A pertinent climate question

by Michel de Rougemont

Not so innocent as it looks, a pertinent question is asked by Judith Curry on Twitter:

How much of a change in cloudiness would it take to account for the 0.53 W/m2 increase in TOA radiative forcing since 2003?

She asks it in relation with a recent article accepted for publication on Observational evidence of increasing global radiative forcing (Kramer et al., 2021).

Abstract. “Changes in atmospheric composition, such as increasing greenhouse gases, cause an initial radiative imbalance to the climate system, quantified as the instantaneous radiative forcing. This fundamental metric has not been directly observed globally and previous estimates have come from models. In part, this is because current space‐based instruments cannot distinguish the instantaneous radiative forcing from the climate’s radiative response. We apply radiative kernels to satellite observations to disentangle these components and find all‐sky instantaneous radiative forcing has increased 0.53±0.11 W/m2 from 2003 through 2018, accounting for positive trends in the total planetary radiative imbalance. This increase has been due to a combination of rising concentrations of well‐mixed greenhouse gases and recent reductions in aerosol emissions. These results highlight distinct fingerprints of anthropogenic activity in Earth’s changing energy budget, which we find observations can detect within 4 years.”

This question touches a central point of climate science because it cannot be an experimental science in which one can play with parameters in isolation from each other. Only a few limited ongoing instrumental observations and palaeolithic reconstructions may serve to try to distinguish natural from anthropogenic processes, in particular radiative forcing processes. However, most of this job, if not all of it, takes place in silico.

The question can also be formulated in a more general way:

Is it at all possible, at global scope and by instrumental observations, to distinguish the causes of radiative forcing difference of 0.53 W·m-2 over a time period of 15 years?

To the cloudiness suggestion:

  • From a simple, two-layer energy balance budget it can be estimated that, all other things remaining constant, a 1% increase in cloudiness (which amounts to approx. 66% overall) may induce a temperature increase of 0.54 °C at the Earth surface and of 0.45 °C at the top of atmosphere (TOA)
  • Without consideration for any system feedback, a radiative forcing of 0.53 Wm-2 would induce a temperature rise of 0.11 °C at the surface, and 0.18 °C at TOA.
  • To obtain a same temperature increase, thus to respond to a forcing of 0.53 Wm-‑2, it would take a change in cloudiness by 0.27 % for the surface, or by 0.4 % for the TOA.
  • Is cloudiness, or change of cloudiness, measurable with such accuracy and precision at the aggregated global scope? What was it in 2003, and in 2018?

From an overall energy balance perspective:

  • In general, and to simplify, modelers estimate all incoming and outgoing heat fluxes, and let any remaining quantity warm or cool the oceans, thus reporting a so-called accumulated ocean heat or “heat content anomaly”.
    According to NASA, over the 1993–2019 period, a heat flux anomaly of 0.36 to 0.41 Wm-2 for the first 700 m of depth would have accumulated. Over time, other heat release periods should also occur so that the imbalance does not let us boil or freeze for ever (it never did).
  • Over this time period of 26 years, this heat flux would have implied a temperature change to a well homogenized 700-meter water column of 0.10 to 0.11 °C, a hard to measure change.
  • A question, similar to the previous one, arises regarding instrumental observation: is it at all possible to measure such heat accumulation precisely, accurately, and at the aggregated global scope (by localized temperature monitoring or any other valid method)?

In all these evaluations, errors will have to be taken into account; those arising from instrumental imprecisions and inaccuracies, those that are embedded in the data massaging process (averaging over time and locations), and systemic ones deriving from incomplete and imperfect model designs, their parametrization and simplifications.

Said differently: the resulting balance sheet of any model should entail an account for garbage; but it appears that it is at the same time the energy accumulating in oceans. The NASA-Goddard simplified representations does not show any; others (Trenberth, Fasullo, & Kiehl, 2009) show an “net absorbed” of 0.9 W·m-2 or the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) indicates a “Surface imbalance” of 0,6 ±0.17 W·m-2 (one appreciates the margin precision). However, taking into account all potential errors, the true range of validity of this imbalance may well be of the order of hundreds of percent, thus challenging the narrative of a ticking time bomb accumulated in the ocean depths.

One final question must be addressed to the climate science community: will the heat accumulated in the oceans ever be realized by the surface climate?


Kramer, R. J., He, H., Soden, B. J., Oreopoulos, L., Myhre, G., Forster, P. M., & Smith, C. J. (2021). Observational evidence of increasing global radiative forcing. Geophysical Research Letters, 48(e2020GL091585). https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GL091585

Trenberth, K. E., Fasullo, J. T., & Kiehl, J. (2009). Earth’s global energy budget.
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 90(3), 311–323. https://doi.org/10.1175/2008BAMS2634.1

About the author:

Michel de Rougemont, chemical engineer, Dr sc tech, is an independent consultant. www.mr-int.ch
In his activities in fine chemicals and agriculture, he is confronted, without fearing them, to various environmental and safety challenges.
He published a book ‘Réarmer la raison‘, on sale at Amazon, and an essayEntre hystérie et négligence climatique‘ (both in French only).
He maintains a blog blog.mr-int.ch,, a site dedicated to the climate climate.mr-int.ch, as well as one on biological control in agriculture biologicals.mr-int.ch
E-mail: michel.de.rougemont@mr-int.ch
He has no conflict of interest in relation with the subject of this paper.


120 responses to “A pertinent climate question

  1. … so just simplify the hell out of the problem and the solution is easily achieved, while also handily meeting a preconceived agenda. Garbage-in-garbage out.

  2. > He has no conflict of interest in relation with the subject of this paper.

    I suppose that depends on what we mean by conflict of interest:


    • Richard Greene

      Can you translate your character attack into English, for many of who can’t read the discussion at the link?

      • Yo answer your loaded question, Richard:

        – But Greta;
        – But Science;
        – But CAGW;
        – But Debate Me;
        – But Ism Word
        – But CAGW
        – But Government
        – But Politics

        It goes on and on.

        Michel has probly covered all the Bingo squares over the years, so his contrarianism is well known in the francophonie.

      • He’s a chemist who the real “deniers” like Willard constantly attack because he’s one of the ones who actually cares that “climate policy” is expensive nonsense.
        For example, he stands in the way of their ongoing effort to force France to switch from 80% CO2-free electricity generation (and export of clean electricity) to dependence on Russian natural gas.


      • > [Michel] stands in the way of their ongoing effort to force France to switch from 80% CO2-free electricity

        Intriguingly, there’s not “but nuclear” in that page, JeffN.

        That should make you sad.

      • “Intriguingly, there’s not “but nuclear” in that page, JeffN.”

        Ah, but there is.
        “In addition, the feasibility of these measures must be assessed, i.e. the availability of technologies and other resources at the required scale. A foolish voluntarism wants to make believe that all you need to do is want. This is far from the case because, although wonderful on paper, the solutions put forward are far from available.”

        Again, this is from a French scientist who is aware that his nation produces CO2-free electricity used internally and shared extensively with the UK and EU. And who is aware that his country’s government helped fund the NordStream 2 gas pipeline because the Willards of the world use “climateball” to force a switch from nuclear to fossil fuels (with a few billion tossed out to friends for demo “renewables” projects).

        Michel has called BS on climateball from a nation that succeeded in cutting emissions. And for that ,Willard wants him punished.

      • > Ah, but there is.

        Not really, JeffN. Michel’s more into hydrogen, which he falsely claims is a lost cause now. Without any feasibility analysis, it goes without saying. Michel knows his role as a contrarian, and abides by braire et laisser faire.

        But thank you for the mind probing. That means a lot to me.

        Beware that the CB word is banished from here.

    • “that depends on what we mean by conflict of interest.”

      It seems that what you mean is ‘disagreeing with me.’ So, yes – if it depends on that then he is certainly deeply conflicted. That said, what you mean by it is probably mostly in the way of casual slander, and so doesn’t really mean anything anyway.

      • Took you two sentences to get from “It seems that” to “what you mean by it is probably,” aporiac.

        Which part of “Michel has probly covered all the Bingo squares over the years, so his contrarianism is well known in the francophonie” you do not get?

    • willard both invented and destroyed Climateball. It went from being a game to poor, linguistically challenged willard hitting the ball against a wall and often losing serve.

      • no, climateball is alive and well. There is no shortage of Willardites swearing that if we simply add another zero or two to the next multi-trillion-dollar “Covid stimulus” we’ll be ready to heat Detroit, Chicago, NYC and Boston with solar panels. In the dark. In snowstorms. Some of them even say it with a straight face.
        In fact, we’re witnessing just about the best trick the climateballers ever pulled off- you are a science-hating earth destroyer now if you hesitate in the least to bow to the existential threat of public employee pension bailout requirements. Ooops, I mean “infrastructure” of course. That’s the ticket!
        They probably pre-wrote the press release explaining that, darn it, we couldn’t get to solar panels again! Because there weren’t enough zeros. Not that any of this costs anything, of course. It’s cheaper than gas and coal after all.

      • Your deflection is almost seamless, JeffN. Don’t forget that our favorite luckwarmer’s a Dem. It seldom shows, so he needs to remind it from time to time, when he pretends to argue against his interests. Rolling thunders of laughter usually follow.

        Thank you for fancying that I influence Murican politics.

      • No, willard. You influence nothing. You are a minor irritant. But an irritant nonetheless.

      • No u.

    • Russell Seitz

      de Rougemont asks a question that fundamentally translates into:

      “How good has the quantum efficiency , finesse, and resolution of state of the art radiometers become ?”

      He then proceeds to do something peer review is designed to avoid: ignore the answer because it quantitatively vitiates his argument.

  3. The problem is much more complex than as portrayed. Clouds vary in impact depending on type, altitude, and optical depth. For example, high thin cirrus warm because the ice crystals are transparent to sunlight but opaque to IR.
    At any given ‘cloudiness’, just changing cloud composition will change TOA IR. That was the essence of Lindzen’s adaptive iris paper, discussed here by myself and Judith some years ago.

    • The proper understanding of climate change depends on looking at actual data and history.
      When oceans warm, much of it is because polar sequestered ice was depleted during the cold times when sea ice prevented evaporation and snowfall on the stored ice. Sea ice is removed and then more polar evaporation and snowfall rebuilds the sequestered ice to the level necessary to push enough ice into polar oceans to chill the warm tropical saltwater currents and form sea ice and stop the ice machines.
      We are in a warm time with reduced sea ice and the sequestered ice is growing. It will stay warm because this takes time. The Roman and Medieval Warm periods lasted a few hundred years and this one will also. The sea ice will come and go but not fill the Arctic with multi year sea ice or have a time with no sea ice. What has happened over ten thousand years will continue for thousands of years. This is the new normal. With current Gulf Stream, this will continue.

    • thecliffclavenoffinance

      It is so refreshing to read your words, that every scientist should say, but they rarely do … because many “scientists” are paid to blame man made CO2 for all global warming, and ignore all other variables.

      So much wisdom that I want to repeat it:
      “The problem is much more complex than as portrayed.”

      I published a list of possible causes of climate change on my science and energy blog today — and I stopped at ten.

      I imagine many “government scientists” would have a list of one item: man made CO2, and dismiss everything else as “noise”:

      The following variables are likely to influence Earth’s climate:
      1) Earth’s orbital and orientation variations

      2) Changes in ocean circulation
      Including ENSO and others

      3) Solar activity and irradiance,
      including clouds, volcanic and man made aerosols, plus possible effects of cosmic rays and extraterrestrial dust

      4) Greenhouse gas emissions

      5) Land use changes
      (cities growing, logging, crops irrigation, etc.)

      6) Regional differences

      7) Unknown causes of variations of a
      complex, non-linear system

      8) Unpredictable natural and
      man made catastrophes

      9) Climate measurement errors
      (unintentional or deliberate)

      10) Interactions and feedbacks,
      involving two or more variables.

    • Ristvan wrote:
      “high thin cirrus warm because the ice crystals are transparent to sunlight but opaque to IR.”

      What about the near infrared sunlight?

      • There is surprisingly little, in fact. You can look that fact up lots of ‘official’ places. Sunlight is mostly SWR radiation because the sun surface is very hot. Earth’s cooling counter radiation is mostly IR because Earths surface is NOT hot. Remember that photon energy is a function of wavelength. Higher frequency is more, lower frequency is less.

      • Ristvan, 49% of solar energy is in the near infrared rather than in the visible. You can look that *fact* up in lots of ‘official’ places. Then I suggest that you look up the absorption of near infrared by water vapour, water, and by water ice.

    • barn E. rubble

      RE: David Appell | March 28, 2021 at 5:15 pm |
      “Neither the Roman or Medieval Warm periods were global.”

      Atta boy, Dave! Keep the faith.

  4. “it can be estimated that, all other things remaining constant, a 1% increase in cloudiness (which amounts to approx. 66% overall) may induce a temperature increase of 0.54 °C at the Earth surface”

    April 1st is next week. What we have is weaker solar wind states since 1995 have driven a warm AMO phase, and the warmer SST’s reduce low cloud cover and increase sunshine hours, allowing the upper OHC to rise.


  5. “ Is cloudiness, or change of cloudiness, measurable with such accuracy and precision at the aggregated global scope? ”

    Given there has never been any 2 clouds precisely identical, down to the infinite molecular interrelationships within each unprecedented cloud, how is it possible to measure or assume anything about future clouds?

    • David Appell

      Same question for any gas, each of which differs in its “infinite molecular interrelationships.” Yet gas laws exist. How?

    • jungletrunks

      I find your question interesting, cerescokid. In particular when considering peak aerosol pollution in the 1970’s, in the U.S., and relative here to how cloud formations may have evolved as this pollution subsided over the last 50 years. I suspect there’s not much documentation about clouds circa 1970’s. Maybe I’m wrong, but wouldn’t understanding cloud formation during this period be critical to our understanding of how clouds have effected climate since post peak aerosol pollution? Smoky air makes it harder for clouds to grow. Pollution, on the other hand, energizes cloud formation, but only if the pollution isn’t heavy. While this may suggest cloud formation over LA in the 70’s inhibited clouds locally; but as this pollution dissipated over large swaths of the U.S. how did it effect cloud formation in broader terms? Specifically the resultant effect of this pollution on climate over less densely populated regions of the country.

      The DA here says “gas laws exist”; so perhaps he can illuminate the facts with regards to U.S. dissipation of aerosol pollution, as it relates to cloud formation, and such effects on climate over the last 50 years.

  6. Can you, please, tell us what is the Earth’s mean surface temperature?
    And if it is 288 K, can you give us a link to the source explaining how exactly the temperature 288 K was estimated?


    • David Appell

      It doesn’t really matter what it is, only how it’s changing.

      • Curious George

        What a beautiful way to say “I don’t know”.

      • how can one talk about the change number if the baseline origin or value is not known? Take the extreme sanity check: pick any number for temperature and assess the degree of change. Does not work with my math.

    • Still, do you have any suggestion on how the 288 K was estimated?


      • I think, I have found the answer.


        “The maps above show temperature anomalies, or changes, not absolute temperature. They depict how much various regions of the world have warmed or cooled when compared with a base period of 1951-1980. (The global mean surface air temperature for that period was estimated to be 14°C (57°F), with an uncertainty of several tenths of a degree.) In other words, the maps show how much warmer or colder a region is compared to the norm for that region from 1951-1980.

        Global temperature records start around 1880 because observations did not sufficiently cover enough of the planet prior to that time. The period of 1951-1980 was chosen largely because the U.S. National Weather Service uses a three-decade period to define “normal” or average temperature. The GISS temperature analysis effort began around 1980, so the most recent 30 years was 1951-1980. It is also a period when many of today’s adults grew up, so it is a common reference that many people can remember.”


  7. Dr Curry, you wrote about “total planetary radiative imbalance”

    The Radiative Balance is a total flawed idea.

    There is not a Radiative Balance most of the time in history.

    There have been warm times when IR out is more but it is not cooling the climate system at that time, it is building sequestered ice in cold places.

    There have been cold times when IR out is not enough to explain the cold, but the cooling is coming from the thawing ice.

    The claim is made that the IR out and the formation of ice balances with the thawing of the ice and it can be ruled as all in the atmosphere.

    Major problem is that the ice is formed and sequestered in hundreds or thousands of warm years and then the ice is thawing over hundreds or thousands of years that are hundreds or thousands of years later.

    We gained the capability to measure things as we came out of the Little Ice Age and the climate was close enough to balanced that the consensus was formed that climate is always balanced or not far out of balance.

    Climate changes in natural cycles and the cycles swing with Radiative Balance that includes the sequestered ice. IR out does balance but cooling happens in colder times from thawing ice while the IR out went out in warmer times.

    Radiative Balance is flawed because cooling by sequestered ice thawing much latter in different times is left out of consideration.

  8. Instantaneous radiative forcing by CO2-e has a W/m2/s factor of 10 to the minus 9. Steady change accumulating. Add some CO2 the planet warms and the Planck response kicks in driving the system towards an energy equilibrium at TOA. Against a backdrop of large variability due to ocean and atmospheric circulation (Loeb et al – https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10712-012-9175-1 )

    The planetary response is measured with impressive – given the degree of difficulty – precision and stability.


    “This study examines changes in Earth’s energy budget during and after the global warming “pause” (or “hiatus”) using observations from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System. We find a marked 0.83 ± 0.41 Wm−2 reduction in global mean reflected shortwave (SW) top-of-atmosphere (TOA) flux during the three years following the hiatus that results in an increase in net energy into the climate system. A partial radiative perturbation analysis reveals that decreases in low cloud cover are the primary driver of the decrease in SW TOA flux. The regional distribution of the SW TOA flux changes associated with the decreases in low cloud cover closely matches that of sea-surface temperature warming, which shows a pattern typical of the positive phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Large reductions in clear-sky SW TOA flux are also found over much of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans in the northern hemisphere. These are associated with a reduction in aerosol optical depth consistent with stricter pollution controls in China and North America. A simple energy budget framework is used to show that TOA radiation (particularly in the SW) likely played a dominant role in driving the marked increase in temperature tendency during the post-hiatus period.” https://www.mdpi.com/2225-1154/6/3/62

    • “the decreases in low cloud cover closely matches that of sea-surface temperature warming”

      Hardly surprising as the warmer SST’s causes the decrease in low cloud cover.

    • The persistence of bistable open and closed cloud cells in Rayleigh–Bénard convection in an atmosphere heated by oceans. As a hydrologist I naturally think in terms of water in its various forms. With most water/atmosphere action happening in the bottom 2 km of atmosphere. Intuitively – albedo changes as clouds rain out.

  9. Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  10. At half-time, at a Fall football game, I was sitting in the North end zone watching the sky to the South. I was watching clouds; that is, multiple clouds of various densities, elevations (layers) and I knew they were all different because they were moving in different directions and at various speeds.

    I wondered to myself at least: how would one estimate the radiative impact of each cloud layer if you wanted to model such in a computer program?

    It was a nice day.

    • “Marine stratocumulus cloud decks forming over dark, subtropical oceans are regarded as the reflectors of the atmosphere.1 The decks of low clouds 1000s of km in scale reflect back to space a significant portion of the direct solar radiation and therefore dramatically increase the local albedo of areas otherwise characterized by dark oceans below.2,” https://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/1.4973593

      Modelling at large eddy ‘cloud resolving’ scales globally requires quantum computing. I was wondering earlier about the potential for big climate data and pattern recognition software in seasonal to decadal forecasting. Cloud physics depends on the type of cloud. With nonlinear interactions. And feedbacks in wind, currents, heat transport, ice, biology… Presuming we understand the nonlinear rain and cloud physics


      • jungletrunks

        “I wondered to myself at least: how would one estimate the radiative impact of each cloud layer if you wanted to model such in a computer program?”

        “Modelling at large eddy ‘cloud resolving’ scales globally requires quantum computing. I was wondering earlier about the potential for big climate data and pattern recognition software in seasonal to decadal forecasting.”

        I appreciate these forward reaching, insightful thoughts. If such technology existed mid 20th century perhaps the denizens of the world would have escaped being held hostage by todays politically charged climate change gaslighting program. Maybe not, invention of facts as a stand-in to sculpt perception is easy, actual invention isn’t.

      • Climate rhetoric is a sure sin. Quantum computers running real time data acquisition and pattern learning software – otoh – might be fun.

    • RiHoo8

      I too have observed clouds, except from golf courses over the last 65 years. Every cloud that I saw one second was different than the cloud I saw the next second. They were in constant evolution, from nothing to significant, and significant to nothing in the space of minutes. Not only is each cloud different from others, the same cloud isn’t what it was a few minutes earlier.

      I watched a golf tournament yesterday. They monitored the wind speed and direction and displayed the data on the screen in real time.. Both were changing literally by the second, at times significantly. That monitoring device was in one spot on one tee. It said nothing about the data from the other 17 holes about every second of that day much less what it said about that square mile, or that city, or that state, or that country, or that continent. What kind of generalizations could we make about the clouds and the wind yesterday? I’m not sure it’s possible.

      It’s too bad there is no record of the clouds during the MWP and LIA, then we might be able to infer something about their role in global temperatures.

  11. Ireneusz Palmowski

    What is the true temperature at 20 km above the equator?
    “Indeed, scientists have just published research showing the top of one tropical storm cloud system in 2018 reached -111C.
    It was seen on 29 December that year, just south of the equator in the western Pacific. The measurement was made by a passing American satellite, Noaa-20.
    In the 2018 event, the cloud top was at about 20.5km in altitude.”

    • I do not know if anyone understands why a cloud would get colder at the top.
      It is really simple. The temperature is pressure dependent. If there is more evaporation and changing of water vapor to ice going on in the cloud, more energy will send the cloud to higher altitudes and getting colder at higher altitudes is what actually happens. Colder clouds reached higher altitudes because more energy was released when more water vapor changed to ice.
      Pressure Temperature relationships are well understood.

  12. It’s a simple fact, based on easily knowable and understandable technology, that the oceans are in a cooling trend and have been for some time now… if Dr. Trenberth can’t find the heat, nobody can cuz, he’s kind’a like, your archetypal Chief Global Warming Alarmist Western Leftist Propagandist…

    • There was a Roman warm time, there was a Medieval warm time, there is a modern warm time. There have been and will be warm and cold disturbances that influence this but this modern warm time will stay warm until sequestered Arctic Polar ice has been rebuilt and is flowing and dumping ice into turbulent saltwater to chill in and form sea ice and turn off evaporation.

      • Not my thought but I have read in a context of serious scientific thinking that exhibits all the indicia of reasoned and considered opinion versus ideologically motivated ravings that– the oceans may well be giving up their heat until 2080…

  13. Geoff Sherrington

    In September 2020 on WUWT I asked a dozen pertinent climate questions. They were:
    For a 1⁰C change in global temperature –
    1. By how many millimetres does the sea level surface height change?
    2. By how many ppm does atmospheric CO₂ change?
    3. By how many tonnes does the weight of terrestrial vegetation, like forests, change?
    4. By how much does the pH of the oceans change?
    5. By how many sq km does the average area of cloud cover change?
    6. What change is there to the accumulated cyclone index, ACE?
    7. What is the net change to the global number of Birds, Land animals and Marine algae?
    8. By how many Watt per square metre does the Top of Atmosphere TOA radiation balance change?
    9. By how many tonnes does the weight of ice change, Over land, Floating on sea and Grounded over sea?
    10. By how much does total precipitable water TPW change?
    11. By what number does the number of large bush fires change?
    12. By how many tonnes do yields of major food crops change, expressed as tonnes available per person for Rice, Wheat, Beans, Barley and Maize?
    Maybe one question was answered at all, let alone correctly, if correctly is known. Yet multitudes of interested people wrongly imagine that these basics of climate change are understood to the point of needing no more discussion.
    How strange a world of illusion has Science become!!! Geoff S

    • Indeed. All great questions.

    • Geoff,

      Here are some answers to your Q3 “3. By how many tonnes does the weight of terrestrial vegetation, like forests, change?”

      From Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) to Pre Industrial, Global Mean Surface Temperature (GMST) increased by 6.05 C. Terrestrial biomass carbon mass increased by 300 to 1000 GtC (IPCC AR4, WG1, Chapter 6, 2007). From LGM to Present (2010), GMST increased by 7.01 C and terrestrial biomass carbon by 850 GtC (Jeltsch-Thömmes et al., 2019 ). Using Spawn et al. (2020) biomass carbon density per 1 deg. x 1 deg. grid cell, I estimate a 3 C GMST increase from 2010 would cause terrestrial biomass carbon mass to increase by 2,855 GtC to 3,427 GtC.


      IPCC AR4, WG1, Chapter 6 Section https://archive.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch6s6-4-1-4.html

      Jeltsch-Thömmes et al., 2019, https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-15-849-2019

      Spawn et al., 2020, https://daac.ornl.gov/cgi-bin/dsviewer.pl?ds_id=1763

      • Geoff Sherrington

        Thank you, Peter.
        The questions are slowly getting some answers.
        But the lack of answers, to me, reveals acts of science by assumption that the Establishment knows all, when it does not.
        Geoff S

    • “12. By how many tonnes do yields of major food crops change, expressed as tonnes available per person for Rice, Wheat, Beans, Barley and Maize?”

      FAO data:

      … from ~2.25 Gt cereal production in 2010 to ~ 2.75 Gt… so ~1/2 Gt rise, 50 Mt/y.
      Population has risen from 6.96 to 7.80 B… or ~83 M/y average.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        Thank you Robert,
        But how much would these numbers have changes if there was no temperature change? Cause and effect relationship.
        I seek quantification of the particular outcomes from that 1 deg C.
        Geoff S

  14. Ireneusz Palmowski

    La Niña reduces the global amount of water vapor in the atmosphere and increases snowfall in the Northern Hemisphere.

  15. Ireneusz Palmowski

    These plots present time series (updated daily) of the current amount of water stored by the seasonal snowpack (cubic km) over Northern Hemisphere land areas (excluding Greenland).
    Contour map of Canada displaying snow cover depth (cm) on ground. Each contour line represents different depth measurement. Closely packed lines indicate high variability in snow depth in that region. Images updated daily, provided by the Canadian Meteorological Centre, Environment and Climate Change Canada Canada.

  16. Ireneusz Palmowski

    Is this the end of winter conditions in the US? My advice is to hold off on planting.

  17. Ireneusz Palmowski

    In late February and early March, the stratospheric polar vortex was reborn in the Northern Hemisphere.

    • I think you could be on to something. It agrees with the idea of steadily increasing gravitational forcing acting on the ocean bottom currents imo. I believe the deep equatorial oceans are cooling, with extra tidal energy displacing warmer waters to higher latitudes. Eventually more air gets pushed up into the stratospheric polar vortex.

  18. Davies and Malloy used data from the Terra satellite to measure the global effective cloud height from 2000 to 2010. They found a decrease of 44 meters. While there was an El Nino/La Nina effect, the first and last years (not effected by ENSO) showed a change of -31 meters/decade.

    According to the calculations of the researchers, the negative forcing from this decrease in the average global cloud height during the 10 years more than offset the positive forcing from an increase in greenhouse gases.

    They conclude their paper:
    “Finally, we note that the climate data record of [effective cloud height] anomalies may ultimately indicate a measure of long-term cloud feedback that may be quite separate from the correlations discussed above [correlations with El Niña/La Niña]. Ten years is unfortunately too short a span for any definitive conclusion, as the linear trend in global cloud height of -44 +/- 22 m over the last decade is partly influenced by the La Niña event, and may prove ephemeral.

    “The difference between the first and last year of the decade, not directly affected by the La Niña event, is -31 +/- 11 m. If sustained, such a decrease would indicate a significant measure of negative cloud feedback to global warming, as lower cloud heights reduce the effective altitude of emission of radiation to space with a corresponding cooling effect on equilibrium surface temperature. Given the precision of the MISR measurements, we look forward to the extension of this climate data record with great interest.”

    Global cloud height fluctuations measured by MISR on Terra from 2000 to 2010

  19. Alternatively, measuring the solar radiation over time at the surface shows changes due to cloud cover and aerosols.
    The leading research on global brightening/dimming is done at the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science of ETH Zurich, led by Martin Wild, senior scientist specializing in the subject.
    An overview of the dataset and findings is here:

  20. I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
    From up and down and still somehow
    It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
    I really don’t know clouds at all

    Joni Mitchell, 1966. I am not sure we have a better answer more than fifty years later.

  21. Two items:

    “Testing the hypothesis that variations in atmospheric water vapour are the main cause of fluctuations in global temperature” by Ivan R. Kennedy and Migdat Hodzic, ”Periodicals of Engineering and Natural Sciences,” Vol. 7, No. 2, August 2019, pp.870-880. Available online at: [http://pen.ius.edu.ba] and [http://pen.ius.edu.ba/index.php/pen/article/view/437/350] ISSN 2303-4521. . . . Article considers the effect of crop irrigation on atmospheric water vapor which then affects temperature.

    Dan Pangburn has previously posted ….
    “Dan Pangburn | January 26, 2020 at 6:27 pm | posted to website
    “Although most know that water vapor is a ghg, hardly anyone appears to have noticed that water vapor has been increasing 1.5% per decade. A rather simple calculation, using data from Hitran, shows that, at ground level, WV increase has been about 10 times more effective at causing warming than CO2 increase. The added cooling from increased CO2 in the stratosphere counters the small warming from CO2 at ground level with the net result that CO2 has no significant effect on climate. ”

  22. Pingback: A pertinent climate question – Watts Up With That?

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  25. Is this pertinent?
    Here’s a discussion:

    Have these papers been discussed here before? I think so.
    Anyway, even if it’s not pertinent, it seems very puzzling and important.

  26. Pingback: A pertinent climate question

  27. Ireneusz Palmowski

    Solar wind magnetic activity dropped again in March 2021.

  28. Seismic testing: Green scientists in search of causes for alarm, not the truth
    Source: ‘The Australian’, 29 March 2021
    “Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, a fresh reason not to drill for undersea oil and gas has been dredged up by the Greens.
    Seismic testing has been carried out in the Great Australian Bight since February 1960 apparently without mishap. It maps subsurface geology to predict where oil and gas wells should be drilled.
    For the green movement, however, seismic is just another scare word to add to the lexicon of fear. At a Senate committee hearing this month, Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson pored over a submission on the supposed dangers of seismic testing authored by Dr Natasha Deen.
    Dr Deen, founder of Save our Coast, cites claims that seismic blasting damages the hearing of penguins up to 100km away. Seismic blasts are said to cause soft-tissue damage in fish while turtles and squid had been shown to exhibit “strong startle responses”. People living near the coast risked being affected by solastalgia, a form of melancholia said to be induced by environmental change.
    Dr Deen’s improbable claims might have slipped by unnoticed were it not for the presence of former country vet Senator Sam McMahon.
    “Can you tell me what published scientific papers Dr Deen has actually produced on the issue?” McMahon asked Save Our Coast director Peter Morris.
    Morris: “No I don’t know that there were any that she has actually produced. Her quest was to learn as much as she could and she’s located many, many sources.”
    McMahon: “So she’s been doing her own personal education? She’s not actually a researcher?”
    Morris: “No, the term researcher as she’s using it there is that she’s attempting to learn information about seismic testing and she’s drawn on research done by credible scientific bodies.”
    McMahon: “Can you tell me what Dr Deen actually has her PhD in and what scientific institution she works for?”
    Morris: “She’s not a scientist, she’s in the medical field.”
    McMahon: “My understanding is that she’s actually a dentist.”
    Morris: “Yeah, I know she’s a dentist.”
    McMahon: “So she’s just effectively a normal person who doesn’t have any scientific credentials in this area.”
    To be fair to Dr Deen, who couldn’t attend the hearing, dentists are not entirely ignorant of drilling, nor are they insensitive to the risks of soft-tissue damage. Yet if Whish-Wilson had genuinely been looking for scientific evidence, the committee’s time might have been better spent examining the submission of the CSIRO, which found that the evidence of seismic damage to fish and invertebrates was qualitative and inconclusive.
    The same lack of scientific rigour was apparent in the New Zealand government’s decision to ban seismic testing last year. The decision was widely criticised by marine scientists as unnecessary and unjustified.
    “They’ve kind of put 10 per cent of their efforts into gathering good data and 90 per cent into modelling really bad data,” said marine biologist Professor Liz Slooten, of the University of Otago. “Statisticians call that polishing turds.”
    Sadly, turd-polishing is becoming the new scientific method in this post-empirical world. Environmental scientists seldom test findings by attempting to falsify them, putting their energy instead into buttressing prior assumptions that uphold supposedly self-evident truths. In doing so they commit what Francis Bacon described in 1620 as “the peculiar and perpetual error of the human understanding to be more moved and excited by affirmatives than by negatives”.
    Environmental science has been mangling data in search of predetermined outcomes since the early 1960s. It gained momentum with the publication in 1962 of Rachel Carson’s influential book, Silent Spring, with its controversial assumption that humans were an invasive species and a danger to nature. As American biochemist Robert White-Stevens said at the time, “if we were to follow the teachings of Miss Carson, we would return to the Dark Ages, and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the Earth”.
    From such dismal beginnings, environmental science was compromised by the activists who plundered it for propaganda. Unlike other disciplines, which sought to fill gaps in knowledge, environmentalists set out to exploit them by scaring people about the risks of the unknown. The burden of proof was reversed. Genetically modified crops, for example, were banned in Europe not because they were proved to be dangerous, but because no one had proved they were safe. It was not enough to mitigate the known risks when unknown risks might be lurking somewhere. This deeply pessimistic outlook has dogged human progress ever since, strangling innovation and robbing humankind of the technology that could have made energy cleaner and more efficient.
    Whish-Wilson has put a motion to the Senate to ban seismic testing, citing what he mischaracterises as the precautionary principle. The paucity of firm scientific evidence that seismic testing is dangerous is not enough to allay concern. The onus is placed on resources companies that wish to use seismic testing to prove it is safe not just from the known risks, but the unknown as well. “Just how much harm it is doing is unknown, including to other marine life such as dolphins and whales?” he asks in a press release.
    More than 60 years of seismic testing around the world, including in Bass Strait, might suggest it has little if any effect on sea life or the holistic wellbeing of coastal dwellers. Few Australians outside the technical environment of the resources industry would have had any idea it was going on.
    Yet it made possible the supply of abundant gas from Bass Strait, which has powered industry in Victoria for decades. Without seismic testing, oil and gas companies would have to sink many more test wells to identify the locations where production should commence. Drilling more wells multiplies the risks. It also adds substantially to the cost and delays the process, making many fields uneconomical. That ultimately is the aim of this pseudo-science that Whish-Wilson and his colleagues embrace, not in pursuit of the truth, but to enforce their misanthropic doctrine.”
    End Quote
    Nick Cater is executive director of the Menzies Research Centre.

  29. Roy Spencer 2008 quotes
    “the main reason for the current inadequacy of such methods of comparison between models and observations is the contaminating effect of clouds causing temperatures to change (forcing) when trying to estimate how temperatures cause clouds to change (feedback). This not a new issue, as it has been addressed by Forster and Gregory (2006, applied to satellite measurements) and Forster and Taylor (2006, applied to climate model output).
    Net feedbacks in the real climate system — on both short and long time scales — are probably negative. A misinterpretation of cloud behavior has led climate modelers to build models in which cloud feedbacks are instead positive, which has led the models to predict too much global warming in response to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
    Earth’s surface and atmosphere suddenly warm by 1 deg. C, everywhere. In this case the Earth would immediately give off an extra 3.3 Watts per square meter of infrared energy
    any source of warming (or cooling) causes other changes in clouds, water vapor, etc., to occur. These can cause extra warming if they either increase the amount of absorbed sunlight (e.g. fewer low clouds), or reduce the rate of infrared radiation to outer space (e.g. more water vapor, our main greenhouse gas). These warmth-amplifying changes are called positive feedbacks.
    Alternatively, cloud and water vapor changes could decrease the amount of absorbed sunlight or increase the amount of emitted infrared energy, thus reducing the warming. This is called negative feedback.
    If satellites measure more than 3.3 Watts per square meter given off by the Earth per degree of global warming, that is evidence of negative feedback. If the number is less than 3.3, that is positive feedback.”

  30. Ireneusz Palmowski

    The return of La Niña is becoming more and more apparent. Globally, the amount of water vapor in the air will not increase. Solar activity is low, which will provide an increase in low clouds, as seen in the southeast Pacific.

  31. Pingback: Solar Driver of Climate Change – Econophysics2020

  32. That twitter feed has pertinent question about the most pertinent climate question- In addition to blowing trillions of dollars governments don’t have for “the precautionary principle,” should the precautionary principle cause government to force people to move because of climate change?

    We are, as a nation, remarkably unconcerned about applying a science-based precautionary principle to actual science.

    After the Biden administration orders the evacuation and abandonment of Seattle and Portland, we can have a chat about reallocating Oregon and Washington infrastructure spending toward sea level concerns. Maybe the first step of the latter will be to monitor the depth of the seawater on those NYC highways that Hansen’s “spot on” forecasts assures us is there.

  33. Low level cloud is optically thick and has a warm top. More cooling and less reflectance than with high level cloud. The counterpoint pattern of IR and SW suggest that change traces back to low level cloud. A good place to look for changes in low level cloud is the eastern Pacific Ocean. Evidently connected to sea surface temperature variability.


    ‘We find a marked 0.83 ± 0.41 W/m2 reduction in global mean reflected shortwave (SW) top-of-atmosphere (TOA) flux during the three years following the hiatus that results in an increase in net energy into the climate system. A partial radiative perturbation analysis reveals that decreases in low cloud cover are the primary driver of the decrease in SW TOA flux. The regional distribution of the SW TOA flux changes associated with the decreases in low cloud cover closely matches that of sea-surface temperature warming, which shows a pattern typical of the positive phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.’ https://www.mdpi.com/2225-1154/6/3/62

    Low, middle and high are relative. But most H2O is retained in the troposphere. The energy in thunderheads can punch past.


  34. Istvan mentions above that ‘cloud amount’ is an inadequate descriptor – what sorts of cloud will change the response.
    The cloud type that cools is stratocumulus which depends on turbulence and salt aerosols/DMS to form. If we look for trends in stratocu then perhaps the warming becomes explicable.
    I have been banging on for years about sea surface modification by pollution, particularly light oil/surfactant pollution. I have a few rather rough images of a huge smoothed area of ocean observed from 40,000+ft from abeam Portugal to a couple of hundred miles short of Madeira, literally tens of thousand of square miles of reduced aerosol production. A marine biologist suggested phytoplankton lipids. I have seen oil pollution all over the Med and the North Atlantic.
    The huge smooth suppressed wave breaking in a Force Four breeze – maritime Buccaneer training I’m afraid – with the first whitecaps just beginning to show.
    If anyone wants to see the images, poor and limited by 2012 camera phone technology, then our kindly hostess has it.
    Smooth sea, fewer aerosol particles, less stratocu, lower albedo, less nutrient stirring, lower phyto numbers. Reduced CO2 levels in the water. Phytos forced to use carbon concentration pathways which discriminate less between C12 and C13. Result, warmer surface, reduced total export of C but that C is unexpectedly richer in heavier C isotopes. Atmosphere gains CO2 with a light isotope signal.
    Result:panic, hysteria, collapse of science integrity.

    I wish someone would look.


  35. Ireneusz Palmowski

    The average temperature in the tropopause over the equator drops to -90 degrees C. This is the temperature reached by cloud tops in hurricanes. The record temperature was recorded in June 2018 and was -111 C at an altitude of 20.5 km.
    The tropopause over the equator is very wide, and the lowest average temperature is always around 100 hPa.

  36. Ireneusz Palmowski

    Sunspots still show extremely low magnetic activity, so TSI is also lower.

  37. Which is why, IMO, we have Arctic warming not global warming. The conveyor systems them transmit the extreme warming (due to cloud cover capture – the abandoned water vapor as a greenhouse gas) to the rest of the Northern hemisphere.

  38. Clouds are warming, not cooling the planet. Even if you were totally simple minded, there is some appropriate simple evidence you can not deny. You only have to take this modtram version and play through a couple of iterations:


    Let us start with the standard preset and we will leave “tropical atmosphere”, “altitude: 70km” and “looking down” as it is. But we are going to modulate cloudiness and GHGs.

    1. GHGs as they are, no clouds or rain: 298.5W/m2 in emissions
    2. GHGs as they are, altostratus clouds top 3.0km: 269W/m2 in emissions
    3. GHGs all set to 0, no clouds or rain: 443.7W/m2 in emissions
    4. GHGs as they are, altostratus clouds top 3.0km: 350.7W/m2 in emissions

    With GHGs present the LWCF (long wave cloud forcing) here is 29.5W/m2 (298.5-269). Without GHGs the LWCF grows to 93W/m2 (443.7-350.7), over 3 times as large!!!

    This is only portraying a specific scenario, while in real life cloud tops in the tropics reach much higher than just 3km and they are only sometimes given. There is not much use in looking at the absolute numbers here. The interesting part is rather how GHGs and clouds are overlayed in their emission reducing role, their GHE so to say. Most of the LWCF is concealed by GHGs.

    Actually LWCF exceeds SWCF and the empirical evidence shows, that clouds are associated with higher temperatures than clear skies.


    • Perhaps you should read the heading. “MODTRAN Infrared Light in the Atmosphere”
      The effect of global clouds: -44 W/m2 SW and +26 W/m2 LW (IR) i.e. net 18 W/m2 cooling.

  39. Correction:
    1. GHGs as they are, no clouds or rain: 298.5W/m2 in emissions
    2. GHGs as they are, altostratus clouds top 3.0km: 269W/m2 in emissions
    3. GHGs all set to 0, no clouds or rain: 443.7W/m2 in emissions
    4. GHGs all set to 0, altostratus clouds top 3.0km: 350.7W/m2 in emissions

  40. Pingback: Weekly Climate And Energy News Roundup #449 – Watts Up With That?

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  42. Geoff Sherrington

    Let me try.
    It is not possible to measure that tiny amount of 1W/m^2 by the difference between two much larger numbers and without making some heroic assumptions about subjective adjustments between satellite observations to bring them into line, adjustments that are hard/impossible to replicate.
    A hard scientist would demonstrate the uncertainty bounds of this measurement, not just present the guess as fait accompli. Geoff S

    • > Let me try.

      Denying the antecedent is more a way not to try to answer the question than anything, Geoff.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        Show me the bounds of the measurement certainty. Actual numbers will do, with an explanation of subjective assumptions.
        Remember this type of cartoon from a decade ago?
        How do you select just the right 1 W/m^2?

      • I don’t know about you, Geoff, but when I say that I’m gonna try to answer a question, I’m not burdening otters with other questions.

        But if you find your question important, I suppose you tried to answer it.

        Then it should be easy to show your homework.

  43. Alan Cannell

    Cloud formation is affected by cosmic radiation with known cooling after a Carrington Event or in areas affected by the South Atlantic Anomaly

    Vieira L. E. A., and L. A. da Silva (2006), Geomagnetic modulation of
    clouds effects in the Southern Hemisphere Magnetic Anomaly
    through lower atmosphere cosmic ray effects, Geophys. Res. Lett.,
    33, L14802, doi:10.1029/2006GL026389.
    Transfer Entropy between South Atlantic Anomaly and Global Sea
    Level for the last 300 years
    Saioa A. Campuzano

  44. So is it an experimental (measured rather than modelled) fact that we are warming at 0.53 W/m**2 ? ie an empirical rather then theoretical artefact.

  45. I don’t remember reading this 2018 paper updating efforts to reconcile the global sea level budget. To old hands it might be old news. But for newer denizens it presents a concise summation of progress in understanding all the components of sea level rise, as well as the outstanding uncertainties and challenges for the scientific community. There is a good discussion on terrestrial water storage that has been fragmented in the past. Also, some might take issue with the discussion about improvements in precision of the satellite altimetry systems. I suspect some of the data will be in IPCC6.