ocean heating consistent within uncertainty. (Nature Geoscience Vol 5 February 2012)
    http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/~sgs02rpa/PAPERS/Loeb12NG.pdf

  42. Profound Judith? Bit more like earth shattering. It implies that there is a very large negative feedback path in the climate dynamics, that stabilises – presumably via water vapour/cloud redistribution – the global albedo to preserve temperature near a more or less consistent mean.

    Which we always knew there must be, since the earth does not routinely suffer catastrophic climate change.

    The science is nearly settled. Climate change is (almost entirely) natural.

    The politics and economics of the climate change industry however are akin to the tobacco industry. Those who deny the an-anthropic reality of climate change and profit from ‘green’ research and selling ‘green’ products will not give up their sinecures and easy incomes without a fight.

  43. Encouraging to see that “All data
    described in this paper are available
    through relevant data repositories.” Also encouraging that the authors don’t preach or overstate their case. Is that the Peter Webster of Georgia Tech.?

  44. Water World

    Imagine a world 100% covered in water with an atmosphere similar to that on Earth but with no other greenhouse gas present except water vapor. The climate is then driven just by the thermodynamics of water evaporation and solar forcing. Due to solar radiation the atmosphere is never in a state of thermodynamic equilibrium as energy and temperature gradients are always present. For simplicity, the axis of rotation is taken as perpendicular to the orbit plane so there are no seasons. Let’s call this imaginary world “Water World”. In all other respects conditions on Water World are exactly the same as on Earth. Can such a water covered planet self regulate its temperature as the sun’s output gradually increases? The motivation for proposing such a Water World follows Daisy World [1] proposed by James Lovelock to justify Gaia theory. When the planet’s sun is 4 billion years younger its output is 33% less than it is today, so under clear skies with an albedo for water of 0.1, the average incident solar energy would be ~ 274 watts/m2. The solar constant slowly increases over the following 4 billion years resulting in a current average value of 342 watts/m2 equivalent to that on Earth today.

    The only greenhouse gas present on Water World is water vapor and its concentration is determined by thermodynamic balances in the atmosphere. Evaporation transfers latent heat from the surface to the atmosphere, enhancing H2O greenhouse effect and condensing to form low level clouds which increase the planet’s albedo. Further heating in the daytime can trigger thunderstorms which transfer heat directly to the top of the troposphere and rain out humidity at the end of the day. The 12 hours of darkness then allow cooling from the surface with a reduced greenhouse effect. The average global temperature is then given by the total Outgoing Long Wave radiation (OLR) at the top of the atmosphere through steffan-bolltzman’s law = e*sigmaTeff**4.

    The model for our “Water World” assumes 2 basic dependences. For low solar forcing epochs evaporation from the surface mostly increases greenhouse warming and favors high altitude clouds. In the tropics stronger evaporation during the day causes low convection clouds and eventually thunderstorms. The increase in low level clouds increases the planet’s albedo thus attenuating incident solar energy. In parallel, more saturated tropical air will tend to increase the lapse rate acting to dampen the greenhouse effect. The final global average temperature is some (complex) balance between these effects. To try to keep things as simple as possible, I will just assume that these two drivers are simple linear functions of incident solar forcing:

    It will be just assumed that there is a simple relationships between low clouds and the net greenhouse effect upon incident solar energy. Defining x = S0/342 as the normalized solar flux on Water World relative to that incident on Earth today.

    1. Low Cloud Cover is assumed to be driven by solar heating: CC = 0.4*x. Intense heating (in the tropics) causes more convection clouds, boundary level clouds etc. The albedo for convection clouds is taken as 0.5 so the planet albedo varies as 0.1+0.2*x. This value is chosen so that the planet albedo today is 0.3 (about the same as that on Earth).

    2. The net total normalised greenhouse effect g is assumed to depend inversely on x. Water evaporation and high clouds at low x yields a high g value which decreases as higher forcing drives evaporation leading to a lower lapse rate and more direct latent heat loss to the upper atmosphere. Today g is 0.3 and the proposal is that g depends inversely on increasing x so g= 0.3/x. Therefore this implies that 4 billion years ago g was 0.45.

    Then the global Energy balance is simply:

    (0.9-0.2x)S0 = SU(1.0-0.3/x), where S0(now) is 342 watts/m2

    –> SU = ((0.9-0.2x)x*342)/(1-0.3/X)

    –> Tsurf(x) = T(now)*4th root(SU(x)/SU(now))

    This is very easy to calculate and the results are shown below

    As expected there is a clear dampening effect of the model on increases in surface temperature, as compared to assuming constant values of today’s values of albedo and greenhouse effect. The fact that we know liquid water was present 4 billion years ago effectively rules out constant values. Others have argued that on Earth a greatly enhanced CO2 greenhouse effect is responsible for warming in the early history of the Earth. One problem with this is CO2 forcing increases only logarithmically so to offset reduced solar forcing of 100watts/m2 would appear to require an impossible 10**8 increase in CO2 concentrations.

    • Clive the Earth has a reducing atmosphere until the evolution of photosynthetic water splitting about 1.80 billion years ago. As recently as 580 million years ago atmospheric oxygen levels were <15% of present day levels.
      In an atmosphere rich in sulphide, methane and ammonia the land would be covered in black rubber, exposed metals would be sulphides and the oceans were acidic and rich in transition metal ions. The huge ore beds that are mined today are the result of biotic changes in the atmosphere and the change in the redox potential of the air and sea.
      The albedo of the oceans and land would have been quite different during the 'faint sun' era's.

      • Given the high abundance of carbon in our galaxy, and its position in element synthesis in stars, a world with abundant H2O but without CO2 is quite unlikely.
        Also a reducing atmosphere until the advent of O2 is an older idea no longer in vogue. Likely the Earth was formed with both CO2 and CH4, but the reducing atmosphere was lost early. In the geologic past, CO2 has been much more abundant. Also there is now some indication that the advent of O2 may have occurred in stages at different times much earlier than 1.8 Ga ago.

      • The model is just analogous to Lovelock’s ‘Daisy World’. It is not intended to describe the ‘Earth’ as such. It only shows how a planet dominated by a liquid water surface can regulate it’s temperaure.

        and where do we see most cloud cover ? Over warm tropical oceans.

      • Clive Best

        We do pretty well for cloud cover here in England especially in the cooler months. Less cloud cover here than in warm tropical oceans? Surely not?

        tony

      • Lots of cloud over the Intertropical Convergence Zone. However, I have to agree that the UK also gets its fair share from the N.Atlantic. The Met Office should acknowledge that we might be better off with 2 deg of global warming. It would be nice to have a climate like say Madeira !

      • Tonyb
        Clouds that are bright and thick at top reflect radiation back into space.

        Clouds that are dark and thick absorb and then re emit down to heat

        Clouds insulate upcoming heat down. Variable clouds increase with warm temps and high latitude clouds increase snow and ice in the arctic and Anarctic. Difficult to model and when predicted very hard to verify if the projections match reality. The science is not too settled.
        Scott

      • Clive

        I live near teignmouth on the south coast. The weather is so great and sometimes it’s so hot that often its Difficult to tell it apart from Madeira….

        Tonyb

    • It appears that with a warming signal, globally, low level cloud reduces and mid level cloud increases. Regionally, the greatest surface warming from clouds should be from low level cloud in the mid to high latitudes, particularly in the winter season when nights are longer, and when the atmospheric circulation in the same hemisphere moves equatorwards. The corollary being that low level equatorial clouds in daytime would cause the greatest cooling effect. A reduction of low level cloud and increase of mid level clouds in extratropics and high latitudes with increased forcing of the climate would then act as a negative feedback.
      I have a serious problem with water vapour giving a greenhouse effect in the tropics because of its absorption of solar near infrared. WV does reduce insolation at the surface. The claw-back is provided largely from the heat capacity of WV warming the nights, and from advection to higher latitudes. And as with clouds, the spatial distribution of WV is critical, as neither are abundant in the Horse Latitudes:
      http://www.fourmilab.ch/cgi-bin/Earth/action?opt=-p&img=vapour.bmp

  45. Comparative silence from our AGW commenters. Judging by the length of the review process (almost 1 year) it seems that the paper ticks all the boxes and there probably isn’t much that anyone can pick up on.

    I have found the paper to be a great read and well referenced. I would have liked to see more on what the authors understand as the possible basis for cloud formation and changes in atmospheric water content, which seems to be an important mechanism for the transfer of excess energy between the tropical and polar regions.

  46. This is perilous and frightening news. This increases the probability that ‘missing heat’ has been radiated back out to space, as Kevin Trenberth so wisely advised us in his 2008 NPR interview. Very distressing, because I’d hoped that the ‘missing heat’ might help ameliorate the onset of the next Ice Age.

    So, what a waste all those fossils have been. Can we have a do over, and put them back where they belong? Oh, the plants are registering objections. My suggestion can not carry the day.
    ===============

    • He says there is an imbalance: .6.

      Where is it going?

      • Remember teeter totter as a kid?
        Oh what fun and flips we did.
        =====================

      • The .6 W/m^2 imbalance in the paper is between hemispheres, not between earth and space.

      • Lucifer,
        No, I think it is indeed between earth and space. Towards the end of section 7, it says

        This slight hemispheric difference in OLR is half the clear-sky OLR differences and is the principal source of the 0.6 W m-2 global mean imbalance in the TOA net flux

      • Thanx ATTP, I sit corrected.

      • The .6 W/m^2 imbalance in the paper is between hemispheres, not between earth and space.

        No, I think it is indeed between earth and space.

        Aren’t they saying that it is an asymmetry in the OLR emitted from the SH compared to the NH, resulting in an imbalance between the hemispheres that causes offsetting transports of heat between the hemispheres?

        Although Earth is very near this symmetric state, it is out of energy balance, with less outgoing longwave radiative (OLR) emitted from the SH than the NH. This hemispheric asymmetry in OLR contributes to the approximate 0.6Wm?² imbalance observed and is associated with offsetting transports of heat from north to south in the atmosphere and from south to north in the oceans.

      • Danny Thomas

        Swood & JCH,

        “Aren’t they saying that it is an asymmetry in the OLR emitted from the SH compared to the NH, resulting in an imbalance between the hemispheres that causes offsetting transports of heat between the hemispheres?”

        This was my impression also which lead to my thinking that the Antarctic ice is a response to this imbalance (and I may be completely off base here).
        There seem to be two different discussions, missing heat (in oceans .58) and the .6 W/m^2 imbalance in the paper is earth/sun.

      • Steven Mosher

        To repeat:

        “This slight hemispheric difference in OLR is half the clear-sky OLR differences and is the principal source of the 0.6 W m-2 global mean imbalance in the TOA net flux”

      • Danny Thomas –

        This was my impression also which lead to my thinking that the Antarctic ice is a response to this imbalance…

        But is there evidence that the imbalance is different from what it was? Also, isn’t there an absence of asymmetry between the Antarctic land ice and sea ice?

      • Danny Thomas

        Swood,

        Two parts:”But is there evidence that the imbalance is different from what it was?” Was my question also where upthread I’d comment I assumed this was atypical.
        Then: “Also, isn’t there an absence of asymmetry between the Antarctic land ice and sea ice?” From my understanding, thickening east and land based, and lacking in sea ice west. But here again, does mother nature realize (respond quickly?) or does she just attempt to offset the imbalance by building ice in an attempt to increase albedo? I have no idea of the answer, but posing questions here leads to those with much greater understanding often offering hints. Antarctica reaction is puzzling to me.

      • Danny – it’s essentially the same: .58 versus .60. This paper is not as earth shattering as it is being sold.

        It a review paper. Much of he can be found in prior papers by other authors. Reflected solar essentially the same in both hemispheres. Not new. Energy imbalance is .6. Not new.

        Some appear to think this means if the NH warms, the SH cools by the same amount. Sorry, it’s not Christmas after all.

      • Danny Thomas

        JCH,

        Thank you. My main impression is an indication of the “healing” nature of the global climate as a result of the systems attempting to maintain equillibrium. It seems the changes in climate don’t manifest “globally” but instead regionally then globally (as evidenced by warm western us but cold east). “Some appear to think this means if the NH warms, the SH cools by the same amount”. My expectation would be that if NH warms say .6C then that would spread to .3 to SH and .3C would remain in NH. But if increasing temps lead to increased albedo via WV then future warming (Incoming solar) should lessen leading to healing (if this thinking is accurate).
        As an aside, it’s an important contribution to the issues with projections based on modelling as it shows one distinct area in which models function (or are set up) inaccurately. If/when we understand all the pieces, then the reliability of the models should improve. Right now, we know there are misses w/r/t atmospheric temps/Antarctic ice and who knows what else.

    • The golden lining in this silver frought cloud is that it means we’ve likely bounced naturally off the coldest depths of the Holocene. Where there’s heat there’s hope.
      =================

      • Where is it going? There is a imbalance. Trenberth correctly stated it was either being radiated back to space or into the oceans or a combination of both.

        Graeme Stephens and his team state there is an energy imbalance. He even says where it’s going.

        Where is it going?

    • What next ice age? Extreme glaciations are initiated by orbital cycles producing low TOA insolation in the northern hemisphere. We are some 9 thousand years beyond the last such stage in the early Holocene. In the not too distant future the NH insolation will start to increase again (following the ~21 kyr obliquity-precession cycle). For the next several tens of kyr, hemispheric insolation changes caused by orbital cycles are predicted to be relatively modest.

      • Yet protracted solar minima and LIA & Dark Age type stadials could potentially be colder through the next 3-5kyr than the previous 9kyr.

    • ” ‘missing heat’ has been radiated back out to space”

      haha. Where’s my nose? where’s my nose??? oh, face….

  47. Where is it going?

  48. Lol. It’s thought to be capable of some sort magical life saving activity during the next ice age.

    • The vasty ocean deeps may answer when we do call but the not the vasty stellar deeps.
      =================

      • Lol. There is deep ocean warming, according to a wicked climate scientist named Wunsch, in the Southern Oceans. When the TOA imbalance flips, it will come out: freaking cold as heck.

    • Bang, bang Maxwell’s Thermo Hammer came down on the knee,
      Clang, clang four heads jerk as one sans centrality.
      ==================

  49. Albedo is a breath of fresh air, obviously a product of post-Arrhenius science. Nice break from CO2.

  50. Pingback: The Climate Change Debate Thread - Page 4702

  51. Am I not correct in remembering Willis proposing much the same thing in a couple of articles some time back. Of course he didn’t have the necessary equipment to back up his theory.

    • My joke with moshe is that I had it all figured out years ago, but have since forgotten. You have to read the blogs.
      ====================

      • Well, you did figure it out a long time ago. Scientists are just starting to remember their basic thermo.

      • Mosh’s crack that you were a kimbot is still funny to me. :)

        I actually wondered if it was true for a minute or so with all
        the poetry/verse you often post.

      • Steven Mosher

        Bill.. Long ago before it was Kool I did some work
        In NLG. In the 80s. Code that wrote poems.

        Kim has always reminded me of the output of those early programs

  52. Douglas J  Cotton

    If the reflection by clouds increases from 20% to 21% then calculations show that the effective radiating temperature (that 255K) falls by about 0.92C° and so too does the surface temperature. Also, if the extra cloud cover is due to extra water vapor, that also would lower the temperature gradient and so reduce the surface temperature maybe by at least another 0.5C° so the total of 1.5C° would account for most of the long-term cooling between the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age, and the warming between the Little Ice Age and the present.

  53. While many in The Climate Science Community insist that Independent Verification and Validation of GCMs is both (1) not necessary, and (2) impossible, time marches on and the job, (a small part of the job, at least) gets done.

    The paper that is the subject of this post at WUWT represents an aspect of Verification of numerical methods, and the paper under discussion in this thread represents Validation, with a bit of Verification covered also.

    Verification of the individual numerical methods is always possible; there are no exceptions.

    Validation, while extremely difficult, can be approached from a bottom-up viewpoint by looking at the pieces parts one-by-one, and component-to-component couplings in increasing degrees of complexity.

    The fact that the GCMs considered in the paper do not even get the phase of the temporal variations correct is remarkable; potentially a numerical methods problem.

    I did not see in the paper any estimates of the effects of the slab-ocean approximation. Are any of the authors around to address, or dismiss, this issue?

    V&V in the Computational Climate Sciences is a target-rich environment for grad students; nearly unlimited.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Dan Hughes: The paper that is the subject of this post at WUWT represents an aspect of Verification of numerical methods,

      All of the authors have appointments at Chinese institutions, and two also have affiliations with SUNY Stony Brook. They are all Chinese. I wonder if that is reflective of “cultural differences” in choice of topic and decision to publish what are potentially upsetting results.

  54. oops, clicked too soon.

    The temporal-phase problem is shown in Figure 11 of the paper. Can the authors also address, or dismiss, the possibility that the numerical method issue discussed in the paper at WUWT is related to the problems with the GCMs noted in this paper?

    Thanks

  55. Like I’ve said before, CO2 is the pilot light. Water is the prima donna.

  56. Pingback: Jordas albedo | Klimarealistene

  57. Re: The albedo of Earth, 3/10/2015

    Any variations in the solar radiation model sufficient to affect the short term variability of Earth’s climate must be selected and amplified by Earthly processes. This model hypothesizes that cloud albedo produces broadband amplification, using established physical processes. The hypothesis is that while cloud albedo is a powerful, negative feedback to warming in the longer term, it creates a short term, positive feedback to TSI that enables its variations to imprint solar insolation at the surface. A calculation of the linear fit of surface temperature to suitably filtered solar radiation shows the level of amplification necessary to support the model, and isolates the short term positive feedback from the long term negative cloud albedo feedback. Bold added, Glassman, J.A., Solar Global Warming, 4/17/2010, rocketscientistsjournal.com; The Cause of the Earth’s Climate Change Is the Sun, journal.crossfit.com/2010/04/glassman-sgw.tpl

  58. “You made the wrong statement. Guess why?”

    Hilarious, tonyb. ++

    Andrew

  59. Well, as identified by the paper, the units of action of albedo are clouds.
    And the units of action of clouds are largely dynamic surface polar air masses ( or if you prefer, the upper waves responsible for the low cloud generating surface features ).

    Apart from the frontal zones,
    over land, subsident polar air masses tend to produce clear(er) skies.
    Over the oceans, polar air masses tend to produce low clouds ( maritime stratus ).

    The remarkable seasonal constancy may simply be a reflection of stronger polar air masses over continents during the winter and weaker, more shallow polar air masses accumulating in the ocean basins during summer.

    Similarly, the hemispheric constancy may reflect the greater tendency of oceans to create clouds when driven by the general circulation.

  60. One other aspect that comes to mind with this is the ITCZ.
    The ITCZ is pushed by the winter hemisphere into the summer hemisphere.
    The big exception is the Eastern Pacific ( and mostly the narrow equatorial Atlantic ) where the ITCZ remains North of the equator year round. This is probably because of the geography of the Andes Mountains and of Africa.

    I wonder, for the longitudes in which the ITCZ is always north of the equator, does the north/south albedo symmetry still occur?

    • Hi Lucifer,
      Actually not because of the Andes but rather because the cross-equatorial SST gradient is of the same sign all year long. Hence the cross-equatorial surface pressure gradient don’t change orientation. This leads to a year long transport of Southern Hemisphere potential vorticity which is unstable. If you are interested you can find a study on the EPO ITCZ at:
      Toma, VE, PJ Webster, 2010a: Oscillations of the intertropical convergence zone and the genesis of easterly waves. I Theory and diagnostics. Clim. Dyn. doi: 10.1007/s00382-009-0584-
      Toma, VE, PJ Webster, 2010b: Oscillations of the intertropical convergence zone and the gensis of easterly waves. II Numerical experiments. Clim. Dyn. doi: 10.1007/s00382-009-0585-9
      Of course, one can argue that the SST gradient is set up by the orientation of South America I suppose.
      Peter W

  61. Dr. Curry wrote:
    “The implications of this paper strike me as profound.”

    Absolutely. This paper fits squarely at the top of the Modern Warming fault tree. The control system that drives the climate is obviously highly damped and this paper is a big thrust towards resolution of how the damping works.

  62. This is pretty much exactly what Lindzen has been saying for years, and it accords with a commonsense understanding of the climate. The achievement of the authors is to discern and quantify mechanisms that explain precisely how the albedo is constrained. Not an easy thing to do.

  63. Jack Smith, TX

    If Bill H.R. 1030, dubbed the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015. If passed, it will prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from making assessments or passing regulation “based on science that is not transparent or reproducible”.
    http://www.upressonline.com/2015/03/environmental-protection-agency-faces-republican-reform-boca-representative-will-get-second-swing/

    If you think this is a good idea be sure to let your representative know.
    This research paper (Albedo of Earth) could meet the qualifications of H.R. 1030 and be used to destroy the EPA’s regulatory power.

    On further thought, maybe this legislation should apply to the entire government! No more EPA, DOE, FDA!! No more models, untestable theories and no more research money wasted on environmental/energy issues.

  64. Doug Proctor

    Does the paper speak to symmetry but not to a stable temperature/gross absorbed solar energy? That albedo changes so as to maintain a general value, i.e. reflection percentage of the TSI TOA, but the study does not say anything about what internal energy build-up might be should land mass area or – horrors! – the composition of the atmosphere change?

    Stability of an engine’s speed is not a reflection of its rpm (outside too high or too low for the engine to function). A consistent albedo can still have Earth freezing or frying.

    (I’m not arguing for anything other than the study doesn’t relate to the CAGW argument except as relating to the conservative nature of total Earth processes. Due to the Earth’s orbital eccentricity, small as it is, the SH receives some 3.4% total SI more than the NH and yet is, on an annual basis, about 2C cooler than the NH. Obviously there is some increased reflection OR major energy transference going on between the hemispheres.)

    • Right – I don’t see the implication that albedo would change as a negative feedback to any forcing.

      However, there are large implications for CAGW in the other findings:
      albedo in the models is not accurate, at least with respect to the symmetry.

      And as JCH pointed out in this link, ( see slide 11 ),
      when albedos are constrained to be as CERES observations, the precipitation fields change dramatically.

      Perhaps that doesn’t matter, but if the models have such errors within,
      are we sure they have the net energy balance right?

    • OK, I’m not the only person who saw it this way. If anything, this finding that cloud albedo is stable intertemporally suggests that changes in forcing do NOT lead to compensating changes in albedo given that forcings change a lot over the Earth’s history.

  65. Very interesting study. Interesting to see they acknowledge the current net energy imbalance of the planet in a range very close to other findings, around 0.6 w/m^2.

    • 0.3 w/m^2

    • NVM,I need to stop speed reading at work. I’ll go back to what I should be doing.

    • This 0.6-0.9 w/m^2 figure has been discussed both here and elsewhere for some time. Seems well constrained and is supported by multiple lines of evidence. Using the broadest measures of net energy gains to the system, including ocean heat content, latent heat of fusion (net glacial ice mass loss planet wide), atmospheric temperature gains, the 0.6 w/m^2 TOA imbalance and these net energy gains to the system are in pretty close agreement.

  66. Finally!
    “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” – Hamlet

  67. Berényi Péter

    See my comment on October 13, 2013 at 4:15 pm

  68. Berenyi –

    I am impressed. You nailed it 18 months ago!

  69. That clouds are the principal factor in regulating surface insolation–the complement of albedo–has been known not just by professional observers for decades. Thus there is little surprise that there is little difference in albedo between the hemispheres. Nor is the greater LWIR emission of the NH news, since the bulk of the globe’s land-mass is found there. Genuine profundity in scientific research requires considerably more than just the affirmation of basics.

  70. While I focused on water and soil rather than atmosphere in school, Atmospheric Physics was both the most interesting and demanding course I took. Back then it seemed almost intuitive that clouds played the most important feedback role in climate and that they key to understanding climate was understanding clouds.

  71. Finally found time to read this seminal paper. One of the fascinating things is Figure 12, high model v. low observed interannual albedo variability. I am familiar with NCAR, #11 in table 3. Just went and studied two of its key albedo parameterizations. 4.5.2 is the macroscale component of condensate and precipitation parameterization, which will increase/decrease clouds. The module output depends on cloud fraction and relative humidity thresholds. 4.7 is the parameterization of cloud fraction. Again, the module output depends on which side of relative humidity threshhold parameters the grid cell is at that time step. The threshold RH parameters are given in appendix C.
    The very structure of CAM5CS1 results in high variability as the calculated RH wanders back and forth across these parameterized threshholds. Its a model feature that in light of this new paper looks like a bug.

  72. Clouds suit my mood just fine.

  73. Pingback: New albedo paper? | …and Then There's Physics

  74. I don’t see anything all that positive from a skeptic’s point of view. It doesn’t seem very positive for my favored ocean heat transport hypothesis. It does seem like a fairly short period of time for the study and during a period when there wasn’t that much going on as far as temperature changes. This is all assuming I didn’t miss partial sentences ect again.

  75. Some of those responding, like JCH, JohnS and ATTP (on his blog) have reported being underwhelmed. For those feeling this way is it because you see an absence of evidence for the existence of a stabilizing feedback between atmosphere/ocean circulations, clouds and radiation, or is it that you regard such feedback as unremarkable?

    • Steven Mosher

      “For those feeling this way is it because you see an absence of evidence for the existence of a stabilizing feedback between atmosphere/ocean circulations, clouds and radiation, or is it that you regard such feedback as unremarkable?”

      false choice.

      • Mosh – how about just giving an answer to what is a straightforward and perceptive question. Your “false choice” response seems designed to deflect the discussion away from having to concede that the stabilizing feedback likely exists and cannot just be dismissed as unremarkable.

      • Steven Mosher

        because it is neither straightforward nor perceptive.
        almost with exception folks have regarded the paper as interesting and important.

    • Steven Mosher

      another reason why you dont argue by asking questions

    • Steven Mosher

      further, everyone agrees its “interesting and impressive”
      I don’t think ‘we’ are underwhelmed, we are whelmed. Others may be over whelmed. So.
      1. you mischaracterize the reaction.
      2. that induces you to construct a false choice question.

      a better question is why do skeptics exhibit triumphalism when any thing but C02 is mentioned? Bad question, but I dedicate it to you.

      • ‘”Why do skeptics exhibit triumphalism when anything but CO2 is mentioned”
        For the very reason you call them Skeptics. They think there is more to it than CO2 and get excited whenever there is confirmation of that. I don’t know whether that is a really good and pertinent question or a stupid one since the answer seems so obvious to me. Or was it a trick question?

      • Triumphalism? I guess because we see that IPCC and
        Guvuhmints have constrained the ‘science to AGW or
        CAGW focus, even monopoly, as justification to increase
        guvuhmint regulations and taxes on reliable energy and
        subsidize unreliable renewable energy, costing heaps
        $$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Making said bodies, the IPCC and
        Guvuhmints more powerful and human adaptability to
        black swans et Al less so. And when it comes down
        to it, regarding the perceived problem, their policies don’t
        reduce CO2 much anyway, not that it seems ter matter.

      • “a better question is why do skeptics exhibit triumphalism when any thing but C02 is mentioned?”
        Some of us consider ourselves like defense attorneys. The right amount and kind of triumphalism can be effective.

      • Skeptics see this paper as but one answer among thousands to the question of what makes our climate system tick. Warmunistas see this paper as yet another threat to their dogmatic view that the only answer to the question of what controls our climate is it’s co2 that done it- nothing else matters. Simple enough for you there steven?

      • davideisenstadt

        mosh writes:
        “you should get out more. mom’s basement is not the best social scene.”
        speak for yourself mosh…
        mine comes with uncrustables, because mommy loves me. ;-)

    • Mosher is the only guy I know who whines about skeptics except Joshua.

      Andrew

    • Well, I like Graeme Stephens’ work. He’s a very good scientist, and his evidence is most likely solid.

    • I’m always totally underwhelming by those who use the term “feedback” without any comprehension what that term really means in scientific system analysis.

    • Where’s my secretary to catch my editing errors? Read “underwhelmed,” instead of “underwhelming.”

    • Swood1000,
      As Steven is trying to point out – I think – it’s not so much being underwhelmed by the paper itself (I agree with JCH, Graeme Stephens seems to be a very good researcher and this seems to be an impressive piece of work) as being underwhelmed by what some appear to be concluding. As I see it, the work has measured the albedo very accurately and has shown that there is a North-South symmetry. I don’t think that one can really make any strong conclusions with regards to cloud feedbacks as they are expected to be small anyway. There does appear to be an issue with climate models not capturing this symmetry and that this may have implications for the hydrological cycle (if they’re not getting the right distribution of clouds, they’re unlikely to properly represent changes in precipitation). So, this is certainly interesting, but I don’t really see how it implies anything all that significant with respect to how our climate will respond to changes in anthropogenic forcings.

      Something that I have wondered is what this implies with regards to the aerosol-cloud effect. If the system always tends towards a North-South symmetry. and if there is a larger aerosol effect in the NH than in the SH, does this imply that this symmetry will amplify the aerosol-cloud effect, or damp the aerosol cloud effect (or, have no relevance whatsoever, I guess).

      • ATTP, I agree that cloud feedbacks may well be small in reality, but they are quite sizeable in many models. Soden and Held 2006 had them varying between +0.2 and +1.2 W/m2/K in CMIP3 models. According to AR5 they vary between -0.4 and +1.2 W/m2/K in CMIP5 models. The study from which the AR5 figures came (Vial et al, 2013) also showed cloud adjustments to CO2 forcing of between -0.2 and +0.7 W/m2 (for a doubling of CO2 level).

      • Nic,
        Sure, those are similar to the kind of numbers of which I was aware. Maybe “small” was the wrong word to use. My point was more that it’s hard to see how one could conclude much about cloud feedbacks from this work specifically. This paper only considers the satellite era (1984-) and so even if clouds feedbacks are of order 1Wm-2K-1 that would imply a change of less than 1Wm-2 since the mid-1800s (less than 1% change in albedo) and so the change since 1984 would be presumably too small to have been measured. Of course, cloud feedbacks is not only albedo, but I still think that any change since 1984 would likely have been too small to have been detected.

      • The point that I would like to make here is the linear thinking of separating out individual feedbacks (e.g. cloud, water vapor) doesn’t work very well for a complex nonlinear system (e.g. I focused on a radiation-dynamics-cloud feedback in context of this paper). About 15 years ago I was very gung ho for figuring out a better way to conceptualize/analyze climate feedbacks, but gave up after I truly understood how complex all this is.

      • curryja commented

        The point that I would like to make here is the linear thinking of separating out individual feedbacks (e.g. cloud, water vapor) doesn’t work very well for a complex nonlinear system (e.g. I focused on a radiation-dynamics-cloud feedback in context of this paper). About 15 years ago I was very hung ho for figuring out a better way to conceptualize/analyze climate feedbacks, but gave up after I truly understood how complex all this is.

        I’m starting to keep coming back to a solar heated distillery. There’s really only one liquid/gas/liquid molecule that’s operating in ours, and the energy in the state change in water far exceeds that of anthro Co2, Co2 forcing is bound by the state changes in water.

        Plus, even under clear skies, night time cooling is only limited by Co2 until rel humidity get in the upper 80-90%, and then that water vapor slows cooling. If there’s little to no water it will cool longer and get colder, why deserts get so cold at night, and the tropics get damp at night. Again surface temps are being controlled by the properties of water, Co2 has almost no effect. For instance, night time cooling right after sunset is very high can be 5-10F/hour, when rel humidity is high it’s 1-2F/hour.

      • “There does appear to be an issue with climate models not capturing this symmetry and that this may have implications for the hydrological cycle (if they’re not getting the right distribution of clouds, they’re unlikely to properly represent changes in precipitation).”

        Agree except that it WILL, not may have implications for the hydrological cycle. Since significant changes in rainfall patterns are one of the most feared potential aspects of AGW, this would seem to make the current models useless for determining what changes might occur. What about all those “peer reviewed” papers describing the future harms that will result from the changes in rainfall patterns? I doubt authors will back away from their conclusions…sadly.

      • …and Then There’s Physics commented

        So, this is certainly interesting, but I don’t really see how it implies anything all that significant with respect to how our climate will respond to changes in anthropogenic forcings.

        I think it has a lot to say, the properties of water, vapor pressure, energy of evaporation, etc are fix, anthro forcing doesn’t change those, water is the set point of the planet, it’s the physical properties of water that are controlling surface temps, a water thermal cycle, it evaporates in the tropics, carries heat poleward where it’s dropped and re-evaporated multiple times until it ends either in the water system or as ice. Water controls it all, the operating point in this cycle could shift, and in fact the annual temperature rate of change has changed over the last 60 years.

        But, when you look at the rate of Max and Min temp change, well I don’t think max temps have changed much at all, it’s all been big regional swings in min temps, look the differences between the day to day change in min,avg and max temps, each year has the same stations, and a station was included if it had a minimum of 240 samples that year. And no I don’t area weight the data, but I do process down to 1×1 degree cells if you’re worried about that(follow the url in my name). The weighing might be different, but the same effects show up in the data.

        “Global Climate Change” are the oceans reconfiguring themselves, and we’re are detecting the change in surface temp downwind of this.

      • This seems to be exactly the case. In the link I posted down below, they tried balancing the albedo by adding some aerosol to the SH stratosphere – this completely changed the precipitation.

        https://judithcurry.com/2015/03/10/the-albedo-of-earth/#comment-682883

      • Mi Cro,

        Again surface temps are being controlled by the properties of water, Co2 has almost no effect.

        Sorry, but this is simply wrong. Water vapour is clearly an important greenhouse gas, but it’s not a persistant GHG. CO2 is a persistent GHG. It doesn’t precipitate as easily as water vapour. Without CO2 the water vapour would simply precipitate, the surface would cool, ice sheets would form, and we’d turn into a snowball.

      • …and Then There’s Physics commented

        Again surface temps are being controlled by the properties of water, Co2 has almost no effect.
        Sorry, but this is simply wrong. Water vapour is clearly an important greenhouse gas, but it’s not a persistant GHG. CO2 is a persistent GHG. It doesn’t precipitate as easily as water vapour. Without CO2 the water vapour would simply precipitate, the surface would cool, ice sheets would form, and we’d turn into a snowball.

        Let’s say in general I agree. But at the current temp range of the planet the atm is full of water and it’s an unlimited supply, so for all of the dry air made near the poles, the tropics are making more wet air. The persistance argument is a red herring for the climate we live in. And as I mentioned

        the operating point in this cycle could shift, and in fact the annual temperature rate of change has changed over the last 60 years.

        I could agree that some of this could be from Co2.
        But I’ve also compared rising and falling temps from 1940 to 2013 for all stations that have at least 360 sample that year in the NCDC GSoD data set, and over all, 65 some million records, night time cooling is a little larger than the previous days warming, it’s close enough that with round they would be 0.0, but there’s slightly more cooling in the surface station data.
        There’s no evidence of any loss in cooling in the surface data, temps have gone up, but that doesn’t mean a thing.

      • and Then There's Psychics

        …and Then There’s Physics | March 12, 2015 at 11:32 am |

        “Water vapour is clearly an important greenhouse gas, but it’s not a persistant GHG. CO2 is a persistent GHG.”

        Sorry, but that is simply wrong. You meant it is not a consistent GHG. It is quite persistent being present to some level everywhere.

      • Mi Cro,

        But at the current temp range of the planet the atm is full of water and it’s an unlimited supply

        I’m not even really sure what you mean by this. The water vapour content of the atmosphere is largely set by the Classius-Clapeyron relation which indicates a dependence on temperature.

        The persistance argument is a red herring for the climate we live in.

        No, it’s not.

        TBH, there’s not much point in us continuing this discussion. I keep getting told that there aren’t really any people who deny anthropogenic global warming, and yet people keep saying things that appear to suggest that they do. I think the discussion would benefit if people challenged such views more than they do (especially on sites such as this) but I’ve done it too often to really have the energy to do so again.

      • …and Then There’s Physics commented

        I’m not even really sure what you mean by this. The water vapour content of the atmosphere is largely set by the Classius-Clapeyron relation which indicates a dependence on temperature.

        This is the proper name for what I was describing, in the tropics, this pumps huge volumes of water into the atm. In it’s current temperature the planet’s distillery is still working, and as long as it continues, the Classius-Clapeyron relation will control surface temps anywhere that isn’t a desert.

        The persistance argument is a red herring for the climate we live in.
        No, it’s not.

        I respectfully disagree.

        TBH, there’s not much point in us continuing this discussion. I keep getting told that there aren’t really any people who deny anthropogenic global warming, and yet people keep saying things that appear to suggest that they do.

        I don’t deny anthro global warming, I will point out that in the surface data I have it is missing. Am I fully believe that Co2 getting the temp warm enough to start the water cycle is what lead us out of ice ages, but the planet is much much colder.

        Also, might I suggest using an IR thermometer and measure the temp of the sky, clear days, cloudy days, warm and cold. Prikia pointed out correctly it doesn’t include the energy from Co2, but it is the Black/Gray body temp from 8-14u for the IR it’s collecting, and it isn’t much. And if you add even the full 4W/m2 of anthro it changes the temp from say -40F to -38F, and yes SB says that will warm the surface some. Maybe march is a little warmer, but I don’t think the max temps are appreciably higher, we’re just doing a better job of measuring temps in more places.

      • If there is stabilizing feedback then apparently it’s providing stability between the NH and the SH. Are we saying that a forcing in one hemisphere (a) will be resisted, through this mechanism, by an absence of forcing in the other, or (b) will be resisted regardless of forcing in the other hemisphere, or (c) will be transmitted, through this mechanism, to the other hemisphere, the stabilizing feedback seen as a kind of conduit through which equilibrium is maintained?

      • Mi Cro,

        I will point out that in the surface data I have it is missing.

        I don’t understand what you mean by this. What is missing and why is it that few others seem to think that something crucial is missing?

        Swood1000,
        I don’t really think the paper is saying anything about a stabilising feedback. I think it is simply illustrating that the albedos of the two hemispheres are essentially the same and that this may be a consequence of some kind of hemispherical energy balance. I don’t think that this implies that the albedo will adjust to counteract some change in forcing. If anything, if the NH albedo is dominated by land (which is pretty hard to change) it might be suggesting that it is difficult for the albedo to change at all unless you change the land albedo in the NH.

      • …and Then There’s Physics commented

        What is missing and why is it that few others seem to think that something crucial is missing?

        What is missing is any sign that night time cooling has changed.
        I can’t ascribe motives to others, but maybe no one else looked? I looked because I noticed how much temps dropped setting up my astrophotography rig.

      • The water vapour content of the atmosphere is largely set by the Classius-Clapeyron relation which indicates a dependence on temperature

        Water vapour content is limited by Clausius–Clapeyron, but not necessarily set ( or the Sahara would be a lot wetter ). A dynamicist might focus on the motion of water vapour ( and precipitation ). Probably both aspects pertain to ‘climate change’.

        But imagine an ocean and atmosphere without wind or turbulent flow, but only molecular diffusion. Over a long time, would water vapor diffuse to the limit of Clausius–Clapeyron, such that relative humidity was 100% everywhere? It would seem so, but average relative humidity is closer to 50% instead.

        Now, I know the speculation is that relative humidity will remain roughly constant through modeled warming. That may be, but it is still subject to the unpredictable dynamic flow which keeps the atmosphere from being saturated currently.

      • Lucifer,

        Water vapour content is limited by Clausius–Clapeyron, but not necessarily set

        Okay, I was trying to think if my wording could be pedantically criticised. I didn’t think hard enough :-) Yes, “limited” is more appropriate than “set”. As you say, the current view is that RH will remain roughly constant as we warm. This may not be true, or there may be well be things that add complexity, but I don’t think that there is anything in this paper that suggests some major flaw in this basic picture.

      • …and Then There’s Physics commented

        Okay, I was trying to think if my wording could be pedantically criticised. I didn’t think hard enough :-) Yes, “limited” is more
        appropriate than “set”.

        And I accept “Limit” as what I was trying to describe.

        As you say, the current view is that RH will remain roughly constant as we warm. This may not be true, or there may be well be things that add complexity, but I don’t think that there is anything in this paper that suggests some major flaw in this basic picture.

        What i didn’t realize is that every night rel humidity goes way up, we get dew (or frost) on everything, as I already mentioned even with a -70F sky temp, the rate of surface temp cooling slows way down (to 10-20% of earlier cooling) when the rel humidity rises, if it’s sunny the next morning it all evaporates.
        How much energy is released to space, when you condense 10-20 grams of water over a sq meter and freeze it with the temperature still falling, doesn’t that basically release a lot of latent heat into the air, and then to space? That’s a lot more than just cooling air, even more interesting is when I measure the IR temp of the concrete sidewalk and asphalt driveway after sunset, and late at night.

        Kind of pertinent, I estimated the inland rain fall of one of the hurricanes that rained out over the midwest dropped ~1/3 the volume of Lake Erie on it’s path north. How much heat did that amount of water have to lose to condense?

      • ATTP –
        If there is no hemispherical energy balance that keeps the albedos of the two hemispheres the same then we have to say that they are the same just by chance, right? It would seem that if there is a hemispherical energy balance that keeps the albedos of the two hemispheres the same then to the extent that changes to albedo are resisted, changes in forcing that would result from albedo changes are also resisted. But can it even be said that such a mechanism would resist changes to albedo? Maybe it would just act to synchronize the NH if the SH changes.

      • Hee Haw, or better, Seesaw. The hemispheres are teleconnected.
        ====================

      • kim commented

        Hee Haw, or better, Seesaw. The hemispheres are teleconnected.

        I’m voting they just have the same song book, and sometimes they sing in harmony.

      • Yes, sometimes sublime and sometimes cacaphonious. Better, the everywhere cacaphony sometimes somewheres sounds sublime, and sometimes somewheres doesn’t.
        ==============

      • Mi Cro,

        What is missing is any sign that night time cooling has changed.

        Are you referring to measurements you’ve taken yourself? As I understand it, there are observations showing changes in night temperatures etc. See here.

      • …and Then There’s Physics commented on

        Are you referring to measurements you’ve taken yourself? As I understand it, there are observations showing changes in night temperatures etc. See here.

        No, though I’ve augmented my understanding with measurements I’ve taken. I’m using NCDC’s GSoD data.
        I’ve been looking at the day to day evolution of temperature on each station, day over day min change, day over day max change, yesterday’s min to yesterday’s max, and last night’s max to this morning’s min. When you compare last nights cooling to yesterday’s warming they would round to +/-0.0F, though cooling slightly exceeds warming (-0.004F), the annual average derivative of day to day max temp is pretty much the same since the 50’s (0.001F) , the derivative of min temp is all over the place(-0.004F), but seems to be mostly from various regions changing for a while, then settling down.

        So, their data. I’ve looked at all of them, by continent, 1x1degree, 10x10degree, 10 degree latitude bands to some degree or another.

        But I think the rate of change in surface temp as the year changes has a lot to tell us about what is happening.

      • @ATTP (or anyone else for that matter). Can someone please explain in slightly more depth why water vapor doesn’t count as a persistent GHG? I understand the initial claim that it goes from anywhere from zero to 4%, that it doesn’t stay in the atmosphere, therefore it is not “persistent”, and therefore its humongous absorption band doesn’t count hardly at all. Isn’t the objection really the fact that it cannot be easily *modelled*? I mean, given that oceans cover 70% of the Earth, and they are continuously evaporating for 12 hours of every day, more or less. There should be continuous water vapor at least a couple percent over the oceans at all times, …no? Then if you just take the tropics, its usually pretty humid over the Amazon & African rainforests, no? So what if some of it precipitates out as rain? It just gets replaced a few minutes or hours or a day later. Between the ocean & land tropics you’ve already got most of the surface having moisture in the air within some varying amount. Then the stuff that hasn’t yet turned into rain is probably aggregated into clouds. I’ve read the canonical Hansen Lacis Carbon Control Knob paper thru a couple times. The radiative role of water vapor is just ruled out with a wave of the hand, no explanation. Yet somehow magically the WV is reinstated once you’ve got the CO2 trigger “lighting the oven” and then magically, the power of WV is restored as a positive feedback loop 2 or 3 times over. Sorry my atmospheric physics is nonexistent but I’ve been reading up for three years now and still don’t get it. Please enlighten me, someone, anyone…

      • Can someone please explain in slightly more depth why water vapor doesn’t count as a persistent GHG?

        The simple answer is that water vapour doesn’t stay in the atmosphere for very long. It will typically precipitate within days. So, let’s imagine we were emitting lots of water vapour into the atmosphere, rather than CO2. What would happen is simply that any excess water vapour would simply precipitate as rain or snow before it produced any significant warming.

        CO2, on the other hand, is very different. Individual CO2 molecules stay in the atmosphere for years and, if we increase the total amount of CO2 in the ocean/biosphere/atmosphere (as our emissions are doing) it could take centuries – or even longer – for the atmospheric concentration to return to pre-emission levels.

      • …and Then There’s Physics commented

        The simple answer is that water vapour doesn’t stay in the atmosphere for very long. It will typically precipitate within days. So, let’s imagine we were emitting lots of water vapour into the atmosphere, rather than CO2. What would happen is simply that any excess water vapour would simply precipitate as rain or snow before it produced any significant warming.

        I have to ask what part of the world do you live in? I’m trying to get a understanding of what your daily weather. is like. I for instant live at N41 W81 or there abouts.

      • Danny Thomas

        ATTP,
        Another question Re:”The simple answer is that water vapour doesn’t stay in the atmosphere for very long. It will typically precipitate within days. So, let’s imagine we were emitting lots of water vapour into the atmosphere, rather than CO2. What would happen is simply that any excess water vapour would simply precipitate as rain or snow before it produced any significant warming.”
        This statement makes it seem that the water vapor time is constrained to an event instead of a cycle with immediate replacement in the atmosphere. Are you aware of the “average” content of WV in the atmosphere? Within this thread someone posted +/-50% but I’m unaware of the source for this.

      • Danny Thomas

        ATTP,
        Correction. Should have been +/- 50% RH. (sorry)

      • You aren’t very explicit, and thus not very persuasive, about what constitutes ‘excess water vapor’ or ‘excess carbon dioxide’.
        =============

      • Mi Cro,

        I have to ask what part of the world do you live in? I’m trying to get a understanding of what your daily weather. is like. I for instant live at N41 W81 or there abouts.

        I don’t quite get the relevance as I don’t think what I said is particularly controversial or surprising. FWIW, I live in Scotland where it appears to precipitate out in minutes, rather than days :-)

        Kim,
        If you think I have any interesting in engaging in a discussion with someone as unpleasant as you clearly seem to be, then you’d be sorely mistaken.

      • Interesting, yeah. Hey, is that a question?
        ==============

      • Ken, too bad, then, that there’s everything else, which may eventually precipitate and percolate through your rock-ribbed radiated ritual physics.
        =================

      • Water is said to be suspended in the atmosphere for up to eleven days and that there is sufficient water to add 3cms of water to all the globes surface.

        I read a report years ago that said that this suspended amount varied from between 2cm and 5cm. How true that is I don’t know but that can certainly create a lot of clouds in lots of different places and must have an Impact on temperature. But whether that will mean it causes overall warming, cooling or Is overall neutral still remains an unanswered question, as does whether that equation may change over time

        Tonyb

      • Danny,

        This statement makes it seem that the water vapor time is constrained to an event instead of a cycle with immediate replacement in the atmosphere. Are you aware of the “average” content of WV in the atmosphere? Within this thread someone posted +/-50% but I’m unaware of the source for this.

        Well, there is a hydrological cycle, but I think one might argue that it’s not quite the same as the carbon cycle. I don’t know the average content of WV in the atmosphere, but an averege relative humidity of around 50% seems reasonable.

        The basic point, though, is that because WV precipitate within days, it’s virtually impossible to drive something like global warming using water vapour instead of CO2. If we start in equilibrium and then pump lots of WV into the atmosphere, then we may undergo some warming, but as this water vapour precipitates, we will simply cool back down to the initial equilibrium. CO2 is, on the other hand, persistent so pumping lots of CO2 into the atmosphere can lead to long-term warming and this warming would then lead to increased WV content.

      • Danny Thomas

        ATTP,

        I can see your point that the individual components in the WV may not remain, but the volume effectively does and I think that would be an important distinction as far as feedbacks go. Since you and I’ve not previously written I’d like to share a bit about myself. Non-scientist studying for +/- 5mo., Warmer/luke seeking cause. Thick skinned enough to ask dumb questions in public.
        Agreeing that WV is unlike CO2 in the time spent suspended on a cycle basis, and comfortable of the theory that higher temps should (have?) equal more evap leading to higher precipitation then offset by that precipitation’s caused cooling effects. Are you aware of resources that indicate RH or another measure of WV (precipitation?) have indeed increased during the warming trend (from say 1850)?

      • Danny,

        I can see your point that the individual components in the WV may not remain, but the volume effectively does and I think that would be an important distinction as far as feedbacks go.

        I think the point is that this isn’t true. If you start in some kind of equilibrium state and increase the WV content, the excess will simply precipitate out and the system will return to the initial state.

        Are you aware of resources that indicate RH or another measure of WV (precipitation?) have indeed increased during the warming trend

        You could try this paper which indicates that an increase in WV has been observed.

      • ATTP,
        “I think the point is that this isn’t true. If you start in some kind of equilibrium state and increase the WV content, the excess will simply precipitate out and the system will return to the initial state.”
        Might I respectfully point out what BS this is?
        If rel humidity is ~50%, it could double without raining out.
        Let me ask, if we wait 2 weeks, well past the 11 day residency of water, will all t he water rain out?
        Or how far back do we have to go to find a time when WV was the same % of the atm as Co2?

      • Mi Cro,

        Might I respectfully point out what BS this is?

        May I respectively point out that I’m struggling to find a “sceptic” who isn’t also an (okay, I can’t bring myelf to actually say it).

        If rel humidity is ~50%, it could double without raining out.

        Yes, it could. However, our current understanding is that RH will probably stay roughly constant. In which case, it is difficult for WV alone to drive long-term global warming.

        I’m also confused as to why you would want to argue as you are. Our current understanding is that water vapour plus lapse rate feedback is about 2W/m^2/K^1. This means that if there is an increase in temperature of 1K, the change in water vapour (and lapse rate) will produce a feedback response of 2W/m^2. This would produce an additional warming of about 0.5K, which would then produce a WV + lapse rate response of about 1W/m^2 and an additional 0.25K of warming. If you do the infinite sum, you would get a total warming of between 2-3K.

        If you’re arguing for an even stronger WV feedback response, then you’re arguing for an even higher ECS. Also, if the feedback response approaches 3.5W/m^2/K^1, then we’d be in a runaway greenhouse state. In other words, every 1K increase in temperature would produce a feedback response that would result in an additional 1K of warming, which would then produce a feedback response that would result in another 1K of warming. Since this doesn’t happen, we’re reasonably convinced that the WV + lapse rate feedback response has to be less then 3.5W/m^2/K^1 which means that WV alone cannot drive long-term warming.

      • My “complain” is with this

        The simple answer is that water vapour doesn’t stay in the atmosphere for very long. It will typically precipitate within days.

        My point is that while those molecules might rain out, they were replaced somewhere else. So the lifetime argument seem specious to me. And in fact Co2 has a lifetime of under about 10 years in the atm, so your argument on WV could reasonably be applied to Co2 as well.

        As a side note, the stations that have >360 days samples per year, have an average Rel Humidity of ~69%, and it’s been within a percent or two all the way back into the 40’s. But if the atm is actually warmer, it’s carrying more WV than if it hasn’t.

        We started this because I feel like WV is a regulating factor in climate, and that’s what this article is all about, that regulatory process in which using WV, it is automatically limiting the energy in the two hemispheres far closer than the land mass configuration would led us to believe.

      • Mi Cro,

        Let me ask, if we wait 2 weeks, well past the 11 day residency of water, will all t he water rain out?

        No, that would be silly. My point is simply that if you add extra WV (over and above what the atmosphere can hold at a given RH) it will precipitate out in a period of days or weeks. I’m not suggesting that all the WV will precipitate out in days, simply that excess WV will precipitate out in days/weeks. Hence, it is difficult (impossible?) to drive long-term warming via adding WV to the atmosphere.

      • Mi Cro,

        My point is that while those molecules might rain out, they were replaced somewhere else. So the lifetime argument seem specious to me. And in fact Co2 has a lifetime of under about 10 years in the atm, so your argument on WV could reasonably be applied to Co2 as well.

        There is a fundamental difference, though. WV is limited by the Classius Clapeyron relation. This really just depends on the temperature in the atmosphere. Of course, you’re right, that technically we could simply add WV until the atmosphere is saturated everywhere. This doesn’t appear to happen and I think the reason is that convection carries the WV vertically until it reachs an alititude where RH is close to 100%, then it condenses, forms clouds and precipitates. So, if the RH is approximately constant, then the amount of WV in the atmosphere will remain approximately constant. There is no fundamental reason why excess WV should be replaced after being precipitated.

        CO2 is slightly different. We’re taking CO2 that has been buried for millions of years and releasing it into the atmosphere. This increases the amount of CO2 in the ocean/atmosphere/biosphere. The amount in the atmosphere is then set by the carbon cycle (Henry’s Law for the oceans). The only way to reduce this is for the CO2 to form calcium carbonate and precipiate to the ocean floor (I think), or to be buried as biological matter. This is a very slow process. Therefore, even though an individual CO2 molecule may only remain in the atmosphere for years, the time it will take for an increase atmospheric concentration to decrease is much much longer (centuries).

      • “CO2, on the other hand, is very different. Individual CO2 molecules stay in the atmosphere for years and, if we increase the total amount of CO2 in the ocean/biosphere/atmosphere (as our emissions are doing) it could take centuries – or even longer – for the atmospheric concentration to return to pre-emission levels.”

        Wrong. Only half of anthropogenic emissions remain in the atmosphere each year. The earth’s carbon sinks grow in capacity every year. If the emissions were to suddenly the carbon sinks would not stop they’d start sucking it back out at the same rate it was added in the past, shrinking every year.

        Too bad you don’t actually know any of the physics implied by your handle you farking dumba$$.
        .

      • …and Then There’s Physics commented

        There is a fundamental difference, though. WV is limited by the Classius Clapeyron relation. This really just depends on the temperature in the atmosphere. Of course, you’re right, that technically we could simply add WV until the atmosphere is saturated everywhere. This doesn’t appear to happen and I think the reason is that convection carries the WV vertically until it reachs an alititude where RH is close to 100%, then it condenses, forms clouds and precipitates. So, if the RH is approximately constant, then the amount of WV in the atmosphere will remain approximately constant. There is no fundamental reason why excess WV should be replaced after being precipitated.
        CO2 is slightly different. We’re taking CO2 that has been buried for millions of years and releasing it into the atmosphere. This increases the amount of CO2 in the ocean/atmosphere/biosphere. The amount in the atmosphere is then set by the carbon cycle (Henry’s Law for the oceans). The only way to reduce this is for the CO2 to form calcium carbonate and precipiate to the ocean floor (I think), or to be buried as biological matter. This is a very slow process. Therefore, even though an individual CO2 molecule may only remain in the atmosphere for years, the time it will take for an increase atmospheric concentration to decrease is much much longer (centuries).

        While I’ve not really looked at it this before, it seems WV is limited by the Classius Clapeyron relation with atm temp and Co2 is limited by Henry’s Law related to Ocean temps, right?
        Rel humidity averaged ~70% in my data set, that sounds about like the right amount of WV left in the atm after night time cooling condenses out WV in excess of that amount.
        And we know we emit more Co2 than what shows up in the atm concentration, and the images from that new satellite seems to show, well doesn’t seem to show any real human sources (that I noticed), that the big process looked distinctly not human.

        Lastly, I don’t think the surface data show any sign of a loss of night time cooling.
        Look, I may not know down to my bones like you do that Co2 has to cause warming, I know in my head it should, I know enough about EM fields to accept it, but I have enough lab experience, I like looking at stuff myself, and I’m well qualified in simulators and large amounts of data, this I can do competently, and in NCDC’s data there’s no sign of it. There is lots of other really large disturbances in the data, so sure you can write a model of how you think surface temps will (have?) evolved from Co2, and get a line that goes up, but tomorrow morning will be on average about the same temp as tomorrow to normal measurements, the average derivative of max temps is +/-0.0F, temp have gone up (and down), but night time cooling went up(down) with it.

        This just shows why, which reminds me of your original comment

        it’s not so much being underwhelmed by the paper itself (I agree with JCH, Graeme Stephens seems to be a very good researcher and this seems to be an impressive piece of work) as being underwhelmed by what some appear to be concluding. As I see it, the work has measured the albedo very accurately and has shown that there is a North-South symmetry. I don’t think that one can really make any strong conclusions with regards to cloud feedbacks as they are expected to be small anyway. There does appear to be an issue with climate models not capturing this symmetry and that this may have implications for the hydrological cycle (if they’re not getting the right distribution of clouds, they’re unlikely to properly represent changes in precipitation). So, this is certainly interesting, but I don’t really see how it implies anything all that significant with respect to how our climate will respond to changes in anthropogenic forcings.

        I think there’s a lot in this paper that fits the data I have, and I see no reason CS is over ~1.1C, and from the surface data it seem it has to be lower still.

        A couple of Nasa GCM review papers, at least one discusses large differences in the hydrological cycle (rain patterns).
        http://icp.giss.nasa.gov/research/ppa/2001/mconk/
        http://icp.giss.nasa.gov/research/ppa/2002/mcgraw/

      • JC SNIP

        Impact of CO2 fertilization on maximum foliage cover across the globe’s warm, arid environments

        Geophysical Research Letters
        Volume 40, Issue 12, pages 3031–3035, 28 June 2013

        Satellite observations reveal a greening of the globe over recent decades. The role in this greening of the “CO2 fertilization” effect—the enhancement of photosynthesis due to rising CO2 levels—is yet to be established. The direct CO2 effect on vegetation should be most clearly expressed in warm, arid environments where water is the dominant limit to vegetation growth. Using gas exchange theory, we predict that the 14% increase in atmospheric CO2 (1982–2010) led to a 5 to 10% increase in green foliage cover in warm, arid environments. Satellite observations, analyzed to remove the effect of variations in precipitation, show that cover across these environments has increased by 11%. Our results confirm that the anticipated CO2 fertilization effect is occurring alongside ongoing anthropogenic perturbations to the carbon cycle and that the fertilization effect is now a significant land surface process.

      • …and Then There’s Physics

        My point is simply that if you add extra WV (over and above what the atmosphere can hold at a given RH) it will precipitate out in a period of days or weeks.

        As long as it stays under 95-100% RH it doesn’t have to go anywhere. As I mention in my previous post, this does happen on a nightly basis, and it resulting in a ~70% rel humidity my data say it is seems right.
        And I know this influences high time cooling, and it has a much larger impact than a couple watt’s from Co2. Water and clouds have a 10 or 20 times that effect on nightly cooling.

      • ATTP, thanks

      • We’ll get back to the meaning of ‘excess’ yet. Maybe it’ll take a flood or a drought.
        ============

      • Start in some steady state/equilibrium. Add more WV. The difference between what you have now and what you had at the beginning is the excess. It’s not complicated!

      • So now think CO2, that highly vibrationally clever, extremely diffusable, biologically utile, little critter.
        ==================

      • You’ve got to explain the decreasing percentage of our increasing emissions which is going into the atmosphere. The carbon is re-sequestering faster than expected. I suspect an enhanced biome, and Gaia only knows how that interacts with cloud formation.

        Take that with the increasingly apparent relatively low transient climate sensitivity, and you can call the whole catastrophe thing off. Unless sensitivity is high and man’s feeble efforts have prevented a further drop from the coolest depths of the Holocene.

        There’s physics, and then there’s everything else.
        ============

      • Danny Thomas

        Kim,

        Could you offer some suggested readings on this:”The carbon is re-sequestering faster than expected.”? I only have 7 windows open on my computer and that seems so uncluttered.

      • David in Tx,

        Wrong. Only half of anthropogenic emissions remain in the atmosphere each year. The earth’s carbon sinks grow in capacity every year. If the emissions were to suddenly the carbon sinks would not stop they’d start sucking it back out at the same rate it was added in the past, shrinking every year.

        Yes, that’s why I specifically said ocean/atmosphere/biosphere in my comment. Why not try reading what I actually write and thinking about it, rather than simply sucking something straight out of thin air?

        Too bad you don’t actually know any of the physics implied by your handle you farking dumba$$.

        Jeez, how do I respond to this without sinking down to your level? I don’t, I guess.

      • I’m trying to keep David in TX comments under control, not simple

      • ATTP, that paper regarding water vapor trends seems pretty old. I’m starting to think my reference is a little rusty and it is more recent than yours.

        New Tab

        As far as how water vapor can be increased through dynamics, just start moving the water around

        New Tab

      • Steven,

        ATTP, that paper regarding water vapor trends seems pretty old. I’m starting to think my reference is a little rusty and it is more recent than yours.

        Which reference?

      • Sorry, Danny, I don’t have a reference. It makes biological and physical sense theoretically and is observed in the greening of the biome. Why shouldn’t known carbon sequestering feedbacks be enhanced and why shouldn’t unknown sequestering feedbacks be recruited as CO2 rises?

        Questions, questions. One answer lies locked in all the sequestered carbonates and hydrocarbons.

        Again, the higher the sensitivity the colder we’d now be without man’s effort. If climate has a high sensitivity to AnthroCO2 then the colder we’d now be without it. If man is puissant in this, then we’ve only about the capability of forestalling a little ice age. The magnitude of man’s effect pales in comparison to the magnitude of the next natural cooling.
        ==================

      • Sorry, Danny, I don’t have a reference.

        Yes, I’m not surprised. If you actually did a bit of research, you might discover that the airborne fraction has stayed reasonably constant at about 43%. Hence about 57% has been absorbed by the oceans and biosphere. However, our emissions have been increasing and hence the amount going into the oceans and biosphere (per year) has been increasing even though the fraction has not (or, at least, seems to have not increased).

      • Danny Thomas

        ATTP,

        Do you have one? I really prefer to read the papers. Even here, I find the contrary nature of interest. Kim’s comment makes sense in the increase in biomass. I’m not aware of research other than relates to increasing Ag production, but that might have to do with GM’s also. Since your offering indicates specific percentages I’d appreciate the references as always. I’m a relative rookie at this and trying to formulate a foundation. Thanks.

      • Steven and ATTP, there is also this recent one.

        Upper Tropospheric Moistening in response to Anthropogenic Warming
        http://www.pnas.org/content/111/32/11636

      • Danny Thomas

        Joseph,

        Thanks for the link. Noticed in the abstract it covers from 1979-2005 but was published in 2014. Will need to read in depth, but if you run across anything more up to date I’d appreciate the reference.

      • > I’m trying to keep David in TX comments under control, not simple

        Ask Brandon. He uses a WP plugin for that.

        Better: pay him. He needs the money, and you seem to have some.

      • As far as airborne fraction is concerned, this paper suggests that it hasn’t really changed much since 1850.

      • Danny Thomas

        ATTP,
        Interesting. Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out.

      • blueice2hotsea

        “If you do the infinite sum, you would get a total warming of between 2-3K” – ATTP

        The sum of 0.5^-N as N goes from 0 to infinity is 2, not “between 2-3”. C’mon. Wakeup Zeno. Strike One.

        kim – ”The carbon is re-sequestering faster than expected.”
        kim – “Sorry, Danny, I don’t have a reference.”
        ATTP –“Yes [kim], I’m not surprised. If you actually did a bit of research, blah, blah, blah.”
        ————————————————————-
        Wolfgang Knorr, 2009

        Despite the predictions of coupled climate-carbon cycle models, no trend in the airborne fraction can be found.

        kim is correct, the models predicted increasing airborne fraction. Strike Two.

        From what we understand about the underlying processes, uptake of atmospheric CO2 should react not to a change in emissions, but to a change in concentrations.

        hmmm, the uptake rate is a function of concentration, not emissions. So David in Tx also appears to be correct when he says: “If the emissions were to suddenly [drop] the carbon sinks would not stop they’d start sucking it back out at the same rate it was added in the past, shrinking every year … you farking dumba$$”

        Strike Three.

      • The sum of 0.5^-N as N goes from 0 to infinity is 2, not “between 2-3″. C’mon. Wakeup Zeno. Strike One.

        Yes, the sum 1/(1-f) with f = 0.5 is indeed 2. However, I used the word “about” for a reason. Also, if the feedback response is 2W/m^2/K^1 then the feedback fraction is 2/3.7 which is bigger than 0.5 and hence the ECS would be bigger than 2.

        kim is correct, the models predicted increasing airborne fraction. Strike Two.

        So what? I didn’t say anything about models. I actually pointed out that there is little evidence that the airborne fraction has actually increased.

        So David in Tx also appears to be correct when he says: “If the emissions were to suddenly [drop] the carbon sinks would not stop they’d start sucking it back out at the same rate it was added in the past, shrinking every year … you farking dumba$$”

        Strike Three.

        Well, I’m starting to assume that you’re as unpleasant as David in Tx, but – even so – so what if David in Tx is correct, since his response was a strawman. Arguing against something I didn’t actually say is both stupid and irritating. However, I don’t think that it will be sucked out at the same rate at which it was added. It will certainly drop if we were to suddenly stop emissions, but it would still take many centuries to return to pre-industrial levels.

        Why not try reading what I actually write, rather than what you think I wrote or what you hope I wrote. I can’t defend arguments I didn’t actually make.

      • blueice2hotsea

        You struck out. Now you’re arguing balls and strikes. EJECTED!!

        btw. your response to kim was far more unpleasant anything david said to you. I think you need to learn the meaning of the word opps. And then use it as necessary.

      • You struck out. Now you’re arguing balls and strikes. EJECTED!!

        Sorry, not interested in defending your strawmen. If you can’t read and understand what people are actually saying, maybe you should avoid engaging in complex discussions?

        btw. your response to kim was far more unpleasant anything david said to you. I think you need to learn the meaning of the word opps. And then use it as necessary.

        Well, I can see why someone as unpleasant as you appear to be would object to people pointing such things out. Truth hurts?

        Anyway, as usual, I’ve been dragged into an entirely pointless discussion with somone I’d be better off ignoring. One day, maybe I’ll learn my lesson.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Well, I can see why someone as unpleasant as you appear to be would object to people pointing such things out. Truth hurts?

        Speaking of unpleasant, it’s time for you to hit the showers. Kicking more dirt on the ref could earn you a suspension.

        Changing the subject off you briefly, I find it interesting that the albedo has hemispherical symmetry, yet the Earth’s sensitivity is asymmetrical wrt hemisphere. It is roughly roughly proportional to non-green land fraction by latitude (Camp & Tung). but ~ 15S has lowest sensitivity, with a comparable land fraction to 15N some 7 times higher sensitivity. Any references that explain the sensitivity profile by latitude?

      • I’m not sure who is this chicken and who is the egg in this rather pointless and unpleasant exchange, but I will be moderating closely for the next while and will just start deleting comments as they come in

      • blueice2hotsea

        Opps. :) “(Camp & tung)” should come at the end of one sentence up that ends with “hemisphere”.

      • blueice2hotsea

        I have made a mistake with my unpleasant ATTP exchanges. Feel free to delete my comments as necessary. Thanks.

      • On the Global Warming Potential of Water Vapor (Wikipedia) (bottom line: “its GWP is therefore difficult to calculate”):
        “Water vapour has a profound infrared absorption spectrum with more and broader absorption bands than CO2, and also absorbs non-zero amounts of radiation in its low absorbing spectral regions,[15] (see greenhouse gas (GHG)), its GWP is therefore difficult to calculate. Further, its concentration in the atmosphere depends on air temperature and water availability; using a global average temperature of ~16°C, for example, creates an average humidity of ~18,000ppm at sea level (CO2 is ~400ppm[16] and so concentrations of [H2O]/[CO2] ~ 45x). Another issue with calculating GWP is that, unlike other GHG, water vapor does not decay in the environment, so an average over some time period or some other measure consistent with “time dependent decay,” q.v., above, must be used in lieu of the time dependent decay of artificial or excess CO2, molecules. Other factors complicating its calculation are the Earth’s temperature distribution, and the differing land masses in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global-warming_potential#Water_vapour
        I post this in reference to the long thread around Water Vapor in the previous CE post. After re-reading the debate between And Then There’s Physics, MiCro & others, I wondered whether a number is put on water vapor, and so found the above Wikipedia entry… which seems to trail off into vagueness. Interestingly, the entry does not evoke the precipitating vs. non-precipitating distinction.

        Isn’t the real meaning of this distinction, re: climate change, that water vapor is non-accumulating? It must precipitate out of the air at max humidity. Whereas CO2 or methane can keep accumulating. But as various commenters have pointed out, the “hydrological cycle” doesn’t go away.
        So is that good enough reason to discount its radiative effects for the sake of foregrounding those of CO2? Seems like some legalistic distinction-making to me.

      • It is why CO2 controls the temperature and water vapor merely responds to it. It is a critical difference that water is self-limited by condensation while CO2 is not. These limits mean that CO2 far outnumbers H2O in the colder parts of the atmosphere including the stratosphere, which partially restricts the earth’s radiation to space, and governs the global temperature that way.

      • Danny Thomas

        JIM D,
        Does H20 have no impact on incoming radiation at any levels of RH? It obviously does as a cloud.

      • Danny Thomas, of course H2O has an effect both as a gas and as a cloud. If you warm the atmosphere you get a up to 6% increase in H2O molecules per degree which is a significant positive feedback. Less clear is which direction clouds would go, but most consider what there is of it to be positive too but of much smaller magnitude. You also have a surface albedo (snow/ice) effect which is clearly positive, so its adds up. Clouds are unlikely to even cancel the surface albedo feedback effect, let alone the larger water vapor part.

      • Danny Thomas

        JimD,
        Thanks. That’s not what I thought you were saying in your response to Rhyzotika. For this:”Clouds are unlikely to even cancel the surface albedo feedback effect”, I’m not sure we know that yet and it depends on the cloud type, but I can see why you’d say unlikely. I’m might have chosen uncertain.

      • The surface albedo feedback helps to explain the large temperature swings in the Ice Ages. Clouds did not show up to stop these, so there is no reason to believe that now clouds will suddenly show up in feedbacks. The previous answer was just the physics of why water vapor responds to rather than controls the temperature. If you are looking for why the climate was so much warmer 50 million years ago, you would not look at the high water vapor amounts as a sole cause, rather a feedback effect on a different fundamental cause, perhaps CO2 levels near 1000 ppm. Also clouds didn’t stop that happening either, so there isn’t much evidence in paleo to support any negative feedbacks being much of a factor against the positive water vapor and surface albedo.

      • Danny Thomas

        JimD,
        I was considering the response issue. Here’s my thinking. As temps. increase WV increases as a cooling mechanism. My impression is our planet has been constrained within a range of temperatures, but in some fashion it reacts to higher temps. leading to cooling cycles and once it “bottoms out” on the cool side humidities drop and warming begins (long time frames). The cloud type and levels change and I’d venture to say we don’t have a complete understanding of what that is in reaction to. Since our planet does not know from where the temperature changes originate, only that it does, it seems to modify responses and we are as yet unaware of the triggers for those compensations. From most of my reading thus far albedo itself averages +/-30% (seen as high as 32-33%) but I’m not aware of how much is clouds vs. ice vs. land vs. veg. vs. WV. I see where there are variations in the reflective values depending on the “type” of albedo, but the averages remain approx. the same. So if ice (higher albedo) is melting, might clouds modify to offset? (by type, altitude, or quantity)?

      • Danny Thomas, there isn’t much evidence of moderation in paleoclimate. The temperature ranges up to 10 C either side of where we are now. We are fortunate that CO2 levels such as now give us a temperate climate, and we evolved with these levels staying below 400 ppm. There were only geological processes that seemed to drive CO2 up and down on much longer time scales – until we came along. So the steady state you see is an illusion of constant CO2 in a relatively short time window of earth’s history.

      • Danny Thomas

        JimD,
        I’m not referring to a CO2 specific scenario. I’m referring to any source of higher/lower temps and the possible “albedoic” (new word?) responses. Guessing I’m not being clear, but not sure how else to say it.

        You say there’s not much evidence, does that mean either way? How, prior to recent history, have clouds types/area/altitude been measured?

      • Danny, as I mentioned, the only albedo feedback we have solid evidence of so far is the strongly positive one between the Ice Ages and interglacials. I would not rely on albedo being your friend given that.

      • Danny Thomas

        JimD,
        I’m still not clear on that thinking. We’ve been warming since approx. 1700, veg./ice/all the other albedos have been transitioning during this time yet the “overall” albedo has averaged near 30% with the most rapid one having to be clouds. I’m not advocating that it will jump some 20% higher and “save us” from CO2, I’m just discussing that it seems to keep us near that value (30%) for as long as I’ve been able to find discussion on it. So there is some response (not verified, but theorized) wouldn’t it be safe to say?

      • If you just consider the global natural clouds and forget about pollution and volcanoes, there is no reason to believe those would change in any systematic way. There are so many types of clouds, why would they conspire in one direction or another, and the evidence of near-constant albedo says they don’t. The only observable factors on albedo seem to be pollution and volcanoes with the relatively constant clouds taking a back seat.

      • Danny Thomas

        JimD,

        Then with all the other variables, why would the average albedo be 30% inclusive of volcanos, dust particulates,ice, etc. during the span of the “consistent” understanding of that average? This very paper shows a listing of references dating back to the early 1900’s (see table 1) and they as well as this paper all support that +/- 30% value. I’m not understanding why you don’t think clouds are a variable that equillibrates amongst all the other variables. What other process would be the “balancer”? Especially based on the NH/SH balancing act proposed by the authors. Gotta work tomorrow so will look for your answer in the a.m.

      • Danny, just like global temperatures, the global albedo changes a lot day to day or season to season, but averaged over longer periods of years it becomes very steady. Volcanoes affect it for longer terms of more than a year. As pollution increased resulting in global dimming in the 60’s albedo was increased too. Now China may be increasing the albedo along with some other developing nations. It is not steady, but long-term changes are understandable in terms of pollution and volcanoes. These effects are seen in the temperature.

      • Danny Thomas

        JimD,
        Guess we’re not speaking the same language:”Volcanoes affect it for longer terms of more than a year. As pollution increased resulting in global dimming in the 60’s albedo was increased too.” This is exactly what I’m suggesting and you’ve offered some reading directions. Thanks

      • They way I interpret what the authors are saying is the NH has more land, the SH more oceans. The present configuration of continents and oceans has been around for a very long time, and the earth’s albedo has been ~.293. So if volcanos, lack of or too many, are pushing if off .293, SH clouds quickly, quite quickly, adjust and drag it back.

        I think izen’s question is very interesting one.

      • @rhyzotika: Isn’t the real meaning of this distinction, re: climate change, that water vapor is non-accumulating? It must precipitate out of the air at max humidity.

        With water vapor, precipitation and radiative forcing depend respectively on relative and absolute humidity. Hence for a given level of “tendency to precipitate out”, there is more water vapor at high temperatures than low, and hence respectively more and less radiative forcing.

        So as CO2 raises the temperature, the rising temperature increases the atmosphere’s capacity for unprecipitated water vapor. Hence in the absence of any precipitation a hotter atmosphere can hold more water vapor, increasing the radiative forcing.

        Put more simply, on a clear day hotter air can trap more heat because it can hold more unprecipitated water vapor.

      • That’s the theory, Vaughn, but it doesn’t seem to be happening in practice, so how come? It may lie in the failure of humidity to keep up, or it may lie in phase changes.

        That brings up a quandary, though. How can relatively drier be relatively cloudier? Hmmmm.
        ==========

  76. Pingback: The Albedo Of The Earth | Transterrestrial Musings

  77. Setting the record straight

    Milankovitch Cycles are on balance more favorable for glaciation today in contrast to 10,000 years ago when perihelion occurred during the N.H. summer and obliquity of the earth’s axis was greater while the eccentricity of the orbit was essentially the same.

    By no means is the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit the most important item in the determination of glaciation cycles initiated by Milankovitch Cycles. The historical record shows glaciations corresponded for the most part to periods of declining obliquity rather then increased eccentricity. Only the last 800000 years have shown glaciation cycles seemingly being more linked to eccentricity.
    Regardless the point is for the past 10,000 years Milankovitch Cycles have gone from favoring extreme warmth to now a cooler climate. Not an out right ice age but a cooler climate as opposed to 10000 years ago.

  78. NOTE :Albedo rises during the past 2 million years corresponding to glaciation.

  79. “An important new paper finds that the albedo of Earth is highly regulated, mostly by clouds, with some surprising consequences.”
    As can be seen by the very constant maxima of the temperature in the interglacial, if this is the effect of cloud formation it is so massive that it completely stops further increase in temperature – and with no ability for the atmosphere to hold additional water vapour, there is no additional H2O induced greenhouse warming. In addition if this “buffer” is caused by a rapid increase in cloud cover, this stops incoming radiation. Together these two feedbacks effectively prevent any further warming during interglacials.
    http://scottishsceptic.co.uk/2015/02/09/toward-a-new-theory-of-ice-ages-vii-hitting-the-buffers/

  80. Judith Curry:- “The results of this paper also have interesting implications for ice ages, whereby the forcing that is predominant in one hemisphere is felt in the other.”

    If you haven’t read my 15 blogs on the ice age (and let’s be honest it’s a lot), you won’t know that I am suggesting that a major cause of the ice-ages is a drying of the climate and a reduction in atmospheric H2O.

    I’m suggesting that this provides much of the positive feedbacks that take us out of a glacial period. (triggered by crustal expansion/Milankovitch).

    However, I then suggest that the atmosphere effectively reaches saturation and this provides massive positive feedbacks.

    However, if this is correct, the regime of cloud feedbacks will only operate in the interglacial.

    Overview: http://scottishsceptic.co.uk/2015/02/15/toward-a-new-theory-of-ice-ages-xiv-putting-it-all-together/

    • @S.S.
      Changes in Earth’s TOA insolation from orbital cycles are reliable calculated. They do not significantly change TOA insolation for the whole globe, but only change one hemisphere at a time. When one hemisphere cools, the other warms. Yet the SH experiences increased glaciation when the NH is glaciated and the globe cools, as it did ~20 kyr ago. Glaciation and global cooling does NOT occur when the SH receives minimum insolation, such as ~9 kyr ago. WHY? The answer has to include some rejection of total heat by Earth when the NH glaciates. How? One apparent answer is greater albedo. Albedo from the glaciated NH is not sufficient. The SH receiving greater insolation during these times is a logical major factor.

      • Thanks. What I’ve proposed here ( http://scottishsceptic.co.uk/2015/02/15/toward-a-new-theory-of-ice-ages-xiv-putting-it-all-together/) is that milankovitch cycles trigger “runaway warming” until it is stopped by some mechanism like cloud formation as the atmosphere saturates (obvious not all at once).

        Given the timescale, it is also likely that crustal thermal expansion plays a part in that process – at least in the initial triggering. And therefore subducted material and presumably liberation of gas are involved in runaway warming – until the “big stop”.

        However, whether you agree with that, one of the key things is that the climate is drier in the glacial periods as shown by increasing dust levels increase. So, there will be less water vapour in the air from which to produce clouds.

        On the specific issue of why the North is sensitive. Again you’d have to read the article (how CO2 warms the climate will be the article), but in summary – plants produce water vapour – and therefore the drier climate and consequent increased water vapour is likely to be as a result of land-based plants. And if this is the mechanism, then the much bigger landmass in the north would be more sensitive

  81. PhysicsGroup

    EXPERIMENT with CENTRIFUGE MACHINE REFUTES the RADIATIVE GREENHOUSE HYPOTHESIS

    This experiment (written up only last year) is a real breakthrough because it proves that a force field like centrifugal force or gravity does in fact create a temperature gradient at the molecular level, cooling at the top where potential energy is greatest.

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics is all about entropy maximization, and that is achieved when the sum of mean molecular kinetic energy and gravitational potential energy is homogeneous at all altitudes. This explains the temperature gradient, not back radiation and the assumption of isothermal temperatures by greenhouse advocates is wrong. This is now proven empirically in this centrifuge machine and also in the vortex cooling machine which works on the same principle.

  82. Danny Thomas

    From the paper. Pg. 17, para.2 last sentence:”According
    to this comparison, the CMIP5-modeled albedos are consistently higher (by almost 10%) than the CERES values during the boreal summer months (Figure 11a) and this bias has persisted from CMIP3 [Bender et al., 2006].

    Then page 20 (middle last para):”A high model bias of albedo has also
    persisted since the time of CMIP3, mostly during the boreal summer season”
    Shouldn’t this have led to the models running warmer?

  83. “This paper implies the presence of a stabilizing feedback between atmosphere/ocean circulations, clouds and radiation. Climate models do not capture this stabilizing feedback”

    That stabilising feedback is the mechanism whereby surface temperature is kept stable regardless of changes in the radiative capability (or any other thermal characteristic) of the atmospheric gases.

    It is convection up and down that maintains the balance between radiation into and out of the earth system by constantly adjusting the proportion of radiation out to space that leaves from the surface and the proportion that leaves from within the atmosp[here. If one rises the other falls and vice versa.

    The presence of clouds makes that convective adjustment process much easier than it would be without them and so convection up and down need be less vigorous in the presence of clouds.

    In view of that stabilising feedback it is necessary to find some cause for climate changes other than changes in atmospheric composition.

    That is where my hypotheisis comes in:

    http://joannenova.com.au/2015/01/is-the-sun-driving-ozone-and-changing-the-climate/

    The solar induced process that I describe (and which fits recent observations better than does standard climtology) alters global albedo by changing cloudiness and thus mimics the effect of a change in solar input which is therefore capable of changing surface temperature despite the said stabilising feedback observed in this paper.

    • “it is necessary to find some cause for climate changes other than changes in atmospheric composition.”
      It is the decadal stable reorganization of ocean warm/cold spots, every time they change the feedback has to realign to the conditions.

      • Mi Cro,

        First one needs to create the need for such reorganisation on multidecadal and centennial time scales.

        That is where the solar effects on cloudiness come in.

      • Stephen Wilde commented

        First one needs to create the need for such reorganisation on multidecadal and centennial time scales.
        That is where the solar effects on cloudiness come in.

        The Sun provides all of the input power, and the clouds regulate how much of the power is allowed into the system.
        But the self organization of the oceans into decadal states has multiple requirements, currents, wind patterns, air pressures, all of these are needed.

        The planet, using water and water vapor regulates it’s temperature like a voltage regulator regulates voltage.

  84. In the abstract for the paper this is mentioned;

    ‘We also show that current climate models lack this same degree of hemispheric symmetry and regulation by clouds.’

    Up-thread I posed a question about the value of the new Met Office supercomputer in possibly determining things we don’t currently know.

    We all know Rumsfeld’s quote, which often seems to me to be a good reflection of the current level of knowledge of climate science.

    ‘There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.’

    So, I am afraid I am going to use some question marks here, but the paper raises several questions that need answering, as it seems to me to me that clouds are one of those known unknowns or possibly even an unknown unknown.

    Firstly: will the Met Office supercomputer be able to meaningfully interpret the role of clouds within the evolving total weather system, bearing in mind the complex cycles within cycles that also appear to be present?
    .
    This leads on to a second question which is; Do those existing models from less powerful computers currently simulate the earths climate in a meaningful enough or ‘accurate’ way to be useful to those setting policy?

    For those that don’t like questions, alternative programming is available on other internet channels.

    tonyb

    • Firstly: will the Met Office supercomputer be able to meaningfully interpret the role of clouds within the evolving total weather system, bearing in mind the complex cycles within cycles that also appear to be present?

      No. As currently used, computer “models” simply take a bunch of simplistic parametrizations that purport to describe how individual “cells” many kilometers across behave, and work out how those toy models interact on a global scale.

      The current approach, based on creating a computerized model of every interacting particle, would have to drill down to the scale of an individual water droplet or aerosol particle before it would have any realistic chance actually replicating the behavior of the global system.

      For any “science” of climate to actually fit the more rigorous expectations, based on chemistry or physics for instance, a new semantic paradigm is required. Pending that, bigger computers are just a distraction.

      Do those existing models from less powerful computers currently simulate the earths climate in a meaningful enough or ‘accurate’ way to be useful to those setting policy?

      Yes. Like reading the future from entrails, they produce opaque patterns that can be interpreted in various ways to justify rationalize the policy agendas of the interpreters.

      • Flights of birds are much more susceptible to imaginative interpretations, but the narrative power of entrails was much enhanced by the symbolic meanings and the visual and aural displays during the sacrificing of the gut holder.
        ==================

      • AK

        Thank you for a straightforward and comprehensible answer.

        tonyb

      • @tonyb…

        You’re welcome. I suspect that some of those accusing you of bad faith think your questions are rhetorical, pointing to an answer like mine. Of course, If I asked those questions, they would be rhetorical, although in a venue like this one it would probably just confuse most readers, who haven’t read my comments all along.

      • > I suspect that some of those accusing you of bad faith think your questions are rhetorical, pointing to an answer like mine.

        Since nobody so far accused TonyB of bad faith, it’s hard to verify that suspicion. Neither can we see any accusation the TonyB’s questions were rhetorical. Two strawmen in one sentence may not be the best way to argue after Judy put sophistry on the table.

        Moshpit answers TonyB’s technical question and gets ignored. TonyB thanks AK after the latter pushed his own peanut. This argues in favor of leading questions.

        ***

        I doubt that:

        The current approach, based on creating a computerized model of every interacting particle, would have to drill down to the scale of an individual water droplet or aerosol particle before it would have any realistic chance actually replicating the behavior of the global system.

        can be substantiated, considering that there are more possible games of Chess than there are atoms in the universe, there are a bit more water droplets in the hydrological system than there can be pieces on a chessboard.

        Also, the notion of paradigm is epistemological, not semantical, so the claim that we’d need a paradigm shift in semantics would deserve some clarification.

      • Steven Mosher

        wrong.
        as I pointed out above the MET has been experimenting with a 1.4km grid, although they cannot run it as rapidily as they like. at this scale they will be able to improve things like flood warnings. The new system will allow them to run in this mode faster.

        The true test of whether it is worthwhile will not come from your comments. it will come from users like Judith and users like me.

        right now I am using GFS 10 day forecasts. within a few months I will be able to quantify the benefit of it to the company bottom line. Then of course I will compare it to the products from the MET which are not free.

        For my business a forecast doesnt need to be perfect. I need them to predict one and only variable better than a statistical model. if they can do that it could be worth millions in my problem space.

      • I doubt that: […] can be substantiated, considering that there are more possible games of Chess than there are atoms in the universe, there are a bit more water droplets in the hydrological system than there can be pieces on a chessboard.

        “Look! A squirrel!”

      • Ak writes, “The current approach, based on creating a computerized model of every interacting particle, would have to drill down to the scale of an individual water droplet or aerosol particle before it would have any realistic chance actually replicating the behavior of the global system.”

        Actually, it doesn’t matter how small the scale. According to chaos theory, the difference between states can be arbitrarily small and yet the difference between future states, as the dynamical system evolves over time, can be large. So, using ever more powerful, and expensive, hardware to get a more precise prediction based on a more precise initial state is a fool’s errand. Personally, I’m ok with that, as long as they don’t spend public money or money that has avoided taxation, via donations to NGOs that are defacto political, to finance those fool’s errands.

        A view of the earth from space shows ocean currents and eddies that look just like an image out of Mandelbrot’s book – scale invariant and turbulent.

      • Also, the notion of paradigm is epistemological, not semantical, so the claim that we’d need a paradigm shift in semantics would deserve some clarification.

        From Wiki

        Semantics (from Ancient Greek: σημαντικός sēmantikós, “significant”)[1][2] is the study of meaning. It focuses on the relation between signifiers, like words, phrases, signs, and symbols, and what they stand for; their denotation. Linguistic semantics is the study of meaning that is used for understanding human expression through language.

        For instance, in Newtonian physics, “mass” meant some invariant, a property of certain classes of object/substance. With special relativity, the meaning of the word, and mathematical constructions using it, changed. (There were now two different types of mass.) Any paradigm is really a semantic construction.

        Knowledge is of no value without a clear definition of what the statements purportedly known mean.

        Oh and BTW, I didn’t say “paradigm shift in semantics”, I said “new semantic paradigm”. New terms, with new meanings, describing referents currently not part of climate science.

      • Instead of correcting his two strawmen or clarifying his notion of semantic paradigm, AK evades my argument regarding a simple fact of complexity theory by invoking “look, squirrels!” This fact his quite relevant to AK’s claim about a model of every interacting particle:

        The size of the state space and game tree for chess were first estimated in Claude Shannon (1950). “Programming a Computer for Playing Chess”. Philosophical Magazine 41 (314). Shannon gave estimates of 10^43 and 10^120 respectively, smaller than the upper bound in the table, which is detailed in Shannon number.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_complexity

        (In Hamming’s conference cited above, there’s an interesting anecdote about the chess playing style of Claude Shannon.)

        Modelling the interaction of every single interacting particle may not be possible within the bounds of our multiverse. AK’s squirrel claim is therefore invalid, just like his first two strawmen.

        But yeah, AK’s answer was TonyB’s seal of approval.

      • Modelling the interaction of every single interacting particle may not be possible within the bounds of our multiverse.

        “Look! Another squirrel!”

        I never said it was possible. In fact, I was offering a reductio ad absurdum.

      • > I was offering a reductio ad absurdum.

        It was absurd quite alright. Nevertheless my argument stands, and AK’s squirrels are inexistent. (The concept of inexistence may prove useful later on, in the response I owe you, Ordvic.)

        This reductio only refutes the claim that climate models ought to model every single interaction between particles. Unless we can show that climate models are powered up to meet that requirement, say by showing that the MET Office is looking to do so, or that this requirement would be somehow conceptually compulsory, AK’s reductio fizzles, which means it would in fact be a caricature.

        Two strawmen, one caricature, and two inexistent squirrels. AK must surely be joking.

        A great day in ClimateBall.

      • This reductio only refutes the claim that climate models ought to model every single interaction between particles.

        No it doesn’t. And I never made that claim. I said that it would be necessary to make the current paradigm work (which is why it won’t).

      • > I never made that claim. I said that it would be necessary to make the current paradigm work (which is why it won’t).

        That AK never made the claim that climate models ought to model every single interaction between particles is irrelevant if he “only said” that the claim is necessary to make the paradigm work. Talk about squirrels.

        What AK calls the “current paradigm” requires that we go against everything we know about computational complexity. The most plausible explanation of that fsct is that AK caricatures climate modeling.

        AK has yet to clarify what he means by semantic paradigm.

      • AK has yet to clarify what he means by semantic paradigm.

        Willard’s just trying to waste other people’s time.

      • Willard

        ‘Instead of correcting his two strawmen or clarifying his notion of semantic paradigm, AK evades my argument regarding a simple fact of complexity theory by invoking “look, squirrels!”

        Respectfully, IMHO, it appears that AK’s “every interacting particle” statement was hyperbole, a lead-in to his statement regarding a new paradigm. His view, I believe, is that the new paradigm may significantly alter computer requirements; that we must know the paradigm before knowing the requirements. Also, I (even I) understood his explanation of “semantic paradigm”.

        AK, Please foregive me for stepping in.

        Richard

      • RichardLS,

        AK has not provided any explanation of “semantic paradigm.” Instead of stuffing strawmen, pointing at inexistent squirrels, and throwing some more in my direction, time may have been better invested in giving just that.

        Not that I mind creative sophistry. That AK’s hyperbolic mockery, followed by shadowboxing, ends up in “stop wasting my time” celebrates the spirit of ClimateBall ™.

        “Yes, but semantic paradigm” has its share of problems: semantics is a formal field; computer modelling is also a formal discipline; the very idea of a conceptual scheme is still problematic:

        http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3129898?sid=21106098869523

        Due diligence,

        W

      • @rls…

        […] it appears that AK’s “every interacting particle” statement was hyperbole, a lead-in to his statement regarding a new paradigm.

        I don’t think so. As far as I can tell, the current paradigm depends on modelling toy units consisting of a “parcel” or region of atmosphere, describing it by means of a “state” that represents the sum of the state of the various particles within it. The behavior of the “parcel” itself, then, is described by a set of parametrizations, whose relationship with reality is assumed without warrant. Until the size of such parcel becomes so small that its “state” can be described by a list of larger items such as droplets or aerosol particles, each with its associated state, the overall model is just a bunch of toys with a bunch of relationships with no demonstrated relationship with the real world.

        AFAIK there’s a size limit where the viscosity of the fluid (air/water) becomes large WRT the momentum of the fluid or contained particles. At this point, there will be little or no internal turbulence, and the “state” of a “parcel” smaller than that size will be describable by a set of vectors, and a list of particles of droplet/aerosol size.

        Whether or not a model based on the current paradigm with such “parcel” size could demonstrably replicate the behavior of the real world I don’t know, but AFAIK as long as the “parcel” size is much larger than that limit, it can’t.

        The behavior of each parcel has to be described by a set of parametrizations, and AFAIK their number is so high that any model could be tuned to follow any set of past observations, in more different ways than the total number of possible chess matches (to use a recent, diversionary, analogy).

        This leaves us with no good reason to suppose that future behavior of any such model will in any way replicate reality just because past behavior does.

        Also, I (even I) understood his explanation of “semantic paradigm”.

        It was intended to be clearly understandable by anybody not looking for an excuse to claim non-understanding. I’m glad it worked.

        AK, Please foregive me for stepping in.

        Feel free. I’m interested in discussing the subject with anybody not engaging in dishonest (pseudo-)sophistry.

      • > Until the size of such parcel becomes so small that its “state” can be described by a list of larger items such as droplets or aerosol particles, each with its associated state, the overall model is just a bunch of toys with a bunch of relationships with no demonstrated relationship with the real world.

        Yet, when facing the argument that his requirement goes against complexity theory, AK said that this argument was a reductio ad absurdum. Actual models are quite complex, but they’re just a bunch of toys — let’s require something on a scale of complexity that defies the size of our universe and the relevant computations for many lifetimes.

        All we need is a paradigm shift or something. Let’s try a montage:

        304 cities. 2.3 x 10^624. 24 two-opt swaps.

        BOOM. Droplets.

      • Yet, when facing the argument that his requirement goes against complexity theory, AK said that this argument was a reductio ad absurdum.

        Nothing I said “goes against complexity theory”. Just the opposite. Complexity theory isn’t about the number of possible chess games, or the number of possible model runs. What I said was that, in order to apply the current paradigm in a way that might actually be demonstrated to have some relationship to reality, it would be necessary to compute at such a scale that we’d reach the heat death of the universe before the first model run was complete. Probably by many orders of magnitude.

        Thus, a clear demonstration of the absurdity of the current paradigm.

      • > Complexity theory isn’t about the number of possible chess games, or the number of possible model runs.

        No wonder this paradigm this and paradigm that:

        Computational complexity theory is a branch of the theory of computation in theoretical computer science and mathematics that focuses on classifying computational problems according to their inherent difficulty, and relating those classes to each other. A computational problem is understood to be a task that is in principle amenable to being solved by a computer, which is equivalent to stating that the problem may be solved by mechanical application of mathematical steps, such as an algorithm.

        A problem is regarded as inherently difficult if its solution requires significant resources, whatever the algorithm used. The theory formalizes this intuition, by introducing mathematical models of computation to study these problems and quantifying the amount of resources needed to solve them, such as time and storage. Other complexity measures are also used, such as the amount of communication (used in communication complexity), the number of gates in a circuit (used in circuit complexity) and the number of processors (used in parallel computing). One of the roles of computational complexity theory is to determine the practical limits on what computers can and cannot do.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computational_complexity_theory

        The MET Office’s Unified Model works in grid cells, each of which are kilometers wide:

        http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/modelling-systems/unified-model/weather-forecasting

        Depending on the dataset used, runs can take days, weeks, or months. Bilions upon bilions of computations.

        AK requires droplets.

        That’s a very big number of droplets.

        That new paradigm will have to break new grounds in complexity theory.

      • Computational complexity theory is a branch of the theory of computation in theoretical computer science and mathematics that focuses on classifying computational problems according to their inherent difficulty,

        “Look! Yet another squirrel!” Let’s look at some more quotes from Wiki

        Complexity theory may refer to:

        •   The study of a complex system or complex systems

        •   Complexity theory and organizations, the application of complexity theory to strategy

        •   Complexity economics, the application of complexity theory to economics

        •   Complex adaptive system, special case of complex systems

        •   Chaos theory, the study of the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions

        •   Computational complexity theory, a field in theoretical computer science and mathematics

        •   Algorithmic information theory

        Thus, we see that Willard’s squirrel is only one out of six possible referents for “complexity theory”.

        Three of those possible referents have to do with complex systems

        Complex systems present problems both in mathematical modelling and philosophical foundations. The study of complex systems represents a new approach to science that investigates how relationships between parts give rise to the collective behaviors of a system and how the system interacts and forms relationships with its environment.[1]

        The equations from which models of complex systems are developed generally derive from statistical physics, information theory and non-linear dynamics and represent organized but unpredictable behaviors of natural systems that are considered fundamentally complex. The physical manifestations of such systems are difficult to define, so a common choice is to identify “the system” with the mathematical information model rather than referring to the undefined physical subject the model represents. One of a variety of journals using this approach to complexity is Complex Systems.

        Such systems are used to model processes in computer science, biology,[2] economics, physics, chemistry,[3] and many other fields. It is also called complex systems theory, complexity science, study of complex systems, sciences of complexity, non-equilibrium physics, and historical physics. A variety of abstract theoretical complex systems is studied as a field of mathematics.

        The key problems of complex systems are difficulties with their formal modelling and simulation. From such a perspective, in different research contexts complex systems are defined on the basis of their different attributes. Since all complex systems have many interconnected components, the science of networks and network theory are important aspects of the study of complex systems. A consensus regarding a single universal definition of complex system does not yet exist.

      • AK requires droplets.

        Nope. I’m pointing out that the current paradigm “requires droplets.

        That new paradigm will have to break new grounds in complexity theory.

        Exactly! It’s going to have to come up with new concepts: a new semantic structure with terms and grammars describing abstract elements that are currently not part of climate science. The elements of the “Stadium Wave” are an example of what such new concepts might look like. (And might not, also.) Another element I suspect is exemplary is the Himalaya/Tibetan Plateau complex, along with its effect on the Asian Monsoon. Also the Andean Cordillera. And perhaps the high-relief sea-bottom complex of the Eastern Pacific and South China Sea.

      • > Thus, we see that Willard’s squirrel is only one out of six possible referents for “complexity theory”.

        AK’s argument is about computer models.

        Computers are used for computational processes.

        These computational processes take time and space.

        Requiring models to “drill down to the scale of an individual water droplet or aerosol particle” is simply absurd: it may not be possible to do so within the limits of this universe.

      • > It’s going to have to come up with new concepts: a new semantic structure with terms and grammars describing abstract elements that are currently not part of climate science.

        New terms are needed when there’s something new to express. It goes from epistemology to semantics, not the other way around. One can even say that it’s the whole point of speaking of paradigms.

        Shuffling around concepts won’t help against theorical limits that prevent us from computing at the droplet level.

      • More squirrels.

      • Ak writes, “The current approach, based on creating a computerized model of every interacting particle, would have to drill down to the scale of an individual water droplet or aerosol particle before it would have any realistic chance actually replicating the behavior of the global system.”

        Ludwig Boltzmann shoots self a century ago in face of the power of Ak’s argument.

    • Tony,
      it has been noticed, but taking it into account seems to amount to guesswork at the moment:

      http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/0/j/MOSAC_2014_19.7_Milton.pdf
      (page 8)

      =========================

      As far as questions, for me, the observation that the hemispheres have equal albedo raises lots of them.

      Is it caused by something? or is it simply statistically probable given the size of the sample? Is it the same for any randomly selected area compromising half the globe? Must the hemispheres be in balance? Are they always? What would happen if they weren’t? (what is the greatest possible variance?) Does an event, such as a very large volcano in one hemisphere, cause a reaction in the other?

      The observation alone may facilitate better tuning of models, but it will be more interesting to see where this all leads.

      • kenw

        There are many questions that need to be asked in the hope they may be answered and expand our knowledge.

        tonyb

    • tonyb,

      If the symmetry is real then it should be manifested in the underlying equations. That is/would be profound at a deeper conceptual level. Code and computation are secondary.

    • If true symmetry exists when, given the basic understanding of physics, there are numerous reasons for there not to be, aren’t there some foundational elements of the mechanisms that need to be reexamined? Perhaps a common denominator that trumps current scientific knowledge.

    • Tony

      When I retired, my job as a US Army project engineer involved authorship in “White Papers”. These were essentially identical to many of the scientific papers read by the denizens, but included one last section; Recommedations.

      I believe your question might best be answered, or might lead to an answer, if the Stephens et al paper were followed up with a white paper. Additional recommendations, other than those involving, models/computers, might be recommendations involving observational capabilities.

      Regards,

      Richard

      • One added thought:

        The purpose of a white paper as described above is to lay out an action plan baed on scientific findings. A “White Paper on the Albedo of Earth” should, I believe, be the product of a consortium of major science organizations such as the AGU and APS.

        Richard

    • Steven Mosher

      “Up-thread I posed a question about the value of the new Met Office supercomputer in possibly determining things we don’t currently know.”

      actually that is not the question you asked.

      • davideisenstadt

        So Mosh…why dont you explain to us all just what question was asked, what question you inferred was being asked, just what question should have been asked, or what question you think should have been asked.
        Really Steven, posts that begin with :
        “wrong”, or assertions as to what a poster inquired about are pointless.
        off your game today, you are.

      • Mosh

        Yes, they are the same questions albeit phrased differently as I tried once again to elicit an answer from someone that was neither baffling, cryptic or obscure to the nth degree

        —— ——-

        On March 11 12.30 I asked;

        ‘How does the modelling output of the majority of existing computers compare to the new Met Office one? In other words, are they at all adequate/worthwhile compared to the likely output from the new breed of supercomputers?

        If you don’t know, please just say so.’

        Then this morning I rephrased and expanded it in the light of the thread subject and its evolution, which was about clouds;

        “So, I am afraid I am going to use some question marks here, but the paper raises several questions that need answering, as it seems to me to me that clouds are one of those known unknowns or possibly even an unknown unknown.

        Firstly: will the Met Office supercomputer be able to meaningfully interpret the role of clouds within the evolving total weather system, bearing in mind the complex cycles within cycles that also appear to be present?
        .
        This leads on to a second question which is; Do those existing models from less powerful computers currently simulate the earths climate in a meaningful enough or ‘accurate’ way to be useful to those setting policy?

        —— ——–

        I was merely asking if existing models from less powerful computers are fit for their intended purpose and will the new met office improve things.

        I am not interested in continuing the semantics waltz by rephrasing the question again. If you want to answer, that is great, If you don’t, that is fine. There were already some interesting and understandable ones from other people. There is no hidden trap. No Hidden agenda. No bad faith. No intention to score points. Thank you.

        tonyb

      • Tony, why don’t you ask your question of global climate modeling experts? I don’t think you are going to find many here

      • Steven Mosher

        Tony’s original question

        ‘How does the modelling output of the majority of existing computers compare to the new Met Office one? In other words, are they at all adequate/worthwhile compared to the likely output from the new breed of supercomputers?”

        Nothing he wrote after that is a rephrasing.Nothing.

        “Firstly: will the Met Office supercomputer be able to meaningfully interpret the role of clouds within the evolving total weather system, bearing in mind the complex cycles within cycles that also appear to be present?”

        Note what is lost. The first question asked for a comparison between old and new. Here he just wedges in another question because I answered his first.

        “This leads on to a second question which is; Do those existing models from less powerful computers currently simulate the earths climate in a meaningful enough or ‘accurate’ way to be useful to those setting policy?”

        I gave you your answer about the new computer. It related to weather forecasting at 1.4km. You obviously were not interested in that.

        So now you rephrase it to be about clouds and climate modelling.

        Answer to your first question: Yes
        Answer to your second question: Yes.

        Quite simply the computing power will enhance weather forecasting, its primary mission. Second, current systems can inform policy, improved systems will inform policy. and yes, more power will give you more meaningful answers. It will not provide verisimiltude. But that’s not the goal.

      • Yep. You can get erroneous results quicker and of a finer scale.

      • Steven Mosher

        Tony, why don’t you ask your question of global climate modeling experts? I don’t think you are going to find many here

        Because he is not interested in the answer
        He has a perspective he wants to articulate and wanted to coatrack that onto the answer.

      • A more charitable reading is simply that he hopes anyone interested, climate modeler or not, may supply insight.
        =====================

      • Mosh

        Your 5.40

        Of course I am interested in getting an answer which is why I posed the question. Surely it is much easier for you to answer clearly in the first place, Should you want to, rather than carry out this bewildering and baffling semantics waltz you have been doing?

        You seem to have given an answer in the last two paragraphs. Fine. Thank you. But why carry out this performance when I merely politely asked some questions which you then proceeded to torture.

        What perspective do you think I want to articulate? Please spell it out as I have no idea What you mean nor what my perspective is, let alone have articulated it.

        You continue to read far too much into questions that do not have the Machiavellian purpose you seem to believe.

        Tonyb

      • Kim

        Yes, precisely.

        Tonyb

      • Steven Mosher

        tony

        “Of course I am interested in getting an answer which is why I posed the question. Surely it is much easier for you to answer clearly in the first place, Should you want to, rather than carry out this bewildering and baffling semantics waltz you have been doing?”

        No you are not. I answered your question. You were clearly not interested in the answer about moving to a 1.4km grid for weather forecasting which is the primary mission for the new system.

        The waltz is not semantic. Nor is it baffling.

        ######################################

        You seem to have given an answer in the last two paragraphs. Fine. Thank you. But why carry out this performance when I merely politely asked some questions which you then proceeded to torture.

        1. I gave your answers before. you ignored them
        2. Now you add more questions.
        your politeness is part of the game. not fooled.
        #########################################

        What perspective do you think I want to articulate? Please spell it out as I have no idea What you mean nor what my perspective is, let alone have articulated it.

        playing stupid is not your forte.

        #######################

        You continue to read far too much into questions that do not have the Machiavellian purpose you seem to believe.

        not machiavellian. largely unconscious. you cant even see what you do.

      • Mosh

        Still as clear as mud. good night.

        Tonyb

    • Tonyb,
      Don’t forget the earlier Rumfeld’s quote:
      “…The first step in science is to observe facts attentively, and in their proper connection; the second is to learn to doubt. The sublime in science consists in employing it to extend the power and increase the innocent enjoyments of the human race…”
      Von Rumford (1800)
      Interesting chap!

      Peter W

  85. Pingback: My Guardian comment | Scottish Sceptic

  86. A nice investigation of the satellite data.

  87. The issue with climate models is not necessarily the computing power – it may be the fundamental underpinning of the models themselves.
    I used to work in circuit modeling in the semiconductor industry. The base modeling software is SPICE and its successors – highly accurate as ultimately the lowest down data is direct measurement from actual circuits. Speedup is performed by converting these measurements into equations, but as the software designers – we were always cognizant that not all behavior could be modeled with equations. A good example is the functioning of flash memory – equations won’t do because flash memory utilizes a quantum physics effect, so at the lowest level the “equation” was a literally logic: if voltage was X, then Y.
    I don’t pretend to be an expert, but it seems that at least part of the problem with climate modeling is that there isn’t even a real discrete device to measure input/output from at the base circuit level. Combine that with the lack of data for said discrete device, and you have a potentially unsolvable problem. For example, the 1.4 km square mentioned above: while that is what is used for the base device with the top level circuit being the entire climate – there are no actual measurements for inputs and outputs for any 1.4 km square area anywhere in the world.
    I would thus point out that any “modeling” of this area is pure theory.
    And why does this matter? Again, from my own experience: for gross behavior, it is possible to use pure physics to predict a very generic logic level behavior for a transistor. However, to model the real world with any degree of accuracy, you have to know what’s going on before and after the transistor switches state. This is where the so called sub-threshold currents came into play – how much energy was passing through the circuit irregardless of transistor state changes. The failure to measure and model such currents results in a literally worthless simulation for anything but very simple circuits with very few devices.
    Climate seems to me to be very much analog, hence the lack of data plus lack of modeling capability does not promise any resultant skill/useability of output.

    • C1ue, some GCM observations, since understanding the possible sources of model/observational discrepancy is an area I am presently actively researching. It would appear that for weather (and therefore by extension, climate behavior) purposes, 1.5 km grids suffice run out maybe a week. These need initial conditions, but those need not be ‘measured’ data. They are simply initial condition inputs, interpolated from larger observed ‘field’ conditions like an area’s windspeed and direction.
      The finest CMIP5 grid resolution is about 1.1 degree lat/lon, or about 110 km at the equator. UCAR uses a rule of thumb that doubling resolution requires 10x computation ( the minimum woild be 4 times the number of XY cells times twice the time steps since these mipust correspondingly shrink.. 110-55-27-13-7-3-1.5 resolution would require 7 orders of magnitude more computational horsepower. Since these models already take 3 months or more to run out to 2100, a single GCM run at 1.5 km resolution on todays best supercomputers would need 2.5 million years. Computationally intractable.
      So for the present finest possible grid, all sub grid scale processes have to be parameterized. These include key phenomena like convection cells cloud formation, and precipitation (which removes water vapor and lowers that feedback. And that is where the core discrepancies almost certainly lie. The parameterization is chosen to ‘best hindcast’ compared to observed stuff (e.g. Temp). Yet observed includes natural variation in addition to any GHG signal. The root issue is therefore the attribution assumptions built into any parameterization.
      What could be done, but has not yet been, is to take something like the stadium wave history to correct the hindcast parameterization for a partly natural history, then see whether the pause is reproduced, or as in this thread a stable and hemispherically symmetric albedo results. I suspect this will not be done, since merely doing the exercise itself contradicts the ‘CO2 control knob’ meme and IPCC AR5′ attribution of the 1975-2000 warming to anthropogenic causes. Would by definition lower sensitivity, undercut the alarm, and obviate the proclaimed need for immediate action.

      • Steven Mosher

        “C1ue, some GCM observations, since understanding the possible sources of model/observational discrepancy is an area I am presently actively researching. It would appear that for weather (and therefore by extension, climate behavior) purposes, 1.5 km grids suffice run out maybe a week. These need initial conditions, but those need not be ‘measured’ data. They are simply initial condition inputs, interpolated from larger observed ‘field’ conditions like an area’s windspeed and direction.

        see below.

        http://www.ecmwf.int/en/research/data-assimilation

        http://www.ecmwf.int/en/research/data-assimilation/observations

        https://software.ecmwf.int/wiki/display/LDAS/LDAS+Home

      • Mr. Istvan,
        Thank you for the additional information.
        Noting that the simulations are accurate for 1 week periods is similar to back-casting circuit level performance to the device level – it can work if you have a large enough library of circuits, but in practice this is impossible to do.
        The reason is that the complexity of potential behavior – not necessarily at the number of devices level, but in the form of behavioral complexity in the way subthreshold currents or other non-transition related energy events wind up affecting behavior.
        A couple of semiconductor related examples to illustrate this:
        a) even as few as 10 years ago, the numbers of electrons passing through in a gate transition in a transistor were in the thousands. Modern transistors change state with as few as a dozen. The problem? 10 years ago, if one electron chose to quantum tunnel (and disappear), it would not affect operation of that transistor and transition whatsoever. However, if one of a dozen electrons chooses to do so, it does cause a transition failure – and while individual such events are rare, modern digital devices employ hundreds of millions of such transistors operating at gigahertz speeds – meaning we’re well over the threshold of where failures due to quantum effects are quite common. The above noted back-casting approach can never solve this issue as it is fundamentally chaotic.
        b) A more common usage of very accurate Spice level modeling is the development of voltage and current reference circuits. Very low power battery operated devices require some form of check to ensure power supplies from the variable performance battery don’t affect key circuit components like the timing (phase locked loops, oscillators), the IO (analog to digital/digital to analog converters), amplifiers, etc. These circuits only function at the subthreshold level even though they are created using transistors.
        The reason back-casting at the circuit level stopped being useful decades ago was simply that the library of expected circuit level behaviors was so large that there was no point anymore in not modeling the device level accurately enough that designers would not have to break out and simulate sub-circuits at behavior grids, plus there are many interactions between said subcircuits which could never be accurately handled.

    • Curious George

      “He read up for the subject, at my desire, in the “Encyclopaedia Britannica.”‘

      ‘Indeed!’ said Mr. Pickwick; ‘I was not aware that that valuable work
      contained any information respecting Chinese metaphysics.’

      ‘He read, Sir,’ rejoined Pott, laying his hand on Mr. Pickwick’s knee,
      and looking round with a smile of intellectual superiority–‘he read for
      metaphysics under the letter M, and for China under the letter C, and
      combined his information, Sir!’

    • Steven Mosher

      “For example, the 1.4 km square mentioned above: while that is what is used for the base device with the top level circuit being the entire climate – there are no actual measurements for inputs and outputs for any 1.4 km square area anywhere in the world.”

      A weather forecasting model will input data in real time from a variety of sources. real time Land observations and real time satellite observations.
      think kalmen filter to get a gross gross idea

      here is a sample
      http://ldas.gsfc.nasa.gov/nldas/

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_assimilation

      • Mr. Mosher,
        I certainly can see how some measurements do occur – the question I would have is just how detailed and thorough said measurements are for the potential relevant space.
        For SPICE, hundreds and thousands of test chips are regularly fabricated for each new process – each with thousands of specific test results to be gathered – the point of this process is to thoroughly explore all possible device behaviors and accurately gather data on expected performance.
        With climate, it is far less clear that this type of granularity in data can be obtained. There is no control over the test area – thus data can only be gathered by what instrumentation is available and over what conditions actually occur, as opposed to a regimented exploration of the entire space.
        Equally, the number of expected behaviors at the “circuit level” by which the limits of gathered data can be explored seems to me as an outsider to be relatively small. A large “circuit level” library is important because it forces a more thorough exploration of the capabilities and limits of what data has been gathered.
        An example: it seems odd to me that such gross behaviors as hurricanes can’t be more accurately predicted. As a layman, it would seem that a hurricane is a function of systemic energy – much like the transition in a semiconductor transistor. If in fact there is sufficiently accurate data at the “device level” – in this case, the energy/humidity/whatever in the 1.4 km regions – then why is it that predictions of numbers of hurricanes is so poor? I can certainly see the timing being problematic as the locus of generation could be any cell in a given area with all the chaotic effects thereof, but the fact that a hurricane will occur would seem to be a much more predictable phenomenon. And if it isn’t – as it is now – doesn’t that speak to an insufficiency of data and/or a modeling architecture problem?

      • Steven Mosher

        C1ue

        Here is what you said

        “For example, the 1.4 km square mentioned above: while that is what is used for the base device with the top level circuit being the entire climate – there are no actual measurements for inputs and outputs for any 1.4 km square area anywhere in the world.”

        WRONG.

        The data for temperature and pressure and windspeed for example come from 10s of thousands of point sources. soil moisture and other variables are area measures live real time..

        Again, put your SPICE down and think kalman filter. I’m well aware of SPICE and the comparison you draw is inept.

      • I won’t proclaim to be an expert on Kalman filters, but I do employ them for 3D point cloud work. A Kalman filter is nothing more than an estimation circuit by which noisy output can be converted into some form of pre-determined buckets. As such, while it can produce all manner of data, it does not fix the sampling problem if the sample data does not in fact contain sufficient information for a given phenomenon.
        Thus your commentary on Kalman filters seems nonsensical: you seem to be saying that every possible variant on cell behavior is in fact measured – which cannot possibly be true. What you’re really saying is that all possible variations in cell behavior are completely modeled via a Kalman filter – this is theoretically possible but is not in fact provable to be accurate/true unless you test over the entire range of possible inputs and outputs.
        As I noted above, a full exploration of behavior space is possible with semiconductor electrical circuits – I do not see how this can be possible with climate or weather.
        Care to explain further?

      • At BEST, it’s a gross device.
        ======

  88. It’s the IR not visible, so the high albedo low clouds are not well represented,
    but it may be worth watching the clouds:

    One way in which albedo does react to temperature is tropical thunderstorm activity.
    Temperature increase of day – convective clouds increase.
    Temperature decrease of night – convective clouds decrease.

  89. The albedo of the Earth is not a Left versus right issue; and, nothing about the science of climate change should be (a Left versus right issue). And yet, unabashed skepticism of scientific skepticism comes so easily to Left-thinking people. Cause and effect?

    The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude. Conversely, highly skilled individuals tend to underestimate their relative competence, erroneously assuming that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others. (wiki)

  90. Matthew R Marler

    This question might be more generally interesting: If a 1C increase in surface temperature produces a 2% – 7% increase in rainfall (O’Gorman, cited by Pat Cassen earlier), what will be the change in albedo caused by the changes in the clouds?

    • Matthew – based upon recent reading, it (albedo) won’t change.

      • Matthew – why can’t it be concluded from Stephens’ recent albedo paper that it is constrained by a mechanism that regulates albedo at ~.293 via SH clouds?

    • Danny Thomas

      Matthew,
      I’m with JCH that albedo won’t change. Much based on this: http://www.int-res.com/articles/cr_oa/c047p123.pdf
      But have to state that my answer is uncertain and certainly undereducated.

      • ...and Then There's Psychics

        All other long term studies of global albedo have found it varies from year to year. From 1985 to 2005 estimated to have declined enough to allow 7W/m2 more SW to reach the surface. Elephant in the room.

        Earthshine Project, satellite OLR and SW, all roughly agree.

        http://lasp.colorado.edu/sdo/meetings/session_1_2_3/presentations/session3/3_06_Palle.pdf

        http://www.climatedata.info/Forcing/Forcing/albedo.html

      • Danny Thomas

        ATTP,
        Follow up question if I may.
        From the Climatedata link found this:”IMPORTANCE OF ALBEDO
        The importance of albedo can be gauged from looking at the effect of whether or not the northern forests are covered with snow. Such forests cover about 12% of the total land area which in turn covers 29% of the earth’s surface. The difference in albedo between snow-covered and bare forests is at least 0.5. The product of these values indicates a difference in average albedo for the whole earth of 0.017. If the average albedo increases from 0.31 to 0.327 then, other things being equal, the earth’s temperature would increase by 3.8 ºC.”
        And this confuses me even more. If more energy is reflected from the surface “other things being equal” how can the temperature increase? This link even shows the variability seasonally.

        Most everywhere I look, I find that the average global albedo is +/-30%. Part of why my response to Matthew was 1C would have no direct impact on albedo. We see that kind of change in minutes/hours planetwide.
        Wiki (I know, not the best source) shows 30-35% planetwide (para 3), which would encompass the 32.7% (.327) indicated in the Climatedata link.

      • Steven Mosher

        Earthshine is addressed in the paper
        It’s not what you think.

      • Danny Thomas

        Steven Mosher,

        I’m not sure if the “Earthshine” comment was directed towards me as I didn’t use that term.
        As I understand Albedo (please clarify my summary) is the variable measurement (numerically) of reflectivity of incoming solar IR depending upon the make up of that which is doing the reflection. In shorthand, brighter=more reflective, darker=less. Importance is such that darker surfaces absorb more energy as well as reflecting less.

      • Steven Mosher

        no danny. not directed at you.

      • Just to be clear. There now appear to be two aTTPs commenting on this thread. The one who believes in psychics is not me.

      • Matthew R Marler

        …and Then There’s Psychics:
        All other long term studies of global albedo have found it varies from year to year.

        The high-end estimates of % change in rainfall come from regressing annual total rainfall against annual global mean temperature; the highest, 7% per 1C of warming focused on a tropical region. Have there been attempts to correlate annual mean albedo with annual rainfall? That might at least get the discussion started.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Danny Thomas: http://www.int-res.com/articles/cr_oa/c047p123.pdf

        Did that paper have anything to say about albedo? Without looking for a relationship between rainfall change and albedo change, it is certain that none such will be found.

        The flow diagram by Stephens has reflected sunlight at 100 W/m^2; a 4% increase in that would effectively cancel any warming effect of a 4 W/m^2 increase in downwelling LWIR. That could occur following a 15 min increase in the duration of cloud cover on sunny days.

      • Danny Thomas

        Matthew R Marler,

        No it does not specifically address albedo. It largely address an increase in the water “flow” but does not indicate retention with a 1C temp. increase. Assumptions (and they are assumptions) on my part based on the premise of that 1C temp increase is ice is not likely to gain (with a lack of clear understanding of Antarctica), WV may increase some, vegetation some, and historically the “global” albedo has averaged +/- 30% so I would not expect much change.
        Stephens et al listed papers dating from early 1900’s to support this (Table 1, pg. 4 top), and global temps have indeed increased +/- .9C during this time from what I find.
        Open to further education.

    • One of the points seems to be, the models don’t produce accurate cloudiness and when they are constrained to produce symmetric cloudiness, the precipitation fields change dramatically
      ( see slide 11 )

      As Stephens says on slide 21 of the link:
      “We can’t use present models to test ideas because they are neither balanced nor in steady state ( e.g. as in control )”

      In other words, nobody knows.

      Should this be surprising? Clouds, like precipitation, are sub grid scale phenomena produced by transient non-linearly processes.

  91. Waayyyyy off topic, but this thread is over 400 comments already, with more than a dollop of sophistry, So here is a science related breath of fresh air.

    And it’s just plain cool.

  92. “We show how clouds provide the necessary degrees of freedom to modulate the Earth’s albedo setting the hemispheric symmetry. We also show that current climate models lack this same degree of hemispheric symmetry and regulation by clouds”

    This alone is sufficient evidence to disqualify the IPCC models.

  93. Pingback: Send In The Clouds… | Musings from the Chiefio

  94. It seems unsurprising that the N and S hemispheres have a similar albedo.
    What is more difficult to explain is how the East and West hemispheres are similar. Eecially if you divide the globe with the 90deg longitude so that one half is nearly all Pacific Ocean and the other has most of the land.

    • It’s the most efficient way for a global surface of such radically different, and radically changing, features, to adjust, set thermostatically, adapt, backfeed, uh, how many other ways are there to describe the phenomena for which there is yet only poorly understood mechanisms.

      I think that paragraph needs a question mark at the end of it. Do you?
      =================

      • No.
        That the Earth is much more varied when divided East/west with the Pacific in one hemisphere than North/south is obvious from any globe or map.

        If the results from this paper imply that the Pacific has a similar albedo to the American and Eurasion continents then that needs an explanation, no question mark.

      • I don’t disagree; there’s something there to explain.

        I half suspect that the key to the utilization of the efficiency is in the adapting to the rapid day/night changes. Those, of course, are orders of magnitude greater than the difference in the hemispheres, either way, and the possibilities for albedo manipulation play out wondrously and intricately. Do you detect a failure of intuition there toward the end?
        ================

  95. Claude Harvey

    How many times must we go through this before we return to the old “more sunspots, more solar wind, fewer cloud-seeding cosmic rays, fewer clouds, warmer global temperatures” (and the reverse) theory?

  96. “increased reflection from SH clouds offsetting precisely the greater reflection from the NH land masses.”

    Why do land masses reflect more than water masses?

    • High density and other molecular properties. Then there are aerosols and cloud processes.

      In addition to reflectivity, the land surface radiates more heat due to lack of convection below the surface and because light does not penetrate as deeply as with water.

  97. Just an meta-level thought: The existence of symmetry can be profound in the sense of deep, i.e., conceptual, physics. This does not necessarily mean that it has a profound effect in the world of calculations or what the results of those calculations imply. (However, I do not preclude that possibility.) It is my understanding that GCMs are semi-empirical approximations that are parameterized to predict certain quantities but not all quantities. If so then it is not surprising then that some of the latter may be at variance with observation. Utility is in part dependent on context of use.

    I suspect that are several different meanings of ‘profound’ operating in this post and comments.

  98. The hypothesis that “NH and SH albedo is about the same” would appear to be the only case where mainstream climate sceptic theory advances an alternate, rather than null, hypothesis.

    Are there any others of note? Also, what is warmy position on this result, do they call it coincidence?

  99. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #172 | Watts Up With That?

  100. Is it true that the earth’s temperature, for billions of years, has been in the 70s (F) with no ice coverage? Only in ice ages does it reduce to near our current temperature? If yes, then we must be in a temperature minimum, which means it can only go up.

  101. Pingback: Ukerevy (uke 11) | Mot normalt

  102. Is the Hemispheric Symmetry Purely Coincidental?

    No! The NH and the SH both have polar seas that freeze and thaw at the same temperature. When the oceans are warmer, sea ice melts and turns on ocean effect snow that cools both Hemispheres. When the oceans are colder, polar oceans freeze and turn off ocean effect snow which allows both Hemispheres to warm. This cooling and warming occurs all the time but the most important harmonic in this is the thousand year cycle.

    • It is Clouds and Snowfall that is turned on and off. This is for those who say it is the Clouds. Yes, the Clouds supply much of the Albedo and they supply the Snowfall, but the temperature that Polar Oceans Freeze and Thaw is the thermostat for both Hemispheres to turn the Clouds and Snowfall on and off to regulate Temperature and Sea Level.

  103. Howdy–
    On this issue of how the clouds impact feedback on CO2 warming, in an email exchange with an old college buddy on this issue, he pointed out the lyrics of an old Joni Mitchell tune, “Both Sides Now”:

    “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
    from up and down, and still somehow
    it’s cloud illusions I recall.
    I really don’t know clouds at all.”

    Seems to sum things up pretty well, don”t ya think? I know, no science in this comment, but i couldn’t resist posting it here…

    Cheers,
    SkepticalPhysiker