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  1. Very well written post. I look forward to reading The Warming Papers.

    Comment by Chad — 13 Jan 2010 @ 5:55 AM

  2. In reading historic papers, it is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that investigators of the past are working on the basis of the same underlying set of assumptions in common use today.

    All too true. Try reading Sadie Carnot who nearly discovered the second law of thermodynamics before others established the first. Or the early theories of colour vision.

    (Congratulations about your book)

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 13 Jan 2010 @ 6:34 AM

  3. When I read this article, I found the mention of Fox and Hedgehog baffling. I didn’t know what they were intended to represent.

    On going back to Gavin’s earlier post I have found out; and it might be useful to include in this post as well an explicit identification of where the metaphor arises. The relevant paragraph of the previous RC post is:

    Eli has described this using Isaiah Berlin’s Hedgehog and the Fox metaphor – Plass being the Hedgehog who knows one big thing, and for whom the details are more incidental. I think this is a reasonable take, as long as it is realised that Hedgehogs are not always right, even though in this case he was.

    PS. Raypierre, thank you for being so generous with the online drafts of your new book! It has been an enormous help to me through the year just past. I hope it is a huge success.

    [Response: My pleasure! And my thanks go out to all the many people who provided comments on the various drafts. I tried to include as many as I could track down in the acknowledgements, but I’m sure I’ve missed some, since I lost track of some of my back emails. –raypierre]

    Comment by Duae Quartunciae — 13 Jan 2010 @ 7:25 AM

  4. Congratulations on the book, and thanks for sharing the online drafts. (But isn’t “animula” a tad diminutive for a 545-page brick?)

    [Response: More like a 700 page brick, once the problems were merged in and the index done. –raypierre]

    Comment by CM — 13 Jan 2010 @ 8:02 AM

  5. off topic, but I would really appreciate a modern view of how Calledar handled the data to recognise global warming from the temperature data so far ahead of anyone else. Is such a discussion in ‘The Warming Papers’

    [Response: We edited the very long Callendar paper some, but that is discussed in The Warming Papers. –raypierre]

    Comment by Terry Aust — 13 Jan 2010 @ 8:31 AM

  6. I’d like to add my thanks for this discussion. There seems to be an interesting back-and-forth pattern to the development of the conceptual framework of the atmospheric mechanics of the greenhouse effect: I was startled to find this description by Ekholm in his 1901 paper:

    . . . radiation from the earth into space does not go directly from the ground, but on the average from a layer of the atmosphere having a considerable height above sea-level. . . The greater is the absorbing power of the air for heat rays emitted from the ground, the higher will that layer be. But the higher the layer, the lower is its temperature relatively to the ground; and as the radiation from the layer into space is the less the lower its temperature is, it follows that the ground will be hotter the higher the radiating layer is.

    (Of course, given the close association between Ekholm and Arrhenius, it’s logical that they would have shared a conceptual framework.) It’s been suggested that this mode of warming is also implicit even in Tyndall’s well-known “dam” analogy of the effect of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    On the other hand, if I read it correctly, Guy Callendar’s 1938 paper “The Artificial Production Of Carbon Dioxide And Its Effect On Temperature,” considers warming purely from the perspective of downwelling IR–his discussion is even titled “Sky Radiation.” He cites Angstrom and several others on this. Perhaps Plass was following this (then) more modern “thread”–although Plass does not mention Callendar in the Introduction (where he does cite Tyndall, T.C. Chamberlain, and Arrhenius), “The Artificial Production Of CO2″ does appear in the bibliography.

    Callendar’s paper is here:

    http://www.rmets.org/pdf/qjcallender38.pdf

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Jan 2010 @ 8:38 AM

  7. Hedgehog and foxes?

    Got me baffled, too.

    Is it a US (not UK) expression?

    Comment by Theo Hopkins — 13 Jan 2010 @ 8:54 AM

  8. Winky smiley Internet thingy:

    So with heat radiating into space by layer, with subsequent cooling as one gains into the atmosphere being better understood, has the most probable altitude of Icarus’ demise be determined?

    Also, best picture of a hedgehog ever.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 13 Jan 2010 @ 9:19 AM

  9. Re: The hedgehog and the fox

    > Is it a US (not UK expression)?

    Classical Greek. Archilochus, 7th century BC: “The fox knows many things, the hedgehog knows one great thing.” Sir Isaiah Berlin (your side of the pond) wrote a popular book of intellectual history by that title.

    Comment by CM — 13 Jan 2010 @ 9:23 AM

  10. “The Hedgehog and the Fox” is an essay by the liberal philosopher Isaiah Berlin. The title is a reference to a fragment attributed to the ancient Greek poet Archilochus: πόλλ’ οἶδ’ ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ’ ἐχῖνος ἓν μέγα. (“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”).

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

    Comment by Kate Cell — 13 Jan 2010 @ 9:34 AM

  11. “The way the greenhouse effect really works is that adding CO2 reduces the infrared out the top of the atmosphere, which means the planet receives more solar energy than it is getting rid of as infrared out the top. The only way to bring the system back into balance is for the whole troposphere to warm up. It is the corresponding warming of the low level air that drags the surface temperature along with it …”

    Thank you Ray. That is the clearest, most concise explanation of the effect of CO2 I have ever read.

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 13 Jan 2010 @ 9:55 AM

  12. I imagine it is quite a banal thing to measure, but has anyone measured the spectrum of back radiation in a dry atmosphere to show the CO2 emission? Even better, to show it change with concentration. i.e. a reverse version of the following paper which compared outgoing longwave spectra:

    Harries J., H. Brindley, P. Sagoo, and R. Bantges, 2001: Increases in greenhouse forcing inferred from the outgoing longwave spectra of the Earth in 1970 and 1997. Nature, 410, 355–357

    It’s to provide an additional answer to the perennial “I want experimental proof of CO2″ demand.

    [Response: Dan Lubin and others have several papers documenting the downwelling infrared spectrum, using an FTIR instrument. The problem is finding a dry place. Most of the tropical results show a lot of water vapor effect in addition to CO2. The best bet for getting a clean CO2 spectrum would be on a clear night in the Antarctic winter, but most of Dan’s Antarctic results seem to focus on cloud effects (which are less banal). I haven’t found exactly what you’re looking for. On the other hand, if you google “AIRS spectra” you’ll find a certain number of new analyses of the top of atmosphere spectra, which clearly show the CO2 feature. That’s even more valuable as proof of the validity of our understanding of the CO2 radiative effect. It’s not a long enough time series to detect trends in the CO2 feature, though, and doing that is not a high scientific priority in comparison to things that would shed light on water vapor or (especially) cloud feedbacks. –raypierre]

    Comment by Steve Milesworthy — 13 Jan 2010 @ 10:09 AM

  13. Great article, thank you!

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 13 Jan 2010 @ 10:25 AM

  14. Wonderful essay, and many thanks for the book.

    I’ll take the liberty of adding a codicil, The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. If it’s wrong, the hedgehog is a crank.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 13 Jan 2010 @ 10:30 AM

  15. How reliable and detailed are our measurements of top-of-atmosphere energy budget? Can we say for certain that the Earth has been consistently receiving more energy than it radiates away to space in recent years or decades? If so, that would surely invalidate all arguments about a pause or reversal of global warming at a stroke. Everyone can easily see that if more heat is being put into the climate system than is being lost to space, the planet *has* to be warming up, regardless of any natural fluctuations in surface temperature due to heat moving around in ocean currents, or melting of icecaps, or any other mechanism.

    [Response: The satellite TOA budgets are not yet accurate enough to do this sort of thing, or at least not stable enough over time. Hansen argues that monitoring the ocean heat storage is a more feasible way to get at the same issue, since the atmosphere itself comes into equilibrium quickly, so that most of the TOA imbalance is reflected in changes in the ocean heat storage. There are plans for operational monitoring of the TOA budget over the coming decades, but I am still somewhat concerned that this may not be done with enough accuracy to adequately track the behavior of cloud and water vapor feedbacks. –raypierre]

    Comment by Icarus — 13 Jan 2010 @ 10:40 AM

  16. “Theories do not spring from scientists full-formed like Athena from the head of Zeuss. Science often proceeds through a series of errors and corrections, and those who move the ball forward are in the thick of this process even if they have made some mistakes.”

    Wonderful!

    Looking forward to “The Warming Papers” and “Principles of Planetary Climate” (perhaps a new text for my Climatology class in Fall).

    Comment by Todd Albert — 13 Jan 2010 @ 10:41 AM

  17. There is a nice illustration of how the level at which the IR emission reaches space for different CO2 concentrations on Rabett Run (Ray contributed to the discussion earlier)

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 13 Jan 2010 @ 10:55 AM

  18. For those who like me need to look up the other classical reference:
    http://tomclarkblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/animula-vagula-blandula.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jan 2010 @ 11:02 AM

  19. CM says:
    13 January 2010 at 8:02 AM
    Congratulations on the book, and thanks for sharing the online drafts. (But isn’t “animula” a tad diminutive for a 545-page brick?)

    You shouldn’t take these analogies too literally, after all I doubt whether Raypierre is implying that Cambridge is a barren place (loca pallidula rigida nudula).

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 13 Jan 2010 @ 11:26 AM

  20. raypierre,

    I have a Windows machine, System 7 with Sun virtual machine with Ubuntu (a version of Linux) installed, and of course it is easy enough to download Python. Do you have a prepackage of the software that goes along with your book yet for Linux? Shouldn’t be a problem getting it to run in the virtual machine — I believe.

    [Response: I’m still cleaning up the software before the final release, but it works find under Linux. In fact, it’s only the graphics that is a bit machine-dependent, but versions of that will work on any machine
    that has x11. (and most of the software can still be run even without graphics, though the graphics is nice to have). The
    Python uses numpy, but that’s included with most Python distributions these days. For some machines, it may be necessary to recompile the NCAR radiation package in order to make use of the python radiation interface, but I’m providing ready made builds for OS X and Linux. I haven’t yet tried building the NCAR package and Python interface on Windows, but that will come at some point. –raypierre]

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 13 Jan 2010 @ 11:26 AM

  21. Kate Cell wrote in 10:

    “The Hedgehog and the Fox” is an essay by the liberal philosopher Isaiah Berlin. The title is a reference to a fragment attributed to the ancient Greek poet Archilochus: πόλλ’ οἶδ’ ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ’ ἐχῖνος ἓν μέγα. (“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”).

    I figure the Hedgehog had Asperger’s syndrome and the Fox was bipolar.

    This would explain why the Fox could see things from a variety of perspectives. Undoubtedly had grandiose plans but kept coming up with some new grandiose plan before he had the chance to finish the previous one. Ah, but the Hedgehog — he had the benefit of his tunnel vision!

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 13 Jan 2010 @ 11:32 AM

  22. Raypierre
    I doubt very much that you missed these 2 early researchers in preparing your book, but others here may appreciate learning of their thinking, as described in the following 2 letters to Nature.

    NATURE
    Vol 448
    August 30, 2007

    CORRESPONDENCE

    Climate: Sawyer predicted rate of warming in 1972

    SIR – Thirty-five years ago this week, Nature published a paper titled ‘Man-made carbon dioxide and the “greenhouse” effect’ by the eminent atmospheric scientist J. S. Sawyer (Nature 239, 23-26; 1972). In four pages Sawyer summarized what was known about the role of carbon dioxide in enhancing the natural greenhouse effect, and made a remarkable prediction of the warming expected at the end of the twentieth century. He concluded that the 25% increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide predicted to occur by 2000 corresponded to an increase of 0.6 °C in world temperature.

    In fact the global surface temperature rose about 0.5 °C between the early 1970s and 2000. Considering that global temperatures had, if anything, been falling in the decades leading up to the early 1970s, Sawyer’s prediction of a reversal of this trend, and of the correct magnitude of the warming, is perhaps the most remarkable long-range forecast ever made.

    Sawyer’s review built on the work of many other scientists, including John Tyndall’s in the nineteenth century (see, for example, J. Tyndall Philos. Mag. 22, 169-194 and 273-285; 1861) and Guy Callender’s in the mid-twentieth (for example, G. S. Callendar, Weather 4, 310-314; 1949). But the anniversary of his paper is a reminder that, far from being a modern preoccupation, the effects of carbon dioxide on the global climate have been recognized for many decades.

    Today, improved data, models and analyses allow discussion of possible changes in numerous meteorological variables aside from those Sawyer described. Hosting such discussions, the four volumes of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007 assessment run to several thousand pages, with more than 400 authors and about 2,500 reviewers. Despite huge efforts, and advances in the science, the scientific consensus on the amount of global warming expected from increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations has changed little from that in Sawyer’s time.

    Neville Nicholls
    School of Geography and Environmental Science,
    Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia

    —————————————————
    Fires and climate linked in nineteenth century

    SIR – ‘Atmospheric brown clouds’, resulting from the burning of fossil fuels and biomass, have recently been reported to have a large effect on climate by altering the atmosphere’s absorption of solar radiation (V. Ramanathan et al. Nature 448, 575-578; 2007).

    Interestingly, even in the nineteenth century, some scientists held the view that tiny particles, or aerosols, produced from burning affect solar radiation, clouds and precipitation on a large scale – all factors that play into climate. One of them, German geographer Alexander Freiherr von Danckelman, wrote an insightful but little-noticed paper on the topic (A. von Danckelman Z. österr. Ges. Met. (Meteorol. Z.) 19, 301-311; 1884).

    After observing huge savannah fires in Africa during the 1880s, von Danckelman reported that fires were accompanied by cumulus clouds, which subsequently spread and thinned, forming a brownish or blueish haze that persisted for days to weeks. He argued against the view that fires were an immediate cause of rain showers, and proposed instead that they affected cloudiness and precipitation in an “indirect way”. He realized that by providing cloud condensation nuclei, fires might contribute to the fog and drizzle typical of the dry season. Estimating the amount of biomass burned in Africa each year, he concluded that savannah fires must have a major influence on large-scale climate.

    Von Danckelman’s descriptions of haze produced from burning biomass and its effects on climate are surprisingly accurate. Although not every detail is correct, his theories anticipated many aspects of the current discussion on biomass burning and the effects of aerosols. Sadly his work, published in French and German, is almost forgotten today and references to his papers are absent in current studies.

    Stefan Brönnimann
    Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science,
    ETH Zurich, Universitätsstraße 16,
    CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland

    Comment by Lance Olsen — 13 Jan 2010 @ 12:10 PM

  23. What an excellent essay. On a recent thread there was some discussion here about evaporation serving as a dependable limit on surface temperature, an idea which is incomplete unless one follows the budget into space. This piece is a great reminder about the limitations of focusing too much on what’s going on at the bottom of the atmosphere. Thank you!

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Jan 2010 @ 12:17 PM

  24. Thanks for pointing out the differences in what Plass said, and the total reality of things; perhaps this misconception is one of the reasons I’ve seen so many people indicate that they think CO2 acts like some kind of a ‘magnifying glass’ – rather than a down comforter!
    BTW: I learned of Gavins piece because I read American Scientist (just learned they, like Robert Oppenheimer, were investigated as ‘pinkos’ by Sen. McCarthy in the 1950′s – which makes me love them even more; and doesn’t history truly repeat itself?); I suggest that anyone interested look into the Dec. 2009 Issue – it has a complete reprint of Plass original Item, as well as a nice Chronology of his predicesors who made the ‘other’ discoveries that made Plass’ discoveries possible.

    Comment by James Staples — 13 Jan 2010 @ 12:21 PM

  25. The hedgehog expression has become a fixture in this country recently, but the first time I recall it was as apologia for Ronald Reagan’s political thinking. I suspect the expression has grown recently due to the hagiography of Reagan during the 2008 election.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 13 Jan 2010 @ 12:26 PM

  26. Re: #12

    has anyone measured the spectrum of back radiation in a dry atmosphere

    Start with

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/empirical-evidence-for-co2-enhanced-greenhouse-effect.htm

    and scroll down to
    “Surface measurements of downward longwave radiation”

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 13 Jan 2010 @ 12:49 PM

  27. 15 Icarus: NASA satellites have been measuring the infrared radiation leaving Earth for quite some time. Denialists never check with NASA. Somebody else, the real RC people surely know more about this than I do. Perhaps NASA satellites would be a good subject for a post?

    Thanks, raypierre. That clears up a lot of things, including that hedgehogs have short quills. Porcupines have much longer quills.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 13 Jan 2010 @ 1:04 PM

  28. There is only one “s” in Zeus. Perhaps you were confusing him with “Seuss”?

    [Response: Ack, I must have had Revelle and Zeuss on the brain –raypierre]

    Comment by Jim Roland — 13 Jan 2010 @ 1:18 PM

  29. Kate, don’t you have the wrong breath mark on “hen?”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 Jan 2010 @ 1:26 PM

  30. The CO2 v. temperature relationship is sometimes mentioned in degrees warming for a doubling of CO2. That suggests a logarithmic relationship, which I find counter-intuitive; anyone care to explain that to me?

    [Response: The logarithmic relationship is between CO2 concentrations and the forcing and it is something that has been known for decades (if not back to the 19th Century). The dependence arises because of the way that the absorption near the peak spectral line changes as CO2 changes. The consequence is that the forcing for each successive doubling is roughly the same at least up to around 1000ppm, and down to maybe 50 (?) ppm. For much smaller amounts the relationship is linear. – gavin]

    Comment by Ralph — 13 Jan 2010 @ 1:29 PM

  31. I now have references for both the predictions and the confirmations for 11 of the 17 climate modeling successes on my web page. I don’t want to put up the reference list until I have citations for ALL the items mentioned. If anyone can find citations from the peer-reviewed science literature either predicting the following, or confirming it later, please email me or post here:

    * Ozone hole effect on southern ocean winds
    * Hadley Cells expand
    * Storm tracks move poleward
    * Tropopause and radiating altitude rise
    * Tropical “super greenhouse effect”
    * Expanded range of hurricanes and cyclones

    I’m paging through Google Scholar, but haven’t found anything I can clearly interpret well enough to cite confidently yet.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 Jan 2010 @ 1:38 PM

  32. let me try again [edit - OT and ill-posed]

    Comment by Bill — 13 Jan 2010 @ 2:17 PM

  33. Thanks for this explanation by raypierre. It is helpful though my understanding of the radiative heat transfer processes continues to be a bit vague.

    However, the lines, “—-radiation is not the only means of exchanging heat between the atmosphere and the surface. There are also turbulent exchanges, including evaporation, and these would tend to limit the surface warming —,” suggest that other ways for the surface temperature to lag the temperature equilibrium at the top of the atmosphere might also be relevant. At the surface of the world’s oceans we then should count the heat taken from the surface and transported downward. Where there is wind, therefore waves, there is a vertical current component and therefore a vertical heat transfer. This seems to be something that would be a substantial on-going flow effect, varying of course with wind. Thus whatever wind increase occurred due to surface heating should increase vertical heat movement downward. My point continues to be that ocean heat content will increase instead of surface heat content, ie. surface temperature. And though the globe will be warmed just the same, arguments about surface temperature increase are not too meaningful.

    I had previously thought that the radiative equilibrium was for surface temperature and thus it was hard to see how the heat into the oceans would change things by much, since the control of that surface temperature would be mostly governed by the equilibrium requirement.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 13 Jan 2010 @ 2:32 PM

  34. My previous question is clearly related to this thread:#15, 17, 30 as examples. How do we establish baselines for change???

    [Response: Your question was not relevant. There is no ‘optimum’ temperature as has been discussed hundreds of times. This has nothing to do with Plass, surface energy balances or CO2 forcing. It is OT. – gavin]

    Comment by Bill — 13 Jan 2010 @ 2:36 PM

  35. BPL (#31),
    this should be the right thread to get a reference for “radiating altitude rise”…

    For the less on-topic “ozone hole effect on southern ocean winds”, I thought of Thompson & Solomon (2002) who refer to three simulations with greenhouse gases/ozone loss giving same-sign trends in the Southern Annular Mode as their observations: Fyfe et al. (1999), Kushner et al. (2001), and Sexton et al. (2001). Amateur hunch, needs careful vetting.

    Comment by CM — 13 Jan 2010 @ 3:10 PM

  36. Good article. Hopefully raypierre will be around more now that the book is finished.

    This is one of the problems I have with the simple layer model as it is introduced in some textbooks, such as Dennis Hartmann’s or David Archer’s “Understanding the Forecast.” This is where you simply add up the influence from successive blackbody “layers” with a final result of something that usually ends up looking like T_s=T_eff*(N+1)^0.25, where N is the number of layers, and T_s and T_eff are the surface and effective temperatures, respectively. Archer discusses some of the incompleteness of this model in his class lectures (lack of convection, layers are not fully transparent in the shortwave nor fully opaque in the longwave) but I think the whole presentation misses the point completely. It has absolutely no top-of-atmosphere perspective. In fact, if one were to set up the “layer model” with a bunch of layers at the same temperature (i.e., an isothermal atmosphere), the result would be a surface temperature that could be much greater than the temperature achieved by radiation balance with the sun, when in reality, you cannot get a greenhouse effect in such a situation.

    By the way, for the people new to RC, raypierre has an older article on the same subject which pointed out some of the misunderstandings of the surface energy budget that actually showed up in the primary literature (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/11/busy-week-for-water-vapor/)

    Comment by Chris Colose — 13 Jan 2010 @ 3:25 PM

  37. Raypierre, a book collecting the classic papers is a brilliant idea – I shall look forward to reading it. But who is your target audience? Would it work as an introductory undergrad text? Or grad school only? I imagine the papers themselves might be pretty tough going for the non-speciallist, but who did you aim your commentaries at?

    [Response: The essays are meant to be accessible to the undergraduate audience or scientifically literate layperson, though certainly more advanced researchers may also be interested in the historical perspective. Some parts of a few of the papers (the QJRMS one by Plass in particular) would be heavy going for an undergrad audience, but most of the papers are very accessible to readers without an extensive technical background. Where they aren’t, the essays are meant to help along. –raypierre]

    Comment by Steve Easterbrook — 13 Jan 2010 @ 3:32 PM

  38. #33

    “My point continues to be that ocean heat content will increase instead of surface heat content, ie. surface temperature.”

    Uh, 70% of the earth’s surface is ocean. Plus, there is a rather vigorous exchange of energy between the ocean and atmosphere.

    Comment by Jerry Steffens — 13 Jan 2010 @ 4:23 PM

  39. One problem with using a surface-radiation argument to explain surface warming is that it is difficult to answer the question, “Where does the extra energy come from?”. (Why should the act of adding extra molecules of certain gases create energy?) In a top-of-the-atmosphere argument, there is no such problem:The source of energy is the temporary excess of absorbed solar radiation over outgoing longwave radiation, as explained in this post.

    [Response: Yes that’s very true. The surface budget represents an exchange between the ocean or land heat reservoir and the atmosphere. If one gains heat the other loses. –raypierre]

    Comment by Jerry Steffens — 13 Jan 2010 @ 5:14 PM

  40. > Jerry Steffens 13 January 2010 at 5:14 PM

    Here, perhaps a picture will help you understand where the energy is coming from and going and how much:

    http://chriscolose.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/kiehl4.jpg?w=480&h=350

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jan 2010 @ 6:01 PM

  41. Further for Jerry Steffens:

    Let me suggest a paraphrase that might help:

    > it is difficult to answer the question, “Where does the
    > extra energy come from?”. (Why should the act of adding
    > an extra blanket on the bed on a cold night create energy?)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jan 2010 @ 6:09 PM

  42. I have just received an e-mail blog from nasa re. grace satellite measurements show antarctica is loosing ice at an accellerated rate.I would suggest an exponential rate since there are many aspects of climate change that are accelerating the acceleration and this is something that computer modeling cannot project,rather like shutting the door after the horse has bolted.If we need to have evidence of what will happen when warmerlattitudes get warmer and meet colder lattitudes getting colder[like an ice cube melting in a glass of water]we need look no further than the coast of labrador which has 60% of the year fog[low level cloud]due to melting ice meeting warm gulf stream water.GET MORE FOXY and less of a hedgehog.

    Comment by donald moore — 13 Jan 2010 @ 6:14 PM

  43. Another left-wing nut commits intellectual suicide.

    http://www.augustreview.com/news_commentary/general/exposing_the_global_warming_lie__20091212153/

    [Response: That may have happened a while ago…. – gavin]

    Comment by Robert — 13 Jan 2010 @ 7:07 PM

  44. I have read this essay and the comments with great interest but I am always drawn on matters of foxes and hedgehogs – they represent phase shifts within an evolutionary process. A fox may become a hedgehog, but then discover that the one big thing is yet another thing. Hedgehogs, as just inferred, very reluctantly evolve into foxes, and so on ad infinitum! :)

    Comment by Noel Fuller — 13 Jan 2010 @ 7:44 PM

  45. @Robert: “43.Another left-wing nut commits intellectual suicide.”

    How is that guy on the left-wing? He quotes the Heritage Foundation pretty freely for someone on the left wing. Then he was a paper industry forester.

    I’m just not seeing the left-wing credential. Did I miss something?

    Comment by Andrew — 13 Jan 2010 @ 8:07 PM

  46. Barton Paul Levenson #31

    About the “Hadley Cells expand”: I think this may help.

    Fu 2006
    Enhanced Mid-Latitude Tropospheric Warming in Satellite Measurements
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/312/5777/1179

    It mentions a “pattern indicative of a widening of the tropical circulation and a poleward shift of the tropospheric jet streams”.

    BTW, I´ve been trying to do a “AGW basic math” myself – yours is great, but I´m aiming for something with less parameterization (and less impressive results). Do you know any online source for an IR absorption coefficient table of CO2?

    Comment by Alexandre — 13 Jan 2010 @ 8:17 PM

  47. Robert says, “Another left-wing nut commits intellectual suicide.”

    Left wing? Uh, dude, that site is a LaRouche organ–you know, the guy who called Ronald Reagan an “unwitting communist stooge?”

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Jan 2010 @ 8:27 PM

  48. #40,#41 (Hank)

    My comment in #38 was based upon my experience in the classroom, having taught climate change at the university level for almost 20 years. (The question concerning the source of energy is one that a student might well ask.) I was simply pointing out one reason why an explanation in terms of top-of-the-atmosphere radiation fluxes is pedagogically superior to one involving surface fluxes.

    By the way, I don’t think that your comment in #41 is a particularly good analogy — in your example, the source of energy is INTERNAL(body heat), whereas the source of energy for the earth-atmosphere system is EXTERNAL. A sharp student would be sure to point that out.

    Comment by Jerry Steffens — 13 Jan 2010 @ 8:50 PM

  49. The short answer to the question of where the energy comes to warm the surface is from energy that left the surface but was turned around by backradiation. Without the greenhouse gases it would just keep going

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 13 Jan 2010 @ 9:00 PM

  50. Ray Ladbury says: 13 January 2010 at 8:27 PM

    Anyway, who cares? Wrong is wrong.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Jan 2010 @ 9:13 PM

  51. Ok, my apology to Jerry Steffens.

    You’ve actually been asked that kind of question by students at the college level?

    If I were asked “Why should the act of adding extra molecules of certain gases create energy?” I’d reply by asking “Who told you that adding extra molecules can create energy?” — if they’re confused about “turning food to energy, I’d point out that a blanket will keep a hot brick or a hot water bottle longer too.

    Everyone knows a good down sleeping bag keeps you warmer than a thin one.

    Any snow camper learns the criterion for a really good sleeping bag — inside you’re warm, but the nylon outside layer of the sleeping bag has to be below freezing, so the moisture from the body leaves its warmth inside the down layer but then freezes, making frost on the outside of the bag (instead of making the bag damp and cold).

    Kind of like the troposphere/stratosphere transition for water vapor.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jan 2010 @ 9:22 PM

  52. gavin -

    in re your response to #43…

    Michael Coffman – the editor of the publication you linked to (“Discerning the Times”) – has an interesting history, when you search on him at exxonsecrets.org.

    These folks do get around – politics, faux science, religion – don’t they? You’d think they’d have some difficulty with their finances, what with jumping from one job to another all the time, but I guess not…

    Comment by Jaime Frontero — 13 Jan 2010 @ 9:44 PM

  53. There is an important feature concerning the basic science of “greenhouse” gas warming which has received little if any notice in most discussions. The question is, how and why does the increasing infrared energy density in the atmosphere get transformed to thermal energy (increased gas temperature)? As I understand it, the fundamental physics of the issue is that the radiative lifetime of greenhouse molecules is much greater than their mean collision times with atmospheric molecules, at least in the troposphere. Thus an excited molecular state created by absorption of an infrared photon is more likely to deexcite by bumping into a nitrogen or oxygen molecule (collisional deexcitation)than by spontaneous radiative emission. This imparts kinetic energy to the nitrogen and oxygen molecules, which of course is the same as increasing the thermal energy of the ensemble. The basic key is in the shorter collisional time compared with the longer radiative lifetime of greenhouse gases. Without this, there would be no “greenhouse” effect. Of course one has to work out the detailed balance of all of the radiative and collisional processes at work in a gas, and indeed this is an important part of the history of atomic and molecular physics.

    [Response: This kind of assumption is essentially wrapped into the assumption of local thermodynamic equilibrium, which is what allows us to use Kirchoff’s Law of Radiation (absorptivity equals emissivity). Most strat/trop climate people hardly ever think of the issue you mention, because once you are using Kirchoff’s Law you don’t have to think about the details of radiative lifetime. In the far upper atmosphere, LTE breaks down and radiative transfer becomes a whole different ball game. The techniques for dealing with radiation in that case are well known to people that work with the exosphere and thermosphere, but there is surprisingly little interaction between that community and folks working further down. I have had to learn something about the far upper atmosphere stuff in order to deal with the problem of atmosphere loss from extrasolar planets, but I’m still working my way up the learning curve there. –raypierre]

    Comment by Richard Schwartz — 13 Jan 2010 @ 10:26 PM

  54. Jerry Steffens, re #48, in your #38 you reference words of mine of #33. To clarify, I was not asking a question; I was attempting to point out that the ocean effect, that I described previously as a control system that attempts to null out the surface temperature, would take heat from the surface and hold it internally in the ocean. In doing so it would lower the surface temperature. This would act to prevent the top of the atmosphere from reaching equilibrium, thus violating the fundamental premise of the modeling.

    Hank Roberts #40, your link shows a clear diagram that shows exactly zero energy going into the ocean. This denies vertical mixing that would draw heat down. And the fallacy of this is my point.

    If heat goes into the ocean this will keep the surface temperature lower and the top of the atmosphere will not reach equilibrium, and yes, the globe will continue to warm up, only the surface temperature will not show it. Under this model, this warming will not stop at a surface temperature point where equilibrium is reached for a given CO2 density.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 13 Jan 2010 @ 10:28 PM

  55. “The way the greenhouse effect really works is that adding CO2 reduces the infrared out the top of the atmosphere, which means the planet receives more solar energy than it is getting rid of as infrared out the top. The only way to bring the system back into balance is for the whole troposphere to warm up. It is the corresponding warming of the low level air that drags the surface temperature along with it.”

    I agree with Ron Taylor. That is clear and concise. The sort of simple idea that “skeptics” might be able to understand. But it made me wonder, if you could to reduce the CO2 level in the lower atmosphere, to the top of the troposphere or stratosphere say, back to the 280 ppm level but kept the situation in the upper atmosphere at the 390 ppm level would it change the warming at the surface much or is it the TOA changes that do all the driving ultimately?

    [Response: I’m not sure if this is what you are getting at, but if you could take all the CO2 in the atmosphere and concentrated it in a layer near the ground (which would be about 2 meters thick) you would eliminate the CO2 greenhouse effect. The atmosphere would then cool down enough that most of the water vapor would be lost, too, and then the oceans would freeze and you would turn into a snowball. Given the strong vertical mixing in the troposphere and the lack of any significant sink of CO2 interior to the atmosphere for Earthlike temperatures, there is no plausible way to maintain such a vertical CO2 gradient, though. It’s still an interesting thought experiment. –raypierre]

    Comment by Dave Werth — 13 Jan 2010 @ 11:46 PM

  56. To 45. And 47.

    He is left-wing because he thinks global-warming is a conspiracy of the Trilateral Commission, a corrupt government/industry think-tank. He writes for and is linked to Project Censored.

    http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/22-obamas-trilateral-commission-team/

    Comment by Robert — 13 Jan 2010 @ 11:49 PM

  57. A bit off topic but I think we are getting hammered by the well publicized cold snaps this winter. You know the extraordinary western European cold snap happening at the same time as the US southest is having a highly anomalous cold snap as well. So it is getting hard to deflect the comments that the whole world has dramatically cooled off. I try to do my part, mentioning that global circulation has equator to pole flows as well as pole to equater flows of heat, and they should be roughly balanced out (i.e. if some regions are experiencing anonalously cold weather others are warm -they just don’t make the news). So in the interest of damage control, I think we need a post about this extraordinary winter. Where are the hot spots, and where are the cold spots? Is the supposedly partial diversion of the gulf stream to west Greenland real? If so is it serious?

    Comment by Thomas — 13 Jan 2010 @ 11:50 PM

  58. “He who knows only his own generation, remains alwas a child”.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 14 Jan 2010 @ 12:16 AM

  59. Talking of communist stooges and the like, his pottiness Chris Monckton is shortly to visit Australia, charging $20 at most locations to hear him talk. I hope he continues with his current rant about how climate change is a communist plot to establish world government.

    It doesn’t take much imagination to see the implausibility of all those Marxist revolutionaries deciding to cease and desist from running countries with nuclear arsenals and become climate scientists instead. Or do you guys keep a few SS20s at the back of the lab?

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 14 Jan 2010 @ 1:50 AM

  60. @#43

    I think the article does have some good points about the urban heat island effect. Maybe man is causing global warming, but in a different way…

    According to the EPA, http://www.epa.gov/hiri/, urban heat island effect can cause temps to increase from 1.8 – 5.4 F in the day and up to 22F at night.

    Does anyone know if there is a global map of where temperature data stations are located [edit]? It would be interesting to see if the models would be any different.

    Maybe corrections have been made for temp stations located near cities, but if they have been, they should be made public so all scientists can be certain how the scientists who have collected their data have arrived at their models and conclusions.

    [Response: All of this stuff has been discussed and researched for decades. See the data here, read about corrections for UHI here, and discussions here. – gavin]

    Comment by Silence — 14 Jan 2010 @ 2:22 AM

  61. raypierre’s response to 37: Yes, I think the complete subject would be heavy going once you put in the math and the complications, like convection. Can you make equations appear like on the old fashioned blackboard in another post and ease us into it gently, please? I am 40 years rusty. Just a tiny bit more could be interesting.

    I thought I saw over 100 comments already. What happened to them?

    [Response: It’s actually not all that complicated. Convection is just handled by adjustment of the temperature profile to an adiabat, not by fluid dynamics. But RealClimate is not really the place for that level of detail. If you want that, you should buy Principles of Planetary Climate when it comes out in June or so :) –raypierre ]

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 14 Jan 2010 @ 2:48 AM

  62. Thomas (57):

    Yep, those damn cold snaps, always at wrong places, eh? :)

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Where-did-global-warming-go-heres-where.html

    Philip Machanick (59):

    What makes it even more funny is that the communist establishment hated everything “environment”, because the economy was mostly oriented towards polluting heavy industry.

    Comment by Molnar — 14 Jan 2010 @ 3:03 AM

  63. Jim Bullis: “Hank Roberts #40, your link shows a clear diagram that shows exactly zero energy going into the ocean. This denies vertical mixing that would draw heat down.”

    It doesn’t deny vertical mixing.

    It just doesn’t take it into account.

    This could be for the same reason we don’t take CO2 sequestration by rock weathering into account for the 100 year forecasts. Over 100 years, it’s not a factor. Indeed, even the same reason why we have a “flat” ruler to measure tabletops rather than a curved one to match the known fact that the earth is a sphere.

    So can you provide any proof that the lack of vertical mixing changes the conclusion?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 Jan 2010 @ 4:18 AM

  64. By the way, I don’t think that your comment in #41 is a particularly good analogy — in your example, the source of energy is INTERNAL(body heat), whereas the source of energy for the earth-atmosphere system is EXTERNAL. A sharp student would be sure to point that out.

    Jerry, quite so… and an even sharper student would point out that the heat becomes internal the moment sunlight is absorbed by the surface. The situation would be just the same (well, except for a myriad of details) if there were no Sun and all of the heat was geothermal.

    Actually there is a lot in common between the study of planetary and stellar atmospheres. Many denialists don’t realize that they’re also trying to abolish most of astrophysics. At least Ian Plimer is explicit about it ;-)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 14 Jan 2010 @ 4:21 AM

  65. Robert @56,
    OK, you obviously are not familiar with LaRouche. He went so far right that he came back around on the extreme left.

    File under nutjob conspiracy theorist.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Jan 2010 @ 5:12 AM

  66. Richard Schwartz@53

    OK, think about it this way. In thermal equilibrium, you tend to have the same amount of energy in all modes of a molecule–translational, vibrational, rotational, etc.–that aren’t frozen out. Now dump some energy into one mode–vibrational. It has to find its way into the other modes, right? The way the excited molecules do so is by imparting energy to molecules with which they collide. Remember, this is a vibrational mode–the atoms are moving wrt the center of mass and so can impart kinetic energy. CO2 has a very long radiative lifetime–about a microsecond, so it is particularly efficient at thermalization.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Jan 2010 @ 5:39 AM

  67. Thanks, CM!

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Jan 2010 @ 5:57 AM

  68. Thomas #57: this picture of December temperature anomalies from http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/index.html is a good answer. Note the mix of abnormally hot (especially Arctic and Greenland) and abnormally cold areas.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 14 Jan 2010 @ 6:28 AM

  69. when do we consider that man-made CO2 forcing became apparent ?

    [Response: It is very difficult technologically to detect the direct effect of CO2 increases on the spectrum of outgoing radiation, but that’s not a particularly critical thing do do as there is essentially no doubt about the basic radiative physics, which can be confirmed perfectly well in laboratory conditions. For observations, the main issues concern detecting cloud feedbacks. The human imprint on temperature (via increase in long-lived greenhouse gases) became detectable between 1970 and 1990. That is a more important confirmation, since it involves water vapor and cloud feedbacks. —raypierre]

    Comment by Bill — 14 Jan 2010 @ 6:31 AM

  70. and how are these latest posts on topic , I would expect to see some consistency….At least I was trying to seek opinion and information from the expertise on here

    Comment by Bill — 14 Jan 2010 @ 6:55 AM

  71. CM — thanks! That really helps!

    I couldn’t get to the Kushner et al. reference. Do you have a citation?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Jan 2010 @ 7:13 AM

  72. Alexandre,

    Thanks for the Fu et al. reference!

    I have extensive tables of CO2 absorption coefficients. You can derive them for 102 bands from the tables of Houghton et al. (“The Physics of Atmospheres,” 2002); I have a set of 54 I basically compressed from his. If you want a simpler (fewer bands) set, Essenhigh (2001) gives the information listed on this web page:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Saturation.html

    Let me know if you want the larger sets. I also have figures for water vapor, ozone, methane, molecular oxygen, and ice and water clouds. Many tables use different units for absorption coefficients, but translating is fairly easy once you know the relevant equations.

    [Response: And I wrote a Python interface to the HITRAN database, which makes it easy to extract coefficients for any gas. That’s one of the bits of software I’m cleaning up for release in connection with Principles of Planetary Climate. It will be on my own web site, as well as the Cambridge University Press web site. –raypierre]

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Jan 2010 @ 7:30 AM

  73. #31 BPL – some studies that may be of assistance, I’ve only glanced over them as yet :

    - “Cooling of the Arctic and Antarctic Polar Stratospheres due to Ozone Depletion” – Randel & Wu 1998
    http://www.met.sjsu.edu/~tesfai/RESULTS/Journals/Randel%20and%20Wu%201999a.pdf

    - “Contributions of External Forcings to Southern Annular Mode Trends” – Arblaster & Meehl 2005
    http://cawcr.gov.au/bmrc/clfor/cfstaff/jma/arblaster_meehl_sam.pdf

    - “Observed poleward expansion of the Hadley circulation since 1979″ – Hu & Fu 2007
    http://hal-insu.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/29/63/53/PDF/acp-7-5229-2007.pdf

    - “A Consistent Poleward Shift of the Storm Tracks in Simulations of 21st Century Climate” – Yin 2005
    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/jyin/IPCC_paper_GRL_Jeff_Yin_final.pdf

    Comment by Dappled Water — 14 Jan 2010 @ 7:43 AM

  74. Sufficiently sublime nuttery transcends right and left. Let’s leave it at that.

    Comment by CM — 14 Jan 2010 @ 8:07 AM

  75. “Bill says:
    14 January 2010 at 6:31 AM

    when do we consider that man-made CO2 forcing became apparent ?”

    I don’t think you consider it apparent and unwilling to accept anything could do so, so the answer could well be “never”.

    In the 80′s there was almost universal rebuttal of AGW as true “because there is no proof there is warming”. Nowadays, you see a lot of posts saying (with the same level of truth: practically none) “nobody denies that it’s warming, just its cause”. That change came about in the 90′s.

    None of those claiming they don’t disagree with the warming trend, just that CO2 caused it haven’t managed to do any work that succeeds in explaining the warming trend however.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 Jan 2010 @ 8:10 AM

  76. Re: #67 and preceding–

    Although this is a repetition: it may also be helpful to refer folks to the AMSU lower-trop values for the year to date, helpfully presented by Roy Spencer. (BTW, I appreciate that he isn’t doing anything to obscure this data on his site, though at present it’s not particularly helpful to the view he wishes to promote.)

    http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps

    I stress that “it’s just weather,” but even the weather doesn’t currently offer support to the “it’s cooling” meme, if you look at the big (ie, global) picture.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 14 Jan 2010 @ 8:14 AM

  77. BPL #71, sorry, messy DOI. Reference follows. Again, you need to check for yourself if this is what you’re looking for; I’m just guessing.

    Kushner, P.J., I.M. Held, and T.L. Delworth, 2001: Southern Hemisphere Atmospheric Circulation Response to Global Warming. J. Climate, 14, 2238–2249.

    Comment by CM — 14 Jan 2010 @ 8:26 AM

  78. Just wanted to bring your attention to this apparently excellent book. For some reason your site maeks the review text as spam.

    BOOK REVIEWED-Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming
    by James Hoggan with & Richard Littlemore

    Comment by Jim Ryan — 14 Jan 2010 @ 9:36 AM

  79. If you want that, you should buy Principles of Planetary Climate when it comes out in June or so

    When I enquired, CUP predicted that it would take about 9 months.

    Questions:

    1. This back-radiation increases because increasing the concentration of a greenhouse gas makes the atmosphere a more efficient emitter of infrared radiation

    This is because the number of radiating centres will have increased. But what about the radiation per greenhouse molecule? If most of this will be from molecules at local thermodyamic equilbrium then this will rise as a result of tropospheric warming. From what you say , Plass has ignored this term because he has held the temperature fixed. Is that significant?

    2. simultaneous satisfaction of the top-of-atmosphere energy budget and surface energy budget, and that in most circumstances it is the top-of-atmosphere budget that plays by far the leading role.

    I don’t quite follow what ‘leading role’ means if both boundary conditions have to be satisfied under steady state conditions. Does this mean that there are some approximate solutions lying around for which only one of the two conditions is satisfied and that these can be compared for accuracy?

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 14 Jan 2010 @ 9:48 AM

  80. Geoff: “I don’t quite follow what ‘leading role’ means”

    The energy has to leave the planet.

    There’s a vacuum in the way, so how the energy gets out is raidation. And that comes from TOA by the definition of TOA.

    You could lose energy by mass loss too (but only the amount of Kinetic Energy the leaving particle takes with it), but I don’t think that’s a big player here.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 Jan 2010 @ 10:40 AM

  81. BPL #72

    I do want the larger set, especially for CO2. If it´s easier to use an email, you can use tiburcio43 -at- gmail -dot- com

    I´m no scientist, I just want to learn more (your website and David Archer´s “offering” have helped here) – and possibly help to inform others.

    Raypierre – I´ll keep an eye on the Cambridge University´s website. Thanks.

    Comment by Alexandre — 14 Jan 2010 @ 10:51 AM

  82. Geoff Wexler wrote in 79:

    I don’t quite follow what ‘leading role’ means if both boundary conditions have to be satisfied under steady state conditions. Does this mean that there are some approximate solutions lying around for which only one of the two conditions is satisfied and that these can be compared for accuracy?

    completely fed up wrote in 80:

    The energy has to leave the planet.

    There’s a vacuum in the way, so how the energy gets out is raidation. And that comes from TOA by the definition of TOA.

    That’s part of it. The other part is that the top of the atmosphere responds first. It cools because less radiation is making it to the top. Then the lower atmosphere warms and expands (remember — the lower atmosphere has a great deal more mass so it will take longer to warm up), then this will cause the outer atmosphere to expand and cool — with additional drag on satellites. We are already picking up some of the latter.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 14 Jan 2010 @ 11:34 AM

  83. My elementary understanding of the basic physics is that increasing atmospheric CO2 results in the TOA shifting upward. (1)Is this because the partial pressure of CO2 at fixed altitude increases?) Then, the increase in the altitude of TOA results in the temperature at TOA being lower thus decreasing the outbound radiation thus warming the planet. If this is fundamentally wrong please correct! (2)There must be a minimal mathematical model that captures these effects qualitatively? (3)What is the precise definition of “TOA”?

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 14 Jan 2010 @ 12:33 PM

  84. regarding the followign email – why would Jones not want you (gavin) to be critical of a paper that he was giving you an advanced look at? on the surface this appears to be one scientist telling another scientist not to look critically at a paper and instead gloss over the errors. surely that is wrong. please clarify.

    http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=883&filename=1211462932.txt

    [Response: You are reading too much into this. Our interest was in the context not the specific content – the relevant blog post is “On buckets and blogs“, pointing out that lots of people who should have known better got the story all wrong. Where did anyone ‘gloss over the errors’? (and what would they even be?). You seem to think that science is some kind of blood sport rather than a collaborative enterprise. It is not. – gavin]

    Comment by gary thompson — 14 Jan 2010 @ 12:51 PM

  85. Jim Ryan, yes–I’ve also reviewed it here. It’s a bit of an eye-opener for those who think that denialism is a spontaneous phenomenon.

    Climate Cover-Up is readily available on Amazon. (There’s a link from the review, even.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 14 Jan 2010 @ 1:03 PM

  86. John, it’s a FAQ; the short answers you get when people retype from memory brief ideas about the answer will always lead you to more questions. Short answers in a blog thread don’t give you the whole picture, they just drag on and on.

    If you read the FAQ at the “Start Here” button, and the first link under Science, you’ll have them all in one place already answered. At least then you can refer to those and specify what part of the explanations you don’t understand — and they can be improved for the next seeker.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jan 2010 @ 1:09 PM

  87. @ 82:

    I’ve been wondering about that:

    “…then this will cause the outer atmosphere to expand and cool — with additional drag on satellites. We are already picking up some of the latter.”

    So on one hand, LEO becomes much less usable, requiring greater emission of some seriously bad rocket exhaust (discounting LOX/LH) to reach higher orbits…

    …but on the other hand, our little problem with space debris (the bulk of which is in LEO) will correct itself, as the tenuous drag of the gasses at that altitude increases.

    Given the nature of many rocket fuel exhausts, the quantities (and concentrations) involved, and how these gasses are introduced into all levels of the atmosphere, this doesn’t seem to be a particularly good trade-off.

    Comment by Jaime Frontero — 14 Jan 2010 @ 1:10 PM

  88. re:82 I would count that more as “it’s more complicated than just TOA lets radiation out because pressure changes at TOA when the lower levels warm up”. The basic stance is still: the TOA has to let the energy go.

    But your detail is correct.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 Jan 2010 @ 1:21 PM

  89. Gavin’s in-line@84 says “You seem to think that science is some kind of blood sport rather than a collaborative enterprise. It is not.”

    I think of it as the most collaborative of blood sports. It certainly is proof that a human activity can be simultaneously very competitive and cooperative.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Jan 2010 @ 1:26 PM

  90. Re: #84 & inline response:

    My take, on the face of it, would be that Gary is suffering from confusion about context: the interest in an advance look was in Gavin and Dr. Mann helping to keep the “take away” message straight in the midst of whatever media interest turned out to occur. Hence I conclude that the offer not to be “critical”–from the email preceding it’s clear there was no request from Dr. Jones to avoid criticism–is meant to apply to media comment, not to normal scientific scrutiny.

    After all, the paper was just about to come out; peer review had taken place already and only a little last minute tinkering with wording was still going on. It was way too late for “scientific” criticism to offer any (pre-publication) benefit. (Of course, “outside” scrutiny really begins upon publication.)

    If I’m misunderstanding this, please correct me.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 14 Jan 2010 @ 2:12 PM

  91. #79, #80 and #82

    Of course the reference to the leading role played by the atmospheric budget at the top of the atmosphere is not problematic e.g. when trying to solve the problem. For example, as explained in the article the radiative imbalance at the surface would be a lousy starting point for a calculation. It could even lead to Plass type errors. Hence the conventional definition of forcing is located at the top of the atmosphere.

    My question was/is based on the juxtaposition of that reference with the earlier one stating that you need to satisfy both boundary conditions [to obtain the steady state solution]. I should imagine that the problem would be indeterminate if only one boundary condition were to be imposed.

    #82 which refers to the dynamics, is interesting, but is already in the article.

    My comment does not refer to the physics but to the maths i.e. to a possible (literal) interpretation of a sentence that appears to state that the solution is more sensitive to the violation of one boundary condition than to the other.

    [Response: It’s true in the mathematical sense that you need to satisfy both boundary conditions. My statement was not meant to imply that you can violate the surface balance condition. What I meant was that you can infer the surface temperature change without knowing much about the details of the surface energy balance. That is so because in most circumstances the coupling between the surface temperature and the lower tropospheric temperature is so tight that the two temperatures simply move in concert. There are exceptions to this, and you can get some modification of warming or cooling through changes in the surface energy budget. The most important example of that occurs when land dries out, eliminating the evaporative cooling term. But over the oceans and moist land, which is most of the planet, you can get a very good estimate of surface temperature changes by just assuming the surface temperature increases with that of the lower troposphere. Quantitative examples are given in my earlier post, “A Busy Week for Water Vapor,” in The Warming Papers, and in the surface budget chapter of Principles of Planetary Climate. Sorry y’all have to wait six to nine months for those, but that’s just the reality of the publishing industry. I thought seriously of just giving the book away for free on the web, but there are important advantages of having a publisher involved, particularly with regard to distribution, quality of the hard copy, and professional layout. All that costs them money, which is accounts for almost all of the cost of CUP books. –raypierre]

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 14 Jan 2010 @ 2:40 PM

  92. #40 Hank Roberts,

    You provided the link here repeated,

    http://chriscolose.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/kiehl4.jpg?w=480&h=350

    It shows zero heat going into the ocean.

    Is there not some curiosity about how the increased ocean heat content of 10×10^22J could have occurred over the last 25 years or so with zero heat going into the oceans? The heat content increase is shown at:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/updates-to-model-data-comparisons/

    Teacher Jerry Steffns (#38), what’s wrong with this picture?

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Jan 2010 @ 2:46 PM

  93. 86: Hank, the first link under science is the IPCC report. Presumably you meant something else?

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 14 Jan 2010 @ 2:55 PM

  94. Interesting article, but why not mention of the satellite that wasn’t launched, or discussion of current plans – rumor has it that Triana/DSCVR was taken out of mothballs and prepped for launch in November (ten years late)?

    That’s related to this comment plus response:

    How reliable and detailed are our measurements of top-of-atmosphere energy budget? Can we say for certain that the Earth has been consistently receiving more energy than it radiates away to space in recent years or decades? … Comment by Icarus — 13 January 2010

    [Response: The satellite TOA budgets are not yet accurate enough to do this sort of thing, or at least not stable enough over time. Hansen argues that monitoring the ocean heat storage is a more feasible way to get at the same issue, since the atmosphere itself comes into equilibrium quickly, so that most of the TOA imbalance is reflected in changes in the ocean heat storage... --raypierre]

    Obviously, parking that satellite out at L1 would give real-time measurements of radiation balance, solar output, and so on, and would have given us a nice ten-year record of the Earth’s radiation budget. I know you guys are not unaware of this – but why no mention?

    Is it because this failure to launch is yet another example of institutional failure in the U.S. scientific community? One largely due to the politicization of science by corporate fossil fuel interests and their paid-off politicians – although that wouldn’t be possible without the compliance of numerous fellow travelers in academic positions, would it?

    Yes, it’s a touchy topic, I know.

    P.S. “Icarus” & Gigner – the Greeks didn’t know about the vertical thermal structure of the atmosphere – in fact, you’d crash because the wax would freeze up and lose elasticity, cause the wings to crack – not due to melting.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 14 Jan 2010 @ 3:13 PM

  95. > blood sport

    Beloved of bloggers and their audiences (grin).

    For your amusement:

    ___________
    “…. my Climategate posting has been chosen as one of the “50 Best Science Blogging Posts of the Year”* by an elite cabal ….

    Just to be clear: we’re talking about that rant in which I claimed that science depends at least partially on the pettiness and vindictiveness of scientists, and in which I proclaimed my fond desire to see the Pope immersed in nitric acid. One of the best science posts of the year, tube-wide.

    I don’t understand it. I write about space vampires. I haven’t published a peer-reviewed technical paper in more than a decade. And yet, these troublesome vestiges of credibility continue to haunt me….”

    — Peter Watts
    http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=1002
    —————
    * http://scienceblogs.com/neurotopia/2010/01/announcing_open_lab_2009.php#more

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jan 2010 @ 3:40 PM

  96. That’s part of it. The other part is that the top of the atmosphere responds first. It cools because less radiation is making it to the top. Then the lower atmosphere warms and expands (remember — the lower atmosphere has a great deal more mass so it will take longer to warm up), then this will cause the outer atmosphere to expand and cool — with additional drag on satellites. We are already picking up some of the latter.

    Actually, no. The “top of atmosphere” in the greenhouse sense is just a few km up, while satellites move at 200 km and up. The temperature, and thus scale height, of that part of the atmosphere is sensitively controlled by Solar activity: when there are lots of sunspots, there will also be features like faculae and flares that emit in the far UV and X-ray part of the spectrum. This is absorbed in the higher atmosphere, causing it to heat up and ionize (the ionosphere). After a Solar eruption this part of the atmosphere will bulge out, causing increased drag on low satellites which is immediately visible in the tracking data.

    Actually I had hoped that the Sun would have remained quiet for a longer time, to give the GOCE satellite a longer lifetime… no such luck, it seems :-(

    These processes are largely (but perhaps not entirely) decoupled from the greenhouse thingy. The amounts of energy involved are small by comparison due to the extreme rarefiedness of the air up there.

    [Response: Yes, the “Top of atmosphere” nomenclature just means we are referring to the radiation that escapes to space, or enters from space. The radiation itself escapes to space from a “radiating level” — more precisely a spread of radiating levels different for each wavelength. The radiating levels are for the most part down were that atmosphere is still pretty dense, specifically the troposphere and stratosphere. The “radiating level” is the infrared equivalent of the photosphere of the Sun. The interior of the Sun may be many millions of degrees, but the Sun radiates in the visible spectrum (with a color temperature of around 6000K) because that’s the temperature of the layer from which begins to become transparent enough for photons to escape from. –raypierre]

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 14 Jan 2010 @ 3:53 PM

  97. gary thompson says: 14 January 2010 at 12:51 PM

    You have -got- to be kidding. “eastangliaemails.com?” There’s an actual web site all about sifting through dust? People are spending their days dredging through a bunch of years-old emails, hoping to tease out some kind of thrill?

    It beggars belief.

    I don’t suppose it’s any use suggesting you pause, step back, consider how you’ve reached this point, how you’ve been led to spend your time in Talmudic scholarship over a bunch of ancient email?

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 14 Jan 2010 @ 4:30 PM

  98. 91: Geoff wrote: “I should imagine that the problem would be indeterminate if only one boundary condition were to be imposed. ”

    Isn’t there a super-idealized model somewhere that we can look so that we wouldn’t have to imagine anything?

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 14 Jan 2010 @ 4:31 PM

  99. Jim Bullis, you’re misreading the picture.
    > http://chriscolose.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/kiehl4.jpg?w=480&h=350
    > It shows zero heat going into the ocean.

    No, that’s not correct. Remember you do need to read the article along with the image to get the picture.

    The ocean and the land are both “surface” — not being transparent, the surface is absorbing incoming photons.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jan 2010 @ 4:33 PM

  100. John, I should have said the first link under:
    Science Links
    AIP:Discovery of Glob. Warm.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jan 2010 @ 4:35 PM

  101. PS, for Jim and anyone having trouble with that picture:

    http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/an-update-to-kiehl-and-trenberth-1997/ (discussion before publication)

    Published:

    EARTH’S GLOBAL ENERGY BUDGET
    BY KEVIN E. TRENBERTH, JOHN T. FASULLO, AND JEFFREY KIEHL

    An update of the Earth’s global annual mean energy budget is given in the light of new observations and analyses. Changes over time and contributions from the land and ocean domains are also detailed.

    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/trenberth.papers/TFK_bams09.pdf

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jan 2010 @ 4:52 PM

  102. 100: I’ve read a fair bit of Weart’s site. I gave his book to my son for Christmas. I think the picture I sketched is essentially what Timothy Chase wrote in 82 except my reading of Chase’s comment made it sound as if he was describing a fixed TOA elevation. I thought it was also about what Ray Pierre described in the article that started this thread although there is plenty I’m not clear on. What I’d really like to see is a simple model of the sort that you might expect to find in Haliday and Resnick. Then one wouldn’t have to wonder exactly what was meant. I believe that would also answer the boundary condition stuff that Geoff Wexler was wondering about above. Barton’s saturation page comes close, but I don’t think it contains the change in radiation at the TOA (unless I missed it). I presume that such a model exists in some atmospheric physics book somewhere?

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 14 Jan 2010 @ 5:18 PM

  103. The author of the piece referred to in 43 above is a right wing conspiracy theorist. One of the organisations that he heads: Environmental Perspectives Inc. argues that environmentalists and proponents of AGW are plotting to impose world government and paganism. On the website of his other organisatoin -Sovereignity International- you czn watch a clip of Lord Monkton explaiing how the ex-commies who now run the green movement are going to use the Copenhagen ‘Treaty’,which he has read,to impose world government on us. “I was blinded by the light” as Manfred Mann used to sing.

    Comment by Paul Harris — 14 Jan 2010 @ 5:44 PM

  104. Raypierre, is Principles of Planetary Climate scheduled for Australian publication? (I think we have some sort of protectionism here to support local printing.) If not I’ll look out for it in Amazon.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 14 Jan 2010 @ 5:48 PM

  105. 101 Hank Roberts,

    Thanks for the added info.

    I added 494 and -493 and got zero. For this kind of numbers that is a correct answer.

    However, I note that there is a .9 W/m^2 of heat going into the surface, and this is average for land and sea. That would still be zero in a reasonable analysis. Especially when trying to account for heat uptake by the oceans of 10×10^23J as indicated by the NOAA chart I referenced earlier.

    [Response: Why? It is an estimate of the net uptake of heat in the ocean over the most recent decade. It is very unlikely to be zero. – gavin]

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Jan 2010 @ 5:57 PM

  106. #63 Completelyfedup

    I may have confused the matter by talking about “vertical mixing” without noting that I refer to vertical mixing in the ocean.

    I guess your curved ruler story is saying that the heat going into the ocean is negligible. That is a curious comment in the face of 10×10^23J going there over twenty years.

    Reference for that number is the NOAA chart in the Dec 28 2009 post here at realclimate. It is my conclusion that this heat into the ocean is enabled by vertical water motion that would carry heat of that magnitude down to lower levels. That vertical water motion acts to a depth that is a function of wave height which is a function of wind which is a function of temperature at the surface. Are these things in question?

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Jan 2010 @ 6:14 PM

  107. 56: Minor point but Michael Coffman does _not_ write for Project Censored. Coffman is a straight up fundamentalist Christian endtimer, a denier, a winger, and a propagandist for hire. Coffman is an environmentalist only to, in his words, warn people of the “dangers of the environmental movement and how false environmental catastrophes like global warming are being used to justify the need for world government and a pantheistic-based…religion.”

    The link on the Project Censored page is to the August Review and, yes, August Review did recently publish a Coffman article that’s pretty standard denier fare. And, yes, the August Review has a thing for the Trilateral Commission that might extend to their views on global warming. Coffman seems to be peddling this, um, theory in some of his other writings but Project Censored certainly doesn’t suggest that “global-warming is a conspiracy of the Trilateral Commission”

    Project Censored is a mostly written by college journalism students as part of a class project. Sometimes it’s interesting and on target. Sometimes it suffers from being written by younger writers. However, it’s not terribly ideological–except to the extent that reality tilts left. I hate to see Project Censored tarred by the false accusation that they published, or approved of, a Michael Coffman article.

    Comment by marlys — 14 Jan 2010 @ 6:22 PM

  108. Jim Bullis

    .9 watts per square meter times how many square meters?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jan 2010 @ 6:45 PM

  109. More for Jim:

    > into the ocean is enabled by vertical water motion

    But not everywhere, there’s far more lateral motion if you’re measuring distance traveled. Thermohaline circulation–>areas where water sinks, after heat transfer and mixing, other areas of upwelling.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jan 2010 @ 6:48 PM

  110. Does the change in spectral characteristics from water vapor to liquid/ice in clouds(~60nm shift according to wikipedia) increase the back radiation by filling clear air spectral gaps? How much of the heat of condensation/freezing gets radiated back to the surface, and if there’s more latent heat transport, does that change the balance? Is H2O vapor + CO2 plus clouds a stronger greenhouse than just H2O vapor + CO2?

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 14 Jan 2010 @ 7:11 PM

  111. #97 Doug B,

    Gary’s dilemma was illustrated quite well in Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’ in the conflict between the ‘Cult of the Shoe’ and the ‘Cult of the Gourd’.

    Comment by Brian Brademeyer — 14 Jan 2010 @ 7:43 PM

  112. Re gavin comment at #105

    Exactly my point. I am trying to show that the chart referenced in #101 is wrong because it shows virtually zero heat going into the ocean.

    It is very hard to actually find out what the climate models include. Apparently others have this problem as well.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Jan 2010 @ 8:10 PM

  113. A question I keep getting asked by a “skeptic” is where can you find the basic theory of CO_2 warming (at quantum physics level, not a higher-level model). My suspicion is he is going to need to read a book but if anyone has a shorter reference, I’d like to hear about it. Meantime I am going to refer him to Raypierre’s book (and possibly dig out some of the text books it references from my draft copy, since it’s not available any more until it’s published).

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 14 Jan 2010 @ 8:20 PM

  114. “Why? It is an estimate of the net uptake of heat in the ocean over the most recent decade. It is very unlikely to be zero. – gavin”

    Look at UAH?

    http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/execute.csh?amsutemps+002

    The current daily anomaly is the highest in their available records and just gone above the monthly peak of 1998. It looks like a lot of that energy stored in the oceans is currently being released.

    [Response: That’s not really how it works. The global warming post an El Niño event is mostly from the changes in water vapour and cloud cover that alter the radiative balance, not just because heat is coming out of the ocean in the East Pacific (it is actually going into the ocean elsewhere for instance). I recall seeing a paper looking at this in more detail, but I don’t recall the authors…. – gavin]

    Comment by Tom P — 14 Jan 2010 @ 8:50 PM

  115. Ray,

    Thanks for the answer. I do know that CO2 is well mixed in the atmosphere and that my idea was only a thought experiment. I was just wondering how much the CO2 level in the lower atmosphere matters* compared to how much it matters at the TOA relative to the ultimate surface temperature we see. If I use it in arguments with my skeptical friends and relatives I want to be accurate.

    *Of course lower atmosphere CO2 levels matter for things like ocean acidification.

    Comment by Dave Werth — 14 Jan 2010 @ 9:34 PM

  116. Funny how Coffman and Cockburn, ideologues of the so-called “left” and the “right”, join hands over the theme that climate science is really hiding an agenda for a communist world takeover (Coffman) or a fascist world takeover (Cockburn) – but then, maybe it’s just a puppet show… the most likely conclusion.

    As far as the direction that reality tilts in, notice that our universe is three-dimensional, not one-dimensional – as the left-right dichotomy would have it… though, interesting to note, a circle, viewed under a microscope appears linear… but as Coffman & Cockburn so neatly demonstrate, on a circle, if you move all the way to the left, you end up on the right… Let me guess – a secret non-aggression pact?

    Notice also that Plass didn’t include water vapor feedbacks in his calculations, as Gavin writes in the last post:

    However, Plass was well aware that the ‘no-feedback’ case was unrealistic and estimated that the water vapour, cloud and ice-albedo feedbacks would be amplifying, although he was not able to quantify them…

    Today, the water vapor effect seems to be fairly well-understood quantitatively, after:

    Science 26 April 2002:
    Vol. 296. no. 5568, pp. 727 – 730

    Global Cooling After the Eruption of Mount Pinatubo: A Test of Climate Feedback by Water Vapor

    Brian J. Soden, Richard T. Wetherald, Georgiy L. Stenchikov, Alan Robock

    The sensitivity of Earth’s climate to an external radiative forcing depends critically on the response of water vapor. We use the global cooling and drying of the atmosphere that was observed after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo to test model predictions of the climate feedback from water vapor. Here, we first highlight the success of the model in reproducing the observed drying after the volcanic eruption. Then, by comparing model simulations with and without water vapor feedback, we demonstrate the importance of the atmospheric drying in amplifying the temperature change and show that, without the strong positive feedback from water vapor, the model is unable to reproduce the observed cooling. These results provide quantitative evidence of the reliability of water vapor feedback in current climate models, which is crucial to their use for global warming projections.

    As far as classic papers, Manabe & Moller 1961 is worth plugging again – that’s one of the first to include the things left out by Plass & Kaplan:

    http://www.atmosp.physics.utoronto.ca/people/guido/PHY2502/articles/rad-convec/Manabe_Moller_1961.pdf

    Comment by Ike Solem — 14 Jan 2010 @ 10:00 PM

  117. Dave Werth, two points to be made:

    1) So often such “thought experiments” come from people who, it later turns out aren’t thinking (see Septic Matt and Tilo for examples)

    2) If you don’t have CO2 in the lower part, then the CO2 will be less and the CO2 will diffuse out from the upper to lower atmosphere, reducing upper CO2.

    Rather like asking whether the foundations and ground floor of a block of flats really makes a difference, since nobody lives there apart from the curator.

    Sorry, three points

    3) your “skeptical” friends probably don’t want to know, so absolute accuracy isn’t needed from you. If they want the accurate, they can read the IPCC reports.

    4) and a fanatical devotion to the pope.

    sorry, wrong sketch.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Jan 2010 @ 4:06 AM

  118. Jim Bullis: “Exactly my point. I am trying to show that the chart referenced in #101 is wrong because it shows virtually zero heat going into the ocean.”

    That isn’t a point, Jim. It’s begging the question: is there net heat going in to the ocean?

    If it is, then what is the wattage (this means, since the other elements are measured in watts per square meter) per square meter?

    Net.

    And how does it compare to the insolation on the earth’s surface?

    If this is, say, as high as 1W/m2 then it makes no difference to the overall picture and its conclusion.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Jan 2010 @ 4:09 AM

  119. Jim:
    “That is a curious comment in the face of 10×10^23J going there over twenty years.”

    That is a curious comment given that there isn’t anyone who integrates power over 20 years.

    Why did the scientists go over and produce the “Watt” as a joule per second if 20 years was the natural period to accumulate power..?

    Did you do that to BS with Big Numbers like Rod B (who is strangely silent when you’re doing it as opposed to Ray)?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Jan 2010 @ 4:14 AM

  120. #98

    Isn’t there a super-idealized model

    If you go to
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svante_Arrhenius

    and scroll down to 1896b in the Bibliography you can download the paper mentioned by Raypierre. The two boundary conditions are Eq.1 and Eq. 2. If you discard either of them you cannot determine either of the unknowns theta and T.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 15 Jan 2010 @ 5:40 AM

  121. Oh, God bless you, Raypierre, that sounds wonderful! I tried downloading the HITRAN database once and manipulating it myself, but I made a hash of it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 15 Jan 2010 @ 5:47 AM

  122. Dappled Water,

    Thanks! These are great references!

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 15 Jan 2010 @ 5:48 AM

  123. Raypierre

    Many thanks for your helpful reply. I am beginning to understand, and I hope the other references , e.g. the surface energy budget chapter of your book will provide the detail.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 15 Jan 2010 @ 5:53 AM

  124. Translating the NOAA number cited by Jim Bullis.

    10*10^23J works out to a W/m^2 figure once you have terms for:
    time (20 years = 6.31*10^8 s) and
    surface area of the ocean (per wiki, 3.61*10^14 m^2)

    multiplying these together gives 2.277*10^23 for your divisor.

    Handily the exponents cancel out, so 10/2.277 gives you 4.4 W/m^2. This is ~5 times the net surface absorbance given in that earth system schematic, so either I’ve mucked something up or there’s a complicating factor that is missing.

    Regards
    Luke

    Comment by Luke Silburn — 15 Jan 2010 @ 6:35 AM

  125. Thanks again, CM!

    Alexandre, I emailed you the coefficients from my band scheme. There are 55 bands, 23 “shortwave” and 32 “longwave.” I treat them together, which is inefficient, but I was going for clarity of algorithm over efficiency.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 15 Jan 2010 @ 6:54 AM

  126. Peter Watts,

    I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure immersing the Pope in nitric acid is a violation of canon law.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 15 Jan 2010 @ 7:08 AM

  127. Philip,

    At the atomic level, because electron orbitals are quantized, atoms can only absorb or emit photons at discrete frequencies (smeared out by uncertainty, etc.). Your CO2 absorbs an infrared photon, one of its electrons jumps a level, and it either radiates another photon of the same level, or more likely, crashes into a nearby nitrogen or oxygen molecule and transfers some of the new stuff as kinetic energy. Temperature is a measure of kinetic energy at the molecular level; the faster the molecules jiggle, the hotter the object. Thus the atmosphere warms up. Those collisions transfer energy *back* to the CO2, which radiates by the (wavelength-specific) Stefan-Boltzmann law. Some of the energy goes back down to the surface and heats it above what it would be from sunlight alone.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 15 Jan 2010 @ 7:15 AM

  128. > 105, 112
    > I am trying to show that the chart referenced in #101 is wrong
    > because it shows virtually zero heat going into the ocean. –Jim Bullis

    Jim, please–read the text labels on the picture. The surface is what’s below the atmosphere: land and water, blue and brown.

    Read the paper.

    Right at the top in the hilighted area:
    “Changes over time and contributions from the land and ocean domains are also detailed.”

    Right in the beginning section:
    “The transmitted radiation is then either absorbed or reflected at the Earth’s surface. Radiant solar or shortwave energy is transformed into sensible heat, latent energy (involving different water states), potential energy, and kinetic energy before being emitted as longwave radiant energy. Energy may be stored for some time, transported in various forms, and converted among the different types, giving rise to a rich variety of weather or turbulent phenomena in the atmosphere and ocean.”

    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/trenberth.papers/TFK_bams09.pdf

    You can look it up. Don’t trust me, read the source.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jan 2010 @ 8:56 AM

  129. I understand that the greenhouse effect warms the planet because greenhouse gases raise the altitude at which the Earth radiates energy into space. Because temperature decreases with altitude, this causes less energy to be radiated, and more energy retained by the Earth. But at the stratosphere temperature starts increasing with altitude. My question is at what level of carbon dioxide will the warming effect be reduced by raising the radiating altitude into the stratosphere?

    [Response: This never happens. As you add more CO2, the stratosphere moves higher up, too. Venus has 300,000 times as much CO2 in its atmosphere as Earth and still hasn’t exhausted its capability to get more greenhouse effect out of CO2. The stratosphere has moved up to where it is under 1% of the mass of the atmosphere. –raypierre]

    Also, following up on a previous discussion, how much carbon dioxide is required to lead to a runaway greenhouse effect?

    [Response: The answer is surprising, but the runaway greenhouse is determined by the solar constant and the planet’s gravity. Adding CO2 in general will never trigger a runaway if the other conditions are not right. That’s because water vapor dominates the atmospheric infrared opacity in a runaway state. There are some marginal states where adding CO2 can push things over the brink, but the Earth is nowhere near that. I’m not sure Jim Hansen understands this. To be fair, there is virtually no understanding of the way clouds affect the runaway greenhouse. –raypierre]

    Comment by Blair Dowden — 15 Jan 2010 @ 9:10 AM

  130. re: in-line response 114:

    The forgotten authors might be Trenberth et al; I’d perused some papers from him about ENSO. The paper in question might not be JGR-Atmosphere 2002, DOI: 10.1029/2000JD000298, but should at least cite it.

    Comment by tharanga — 15 Jan 2010 @ 9:26 AM

  131. Re: #127 BPL

    Sorry to be pedantic but “one of its electrons jumps a level” is not quite right. In the case of a vibrational level, the excitation energy is probably equally divided between the motion of heavy nuclei (C and O) and the stretching and compression of covalent chemical bonds. It is true that the latter involves a change of electronic configurations but that is not correctly described by anything happening to one of its electrons.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 15 Jan 2010 @ 10:49 AM

  132. BPL, A nit. The state excited by IR in CO2 is vibrational, so you are looking at harmonic oscillation of the atoms–still quantized, but the HO rather than electron energy levels.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Jan 2010 @ 10:50 AM

  133. Oops. Been a while since my intro chem class at CMU. Sorry about that.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 15 Jan 2010 @ 10:55 AM

  134. 120: Geoff, thanks. I see what you’re saying although I was hoping for something a bit different. I think
    that Arrhenius’ work was vulnerable to saturation arguments since it had only a single layer of atmosphere. There is this simple picture (my version of the simple picture is in post 83 which I think is what I’ve read). There must be a minimal model that goes with that picture, which gives the right qualitative behavior for radiation from the top of atmosphere and the concentration of atmospheric CO2. I am thinking of something which doesn’t have a zillion absorption bands etc. By minimal I mean; toss out any piece of it and it fails. From what I can tell, the climate scientists have a fairly concrete picture in mind and presumably this simple picture has been turned into a simple mathematical model like you might find in an undergraduate physics text? Perhaps its so standard that no one can believe my ignorance or so obvious or useless it isn’t worth writing down. Still it seems like such a model would be useful pedagogically, but that’s just me.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 15 Jan 2010 @ 11:25 AM

  135. @129, you asked: “My question is at what level of carbon dioxide will the warming effect be reduced by raising the radiating altitude into the stratosphere?”

    Never. It’s a losing game. You mistake the highly wavelength dependent opacity of CO2 for one that is gray and narrowly confined to a band in wavelength. Every wavelength at which earth’s atmosphere is optically thick will escape at its own characteristic height in the atmosphere. Keep pumping up the CO2, and the number of watts/m^2 that radiates into space will continue (in net) to go down. In the face of the resulting rise in temperature of the troposphere, a lot more water vapor will find its way there and add further to the atmospheric IR-opacity. And of course you can’t expect that the temperature profiles within the troposphere and stratosphere to remain as they are today.

    Now, if you asked “when does the strongest emitting band of C02, which is centered near 15 microns, find its effective emitting layer in the stratosphere?” Playing around with David Archer’s online Modtran program, this occurs for C02 concentrations exceeding ~20 ppm (all else being equal).

    At least that’s *my* understanding; the experts may correct me.

    Comment by Spaceman Spiff — 15 Jan 2010 @ 11:28 AM

  136. JEP: “I think that Arrhenius’ work was vulnerable to saturation arguments since it had only a single layer of atmosphere. ”

    This is not a new thought:
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm

    Quote:

    Experts could dismiss the hypothesis because they found Arrhenius’s calculation implausible on many grounds.

    The logic is rather simple once it is grasped, but it takes a new way of looking at the atmosphere — not as a single slab, like the gas in Koch’s tube (or the glass over a greenhouse), but as a set of interacting layers.

    And scientists were coming to see that you couldn’t just calculate absorption for radiation passing through the atmosphere as a whole, you had to understand what happened in each layer — which was far harder to calculate.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Jan 2010 @ 11:35 AM

  137. Geoff, you’ll have to forgive the “jumping up/down” of electrons in levels or orbit when discussing energy states of atoms and molecules from most folks.

    Excitement due to energy is taught in beginning courses (even at the college level) as electrons hopping about to higher and lower orbits – or at least was in the early 1980′s. :)

    The “pocket physics” demonstration I used to teach my son about both convection and Brownian motion is to gently pour some creamer into a hot cup of coffee. The creamer goes straight to the bottom, being cooler, but warms, climbing up in the center (following the natural convection within the coffee cooling around the sides of the cup), until it reaches heat equilibrium. At that point Mr. Brown takes over and diffusion happens from all that bouncing against each other.

    Of course there is just the physical mixing when an eight year old gets tired of lectures and puts the spoon in.

    Anyhow, I was talking to my (now) teenager about energy loss through radiation into space, and we revisted the coffee cup, and I was very pleased to see a light bulb go off in his head; I just hope it wasn’t the wrong color and I lead him to the wrong conclusions.

    We postulated the the planet either deflects or radiates more energy than it retains from the sun’s output to us, and is probably pretty inefficient at holding on to that energy.

    The greenhouse effect is more about retaining the gained energy introduced by the sun (we ignored warming of the crust by the mantle as the agreed assumption was it is a constant) by creating a better mixture of gases to increase efficiency. Or so we reasoned.

    CO2 isn’t the best GHG in efficiency, but the sheer amount of it in the atmosphere makes it an effective one; I suspect, however, that the levels required to generate a “runaway” greenhouse world would be impossible to achieve.

    Being both lazy and short of time to do the research, is the radiative properties of the upper atmosphere as sensitive to the relative composition of the gas there as it is to heat retention in the lower atmosphere?

    Comment by Frank Giger — 15 Jan 2010 @ 12:16 PM

  138. Re 129: Thanks, raypierre. But why does the stratosphere move up with more CO2? Burning carbon replaces O2 with CO2, so the atmosphere does not gain more molecules. Does a warmer troposphere raise the boundary, so the stratosphere becomes smaller, or at least loses mass?

    Comment by Blair Dowden — 15 Jan 2010 @ 12:17 PM

  139. 116- As a leftist, Cockburn makes a fool of himself. Most on the left (as they tend to be more educated – with some crazy exceptions like Cockburn) are on the side of science, though. It is misleading to frame this as a left vs right issue, although it is not a coincidence that most of Palin’s partisans believe human induced climate change is a hoax or an alarmist story to benefit “green research.” I prefer to frame it as science vs. anti-science.

    Comment by Nelson — 15 Jan 2010 @ 12:36 PM

  140. 136: Fed Up: I wasn’t claiming that Arrhenuis work being vulnerable to saturation was a new thought. I was trying to explain that I would like to see a minimal model that is not vulnerable to saturation arguements. I keep hearing climate guys making this beautiful argument about radiation from the top of atmosphere that I tried to sketch in 83 and that others in this thread have discussed as well but basically it boils down to adding CO2 is equivalent to getting a thicker down comforter. I figure there must be a minimal model that corresponds to that picture and that it is probably in a book/article somewhere.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 15 Jan 2010 @ 1:04 PM

  141. ” Blair Dowden says:
    15 January 2010 at 12:17 PM

    Re 129: Thanks, raypierre. But why does the stratosphere move up with more CO2? ”

    Try reading the posts again.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/01/plass-and-the-surface-budget-fallacy/comment-page-2/#comment-154548

    Post 82. This thread.

    If anyone wonders why I picked that monicker, see Blair’s post…

    [Response: The simple answer is that adding CO2 cools the stratosphere by increasing the infrared cooling, which makes it less stable and allows the tropospheric convection to reach to higher levels. That sounds pretty plausible, but it’s not as inevitable as it sounds, because the stratospheric cooling competes with other effects. It is possible to concoct a hypothetical gas for which the stratosphere becomes thicker (the tropopause approaches the ground) as more greenhouse gas is added, but I don’t know of any actual gases that behave this way. There is some discussion of this in Ramanathan’s paper where he rediscovers Sagan’s window-grey model without knowing Sagan did it first, but it’s not widely known. So I put it in Chapter 4 of Principles. –raypierre]

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Jan 2010 @ 1:06 PM

  142. re #65 Ray Ladbury (nearly OT)

    LaRouche

    He went so far right that he came back around on the extreme left.

    Correction: Apply a time reversal. There is long article about him on Wikipedia. His attacks on global warming science should be seen in the context of his (his movement’s) accusation that the UK Queen was involved in drugs and the Omaha City Bombing was part of a British plot. But for some reason he has been keen on fusion power.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 15 Jan 2010 @ 1:30 PM

  143. Raypierre

    Regards your reply to Blair Dowden #129, in your own paper you describe recovery from a snowball earth. Isn’t it the current hypothesis that volcanic CO2 emissions built up over millions of years which could not be drawn down since the carbonate silicate cycle was stuck because the oceans were frozen over and there was no water vapor?

    But when the ice started melting, wouldn’t that have caused a hellaceous hot house? And even then the climate didn’t runaway. Of course the sun was cooler then.

    Pierrehumbert RT 2005: Climate dynamics of a hard snowball Earth. J. Geophys Res — Atmospheres. 110(D1) D01111 doi:10.1029/2004JD005162

    Also I’ve read a bit of your book from your web site and cannot wait to purchase the published version. Thanks for all your work.

    best regards

    Tony

    Comment by Tony Noerpel — 15 Jan 2010 @ 1:38 PM

  144. #129
    Raypierre’s 2nd response; penultimate sentence. Is it possible to provide a reference please?

    [Response: I could point you to Kasting’s paper on Early Venus, which actually covers the relevant physics, but the point I was making would not be understandable to most people since he doesn’t make it explicit. Hate to be a stuck record here, but the only place I know that really discusses this particular issue clearly is Chapter 4 of Principles of Planetary Climate. Given Hansen’s claims about a runaway being a “dead-cert” if we burn all the coal, I might try to work something about this into the NRC Carbon Stabilization report, but it’s not at the heart of what we are trying to do there. I haven’t written anything peer-reviewed about the effect of clouds on a runaway, but that’s in the works for the next few years. –raypierre]

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 15 Jan 2010 @ 1:54 PM

  145. “But when the ice started melting, wouldn’t that have caused a hellaceous hot house?”

    When ice melts, it goes to a liquid phase which isn’t a greenhouse gas…

    [Response: It does cause a helllaceous hothouse, not because of the liquid water, but because the melting ice gives you low albedo but you still have the high CO2. The land temperatures get pretty hellaceous, but the maximum ocean temperature stays around 320K. See the discussion in the EPSL paper by LeHir, Donnadieu and myself. I think I put a copy on my publication page on my web site. –raypierre]

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Jan 2010 @ 2:24 PM

  146. “I was trying to explain that I would like to see a minimal model that is not vulnerable to saturation arguements”

    Do you see the topic of this thread?

    Plass’ model doesn’t suffer from that problem.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Jan 2010 @ 2:25 PM

  147. > … But for some reason he has been keen on fusion power.
    Rich fantasy life.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jan 2010 @ 2:33 PM

  148. 146: Fed wrote: “Do you see the topic of this thread? Plass’ model doesn’t suffer from that problem.”

    So you claim that Plass’ model contains the minimum complexity required to understand the bare bones physics of global warming? The last time I tried to read that paper I found it really tough going and asked Gavin to explain it to me. IN fact I think that exchange might be where Gavin learned about Plass’ paper. IN any event, Plass’ paper is a hell of a long way from my idea of a minimal model. A minimal model is one in which if you get rid of any piece of the model the effect you’re modeling goes away. It’s been 3 years since I looked at Plass’ paper but I seem to recall that Plass considered the detailed absorption spectrum of CO2. That can’t possibly be needed to obtain the qualitative picture that I keep hearing. Physics is full of over idealized models two-level atoms etc. They’re useful. I keep hearing this simple explanation that doesn’t invoke anywhere near the level of complexity that Plass dealt with. That’s what I’m asking for. Has no one done this?

    [Response: There are all sorts of minimal models which people have done, depending on the use. If you want to connect climate change to a specific CO2 concentration, then the sort of detailed radiative physics in Plass is unavoidable. It can be boiled down to a simple statement that the effect of CO2 on the outgoing infrared radiation is logarithmic in CO2 concentration, but you can’t derive that without the detailed spectrally resolved kind of calculation done by Plass. If you are only interested in a general calculation of how atmospheric infrared opacity, in conjunction with convection, increases the temperature of the surface, then the minimal model is the “all troposphere” grey model I discuss in about one page of Chapter 3 of Principles of Planetary Climate. It is elaborated more precisely in the discussion of the grey-gas all-troposphere model in Ch. 4. That reasoning has been discussed many places (including the first edition of Goody’s radiation book which we repeated in the IPCC TAR), but an awful lot of textbooks are kind of mushy on these things. That’s the frustration that led me to embark on writing Principles. –raypierre]

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 15 Jan 2010 @ 3:03 PM

  149. 109 Hank Roberts

    Ok, I use earth area as 5.1×10^14 m^2 and there are 6.3×10^8 seconds in 20 years so for .9 W/m^2, I get 2.89×10^23 Joules due to supposed .9 W/m^2 going into the oceans. This is about .3 times the 10×10^23 Joules indicated by the NOAA chart (see Dec 28, 09 post here at RC).

    So according to this, the world surface had to take in 3.46 times .9 W/m^2 over that twenty years, or about 3.1 W/m^2

    It seems that the heat that actually went into the ocean came from the heat in the atmosphere, and thus would reduce atmospheric temperature. The temperature data suggests that this should be the case.

    From raypierre’s statement in the article here posted, it sounds like the ocean part in bringing the system back into balance is ignored. Probably rahpierre was simplifying, and that is not the case, but it sounds like the prevailing consensus number is .9 W/m^2 and the data from NOAA now indicates that this is too low. I continue to wonder if the mechanism by which the ocean takes on heat is not adequately treated in the modeling.

    Raypierre’s statement that I refer to:
    ((exactly pasted)
    The way the greenhouse effect really works is that adding CO2 reduces the infrared out the top of the atmosphere, which means the planet receives more solar energy than it is getting rid of as infrared out the top. The only way to bring the system back into balance is for the whole troposphere to warm up. It is the corresponding warming of the low level air that drags the surface temperature along with it (end paste))

    124 Luke Silburn,

    Thanks for your help on this. Your answer agrees with mine if you use the whole earth area rather than just the ocean area. (I use earth area based on the old French definition of the meter where 10 million get you from equator to pole.) I think the climate modeling folk are referring to the whole earth surface when they talk about the .9 W/m^2 so the actual ocean has to work harder. According to my number of 3.1 W/m^2 for the whole earth, the actual rate into the ocean (2/3 of the earth surface) would need to be 1.33 times faster so it would be 4.7 W/m^2. Since NOAA was actually talking about ocean heat content, that would be the number to use, which is about same answer you came up with.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 15 Jan 2010 @ 3:33 PM

  150. 148: Cool. Err. Not what I meant. Thanks Ray Pierre! I’ll buy a copy when it comes out. I wasn’t after CO2 specific details. I was after “you put on a thicker blanket and you stay warmer” but unlike a real blanket we’re talking about a gas which sets its own height etc and instead of conduction it’s radiation etc. There’s a bunch of physics that goes into that simple statement and I’d like to know it. I look forward to your book.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 15 Jan 2010 @ 4:10 PM

  151. BPL (#126), yes, Canon 1370 should cover it.
    :)

    Comment by CM — 15 Jan 2010 @ 4:16 PM

  152. 128 Hank Roberts,

    I did look it up and do indeed understand, I think. Apparently my assumption about subtracting large numbers was wrong. 494-493 does not equal zero. The small difference of 1 (or as I understand now, .9) is actually what we are talking about. And thanks to you and Luke for goading me out of laziness so I actually did the calculation about what this means, as in my last.

    But the upshot of my last is that the number of .9 W/m^2 looks like an underestimate. Looking again at the NOAA chart, it looks like .9 would have been a good estimate for the rate from 1955 to 1995. And if extended to now, that would have led to an ocean heat content of about 4×10^23J. But oops, it has gone up a lot faster in the last 20 years. And as Luke and I calculated, the right number should be about 3.1 W/m^2 .

    I note in passing that when models work on such small differences, it is difficult to get great accuracy. I guess that is why we have giant computers working on this. But we should still be a little cautious.

    I am still looking for more discussion on how the ocean interface is handled, but for now it looks like the power of the ocean-wind interface has been underestimated in the models and the atmospheric temperature increase predictions are therefore a little high. Maybe the sea level increase predictions have been a little low. Ugh and argh!

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 15 Jan 2010 @ 4:23 PM

  153. This seems like a good thread to ask a question, though it may not be a very good question to ask, or at least not very well put.

    Background: A skeptical acquaintance has been insisting that the “greenhouse theory” requires the atmosphere to warm “from the outside in”, i. e. more warming aloft than at the surface, because “GHGs trap heat” and any additional heat-trapping will not take place near the surface where it’s already (near) saturated, but up high where additional GHGs make (more of) a difference. Ehm, right. So I explain about convection, the adiabat, back-radiation etc. etc. and eventually work my way up to the top of the atmosphere.

    But it left me wondering, are there circumstances, if only as a thought experiment about a different planet or a very crippled model of our own, in which my acquaintance would be right?

    Comment by CM — 15 Jan 2010 @ 4:38 PM

  154. PS. For clarity, my outside-in question above was not about enhanced warming aloft due to a shift toward the moist adiabat, as in the tropical troposphere ‘hot spot’ issue — that was not the mechanism envisaged by my acquaintance.

    Comment by CM — 15 Jan 2010 @ 4:46 PM

  155. http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/trenberth.papers/MonteVeritaPaper_ss_rev3.pdf

    “… Current global analyses of the atmosphere and the ocean contain spurious variability on decadal time scales that arises from inadequacies and changes in the observing system…. Results for ocean heat content are discussed in the light of recent corrections to ocean soundings and new ocean observations, and in the context of the thermosteric contributions to sea level rise.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jan 2010 @ 4:54 PM

  156. I have added “Principles of Planetary Climate” to my check out and probably buy list. This has been a good thread.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 15 Jan 2010 @ 5:11 PM

  157. CM (#153):

    On Earth at least, the whole troposphere pretty much warms up in concert as it is meshed together by convection. Over much of the globe the tendency is to keep the lapse rate near a moist adiabat and the IR heating pretty much just sets the intercept of the temperature profile. Your correspondent is probably trying to re-phrase the “tropical hotspot” line, whereby the upper tropical atmosphere is expected to be amplified in warming relative to the surface (the situation is opposite near the poles though). This issue generally comes down to model-obs validation and the quality of data in the tropics, and has nothing to do with a unique GHG “fingerprint” that we’re not seeing.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 15 Jan 2010 @ 6:32 PM

  158. CM says, “A skeptical acquaintance has been insisting that the “greenhouse theory” requires the atmosphere to warm “from the outside in”, i. e. more warming aloft than at the surface, because “GHGs trap heat” and any additional heat-trapping will not take place near the surface where it’s already (near) saturated, but up high where additional GHGs make (more of) a difference.”

    Huh?!? This is absurd on its face. More photons will always be trapped where the flux is greatest. Collisional relaxation will also be greatest where densities are highest. What is more, the effect doesn’t saturate even at low altitudes–you will absorb more photons in the wings of the spectral lines. Your acquaintance has no idea what he is talking about.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Jan 2010 @ 9:28 PM

  159. 141 Raypierre: The simple answer is that adding CO2 cools the stratosphere by increasing the infrared cooling, which makes it less stable and allows the tropospheric convection to reach to higher levels. That sounds pretty plausible, but it’s not as inevitable as it sounds, because the stratospheric cooling competes with other effects.

    Does not the stratosphere also absorb more energy that has been re-radiated downward from the upper atmosphere? Or, could you elaborate on the other effects?

    [Response: The part of the atmosphere above the stratosphere has very little infrared radiative effect, so you can pretty much ignore that. But I wish to emphasize that the factors determining the tropopause height are fairly subtle, and I’m sweeping a lot of issues under the rug when boiling this down to a one liner. Here’s another take on the behavior: When there’s enough CO2 in the stratosphere to overwhelm the effect of heating due to solar absorption by ozone or other solar-absorbing constitutents, the stratosphere reaches an equilibrium between absorption of upwelling infrared and radiative cooling by upward and downward emission of infrared radiation. In the limit where the stratosphere is optically thin in the infrared, the upwelling infrared is little affected by the stratosphere, so the skin temperature is fixed by the OLR, which in equilibrium is equal to absorbed solar radiation. This means the skin temperature remains fixed for a given planet, if you don’t change the albedo. Now, as you add greenhouse gas, you warm the surface, so the air has to rise further along the adiabat before it cools to the skin temperature and loses buoyancy. This solution, with an optically thin stratosphere, is the self-consistent one for common atmosphere-forming gases, though it is mathematically possible for the slope of the adiabat to be such that the stratosphere instead becomes optically thick and the troposphere becomes thin as you add more greenhouse gas. –raypierre]

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 15 Jan 2010 @ 9:39 PM

  160. CM, the closest would be Europa, a moon of Jupiter. The theory is that the cracks and features in the ice that cover it are from the water beneath heating and melting it.

    The heat is caused by tidal warping (friction), so it is internally produced.

    Here’s how to explain how the lower atmosphere gets hot, even though the solar radiation passes through the higher air to get there:

    On a sunny summer day the bottoms of our bare feet burn on the pavement, not the tops. That the snow stays on the top of the mountain even when the folks at the bottom are wearing t-shirts.

    The fundamental problem, of course, is the disconnect between actual greenhouses and the greenhouse effect. Greenhouses work in large measure because the air isn’t allowed to circulate freely, so there is no outward radiation and the air convects in a closed environment of the same atmospheric pressure.

    The actual atmosphere of the planet goes from very tiny densities to what we think of as normal pressure to where we are. Thicker stays hotter longer.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 15 Jan 2010 @ 10:58 PM

  161. The atmosphere is transparent to visible light.
    Visible light photons hitting the surface (water and land) transfer their energy to it — and the surface warms up. The surface warmth is radiated in the infrared (because “that’s how hot it is”). Greenhouse gases interact with infrared photons, on their way up from the surface.

    Argh. It’s nuts to try to retype this FAQ from memory. The Start Here button at the top of the page is a better place to look for these answers.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jan 2010 @ 11:56 PM

  162. 113 Philip, 127 Barton, 131 Goeff, 66 and 132 Ray

    Carbon dioxide has both vibrational (mostly near infrared) and rotational (mid-infrared) energy states that are excited by absorption of photons. The former is important for direct solar radiation, but the latter is the most important in reprocessing the radiation from earth and the atmosphere. The key point, and the essence of the science behind the “greenhnouse effect”, is that the radiative lifetimes of the excited vibrational and rotational states are much less than the collisional times with molecules in the atmosphere. Thus an excited CO2 molecule will undergo many collisions before it has a chance to radiate away its energy, and in the process will transfer kinetic (thermal) energy to the atmosphere This comes out of the quantum mechanical calculations, and represents the essential science behind the “greenhouse effect”. See my former comment #53 above.

    Comment by Richard Schwartz — 16 Jan 2010 @ 12:43 AM

  163. Similar to 158, shouldn’t a simple 1 absorption line 1 layer model produce the logarithmic dependency of forcing versus concentration? The simplest way to think of it to to consider the IR spectra to have two regions (1) wavelengths where the optical depth is less than one, and (2) wavelengths where the optical depth is greater than one. If the line shape is exponential, then the “width” of the line (in the sense of the width of set (2) above) varies as the exponent of the concentration. Thats why I get a disconnect whenever I hear the saturation argument.

    Comment by Thomas — 16 Jan 2010 @ 1:09 AM

  164. 159, Raypierre

    That will take a while to absorb, so to speak.

    I looked for your book at CUP, but couldn’t find it, at least not by name. I’ll look back later.

    yours truly,

    Matthew

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 16 Jan 2010 @ 2:52 AM

  165. Raypierre, what do you think of this book?

    Stochastic Physics and Climate Modelling
    Edited by Tim Palmer
    University of Oxford and European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Reading, UK
    Paul Williams
    National Centre for Atmospheric Science and University of Reading

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 16 Jan 2010 @ 2:56 AM

  166. John,

    Does this help at all?

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Saturation.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Jan 2010 @ 7:19 AM

  167. Frank: “Here’s how to explain how the lower atmosphere gets hot, even though the solar radiation passes through the higher air to get there:”

    I would ask you to figure out the effect since the moon’s pull on us is twice the Sun’s and Europa is close to a much heavier object than our moon.

    “The fundamental problem, of course, is the disconnect between actual greenhouses and the greenhouse effect.”

    Greenhouse != greenhouse effect.

    The Barbra Streisand effect doesn’t turn people trying to silence critics into singers, you know.

    “The actual atmosphere of the planet goes from very tiny densities to what we think of as normal pressure to where we are. Thicker stays hotter longer.”

    Denser is hotter:

    PV=nRT.

    Ideal Gas Law. The top of the atmosphere doesn’t have much bearing down on it so has low pressure. The bottom of the atmosphere has the entire weight of the air on it so has high pressure.

    And the only way to lose energy into space is to radiate.

    E=sT^4

    (yes, the PV=nRT is complicated by water phase change dumping potential energy into the air, but where and how quickly is based on the ideal gas law)

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Jan 2010 @ 8:01 AM

  168. CM: “as in the tropical troposphere ‘hot spot’ issue ”

    There is no hot spot issue.

    1) such a feature is a feature of any cause of global warming therefore its lack is not proof the sun’s doing it or GCRs or…

    2) such a feature cannot be discerned with the instruments and calibration of same because the errors in measurement and correlation with each other are far too large for the warm spot to be discerned

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Jan 2010 @ 8:05 AM

  169. Chris Colose, Ray Ladbury, Frank Giger, CFU — thanks.

    Chris, sorry I didn’t make this clearer and save you some typing, but I do understand about the troposphere warming as a unit due to convection, though my acquaintance did not. (I think he got his ideas from a dumbed-down explanation of GHGs “trapping heat”, without thinking about where that heat might go after being “trapped”, and combined with misinformation about the lower atmosphere being “saturated”, though he may also have heard something about the “hotspot” that he thought fitted.)

    My question was a hypothetical one about whether, on a sufficiently exotic planet or in a sufficiently incomplete model of our own planet (with convection suspended, for starters), there could be conditions where one would see a greater temperature change in higher layers than lower ones as more GHGs are added, and where the difference would somehow have to do with radiative absorption.

    I’m not sure from Ray’s reply if this question is absurd on its face, or only my acquaintance’s argument with regard to the Earth we live on, which was certainly a clueless one.

    Frank, thanks for trying to help, but I don’t think a tidally heated Europa comes into it, and “thicker stays hotter longer”.

    Completely Fed Up, yes, I am aware that the “hot spot” is not a “fingerprint” of greenhouse warming and that measurement errors so far do not let us resolve whether it’s shown up (I’ve read Thorne et al. 2007). I mentioned it only to say that this was probably not what my acquaintance was going on about, and not what I was asking about.

    I do understand that there are big holes in my understanding of radiative transfer that I should probably try to fill from a textbook, rather than by wasting you gentlemen’s time asking vague hypothetical questions on this blog.

    Comment by CM — 16 Jan 2010 @ 9:33 AM

  170. CM, there’s no way you can avoid convection unless there’s no temperature difference. Since that has to fit in space at about 3K, this would require a surface at 3K too…

    So it’s a non-starter, really.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Jan 2010 @ 10:45 AM

  171. CM, Ray Pierrehumbert does have a piece on ‘Science Fiction Atmospheres’ worth reading: http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/papers/BAMS_SFatm.pdf
    (He cautions that adding water to Dune could trigger a runaway greenhouse, for example; this geoengineering stuff always has to be thought through.)

    “If you have the choice between
    a hypothetical situation and
    a real one, choose the real one.”

    –Joan Baez to Michael Krasny; KQED Radio, 2003/02/04

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Jan 2010 @ 12:00 PM

  172. Correction to 162. The radiative lifetimes of the rotational and vibrational states are much LONGER than the the mean collision time between molecules.

    Comment by Richard Schwartz — 16 Jan 2010 @ 4:17 PM

  173. 171 Hank Roberts,

    There are some real questions to work on and some real possible solutions. Geoengineering stuff is a distraction.

    It reminds me of the story of the husband who bragged about how he and his wife shared the decision making process. He was in charge of the world nuclear military power balance and other cold war issues. She was in charge of where they lived, what cars they bought, what they ate, and when they went to bed at night.

    Geoengineering is, hopefully, not something that anyone will actually try to do. Acknowledging the reality of the CO2 imbalance, understanding how this will impact our lives, and finding practical solutions are things we might actually be able to do.

    Where climate modeling fits in this is a little uncertain. If you see my point in #152, you might think climate modeling is a little off, as it now stands. I say that temperature increases are over-predicted in light of the ocean heat content as shown by NOAA. This really simple discussion seemed important, but then we got off into other matters that most of us don’t seem to understand at all.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 16 Jan 2010 @ 4:45 PM

  174. Hi Ray,

    Nice to read your article.

    I agree with you that without taking the energy balance at TOA into consideration, the surface temperature change due to the increase of CO2 will be largely under-estimated if only the radiative energy balance at the surface is used and if the surface turbulent sensible and latent heat fluxes are not considered, because it is well-known the radiative forcing of 2CO2 is about 4 W/m^2 at TOA, but only about 1 W/m^2 at the surface.

    However, I wonder even the combined-TOA-surface radiative forcing is still not enough for explaining the surface temperature change. Maybe the continuous vertical structure of radiative forcing from doubling CO2 has to be taken into consideration. I mean the vertical structure of 2CO2 forcing as in Figure 2 of ( http://www.springerlink.com/content/6677gr5lx8421105/ ) with largest radiative heating in the lower troposphere and radiative cooling in the middle troposphere is essential to the surface temperature change.

    Suppose a radiative forcing with exactly same values at both TOA ( 4 W/m^2) and the surface ( 1 W/m^2) as that of doubling CO2, but the largest radiative heating is located in the mid or upper troposphere with radiative cooling in the lower troposphere, then the surface temperature change may be totally different to the warming in response to 2CO2, for the change in dynamics ( including the global energy and water cycle) in response to the supposed forcing is different from the one under 2CO2 forcing, though the forcings at TOA and at the surface are same.

    Comment by Jianhua Lu — 16 Jan 2010 @ 5:17 PM

  175. 174 Jianhua Lu,

    How can it be said that 1 W/m^2 “forcing” at the surface due to 2CO2 is well known (Is this 1985-2005 level?) when heat went into the ocean at a rate of 3.1 W/m^2 during this time?

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 16 Jan 2010 @ 6:27 PM

  176. To Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co @ 175:

    The ~ 1 W/m^2 is the radiative forcing at surface directly from doubling of CO2, but the heat went into the ocean can be at a a rate of 3.1 W/m^2 due to the net radiative effect at the surface of the changes in water vapor and clouds.

    Note the radiative perturbation at surface due to water vapor changes are much larger than that at TOA, according to the Figure 3 in http://www.springerlink.com/content/6677gr5lx8421105/ .

    Comment by Jianhua Lu — 16 Jan 2010 @ 8:05 PM

  177. Jim Bullis, judging just from the abstract there, they’re discussing
    “contributions from both radiative and non-radiative feedback processes”
    (which are different than the forcing). I haven’t seen the whole paper.
    But you know the difference between a forcing and a feedback.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Jan 2010 @ 8:28 PM

  178. I think I answered my own question. The 4 W/m^2 represents the rate of accumulation of all heat from top of atmosphere to center of the earth. So the 3.1 W/m^2 into the ocean comes from that budget. The .9 W/m^2 said to be at the earth surface is not really there at all. It is just the rate of heat going into the space from top of atmosphere to bottom of atmosphere.

    If the 10×10^23 Joules had not gone into the ocean over the last 20 years, that would have warmed the atmosphere about 7.5 deg C. As it is the .9 W/m^2 warmed the atmosphere about 2.5 deg C, according to my approximations.

    This explanation might only have meaning to others who find the “forcings” terminology hard to translate into ordinary physics terminology.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 16 Jan 2010 @ 8:56 PM

  179. 177 Hank Roberts,

    Thanks, but I showed in my last how poorly I understand this terminology.

    I guess the heat going into the ocean is a feedback. At least I would have suggested that with an arrow in that direction.

    Of course no one cares, but it is also conceptually awkward to say that a forcing occurs at a top of the atmosphere when that is only the place it is calculated. The effect is distributed to all points below. And the forcing at the earth’s surface is distributed from surface to top of atmosphere, and does not include effects going downward. I would say these definitions are badly done; a little late to complain of course.

    I had to spend a few hours sorting this out, and I hope I have it now. Thanks to the good spirit of this site, I am willing to put up with this.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 16 Jan 2010 @ 9:11 PM

  180. To Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. @178

    A good reference for some basic concepts on ” forcings” and “feedbacks” is

    S. Boby et al: How Well Do We Understand and Evaluate Climate Change Feedback Processes? J. Climate 2006, Vol 19: 3445-3482.

    http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1175%2FJCLI3819.1&ct=1

    Comment by Jianhua Lu — 16 Jan 2010 @ 9:12 PM

  181. Thank you Jianhua Lu. Don’t let us nonscientists clog up the thread, I hope we see conversation among the real scientists develop. The Boby paper is more than a long weekend’s reading. And it has been cited more than 100 times. More to read.
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=12071981717443458872&hl=en&as_sdt=2000

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Jan 2010 @ 10:08 PM

  182. Thank you, Hank.

    Sorry first for the typo, the first author of the paper I mentioned is S. Bony, not Boby. In the appendix of that paper, the authors give a very concise and clear discussion on the basic concepts, and I think it very helpful for readers interested in climate change science.

    For the radiative forcing due to doubling 2CO2, the allocation of the 4 W/m^2 at TOA is (roughly) that about 1W/m^2 at the land and ocean surface and 3 W/m^2 in the troposphere, especially in the lower troposphere.

    Comment by Jianhua Lu — 16 Jan 2010 @ 11:03 PM

  183. Thanks 180 Jianhua Lu and 181 Hank Roberts for the Boby reference.

    However, that paper confirms that the heat going into the ocean is not a feedback that is considered, as per my original point. And we see why there is no arrow going downward in the diagrams.

    Thus, the reference on this present site

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/updates-to-model-data-comparisons/

    that shows a large amount of heat going into the oceans, that is, 10×10^23Joules, is showing heat that is ignored. And there is a real reason to show the heat going down from the surface.

    All the talk about feedbacks seems to be ignoring a very important feedback.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 16 Jan 2010 @ 11:27 PM

  184. Re my last,

    The Bony paper acknowledges the prior use of the term “feedback” by Bode (1945) but curiously does not seem to notice that the Hansen (1984) usage is not at all consistent with that earlier usage.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 16 Jan 2010 @ 11:48 PM

  185. CFU, Hank,

    My question clearly was a non-starter and I’m not going to pursue it (but I appreciate the replies I got). Just two quick notes on your replies, then I’ll stop clogging up the thread.

    Hank #171, Ray P.’s essay on climate science in science fiction (sci-fi cli-sci?) is a gem, thanks for the pointer. (But even on Dune water-poisoning the sandworms was a more immediate problem than the runaway greenhouse…)

    Completely Fed Up #170, I understand that it’s hard to avoid convection playing a big role in a real atmosphere. But not because of “any” temperature difference: not where temperature increases with height, as in our dynamically stable stratosphere — which makes the temperature of space irrelevant to convection in our troposphere. Or am I missing something?

    In a more exotic vein, Ray Pierrehumbert describes in _Principles of Planetary Climate_ (s. 4.3, pp. 175-6 in the last draft I downloaded) a possible case of a gas or ice giant with an atmosphere optically thick in the infrared, with weak solar absorption, but yet deep enough that all solar radiation is absorbed; its deep atmosphere exhibits a strong greenhouse effect, is hot, and is isothermal, hence stable and will not generate a troposphere.

    So on my physics-for-poets level, I just got curious if there might also be a plausible planet with something like the behavior my acquaintance fancied. In any case, it’s clearly not this one.

    Comment by CM — 17 Jan 2010 @ 3:11 AM

  186. I am one of those infamous “non-scientist” interested spectators to this discussion, lured in by pure accident, having been curious to know why so many people have been coming to my post of animula blandula, vagula.

    Now I understand.

    There has been a call for observations concerning current climate trends, but I don’t see that anyone has noticed the development of a significant El Niño event in the Central Pacific, with powerful effects now beginning to be felt on the California coast (where I live). It’s already shaping up as a classic El Niño, the most potent in at least twelve years. I recognize that “scientists” don’t play hunches based on local experiential phenomena, but guess what? Normal humans do. And the news from here is: hey, something’s happening, and the only reason “scientists” haven’t been saying more about is that they didn’t see it coming.

    Comment by tom clark — 17 Jan 2010 @ 4:40 AM

  187. Seems we folk in Australia are about to be visited by Lord Christopher Monckton, (do you Brits really still use such titles??) who has sent an open letter to our prime minister Kevin Rudd claiming that even if the Copenhagen accord is fully implemented over the next decade, the effect on global warming is slight. Moncktons letter includes basic maths in the full version at http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/open_letter_rudd.html
    which has gained approving comment from the usual suspects, but has to be wrong by a couple of orders of magnitude given IPCC predictions. Can we have a rebuttal statement by someone who knows what he is talking about please? (preferably someone with an earned title!).

    [Response: Actually, “Lord Monckton” is completely made up as a title. The UK does not use ‘Lord’ in this sense. He is a viscount and although he stood for election to the House of Lords, he got no votes. He is not a ‘lord’ in any sense of the word. Neither is a he a ‘science advisor’, nor a ‘Nobel Laureate’. He is however, as good an argument for the abolition of hereditary peerages as I’ve ever seen. See Deltoid for a discussion of his maths errors. – gavin]

    Comment by Mike Williams — 17 Jan 2010 @ 6:49 AM

  188. The problem is that that thought experiment was so impossible you might as well say “and magic occurs”.

    Maybe a very simple maths idea:

    2+5=7

    What happens if you change just one thing?

    3+5=7

    therefore wrong.

    But you (and Rod B) want to say “no, but is there a way where you can change just one thing and the equation is still true?”.

    The answer is “no”.

    Even though Rod wants to say “how about

    2+5+0=7

    eh?”

    But doesn’t realise he’s changed two things:

    0 has been added

    + has been added

    And, in Rod’s case, he doesn’t see (or doesn’t want to say he sees) it.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 17 Jan 2010 @ 7:08 AM

  189. CM: “not where temperature increases with height, as in our dynamically stable stratosphere — which makes the temperature of space irrelevant to convection in our troposphere. Or am I missing something?”

    Yes, CM: how is the atmosphere that you’re talking about simple? The stratosphere is hotter because of the chemical constituents higher up can absorb visible light and are, therefore also greenhouse gases, just working on a different energy scale.

    And there’s still the driver of convection: temperature differences. And the space is cold, so the atmosphere will cool with height. Chemistry and photon absorption make the temperature profile much more detailed, but the gross picture has to be “cools with height” as long as the ground is at a higher temperature than the space it is sitting in.

    Or solid, I suppose.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 17 Jan 2010 @ 7:21 AM

  190. [Response: Actually, "Lord Monckton" is completely made up as a title....gavin]

    Although the BBC don’t agree and insist that using that monicker is pretending to be Christopher Monckton.

    They also consider “professor monckton” to be him, despite that not being his name, nor his title.

    But moderators are hidden on the BBC and unaccountable. And with that lack of accountability comes petty willy-waving and all you need is one of them to consider the above true and you’re canned.

    Go figure.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 17 Jan 2010 @ 7:24 AM

  191. PS that gas giant is really weird.

    How do you manage to get weak absorption of Vis, high absorbtion of IR AND thick enough to absorb within the atmosphere all Vis irradiation and yet not so thick that it is too heavy and is, instead, a star?

    It would have to be practically all one molecule type, else you have problems with differentials in absorber temperatures at different wavelengths that would break isothermality.

    But unless you picked a robust molecule, long before you get to 3 optical depths in some wavelengths, you’d have enough pressure/temperature to break the molecule up.

    As a theoretical, it is, I would suppose, possible. But you’d have to have a magic molecule.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 17 Jan 2010 @ 7:37 AM

  192. Now, I don’t think the Elelphant Man looks anything like an elephant either, so consider this:
    -There is a general 50-60 yr cycle of temps, and we were warming from roughly 1980 to 2005, and are now apparently into the cooling half of the current cycle.
    -Sometimes the trivial needs to be stated explcitly: if temps are stable, then energy in = energy out. If we’re warming, then energy out < energy in.
    -The observation that we had been warming only suggests the latter. It in no way proves or disproves any particular mechanism. The "explanation" in the article only assumes CO2 to be responsible.
    -The rather poor correlation between temp trends & [CO2] over the past century or so should make us consider factors other than CO2 to be more important in the process.

    Comment by g LaMoto — 17 Jan 2010 @ 7:41 AM

  193. See also:

    http://www.altenergyaction.org/Monckton.html

    For a treatment on Monckton’s errors.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 17 Jan 2010 @ 7:44 AM

  194. A hello to Tom Clark, glad the pointer brought people there and you here.
    And thank you for something else I found at your page there:
    Yourcenar’s words “let us try, if we can, to enter death with open eyes.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Jan 2010 @ 8:24 AM

  195. g LaMoto,
    Wrong on almost all counts

    1)”There is a general 50-60 yr cycle of temps…”

    Nope!
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/cyclical-probably-not/
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/12/22/cyclical-not/

    2)”Sometimes the trivial needs to be stated explcitly…”

    This is the only point you got right. Congrats!

    3)”The “explanation” in the article only assumes CO2 to be responsible.”

    Nope!
    CO2 is a has been known to be a greenhouse gas since the 1850s, and anthropogenic CO2 was predicted to cause warming in 1896. Please, please, please read this:

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html

    4)”The rather poor correlation between temp trends & [CO2] over the past century or so…”

    Well, damn! Wrong again.

    http://bartonpaullevenson.com/Correlation.html

    Given that you got every point wrong–and badly so–except the most trivial, why not go to the Start Here button and begin learning the science?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Jan 2010 @ 9:22 AM

  196. Gavin says, “Actually, “Lord Monckton” is completely made up as a title. ”

    Actually, it’s completely understandable that he should make this mistake. For years, wherever he shows up, people have been saying, “Oh, Lord…”

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Jan 2010 @ 9:24 AM

  197. Tom Clark says, “I recognize that “scientists” don’t play hunches based on local experiential phenomena, but guess what? Normal humans do. And the news from here is: hey, something’s happening, and the only reason “scientists” haven’t been saying more about is that they didn’t see it coming.”

    OK, scientists predicted this El Nino about 5 months before it actually happened. And you are taking us to task because we didn’t force our way into the living room of every American, hit them upside the head with a two-by-four to rip their attention away from American Idol and say, “Hey, we think it’s going to get warmer…”?

    I’m sorry, but at a certain point you just have to wonder whether the species is too stupid to survive.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Jan 2010 @ 9:40 AM

  198. tom clark@186
    As another “non-scientist” on the Canadian coast north of you, I have been paying attention, and don’t find it’s current condition “significant” in isolation to much except the 2010 Olympics. Investigate the science yourself [links to the right or "start here" above] to put to rest uneducated assertions about what scientists have been saying – any El Niño event is “classic”, and many of we “normal humans” consider “something’s happening” as very old “news”.

    Comment by flxible — 17 Jan 2010 @ 10:45 AM

  199. Tom Clark @186 said:
    “There has been a call for observations concerning current climate trends, but I don’t see that anyone has noticed the development of a significant El Niño event in the Central Pacific, with powerful effects now beginning to be felt on the California coast (where I live). It’s already shaping up as a classic El Niño, the most potent in at least twelve years. I recognize that “scientists” don’t play hunches based on local experiential phenomena, but guess what? Normal humans do. And the news from here is: hey, something’s happening, and the only reason “scientists” haven’t been saying more about is that they didn’t see it coming.”
    —-

    Not sure what you mean by “they didn’t see it coming”, or that no one is paying attention. To the contrary…

    From December 16, 2008, NASA GISS Surface Temperature Analysis

    “Summary: The Southern Oscillation and increasing GHGs continue to be, respectively, the dominant factors affecting interannual and decadal temperature change. Solar irradiance has a non-negligible effect on global temperature [see, e.g., ref. 7, which empirically estimates a somewhat larger solar cycle effect than that estimated by others who have teased a solar effect out of data with different methods]. Given our expectation of the next El Niño beginning in 2009 or 2010, it still seems likely that a new global temperature record will be set within the next 1-2 years, despite the moderate negative effect of the reduced solar irradiance.”

    (my emphasis)

    See also this latest NOAA report. NOAA observed that ENSO had switched into the El Nino mode about last June.

    Comment by Spaceman Spiff — 17 Jan 2010 @ 10:48 AM

  200. Dont spend time and energy on ‘Monckton’, just concentrate on the science. The number of posts increasing on here about this guy begins to look like paranoia ! Not needed…..

    Comment by Bill — 17 Jan 2010 @ 10:55 AM

  201. @186 Tom Clark
    Down in my part of the world the current El Nino has been part of the seasonal outlook report of the Bureau of Meteorology site for quite a while:
    http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/

    I’m not sure it’s hugely relevant to climate change, except that it seems to be coming more often. Perhaps someone can comment on its frequency.

    Comment by Sou — 17 Jan 2010 @ 11:09 AM

  202. “-There is a general 50-60 yr cycle of temps, and we were warming from roughly 1980 to 2005″

    And the causation is..?

    You need this to ascertain whether it explains the changes or not.

    What you do is you find out the strength and direction of the causation, plug in the changes as measured and find out whether, after these causes are taken out of the data, the remainder is flat.

    If it is flatter but still rising, then they are not sufficient cause. If the causations to not make the shape flatter, then they are not provable causes.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 17 Jan 2010 @ 11:13 AM

  203. Dont spend time and energy on ‘Monckton’, just concentrate on the science. The number of posts increasing on here about this guy begins to look like paranoia! Not needed….

    Bingo. Same goes for a number of other fools.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 17 Jan 2010 @ 11:23 AM

  204. 182 Jianhua Lu

    Thanks for responding.

    However, if 3 W/m^2 went into the troposphere for 20 years, that troposphere would have to have warmed by about 10 degrees C over that time.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 17 Jan 2010 @ 4:06 PM

  205. Jim Bullis, heat doesn’t stay in one place for 20 years to ‘add up’– the way you’re doing the arithmetic just fails.

    I’m done replying to those ideas here. Good luck with it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Jan 2010 @ 4:23 PM

  206. 166: Barton, I like your absorption page a lot. Yes it does help. But what I don’t see in it is this whole bit about increasing the scale height of the atmosphere by adding CO2. The climate guys have this picture they present that is pretty simple. It’s basically “add some more feathers to your down comforter and the outer liner expands a little bit and keeps you warmer”. It sounds entirely plausible but I’ve never seen it worked out in a version that doesn’t require computers but I think that such a simple picture must have an analytic formulation. I reckon this stuff is in books but I think I’ll wait for Raymond’s book to come out since Goody’s book is $115 used on Amazon.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 17 Jan 2010 @ 10:57 PM

  207. JEP: “It sounds entirely plausible but I’ve never seen it worked out in a version that doesn’t require computers”

    That’s because the detail you’re looking for requires a lot of sums to be made.

    Take those computer programs and look at the maths in it. Then work through the maths. Then you’ll have seen it worked out without a computer.

    This could take weeks, mind.

    Alternatively, you can just take the result from the computers calculations.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 18 Jan 2010 @ 4:32 AM

  208. g Lamoto: The rather poor correlation between temp trends & [CO2] over the past century or so…

    BPL: Read and learn:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Correlation.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Jan 2010 @ 4:50 AM

  209. Thank you very much, Hank Roberts, for noticing the magnificent, if entirely unscientific, Marguerite Yourcenar line.

    And thank you, Ray Ladbury, for your lovely condescension.

    I don’t know what American Idol is. Perhaps you could inform me, Ray.

    I follow the longterm forecasts like everyone else. Plenty of hedging of bets around the longterm forecasts of a “weak-to-moderate” El Niño cycle, since last Fall.

    And thank you, too, flxible, for informing me that “any El Nino event is ‘classic’”.

    Perhaps, though, some classics are more classical than others. I’ve seen four or five big El Niño events affecting this coast. The last big one was 1998.

    We have been told that this one would be “weak-to-moderate”.

    Is it still looking that way?

    Do forgive the non-scientific source (StormSurf) and the perhaps offensive-to-some term “classic” in the following report, dated 1/14/10:

    “Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (1/14) indicates that warmer than normal waters were consolidated on the equator from the Galapagos Islands west to the dateline and even west of there, and holding. A new strong Kelvin Wave has erupted along the coast and some evidence of it can be seen with a most solid warm anomaly signature present over and just west of the Galapagos Islands. It is expected that water temps will continue to increase yet more over the coming weeks as this Kelvin Wave and a new one continues impacting the coast there. This is classic El Nino.

    “This appears to be a late blooming ENSO event.

    “El Nino is affecting the global atmospheric weather pattern at this point in time and is expected to continue having an impact into the Summer of 2010. This suggests that not only will the winter and spring storm pattern be enhanced in the North Pacific, but also the early summer storm track in the South Pacific too.

    “A solid accumulation of warm surface water in the equatorial East Pacific and a solid pool of warm subsurface water is evidence in-favor of continued development of El Nino. As long as there continues to be WWB’s [Westerly Wind Bursts], then warm water will be migrating east, and the warm water pattern will hold if not build, and the atmosphere above it will respond in-kind to the change (towards El Nino). We expect one last shot at another Kelvin Wave from the current Active Phase in-play now (Jan 2010) and then the slow degradation will begin in the ocean. But the atmosphere is already be strongly influenced by the warm water buildup over the past 6 months, and it will not return to a normal state for quite some time. This El Nino it is already larger and stronger than any other in the past 12 years.”

    By the way, it’s raining cats and dogs and blowing hard this morning. (He said very unscientifically.)

    Comment by tom clark — 18 Jan 2010 @ 6:16 AM

  210. CFU,

    #188 (“+ has been added”) — that’s the weirdest arithmetic I’ve seen since a certain viscount calculated climate sensitivity.

    #189 — Why would the atmosphere need to be “simple”?

    #207 (“magic molecule”) — You may well be right. Raypierre’s inline reply to you in another context at #141 is relevant.

    Comment by CM — 18 Jan 2010 @ 8:46 AM

  211. Tom Clark, I’m sorry the world is not as simple as you would desire. However, in a system as complicated as the coupled ocean and atmosphere, a 5 month prediction or a 5-day storm track are pretty goddamned good. The fact of the matter is that everyone seems to be demanding that they be able to understand the science. Well, the science can only be dumbed down so much, so the only solution is for people to wise up.

    If people want better forecasting: Great, ask your legislators to increase your tax rate so we can afford more research. If they want to understand the science: Great, there’s a wonderful “Start Here” page on this very site. People need to stop expecting reality to comform to their prejudices. Then they need to stop expecting to be spoonfed reality.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Jan 2010 @ 9:11 AM

  212. Tom Clark,

    Forgive me if I misread you, but judging from your strident asides you seem to think non-scientists are frowned on here, or that one has to express oneself somehow “scientifically” to pass muster. This simply is not the case, and any issues you may have with not being a scientist really are your own. But if you start out with confident assertions about the scientists getting this or that wrong, you’d better have your facts straight.

    Comment by CM — 18 Jan 2010 @ 9:11 AM

  213. tom clark – It’ll be another few weeks before the Jan data is added to the chart, but currently El Nino is running neck n neck with 2002, and while it’s “weaker” than ’97/’98, the El Nino in ’82/’83 was also stronger than current while winding up quite the same as ’98

    It’s also currently pouring and blowing a gale way north of you, nearly identical to conditions here in Jan ’98, so again, old news to folks who’ve been paying attention – like South American fisher folk

    Comment by flxible — 18 Jan 2010 @ 9:15 AM

  214. “that’s the weirdest arithmetic I’ve seen since a certain viscount calculated climate sensitivity.”

    Only because it’s an extremely simple analogy.

    2 + 5 = 7

    change one thing: add a 0:

    20 + 5 = 7

    ?

    So when rod or yourself say “well, what if we changed just one thing: convection”, that isn’t changing one thing. It’s changing a whole raft of things.

    Because convection isn’t a single thing: it’s a result of multiple processes.

    Removing that means changing each and every one of those processes.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 18 Jan 2010 @ 9:50 AM

  215. “And thank you, Ray Ladbury, for your lovely condescension.” tom says, condescendingly…

    When someone turns up and states something categorically as true, then they’d better be enough of a speci alist in it to be able to use authority to carry the statement.

    There is no royal road to education. And blank statements are the opposite of erudition.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 18 Jan 2010 @ 9:52 AM

  216. [There is some discussion of this in Ramanathan's paper where he rediscovers Sagan's window-grey model without knowing Sagan did it first, but it's not widely known. So I put it in Chapter 4 of Principles. --raypierre]

    I remember some about that proposition, Raypierre, but at the time it was in pretty much the same league as his Jovian Gas Bags (unfairly touted as crackpoterry by his detractors because he said at the time it was hugely unlikely that such a being would exist there).

    Such a place would, I think, be somewhat similar to the Discworld that T Pratchett makes, not in the fantasy books of the same series name, but in his more scifi work called “Strata”.

    Have a read if you get a chance. Hand-waving with science taking the place of magic, but still magic, just scientific magic.

    [Response: I don’t think you’re thinking of the same paper I’m thinking of . Sagan’s window-grey model wasn’t at all fanciful. It was a straightforward radiative-transfer paper employing the assumption that the absorber was a grey-gas within a limited subset of the infrared, but transparent outside. It’s an appealing model to rediscover. Rodrigo Caballero and I rediscovered it when we were writing our overly long QJRMS article on the dry Hadley cell (it was just a means to the end of getting the tropopause height more realistic in a grey model), then found that Weaver and Ram had done it. But then when writing the book I stumbled on the fact that Sagan had done it in the 1960′s. Who knows, if we look harder maybe we’ll find that Hulbert did it in the 1930′s for all I know. Whereever it comes from, it’s a good model to know, and important to have in one’s analytic toolkit. –raypierre]

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 18 Jan 2010 @ 10:05 AM

  217. 205 Hank Roberts,

    Of course heat does not stay in the troposphere that long. But if there is a net of 3 W/m^2 going into something, it has to warm up. My conditional statement was my way of demonstrating that the 3 W/m^2 could not be correct.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 18 Jan 2010 @ 10:16 PM

  218. I’m disturbed to see the conversation with Tom Clark start off so badly. He wasn’t, after all, making claims about science, only about his perceptions of how other people see science.

    Ray L’s response, while true in every detail

    “Great, ask your legislators to increase your tax rate so we can afford more research. If they want to understand the science: Great, there’s a wonderful “Start Here” page on this very site. People need to stop expecting reality to comform to their prejudices. Then they need to stop expecting to be spoonfed reality.”

    is unhelpful with respect to tone.

    That said, thanks all for a fascinating thread with many useful leads and clues.

    Comment by Michael Tobis — 19 Jan 2010 @ 12:52 AM

  219. I will be closing this discussion soon, since I don’t like to leave threads open that I don’t have time to moderate or respond to. My thanks to everybody for their comments. Meanwhile, for fans of Hedgehogs, I heartily recommend
    Muriel Barbery’s novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog (or the original
    Folio edition in French, l’Elegance du Herisson). Very interesting to think about where the Hedgehog is, since Barbery doesn’t clobber you with it.

    Comment by raypierre — 19 Jan 2010 @ 1:43 AM

  220. [Response: I don't think you're thinking of the same paper I'm thinking of .]

    It wasn’t a paper (as in written up etc), but more of a story.

    It may have been from a (very old) Scientific American (one of my mates loves it, and I’ve read a few), but it was that level of detail.

    Mind you, that model would still have stratification because the temperature profile and mixing level that blocks that temperature IR band change independently and so you’d still get a convective atmosphere.

    (I did work on stellar atmospheres and looked into the possibilities of a 4billion km diameter giant sun which is as close as possible to isothermal over the convective distance at that pressure. Dammed if I can remember, that example at the time was a hypothesis, there are other more reliable examples nowadays and maybe someone has done more work on the phenomena. In either case, it’s a source of power rather than a receptor/emiter)

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 19 Jan 2010 @ 4:28 AM

  221. Tom C.
    – nothing at all unscientific about the Yourcenar line. I intend to quote it in my end-of-life planning document, to try to avoid what I’ve seen Hospice do to several people, dosing them to “reduce anxiety” to the point of stupor when they really wanted to die with their eyes open. That’s not just poetry, it’s a medical directive.

    As to the El Nino, I’ve been here for all of them for more than 30 years, and I’ve seen much worse, but at any point on the ground it’s weather, no matter how intense. We’ll have to look back once it’s over to know.

    Hang in here for a while, watch us non-scientists struggling to understand and explain what’s going on when we know the real answers take both an understanding of math and a good bit of computer time to do it; finding words to express something “well enough” is a major challenge. To quote myself from a long while ago, although others have said the same thing in similar words: Mathematical physics without the math is poetry, at best.

    We need people who can write the “poetry, at best” to explain the notions the physicists are trying to tell us they’ve been learning. Have a look at the infrared radiative transfer discussions for example. We barely know what a photon is, or a molecule, and are trying to explain to each other how a photon can interact with a greenhous gas molecule. The physicists describe what happens mathematically. We don’t have _words_ for all this and we desperately need them, because we have been changing the world — and need to understand what we’re doing.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Jan 2010 @ 5:17 AM

  222. Re: hedgehogs,

    Since no one else has, let me also mention S. J. Gould’s posthumous _The Hedgehog, the Fox and the Magister’s Pox_, of particular interest perhaps to us humanities folks who like to listen in on natural scientists and wonder if we’re engaged in the same endeavor. It has a different take on “consilience” (a principle occasionally invoked on this site) from that given wide circulation by E. O. Wilson.

    Comment by CM — 19 Jan 2010 @ 5:46 AM

  223. Raypierre, I would like to understand adiabatic lapse rates of +4 or +5C/km in the lower Arctic troposphere , without heavy or no water vapour content… Are radiative transfers respunsible? Is there something replacing water vapour as reducing the value of a dry adiabatic lapse rate?

    Comment by wayne davidson — 19 Jan 2010 @ 7:35 AM

  224. Michael Tobis and Hank Roberts,

    Thanks very much for your courtesy. This thread has led me to do a bit of useful studying on a subject that matters a great deal to everyone on the planet.

    It also matters a great deal to me personally, if I may say so.

    And by the way, a final anecdotal aside: Wow, is it coming down here at the moment, an absolute monsoon, shades of 1982. Explanations are beside the point when your house is slipping down a hillside.

    Beautiful about the end-of-life planning document, Hank. I could use one of those myself. And that Marguerite Yourcenar was one tough cookie. She may even have known a thing or two Kübler-Ross didn’t.

    I would hope poetry and science will one day learn to lie down together in peaceful mutual understanding, who on earth would not benefit from that?

    Comment by tom clark — 19 Jan 2010 @ 12:24 PM

  225. wayne,

    The 6.5 K/km average for Earth’s troposphere is just that–an average. The exact rate depends on local temperature, pressure, and humidity, and ranges from about 4.75 K/km near the ground to nearly adiabatic (9.77 K/km) near the tropopause.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 20 Jan 2010 @ 5:44 AM

  226. 226.. Much Thanks Barton. This 6.75 K/Km is likely including moisture , every thing. I do get 9.8 C/Km
    off the ground and near the trop. The just of my question is this, if there is no moisture at all, a dry atmosphere, in darkness, during the long night of Antarctica and the Arctic there are dry lapse rates
    of 4 C/Km , no inversion, not an Isotherm. I am particularly interested in CO2 impact on the lapse rates if any. Would Greenhouse gases affect the lapse rate? If they do, I observe this dry 4 C/KM always below mid troposphere levels, sometimes above… I am wondering if this may be caused by green house gases. Remember , pure darkness, no solar input, no ground heating. Just occasional advection from the South…

    Comment by wayne davidson — 20 Jan 2010 @ 12:00 PM

  227. Goodness BPL — it is not as if Kate used inches instead of millimeters to calculate a Mars trajectory. I’m glad someone threw the Greek in there.

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 20 Jan 2010 @ 8:21 PM

  228. oh, yeah, and raypierre, congratulations on this book! sounds great!

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 20 Jan 2010 @ 8:22 PM

  229. wayne,

    The adiabatic lapse rate is just g/cp where g is the gravity and cp the specific heat at constant pressure–but that’s only accurate for a dry atmosphere. For an atmosphere with a condensible substance in it, like water vapor, you need the much more complicated expression for the saturated lapse rate.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 21 Jan 2010 @ 6:34 AM

  230. A question for Gavin: Will your book discuss the difference between winter and summer global warming? I gather that essentially ALL the warming effect occurs in winter, and I believe this is because of the seasonal change in water vapor concentration.

    It is also worth noting that some of the earth’s radiation escapes along the edge of the CO2 absorption bands, close to the radiative window, and the intensity of the escaping radiation in this band is quite sensitive to CO2 concentration, while intensity in the center of the CO2 band depends solely on the temperature of the lower stratosphere.

    Comment by Peter Offenhartz — 24 Jan 2010 @ 3:17 PM

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